Sunrise pried through the wind-flicked, egg-shaped leaves of the lush alder trees. Arwyn stirred reluctantly from loaded slumber. Dew dampened her cheek and the right side of her creamy linen shift. The empty clearing encircled her, the fae revelers veiled from view. Alone, she rose, stepping through the upright clubs of white-flowered bear grass, the toothed edges of stem-wrapped leaves catching at her hem. Evergreen scented the cool mountain breeze that caught in the tangle of her hair. She approached the edge of the clearing and peered past the sheltering alders. Daunting, massive Western Hemlocks frowned at her with furrowed, brown bark, roots spread with ensnaring purpose over the coarse woody debris. Scant light pierced the pendulous branchlet tips, shading the path with chilling secrecy. Ravenous wolves slunk through the shadows, anticipating her attempt to return down the mountain trail. Agony awaited her with abstemious claws, should she choose to leave again.
Arwyn turned from the forest and stepped back into the middle of the clearing. She descended into the damp depression her benumbed body had made, closed her opaque eyes, and waited for the soft hum of faerie wings to surround her once more.