Completed From the Tangled Vines That Grow

Once again, the drow had leapt first from the forest floor, kicking off from a shorter branch extended.
Climbing higher, flying like a spider, unique agility, aiming to keep his opponent below his elevation.
The Hunter towered over the drow. Yet now it is the other way around on a branch above the ground.
Those shurikens had failed him. No matter. Whatever happened next, the drow was ready to fly down.

Yet, Zyn’s opponent was protected by earthen barbed wire in any other definition. Find the opening.
Apparently his foe preferred to stay below; too big and bulky to climb trees, maybe. Bide the moment.
Thus flew the arrow, or as close to one as a spine could be defined. Granted, Zyn had learned his lesson.
His enemy had already proven the ability and variety of his projectiles, how they split upon approaching.

So Zyn had since decided not to risk slicing those sticks in half as he had done the first time.
Earlier, ducking would have also earned him with a stirge as served. So neither was an option.
Instead, as the black missile came toward him, Zyn once again did what he did best—he leapt.
His opponent just below, the shot was even easier to spot, so he found a tree and hopped on it.

Behind him, the branch beneath his feet which he had been on suddenly exploded in darkness.
A black mass, like a cloud of ashen smoke, erupted, and Zyn turned to face that branch distant.
Creeping things, crawling things, swarming forth like a storm. They might have eaten him alive.
Having landed on another branch, he looked back, then down, spotting something on his thigh.

Hello, little guy. It was a spider. Giant in comparison to its brethren back on that branch.
It hastened up his leg, as if chasing prey, dancing up the fabric to reach flesh and attack.
Only it didn’t. Zyn quickly whispered something, scooping the arachnid into palm and fist.
He blew. It flew. It grew twice its size to land on the Hunter’s bow-arm to constrict his limb.

Elinyra Derwinthir
In a surprising twist of fate, the blight-spawned arachnid landed squarely on the Hunter's arm. He snarled and growled and cast the insect into the bramble patch. It rolled back onto its eight legs, its enlarged fangs opening and closing, and might have taken a chunk of flesh from its master. Only it didn't. Bound as it was to his blood, it would not attack. It only disappeared into the choking growth around it.

The remaining swarm of spiders began crawling all over the branch Zyndyrr had been previously perched upon, rendering it a hazardous place to return to. The Hunter expected he would not stay in this new tree for very long, given his propensity for leaping around. A tactic he felt that only delayed the inevitable - a short delay indeed if this foe thought to continue forward.

He had hunted many creatures; some that fought, some that ran or flew, but this one was as slippery as a fish wriggling and leaping its way up a stream, and seemingly as tireless as he. Even the animal instinct within knew that it would do him little good to swim around in the river after it - better to wait where the water grew shallow and rough. Where it would blindly jump right into his waiting hands.

As it was, his enemy was not in a position to do much from another tree. Even with his apparent ability to jump farther than average, he would have to make a few good leaps to reach him now, giving him an opportunity to retreat back into the blighted trees.

Perhaps his foe would think himself victorious in driving the Hunter off. Perhaps he would give chase. Either way, the Hunter would wait for the moment his foe moved before setting his new plan into motion.

Zyndyrr K'yoshin
With trees close enough for monkeys to swing between, the elf had moved little differently.
Amid a bit of hopping across branches and dashing, others had run marathons a lot longer.
So, no, neither opponent was under any threat of running out of breath or losing heartbeat.
Not yet, at least. Time and energy were on their side. Yet Zyn unfortunately lost his spider.

It was a trick and a tactic he had planned on capitalizing on, hoping to constrict that limb.
If he did, then the drow just might have sprung from his branch to land onto his opponent.
Even if only for a moment. Instead his foe was too quick, instantly shaking off the arachnid.
So Zyn kept his distance, maintained his observation where he was safe. He wasn’t an idiot.

Land in that bramble, the bush, the thorns, and in the thicket he’d be slashed by sticks of course.
Maybe he should have just burned them outright, though he needed to first negate his foe’s bow.
However, after the spider had landed on the Hunter, no other shot had gone off, no more arrows.
Rather, Zyn’s opponent had retreated. Maybe. He had earlier vanished into a tree as if to teleport.

Therefore, the drow kept both swords up, scanning his environment.
He patiently waited, expecting a surprise attack at him any moment.
Nothing came. Okay. Still, his enemy was one to keep some distance.
The archer had to. Zyn had tried to close in. Instead he had adapted.

Something moved in the corner of Zyn's vision.
A white figure. He did not fall for the same trick.
He knew that form for he had glimpsed it before.
As things calmed down, a white horse came out.

It crept beneath the drow’s tree with a whinny.
“Really?” Fur and forest amid its bone and hide.
Still not speaking? Zyndyrr asked within his mind.
Debating whether to leap on the horse. Let us see.

Zyn fell from his branch just as the stallion backed.
Instead of landing on its back Zyn landed on his ass.
Beside him, a whinny shifted as if turning to a laugh.
“Very funny.” Zyn got up. “At least find me a new path.”

Elinyra Derwinthir
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The forest hushed around them, as if no warped blood-of-man had attacked from the tangle of dying bough and branch ahead. As if this was the pasture at the end of a long road. But Enbarr saw the deadly deceit for what it was. The creature of bone and wood and blood and leaf would return. Enbarr knew where it had come from - to where they must go. Could Mannan still be saved? He did not know, and his worry grew the more time passed them by.

“At least find me a new path.”

Enbarr wasn't sure what to make of this blood-of-elven yet. He had proven himself a warrior, and yet He of the Flowing Mane didn't trust this ally much more than the cursed ones. The elf had been agreeable enough, but he reeked of blood and death. Different than the blood-of-faerie certainly, but was it by enough? Was it blood spilled nobly, or spilled in that carnivorous lust possessed by most of the arrogant, two-legged mortal breed?

At least he took Enbarr's little joke with more grace than Mannan usually did. Enbarr allowed himself a huff of satisfaction before leading the way.

Onward, then, by hoof and by foot. Through branch and bramble, through death and decay, to where the dead forest became Other. To where the ones who listened to the forest had gone before. He could still see their tracks in the leaf litter before them. Since the wood had fallen into decay, it had grown malevolent, watchful, and Enbarr could feel it as heavy as a foggy morning all around them.

And the deepening heaviness in his own chest that tugged him towards the earth like a stone around his neck.

I feel it, the voice in Zyn's head echoed as if speaking in the distance. A thought spoken aloud more to itself than to him. This is the Blight from so long ago, but it is... different. Different, and yet so familiar. The taste of my kin lingers... but.... the voice trailed off to grow silent again.

Silent as the suffering forest. It was as the passage of time was passing in flashes around them; Gradually the tumor-encrusted and diseased plant life gave way to ash-grey curls of leaf clinging to the dying, and these in turn to mould and other fungi. Buds and new sprigs of life emerged along the path; not trees nor flowers, but growth altogether weirder. Was it a mushroom, a strange, coral-like colony or just the bones of animals jutting up through the soil?

What was left of living animals were tormented and aggressive things. Near a dried-up streambed, a flock of enraged ravens descended upon them, beaks twisted and eyes bulging, talons gnarled and sharp. Not more than an annoyance, to one with blades and hands, but rather more of an insult to the horse.

Zyndyrr K'yoshin
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Onward, then, by hoof and by foot. This was not the same forest as before. For, the very forest was, in retrospect, formless. From golden bough, just budding, and quiet breeze as if autumn tickling, to the sound of silence, deathly, amid old and twisted trees, if honest in their delivery.

In a thick mist. morning’s fog that betrayed hints of evening, Zyndyrr K’yoshin moved steadily beside a beast, venturing onward with a horse for his guide, if not quite a companion. Yet, in these moments, bereft of anything else to look at, left with images of his own homeland, a dark and dismal abyss with slaves aplenty, Zyn looked at this stallion in peace.

He much more appreciated its appearance. While some in this world were unfortunately torn toward bestial engagements, Zyn conversely and quite simply just liked the way that the horse’s mane resembled a woman’s. Long, windswept, curling into the breeze; a beast’s majestic beauty.

Humans, elves, spriggans or whatever else, they were also animals as far as could be argued. Zyn did not want to. The drow cocked a brow at forest crown, not for its jagged edges, but for the heaviness in his chest, the blight in his mind. His thoughts were not his own. It was her. She had returned.

But you need to send another hunter after me? Zyndyrr teased, half-expecting her to be the reason, yet then not entirely. Or your family got bored of your insistent blabbering? Silence. Perhaps he was too rude. Oof.

As the pair of man and beast ventured deeper into woods, traversing a section of the forest that Zyn might just fancy to be the Balewoods beside the Eldyr Tree, he did not remotely know where they were going, truthfully.

“Wager I can eat that?” He gestured toward a mushroom that looked as attractive as a hagraven. The horse offered a whinny in response so no telling. “Agreed.”

Where once a forest had provided bubbling brooks and singing streams, the pair was suddenly met with a dead bed, and more as birds emerged. Here we go. A murder of crows.

Now the steed really did whinny. It screeched. It, he, kicked his forelegs as a swarm of winged beasts converged upon him. So the drow did what he did best: He drew his swords and he stormed forth, slashing and hacking.

Feathers burst above the earth amid Zyn’s spin, twirling and whirling, his blades breaking talon or beak, sending enemies to squawk whether they decide to jog on or not. What had descended on Zyn? Not just self-preservation. These ravens were attacking his...companion. They would pay for it.

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“Wager I can eat that?”

Enbarr knew that the two-legged animals could and would eat just about anything. He tried to explain that he wouldn't touch the greenest patch of clover in the world if it grew in these woods, but of course his companion couldn't understand him. The elf seemed to have come to the same conclusion on his own, much to Enbarr's relief.

It wasn't long after that the forest decided to harass them in the form of wrathful birds. Enbarr's attempts to kick and bite the feathered furies did little to deter them, but luckily for him the elf's blades were quite effective. Even as Zyn's swords hacked down the diseased birds, they returned for more, until there was nothing left of the flock but bits of meat and black-blooded feathers strewn all over the dry soil.

Enbarr lowered his head for a moment as a gesture of respect for their fallen foes. Never before had he witnessed such a rabid desire for death among the winged kind. Warped by this disease, they were no longer themselves. Just like the man-thing that had attacked them earlier; no longer a man, but a part of this corrupted forest.

They continued down the trail without further contest, though it was hardly peaceful. Enbarr wondered if the elf could feel it too - the feeling of something watching and waiting. Of everything watching and waiting. A surreal haze lingered in the air, making the horse cough from time to time. Even the air was stale and strange.

They were still walking when the sun sank beyond the jagged teeth of the Spine, and night fell upon them in steel sheets. Enbarr paused in the final throes of evening's light, wondering with a low neigh if his ally would make camp to rest or wish to go on. They weren't far from the way to the Other, by his recollection, but he couldn't see anything in the pressing blackness that loomed ahead.

He had a dreadful feeling that it wasn't just the moonless night that lurked nearby.

Zyndyrr K'yoshin
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Beneath his feet: Black wings, flayed flesh, feathers spread, broken beaks, dead things amid an undead unease. Catching his breath, Zyndyrr K’yoshin took a moment to take all of it in, reciting poetry in his mind, albeit words were wind amidst a mist more like an ocean.

“Hello, Darkness, my old friend…” Zyn whispered into the bite of silence after the fight.
“To you I have eternally pledged…” Stepped on heads, checked to see if horse is fine.
“From black pits under, in webs woven by spiders…” The horse nuzzled against Zyn.
“In ebony depths, this drow did give his vow…” He patted its neck; no frown or grin.
“To serve you, in lies or truth, my lady, lest the night take me, and I die as I’ve lived.”

The night took the both of them, the man and the stallion. Into darkness deep, those shadows of the wild wood. A grave of ravens at their backs, unburied, left to twist into skeletons and become the denizens of rotted earth on the dirt they fell.

Hell, it seemed, could be deep or it could emerge upon the surface. In this forest, blighted was the tree; cold and grey and cruel; a tall and twisted thing with roots too deep even for duergar to reach.

Mindless, Zyn. He both grinned and grimaced at his own thoughts as he walked along with his stallion and companion. Careful, slayer, lest your mind be taken without the need of a mindflayer. Maybe it was because of ‘her’, that other voice that seeks to blind him.

Was it her presence he sensed? Some danger did lurk, on or beyond the earth, as the drow gave his gaze to his surroundings, sweeping trees in his search for enemies. That archer, maybe. As evening’s light died, like the moon and the stars had all but abandoned their march, Zyn would not risk it.

If he was being followed, so be it, but he would not be the idiot who followed his own step into death by falling down a hole that swallows a drow’s soul. “We will rest.” He said it, beckoned the stallion, as if it might understand him. Did it? Can you, my friend?

In a small clearing, trees wrapped around it to block out the wind, Zyn gathered tinder, kindling and wood to fuel a fire. “What are you doing?” He asked the beast as he squatted, striking flint to light the beginnings.

The horse whinnied in response. “You’re on first watch. Guard the perimeter, you useless creature.” Zyn teased. The drow doubted he would sleep tonight with or without firelight.

Elinyra Derwinthir
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What Enbarr was doing was listening. He listened for the whistle of an arrow from the dark. He listened for the crack of a twig beneath a creature's foot. Most of all, he listened for the sound of Mannan's voice singing low and sweet through the trees. But not a drop of sound filtered through the decaying foliage; not the usual squeaking of a bat in flight. Not even a whisper of wind lived in these dales.

He swore he felt Mannan's presence close by - or at least his energy. It was a companion's instinct, though Enbarr only glimpsed it vaguely, as if they were separated by miles of water. For a brief moment, he smelled petrichor.

The ethereal sense vanished as soon as it had come. The fire flickered to life, and he turned his attention back to their physical surroundings. The firelight helped his vision, but also created dancing spectres that seemed to reach at them from beyond the edge of the copse.

“You’re on first watch. Guard the perimeter, you useless creature.” Zyn teased.

Enbarr snorted his disdain for the small elf and, when a moment presented itself, would take special care to step on his ally's foot with one of his back hooves. Maybe even leisurely slap the elf's face with his tail, when he wasn't paying attention. All in good time.

All in good time.

The Hunter, too, bided his time as he observed the unlikely pair set up camp. From this distance, their combined life forces were merely the tiny flame of a candle in the dimmer mosaic of transformed forest. He normally had very little to fear so close to the source of his power, but the flare of a fire's heat brought a rare shiver of trepidation. He grimaced as it curdled in the pit of his stomach.

From his comfortable and well-hidden position high in a tree, an inner battle waged between his desire to finish his hunt and an instinctual aversion to the flame. He would have to wait for the fire to go out - as all fires must.

Something large rustled deeper in the woods, just past the Veil. The Hunter didn't know what it was, but his connection to the blight revealed one thing: it liked the fire even less than he did.

He grinned as he leaned back into the blighted tree. It seemed that he didn't need to get too close to that accursed fire - only wait for his opportunity.

Zyndyrr K'yoshin
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Evening had been creeping in, cool if not freezing, and the fire provided warmth, not that it was particularly needed. Yet certain beasts and insects would keep their distance upon witnessing the dancing flames in the naked darkness.

It might have otherwise been a blighted night, with twisted branches of a warped forest, sprawling limbs guarded in blackened moss, blotting out sunlight. However, beside firelight, in whose embers leapt like dancers, at least one remnant of existence found solace.

His back was to fallen heavens, his chest to the crackle of flame, burning endless, over and over, like a phoenix’s breath, wings spread in breadth. Lost in thought, timeless eyes, Zyndyrr K’yoshin saw and remembered.

“It’s cold…” He told no one in particular, not even that stallion, as he sat with legs bent, arms over knees, staring past the glow of fire that swallowed the trees. “...But these beasts do not matter…” He echoed.

What about them, Father? Those with four legs. Can I keep them?
“If you want pets, you must care for them. Burn the rest.” What happened, happened, and from there to here, Zyndyrr of House K’yoshin sat with no fear, whatever might happen.

Did he need the light of the flame to guide his way? The elves of the deep had developed eyesight beyond their cousins’ means. However, tonight was different. The drow fed the fire, distracted by both light and shadow, when he looked up to realize that his companion of a stallion was nowhere in sight.

Zyn looked left, looked right. Where did you go..? He got up in the night, searched for hoof and print, and picked a direction to walk in. “I’m no mood for hide and seek, I’ll have you know.”

Elinyra Derwinthir
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From just a few scant yards within the line of the trees, Enbarr heard a creature's approach. Zyndyrr must have heard it as well - it was not difficult considering the loud crashing of splintering limbs. The stallion's ears laid back anxiously. He thought he smelled water again, but this was not the delicate scent of raindrops touching thirsty ground. Rather, what assailed him was the miserable, never-ending damp of a rotting bog.

The creature that shattered its way through the trees into the clearing might have indeed been formed of a bog's essence. Its flat, canine-shaped head alone was large enough to fill the space of a carriage, its body three times as long and covered in strange clumps of bulky fur and strands of long hair.

It howled shrilly, displaying a wide maw of sword-like teeth as it charged for the fire. It wasn't particularly quick, but its sheer mass invited disaster for anything that dared stand in its way. Coming upon the source of the blaze, the creature paused to circle the firepit, its tail swinging almost close enough to touch the flames. The blunted end of the long, scaly appendage seemed to puff out a cloud of dust as the beast circled, and the flames shrunk back into the wood with a defiant hiss.

The creature wheeled about to face the woods as the fire fizzled, its serpentine snout raised to the air in the direction that Zyndyrr and Enbarr had gone. A deep snarl came from its throat: a challenge.

Zyndyrr K'yoshin
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The drow could see, he could smell, he could hear, and whether as well as his stallion for a companion, well, he did detect the scent of swampland or something so rotten. He ventured further, discovered the creature, motioned so as to beckon it closer.

“There, there,”
Zyndyrr attempted to console this old soul; however ancient this horse was, amid nature’s overgrowth that had since taken it. “There’s nothing to fear here.” Truth be told, he would not lose any sleep if this beast perished that very instant, but the man had long since developed a soft spot for animals back in the deep.

‘Slaves should be as naked as beasts in these pits.’ Father reckoned. ‘Treat them no differently.’ Except the son of K’yoshin had elected to keep the animals separate from the animals, fed and rested, and did so on his own accord, lest his father give them the sword.

“I am with you. You are with me. We are one.” He whispered, shushed. Just then, there was a bestial sound in the distance, quite unlike a horse or drow anyhow.

Zyn whipped around, facing the foliage, dark and damp and distant, offering nothing on any horizon. In the darkness, torchlight would suffice, but he had two good eyes. Not taking any chances, he shifted toward the horse, rested a hand against its mane. “This way.”

As beckoned, the pair moved away from the bog and into the trees. Zyn unsheathed his blades, two scimitars singing in the dark, and waited for whatever came his way.

Ears of a fox. Eyes of a hawk. One animal had said, a high elf prisoner in a dungeon, before she was bled to death. Come, beast. Come see.

Elinyra Derwinthir
So he waited there, the elf of black skin and heart
To see what came from the growling thing in the dark
"Come hither, with me", he told good, steadfast Enbarr
but the horse would not budge - as if stuck in some tar!

Zyn thought he smelled the stench of a rotten, dead bog,
But what he whiffed was not near him, hiding 'neath fog
T'was the odorous swampbeast with teeth gnashing air
that brought such a thing, from the blight-land of its lair.

Its tail lashed about, sending out great puffs of spores,
the bane of campfires that night watchmen so adore.
The elf thought of slaves, the Veddyrwign of prey
Under the pale star and moons, only one had his way.

And beyond haunted trees, the Hunter sat in wait
for his chance to stop Zyn before they found the Gate.

Die Shize
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The steed, the beast, stuck on sunken dirt; on black ground.
It whinnied, it begged, on blackened earth; a pitiful sound.
While its companion listened; Zyndyrr K’yoshin, that drow.
An elf of deep breed beyond ebony well, of a sable crown.

He sniffed, drifting a mist into his senses of what is amiss.
A stench, like putrid liquid, and it must yet be a black pond.
Was it not? Drifting, moving; a foul breeze, born of swamp.
I am wrong. The drow listened. His ears pricked to the wind.

A horse of earthen birth, bitten by barnacle, struggles to fly.
Unwilling, unyielding; unbowed, unbent, unbroken, is an elf.
“Very well,” he whispers into darkness, as if to cast his spell.
In a blackened realm, he climbs high, he sits, ready to ride.

“I’ve got you,” Zyndyrr whispers to the stallion beneath him.
Of ancient tongue summoned, it neighs, like a yester relic.
For the drow will not allow either creature to become prey.
He rips it of tar, carves path of fate, and rides toward gate.

For the elf was no elf of the surface but an elf of the deep.
In darkness' heritage, in sunken malice, was born mystery.
Of spider's legs, on bat's wings, from home not of summer.
Father's son, of the House K'yoshin, comes a lord of winter.

Blessed of the Forest
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With the elf riding, Enbarr fled the beast's hunger,
Into the Blight, where life had been torn asunder.
The Veddyrwign came for them in death-knell strides.
No sanctuary there waiting - no place to hide!

Where is your home, Enbarr of the flowing white mane?
Galloping to your doom with your strength on the wane?

From the branches ahead, the Hunter strung foul bow
Plotting to murder the elf and horse down below.
But the stallion, fleet-hoofed, evaded the arrow
Rider and steed then felt the fire in their marrow

The fight was upon them both for their survival,
Between blightspawn and Hunter; that mad, cursed rival
Zyn and Hunter swore again to claim victory,
to be author who penned an end to this story.

Ready your slashing blades, Zyndyrr of the deepdark!
Enemies surround you! Find the strength in your heart!

Came the voice in the back of Zyndyrr's vicious mind
Insistent and sad, like an old crone out of time.

Zyndyrr K'yoshin
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'You have your animals, Zyn, and I have mine.'
'They are not pets to me, Father...but friends...'
'We keep no sentiments, son. Yours is a weakness.'
'Flay your humans, but do not take my dog's hide.'

Where is the horse and the rider?
Lost in the fog of forsaken forest.
Galloping, if unbidden like thunder.
Flying like lightning on earth asunder.

Some feel the wind; tidal, defiant like sunlight in the eventide.
Rushing in an eddy against the skin, howling amid the dance.
The hooves that crack stick, kick mud, trample leaf and grass.
As hands clutch the reins, some feel the sea; a rush of blood.

Adrenaline pumping in the veins beneath a silent starlit canopy.
All the world is oblivious of a silvery mane, flowing, windswept.
Grunting, but the horse was no orc as it tore from arrow’s wing.
Neither the rider, for he was drow, by whom his enemies wept.

Ready your slashing blades, Zyndyrr of the deepdark!

A resonant noise, that voice, like a violin or like a harp.
If played by a giant or demigod; a quake in time’s scar.
Enemies surround you! Find the strength in your heart!

Zyndyrr K’yoshin would be remiss to ignore her words.
-SHWING!- His hands leave the mane in place of reins.
A hilt in either hand, black as ebony’s pit, cruel of blade.
Wicked sharp, curved, embedded in the dead so cursed.

The drow’s scimitars had carved apart foes before tonight.
“Here!” Zyn cried into the trees, not green, but bit by Blight.
In darkness, a deep elf sees, his ears twitch, yet not in fear.
He feels only the burn of vigor, vengeance. “My gift of steel!”

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Caught like birds in a storm were they, 'tween fletching and claw
at the edge of veil parting, where fae magic was law.
A madness, a curse, a dirge sung on decaying wind
caught a hidden spirit's ear; took her thoughts back to him.

Could it be? I pray it not so! Our time's come and gone.
Yet I hear your voice calling me like a long lost song...

"'Tis I that shall be doing the flaying," thought the beast.
as it set upon them, fully expecting a feast.
Meeting blades a-whirling, it backtracked with a fierce snarl,
but it was not to be deterred so from this quarrel.

What of you, trespasser, who boldly enters my land?
Will you die by my creation or change by my hand?

The Hunter up a tree grew impatient in his ire
and aimed a shot at Enbarr's back legs - ready to fire.
No arrow was it, but akin to a fisher's net
"Let us see, while hamstrung, how far from me they can get!"

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In the midst of darkness, in that kiss of shadow, he rode.
Of dark green cloak, and yet more naked than clothed.
For his robe was no shroud, as the rider does gallop.
Loud, surrounded by thicket, no copse, maddened.

Fury, that was a warrior’s gift, clutched within his fist.
A song of ice? A song of fire? I shall sing in the wind.
And the horse takes him, as one. Enbarr and K’yoshin.
Oh, I've heard the prayers in the tongues of hundreds.

was the singer. He was the musician. He was Zyndyrr.
Of the House of K’yoshin. And he did not easily back down.
At that clang of iron and wood, thwarted in a whir and a blur.
As blades bit bastion, of earthen determination—ebony crown.

A flick of the drow’s wrist, slash with another, proven to miss.
Land. Realm. Forest. Cavern. Only the victor may claim either.
It was a promise. Honest. If a warrior’s gift to another warrior.
To hearken to the challenge, for it was bidden—to finish this.

“For the skinless make no decisions!” Father had taught him.
In the spoil of the squall, who dares to brave the great wind?
“The fate of the blade is upon them!” So, too, the fisher’s net.
Then screaming neigh, whence in pain, of Enbarr’s back legs.

And the stallion tumbled, and its legs, fore and back, crumpled.
And elven rider, of darkness sunken, flew forth, earth crumbled.
He rolled, forward, swords in hands, and he rose, battle stance.
He stands. “Come, then!” He beckons. “Come kill me if you can!”

Blessed of the Forest