The first dream. (Talia, p. 16)

She walks down the stairs, bright eyed and rested. A few other patrons are gathered and talking quietly over a meal or a mug of ale. She smiles and waves to the Innkeep as she heads towards the door. He waves back, returning to another customer. She opens the door and steps out into the darkness…

As the door closes behind her she gathers herself in the pool of the lamp light. Her pack shifts a bit, bulging with the wares of her trade: a silk tunic for the captain, the blackened leather she was studying, four unfinished cloaks nearly ready for sale. She pulls at a strap, resettling the weight on her back. The night outside is clear and silent, the air cool and crisp as it fills her lungs. She lets out the deep breath, a wonderful night to work. She begins at a stroll, south towards Mardo’s, lost in thought at the task ahead. Before reaching the edge of the Inn, something causes her to stop. As her eyes adjust to the dark, she can see a glowing yellow pair staring back at her. He sniffs at the air, hackles raised. What is a wolf doing this close to the Inn? She moves carefully towards the wall, reaching back to where her bow is slung. His eyes follow, but he doesn’t move. Her hand freezes mid-motion as a second set of eyes comes into view. Another wolf pads next to the first and stops, waiting.

She takes a careful step backwards, then another. Neither animal moves. One her third step she hears a low growl, but not from the pair, it comes from her right side. She turns only her head, and there, stepping from the trees is a third wolf, easliy twice the size of the others. As their eyes lock, the moment seems frozen in time. She can see their breath in the cool night air. All thoughts of her bow have vanished, only one thought reamins. “Run!” She turns and in an instant they are bounding for her. The door seems a mile away, the bridge an eternity. A wolf jumps, tearing at her pack, nearly ripping her arms from her shoulders as they tumble to the ground. Somehow she dislodges herself from the tangled mess. The second wolf runs past, intent on the guards shouting as they approach. She scrambles back, slipping in the dew wet grass. The larger wolf strides forward and the other backs away. Their eyes lock once more and for the briefest moment she thinks she recognizes the glow… anger… hatred… murder…

As he lunges, she raises her arms in an attempt to cover her face. Those eyes… it is the last thing she knows before slipping into darkness.

She awakens to a forgotten, yet familiar, cold…


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