Indigenous

We watched them land in the beginning, on boats of the finest woodwork to grace the seas with our own eyes, and we allowed it.

We warily observed them with great hewn axes of precise craftsmanship never seen before cut down vast swathes of trees within hours of landing, and we allowed it.

We withheld ourselves as they incurred upon our land, steel lined boots treading upon our sacred ground, disturbing its thousand years of rest, and the forest began to curl.

We warded them as they visited each of the races upon our island, and were found wanting. Their boots, trampling the saplings, mushrooms, and roots of the forest. The roots began to curl around our throats.

We would be considered fools by our brothers in their towers for letting someone invade us without even knowing we're here. They know nothing of subtlety.

We have been waiting.

We have been watching.

And we are not amused.

An arrow whistles through the air in the forest, covered by the sounds of rustling trees. It finds its mark.

"What in the hell? Hit the deck, we're under fire!"

We were swift, quick, and ruthless. The humans below, foreigners to our lands, never stood a chance. Surrounding them in advance, our arrows kissed their bodies.

One of the arrows connects with an iron breastplate, shattering the wooden sap-tipped arrow.

They think their armor will save them. But the forest is our weapon. No man can stand against nature itself.

The shards of the arrow, splintering upon the breast plate, blooming into the bottom of the soldiers neck. The sap drips into the open wounds.

We protect the forest, and the forest protects us.

The soldier, hiding behind his shield from the invisible assault in the tree-line, loses his grip on his bulwark. The poison quickly spreading to his arms.

"God help us."

An elfan reaches into the trunk of the tree and pulls out a fully formed arrow, given to him by the forest itself.

We have seen first hand the opportunism of the humans, their greed, pilfering all that is in their path. It is not a matter of if they will cut down our forest, but when.

The elfan nocks the arrow and aims it at the armored man.

We understand. It is not who makes peace, who is the strongest, or who is the smartest who comes out first. It is who cuts the other down first.

The arrow flies, guided by the wind. The sickening sound of sharpened wood tearing into flesh carries far away beyond the bounds of the forest, echoing in the trees.

"They got the captain! Let's get the hell out of here!"

We abhor our brothers in the spire. They claim their mastery over nature as if it is some precious boon, viewing us savages for living in the trees of our birth. For what? They are the ones to mingle with other races, they are the ones to take slaves, and they are the ones to burn, to destroy. Their way of life, a curse disguised as a boon, has been their downfall.

But watching a human run after you've killed their alpha male… you start to make the connection that our brothers in the spire have. Now, they are easy prey.

There is no return fire. Human boots trample the earth, running over themselves attempting to escape out of the forest.

How could they escape. We are the forest.

There was but one human left after the impromptu slaughter. He had long since stopped running, seemingly accepting his fate and begged on the mercy of the Elfan.

All too easy.

The sound of a bow being drawn is heard, the soldier flinching. No arrow comes. A deep silence overtakes the woods, the man being completely aware of the eyes upon him, but not their locations or their numbers.

He's alone.

He doesn't even notice the leg draping lazily over the tree branch behind him, bow taught and arrow poised for flight. He doesn't see the cold smile amid shadowed branches, the lazy movement of muscles as if taunting the human's poor perception.

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"You, Larma."

A cavalcade of giggles erupts from the forest as the Elfan addresses the human.

"I'm sorry, Larma?"

The Elfan sighs and shoots a look of disappointment.

"Yes, Larma. It means pig in my language."

Again, a gaggle of laughter echoes through the trees.

The human grimaces at the treatment and self consciously sucks in his stomach behind his breastplate.

"I assume you have more to say than bandying insults with a dead man?"

"Maybe I just like toying with my prey."

The Elfan lazily draws back his bow and puts a wooden arrow in the tree behind the human, slicing off some of the soldier's hair and leaving a trickle of blood running down his face.

The soldier grimaces, but doesn't move to cover the wound with his hand, fearing what any sudden movements would do. Moving his eyes to the left of him, he can see the wooden arrow slowly disappear into the tree, as if it was being reabsorbed into the wood itself.

"Truthfully Larma, we are tired of your cavorting in our forest. Moving from left to right, paying treatise to the Spire, Dwarven, and Ashen realms, and not a moment to us. Not a sacrifice to the trees for all their roots you've treaded on, all the saplings you've stunted, all the food you've taken. But, we have taken our fair due. You are now free."

The soldier looks around him, in confusion, staring at the bodies of his allies. His confusion eventually turns to anger, cursing at the Elfan, hoping he chants some dark incantation by accident. The Elfan man unstrings his bow and gets up from his perch, taking some amusement in the humans bewilderment.

"I'm free to go? You kill my entire unit, to the last man, and I'm free? Why? Why? Is this another sick trick?"

"Tricks are for your kind human. We are more pragmatic. Look to your friends."

The soldier averts his gaze from the elf, who slips back into the darkness of the treetop canopy, to look at his regiment, quickly decaying, their blood being sucked up by the very roots they were just treading upon. Scrambling over to his captain, he tries desperately to pull his cadaver away from the roots, that grip and sucking the nutrients straight out of his corpse, and his body into the soil.

Despite his struggle, he is but a man, unable to overpower the forest, tumbling backwards as the body was ripped from his grasp, leaving him facing straight up staring at the break in the canopy at the night sky. After a moment of solitude, the soldier sits back up and looks around him to see the previous battle site laid bare of anything except a few breastplates, and the captains feathered landsknecht hat. Taking the cap with him as the last remnants of his regiment, the soldier left the clearing, and quickly found himself on the edge of the forest, once 12, now one.

tagnone

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