We walked soundlessly forward, moving at a pace that I could not begrudge. Nothing seemed out of place on this forest path. Everything appeared the same as during my earlier sojourn.
When I looked to the side, visibility was limited. Despite the clear sky overhead, the trees disallowed much moonlight to penetrate the gloom. I knew the way well enough to not be confused or tempted by the offshoots of pathways, and I had little concern for anything not related to the approaching river.
MacBean had brought along a small brass lantern, its wick ignited from a flint box. It provided a tiny glow of illumination, paltry really, and ridiculous on its face. But it appeared to bring MacBean some comfort, and I allowed it to remain lit.
I have always wondered over your discomfort with close spaces and darkness, Trantham. Is this a family trait? What a terrible weakness to suffer. I noticed such discomfort from your cousin tonight. Brave he might be, but one cannot ignore his intense dislike of a dark path.
The sound of the river is always a source of pleasure for me. I take comfort in its roar, the steady shout of rapids breaking over river rocks. Such noise filled my ears, caused me to quicken my pace.
“Wait.” MacBean’s warning was soft, barely audible over the wind. But of course I heard it. I ceased walking. I turned to him, saw him snuff out the lantern. The darkness was enveloping.
“There is something up ahead,” MacBean said. “I saw something amidst the trees.”