Tales – The Visit

The cheery light of the fire gave off warmth, but little comfort to the man pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace. If anything the flickering light exaggerated the new lines on his face making him appear to be craggy and older, the dark circles under his eyes gave him a haunted look. With a sigh he plops into a chair and reaches for a book on the table beside him. Opening ‘The Complete Anatomie and Battlefielde Surgerie’ to a mark not quite half way through he begins to read. After a moment reading and re-reading the same paragraph he slams the book closed and stands up to pace before the fire yet again. His eyes scan briefly about the room. It lay empty and quiet except for the thump of his own boots and the crackle of the fire.

Abruptly the man stopped pacing and stomped purposefully to a nearby rack and began to arm and armor himself. He shunned noisy shiny plate and selected dark chain and ring. Carefully he checked his saber and axe before belting them on and then topped everything off with a dark blue wool cape. Once girded for battle he moved to the back room used as a stable, his spurs now ringing time to the thump of his boots. As he entered his horse nickered in greeting. “Easy Beast,” he said patting the horse on its neck. “How about you and me going on a little nighttime ride?” The horse dipped his head up and down, almost as if he was nodding, causing the man to chuckle. “Sorry about this, I know you hate these things, but tonight we need to move quietly.” With the ease of long practice he placed muffles on the horses hooves and then mounted up. Once more checking his gear and looking satisfied, he canted “In Jux Sanct” and “In Lor”, then rested for a moment to regain his energy. With a final sigh, his heart already beating stronger from adrenaline, he uttered “Kal Ort Por” and disappeared.

The man materialized in a copse of trees near where the Saboteurs used to have a safe house. He slipped into the shadows quickly and froze. He listened intently, but the only sounds were of the ocean and the nearby ferryman chanting as he hauled on the ropes toward Skara. The man moved, then ghosting through the trees and across the road, melding into the shadows from time to time as he heard movement. The normally quiet woods were thick with warriors, but the man began his training in the forests as a ranger before joining the Legion and this place was his home, and none saw him pass. He wondered at so many people skulking about in the woods. The arrogant Fallen Angles normally did not bother with stealth. Perhaps it was one of their allies trying to win favor by tracking down any of the defenders.

As he neared Ironwood, he slowed his pace even more. The smell of smoke from the fires of the invaders permeated the woods, along with another more acrid scent. “Brimstone,” the man mused. Just then a great bellow could be heard from the vicinity of the village, followed by a few ragged yells. Once again slipping into the shadows he began running through the magic needed to banish one of the fiends, fully aware that his magery was woefully inadequate for the task. It turned out not to be necessary and the warrior watched as a small troop of riders flew through the woods, pursued by a winged demon. One hapless fellow was paralyzed. His comrades did not even pause to free him, but continued fleeing. With a howl of triumph the demon pounced and rended the man limb from limb before disappearing back to the abyss with its newly acquired soul.

Unable to resist, the man rode to the grisly scene to take a look. The remains were not familiar to him, neither friend nor foe. With a shrug he prepared to mount up and leave when he noticed something…a patch or badge of red. Upon closer examination it turned out to be a black phoenix on a crimson field encircled by a symbol the Legion Saboteurs used to signify the rank of scout. Stranger and stranger the thought. Something about the phoenix tickled his memory. Briefly touching his own Black Rose symbol, the thought clicked into place. Once long ago the Black Legion, was not a mercenary company, but a military legion, the Legion of the Rose. He wondered at this new development and decided to go and research what remained of the old records from the Arcadian Empire days, to see if there was any mention of a Legion with that symbol.

He sighed again. Demons, vampires, soul stealers and now ghosts from the Legion’s past….Ironwood just wasn’t what it used to be. With a final pat to his mount he uttered “Kal Ort Por” and winked out leaving the night as it was.