Plot to Free the DemonEdit
Long ago Withengar was bound and imprisoned beneath the Needle’s Eye. Sometime later his followers devised an underhanded plan to free him using Traft, the celebrated slayer of fiends, who had become a thorn in the side of demonkind. While the act of being destroyed was not a permanent obstacle for the demons, Traft's repeated slayings had frustrated their plans to corrupt human minions, gather eternal souls, and feed their lust for power. So, as demons do, they laid a trap and plotted their revenge.
One night, Saint Traft returned home to the human village of Shadowgrange in Stensia.
The first thing he noticed was that an angel of Avacyn was perched on the roof of his tiny cottage, her sword drawn as if ready to leap into the air and fight. Angels often accompanied him to battle infernal forces, but none had ever visited his home. The wards above his door had been scratched out and neutralized, and the door hung ajar. The lock had been ripped free of the latch.
The angel didn't speak, but her concern was clear. She was ready to hunt down whatever had breached his cottage. Traft touched the Silver Collar symbol that hung around his neck and greeted the angel with a nod. Then he went inside, and made a horrible discovery.
Spread across his small kitchen table was a map of Stensia. A jagged, demonic dagger had been jammed into the table right through the map, stabbing into the infamous mountain pass known as Needle's Eye. Letters of blood ringed around the dagger, spelling out a message:
“Come Without Angels Or We Send The Rest Of Her”
Resting near the words was the finger of a young girl. Traft never removed his scabbard from his belt. He turned and left, closing the door behind him carefully, readying his horse to leave for Needle's Eye immediately. But there was the matter of the angel.
A saint rarely lies. But Saint Traft knew he must choose the lesser evil, lying to an angel in order to prevent a greater one, the death of a child. The dark choice also meant he knew it must be demon's work, tempting him to do wrong.
He looked up to the warrior angel on his roof. "It's nothing," he told her. "I'll handle it." He got on his horse and rode away, not knowing whether his message was clear. The angel had sensed the lie, but she also sensed the urgency in Traft's voice and trusted the saint's skill in battle. She did as he wished, and did not follow.
Battle at Needle’s EyeEdit
Needle's Eye was a path humans only used in emergencies. It was beset by vengeful geists and blood-lusting vampires, and Traft was alone, without his angelic attendant. Saint Traft used Avacynian magic to protect himself from a cloud of skeletal bats, and had to sacrifice his horse to escape a vampire that had gone mad from blood rage. But he made his way to the highest point of the pass: the crest of Needle's Eye.
He saw a gathering of cultists in robes, their hoods pulled up over their faces. They danced in a jerky, crazed circle around a young girl. The girl was missing her left index finger, and her eyes had rolled into the back of her head. With a flourish, the lead cultist enshrouded her in the same kind of robe that the rest of the cultists wore, and cast a withering grin at Traft. Before Saint Traft could act, the cultist-priest drew from his sleeve an intricately carved dagger made from bone.
"You call your angels, and she dies," said the cultist.
Then the cult-leader uttered a string of syllables and cast a spell. A black, ash-flecked fog gushed from the earth, covering the mountain pass in malevolent darkness. The shuddering, reeling cultists and their victim disappeared into the gloom, leaving Traft blind. From within the cloud came an unearthly voice, a booming laugh that sounded like the echoing rumble of an infinite pit.
This is when Traft would have summoned the host of Avacyn. Flights of angels, trusting his call, would have appeared from the clouds and swept the mountain with holy light, purging the monsters.
But Saint Traft was not willing to endanger the child. He didn't even utter a warding spell, fearing that to call upon Avacyn's protection would risk bringing the attention of an angelic flight. He merely drew his sword and stepped forward, wracking his brain to remember where the entranced child stood and where the dancing cultists had been spinning.
Within the dark fog, Traft's blade found cultist after cultist. Each one shrieked with an eerie cackle, their bodies falling to the ground one by one. Finally he slew what he believed to be the lead cultist, putting his sword through the man's heart and letting him drop to the ground, and the fog cleared away.
To his great relief, the girl remained. The cultists had put a spell on her to make her dance, making her indistinguishable from the cult members in the gloom, but he had not touched her. The bodies of the dead cultists bled out onto the ground.
But to Traft's horror, his hand did not hold his sword, but the bone dagger of the cult-priest and now it was covered in the blood of many sacrifices. He began to hear that echoing laughter again, booming up from below him like infernal thunder.
Betrayed. Tricked into doing a demon's bidding yet again. Traft dropped the dagger on the ground, and the ground began to crack at that spot, splitting like shoddy fabric. The cultist's bone dagger disappeared into the crack, swallowed by earth.
Saint Traft rushed to unbind the child. He called on Avacyn's aid to dispel the possession spell they had cast on her, and she groggily came to as if awaking from a dream.
"What's happening?" she said.
"Go," he told her. "Run, child. Run home."
Saint‘s Death, Demon‘s FreedomEdit
As the girl ran down the path toward the village, Traft found his sword hidden in the lead cultist's robe. He turned to face the shattering crack in the earth. As the horns and spreading wings of a great demon rose from the rent in the ground, Saint Traft finally said his withheld prayer, calling on the aid of the angels of Avacyn.
An angel arrived, the same one who had perched upon his cottage. But she was too late. The demon Withengar had destroyed the living saint, the famed slayer of demonkind. With the help of more angelic attendants, the angel pushed back the demon-lord Withengar, unleashing her fury upon him and destroying him for a time. But Saint Traft was no more, and Withengar, no longer bound by ancient magics, began to torment the world once more.
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