The world looked a lot smaller from Anna’s vantage point. Everything seemed more peaceful when one was looking down on problems and seemed more removed. Numerous creatures and oddities passed by without her being noticed. If her life depended on it, she could have sworn a Koopa just waddled by no more than half an hour ago. This island just seemed so unnatural, like it was a dream created by the realms of her nerdy mind. A stiff wind blew through the area, a strong coastal breeze carrying with it the smell of salt and surf. Leaves rustled gently by Anna’s ears, the tree she was taking refuge in provided excellent cover from whatever deviants await her below. She couldn’t even recall how long she had been in this tree; suspended above the forest floor for what seemed like an eternity now.
Camelia had spoken of others on this island. As of yet, Anna had not witnessed another human soul nearby. Everything was eerily quiet, yet it wasn’t at the same time. It was the absence of what many call ‘artificial’ noise that was the worst. After becoming so accustomed to the noises of city life: cars, planes, trains and television; nature by itself almost felt...unnatural. Ever since Camelia had imbued her with these ‘abilities’, Anna felt different somehow. Solid Snake wasn’t what she considered super powered, yet, her senses felt more attuned, her body felt faster and stronger. It almost felt like her body was trained for things that seemed formerly impossible for her. This tree she was in for example; Anna had never been successful climbing trees in the past, her previous attempts as a child usually ending in disaster. Yet here she was, far above the forest floor laying in wait. For what exactly? That she didn’t have an answer for. Maybe it was time to move on again, see if anybody was in the area?
Anna slowly and cautiously made her way down the tree. Each one of her steps practiced and precise as she landed with a soft thud on the leaf covered ground. The crunching of the leaves beneath her feet felt like it echoed in her ears. She cursed herself for making such a racket, even if it only felt that way to her. All of her moves felt like they had to be stealthy lately. Any unwanted noise was a beacon for unnecessary attention. Quietly, Anna began to walk from tree to tree, her slim form taking cover behind their trunks. Before she moved on to the next, she would cautiously stick out her head and survey the area. Once satisfied that all was clear, she stepped lightly and with purpose to her next refuge.
The leaves above rustled again, but this time, there was something different about the sound. Almost as if a background noise was mixed in with it. It was hard to peg, but it sounded like footsteps. Lighter than her own and shallower in depth, but footsteps nonetheless. Anna braced herself against the tree, her body contouring with her back against its curvature. The noise stopped just as quickly as it came. After a few more seconds of silence, Anna peeled herself from where she froze. Her eyes searching for whatever lay in wait on the other side of the tree. For all intents and purposes, it looked devoid of life. Trees, leaves and what looked like a sizable fungus but a few feet away.
The mushroom seemed odd in some way. Larger than any Anna had ever seen before. About a foot high, thick and stumpy in stature with what almost looked like feet for a stem. She approached it cautiously, her hand outstretched to touch it. Just as her hand was about to make contact, the mushroom turned on a dime and two large eyes with protruding snaggleteeth presented themselves to her. She knew what it was as soon as she saw its face. Many hours had been spent in her youth leading Mario through a harrowing obstacle course of these devious Goombas. If she had to guess, they were never friends to Mario and they probably wouldn’t be friendly with her. The little shiitake lowered its head and plowed towards her at full steam. Anna recovered from surprise quickly, her pirouette just letting her dodge the blow. The Goomba turned like a raging bull and charged again, this time she was ready for him. Her hands on the ground, Anna dropped to her knee and spun her left leg around to catch the monster square in the brow. The blow sent the creature flying, his limp form smashing into a tree and falling unconscious into a pile of leaves.
Brushing herself off, Anna hoped the noise from her kerfuffle didn’t attract anymore unnecessary attention. This forest could be even more dangerous than she thought. Goombas were easy enough to manage. But what lay ahead? There was no point going back now. The only thing she could do was to keep calm and carry on.