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This article or section contains spoilers for 2021 novel Rafael.
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Neva is an elderly wererat magic-user. She commands considerable respect within Dark Crown Clan.


Average height, thin shoulders, strong bones, no stoop at all, but muscles are thinning down the way that usually only happens after seventy years of age. Neva's skin is visibly aged and very very brown, but her hair is still thick and black, and she carries very noticeable power around her. When Anita first meets Neva she wears her hair unbound around her shoulders, and hidden beneath the hair is the hilt of a short sword that is carried in a diagonal holster at her back, underneath a short-sleeved blouse. She knows how to hide herself in shadows and to command the not-quite-normal rats that reside within the fighting pits, and when she calls her powers her eyes turn black like a star-filled night sky, similar to Obsidian Butterfly. Neva says that her power comes from the ancestors of the rodere, and the gods that they walked with. Some but not all of those gods where Aztec. It's unclear whether Neva ever lets the power fade from her eyes or if they are permanently stuck that way.

History within series[]

We first meet Neva when Anita goes to the fighting pits to witness Rafael's fight against Hector. Neva is surprised and wary when Anita feels her power, and calls an army of rats to surround them while demanding answers. They are both very surprised to see the star-lit night sky in each other's eyes, but conclude that both have power that has Aztec roots, as do all the brujas of the rodere. Neva walks past them and takes the rats with her.

Neva and two younger brujas catch up with Anita's group after she's been challenged on her way up the bleachers. The brujas question Anita about her use of Obsidian Butterfly's withering spell and why Anita would choose to use it against such insignificant challengers, but accept Claudia's explanation that they were tired of Anita needing to prove herself every few minutes. When Anita is somewhat cranky about Rafael's insufficient lack of warning for what to expect, Neva notes that Rafael has never been a good judge of women, even as a child. She gives Rafael an admonishing look where he sits on his wooden throne high up the stands, and he immediately comes down to escort Anita's group the rest of the way. Neva and her companions surprise them all by declaring they will stay, and come to stand behind Rafael and Anita's thrones, flanked by their bodyguards. This is apparently highly unusual, but the brujas are very free to do as they please.

When Hector is challenging Rafael with his words, voice boosted by Padma, Neva commands Anita to call the power to her eyes and tell Neva what she sees. Anita isn't happy about being ordered around, but is curious enough to oblige. There is a black nimbus around Hector's aura, which itself looks sickened, and Anita isn't sure what that means. Neva explains that it's a power she has seen before, when the Mother of All Darkness came to them pretending to be Santa Muerte, although the rats didn't believe her. It's unclear if Neva was really present for that meeting in person, or if that happened to some ancestor and Neva has witnessed the memory via some other means. A bit later Neva notes that every time Anita and Pierrette and Rafael touch each other, Hector's aura pulses and fills more of the darkness around him. Claudia comments that that also makes Hector sound less like himself, which means their plan of distracting Padma through Hector is working. Anita thinks that if they manage to prove that Hector is Padma's creature Rafael won't have to fight, but Neva quickly shoots down this idea. The challenge takes precedence over everything.

Neva speaks some cryptic words about their power being stronger tonight with Anita's power inside Rafael and the power of a goddess similar to theirs inside Anita, but when questioned Neva simply says that all women have the power of the Goddess in them. Neva and one of the younger brujas also explain the difference between a tlahuelpuchi and a vampire. Neva calls the younger bruja mija (daughter), and the younger bruja calls Neva abuela (grandmother), but it's unclear whether these are actual familial terms or related to their positions within the clan. The younger brujas don't keep their eyes in power mode all the time, but Neva does, and it's unclear whether her eyes are stuck that way. When Anita asks what Neva is planning to do, she answers: "Win."

When Padma resorts to healing Hector excessively, Neva notes that the vampire has used too much power and has left them a trail to follow. After Padma levitates Hector out of reach of a killing blow, Neva judges that sufficient grounds that Rafael's master can help him in turn—to fight in his stead, while the brujas find Padma with their magic. And as Anita is Pierrette's vampire queen, Pierrette must naturally fight at her side. They do, but Claudia and Benito keep them from killing Hector, because Neva needs him alive to get Padma first. Hector is still healing too fast and gets back to his feet, but Neva yells a word that is unfamiliar to Anita, stamping one foot hard on the sand at the same time, and Hector falls back down as if tripped. Neva and the two younger brujas set to work and send Anita to see for Rafael, although she isn't allowed to give power to Rafael even if his healing is blocked by Padma. Anita is understandably frustrated by this, but Neva points out that the situation is unprecedented and they need a moment to search their law and lore for what can be done without Rafael forfeiting his throne. The brujas call Anita back after a while, though, as their power isn't enough to pierce that of the Mother of All Darkness, even if Padma only carries a small amount of it.

With Neva's guidance Anita follows the power to Padma in turn, and the power of the Mother of All Darkness simply moves aside for Anita. This in turns opens a way for the brujas. They call the not-quite-normal rats on the sands, and the starry darkness within Neva's eyes is suddenly an entire universe filled with a dark mass of rats rather than blackness of empty space. An avalanche of metaphysical rats falls from Neva's eyes into Anita's and through her into Padma's eyes on Hector's face, allowing an avalanche of very physical rats to pour into Padma's cheap hotel room, and the combined power of Anita and the brujas over the rats is much stronger than Padma's. Neva holds the shared power together, and the not-quite-normal rats eat Padma alive. Hector doesn't survive the death of his master and Anita expects his body to meet the same fate, but Neva informs her that that is not how they dispose of bodies at the fighting pit. Anita's connection to Rafael allows her to learn that there is something very old and powerful in the river that the rodere sacrifice their fallen for. One of the not-quite-normal rats has taken a liking to Anita, and Neva apparently knows how to communicate with them, as she tells Anita that the rat says Anita is allowed to choose a human name for him, but he'll decide whether he likes it or not.