The imposing clock tower looms in the semi-darkness of the swirling mist strangling the light in Curdle Village. About the Square in front of it paces Leafling – an older woman with keen eyesight – and Splint – a young man still wide-eyed and afraid of the responsibility given to The Village Watch. Both are soaked from recent rain.
At a nod from Leafling, Splint joins her in walking up and onto Curdle Lane. They peer into empty buildings which until recently had housed thriving businesses, their once gaudy storefronts now paled and tatty in the scarce light. Splint lights a lamp and hangs it upon a low stick, holding it aloft as they pass alleyways and entrances. Shapes scurry before the light can fully touch them causing Splint to clutch his tunic at the neck and walk closer to Leafling.
Leafling pulls Splint into a doorway as somewhere above them, clouds burst with another heavy rain. It slaps onto the cobbled streets and soon creates fast running rivulets carrying mud and debris down the miserable lane. Splint’s lamp extinguishes, leaving them in darkness.
A howl startles them. Splint bumps into Leafling and sends them both backwards into the shop. As Leafling is about to complain, a flickering light growing in intensity catches her attention. It’s not long before angry shouts and conversation can be heard as a mob of angry villagers start their patrol with ill intent.
Peering from their hiding place, Splint tugs on Leafling’s arm and points to the opposite direction as another howl rends the air. Her sharp eyes pick out the unmistakable silhouette of a pack of rabid dogs looming down the lane. They howl, sniffing the air for food.
Splint looks to the approaching mob in panic, tearing his gaze from one foe to the other. Leafling does the same but where her partner is panicked, she remains calm, calculating risk. As the dogs approach, she tugs on Splints’ arm and nods to the back of the shop where a trapdoor lays partially open. Relieved, Splint runs to it and yanks it the rest of the way before quickly scrambling inside.
Leafling remains; watching, waiting.