City of Night: The Foreign Hunter

Nightfall in Brahmir: City of Night

Chapter Three – the Foreign Hunter


Part Two: City of Night: Missing Person


The gunshot echoed through the sprawling, interconnected caverns until the unfamiliar crackle of fading flame reached Veinar, alone in the dark with his lantern, a “Mana Ward” they’d called it. The shot was unlike those of the weapons in his home, where he’d come from the firearms were stronger, colder. They launched spirits honest bullets rather than fireballs and clouds of smoke. Despite the difference, he appreciated the power behind the artifice of Brahmir. Give mortals a ticking clock and they are capable of incredible things.

He pulled the hammer of his own weapon, a revolver made in The Workshop. It had been ages since he’d shown his face there. Rarely, he wondered if any of his old kin remembered his face. 

Veinar banished the thought as he moved quietly through the cramped tunnels. The under channels of Ammon’s Reach were as complicated as the city streets, built hastily with the intention of sheltering the townsfolk. Their construction wasn’t only sloppily planned, it was poorly organized. The tunnels which ran through Ammon’s Reach crossed at unusual, unmeasured junctions. Stretches of the sewer channels that tangled above the under channel were poorly sealed, and other lengths of drainage were not angled. The resulting collection of poorly channeled sewage and exposed dirt led to pools in the sewer system which had to be cleaned manually.

Between cleanings, however, the drainage of the sewers leaked into the underchannel and populated what was already a foul-smelling, dank labyrinth of dried blood and rotting animal corpses mixed with the smell of months, if not years-old sewage to assault the senses of anyone willing to wander the chaotic halls.

Veinar was, unfortunately, accustomed to the stench of death, bile and excrement. Before he’d been shot through the gates, he’d been an exterminator of sorts. Not unlike the Lamplighters of Brahmir. He hunted the unnatural, despite how natural they had been to his people. 

In the musty, rotten under channel he felt most at home. With the sound of gunfire, likely belonging to Olem, it brought a sense of nostalgia that carried him through the muck, around each corner, and eventually to a large gathering hall. 

A massive room built from polished rock and dirt hewn into the earth itself stood before him as he passed through a pair of large wooden doors. Within, pillars held the ceiling, painted with imagery he only assumed depicted their mythos. If he’d learned anything in his travels, it was that every world carried their own creation story, and most of them were likely wrong. It appeared as though the worshippers of this well-hidden, grand cathedral mimicked the Breaking Sun in two ways. The architecture of the room reflected that of the Cathedral where Dhurri had gathered them just hours ago. Even down to the insignias sewn onto their banners and bench cloths, everything about the meeting hall was identical to what he’d seen in the cathedral.

The second imitation of the Breaking Sun was in the decorated ceiling. Where Dhurri’s chapel had depicted bright sunlight presiding over golden-haired goddesses and kind chaplains in gilded robes, surrounded by fruits and meats of a myriad variety, the chapel Veinar found himself within was a writing mass unlike where he’d just crawled from. The mural soaked into the stone and dirt above him had been painted on sick plaster, spotted with effigies he’d seen snuck into cabinets and beneath floorboards. The painting itself depicted a series of figures, taking the place of the goddesses which looked down upon the land in the Breaking Sun. Here, beneath the paved and cobbled walkways of Ammon’s Reach, their deities were changed, shifted and depicted in languish. Twisted expressions of sick pleasure wrapped their faces as he stared up at them in the darkness.

Each of the figures upon the mural were wrapped around one another, their own peculiarities a horror its own to behold. One with pale skin, thick cuts in its face still raw, a rusted nail emerged from each of the crossed wounds. Another disfigured and horribly scarred by flames hung, grinning above a burning pyre which looked, no matter how Veinar didn’t want to believe it, to be surrounding a ring of dancing children. Beside him another figure, shrouded in black robes and thick leather clothing wore an elongated mask, hiding their true face behind that of a spirit, stretched and thin. 

He forced himself to look away as his eyes passed over the visage of another, a large man in tan burlap whose face was covered the same, in a thick sheepskin mask, his eyes devoid of emotion, just dark, empty caverns. Veinar scanned the remainder of the mural to see the rest of the reflected painting depicting famine, emaciated families and animals. Storm clouds gathered above the haunting figures and tucked within them, a form took shape.

He shook his head away from the work and moved through the chapel hall, continuing toward the sound of gunfire when he first heard it.

“Oh, good hunter.” 

It was a woman’s voice, young but not a child. In her early adulthood, she spoke as if to entice him. The lilt in her voice and the breath between her words squirmed within his ear.

“It is an honor, to have you here.” The woman continued.

Veinar didn’t bother listening, and pushed onward into the hall of the chapel.

Another gunshot cracked and rang through the carved halls and he turned, adjusting his path toward it with his own weapon in hand. Olem had found something. 

It didn’t take Veinar long to wind his way through the maze toward Olem, he passed through ornate halls and densely decorated meeting rooms until he arrived at the Detective, lying on the earth in what appeared to be an altar room of some kind. Large pillars held up the ceiling and surrounded a stone table, a quarter of his height. Beside the table, he found Olem, lying on the ground with a large gash in his neck. 

The detective took one look at him and fell limp against the table, still breathing but only barely.

“May, you have to get to her.” He choked words through a bloody mouth.

“I won’t be killing your daughter.”

Veinar knew the look on his face, he’d seen it countless times. The fool found his daughter somewhere in this upturned cathedral and expected her to be a prisoner, in need of saving. What he found was entirely the opposite, she had changed for the worse. 

He hoisted Olem over his shoulder and stood.

“We will be leaving, in short order, detective.” 

The Hunter pushed back to where he’d entered and wound his way through the place of unstable worship, and made it to the door before Olem sputtered blood and bile onto the floor. The gash in his neck wasn’t deep, but rarely did they have to be.

Veinar carefully hoisted the man onto a bench and knelt beside him, taking the detective’s hadn’t into his own he silently muttered a prayer.

Not that Veinar believed in anything that would help them, but for a life spent running from or killing the powers that be, he hoped this new world would be kinder, that there might be some new form to fill what he’d expected to be patrons of misery, bloodshed and fear.

The detective wobbled side to side, blood still poured from the wound. 

Veinar slipped a hand into his pocket as panic gripped him, realizing it might be too late for the man. He wrapped his gloved hand around a vial filled with blood, his own blood, but it was something. It was cold to the touch, familiar to him but unalike anything Olem might have experienced here in Ammon’s Reach. The Hunter said another prayer, as if any of the gods were still alive, and screwed the vial into the base of a long needle.

Olem’s eyelids fluttered as he fought the coming darkness, and without waiting any longer for a sign from above, Veinar jammed the needle into Olem’s thigh and pulled the trigger. A light click followed by the hiss of the mechanism pressurizing the tube sent the blood rushing into Olem’s body. At first, the detective didn’t seem to notice, but it wouldn’t be long before the cold and ancient magic coursed through him. 

A practice taught to all in the Workshop, Veinar expected the magic to be useless on Brahmir, as their practices differed so significantly, the methods of procuring Ether had unexpected consequences. Back home, he could harvest the stuff from the very corpses that littered the charnel ways. Here, it was different. Instilled into the living and grown, matured, until the time of their death when it erupted from them, violently, and became a spirit. 

Olem’s eyes fluttered. The cold had touched him, the blood was working through his body now. 

Veinar remained crouched beside the groggy detective for a time, watching him carefully for any sign of adverse reaction to the blood. He could administer it as easily as he could extricate it, though the latter would not leave the subject the same. With each passing second, he watched, needle in hand in case of negative reactions. Olem appeared to be taking the dose well, periodically he would fall into a fit of spasms, but they quickly ended. 

It wasn’t long before the old bastard stirred back to life with a shiver. 

“What did you do to me?” He asked, his eyes blinking quickly.

“Just a bit of assistance, I have no intention of leaving a young girl without a father this evening.” He extended a hand for Olem to grasp and hoisted him to his feet.

“Come, we should get out.”

He took a step, but the man wouldn’t budge.

“Orri is still trapped down here.”

He tugged. “She will be fine.” Veinar sighed. “We must go.”

Olem remained rigid, color returned to his cheeks as he locked eyes with him.

“I will not leave them.”

“You may die, are you willing to risk such a fate?”

The detective pushed him back and turned toward the depths of the cathedral once more. “I would rather risk my life to save theirs than to flee like a coward.”

Veinar rolled his eyes. “You lot, always wanting to get yourselves killed for the greater good.” 

Olem didn’t reply, instead he returned from where they’d come and disappeared into the darkness.

Veinar pushed a deep sigh from within, and raised the Mana Ward to light the path.

“Don’t go far, you brute. I am coming.”

All through the cathedral, the pair ventured. They tracked through every blood stained crack in the floor, hidden doorway to a private alcove and kicked down every locked door, but there was nothing in the place. As they’d moved through it, Veinar kept track of each path out. The sewer drain by which Olem had been led by the Sprite, the charnel lane doorway in which he’d found access, and a third on the opposite end. If he had to guess, it was likely somewhere beneath the Ironworks. It was the only door they’d not tried by the end of the hunt, and Orri was nowhere to be found.

“How long have we been down here?” He asked, the light of the Mana Ward flickered.

“Not long enough, it seems.” Olem knelt, taking what brief respite he could. The Sprite had long ago quieted, and as the pair came to a halt within the chamber which lead to the Ironworks door.

Scratching of rat claws echoed through the walls while they took a moment for themselves. The flicker of the Mana Ward hastened, and before long, it dimmed entirely.

In the darkness, Olem spoke. “What if there is nothing we can do?”

“We can leave, whenever we want.” Veinar fired back into the dark. “We will be of little use suffocating in the darkness, gnawed to death by chapel rats.”

The detective took a long time to respond, allowing the scratching to fill the room.

“Then we should go. The Ironworks will be just above. If they aren’t there, we should return home. We should be gone from here.”

Veinar heard the familiar sound of doubt creep through his partner’s voice. The hopelessness of failure. He set the extinguished Mana Ward on the ground beside him and stood. 

“If you wish to go home, do so. I will continue searching for the girl,” He glanced down in the dark at Olem’s outline, leaned against a pillar. “…and your daughter.”

Without waiting for an answer, he made his way to the door.

The hallway out of the room they’d rested in was less trafficked than the others, cobwebs littered the corners, the corpses of long dead insects still trapped in the entangled webs. 

The cobbled walkway lead to a rusted iron ladder that stretched far above him, spanning into the darkness. From his rear, Olem hobbled to meet him.

“You will not be going without me.” The detective gripped his neck and hoisted himself onto the ladder, climbing slowly by lurching forward with his free hand and clutching the next rung. Veinar waited until the man had made some distance before he followed.

They moved at a crawl, Olem’s banging against the rungs echoed through the caverns below and above, likely drawing unwanted attention. Veinar patted his gun on his hip, and checked the latch which kept his steel cane hung at his opposite hip.

Should something apprehend them on the ladder, they would likely not reach the Ironworks basement.

Olem continued his staggered climb, one rung at a time until he hoisted himself over a short ledge and onto a stone landing, where he knelt to catch his breath.

“Should we have left the undercroft?” He asked, patting his neck as the ministered blood began to work, sewing closed his gash.

“I would rather not wander through the dark caverns hiding Melphas knows what, with no Mana Ward and a single pack of spare silvers.”

Olem grunted as Veinar reached the top of the ladder and passed by him.

The Basement door to the Ironworks, on their side was decorated plainly. A heavy steel door bolted into a stone foundation. It’s rusted handle threatened to crumble at the slightest touch, but Veinar reached for it regardless and pulled to find it unlocked.

He swung the door wide to find the room on the other side, what had previously been a boiler room for the Ironworks when it was still in service had been decorated with gaudy red candles and painted. The stench of the room wafting into their access tunnel confirmed his suspicions that the reddish brown color covering the steel boilers was in fact, blood.

Olem gagged behind him as he stepped into the room and immediately felt a crushing weight land upon his shoulders. From nowhere, as if the air itself threatened to drag him to his knees.

Lantz Ironworks was well known, and after the Night of Knives had become a hot spot for ethereal activity. Lamplighters had been placed on thirty hour shifts to keep Mana Wards in the location lit, to prevent the resurgence of tampering spirits. Though, their protective Wards were located at the Finnberg Schoolhouse, and were the primary target. Residual Ether leaked from the site into Lantz Ironworks and spread like a disease. According to Dhurri, the Ironworks were not the catalyst for the initial event.

Veinar swiped a finger through the slick blood that covered the nearest boiler, still wet as it slipped from his fingertip and splashed against the ground below. His boots sloshed through the standing blood on the ground as it drained from the room into the undercroft where golem still crouched, leaning against a dilapidated wall.

“Where are you?” He called.

Reaching with his Ether, he searched through the room looking to find and manifest the spirit, wherever it was hiding. As soon as he projected into the blood soaked room he felt a force immediately press back at him.

“You are unwelcome.” A lone voice spoke from everywhere in the room at once.

“I am not welcome anywhere.” He joked. “Neither should you be.”

The force pressed against him, shoving at his mind.

He noted it’s strength, and its aggression. Not unlike the eight limbed Pineal Beasts which invaded his home. Powerful psychic manifestations who seemed, according to the Workshop, to desire nothing less than madness to all who called upon them. However, the force within the Boiler Room was not like the Pineal Beasts. It pushed, deep into Veinar’s mind, threatening to overwhelm him. The presence filled him with aggressive feelings he knew were not his own. 

He passed through the room, pushing back against the mental assault as he investigated. The pool of blood rippled with each step. 

“I will feel you.” The voice pressed against his spine, he whipped around to face it drawing his pistol in one smooth motion and pointed the barrel at the row of boilers, only to find nothing.

Olem stood in the doorway out the corner of his eye and looked, taking in the grisly scene. For a moment, the detective gathered himself before he stepped into the room. As soon as he crossed the threshold, he crumpled beneath the weight of the presence.

“Stand back.” Veinar called, swinging his pistol down another aisle of boiler drums. “You should get back.”

Olem obeyed, grunting, as he dragged himself out of the blood and back to the access shaft, his breath heavy with exhaustion.

“What is happening? How can you walk through there so easily?”

“I am used to far worse, friend.” The hunter called back, checking a collection of pipes jutting a few feet away from the wall. “This is a psychic attack, something powerful has been living down her.e”

“Do you think it could be what affected Mayeli?” Olem stood and leaned against the frame of the door, his head wobbling slightly.

“I won’t exclude the possibility.” A shadow moved against the far wall and Veinar pulled the trigger. The silver bullet tore from the barrel and slammed against the stone wall, sending a cloud of dust and shrapnel from the impact.

“Too slow.”

Veinar cocked his gun and watched the shadow which had appareled on the far wall slither between boilers and pipes, across the blood soaked floor and towards the far doorway, all the while the entity within the room pushed against his psyche.

“Not fast enough.” He replied, swinging his arm across the room and pulling the trigger. The barrel burst into flames as another silver bullet screamed across the boiler room and caught the shadow, knocking it down. It’s flat body crumpled into the corner of the wall and the floor.

He approached, cocking his gun for a third time as he made his way to the shadow who groaned, piled on the stoop of a staircase leading out of the boiler room. He aimed his gun and fired a third shot, but the shadow split itself and dodged the bullet which splashed not the blood and sent a scattering of droplets from the impact. The voice giggled while the shadow slithered beneath the crack in the door and into the depths of Lantz Ironworks.

As soon as the shadow was gone from the room, the pressure released within his mind and Veinar gasped.

“It is over, you can come.” He called to Olem, who watched with trepidation at the door frame.

“What is happening? Could this be a new spirit?”

He nodded, then pushed open the door.

Of course, he couldn’t be certain. He’d only been in Brahmir a time, but he’d had some suspicions. The city kept careful documents detailing past events, each new kind of experience they’d had was reported and recorded by the Breaking Sun or the Observatory of Lumis. Not to mention the gathered verbal understanding between the various citizens, street knowledge that helped them keep on their toes and away from spirits. They’d marked places for relative safety with paints and branding. Lantz Ironworks was among the least safe places in Ammon’s Reach, let alone the wider expanse of Brahmir. 

He reached to his side with his free hand and unclipped his walking cane, brandishing it backward in his hand, he gripped the handle unguided himself through the darkness, tapping it gently along the ground before him. Olem followed closely behind, the Sprite he’d captured asleep, and lightless.

The doorway from the boiler room led to a large maintenance hall. Stuffed head to toe with various equipment. Leather aprons, most of which had been oil stained. Broken brooms and rusty saws littered the walls and table spaces alongside old, well worn wrenches. Most curious, was a small dinner plate with fresh cranberry sauce still left there. The aroma from the sweet runnings pierced through the rotten stench of the room. The plate, clearly out of place, sent a warning flare off in Veinar’s mind.

“We are not alone.” He whispered. “Someone is here, not a spirit.”

Olem nodded and produced his own gun, the ministration of blood having cured his wounds completely, he followed behind in lockstep as they swept through the maintenance room and deeper into the Ironworks.

Beyond the next door stood a large factory, snapped conveyor belts piled along the floors beneath a highway of hanging railings rooted to the ceiling with thick chains which looked as if they would crumble to dust at a touch. Massive forges long since decommissioned stood, towering over the rest of the fixtures of the room, their steam vents black endless maws which devoured what little light there was in the room. Above them the glass encased, vaulted ceiling allowed the light of the five moons through, illuminating the production hall in an eerie golden light.

In the center of the room, floated the shadow. A gaunt, flickering thing what stood in place. No doubt watching them as they crept along the room, guns trained on it. The presence in his mind was slight, but it returned. Olem groaned and stumbled. 

“Why have you returned?” He called out at the shadow.

It giggled in the darkness.

“I never left, dear hunter.”

Veinar fired his gun, the explosion echoed through the room, rattling old pipes as the shadow vanished for a split second, then reappeared where it had been standing. The pulsating mass of darkness swelled and thinned in surges until it began to twist, growing at off angles it stretched itself into the shape of a man, then opened its eyes.  Two hollow, transparent slits near the top of it’s face revealed the other side fo the production room. Veinar cocked his gun and fired another bullet. The shadow split it’s head in half and dodged the attack, coming together after the silver pellet slammed against the stone wall.

“I don’t think we’ve been introduced.” The figure whispered into the room.

“I don’t care to learn your name.” Veinar replied, and fired again.

Olem crouched, struggling to fight the pressure within his mind as the shadow began to pace.

“It is a strange feeling, being back. The mages had punished me so thoroughly, I didn’t think I would see the light of day again.”

“Quiet.” 

The shadow paused, feigning shock. “I am appalled you’d speak to the host of the house in such a manner!” It spun to face him, a slit formed where it’s mouth should have been, still transparent.

“You are no host.” Veinar laughed. 

Behind him, Olem fell unconscious. The pressure within Veinar’s own became a throbbing immediately as the shadow began to force it’s way in.

He holstered his empty weapon and gripped the cane in his dominant hand, taking a step toward the shadow and pressing a button hidden beneath the handle. A spring comprised within the cane’s head and the shaft slit, falling into multiple pieces. Each on sharper than the one beside it, all of them connected with a thin silver plated chain. He lowered his arm and dragged the transformed whip across the ground, breaking out into a sprint toward the shadow.

He yanked his arm back and pulled the whip from the floor, swinging his arm wildly down the barbed metal segments tore through the air and spun at the apex, cracking forward and lashing out at the shadow who disappeared into the ground and slipped past the blades of the whip unharmed.

It re-emerged a few feet away, giggling.

“This is my home, hunter. You won’t take me from it.”

He scowled, rearing his arm back a second time.

He swung with the whip and in an instant, the shadow evaporated before him, and Orri’s visage appeared in it’s place. The whip cracked and he struck her in the cheek. Blood poured from it and she began to laugh.

He pulled back, pressing a second button on the handle of the whip that tensed another spring, drawing the segments of the cane back and pulling them together, tight, as the steel chain retracted into the head of the cane. 

Orri put a finger to her cheek. “You cut me?” She began laughing harder, then dug a finger into the thin wound on her face. She pushed her index finger through the cut and into her cheek as her laugh evolved into a cackle. Veinar took a step back as she pinched her cheek between her index and thumb and pulled, the skin of her face tearing like wet paper. She flung the strip she’d peeled from her cheek to her collar bone across the production room and it slapped, wet and sick against the steel grating of a handrail.

“You aren’t Orri.” He whispered, tightening his grip on his cane.

“Correct.” She called back nd peeled another strip of skin from her cheek. “I just wanted you to know whose house this was.”

The ribbon of skin slid from her cheek easily, slipping from her fingertips to fall onto the ground. Immediately, the Lamplighter’s skin began to shed like melting now from an awning, slipping from her bones and piling to the ground in a wet, gory mound. Beneath the skin, the Orri who stood before him was charred, terribly blistered across her face and chest. She began laughing once more as Veinar readied his cane.

“If this is the end, then I won’t go down without a fight.” He thought.

“Yes, you will.” The voice shouted into his mind as shadows burst from the cracks and crevices around them, Orri’s laugh echoed in the darkness as they black spirits surrounded him and before he knew it, the world went black.


Thank you for Enjoying Mean for the Holidays! More is on the way, every day until Christmas Eve!!

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.


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One Reply to “City of Night: The Foreign Hunter”

  1. […] Part Three: City of Night: The Foreign Hunter […]

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