This alley… Nice little secret back entrance into the doctor’s medical facility/ home. Hadn’t been out here in a number of years. Really gone to hell. I remember when humans took better care of these cities.

Then again, so does he.

I have two more demons to hunt and little idea where they might be. The Presence sent me here for the first one, but with my connection severed from it down here, memories of what I could have known are hazy.

And if I hadn’t got the old man in a kicking-angels-out-of-his-house mood, he might have had a way to help me track them. Or maybe just rumblings of any kind of demonic activity. While my chest was healed, I lacked the energy for another fight like that hidden demon.

If something like that can sneak up on me again, I’m not sure if I…

No. None of those thoughts. Focus on what we can do. Doctor’s office is off limits until he cools down. There’s the bridge, but it’s more than several blocks away. I don’t have a body, so I can’t exactly call for help.

Lacking options, the bridge is the best choice. Getting there without having half the city’s demons on my tail will be tricky, but if I can get there, it will be worth it.

I pull my wings in tight, and take off running into the city. Getting there before nightfall could mean my survival.

The bridge is protected ground. Long ago, a place of worship stood in its place. A place to praise The Presence. It has been torn down in the intervening years, the greater land around it turned into a park. The bridge used to run over an artificial river that has since dried up.

But lucky for me, the ground is still consecrated. While there, I should be protected from the nasties that lurk in this darkness. Even a simple rhyming demon would be a challenge when I’m drained like this.

It’s a sad thought. The great story of Aluma “Firebrand” ended by a low level demon. Not that the irony would be lost on me.

What’s that?

I dive off to the side, hiding behind the wall of a building. Up ahead are a pack of grief demons. How did I nearly miss them? My mind moves a thousand miles a minute. Thoughts too uncohesive.

Focus, Aluma.

Ahead the demons are still huddled around something. Whatever that something is, they seem… excited? Grief demons don’t get their kicks from much, but that little thing seems too small to be a dead body. If only they could get out of the way, I might see it!

I get my wish, but not how I expect. The demons poof into a puff of sulfur, whatever they were obsessing over going with them. I don’t like this. Grief demons themselves are insignificant, but exhibiting such odd behavior, coupled with the demon who could hide his power earlier…

I really don’t like this. No time to waste, though. Have to get to the bridge. I can think over this all I want once I’m there.

The city seems to fly by me as I resume my rush to the sacred ground. With each step, I hear it. It can’t be coincidence, as each pitter patter of foot hitting ground happens almost exactly as my own do. And they’re keeping up with me, which is no easy feat for a mortal.

Demon’s can’t enter hallowed ground, but a human certainly can. And there are ways for a human to… No. Get to the bridge. You can stop worrying about the demons then, and focus on the human.

I turn down side streets, half hoping I might lose him in the confusion, but he keeps up at every twist.

C’mon, I’m nearly there. Just a little bit more…

“Base! Haha! I’m on blessed ground now, so don’t you-“

I turn and face my pursuer and come face to face with the last person I expected.

“Well, you’re pretty spry for a nearly dead halo. How are you, Alli?”

Before me stood Rand Garrow, an old friend.

“What the actual Hell, Garrow? Why were you following me?!” the words spit from my mouth with a fire that nearly lights up my sword.

“Calm down! I’m just checking on ya, girlie! The doc put out a call for someone to keep an eye on you when you first landed,” he says with a smile. I can’t stay too mad at him. I have to admit, the accent helps.

“Why would he care?” I pout.

I look over Garrow, his outfit absolutely ridiculous. He’s clad head to toe in black, little pouches at his waist. In them, he has gadgets and gizmos, that I’m fairly certain he doesn’t use half the time in his line of work. He’s covered in a long coat. It’s an old thing, likely something he keeps for a reason.

“He may have kicked you out, but he is still a believer. He knows you need help. I told him I’d be the best to calm you down if he pissed you off.” He giggles. “Which he obviously did.”

“And the sneaking up on me helped with that how?”

“Figured I’d never get the chance to catch an angel unawares again, and thought I’d have some fun.”

I give a slow clap.

“Bravo. Really calmed me right down.”

He gives an exaggerated bow, then returns to standing, a massive grin on his face.

“Now, how can I be of service to a heavenly host?”

“I need some sleep. Doc stitched me up, but I’m still not at 100%. While I rest until morning, you keep watch. Saw some grief demons escaped you earlier.”

Rand’s face contorts, his eyebrows smushing together as he stares at me intently.

“Grief demons? Nearby? That’s impossible, I’d have sensed them.”

Oh. Oh shit.

“Garrow, I can’t take another game right now, so please be serious. I saw a pack of grief demons just back the way we came.” I point back from the way we ran here.

“It was just before you started following me.”

Rand shakes his head.

“Alli, I’ve been following you since the Doc’s place. We never saw grief demons on the way here.”

Yeah. Okay. Now I’m starting to worry.