Chapter 5 (33rd of Elgatan in the year 6198)

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And Sarina tore asunder a dove, handing to each of her sisters a half

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And Sarina tore asunder a dove, handing to each of her sisters a half. The half that Sashna held did grow into a healthy bird. The half that laid in Octeava's hands did wither and die. And Sarina spoke to her sisters, "Now see and understand your roles in the cosmos."

-Book of Fates 1:5 

-Book of Fates 1:5 

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*Six Years Later*

Stiff and frigid, the wind ran through hollow streets and alleyways. Signs creaked and strained where they hung, banging against the fronts of shops closed more often than open these days as a fresh blanket of thick snow covered the rooftops and cobblestones.

The low winter's sun cast almost everything in bone-chilling shadows. Sounds of a horse's quick pace echoed through the streets, seeking someone's ears – anyone's ears. Unfortunately, there were few that dared venture out in this hostile cold. Most remained indoors huddled around small fires. Even the wealthier, usually able to afford any luxury, found this winter harsher than most.

The supply wagons from the north had stopped coming weeks ago. Food was low. Morale was not much better.

Most suspected the weather was to blame. But there were more nefarious rumors; whispers that bands of thieves, possibly even rebels, had been hijacking the convoys. More prevalent was the fear that Lord Hedric himself had ordered a halt to the supplies to the south. Punishment for the actions of two governors who had aided and abetted the rebellion against his rule.

There was the hope of supply ships from the Western Borderlands, but they were eight days past due. A request sent eastward seeking relief from the dwarven strongholds had been summarily rejected by every trading post and city along that route. Dwarves did not trade with the Empire, and they apparently had no intention of starting now.

Crime had grown rampant. Would-be thieves turned to any means necessary to feed themselves and stay alive. The town guards were of scant help. Not even able to clutch their swords most had abandoned their posts.

Yet, at least one person dared to go outside this day. A singular, hooded and cloaked form skirted from shadow to frigid shadow with uncanny grace. Breath fogging in the biting air, it showed little sign of being bothered by the weather.

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