The forest is dark, illuminated only by the soft glow that seems to come from the mist twining through the ancient tree trunks. The sky cannot be seen, the branches of the trees woven together so tightly that they block out most of the sky. But from somewhere, water drips. It's raining, the water cold and penetrating to bone and soul both. And somewhere, somewhere ahead, the sound of horse hooves against hard packed earth and the carpet of fallen, rotting leaves might be picked up by wolfish ears.
Shadows and blood, Rae travels the forest in her lupine form. Her eyes glow here, if only slightly. The cold rain makes her shiver and she slows from her run, shaking water from her thick fur. The sound of hooves makes her ears twitch, trying to better catch the sound.
Here and there, the sound of steel on stone is heard. Some of the horses have obviously found cobbles to walk in; perhaps in the area of St Arsbury. Distantly there is the murmur of voices; the sound of the hooves starting to settle out as mounts come to a stop.
Rae gives the sounds a moment, to be sure she's about to head the right way. She's back to a run, now, heading towards St. Arsbury with rapid paws and curiosity blazing
In the darkness of Weirmonken there is also light. Flames dance proud and high, trying to fight back both ran and the blackness, and having only moderate success with either. In their circle of light, twenty men begin to unmount. Each wears the armor and colors of Mandrake. One pulls his helm off; his hair is golden with a slight curl.
Rae recognizes the the colors of Mandrake well enough, though she may not know any of the twenty men. The wolf lingers out of the light of the fire for now, only a glimmer of moonlight catching her as she shifts into a human form.
Behold, the St. Arsbury that was! The walls are solid, and none have crumbled. The buildings are in one piece, and at first glance, all might be well. But the light of the fire might blind one to other truths.
Horses are picketed at the gates to the monastic town. "Swords in one hand, torches in the other," orders the golden-haired Knight of Mandrake. "Stay in fours; twos if you must split further. No man goes alone."
Rae's eyes narrow slightly. She continues to lurk, quiet and observant, eyes on the Knight that obviously leads the men.
The men break off into five groups. The golden haired man moves towards the largest of buildings, a cathedral, with his three companions. Once the light of torches is spread about, it's easy to see that while the buildings may be in one piece, the people have already suffered their fate Blood is smeared on walls; and in some places, bits of things that used to hold blood in them are curdled into the mixture. A limb lays here, torn from its former body; a bit of intestine there. And the mail-shod boots of the knights occasionally squish when they come down, rather than fall on hard ground.
It's at the cathedral that things grow more gruesome. Its doors are wide, for they have been pulled down and broken. And on the grand stairs, skulls line the red carpet leading in. Skulls showing marks from claws; some glistening with fresh blood, some browned already with drying blood. A high-pitched scream following by a deep, rumble that might be a laugh if it wouldn't vibrate their very bones gives the men with the golden haired knight some pause.
No stranger to blood and bodyparts, Rae manages to only barely wince at the sound of squishing. But she doesn't pale, at least. Not that it would be seen in the shadows anyways. She creeps closer, closer, closer. Not like the men are looking -behind- themselves, after all. The rumble brings the hairs at the back of her neck to rise, and she tries to shake the feeling away.
There comes another scream, and this time it's one of the groups that went left. Three more follow it in quick succession. Thunk! Smear!
Before the cathedral can be entered, a bellowing roar is heard and something darker than the darkness is moving at a fast pace at the group of four who were going in. "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!" that darkness roars.
Rae says, more to herself than the possible future victims, "Damned gods." It's more a rumble than anything, and in another flash of moonlight she is a wolf again. Shadows and blood move quickly, and so does Rae, as she seeks to intercept that dark form, a low bass growl coming from the depths of her throat.
The creature makes itself known in the light of the four torches, before Rae can ever get to it. It is large, scaly, and those scales drip with blood. Bits of flesh hang in a mouth that even in a Nightmare is hard to focus on. "Servants for the Blood God!" it cries happily, flinging a hand out towards the golden-haired Knight.
The Knight cries out as red energy envelops him. It looks, for a moment, like he's being set on fire. His armor chars to black; his screams are those of pain. But when it's over, he's still there. Still standing. His hair is blood red. "Bones for the bone throne," the former Mandrake calls out, turning as he does to stab one of his companions in the face with the torch, his weapon slashed through another's neck.
Well, that's no good. Rae's fur rises on end, almost giving her a mohawk along her back. The Weir scrunches her body as she growls, "Get out!" to the other Mandrakes. She launches herself towards the once-golden Knight, intent more to disable than seriously harm.
By now, the one man left with the once-golden Knight is already running. There is fear in the air. Fear to be tasted; to be drank, to be felt in the soul and heeded to. It comes from the Knight, radiating like a sense of cold against the spirit. And he swings his now-black blade, edged in blood and hunger, towards the wolf.
Rae shivers, but she does not let that stop her from her goal. The Weir is quick, nimble, and she twists in avoidance of the blade, mentally whispering a prayer to trickster spirits everywhere that this works.
The blade comes just close enough to scratch skin; and where it does fire errupts along the nerves and a sickly-sweet smell starts. From the doorway, the demon that was coming out laughs once more. "With each drop, he wakes more," it whispers.
A yip of sharp pain comes from Rae as she's struck. She avoids dipping her head to lick the wound, gaze warily on the Knight and the Demon. "Who?," she asks, before launching into another attack, lips pulled back and a snarl issuing from between sharp teeth.
No one answers Rae. Instead, the Knight fights back, swinging with all his demon-imbued strength. There's nothing left of compassion or memory in his now-red eyes; only the lust for blood, for battle, for pain. There is no distrating; he will need to be killed.
Rae doesn't bother asking again--she's far too busy trying to avoid death to do so. She twists this way, turns that way, leaps upwards, as she seeks to keep her hide intact. Fiercely, leaving compassion behind herself, she goes for his face with her claws.
The knight fights, but each swing of the sword becomes slower and slower as Rae finds vulnerable places in his armor or on his flesh. Until, at last, a bite to his throat sends the coppery taste of his life's blood onto her tongue. And though he shouldn't be able to, the Knight laughs. "The blood god wakes," are his last words.
Rae's face, though wolven, still manages to get across a feeling of 'oh, hell'. She perches atop the Knight's body, growling lowly, though letting her ears move to pick up other sounds, her nostrils flaring.
The faint gray mist that had woven through the trees becomes vivid crimson, and the tang of blood on the air, mixed with rot, is stronger than it should be. The world shakes at the coming of this god. The dream shakes itself apart...
Crimson eyes flash as the blood thickens in the air. She moves as if trying to hold onto the Knight, the dream. She looks for the demon again, trying to get another look at it.
As darkness envelops the world, something whispers, "Blood for the blood god. Chaos for the Black Road."