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                 The darkness of the night surrounded him. The moonlight showing the footpath that was usually employed by dwellers and merchants during the day. Sir Gerhardt mastered his authority over the tired destrier, testing his capabilities. They have been riding for hours now without a break, the toll taken on both the rider and the great stallion would have been clearly visible to anyone passing by, but strangely enough, the roads were empty.

                 Somewhere nearby, a pack of wolves started to howl; even the most treacherous animal of the forest knew that what was about to happen was inevitable. It was primal instinct that the army of soldiers flanking the silver and black banners on the south end of the river won't be kind enough to preserve anything in their path. It was written in the stars. Soothsayers had predicted the fall of Ataxia long ago, but none believed it to be today.

              Time was not on his side, urgency was of utmost importance. Many lives depended on his ability to make haste to the castle with the message. He had sent his squire a few hours earlier with a sealed message containing the proceedings of the battle; it was supposed to be an easy victory. To think he had been an unsuspecting fool; the enemy troops were not supposed to be this large according to the information they had recieved. It didn't end at that, Lord Caradoc's troops had known exactly where their camp was located. There was only one explanation for this, there was a high ranking advisor to the king snooping within the castle walls. A traitor. Sir Gerhardt was pondering on the identity of the spy when he finally caught a glimpse of the walls surrounding the capital city of Ataxia, Ayenvale.

           "Come on boy, just a little faster." He muttered, kneeing the warhorse to hasten the pace. The gates to the city were clamped shut, a few soldiers could be seen patrolling the perimeter. Sir Gerhardt didn't slow, he raced at the iron gates at full speed, willing his soldiers to be attentive.

            "Open the gates!" He yelled dragging the attention of the gatekeepers. The iron clad gates were flung open without a second of hesitation when the identity of the rider was recognized. Sir Gerhardt often rode in and out of the city, as second in command of the army; his face was not easily forgotten by the commoners, and certainly not by his own soldiers.

            He raced through the gates, just as they were wide enough to admit him in. Maybe luck was on his side after all.

            "Sound the bells in the west tower!" Sir Gerhardt shouted at a few nearby men, who immediately sprang into action.

            He darted through the empty cobblestone streets, the hooves of his great stallion clanking on the dirty road. The deaft eerie silence was dreary to his ears, this was not how it was supposed to be. Sir Gerhardt cursed, if only he knew, what he knows now, earlier. 

             The drunkards that usually employed the taverns were nowhere to be seen and the distasteful women of the night employing the forsaken corners of alleyways, had disappeared into the dark. Candles were lit at the windows of each and every house and shop, as a declaration of optimism and felicity as the culture of Ataxians demanded. A whole lot of good that will do, Sir Gerhardt thought to himself, knowing that judgement day was already upon them. On any other day he would have savoured the unity and congruence his people had, but today he knew it was naivety and ignorance. They galloped uphill through the deserted streets, down the drawbridge that crossed the moat surrounding the ancient, gothic styled, massive stone walls of the castle and through the gatehouse to the gardens that would have been bewtiching in daylight.

            Sir Gerhardt leapt off his fatigued stallion in mid gallop and sprinted through the entrance of Ayenvale castle. Unlike the hushed streets of the capital, the corridors of the castle were bustling with activity. Running through familiar corridors, hustling maids and servants in his path, he finally arrived at His majesty's study, only to find it empty. Cussing for probably the thousandth time that day, Sir Gerhardt thwarted a maid hurrying with a wooden bucket of water and cloth.

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