Out in the middle of a forest in Northern Germany sat an old stone house that was tucked way back in the densest patch of wood around. The air around the structure was stifling, unmoving, and thick almost as if the forest itself was trying to suffocate the stained stones of the walls, and all around the structure the trees and shrubs sought to crush what little remained of the man-made building. The only thing to suggest the existence of life in this section of the forest was a single, thin pathway that cut its way through the undergrowth and led to the front door of the building. Other than this path there is nothing with no signs of any sort of animal life. There were no birds singing in the trees, there were no animals walking the earth, and it seemed even the insects shied away from this area.
The villagers say that the building was at one time a home a long, long time ago. The older, and more superstitious, residents of the village believed that a vengeful spirit resides in the home. The rebellious children of the village often dared others to approach the home with taunts and tests of bravery, and some of the children upon returning to the village claimed to see a man walking the pathway with a raven perched upon his shoulder. The description the children gave of the man was always the same with a few embellishments and exaggerations added on. When the mysterious man walked he took with him the same dead air that surrounded the stone home, and he was always shrouded in shadow so no one could get a good look at his face or his features. Years back one of the children of the village inadvertently made eye contact with the manâ€™s raven while out on the path, and less than a week later the child became stricken with a mysterious illness to which the child perished from. This caused rumor to spread that perhaps he was a man who had summoned a demon, or that maybe he was an agent of the devil out to spread pestilence, and some even claimed that he was angry spirit that was punishing the village for abandoning the old ways. The one agreement that these rumors had was that if the man noticed you then your only hope was to turn and run back to the village church as fast as your legs could carry you.
To the man who walked the path these rumors were of no concern to him, and if anything he reveled in them for they kept the villagers away from him and his home. To him it was almost flattering to be seen as an emissary of Death, and he derived pleasure from seeing the villagers grow pale and flee merely from catching a glimpse of him. It made doing his job easier.
Now on this night, the feared Druid Alexei and his Guide Hadyn stalked a different path. This night the pair made their way East, which would take him past the village that feared him so much. Desiring a bit of fun he diverted his path ever so slightly so he passed along some of the outlying streets. Two residents saw him that night; and old man and woman, who would the next day express fears of an imminent plague that would beset the village. However while the village panicked Alexei made his way due East at a relaxed pace. After all, he could feel it is his bones that dealing with the Druid Flynn would be almost as much fun as dealing with CaorÃ¡nach if he gave the boy enough time.
--The night before--
Alexei sat in his aged stone home in silent meditation. Through a broken window to Alexeiâ€™s right Hadyn came flying in on his silent, black wings. The pitch black raven landed beside his master on top of a crooked wooden perch. There the two sat in the dead silence and absolute black of the home for an indeterminate amount of time as Hadyn did not wish to interrupt Alexeiâ€™s concentration.
â€œWhat news do you bring for me this night, Hadyn?â€ Alexei asked at last, his gravelly German voice permeating the still air of the room.
â€Word on the wind is that the demon CaorÃ¡nach has escaped its prison in Ireland,â€ Hadyn responded in his silent mental whispers. â€Which is why it is to be expected that the situation has yet to be resolved.â€
â€œIs CaorÃ¡nach still in Ireland?â€ Alexei asked in a very level tone.
â€No, Alexei. The demon has fled to the East, to Japan,â€ Hadyn said. â€The Keeper Ruarc Flynn gone in pursuit. He and his Guide passed to the South of us yesterday.â€
â€œGood work on finding this information, Hadyn,â€ Alexei praised the raven, although his tone would have sent ice running through a grown manâ€™s veins. â€œWe shall set out tomorrow at nightfall.â€
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