She paused, wiping the sweat from her head with the back of her hand.  The sun beat down on her small clearing, melting the dusting of snow that had fallen overnight.  The need to keep her mind from wandering rather than a need for firewood had driven her out of her bed early, the songbirds greeting the daybreak with an enthusiasm that she lacked.

Now that she’d stopped chopping the firewood, she noticed how quiet it was around her.  Hefting her axe, she slowly turned around, searching for the cause of the tension.  Her corner of the woods was typically left alone, too far from any roads to get to easily and too out of the way for anyone to stumble passed.

Not that anyone knew she was there.

I hope, she thought.  Glancing at her hut, she shifted her stance, not quite able to shake the feeling that someone was watching her.  The hair on her neck prickled up, increasing her unease.  Her head spun around at a cry from her horse gave her the direction she needed.

She only got to take three steps before they were upon her.

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