Aher's dark mood had not been improved by the journey through the grey and twilit lands about the ancient manor, nor the tangled skull-wood that surrounded it, or least of all by the lashing rain, which slicked his thin, downy silver hair against his skull with ferocious slaps. Faerie-fire lightning swam through the ceiling of the clouds, followed soon by a leviathan rumble.
Since the rain started, he had been loath to ride his old nag-mule. It was a wily and ornery animal, with a dark temper to match it's owner's dark moods, and it hated to be ridden in mud. Leading her by the reigns, Aher had tramped sandal-shod feet through two or three miles of mud, until he reached the inner wall of the manor grounds.
He paused in the arch of the wall, where on either side, sheets of water splashed a muddy trough in the ground. He opened his saddle-pack, and reached in a hand to feel, and sighed with relief. The vellum was dry, unharmed. To sacrafice The Great Folly to this tawdry rainstorm would have been a disaster.
Passing onward, Aher looked up towards the manse, a heavy, gothic-seeming building, of an old style so far gone that the historian believed it a remnant of antiquity. The front steps were sunken, as if the dirt and masonry beneath the stone had shifted downward. He left the mule standing in a somewhat dry area in the eave of a crazily-leaning portion of the wall, and, taking the saddle-pack on his shoulder, walked slowly toward the huge, blackened doors.
He reached for the door-ring, and as he did, he was seized, as if by a hand; he was filled with a sudden, hideous horror, a deep existential fear that filled him with a feeling of void-like cold. He gasped, recoiled from the door, and clutched the leather case of his manuscript to his chest. His sodden wool robe squelched.
Regathering himself, Aher shook his head. It was only like a worthless old man such as himself, the historian thought, to be fearful. What a pathetic worm you are.
Then, taking the ring in his chilled hand, he rapped twice on the ancient wood. The noise, so usually filled with cheer, was cold, dead, and distant in his ears.