- by Neil O'Sullivan
Chapter 1 : The Messenger
The wet cobblestones glistened and shone in the moonlight as the rain beat down upon the cloaked rider and his weary horse.
They continued at a slow pace. The staccato clip clop of hooves echoed around the empty streets. Lights flickered from behind shuttered windows and the muffled sounds of a busy tavern offered a tantalising welcome up ahead.
They had travelled for many days without rest. The inventory they carried was far too valuable to risk loss from an attack by the marauders and opportunists that infested these lands.
At the tavern the rider dismounted and tethered his steed to the hitching rail and made the horse comfortable before moving to go inside.
As he pushed the door open the warm stale air was a welcome respite from the cold wet drudgery that had persisted for so long. The taverns’ patrons looked up to see who had interrupted them as the wind howled through the doorway.
He stood nearly six feet tall shrouded in a black cloak, dripping and glistening as the rain ran off him. Only the angular features of his nose and bearded chin were visible as the hood cast a shadow across his brow.
In his left hand he held a gnarled wooden staff with a curious looking gem set at its top and in his right hand he held what appeared to be a large tome, beset with metal clasps and embellishments.
The sounds of the tavern were now subdued as more stared to find out who this stranger was.
“Who the bloody hell are you then?”, shouted a drunken farmhand. Much to the delight of his sniggering companions.
The stranger looked up and by now the place was all but silent.
“Paragon”, said the stranger.