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Silas takes off down the street. In a different part of the city, one with less fiends, he would expect it to be empty at this hour. Here, there are still fiends standing on street corners drinking and smoking. They call out to Silas, but he runs right past and ignores them. Malachai’s gang protects this part of town. This is their territory, and the fiends who live here are always trying to improve their reputation with Silas or his boss.
Silas will have to portal close to the coven. Running or walking there would take more time and energy than he has. He’ll just have to wait until he is far enough away that nobody will notice him call up his demon and create a portal. The fiends who live in their jurisdiction might want to suck up to Silas, but they’d kill to impress Malachai. It’s better to be in a gang than to just live under one’s protection. If any of them think Silas is doing something suspicious, they’ll run to tell Malachai in hopes that he’ll take a liking to them and let them into the gang.
He runs until he reaches the end of their territory. Further from the gang’s house, there are less fiends around. He’s able to duck into an alleyway. Then he takes a deep breath and summons the demon up. The world becomes painted in shades of blue. He still controls his body, but he sees and feels it as if in a dream.
The adrenaline feeds him as he begins to prepare the spell, running through it in his mind to ensure he gets it right. The demon presses on his mind, asking why he doesn’t do this more often. Silas frowns and focuses on the spell. His demon is unwieldy. Sometimes he feels like he’s just beating it back. The more he lets it come forward, the more control it has. If he lets it control his body too often, it will suffocate his soul beneath its own, and he will no longer be human.
He begins chanting, imagining the hiding place outside the coven where he had squatted before. He moves his hands in a sigil, lines of blue energy tracing his fingers. With one last incantation, there in a flash of blue light and he feels the ground drop out from under him.
He half-lands half-falls into a crouch in the shadows of some short buildings across from the coven. He quickly shoves the demon down inside of him before the strength of its presence alerts the witches. The blue tinge of the world fades as he forces the demon back down, but it is angry. It doesn’t submit as easily as he wants, and out of desperation he has to promise it that he’ll get black-out drunk at the next opportunity so that it will finally calm down. It nestles down in a corner inside of him, though he can feel its tension. He soothes it, promising he will feed it later, but it stirs unhappily inside him.
Silas stares across the street to the coven on the other side. As the demon fades away he feels fatigue take him over. He is tired from the magic. He knows he can’t go in the main door to coven, but he isn’t sure how he should try to get inside. Last time he’d come here looking for River, he’d been lucky enough to see him out in the gardens.
With a sigh, he contemplates his only option. There’s a good chance he will get caught, and Hell knows what the witches do to fiends they catch trespassing. He doesn’t like it, but it’s the least dangerous way he can think of. He’ll need to sneak in the back doors which will, hopefully, lead to some of the servant’s quarters. From there he can either have them summon River or threaten them to bring him to the witch. The servants are witches, but very weak ones with little to no powers of their own. Silas can easily scare them into doing what he wants.
Silas takes a deep breath and dashes across the street, ducking into a shadow created by the garden wall and staying close to it.
This is stupid this is so stupid I am going to get caught this is such a bad idea. The thoughts race through his head but he doesn’t stop sneaking along the wall. He knows he’s being crazy. Concern for River drives him. He has never worried about someone this much before, especially not someone he’s only met twice. Is it really possible to have feelings like this after only two brief encounters?
Stop it. He chides himself
He is trying to distract himself by wondering about these feelings. He does not want to acknowledge that he is afraid.
He steadies himself, focusing on the task at hand. He has reached the corner of the wall and checks around himself carefully. There must be men out on guard, but none of them are nearby. He peeks around the corner of the wall and shimmies along it, stopping when the wall runs flush up against the coven’s outer. The coven wall is grey stone, with ivy growing up the sides. He sees an open window and can only guess that is where Violet had waited and listened.
The air is brisk, but Silas feels beads of sweat roll down from his hairline. This is the most dangerous part. The smell of the witches, the traces of their magic that he and his demon can feel, is everywhere. It’s too strong for him to tell if any witches are coming. The longer he lingers outside, the more likely it is that he’ll be caught. He sneaks along the wall, his feet stepping carefully in the ivy that twists along the ground and climbs up onto the walls. He hears tinkling laughter spilling out of the open window.Two women. He keeps moving towards the back door, reaching a hand out towards it.
He pushes gently on the dark wood, checking to see if the door is locked, and is surprised to see it swing open. He’ll never understand witches. There are bloodthirsty secs seeking to kill them all, and they don’t even keep the back door locked. No doubt, they think their gods will protect them. Silas thinks less highly of the gods than the witches do, and is pretty convinced by now that if they were going to save anyone they would have done it by now.
The door creaks long and high-pitched as it arcs slowly inward. The room beyond it is dark. Silas peers into the darkness but sees nobody. He moves to slam the door shut in frustration but stops himself at the last second. He takes a shaky breath, registering that he’d almost given himself away, and feels the demon in him leap angrily, wanting to complete the action to release a small amount of frustration that was building inside, much more quickly than it would have if his demon wasn’t so strong.
Now that he is here, and he has dealt with the demon, and all he has to do is wait, he realizes how completely absurd he’s being. He could have waited until morning, knocked on their front door, and demanded to talk to the High Priestess. She would have been more likely to trust any message he had delivered that way than if he gets caught sneaking through the coven. But he hadn’t been thinking with logic when he had decided to rush down and tell River. He’d been thinking with his heart and perhaps a bit with his cock too. He’d made the totally irrational decision to race down here in the night and sneak in and threaten someone into letting him see River. His demon delights in the fact that he has made an emotional, irrational decision. It loves observing the whirlwind of emotion within him as he realizes what he has done.
He hears the muffled noise of voices, and remembers with a shock that he had heard people through the window outside. There are footsteps, coming from inside the room Silas has assumed is the kitchen and heading towards the hallway where he currently stands.
A woman appears in the entryway of the kitchen and lights a lamp. She holds it aloft, casting pale light in a half circle around her. Silas is on the same side as the doorway she stands in and he freezes against the wall. She turns out of the doorway and walks away from him without even noticing he is there. He stalks up behind her as silently as he can. When she finally notices that someone is behind her and moves to turn around, he reaches out for her. He has a hand around her mouth before she can scream.
“Tell me what I want to know, and I will not hurt you. Scream, and I’ll gut you.” He whispers. His heart beats speedily in his chest. There is at least one other servant in the kitchen down the hall, and who knows how many others are close by.
She nods frantically beneath his hand, and he releases his grip slowly. He turns her around so she’s facing him and places a hand on each shoulder. His fingers dig into her shoulders threateningly, and he can see tears forming in her eyes.
“Where is River?” He growls.
She blinks in confusion. “River?”
Silas shakes her. “Where is the High Priestess’s son?” He growls. He tries to keep his voice low and it comes out like a gruff whisper which, judging by the look on her face, terrifies the servant-girl.
She shakes her head, “I don’t know.”
Silas growls again and digs his fingers into her shoulder harder. She bites her lip and makes a stifled little whine. She wants to scream, but knows better.
“Where!’ Silas’ voice of its own volition grows louder even though he tries to control it.
“I don’t know,” she sobs, “Maybe asleep. I can take you to his room.” Her voice is barely audible, quiet and thick with tears. Silas turns her around without letting go. He leans forward and snarls into her ear. “I’ve been here before. If you try to take me elsewhere, somewhere where the High Priestess can get to me, I’ll know.”
She nods frantically and begins walking, Silas’ hand still pressing into her shoulder. She stumbles forward, and then he follows her slowly out of the kitchen and into the hallway.
“If anybody sees us, I’ll have to kill them.” Silas whispers to the girl. She shivers with fear and he rolls his eyes. He isn’t actually planning on killing anyone. He had just been trying to get his point across. Honestly, these people treat his kind like they eat babies for breakfast.
“Nobody else is awake.” The girl whispers as she nervously leads Silas. “I was up early to start making the bread.”
“There was another girl in the kitchen, with you.”
The servant girl stops in her tracks, her voice thin as she tries to keep it quiet, “Please. Don’t hurt her.”
Silas recognizes the fear in the girl’s voice, and the desperation. He recognizes it as the same thing that had brought him here tonight. He says nothing, pushing her forward again.
She winds through the dark hallways and Silas follows. The door she stops in front of is totally nondescript, plain dark wood just like every other door they had passed.
“This is it.” She says quickly and turns to leave.
Silas grabs her arm. “Tell anyone and you are dead.”
She shivers with a silent sob but nods. He waits until her footsteps have retreated down the hall to gently pull the door open. He slips into the room and closes the door silently behind him. The yellowish light of the moon is filtering in through the window. The room is bare and ascetic. The only furniture is a bed pushed up against the far wall, and a set of drawers with a lamp atop it. River is sleeping in the bed, bare chest emerging from sheets bunched around his waist. Silas stands transfixed, mesmerized by the soft light falling on the planes of his cheeks and the golden hairs dusting his chest. Never before has Silas felt so strong of a desire to simply climb into bed and wrap his arms around someone. To simply sleep and wake with someone in the blissful peace of half-sleep.
He blinks as River shifts slightly and his heart jumps. The idea of River waking to find him staring sends nervy shivers all down his spine. River simply mutters something and turns over.
“River.” He whispers, taking a step forward. The sleeping witch doesn’t shift. Silas takes another step and says his name again, slightly louder this time. It isn’t until he puts a hand on River’s shoulder and shakes it that the warlock awakens.
River’s eyes blink open slowly. He bolts upright when he sees Silas, but doesn’t make a sound.
Silas holds his hands out in a placating gesture. “Remember me? I promise I’m not creeping.” River is going to scream, any moment now. It isn’t exactly normal to wake up and find a fiend in your room.
River doesn’t scream, but rubs his eyes and blinks again. “Of course I remember you. But what are you doing here? What time is it?” He is surprisingly calm about everything, and Silas is stuck by an odd urge to laugh as hope he can’t contain fills his chest. It’s almost like River has been waiting for him, maybe even wishing he would come.
Silas takes a step closer and can’t stop his eyes from sliding to River’s bare chest. River looks down at himself, shifts in a way that makes SIlas thinks he’ll pull the covers up over his exposed body, but doesn’t. He gaze moves back to Silas.
“Silas.” He says patiently, “Why are you here?”
“Violet — she works with me under Malachai — has been out in the city, listening. She came back tonight and told me that she overheard some secs saying they’re going to attack. Here.”
River throws back the covers and jumps out of bed. He’s only wearing boxers, and Silas feels heat crawl into his cheeks. He tries not to look, but his eyes flick down to the fabric of his underwear, noticing how it obscures but does not completely hide the shape of what lies underneath.
“When? How?” He asks, gripping both of Silas’ shoulders.
“Three days from now, if Violet’s sources are correct.”
River falls back against the bed, his hands digging into the covers. “By the Gods…We are a coven. This is a holy place. They wouldn’t dare attack us here.”
“These are unholy times.”
River meets his eyes. Silas looks into them, one pure brown and the other half blue. Both are deep and unreadable in the dim light of the sun rising. River takes a deep breath.
“Thank you, Silas, for telling me.” He runs a hand over his mouth. Silas watches the action carefully, observing his full lips move under the slight weight of his fingers.
“How did you get in here?” He asks as he pushes himself off the bed and closer to Silas.
Silas blinks slowly. His mouth is very dry and his head feels slow.
“I just sort of…walked in. I got one of the girls in the kitchen to show me where your room is. These are dangerous times, River. I know you believe your gods will protect you, but you need to protect yourselves as well.”
River’s mouth works as he thinks about that. His gaze is fixed on the floor, and Silas takes advantage of the situation to sneak another glance at the slender lines of Silas’ chest.
“Why did you warn me?” River asks after a short pause. “Fiends have never been on the side of the witches.”
One corner of Silas’ mouth quirks up as his gaze falls to the ground and then slowly makes its way back up to meet River’s eyes. “You know why.” He says quietly.
River flushes and turns away. “Stop it. I know what you’re getting at, Silas. Anything between us would be forbidden.
Silas steps so close behind him that he could reach out and touch the elegant slope of the witch’s bare shoulders. He moves even closer, so close that his breath tickles the back of RIver’s neck. He hears RIver’s breathing grow shallow, feels the tension that runs over his pale skin.
He lets out a little laugh, and sees River flinch as puffs of air from Silas’ mouth hit his neck. He runs a hand up River’s arm and feels him shiver. “You’re the one who mentioned us.”
River turns to face him, and the action catches Silas off-guard. River looks into his face, so close that Silas can see the spray of freckles over the bridge of his nose. Hardly aware of his actions, he slowly tilts his face closer to River’s. He expects River to pull away, but instead he moves closer, and they are drawing together, and Silas’ lips are moving over his. Silas reaches his hands up to cup River’s cheeks, and River’s arms reach down to hold his waist as one kiss becomes another and another. Silas pulls their bodies closer together as River’s mouth opens under his. He relishes in the feel of the lines of River’s body underneath him. He moves his hands down River’s neck and over his chest.
And suddenly River pulls away. He puts his hands on Silas’ chest and pushes him away, breathing deep and ragged.
“I must warn the rest of the coven.” He says breathlessly.
“When can I see you again?” Silas asks. He’s smiling like an idiot, and he knows it, but he can’t stop.
“You should leave. Now.”
The sting of the words runs through Silas’ body, even as pleasure still moves in his blood. His eyes flicker over River, clearly roused, but the witch simply turns and leaves.