The Dark-Hunter Companion

Sherrilyn Kenyon with Alethea Kontis

St. Martin's Press

Chapter One

 

So Now You're a Dark-Hunter . . .

 

What to Do, What Not to Do, and How to Royally Screw It All Up

 

We're not the damned, folks, we're the categorically fucked.

 

—Urian

 

Take a deep breath.

 

Turn out the lights.

 

The reason you're having a hard time reading this is because the eyesight of a Dark-Hunter is the first, and possibly the most difficult, thing to adjust to. Birth is hard, especially the second time around. We'll go in baby steps, all right? Take your time. Are the lights out? Pull the shades, twist the blinds, and put blankets over the curtains.

 

Sounds insane, I know, but you're going to have to trust somebody sometime. That guy you met on the way in? That's Acheron. When the world inevitably goes to hell, he's one of the only people you will always be able to trust.

 

I'm one of the other ones.

 

Now, light a candle. But don't look straight at it since it'll only hurt more.

 

Here, I'll do the same thing so you don't feel like you're the only weirdo in the universe.

 

Go on, trust me. You may as well. I'll keep reminding you, so you won't forget. What else have you got to lose?

 

See, I know you that well and we've barely even met.

 

So.

 

You with me?

 

First lesson: Candlelight and firelight are second only to moonlight when it comes to enhancing a Dark-Hunter's vision. It makes sense if you think about it—these natural sources of illumination are instruments of the gods. Our Dear Lady Artemis is the goddess of the Moon. You are a product of Artemis's handiwork, therefore you are able to see better by the light of her totem.

 

Honestly, come on. Have you ever heard of the god of Neon or the goddess of Fluorescence?

 

I rest my case.

 

But what if it's nighttime? you ask. If I can see better by moonlight, why did I just block up all the windows?

 

Three reasons.

 

Three is a significant number among the gods, didn't you know? Well, you do now.

 

One: You have to think outside the box for a minute. You can do it. . . . I'll give you a couple of seconds just in case you need them.

 

Humans are creatures of habit and, despite their amazing innate evolutionary ability to adapt to their environment, they are exceptionally averse to change. People notice change, but they aren't bothered by sameness. Constancy flies under the radar. If you shut up your windows every day and open them wide every night, someone will notice and wonder why. If you just leave them closed—or go so far as to block or board them up—it will be speculated upon and then shrugged off once the guy down the street brings a strange woman home, or the woman next door forgets to wheel her garbage to the curb.

 

Two: In a perfect world, Dark-Hunters sleep all day and hunt Daimons all night. Of course, if this world were perfect there wouldn't be any Daimons or Dark-Hunters. Curses wouldn't exist, the gods would never get angry, we would all love one another, and everything would be rainbows and puppies.

 

If you're anything like any of your predecessors, you're going to work your ass off all hours of the day and night. You will never be able to predict when you're coming or going—where your next nap or your next meal will be coming from. (Unless you have latent psychic abilities, but for the purposes of this discussion let's assume you don't.) I hear from the ancient Greeks that it's a bit like the army.

 

Even on cloudy days, daylight is still daylight. There will come a night when you inevitably sleep well past sunrise. That moment, you'll be thanking me for not having to wake up on fire.

 

Which brings us to three: about that fire.

 

I'm assuming you've got that candle lit by now. In many ways, that tiny dynamic flicker of energy is the perfect representation of your existence. It can be small, simple, and easy to manipulate. It can be wild, passionate, and unstoppable. It can feed; it can consume. It can save lives just as effortlessly as it can kill.

 

Above all, its very existence is among the first substantial evidence of the true wrath of the gods.

 

You know Prometheus, right? (No, I don't mean personally, you nitwit. Though if you do, tell him I said "Hi" next time you see him. And remind him that he owes me five bucks.)

 

Consider the candle.

 

Exhibit A.

 

Prometheus was a Titan, one of the giants who inhabited the earth before humans. In fact, Prometheus is sometimes credited with making the human race from the earth, in the image of the gods. Perhaps he felt like a father to humans, complete with a sense of protection and obligation. He taught humans the basics of civilization by bringing them fire down from the hearth of Mount Olympus, magic firsthand like none of them had ever witnessed before.

 

He introduced the world as we know it to . . . well . . . the world as it used to be. In his humility, Prometheus took something that only the gods had complete power over, and he did it for the good and the survival and the progression of mankind. Humans stayed warm. They cooked their food. They thrived. They lived. They evolved.

 

The gods, however, did not see it that way. They didn't exactly warm to the thought of a more level playing field. They never do. The gods are gods because they are worshipped. A god who is not worshipped loses power. Humans with power begin to question their gods. What Prometheus did for the world not only shook Mount Olympus to its core, it fractured its foundation.

 

It also doomed Prometheus—who held the secret to how the gods could remain the ultimate power in the universe . . . but would not tell them.

 

Zeus, in his rage, chained Prometheus to a rock and left him to the carrion birds. Every day, his liver is eaten out by a vulture; and every night, it grows back again. Over and over and over, until the end of time. Pretty much forever-and-ever. Amen.

 

Now.

 

Consider the candle.

 

It is a testament to what you are—a player in the game set into motion by the wrath of the gods. An immortal being charged with a secret, and the protection of the human race. You are a champion who bears a burden of tremendous responsibility . . . and tremendous suffering. But don't lose faith. Just remember: You wouldn't have been chosen if you weren't strong enough to handle what you're about to face.

 

After all, what doesn't kill you . . . just really pisses you off.

 

How It All Went Down

 

When you've spent a lifetime being betrayed by everyone around you, it's really hard to let that go.

 

—Acheron

 

I'm guessing you forgot both the white stones and the breadcrumbs, so you're probably a bit hazy on the details of what brought you to the gingerdamned house. Let me recap.

 

You were wronged. Big-time. Happens to everybody . . . but what happened to you was beyond forgiveness. Beyond redemption. Someone deserved to pay, King Solomon style, and karma would have had no problem with it.

 

The part you didn't know about—behind the scenes, under the skin, in the ether—was that when a soul is wronged so unjustly, it cries out. And it's not just a baby's cry, or that noise you make when you hit your thumb with a hammer. It's the sound of ultimate betrayal: the sound a heart makes when it's breaking, the sound of the sky falling. It is the voice of the Phoenix when she rises up from the ashes.

 

That sound echoes in the ears of the gods, and most of them wave it away like an errant fly.

 

Except for Artemis.

 

To Artemis that's the sound of another job applicant filling out the paperwork and requesting an interview.

 

She came to you in that moment. You'll remember her: tall, red hair, body to die for, and the aura of a snake? (If you are a snake enthusiast, I apologize.) She offered you your last request: She offered you an Act of Vengeance. In return you swore your allegiance to her and her cause, to become a soldier in her ninethousand-year-old army against the Daimon parasites who prey upon the earth.

 

To seal the deal, you gave her your soul. (That's usually how bargains with immortals go down, so don't go feeling particularly unique.) She laid her hand upon you and extracted it—you have her double bow-and-arrow symbol marking the spot, but you won't remember the pain. It's a bit like childbirth that way. Some memories you just don't need to keep.

 

After Artemis took your soul, she brought you back to life. Immortal life. Yup, you could quietly live forever now, with no fear of disease or death. (Only your life from this point will now be loud and messy, so you may want to be careful. See "How to Die.") You were born again as a Dark-Hunter, and you had twentyfour hours in which to exact your revenge.

 

If you ultimately decided not to take advantage of that window of time, I am obligated to tell you that you can't go back. The road only goes forward, and there are no second chances. For better or worse, Artemis has your soul until Shadedom or Rebirth.

 

The part that no one is forcing me to tell you is that I admire you. It takes a person of extreme moral character to walk away when faced with the opportunity to lower themselves to the depths of their greatest enemy. That act takes a person with a seemingly endless capacity for love, and there are few enough of us in the world. I value that. And I commend you; no fine print, no strings attached.

 

What You Got Out of the Deal

 

I can hear your heart beating faster, your blood flowing through your veins as you sit there wondering whether or not I would really hurt you.

 

—Kyrian Hunter

 

You may think you're a vampire. You are not. You cannot fly and you cannot turn into a bat (one particular Dark-Hunter sorcerer notwithstanding). Unless you were formerly a Were-Hunter, you cannot shapeshift. Do not try either of these things at home or anywhere else. You'll just look stupid. And trust me, with cameras being what and where they are in this century we will all laugh at you for decades to come.

 

There are thousands of Dark-Hunters. No two Dark-Hunters are alike, and no two Dark-Hunters have the exact same combination of superpowers. Like snowflakes. A few things are pretty constant, though—such as the traits Dark-Hunters were given to mirror the Daimons, so that they may better track their enemy.

 

Almost all Dark-Hunters' eyes are jet-black and, like an eagle's, densely packed with light-sensitive sensory cells. You will rarely see a fellow Dark-Hunter without a decent pair of sunglasses. It's one of the first things I recommend you pick up for yourself. If you have a Squire (you lucky dog), this may have already been taken care of for you.

 

Speaking of dogs: You now have pointed canine teeth, ones that you will eventually learn to stop cutting your lips on. In time you will also train yourself to know instinctively the exact degree of a smile that will conceal this feature . . . and the degree in which to show it to its best advantage. You will become a master of the difference between a laugh and a threat, but you have to give yourself time.

 

And if you're lisping, don't worry. That doesn't last long. Just don't try to intimidate anyone verbally while it remains, otherwise you might damage your ego. And our reputations.

 

Just because you have these teeth does not mean you have to drink blood. (Dark-Hunters who do so are called Feeders, and to say that Acheron frowns upon the subject would be a gross understatement.) You started out as a human, so you do not need blood or human souls to survive. The basic physical human needs still apply, however. Dark-Hunters, when they're not busy working, normally eat three meals a night. And yes, they still have to go to the bathroom.

 

You will be unable to cast a reflection; this is a power Artemis bestowed on her Hunters as the perfect camouflage. Some Dark-Hunters report that they can cast one if concentrating . . . but again, that takes time. For now, don't worry about what your hair looks like. The Daimons you dust can report you to the fashion police in hell.

 

As you have probably discovered already, your vision is not your only heightened sense perception. (And yes, that smell is you . . . you should probably go take a shower.) You can smell and hear and think and see and feel more than any human, more than any animal . . . possibly more than anyone save a Were-Hunter, or a god. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but the more of the world that's currently jamming itself into your brain right now will quiet down as you learn control. Trust your biological clock: You will know now when the sun is setting and, similarly, when it's about to rise again.

 

Each Dark-Hunter possesses a certain degree of mind control—use it wisely. Each also has the ability to heal quickly, often within twenty-four hours. Quicker, if a Dream-Hunter is involved. Which is a good thing, because while you—as an immortal—are immune to addictive substances, you are also immune to anesthetic. When you are injured, you will feel a natural urge to sleep. Go with it. Just make sure you're in a safe place where the rising sun won't turn you into a fried crispy Hunter. Remember, you will sleep for quite a few hours so take precaution before you succumb to it.

 

Now that you have none of your own, you are particularly sensitive to the presence of a soul, which is how you will be able to instantly discern the difference between an Apollite and a Daimon, and how you can feel a baby's soul inside its mother's womb.

 

Other powers you might develop include psychic abilities like telekinesis, mind reading, and precognition. (Once you have the ability to see the future, you will never lose it. So if you've had it before, no worries—if you just now got it, good luck.) You could also have healing powers, or control over certain elements. There's no way to tell until you use them, so keep an eye out. Pay attention. And be careful.

 

Powers That Be

 

With my background and genetic makeup, buddy, you're lucky I'm as normal as I am.

 

—Katra Agrotera

 

You can't be sure which of these you will develop with your new birthright, if any. But definitely be on the lookout for signs. Better safe than sorry.

 

Keep in mind, too, that gods have one, many, or all of these powers. When you're thinking about giving one a piece of your mind, consider what the consequences might be.

 

Aerokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate wind and air flow.

 

Animation The ability to bring inanimate objects to life or to free a person from petrification.

 

Astral Projection The ability to separate and control one's astral body. The out-of-body experience can be achieved by dreaming or deep meditation. Astral projection is sometimes considered a form of telepathy or clairvoyance. Remote viewing is a specifically directed form of astral projection. Depending on the strength of the projector's ability, the astral body may even be able to interact (speak or move objects) with its surroundings.

 

Atmokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate changes in the weather, up to and including the bringing or banishing of pressure systems, clouds, rain, storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

 

Aura Perception An aura is the spiritual energy field that emanates from a person or object. Most often, auras convey the feelings and emotions of the person or object involved in a range of colors. An aural perceiver has the equivalent of a permanent mood ring decoder for everyone and everything in his path.

 

Biokinesis The ability to heal, or perform other biological manipulation. A biokinetic can knit tissue together just as easily as he or she can stop a breath, or a heart.

 

Chlorokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate plants. A chlorokinetic also sometimes has a bit of clairvoyant ability, but only in regards to plants. The plant can "speak" to a chlorokinetic, conveying sounds, images, and sometimes even the entire passing of a sequence of events.

 

Chronokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate time. Weres can surf the Rytis to travel through time, but the rest of us seem to be slaves to this relative.

 

Clairaudience The ability to aurally perceive words or sounds originating on the spiritual plane. Clairaudients are also able to hear sounds at low and high frequencies not audible to the human ear.

 

Clairsentience The ability to perceive the atmosphere or origin of a person, place, or thing by way of feeling; often associated with psychometry. Clairsentients are also called empaths. Always trust the "gut feeling" of a clairsentient.

 

Clairvoyance The ability to visually perceive events that are taking place elsewhere or sense places that are not in view. Some clairvoyants can also see certain types of spirit or foreign energy. The term clairvoyant often includes both clairaudients and clairsentients. Clairvoyants are usually also able to see auras.

 

Cryokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate ice, or cold in general. The antithesis to pyrokinesis. Cryokinetics are especially helpful around avalanches and icebergs. They are also immune to frostbite.

 

Divination The art of predicting the future. (See Precognition.)

 

Electrokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate electricity and electric fields. Trained electrokinetics are able to produce force fields as shields for protection. As a rule, Were-Hunters seriously hate these people as they tend to make them change forms. So if you have this, give our furry friends a break and stay away from them.

 

Energy Blasts (Godbolts) If someone blasts you with energy, that someone is a god, or has somehow acquired god-powers. A Dark-Hunter has never been known to develop this power naturally.

 

Ferrokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate metal. This power was especially valued during the Middle Ages, with all those innocent, tasty knights in armor running around.

 

Geokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate the earth. Especially powerful geokinetics can cause or stop earthquakes and active volcanoes.

 

Gravitakinesis The ability to mentally manipulate gravity. Usually considered generic telekinesis, unless the gravitakinetic has the ability to manipulate his own gravity. Which would just be way cool.

 

Hydrokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate water. Hydrokinesis is useful for purifying water when trapped on a deserted island, and summoning or finding it when lost in the desert. Especially powerful hydrokinetics can calm tsunamis, hurricanes, or storms, but generally it is not in the hydrokinetics' power to actually cause these things to happen. A hydrokinetic can, however, control waterspouts and the direction a river can travel. And considering that the human body is about 75 percent water . . . it's not as wimpy a power as you might think.

 

Magnetokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate the magnetic field; usually associated with ferrokinesis. And the X-Men. But please note, we have much cooler wardrobes.

 

Mediumship/Necromancy The ability to see and communicate with the dead. Some mediums need an object through which the spirit can communicate, like a Ouija board. Some mediums are possessed by the spirit, and it communicates through them by speaking or automatic writing. Some simply see them, and talk to them or feel their emotions and intentions. Since you're a Dark-Hunter, you never want a spirit inside you. You have no soul and it will take possession of you, which is not a good thing. Remember what happened to Alexion. You guys don't have the same regenerative abilities he did. You will be terminated.

 

Omnilingual The ability to quickly memorize and/or decipher any foreign language.

 

Omnipotence The ability to do anything you want to. Again, reserved for the gods, so try not to make any of them angry. And stay out of Ash's way.

 

Omniscience The true know-it-all, an omniscient literally does see and know everything. Again, this power is pretty much limited to the more powerful gods, like Zeus. Or Acheron, who will never share his knowledge with you, so don't ask.

 

Photokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate light. Unfortunately, photokinetically created light doesn't have the exact properties of natural sunlight and cannot kill Daimons, but it's awfully handy in a dark cave, or if your opponent has a migraine.

 

Power Absorption The ability to absorb another person's powers, leaving that person powerless. Usually that other person is not another Dark-Hunter, seeing as the proximity alert will weaken both this and the other Dark-Hunter's powers. Daimons technically have this ability; when they drain the souls of a powerful person, they inherit those powers for a period of time until the soul wanes. Gods have this power, as they are able to absorb the powers of their defeated foes (if the foe is another god) indefinitely.

 

Power Bestowal (Conduit) The ability to bestow powers upon another person or evoke the latent powers of others. Again, this doesn't usually happen Dark-Hunter to Dark-Hunter. But if you somehow discover you've been "blessed" with this particular gift, be careful whom you approach, especially humans with gypsy or god blood. You never know what latent power might be sleeping inside them. Daimons shouldn't be a problem for someone with this power, as they can only possess the powers of the last soul they stole.

 

Depending on the type of power and the strength, the bestower can give a person temporary powers (usually based on the bestower's proximity), or permanent ones.

 

Power Mimicry Like power absorption, mimicry is the ability to absorb another's powers. In this case, however, the mimic is able to leave the other person's powers intact. Which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who the other person is, and whether or not they're on your side.

 

Power Negation The ability to cancel out or diminish the powers of others. This ability is kind of inherent in all Dark-Hunters, thanks to Artemis, since close proximity to any of your brethren results in a mutual power drain.

 

Power Sensing The ability to sense or recognize the powers of another person. Depending on the strength and ability of the senser, it could be a generic idea of the presence of powers, or the knowledge of the other person's exact abilities. Apollites have the ability to sense other Apollites as well as Daimons, based on their blood connection to the god Apollo. Similarly, Dark-Hunters can normally sense the presence of another Dark-Hunter (if the draining of their powers isn't a dead giveaway) and you will be able to sense a Daimon from a mile away (a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea).

 

Precognition The ability to perceive events before they happen. Sometimes it is only expressed in vague dreams while asleep, other times it is clear and occurs at will and when awake. The events seen may take place in the near future, or the far future. They are also only one of many possible outcomes—some events can be avoided if the right measures are taken.

 

Presentience Presentience is precognition in the form of more abstract senses, emotions, or feelings . . . kind of like a mood ring of prediction. This power is also associated with clairsentience.

 

Psychokinesis The ability to mentally will events to happen, or will objects to move. (See Tactile Telekinesis.)

 

Psychometry The more beloved an object is by its owner, the more of the owner's energy is retained inside that object. Similarly, the stones of old houses and castles may retain some memory or recording of especially passionate events that have taken place in their midst. Psychometry is the ability to sense this energy and relate details about the past or future condition of an object, person, or location, usually by being in close contact with it.

 

Pyrokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate fire, or heat in general. The antithesis to cryokinesis. Pyrokinetics are especially helpful around erupting volcanoes and forest fires. Pyrokinetics are usually fire-retardant . . . but the sun will still kill you.

 

Remote Viewing The ability of a directed clairvoyant who can travel to a specific person, time, or place to be able to see what someone is doing, or what events are taking place. Often used by spies to overhear secret plans, or to discover the hiding place of documents or treasure.

 

Shapeshifting This power is usually limited to Were-Hunters, but not always. If a Were-Hunter becomes a Dark-Hunter, like Ravyn Kontis, he retains this power—the two are not mutually exclusive.

 

Sonokinesis The ability to mentally manipulate sound waves. A sonokinetic is a great friend to have at a concert, a crowded bar, or a political cocktail party. They are particularly useful when in need of a distraction, as trained sonokinetics are exceptionally good ventriloquists. Sonokinetics rarely ever go deaf, but if one decides not to listen to you, he or she can literally tune you out.

 

Spiritual Possession The ability to take complete and total control of another person's body via astral projection or mind transfer. Spathi Daimons, such as Desiderius, have the ability to do this if their original body is killed and they are allowed to float about disembodied in the ether. Ghosts and other departed spirits are especially eager to possess the body of a Dark-Hunter, since it is a souless vessel in prime condition, so always be on your guard.

 

Tactile Telekinesis The ability to manipulate objects by touching them. People who are tactile telekinetics can carry massive objects with very little effort. They also have to be very careful that no one witnesses them picking up cars and cement trucks and whatnot.

 

Technopathy The ability to manipulate electrical fields and/or devices. Associated with electrokinesis and magnetokinesis, technokinetics stand apart for their particularly useful ability to fix broken electronics and corrupted computers. There are a few technopathic Squires who work on maintaining the Dark-Hunter Web site.

 

Telekinesis A matter of mind over matter. Telekinesis is the ability to manipulate and control objects with the mind, often in ways not visible to the naked eye. A telekinetic can lift and move inanimate objects; some more powerful telekinetics can also manipulate people into doing things against their will. Poltergeist activity has often been attributed to telekinetics.

 

Telepathy The ability to read the thoughts of others. Some telepaths can make themselves be heard by others, and particularly powerful ones can mentally communicate with a person or persons with no telepathic ability. All gods are telepaths, and those Apollites most closely descended from Apollo, like Cassandra Peters, have some latent telepathic ability.

 

Teleportation Just like in Star Trek, teleportation is the ability to disappear from one place and reappear in another almost instantaneously. Were-Hunters have this ability, and Daimons can teleport through laminas. One cautionary note: If a bolt-hole or lamina appears, don't follow the Daimon into it. You will get eaten. FYI: Corbin has this power.

 

Dark-Hunter Creed

 

Let me give you the job description. Me, Dark-Hunter. You, Daimon. I hit. You bleed. I kill. You die.

 

—Zarek

 

We are Darkness. We are Shadow. We are the Rulers of the Night. We, alone, stand between mankind and those who would see mankind destroyed. We are the Guardians. The Soulless Keepers. Our souls were castout so that we would not forewarn the Daimons we pursue. By the time they see us coming, it's too late. The Daimons and Apollites know us. They fear us. We are death to all those who prey upon the humans. Neither Human, nor Apollite, we exist beyond the realm of the Living, beyond the realm of the Dead. We are the Dark-Hunters. And we are eternal.

 

Just Say No

 

Even the devil may cry when he looks around hell and realizes that he's there alone.

 

—Acheron

 

There are certain things a Dark-Hunter must do (kill Daimons, stay alive), and there are certain things that will get you in so much trouble with Acheron even the Shades will remember your name. There is a code of honor that's a bit like the Ten Commandments,

 

but less written-in-stonish.

 

The Fourteen Cardinal Rules

 

1. Never expose your powers to uninitiated humans.

 

2. Be a part of the world, but never in it.

 

3. Never be in the presence of a god.

 

4. Never let sunshine touch you.

 

5. An unconscious Dark-Hunter is a dead Dark-Hunter.

 

6. No significant others.

 

7. Never touch your Squire.

 

8. No family, no friends who knew you before you died.

 

9. Let no Daimon escape alive.

 

10. Never speak of what you are.

 

11. You cannot be in the presence of another Dark-Hunter.

 

12. Whatever you do to another Dark-Hunter, you will feel tenfold.

 

13. You walk alone.

 

14. Keep your bow mark hidden.

 

Sounds easy, right?

 

Well, if it's so easy, why do we have to keep reminding Dark-Hunters about it?

 

1. Never expose your powers to uninitiated humans. Exposing your powers exposes all of us to public scrutiny—you, me, the Apollites and Daimons, the gods and goddesses, even the existence of Atlantis itself (and you really don't want to go there). For obvious reasons—like the fate of the world as you know it—it's best if the world thinks we are all products of stories and legends, Hollywood and folktales. Never ever prove to them that you are real. More important, just weigh how badly the gods would punish you against that fifteen minutes of fame.

 

What to Do if Your Powers Are Seen

 

o Play it off; pretend nothing happened.

 

o Run . . . fast.

 

o Knock the watcher into next week. Literally.

 

o Start speaking French (anyone would be convinced they're in a dream).

 

o Don't worry about it (only if you're Wulf Tryggvason).

 

o Pretend you're David Copperfield.

 

o Hope you can convince Ash you just had a temporary head injury.

 

2. Be a part of the world, but never in it. You will be forced to interact with the human world. You can't exactly save them if you don't interact with them, right? Just remember, you are an observer, not a participant. Leave no witnesses. Stay in the background. Be discreet with your prey. Daimons turn to dust, so there's never a body to worry about. See? Half the work's already done. Make sure you take care of the other half.

 

3. Never be in the presence of a god. Since you are soulless, you are an anathema to the gods. You certainly don't want to be on one's bad side, and you don't exactly want to be on one's good side. Gods fight a lot. And you know, the friend of my enemy and all that. You shouldn't come up against this too much, since all but Artemis are forbidden to lend you aid of any kind. More on that in "Great Gods All Mighty."

 

4. Never let sunshine touch you. This one's sort of selfexplanatory, really. Thanks to Apollo, daylight equals death. If you're feeling particularly masochistic, skip straight on down to the section on "How to Die." Go on. I'll wait right here.

 

5. An unconscious Dark-Hunter is a dead Dark-Hunter.

 

When you are injured, you will want to sleep. It's a natural instinct. Your body will heal in its sleep. With the aid of a Dream-Hunter, it will heal even faster. Don't fall asleep outside of your safety zone. Never leave yourself vulnerable.

 

What to Do If You're Close to Exposure

 

1. Ignore all Daimons. Saving yourself just became more important than saving the world. Besides, you can catch them later.

 

2. Run. (There is no playing this off.)

 

3. Hide. (Garages, woodsheds, public toilets, and so on. Avoid occupied tombs.)

 

4. Call a Squire. (Always keep a body bag in your trunk.)

 

5. Stay calm. What's the worst thing that could happen? Oh, yeah, you burst into flames. Never mind. Panic all you want.

 

Remember, a Light-Hunter is a Dead-Hunter.

 

6. No significant others. Your only priority is mankind. Dereliction of duty is grounds to be classified as a Rogue (a one-way ticket to total extinction). Keep your priorities straight. Significant others will distract you and detract from your oath. You're on a nondisclosure agreement as it is with the whole Dark-Hunter powers thing, so any sort of long-term relationship is doomed from the start.

 

I'm not telling you to repress your urges, I'm just saying limit it to a one-night stand (with a human, you moron, not an Apollite for heaven's sake and whatever you do never a Daimon), and move on. It's safer that way for everyone involved. And don't worry about having a child, or begetting one on someone else—Dark-Hunters are sterile.

 

The first thing a new Dark-Hunter is quick to point out is the existence of copious modern-day exceptions to this rule. Kyrian and Amanda Hunter, Tabitha Devereaux and Valerius Magnus, Talon and Sunshine Runningwolf . . . yes, it does happen. (Life wouldn't be much fun if it didn't.) Just don't ever count on it happening to you. For the truly masochistic, there is more information later on, in "The Out Clause."

 

7. Never touch your Squire. Squires. They may be hard to live with, but it's pretty damn hard to live without them. You rely on them to protect you while you rest and to pull your butt out of harm's way in a pinch (and in the daylight). Do yourself a huge favor and don't go falling in love with yours. Your Squire will do anything for you. If you care about yours, do this for them.

 

The Squire Council tries to avoid pairing up Squires and Dark-Hunters of the opposite sex (or the opposite desired partner, in case that happens to be the same sex), but it happens from time to time. People in the workplace and all that. Just don't. Affairs of the heart inevitably lead to the death of either the Hunter or the Squire. No entanglements.

 

8. No family, no friends who knew you before you died. You are dead. Never forget it. It's cruel to both the Hunter and the family to know what you have become. You have loved, and now you must let go. It puts your family in jeopardy, making them prime targets for Daimon attacks. For everyone's sake, never return to your origins, your descendents, or contact any family or friends who may still live to recognize you.

 

9. Let no Daimon escape alive. You were created to kill them. (If for some reason you don't, when Ash comes around you gonna have some 'splainin' to do, Lucy.) Never toy with your prey. The longer they live, the greater the chance the souls they carry will die. Kill the Daimons; save the humans. Let me repeat that: Kill the Daimons; save the humans. Humans and Apollites, while they have their failings, are what you were sent here to protect. Once an Apollite turns Daimon, though, it's fair game.

 

Daimons by nature are cowards. They talk big, and their bark is worse than their bite, literally. The courageous ones are Spathi Daimons. These are their warrior class who do hunt and pursue Dark-Hunters. Don't get cocky. Learn the difference. The Spathi have sun tattoos. They swear allegiance to Apollymi. They will face you and fight to the death, and they are very good at what they do—expect it.

 

10. Never speak of what you are. Sometimes it is best for legends to stay legends. All Dark-Hunters are forbidden to have their likeness captured, in any medium. The last thing you need is a bunch of renegade teenage paparazzi hunting you down like Doctor Who. The only time you can break this rule is in the event of dire circumstances. Humans must not know you exist. Film provides lasting proof that you don't age and it makes it easy for humans to recognize you. Those two things are bad. Very bad.

 

11. You cannot be in the presence of another Dark-Hunter.

 

Just in case one of you was harboring any ill will, to prevent Dark-Hunters from combining their powers they are forbidden from ever being in each other's company. To do so is to feel an instant drain on your powers. A few minutes' company with your comrades-in-arms is fine, but any lengthy stay and you will deplete each other.

 

This also prevents the Dark-Hunters from banding together and going up against the gods . . . a nice touch on Artemis's part. Acheron is the only Dark-Hunter you will be able to walk beside for an extended period of time without passing out, but Acheron was the first. He's . . . different.

 

12. Whatever you do to another Dark-Hunter, you will feel tenfold. To help maintain the above rule, Artemis added a bonus. If you do attempt to physically harm another Dark-Hunter, the pain you inflict upon your victim you will feel tenfold. (And here you thought paganism with its threefold rule was tough.) Don't worry, you will stop long before he's even close to dead; it will be physically impossible for you to continue. That much pain is just not worth it. Think twice before striking.

 

Excerpted from THE DARK-HUNTER COMPANION by Sherrilyn Kenyon with Alethea Kontis
Copyright © 2007 by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Published in November 2007 by St. Martin's Press

 

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