The hole is open. The story begins.
The sky is dark over the Everfree forest. There are stars that shine in the air, but they do not glitter. They seem painted on, mainly for show. They seem slightly wrong. Even the moon, caught between half and crescent as it wanes in time and fades away, seems strangely artificial, with a shape too bulky, and craters too big.
The Everfree forest seems natural enough, darkened to near blackness as it is, but it is strangely without sound. There is wind, as it blows at Force Three or Four, tugging at every branch and leaf, whistling as they undulate in the breeze. But the animals are absent. Nature seems silenced. As if all that grew, moved, thought and ate were at some secret place of worship. Or if they had fled from some great, powerful force of destruction.
A few leaves individually flit between the trees. Was that a rabbit, darting behind the tree? The grass bends and sways.
Then comes the step. Water parts and leaps, in the wake of the step. The step with nothing preceding it. The step of a foot totally alien, in almost every way. Then as the second step comes, muffled by the parting mud, the frog that sat in silence leaps away. The wind picks up, howling and whirling in a wide, wide circle, as if it too was trying to flee from this strange being whose every motion was wrong.
The presence moves into a ray of light, which illuminates its chest. It raises a limb, topped with a thing so like but unlike a claw, to adjust the length that circles its neck. The presence looks about, slowly, analysing every detail. The presence hears the rush of the wind, but also a slower, rhythmic passage of air, one it alone can hear. The thought might have gratified it, if it could feel so, but for the single determination filling its mind.
The presence allows the light to dance upon it a moment longer. Then proceeds to move. A red eyed rodent darts, as if free to move from some terrible entrapment. Other eyes watch from an absent wall, as the presence moves past and fear chains them in place. Where does it go? Where does it come from? Why does it pass this way and will it find what it seeks? None of these questions leave an impression. Least of all on the presence. It is there, and it moves. All else is lost to the world.
At long last, a speck of light breaches the trees. Not the pure white light of the stars and moon, but a warmer yellowed light like the imitation of a dawn. The vines and branches part before the presence. It beholds a sprawling cluster of houses, near and far. Dominions. Havens. Fortresses all. The warm light glows from a few, but many are nestled in the cool shadows of night.
The presence sees all, flexes itself, and prepares to begin its dark work.