Vervor Alstron stopped on the street and turned to face his friends. "You two, stay here," he said bravely.
Elathrin Vuthiniel smirked at him. She was an elf and a wizard, slight and slender and gracefully delicate, and not given to following orders spoken by mere humans. "Nervous, are we?"
Bardren Softspoke, whose fingers had been entwined with hers for the last half-hour, tugged her back. "Easy, my tiger. Let our warrior face this test alone." Bardren was a half-elf and a rogue, but he and Elathrin had fallen for each other almost as soon as they'd met. At times they seemed less like boyfriend and girlfriend and more like co-conspirators; but then, Elathrin's magic had always run to illusions and mischief.
"Terrified," answered Vervor. He was the warrior of the group, taller and heavier than either of his friends. He was also the one who tended to fling himself recklessly into danger. This time, though... no, thinking about it didn't help. Thinking only made the fear worse. I am Vervor Alstron, he reminded himself, slayer of monsters and protector of the innocent. I have nothing to fear!
He wasn't at all sure he believed that, but he shook out his shoulders and crossed the street to the heavy stone wall and the massive iron-bound door. Feeling as if he was stepping off a high cliff, he took hold of the heavy rope that hung down beside the door and pulled on it. Faintly, he could hear the low tolling of a bell on the far side of the wall.
The door creaked slowly open, revealing a massive figure in spiked armor wrought of some dark metal. It held a sword longer than Vervor was tall, and red sparks flickered all along the blade.
Vervor swallowed and asked: "Is Mara here?"