Lord Eir stared into the forest, trancelike, thinking, the pattering of rain against his armor mute to him. Trying to piece together the information he had just received he felt his mind swirl, three words emerging from the maelstrom that was his mind, son, dead, and war.
Breaking his trance Eir looked down at the letter he held in hand, still in disbelief he reread the contents of the parchment:
forgive me for I am short on time. The northeastern and southeastern baronies have collapsed, their respective baron’s both dead. Your son, charge of the western baron, fell protecting the baron, my condolences. I have little information on what caused this but from the reports of some survivors we know that we are facing something we have never seen. They also tell that they were heading west, towards you, so be on guard. Good luck and stay safe Eir.
-Captain Tariff of The Hidden Legion
Crumpling the paper in hand he threw it off of the castle wall, tears welling up in his eyes as he did so. He could hear his squire behind him, shifting awkwardly as he watched.
“Um sir, I must go and complete some of my other duties, I'm sure you will be alright.” the squire chimed as he began to slowly back away. “I will be in the barracks if you require anything further.”
“Geoffrey wait!” Eir said turning and grabbing his shoulder. “I want you keep the men on standby and send out scouts, I don’t want to be caught off guard with such an enigmatic foe on the loose.” Eir said gesturing behind him towards the forest.
“Will do sir.”
Eir removed his hand from Geoffrey and sent him down the wall. Hearing Geoffrey's footsteps slowly fade away he returned to his position, staring into the forest, trancelike.
? ? ?
Eir ran out of his quarters, warhorns beginning to blare across the castle. He looked around wildly before running back into his quarters and shrugged his suit of armor on. This better not be a drill, Eir thought as slid on his helmet.
Sprinting back out he made his way to the castle's outer courtyard, hearing thunderous bangs against the castle. Finally reaching the courtyard he could barely see in front of him, a heavy blanket of fog suppressing his vision. Looking around he spotted the castle gate, splintered and broken, resting on the ground. He could see other men in the courtyard with their armor and weapons, no doubt just as confused as he was.
“Rally on me!” Eir yelled attempting to sort the confusion. The men present in the courtyard rushed over, he counted twelve.
“Follow” He breathed, waving his hand towards the gaping hole that used to be the castle gate.
Moving cautiously towards the blank space, Eir held his sword defensively. Stepping through the opening he walked beyond the safety of the castle. He could see strange shapes moving through the fog, reaching, probing. Hearing the crunch of feet behind him he glanced back to see that more men had arrived and joined the group. Eir held up his hand in a fist stopping his men, then turned and faced them.
“You there,” Eir said quietly, pointing at a particularly small man “scout ahead and see what there is to see.”
“Yessir.” the man breathed back.
The scout moved to the front of the party and hesitantly stepped into the fog moving deeper and deeper until he disappeared.
Turning back to the group Eir began “I want all of you to keep the noise-” but was interrupted by a shrill scream and a dull thud. Turning he saw the scout fly by him hitting the castle wall, a huge dent in his chest plate.
He could hear his men begin to murmur behind him, some fearful other incredulous about what was in the fog.
“I say it's just another one of em’ mountain trolls passin’ through the area.” one said.
“Trolls can’t cause that amount of harm from one blow.” another responded.
“Quiet all of you!” Eir whispered to them silencing the chatter “We are going to move up slowly,” he glanced back to the injured man lying on the ground moaning “and I want two men to take the wounded man to the apothecary.”
Two men broke off from the group and jogged towards the scout, picking him up and carrying him inside the castle's walls. Turning again he squinted to the fog still seeing the dark shapes. Strangely to him more had seemed to appear while he had been giving orders. He looked at the fog around him and saw that the dark shapes had appeared everywhere. Dark tendrils begin to emerge from the fog twisting and curling, reaching for them. Eir’s heart started to pound, he could hear his men shift nervously as they awaited his orders.
“Ready yourselves!” Eir shouted
It all happened in an instant, dark creatures emerged from the fog wrapping up men and pulling them away. He could hear screams and shouts all around as they fought what could only be described as a nightmare.
“H-HELP ME PLEASE!” Eir heard to his left “DON'T LET IT TAKE ME”
Turning he spotted a large man being dragged into the fog by his feet. Eir stabbed his his sword into the ground and grabbed the man trying to pull him back. He could feel the man begin to slip from his fingers. He looked up at the man's face seeing pure terror just as he lost his grip. He heard the man screaming as he disappeared into the fog. God, Eir thought to himself, what a horrible way to go. Reaching to pull his sword from the ground he felt a strange sensation around his ribs. Eir glanced seeing cool black tendrils begin to wrap around his torso. He threw his arm out grabbing the sword and dislodged it from the ground, then turned to face the creature. Eir was greeted by a swirling purple mist, deep blue eyes glowing through the haze. He couldn't move, the eyes holding him still like a statue.
Eir could feel a voice penetrating his mind repeating the same thing over and over, “Come closer.”
Eir mumbled incoherently as he shuffled over to the creature, dropping his sword to the ground.
The voice was mesmerizing, pulling Eir closer to the creature. He now stood before the creature, still staring directly into its eyes. Images of his son began to appear in his mind; feeling tears streaming down his face but feeling almost no emotion.
Eir felt a strong blow to his throat breaking his trance.
“HEL-” Eir plea was cut off as the creature wrapped a tendrils around his neck, beginning to tighten more and more. He gasped feeling his chest burning like a fire the creature raised him from the ground. Eir could feel his legs dangle, now being four or five feet off the ground. The creature content stopped raising Eir, loosened its grip on him, then slammed him into the ground. Eir heard a crunch then pain everywhere. As his vision began to fade away he felt his resolve shatter, the same images of his son coming again to mind. With that Eir fell unconscious, feeling nothing as he was pulled away into the fog, darkness enveloping his body.