The setting sun colored the valley of Westmarch in warm autumn hues. Kehr paused his sharpening of the simple axe, stood, and turned to watch the fading light, the evening breeze threading through his long graying hair with familiar care. He counted in slow breaths as the sun slipped behind the mountain.

The only sounds were those of birds returning to their nests. No footsteps. No words. The horizon kept its covenant as he kept his vigil.

More folk would be coming, the endless line of refugees that Aron had prophesied, treading the Iron Path as dark forces rallied to take the Kohl Mountains. The Bone clan had dwindled, but there were things worse than khazra in these peaks. The commoners needed their protector, and tales had spread from Westmarch to Ivgorod of the Iron Wayfarer, the guardian of the path. Kehr put his hand to his chest and set off down the road again. The refugees would need their brother.



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