Night wind blew hair into his face and he brushed at it, smelling life in the wind as he did so. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, letting the air rejuvenate him after his long trek. It felt good to be alive, to be free, to be young and strong with all the world before him to mold as he pleased. He stooped and picked up a stone, jagged and no larger than his thumb, and reflected briefly how he'd never see it again before tossing it out into the open darkness. It plummeted and vanished without a sound.
The wind blew again, a stronger gust that made him lean against it or risk pushing too close to the edge. From the distance beyond the trees he thought he heard a sound, a faint groan before the air in his own ears drowned it out. His eyes adjusted as the light faded and for the first time he felt the cool of the night sink deeper than his skin. Another gust chilled him and again he heard a distant howl, louder this time as the wind gave longer breath to the night. The sound remained steady and he thought perhaps it came from caves below that he'd not yet discovered, but it remained even when he grew warm again. The sound itself was cold and hard. It seemed to well up from nowhere, slowly spreading and fading, and then swelling again even as the wind drew away. His mind trailed away lost in thought. Puzzled, yet he wasn't startled when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
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