Dive into chapter one of this standalone reverse harem novel, or buy or borrow the book.
Demon Hunter Academy contains multiple consensual romantic relationships, M/M side action, and poly themes. All characters are 20-23 years old.
Last night, neither my brother nor my parents had bothered to mention they’d encountered demons during their mission. Not only did they get to hunt demons without me, now they weren’t even sharing the big news.
My first class at the Demon Hunter Academy didn’t start until later this afternoon, so I could take as much time as I wanted to confront them. I made three pancakes for myself and started scarfing them down in the silent kitchen of our open floorplan coven-house.
Lured by the smell, my brother Kyrie rounded the corner to join me. He ran a hand through his black hair when he noticed the only pancakes were all on my plate. In contrast to my pale tone, his skin a deeply tanned brown.
“Save any for me?” He rubbed his eyes like a little kid, but he was two years older than me.
Now twenty-three, Kyrie had become a full-fledged demon hunter in his own right. After I graduated in a few months, I would finally get to fight alongside him.
I stuffed a big bite of pancakes in my mouth and spoke around it just to piss him off. “Maybe I would’ve if I got to see the demon you bagged last night.”
His lilac eyes narrowed as he opened the fridge with an arm adorned with not one but five metal-studded bracelets. “You know I woulda if I coulda, Nim.”
The stairs creaked and my father, Bastien, came around the corner.
“Good morning, kids,” he said, heading straight for the coffeemaker. My father and I both had pale skin, but I had flaming red hair versus his blond. “You’re up early, Kyrie.”
“Yeah, Dad,” Kyrie flashed a smile. “Had to get up in time to tell Nim what she missed.”
Though Kyrie and I had different biological parents, we’d been raised like blood siblings. Children were treated as children of the coven, not of any two individuals, and everyone in the coven shared the same surname — ours was Flidais.
“I didn’t even get to see it,” I complained. “What kind of demon was it?”
Bastien fiddled with the coffeepot. “You didn’t miss much. It was just a hellviper. You know we’re required to turn them into the Demon Hunter Agency immediately if they don’t turn to cinders when they die.”
“Gotta prove we’re doing a good service for the regs,” Kyrie added, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Regular humans — regs — had once persecuted our kind, until they found out witches could be of far more use to them in the battle against demons invading our world. People needed protection, and witches were on the front lines whenever they could put us there. Not that I had a problem with demon hunting — our coven excelled at it.
“Did you see into the infernal realm?” I asked Kyrie, not hiding the excitement in my voice. I could never stay mad at him for long.
Small openings from the infernal realm into our world have always existed… that’s how humans first encountered demons, after all. But lately, more and more demons have been pouring out, and my birth-coven has been called upon to fight more days than not.
Kyrie shook his head. “The demon was far from any known portal. My prophesy skills have been a bust so far.”
Bastien crossed his muscular arms and glared over at Kyrie. “You were supposed to rest last night. We need to keep up our strength in case more show up.”
“No buts,” Bastien scolded. Though he wasn’t Kyrie’s biological father, he was still our coven-parent and prone to lecturing when we didn’t listen. “Once the portal is found, we’ll be the ones sent to investigate. Plenty of other covens full of witches with clairvoyance, prophesy, and divination magic can point us in the right direction. They let us do our job; we need to let them do theirs.”
“But if Kyrie can help—”
Now Bastien’s glare turned on me. “The moment we hear of its location, we’ll be sent to secure it so the regs can build their walls. Kyrie needs to be in fighting shape when that happens. We can’t have him going into battle already drained.”
Olwyn appeared in the doorway and ran her fingers through her raven-black hair with a yawn, much like her son. From her lilac eyes, tan skin, and similar features, anyone could’ve guessed she was Kyrie’s biological mother.
Wyn tilted a knowing smile at Bastien. “Isn’t it early for a scolding?”
“We all need to be well rested—”
Bastien’s words cut off as she slid her hands around his hips. “That’s not what you said last night when you kept me up so late.”
“Mom!” Kyrie made a gagging face as Bastien and Wyn kissed right in front of us.
I laughed. “Well, that’s my cue.” I put my empty plate in the sink and grabbed my backpack from the corner just as our third coven-parent, Rob, came downstairs.
Rob had raven-black hair, and a thick beard covered his brown face. He gave me a thumbs up as I put on my backpack, his magenta eyes shining with as much pride for me as Bastien’s had. All witches born the past few centuries had some shade of purple irises.
Rob was Kyrie’s biological father, but he was an equal coven-parent to us both. When he went for the coffeepot, he gave kisses to both Olwyn and Bastien.
Kyrie followed me away from the kitchen table. “Don’t leave me alone with our parents, Nim.”
“Sorry, time for class!” I replied with a grin.
“Guess I’ll head back upstairs…”
I knew my brother wouldn’t stop trying to use his powers of prophesy to find that portal. The sparkle in his eye told me my guess was correct.
Bastien came over to see me off. “It won’t be long now until the entire Flidais coven is full of demon hunters. Study hard.”
His proud words energized me to wring as much as possible out of my education while I could. Once I graduated, I’d finally get to fight demons alongside Kyrie and my coven-parents.
“I will, Dad,” I promised, giving him a peck on the cheek before I aimed a punch at Kyrie’s shoulder.
He blocked it and grinned. “Hope they teach you better techniques than that in combat class.”
He tried to ruffle my hair, but the Viking-style braids on either side of my head held tight as I pushed him away. “Shut up.”
“Don’t make your sister late for class.” Bastien chuckled as he went back into the kitchen.
Kyrie disappeared back upstairs, and I waved goodbye to all three of our coven-parents as they leaned back against the counter, hip-to-hip, coffee cups in hand.
Outside our suburban home, I tossed my backpack in the backseat of my Kia Soul parked out front — I’d chosen the Inferno Red color scheme, of course.
Navigating my way through midday traffic in Charlotte wasn’t bad — another reason I preferred to avoid early morning classes. Why sit through rush hour with regs on their way to their corporate jobs as they ignored the threat hanging over their heads?
The Demon Hunter Academy had been founded in the early 1900s. Although witch hunts from prior centuries had culled our numbers significantly, we rebounded more in recent years, creating a stratified society where magic was valued but witches were not.
So the academy wasn’t allowed to be built anywhere near Charlotte. In fact, the ‘Charlotte’ Demon Hunter Academy was actually just south of Harrisburg, off Charlotte’s northeast side where regular citizens could forget we existed.
All sides of the grounds were warded to keep curious teenage regs out. The only entrance regs could hope to find was on the south side, where guards scared off anyone else who shouldn’t be there.
Students weren’t allowed to drive on campus since there wouldn’t be enough parking for all of us, because when the place had been built, cars didn’t exist. After parking in the overflow lot outside academy grounds, I waved as I passed the security guards in the guardhouse near the massive front gate. Recognizing me as a witch and a student, the wards let me pass.
Inside the thick walls, separate stone buildings were scattered across the grounds, with an open training field to the west for students to practice elemental attacks and defense against demons.
The layout of this place had been carefully crafted to show high-ranking reg officials how non-threatening we were to them — and how useful we could be. To my immediate left was the tiny wooden structure we affectionately called the ‘band-aid station,’ where a few students practiced the healing arts. To the right was an ordinary library, something the regs would expect to see on any campus.
Beyond the library rose the School of Wards and Defensive Magic, a formidable stone building outfitted with awe-inspiring stained glass windows designed to represent the translucent colors of wards. Seeing these buildings reassured the regs that we served as the best defense against demons… before they noticed some of the other things we learned.
The only vehicles that ever showed up were when the regs decided to assert their petty dominance and make sure we were firmly under their thumbs. Hence why I had to park off campus.
Across the road from the Wards building squatted the School of Teleportation, a long and wide one-story building where we teleporters could practice our skills. To teleport across terrains of different heights, we practiced that outside on the training fields.
Why was this a reassuring building for regs to see? They liked to utilize witches blessed with arcane teleportation who could instantly teleport themselves and others across distances via ritual circles infused with their magic. I was glad to have been born with innate teleportation, which meant I could only self-teleport short distances.
Though I attended many classes in that building over my years here, arcane teleporters took even more. Arcane teleporters were also typically pressured into careers serving reg politicians and other powerful figures. I’d rather hunt demons than work as a glorified elevator operator.
Beyond the School of Teleportation, the School of Crafting Arts building towered over the road. Its spires twisted upward into the sky, resembling magic made manifest into physical objects of power. I was neither an alchemist nor an artificer, so I only went into the building when I needed the objects of power they created for use in combat class.
I headed into the School of Wards and down the hall to my classroom for senior-level warding. Today wasn’t a hands-on class, more about theory than anything else, and I found my attention wandering the moment the professor started talking.
“Today we’ll focus on the limitations of wards,” Professor Ravenstone began, already slipping into her droning public speaking voice. “Those of you who are arcane warders must invoke your magic circle with well-placed sigils first.”
In many cases, we also had to stand directly atop our magic circles to be protected. With practice, I’d learned to use my magic circle to cast short-lived wards around other witches, but they could only stop one or two attacks before shattering.
We’d also practiced using our wards to help battle healers, closing off wounds until our covens’ assigned healers could see to our fellow demon hunters’ injuries. I hoped to never have to use my wards that way.
As Professor Ravenstone started discussing the best sigils to use to boost different types of wards, I zoned out. We would practice them tomorrow, and I always learned better by doing.
Before I knew it, class ended, and I shuffled outside with a bunch of my classmates before we split up to head for different buildings on campus. Everyone’s classes were customized to their own magical abilities, but all senior-level students at the Demon Hunter Academy were enrolled in combat class. So, I had plenty of company as I made my way to the training fields with over half the students in my warding class. It also gave me the opportunity to pick up most of the key information from the lecture without having to suffer through it firsthand.
Some professors liked to make themselves feel important by waiting ten or fifteen minutes to show up. But Professor Sing was all business and arrived as we assembled on the training field. He knew that what we learned here would help us save lives and survive to fight another day.
The short demon hunter showed up dressed in loose pants and a long sleeve shirt that covered some of the burn marks on his arms. The scar across his face showed how close he’d once come to losing an eye. With proper healing, most wounds didn’t scar. The fact that his had showed he hadn’t been quick to leave the battlefield and seek a healer. It gave him a credibility no other professor at the academy could match.
“Today we’ll warm up with basic drills with conjured weapons. Bladed weapons only for now. We’ll deal with projectiles later. Pair up!”
My eyes scanned the crowd and landed on the one guy I hadn’t worked up the courage to partner with yet. Lantos Wardwell came from a renowned coven, named after the legendary Salem Witch Trial Wardwells. This was the first semester we were in the same combat class. His muscular frame made him a formidable opponent in hand-to-hand or weapons-based combat, and with telekinesis as his innate magic, he could turn anything he wanted into a weapon.
Of course, that wasn’t the only reason I found him a bit intimidating. I was almost hypnotized as he rolled up his sleeves, revealing powerful forearms with an olive undertone and strong hands. He was clean-shaven with wavy medium brown hair that somehow always looked good even after the most physically demanding classes. As though sensing my gaze, his indigo eyes fastened on mine across the battlefield, and I quickly looked away, my cheeks heating as he caught me eyeing his physique.
“Hey, Nimue. Wanna pair up?” Linda’s musical voice snapped me out of my stupor and I quickly nodded.
Linda was one of my three best friends, and the one I’d known the longest. Her ponytail kept her long hair out of her face just as my braids did the same for me.
Raising her hands, she easily conjured a bright blue magical sword, its blade gleaming in the sunlight. With manifestation magic, witches could summon a variety of magical weapons from the ether. I conjured a sword that glinted like metallic silver, at first glance appearing as solid metal until closer inspection revealed its true nature.
Professor Sing called out orders, and Linda and I traded attacks and blocks.
After the next set of traded blows, Sing called for us to cast magic at our opponents if we could. “Go ahead and start sparring.”
Not everyone possessed elemental magic to cast wind, water, earth, and fire, but Linda did. She blasted me with wind, then pressed her attack. I teleported out of the gust and turned the tables.
With my sword tip at her throat, Linda laughed and conceded this sparring match to me.
“Very good, Flidais.” Sing tended to call us by our coven names, and I appreciated that he always pronounced mine properly — FLIH-dish. His praise made me preen, until he added, “But remember to choose where you teleport carefully. Demons are more unpredictable than we are.”
He was right, and I swallowed my pride. Fighting against another witch wasn’t anything like fighting demons. But that was why witches formed covens with other demon hunters. All our strengths worked best as a team.
Sing continued onward, offering tips and praise as he carefully threaded his way between sparring partners.
Linda winked before coming at me again. We traded blows with our swords, and I remembered that I had news to share.
“My coven bagged a demon yesterday,” I said proudly. “Far from any known opening into the infernal realm, too.”
“They think it’s from a new portal?” She lunged and used her wind magic to strike, but I parried and dodged to the side.
“Yep, and as soon as they find it, I’m going to go see it for myself.”
Linda straightened, glancing around until she saw how far away Sing was. “You’ll get yourself expelled,” she warned.
With any luck, we would graduate this Beltane, joining for the annual celebration of magic on the first of May. Then we’d be able to hunt demons, too.
I swung, and she blocked my half-hearted attack. We couldn’t just stand around while we talked, or it would draw the professor’s attention.
“C’mon, it’s the chance to see a brand new portal, Linda. I’m not passing it up. It could be decades before another one appears.”
“You’ve seen the infernal realm before.”
We all had. As part of our studies, we’d taken a field trip of sorts to see a tiny tear in the fabric between worlds. It was one of the oldest remaining openings into the infernal realm and relatively close to Charlotte.
“Not a new one.”
The professors hadn’t let us anywhere near the threshold, and there hadn’t been a demon in sight. No doubt they’d learned it was pointless to try coming through that portal, as demon hunters guarded the wall day and night.
It had been anticlimactic, to say the least. But a new portal? One that had already spat out at least one demon?
“Beltane is right around the corner. Why risk it?”
“I’d only get expelled if I got caught.” I shrugged. “And no Flidais would turn me in.”
Linda renewed her attacks, and I blocked, dodged, and teleported around them all until I began to feel drained.
“I guess if the new portal tore open somewhere out in the country, it could be weeks before someone finds it.” She gave me a wry smile. “Which means I have weeks to convince you not to do anything that dumb.”
It was my turn to press the attack. “You’re welcome to try.”
Linda twisted and parried my swing. “Just wait a few more months and then you can be out there with your birth-coven. Or maybe join a new coven, if you’d like?”
She raised an eyebrow and gave me a seductive smile. She’d had a crush on me for years, and I knew she wished I would join her coven in the making.
Not far from us, Demetri and Circe had paired off and sparred back and forth. Their romantic relationship with each other and with Linda felt so natural, I sometimes felt jealous of their coven-in-waiting, ready to be formed the moment they were allowed to — after graduation.
Witches formed covens for both professional and romantic reasons. Almost all covens became romantically entangled over time, just as my three coven-parents were involved with one another.
All the more reason for the Flidais coven to encourage Kyrie and me to find two new covens of our own. We couldn’t stay in our birth-coven forever. But until we found other witches we were well matched with, we’d both fight alongside our birth-coven.
When Linda had first introduced me to Circe and Demetri, we’d become instant friends. Demetri’s wavy brown hair came down to his collar, and, like all demon hunters, he kept a muscular physique. He wasn’t unattractive to me, but there had never been the spark of anything more between me and their soon-to-be coven.
As I lunged toward Linda again, the ground trembled under my feet. I ignored it, assuming it was just one of the earth elementalists using their gifts. But out of the corner of my eye, I caught Demetri and Circe pausing, their weapons at their sides.
“Focus on the fight at hand,” Sing lectured us. “Don’t allow for distractions!”
But the earth shook again, and now no one was fighting. Everyone started talking amongst themselves, and Sing’s voice rose over the commotion.
“It may be a normal earthquake, miles from here. Back to work, everyone!”
Demetri and I shared a look, and he shook his head. He didn’t think that was a normal earthquake. The other students didn’t look convinced either.
An unseasonably warm breeze floated across the training fields, and now Linda and Circe frowned at one another. It was February… And the breeze carried the slightest whiff of smoke.
“That wasn’t a normal earthquake,” I muttered just as Sing passed by.
“There are plenty of covens to handle it if a new portal opened somewhere nearby.” Sing raised an eyebrow as if daring me to disagree. “For now, your sole concern should be your studies. You must be fully prepared when the time comes for you to fight.”
“Yes, Professor Sing,” I answered dutifully.
I raised my blade before me in a salute to Linda, and then our swords clashed once more.
Don’t miss what happens next
What happens when Nimue peers into the infernal realm firsthand?
Find out in the next chapter!
Note: Death of family members, traumatic injury, and sudden disability occur in Ch 2.
Demon Hunter Academy is a steamy standalone paranormal academy romance set in the Infernal Rending universe. More books to come in this world, but this is the first!