Valorie took a step back, away from Elijah and continued to look around, a grimace crossing her face. She then turned her gaze to Tavia and shook her head before looking back at Elijah.
“Just remember what I said,” she said.
She brushed past Elijah, heading away from the labs at a brisk pace, and Tavia stared after her, confused at the woman’s sudden change in demeanor. What had just happened? Tavia stole a look in Elijah’s direction, only to find he looked more troubled than confused. After a moment, he sighed.
“I knew it wouldn’t work,” he muttered.
“It might have, if you’d done a better job distracting her.”
A child’s voice cut through the air, dripping with annoyance. The familiar voice sent a chill down Tavia’s spine, and she spun around to face the unwelcome intruder.
Ikarios stood a short distance away, having appeared in the middle of the path just ahead of them without any warning. Where had he come from?
In contrast to the serious, slightly angry expression on his face, Ikarios’s overall appearance was that of a twelve-year old boy. Short of stature, with dark skin and long ears that tapered into a point, his body was Terrisian, even if the soul residing within it wasn’t. His eyes were an endless darkness, flecks of silver scattered across them like stars in the night sky. As the all black eyes fell on Tavia, she shuddered, struggling to hold her ground. Why now, when Evos wasn’t here? The last time they’d seen each other, they’d parted on good terms, but Tavia wasn’t certain that actually meant anything to Ikarios.
He strode forward, a confidence that belied his appearance oozing from every bit of his being. Unlike the last few times she’d seen him, he wasn’t wearing the characteristic brown robes the Wardens normally wore to hide their identities. Maybe he wasn’t here with the intention to fight then.
“Did you manage to learn anything?” Elijah asked.
Though he asked, he didn’t seem particularly interested, and Tavia realized what had actually just happened. Ikarios’s ability as a Demi allowed him to manipulate minds, and reading them fell firmly under that umbrella. If Elijah had just been a distraction, then that meant the real goal had been for Ikarios to pry something out of Valorie’s mind.
“Nothing useful. She’s similar in strength to me, makes it hard to read her mind.”
Tavia almost asked him to explain, but before she spoke, she caught herself and kept her silence. It was best she not attract attention, but it was nothing but wishful thinking to hope Ikarios wouldn’t pay her any mind at all.
“I’m surprised to see you here,” Ikarios said, finally turning to look at Tavia.
“Not as surprised as I am, I’m sure,” Tavia replied.
She kept her tone dry, trying not to let her fear creep into her voice.
“So you do know him?” Elijah asked. “You mentioned his name before, but—“
“Ah, Tavia and I have had our fair share of struggles and triumphs.” Ikarios smirked.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
She looked between Elijah and Ikarios, and then looked around, wondering if there were any more of the Wardens, the group of Demis Ikarios led, around. She couldn’t see any, but considering how Ikarios had seemed to show up out of nowhere, did that really mean anything?
“It’s nothing to you, don’t worry,” Ikarios said. “We just had some business with the binder.”
Elijah had called Valorie that as well, but when she looked toward Elijah, he flinched and looked away.
“Where’s Evos?” Ikarios asked instead of answering.
“That’s none of your business,” she said.
Ikarios stepped forward, putting himself mere inches from Tavia. He stared up at her, too short to really bear down on her, but the pressure in his gaze still made her hands shake.
“Except that it is,” Ikarios whispered. “Evos’s existence is the concern of every Demi.”
She kept her mouth shut, and Ikarios shrugged before stepping back. Despite his tense atmosphere, he really didn’t seem to be here to pick a fight with her. Physically speaking, Ikarios wasn’t any kind of threat, and though he had impressive abilities as a Demi, because of Tavia’s connection to the Ageless Sword, he couldn’t use them on her. She was sure he had some kind of bodyguard hiding in the area though, in the past, Ikarios had almost always had a woman at his side, a Demi by the name of Meridian.
“Then, I guess we’re done here?” Elijah asked.
Ikarios sighed and nodded.
“I can’t read the boy from here, and I’m sure that woman has someone watching us for now. Until she’s out of the country, we can’t make a move. If we do, she might have,” Ikarios glanced at Tavia, “the person we’re looking for moved to another location. I can’t take that risk.”
Elijah sent one last look at Tavia, and then turned away. Ikarios stopped, staring at Tavia, the silver in his eyes sparking. He tilted his head to the side as if considering something, but then Elijah looked back at him.
“Ikarios,” he said. “There’s no need for that, is there?”
“He isn’t here, there’s no better time than now,” Ikarios said.
Tavia took a step back and looked around, but Ikarios just smiled at her movements. She knew he was referring to Evos, but Elijah didn’t seem to understand what Ikarios was talking about. Pressure, cold and harsh, filled the air around them, and Tavia bit her lip as she tried to keep from buckling under the fear that came with it.
“I’m keeping everyone away from here,” he said. “Even if you scream for help, no one would come.”
Her hands balled up into fists as she eyed the distance to the nearby grove. Assuming Ikarios really had someone in hiding, could she make it there before they caught her? Could she hide if she made it? Her stomach churned, and her heart throbbed in her chest as she took another step back.
“Don’t be rash,” Elijah said. He stared at Tavia, his gaze warm in contrast to the cold glare Ikarios was sending her way. “Harming a student on school grounds will make things unnecessarily difficult for us. Just leave her be.”
Ikarios grimaced, and then he shrugged, the cold pressure disappeared. He turned away, pushing past Elijah. As they began to leave, he sent a last glance back at Tavia, a childish smirk making him seem almost like the boy he resembled.
“Consider yourself lucky,” he said.