Chapter 19 – The First Attack

As you can imagine, after I found the Witches of the Night in the gardens of Tibães Monastery and saw the army that they were assembling, I was eager to discuss it with someone. Since I didn’t want to expose my family and friends to the existence of that world parallel to ours along with the dangers that could arise from that knowledge, the first person who came to mind was Alice. After all, her race seemed to be one of the targets of the Witches of the Night.

Although it was a time of much work, the next day, I left my office as soon as my working hours ended and went to the Faerie Bar. What I had discovered seemed to me too important to wait.

To my surprise, when I reached the pastry shop that served as a link between the surface world and the underground bar, I found it closed. I peeked inside and saw no signs that it had even been opened that day and the mail was piled up behind the door. Still I tried knocking on the door, but no one answered.

The main entrance to the world that existed beneath Braga was closed. After what I had seen the night before, I started to get worried. I tried to calm down by telling myself that the pastry shop could be closed for several more mundane reasons.

Fortunately, I knew of another entrance, so I didn’t have to torture myself by just imagining what could have happened.

I went to my car, parked near my office, and headed for the Bom Jesus hill. As I got closer to my destination, I began to feel some trepidation. The other entrance was near Vila Marta, the home of the Cerqueira family. I didn’t know to what extent Henrique Cerqueira knew of my involvement in the escape of the trolls that were used as slaves in the family vineyard, but I didn’t want to be seen all the same.

Fortunately, I came to the thicket that hid the second entry without encountering anyone.

After penetrating the vegetation, I found the narrow cave which would lead me into the hidden world beneath Braga. A few yards ahead, where the passage began to widen, I expected to find a guard just as I did on my last visit; however, there was no one there.

I confess that I found it strange, even alarming, but I kept going, albeit more carefully. Had the Witches of the Night already been there?

I headed to the nearest station of the “subway” that connected the different parts of the underground city. When I got there, once again, I saw no one. I waited.

For more than half an hour, I stayed on the platform but saw no sign of other passengers or of the creature tasked with the transportation. I considered walking to the Faerie Bar, but because I didn’t knew the way through the pedestrian tunnels, I kept waiting.

After twenty minutes, I still hadn’t seen any movement, so I decided to risk it and took the only way that I knew: the tunnel of the living train.

With the help of the small flashlight that I always carried with me, given that the huge passage had no light sources, I made my way northwest. As I progressed, I kept alert to any noise, just in case the “train” was about to pass by and run me over.

For over an hour, I passed through several other stations but didn’t see or hear anything of note. My fear that the Witches of the Night and their army had gotten there increased, but there was no sign of them. It seemed that the creatures that inhabited those tunnels had simply vanished.

Finally, the lantern lit something that blocked the tunnel. I approached it carefully. Shortly after, I saw that it was reddish brown in color and realized that it wasn’t a rock slide. However, it was only when I reached it that I found out what it was: the creature that served as the “train” dead. Its hundreds of thin legs were folded along its body, and its huge, human-like face was frozen in an expression of terror and pain. Around him lay pieces of broken wood and glass, debris of the cabins that it once carried on its back as carriages.

I was now sure that something had happened, certainly an attack by the Witches of the Night. I had arrived too late to warn the inhabitants of those tunnels, but maybe I could might still provide some help. Regardless, I didn’t want to go back.

The creature occupied the entire width of the tunnel and more than half its height, so I had to climb over it to get to the other side.

As soon as my feet touched the ground again, I lit the new section of the tunnel. The scene was now completely different. Bodies of creatures of various sizes and shapes littered the floor, many of which belonging to races I had previously seen in the Faerie Bar. Some had burn marks, showing that they had been killed by flames or spells, but most appeared to have been felled by blunt weapons.

After seeing that, I considered leaving the tunnels, but changed my mind because I still thought that I could help someone and decided to keep going.

That scene repeated itself along the tunnel until I reached the next station. Then, the first bodies of ogres, goblins, ogrons, and other creatures that I knew were in the service of the Witches of the Night appeared, though in much smaller numbers than the locals. It seemed that the latter had become trapped in the tunnel due to the “train’s” body and been massacred.

That was the station I knew was nearest to the Faerie Bar, so I left the ditch where the “train” used to move and climbed up to the platform and into the pedestrian tunnels.

In the passages, there weren’t many bodies, but all the houses, rooms, and dead-end tunnels were full of dead locals.

Finally, I arrived at the Faerie Bar. The door was on the floor, so what I found inside came as no surprise. There were bodies everywhere mixed with broken tables, chairs, and cups. The counter had been destroyed, and with it, the conduct that channelled the water customers used to drink. Consequently, the liquid dripped from the ceiling directly to the floor, soaking it. The bar only wasn’t only flooded because the water flowed through a hole in the base of one of the walls.

Admirably, the door which led to the pastry shop upstairs and through it, to the surface world was closed. Despite being trapped and facing certain death, the bar customers didn’t reveal their existence to the outside world.

I searched among the bodies for anyone I knew. Two of the people who had helped me release the trolls from the Cerqueira’s farm were among the victims, but Alice, my main contact and the person of that world I knew best, was not. I hoped that she had escaped, though it was more likely that she was dead in some other place.

I thought about exploring more to look for survivors or even the Witches of the Night and their soldiers, but I quickly gave that idea up since nothing I saw indicated that there were any survivors in those tunnels, and if there were, they would have been hidden so that a simple visitor like me could never find them. On the other hand, those deaths appeared to have taken place some time before and I hadn’t seen or heard any sign that the killers were still there.

I made my way back to the outside and to the car. I just hoped that there were survivors to bury the dead.

When I got home, I had a huge argument with my wife. I had forgotten to tell her that I was going to be late for dinner and since I had no mobile service in the tunnels, she couldn’t contact me. I had to make up an excuse as I didn’t want to expose her to the strange world I was exploring. She was not entirely convinced, but at least she calmed down.

After eating my already cold dinner and helping my daughter with her homework, I went to bed. I got little sleep that night as I couldn’t help thinking what other places the Witches of the Night would attack and what I could do about it without raising my wife’s suspicions.

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