Chapter 1: On the Run

Panting. Running. Stumbling. Running, again. The process repeated itself as Anna weaved in and out of the forestry. The brush and bramble viciously attacked her bare feet, but there was no time to stop and try to soothe them. She had to keep running, or they would catch her. That was not happening again; she would not allow it.

Snow started to fall as she ran. A brief glance to the sky told in volumes that she had to find shelter before it became too dark and the snow became a problem. There had been many caves and cliffs where she could have easily bunked down in for the night, but fear had driven her to go as long as she could. Leo catching her would be worst than chancing getting lost in the wilderness or eaten by any wildlife hanging around.

Judging the amount of daylight she had left, Anna pressed on further into the wilderness. She was making good time. Fear-driven adrenaline helped her speed as it thumped quickly through her veins. However, adrenaline can only do so much. Anna was exhausted and her eyesight was being hindered from the dimming light, so she did not see the small crevasse in the rock before her. Her foot got caught and caused her to trip. When she tried to pick herself up again, her foot was caught and she was pretty sure that some of the bones in her ankle were broken, judging from the loud and painful protest she experienced as she tried to pull free.

Anna gave frustrated grunt as she hit the dirt with a small fist. A move she soon regretted, because as she did so she caught the attention of a ferocious looking animal that she was pretty sure was a bear. Yet, it couldn't be a bear. It's snout was too long and the facial structure wasn't right.

Whatever it was, was huge, scary and looking right at her with yellow eyes. Suddenly getting mauled was not looking as nice as she thought. Nicer than getting caught by Leo, but ugly all the same. The monster was now walking right towards her, curiosity peaked. Anna tried to make herself as small as possible out of instinct, but the beast was not deterred and she was having trouble curling up into a small ball with her foot caught in the crevasse. The beast strode forward sniffing the air and Anna. Suddenly it turned away and disappeared into the brush from which it had come from.

Anna gave a sigh of relief before turning her attention to her foot. If she could get it free, she could find shelter and set the break there. Gingerly applying pressure as she tried to maneuver her foot into a position where it would be the easiest to remove from the hole sent pain lacing up leg. Biting her cheek, she was able to stay quiet, but she wasn't getting anywhere. "Seems like you are stuck, Miss."

Anna's head whipped around fast enough to give her whiplash to see a man standing there in a red flannel shirt and jeans. His long black hair was loosely secured in a leather thong at the base of his neck so as to keep it off of his face. The man was easily six feet tall and well muscled. Anna's eyes widened in response.

The man approached slowly as if he was scared of frightening her off, which was impossible with her foot trapped in the rock. He was calm as he examined her foot and smoothly, almost effortlessly freed her foot from the rock. She was not completely free, however, because he held her foot in a firm but gentle grasp. "It's broken." The two words were said in such a way that showed clinical indifference and concern at the same time. The concern in his voice was what made Anna stare at him. She had not heard concern for her in a long time and had almost come to the point where she thought concern was nothing but a myth.

Her silence drew his gaze up to her face. He noticed her perplexed expression. She look as if she was deciding whether to try to bolt or not. "You'll need to get this look at."

She shook her head before she finally found her voice, "No, no time." Another head-shake and then she was rattling off, "I really appreciate your help, but I really have to go. Now. Thanks again, now can you please let go of my foot. No seriously, I have to go. I can't stay. It's fine. I have to go. They'll be coming, in fact they are right behind me. I have to g-"

He put a hand over her mouth to silence the constant stream of words she was spouting. The stream did not stop immediately, but rather continued on being muffled as if she had not realized that his hand was there. Only when she stopped to take a breath did she quiet. "My brother is a doctor. He can set it quickly and you can be one your way." She shook her head again and mumbled something that sounded like 'no time'. "You won't get far with a broken ankle." He could see that she was wavering now, so he pressed on. "Once the bones are set you can leave. No one will force you to stay."

Anna was quiet for several moments before she finally nodded in consent.