Candle in the Dark

by Robert Burson

Book of Darkness Page 5

Book of Darkness Page 5

Chapter 1, page 5

The stranger appeared on the edge of Ostium, among the fields of wildflowers.

She was tall and bent from the pack she carried, wrapped in a worn greatcoat that had seen too much weather. Her hair was what first caught Charlie’s eye as he bent over the fields. It was glistening white, like the castle he had seen as a boy up in Vasa Alba. Like ice caught in the sun.

Where was she from? Her direction said Gelum, the big town a good walk up the road. Her coat said she had likely been on the road awhile. She didn’t really look like someone that belonged anywhere to Charlie. As she got closer, he looked down to his work. Best not to seem interested. He didn’t want the wrong sort of attention. Best if he kept his eyes on the row of cabbages he was supposed to be planting before the last spring frost.

It was a cool day, but sweat trickled down his neck, sliding down under his smock. Not many folk came to Ostium. Not even many merchants bothered. Much further north from the capital and you’d end up covered in mud and swarming in demons and the dead. No one saintly wanted anything to do with that nonsense.

Charlie tapped the last seed in with his trowel and straightened. Using his scarf to wipe the sweat from his neck, he surveyed the road for the stranger. She was gone. He felt something in the pit of his stomach sink with regret as he saw tracks leading toward the fields on the other side of the road. She must have turned off to the Limus fields for shelter. They’d happily offer a warm bowl of mush and a cold bed in the barn.

Her hobnailed boots left deep tracks along the road.

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