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(Chaining Nikodemos Part IX)

A long time ago, back when it didn’t seem particularly relevant, Rasmus insisted his sister’s paranoia was mere egotism; the fact that she felt like someone was watching her, that anyone thought about her enough to have it out for her, came from her need to be important. The need to feel less isolated as the two orphaned travelers walked the world gathering no moss. She’d always watched her back in a superfluous way. He’d think, with all her previous experience giving the ceiling a second glance every time she had to scratch a private place, she’d manage herself. Yet, something was different this time.

The dark earth released cold air with each step. The dew of the morning bit extra painfully, but that wasn’t what caused her body to shudder from spine to shoulders. Kaia’s heart pounded without preamble, and she whipped her head around.

What? ” Rasmus spat.

He had not had a good night. As they made their way through the rocky path, the mountains escalated in difficulty the farther they rose. It became tough to find flat ground. It wasn’t until they came across an abandoned graveyard, bramble concealing the collapsed wall, that they finally were able to make bed for the night.

Rasmus shambled like he’d slept in a grave rather than on top of it, dark smears of mud in his hair, patched along his shoulders, elbows, and knees. Dark circles ringed the pale skin underneath his eyes. Kaia, somewhat hoping they’d seen a ghost, faired better, and she managed to crack a smile.

“Rasmus, do you think it’s possible he’s been following us?”

“Who?” her brother snapped. His face softened into incredulity. “The demon?”

Kaia rubbed the back of her neck, sheepish. Rasmus gave a quick twitch of a look over his shoulder. He swallowed hard, a little too enthusiastically, before saying, “What purpose would that serve him? Come on, Kaia.”

He clapped her on the back with a cheerful smile and ushered her onward. She moved for a bit, feeling a strange tension in her stomach—frustration that came whenever she avoided conflict.

She spun around him, lips parted softly, brown eyes large with worry—a puppy dog’s expression that didn’t suit her in the minds of anyone who knew her. “But what if he is? Or… something else? Rasmus, I felt something watching me, heard weird sounds… Let’s face it, we haven’t found one trace of him since we left. We’ve been running around blind.”

“That’s more proof that the bastard just booked it the second he got out of sight.”

“With no evidence?”

“He’s a legendary monster.”

“Exactly! Demons are known for blasting out pieces of cities because they couldn’t figure out a door. If he’s hidden his tracks, it’s because he has something to worry about. Doesn’t it make sense he might be staying close by?”

“I think you’re giving him too much credit.”

“There’s nothing demons love more than fiery explosions of chaos!”

Rasmus opened his mouth to argue when Kaia shuddered violently. He gave a deep sigh as she whipped to her left.

“Do you smell smoke?”

“No, I really don’t.” He continued to walk.

“I hear crackling.”

“Kaia, don’t tell me your delusions.”

The light of the fireball brightened the morning sky a second before the ear-splitting boom. Kaia threw herself backwards, arms over her face, Rasmus jumping like a startled cat. But only a warm wind brushed against them, the explosion controlled far off into the forest of the dim morning.

Weariness shed off like rain when the trees ignited. They bolted: Rasmus towards the explosion, Kaia away.

The boom had been off at a distance, only an orange flash and brisk wind reaching them, but Rasmus didn’t slow. He kept at a brisk pace, jumping over bushes and ducking without branches. He didn’t think to breath, adrenaline muting the cries of his body to take a break.

He came across the clearing. Smoke wafted away from a few obliterated trees, jabbing like crooked teeth in the corner. Men stood around in a haphazard circle, some with red cloaks across their shoulders, others dressed down to undergarments, holding up jars of urine-colored drink and laughing loudly. The light died, but the heat remained, sweat on their foreheads.

The demeanor of the Vampire Hunters had changed. Each of the stern cold faces in the town before altered to boyish grins. No one seemed oh so serious about their respectability now.

Rasmus stood, dumbfounded, arms by his sides. He looked around, jaw slack, too focused on comprehension to feel foolish. It wasn’t until a head turned that he clamped shut, heart shooting into his throat in terror. But the man in the tallest hat grinned broadly and tipped it.

“We’d assume that we’d keep running into you, considering we’ve been on the same trail. Where have you been?” he said.

He was one of the older men, a small gray beard on his chin, and eyes wrinkled by years of friendly smiles.

Rasmus swallowed hard, his jaw tightening. “What are you doing?”

The hunter’s beady eyes glistened with pride. “We need to get rid of nature’s aura, and the fastest way, of course, is by gun powder.”

“Thought that was expensive.”

The men, some apparently listening more than he’d thought, laughed.

“We just happen to come across a diversion here,” the older man explained. “He gave us the slip. He kept his ‘shedding’ to the minimum. But, of course, he can’t get rid of all his aura. It’s just fainter now.”

“Oh,” Rasmus said, watching another hunter dig off the top dirt to place it in a jar. “So, you’re acting on the belief he is truly a demon.”

A random hunter scoffed at him. “What do you think?”

“I think it’s unlikely,” Rasmus shrugged.

One of the guild member’s snapped his head around at a sound. Rasmus could hear the rustles in the leaves behind him, but he ignored them. Kaia was a good sneak, and if they didn’t mind his presence, she was safe. The alert hunter headed off into the bushes, distractedly brushing past Rasmus, who just moved closer, continuing, “I don’t mean anything. I just have a policy of only personally confirming it.”

The men were now all looking at him, some smiling with a judgmental amusement. He felt a prick of alarm.

“Well, freelancer,” said someone from the shadows. “You seem to be a little timid. Not a blow hard?” His eyes were a bright blue, face white and clean. With a strong jaw and a determined stare, Rasmus felt a strange hint of intimidation. The stranger smiled at him, but this was not a mere chime in. It was the man from the bar, the one who had an uncomfortable side-eye for Kaia.

Rasmus turned to him, hiding his disgust. “Maybe. What makes you say that?”

They each gave a once over. A strange electricity running hot in his stomach, causing Rasmus to fall back a step.

“Pardon my men,” the hunter told him, stepping close. “They’re used to the boundless faith sort of people. Haven’t really seen many who don’t think we know our stuff. Usually those who do have a tendency to not trust us don’t like our intentions more than not believe our experience.”

“I’m not saying you’re wrong. It’s pretty unbelievable—”

“In my time,” the lead hunter interjected, “freelancers don’t really like the guild. They’ve had bad memories with us. Your work is illegal, you know.”

A woman’s cry pierced into the air. Deep, short, it was a yelp of surprised pain, and though Rasmus didn’t recognize the voice, his instincts had him running before he even completed the turn.

“Let her go, you sonofabitch!” Rasmus shouted.

He didn’t know what he expected. He burst through the leaves, gaping into the shadowy woods. The demon? The hunter? His sister? A body? A banshee? His mind shot through possibilities, and yet he never predicted to see who was collapsed into the dirt.

The voice made so much sense. The young witch’s beautiful face contorted in pain as the hunter held her long, curling black hair in a fist.

“You,” Rasmus whispered.

“Oihane,” she spat, wrenching herself free with a hard turn. She twisted the hunter’s wrist, breaking the grip at the thumb before clambering to her feet like a fallen mountain cat. She growled at the man, the gossamer fabric of her dress draping down a curved back. Bare feet, coated in mud, deftly danced backwards, moving closer to Rasmus before she pulled herself tall, shoulders and hands still forward, ready to claw.

“What are you doing here?” Raiden asked, breathless.

She gave him a double take, not safe enough to remove her eyes from the man who’d tried to grab her.

“I have some information for you,” she whispered back, anger still flaming.

Other hunters gathered around, and Rasmus gave the situation hard consideration. His heart thudded, uncertain on the woman’s intention. He swallowed hard.

“She’s helping me,” Rasmus said, holding his hands up in peace. “Which is what you want. She didn’t intend to sneak up on us.”

“She’s one of the Wyrd’s bitches,” her attacker said. “Look at the bones on her necklace. What’s in that pouch?”

“Your brains, apparently.” She tucked closer to Rasmus, but that only made them more surrounded.

“It’s not illegal,” Rasmus glowered. “The Hunters Guild—”

“I don’t care what the official policy is,” the hostile man fired back. “People like that bring out the creatures. You can’t keep traipsing in and out of the territory and not carry along a hitchhiker with you.”

“You don’t know anything about how this works, you monkey,” Oihane replied, raising her chin.

Rasmus put a hand on her shoulder and she relaxed.

“Stop it. We’re going to—” Rasmus started.

“Do you have any idea the sightings the villages with witches have?” said the older man. “How the size of a coven can impact—”

“Those people bring death on us,” another man agreed.

Rasmus felt them closing in, though his eyes were trained on the clearing to his left. The men were still calm enough…

“Listen, traveler,” the leader said to Rasmus. “Send her home. She’s no good to you here. She’ll just attract—”

“Wait a minute,” her attacker said. “What? Just let her go? She’s obviously up to something. Don’t use that white knight to protect you. That guy couldn’t even stand his own against just me.”

A couple of men shouted some more jabs, some mocking their companion, some the two strangers in their midst. Rasmus felt sick to his stomach. Large groups of men, drunken, powerful, the Hunters Guild always scared him, but he didn’t fully understand why until that moment.

He straightened his back. “We’re just going to go.”

“Oh no you don’t…”

But before Rasmus could even look back, the blue-eyed hunter had swooped forward, arm outstretched between Rasmus and his aggressor. The blue-eyed hunter asked his companion, “What are you going to do? Beat the crap out of a lone woman? Come on. Think.”

Suddenly, the red cloak was beside him, escorting them out of the circle. “Get back to where you came from,” the blue-eyed hunter said.

This brought some confusing laughter from the crowd. Oihane took the opportunity, clutching her leather stringed purse to her chest and rushing forward with apt understand of where the twigs and rocks were. Rasmus frowned back at them, but when the jeers grow louder, turning to taunts—“Where you going beautiful? Don’t you want to play? And the witch can stay too!”—the blue-eyed hunter pushed Rasmus hard, and they moved quickly back towards the way they’d come.

They moved quickly through the forest, the shadows cold on Rasmus’s face, the trio’s tightness breaking apart. Oihane almost sprinted, her feet like a deer’s, black curls flying out behind her. Rasmus kept his attention on the man jogging behind him. His thoughts turned to his sister. Was she seeing this? Why hadn’t he paid attention to where she’d gone?

Kaia wandered the forest, giving a squinting eye to her left and right. She definitely felt something, no matter what her brother said.

Her nerves had calmed, and though she could no longer see a stream of smoke, tall trees surrounding her, she thought she was headed in the right direction. Rasmus, despite being a massive idiot, could take care of himself. Now she trailed along, making her steps the quietest they could be, hoping she’d catch the peeping eye of whatever it was that followed her. Deep voices trailed off into the distance, but she had a good idea that it was nothing dangerous. It wasn’t the demon they were looking for, because he was swift and sleek, and trying to scare the shit out of her.

Yet, by nature, she found herself drawing in, closer and closer to the sounds, the words becoming more and distinct, until she recognized loud and clear her brother’s:

“No, you listen, you idiot—”

…and another, strangely familiar voice:

“Hey, I just saved your life in there.”

“You really think they were going to kill us?”

“Fine, your ass. Whatever. I just wanted to say—”

“You wanted to say nothing. Quit talking down to me.”

“Boys, boys, the fight is over. You’re both going to the ball.” The woman’s voice made Kaia stop short. She definitely recognized it, the sound grating on her. She moved forward swiftly, her attention no longer on the wilderness around her.

“Look,” the stranger breathed. “I just want to warn you.”

“We’ve been warned, okay? We know what we’re dealing with.” Rasmus sounded pissed.

“No, you haven’t. Have you ever heard the story about the sorcerer who released a demon in hope of retrieving powers from him?”

“I’ve heard quite a few like that.”

“Do you remember how the story always ends?”


“Demons have an odd sense of guilt,” the stranger insisted. “They don’t like owing people their freedom.”

Kaia was close. She crept inward, seeing a flash of red. A hunter? She ducked down, edging her way like a spider in the bush. To her disappointment, she could clearly make out the face of the witch. Rasmus’s back was to her, but his shoulders dropped as he released a loud sigh.

“Alright. I’ll be sure to find her,” her brother said.

“I know you don’t want to think about it, but do not let him get close to her.”

Rasmus nodded hard. Kaia moved forward until she could see the blue eyes of the man who spoke.

“And, don’t worry,” Rasmus said with a sudden, false cheer. “I’ll be sure to tell her you were concerned.”

The crimson man’s face was grim, tainted with irritation, but he allowed Kaia’s brother to walk off.

“I’m Leslo,” he said finally.

“I’ll be sure to tell her that too,” Rasmus glowered mockingly.

The hunter paused a moment, then gave a nod. He left.

Rasmus and Oihane stood quietly for a moment, thinking. Kaia watched the witch’s eyes remaining steadily on Rasmus and felt a disgusted heat rising. Finally, he raised his gaze, snapping back to reality.

“We have to find Kaia.”

“Wait,” the witch said, moving forward with a hand out, just too timid to touch him. “I came to help.”

“To help?” He studied her wistfully. “Why?

“I know you found my services… lacking,” she said, voice deep in her chest. “I need to redeem myself.”

“It wasn’t—”

“I will help you figure out what is going on. I did not mess up.”

He squinted an eye. “Lacking?”

“You had gone to get a second opinion,” she said, forceful.

“No.” He held up his arms. “We went up the mountain… but not to get a second opinion.”

“Don’t fall for it,” Kaia said, standing.

They jumped.

“That’s how they got you the last time.”

She brushed off the leaves and twigs, taking a big step over the bush.

“What are you talking about?” Rasmus scowled.

“What do you know about demons?” Kaia asked.

Oihane arched a brow. “More than you, most likely.”

Kaia scoffed.

“We think we’re being followed,” Rasmus said.

Kaia shot him a look.

“I just got new information,” he explained.

“From a more reputable source?” Kaia nodded knowingly. “Leave me out of it.” She walked away from him, eyeing the shadowy trees.

Rasmus hardened. “Fine. I believe I’m being followed. Can you help with that?”

Oihane moved closer. “What were you thinking?”

“I just need another simple scry spell.”

Kaia just raised her brows at this, barely biting back a comment.

“I’m not sure how well it will work,” the witch said thoughtfully.

“If it doesn’t, we get it for free, right?” Kaia asked.

They ignored her, both deep in thought.

“I’m just saying you have a track record. It can’t all be by coincidence,” she added.

Long black hair dangling over her tilted ear, the witch gave Kaia a meaningful stare. “It is never a coincidence.”

“Oh good.”

“But that does not mean it is a mistake on my part.”

“But it’s the most likely.”

“Shut up, Kaia,” Rasmus spat.

“No,” the witch said, serious. “She’s right. Let’s use this as a test. I found it odd I could not find one of your family members. We need to try again; if nothing happens, we will know there is something wrong.”

“Like what?” Kaia demanded.

“Maybe they are dead?” Rasmus said.

“Not unless the entire town has been replaced by monsters per our original thought.” Kaia eyed the witch over. “You’re human, right?”

“Don’t answer that,” Rasmus said. “It’s different this time. I’m willing to pay you.”

“I agree with your sister. I’m not an expert in scrying, but this has concerned me. I came after you because I think something is very wrong. We need to experiment. And if the demon is on your tail…” She undid the string of the purse. “I brought the ingredients to use. You’re in danger. I sense it. I want to help.”

“So… what I’m hearing is you don’t want money,” Kaia said.

“Yes,” the witch replied, disgusted.

“Well, it wasn’t so obvious last time.”

“Kaia, do you need to wait somewhere else?” Rasmus demanded.

“That may be preferable,” the witch said.

“Feel free,” he agreed.

Kaia just stood there as if she hadn’t heard. Oihane crouched down, the hem of her tan dress dusting the earth. She carefully brushed away some of the grass at a poor attempt to get a clean space before pulling out some small bottles and a mortar and pestle.

“Man, how were you carrying that around?” Rasmus asked.

“I need a fire,” she ordered.

Kaia remained standing. Rasmus took to gathering some fallen branches. It seemed animals had been through there because there were plenty for the picking. He began rubbing two together. They worked in silence for a time, both concentrating on their jobs. Rasmus glanced up occasionally, noting the way Oihane pouted out her lip, stretching her nose to focus better. He smiled lightly.

“I thought you had wanted to leave town,” Oihane said softly.

Kaia had begun to wander the tree lines, not paying the dull people much heed.

“We were going to,” he said. “We are still going to. But I don’t want to expose ourselves to the elements without knowledge of what is after us.”

“I don’t believe we’re in danger,” Kaia said. “And I don’t think you would believe either, considering you don’t think him to be a demon.”

The witch said nothing, turning back to her grinding.

The sticks sparked, and Rasmus’s attention was reabsorbed.

The flames crackled then bloomed with a low-pitched whoof, Kaia suddenly rushing to get a pile of dirt in case her brother couldn’t control it. With a delicate flick of the wrist, the witch tossed a wave of green sand into the pot. It released a silent breath of dust.

Rasmus leaned over to peek inside.

Watching her achieve the right amount of sludge to water ratio proved boring, and by the end when she brought out the paper to pour the concoction onto, both of her visitors were leaning up against far trees, eyes focused on invisible objects. Rasmus almost looked asleep.

The witch was staring at him.

“Are you going to pour that?” Kaia asked as the woman hovered over the paper.

Oihane gave her a dirty look. Then, with a sudden heave, she tipped the mortar over across the brown piece of paper.

Spiderlike lines crawled over the edges, popping up in multi-colors: green thin ones for trees, blue flat ones for rivers, large, bulging gray ones for the mountains.

From underneath her shirt, the witch pulled out a crystal necklace and bent down into the dirt. Waving it above the paper, she watched intently, leaning close. Kaia slowly walked over, still standing tall, head diverted away, but interest bright in her eyes.

“This wasn’t how you did it before,” Kaia said.

“Requires materials, but it is sure-fire. If this doesn’t work to find an evil aura, then something is blocking us.”

Lights flickered, blues and oranges, sparkling from the piece of paper. Rasmus came forward, the flames shinning back in his eyes.

The crystal kept rolling about the map, at first in small tiny swoops, then larger and larger. The witch grew more frantic. With two fingers, she pushed on the paper, and the lines unfurled. They remade themselves, but smaller now, from a farther point of view. She rolled the crystal about the air. Still nothing happened.

She pushed the map again. It had no effect.

Finally, she drew herself up and looked to Rasmus with a guilty expression.

“Nothing again.”

He thought about this, staring at a sprig coming from the dirt.

“I suppose…” She gave a glance to the shadows of the trees. “Do you want me to try again? With someone else?”

“No,” he said. “Don’t waste anymore ingredients. It’s fine.”

“There’s several things that may be going on,” she said. “Perhaps we need to try something easier, try it on ourselves…”

Rasmus was stiff, his motions tight and guarded. Stress showed in his jaw. The two women looked at each other, uncertain about the cause of the change.

Oihane stepped forward. “At least let me do something for you.”

“You’ve done enough,” he said softly.

“I don’t like the idea that you can’t feel safe because of my inability.”

“I doubt it’s your mistake.”

“It may be that my ingredients are too old, or that I am messing up on one crucial part. I’m not an expert by any means, and I’d hate to hear back word that something horrible happened to you.”

“It wouldn’t be your fault.”

“Yes, but I can do something that, if it is the scry spell itself at fault…”

“Which there is a good chance it is,” Kaia said.

“Then I can give you a potion that can take away your worries.”

“What? Like drugs?” the girl asked.

The witch glowered at her, “No, you dimwit.” She looked to Rasmus. “I have a recipe that will make it so that if a specific person comes within a good distance of you, you’ll start to feel it before you see them. It will give you a chance to make preparations.”

His head shot up. “Really? How long does it last?”

“A week,” she said.

He bit his lip. “Would it work on a demon?”

“Even better. They have a hard time hiding their auras. Stronger creatures always do. The only problem is,” the woman said. “We would need something of his for it to recognize who we were trying to avoid.”

The siblings looked at each other.

“What the hell does a demon own?” Kaia grimaced.

“Your soul?” the witch shrugged, arching a brow.

“Oh, for the love of God. Please stop fighting,” Rasmus sighed in exasperation. “Oihane, what else—”

“No… wait,” Kaia mused suddenly. She held out her finger.


“That’s not untrue, right? I did him a favor… we’re connected. Wouldn’t that mean—”

Oihane crossed her arms. “That’s sort of reaching.”

“Not necessarily. So we tweak the potion a little, but if you’re as good as you claim.”

The witch scrunched up her face, waving Kaia away. “No, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But Kaia had grown excited, all hostility vanishing. “No. I think’ll work. I’m his, or he’s mine… I’ve read about this. When you do a favor for a demon… That’s what the concern is, right? So we’re connected. Blood should do the trick.”

“Blood is not an item,” Oihane said, voice hard.

Kaia wasn’t listening. She already held out her pale arm, grinning from ear to ear and thrusting it encouragingly at her.

“You want me to cut you?” Oihane laughed mockingly.


The blonde woman thrusted her hand into the witch’s face.

“What? Really?”

“Do it!” Kaia said, all hostility gone.

“You don’t—”

“Do it! Do it! Do it!”

It was like a kid chanting for someone to eat a worm. The witch twisted away, holding up her arms to protect herself, but Kaia was on her hard, chasing her around. Rasmus stood, shaking his head in exasperation until Oihane shouted, “Fine!

Before Kaia could change her mind, the witch seized her wrist and slashed her nails across the skin. Kaia let out a cry, jerking away, eyes accusing as Oihane skipped off.

The witch twiddled her fingers at the woman with a smile, almost dancing when returning to the pot. “Sharpened for protection.”

Kaia scrunched up her nose, the reality of pain sobering her giddiness. Rasmus rubbed an eye apathetically. It wasn’t the first time she hadn’t thought something through.

Oihane stood over the mortar, holding her fingers out straight. It took some time before the drop squeezed out, a thick drop like ink from a quill. Only two splattered into the bottom of the mortar.

“I wouldn’t want you drinking something that would kill you,” the witch said. “Or mess up the works. Even the slightest impurity can cause a spell to go haywire.” She stopped, looking into the cauldron.

“Wait a minute,” Kaia said. “I’m drinking it?”

“Of course,” the witch laughed, flicking her long black hair over her shoulder. “How else could he get it to work?”

Kaia’s face contorted as Oihane scooped up something from the purse in the dirt.

“Rasmus. I changed my mind,” his sister said.

“Nothing in this works is toxic,” the witch sighed, holding up the crisp, brown recipe card. “So even if it did go wrong—which it won’t—you have nothing to fear.”

“There’s blood in it.”

Your blood.”

“I’ve seen people mess up spells before, and even if it was just like… cheese, it could get ugly,” Kaia said. “I once saw a mixture of bark and tapioca burn its way through a table.”

“When did you see that?” Rasmus scoffed.

“Shush,” she said.

The witch slapped her hands to her sides. “I assure you, I am good at what I do.”

“Apparently,” Kaia replied, hands on hips.

“If anything goes wrong it will be in the pot before it’s been applied.”

“Then how do accidents happen, my friend?”

“Because people don’t know what it is supposed to look like, and apply it without noticing the faint differences.”

“And you would recognize those differences.”

“I am experienced enough.”


“Kaia, shut up,” Rasmus said, finally stepping in. “Oihane, I’d be grateful for anything you can do. My sister is just a little timid around magic. Ignore her.”

“I am not.”

“It is my pleasure,” Oihane said smiled, dipping with a little bow.

“It is her spells that I have a problem with.”

They ignored her.

The witch began to grind. Kaia flung herself onto Rasmus’s shoulder, whispering, “How do we know that this isn’t a potion of a deliberately more malicious nature?”

He physically shrugged her off as the witch took to precisely measuring out her ingredients. She ignored Kaia’s pointed, constant stare. Rasmus looked to Kaia’s expression then stepped between them, his back now turned to his sister.

“How is it out here?” he asked.

“Rasmus, don’t distract her.”

“What do you mean?” Oihane asked, not looking up.

“Just… living out here. So close to the Wyrd…”

Her expression dulled, mouth parted, eyes soft. “It’s alright. It’s not terrible. People travel here from time to time. They avoid us, however.”

“I heard that. Do you know the reason?”

“They think things about the villagers here. Like they aren’t people.” She eyed Kaia thoughtfully. “But mostly everyone is afraid of everyone around here, so that is not that unusual.”

“Do you talk to the villagers often?”

“Only for sales. If I need conversation, I go to the animals. They’re better at it anyway.”

He wasn’t sure if she was kidding or not.

“The people don’t seem unusual to you?”

“Of course they do. But I must admit I’m biased because they’ve never been to kind to me.”

She began to retie the finger-length twigs she’d been crushing.

Rasmus licked his lips, then leaned in. “What do you know about the missing children?”

The woman looked at him.

“A child goes missing every year,” he said. “Did you know that?”

“They do. A lot.”

“Once every year. That doesn’t seem suspicious to you?”

“Where are you hearing this from?”

“A good deal of places. It’s beginning to make sense. The people here didn’t care that their child disappeared,” Rasmus said, cold. “At first I thought it was selfishness, then I thought it was inhumane, and then, when I heard this, I believed they were just callous due to being exposed to this time and time again. But now I think that their lack of concern was only because of their own influence on the occurrence.”

The witch stared at him, grim faced.

“They are sacrificing their children to a beast.”

“I…” She thought. “I don’t think that’s the case.”

She tied her purse, then leaned back on her knees, hands tight on her skirt. She considered. “They might be afraid and uninviting to strangers, but that’s for their own protection’s sake. Besides, I think I would have heard if they had a long-term terror about them.”

“Not if they kept it appeased.”

She shrugged. “And why would they invite the Vampire Hunters here then? Without telling them about this thing? Why would anyone with a child stay here?”

“We’ve had experience in these matters. Denial is an unbelievable reaction. We’ve seen people stay in their homes during a flood with the faith that they would come out of it alright. They didn’t. But even the next time around, people would do it again. The belief that you are the only person who will be saved is strong within everyone. We’re special, you know”

“Even you?” she smirked.

“If it wasn’t, then I wouldn’t be in this business.”

She shrugged. “I think you’re going down the wrong road, but you can go and talk to the peasants if you think that would help.”

“I’m going to end this,” Rasmus said. “If you know anything—”

She clapped her hands on her legs and stood. “Now then, you two should watch this, because it can be very pretty. But stay out of my way,” she added giving Kaia a look.

Kaia just smiled at her.

The witch held out her hands and then, with a wink to Rasmus, the woman spoke some strange foreign words.

The potion bubbled. Then it blew up.

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Chaining Nikodemos Part I | Chaining Nikodemos II | Chaining Nikodemos III | Chaining Nikodemos IV | Chaining Nikodemos V | Chaining Nikodemos VI | Chaining Nikodemos VII | Chaining Nikodemos VIII | IX
To Be Continued

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