Upon reaching the others, Veron’s horse matched speed while they went along, hoping to find a nearby town to aid in treating the wounded. Rain continued to address the group, at the speed they were going it felt like pebbles being flicked onto any revealing skin. A few meters along the road the party came across a small cottage. It seemed rundown and hardly worth the effort of intruding. They left it and continued along, the rain fading as the night stretched onward.
Eventually they came unto a town enclosed in cheaply raised wood logs aligned to become the walls of the town, spikes crowning each wooden pillar. The entrance was watched by the townsmen, equipped with a sword or pike of their choice and a torch for visibility. The guard recognized the party, and signaled his cohort to allow them through. The horses trotted through the town, the mud beneath them splashing as they went. They came unto a chapel where within was provided a place of healing and rest in more than one form. The priest approached the group as those who were able dismounted their horses, going to help each of the wounded. Veron took his father who was leaning up against his horse’s neck uncomfortably and as though he had not been conscious for most of the trip.
The priest went to help Veron, lifting and carrying Vlad inside while the two hunters slowly and carefully made their way up the steps into the chapel behind them. Upon entering it was dark and musky, frail candles lit throughout the place flickering hesitantly to dispel the shadows that hung everywhere else. Veron was led into a room by the priest with a few beds that were comfortably offered and tended by another who beheld several tools and vials beside him, all seeming to be used for medicinal purposes. The hunter also took a bed, sighing as his body comfortably began its healing process.
“You’ve done God’s work my friends! Now allow us to return the favor,” the priest’s voice was bellowing and melodic, he gently rested his hand against Veron, enticing him to leave the room. He did the same to the other hunter as well, looking at both men with equal time. His eyes had the soul that burned brighter than the sun, and the smile to warm even the coldest of people. Veron left the chapel as instructed into the gloom of a cold, damp night. He left for the inn, leading his horse as he went a few meters down the road, placing his horse in the stables beside the building before entering inside to rest for the night.
Morning broke over quickly with the smell of slight early morning frost, crisp and bitter. The townspeople began to pour out from their homes, going to their places of work, awakening the slumbering town as the sun warmed the soil. Stretching from a lackluster of sleep and being stiff, Veron clambered out of his bed, his armor still on, the satchel and weapons set aside while he slept. He replaced these items to where they were before and left the inn going toward the chapel to check on those he left injured within.
Upon entering there seemed to be a small prayer group forming for the morning, the sunlight beaming through the windows glimmering with what could only be described as a holy gleam, basking the group with blessings. Veron’s weapons clamored as he knelt, the echo being absorbed into the walls as he waited for the prayer to finish. A resounding noise came from the group, and movement shuffled them apart, making Veron identify the priest from before who was buried within the group. He approached the priest who identified and smiled upon recognizing him.
“My son! Your father is healing well, he is well blessed and watched over,” he addressed Veron, gently coaxing him to follow the priest as they went toward where his father was resting. Veron peered into the room, his father bandaged and immobilized, but resting. His breathing sounded normal, however he could not tell considering there was no noise like what was heard before. He also noticed the other hunter was no longer in the other residing bed, and looked at the priest to question.
“That one had already left this morning,” the priest responded to Veron’s gaze. “He received a letter this morning when he awoke. He still needs to rest, however. May the Lord bless him on his journey.” He made a cross with his hands and then raised them upward toward the heavens. Veron silently nodded in response.
The priest revealed a letter from within the sleeve of his gown, and handed it to Veron, suddenly, “This was given to me this morning, and I would like your help in this matter, my dear boy.” Veron opened it slowly, revealing within inscribed an urgent request:
To whom it would concern,
The Order of the Rose has reported several sightings and dealings with a demon called ‘Haute’. It is further inquired and speculated that several curses have been placed by this demon unintentionally by those who summoned him. It is by our request that an investigation for boundary and concealment be carried out forthwith before any more damage can be dealt.
The priest watched as Veron read the letter, and once he had finished he commented, “Lord Damian is a friend of mine, and the Order of the Rose which he is a part of has been dealing with this demon for quite some time. I assume something got out of hand recently, I am too old to travel to the Terrasylvan Woodland and consecrate the land to banish the demon. In my stead, would you be willing to?”
Veron looked at his father still breathing shallowly and calmly, then looked back at the priest. His eyes sustained their brilliance, and the smile of hope continued to wear across his wizened face. He agreed by nodding his answer to the priest, and shook his hand.
“Thank you, my dear boy! Come with me, we shall bless your blades and give you holy water for your journey. Do you remember the ritual to banish demons?” the priest led the way, going into the storage for the chapel, leaving Veron to wait just outside the door and returning with a golden vial full of blessed water. Veron placed this vial within his satchel, and followed the priest further, taking his blades out of their sheath. A mumble here, a flick of holy water there, and the blades began to glow for a brief second, seeming to mend any damage or scratch beheld upon their sharp surfaces. The priest looked up from his knelt position at Veron. His face beheld a serious tone, “May blessings follow you as you travel.”
With a few reminders and a prayer, Veron left the town astride his horse, passing by the guards from last night who silently nodded and saluted as he went.
Far off in the distance, within the Woodland forest before the sun had risen, the rain continued to pour, giving its opinion with flashes of light and deep growling of thunder. A figure sloshed through the mud and muck in this forest, determined to find his destination and swiftly. The flash of blades reflected the lightning as he revealed them. He approached the marked destination and began the ritual. He placed five small candles in a circle surrounding him equidistant from each other, then with one of the blades, he gently opened his hand and began drawing lines between each candle using his blood. After this, he knelt in the middle of the circle, blades digging into the soil before him in an ‘x’, bowing his head as he whispered the incantation.
Suddenly the candles flared to life, the blood between them sizzling and popping in revolt against the rain. A soft cackle could be heard throughout the forest. The rain seemed to calm almost instantly upon recognition of this new presence.
“Who summons the great Haute?” A voice boomed throughout the forest, attempting to be menacing. The figure hardly flinched, keeping his stance as he answered.
“My name is Nervon, I have been sent by Merek Blackkoven,” the figure’s voice was menacing and stern. He paused after stating his master’s name. The demon gasped in response, recognizing the name.
“Oh! Little Merek, how is he? What’s he up to these days? We used to talk so much and have so much fun,” the demon seemed to suddenly ramble, appearing before Nervon as he did so fading into view. After a few more sentences, the demon realized his mistake, cleared his throat and scrunched his face back to its serious tone. “What does Merek insist of me this time?”
Nervon rolled his eyes, typical demons. He withdrew his blades from the ground, the candles still flickering, the blood no longer where he had placed it, and the wound no longer visible. “He sent me to retrieve a being you had promised to have ready.”
Haute sighed, covering his face as though he just remembered to do something that instant and regretted his decision. “Tell Little Merek he didn’t specify a time or place for this creature’s delivery. Also, I think it would be fun to have you search for it yourself!” He cackled with delight as the thought crossed his mind, and faded from view, the candles went out as a ripple of force seemed to cross the entire forest, the leaves protesting as rain returned upon their surface. Nervon replaced his blades back in their sheath, gathered the candles and made his way out of the forest to report to Blackkoven. Behind him, purple glowing eyes followed his movement, watching silently hissing softly to itself.