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Prologue

Hot breath. Sweat. Burning limbs. Keep breathing, keep running. Stay alive.

Every part of your life has been made worse by the Tall Ones. You heard stories of terror and fear as a young child. They were necessary, for adults knew the only way to grow was to survive, hide, avoid attention, and if necessary, fight and injure to escape.

In Fäeraway, with its flat plains, tall grasses, low water, and too few beasts, you lived either a life of fear or one of hard work or hunger. The Lôhngo Mounts, infinitely tall peaks that stretch their jagged and unforgiving heads into the very top of the sky itself, bring water and life to their base. Living close to the mounts, though, means living within the Tall Ones reach. “Might as well invite a Tall One home” is a phrase all know means doing something foolish. Life near the Mounts means not knowing when they will raid. You'll know when you hear breaking bones, wails, and the bangs of rocks on nearby homes. Hearing them is the best possible outcome one can hope for.

That's why, even though it means a hard landlife, your clan chose the Wistern Flatplains. The Tall Ones don't go there. It's too much sun and flat, and why travel when others are near.

Where the Tall Ones live remains unknown to most. You can't see their villages, homes, or cities in the Mounts. Some (most, rather) believe they live on the other side of the Lôhngos, but how is that? They cannot travel those razor peaks any easier than we. Some say they have tunnels, or live in caves. The truth will be known someday, but so far those who learn are unable to teach.

Life as a Fäerin would not be traded by many a beast, but it's as is. You grew up. In fact, while you'd seen a few who escaped Tall raids to keep life in the Wisterns, you'd not seen a Tall One. Would it had stayed.

Maybe a few nights ago, last night, or longer, your sleep was stopped by sounds your elders feared you with. Loud bangs, shrieks, and as you ran to your ridebeasts, interrupted screams and breaking of bone. Others escaped with you, and your small Newfamily have kept sane as only those who see the worst together can.

You are headed to the Lord's City. Lord Bruumon will know what to do, and the tall walls are as safe as can be when even the Wisterns are raided. If only that were the only why of your destination. When the water birds laugh, as they say…

Your village was celebrating Small Harvest, and had none other guest than the Lord's son Hammayn. He is not among your group. The Lord must know. You must keep running. Your beasts died from wear, and made food to keep on with. The Capital will be your home, and if not, you must do Lord's honor to speak while words can be made.

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