(Warning: Contains dark themes and isn’t very Christmassy.)
It was Christmas eve when the Hunter returned to the police station. Midnight was approaching. For the first time since he had last visited Cassius, the snowfall had slowed, and the bitter wind had ceased. Azerius entered the station in a less than perfect state. His long black cloak glistened with frost and now bore new rips and slashes. Fresh blood covered his cheek and dripped down his neck. The receptionist was sat at the counter.
“Evening, Tera,” Azerius remembered her name this time. “Is your boss about?”
“Um, yeah… just through there.” She said hesitantly, a concerned look on her face.
“Thanks.” The Hunter said simply, walking past. It had been a long day.
Azerius walked into Cassius’ office, and the scene before him was exactly as expected. The Sergeant sat in his chair, feet on his desk, a glass of whiskey in his grasp. The Hunter knew that he would be there, even this close to Christmas.
“Azerius!” Cassius announced cheerfully. He had clearly been drinking for a while, judging by the almost empty bottle of Jack on his desk. “You look like you could use a drink… or ten.”
The Hunter walked in and took a seat. Reaching into his torn cloak, he revealed glass bottle that contained a mysterious liquid and placed it carefully on the desk. It appeared as water inside, but glittered with speckles of green and blue, like the inside of a shaken snow globe. A slight white glow emanated from within. The top of the bottle had an odd stopper, seemingly made of silver with a strange symbol atop.
“The hunt is over.” Azerius smiled.
“Are you injured?” Cassius asked, indicating the blood on the Hunter’s face.
“I was, but it’s healed.” The Hunter replied, wiping away the blood with a gloved hand.
“Healing like that must come in handy in your line of work. So, what happened? And… what’s that?” Cassius pondered, motioning at the strange glass bottle on the table. He then proceeded to pour the remnants of his whiskey bottle into a glass for Azerius.
“Well, I’ll start from the beginning.” The Hunter began, then downed the contents of the glass before him. “I investigated the murder scenes of the five deceased. All was normal, except for a small crack in one of the windows. This was consistent in every home. So, I began to ponder after the creature that could enter through such a small place. Truth is though, I didn’t have a clue. This lead me to consult a white witch friend of mine, Ariel. I told her that I was looking for a creature that could turn into mist, impale its victim with ice then freeze them solid. The look on her face told me that she knew exactly what I was speaking of. She told me a tale of an ice demon.” Azerius paused for a moment.
“And!?” Cassius blurted, impatient and slightly intoxicated. “Why do you always pause at the best bit.”
“Dramatic effect.” Azerius winked then carried on. “The demon comes in winter, and with it, he brings the snow and cold. He’s immortal, but to retain that immortality out of his realm, he needs to feed on human essence. You may know him as Jack Frost.”
Cassius failed to hold back laughter and slurred; “Are you serious?”
“Yes… deadly. As serious as the daggers of ice that he wielded. Anyway, Ariel performed a location spell, and we found his current lair. It was a cave in the mountains just beyond Silvervayne forest. She told me that he could not be killed by any blade, only slowed. With this information, she gifted me a glass bottle. A bottle with a powerful rune of binding to capture the demon within.”
“Have you just put a fucking demon on my desk?”
Azerius just nodded with a grin, then carried on with his story. “With Ariel’s magical aid, I found the cave in no time. Despite the thing that lurked inside, the place was a sight to behold. I was greeted by glistening pillars of ice fashioned into large spikes, standing sentry at the entrance. The cave inside was coated in a frozen splendour that ebbed and glowed with greens and blues. As I walked through the cave, I could feel it’s ancient presence. Jack Frost didn’t hide in the shadow, nor strike from a place unseen. He strode and met me in a challenge, a dagger crudely forged from ice in each hand.”
“He sounds like a very honourable snowman.” Cassius slurred.
“Jack Frost wasn’t quite a snowman.” Azerius laughed. “He was a creature of ice. His tall, lithe form was transparent. His limbs were long and jagged. His face was slender and pointed. He wore a hundred icicles as a crown. But he was honourable, yes. He made the first move. The demon dashed towards me, with a speed that defied his size. Despite the frail appearance of Jack’s daggers of ice, they met my sword in a display glittering sparks. The demon matched my strength as we remained locked battle. I harnessed the monster within me, my eyes turning to black. With new strength flowing through me, I broke Jack’s guard and sliced through his torso. He didn’t flinch. The wound leaked then refroze immediately. What ensued was the damage you see before you.”
“You pissed him off, ay?”
“Exactly that. His rage was indomitable. He unleashed a flurry of daggers that even the monster within me couldn’t keep up with. With every blow that bit into my flesh, I could feel cold creeping into my wounds and slowing my limbs. As Jack overpowered me, I fell to my knees. The demon circled, triumphant, savouring the moment before the killing blow. As he lunged towards my throat, his two daggers aimed forward, I severed his hands with an arced swing of my sword. I struck with all of my remaining strength before he could regenerate. I brought my blade up through Jack’s chin, impaling him to the frozen ceiling. The demon was helpless as he flailed for grip on the floor. Revealing the glass bottle from beneath my cloak, and removing the arcane topper, I held it close to the creature. A burst of white light came from within and melted Jack Frost into the substance you see before you, capturing him inside.”
“So, basically… don’t smash the bottle?” Cassius laughed.
“… Don’t smash the bottle.” Azerius agreed.
And with that, the hunt was over, and Christmas was upon them. Tera joined them with a fresh bottle of Whiskey and a Santa hat that twinkled with festive lights. They all slumped back into their chairs and watched the essence of a demon swirl in the glass bottle. It was strange how something so beautiful could come from something so evil. They enjoyed the moment of serenity, for the next hunt…was always close.
And that brings The Hunter’s Christmas to an end. I hope that you have all enjoyed this one. It turned out a lot longer than I had first planned, but I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. 😛
If you enjoyed this, please check out my novella, that is now available on Amazon Kindle and free on Kindle unlimited! The Hunter: Monster Within.
I also have a series, set in the world of The Hunter, on Channillo! The Hunter: Demonic Uprising.
I will be back tomorrow with another post. Thank you all for reading!