Kiara had stumbled into the odd forest, weighed down by the temporary disguise of the castle guard’s chainmail, and quickly forgetting any exhaustion to shock. The place felt bizarrely unfamiliar, surreal almost in the unexpected sights it offered. Alien scents and sounds drifted about constantly and resulted in an almost-tangible edge among the Hawks.
The thought of the forest becoming two foreign entities entirely on either side of a cave was hard to grasp. There was only one unreal, impossible explanation. Magic. There had to be some odd beings or mystical creatures that made the fantastical possible, that ruled this realm parallel to the one the Hawks knew and loved.
Ali, Norida and Griever had long disappeared into the portal-like rip in the fabric of the forest, all in pursuit. It had disappeared quickly afterwards, cutting them off from the rest of the party that had retreated to the cave.
Kate was sitting on a large boulder nearby, wincing in pain as Jem tended to the deep burns on the soles of her feet. She shifted slightly with impatience, eager to take action despite her condition.
“We have to find some way to the others,” she started, addressing the small group, “And soon. Ali and Norida are the most likely to know anything of the dangers of this place, and we have neither of them with us.”
Jem quickly finished her task, grey eyes flashing with determination.
“The best we can do for now is to wait and see if the portal will reappear and get a good amount of rest. Shifting too far from here risks losing sight of the cave, and becoming lost in a strange land near dark is of no benefit to any of our Hawks.”
Kiara nodded and shrugged the hefty armour off onto the floor, taking care not to trap any visible insects beneath it.
“This clearing is as good a campsite as we can get. I spotted a stream further back and kindling is all over the place. Whatever game flocks around these parts will be enough to feed us."
The handful of Hawks all went off to make preparations to settle down for the night, a few hunting and others working to get a fire going and create some kind of shelter from the elements. Kiara had headed off to the stream she had seen earlier with the collected waterskins of the group, promptly filling them with the clear, rushing water.
She slung them all over her shoulders, enjoying the brief hike back to the clearing and the surprisingly invigorating air.
Things were getting along quite nicely, a small fire, nearly devoid of smoke, going and a makeshift spit created around it. The hunting Hawks filtered in slowly, bringing back unrecognizable fowl and small hare-like creatures that had an uncanny resemblance to squirrels.
Kiara set about tending to the flames, rotating the skinned meat as it sizzled and boiling the water as efficiently as possible, adding a log or two every so often.
It was a short amount of time until they were all eating the spoils of the foreign land, sitting around the fire and chatting but still considerably quieted by their odd surroundings. The meal had just about finished when, without so much as a warning, the fire blew out with a great gust of wind and the air cooled radically.
A chilling, lonesome howl rang out into the wilderness, quickly being joined by another and another. Soon enough the clearing was encompassed by the discord, an infinite number of creatures howling and yowling and screeching.
Kiara froze and felt for the safety of the whip at her hip, able to tell even in the darkness that her comrades were doing the same with their own weapons.
It was time for the first taste of the power lingering in these woods.