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The few locals in the common room glanced hopelessly at the door as it closed behind him. It was too cold for spring. As winter deepened and the year came to a close, the temperature had dipped lower than even the old timers could recall. Now, five moons later, it continued to fall. Spring thaw showed no signs of releasing them from the grasp of winter. Food and hope were quickly running out. Some believed the gods had abandoned their little corner of the world, others that they were being tested. No one knew for certain. He was not dressed for the extreme weather; a long, sleeveless robe, silk pants and vest, and simple, soft leather boots, but showed no signs of discomfort. If not for the quickly melting frost in his dark hair and on his eyelashes, one would think spring had finally arrived. His hair settled almost perfectly around his handsome face as he shook the moisture from it. His silver eyes scanned the room, a hint of mischief sparkling in them, accented by a slight upward turn at the corners of his mouth. Mischief... Maybe. Or was it madness? HIs actions showed evidence of neither... A simple meal and hot tea, a seat in a dark corner near the fire, no words exchanged with any other patrons. Not that there were many, a few vagrant souls seeking refuge from the cold, a warm fire, warm food and the possibility that someone would have news that things had shown any change other than for the worse. Two such souls did not look to be of the same, desperate stock as the majority of the patrons on this gods forsaken night. Seated on the opposite side of the fire and not sheltered in a shadowed corner, they ate their meal and shared the comfortable conversation of longtime friends. Both appeared hale and hearty, road hardened and, by their weapons, battle ready. The male was huge, nearly a giant, and appeared to be hewn from living stone. He wore a huge, curved sword across his back and glanced around the room casually, his eyes slowing slighting as they passed the exits. The female had a somewhat bestial appearance, nostrils flaring and ears twitching at the slightest sound. On her hips a fine pair of blades rested comfortably. They paid special attention to the stranger in the corner, strangers were rare since the slow downward temperature spiral began and they were the unofficial protectors of the small havens of light in this part of the darkening world. The stranger appeared to pose no threat, but the gleam of mischief or madness in his eyes, in fact his very presence, was unsettling in some way. There was something slightly unreal about him, unnatural. It was hard to put a finger on just what it was, he appeared to be just left of reality. The duo's hushed discussion about the stranger was cut short as the door to the inn burst open and a blast of arctic air tore through the room. Torches flickered and candles were snuffed out. A group of grey-green skinned humanoids shuffled into the room. True madness, born of hunger, shown in their beady red eyes. The pair was on their feet in a flash, weapons in hand, the stranger forgotten in the face of this obvious
cutting down two more as an alien smell. The pair looked at each other with more than a little apprehension and headed out the door into the frozen night." "Agreed. similar to the smell of a lightning strike. guttural shouts." grinned the stranger. disintegrating the top of it's head and ending the brief and violent conflict." He strode toward the door. a crossbeam falling and crushing the seat he had occupied only seconds before. . The stranger didn't move." he laughed. he looks fairly warm now anyway." the stranger said. He grabbed a thick winter cloak off the hook by the door and wrapped it around his shoulders."we should be able to find shelter and some answers there. "We need to get out of here." "Answers? It's fairly obvious what caused this." said the man. The pair turned to see the stranger lowering his hand and rising from his seat in the corner. "I'm sure he won't need it anymore. The woman moved with a brutal grace. Someone knocked over an oil lamp in the confusion and liquid fire spread quickly along the floor. overpowered the smoke filling the room. all seeking shelter behind the bar. "We'd best get out of here before we're as dead and burned as those behind the bar. "We don't need to end up like those unfortunate cowards." said the woman. her blades slashing the throats of two of the disgusting creatures cutting off any more of their incoherent. A flash of silver light pierced the air and the forehead of the remaining creature. igniting wooden tables and chairs as it went." he tittered. "The town of Fallcrest isn't far. The big man swung his sword in a broad arc. The other patrons moved in a panic toward the back of inn.threat. "As nice as the warmth would be. engulfing his dark corner in flames.