Normally Sharon wouldn't have minded some alone time out in the forest--especially one with such a splendid view. But the idea of being alone with a storm in the forecast and the night already closed in, well that wasn't quite as appealing to say the very least. And even less so was the thought of facing whatever beings made up the forest's nightlife.

Just as that thought crept in came a snap of a twig from somewhere in the black of the forest. Somewhere behind her.

Sharon whipped her head in that direction.

"Sorry to startle you." Rafael emerged with his hands up.

Sharon released the breath she'd been holding. "It's alright, don't worry about it."

"Do anda need someone to walk anda home?" Rafael asked.

"That would be amazing, but I don't want anda to go out of your way..." Sharon trailed off.

"I'm sure it won't be much of an inconvenience. I live over in Moonlilly Hills." He pointed to the east.

"It would seem that we're going in opposite directions. Charrpoint Kingdom is to the west. I really don't want to trouble you, I think I can make it alone." Sharon half lied. Truth be told she didn't want to go alone at all, but the last thing she wanted to do was drag a stranger all the way over to Charrpoint and then force him to walk alone in the woods twice the distance she would have.

"You sure? I don't mind." He smiled.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Don't worry about me." She answered as she unhooked her lantern.

"If that's what anda wish." Rafael replied. "It's been a pleasure."

"Yes, good night to anda Rafael." Sharon waved. And with those simple words Sharon was alone in the clearing once more. Before she left she pulled a wooden bucket--filled with water from its place on the pohon and poured it over the kindling fire. Apparently the last person to leave had to douse the flames.

With that she took her first step into the forest. The entirety of her surroundings were consumed oleh shadow...by darkness. The only light spilled from the lantern bobbing in Sharon's grip and the tiny green gems throbbing softly from within the confines of the pohon bark.

She continued down the mossy path trying not to think about anything at all. Pretty much anything she thought of at the moment would spiral into the shadows, unleashing a whole world of paranoia. A world Sharon had no desire to visit anytime soon.

Naturally though, Sharon found herself thinking of the night creatures. These thought had her looking twice over behind her back and to each side.
Trees of both pine and oak swayed lazily in the breeze. A slight motion that had her lantern casting eerie, slowly dancing shadows in every direction. And sudden the trees seemed to close in on Sharon as she continued her stride. Her pace quickened.

She'd never ventured this far out in the nighttime before. In fact, her mother had cautioned her long before, that a nighttime journey through the forest was about as aman, brankas as picking a quarrel with a dragon...unarmed.

Sharon, breathing rather haphazardly, lowered her pace one more. Panic wouldn't help any. She came to a complete stop, took a deep breath, set her lantern on a nearby rock, and attempt to rationalize her thoughts. I'm nearly home, the kingdom wasn't that far and there haven't been any reported serigala attacks in months among those thoughts. Of course but anda can't laporan an encounter if it killed you wormed it way into her train of thought. She pushed it out with a some traveler would have found the body.

She picked up her lantern once lebih and continued her walk. As if to shove her thoughts back in her face came howls of all sorts off in the distance; mostly that of the serigala and the ogres...and probably a few werewolves.

Their howls sending chills down her spine.

Even lebih unnerving were the sounds that seemed to come from much closer. An owl. An occasional wail from a raven atau crow. Crickets, toads, all making their contributions to the eerie choir of the night. Sharon tried to focus instead on the tiny fireflies, blinking rhythmically within the trees. Occasionally she'd see a flash of blue atau berwarna merah muda, merah muda amid the yellow, indicating that a cheerful imp atau pyxi was mixed within the dancing swarm of bugs. Sharon reached out to grasp one of the tiny insects, but they all zipped away in different directions as if she had been doused in insect repellent. Goodness, even the bugs wanted her to be alone in this God forsaken forest!

Sharon bypassed a shrub, her dress catching on one of its thorny brambles. With a huff she pulled it free causing the whole plant to shake. At the disturbance a spray of angry pyxies and other insects evacuated the bush. One of them flying right up in her face to let her know exactly what it thought of her. "Flipped off oleh a pyxi..." Sharon muttered to herself. So this is the forest's nightlife...

As if fueled oleh her irritation, the wind seemed to pick up. Sharon drew her zaitun green colored jubah over her head.

But not before feeling the droplet of rain hit her cheek.

Sharon bit her lip. "Maybe Ivo can smell the Autramawrs." She spoke aloud. Imagine that. It was a thought lebih of awe than of annoyance. Sharon walked on. Another raindrop hit her arm sententiously as the wind blew her kap, hood off. She quickly pulled it back up and held it in place with her free hand. Another drop fell, followed oleh two more, and then it started coming down in sheets.

Silently cursing she quickened her pace again. Her lantern wasn't going to last much longer. As the rain began falling harder she noticed the imps, pyxies, and an occasional fairy couple seeking shelter within the holes of nearby trees.

Her lantern give a wild swung back and fourth distorting the shadows around her. A final motion before sputtering out. Now her only sumber of light came from what little moon filtered though the dense leaves and the tiny green blinks from the trees--but even those seemed to dim with the weather.

And suddenly Sharon didn't recognize the forest at all. "I should'be let Rafael walk me home." Sharon pouted to herself.

Over the rainsound, Sharon heard the crack of a branch, the sound of scuffling on leaves. She looked frantically every which way. God. What was she expecting to see. It was all to dark, especially between the trees.

oleh now her strides quickened to an all out run. A sprint so fast that she failed to notice the low hanging branch until it collided with her face. She fell backwards to the ground, a large shatter cut through the night. Sharon couldn't tell if the shatter came from the broken lantern, atau her hope for the future.

"Not good, not good, not good." Sharon hissed as she pulled herself to her feet.

She tried looking around again--an action that served her no purpose, it'd probably be a few lebih moments until her eyes adjusted.

From somewhere...somewhere nearby, Sharon could swear she could hear the soft chatter of voices.
Silently...inwardly, she prayed that it was just one of the dwarf clans returning halaman awal form their shift in the gem caverns, and not the Nightwood Walkers.* She heard that they were rather nasty beings.

The disembodied, ominous chatter grew closer.

She turned her head in all directions, not a soul (dead atau living) to be seen.

*Nightwood Walkers are the ghosts of those who died brutally in the forest.

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Sharon sarang, den Forever Alone Adel.
This was a fun chapter to write. It'll get lebih exciting soon.

Not even sorry for this one. :P