The darkness consumed every corner, reaching out with tendrils to fill every crack. The always-overcast sky made it look like there simply were no stars. Not that anyone had really seen a star before. The city was quiet, dead and still as a grave. In this lonely darkness, hurried a tall and far too thin man. He glanced about nervously and startled at every noise. He was a man comfortable in the day. He was the kind of person who kept a lit candle by his bed to keep the darkness at bay.
Uther Lorensen wanted nothing more than to be in bed with his wife.
He wanted a hot meal, maybe a cold mug of some kind of alcohol and most of all, he wanted to be home. As luck would have it though, that wasn’t the case today. No, today he found himself in the Hanged District. A den of vile people and disgusting habits. Criminals, the lot of them. He’d heard stories about how looking someone in the eye was enough to get you stabbed. He heard that the vardr don’t actually come here because it’s too dangerous and we bondi don’t pay for protection. Mostly, he heard that it wasn’t safe.
So it was with great fear and concern that Uther found himself in the Hanged District. How he had arrived here was simple enough, his wife sent him to a new shop across town, he stayed longer than he had intended and then he got lost on the way back. Uther cursed himself quietly as he imagined the scolding that he would get when he finally made it home. If he made it home at all.
As Uther crossed the cobble streets of Billows street and headed toward Tomlin, he started to feel strange. The hairs were standing on the back of his neck and his throat became incredibly dry. He quickly glanced around but, saw no one. Still, he felt it in the pit of his stomach and his mind screamed inside. He was being watched.
He went down Tomlin and quickly ducked into an alleyway and clasped his own hand over his mouth. The street seemed empty and colder. The silence was deafening. That was when he heard the footsteps.
“Did he go this way?” someone whispered.
“I’m not sure… lets double back around. We’ll find him.” someone responded.
“I’m gonna gut that scrawny piece of-”
There was a strange noise, a mixture of surprise and pain. Then, there were the unmistakable noises of violence. A man stumbled into the alleyway, his arm obviously broken, the other brandishing a knife.
“You!” yells the man with the knife as he lunges forward.
Uther yelps as his foot flies out in front of him.
The man with the knife makes a high pitched noise and grabs his crotch, scowling in pain.
Uther lets out a wild swing while screaming like a wounded animal.
The man dodges the swing effortlessly and swings the knife toward Uther.
Uther closes his eyes.
The knife never comes to end him. Instead, the sound of crunching bone and screams. When Uther finally gains the courage to open his eyes, the man with the knife is tied to an overhang, dangling painfully. In the shadows, another thing… probably a man, clad in black and dark grey rags. On his face, a leather beaked mask.
“You’re the raven,” Uther says.
The man in rags nods.
“Thank you,” Uther begins to bow low when a gravelly voice interrupts him.
“Don’t bow. I’m not your master. You defended yourself. Keep doing that.”
With that, the man turned and ran into the darkness.
“I did defend myself,” Uther whispered.
Then, more proud than he had been in a long time, Uther thought about the story that he was able to tell his wife. He smiled as he sped his way home.