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Well, this certainly puts a wrinkle in my stew, mused Herme, as he curled into his knapsack for a night’s rest.

Foothold was much different now than it had been during his first brief residence, several months ago. Refugees from the sacked town of Gastlinyk Gate wandered about in the lands west of the Thrym Mountains. The Pass, once a common thoroughfare for merchant caravans and travelers of every stripe, was simply crawling with all manner of undesirables, according to the gatekeeper: good Sir Aetion. To make matters worse, an uprising had recently emerged within the gates of Deephome, which made his travels there a moot point above all else.

What to do, what to do? Herme stirred in his quickly-warming knapsack.

Thrym Pass was out of the question, at least for now. The only warriors he’d met chatted and laughed about the jotuns as if they were playmates. Herme creased his brow and shook his head, reclining. That would never do.

He’d heard rumours regarding a more reclusive passage leading to the east, secreted within the Forest. Perhaps some more exploration was called for, thought Herme. Finding a skilled tracker or woodsman may be next on his agenda.

Or woodswoman?

The warriors he’d spoken with in Foothold were women, all of them. Although there was a standoffish one dressed in ceremonial armour, there was one much more to his liking than the rest: the plainswoman named Keliana. Her fine dress did nothing to quell her true brawler’s spirit, and even a brief conversation with her proved as much. Herme appreciated that. All the trappings of civilization, but none of the foppish attitude that plagued so many in Stonemark. Those swarthy women who siezed the day…Those were his type.

But what brought those other women to the frontier? Riches and fame? The risks of high adventure? Were they perhaps running away from their past?

Herme absently scratched at his chin. Time will tell, thought Herme. And of course…new tales will be told.

His bushy brows sunken in slumber, the skald dreamt of a mountainside; a precipice along its southern surface, hundreds of feet in height, entirely overlaid with dwarven runes. The gems inlaid in its surface sparkled like the stars of a cloudless midnight. The Lord of Winter himself would see it, and stubbornly nod to acknowledge the achievement.

In time, it will happen.