He burst from a wall of brush, the wall of a great forest, feet pounding and breath heaving with fatigue, running for his life. His feet meet the ground, trampling and tangling in the waving green grass of a vast field overlooking a hill, atop which is a large, gnarled oak tree. He runs to it, the only landmark in an otherwhise empty field. The hill is steep, but he makes it nonetheless. At least he would take the high ground. As he neared it, he paused to rest, for the first time in three days of running, running... it’s been three days... surely, I haven’t lost him? But as he looked into the forest from which he came, where previously he was pursued by his foe, there was silence, and stillness. There was no apparent sign that he was still being pursued. The elf, whose name was Boreelion, heaved a relieved sigh, and slumped against the tree.
The bark, however, was rougher than most oaks, even for an oak. He looked up at it, and as he did, a lump formed in his throat. This tree, he thought. Could it be... am I... Where am I? he frantically gazed over the hill, and before his waking eyes, the sky turned dark, but it didn’t. A village below, burning away, the blood curdling screams of burning women, men, children... but it wasn’t. It was just a ruin, but one that Boreelion vividly remembered. He was faint, dizzy even, and had to lean against the tree for support. This village, he thought. He remembered the arrows ablaze, flying like red stars that glowed with the flames of death as they showered the night with their destructive malice. He could remember dipping them into the tar, scorching the tips of his fingers, setting a hundred arrows alight before mounting all on the string of his mighty bow. He could feel the bow in his hands as he recalled that dreadful, horrible night. The sky once again went black, and with before him he once again saw the village burn, heard the villagers scream, and began coughing, choking on the mere memory of the smoke that rose from the blazing inferno that may have once resembled a village, but was now just a ruin. And it was his fault.
He could remember aiming the arrows at the village, his mind blinded by his rage, but then reason fought its way to the surface. Wait! Don’t! it might have cried feebly, but to no avail. He almost stopped himself though, but one false move, as he made to adjust his grip, he could still feel the string slip from his fingers, hear the twang! of the string being pulled taught. He could recall perfectly the arrows as they flew in a sickeningly beautiful arc, like flaming stars as they made to the village. It was from this very spot that he made that shot. And the sky was bright again, as he awakened from his waking nightmare by a loud THUMP.
No... He has found me. He with little time to spare, he ran to the village, just as a club-like arm came down made of wood where, just a split second before, he had been standing. A groaning, creaking, cracking noise accompanied by the sound of earth being torn up by roots, and an enraged roar assaulted Boreelions ears as he sprinted down the hill towards the ruined village, pure adrenaline replacing his fatigue. Now he was truly fearful. Only when he was far from the source of the noise did he pause to face his ruthless pursuer.
Erect atop the hill, where the gnarled oak once stood, was a gigantic oaklike man, whose skin was like the bark of the tree, but with some sick alterations. His left hand, as Boreelion watched in horrified awe, warped and writhed into the shape of a sword, while in his right he bore what looked like a stone shield. His skin was burnt in places, slashed in others, like battle scars of an ageless war hero, only a horrible tree giant thing. Again it bellowed, it’s deep voice seeming to shake the very earth under Boreelions feet.
“BOREELION!” it roared, raising it’s sword like forearm in defiance. “It is time for this to end! It is time for you to die for your crimes! You, who are most hated out of all on this Plane! You, who’s doomed heart has been corrupted by evil and rage! Truly, you are a disgrace to your kind, elf! Now, I will make a promise to you, cursed one! I will put you to rest! I, Sernhil, will kill you! You will pay for the lives you claimed in the thousands with your bones, flesh, blood and soul! Give it all back, Boreelion! For I intend to take it all back!” And with that, Sernhil the Tree Giant charged with astonishing speed, his warcry alone enough to crush even the stoutest of hearts, but Boreelion couldn’t run now. Better to eliminate the problem then try to escape it. He returned the charge, drawing his own sword, a gleaming bastard sword with a crimson blade, that burst to life in his hands, fire enveloping the blade like a veil, as runes upon it glowed with an angry light. No turning back...
Sernhil opened up, with his shield in one hand and his sword acting as the other, with a devastating blow that would have had Boreelion cleft in two, had he not jumped out of the way. He returned with a strike with his sword, but Sernhil caught it with his shield, returning again with a blow that again would have killed Boreelion were it not for his speed. As it was, Boreelion was hit in the arm, a deep gash that poured golden blood, but not for long. The wound knit itself shut, and in a second, there wasn’t even a scar. At this point, Boreelion was again overcome by his rage, and with an angry bellow he slashed wildly at Sernhil, who was just barely able to defend himself, until Boreelion finally landed a blow, slashing away the sword like appendage on his left.
Sernhil roared in pain, as the wood on his arm warped once more, contorting into the crude shape of a wicked axeblade so massive that Serhil had to drop his shield to support the bulk of his own arm, Swinging the axe to and fro, crashing through ruined buildings and columns, as they fought through the city. Serhil came down with his mighty axe, and Boreelion seized the opportunity. He rolled between the giants legs, stabbing upwards into the thigh of the creature, who was brought to one knee. Now! He climbed into the giants branches, hacking them off as he did so, narrowly avoiding his swipes. The axe came around once and, nearly missing him, wrenched the sword from his hand, and he climbed faster into the top untill, right on the top, there was an opening just big enough to slip into. He jumped in. As soon as he did so, it seemed Sernhil was running in one direction, keeping steady pace. Boreelion reached into his pocket, and found what he was looking for: a small bottle of lantern oil, which unstoppered and poured all over the floor of the inside of this whole.
“No!” said Sernhil. “If I go up in flames, Boreelion, so will you! Damn you, cursed elf! We’ll both die!” and then he seemed to laugh, as he slowed down. Boreelion fumbled with his flint, and tried to make a spark. “Fool!” said Sernhil. “You cannot live if you do this! I will die a hero, and you a coward. Is that what you want? Coward! Come out and fight, coward!”
“Sernhil!” said Boreelion. “For three days you have pursued me! Now, may you finally see your error in chosing this path! You are the fool! Now burn a fool!” and with one spark the oil at the bottom of the crevice burst to light, and he jumped free of the giant, running off of Sernhil and bounding safely away... To his horror, however, this put him over a large cliff, possibly two hundred feet straight down to the rocky coast below. Time seemed to slow, and in this second he caught a glimpse of Sernhil, the fire now just beginning to truly burn him, as flames leapt from his remaining branches, and his eyes, as he roared in some sick combination of triumph and agony. He could see the village beyond him, all ruined rubble. So this is where you ran, Sernhil? To the ocean? You picked a fine cliff. Thought Boreelion, as time began to catch up again. He flailed through the air, as the ground rushed to meet him.
He landed on his back, his blood pooling under him in a great golden spot, slowly being lapped away by the gentle waves. He gazed above at the top of the cliff, as Sernhil himself made to leap from the cliff. There he lay, his body broken, his arm mangled under him, his head splite wide so that his brain jutted from his skull. His vision went in spots of black and white, and color, and, in his last moment, he lamented. His last broken sight was of Sernhil, as he fell towards him, ablaze and already doomed. The last thing he heard was his voice:
“No, Boreelion. You will die a fool!”
And then all was silent and dark. Forever.
This piece was originally written by Draven, who then sent it to me for some polishing. He asked me to put it up for him. Any complements regarding the story go to him, not me.