"Do you still feel the pain?" Shiak asked. "After all these years it remains, a great weight in your belly, for as long as you retain your human body. I can ease your pain by returning you to your lupine form. You could abandon me and leave behind your human life forever, but then you will accomplish nothing. I fear it is a symptom of the curse you bear - the one that made you an animal. It is killing you slowly. I do not know how long you have left. Perhaps it is a year or perhaps ten. Now that you have regained some of your strength, I advise you to seek out those answers. Put an end to it before it eats you, inside out, leaving nothing but a rotting shell."
At length, the sword continues, "Do you know that you have not aged a day since we met? I wonder why that is. I suppose it is fortunate for us. You will need all of your strength, I think, for what is to come. Still, it is another uncertainty, and these are dangerous times."
"What will you do first? Where to begin? There are so many questions to be answered, but yet, you are not ready for all that the world has to offer. You need a direction to get you started."
In the years since you regained your human body, you have endeavored to learn about their world. You are in a land called Solesta. It is a human kingdom. Prominent minority groups include orcs, halflings, and kobolds. About thirteen years ago, it seems that Solesta was ruled by a tyrannical emperor known as Scathis, until a powerful mage, the heroic Baron Kraid, overthrew Scathis. It is not known exactly what happened between the two, but somehow, Kraid was corrupted. Instead of leading Solesta into the Golden Age that was promised, he simply rose as its new Dark Lord.
You currently inhabit the northern region called Brumani. Regarded as a frozen wasteland, it is largely untouched by civilization. Neither Scathis nor Kraid ever showed much interest in expending their resources to develop such worthless tundra. Those who reside here are members of barbarian tribes who live at peace with nature. They have a simple hunting and trading culture, and only rarely go to war with one another over territorial disputes. From what you have observed of these people, they are a little more accepting of magic than what you have heard about the other people of Solesta. This is because they rely heavily on their tribal shamans. However, their magic is much less flashy than that of sorcerers, and they would probably be just as fearful of overt displays.
"Look there,” Shiak commanded, directing your attention to the setting sun. "The humans call that Sunae. They believe it to be the domain of a powerful spirit, to whom they attach the same appellation. They say that she is the Master of Life and Death, dealing out either on a whim. In a foolish notion, they offer her praise and wonton slaughter of Solesta’s creatures, in futile attempts to appease a thing they do not understand. They desire her warmth and light, yet fear her fire. "
"Soon you will see Sunae’s rival. You know him well. Many a night you stalked these lands, calling to your companion. They call him Nareth, Lord of the Night. According to human legends, it is the destination of spirits who leave this life behind. To him they pray their deeds will be rewarded with a choice spot on that shining orb, to give silver light to Solesta’s nights for all eternity."
"You will learn of many human tales in your travels. It will be up to you to find the truth in them and sift out the lies. There are many spirits in their stories. Some of them are truth while others are myth. Take care, as either can wreak horrors beyond reckoning. Never lose sight of your goal, for it is by your actions that they, and history, will judge you."
For over a year now, you have taken it upon yourself to watch over Brumani’s village of Whiterock and its inhabitants. You have integrated yourself into their culture, learned the ways of its people and become known as a skilled hunter. The winter draws to a close, giving way to summer. At sunrise, the ice fields sparkle for miles, as far as you can see.
As rare as visitors are to this part of the world, you are not the only outsider to find the village. A weathered old man arrived a week ago, wearing nothing but rags and an old hat. His only other possession seems to be a staff that he uses for walking. He has given no name for himself, but declared that his intentions are peaceful. His only desire is shelter, a bed, and warm food. In return for such hospitality, he has been teaching the shaman, Astra, the science of potionmaking. The people of Whiterock have so far welcomed him and named him the Traveler.
Whiterock’s patriarch, Beskar, has served the village for as long as you have known of its existence. He is a large man, as noble in appearance as he is in deed. The children often call him Snowmane, after the thick, white hair that flows from his scalp and chin. While his demeanor is lighthearted, he takes his obligations to his people very seriously. It is due to his guidance that the village prospers as it does. He appeals to his people for cooperation, and people gladly follow his charismatic direction. He has commissioned primitive machines to be built to deliver water, he organizes hunting parties and distributes their prizes, and he encourages all ideas to be brought to attention in Council, so that none of their meager resources are wasted. As per tradition, the shaman, Astra, is his wife, but it is more than a mere arrangement. Rarely does one find such a tight bond between two people as the one that they share.
Through all this time, with all the experiences you have gained and all that you have learned, Shiak has remained at your side. The blade has continued to act as your guide, your teacher, even your conscience, and as your friend. You feel the comfort of a familiar warmth, as the morning begins as every other, with Shiak’s message of hope. “Arise. It is a new day.”