The prisoner was a thief and a horse-killer. He’d shot the mounts out of three riders pursuing him, but they’d caught him.
They were far from civilization, but there was still justice on the frontier. They branded him with a horseshoe and left him tied to a tree. The Forest was unkind to humans who harmed animals.
The thief had just worked out the worst of the knots and was planning his escape when he smelled a carrion stink on the wind.
The Forest’s breath.
And then the Forest moved, and the thief didn’t stop screaming for a long time.

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