I caught her as she fell, lifting her in my arms. I turned back to the Chief before I left, "do not mistake me for a coward when I leave. I shall return when you need me and we shall defeat our enemies."

I took her back to Eros who sat in a chair looking worried and angry. I placed her on a mat and sat before him.

"Old friend," I clasped his shoulder and he smiled wearily at me, "time has been hard on you has it not," everything about him spoke age and tiredess.

"I wish I could say the same for you Melethorn, so that we could grow old together, yet you have barely changed... except your eyes, they speak more and more of your age, how long have you wandered this land?"

"979 years old friend, how long has it been since we set out together on our adventures?"

"69 years and counting but let us not speak of such matters, it pains me to remember wat I no longer have," he muttered solemnly, "but what are your plans... for her," he gestured towards Lilayth.

"I would have taken her with me, there are stories I wanted to share with her, things I wanted to teach her but-"

"You will leave again?" he stood up, angered, "you claim to are for her yet you stay little more than a few hours, have a heart!"

"My dear Eros you know I am busy, that there are things to be done, as much as it kills me, I must depart... do not make this harder than it ought," he bowed his head.

"You're right, you're always right... but you don't see her when you leave... she doesn't mope nor does she long to see you, she longs to prove herself and puts herself in danger," he gestured towards her motionless body, "and that tears me up inside."

"you are strong Eros, I could only wish I had half the heart that you do, you will keep her safe... maybe I can take her next time."

I returned once more to my stag and leapt on his back, willing him to go.

The journey towards the edge of the woods was swift, but I could not shake off the feeling that somebody was following me. I willed him on faster as I shot past the small village of Hawthorne. But as I neared the edges of the forest I saw a flash of teal and was knocked off my stag.

"Your shadow melding has vastly improved, that was some fast work..."

"You taught me," she said sternly and as a show of power disappeared into the leaves in one side of the clearing and reappeared in another.

"You should be resting... Lilayth," I sighed, "what did you wa-?"

I gasped and stared out into the green.

"What is it?" Lilayth asked.

"Corrupt spirits of nature..." I could see black eyes staring through the foliage, melding with it, "Fell demons, return to your place!" I boomed but they continued to advance. I held out my staff and planted it in the ground shouting, "I cleanse the darkness that clutches your hearts!" a wave of green energy shot out and struck the spirits but one leapt onto a tree and jumped over the spell. The others ran away.

The spirit was translucent, like green liquid shimmering and pertaining to a wolf-like form, the black eyes glaring at me.

"Back wretch!" I shouted, the spirit stopped and regarded me.

"I'll kill it!" Lilayth shouted.

"NO-" she threw a dagger but it sank right through, "do not kill it... it is a sacred creature!" I urged.

It leapt at me but I struck it with my staff. There was a flash of light and the wolf fell to the ground. It got up and ran off.

"Now... what do you want?" I asked Lilayth again.

The End

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