Hands, screaming, monsters, Lysette wasn’t sure what was real anymore. She remembered hearing her father and the feeling of many pairs of clawed hands grabbing her, something she still felt as she was dragged through the trees, but in her terror she could not piece them together into a coherent picture. Everything was a blur, her fear blocking out all but the most intrusive of details. She didn’t even notice when one of the creatures that carried her lost his grip and she bumped her head against a rock. Nor did she do anything but scream when the rest of them dropped her momentarily to tear the negligent beast into bloody ribbons before hoisting her back into the air and continuing deeper into the forest.
She did little but scream and keep her eyes screwed shut for the journey, so she noticed little but the clawed hands holding her aloft, but as the journey carried on she started to notice a strange sensation creeping into her mind. Something was calling to her, something dark, and as time went on the feeling got stronger and stronger. She was sure she could hear faint whispering too, but couldn’t make out any words. Her curiosity eventually overcame her fear and she dared to open her eyes, although what she saw sent her back into a frenzy of horrified shrieks and frantic struggling.
The creatures had brought her into a clearing, although one with a thick canopy preventing light from reaching the forest floor, illuminated only by sickly green flames dotting the glade. In the center of the clearing was what appeared to be a burnt and gnarled tree trunk, but the rest of the space was filled with scenes that would forever sear themselves into her psyche. There were hundreds of the monsters that carried her, maybe thousands, all either watching her or performing inconceivable acts of cruelty to the dozens of human captives suspended from overhanging branches or lashed to crude totems, cackling with demented glee as they did so. Among them were the men who tried to help her father rescue her, or at least what was left of them. The surviving member among them had been reduced to a fleshy lump, capable only of wriggling slightly and screaming almost as loud as she did.
The monsters didn’t even break stride as they passed through the surrounding carnage, and moved steadily towards the blasted stump in the center of the bloody glade. As they drew ever closer the whispering in Lysette’s head became a roar, although she still couldn’t make out anything intelligible. Nor did she care, her only focus right now was to break free from the grasping hands surrounding her and fleeing this living nightmare, all while keeping her eyes tightly shut so as to never witness it again. Unfortunately the creatures had other plans for her, and forcibly deposited her on top of the warped trunk at the center of the clearing. Almost immediately, Lysette opened her eyes. The voice in her head became clear now and the servants that had brought her to her rightful place at the throne of the forest, which was even now reshaping itself into a seat befitting her majesty, respectfully withdrew into the awed crowd of her whooping subjects who had pulled themselves from their art to celebrate the coronation of their queen. Lysette was home, and there was much work for her to do.


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