A bird called loudly into the night, disturbing the stopped time and calling the world back into action. The suspended clocks ticked over and began to chime, and the flow of running water through pipes and drains started back up again with a groan, waking the inhabitants of houses from their slumber before they rolled over again, uneasy and unaware.

He placed his robe and hat away and sank back into his chair exhausted. Creaking his chair towards the fire he threw his great grey beard over one shoulder and allowed the warmth to soak into his bones, closing his weary eyes in satisfaction. Many a year had he been keeping everything moving in the middle of the night when fewer people noticed the passage, or stillness as it were in this case, of time.

He had been trained by a master, long dead, and where once there had been a timekeeper in every town they were now few and far between and taking on larger expanses of land, watching over more people than ever. He had been putting it off, content with his little tower room full of books and the fragrance of spell-herbs and potion-oils and the company of his trusty crow Ruin, but he returned to the thought he had often had lately which was that it was time to take on an apprentice.

It wouldn’t be easy, it never was. That’s why their kind was dying out, with so few young ones to take on the cause, or possibly too many wizened old men too reluctant to give up their power. He would search out candidates at a local orphanage, as his master found him, and find a child worthy and willing for the calling. The thought grew inside his mind and began to excite him.


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