~Tales from the Campfire~
“It was…maybe seven years ago,” Lina said as the group sat around the campfire, “back when I was working as a freelance bounty hunter. I was chasing a mark near New Paulson. I thought he’d try to hide in the city somewhere, but he just kept going north, all the way into the Red Forest. I’d heard stories about the place, about strange creatures and mysterious incidents and whatnot. Didn’t really put much stock in them back then, though. So, I followed him. Until you actually see the Red Forest with your own eyes, you really can’t appreciate it.
“There’s trees are far as you can see, millions of them. Only they aren’t green like in the old pictures, they’re red. As red as fire. When the wind blows through the forest, you can hear all those red leaves rustle and the trunks groan as they bend. There’s nothing I can think of to describe the feeling I got just being in that place for a few hours. I ended up following him for two days, probably didn’t sleep a bit during that time. Couldn’t even bear to close my eyes. Finally, I came upon his camp. And him.” Her voice got quiet, then, just a whisper. They all leaned in close to hear her.
“He’d been torn to shreds. It was so bad that I was only able to recognize him by the remains of his clothes. Something got to him. Something big and something mean and he was still warm so it hadn’t been gone for more than an hour. I listened, for a long time I just listened, but all I ever heard was the rustling of those leaves in the wind.”