Arriving as the fog fastened its hold throughout the weather-worn and storm-battered Port Town, the figure crouched with a feline grace, sinking deeper and deeper until the surface of the flowing fog washed over them and they were no more.
Fingers gently outstretched, both hands tenderly stroked the ground and although blind by both darkness and fog, the finger tips read every passing boot, shoe and bare foot as if they were illuminated words upon parchment.
A slow smile crept across the covered face. Their prey had passed this way.
Shuffling forward like an insect under the cover of fog, they reached their first important point of contact where one of the targets was rumoured to have stayed. The information supplied by the contract holder was, so far, proving accurate.
A shiver of pleasure ran through their spine, as fingers stroked the rough wattle and daub exterior, once more gaining information important to the hunt. The thought of closing in on their quarry elicited a trickle of drool to escape their lips. A less than human tongue flicked out, erasing the errant fluid.
Slowly rising to a stand, to the casual observer it was as if the ground had raised this form of being directly out of the earth. But the observers were neither casual nor concerned - they sensed a beating heart and the flowing life force within it.
As one, several dark minions of the fog darted toward the figure, but came to an abrupt stop more than an arm's length away.
A glowing crystal talisman hanging around the figure's neck held the dark minions back, nullifying their blood lust. Like disappointed dogs looking for scraps from a table, they turned in unison and moved away.
Satisfied the dark minions were placated, the figure looked up. There. An open window. Suddenly they were alerted to a presence. Lunging, hands grabbed an arm and hauled up a terrified street urchin, silent tears rolling down street-dirt cheeks.
Turning in the direction of the dark minions, the figure whistled, and like obedient dogs they came, fast and silent. The street urchin, too terrified to utter a sound, scrabbled to break free.
With one swing of an arm, the street urchin landed amidst the dark minion pack, and like the hungry dogs they were they fell upon the child, cutting off the screams as flesh was torn, shredded and consumed.
Inside the tavern, Joshua prepared another night of protecting his patrons with his trusted two-handed axe. Running his calloused hand over the axe surface, Joshua recalled the friends he once travelled with in younger times.
"Where is Ifriel?"
The voice was cold, devoid of emotion and slightly sibilant. It startled the innkeeper. Joshua spun around a heartbeat too slow. A cold hand gripped him by the throat, the intruder's head cocked slightly to one side, dark orbs studying the man before them.
"Where is the white-haired one?"
Joshua, though terrified, managed to summon the strength to strike his inquisitor with his fist.
Letting the innkeeper go, the hooded figure sneered, revealing a mouth wider than was humanly possible and a set of teeth Joshua had once seen in the mouth of a giant fish once hauled onto the dockside.
The figure raised one hand and slowly waved a reprimanding finger and shook their head at the innkeeper.
Moments later, hunched over the dead body of Joshua, the hooded figure chewed through the man's skull and into his brain. Once there, the pointed tongue darted in and out. Flashes of past thoughts and images from Joshua flooded into the killer's mind. Voices from above called out the innkeeper's name.
Looking up, the figure contemplated its next move. There was time. Plenty of time.
Time to feed.
END OF PART 1.
Copyright ©. 2021 Mark Kelly.
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