"Must you be so noisy? Some of us are trying to sleep at this ungodly hour!" A harsh voice grumbled out.

Leora's scream had ceased, but she was still shaking and her eyes widened as the person spoke. Could it even be called a person? It was only a head. Kylan wrapped an arm around Leora, trying to comfort her as he grimaced at the talking head on its bloody wooden pike. Leora turned to him with obvious fear and revulsion in her eyes.

"Where… what…" She started, but she couldn't seem to find the right question.

As if guessing what she wanted to ask the head spoke up, "This is where all the severed heads end up after the Red Queen decapitates them. Oh, but don't think just because we're only heads that we don't need sleep. We do you know. So could you keep the volume down?"

Panic and disgust were very quickly over taking Leora as she grabbed Kylan's forearm, her nails digging into his skin painfully. "Leora, please let go of my arm." He grunted. She looked down and then released him as if her hand burned.

"Sorry." She mumbled, looking back up at him apologetically. "This is just… horrendous. How could she do something like this? It's a whole forest!" She motioned around to where pikes topped with heads surrounded them as far as the eye could see. Granted it was dark so one couldn't see far, but it was obvious the forest was massive just because of how long they ran in it before stopping if nothing else.

"Honestly! Could you be any noisier, girl?" Snapped a woman's head to Leora's right. Leora bit her lip and looked back at Kylan in distress.

Kylan had no idea what to say to make her feel better. The Red Queen was mental and she did a lot of horrible things. Wonder was a mess and there was no denying it. Surely stating those facts would only make Leora more anxious. Instead, Kylan hugged her to him and sighed. "Just calm down, ok? You'll anger the heads if you don't shut up." He whispered and forced a very fake chuckle out. "I don't know how big this place is, but it's certainly big enough that we won't be able to get out any time soon. Try to relax and get some rest."

"Rest? Here? In a forest of talking severed heads? Are you insane, Kylan?" She had lowered her voice, but the stress was evident in it. She tried to pull away from his embrace, but he kept his arms tightly about her which successfully buried her head in his chest. She huffed, but gave up the struggle. It was probably best that she couldn't see anything anyway. She might just vomit otherwise.

"Just try. You'll be useless if you're tired later." He rested his chin on top of her head and let his gaze flicker around him.

The heads had seemingly gone back to sleep, but that didn't make the sight any less gruesome. Even in the dark he could see the black-looking wood right under their necks where blood soaked the pike. He could smell the blood in the air and it was over-powering. His stomach churned uneasily and he wanted nothing more than to close his eyes, but if he did he'd fall asleep and he couldn't risk it. The guards might still be after them so someone had to remain alert that way they weren't recaptured. He was the best candidate since Leora had been through a lot more than he had recently. She had escaped from the Red Queen's palace – that alone amazed him now that he knew. It was no secret how scary that place was. People went there and never returned.

Shaking his head of the morbid tales he had heard about the royal palace, Kylan looked down to see that despite her earlier protests Leora had drifted to sleep rather quickly. Her breathing was slow and steady and her arms were loose at his sides where she had before been holding onto him. He couldn't help the small smirk that tugged at the corner of his lips as he repositioned her carefully so she was cradled in his lap. She stirred briefly, but her eyes fluttered closed again a moment later and her breathing regulated itself once more.

Kylan's eyes took in the sight of her looking almost peaceful, but as they continued to study her they landed on the cut on her throat and he tensed. It wasn't deep, but the two inch slice still looked unhealthy. He reached a hand up and wiped away some fresh liquid gathered on the wound with his thumb. Leora shifted and he stopped so as not to wake her again. She needed the wound cleaned and bandaged, but unfortunately he didn't have anything on him to do that. He didn't have his bag. He had… nothing but the clothes on his back.

Swearing softly under his breath he pulled the girl in his lap closer to him and waited for morning.


Morning came soon enough and Leora opened her eyes to be greeted by the sight of Kylan yawning wide. She shifted in her spot and then understood why his face was so close. She was tucked safely into his lap. Blushing, she made to move out of his lap which drew Kylan's attention to her.

"Morning." He mumbled, the fatigue in his voice sharp against the silence around them.

"Morning." She muttered back, sliding from his lap to the ground with a graceless plunking down.

"Did you sleep well?"

"As well as could be expected in a place like this." And surprisingly well for having been curled up in his lap.

"Well, sorry that our company unnerves you." Leora turned to see the woman's head from the night before scowling at her.

"She didn't mean to offend you. She's simply upset by the fact that the Red Queen would do something this horrible. Can you blame her? And it's not exactly like a forest full of severed heads is a pleasant sight." Kylan spat out. He had had to listen to the grumbling heads bantering back and forth since the crack of dawn. Needless to say he was at the end of his rope when it came to patience. The woman sneered and huffed, but said nothing more. A few other heads in the area chuckled. Kylan stood up and offered a hand to Leora. "Come on, let's try to find a way out, shall we?"

Leora took his hand and pushed off the ground as he pulled her up. She stumbled, but regained her stability and looked around. "Which way did we come in?"

"I think that way…" He motioned behind him and then shrugged. Leora nodded slowly and turned the opposite direction.

"That way then I suppose."

Kylan followed along beside her as she started walking in the direction opposite the way he guessed they came from. She seemed on edge and rightfully so. Her eyes also stayed trained on the ground which nearly made her walk into a few stakes and heads, but she always seemed to notice right before the impact. He moved closer to her side and ducked his face into her line of vision, offering her a small, but warm, smile. She returned it half-heartedly which prompted the boy to wrap an arm around her waist and guide her along, steering her clear of the creepy decapitated heads.

They walked for at least a few hours, but got nowhere. In fact, they found themselves back at the very spot they started from.

"Back again? Here I thought you two were leaving…" Came the smug voice of the insufferable female head.

Leora's head shot up to look at her, her panic from the night before flooding back. "We walked in circles?" She asked, turning to Kylan with her eyes silently pleading for him to lie and say they hadn't. Obviously that was stupid and pointless because even if he said they hadn't they clearly had.

Kylan frowned and looked around. There was no doubt that they were in the same place they had been that morning. They had kept walking in a straight line so how had that happened? "It would seem so."

"Fantastic!" Leora cried, her voice dripping with sarcasm and a bit of malice.

"You really are the noisiest girl I've ever had the misfortune of meeting."

"And you are the ugliest, rudest, most insufferable severed head I've ever had the displeasure of laying eyes on!" Leora snapped angrily. "If my noise level annoys you so much why don't you help us and yourself and tell us how exactly we might go about getting out of this damned forest!"

"Well, I never! Why should I help a spoiled little brat like you?"

"Because the sooner I'm out of the forest the sooner you won't have to hear me again and the less likely it'll be that I'll punch you!"

"I liked it better when you were terrified of us last night." The head mumbled.

"You can't leave in day." Another head spoke up suddenly. Leora turned toward it – the head of an older man with slightly graying hair. "You can only leave at night. During the day you can move around in the forest, but when you try to leave it just leads you right back to where you started."

"So we need to wait until nightfall?" Kylan asked. "Then where do we go?"

"Yes, wait until nightfall and then head the same direction you tried heading this morning. You'll reach the edge of the forest in half an hour or so. It's not too far. Be careful though… there are strange, more frightening things outside this forest than in."

Leora furrowed her brow and looked to Kylan who also looked to her and nodded, though the nod was directed at the man's head and not at Leora. "Right. Thank you."

"Of course, anything to get Lillane to shut up." He chuckled as the woman's head scoffed. "All she does is complain."

"Izigidiah, if I had my body, or even just my hands, I would slap you silly!"

The man's head – Izigidiah – laughed brightly, clearly proving that since she didn't have either she didn't scare him in the least. Kylan smiled a bit at that and then turned his attention to Leora who was just staring at the ground, lost in thought.

"Hey," He nudged her lightly and drew her attention to him. "Only a couple more hours. You want to get some more sleep?"

"No. I'm fine thank you. Why don't you sleep instead?"

"Can I sleep in your lap?" He joked.

"I don't think you'd fit." Leora smiled genuinely at him for the first time that day. Kylan laughed and suddenly hugged her to him. "Uh… you ok, Kylan?"

"I'm fine." He released her from his hold. "Just glad to see you smiling. It's no good to be upset, you know? I know our situation isn't the greatest, but being happy makes you more willing to stick it out and try harder."

Leora shook her head at him in playful disbelief while she smirked. "You're crazy, but it's ok. I think I like it."

"You think you like it? Oh, I can already tell you more than like it. You love it. You love me." He teased, succeeding in earning a smack to his stomach from Leora who wrinkled her nose.

"You wish. Who would be mental enough to love you?"

"You would, my dear. You would." Kylan chuckled as Leora rolled her eyes and then he plopped down on the ground and pat the ground beside him. Leora took the cue and also sat down to wait the next few hours until nightfall.


It seemed to take forever, but eventually nightfall came.

Leora had pretended to go to sleep about an hour previous, trying to avoid all the stupid questions Kylan had started asking her. She didn't want to tell him anything. It'd be too awkward. So she just faked being tired and laid down on the ground to 'sleep'. She only succeeded in making herself terribly bored since sleep didn't come and she was stuck just looking at the inside of her eyelids.

When Kylan finally nudged her awake she feigned drowsiness and stretched with a loud yawn. Kylan shot her a look and she could have sworn it was one that said 'I know you weren't sleeping'. He stood up and motioned for her to follow as he started walking away. Leora got up and went to his side feeling sheepish.

He knew she hadn't been sleeping. Her breathing hadn't regulated and there was no trace of fatigue in her eyes when she claimed she was exhausted and wanted to sleep. She had just been avoiding his questions and he knew it. He didn't mind too much though. He didn't really have a right to ask her anything, but he was trying to stay occupied. Boredom was the worst. In the end it backfired and he was bored beyond belief. So when night finally came he practically went bounding for the forest edge.

In his joy at the prospect of getting out he hadn't noticed anything around him, until Leora grabbed his arm and yanked on it sharply to get his attention. Kylan stopped and turned to her with aggravation written on his face. "What?"

"We're being followed." She whispered. His eyes started to dart around the area and she stomped on his foot. "Don't look! God, you're stupid sometimes." Kylan narrowed his eyes at her.

"Well, what should I do then?"

"You should take my word for it and then continue walking like nothing's wrong. Just don't lead us directly to the edge of the woods. Take us around in circles or something until close to dawn. Then we'll slip out of the forest and hope they get trapped." Her voice held a 'duh' tone to it. It seemed to ask him why he hadn't thought of that. He rolled his eyes and then nodded.

"Fine. You're such a pain in my ass." He said it in a rather loud growl and then grabbed her hand and started walking again – though the term stomping seemed to fit his gait a little more.

Leora couldn't help but look toward the sky in silent pleading. Kylan could be such a child. She said nothing about it to him though. Instead she just gripped his hand a little tighter and did her best to keep pace with him. They walked in circles for hours and quite frankly they were both getting sick of it, but the even Kylan had become aware of the shadows stalking the forest around them. He couldn't pause for a moment for fear they would pounce. He started taking longer, quicker strides. Leora was having a lot of trouble keeping up and he was basically pulling her along behind him.

"Can't you walk faster?" He grumbled softly.

"No! Now shut up. You don't hear me complaining about how you're trying to tear my arm off now do you?" She glared at him as he looked back at her. He returned it, but didn't retort because the truth was that she was being very cooperative for all his tugging on her poor limb and his making her stumble over her own two feet.

Another hour later and they had put the shadows behind them with their quick pace, but they were still within eyesight if Kylan or Leora glanced back. They couldn't risk stopping, but soon Kylan had to. He paused in his tracks for only a moment and then muttered angrily. "Fuck!"

"What?" Leora asked, pushing him to get him walking again. He obliged, but only because he didn't want their stalkers to catch up.

"I'm lost." He admitted. Leora was shocked for a moment. Not at the fact that he was lost, but at the fact that he had admitted it so willingly. "All these circles, I don't know which way the forest edge is any more."

Leora sighed heavily. "I should have known this would happen."

"Well, tell me, do you know which way we're supposed to go?" Kylan growled. Leora didn't respond. "I didn't think so."

"Shut up."

"Make me."

"Two year old."


Leora kicked him in the calf which drew another profanity over his lips. She smirked in a smug manner and Kylan narrowed his eyes as he yanked her arm hard. The smirk fell from her lips to be replaced by a scowl. "Ow!"

"Serves you right." Kylan replied. Leora pulled her hand free of his and shoved him. He stumbled backward and fell onto the ground with a dull thud. "What the hell!"

Leora was about to walk ahead when suddenly she was pulled to the ground herself. She landed on Kylan who groaned in pain. Chuckling she looked over her shoulder at him. "Can't blame that one on me. You were the idiot who pulled me down."

"Shut up and get off!" He hissed. The girl stood, her smirk back in place. She looked down at Kylan as he struggled to get up while he glared up at her.

It wasn't until he was standing again that he noticed movement behind him. Turning, he saw the shadows emerge from the dark surrounding forest. The soldiers looked hungry, but he had a feeling it wasn't for food. Blood, perhaps? He shuddered and on reflex moved to put Leora out of their sights behind him.

One soldier raised a sword and moved forward. Kylan stiffened and he turned his head ever so slightly and shot over his shoulder, "Run."

"Together," was all Leora responded with. Kylan narrowed his eyes, but then sighed and nodded. She had been stubborn about that before and now wasn't the time.

Reaching a hand behind him, she took it and then he nodded his head once sharply as the soldier lunged. Leora took off running with Kylan easily keeping up. He even surpassed her speed and took to dragging her again. The soldiers behind them ran too, no longer worried about hiding their presence and staying quiet.

"I really don't know how to get out." Kylan admitted again.

"Ask!" Leora shouted at him.

Kylan looked around at the heads that seemed unphased by the chase going on around them. He grumbled and ran faster to put more distance between them and their pursuers. He then paused briefly and kicked a pike. It rattled and shook the head on top which glared down at the two.

"What do you want?!" Snapped the shrill voice of a middle-aged man. Kylan cringed at the sound.

"Which way to the edge of the forest?"

"Why would I tell you when you so rudely woke me up?"

"God! Why are you all so damn useless and stupid?!" Leora hit his arm and he let a low rumble sound in his throat. He then looked back up at the head. "If you don't tell me I will make it my goal to kick your pike for the rest of my life or until I get out of this forest." As if to prove his point he began kicking.

"Alright! Alright!" The head yelled and then closed its eyes tightly in frustration. "From here go left and keep running. Just run straight. You should get to the edge before daybreak if you run fast enough."

Kylan didn't waste time in grabbing Leora's hand again and racing off. Neither of them failed to hear the head mutter something about the 'insolent youth of today' as they left. Kylan couldn't help but look over his shoulder and share a smirk with Leora who returned it. He then faced front again and kept running.

The soldiers had made good progress while they were stopped and were back to being within sight of the two. Kylan ran as fast as his legs would allow him too and Leora surprised him by keeping up pretty well. The sky was getting lighter by the minute and Kylan feared they'd be too late, but they saw the edge of the forest and ran. Kylan practically threw Leora across the boundary and dived after her as the first sliver of the sun rose above the horizon signaling daybreak. Somewhere within the forest limits they could hear the cursing of lost soldiers.

Kylan lay where he landed beside Leora, panting heavily. "Wow… that was close."

"Yeah." Leora wheezed between shaky breaths. "Let's not do that again, ok?"

Kylan laughed lightly. "Ok," He turned his head and smiled at her as she smiled back wearily. "Come on, let's go. We only have roughly twelve hours to put distance between those soldiers and us." He stood and helped Leora up as she groaned in exasperation.

"Will we ever get a moment to relax?"

"I doubt it."

"Fantastic." Leora ran a hand through her long auburn tresses and then shook them back into place. Kylan wrapped an arm around her shoulders and squeezed gently before letting her go and settling for walking beside her. "So… where do we go from here?"

"I don't know. I suppose we should look for a nearby town and then ask for directions from there."

Leora nodded and fidgeted with her dress. "I could use a change of clothes too."

"As could I. We'll look into that before doing anything else when we get to town."

"How do you expect we do that without money?"

Kylan opened his mouth and then shut it again, only to reopen it a minute later. "Shit. I forgot about that." Leora gave him a look that screamed 'that's apparent' accompanied by an eye roll. "Well, we'll figure something out. Somehow…"

"I'll believe you." The girl said, but Kylan got the impression she was being sarcastic. He elbowed her in the side and was repaid the favor twice as hard. He grunted and Leora grinned smugly. That grin was just too cute though for him to retaliate though. For now at least.

A/N: Sorry this chapter is a little short. I've been busy with a project lately and haven't had time to write it and already it's Friday and usually I update on Wednesday so I was just trying to get it out and... yeah... I'll try and make the next chapter extra long to make up for it! Try being the operative word there though...