Kell sat on her sofa, clacking away while reality TV droned in the background. Some of Stazia’s articles pointed to one possibility, while others were scattered. Kell pulled up the first article from Japan. After some help from an online translator, she got the gist of what it reported. Two college students had disappeared from their Tokyo apartment without a trace.
“With as many people living in a city of that size,” she nibbled at her waffles, “that would be almost impossible.”
Her eyes scanned the rest of the article. Authorities and city investigators have opened a case into their disappearances. No solid leads to date. No letters, emails, texts, or ransom notes of any kind. No blood. They emphasized that not all of the DNA swabs have been processed yet. New leads may emerge in coming days.
She closed this page and opened a link to another news story from China. A similar set of circumstances. Three teens had gone to their friend’s home to hang out (the translator was disjointed here). The mother of one of the missing teens never saw them leave. She had been home all evening. Again, no blood, no leads, no ransom, nada. Regional law enforcement suspects that the youths snuck out a back window and ran away. Most likely, the trio will return in a day or two, one cop was quoted saying.
“Ran away, huh?” Kellerika sawed off another bite and swished it in some syrup.
She opened the next link, this one from Dubai. A nineteen-year-old girl had been found decapitated in her bedroom in the early morning hours.
Kell washed her bite down with some grape juice. “That’s never good.”
The article spared most of the details, but did report that the murderer had cut the poor girl open from neck to navel. Preliminary sweeps and DNA swabs have come back inconclusive. No prints. No leads. Regional investigators took her computer system for analysis.
“Good a place as any to start.”
She copied the reporter’s email and fired off a message for any news on the analysis of the computer drives. The Order had supplied her with credentials real enough to pass as a federal investigator specializing in cyber crimes.
“Let’s hope that works.” She ate the last of her breakfast and sent out a series of initial messages to other reporters from the articles.
Satisfied with her progress, Kellerika shut her laptop and toted her dishes to the dishwasher. When she settled back into the sofa, the hunter picked up Roger’s wayguide and thumbed through it for any other connections.
‘The Nine, or Nine Kings as we know them, in truth, have no names. They cannot be subdued like their minions can through what I call the Name Fallacy. Their existence predates all religious systems. These nine entities were here long before anything existed. After many miles and much research, it is my personal belief that the Nine were in the universe when only darkness existed. It was through their fighting and wars with one another that creation came into being. Through their sibling rivalries, the Big Bang happened. They continue to attempt to tether themselves to anyone or anything they can bind to on our plane. I’ve seen them attach to people whom they grind down into nothingness. They possess their souls, rape, murder, and steal as much as they can before they are banished. I’ve also witnessed some of the Nine latching on to properties or even small objects. I once had to banish a King from a steel choker necklace by casting it into a vat of molten ore. Even then, it refused to go. I had to perform the banishing rite on a vat of molten steel. Don’t be fooled. These beings know only destruction and death. They strive to collect the souls of the living so that they may prolong their stay on our plane. They will haunt you. Some will hunt you. If you go in weak in resolve, they will kill you in the worst possible way.’
Kell tossed the book on the neighboring cushion. “What the hell did I sign up for?”
She turned to the last entries and read them again. The pain and suffering that Roger must have endured. It burrowed like a worm into her emotional core and festered. Stinging tears formed in her eyes.
“Pull it together.” She fanned the tears from her eyes. “You’ve got a target on your back now.” A cleansing breath. “Show them no weakness.” Kell reached for the last of her grape juice. Her tremoring hand sent it in a puddle across the glass surface of the table. “Shit.”