The peal of the village church bells just managed to catch Phoebe’s hearing. She paused on the rough track as she heard them, counting out the rings for five in the afternoon. She had one foot still in the sunlight, one just inside the shadow of the forest. She waited as the pealing faintly permeated throughout the valley — bouncing off the stone walls, echoing off the sheep, before being absorbed whole into the massive oaks that made up the forest. They sucked up the ringing, forced it down into the soil, and gave none of it back. Phoebe looked up at the nearest tree, watching it for the slightest sign that it recognised the calling out of the church below. It stood, guarding the entrance to the forest, impassive to the world. It failed to stir.
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