The great continent of Lyceria is where our story takes place. Lyceria was divided into four major territories: The northern province of Roland covered in thriving and lively towns, with the mountainous region of Terco right below, the land below that named the Serena Territory and is covered mostly in an impenetrable forest called the Serena Woods; the final territory lies at the most south, in the land of Opidah covered mostly in vast plains and lively woods with long roads between towns. Down in southern Opidah is where we begin our story, and we see a young man named Matthew.
Matthew was squaring off against a leader of thugs. The leader was tall, stocky and wore loose plates of armor all around his body, as to protect vitals. He also held a thick claymore in his hand. Matthew on the other hand, only had his broadsword and no armor other than his chest guard over a shoulder. The only advantage Matthew had was his superior maneuverability; he wasn’t going to let his town get pillaged; not today. Steady with his blade, he circled their leader and looked for weakness. The leader charged him and swung his blade; Matthew rolled backwards and his eyes went wide. He saw his opening. He rushed forward and slammed the flat of his blade into the leader’s jaw with a loud Crunch sound. The bandits ran away, carrying their leader with his bloodied mouth.
“Never come back if you know what’s good for you!” Matthew happily shouted as a warning. The small crowd of villagers behind him cheered at the bandits’ retreat. After a few minutes though, they all went back to their everyday lives. Matthew knew that all the village girls loved him and would probably fight tooth and nail over him if he offered his hand in marriage, but he knew he couldn’t marry any of them. Maybe planning early marriage was for some people, but it wasn’t for Matthew. He had dreams to see out before he settled down. He was going to leave the town someday and become an adventurer; he didn’t know how, but he knew that one day he’d seize his dream. Plus, love was never in the top of his mind anyway. In the meantime though, there was only one person he had to care about, and she was running up to him, but still eager to shower him with praise.
“You were so awesome, bro!” said Rebecca, Matthew’s sister. Matthew might have only been 18, but his sister was still 11. With their mother and father gone, they had to look after each other; but it was mostly Matthew who supported them. He fixed things, took bounties, ran errands, and generally did things that nobody wanted to do. He did it all for her though; there was nobody that Matthew loved more. She was the real reason he never left his hometown. Matthew ruffled Rebecca’s hair.
“What’re you doing today?” he asked. She showed him a basket full of flowers.
“Picking flowers.” Matthew smiled, being glad that she could still do such innocent things without a worry. Although, he knew she was probably picking them so she could just sell them later. He sighed.
“Well, make sure to say safe.” he said. Rebecca giggled.
“Someday, I’ll be able to protect myself. But for now, I’ve got you to keep me safe!” Matthew still didn’t waver from his viewpoint.
“Make sure to get home soon, alright?” Matthew said, sternly.
“OK, I will.” Rebecca said, quickly running off. Matthew gave a happy sigh as he watched his sister run home. Although, the sight was interrupted shortly afterwards.
“Excuse me, young Matthew?” said an elderly voice behind him. Matthew turned around and answered.
“Yes? How may I help you?”
“Could you make a run into the forest for some more loose firewood?” Matthew checked the sky and saw that it was only a couple hours until nightfall.
“Sure thing, I’ll have to be quick though.” The man put his hands together and bowed.
“Thank you, kind boy.” Matthew turned to the nearby forest and walked off.
“Any time, sir.”
Matthew had been gathering firewood for about an hour, so he figured he had enough bundles of sticks. When he turned to go home though, he heard some strange sounds further into the woods.
“Music…?” said Matthew, confused. The music was slowly getting closer but suddenly stopped. Matthew was still listening for any signs of life though. All of a sudden, he saw a figure dart up in the treetops. He slowly put down his wood, careful not to make noise, then drew his sword. Suddenly, the music started up again, and he saw the figure dart away; the music was frantic and fast paced and it sounded like it was played on some sort of flute or maybe pan pipes. Matthew gave chase through the tough thickets that he began encountering. The music began to get further and further away, until he eventually couldn’t hear anything. He looked around, but saw nothing familiar in the foliage. He found the tallest tree in the area and scaled it, only to find one big surprise.
“That’s… not right.” he said as he looked out into the vast forest that spread in all directions. He knew the forest was not this big at all; so, where was he? He maneuvered back down the tree and looked around. There was nothing that might have indicated where he was or where he should go, so he just picked a direction and went with it.
As Matthew walked through the woods, he definitely noticed something off about his surroundings. As he descended deeper into the forest became almost impossibly denser as the light dimmed. He spotted plants and fungi that seemed to glow with an eldritch luster; the ground became damper and bright green moss grew on outlying rocks. The place seemed magical to Matthew, like the forest itself was decorated to look as beautiful as possible. It was all interrupted though, as he came to a clearing in the woods. It looked to be perfectly circular, but the edges were singed, as if they had been incinerated away. He peered into the clearing while keeping hidden; there were two figures inside.
One of them was wearing heavy armor, with only the helmet missing. The man’s face was light grey and looked as composed as can be. His eyes were a soft red and laid half open, with a scar over his left one. He held a lance that was entirely black except for the silver head, which glowed even in the sunlight. The other pale and wearing a fancy light green robe and deep purple cape. The man had no weapon, but he stood battle ready nonetheless.
“Begone Demon Knight!” the man shouted. Matthew took closer notes of the knight in question; he had white hair and had various odd signs and markings on his face. Matthew thought they looked like signs of alchemy.
“Ever fleeting, that is life’s very essence.” the demon said in a low dull voice. His armor clinked as he maneuvered, making him sound mechanical.
The man put his hands to the ground and whispered something, then rocks and earth gathered around his hands, completely covering them and making earthen gauntlets; he then charged forward at the knight. Unfortunately, the gauntlets made his movements a lot slower, allowing for the knight to dodge with ease.
“From the Earth, man draws forth hubris. May the winds of change make him realize his folly.” the knight said. The knight began spinning his lance overhead, reciting something while the wind ripped faster. Wind magic had swirled around the clearing, lifting the magician and almost taking Matthew as well. The man focused just enough to do some fancy hand gestures and shout something.
“Ischavalve Solviente!” the magician shouted, and the knight burst into flames. The man stopped spinning, but was consequently flung into a tree. The demon on the other hand was on fire, but he didn’t seem to be concerned with it outside of the initial surprise.
“Man attempts to cleanse, only because he cannot hope to ever be clean.” he said somberly. “May I be able to show the light leading into darkness?” He then took a deep breath as the flames on himself went out all at once. He then began to aim his lance at the man in the tree and said “Any last words to serve as your epitaph?” he asked.
“Screw off to some other world.” The man spat. The knight sadly shook his head and took another deep breath.
“Even in their final hours, humans choose to struggle. How…. noble.” The demon got ready to make a killing thow. Matthew took this chance to charge forward; he had been creeping up around the clearing to get a clear shot at the knight and now he was taking it. He plunged his sword into the knight's back and twisted; he noticed that his sword seemed to be glowing a bright white sheen in the twilight. The demon writhed and yelled in pain.
“Leave him alone!” shouted Matthew. The demon then took on a whole different demeanor than when facing the other man. The knight’s eyes were now wide open, and they now glowed an aggressive red in the stretching shadows.
“Be prepared to pay for dishonor!” he said with fury. “If you wish to die on your feet, so be it!” The knight reached out and grabbed Matthew, even though the sword still rested in his back. He then reached a hand into Matthew’s head; his hands seemed to phase though Matthew’s skull and it looked as though he was probing around for something.
“G-get out of my head!” Matthew shrieked. “I’m not afraid of death, just so you know!” The knight angrily pressed against his head.“Death doesn’t waver me either, boy. There are worse things. Things that keep men awake so that they don’t lose what little they have left attached to their mortal coils!” The demon knight took his hand out and threw Matthew against a tree, and that was the last thing he remembered before the world went black around him.