I look at the fire and the half-filled glass within my palms. I raise it to my nose, tentative. I can nearly taste the earthy smells as they escape the rim of the glass. I pause and glance to my host. He seems lost in thought, then suddenly the glass kisses his lips and its contents flows freely.
"Yes Clancy, the Choale is a more formidable range than the Sirris, higher and rugged. Its peaks are ragged from the pounding weather that blows in from the Western Sea. The continual storms that ravage there dump their load on the Valley of Rivers." He leaned forward letting the light from the hearth caress his face. "That is where I spent my youth, Clancy, in the darkness of the Choale, as you say."
"Oh, I have been to the Choale, but my time there has been brief." I raise the glass to my lips and gingerly sip. I feel a burn as I let it slip across my tongue. It stings, but in a good way. I swallow and feel its bite as it slides down my throat. "I have never fully explored its vastness."
"Vastness." Reenie leans back into his seat once again. "In all its glory, with all its rugged features, they pale in comparison to the ranges of Ostergaul; the mountains of men-folk." He sits quiet for a moment, Clarisa's slight hand coming to rest on his arm. It triggers a smile, a smile of memories.
"My life was ordinary and I wanted more. I searched for adventures such as young lads will always seek. It was a desire my father could not understand. He was a fellow of the earth, a farmer and woodsman. His life was what was before him, his work. Much of what I knew, I took from him." Reenie lifts his glass again and drains it. "Without him, without his earthly knowledge, I would not have returned to the Chrystum. I would be dead."