With an arrow notched in his crossbow, Brádach follows the trail. His blue eyes bounce from the ground to the trees to the shadows and back to the path he follows. The silence of the night worries him. No wolves howl. No owls hoo. And nothing scurries through the underbrush.
His chest tightens and he clutches his crossbow a little tighter. Color bleaches from his knuckles. He barely breathes, the tiny clouds seeming like beacons in the darkness of the woods.
A twig cracks.
Brádach whips around.
Nothing greets him in the darkness.
Leaves crunch behind him.
He spins back around, the shadows shifting before him.
Worry kicks his heart into a panic. Picking up his pace, he follows the trail further into the woods, to where the rustling grows louder and louder. Yet, quieter at the same time. The sounds echo hollowly this deep in the woods where monsters live, or at least that’s what Maimeó would say.
Brádach doesn’t believe in monsters, not even when he stops dead in his tracks.
Before him, the red-haired girl is surrounded by animals bigger than he’s ever seen. Big enough to be monsters. But dey’re just animals. Dey can still die.
Gathering his courage, he releases a battle cry and rushes forward, loosing an arrow from his crossbow.
Artwork by Ryan Bernard.