City of Night: Missing Person

Nightfall in Brahmir: City of Night

Chapter Two – Missing Person


Part One: City of Night: Ammon’s Reach


Mayeli Kane had been missing for thirty-four days.

The nearest night of her disappearance, her father, Bartholemew had barely said a word to her. She came home late from a flower picking trip and rushed to her room, as she often did. She came down for dinner and then when his wife went to check on her before bed, realized that she was gone.

It didn’t take long for Olem to assume the worst. He’d been a detective for long enough to know, when a child goes missing in Ammon’s Reach they won’t return. But that was not merely anyone’s child.

Mayeli Kane was his daughter. He would not stop until she was found, and he didn’t.

He’d dropped his prior case, a resurgence of the Barrenthal Academy spirit making rounds piqued his interest, but as soon as his wife called him to investigate their property for their daughter, he didn’t care what the Academy spirit might have done if it didn’t have something to do with his daughter.

He retraced what he assumed to be her steps. Thanks to a helpful tip off from the local nosy neighbors, they tracked Mayeli all the way to Lantz Ironworks before they ran out of tips. If she’d gone there after dark, and alone, he knew he wouldn’t see his daughter again.

Still, that didn’t stop him from overturning the abandoned Iron mill over the following two weeks. He and his men worked through it room by room, scrubbing the place for any detail that might lead to a clue regarding May’s disappearance. Ultimately, thanks to a Diviner who bound a spirit, they discovered she’d not been to the grounds that night, or any night, for that matter.

The setback was devastating, but he refused to slow down. He took one day to find time to attempt to relax, to get sleep, to have a home cooked meal, and then he was back out on the hunt.

Fia bless the Lamplighters who went with him, pious church folk who offered to brave the Ammon’s Reach nightfall to search for anything they could find. Sixteen days in, though, he knew the trail was all but gone. Too many people had been where she’d been. Ammon’s Reach was busy as long as the sun remained in the sky, and there would have been no one he could think of who would have been out by the Ironworks in the middle of the night.

Of course, he wasn’t a Lamplighter.

On day twenty-one of her disappearance, Olem and his crew of Lamplighters found a particularly talkative spirit. A Puzzle Phantom who had, after no small amount of coercion, revealed it had followed a girl matching May’s description to the house of Professor Harfin.

The spirit was dealt with by the Lamplighters while he made his way to Harfin’s house and broke the lock, within, he discovered a horror show that far exceeded his expectations.

“Harfin didn’t disappear.” Olem scrunched his face as he stepped into the home, followed closely by Orri, a young Lamplighter who stuck beside him while her companions eradicated the spirit. The pair walked into a crowded house, unkempt for days and covered all across with dust and cobwebs. They inspected the lower floors of the house, taking care to light the mana ward at the front door. Something which likely hadn’t happened in a number of days, which put Harfin on his guard.

The Mana Wards were devices designed by Barrenthal Academy artificers, with the aid of the Lamplighters. Their presence at every home was a secret only to the youth of Ammon’s Reach, to keep them from nightmares. The truth that Harfin’s city held close to their chest was that they were really never safe. The horrors and spirits that stalked the night had no restraint. Nothing could stop them for decades. Stories at the Agency told of the veterans, those who’d been in service for many times longer than he, who used to have a division specifically sent out at the dawn to clean up potential deaths in the city. 

It wasn’t until a particularly talented artificer named Fleck created a device which could ward a certain area for a time. It was an expensive decision, but it was worth it. After preliminary testing, they’d realized the Mana Wards were practically impenetrable, save for one sect of horrors. A particular genus which the Academy had only defined as a mimic, who could replicate the energy given off by the wards. Still, after the Lamplighters had shared their ingenuity with Fleck, the Academy commissioned Lantz Ironworks to produce them en masse for the citizens. Most of the newer homes came equipped with Mana Wards on their doorstep, and for a small fee, one could pay a few extra points to have warding installed into the very foundation of their homes. Harfin’s abode was no such masterwork, and had been one of the younger houses in the historic district. His ward was installed after the commission and had been dutifully ignited every night for as long as Harfin could tell, until his disappearance. 

Olem grimaced, peering through notes upon notes intermingled with paintings done by his daughter in her youth. Kardja, a calm mannered girl who had been friends with Mayeli for much of their childhood. He tossed a pile of reports onto Harfin’s desk as Orri made her way upstairs.

While he looked through Harfin’s notes, he found a journal containing the professors most recent activity. He’d taken a leave of absence from the Academy a few months prior and none of the other professors had been in touch with him. Olem pocketed the journal to read as Orri called from upstairs.

“Detective, you need to get up here.”

He ran, the remaining Lamplighters trailing behind him as he wound the staircase to the sound of her voice. On the second floor, at the end of the hall, the young girl stood with her palms outstretched, a beam of whiteish green light poured from her hands. On the floor beside her, runes were glowing in the wood.

“There’s a free spirit. It must have come in after Harfin left.” She stuttered as she held her hands up high to the spirit, chained down by her magic.

Olem ran to her side as she dropped her guard and stepped back, other Lamplighters pushed past and maintained the phantom trap. Runes appeared around their feet as the same light began to emanate from them. Orri turned her attention wordlessly onto Olem, showering him in a calm, warm outpouring of mana.

Across from him, tucked into the corner of the room stood two spirits in corporeal form. They took the shape of twin daughters, each of them with an axe in one hand. With their other hands, they clasped one another. Their faces were painted with sick, twisted grins and filled with wicked sharp teeth. 

“What is your business here?” Olem shouted as the spirits calmly watched each of them, unafraid of what might happen to them.

“We are investigating.” The spirits spoke in unison.

“Investigating?” Olem cocked his head. “What are you looking for?”

“One of us, who was changed.” The spirits replied.

He shared a look with Orri. There was every possibility the twins were trickster spirits, a Folly or a Ghinn, there was no way to tell, not really. Not by any of them.

“What made you search here?” Olem reached to his side for his pistol.

The twins eyes followed his hand, and upon realizing what he was reaching for they twisted into two foul frowns.

“We are broken, but we will be together soon.”

Whatever they were saying didn’t mean anything to him. If the pair weren’t tricksters, they could also be paired spirits. A common sight in Blythe Woods, but rarely seen in the city.

“What do you mean? Let us help you.” Olem said, his hand still hovering over the gun.

“You will not help. You cannot help us. It is coming.”

“It is coming?” He asked Orri, more so than the spirits. “What is it?” He turned to address them.

“The Weaver.”

The spirits frowns warped to horror briefly before they both exploded into clouds of glittering violet ash.

“What did you do?” Olem shouted at the Lamplighters.

“Nothing, sir!” One of them replied, dropping the enchantment that bound the spirit. “It… killed itself.”

In nearly two decades on the force, Olem had never seen a spirit “kill itself.”

The Lamplighters shared looks between themselves and Orri, which signaled to Olem none of them had seen such an occurrence either.

“Well, shame we didn’t know they could end their own afterlives sooner.” He stepped into the room. “Could have saved us lots of bullets.”

Inside the room, now that the chaos of the twin spirits had died away, he was able to take stock of his surroundings, and what he found sent a chill through him.

It was a bedroom, a girl’s room likely the same age as Mayeli.

“Kardja…” He whispered, looking out over the scene.

The bed had been nailed to the wall, mounted to large boards which revealed that it hadn’t been the first time this had happened. Behind the headboard and side railing of the bed the wall was covered with a myriad of chipped siding, torn wallpaper and broken nails still filling holes. There were hundreds of them around the frame of the bed. Along the headrest hung a long iron chain with two sets of shackles on either end. The shackles were of little use, as they’d been melted through.

Elsewhere in the bedroom, dry brown splotches covered the rest of the wallpaper.

“Blood…” Orri muttered with a shiver.

The pattern of the blood splatter was impossible to define, like a thousand bullets came from the bed and split the recipient into tatters. 

The Lamplighters stepped out of the room as Olem waved his hand. They took position through the house, searching for other wayward haunts as he knelt beside the bed. The part of the frame exposed to the room was covered in deep scratch marks and broken splinters of fingernail. 

“What were you doing, old man?” He whispered, running a gloved finger over the marks. 

“How much was she suffering?”

As Olem continued looking, he kicked over a pile of clothing in the corner of the room. With a sick squish his boot passed through a pile of mush hidden beneath the clothing. He knelt to inspect it and caught the scent of rotting blood from the pile. Emblazoned on the jacket of the figure was the crest of Barrenthal Academy. Resting just beneath it, was a handbag.

It was dark brown leather, stitched with thread of varied colors and worn at the corners. The straps were polished from much use. His heart sank as he reached down and pulled it from the pile of muck, revealing a journal within. Bound in red leather and stamped with his family name on the back.

“Mayeli…” His heart sank as he opened the journal. The bloodstained pages retold her last moments before she’d disappeared, about Harfin’s secret request to fetch him herbs and cook up a cure for his daughter. Kardja was suffering greatly, with boils on her skin and severe discoloration. The professor promised to pay his daughter a great sum of money for her aid in curing his own child, and she wrote every step. The ingredients he requested, the time of their meeting, which lined up exactly with the last night she was seen alive.

Tears brimmed in his eyes as he continued reading. Mayeli took meticulous notes, especially when she was potion crafting. It was a habit her mother had trained into her well. If a mistake was made, she’d be sure to locate it on a review of her work. Olem didn’t know much about his wife’s work. He’d long been too invested in his own to keep up, but he did know what Hermit’s Breath was. A plant that grew seldom outside of Blythe Woods, unique to the area due to the conditions in which it is able to grow.

Orri entered the room and hung against the doorframe, a concerned look in her eye.

“Do you know what Hermit’s Breath is?” Olem asked her, snapping the journal closed.

“Can’t say that I do.”

“It’s a flower that grows in only one place, you can find it in bunches at the edge of Blythe Woods, close to town. Where the old cemetery used to be.”

She cocked her head, not understanding.

“Hermit’s Breath is a rare flower, because can only grow out of the corpse of a mortal. It’s a common ingredient in some esoteric rituals, but it’s second most common application is to paralyze those who ingest it.” He took a step to the bed and gestured.

“You are a Lamplighter, you’ve worked closely with the Church of the Breaking Sun, correct?”

She nodded, her eyes locked on the claw marks which decorated the side of the bed.

“You’re familiar with their practices to some degree, but what you might not be familiar with is their more extreme methods. In particularly violent cases, they use a Hermit’s Breath mixture to paralyze the victim so as to make the procedure easier on them.” He wiped a tear from his eye.

“What kind of procedure?” She asked, the other Lamplighters gathered behind her.

“Paralysis in a host, means that a victim of possession can’t harm themselves in the midst of an exorcism. Professor Harfin hired my daughter to unwittingly draught a paralytic for his own daughter so that he could exorcise her.” He glanced at the bed, stained yellow from sick sweat. “Or worse.”

Orri didn’t speak.

“There is a real chance that Kardja isn’t Kardja, anymore.”

The Chapel of the Breaking Sun was ornately designed, founded after the Night of Long Knives to be a bastion against the swelling forces of darkness had evolved into a pillar of the community. As their influence spread, so too did their teachings. It was the Chapel who established methods to protect the children of Ammon’s Reach, to disguise their protective measures as harmless habits. The nightly lighting of the Mana Wards were, at first, a ritual to save the peoples of the city known by every citizen of very age. After the founding of the Chapel, they instituted new regulations regarding the dealings with the evils of the land. The Mana Wards became lamps, lit each night for good luck. The sacrificial dolls offered to the Witch of Blythe Woods became good luck charms in the same manner, rather than revealing their true purpose. While their presence bolstered the morale of the city, many found the teachings of the Chapel unfounded and without their merits. Olem counted himself among this group.

Sitting around a great round table, carved of Blythe Oak and polished to the point of clear reflection he was surrounded on all sides by ranking officials, judges and clergymen as well as the Lamplighter officers who organized the defense of the city actively.

By his side sat Orri, along with her partner, her daughter Faun. Across from him sat Dhurri, a sagely old man who had led the Second Parish for as long as anyone could remember. The townsfolk joked that the only thing that would outlast the Priest was the Darkness itself. He’d seen the years pass at the helm of the Breaking Sun and had become, especially in his later years, a symbol of safety to the city. So much so that his likeness had been inscribed on the walls of noble houses, painted in back alleys and even printed on their coins. He was for all intents and purposes, the face of salvation to Ammon’s Reach.

All the more reason for Olem to be suspect that a demon had infested another child, and it had gone unnoticed.

“The Breaking Church has called this meeting to gather information discovered by Orri, the Adeptus Lamplighter of the Waterfront District, alongside Detective Bartholomew Kane. While investigating the disappearance of his daughter, Bartholomew and Orri along with a group of Novice Lamplighters came across the home of Professor Harfin, left abandoned on the same timeline as Mayeli Kane’s disappearance. Within, they discovered his daughter Kardja was also missing. At the scene they apprehended a rogue spirit manifesting as a pair of orphaned twins who in response to questioning, apparated. The event, reviewed by the Lamplighters, leads them to believe the spirit or spirits involved “killed” themselves, as much as that could be understood. Following this event, Detective Olem discovered a pile of rotten gore beneath Harfin’s Academy uniform, and found a handbag owned by his daughter at the scene as well.” Dhurri began the meeting with little ceremony, standing and circling the table as he spoke.

“Aye.” Another man whom Olem didn’t recognize, nodded his head. “What does the Detective have for us?”

Dhurri gestured, and Olem stood.

“At the scene, within my daughter’s journal she recorded the events leading up to her disappearance, and likely the disappearance of Harfin and his daughter, operating under the assumption that none of them were killed. Some number of days before the event, Harfin contacted Mayeli to draught a potion for him to help “cure” Kardja. This potion, while effective as a cure, was not created with any sickness in mind. The potion in question was comprised of a myriad of ingredients, but namely Hermit’s Breath which as most of you likely know, is an ingredient most commonly used by the Breaking Sun to paralyze targets of demonic possession and prevent them from harming themselves during an exorcism event.” Olem looked around the room as each of them watched him with a grim silence.

“My daughter was an inexperienced potions-crafter. My wife or any of the other shops in the city would have been a better option for such a critical draught. Searching through the journal, we have found no evidence that Harfin approached another crafter. I am operating under the suspicion that he was attempting to perform exorcism himself without the guidance of the Breaking Sun.”

The Lamplighters shared a look, each of them save for Faun had already heard his breakdown, but the possibility that another Night of Long Knives was on the horizon rested uncomfortably with each of them. 

Dhurri listened intently with a solemnity about him Olem couldn’t understand.

The stranger spoke up with a tip of his hat.

“So, sounds like one or all of them are dead. How big was that pile of ooze you kicked your boot through detective? About three people sized?” He kicked his feet up onto the table, which earned him dirty looks from the clergy that surrounded them all.

“No, I suspect that the gore we found belonged to Harfin and Harfin alone. We have no proof that Kardja was there, and Mayeli’s body wasn’t found. Only her belongings.” He leaned against the table and looked down at the stranger, who hit his face beneath a thick linen cloth and his head beneath a trim pointed hat, a single black feather stretched from the brim.

“All I’m saying is, in my experience, good honest folks don’t make it out of this kind of predicament alive.”

Dhurri coughed, interrupting the stranger from continuing.

“The situation is complicated, even more so by the fact that Olem’s daughter is one of the primary targets we are seeking. We don’t know her involvement in this scenario and until we have confirmed her death, we will treat the situation as though she is missing, not dead. The same is true for Kardja, who based on Olem’s preliminary report backed up by the Lamplighters, is suspected to be the victim of the possession.” He took a long breath and placed his wrinkled hand on the table, scarred by untold cuts and bites. “This group has been assembled for the purpose of locating Mayeli and Kardja, and returning them home alive. Olem will be leading the hunt for Mayeli, bringing Orri and Faun along with him.”

The old priest turned to face the stranger.

“Vienar, you will be leading the hunt for Kardja. If you are unable to remedy her, you have the permission of the Breaking Sun to exterminate whatever she has become.”

The stranger tipped his hat. “What about the detective’s kid?”

Dhurri shot a glance at him before he replied. “Spare her if at all possible.”

Indignation flashed through Olem, and the reassuring hand of Orri on his arm calmed him, if only briefly.

“I hope indeed that there will be limitless possibility.” Dhurri spoke slowly.

“And if there isn’t?” Olem asked.

“Then, I hope you were proud of your fatherhood.”

Olem stormed from the building and into the night covered streets. All around him, creatures meandered through the city. They dodged the Mana Wards and crept through shadowed alleys, but he could see them. It was his gift. His blessing. He was a Seer.

He was the first in his family to stray from tradition, but he was a Seer nonetheless.

If Dhurri appointed that posh disaster Veinar to hunt for the girls, he would need to be faster. More capable. He had the advantage of seeing what mortals couldn’t see, but it didn’t help him if he didn’t know where to look.

He paced along the street, garnering the attention of curious sprites who flitted over to him one at a time and tried to make him curious by revealing themselves intermittently. A hazard to some, making eye contact with a Sprite was undoubtedly cause for disaster. Trickster phantoms who latched onto a soul upon any meaningful contact. Most often, they’d pretend to be someone you knew, or someone you’d lost. If you answered, their fangs were in you. Other, more playful Sprites liked to dance and sing and distract you, only to close in on you when you met them eye to eye.

Olem only looked up from the cobblestone when he heard Orri’s rapid breathing at his side. The Lamplighter matched pace with him, pondering alongside him in her playful, unique way. Her daughter stood on the steps of the Breaking Sun watching them walk back and forth between Mana Wards, careful not to let the Sprites know she noticed them.

“What’s your plan?” Orri asked, eyes affixed on her boots.

“I don’t have one.” He was honest. Any information he’d found led them to the Breaking Sun. He didn’t have a newt to pluck that could tell him where to go.

A Sprite buzzed into his peripheral vision, and then vanished. To the unblessed eye, they would have truly and completely gone away. Olem could see the Sprite bouncing through the air, thinking itself invisible as it spun circles around them and mocked their pacing.

“Well, I do have one.” He mused, careful to turn away when the Sprite looked to him.

“What’s on your mind?”

Olem stopped short of the next Mana Ward and looked dead at the invisible Sprite. It was a Bluebell. Perhaps the most clever, or at least, they thought themselves to be the most clever. Redwine Sprites were notorious for being honest and to the point without revealing their intentions. Blackcaps were stereotypically aggressive and caught the worst reactions among the other mortals in Ammon’s Reach. Whitepetals and Greenvine were similar, one gathered amongst big crowds, likening itself to the draw of popularity while the other spent most of its time tucked away in forests or shrubs, hoping for lone hunters of wanderers in the night.

This Bluebell bounced in the air, its fat body held up by perilously tiny wings. From its head protruded three tiny horns, almost like a crown.

“Sprite, I have a deal to offer you.”

It paused still in the air and turned, a look of shock on its minute face.

“Can you see me?” It lowered itself down to his eye level and hovered.

“I can, I know you’re looking to latch on to me, so there, we’re connected. I have a request.”

It rested its chubby chin in a small hand and pondered for a moment before it answered.

“What’s in it for me?”

“Whatever you’d like. Sweets, blood, me.”

The Sprite buzzed loudly and appeared, visible to Orri and Faun.

“I’ll take you up on it, if I agree to the terms of the deal.”

Olem cleared his throat.

“I am looking for my daughter. You’ve likely seen her, or one of your kind has at least. She’s a bit shorter than me, long brown hair. Late teens, had a purse. Was near Blythe Woods picking herbs. She is missing, and so is her best friend. They were taken from a house near Barrenthal Academy. A professor’s house.”

The Sprite raised a finger to the sky. “The fat angry professor?”

Orri cocked an eyebrow.

“I suppose so, yes. He had a daughter?”

The Sprite nodded anxiously. “I know him! He tried to make a deal with my cousin.”

A wave of relief washed over him. Finally, progress.

“Do you know what happened to his daughter and the girl she was with?”

The sprite kept its eyes locked on Olem as it thought back, thirty four days was a long time for the beings to consider. Their presence of physical form does not come with longevity of the mind.

“I think so! I don’t know about the other girl, but the professor’s daughter left the other day.”

“The other day? What do you mean?” Orri interrupted.

The sprite, shocked, turned to face her.

“What are you doing?” Olem asked under his breath.

“I’m a part of this now, old man. You can’t keep me out of it.”

He rolled his eyes and the Sprite clapped excitedly.

“Are you part of the deal?”

She nodded and gestured back to her daughter. “So is she.”

Faun rolled her eyes and stepped forward. Faun was no Lamplighter, but she was powerful in her own way.

The Sprite buzzed and spin wildly in circles, its excitement bubbling out from within.

“I can take you to the body.” It flew in figure eights above their heads.

“Body?”

“Body.” It repeated, and then zipped off up the street.

The group was forced with no choice but to follow.

The Bluebell tried as hard as it could to lose track of them, appearing and disappearing at will, and while it confused Orri and Faun, Olem had his eye on it the whole time. It led them up and down side streets, into alleys and back out of them. Through neighborhoods and shopping squares deserted for the night and came to a stop, finally, at Rustvale Park. Not far from Lantz Ironworks, the park was famous in Ammon’s Reach. It had been the scene of a grisly murder spree. A young woman, tortured by her peers in the gauntlet of sociality, had eventually had a psychotic break at the park after a springtime dance for the youth. Latent psychic prowess had awoken within her and ended with her losing control. When the event was over, she left Rustvale alone in her handmade dress, covered head to toe in blood.

The Bluebell floated over a small drain, and after the group caught up to it, it reappeared before them and sat atop the steel grate.

“Professor’s daughter went down here. I think she’s lost. I heard there’s a big scary monster in the sewers.”

Orri and Olem shared a look. Not as though there wasn’t something in the sewers, but that the Bluebell considered telling them would shy them away from their search any more than if there were a frightening monster in the streets. There was always something big and terrifying in Ammon’s Reach.

Olem wrapped his fingers around the gray and yanked as hard as he could, dislodging it from its mount and revealing an access ladder nailed into the support beams.

“Ladies first.” He gestured.

Orri scoffed and slipped into the drain hole, climbing down into the darkness. Faun followed, careful to avoid crushing her mother’s fingers. Then, after they’d each made it a ways, Olem entered.

“Hey wait, I got you there, where’s my prize?” The Bluebell shouted.

“Of course!” Olem grinned and reached into his pocket for a small metal lantern, barely taller than his forefinger was long. Inside he left a piece of peppermint candy wrapped in a gold foil. “I brought this for you, partial payment up front with the rest on assurance we find my daughter!” He placed the lamp on the street and the Bluebell flew straight into it. As soon as it did he reached down and clamped the panel shut, trapping the Sprite within.

As soon as it realized what happened, it turned around and materialized, banging on the door of the tiny lantern. 

“You tricked me! When Mother hears about this we are going to have a feast!”

It’s muffled voice barely made it out of the lantern as Olem hooked it to his pocket watch and mounted the ladder on his way down.

The descent was much longer than he’d initially expected. The drainage channels emptied out in a nearby cave system and most of them rested only a couple stories below the surface of the city. He’d spent more time down there than he’d like, especially after some of the past cases he’d worked.

Among them, The Figure of Ammon’s Reach was the worst. It was where he’d met Orri when she was much younger, a teenager who hadn’t concerned herself with the depths of the darkness that consumed their town. She was being hunted by a silent, terrifying thing. Once a year for a few years it would return, it wasn’t until recently, after she’d become a mother that the creature had been put down. At least, to the best of their knowledge.

Olem reached the bottom of the ladder after some time and found Orri and Faun waiting for him there. The Sprite continued complaining in the lantern as he hoisted the chain up around him. The blue light cast from within and amplified on the glass gave them a great picture of the tunnels they’d found themselves in.

Carved directly into the ground, the ladder gave way to a complex, churning tunnel system. Likely spanning the whole city another three or four stories beneath the sewers. Here, the tunnels had been carved to fit something larger than him. The walls were coated in a thick, crunchy layer of dried mucous or slime. Regardless of what it was, he didn’t feel fondly about being there longer than he had to.

Orri gestured down the path and they began, making their way through the underground tunnels on the hunt for May and Kardja. Before them, the path split into two and Faun paused at the crossroad. She closed her eyes briefly and pushed onward to the left. Similarly to Olem, she was a Diviner. Another of the blessed who was born with power. Her magic allowed her to predict outcomes, almost as if she could see the future. She sensed which path brought them closer to Mayeli and chose to follow it. Orri had spent much of the girls life teaching her to practice and use it to her favor, all while keeping it a closely guarded secret from the Breaking Sun.

The pathways twisted and turned, looping back onto themselves repeatedly but they followed Faun, sure that she was on the right track. This deep below the surface of the city, things were quiet. Too quiet for Olem’s liking, it was the kind of noiseless place where evil happened. Below the lives of the unsuspecting, deep within rooted cave ways and crypts where the truly dark shadows of Ammon’s Reach dragged themselves out of.

The walk was long and confusing, but eventually, Faun paused and pushed on a flat wall. Ever so gently, she moved the crusted wall of mucus and dirt and revealed it to be a hidden doorway. 

On the other side, the trio found themselves inside of a building, of all places. Here, below the surface, stood what appeared to be a massive cathedral. Similar to the style in which the Cathedral of the Breaking Sun was built, massive pillars supported vaulted ceilings and long worn out windows. The floor was stained with grime and overgrown with roots, but at one point would have been glistening marble. Orri swapped with her daughter and led the group further into the church building, from the foyer they’d entered into they passed into a large meeting hall. Rows and rows of worn out, moldy wooden pews stood in a line untouched by the hands of mortals for untold years. A long, moldy red velvet rug laid in the center aisle and came to a stop at the base of a short stage. Atop the stage rested an altar with a book.

Olem approached warily, despite the protests from the Bluebell. The book upon the altar was unlike any he’d ever seen. First, it was massive. To lift it might have taken two people. It was open to a page written in a language he’d never seen before. Crimson red ink detailed what he guessed to be a recipe of some kind. Familiar symbols had been marked all over the pages of the book, from the various groups in Ammon’s Reach, it looked like footnotes which had been written after the creation of the book. He saw his own Agency’s name scrawled in the margins, along with a few other notable organizations. Each of them sharing a common theme of actively fighting against the spirits and haunts of the city.

“What do you think this could be?” Orri asked, hoisting the back cover of the book over and bringing it to a close. All three of them scrunched their noses when they realized the book itself appeared to be bound in human skin.

“Whatever it is, it should be burned.”

“I don’t know that we will be able to do that.” Faun spoke softly, her high pitched voice barely audible at such a low volume. The Sprite continued to groan in the lantern as they pushed past the gathering hall toward the next room.

They passed through a doorway and found themselves beneath a pair of large marble staircases that led to a second floor. At the far end of the hall, another door remained.

“Should we split up?” Olem asked, looking back at the girls who both fired him deadpan looks.

“Guess not.”

He shrugged and kept moving, ignoring the stairs and passing into the back room.

Once inside, the Bluebell dimmed. The azure light from its body went out as soon as they passed through into the darkness and in the final flickers, Olem was able to make out a stone table. Atop it laid a bundle of cloth and linen.

“What is this place?” Orri whispered, carefully extending her hand.

At the tip of her finger, she created a small ball of white light to replace the Sprite. Olem stowed it in his pocket and took stock of the room. It was large and circular, pillars stood surrounding the room. Upon the altar, there was only the fabric. However, all of the doors remained upon but one. Across from them on the right side of the room, there stood a wooden door with an iron padlock affixed to the handle. 

He nudged Orri who approached it slowly. The lock was no different than the ones used to keep gates closed, or to prevent lockers or chests form being opened. Olem slipped a hairpin from his sleeve and knelt before the lock.

While he began working on picking the door, the girls positioned themselves around him, keeping watch as the clicking noise of the hairpin invaded the silence all around them.

After some time, a loud click echoed in the room and Olem slipped the lock from the door. With a short breath, he grabbed the handle and pulled. Rusted hinges screamed as the door swung open and he reached for his pistol. Orri moved her light into the room and illuminated one nearly identical to the first, however this one was much smaller. It sported a series of doors and pillars, and instead of an altar in the middle, the ground was mounted with two massive iron brackets which each held thick chains.

“What is this place…?” Olem glanced around the room, his finger on the trigger.

“It is my home.” A voice called from the doorway behind them. Olem spun and fired. A dazzling bolt of flame burst from the muzzle of the gun and sent a shard of metal into the body behind them. Shrouded in darkness, the figure stumbled backward a bit and then straightened itself out.

“After all this time, this is how you greet me?”

The figure stepped forward, in a short silken dress, her legs covered in cuts and scrapes, stepped Mayeli. Only enough that the lower half of her face could be seen in the light, she wore a hollow grin upon a cocked head.

“Dear father, I’ve missed you so.”

Olem stared at his baby girl, the one he’d fed and played games with. The one who nearly cost him his sanity, his first child. The little girl he’d taught to read, who then read voraciously until the day she disappeared. The girl who had become his whole world, smiling back at him.

“I’ve missed you too, Mayeli.”

He spread his arms wide to greet her, and his daughter who had become something unlike herself approached in tandem with another, a young woman he’d not seen in many years.

“Kardja…” He muttered, and lowered his arms when she raised the knife.


Mean for the Holidays: Day Three! Thanks for reading chapter two of City of Night!

Nightfall in Brahmir is an episodic fantasy fiction story taking place in the world of Brahmir, where the lines between dead and alive are not simply blurred, they are almost nonexistent. In this place, all manner of horrors plague the denizens from returned corpses, trickster spirits, to killers stalking the daylight. Part One will be four Chapters, each of which follow one of the main characters as they try to work out what happened to Mayeli, and rescue her from the grasp of the strange powers that be within the merchant city, Ammon’s Reach.


If you’re interested, click the links here to check out some previous writing!

One Reply to “City of Night: Missing Person”

  1. […] Part Two: City of Night: Missing Person […]

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