A woman stood in the night. She faced away from me, gazing across the moonlit meadows. The silver rays of moonlight melted on her pale skin, the color of which was not unlike the ivory tusk of the grey beasts that roamed foreign lands. Dark, wild hair cascaded down her back, reminding me of the many waterfalls I had seen on my way to this mystifying place, this hallowed meadow. The woman was clothed in a flowing green gown of the lightest material, pale and almost transparent, it clung to her skin like my tongue clung to the roof of my mouth.Speechless, I stood as if I were a hunk of a marble, in awe of this woman and her goddess-like beauty and grace. She turned to face me, her hazel eyes glinting with moon rays and quiet amusement. These eyes, narrow yet kind, rested in a noble face. She opened her mouth, blessed with red, full lips, and her voice reminded me of my faraway home. It was sweet, and dear, and it nestled next to my heart.Memories of my mother’s rose garden came to me, unbidden, and I could have sworn the scent of roses lingered in the crisp night air. I was not certain why I had come to this meadow, strayed away from the safety of the warm inn, but I knew there was a reason. I had been called, I could feel it. I let the woman’s subtle voice soothe me, and left reasoning for a later time.“Why have you come here, noble stranger? What is a man of the court of Denrahl doing so far from his country and king?” the woman asked, looking at me with a gentle curiosity. I shivered, and wished my cloak were a more practical thing, instead of the thin regal cloth that bore my crest on the bosom and marked me as a man of the court.I wondered how this woman had recognized the crest of Denrahl; she seemed so removed from the normality of mortal life. I was certain she was a wild woman, a timeless woman of magic, perhaps an enchantress?Though I could have been mistaken, and this woman was merely a lady from another kingdom, such as Tarmain, or Dalilya. Both kingdoms were not far from this place, although what a highborn lady would be doing alone in a moonlit meadow, miles from her kingdom, was certainly something abnormal, not to mention a potential scandal.“I am the Baron Steffan, son of Baines,” I answered her quietly, feeling that puffing out my chest and declaring my station with pride would be only make the lady laugh. “I venture far from my homelands on a quest of great importance,” I continued, meekly. Something about this woman made me feel peaceful, yet also timid. She seemed to have a power over me, as I could not look away from her hazel eyes.
She nodded, and again her voice swept over me, reminding me once more of my old home. I grew wistful as she spoke, for I had been parted from my home for far too long a time. I speak not of the great castle of Denrahl, but of the small village I grew up in. My eyes misted over.
“What is this quest, brave one?“ the woman asked softly. “It must truly be important, to part you from that which you miss and love. Are you looking for something, or someone? Perhaps a person that was lost to you? A friend?”
She paused a moment before adding, “A brother, perhaps?” I was startled by how accurate she was. Surely, she had peeked inside my mind and seen the answers lying there.
“Yes, milady,” I confirmed. “My wife’s brother, Marc, left Denrahl with a small group of men last winter, on a diplomatic mission to the kingdom of Tarmain, saying he would return in the spring. Now it is nearing winter again, and not a soul has seen him, nor any of his men. He is my dear friend, and indeed like a blood-brother to me. We sent word to King Chandler of Tarmain, who replied that no diplomat from our kingdom ever arrived. The King wrote that he had assumed the winter snows had slowed them down.”I paused a moment to glance around the meadow. An abrupt and foreboding feeling had fallen over me, and my body was suddenly alert and tense. I had felt such peace in this meadow only moments ago, but now I felt as if danger were approaching. I glanced back at the woman, and she too seemed troubled. She opened her mouth to speak, but before she began we both heard an ominous sound far off in the night. It was the sound of a hunting horn.
The Hellion Hunters are a group of demons who hunt both mortals and mystical beings of the Etherealm alike, killing or capturing them as they see fit, collecting some and draining others of their strength and power. They are the assassins and the bounty hunters of the underworld, and all who know of them fear them.
Enter Baron Steffan, son of Baines, a man who is neither fueled by fear nor by lust for revenge, but by the desire to return home safely to his wife. The strong and noble Steffan, son of Baines, has been parted from his home for too long, and he is determined to see it once again, even if that means killing every last Hellion Hunter to do it.