The grey stone walls of the keep are silent and somber, cold in the moonlight, ice and blood pouring over the flagstones in the courtyard. This beautiful spring night has begun to lose its charm, unfortunately, as roiling clouds begin to disperse the moonlight, casting eerie shadows about, a mist rolling in over the ground, tendrils of the greyish fog wrapping about the gardens and trees. Somewhere far to the south, in the forest, a wolf howls hauntingly, but nothing answers. The night has become still, lacking most any sound of life, even the gentle breeze is soundless through the grasses. Sound asleep within the damp walls lay a young boy and his family, utterly unaware of their future. Unaware of how preciously short it has just become. Nikolai Andarin Priev, son of Ianovan and Justina, brother to Ivan and Petra, lays in a peaceful dream of sun and shadow, his stomach full of dinner, his muscles tired from play and chores. There are two or three servants up and about, but even they are exceedingly quiet, heading for bed themselves. The gates are barred, locked, and one man stands at the watch. While there has never seemed to be such peace as there might be, someday, the family is not of very noble blood. Of a minor house, their land, their estates are nothing to be won, nor fought over. Truthfully, Ianovan had grown comfortable, resting on his money, living his life out in relatively quiet joy.
Abruptly, distant but close enough, a sight presents itself in the night. A sight that is sure to strike apprehension, worry, and an awful, chilling fear into the hearts of most men. From out of a wood, first one horseman rides. The steed is a gigantic, black nightmare of a horse. Its rider is not much different. Here and there, glints of a foreboding red can be seen upon the body of this rider. Behind it, there is another horseman. And then another.
And then another.