Kanya - A name, a mix, an incarnation.

She was raised in a realm of flame and scale, living with the serpentine drakes she rides and controls, taming them to her hand. Yet a few days before her sixteenth equivalency, a visitor appears in her room, lusting for her strange blood. Everything changes for Kanya, in ways she cannot fathom. Who is her real family? Why couldn't they keep her? Why did that vampire try to kill her...and is literally everything she was raised to believe a lie?


6. Chapter Six

The cabin smelled strongly of dust and wood, with the faint hints of alcohol in the air. A fire was crackling in the grate, and if I ignored the burning scent of Light in the air from Asriel in the kitchen with Drydon, it was pretty tolerable. Cael was running through the case with me, and it seemed very, very odd.

"For about thirty days every year, around October to November, there have been reports of cars being run off the road by something that always kills the driver, at least once every night. It happens on Route Thirty-Six between the crossroads north of the town of Courtland, and west of the town of Scandia, about half a mile south of here. Apparently this is the third year running that the sixteen-mile stretch of road has been plagued by the hit-and-run incidents, according to the local paper." Cael explained, reading off a Word document of case notes from his laptop.

"Could just be the weather conditions around this time of the year make that stretch of road dangerous, and the council haven't gotten onto it yet. If it's particularly cold, could be just black ice." I replied, thinking of the early winter months in the Drake Realm. Some of the dirt tracks up north near Burnople City often froze over with black ice, and that could be nearly impossible to notice until you slip on it.

"I would think you had a point, if it weren't for this part. Strangely, even when the cars found run off the road have had multiple passengers, only the driver has been killed each time. Sounds pretty suspicious, right? Take a look at this. Out of four people, only the driver was killed. Drydon thinks it could be a vampire population stocking up for the year." Cael replied, bringing up a photo of one of the crashes. The rear of the silver Ford had been completely caved in from smashing backwards into the telegraph pole, almost like a Coke can that had been crushed, and the damage seemed to have rippled forward to the front.

"Hard to believe anyone survived that, let alone three passengers. It can't be a vampire population if they survived, as why would a vampire let potential prey get away? Especially if it could tell tales. Not to mention if the attacks are starting on different days each year. When exactly are they starting, and how long does it last each year?" I replied, trying to remember what had been said about the Dark half of me in Species Sciences. Two years of dropping it were really coming to bite me.

"That's the thing, every year it's different. Hold on...here, I recorded it." Cael paused for a second and brought up a display of what looked like calendar pages, with red highlights running right through them. "Fifteenth of October to November fourteenth twenty-twelve, after twenty-nine days. Then October third to November third twenty-thirteen after thirty days. This year, it started on October twenty-third."

"The exact start and end dates of Cheshvan for those years." I added, looking over his shoulder and catching the scent of sweet type A from him, prompting my fangs to slowly begin to extend. "It might be something ritualistic that's connected to the Bitter Month. Is there anything in the area that could link to rituals of that kind?"

"There's a crossroads east of Courtland that marks where the danger stretch begins. It was about a mile before the crossroads where we crashed into you and Saphira. That's about it though. Nothing but open fields to the south, and pine forests to the north. Asriel suggested it might be a crossroads demon that someone made a deal with. You know, they lose a loved one on that road to a dangerous driver, out of blind anger and revenge they summon a crossroads demon and ask them to kill some drivers on that road for ten years, but..."

"I can't find anything that would explain why the attacks only happen during Cheshvan." Asriel replied, coming in from the kitchen. "At first we thought it was you and Saphira, as you two appeared out of nowhere on that stretch and we crashed into you. Took a while to actually work out what Saphira was, as all we saw was a flash of blue and a silver claw stuck in the windshield. Drydon first thought it was a rare Smurf-coloured mountain lion drag queen before spotting you unconscious with your drake."

I admit I did chuckle at that, but it's pretty hard not to. "Are you serious?" I spluttered, my fangs still out despite trying not to laugh.

"Absolutely. Where did you get her from anyway? Not exactly common for a half-blood to partner up with a...she's a water drake right?" Cael asked, as Asriel joined us sitting on the faded L-shaped leather sofa, with three beers. "Want one?" He added, handing a bottle to me.

"Oh, no thanks. I can't have anything but blood and raw meat. My Dark half has me stuck as a carnivore. Thanks for offering though." I replied, setting the bottle back on the table and perching on the end of the sofa. "I actually got Saphira from my school, Drakine Academy, as my first year exam. You get through if a drake bonds with you, and you can go onto your second year to start professional training. If a drake doesn't bond to you, well you either drop out or retake first year. Most of the failing students drop out though, as they can't take the risk of failing a second time."

"What happens if you fail a second time?" Cael asked again, opening his beer and taking a sip.

"Same thing as when you fail the first time. There are always an identical number of juvenile drakes to students starting their first year. Those that don't bond...well, the failing students have to watch the slaughter. It's a bit bloody, but done humanely, and things like drake horns, blood, hearts, eyes, bones and hide is pretty useful. Where do you think they got the material to make these from?" I replied, pinching at my drakehide jeans and pulling on them.

Cael almost choked on his beer, and Asriel looked about ready to throw up from that. "What? That...happens in a school of drake control? They...they kill them?" Cael spluttered once he'd finished choking.

"Better that then what's done in the Shadow Academy. That gave me nightmares for a fortnight when I first heard about it. At least once you pass your first year exams in a drake control academy...well, they say things get better." I replied, unable to hide a faint shudder. It was one of the many reasons why I hated shadow beings, what the first year exam in the Academy entailed.

"Something tells me you've got a few stories about that. Care to talk about it?" Asriel asked, as I saw a faint ripple appear below his camel-coloured shirt, over his back.

"Well..." I began, accidentally nicking my lip on one of my fangs. "I'm the only Dark half-blood to ever get into Drakine, let alone bond to Saphira. There are a few other half-bloods, but they're all half-neutral. Half-Magi is by far the most common half-blood type there. Plus some of the subjects honestly suck." I replied, skirting around the catcalls-and-stationary-crucifix -shaped elephant in the room.

"Like what? Not just the subjects. What do you do there, besides the obvious?" Asriel pressed on, as I sneakily bit the inside of my cheek.

"You mean like, extra-curricular?" I asked, hoping to get away with it. "Well, flights are common, watching the fights in mid-air, going down to the nearest town, and a few of the half-Magi kids that are still bitter about the collapse of the Order often abuse their magic." I replied, as a memory of when that half-Magi bitch Talila Clearmaw saw my fangs accidentally extend in my third year, and I had to go to the nurse after she made me sprout a stripy tail, ears, and whiskers, effectively turning me into a humanoid sabre-toothed tiger.

"What the...half-Magi, Order, magic abuse...what?" Cael asked. I take it he never heard of the collapse of the Magi government, after it got corrupted from within and needed wiping out. As for magic abuse...well, I didn't think it would be wise to mention the sabre-toothed tiger tail incident...but I could think of another case when they got away with a lot.

"Long story." I replied, hoping I wouldn't have to elaborate. "Basically, they get away with murder. Using conjuration and manipulation magic to get all the gargoyles in the building to come alive and perform a choreographed dance routine, for one." I added, telling them the full story of how in my fourth year, all the half-Magi leavers in their seventh year managed to enchant all the stone gargoyles and got them to practically flash mob the school in the middle of lessons.

I could see that Asriel and Cael were struggling not to laugh at that, as it was a pretty funny story. Definitely a lot more entertaining than Dark Defence class. "Bet their parents got an earful for that." Asriel chuckled, as I faintly smiled.

"Yeah, perhaps." I softly replied. The amount of letters Cliffside got because I got the blame for everything that went wrong in any of my classes was enough to waste an entire tree. The vast majority of it was nothing but bullshit, and the rest I couldn't help. I always got an earful every Christmas and summer when I had to go back there.

"Mind you, you said they were leavers, so I bet they did it then so they'd get away with it." Asriel added, bending over backwards and stretching out his back. "Mind if I stretch them out? It's getting kinda achey there." He added.

"Sure, no problem. It's not gonna saturate the place in Light like last time, is it?" Cael replied, as I felt a thread of fear weave through the notches on my spine. A Light saturation only meant burning pain and a close, choking feeling on my chest, like my heart was being stood on. Even getting hit in the thigh by a blast from Bellatrix Proudbrooke's venom drake Apophis hurt less.

"I promise, it won't. Kanya, you may want to duck behind the sofa for a few seconds though. I don't know how much of an impact this has on half-bloods." Asriel vowed, standing up and stretching out his back even further.

I nodded briefly and ducked behind the sofa, hunching up small so my knees were at my chest, and placing my hands on the back of my neck and skull. The burning of Light hurt unbelievably, and I wanted to avoid it as much as possible. Hunching up small tended to work when Bellatrix got me with a pencil-cross to the face, so it should work now. Tensing up, I braced myself for the Light impact.

Except it never came. Not one bit. Even when I gingerly took down my hands, and uncurled my knees, it didn't suddenly spring up and catch me full in the face with a burn like hot metal, and a crushing feeling like a clamp on my chest. "Ok, you can come out now." Asriel announced suddenly, as I turned over from my side to my hands and knees. Tentatively, I sat back on my heels, and peered over the back of the sofa at Asriel.

He stood there shirtless, exposing his mildly toned torso and looking over at me. He was pretty attractive, but that wasn't why I was staring wide-eyed at him, scarcely able to believe it. Blooming over his shoulders were two great crests of feathers, spread out as perfect wings at least three metres across, like a swan's in flight. The upper portions of his wings were a pure white with a faint glow to them, but the lower portions, where the feathers were at least as long as my forearm, were a bright, shimmering gold. Not dull gold, like overused fastenings on drake reins, but a vivid, glinting gold only associated with "wonderful things" unearthed many decades ago in the Valley of the Kings.

"Bloody hell..." I gasped, once I found my voice again. So that was what kind of Light creature Asriel was. He wasn't any elf, or blessed spirit, or anything like that. He was...he was...

"What's the matter? Never seen an angel of our Lord before?" Asriel joked, furling his wings so they tucked in and came out to just past his sides.

I wordlessly shook my head, just staring in awe. So that was what angel wings looked like...but how had...that burning feeling of Light...that was minor...and he was...angelic.

Asriel smiled, bringing me out from behind the sofa and sitting me down on it. "I thought you'd be able to recognise our names, what with you picking out the killings are happening during Cheshvan. I am the Prince of God, third in rank beneath Gabriel and the show-off Michael. Cael here also bears the name of an angel."

I was pretty stunned. This...this was... "You are the mortal enemy of my kind...but...you spared me." I stammered. This...th-this angel...spared a being of the dark.

"Well you helped us out. Even a hunter will spare whatever offers assistance." Asriel replied.

"For you see, hunting is not just about tracking down the dark and sending it back to Hell with its forked tail between its legs, Kanya." Cael added, putting a hand on my shoulder. "Being a hunter is much more noble, though tragic. A hunting family is basically a bunch of obsessed revenge-driven sociopaths trying to save a world that can't be saved. At least that's why I'm a hunter.

Well then...I didn't have anything else to say about that. "I see...and what about your brother?" I asked, indicating the faint rattling in the kitchen.

"Why is he a hunter? Well...he ain't handsome enough to attract a demon, so he might as well start killing them."

"Heard that!" Drydon yelled from the kitchen.

"You were meant to!" Cael yelled back with a chuckle.

Honestly, do they always scrap and banter like this? "So much for brotherly love." I muttered, sinking further back into the sofa.

"Hey, family isn't always like what you see on those corny films they show at Christmas." Drydon replied, coming in from the kitchen with four plates. Three had some kind of curry that smelled red, like chillies and other spices, but one had several slices of raw bacon on it. I guess he'd overheard the fact I'm a strict carnivore. "Family isn't always supposed to make you feel good about yourself, bake you an apple pie, and tell you it's gonna be alright. Family is supposed to make you miserable, because they're family. Come on Kanya, there's gotta be a few times your family has made you feel like crap but you still loved them." He added, setting them down on the table and opening a beer.

No way. No family is supposed to make you feel like crap, and if they do you're not supposed to love them. It's what's told when you get lined up for your first foster placement. 'Family love is a two way thing. If they love you, you have to love them back, and if you do something that shows you don't love them, then they're allowed to not love you back.' It's all I've known. If I had a family and they made me feel like crap, then they didn't love me, and I didn't have to love them back. "As a matter of fact there hasn't." I replied, my fangs extending half from the raw meat and half from the comment.

What I said was clearly amusing to Drydon in some way, as he chuckled through his first bite of whatever he'd cooked. "Well what kind of family did you have?" He asked.

Good grief, he went through my mother's letter, so surely he should know by now. Does he want me to admit it? To recognise it and face it when it's out loud? Ha, I've dealt with that since I was eleven. Why would it make a difference now? "I never had a family. Actually no, that's not quite true. I had two foster families when I was one and six, and they gave me back after less than a year combined. Now I've reached sixteen and been chucked out of Drakine, literally all I have is Saphira, my boyfriend back at Drakine finishing his studie, and my mother's first name when I've never met her before in my life." I replied. The air around me was pretty tense, and I didn't even have to look either side of me to know that Asriel and Cael were listening in.

"Oh." Drydon muttered, seemingly fascinated by the chunks of what smelled like pork in his curry. "Couldn't you...well...if your mother was a vampire, wouldn't she have like...a clan of kinds? Couldn't she have left you with a clan member...and they were the ones who...well, you know...left you?"

For the sake of the Realms. "Vampiric society isn't like a cross between the Cullens and the Malfoys, you know. Only seven clans remain, and I'm not a member of one. Mum got rid of me hours after I was born, I've never met any member of my family, and I've had to make my own with an overprotective and studious boyfriend, and a sappy water drake." I replied, looking over at Drydon. "We're not too different, you know. You've got your brother, and you've got Asriel. I have my boyfriend, a first name, and I have Saphira. So you see, is my kind really all that different from yours?" I added, before getting up and pushing away my untouched raw bacon. "I'm not hungry." I called out, heading out into the kitchen and shutting the door behind me.

I really said too much there. I never wanted to say half of that to anybody, let alone them. For the sake of the Realms, why did that have to slip out? I could have kept that to myself, but no, it had to slip out and a family of freaking hunters had to hear it!

I was in serious danger of being blue. Furious, I went in the vegetable drawer of the fridge and took out the full lettuce head, before heading out the boarded up back door with it and heading down to the river where Saphira was healing herself.

"Hey baby," I began, coming down to the bank. Saphira was out where the water was about chest high, her wings spread out and submerged just beneath the water. She snorted slightly in surprise at my approach, but when she noticed the lettuce head, she perked up considerably. "You hungry, baby? I got you something good." I added, throwing out the lettuce for her to catch. She did a pretty good job at it, bolting it down in one with a happy squeal, and unfurling her wings a little bit.

"Bet that was good, wasn't it?" I added, sighing softly as she waded through the water towards me. "It's alright here, isn't it. Though...shouldn't have told them about being left at birth, baby girl. That's personal. Only you and Toxotes know...and yes, I know you miss him and Ohen. I miss him too." I sighed, as she nuzzled her wet, scaly nose into my chest.

I barely had time to give her a scratch behind her horns when I first heard the approaching footsteps, coming from just the other side of the woodsy strip. If I listened closely, I could faintly hear Drydon and Cael talking about me, as they came closer.

"I didn't deliberately set her off. She was the one who told us that she was abandoned at birth. All I did was tell her the truth about family." Drydon said, as I pretended not to hear, focussing on petting Saphira.

"Do you really think you should have said that though? To her? Without her mentioning Cheshvan, we wouldn't have worked out what it is and where it came from." Cael replied, before I heard a faint slap. "You're gonna apologise to her, Drydon."

"Why me?"

"You got onto her about family!"

"Well how was I supposed to know?"

"You're not. And you better make this sincere, jerk."

"Whatever you say, bitch."

Good grief, at least they stopped bickering by the time they got to me, keeping their distance from Saphira in case she hosed them down. "Kanya, can I talk to you for a second?" Drydon asked, as I looked back over my shoulder at him.

"Nothing stopping you. What do you want, Drydon?" I replied, letting Saphira go back to submerging herself in the water.

I could see him bite his lip, clearly thinking of a way to say what he wanted to. "Well...I shouldn't have harped onto you about family back in there. I...I didn't know. So...I'd like to give you this back, to say sorry." He replied, before handing me back my mother's letter.

It only took a few seconds for me to take it back, hugging it close to my chest. "We probably wouldn't have worked out it was connected to Cheshvan without you, so you deserve it back. And...I'd like to offer you a place on this hunt. We've managed to work out what it is doing the killings, if you'd like to come back inside." He added, as I smiled softly up at him for the first time.

"You mean...I'm gonna be a hunter?" I asked, as I began following the two brothers back indoors.

"Yep, you're gonna be a dybbuk hunter. That's what we worked out it was. Lilim's are too vicious to do any neutral creature's bidding, and fallen angels work strictly to their own prerogatives. It had to be a dybbuk, and we worked out both how, and why." Cael chipped in.

A dybbuk? That would make a lot of sense. I heard they were slim-minded enough to be roped into serving a human, and certainly powerful enough to kill. "Why's it doing it then?" I asked. There were only a few reasons why dybbuks got involved in human affairs. One was a soul, another was power, and the third was grief.

"Asriel remembered watching a guardian angel escort in a soul, that had been planned to die quite young in a car crash. Her name was Cassia Standen, she was Jewish, and she died because of a drunk driver on Route Thirty-Six, just west of Scandia, and just north of Courtland." Drydon added, as we headed back to the small cabin.

"She died in June of twenty-twelve, the year the attacks started. Her grave is actually in Scandia cemetery. Do you see where I'm going with this?" Cael said, as it all began falling into place.

"So you're saying her parents summoned a dybbuk out of grief for their dead daughter, and asked it to kill a driver every night it could so others knew of their loss?" I began, working it out. That made a surprising amount of sense...if they were particularly blinded by grief, like if she was their only child, then it is very possible that could have been what they did. "How did they summon it though, and contract it to them?"

"My brother and I did a case of a dybbuk trapped in a box a few years ago. That's how they're contracted. Prepare a dybbuk box and bury it in the earth of a new grave. That's why we mentioned she's buried in Scandia cemetery. We're gonna dig up her grave, and take back the contract." Drydon replied.

Is he bloody nuts? "You're going to dig up a grave? Are you...are you serious? It's improper to disturb her. What if you awaken her angry spirit by accident?" I exclaimed.

"Salt and burn the body usually sends angry ghosts to rest. Best way to test if that worked is to poke what's left with a stick."

"Dude! You're not gonna poke her with a stick!" Cael replied to his brother's stupidity.

"Even so, I don't like it. Can I at least have nothing to do with the actual body?" I asked, coming back into the main room.

"Of course." Drydon replied, picking up his beer bottle and downing what was left. "You'll be dealing with the dybbuk box instead."

Oh for the love of...I walked into that one. Still, it's better than risking being followed by an angry ghost. "Alright. It's getting dark, so we'd better do it soon, in case that dybbuk kills another innocent person."

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