The Stranger: Unleashed I

I am seldom incited to investigate matters such as these on my own time. Normally my associates would be dispensed in order that I may be free to pursue higher level labor than mere soul collecting. This one, however, was prompted by a near and trusted associate of mine whose insistence on my presence could not go unheeded.

We stood beneath the citrine, artificial light of street lamps nestled along a cracked and filth-ridden street. It ran between a maze-like complex of tall, rust-colored buildings which were crafted out of old, weathered brickwork covered in all manner of scars and lesions. Above us, the moon looked down upon the scene with a bright, wide eye that was in full bloom so as to compete with the harsh lighting produced by human engineers. The middle night was still, the air cool and pleasant as is typical in the early fall and all who dwelt on the street were fast retired into slumber, awaiting tomorrow’s meager bounty.

One denizen, however, would never see the dawn. Instead of home, in his bed where he belonged, he lay limp and cold at our feet. He was cast across the pavement on his back, from beneath which a pool of dark crimson had welled into a stagnant puddle. His eyes were typical of his sort, wide-eyed with regret and fear as they stare up to a dusty window high on the overlooking building. It sat open and a golden light glowed in contrast to its darkened neighbors.

“What did you find?” I said, turning to my cloaked associate who knelt over the body.

“His soul is damaged” his wizened voice wheezed as he was pressing a set of two fingers against the deceased’s forehead.

“Yes, so they typically are.” I responded, “These are sad cases, indeed.”

“Are you taking this one sir?” he asked formally, standing up from the body, appearing as a dark mass beneath his garb.

I turned back and looked down onto our victim “Of course, my brother wants nothing to do with his kind.” I said, clenching my jaw with contempt for his fate.

“Such a shame, he led a reasonable life.”

“Unfortunately my brother cares little for ‘reasonable’. His soul is damaged as you say, but my brother wants nothing to do with fixing it.” I said, hardening my tone as I descended into a lecture. “He wants perfection from an imperfect creature.”

“I will mark this one for you, so you can mend it, but that is not why I called for your aid sir.” He said, his voice becoming thin.

“Is that so?’

“His soul is damaged yes, but it is how it was damaged that concerns me.” He said. I tilted my head at him and remained silent, prompting him to continue his report. “Well, you’ll have to have a look, sir.”

My associate took a deep breath and began to mutter a string of ancient words to himself. A harsh silver light shot through the veins of his hand and flowed into the body dispersing across its surface like a mystic salve. From his agape mouth, a majestic game of light flowed gingerly outward into an undulating cloud over his chest which ebbed and twisted, never deciding on a final form. The soul is an intriguing thing; it is deceptively primordial in that its energetic form can seem like nothing more than a mob of chaos to the uninitiated. It lacks the orderly rapport of the sciences seemingly lacking distinct rules and humans fight over its nature with a still shallow perception. However, it, like everything else in the universe was crafted, engineered even and is governed by laws for randomness in its truest form does not exist. The humans can only see the entity as mystic and thenceforth deny either its existence or its rationality. It is what is symptomatic when intelligent beings believe in a false premise. An expert like myself, however, can easily parse the nuances of it with the particularity of a brain surgeon.

I thrust my hands into the cloud, gingerly bending the energy with my hands. The charged mass avoided my flesh like a magnet facing a matching polarity and it would be this force that I would use to my advantage. “The third Aeon is what I’m concerned with,” my associate said as I prodded around inside the entity.

I pulled back layers of light, casting them aside like flaps of skin until I revealed more homogenous pearl colored light just below. I ran my finger across the surface, feeling the energy tinge my skin with certain ferocity like an electrical charge. I did so until I came across a spot which failed to send that very same jolt. In feeling around and through it to ensure thoroughness, I discovered a discoloration. The light it seemed was stained, marked by a foul substance like a melanoma on the dermis. It made a large path glow a drab yellow like a urine soaked rag.

“This is not good,” I said, backing away from the afflicted “Something fed off of this one.”

“Yes, it is unnatural, even for a suicide. This man was prey. I had hoped my eyes were waning” My associate said, stroking his wiry and rugged chin. “What do you think it was?”

I sat and thought “It could be many things, a hex probably or perhaps siphon of some sort… I can’t know without further information however, we should search the area.”

My associated nodded slowly and I, before standing back up, grabbed hold of the soul and whispered to it. Slowly it crept into my fingertips, being absorbed by the signet ring on my finger.

With the soul stored for later repurposing, the two of us traced the perimeter of the building, observing every stone, lamp and crack in the ground for irregularity. We were about to give up our search when my Associate called to me from the alleyway beside the victim’s building.

I trod over and entered into the waste infused pathway. A series of rusted dumpsters sat, brimming with the refuse of all kinds. The scent of rots and apathy assaulted my faculties and I could not help but wince at its pungency. The brickwork, as well as the various discarded items all, seemed to be coated in a thin coat of filth that was visible only to the senses beyond the normal five. Midway through, my associate was once again hunched over, observing something on the ground.

I approached him and he pointed silently downwards. At his finger’s tip, a white scratch, like chalk on a blackboard ran a short distance and stopped at a blackened pool. The sour, iron scent of the mysterious puddle was all too unmistakable. What was more concerning however was what laid in the depth of that pool. An object protruded slender to the point of wispy, with a skin of encrusted fluid sharply like a small atoll.

I reached down and retrieved it. What I beheld in my hands was a small, hard splinter of some kind. It seemed innocuous enough, yet the sheer amount of blood spewed at its expense was worrisome.  I took and placed it before my nostril and smelt it. It had a distinct saltiness wafting from under the bitter stench that coated it. Suddenly I snapped back up into prostration.

“I will need to contact an expert on this matter”, I said, still clutching the tooth its peculiar odor lingering in my sinuses.

“What do you think it is? I find it hard to believe you are baffled.” my associate asked.

“It could be nothing, but I have a suspicion. I do not wish to make any conclusions until I receive a second opinion.” I said. “We may need to hunt.”

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