They stood unmoving in the sunlight.
‘I found them in the morning.
‘I had come out of the woods and felt uneasy as I stepped onto the new ground. I crept forward, keeping to shadows and hiding as I could. I had an unshakeable feeling that I was walking towards a trap and that soon, something would try to kill me, as so many other creatures in this damnable place have.
‘Instead, I could see a curious familial scene.
‘My eyes came upon a child and his parents, a pony in its traces. The cart it was to pull was filled with stones.
‘None of them moved.
‘Crouching down, I saw ants on the upturned earth, and each of them looked to be a carven image. It was as though some master artisan had come through and left behind works of immaculate beauty.
‘But I knew it not to be so.
‘There was something terribly wrong around me.
‘I stood up and approached the family with caution. I could see fear in their eyes.
‘No, not fear. Terror.
‘Every breathing creature was aware of what was occurring around it.
‘As I examined the scene before me, I felt my legs begin to stiffen. My blood, ancient and strong, fought against it. Deep within, the struggle continued, but I knew I would lose this fight. I knew it as one knows the rising and the setting of the sun and the shifting of the seasons.
‘I considered killing the family and the pony, putting them out of their misery, but then I realized that this might not work. What if I struck at them and the blood leaked from them? How long would it take for them to die? Days? Weeks?
‘I did not wish to make them suffer more.
‘Fighting the increasing weight of my limbs and the sluggish movement of my blood, I turned away and moved as swiftly as I could.
‘Around me, I heard the groaning of some beast. It was an angry, bitter sound and one I attributed to the creature which had imprisoned this world.
‘I did not linger to see what manner of monster could do such a thing.’