There is a place among the dimensions where heroes are born and die each day, where gods and mortals struggle to coexist, and where there are at least seven kinds of magic but only two of them can conjure tasty desserts. Yes, it is a tough world to live in, but it is also one of adventure and fantasy galore. This world is Calemor.
The moon was waning,
only a thin strip of light in the night sky. The stars dodged in and
out of the clouds. The crickets and owls that usually filled the
forest with noise at night were silent. Dror slashed his dagger to
clear a path out of the branches and vines in the underbrush. They
moved slowly through the darkness, wary of using light lest they be
spotted by something.
Dror heard movement in
the bushes to his right, or it might have just been the wind picking
up a few leaves. Do demons stalk their prey? he wondered.
Then he remembered what Valdimer had told him. Demons are entities
of chaos. Each one is different. It bothered him that he couldn't
learn something about the creatures they were fighting to use in the
He stopped suddenly
when he saw a figure standing on a boulder in front of him. He
dropped into a fighting stance, but realized it was a birdfolk woman
wearing furs and pieces of wood for camouflage. Her gray feathers
blended in with the murky sky.
“Who goes here?”
Dror scanned her up and
down. She looked like she hadn't been in a city in several years,
and hadn't had a bath in as many months. She was probably some
self-proclaimed protector of the forest. He had heard about people
who take it upon themselves to patrol natural areas and prevent
settlers from moving in. As if the wild monsters couldn't do that
demons,” Dror answered before Berit or Valdimer could speak. “We
mean you no harm, so just let us pass.”
The birdfolk regarded
him with a sideways stare. She then stepped down from the rock.
“You are heading in the wrong direction, then,” she said. “The
demons are heading east.”
in a pack?” Valdimer said. “You mean they've formed a horde?”
“I only know that
they corrupt this forest,” the birdfolk said, “and they must be
stopped. If you are here to destroy them, I shall join you, as it is
not something I can achieve on my own.” She extended a hand, which
looked more like a talon, and her feathers on that arm fanned out
from her side. “I am Catarina, Warden of the Seltsamwald.” Dror
held out his own hand and shook it. At least she knew civilized
customs. “Tell me,” Catarina continued, “how did you know to
find demons here? They only recently arrived.”
“This was the site of
a battle between demons and the legendary hunter, Folami,” Valdimer
said. “We thought to come here to see if we could find the spot
where the battle took place and learn something from it. We did not
expect to actually find demons congregating here.”
“Less of a
congregation, more of a swarm,” Catarina said. “And they are on
the move, corrupting the forest wherever they go. Come, I will lead
Valdimer and Berit
exchanged a glance. Berit shrugged and started to follow. Zhihao
quietly proceeded. Valdimer and Dror took the back and kept an eye
out for any stragglers.
Catarina pointed out
what they had missed on their way into the forest. Animals were
killed from some mysterious illness, or else had fled. Trees had
died in full bloom, their leaves already starting to wither and fall.
The ground beneath their feet was coarse and dry. All from the
demons simply passing through, according to the warden.
It wasn't long before
they heard the growls and snarls of a demon that had split off from
the horde. It was wrestling with a bear that it had found hiding in
its cave. The bear didn't stand a chance as the demon tore into it
with vicious claws. Zhihao stepped forward, holding the medallion of
Folami out towards the demon.
commanded, and the demon stopped its rampage, staring up at her. She
told it to walk away from them, and it did. She told it to move a
little closer, and it did. She told it to run around in a circle and
do a little dance, and Valdimer shoved her shoulder and told her to
quit playing around. But the demon did obey.
Catarina shook her
head, the edges of her mouth tilted into a frown. “I don't know
where you got that artifact, but it isn't stopping the beast's
corrupting nature. Look.” She pointed at the carcass of the bear,
which was already starting to rot and fall apart. “It must be
destroyed,” she said.
“Go ahead,” Dror
said. “I think it might be nice to have a demon we can control in
case we run into any others, but kill it if you must.”
“And what would
happen if your robed friend here were attacked?” Catarina said.
“Would she be able to keep her concentration to control the demon?
More likely it would add one more number to the horde's strength. We
must stop that from happening now while we have the chance. Keep it
still.” She walked calmly towards the bear's cave where the demon
was crouched. It bared its teeth at her, but remained still as long
as Zhihao held the medallion. Catarina raised her axe, which looked
like it was mostly used for chopping wood, and in a moment the demon
was as dead as the bear.
They followed the trail
of death that the demons had left in their wake. Berit was able to
climb a tree and spot movement of a large group to the east, not far
from their current position. It seemed as if the demons were heading
somewhere, which according to Valdimer's research, did not normally
happen. Demons usually would scatter in random directions to cause
chaos everywhere. Everyone was thinking the same thing, and it
worried them all equally. Something must be summoning the demons.
Suddenly, there was an
inhuman scream. A small shape leapt out of the trees and onto Dror's
back. Zhihao held out the medallion and commanded it to stop long
enough for Dror to shake it off and slice it in half on the ground.
It had barely died when a dozen more demons, large and small, were
upon them. Zhihao raised the medallion and shouted, “STOP!” She
discovered to her dismay that she could only command one demon at a
time. Berit swung her daggers to fend off attacks, and Valdimer cast
shields around her and Zhihao. Catarina blocked attacks with her
hide shield, retaliating with her axe. Another demon jumped on Dror,
and the world went black. << Chapter 6, Thoughts Chapter 8, Purchase >>