Author’s Note: This is a contiuation of the story I recently began with “A Test”. If you ended up here first somehow, you should read the first part first! You can find it here.

The forest was colder at night. That was to be expected, of course, but no expectation can prepare someone for the way that a chill in the air never known before will feel against the skin. She took a moment to get her bearings, eyes adjusting to the dim light that made its way through the trees towering above. She hadn’t moved a step from where she’d been; the familiar grooves and knots in the bark were the same as they were before. A slight dew had settled in her absence, drawing a mossy scent that floated beneath the familiar sweetness.

Slowly, almost methodically, she wove a path through the wood. Her thoughts turned briefly to creating a map of sorts, but knew she had nothing with which to draw. Another time, perhaps, after becoming more familiar with the land. She remembered her wild sprint through the field as if recalling a distant memory; in the stillness of the night, it seemed almost profane.

In time, her wandering found the trees thinning, and the world opening up before her. She paused at the edge of the forest, once again overcome with a wonder at what was laid out before her. The grass had taken a blue hue in the faint light of night, and a low stream cut a winding path through it in the distance. Abover her, the sky shimmered with a breathtaking array of lights centered around a pair of brilliant discs not unlike the earlier sun, but muted in their demeanor. A great distance away, barely visible in the night air, the shape of mountains stretched the horizon into the bejewelled canvas above it.

She felt a nagging in the back of her mind, calling her somewhere. She pushed it aside with a resolute nod; she knew where she was meant to be, and it was here among the open air and wild lands splayed out before her. Despite the chill still present in the air, she felt only the warmth that comes from finally being at home. All of her worries felt a lifetime away, and she refused to allow them to draw her from the wonders of this place.

Having taken her moment to drink in the scene, she decided upon following the stream. After all, whatever mysteries might be waiting, the legends had always made clear that water was important. As silly it seemed to make a choice based on a childish fable, she had little else by which to navigate. She made her way to the bank and began to walk alongide the flow, stopping for a moment to run a hand through the rippling water.

As her fingers touched the waves, she felt a sharp and sudden — no, pain wasn’t quite the word. The night sky surged with it, a brilliant array of colors that swirled around her. Her ears were crushed by an unearthly howling, an outright cacophanous roar that drowned out everything else; the sharp feeling spread through every fiber of her being, and just as she thought it was subsiding it erupted anew as the booming din gave way to a voice.


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