“When you were a child, you were probably afraid of the dark. But you grew out of it. Your parents told you there was nothing to fear, your worry was irrational.
“Unfortunately, your parents were wrong.”— “The Tenebrean Primer”, Magus Harpin
“Anything else, sir?”
Ormak shook his head, took a slow blink. “No, no. That’ll do. Thank you.” The old vak smiled, out of character for the iakim, but welcome.
The servant bowed. “Very well, sir.” Crossing over to the heavy door at the far end of the office, she opened it, shutting it behind her as she left, leaving Ormak alone in his study.
Candlelight flickered over the room from the candle on Ormak’s desk, casting distorted shadows on the walls and out through the window into the night sky beyond. The sound of the iakim’s quill scratching on paper echoed around the room, the repetitive scrape-scrape-scrape-scrape-scrape-dip-dip-dip-dip-dip the only sound except for Ormak’s steady breathing, the night wind rustling the orchard trees outside, and the rhythmic sound of the Luminaar clock in the corner.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Gathar wouldn’t afford him many more of these nights alone. Not after what had happened with the twins. They had already butted heads about it, Gathar claiming it was too dangerous for him to be alone, Ormak claiming he was talking nonsense, he’d lasted this long and under worse circumstances. Gathar was right, of course. Ormak knew. But he had made his stance clear and didn’t want to back down. Didn’t want to show weakness, show that he was wrong. But where once he had prized his solitary hours in the late night, he now had a scratching feeling at the back of mind that he was being watched. That something lurked out there in the night, something with a razor and a contract written in blood.
Gathar would only take no for an answer for so long. He had too much of his father in him. Eventually the risk would be too great and he’d push harder until Ormak ‘relented’, and would secretly breathe a sigh of relief that his son was there to protect him. But eventually was not today, he thought to himself, setting down his quill and standing, crossing to the window and looking out into the night as he always had.
Only this time, something in the night looked back.