"The darkest night. No. It was not the night. It was them, the first time they came."
The hour was late. The group moved slowly, heading to the castle. There were like ten or twelve men, wearing hoods and keeping his heads down, as if they were praying for remorse. Around them, the high pillars, pushed by oxes and crowned with fire, acted as enormous candles, both in front and below the crowd.
Guiding the group was a sole rider on a magnificent horse. No one else would dare to go but him. No one had the courage or the stupidity or both, to cross the walls and directly met with the likes of the Nobles. It was the unique job of the Warder, Ciprian, to do so.
Some moans came from the men behind. Even if they were murderers, rapers and thieves, as they felt the proximity, the smell of fear fill their
hearts. Just a few were brave enough to defy and laugh, just as if they were mocking fate.
"Almost there" said Ciprian, when the group reached the main gate.
He didn't need to call out. He never did. The doors opened swiftly, as if they weren't made of heavy iron.
"You may come in" Said a masculine voice. The same greeting voice that had welcomed him ever since he first came.
Ciprian dismounted his horse and entered. The crowd followed. They were hesitant, they resisted... but it was useless. Their legs were moving on their own, copying the rhythm of Ciprian's footsteps. Some screams, some angry hatred-filled curses escaped their throats. And that was all.
They walked pass the Gates and the surrounding walls and arrived to the entrance of the castle. Just below of the archway that preceded the hall, a man awaited.
Ciprian looked at him. The man hasn't changed in ten years. Still, in his forties, he was tall and attractive and wore a long olive-green robe with golden ornaments. Dark curls of black hair enclosed his face and run a little pass his neck. His skin was a little tanned and seemed soft to the touch, despite the apparent age.
He leaned forward, just a little. Slim lips were curved in the form of a soft smile, teasing and creepy; yet not as terrifying as those blood-red colored eyes that fixedly stared at the men below the Ward.
Valerius Opel Stridan. The Second Son.
Among the Nobles, he was no doubt, the equivalent to a king. All his demeanor was embellished with a regal touch. The way he stood, strong and confident; the movement of his hands, careful and distinctive. And yet, the air in his surroundings, almost like the perfume of cold winter, the smile in his face and the crimson tainted color of his eyes, were enough to make Ciprian remember not to get rid by appearances.
He tried not to shiver. Even after all those years, he still had to gather all of his willpower to keep his cool in front of him.
"Poor child" Valerius said with an understanding tone, just before turning to the helpless crowd "Yes. Eleven of them, as accorded. Very well done. You may go, now. Tell your people we approve."
Ciprian didn't say a word as he turned back, leaving the men behind cursing louder. He didn't want to stay... he never wanted to see, so he walked faster away.
"Call the Prince. Call the Prince" Were the last words he heard, tauntingly coming from one of the damned, as he mounted his horse and rode away. And meanwhile, the shadows gathered. Engulfing the night to prey on their souls.