"What you have told me intrigues me greatly, I shall soon send another to replace you," the figure murmered. Ward shook himself angrily, placing his hands on the window.
"No, do not damn another soul to this place, you must send nobody, besides... I have my own replacement. A new protector," he looked up at the tavern, visible some way in the distance.
"I do not condone your presumption that I would happily allow you to choose your own replacement, much less this infuriating criminal you speak of," the voice from the shadows of the carriage rose his tone slightly in impatience, "what is your logic, may I ask?"
"I have a feeling about him. Though misguided he may be, there is a power in him that I see in few others. A power I once held," He stepped away from the carraige and suddenly the age on his face seemed more pronounced. The lines and creases casting deep shadows like a twisted mask.
"You were a good ally, old friend," the shadow shifted slightly, the voice unusually calm and quiet, "I'm sorry for what is to happen."
"My time has come, I accept that and move on," with a muffled command, the driver flicked the whip which cracked on the horses flank. They cantered forward, heaving the great weight onwards.
"Though I do wish I knew who the culprit was!" the shadow called backwards.
"I have my ideas," Mr Ward sighed and followed in the carraiges wake as it turned the corner hidden by the trees that lined the road. When he reached the bend, he found the carraige had disappeared.
With yet another sigh, he carried on walking.
The moon rose high into the sky. The trees bent over the pathway, burdened with the sorrow of death and the weight of time hidden within their burly bark. The wind remained calm, occasionally picking up the odd leaf, moving it along.
Eventually Ward reached his destination. The edge of the cliff further along the track. In the far distance now was the inn, a small pinprick of amber light. Below him where the lakes and mountains and forests.
The moon once more descended behind the horizon as the sun made it's pastel approach. With the end of night came a bitter surge of cold, it swept over the grass in a frosting of white.
"Winter arrives early," he whispered, "the summer of my reign of protection is ended and so comes the fall before the descent into darkness and eventually the death of nature. Before life can be reborn. But winter brings with it great trouble and strife, can he cope? can he reach the end and survive the harsh conditions or will he fail?
I make a great sacrifice and an even worse risk in choosing my demise now, yet it must be done for I am sure that he is ready. So now that you are here to do what must be done, I ask of you one thing," Ward dropped a piece of paper upon the floor beside him, "give him this for me, and make it painless," Before he could utter another word, before he could think another thought or fear. His whole world went black and he lurched into inevitable death.