A slow warmth caressed, it spread and danced, it had already been there but seemed just out of notice. He noticed it now. The ground was a soft, moss-covered hill, he rested below towering pine trees. The wind, that was the wandering warmth, and it was delightful. The day had begun, fresh, ready. Like a cool spring on a hot afternoon. Or a new spring day. The light, morning light, that kind that has a keen edge to it, like it is stretching from a long rest. That light fell in, wound through the quiet hill he had slept on. It whispered by, quiet, peaceful like it hummed a gentle tune of greeting.
That spread too. It was his greeting to the day that stretched out before him. He sat up, arms reaching out, stretching toward the sky, drawing the sleep out of him and pulling him toward the day. It was today, he had been waiting, endlessly it seemed. Days, hours, weeks, ah he didn’t even know at this point. Long enough. Gods, the excitement began to bubble in, a fizzing and fizzling of mirth. Today, he would have his chance.
Tigs bounded to his feet, like a spring. Laughter clipped his lips, and his breath felt electric. He felt that way, static, ready, full of the energy to come. He tossed the pouch that had traveled so far with him up, high into the air. It hung there, just for a moment, as though it bounded off his excitement as well. He caught it in a flash, quick as a Stormfly, and laughed loudly, it came out unhindered. A gleeful thing.
He took off running, through the glade, between the trees, over root and branch and brush. Fenthall was ahead, the City of Storms. It was buried deep in the Rangforne Mountains, along the great ridge that sheltered the Stormlands. He had traveled weeks through the Timberlands, a vast forest, ripe with lost paths and dead ends. It was an endless gathering of trees held more than just wood and pine and bristle. Fenthall was known as the City of Storms. Rightly so, tempers flared at the edges civilization, where local laws were more profound, local characteristics and rituals. He’d seen enough, none of that now though. He had things to do. Places to be…
The night before he had fallen asleep nearly the second his head felt the ground. He had not expected to be so close to Fenthall, mountain cities had a way of hiding themselves in the night, only to reappear in plain sight with the day. Especially such splendid morning light as this. He breathed it in. The rushing air as he ran, the fresh day’s exhales the soft wind, softer ground, and grass. It was one of those mornings that reached out and tickled.
Oh yes, there was still that bastard Clem on his trail, likely not far behind, and who knew what lay waiting for him ahead. Even he didn’t want to guess at that. Only what he made of it, no use letting that catch up to him now! He ran, fast, mirthful. Life had that way about him. As though a fine medley always hung on the edge of his thoughts. Something that he hummed to himself, maybe he’d even go as far as to call it his theme song. It was short and sweet, easy to remember. He’d even taught it to a good friend of his.
A nearly cloudless sky greeted him as he came from beneath the needle-leaved trees. The slope of the mountains ran up cragged rocks, twisting trees that pushed themselves too far up the hills to grow properly. He followed a worn path that led from Halar to Fenthall. Normally he preferred to walk freely through the woods, following where he wanted to go, not some path. Up here, this deep into the Rangforne peaks, that was foolish, even for him.
He thought over his trip, the nights spent beneath wind and rain, the two times Clem had found him. That inn, with the red-haired woman, full of fire, whew. He laughed. Sometimes looking back at everything, Tigs had to laugh. To do otherwise…
He stopped and looked up, letting the breeze pass by him, it felt beautiful up in the mountains. Down in the Timberlands, it had been stifling. Not quite hot, but the air didn’t move! Tigs liked it fresh. The City of Storms grew closer. He had only been here twice before, and both times had been, well, exciting to say the least.
“This time. Everything is going to be different.” He said it, he felt it, the way someone reminds themselves of a resolution.