No one had to tell her that everything was about to change. She tasted smoke on the wind. Felt the earth shift and tremble as dormant powers stirred. Watched the shadows beckon and dance. She was of the shadows, smoke, and power. Dancing lightly across the strands that buckled and flexed, light as a fever or a touch of chill, she knew what stirred beyond the ken of men and women.
We should move. She whispered to him. I taste smoke and ashes.
He looked up and out the window. No dark smudge on the horizon, no flicker of flames. He was not surprised. She often spoke in riddles. He took his time. Cleaned the dark red streaks from his dagger. Chanted and extinguished the brazier, the fuel in the bowl reduced to ash and the scent of rot. He stripped off his stained gloves and secured them in the bag he brought for the purpose. He took a long look at the scene. Two lovers, dead of mysterious causes. Some would whisper of witch craft. Others of schemes and scandals and vows made in the dark. No one would miss the aged and fragile document tucked safely in a leather case in the coat pocket near his heart. A charter for lands and a charge from a long dead king to care for all that fell within them.
She was investigating the brazier for any scraps when he spoke.
“Where is the smoke?”
She flitted close to him. North.
He rubbed his thumb across the heavy ring, set with pale ivory upon right hand. The ivory had been carved in the likeness of a woman, but was worn smooth as if he had absorbed a little of the image each time he brushed against it. North. It was sooner than expected. Much sooner. Someone else had to be mucking about. Other powers moving.
“Only smoke? Or is there a fire already.”
Her laughter reminded him of a harp strummed by the breeze, rippling and discordant. Sparks make smoke. She brushed around the room. Many things stirring up the ashes. Things shifting in the beneath. Sleepy sleepy still. But moving. Restless.
His teeth shone bright white in the sliver of moonlight flashing through the drapes. “North then, and soon.” He gathered his walking stick and departed from the house. She followed behind him, clinging to his shadow. Leaving death behind.
I am a wicked wicked thief and stole this first line from Bek. See what else is changing here.