The filthy snow continued to fall all that night and for the next few days as Grim began to move through the slums of the city in hunt of his prey. As he had told the rich fool, the quarry was much harder to pin down than it would have been if it had been a half-crazed Aberrent native to the slums. This one was leaving a gruesome trail of mutilated bodies in its wake and moving on mere minutes before Grim arrived upon the scene. As such Grimm had been witness to the dying breaths of a dozen victims in the past three days as the last of their ruby blood flowed out from their torn and sundered bodies into the already filthy snow and ash they lay in.
Each time the murder would happen in the depths of a dark alley and Grim was coming to the determination that the beast held the view that what he was doing was not for the public eye, be it for shame of its acts, fear of open reprisal, or just a dislike of being seen in the form that he had been forced into. All the murders had been committed on the outskirts of the city as well, within viewing distance of the dense, foreboding forest that surrounded the town.
The most recent murder had happened in the early predawn light of the fourth day since Grim had taken the job, a time longer than most of his previous hunts, the slight change in light almost unnoticeable in the gray miasma of fog, snow, and ash that covered Grimm’s world. The corpse was that of a young girl, maybe seventeen years old. Yet she was drastically aged due to a hard life she lived in the choking, twisting confines of the poor sectors. Hard lines etched into the stone that her countenance had been forced to become. The body still twitched on occasion as Grim came upon the seen, the splattering of blood that covered the wall the girl had collapsed against glinting wet and viscous against the foul moisture the snow had left behind. Droplets of the crimson fluid would find crevices in the worn brick and drip back down the wall towards the torn corpse. Three huge gashes crossed her body from the left shoulder to her right hip, delivered so deep and with such force that the sternum and ribs had been shattered and the lungs turned into grisly tatters. The look of horror and pain locked into the girls face bespoke of the appearance of the Aberrent, a beast that had developed a fierce reputation among the poor that it preyed on.
A muffled scream tore from the mouth of the alley, setting Grim’s world on edge and throwing him into a spin that saw his blade half drawn from its scabbard, the ornate handle glinting in the feeble light shed by the streetlamp just outside the alley. There, in the mouth of the alley, looking in on the scene torn from brimstone scriptures, was a pretty woman draped in a deep green cloak with less than pristine white fox fur trimming that covered a neat, if overly ostentatious, fitted jacket and skirt of gold fabric. The tip of the bejeweled breathing apparatus she wore quivering, a delicate, white doeskin gloved hand held to it in shock and revulsion. Her bright green eyes stood open wide in terror, tears moving to the corners, but Grim could see a deep seated wonder hidden behind her reactions to the scene in the alley.
“What in the name of all the demons of hell are you doing here, Miss Wessex?” Grim hissed, the anger rolling out from behind his sturdy leather breathing mask.
“I… I…“ She stammered, the words getting caught in her throat along with the bile rising from her stomach. With an effort of will, she pulled her eyes from the disemboweled girl and looked directly into Grim’s dark eyes. Pulling an ethereal covering of haughty nonchalance around her she answered Grimm’s question. “It has been several days and you haven’t completed your end of the bargain. My father loses business partners daily due to this scandal. He sent me to remind you of your duty and to see that it gets done.”
“Your father is a fool who brought this on himself, and you are more so one for coming out into this death trap.” Grimm hissed, his words quite and vehement, but his mind was not on the conversation any longer. The sound of wet gears and the hissing of steam escaping from a pressure tank had caught his ears, sounds that stood out against the sudden lack of the normal sounds of life in the slums. With careful steps, Grim began to move out of the alley and towards the odd noises, noises that came closer with every heartbeat. The girl launched into a tirade about calling her a fool and was paying no attention to anything but Grimm, as he brushed past her and into the broken cobblestones of the main street.