The rest of the day was not worth remembering and left Kangassk dead tired. He fell asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow, with his dusty clothes and shoes still on.
It was past noon when he made his first attempts to wake up which turned to be more difficult than usual. His stubborn nocturnal mind kept clinging to memories of Kuldagan: its dunes and fountains, sandy winds and scorching sun. The thing that broke the spell was a strong aroma of coffee and chocolate combined. Somehow, it snaked its way into Kan’s dreams and woke him up.
“Good morning… I mean, good day, lord Kangassk!” It was a servant, a plump young boy with neatly cut hair and rosy cheeks. He held a brightly painted tray; there was a handful of sweets, each wrapped in foil, and a big porcelain cup filled to the brim with the aromatic drink.
“Good morning, kid!” Kan smiled at him and sat on the bed. “What’s your name?”
“Latar. My mom owns this inn,” said the boy proudly. “Your teacher, the mage lady, told me to make you cocoa with coffee and serve it with some sweets.”
Kangassk took a sip of the strange drink. He knew what coffee and cocoa tasted like but never thought of mixing them in one cup. The mix was good.
“Sit down, Latar,” said Kangassk, “and help yourself. There are way too many sweets for me anyway.”
The boy jumped at the offer without hesitation. In a moment, his little hand grabbed the particularly tasty treat from the middle of the heap.
“Tell me, do you happen to know what kind of creature dvoedushnik is?” asked Kan, his thoughts back to yesterday’s news again.
“It’s a person with two souls.” Latar seemed surprised to learn that a grown-up man could be ignorant of such a thing. “One of the souls is human, the other is a demon. The demon-soul wakes up at night and does bad things while human-soul sleeps. They say dvoedushnik kills with winds! Winds so strong they shred flesh from the bones!”
“...Exactly: they shred flesh from the bones…” concluded Sereg as he entered the room.
Latar quickly pocketed several more sweets and darted out of the door. Sereg crossed the room with a lazy pace, grabbed a chair, and sat across Kangassk.
“I bet if I hadn’t scared him away, he’d tell you a creepy story or two,” the worldholder said, thoughtfully. “But all in good time… Right now, you need science, not fairy tales, so I brought you a book. Read it. I put a bookmark on the page you need.”
Kan looked at Sereg with wide eyes. The haughty worldholder who used to call him a “stray mortal” and treated him accordingly came here specifically to teach him a lesson! The very idea of Sereg teaching him something took Kangassk’s breath away. He even failed to notice where the book came from, a heavy ancient tome embossed with silver patterns. Maybe Sereg had just summoned it on the spot by some magic spell. One way or the other, it was there now, beside the painted tray with the sweets.
“And don’t spill coffee over it!” said Sereg sternly before leaving the room.
Kan obediently moved the drink away from the book. He realised the seriousness of the situation only after looking at the tome’s publication date. That book was almost two thousand years old!
For a bookmark, Sereg just used a candy wrap, without much respect to the thing that wasn’t nearly as ancient as him; so, while he did have some respect to the tome, it wasn't that great. The surprises didn’t end there: the text in the book was written by hand.
“Dvoedushnik is one of the rare and scarcely explored Omnisian natural phenomenon. Of the five recorded cases, four were the results of botched summoning experiments where vitryaniks (lesser wind demons) were involved. In the fifth case, the origins of the dvoedushnik remained unknown.
The complete transition of vitryaniks into Omins was proved to be impossible. The only type of presence possible here for such a demon is astral parasitism. The only possible host for it is a person with a spacious magical chalice filled to the brim. Subjects answering to that description are usually elderly people who have never used magic in their life; less often, talented young mages with untapped potential.
The coexistence of the parasite and the host is known as the “double soul” phenomena. During the day, the possessed person acts their usual self, during the night, the vitryanik takes over. The demon hunts by way of powerful winds it raises over its victims. Common folk call them “Death Winds”. Those winds are often strong enough to tear the victim apart.
The demon chooses its victims carefully and never hunts in the vicinity of its host. The goals of the hunts are unknown, there are only hypotheses. Since humans have the biggest magical chalices and the biggest magical potential of all creatures, even the weakest of them would be more desirable prey if the wind demons are after magical energy. Unfortunately, with only five recorded cases of the “double soul” phenomenon, there is not enough data to prove or disprove that.
Identifying the vitryanik’s host can prove difficult since the person’s diurnal behaviour does not change. Deep, oblivious night sleep and old age, when present together, are considered to be grounds for suspicion.”
Paypal and Payoneer no longer work in my country, so I can't get money from Ko-fi, Gumroad, Buymeacoffe and ComicAd (the ad banners here).
The only tip jar I have left is Boosty. It accepts Paypal, all cards, any currency, then it converts it into rubles and sends to me. Boosty works the same way as Patreon + accepts one-time donations like Ko-fi and allows selling ebooks.