A Bunch of Stuff
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The rain was falling in sheets - the darkness almost impenetrable.

Months of careful research and sacrifice had brought me to this moment…to this place. I was never one for bravery, but when they came, it forced even the most timid of us to acts of daring.

We held our own at first, but once they’d managed to destroy the churches, the tide turned and it was all we could do to avoid being killed in the streets nightly. Many lost their faith, and still many more joined them, choosing life over perpetual fear. But not I. They had taken everything else, but they’d not have my faith. I would not surrender. There had to be a way to fight them and I would find it.

At first, I thought it a myth. An old wives tale given new life by our need for hope, but I kept hearing it, the details of the story unchanged by each telling. There was hope. There was one who could defeat them. One who could save us. The story was fantastic; of a time when they had come before, of a time when they had been many, and of those who had fought them. It was a story of one who had fallen, and then made them regret the falling. That was to be my quest, to find the fallen.

Information was at a premium, and there were transgressions I was forced to endure, and lives I was forced to end, but I was fighting for our continued survival. No price could be too great. I would have time to mourn and reflect once we’d ground them under our heel…if I were able to convince the fallen. I had crossed the continents in search of this salvation and had heard nothing of home for months, but I was resolute. Surely they would spread, making my mission necessary regardless of the fate of my home. I must succeed.

I stood facing the building, the flickering streetlights causing the shadows on the street to dance. The informant who had given me this location had done so with my knife pressed against his throat, and I hoped his information hadn’t been a parting joke.

I might be in as much danger from the fallen as I was from them, but there was no choice. There was no other hope. As I removed my weapon from its holster and started toward the entrance, something fluttered in the darkness to my left, just out of sight. I tensed. I’d not be denied this close to our salvation. I heard the flutter again and caught movement out the corner of my eye. I broke into a run, hoping to reach the door. They’d tracked me before, and each time I’d been able to avoid the ambushes by outsmarting them, but they knew what I was looking for and they were persistent. Just as my fingers were about to close around the handle, an impact in the darkness threw me backward into the street, sending my weapon clattering across the asphalt. Before I could think, it was upon me, pinning me to the ground by the throat and tearing at my clothes. I’d heard there were sometimes other things they liked to do before killing us, but my greatest concern was that I’d failed my quest. I’d failed in finding our salvation.

Suddenly, something in the darkness hurled it free, and a stomach- turning cry filled the air. Still gasping for breath, I was barely able to sit up, and through my blurred vision, I was able to make out something else, something smaller, attacking my would-be assailant. It was utterly silent as it swirled in the night and it moved so quickly it seemed to dance between the raindrops. Each of my assailant’s attacks were countered effortlessly, tearing sinew and splintering bone. In one case, the offending appendage was simply torn away at the joint and thrown aside. I’d never heard one of them scream, and I almost pitied the creature as it was subdued.

What happened next though, sent me scrambling frantically for my discarded weapon. For once my saviour had rendered the still screaming attacker defenseless, I could swear I saw it lower its head and bite him savagely in the throat.

It was one of them.

It wasn’t saving me, it was stealing food. I managed to grasp the weapon and turned back, my hands wet and fumbling, only to find her already crouching in front of me, her face inches away from mine.

She was literally as pale as chalk, far paler than any I’d ever seen and her dark hair contrasted sharply with the crimson of her eyes in the flickering light. Much of what she was wearing seemed to be bits of ancient Scandinavian armour intermingled with modern clothing, and a lot of leather. She watched my face carefully for several moments before speaking.

“I heard you were looking for me.”

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