As we made our way deeper into the woods, the sun rising high behind us, it began to get darker and the trees began to stretch higher into the sky gasping for a ray of light to touch its under nourished leaves. All around me green stretched and shadows twisted creating more shapes than you would think able. "Rao," I started "Erm I'm feeling pretty lost." I ended bluntly, going down the right hand fork of the shrinking path it felt like we'd been walking for hours when in reality it had only been half an hour. But that's what you need to expect from Wintrem woods, time flows differently than anywhere else.
The only comforting thing about walking through the woods was the constant chatter of creatures here and there. It started to get worrying when they became quieter until we were consumed by dead silence the only sounds made were my clumsy footfalls over the deadened leaves and Raoul's occasional bout of heavy panting and growl warning away any mischievous happenings. "We're not lost, merely on the journey you need to take. This, however, doesn't take into account the fact that we may be lost." he looked at me eyes glinting, I sighed why was everyone I spoke to so cryptic about the future or where I need to go.
As the ever present silence prevailed, I started to notice how the luscious greens were turning into blackened and dead branches. A heavy breathing, separate to Rao's wolfish rasps and my frustrated gasps of the inclining hill, joined ours. I paused on the path, listening to the sounds around me a pin could drop and be heard in the stunning silence but then a crack of a fallen branch snapped under stumbling and clumsy feet, the sound of heavy breathing grew nearer. Rao now paces ahead turned and looked back at me with a glare. He's a wolf I rationalised, he'd of heard it first and told me if it was any danger ... right?
Within a blink, Rao had bounded over to me and heckles raised, fur on end and teeth glistening with a threatening glint that could easily break a leg with one crunch of its powerful jaws. "Behind me child!" he commanded and I stumbled back, falling over a moss covered rock. His growling rumbled like thunder in the silence, as if a storm had suddenly appeared on the sunny afternoon, I felt a sting in my arm; I'd managed to get a cut the whole length, blood mixing with moss and deadened leaves sticking to it. I bit my lip to hold in a muffled cry. Crap, just great. This can't be happening.
While I'd been focussed on my arm, Rao's body language had become more hunter like, body low to the ground, the tension building in his legs, the spring held down to its limits. Then, like a gunshot, he was gone. Disappearing into the dead undergrowth.
Scuffling and growls emanated from the thorny bushes. I scrambled to my feet, flinching at the lancing shoots that ran up and down my arm. Gathering a scrap of my t-shirt and ripping it away to at least staunch the bleeding, I ran forward heading towards the sounds. Though my body was telling me to go in the opposite direction and hide.
I went through the curtained branches, thorns snagging on my new make-do bandage and tearing new scratches into my face and other arm. "Rao?" I whispered into the abyss that was in front on me. "Rao? Please this really isn't funny now." I start to shout, tripping occasionally on the oddly strewn branches on the floor. Looking down I noticed that the natural path is now forking as a new messy one leads the way down towards a bubbling creak that is making itself known loud and clear now. I followed it down, breaths catching in panic and pain, my lungs felt like they were on fire as I declined faster into the midst of the creak.
Growls became louder as I neared the end of the track. A raspy voice was shouting obscenities at Raoul, who equally shouted back through snarling teeth and mouthfuls of the other being. The sense of power hit me like a brick wall and I fell down. Again. It shocked me so much I cried out and the abstaining power rolled continuously over me, I knew they must be yelling mentally as well, I began to get dizzier than I'd ever been before "Excuse me ... Erm I need ... I need ... some .." the blackness dotted in my vision I took in one deep breath and yelled "For the sake of the Oracle, please STOP!" and with a brilliant flash of light that contrasted with the dark shadows I was consumed, my vision blank, I fell back into the welcoming darkness.