But that night something had made me opt for Salisbury Crags, Arthur Seat’s idiot offspring, alone but for the wind tangling my hair and the scent of damp earth. Something niggled at the back of my mind and then fled, giggling, before I could catch it.
I had reached the Radical Road, the pathway that curved around the Crags like an old scar carved out of reptilian skin. My way up to the top was lit by the mauve phosphorescence of corpse candles, behind and below me lay the rust coloured miasma of city lights, like old blood on a corpse long dead.
As I climbed, a breeze ruffled over my skin, carrying with it the scent of spring and the promise of another sullen east coast Edinburgh summer. My menagerie had gone on ahead and was even now sending back images of our prey: a biker gang, lured here by the siren song of strong drugs leavened with S and M action but who were destined for so much more before the night was out.
I stopped for a moment all the better to savour what I had been sent; the weight of the gang’s murderous past and present as plain to my little dark-adapted eyes as Jacob Marley’s chains, each link a misdeed that could not be undone, an outrage that could not be forgiven. The huge and bloated elementals that had attached themselves to each and every gang member were testimony to that.
Against the darkness, the dim glamour of their crimes signalled their presence to me and mine like a beacon. But tonight there was something else hunting in the Park of the Holy Rood, something infinitely worse than a dozen Hell’s Angels painting the city blood red.
Something worse, even, than me.
The corpse-candles were still buzzing around my head, intent on leading me to my death over the Crags and exposing my position to whatever was out there. The wind turned chill, reminding me that I still had my own monsters to find and revenge to wreak.
After all, as my old mother might have said if I’d ever met her: “Do unto others before they do unto you.”