Celestia scrambled, breathless, for the outer edge of the village; she didn't even attempt to look over her shoulder for her chasers.  But within the last few paces of the nearest hut, she slowed to catch her breath and managed a peek.  She was relieved to find that they were no longer in sight: either they had given up the chase, or had found someone or something else to amuse themselves with.  However, she couldn't shake the feeling that these giants were more dangerous when they couldn't be found.  She thought back to that poor, battered forest nymph, unfortunate enough to have crossed their path, and shuddered.  She silently prayed that the Great Goddess keep her under her protection.

      The girl attempted to shove aside her bewilderment and regain her composure.  Had this all been another dream?  Had she been cursed with this awful vision?   She had no idea what had just happened to her, but she was overwhelmed with an urgent desire to describe what she had seen to one of Artemis' great priestesses.  Surely they would have a cure, or an explanation for these evil omens.  She resolved to head there right away, but before rounding the corner into the village, she scanned herself for image.  Although her legs and arms were covered in cuts and scratches, her tunic remained untorn and her face got out relatively unscathed.  She plucked a small handful of thorns and leaves out of her skin and clothing until she looked somewhat presentable, and hurried around the corner entering the main square.  She kept her head down, not wishing to be questioned.  She had almost successfully completed her march across the square when she heard herself summoned, and - looking up to see the source - tripped and tumbled down into the slight ditch edging the north side of it.

      Vincent stood, grinning, above Celestia.  He watched her groan and roll onto her stomach, and laughed valiantly.  "I knew you'd fall for me someday, but even I didn't think you'd fall this quickly," he teased, offering her a hand.

     She was openly unamused with his fun, but delicately placed her hand in his.  Catching him off guard, she yanked on his outreached arm, sending him to the ground beside her.  Now she laughed for real, and returned, "If I fall, I'm taking you down with me!"  She giggled a little more before rolling herself over to her stomach and pushing herself up; however, he took advantage of her hand, still in his, and pulled her down once more.  She landed clumsily on top of him, her head on his chest, and she laughed some more, before resolving to pulling herself up to meet his eyes.  "You know, this was not what I had in mind," she mused.  She could feel his strong, calloused hands on the small of her back, preventing her from pulling away.  She could feel his chest, expanding when he breathed, lifting her body with it.    As she refocused on his smiling face, their lips were inches away, and she could feel a shade of red creeping through her olive-skinned cheeks. Suddenly uncomfortable, she squirmed free of his burly arms and fled.

The End

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