Disclaimer: I do not own Highschool DxD nor do I own anything from any other franchise that might pop up.
Chapter 3: Bloodhounds and strays
"You'll never beat him. Jibril is too strong, he's killed everyone who ever stood against him." Dohnaseek's bloody form managed to spit out. "You go after him and he'll kill you, then he'll kill your sister again."
Issei looked down on his captive with disgust. "I am many things Dohnaseek, a coward isn't one of them. So what if Jibril is more powerful than most? Unlike you, I'm not going to just stand by and let him do as he please. You say he murdered your best friends and you hate his guts for that, yet you still work for him? Disgusting."
"WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE CRUSHED EVEN AFTER GIVING YOUR BEST… I've… I've already lost too much. If serving him like a dog means I don't lose anymore… I don't have the strength to resist him anyway." A sudden burst of rage gave the captive fallen angel the strength to rail against his warden before fading away as his own powerlessness caught up with him once more.
Allowing himself to sink back to the ground without struggling against his restraints any further, he was the perfect example of a man beaten down by the world so many times until he couldn't carry on anymore. Despite himself, Issei felt a twinge of pity well up in him.
"What wouldn't I know? I've been through more than you can possibly imagine, yet, do I look like I've given up? If you're too weak to win, then grow stronger. If you can't grow stronger than increase your knowledge. You've only lost when you've given up even trying."
"It's… not that simple. Jibril is on a completely different level, he's strong enough to challenge Kokabiel-sama and win. You march to your death boy, there is very little he hasn't seen. Your tricks won't work on him."
"Hahahahaha… trust me, he's never met anyone like me before. I will kill him for his sins, and… if I do happen to find them, I might just free those friends of yours still held hostage."
For the first time in a very long while, hope stirred in Dohnaseek's heart. Issei's words didn't have any conviction in them, but they were spoken in such a matter of fact tone that he implied victory was already an immutable truth. "Heh, then I wish you the best of luck… whatever you are."
"I don't need luck… as to what I am… I am complicated."
Issei grunted in exertion as he dragged the still struggling stray exorcist into the shadows, once safely out of sight, Issei tightened his grip on the garrotte. Eyes bulging, the exorcist's desperate struggles intensified for a few moments more before his arms went limp and he stopped resisting.
Issei continued to apply pressure until he was sure the man wasn't faking it before allowing the body to drop to the floor. Taking a moment to rife through the man's pockets, Issei retrieved the light sword and pistol before storing them in his pack.
[Colonel, all targets have been eliminated. No further sign of hostiles. The path to the church is clear. Recommendation, disguise and infiltrate.]
'Excellent news sentinel. And stop calling me that.' The air around Issei shimmered and his form was replaced by that of the man sprawled on the ground. Giving himself a once over, Issei found no fault with his holographic disguise and smiled to himself. 'Alright… this is good. Now just act natural and walk in.'
Leaving the corpse behind, Issei strolled to the church and entered without being challenged. To his surprise, the church was completely empty save one brown haired man in a black tuxedo standing at the altar. His back was towards Issei yet the boy knew the man's attention was focused on him.
"Took you long enough to get here. I was getting tired of waiting. It's been awhile hasn't it Issei?"
Dropping his disguise, Issei's face was marred by a vicious snarl. "Gael. I do not have time to deal with you today, get out of my way or die." Soft laughter emanated from the object of his animosity. "Is that how you treat an old friend? I'm hurt."
"Piss off asshole, I'm here for Jibril. I don't know why the church's attack dog is here and I honestly couldn't care less. Where. Is. He." Issei paused to look around the church's interior, taking note of the shadows that seemed to move in the dim light. "And I see you brought the rest of the bloodhounds with you."
Soft laughter again. Gael turned to face Issei, moving his face into the light. It would be considered handsome if not for one thing, four ugly scars ran along the right side of his face and across his eye. "Yes… I figured you'd say that. See, I can't let you kill him just yet. I'm looking for a certain someone and he has the information I need."
Summoning his twice critical, Issei withdrew the Muramasa blade and slid into a well-practiced stance. "And that is my problem how?"
Gael's muscles seemed to expand and his suit began to rip at the seams, his voice grew deeper, more guttural and his teeth sharpened into fangs. "I'm about to make it so." Without any prior warning, he leapt at Issei with unholy speed.
Ducking under the sudden leap, Issei slashed upwards but cut only air. Grunting in a mix of pain and frustration as Gael scored a long gash on his back during the pass, Issei picked up a nearby pew with his free hand and slammed it into Gael as though it were a baseball bat.
Satisfaction bloomed in him as his target went flying, crashing into a disused bookshelf and smashing it to splinters. It died quickly as Gael exploded out of the pile with an inhuman roar. Clothes completely shredded by this point, only scraps remained on him.
Sleek grey fur covered his body and a single bushy tail sprouted from his hindquarters. Face reshaped into a wolf's snout, twin rows of razor sharp teeth filled his mouth. Striding forward on four powerful limbs, his claws dug furrows into the ground. The only sign that this beast and Gael were one and the same was the scar on his face. Even more pronounced now than when he was human, the four slashes were pale white in colour and no fur grew there, a stark contrast to the rest of his body.
Easily the size of a grizzly bear, acidic drool leaked from its jaws sizzling as it ate holes in the flooring. Everything about it screamed imminent violence and death, even its tail was a weapon as a simple swing from it pulverised a nearby pillar.
Roaring at Issei, the werewolf lunged again, his form a flurry of slashing claws and teeth. Instead of dodging, Issei rushed forward and met Gael in a titanic clash at the centre of the church. Steel met claws and teeth in a violent shower of sparks, their violent confrontation wrecking everything around them. Pews were ground to dust and pillars smashed to rubble, the building itself seemed to shake under the stress.
Neither gave ground as they each gunned for their opponent's vitals. Gael's fur was matted with blood from countless cuts courtesy of Issei's swordsmanship. The constant bleeding was slowing him down and they both knew it. Issei himself didn't escape unharmed either. Face covered with a multitude of purple bruises, the gash across his back still pained him and Gael had scored a second deep cut in his side.
[Colonel, structural integrity is at 63%. Self-repair systems are impeded by the bloodhound's poison. Recommendation, retreat and purge or switch to assault mode.]
'I am well aware of that Sentinel, but retreat is not an option. There's no need for assault mode just yet either, I got this.'
Breaking away from his opponent, Issei leapt backwards and slammed his gauntleted fist into the ground. Countless silver spikes burst from the ground seeking to impale Gael on them. He was annoyed to see the oversized wolfman dodge them all by jumping upwards and clinging to the ceiling but wasn't too upset about it, he never really expected the attack to land anyway.
"Tch, are you a mutt or a cat? Make up your mind, would you?" Issei mocked as he retrieved one of the light pistols he stole earlier and sent up a barrage of light bolts, scoring the ceiling with countless small holes.
"Throwing insults now Issei? How juvenile." Unperturbed by the insults in the least, Gael continued running on the ceiling avoiding Issei's shots. "You don't seriously believe you'll be able to shoot me down do you? You're not Motohama after all, if he were here I'd already be dead."
As Issei's gun clicked empty, he hurled the spent weapon at Gael with enough force to embed it in the ceiling, forcing the werewolf to jump away once more. "Yeah, I'm not as good as him, never claimed to be. But… I think I did good enough."
As Gael's claws found purchase on another section of the ceiling, he realised his tactical error. Issei's shooting wasn't meant to hit him, it was to destabilise the entire roof. With the ceiling already weakened from the countless destroyed support pillars, having additional holes poked into it completely erased the structure's ability to hold itself up.
Gael roared in frustration as the chunk of masonry he'd grabbed onto came loose and sent him tumbling to the ground. Unable to correct his fall, he was headed straight for the silver spikes Issei had summoned. Expecting to feel the pain of being impaled, he was treated to a boot to the face instead.
Constantly vanishing and reappearing in a burst of blue sparks, Issei was flashing all around Gael and pummelling him with an endless combination of blows, it had the additional benefit of keeping the bloodhound in the air and unable to do anything. With every blow coming from a dead angle, Gael could only flail around and take the hits.
Finally, Issei finished up by rematerializing in front of Gael's snout and roundhouse kicking him in it with tremendous force. Sent flying by the strike, his inhuman form crashed bodily into one of the last pillars still standing, turning it into rubble.
Unable to take any further abuse, the ceiling caved in and dumped a giant pile of rubble on his prone form. The rest of the roof would have collapsed inward as well if Issei hadn't used the opportunity to extend his silver spikes, forming a new set of support pillars. Forcing the metal to bend to his will, the tips of the spikes liquified and flowed into the cracks before solidifying again and effectively welding the ceiling back together.
A large chorus of growls greeted Issei's actions as multiple giant wolves emerged from the shadows they'd been waiting in. To say they didn't look happy at Issei's manhandling of their leader would have been an understatement. Glowing yellow eyes filled with bloodlust glared at Issei, promising pain and misery in the near future.
"Well, that was a complete waste of time, damn if it wasn't fun though. Relax you mangy mutts, I didn't kill him… you might want to drag him out of there though." Issei nonchalantly called out to the pack surrounding him, a satisfied smile on his face.
Two of the wolves closest to where Gael landed barked twice before a transformation overtook them. Fur receded and muscles shrank, their snouts retreated into their heads, claws and fangs morphed back into the regular human equivalents. Standing on two feet once more, they'd regressed into their human forms. Issei was surprised to see they were clothed in black stealth suits once the transformation finished.
The two wasted no time in digging up their commander from the rubble. Upon pulling him free, Gael was in bad shape. Having returned to human form, countless cuts crisscrossed his body and all were still bleeding profusely, it was a wonder he hadn't lost consciousness yet.
'Ah right… I forgot.' Stashing the Muramasa blade in his sacred gear once more, Issei watched as the rapid blood loss slowed to a trickle as soon as the blade was no longer in the physical world. One of Gael's men pulled out a glass vial with a needle at the end filled with a viscous crimson fluid and stabbed it into Gael's shoulder.
Immediately, his wounds stopped bleeding entirely and started to knit together. "Ahhhh… much better." Gael let out a sigh of relief as some of his pain faded away with the healing of his wounds. "That… is one terrifying weapon you have."
Issei shrugged and strode over to where Gael was still propped up by his subordinates. "It's no more terrifying than your accursed ashen blood poison. Gimme the antidote will you, it stings like hell and I don't feel like replacing entire organs again, it's more trouble than it's worth."
With a nod from Gael, a second vial was tossed to Issei, this one containing a greenish fluid. Plucking it out of the air mid-flight, Issei jammed it into his thigh and injected the contents. Exhaling a short gasp as the antidote seemed to both freeze and burn his insides at the same time, Issei noted the poison in his wounds being neutralised and his body was finally able to fix up his wounds.
"Well Issei? You got it all out of your system yet? Will you listen to my request now?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm feeling better now. Kicking your ass is always fun. I still want Jibril dead though, he went after my sister and I will not let that go unpunished." Issei stated his intentions in no uncertain terms. "I don't expect you to let it go, I just ask that you hold off executing him until I get what I need from him."
Issei paused to consider Gael's request for a brief moment. "That will depend on how long you expect me to wait. Jibril is still a threat to my family, every moment I delay ending him is another moment he could use to hurt my precious people."
"It shouldn't take very long, it is why half the bloodhound division is here right now. We'll work on tracking him down and then you bring him down. I just ask that you allow us to interrogate him before you execute him."
"Oh? You want, my, help… why not just do it yourself?" Gael just laughed at Issei's inquiry. "Dumb question, we're bloodhounds Issei. And last I checked, dogs can't fly. Jibril isn't your run of the mill would be despot, he's something… other. And that's where you come in Mr the skies belong to me Hyoudou Issei. We find him and you clip his wings… so to speak."
"You mean Jibril is a fallen angel." Upon noticing the look of surprise on Gael's face, Issei decided to elaborate a little. "Yeah I had my eyes opened quite recently. More paranormal bullshit to deal with in my opinion. I still can't believe you serve the church… after what they did to you all."
Gael huffed and looked skyward, reordering his thoughts as he sought to bury the painful memories Issei dragged up. "What can I say? It's a big world out there, the church is larger than just the rotten parts. The Choir was a rouge organisation hiding behind the garbs of priesthood, the rest of the church are comprised of good people. Sure, there are a few bad eggs, but I have faith it the seraphs. They gave me a reason to live again, something to fight for after… after everything that happened. It is enough for us, it is why we serve. The alternative is to be hunted down by Motohama after all, and I don't feel like dying such a pointless death just yet."
"Whatever floats your boat Gael, and for what it's worth I'm sorry I didn't make it in time."
"Don't be. It wasn't your fault, we need to live in the present now. No sense in dwelling on the past, right now our objective is to hunt down Jibril. Currently he's left Kuoh for parts unknown and he's taken the bulk of his army with him. The strays you eliminated outside the church are the last of those he left behind here. We took care of the rest." Gael flashed a feral smile, barring teeth that were still far sharper than normal.
"Ah shit, he's not in Kuoh anymore? Crap, I don't have the time to hunt him across the world." Issei swore upon hearing Gael's report. "Relax boy, we've intercepted several messages from him to an unknown party. At this moment, we still don't know who his mystery partner is but we do know that his work in Kuoh isn't finished just yet. He'll be back and we'll be waiting."
"Thorough. I presume that's how you figured I'd be on my way here?"
"Yeah… he did make mention of a successful assassination of one Hyoudou Haruna, wasn't hard to connect the dots, was just a matter of time before you showed up at his base looking for him."
"I see. Well nothing I can do about that right now, no matter how much I want to grind his face into the dirt. Who are you searching for anyway, I have some contacts who might be able to find him or her. Saves the trouble of interrogation that way and I can get to the killing faster."
Gael thought about it for a while before acceding to his request. "Alright, no harm in having a few extra eyes on the lookout. We're searching for a missing nun, long blond hair and green eyes with the friendliest personality you can imagine, wouldn't hurt a fly and constantly trying to help people. Goes by the name of Asia."
"Any idea what happened here?" Sona Sitri stood on top of a hill overlooking the demolished church. Yellow police tape cordoned off the area and the police were all over the place investigating. It may have been abandoned for years but that was hardly a reason for the entire place to come crashing down over night.
Rias shook her head as she too stared at the rubble. "No clue, I was of the opinion that this place was being used as a base by several scouts from the Grigori. That doesn't explain why everything's been destroyed though, it's not like them to make such a mess even if they want to clean up."
"Internal conflict perhaps? A dispute between several fallen that turned violent?" Sona offered up several theories only to have them shot down by Rias. "No, I don't believe that's the case. You can feel it, can't you? The distinct lack of holy energy in the area. The fallen didn't do this, not by conventional means anyway."
"I'm open to suggestions Rias." The red-head merely shrugged, a look of helplessness on her face. "I don't know what to say Sona, there was definitely a battle here, Koneko can attest to that. In her words, the residual ki in the area is heavily corrupted, I think it's safe to assume that this was the result of a battle between two unknown parties instead of the crows being up to mischief."
"And the lack of bodies and blood?"
"Someone's already cleaned up the evidence before we arrived." The duo shared a moment of silence as they each tried to figure out the best way to do damage control. Having a church levelled in their territory by a battle between two unknown actors didn't give a very good impression on their capability to administer to the region.
The last thing either of them wanted at the moment was for their elder siblings to step in and to prevent that, they needed to get to the bottom of the matter as soon as possible without a repeat incident.
"We have no leads and two unknowns on the loose in Kuoh, possibly more. And to top it all off, the rouge fallen gunning for your new pawn are still out there. This does not bode well. I'm going to step up patrols with the familiars, hopefully that'll bring some results." A bitter smile sat on Sona's face as she acknowledged her current powerlessness.
"Yes… I'll do the same and have my peerage keep an eye open for anything suspicious as well. we've grown too lax in these peaceful times, maybe Koneko will be able to pick up their presence." Lapsing into silence once more, they stood overlooking the devastation for a few moments more before leaving.
Dinner that night was painful for Issei. For one, he had no idea on how he was supposed to broach the subject about his sister's death and reincarnation as a devil. Then there was the fact that conversation at the table seemed to revolve exclusively around his little 'excursion' the night before.
Every time his family members mentioned the destruction and how the culprits responsible must have been violent terrorists of some sort, it was as though his heart was being stabbed multiple times. Their insistence that he cut down on his 'sleepovers' with his two buddies was just the icing on the cake. Without the freedom to roam at night, his job got a whole lot harder.
Issei sighed for the umpteenth time as Haruna ragged on him to reconsider his plans and return home immediately after school.
"Haruna-nee, I'm more than capable of looking after myself. I won't go anywhere dangerous" for me at least
"And if I run into anyone suspicious, I'll run the other way and call the cops" not.
"I'll be fine" my opponents won't be.
"I'm just worried about you baka otouto, you're a magnet for trouble." 'can't exactly deny that' Issei sighed and buried his face in his hands, having an overprotective older sibling was nice but it could be seriously annoying at times. 'Well at least Gael's squad is on the lookout for Jibril and his cronies. I guess I could stay home for more often… once I sort out Dohnaseek anyway.'
[Colonel, message from Gael. One of Jibril's stray exorcists has returned to Kuoh. The target goes by the name Freed Sellzen, he is leaving it up to you to deal with him. Recommendation, capture, interrogate and terminate.]
Issei resisted the urge to break out into a smile at Sentinel's news. 'Excellent, have him continue surveillance on this exorcist and focus our own systems on him. Have Gael pull his men back when we engage, I don't want any collateral damage.'
'One more thing Sentinel, stop calling me that.'
On Haruna's end, she wasn't able to comprehend why Issei was being so insistent on staying out, or why he was so confident in his ability to deal with any trouble. 'Is this what they call teenage rebellion? Oh… why can't he see that it's for his own good.'
[He might have a reason to be confident.]
[I wasn't paying attention to his aura in the past, but now that I am, it is different from a regular human… he might possess a sacred gear of his own and already have it activated. If that is the case, it would explain why he is so confident in his ability. Generally, a sacred gear wielder would be able to take on any normal human without a problem.]
Eye's widening at that prospect, a twinge of worry shot through Haruna. 'But he isn't going to be dealing with humans. Whoever destroyed that church clearly wasn't… and there's still those fallen angels to worry about.' Haruna reflexively moved her hand to her abdomen where just a few days ago a light spear had impaled her. 'I need to stop him.'
[How do you intend to do that? If you bring up the fact that the danger might be supernatural in origin, you are going to have to explain your less than human nature and your 'death'. I don't see him reacting well to that. In the event that he isn't a sacred gear wielder, your king will not be happy you just revealed the truth about the supernatural to a regular human.]
'I can't let him get hurt… maybe if I ask Rias-buchou she'll be able to keep an eye on him.'
"Fuck! What the hell are you!? Shitty devil lovers like you should just die!"
Freed Sellzen was not having a good night. Upon returning to Kuoh he was confronted with the fact that his place of residence had been completely levelled, leaving him out in the cold. Rightfully pissed, he'd gone out around town searching for a drink, when the barkeep turned him down for being underage, he was about to stab the man when he detected the presence of a devil.
Leaving in search of his prey, he'd been led on a wild goose chase around the town only to end up back at the destroyed church with no sign of his target. At that point, he just wanted to cut someone up so bad it physically hurt.
Only his rage induced tantrum allowed him to dodge the bullet that would have gone right between his eyes as he ducked by accident. He didn't have much time to wonder about the shot as the tree next behind him exploded in a shower of splinters and came crashing down.
Speedy dodging allowed him to evade the next two rounds as well. Ducking behind a pile of discarded masonry from earlier clean up attempts, the stray exorcist was given a chance to gather his wits as no further bullets came at him.
No muzzle flash and no sound aside from the destruction of the trees, Freed had no idea who was shooting at him or from where. He was about to make a break for the tree line again when a fourth shot struck the rock he was hiding behind with a loud crack.
Leaping to his feet, he barely registered the sudden presence of blue sparks on the other side of the rock before the tip of a katana burst straight through the rock seeking to impale him. Once more dodging by the skin of his teeth, Freed was forced onto the defensive as blows came rapidly and without pause.
His assailant was garbed in black and wearing a featureless blank white mask on his face, obscuring his face completely. He belatedly noted that the faint presence of a devil on his opponent. Features hardening in rage, Freed snarled and tried to counterattack, refusing to be defeated by anyone related to devil kind.
Their blades clashing under the moonlight, both moved at speeds that a normal human would perceive them to be just a blur, it made for a surreal experience and their hidden observer watched with wide eyes.
Freed's eyes widened in panic and surprise as he noticed a rapidly expanding spider web of cracks on his sword. "Fuck off and die already shitty asshole. Hold still so I can kill you."
"Not interested. I have questions for you and you will answer them one way or another." Issei's disguised voice rang out and he redoubled his efforts to bring down the foul-mouthed exorcist. Freed was skilled, no doubt about it, however with Sentinel's assistance, the poor sod was hopelessly outmatched.
Ducking under a desperate swing from Freed, Issei stabbed upwards with his sword, impacting the fractures on Freed's blade dead centre. Unable to take any more abuse, the sword shattered, leaving Freed holding on to a hilt and not much else.
Whipping out his gun to make up for the lost blade, Freed backpedalled as fast as he could and fired wildly at Issei. He however, failed to take into account Issei's optical camouflage and paid dearly for it. One second Issei was there, the next he'd faded into thin air and his shots went wide.
Continuing to spray the area with light bolts while swearing a blue streak every step of the way, Freed was jarred from his tirade as his gun hand was encased in a grip of steel and forced upwards. Agonising pain shot through him as the grip on his hand increased a hundredfold, crushing both the gun and his hand into a misshapen mess.
Opening his mouth to scream, Freed was cut off again by Issei reappearing and grabbing his face with his free hand. Pain blossomed and Freed's vision was filled with stars as Issei smashed the back of his head against a nearby tree repeatedly.
For all his training and anger, Freed was still human. His body unable to withstand such punishment any further began forced his mind to shut down under the constant barrage of blows and he slipped into merciful unconsciousness.
Once his prey stopped resisting, Issei bashed his head one more time just to be on the safe side before releasing his grip and allowing the unconscious body to slide to the ground. Dropping like a puppet with its strings cut, Freed left a red smear and a visible dent on the tree he'd been repeatedly introduced to.
Letting out a sigh as the stray exorcist made no move to rise again or gave any indication that his unconsciousness was in any way faked, Issei took a few steps back and rested against a tree. 'That… was brutal. Why did I do that? I just needed to knock him out… not turn him into a prospective coma patient. What the hell is wrong with me?"
[Colonel, the energy imbued in the Muramasa blade is 34.9% stronger than when you used it against Gael. Hypothesis, it has an increased effect on bloodlust the stronger it gets.]
Raising the blade to eye level, Issei noted that the metal seemed to have taken on a reddish hue in the moonlight, and he didn't think it was just a trick of the eye. 'This is unacceptable, guess I was overconfident in my ability to resist the curse after all. Sentinel, we will be switching back to using standard blades from here on out, keep this sword stored in the twice critical and continue running tests on it. I want to, no I need to know everything about it.'
[Understood colonel. What shall we do about our observer?]
Issei had his gauntlet absorb the sword and turned to his right, staring at his junior still hiding in the shadows. "You can come out now, I know you're there Koneko." Silence, and then the leaves rustled and Issei's white haired junior emerged. "…Who are you."
"This is the part where I say it's bad manners to ask for someone else's name without introducing yourself first isn't it, but since I already know who you are I'll let it slide. As to who I am… I, am complicated. But for now, you can consider me a friend."
"What… what are you. Your ki is all wrong, I've never met any devils or other supernatural creature like you before."
"Heheheheh, like I said, I'm complicated… but… I am human… when I choose to be."
"I see…" Koneko said in a monotone but was clearly disbelieving of Issei's claim to be human. "You are coming with me to see buchou. That stray exorcist you just beat… he will be coming as well."
"AH hahahaha, I don't have to do anything Koneko-chan. The exorcist is coming with me, as to seeing Rias, well, I will be paying her a visit soon to clarify some matters."
"I wasn't asking."
"I know, but you can't stop me."
Sliding into a boxing stance, Koneko readied herself for any possible hostility, the unknown was easily as fast as Kiba. Ashamed as she was to admit it, there would be no way for her to keep up with that kind of speed and her only hope was that the rest would arrive soon after she flared her demonic power before she was defeated.
Noting Koneko's agitated state, Issei suppressed a snort of laughter. Unwilling to delay any longer, he flashed to Freed's downed form in a burst of sparks and placed a hand on his shoulder.
Koneko cursed herself as soon as she saw that, that tactical error she made was about to cost her dearly. "No my dear Koneko-chan, I'm not going to fight you. Like I said, I am a friend for now, but I cannot accede to your request just yet. Hahahah. Give my regards to your companions."
Koneko dropped her stance as Issei once more exploded into a shower of sparks. Once it cleared up, there was no sign of him or the stray exorcist. She sighed as she was left alone in the clearing.
"Things just got… complicated…."