The day begins to draw late though the sun's light still dusts the tops of the Sirris, its lofty spires capturing the final gasps of twilight. The shadows lengthen though the warmth captured in the meadows of the Far Wilderness holds tight and I feel their caress upon my skin. Each day brings a panorama to these eyes as only the beauty of the Dream Valley rivals the vistas I have encountered.
As I turn my gaze to the south and away from the mountains and fields I spy a wisp of smoke trailing into the fading sky. Is this some sign of habitat or an errant wildfire? I watch as the smoke trails upward as from a chimney. No, this is not a wildfire. I find myself surprised, not only by the smoke but as much perhaps as the hint of someone ahead; someone unexpected. I stop and stare as the breeze washes over me from behind. I search the fields ahead but find nothing, the trail to the sky still some ways off. My pace quickens with anticipation as I have not spoken to anyone except Authurn since I left my protected valleys.
The next hour passes quickly in anticipation of what I will find ahead. The night settles at last as the day is lost behind the mountains and the shadows no longer lengthen but become the night itself. The fields of the wilderness fade as I feel tilled earth beneath my feet. It is a sign of a working farm. A farm in the middle of nowhere. The stars above wink into existence one by one as I see a soft orange glow from ahead, the only other light a sheltered beacon within the night.
My path is soon barred by post and rail as I stride headlong into a fence, a fence where none should be. The soft glow from the cottage moves and flickers as flames unseen dance within. I watch in silence as the warmth ahead beckons me, calls be from the chill of night, yet I have no invitation.