The wolf raced through the trees, brushing through the undergrowth as though it wasn't there.  He had a scent now, something that might be food.  A tiny part of his mind whimpered, recognising the scent as something dangerous.  The rest of his mind, overwhelmed in a verdant glow, ignored it, pushing forward and anxious for the kill.

The verdant glow nudged him and he veered left, cresting a small ridge and launching himself off, flying through the air like a sleek grey arrow.  He burst through the lowest branches of a tree and landed on his paws on the ground, ears pressed flat back against his head and his teeth bared in a snarl.  Less than ten feet in front of him was a man in dirty green robes cinched at the waist with brown rope.  The man, black-haired, stubbly and pale with fear stood his ground.  The wolf growled, a deep rumbling sound that echoed in the stand of the trees.  The man refused to move and closed his eyes, his hands trembling at his sides.  The wolf shifted his weight, bunching muscles to spring and bring the prey down.  Uncoiling, he leapt upward and forward, hot breath gasping from his jaws

--and fell, pulled back down to the ground again by something grasping and tangling his paws.

He rolled, trying to come back to his paws and something whipped across his back trying to hold him down.  He growled again, twisting his head across and biting savagely down.  A vine, green with sap, split and fell away, and he came back up on his paws which were tangled round with more vines.  He dropped his head, tearing at the vines with sharp teeth used to tearing flesh.  They split and splattered, green sap splashing over his muzzle and coat, but his front paws were free in very little time.  Raising his head again he raised his hackles and growled.  Last time had been a warning growl, telling the prey to run; this was a killing growl, telling his prey that the games were at an end.

The man in front of him still stood still, his eyes closed and his hands trembling.  He was clearly transfixed by the power of the wolf.  The wolf tensed again, and lunged.

Again he was pulled back by vines grasping at his paws.  Again he landed heavily on the ground, rolling and snapping around him, trying to catch the vines before they had a chance to ensnare him, but this time there were no vines flinging themselves up from the ground and over his body.  Instead, the pressure on his hind legs increased, a tightness stealing up them and across his haunches.  He tried to pull away, but couldn't get enough strength; his forelegs were for guiding, his rear legs had the heavy muscle.  He sat back, bringing the vines within reach of his sharp, cutting teeth.

His jaws wouldn't open far enough to use his teeth.  The green sap splashed all over had set and hardened; he could lick his lips but nothing more.  He whimpered momentarily, then tried to snarl again.  A choked sound came from this throat, but his jaws wouldn't move.  He tried to stand, but now the vines had snaked along his body and were tying him to the ground.  Unable to move anymore, he felt the slither of smooth, tentacular vines sliding along his body like the arms of a lover, embracing and holding him, pinning him to the ground and refusing to let him go free.


Mirko opened his eyes, shaking all over with the effort of summoning the vines from the earth.  The magic was simple enough, channeling the energy of the forest into growth, but the effort of controlling that to a localised area was hard.  He dropped to his knees; his heart was pounding in his chest as though he'd just for an hour uphill.  Little black dots floated in his vision, and he was gasping for breath.  He stayed there for several minutes, facing the wolf and watching in case it managed to break free of the vines that now encased it in a green cocoon.

When his legs finally felt as though they might support his weight once more he stood up and gingerly walked a few steps.  At first they were rubbery, but then they seemed to come back to life and he felt a kind of relief flood into him.  He'd beaten the wolf with nothing but the forest to help him!

Turning his back on the wolf, he looked carefully around him, looking for a suitable tree to cut a quarterstaff from.  He was not going to the mistake of going unarmed again.

The End

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