After the Darkness, a flood of strange stories surfaced concerning cities that behaved more like predacious beasts than hamlets hewn of brick and glass. The most conspicuous of such a city’s attributes, which ultimately allows for a tidy paranormal categorization, lies in its eerie mobility. The “preying city” label speaks directly to a supernatural town’s capacity to mobilize its wickedness, appearing anywhere and with nary an outward sign of its intrinsic foulness. However, many Dark Scholars have been quick to point out that such cities are not endemic to the Post Noctum period (anytime after the Great Darkness), and have been reported as early as prehistoric times. For instance, the malefic and creeping city known as “Wrotha,” with its gigantic and terrible occupants—the Hanuminn—has been persistent within a number of the earliest known myth cycles, and its crawling likeness even appears painted across prehistoric cave walls, where primitive men are known to have drawn shelter from the elements.
Of course, traditional historians remand such stories of monstrous cities into the hands of folklorists, and find that the Darkness has had the troubling effect of shifting the boundaries between academia and the arcane, for after the Darkness very little is understood to be without its intrinsic strangeness.
An excerpt from Brian Cleveland’s short story, “The Tale of the Hunting City”
“The city drifted into view, revealing at first only the typical trappings of a city lost to the country side and denuded of modern attire. It was like a ramshackle rube sitting in the scrub brush of an uncombed field, patiently attending to the cultivation of weed and willow. Its humble appearance was disarming and recalled quaint memories of childhood forays into the countryside and berried thickets. But as the city was drawn more sharply against the fading sky, solidifying beyond the fragrant smokes of childhood recollection and flotsam of dream, the strange town found it difficult to conceal its perversion. It now seemed to swell from the unkempt field like a tumor of poisonous skin, threatening to reach beyond its broken buildings and cracked, weed punctured roads. It wanted to free itself into the wind, spreading spores of broken glass and wood-rot to draw together and grow in distant fields, and to haunt the open hills with the lurching forms of olden, dead houses.
I saw more of the squatting and wicked hamlets peering out from behind thickets and from between narrow hills, growing up from broken stone and weathered wood. And I knew that no human population had ever wandered those city streets, or lit lamps in its dark rooms to ward off the darkness of night, and that no men had ever carved its infant timbers into the mature shapes of houses.”