The damage done by those who came before remained hidden in the dark crevices of the streets, as did that of the current inhabitants. The city of Lunfere was a gathering hub of life in the far north of the Crown Shores, a place where lives crossed, deals were made, and fates were forged.

Heavy timbers braced mortared stone buildings and cedar-shingled roofs. Brightly colored fabrics were something for the southern reaches. Here, winter was only pushed back for the spring, never defeated. A visitor might describe Lunfere as a collection of grays and browns. They might describe her people as hardy, stoic, but surprisingly warm if you managed to befriend them. They may also speak in more quiet tones of the de facto rulers of the city, the Five Sea-Leige Barons.

The city looked different at night. Darkness blanketed streets dotted with the warm glow of lanterns. Where the oil-fed flames didn’t shed their light, and where the cold light of the moon could not reach, were dark corners and crowded alleyways where sometimes folk went but did not return.

Some nights, not too far from the bustling docks district, if the ocean was calm and you placed a palm on the frigid, pitted cobblestones, you could feel a deep, rhythmic thrumming. There were old places below these streets where money exchanged hands for blood and sport. Tonight, the cobblestones were still, but people’s voices weren’t.

Courtyards nestled in dead end streets, commons houses, secluded tables in local taverns and the cramped bellies of ships were alive with liquor and talk of insurrection. Bloodshot eyes and tense silence greeted any unknown individual who happened by one of these gatherings. After they had passed, angry voices boiled over again.

Outside the city gates, was the Hoarse Siren Inn, nestled between the ruins of old walls and a copse of trees. It was abuzz with people that night, and all were in good spirits.

The Inn was a welcoming place; it was a traveler’s Inn where many a tale were exchanged over hearty meals and well-brewed beer. The central structure was a large common room, which was heated by two log fires. One hearth on the north wall and one on the south wall. In between the fireplaces was a sturdy built bar, which on this fine night was manned by Aske Butterbee.

A mature man with a receding crown of dark hair and a matching beard. Aske was the proud owner of the establishment. He was a man who took great pride in his work and his place, simple as it was.

There were lanterns and candles arranged across the heavy ceiling beams, and on the west wall, a massive notice board hung, where travelers would exchange rumors and services.

It was this notice board that had stoked the buzz on this early winter’s eve.

To be continued…