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Prologue

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They arrived in the dead of night

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They arrived in the dead of night. Nestled in the countryside, the village of Adaymos was no more than a dull glow in the cluster of shadowed trees. A place where nobody ever came and nobody ever left. A village afraid of the forest and what lay inside of it.

The perfect place to hide.

A woman stepped out from the tree line, her cloak concealing her face as she hobbled forward, the baby still in her arms. "This is the place?" she said. Beside her, a man emerged from the forest.

"Adaymos," the man replied, gently pulling her cloak back to reveal the small child asleep in her arms. The infant seemed to glow. "The child can never know. She can never be found."

They hobbled forward. The village slept as they hid in the shadows of the huts; the dull light of candles flickered through the windows. They were concealed in darkness and silence.

When they reached the centre of the village, there was a man stationed at the well. "Miss," the guard called, spotting her. "Are you alright?"

Trodding toward him, the woman remained silent as her companion hid in the shadows. When she reached the guard, she leant forward and slid the hood of her cloak off to reveal her face. His eyes met hers, growing wide with alarm.

"Sleep," she whispered. His body went slack and he crumbled to the ground.

Her companion dragged him by the ankle towards the line of trees. Moving forward, the woman peered in through the window of the bedroom. There was a child in the cot beneath the window, almost identical in appearance to the baby in her arms.

She reached her arms through the window and scooped the baby up, switching it with the one in her arms. A candle flickered on outside of the room.

The woman ducked down, retreating into the shadows of the trees – a different child in her arms. She looked over her shoulder to see fire lighting the sky, the source coming from the cabin she'd just placed the child. She smiled.

Exactly 53 days later, the woman and her companion were found in the forbidden forest with their throats torn out. The baby was nowhere to be seen.

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