Meara, her hackles raised, glared at Vakarr. "What in Sazhen' did you call me?"
"Meara, please." Per'dra laid a quick hand on the barmaid's forearm before either she or the warrior could carry out their threats against one another. "Hush!" Only out of respect for her friend, Meara fell silent and took her place at the rear of the group. However, she was still seething with resentment. One day, she thought venomously, I'm going to teach you a lesson, helmeted brute! Still, she kept her feelings to herself for the continued safety of all concerned. Per'dra had backed down from a fight. She could, too.
The Dark Elven archer to whom Vakarr had spoken did not. Staring through narrowed eyelids at the "helmeted brute" who had requested treatment for Per'dra, he turned, hocked and spat, letting the glob of mucus fall to the dying forest floor below. Hardly any sunlight ever penetrated the canopy of the Forest of Trepidation, and this could be seen clearly. So could his frown.
"Do you think to extort me into silence?" sneered the archer. "You shall not. By the by, are you a coward who only wears a helmet that opaque because you're too afraid to show your face?"[/I] A hint of a smirk played at the corner of his lips. "Nevertheless, if the Spy and our True daughter prove themselves to be correct, you're going to need all the help you can get against those who pursue you." He slid his hands into the trees, retrieving a long vine net. Lowering himself to the ground, he strode toward Per'dra.
"Foot." The archer said this without so much as a "greetings" or "hail", because such salutations were beneath him. Per'dra extended her wounded appendage, and the Dark Elf took two vials and a bandage from out of his ebony leather-tunic pocket. Removing her boot and unceremoniously tossing it aside, he sighed: "Dur'natha. I'm going to have to pierce the skin in order to stop the poison from spreading." Tipping another one of his arrows with green liquid from one of the vials he carried, he gently stabbed it into the wound. The pain was agonizing for a moment, but then quickly vanished.
"Th--thank you," Per'dra replied, suddenly feeling like her tongue was too big for her mouth. Was it only the pain, or had the venom not been counteracted quickly enough. "I thank you mightily as well, Vakarr. A question..." She trailed off. "Why did I not feel any immediate effects from the poison in the trap?"
"Dur'natha acts slowly," replied the archer, "as do its ingredients. Such things are sacred knowledge among our people, which you yourself will never be privy to receive. One thing I can tell you: you would have convulsed within three days without any treatment. Be grateful I have had enough compassion not to let you die, weak one." He straightened up and stared at Vakarr.
"As for you: I am skilled with the blade as well as the bow." Expressionless, he removed the gauntlet from his right hand and thrust it against the warrior's helmet. "I challenge you to a duel. If you win, not only shall I pay homage and bow the knee to you, but I'll convince Un'adrubin to let you all into our city. If not..." His white teeth glinted. "You shall kneel before me as the loser, and also as my slave. Are we agreed?" The archer fingered the hilts of his swords.