Aerie hid in the craggy mountain range, which bordered the outer rim of the land. Dense forests cloaked the peaks in dark needles and darker shadows. Strange creatures haunted the wildwood, humanoids that waited in the gloom to take the unwary traveler.
The Aerie was not meant to be found by the faint of heart. No, this place only helped those who faced their fears and trekked through the dangers of both man and beast.
Many travelers came to find afflatus for their leaders. Their monarchs wanted hints of the future, of knowledge to come. They desired to know if their harvests would be plentiful and their kingdoms peaceful. Their representatives sometimes waited weeks for aestival time to arrive to receive their audience.
Nándor wiped the sweat from his brow as he rested. Even as high up into the range as he was, humid heat bore down on him. This was the last leg of his journey. The Aerie was close, but that also meant the forest's perils loomed closer.
His day had started well before dawn. He rose as grey broke the darkness, breaking camp with efficient movements. His horse had plodded along the overgrown path for the last two hours without complaint. Now, the hearty stallion drank from the stream in the adumbrated clearing.
Filling up his waterskin, he stood and patted the horse’s glossy neck. The horse snuffled his hair and blew out a large breath before mouthing his ear. Nándor laughed, but it came out tired. He pushed the horse away with a gentle hand then scratched the horse’s muzzle. “I bet you’ll be glad to get there, won’t you? So will I, Tesni.”
He stepped away and mounted the horse. “Another hour and we’ll be there.” He turned his gaze toward the mountain peak. Squinting, he found the faint outline of his destination and frowned.
With a gentle tug of the reins, he turned his horse toward the mountain fortress. He just hoped it was worth it. Would the arcane augury help guide him against Ahriman?
Nándor did not know, but all was lost without a clue to the rogue’s whereabouts along with the sacred object he stole. Ahriman absconded in the night and no trace could be found.
His name was now an anathema among the people. A once great man now nothing but a villain.
Nándor’s face turned stony at the very thought of the man. He would find the treacherous coward.