I certainly never meant for this to happen.
I’ve been the target of dark forces and cults since I was sixteen years old. I did my best to fight them off, and had help from any number of more skilled practitioners in psychic defense and purification of dark places.
It’s people’s secrets that give evil strength. They learn to keep back what they love because they’re afraid of how they’ll be seen when it comes to the light. They’re afraid of who they’ll be if they tell the truth. And so they hide it, and Adramelech comes and takes hold of them through those secrets. She tells them they’ll never be loved, that they have to take care of themselves, and that the things they do, the lies they tell themselves, they’ll never be found out, and what’s the harm? And before they know it, they’re damned, and they find themselves at the end of one of my pikes.
It’s not that I don’t care. I do. I just can’t do anything to save them once they’ve gone over to the dark. They like to pull back their demonic form just as I’m binding them and setting them ablaze, and beg me to let them live, using their human side, their good side, talking about the good they’ve done and everyone who will miss them. I tell them I don’t want for them to suffer, but I can’t let them hurt anyone else. The people who have been sacrificed, the innocent who have been corrupted, the good men and women of the guild who have been lost because of what they’ve done, these can’t be undone, and I can’t fulfill my duty to stand against Adramelech while they yet live. And then I spark the blaze.
I’ve been doing this for twenty years now. I have my scars, lining my face, burns over my hands, arms, and chest, and scourge marks on my back. Most of my guild is dead and gone, their spirits imprisoned in Adramelech’s realm, the Underneath.
The tone of this confessional would suggest that I’m about to explain how I want peace, I want a little house in the country, a wife and kids, I want for the war to be over.
That’s simply not the case. I know what I am and who I am. I’m a witchkiller. I’ve never known anything these past twenty years except for war, and I’m in my element when I’m there, mixing it up, fighting, staying one step ahead of them.
I know it won’t last, that they’ll catch me and destroy me one of these days, that the weapons and strategies I use will be exhausted, and they’ll overwhelm me. But I also know that my guild still struggles, and that there are many in hiding, being trained up in the ways of war, preparing to take my place if I fall. And so I struggle, and so I fight. Because one day we will win, and we will cast them down into the pit.
I should mention that I have a day job. Hunting these monstrous predators doesn’t pay the bills, and it’s hard to get good intelligence on the situations of interest to the Witchkillers without some source of regular information. I’m a special agent of the Gendarmerie Imperial, the internal national police force of the Zemblan Empire. The agency has broad powers of investigation, and works with state and local law enforcement to determine the nature of crimes that affect national interests, such as domestic terrorism, assassination threats, and sedition. We often get involved with murder cases, especially if they are particularly heinous and have the potential to disrupt public faith in government.
Our name, Gendarmerie Imperial, speaks to our history as an agency. We are the arm of the Empress, and we enforce her policies. While we officially have our mandate through the laws on the books, we aren’t defined by them, and we often involve ourselves in politically sensitive issues at the behest of the Prime Minister. I’ve seen the Empress herself twice in my career, and while she may direct policy in concert with Logana Leyden, she rarely makes her own opinions known. Leyde seems to be in control of everything, but I see the intensity in those old eyes, and from the whispers I’ve heard around the office, she’s pulling all the strings from behind that dignified wall of silence.
My role as special agent is first investigational. We work with psychologists to profile and predict the patterns and behavior of violent offenders. I work in the field extensively, and have a doctorate in forensic anthropology. Crime scenes, autopsies, all the nitty gritty work, I love it, because I see the story of the killers and their victims right in front of me.
I’m also authorized as a tactical operative when needed. I’ll put on body armor and storm a building in a hostage situation; I’m equipped and qualifed with all the agency’s arsenal, and certified to drive their heavy assault vehicles. Before I joined up, I spent the years in amphibiousv assault squads around the world, rooting out foreign hotbeds, everyone who resisted the reach of Zembla in an organized way.
You may find all this hard to believe. But I don’t sleep very much, and my nighttime demon hunting is quietly endorsed by powerful allies in the agency. I also get great results and get few questions when I have to take a personal day to battle as free floating specter harassing innocents.