"What a wicked web she weaves, to turn something so sinister into something so radiant."
Book of History Volume VI
Mathias sat in an abandoned castle reading poetic lore by candlelight. He had found this particular book, and many more dusty volumes just like it in the dank basement. His father, Mathias the first (who in all actuality it was his adopted father, but it is far simpler to address them this way), had told him this castle had once housed troops in the fabled reaper wars, but now it lay in ruins. To Mathias it had always been a play place, where him and Benviolo would come to play as they grew up.
It was a dark and stormy night, and Mathias had decided sleeping in the tower would be easier than walking home through the downpour. His candle was beginning to burn down, and instead of lighting another, he allowed himself to ponder what he had been reading. This particular passage had been about the landing of the Eteras on Lottian shores. Eteras were supposed to be beings of great power, not burdened under the unrelenting load of death that humankind is forced to carry. It was said that they had landed hundreds of years ago at the very place where Mathias's hometown of Kaepe now stood. It was common knowledge now that these histories were all fables-- that is, containing truth, but not true through and through.
Mathias let his mind wander further away from the book. What would a being like an Etera look like in a world of mortals? How would one act if they did not have to worry about the day to day worries of the world, and instead thought in centuries and millenniums? The possibilities were endless, the sheer amount of knowledge that would be gathered was staggering. With the power of eternity, Mathias though, the most careful plans could be laid and carried out.
Mathias was jolted from his pondering by a sudden clanging in the next room (Or was it the next next room? The castle's echoes made it impossible to tell). He was not immediately alarmed; in all probability it was a swamp rat taking shelter from the storm. There were hundreds of the pests, from here to Kaepe. It was simply part of the marshy environment. It did turn Mathias's thinking in other directions though. Why was the little nation of Lotte built in such a harsh environment? It seemed that every building built instantly begin sinking into the unforgiving marsh. The people of Lotte did not seem to prepare for it either. They simply built attachments, adding floor upon floor to their sinking houses. It created a peculiar sort of architecture, with buildings never finished, and construction constantly reacting to the will of the swamp. When Mathias was young, the town hall had leaned and eventually fallen into his own home's roof. Instead of removing towers, his father had built them into their home, creating a network of passages. It was simpler than removing them, and would save money and space. The entire town had been constructed in a similar manner. Since the Lottians knew that whatever they built would sink underground eventually, they built high instead of wide. Kaepe towered above the rest of the landscape.
Mathias had read in the histories of Mortimer that there had been a great slaughter the very first day the Eteras had arrived. They had fled to this world, landing at Kaepe, while being chased by a dread force, it was said that they had made a stand, and had broken free from the evil, but not without great cost. The books numbered the dead into the thousands, with detailed lists of strange names taking pages on pages. Mathias began to think that it was as if the swamp pulled life down into it and the Lottians were trying as hard as they could to stay as far away from it as possible. They actually did quite a good job, between the ever growing spires and interconnecting buildings, you could go about your daily business without touching a toe to the wet muddy ground.
While Mathias sat in thought the rain slowly turned to snow and the deep silence snow brings entered the castle. Mathias' thoughts wandered down stranger and stranger paths before he finally began to doze.
Another bump in the night.
Mathias stirred. This sound seemed much louder and Mathias decided he had to investigate. He pulled himself out of the chair, and lit another candle. Leaving his makeshift study, he began down the hallway toward what had been a pantry. If it was a rat, it would be there, probably chewing on some piece of moldy bread left over from long ago.
Flint was running towards the screams.
The whole city had seemed tense since dusk. He had expected tonight to be like any other night in the night watch (that is, quiet) but the screams had made tonight unlike any other. When he had first heard them his instinct was to keep walking and let another watchman investigate. He pushed this thought down, and jogged toward the sound. As he neared the house the screams began to multiply, and to flint's ears, he thought that he heard howling mixed in with the screams.
He arrived outside the house at the to find another watchman, Grant. Grant was older than him and looked very scared. This caused Flint to pause, and the two men stood outside the house taking in as much information as possible. Flint realized that the screams were coming from the back of the mortician's house. The mortician was a muscular man, and ran his business out of an addition to the back of his house (Although in these days, what wasn't an addition to something or other?). appeared
Suddenly the screams stopped.
"Should we go in?", Flint looked toward Grant.
Grant looked nervous, but reached to grab the handle. However, at the last second he appeared to change his mind and knocked instead. "This is the watch! Is everything ok in there?"
The adrenaline was starting to wear off and Flint was able to look around. He noticed that the lights in the house were off, so it appeared nobody was up. He knew that the mortician had a family, and he wondered why they had not woken up. People were already starting to emerge from other houses on the block He also wondered how Grant had got here before him. It took about 2 hours to walk around the whole city, and the watch members were spaced out at half hour intervals. These things flashed through Flint's mind before Grant knocked twice.
There was no answer from inside. People were starting to stare, and two more watch members had just arrived. They were brothers, and easily the most excitable of the night watch. They were trying to get Grant to kick the door in.
"I don't know, it seems to have stopped, and I don't hear anyone on the inside", Grant was explaining to them, "maybe we should wait for the chief."
"By then it could be too late! The screams stopped almost 10 minutes ago! What if they need help?"
"Fine, I'll go in first. You two check upstairs, and I will check the working area. Flint, you stay outside and do some crowd control."
As soon as the word was given the brothers attacked the door latch, quickly breaking the handle off. The door swung slowly inward. The three night watchmen lit their torches and walked in. Flint closed the door behind them and stood with his back to it. By this time a small crowd had gathered.
"What is going on in there? Is it safe?", an old woman questioned as murmurs swept through the crowd.
Flint addressed them, "Yes, we have everything appeared under control. There was a disturbance earlier tonight and the night watch is investigating, there is no need to fear, please return to your homes."
No one moved. Lights begin to flicker to life upstairs.
"What was that awful screaming? It sounded like someone was being attacked!"
"We are searching the building right now, please remain calm. We will update you when there is more information"
"Why do you keep telling us to be calm?! What is hiding in there?", a younger man pressed.
Flint was about to answer when the other two watchmen reappeared. They were boasting about their search to the crowd. Flint wished that they would be quiet, he needed to think. This was a really strange situation, and where was Grant? He was half listening to the brothers, and knew that they had not found anyone or anything. He realized that they were enjoying the attention of the crowd, and he would not get to talk to them about Grant, so he turned and entered the building,
There were no lights downstairs, so Flint begin to light them one by one. He had never really worried about the night watch not having weapons, but at this point he was wishing for a sword. Each room he searched he found empty. Finally, he entered the morticians workplace. Tables where dead bodies would lay lined the walls, and coffins were stacked from floor to ceiling. However, there were no cadavers to be seen. It looked like they had all been removed in a hurry, and there were sheets and tools all over the ground. Overall it was a very eerie experience, especially because Grant was nowhere to be found.
There was one last room to check: the cellar. Grant must be down there. He crept up to the double doors and slowly opened them. Nothing seemed out of place, so he walked down the rickety stairs and held his torch high above his head.