There were a dozen or more figures moving through the thick underbrush before her. The leaves were so dense they seemed to consume the overhead moonlight before it reached the forest floor, leaving everything in complete blackness. It also obscured Miranda's sight line enough to make her question what her eyes were telling her.
The figures moved stealthily, and were covered head-to-toe in tattered cloaks and leather armor. Some of them had helmets. But there was something about their movement that poked Miranda's that ain't right part of her brain. Because to her, it seemed just like she was looking at dogs walking on their hind legs.
The man behind her held her firm in his grasp, not letting go of her mouth. As she grew more frightened, Miranda's breathing grew more rapid. She felt the man lean into the back of her head, pressing against her hair, his lips nearly touching her ear, and whispered with just enough sound for her to hear, "Calm yourself, girl, or we will both die."
Those were sobering words to hear. Words Miranda never would have thought might be directed toward her, yet their weight was perfectly palpable. Its gravity brought sudden and unexpected tears to her eyes. She kept quiet as she wept into the man's large hand. Afraid her sniffling might give them away, Miranda allowed her nose to run openly as tears mixed with snot into the man's rough knuckles as she shuddered with muted sobs in his grasp.
Barely audible, he shushed her again, "Shhh."
Miranda fought to regain control for a few moments, then nodded to let the man know she had not completely broken down; she was ready.
But ready for what? To run? To scream? To fight? Her world spun before her and the unknown loomed menacingly.
Suddenly, and only for a brief second, Miranda caught a glimpse of one of her pursuers. A hint of moonlight and the quick flare of the hood and she found herself staring into the most hideous pair of red canine eyes she could have imagined. Eyes filled with hate and evil. The beast's nose -- no, snout -- turned up toward the leaf canopy above and the nostrils twitched as it searched for her scent. Its mouth parted and sharp, white incisors gleamed wetly in the darkness as drool hung from its jaw.
Miranda's terrified eyes bulged and she screamed into the her captor's hand as she thrashed to extricate herself from his vice-like hold.
The dog-thing snapped its head toward the bush where Miranda hid with a sharp snort of satisfaction. It extended one human-looking arm directly at her and snarled to the others, "In there."