The forest was dark. No light; not the moon, not the stars, not the cities which huddled so very far away; could reach beneath the spreading canopies of the willows there. The only glow came from the river itself; a strange, ominous light in a soft, almost poisonous shade of green. The water slid away, around rocks too smooth and moss too dark, beneath the trees and down into a tunnel formed by the roots of an ancient maple.
The maple seemed almost out of place here, among the trailing strands of the river-side growth. It held its branches high and proud. Its trunk was shadowed, as though haunted, by the glimmer of the stream and the silence of the night. And curled into the safety of its branches, just out of reach of that terrible light, was a girl.