[Authoress' Note: This story is old, but I need more up here, so here it is, one my few successful short stories because all of the others tend to mutate into five-hundred page novels.]

[My eighth grade teacher hated this story, more reason for me to post!]

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A Daughter of Oakrune

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Prologue: A Glance Too Long

I'll never forget the first time I saw a human, trying to hike up the autumn forest with his fellows on his gangly, scrawny legs and a great bulbous pack on his shoulders. I thought Paris was joking when he pointed them out to me with his long, sun-drabbed finger, these creatures, so weak and helpless on just two feet, praying under their breath to whatever gods humans have, lest the mountain defeat them. They were ridiculous things, without balance or speed, or barely any muscles to survive hunting, and I pranced about on my four delicate hooves in the seclusion of the bush at their lunacy in their attempt.

"That's a human," Paris assured me, crouched down at my side, his elfish face, so clever and mischievous, serious but amused. His emerald eyes, accented by high cheekbones, twinkled as a smile slid over his thin, cunning face, sun-worn and pleased. "Strange-looking things, aren't they?"

"And fools," I snorted. "Trying to invade our home! I hope the werewolves get them." It was a pleasant thought. "Should we alert the Lupines?"

"I don't think so," he sighed, watching one, whom I assume was female from the length of yellow hair, stumble and be helped to her feet by one of the brethren. "They'll never make it up to the kingdom of Oakrune at the very top. They're only four in number, and they smell of sweat and impurity from the journey. We'll know if they come too close, and send something to scare them away if it comes to that."

"Look at the filthy things," I added, flicking my tail and pointing my pallid arm in their direction. "That one has fur growing on his face!"

Paris rubbed him smooth chin, brushing a lock of his straight, coffee- colored hair back into the little golden ring the held it in a ponytail as he pondered them. While the males of my people have beards, no elf or two- legged creature I'd met owned one. Paris gave a scrupulous grin then, and decreed, "My older half-brother Ahern says they all live together in a giant jungle of metal and glass, and that they eat cow- and horseflesh."

"That's vile!" I snarled, stamping my ebony hoof. "Don't just say those things to scare me because I'm a centaur! You should know better than that! They don't eat horseflesh."

"Some of them do," he nodded sagely at the group, his pointed ears making him look wise as the Elders. "See the thing that big, yellow-haired one has? That's for tripping the horses so that his brood can descend upon them."

There was a long metal rod strapped to one man's back, glinting in the evening sun as it set in the west, painting the sky a fiery hue. It was black, circular and about the width of my finger at one end, but the other was wider and took up a hand span, where the words "Winchester" were written. There was also a small claw poking from it right at the center, with fingerprints smeared in red around it. Small metal pellets hung in a bag by its side.

"I don't believe you." I sniffed, flipping a wing of blond hair behind my bare shoulder. "Now come; I don't want to watch these stupid animals any more, and the dinner bell will toll soon."

Paris leapt up onto my back with a sigh, longing to watch those brutes for a while more as they began to unload their packs and make camp for the night, one of them lighting small sticks ablaze for a fire.

But I would have none of it, and turned and made for home.

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[That was short. More now.]