Chapter I: The Chainborn Boy [2]Mature

He had little to do but wait patiently as the coach carried him along the road. Twenty minutes previous, he had occupied himself by braiding his hair so that it fell pale and tidy to his waist. He had then taken unwarranted precision in cleaning his fingernails and buttoning his overcoat: vanity was second nature when you were a lord. A deposed lord, but one nonetheless. The manners remained with you.

          He turned towards the narrow, curtained window behind his head, letting the last moonlight slant over his eyes, grey eyes that shone with a childhood that he was not aware lived on. His gaze fell on them, the six riders that had chased him since the road had begun at the border of prison territory. They were all obscured beneath their riding cloaks, blending them into the black sheet of sky above. He didn’t need to speak with them or look in their eyes to know what they desired, he knew their intent by the horses they were astride, Noxian horses, the fastest creatures in the domain, summoned from the darkest Art, Maleficium.  They came like ink through ice water, their forms amorphous and consuming around their victim, who could not even clench the first inflexion of terror in their throats before they were taken by the silence. The riders wanted such a fate for him, all they knew of him was his persistence and his worthiness to die. They would kill him, rejoice in stunting another ancient family tree, and then they would take the boy.

He was afraid; it was as simple as that. Fear twisted in him like a rusted bolt, doubt festering in his body as he listened to the world. Hammering hooves became funeral drums and thrashing reins were each a crescendo turning his nerves to liquid. The nights of Qirïdun, the most doldrums season of them all, had taken its toll on his mind. The first months of the year were overtaken by the residue of frost, and tradition said that people were to wait until Yulen week before venturing out for long periods, when they could be sure that the spirits had finally taken their leave. Those that didn't were those who wanted the wraith's touch and to join the living night. But he couldn't have waited that long, every day was a precious loss. The dark season had already played tricks on him, showing him things that had already left the world and snatching his fears from the corners of his mind, bringing them to life to drive him mad and paranoid. But as it turned out, his suspicion of the shady figures in the inn nursing empty tankards and the hitch-hiker with one outstretched thumb and the other missing had been well-deserved.

The End

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