by Pontos

Chapter 1

Sunk on his thoughts, and sat in a chair next to the fire heating the small room, Jeremiah Dilandau - Guard Chief of the security forces in the city of Dilandau, a fairly big settlement located in the south of The Flatlands - couldn't clear his mind of the worries that were harassing him for a whole week.

His smaller brother, Ethaniel Dilandau, an expert with the Spear - or any Polearm for that matter -, who barely could give his aptitude a good use along the years, had just departed from the house where he lived during his twenty-five years of life. He hadn't left without a specific destination, or intending to do a nomad life trying his luck on the various places he could end on. Just a few days earlier he had his belongings packed, and after saying goodbye to his older brother and his mother, he mounted his horse and made his way to a fortress far in the northwest, known as Metamor Keep.

The vague stories that reached his ears told about a great battle almost nine years ago. The forces of a powerful wizard tried to devastate the fortress - located strategically in the only known access from the Midlands to the lands far in the north, called the Giantdowns - In a battle later known as The Battle of The Three Gates, in which using a planed strategy that took advantage of the architecture of the fortress, the attack was successfully countered. Ethaniel admired the fortress due to the achievements attributed to it, and it was his dream all along to be part of a battle of such scale. He never thought, however, that his dream was potentially going to be fulfilled in that fortress no less.

Less than a week before his departure, a man elegantly dressed made his appearance in front of Ethaniel to inform him that in Metamor Valley were looking for talented people, willing to fight if faced with a new menace from the north. It seemed like the enemy form the Giantdowns was still active. It wasn't difficult to Ethaniel to decide to try his luck in that land, and just a few days after he was ready to start his new life. Jeremiah didn't trust that man. No emotions were reflected on his face, even when Ethaniel confirmed his departure. He didn't show any weird behavior beyond his apparent lack of interest of the world around him, but even then, the soft voice in Jeremiah's head whispered "Don't trust him too much" made him uneasy. It was nothing more than a hunch, he told himself.

Under the promise to write a letter and even pay them a visit every now and then, the young warrior departed to the northwest ready to face his future.

The journey had been very long, surpassing three weeks staring only to the head of a horse, and Ethaniel was very irritated. Knowing this was his first long travel, it was one which wouldn't be easy to forget. The man who paid him a visit weeks ago traveled alongside him just half the distance to Metamor. He stayed in Kelewair, supposedly to attend a few personal matters. He gave Ethaniel a map with marked places where he would be able to sleep safely during the rest of the travel, and then - after a peculiar handshake - they took their own ways.

After crossing a few small settlements in Metamor Valley, Ethaniel was already amazed by the visage of the Keep's towers, even still being miles away. Soon after that, from the snow-covered shrubs on the sides of the road, three armed people, two women and a man, stepped into the road. Ethaniel stopped his horse, aware of the usual ambushes in the area, but leaving place to the possibility of them being just scouts. Only one of the women noticed him, which made him discard the possibility of an ambush. She was exceptionally beautiful.

"Get back through the road, there is a town nearby. Stay there until you receive confirmation about the safety of the road" She said, in a non-feminine and bossy tone.

"May I ask why? Is there something wrong?" He asked.

"Lutins, stranger. There was a sighting not too long ago, and we are looking for them. This area is not secure for the time being" She insisted. Her companions where searching the area, one of them entering the shrubs once again.

"Lutins?" Ethaniel asked, with a perplexed look. He never heard such a thing.

"Small green creatures, very dangerous and very annoying. For the last time, turn around and leave if you want to get out the valley alive, or at least in a safe period of time for you" She was irritated.

Ethaniel ignored her once again, and took a long spear from his back. It had a metal blade slightly curved on one end.

"If it's about hunting, I can help" He said, dismounting from his horse, for the surprise of the woman.

"Can you fight? Judging you by your cloths I could swear you were just some wealthy traveler". She resumed her duty. "Do as you please".

It wasn't long after that, when the scream of alert from the man in the shrubs could be heard.

"In the trees! Nearly fifteen of them!"

Immediately after, screams of rage appeared from everywhere, at the same time when numerous creatures - following the description of the woman - jumped from the trees right into the road and started attacking every present person. The two women showed a fighting prowess Ethaniel had never seen before from that gender.

Without losing time, he wielded his spear in both hands, and rushed over the Lutins. In a succession of apparently random movements, rotating the spear in the air around him synchronized with his own movements, the lutins were falling one after another. Six Lutins lay dead, victims of the slashes made by the Polearm. Some of them losing their heads or other limbs. Ethaniel stopped then, because the rest of the creatures attacked the two women a few meters ahead of him. They killed five Lutins in total, apparently leaving the rest to the man still hidden on the shrubs. The woman approached Ethaniel, with a mixture of astonishment and worry.

"That was amazing back there, but you risked too much by fighting after being hurt in your arm". She commented

Ethaniel then became aware of the apparently deep wound on his left arm.

'Damn!' He thought.

The woman was perplexed now. It wasn't a simple wound - it was bleeding more than one would like - but even then the stranger didn't show the lesser sign of pain or worry. In fact, he looked pissed.

"Doesn't it hurt you?, that same wound in your chest could claim your life. You are bleeding too much. Follow us to the Keep". She said, still perplexed.

"Oh, don't worry, I can't feel anything". He said, checking his belongings for something useful to cover the wound, until it receives proper treatment. That being done, he mounted his horse and resumed his way to the Keep.

"My destination was the Keep anyway. I've come to join your armed forces" He said, leaving the two women even more perplexed.

"Join?" whispered the other woman. Ethaniel couldn't hear her.

In their way to the Keep, the man until then missing showed itself once again.

"Who is he?, did he killed those Lutins alone?" He asked softly to one of his companions. He had followed Ethaniel and the women hidden in the brushes. If the stranger had proved to be a menace, he had the advantage of being out of sight. After a few minutes he changed his mind. That wound was surely to render the stranger's arm useless, he thought.

"I don't know, Eric. He claims to be here to join our forces". The man made an incredulous gesture with his face. "He showed a great fighting prowess. Even wounded he didn't stop. He doesn't seem to feel pain..."

The man approached Ethaniel, still distrusting him. "Good Afternoon, traveler. Nice mess you left back there". Ethaniel smiled due to the apparent compliment. The fight left him in a good mood, washing away the irritation of the travel. Too much time has passed since he faced a one-vs-many fight.

"My name is Eric, and these two ladies behind us are Lina and Ariadna" He said pointing the women. One of them, the one which hadn't said a word in all afternoon, avoided eye contact with Ethaniel in an evident gesture of shyness. Moments earlier and sword in hand, one would have never thought such thing about her. "May I ask your name, and the reason for the lack of interest in your bleeding arm?". Ethaniel watched his arm again. The wound looked worse than he first thought.

"I'm Ethaniel Dilandau, but you can call me just Ethan", he answered. "And regarding the wound, it's an old story. Essentially, I can't feel anything in my body"

'Can't feel anything?', the man wondered.

On the Outer Gate, Eric informed the guards about Ethan identity and pretensions. With the same incredulous stare, the guards nodded and let them pass. Ethan then left his horse on the stables.

"Go talk with George after taking care of that wound. He is on charge of the scouts in the Keep. He'll be able to tell you what to do", Eric said while walking through the Outer Ward. "He is a jackal, you shouldn't have any problems finding him".

'What does he mean with that?' he thought.

After leaving Eric, Ethan dedicated a few minutes to watch the town. Houses, commercial stands, people walking around, Guards on their regularly patrols, children playing, and curiously other children with more mature behavior. Some even running a few stands, without adult's tutelage. Saving for that, it was somewhat standard, but oddly more active than others similar towns he saw before. He stopped to ask for the location of this George, and after a few minutes of walking and tracking he ended up finding an office, which supposedly belonged to the Patrol Master.

The door opened itself and a woman appeared through it. Ethan hadn't knocked, and the woman looked surprised to see him standing there.

"May I help you?" she asked.

"Uh, well, I'm looking for the Patrol Master, George is his name I was told. I'm here to join the scouts"

The woman looked at him interested. "Are you new around here?"

"Yeah, I've been here about half an hour". "I haven't even looked for lodging yet" he said, scratching the back of his neck.

"Mmh, George isn't here right now. He is in one of the training grounds with a few scouts. He should be here in a matter of minutes anyway". She said "You may wait for him here, or you may have other thing to take care of first".

"I'll wait, thanks" Ethan said a bit disappointed. "I don't know where to start to settle myself in here, and perhaps he can give me some clues". The woman then left the corridor after locking the Patrol Master's room. Ethan was about to sit on the floor when the new wet crimson-colored layer on his cloth reminded him of his wound.

'Damn, I forgot about my arm!'. George would have to wait...

Ethan knocked the infirmary door a few times, and following the 'Just a second!' that came from inside, a light brown haired man opened the door to find himself in front of a decently dressed man, with an arm bathed in blood. "Oh my god!, show me that!", and pushed Ethan inside the room. Ethan wore off his precariously improvised bandage, and said. "You are Brian Coe, right?, I was told you could help me with this". The healer was perplexed with the careless attitude coming from the young man.

After many minutes of treatment on the wound, Coe stated "You are lucky, it was more superficial than what seemed at first sight. Anyway, you lost some blood, so you will have to rest for a few days" Ethan was relieved, but he couldn't promise to rest that much.

"Now, would you care to explain me how you didn't felt anything all this time?. Your face wasn't reflecting the fact that you had a wound starting in your elbow all the way to your wrist".

Ethan knew he would have to tell the reason more than once during his stay in Metamor Keep.

"About twenty years ago" He started, "While playing with my brother I fell from the roof of my house. The hit I took on both my head and back was severe"

"I remained unconscious for weeks, only to wake up in a world full of darkness". Coe was listening interested.

"I could hear my family talk, and I was able to speak as well. However I had completely lost the ability to see, along with my sense of touch. It was the closest thing to a dream I ever had while being awake. I couldn't see nor feel anything. I was able to move, but not to know how things turned out except by hearing the noises I'd made, or by being told about it from a person nearby".

"Soon after, my father left the house promising to find a cure for my illness. He was warned that such thing was impossible, but he refused to give out hope."

"About a week later, the darkness that surrounded me was covered by a bright light, letting the figure of a beautiful and mature woman to be sighted, just before the morning light filtering through the windows almost left me blind again"

"My father was back days after that event. He was happy to know I had recovered my sight, but didn't look surprised. It wasn't until many years had passed that he told me about my miraculous recovery. He had asked for help to Akkala, a deity of the LightBringers, much to his grief."

"I never knew which the price he paid for my healing was, but it had to be very high, because he didn't try to give me back the sense of touch". "I don't mind anyway, it is an advantage in the battlefield. Even with the drawbacks it brings on other things."

Coe made sure that the bandage was firm, and said "I suppose you came here to stay. You may have 'luck' and ending up solving that problem"

Ethan stared at him confused. "It's not my intention, but thanks anyway for the hint". That said, he left and made his way to the Scout's headquarters.

It was getting dark, and Ethan wanted to make sure he'd got a positive answer before looking for a place to sleep.

The door opened to let him see the adjacent room. It was slightly furnished, with a man sitting in front of a table. Toying with a knife on his hand, he gave Ethan a bad-tempered look.

"Just five more minutes, that's all I was going to give you to get back in here. I'm usually busy, especially in these last days, you know? I was told you were waiting for me outside the office, only to find a few drops of blood next to the door". "The only reason why I waited for you was because you supposedly came to Metamor Keep voluntarily to join us. In other circumstances, I would be long gone".

"I'm grateful for your consideration, and I apologize as well for your lost time, sir" Ethan said.

"Let me introduce myself. My name is Ethaniel Dilandau, and I come from the city of Dilandau, in The Flatlands". George found interesting that both him and his hometown shared the name.

"Are you the son of the sovereign in Dilandau, rightful heir or something?"

"Oh, no, I'm the Count's nephew, but I've got no power whatsoever, or even the right to inherit him. It was my uncle's decision"

Ethan didn't give a damn about losing such privilege. It bothered him that his older brother got the same fate. Having no cousins, there was no logical reason. Jeremiah was more than qualified for the job.

"Anyway, that's not relevant now" He said, making himself comfortable on the chair. "We are not used to the sight of people willing to come here on their own. It's usually more of an accidental thing"

"Why is that?" Asked Ethan quite perplexed. The Patrol Master seemed to ignore it.

"Very well, come back tomorrow. I'll test your abilities, and depending on the outcome I'll tell you what to do. Then you will start the required training" "I recommend you to go see Copernicus. That lizard will be able to tell you if there is a room for you already. The Keep is usually ahead of anyone else on those matters" He grinned.

'Lizard?, What's this all about?, codenames?'

"Welcome to Metamor Keep boy", both stretched hands.

Beyond the Inner gate one can find the Lower Keep. With his mind full of trivial things, Ethan found himself walking aimlessly in no time. The bizarre situations - like the one in which the same door led to different corridors or rooms when crossed two or more times - left the poor guy wondering where he was. Stressed, more than before he wanted to find Copernicus and be done with the day. It wasn't too late yet, but he was exhausted from the travel, and the missing blood was certainly part of the fatigue. Before realizing it, he crossed a door which led him to a pub, full of people drinking, eating and talking. It was a really cheerful atmosphere. How did he got there?, who knows, but he wasn't going to lose the chance to ask for directions before venturing out again into that wicked maze.

"Cope?, he's right there in the pool table, beating the crap out of that hopeless guy once again"

A waitress of the Deaf Mule pointed Ethan to a crowded section of the pub. The people was making a fuss around the pool, where Ethan noticed of a large man, about six foot tall or more. He was destroying - in a good sense - his opponent. Copernicus was done with his balls when the other guy barely made a third of his.

"Good! just as we agreed, Michael, a cup of Ale!" The people around started to praise him for his win. The guy called Michael wasn't exactly happy, but neither angry. Ethan approached the intimidating man, and tried to get his attention.

"Uh?", He said turning around. "Well, hello there!, are you new around here?. I was expecting someone to show up anytime now".

"Yes, I just arrived this afternoon. Pleased to meet you, I'm Ethan". He didn't dislike his full name, he just preferred the abbreviation.

"And... do you plan on staying here a long time?" he asked, with an intrigued expression.

"Yeah, that's the idea. I came to settle myself here and to join the Scouts" Ethan answered.

Copernicous gave Ethan a bright glare. "That's interesting, I haven't seen healthy people willing to stay here in a long time! Welcome then"

"Why healthy?" Ethan asked intrigued

"Oh, you know, sick people coming here expecting a cure for their illness. The Keep has become popular lately due to that"

"Anyway, I suppose you were looking for me for my famous guides around the Keep, don't you?. Just give me a minute to..." Ethan interrupted him before he could end the phrase.

"In fact, the Patrol Master told me you most likely knew about a place to stay in the night. I'll gladly take the guide some other time. As I said I just arrived from a long travel". He then remembered George's words, the comment about a room 'made for him'. "Actually, he said there may be a room especially for me somewhere in the Keep. I don't know what he meant with that..."

"Oh yeah!, there is. I just told you I was expecting someone to show up. Apparently that's you"


"It appeared this morning, out of nowhere as usual. The door had the word 'Dilandau' engraved on it. Is that your name?"

'Ok, this is getting creepy'

"Y-Yeah, it is..." He stuttered. "What do you mean with 'it appeared'?" Ethan asked.

"Nobody told you yet? The Keep is alive, more or less. There's an ancient lady that just a few have had the chance to meet personally, but even then, no one have ever lived here without receiving a few of her gifts... or pranks" He told. "She can manipulate the Keep's environments as she pleases, as well to fulfill the Keepers needs. You can cross the bath's door and end up in the armory. It depends on your desired destination".

Ethan listened astonished. He knew that was some kind of magic, and was excited since he'd never witnessed any very complex one with his own eyes. This explains why he was lost back in the corridors.

"Come, I will take you to your room". That being said, they made their way out of the Deaf Mule. Right before stepping outside, Cope turned around and shouted "Michael!, I'll be back in a moment. Have that Ale ready for me!".

"Yeah...", Answered the depressed man.

In half the time it took him to cross through the people of the pub, he found himself standing alongside Cope in front of a wooden door. Just as Cope said, it had the word 'Dilandau' engraved on it. Cope wasn't lying ...

"Here we are. Rest now, I'll back for you in the morning. There are many interesting places in here" Ethan gave the room a glimpse. One wall had several supports for long weapons. The rest was nothing out-of-the-ordinary, but comfortable nonetheless. A bed, a table and two chairs, a mid-sized shelve, a fireplace and a window alongside the bed's headboard.

"Are you sure? I can go again to the Deaf Mule, or to your room. I don't want to bother you too much". Cope laughed at the honest modesty the man in front of him just showed, and said "I've done this lot of times, don't worry. Just rest, see you tomorrow". He closed the door before him. Ethan took a glimpse of the room once again. It was just his first day in Metamor Keep and he already discovered an amazing feature of it. He laid down on the bed, thinking about the next day. First and foremost, he was going to ask Copernicus how to change the marks on the door. He preferred just his name on it.

The sun slipped through the window, awaking Ethan much to his grief.

'Great!, aiming right to the east!' he thought angered.

It was hopeless to try to sleep again, so he just woke up. He dedicated a few moments to clean the blood-dirtied spear he waved dexterously in the air the day before, and then placed it in one of the supports mounted on the wall.

'It looks like they read my mind' Ethan thought, looking at the many supports in the wall, all of them of different sizes and shapes. He planned to buy a few polearms throughout his stay in the Keep. His fighting technique was extremely flexible and adaptable depending on the weapon, in order to use its potential to the full. Be it a simple edge-less staff, or a double-edged spear, after a short amount of time of adaptation he would give them an optimal use. Until now, he used mostly the spear handed to him by his father.

Interrupting his thoughts, Copernicus knocked the door. "Ethan?, come to see this!". Ethan moves away from the wall and opens the door. Cope grinned at him, and pointing the door said "Have you been thinking on something during the night"?. Ethan understood the meaning of his words instantly. The door had the word 'Ethan' engraved on it. No sign of the former inscription.

"So, let's get started"

The guide was a pleasant one. He got to meet many interesting places, like the public baths, the Greenhouse, the library, the Ecclesiast cathedral and the Lightbringers temple. He met many people superficially around the Keep. He may have time later to know them better. Cope reminded him that, in order to reach a certain place within the Keep, it was just a matter of thinking about being there.

Ethan was ready to report himself to George, so that his stay on Metamor Keep gets a reason to be. He said goodbye to Copernicus, promising him a drink that night in the Deaf Mule, to show his gratitude about the guide. That done, he headed to the Scouts headquarters.

On his way there he remembered seeing a bunch of people training on the courtyards moments before. Knowing that George was training scouts last afternoon, he may be actually there.

Indeed, looking over the fight of two women, George wasn't losing the chance to reproach every mistake, or praise achievements. Ethan recognized one of the women as the timid but deadly fighter from the day before. George then noticed Ethan, and waving his hand indicated him to get close.

"Good morning Ethaniel. Good that you came here. Were you at my office a moment ago?"

"No, I came here directly after a walk with Copernicus".

"Good then. I want you to meet one of the best warriors in the Keep"

George then called out a man that was sitting nearby. Bigger even than Cope, the man approached George and Ethan. Not only his aspect was intimidating, but his presence as well. It was evident he was an experienced warrior, more than what Ethan could have been on his 25 years of life. Even then, the idea of having a match with him was somewhat exiting.

"I've been told that you are not an average fighter. Those six lutins dead by your spear were dismembered in a very peculiar way". George said.

"So this big cat here wanted to see what can you do. His name is Oberon, and is no small thing to get his attention like this"

'What the hell!, Again with that animal crap?'

"You will have a match. Short and without lasting consequences. It's just to measure your capacity". He continued.

"Besides, you don't want him as an enemy on a real battle". That pretty much confirmed his potential.

Oberon had dark hair, and oddly his eyes were golden. Ethan had never seen such an odd colored iris. Even though he met many varied people on the few travels he made.

"Pleased to meet you, my name is Adòn Naharél, but you can call me Oberon".

"Pleased to meet you as well. I'm Ethaniel Dilandau, but I prefer to be called just Ethan". He answered.

George asked Ethan which weapon he wanted to use, thing that reminded Ethan that his spear was still on his room. He asked for any good polearm, and was given one similar to his own, save for the shape of the blade. It was shorter and not curved. The wood was thicker and apparently heavier as well. It was going to be a bit complicated to get used to it in the same fight he would need it optimally.

"Very well, at my command both of you will stop. No excuses". It was clear like water, better do as he said if he planned to begin his career on the right foot.

Right after the start command, Oberon was fast to claim the first blow. Slashing a midsized sword at him, Ethan barely had time to react and block the blow with the blade of the spear. Contrasting with his size, Oberon was blazing fast. The same can be said about his strength, since the blow was stronger than Ethan foretold, and left him on a defenseless stance.

"Easy Oberon, he wasn't expecting that", commented George.

"That is exactly why I did it. I wanted to see his reaction when faced with a sudden attack". Oberon intended him to block his blow using the spear's body, but for his surprise he was able to put the blade before the sword's path. It was true that he was an expert with the polearm.

Ethan got back to his feet, a bit embarrassed, and after George's command to resume the battle he didn't waste the chance to give Oberon a similar attack. In a sudden jump and rolling in the air, he charged his opponent with the spear in a straight blow, who was able to block it using his sword. Oberon had another sword on his left arm - a short sword of sorts - with which he intended to hit Ethan the moment he landed behind him. Much to his surprise, Ethan did land where he thought, but in a much crouched position. Swiftly, Ethan stroke Oberon's ankles using the side of the edge-less end of the spear. In a normal situation, such blow would have made his opponent lose his balance and fall to the ground, probably with a few broken bones. But due to both the situation and his opponent weren't normal, Oberon just lost his balance enough to crouch, holding himself with a hand on the floor. Ethan continued his attack with a slash of the spear, blocked by the short sword. In the few moments following that last move, the battle was a mixture of blocked blows on both sides, and a few forced acrobatics made by Ethan due to the speed and flexibility that Oberon attained in unexpected situations.

Ethan was amazed by the speed and strength of the warrior - who was leading the battle - and, before realizing it, his opponent charged right to him, and hit his chest with the elbow. Ethan was thrown back with the impact. More than the fact that he was angered with himself for not have paid enough attention to his opponent - distracted by his thoughts while fighting -, he was impressed for the strength of the impact. Ethan was thrown back no less than three meters, and his ribs were intact only thanks to the armor he was wearing.

"That's enough", indicated George. Being three meters away from each other, there wasn't much of a choice anyway.

"Your mind drifted during the battle, my last blow shouldn't have hit you. You are fast enough to avoid such thing". Oberon said

"Are you ok? That was a strong hit" Said George, helping Ethan to stand up.

"It's ok, don't worry", Ethan was having a rough time trying to breath, coughing from time to time. George then noticed the red stains along Ethan's bandages. They were fresh.

"Have you noticed your left arm?" He asked Ethan looked his arm and cursed loud whatever crossed his mind that moment. Oberon was surprised for such reaction.

"Don't you feel pain? Not only you get hit in the chest, but an old wound gets reopened as well." Removing the dirt and snow from his cloth, Ethan began to tell them about his inability to feel anything. Pain, cold, heat, even human contact; he was deprived of such things.

"How can you live like that, let alone fight?" Asked George almost disturbed. "You can't be assured that your weapon is still in your hands unless you see them with your eyes. You can't measure the strength of your blows, and even worse, there is no way to tell if a wound is mortal or not before you fall dead because of it!" Ethan was offended before such statements. He lived and fought during twenty years like that after all...

Oberon then added "Pain in not just an annoyance boy, it also tells you when something is not right. The fact that you fought in this condition proves that you are not aware of the seriousness of the wound".

"It wouldn't surprise me if it was you the one who made that wound" Concluded George sarcastically.

After paying a visit to Coe, and getting recriminated for his carelessness, Ethan decided to take a walk around the Keep. Coe had wrapped a bigger bandage around Ethan's left arm, sticking it to his chest, intending to avoid any movement at least until 'the curse shows its effects on you', according to him. Ethan chose to not ask about that, and then left.

The gardens would have been nice, if it were not because the snow dyed out all the varied colors around. He walked for several minutes, until he realized it wasn't as relaxing as he first thought it would be.

A girl appeared through the path, walking straight to him, which Ethan recognized as the girl from the day before.

"Aren't you freezing there?" she asked, with a more feminine tone than the other girl. "You left the courtyard, and didn't show up for lunch"

He hadn't just missed lunch, but last dinner as well. The only thing he swallowed since his arrival was a slice of bread, moments before Copernicus knocked his door that morning.

"Oh yeah, it's just that I have many things on my mind" He answered.

"I'm Ariadna, pleased to meet you. I'm sorry to have been quiet all this time" She said embarrassed.

"Don't worry, such things are trivial. I was a complete stranger until recently after all" He left out a small laugh. "I'm Ethan. Would you like to eat something? At least let's find a warmer place than the outdoors"

"I should say that. Having two layers of coat helps a lot" She said with a warm smile

'Doesn't anyone here talk without saying weird things?' Ethan thought. She was wearing just one jacket behind the training armor.

They went together to the town on the Outer Ward, and bought a few things to eat from different stores. Ariadna recommended him the goods from a bakery run by some guy called Gregor, but Ethan refused the idea for the time being. He hadn't eaten anything but bread during the last days of travel. Ethan told her about his situation, and Ariadna left water-clear the fact that it would frighten her if it ever happens to her. He was very aware of the fact that every person who found out about his senseless body ends up startled. Some of them even feeling compassion towards him. Ethan didn't care, nor would he get offended. Most of his life was like this, and he really couldn't remember how it was before the accident. Winter and summer were the same for him, save for the scenery. More than once as a child, he almost died frozen in a harsh winter, simply because he couldn't measure the adequate cloth to wear. Even now, free from such mistakes brought by the inexperience, he was usually told that his clothes were insufficient.

She was from Euper, the town located right outside the Outer Gate in the southern end of the Keep. Just a few years ago she started her training to become a Scout, and was happy with the outcome. She had become quite good with the sword, and save for the last winter, she never faced a real problem. She talked like a fan-girl about the members of a group called the "Long Scouts". It was the first time Ethan heard that name, and by the enthusiastic way Ariadna related their achievements, it was clear it was an elite team of sorts. He then wondered if Oberon was part of it... There will be another time to find out. He just wanted to spend a nice meal with the girl, a bit eccentric - like most of the people he met until now actually -, but attractive, friendly, and at moments a bit naive.

That, as long as she wielded no sword while facing people.

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