Dodgson Woods is an expansive forest that lies to the far east of Arcana in the Providence of Eshtar. Several villages reside here including the neighboring towns of Tulpaar and Tulpex who trade goods in the Kingdom of Arcana as well as the surrounding lands of Eshtar. The forest itself is shrouded in superstition. The locals believe the woods to be cursed by spirits, the souls of dead warriors from the Great War that still walk the living world. Trade routes through the forest have gone unused for a number of years and hardly anyone ventures into it for nothing other than supplies. However, even the trading of supplies between the neighboring Tulpaar and Tulpex can be dangerous.
The leaves crunch under her feet as she runs down a narrow path through Dodgson Woods. She throws her head back to see if she is still being followed. She could not tell if the leaves above were moving from her mad dash or whatever is trailing her. It didn’t matter. She had to get away. She had to get to safety. Some time ago at dusk, she was with her companion on their way back to Tulpaar Village after a long day of trading in Tulpex. They were no more than a few meters from Tulpex when something swooped down from the sky and carried her companion off. The attack was sudden. She stayed for a moment to see if she can catch a glimpse of her companion’s abductor. A few moments passed. Then something dives at her from the sky. It was upon her in seconds. She did not get a clear look at it. All she remembers is teeth and claws grabbing at her as she fought it off. Once she broke free, her instincts took over, telling her to run and to not stop until she reached the village.
She trips once. Fear hastes her to get back up and keep running. She doesn’t know how far she is from the village. She just knows that she has to get there or suffer whatever fate has befallen her friend. A high pitched shrill—the same shrill she heard earlier just before her friend was whisked into the air—drives her fear higher. Desperate to get away from her pursuer, she takes a path through the brush, using her arms to wade through the branches and leaves. She had no time to decipher which ones are safe to touch. Escape is her only thought. Soon the curtain of shrubbery opens to a large oak tree. She makes for the tree with one last surge and presses herself tightly against it. She takes a peek around the large oak, looking upward. The sky above is closed off by the thick canopy of vegetation. This could be bad since she is unable to see her pursuer. On the other hand, she cannot be seen through the blanket of leaves from anything flying overhead. This may be her only chance to relax.
She gasps sharply as she tries to calm her hyperventilated breathing. Her body fights for oxygen. Since her adventurous romp through forest, she has not had the chance to catch her breath. She takes in a breath and holds it but to no avail. Her lungs fight for more. She tries again and again and again. Soon she is able to calm herself down enough to where she can think clearly. The woman looks around the area. To her left, right and directly ahead are three more large oaks. This area sits directly between Tulpaar and Tulpex. Realizing that she is halfway home, she looks above again. There nothing out of the ordinary there. She slowly scans the surrounding area. All seems well here too. Only when she finally feels that she is safe does she breathe a heavy sigh of relief. The woman takes this moment to look herself over. Cuts and scrapes ran the length of her arms. The small cuts are most likely from the branches, leaves and other shrubbery she fought through to get here. The larger gashes, she surmised, were received when she fought off her winged attacker. She knew it had wings because she felt the erratic gusts as it clawed at her to carry her off along with her friend. Reaching down, she tears off a piece of her tattered dress and binds the wound on her right forearm. She does the same for her left. The woman flips back her curly red locks full of leaves, pedals and other pieces of vegetal life from her face. She scans the area once more and notices something odd. Where she heard the songs of toads and crickets there is now silence. The light rustles of the canopy above have also gone quiet. Dread began to set in. The red headed woman held her breath and flattened herself against the large oak again. She could sense something ominous. She could sense it above her head. She lifts her head even though every ounce of her being screamed at her to run.
Glowing red eyes peer back at her from the leaves above.
She opens her mouth to scream as those eyes dive straight at her.
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