The wind moaned, whipping the crackling leaves into a haunted dance through skeleton branches. Something grabbed at my hair and I gasped, hands swatting at my invisible attacker. But it was only a leaf. A sad, dried-up, brittle thing that crumbled to dust between my fingers.
My feet carried me forward into the darkness, marching to the cadence of my pounding heart. Twigs clacked like brittle finger bones in the dripping light of a harsh, cold moon and an owl hooted softly in the boughs above. Some small creature let out an unearthly shriek from the shadows and my steps stuttered on the uneven path, stones and sand sliding from beneath my precarious footing. I stumbled to the ground, feet tangled among roots and creepers. I lay there a minute just holding my breath.
The forest was silent, everything still after my raucous tumble. A puff of wind ruffled my hair, foul air like the inside of a rotting grave. Trembling, I lifted my gaze.
And peered into a forest of gleaming eyes.