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In the middle of a snowy forest at twilight, Alfonso met Kiril, a tall, gaunt man with pale skin, and a ghastly scar that coiled and squiggled across his jaw. Kiril demanded to know if Alfonso had grown any plants in his sleep. Frightened, Alfonso lied and said he had not. Alfonso fled into the forest, but as he turned to run, he noticed that Kiril’s eyes were completely white.

Kiril follows Alfonso from World’s End to the Urals, stalking him like a ghost. Kiril emerges from the shadows at odd times and, again and again, asks Alfonso whether he trusts those around him. Outwardly, Alfonso despises Kiril. He finds the disfigured man creepy and sometimes utterly terrifying. But then in other, quieter moments, Alfonso wonders whether Kiril is trying to help him. He wonders whether Kiril is actually on Alfonso's side, and if so, does this mean that Alfonso should be less trusting of those around him – even Hill and Bilblox?

Although Alfonso can never be sure about Kiril, certain things reveal themselves: for example, although Kiril appears weak at times, he fights with a strength and skill unknown to even the most skilled swordsmen. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of plants, trees, weather systems, and outdoor life. At times, he shows glimpses of a deep education and experience in the modern world, despite his often humble and menacing appearance. Rumors abound that he is several centuries old, or perhaps even older. He speaks half-a-dozen different languages including, “tree creak,” an ancient language spoken only by the people who live around the haunted realm of Straszydlo Forest.

Kiril only seems to be happy when he is deep in combat, outnumbered, and fighting for his life.


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