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"The Time Eater?" Tavia asked. "We're talking about the one from the stories about the Grand Hero right?"

Evos met Tavia's eyes, but after only a moment, he looked away, focusing his gaze on Savin once more. Tavia glowered in his direction, but Evos either didn't notice, or didn't care.

Abram stepped away from the table, and under the watchful eyes of everyone in the lab, walked over to a large, metal cabinet standing against one of the dark walls. Though the table in the center of the room—and Savin sleeping upon it—was clearly the most important thing in the chamber at the moment, it was clear that hadn't always been the case. Despite the overwhelming strangeness of this room, it was still a lab, functional as the one in the institute above them.

He took something small from the cabinet, and carried it back to Tavia and the rest. He held it up for everyone to see. It was a small vial, and he let them get a good look before he lowered it.
The vial was small, barely as long as Tavia's hand and as wide as her thumb, and the glowing liquid inside the vial only filled half of it. The mixture was pulsing with a cyan radiance. Liquid Althier, but even her inexperienced eyes could tell it wasn't pure—the vibrancy was dulled and the blue darker than it should have been.

"This is something I've been developing," Abram said. "It's a serum that will suppress the Demi soul within Savin."

"Suppress it?" Tavia asked. "You mean make it weaker so Savin can get back control of his body."

Abram nodded. "If Savin can regain full control, Dieos's soul will have no choice but to leave the body and wait for another suitable vessel, or be destroyed if it continues to fight."

"I doubt Dieos would take that risk," Evos said. "He never was one to expose himself to needless danger."

"You know him?" Tavia asked.

"I...well..." Evos wouldn't look at Tavia.

His gaze locked onto something only he could see. Some distant memory, a sad one, if the small frown and the creases around his narrowed eyes were anything to go by. The Grand Hero? Evos had been found in the Grand Hero's tomb, and supposedly the Ageless Sword had been the weapon used by that same hero. The hero who had fought the Time Eater, and died. Oh, of course he didn't want to talk about it.

Tavia looked down at her hand, remembering the feeling, the weight, of the Ageless Sword in her fingers. The last person to use the sword had been a nationally acclaimed hero, someone who was now a legend. Tavia had grown up on stories of the Grand Hero. Why was she of all people the one Evos was following around? If you had to compare her to a legend, it was no wonder Ikarios had seemed so disgruntled.

"Why were you studying this Dieos thing if it's so dangerous?" Izak asked.

"All research requires risks," Abram said. "Dieos has the ability to control time, and I would think it's obvious that the possible rewards outweigh the risks. Can you imagine if we could learn how his ability works? If Artifacts could be made based on that ability?"

"Are you talking about time-travel?" Tavia asked.

Abram shook his head. "Dieos's power is nothing so fanciful, only the ability to manipulate time within a certain radius of himself, but even so, imagine being able to stop or slow the time of the ill or injured? Even if we weren't able to actually reverse their time to heal them, just stopping the bleeding could make all the difference in survival rates."

That still sounded plenty fanciful to Tavia. What made stopping time more fanciful than traveling through time?

"I guess that would be a great thing," Izak said, and then fell silent.

No one said anything else. It certainly seemed like a wonderful thing, too wonderful perhaps, and Tavia wasn't sure what to think. Messing with time? Magic could do that? Tavia had never heard of anything like that. Granted, she had never heard of magic that could control the mind of its target, but she had personally experienced that, hadn't she? It was beginning to feel like everything she had even known about magic had been thrown out the window in the last two days, and from the taut, pale faces of her friends, it would seem they were feeling the same.

She glanced at Evos. His face was drawn, and he still had that far away expression, looking at Savin on the bed without really seeing him.

"Evos?" Tavia asked.

Evos's mouth twitched into a frown, and then he looked at Tavia.

"Some things are better left alone," he said. "Some things just aren't worth it."

Abram smirked and then shrugged.

"Advancement comes at a price," he said. "But I would prefer my son not to be the one who pays it."

"So, if you have that serum, why haven't you used it yet?" Audri asked.

"It isn't finished yet," he replied. "The Althier content is still too high. It's a difficult balance."

"Is he supposed to drink that?" Tavia asked with a shudder, and beside her, both Izak and Audri made disgusted faces.

"No, it should just need contact with the skin," he said. "Ingesting it or injecting it would be too hard on the body."

"So what do you need from us?" Izak asked. "It can't be help with finishing that."

"The serum is a few days from completion," Abram said, "and until that time, Savin is here, exposed, and clearly Ikarios has already discovered where this lab is located, even if he hasn't been able to get in. Though I now realize my security isn't as thorough as it could be."

Tavia didn't miss the guilty grimace on Audri's face, but she wasn't about to point fingers.

"Ikarios intends to revive Dieos," Abram said. "I'm not certain what his reasoning is, but it won't be good for anyone if Dieos actually gains control over Savin's body."

"I know I'm the last person who wants to ask this, but why not ask the Shields for help?" Audri asked.

"As I'm sure you can imagine, this would be difficult to explain," Abram said with a sweeping gesture towards Savin. "Though Demis are not any kind of secret, there aren't many who know of them—I suspect Ikarios might have something to do with that. And I doubt even you thre—four, would have believed me, if you hadn't run into Ikarios before this."

That much was probably true. Tavia was having trouble believing Abram even after learning her new sword could turn into a man, and that there was a mind-controlling child running around stabbing people.

"So, what, you want us to protect Savin until you finish the serum?" Tavia asked.

Abram nodded.

"It should only be for a few days. Once the serum is completed and Dieos driven out of my son, Ikarios is sure to back off," he said. "After that, you don't ever have to deal with me or the Demis again."

"I have to work," Audri said. "I can't just ditch my job."

"I'm in charge of the Artifact Research division," Abram said. "I'm sure I can commandeer one of my own employees for a few days."

"Oh. Then yeah, I'm in," Audri said with a grin. She turned to Izak. "What about you?"

"Um..." Izak grimaced and glanced at Tavia.

She shrugged back. It wasn't her problem if he couldn't say no to a pretty girl. He frowned and then looked back at Audri again. Her smiled widened, if that was even possible, and Izak sighed.

"Fine, I'll do it," he said.

"And you?" Abram asked, looking at Tavia.

His words were very quiet and calm, but she could see a need in his eyes. He was really only asking her. The other two were just extras. Tavia wasn't sure she liked that, and she was definitely sure she couldn't meet his expectations.

It was hard to even understand what those expectations were. Tavia could hardly use the sword. She knew how to fight, how to use a sword, but not magic. This Artifact thing, this channeling thing, was entirely knew to her. What was he possibly expecting out of someone like her?

"I—"

"We'll do it," Evos said. He looked in Tavia's direction, silencing her protests with the determination in his silver eyes. "I don't know what Ikarios wants with Dieos, but it can't be good. We can't let Ikarios take Savin."

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