The Calling Page 12

We finally agreed to head closer to the beach, where they could spend the night. We’d return for them in the morning.

Splitting up felt wrong, like we were just being stubborn. Yet as wrong as it felt to separate, it felt even more wrong to stay so close to the crash site. Also, Daniel and I were soaked. We needed to try starting a fire to dry out. We couldn’t do that within sight of the crash.

So Sam, Daniel, and I left Corey, Hayley, and Nicole and continued on with Kenjii. We located a stream and followed it until we found a cave where we could spend the night. Well, not so much a cave as a sheltered spot under an outcropping of rock. But sheltered was the key word. Plenty of dead vegetation had blown in and dried out, and Daniel managed to knock rocks together, get a spark, and light a tiny blaze. Considering I’d escaped a raging forest fire earlier that day, I was good with tiny.

We huddled around that small campfire and tried not to think about how cold it was or how hungry we were. Kenjii was dry now, and she felt like a furry hot water bottle between Daniel and me. I should be able to find nuts in the morning, maybe even some late berries. For now, there was nothing we could do about it. We’d drunk from the stream and it was indeed fresh water and that was all we needed, however much our stomachs disagreed.

I looked at Sam, huddled with us by the blaze, and I figured now was a good time to ask her some tough questions. No way was she going to stomp off into the night, away from the heat.

“You know why those people took us,” I said. “Or you think you do. It has something to do with you. With why you were searching Mina Lee’s cottage, why you took her file on you, and why you flipped out when I grabbed it.”

She said nothing.

Daniel had stretched out on his side, cheek propped on his hand. He lifted his head now. “This isn’t the time to keep secrets. If you think you know why they’re after us, you need to—”


Daniel sat up. “What?”

“Benandanti,” Sam said. “It’s—”

“We know what it is. A cult of Italian witch-hunters killed during the Inquisition.”

She stared at us. “Where did you hear that?”

“Mina sent Daniel to a book at the Nanaimo library,” I said. “She gave him a reference and page number. It led to an article on the benandanti.”

“Oh.” She paused, then nodded, her expression … satisfied. Pleased even. “Well, the book didn’t get it right. They never do. Benandanti weren’t witch-hunters. They were demon-hunters, who evolved into general-purpose evil hunters. Supernatural evil, that is. So sure, witches would be a target, if witches were hurting anyone with their powers. So would sorcerers, werewolves, vampires, half-demons. Especially half-demons, because they havedemon blood and demons were the benandanti’s original target.”

“You’re saying this like … you believe in it,” Daniel said slowly.

Rafe had said skin-walkers had gone extinct, but other races hadn’t. He hadn’t said what those races were, but I figured it was all those paranormal types Sam just mentioned, ones we still saw in movies and books, continuing to play a role in folklore after others faded. Because they had continued to exist while others, like benandanti, had not.

“You know why Mina sent you to that page, right?” Sam said.

“I figured she picked some random entry in a book no one ever checked out.”

“Really?” She met his gaze. “Is that honestly what you think?”

He shifted position, his expression lost in the shadows from the flickering fire. When he didn’t answer, Sam continued.

“The book probably told you the main power of the benandanti was dream-walking. They leave their bodies to hunt evil at night. People believed that because it explained how benandanti seemed to strike without anyone seeing them, without leaving a trace on the bodies, without their victims fighting back. The truth is that benandanti do have powers, but dream-walking isn’t one of them. They can sense trouble. They can repel trouble. And they can charm and persuade people to do things they might not want to. Does any of that sound familiar, Daniel?”

He didn’t answer.

Sam carried on. “Everyone knows you get bad feelings about people, and you’re usually right. I bet you got really strong vibes from Mina Lee. She was a half-demon. You might have gotten weaker ones from the pilot, too. He was a minor half-demon, I think. With the power of fire, judging by those burns on Hayley. Mina’s power was teleportation.”

Daniel had his hand near his mouth, his eyes half closed, expression deliberately hidden. I could see the pulse throbbing in his neck as his heart beat faster. I remembered what he’d said about Mina the first time we met. There’s something wrong with her. I remembered how she’d seemed to vanish, not once but twice. Teleportation. And the pilot. Fire.

“You also have the power of persuasion,” Sam continued. “I’ve seen you flip it on like a light switch. It’s been getting stronger. Maybe you’re telling yourself that you just have a knack for leadership, but deep down, you know it’s more than that. And the power to repel evil? I saw you do it on the helicopter. That’s how it works. Like a sonic boom. You didn’t even need to touch him. It’s not a perfect power, though, which is why benandanti are also naturally skilled fighters.” She met Daniel’s gaze again. “You’re seriously going to tell me none of this sounds familiar?”

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