The shutters did little to block the rising sun filtering through the window of Drayde's austere lodgings. The dark skinned man sat on a rickety wooden chair, staring at the scarred and deeply calloused hands folded in his lap. The chair creaked in angry protest as the big man shifted his bulk and rose his feet. His left thigh throbbed softly from a months old wound which never quite healed right. He massaged it absently as he moved towards the window and threw open the shutters. The streets were beginning to come to life with the sounds of humanity about their lives.
His eyes drifted to the north. Always north. His pulse quickened and his hands began to tremble. He grasped at the hilt of the large blade resting on the table. The rough leather wrapped hilt soothed the tremors, the familiar weight and texture bringing his mind back to the void. His eyes returned to the signs of life in the streets. A clatter and sounds of laughter drew his attention to a group of children running in the street, weaving around a wagon and disturbing the old gray donkey hitched to the lead. Drayde smiled faintly as the old farmer's curses fell on deaf ears and the children continued frolicking down the street. Drayde sighed softly as he stepped away from the window. He tied back his shoulder length hair with a leather band grabbed his leather coat. The north was always there, a warning of misery and death to come. But not today. Today was for life and the small joys it brings. He stepped towards the door, hesitating as he reached for the latch. He adjusted the straps of his scabbard, feeling the reassuring weight of the blade on his back. Today was for life, but only a fool was unprepared.