Moonlight wolf

by

Michael Gordon

Chapter 1 Forest of the End and the Beginning

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The full moon illuminated the night, slightly covered by the tree canvases and the smog from torch lights covering the opening that the moonlight rain down on the soil. Hurried breaths continues to be heard throughout the plethora of trees with a few flashes of light in-between shouts before explosions slowly drowned out the surrounding sound before the sound of wild beast would plague the surrounding with angry roars that would blanket the forest.

A little while later men covered in light armor were seen converging outside the forest. They were a mix-and-mash of people from different heights and races. Some people armor set were more uniformed than others but it seems that they all met up for a common goal. There was a big fellow close to two meters in height covered in gaudy armor that seemed out of place. Huge amount of gold plated ornaments covered his helm and chest plate that made it look impractical in true combat. It gave the feeling that he was using ceremonial wear in a practical setting. He raised his unnecessarily heavy sword while his voice bellowed for all to hear.

“That pointed ear thief escaped in the forest with the city mana crystal. We gathered all the mercenaries and adventurers here to help track down the tree dweller that we could on short noti-. “He yelled.

 A male, a bit over half the size of an adult human interrupts the giant’s speech who seemed to be the leader with a few of his doubts.

“The people of the forest are not seized by greed for riches such as gold and gems nor for conventional power like most humans. If this woman that we seek is truly someone who was born from nature, she might be falsely accu-“

The short man looked down and was wide eyed in shock as his bleeding hands gripped the sword that plunged through his stomach. He looked up at the tall human in disbelief, confusion still rippled across his face; wondering what he did to deserve death. The crowd took a step back from the giant and became vigilant. The giant man pulled out a piece of official looking parchment that had a seal which were of clouds in the night sky printed at the bottom from his attire.

“I am under the orders from the “The samurai of the night” to bring back the town magic crystal from that pointy eared thief dead or alive.” He proceeded to slowly look at the crowd with his face showing anger but his eyes gleamed with a playful arrogance.

“Those who dare to oppose the lord and halt this mission will be dealt with.  I pledge I will fulfill these orders on the boartain family name.” The leader of group finished up pointing at the emblem on his chest looking a bit smug.

A rough looking man approached him from behind not hiding his footsteps so he wouldn’t cause any reason for alarm.

“Would you happen to be hihi?” The rough looking mercenary behind the giant ask him.

The giant turned around, using the motion from his turn to backhand the speaker into a tree, causing him to crash head first before he slowly fell to the ground. No one knew if he was dead or was out cold. One thing was guaranteed, he wouldn’t be able to finish this mission. He was either dead or the cost of this trip would impact him severely. Healing his injuries and addition to the time off he would have to take before he would be able to accept new missions made this trip very costly in more ways than one. Hopefully he would go to a cleric or doctor that knew their craft.

Clearly angered by the way he was addressed, he looked over the crowd with a face full of raged before he began to speak.

“I am to be referred to as “The mountain.”” The leader roared.

“I will not guarantee the life of the next one who misspeaks.”

The crowd looked at each other in shock. Some were surprised at the strength and others at the name and the weight his surnamed carried. A hush descended upon the crowd before hushed whispers ran throughout it.

“Is he from one of the noble families” an adventurer whispered?

Those who had a last name and family crest usually came from nobility. To see nobility on this type of mission was surprising.

“This mission not as simple as it seems.” A woman in a ragtag piece of equipment whispered.

“The nobility only stick their noses in things that affect their interest. The woman is either brave for offending nobility or she’s pitiful for being caught in their schemes.”

Hushed murmurs began to travel across the meeting site. The surrounding was finally quiet except the crackling fire from the torches and the people who were outside the forest. The beast long ago fled their homes in the wake of such a large gathering of people.

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There was a woman whom was running deeper into the forest gasping for breath while continuously looking over her shoulder. Running at a speed that seemed impossible in a cluster of trees, she continued to go deeper in the forest while jumping from one branch to another. Her steps were graceful, which appeared to be floating through the air like a hummingbird with each step like it was her normal gait.

 With a closer look at her appearance, you would see holes and burn marks throughout her attire; her hair was disheveled and she was covered in mud, sooth and vegetation. At her side was a pouch that she clinched like her life depended on it. On her back was a beautifully crafted bow with a quiver full of arrows. On the opposite side of the pouch was a simplistic looking dagger will no embodiment but was well made. Her eyes had a steely like determination but her ragged body that would continuously shake defied her willed. Her skin was the color of moonlight which seemed unnaturally pale but beautiful. Her veins were a dark purple, almost black; she had small lips but they seem to endlessly produce blood. She would continue to throw up blood during this night time excursion. Her body would slightly shake, while her eyes would lose and regain focus in a cycle. She knew she had to do something soon or she wouldn’t have a chance in the future.

“I cannot allow myself to die here. If I would die in the land of the humans, I would be the sinner of my race.” she said in a voice that was so quiet, even she could barely make it out.

She continued to hike throughout the steep hills. She could see the red glow throughout the forest behind her. She quickly examined herself. Scratches marring her body while blood leaking from her sides as she went up and down the trail.

“The more experience hunters will find my tracks soon.” She thought. She was too weak from the blood lost and she began to move a bit more sluggishly. She was too tired to try and cover up her tracks. She began to look around her; pair of eyes was seen in the darkness.

“The beast that inhabit this forest are starting to get agitated by the smell of blood.” She looked around at the giant vines covering the ground and all the grooves and caves that were covered in darkness. The place that she would normally feel at home caused her to feel like she was surrounded by enemies lurking in the dark.

She finally reaches a high vantage point in the surrounding area and could see a clearing with a lake coming up. The lake spanned for a few acres and was surrounded with vegetation. The trees and flowers grew uninhibited and the lake flourished with life. In a few seconds, she decides that the clearing before the lake would be where she’ll gamble it all. She set herself on-route for the lake and prayed.

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The mountain and a well-trained group were examining the ground. The vines and uneven terrain made it difficult to transverse the forest and the darkness only amplified the difficulty. On the ground, the vegetation had marks of being trampled on. Blood drops were seen on some of the leaves. The mountain smiled.

“The bitch truly knows how to run but it won’t be long till I have her head.”  He turned to the side and ordered the group.

“It time to start tracking in earnest, hurry up and start tracking.” The mountain barked.

The leader turned his head and looked at him with disdain.

“Did you let those filthy peasants’ gossip get to your head? Do you truly think you’re a noble and have the rank to order the night guard around? We only here because of the lord’s orders. If you continue to fantasize Hihi, I will bring your head back to the lord with our target.” The man uttered in a monotone voice.

The mountain was incense. He bit down in annoyance but he finally spit to the side reluctantly and walked forward.

The man sneered, walked away from the group and kneeled down. He started to release an aura before the aura seemed to compress and go to his hand. He released the aura on the ground and it began to pull in pieces of the environment around it. It began as a ball of soil, vegetation and branches but it began to take shape. After a few seconds, it began to take the shape of a dog. It walked to the vegetation with the blood on it and began to sniff.

The mountain was still irate but he couldn’t help but be impressed. To be able to use magic to create a creature that resembled a hunter dog in so many ways that quickly was impressive. To summon or call for a contracted beast or creature was extremely fast but he was able to create one just as fast. Of course, its combat and durability was up for debate. The earthly creature that looks like a nature infused dog golem began to growl as it looked in a certain direction.

“I have a lead.” The man who initiated the magic stated.

He gave it a mental command and the golem shot off while he followed it. The rest of the night guards followed right behind him while the mountain watch them takeoff.

 “This place will not only be that stuck up bitch burial.” He clenches his fist and said through his gritted teeth, before he quickly caught up.

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The pale woman arrived in front of the lake wheezing deeply. She was drained and couldn’t do much. She continued to walk until she was close to the biggest tree by the lake. It canvas looked like it touched the sky while it roots seemed to grab the ground. The tree gave the illusion that it was holding the terrain and the sky together. She walked up to it and placed her hand and forehead on the bark and apologized.

“I’m sorry for this transgression” She whispered.

She proceeded to glow green with a tint of a sickly purple. After a while, the tree seemed to resonate with her and glow the same color. As she continues to glow, her wounds slowly started to heal and the cuts around her body began to close. Her body began to regain a more natural tint and the purple tinted aura around her began to become fainter but it never disappeared. Simultaneously the tree began to wither and release a slightly purple tint. She then coughed up black blood before she smiled.

“I’m still infected by that demonic poison but with enough time and medicine, I should be able to completely recover. Sadly I don’t have that luxury.” She shook her head ruefully looking at the red glow surrounding her in the distant.  

She looked at the tree and saw that it was still withering because of the infestation and knew that it would destroy a sizable amount of the trees in the area if she let it continued. She proceeded to open the pouch and take out an opaque crystal the size of a stone that was 12 inches in circumference. It has a mysterious glow that emitted an aura that seemed endless.

“The mana in this crystal feels as vast as the ocean.” She smiled at it and looked in wonder.

“That’s why I cannot allow it to fall in their hands.” She looked across the land with a determine look.

She then began to pull a vast amount of mana from the crystal and injected it into the tree. The mana turned a tint of green before it began to flow causing the tree to shine with vitality. The withering began to fall off and be replaced with new bark and new leaves. It still had a tint of a purple aura glowing around it but the natural recovery of the tree that was back at its peak was stronger than the bit of poison that travels through the tree.

After seeing the results, she wiped the sweat from her forehead and smiled. Trying to control that much foreign mana was draining and it exhausted her even more but her body recovery was stable at least. She checked and now had access to her own mana pool. She could tell that the inside of her body hasn’t completely recovered but she could use her mana to stave off the rest of the poison she couldn’t get rid of.  She saw the land in front of the lake and smiled.

“This will become my domain. Those whom are ready to take a life shalt be prepared to have their life stolen from them.” She thought.

Her smile remained but her eyes had a malicious glint in them. She walked out and started to trace her fingers across the land. If you look closely, you would see the aura of mana seep along the soil where her fingers touched and disappeared. Some places she stopped at and inserted more mana than others. They were the nodes that connected other lines together. Some of the lines resembled a familiar shape or animal but others looked like scribble. She had to stop multiple times to meditate for a few minutes and recover her strength before pushing herself to continue.

 Her eyes were bright as she looked over her handy work. She could only form a certain amount of formations. There was multiple different diagrams but they all convene together to make a bigger picture while simultaneously could be viewed separate. These formations definitely were not done by an amateur. She began to dust her hands off smiling.

“I could only make a few attack and defense formations and a few that are utilities but I’m running out of time. This will have to be enough.” She said proud of what she could do in less than an hour time.

She walked to the lake and sat on top of the water. The earlier skill only allowed her to share her vitality with the tree allowing the tree to aid in her recovery while allowing the poison in her to pass through the tree as well, effectively diluted it from her body. It didn’t allow her to fully fix all her problems. She planned on try to recover as much stamina and pushing out as much exhaustion from her body as possible. She was also mentally fatigued as well. Having to use the mana crystal and create that many formations in that time frame caused her to reach her limit. She closed her eyes and began to meditate.

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The six man group traveled throughout the forest for what seemed like hours. They were still in the outer forest but they began to see more and more beast looking at them from the shadows. The aura that the group released quickly discouraged them back into hiding. The night guard stayed in formation, a foot apart from each other. The mountain was running through this convoluted forest. The vines, trees and uneven terrain made it a hassle to transverse. He began to feel exhausted from running through the forest for this long at this pace with his armor set. He looked at the guard in the lead and had to ask him.

“Is she really this far in? How can someone that injured while infected with poison travel this far this fast?”

The man scoffed.

“She probably was traveling the forest at twice the speed we currently are and that’s when she in such a weaken state. If she wasn’t effect by the black nether lily poison that not only stopped the user from having access to their own mana; attacks the vitality and the soul, she would have completely recovered by now. Not only would we would not be able to catch up to her if she truly wanted to escape, she could kill us by herself instead.”

The man continued.

“Not only is she better equipped for this type of environment by the equipment she wears, she been living and moving through forests for centuries. She able to move throughout the wilderness like it is a well-kept road. Her unique race ability allows her to communicate with the forest and it is rumored that the elders are even able to use the forest as an endless source of vitality to recover.” His tone having a hint of respect and awe.

The mountain displayed shock which quickly turn into fear.

“I heard of their ability to hunt in the wilderness was top notch. After all this time, she should have recovered by now. Do we even have a chance to capture her?” the mountain said as he began to slow down.

Another man in the group sneered.

“Donovan, explaining to this brute is a waste of breath. He truly doesn’t use his head.”

The man who in control of the hunter dog golem look back and shook his head.

“Even though he is clinging on the lord legs to try to push his family clan into a noble position, he was still accepted by the lord as one of his many dogs. If he speaks ignorantly in public, it reflects on our lord and might bring shame to the lord name. That’s why I’m wasting my voice trying to teach him Cayden.”

The mountain clenched his hand so hard, it began to bleed. Donovan saw this but continued his explanation as if he was a teacher and Hihi was a student.

“The poison that infected her body is not so easy to get rid of. A normal tree or vegetation mana and vitality she steal would not put a dent in it. It might even aggravate the poison even more. She would have to find a great tree that bathed in mana for years probably decades. That compound poison was made by a magic poison user who mixed many poisons together before it could affect a being at her level. The end result is called the black nether lily. It is a famous poison known in the underworld to be deadly and causes a terrible death in seconds.”

Hihi continue to listen to Donovan like a studious student almost forgetting his anger.

“Such a poison needs a specific medication to cure but usually too late to administer because most victims die instantly. The reason this poison is so vicious is that it’s like a virus that not only affect the victim body and organs; it also attacks the vitality and the soul. It continues to spread after the victim dies and they blood effect the land turning it black. Truly vicious” He just shook his lamenting the viciousness of the poison.

The mountain shuttered thinking about the viciousness of the poison but also began to appreciate her ability to continue to struggle till now.

“We must hurry.” Donovan said. “She will not be able to recover quickly but it is estimated that she will recover enough strength in 12 hours to be able to escape. They began to push themselves and increase their pace.

“Someone of your strength is worthy of respect even though you a bitch.” The mountain though.

“I shall give you a quick death and allow you to be accompanied by a few of your trackers in death” the mountain smirked.

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She continued to sit on the lake and felt the water under her. She felt her organs patched up albeit not optimal and her vitality was mostly recovered from sharing her vitality with the tree. Her biggest problem was that her body and mind was completely exhausted. This would make it impossible for her to move freely and her exhausted mental would make it almost impossible for her to cast and control magic. Her body and mind feeling like they were suddenly hit by a hammer sporadically didn’t help but that happened when your soul was injured. The damage soul was the biggest problem. If a soul is damaged enough, a person very personality can change and worst case would be their body completely collapses and their soul would disappear. Thankfully she contained the initial damaged and stopped it from spreading but she needed to attend to it ASAP.

As she had that thought, a ringing in her head caused her to slowly open her eyes. The formation had picked up on intruders. She slowly stood up and got in position. Her hand began to reach toward her back to draw her bow.

“You cannot delay what meant to be. Lady Fauna, give me strength” She uttered.

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Michael Gordon

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