THE CURSED DEMON HUNTER

Feature Writer: xHighlandx

Feature Title: The Cursed Demon Hunter

Published: 11.04.2022

Story Codes: Demonic

Synopsis: Magically gifted brother and sister against a demon invasion

The Cursed Demon Hunter

Prologue

My sister has always been so much more gifted in magic than me.

Ever since I can remember, she has been the one learning everything so quickly, while I lagged behind in everything. She learned the basics of magic in childhood by herself, while I was, pretty much, still eating mud in a puddle. By the time we were young teens, she was blasting through books about different practices of magic and sorcery.

Meanwhile I was, out of rebellion and frustration, but mostly frustration, out in the woods playing as a soldier or a mercenary. Sometimes when my mental health was more intact, I dared to fantasize about being a battlemage, using my non-existent magic skills in battle against enemies I created in my head. I’ve always seen the shadow people. Ever since I was small I could see them, but nobody believed me when I tried to explain what I saw or sometimes what I felt. The shadow people were most active during the night, of course. It was odd that I could see shadows in the dark, when there was no light, but I could. And of course not always, they weren’t always seen. Only a few times a month.

Here and there.

A looming presence over someone when they were angry, a shadowy face when the girl in the tavern got bullied and was in the back crying her eyes out.

I even saw many of them hovering and swimming around a convicted murderer while he was taken to the public stockade to be executed. In broad daylight when I almost never saw them.

By the time I was in my teen years, I never even mentioned about them to anyone. Not to my father who ignored the topic entirely, not to my mother because dead people could not talk.

The day after my mother died in an accident, and I was sitting in my room alone, moping losing myself to the dark thoughts… That was the only day I could feel a shadow person close to me. It appeared quickly behind me and “swam” through the air, through me. As soon as it did so, I passed out on my bed and remember being in the claws of nightmares.

That was until my sister ran in my room to calm me down.

She was like a bright ray of sunlight in that moment. How losing our mother was not affecting her that much, I could never understand. But there she was, comforting me on my bed and making the world make sense again. My sister Florencia was two years younger than me, but no-one would ever guess that. To me, she was always so mature and adult like to me. I couldn’t help but to look up to her, even though I was two years her senior.

Like I said before, she was brilliant and gifted. Learning the basics of magic before reaching her teen years while I was struggling with even the most basic concepts. But Florencia was always there, trying to help me. Even when I would get mad, angry and frustrated that I couldn’t grasp the simplest ideas or techniques, she’s there with her calm demeanor trying to calm me down. Telling me to try again in a different way.

Perhaps she sub-consciously took over the mother role of the family? I don’t know.

All I know is that we were very close growing up at the village of Darnel.

After reaching our teen years, me and Florencia had both been accepted to the most prestigious school for magic Cappesand academy.

Cappesand Academy of Esoteric Arts. Or more commonly known as the Cappesand academy, was the finest hall of learning to learn magic in the southern hemisphere of the known world. There were competitors, but none measured up in any of the “Great trials” and none of the other Great Schools produced as many magus consulari as Cappesand.

Cappesand academy was in the city of Bessou, south of the capital Elarce. A real metropolitan center of close to a million souls living there or in the vast food-producing areas close to it. With a history reaching back over 1400 years, Bessou was old, majestic and awe-inspiring. A city with magically built spires reaching hundreds of meters high, deep sub-levels delving to unknown depths. And of course, all and everything that fit in between the High and the Deep.

I was seventeen and Florencia was fifteen when the both of us moved away from old pop to the academy. Our departure was met with tears and well wishes for my sister, and cold demanding stare for my case. I didn’t even care at that point and I was happy to go somewhere more lively.

But I could not figure out why I was accepted there. I could barely snuff out a candle from the other side of the room, move a pencil with my mind, nor could I sense or influence the emotions of other people as I wished it. All I could do was parlor tricks, and bad ones at that.

I could not understand why I was joining Florencia in Cappesand. And she didn’t know either. Truth is, the whole thing was a surprise to both of us. When pop told us that Florencia was going, he didn’t give us a lot of time to prepare.

“In the end of summer, should the both of you depart to Bessou!” was what he said after giving us the news.

It was then that I understood that he was speaking about the both of us. I was shocked and we fought so many times before I finally gave in and agreed to go without any more fighting.

But… be that as it may.

Some things are unknown in the world and the reason for my situation was one of them.

Didn’t matter the reason. I went with my sister and she couldn’t be any happier. And to think that I would have let her go alone to Bessou! A fifteen-year-old alone in the great city without his older brother to take care of her. Years later I shuddered over the thought of how I could have been so stupid and short-sighted. Only my injustice was on my mind and all I could still think about back then. Me me me.

The trip there took a little over two days and nights with an arranged wagon transport and suddenly the two of us were sitting in the Grand Hall of the Mysteries at Cappesand academy. With us were dozens of first-year students, all of young ages, but not the same. A few were younger than us, some were close to eighteen. On the first day arriving at Cappesand I must have held my mouth open most of the day, just in absolute awe over the grandiose scale of it all.

Darnel wasn’t big, but it wasn’t small either, and I’ve been to other towns too! But Bessou – the Jewel of the south, as it was sometimes called. Jewel was indeed fitting because on top of the highest spire of Cappesand academy, was placed this radiant crystal. It’s purpose was unknown to me back then. The crystal shining all colors of the rainbow – day and night. Many times in the years to come I sat and stared at the dancing lights in the sky.

Arriving at Bessou, I felt small.

I felt insignificant.

Just a young punk kid in the middle of a metropolitan city, knowing nothing and with a bad attitude problem.

The first year or so really put me in my place. All of us first-year students had to learn a basic education of reading, writing, mathematics, rhetoric and logic. Nothing to do with magic! And all of those to your highest possible level. It was arduous learning, and many times I knew that I couldn’t make it. But I did.

Sometimes the teachers had to force me, using a wide array of different methods from friendly to almost cruel. But I was at fault, I now know. Because as soon as I sat down and tried my hardest, I learned it. I learned it all.

But of course, what really kept me going, and what really helped me go through the basic level of knowledge was Florencia. While she knew magic theory and practice, the basic level of knowledge was difficult for her to learn as well, so the two of us spent hours and hours late at night studying. So much of our free time was spent in books, in practice, debating and solving math problems. I hated it. She hated it.

But we prevailed. She did so with grace, I passed just alright. But the teachers weren’t looking for excellence in me. I could see it. They asked my sister for excellence, though.

Asked, not demanded. They gave her a choice – to either be great, or just pass. She went and tried for greatness. Sometimes she achieved it, other times she didn’t.

What I found amazing was, that all of the students reached different, personal, levels of learnedness. There wasn’t a general test or an average level that everyone had to reach, or pass through. It felt to me that what I had to learn, and what my sister had to learn, were different. Not noticeably, but still different. It was almost as if the teachers knew how much to push each student, and they knew the possible level for every one of us.

The first year was rough and difficult.

But it also had some of my favorite times – times spent with Florencia. It was during that year that I developed a deep brotherly need to protect her. I thought she was so very smart and full of potential, that one of my main goals was to keep her studying and me out of her way.

I really treasured our close relationship as siblings during the first year.

After the first year was done and I had passed the general knowledge level, then the real studies in magic begin. I dreaded the reality of it. I knew I was shit at it and no amount of study would change that. Florencia had tried for years, from childhood, to get me to a decent level and that failed.

By the time she reached eighteen, my brotherly love for my sister started deepening into improper territories. How could I not? Her green eyes were so easy to lose yourself in, long blonde hair that she always had in some kind of fancy or impossibly complicated style. What about her slim figure with just the right amount of curves in her hips and butt. Or her amazing breasts that were just the perfect handful to play with.

Not that I had the chance to play with it, but as the weeks and months went on, I spent many nights dreaming about playing with them. Or finally gathering up the courage to kiss those full lips that she every so often moistened with her tongue while turning her head away so that nobody could see it. While Florencia wasn’t short or even average height, she still was shorter than me by, again, just the right amount. Or perhaps it was only the fact that she cared so deeply about me, my studies or simply how my day went.

Even this simple thing would have made me fall for her, I was certain of it.

But I never took the step to ever make any romantic move on her. Even though it seemed that she was spending way too much time with me, and not with other students. Even I understood that. And those other students were also definitely interested in her perky breasts, lips or tight butt. I could still remember the few boys who made their desire known, their jealous look from afar while me and sis were walking around and taking classes.

But for some reason, she didn’t care.

She ignored them.

She studied…

Went on light-hearted adventures in the city with me or a few of her female friends, but always coming back before it got too dark. Always to me and always retold about what adventure they went on. By that time I had developed a rather irreversible desire for her and no other woman could even get close.

A few women expressed interest in me.

I pursued, sometimes out of desperation, for when Florencia’s teasing became too much. And I knew she wasn’t teasing, but just being her sweet self, absorbed in her studies and fantasies.

Other times I went out and found a night of release just out of sheer libido overdrive.

Like that one time when me and Florencia spent a whole evening talking and she only had on this tight and short sleeping dress. I think I spent that evening more wondering whether she had any panties on because she definitely didn’t have a bra. The day after my loins were pretty much on fire and that forced me to accept an offer from a rather forward young woman a year older than me.

After a long night of “passion”, I had the unfortunate privilege to let her know that that night was a one time thing, and she should look for other, more suitable young men who are emotionally available. Hopefully those with more talent in magic, because that “little thing” hanged over me every day, from morning until I fell asleep. Always in the back of my mind, knowing that I was not supposed to be at that academy. That I was completely a blunt.

Even though me and Florencia could visit taverns, bars and even brothels, I never did and I was pretty sure neither did she. I could even drink and smuggle alcoholic drinks in the academy and have a little private party.

Emphasis on could. Because even I knew that smuggling alcohol into the most prestigious school for fucking wizards was a a monumentally stupid idea. Lucky me, because another other guy, who I was sure was smarter than me, did try to do that.

It went over so much more worse than I thought it would. Just a slap on the wrist, extra studies and detention, was what I thought the punishment would be.

No!

The poor guy was not only expelled, temporarily stripped of his magical abilities via a ritual I only heard horror stories from but also he got conscripted into the military as a penal battalion fighter and died a few weeks later fighting some bandits outside the borders of Lienor.

So that’s how the academy deals with students disobeying the rules. Later I found out that prohibiting alcohol was that strict because having young drunk wizards going around campus might be a little hazardous to the living, and to the city. After that incident we had a very mandatory course on why drinking is dangerous and you just might accidentally blow up your family or friends.

As I said before. The first year was my favorite. I managed the studies and grew so much more smarter than I’d ever been. Of course, that’s undeniable. But the main reason the first year was my favorite was definitely Florencia. Because we spent so much time together and grew even closer than back home, part of it was because we were quite far away from home, and in a new completely different environment.

When the second year started, then the real learning began. The school for wielders of magic.

And I use the term magic very loosely, because its such a wide umbrella term that most artisans of the craft despise it. There’s so many different schools of magic with all their intricacies and minute details, that to just call it magic was almost insulting.

In the academy they used the term “craft”, because it had a nice ring to it and was short enough so people wouldn’t think too highly of themselves.

And maybe to save on ink.

There was the craft of emotions, the craft of the mind, the craft of healing, the craft of prolonging, the craft of disturbance, the craft of pyromancy, the craft of displacement, the craft of making, the craft of…

Yes, there were a lot of them. All had representation in Cappesand academy with extensive faculty and research departments. The most prominent and influential, though, was the craft of diplomacy. Even though most kings and rulers wouldn’t accept a magic user as their aid and councilor, they do sometimes use their help in difficult diplomatic affairs, both internal and international. And this brings a lot of attention, criticism and expectations with it. Would those rulers and other great men and women use the services of magically gifted diplomats if they knew how much they could influence their minds?

So the craft of diplomacy had a huge draw to it, and only the most gifted and level-headed students managed to get in.

Of course Florencia was one of those who got in. And I got all the inside scoop of their dealings. If I were smarter back then, I could have used that knowledge to my advantage and carve out a little existence for myself. But I was not.

My sister was on the fast track to greatness, dragging me along with her.

But I saw it the other way around.

She was on her way to greatness and I was slowing her down with my bluntness. Bluntness was a disrespect to someone meaning one of no magical ability. Saying that to someone in the finest academy for magic, was pretty much the equivalence of taking a shit in your face.

Florencia was studying in the craft of diplomacy and I was barely holding on. My teachers were just… amazing. Looking back of course. To my eighteen-nineteen year old self, they were oppressors. But I wasn’t completely dumb.

I knew that they tried to help me and I learned. I grew.

But I also grew more distant with Florencia. She was made to work and study long hours by herself and other students of diplomacy, far away from me. I knew that she wanted to be close to me, but couldn’t.

The precious little free time she had, she spent with me. Learning about my progress and trying to push me along the way. Even in her exhausted state, she tried to help me. And I of course did my best to reciprocate her kindness with my own interest in her studies, taking her to town, buying her something cute here and there. The little things that I thought would make her happy.

And they did. The little gifts were met with heartfelt gratitude, hugs and cheek kisses that lingered just barely longer to give me hope.

Almost two years went by and she grew into a capable young pupil in the craft of diplomacy. To celebrate her achievements, I wanted to take her out on the town for her nineteenth birthday. I had set up an elaborate setup in our favorite bar by the docks, overlooking the Leden mountains. But her mentors didn’t care or made her stay on purpose. She couldn’t even send a word out to me that she could not make it.

I understood.

She was beyond furious.

I would say that her nineteenth birthday was the turning point of our life. The dynamics had changed.

Florencia grew more sour and cynical.

Slowly, over time.

None noticed.

But I did.

I noticed the way she looked at the teachers. How she rolled her eyes at the self-important lecturers and ego stroking stories they loudly told everyone listening.

She grew more distant and agitated to others, mostly teachers. Not full blown rebel like I was a few years back. But in her own ways. Sarcasm became our secret language. Our voice tone would be normal, but we both knew and understood the subtext. Florencia still studied hard and was one of the top students, but the roots had been poisoned. I saw week after week her bright-eyed attitude towards her chosen craft change, little by little, until something had to give. To keep that from happening I started keeping a secret from her. She was barely holding on to her ideals, as I was. She didn’t need another stressor. I thought that she was the only reason I was in the academy. To keep me close to her so that she would stay. I was very close to the truth.

The secret that I had begun to keep, was that the shadow people had come back. After years of not being a presence in my life, I started seeing them again after a few weeks after her nineteenth birthday. A passing shade here. A looming presence there. At night, at dusk. Never in the day or morning. And always when I was moody and disturbed.

Some time passed in this kind of limbo state – neither of us knowing how all of this will play out.

This is where we start – I’m twenty-two years old, Florencia is nineteen and her birthday is coming up…

THE END