SETTING Two small children, a young boy and his sister, hastily scuttle across the sodden grounds of the marshland known as Feigning Bog. Their feet plunge into the thick sludge of the ground, toes gathering an assortment of twigs, leaves, and stones, while leaving behind shapely, sunken footprints with each passing step. Their lungs were tiring and gasping deeply for a break, their mouths chomping at the stale air as it blew against them. They hopped over low branches, weaved around thorn bushes, and yanked their feet up from the maw of the muck that had engulfed them. But they weren't just sprinting through the swamp without reason, not in these deepest hours of the night, where creatures of all kinds skulked under the light of the moon hoping to stumble upon a small, tasty child hobbling by. But what a delicious meal for a most fortunate monster: Fear induced adrenaline pumping through the veins of the prey always tasted better than a meal who wasn't afraid, or what was more likely to be found, the remains of a long-dead carcass. But the fear plastered across the small boy’s face hinted that they were running from something else, something worse than what they could find lurking in darkness of the swamp. They continued trotting through the swamp, never looking back and never slowing down, but staying attentive to the sounds that surrounded them and the ones that pursued them. Only when they were absolutely sure that the pursuer had given up did they come to a halt, the small boy in the front practically collapsing under his heavy wheezing, arms wrapped around his belly. For the moment, they were safe. The younger child, the boy, turned and reached down into his satchel. What he pulled out brought a smile to his face: a pair of big, red apples. It was the fruits of their labor, so to speak: a successful pillage on a local village for food. They had managed to scavenge a small amount of food from a small market in a nearby town while the stall was unattended. The faerie boy handed one of the morsels to his older sister, but he paid no mind to etiquette as he bared his pointed teeth and tore into the flesh of his own fruit. He gulped the large bites almost as heavily as he had been gasping for air. The juices splattered across his tinted cheeks as he happily devoured the meal. It was the first piece of food they had seen in almost three days. But as with most pleasantries, this one was quick to pass. Suddenly, before his teeth could strike the doomed fruit once again, he froze mid-bite. His eyes lifted from the apple to his sister. The blue pearls of his gentle eyes had narrowed with a paralyzing fear. The hairs scattered on the nape of his neck stood on end. He felt something strange, a moist, warm breeze pulsing against the back of his neck. There was something behind him, something close enough to expel its pant right along his neck, and its breath was densely perfumed with the smell of rotting flesh. The boy didn’t look back; he didn’t want to see the pair of glowing red eyes, narrow and hungry, stared at the back of his skull. A thunderous howl boomed from behind the pair of eyes, another creature announcing the surprise attack on the children. The apple dropped from his lips to the muck below, soiled, and never had he turned so quickly to confront what was behind him. Two barhests, the hellish hounds of the marshlands, sprinted out from the darkness at the children. Both wolves chomped their salivating teeth in hunger as they pounced at their prey.