Winter passed by too quickly, and soon Spring was upon the Forest, and with the first Spring, instead of younglings playing rambunctiously amongst her little Clearing that she now calls home, those younglings are now closer to adults, and there’s a somber feel in the air.
She sighs sadly as the sounds begin filling the air; at first it’s footsteps and loud noises, followed by louder noises as the Forest floor reverberated with the sound of those things.
‘More death this year,’ she thinks to herself, as she looks to her Friends and nods her head before jumping up into the treetops.
The fighting picks up where it left off, as if it never stopped for the last couple dozen moons. She quickly reaches where she’d set the traps, and takes in the amount of destruction her traps have caused. Between the number of Invaders being caught in them, to the amount of things that were, at least for the time being, not billowing smoke, had left her surprised.
The first day of Spring passed without much injury or death to her Friends, though it would be the only one to do so.
As the season ran on, the Invaders kept trying to take her Forest from her. Eventually, they figured out there was a person harming them as well, not just the animals.
~9 months earlier
As Spring turned into Summer, they started attempting to catch this person. They set traps for her where they thought she’d attack, but as if she knew where they were being set, she avoided them entirely, leaving them unaffected or otherwise for the Invaders to get caught in them.
The Wolves had started dwindling, she noticed one Summer evening upon returning to her Clearing.
“Ahem,” a noise came from nearby.
She spun on her heels, spear ready in one hand and dagger ready in another, her face scrunched in anger, a growl escaping her lips.
The Invader put their hands up to show they were Friendly, though Spirit didn’t drop her weapons. Instead, she held them up tighter, with the Alpha wolves taking up positions to her right and left.
The Invader made an ‘uhhhh’ sound as they looked over this… person. She, at least, the Invader thinks they’re she, looked to be about 30s, maybe, and also looked like they didn’t understand the words being said.
Spirit looked to the wolves and softened up a bit, sitting down in between them as she pointed to a spot in front of her, keeping her weapons on her lap.
“Well, this is… unexpected,” Invader said.
Spirit shook her head to signal she doesn’t understand what’s being said, and turns her head to the Wolf on her right as she yips and growls, nodding in some amount of comprehension.
“So… You don’t understand me, but you understand the wolf?” the Invader said, while pointing between themself, the wolf, and the Spirit.
Spirit simply nodded as the Invader heard noises, like someone calling for them specifically, and left in a hurry.
~6 months earlier
The next few dozen moons, from Summer into Fall, the Invader came back night after night, and sat down without being asked, waiting patiently for Spirit to either acknowledge their presence, or come back from fighting elsewhere in the Forest.
On the last warm Summer night, the Spirit comes back, visibly bloodied and breathing heavily, though it’s obvious she patched herself up on the way back.
“Oh, uh, you’re injured…” the Invader starts as they stand up, only to trail off as Spirit holds up a hand.
Spirit points herself, then at her wrapped injuries as she shakes her head, as if to say, “I’m not worried about them.”
The Invader nods in some understanding before sitting back down.
Spirit nods in response and sits back down, though unlike before, she seems on edge, the Invader notices; though she isn’t the only one.
The Alphas on either side of her, and the wolves hiding at the edge of the Clearing, also seem on edge, as if they’re expecting to be attacked. Though it doesn’t come to her Clearing that night; as the Moon reaches its peak in the sky, the Invader leaves in silence, having been unable to talk to the Spirit any tonight.
“We attack them tomorrow,” a voice says as the Invader gets back to their camp.
“But why do we need to do this? They’ve been living here peacefully long before we tried to do anything; they’re only attacking in retaliation to us invading,” the Invader says.
“Hah. That’s what she wants us to believe, Sash,” a third voice says.
Sash just shakes their head and sighs, “No, it’s what I believe, having travelled through the forest and come back unharmed, several times.”
The other Invaders look at Sash apprehensively, “What do you mean?”
Sash shrugs their shoulders, “Exactly what I said. As long as you don’t seem like you’re trying to cause harm, they animals and this… Spirit, will leave you alone.”
The others look at Sash in disbelief, then share glances with each other before beginning to exclude them from the conversation, “Right.. Sash, I think you should get some sleep; being in the Forest is obviously playing tricks on you.”
It’s at that point, there’s a growl from nearby as a Wolf Sash recognizes as one of the Alphas leaps out of the darkness and rips open someone’s throat, before moving to the next target.,
A humanoid figure in the shadows that Sash barely makes out to be the Spirit locks eyes with Sash before shaking her head, proceeding to shoot an arrow at Sash’s shoulder, two more whistling by Sash’s ear as they embedded themselves into the Invaders behind Sash.
Sash turns and runs through the Forest, escaping the violence overtaking the Invaders camp as all they hear are the cries of their ‘comrades’ fill the void of the dark Forest.
Another wolf meets Sash somewhere in the darkness, and leads them around the fighting and back to the Clearing.
As Sash gets closer to the clearing, and the sound of fighting starts to get further away, they begin looking around for something to patch themselves up with.
“Where does she…” they start, before pointing at the arrow sticking out of their shoulder, hoping the animals in the Clearing understand.
One of the Bears moves towards a tent hidden off to one side and nuzzles at it. Sash simply nods in response and makes their way inside, pulling the arrow out after finding something to wrap the injury with, and keep the blood from pouring too much.
Sometime later, as the Moon became the Sun, Sash had fallen asleep inside Spirit’s tent.
Later that day, Sash awoke to not only having no clothes, but also fresh bandages, as well as having been cleaned, to some extent. They catch sight of Spirit standing in the center of the Clearing, staring at the sky as tears fall from their face, the only sound being that of her screaming in agony from the deaths throughout the last couple years.
“What… happened to the rest of my people?” Sash said, and tried to motion with their hands.
Spirit shook her head as she sliced a hand across her neck.
“Why… why did you let me survive?” Sash tried to motion with their hands.
Spirit shrugged her shoulders, pointing between themselves and Sash, motioning that Sash was the only one who wasn’t trying to kill her, and that was worth not killing someone for.
Sash sighed and shook their head, “Yea, I figured you were merely trying to protect your Forest,” they murmured.