Vure glided down from space, descending to the surface of Dolor. Their feet pressed down into the firm soil, heads tilted back, and they breathed deeply, savoring the smell. Walking forward, they turned their palms skyward, running their fingers through the leaves of the waist-high bushes.
“This planet seems too beautiful for Anodyne to have created it.”
Vure said in disbelief as their eyes angled upwards to the large mountain range in the distance. The clouds hide the uppermost peaks. Flocks of birds flew overhead, dappling the ground light from the two suns above. The plains around Vure stretched out in all directions, covered in lush bushes spotted with a variety of berries that gave a flair of color to an otherwise green landscape. Vure’s motion halted as they heard a snapping twig behind them. Rotating their torso, leaving their feet facing forward, Vure watched with delight as a small family of hedgehogs made their way through the bushes, sniffing out and plucking berries that hung low enough.
“You’re not supposed to be out during the day, little ones; I hope you aren’t sick.”
Grabbing a handful of deep blue berries, Vure lowered their hand slowly. Carefully placing the back of their hand on the ground, they waited. The mother cautiously approached Vure, sniffing wildly around Vure. Tenderly, it stepped onto Vure, removing a berry, before scurrying back to her babies. Time and time again, the Mother hedgehog removed berries from Vure’s hand. Eventually, the mother became trusting, and a bond was made. Vure picked up the mother slowly, stroking back her spines as they lifted her into their body’s embrace. The mother rolled over, exposing her belly; Vure took their chance and gently stroked across her furry underside.
“There is no way Anodyne made this planet; it is far too nice.” Vure said, looking around.
Quiet squeaks ran around Vure’s feet as the babies cried for their mother. Smiling behind their mask, Vure put down the mother, watching as she re-grouped her babies, and they made their way deeper into the bushes.
“I know Anodyne said to make impressions on these planets, but I don’t think he will notice if I just played with some animals for a bit.”
Vure grinned greedily at the thought; they levitated above the bushes and started to tail the now fast-moving hedgehog family.
“I wonder if I could become a god of animals. Spending my time protecting animals from hunters and making sure there is enough food to go around. I could even keep balance among the herbivores and carnivores, making sure that…oof.”
“Momma Hog, I think I will name you Susan. As for your babies, I will name all four of them Sue. Then when you start a family band, it can be called. Susan four Sue. You can be a country band that sings songs about lesbians.”
Vure rested their hands behind their head before rotating onto their back; still following the hedgehogs, they looked upwards to the bright blue sky.
“You can tour the country, singing in barns to people wearing plaid. Causing trouble with the law everywhere you go as your concerts stay loud till the early hours of the morning. Then….Oof.”
Vure tucked up, turning so they could look at the tree they had collided with. The sound of their collision spooked the hedgehogs to run off in another direction.
“Sorry little hedgehogs, stay safe.”
Vure looked ahead of the hedgehogs to a small hut that stuck out of the nearby tree line. Barely visible through the thick brush that surrounded it.
“That looks crude, probably made by someone with limited tools.”
Vure started to float towards the structure, turning invisible as they went.
Vure watched as the small family of hedgehogs made their way past the edge of the hut, disappearing into the treeline. Vure walked through the bushes, making their way to the edge of the wooden hut. Laying a hand across it, they felt the coarse bark on the hut.
“Hmmm.” Vure hummed as they rubbed their fingers together. “Feels odd after holding a soft little animal; almost tingles to the touch.”
Vure floated into the trees, breaking through the thick low, hanging branches and revealing a community of small humanoid creatures. Stocky, short, fur-covered creatures with a variety of mono to multi-colored furs. Most of their faces were hidden behind masks, even though it seemed as if they were just doing daily routines and not gathering for some form of event. Smaller children ran around as the adults tended to crops and gardens filled with herbs. A few tables were scattered around, and Cappies sat at them, making salves, potions, and other medical elixirs. Vure smiled at the simple lives that laid out before them. A warmth grew in their soul as they continued to watch.
“You are just the sweetest little things; I think I will make you my first point of contact. Then I can bring Light back here, and we can spend the night sleeping in massive piles of fur.” Vure looped through the air with joy, disrupting the leaves on the trees and covering the small humanoids with a blanket of foliage. Some of them look upwards. The largest of the humanoids stepped into the center of the small village.
“The trees grow restless; we shall make sure to bring them plenty of water this day. We owe all we have to nature; let us not take it for granted now we are abundant in resources.” The leader turned to retrieve two wooden buckets, making his way deep into the forest.
“This is my chance.” Vure said, tailing the leader out of the prying eyes of the rest of the village.
Vure watched carefully as the creature did its best to avoid harming the flora around him. With every step, more and more animals became aware of his presence, running over to him to greet him. Small groupings of rabbits bounced by his knees as a lonely doe walked by his side, licking his velvety white-tipped black fur to show affection as they made their way to the river.
“Who are you, friend?” Vure asked, remaining invisible.
The leader looked around; he checked his surroundings before resuming his walk.
“You know it would be considered rude not to answer me.” Vure chuckled as they floated just ahead of the leader.
“Where are you hiding, voice?” The leader said calmly, making sure to maintain pace.
“Well, I am not hiding, not really. I am right in front of you; you just can’t see me.”
“You’re not hiding? I must be going blind.” The leader marched on, unfazed and steady.
“You are very calm; I could be hostile. Are you not afraid?” Vure asked, puzzled by the strange creature.
“Why would I need to be scared? No one wants to harm a Cappy. Besides, I have friends looking over me.” Snapping his three large fingers together, four large wolves appeared on the leader’s flanks.
“These are just the ones that don’t mind being seen; there are plenty more watching my back, front, and side. You get the idea, strange hidden voice.”
“Hmm, I think I am beginning to understand. You are a very interesting little species of…”
“We are known as Cappies; you must be new around here. Everyone has heard of us.”
Vure stood in front of the Cappy leader, removing their invisibility. Vure quickly found themselves surrounded by snapping jaws. Snarling as they waited for the command to kill.
“My god, you are indescribable.” The Cappy leader said, struck with awe by Vure’s image.
“Already declaring me as your god? That was quick.”
Vure slowly started to turn invisible once again.
“What are you? Why are you here?”
“I am just as you said, your god. I have come down from the heavens to offer my guidance and protection to all Cappies.” Vure finishes their sentence from complete invisibility.
“Get your water, feed your trees. And let your people know Vure shall be guiding them from the shade of the forest.”
Vure continued to watch over the Cappy population, helping in small ways where they could. Making herbs grow large, filling them with their medicinal properties. Guiding the strongest of animals to them for protection. Over the months they watched, they would, on occasion, appear for minutes at a time to interact with the Cappies. They would play with the children, allowing the parents time to rest. Sitting down with others, Vure helped them with their mask carving. Giving tips on how to get a much better quality. One night, Vure could not hold in their wants anymore; they flew down and made themselves visible.
“I will re-appear tomorrow night for a whole night; this is a reward for your continued devotion. Let us have a party; let us experience together.”
The Cappies cheered, all running around without direction.
“Everyone, gather. We must plan our night carefully, come around, and we shall plan.” The leader yelled as he beckoned his people in. They gathered close to one another, fidgeting with excitement. Plans were slowly made, Cappies peeling off from the crowd to fulfill the tasks they were given for the upcoming night.
The next night came, and all the Cappies stood in wait. They wore their best masks and made sure their fur was in perfect condition. All through the base of the trees were jars filled with glow bugs, giving the village a soft glow. Food was laid out over multiple tables, and in the center, a large empty circle of the forest floor was kept clear. Leaves started to gather in the circle, at first in clumps, then they spread evenly over the space. Lifting from the ground, the leaves rotated individually, creating a pattern of earthly colors before the awe-struck Cappies. A large spire of leaves formed in the center, slowly making the shape of Vure. They exploded outwards, and all that was left behind was Vure.
“Let us all enjoy this night, for tonight we let loose.”
Everyone rushed Vure, laying their hands on them and crying their name. Vure floated above everyone and, with a wave of their hand, parted the tree tops. With a window to the sky, Vure rolled onto their back and drifted back to the ground staring upwards. Raising one hand, bending their fist into the shape of a gun.
“Bang.” Vure said eagerly as the sky lit up with explosions of colors and strange patterns
The Cappies were captivated; some took up instruments and began to play. Others danced to the color spectacle that had been seen by Cappy’s eyes before this night. Meanwhile, a few natives lay next to Vure, enjoying the night by relaxing in a joyous environment. Vure gazed around, noticing that those on the ground were all bruising thick leaves with their thumbs. Licking at the exposed moisture, their pupils dilated, and their breath slowed. Vure took an unused leaf, following as the others did. As their body relaxed, Vure felt themselves fall limp. Looking up to the night sky, they let loose another firework from their fingertip. The explosion seemingly moved in slow motion as the sound reverberated in the air. The music had slowed; looking around, everyone was dancing in what appeared to be slow motion. Chuckling, Vure laid back into the grass, enjoying the rest of the night with their followers.
Come the morning, Vure awoke in a pile of warm fur. Clawing their way out of a pile of Sleeping Cappies, Vure once again went invisible, making sure to keep mystery around their image by not appearing too often. Over the day, they watched as everyone collected themselves, returning their small village back to its original state. From the corner of Vure’s eye, a Cappy came running into the camp, sprinting at full speed.
“The traders are coming; everyone, get out your supplies.” He yelled as he made his way into a small hut. Popping his head out for one moment, he yelled again. “And maybe we should get the animals out of here for now.”
Vure looked around and noticed a surprisingly large number of small animals that were wandering around, playing with the children and idle adults. But once the call was made, they all instinctively started to make their way deeper into the forest. The children followed, chasing them to try and pick a few up. All slowly disappearing into the forest. The Cappies gathered their supplies in the center of their small village, setting up what appeared to be a market. Each individual had their own stall, with a variety of medical supplies, from burn heals to paralysis antidotes.
Vure waited, as did the Cappies.
“I wonder what species these traders will be?” Vure puzzled, flying upwards through the canopy. Disrupting the leaves, a couple of those on the ground looked up, smiling as a heavy load of twigs and leaves fell from their trees. Looking over the trees, Vure caught the last of the wandering merchants making their way into the forest.
“Well, if they are all the same as that last woman, they are just humans. Little disappointing; maybe their town will have other races.”
Vure looked around their surroundings, using their enhanced vision to spy out villages.
“Let us see, they probably came from that small port village to the north. Traveled down the shore, cut into this area, which means that they knew about my little friends.” Vure said as they directed their vision south.
Vure spent a moment memorizing the layout of the land around them, focusing on well-used routes and flags of neighboring villages. Slowly descending, they took one last look before falling below the tree line. Once below the canopy, Vure noticed just how many people came with the trade caravan.
“Maybe this place is dangerous because that is three… no four bodyguards and the caravaner for what seems like a simple trade run.”
Vure got closer to the group, listening to the conversation.
The caravaner stood next to his ox-pulled cart, a cart with plenty of room for purchases. His simple clothes remained surprisingly clean, all the way down to his shoes. He looked over the small market, grinning. He picked up a red vial. Swirling it in his hand, he turned to an archer who stood right behind him.
“What kind of quality are we dealing with?”
The archer slung their bow across their shoulder, pulling a small strip of paper from their pocket. Cracking the bottle top, she dipped in the paper strip. Exposing the paper to the air resulted in the strip changing to a deep purple.
“This is better than what our alchemist does… significantly better. We could charge double for these, maybe more.” She said, capping the vial and returning it to the caravaner.
The caravaner turned back to the Cappy that stood behind the stall he took from. Talking loudly and slowly.
“I. Am. Toran. You. Are?”
The furry humanoids looked at one another and laughed.
“We speak common, probably better than you. But we don’t use names; we identify each other by our masks.”
They pulled out crudely carved masks and wore them, turning back to Toran.
“Right… very unique. Well, seeing as this should be all at the same quality, we will take it all.”
They all jumped with joy, packing their wares into boxes. The bodyguards ferried the goods onto the cart.
Toran looked over the empty stalls, turning his ox around.
“Well, pleasure doing business with you. We will be back; I am sure a month should be enough to restock your supplies.”
The Cappy leader stood forward.
“You are forgetting something, Toran.”
“I don’t think I am; all your stalls look empty to me.” Toran said as he continued to walk away.
“They are, and so are our pockets. You need to pay.”
The caravanning group all laughed.
“Well, what are you going to do? Everyone knows Cappies are pacifists. You have no fighting capabilities.” Toran said, grabbing the shoulder of his two closest guards. “And these guys are here because I have heard about your pesky little ability to control animals. I am sure there are some aggressive animals that live in your woods, wolves maybe?”
“You think four guards are enough to hold off a pack of wolves?” The Cappy leader asked
“Oh, I know they are; every one of them is licensed under the adventurer guild. A team that has been working together for years. We have Via, the top-notch archer.”
“And wannabe alchemist.” She added as she led the ox from the forest.
“Behind her is Derra, a grade-A swordsman. The big guy is Brex, and if you missed his hammer, you must be blind. As for her…”
“We don’t care about your show of people. Return the goods, pay us, or meet our friends.” The Cappy leader said as he raised his hand, his fingers locked and ready to snap.
“We will take our chances; move out, everyone.” Toran said as they made their way out of the forest.
A faint snap was heard as the group walked from the forest; ignoring it, the caravaners kept walking. Vure floated above them as they watched a large pack of wolves make their way through the forest.
“This could be interesting; I genuinely don’t know who is going to win this.” Vure mumbled.
The pack of wolves was in full sprint, surrounding the caravan from every side. The Cappies all gathered at the edge of the forest to watch.
“You are outnumbered, and I doubt even your crew can take on a full-strength pack of twenty. And my friend here,” The lead Cappy said as he patted the side of an enormous brown bear. The large bear made its way forward, growling with every step. The wolves stepped aside as they let the towering beast move forward.
“Sharell, do you think you can handle this?” Toran said as he gestured to the approaching bear.
“With pleasure.” She said, stepping forward, her long flowing dress gently rippling in the wind.
The bear snarled as it circled around Sharell, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Having weighed up its options, it moved, leaping forward with ferocity and determination. Sharell smiled, slicing her hand with an ornate dagger. Her eyes lit up red as her mouth ran, muttering a strange language under her breath.
Toran yelled across to the Cappies.
“You shouldn’t have interrupted me; you would have known we had a blood mistress on our side.”
A dull red glow started to seep from Sharell’s wound, surrounding her hand and encompassing her. The bear, now spitting distance in full charge, started to roar. Sharell released her energy, tearing its way towards the bear.
Vure, now realizing that the odds fell in favor of the caravaners, flew in front of the red energies that were radiating towards the bear. Removing their invisibility, they plummeted to the ground, upturning the earth beneath their feet. As they contacted the ground, a thunderous clap resonated in the air. Their form inspires fear among the caravan guards. The red energies surrounding Sharell faded as she shielded her eyes from the cascading clumps of dirt and grass.
“Sharell, you got THIS right?” Toran said as he swiftly made his way behind the Caravan.
“As long as it has blood, I can kill it.” Sharell said, stepping forward.
The bear skidded and turned at the last second, narrowly avoiding a collision with Vure, changing its trajectory to the forest; the wolves lost their nerve as they looked at the intimidating of Vure. Turning tail, they followed the bear. The bear and wolves all gathered around the Cappies, watching in wait.
“You are a scary creature, which just makes killing you all the more exciting.” Sharell continued as she slashed her hand once again. Eyes aglow, she began her chant; a red glow surrounded Vure. But faded to no effect.
“You are strong for your size, but I would like to see you stop this.”
Digging in deeper than before, she drew a vast amount of her own blood. A paleness fell across her face as she chanted once again. Stumbling forward, she looked up to Vure’s un-altering form. Red energies encompassed them once again but faded.
“You think such a simple magic could harm me?” Vure said, staring down the weakened woman.
“I was born before the stars; a simple blood rite could not possibly affect my perfect form” Vure started to walk forward, hand outstretched towards Sharell.
“Not that you will ever get another chance to find out.” Vure spoke calmly as they touched Sharell, a faint glow emanating from the touch. She cut her hand again, lightly this time. Trying to cast a simple spell that failed.
“My magic, I can’t feel my aura anymore.” Sharell said, concerned. “I can’t feel my magic!” She continued with hysteria in her voice.
“Now, how about you, big guy?” Vure stated, composed as they made their way to the hammer-wielding Brex.
“You might be strong against magic, but no one your size can handle my strength.” Brex screamed, charging with his hammer at his side.
“A man who values his strength, what would happen if it were to fail?” Vure said, snapping their fingers.
Brex’s grip failed as his hammer fell to the ground; stopping in his tracks, he struggled to lift the hammer.
“What have you done to me?” Brex yelled as he continued to fumble with his hammer.
“As for you two, wielding finesse weapons. Be a shame if you had no hand-eye coordination.” Venture snapped their fingers again. Watching as the remaining two guards attacked.
The Archer nocked an arrow; lining up her shot, she let loose an arrow that flew high above Vure’s head. Screaming, Derra ran in and swung his sword, slicing wide. Both dropping their weapons in shock, hands shaking, they turned to Toran with desperation in their eyes. Toran poked his head out from the back of the caravan.
“What do you want?” Toran warbled out.
“Return my people’s supplies, or I’ll come after you next.”
Toran waved his hand for his guards to get the supplies.
“No, small man, you do it personally. Or else.”
Toran sighed, lifting the cargo back to the Cappies. After the supplies were returned, Toran made his way back to the cart where all his guards were sitting inside.
“Okay, I have returned the supplies. We are going to leave; we promise not to return. Now return my people’s abilities.”
“I’m sorry, but are you giving me a command?” Vure asked rhetorically. Floating their torso around Toran, grabbing his shoulders and lifting him high into the air.
“You have no control here; you are no longer dealing with men and monsters. You are staring down the face of a god, or at least you will be.”
Venture grabbed Toran’s face in both of their hands, sparing one to lift back their mask. Toran looked on with horror, their pupils dilating as his mind slowly leaped from reality, leaving him in a land of make-believe. Vure returned him to the ground, letting Toran go. He looked around at those on his cart, laughing; he removed his shirt and ran off towards the woods. His guards stared on in confusion. The Cappies ran over to Vure, surrounding them in chant. Via cried out over the Cappies.
“What are you?”
“If you really want to know, you will have to ask your boss. He saw my truth, and look at how he is doing.”
Everyone looked over as Toran sat down at the base of a tree, eating twigs and putting flowers in his hair.
“But because I feel a little bad about taking your abilities, I guess you can know without having to lose your mind.” Vure lifted off the ground, above the adoring Cappies.
“I am a god, sent from the heavens to instill my law on this land. All who oppose me shall feel my wrath, but those who learn to follow me shall be granted many advantages in life.”
The Cappies all fell to their knees and started to pray.
“These are my people, and I shall protect them. Spread it wide and far. The Cappies are protected by the god Vure.”
Sharell started to laugh, becoming more hysteric the longer she laughed. Standing in the back of the cart.
“I shall ask you once, Vure. Return our abilities or suffer.”
“You think you can threaten me? You are a lowly witch; do you think you can command a god?” Vure yelled.
“I do; I call forth the mightiest of gods; all I need to do is crack this.” Sharell tugged the necklace off her neck, revealing a small purple diamond.
“Am I supposed to know what that is?”
“This is a favor; I earnt it by worshipping my god. He said I could summon him to fulfill any one task I ask for. You return our abilities, or my god will come here and carve you from the history books.”
“If you kill me, you can’t get your abilities back, but I guess you could bring your deity forth and get him to give your abilities back.” Vure stated, stepping closer to Sharell.
Sharell met Vure, standing before them. “I would take life as a mundane if it means I get to see you buried. Then we shall all come back and slaughter these little potion farms.”
“You speak down to my people, and it will be the last thing you do; besides, I am not afraid of a god that feeds on the blood of the weak.”
“He does not feed on it; he merely wants us to show dedication in order to receive his blessings.”
“Sure, then who is this god if not just a random blood leech?”
“Oh, just the god of chaos and night.”
Vure stood their ground, staying resolute in the face of concerning information.
“Well… this makes things interesting.”