The deep chill of mid-winter was not yet upon them. It was still early yet; the earth thawed and froze a dozen times each week as the leaves flexed back and forth between crisp and crumbling, to a wet decaying mush. It left a dank odor in the air that never quite went away, but that was not enough to cover up the smell. Worse than meat gone off, worse than the sticky gelatinous blood coagulating on the floor of a slaughter house. The unmistakable, unforgettable stench of human rot—death mixed with time, drifting heavily through the unnamed wood.