Stars twinkled brightly in the dark pool above and the two moons, one waxing, one waning were beginning to set. The air was still, causing the clouds above to lay unmoving, casting odd shadows across the ground and a cool mist lay across the peacefully sleeping city like a blanket. The wide, dusty streets were dark and empty, save for a few rats scurrying around in search of food. They were nibbling contently on a discarded scrap of bread when their bodies stiffened and their ears pricked up in alarm.
There was a loud rush of air and a violent whirlwind appeared causing the rats to scamper away in fear. As it dissipated a young woman with pale skin and waist length dark brown hair, almost to the point of being black, stepped from it and out into the street. A large, high sided basket hung from the crook of her arm.
She walked slowly but determinedly, keeping to the shadows as much as possible to avoid being seen by the patrolling guards, whose armour clinked faintly while they walked the city walls. Her long, crimson and black dress rustled as she walked, disturbing the peaceful silence. She fondled a large, polished jet fragment hanging from swirling patterns of a silver choker absentmindedly.
A shuffling sound emerged from the basket she was carrying. She frowned as she looked into it; her dark eyes were hard and no hint of a smile found its way to her deep red lips. She continued to walk deeper into the city, watching as the mist billowed around her almost playfully. She could have landed closer to her destination, she knew that, but where she was going would be more open, more exposed and there would have been a greater risk that she would have been seen. It wasn’t the time for that, not yet anyway.
The young woman looked up as she rounded a corner and stopped as she saw a large number of small, cramped buildings in front of her. She found the small, dishevelled, one storey stone building she was looking for, nestled amongst the others and walked slowly and carefully towards it. There were large square windows either side of the worn, green, wooden door and though they were covered with curtains, a faint light shone through the one on the left.
She smiled to herself, “Ever the scholar Brean,” her voice was deep and soothing but there was a hint of malice hidden beneath the layers. “But your time is being wasted, as always.”
The young woman stopped in front of the house and looked once more into the basket she had been carrying; finally, her mouth curled up in a smile but it was razor sharp and there was little warmth behind it. She placed the basket carefully on the doorstep, attended briefly to the contents within, then walked away from the house, smiling wickedly as she heard someone shuffling inside. She turned her head to once more look at the ragged house and the basket before she was engulfed in a violent whirlwind.
The worn green door opened cautiously and an older man, with shoulder length greying hair and stubble peered out into the gloom. A thin ray of light fell upon the basket on his doorstep as did his bright amber eyes, which were wide with shock.
“Bælana,” he said slowly and quietly looking horrified at the basket’s contents. “What have you done?”