The veil of darkness that shields my vision of tomorrow hides that which places me now in peril. The cold metal against my skin begins to melt as my hand slides with the new dampness. I feel the pounding of my heart as the blood pushes through my frame, my arms suddenly tired from the tenseness that has gripped me. Again I announce my challenge and again my reply is the silence of black mountains.
A sound, a whoosh unknown to me breaks the stillness and is answered with a whimper. Its reply is a scamper, the sounds of digging claws fade as they rustle the dead leaves that litter the ground. My observer has retreated into the boundless darkness and I stand alone once again.
"You had best not stand alone tonight without a fire."
The suddenness of the voice chills my skin and I now tremble with a new fear. Then before my eyes a shadow emerges from the darkness, movement as swift as a summer stream and quiet as a breeze upon an open meadow. I step back, the lump now in my throat a rock I may not swallow. I see a giant emerge as the darkness parts and before me stands a tower.
"Best not to be wandering these parts by yourself."
My silence lingers as I look up to one who is larger than anyone I have ever seen. Another step away as I feel the angst of the moment, my fear of the unknown welling from the darkest places within my soul.
"I am Authurn, of the north." My new companion lowers his arm, his weapon now riding at his side. "And who might you be?"
"I am Clancy of the three valleys."
"Well Clancy of the three valleys, it is time for a night's fire. There are things you need not meet in these lands. The new moon shelters them, gives them safety and free hunting. In these mountains before the plains, night becomes the huntress."
"Who, what are you? Your words ring true to my ears."
"What am I?" The sudden sound of haughty laughter fills the hollow spaces within the trees and renews my spirit. "Why, I am a man, of course."