It was an unlikely day, as far as Levani was concerned. The beauty that sprawled upon the emerald floor and quipped about the eternal canopy in the forests of Asdenni betrayed the horror that lurked in the shadows. A smooth breeze tickled the skin of her neck and teased her short, unusual, silver hair, rooted with strokes of black, but even its playfulness could not subtract from the way her muscles stiffened. There were things that stalked amongst the dust, she knew. Terrible things, nightmarish things, things that sought relentlessly to tear open the veins of the nearest creatures and drink down their rushing lifeblood for no other reason than hatred. She shrugged her cloak closer to guard against the shudder of disdain that wracked her, like a ripple across her hackles. The last dregs of bleariness draining from her, Levani took the moment of silence to muster her strength and wrap her hands tighter around her magnificent staff, an elongated piece of wood decorated with glowing, green runes. The butt of it struck the ground, clearing power down through the dirt and giving it shape. Building up her will, she allowed it to flow through that which connected them both, and offered it to the living and inanimate things beneath. It stitched between them, quilting a blanket of animation and thought. She allowed it to become what it willed, fought against her desire to force her own image upon it; cleared the depictions from her mind until beneath her feet rumbled with the power and life it had been given. A golem split from the ground, a canine combined of plant and rock and dirt, its eyes the tumbled gems of another world. Runes that mimicked her staff, the two inexplicably entwined, ran along its sides and back, giving it will and thought. Gifts from She and He who gifted Levani herself. The rumble had no doubt garnered the attention of her quarry, which Levani had intended, and she listened as they squealed and chirruped at finding new prey. One by one, they broke into a run, on mutant, slick limbs, before tumbling into the traps she’d spread about moments before. When the vines and roots moved to strangle their movements, the construct she’d summoned darted forward and began ripping out their throats. They all watched her from their struggle, their hatred the only living remnant in their eyes. Deer, foxes, wolves, all of them, their flesh tattered, their bones broken, giving way to a growing, black sickness from within. It dappled their skin and worked its way deep into their soul. Their bodies broke as they fought to escape, fought to rip her apart. There was hardly anything left of them except for their anger and their pain. Without a moment’s mercy, Levani pulled the curved blade from her leather trousers, and joined her partnered creature, spilling the blood until the fight and madness bled with it. When it was finished, there was only silence. No birds, no insects. Just her breaths as they pulled in and pushed out. The sounds of the wood crashed like a wave when they resumed again, a welcoming, peaceful song. Levani took this moment to lean against her companion, her head cocked back to gaze up at the ribbons of light that streamed from the canopy above.