A shriek of terror rang through the trees, scaring off the deer. I cursed beneath my teeth and took a shot at the retreating form of the buck. Missed. I swore into the surrounding branches, sending at least a dozen birds flying off into the sky. I had 50 airgeads waiting for me back at the butcher’s when I would somehow drag the body of a 320 pound deer into the front entrance. There goes my big pay, I thought, bitterness making my throat feel acidic.
Another shriek brought me out of my losses. It sounded desperate and on the edge of death. Unintelligible noises turned into words. “Help me, please!”
I ran through the trees, stringing another arrow into my bow. Climbing over toppled trees and bushes with spikes as deadly as a thousand poisoned swords, I nearly tripped as I crested over the hill where the screaming was coming from. A woman was lying on top of the Saur Boulder with a man on top of her, hands on her throat.
A rawness transformed in my throat as I slowly realized I was the one who produced the feral scream of surprise. The man turned to me and I saw that it was no man. Wisps of black smoke came together to form the shape of a man, roiling like a storm was taking place inside. Two red eyes stared directly into mine and made my heart stop. I had a feeling this man-this thing-knew who I was and could see everything inside my thoughts. My fingers fumbled around the body of my arrow as I shakily drew my bow back, my legs failing to support me. The being transformed into a thin cloud of darkness, speeding right towards me, inches away from colliding into me. The bowstring slipped from my fingers and hit the cloud directly in-between its glowing-red eyes. It disappeared with a piercing screech.
The forest seemed to stand still, nothing but my shallow breathing penetrating the silence.
“Thank you.” It was the woman, standing right in front of me. A wild tangle of hair spread everywhere like branches, not to mention that her hair was completely and utterly green. Her skin was as dark as the forest dirt beneath the carpet of leaves, seeming to meld into the deep earth below.
“No problem.” She stared into my eyes with an emerald-green intensity.
“You have done an extraordinary thing today, young girl. May the Earth be your Desh'mirai, even after you have become a part of it once again.” The woman’s eyes shimmered in the sunlight. The phrase caused something to stir at the back of my mind, old legends of the Earth becoming flesh and protecting those who vowed to protect Her. My legs failed to support me again as I kneeled before her in awe, my bow placed right in front of her feet as I bowed my head.