The dark woods were filled with the shrieks of agony and the stench of rotting corpses and blood. A soldier collapsed on the ground as he slowly bled to death. Hans wiped his sword clean, chuckling as he did. “Such fools. They should have known not to mess with me.” He put the sword back in its sheath and walked ahead, avoiding the carcasses that littered the ground. The cold breeze swept through the trees, making the leaves shudder. The noise wasn’t the most comforting thing to hear, and Hans was right to think this. Unknown to him, a young girl was following him, watching his every move. The fire king paused and looked around. The soft pitter patter of tiny feet were drowned out by the rustling of the trees, but Hans could sense a dark presence. “Show yourself!” He shouted, turning in the direction of the sound. The small sound stopped. “Come out and fight me, if you dare!” She challenged. The sound still remained non-existent. Hans growled slightly, annoyed with the creature’s cowardess. He turned back around and continued to walk out of the forest, but before he did, he ran straight into a little girl, who was hanging upside-down from a tree branch. Her twisted smile and odd eye colors scared the ever living crap out of Hans. He screamed as he stumbled back. The little girl giggled ever so slightly as she let go of the tree branch and landed on her feet with little trouble. Hans looked at the girl and felt a small twinge of fear sweep over him, a feeling that was foreign to him.
“Alice.” He said, the words flowing out his mouth like a waterfall. The little girl walked over to Hans, who was trying to stand back up, but the little girl’s presence was somehow keeping him chained to the ground. “Hello Mr. Westerguard. Are you alright?” Alice said, holding out her hand, expecting Hans to take it, but the man knew better than to trust this crazy girl. “Leave at once!” He said with as much authority as he could muster, but all his other emotions seemed to be hiding from Alice, leaving only terror in their place. Alice giggled again. “What’s wrong, are you scared of me? Here I thought nothing scared you. I guess I was wrong.” Hans huffed a bit. “I’m not scared of you!” He said in a small voice, even though he expected it to come out as a shout. Alice shook her. “Don’t fool yourself Hans, I know you’re scared. I can sense it.” She said, the smile still plastered on her face. Hans finally found the strength to get on his feet, and once he did, he began to sprint away from the little girl. “Wait!” Alice shouted, but Hans kept running, his heart destroying his chest. “I just wanted someone to have a tea party with!” Alice said, tears brimming her eyes. Hans stopped for a brief moment, looking back at the girl, who was now crying, but he knew it was a trap, so he kept running. Alice saw this and wiped the tears off her face, her smile now gone and replaced with a look of disappointment. “I almost had him.” Alice said. “No matter, I’ll be sure to get him next time.” She said, her smile growing back as she walked along the trail in the opposite direction of where Hans was going. The fire king finally got out of the forest and stopped to catch his breath. He put a hand to his chest and felt his heart beating faster than the wind. After a few moments, he walked away from the entrance to the cave. “I’m never going back there again.” Hans said, his voice still weak with fear. It would take him a long time for his viciousness return.