I’m half incubus.
I know that women are technically succubi, not incubi, but I’m not a succubus, I am half incubus. As in, my father is an incubus. Thank the fates I didn’t turn out a total sex demon like him; I’m just the daughter of one, which has left me with an incurable, never-ending horniness and a need for sexual gratification at least every other day or else I go insane. Lucky for me, though, my mother’s genes managed to sneak into most other areas of my life.
Because I’m also half dragon.
By this, I don’t mean that my mother is one of those dragon species who can turn themselves into a human at will. If only it was that simple. But no, see, my father wanted an offspring that was his, without a mother who could claim custody and child support and other nonsense like that.
So he decided to use an abundance of experimental, dangerous and very expensive magic to turn a pure, female dragon into a human woman for one night only, impregnate her, and then have her turn back to a dragon to lay the egg with their person-shaped, half-incubus, half-dragon offspring inside.
That’s right. I was hatched, from an egg.
And my mother flew away back to the Red Hills as soon as I hatched. Talk about teenage identity issues, I cannot even tell you. But I got over that a few years ago.
Now, in my late twenties, I am completely fine with being a constantly horny half-breed who can spew fire from my mouth at will and make my hands glow.
And to top it all off, my father decided to name me Velvet.
Velvet Valentine. That’s me. Because the half incubus/half dragon needs a name that makes her sound as much like a stripper as possible.
… If the world was fair, I would at least be able to fly, too.
Really, though, I have made the most of my situation. Raised in Sagemill under my father’s watchful eye, I learned a lot about how the dark and dirty parts of our world works.
Sagemill is not a place for children, so unless you’ve been raised there, it’s really not anything that can be explained, or even understood if you haven’t experienced it for yourself.
If you have, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I got the hell out of Sagemill when I was fourteen. I got lucky and made a home for myself in the orphanages of Norhill – not the perfect situation, but a massive step up.
At least in Norhill – home of the lost souls with nowhere else to go, haven to the lost children of Hurst – there were other messed-up kids like me. Even kids more messed up than me. Being a freak in Norhill is the same as being normal.
If you’re from Westerland or Corton or somewhere big and fancy like that, and you’ve had a functional family where your parents have regular jobs and you lived in a respectable neighborhood, and you come for a stroll through the city of Norhill, you will stand out like a sore, unusually clean thumb.
‘Normal’ does not belong in Norhill.
That’s not to say that there aren’t happy families in Norhill; they just work differently. Take my best friend, for example, whom I met about a week after I walked into this city.
Allow me to introduce Burgundy Maxwell. Burgundy has a big, happy family; always big and mostly happy. She’s a mermaid, and her parents and 16 siblings have a beautiful home in an underwater cove in Wintersea, just by the coast nearest Norhill, close to that huge beach on the shore where only Norhill locals go to escape the world and soak in a bit of beauty.
All nineteen don’t live in the cove anymore – some of the older siblings have fled the nest, some have gone as far as Morlyn.
But a lot of them live in Norhill.
Burgundy got out of the water and moved in with one of her big sisters and her husband when she was sixteen, when the water became just a bit too crowded for her.
We ran into each other – literally – on the street one day, and both started yelling at each other instead of apologizing. I noticed her green hair, thought it was amazingly cool, and asked if she wanted to go for coffee instead of yelling at each other.
She said yes, and we’ve been best friends ever since.
Burgundy Maxwell could also sound like a stripper’s name, except hers, at least, makes sense, because even though her hair is as green as over-lush, bright grass; when she is in water and her tail revealed itself, the colors of her scales range from dark red to brown, and mostly a gorgeous shade of burgundy.
So that one made sense.
Burgundy and I were inseparable from our first day together. I spent more time at her sister’s place than I did in the orphanage. The streets between the orphanage and her apartment became our playground, or territory, our hood. We knew it like the back of our hands and everyone in those streets knew us.
We were reasonably clever kids, and overly obsessed with justice and finding the answers to riddles and mysteries. I guess knowing things was really what we loved. Not knowing the answer to a question was the most massive thorn in our sides.
If anyone in our circle had any problems, we volunteered to help them solve it, if for no other reason that we couldn’t walk past an unanswered question without learning the truth.
So naturally, when Burgundy finished school and I outgrew the orphanage, we started our own P.I. firm.
Valentine & Maxwell: Private Investigators.
It was perfect. It was our dream. And we made it happen.
It was hard, and more work than we really preferred, but there’s few things we’ll set our minds to and not see through.
So that is how we – Velvet Valentine and Burgundy Maxwell – ten years into the business, have become some of the most respected private investigators in Norhill and the surrounding cities. And undoubtedly the hottest.
And there’s our backstory. We’ve had a lot of adventures so far. I thought I’d start out by telling you about one of them.
For me, it was the most important case we ever worked. That might be because I kinda sorta died in the course of the investigation. It might also be for other, much more enjoyable reasons.
Anyway, we’ll get to all that, and I promise it will all make sense in the end.
But let me start at the beginning…