It was cold. Bitterly cold, with winds whistling through the silent land, and a white snow covering everywhere. Temperatures were below thirty degrees, and ice clung to everything, including one's skin.
Still, Michael quite liked the winter. It was a time when the earth went into a deep slumber and with it, most of the creatures that dotted Raikkeon during the five month long summer. All except for humans, elves, and all those other sentient beings that inhabited parts of Rezonaoth.
Michael was currently trudging through the forest, with dead trees surrounding him, the snow making a wet sound every time he stepped into it. Had he turned around, he would have seen his footprints imprinted in the white snow, leading through the sleeping forest. But when one was carrying four pieces of freshly chopped firewood at once, turning around was probably not very smart.
Michael instead looked forward, seeing the outskirts of his little village, White Town, in the distance. He could make out the little houses made of wood at the edges of the village. His own house was one of them. Michael smiled, thinking of the warm soup that awaited him once he stepped inside and lit a warm fire. This was another reason why he liked winter, the rewards felt more needed.
Michael then spotted several figures moving toward the houses. Probably the other men returning from gathering their own wood. Big Pete could carry two logs at once without breaking a sweat, making all the other men envious of how much wood he was going to get.
But as Michael got closer to White Town, he could see the figures better and something was not quite right. They stood huddled together at the very outskirts of the village, talking amongst themselves. As Michael trudged closer, he could see that they were wearing hooded red robes. Odd. Were they some sort of new religious group? Likely, but something didn't feel right. Michael decided to talk to one of them, see what they represented.
Michael put his firewood carefully down on the snow covered earth, and walked toward the red figures, squashing pieces of slush, making a wet slurping sound as he walked through the melted snow. Michael waved his hand at the figures and said, "Hey! Who are you guys?"
One figure standing at the far right of the group turned around. Michael was about to speak more to this figure, when he noticed something. With a gasp, Michael saw a symbol drawn on the front of the man's red robes. It was a circle traced perfectly, the shape of a huge, gaping eye in the center of the circle. It was very bright red, even more red then the robes of the man it had been drawn onto. And with a gasp of horror, Michael saw the symbol was drawn in fresh blood.
The man smiled, a huge grin on his mouth showing in the hood that covered that the rest of his face. Without turning around, the man raised his palm and made a motion to the other figures. They nodded, and reached into their robes, pulling out weapons. Michael felt his heart hammer as the figures pulled out black spears, serrated cutlasses, and doubled-edge swords.
The man watching Michael then yelled, "Kill this village! Burn it to the ground! And sacrifice those within as strength to Lord Ras'San'Arok!"
The figures yelled, raising their weapons high into the air and surged forward, charging into White Town. Michael heard screams and saw one of the figures kicked down the door to his own home, and charged inside, the man's cutlass held before him. Michael then came out of his shock and something snapped inside him when he saw that his own family might be in danger.
Michael ran forward, but saw the man still standing in the same spot, the grin still on his hidden face. Michael charged the man, raising a fist, but the man raised his foot and kicked it forward. The kick slammed into Michael's ribs, and with a gasp as the air left his body, Michael went flying backward, landing in the cold, wet snow.
The man stood over him, the grin still on his face. The man then reached inside his robes and pulled out a black knife. The knife was decorated with swirling red symbols and had a very sharpened end. The man raised the knife over his head.
Michael held out his hand and coughed, "P-please, stop. Who are you? What do you want?"
The man laughed. "We? We are the Cult of the Damned, risen again after so many years of destruction. What we want is for Lord Ras'San'Arok, master of the almighty demons, to be summoned once again into the world and remake it. It is a pity you won't live to see it, but Ras'San'Arok grows stronger with each sacrifice we make in his name."
The man then plunged the knife toward Michael's chest. Before Michael could try to move, he felt a terrible pain in his chest. He had never felt a pain like this before. Michael let out a scream, feeling the taste of blood in his mouth, and then plunged into darkness.