The trees whispered as their leaves brushed against each other in the cold breeze. It was darker here in the depths of the forest, the sun unable to penetrate the thick canopy that rose up into the silent air and blocked out the sky. The lack of light meant that the colour had been drained from the surroundings. The thick branches and trunks of the trees had turned grey and the leaves were a deep green. Adding to this, a thin layer of mist hung in the air, making it almost impossible to see clearly. It was not a place for people to wander about in.
Yet, despite all of this, somebody was. A small figure stumbled over a knarled root, giving out a tiny cry of surprise and pain as she fell. With a shuddering breath, she hugged her bruised knee to her chest for a moment, and then slowly made her way to her feet. As she pulled her cloak hastily around her again, her eyes flickered side to side, surveying the still shadows that surrounded her. She was a young girl, barely ten cycles old. Her golden curls fell over her face and tumbled down to her shoulders, a bright colour that did not seem to belong in this dark part of the forest. She was clad in a brown tunic and cloak, typical of the clothing in the village. The village she was trying to get back to.
Her mother had always told her not to stray off the path and travel into the deepest part of the forest, for that was where the monsters lived. But she was only a foolish child, how could she resist breaking the rules and going where it was forbidden? It had seemed like an exciting adventure at the time, but now that night had fallen and the sky had stained black, she cursed herself for not obeying. The girl bit her bottom lip as she listened with wide, fearful, blue eyes. Even though everything seemed quiet and hushed, even though nothing except from the leaves moved, she still felt as though there was something there, watching her.
A twig snapped from behind her, the cracking sound resounding through the frozen air. The girl fought the urge to scream as she whipped round, her cloak flapping at her legs. She stared wildly into the cluster of trees, trying as hard as she could to see what had made the noise. There was nothing. Her gasping breaths slowed as the shock evaporated. Maybe it had been a small animal, a vole for example. Or maybe she had imagined it completely. Closing her eyes for a moment, she took a deep breath to reassure herself. When she was calm, she opened them again. This time she did scream.
Claws reached out for her, teeth ripped and malicious eyes glared hungrily through the darkness. If the trees surrounding the scene were conscious, they would have heard more screaming, seen a struggle and felt the forest eventually returning to its usual stillness and silence.