She was dreaming. Yes, that was it. She looked around the dark, frozen forest and decided to enjoy it. Dreams this real were rare…she could almost feel her nose hairs freezing. She put all thoughts of the real world—and how much time she had left before her alarm clock inevitably rang—behind her and focused on her surroundings. Her feet, a little cold in their pseudo-ballet slippers and mismatching socks, stood on a patch of frozen, ice-encrusted moss. A dangling branch tickled the back of her neck and she turned. And gaped. The tree behind her was huge, wider than she had ever seen, and the bark was strangely smooth. Reaching up slowly, she ran a reverent finger over it. Something brushed her ear, blowing shivers down her neck, and she whirled. A narrow, frozen path stretched to her right. Silent, towering trunks rose up on each side, spreading branches framing the dark blue sky. Strands of sphagnum moss draped elegantly over branches, a pale green contrast to the darker needles and moss peeked through the snow at the bases of the giant pines. The girl drew a shaky breath, feeling the utter stillness around her. The woods are silent, dark and deep… Choking on a sense of awe, she took a step towards trail. As her feet crunched through the thin crust of snow, she felt something swirl around her legs. She jumped backwards to her patch of moss, eyes wide, frantically searching the dimly lit ground. The gust of wind followed her, snow crystals swirling in its wake. She moved an arm and watched, bemused, as the air current shot off in the direction she had gestured, rattling tree branches, shaking iced bracken, and returning to swirl around her legs. Hmmm, strange dream. She must have left the window open. Gesturing to her companion, she set off towards the trail once more.
Sometime later, she began to wish that her alarm clock would ring. The semi-darkness made it difficult to see the trail, and she had stumbled sideways into thickets or snow banks more times than she could count. What's more, her feet were damp and cold, and she couldn't feel her toes. The gust of wind had behaved a little like a dog at first, chasing off into the trees at the slightest provocation and returning to ruffle her hair, but now it followed sedately at her heels, as if sensing that she was too tired to laugh anymore. She trudged on, thinking. She could not remember ever having a dream like this before, but maybe this was what those REM dreams were like, the ones you never remembered once you woke up. Was this her brain's way of recharging, getting rid of useless information, processing new? Then why could she feel everything so well? Maybe she had left the window open, and now was in the latter stages of hypothermia. It sure felt like it. But then why hadn't she woken up yet? She gasped as her foot punched through the snow, trapping her to the thigh. Damn it—not again! She muttered under her breath as she crawled forward, pulling her leg out of the hole. Taking her shoe off, she clutched her frozen foot to her stomach and shook the snow off of it. Why couldn't she have dreamed of surfing in Hawaii, or at least walking through woods in proper boots! Although, she thought, smiling slightly, this was actually the most realistic situation. She wasn't very good at thinking ahead.
She froze, halfway to her feet. Something had crunched behind her. Whirling, she stared between the huge trees. Nothing. She tried to breathe as quietly as possible, although her heart was pounding. Nothing in the branches above her, nothing over there but a familiar swirl of snow…her pulse slowed. She wasn't completely alone, no matter how spooked she felt. Suddenly something cold and metallic pressed against the nape of her neck.
"State your name and business."
She remained silent, mind racing. What the hell?! Oh. Liam. He had come into her room, and, being his usual idiotic self, had failed to notice her hypothermic state and was now waking her up by poking her with something. Without reason or warning, fury rose up. Whirling, she screamed,
"Get the hell away from me!"
The cold was incredible. Snow rushed past, instantly numbing her ears as the huge bearded man sailed through the air, crossbow torn from his grasp. He slammed against a tree and slid to the ground, the violent wind fading as quickly as it had appeared. The man stared in horror at the figure in front of him. What was she? He had to tell--
"Oh, god. You're not Liam. Who are you? What do you want?"
The girl took a step closer, too focused on the pale, bearded man before her to hear the quick crunching steps behind her back. But she did feel the club crash into the back of her head.