It was a relief to finally reach the town. Ilavna had badly miscalculated the time; if she'd known it would take this long to arrive, she would have stopped and made camp two hours ago. Instead, she'd kept pressing on, thinking that she'd doubtless reach the town in just a few more minutes. For two full hours.
Now it was well after nightfall and most of the houses were closed and dark, though here and there the edges of wooden shutters flickered with hints of candlelight inside. Still, she decided, it wasn't entirely her fault; maps of the hinterlands were unreliable when they could be found at all, and she was navigating on little more than the direction of the road and a handful of carved stone markers.
As towns went, it wasn't bad; shops lined the main road, most with dwellings above them, and they seemed to be in good repair. She picked out the signs hanging in front of them in the moonlight, identifying a blacksmith, a cooper, a thatcher, a cobbler... Ah, thank Abarik, an inn. The inn sat across from a general store, and looked as if it served mainly as a public house; but she didn't doubt they'd have rooms to let.
Something moved in the corner of her vision, and Ilavna turned her head to look. A dark figure had just stepped out from between two buildings: armored, like herself, and holding a drawn sword. It turned towards her, stopped, then lifted its blade and charged.
Its eyes were glowing dimly, red coals in the darkness.
Ilavna hesitated, gaping; Swift, her mount, did not. The warhorse charged, shouldering the sword aside and trampling the armored figure as Ilavna clung desperately to the saddle. She reined up in front of the inn, looked back once, and decided she needed help with this. Help, and witnesses. "Stand," she said quietly, and felt the warhorse go still underneath her.
Then she dismounted and went inside.