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The Woodland Spirit

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Elven Legends

Charles Cruz Dueno


It was a long way to the western foothills, where the dwarves resided, and so he and the younger elf had set a camp for the night in the woodland. Elric had pondered the words of his old teacher, and the tales of remembrance he passed to him. They were tales of an age where elves once fought alongside dwarves and humans against the orcs who were brutal and terrible.


This was before the humans had lost their vision, for they once shared the same gifts as all the woodland folk. They once spoke with the trees and river spirits, and shared love between their kin which gave them the empathy to sense each others thoughts and emotions. They understood the balance of the cosmos, and the true nature of magic.


There was once a time when the humans could hear the voices of the trees, the wind, the sun and the moon, but now with each generation, they had come to only hear one voice inside their head, their own. It had made them bitter and mistrustful, even of their own kind and because of this; more and more tyrants like the Angry Swordsman were becoming common among them.


They had lost their greatness. There was once a time where men could travel to other planes of existence in an instance, caring nothing of their physical distances which could only be measured in eons of time and space. The magic of this world was slowly being replaced by the machinations and greedy desires of men. There would come a time when the woodland folk would no longer have a place in their world.


Elves, dwarves and orcs would become a thing of legend, or the object of a human fancy. They would only exist as tales and stories told to their children, and when asked do they really exist? The humans would then tell their children, such things never existed and are stories, nothing more.


The Woodland Spirit stood for something far more than just a blade. It embodied the very essence of the woodland, and as long as this blade existed, so too did the woodland realm…..


Elric awoken to the sound of barking in the distance; he quickly motioned to the younger elf to make ready for he knew these sounds did not come from any ordinary animal. They were gnolls; horrible dog faced men and slaves of men. The gnolls were once civilized race, often in dispute with the woodland folk but civilized none the less.


In an older time, they had fought a vicious battle with the humans which sent their king in hiding. The legends say he fled to a mythical land of black sands. The humans there had never seen a gnoll and thus regarded him as a god of some sorts. There he ruled over the land of black sands, totally abandoning his own people for the luxuries given to him by these men.


His people however, suffered at the hands of the humans; they appeared as animals to the humans therefore they were treated as such. At their present state, they were perfectly content to sit on the floor by the human dinner tables and beg for scraps of food. This made them ravenous, and their aggression mindless, but they would rarely turn on their human masters for in their mind they only existed to serve the humans.


A cold shiver came down Elric’s spine as he realized, the gnolls were hunting for something; they were making their way down the trail of the Whispering Winds coven….

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March of Sins

Charles Cruz Dueno


A mighty battle was about to take place at the foot of the human kingdoms. With the sound of an ox’s horn, the orcs had assembled from throughout the woodland realms, the marshes and the mountains in the west. The Angry Swordsman stood upon the battlements glaring at the orc standard; unlike the orcs of the monastery, these orcs choose to follow the teachings as they saw fit.


They were the Myojo clan, powerful warriors with a reputation in battle that were the subject of awe in the human kingdoms. They wore banded suits of armor with demon faced helms, which added to their already fierce visage. These warriors had studied the tools of their enemies, and unlike most orcs, they preferably wielded the curved single edged blade to confront the humans.


The Angry Swordsman could see hundreds of them, forming from all directions and preparing an advance against the walls of his kingdom. The horizon was glowing red as if in compliance with the rage of the orcs who were about to pour forth in a frenzy of steel and blood. He respected the Myojo, but he didn’t fear them. Their charge was that of desperation, and it signaled to him the success of his ambition.


The sky rained with arrows of fire as the catapults launched massive sacks of oil filled substance to break the Myojo ranks. The ground before him was set ablaze, filled with the screeching screams of fallen orcs. They had begun scaling the walls of the kingdom only to be met by the blades of the human warriors. An explosion rocked the gates of the kingdom, shattering its large door, and the Myojo poured forth into the city.


The Angry Swordsman inspired the humans to fight on for his blade had already fell a dozen orcs; the Ebony Crescent had cleaved most of them in a single stroke, their weapons, armor and all. The human Longbows descended on the Myojo as they entered the city. The people of the kingdom were frightened, remembering the legends of old when the orcs were blood thirsty savages.


The Myojo took great pains not to harm the women and children, it was dishonorable for them to do so; their single purpose was to break the will of the Angry Swordsman and his troops. But old fears died hard, and so, the Myojo found themselves confronting many of the townspeople. This was not the intention of their general “him with the double scars on his face” and he could see how the Angry Swordsman had manipulated this event to paint they orcs as they once were.


Frustrated, the general ordered his men to withdraw and salvage at least the question of their motives in the mind of the people. Why did they not kill and ravage as orcs were said to? Why didn’t they kill the women and children as orcs supposedly were said to? These doubts played more to the general’s intent than anything his blade could muster, and so he played his field wisely.


The Angry Swordsman also realized the general’s actions and declared the Myojo feared the retribution of the Ebony Crescent should any of his people be harmed. But the stir of dissent had been planted….

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Jacob watched as the fight spilled out of the tavern door and into the street in front. Until now the dwarf had barely made a move against the two humans who had chosen to express their dislike of the Dwarven race to the Dwarf in question. Jacob stood up, grabbed his ale and followed the action out into the street, he didn’t want to miss a good fight.


When he got out onto the street he saw that the dwarf had taken a low stance, making his profile that much shorter then his natural four foot six inch frame. The larger human held a wicked looking dagger in one hand, blade pointed down and he stood with one hand in front of him in a neutral position. His tallow haired companion held a rough looking woodsman’s’ axe in his left hand. For the dwarf a light hammer. It looked to have been taken good care of, the head was made of a metal that resembled silver but Jacob imagined must have been much harder. The haft was longer then usual and was made of the same metal as the head, and appeared to be all one piece. It was wrapped in two places, one low on the handle, and one high, with deep red leather. The dwarf held it in one hand, head towards the larger of the two humans but he eyed the smaller one with the axe.


“A’right dwarf.” Said the human holding the knife, “Let’s do this.” With that he leapt forward. The dwarfs’ hand flicked out towards him and the hammer slid easily through it until the head smashed into the shin of the human and brought him crashing face first to the ground. Holding the hammer by the end of the handle the dwarf swung it towards the other human who had stepped forward anticipating his friends tackle and ready to use the opportunity to strike his own blow. The Dwarf swung the opposite foot of the hand he held the hammer in, out and around and he got impossibly low to the ground, bring the hammer around in a sweeping arc to smash into the mans side who lay on the ground. He let out a sharp puff of air at the impact and slumped over unconscious.


The other man hesitated for an instant and then drove forward swinging his axe in a wide arc over his head. He stepped forward in a wide stance, bring the axe down and keeping his most vital parts out of reach of the dwarves hammer. The dwarf fell forward and rolled under the axe swing. Using his momentum he pumped his legs and shot into the air, much higher then Jacob would have thought his short legs could have propelled him, and swung his hammer around trying to smash his targets head in. The man ducked the blow, deflecting the impact with the axe slightly as he stepped back. The Dwarf landed on the ground and assumed another low deep stance, facing the human and hefting his hammer in both hands. They faced off, the human slowly side stepping to the dwarves right.


The Dwarf eyed the human wearily. When he took his next step the dwarf went into action. He threw the hammer forward until his hand was at the end of the handle then he squeezed tightly and let the momentum pull him. Using the weight of the hammer to gain instant momentum he pushed himself up and over, pushing himself up higher as he rested the head of the hammer on the ground. He came down far closer to his target then the target assumed he could have reached, and delivered a spinning kick that allowed both feet to strike the human, one after the other. The Dwarf landed in front of the stunned human and instantly fell to the ground. The human, recovering from the double kick, swung his axe over his head again intending to bring it down on the dwarf’s prone form. The dwarf pulled his hammer close then shot the butt of the handle up to strike the humans swinging arm in the elbow. Jacob heard a sick snap and a gasp from the human as his elbow broke. The Dwarf kicked one leg over the other horizontally, setting himself in a spin. He swung the hammer around at its full length as he spun around on his back and struck the human in the side of his right knee. Another crunch and the human fell screaming and trying to hold his knee and his broken arm simultaneously.


The dwarf finished the spin and sat up, pushing off the ground with one leg he struck a dramatic pose over the human waiting to see if there was any fight left in him. When Jacob realized the fight was over he clapped and smiled as the dwarf turned to him, scowling.


“May I buy you a drink master dwarf? It seems you have an uncommon fighting ability!” The dwarf eyed both the humans lying on the street dourly then slid his hammer back into its sheath on his back, nodded at Jacob and they went inside.

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The Whispering Winds Coven

Charles Cruz Dueno


The old teacher took hold of his staff and exited the temple. The gnolls had ravaged the tiny enclave and set fire to the makeshift huts surrounding the temple. At their command was a human who called himself the “Packmaster”; he had been a loyal servant of the Angry Swordsman for many years, some say, he was somehow the instrument of death towards the king and his family before the Angry Swordsman took over as regent.


Though it pained his heart to see his kin slain before him, he still had hope in him remembering the Woodland Spirit was in the hands of an elf he believed could fulfill its destiny. He smiled a peaceful calm, knowing that his life had been well served; now it was time for him to defend his people, one last time….


His empathic call beckoned his people to take for the highlands, then channeling the attention of the gnolls toward him. The gnolls were easily distracted, their primitive state of mind did not allow for reason and so, one by one they came at him, fangs bared and claws at the ready.


With a simple body twist, he outmaneuvered the first gnoll sending him sailing in midair towards one of the huts. The crash sent the structure tumbling down on him, while the old elven teacher struck another gnoll with a combination of strikes, one to the solar plexus, the second to the back of the head. With a graceful spiral the old master’s staff then met another gnoll’s advance with a butt to his groin.


His image faded with the crack of the Packmaster’s whip.


It didn’t take long for the Packmaster to realize the old elf was behind him; narrowly he evaded the old teacher’s combination of strikes. The old elf was deceptively nimble; his age would have a man think that he was incapable of executing the actions with the same grace of his younger peers. But the years would take its toll on the old elf; it took much of his fading energy to continue to defend himself.


With sprits of light and chaff, the old elf again distracted the gnolls, this time providing them with illusionary combatants to occupy them while he squared off against the Packmaster. The display momentarily blinded the Packmaster giving the old elf just enough time to initiate an attack.


First a spin, a twirl of the staff, a kick and another twirl of the staff into a straight thrust; it overwhelmed the Packmaster at first, who could only evade to defend himself. A quick spin of the whip, a crack and the staff was caught like a web. With a single action, the Packmaster pulled the elf inward and planted a deep fisted blow into the old elf’s abdomen. He then followed that action with a cocky hammer fist which sent the old teacher crashing to the ground face first.


The old teacher didn’t have much time to writhe in pain; in that instant, he rolled away from a foot stomp that would’ve surely killed him. The Packmaster was a huge man, a little slow in comparison to the elf, but when he did hit, his opponents surely felt it. The old elven teacher needed a moment to recuperate, but the Packmaster wasn’t about to let up. His fist was heavy handed, so the old elf could outmaneuver the Packmaster’s strikes somewhat effortlessly.


But the Packmaster would follow his heavy punches with yet another from his other hand, shifting his body to generate power to his fist. His technique wasn’t all too extravagant, but it was brutally simple and effective. A sharp upper cut caught the old elf square on his chin sending a shock to every nerve in his body. The old elf staggered on his feet a bit, unable to defend himself from yet another weltering blow, a hook to his jaw, which sent him spinning to the ground.


Confidently, the Packmaster strolled over to the fallen elf. He never expected this much of a challenge from the elves, but he was not one to honor the moment. He clutched at the hair in the back of the old elf’s head and with a merciless crunch, drove another heavy fist into the old elf. With that action the illusionary opponents vanished and the gnolls snarled in anticipation of their next command.


Elric and the younger elf cried out in anguish, for they felt the pain suffered by their master. It was hard to bear the old elf’s last request that he continue to the dwarven settlements. The Woodland Spirit was all Elric had in this world now, and the hope that he could somehow use this blade to help his people.


The gnolls had caught the scent of the other elves and within moments the Packmaster had ordered them to find them. Elric and younger elf were faced with a tough decision, which was to go after the gnolls and protect the last of his coven or to continue towards the dwarven settlements and learn what secrets the Woodland Spirit possessed before it was too late.

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Blood in the Night

Charles Cruz Dueno


The night was filled with howls and snarls from the gnolls; they had caught their scent and relentlessly closed in on their prey. Ililah was the oldest of them, yet she was still quite young as an elf, the other two were merely children. They had fallen behind the rest of the coven and had gotten lost in the woodland. The children were frightened but she inspired them on.


She had her bow at the ready, though she knew it would not be enough to stop the gnolls; she heard the empathic voices of her kin calling out to her, but her inexperience held her from determining their whereabouts. It seemed as if the gnolls were close so she instructed the children to hide in a hollowed out trunk of a great tree; she was going to try to defend them as best possible.


Ililah took a deep breath and tried to calm her hands from trembling. She had never shot an arrow in self defense before, but she tried to remember her training. She was skilled at archery, perhaps one of the better students to come out of the Whispering Winds in over a century. She could sense the old master comforting her in spirit but her eyes grew wide in anticipation when she could make out the silhouette of the dog faced beast in the clearing.


With a quick gasp of air, she released the tense band, sending the whistling arrow true to its aim and right through the gnoll’s skull. A quick whimper and the gnoll’s lifeless body fell to the ground. She let go of her breathe, her eyes tearing from the fear. Her stomach was in knots and she could hear the other gnolls howling at the sight of their fallen brother. Then she heard them closing through the brush.


She quickly drew another arrow, hands still trembling but she couldn’t make a clear target. The gnolls were getting closer and she was almost in a panic. Out of the corner of her eye she had seen the bushes rustle a bit and quickly release the bowstring, sending another arrow true to its aim. She heard a canine whine and the bushes stop rustling. Unfortunately she wasn’t quick enough to draw another arrow in time, as another gnoll jumped out of the dense brush and charged headstrong towards her.


It was a timely arrow that stopped his charge, as Elric drew another and fired before the first arrow hit its mark. The gnoll screamed violently in pain, its body tacked to a tree behind him. Elric’s companion met the next gnoll with a lightning quick flurry of strikes with his piercers puncturing several pressure points on that gnoll’s muscular arms. A quick kick sent him scrambling away with his arms limp.


Elric quickly drew the Woodland Spirit against the next gnoll; several lightning quick cuts met the gnoll’s muscular frame, taking the last of its life before his body could even touch the ground. The mithril blade glistened in the moonlight stupefying the other gnolls for a brief moment. The blade brought them memories of another age. One they barely remembered.


It frightened them; they knew the humans would not want them to remember who they were before, but they could never forget what they had just seen. For a brief moment, they felt at peace; it pained them to be aware of their sorry state. They charged off through the woodland, whimpering and crying in fearful agony and finally the woodland then returned to calm.


Elric’s companion introduced himself. He was the young elven prince “Kaiden” from the Silverlake Coven. His father had sent him away to learn his craft at the Whispering Winds when he learned an army of humans led by the Angry Swordsmen himself, made fast approach of their settlement. He was the last of their coven, a hope by his father that he continued their name foreword.


Something disturbed Elric; he could sense a presence in near proximity. He motioned for Kaiden to take Ililah and the children to find the rest of the coven. The Woodland Spirit somehow was warning him of imminent danger; it was as if he and the blade functioned as one entity. He knew danger was near. Slowly he drew the blade and crept out of the clearing. He had to give the others some time to make their escape; the Packmaster would not hesitate to kill any of them.

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Curse of the Packmaster

Charles Cruz Dueno


Elric glared through the brush at the human before him. He was angry at the loss of his teacher and his thoughts were clouded. The old teacher would not approve of Elric’s current state of mind; he believed anger was the instrument of a person’s own demise yet he couldn’t contain his bitterness. He was determined to get revenge on the Packmaster.


The Packmaster examined the bodies of the fallen gnolls, though he cared nothing about their condition. To him, the gnolls were merely property and expendable. The night was quite and the moon was out, Elric slowly drew an arrow and lined up his target.


One shot right through the head is all it would take, but he could feel his teacher’s spirit beckoning him not to. To take the life of this man in revenge would make Elric no less the murderer the Packmaster was; could that be something he could live with.


Elric had many years before him and as an elven warrior, many ghosts to haunt him for the rest of his days. But his eyes watered up and he scowled at his compassion. With a quick breath Elric raised his bow once more to line up his target. His pulse grew heavy as he anticipated the moment…..


His concentration broke as he heard the bushes rustled around him. The gnolls were charging at the Packmaster! The first gnoll sunk his teeth into the massive left arm of the Packmaster only to get thrown against another gnoll. The Packmaster’s heavy fist sunk into another gnoll’s chest; he spit blood from his mouth and crumbled to the ground.


Again one of the gnolls sunk their teeth into the Packmaster, this time tearing into his shoulder and knocking him down to the ground. Two of the gnolls fought for his leg like rabid dogs fighting for a piece of meat, dragging the Packmaster through the dirt. He grabbed one of the gnolls with his hand and delivered a powerful punch against the gnolls head, then threw his lifeless body to the ground.


The Packmaster was confused! He could see hair growing on his forearms and the rush of adrenaline filling his rippling muscles. One of the gnolls had spoken to him, in his old forgotten language. No gnoll had ever spoken for many generations and the words were that of a shaman of their old way. Slowly the Packmaster rose to his feet with the gnolls still biting and clawing at his exposed flesh.


The gnoll had cursed him; on a night such this, when the moon is at its fullest, so shall the Packmaster become the thing he despised the most. He shall appear as them, and hunt like them. Only the pureness of silver could lay this beast to rest and for the rest of his days, this curse shall be.


The Packmaster went mad with rage and charged at the gnolls clawing and biting them as a rabid animal.


The Woodland Spirit hummed in its scabbard telling Elric to leave before it was too late. It had saved him from tarnishing his soul and delivered a cruel justice to an evil man.

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Love for the Betrayer

(Lesley–Ann Dueno)


It was a serene, breezy night as she walked on the diamond sands of her island. She had missed the view of many colors changing in the sunset. The wind was bittersweet with the aroma of a time lost to her for many years. The scents were haunting, for they reminded her of the love she chose to leave behind. She had always contemplated them reuniting in some strange fashion, but she knew all too well the consequences of those actions.


“Dreaming on the past?” A voice came silently from behind. “You made your decision long ago to be my consort, but yet your heart is still with him.” He ran his beautiful hands through her long, straight, jet-black hair. “I made my decision out of fear Eidan. You made your plans very clear to Nari, and me.”


“You slit her throat before my eyes to prove your point when it was already done. My sister loved you with all that she was in life, and you just wanted to spill more blood. You killed Nari, Eidan. You slaughtered my sister like she was an animal of yours, and there is a part of me that will always hate you for that.”


Shrugging him off, she turned to walk away.” He grabbed her arm with little force. “She knew that I had no love for her. I was not going to let her interfere, nor influence the affection you had for me.” “Affection, Eidan I loved your brother. He was my life then. You claimed to love me, when it could not have been so. You only wanted what he had as when we were children.”


He put his arms around her, with her back pressed against his chest. “But you love me now, Aira, as I knew you would. No one will ever seize you from my grasp, or they shall die trying.” Eidan, I care very much for you now, yes, but I am not in love with you. I left your brother to be alone, to save him from you, not to be your consort.” He got filled with anger, and held her tighter, speaking softly into her ear.


“Make no mistake my love, I can satisfy my hunger for his blood, and fulfill the promise I made to you four years ago, or you can love me the way you loved him. We have all the time in the world.” She turns around with his arms still firmly around her, and strokes his devilishly handsome face.


“What is the reason for your animosity towards your kin? He would have done anything for you, but you’ve always resented him.” He let go her abruptly. “Enough! Four years have gone, and I have done everything in my power to keep you entertained, and treated like a monarch, yet you carry on of that miscreant.” As he calms down, he goes to her, and embraces her face in his palms.


“Time for the games to come to an end Aira. You will be my wife, you will be my lover, and you will bring forth my children. You will do this my love, or he dies. Then after, you and your clan shall follow. Tonight we will dine in the atrium.” He gives her a kiss, then goes on his way.


Eidan had taken Aira away from everything that once brought fulfillment to her heart, and tortured her mind. She was also very ashamed at the fact that after all he had done to her, the hatred she had for him then grew into something else. What was it you say? Well, she started to love him, and it was eating her up alive. How could she betray Nari, herself, and especially her love Elija, who happened to be Eidan’s younger brother.


Eidan wasn’t always so filled with rage, and in fact his childhood was what any normal boy would want. It was just that his mind played tricks on him. At the age of twelve he started to seclude himself from everyone except Aira. He had a fancy for weapons, particularly swords.


So Aira would find him spending hours upon hours practicing, but sometimes he would get so intense that it would seem as if he were training to be an assassin. He came to her once, to her home. It was late at night, and everyone was asleep. The sight of him terrified her.


He was badly bruised, and covered with blood. His clothes were torn, but the blood was not all from him. She tried her hardest not to become frantic. She had never seen so much blood on a person in her life. She gathered her fear, and started to clean him up. Eidan stayed silent, like in a daze.


There was a rather large bag in his hand with blood dripping from the bottom. The bag itself had a foul stench. Aira was curious, but terrified at the same moment. She took the bag from Eidan to set it down on the floor. The bag was indeed heavy. Then she started to work on Eidan.


She boiled water to make him a bath. She took his clothes, placed him into the water, and continued to cleanse him. Eidan was only at the age of seventeen then, yet looking as though he went through war. She felt pity, and desperately wanted to help for she was the only peace this Angry Swordsman ever knew....

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Thank you again; care to be the fourth writer?

we were just freestyling with this just to see where we can take it. My Wife and I both had something in mind, we just haven't had the time to sit down and write it out, I can check with Red Angel to see if he has a few ideas to keep this going, but by all means feel free to join in.

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A Deadly Game

(Charles Cruz Dueno)


Elric paused to catch his breath. He had been traveling most of the night in hopes of leading the Packmaster away from the other elves. It didn't take long for him to deal with the gnolls and now he had picked up Elric's scent. In his new form, the Packmaster was like a frenzied animal; Elric realized he had to be the bait to draw the Packmaster away from Prince Kaiden, Ililah and the children.


Perhaps he could reward the humans with a taste of their savagery, so Elric meandered his way to the human kingdom. With any luck, the Packmaster would be unleashed in the human kingdoms and the Angry Swordsman would have to contend with this beast. The Elves would then be free to escape further into the mountains.


Elric however underestimated the mindless aggression of the Packmaster, and the frenzied beast was relentless. He had pursued the elf with no pause and Elric was exhausted from the travel. He knew better, but he propped his shoulder against a tree and gulped in a breath of fresh air.


His elven ears could hear the beast ever closing towards him, growling and gnashing with its fangs. The Woodland Spirit was in a constant hum, for the danger was ever present, and it only took one moment of inadequacy for the Packmaster to seize the opportunity.


A moment’s compassion was in inadequate enough, for it was just out of the corner of his eye that he noticed her walking along a well beaten trail leading into the human kingdoms. From the run of her silky gown, Elric could tell she was some kind of noble. The strangeness of it all was that, this woman still had a sense of her empathy to the woodland. She would often ease her troubled mind by taking a walk through the woods at night, she enjoyed the trees, and the moon.


Elric could tell that the Packmaster had picked up her scent, and a moment’s clarity followed; this woman did not deserve the fate Elric would no sooner hand her. She heard the sound of the beast scrambling through the brush and in a panic, began to run back to the safety of the human settlements.


First a whistle, then a thump, and Elric’s arrow penetrated deep into the small of the monster’s back. The Packmaster screamed, turning his furious attention back to the Elf. Elric trembled a bit, realizing what he had done, then frantically drew his blade.


The Woodland Spirit hummed and glistened in the moonlight, temporarily blinding the beast; however the Packmaster being a hellish creation was immune to the effects of the woodland magic. It made him angrier. The Packmaster charged foreword violently, and Elric side stepped, swinging the blade to where the arc caught the beast’s right arm and severed it. Elric however was staggered by the claws ripping across his chest and fell backwards onto the ground.


The Packmaster was fire and frenzy incarnate, swinging his bulky body around and pouncing on Elric.


Elric had fortunately trapped the Packmaster’s left arm with his own, his right hand clenched around the beasts throat fighting for dear life not to let the beast’s wicked teeth sink into his face. The beast was immensely powerful, slowly his jaws inched their way to the elf.


It was sudden sprits of light that confused the beast, as the woman stood before him with a small silver dagger. Elric kicked the beast off him and crouched in a fighting stance blocking the beast from the woman. It was the silver dagger, the beast was terrified of it, scowled and ran off back into the woods.


Elric fell over limp and the lady helped him back to his feet.


“Thank you for your help young elf, I am Lady Aira, what is your name?..........”

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