In the Gathering Gloom: In which she and he meet

(Listen as you read for a fuller experience.)

He craned his long, white neck around the trunk of a tree. His wiry fingers curled around a branch and held him as he leaned forward, sniffing the air for any lingering of her perfume. Nothing.

His lips narrowed in frustration as he peered as far as he could into the darkness in all directions. Even with his keen sight, all he could see were the twisting branches and fallen leaves intertwining with the cold mist.

After a long moment standing still and hearing nothing, he softly crept forward, winding his way through the tall, leaf-less trees, stopping here and there to again sniff, peer, and listen. Time and energy were no barriers to him. He would find her.

*******

She wound her way through the tall, leaf-less trees, stopping here and there to unstick her long coat from the rocks and twigs that tore at the fabric as she walked steadily through the forest. She had left before sunrise and had reached the forest before any light could show her leaving. It was now hours since then, and she welcomed the covering darkness of the dense forest.

She was hungry and thirsty and tired, but she had no thought of stopping, not yet. She had managed to bring one small bag of stolen food and water. If all went well, it would be enough, but she couldn’t use up what she had too soon. She would find him, kill him, and then she would have no more need, but it might still be some time before she did. He was clever and old, and he had done this many times. She was clever too, but she did not have his experience, and, she admitted to herself, probably lacked his patience. She had to be careful.

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