“Before you were, child, your father and I lived paltry lives, as did many then. We walked under the icy moon of ancient days as did our forefathers. We lived in the southern lands, where the standing cities were planted long ago. None lived there any more, just us. The locals were afraid of the ghosts that lurked there. But your father and I, we knew. That gave us work until the work dried up. Then, to the north we looked.
“You know well about the treasure hunters. They built these places here, you know. So we owe them thanks for that. They took back the wastes and gave us, again, what we had lost so many years ago. But, first and foremost they are nothing but rooks, scavengers, opportunists. Many come to Sog to watch the games, to feel warmed by man’s lust for power and admiration. I’m not the fool to think that is mere coincidence. When a man comes to town, he has coin to spend. And they are there behind him, waiting.
“Our work was charming and innocent, one of the few things that we agreed on. We opened an antique boutique off the road near the water side. As the drunkards came, sauntering in off the road, we would vend them trinkets and pointless baubles. Dolls, powerless machines, crystals, and other rustic things would be enough to amuse an intrigue. I took care to ask questions. Occasionally I would get a good tale out of it. Your father, he was a capitalist. He spoke the language of coin, to my dissatisfaction.
“It all changed one night. The town was empty. The travelers had gone their own way, most to the south. I had seen the crimson skies, the thunder broiling in the distance. A bitter cold was approaching. When I looked out of our shop display, a man in tattered robes, holding his sides, was drawing near. And when he collapsed into our door, your father and I watched the poor boy bleed out silently. In his hands was some wadded paper, incomprehensible scrawlings that I puzzled over.
“We disposed of the body soon after. But in the coming weeks some others came asking for him. They sought the paper, but we remained silent. Myself and David would watch one another as they searched the shop for anything the boy could have dropped. His eyes said ‘silence,’ and I agreed.
“When they had gone, all of them, after some months, David and I unfolded the documents, spread them out over the table in the back room of the shop and poured over them. We were looking for clues. But I was lost in the symbols. They were so strange, so peculiar. They were unlike anything that I had seen before.
“And I feared what they meant, what that meant for us. It meant change, and the overthrow of everything we had gathered. For the blood soaked liniments, upon closer inspection, would lead us to a discovery on insurmountable significance.
“It was our ticket home.”