It was a fine summer evening in Caladon. The crash of waves in the sea mixed with the singing of birds from the trees and the general sound of the busy city. The sky was almost completely free of clouds and currently displayed the prelude to what was almost certainly going to be a very beautiful sunset. People were strolling about, minding their own business, the great domes and towers of the royal palace playing scenery in the background. And in the midst of this was Manfred, standing by a fence and looking out over the water. It had been a long time since he had last been home, several years in fact. But even though he'd changed a lot in that time, the city had, to his surprise and relief, not changed in the slightest. Caladon was still Caladon, the greatest of free cities in Arcanum. Manfred found himself wondering how many of his old aquaintances still lived in the city, and if they would recognize him if they saw him. Or if he would recognize them. He probably would, he decided. At least some of them. Turning his gaze from the ocean to the city, he contemplated his next move. It was too late to seek out his employer at the current hour. He would have to find lodging for the night and seek the man out in the morning. But where to stay? Manfred tried as best he could to remember the names of the good inns in town, but it was hard. It'd been a long time since he'd been here, after all. Being unable to recall any of the establishments he sought, he decided to take the next logical step and ask for the way. It didn't take him long to find a constable who stood leaning against a lamppost. Good evening, officer, he said. The guard snapped to attention with a grunt and turned to face him, looking somewhat startled. Uh, ah, yes, a fine evening to you, citizen. How might I- I'm looking for an inn, to stay the night. Could you perhaps be so kind as to point me in the direction of a qualitative establishment? From their brief encounter, Manfred was able to piece together that the officer he'd just spoken to had been sleeping on his watch, but also that his knowledge of flophouses in Caladon was impeccable. It took Manfred no more than a couple of minutes to track down the inn from the guards’ description. It wasn’t as fancy as he was used to, but being considerately less rich than he normally was, he supposed it would have to do. The place was at least equipped with a saloon and a bar, which would have to do for the moment. It had a rustic feel to it, with its low beamed ceiling and glowing fireplace. There were other patrons in there, already enjoying the establishments’ beverages. Having paid for a room, Manfred strode into the saloon, ordered a drink, and sank down into a surprisingly comfortable armed chair near the fireplace. Sitting there, slowly draining the glass of cheap wine in his hand, he suddenly realized he'd been in that room before. He couldn't remember how old he'd been, but the features of the place spoke to his mind and memories. Perhaps he'd visited the place with his father as a child, or perhaps he'd stopped by for a quick drink before boarding the ship to Tarant all those years ago. He supposed it didn't really matter anyway. It was just another bar in another inn. As moments turned to minutes, Manfred was getting bored. His glass was almost empty and he didn't fancy another one, seeing that the first one had left a sour taste in his mouth. None of the other guests seemed like they were in a social mood, so he would have to entertain himself. He remembered then his old deck of tarot cards that he had, tucked away in the inside pocket of his coat. He'd forgotten that such items weren't frowned upon or laughed at here in Caladon, as they were in Tarant. People were almost afraid of magic over there, like if it was some kind of malevolent force or phenomenon. A silly thing to think, of course. Manfred had always thought of magic as just another way to power and understanding. Nothing more. By now he'd stacked and spread the cards out before him like his mentor had taught him in Tulla. Revealing them one by one, it seemed this would turn out as just another dull, ordinary reading. Fortune in this, failure in that, nothing exciting. But as he was about to reveal the final card, he frowned. Not at the cards, no, but his glass of wine. The fluid in it had turned to ice, and the glass was slowly getting covered by frost. Shortly after, he felt the air around him get cold and turned around, only to see that the rest of the customers had also noticed the odd phenomenon. There was no ice in the room, there was summer outside and no appearent source of the cold was visible. Manfreds breath came out in little clouds of smoke now, and he noticed to his great surprise that the coals in the fireplace were dying from the chill. The lights went out, suddenly, leaving the patrons of the inn in darkness. Someone gasped in shock, and someone else accidently toppled a glass or bottle which shattered against the floor. What is the meaning of this? An elderly mans voice asked of the darkness, I demand to know wha- The sentance was cut in half by a deafening bang which shattered everything made of glass in the room at once. A painful wave of cold swept through the establishment, and an inhuman growling suddenly sounded from somewhere in the darkness. Samwell Quillby, a voice whispered from nowhere and everywhere. No! Someone called in return, It's them! No! I don't want to-IIIAAARGH! The gut wrenching shriek was accompanied by the sound of tearing flesh and snapping bones. Whatever it was that had growled before now roared with a voice not of this world. Something wet spattered Manfreds cheek and immedietly turned to ice, causing him to quake with disgust and fear. He wanted to hide, or run, but he found to his horror that his legs wouldn't move. Someone cursed loudly and a mechanical click came shortly after. A gun was discharged several times, the flare of the shots illuminating the room for short moments. Moments was all Manfred needed to see the monstrosity in their midst; talons, horns, skin like oil and eyes like the sun reversed. The gunman was murdured with impossible speed, his bubbling scream cut off as the creature tore apart his throat with a single slash. A few moments of terrible silence followed. Manfred was at the verge of screaming out loud or crying like and infant when the warmth suddenly started to return. The cold disappeared entirely after only a few moments, leaving him dumbstruck and scared witless in the darkness. It felt like an eternity before he finally managed to muster the courage to speak. Is there anyone still out there? he squeaked, cringing in anticipation of being eaten alive.