Nightfall in Brahmir: City of Night
Chapter Four – The Lamplighter
Part Three: City of Night: The Foreign Hunter
Orri spit blood onto the chamber floor and locked eyes with the guard, a thin man in a cheap white linen coat and pants, buckled and chanced tight around his bloated body. He looked as if, at some point, he’d been an employee of Whitehall Sanitarium, or, judging by his behavior, perhaps a victim of the place.
“Bright young lady, you’ve shown quite the display.” The man’s jaw cracked as the words spilled from his mouth, sloppy as if he’d just learned them.
A fountain of sparks erupted from her palm and bounced against the stone wall before she fizzled them out. Her wrists ached from the manacles clipped tight against her skin. Despite her thin wrists, the heavy iron rubbed against her skin, scraping it with rough edges.
The manacles were connected to the wall with a pair of thick iron chains, bolted deep into the mortar of the cell in which she’d been kept. After Olem disappeared to pursue his daughter, she’d been captured. She had only been able to follow the detective a short distance before a group of white-coated goons came from the shadows and dragged her back to the depths of the catacomb.
The man clicked his tongue. “It is suspicious, you did not descend here with the hunter.”
She spit on her captor, refusing to speak.
He didn’t seem to mind, and lazily wiped the spittle from his chest with a bare, mottled hand.
“I was told you would all be in the search for the girl, precious Mayeli.”
Orri shoved the Ether from inside of her, like squeezing paste through a tube until it bottlenecked in her wrist and jammed, launching another volley of sparks dazzling from her palm. A fire began to flicker.
The guard didn’t flinch, but continued pacing the cell in a small circle, walking himself through her arrival.
“You work for the Church, and the detective owns the girl, but what about the Hunter? He is new to us.”
She still refused to respond, staring at the man while her fist caught fire.
“You will not burn metal, dear.” He giggled to himself. Then he stepped out of the cell and closed the door. “But just in case.”
She shoved as much as she could, but they’d done something to her. Pushing into her strength didn’t make a difference and, try as she might, her palms only burned for a moment before they were extinguished.
When she was captured, the group who’d come from the darkness and dragged her away was larger. As soon as they passed into a spare room, they’d injected her with a long needle, filling her with some kind of liquid she’d never recognized. She fell asleep almost immediately and awoke in the chains, locked behind a prison cell door. Where she’d been moved, she had no clue.
“I believe that we will be returning soon.” The man waved to someone outside of her view, hidden beyond the stone wall of the cell. He turned on his heel and went to the figure, and left her alone with the gentle pop of footsteps descending away down the hall.
She reclined and laid back, pulling the chains taught as she sat on the ground, her arms suspended still. The tingle from blood loss had begun long ago, and she’d been chained long enough that her fingertips had begun to go numb. The prickling of it maddened her, but she couldn’t burn through the chains. Her guard was right, whether she wanted to admit it to him, or herself, was another matter entirely.
“think.” She whispered to herself, recalling her various tutoring sessions and day training from years before, when she was still a recruit. Despite the guard’s attempts at irritating her, it felt good to be called “young lady” again. She’d not been a young lady in years, even if Olem was still two decades her senior. Spending so much time with even more elder Lamplighters and the dusty old detective had aged her more quickly than she’d realized.
Still, it was nice to be told she was young, despite the circumstances.
She didn’t like to remember her youth.
Orri reclined her head and rested it against the stone wall. With limited access to her magic and no tools to speak of, she was all but bait inside the cell, waiting for the guards to decide she’d fulfilled her purpose. She closed her eyes and hummed a song to herself, a hymn to Vyse, the Goddess of Flame and the saint of the Lamplighters. The familiar words echoed in her mind as she recited each of them to herself and awaited her captor’s return.
She hung there for a few moments and had nearly finished the human when she felt a presence, something staring at her from outside the cell.
She shot her eyes open and searched through the dim prison, to find nothing near her. Yet, she could feel it, something looking into her, searching her soul.
She pushed from the dirty floor and stretched her arms, letting the blood return to her fingertips, which had grown cold with numbness.
“Where are you?” She spat.
No answer came back to her.
She stared, looking through the empty space before her, searching for the spirit, or whatever else it was that had tracked her down, and prayed to Vyse that it was friendly.
Still, she found nothing.
She slumped back to the ground and let her arms hang loose above her as the door at the end of the hall creaked open. Small, quick footsteps made their way down the hall in her direction, and from the other side came a series of rapid light footsteps before the unknown intruder revealed themself to be a Lamplighter, a member of Orri’s own corps.
“Eva, how’d you find me?”
The girl shrugged. “Suppose I’m good at finding what I need.”
The broad-shouldered girl knelt and produced a lockpick from her satchel and quickly got to work on the padlock of the cell.
“You know, this place is crawling with spirits. Do you even know where we are?”
She shrugged. “Couldn’t tell you. They drugged me, my magic isn’t working.”
Eva frowned. Clearly disappointed. “I hope you get that figured out soon, they’ve got the hunter too.”
“Veinar was captured?” She thought to herself as Eva popped the lock and cracked the door slowly. After a short creak from the hinge, she’d widened it enough to slip through and begin working on the manacles that bound Orri.
“Yes, they found ephemeral residues at Lantz, doing the routine scouting. Further investigation revealed the basement had been filled with blood. Judging by the scene, we assumed the worst. Thankfully, the detective managed to leave a trail for us to follow, torn pieces of his journal that traced us back here. When we got to him, he told us you were still missing, so I went to work with Pizzly.”
Eva snapped the first lock and moved to the second.
“So, what’s going on?”
Her partner shrugged, her shoulder-length black hair bobbed.
“Couldn’t tell you. We’re just here for recovery.”
Orri nodded. “Well,” The second manacle snapped and for the first time in what felt like days, she dropped her arms to their sides. Blood rushed back to them and sent a new wave of tingling from her fingertips to her elbows. “Let’s go.”
Eva crept through the cell and out into the hallway with Orri right behind her. The prison she’d been stuck in had been converted recently, half of the rooms bore no gates to enclose prisoners, and those that did seemed to be fresh, the metal hinges still shined on the doors. Most of the tunnel where the prison was located appeared to be freshly carved and unfinished. Elsewhere in the undercroft they’d found support beams and dried clay molded into the shape of the tunnels, but in her prison, outside of the stone room, was exposed dirt and roots.
“Where are we?” She whispered to Eva, who raised a finger to silence her.
“Later,” Her companion whispered.
They crept from the cell to the far door and pulled it open as quietly as the hinges would allow, and stepped out as light from the other side poured into the cave.
“You can’t be serious.” Orri’s voice fell flat into the room, tucked away beneath a rickety wooden staircase, the clock tower bell rang over Ammon’s Reach to remind the townsfolk of the time. Above them, the sun burned down in the late autumn morning, peering through the cracked boards that lined the sides of the bell tower.
“I can be, and I am, and it’s much worse than you think.” Eva slipped her lockpick back into her pouch and leaned against the door opposite them.
It swung open wildly into a room Orri had seen before, a room in which she’d spent hours. The hinges screamed as Eva pushed into the sleeping quarters of the Breaking Sun. She recognized her bed as soon as they’d passed through the frame. Still dressed with the quilt she’d been given when she signed up for the Lamplighters and began her training, a gift from a past detective who’d been there for her as a child. Long before Olem took over.
Beside her own bed, was Eva’s, neatly made as it was each morning, the sheets tucked carefully into the sides and pressed flat against the mattress. Orri looked around the room and back to the rickety old door, tucked away in the corner and half hidden by bookshelves as long as she’d worked with the church.
“What…” She started, but Eva silenced her with a hand.
“There is a lot to explain, and I couldn’t possibly do it here.”
Somewhere within the halls of the church, the sound of sloshing liquid echoed into the bedroom. Followed immediately by a thud. Eva grabbed her hand and pulled her from the secret bell tower door across the room. She turned over her shoulder and whispered.
“Don’t make any noise.”
Orri nodded and followed her friend, many years younger than her and still wise. The girl was cautious, perhaps to a fault. Though no one blamed her, given her sordid history.
Eva led Orri through rooms she’d long been acquainted with, twisting hallways constructed as though they were meant to confuse or deceive, and in truth, they were. Everything about the Breaking Sun chapel was designed to be warded, down to the manner in which the foundation was constructed. Strange curves in the halls and oblong rooms which had rounded corners on one side and sharp, tight corners on the other side. The wooden floors were stained with salt-soaked lacquer and brushed with fire, that the haunted who might find their feet upon the sacred ground would burn.
As they moved through the rooms, Orri caught the sight of one of the younger Lamplighters, an apprentice, being dragged away by his heels, his throat slit.
She held her breath and followed, the tingle of her fingers finally giving way.
From the bedroom they wound through the tight halls and found themselves in the kitchen, where the morning’s pots and pans stood, stacked upon one another higher than she could reach, and sparkling clean. Knives had been set out to dry before their daily polish, and one of them was missing.
She didn’t ask questions as they made their way from the kitchen to the mess hall and out into the greeting rooms. A massive oak door stained with the same lacquer divided the locations, the greeting rooms were a series of interconnected cubicles for parishioners to gather before their monthly meals. At times, they would support the overflow of morning services, especially when the frights who plagued the town were more active than not.
The pair crept past the greeting room and into the hall of confessions, which was constructed in a similar fashion but on a smaller scale, to accept those who felt guilt over the choices they’d made. They could comfortably come to speak with one of the bishops and confess their misgivings in return for a blessing from one of the five goddesses. Connected to the confessional was the entryway. A grand room with a vaulted ceiling and numerous paintings depicting the five goddesses bestowing their gifts upon the people of Brahmir. At one end, stood a pair of wooden doors with stained glass windows which led outside. On the other, was the door to the gathering commons where services were held every weekend morning.
Eva tugged her arm, pulling her toward the front door as another thud echoed through the chapel, this time, in the commons.
“Stop.” Orri whispered, puling her arm away as she craned her neck to peek within the great hall and investigate the sound.
As she did, she noticed another Lamplighter being dragged away into obscurity, an older man who she’d personally recruited after the untimely death of his wife at the hands of a vengeful Wraith. He’d become somewhat of a safety net for her, regularly using the kitchen to bake fresh banana bread for her. His lifeless eyes stared at her, upside down, as he slid along the wood floor.
Orri clenched her fist and stood, moving her gaze to the killer, whoever had slain the man, and as her eyes met his, her heart skipped.
She did not meet pupils staring back at her, instead, she stared into two hollow, black, empty pits where his eyes should have been. Instead, they were shrouded in darkness, obscured by a raw leather mask he wore, covered in scrapes and cuts and faded to a pale greenish white. The crown of the mask had been sewn with horsetail hair to provoke a mockery of a full head of hair, and he wore a long blue coat, beaten and well worn. It was ripped along one side, and the rip was Orri’s fault. She stared into the black eyes of the man who stared back, his head tilted to one side if ever so slightly.
Then, he dropped the body.
Eva grabbed her arm once more and yanked it back.
“Orri let’s go!” Her friend pulled on her and dragged her shaking legs away from the gathering hall as the man approached, one step at a time, a large butcher’s knife in his hand.
Orri could feel his stare probing her, longing for her. She closed her eyes and turned, following Eva’s guide by clinging to her arm as the pair ran through the front doors and out, into the daylight.
They ran from the Breaking Sun Chapel and stopped only when they arrived at the Barrenthal Academy grounds. Both of them doubled over, panting as students wandered to and from classes, eyeing them as if they were more unusual than anything else that walked the streets of Ammon’s Reach. The student’s cocked eyebrows and whispers to one another would have, at any other time, irritated her, but Orri wasn’t concerned with anything other than the man in the mask.
“Eva, what is going on? We bound him.” She gasped for air.
Her friend shook her head. “Something is changing, something is happening in the city. That girl you went to find with Olem and Veinar, she’s a part of it. Orri, everything we’ve done is coming unravelled.”
Her mind spun, the motionless mask staring at her above the body of her companion burned into her mind.
“Why do you mean?”
Eva sucked in a deep breath and checked over her shoulders as a pair of young men passed them by, each of them wearing strange face paint, white with red lines down their cheeks. When they were safely out of earshot she spoke with hushed breath.
“The bindings we’ve put on everything we’ve captured, it’s breaking. The Church is crumbling, Orri. Dhurri isn’t,” Her voice broke as the weight of her words caught up with her. “Dhurri is not our ally. I think he orchestrated all of this.”
She shook her head. “Archbishop Dhurri? The man who donated every point of his salary to the impoverished? The man who gave up his family mansion so that the city could build another hospital?” She scoffed. “The man who personally rebuilt Whitehall when it burned down after the incident with Torrins?”
Eva nodded, a grim look about her.
“It’s all coming apart, and I don’t have the answers. There are only a few of us left. You and I are all I really know. I was able to find you thanks to the first few who were attacked. We managed to overcome some of the spirits, but the Breaking Sun is failing. Vyse and Illumier are failing us, Orri.”
She straightened her back and shook her head. “No. They aren’t.”
Eva crouched and fell back onto the ledge of the fountain they’d stopped beside as the Academy bells rang, signaling the students to get to class.
“Whatever is out there, is way bigger than us.”
Eva paused, as if she were going to say more, but allowed something to interrupt her. Behind Orri, a voice called out.
Orri whipped around and saw, a few feet away, a hooded figure standing beneath the gates of the plaza entryway, shrouded in a large cloak. His face was covered by a mask, clay, painted white and formed in the shape of a ghost. Or rather, what a child might think a ghost to look like. He waved with one hand, and brandished a long, shining knife in the other. Beside him laid a student, three stab wounds marred her back.
“Eva, go.” She whispered, and her friend wasted no time.
Both of them bolted from the fountain as the man began chasing them. Whatever students had been in the plaza grounds between classes had gone, and left the area vacant. She sprinted, following her friend who leapt over hedge bushes and ducked into the main hall of the Academy, her breath quickening.
“See? He should be gone.” She panted. They glanced out the door to see him running, knife raised in the air, toward the door.
“Take a breath, we’ve done this before.” Orri tried to reassure her.
Eva shook her head. “Not like this.”
She pushed herself off of the wall and ran toward a double staircase to the second floor, and Orri followed. Before they turned the corner to ascend to the next floor, she glanced over her back to see how far they would make it before the figure arrived.
He was no longer there.
She clenched her jaw and climbed the stairs behind her friend.
“Eva, how did this happen? Linde was contained years ago. We haven’t seen her since you were still at the Academy.”
Eva didn’t reply until they reached the top of the staircase. She ducked into a vacant room and latched the door behind them.
“I don’t know. The other night, just before solstice, Dhurri mentioned the arrival of something. He refused to explain it.”
“So? The warding must have failed.” She fired back, pacing the classroom.
“What warding? If Dhurri was behind all of this, how are we even sure the Chapel was warded in the first place? Besides, did you realize that the undercroft was connected to us this whole time? To our bedrooms.”
Eva sat at a desk and dropped her head to her hands. “I don’t know what’s going on, barely more than you do. “
“Tell me everything.” Orri whipped around to face her friend and slid a chair from a nearby desk. “Don’t leave out any details. If Linde is out, and Sinder is out, that means there’s a chance that all of them are.”
Eva nodded. “I’ve seen Lilliford already today. The Patrol mentioned activity at Lantz Ironworks when they returned, before all hell broke loose.”
“When did it start?” Orri leaned forward, bracing herself on her knees.
“Last night, a few hours after you and the others went to find Mayeli Kane.” Eva gulped a breath. “I came back from patrol at High-rise, checking on Styne Manor. Things seemed fine there, but I don’t know anymore. I didn’t go inside. When I got back, the Flourmill Patrol mentioned Lantz Ironworks was active. They found blood pooled in strange places, a few of them mentioned feeling sleepy as soon as they entered the area.”
“Lantz isn’t the center of Korrigan’s activity. Why would it affect them there?”
She shrugged. “It was the site of the event. I don’t know.”
Orri paused, putting the pieces together as quickly as she could.
“You saw Liliford?” She asked, leaning against the back of the chair and running her hands through her hair, pulling it tight.
“I did. At the markets, I didn’t think it was him, but I couldn’t forget those eyes.”
Eva hadn’t been a member of the Lamplighters when Liliford was captured, but in training for active duty, she’d struggled with getting through his case files. Almost as much as the other recruits struggled with Korrigan’s case. None of them knew the depths of the things they hunted.
“Who can we go to?” She looked up to Eva, who’d closed her eyes and begun taking deep, slow breaths.
After a moment, her friend replied. “I don’t know. The Amgrange couple might be helpful, but I couldn’t tell you.”
She rolled her eyes. Felicity Amgrange and her husband Jona were prolific town psychics, but she could never parse whether or not they were truly psychics. Given that Felicity was the only one who claimed to have the power, it seemed to manifest at the exact right time, every time. For all of the training she and other Lamplighters had undergone, the powers rarely worked so well with any of them.
Jona Amgrange, on the other hand, was a professor at the Academy. His teachings on the workings of the ethereal and the behaviors of the supernatural were well regarded, despite his complicated public persona. Much to their dismay, the Breaking Sun often called upon them for assistance due to their relationship with the public. A devoted couple, their existence was nothing short of divisive to the community. The townsfolk either hated them, or adored them. There was no in between.
“Where are they?” Orri sucked a faint breath in as footsteps echoed down the hall outside. “Packing some new piece of artifice into their museum of terrors?” She whispered.
Eva shook her head. “They reported to us a few days ago, they are investigating the Orda House.”
Orri gritted her teeth. “Orda House?”
The footsteps drew closer to them, slowing as they approached the classroom door.
Eva whispered. “A new case. We didn’t have time for it with the disappearance. Evidently a wealthy man left his estranged son his estate. A local psychic claims there is some kind of presence there, but we didn’t have time to investigate. They offered, given that it was such a simple endeavor.”
The footsteps stopped at the door, and neither of the women uttered a sound. They turned to watch as the handle twisted and jiggled, but the door didn’t budge. It jiggled more, shaking the entire frame as the potential intruder grew frustrated.
“I know you’re in there Eva!” The voice of the masked predator called in, as scratchy as it had been last time Orri heard it. “Let me in there and take out your insides.”
Eva swallowed hard and stood to face the door.
“What is your plan?” Orri asked.
“I’m going to make sure she stays dead, this time.”
Of all the Powers, Evangeline’s was unusual. It only manifested half the time and when it didn’t, she was often left embarrassed. When it did, it worked wonders. Gifted like many of the townsfolk, Eva reached into her soul and manifested it, embodying her courage into a weapon. From her chest, she pulled a gleaming golden rapier and raised it toward the door.
The light from the blade was almost too bright to look at directly, and it only blazed brighter when she held it up. She’d rarely sued the Powers for such destructive purposes, preferring to call upon it to manifest understanding. A “Conversion of Purpose” their teacher, Eomin, taught them. The Powers were fickle, and didn’t take well to being understood, but they had helped the Lamplighters out of a pinch more than once.
Orri called upon the Powers within herself and, just as she’d tried in the prison, summoned fire into the palm of her hand as she approached the door.
With both hands raised, she waited while Eva slowly turned the lock, freeing the door, and as soon as she did, the jiggling stopped.
They both waited. Linde, as they’d called her, was malevolent beyond a shadow of a doubt, but she was also compulsive. Erratic in her actions, and afraid of being caught and needed to exercise a change of plan. She was a meticulous horror, similar to Sinder and different in almost every way.
Linde, more than anything, wanted those she terrorized to know they were being terrorized, but she wanted it to become known in a specific way. A way of her own design. More often than not, when she’d originally tormented Eva, all the way back when she was a teenager in tertiary school, Linde had manipulated the scenario such that Eva would have been the only one left alive, that is, if it wasn’t for the folks she’d surrounded herself with who saved her.
Of course, Orri remembered as Eva put her free hand on the door and yanked it open. She was rarely in need of saving.
The other Lamplighter thrust the golden rapier into the space beyond the door and gasped, dematerializing it immediately. She leaned forward and placed her hands on the chest of the student she’d stabbed.
“I’m so sorry.” She muttered as he stumbled back, shocked.
“What is the meaning of this?” He scowled.
Thankfully, the Lamplighter’s magic couldn’t harm mortals. It was designed specifically for the capture or damage to ethereal beings.
“We are here on Lamplighter business, no need to be alarmed, get to class.”
The kid scoffed at them and stepped past the door, pretending Eva might stab him a second time before he descended the stairs and called out to his friends.
“She’s doing it again.”
Orri nodded. “Let’s leave, and give her a chance to follow us then. She hates killing too far away from the campus. If we can keep her occupied, no one here has to die.”
Her friend nodded and peeled out of the classroom, back down the stairs and out to the plaza. Both of them checked over their shoulders as they moved, knowing Linde well enough to know she’d run as soon as the student had entered the hall.
She would be waiting.
“Should we go to Orda?” Eva asked, finally running out of ideas.
“Suppose we don’t have a chance.”
Both of the girls made their way off of the campus and prayed, deep down, that Linde was watching.
Had the Orda House not been under investigation by the Amgranges for supposedly being a site of ethereal presence, and had not been located so far out of the center of town, Orri thought when she’d seen it that it would have been a marvelous place to live.
The massive mansion was constructed with a macabre uniqueness to it. Massive black marble pillars embraced floor to ceiling windows which stood in for the walls of the house. The roof was not unlike the siding, with large triangular glass panels fitted into a mesh network of metal bars. From the outside, the entirety of the inner workings of the house could be seen from the street. The glass itself had been marked with sigils painted in a shimmering white ink, some of which were protective wards used by the Lamplighters and the Breaking Sun. Others, confusing and ambiguous runes Orri hadn’t seen in her time as a Lamplighter.
The pair approached the door, grateful but surprised they’d not had another encounter with Linde on the way out of the Academy. Eva stepped to the front door and lifted the metal knocker. The bang from the heavy metal fox adorning the front door seemed to shake the entire house, and before long a well-built woman emerged from the depths of the house.
Her face affixed with glasses and her wiry, greying hair tied into a tight bun, she opened the door with a big smile.
“Ah, Evangeline, it is so good to see you!” She embraced Eva with a tight hug, which the Lamplighter only returned halfway.
“What brings you out here? I thought the Lamplighters were too busy to investigate this old house?”
She motioned for them to step inside, and they obeyed.
Inside the Orda House, the runes painted on the outer panels had become all but invisible. The workings of the house were eclectic at best, outright nonsensical at worst.
Felicity called for her husband, who was working on something deep within the house and invited the women to the guest room. As they made their way through the winding corridors, Orri was reminded immediately of the chapel. In a manner reflected by the Breaking Sun, Orda House was constructed to be as confusing as it was beautiful. It featured rooms which seemed to be cut off, incomplete in their design. Hallways ended abruptly and disappeared in the glass walls, obscuring what might be on the other side. The glass panels within the house which divided the rooms and halls were somewhat reflective, and shone with a strange quality.
Felicity led them to the guest room, where Jona met them with a cup of tea for everyone. They sat, expectantly, waiting for the women to explain their sudden arrival.
“Well,” Eva began. “It isn’t official Lamplighter business that we are here on.” She chuckled, showing a constant nerve that came up when she’d interacted with Felicity in the past. Eva’s mind worked over time and it spoiled her in most cases, until she came into contact with a psychic, even one who had been self-proclaimed and refused the Trials of Proof to validate her Power.
“Well, I can’t imagine you came just for a chat, given how eager Bishop Dhurri was last we spoke.”
Orri interrupted Eva, hoping to ease her friend’s tension.
“It is more personal, that we are coming to you.” She took a breath and thought out her question, in case Felicity had already begun searching through their minds.
“I see that both of you are deeply troubled. What is the matter?”
Orri nodded. “It is about the Breaking Sun itself, and the Lamplighters, and we fear, Ammon’s Reach as a whole. Maybe even the rest of Brahmir.”
Felicity tensed her lips.
“Bishop Dhurri mentioned to us a few days ago that there were seals breaking in the city. Phantoms we’d locked away began reappearing, and I’m not talking about the small time haunts either. Some of our toughest captures are working their way out.” She stopped herself. “I don’t mean to alarm you.”
Felicity flashed a quick smile. “My dear, this is about Sinder’s return, isn’t it? It is past his time, but you are troubled. I can feel it within you.”
She nodded and Eva picked up where she left off.
“It isn’t just Sinder. Liliford, Linde and who knows who else has come back? We’ve just gotten away from Linde, as a matter of fact. But, it gets worse.”
Jona nodded, gripping his tea with a tight hand.
“Dhurri has disappeared. We can’t find him anywhere. Sinder broke into the Breaking Sun, I don’t know how many, but Lamplighters are dead. We are the only two I’ve seen since it happened.”
“Oh dear,” Felicity set her cup on the glass table beside the sofa. “This isn’t good. Who else have you told?”
“No one.” Orri spoke up. “We came to you, because we didn’t know who else to go to. The Breaking Sun is overrun by spirits.”
“The Breaking Sun is warded, it is protected from such things, isn’t it?”
Neither of the women replied.
“Oh,” Jona set his cup beside his wife’s. “So, if this is the case, what can we do?”
“That’s why we came to you. If we knew the root cause of it, Eva and I could try and put a stop to it.”
The couple shared a look, and then Felicity took a deep breath.
“I have been feeling something for just over a month now. There are strange things afoot. A presence I’ve not felt has been growing. I think,” She paused. “I think it’s important that the two of you see what we’ve found in Orda.”
She stood and stepped out of the room, the rest of them followed as she led them through another series of confusing, tangled hallways. At the end of their walk, she paused before a heavy metal door painted with more symbols Orri didn’t recognize.
“What is this?”
Felicity swallowed hard. “This is the basement, and the reason for our interest in the property at large.”
She pulled on the heavy metal handle and the door swung open as if on a pulley. Felicity gestured for them to descend and they obeyed, pensively.
With each step, Orri took care to move slowly as to not break the glass, until they arrived at the basement. The staircase emptied into a long hallway, which ended in a carefully constructed metal arch to a large room. Within the room, they found thirteen metal obelisks, standing in a ring around a plinth which had been bolted to the floor.
“The previous owner of the house, Harmon Orda, was an occult scholar. In gifting the house to his son, who reached out to you, he extended a kind of gift to the new owners. You see, this house is similar to the Breaking Sun. Everything from its macabre design down to its glass walls, is part of a spell. We didn’t understand it at first, but with some time and some digging, and a lot of help from the Academy Librarians, we were able to piece it together. You see, these thirteen obelisks are containment devices. Similar to those which you employ at the Breaking Sun.”
She ran her fingers over one, gently tracing the outline of a carved word on the top of one. It read “The Princess.”
“Harmon believed he could rid Ammon’s Reach, and potentially the rest of the world, of their malicious entities with this ritual, but magic on this level requires a great deal of work, and it asks for no small toll.”
Jona picked up where she left off, circling to another Obelisk with the title “The Bulwark”.
“Harmon Orda planned to enact this spell, which, according to his notes, he found on a dig site to the south. Far to the south. This spell, as he transcribed, would be capable of providing a sort of shelter to an area. Malfeasence would be restricted from crossing the boundary, and from what we’ve gathered, before his death, he’d planned to use it to expel the evils from Ammon’s Reach alongside the Breaking Sun and then perform the ritual and protect the city that the mortals here might be able to sleep peacefully.”
“Unfortunately,” Felicity took over. “He passed before he could complete such actions, as it required much of him. These Obselisks contain twelve powerful souls, each of whom cater to a specific ingredient. Among the souls contained within these Obelisks, twelve are perfect matches. Each of them align ideally with what the ritual calls for. However, upon arriving and looking into this ritual, we realized what Harmon needed to do to accomplish this.”
Orri watched the pair circle the obelisks as they concluded their speech.
“Harmon had to kill each and every one of these souls himself, with a one of a kind dagger, made of glass. The same glass which constructed this house, in fact. He neared the completion, for what it was worth, but when the time came to surrender the final soul, it called for something he could not bring himself to do.”
Eva, leaning against the wall, picked at her cuticles.
“What was that?”
“Well,” Jona spoke slowly. “The final soul is the soul of The Lovers. He was asked to kill the one he loved most in the world.”
“And he couldn’t bring himself to do it, right?” Orri finished, letting out a deep sigh.
“No, because she was already dead.” Jona tapped on the thirteenth Obelisk, which did not have a title etched into it. “All Harmon had left was his son, who had abandoned him thanks to serial absence in his life. He was unable to complete the ritual, because the thing he loved more than anything in this world was himself.”
The Lamplighters shared a look. “Then it should have been completed, right?”
“Well,” Felicity smirked. “He was unable to go through with it, not for lack of trying, either. We found all kinds of tools one might use to accomplish such a task, but ultimately, he was killed by a shade who had found him on a dark night, and drained the life from his body. He had no one else to bequeath this grand piece of magic to, but his only son, who doesn’t want it.”
Orri cracked her knuckles. “This is a touching story, to be clear, but I don’t see how it has anything to do with our current predicament.”
Felicity and Jona shared another look and grinned at her. “We believe the spell can still be completed. However, we can’t expel the evils of the city, so we must trap them within. I’ve felt the coming tide of darkness stir below us, dears. It will not forgive Ammon’s Reach for what we have done to its children.”
The Lamplighters shared a glance as the psychic continued. “In short, we must trap the evil here before it grows any further.”
Orri opened her mouth to respond, but the words failed her as she watched Jona Amgrange slip a long glass knife from the depths of his vest and hold it to his wife’s throat.
“So, we have decided to do it now. Before things get any more out of hand.”
Eva launched off of the wall, the golden light from her rapier materializing in her hand, but as she lunged and stabbed at Jona, it passed through him effortlessly. The light faded, and Orri approached.
“Stop, Orri.” Felicity whispered. “This must be done, for the Breaking Sun, For Ammon’s Reach, for Brahmir.”
As she ignited her fists, Jona slid the glass blade across Felicity’s throat, and blood poured from the wound onto the plinth in the center of the room.
“No!” Eva shouted, shoving him back. Jona tumbled to the floor, dropping the knife onto the brickwork. The tip cracked as it made contact, and the crack flourished, shattering the blade into slivers of glass as Felicity wrapped her arms around the altar and poured her blood into the trough carved into it.
Orri rushed to her side, extinguishing the flame, but as she knelt beside the psychic, a dull hum awoke within the basement, and the walls began to move.
The glass panes spun and shifted, sliding across the floor and swinging wildly as the basement reconfigured itself into a new shape, a new pattern of warding. Felicity fell from the plinth, and what little blood still leaked from her throat spilled onto the bricks beside the shattered knife as the staircase they had descended, flooded in upon itself and became, too, a wall covered with intricate runes and markings.
From the plinth, a metal object emerged through the pool of Felicity’s blood, a metallic sphere surrounded by concentric metal rings affixed with small crystals. The contraption began to whir, and Orri felt a sudden pulse of energy pass through her. The thirteenth obelisk began to glow, and a name appeared in the blank space.
“Felicity Amgrange, The Lover”
Jona stood carefully and looked upon the room as it warped and changed, locking the three of them within it as the runes carved into each of the obelisks began to glow.
“It’s working!“ He shouted, looking around the room with an expression of glee.
Eva approached, and shoved her fist into his neck, toppling him to the ground in a fit of coughing as the glowing obelisks dimmed, and love each of them appeared a spirit.
The faces of the spirits mangled and broken, reflecting the nature of their death, rose one at a time from the center of their appointed obelisk and they opened their mouths in unison, including Felicity Amgrange.
Orri stared in awe at them, as the spirits began to sing.
I hope you enjoyed the final chapter of “The City of Night” Part One! We begin part two tomorrow! Make sure to follow on Facebook to get the fastest updates!
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.
Ooh this is intriguing
Thank you! If you enjoyed it, definitely check out parts 1-3!
[…] City of Night, Part Four: City of Night: the Lamplighter […]