Chapter One: I Hear The Trees Scream
The silence was the worst for Anya. The birdsong and insect buzzing had filled her spirit with joy; it had gone since he came. Anya reminded herself it was no one's fault; the ancient scrolls foretold his coming. Every child knew of the dark one and his forces of evil. Mothers often reminded their children that if they were naughty, the dark one would come to take them away in the night.
The forest's stillness was too much. She prepared to head to the safety of home. That's when she heard them. The cries initially seemed unreal, like something from a nightmare, unseen and drifting closer with each breath. You throw your eyes open in the grip of fear; fear is gone, and you breathe deeply. This was not a dream. Anya was very much awake.
She quickened her pace past the singing brook, then crossed the old stone bridge that stood longer than anyone could remember.
"We shall endure the same as the bridge," Ayna said, then hurried on. Gojeck was not home, so she placed a kettle on the fire and added dry crispberry leaves to a large mug. Relaxed and warm, she sipped her tea and reflected on the day's events.
Remembering the distant sound filled with horrible pain was familiar, as if she had known it long ago. Helping herself to a spiced biscuit, she tried to place the memory. The details remained clouded, which only increased her apprehension. Best not to fret. She had dinner to prepare and laundry to fold.
She closed her eyes for a moment, and that's when an image flashed before her. Anya sat up and said, "The trees, I heard the trees scream." She stood, walked to the door, and listened. She heard nothing; flinging the door open, Anya marched onto the step and stood still, only the wind and nothing more. Maybe it was nothing anyway. The tuber stew awaited, and the groundnut pie needed baking before her husband came for high tea.
Later, Gojeck asked: "Might it have been a screech owl?" With great restraint, she reminded Gojeck that she spent her childhood caring for several owl families in the North Woods and would surely know a screech owl's cry. Silence fell over the table; the two typically shared their day passionately and excitedly. After the meal, they sat near the fire, discussing Morken and his gathering of Troth allies. Anya talked of the ancient scrolls that foretold of his coming.
"If it is our fate, why are so many discussing fighting those Troth devils?" said Gojeck. He stirred the coals, then asked, "Perhaps the scrolls say something about this?"
Anya decided to find Malak first thing in the morning and request his interpretation of this resistance.