The crows fled before him in splashes of darkness against the coming dawn. It was often said that such birds were omens of ill fortune. He’d never seen them that way. He had always been fascinated by their ability to fly and he had long been searching for a flock of us his own. He wasn’t likely to find one but that didn’t keep him from hoping. He paused long enough to watch them disappear into the gloom where his eyes could no longer penetrate and then he lifted his gaze to the eastern skies. Very soon a new day would start and he still had a ways to go before he was safely within the confines of his home.
The bard had warned them not to get caught outside during the day.
It used to be that there were certain risks that could be taken while the sun was up, to get water, or relieve oneself, or tend to something else immediately near the house. But, the last time the bard had come through to sing his songs and share his tales he had warned all who would listen that the daytime would soon be completely unsafe. Only those who had listened survived the following weeks. The rest disappeared but only after their painful screams floated away from their homes.
Trist had been friends with the bard before he’d taken on the noble calling and so had trusted his word and stopped going out in the daylight. He had spent some time wondering if he would have listened so well if he hadn’t known the story master before. In the long hours of sunlight, there was time to ponder all kinds of what ifs and what could have beens.
Stepping forward again, Trist quickened his pace. He needed to hurry.
He’d spent the night checking on and chatting with his closest neighbors. He did that most nights. Trist didn’t mind that nobody ever seemed to come around to check on him. They were scared or had families to look after or had to spend the safe nighttime hours toiling away to provide for themselves and their loved ones. He understood. That was one of the reasons he was willing to go out and knock on doors each night. He didn’t have those same set of worries and responsibilities.
Being friends with the bard had certain perks like that. Trist did not take that for granted. He took it upon himself to help his neighbors as much as he could.
A hint of sunlight flashed across his path and Trist cursed. How he longed to be a bird. He could simply take to wing and fly away from the danger. He was fairly certain that he would be safe in the sky.
His front door came into view and Trist began to sprint.
He knew he was being paranoid. It was still too dark. There was no reason his heart needed to race the way it did, or his palms sweat, or his mind linger on the worst that could happen. He had heard that worst happening to some of his neighbors, some of his friends, though. And their screams were not easily forgotten.