Two days ride from Ansburg, in the remote alpine village of Riesen-Tal, an aged Tal-Vashoth wainwright closed his shop for the night. Heavy, freezing rain pelted the valley, and the man's strong joints that once moved freely as he'd climbed the rigging of a dreadnought, now swelled and ached in the damp chill. He flexed his hands to work out the stiffness, then doused the lights and limped upstairs to his home.
Going to be a bad night. Might have to have Hissera whip up a poultice after dinner. Sooner or later, Anaan Adaar, you're going to have to accept that you're getting too old for this shit.
He laughed to himself as he stoked the fire in the stove. Sod that. The day I stop is the day they put me in the ground, probably with Taar right beside me.
A tentative, unfamiliar knock tapped at the shop door below. With a lantern in one hand, hammer in the other, the old veteran stepped cautiously back downstairs and opened the window grate on the heavy oak door, startling a young human in a hooded cloak bearing a badge marked with a spiked eye. There was no sign of a wagon.
"Shop's closed. If you need repairs, come back in the morning."
"Master Adaar?" the man panted, his voice heavy with fatigue. "Please, Serah, if I may have a moment of your time, I've come a long way."
"Is that right? Well, who are are you, who do you serve, and what message is so important it can't wait until a decent hour?"
"My name is Turner, Serah. I serve the Inquisition, and I am to deliver this to none but your hand. Herald Adaar said to tell you...please forgive my pronunciation: Ebatot tal-eb noms...? I hope I got that right."
The older man relaxed and chuckled, "Close enough. If you have a mount, bring it round the side to the stable."
He bolted the portal and strode the length of his darkened shop toward the interior stable door, his mind and heart racing.
Meraad's alive! Been nearly a year since she was last home...I don't know what this 'Herald' business is, but with the weird news out of the South, I just hope she's alright.
Rain dripped from the eaves onto his broad, curled horns when he opened the stable door, and he irritably shook it off as the courier stepped into the lamplight with his horse.
Kid's younger than I expected...no more than eighteen if a day. Marcher by the sound of him, possibly Wycome. Hands not unfamiliar with rough work, dual daggers on the belt, light step, definitely rogue trained. Looks to be favoring his left leg and likely not seen the proper side of a solid meal in a while.
Turner extracted a folded, wax-sealed missive from his courier's bag, and passed it to Anaan. Though the older man was desperate to read it, he tucked the missive inside his coat and asked, "Do you have shelter for the night, young man? When's the last time you ate?"
"No, Serah, I haven't." The courier seemed genuinely surprised by the question. "I'd planned to be here hours ago and find an inn but didn't expect the weather to turn this foul, and now it appears everything's closed. Haven't eaten since just past dawn."
"Then get your horse settled in, wash up over there at the pump, and come upstairs. Dinner will be ready in about half an hour."
Turner beamed. "Thank you, Serah! I'm much obliged, and more than willing to offer good coin for your trouble."
"The Void you will," Anaan huffed, then smiled. "News of my daughter is coin enough. You're doing your job, and I'll not let it be said Anaan Adaar turned away a traveler in need. But don't call me 'Serah ', son, I work for a living. I'll see you inside."