The light was fading and the old man hurried along the path leading to the city gates. It wasn’t safe being out after dark for anyone, but especially for someone with a great deal to lose. Unfortunately, even he wasn’t above being summoned and when the Green Lord called, you couldn’t very well ignore the request.
The old man pulled the collar on his well-worn coat tighter, hoping the chill he felt deep in his chest wasn’t a sign that his health was finally failing. Not this late in the preparations… this close to the end. Only a little longer and his reward would allow him the luxury of never worrying about his health again.
The shadows were deeper now, just beginning to reach out from the hollows in the forest, making their way toward the City of Light. Of course, with the King in residence, the City of Light was safe against the Darkness and the creatures that rode its dread swell. Like in many of the smaller towns in the kingdom, rumors abounded about the Darkness, but the King’s presence seemed to dispel much of the fear caused by the Darkness that crashed against the stone ramparts each night.
If the people only knew what was coming, they might ignore whatever comfort the King might provide. He quickened his step and hugged the satchel he had carried back from the deep forest.
“Better to be on the side with a greatest chance of success,” he said aloud, causing him to look around to make sure he could not be heard by the guards positioned on the outer wall of the City. It was then that he heard it.
The sound was subtle, but he knew it for what it was. He had spent enough time outside the city in the Black Forest to recognize it. The Wolves were pacing him on either side of the path. He considered stopping, knowing that running would only drive the beasts into a frenzy. They would run him down long before he was able to step into the light. While in the forest proper he was granted safe passage and the Wolves, while still menacing, were not given leave by the Green Lord to do him harm.