2.2 | Diary of a Dead Man

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"The journal of Konstantin the Keeper. Someone smashed open the glass case and took it right off the display stand."

The report alleviated Nika's anxiety—or some of it, at least. He must have believed she was telling the truth, for whatever reason. But after considering the information, she could only frown.

Konstantin the Keeper was a notable figure from Daemonstri history. The Nefili warrior lived in fifteenth-century Romania, where he and his colleagues founded the Vigil. In the years since, he'd been known as Konstantin the Keeper—the original defender of the Serafi race. He'd died in his mid-thirties, if Nika remembered correctly, and Konstantin Academy had been named in his honor.

"Why would someone steal a dead man's diary?" she wondered aloud.

Kovachev shifted uncomfortably, and his chair creaked. "That question is usually answered after we find a suspect."

Nika watched the headmaster. His knee bounced rhythmically, a dribble of sweat gathered in his hairline, and he kept glancing at his computer screen.

"Isn't it obvious?" she said.

For all the world, she was a bored teenager trapped in the principal's office. And she certainly wasn't questioning Kovachev's increasing nervousness.

"Dante Azzara," Nika continued, "—or whatever his real name is—showed up out of nowhere, claiming to be a student. He was dumb enough to ask directions to the library, which is always closed by midnight. There are security cameras in that building, but they're broken and the school can't afford to replace them." Kovachev blinked. Nika restrained a cocky smirk. "The staff gossip. It wouldn't have been hard for Dante to acquire that information. He's your strongest suspect."

"Perhaps. If he even exists."

Nika ignored the underlying accusation and tapped her fingers against the wooden arm of her chair, thinking.

Konstantin's journal was coveted by only two entities in Daemonstri society—the Ministry and the Vigil.

The Ministry was an aristocratic group of Serafi. Thirteen Ministers—including one Prime Minister—acted as the supreme authority over all Daemonstri west of the Atlantic Ocean. Their exact function was difficult to explain, but essentially, they did whatever they wanted to, and the public followed their laws.

The Vigil, however, was an institution of Nefili. There were thousands of members, called keepers, whose main purpose was to protect the Serafi race. Keepers were the soldiers, security guards, and policemen of Daemonstri society. The Vigil had numerous divisions—which were based on physical location—and each was headed by a High Keeper.

For as long as Nika could remember, the Ministry and the Vigil had been at each other's throats—though, it was a passive-aggressive battle. In recent years, some Ministers had petitioned to obtain control over the Vigil's operations, and the High Keeper of North America refused to relinquish his authority.

It was an endless topic of debate—should the Daemonstri community's protection be governed by lawmakers or warriors? And many people believed that Konstantin's journal held the answer to that question.

The diary served as the Vigil's sole founding document. In it, Konstantin described the Vigil's role and function, including whether or not the institution was meant to exist under the rule of a Serafi government.

In order to prove that they had the right to assume dominion over the Vigil, Ministers would have needed to build their case using the Vigil's founding document—that is, Konstantin's diary. However, since the journal was a historical artifact in the school's possession, it was untouchable and unable to be used in the debates. Which left the conflict at a stalemate.

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