Well, now that I've lost pretty much all of my reviewersÉ here's the next part in the story. FINALLY. Sry it took so long, I sorta lost inspiration, then I read TheCrystalMaiden's rewrite of Luna Vis (you should definitely check it out, it's very good!) and decided to continue my story. Hope ya'll enjoy!

Chapter 2

The Woods

Lae had no idea what she was doing.

That didn't stop her though, she was used to winging it. And so she slipped through the shadows of the eerily silent town, making sure not to alarm any dogs or people to her presence. Most were still at the summer festival, so she didn't have a lot to worry about, but there were a few who were either too old or too young to take part.

That was the main reason why she was dressed in her darkest clothing - namely a pair of hand sewn black pants and a dark blue top. Over her shoulder was slung a small bag of provisions, just in case she wound up spending longer in the woods than she expected. Lady, let's hope not. . . I know the legend it probably a bit blown out of proportions, but there's a thread of truth behind every tale.

It was this thread of truth that Lae feared.

And yet Reeve was out there somewhere, lost and alone. This one thought was like a beacon of light, a fire that burned inside her and forced her legs to move as she leapt over the small fence separating North from the surrounding fields. And across the fields - Howling Woods. The trees were little more than a dark outline against the starry night sky, yet still they managed to appear mysterious and foreboding, almost as though they were watching her small figure scurry across the tall grass. Lae could feel anxiety coiled in her stomach like a jack-in-the-box waiting to spring loose, but her nerve didn't fail her. I need to find Reeve. If he dies. . . I'll never forgive myself.

Halfway across the field, Lae stopped and dropped into a crouch, then turned back to look at her town. Why did she feel like this would be the last time she saw it in a long while? It was an eerie sensation, much like taking one last look at a house before you moved out. Lae swallowed. It's just my imagination, I have nothing to worry about at all. Nothing, I'll just pop into the woods, get Reeve, and pop back out again.

Much easier said than done.

Her eyes returned to the town. Most of the buildings were dark except for a few lights glowing from upper story windows. The festivities were on the other side of North, yet Lae could see the glow of the lanterns cast up into the night sky like some giant bon fire. She shuddered at the thought.

Then a dark speck caught her attention, darting over the grass and stumbling every once in a while, more or less heading in her direction. Lae frowned - it was obviously a person, yet who in their right mind would be out here at night? Other than me, that is. So she sat in the tall grass, keeping her presence hidden until the small figure was almost right next to her. Then, with a muffled yell, she leapt and tackled the person to the ground.

Of course, the smart thing to do would've been to let them continue on their way, but for some reason Lae had to know who it was. Maybe it's Reeve and this whole thing is just some sick joke. . . . For reasons unknown, the thought almost left her disappointed.

Even as it passed through her mind, Lae knew this wasn't so. Reeve was much too strong to be tackled so easily to the ground, and the person crumpled beneath her was far too small and delicate in stature. Lae felt dread rise in her throat, for the body was rather familiar. Dear Lady, don't do this to me. . . no, it can't be, life isn't that cruel!

But it was.

"Please don't hurt me!" Christina sobbed. "I didn't mean to disturb you, I really didn't! If you want my money, I don't have any, please. . . I only want to go to the woods!"

Lae sat up and pushed off of the girl, rolling her eyes in exasperation. I can't believe this. "Christina, get up and stop whining," she ordered.

The girl abruptly cut off her sobs and sat up in the dry grass. Lae couldn't make out her face in the shadows, but the light from the town glinted off of her blue eyes. Much to her surprise, they were alight in anger. "Why the hell did you do that, Lae? You scared me half to death!" Those eyes narrowed. "And just what are you doing out here, anyway?"

Lae took in the girl's similar dark clothing, though she obviously hadn't thought to bring provisions. A small smirk twisted on her own lips, and Lae was happy it was too dark to see. "I could ask you the same thing," she muttered. "But it's obvious you're going after Reeve." Huh, to think the shrimp has the courage.

"Well. . ." Christina said slowly, and Lae knew she was blushing. "Well, I love him."

Lae rolled her eyes again. Love, at her age? They were both seventeen, and Lae had a nagging suspicion that love didn't really exist. Personally, she didn't think someone as shallow as Christina knew how to think beyond anything but good looks.

"You're going to the woods too, aren't you?" Christina suddenly asked. "Oh this is just marvelous, now we won't be alone!"

Frankly, Lae had always been a loner, so for her having company would only be more distracting. They'd probably attract more attention traveling as a pair, and who needed that? Especially when I have no idea just what will be attracted.

But there was nothing else for it - by the glint in the girl's eyes, Lae figured she couldn't talk her into going back, and sitting out here in the warm darkness wasn't helping anyone. "Yeah, marvelous," she muttered under herbreath. "Well, we might as well get going, no sense in hanging around."

"Oh, right, let's go!" Christina jumped to her feet in an optimistic way and Lae wondered if she had actually realized that she was going into Howling Woods. Wasn't the chit at least a little intimidated?

Shaking her head slightly, Lae moved to her feet and shouldered her pack. Then the two were moving swiftly through the grass to the foresaken forest.

Who knew what lay beyond its dark borders.

It was so dark under the trees that at first Lae could see nothing, but unbeknownst to her, her light brown eyes had turned lavender due to the moonlight, fractionally improving her vision. Because of this, she thought it appeared to be just like any other forest, with moonlight shadows, large trees, and whispering wind.

Except it wasn't.

Although there was the murmur of wind, there wasn't even the lightest breeze - there were shadows cast by the trees, but some of them didn't stay in the same place like they should. Sure, Lae never actually saw one of the patches of black move, but every once in a while she'd catch something shift out of the corner of her eye.

Twice now she had turned her head, thinking she'd seen something, but both times the normal forest terrain met her gaze. Of course, she got the feeling that the scenery was slightly different from when she'd first looked in that direction, but she could never pin point any one exact thing that had changed. It was eerie, creepy, and made Lae's whole body tingle with strange energy.

Then there was the atmosphere of Howling Woods itself, a sense that here there were secrets so dark they weren't meant to see the light of day. Even Christina, who looked at the world through a window the size of a pin hole, picked up on the foreboding air of the forest. She didn't make a sound from where she trudged to Lae's right.

Somehow Lae had stumbled across a path, as she knew she would, and they were following it. For some reason the entire process felt familiar, as though she had been here before a long time ago, walked this very ground, breathed this very air. . . but I don't think I've visited this place in my visions. Sweet Lady, why do I feel like I'm waiting for something?

It was true, her entire body was expectantly tense.

Lae rubbed the back of her neck every few minutes of walking, feeling like something was staring at her. She didn't look around, and she knew Christina couldn't feel it, just like Christina didn't see the visions, and didn't notice the subtle shifting in the dark shadows. The whole thing worried Lae, how am I going to find Reeve in all of this?

For some reason, the thought left her oddly calm. I'll find him, she was unreasonably sure. He'll be here somewhere.

"I can't see anything at all," Christina's voice broke the solemn silence of the trees - Lae flinched, she felt as though she had just commited a taboo. "This place is so dark. . . look, I can't even see my own hand!"

Lae glanced over to where Christina was waving her hand stupidly in front of her face. Lae could see the limb just fine, along with the rest of the girl, so didn't comment. Idiot, she thought. They proceeded for another time in silence, then Christina stumbled across a branch lying in the path. A tiny whimper escaped her lips.

"I don't like this, Lae," she finally whispered. "It's. . . it's scary in here, I keep hearing things. Can we please go back? Reeve was probably just playing some joke. . . ."

Lae didn't even look at the girl - she, too, had began hearing slight rustling in the bushes, and the feeling of eyes on the back of her neck had grown stronger. Abruptly her mind remembered the vision, with those pale silvery blue eyes staring at her so intensely. What does it all mean?

"Lae?" Christina pressed.

"No," Lae whispered softly, trying to hear above the own beating of her heart. "No, we can't go back. . . Reeve is out here, that was no joke."

"Well then how are we going to find him?" Chrstina hissed. Lae was about to bite back with a cutting comment, tired of all the stupid questions, when suddenly the woods opened before them. The path was no longer beneath their feet - now they stood at the borders of a large clearing, littered with fallen leaves and a few sparse bushes. Lae looked around in mild surprise, then moved into the open space. The gloomy darkness of the trees was almost enchanting in a sick, twisted way.

Abruptly Christina passed her, wandering out into the open space with her eyes wide in shock. "Lae," she said uneasily. "I feel. . . strange. This place is beautiful, isn't it?"

Lae, who had opened her mouth to agree, was also staring around in wonder and the dark, towering trees and their emerald depths. Then suddenly she blinked. Wait, I thought Christina couldn't see anything.

Her blood ran cold.

"Christina," she said quietly, her heart once again pounding. She could feel something suspiciously like tears in her eyes.

"Sh," Christine hushed her, her voice oddly pitched. "Do you hear that? I think it's music."

Indeed Lae could hear music, teasing the edges of her ear like a feather, making a warm feeling swamp her stomach. This isn't natural, it's not normal. . . oh Lady, oh sweet Lady, what have I done? Where are we?

"Christina," she said hoarsely. "We need to go. Now."

"Don't be ridiculous, Lae, it's beautiful-"

"Christina!" Abruptly Lae grabbed the girl and threw her down in the brush, covering her mouth with her hand and holding her still with the other. "Don't move," she whispered so softly it was barely audible. "Don't make a sound."

The girl was shaking against her, trembling, but Lae ignored her as she gazed intently at the corner of the clearing where she had seen something move. This was not a normal clearing, this entire forest was unnatural, and now. . . now they might just pay for trespassing.

Then something appeared.

The music was still flowing, but now it was forgotten to Lae's mind at the eerie sight before her eyes. A disembodied light floated in the air on the other side of the space, bobbing up and down slightly in the air as it wove slowly between the trees. The light was white, almost like a lost star that couldn't find its way back to the night sky. There was an odd pounding, a dull percussion against her ears, and it took Lae a moment to realize it was her own heart. Her lungs wouldn't work right, she couldn't breathe for terror constricted her chest. Not nervousness, not concern, but fear, gut wrenching terror. This thing, this light, should not exist.

Suddenly she didn't want to be in the woods anymore, suddenly she didn't want anything but to be safely at home in bed. She could feel Christina's muffled sobs against her hand, and Lae knew she was fear that drew the tears from her eyes. Lae's own were feeling strangely wet, strangely deperate. The music was still haunting and lulling, but it was growing more dim, and the light larger. Closer. It was looking for them.

"Christina," she said quietly, her voice barely a breath of wind. The eyes that had been staring at the back of her neck seemed to be smiling at her now, a grim smile, an evil, hungry smile. . . .

"On the count of three, we're going to get up and run," she whispered. "Follow me." I don't know where, just away from here. This is too dangerous Ð Lady, Reeve, where are you?

"One," Lae whispered, and Christina whimpered. "Two," the light began bobbing furiosly across from them, now contracting and expanding. "Three!"

Lae shot from the ground, Christina's hand firmly in her grasp, and dragged the sobbing girl in the direction she knew the path was. They'd get on the path, and follow it out of the woods, back to the town, discover some other way to rescue Reeve. This entire idea was stupid, dear Lady save us!

Abruptly Lae stopped.

Before her, where the path should have been heading off into the underbrush of the denser woods, there was nothing - just nothing. Stunned, she watched as the very dirt trail she was standing on seemed to disappear, so completely that it might never had been there.

No! They had been tricked!

Lae whirled, had the light seen them? Her eyes searched the darkness between the trees desperately, her hand still firmly clasped to Christina's, but the light was gone. Vanished. She should have been relieved, but for some reason this only made the tiny hairs rise on her arms. Only made her blood turn to ice. Dimly she could feel something stirring, something moving just outside her senses - waiting to pounce.

"Lae," Christina's voice was shaking. "I can feel something. . ."

Then Lae heard the sound of something rustling in the bushes, rattling the tree branches overhead. "Run!" She shouted into the dead silence, and without pausing to think she dragged Christina behind her and took off sprinting so fast that she didn't even know where she was going, nor did she care. She ran away from where the trail had been, feeling the dread inside of her as she bounded away on her long legs. Christina couldn't keep up with her, despite the frantic adrenaline pumping through both of their veins, but Lae continued to drag her along. The girl might be annoying, but Lae would not leave her behind.

Lae didn't watch where they were going, she was too intent on the sounds of pursuit from behind them. The rattling of the trees, the rustling in the bushes a few yards back all convinced her that they hadn't lost whatever it was after them. Then a dull chattering seemed to reach the edges of her hearing, mocking her, causing her heart to slam in her chest like a thing of lead. Christina seemed to be in the middle of the tramatic breakdown so couldn't hear the murmurs, couldn't sense the way the trees seemed to loom up out of nowhere as though trying to get in their way. Maybe this is my imagination, maybe this entire thing is just some bad dream!

She prayed she's wake up soon, but knew it wouldn't happen.

The two loped down slight declines and leapt small hills, their feet throwing up leaves in their wake. Lae could already feel herself tiring, and that fact scared her so bad that her legs moved on their own despite her mind's weariness. Too much fear, there was too much terror in the air, too much frantic energy. She was almost sick with it.

Then, abruptly, light flashed before Lae's eyes. For a second she didn't see the forest around them, but instead caught a glimpse of a white house, a large wall surrounding it, protecting it from the evil woods. This way, some inner voice whispered.

Then her vision slammed back to the presence, affecting Lae with a horrible sense of vertigo that caused her to stumble forward, her legs tripping over one another. With a small scream she fell-

And hit something.

Wham! She landed on her butt hard, her head whirling, Christina sobbing and shreaking at her side as she too plummeted into the leaves. Lae could feel her heart slamming against her ribs as she looked up, frozen in horror, her breaths ripping from her lungs. The sight she saw above her, however, made her lungs seize.

It was human shaped, but other than that all she could make out was a long, overshadowing cloak that obscured the figure. A tall figure, towering, still as stone and so dark it blended almost perfectly with the shadows around it. And Lae stared up at the creature, into that dark hood, and could feel the eyes staring back at her. Darkness. It was as though she was staring into the face of death.

"Dear Lady, dear Lady, we're going to die!" Christina whimpered from her position next to her.

Lae couldn't respond, she was too busy trapped by the darkness of that hood. Then abruptly there was a painful flash, and she saw them, saw the glistening silvery blue eyes looking at her. A second later her vision was once again focused on the dark sentinel. The eyes. . . what does it mean?

Slowly, oh so slowly, the figure moved. Lae watched as one cloaked arm stretched out, and a gloved hand that was definitely humanoid pointed to her right. There was a silence deeper than the core of the night.

"That way."

The voice seemed to echo inside of her mind, but Lae didn't waste any time focusing on it. Almost as though her body was working on its own, she lept to her feet and hauled Christina after her, and the two were pelting through the forest again. What just happened? Lae's mind whirled, but once again she could hear the rushing noises from behind them. At least now she had a destination, though - the house, she had to reach the house, it was their only chance of survival.

"To your right on three," Lae gasped, clutching her friends hand tight. The beast behind them was gaining. "Ready? One, two. . . three!"

The two of them flung themselves in the new direction, tumbled down a sudden, unforeseen steep hill, and landed at the bottom with several scratches and bruises. Then they were running again, the ground beneath them now covered with a thick carpet of moldy, decaying leaves with oak, elm, and maple trees placed even distances apart, as though they had decided themselves where to sprout. Moss and mold flew up behind them as the sounds of pursuit continued, though this time it wasn't so certain. The two ran faster, the memory of the dark figure now as dim as a dream. Lae could feel her resources diminishing even as she forced herself to continue, barely noticing that the darkness around them had grown lighter. Dawn was approaching.

Then suddenly, like the light at the end of the tunnel, Lae spotted what might have been a white wall ahead of them. Despite herself she felt hope burst in her chest, though the haven was still a good quarter of a mile away. Unwittingly they redoubled their speed, Lae feeling as if her lungs and heart would burst, and the wall grew closer with painful slowness. The structure itself had to be no less then fifty feet across, and at its center they could just barely make out a wroute iron gate topped with lethal spikes.

Right when it seemed Lae would relax, she found herself practically on top of the wall. Filled with hysterical fear, Lae threw herself at the gates when she was close enough only to have them clang together noisily but not give way. A howl went up from behind them, a blood chilling howl of such dreadful triumph that both girls flew at the gate as one and immediately started climbing, scaling the black, iron bars in their desperate need.

Lae was the first to reach the top and she tried to lever herself over the sharp, threatening spikes but one caught on her pants as she threw herself over, renting a loud tear down the side of one leg. She hit the ground on the other side hard, panting and feeling like her chest would burst open. Laying on her back all she could do was be still and stare at the sky above her as it slowly lightened. A moment later Christina hit the ground next to her in her own similarly sprawled position, panting, gasping, and still crying. The two girls stared up at the lightening sky as the wind moved through the trees. The relief was mutual, and Lae felt almost sick with it from her close shave with whatever the creature had been.

Suddenly something rammed against the bars so hard that it sent them banging inward, only to snap noisily back into place. Lae sat up like a startled hare with a small shriek, staring in wide eyed fear at the black shadow of what vaguely resembled a wolf or some great cat. Then the thing seemes to become insubstantial, to shift, and abruptly it was the shape of what might have been a man on the other side of the gate. Lae's mouth fell open Ð and the beast vanished.

I'm going to throw up.

Feeling as if she would have a heart attack, Lae turned slowly to meet Christina's terrified gaze. The girl's skin was unnaturally white, but with a trace of humor she figured that her own was too, and she gave Christina a shaky smile. She was answered by a similar look. Then abruptly the girl's eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed on the ground.

"Oh!" Lae exclaimed and scrambled over to the girl. Sick fear twisted in her gut - what if Christina was injured? What if she was dead or maybe her heart burst or. . . .

No, she had fainted.

Lae sat back on her knees from where she was now crouched at her companion's side. Stupid girl, just like her to faint in a situation like this! Now what am I suppose to do with her?

Which brought about another troubling question. Just where am I, anyway?

"Hey!" a voice suddenly called out from behind her, "what are you doing, you trespassers?"

Lae gave a start and turned around in fear. "Dear Lady!" She murmured at the sight that met her eyes - and passed out.

I'll try to update more regularly from now on. Sry everyone!

Review and tell me what you think! =) Cause and effect make the world go round!