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Hasan Essair

Trail to the Stars

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He'd been doing something. Hasan could tell that much, but without Sandalio here, he couldn't say what. Kassander was, of course, supposed to be resting, not doing whatever it was he was doing, but it wasn't as if Hasan could make him rest. Generally, he was too busy holding the fort down, and keeping the Drago from going claws out at each other. Ksenia was around to help, and very useful on that front. She was a little more direct than he was, and some liked to mistaken his calmer demeanor as his being a push over. Hasan had the same command that Kassander did, it was merely that his was quieter.

Fret over his husband he might, Hasan preferred not to smother him. Kassander never took that well, in general, and certainly he'd be less pleased with it than usual, now. Instead of bothering Kassander about resting, Hasan was intending to check on the transports. His shoes clacked on the floor, most of it a natural stone, headed to the warehouses. One hand worried slightly at the opposite arm's sleeve, but if Hasan knew about this tic, he'd missed it, this time. Hasan had many nervous tics, they'd just remained mostly buried. And then Sandalio had gone and disappeared, and Kassander had started breaking down. The only bright side to this was, he wasn't wondering if Kassander and Sandalio really did need each other as much as they'd seemed to. Clearly, the answer was yes.

As he turned a corner, he felt something off. For a moment, he paused in the hallway, paying attention to the signature he sensed. It felt like Daeva, and Hasan wasn't certain one of those needed to be anywhere near Kassander, right now. However, it did feel familiar, too, though Hasan couldn't immediately place why. The Persian frowned, to himself, and changed courses. He could check on the transports in a moment. The Daeva seemed more pressing, even if Apollo had not reacted to them, yet.

Hasan reached his destination, just outside the doors, as a small trail of golden lights, which he recognized as Kassander's, swirled around his boots, and vanished. That must have been what Kassander was doing. The Persian tried not to look annoyed. If nothing else, it was not this one's fault. Ah, actually, Hasan thought this was Ksenia's guardian. Hasan never had figured out why she had one. 

Instead of saying anything, he waited. The Daeva likely would need to decide if he was going the rest of the way, or running, and Hasan wouldn't blame him for doing the latter. 

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There were Daevas that were convinced the Hamadaeva was actually the light incarnated. Certainly Azrael had done his best to encourage that sentiment. He'd never exactly prescribed to that believe, as Daren had always heard a quiet female voice when he'd heard the light talking to him, but he supposed the light likely had no gender and maybe the voice didn't matter. She'd stopped talking to him after the Hamadaeva had ripped his wings from his body and cast him down from Maharaja. He'd survived the fall, not through lack of effort.

The light trail that had formed in front of him felt precisely like the light magic that had declared his status as Fallen. Daren almost hadn't followed it for precisely that reason, seeing as he had precisely zero interest in another conflict. On the other hand, he was morbidly curious what it wanted given he couldn't hear the light any more and he hadn't trespassed into Daeva territory since.

He was still sore from his injuries. There was no way he could handle a conflict right now. But if it came to him instead, things would likely be worse. Never mind the quiet tug in his mind was leading in the same direction as the light trail. Since he couldn't follow one without the other, he continued forward, ignoring the sense of dread building in his stomach as he did so.

It led him down an unfamiliar path into an area of the city that felt like vampire. ... A lot of vampire, actually. Er. He paused when the light trail seemed to stop directly at the feet of someone who was reasonably familiar. He froze there, seeming to weigh his options. Walking any deeper into vampire territory with semi-open wounds was a really stupid idea, logically.

But he hadn't the faintest idea why the light trail had led him to ...Hasan, was it? The tug still was there, so he hadn't found what it wanted. But the tug did lead further into the complex, he thought. Finally he made a decision, and continued forward towards the man. Either he'd be okay, or it would probably be over quickly.

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That didn't take quite as long as Hasan had been expecting. He'd expected a little more waffling than that, but being fair about it, it was very difficult to escape a vampire. It was even more difficult to escape an entire coven, and Ksenia was here, anyway. Hasan wasn't sure if Kassander had led him to him, or his mother, now that was a question. He'd ask, but - well, maybe he'd ask, anyway. Obviously, Kassander was awake. As the other got closer, Apollo let out the soft beep that signalled it didn't intend to shove the newcomer back out, and Hasan looked perhaps a hair perplexed, for a moment, shifting his weight.

"I'm not sure if you're here because of Kassander, or Ksenia," he admitted, crossing his arms loosely. "I suppose it doesn't terribly matter either way." Kassander had said he'd be back, eventually. Hasan's gaze narrowed, slightly, glancing behind Daren. His wings were missing. Seemed they had another one of those, and it was unfortunate it was this one. On the other hand, he'd always struck Hasan as the type that'd do what he thought was right, even if he was the only one that was, and that was precisely the type of individual Kassander would like, very much, but perhaps not the one that kept shredding feathers.

In any case, he likely still had his focus, and Hasan was very aware the centre of that focus was Ksenia. Whether he understood why, or not, was really not the point. Hasan never needed to understand, that was more for Kassander to understand, than he. "She's upstairs, at the moment," the Persian went on, turning slightly toward the doors. "If you'll follow me, I can take you to her. It may be a bit more prudent than wandering around a vampire coven's buildings following a vague sensation." His wings hadn't been gone for long, and Hasan only knew that because the scent was still quite strong. Admittedly, they didn't have any particularly young vampires, any more, thus he was likely safe, but still. Chances, time had taught the Persian not to take them.

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Daren heard the beep faintly. His forehead creased slightly at the sound, but he left it at that, continuing to approach until he was within a conversational distance of the Vampire, and he stopped. The other addressed him rather immediately, which Daren supposed was probably better than wondering for very long what might be the point of being here.

Kassander or Ksenia. "Ksenia is still here?" He sounded surprised by that, and yet also relieved. ...How had the other lied then though, because they had said - well. In hindsight, it could have been taken a few different ways, and Daren mentally kicked himself for immediately jumping to the worst of them and not considering that maybe, just maybe, she was waiting for him somewhere reasonably safe for her.

Daren noticed the precise moment that the Vampire recognized his missing wings. Well, it wasn't like he was going to be able to hide that fact, so it was just as well, he supposed.

"Okay." Daren would certainly not scoff at a guide taking him where he needed to go. "Ah. I wouldn't have wandered so far in if it weren't for the lights." That he still... didn't know where had come from. They still felt like the ones that had been used against him. He still wasn't entirely certain what had possessed him to follow the lights but here they were.

Maybe he'd leave that part off. "I'm glad she's okay." Yes, he was. At least one thing hadn't gone horribly wrong.

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Did - no. That was a stupid question, he realized that even as he thought it. Of course they'd made up something about how she wasn't. Hasan did have to wonder why; there were things going on up there on the Kinaan Islands he wasn't so sure he was alright with, but he had been the one to walk away from Maharaja. How, exactly, he was still part of the Host, that was baffling. On the other hand, Kassander did whatever it was Kassander wanted to do, and perhaps, just maybe, he'd purposely put Hasan in the Host because somebody had to fix it. Clearly, Kassander was busy with something else, though what that something else was, Hasan had never figured out. He hadn't asked, either. Kassi would either tell him, or not, and sometimes it was better that he didn't. The less he knew, the less he could accidentally tell, of course.

"I imagine not," Hasan answered, turning to lead the way through the complex. It got to be a bit of a maze, if you didn't know where you were going. "The Light does tend to be insistent, even though he's supposed to be sleeping," he mentioned, his gaze flicking to the ceiling. Funny enough, a slight scatter of lights fired to life across the marble in response. "Don't you sparkle at me, mister. He's here, we're going, get some rest." Eesh.

Hasan arched an eyebrow, slightly, at that. "I take it she's not supposed to be?" Admittedly, they'd lost several people they weren't supposed to lose, Sandalio among them, and then Ryan a few months back (note to self, don't attack Maharaja head on, Ryan was damned lucky Kassander managed to save his stupid ass), but getting to Ksenia, first of all, and then managing to take her down, were two very difficult feats. "But yes, she's fine. She was asking about you just the other day, actually." He almost said something, and then, changed his mind. That was her business to share, not his.

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Daren followed Hasan immediately, keeping close enough to ensure he wouldn't miss a turn or something similar, but remaining far enough back that there was no risk of not noticing if the other stopped or something similar. At least if he was with Hasan he was in less immediate danger from those who inhabited this place. The Drago were well controlled, of course, but it was difficult not to worry when he hadn't exactly been invited. ... Hasan being there would make it clear that he was welcome within their inner sanctum. At least unless their leader decided differently. But that hadn't happened so far so he wasn't expecting it to happen now.

Except, it would seem he had been for one reason or another. The Light? ... He's? Daren didn't comment on that directly. "I suppose when the task is never done..." Daren shrugged slightly. It was more than a little strange though, listening to Hasan tell off the flicker of lights that had led him here.

But then ... no there was something familiar about him. Something... hm, more than just being Ksenia's son's husband. He was a Daeva as well as being a vampire. But it was the way he felt as a Daeva that was - wait. "... Samael." Said aloud, very slowly as it fell into place. Well, he supposed if anyone could get mouthy with 'the light' it would be one of the Warlords. "I should have known that." Clearly he hadn't been paying enough attention.

"No. Though of course, I'm very glad she's okay." Yes, because that meant that they were wrong and he hadn't completely screwed everything up just a lot of things. "Well, hopefully she can forgive my absence."

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There the mental processing went. Sooner or later, Daren was bound to figure out who Hasan actually was, as he used to be fairly recognizable among the daevas. It wasn't all that long ago, either, that Hasan spent a decent amount of time on the islands (perhaps a few hundred years counted as a while, though), before he'd given up on the islands outright. At the time, Kassander had more control over them, and given the current rumors and whispers, it seemed that'd finally changed. He still wondered how it was he remained a Warlord. He still thought Kassander had done it on purpose, because someone had to set them right, and Kassander, currently, could not.

Being as he had no idea why not, aside from he seemed to be inexplicably dying and Hasan couldn't figure out why, he was, admittedly, rather loathe to give a damn. The daevas were a very dangerous race, and Hasan knew that quite well. The Daeva Wars had threatened to spill onto earth and destroy humanity, it wasn't too far-fetched to think the same may happen again, except this time, there were more supernaturals than before, and it may lead to a large war between one side and the other, and nobody would be able to fairly blame the mortals, either. They'd merely be defending themselves and their homes, their families, and that would be fair enough. But that wasn't how Maharaja would see it, and perhaps neither the other supernaturals. It was a mess they could not afford, now. Yet, neither could the daevas be ignored. They were already getting dangerous.

A bit of a pickle, they were in one.

"I don't make a habit of claiming it, anymore," Hasan answered. It stood to reason that most would not recognize him, not after this long, and Hasan was perfectly okay with that. He knew who he was. His Generals knew who he was, and so did the Light, and perhaps, the rest did not matter.

Ah, well, very little could threaten Ksenia directly and remain standing. Hasan deigned not to point that out-fear was a very human thing, but also a very daeva thing, as well, and Kassander had never disapproved of their liaisons, otherwise Daren would not still be her daeva. It really was as simple as that. "I am curious, if I may," he started. "You're not the first, and not the last, I'm sure. So what exactly is with all the feather shredding suddenly?" It was very recently that it became even this common; before, it'd never happened, and Hasan was curious who was doing it, and why. Kassi worked pretty hard on getting those functional, it was kind of rude to just shred them, and maybe someone needed a lecture on manners.

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Well, Samael had left Maharaja a long time go, so it sort of made sense that he didn't really claim it any more. On the other hand, one couldn't change their stripes, so to speak. He was still a Daeva and Daren imagined there were still many who looked up to him. Samael was a warlord and had generals and.... who knew what else. Then again maybe there were important things he was taking care of. Certainly Daren wouldn't presume to tell the other how to do his job. After all, Daren hadn't even been allowed to keep his wings so clearly he didn't know what he was doing. No, that wasn't right. He had known exactly what he was doing, and he had been a decent Daeva. But he had also known he was breaking one of the tenants they were taught by loving her - and by acting on that feeling instead of suppressing it.

Somehow it surprised him that Samael of all people would ask that. Would ask what he had done, and how this had come to be. And yet he was asking, and Daren couldn't find it in him to deny an answer to a warlord, even if it seemed oddly... rhetorical a question. Then again, even the warlords may not be completely privy to what had happened up there. Especially with how long he had been... here.

Anyway.

"I personally was found to have violated the command against fraternizing with my charge." Quietly. "The Hamadaeva became aware of this fact and this was my punishment. I suppose it was kind that I was left with my life." He left off the bit about the light trail that led him hear feeling like the energy that had removed his wings, that wasn't exactly important. "I couldn't speak to what happened with the Caseys, I wasn't there for that." He didn't know what had gotten them banished from Maharaja. "The idea seems to be stricter enforcement of the rules set down by the light. Something about having gotten lax." Daren's tone made it clear that he wasn't sure how he felt about that, remembering what he did about the light when it spoke to him.

It had always seemed gentle, to him. More likely to forgive than punish, unless the transgression was truly unforgivable. At no point during his interactions with Ksenia had the light ever felt displeased or warned him that he was crossing some line. And sure, the light obviously was busy and likely couldn't bothered to issue such warnings all the time, but it seemed to Daren that it would be likely that the light would try to call it's Daeva's back into line first?

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... the command against-the hamadae-what rules?!

Okay. At some point, amid Daren explaining, Hasan had come to a stop, and stared at him. After several seconds of staring, one eyebrow quirked upward, and then his brows furrowed. "I'm sorry, I'm confused. I... hang on, I'm not even sure where to start addressing that steaming pile of shit." What was more important? He supposed, that was a difficult thing to answer, as truthfully, he had no idea, there was just so much wrong with everything the other daeva had just said, he wasn't sure where to begin. Perhaps he should start at-but then who, exactly, was this Hamadaeva, because there had not been one, quite deliberately, mind you, since the end of the Daeva Wars. If the daevas topside, so to say, believed there was one, then someone had wrested control where control was not to be had. Kassander had not appointed another, for precisely this reason-if there was nothing standing between Kassander and his daevas, it was much easier for him to keep them in line, and limited the opportunities another would have to command all of a very innately dangerous race.

No, that was most important. "There is no Hamadaeva," Hasan said. "The Light refused to appoint another at the end of the Daeva Wars. And there is no command against 'fraternizing' with your charge, actually it's almost encouraged. ... almost. ... I mean, if it's any indication, I married mine, and I know the Light's not upset about that because he's the one that asked." Yes, technically, Samael's focus was the Light. He tried not to ponder how that worked too long. It was, and was not, fortunate, as on the one hand, Hasan would never leave him, and he could sense it, when whatever it was he was doing pushed him too far. Yet, on the other hand, he could sense it, when whatever it was he was doing pushed him too far, and every time, he could sense him breaking a little more than the last time. It was difficult a burden to bear, but all the same, it was the one Kassi had given him, and he knew that Kassi would never give him something he couldn't handle, and Kassander didn't need him to.

Most of the time, he tried not to dwell on it too long.

Hasan needed to know what it was Kassander wanted him to do with this information. Thus far, he'd come to two conclusions: one, there was someone claiming to be the Hamadaeva that was not, and two, they were spreading dogmatic lies and drastically altering the tenants the daeva race ran on. Personally, he'd much rather remain here, and focus on taking care of Kass, but he also knew he was still a Warlord for a reason. Hasan had only very Kassander-related qualms about fixing it, but, he did have Generals, still, and if he could find ways of them doing what he needed them to do without putting them in too much danger, he'd happily delegate, instead.

"So let's start with this," he said, finally having decided where to begin. "Who is this Hamadaeva?" Because whoever they were, Hasan needed to know what it'd take to take them out. And perhaps a bit of how they'd convinced the Kinaan Islands they were the Hamadaeva, that'd also be useful, that he could prevent it from happening again.

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There was no - what did he mean there was no - yes there was? .... Then again Samael would probably know better than most. On the other hand if there was no Hamadaeva then who was up there calling the shots and why did so many believe that he was the Hamadaeva? And, some small corner of his mind whispered, why hadn't the light done something sooner about the fact that there was someone upstairs running the show when no one was supposed to be doing that? That seemed like a pretty big something to miss. At any rate, the first and most important part of this was that there was no Hamadaeva, at least, not one that the light had chosen. And that was most certainly an issue.

Wait wait. The light wasn't upset about it because... he was the one that asked? Was Samael implying there that his charge was the light? That really was the only logical reading of his statement that he could think of. But at the same time it hardly made sense given the fact that - okay.

Unpacking this a little at a time was going to be quite difficult. And unpacking it at all was clearly going to blow his mind since half of everything he knew was apparently very, very wrong. There was no Hamadaeva and apparently the rule against falling in love with his charge was not.... so much a rule at all. The light was not only incarnated here (so he had been right, and the Hamadaeva wasn't actually the light after all) but he was married to one of the warlords.

"A Daeva named Azrael." Daren answered after a moment. "I don't know much about him personally." No, but then many Daevas sort of stopped talking about who they had once been - or completely forgot. It was natural, after too much time had passed.

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Well, this complicated things, a bit.

Then again, maybe he shouldn't bother Kassander with this mess, just yet. No, a more prudent course of action would be gathering any information he could get about this Azrael person, and then going from there. What was the point, of course, of having Warlords if they never did anything without his input, anyway? That was what he thought. It wasn't as if Hasan couldn't guess what it was Kassander would want him to do. For a moment, he did ponder sending Caderyn topside-if any of Hasan's Generals had more than a dim shot at surviving it, it'd be that guy, but on the other hand, Kassander had also given him something important (Hasan did not know what, and really, it didn't terribly matter), and that was his necromancer. The Kinaan Islands could go get their own.

No, perhaps a better course of action would be... having Cade stand-in for him, while he went topside. Sure, Hasan was far from bulletproof-there were still things that could down him, if they tried, but he was the oldest daeva, now, and his memory manipulation abilities had become precise enough, even if he got caught, he could fix it. No, it was better if he went. And preferably soon, because as much as he realized Daren likely wouldn't be the last one, he'd rather he were.

But first... "Slight detour," Hasan said. "But I did have one more question for you." He may not have time to go poking at it while he was topside, but on the off-hand chance Daren had heard something about it while he was there... "You didn't happen to hear anything about a vampire and a nightmare cage, did you? Probably a very pissy one that was hard to get in the box." By this point, a nightmare cage was the only thing that could keep Sandalio away from them this long. Hasan was just assuming he was in one, somewhere, because Kassander's deterioration wasn't rapid enough for him to be gone-gone, never mind Kassander would know if he was, but gods if they knew where. The world was a very large, small place, as it turned out. It was worth asking. If he had any lead at all, it was worth asking and passing on to the Sandalio-retrieval team.

"... I should also warn you, the Drago di Napoli is the protective cocoon the Light spun around himself. As of now, only myself, Ksenia, and Sepheres are keeping it standing, so it's entirely possible that you may end up roped into helping keep it standing, too. Try not to be too surprised if you're handed what seems like an impossible amount of responsibility seemingly immediately." Ksenia's mobility would eventually be hindered, too, though he thought better of dropping that one on him, just yet. That was, after all, still Ksenia's to tell. And in the interim, perhaps it'd do him some good, to actually meet the Light.

Hasan wasn't worried. This one was a good one.

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Oh. Detour? Okay. He nodded a little, but didn't say anything. There was no point in arguing or resisting. A detour was certainly not the worst thing that could happen in this situation and he didn't expect anything would go wrong with it by any means. Apparently there was something serious going on, and it made sense that maybe he wanted some more information before releasing Daren to talk to Ksenia. .... It was, however, a good thing he'd gotten used to ignoring the pain in his back because he kind of just wanted to find somewhere quiet to sit for a while. A lot of things strained one's back muscles, as it turned out. Standing and walking was on the list.

"No, I didn't hear anything about a nightmare cage." Normally he would consider that to be a fortunate fact, by the way, but something about the fact that it had come up in this particular discussion told him that was actually kind of a bad thing. Maybe one of the coven had been captured? Though Daren wasn't sure what the Host would want with one of the vampires here that didn't really make sense to him. But a lot of things about this conversation didn't make sense to him, so perhaps that was just something he was going to have to get used to for the moment.

"I'll keep that in mind." Concerning though that was, given they were apparently trying to keep it standing and that the light had needed a protective cocoon around itself in the first place. It was a little concerning to think that something had happened to mean that was necessary. And yet, whatever was happening on Maharaja seemed to indicate that maybe it was necessary after all. "And I'll do whatever I can to help." There might not be a lot that he could do, but maybe something would come up that he could do.

He wasn't completely useless after all.

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Right. Of course he hadn't. That, naturally, would've been far too easy. Hasan tried not to look too disappointed, though, actually he probably looked annoyed, maybe a bit sad. He didn't know, of course, if having Sandalio around would help Kass, but certainly it'd free Hasan up to deal with these daeva problems more directly, and it'd make them both feel better to know he was home, and he was maybe not okay, but closer than he'd been before. "Of course not," he said, breathing out. "That'd be too easy." Fate was a very unkind thing, wasn't it. But he knew that, long before now.

They'd find him, eventually. He just had to try and remember that, even though most of him wanted to forget it'd ever happened. He did have to wonder, why that one? Under most circumstances, Sandalio wasn't a threat to the Host. (Most circumstances, because if they threatened Kass or the Drago in some manner, all bets were off.) The only thing getting rid of Sandalio would do was knock out some of Kassander's defenses, but the Host had no reason to know that, nor any reason to want to. Of course, it could also merely be a matter of-and yet, even considering Sandalio one of the strongest vampires in Luxerion, there were many stronger ones among the Desert Storm, and the Storm was directly defending the Academy. The Drago should hardly be a blip on the Host's radar.

"This... isn't adding up..." he murmured, more to himself. No, it really wasn't. The decisions they were making weren't aligning to their apparent goals, and Hasan wasn't sure if that was concerning, or-well, more concerning than anything, because now he had no idea what he was leaping into. This... mess could be more dangerous than he first thought, and knowing what he did about the daeva race, being as he was one, he'd better-

"Apollo, raise the security level to nine," he said, in Middle Persian. The security system loosed a soft beep, clicked twice, and then whirred. Shimmers of gold energy shot across the walls, following energy channels, laying defensive barriers into the stone. "Apollo is the Drago's security system," he explained, nodding that the other should follow, and then leading the way to Kassander. "It only answers Middle Persian and Proto-Basque, but you might've heard the quiet beep when you got here. A beep is a good thing. It means Apollo hasn't decided you're a threat. A click, on the other hand, means that it has, and usually ends in the system shoving whomever it is right back out of the complex, by any means necessary. Apollo controls the windows and doors, generates varying defensive barriers, and I believe it also commands energy cannons. I've never had occasion to see those, so I'm not sure if Kass ever got them done." Knowing what he did about Kassander, though, it was more likely that he had.

"I'm sure Ksenia will have something she could use your help with," he went on, heading up the stairs. "So I'll leave that to her. ... I will also tell you, because I think it'd be best if you knew. I don't know why, nothing should be able to-I don't know why. But the Light is dying, and... I can't stop it." Oh, he'd tried. Hasan and Delara, they were probably the two best healers in the Drago, and nothing either of them had done made a difference. Hasan was just hoping that, whenever they found him, and they would, he had to believe that, Sandalio could stop it. Because he wasn't sure he could stand a world Kassander wasn't in. He wasn't sure anyone could stand a world Kassander wasn't in, being realistic. The world was fucked up enough, as it was, and he feared to think, what it'd mean, if the Light's current incarnation passed when his daevas had never needed him more than they clearly did now.

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Daren's expression was slightly apologetic, but he didn't verbalize any sort of apology. He hadn't been involved in this, and he didn't know the answer, and that wasn't his fault. Still, he hoped that Hasan found whoever he was looking for. There wasn't much he could do though, given he really had no information. He did consider it again carefully, to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. But there wasn't anything that came to mind. He'd been too busy being faced with what happened to him and they hadn't said much besides that. .... And, of course, he hadn't been up there before then.

No? Well, maybe it wasn't. Daren certainly didn't know what to make of all the extra pieces that had been added to the equation. They didn't add up to make the numbers that Daren would typically expect. They were just sort of.... there. And he didn't really know how to handle that.

Daren continued following Hasan quietly, listening to the explanation as they went. He nodded a fraction - he had heard the beep, tho of course he hadn't really known what it meant at the time. ... Apparently it meant that he had been welcomed into the complex for no clear reason. That was an odd thought, and yet. If the light was here and what was going on upstairs had nothing to do with the light then... well. Maybe it made more sense than he thought it did. What did it mean if the light hadn't actually wanted to have his wings removed. What did it mean for his status as a Daeva? And why did he stop hearing the light directly after, if that hadn't been the light's intent?

"Of course." Given she was his focus, he was sure there was something he could do to help her in some manor. He didn't know what exactly Hasan was referring to, but he was far from opposed to figuring it out. That was his job, after all.

Daren's steps faltered at that for just a moment, blue eyes widening distinctly. "Dying." He repeated the word slowly, almost as if he didn't make sense but it did. Clearly he'd understood it. The light was dying. Was the even - well clearly it was possible. What did it mean if the light died? What would happen to the Daevas? ... To the world? That might certainly explain why he wasn't hearing the light though, if it just hadn't had a chance to address things because it was apparently dying. Maybe that wasn't the answer, maybe it didn't matter. "I... hadn't even considered that that was possible." Ah, no, he had not. And he didn't really want to now, but it seemed he wouldn't have much of a choice.

The light was dying. The Daevas were answering to a Hamadaeva that half of them believed was the light. .... What was going to happen now? What would happen if he did actually die? Well presumably the light would be incarnated elsewhere but would that happen fast enough? Probably not.

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Then, it occurred to him, this may not be about the Drago at all. Naturally, and Hasan had accepted this so thoroughly, it hadn't ever come to mind to question it to any extent, but naturally, no matter how good the Host was, they'd never be Sati Lucain good. The Lucains, and by proxy the Desert Storm, were an insurmountable wall, and perhaps even Kassander could no longer truly threaten them, not with them together like this. That might well be the point. Perhaps the Drago were simply collateral damage. Necessary collateral damage, perhaps, but still merely collateral. Hmm. Because, of course, and the Host would've noticed this by now, were they paying the vampire race and the Desert Storm any mind at all, and Hasan had no reason to believe they weren't, the Storm would have no choice but to answer a distress call from the Drago. If nothing else, the Drago di Napoli were equally old, and many of its number were quite dangerous. If anything shook the Drago hard enough, the Storm would have to intervene, or most likely the Drago would eventually splinter into internal war, and that would, inevitably, cause quite the mess.

But if the Storm answered, it'd be perhaps a handful of them. Enough to split their number. Enough to finally weaken them. No, either way, he needed to keep the Dragon standing. He had no doubt he could; Kassander had taught them better than to cow at the first sign of hardship, and he and the rest of the Essairs had hammered it in. If it was the Dragon they thought they'd take down, well, the Host had another thing coming, that was for damn sure. There wasn't much Hasan could do, right now, but he could do that much.

"It would make more sense, were the Host not after the Drago specifically, but rather, the jackal behind us," Hasan explained, as they went. "Should the Drago fall, it is the Desert Storm that will intervene. The Host cannot take the Storm head-on, but breaking down the Drago di Napoli first would cause the Storm to split. The Drago's too old and too powerful, ultimately they'd need to intervene or I fear the kind of damage we could do left errant too long. And that, of course, would weaken the Storm, just enough the Host might well have an opening to take them down. Either way, the Dragon must not fall. But we've lost a large majority of our alphas, and Kassander's absence and inaction is not helping matters. Things are getting a bit rocky." Only a bit. As of now, the disquiet was primarily concern. Kassander was never absent this often, and the Drago knew it. But it could easily turn south, and Hasan knew that.

Of course, it did occur to him... well, Hasan knew that anyone the Host rejected in this... quite bloody manner, was someone Kassander would trust perhaps inexplicably, but perhaps this one didn't know that. He spoke freely here, because Kassander had never disliked Daren, actually he'd seemed quite fond of him, and whomever Kassander trusted, so did Hasan. "You're probably wondering, now, most do, whether you're even a daeva at all. Of course you are. I can sense it. And if the Light did not approve of you, for some reason, you'd be a rock, about now." Alright, crystal stasis wasn't quite the same thing as being a rock; but it was close enough for Hasan's purposes. "It is much more spectacular and hard to miss, when the Light revokes daeva status. You wouldn't be questioning anything, then." Though, that other scent was-he should fix that, it wasn't as if he couldn't, and if he didn't, Kassander might.

"Hold still," he said, shuffling around behind the other, glowing that soft gold healing magic often was. Their destination was just at the end of this hall, anyway. "Should've done this first, it slipped my mind. Unfortunately, I don't think he's strong enough, just now, to recreate your wings. Takes a bit more than just willpower, and all. ... you know, it's love that triggers your healing magic. It always has been." One more coin tossed into the bin of, if daevas were forbidden to love, why would love be the trigger for one of their most important abilities? Hasan didn't say that, of course, but the hint was there. "Unfortunately, when incarnated, the Light is typically still mortal. Mortals, eventually, die. Kassander has not been mortal for two thousand years. I suppose we got a bit lax, thinking nothing could kill him, and here we are. Of course, we thought the same of many of our number, and lost them all the same. It shouldn't be surprising, in the end." As it happened, though, it certainly didn't make it easier, by any means.

Edited by Angel

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Not after the Drago specifically, but after the Desert Storm. It was an interesting thought, though Daren wasn't entirely sure what to make of the idea that they just wanted to destabilize the vampire race as a whole. Why would they want to down the Desert Storm? What good would that do the host? What were the vampires in the way of that the host was trying to do? Maybe it didn't matter, maybe it only mattered that, like, Hasan said, they kept the Dragon standing. .... Kept the light alive if that was even possible. Certainly they couldn't afford for the Drago to splinter or to lose the Light in general.

Blink. See, it wasn't really surprising, in the longer run, that Samael might know that he was wondering that in some corner of his mind. It wasn't as if he were the first to lose his wings this way, the other had said it himself. And, when half or more of one's identity relied on portions of their physical being, it made sense to question it. The bloody removal of the wings, and being cast from the Kinan islands was a pretty big deal for a Daeva. It wasn't surprising that the other could guess it had crossed his mind because of course it had. Who wouldn't wonder when they'd been told quite loudly that they had done wrong and were no longer welcome among their own people.

It was difficult to just dismiss the thought, but he certainly would try to remember that. He was still a Daeva, the light would make it quite clear if it felt otherwise. There was no guesswork involved here. He'd have to take Samael's word for it, but on the other hand, again, he would know better than Daren did. He tried to remind himself of that.

"Er-" He did stop in place, frowning a little. "That's fine healing on it's own, you know..." Not arguing, exactly but it really wasn't necessary for the other to waste his strength on Daren. Love triggered healing magic. Hm. But then there was still a difference between caring about one's charge enough to protect them and actually being in love with them, he supposed. The light, it seemed, didn't care about that distinction, but Daren could still see a line being drawn there - one hadn't been even so.

"That makes sense." Incarnated as a human, yes eventually they'd die like one. Still the timing was unpleasant and if he died now it could be pretty bad. Even if he would eventually reincarnate it would put quite a dent in things at the moment. Then again, timing never really was good, for someone to die. "Do you have any idea why the Host would want to down the Storm, as you suggested?" Going back to that for the moment.

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"Well, sure," Hasan answered. "But it's... probably either I do it, or Kassander will." Quite bluntly, he wasn't entirely sure Kassander could handle healing magic, right now. It tended to be terribly draining, but then, everything was terribly draining, and it was no longer surprising whatsoever. Still, he didn't need to go inviting anything getting worse. This was one of the few things Hasan could do, to make things easier on Kassander, to take some of the weight off him, of course he was going to.

Ah. That was a great question. Hasan, even, only had half the answer, and what half he did have, it didn't terribly make any sense, insofar as deciphering what this all was even their problem for. He'd gathered bits and pieces; actually, Hasan was quite sure that it looked like Sati had asked the Drago di Napoli to follow the Desert Storm here to Nebraska. The truth, however, was that Kassander had asked the Desert Storm to be here, first, and the Drago had, for whatever reason, followed. What was so important? What was here in Luxerion that was so important that not one, but two vampire covens were here, protecting the Luxerion International grounds?

Hasan didn't know. Admittedly, he didn't need to know, that perhaps wasn't for him to know and understand. Kassander said to do something, and Hasan really never questioned it, because he had no reason to question his husband. ... either of them. But he did really wonder.

"I only know a little," he answered. "But perhaps it's enough. The Desert Storm are here, and so, technically, are the Drago, because there is something in Luxerion International Academy that the Daeva Host are a threat to. Now, I don't know what that is, and maybe it's best that I don't know, nor do I know why the Host is so interested in it, despite technically being part of the Host. Isn't that fun? Kassander hasn't seen fit to tell me. There's probably a reason. There always is." Yes, there always was.

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Okay that was a pretty good reason to stand still and let Hasan do the healing thing. Because that would not be good, if Kassander tried to heal him and exhausted himself or something even worse than he needed to be already. He didn't protest any more, he just remained where he was so that Hasan could heal him. .... Certainly life would be easier without his back hurting so much anyway, so it wasn't like it was a negative in any way.

Something in this... school that the Host was a threat to. Hasan didn't know what they were protecting, just that they were. Interesting, how could they be an effective guard if they didn't know what they were protecting exactly? He didn't say that. It wasn't his place (or Hasan's, really) to question the light. Probably there was some sort of a reason as to why there hadn't been an explanation. ... Daren couldn't even begin to imagine what it was, but that was.... maybe not the important part, just now.

"So in reality they want.... whatever it is at the school that is being protected." Okay, that was something. "But to do that they have to figure out how to break apart the Drago and the Storm." Okay, suddenly the pieces at least... kind of made sense? Still didn't know what the host was after, but it made more sense than them directly targeting the light. .... Did they even know the Light was incarnated here? Maybe they didn't, Daren hadn't, after all. And he imagined that was because the Light was mortal in this form, so of course he wouldn't want his location advertised in the event that there was someone who might actually have a reason to want to hurt him.

Daren almost had a headache just thinking about this. "So basically someone is controlling the host and directing them to do something specific. We don't know what they are actually after, or why they've taken control of things." That was, quite the summary, but Daren thought he'd gotten all the high points.

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So he thought. In truth, Hasan probably had no more idea what their real goal was than Daren did. Sati seemed to have some idea, but Sati always seemed to have some idea. Perhaps it was more imperative that he knew than everyone else. Aside from that, Hasan would really love to see the Host try and get anything out of one of the Fathers of the vampire race-like that was ever going to happen, and perhaps that was part of why he knew. It'd also be more helpful for directing and managing the Desert Storm's movements, in a way that it wasn't obvious what they were doing, to anyone. Sati was tricky that way. It was part of why Hasan admired him, being honest.

"Yep," Hasan answered, the heal-glow stopping, as he shuffled back around where he'd been before. "Seems that way. I think, only Kassander and perhaps Sati have an inkling what's at the Academy that they want so much, but neither is sharing. Not entirely sure why, but I'm sure there's a reason. ... isn't this exciting, it's like a murder mystery, only it's our lives. Unfortunately this does mean, I have no idea what I'm going to be diving into later, but the daevas could get quite dangerous... not so sure leaving them alone is a better idea." Perhaps it was a very bad idea, yes.

Anyway, he didn't want to wait too long, and let Kassander fall asleep. He'd hate to have to wake him up, considering he was the one insisting the vampire get some rest. He jerked his head toward the door, then turned and quietly unlatched it, and meandered in. Kassander wasn't quite asleep, just yet, he could tell by his breathing, so Hasan settled down near him, gently brushed his fingers against his cheek.

"Kassi," he said, softly. "I thought you might want to talk to this one." Oh, he was fairly sure he would. If nothing else, he brought very interesting news from the Kinaan Islands, but he thought he wouldn't dump that on Kassander, just yet. Eventually, he'd probably get around to it on his own. It was hard to miss his wings being inexplicably absent. Hasan knew, Kassander could see them, even when they were hidden. He'd notice, rather quickly, presuming he wasn't too exhausted to.

@Sionyx

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... that invited a bit of a conundrum. Was he supposed to be sleeping, or talking to... whoever that was?

Kassander just huffed in amusement; he hadn't quite made it to bed all the way, flopped over on the window ledge, which had just enough space for him to sort of lay down against it. He felt stronger, in the sunlight, of course. It was never any wonder, that he insisted on being in it, and no one ever really questioned it too much, thankfully. It wasn't like he really had much of an answer for them, anyway.

He'd just about started to drift off. Just about, because his head really hurt, and occasionally lightning shot through his arm, one or the other. It was hard to get any real rest, when he was always doing something, but he always tried not to focus on it, too much. He knew, of course, the weight of moving the life-death cycle on his own, something he wasn't really made to do, was essentially hammering against his mortal form, and sooner or later, it'd break. He didn't know how long it'd be, before he finally died. He didn't know how long it'd be, before the other him gave up, either. It was possible that Axel didn't have much time to figure himself out. But it wasn't something that could be rushed, either. There were plenty of personal issues that could block ascension, and Axel had about half of them. Alright, maybe that was an exaggeration...

"Am I sleeping," Kass answered, peeking one eye open, "or talking to..." who? He looked behind Hasan. Oh. "Daren, apparently, welcome back." After a moment, his eyes narrowed. He was missing something, but Kassander couldn't immediately put - oh, wait, his wings. "Dammit, again?" Did they have any idea what a pain in the ass it was to make those damn things? Apparently not. Kass just tiredly rolled his eyes. "You're still a daeva, fuck whoever that is with a razor-laced bat." Just saying.

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Daren wasn't really sure either. Not knowing made it risky, but not doing anything... might be even worse. Just based on this conversation things were a lot different than Daren had ever realized, and a lot worse than his own incident might have suggested by itself. It was part of a pattern ... a very dangerous one, perhaps. And the Daevas were a rather powerful race. .... Never mind if these Vampires were standing before whatever the alleged hamadaeva wanted... there was a high chance that the casualties might get nasty if it came down to it.

He remained near the entrance to the room, feeling utterly unprepared to be here in the presence of the Light incarnate. It didn't help that there were rather dire circumstances regarding the meeting. And none of the conversation so far had really explained why he no longer heard the Light in his head. Except, perhaps that the light had been exhausted and hadn't really been up to saying much.

"Thank you." He said it with a slightly sheepish duck of his head. ... But now that he was in the presence of Kassander, he was struck by the impression that this one and the Hamadaeva felt awfully similar, or at least their aura did. And yet somehow... this one felt "more" correct. It was.... strange and he wasn't sure how to put that into words immediately. Confusion crossed his features as Daren considered that particular addition to the fact that the Hamadaeva wasn't actually appointed by the light and he wasn't sure what to make of that. Why did the light and this usurper feel so similar? What could possibly make that happen?

Daren's train of thought was interrupted by the last thing Kassander said, which jarred him back into the present. Being fair, it was simply a more blunt reiteration of what Hasan had already told him but that didn't stop him from being caught off guard by it. "R-right." With a nod. "I'll remember that." It didn't solve the obvious issue, but he was still a Daeva because the light - and this one did feel right, in a much more powerful way - said that he was. It was a bit of a burden lifted off of his shoulders, though it only deepened his concern for the fact that there were definitely Daevas that believed the Hamadaeva was the light. And, of course, for the fact that this incarnation really was dying.

He wasn't sure just how much Hasan wanted Kassander to know right at this moment, so he kept his mouth shut on anything more specific. He'd follow the older Daeva's lead on that.

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Theoretically, he should be doing both, but Hasan supposed he couldn't do them both at the same time. An unfortunate side-effect, he was sure, of being so overworked and trapped in a mortal body. It was, admittedly, thoughts like that one, that made Hasan wonder if Kassi wouldn't be happier, and better off, not being incarnated, if maybe he was meant to die, but Hasan was concerned about what that'd mean for Sandalio, wherever he was. The darkness could not exist without the light-neither could the light exist without the darkness. No doubt, one or the other's death would detrimentally affect the one remaining, and Hasan was really just going to hope he never lived to see it.

Hasan couldn't help the snort in response to Kassander's less-graceful 'fuck that guy.' Hasan had already mentioned it, but, perhaps hearing it reiterated by the Light himself was not a bad thing. If nothing else, not having Kassander counter him was a good sign, not that Hasan expected him to.

"Ah," Hasan started, glancing at Daren and then turning back to Kass, "I got curious, and it seems the daevas up top are causing more trouble than I expected they'd be. We're still hunting down and finding daeva-cast nightmare cages, and the feather-shredding is still prevalent, and I'd like to know why. I'll have to leave you with Caderyn for a bit, I intend to go find out what they're up to. Now that Daren's here, he can help around here, too. But, you are still the main alpha," Hasan added. "And still the Light. If you've got another plan, I need to know if mine interfere with yours." It'd be good to know, if nothing else. Logically, Hasan knew what to do, but knowing if Kassander had other plans was good for not accidentally ending up in his way. Hasan didn't want to do that.

Hasan was already questioning what the Daeva Host were up to, though. And it was quite possible, his new theories were wrong, and in this game, maybe they couldn't afford to be wrong. If they made the wrong decisions, presuming the Host were after something they weren't, they could incidentally expose holes the Host could exploit. Hasan couldn't imagine Gabriel and Michael being stupid enough not to figure that out, which meant it was possible what they thought they knew was a diversion, in the hopes eventually someone would slip up.

He could be wrong, still. He may be overestimating them. And he really hoped he was.

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"And congratulations." He'd said that almost instinctively, and then blinked tiredly, and remembered Daren hadn't been to see his mother, just yet. Oh. Perhaps that was a bit early, then. "... you'll understand later," he added at the end. It'd make sense when his mother had the opportunity to explain what he'd just said.

For a moment, there, a very long moment, after Hasan had explained what he was thinking, Kassander looked distinctly unhappy with that idea. If he went up there - and mind you, it wasn't like Kassander was under any impressions Hasan was weak by any means - then he'd be around whichever daeva was doing the feather-shredding and nightmare-caging. He'd already lost Sandalio, and he really wasn't terribly interested in losing Hasan next, but he also understood Hasan was his queen, at the moment. While not happy about this arrangement, it was the most effective for getting answers, and clearly they needed them.

He just, wished it didn't mean Hasan went outside of his range. Kassander couldn't protect him while he was up there and Kassander down here, and the chances of anyone letting him go up there with him were slim. Never mind, in this state, Kassander would be a hindrance, not a help. He didn't like this. He liked it even less, remembering he didn't know which daeva it was, thereby had precisely zero insight into what that daeva was capable of.

"I hate you sometimes," Kassander tiredly grumbled, sliding down on the windowsill. He wasn't pouting. "I love you too much to let you go, but I need your help too much not to." Ugh, whenever he figured out which daeva this, boy was somebody really losing their wings. "I don't have any other ideas. I've mostly been leaving it alone for lack of any idea what else to do with it. It's not like I even know which daeva this is." That was a bit odd. He should know, so why didn't he? Maybe it didn't matter. Maybe it mattered a lot. Who knew.

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Blink. Congratulations? Daren frowned in confusion but didn't press for answers. Somehow he thought after that bit about understanding later he was just... not going to get anything. And maybe that was okay. Either he'd figure it out eventually, or he wouldn't, and that seemed like a mild enough statement that it couldn't be that bad either way. There were far more pressing things going on than if he understood such a small fragment of the conversation.

Like the fact that someone was shredding wings that wasn't supposed to be, and apparently even the light didn't know who? Didn't the light know all of the Daevas? Even weakened Daren found it unsettling that this one was able to hide pretending to be the Hamadaeva and his place in ripping the wings off. That was.... quite a level of hiding and a solid amount of secrecy from the other Daevas. Then again, with so many up there reasonably in Azrael's corner, it made some sense that maybe none of them had shared anything. Especially if most of those who were truly loyal to the light were down here doing their jobs.

Maybe they didn't know.

He was quiet for a moment, not sure what to say. Hasan had said his piece - apparently Samael was returning to Maharaja finally, at least for a short while to sort things out. That would let them figure out what was going on, if nothing else. Neither seemed thrilled with the prospect, but Daren wasn't sure there was much of an alternative if they didn't know. On the other hand.... he did know. Sort of. What he knew left him with almost more questions than answers but uh.

"Um..." Quiet toned, like he still wasn't so sure about giving his input. "His name is Azrael, if that helps anything?" It should right? The Light knew its Daevas right? They were basically selected for ascension, right? So it made sense to Daren if so. ... If the light didn't know the name maybe things were even worse than they thought which.... Daren wasn't sure he wanted to consider but at this stage maybe answers were the most important thing.

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He tried not to laugh, really he did, but that was cute, and a small amused noise might've escaped. "Love you too, Kassi." He did, yes. Even if, sometimes, it didn't feel like it was enough just to love him, but it wasn't like Hasan had any better ideas, and it'd been enough the last two thousand years. Maybe he'd just have to hope that it still was, and, of course, Kassander had never led him to believe it wasn't. He still found himself vaguely wondering what he was good for, if that was all he could do. There weren't many instances in his long life that he'd felt useless. He still hadn't gotten accustomed to it, he guessed.

So, Kassi didn't know, either. Hasan tried not to look too concerned about that, but if there was someone on the islands playing Hamadaeva, why wouldn't Kassander know which one it was? There seemed to be a lot of things, here, that Kassander didn't seem to know, and it was becoming a little-a lot-concerning. It wasn't like Kassander wasn't aware he was the Light; he'd become aware of that some thousand years ago. Every daeva ascended through him, which meant Kassander had ascended this Hamadaeva, so why didn't he know who that was? Maybe Hasan didn't want to know, but it felt important somehow.

And Hasan, the name rang a few bells, but he'd never met him personally. As he thought about it, again, he vaguely remembered hearing of an Azrael, once. There was an Azrael a long time ago, before Kassander had been born, that served during the time of the previous incarnation of the Light, but that was quite a long time ago, and Hasan didn't know him, either. He hadn't ascended then, yet, but he'd heard stories. If he remembered rightly, he was the first daeva of death. That was a big deal, as the daeva of death existed, in a sense, outside the natural order of daevas, because that one had a special function. Life and death needed to continue in a never-ending cycle, and it was the daeva of death that moved them.

... come to think of it, when was the last time they'd had an active daeva of death...? Hasan frowned, to himself, thinking... the last one he remembered was Bjorn. But Bjorn had fallen from Maharaja at the tail end of the Daeva Wars, and Hasan didn't think he was still-so what was keeping life and death moving? ... for a moment, he just watched Kassander. That was a stupid question, wasn't it? What else had the power to keep the life-death cycle moving, in the absence of a daeva of death? But that wasn't something for the Light to be doing. Maybe with the Darkness, he'd break down slower, but-that meant there was a new one. One that, maybe, wasn't ready to ascend.

Maybe, a random kid in Luxerion International Academy.

"Well, I think I figured out why we're here at least, and what the Host thinks they're after." On the bright side, if there was to be a bright side, here, the Host already knew where their target was. Perhaps, not which random kid it was, but if they didn't know that, he didn't need to ask. It was best if he didn't know, either. "So correct me if I'm wrong," he started, "some random daeva up there is claiming to be the Hamadaeva and apparently is after the next daeva of death. Whoever this is is still alive. Which is why you're dying. You're moving the cycle, aren't you?" Bjorn hadn't been the daeva of death in two or three hundred years, so he had to have been keeping the cycle moving much longer than Hasan thought this was going on. No wonder nothing worked on it.

At least he didn't just, suddenly suck at healing. Small comfort.

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