The pond weed tickled Syrra's bare feet as she bent to fill her bucket, legs submerged to just above her knees in the cold water. Reeds grew thick on either side of the lazy meandering rivulet and through the dense mass of pond grass and Syrra could just make out the remains of the bird nests that, until only a few weeks ago, had been populated with squalling chicks.
Empty bucket now filled to the brim with water, Syrra waded back to the bank, using the hem of her skirts to dry her legs off. On the other side of the river, separated from the farming land by the water, lay the beginnings of the forest known as brainse dorcha - dark wood. Many of the old stories told by grandmothers to their children spoke of spirits and elves that lived in the deep places of the forest, only emerging on nights such as Samhain to wreak mischief in the realms of men. Now, looking into the vague darkness between the towering trees, Syrra felt a shivver run down her back. Even in the bright sunlight, the trees still seemed to harbour some sort of inner darkness, like a creeping mist that hugs the sides of high mountains in winter. Nothing stirred the silent leaflitter and no birds sung in the branches. It was as if as Syrra watched the forest, it watched her back, both waiting for the other to make the first move.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, Syrra saw something move in the trees. With a cry of alarm she turned to face it, dropping her bucket and diving behind a large clump of reeds. Heart pounding in her chest, she crouched and watched as, slowly and silently as a ghost, a figure emerged from the trees. It stopped just short of the treeline, partially hidden from view by the shade of the branches, staring silently out at the farmland beyond. Syrra held perfectly still, fearing that even the slightest sound might alert it to her presence. As if hearing her thoughts, the figure's eyes moved until they stopped on Syrra's hiding place. She held her breath, willing the figure to look away and praying to whatever gods may have been listening to grant her invisibility.
After what felt like hours, the figure's gaze wandered on and Syrra slowly began to withdraw, creeping backwards and always keeping her eyes locked on the strange being on the other side of the river. However, as she turned to run, her foot caught on a fallen reed. With a screech like a startled bird, Syrra pitched forward into a patch of pondside mud. At the sound of her cry, the figure whirled to face her. For one moment their eyes met and Syrra found herself lost in a pair of luminous silver eyes, as bright and mysterious as the moon and yet glowing with some inner fire. Then, just as swiftly as it had appeared, the figure turned and vanished into the trees, disappearing as if swallowed up by the shadows.
For several minutes, Syrra lay there, sprawled in the mud, mind reeling and heart hammering in her chest like a caged bird. Then she scrambled to her feet, dark hair now in wild disarray and eyes wide in alarm, and raced back across the farmland. She had to tell someone about this. Strange figures in the forest were not a regular occurence, particularly not this far from the Borderlands.
Particularly not figures with glowing silver eyes...