“So, let me get this straight. You fought a demon and couldn’t tell how strong it was beforehand. And you stopped for a pack of grief demons I couldn’t see?”

“Yeah. That’s about the size of it.” I am surprised. I didn’t expect Rand to take this so calmly.

“Screw this, I’m out of here.”

Or so I thought.

“Aluma, you’re in way over your head. I’m not going to go down because you’re too arrogant for your own good. Call back home. Tell them what’s happened. The Presence can take care of this better than either of us can.”

“That’s ridiculous. What am I supposed to say? You think they’ll send down a squad because I got surprised and a human couldn’t see a pack of specks? Very convincing.” I give Garrow a sarcastic clap.

He crosses his arms and shoots me a dirty look.

“Then what? You keep looking for an enemy that can possibly hide from either of us? One who likely now knows you’re after them? By the time you present more evidence, you’ll be dead or worse. Don’t be stupid about this. You’re a high ranking, and might I add, trusted member of The Host. My name even has a certain amount of respect among the angels. They’ll trust you.”

That’s the second time today someone has called me stupid. Not liking it at all. I hate to admit when he’s right.

So I won’t.

“At best, they send a squad to look around. You know how much attention they can draw? Those demons will be gone in an instant.”

Rand looks like he’s about to say something, so I quickly continue.

“At worst, they send someone without taking the threat seriously. If the other two demons are just as strong, they’ll wipe out the unit. I refuse to let that happen.”

My friend’s face contorts as he thinks through several different thoughts, but he knows as well as I. The Host for all their power tend to be lacking in creativity. They’ll play this by the rules, and it will get them killed.

“Fine. What do we do then?” he asks.

“Well, I need some sleep. A night in this consecrated area should get me back to 100%.” I take a few steps away finding a fairly flat part of the park near the bridge. “In the meantime, you can patrol the park. I’d appreciate the help.”

The gears in his head were turning as he looked me over, then to the surrounding park.

“Alright. We’ll keep going until we find those grief demons. After that, you report back with the evidence and get backup down here. Agreed?”

“Of course,” I lied. “Anything for your peace of mind. Now, I need to sleep. Keep me safe, Garrow.”


“Well, a wonderful good mornin’ to you! Get plenty of sleep?!”

The loud yell forces me to acknowledge Garrow’s presence. But I don’t wanna.

“Too early… let me sleep…”

“Most certainly not! I’ve been here all night and I’m bored. You should be healed by now, let’s get going!”

I roll over, facing away from him. No way in hell am I-

“GAH! What in the name of The Presence do you think you’re doing?!”

Rand had picked me up and hoisted me over his shoulder. The bastard.

“We are getting our morning on. The doc was kind enough to send a false body and clothes for you. Damn lucky too. He just replaced the one he lost last time. Mentioned something about that being your fault?”

I stop squirming at hearing that.

“That was not my fault?”

“Then I suppose that false body walked into a patch of doubt demons all on its own?”

“…not entirely my fault.”

With some exception, including people like Rand and objects of spiritual importance, angels cannot interact with the material world. It is possible for us to possess a human, but it is forbidden. It is said it makes us too much like the demons we hunt.

So, since the days of your ancestors, The Presence has guided people to crafting suitable humanoid figures for us to manipulate. You’re more than aware of them, but likely didn’t understand their true purpose.

However, using these statues has become more and more difficult over the years. Humanity holds these in such high regard, we can’t just take them anymore. To help, Dr. Matthews has been special ordering components to make new ones. They’re cheaper than buying priceless art, but still difficult to come by.

I suppose I’ll owe him yet another favor for this.

“Can you put me down? I’m awake now.”

Rand takes me off his shoulder and stands me up. As he does, I notice a bit of his coat is ripped. He’s also covered in dirt.

“Bit of a bigger demon to make those marks.”

“Bit of a bigger dog, I’d say,” he replies.

I laugh. I shouldn’t, but I do it anyway.

“Hardy-har-har. Next time, I’ll let the mutt rip you to shreds.”

I regain my composure and decide Rand’s put up with me enough.

“Thank you, my knight in dark leather.” I give a gracious bow. “Now, take me to the false body. I imagine you’re starving.”

He gives a half smile and steps toward a large bush he was walking toward before.

“Your clothes are in the bag next to it. Put on your meat suit, and let me know when you’re done.

He walks away leaving me to my process. Humans and their strange sense of modesty. Why would I care about my unclothed body being seen?

The body itself looks plain. Flesh colored ceramic molded into a vaguely humanoid shape. The materials mixed in are somewhat difficult to come by, and the incantation developed by Dr. Matthews has allowed for some great alterations.

I step into the form and take it over. The ceramic springs to life, changing to match the flesh of a human. Instead of me possessing this blank form, it conforms to my figure, bright hair sprouting where there was none. It hugs me close, like clothing that’s just slightly too tight, but it works.

The process complete and I am practically human. Minus my lack of a naval, no doctor in the world could find something wrong with this body.

While the forms are useful for allowing me to hide my own power, and interact with the human world, they also seal away my abilities. I have to pop out of it to summon my sword and armor.

I reach for the bag and pull out the clothes provided for me.

Oh hell.

I step out from behind the bush and tap Rand on the shoulder. He turns around and nearly laughs himself to tears.

I’m wearing a sweatshirt that’s far too large for me. No way it was the doctor’s, so that means he picked it out sspecifically. The jeans are tight and stop at my mid-calf. And he gave me flip-flops to wear for shoes.

“Shut it, Garrow. I want breakfast now.”