By Tooth And Claw Dragons

I Defy You!

The legend of the First Kirin, and the deadly last hunt.

'I defy you.' Most every demon or hellwolf who's hunted a kirin has heard the phrase uttered, whether a shout of defiance during a vigorous chase, or a teasing call cast upon the wind as their quarry slips away. They do, after all. Any kirin worth hunting will be a challenge to catch, and they actively defy all who would hunt them, even when facing death.

There were none so defiant as the first kirin, and none so zealously hunted, for it had become a matter of pride for all demons, from every kingdom, to be the one to claim the silver antler adorning the father of all kirins. But try as they might, all the hunters returned home with were tales of how they had come close, and how next time they'd succeed.

Centuries passed, and still none had managed to emerge victorious from the hunt. Still the greatest kirin remained defiant, even taunting his hunters by letting himself be spotted by sentries guarding the walls of the very fortresses of the Demon Lords at times, or by leading a group of hunters into rival territory where they got ambushed.

After many hundreds of years of failed hunts, Famine's Lord determined to finally claim the silver antler once and for all. He gathered his entire kingdom's hunters together for a great hunt. It was a sight never before seen on Kurai, and never seen since. It is said the lords of the other three kingdoms swore to do nothing to hinder the hunt, so grand was it.

Whether true or not, Famine's Lord pursued the great kirin all across Kurai, day after day, and all the while their quarry evaded the hunters. Indeed, the hunters themselves began to dwindle in numbers as some fell prey to injury, or exhaustion. Or blundered so badly that their Lord sent them away. But still the hunt continued, and the remaining hunters drew ever closer to their quarry.

The last leg of the great hunt began to draw to a close when the demons and hellwolves worked to surround the kirin, and prevent him from slipping away. Nobody is quite certain exactly where the hunt finally ended, save for that it was somewhere in Famine territory, within the Bloodsoul Range. But we do know that at long last the hunters persevered despite every trick and trap the kirin pulled, and eventually the cornered kirin turned to face the Famine Lord, who ordered the hunters not to strike the kirin.

It was not an easy fight. Though it was a lord against a kirin, this was the first and greatest of his kind, more defiant than ever as he fought for his life. Around the two, the hunters stood watching, mesmerized, as the two fought, trading feints and parries, for though the Lord was the more powerful of the two, the venom of a kirin's horn is not to be taken lightly.

But then, long after both had bloodied the other with minor wounds, it seemed the Lord had seized a hard-won victory when the kirin was driven to his knees by a grievous wound, though even then, when his life was about to end, he met the Lord's gaze, and announced so clearly that all could hear 'I defy you", and lifted his head as high as he was able as he awaited his fate.

However, just as the Lord of Famine prepared to strike the deathblow, the kirin revealed it had been a ruse, an illusion of grievous injury. The blow had not been so deep, not so mortal, as had been believed, and the kirin lunged forward, piercing the Lord's chest with his gleaming antler and slipping away in the ensuing chaos.

However, he didn't get far before collapsing, for his wounds were still great. The hunters, forced by their lord's command, were unable to strike the wounded kirin, and indeed, were more focused on treating their Lord's wound. They set up an encampment, and while they waited for their Lord to recover, or pass on and leave Lordship to another, a stranger approached their camp.

A tall, winged figure in sorcerous robes strode past the awed sentries, and made his way to where the kirin lay, still holding tight to life, though unable to do more than raise his head as the robed figure approached. Stories from the hunters speak of how the kirin seemed to smile, and weakly declare 'I defy you' before lowering his head and finally breathing his last.

The robed figure then lifted the kirin's body into his arms, and walked away, heading deeper into the mountains, and disappeared from sight. Word spread that the first and greatest kirin was no more, and that the silver antler would be ever unclaimed, though the name of the Famine Lord who'd come so close to claiming that grand prize is something that has long since been forgotten.

There are wild tales that the winged one was Zailen himself, and that he carried the kirin away to be laid to rest in some hidden cave deep within the Bloodsoul Range. The tales say that somewhere, in a secret, hidden tomb of stone, the bones of the first kirin lie undisturbed, and that a silver antler still glitters in the dark.

Written/Told by: Ni'Ming, dragon scholar of Proudscale Peak
Contributed by: Fyfergrund

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