“Uh … I don’t mean to put a damper on things,” a hesitant voice broke in, somewhere about five feet behind her, at thigh-level, as she scrambled on hands and knees over a moss-covered log, “but I don’t think we’re supposed to go this far. Norie! Norie!” Some huffing sounds as the speaker stepped up his pace to catch up with her. “Tirlina, I don’t think we should let her go this far! I mean, seriously, this isn’t a good ide- OOMPH!”
The sudden, and forceful exhalation of air, accompanied by a definite sound of tumbling, was enough to make her stop and turn, hands on trousered hips, and look back impatiently. A rustling among the leaves on the near side of the log was all that she could see. These woods were always at mid-autumn, with the trees still clad in some colors but with enough starting to bare that the ground was covered; elsewhere, further, along turns that even she knew she was not yet permitted to take … and perhaps never would be permitted to take … every branch was stripped, except for those of the silent and brooding firs, and even they lay in winter and ice.