The smell of smoke hung in the air, drifting over the charred tree which still smoldered, despite the heavy rain. The flash of lightning had been quick and destructive, forcing an enormous tree to a crashing descent. The ancient giant was even more impressive now, sprawled over the land, than when it had been standing. It lay across the swollen, flooded stream which had been a calm, bubbling brook only a few hours before.
The huge roots from the tree were splayed out, their dark, frightening tentacles filled with dirt. Rainwater dropped off of them with a slow, steady beat. Birds fluttered around nervously, trying to make sense of the new and bewildering changes that had come upon their forest. A squirrel chattered angrily, skittering here and there, trying to find the hole to his house. A long, thick branch lay across the road, and on the other side of the road, just within its reach, lay Natalya, cold, shivering, and unconscious.
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