Rain drizzled endlessly, showering everything with small droplets. Mud gushed into pond sized puddles of choppy black. The night's velvety color had been sputtered into a murky gray from the storm's relentless assault.

Lightning blazed across the sky in jagged streaks. Old pine and oak trees were rent helpless as savage winds tore at them. Young saplings were wrenched from the ground, mud sliding into the divets left by them. A lone rider challenged the elements. Wind battered the horse and rider aimlessly, but they did not slow. A cloak of starved black lashed out behind the rider, fastened to her neck. Drenched chestnut hair whipped mercilessly at the woman's face. A heart twisting, half-growled howl tore from the shadowed forest around her. More howls joined the cajoling first one.

The woman turned her face around, keeping her white knuckled hands severly tightened around the horse's mane. Blood pounded in her ears as her heart jumped in her throat. The midnight black destrier was lathered with sweat, it's mouth hanging open. A pale tongue lapped at the sweated mouth as it lolled, dehydrated. Her emerald eyes widened with fear as they looked upon her pursuers.

It was, at first, a shapeless blur of pale grey. As she peered closer, it first seemed to be a wolf, but it was, at most, three times as large as any wolf she'd ever seen. It was mammothly large. Bigger than even a bear, with corse needle-like fur. Barbed wire was wrought around it's neck, as if it was a collar. Strips of dark leather came from the mass, ending in a tightened loop. The rider that adorned it's back was wrapped in oily clothes of brown, it's face was hidden in shadows.

Her head whipped back and stared through glassy, wet eyes. The wind tore relentlessly at her face as she turned. She ducked her head between the horse's shoulder blades, praying that the destrier outrun these beasts. Tears spilled ceaselessly down her cheeks, sweeping away as the wind tore at them. Her body had gone numb from the freezing drifts of rain, but she felt the thump of a curved piece of wood as it nudged her face. Peering at the object in swift glances, she realised what it was.

Her elven bow, made with extreme care and years worth of craftsmanship, was strapped in a buckskin sheath. Elvish engravings were wrought into the bow. A quiver full of arrows tipped with swan feathers banged helplessly agianst the horse. Retrieving her bow and three arrows, she turned again. With extreme skill, she loosed an arrow. It sped like lightning and struck a beast through it's heart. A howled squeal erupted from the creature as it toppled over and was left in shadows as her destrier kept going. Her expressionless face now took a new glow as she released the other two arrows in rapid succession. All of them hit their marks. All of them except one that struck the blackened abyss of a rider's oily cloth. Any normal being would have been brought down instantly by that shot that would have burrowed deep into their skull.

The rider didn't seem to notice the swan feathered arrow until it's armored fingers curved around it sickeningly and forcefully jerked it out. The cloth had come away with it, revealing a damp-looking appearance of a sooty face. Those eyes gripped her heart and awakened her fears. Lidless, cold black eyes stared back at her resembling hardened stones of acrid coal. Pugnant belches of black smoke coiled around the face, hiding the rest of it from her sight. The creature broke into a wrenching scream that forced her to sheild her ears from it. It made no attempt to hide it's face from her wandering eyes.

Other screams rent out as more of them seemed to surround a back exit, cutting it off from her, should she choose to turn tail and flee.