The Loveless Woman stared at her melting reflection in the currents of a stream she’d discovered just that afternoon. Her hair and make-up, as usual, were pristine; her posture, elegant; her body, well-clothed; her breasts, well-supported. If the entire world had decided to pick today to fall apart, at least she would be the portrait of order and togetherness in a universe that was built through chaos. The events of the past few days had left her wanting. Wanting what? Despite the attentions that she always attained, her oldest companion seemed to have no interest in her. More and more, day after day, he’d devote his attentions to this Modern Woman. But for what? Did he really want her? Or was this some sort of silent retaliation against that odd Kind Man, who had shown up unannounced, like a magpie in the chimney? She could feel currents shifting beneath the earth and a tension in the air as the trees whispered to each other. Nothing good was coming of this, and they didn’t need to be here. And, with that thought, for the first time ever, she thought that she may leave the Old World Man here and now. But as soon as this thought manifested itself, it had vanished again. She didn’t love him. Most of the time she didn’t even like him. But she was devoted to him, which is stronger than love. She was chained to him like Prometheus to the eagle’s rock. Her walking freedom felt like an illusion. She needed him to be near, and she would have to obtain his favor once again and rid him of this Modern Woman and these sinister woods. Not for her own sake, but for his. Because, though she knew not what it was, something was slowly, methodically, and silently trying to kill him, and he certainly did not want to die.