You weren't able to make it to the funeral, but the people had told you that it was a nice and calm ceremony. Your guardian didn't know many besides you and had led a quiet and isolated life. With no other relatives, he had left you all his fortune, which he invested in your family's estate. Part of it had already been spent, after all you just went through four long years of studies, and college was expensive. Yet, a good part is left, bound up in the estate as it may be.
It could be a few months, if not more, before your inheritance can be liquidated into movable currency which you can use, providing that you want to sell the estate and return to the city.
Either way, now you are left in Cinders, among its whole questionable glory. The Season is fast on your heels, and, while it's not a bad time to be here, there is an itch in this place, a quiet pressure that is unlike any other. A slow terror that digs in at unexpected moments.
Cinders is a paradox, as it always has been. A small town at the edge of nowhere, huddled at the edge of the thick forest and the wilds that lay beyond it always seemed a poor choice for a hideaway. Certainly, it's a far cry from the bustling city you've quit to see to your guardian's affairs.
In contrast with the crowded, labyrinthine city, Cinders is well-planned and well-composed. Sweeping circular drives show off half-moon rows of grand townhouses, ostentatious in their well-balanced simplicity. The sun hangs in the sky, and, in this light, with the roofs gleaming, the spectacle of life that is here looks appealing indeed.
Here, at the centre of town, gentry and commoners mingle. In the summer, the seasonal miners and dock workers congregate around the marketplace and river harbours, while, on the other side of town, well-dressed persons of all possible description amble and nod their way through the streets, chasing fortune in their own way.
Also, in the midst of it all, the demons, spiky and resplendent in frock coats of crimson, vermilion, cerulean, and gold, are like glowing coals against their greyish retinues of the Fallen.
And that is another shock you've gone through after the funeral of your guardian. The demons had set up a permanent residence in Cinders, for one reason or the other, and have been keeping a watchful eye on everyone. They have left you alone for the time being, but you have been in the town for only three days. You've seen demons before, just not in such a number, and out in the open like this. Yet, you have never before seen the Fallen. Even their name you've first heard when you returned to Cinders.
A carriage with colours of gold and black drives in front of you forcing you to step back onto the curb. Behind the drawn curtains you see the vague shape of its occupant. When you spot the Fallen thralls on the drivers' seat, you can only assume that the being inside the carriage is a demon.
The people on the street beside you avert their gazes automatically, but you are at loss of what to do.
- Look at the carriage.
- Look at the Fallen.
- Avert your gaze.