To Walk a Path

Chapter One: Did Somebody call for a Cathar?

A lone man made his way along the woodland road. A crescent moon hung in the sky, its silver light filtering through the treetops and casting speckled shadows on the ground. The road wound through the forest, walls of black and green foliage on either side. Occasional night sounds broke through the eerie quiet: the scuttle of a mouse in the undergrowth, an owl's hoot as it flew unseen through the trees. The man himself made no sound as he went along, his boots leaving only the faintest of impressions as he walked the well worn path. He wore a long white coat, faded and grayed by the passage of time. The collar of the coat was turned up to keep out the night's chill, and perched on his head was a brown tricorn hat. Of his face, little cold be seen, but two pale blue eyes stood out in the shadows of the hat's brim. At his hip was a sword in a scabbard, and strapped to his back was a bow and quiver of arrows. Around his neck was a thin metal chain, and hanging from it was a silver amulet, carved into a design reminiscent of two heron heads.

The man walked the road alone. Few would travel at night in Innistrad, most choosing to barricade themselves inside rather than face the night's terrors. And the night's terrors, these in inhuman monstrosities, were only growing stronger, even as humanity's defense weakened. The archangel Avacyn and her flights of angels no longer answered their pleas. Geists arose from their graves, no longer bound by holy wards to rest. Ghoulcallers and skaberen commanded ever growing armies of the undead. Vampires preyed on humans, many having left the mountains of Stensia as the blood supply dwindled. Werewolves were no longer confined to rural areas, and rumors of an attack on Thraeben swept across the country. Cathars, holy warriors of the Church of Avacyn, were increasingly sought after as the dark monsters grew stronger. Their need across the plane rose even as their numbers dwindled.

Still, many cathars strove faithfully to answer the cries and drive back the night. That was exactly what this man was doing as the road the road he followed moved into open ground, his destination coming into sight. A town stood a few hundred yards away from the forest, the path leading to a large gate in the timber wall that surrounded it. Two men with spears stood outside the gate, watching vigilantly for any threat. As the man approached, they lowered their spears menacingly.

"Halt!" shouted one, "Who goes there? Stop and identify yourself!"

The man stopped and raised head, the moonlight illuminating his face. "Marrick Lenor, son of Thomas," he said, brandishing the amulet around his neck, "cathar of the Church of Avacyn. I was sent here in response to reports of a geist in the area."

The guards relaxed, withdrawing their weapons. "Isaiah Torvorn, son of Ryan." Said one of them, stepping forward, "It's good to have you with us, cathar. Just a moment." He turned toward the gate, "Hey! Terrence! Open up, there's a cathar out here!"

"A cathar?" a voice yelped on the other side of the wall. There was a frantic scuffling noise, followed by a clank and muted cursing. Marrick heard the sound of a bolt being drawn, and then the gate swung inward. A blonde head peaked around the doorway, a lantern in one hand and a sword in the other. A pail seemed to have affixed itself to the man's foot, and a chair was lying askew to the right. Marrick's face flickered into a faint smile, something which Isaiah did not miss.

"You'll have to forgive Terrence," he said, "he's a good warrior, but he gets jumpy whenever someone new shows up."

Marrick nodded. "Understandable," he replied, "and not necessarily a bad thing, given the times." The mood darkened almost instantly, an uncomfortable silence falling over the group, each man brooding over his own experiences with the rising dark. Eventually, the guard who hadn't introduced himself spoke up.

"Tell me, cathar," he asked, "is it true what they say? Has the archangel abandoned us?"

Marrick turned to face him, his piercing blue eyes meeting cold brown ones. "I don't know," he replied, "Only the archbishops and the Lunarch saw the angel very often. I've seen her only once before, many years ago."

The grim silence return, broken after a moment by Terrence. "Well, at least you're here now." He said.

"Yes," replied Marrick, "and speaking of which, I need to talk to whoever's in charge around here. Could one of you lead me to him?"

"Of course," said Isaiah, "My watch is almost over anyway." He hesitated for a moment, "I have to warn you, though, not everyone is too happy with the Church right now. Father Xavier is doing the best he can, but the people are feeling…abandoned."

Marrick simply nodded. "I understand. Your town is not alone in that respect, but the ranks of the Church are diminishing. We cannot be everywhere at once. We, too, are doing the best we can. Now then, let's go see this Father Xavier." Wordlessly, Isaiah led him into the village.

A/N: Well, here it is. My first real MTG story. Please read and review and tell me what you think. Chapter Two might not be up for a bit, but rest asured I am definitely working on it.