Prologue: The Figure in the Shadows

The figure in the shadows remained motionless as the other four people in the room stared at him. No one moved. Everyone was deathly silent. All they were focused on was watching their leader, waiting. They knew he had a plan and their greedy minds were eager to know it as soon as possible. But no one dared to rush him. Their leader was a patient man. They all knew they could be waiting for hours before he finally stepped out of the dark shadows, into the filtered light. Then he still wouldn't show his face, keeping his cloak covering his face and eyes, as if he were afraid of the slightest bit of light, even the dim glow that bathed the room.

Minutes ticked by and the men were getting impatient. It seemed like their leader had gone to sleep. A place they didn't want him to be. They started to glance at each other in boredom and one or two shuffled their feet. They were immediately silenced by a frosty glare from one of the others. They didn't want to bring down anything bad upon them, not while they were so close to finding out the plan.

Several of the men scowled at their leader, but he didn't seem to notice. Finding nothing else to amuse themselves, they looked around at the tiny, dark room they had been summoned to. It was nothing really; just a dusty, cobweb-filled attic, with no windows, but a hole in the roof letting in a shaft of moonlight, stabbing through the rest of the darkness. It was littered with an eerie jumble of furniture and boxes, all covered in stark white sheets. They themselves we sitting on some of the boxes, and their leader was standing in the corner, right where the roof sloped down to the floor, where the shadows were darkest. Nothing to look at that would keep even a child occupied for long.

Tension started to grow in the air. The man in the shadows felt it and briefly smiled.

Everyone noticed the smile. Three of the men took the hint and resumed back into silence. One man took the fuel and lit the fire. He leapt up and pointed a finger angrily at the figure in the shadows.

How long do w-

A resounding clap rung through the room.

It happened so quickly that no one could actually say exactly what had happened. One second the man was on his feet, the next he was on the floor and cringing in pain. Their leader didn't even appear to have moved. Then he spoke for the first time, in a soft yet powerful and deadly voice.

I trust that won't be happening again.

Everyone fell into a strained silence. A shiver ran through the men. Each felt the bloodshot red eyes of the man in front of them fall on him. A cold wind started to run through the room, which only the leader seemed unaffected by. Everyone kept their eyes down, fearing to challenge the man they knew to be superior to them.

Sit down. The leader spoke again. All four men sat down. We have more important things to discuss.

The uneasy men glanced at each other. This is what they had come here for.

You already know, the leader continued. The reason for my calling of you all here. And I have come today to tell you- He paused for effect. I have found them.

Power and greed glinted in all the men's eyes, and they relaxed slightly with relief. But still none of them dared speak.

As you may have assumed, this is only the first stage of our plan. There is still a great deal of work left to go. Although we have one, the other four need to be convinced to come and they need to get here alive and well. We will have problems. People are suspecting our plans and will try to lead them to safety. We cannot let this happen. I want you all to be on your guard.

He looked at each man, all of whom turned their faces down.

Do not disappoint me.