The creature that called itself Raif was exploring the entity that it knew as the Great Big Stone Thing. Somehow—it itself did not quite know—it had managed to find its way onto the castle’s outer wall. Now it trotted along the flat pathway, nosing at the hands of every sentry it happened across, hoping for a snack-like morsel or at the very least a conciliatory pat on the head. Its luck in this department was mixed. For every pet it had received, it had gotten an angry swat; for every treat, a kick in the side.
Eventually, the creature tired of this exercise and sat down where it could look out through the gaps in the parapet. The sun was on the verge of setting, and the forest below was a rippling orange sea.
Raif had seen the sea once. Perhaps more than once. It could remember a moment, as if in a dream. But that didn’t matter.
Presently, the sun dipped below the horizon, and the colors of the world washed away to the dull grey of twilight. Raif rather liked this time of the day—the start of the sounds of night, quieter now with the approach of winter, the anticipation of a long nap in a warm, comfortable place.
There was movement at the edge of the forest.
Raif tensed, readying itself to bark, but then it thought better of the action and remained silent. By placing its head in the space between two battlements and craning its neck sideways, it could see the thing that had emerged from the woods, a humanlike creature with silver skin, faintly shimmering in the waning light. He was naked, and plainly male—young, yet strangely ageless. His eyes glowed with a supernatural light. He had triangular ears set atop his head, fur running across his shoulders and down his spine, and a lovely, white-tipped tail.
Raif had seen this being before. But where? When?
Pushing the uncertainty aside, Raif wagged its own tail and made again to bark, this time in greeting, but the wolf-boy put a finger to his lips, winked, and then spoke in Raif’s head.
Wouldst thou not draw their attention to me, Raphael? he whispered, his voice warmer but more distant than that of the Something. Unlike when the Something spoke to it, however, the creature could understand the speaker's every word. They know me not and shall only fear me, despite all that which I have given to them.
Raif tilted its head to one side to convey a question.
I come for to warn thee, child: Get thee to thy friends ere the last light of day fades from the sky. A terrible darkness shall creep through the valley this night. None of the Six should pass these hours alone.