A thunderstorm. Torrents of rain fall to earth, each drop the size of a large coin, pummeling anything unfortunate enough to be out on a night like this. The lightning flashes in the distance, illuminating the sky for an instant before becoming dark once more. The crash of the thunder, loud enough to make the ground shake. The sound of the wind, howling violently through the rustling leaves of the trees, driving the pelting rain sideways, every which way. The heavy drops seem no longer to come from the sky, but from a land far away, the home of the winds.

I had managed to find some pitiful shelter among the trees after the storm began, but not enough to keep dry.

Already am I soaked through, my skin feeling as does the clammy cold of a fish in an icy pond. My limbs shake as I cling to this branch, determined to hold out until morning, yet barely having the strength to try. I had had enough trouble climbing this tree to begin with, but if I fall out... I will never regain my perch and might die by drowning. Already I can see the water rushing beneath me, rising steadily every moment.

You mustn't think of that, I tell myself, then you truly shall fall. Just concentrate on holding this branch. Nothing else matters.

The storm beats on, and I try to recall every other storm I've been in, but nothing is comparable. All those other times, I've had friends, or shelter, or the storm was less harsh... This time, I must rely upon myself.

My eyelids start to droop, and I can no longer feel my limbs, my fingers... Nothing but the cold.

Will I die here?

Suddenly, I'm wallowing in mud, completely submerged. I try to stand up, but the water rushes over me, keeping me down and closer to drowning, and death, every moment. I begin to lose consciousness. My arms and legs are cold, and heavy, like lead. I can no longer hear the water rushing around my ears, or see the flash of the lightning.

Will I die here?

Not willing to accept this fate, I summon the last of my strength and thrust one of my arms out of the watery muck, hoping to find something strong and solid to cling to and pull myself up with.

To my surprise, a hand grips my own and pulls me free of the rushing water.

I cough and gasp for air.

My rescuer holds me tightly, keeping me secure.

The rain has let up a bit. The wind is less strong.

I am barely able to keep awake. Looking up, I see the the dark sillhouette of my rescuer, but cannot see the face.

"Th-Thank you," I whisper hoarsely, barely audible. My vision begins to fade and I start to give in to dark oblivion, sure that I am safe now.

Just before my vision fades completely, a bright flash of lightning strikes, illuminating the face of my rescuer.

This fact barely registers before my mind goes blank.