Chapter 1: The prey✔️

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Wet boots leave their prints in the soft, muddy ground. My feet are flying across the muck and sliding over wet grass. I almost fall a number of times, but I stay strong and keep pace.

The slapping noise of a strangers feet give chase from behind, trying to corner me, trying to cut me off.

I won't let it happen, not easily. They are going to have to work if they want me. I won't let myself become their next victim, their prey.

My arms are pumping beside me as I jump and slide across fallen logs and slippery moss.

The Everforest is dangerous. It will pull you in, suck you in, until you don't know up from down. It drags you into its depths only to spit you back out, your life gone, lost in the endless rows and rows of trees that refuse to let any amount of light seep through.

I've grown up on the edges, I've ventured far deeper than most would risk. There's an evil hidden deep, an evil that hides and lurks in the shadows, waiting for its moment to grab you.

As of yet, I have had luck on my side, but I guess the shadows finally found me.

I wonder where they came from.
I wonder how I got myself into this.

My breathing is ragged, the beast won't let up. It's trying to chase me in farther. I can't let that happen.

My body is shaking all over as I let my delicate fingers glide over the soft wood of my bow. My older brother had it specially commissioned for me. I've used it to hunt before, but I've never had to use it for protection until now.

I steel myself, grit my teeth, let myself take position as I reach back and let my body glide through the familiar motions. I take a small, steadying breath before releasing my weapon upon this creature.

An arrow flies,
a mark is hit.

I turn and run. I don't wait to see if the beast is still behind me. I don't wait to see if my arrow flew true, or if it dealt any real damage. I just let my feet hit the ground until I'm home and I'm behind the safety of my bedroom door.

I try to catch my breath,
try not to look out my window,
but I do.

I see beady yellow eyes. I see the arrow, broken in its shoulder. I cover my mouth, hold in my scream and lean against the wall, hiding from sight.

I take no comfort in the fact that they never leave the forest. I take no comfort at all as I close my eyes and pretend this is all a dream.

Only it's not... And my brother is here now. I'm home early, too early, and he's knows something is wrong.

He's knocking on my door, a small curtesy that he doesn't usually partake in.

Shaky lungs take in shaky breaths. I bite into my dry, cracked lips, let my tongue wet them. I don't speak.

Knocks ensue; He's becoming impatient by my silence. I see the doorknob turning now, patience flown out the window on a cold breeze as the door flings open.

My oldest brother is tall, even for an elf. His figure is quite intimidating to some, but not me. To me he is my protector, my teacher. I look up to him.

"Gilly." My nickname passes through his lips. His feat make the floorboards creak as he takes a seat beside me. "You look like you've seen a ghost, sister."

I huddle close to him, rest my cheek against his arm. "I didn't go any farther than normal."

Torin, tense and wary, looks down at me. His baby blue eyes are narrowed.

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