After crossing the market area we had entered a non-descript building through what seemed to be a back door. Right behind the door were two black-clad guards who let us pass after a short exchange with my guide. We then made our way through a maze of corridors and flights of stairs, and ended up in a small office. There my companion had left me, telling me to wait.

The office was small and windowless. In the middle of the room was a desk with chairs on either side. Against one wall there was a low file cabinet. I sat down. On the desk were a few pens and a pile of blank sheets of paper. Occasionally I could hear people pass through the corridor behind the door. I waited.

I got up when I felt myself dozing off, wishing there was a window I could open. I wandered over to the file cabinet. Then I noticed the small statue sitting on top of it.

Carved out of a flawless piece of rose quartz, it showed a veiled woman standing between two pillars. In one hand she carried a scroll, and through the veil her exquisite features were hinted at. I leaned my hands on the top of the file cabinet and gazed, lost in the statue's beauty.

"She's beautiful, isn't she?"

I turned around. A small woman dressed in black, silver pentacle at her throat, was standing behind me. Her dark hair was short and streaked with grey, her features regular though not particularly pretty.

"Yes, she is. I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come in."

She reached out her hand and I took it.

"I'm Lowanda."

"Pleased to meet you ma'am."

We sat down. I told her about Jarvik's letter. She asked me how he was, and I said that he seemed fine. She then proceeded to open and read the letter. I sat there and waited. There was this odd aura of calmness about her that kept the silence from becoming awkward.

She put down the letter and looked up.

"You never told me your name."

"It's Jorden", I said. My son's name was as good as any. Besides, I liked hearing it spoken every now and again.

"Well, Jorden, I read here that you're a storyteller. We don't get many of those over here."

"Not anymore. I got out when I got married."

"Is that possible? To just quit?"

"I thought so at the time."

She then asked me about the war. I told her about the loss of my house and my family and how I ended up fighting in what passed for the king's army. Not that I cared about the king that much, but being part of an organised band of armed men seemed to offer the best chance of getting through the war alive. I then told her how, one day, the fighting seemed to have stopped. We kept together for a couple of weeks, until we all knew that it was finally over. One by one we took our leave, never bothering to say goodbye.

It took me one or two months to get back home. It was all gone. Everything was. I found the place where my house had been and dug up the cloak and some papers that I kept there from my safe place. Then I went on my way.

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