In the frozen north, a messenger enters a tower built in the shape of a hooded woman. The messenger climbs the many stairs inside to the top of the tower, where an older man, graying but surprisingly fit, sits at a desk pouring through papers. After an awkward moment, the messenger clears his throat, breaking the man’s singular focus on his work.
“What is it?”
“Sorry to interrupt Father Darby, but…” the messenger hesitates slightly before finishing, his voice betraying the feelings of fear that he’d been trying to suppress, “It’s Varikass. He’s been sighted south, in Carthellia.”
Varikass. Darby soaks in the word for a minute, his mind going back to that forsaken cave that plagued his dreams still. He notes the fear on the face of the messenger and wonders if the messenger is more worried about Varikass or what his reaction to the news might be. He takes a deep breath and weighs his possible actions, quickly realizing that there is only one course of action that he can take.
He looks at the messenger, who is still nervously waiting for some reply on his part. “On your way down, fetch my steward. Tell him we’re going south.”