The woods are a lovely place, dark and deep with many-a secret that they keep. Shadows dance and weave in the twilight of the eve. Whispers flow through that dark, singing to the ear like a lark. But do not fear, do not fret, this tale is not over yet. There stands a pillar against the night. Her heart shines true with inner light.
The Lone Woods were a place of shadows and mystery where olde magic lived and breathed and did as it would with no master to shape it. Few who ventured in ever made it out. Lyra Silverfang was the only ranger who could go in and come out. A silver fox who called the woods home and her friend. She rescued the travelers who thought themselves smart enough, or brave enough, to make it through the woods.
One day while Lyra was walking the river that meandered through, the woods whispered to her. She paused to listen, her eyes closing as her ears twisted to seek the source and hear it better. Children wander the woods, Lyra. The beast hunts today. Not for fun, not for games, it hunts for food today.
Eyes opened wide at the news. Normally the forest wasn't so generous in the telling of people being lost; children however, the wood had a soft spot for children and did not like them being lost. Lyra spun and ran for the area the woods had told her the children were in. The beast was a creature of magic. An entity of darkness with no conscience, no morals. It could take the shape of whatever it wanted with haunting, glowing, silver eyes.
Normally the beast liked to play and was a large reason folk got lost. But sometimes... sometimes it fed of flesh to refresh the magic it used. The wood did not like the beast, it wanted it gone and so the wood did not feed the beast which led it to feed on flesh. It was a creature made, not meant to be, that had been turned loose in the wood. Lyra raced it now, what she would do when she got there if the beast was there, she did not know.
Laughter reached her ears, high pitched with the splashing of water. The children were playing in the shallows of the lake that the river fed from. A little lion cub and a wolf pup. Lyra felt the beast close, the woods whispered warnings to her as she moved towards the children. Then she saw it. The glowing eyes watched from a bush, then a cheshire like grin appeared, white against the shadows.
Eyes wide, Lyra screamed, "RUN! Children, run! Go around the lake and follow the path, it will take you home!"
The children stopped and turned to look at Lyra confused, then the beast leapt from the bush and gave a massive roar, the form of a monstrous lion the choice it took. High pitched screams pierced the air while Lyra pulled her bow from her back, notching an arrow to let it fly. The arrow struck solid flesh which showed how hungry the beast was.
Those glowing eyes turned on Lyra, a bone-chilling snarl following that look. Lyra chanced a glance to see the children running, the wolf tugging the lion along the way she had screamed at them. A quick whisper to the wood assured compliance that the path would remain for them, that it would take them home. Then all of her attention was on the beast who was angry its food was getting away.
Normally Lyra and the beast got along, but not when it was after children. She bared her teeth at it in an open challenge, tail lashing behind her as she held her bow before her. "C'mon, beastie. They're just children, there will be other's, adults you can have if you're clever enough."
Another low growl was her only answer, that shape flowing and changing into a sleek wolf that stepped forward. Those children are mine. The insidious voice whispered, then it spun and streaked after the children.
Cursing, Lyra took off after it. She called to the Lone Wood, asked for aid. The path changed when they got to it, but the beast barreled through the undergrowth, making its own path the way it knew the children had gone. Lyra ran as quick as she could, reaching for an arrow at her back as she did. As she went to notch the arrow a branch suddenly turned and knocked it from her hand.
A snarl slipped from her lips as she glared, then a thunk had her stopping as an arrow sprouted from a trunk inches from her nose. The shaft was pure white wood, unblemished. Bright red feathers tipped in gold decorated the end. The head was iron. The bane of most magical creatures. Runes etched the edge of the arrow head, a language Lyra did not speak, but she felt the power in it.
It will not kill, but it will stop. Dreams and nightmares are etched within the head. The wood will strike true, aimed with intent. Fires live within the feathers, able to banish darkness for a time.
An enchanted arrow from the wood. It seemed fitting. Grabbing the arrow, Lyra set off once again, pushing herself even faster to make up for the lost time. A frustrated bellow met her ears followed soon after by the shrieks of the children. Turning a corner, Lyra skidded to a stop as she found the beast tangled in vines, the children cowering just out of reach.
The wolf pup was on the ground, clutching his ankle while the lion cub curled around him protectively, baring her teeth at the beast despite the tears soaking her cheeks. Taking a deep breath, Lyra took her stance and notched the arrow. Years of practice had her pulling it back swiftly, aiming, then loosing on a slow released breath. The wind whistled, cut by the iron of the head, the feathers aiding the shaft in staying true.
A high pitched scream sounded shortly after the twang of her bowstring, the sound so high and so loud it had Lyra dropping her bow to cover her ears, the children doing the same. The feathers flared brightly, the shadows of the beast fading as the glowing eyes drooped shut. A last, little growl sounded on the wind before the last of the shadows faded away and the arrow with it.
The children slowly looked up from their cowered position, Lyra stepped forward to meet them. "Come children, let us get you home." she murmured softly, picking up the wolf pup. Taking the lion cub's hand, she began to walk the path that opened before them, daylight at the end of the tunnel. A gathering of folk met them at the end, torches and weapons in hand as they'd readied to head into the wood.
The silver fox was glad to hand the children over to their parents loving arms, then she paused before returning to the wood. "The beast hungers for flesh. Do not enter the woods for a time, or at all if you value your life. Only those chosen may pass safely through it, only those who's need is great. This is a place of magic, untamed by hand and it will remain that way."
Before anyone could call her back, Lyra ran back into her beloved wood, her black and silver pelt blending with the shadows as if she was one of them.
Legend says Lyra Silverfang isn't real, that she isn't flesh and blood. The legend's say she is the Lone Wood's answer to the beast. A magic given form that is meant to aid those in dire need to pass the wood, or to save those too innocent to fall victim to the magic that lives therein. Believe what you will of this tale, but I felt her arms around me. She carried me from that wood and saved me and my wife from the death that lurks there.