There was no point in staying once Dieos and Abram were gone. Ikarios led Tavia back to the entrance, taking them up the elevator to the building above. Neither of them said anything about the bloodstains on the floor, but as they rose back into the building and the floor settled once more into place, Ikarios took in a sharp breath and hurried out of the building. Tavia followed close behind him.
They left the building together, but as they stepped out into the open air, Tavia paused. Night had fallen while they were underground. It hadn't really felt like they were down there that long, but when Tavia checked her vox she realized it was well past the time decent people had their evening meal.
Despite the events underground, it didn't appear as if Dieos had made his presence known in the city proper.
"He just woke up," Ikarios said when he realized Tavia was searching the skyline. "It takes a day or two for a Demi to get used to a new vessel."
"You mean that wasn't his true strength?" Tavia asked.
"Not even close."
It sounded as if he wanted to say more, but he fell silent. He was looking around, but unlike Tavia, whose focus was on the sky, Ikarios was looking towards the street. There was no sign of that horrible red in the sky, and Tavia looked back down at the street.
"Where are they?" Tavia asked.
She had expected Audri to be waiting out here with the Wardens. Though Meridian may have dragged Audri out, Tavia couldn't imagine the woman would actually just go home. She had to be somewhere around here.
Tavia took a few steps forward until she was standing beside Ikarios.
"Why did you hesitate?" Ikarios asked without looking at her.
Tavia peered down at him. His young face was creased with concern and worry.
"Hesitate?" Tavia asked.
"You almost had him. Would have had him, but you stopped for just long enough." He looked up at Tavia. "That's why he got away." His tone lowered. "Why didn't you kill him?"
"I—" Tavia began, but she paused.
Dieos was the enemy, but Ikarios was right. Tavia had hesitated.
"Even if I hadn't, are you so sure I could have beaten him then and there?" Tavia finally said.
"I don't care about the ifs. I just want to make sure it won't happen again," Ikarios replied. "So what was the problem?"
He looked up at Tavia, the silver in his eyes shining bright. His mouth stretched into a tight frown.
"You may feel comfortable killing people," Tavia snapped, "but I can't say I feel the same."
Ikarios scowled at Tavia, and then looked away.
"You didn't want to kill him?" he asked.
Tavia hesitated for a moment before nodding.
"Didn't anyone explain?" Ikarios asked with a glance at the sword still in Tavia's hand. "Demis don't die like humans do. You kill a Demi, and they'll just come back. It may take years, but eventually they will find a vessel that fits them."
"But, Savin is—"
"Dead. The moment Dieos took control, the person known as Savin died."
Tavia looked at the ground for a moment, and then looked over at Ikarios. The same was true for him too, right? He was an old Demi, from what Tavia had understood from Abram and Dieos; a very old Demi, so this wasn't his first time inhabiting a vessel.
"A child, huh?" Tavia murmured before she could stop herself.
"It's easier when they're younger," Ikarios replied. "The human soul doesn't struggle as much."
"You—!" Tavia turned on Ikarios. He stared at her, unfazed by her anger.
How could he be so callous? He might not have been the villain here, but it was no wonder Evos didn't like him. Tavia looked at the sword in her hand. She had stopped channeling, so the edge had faded, but for some reason the coat was still in place. Other than that brief moment before when Evos had shared his emotions with her, he had still been silent.
"Evos?" Tavia asked.
She gasped when the sword in her hand began to glow and disperse, and she couldn't hold back a smile when she saw Evos's form appear before her. Finally. There was another shimmer of cyan light, this time around Tavia's body, and the coat vanished.
"Ah, so you finally make an appearance," Ikarios said. "What, were you sulking or something?"
"Are you alright?" Evos asked Tavia. "He threw you very far."
His question reminded her of the aches she was trying to ignore. Her shoulder hurt from where it had struck the couch, and she could feel parts of her body hurting from the subsequent tumble across the floor, but she was alright. The encounter with Dieos hadn't been long enough for her to get really hurt. Although, if it had continued, Tavia didn't think she would have remained unhurt for long.
Evos frowned, but didn't say anything.
Ikarios tensed, and then looked away from Evos and Tavia toward the street.
"Finally," he muttered
Tavia followed his gaze. Audri and Meridian were coming in their direction. Ikarios immediately headed to meet Meridian, but Tavia waited for Audri to approach.
Audri looked confused upon seeing Evos, but didn't say anything right away.
"Once I've found where Dieos has escaped to, I'll come get you," Ikarios called out. "Be ready."
"I'm not—" Tavia began to shout, but Ikarios and Meridian were already out of ear-shot.
Tavia grimaced. She couldn't do that again. This time the situation had demanded it, but to walk into the same situation knowingly? No, there was no way Tavia could do that.
"What happened down there?" Audri asked.
"He got away," Evos said.
"Ikarios isn't expecting me to fight that thing, is he?" Tavia asked.
Audri let out a frustrated groan.
"That thing...you mean Dieos?" she asked.
"I couldn't even get to him," she said. "And he made the ceiling collapse."
"Time manipulation," Evos explained. "He sped up the time on the section of the ceiling to make it crumble."
"How am I supposed to fight something like that? How is anyone supposed to fight someone like that?" Tavia asked.
No one replied, not that she was expecting any answers. It was one thing to imagine fighting against Ikarios, he was certainly stronger than a normal person, but it wasn't impossible. Dieos though, he gave off an entirely different feeling, like he was a force of nature. Tavia couldn't win a fight against a storm with a sword, no matter how special it was, there wasn't even a point in trying.
"Did you see Abram down there?" Audri asked.
She looked back at the house, and rubbed her shoulder, wincing. There was no sign of fighting outside the decrepit house, but Tavia recalled the blood inside on the floor.
Tavia nodded, and then asked, "Did you fight him?"
"Well I tried," Audri mumbled. "Took me by surprise though. I didn't know he was such a good Althiest too. Swept right through and to the Wardens before we even realized he was here."
As if Dieos wasn't enough of a threat, now they had to worry about Abram actually standing in their way? He hadn't seemed interested in fighting them underground, but maybe that was simply because Dieos was there and so he didn't need to.
Audri slammed her fists together, the hard alther of her gauntlets slamming together with a sharp ring. Her brows furrowed together and she her mouth stretched into a thin grimace.
"I'm going to be the void out of him the next time I see him," she growled.
"Assuming there is a next time," Tavia replied in a much weaker voice.
Audri grimaced, and a silence enveloped the trio as they stared out at the city that had no idea of the threat hiding somewhere within it. After a minute, Audri relaxed, letting her shoulders droop from exhaustion.
"Look, why don't we head home for the night?" she said. "You look exhausted, I'm beat, and well, this wasn't the best of nights. We can decide what to do tomorrow." She tilted her head to the side.
Tavia nodded. That sounded like a good idea. It was probably the best idea she'd heard all day.
She looked back at the building that led to the now destroyed hideout. This...wasn't her fault. Right?