As I strode through the town square, I noticed the conspicuous absence of traffic. Women chatting and laughing as they went about their errands, children running, playing and shrieking, darting among the crowd and carelessly knocking over someone’s basket or shelf, and old men sitting in the shade of the well cover, discussing the weather or the crops; all of it was absent from the square as I passed through. The well looked oddly alone.
Also conspicuous was the minor damage to most of the buildings I passed as I walked through the deserted town square. The most obvious were the boarded up windows or broken down yard fences. Assorted pieces of litter wafted across the square on gusts of lonely breezes, making the place look all too much like a ghost town.
A chill ran up my spine as the inn came into view. It looked just as deserted and abused as the rest of the town, but my friends were somewhere inside. Was I ready for this? I had never pitted my magic against another’s magic.
By the time I opened the door, I think I was jived up to face almost anything; what I wasn’t prepared for was ‘nothing’. There was no one in the front hall, not even behind the desk or in the kitchen. With my skin positively crawling, I started for the stairs.