Nightfall in Brahmir: Bloodfall
Chapter Two – Worlds Away
Part Three, Chapter One: Bloodfall: Fox & Lamb
It had been some time since she’d been back in the field. The rush of the hunt against the threat of being hunted. The strict order and demand for safety ultimately was what talked Ella into leaving the Lamplighters, among other things.
Marching through the streets alongside Veinar, another traveller from distant lands, renewed her purpose. It was unfortunate for him to one day learn there were no gates out of Brahmir. However he’d made his way there would do him no good on a return trip. Perhaps the goddesses had done so intentionally.
If the Breaking Sun, or hell, the Seals found out about the worlds beyond their own they would no doubt seek to get out, to spread their sick influence to the worlds beyond. Perhaps they would one day, but she prayed she would be long dead before she saw it.
It was a good thing their kind lived long lives.
“So, what do you think of all of this?” Veiner asked, cradling his pistol as they swept through Moonside on their way to High-rise, following the swathe of mindless citizens, following the lead of someone at the other end of the puppet strings.
The hunter was a peculiar breed, even among the other Gate Hoppers. He was collected and calm, and in all of his time on Brahmir he rarely asked questions, when others had arrived and came to know the place on the level either of them had, their mental faculties crumbled. Most of them trying to jump out and go somewhere nicer, perhaps with a beach, or servants, or somewhere not covered in the memories of the dead infested with boiling maggots at mold festering at the corners of the houses.
“It’s strange, for us, to be sure.” She checked her gun for the third time since they’d split from the rest of the group. No matter how long she used it, she was always afraid it would jam at the wrong time. “Brahmir has always been a dump, but there’s an appeal about it.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “What kind of appeal?”
She emptied the barrel and reloaded it, ensuring the barrel was free of obstructions.
“The kind that prevent you from going home.”
Veiner nodded, understanding.
“At least my home is worse than here.”
Ella couldn’t help but laugh. She knew the feeling. Though, it took her a long time to get used to the technology.
They exited a neighborhood and found themselves standing at the entrance to the High-rise District, Styne Manor atop the far hill with windows glowing red, the sounds of squealing echoed through the streets.
“Why did they choose to build their most desirable neighborhood next to a house filled with demons?” Veinar joked, passing through the gate.
Ella followed, readying her weapon. “What isn’t full of demons here?”
Before them a few feet walked the tail end of the procession, much smaller than those who went to Whitewall, this one followed the path leading up to the doorway of Styne Manor, and the pair of hunters followed.
The nearer to the group they drew, the less small conversations they kept, until they reached the back of the group and dragged away two of the figures. With quick strikes to their heads, the citizens fell unconscious. They stowed the bodies around the corner, behind a narrow alley and returned dressed in the pristine white garb, joining the rest of the congregation at the drive of Styne Manor.
The sound of squealing pigs much louder there, a voice spoke over it louder still.
“Today marks the beginning.” It croaked, like it hadn’t spoken in centuries and still shook the dust from its lungs. “We are the rightful owners of this land, and the Pact of the Firstborn returns. Reinvigorated by the blood of our kin, our centuries waiting brings us this, the culmination of our efforts.”
Ella stood on the balls of her feet, peering over the crowd to see the speaker, a tall, gaunt man with a bald head and ears like sharpened knives, beside him stood another man with horribly burned skin, his fingertips split open and sewn closed with knives. A distinct fury encased behind yellow discolored eyes.
To his other side stood a pair, one of them covered in hair with a face like a wolf. Hunched over a smaller, slime covered beast who looked as though he’d just emerged from the depths of Diamond Vale.
“I only recognize one of them.” Her eyes moved over the walking, burn covered corpse of Korrigan. “The others are old, perhaps older than Ammon’s Reach itself.
Veinar pulled the hammer on his pistol. “They’ll die the same as Sorvane did.”
She grinned, putting a hand on the rifle stowed beneath her cloak.
The figure continued, speaking through his long, immaculately sharp teeth.
“The Pact of the Firstborn dawns soon, my children. When it does, you will awaken to your true forms, in sanguine beauty the likes of which has not been known to Brahmir since last I walked this land.” He cast his arms wide, making a show of his speech to the host of emotionless followers gathered around him.
Veinar ducked, and pushed his way into the crowd.
Ella remained where she was, with the advantage of being able to strike from afar, she waited for the hunter to make his way to the front as the fanged man paced back and forth before the congregation.
“What comes next, my new family, will fill your hearts with joy. The girl taken by Kardja months ago was of pure blood, a child of the night. Her sacrifice will offer up a new life to each and all of you as the soul of Brahmir, our eternal father, returns.”
He looked to the overcast sky as it began to turn red, above them all a seam emerged, splitting from one end of the horizon to the other, and a massive red eye opened far above them. From its pupil emerged a burning, crimson light that passed over the congregation, just between Ella and Veinar as the people began to writhe and scream in unison.
Faces she recognized, people she’d grown up with since her arrival, people she cared for at the mercy, people she loved began to change through painful screams.
As the light touched them, the congregation curled and writhed, and from beneath their pristine white cloaks she saw their flesh churn and writhe as if it wanted to escape their very bodies.
Moments later, it did.
Bursting from one nearby her, a long strap of tendon tore down his ribs, tearing out of his flesh and through his robes followed immediately by a bone that grew from somewhere deep within him, and was soon wrapped with muscles into the form of a long gangly arm that stretched and braced itself against the earth.
Others among them grew sudden, violent transformations. A myriad of them in most of the people, growing teeth that lined their spines while new mouths and eyes ruptured their flesh and emerged to chew the air from their skulls and stare behind them from the crooks of their armpits. Some grew razor sharp spines wrapped in wart covered flesh.
“Good news, family.” The fanged man announced. “It seems like we are not alone here this day.”
Ella watched in horror as the previously mindless obedient congregation turned, mutated, to see her standing amongst them.
She reached for her gun.
A hail of bullets later, Ella dodged through whipping tentacles and crashing claws as she fired over and over into the crowd. Spent shells sprinkled the stonework along the Styne drive as she ducked and leapt out of the way of a hail of strikes. Somewhere ahead of her, closer to the Sealed, Veinar fought for his life the same.
She whipped around, planting the muzzle of her gun against an elderly woman, once a kind and cheerful friend to the Mercy, who was seen often with hand woven baskets filled with hand made sweets for the sick children.
Ella pulled the trigger.
What was left of the woman stained the drive, and a tear slipped from her eye.
“Whoever she was, she isn’t anymore.” She whispered, swinging her barrel around to face another mangled member of the congregation who approached, with two long limbs caped with razor sharp bones.
She fired twice and he fell, twitching, onto the stone.
Gunshots from ahead echoed into the night as Veinar fought. Splatters of blood flew from the crowd and landed on the ground behind the group and Ella ducked the bite of a long, many toothed jaw, jamming the butt of her rifle into it and dashing out of the group.
“It is a shame, really, that they were not touched by the light of the Worldsoul. To have them among us would be a profound treasure.” The fanged creature stood in line with its companions, watching the bloodshed.
Ella dropped the clip from her rifle and slammed a second in as the metallic crack of Veinar’s whip echoed into the air.
She lined up a shot and fired six bullets, half of her clip, dropping twenty or more of the congregation before she spun, aiming at the fangs on their leader, the gleaming white spikes protruding from his lip glinted in the glowing red light of their new sun.
She fired, sending a bullet crashing into him.
The smoke had barely cleared before he stumbled back, the vampire fallen onto the ground and screaming. His companions looked down at him briefly before they turned to face her.
“Only one chance to live.” She muttered, pulling the slide back and racking another shell into the barrel.
She aimed down at Korrigan and fired. The bullet screamed across the congregation and into Styne Manor, the demon vanishing into mist and reappearing as the bullet passed through the smoke where he had been standing.
“Only one way to die.” She finished the mantra from her life, her old life. Before she’d known Brahmir. When she’d bene hunted for days on end and pit against something she didn’t know how to kill, before she jumped Gates and found herself there, trapped in a never ending cycle of disaster and pain.
She fired again, this time aiming to the side of the demon who vanished again and reappeared, a few inches to the side, unable to reoccupy the space in which he’d just left the bullet slammed into his shoulder and sent him down to the ground, screaming in pain.
The vampire returned to his place with a bloody, broken fanged grin as the few remaining members of the congregation swarmed Veinar and trapped him with their limbs. Ella watched in horror as one reared back with a scaled jaw and bit down on the hunter’s body. His scream frozen in the air.
Ella spun and fired her last four shots into the crowd which began to pile on him. She dropped another clip and reloaded, pulling the slide and hammering it back into place over and over she emptied two more clips into the pile, until nothing else stood.
As the last body fell, she saw Veinar, the hunter from distant lands lying in a pool of his own blood. His pistol kicked far from his hand in the commotion, and a massive tear across his gut.
She sprinted forward, taking aim at the wolf-man and firing as he approached. He fell back, and then stood, struggling. Korrigan as well returned to standing as the vampire looked on in horror.
“Come, friends.” He spoke with a lisp, thanks to the hole bored through his face.
He led the remaining Seals into Styne Manor, away from the commotion as Ella knelt beside Veinar.
“Tough day.” He joked, coughing blood.
“Don’t.” She whispered, dropping her rifle on the ground and searching through her waist bag for bandage.
She ripped it out and began circling what of the wound she could, trying hopelessly to halt the bleeding as Veinar’s cough grew worse.
“Ella, stop.” He put a minced hand on hers. “Go finish what we started. We were sent to kill them. So do it.”
She stared down at him, praying, for the first time since she’d left the Breaking Sun.
“Vyse, Mother of Flames…” She closed her eyes despite Veinar’s struggled protest. “If you are still here, if you still care, now is the time to return.”
She opened her eyes, interrupting her own prayer when Veinar quieted, his complaints silenced, and she stared until she was sure she saw it.
He no longer drew breath.
Ella took her gun from the street and drew it to her shoulder, her eyes set on Styne Manor.
She climbed the stairs to the manor door and kicked the door open. It slammed into the peeling wallpaper, the doorknob wedged itself between two slats as she pushed her way inside, fire burning in her heart.
She’d hardly known Veinar, but she could feel the same light within him that had long ago burned out within her. To see other worlds, to experience that which was beyond anything you could have dreamed, and for it to be snuffed out in an instant.
It was not worth the long life, or the power any of them claimed.
She passed through the den and living quarters, whipping her barrel toward any shadow that so much as shifted. The squealing came to a quiet as soon as she’d entered, and from below, she heard the shudder of voices.
She shot the deadbolt off the door and entered the stairwell down, a sick red light pouring across the basement floor where she saw Korrigan and the wolf lying in pain beside the pool of blood, which had also been unsealed.
She stepped onto the landing and eyed them, both of which remained silent at her presence.
“How do I stop this?” She asked, pointing the barrel down to the burned forehead of the demon.
“You don’t.” He started cackling, and she pulled the trigger.
The impact sent gore splattering against the walls and left the wolf-man shivering.
“I’ll ask again, how do I stop this?”
The wolf didn’t speak, but whimpered.
“Last chance.” She chambered a second bullet.
Still he refused to answer. She wondered briefly if he could even speak, and, not caring to discover the answer, she fired a second time.
She chambered a bullet and scanned the basement for bodies, to find the vampire tucked in the corner, holding the shards of his teeth.
“Why do you do this?” He asked. “We are the rightful owners of this—“
She fired a bullet into his leg.
“I didn’t ask.”
She pulled the slide.
“How do I stop what has started?”
She pulled the barrel up and aimed it at the vampire, trained on his skull, with her finger on the trigger.
“There is nothing you can do, and you will kill me either way, but I will return. I always have.”
Above them, the stars creaked.
“Are you going to help me, or are you going to buy yourself more time?”
She swung to face the stairs and fired, sending the body of the wet thing she’d never known rolling to the landing.
She chambered her bullet and locked eyes with the vampire.
“Consider this,” He began, “You have come here in vengeance, to repay a debt you believe you owe your friend lying dead in the drive.”
“You aren’t answering my questions.” She put her finger on the trigger.
He raised his hands.
“Kil me if you must, if you can, but I am older and more powerful than any of these. These are the children of my malice. They are weak, and you know your bullet won’t do you any good.”
The vampires head slammed against the wall in a cloud of dust, dragged by the sudden impact of the bullet, a hole the size of her fist ruptured him.
“We never really die.” He laughed, as beside her, the pool of blood began to bubble.
She rushed to load another bullet and fired, then another, and another. When she ran out, she replaced her clip and continued until the vampire’s body was little more than chunks of wilted, worn flesh lying atop a pile of entrails.
Still, he had the audacity to speak.
“We will always return, Ella Ripom. There is nothing that you can do.”
She aimed her gun at the last bit of him, resting peacefully against the chair in a throne of his own body, and she pulled the trigger.
The click came, but the resulting boom of gunfire didn’t. She peeked down the side of the barrel and saw the casing lodged halfway, trapped between the slide and the enclosure.
She reached to yank it out and recharger another bullet, and in the time between her hand leaving the trigger and returning to it, Korrigan vanished beneath her and reappeared at her side.
“We will always be the masters of you.”
The demon shoved, and Ella fell into the pool of bubbling blood to her side.
All around her grasping hands reached out, wrapping themselves around her arms and legs, pawing at her face and neck, dragging her further and further into the pool until the dim light from the basement was gone and everything around her was thick with death, and vibrant red.
She fought until she couldn’t hold her breath any longer, and when she finally opened her lips the weight of slaty blood invaded her and she fell into a dark, black pit.
“It is an awful thing, isn’t it, when you call for help and there is none to arrive?”
A voice called out in the darkness, one she’d never heard before. A woman.
“To know defeat in such a simple avenue, to be cast from the towers in which we were so proud to have built. It burns, does it not?”
Ella opened her eyes to a featureless black expanse. Endlessly the sound rolled, like a grove of flowers with no flowers and no grass, only plain black dirt that covered everything as far as she could see. The sky above dark the same, more than any night and devoid of stars.
The voice called out again.
“You are a Worldspanner, Ella Ripom. I can feel it inside of you. I am sorry that you arrived here.”
“Who are you?” She spoke, her own words came out as if she were underwater.
“I am the light, expunged and broken.” The voice cried out like thunder in the midst of the silence. “To know me is to know beauty and fury.” She continued booming.
“Where am I?”
“We are within the walls of the Manor, a prison built by the Firstborn.” Another voice called out, thin and timid and knowledgable.
“So, is this it then, I am not dead, but trapped?”
A third voice answered, one filled with experience and understanding. “Trapped within a world you cannot escape, inside of another world you cannot escape, I’m afraid.”
“We tried to warn you,” came the second voice. “It is not wise to remain here once the gate has closed.”
“I couldn’t leave.” She sputtered. “I brought the girl.”
“And for what,” a fourth voice echoed, hollow and vengeful. “But to die alone, another in an ever growing number of unjustified death?”
“I had no other choice.” Ella answered, stepping away from where she’d woken, moving into the endless expanse.
“You could have left, you could have never come here.” The fourth voice choked. “You could have saved yourself and your daughter.”
“Who are you? Show yourselves.”
“We cannot.” A fifth voice, motherly and gentle. “We are without power in this place. We are trapped by our own design.”
“Your own design?”
The first voice interrupted. “We were the architects of this city, these people, and they threw us away.”
Ella realized with whom she’d spoken all at once and fell to her knees.
“The goddesses of the moons, yes.” The fifth voice replied.
“Vyse, could you hear me?”
The first, Vyse, replied. “Yes child. But I could do nothing until you were caught between life and death, between whole and incomplete. That is where we lie, here, our power has been stolen.”
Ella began to weep, staring up into the sky.
“Then what do we do?” She called out, begging to see their faces.
“We wait, until the time is right. Perhaps, there may be something we can do, yet.”
Mean for the Holidays is an annual writing project where I post new writing every day for the 13 days leading up to Christmas, this year the theme is “The Night Alone” — Telling you stories about things that go bump in the night. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you come back to see how this story ends. If you enjoyed it, I’d be honored if you sent this to a friend.
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.
[…] Part Three, Chapter Two: Bloodfall: Worlds Away […]