My eyes open slowly as I come to. This is definitely not the alley. I squint around the room, but shades are blocking most of the light. As my eyes adjust, I realize where I am. The mix of medical and occult books strewn about tell me he didn’t take much time to clear a space for my body when he brought me back.

I sit up and feel the soul thread tighten in my chest. I run my fingers over it, the wound completely gone. I guess he hasn’t had time to pull out the string after healing me. The doc did a good job stitching me up. The poisonous energy that had affected me from the demonstrike was dispelled.

That was a stupid mistake. He was strong, I should have seen that coming instead of standing around, letting it infect me.

The door opens and I turn to face my rescuer. Dr. Alexander Matthews walks in. He’s an older man, somewhere in his 80’s, who’s helped The Host for several decades. A devout catholic, and excellent medical doctor, his assistance has proven invaluable to pretty much all of us who’ve passed through The City. A few of us have even been lucky enough to run into him on his travels.

He’s not a huge fan of the repercussions from meeting the angels. It’s nice to think we’re all little mindless servants to The Presence, but to learn we all have our own personalities, some of which are a bit… cruder than what you’d expect upsets him. My personal love of curse words ticks him off good.

“Good afternoon, Doctor! Fine day?”

“Hello, Aluma. It’s good to see you up,” he says as he takes a seat in his office chair. “I see you got yourself in a good mess. Care to tell me about it?”

I could hear the distaste in his voice, like a disapproving father.

“Just demon hunting. This one wasn’t too bad, he just got a lucky shot in.”

“Lucky? Last time I saw a beast get a supposed lucky shot, you barely had a scratch.” He lights his pipe before continuing.

“You normally acknowledge skill in your adversaries, even in these filthy creatures. What happened?”

I sigh before answering. Not that I have any answers.

“I’m not sure. He seemed weak. Didn’t even think he was the demon I was after. But he was just standing there, I knew something wasn’t right. I knew it. I, of course, engaged him anyway.”

The doctor looks over me thoughtfully.

“And you underestimated his skill?”

I shake my head.

“No. I underestimated his power. Doc, when he jumped out of the human, he was taller than the buildings near where I passed out.”

“Disturbing… A demon with the ability to hide its power… Any thoughts?”

“Don’t I normally ask you that?” I jumped down from the table.

The doctor walked over to some of his books and started leafing through them. “I’m afraid my knowledge of any such ability in demonic beings is lacking. I’ve never encountered it before. There are some materials they can hide behind, but it’s unlikely this man had a cursed iron wall.”

“No. Ooooh! Unless he made it invisible! Demons are sneaky like that!”

“Cut it out. You’re such a child,” he places the book back on the shelf.

“Don’t say that to me, youngster! I’d been a warrior-legend before your parent’s eyes first met.”

He shoots me a dirty look. For a human who supposedly follows a humble path, he sure demands respect.

“You have to be careful. Your enemies are exhibiting a previously unheard of ability. They may be hiding more. Use your head for once, Aluma! Courage doesn’t have to mean stupidity.”

“Oh, Dr. Matthews! I didn’t know you cared!”

Okay, now even I’m not sure why I was teasing him. Was I scared?

“Child, you may have years on me, but your maturity could do with some work. For just a man, I’ve had contact with so many angels, but you have to be the most frustrating! For the servants of my Lord, I never expected such… weakness!”

I tensed up. He’s gone too far.

“Alex, do not presume me to be human. My conscience does not weigh upon my actions. I do not fail in my tasks. If I was chosen for this assignment, then I can and will complete it. And to question my role, is to question that very Lord you so revere.”

I’d gotten to him. Not a single curse word in the past day and I got to the old man. He opens his mouth and says one word.

Exieris.”

In a blink, the old office disappears and I find myself outside, staring at his door. Oh yeah, I got to him.