Liluye’s memory of the purification of the Shrine of the Elk came in fragments. She remembered seeing the bear for the first time:
Liluye remembered how nature obeyed her call.
The vines in the area erupted into action, slithering to life like black-thorned anacondas. The radius of the vines awakening was tremendous, ensconcing almost the entirety of the visible battle field. A maelstrom of ivy seized the blighted bear. The bear jerked to a halt. A moment later a crossbow bolt from Jac thudded into its flank.
Liluye had been shocked by the ferocity of nature’s aid in response to her plea. Never before had nature given itself so freely to the elf. In the past, the most Liluye had been capable of doing was make leaves twitch of their own accord… and that was when the new druid was concentrating so hard that sweat dripped down her brow.
Something had changed.
Liluye remembered her animal companion’s will.
Wander ignored her.
The stag tossed his antlers proudly and let out his war cry; a bugle that came from deep inside his chest. The megaloceros’ muscles rippled under moon-pale fur as he reared up and charged into the fray. The vines did not discriminate. Their thorns sliced crimson ribbons into the elk’s pallid fur. Wander ignored them and stomped gustily through the difficult terrain.
As he charged, a golden halo surrounded him.
Liluye remembered seeing evidence of her god in the battle:
Wander glowed with shimmering light and when his antlers struck the bear they sent out a shower of faint gold sparks. Similarly the blighted bear’s blood was black ichor. Shadows poured like vomit from its unhealthy maw. Wander’s white body was soaked with black and red blood, a flag of battle. The elk was badly wounded.
The bear’s neck was strangled by toxic vines. Bannon and Kelak were flanking it (Kelak was actually standing on its shoulders so he could more effectively chop at it). The eagle she had summoned screamed as it harried the bear’s back. The diseased bear slashed into Wander twice with its claws and then sunk its teeth into the elk’s shoulder. Wander’s furious bugle was cut short and the companion fell into unconsciousness, slumping in the bear’s jaws. Black toxic slime oozed out of the ursine monster’s mouth and onto the fading symbol of Erastil.
Purest gold light began to pour out of Wander’s wound. The light from Erastil was at war with the bear’s evil… but Wander was dying.
Liluye remembered how it felt to see the stag she’d raised from a fawn dance on death’s doorstep.
The druid reacted immediately. Instead of raising her hands in preparation to heal, the slender blonde skidded to a halt and hauled aloft her antler bow. If her friend the elk was to die, then this sick abomination would at least go before him.
The audial world, for Liluye, became muffled. Everything but the bear blurred in the elf’s keen vision. She could see thumping pulse in the animal’s straining neck, a tiny window revealed between the clutching vines she had summoned earlier. The elf whispered in Druidic: “Gadael iddo fod yn wir, Erastil.” In response, her arrow lit up like an ignited sunrod.
Liluye fired true.
The bear’s head separated from its shoulders as though a giant’s axe, not an arrow, had cut through it cleanly. Its body collapsed into the vines, dissolving away into the form of a decayed man which in turn transformed into ashes. The bear was felled.
Liluye remembered Jhod’s solemn suggestion that it was Erastil’s will that Liluye be the guardian of these woods. But more than anything else, Liluye remembered the incredible strength she felt inside of herself.
This power was… intoxicating.