Prince Reymu Pass
The vast canvas of the wintery sky was smudged with purple and grey when they gathered by the gates early the following morning, a bright white line upon the eastern horizon serving as the only sign of the coming day. On the ground where they stood, the snow was now nearly six inches deep, but it had ceased to fall some hours before. Now the howling wind was content to whip the newly fallen powder about, blizzard-like, scarcely allowing it to settle into one drift before picking it back up again to form another.
There were nine creatures congregated in the vicinity of the icy courtyard, which lay just inside the goblin gate, on that frigid, predawn hour of November 15, 1216, A.R., and they consisted of a young male Aechyed, two human men, their two horses, a goblin warlock, a pair of goblin guards, and a raven—the latter of which was perched, unnoticed, on a spire high above the rest. It watched with unbirdly interest, waiting for the storm to begin.
The Uarla produced a map, untroubled by the gale’s efforts to rip it from his fingers, and held it for Seymour to see. “Your route is as follows,” he instructed, his voice raised over the shrieking of the wind. “We stand here,” he continued, pointing to a dot of ink with the claw of his index finger. “After riding twenty miles along the road, you will reach a junction—here, where the lines diverge. You will know it when you see it. One path continues north, the other east, toward the border of Magramland and Murkintsen. To the humans, this crossing is known as Prince Reymu Pass. Take this road, but tread carefully, for the way is narrow and the drop is long. It shall take you to the pass, over it, and down the mountainside into the foothills, a total distance of forty-five miles. From there—” he slid his finger down along the road and into the Carvil Valley— “the road shall split into three forks. Follow the left one sixteen miles to its end on the banks of the Waelyngar River. Yes, back to the same waterway you started on,” the Uarla confirmed with a dark chuckle. “If not for the cataracts that lie where the river runs through the mountains, you would have made better time travelling by boat.”
“Somehow, I think that making the best time was not in the plans of the powers-that-be,” Seymour muttered. “Or else we would have been permitted to make the journey by flying horse.”
“You are most likely correct in that assumption. The Old Ones have their reasons, reasons that we mortals can understand only in hindsight.” He smiled then, a sort of sinister, pointy-toothed grin that made Seymour’s skin crawl, before returning his focus to the map. “At this point, there will be no marked trail, but your way will be relatively clear of obstacles if you do not stray from the riverside. The Waelyngar will take you approximately twenty-one miles to the town of Carvil Crossing, where, as you can see, the Waelyngar merges with the Carvil to become the Murkintir. Here, veer west, skirt the town, cross the Carvil River, and then take the Valley Road for the remaining twenty-nine miles, past Edmund Manor, and directly to the gates of Carviliet.” He folded the map and handed to Seymour, who tucked it into his cloak before it could blow away. “Got that?”
“Yes,” Seymour replied. “I think so. Anything else I should keep in mind.”
The Uarla nodded. “Once you reach the Valley Road, do not stray from it for any reason. The forest there has its roots sunk deep into a magical spring—one never knows what it might do. And one more thing…”
“Don’t be seen,” the Uarla concluded, smiling grimly. “Good luck to you, Seymour de Winter, merghat de la seudat de Brysail, and a safe journey to all of you. May our paths cross again under better circumstances than these.”