Grora’s face was pressed to the something that crinkled under her cheek. She breathed in slowly and groaned as something pinched in her chest. Her eyes struggled to open and she tasted iron on her paper dry lips. Something was thudding distantly and She as she struggled to push herself into a sitting position she put her hand in a pool of liquid. Grora shivered as she looked at wear her hand was. The liquid was dark and thick and when she pulled her hand away her hand was coated in red.
She Grora pressed her hand to her side and felt a thin slice along the right side of her ribcage. She looked around and saw large green topped trees with vines that wrapped around the trunks like snakes constricting their prey. Grora swallowed slowly and pushed herself away from the pool of her blood. The forest echoed the sounds of animals moving and Grora wondered what animal would complete what her former friend had started.
Grora closed her eyes as she leaned against a rotting tree trunk and contemplated her options. She was in the Neglected Woods, and the only humans that trapiezed these parts were the ruffians and the destitute. When her friend had suggested exploring the Forbidden Falls Grora had been leery but ultimately said yes because she owed Kitea-Ne-Trath a debt of service because Grora had been allowed to live in the ramshackle house of Kitea-Ne’s parents vineyard. Now, Grora’s debt was due.
The thudding of hooves grew louder and Grora cracked open an eye. A large muscular beast was weaving through the underbrush towards her and Grora wanted to scream, to rush away but instead she just closed her eyes and waited for the creature’s teeth to kill her and end the pain that was shooting up and down her side. The thudding grew to a cacophony and then there was the sound of rocks sliding and a large snort from above her. Grora opened her eyes and looked up at a large dark brown creature with thick legs and cloven feet. It had a long serpentine neck with a large triangular ears and an elegant head with large blue green eyes. The body was short backed and ended in a tail that was crystal colored. There was a mane that blew softly in the wind and reflected the light that filtered through the heavy canopy. As Grora took in the beast she noticed a human sitting on its back. The human wore dark green and black clothing and it looked like the rider’s hair was wrapped in a loose knot at the base of the hunter’s neck.
“You there, are you ok?” A crystalline voice said as Grora stared into orange eyes. “I’m uhh” Grora replied as the beast sniffed her. It snorted warm air against her cheek and Grora heard the thud of feet as the rider dismounted.
“I am Helatha Nor Stratca one of the leaders of the Royal Hunters. You are wounded; here let me tend to your wounds.” Helatha knelt beside Grora and pulled out some cloth and wrapped it around Grora’s middle. Grora sucked in a breath as the cloth tightened around her middle. Helatha looked at her and then spoke a word or two of the old language and Grora felt warmth ripple through her ruined side and then Grora was being helped up by thickly muscled arms….
Helatha guided the beast to the out camp. The unconscious Grora was covered in blood and smelled of fear and sweat. Helatha sighed as she greeted the guards and joked with them…