Prologue

The forest was teeming with life. Exotic birds flew overhead, making darting forays into the trees and crying out their happiness as they feed upon the thick clouds of insects in the air. Monkeys swing from trees to trees slowly, as if they had all the time in the world. Golden rays penetrated the foliage of the forest, adding an unholy glow to the surroundings, almost elevating it to another realm unbeknownst to Mankind.

If one could have enough patience and take a closer look, it would have been obvious that the dust mites that one thought was floating in the air was actually sunsprites, mischievous little beings that are often spotted in the sun and mostly mistaken for dust. All was in order, and peace was kept.

Without warning, a flock of birds suddenly took to the air, screaming their displeasure at some unknown intruder that had stumbled into their sanctuary.

“Forgive me my little feathered friends. I had no intention of disturbing your peace.”

A mumble of apology and he was back on his hurried way, bursting through the thick undergrowth like it was less than paper. His faded jeans and chequered shirt had already grown muddy and torn with abuse.

For weeks, he was endlessly hounded by his pursuers across the continent. They had used every method possible. From tracking his scent to aura, everything imaginable and unimaginable method was being thrown at him just to stay on his trail. Who knows how many bodies of his pursuers laid behind him, spent effortlessly like mindless minions just to snare him. Throughout his escape, he could think of no other thoughts than survival. To do otherwise would just make sure his pursuers’ pincers inch closer to his neck. Doubling his concentration, he wove his spell of Unlight and prepared to cast it, forgoing the complicated rituals that he had to go through to get his worn body ready.

“Now is not the time. Payment would be made later. Help me my Angels, now is the time. For better or for worse.” He invoked the Land’s living awareness, tapping into the ley lines and drawing the power along them. In this place as untouched by Man, the lines pulsed powerfully awakened. One with magesight could see the throbbing blue veins of raw power in the land. With that power behind him, he cast his spell, a mere decoy to mask his presence and deflect the bloodthirsty fiends that were out there. Scavengers, these fiends always waylaid the unsuspecting traveller along such ley lines, using the body as a conduit to them, and drawing the powerful energy into them. With time, they would grow stronger. They go by many names, and Succubi is one of them.

Hoping that the spell would throw his enemies offtrack, he begun to trudge wearily towards no particular direction a discerning eye could pick out. At most, they would only be delayed by one hour before slashing through the decoy like a straw scarecrow. They were that powerful. Yet, he was that weary too. He could not last long. He had been on the run for far too long. All sense of time was lost, and he only knew that it had been weeks since he had pursued. Movement was the only constant here. And the key to survival as well. He had to raise the bugle call again for help. He lifted his head ever so slightly and would have been mistaken for daydreaming except for his godforsaken attire. With his mind attuned to the frequency of his kind, he sent out a mental plea. “Help! One of your kind is in mortal danger!” Yet as always, silence greeted him.

“Where are the Old Ones? Where could they be hiding?” he thought in exasperated silence. “No time to dwell on that for now. If they don’t answer, there must be a serious problem afoot. Survival has to come first.” With that, his flight begun again, rested enough to fight off another encounter with his stubborn enemies.


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