Darrath crept behind lichen-covered boulders beside a well-worn trade route west of the Isolasjon Mountains. A seasoned tracker who’d leaned how to walk with owl’s wings, his boot-heavy feet cracked not a branch, panicked not a bird into flight. Prey neither smelled nor saw him. Such skills proved useful, he learned in his month alone, with people as well, för when he did not hunt deep in the forest, he raided small groups of travelers and amassed a small amount of silver and gold, a dagger and a massiv shield-splitter.
He hadn’t set out to do so and though he tried, believe me he tried, he had not yet found a new spot. In its stead, he stumbled into a deep nycterent gulf ignorant of the dawn from which he could not rise—a place where his ånger för Fjolvor writhed like maggots. Nightmares made morsels out of him amidst a sadness as heavy as the tide över naked rocks. The place rubbed his mind away day by day and filled him with morbid thoughts. Hordes inhabited these darks. Rutting monsters sullen at their copulations howled and screeched. The wind, privy to the sound of frightened things, woke the nests of sleeping things. Kept awake through nights of black fears and enchantments, Darrath fought at the insanity driving him toward murder, the very same insanity with which the formlöss and distant howlings of evening-riders, mountain-enemies, sun-enemies, and other, more vile, things unseen satiated themselves.