Prologue: By the Bonfire
He drew a deep breath, inhaled the smoke, and let it out slowly. Most of his face was hidden under a thick, old hood, and behind him there was only pitch darkness. In the dim glow of the pipe it was impossible to see his features.
He introduced himself as a bard - yet no one believed him, as his voice was thick and ragged - and we were suspicious that he traveled the dangerous forest alone.
However, he offered to tell us a story if we shared our meal and the warmth of our fire. We agreed, if only because we couldn't leave this traveler to the cold forest. We made ourselves comfortable by the fire, holding our weapons at the ready in case of danger, and waited for his story to begin. The night was ice-cold, and his low, thick voice carried quietly across the mountain as, setting aside his pipe, he opened his mouth and began to speak.