A man lives alone on a mountain, constantly hounded by soldiers of the Scarlet Army. For what? His sole possession, a magic amulet.
A bitter wind raged across the windswept slopes of the Northern Reaches. A mother rabbit and her cowering kit pressed closer against the walls of their subterranean den, waiting for the gale to pass. A wolf howled at the wind, as if challenging it to a futile battle of strength. The lone man walking laboriously up a stone stair, crudely hewn from the mountainside, turned to look but could not discern the white coat of the wolf against the cold, unbroken screen of snow. The cherry red drops of blood dripping from the thin wound in the man’s side stood out in stark contrast to the smooth pearl of the ground, but were quickly covered as the blizzard intensified. The man hurried up the stairs and opened a door hidden underneath a thicket of rough mountain brush. Warmth and light streamed across the opening, illuminating the man’s gaunt, weather-beaten face and the grimace that was etched upon it. He stepped quickly inside and slammed the door shut. Fumbling with a small iron key, he locked and dead-bolted the door with a satisfied grunt. He turned to face a small room excavated into the side of the mountain. A chair sat neatly, pushed up against a battered wooden table covered with a stained plaid cloth ragged from many slices taken from it. The man wearily sat down at the table and drew a curved bone knife from a sheath on his hip. In one deft movement he cut a strip of cloth from the edge of the table. This he fashioned into a bandage for his cut, and tied it fast around his waist. Sheathing the knife, he slowly stood up and turned back around to face the door. He walked up to it and anxiously peered through a miniscule peephole drilled into the oak. The wolf was standing a stone’s throw away, still staring haughtily into the wind. The man sighed with relief. He stumbled back to the chair and quickly fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.