Standing on an escarpment, Vlaren looked down upon the valley. The afternoon shadows of the hills stretched long over the fields of wheat and summer corn. There at the base of the valley lay the village Dawnfield. To the hills beyond grew the darkening Thorn Mouth. Instincts told Vlaren that’s where his quarry would have gone. His instincts were usually right.
Vlaren was a Rook, a hunter of the demonic. He wore the garb of his profession—a long gray coat and a plain iron mask with round eyeholes. He carried a metal staff topped with a small jade cylinder. The mask and staff were ancient things, the tools of his trade. They had been handed down to him by his master who had taught him the way of the Hunt.
Now he tracked down the breakers of the sacred laws, those who tried in secret to use the magic of the Ancients for infernal purposes. All of them were now disappeared to the dungeons below the Rookery.
He found the guilty and captured them. It was habit to him. Many ran, but he would find them. The same would go for this Judge and his daughter.
A ravanther sat beside Vlaren, also looking down into the valley. He was a large creature, one with the head of a raven and the body of a black panther. A standard mount for the Rooks.
Vlaren gave the ravanther a scratch on the neck. “Come on, old boy. Let’s see if they have anything interesting for us.”
He jumped on the ravanther’s back and coaxed his mount forward. Long feathers unfolded from the ravanther’s front and hind limbs, and the creature glided a short distance down from the escarpment, landing soundlessly on the grassy hill below. That was an advantage a ravanther had over a horse. While horses announced their coming with the clippity clop of hooves, a ravanther could tread stealthily on velvety paws. And should a situation ever go south, the claws and sharp beak made them good in a fight.
But all of that was only needed during the Hunt. First there were the formalities to attend to.