The wood lay silent and bare. Moisture hung in the air, from every branch and leaf. Aro walked through the pine needles. The trees stood, lost in time, uninterested in passing affairs.
Aro had been tracking the deer for two hours, following broken branches and tufts of white hair. The morning dew glistened on the moss, and on the back of the trunks.
Stepping over roots, glancing at shadows, Aro followed the deer into the woods. All she knew was that she was walking parallel to the mountains, silent and covered in snow.
Fog wrapped the tops of the trees. No sunlight could be seen through the clouds. Aro heard the snapping of a twig and continued the slow pursuit. The cold wind blew against her face, pushing her scent far behind her and out of the reach of the deer’s nostrils.
Ferns and rocks kept her company. The light filtered down, barely making it to the forest floor. Aro passed a cave, a gaping wound in the earth. The air coming from its mouth was damp and dank. The invitation was almost too good to pass up, but Aro followed the deer.
The path sloped downhill. Aro climbed carefully down stone slabs, slippery with yesterday’s rain. In the distance, she saw the deer.
It stood, proud, magnificent, in the clearing, hide an ample honey brown, with white spots. Aro drew back her bow hand and fired one single missile. The animal stiffened, transfixed, its regal body slowly folded into the ground.
The wind shook some pine needles loose. The fog descended from the mountains. Aro stood over the deer. Nothing moved. The world stood within itself.
Symphony No. 9 in E minor (‘From the New World,’ first published as No. 5), B. 178 (Op. 95): 02 Largo