Summer is always hard for me, this one most of all. It’s around this time I remember losing my little brother. Maybe that’s why I started helping at the Orphanage, as some sort of post-traumatic growth. I’m not a shrink, but I did have to do a rotation in it.
While Rena and Karina told me about it, what we eventually found out about the boy Brandon was profound, if only to me. Frankincense. Myrrh. Ritual markings with crosses and crucifixion, it was only the beginning of the trouble.
I was examining Mandy, a 7-year old that Darla had brought in. Darla and her husband Maurice ran the Orphanage. She mentioned offhandedly that Brandon had gone missing the night before, which was out of character for him. When she refused my offer of help, I figured I’d ask John & Fang.
Fang’s grown up a lot in the last few months. He’s less rebellious, though I’m sure John complains that he’s an uppity kid. John’s tastes run in the old fashioned; baseball games on a radio, beer with pedigree reaching back to the roaring twenties and tobacco that comes in pouches with rolling papers. It’s no surprise Fang was looking for someone besides his “babysitter” to learn from. They were interested when I mentioned the missing boy. Fang drove us in his “new” car, a 1967 hardtop Chevy Camaro. This thing had seen better days and while it’s a bit painful, I sit in the back to give John the seat next to his mentor.
The Orphanage was a converted townhouse and a nice one too. With around twenty kids housed there, and Darla and Mo’ to boot, it was a full house. Mo’ was in, but Darla was still out with Mandy. He invited us in to talk; John and I sitting down with him and Fang going upstairs to see what was going on. The conversation was calm enough until John came back from a walk-a-about and shook hands with Mo’, introducing himself as Warden Westone.
So, Mo’ was in the Know, so to speak. Great. Just great. He proceeded to let us know that he and Darla were what John calls “Minor Talents” and that this was a house of half-breeds, of children born from the union of humans and Infernals.
Beings from Below. Devils. Demons. Servants of the Adversary, as I’ve been told.
And worse yet, these kids had a Choice (yup, proper noun) ahead of them. I had no idea what Changelings were, but John gave me the lowdown. Every Fae-hybrid has a Choice to make: be Fae or be Human. They can sit on the fence if they want, but eventually they have to Choose.
And these kids, these Cambions, are faced with the same Choice, but it’s different:
They’re unsure of when the Choice will hit them.
And if they choose the wrong way, you have a Hellbeast on the loose.
While Mo’ was scared of John and they discussed the topic further, after Fang had joined us and we had moved into Mo’s study, I was pondering a thought. What am I? Am I like them? Did I have the same choice forced on me?
Mo’ said he’d come with us to look for Brandon and John suggested we start with some of Brandon’s things. Mo’ fetched a hairbrush and they set to work in the basement while I stood by. When the spell went off, there was nothing. A profound sense of quiet settled over the basement. When I asked where to next, John shook his head at me. I had seen his tracking spell before, but it had never just flat-lined on him. Then it hit me.
Fang hung his head. Mo’ fell to his knees. I clenched my fists. We would find out from Rena and Karina that they had to break the news to Darla at the Precinct. I don’t know how they do it, facing people and telling them that someone they care about is gone, forever, from their lives.
Someone or something out there had taken Brandon away from Mo’ and Darla’s best efforts to save him. I had spent time mentoring some of these kids, helping to improve their lives. I had dispatched predators lurking around their home before. Up until this point, my efforts were just a favor.
Now, it’s personal.