Aesic Dyonn is a Farseer. A souleater with the ability to cut a person’s soul from their body with a mere look. His kind are feared by all, whether they deserve that fear or not.
Valin Amatta is the first person in a long time to approach him directly, despite her fears. So when she comes asking for someone to help investigate the murder of her father, he is compelled to help her, but he finds more on their journey than he bargained for.
My birth was ordinary; full of a woman’s pain and blood. I didn’t mean to kill her, but I was frightened and I was dying.
I’m told it was a hard pregnancy from the beginning. That’s why the Souleater was there. That’s why I was discovered so early.
You never call a Souleater that to their face, even though it’s partly true. Guardians they call themselves, and I suppose that is partly true as well.
Some Guardians are Healers, using the souls they collect to mend bones and wipe away disease. Some are Defenders, trained warriors who enforce the law and maintain order.
I am a Farseer. The rarest of our kind. I only have one purpose.
“He just turned down the ally!” someone shouted ahead of us. I paused in the street, hard-packed dirt firm under my boots. The Defender acting as guide for me took three steps more before he realized I had stopped. The ally ahead lead back towards the woods. The man must be trying to reach the shelter there.
I turned down the nearest street. I didn’t know this town like the locals did, but I had studied the map in detail. And I knew Gillec Niryall. I had investigated him for over a month. The man was a coward who preyed on children. He wouldn’t risk a direct confrontation.
“Farseer! We need to go this way. If he’s doubling back to his house we-”
“He’s not going that way.” I didn’t slow my pace or turn to look at him. If he decided not to follow me that was his choice. I was not his supervisor, and he was not mine.
The thud of boots told me when he started to trot to catch up. “We’re going to lose him.”
“No, we’re not,” I said quietly. Even with his panting there was no need to speak louder.
We came out at the edge of town, a clean line of buildings stopping just as abruptly as the forest began, a span of a hundred yards between both lines. I stopped just clear of the buildings. From here I had a clear line of sight for almost the whole length of the town.
The sun was near setting and there were no oil lamps this far from main street, but there was enough light to see. Calls rang out in the cold evening air from the other Defenders. The one next to me shifted his weight from foot to foot, choppy breath clouding around him. At least he was silent. I didn’t really care about his discomfort. Or his doubt. I had learned, when my instincts pulled me, I should follow. And right now they told me to wait.
A long moment passed. I centered, ready.
The calls were farther away now.
I didn’t smile as a figure slowly emerged from the shadows. He took a tentative step towards the woods, glancing right, then left.
As his face turned towards me I released. Like an arrow shot from a bow my vision zoomed towards him, until that face was all I could see. Dark short beard, equally dark eyes, scar above his left brow. He matched the sketch I had been shown. I finally had the man I had been hunting so long in my sight.
I let my vision fuzz on the edges, seeing past the man’s skin to what lay beneath. Wispy, white, the thin gauze outline of his soul was clear.
The man took off running towards the trees. If he reached those, if he was able to escape my line of sight, he would be free, but it was far too late for that.
The bindings of the soul to the body are many, but they are thin. Wires as fine as spider webs. I severed them with a sweep of thought and the man’s body fell, his momentum causing him to slide into the dirt, limbs flopping, lifeless.
His soul twisted as I gathered the thin layers into a more compact bundle dragging it back to me. I was used to the impact of absorption. The trick was to let out a breath as the energy entered. I barely shuddered as the man’s soul disappeared through my heavy wool overcoat and into my body.
It was over.
I drew in a deep breath. The bite of cold cleared my head. I turned to the Defender still standing next to me. His eyes were fixed on the body lying sprawled halfway across the clearing to the woods.
“I trust you can take care of the body,” I said, more to snap the man out of his wide eyed stare than to really ask the question.
He glanced at me and swallowed hard when he realized I was looking at him.
I turned away from him and walked back down the street. I could feel the energy of a new soul trickling down through my limbs, but not the rush I used to feel. Perhaps I was becoming jaded, but all I felt at this moment was tired.