Alfred gingerly squeezed his granddaughter’s shoulder, a hollow assurance, he knew. “The hour is old and yet this wretched siege still bays its horn.” “When is it going to end, Grandpa?” “Soon I think.” “Really?” Elsa perked up with a bright smile, a contrast to the dark hour. “Do not let joy win your heart yet.” “Why?” “We are losing.” “Should we pray, Grandpa?” “It’s past the time for prayer.” “But, isn’t that what you do?”
The forest watched Jared run. He could feel their eyes on him, even if he didn't believe it. He had grown to love these woods, and today he felt a part of them. He moved among them. Under branch, over fallen tree, around bush, and across stream, he ran, more akin to the forest than a passenger under its shadowy gaze.