It was twilight when the girl crept out of the village. The sun had just set and the sky had softened to shades of violet, pink and blue. Cold, biting wind slapped the bare skin of her face. The girl cringed, drawing her shabby, worn brown cloak tighter over herself. Her hood was drawn over head, casting her face in shadows. Only a single rebellious lock of bright pink hair peeked out.
Before too long, the winding path finally led her to her destination. The girl gulped and stopped dead, looking with wide eyes.
The Hollow Woods spread out before her.
She could see faint outlines of huge, gnarled trees, tea-green leaves and black coloured bark. The rest was hidden by mist and cloaked in writhing shadow. Something danced between the trees, jumping from shadow to shadow. The girl's heart raced, her palms were unpleasantly clammy. She gulped. Her whole body shook with instinctual, reflexive fear. Whispers could be hear on the wind, dark and eerie and just a touch off.
No matter how often she did this, it never got any less unpleasant.
The girl took a deep, shuddering breath. It rattled in her lungs, filling her to the bursting, then rushed out in a sudden exhale. She clutched something in her hands, a large basket whose contents were covered in plain white cloth.
With a grimly determined look on her face, Yuzu entered the Hollow Woods.
The Hollow Woods had earned their name.
Everything, every tree, every leaf, every blade of grass, even the wind and the mist, seemed... empty. Lifeless. A shade off from what they were supposed to be. There was a lurking presence too. Tired and hungry and eldritch. (That was what scared people the most about this place; the feeling of being watched. The constant paranoia that they were far from alone in those woods.) Any soul lucky enough to leave unharmed spoke of a sort of dark hunger in the Hollow Woods, insatiable and all-consuming.
Yuzu knew exactly what that hunger was.
Or rather, who.