The forest smelled of grass and cold. Walking back from the hunt Eilif was in very good spirits, feeling full  – and full of life. It was still dark, but the sun had started to egress, and the tree shapes became silhouetted against the grey sky.

Eilif didn’t like to linger in the forest, no matter how great he felt after hunting. He couldn’t escape the uncomfortable feeling that someone was watching him – and not indifferently – ominously. The forest made him unusually vigilant. Jumpy. He had never had claustrophobia, but the sweat broke out on his eyebrow, and he felt the trees crowding him from all sides. The high from the deer’s blood subsided, and he started feeling like a victim himself – about to be swallowed by eerie forces that lived among the ancient oaks. Or was it his imagination?

It was enigma to Eilif that Alyson felt so much at peace. She even stayed behind many times after he left and wandered around. “It is a place where the memories of everyday life evanesce into the vortex of timeless nature. You just have to find a way to bond with it,” she told him.

“What the hell are you talking about Alys?”