It was near dusk in a sleepy village of Isenfel. The town was rather small in size holding about perhaps ninety villagers' at most adult wise, the houses built from wood of the forests and mud from the rivers. They are a stone like color a light sandstone tan, logs sticking from the top to support the ceiling; the houses are at a rough height of fourteen feet in height. Window sills have faint coloring of orange in them from the fire places inside. Some houses have small pelts of fur hiding the inside of their dwellings but a small amount of light still emanates from beyond the skins. The ground covered in dusty soil, uninhabitable by plant life Rocks on the outskirts rival the size of the houses, the local butchery shut out for the night. Local guards making their usual routes through the village. Houses sitting in proximity to each other, a well and giant bell several feet from the well. Upon the outskirts of the village there was a picket of sharpened logs as to fend off wild animals or even anyone who would wish to harm the inhabitants of the tranquil village. The cubs were nestled in their beds as mothers and fathers retired for the night. All seemed quiet in this undisturbed village of creatures. Families warmed themselves near their fireplaces, cubs sleeping in their beds. There was one family which was different amongst all the peace. A mother staring out her window at the oncoming darkness. A young Tigress her fur as fair as snow, her eyes a piercing icy blue. Sitting in a chair watching the woods, her husband a young dusk colored feline. His eyes a pale amethyst a body of a man who has worked all of his life.
His fur becoming a slow degradation to grey. He turned his head to his loving wife. "Aurealis..What seems to be troubling you my dear?" He said coming over towards her laying his paw gently upon her shoulder. She looked up at him with eyes filled with worry. "I have a sinking feeling in my heart Ezra..I have had nightmares of the humans finding our village..Burning our houses and taking the children as their prisoners to be sold off.." A break in her voice as her eyes shut tightly. A tear falling from her eye in fear of herself and her village. Ezra chuckled and knelt down to her. "Love, it was a silly nightmare. You must have had eaten something which hadn't agreed with you." He said placing his paw upon her stomach with a smile. "Even if it were true, I would never let anything happen to you my sweet. I will fight till my very last breath to protect you." He gave her a confident smile standing up once more. The sunlight slowly being chased away by the oncoming darkness as the moon arose in the sky, dusk became darkness, the night watch guards stood at their posts. Their torches in hand, their faces alert. "I don't see why we even need to stand guard these days. Ever since Faramond Septimus signed the treaty with the kingdom of Gallavius the world has been rather peaceful." The young wolven guard exclaimed. The elder husky shook his head with a look of disgust. "It's those damned humans! That's why we must patrol these streets every damned night!
Because we want our freedom like everyone else..." He growled defensively. "Because I have children at home and I care about them and everyone else here. Now quit whining whelp and stand at attention!" He barked. Several hundred meters out a male standing at about six foot five in a strange metallic uniform on a midnight black horse strolls through the beaten path of the forest. His armor bears the mark of the "Iron haven Knights of Templar". As several squads of soldiers stand mere yards behind him. One of the males looked at the templar with a look of determination. "Sir! We await your orders. Lead and we shall follow to the ends of time itself." He said standing firm holding a mere steel long sword with iron chainmail on. The knight upon the horse turned towards his men, and spoke.
"My warriors. Tonight is the night we have planned upon for many moons passed. Tonight! We will be rid of this infestation of vile creatures! We will exterminate every last one of these abominations! Spare no adults! They shall turn upon you in the blink of an eye!" The soldier said pointing to his own eye, discolored from his left. His left being an emerald green where his right was a dull gray with three scar marks over his right eye. The soldiers gasped and muttered to one another in silent as their anger and disgust grew. The knight took his sword from his sheath and pointed it towards the direction of Isenfel. "Onward my men!" The soldiers shouted in rally and continued onward towards the sleeping village. As they trudged on the two guards soon noticed what was going on. The elder husky looked and spoke to the younger wolf. "Go! Warn the town's people! Were under attack damn it!" The young wolf nodding running to the village's center ringing a large bell used for emergency. The Husky soldier stood his post with a snarling face holding his spear in hand. And barked angrily. "I shall not let you pass! Not on my watch!" The knight smirked stepping down from his horse. "Then die like the rest cur." He said raising his sword to the guard.
The soldiers running through the streets setting fire to houses with their torches, looting and pillaging. Slaying any fleeing creatures they found in sight. The husky guard takes a swing at the knight only to be stopped with a single slash of the sword breaking his spear into two pieces. "It is useless you abomination, your cleansing is at hand." He said cutting the husky down leaving him to bleed to death upon the grounds of the streets. Females screaming grabbing their children and fleeing. Aurealis crying holding onto her mate begging him. "Ezra please..! Please don't leave; we have to escape while we can!" Tears streaming down her cheeks holding onto his paws tightly. Ezra simply shook his head. "No Aurealis. I must ensure your safety; go to the outskirts of shadowhedge forest. Hide and do not come out until I come and get you! Go! Now!" He yelled pushing her out the back grabbing his hatchet into town fighting to keep the town safe. His face snarling as other males of the village grab arms ready to fight back for their home.
The knight laughed sadistically watching the creatures cut down in their futile attempts to fend off the attackers. He walked over the slain bodies of the fur covered people looking at them with a sick satisfaction in his heart. Ezra saw the knight, his fur stood on end as a growl escaped his maw. "You sick bastard!" He growled lunging at the knight. Hatchet over head. Only to hear the clash of metal. The two fighting with nothing but sheer force eyes locked upon each other. "You depraved lunatic! Why!! Why did you come here and attack us… Do we not deserve to live in peace? Have we not shown our respect!?" His eyes narrowed at the soldier pushing forward.
The knight chuckled kicking the young feline down to the ground disarming him, holding his sword pointed at his throat. His greave on his chest pressing down more and more with each passing second. "You foolish creature.. Allow me to put it in a term you'll understand…" Kneeling closer to him. "You're a far lesser creature than us human beings, your only uses are to be used in slave labor, and to be thrown in the garbage when you're done with." He gave a grin that seemed to drip like acid. "You'll be seeing your family soon cur." Standing back up raising his sword to slice out his throat. Ezra looked up at him, his life flashed before his eyes. His loving wife, the children they would conceive. He thought to himself one final thought. "Live on Aurealis..I'm sorry I wasn't able to keep my promise.." The blood stained knight cut him out leaving him to draw his final breath. Tear soaked cheeks holding tight to his ring in his hand.
Aurealis dashing frantically in the woods climbing up the trees jumping from limb to limb nimbly, tears streaming down her face as she cried to herself. "I'm almost there Ezra..Please be okay..!" She whimpered and dropped down into a large bush she hugged her legs praying for it all to just be a bad dream like always. Sobbing holding onto her knees tight praying for her mate's life. As minutes turned to hours she sat there in the bushes waiting for her husband. The fires slowly smoldered into nothing rubble and ashes. Bodies of families and soldiers lay strewn across the grounds of the village, blood stained earth everywhere the eye could see. A wagon entered the village taking any of the cubs they could find putting them into a large cage together. "Men! We have fought bravely! And those who are not with us have died bravely for a cause for the Nine! "He held his blood crusted sword as if a triumph had been made. The men called out with cheer and praise. "All hail Ahponaes! Long live Iron Haven!" As the wagon was pulled with several dozen crying and whimpering cubs inside. Some barely out of the womb. Others holding to the cage bars crying for their mother and father.
As the sun began to arise once more upon the forests, chasing away the darkness from whence it came. Aurealis wiped her eyes awaiting her husband. Returning to her home. Upon entering the gates seeing her village in such a state of despair brought the young tigress to her knees. "No…!" She sobbed looking at the corpse of the guard. She pressed her paw against his cheek, droplets of tears drip upon his soiled face, taking her paw closing his eyes. "You fought well..May you find peace in the arms of Azrael." Walking through the debris of a once happy town she sees a young feline on the ground gripping tight to something. Upon further inspection her heart nearly stopped beating. Running towards the fallen soul picking him up in her arms. She sobbed into his blood stained chest. "You fool…You damned fool…!" She yelled punching the ground tears falling upon his fur. Looking at the grip in his paw she opened it up seeing his ring inside. It was a ring of gold made to look like the briars of a rose stem around it.
She picked up his body cradling him in her arms, brining him to the middle of town near the well. Laying him down quietly and closes his eyes slowly. Kissing his head one last time. Upon scouring the debris salvaging a shovel from the wreckage she digs a deep hole for his body. Her chest and body covered in blood and dust from the dirt, sweat upon her brow dropping her shovel picking up her late husband and laying him in his grave slowly. Burying him and placing a stone there for a marker, bringing several wild flowers to place upon his grave. "You would have been an amazing daddy Ezra.. I hope to see you one day…Until that day. I vow to find whom did this to you.. "She held his ring in her paw clenching tightly.
Upon leaving the ruins the bodies were burnt and scattered to the forests once more. She wandered the woods aimlessly for months, her figure slowly diminishing. Her vision and body becoming weary. So many years of rest and relaxing. Not working for her food or her nutrients. The only things keeping her trudging forward being the anger that filled her heart. And the love for her fallen husband she clung to ever so dear. Upon months of searching she came to a village of Roseash Hollow. There were many different beings there, humans and furs alike. Even elves and gnomes came and lived here. Her eyes deceived her as she rubbed them with disbelief. Coming into the village she collapsed on her hands and knees. Fighting to stay awake. "Please. Help.." Falling into darkness. Upon awakening she was inside a leather skin like hut in the village. Lying down near a camp fire. A deep voice speaks up. "Do not worry child..You are safe here, you were very lucky to have gotten here when you have. You seemed you were about to collapse of starvation." Aurealis groaned sitting up noticing a grayed wolf sitting in front of her, legs crossed watching her. "Who are you..? " She asked questioningly, looking down at a plate with a slab of mutton and a clay cup filled with water from a spring not too far from the village. The elder spoke up and said. "Please, take your fill. There are many things I wish to know of you my child. But first, I wish you to recover some before so. Your body is weak so please stay and rest till you are ready to speak." He smiled with a chuckle. His eyes were moonlight yellow, though seemed to fade off into a light shade of gray. "I am the elder and village chief here. You may call me Aendir. "
Aurealis looked at the elder with confusion. She smiled taking a sip of the water and devouring the slab of mutton with great gusto. Chasing it down with another sip of water. She sighed closing her icy blue eyes looking into the elder's soon after."My name is Aurealis, I have traveled a long ways from my old home.. I have nowhere else to go anymore. My village was attacked, and our life is gone..As I know, I am the only known survivor from the onslaught…" She said looking at the ring she held onto for dear life."My mate sacrificed his life to try and give me a chance at life.." The wolf closed his eyes as he thought to himself, his breathing labored. "I see..That is quite a grim tale you speak of. The humans are fearful of us. Therefore they attack us and try to eradicate us.. It was also told that they will take the young of the slaughtered and sell them for slaves." Aurealis's eyes widened in horror."I have heard of the prowess of the warriors of Roseash Hollow. Their stealth and their prowess of silencing is renowned around the continent! Please. I beg you, teach me the ways of the macabre." The elder wolf glared at her. "Impudent whelp, you barely just arrived here and yet you ask such a dangerous trial. Do you wish to be sent to an early grave!"
Aurealis looked at him with eyes of perseverance "I am willing to do whatever it takes. Please! I need to learn to fight!" She pleaded with the elder. The elder sighed standing up turning his body away from her. "Even if you could survive it.. Would you be able to take another living sentient beings life with cold precision?" Aurealis looked at him with a look of stern seriousness. "I have never killed..But I will. If I must I will kill, I promised to avenge the death of my mate. I promised on his body to make sure who murdered him in cold blood. The elder turned to her and let out an exasperated sigh. "Very well, your training will begin tomorrow morning. Rest well and make sure you are prepared." Aurealis nodded soon standing up herself bowing to him, "Thank you master Aendir." As she exited the tent she could see the entire encampment clearly. The sun burning brightly above head. Beams of light piercing the tree tops leaving spots of light around the encampment. Each of the huts was made of cured leathers sewn together thrown over strategically bent branches supporting the weight. The ground was a dark brown color with small patches of grass growing, small fungi growing on a log on the left of the elder's hut. Eight or nine huts strewn about the small encampment. An elf sitting fletching an arrow sitting on a log by a campfire. A gnome eating a piece of venison drinking a clay goblet of wine. Sitting and laughing with a Female fox.
Aurealis turned back to the hut with the Elder Aendir."Master Aendir, is there an inn there I may stay? I have no place to go." The elder gave her a grin and smile. "You may stay here if you so wish or you may go and seek out my son Kain, he is the tent nearest to mine on the left." He smiled. "Thank you master Aendir. " She bowed gratefully heading over to the hut next to his. She lifted the fold of the hut upon entering. A young dark grey wolf sat there with a book in hand. A scar over left eye and a chewed right ear. Closing his book and looking up at her. "You must be the girl who keeled over at the entrance of our encampment here. Welcome, father has told me much about you while you were out cold. Well not everything but enough to know you're not a thief or anyone whom is a threat to our way of life. " Aurealis smiled and stepped in sitting down adjacent from him. "Yeah, my village was slaughtered in the middle of the night I'm afraid. I came here in search of assistance, I will begin training to become a sibling of the Macabre tomorrow." She said confidently. Kain looked at her with a look of grimace. "It's no cake walk I'm afraid, this is the hardest trial you will have to overcome I'm afraid..Many come in search of our style of fighting thinking they can become an initiate of the Macabre, most of which don't even survive." Closing his eyes revealing a scar upon his eye.
"It's where I got my scar over my eye..I was careless and almost lost more than just a pretty face." He chuckled quietly. "I couldn't hack it as a Macabre so I picked up the arcane arts, though is not as dangerous as the art of stealth I have become quite the master of the elements." He smiled modestly. As the day slowly passed by and Aurealis and Kain talked through the day, nightfall was soon upon them. Aurealis slept soundly on an elk skin rug curled up tossing and turning in her sleep. Unbeknownst to her the training she must go through. As the sun just began to rise once more a strange force awakens her slumber. "What's going on..?" She questioned. A male in a dark robe holding a torch comes closer to her, though his voice familiar. "Fret not my child; I have not come here to harm you. Are you ready to begin the initiation into the Macabre?" He asked taking his free paw unveiling his face. Several others around him were unveiling their faces. The young kit. The elf that was fletching arrows. They smiled holding their torches. "Come my child there is no time to waste." He said holding out his aged paw to her.
Aurealis smiled taking his paw standing upward. Looking at him dead in the eye. "I'm ready master; teach me everything there is to know." The elder wolf chuckled. "Very well, come with me child." He smiled walking deep into the woods. "We are heading to the ancient grounds of passage. When and if you pass these trials you shall be an initiate in our age old guild. Aurealis looked at him, "A guild..Well I guess this is what I signed up for.." She groaned. Upon trudging several hours of walking. They had reached their destination. It was a wide open area; there were broken trees, graves strewn through the place. As well as scorched earth as far as the eye can see. "Are you ready to begin the first part of your training Aurealis?" Aendir asked in a deep serious tone of voice. "If you want to back out now is the time to do so, because once you start; you cannot stop." He narrowed his eyes looking at her. She paused looking at him and smiled confidently. "I'm not turning back. Not now, not ever." Her tail swished anxiously.
Aendir smiled. "Very well, your first lesson will be basic hand to hand combat. Before you can use a weapon you must know how to fight unarmed. Crystal, since you are my expert in this field would you be so kind as to teach her a thing or two about unarmed combat?" He gave her a hinting wink.. The young vixen smiled cracking her knuckles stepping forward. "It would be my pleasure grand master." She smiled disrobing herself. Her body was a light red with a white underbelly. A white circle around her left eye. "Now then girl, put your fists up as if to throw a punch. Keep your arms loose and take a swing at me!" Aurealis unsure of what to think placed her arms up in an offensive stance running towards her taking several swings at her each one dodged with ease. Crystal taking the assailant's hand throwing her over her shoulder. Aurealis lying on her back groaning growled in frustration. "Hey! What was that about! I thought you were going to teach me to fight not beat me!" Aendir laughed heartily with a cough and wheeze. "She's going to show you; just some lessons are best learnt with a more 'hands on' approach." He chuckled with a wink.
Aurealis got up with a growl taking several more throws at her. "C'mon show me!" She growled. Crystal growled blocking her punches grabbing the last one throwing her to the ground once more."Now that you've got the first lesson down we can move into something a little more serious." She chuckled lending a hand down to her pupil helping her up. "Never let anger be a factor in your fighting, rage and anger will cause you to do stupid things and otherwise can be the very downfall of your person." She smiled. "I am going to teach you several throws which can ultimately turn the tables on an assailant. Two of which I used on you just a second ago!" She chuckled smiling. The tigress groaned in frustration. "Alright what are these throws? And how do I implement and know when its right to use them?" She asked questioningly. The young vixen smiled coming closer to her, "These throws are the backbone of any hand to hand situation and can save your life. If someone should ever grasp your arm, take them just under the armpit and their forearm and swing the opposite direction they are in. Here try it." She said gently taking the tigress's arm in her paw.
Aurealis took her under her arm and fore arm grunting and flipping her onto her back. With a grunt and smile she gets back up again. "Ah yes very well done, you will do quite well I'd say." She said about walk over and grabbed her forearm once more quickly. The tigress's eyes flashed flipping her out of instinct. "Ow..Nicely done Girl. Now that I think you have it pact down I think we can move onto the next step.
After several hours of training Crystal and Aurealis stood staring one another down. Both battered and beaten pretty bad from training. "Very good..You pass and have my vote." She looked at the fox with curiosity. "Vote?" She asked puzzled. "Yes, in order to be inducted you must gain the favor of at least two out of three masters to continue on to your next step of training." Aednir smiled with a weak wag of his tail. "Now that you have a firm grasp of hand to hand now it is time to move on to actual weaponry. Ochri, will be your trainer in this, once you are done with his course we will rest and you may move on to my final say." He smirked. "You may begin." A tall slender elven male looked at Aurealis with a grin; his complexion was a light yellow, his hair a dark brown and tied back in a rogue's knot. He wore leather armor trimmed with brown fur, brown fuzzy boots. "Right, now then. Take this; it's going to be your universal tool. It will be used to dig to cut to kill…" His eyes cold as the steel of his blade. Throwing her a steel dagger with leather bound base. A bone foundation. The tigress picked up the blade seeing her in the reflection of the blade. "First lesson, don't point that at anyone unless you intend to back up your threat." He said with a smirk.
"I want you to do just as you did with Crystal; I want you to come at me with that dagger." He smirked taking a dagger from his holster holding it closely with a defensive pose. Aurealis looked at him holding it like one would hold a staff or a spear. Raising it up above her head coming at him. With his free hand he takes her hand with the dagger and disarms her taking his dagger to her throat. "Never let your guard down… Not even for a second. " Aurealis grunted feeling the blade to her neck. As he released her she exhaled sharply. "Thanks..I'll be sure to remember that." She smirked. "There are two fundamental positions for these combat weapons, offensive and defensive. Defensive will give you a more firm stance in case an assailant comes at you, where as offensive is used more for assassinations and for parrying."
Days became nights as Aurealis's training was undergone. Aednir smiles at her with a look of pride holding a ceremonial robe."Your training is complete my child, when you return to the village you shall have to have the mark of the brotherhood placed upon your body to show your status in our sanctuary. Aurealis looked at him with a smile and a bow. "Thank you grand master Aednir." As they trudged their way back into town, the young tigress went to Ochri and sat next to him. "I need my mark." She said smiling. Ochri smiled pleased. "Of course dearest sister, I shall bestow the mark of the brotherhood upon you. " He placed his palm upon her arm as a resonating hum was heard. She winced in pain feeling the mark burn into her. It was a mark showing a dagger and arrow crossed over a leaf. "There we go dearest sister; you are with us now and forever." Aurealis bowed in gratitude standing up. "Thank you brother Ochri I shan't forget you in my travels. Upon finishing she slipped her robes on, a dark gray robe with an attached hood, a rope for a belt and the insignia of the Macabre just over her heart. She walked towards elder Aednir's hut. "Grand master..I cannot thank you enough for your hospitality you have shown me here.." She smiled gratefully fighting back a tear."I won't soon forget you in my travels..Father." She smiled coming closer to him.
Aednir looked at her with a look of pleasantry and peace. "You were a blessing to us here Aurealis. You will always be fondly remembered in this encampment. And you shall always have a place here with us." He smiled placing his weary paw upon her shoulder. "Go my child go and experience all there is out there in life for you." He smiled gratefully. The tigress smiled and wrapped her paws around him hugging him before she left his hut. As she was leaving the encampment the young wolf holding an arcane book came running over. "Hey! Wait, you're not leaving here without me darling. You're going to need some extra muscle around here if you want to survive in these woods." Aurealis smiled and nodded. "Alright you can come with me if it means that much." As the two left the encampment heading on the adventure of their life.