The trees grew thick and dense here.  No light from outside found its way inside-- and the shadows never left.  The pale din was just light enough to see where one was going, but it was of little use in any other way.  

How had this happened, Adelaide wondered lamentably.  Her feet were miserable, pleading with her to stop and rest, just for a moment.

"No.  If I stop now, they'll only catch up to me."  Hate welled up inside her, boiling her blood as she thought of them.

They had ruined everything for her.  Tears formed in her eyes-- she blinked them back and trudged on.

To her right, a startled bird fluttered away with a hideous shriek.  Adelaide covered her mouth, frightened.  Her heart stuttered and faltered, threatening to fail altogether.  

This time, she couldn't fight back the tears that blurred her vision, turning the trees into a massive, muddy brown boundary.  She was forced to stop now, and her feet were quite relieved.  Still, she made no noise,  They were surely far behind her now, but she dared not to take the risk.  If they had the dogs, it wouldn't be much longer 'til they found her.

The return of her fear--such petrifying fear, encouraged her to hastily wipe the tears from her eyes and keep moving, a little faster this time.  Eventually, as the twilight grew darker, Adeliade came upon a rock wall in front of her.  It was several feet taller than her, and for as far as she could see, it spanned the whole width of the forest.  

"Now, I surely must be going the right way."  If she could only scale the wall, the sea would only be a day's travel away.  

The sea...  Adelaide's eyes glistened as the memory of the smell of salty air and the sound of the crashing waves flooded back to her.  She could almost taste it. 

Maybe Dusty would still be there.  Dusty would know what to do, she thought hopefully.  Dusty always knew what to do.  

She placed her right hand tentatively on a stone, groping with her fingers for a sure grip.  She tried to pull herself up, but her hands slipped and she fell gently on the squishy undergrowth.   She tried again with little success.  She paced a short length of the wll, searching for a better place to climb.  "It's no use," she whined despairingly.  

She went to kick one of the rocks embedded in the wall with the toe of her boot and discovered that it was loose.  Though her toes hurt, she nearly forgot all about the pain, and bent down to inspect it.

The rock was particularly large.  Large enough so, if someone rather small like herself were able to push the rock out, she could crawl through on her belly.  "Hmm..."  

Adelaide pushed the rock with all her might, the cool surface smooth under her palms. With a good shove, the rock fell back.  Her muscles burned with the strain of her continuous shoves, but she was pleased with her accomplishments.  Putting the rock back will be even harder, I shouldn't wonder,  she thought to herself.

The wall wasn't particularly wide, which Adelaide was grateful for.  If I happened to get stuck...  She was careful not to finish the thought.  She got on her belly and wiggled her way under the wall.  

When she was free, she struggled to replace the rock.  It was even harder than she expected.  After some minutes, she succeeded and sat with her back against the wall, breathing heavily.

It would take them sometime to figure out how she got across.  She was safe now.  Besides, they dare not cross the border.  Those superstitious fools were afraid of the magical world that was spread out before her.  

Adelaide, well rested, now had a choice.  She could seal the rock in place, so no one would be able to follow her.  However, should someone else like herself be captured and fortunate enough to escape, they would need this rock loose so they could get out too.  However, the odds of someone taking the same path as her...  Was it really so unlikely? 

Hoping she wouldn't regret it, she left the rock as it was.  She hoped it would be useful for future fugitives someday.

She walked on through the night, knowing she wasn't imagining the glistening fairies that lit up a small path. They watched her curiously as she passed.  She smiled at them, hoping they were too tired to tug at her hair for their nests.  It was a pointless hope, though, and she had to shoo away the greedy little brutes.

The trees were less dense now, and she was comforted with the knowledge that she was almost home again.

"It won't be the same without my father, but I have to move on.  For his sake, if not for my own too."

She sighed and wrapped her thick cloak around her.  Now that she wasn't so worried, the cold bit at her.  The wind had sharp teeth, thousands of cold little needles poking at her face and her ears.  

The End

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