The air is cool and honeysuckle-scented as you slip unnoticed from the feast. No sooner have you rounded the doorway than the roar of water deluges your senses. You close your eyes to greet the familiar sound, tilting your head toward the fall.
Alas, for all the water’s white-noise strife, it cannot overcome the sound of revelry from the hall behind you – though the music lilts and eddies on the breeze, you know the song by heart. The song of a great king. Of his great deeds. Of his eventual, inevitable failure.
Sequestered from curious eyes, you unsheath the sword at your side. The sword of songs and legends. Tarnished neither by age nor by the unimaginable evil it has faced. You run your fingers over the strong lines carved into the pommel, the steel ring bisecting royal red leather.
With a sigh you let the unsung truth settle: once more this sword will see battle. Once more it will face the foe that mighty heroes could not withstand. And this time it is you who will wield it.
Kneeling, you brush aside some fallen leaves. The tracks are barely visible in the still-damp earth, but they’re clear enough to confirm your fears.
The lines in your weather-beaten skin grow deeper as you grimly consider your quarry’s certain endpoint. No man would voluntarily go where you are headed. You find yourself reaching for the broad-bladed sword at your hip. Chances are you’ll need to rely on your oldest friend before this hunt meets its end.
The weather is unnaturally cold for early autumn, the chill already creeping under your clothes. You wrap your cloak tightly around you, hiding the ancient blade from unkind eyes, and turn to the North.
You know you are close now, but your instincts still urge you to hurry.