Daylight...despicable, thought the dark elf as he crouched in his treetop lookout high above the swamp. He could see rays of sunshine breaking through the canopy, only to illuminate dull mud and rampant vines. The plan was to make sure the coast was clear before moving on at twilight to join the main colony of the Shadow Elves. The problem is that plans have a tendency to fall apart. The elf was hoping this wouldn't be one of those times. He had sent another ahead in order to alert the homeland of their return, but the bats hadn't reported back of successful contact. Time to change the plan.

Before the elf could move, however, movement in the forest caught his eye. It wasn't movement in the vines, it was the vines that were moving. Suddenly, a large cloaked figure burst through the brush, with a full squad of beasts in tow. The orc locked eyes with the elf. They knew we were here all along, mused the elf, and dropped to the ground, cover blown. Emerging from the very shadows of the swamp were his own crew, ready to pounce. For a moment, complete silence engulfed the wetlands. Only a moment.

As one of those shadows crept across the edge of the field of battle, the dark elf fortified his position behind a summoning wall. A tusked beast, mismatched from the orcs, snarled as an arrow found its mark, only to see the archer disappear into darkness before its eyes. The hooded orc stepped ahead and shot a bolt of energy at a panther taking human-form, but the monster withstood the blow and slashed out in retaliation. After calling more manthers to war, the tusked beast was quickly surrounded, howling as it was consumed by shadow and seen no more.

The performance of the orc's troops was weak, and he was not pleased. As he looked into his stone, vines burst forth from the chest of his nearby swordsmen and vermin and suffocated them to form their own tomb. The orc took cover in these newly formed mounds of growth, blasting apart a wounded cat. Vines ensnared the body before it hit the ground.

A holy man stepped from the elvish wall, chanting and moaning, calling forth teachings from past leaders. A bleeding black cat joined in, forming a chorus that filled the air with electricity. The panther bolted, running quicker than ever in its full animal form, away from the orc leader towards a vine entanglement that used to be a native rat. The vine-covered bones were shredded by the massive paws of the beast, leaving only mulch.

The vines writhed in anger, and lashed out at nearby troops, lacerating a manther who got too close. Before the cat could lick its wounds, the hooded orc struck a fatal blow, and vines sprung at the foot of the corpse, nourished by the warm blood pooling at its roots. An orc lieutenant with a missing tusk materialized from the wall, empowered by the climbing plants surrounding him. With his spear he ran the holy man clean through, the vines steadying his strike.

The wounded puman pushed through the growth and pounced on the hooded orc from behind. The cat’s shadow grew large and covered both fighters in blackness, snaring the leader from pursuing larger prey. Within the darkness, blows were exchanged. The shadow withdrew and the orc stood with fresh wounds and new cat-shaped vine cover behind.

A hush covered the swamp. The cloaked orc looked into his stone and called forth a mighty warrior, one who was known across the land for his brutality, cunning, and prowess on the battlefield. No...not him! cursed the elf as he saw the fighter appear in the middle of the fight. Prong had arrived. The frog was hard to pick out amidst the vines, but after impaling a stalking manther with no effort at all, no one doubted his power.

The dark elf decided that now was the time to strike. After moving from behind his only summoning wall, the elf ran across the side of the clearing,  placing him close enough to burn the tooth-poor orc.  Enraged,  the orc left the supportive presence of the vines to slash the elf, returning the wound. Black blood mixed with muddy water.

Meanwhile, a gigantic tortoise lumbered onto the scene,  blinking slowly and taking in its surroundings. Prong seemed to brighten at his friend's arrival,  and shoulder-to-ankle,  they began dismantling the lone elf wall. With the wall surrounded, other reinforcements would fail to appear,  the summoning magic disrupted by enemy presence.  Or that's what the swamp-dwellers thought...

The elf's shadow grew and split, forming a new archer far away from the life giving wall.  With fresh energy, the bowman ran towards a rat that had been inching its way toward the elf wall.  But instead of turning the vermin into a pincushion, the archer jumped on the rat's shoulders and leaped towards the hooded orc. Unfortunately,  too much speed caused the arrow to miss it's mark,  and the archer disappeared into the darkening sky.

The white-haired elf raised his dark stone and a void surrounded the elf and the one-toothed orc was engulfed. No light could penetrate the darkness, as if the blackness of space occupied this point the swamp. As the void dissipated, a now-toothless skull dropped to the ground, followed by a ribcage, femur, and various other bones. The elf’s old wounds were gone, replaced by a thirst for more blood as he stood alone.

The tortoise and frog spread out, making sure to destroy the wall in the process. Prong took cover in fresh vines sprouted from rat fertilizer. As the elf targeted the amphibian, the magic was deflected into the surrounding vines. Seeing an opening, the frog sprung forward to face the dark one. Suddenly, a howling swamp creature joined in on the fight to strike the elf, leaving him inches from death. At this, the elf laughed, spitting blood at the monsters.

The void returned and engulfed all those that surrounded the white-haired elf. "NO!", cried the tortoise as he saw his best friend alive for the last time. The beast was nowhere to be found and a summoning wall now towered above the fighters, unceremoniously marking the tomb of the frog.

Both armies grew tired, questioning the benefits of winning such bloody skirmish, especially the swamp rats, who just wanted to hide after fighting such terrible foes; the man-child with its panda mount appearing and disappearing at will, and the speedy elf woman, who moved so fast she appeared to move through others and cut their very souls. The end was drawing close. Both summoners sensed this and moved quickly to strike first. The elf split his shadow once more to bring forth a puman to clear the field and get a clear shot at the hooded orc. The orc had drawn power from the entire swamp and the bodies of fallen soldiers, both friend and enemy. As their magic met in the middle of the wetlands, the other fighters stopped fighting, closed their eyes, and waited for sweet release.