Event 13 Stories – Nature’s Call
It was another grey morning in the County of Bleakmire. The mist was thick and almost felt as if it stuck to your skin. Foxe disliked coming here, but he knew it had to be done, someone had to keep an eye on the Grove. For a few months now, Foxe had no way to defend himself or the lands and creatures he cared for. When he closed his eyes and concentrated hard on the words he uttered, nothing happened, and sometimes the wrong thing happened. He made the decision then that he would do what he could, even if it was just to check up on the lands, and find others like him.
Foxe finished his breakfast and splashed water on his face from the nearby stream. He picked up his pack and his staff and set off again. He followed the narrow deer trail up into the valley. As her drew closer to the Grove, he stopped. Something was wrong! His skin crawled as he noticed the eerie silence. He took a deep breath and started towards the Grove, whatever he would find there had to be dealt with. This was his calling, and his whole life was dedicated to nature and the protection thereof.
Foxe stepped out from between the pair of boulders that marked the entrance to the grove, and froze. A woman knelt in the centre of the grove her hands were dug deep into the soil and magical energies pulsed around her. Fury welled within Foxe. These dark sorcerers have been destroying the groves all across Bleakmire and he would not let them do the same here. With a furious cry he threw himself at the figure. He briefly considered the foolishness of attacking a sorceress with nothing but a staff before the wave of force hit him.
Light exploded in front of his eyes as he hit the ground. With a surge of willpower he launched himself to his feet, his staff already whistling in a deadly arc as he came upright. With a graceful ease the sorceress ducked under his swing and responded with a kick that sent him sprawling once again. She muttered a spell under her breath and brambles shot out of the ground, wrapping around Foxe’s limbs, trapping him, thorns digging into his flesh. He strained against his bonds, blood starting to run from the gouges that the thorns were raking in his flesh.
Thinking him subdued, the sorceress turned back to the ritual she was casting.
Gritting his teeth Foxe managed to push himself into a kneeling position, tearing plant and flesh alike. “You…will…not…destroy…MY GROVE!” he roared as he ripped free of the brambles and tackled the sorceress. Pain lanced through his arms and legs where the thorns cut him to shreds, but he ignored it as he wrestled to pin her to the ground. Ripping a piece of cloth from her robe, he stuffed it into her mouth to prevent her from casting any more spells.
Resting on her chest, with her arms pinned beneath his knees, Foxe studied the sorceress’ face as he tried to decide how to proceed. She was obviously too powerful to let loose, but Foxe had never taken a life, and he was not willing to kill a prisoner. As he ran scenario after scenario through his mind he noticed that she was shaking as if crying, and tears were running down her face. Pulling his belt knife out and holding it to her throat, he carefully removed the rag from her mouth. To his surprise, she was laughing.
“Not destroying… healing.” She managed between gust of laughter. He was puzzled for a second until he noticed the patch of ground where she had been casting her ritual. Green shoots were radiating out from the point where her fingers had dug into the soil like the vines of a creeper.
Getting up, he helped her to her feet. She gently ran her fingers over his arms as she said “I am Chloé” Where she touched his skin, the blood stopped flowing and the pain receded. “I have been searching for those like you, true servants of nature and protectors of nature’s realm. What is your name?” “Eh, Foxe” Foxe replied, still slightly puzzled by the new turn of events.
Foxe listened attentively as Chloé explained what it truly meant to be a servant of nature. The code seemed simple and logical to Foxe and he realised that he had been living by it for most of his life. When her explanation drew to a close Chloé looked at Foxe with a serious expression. “Foxe, are you willing to take up this struggle and devote yourself to the service of nature? Bearing in mind that these are dark and difficult times for our kind.”
Foxe did not have to think twice. Going on to one knee, placing one hand over his heart, he looked up at Chloé. “I am willing to take on this duty. From this day to the day I die, I shall defend nature, fight for its cause and shun all who do not respect her.” As he said the words, power surged through him. The words were different, the power familiar and at the same time foreign. Magic flowed through him once again. He could feel the flow of nature around him, and also the putrid wound that festered in the grove. Also… something else. Similar to the wound, but more fleeting. “Chloé, do you sense…” was all he could utter before a wave of desecrated animals crested the hill. Their twisted bodies galloping along at an incredible pace. Sharp spiked horns cut the air as foul ichor dripped from gaping, fang filled maws. Foxe drew on his newfound power and unleashed the magic in a powerful wave, the words of the spell coming unbidden to his lips.
Glancing at Chloé he noticed a look of grim determination on her face. He shot her a brief smile before the wave of beasts broke over them and they were thrown into a maelstrom of claws and magic.