Darkness. That's all I saw the moment I stepped into the woods. The warmth of the fire in my small cottage was gone, now replaced with the bitter chill of the wind that sliced through the trees. I barely noticed though, with my heart pumping hot blood through my veins at an alarming rate. Fear of fate was a feeling I had never once endured, never thought I would have to, yet now I was running, and everyone knows that fate is something that can not be outrun.

Upon leaving my home, I had managed to grab two things – my hunting jacket and my rifle. Thankfully the rifle was loaded, but I didn't have on me any more ammo. I would have to chose my targets very carefully.

My feet were running before my brain had even told them to. It was an action driven by fear. I could just barely see the objects around me, the trees obstructing my path, but somehow I managed to dodge them with perfect accuracy. I was seeing and hearing and feeling, but I didn't notice at all. The only thought on my mind was that I had to run, had to get as far away from this place as possible, before it was too late.

When I felt like I was far enough away, I stopped to get my bearings. I stood there, doubled over and panting to catch my breath, and waited for something to happen. It wasn't the darkness or the feeling that I was completely alone that was so frightening, but the knowledge that I wasn't alone, that there were eyes everywhere.

I finally managed to stand up and shake off the feeling, stretching my arms and legs. Slowly but surely, my ability to react on thoughts instead of mere instinct was coming back. Along with that came the memories. Thirty days. I had thirty days to get to the city of Ralor "or else". I had no idea what came under the title "or else", but I didn't plan on finding out.

Under normal circumstances it wouldn't be hard to get to Ralor. It might have taken ten days tops. That wasn't the case now. It was all a game, one of Zarek's evil, twisted, horrid games. And his games were hardly ever won.

Before I could even devise a plan, I heard a loud noise coming from a few miles behind me. As I turned, I could just barely see the cloud of smoke and dust rising beyond the trees. Red hot flames danced in the distance. It was clear as day what had happened. With my home destroyed, I couldn't back out now. There was only one way to go – towards the city of Ralor.