[And so it begins. :o You know the drill, introduce your characters as you will, and let's get this show on the road!]
The moon was waning and the cloud cover was thick, so there was precious little light for him to see by other than that of his magical torch, a toy he had bought from a vendor of magical trinkets a few markets ago. The street lanterns here had been neglected, and had gone out.
He shivered, huddling against the cold night air, and increased his pace. There was something odd about tonightâ€¦ a sense of unease, a disquiet abroad that was almost tangible; and his torch cast the oddest, flickering shadows around him. A side effect of the vendorâ€™s limited magical ability, he assumed.
Turning left down the side road that would take him onto Throne Street and his home, he stumbled as a black shape darted from behind and knocked into his legs. Swinging the torch around, he was greeted by the glowing green eyes and smug face of the next door neighbourâ€™s cat.
â€˜Shoo, Ebon, shoo! Away home, there is something in the airâ€¦â€™
Ebon bobbed her head, almost as if in agreement, and trotted away towards Throne Street, and he followed, taking comfort in her presence, even if she had tried to trip him.
The cat led him out of the side road and onto Throne Street, prowling along the centre of the road. He reflected that it was somewhat odd for her to avoid the shadows to either side, and when she stopped to hiss at something in an alley to the right, he almost leapt out of his skin.
â€˜Whoâ€™s there?â€™ He mumbled, then shook his head and spoke the words once more, louder, attempting to force confidence into his tone.
A creature slightly larger than Ebon shambled into view, bow-legged and head bowed. What was it? Perhaps it was some manner of dog? If it was, then it was the ugliest mutt he had ever seen. Stepping towards it tentatively, he crouched as it whimpered.
â€˜Whatâ€™s wrong with you, little fellow? Are you in pain?â€™
It expelled further pitiful utterances, and he felt compelled to reach out to it in sympathy for its distress.
â€˜Here, let me look at y-â€˜ He was cut short as it suddenly hissed, leapt, and latched itself to his face, muffling the sounds of his cries, expanding over his form like a shell of blackness forming over him, and finally engulfed him.
His torch clattered to the cobbles, as did his bones.
The White Wand in Baron City was abuzz with the gossip of the moment any morning you could care to mention, and today was no exception. The difference was that today there really was something to talk about.
â€˜Did you hear about the killings?â€™
â€˜â€¦Stripped clean, so I heardâ€¦â€™
â€˜Terrible, just terrible.â€™
â€˜What could have caused it?â€™
Of course, nobody really knew anything, so the conversations were circular in nature, looping around and around, the issue having no hope of being settled in any satisfactory manner and showing promise to continue until closing time.
Rumours and tales were not the only thing the White Wand was famed for, of course, and many of the dayâ€™s customers were simply there to take their fill of the innâ€™s exclusive ale, known to the clientele affectionately as â€œWand Juiceâ€, though properly named â€œWandâ€™s Ownâ€, or were having their breakfast, having stayed in the innâ€™s rooms the night before.