"WHAT ARE YOU?" A voice spoke, startling the little girl as she whipped around to its source. The little girl instantly froze at the creature before her, for it was nothing like anything she'd ever laid her eyes on within the swamp—

The luminescence of her own blood was a sight the little girl had never grown tired of. It entranced her -- so much in fact that she didn't notice the figure that was standing right behind her...

With a clear view, the little girl searched in every direction for the apparition, but it was nowhere in sight. As disappointment began to replace the adrenaline that pulsed through her veins, the little girl put a hand to her chin where the scratches from the trees began to sting. She pulled her hand away to see the violet blood on her finger tips cast a bright glow into the night. 

But the apparition kept going, farther and farther away until finally, it was gone. But the little girl wasn't about to give up. She ran faster and harder through the terrain until finally she encountered a dense wall of tightly woven moss-ridden branches that dared to stand in her way. With her shoulders leading the way, the girl charged through the interlocked branches with all her might until finally, she broke through and found herself in a surprisingly open space. It was a grotto of some sort, accompanied by a quaint, clear-watered pond in the middle that was seemingly unscathed by the darkness that consumed the rest of the swamp. 

But the apparition was getting away.The harder the girl tried to keep up, the farther the apparition slipped away. Then, just as the figure began to slip from her view, the little girl yelped, "Wait!"

Keeping up with the darkness was difficult. It moved with ease through and around the trees and vines because of its smokelike form.. Branches tore at the girl's fair cheeks. Thorns ripped at her arms and legs. The pain hailed little comparison to the pain the girl experienced during the harvesting ceremonies, (a memory she daren't recollect without necessity) so she continued on, captivated by the curious figure that lured her into the dark.

The little girl carefully descended the ladder that traced the trunk of the tree where her cage was housed and quickly scurried after the ghastly figure that snuck away deep into the night.

She peeked her head through the entrance to the cage just as the apparition disappeared through a dense patch of foliage within the swamp. Her eyes trailed down to the base of the tree from where her caretaker's hut sat in silence. Baelzerog must have been asleep, but the thought of him catching the little girl wandering outside of her cage terrified her far more than the monstrous crockwings she had encountered the last time she wandered away from camp.

Though intimidated, the little girl was intrigued. She raised herself from the floor and staggered toward the door, grasping for the bars to support herself as her weak and bruised ankles struggled to sustain her weight.

Discerning the creature that called the little girl was near impossible. All the girl was able to make out of the figure was a formless cloud of what shel could only describe as darkness.

"..come... child....."

The whisper dragged like the hiss of a snake as the girl turned her attention to the entrance of her cage. Her eyes landed on another flurry of sparks that flickered around the door. Within seconds, the heavy metal lock relieved a loud "clunk" before the gate slowly crept open, giving the little girl a chance to escape.


As the little girl began to inspect the cuff, a whisper caught her ear.

Radiant bits of sparks fizzled out from the cuff that glowed a tempting shade of purple the girl had never seen before. The shackle had been severed by the source of the sparks -- whatever that was -- therefore freeing the girl's ankle from her restraint.
Before the sunrise swept across the horizon, the little girl awoke to a peculiar sound coming from the foot of her bed. Her eyes shot open to her legs where the weighted shackle that Baelzerog had fastened so tightly to her ankle the night before had inexplicably come undone.