In the region of Mycith of Lithilen, a stone and metal city rests, hewn from the surrounding rocky terrain and nestled along the western shore. A large gate, forged from many ores, juts out menacingly, forbidding unsavory visitors from entering. A thick band of stone and metal hugs the city’s edge, wrapping the clusters of homes, stores, taverns, and workplaces in its cold but protective arms. The gate is accompanied by two tall towers that are seldom inhabited by less than three guards at any time. It is from these towers that the gate may be opened or closed, although it is said that only the Ithoa who inhabit the city know how to operate this entranceway. This city, affectionately called Mainstay, is the self-proclaimed center of trade and industry in Lithilen.
Past the gate, a dirt road snakes its way through small, outlying settlements and caravans. The feet of many Ithoan merchants have trod this path, seeking their fortunes by selling crafted goods and exotic imports in the far away regions of Lithilen. It is along this very path that a young lady walked, her back laden with a bulging rucksack. Her short, ashen grey hair was covered by a loose-fitting burlap hood that belonged to a patched burlap cloak. Her thick, leather boots already had a layer of dirt on them from the road. The wild excitement glistening in her silvery eyes showed that this lady was yet unknown to the world outside of Mainstay, but her rough, work-worn hands and toned body proved that this girl was more than ready to take on whatever challenges faced her.
The lady, named Jothal, was travelling to the capitol city of Farthingsor in order to sell weapons and armor. This was the final task in her blacksmithing apprenticeship. If Jothal could manage to successfully sell her wares for a profit, she would become a Journeyman and be able to join her master’s practice full time. Since Jothal was a child, she had always wanted to bend and shape metal ore into useful tools and brilliant works of art. Four years of the heat of the forge, the clinking of a hammer, and the hiss of hot metal being quenched had led up to this moment. Jothal had proven quite adept in the trade, so her master had felt no hesitation in sending her off on this final journey.
Turning around for one last glance at Mainstay, Jothal pushed eastwards towards her goal. The sun shone brightly above her as she snaked along the dirt path. This was a welcome change from the smoggy sky of Mainstay, which ranged from a dull gray during the day to a thick black during the night due to the smoke and ash from the city’s love of all things industry. The gentle breeze floated past Jothal’s face, smelling of the nearby harbor, which served as Lithilen’s main trading port. Still, a part of Jothal felt exposed to the openness of everything. She would always feel more at home in the warmth of the blazing fire in the tiny, crowded basement forge of her master.
Shortly, the path split, one end going to the far north to the Shadow Mountains and the other towards to lands of the half-elves. Jothal pulled a weathered, fraying, leather bound book out of her rucksack. Jothal flipped through the pages until she found a crude drawing of a map. The drawing, sketched in charcoal, depicted the path that she must follow in order to reach Farthingsor safely. The journal had been a parting gift from her master who had made the same journey dozens of times in his younger years. From this point onward, Jothal had to leave the certainty of the dirt path in order to make the trip in two days’ time. Jothal packed the booklet away, adjusted her rucksack, and strode forth onto the expanse of hills, rock, and grass that stood between her and her promising future.
By that evening, however, Jothal’s feet ached from stepping on one too many sharp rocks. Sitting down in front of a small fire that she had made, Jothal slid off her leather boots, sighing from relief. She stretched and warmed her sore toes and removed one of many small parcels from her rucksack. I knew I should have brought sturdier boots… Jothal thought as she unwrapped two filets of fish from the parcel. I suppose I can trade a shield or a few daggers for a pair once I reach Farthingsor.
The crackling of the fire reminded Jothal of her loved ones back home as she ate the freshly cooked fish. Her parents were traveling merchants themselves, and therefore seldom at home for very long, so Jothal considered her master to be like a father to her. She knew he must be proud of her.
Cleaning up her campsite and spreading out a blanket for the night, Jothal smothered the fire, yawned, and prepared herself for sleep. As Jothal’s eyes grew heavy and began to close, she thought she saw something off in the distance. Jothal wasn’t sure what it was exactly, but a small, barely perceptible dot was shimmering off in the nighttime. I’m sure it’s just another traveler. Jothal mused as she drifted off to sleep. I’ll investigate tomorrow morning.