The native people whose ancestors settled the forests of Vex thousands of years ago believe that the mighty River Fleuve is a blood vein of the very planet itself. They say that in the beginning of all things, it cut a path into the very heart of the world, where the gods had imprisoned a beast with no name. This, they say, is how light came to the world and how the stars came to be in the sky, a gift of the River Fleuve and a terrible curse.
Not a breath of air stirred as Tinjin walked slowly from camp toward the rim of the canyon. Here and there, the burnt, arid landscape blazed white with patches of melting snow that had accumulated overnight. Tinjin paused, feeling the chill lifting from the morning air as the sun mounted higher in the sky.
It was seven degrees centigrade, balmy for winter. Down in the canyon, however, it was much cooler. The lack of wind prevented the cold, moist air of the inner canyon from mixing with the warmer weather above, and the temperature difference filled the canyon with a thick fog.
Tinjin looked out across this sea of clouds. Spires and long, jagged ridges of rock rose from the vapor, like mountains and ships poised on the ocean. After eight weeks stationed on the rim, Tinjin had surveyed much of this section of the canyon and knew every cliff and crag visible from camp.
It seemed less familiar now, however, cloaked in its strange, white veil of secrecy. Cacti and small, hardy desert mammals native to this region were the only things hiding in that fog, but that knowledge did nothing to prevent a tingle from running down Tinjin’s spine. Or perhaps it was simply the chill in the air.