This is the sequel to Sparrow: Part 1.
The house was mostly dark. A quick look into the window of the four car garage confirmed his suspicion. Aren’s sleek ozone-destroying sports car was there, alongside a pearl colored convertible.
Sparrow tried a side door. Locked. The windows too were uniformly sealed. Sparrow almost walked up the front path and rang the doorbell before he remembered the profuse amounts of balconies.
It took some climbing, but Sparrow found the exertion leisurely without the threat of a hellbeast beneath him. Soon he was up, over the sculpted railings, and padding over the dark marble stone. Even half crouched behind the stone fire pit the glass walls of the upper levels afforded him a wide view of the interior.
Two people, a man and a woman, leaned in across a glass coffee table deep in conversation. The woman, a curtain of cherry red hair hiding her face from him, pushed a delicate glass of something towards the man.
Aren took the glass and leaned back, taking a long drink as he did. Sparrow winced, that could be a few different kinds of bad. The two people inside looked to be on good terms for the moment, or at least Aren was still breathing.
Sparrow was lucky it was not the woman who looked up first. Aren glanced over and his expression froze as Sparrow leaned out of his hiding place and waved. Aren recovered quickly, face melting smoothly back into calm. He stood, leaving his suit jacket on the chair, and explained something Sparrow could not hear. The woman frowned but Aren bent and kissed her hand before exiting out to the balcony. The door swung shut behind him.
Sparrow didn’t move from his spot. Aren could see his friend fine from the corner of his vision. Upon looking outside the woman would simply view her guest gazing out over the lake. “Sparrow, it was you who advised taking some time off. I do enjoy your company, but I am currently enjoying someone else’s.”
Aren sounded bemused, not hostile. It was a good sign. You never knew with enchantments.
Sparrow took a breath. He’d done some research on the area, first out of nothing more than curiosity. His friend was leaving to spend a week in close proximity to a nature reserve and Sparrow had been following the lakeside population recovery of grey foxes for a long time. However, alongside the special interest blurbs of the local newspaper regarding fauna there were warnings for campers, hikers and anyone in the area. People, young men in particular, had been disappearing in alarming rates. “She’s a succubus Aren.”
To Aren’s credit, he missed only a beat. “You have proof?” The words were uttered only loud enough for Sparrow’s ears.
“Twelve disappearances over the past three months, all young men around the lake. Local geotechnical reports record high levels of sulfur in the soil and tree roots, also a hellbear attempted to maul me.”
“A hellbear?” Aren asked with a frown but shook his head slightly a moment later. “You know what, nevermind. Well go over that later. How do you know it’s her?”
Sparrow gave his friend an apologetic smile, hoping they would get to discuss the hellbear later, so far it was the highlight of the trip. “You’ve been gone three weeks.”
Disbelief finally widened Aren’s blue eyes. “That’s– its been days.”
Sparrow shook his head. “Where’s your phone Aren? No one has been able to contact you. You dropped off the map.” For the most part anyway, Sparrow was just glad Aren had vanished into the mountains and not into the middle of a urban sprawl where it would have been impossible to find him.
Aren’s hand went to his pocket, and the phone that he’d thought had been there all along. Sparrow saw his friend’s jaw tighten. “You brought hellsbane?”
“Shredded by the hellbear.” Sparrow said. “Sorry.”
“Traditional approach then.”
Sparrow frowned slightly, confused.
“I confront her about it. If she breaks up with me, not a succubus. If she tries to consume my soul, succubus.” Aren looked back to the window, cold anger barely evident in the smooth smile he gave the ruby haired individual within. Sparrow caught it, he’d known Aren a long time.
“Give me a sign before she starts the latter.” Sparrow shifted, his crouch finally getting uncomfortable.
Aren nodded, then paused. “No ‘wait, let me talk to it‘ or ‘its just acting to its nature‘ this time?”
Sparrow shook his head. “She summoned a hellbear into a non-native protected ecosystem, its probably already threatening the grey fox habitat.” Sparrow paused, he would have to do something about that.
Aren laughed softly. “Well it makes things easier. Ready?”
“Ready.” Said Sparrow.