You hold the axe defensively as the shadow leaps, trying to bring the sharp blade down on it, but the axe seems to go through the shadow like it wasn't even there. It's teeth on your arm feel real though, cutting through the skin and causing you to bleed. Without a second thought you run [[without looking back.|Death]]
<<If $found_lighter eq "yes">>Reaching behind you as quick as you can you fumble for your pack. Scrabbling around inside your fingers close on your old lighter. A family keepsake, you always have it on you. You stumble around in the waning light looking for something suitable and you come upon a branch. Quickly setting it alight you hold the flame out in front of you, waving it at the shadow. It's too quick though and it jumps at your calf, piercing it with vicious teeth. You drop the branch and the dry, Autumn mast catches fire. All you can do is watch as the forest around starts to burn before the shadow takes you by the throat. As you fade you hear the sound of cars nearby. Could the road really have been that close...?\n<<else>>\nYou throw up your hands as the shadow leaps at you from the treeline. It goes for your throat and ends you quickly. No one will ever know you were here, but the forest will continue to grow.
<<if $met_shadow eq "yes">>You bolt from the terrifying shadow, running headlong through the forest until you crash into a large, open area. You look around frantically and see the fallen tree over to one side. You're back where you started! You hear a deep thrumming growl from the forest, too deep to be from any real animal. From the corners of your eyes you see the shadow in the trees to the left! The right! It seems to be everywhere! In your fear you [[dropped the axe in the forest.|Death]]\n<<endif>>\n
In the clearing once more you look toward the [[fallen log|Tree]] and the [[sun-lit path.|Path]]
<<silently>>\n<<set $found_axe = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\nYou decide after watching the brown form for awhile that if it had been a living creature it would have moved. You brush aside the leaves covering it and find an old, but serviceable axe. \n\nHefting your new find you feel more confident in this quiet, uncomfortable forest. Come to think of it, it is almost dead silent. The chill in the air makes you think the birds have all probably flown South, or North. You still have no idea where you are. Off in the distance, catching your ear you hear what sounds like a [[waterfall or a river|Thirst]]. You could also get your bearings back at the [[clearing|Clearing]]
Approaching the fallen tree you see that it's at a climbable angle. You think maybe you can go up and try to see where this forest is, if you can see a way out. Scrambling to the top rewards you with a view of more brown trees, however. Disappointment creeps through your breast as you start the slow trek back to earth. Down is always harder that up! As you make the final jump onto a pile of leaves you see a hint of a lighter brown under the mast. Indecision wars within you. Do you check the [[pile|Axe]], possibly courting snakebite, or do you [[head further into the forest|Waterfall]]?
Leaving the fallen tree behind you find yourself picking a path over leaf-covered rocks. Being careful not to turn an ankle you find yourself getting very thirsty as you go on.\n\n<<if $found_water_bottle eq "yes">> You reach into your pack and pull out your bottle of water, taking a deep gulp. Feeling better, but a little abashed that you drank more than half the bottle you replace it in your backpack and continue on toward the bubbling sound of [[liquid|Waterfall]].\n<<else>> The longer you walk, the more the sound of water drives you forward. The thought of taking a drink from whatever it is, river, waterfall, well, creek! You don't care. You've been walking for what seems like hours. Rushing to the end of the path you hear the sound of water get [[louder|Waterfall]]\n<<endif>>\n
<<silently>>\n<<set $checked_bag = "yes">>\n<<set $found_water_bottle = "yes">>\n<<set $have_bandanna = "yes">>\n<<set $found_lighter = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\n\nStaying right where you are you find a small backpack next to you on the ground. Still groggy it takes you a minute to remember that it belongs to you. You open it and take inventory. In your bag you have a water bottle, a bandanna, and your old lighter. Feeling a little better about your odds in the forest you look around the clearing [[again|Clearing]].
<<silently>>\n<<set $checked_bag = "no">>\n<<set $found_axe = "no">>\n<<set $read_sign = "no">>\n<<set $found_lighter = "no">>\n<<set $found_water_bottle = "no">>\n<<set $have_bandanna = "no">>\n<<set $met_deer_friend = "no">>\n<<set $met_wolf_friend = "no">>\n<<set $met_shadow = "no">>\n<<set $second_visit = "no">>\n<<endsilently>>\nThe smell of moss and dirt fills your nose as you slowly wake up. The prickle of discarded pine needles pokes your face as you slowly shake your head, opening your eyes. The blur of the forest greets you, fading browns and blacks. This is a place in deep Autumn. Motes of sunlight filter down through the branches as you try to get your bearings. You don't know why you're here or how you got to what you discover is an empty clearing. As you stand, you see a [[winding sunlit path|Path]] to your left. While scanning the clearing you see a [[fallen tree|Tree]] a short way into the dense-packed woods to the right. Then again, no one would fault you for [[staying where you are|Stay]]. That is what they always tell the lost to do.
You enter the dim cave and see that the carvings outside weren't the only ones. Crude images adorn the walls and you try to make out what they represent.\n<<if $found_lighter eq "yes">>You reach in your bag for your lighter and hold it up to the walls to get a better look. The flickering light illuminates images of wolves and deer standing over what appears to be a forest. You're examining carvings near the cave entrance when you hear [[a noise from outside.|Wolf]]\n<<else>>Frustrated that you can't properly see the carvings you head to the cave entrance. You're just about outside when you hear [[a noise from outside.|Wolf]]\n<<endif>>
<<if $found_axe eq "yes">> \n<<silently>>\n<<set $met_shadow = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\nYou look toward the rustling sound and see a shadow in the trees. It stops and watches you carefully. Unnerved you raise the axe in the air menacingly. It takes that as a threatening move and crouches, readying to spring at you! It leaps and you have no time to think, you have to react! [[Run|ShadowClear]] or [[Fight|Fight]]\n<<else>> \n<<silently>>\n<<set $met_wolf_friend = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>You look toward the rustling and see a shadow in the trees. You freeze and watch it come closer until it reveals itself to be a huge wolf. He regards you for a moment and something in you causes the wolf to accept you as a companion. He comes near and you tremble in fear, but the wolf gives you a solid lick on the nose and helps you stand. Your trembling is so great that he leans against you, supporting you. He takes you into the surrounding forest, leading you on an exhausting path over rocks and through deeply wooded areas until you're all turned around and lost. Finally when you thought you couldn't walk any more you arrive in a large, [[open space|WolfClear]].\n<<endif>>\n
<<if $found_water_bottle eq "yes">> Exiting the sheltering branches of the rocky path you stop, staring at the majesty of a small, but thundering waterfall. It is far louder this close than you thought it would be. The roar pushes all thoughts out of your head as you enjoy the moment. The spray reaches this far and you shiver in the mist a moment before going dead still. Drinking from the pool at the base of the waterfall is a [[white-tailed doe|Deer]]\n<<else>> You rush headlong through the branches of the trees as they slap you in the face and shoulders. You swat them out of the way on your way to water. Blundering over rocks you burst into the waterfall clearing and rush to the pool at the base of the waterfall. Cupping your hands in the water greedily you drink until you hear a pained noise. Looking around you see your flight has startled a [[white-tailed doe|Deer]]\n<<endif>>\n
<<silently>>\n<<set $path = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\nThe path looks well-used, whether by humans or animals you aren't sure, but you go that way anyway. It seems the best option. It leads you deep into the forest, never disappearing so you know you can always follow it back the way you came. After awhile you find a large boulder blocking your path. Skirting around it through the untouched leaves surrounding the path you find it to be guarding the entrance to a weathered [[shrine|Shrine]] set back in a natural cave. It looks dark in there though. You can always go back to the [[clearing|Clearing]].\n
<<if $met_wolf_friend eq "yes">>You feel the pressure on your side disappear and you look over to see the ghost of your wolf gliding across the clearing to the other side of the treeline. You look around and find the fallen tree and even a slight imprint of the spot you had woken up on. Following the ethereal canine through the trees once more you find yourself at the edge of the forest, back in civilization. You can't believe how close it had been the whole time. The sounds of passing cars completely masked in the forest now buzz loudly at you from multiple directions. \nTurning, you look for your friend, but the wolf has disappeared back into the sparse foliage of a forest that looks much smaller from the outside.\nFinding someone kind enough to stop and give you a ride, you make your way home, unable to explain your journey.\n<<endif>>
<<if $have_bandanna eq "yes">> You can see the deer is bleeding quite badly. Slowly approaching the deer you slide the bandanna out of your bag. Cupping some water from the pool you gently pour it over the wound, washing out some of the muck from the bank the doe had fallen in. By now the deer is just watching you. You move even slower than you were before and you tie the bandanna tight around the doe's wound, stopping the flow of blood. The doe takes a delicate step up to her feet, favoring the injured leg and leans against you gratefully. Seems you've made a [[friend.|Friendship]]\n<<else>> You watch, horrified as the deer bleeds out into the peaceful waterfall pool, staining it pink with her blood. You stand there for a long time, afternoon dimming to night. You only look away when you hear a [[rustling in the leaves|Wolf]] \n<<endif>>\n
<<silently>>\n<<set $met_deer_friend = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\nThe deer sees no threat in you and nuzzles your forearm, leading you into the forest. Not knowing where else to go you follow your new companion through thickly grown forest in what feels like a dizzying spiral. You grow tired, but when you slow the doe pushes you on further. Sometimes when you look at her she seems almost to glow in the late evening sunlight. Suddenly you stumble out into a large [[clearing|DeerClear]]\n
<<if $found_water_bottle eq "yes">>You feel the need to get closer to the deer. So far she appears to have not noticed you. You creep forward one small sliding step at a time until her head snaps up and she sees you. Instinctively you [[stop moving|Friendship]]\n<<else>>Your crashing entrance startled the deer so badly she tripped over the rocks and [[gashed her leg badly|Injury]].\n<<endif>>\n
<<if $met_deer_friend eq "yes">> You feel the pressure on your side disappear and you look over to see the ghost of your deer gliding across the clearing to the other side of the treeline. You look around and find the fallen tree and even a slight imprint of the spot you had woken up on. Following the ethereal doe through the trees once more you find yourself at the edge of the forest, back in civilization. You can't believe how close it had been the whole time. The sounds of passing cars completely masked in the forest now buzz loudly at you from multiple directions. \nTurning, you look for your friend, but the deer has disappeared back into the sparse foliage of a forest that looks much smaller from the outside.\nFinding someone kind enough to stop and give you a ride, you make your way home, unable to explain your journey.\n<<endif>>