Order of the Red Band
An alluring young dancer who sways hypnotically as she walks.
Khora is an exceedingly attractive young lady who often captivates an entire room, men and women alike, when she begins to dance. She is just under average height for a human with long dark curling hair, large dark eyes, and an exotic olive complexion. When she dances, she wears a riot of colored flowing scarves ranging from sheer to opaque that hint at what lies beneath and leaves plenty for the imagination. She sways through rooms, captivatingly, her years of training as a dancer evident in her light step and sultry hips.
If someone is able to look past her exotic beauty, there is a steel to her eyes that belongs to a killer, not a dancer. Once a man sees this, her light step and sultry movements take on a dangerous and predatory nature. There is death in her eyes hiding a deep pain and thirst.
Kohra Caran jolted awake. ‘Is that screaming?’ she thought to herself. Suddenly there was a loud THUD against the door to her wagon as is it splintered inward. The creature that stood in the threshold was from a nightmare, large and covered in strange red symbols, the fire behind it casting a red tinge to its green skin. The creature before her grind wickedly, showing sharp yellowed teeth with pronounced canines jutting from its lower jaw. It was holding a large, slightly curved, blade seemingly made from the rusted scraps of other weapons.
‘Fire?! The wagons are on fire?!’ thought Kohra, strange that this should be her first thought.
Kohra’s mind snapped back to her immediate danger as the creature began marching purposefully toward her. Kohr scooted back as quickly as she could, but was stopped by the headboard of her bed. She began screaming, frantically, “Papa!! Help!!”
It lowered its weapon and reached one large clawed hand toward Kohra, its nails yellowed and broken.
Just as the creature was about to grasp hold of Kohra’s screaming face, the point of a blade blossomed red from the creature’s throat, immediately after a black-leather clad hand reached from behind the creature and pulled its forehead back sharply. The surprise in the creature’s eyes would have been comical if not for the sheer terror of the entire ordeal. The dying, gurgling creature fell forward, its weight knocking the wind out of Kohra. The visage confronting her now was no less strange as the dying creature. A black-clad woman was staring at her from behind a mask that hid the bottom of her face. The only features visible were her piercing grey eyes and a flowing platinum top-knot.
Then, over the noise, Kohra now recognized as the din of combat, she heard the heart-wrenching scream of her mother, “Kahl, NO!” Papa?! Thought Kohra. At that sound, the black-clad woman disappeared from the wooden wagon. Kohra was too worried about her mother to wonder how the woman could just disappear like that. Kohra grabbed the nearest weapon she could find and ran outside to help her parents. What she saw sent her to her knees.
There used to be twenty colorful covered wagons in her caravan, each wagon the home of one family of three or four Varisian gypsies. They were a quiet and peaceful community that travelled from city to city selling performances, harrowing readings, and small elaborate crafts. It was a nice life, full of color, cheer, and love. She shared her wagon with her father Kahl, mother Melynie, and younger brother Gotram. Now her world and every wagon was engulfed in smoke and flame with a multi-colored swirling vortex at the center of the camp. The families she grew up with were being butchered around her by creatures similar to the one that lay dying in her wagon. The colorful wagons she helped paint each summer were now painted in crimson splatters and clumps of something her mind refused to comprehend. Her best friend Hestara was not five feet from her, staring at her with eyes that would no longer laugh. Kohra was paralyzed.
The platinum haired lady flitted into view once again, easily cleaving the head from one of the creatures with an elegant and slightly curved blade. This snapped Kohra from her paralysis and she began moving to where her mother’s screams were emanating, straight toward the vortex. All around her, chaos. The platinum haired lady was not the only person fighting the creatures. In all, Kohra thought she counted twenty black-clad fighters but none of her own. As she reached the center of the camp, her world was split asunder once again.
There, at the center of the camp, not far from where she and Hestara had secretly tried dancing the veils, a dance only for women looking to entice a husband, was her family. Her father was on the ground, a once robust and vigorous man, now resembling a desiccated corpse. Her brother, only five, was huddled in the fetal position sobbing horribly. Her beautiful mother was suspended in mid-air before a tall tattooed man who radiated evil and power. As she watched, the man lifted his arm toward Kohra’s mother. Energy began flowing from Melynie toward the sorcerer, as the energy moved Melynie seemed to age while the sorcerer looked enlivened.
Finding a depth of courage she didn’t know she possessed, Kohra lifted her weapon and charged the man. With a mere flick of his hand, not even glancing in her direction, Kohra was sent sprawling backwards. As she climbed painfully to her feet to charge once again, she saw last vestige of life drain from her mother. The sorcerer then nonchalantly tossed her mother’s, now desiccated, corpse in a pile with her father’s. Tears stung at Kohra’s eyes as a soul piercing scream burst from her chest.
As the sorcerer reached for her brother, a glint of silver flashed through the night and struck the sorcerer in the shoulder.
“Gah!” he cried.
Clutching his shoulder, the sorcerer spun in the direction from where the blade had come. He snarled loudly, twisting his face into a visage from a nightmare.
‘You’re done here sorcerer.” Said the platinum haired lady as she sauntered from the billowing smoke. She was surrounded by four other black-clad warriors. Kohra wondered where the others were. The warriors encircled the sorcerer each wielding similar elegant, slightly curved blades.
Moving faster than Kohra could follow, one of the black-clad warriors charged the sorcerer! A cry “NO!” escaped from the platinum haired lady. But it was too late. The errant warrior was, instantly, beside the sorcerer, lashing out with his blade faster than any human should be able to. The sorcerer was not amused. As if bored, the sorcerer reached through the whirling defenses of the black-clad warrior and melted his face. The man’s screams seemed to be sucked into an abyss.
The remaining warriors attacked the sorcerer in concert trying desperately to drive him back from Gotram. As the line of battle passed over her mumbling brother, Kohra rushed to his side.
“Gotram!” she yelled as she tried to shake him from his stupor. But Gotram only stared at the desiccated corpses of their parents, flames slowly creeping toward them. A rough, yellow-nailed hand grabbed her shoulder and flung her to the side. One of those creatures, larger than the rest and wearing a crested helmet threw Gotram over his shoulder and swiftly bounded past the line of battle. With one short glance back at her, he grinned and leapt into the vortex with Gotram.
The sorcerer, seeing that the battle was lost, thrust his hands forward toward the besieging warriors. A wave of power threw them to the ground, where they struggled, but were unable to rise.
He chuckled wickedly. “You’ve not won here Desine.” he addressed the platinum-haired lady. I have what I came for. With those final words, he stepped arrogantly into the vortex and vanished.
As the vortex snapped close, Kohra Caran snapped awake from her waking nightmare, blinking at the mirror. ‘That was ten years ago!’ she thought. ‘Strange to be back so close to where it all began.’ She looked again at the mirror and its sign. ‘Welcome to Sandpoint! Please, stop and see yourself as we see you!’ it declared. ‘Well’, she thought to herself, ‘I better get in there and find some work, I’m quickly running out of coin and Gotram isn’t going to find himself.’