It was a few days before Veron led his horse aside along the road as he approached what looked to be the Terrasylvae castle. Further on the village for Terrasylvae was nearby to what looked like a garrison building which seemed to call to him and invite him to join. As he approached the garrison, there seemed to be a hustle of people equipped with swords and rapiers going to and from the garrison, some practicing with each other while others were conversing. Nearby the garrison was a small stable with a few horses housed within. He led his horse toward the stable and handed off the beast to the tender that happily took his horse along and greeted Veron, welcoming him to the Shire. Veron nodded his response, then looked back toward the garrison; there were still people gathering from the village, and it looked like everyone was gathering near a pavilion with someone atop the highest point guiding and calling over everyone to listen.
“Come, everyone, we have much to discuss, make it quick and listen well,” the speaker who beheld the high ground among the group. He was wearing a delicately designed tunic, purple accents flared to provide the elegant design with silver threads to complete the look.
Once everyone had silenced, the speaker continued, “Thank you for your attention. There are still reports from our spies that Blackkoven have strangely disappeared from their camp. Ul’vade and the rangers are watching Woodland as we speak, they have not spotted any as of yet. Be on your top guard, we’re going to need someone to speak with the denizens of the forest. This being speaking with Sylvanus, Haute, and Titania. Anyone want to volunteer?”
People seemed to shuffle uncomfortably, it seemed like to Veron these denizens the speaker mentioned are somewhat intimidating. He rose his hand, and the speaker gazed in his direction. “I’ll speak with Haute.” His voice was crisp and loud, the sound could carry through any environment and a hint of a small accent could be heard in comparison to the speaker’s.
Taken aback, the people before him looked behind to see who had spoken. The speaker atop the platform nodded, then asked “Do I know you from somewhere?”
Veron shook his head, “I don’t believe so. I am Veron Tepes, son of Vlad Tepes, I was contracted by the priest from the village of Yorkshire to investigate this Haute you have mentioned.” The speaker looked surprised, and with a slight look of recognition, he asked, “Priest? You mean Priest Tenzin?”
Veron nodded, he brought out his missive the priest had given him and walked toward the front of the pavilion, handing over the paper to the elegantly dressed man. He examined the parchment briefly, recognized his handiwork, then handed it back, looking at Veron’s eyes.
“Welcome to the Order of the Rose garrison for Terrasylvae, I am Damian,” he held out his hand in greeting toward Veron.
“Pleasure to finally meet you, good sir,” Veron responded, accepting his hand which turned from shaking into being coaxed elsewhere.
“Come with me, I’ll give you all the information you’ll need for meeting Haute,” Damian said, leading Veron away.
Suddenly a quick fleeting scout appeared from the forest, panting heavily as he approached the gathered group of fighters.
“Blackkoven has been spotted.”
Damian nodded, the rest of the group gathered themselves to become ready to move.
“Everyone, follow Rhiannon’s orders, I need to give this man the required information to summon Haute before Blackkoven’s men do,” Damian called everyone’s attention, who then responded willingly to an officer who held up her hand calling over everyone, while Damian invited Veron to swiftly follow.
“We haven’t much time, come, here are the required items to summon him,” Damian rushed into his office, and seemed to have these items memorized and hidden safely as the spot he retrieved the items from were not easy to spot. Veron began putting the items into his pouch one-by-one; a small candle, a vial of incense, strangely dried leaves, and some flint and tinder to alight the candle. The leaves crunched slightly, even as Veron attempted to place these gently into his satchel.
“Light the candle after you announce your presence and request Haute, after that it’s up to Haute. His den is in the darkest part of the forest within a cave on the furthest side. It’s up to you if you want to join us in fighting, but please be aware the enemy is out there and they are merciless. Stay safe young Veron,” Damian half saluted him, and quickly took his leave to address the leaving troops entering the forest into battle.
Veron watched the troop disappear into the veil of the bright forest, and then addressed his own direction after them, making his way toward the direction of where Haute was mentioned. Because it was still midday, the sun glistened softly as the leaves gently whispered their secrets as Veron stalked through it. Sounds of battle seemed to rise above the forest and make their way unto Veron’s ears, but then fade just as quickly as it came. As he made his way to the cave the sounds of war seemed to fade, and the ambience of birds and other wild creatures faded just as quickly. The entire forest visibly turned shades darker with each step taken.
Veron eventually came upon a strangely colored boulder which significantly marked the area, the cave close by upon examining his surroundings further his surroundings almost unable to comprehend due to the amount of thick darkness. He placed the candle upon the boulder, then hesitated with the dried leaves as they crumpled slightly. There was a slight noise, tentatively awaiting with baited breath. Veron swiftly drew his one sword and aimed it effortlessly as a strange branch was lowered along the same angle, easily deflected by his blade. He then realized it wasn’t a branch, but a strange appendage as it revealed itself while his eyes attuned to it. From out of the shadow this appendage was attached to a strange creature who seemed to be covered in a carapace armor all throughout its body, even including the hair that was draped into small strands of jagged spears that seemed to move with a mind of its own; spots of glowing purple emanated from the small openings of the skin lining each piece of armor up unto and including the burning purple glow emanating from its eyes.
It hissed upon recognizing the blade deflecting its attack easily and it retracted the strange thing which disappeared into the shadows behind it. “So, you were the one sent to ‘retrieve me’. How utterly displeasing. I was hoping for someone more challenging.” The voice coming from the creature was oddly feminine and sounded like it echoed throughout his skull, like it was talking inside his mind. She disappeared into the shadow again, at this point Veron had dropped the dried leaves and held both blades at the ready. The shadows were concealing the creature well, making it difficult to determine her next move. Flashes of light seemed to occur every time she would attempt a strike, making it easy to deflect as the light would usually be where the strange appendage would strike. The attacks were coming quicker, becoming more challenging to deflect, and it was nigh impossible to strike considering only the appendage had been visible for each strike.
“I’ve toyed with you long enough, time to find someone worthier of my attention,” her voice echoed within his mind. Suddenly pain shot down both his arms causing him to not only drop his blades but scream in anguish. He looked down as flashes of purple-white light emanated from his chest. He realized after a few moments, he was being impaled by two of her appendages, both going through muscle and bone. He could hear her shallow breathing very closely behind her.
“Do not come looking for me if you somehow think you will survive this, young human. I am not of this world, and I intend to take over it, through another human, or by myself. Haute will no longer control me soon enough.” Her whispered voice still haunted his pain-addled brain, the flashes of light ceased and her appendages were removed, leaving his body limp against the forest floor beside the summoning boulder. His brain was swiftly trying to understand what was happening, blood was being lost at an alarming rate, he lost feelings within his hands, and his arms would not budge, no matter what command his brain feverishly gave them.
“Aww, and I thought you were doing just fine,” another voice echoed out to him, something different, almost taunting and pitying him. The demon appeared before him, his sorrow gaze met Veron’s as Veron fought to stay awake. “No, now don’t go to sleep. Promise me something? I’ll help you if you help me, alright?”
Veron’s brain forced his head to agree, his voice was lost as he tried to speak. The demon pressed his hand against Veron’s mouth as if to silence his attempt to speak, “No, there’s no need to speak, I can see your soul… so juicy… so tempting. Take a taste of your blood, young one. It’ll be the last thing you’ll enjoy.” He pooled a small amount of Veron’s blood into his hands, pouring it into Veron’s mouth. The taste was bitter, almost sour, and it was then he realized his hand was brushing off the excess liquid from his mouth. He looked down, the holes that were once scars from her impalement were no longer visible, the blood staining everywhere else, showing proof of their existence once. He stood before the demon who was observing his recognition of a miracle of being alive again. But then he realized how cold he felt, and his heart no longer seemed to beat its merry tune. He looked at the demon with a confused look.
The demon smirked, “Of course, now you question my method! Well, you’re alive, aren’t you? Now you’re more able to control my prize, but hurry! Others are looking for her too!” He disappeared with a cackle as Veron regained his blades, and his senses.