Esau doesn’t deal with other demons, and he certainly doesn’t deal with children—except apparently when they run in his home after being kidnapped. Esau has no idea what to do with the little girl, but he won’t allow the demons after her to hurt her, even if it means he has to leave his home and make the one-week trek to the closest portal to the human realm.
Lazarus just wanted to visit his best friend in the human realm, so how did he end up saddled with a childhood friend he hasn’t talked to in decades, plus a child? He can’t abandon Esau and Cyarea, no matter how much he doesn’t want the complications they bring in his life.
As the three of them travel toward the portal, circumstances bring them together. Will Esau and Lazarus manage to find Cyarea’s parents? And whether they can or not, what will it mean for the feelings growing between them?
Esau’s eyes burned, but he kept turning the pages. He was looking for a specific spell, and he needed to find it. It would be faster if he had help, but he wasn’t about to tell anyone what he was doing, least of all his brother. Sal wouldn’t allow him to do this, and Esau wasn’t used to taking no for an answer, not even from Sal—especially not from him. Besides, Sal was in the human realm. He probably hadn’t thought of Esau twice since he’d gone back with his boyfriend, and Esau wasn’t going to bother him. He’d have to eventually, but first he had to find this spell.
He leaned back and stretched, grimacing at the sound of cracking coming from his spine. His stomach grumbled, giving him pause. When had he last eaten something? He couldn’t remember, which meant it had probably been too long. That had to be why he felt exhausted.
He looked around his cave. He had to eat and get some rest, but he also had to finish going through all these books. That way, when the traveling demon arrived, he could exchange some of the books for new ones if he couldn’t find the spell he was looking for. He’d just have to make sure the demon didn’t find out where he’d gotten some of the books. Most demons didn’t take getting their things stolen from them kindly, which made the books a danger for whoever ended up with them.
He got up and stretched again. There was nothing like sitting on the ground for hours at a time poring over old dusty books to make him feel old, even though he was immortal.
He stepped away from the pile of books he still had to read, but one of them was poking out, and Esau hit it with his wing. The pile tumbled down. He stared at the books, wondering what in the world he’d done to deserve this.
He sighed. He needed to put everything back into a neat pile before he could do anything else. He wasn’t a neat freak, but it was already hard enough for him to keep the cave clean with all the sand that came in from outside. The cave was overrun by books now, and they’d make it impossible for him to sleep or even walk if he didn’t stack them in piles.
He crouched next to the books and started piling them again. His movements faltered when he grabbed one he thought he recognized. He’d never read it, but he’d heard about it.
He turned the book in his hands. He remembered who he’d stolen it from, and if there was a book that contained the spell he was looking for, it had to be this one.
He swallowed. Maybe this was it.
Esau sat back on the ground, then opened the book. He quickly flipped through it, pausing on a particular page. He frowned, then started reading.
He had no idea how much time had passed by the time he stopped reading, but his eyes burned even worse, and he was so hungry his stomach felt like it was trying to eat itself. None of that mattered. He’d found his spell, which meant he’d be able to give his brother half of his powers. Sal wouldn’t have to be powerless ever again, and he’d live a long life instead of a normal human one.
Esau would have to learn the spell so as not to have to take the book with him. He doubted he had the mental capacity to do that, so he did something his brother would have been outraged to see. He checked which pages he’d been reading, then tore them from the book, folded them, and put them in the inside shirt pocket he used to keep precious things.
The ingredients wouldn’t be easy to find. Esau had never done much with his powers, but he hoped Sal knew where to find those things. He was brother who had more experience with magic. He’d been using it for decades, especially since he’d moved to the human realm. If they were lucky, he’d already own some of the ingredients. If he didn’t, well, it would take a bit more time for Esau to split his powers and give half to Sal, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be done.
Maybe Esau could stop on his way to Sal in the human world to gather some of the items. Depending on which portal he decided to use, he’d have to pass through different towns. He didn’t like going to bigger settlements, because having so many demons together was never a good idea, but it might be useful in this case.
He had to make plans, but first he needed food and rest.
He turned toward the area of the cave where he kept his food. There wasn’t much left, but it would be enough for today. Tomorrow, he’d have to get some more, although not too much since, he was planning on going to the human realm soon.
A sound made him freeze. There was someone outside his cave, which never boded well. Demons were a rowdy bunch, and they tended to try to kill each other regularly. Esau wasn’t any different, although usually, the only demon he tried killing was his brother. They had a complicated relationship, made even more complicated by the fact that Sal had been in the human realm for a long time. But he’d come back recently, and while he and Esau weren’t close, they were still brothers.
The footsteps came closer. They were light, so it was probably a small demon, or maybe a female. That didn’t mean they weren’t dangerous, so Esau crouched, ready to attack.
The demon burst into his cave. He almost attacked, but he managed to stop himself when he realized the demon was both small and female—and a child.