How did Arya get here? She was lying on her back with her eyes closed. She could tell she was outside because a light breeze swept her hair from her face. She brought her hands down to the ground and felt soft grass between her fingers. She opened her eyes to a blue sky; puffy white clouds drifted slowly by. Sitting up, she saw that she was surrounded by wildflowers. Red, purple, yellow. There were hundreds of vibrant petals, and Arya sat in an almost perfect circle of grass which they did not occupy. She stood up and scanned the area. In front of her and beyond the flowers was a lake. There appeared to be a grassy bridge leading to an island in its center. In the far distance there was a waterfall running into a river that Arya couldn’t quite see from where she stood. Behind her and all around her were trees. They were very tall and thick. It seemed much darker beyond the trees, as if the sun couldn’t reach into the forest. There was one tree that stood out from the rest. It was ten times bigger in diameter than the others, and it towered much higher. It was covered in moss, making it look very old. A chill ran through her as she stared into the forest’s depths. Arya hugged herself and turned toward the lake. Since going into the forest did not seem like a good option, she started for the bridge.
Arya stepped carefully through the flowers, not wanting to harm them. Before long the flowers transitioned into grass and she let her feet fall firmly on the ground with each step.
“Oh, gosh!” Arya let out a yell as she stumbled forward. Waving her hands wildly, she was able to regain her balance. She glanced back; there was a small hole in the ground where her foot had caught. It was about the size of her fist. It looked as though an animal might have made it. She stepped closer to peer inside. It was too dark to see if anything lay within. Arya got on her knees, squinted one eye and put the other near the opening.
Suddenly, Arya felt a tickling on her cheek. She jumped back in surprise. A furry head popped out of the hole, sniffing the air around it. With one hand over her heart, Arya tried to slow her breathing.
“That’s what I get for sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong,” she said aloud. “You’re a cute little thing, aren’t you?”
The animal tilted its head up at Arya. It looked like a chipmunk but with a long nose and a brilliant red coat.
“I don’t suppose you could help me? I’m lost. I don’t even know how I got here,” said Arya. She sat with her head in her hand, looking at the strange creature who was her only friend in this place. It came further from its underground home. A bit away from Arya’s foot sat an acorn. The chipmunk moved closer and snatched it up. It turned the nut over in its paws and sniffed it feverishly, its whiskers moving rapidly up and down. Apparently satisfied, it started gnawing into the nut. After scurrying in circles, the chipmunk returned to its hole.
“I guess you can’t help me then,” said Arya. “I’m sorry for tripping over your hole earlier.”
She stood up and continued toward the lake. Oddly, it seemed further away than it was before she got into conversation with the creature. The sun had come down to the point that light was glittering from the water’s surface. It made the island in the middle appear wavy. Arya could make out a dark shape in its center but couldn’t tell what it was.
Arya made it to the lake bridge after a short walk. There was an archway at its beginning; it was made of climbing vines which had pink and white flowers growing on them. It was only a head taller than Arya, so it appeared to be made for children. The bridge itself was made of earth but seemed impossibly so. The land arched up and floated above the water.
“Somebody must have made this,” thought Arya. She stood under the archway and considered the bridge. She wasn’t sure if the gravity-defying earth would support her weight. Tentatively, she stretched out one foot and lowered it onto the bridge. She leaned forward. The bridge did not waver. She brought her other foot forward. With more confidence, she bounced on her heels. Surprisingly, the bridge stayed perfectly still.
“Well there you have it, a magical floating bridge,” she said as she progressed slowly forward. The bridge was quite narrow, with only enough room for one person. Arya felt the need to walk sideways with her arms out for balance. Keeping her eyes on her feet, she stopped in the middle of the bridge. She raised her head slightly and took notice to the clear water of the lake. It was fairly deep, yet it was clear enough to see to the bottom. More eye-catching, though, was the fish. There were dozens of silver-scaled fish. They were all coupled with one another. Each pair was swimming in circles around each other. They moved very slowly and peacefully, so much so that the water remained still.
Arya caught herself with her mouth hanging open. Without realizing, she also noticed that she had lowered her arms. “How very odd,” she thought. Turning forward, she walked with more assurance than before.
Coming upon the island, Arya could see its center which held a large, turned over and hollowed out log. Sitting on it was another creature, but not like the one from earlier. For one, this one was much larger, about Arya’s size. She could only see the silhouette of its backside, but she could see that it had large ears.
The creature turned around to face Arya. “Hello,” it sang. “I was wondering when you’d make it across that bridge.”
Arya could see now that it was a human, not an animal. It was a girl a little younger than Arya, who was nine. The large ears had confused her because the girl was wearing footie pajamas that looked like a mouse costume. She looked very cozy with the onesie zipped up to her chin. The big ears drooped, and she even had a tail that was long enough to touch the ground and gather dust. She looked a little sad like she might be lost, too. She smiled at Arya, though, happy to have company.
“Hi,” Arya replied. “Um, did you know I was coming here?”
“I saw you over by the arch. I would have shouted for you but you seemed very focused,” said the girl. She patted the log where she sat. “Come and sit with me.”
Arya sat next to her. She asked, “What’s your name? Are you lost, too?”
She fidgeted and looked down at her paw feet. “Sort of,” she replied. Glancing back up at Arya she said, “My name’s Lacy.”
“I’m Arya. I’m looking for a way home. I don’t know how I’ve gotten here and I don’t remember being anywhere near a forest. I need to get back to my family. Do you know how to get out? What happened to you? How long have you been here?” asked Arya.
Lacy sighed and crossed her arms. “Arya, you seem really nice,” she said. “I wouldn’t want—um…this place can be very dangerous.” She bit her lip and would not look Arya in the eyes.
Arya peered around the lake and the land beyond, confused. “I don’t understand,” she began. “This place seems peaceful with the flowers and this lake. I mean, I’ve seen some odd looking animals but they were harmless. What could be dangerous about it?”
Lacy had her shoulders hunched up with her chin to her chest. She turned her head away from Arya.
“Lacy, please,” Arya pleaded. “I need to know what it is so maybe we can both get out of here.”
Lacy took a long, collective breath that sounded shaky. As she brought her head up and toward her, Arya could tell that she was fighting back tears. “This is a scary place,” Lacy stammered. “I’m afraid that you might be the next girl to be chosen by the shadow man.”
Arya furrowed her brows. “I don’t—”
“—He’ll chase you,” said Lacy, suddenly gaining the courage to look her in the eyes. Lacy took Arya’s hand in her fuzzy one. “Into the forest. And if he catches you, you’ll die. He’s an awful man, if he is a man. He preys on lost children. It’s like a game to him. He won’t run after you, he just floats slowly behind. He’ll try to confuse you by asking questions that don’t make any sense, and he—he…” Lacy gasped and began sobbing. Arya put her arms around her and held her tightly. Lacy’s body shook against hers.
Arya turned to look at the dense forest in the distance; it looked ominous now that the sun was beginning to set. She patted Lacy’s back and cooed softly, “It’s okay, Lacy. We’ll get out of here before he comes.”
Lacy pulled away and sniffled, her shoulders slumped. She wiped her nose with her sleeve. “No,” she said. “We can’t escape.”
“How do you know?” Arya asked. “How do you know about this man? The shadow man?”
Lacy peered up into the sky, the tears now dried from her face. “Because I was the last one to be chosen.”
“What?” Arya stood up and stepped in front of Lacy. “But look at you! You’re here now, he didn’t catch you. If you can get away then I can, too, if you help me. And then we can find a way out!”
Lacy stammered, “But Arya—”
“—we can go home! You can even come with me if you need to, my parents are lovely. I’m sure they’d—”
“Arya!” Lacy shouted and stood up to face her. “I can’t leave. I can’t go with you, because… he did catch me.”
Arya took a step back. “But that would mean…y-you—”
“Yeah,” whispered Lacy. “I’m dead.”
“I’m so sorry, Lacy. I didn’t know,” said Arya. She put a hand over her mouth. She didn’t know what to say.
“It’s alright,” Lacy tried to reassure her. She looked to the sun which was quickly disappearing behind the distant waterfall. “It’s not too late for you. He’ll be coming soon, and I have to go. Run into the forest and do what he says. Just don’t let him touch you, because that’s how you lose.”
Arya tried to reach for Lacy’s hand, but it went right through her. She was starting to fade away. “I don’t know if I can do this alone,” worried Arya. “Please don’t go.”
“I have to,” Lacy responded. Her body became more transparent, almost nothing now. “You can do this, Arya.” Her body was entirely gone, though her voice still echoed, only to be carried off by the wind.
Arya stood on the island alone. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself; it was much colder now that the sun had set. The whole of the forest clearing was still surprisingly bright. The lake seemed to glow a faint blue. When Arya stepped to the edge, she could see that the silver fish still swam in the same circular pattern. She looked back to the flower patch where she first awoke; the flowers were also glowing. Clusters of small, pulsing lights floated among the vibrant petals. They were different shades of pink, giving off a light that softened the darkness around them.
Arya turned back to look at the waterfall. She wondered how long it would take for the shadow man to arrive and what she should do to prepare. Should she hide? Is that against the rules?
There was no time to find any answers to her questions. In the distance, within the waterfall, a figure emerged. It was completely black. It didn’t look like a solid object, but a lack of one. A void. Arya got a chill throughout her entire body; she felt every hair stand on end. It was not the cold that caused this. The sight of the shadow man terrified her. For a moment, she was unable to move. Her legs would not listen to her mind, which was telling her to run. The shadow man was gliding fast towards her, covering the great distance from the waterfall to the lake in that short moment. This was when Arya found her strength to run.
She sprinted to the earthy bridge, not watching her step nearly as carefully as she did upon her first crossing. As she passed through the small archway, she noticed a difference in the line of trees that marked the beginning of the forest. The large, moss-covered tree now had a tunnel cut into it, big enough for her to go through. “That definitely wasn’t there before,” thought Arya. She consciously avoided the hole of the chipmunk creature and began to run through the flowers.
Immediately upon stepping into the radiant petals, she realized that it wasn’t the flowers themselves that were glowing; the pink lights were insects. They were all sitting on the petals, but now they all started floating upwards. Arya did not have time to worry about disturbing the insects, although they were beautiful and reminded her of fireflies. She became engulfed in the pink light that they gave off, sheltering her. She hoped that the shadow man wouldn’t be able to see her. She came to the circle of grass in the middle of the flowers and stopped. Just like the flowers, the fireflies refused to occupy this space. Beyond the grass they were all around her and above her, but not within reach.
She slowly turned around in the circle, captivated by all the luminescent insects. In her bewilderment, she forgot which way she was headed. Arya turned her head side to side, trying and failing to see through the swarm. “Oh no,” she thought. “He must be getting close. I have to get out of here.” She was about to choose a random direction when to her right came a blast of light. She turned and saw that the pink lights were pulsing much brighter in this direction than from the others. Arya took it as a sign and decided to run that way.
She stopped short, however, when she noticed that the lights were beginning to fade from the direction she had first decided to go in. Arya’s heart skipped when she saw why. Slowly, the shadow man was making his way through the fireflies. With an outstretched hand, he pointed what looked like an index finger at Arya.
“Go to the forest,” a low, gravelly voice echoed in Arya’s head. She knew that it came from the shadow man, but it sounded like her own thoughts. Her eyes widened as he came closer with his pointed finger. His whole body was void of any features: no nose, ears, mouth, or wrinkles. The only thing that constituted him as a man was his shape.
Just as Arya was about to turn and run toward the brightest fireflies, one of them came within the grassy circle and passed by Arya’s cheek and toward the shadow man. Feeling anxious to leave, she inched toward the edge of the circle but kept her eyes on the brave firefly. It landed on the shadow man’s extended finger. Arya gasped, expecting it to die on contact, but it simply sat there. Arya squinted at the pink glow. “Am I crazy?” she thought. The light of the firefly against the darkness of the shadow man seemed to peel away the void. Underneath, Arya could make out actual skin along with a fingernail.
Arya didn’t want to risk staying any longer; she forced her limbs into movement and through the fireflies. She couldn’t see anything aside from the blur of the rosy lights as she sped past. Abruptly, she broke through the wall of insects and found herself running toward the largest tree. She didn’t risk turning her head to check if the shadow man was still following her. She headed straight for the tunnel that had been mysteriously carved into the tree. The end could not be seen; there was no light to filter through.
Upon entering the tunnel, Arya instantly felt the air change. It was damp and cold. She was running for what felt like an impossible distance. The tree seemed much bigger on the inside. As she got closer to the end, which was covered in a layer of hanging moss, Arya felt a burst of wind. She slowed her pace. Shivering, she squinted her eyes against the gust. She feared what was on the other side. Her breathing became ragged and she realized that she could see her breath. Quickly, she reached to push the moss aside and get to the other side.
Arya had to close her eyes against the blinding light. It was no longer dark outside. “How is that possible?” she thought. Peeling her eyes open, she saw snow everywhere. She was still in the forest, or a forest, but she was now standing in shin-deep snow. Fresh fallen snow covered every branch and many had icicles hanging from them. The trees were very dense, aside from three paths that separated them. Directly in front of her on the ground was a pair of boots. Arya didn’t know where they came from but decided not to question it. She was not prepared for this weather, as she was wearing only capris, a t-shirt, and sneakers. She wouldn’t have been able to walk for very long with her current footwear.
Leaning against a tree, she swapped her shoes for the new ones which were made of leather and strapped to smoothed, rounded pieces of wood. They reminded her of ice skates. They fit her surprisingly well. As she walked, she discovered that the shoes helped to prevent her feet from sinking into the snow. When she moved as she would on skates, she was able to glide on top of the snow. Satisfied, Arya left her old green sneakers behind. She stood in front of the fork in the road, trying to figure out if there were any differences between the paths.
She suddenly felt as though she were being watched, and she turned around to see the shadow man appearing from the moss. As he emerged, the moss fell away to reveal the solid bark of the tree. The tunnel was gone, and Arya was trapped. He continued to glide slowly toward her.
Arya didn’t wait this time. She randomly chose the right path to take and skated in that direction. She was promptly interrupted by the voice of the shadow man in her head. “Which do you prefer: The sun or the moon?” he said.
She turned to see the shadow man coming towards her with his arm held aloft. Arya tried to step away but almost fell forward. Her feet would not budge. Panicking, she yanked hard at her legs, but they did not respond. “Come on!” she exclaimed. She kept pulling fiercely at her legs in an attempt to move.
“If you answer the question, you may run,” echoed his voice.
Arya’s mind swam trying to think of what the question had been as she continued struggling in her boots. This must be the first of the questions that Lacy told her about. The shadow man was only a few feet away now. Her eyes widened as she realized that this could be the end. She covered her face with her arms. She wished for her family, her friends. Instead she was stuck in a snowy forest about to die. She wished to be warm again, and to feel the warmth of the sun… “The sun!” shouted Arya. She opened her eyes and saw that the shadow man was looming over her. She bolted away and down the right path, finally being able to use her feet.
“Very good,” the voice said.
Arya barely paid attention as she zoomed through the forest as fast as she could. She didn’t pay attention to which direction she headed; it all looked the same anyway. Every tree was a copy; every snowy path was smooth and did not keep any footprints. After skating past the same scenery for what felt like an hour, Arya slowed to a walking pace. Thinking clearer now, she realized a couple things. One was that she had to pay attention and listen to whatever the shadow man said. Another was that she would never get out of there if she ran around blindly. She took a deep breath. She was determined to survive this game.
In her head she heard the shadow man’s voice again, “Fire or Ice?” It was fainter then the last time.
Arya quickly scanned the area; she didn’t see the shadow man. She wondered how far his voice could carry. Shuddering from the cold, Arya responded, “Fire.” She did not receive a reply, but she was still able to move her feet. She assumed that the answer was accepted. With this next step in the game achieved, Arya felt a sense of urgency, but she did not want to get ahead of herself. Assuming that she had a lead from running for so long, Arya stopped to study her surroundings. Behind her was the same tree-lined road she had been following and ahead of her was another one that looked just like it.
Arya looked up and gasped. Over top of the trees she could see smoke. It was billowing from ahead and to the left. She took the left path, quickly progressing toward the source. She kept her face to the sky, letting the smoke guide her. A couple of times she chose a path that winded in the wrong direction and forced her to go back a different way. Eventually, she came to a clearing that held her answer.
This was the largest break in trees that Arya had seen since she entered the snowy forest. In its center, was a burnt down building. She stepped closer to the foundation. It was mostly fallen and charred wood. Some of its structure still stood. There was a pillar in the middle that remained, but it was burnt and looked like it could tip over at any moment. The door frame stood mostly intact, and the whole back corner of the house still stood, though darkened with ash. Arya covered her mouth with her shirt; the smoke had a powerful smell and made her cough. There were still embers glowing all over the blackened floor boards. The smoke was much thicker and darker than how it had appeared in the sky. It made her eyes water, and she stepped away from it.
She quickly walked around the perimeter, but there was nothing aside from the building’s remains. “This was a waste of time,” she thought. With shoulders slumped, she went back the way she came. With no clue of where to go, she took random turns.
The voice was in her head again. This time it asked, “What is your biggest fear?”
Arya was forced to stop and think of the answer. The voice was a little louder than last time but she didn’t feel his presence. She looked around at all the barren trees with only snow to look at. Finally, she answered, “Being alone.” Regaining her ability to move, she trudged along.
Around the next corner was another fork in the road, this time with just two paths. Again, they seemed identical. They were both lined with snow covered trees with no discernible features. Getting aggravated, Arya was about to go left, when she saw a glint of light down the right path. She stared at where it had been, wondering if it was just a trick of the light on the snow. However, she saw it again a second later. It was the only lead she had so she took it.
She continued down the path and stopped just before it curved to look at the ground where the light had shown. She kneeled at the base of a tree and started digging. Snow uncovered more snow and her hands were getting numb. She grabbed one more fistful of snow and accidently tugged on something that resisted.
Arya’s head snapped up and she recoiled as she noticed a snake hanging above her. She crawled backwards on her hands and knees until she backed into another tree. The snake was white, and very well-hidden in the snow. Its body was wrapped around the tree and its tail was buried under the snow, which Arya must have pulled. Its tail now exposed by her digging, she saw that the snake must have been very long. The tail went from the ground in front of one tree, to the neighboring tree, and all the way up to the snake’s head. It had yellow eyes that stared into Arya’s.
“I ssshould eat you for that, kid,” said the snake.
Arya stood up slowly, not wanting to surprise the snake into action. They were now at eye level. The snake’s tongue whipped in and out of its mouth. It stretched its head toward Arya until it floated a couple feet away.
“Of courssse,” began the snake. “It’ss been a while sssince I’ve had anything to eat. I would eat you even if you hadn’t disssturbed me. Everything wass ssscared away by the fire. Even I won’t ssstep foot there” It inched closer, opened its mouth wide, and whispered, “Don’t take it perssonally, kid.”
Arya gritted her teeth, trying to think of how to get out of this. Suddenly, something flew across her vision and her eyes flitted in its direction. The snake noticed her eye movement and turned to see what had caught her attention. It zoomed by again, this time leaving behind a trail of purple dust. “Is that? No, it couldn’t be,” thought Arya.
The snake dropped to the ground with its eyes closed.
The thing that saved her flew right up to Arya’s face. “Hi there!” It exclaimed.
“Ah!” Arya couldn’t help but shriek. Reflexively, she batted a hand at the creature and it knocked against a nearby tree.
“Oof,” it rebounded and remained flittering in the air.
Arya gasped. The creature looked like a small human the size of Arya’s thumb, with wings like a dragon fly, and it glowed pink. “A faerie?” she wondered aloud. It reminded her of the fireflies on the flowers, which seemed like so long ago.
It rubbed its head. “Yeah, that’s one name they give us. You can call me Tasela. We should probably leave while that snake is still asleep, my magic only lasts so long. I—what? Stop staring at me like that!”
Arya realized she was staring. She shook her head. “Sorry! I’ve never seen a faerie before. Um, thank you for helping me…Tasela. It was very kind of you. I’m Arya.”
Tasela smiled, she seemed to forgive her. “Well, Arya” she said, “that’s what faeries do. We help people. C’mon, let’s go!”
Arya brightened and began to follow the faerie. “Can you help me get out of here?”
Tasela stopped. “Oh, actually, no. I don’t know how to leave,” she said. “I’ve come across many children like you, but I’ve never seen one leave either.”
“Oh…” said Arya, hanging her head.
“Please don’t lose hope yet, though,” Tasela urged. “I’m sure we can think of something together.”
Arya was happy to at least have a friend in this. She felt much better with Tasela helping her. They continued on for a while in silence. Trying to think of a plan.
Before long, the shadow man had another question. “Fins or wings?” he asked.
“Wings,” Arya responded immediately, and she got an idea. “Tasela, have you ever flown above the trees and seen where the paths lead?”
“Yes, I have,” she responded. “It’s all just jumbled together, there’s no real way out. The only way is to win his game.”
Arya huffed, “That doesn’t help much. I don’t even know the rules to this stupid game. Do you? You’ve been here a while, what does the shadow man expect?”
Tasela thought for a moment. “Well, he doesn’t like it when the children refuse to play. Like when they’re scared. He wants them to take the challenge, and to be brave.”
“Huh,” said Arya. She considered everything she’s gone through until this point. Being chased through the fireflies, the burnt building, the snake…
Arya and Tasela rounded the next corner, and halted. The shadow man was a few yards away. Arya began sprinting in the other direction, leaning into her skates to pick up speed. She could feel that the shadow man was following. Tasela kept up beside her. They turned as many sharp corners as possible to try and lose him.
The shadow man’s voice boomed in her head now. “Sunrise or sunset?”
“Sunset,” shouted Arya right after the voice finished. She didn’t want to lose control over her feet.
“How old are you?”
“Nine,” she answered. Arya found this question odd. None of them had been personal questions since the one about her biggest fear.
Tasela noticed, too. “I never heard him ask something like that before.”
They continued faster through the forest. The voice was slightly softer now. “Are you brave, Arya?”
“Yes,” she answered, though she almost hesitated at the mention of her name. “Here we go again about bravery,” thought Arya. “But what does it mean?” She thought about the burnt building again, and what the snake had said. Even the snake was afraid to go there.
“Tasela!” Arya yelled. “Go above the trees and lead me to the burnt place, we need to go there!”
“What?” shrieked Tasela. Her wings hummed furiously as she tried to keep up with Arya. “Arya, that’s a dead end! There’s no reason to go there. It’s a hopeless, frightening place.”
Arya nodded, “I know. That’s why we should go. I need to be brave.”
Tasela understood. “Okay,” she said. “You better be right!” She flew above the trees. They were headed in the direction of the smoke again. “Take the next left!” she shouted down to Arya. She listened.
The shadow man’s voice came and was louder this time. “Have you ever lied?”
Arya stopped in her tracks, forced by the shoes. She looked back and saw the shadow man advancing.
She could hear Tasela above her. “What are you doing? Come on, Arya! We’re almost there!”
Arya inhaled sharply. “I have,” she answered. She quickly started moving again, not realizing that the shadow man’s questions would affect her in this way.
“Go right, Arya!” said Tasela.
Arya went right. She had lied before. She lied when she said she was brave. She lied to her parents when she said she hated them, before all this happened. Before she ran away. It was what she regretted most.
“This is it! It’s coming up,” Tasela said as she flew back down to be next to Arya. “You can do it.”
Arya came to the clearing and saw the smoking building. She rushed to it as fast as possible. She stopped just before the doorway. “Tasela, I have to do this myself,” she said.
Tasela turned to her and said, “I understand. I’ll stay out here. Good luck.” She flitted up and away from the smoke, leaving Arya alone.
Arya turned back and saw the shadow man was just entering. “What do you miss the most?” His voice rang in her head.
“My parents,” she answered before she began the trek into the smoldering remains. Tears sprung from her eyes. She couldn’t tell if it was from the smoke or from the thought of her parents. She instantly started coughing and put her shirt over her mouth. The boots made it hard for her to walk on the burnt hardwood, but it was better than burning her feet. She couldn’t tell where she was going, so she just kept walking forward. Her lungs felt like they were on fire. She started crawling on her hands and knees to avoid the smoke. It was thicker now more than ever, and it was hot, as if the flames were still alive.
Arya finally came to a wall, but she didn’t know where to go from there. Carefully, she ran her hands along the burnt wall, continuing along it. After what felt like forever, she found a door. She felt the frame and its hinges. She frantically reached for the knob, but couldn’t find it. She stood and felt around the door. “Where is it?” She began to panic.
Suddenly the shadow man’s voice boomed in her head, louder than it had ever been. “Do you think I’m evil?” he asked.
Arya turned around and saw that the shadow man was standing right behind her. Her feet wouldn’t budge. She was surprised to hear herself answer, “No.” As soon as the word escaped her lips, the shadow man retreated. Arya could barely see him through the smoke, but she could see the void peeling away, just as it had when the firefly landed on him. It started with his hands, and went through his chest and finally his face. He looked like a normal man. He had a face and hair. He had substance.
“Thank you,” he said. This time his voice came from his mouth, and not from her thoughts. He then began to fade away, much like Lacy had.
Once he was gone, Arya still had the issue of finding a way out. She turned to the door again. She couldn’t waste any time looking for the knob. The door was weak from being burned. Arya leaned back and kicked the door with all her might. Suddenly she was tumbling downwards, falling with the broken door. Once she got to the bottom, she could breathe again. She was in a tunnel, and there was a bright light at the end. Somehow she knew what it was. “This is it. This is my way out.” She headed into the light and was enveloped by its warm glow.