The fog was thick. Even thicker than the darkness of the starless night.
No one would see him.
The wind whispered in the bare branches above him as he left the cold shadow of the trees and crept toward the window. The frost on the glass reflected the bright gleam in his eyes as he peered inside.
The room was dark. Nothing stirred. Only a desk, a chair, and an unlit lamp were behind the cold glass.
He slid the blade of his knife beneath the glass. The window wasn’t latched. He raised it almost silently.
The knife scraped back into its sheath. He slipped through the open window into the gloomy room.
With silent, calculated footsteps he approached the desk. There was no clutter on the writing surface—only an inkwell, a quill, and a few papers. Whoever had been at work there earlier in the evening had long since left.
The papers were stacked neatly beside the inkwell and quill. All he had to do was find the right one.
He struck a match against the desk.
He quietly leafed through the papers, searching for the words that would mean something to him. The light from the match was dim, but the writing on the pages was clear and large. A moment, and he had the paper.
With a quick puff he blew out the dying flame. He carefully folded the paper and slid it into his coat pocket.
An explosion deafened him. Fire flashed in front of his eyes. He felt a hot iron pierce his flesh and he stumbled forward. An indistinct scream stabbed the air behind him as he sprang for the window.
He saw nothing. He heard nothing. Lying in the crystal snow, his cold bed colored crimson beneath his body, he felt nothing.
One hand was held over his side. The other was clutching the charred remains of the stolen paper. A dead match lay not far from his fingers.
His eyes were turned skyward, staring through the leafless branches above him into the blackness overhead—the blackness that was disrupted by one, white, glowing eye.
Someone had seen him.