Jacob scaled the jump from rooftop to rooftop followed by Tommy and Jake, as they took on the ghettos on the outskirts city, they didn't bother taking on a human body as it would only slow them down and waste time as they trailed after Dia's energy. It was odd when the initial search started, it was as though Dia was all over the city causing them all to split up to cover more ground, so far they heard no word on the others succeeding in finding her, and they hoped they were coming up to her quickly before they burned up.
"We should have just taken over three thugs, Jacob. At least it would ebb off the pain for a little while," Tommy snapped as it was the second time that week they were in this position. Jacob shot him a dark look as he knew it was his idea to track Dia this way. It was harder to track the energy with a body as they had to go around obstacles then.
"Did anyone stay behind to watch the demon?" Jake inquired to distract them from bickering right there.
"Who cares, she isn't important right now," Jacob replied ticked off at him for the asking.
"I like Fatima, she seems like an interesting person from what I can tell," Tommy chirped with a smile.
"Look at you bothering to even remember her name." His brother grew cross as they ran further into the run-down district. They stopped at a dilapidated apartment complex that lacked a roof to jump on. However, it seemed as though Dia was inside as the vibes emanated from the building.
Tommy shook his head gently, "Since Dia plans to have her stick around, may as well get to know her. Plus what we tried to do was wrong as Dia expects us to at least get along with her, no point in not bothering to be friendly."
"The demon is just a temporary toy for Dia to muse over just like the others she came across and stick around." Jacob countered Jake nodded in agreement. Outnumbered two to one, Tommy merely sighed in contempt before turning his focus to the task at hand. They all jumped into the building, landing without a sound.
The windows had been shot out letting a draft in, which would have been helpful had they been able to feel it. The building was barely standing it seemed as walls were torn down exposing the brick shell and the support beams creaked under the wind. Floorboards had been torn up and rubble collected in the corners, though it appears that this section of town has been deserted for a while now, quarantined to be bulldozed and rebuilt. They glided over the empty patches of the floor as if they were still there and descended to where the energy was at its strongest, the basement. The trio paused for a mere moment noticing something didn't feel right as they made their way down into the darkness.
Jacob took point followed closely by Tommy as Jake took up the rear checking back constantly in case something came up from behind to attack. They formed this habit during their lives but hadn't perfected it as a skill until long after passing. Being cautious and suspicious of their surroundings as they progressed until they reached the bottom of the stairs, Jacob and Tommy split in separate directions, circling in search of Dia. Had they been this efficient perhaps they wouldn't have met their untimely demise.
Jake peeked out from around the stairs keeping the one exit clear, while they can just run through walls, Dia could not; the countless tests and attempts to give her that ability attest to that fact. After a moment they saw a large figure standing in the middle of the room.
None of them had a clear view to be certain it was dark, but they weren't going to pass up the chance to attack for it seemed the figure hadn't noticed their presence. The longer they watched the figure, the less of a person it looked and more of a distorted shadow of a person standing over something or someone else. The minimal amount of light reflected off a gleaming red gem cast into a silver ring worn on the thumb of a hand holding a black rose.
Their vision couldn't adjust enough in time to see anything else before the second figure snapped its fingers and the first one snapped its head around. The creature had long lost its humanity as it dawned upon the boys what actually stood before them. How far it had degraded was uncertain, but from the way it seemed to wilt with every movement, it deteriorated past the point of saving.
Tommy and Jacob made the split second to jump at it to take it out before it could do anything else, within a blink of an eye it vanished from in front of them. It darted around them and cut through Jacob's left side with its claws. He reacted instantly grappling for the head in the critical moments he had left before it can manage to make a second attack. It disintegrated in his hand as though it had been a paper that previously had been set on fire. It crumbled to ash then nothingness as there was only evil laughter as the other figure in the room had disappeared as well.
"Jacob are you alright?" Tommy rushed over to his brother as he faltered slightly from the pain.
"I might not make it back in time; Jake go ahead back to the demon, at least she might be of some help." Jacob spotted the black rose on the ground and picked it up. It was the source of Dia's energy, leading them into a trap, but it felt wrong, unexplainably wrong. The black color then dripped down from the petals, thick as blood leaving writing delicately etched around each petal. "Tommy, run now!" His eyes were barely catching a glimpse of what was written before the inscription glowed embers and exploded into a deadly inferno engulfing Jacob completely and knocking Tommy away.
The sheer force of the blast knocked him straight up and out of the building that now collapsed in upon itself. He felt Jacob's presence around him, but couldn't physically see him anymore, he entered the critical state and had to get to Dia or someone close to her as quickly as possible. His mind flashed to Fatima, it was a risk since they just met, but it could be possible that she was already close enough they'll regain strength enough to continue the search if another hasn't found her already.
As he ran, he didn't bother going around and made a straight shot to the apartment on the west side of town. He lost the feeling of his legs, only the mute pain consuming him further, Tommy didn't need to look down to see himself disappearing, He pushed himself further as he felt himself become lighter like embers drifting in the air from a campfire.
Detected in his peripheral vision, the plane of this reality melting into another, one that was neither darkness nor light but a stasis between life and death. They've all been there before, and they know they'll be here again and again until they vanish from existence. They were left with the choice, one they all had chosen without a second thought assumably.
However, entering this state a second time would lead them to make a choice once again, continue to reach the source they selected to sustain them, or turn into the creature they had just previously faced, and if they lose the will to achieve either option they'd simply cease to exist from that point on.
Soon his sight was completely enveloped, and the world wasn't as vibrant in color living creatures were replaced by shadowy husks some with small flickers of light within. There was a presence beside him, and with a tilt of his head saw his brother keeping pace but in a far worse state. Fatal wounds from his life cracked into his soul, slowly crumbling away. His will to live being the only thing keeping himself from caving in and fading into nothingness.
Jacob glanced over and made eye contact, their petty constant arguments never mattered, as the only thought they shared was they both had to make it; they both had to survive no matter what.
I'm staying at Chloe's for the night; Jasmine is at her BF. Don't do anything stupid while we're gone, see you at work tomorrow. Fatima let out a breath of relief at not having to explain who all the random people in their shared apartment were, moreover why one was unconscious and since when did she have so many friends. Friends being a stretch knowing what her roommates would say. She glanced over at the other three while checking on Sarah; they spoke quietly amongst themselves with an occasional glance her way.
"You'd think I'm the uninvited guest with how they're acting." She spoke to herself defeated.
Leonard popped up from the floor, "aw cheer up Fatima; you just don't understand their full situation yet. Don't expect any warm feelings from those guys anyways, they don't trust anyone pretty sure not even themselves half the time. If you stick around long enough, they might open up to you, but don't hold your breath though." He gave her a charming yet slightly mischievous smile.
"Oh, what are you doing down there?"
"Oh just eavesdropping on Grey, also messed with his car controls, so when he leaves everything is going to be set off." Fatima tilted her head confused as to why. "It's his fault for taking Dia this morning and making everyone run around like headless chickens."
"So you're all back now?"
His smile dropped slightly at the corners, "well no, still haven't heard from Alex, the twins, Tommy, Jacob, and Jake. Steve is sulking about something, and Andrew and Chris are recovering."
"Recovering from what?"
He stared at her, "is... is something wrong?" He continued to stare. "Forget I asked?" She took a slight step back.
"They're recovering from nearly falling into the clutches of sweet, sweet death and nothingness." He said rather too cheerfully, kind of forced humor shrouding deep pain.
"Hey, dumb blond, stop sticking your nose into things that have nothing to do with you," Steve responded as well, walking into the room. She glared with venom recalling what he almost got away with a few hours before.
"Well, that's a scary look," Grey's voice snapped her attention away, He sounded bored and unimpressed still. "Thinking too hard about something?" Steve stood behind the man mocking him exaggeratingly. Fatima stared blankly for a minute or two, Grey about to make another remark when she cut him off with a smile, "You can't see them, can you."
"Whatever do you mean," Grey inquired annoyed by her accusation. "I just don't react to their childish antics."
"Oh," She was slightly put off by his nonchalant reply knowing she doesn't have that kind of self-control to not react to their blatant harassment. She gave a halfhearted smile, "Wish, I was reserved like that, then I wouldn't have this to deal with," gesturing with the still bandaged hand.
"What happened there," Grey wasn't interested, but he was bored enough to hear it anyways.
"I tried to chase them out with a cleaver soaked in holy water."
"Ah, so that was your own fault then." He laughed, "come up with something better if you actually wanted to hurt them."
"Are you speaking out of experience?" Fatima inquired getting irritated by his patronizing.
He replied with a curt, "no." Both of the boys nodded yes. She doubted both answered being she didn't know who not to trust more. Wearily turning to Dia for clarification, her friend completely ignored the boys. The slightest hint of disappointment etched on her face directed at Fatima.
"They're just messing with you, Fatima. Grey can't see them." With a sigh, "Don't believe anything he tells you right off the bat. Most of it is because it's just a habit of his, but in this case, he just wants to see how gullible you are."
"Must you ruin my fun?" He shot at her, as Fatima imploding on herself in shame and her face flushing furiously.
"Perhaps they would antagonize you so much if you didn't have such extreme reactions," Dia continued petting the blond slightly on the head. "Anyways, I noticed you were home earlier then you should have been."
"Oh right, it was just a weird day, First of all, that Angel came barging into the shop today."
"He didn't recognize you were a demon?" Grey inquired masking his surprise with sarcastic concern.
"No, but I certainly recognized him, definitely the angel who sealed away my magic. I couldn't even look him in the face, which was weird." Fatima rebuttal was trying to figure out why herself. Dia nodded in understanding, puzzled that Dark would have been able to recognize her instantly being he used his own magic against her. The fact he didn't, meant either it happened such a long time ago, or there are more factors at play here. "Oh, but that reminds me!" Fatima exclaimed before furrowing her face, "There was this real jerk in the shop right before him, knocking things off the shelf, being rude and such." Every gave a look at how was this relevant, "But the thing that bothers me was, he asked me to give something to you, Dia."
Grey's head shot up, and Dia asked who? Fatima shrugged, "Couldn't see his face; He didn't leave a name. He had such an awful feel about him, I just wanted him to leave as quickly as he came." She walked over to where she had covered the black rose to show Dia.
The next moment blurred by fast enough to make Fatima's head spin as Jake, Chris and Andrew popped up out of nowhere yelling jarring phrases similar to each other and along the lines of Dia to get down and away from the flower. They each grasped the flower, yanking it away. Upon their touch, it flashed with another spell etched on the petals followed by rapidly aging and crumbling into dust. They let out a sigh of relief after a moment to verify there was no other effect; each turned on Fatima shouting at her to be careful next time and not to put Dia in danger again.
Perplexed, "how was it dangerous?"
Grey cut in, "It wasn't. However, it had the potential to have devastating effects given the right spell was written on it when it was created."
"What do you mean?"
"It seems that there might have been a specific spell for when you touched it to block any sign of Dia's energy about you. If there was a specific spell for Dia on one of the petals we'll never know now, but it seems to have been specifically for yours and Dia's hands alone. Hence why a third spell was written to destroy itself when it is taken by another."
Dia nodded, "it seems like the spell for Fatima took inspiration from you, Grey."
"Yes, I'm going to look into whoever this person is, they can cause a lot a damage if we're not careful." He stood to leave, "Dia seems to be safe here, for now, Kitten. Don't do anything to change that." Her soul sank at the chilling and blatant threat he gave with a simple look before exiting the same way he came.
"God, I thought he would never leave." Dia huffed.