Fog distorts sound.
You can never really tell how near or far away a sound is. Or, for that matter, where a sound is coming from. That is one thing that gives this place a tactical advantage.
He had led a few squads into this area to have them disappear. Most disappeared forever. Some were found miles from where they were thought to have been - and of those, most were found naked, laying face down in a shallow stream.
None of their equipment or weapons had ever been recovered.
He is not the one that had caused them to disappear. He was merely the facilitator. He led them to their unwitting doom. After all, they were hunting him.
When he first ran, back when the burning times started, he stumbled into this area of wilderness and happened upon the Others. They were great and terrifying creatures that could traverse the forest as quietly as a feather falling while moving as fast as a falcon flying and with as much ease.
They did not like him, did not trust him. But they hated the ones hunting him.
The hunters actively sought them to destroy them and the Others had absolutely could not fathom why.
The Others were not, for the most part, particularly friendly. Most were silent watchers. A few were warriors, protectors, but they could all easily slip into battle mode - even the children.
He and the Others had become uncomfortable allies... The enemy of my enemy and all that.
The image is mine, taken with a Galaxy S21 on a foggy day somewhere in southwest Illinois.