Cinder Roots - A Treant's Tale
The sun went down while she was treating the wounded. Her mother was preparing the defences, mud walls and stone spikes, conjured by her elemental magic. The few villagers that didn’t get themselves killed stood by her mother’s side. The cowards had already run away from Pern, and the ones remaining were the stubborn and courageous ones that wouldn’t abandon their home. They stood their ground with pitchforks and axes. The forest gives, and the forest takes. This end was expected.
“The night is almost upon us. It won't take long now,” Agatha's mother said while approaching her.
“Do you think we have a chance?” she asked, cleaning her hands in her now dirty and bloodied dress.
“It's very difficult to say… That depends if they bring any more kindleds with them,” her mother answered, “we have to hope their main force is occupied in Varania.”
“The Sergeant is a kindled,” she stated, “I saw him use a sword skill.”
“That'll be a problem… I can’t shape-shift anymore today to fight him face-to-face,” her mother said.
Kindleds that used sword skills were known to be extremely deadly in battle, striking with an amazing combination of speed and force. Many adventurers and officers often favored the sword skill finesse, making it the most famous and widely spread kindled class.
“We got lucky that he was more concerned about the lives of his soldiers than coming after us,” Agatha said, “maybe we can Mesmerize some wild animals to help us in the fight?”
Mesmerize was a useful druid spell, making a wild animal a temporary companion. Titania's power blessed most wild animals in Sylvan, making them naturally kindled. With this, Sylvan was one of the few places in the entire continent to have a natural protection to their borders.
“I think this may work, good idea,” her mother said with a proud, but stern look on her face. “I'll stay here in case they come early, now go!”
She wandered to the opposite side as the soldiers came. The forest was silent, Agatha didn’t hear any sounds being made except the ones she did. The animals were cautious.
She sang a familiar song, while making gentle gestures with her hands as she walked, almost dancing. She was doing the exact thing her aunt taught her. This'll calm them down, she thought. Her aunt was great with animals, making even the greatest ones relax. She activated the Cat’s Eye ability, allowing her to see in the dark. Don’t want to scare them away with my Light Ball right now.
A yellow-furred fox carefully approached. She cast her Animal Talk skill.
A skill created by the fey. Grants the caster a temporary ability to understand and communicate with wild animals
“Hello there, little one,” she whispered gently, “I really need some help, can you show me the way to one of your powerful friends?”
The fox nodded and walked deep into the woods. Agatha followed. The animal was looking back at her every few seconds, making sure she didn’t get lost. She wasn’t worried about that. The forest was her home.
A big brown bear was waiting for them. Lying on his back, near a small pond, he was apparently sleeping. She thanked the little fox as she approached the bear slowly, trying to don’t make any sound. A particularly snappy branch made her fail. The bear’s eyes opened, and with an incredible speed he charged at her.
She didn't lose time, quickly casting Mesmerize directly at the bear’s face.
The bear instantly relaxed, looking at her with a puppy face. He was so cute she almost forgot he was charging at her moments ago. Almost.
“Heya there grumpy boy, you terrified me, you know,” she said, softly stroking her hand over his brown fur. It was wet. “Look, I really need some help to fight some nasties, what do you think about giving me a paw?”
The gigantic bear purred like a cat. Great, now I just need to go back. She climbed on his back, mounting him like a warhorse.
"Let’s go! This way," she cast a Light Ball, "Just follow the light!"
He was fast. The forest she crossed in half an hour took him only minutes. The wind blew her wild hair. Her green eyes shifted to the potion on her belt. Still here, she thought as the bear charged.
They arrived, but it was late. The battle had already begun. The mud walls her mother made, now dry and hard as stone, were stopping the advance of the enemy force. Villagers were stabbing the soldiers with pitchforks while her mother cast Stone Spikes, giving it to other settlers for them to use as makeshift javelins. Her mother saw her arriving.
“AGATHA, GO DEFEND THE FLANKS, THEY ARE TRYING TO ENCIRCLE US!” She screamed to the top of her lungs.
She didn’t waste time answering. Directing her bear companion to the left side of her village, she saw the enemy Sergeant leading his troops to invade the center of the village. He was a tall, but slender looking man, with black feathers adorning his helmet, and a dark-gold colored symbol in his armor, resembling a black hippogriff. The hippogriff was the national animal of Dracia. She couldn’t see his face in the middle of the night, with only the fire lights to illuminate, it was a hard task. Right, the fire, she thought, I need to put out the fire first before it spreads. As she began to cast her Water Spray spell, they aimed an enormous Fireball straight at her. If it wasn’t for her bear quick dodge to the side, she would have been burned to a crisp. A Fire Mage? They brought a damned Fire Mage!? she could see him now, with his red robes now illuminated by the fire that was still in his hands. He'll burn the entire village along with a section of the forest, I need to take him down quickly.
She charged him, mounted on the brown bear, but to no avail. He was being protected by the Sergeant along with seven other soldiers. One tried to poke her bear with spears, only for the colossal beast to slash his enormous claws at the soldier's head, decapitating him instantly.
“Kill the bear! Don’t let her get close to the mage!” she heard the Sergeant scream orders to his men.
Finishing her Water Spray spell and activating her Barkskin ability, she prepared herself. Six soldiers left before I could get to the Sergeant and the Fire Mage. One soldier advanced, using his huge shield to block the bear's paws. The bear didn’t slash this time, opting instead to charge at the man's shield with his enormous jaws opened. It was shattered instantly. She used the opportunity to cup her hands together, aiming at the soldier's chest. Another approaching soldier used the bear’s momentum to strike with a huge war spear at the beast's side. The spear penetrated his flesh. He cried with pain.
The enemy mage aimed a Fireball at her. She used her Water Spray to slow the incoming meteor of fire, but to no avail. The explosion sent her flying away. Her Barkskin protected her from most of the blast, but her HP was dangerously low now. The bear was now being surrounded. He roared with a mixture of pain and rage. His eyes, maddened with fury, were shifting uncontrollably. His movements were becoming slower, his stamina fading away. Noticing this, the Sergeant ordered his crossbowmen to shoot. Many bolts pierced the beast’s fur. The Sergeant closed his distance, and with a swift strike of his blade, beheaded the beast.
NOOOOOOOOOOOO!' She screamed. Her voice wrought with the sound of loss.
They were now coming after her. Her body was burning with pain. She drank the Potion of Enduring Vitality her mother had given her. The taste was bitter. She tried to get up and prepare for another cast of Barkskin. Before she could finish the spell, a lucky crossbow bolt pierced her chest. Another one reached her stomach. The pain was maddening.
Now with the primary threat taken care of, the Sergeant commanded new orders.
“Advance to the village center! Let’s crush them!”
Still alive because of the potion’s effect, she crawled away from the fight. We lost the battle. She couldn’t think straight. The only thing on her mind was her daughter.
I NEED TO FIND HER. WHERE IS SHE?
The realization came with a bang. Of course she would be there. Her aunt’s grave. Her daughter was at her aunt’s grave.
Few excruciating minutes passed as her crawling turned into a painful walk. She was bleeding profusely, the bolts still embed in her body. The potion’s effect was ending. She entered a glave. The only thing watching her drop at the grass was a lonely tree. The tree was beautiful. Her mind was becoming a blank fog. It started to rain. Her blood was being washed away. The grass was getting red. She could feel the petrichor, that entrancing smell of the rain.
Her aunt's song....
These faint whispers were the last thoughts that crossed her mind.
The sounds of the forest swallowed her silence.