Wardens of the Green
The hunter waits in the boughs, clad only in leaves and shadow. She breathes as the wind shifts, and listens.
Her quarry's fear grows thicker than the canopy. A glance, a turn, and it breaks cover. Her eyes open.
Footsteps, muffled as owl's wings, beat softly through the Green. Any other would lose the quarry to the vineswept earth, yet the hunter does not waver.
Over and through the forest goes the silent chase. Briefly, the hunter alights upon a branch. A quick pull from her waterskin and she is off once more.
A stream bubbles through the wood and the quarry stops to drink. Claw leaves scabbard, slick and shining. Teeth bare with anticipation. She leaps.
A sirocco of splashes. Claw meets neck. The quarry relents. A moment more would see crimson intrude upon the stream's mirth. She licks her lips.
"Not this one."
At the stream's edge stands a simple Mer. In his silhouette stands every woodsman, hunter, and guide; every jaqspur, every treethane and spinner. Every child and every elder stand with him, yet he stands alone.
Her hunter's gaze meets his. She sees herself beside him, too. She blushes, and so does he. "My Silvenar," she says at last. "My Green Lady," he responds in turn. She lowers her claw and turns to the quarry.
"In stalking these woods, in keeping them free of terrors, I lose myself to the Green." She helps the quarry to its feet.
"But I will always bring her back," says the Silvenar. "You have nothing to fear from us, child of the forest. So long as there is the Green, we walk where you walk."
The Silvenar vanishes among vines. The Green Lady leaps for the boughs. She watches the Bosmer trudge out of the stream and continue through the forest.
But she smiles, for the Bosmer is no longer afraid.