View character profile for: Nim
Posted: Mar 30, 2019, 8:22am
(Originally written on December 26, 2017)
It had been a little over three weeks since Isabella Drerworthington's miraculous victory over Faerwenacht the Ancient, a vampire that had been terrorizing northern Ireland for over a millenium. Unfortunately, the repercussions of her victory had been far more devastating than she could have imagined, with Faerwenacht's surviving clansmen launching a bloody retribution campaign against Isabella and everybody that had helped her prepare for the battle. The vendetta had claimed the lives of the priests, druids, potion makers, trap makers, and half of the Ulster Chapter's Red Hearts Guild Members (which then disbanded), as well as the lives of anyone else that stood in their way. Isabella had initially wanted to contribute to the defense of the region, but her spirit-guide, Vicentio Bonitati, had strongly recommended that she flee Ireland. She acquiesced, a decision that she probably owed her continued survival too.
Isabella returned to the mainland and then travelled south back to Manchester, where she tried to lay low for a few weeks at the request of the Red Hearts Guildmaster, who was struggling to deal with the damage caused by Faerwenacht's brethren. Unfortunately, Isabella had spent most of her money on potions, spells, weapons, traps, and other things she needed to defeat Faerwenacht, and nobody seemed to be eager to pay her the reward for the bounty on the old vampire, so she was now quite strapped for cash. She tried to find some decent mundane labor to occupy herself with, but nobody would hire her. Eventually, she went to the Manchester Chapter of the Red Hearts Guild to see if any contracts were available, and she saw one for a reported vampire that was taking out livestock around some town in Shropshire called Hancheister. She pleaded for permission to take the job, and the local guildmaster relented.
Isabella then got a ride to Hancheister, which was where she found herself now, waiting in the police station for whoever posted the contract to see to her. She was seated in a waiting area along with a few other dour-faced individuals she hadn't bothered introducing herself to.
"So, are you excited to be back in the field?"
Isabella frowned as her spirit guide, Vicentio Bonitati, who was a legendary monster slayer a little over two centuries ago, tried to kill the time by talking to her about her feelings. Vicentio's spirit become merged with hers after she had subjected herself to an ill-advised spell in which she had hoped to acquire the famed monster hunter's knowledge. The spell had succeeded in a sense, but she had become possessed by the old monster hunter, who, fortunately for her, had been very agreeable as spirits go, and he let her remain in control of her body as long as she promised to keep him along for the ride. Vicentio's advise had been critical in helping her prepare for and defeat Faerwenacht, but now she was still stuck with him, and she often found his frequent unsolicited remarks irritating.
"If getting back out into the field will cause you to be helpful again instead of just being a constant nuisance, then I will be ecstatic," Isabella retorted mentally.
"Well, sorry, but as boring as the past few weeks have been for you, they have been that much lamer for me. The most exciting thing I have seen you do is take a bath..."
"Are you seriously admiring my tits when I bathe? Ugh, now I feel violated."
"I am looking forward to you finding a romantic partner and doing what romantic partners do..."
"Agh! If I knew I was going to have to share a body with a pervert, I would never have..."
Isabella looked around, glad to get distracted from the disturbing turn her mental conversation with Vicentio had taken.
"Isabella Drerworthington?" the receptionist called again.
Isabella stood up and walked over to the receptionist. "Does the sheriff finally have time for me?" she asked sarcastically.
"No, you will be seeing Detective Mathews," the man replied irritably. "Right this way, please."
Isabella followed the man wordlessly to a closed door. The receptionist knocked on the door and called out, "Detective Mathews? The monster hunter is here for you."
Isabella faintly heard a muffled reply from the other side, and the receptionist opened up the door to reveal a small office. Isabella strode into the room, quickly examining the scene. There were multiple shelves laden with notebooks filled to the brim with files. Rising from a chair behind a messy desk was a slightly overweight man who was clearly getting on in years. He had salty black hair and a stylish mustache. "So you are the monster hunter," the man, whom Isabella assumed was Detective Mathews, began. "I was expecting someone older and more..."
"Masculine?" Isabella guessed. "I get that a lot."
"I was going to say experienced," the detective replied with a frown.
"I assure you that I am plenty experienced," Isabella stated confidently.
"You? Experienced? Pretty much everything you have that qualifies as experience comes from me." Vicentio interjected. No one else would have heard this but her.
"Shut up," Isabella growled irritably. It wasn't until she noticed the shocked look on the detective's face that she realized that she had accidentally said that out loud. Well this is going poorly. At this rate, he probably won't give me the job, she thought anxiously. "Sorry, detective, please continue."
"You monster hunters are an odd bunch," the detective muttered, sitting back down and gesturing for Isabella to take a seat, which she did. "Anyway, I'm assuming you are here about the contract I put out on the vampire?" Isabella nodded and he continued, "As I detailed in the contract notice, we have had a rash of reports come in from nearby farmers claiming that their livestock were killed by a vampire, who sucked them dry of all blood. I visited the sites of many of these reported attacks, and sure enough, the deceased animals were pale as ghosts, and any gashes made upon their carcasses drew no blood. Now I don't know much of anything about vampires, but when I asked Druid Owain about them, he told me that they are extremely dangerous and recommended that I hire a professional to deal with situation. Admittably, I was hesitant to shell out a whole lot of money on something like this where I wasn't entirely sure of what was going on. I was hoping that whoever or whatever was doing this would move on to somewhere else, but unfortunately the attacks have persisted and the farmers are getting anxious. Someone needs to take out this vampire, and I suppose this someone will be you. As I stated in the contract description, you will be paid £100 up front, and another £100 upon proof of completion of the job. Do you have any questions?"
"Yes, actually. Has anyone seen this vampire?"
The detective frowned, "No one that I've talked to claims to have seen the creature, only the messes it left behind."
Isabella sighed. "Okay, do the attacks seem to be confined to any particular area?"
"As far as I know, all the attacks are occuring in farmsteads within the borders of Hancheister Township, but other than that, the location of the attack seems to be random. The vampire has killed one animal each night for the past 13 nights."
That was curious. Isabella hadn't known vampires to really care much about human borders. Vicentio seemed to be thinking the same thing. "That is strange..."
"Do you think this vampire has a vendetta against Hancheister?" Isabella asked. Most vampires didn't want to be found out, and as such, they hid the bodies of their kills. If a vampire was leaving the carcasses out for everyone to see, that meant that the vampire wanted the bodies to be found for some reason. Maybe it wanted to scare off the farmers or something, although this seemed like a pretty passive-aggressive way of striking out at Hancheister.
"I have no idea," the detective replied. "That will be up to you to figure out. Do you have any more questions?"
"Yes. How exactly do you expect me to figure all this out?" Isabella asked.
"Umm, that's what you do isn't it? Find vampires and other monsters and slay them?"
"It certainly is, but actually finding the monsters isn't a whole lot more magical than finding a human target. It takes detective work, which means asking questions, questions that people are not obligated to answer unless you give me some actual authority."
"Are you suggesting that I deputize you? I'm afraid I don't have the authority to do that..."
"Then recommend me to someone who can," Isabella all but demanded.
"I don't know..."
"How many more animals do you think need to die before people start to realize how useless you are? And god forbid the thing starts targeting actual people..."
"Okay, fine, I'll see what I can do," the detective muttered.
"The sooner the better," Isabella, replied sharply. "There will probably be another attack tonight if what you say is true, and I'd like to get ahead of this as quickly as possible. It's your reputation on the line after all."
"Yeah, you're right. Okay, I'll try to get you a deputy badge by this afternoon. Is there anything else you need?"
"Yes, so, while finding a vampire is kind of like finding any other fugitive, actually pinning down and destroying a vampire is no small matter," Isabella began. "They are far faster and stronger than any human, and many possess frightening magics and unnatual abilities, not to mention their innate regerative capabilities. Defeating a vampire requires extensive preparation, and quite frankly, that preparation is very expensive. I doubt £100 will be enough to cover all those expenses. I would like £200 off the bat, and £200 pounds for completing the job, because frankly, slaying a vampire is an extremely dangerous, and I don't like risking my hide unless I will be well rewarded."
"I am not authorized to pay you that much for..."
"Well, then I suppose you can wait a week for another monster hunter to arrive, which will probably mean seven more bodies, but what is the value of potential human lives compared to £200?" Isabella interjected.
"Okay, fine, fine," Detective Mathews stammered. "I will get permission to pay you £200 up front and £200 for completion of the job. Please tell me there is nothing else..."
"Nope, I should be good for now. Please have my deputy badge, the forward payment in cash, and a list of where all the attacks have occured ready when we meet again."
"So you are taking the job?"
"Indeed I am, detective, although I'll wait until I recieve the foward payment before I commit."
"Very well, Ms. Drerworthington," Detective Mathews began, rising from his chair. "If there is nothing else, I will be seeing you this afternoon." He stuck out a sweaty hand, which Isabella took hesitantly. "Do you know the way out?"
"I believe I do, yes," she replied.
"Excellent, see you soon," the detective said dismissively. Isabella nodded, turned, and left the cramped office. The receptionist was no longer there, so Isabella had to navigate her way back out by memory. Fortunately, Isabella had a good sense of direction, so she managed to refrain from getting lost, and soon, she was back in the police station's lobby, where the receptionist completely failed to acknowledge her. Whatever.
"You had that guy by the balls there. I have to admit that I am impressed. I thought I was going to have to take your hand and walk you through your first contract negotiation, but you actually seemed to know what you were doing," Vicentio remarked.
"I sat through a good number of meetings like that when I was working under my mentor. I hated them, but now I suppose I see the need for negotiations," Isabella replied, making sure not to say anything out loud. Prior to when she became possessed by Vicentio, Isabella had mentored under another monster hunter by the name of Edmund Smith. She had learned a lot from him until his untimely demise.
She sighed as memories of their last job together came to mind. Edmund and her had taken a job to kill a family of vampires reported to have been living in Armagh. They had been able to find the vampires' home and Edmund assembled a team of ten monster hunters from the Red Hearts Guild for the raid, including Isabella and himself. Unfortunately, as the team prepared to storm the house, they came under attack from Faerwenacht and several of his clansmen. Edmund and the other eight monster hunters were slain, with only Isabella escaping the massacre with her life intact. She learned later that Faerwenacht had intentially let her live in hope that she would tell the tale to other wannabe vampire hunters and scare them off. Instead, she had hunted down the ancient vampire and avenged her mentor.
"Well, anyway, you did a good job," Vicentio continued.
Isabella walked out of the police station and into the streets of Hancheister. She was struggling to figure out what her next move would be when her stomach growled loudly. She hadn't eaten much for breakfast, and now she was feeling quite peckish. I suppose I'll go to the market.
"Excellent idea," Vicentio commented, although that thought had not been directed at him at all. "I remember hearing someone say that today is market day, which means that a lot of the farmers should be in town. Perhaps you can get some rumors about this vampire while you snack."
Isabella didn't say anything, but she did agree with his logic. She walked up to a random pedestrian and asked, "Excuse me, do you know where I can find the town market?"
The man examined her for a moment before replying, "Outsider, eh? You can find Market Street that way," he said, pointing in a direction in front of her and to the left. "Go that way, and just follow the noise." The man then continued on his way without waiting for a response.
"Umm, thanks," Isabella muttered before going in the direction the man had indicated. Sure enough, she heard the market well before she saw it. Eventually, she arrived, and beheld numerous stalls where various merchants and farmers boisterously called out to passersby in hope of getting their business. Isabella made her way through the crowd until she saw a farmer selling what appeared to be rancid steaks. Curious, she approached the stall, although the smell killed her appetite.
"Good day, sir," she said, once she was in range. Fortunately, there was no line to this particular stall. In fact, most people seemed to be trying to avoid it.
"Hello dear lady," the farmer replied, looking at her curiously. "Are you interested in buying one of my world-famous steaks?"
"I don't know if I'd live to see tomorrow if I ate one of those steaks," Isabella replied, wrinkling her nose.
"I know," the farmer mumbled, "It's just, someone killed my cow a few days ago, and unfortunately, the meat hasn't kept as well as I'd hoped."
Isabella raised an eyebrow. "Was your cow drained of all it's blood?"
A look of shock came over the man's face. "H-how did you know that? Wait, you aren't the vampire, are you?"
Isabella sighed. She could see how her pale skin and snow-white hair could cause someone to come to that conclusion, but she certainly was not a vampire. "Nope, I am one hundred percent a living, breathing human," she replied, opening her mouth so the farmer would get a good look at her teeth. "No fangs whatsoever. No, I actually just picked up the contract to avenge your cow."
"To avenge my cow?" The farmer looked at her with a confused expression on his face. "... Oh, you're a monster hunter, I see. So what do you want?"
"I just wanted to know if you saw anything."
"You mean the vampire?" the farmer grunted. "I ain't seen no vampires, just my precious Mitsy, pruned up and lying dead in the middle of my pasture." Isabella saw tears coming to the man's eyes, which caused her to roll her eyes.
"Do me a favor and save the tears for when your entire family gets murdered," Isabella growled before storming off back into the crowd.
"I know that you have had a hard life, but you would do well to at least pretend to be more compassionate," Vicentio commented.
"Everyone I have ever loved has been killed, and besides, he didn't know anything else, anyway," Isabella mentally shot back.
"Maybe, maybe not. You had time to be more thorough, but oh well. What do you think about the vampire leaving the cow's carcass in the pasture? Most vampires hide their kills to avoid making a scene. Our quarry does not seem too concerned about that."
Isabella thought for a moment before mentally replying. "I think the vampire has a problem with someone important in Hancheister. Why, I have no..."
Just then, she collided with some guy, who yelled, "Hey, watch where you're going!" before continuing through the crowd. Isabella flipped the guy the bird behind his back before she herself continued to push through the crowd aimlessly. Vicentio, thankfully, decided to remain silent for the time being. When Isabella finally got to a clearing, she caught sight of what she thought was a familiar face. A man whom she recognized as a fellow member of the Red Hearts Guild was having a conversation with some other man she didn't recognize at all.
I've seen that man, before, what is his name? she wondered to herself, regarding the tall monster hunter with the eye patch.
"Blitz Blackheart," Vicentio answered, "Although I have my doubts about whether that was his given name."
"I doubt his parents named him that," Isabella replied "A lot of us monster hunter's change our names once we get into the monster slaying biz. Frankly I should probably change my name now too."
"Oh, that sounds like fun. Have any ideas?"
Isabella thought for a moment. "How about 'Ghost'?"
"Ghost? Why Ghost?"
"Well, you know, my hair, and my skin, white as a sheet..."
"You are the least stealthy person I know. I would think that being able to hide from your enemies is a requirement of being able to call yourself Ghost."