Scales Of War

Early Days: Into The Swamp

She is running again. It’s rare that she would be pushed so hard without knowing why, but in some circumstances this was a necessity. She would find herself having run for days on end before the wind caught her and the truth unfurled in her mind like a fern under morning sun. She knew when to stop – or, rather, she would know when the moment came. She would slow and the world would grasp at her again, feeding and sharing what was needed. She would come to the edge of the wood with the scent of iron or the feel of a jagged blade fully formed in her mind and she would know: danger.
A clearing ahead, and she feels a tug urging her through. She leaps, or she already has, and the clearing is now behind her. The pack of crawlers is a threat, and a confusing one so far from their natural dank, dark holes, but there is another tasked with their removal, the recognition of a second hunter close by pricking at the edge of her mind.

She looks back, following the static of awareness. She can see now looking down from a tangle of branches, and she recognizes her limbs in among them, thinner and frailer but, she knows, swifter and deadly silent. She follows the gaze through to see what she—and then the urge, focus, onward. She knows to listen, knows the rightness of this planted instinct, but she also feels the strain of it, the struggle to comprehend. Her mind is a new thing, different enough that she can touch the minds of the other in the world while still heeding the call to act as guardian, shepherd, hunter. They are still few in number, and, fresh as they are, they must push up and out, as younglings do. She knows the needs and the desire to protect the fey is as deeply held as any other, but with each battle, with each bond, she feels these creepers of thought tangling in among the roots of her. Words and feelings and the connection to others comes more and more naturally, but with each passing day these vines grow thicker, or…

Here. She has passed into deeper forest now, bordering swamplands. She feels the wetness, the snug clinging of moss on the trees around her. She braces herself for the lethargy, the rotten sloth she has faced before. She must keep a clear mind for whatever is to come – more than keeping her sword at hand, this will carry her through. A stinging scent of decay catches her, and an emaciated claw slices out from a shadow. She ducks to her left, but a surge of thought takes her someplace else entirely. What was once a goblin is now nothing but an emaciated husk, but the creature’s mad glee at its own cleverness quickly recoils to confusion as it finds nothing but a stray leaf now floating back down to earth. Confusion turns to shock as a blade pierces the leathery flesh along its back. The creature was helpless the moment she stepped, but she feels no pity. Not for this tainted corpse.

She doesn’t need to turn to know that there are four more of the creatures shambling, crawling through the undergrowth. They are hesitant, but their numbers give them some confidence and, beside, they now know she can teleport – or what looked like teleporting. They’re ready for her tricks now.

She feels a burning, electric wind whip up in her mind and sees the swamp around her bend, and she smiles.

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Lannarai

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