This is how one hunts.

One needs to equip tools. Tools do not make the hunter, but they provide the facility to surpass oneself. I don my caestus: the leather and metal straps that glove the hand. Mine are adorned with blades and spikes and were my brother’s gift to me. It’s fitting that I use them now.

When one hunts something more powerful than oneself, fear becomes a great beast that stalks you in its turn. Recognise your fear but practise detachment and equanimity; your mind must be free to focus on the tasks at hand.

Set aside reservations; you are a hunter with a role in society. You are paid well. 30 pieces of silver is often an adequate security for me. Yes, he is my brother, but he threatens this fine city amongst the clouds. There is no passage to our home here, no matter the depth of his search, the extent of his threats.

Alabaster is a soft stone; I remember Gabriel, when he first put on the mask, complaining about the care needed to avoid scratching its surface. The claws of my caestus easily cut through the alabaster of his mask, the only resistance coming from the parting of flesh and the catching of blade on bone.

Your heart may scream against your actions — it is a hunter’s task to ignore that shout, to bring to bear all of one’s skill upon one’s prey. Sorrow and shock do not serve you well when you need to act — they must be put aside, ignored, until you’re free to hide your sight behind tears.

Payment in full only comes upon successful completion of the hunt. There is no place for a failed hunter.

5 thoughts on “Steadfast”

  1. Ah! a Quel! (that’s either a seQuel or a preQuel, I don’t think I can tell for sure – I am guessing prequel though).

    This is a story about a sister (I presume, from the previous fic) hunting her brother. She has been hired to do this, but she is both afraid of him and conflicted about the hunt. But her pride and understanding of her role leads her to [catch/kill/scar] her brother, possibly fulfilling the contract.

    I like this piece (I need to add this as I’m about to nitpick on it), I really like the world you are building and the subtle unreality of it all. It is very engaging.

    I like the distant, lecturing tone of the piece – an action piece told as a tutorial on the role of the hunter, this is very clever. The changing point of view, roaming between “I”, “you” and “one” does confuse me as a reader – I can see why it would be done (the constant deliberate distancing of the killer from the emotions of the kill, but drawn into the “I’ again and again), but it makes for confusing reading. I would suggest maybe tossing one of the forms (the “one” or the “you” and switching more deliberately and less frequently?

    I like the sentence:
    “When one hunts something more powerful than oneself, fear becomes a great beast that stalks you in its turn.” – but the change from “one” to “you” in mid-pace is a good example of what I was getting to above.

    “30 pieces of silver is often an adequate security for me.” – the sentence confused me a little – following after “you are paid well”, this sentence implies that you can be secured for as little as 30 silver – this seems contradictory. I would have preferred “30 pieces of silver are needed to even secure my services” if you see what I mean. (Also, would have spelt “thirty” personally, but not a big issue).

    I was intrigued by the last sentence – has the job been done or not? I guess not, since I think it is the prequel where Gabriel gets his scars.

    This is a great series, I look forward to more! Thank you!

    1. Using both “you” and “one” is probably sloppy of me; I think you’re right, I should have chosen one and stuck with it. And I see what you’re saying with the 30 pieces of silver: they way it’s said makes it sound cheap.

      Thanks for the comments! I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.

  2. Clearly for me a prequel to your last although the tone is so different I don’t see much significance in that.

    I think I enjoyed the analytical breakdown of tools and technique – imposed the kind of coldness on the character and philosophical nature of it.

    The paragraph about fear and fear doing the hunting is fantastic. And the general description of the hunting and how it feels really work for me.

    I think there is too much story in this story to really work for me – the oblique references to his threats against the city and desire to return to our world; the Judas references and implied shared history ; the unusual weapon; the unusual mask; the sibling relationship.

    I had two specific problems – the claws going through the alabaster like it isn’t there may be literally realistic but doesn’t ‘look’ right in my head. Also I too would like to see the end resolved more – I assumed that she could have (but didn’t by choice) killed her brother – thus she failed at the hunt for personal reasons and had to leave the city and the profession. However none of this actually clear and I would have liked it to be.

    In all I enjoyed it, but it’s mixing with the other entry didn’t really work for me – I’d like to see it as a stand alone hunter vs Magi sword and sorcery piece – this is the way it works best for me.

  3. I enjoyed this piece, especially the way the hunter’s personal story is juxtaposed with the didactic descriptions about hunting.

    I enjoyed it more on second and third readings, as I was distracted by its prequel nature during the first reading. Specifically, I struggled with the fantastic city in the clouds, pieces of silver and hunter’s garb (e.g. caestus), when the previous story talked about the hunter and her brother being in New York.

    Like Parfles, I had a problem with the “you” and “one” mixing, and with the value of 30 pieces of silver. But, those issues aside, I thought it was a great piece and left me interested and curious about the world. I also like the main character a lot, and want to know more about her story, past and present. Thanks.

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