The bitter winds of the Midnight Forest filtered through the ancient trees. Animals scampered to their dens as lightning bolted across the sky, illuminating the tree tops. A woman was running through the forest clutching a bundle of cloth to her body. Her eyes were bloodshot as if she had not slept in days, but she kept running with the grace and balance of a deer. Suddenly a dark watery shape appeared before her, creeping stealthily along the shadows of the trees it advanced. The woman seemed to be suddenly paralyzed with fright, for she did not run any farther. “Give me the child,” it hissed moving closer to the woman. Even though she quaked with fear the woman answered, “No.” More hissing issued from the blackness. “Then I shall have to take it by force!” Suddenly enveloping the woman in its darkness it hissed louder than ever, so that it seemed as if the entire forest was a giant snake. Wailing the woman threw the bundle into a clump of bushes, her last tears falling onto the bundle. Then with a great sigh she collapsed, her whole face contorted with agony. The hissing turned almost into a “purr” as the dark shape moved toward the bushes. It parted its way through the shrubs and started searching, like an animal that has finally cornered its prey. Five minutes pass . . . then ten . . . Then like a razor blade the darkness slashed through the bushes, scattering leaf and twig everywhere. The hissing started again and it went into a fury of slashing biting and ripping until no more bushes occupied that area. Then with a swirl of its cloak it disappeared even before the echoes of its cries had vanished.
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