The Coming Dark

Introduction

WELCOME TO BLACKWATER

The road unwinds before you, a serpent of grey cobbles wending its interminable way through the escarpments of snow-dusted rock toward the village of Blackwater. From the wagon, you can just make out the greasy plumes of smoke pumping from the bellows of cooking fire and crooked chimney alike, each one tracing a lazy finger of black through the purpling bruise of pre-dawn.

The cart’s driver, a burgher who introduced himself only as Kreeg, seems as comfortable in the high places of the world as are the thick-pelted rams that pick their lazy way across the distant cliff-faces, his knotted beard and dirt-streaked cloak of homespun linen both tied off against the wind with thin bands of copper filigree. His fingers are equally adorned, each sporting a gemmed ring of varying size and cut, and, coupled with his prodigious gut, could easily proclaim a life of ease and comfort, but a well-worn axe thuds against his breeches with each shuddering bounce of the cart, and his arms are corded with a fighter’s muscle, for there are none who travel into the Northlands unprepared.

Least of all, the lot of you…

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Aylen

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