by Ian Leino
A squalid inn outside a rundown castle on a night as black as ravens' wings. After exchanging the bulk of my coinage for what passes for drink in this place, the barkeep offers to sell me a box of protective relics for my journey homeward.
As I released the catch and opened the lid, I smirked at the trinkets, and the simple naivety of these peasants and their superstitious beliefs. I drained my glass and headed for the door.
I placed my hand on the door latch, and turned for one more snide look at these country simpletons. Outside a hound bayed. Then another joined in. Then another. Soon, it seemed as if the entire town were awash in their mournful song, and it quickly rose to a frantic, feverish yelping that tore through me like an icy wind.
I dashed back to the bar, slammed my remaining coins on the table, snatched the box from the barkeeper's grubby hands, and rushed to my awaiting carriage, praying that I would make it out of this dismal town before the shadows closed around me.