<Storyteller> The little girl with dark skin, a little over worn dress and scraggily hair.. she looks at you, studying you a moment.

<Henry> “Who…” Henry spun where he stood to face the sound of the voice and crouched down so that he was more on an even level with the young girl. He could understand himself being stuck in the purgatory of death, if that was what this was, but his heart broke for the small child. He eyebrows furrowed together in concern and he held out a hand to the child, palm up, “Are you alright, my dear? This… does not seem to be the place for

a child.”

<Storyteller> “I want to go home!” She cried out. Her little voice was loud but scared and it sounded rather ethereal. “I want my mommy”, she squeaked out.

<Henry> “I am so sorry, Child.” If she let him, he’d draw her towards himself and wrap his arms around her in a comforting embrace, “It will be alright. hush now, little one.” He didn’t know if that were true as he looked around at the darkness, but there was nothing he could see. It angered him, to see a child trapped here, but his anger had no direction. What had this child ever done to earn this sort of fate.

<Storyteller> As you say these words, you exhale vapor. The temperature here just seems to get colder and colder. You feel the hairs on the back of your neck rising up as well. You touched her and it was even colder. She was frigid in temperature. Her black skin grew more gray in appearance. Her eyes, more lost, more dead. “I’m never gonna see mommy again”, she whispered

and sobbed with little ice crystals for tears coming down her eyes.

<Henry> He shivers at the coolness filling the air and the icy feeling of the little girl, “No, no, no.” Henry whispers softly as he tries to warm the child by holding her against himself for warmth. “We shall find a way out of here. Tell me what your mother looks like, child. Her name.” His voice was calm, even as he wracked his mind for a solution. If he extinguished the candle, they’d be in darkness, but it was -wrong- and he needed

to do something for the girl. Could he risk walking farther into the darkness?

<Storyteller> She’s not getting any warmer but at least cold tends to make someone go numb after a while. “She’s Nicki. I …” She trembles and then looks around scared. “Something’s here. You have to go, mister. You are not like me. I have to go.”

<Henry> shakes his head as his body seems to numb past the point of shivering, “I am afraid that I don’t know where I am, my dear… or how to leave, but… I can’t simply leave you here alone.”

<Storyteller> “You have to go back. There’s something here too.”

<Henry> looks around, his eyes looking into the darkness, “What is here? I haven’t seen anyone….I don’t know the way back.”

<Storyteller> The sounds of things moving about could be made out. There were things with claws walking over the dirt and maybe concrete out there? It was impossible to know exactly as they stirred. Now and then a low gutteral growl could be made out that sounded a lot like alligators. Then… you see a man step out of the shadows who was black, had some run down dickies on

that had seen better days. His black hair was littered with silver hair as well here or there and his brows were fluffed up. He had big black eyes and a decent sized nose. He was a big guy that had some weight to him as though he ate well -but- he also was one who worked out and he was not really fat. He had been kneeling a moment and then stood up, walking toward you and the candle light.

<Henry> Knew well that the girl was frightened and scared. Henry swallowed, and forced his chilled body to rise, though he wasn’t in anyways intimidating. He looked every bit the part of the soft bookworm as he put himself between the frightened child and the man, “Who are you? What do you want?”

<Storyteller> The man gestured to the girl. “I will take her.” His accent was thick southern black with some creole mixed in. “She need to come wit me.”

<Henry> Wasn’t comforted by the noises in the darkness or the man’s assertion that we was going to take the girl, “I have no intention of letting you harm the child and I dare say that -you- sir, are not her mother.”

<Storyteller> “I know I am not her mudder. Now you do not belong here. You play and will draw the daemons. Get out.”

<Storyteller> the sounds of creatures drawing closer … it’s just getting obnoxious. You see alligators of various sizes moving back and forth and the old man looks at them and hisses and they seem to want to back off some. “Gimme her and go back. You stay and you will be captured. You wanna see her, come to the water, the swamp where we at.”

<Henry> half shied away from the gators and eyes the man dubiously. He didn’t want to draw out deamons and he certainly didn’t belong here, “I don’t know the way back.” Henry tries explaining to the man, “If you can keep her safe from whatever I draw out, then please, do so…” once again he was practically helpless in this, but he handed the child over.

<Storyteller> The man takes the little girl, despite her protests of fear. She though seems to calm down in his arms as though that was all she needed to realize it was okay. “I’ll show you”, he said and then he began to walk past you and away from the flame. “Come out to de swamp, mon. There is things you need to know.” He’d then point and snort, and down the

way, Henry could see a pale blue light. “Go dat way. Git you goin’ now.”

<Henry> Would try to calm the child as he gave her to the man and then followed. He was beyond cold and numb, but he gave the old man another long look, “Please keep her safe. The swamp is a large place… but I will try.” Forcing his legs to move towards the light was difficult, be he steeled himself for it and trudged on. Of course this could be a trap, but something about the man told Henry to trust him.

<Storyteller> “You find us if you look. Bring a boat and listen to the wind.” He’d then turn and head off. There were some alligator growls and hisses but then everything went silent. Getting to the blue light, you feel you draw closer and closer, and then the blue light is all around you… and you open your eyes.

<Henry> gasped and sat bolt upright, sucking in almost panicked breaths as he patted himself down, presumable checking that he wasn’t dead, dying, or missing any limbs to frostbite. Finding himself intact he’d groan and fall back onto the ground. What a nightmare.

<Storyteller> You were now in a bed, in a dark room that seemed to be some sort of study with books and desks and ornate trinkets here or there.

■► Cassian ◄■ glanced over at Henry from a chair in front of his desk. “Oh, so you have finally awakened. That is good.”

<Henry> supposed a good question would be why there was a bed in a study. That seemed terribly irregular. Henry blinked rather confusedly at the ceiling for a few moments before turning his head to give Cassian an odd look, “I don’t suppose you would mind telling me where I am? This is getting dreadfully unsettling, but at least there is more like here and it is warm….” Henry slowly pushed himself into a sitting position and looked

around properly, “Ah… and I suppose this hasn’t all been an odd sort of dream… but… why is there a bed in your study?”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Because sometimes I take care of patients here or I rest here myself.” the room was pleasant enough, smelling of nice incence. “You needed to be brought somewhere, so I brought you to my home. I share this place with others but we have some time to talk and then let you rest and get where you need to go for work tomorrow.”