I found the body tucked into a corner. The darkest hours of the Surface night cycle hadn’t yet finished, but the Moon sat gibbous and fat in the sky, watching my every move. The big buildings around me hadn’t managed to get rid of the heat they soaked up during the day and, by that point, they weren’t going to. The humidity helped turn this part of the city into a foul little trash can that no one had the stomach to clean. The body was wrapped in far too much fabric for the environment, and filthy fabric at that. To the few other people on the streets that night, he was just a transient and they paid him no heed. In point of fact, a young couple that stunk of alcohol walked past him and had the audacity to comment on how he smelled. Apparently, the ignorant children have never scented death before.
Despite the darkness, I had to move him for a proper investigation. There’s a saying up here, about how cities “never sleep”. I think it usually references one city in particular, but I am not sure which. It is true for any large Surface city. There are always people awake, wandering and watching, and they make it difficult to conduct examinations without interruption. When I finally found a spot, I sorted through his personal effects and cut through his clothes. Unfortunately, I found exactly what I was looking for – soulblight.
Soulblight is the term I use for it, anyway. A tad theatrical, I’m sure, but the word is succinct in its description. For those who are not familiar with engaging the supernatural, not all manifestations are merely mischievous or stubborn. Some are what we’d call “good”, benevolent things that only want to help. And some are…not. I dislike the term “evil”, as it implies an irredeemable absoluteness, and nothing is ever that clear cut. Still, you cannot justify the actions of an Aether-born predator. Soulblight is the mark of such a creature. Where a flesh and blood hunter would leave bloody wounds and broken bones, a magical “carnivore” will often only leave black, disfiguring blotches on its prey. But far from harmless, these blotches are patches of dead flesh where the victim’s soul has been burned or torn. I bear several of these marks myself. Most Mousers do, after long enough in the field and luck enough to survive such things.
The victim was covered in long, slashing blotches of soulblight. His legs, his belly, his throat. The poor bastard probably never saw what had him in its jaws. And yes, I mean jaws. Whatever killed this man is no lost human soul.
I flash-burned the remains, using a trinket of my own design to quickly get rid of evidence. But I stayed with him too. I have a tiny candle holder, etched with runes. I lit the candle in it and let it glow on the other side. It was a slow process, letting the shreds of soul find one another, come together, and remember who they were. He shivered when he was whole again and, when the sun finally began to rise, he let go and floated off into infinity.
I will maintain my other duties, but for the moment my priority is finding whatever did this before it strikes again. I will send further reports as events unfold.