“Grayson, Grayson, Grayson… What a pathetic performance.”
Grayson laid still in the surrounding darkness. The demon was back, he knew it even before it spoke.
“How could you let an old blind witch get the best of you? Granted she can manipulate aura, but you are something more! So much more Grayson!”
Grayson felt the demon’s breath on his face. He did not dare open his eyes.
“I know you can hear me Grayson. I am a part of you, and you are a part of me.” A claw-like finger trailed down Grayson’s cheek. “We can be a very powerful team, you just have to let me in.”
Grayson opened his eyes and found himself staring up at the horrid tree, with the demon lounging on a branch. He could have sworn the demon was just standing above him.
Smirking, the demon looked at his long claws. “You have already found me Grayson, now it’s time to start letting me become known.”
Grayson continued to stare at the demon. He was not going to give him the satisfaction of an answer.
The demon did not seem to mind. Instead, he jumped off the tree limb and landed on the ground with ease. He circled Grayson, waving one arm around while the other was tucked behind his back. “It’s not like you can go back to the way it was. I mean, you did have me tucked away for a long time after the incident with your battalion. But this will not happen again. We are going to become one again, it’s already happening.”
Grayson lifted an eyebrow, questioning what the demon was saying.
“Oh, you didn’t notice did you? You licked the blood off your face, and you enjoyed it.” The demon’s mouth seemed to get larger as it smiled at him. “Did you not feel the power behind your sword? That was us! That was our power!”
The demon’s smile dropped suddenly. “The witch is trying to heal you… I guess I will let her. Until next time, my dear Grayson.”
Alice had her hands above Grayson, trying to heal the wounds she had caused.
“Will he be ok?” Phoebe asked anxiously while biting her lip.
Alice did not bother to turn her head towards Phoebe. Instead, she frowned.
“His wounds are not responding to me.” She replied sadly. Just as she was about to give up, Grayson stirred. His wounds stopped bleeding and started to close.
Alice breathed out in relief. “Oh thank the moon, he is responding.”
As she worked on his wounds, Alice grew concerned.
When she first saw him break through the tree lines, she saw his aura as orange that faded to gray and black on the edges. But the more she fought him, the more she saw the gray and black take over the orange.
Just before she knocked him out, she saw a face within the black aura. It grinned at her with its several sharp teeth. It had opened its mouth to say something, but Alice was quick to make it disappear while she incapacitated Grayson. Once he was out, the aura returned to normal.
Alice had planned to get rid of the idiot human who dared to trespass her land, but Avice came to the rescue and informed her that this thing was Grayson, Eleanor’s husband.
Phoebe had confirmed it.
To say Alice was shocked to learn this would be an understatement. She had not been around the man since before the war, his aura was completely different back then.
Before she could dwell on it more, Alice felt Grayson’s body move again.
“Grayson! Oh thank goodness, are you ok?” Phoebe asked, concern laced her voice. She tried to gently grab his head and shoulder to help him sit up, but he hastily shook it off.
Grayson turned to Alice, piercing her with his darkening green/gray eyes. “Who are you?” He paused for a second. “Maybe the real question should be WHAT are you?”
Alice sighed. “My name is Alice, I am friends with your dear wife Eleanor. And… I am a witch.” She moved her head to where Avice sat right next to her.
“What kind of witch? Your blind, and you’re not bonded to Lucifer, so that can only leave a few options,” Grayson stated with a matter-of-fact- voice, “But I’m making one guess. You’re an aura witch that devotes herself to the moon.”
Alice’s head snapped back to him. Her mouth opened slightly in shock.
“Don’t ask me how I know these things, I am not ready to go down that memory road yet.” Grayson murmured as he held his head.
Turning his head slightly, he noticed the cat. “This cat was outside my home for the past several days. Is she your familiar?”
Alice grabbed his hand. “How do you know these things? Who are you?” Her hand squeezed his hand in desperation. She had never met anyone who knew what she was, and it sounded like he knew a lot more than she did.
Grayson slipped his hand out of hers. “Honestly, I don’t know. When I am ready to remember I will answer your questions.”
Alice detected sadness in his voice, but his aura stayed the same. This puzzled her more. She was used to the ever changing auras of humans, but Grayson was a human too.
’Isn’t he?’ Alice questioned as she felt the air shift again from Grayson standing.
Grayson patted Phoebe’s head, tears streaked her red, blotchy face.
“By the way,” Grayson stopped with his hand on Phoebe’s head. “Where is my sword and where is Eleanor?”
A cold shiver went up Alice’s spine. She had never felt such threat in her life. Even so, she also knew he was a type of man to protect his wife’s friends and family. So, she ignored the shiver and straightened her back.
“In the house is your sword. As for Eleanor, I-I don’t know. I have some information, but it is not enough to pinpoint her location.”
Grayson nodded, not caring that she could not see it.
After several minutes of silence among everyone while Grayson fetched his sword, Alice decided it was time to make a fire. Phoebe was instantly grateful for the break in silence and the warmth.
While Grayson sat by the fire, Alice grabbed hot tea and bread from the house. When she offered the tea to Grayson, he declined and pulled out a flask.
Alice lifted an eyebrow, “My tea not good enough for you?”
Grayson took a swig. “Not enough to inebriate me.”
Alice huffed at him but still set the tea next to him.
“So,” Grayson began, “what information do you have? Does it involve a really nosey feline familiar hanging around my home?”
Avice meowed at him loudly before curling up in Alice’s lap.
“She was there because I sent her. When Ellie visited many days ago, she had an odd scent on her. One that did not match yours, or any human. This creature has marked her with his scent and was pursuing her, I could not ignore this and sent Avice to watch for the creature. He apparently arrived yesterday and invited her to his home. She declined and he left. Avice followed him. Unfortunately, he knew she was following and proceeded to toss her out of the carriage like a rag doll and left at the mercy of wolves. During that time, Ellie must have disappeared.” Alice stroked Avice’s fur, finding calm in the cat’s purrs.
Grayson sat in silence for a while. A thought occurred to him as he turned his attention to Phoebe.
“And what about you? Were there any odd gentlemen around while Eleanor was present?” He took another sip out of his flask.
Phoebe brought up her hand in a flustered manner. “I-I am always around odd gentlemen. I work in a brothel, so it is not unheard of if a gentleman is behaving in an improper way. Honestly, no one cares about the mistreatment of the workers.” She put her hands in her lap and stared at them, deep in thought.
Then, her head came up while her finger pointed to her head. “Although, I do remember Ellie talking to a handsome gentleman like she knew him the last time I saw her. I don’t recall the conversation, but they definitely spoke informally.”
Alice considered this. “Avice claimed the man who tried kill her had long blonde hair and gray eyes. Was this the man?”
Grayson was taking another sip out of his flask when he choked lightly. “The cat can talk?” He rasped out.
Alice regarded him. “You knew she is my familiar, yet you question that she can talk?”
“My knowledge only goes so far, plus she’s a fucking cat! Does she have the correct mouth and throat structure to form words?”
Phoebe interrupted quickly. “Yes! Yes, the man had blonde hair and gray eyes. He was very handsome and ignored my seductions.” She crossed her arms and pouted with her bottom lip out.
Grayson rubbed his face with his hands in frustration. “I need a name and a direction.”
As Alice opened her mouth, a smell filled the air. It caused her to gag and cover her mouth.
The others looked at her in confusion before the smell hit them. Phoebe’s eyes watered and bile slowly rose up her throat. Avice jumped off Alice’s lap and hissed towards the stench.
Grayson’s eyes narrowed as he got a whiff.
’I recognize this smell.’ He thought as he stood with a hand on the pummel of his sword.
“Ugh! What is that?” Phoebe cried as tears streaked her face, trying to scurry away from it.
Alice gulped and stood; the fear evident on her face.
“It’s the stench of death.” Grayson answered as he withdrew his sword. “And its coming towards us.”