I suspect that things would have ended all the same if my rifle hadn’t jammed. The Beast in the darkness moved too fast anyway. But I crawl anyway, inching my way through the mud to the weapon that had once made me lord of the forests - the ordinary ones anyway. I wish I could say that I don’t know what I’m going to do when I reach my old friend. It’s been hours now, and the pain hasn’t gotten any less. When the beast lifted me, I’d been ready to see the end. Its snarling maw could’ve crunched my head in an instant. A bittersweet release, only if. Only if. When I looked at Death, I was met with human eyes, and I understood. The Beast hungered not for my flesh, but for my pain.

The Will of the Forest permeates me now, and I feel myself changing. Just a few more strides. A choice. An eternity in the darkness, to be a hunter again? Or a final release, a kiss on the cold lips of my old friend?