Esreiella drew her staff to the defensive as a vague ray of morning�s light pushed through the thick forest. It was enough to glean of the edge of the wicked, curved blades that had been tied to the end, but her true weapon had been stored away upon the beginning of her flight. It was too elegant with its shattered crystals and far too recognizable to carry anymore. It remained in a vault while she bound a sturdy, yet cheaper, ash quarterstaff in dark linens.

Ash,though, had the tendency to break and split, and the weight of the narrow iron rod within it only contributed to the issue. She wrapped it carefully, folding layers of navy upon each other. It made the weapon more suitable to her soft hands, but darkened stains that soaked deep into the fabric spoke volumes of the torn callouses and split skin she had earned in her retreat. All of it added up to more than just a grimy staff that looked better suited to tribal warfare.

The rider was still barreling down and there was little chance of the blades punching through the charger�s barding. Her pulse began to thunder in her ears with every hoof that slammed onto the ground. She changed her stance, moving to one that suited quick movement rather than bracing herself.

The zealot�s sword was drawn, shield raised on his guard side. A violet light sparked from her outstretched free hand. The sword, blessed with holy magics, sang as it cut through the air. Esreiella�s leading leg slid forward, dropping just beneath the sword�s arc. She credited such quick movements to the overall weight loss she had endured. Once, she had described as being �soft in the right places�, but hunger and effort had shed away what excess she had kept. Unfortunately, she still lacked in strength so much that she had to be precise about the weaknesses she exploited on the horse.

She could have tripped it, but she did not have the weight and physical power to stop herself from being taken down as well. It would leave her wide open for her own death if her staff had not done the work for the paladin or if the horse�s weight falling on her.

Esreiella waited for her opening to strike with a sweep from the bladed end of her staff. She grunted with the effort of forcing her weary body to work quickly as her feet moved and pivoted from her position. A fine spray of blood was lost to the dark soil of the forest floor and a wet snap was drowned out by the charger�s pained cries. The terrible crash of iron echoed through the trees as both rider and horse toppled, kicking up the black dirt into the rising morning mist.

The zealot screamed with a sudden burst of rage as he reached for his sword in spite of his pinned leg. His charger cried uselessly again as it thrashed an injured leg where just enough of the barding had exposed a space between the hock and fetlock to cut the tendon.

Esreiella pivoted back around to face the fallen zealot just in time to feel every nerve and fiber in her body sear with pain. She squeezed her eyes shut, but still a glorious light shined into her eyes. The spell was not long lived, but it left her staggering and leaning heavily on her staff. A hard force hit her in the chest, knocking the breath from her body and forcing her feet off the ground.

Her staff had fumbled awkwardly in her hands as she tried to keep her hold on it. A new pain bloomed in her limbs as her staff split lacerations in her flesh. Holy magic radiated a horrible stinging throughout her body, she gasped for breath, and fresh blood flowed. The desperation to survive in spite of the deep resentment she had for her own magic.

The violet light she had armed herself with turned to an acidic green as she reached towards the canopy. The zealot, however, was struggling to pull his leg away from his thrashing horse. He had the strength and he was making progress, but his charger had been a large one to support his size and weight.

A ripple of magic went through the area as leaves in the canopy bucked and burned away. A sulfurous scent flooded her nose as a large boulder, cracked and blazing fel fire, plummeted towards the hunter. He hardly had a moment to look up towards his fate before metal crumbled and bones snapped. The cries of horror from both horse and Draenei died out over the roars of an infernal emerging from its own gore-splattered rubble.

Esreiella flicked her hand at the demonic creature and let her arm rest on the soil. The pain was fading quickly, even more with the zealot dead. Of course, that did not halt the demon, and it roared its rage at the broken remains of horse and hunter. Tremors in the earth gently shook Esreiella while she remained supine as the demon pounded the zealot into twisted metal and a fine pulp with its rocky fists.

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Author Esreiella
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