February 19 at 5:00 PM
Photo courtesy of IreneIs
Farron nodded at Alain, and leapt into the trees. He proceeded cautiously, careful not to shake the branches from which he sprung. The tail of the advance still a distance away, he took his time studying the former killing fields. Overrun with barren trees, the meadow facilitated his procession to the gatehouse. In place of its yields, thick brambles rested. Movement caught his eye, and he froze in the tree's embrace, staring down at the whip of thorns. The tangle did not twitch, and he bounded a tree over, certain the wind had tricked him.
The new tree was larger still, twisting up to the clouds. He gazed at the odd vines stringing down, gray tendrils made of bone. Teetering in the breeze, they clicked ever so slightly. Farron spied the meadow, noticing threads dangling from every tree along its edge, none too far apart. After careful consideration, he concluded that he'd seen similar work before, demarking boundaries of an ancient burial ground. He combed his sable locks with his fingers, and continued on.
Now overlooking the remnants of the manor and storehouses, Farron wondered where his men were. They had been instructed to circle the manor and adjacent dwellings until he arrived; but the trees were vacant. There was no trace of his men or Enura.
The flagging of torn cloth steadied him. He looked closer, unsure if his mind was also succumbing to the myths. The black thread concealed something more, and from his angle, it appeared to be a limb.
As he crept down, a bramble whipped around his leg. Farron slammed into the earth below, the wind taken from him. He tore free of the tangle, and gaped as they recoiled behind the tree.
Carefully, he stepped over to the rag, never taking his eyes off the willow. As he came upon it, he shook his head. Wavering in the wind, a stretch of fabric sagged, nothing more. There was no limb underneath, no sign of ill temperament, just bloody torn fabric. He had been driven by concern for his men, and ever more, curiosity.
As he took it in his hand, brambles spiraled around his wrist. It was a pathetic ruse, one that he easily ripped free. Enura must have known he was there; she merely wanted to play.
Suddenly a hail of flesh and blood rained down. Heads and limbs tumbled over the forest floor. "June?" he said as the brambles coiled around one of the pruned crowns, and absorbed it into its mass. As Farron turned, a vine of bones arced down like a scythe, severing him into two.