The twelve men in gilded armour had come to our farmstead the night before. They were old, probably only a few years away from their own exaltation, their magic strong but not yet uncontrollable and their minds still unclouded. Four years ago gran had escaped on the night before her 60th birthday, run into the forest and hadn't been seen since. The temple had sent some of the local guardians in there before to apprehend her, to kill her before her power turned the whole forest into a nightmare of monsters and strangeness, but nobody had ever come back. We are far from the cities of the empire, but the tales of talking wolves, walking plants and other strange things that come out of our forest had spread, and the priest finally sent out a call for high-ranking guardians of exaltation to find and destroy whatever gran had become.
The guardians had recruited me to lead them into the forest. Papa had shouted, Mama had cried, but you do not say no to guardians as old as these were, and in a