It was the fifth night terror of the evening that sent her from the tent. She'd been alone again - he had yet to lay claim to his captive and Seres was beginning to come to the conclusion that he never would. This haunting question pushed her from her bed, pushed her from her tent, followed her out into the wilderness and nagged at her still. It had grown from a curiosity to a desperate need - it had consumed her, sprouting other questions that curled around her throat and cut off her breathing.
The silhouettes of the forest trees were black as ink and spindly - they twisted and contorted, bending and stretching ever upward, their narrow, crooked fingers cutting into the empyrean sky. Long shadows were cast upon the leaf-laden ground, crisscrossing as if light were coming from all directions. It was little inconsistencies such as this that held her attention and for a long moment, as the claws of the tree branches tore into the atmosphere and released the stars, allowing them to spill outward and lazily form the murky constellations her ancestors spoke of relentlessly, she observed the unnatural shadows.
Far beyond her perception, standing on a nearby cliff edge, were two figures, shrouded in darkness. They stood within a foot of each other, neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.
One said to the other, "I'm going to take her from you," his lips moving to form phantom words around his stark-white teeth.
The other simply smiled and said, "You can try."