The pale moonlight pushes through the thick foliage, illuminating the forest floor. Broken twigs and fallen leaves litter the floor, covering the moistened soil. It rained earlier today, confirming that summer is over in Wychelm.
With careful steps I make my way through the dense woods. It’s all I’ve been doing for a while now. Wychelm is covered with forests, all that span for leagues. If you don’t know how to navigate them you could enter one at the capital, and end up at the shore. Thankfully, I know what I’m doing. If I continue in this direction, I’ll end up at the Wise Man’s lake within a few hours. Once there I can scan again and find out where Noah is now.
Once again I find myself thinking that this is a futile mission; how am I, a mage, supposed to track and capture Noah Falstraad, a notorious thief? I do know how to navigate forests and how to travel with stealth, but he has a hell of a lot more experience than me. For a month now I’ve tracked him, chasing him across the country with the help of magic. I’ve never been able to get close to him though, he moves fast and erratically. It’s horribly frustrating, but it makes a nice change from lying around in a depressed state…
Sighing as I step over a fallen tree, I realise just how ridiculous it is. I fought in a war. I battled Arch-Daemons and lived to tell the tale. Surely I’m better than a thief!
I laugh lightly, not quite believing that... If I were I would have caught him by now. Though, it may be best. I haven’t had a real fight in so long. Everybody thinks I’m dead, so no Daemons have hunted me, and no Daemon-Worshippers have tried to sacrifice me. In a strange way, I miss the constant threat. It was ever-present in the war, and for a while before it. It kept me on my feet. If I were attacked now, I doubt I would even survive.
Cursing loudly, I feel myself falling. With a thud, I hit the ground. I quickly pull a dagger from my belt and sit up, scanning my surroundings. “Who’s there?” I demand, squinting in the darkness. Only now do I realize that traveling through a forest at night is problematic…
When no answer comes, I look to my feet. My ankles are caught in vines. Feeling stupid, I cut myself free and stand. “No Daemons,” I mumble. “Just nature…”
Deciding it is time to rest for the night, I lean my back against a tree and slide down to the floor. I can only hope that I am out of sight here, there’s no way to know for sure. I doubt anybody, or anything, will be out here this late. It should be okay to rest here until morning. That way I’ll get to the Wise Man’s Lake long before midday and get to freshen up before finding out where Noah is now.
Yawning, I pull off my backpack and rummage inside. My supplies are running short, so I allow myself only a small amount of food and a few sips of water. It does little to sate my hunger, but it’s enough to keep me going. I make a mental note to stock up at the next town Noah leads me to.
I use my pack as a makeshift pillow and lie down, looking up at the sky that is only just visible through the leaves. I try not to pay attention to how painfully uncomfortable this is. Instead, I grab my dagger and hold it in my hand. It’s an old dagger. The blade is basically blunt, and the handle is so worn it is uncomfortable to hold, but still, it’s protection. I refuse to sleep without a weapon in hand.
Another dreamless sleep, my favourite type. Even as a child I hated dreaming. It usually takes me to a better life than my own, meaning that waking up would be very disappointing.
No disappointment today though. Just determination to find Noah and get what I need from him.
Grimacing at the back pain, I sit up. I miss sleeping in beds, hopefully I can have a comfortable night’s sleep soon. It depends on where Noah goes. He last went to a town two weeks ago, but only stayed for two days. I couldn’t find him before he left the town. If I had found him, I might have the Arch-Daemons Spell Book by now…
“Don’t dwell on mistakes,” I sigh, slinging my pack on and standing. Without delay, I begin to walk, knowing the Wise Man’s Lake isn’t far off. It’s a very beautiful lake that spans across most of Wychelm. The lake is very wide, but thankfully there are numerous bridges across. I hope that Noah doesn’t cross it though. The capital city is on the other side.
I hate that city with a passion as it is the home of our pathetic excuse for a king. It’s also home to the Royal Guard, most of which hate mages. After the war ended a year ago, Wychelm grew to hate their once loved mages… It’s sad really. We save all of their lives and as a result we’re hated, forced out of the country and imprisoned without reason.
Shaking my head, I continue walking. No good will come from thinking about how corrupt this country is. I need to focus on my mission; finding Noah Falstraad and then finding that spell book.
The forests are a lot more forgiving during the day. A lot prettier too. Looking around as I walk, I spy a squirrel running up a tree. I can’t help but to wonder what it’s like to be a squirrel. Surely it’s a lot easier than being a human? I’m pretty sure a squirrel’s only goal in life is to survive, stock up nuts and whatever else they do… Why can’t my life goals be that simple? Simply surviving has never been good enough for me. Instead I have to thrive in life, not just stroll through it!
After a few more hours of walking, I reach the Wise Man’s lake. Its beauty is breath taking, even on this dull day. It flows gently today, thankfully. Placing my pack down, I look around, making sure nobody is nearby. I pull out my bottles from my pack, filling each up with lake water. Before putting them back in my pack, I mumble a purifying spell.
Despite being a mage, born with magical powers, I’ve picked up a few spells. Ice and wind magic is only really useful during combat, which is unfortunate as I haven’t had much combat since the war.
Magic in Wychelm has always been present. Some here are born with magical powers, like myself. Others practice it, which is a lot riskier. The majority of Demonic Worshippers use spells contrary to magical gifts. It kind of explains why they’re so… moronic.
Checking once more for anybody nearby, I begin to strip off before wading into the river. I sigh gently as the water washes gently over me, washing away the sweat and the dirt. I don’t spend too long in the river out of fear of somebody seeing me, or attacking me. I don’t want to die naked.
I dry myself the best I can with my shirt before pulling fresh clothes from my pack. I put on black jeans and a black shirt, thankful for the room in my pack. It’s enchanted to fit in a lot of things whilst remaining light. It’s amazingly useful, and I’d be lost without it.
Before putting on my socks and boots, I do some routine exercise. It takes work to keep my body toned, but it’s worth it. It helps with fighting, running and countless other things. I have a handsome, somewhat angular face with dark brown eyes. My hair is the same colour as my eyes. I have an athletic body type, toned but not too muscular. I’m quite pale however, which is why I try not to be seen without clothes…
Dressed and clean, I sit beside the lake and pull a map of Wychelm out of my bag. Hovering my hand over the map, I whisper his name over and over; “Noah Falstraad, Noah Falstraad, Noah Falstraad.” While doing this, I think of him. He has thick black hair that’s incredibly messy, kind of cute, but mostly messy. He has piercing dark blue eyes and-
The map lights up suddenly, a dot over a nearby town, unfortunately on the other side of the lake. I squint, reading the small writing. Dalmerton.
“Oh fuck,” I curse. Why Dalmerton? Why did he have to go there? Of all the places in Wychelm…
Sighing, I pack the map away and stand. I would rather cut a finger off than go back there, but I have to. I have to complete my mission.
When was the last time I was in Dalmerton? Maybe a year ago. I still remember the first time I was there; just over two years ago…
The road was worn, made of cobblestone. Most of the stones were lose and incredibly dirty. The road seemed very isolated too. Few trees were in sight; it was mostly just empty fields. Ahead I could see the town. Daniel told me we were going to Dalmerton; a place I had never visited. We were both seventeen and had been traveling together for almost two years. Like a lot of mages did, we travelled Wychelm searching for work and for Daemons and Worshippers to vanquish. Despite all the constant danger and having no home, it was a good life. With Daniel, everything was good…
“Remind me why we’re going here,” I sighed, glancing over to my partner.
He smiled, taking my hand in his. “Because I haven’t been home in a long time… I want you to see the place where I grew up,” he told me. He quietly added another reason. “Also, I want to visit my parent’s graves. It’s been too long.”
Nodding, I felt bad for asking so rudely why we were going. “I understand,” I told him.
As we continued walking on the hot day, I caught the smell of fire. I looked around, not seeing any. Perhaps it was a fire Daemon?
“Holy fuck,” Daniel whispered, beginning to run suddenly, dropping my hand.
I frowned, instinctively running by his side. As we ran and approached the town, I noticed it; thin pillars of smoke rising from the town, quickly growing thicker. Cursing under my breath, I sped up as Daniel did, praying that it was just a fire and that the town wasn’t under attack.
As we approached the road into the town, it became apparent that Dalmerton was being ransacked by Daemons. Standing guard was a large, spider like daemon. It was about as tall as myself but twice the width. It had a thick body but long, thin legs that ended on sharp points. Countless eyes stared at us, black and unblinking.
“Out of the way,” Daniel snapped, conjuring a ball of fire in his hand and hurling it at the Daemon. The Daemon jumped suddenly, dodging the fireball and landing closer to us. I pulled a dagger from my belt and held it in my right hand while allowing my magic to flow into my right hand. Running at the daemon, I threw a spike of ice deep into it’s disgusting body whilst hacking at a leg. It fell and writhed slightly on the floor before being still. I grimaced, jumping back as Daniel took advantage of the Daemon’s loss of limb. He held his hand to the Daemon’s face, fire flying from his hand in a scorching torrent of heat.
With a terrifying shriek, the Daemon dropped, leaving the smell of burned hair in its wake…
“Good job,” I told Daniel. He ignored me, running into Dalmerton.
I was shocked by how nice the town was. The paths were made of cobblestone, which was a luxury few towns of Wychelm had. Unlike the pathing leading to Dalmerton, this was clean and even with very few lose stones. Even the lose ones didn’t look shabby, instead they brought an aesthetic feeling to the streets. The houses and shops were well made too, tall and well decorated, made of very nice wood. The town felt very much like the capital, just without the corrupt Royal Guard prowling the streets…
Daniel ran straight into the streets as I saw a nearby house on fire. Stood nearby was somebody who was obviously a worshipper; he wore black robes that covered his entire body, his hood was down however, showing his bald head and scarred face. I ran towards him, and he saw me coming.
With a puff of black smoke, a sword appeared in his hand. He ran at me, swinging it towards my head. I ducked easily, slicing at his thigh with my dagger. It cut deep, through the robe and into skin. He screamed angrily, swinging back around but missing again. I took advantage of this, kicking him where I cut. He dropped to the floor and I knelt beside him.
“What are you low life worshippers doing here?” I asked. He just glared, staring at me and clutching his bleeding leg. “Don’t want to talk?” I asked, pouting mockingly. “That’s unfortunate, guess I’ll just have to kill you… I would torture the information out of you, but I’m sure there are plenty more of you to kill,” I told him. Placing my hand over his heart, I sent a blast of ice through him. One second he was breathing, the next he was still.
I turned my attention to the burning building. Jogging to it, I began blasting it with wind, smiling as the flames quickly extinguished. Once the fire was out, I scanned my surroundings. It seemed to have calmed down quickly! A few blocks away there was still a pillar of smoke but it was the only one I could see. On the street I was on I couldn’t see any worshippers, just a few scared civilians and a few dead people.
“Daniel,” I gasped, quickly realising I hadn’t seen him since we came into Dalmerton. “Daniel?” I shouted, fear stabbing through me like a blade. I began running, desperately looking for him. As I turned a corner I hit right into him.
“Damien!” He said with a sigh of relief. I grinned as he hugged me. “I’m so glad you’re okay. I’m sorry for leaving you.”
I pulled away from the hug, kissing him gently on the lips. “Don’t worry about it, we’re both okay.” He nodded, smiling. “What happened here? Did you find out?” I asked.
He nodded and began walking down the street, holding my hand. “It was an invasion, by Daemonic worshippers,” he told me. I decided not to mention how obvious that was. “We’re going to the town hall; somebody has called a meeting of mages.” I frowned at that. What kind of person would call that? “I’m not sure what’s going on here Damien, but I want to help. Dalmerton was my home,” he went on. “Those worshippers attacked this town, and they’ll likely attack another. I want to help stop them, but I understand if you don’t want to.”
“Daniel I’ll help you,” I told him without hesitation. “I’m staying by your side as long as you’ll let me.” He smiled at that, but said nothing.
We walked through the town in silence. Thankfully, there seemed to be no more daemons or worshippers. Why had they left so fast? Perhaps they were outnumbered, but still… Attacking Dalmerton just seemed stupid, unless they were trying to scare people.
After a few blocks we reached a large building. It looked very professional, made of different types of stones where most other buildings were made of wood. As we entered, I glanced behind me, noticing an elegant looking clock tower across the street.
The entrance hall was large, with a high roof. Candles were lit in tall candelabras around the room, giving it warm lighting. From a door came a tall guy. He had short, sandy blonde hair and a cute face. His eyes were light blue, and stared right at us. “Are you all that came?” He asked, frowning.
“Don’t sound too disappointed,” I snapped. He looked taken aback.
“Sorry,” he said, walking over to us. “I just thought that there were more mages in Dalmerton…”
Daniel shrugged. “I think that attack scared a lot of them, they won’t want to help strike back. That is, assuming you want to strike back?”
The guy nodded and grinned, holding out a hand to Daniel. “My name is Jojen, and I do want to strike back. It’s my mission to wipe out every Daemon worshipper in Wychelm.”
Daniel laughed, shaking his hand and letting go of mine. “I’m Daniel, and this is my partner Damien.”
“It’s very nice to meet you both,” Jojen smiled. “I’m sure we’re going to become very good friends…”
And we did. It took a while, but the three of us did, along with some other mages. We became very good friends who would come to start a war.
Shaking my head, I begin to walk, remembering that there is a bridge nearby. I should be able to get to Dalmerton within a few hours, and find Noah there.
I won’t let him evade me again!