The heavy fog that had descended over the valley a week before had only grown thicker. Sun, moon, stars, all celestial guides were strangers to him as he moved forward slowly, charting a course between the black corpses of dead trees and the skeletal branches of bare thickets, emaciated by the frigid weight of the icy haze. The silence of the forest had become absolute, even the pathetic flight of withered rodents had ceased in the days prior. The only sound he could now make out was the sporadic tapping of frigid rain and the resounding snap of his own weary footfalls. As he shivered beneath a paltry shelter of rotted branches and frayed tarpaulin, He could not shake the thought that he was accompanying the plants into their wintry sepulchers, descending ever deeper into a cold underworld where life and heat and motion were unwelcome guests.