Humans are a product of humans. However, humans don’t just produce humans. Through word of mouth, a divine is born. The strength of a divine is directly linked to how powerful their story is. Myths and legends produce the brunt of divines. And despite our lineage most divines have garnered an independence. I couldn’t quite share the sentiment with my kin. After all I wasn’t created from humans. I was created from a divine. I’m a very rare case of a being who exists purely on this side. I even managed to make my own divine in Lottie, so perhaps it wasn’t rare as it was hidden. I understood that caution. Many divines hated their lineage, and wanted nothing to do with the humans. If they found pure-bred divines among their ranks, a war would break.
“You recognize him?” We followed the divine to the back of town where the rot became most prominent. All divines carried a physical form that was created by the rumors that bred them. They were often humanoid. Kini was no exception. His arms and legs stretched to the length of poles. His thin white flesh pressed against his bones. His eyes melded into his sockets and his lips were serrated. I nodded to Lottie.
We found our way to a crater where blasted scraps of wood littered the entrance. Inside were rotted wood and a pile of bodies the size of a town. Dried blood and bone colored the bunker. The stench of flesh and blood was implanted into the air. Kini rummaged through the remains, brandishing his fingers as if he was searching for treasure. Like most divines, the name Kini was an abbreviation, a namesake to protect his own pride. A divine holds their name to the highest degree. Brazenly using a divine’s real name is tantamount to declaring war on them. Though neither I nor Lottie minded our real names being used.
“Kini,” I said to Lottie as we watched him in the bunker. His every motion was followed with the crashing of bones.
“Kini?” Lottie flew in a pendulum on the spot, her face in a pout. After a few rounds, her eyes lit and she stopped. She raised a finger.
“He’s the divine that eats humans, right?” Lottie asked.
“That’s right. Except he isn’t one to eat live humans. He stalks humans on the verge of death and devours them.” Lottie’s face lowered as she flew back onto my shoulder. Her hands pressed onto my back.
“On the verge of death?” I nodded.
“If they’re about to die, he’s there to feast on them. That’s what his legends are about. Though I haven’t had the chance to deal with him personally.”
“Do you think he was the one who caused this?” Lottie’s reasoning wasn’t too far off from what a divine’s influence can do. Our mere presence can change fate. We have Lydia to thank for that.
“His tales only allow him to take the lives of those about to die. He doesn’t cause death intentionally. Even if he had influence, I don’t think it would start a war. Of course that’s assuming he cared about his lineage.” Divines are created with a legacy. However, as divines found their sentience, most rejected their origins. They would break their laws and wander freely. I wasn’t one for justice, and I couldn’t blame them for wanting to do the things they found interest in. I was the same.
“Either way he’s late if he’s looking for a meal. Why would he be here?” I wondered that myself. There could have been a plethora of reasons as to why Kini had decided to encroach onto a dead town. Though to him it was probably a strike of happenstance. That happened quite often for divines. They would wander aimlessly and find themselves wrapped in business they had no money in. However divines were in the end attracted to divines. Our energy would seep into the world beyond humans, and we would find each other. I didn’t want to tell Lottie that it was our fault.
“If Connie comes back she’ll have to deal with Kini, won’t she?” Her voice was low, draped in the rot that surrounded us. Every gust became more rancid. Lottie’s grip tightened.
“Assuming Kini sticks around, she would. And if he’d been watching he very much might wait for her, or even follow her. She has the stench of the divine after all.”
“And if not Kini, another divine.” I felt Lottie shrink on my shoulder. Between the two of us, I was more powerful. I didn’t have what most divines called influence. Though from my work with humans, I’d created my own influence. Even if that influence is fake, it still fuels me. And although I wasn’t a divine who could engage in violence, I still had options.
“If you were in my position, what would you do?” I felt Lottie straighten. Her legs began swinging like a chain and with a chuckle she said, “As a human I’d want him to never lay hands on Connie.” She paused. Kini found a particularly large bone among the pile, and placed it towards the sky for inspection. Its white glimmered lightly against the lowlight peering through the clouds.
“But as a divine, that’s something beyond my power.” Lottie’s swing lowered, and she laughed to herself, “After all, I’m just your disciple. If I were to seriously pick a fight with him, I’d lose.” Though, she would tire Kini out if she gathered enough information on him.
“And what do you think I should do?” Lottie’s hair began pricking onto my cheeks.
“I feel like we’ve had this conversation before.” I smiled for her.
“We have.” She smiled back.
“No matter what I say, I don’t think you’ll listen to me, Summer. You’ll do whatever is interesting, right?” She turned her head, allowing her hair to cascade off my face.
“That’s right.” After all, that’s who I am. A fake divine barely doing her duty.
“So you finally came out,” Kini said as we walked towards the opening of the bunker. His voice was deep and rough, and mixed in were the sounds of bones crunching together. I had to strain myself to understand him.
“I wondered when you would stop watching me.” Kini placed the bone down and stood to greet us. His entire body ached as the remainder of his flesh raced away from his body. His shadow cast us in darkness. I heard the wind ride up his back, displacing into the atmosphere. His feet as he shifted on the spot rumbled the earth. It was quiet, even to my standards, but every time he moved his arms, they cracked. His breath formed clouds enough to wrap around our heads.
“Gatherer of shattered dreams and her companion, I see you two have made quite a home of yourself here.” He raised his voice in a mock. I felt Lottie clear her throat.
“And I see you’ve found a meal in a pile of dried bones?” I answered back in jest.
“I do not know if you know this, but you can tell the ripeness of death from one’s bones. There were some excellent corpses in this cesspit. Unfortunately, I am all too late.” Kini laughed. His voice howled in the air, scratching our ears and piercing the remaining fragments of bones beneath him.
“Oh?” Kini suddenly continued, “You two do not seem too fond of me.” Lottie was glaring at Kini. And I couldn’t help but to join her scowl. No matter how interesting, I despised his type. However, I hated most divines. Kini shook his head and begun picking at loose bones in the pile.
“So what will it be gatherer of shattered dreams? I assume I have not trampled on your territory now have I?”
“You haven’t.” He chuckled, the air breaking in his voice.
“That is most laudable of you to admit. In that case, do you have any other virulent claims against me that I may address?” Though he didn’t smile, one was forming on his face.
“If not then I wish you two a good day. Us divines do not have much liberty in spending in idle chatter.” Without missing a beat, Kini leaped forward and branded himself a few feet away from where we stood. I saw the dirt shift and the rocks leap.
“You deal with those still living, while I deal with those on the brink of their life. No matter what you think of me, I find it quite profane that you think I encroach on those of your kind,” Kini said as peered over us like a tower. He couldn’t look at us while he spoke and instead focused his eyes onto the distance. I felt Lottie shiver in his shadow. I brought my free hand to pat her. She smiled lightly as I nodded for her. She took in a breath and then steered her body forward.
“And what do you mean by that?” Lottie chirped as she stood upon my shoulder, pointing her head into the clouds. I saw her hands shake, and her feet hanging on strings. Kini smiled. His grin was filled with teeth, and his muscles contorted outwards. He lowered himself towards Lottie, his breath mixing cascading on our faces. Lottie froze.
“I hope you can recant the idea of me wanting to harm the Ghost Hunter that has connections to this cesspit.” Every word he spoke cracked in his jaw. His eyes as they peered into us was motionless. If I stared long enough, I’d have forgotten I was looking at a monster.
“Though you would have if we didn’t help her out,” I added. Kini retracted himself from Lottie and laughed into the air. Lottie remained frozen, her eyes wide, and her breathing erratic.
“What an astute observation from the gatherer of shattered dreams. Mind my being malevolent, but it is what I am after all. If you have anyone to blame, blame your humans.” He laughed as he walked up the streets. He dragged his feet as he went along, each step rumbling in his wake. When he was gone from sight, Lottie flew in front of me. She was still shaking, her eyes peered into mine. I smiled and wrapped my arms around her. I felt her breath in my chest, and soon enough, her pulse simmered. As I held her in place, I began to forget where we were and what we were doing. A sense of duty washed over me, and even my hobby came to probe. But I was busy being human.