Golden hues decorated the forest floor. Red, orange, yellow, amber, ochre, brown. The sun was dropping away now, leaving behind rays of temporary colour. It was cold out and the winter ice had begun to form, thin and clear. The north winds had started and the animals were readying to sleep. An owl screeched from far away and dried leaves rustled in the wind. The low howl of a wolf cry echoed from far away.

Mystical. Alluring.

The forest was untouched by humankind, it was a place only the Feu pack wolves knew of; a sacred retreat they rarely visited, but protected with all they could. It was where their ancestors had built a pack, begun a home. And to preserve that, they left it be, allowing mother nature to take charge.

It was serene and it was peaceful. And from there, the entire world looked still, and maybe it was still. You could just stay there, seated under a maple tree, sipping on tea, and watch the sun rise and then fade away over and over again. And you would never feel anything change. As if you were stuck in an enthralling time loop.

It was utterly beautiful. So calm, so refreshing. But there was something about it that said wait, wait patiently. Because there was always a perfect moment to shatter.

And it did shatter. The ice shattered.

A scream sounded through the forest. Birds screeched back harsh responses as they flew away in fear. Idle deer fled fast into the bushes. The forest had been disturbed. A steel bullet ricocheted through the thin air, right before a heavy splash echoed. Sounds were too much.

But then there was silence. Death like silence.

A dark hooded figure stood at the edge of the lake, silver eyes gazing intently at the broken ice. His features were sharp and impersonal. He looked dead, cold and lifeless, like a ghost; like an omen.

A gaping hole looked back at him from the lake. His muffled boots moved steadily as he advanced towards it. He knew how to survive on thin ice, he had done it most of his life.

He blinked and exhaled calmly tilting down his shotgun and pocketing it in his open jacket. White smoke wafted around him, leaking from a cigarette stuck casually between his teeth. The water under the ice was moving rapidly, the current was strong and harsh, dragging down everything in its path.

His lips twitched slightly and a small sadistic spark ignited momentarily in his dead eyes. So now he was sure that she would struggle. That she would have to fight to survive. But after all, that was the point. Thats what he wanted. Thats what he needed. That was the deal.

Because if it doesn kill you, it makes you stronger.

A second passed. So did another. And one final second later the silence broke again. It was the sound of pounding from beneath the ice. The heavy thuds made the entire lake tremble… there was raw frustration and fear in those sharp movements, t

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