The sweet afternoon sunshine glittered through the trees of Glen Conan, lighting up the red and gold leaves as they drifted to the ground. I watched them intently, utterly still, while my mother braided daisies into my hair.

"Isn't it beautiful, Echo?" she murmured. I smiled, my eyes fixed on a song bird that had flitted to a tree.

"Mama, why doesn't anyone else hear them?" I asked. The songbird chirped joyfully in the pine, fluttering its red-tinted wings.

"Hear what, my sweet?" my mother said, running a soft hand over my golden hair. I didn't like my hair. It was nowhere near as beautiful as my mother's; hers was soft and a deep red.

"The voices," I murmured, gesturing to the forest. "The wind and the trees. They speak too."

My mother nodded. "You have learned the voice of nature, Echo. It is exactly what I had hoped for."

I turned to face my mother. She was looking into the distance, her blue eyes wide. "If we had stayed with daddy," I began, "would I still hear the voices?" My mother looked at me sharply.

"No," she snapped. "Which is exactly why I took you away. You would have become spoiled and dependent on material things."

I blushed and looked away. A ladybug crawled towards me on a blade of grass.

"But…didn't you love him?" I felt tears pushing at my eyes.

My mother sighed, her expression sad. "Yes," she whispered. "But sometimes you must give away love, and let in something that will never break you." I let this sink into mind.

"Will I love someone, mama? When I'm older?"

My mother gave me a small smile and kissed my forehead. "Only if you know that there is nothing else to conquer your love." I smiled and hopped to my feet.

"Mama, I'm hungry!" I exclaimed. She laughed and stood up, taking my small hand in hers.

"Then let us get something for you to eat." We walked the path down to our cave, and I skipped and kicked rocks. It was so beautiful today. I wanted to run through the forest forever.

"I'll race you home, mama!" I giggled, letting go of her hand. She gave me a playful smile.

"I am very fast, Echo," she warned with a smile on her face. "Whoever loses has to clean the pot!"

"Ready, set, go!" I screamed, and took off in a full sprint down the path. I heard my mother's footsteps behind me, and I forced myself faster until I could hear her no more.

The cave in my sight, I skidded to a halt at the entrance. "Ha!" I yelled. "Beat ya Mama!" I turned to gloat my victory, but there was no one there.

"Mama?" I said, fear creeping into me. "Mama this isn't funny."

The forest was silent. A cloud had crept over the sun, and the world became covered in shadows. I began to walk back down the path, slowly speeding up into a jog, then to a sprint. My mother had disappeared.

"Mama? Where did you go?" I screamed, tears beginning to spill out of my eyes. "Come back! Come back!"

A red-tinted feather landed at my feet. My lip trembled; I picked it up with shaking hands. The breeze sprung up, and blew the feather out of my fingers.

She's gone…the wind whispered.

"No," I choked. My knees gave out, I sank to the ground. "No, no, no!"

She's gone…

A/N – Hello friends. So I am reposting this story under a different account, as I may have decided I hated the other one. I'm crazy like that. Anyway, I know this chapter is short, but it's a prologue. C'mon, guys. Also, I will post chapter one today as well, and that is much longer. Constructive criticism is very much appreciated, so reviews would be lovely ;) thanks for the read!