The forest was quiet; the only sound the cold wind that swept through the canopy of tree branches. A chilly mist permeated the air, making it freezing and damp to the touch. The place was bathed in a gray sort of twilight, pale moonlight falling in dappled patterns across the ground where it had managed to break through the blanket of leaves high above. An ethereal beauty hung about the place, haunting, but almost peaceful. The ancient trees stood tall and silent, like solemn sentries. There was a stillness about them that could not be broken, even by the lone figure trudging through their midst.

The crunch of his boots over the fallen leaves was no louder than the wind in the branches, the swish of his cloak barely a whisper. In his right hand was a sword, unsheathed, the blade reddened from a previous battle, and on his face was a look of grim determination. His stride was slow but purposeful, as that of a doomed man walking towards his fate. A sudden gust of wind tousled his dark brown curls and sent his green cloak flapping behind him, but if it chilled him, he gave no sign. Only continued his slow, stately march, letting the tip of his sword drag along in the frozen soil until a long, furrowing line followed his staggering boot prints.

And suddenly, he stopped.

There was a muffled clang of steel as the blade's hilt slid from his fingers and his beautiful, bloodied sword fell to the ground. His face paled to the stricken white of a ghost, and his shoulders slumped in defeat. Before him lay the battleground, the defeat, the massacre. Before him lay his home, nothing more than a charred-black ruin.