On that day, eleven years before Alphas I crowned himself, two figures walked down the dusty road striking down from the wooded dales of upland Vintiver into the setting sun. The hills on either side of the road were shadowy, draped as they were with the vines of the purplish-black Vintiver grapes, whose scent hung heavy in the stifling air of late summer, but no such mercy was afforded the road itself.
The elder of them marched steadily in front, face battered by sun and wind beneath black hair, bound back by a leather thong, and bearing a notable gray streak from an underlying scar. Swathed in a light cotton wrap, covered only by a few selected plates of lacquered armor and the pouches and bundles at his wide belt, the sheathed teirian across his back and hanrian ready at his hip made his profession abundantly clear.
The younger stumbled along behind him, face purpling under sweat-streaked blond hair. Wrapped in antiquated bronze chain from neck to ankle, while the thin-bladed knives of his bandolier and the glaive upon which he leaned tried to convey that same impression, his need to lean under the weight of the immense pack slung across his back detracted rather from it.
The younger spoke.
The elder replied.
“This is adventuring.”
“The books never mentioned this part.”
“All the walking, I mean.”
“Epic quests, terrifying foes, romance, treasure, unbelievable sights, forbidden and forgotten wisdoms, ancient artifacts from the era beyond time, and greater than even odds of unpleasant death, yes, but not all the walking.”
“But I suppose we have to get to them somehow.”
“I just assumed that we would have some suitably epic mode of transportation, too.”
“Don’t you have anything to say besides ‘mm’?”