Clouds moved across the moon’s bloody face, but even the wind was silent. No trees murmured; no leaves rustled. The acolyte, his fingers gripping the amulet, moved cautiously after the old man, his eyes fixed on the shadowy apse. There was something odd and unnerving about the darkness that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. His feet dragged as if he were walking through thick mud. The amulet in his right hand grew hot. Hot enough to burn, but he dared not let go.
The ravens shuffled and rattled their ragged wing feathers. The acolyte cringed and his shuffling steps came to a halt. He raised the amulet fearfully and pressed it to his brow. Pain seared, but he gritted his teeth, letting the images of blood and death wash, like a filthy tide, into his thoughts. Suppressing a cry, he thrust the amulet back into the pocket of his robe.
A pale smudge moved back and forth at head height—the monk—and the acolyte wondered if his superior had found the altar or just the place where it had been. He was on the point of calling out when fear froze his tongue to the roof of his mouth.