Cold and damp seeped in around the shutters as the chill winter wind lashed rain harder against the front of the little inn. The few travelers who had not yet sought their beds upstairs huddled well away from the outside wall, hunching over half-empty tankards and pretending that the glow of the fire was enough to ward off the dark and cold that pressed heavily against the worn wooden walls.
Muirne had wrapped herself in a second shawl and eyed the guttering lanterns near the door with resignation as she finished wiping up the bar. It was noticeably colder on that side of the main room, and she was in no hurry to go over even long enough to replace the candles. Still, maybe more light would make the room less dreary than it was, so the innkeeper sighed and moved to fetch spare candles.
The knock that came on the door just as she reached for the first lantern was not expected. Nor was it the desperate pounding she would have anticipated from a traveler still caught out in the storm. Instead, it was firm, assured, steady. Continue reading