Garth sighed and stood to his feet, pushing open the bedroom door and trudging down the hallway towards the small cottage’s kitchen.
“Gods damn it, Beth, what is it?” he said. A blanket of warm air enveloped the thin man as he entered the kitchen. By the window, his steely-haired wife stood with crossed arms, gazing beyond. Garth crossed the room to stand beside her.
“There’s someone out there,” Beth said, tapping on the window. In the distance, Garth strained to make out a dark figure in the fields beyond, the dim evening light shielding much more than an outline from view.
“Ach, can’t we leave it? The knee’s acting up again and—” Beth fixed her husband with a glare and a raised eyebrow, stopping his excuse dead in its tracks. Garth sighed.
“Let me get my boots.”
Shutting the farmhouse’s door, Garth pulled his collar up and began trudging towards the figure in the distance, leaning on his cane for support. It was difficult to determine any information about the figure, the evening mist obscuring anything more than its outline. In the far distance, the Black Tower’s ominous silhouette loomed, a dark mark over the village of Adara.
After a few minutes of slow walking, Garth could see the silhouette must belong to a tall man indeed, at least six or seven feet by the farmer’s judgement. Perhaps not even a man — elf, or drake, maybe. He gripped his cane tighter. Crossing to a stile, Garth clambered slowly over the fence into the field the figure stood in, and called out to the silhouette in the distance.
There was no response from the man in black.
Garth pressed onwards, his stick offering less purchase in the soft soil.
“No more than a hundred paces, you’ll be alright,” he thought to himself. Pushing onwards, the mist parted and Garth stopped. The figure could now clearly be seen stood next to the big chestnut, at the other side of the field, at least twice as far as his initial reckoning.
A tall man indeed.
With a deep breath, Garth pressed on, his knuckles bone white around his cane. After a hundred or so paces, he called out again.
The figure turned, and Garth could see a flash of pale skin under a black hood. The man began to move towards him, taking long, slow strides. Garth stopped and leaned on his cane, his hand shaking. The figure closed the distance between them in only a few moments, until Garth stood before a black robed figure standing fifteen feet tall. From under its shadowy hood, the farmer could see five eyes, glinting in the evening’s setting sun. He gripped his cane tight before speaking.
“Hail, friend. What…what brings you here? This is…” He swallowed. “This is private property, you know.”
The tall figure drew back its hood and leaned forward, bringing its pale face level with Garth’s. Five green eyes adorned a noseless face, and jagged crenellations ran across the top of its head like a sinister mountain range. It’s thin, arched lips were silent.
“Can I…help you with anything, sir? If not I’ll have to ask you to…move along,” Garth said, successfully keeping his voice from shaking.
“Where is Seaworth?” whispered the figure.
“Seaworth? I…we’ve…we’ve no Seaworths here, sir, I—”
A long, slender hand grasped Garth by the neck, lifting him from the ground. The green glare it fixed Garth with felt as if it was looking into his very soul.
“Where is the Hand?”
“I…don’t know what you’re…talking…about,” he gasped as the figure’s grip tightened around his throat. He clawed at the pale hand as its owner gave a disturbing smile.
“Adventurers. The wizard.”
With a reddening face, Garth tried to gasp something out.
He raised a wizened finger, pointing towards the dark spire, standing solitary in the distance. The tall figure turned its head, then there was a crunching noise followed by a wet thud as Garth landed lifelessly in the mud, eyes still bulging in their sockets.