Everyone, but two people, do this... figure out which two.
Locke refers to a barrier or shield that doesn't allow something (Demon, Mortal etc.) in or out of a area
Nebris was alone in Vechs living room. Pak was away with some of his clan, the fight had started months ago. Nebris was often targeted by Gvetals clan, and others that had seen him when they were with Gvetal or his clan. Nebris agreed to try and stay out of areas where they could openly go for him, despite being unclear on the boundaries and how they shifted. He still had Etho to deal with and had started not being alone, Etho seemed to sense when he wasn't with a uncompellable person.
“I've been thinking.” Vechs called from below. “All the other mortals get in on the battles without actually being able to fight, I've lost ten this week, but you can fight, better than some of the demons that aren't going home. If you don't tell Pak I can get you in on it.” His head appeared from the trap door to his basement. “Do you want to fight with us rather than hide away?”
“I said I wouldn't get involved.”
“You said you wouldn't stray onto territories that would put you in danger, I'm not going to ask you to do that.” Vechs dropped some boxes on the floor before getting into the room and hiding the trapdoor under a rug.
“You don't tell Pak.” Vechs fixed him with a pointed look, demanding his agreement, while taking a cloth out from the box.
“Yeah, what are you thinking?”
Vechs grinned, “You've already caught Gvetals eye, he might even leave himself open to get to you. I can organise you meeting him to discuss this war, playing that you want it over. He should agree to meet you again and again, then you call it off. He will lash out, that's when you go to wherever Pak is, which will be somewhere off the field with Blame, I'll make sure of that.” He explained while shooing Nebris, with one hand, from the sofa so he could put covers styled with skulls and a river of blood over the seat.
“Have you told Blame what you're planning?” Nebris asked, eyeing the chairs which now all had covers, not sure he wanted to sit down anymore.
“Are you kidding, no-one can know about this, everyone needs to believe you had a change of heart about trying to get in the middle of two clans. That you didn't know it was wrong, or tell me anything about what you were doing. As far as I knew you just wanted to make sure Pak would be okay.” Vechs imparted as he moved onto smaller decorations, skulls on surfaces and red tinsel hanging on pictures and from the ceiling.
“It is wrong?”
“Mortals keep out of demon politics, though you're basically half demon so I don't think you count.”
“I can see souls, if you keep taking bits from Pak you'll have more demon than your own. What will that make you?”
Nebris sat digesting the idea that he'd almost got more of Pak’s soul than his own. He wondered what would happen if they completed their trade. Vechs ignored him while continuing decorating his home for some demon holiday commentating mass murder.
“Isn't Aurey coming over?” Nebris queried
“She knows what I am, she always has.” Vechs stated.
“Why didn't you tell me?”
“It didn't take long to see you were claimed, and the way you talked about demons made it clear you were unaware. I wasn't leaving myself open to you asking me to take you out, most demons kill if anything happens to someone they are actively grooming. Blame already knew what Pak was like, that's why he never told you.”
“You'd have to ask him. Is he still trying to kill you?”
“I wish he'd stop disappearing when I wake up, makes me worry what he was just doing.”
“Watching your dreams, he'll be looking for a weakness he can use against you.”
“That's not creepy.” Nebris said sarcastically.
“That's the slab clan, even if he was kicked out.”
He was nervous about his first meeting with Gvetal. Vechs was happy enough to walk him there, Vechs was one of the few demons he'd met that hadn't learnt to teleport. As they crossed the threshold the mark singed, a sign that the ground was sanctified, he turned to Vechs, what he saw could only be described as a dragon. Vechs eyes remained yellow-green with slits after he'd regained his humanlike form.
“You're a dragon?” Nebris exclaimed.
“Wyvern. Focus, you’re here for Pak.” Vechs reminded.
“Don't let him know that, he's more worried about me.”
Nebris relaxed a bit, lying and misdirection were far too comforting. He could do this, and if he couldn't then he could be beside Pak in a moment leaving Vechs to look after himself. Why did he agree to go along with this, he wasn't even sure what the rules were for talking to a clan that yours was fighting with.
“I see why he chose you.” Gvetal announced his presence. “You are as brazen as any demon, do you want to be one?”
“I used to, now I'm happy just knowing them and joining the clan from time to time.”
“I've never understood why mortals let demons rule them, but you fight him every step of the way, even going behind his back. Bartering with the person who wants you dead most in the world.”
“I think Etho wants me dead more. He wants to kill me not weaken Pak.”
“I'll have to ask someone to track him down, I want to know when he'll kill you, perhaps give him a hand.”
“Can we talk about why I came here?”
Gvetal indicated him to come closer with a purposeful curling of his fingers. He started walking away as Nebris followed the silent direction. He was lead into the compound, surrounded by gargoyles and scorched earth. He'd knew that Gvetal represented a group of demons for hire, mostly for other demons.
The opening courtyard was large, a dirt track ran around the building, quad bikes were available and some demons were racing around the building. Most where hovering around watching, some shifting earth to hinder or help the racing demons.
“I'll see you when you're done.” Vechs announced as he peeled away from them. He chose to chat to one of the demons hovering in the courtyard. Nebris glanced around, everyone was showing their demon eyes. He saw one type he recognised, the red of Etho's but on several others. He also noticed the attention he was receiving, unsurprised as they started whispering to each other while pointing him out.
Nebris felt safe knowing that this compound would always be out of bounds, all homes of those involved in the war were, it let them rest peacefully. It was weird how much more attention demons paid to rules than mortals, it was as confusing as their excessive care for random mortals which they had no intention of marking, when they weren't killing them or toying with them.
He was lead down extravagant hallways and into a room. The room was a contrast to the halls, bare apart from the desk and three chairs. The desk was filled with various personal effects, trinkets from trips, pictures that faced the other side, where the desk owner would sit.
Pak was there, relaxing on one of the chairs for the client. Gvetal smiled at Nebris’s shock. Nebris averted his eyes from Pak, not wanting to be entranced when his eyes could be seem. Gvetal closed the door, motioning Nebris to take the other client chair as he walked to his chair. Nebris didn't move, knowing he'd been caught out.
“I brought the member of your clan that wanted to go behind your back.”
Gvetal smirked as he grabbed Pak’s attention away from inspecting the ornaments on the desk. He turned, Nebris didn't see his reaction because he looking anywhere apart from towards Pak, but he heard the chair move and the ornament be placed down, not lightly.
“Nebris?” Pak was clearly surprised. “When he said someone from my clan wanted to meet I though it was for backing in taking my position, why would you come here? Who brought you?”
“Vechs. I needed to do something, I can't be part of your world part time with Etho around. He visits me in the night.”
“You should have talked to me, not Vechs. You have to trust me with these things. If you want to take part in the war you can, you just needed to ask.”
“You were the one who didn't want me near it. You should know by now that this is something that I want to be part of. What can you do about Etho?”
“I got him kicked out of his clan, for how he treated you before, I could get him powerless?”
“Seth would never agree.”
“Demons can bind powers too. We can also strip them from demons in our clan, and because the slabs are against me, they won't want Etho's obsession with you risking them being called up as breaking any rules. Good day Gvetal, and thank you of informing me of Nebris’s meeting with you.”
Pak literally stormed out of the room, dragging Nebris along with gales. He barely kept on his feet as he stumbled after. Vechs beamed when he saw Pak. Running up to the pair with a bounce in his step.
“I was hoping Gvetal would call you.” Vechs yelled as he approached.
“You should have called me.” Pak said with a note of anger in his voice.
“Would you believe that I was being honest?”
Nebris was under twenty four hour guard, during the day it was mostly Pak. When it wasn't him it was Azurel or Blame. Occasionally with Pak he got to fight, the other two kept him away. Azurel would only join him at work, Blame would often join him seeing friends, though Blame unnerved MC.
During the evening and night he was watched by demons from Pak’s clan, which allowed him to get to know them. One evening Blame took him home to find Vechs his guard for the night. Blame stayed, until he told him that he wanted them to join him in his room while he got into his nightclothes. Vechs made it clear he wasn't going to look, but Nebris still changed behind his makeshift screen. He chose this time to confront Vechs.
“You set me up.” Nebris complained.
“I delivered though.” Vechs reminded. “It was going to go one of two ways, and I'm glad Gvetal chose that way, though I wish you'd never mentioned Etho.”
“Why didn't you tell me?”
“Spoil the surprise? Where's the fun in that?”
Nebris would have argued that there was no fun in upsetting Pak, but he had other things he wanted fixed and he hoped Vechs would have some thoughts on it. “Do you have any ideas to stop Etho?”
“Nothing viable. He broke demon rules, not sure which ones, and I don't know him, we haven't even met. I have no idea how to deal with him. I'm sure Pak’s already on it.”
“Pak’s busy, the only time we talk is at church, can't really talk about everything there.”
“I could risk you for a moment to speak with Etho, that okay with you?”
“Leave you alone until he appears, but he might take you away to a guarded area, I'm not really good at finding people and you'd be asleep. He won't stay to talk to me if you're awake.”
“I don't want him watching my dreams.”
“I won't give him long alone with you, I'll be getting a drink or something.”
“If he takes me to sorcerers?”
“If I can't get to you, I'll get to Pak. He'll know the moment Etho takes you anyway. Taking a mark takes a while, and you'd need to be awake.”
“Is there anything you're hiding this time?”
“What are you hiding?”
The giggle turned to his madman laugh, Nebris got into his bed while waiting for him to stop. When it stopped Vechs turned to him, his face serious. “When was the last time you saw Etho?”
“Same as you, that day we went to Gvetal.”
“So he's had a month of planning knowing that Pak’s got a rotation of demons guarding you?”
“What could he plan?”
“If he's got sorcerers who he could tell about you without giving away his demon side, he could get them to seal you away from demons being able to get to you, I don't know if you'd be able to get out. If he's got witches he could tie you to him. If he got psychics they might be able to control your mind and get you to ask MC to get rid of your mark. If he's gotten other renegade demons then he could get them to help give him enough strength to force his will on you and not have to get rid of the mark to make you suiciadal.”
“Can we at least speak to MC first?”
“And risk him letting slip to Seth?”
“I trust him, more than you right now.”
“You are a demon’s pet, you shouldn't trust those outside our world.”
“Not a pet.”
“You are, now you should go to sleep.”
Nebris narrowed his eyes, his instincts told him that Vechs was going to leave him, so he got up. “I'm going to MC.”
He got dressed, Vechs joined him as he went to his car. He didn't mind Vechs wittering on about Blame as he drove. Vechs was trying to determine if Blame could be considered an ally of his clan. The pair had bonded, as Pak had expected, and their clans were also getting along better.
When they arrived it was dark. Vechs had kept telling him to take detours because that area was currently under threat and it had taken over double the time it ordinarily took. He rang the doorbell, MC wasn't the one to answer, but he was invited in if Vechs didn't join him. He said he'd wait for MC on the doorstep. Vechs told him he should wait inside, but only after the door had closed. MC was bleary eyed when he came outside.
“Hey Nebris, what brings you here so late?”
“Vechs wants to abandon me to bring Etho to us so he can talk to him, I want to feel safe. Could I stay here tonight? Can you prevent demons from entering?”
“I could do that to your room?”
“It's already late and it took hours to get here because of all the zones in the war.”
“Right come in.” MC invited, he lead them into the lounge before started casting. “This room is now demon proof for the next day or so, you wait here and I'll get covers. Don't leave, I'm not sure if you'd be able to re-enter with your taint now.”
“Marked mortals can enter demon free spaces.” Vechs reminded.
“But they don't have properties of a demon, the spell works against the basis of demons and between him taking Pak’s soul and powers the spell might count him.” MC imparted.
Nebris had the first restful sleep that he could remember. He woke late, his phone ringing on the floor where it must have fallen. Vechs was sleeping on his feet, against the barrier at the door the room. Nebris lifted the phone off the floor and answered without checking who it was.
“Hello?” Nebris tried sound more awake than he was.
“Where are you?” Pak was angry
“MC’s, he demonproofed his lounge for me.”
“Next time tell someone. When I heard that Azurel had been knocked out by Vechs and he'd turned up in her place, I thought Etho might have gotten to him.”
“Maybe he has, he was talking about leaving me so he could talk to Etho. During the night he left the demonproofed room, he's still asleep.”
Pak hung up and the doorbell went causing Vechs to jump awake. MC answered the door, Pak had arrived. He thanked MC for taking Nebris in before telling Vechs to go deal with his men, they'd been terrorising mortals that had wandered onto the field of contention. Vechs found this funny, vanishing mid laugh.
Pak hovered in the hallway by doorway, once again reminding Nebris that he should talk to him about things like this, rather than turn to others. Nebris disagreed, he trusted them both and Pak had been too busy to make time for him.
Nebris enjoyed the relative peace of the demon free room, he and MC played cards. Pak stayed mostly silent, reminding them of his presence when demons would appear and be shoo’d away.
When it finally became time to leave Nebris tried re-entering the demon proof room. It was like walking through custard, there was more resistance the faster he tried to move. Teleporting into the room didn't work at all, he ended up on the floor at Pak’s feet. He felt content that he could enter and arranged MC to guard his room, promising MC a spare key.
When they arrived outside Nebris’s apartment Etho was there, leaning on the wall with both eyes red. He was looking calm, unmoving as he watched them walk from where the car was parked, across the road, to the pavement. He nonchalantly joined them to walk beside them.
“You vanished?” Etho whined, breaking his façade of calm.
“Not your concern.” Nebris told him.
“I gave up everything for you, you are all that has ever mattered to me.”
“Then why try to kill me?” Nebris stopped, causing Etho to stop and face his glare.
“I'm a demon, I couldn't stand you being alive and his. I overreacted.” Etho admitted.
“Are you going to stop threatening him?” Pak demanded, he was clearly angry, his posture a threat should Etho move wrong.
“Yes. I'll even pact to that effect, just let me see him sometimes.” Etho begged.
“It's up to Nebs if he wants to see you. Pact first, you could do it with him, he's got enough demon in him and I am busy.” Pak snapped.
“You going to trust me to be alone with him?”
“Demon locke won't effect him as he can break through demon repellent spells. He can probably break mortal locke as well, he can return to me and it takes more than a moment to do anything you might consider doing. I'll see you on the field once you're done.” Pak vanished, looking ready to kill Etho.
Etho relaxed a against the wall as Nebris fumbled to get the door open.
“How do pacts work?” Nebris inquired, he knew that demons couldn't break their pacts, but he knew nothing else about them.
“You tell me what you want from me, I give you my word to that effect, you listen. That's it.”
“How does that tie you to it?”
“Demons can't break their word to each other, so we're careful what we agree to. If Pak’s right and you have enough demon you should be effected similarly. Try giving me your word that you'll make me a coffee when you get inside your flat, you don't have to mean it.”
“I give you my word that I'll make you a coffee once we're inside?”
“Now try not to once we get inside. If you don't make one we'll have to call Pak back.”
Nebris opened his flat, and found himself making then giving Etho a steaming cup. He'd heated the water with fire rather than waiting for the kettle. That proved Etho wasn't lying. He returned to the kitchen to make his own coffee.
“Now you just have to pick what you want me to agree to.” Etho called through.
Nebris made his own coffee while thinking about what to ask him, once he returned he found Etho relaxing, looking at home. “You defend me, you leave if I tell you to and you do the same for Pak and MC.” Nebris commanded.
“MC? I have no interest in him, I rarely see him.”
“But it was him you turned to when you discovered the mark. I could give you more people.”
“Fine fine, I give my word that I will defend you, Pak and MC. I give my word to leave you should you ask unless I think someone's controlling you, then I'll try to break it before checking if you want me to leave.”
“What about if MC or Pak ask you to leave?” Nebris persisted.
“My word that I'll leave them if they ask and you're not around. Is there anything else you want me to agree too?” Their seemed to be hope in his voice, Nebris didn't understand why.
“What are you looking for me to say?”
“You know how demons can only die by someone else's hand?”
“We can learn souls, I've known yours since I was barely a spawn. You've saved me countless times, and I've marked your soul, at your insistence. I should have made Pak give his word he'd not mark you, but he seemed genuine and I was in no position to ask anything of him in his rage.”
“I'd be dead if you had of.”
“I should have made him.” Etho seemed regretful as he paused for a moment. “You have been mine for centuries. We have loved and hated in equal measure and you've always used my powers as though they were your own, you've been drawn to demons right?”
“Get to your point.” Nebris growled.
“I was just hoping something in you would remember the passion we have. The joy in our fights.” Hope returned to Etho's voice.
“I hated our fights, I hate you.”
“But you haven't sent me away, you don't just feel hate, neither do I. *sigh.* I know you don't love me, at least in this life, but I loved you before I saw you. I can prove you have my mark on your soul, if you give me time to find it.”
“You don't know where you marked me?”
“It shifts, don't know where it will be.”
“How will you find it?”
“I'd need more trust than you have. If you have nothing else to ask of me we should go to Pak.”