HEROES OF TAARMA
THE VIXEN VETALA
Chapter One – Lost and Found
Morning came as the sun broke a perfect shade of blue over Baal City, as a very tired Victor Franklin was on his way up to the marketplace to get some pig meat for dinner that night. A thick blanket of fog hung over the city as Victor made his way through the city gates. It seemed as though the traders were waiting to set up market when the fog cleared so Victor headed to the local pub. As he stepped inside the already deserted tavern seemed much more eerie. He looked around but to his surprise the room was deserted, as he was about to leave the owner come out from the back room to the counter. He was a very old faun who was over 900 years old, his name was extremely long and nobody knew how to pronounce it in its language of origin, so everyone just called him barkeep as they thought this was what the name meant. Barkeep had a long thin beard and a very long thin moustache, his curled horns almost gave him an evil shroud around him, but Barkeep was very kind and was very wise.
"Sorry about that kid," Barkeep apologized, "What can I get for ya?" Victor stepped up to the bar and looked at the various liquors and ales on the shelves behind the faun.
"I'll just have a Gordon's Ale thanks." Victor said as he handed the barkeep some gold for the drink. The barkeep nodded and went back into his bedroom. Gordon's Ale had spirit-lifting properties, to energize the body.
As Victor sat and drank the ale he pondered, what was this strange fog? And why were the townsfolk were so cautious about it? Maybe it was nothing, maybe everyone just slept in, or was there was more to the fog? The tavern door swung open and the wind made Victor's long black hair dance at the unexpected gust of wind. Whilst shifting the hair out of his face, his black eyes noticed a familiar face come through the door. Jonathon Escalon, one of the greatest young mages in all of Taarma. From his short neat brown hair, to his light blue eyes and light pinkish flesh, he looked as professional as he was skilful in magic. Victor waved to him and he came over and sat down beside him. The stool he chose to sit on almost collapsed due to the fat regulars that attended the bar.
"Good morning Victor." Jonathon greeted kindly with a smile. Victor mumbled something sounding somewhat like "yea good morning".
Victor was rather tired from waking up so early, and Jonathon just looked unimpressed as he usually was with Victor's attitude.
"So what are you doing here so early?" asked Jonathon as he tapped the bar waiting for Barkeep to come out. Victor seemed to look up slightly.
"Um...," he paused, "Getting some pig meat for dinner tonight." Jonathon nodded reluctantly, he hated eating meat, and Victor was vegetarian, but the meat was for his family.
As Barkeep came in he saw Jonathon and immediately served him a light ale. Jonathon nodded and handed the man some gold. Victor could hear stirring outside the tavern.
"I think the markets are being setup," says Victor as he turned to look at the door of the tavern. "I better go, good to see ya Jonathon." Jonathon waved goodbye to Victor as he left the tavern and headed into the marketplace.
As Victor walked out into the marketplace he took a deep breathe of the fresh morning air. The fog has disappeared, but he still wondered, where had it come from? Victor continued to think of this as he walked to the local butcher's. As he approached the butcher saw him and waved.
"Good mornin' young Victor sir," said the butcher, "Just the usual pig meat this mornin' sir?" Victor smiled at the butcher.
"Yes thanks Paul," he greeted as he handed Paul some gold, "Thanks." Victor took the meat wrapped in a cloth bag and headed home. His house was just outside of Baal City, it was only ten minutes away on foot. As Victor passed through the city gates he noticed another familiar face.
"Well hello there Victor," a soft feminine voice called out, "I haven't seen you since we slaughtered the goblins on Mount Farlos." Victor looked over and saw a young woman with long straight white hair, deep red irises, rich beige skin and a large bow. She looked up at him under her wide-brimmed hunter's hat.
"Elise?" Victor smiled and greeted her with a hug, "Where have you been?"
"I could ask you the same question." She replied with a touch of sorrow in her voice. She lowered her hat over her eyes to hide her tears. "I have to go, we will keep in contact, take this." Elise threw Victor a scroll that he had to dive to catch and nearly dropped his cloth bag. When Victor looked up Elise had vanished.
Later that day at his house, Victor was thinking about meeting up with Elise. Why would she be back in Baal City? Why was Jonathon at the tavern at the crack of dawn? And what was that unnatural fog? Something must be wrong, there was ever only fog in winter around these parts, and being summer, it was really strange for the fog to appear there. Victor's mother had skewered the meat he had brought home and attached it to the spit roast which was already beginning to cook. Victor's life had been pretty quiet recently compared to his childhood when he had spent a large amount of time battling creatures all over town. His main opponents where Goblins as these where the most common creatures, as they regularly searched for food in the nearby woods.
That night after a dinner of various boiled vegetables Victor went out for a walk to get his head straight and think over some of the days events. He wondered why Elise had come back. Up until today he had hardly seen her, it was if she had vanished into thin air and now that she had reappeared she was different. When he had seen her earlier that day her irises were a bright shade of red, which was odd as she had always had the most beautiful green eyes as if at birth her eyes had been replaced with emeralds. Her once vibrant brunette hair had faded into a lifeless shade of pale white that left her resembling a ghost. The bow she carried he recognised as a priceless family heirloom which he had seen on display at her house in special cabinet. This made him wonder what was going on as it must be serious for her to have removed the bow. As he passed some twisted Lisken trees he spotted her familiar yet unfamiliar face as she stood upon the stump of a Lisken tree in the clearing just ahead of Victor. Elise peered down at Victor who was slowly approaching mesmerised by her beautiful yet spooky hair as it blew in summer night breeze.
"Elise?" Victor spoke softly, as if she would run if he spoke too loudly, "What is happening to the world?" Elise looked down at the ground and thought about those words for a few moments.
"What is happening to the world Victor?" Elise reiterated as she looked up slightly allowing their eyes to meet. The next few words she spoke sealed both of their fates. "Taarma is going to die Victor, and it needs your help."
"What?" Victor seemed confused and shocked, "How is Taarma dying?"
"A powerful Demigoddess by the name of Vetala has taken power and intends on destroying this world with her army of Sinads." Elise appeared to be crying but the wind that was blowing on her face made the tears stream away from Victor's view of her lovely face.
"Elise," Victor spoke softly once again, "What is a Sinad?" Elise wiped away the tears swiftly and looked at Victor.
"The Sinads are a deadly race of warriors not from this world," she continued with a tone of dire emergence, "They are not even of this realm."
Victor couldn't take all this, the goblins they fought on Mount Farlos and in the Lisken Forest were alright, but deadly warriors from another realm? This day was getting too much for Victor.
"Did you read that scroll I gave you?" Elise asked hesitantly. Victor had put the scroll in his pocket earlier that day, so he pulled it out.
"I haven't read it yet," he said handing Elise the scroll, "Why?"
"No that's good," replied Elise, "If you had read it you would've died." A feeling of shock overcame Victor.
"Then why did you give it to me?!" he was shouting now, but Elise put her finger on his lips.
"I'm joking," she responded in a calm tone, "Don't be alarmed." Victor pushed her hand away from his face.
"Shit man," Victor's heart was racing, "What did you do that for?" Elise smiled and for the first time since they were kids.
"You were always so easy to fool," Elise kept her smile for a few seconds, but the moment was broken by a screaming sound, then a bang, then a display of ravenous fire that had enshrouded Victor's house.
"What the fuck!" Victor screamed and ran to his house just down the road.
Inside the house everything was ablaze, his mother's paintings, his father's weapons put on display. Victor ran through the house shouting, where were his parents? He continued to shout Mum! Dad! But there was no answer, at least not in the form of words. A shrill screech could be heard from the backside of the house. Victor ran for the backdoor and standing in the doorway was a tall person in a hooded black cloak and what seemed to be long black dreadlocks held together by gold rings coming out of the hood.
"Try and stop me fool." The person mocked, and then they disappeared. Victor ran to the backyard and found his parents charred corpses. This wasn't happening, this can't be real, but it was…