Above the Trees
Soaring high over the land, wings spread wide to catch the warm air rising from the mountains, the eagle spies a few moving through the treetops below. Here above the clouds, not many visit let alone stay to call this height home. Leaving the column of warmth, she dives to the tips of the trees until she reaches the next ridge to climb again.
The land below seems different today. Change blows on this wind. Change and death. Suddenly a huge dragon swoops down behind her. One glance back was all she had before it was upon her…
The Tree Village
Below in the trees, nothing was quiet. Song birds chirped away as the village celebrated. Today the princess was to marry the prince of the land to the south. The two peoples of the marshland were at war for 1000 years before they came. Now this marriage would solidify their truce.
From a window overlooking the valley a girl watches the river as it winds lazily through the forest to the gorge and the sea beyond. Her dark hair flowing down her newly laundered dress to just below her shoulders. A light breeze whispers past bringing the song of birds in the trees above. Humming softly to herself she brushes her hair, gazing into a tall mirror. It’s nearly time now. Soon she would marry and everything would be happy, carefree, and alive again.
But below in the valley things aren’t as serene as they appear above. In a copse of trees north of the village a small fire burns in the camp below. Something strange is approaching from the south. No-one in the village has noticed the lack of birds in the sky today, or the diminishing number of animals in the forest. Things are quiet in the forest.
A shimmering takes on shape in one of the trees near the rock wall at the south end of the valley, then flickers back into nothingness. Further west there’s a strange creature sitting in the center of a clearing. A squirrel spies it from a tree not far away. It doesn’t move an inch. Is it dead? Nothing of the forest dared approach it. Man hasn’t been here in many years. And soon it will be too late, unless a man wanders by quickly. The creature knows this and yet sits patiently.
The Port of Souls
It is a glorious morning in the port town of Coricace. The sun rises over the sea burning the thick night fog away to reveal the wide mouth of the Reninshon. Hills covered with trees surround the valley leading to this sprawling town. Further still up the valley where the river splits the distant mountains, snow capped peaks are ringed with ever present storms, replenishing the snow and ice which are the distant river’s source.
To the sun, open ocean, ships of all sizes and shapes dot the harbor. The fishermen will be returning with the morning catch soon to feed the townsfolk and the visitors who patronize the many inns on their way to the passes to trade or on to the lands beyond the sea.
Looking out upon the glistening water, a young girl dressed in a men’s breeches and shirt sites upon a barrel of ale sharpening a small knife with a stone. Burly men pass by a few feet away carrying other barrels and sacks, boxes and trunks of goods for sale in the market just up the street in the Trader’s Square.
The Crossroads of Kirsalis
There wasn’t much to look at here, just a road, if you can call a rough track formed from ruts made by wagon wheels a road, crossed by another path barely visible as more than a game trail. Off to the side of the way a few paving stones lay in the ditch forgotten, reminding passersby of forgotten times when this was a grand highway. The sun was high in the afternoon sky but shrouded by the lush vegetation obscuring the road and clogging the wagon wheels on the only traveler here to see this place in years. He traveled with a small woman who walked aside from the wagon looking for holes and clearing the path when vines or leaves got too close with a large machete she carried like she knew how to use it for something other than hacking plant life.
They had traveled this shortcut several times now and each time she wondered why she allowed the fat merchant to drag her through this jungle from hell.
On the shores south of the sea across the straights from the city a small fishing village lay perched on the foot of a rocky spire that jutted from the water at an odd angle. The village was build into the top of the spire in terraces falling down to the land behind where some scrubland grew for a short way. This gave way to a forest with a massive ruined city sticking from the trees in places. Though the buildings all seemed ruined, there was life here. All manner of forest dwellers had made this home, including a tribe of people not well known to the northerners who came to these shores. These people live with the land, cultivating every inch of it. Food grows everywhere near their city, and much of their technology seems to blend with the landscape in ways no foreigner would understand. A boy and girl sit near a small stream among the trees a little inland from the beach, watching something in the water as a machine turns nearby with the steady creak of a waterwheel. There is a glint in the water between them and then two and three. Suddenly the water is ablaze in red and yellow light glistening in the mist. The trees overhang here so the sun has no direct sway here. A fish jumps out of the water at the boy, startling him and causing him to lose his footing and fall into the stream. While his friend laughs, he climbs out of the water, cursing all the while.
“What were you thinking? If I stare at him long enough he’ll jump into my net?” the girl exclaimed with amusement.
“Didn’t he though?” said the boy.
“Not quite… but I thought you were supposed to be catching him, not the other way around!” she said with amusement.
Cliffs of Light
Barren Lands : a quest forgiven, a life spared
A traveler approaches from afar. Few have dared traverse the pass since it came. Less have survived to tell the tale. The horrors of the southern wood prevented all from returning. Now time is still in the wood of hope. Men of the valley from long years past are remembered of the few farms and houses in the south. Doubtless all burned and pillaged long since it came. In the north a few still pass, but the journey is not easy, nor is it worth the risk say many a merchant’s guard.
This traveler seemed no different than any other, but there was something different. This traveler wasn’t afraid to face the wood. This one wasn’t aware of any danger. Some would call him a fool, others said he was mad, but none could or would dare speak it to his face, and no-one would venture to warn or stop him.
A few weeks after his arrival he set out on another of his little expeditions into the southern wood. This time he ranged far beyond where any had gone in centuries. As he continued past the warning signs left by some farmer long gone, he entered a part of the forest that was somehow different. It not only grew, but it thrived. The trees here were immense. And after half a day’s journey from their edge, the forest stopped. It simply stopped dead and nothing but bare ground lay ahead for a hundred paces in a circle.
In the center of this circle sat a strange rock. Staring and somehow attracted to it, he stepped forward. As though he was in a dream he moved slowly and steadily forward until he was 10 paces from it. Then for some odd reason, he stopped. And the rock spoke…
A girl sits on a barrel watching the people walking down the street. Beside her stands a tough, leaning on the porch post. She wears the garb of a street urchin, trousers and simple shirt with low hat. The tough is covered in tattoos from countless wars and campaigns. He wears a simple tunic with a leather sash and short bloomers.
The crowd streams past with a hurried pace. This street is one of the main thoroughfares from the Western Wall to the ships of the harbor. Looking up the street the town spreads out, just two stories high up the slope to the Wall. There…
A great ship, the Caryamoor, cut a wide swath through the open sea somewhere north and east of the southern shore.