The adventurer journeyed through the gnarled roots of the ancient forest, on the heels of the Demon who called him there.
He wore only a hide water bag that was slung across his chest. Some drops melted through the hide, and flies flew around it. He swatted them away without much thought, it had become a natural instinct since he'd began his journey through the forest. The forest seemed to stretch in all directions, endless, and covering the sky with it's massive canopy. Sunlight poked through pockets in the leaves, but the path the adventurer was walking on, was mostly dark. Animals pranced to and fro, a buck ducked it's head into some bushes. The forest was hot and the adventurer was sweating, beads of it dripped slowly down his cheeks and massed on his chin. His bag, which was swung opposite on the water bag, was full with exotic fruit he'd picked off of trees and bushes, and he reached inside now to bring out an orange. He peeled away the skin with his fingernails, which had grown sharp since he had entered the forest, before biting into it. The juice made his face sticky, but it gave him some energy for the time being.
The adventurer wore a black cloak that swam around him and licked at the air, although there was none. It was some strange magic that he didn't understand, nor cared to. He had a brown leather hat pulled low over his eyes, which were the color of silver and reflected the night sky. On his hip was a dagger, tied in a loop on his belt, the rawhide strings were frayed near the bottom. It was a shoddy job, the sheath, but it worked and he didn't have to carry it in his hands. The blade itself was made of blue steel, the hilt was iron, and the handle was wood. The pommel was made from some strange material, magic most likely, as it had an eye entombed in it that always pointed west. Sometimes at night, the adventurer could hear voices emanating from the blade, slick, greasy, emotionless, voices. The adventurers leather boots creaked with each step, iron plates were welded firmly in place by a black smith from long ago, and protected most of his shins. A tiny spike was placed at the toe.
His face was a rugged map of scars from previous battles, his eyes were surrounded by a mess of crows feet, a sign of old age though he wasn't past thirty. His hair had gone a mix of black and white at the temples, and fell in front of his eyes; a rough beard was growing on his cheeks and above his upper lip.
He'd passed several old bazaars. All of them used to stand in huge openings, but the forest had retaken the land, and the stone buildings were invaded by trees. Some buildings still had tattered tarps clinging to the remains of huts and were flying in the wind. The adventurer took them down. They were haunting in a way, and also provided him with blankets and possible tent material. He scavenged several bullets from the bazaar, yet no gun. He placed the bullets in carefully stitched loops in his belt, and continued.
He slept in a tree that had an opening wide enough for him to fit his torso in. He flung his bags into the hollow and made himself a camp fire. His equipment was more important, if it went, he wouldn't stay much longer. He kept the knife close to him though, and made a fire using his flint and steel, and surrounded it with nearby stones. The moons light barely reached the forest ground, and the area around the fire was solid black. The adventurer tried to look at the stars, but the canopy blocked them from view. He thought about uttering a prayer, but he wasn't a religious man. No God nor Demon could save his soul or damn it. He was just a normal pilgrim on a journey. He'd heard of many stories from people going through the forest. Some got lost, became what superstitious people called "Shades," demonic beings that died in the dark and became part of it. The adventurer didn't believe a lick of those stories was true, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
Before he fell asleep, the adventurer urinated on his fire to keep it from spreading beyond the rocks he'd set up around it. He heard the wind while he slept, and moaned with it in his sleep. Nightmares greeted him there, he squirmed, he sweat, and he woke up frequently. This was the way it had been for a long time, this was the way it would always be for the adventurer. He was after a demon that had led him through the forest. He'd gone past cities, follow leads from local townies. All signs pointed to the forest, to the Great Green as they called it. He knew he'd entered the demons territory when he found giant stone obelisks standing at the farthest edge of the Great Green. They weren't covered in ivy like most other buildings, in fact, they looked like they had just been placed there. The only sign that they had existed long before he was born was the startling amount of robed skeletons nailed to them.
When the adventurer awoke, he smelt something burning. His nostrils flared and he was on his feet in a seconds time. The fire beside him was out, but smoke rose from it as if it had been put out only seconds ago. There were no tracks in the dirt, no droppings, nothing to admit there had been a human being around him. He relaxed and realized he'd taken his dagger out on instinct. That was good, he thought. It meant he was prepared for a fight, prepared to take the demon down. His hands looped the rawhide and dagger back to his belt. The morning was just dawning on him, and he had time to hunt and kill a hare for his breakfast before leaving the camp. Even though there had been nobody at the camp with him, he felt eyes on his back while he trekked deeper into the Great Green.
He ran into two other bazaars, when he scavenged through them he found more ammunition and, this time, spent shell casings. They were knew, from what he could tell. Somebody else was in this forest with him.
And on the heels of that; Someone is running.
And on the heels of that; They're being chased.
And on the heels of that; The Demon.
He kept his steady pace though, the demon was only a few hours ahead of him, maybe even less than that. He had no reason to hurry. If he did he'd make a mistake, and that's all it could take to kill him.
Continuing farther into the forest, the adventurer made no hurry.
Behind him though, a dark force was following close behind him. The dark force came in the form of a man whose happy smile brought fear to the entire world. Whose eyes were the color of rain, and teeth sharp like razors. His face spoke of a man who would push children off their bikes and laugh while they ran to their mommies. His voice spoke of a man who watched murders for sport. If one were to consider him evil -which he most certainly was- you wouldn't even scratch the surface of it. He kept his hands in his jean pockets, and a leather jacket was swung around his waist. He had on big cowboy boots, a black AC/DC T-shirt, and sunglasses that hid the burning sockets behind them. He smiled and spoke only two words; "Oh, mice," before walking silently behind the adventurer, flicking out a cigarette and lighting it with his fingertips. The world was moving very slow today, was his only thought.
While the adventurer journeyed through an endless sea of branches and leaves, the Dark Force, also known as Riggin Scheer the Necromancer, Death-Bringer, Evil Bearer, walked with an almost casual pace that was slower than the adventurers own. He picked up to small newly born birds, lifted them above his head, opened his jaw wider than any human ever could, and swallowed them whole. He passed the mother bird and made a finger gun.
"Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub momma, bang!" He "shot" the finger gun and the mother bird exploded in a mess of feathers and bones. Simon continued his walk through the forest, tailing the adventurer, rubbing his stomach. "They just don't make 'em like mom does."
The adventurer eventually stopped once again, this time in a bazaar. While he made his camp, he heard branches cracking and the ghost voices of a thousand merchants still making offers. He made his camp in a hovel this time. The walls guarded him from the wind, and -he hoped- the ghostly inhabitants. He glanced outside and couldn't see any ghosts, but he knew they were there. He could hear them bartering, not for spices and exotic fruit, but for skins and virgin blood. These bazaars were no longer mortal mans, but instead, had become part-time portals to The Nexus' very own marketplace. The adventurer went to the lower level of the hovel to make sure there were no inhabitants there that he hadn't noticed, but found only blackness waiting for him... and heavy breathing. He unsheathed his blade and stepped slowly down the stairs of the hovel. He could smell death in the bottom half of the abode. The adventurer had no torch, and waited on the stairwell for his eyes to adjust to the dark. Once they did he could spot a figure lying in the back corner. It rose and fell in a very slow rhythm. He approached the figure, blade low, and saw what was clearly a man with wounds covering his whole body. The figure muttered something that the adventurer couldn't understand.
"Say again?" He inquired, "I cannot hear you."
The adventurer leaned closer;
The adventurer could make out the facial features of the body, the face was sallow, the bones were very prominent, and the figures eyes were just circles. Momentary dizziness struck the adventurer when something smashed into the side of his face and the corpse rose from in front of him, jaws aiming for his neck. There was a flash, a screech, and blood splattered against the walls.
His knife was outstretched in front of him, the hands did what they did best. He spun on his heel and impaled the other corpse behind him and the same ear-shattering screech was heard. He dug the blade deeper, too deep. He put his boot on the corpses chest and forced the blade out. The screech ended abruptly. It echoed his name before it died.
He wiped the blade on his jeans and rushed to the entrance of the home. He pushed the hovels door open and looked outside. A thousand ghostly eyes watched him. Their faces were long and pale, the eyes were sockets, and the mouths were frozen in eternal O's.
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