Ikarios stood in the middle of the bedroom floor, his expression light and easy as if he wasn't standing before the very people he had fought only the day before. He looked about the room, taking in his surroundings with a small smile. Evos had stepped away from the middle of the room, coming to stand beside Tavia near the open balcony window while she kept a watchful eye on the boy before her.

"What are you doing here?" she snarled. "How did you find me?"

Ikarios stopped his examination of the room. He faced Tavia and Evos, his back to the bedroom door.

"Renegarde?" he said with a short laugh. "How hard do you think it is to find this ostentatious place?"

She didn't ask how he knew her last name. She probably wouldn't like his answer.

"Isn't it reckless to burst into the home of your enemy?" Tavia asked. "Seems like a bad idea to me."

Ikarios scoffed at her, and then gave her a rough shrug. His mouth stretched into a wide grin as he chuckled.

"I'm not afraid of you," he said, "and besides, you two aren't really my enemies."

"Not your—?" Tavia began. She shook her head. "What about the people you've hurt? What about—"

"I haven't hurt anyone who hasn't deserved it," Ikarios snapped before she could finish. "And more importantly, I didn't come here to talk to you." His focus shifted to Evos. "I came to talk to him."

Tavia looked over at Evos. A look of disgust had crept onto his face as he looked down at the boy.

"Don't give me that look, Evos," Ikarios said. "I'm not sure why you dislike me so much, but isn't it about time you got over it?"

"You're a liar," Evos replied. "And always too eager to manipulate people. I can't stand that."
Ikarios shrugged.

"I didn't realize you were so kind-hearted. Regardless, if we want to survive, I don't have any other choice. It's not my fault if the humans can't protect themselves." He smiled again. Though this really should have been a dangerous situation for him, he was enjoying this far too much.

"There aren't enough Demis around for you to keep being stubborn," he said. "We need to stand together."

Demi? Tavia's head whipped around to look at Evos. His silver eyes met Tavia, and his mouth narrowed while he tried to avoid answering. But Tavia wouldn't relent until he gave her an answer. Eventually, he caved and gave a small nod of his head.

"Oh?" Ikarios said after watching the interaction. "You didn't know?" he asked Tavia.

Tavia didn't give him the pleasure of an answer, but Ikarios just snickered. Though he looked like a child, his demeanor was that of someone far older and far more cocky than any twelve year-old could even hope to emulate. Though she'd thought she grow used to the juxtaposition, her unease was only growing worse every time they met. Even know, a small part of her just wanted to drive him from the house without hearing anything he had to say simply on account of him being creepy. She restrained herself though with the memory of the sleeping Izak, and the fear that he would never wake.

"Demis aren't always in human form," Ikarios said. "I'm not sure what you've heard about us, but did you really think humans had the ability to create a weapon like the Ageless Sword?"

Evos was a Demi? Tavia looked down at the floor. It made sense; she should have realized it before to be honest. There were so many things about the sword that were simply impossible. The Jumps to start with, that was something no magic she'd ever heard of could do, and of course, Evos himself was proof the Ageless Sword was more than an average alther weapon.

"Why didn't you say anything?" she asked without meeting Evos's eyes.

"What was there to say?" he replied. "Just because I'm a Demi doesn't change the fact that I'm here to support you."

"But aren't the Demis the enemy?"

"Typical," Ikarios sneered. "I should have known better than to expect more out of a human. Always just lumping all Demis together."

He took a step back, toward the door, and looked at Evos.

"Are you really sure you want to stay with her? I'm sure we could find someone better suited for you."

Tavia wasn't looking at Evos, so she didn't see his response. He didn't speak, but his expression must have been enough of an answer for Ikarios to know, and it was clear he didn't like it.

"Fine, if that's how you want to be," he snapped, then sighed and put a hand to his head. In any other situation, it would have been a comical movement for a twelve year-old, but Tavia's head was too full of information and worry to find humor in anything. After a moment, he lowered his hand and glared up at Tavia.

"I suppose at this point, neither of you will trust anything I say."

"I think that goes without saying," she told.

"Then how about this," he said, hands spread wide as if trying to show his innocence. "I'll show you where I'm keeping Dieos. In exchange you have to agree to listen to what I have to say about all of this."

Tavia glanced at Evos. He was looking away from her, but she could see the tension in his shoulders. He didn't want her to agree? But this was probably going to be their best shot at finding out where Savin was. Besides, she only had to listen; it wasn't like she had to agree with what Ikarios said.

"Fine," Tavia said. "So where is he?"

"Not so fast," Ikarios said holding up a hand to forestall her.

He held up a folded note, pulled from a pocket without her even noticing. He held it out to her, waiting for Tavia to take the scrap of paper. She stepped forward, on edge, and snatched the paper from his fingers before backing away. With his hands now empty, he held up two fingers.

"In two days, come to the place marked on that paper. I'll meet you there and guide you to Savin."

She unfolded the paper and glanced down at it. It was an address, unfamiliar, but somewhere in the city.

"Two days?" she asked as she folded the note back up. "Why not right now?"

"As I told you, you won't trust anything I say right now," Ikarios said. "Think about what I've said. Maybe talk to your friend over there"—his eyes flicked towards Evos and then back to Tavia—"and we'll talk once I've shown you where Dieos is. Maybe then you'll actually consider listening."

Ikarios took a step forwards, his gaze moving from Tavia to the balcony door behind her.

"Wait, I'm not—" The words froze in her throat and her entire body became stiff.

Tavia struggled to move, but she was locked in place, her body rigid. Evos watched her, alarmed, but there wasn't much he could do. He wasn't frozen, but it wasn't as if he could help her. Her body shuddered as she tried to move. She could almost do it. Her hand twitched as Ikarios passed her ad stepped up to the threshold. He looked back at her over his shoulder without stopping. He wasn't smiling; instead he looked almost lonely.

"Seems I won't be able to use this on you anymore."

Ikarios shut the door to the balcony, leaving Evos and Tavia inside, as Tavia continued to fight his control. He stepped up onto the balcony ledge just as Tavia broke free, staggering forward to regain her balance. She raced forward to catch him, but before she could even reach the door, he leapt from the balcony and disappeared into the garden.

Tavia followed him onto the balcony, but he was already gone. This was only the second story, but if she tried to follow him, she'd only get hurt without any Althier supporting her body. She paused at the railing of the balcony, staring at the dark garden, but Ikarios was nowhere to be seen, the dark shadows of the garden below hid any sign of movement. She wouldn't be able to find him now.

She looked at the note still in her hand. She had a chance to make this right, and she wasn't going to waste it.

A note from GracelessLiar

Contrary to the title, it seems Tavia might have found some hope. With everything that's happening, will she be able to help Izak?


Thank you for reading!

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