I swallowed hard, feeling a blush creep across my cheeks. "Angel?"
Martel walked forward on his knees, his face brightening now that I'd acknowledged him. "Yes. I know you're an angel. I tasted the power of divinity in you. I must help you." He now knelt directly before me, taking my hand.
I let him hold me while I pondered his reaction. I'd met angels before, and knew I wasn't one of them. But would a person, ignorant of the planes and other dimensions, mistake me for an angel? Studying the awe in his eyes, I knew it was possible.
"You know I'm going to upset Vara?" As nice as it would be to have native help, I didn't need him betraying me at the end.
Martel bowed, resting his forehead against my hand. "I know. You might have to kill her to take Steven away."
I sighed, and tugged on his hand. "Get up. Show me a place I can hide." The vampire rose, guiding me into one of the side halls. We moved quickly, Martel still holding my hand, my thoughts incoherent.
One thought kept spiraling up out of the muck. Why was I here? I was a low-level runner. Retrieving people was something I did, but it was usually simple escorts.
I'd never had to combat anyone like this. A few skirmishes here and there, but I usually tried to avoid them. I smirked, remembering how much fun I'd had fighting the demons. It had been a lot of fun, and one of my biggest fights.
Martel led us into a dark room, and I shook my head free of stupid thoughts. I was overthinking this whole thing. I could just kill Vara and take Steven and leave. That's what I should do.
But violence didn't seem right. And I didn't think Steven would appreciate me killing his caretaker. But why did I care what Steven thought?
The vampire was lighting candles, revealing a dusty sitting room. "Not many visitors?" I remarked, flopping down in a high-backed chair. It was soft, despite the grit on the upholstery, and I felt relaxed for the first time since I got here. It felt nice to relax.
Martel knelt beside the chair, an awestruck expression on his face, hands behind his back. I felt really weird about having a worshipper, but part of me was enjoying the sight of a half-naked man on his knees.
"There were many more of us before Steven showed up," he explained, breaking my attention from his lean body. "Once Vara became enamored of him, she started seeing rivals in every shadow. She killed or drove off everyone at court, whether they cared about her pet or not."
His voice was starting to take on life, and there was a lot of bitterness in it. "So how have you survived?"
Martel's eyes were pained. "By subjugating myself completely. I became her toy, and she stopped seeing me as a threat."
"Why didn't you leave?" I knew that listening to Martel might give me an idea about what I needed to do.
His eyes dropped, and his shoulders slumped. "I can't leave Vara. She's my maker. I love her."
Compassion and sympathy didn't normally move me, but something about Martel reached me. I leaned forward, laying a hand on his shoulder, and smiled reassuringly. "Tell me how I can get Steven away from her."
His eyes gleamed like he might cry. Martel kissed my hand, starting to tremble. "You are an angel. Thank you for coming to help us."
How did I answer something like that? I didn't think of myself as here to help the vampires. I was just here for Steven, and I couldn't care less about any of the others.
But perhaps I should. I could be here to learn something as much as I was to rescue the kid.
Letting myself care for Martel's plight, I cupped his cheek. "It's what I do. But don't thank me until we're out of here." He gazed at me with such hope it made me want to succeed. I wanted to do this without killing Vara.