The people of Otomoty Woods are cursed by the fay to live in eternal darkness. Hazael (a skilled wizard) comes to the woods in order to escape some thieves and is intrigued by the curse. He goes to the king to offer his help but is turned away. He decided to camp just outside of the small city for the night. Enter however you like. If you have ideas you want to discuss, go here. Sorry about the long intro! Not all my posts are this long, hahaha. Hazael moved in a blur through the tall golden grasses. His legs felt numb and breathing made his chest swell as if it could explode. In his left hand, he clutched a small gold orb. His palm had grown slick with sweat, and every time his arm swung forward, he feared dropping the small orb. Behind him, he heard the pounding of hooves like thunder in the cool morning air. Only a few strides in front of him, the tree line of the Otomoty Woods rose in dark, skeletal shadows and the sunlight disappeared entirely. A heavy wall of clouds crouched above. He tore into the brush. Blackberry thorns and bare branches scraped at his clothing, but he cared little. Already, his indigo robes had suffered from his journey. Behind him, the hooves suddenly came to a stop, and he tumbled forward into the darkness, his legs completely exhausted. "Show yourself wizard!" A voice cried into the shadows. Quietly, he lay against the cold earth and looked through the trees at the blackness above. He understood. A land without sunlight was surely cursed land. The thieves would never dare to set foot in it if they knew what was good for them. "Did he get away?" Another voice followed the silence after a few long moments. The first thief snorted. "He'd be better off facing us. Let him rot in the woods. That bit of gold isn't worth our lives." The two thieves waited at the edge of the woods for a few more minutes before turning their horses around. The wizard lay breathing heavily and thinking. He suspected that the two would camp out in the valley and wait for him. Though not worth their lives, the gold orb was a small fortune to them. He held up the orb in the shadows and squinted at its vague outline. The day before, it had been nothing more than a ball of mud. "I shouldn't have shown off," he muttered to himself as he sat up. "Pride always leads to trouble." Though he reminded himself of this, he could not help being proud. A successful alchemist was a rare thing to come across. And so, having caught his breath, he let out a loud laugh and dusted off his robes. "Oh, I really am clever," he mused, turning his back to the tree line and gazing into the Otomoty Woods. "Only a wizard like myself could tramp through cursed land without worry. But first..." He spun the gold orb on his finger tip and chanted a few ancient words. A glow crackled to life from the orb so that he could see far enough in front of him to avoid tripping. He held the orb between two finger tips and began a very long walk without knowing where he would end up. Curses were always a curiosity to the young wizard. They were nothing more than puzzles when one got down to it, and wizards naturally loved puzzles being creators of great trickery themselves. Unfortunately for Hazael, he had not bargained on the miles of walking ahead of him. It was late into the evening when he reached the rotting outskirts of farmland, though he only judged the time of day by his fatigue. In the distance, he caught the dim flickering of fire and could make out the outlines of buildings. He paused, wondering if he should change course or press forward. "I could certainly use a warm fire," he said and strode in the direction of the firelight. Upon coming close enough to the first row of homes, he could tell that this was no small village. Rows of houses stretched along dark streets as far as he could squint. Still set on finding the source of the firelight, he continue quietly through the streets. The woods had felt safer than these streets. Here the curse could be felt fully, its energy blanketing the city like fog. It could not have been made by man, he realized. Only a fairy could muster up this sort of power... Now, he could see a mead hall, built taller and longer than the quiet shops and homes around it. The fire burned from a great torch centered in front of it by which stood a guard. "Who comes to the hall of my king?" The guard called out to the wizard. "Only I. A weary wizard in need of a warm fire," he said. He certainly did not look imposing. His indigo robes wear tattered, his long black hair tangled, and his pale eyes bloodshot. His response seemed to satisfy the guard who allowed him to pass into the mead hall, which was lit only by firelight. There were people hunched over the long tables and stretched across the benches. They eyed him suspiciously as he padded quietly towards the thickly carved, wood throne. "Hail!" He boomed politely. His voice carried in an echo throughout the hall. The people began to mutter amongst themselves. The king sat up in his throne and glared at Hazael. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" "I..." He cleared his throat, nervous by the informality and muttering. "I am Hazael Winthrollow, a humble wizard that has traveled far. I offer this as a token of my good will..." As he held up the glowing orb, the light faded, and it returned to gold. "And I ask only that you satisfy my curiosity. The curse that hangs over your land intrigues me." "Keep your gold and your curiosity. We've had enough of magic folk here," the king grunted and slouched back into his seat. "Alsterin!" A man stepped from behind Hazael. "We could use the help of a wizard. No ordinary man could lift the curse of..." "Do not speak his name!" The king roared and pounded his fists against the arms of his throne. Delighted by the excitement, Hazael desperately wanted to press the issue, but he knew better. "If you do not wish to have a powerful ally against the fay that troubles you, then..." He turned on his heel. "I will be on my way!" The man that had interjected caught the sleeve of his robe. "Wait!" "Your king does not wish for my help," the wizard hissed. "Hear reason Alsterin!" The man pleaded. "Leave us!" The king shouted. The man's hand dropped from Hazael's sleeve. Surprised by the ferocity of the king, he quietly left the mead hall. "Good evening," he said as he passed the guard and lit the orb once again. By the time he reached the withering fields, exhaustion had pressed upon him heavily. His gaze drifted from one far end of the tree line to the next. The woods hardly seemed suitable for sleeping. The fields seemed too open. Uncertain of his next move, he sat on an abandoned wagon and produced a small pipe, which he perched at the corner of his lips. He would need a fire and a blanket of some sort. He lit the pipe with a small spark from his fingertip and set the orb carefully beside him. Puffing quietly at his pipe, he stood and began to pull together the dried, dead plants to build a fire. He saw movement in the corner of his eye. “Who’s there?” He called without looking up from his work.