“Please! You must do something!” a woman shrieked. People were scared. The unholy ritual—the Festival of Demoniacs—was upon them.
The whole town had gathered in the church by order of the mayor hoping that they would be safe there. Many of the townsfolk wished that he would order the deputy and his subordinates to hunt down the Demoniacs and end their pagan fests. But all brave men became white before the bluffs, before the Tower; an old occult structure reaching toward the sky in defiance to the Elder One. There they would recite their blasphemies performing their arcane and perverse rituals to summon forth harbingers of doom.
“Good people,” started the mayor from the pulpit, “Let me assure you that we are doing all we can.”
“And yet our children go missing, and our livestock dies!” shouted a frustrated farmer.
“Our women are raped by demons and men are robbed of their courage,” added another. “Will God not help us?”
“Peace to you, good people,” said the vicar. “A town divided amongst itself cannot stand. And though we are in the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil for the grace and peace of the Great One is upon us.”
“A lot of good our prayers do,” said an elder. “Year by year we are prey to the wolves and our holy shepherd doesn’t hear our cries!”
“Something must be done!” shrieked the woman. “Hunt them down. Destroy them all!” The people roared approval and moved in closer. “Hunt them down! Hunt them down!”
“Are we heathens!?” shouted back the vicar. “Again and again this gutless mob has proven itself fruitless against the Tower. What will ye do differently?”
“I have an idea,” said a tailor. “Let’s offer the mayor and vicar as a sacrifice to them. Maybe they’ll leave the rest of us alone.” Again, a roar of approval. They then began to close in from all sides.
“Get back, ye devils!” warned the vicar, swinging an incense burner. “Any sinner who touches me with his bare hands will be brained and I’ll have his guts for garters!” He swung the burner at one member who caught it and tore it from his hand. Then the rest of the mob snatched them up and began tying them together. Suddenly, the church door slammed open.
There in the doorway stood two tall, dark and grizzled characters. They wore long coats, tattered hats, and strapped to their waists were long, curved swords with broad blades. “Put those men down,” ordered the first in a quiet and acrimonious tone. The mob hesitated. “I said, put them down.” The mob obeyed.
“Who are you?” asked the tailor.
“We are hunters of the Old Oath.”
“The Old Oath?!” some repeated, shivers shooting down their spines.
“We’ve heard tell of your cult of watchers, baying at your doorstep.”
“We’re here to slay your monsters,” said the second in a more human tone. “My name is Hiram. And this is Logarius.”
“You don’t mean, ‘Logarius, the Old Hunter’, do you?” asked the mayor.
“The very same,” affirmed Logarius. Though the church was poorly lit, the townsfolk could still make out the gnarled appearance of his face betraying the decades of hunts and thousands of injuries received at the teeth and claws of malice borne beasts. The man himself was feared for his brutal reputation and many also feared that he had somehow become tainted by those that he so passionately hunted. Very few men had such a blood-soaked past.
The mayor stammered trying to put together a sentence. His voice would not come, being choked by his apprehension at having not only hunters of the Old Oath in his town, but also at having Logarius, the Old Hunter, before him. “P-please do not be up-up-upset,” struggled the mayor. “B-but I really th-think, we have the s-s-situation under control.”
“Why would I be upset? I don’t care if Demoniacs torment and kill you. We merely thought that you could use some help. But if you don’t want it… Hiram. Let’s be on our way.”
“Please wait!” shrieked the woman. She ran forward, but stopped short as Logarius’s gaze fell upon her. The woman trembled clutching her chest. She forced herself forward a few steps, shutting her eyes and bowing before Logarius. “Please save our town!” Her eyes burned. “I know we can be difficult, but please… Someone must do something.” She then felt a gloved hand on her face causing her to whimper. The hand prodded her face up and she reluctantly opened her eyes allowing the tears to flow. Thankfully, it was not Logarius, but Hiram she faced. He was a much younger man, but his scarred face still betrayed years of hunts.
“Dear woman; do not be afraid.” His eyes greatly calmed her. “We will not bring harm to you or your town. We are honor bound to the Old Oath to hunt this vermin and protect all that is sacred.” The woman exhaled and her legs gave out. She felt both relieved and faint: Hiram had touched her.
“Will you really save us?” asked the mayor.
“Then, please go. And Godspeed to you.”
“God has nothing to do with it,” retorted Logarius. “If you’re finished with the woman, Hiram...” Logarius turned and disappeared into the night.
Hiram cast one last look to the townsfolk and then looked at the woman. “This will be done,” he said before following Logarius into the night.
As the hunters stalked through the dense forest, night fell and the air became frigid. They pressed on in spite of how dark the woods became. But as they neared the Tower, a bloodied signpost came into view. Crucified to the post was a creature like a wolf, but much more nightmarish with human-like hands, a face in a perpetual snarl, and much less hair. Hiram walked around it as much as he could without straying too far while Logarius didn’t even seem to notice walking within inches of it.
As they proceeded past the grizzly crucifixion, ghastly music could be heard. There was a sound of something like a flute that sounded like a baby crying, and drums being beaten to an executioner’s melody. Hiram crept closer to Logarius who only pushed on.
Eventually, the trees began to thin and a clearing could be seen. Hiram and Logarius took cover from behind two wizened trees and looked on. There was the Tower; a tall, strong stone structure that climbed upwards. It was settled on what appeared to be the edge of a lake for it seemed that they had reached the end of world. But both hunters knew, beyond the Tower was not still, black water, but a pit of the abyss from which all manner of eldritch and otherworldly abominations descended.
In front of the tower was a semi-circle of five stone pillars that increased in height going for the outside in. Upon each pillar stood a maiden with long black hair in a floor length skirt and a strange dark blouse that left their middles bare. The five maidens were performing a lewd dance to the time of the haunting music, whose source couldn’t be discovered. They shook and swayed their hips in perfect synchronization in an attempt to appease their sinister overlords. It didn’t matter for no matter how well their dancing pleased, once the ritual ceased, these pagan whores would be given over to their demonic masters to be raped and mutilated.
Lastly, before the pillars stood an albino woman with pale skin and hair, and red eyes. She was dressed in a blue, sheer robe that barely gave her any modesty. As the hunters watched, Hiram noticed an ache stirring within his body aroused by the mania caused by the dancers.
Suddenly, the music escalated and along with it, the maidens intensified their dance. Finally, the music reached its climax and a bolt of lightning struck the blue albino witch igniting her in a pillar of flame. At the same time, the pagan dancers had vanished from view, claimed by the pit.
As the pillar of fire began to die, left in its place was a black shape that resembled a cocoon. It wriggled and poked outwardly as whatever was within tried to free itself.
“Logarius,” said Hiram, his voice trembling. “What is that?”
“A metamorphosis of some kind. Stand your ground,” instructed Logarius, drawing his Hunter’s Cleaver.
Finally, a tear appeared in the cocoon and a black ooze dribbled from it. Slender white fingers reached out and grabbing either sides of the tear, ripped it open viciously. There stood the figure of a shapely woman which slowly became more and more revealed as the ooze ran off her leaving none of itself behind. Her skin and eyes were both alabaster while her hair was black with a few white wisps. She was dressed in only a loincloth, a partial dressing about her breast, nothing on her feet, and a long, flowing black cape which gave Logarius the impression of skin. Once clean of the ooze, she looked up at Hiram and Logarius.
“She knows we’re here,” choked Hiram.
“Good,” replied Logarius. “I abhor stealth.”
The woman then approached the trees exaggerating her walk which accentuated her hips. Logarius focused in on her and raised his sword, but just as he was about to charge, she disappeared from view.
“Where did she go?” asked Hiram. Then suddenly, she appeared beside him, hissing and spitting, showing a face that could only be from the underworld. Hiram screamed and ran.
“Hiram!” shouted Logarius, his fury rising. “Get back here, you piss-pant coward! Oath-givers damn you!” Logarius looked to where the woman had appeared, but she was already gone.
Logarius began to strafe around in a circle with his blade raised. His pupils dilated and he was more aware of everything around him. As he circled, he felt something lightly brush his back. He turned, but nothing was there. He heard a whisper to his left, and turning again, he saw nothing. Finally he heard the crunch of snow to his far right. Turning again, he saw her in the distance, half hiding behind a tree and peering between its branches coquettishly. She shook her hips slightly and looked Logarius in the eye—his eyes narrowed and nostrils flared.
She disappeared again only to reappear suddenly standing beside him grimacing fiercely. Logarius took one step back and swung his sword, but it met empty air. He looked around the trees again, this time spotting the creature a few yards away, their views of each other completely unhindered. She draped her cape about her body as if to appear modest only to peel it away slowly revealing her body. She then vanished again and reappeared directly in front of him so close that their noses nearly touched giving him an evil smile. Logarius retreated from surprise before thrusting his sword forward. Again, she was gone.
As her strange act went on, constantly disappearing and reappearing, exposure to her antics began to build a tingly feeling below Logarius’s waist. But as this feeling grew, so did his anger and he tried lashing out at her every time she appeared close to him. Once when she had retreated, she gave him a hurtful look followed by an arousing stare and pursed lips.
Logarius’s composure snapped and he charged for her. She merely smiled and disappeared again, but this time with a flash; and then she would reappear with a flash. Each time she flashed before him, he ran at her screaming and swinging his cleaver wildly. Every attack missed as she lured him deeper and deeper into the forest. Soon they were in a very dark part of the forest and she continued to flash around him, but instead of luring him further, she began to circle him and get closer and closer. Logarius swung his sword in a circular motion at her. Eventually, she flashed one last time, but did not reappear and Logarius stopped.
Logarius faced the night and readied his sword. “Come on out, you harlot. I dare you.” Finally she did, flashing right before his eyes. Logarius was so taken off guard that when he jumped back, he tripped over a log and fell into a pit trap. He fell a good dozen feet before landing hard on his back. The old hunter let out a wail and was paralyzed in pain.
As he opened his eyes, he saw her floating above him, her body parallel to his. She floated down to him and he locked eyes with her. Her lips reached outward and once they met his, he was hers.