A Day in The Life of a Monster Hunter

Just a short piece from the perspective of Starling, a Monster Hunter in the city of London, on a typical night out for her.

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1. A Day in the Life of a Monster Hunter

It’s the middle of the night in the city of London. The pubs and clubs are crowded and noisy. Perfect hunting grounds for Daemons, Werewolves, Vampires and other Unworldly creatures.

Thank heavens my brother is scouting those tonight.

I turn a corner. The few people who are out at this hour in the pouring rain are running (or stumbling, in the case of girls in impossibly high heeled shoes) to get under the cover of a bus shelter of something similar. They don’t see me. My cloak, woven from shadows as it is, renders me almost invisible. This is my territory. My turf.

My rules.

I stop, and go back a few paces until I’m level with a dark, dirty, dead-end alleyway. An ordinary person wouldn’t be able to see in the near-complete darkness of the alley, but I can see every crevice and every mouse hole. Or rather, those are the things I would see if they weren’t blocked by an Unworldly toying with its next victim, a young teenager I’ve seen sleeping rough more times than I have cared to count.

The Unworldly laughs; it’s an unnatural sound, like glass shards being beaten by a blacksmith’s hammer. “Don’t worry,” the creature croons in a voice like steel being twisted. “It will all be over soon.” A claw extends from the grey, mottled skin where his hand should be and is raised above the young girl cowering in a heap on the ground.

“Hello, Cyril.” He turns at my conversational tone. “Long time, no see.”

Cyril’s disfigured face breaks into what he must think is a grin as he spots a dark red, almost purple, curl protruding from under my hood. “Starling,” he exclaims in feigned joy. “The greatest misnomer in history! How have you been?”

“Good. I’ve been doing my job.” I inspect the claw. “My, my, Cyril. You’ve let yourself go. What happened to your hand?”

Cyril looks uncomfortable. “It just… went.”

I shake my head. “How many times, Cyril? The more you Shift, the more you lose of your body.” I examine Cyril’s grey flesh. “Although you’ve been replacing the parts you lost well, albeit in a revolting manner.”

Cyril hesitates, then decides to change the subject. “Where is Casimir? The both of you are normally so inseparable.”

“My brother is… around. Now, straight to the matter at hand. You know the rules. Release the girl.”

“What rules? There are several different–”

My rules.”

“Oh. Those rules.” Cyril’s smile vanishes as he looks at me, then glances at the girl, who has been watching our exchange with terror and more than a little confusion, with a blood-hungry expression on his face. He turns back to me. “Could you just make one excep–”

“The girl, Cyril. Let her go, or I might just have to kill you.”

Cyril hesitates for a few moments. Then he lunges at the girl and brings his single claw down.

Suddenly, the hilt of one of my sliver daggers protrudes from his back, as though it were some sort of third appendage. While that may not kill him, it certainly gets his attention, for as he turns, he unleashes a volley of poisonous thorns from his greyish, rotting tail, all of which are swallowed by my cloak, having been pulled up just in time to protect my face and chest.

I hate Shifters.

I unhook one of the crystal phials hanging from my belt and fling it at the Unworldly in front of me, where it shatters, covering his chest in a red liquid which, seconds later, catches fire. Cyril lets out a scream like obsidian dragged across slate as he begins to disintegrate into ash. I should have done that years ago.

But Cyril isn’t done yet. Looking furious, he reaches under a flap of his disgusting skin and throws a handful of black powder in my direction. I leap to my right to avoid being hit by it; Cyril, who has predicted this, runs forward to the Shadow Portal the powder has opened.

Fordyt!” I shout. Where the Portal was just moments earlier is now just the brick wall of a house. With a satisfying splat, Cyril makes contact with the wall and slides to the ground. I grab the Shifter by the decomposing flesh of his throat and pull him up so that his face is level with mine. “The good news,” I growl, “is that the fire was extinguished when you hit the wall. The bad news is that you’re going to die anyway.” I take a deep breath in preparation for the next spell. “Ácwilest.” I feel the life force binding Cyril to his own version of life leaving his body and entering mine, replenishing the strength lost in the fight. Once all the life force has drained, the shell that used to be Cyril crumbles into a pile of ash on the concrete and is quickly washed away by the continuing rain.

I turn my attention to the girl, who hasn’t moved much since the beginning of the fight. I remove the hood of my cloak so she can see my face as I crouch down beside her. It’s too late to save her; there is a deep gash in her stomach from Cyril’s claw, and she is bleeding out fast. “You’re going to be fine,” I tell her without thinking.

To my surprise, she smiles. “You’re lying,” she whispers back.

I return the smile. “Caught me red-handed.”

The girl then takes my right hand between her own. “Éadnes.

I can’t believe it. She was a Sorceress, one of my own. Only a Sorceress would know the way to say goodbye on her deathbed, would know to wish the other peace. I place my left hand on her forehead, smile, and give her the proper response. “Foldræst.

The young Sorceress smiles one last time. Her eyes close. Her body goes limp.  Her last breath leaves her. She has embraced the Rest of Ages, the rest I gave her in the one-worded response.

I never even knew her name.

I stand, pull my hood back up and, with one last look at the dead girl, leave the alleyway to resume my routine walk through the city streets, on the lookout for more Unworldly beings.

Sometimes, I really hate my job.

 

“How has your night been, sis?” Casimir asks when I come home a few hours later, just after dawn.

“Eventful,” I reply, throwing myself onto the sofa and looking out of the apartment window overlooking the city. “How about you?” I crack a smile and look at my brother, my head hanging off the edge of the sofa so he looks upside-down. “How many girls slipped you their number?”

He rolls his dark eyes. “Every single one who asked my about this.” He points to the thin, dark scar running across his face, the exact mirror image of my own scar.

I laugh. “What cover story did you tell them? The one about the kitchen knife accident?”

“No, I told them the one about the stray Frisbee.” I laugh even harder. As cover stories go, this one is easily the most ridiculous. Casimir looks hurt. “Hey! I was panicking! I could hardly tell them about the Cockatrice incident, could I?”

I calm down slightly and sit up so the world is the right way up again, still grinning. “No, I don’t suppose you could.” I bite my lip to try and stop another laughing fit. “How many Unworldlies did you get tonight, Casi?”

Casimir has to think for a moment. “Seven. No, eight. Five thrown back into the Unworld, three dead.” He smiles triumphantly. “Think you can top that?”

I raise my eyebrows. “Please. Give me a break. Eight dispatched, four killed. That’s twelve in total, mate.”

“How is that even possible?” My brother asks incredulously after a moment’s pause. “You always get more than me! You don’t even have a proper weapon!”

It’s my turn to look incredulous. “I’m sorry, Cupcakes, I must have heard you wrong. I thought you just said I don’t have a proper weapon.”

“Your little spells and potions do not count as weapons! And don’t even get me started on those little daggers of yours.”

“Well what about you with that massive sword? I’m not sure of you’ve heard about this wonderful new concept called discretion. You should try it sometime.”

“My sword is effective!”

“So are my spells and potions!”

We fall silent and just glare at each other for a few moments before we both look away. “It’s your turn to wake Flynne and Aidan up for school,” I tell him. Casimir turns and, as he walks to our younger siblings’ rooms to wake them up, I whisper behind my hand, “Gefyrst.” A patch of ice appears in front my twin brother and with a glorious CRASH, he slips and lands flat on his face. I laugh as he hauls himself up, face as red as his hair, and growls at me.

Did I mention that I love being a Sorceress?

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