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© 2010 Linsen. All rights reserved.

A Dark and Stormy Night

The rain, at first barely a suggestion of moisture, quickly grows to a deafening crescendo. It obscures everything, a solid black wall filling the night. Puddles form between the cobbles in the courtyard, joining together in ever larger pools of water. The water runs down the walls, gushes through the drainpipes, beats against the shuttered windows. Accompanied by an insidious wind that finds its way into every nook and cranny, the storm rapidly swallows the old, lonely building. The monastery cowers beneath the night’s fury, trying to make itself as small and impermeable as possible

A single candle burns up in the highest tower of the monastery, flickering from time to time in the ever-present draft. The vagaries of the candle’s uncertain flame shed a soft, gentle light on a thick sheet of parchment. It is an old text, illuminated with elaborate images of dragons, knights and enchantresses. None of these are the subject of the man at the desk’s intense concentration, however. It is on a small, unassuming symbol hidden in a corner of the page that he is focused. Muttering softly to himself as he works, he occasionally makes indecipherable scribbles or arcane sketches on another sheet.

Time seems  to pause, as if hesitant to interrupt the man and his lonely candle. The storm rages outside, but is unable to send more than grasping tendrils through the cracks in the shutters. The rain beats a steady rhythm on the lead roof, the constant noise further isolating the room. The candlelight creates a cocoon that envelops the man and his work, a space into which nothing dares intrude but the draft and the sound of the rain. Frozen save for the man’s irregular movements, it is an endless moment, stretching on into the night.

Gradually the candle burns lower and the rain slackens until it is once more nothing but a gentle whisper against the walls. As the candle starts to sputter with its dying light, the man at last lifts his head, his eyes bright with success. It is done; he has at last deciphered this final piece of the puzzle.

Thanks to Petri Voges for some useful feedback which led to my making some small but meaningful changes to the end of the text.

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