My sword glistens in the moonlight, wet and slick from the monster’s blood. I stand above the body of a Wood Wraith, having barely been able to strike it down as its brothers circle me. I wave my torch at them, hoping to frighten them off, but I can see their eyes in the dark, not retreating, as they bare their massive teeth at me. I cannot allow them to take me as they have so many others. I will not allow them to perform their dark magics and turn me into one of them, a haunt to these forests. I will not allow them to stop me in my quest, not when I am so close.
I left my home weeks ago, travelling over plain and river, seeking the old one, the keeper of the Beyad, the mystical energies. I was chosen by my small village to find him, being the strongest and the bravest, and to seek his help, for we have become truly lost.
Our oracle, the connection to the Gods, has closed. Where once it shone brightly and would provide insight to the other world, it now is silent and dulled. It is an empty husk that gives us none of the comfort and knowledge it once did. And so it was given to me, this quest, to find the old one, to replenish our oracle’s energy, if he can. He has done it before, so our village elder was confident that he could do it once more.
My journey was long and full of more than a few fearful moments. Fighting bandits along the road, evading the gaze of a mighty tor and its crushing jaws, struggling my way across the great wild river Meshespa on a small ferry, and now facing down a pack of horrific wood wraiths. I know that the old one is close, somewhere amongst these trees, but I fear that this may be the end of my journey.
A wood wraith leaps at me, its massive body lunging for me, and I barely am able to dodge it as I swipe my sword at it. I feel some contact, but the creature does not stop as it turns back to face me. I can feel its gaze weakening my resolve, though my heart was beating ever faster. I sense it inside my soul, urging me to give in as it moves towards me.
“Away, demon!” I shout, waving my flame at him. It backs momentarily, but I hear another come bounding at me. I turn and shove my sword forward, and it plunges into the monster. It feebly claws at me and makes an otherworldly sound as it goes limp. The others begin to move in as I desperately try to withdraw my sword, but it is stuck completely. I pull desperately at it, to no avail as the creatures move in for the kill.
Suddenly, the space fills with light and a crack of thunder fills the air! I shout in alarm as the creatures snarl and scream before falling away into the darkness. I fall on my rear, blinded by the light, and look to its source, raising my arm to protect my eyes.
“What the hell are you doing out here?” comes a voice, angry and aged. I try to make out who it is, but the unnatural light still fills my vision.
“I seek the Old One of the Forest Athios! I was making camp for the night when I was set upon by those wood wraiths. My thanks to you, sir, for your assistance,” I reply.
“Oh, right, Old One,” says the voice from behind the light. “You’re from Rebulard, eh?”
“Aye,” I answer, as that is where I hail from. “I come seeking his assistance with our oracle. It’s connections to the gods has closed, and our elder has sent me, Luqas, to find the Old One to help re-open it.”
“Hey, it’s your lucky day, then, kid” says the voice, lowering the light from my eyes. “You’ve found him.”
I kneel, showing him my reverence of one so powerful. He could easily destroy me or twist me into something strange and monstrous, so I must be careful to show him respect. “Oh powerful Old One,” I say, trying to keep my voice from trembling. “I humbly beseech your aide in restoring our oracle. We are lost and afraid without it and must keep an open pathway for the gods.”
“That geezer Keith’s sent you, huh?” says the Old One as the light turns from me and he begins to walk away. I am unsure whether or not to follow, so I remain where I am with my head lowered, but my eyes trying to follow him, until I hear “You comin’, dingus?” I frantically stand and follow the light as it weaves amongst the trees.
“Are you the man I seek?” I ask when I catch him. The spectacular light in his hands illuminates our path, and I realize he must have captured a piece of starlight, it is so brilliant. He holds it in front of his body, and the forest floor becomes illuminated as though it were the daytime. His face is hard to see, even with the starlight, but I can tell that he has a tired, worn visage, wrinkled but shaved clean. In the hand not holding the starlight he carries a long rod, which looks like it could be a short staff, though he does not use it to aid his walking.
“Yeah, I’m the Old One, I guess,” he replies, gruffly. “Got enough antiques around here, might as well call me one, too.”
“And you can help me restore the oracle?” I ask, eagerly, as we make our way through the trees.
“Yeah, I can help ya. I told Keith that it wouldn’t last that long, the jackass. I mean, it’s hard to make these things, their power doesn’t last forever.”
“Truly your mighty enchantments and spells are taxing, and we are grateful for your help. He told me you will have powerful talismans to reopen the channels in the oracle.”
“Right, my spells and talismans. Come on, over here. I’m sure I’ve got some in the trunk, or…something.”
He leads me to a large space amid the trees where his wagon is. It is adorned with strange jewels and armor, and I see no horses, which must means that its method of transport is more magical in nature. He opens a compartment in the rear and begins rummaging about, cursing as he moves things around. Finally he emerges with a small pouch and hands it to me.
“Tell Keith these should last his wrinkled ass for a while,” the Old One said, “and I’ll try and get a signal going for him again soon. Sun’ll be up soon, think you’re OK for the night?”
I thank him profusely, over and over until he shoos me away with his hand. He climbs aboard his carriage and it roars to life, the jewels shimmering in the night and illuminating the forest. With an unnatural squeal, surely powered by some mystical entity, the wagon lurches off through the trees.
I make my way back to my campsite, and as I reach it the first rays of the sun come creeping over the horizon. I collect my things to begin the long journey back home, and am about to place the pouch with the talismans into my bag before I hesitate. I know it is not my place to look, but curiosity gets the better of me and I peek in the purse. I was expecting some unearthly glow to pour from inside, but instead find only simple, metallic cylinders. Are these the magical talismans that I had been sent to find? I pull one out and turn it over in my hand. On the side it reads “Energizer,” but is otherwise unremarkable. I shrug and return it to the pouch. I then smile, knowing that I had accomplished my goal, and begin the long journey home, excited to restore power to the talisman and bask in its warm glow once more.