The pain in her side pulled her from the daze. She sat up and brushed away the dirt that clung to her face. Darkness was taking over and the sound of the forest resonated through the air. She swung her head around as an owl hooted from about her, jumping again from the far off rat-a-tat of a woodpecker. The forest was alive, awakening from the slumber even as the sun slipped below the horizon. She wasn’t usually so jumpy, but even she made sure to be safe inside her tree when the sun left the trees looking like monsters from her nightmares.
Nobody but Eris ever ventured this far into the forest. The villagers took what they needed from the fringes, careful not to upset any of the creatures that lived inside. All the children learned of the horrors that lay within from stories told on Samhain in hushed voices around the bonfire.
She had her share of sleepless nights when she was younger where those horrors came to fill her head with taloned fingers, bloodshot eyes, and large mouths big enough to swallow her whole. But in all her years living in the woods, the wolf was the only monster to ever come out.
Eris stood, wondering if the soldier had killed the wolf. She frowned and looked around the surrounding trees. She looked around with little hope of seeing much of anything in the dark. She could just make out the shape of the owl up on its perch where it watched her with yellow eyes. The rest of the forest lay in shadow.
The tree boughs sheltered her from the wind and snow, but she continued to shake. She wrapped her arms around her body being careful to keep away from the bandaged wound. Taking one step and then another, she pushed onward through the brambles, finding her usual path towards home. Everything would be okay once she was safe in her tree.