Two figures were shuffling through the snow in the north western mountains of Tariana. Their heavy leather boots sunk deep into the snow. Every step made their bodies feel like lead. A town's outline appeared a short distance away as they dragged through the howling of the merciless winds.
"The town of Strangrahd…the final frontier before the Land of Estaria," said the lady as she eased her breathing during this brief rest. The skirt of her woolen coat fluttered in the wind and the weaves caught a bit of frost.
"Looks like it Lania, do you really want to go through with this? We can stay in Tariana if you'd like," replied a broad shouldered man, carrying a shield on his back.
"I must Glev, it's not a choice I can make. I owe you my life and I will remember that forever," she expressed gratitude toward Glev. "So what now? Will you rejoin the Border Cavaliers?"
"I haven't thought of that yet, I really don't know how they will react to my returning," He replied while looking down at Lania.
"Here, I want you to have this, a parting gift," Lania reached out into her belt sack and pulled out a book wrapped in jute and a satchel of snowshade flowers.
"Oh…that blasted book of your's, what should I do with it?" Glev looked a little puzzled.
"I'll leave it to your perception," she replied with a smile. as she gently grazed and rested her fingers on Glev's hand. "Farewell, for now, I will not forget you," the both of them stood silently for a moment, simply staring at each other. The touch of their hands helped fend off the biting cold for a little while, before they let go and walked off. Lania began walking further south, while Glev headed into the town of Strangrahd.
The stone-paved path offered some relief from the snow. It was a rather desolate town, with very few souls Glev could see. Just ahead he spotted the board of the town tavern creaking in the wind and carefully made his way towards the wooden house. A frostowl hooted, perched on a rooftop.
As he walked up the steps and onto the patio he found the door open, much to his relief. Glev pointed to the barkeep signalling for a mug of warm ale and some roasted beef. He moved to one corner of the room and found a table to seat himself next to, thankfully it was next to the hearth. He carefully laid down his kite shield against the table and hung his fur coat over the chair. The cold had caused his head to feel like a brick wall.
He looked around the tavern, the barkeep was busy pouring his ale wearing a rather tattered apron, two merchants sat on the far end of the room discussing trade routes to a land, whose name he had never heard of. The hearth flames started to crackle a bit as a young lad added some more peach wood into them, the room became warmer and Glev found himself a little more at ease.
He pulled out the book that Lania had given and the snowshade flowers. taking in the scent of the wilted flowers offered him some reprieve from the nagging cold. Keeping the flowers aside he unwrapped the jute packing and turned over the cover of the book. The parchments were rather stained and torn from the sides, but most of the illustrations and writings were clear.
'The serenity of the moon, the secrecy of the shadows, the tenacity of nature and the pride of the fires. From the void, there will come something more, the fair nature of Chaos, to bring Estaria back to true harmony.' Glev was relieved to know that the book was written in Human tongue. He read over this line a few times. He felt quite uneasy while doing so, as if the scripture itself was pointing to some inevitable catastrophe.
Turning the page over, he found a map spread over two pages. It was labelled 'Estaria'. A tall tower stood to the south west resting along a mountainside. 'Manensdem, kingdom of the Moon-kin' was inked to the side of the tower. He hovered his fingers over the map, his eyes fell towards the centre. 'The Kunari Wilds, the shape-changing Actaeons roam these endless forests.' To the south-eastern coast lay a city, painted in black. 'Yutaria, here reside the Shadow-walkers.' And finally to the North-east was drawn an enormous volcano labelled 'Anestreya' at it's base was an expansive walled city. 'Fortress Anestreya, here reside the greatest smiths of the land.'
"Just what have you been up to Lania and where are you going to next?" Glev whispered to himself. He knew in his mind, returning to the Border Cavaliers was not in his agenda. He put these thoughts to bed however, as his ale and beef were brought to the table. The beef was rare, much to his liking, complete with taters on the side.