He stretched his muscles for a few moments and then turned and walked down the same path that he’d followed into the forest. Nothing other than birds seemed to be moving about, but still he kept his course straight and finally he neared the end of the forest path, glancing out into the late night sky that had the merest hint of approaching dawn.
Eleazar had his fingers up to his lips, preparing to whistle to his horse as he covered that last few yards of the forest, when to his surprise, he saw a tall pale female form standing beside his mount, staring into his eyes. The horse seemed hypnotized by her gaze.
At first he thought she must be a Faesidhe lady, for she wore a long, flowing, pale green dress and her form was nearly translucent. She had gracefully pointed ears and Elven features, long blonde hair and green eyes that seemed to shine in the pre-dawn dimness as she stood there serenely petting his horse, but then, upon his approach, turning her attention to him with a somewhat sad, distant smile.
"Your horse awaits your return." She said in a slightly deep, somehow exotic voice, her green eyes sparkling, "And behold, to your left rests the remains of the Ah’ndengin-mat, killed by the Faesidhe wizards. All evil has been purged from my forest… except for the evil that resides in you."
Eleazar stopped, her words chilling him, "Evil? In me?"
She continued smiling, as if looking into his very soul, "You know of what I mean, Eleazar. How long can the tumor infect you before your whole being is cancerous as well?"
She slowly came toward him, her eyes locked on his as she gracefully approached. The hair on the back of his neck began to stand on end and the Knight backed away from her unconsciously. He could not sense any evil about her, but he did feel great danger from the seemingly innocent lady.
"I am a Knight of the Blood Cross, a Paladin of Yesh." He said to her, his hand reaching over his shoulder for his great sword.
"Are you?" she asked softly, seeming to have covered the distance between them in one step, "Then why do you reach for your sword? Do you sense evil in me?"
"Stay back!" he warned, and he began to pull the great sword out. But she was right in front of him, her serene smile never wavering, and her beautiful green eyes drilling into his thoughts. She softly touched his arm and suddenly his sword arm went numb and weak.
Eleazar cried out, pulling his dagger free with his other hand and swiping at the lady who stood directly in front of him.
But she was gone! He twirled around, expecting some sort of illusion but she had simply vanished. He had just sheathed his dagger when suddenly she was behind him, embracing him tenderly as a lover would, her hands caressing his cheek and shoulder. Both went cold and numb at her touch and he tried to spin around, but he felt as if he were moving through some sort of thick mud.
"Shhh!" She said, her lips pressed against his ear, "Struggling will not help you. It hasn’t helped you at all so far, has it? Perhaps it has kept you alive, but it has also nurtured your hatred and stymied your faith. Let it go."
Gritting his teeth, he forced his limbs to plow through the resistance that slowed them so.
"Leave me alone! I’m warning you! I’m not in your forest now!"
"Forests are more than trees, and my influence goes farther then anyone knows."
"LEAVE ME ALONE!! IN THE NAME OF YESH, I COMMAND YOU TO BE GONE!!!" Eleazar roared the command of turning, which a Paladin could use sometimes to ward off the undead. The lady just shook her head sadly and touched his other arm, causing it to go cold and numb.
"You are growing colder, Eleazar." She whispered gently, her warm breath on his cheek, "You have forgotten the warmth of your mother for the coldness of your father."
"SHUT UP!! GET AWAY FROM ME, WITCH!!!"
She softly chuckled, "It is you who are enchanted, Eleazar, hiding the evil within you, wrapped up with the rags of your holiness and faith. It consumes you like a cancer."
"LEAVE!! QUIT VEXING ME, WITCH!!!"
"You vex yourself and do not understand why." She caressed his cheek and brow and his head began to spin and sight began to blur.
"STOP IT!!! What do you want with me?!" His legs began to feel like lead and he began to slide to the ground.
"I am here to consume you." she said, gently holding him as he slid down, "You will be destroyed, so that you may live."
His mind began to spin, franticly he tried to fight it, but he couldn’t. He heard himself say something, a word he had not uttered in that context for many years, and the sound of his lips uttering it filled him with horror.
"Come" He whispered to the blackness.
It came upon him more violently then before, stepping into him instantly and powerfully.
With an unearthly roar, THEY grabbed the green-eyed woman by her throat, squeezing with all of THEIR might. Eleazar felt the rage fill him, but was like a fly in a web and could only watch in agony.
But suddenly the woman vanished, and the demon glanced at THEIR hands still wringing the air where her neck had been.
"You are unclean." A voice came from a short distance away, to THEIR right, and there the lady stood against a tree at the edge of the forest, "You never left him, did you? You’ve waited, ready to lash out again. Yet you cannot stop me from mocking you."
THEY lunged forward, a startlingly fast bolt of speed, arms wide and hands held claw-like to clutch her and rend her to pieces. She serenely waited for THEM and THEY grabbed her delicate shoulders, lifting her easily up off the ground as supernaturally enhanced muscles began to tighten vice-like on her arms.
The lady just laughed, amused at THEIR deed and suddenly she morphed into Matron Dar’thellia, complete with her metal spider breast-plate and purple silk cloak.
With a growl, THEY squeezed tighter and tighter, feeling her bones and knowing that they’d snap soon. Gleefully THEY squeezed until they crunched and THEY looked into her face, hopeful to see agony and pain. THEY were not disappointed, for she stood there wide-eyes filled with the tears of pain and agony contorting her features. But it wasn’t the face of Dar’thellia but that of Silia Fannithal.
"No" Eleazar told the demon, but it just squeezed the harder, snapping her arms. Blood pooled at her lips as she looked at him pleadingly.
"NO!" He screamed, but the demon now began to pull on her arms as if to rip them both out of socket. Eleazar looked down into her pain-filled face.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" With all of his willpower he yanked his soul free and he was falling, falling, falling. But before he could hit the ground, something had flung him violently a short distance into the side of a tree. He hit hard, stars flashing in his head as he slumped to the ground, but some invisible force yanked him up by his throat, slamming his head back again and again into the side of the tree.
"FOOL!!!" an evil voice screamed at him, using his own lips to speak, "YOU CANNOT BE FREE FROM ME!!! HOW DO YOU THINK YOU FOUND YOUR STRENGTH IN BATTLE? HOW DID YOU RISE IN RANK SO QUICKLY? I GAVE YOU YOUR STRENGTH, NOT YOUR FAITH IN PUNY YESH! YOU HAVE NO FAITH!!! YOU HAVE NO POWER, NO HOLINESS!!! I WAS THE ONE WHO MIMICKED YOUR POWERS!!! YOU DID NOT EVEN KNOW, YOU THOUGHT YESH CONFIRED THEM UPON YOU LIKE ANY OTHER PALADIN!!! FOOL!!! NOW IN THE END YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH!!!"
"Leave me alone." He spoke to the demon, "I trust in Yesh."
"YESH? WHERE IS HE NOW?!!!"
An unseen force began lifting him into the air by his throat, slowly choking him. He was unable to speak, unable to even breathe, his very life-force draining from him. In his mind he cried out, "Yesh, forgive me, I have been deceived. Forgive me for my failures."
His vision began to gray and he let his body go limp, wondering if the demon would drag his soul to Hell at his death. Suddenly the green-eyed lady was walking toward him, he saw her from above, as the unseen force strangled him. She raised her hands and a flash of green light shot from her hands, swirling around in the air in front of him, outlining the unseen form of a huge being. The green whirlwind seemed to attack the being like a swarm of bees. Eleazar was dropped to the ground as the demon twirled and swatted at the green glow that twirled around him.
The green-eyed lady stood still, focusing on the attack and for a long time the demon seemed to be on the verge of casting the spell off. Suddenly, the lady opened her mouth and bellowed out the most mournful wail he had ever heard. All the grief of a million women seemed to issue forth from her mouth and the Elf felt as if he could not take any more of her grieving howl. But before Eleazar’s startled eyes the fiend outlined in the green glow seemed to be shrinking in size as well as substance until with a small pop both the demon and the green glow vanished, leaving behind the smell of sulfur. The lady’s anguished moaning stopped as soon as the demon disappeared.
Eleazar slumped to the ground, all strength gone from his body. With blurred vision he saw the mysterious lady walk over to him and kneel down, touching his brow, her touch now seeming normally warm to him.
"There." she said with satisfaction in her voice, "I have killed you. Now it will be up to others to help you to live again. Sleep, Eleazar." She touched his eyelid and he felt himself drop quickly off into a deep slumber.