From deep within the jungle’s sweltering heart, it was both entirely visible and obscured. A crumbled blanket of green lay across the landscape in all directions, stretching up to the horizon. It had been bunched up at the edges, folded where hills rose to form a high wall of living rock, hemming the forest in.
But at the core of this emerald expanse, nothing could be seen of its extent. The thick trunks of trees grew in all directions, a staggered palisade of rough bark and shifting wood. Between these towering forest giants lay deep pools of shadows. The heavy darkness of the forest floor was made blacker by the sparse rays of glaring sunlight that cut a razor path through the dense foliage far overhead.
There was a thickness to the air. It was a heavy, moist heat that could be felt pushing down on a man’s shoulders. He might balm his neck with a handkerchief soaked in chill water and walk straight and proud for a few moments. But the oppressive humidity would return, adding the weight of a pack of sugar to his burden with each bead of sweat. Soon, he would stoop again and struggle to blink through the perspiration stinging in his bleary eyes.
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