A full moon illuminated the thin layer of snow that coated the rocks, valleys, and crags of Starved Rock State Park, causing a bluish hue to be reflected off the naked and dormant branches of the deciduous forest. Despite recent snowfall, the temperature was crisp but bearable. The air was perfectly still. Heavy footsteps tromped through the frozen underbrush without regard for the noise—the travelers moved like they were on a mission and were far enough from the nearest dwelling to care.
Misa, a gangly young woman dressed in a flowing, knee-length coat, led the way. She moved swiftly but awkwardly; dodging and weaving through the trees like she was always off balance. Her appearance was deceptive, however, because she was neither helpless nor directionless. Her senses were honed for navigating in the dark. She heard the rustle of the owls in the trees and smelled the strangers who had tracked her friends since they left their car.
Aurelia was also keenly aware of their pursuers, but not through any of her five senses. She felt their power—their rage. The feeling soaked into her bones, and it got stronger the closer they came to the cliff.
Mike, Greg, Davin, and Emmer were oblivious. They moved with caution, instinctively locating sure footing on the snow-covered forest floor. Still, they lagged several yards behind Misa and Aurelia.
“Are you absolutely sure this plan is going to work?” Greg asked between heavy breaths. Fog puffed from his mouth…
Check out the exciting conclusion to The Fallen’s Illinois adventures only in this month’s issue of the Legends and Lore of Illinois:
Starved Rock State Park is a natural, scenic woodland park surrounding a large butte overlooking the Illinois River. It contains 18 canyons and 13 miles of trails. American Indians inhabited the site for several thousand years before the French arrived and built a fort at the location. According to legend, Potawatomi Indians trapped a group of Illiniwek on the butte and starved them into submission, giving the rock formation its name. In March 1960, three women were murdered in the park, and their bodies were found in one of the canyons. Eventually, a man named Chester Weger was convicted of the crime. Some visitors to the park have claimed to hear groans and other disembodied voices amidst the rock formations. If that wasn’t enough, there are also rumors of buried treasure!