Light or Shadow: Which Faction Do You Choose?

Light or Shadow: Which Faction Do You Choose?

One of the issues with MMORPGs is that the story can often feel railroaded or set in stone as a player goes through the game. No matter what type of profession they are or race, they end up playing the same story. MMORPGs aren’t at the point yet of, say, Detroit Become Human, where every option creates a myriad of other options and endings. However, Mystic Riders has a couple ideas in mind to allow the player to have more ‘control’ over their adventure.

One of these is our faction system.

In Mystic Riders, there are two groups of magical riders; the Light Riders, and the Shadow Riders. They’re at odds with each other and don’t know how to get along. The Light Riders control the mastery of the elements and some say thought itself, while the Shadow Riders control things such as petrification and decay, and they’re rumored to control fear and nightmares.

Why there are two factions is something of a mystery. Once upon a time, there didn’t seem to be Light or Shadow magicians at all. There were simply magicians. No one knows what happened. Now, it is what it is, and the Light Riders and Shadow Riders vie for control of the Mirror World.

Nobody is sure what would happen if one side gained more control of the other, though both sides are determined to try.

During the game, the player will be given choices on what side they want to be part of: the Light or the Shadow. And from that point on in the story, they will experience different story quests as they proceed in the game (until they’re prompted on whether or not they want to switch sides again). The player is allowed to choose and decide their own motivations for doing so. Do they really believe one faction is better than the other? Maybe they’re a spy?

On top of having different story quests, each side will have different areas of the Mirror World that they can enter and exit safely. A Light Rider better be stealthy and quick if they want to enter an area of the Mirror World controlled by the Shadow. If not, they’ll have to hope they can race back home without being caught. The vice versa is also true.

The appearance of the “My Glade,” the Mirror World section of the “My Farm,” will also change depending on whether or not the player is a Light Rider or a Shadow Rider. And when the player has enough experience to open up a gate to a Mirror World town, what town they have will depend on which faction they’re part of.

Of course, it is a horse game so there are different special magical horses for Light Riders and for Shadow Riders. In Astranar, there are whispers of unicorns and pegasi if you can enter the Mirror World and win their trust. However, white unicorns only come to riders of the Light, and dark unicorns are attracted to riders of the Shadow. The same can be said of the pegasi. White, pastels, and true colors love Light Riders. While black, greys, and muted colors adore Shadow Riders.

While there are other magical horses, one doesn’t truly care about alignment and a couple only come around a very special lucky holiday.

There is also one special pet for each faction. Light Riders can keep rabbits of all varities for pets. While Shadow Riders can keep certain species of the weasel family including weasels, stoats, ferrets, mink, and pine martens. These pets ride along in the saddle bag, can be held by the player, or run along after the player while they’re walking. And if the player has more than one pet, they stay at the “My Farm/My Stable.”

Each faction has their own special equipment and gear for horses and humans alike. For those in the know, wearing these special styles can hint what side you’re on or have been on in the past.

Hopefully, by adding factions to the game and giving them different rewards will encourage replayability and give the player more freedom and customization in how they choose the play their story and craft their own adventure.

12 Days of Christmas: Do They Know it’s Christmas? (Day 8)

12 Days of Christmas: Do They Know it’s Christmas? (Day 8)

The castle was in a bustle, but the cook was willing to give her and Marquees some cookies and brightened when she asked for the recipe. They were the lady’s favorite “Russian Tea Cakes” also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or even Snowball Cookies. He gave her the recipe and as a treat, since she was helping decorate for Candy Cane Lane and all, treated her to peppermint hot cocoa (and gave her the recipe.) He told her that one of the café owners was doing a poinsettia blooming marshmallow flower cocoa but it couldn’t beat his peppermint hot cocoa.

Pippa stifled a giggle. She was going to have to track that poinsettia recipe down!

But now, she had cookies to bake for Wodan. She hoped he liked powdered sugar!

That didn’t explain why the lord’s castle was in such a fuss. The cook quickly explained. There was to be a party and the lady was at wit’s end cleaning everything up. Perhaps when it was closer to the party, Pippa could help decorate. He was sure that the two would love Pippa’s help.

Pippa promised to look into it. Right now she was extremely busy with prepping the town square for Christmas.

“Of course, that has to come first!” the cook agreed.

Pippa quickly finished her cookies and dashed back to the farm. She needed to get Mini Hump and bake some cookies for Wodan.

While she baked cookies, Pippa had a chance to look over her achievement list. There were the ones she already knew about of course, light up so many trees with Christmas lights, find so many Christmas recipes, and decorate with so many Christmas trees. There were others. Put out so many Christmas lamps. Decorate so many lamp posts. Put out candy cane light decorations. Place so many garlands. Hang so many ornaments. String so many lights over the streets. Gather so many pine boughs. Decorate with so many Christmas wreathes. Put out so many presents. Hang so many ribbon bows. Put out so many candelabras in the windows. Create so many icicles. Why, she’d already started on one and didn’t know it, make so many candy canes. That had to be because she was in the Candy Cane Lane district. Knit so many stockings and then decorate with the exact same number of stockings. That made her giggle. There were some she didn’t understand. “Decorate with so many Christmas cones. What are Christmas cones?” Maybe Vesper would know.

There was just so much to do to get the district ready for Christmas. And she was getting coupons for all of it? And there was a light display for her farm if she saved all of them? She wondered what it was! She had a feeling that the coupon store with Santa was going to be extremely tempting!

She finished up the cookies for Wodan.

She had to run Mini Hump through his warm ups before they could go anywhere. But Mini Hump was a cheerful sort of fellow and eager to please. They trotted off into the woods and she remembered to tie him up before she went into the Mirror World. She didn’t want to have to track him down when she came back out.

She took off her coat and put it over her arm, slinging her saddlebags over her should. “Wodan! Wodan! I made you cookies as promised!” she called out.

“Hah!” Wodan shouted back. “I knew you would remember. Come meet my horse and my reindeer.”

He was further back in a clearing.

Pippa beamed at him and then came to stop. There were reindeer everywhere. And Wodan’s horse, well, he was a huge white one. But that’s not what made her stop, she was expecting all of that. No. It was Santa’s sleigh and it, well, there were no other words for it, it looked like a terrible wreck.

“Wodan, what happened?” she asked and pointed at the sleigh. It sagged in the middle. Paint was flaking off. “You can’t show up to the parade like that!”

“Oh, it’s fine.”

“It’s not fine!” Pippa stomped her foot. “We’ll just have to add it to the list of things to fix,” she said. “Here are your cookies!”

“Snowball cookies!” Wodan’s eyes lit up. “Did you know, one year, someone left me Santa faced sugar cookies with coconut beards and currant eyes. Leaving me my face for milk and cookies. I felt like a cannibal. I almost put them on the naughty list next year. But, Granny Gette was a nice old lady and I just couldn’t go through with it.”

Pippa laughed. Wodan was silly.

Wodan gobbled the cookies, getting powdered sugar and crumbs in his beard.

Overhead his crows cawed.

“No. You can’t have any!” Wodan shook his fist at them. “You messed up my suit.” He paused. “How goes that?”

“It’s going. I’ve got most of the materials I need.” She pulled out the instructions. “But, I don’t understand why I need dried popcorn, chestnuts, fresh fallen snow, and mint.”

“Oh, that is for the magic!” Wodan waved his hands. “Holda will help you with that bit.”

“Good to know.” Pippa put the instructions away.

Wodan finished his cookies. “Now. I’ve a lead on my book.” He glowered. “Hugin and Munin brought it to me, as they should! Given all the trouble they’ve caused this year.” Wodan put a finger next to his nose. “You see, to get into my sack you have to have magic like mine. And well, those sooties saw one of the winter elementals rummaging around my sack.” Wodan harrumphed. “He must have taken the book. One of the ones on the naughty list. If he wasn’t, he is now!”

Pippa frowned. “A winter elemental?”

“He’s probably left a trail of ice.” Wodan waved a hand. “But he’s far away now. I’ve got Hugin and Munin looking.” He glared up at them. “Or they’re supposed to be!” The crows cawed and flapped off.  “Well, we’ll figure it out. Ready to meet my horse and the reindeer? I’m leaving it to you to take care of them while I’m off hunting the elves.”

“I’d love to!” Pippa smiled.

Santa introduced her to his steeds and showed her how to care for them. The horse was pretty easy. He just needed the same type of care that her horses needed. The reindeer wanted salt licks and carrots and sweet potatoes. They could eat a lot different things than the horse.

Wodan seemed pleased. He patted her arm and took off on a different horse with six legs.

So, nothing happened until he was gone. And then Pippa had a revolt on her hands. Because, despite the fact they’d been quite quiet while Wodan was there, both the horse and the reindeer could talk. And neither side, the horse and the reindeer, liked each other very much.

The horse despised the reindeer.

The reindeer didn’t want to pull the sleigh or be in any parade if Santa was going to ride the horse.

The two parties glared at each other and separated to opposite sides of the field.

Pippa felt lost. “Oh dear,” she said. But today, neither of them were willing to listen to her. She was going to have to earn their trust and hopefully, Santa’s arrival would go off without a hitch.

Of course, the sleigh needed fixing too. She gave it a detailed inspection and sighed. She was going to have to ask the carpenter what type of wood the sleigh was by taking some of the old falling apart pieces. It needed to be repainted. The sleigh runners polished. And of course, it needed to be redecorated! Maybe some lights and evergreen garlands and ribbons and bells. There had to be sleigh bells. She probably should make sure there were new things for the horse and reindeer as well. Pippa shuddered. She couldn’t send Santa into town like this!

Oh, but it was adding to her list of things to do!

12 Days of Christmas: Gimme that Cheer (Day 6)

12 Days of Christmas: Gimme that Cheer (Day 6)

It was a lot of work and riding, and there were plenty of trees to decorate on the way! She went to the four cardinal corners of the district and ended up collecting four red items, a red cardinal feather, a cranberry, a holly berry, and a poinsettia.  She found a white pine needle, cypress tree oil, and fir sap. She soon understood why she needed a white pine needle when she saw the other trees. Their needles wouldn’t work as needles at all!

She went to her favorite clearing to try and lure in some rabbits. It took a few tries before she got angora rabbits. She used her calm animal spell and well, the rabbits were very understanding and helpful. Their poor babies were overheating they had so much wool. They were so pleased when Pippa clipped them down to a more reasonable fur length, they even cuddled up to her afterwards. Pippa made sure to keep the baby angora down separate from the adult angora down, as the adults were in need of a trim too before they started pulling their own hair out!

If she’d had room at the farm, she might have taken the entire family home! They were just that adorable.

She brushed snow off her coat as she sat up. She looked at Marbel. “Ready?” she asked.

He whickered at her and rolled his eyes.

She waved at the rabbits who were hopping away and mounted Marbel. They trotted towards an entrance to the Mirror World. They stopped on the other side so Pippa could take off her coat.

“Oh, to be warm!” Pippa groaned.

Marbel rolled his eyes. “And yesterday you wanted snow!”

“I hadn’t been out in it all day yesterday!” Pippa retorted.

Marbel sniffed and made huge eyes at her. “Those apples smell wonderful.”

“They’re for the yule sheep!” Pippa said.

“If I don’t taste one, how will you know they’re good for the Yule sheep?”

“Marbel!” Pippa frowned at him.

He made bigger eyes.

“Oh, fine, ONE!” Pippa said and pulled a Christmas apple out.

Marbel took it and munched on it, making horrible noises of contentment and happiness. Pippa sighed. She knew they’d been fine!

Marbel seemed to know where everything was. When he finished his apple, he trotted deeper into the mirror world. Pippa gasped as they came to the top of a hill and looked into a valley below. It was full of Yule sheep. And Yule sheep weren’t like ordinary sheep at all. Their fur was like silver, it gleamed and sparkled in the sun. And they had red or green faces and legs! The horns of the rams gleamed like bronze and they seemed very over protective of their flock. The flock was huge, full of sedate ewes and lambs that jumped up and down.

Pippa giggled thinking of the goats she’d helped decorate. She reached into her back and took out an apple. Now, she just needed to lure some of the sheep through, there, some bushes with prickers on them! Pippa carefully rolled the apple near some of the sheep. And the baker was right, they couldn’t resist the apples at all. She led them through the pricker bushes and back out again, being careful not to get too close. And soon the sheep were back in the field, munching on grass and the rest of the apples, and she could go and get the bundles of fleece off the bushes.

It sparkled in her hands and she marveled at it as she put the clumps in her bag. It was so beautiful!

“Now, to Wodan.” Pippa frowned. “Oh, he’s probably off chasing elves, How are we going to find him this time?”

“Ho, ho, ho!” Marbel said. “He found you!”

Pippa’s eyes widened as she turned and looked. Yes, the procession of spirits was coming down out of the sky, Wodan and Holda in the lead.

“Been feeding my sheep!” Wodan bellowed at her, but he grinned behind his beard.

“They seem to like apples!” Pippa said in a teasing tone. “And I had special Christmas caramel apples!”

Holda laughed.

Wodan pouted. “And you didn’t save one for me.”

“Well, I thought you’d prefer cookies,” Pippa teased.

Holda laughed harder. “He does! He does!”

Pippa nudged Marbel and the two went to meet Wodan and Holda. “Any luck with the elves?” She asked.

“Not yet,” Wodan grumbled.

“I am glad to see you!” Pippa said. “I’ve been told by an authority that I need lumps of Christmas coal to make a pine needle for your outfit. And I was wondering if I could look in the past naughty and nice book to see who had received Christmas coal.”

Wodan faked a frown. “Well.”

“It’s not top secret,” Holda told him. “Do you want a new outfit or not? This will be faster for Pippa than having to ask everyone in the district! And who would want to admit to being naughty?”

Wodan grumbled. “Still, it sets a bad precedent.”

“I’ll bring you cookies,” Pippa promised.

“See,” Wodan smiled. “That is my type of girl. I’ll let you look at my books and you bring me cookies.”

Holda sighed. “He would have let you look anyways.”

Pippa wrinkled her nose. “This gives me an excuse to look for Christmas cookie recipes and earn Christmas coupons.”

Holda laughed.

Wodan put a finger next to his nose and wriggled it. A sack popped into existence. “There it is!” he said. He reached into the sack and pulled out a stack of books. “Naughty and Nice,” he rumbled. But then he frowned. “Huh.”

“Huh?” both Pippa and Holda asked.

Wodan set the books down and stuck his hand back into the sack, fishing around. “It should be in here,” he mumbled.

Pippa and Holda looked at each other. Holda seemed alarmed. Pippa was just confused.

Wodan’s frown turned into an outright scowl. He stood up and put his fists on his hips. “It’s gone!” he said. And before either Pippa or Holda could ask. “This year’s Naughty and Nice book is missing!”

Now, both Pippa and Holda were alarmed.

“No. That can’t be!” Holda said.

“It is!” Wodan told her.

“We’re going to have to find it,” Pippa said.

Wodan narrowed his eyes. “Yes. Yes. We are. Just another thing to do before Christmas!” He shook his head. “All right, here is the last few years of naughty and nice,” he said. “I’ll have to do some questioning before we look for this year’s book. Whoever took it is going permanently on the naughty list!” he raised his voice into a yell.

Pippa slapped a hand over her mouth. That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good at all!

Pippa flipped through the books and took notes of names. She would have to go and ask all of them, very discreetly of course, if they had Christmas coal. And, she hoped to encourage them to try and be nice this year. There was only so much time before Christmas!

She thanked Wodan for his help in a round about way that didn’t outright say thank you. He just laughed.

“Remember, tomorrow you bring me cookies! And I should have information about the naughty and nice book. Who knows? Maybe you can meet the reindeer and my horse!”

Marbel could barely contain his sarcasm. “Oh joy.”

“Marbel!” Pippa hissed. “I would love to meet them all.” She smiled at Wodan. “See you tomorrow.”

Her horse sighed. “Just. You. Wait,” he said.

“They can’t be that bad.”

Marbel snorted.

Pippa went around and asked those on her list if they had Christmas coal. Most of them were more than happy to give it to her. They knew it had special properties and didn’t want to just get rid of it. But they didn’t want to keep it either. It could be bad luck! Pippa assured them that she would take it and she would tell no one that they had it. They were extremely grateful.

Pippa was ready to return to the tailor and the blacksmith. They were both happy with her finds and told her, predictably, to return tomorrow. Pippa checked in with Vesper.

“Sounds like you’ve had a busy day!” Vesper said. “Here are your coupons,” she said and passed them over with a wink.

“Thanks! See you tomorrow!” Pippa told her.

Vesper grinned. “Tomorrow!”

Pippa yawned.

Marbel yawned too.

“I’m hungry and tired.”

Marbel snorted.

“You had a snack!” Pippa told him, tartly.

Marbel huffed a laugh and they headed back to Magpie Field and to bed.

12 Days of Christmas: Here Comes Santa Clause (Day 2)

12 Days of Christmas: Here Comes Santa Clause (Day 2)

Marbel burst into a gallop and lengthened his strides into a run after the Christmas Spirit. All Pippa could do was hold on and duck her head under branches. They jumped over logs and dodged around rocks. Pippa saw the glitter of eggplant indicating an opening to the Mirror World. In the spirit of Christmas the archway was covered in holly with bright red berries. “There!” She pointed as the Christmas Spirit shot through the door.

Marbel huffed and charged through the opening and into a verdant summer. Pippa gasped in shock. Ahead of them, instead of a spark of red and green light was a childlike creature with greenish skin, pointed ears, and a red pointed hat, cape, and outfit. It hovered above the ground, going at breakneck speed.

“Redcap,” Marbel said, turning his head. “No wonder Holda doesn’t want to make them angry. Just a bit further now.”

The race started again and soon, they were deep in this section of the Mirror World and running down a ‘lane’ between evergreen trees. The lane opened up into a large grassy area and in the area there were lots and lots of spirits. The Christmas Sprite flitted off to find Wodan.

Pippa gaped until Marbel shifted underneath her. “You might want to take off that coat before you overheat,” he said.

“Is it always like this?” Pippa asked as she dismounted and took her heavy winter coat off. She tugged at her shirt.

“The Mirror World is a mirror. When it is winter there it is summer here, spring and autumn and on it goes, the cycle of seasons,” Marbel reminded her. “Though things are a bit out of whack. No wonder Wodan is grumpy. Frost is a puckish creature at the best of times.”

Pippa wrinkled her nose. “But doesn’t Santa like Christmas?”

“He loves Christmas. He just also hates leaving the Hunt.”

Across the clearing, Wodan roared. “See what you’ve done! My suit!  My suit is ruined! The snow is early, nothing is prepared, and now you’ve ruined my suit. Yes. Run! Run! Both of you sooty pranksters, run!”

Two ravens lifted off into the sky, cawing down mockingly.

“That is your cue,” Marbel said.

Pippa hesitantly approached Wodan. He was a big man with a brown beard and dressed in armor. His helm had two great wings coming off of it. Like Holda, he wore a fur cape and more tied around his calves. One of his eyes was covered with a patch. He held out a few tattered scraps of fabric that had been streaked with black coal. “Ruined!” he muttered. “And it’s almost Christmas. How am I to appear in such a state?” He shook his fist up at the sky. “When I get my hands on you two! Hugin! Munin!”

The ravens cawed more.

“Excuse me, sir,” Pippa said. “May I be of assistance?”

Wodan turned to her and put his fists on his hips. “You? Who are you?”

Pippa forced a smile. “I’m Pippa CantataGallop. I’m here to help with Christmas.”

“At this rate, there won’t be a Christmas,” Wodan grumbled. “You see what those two sooty ravens did to my suit! And the snow is early. Nothing is prepared. Nothing! And where is Holda? The Hunt must continue to chase down those elves to make sure they prepare the toys! She’s missing!”

It sounded as if nothing was going properly. Wodan’s suit was messed up. No Christmas preparations had been made. And the elves were revolting.

Pippa didn’t think she should say that she’d heard Wodan didn’t want to do Christmas. “Well, maybe I can help.”

“I don’t know how,” Wodan continued to grump. “The first thing that has to be done is hunt down those elves! Holda!” he shouted. “Holda!”

“Maybe I can help with your suit?” Pippa asked. “I can get it cleaned!”

“They tore it apart,” Wodan said.

“Then, then, I’ll make you a new one.”

“This just isn’t any suit! It’s a magic suit!” Wodan roared. “One that makes it so I can get down any chimney and into every house without being detected all at once all over the world.”

“That is a special suit,” Pippa said. “If you tell me how to make it, I’ll do my best to make you a new one. Then that is one thing you won’t have to worry about before Christmas.”

Wodan glowered at her and then stroked his beard. “Maybe, maybe you. You have powerful magic about you.” He thrust the scraps of the suit at her. “Track down Holda. She can tell you how to remake my suit,” he said. “Then send her straight back here. We need to hunt down those elves. Staging a revolt. Just before Christmas!”

Pippa nodded and stuck the suit scraps into her saddlebag. “Is there anything else I can do to prepare for your arrival?”

Wodan narrowed his good eye at her. “There’s a lot of work to be done. You can’t do it all by yourself,” he said.

“I can get it started.” Pippa lifted her chin. “What do you want?”

“I want a parade! With children, lots of children, happy ones! And candy, lots of candy to pass out.”

“And then you’ll be willing to do Christmas?”

Wodan blustered a few moments. “Decorations. There will need to be decorations. My horse will need to be prepared. The reindeer need tending. The book of naughty and nice will have to be double checked. And I must get after those elves!”

Pippa held up a finger. “Decorate, plan a parade for your arrival, candy, happy cheering children, prepare the horse, tend the reindeer, the naughty and nice book, and the elves. Is that everything?” she asked ticking things off on her fingers.

Wodan grumbled into his beard. “I guess. For now!”

Pippa smiled. “Then, I’ll go see Holda and tell her you’re prepared to do Christmas.”

Wodan gaped at her. “Now wait a moment,” he shouted.

Pippa smiled at him and mounted Marbel.

Marbel tossed his head and laughed. “Too late, Sinterklaus. You’re roped into it now!” He took off at a trot towards the exit.

Wodan crossed his arms and, when neither of them could see, he smiled into his beard.

Astranar’s Secret Gem: The Mirror World

Astranar’s Secret Gem: The Mirror World

Hidden beyond the next tree. Over secret paths only a few can see. Through the arches of branches and flowers. There is a world of magic and wonder. Teal skies. Vivid greenery. Unique flowers. Maroon earth. Only on the continent of Argentum, in Astranar, can people cross over and discover the enchantments and peoples of the Mirror World.

A simple name, perhaps, while others over the world may have slipped through cracks, they called it different things. Underhill. Wonderland. The Never Ending Wood. Ever After. In Astranar, the natives know that names have power and the true name of the World is best left to those that live in it. They simply call it the Mirror World for it mirrors their own.

When Astranar is in the heart of summer, the Mirror World is in the deepest folds of winter. And while in Astranar, it takes a powerful spell caster to work anything beyond basic spells, in the Mirror World, magic is as easy as breathing—for better or worse!

If one could see both the Mirror World and the mundane world at the same time, one would be able to see the towns co-existing in the same places! The people going on about their lives doing everyday things. For the people of the Mirror World have the same wants and needs as the people in the mundane world no matter how different their appearance.

And oh how different they are! Those that live close to humans can be breathe taking and magical. Fairies in their tiny snow globe sized bubbles. Elementals that take on the shape of humans or giant birds. Griffons that share a passing resemblance to eagles. Deer with colorful coats and exotic antlers like flowering branches and crystal. And many different types of sheep.

Then there are the magical beings that only choose to share the shape of humans. Though their skin is anything but human looking as if someone took liquid metals, and glowing paints to create abstract and fantastical designs. Some may have wings to mock the humans and their tales of fairies (or is it mockery?). Take care of those that live in the ponds.

Those that live deep in the Mirror World have names and faces familiar to the mundane; Santa Claus, Cupid, The Pumpkin King/Jack Frost, Mother Goose, and the Green Man. They come closer to the mundane world around the solstices and holidays when the veil between worlds is thinner. The ways to their towns and castles are only available for a short time each year as they are celebrated (or appeased.) Perhaps, if the main character helps them enough, they will open special places, special towns for the player to visit them all year round.

Then there are the horses! Horses in the Mirror World are the horses of every rider’s fantasy. The most prolific and easiest to find, because often they find their own riders, are the magical color changing horses. Reminding outsiders of a Fjord horse, in the mundane world they come in all shades of dun and have bi-colored manes. In the Mirror World, their coats and manes become an array of bright, muted, or pastel colors. And in the Mirror World, they can talk to their riders. (This may or may not be welcome depending on their personality.)

One can make friend with unicorns, tame the wild pegasus, help the rainbow alicorns, and even discover beautiful nymph horses that take after plants and trees. They can take their rider to places no normal horse can reach (much to the MC’s main horse’s displeasure.)

A word of warning, as with the magic of Astranar, in the Mirror World there are places of Light and places of Shadow. Woe betide those who are of opposite sides stumbling into places they shouldn’t be. Those of the light, beware the arches of dead branches covered in moss. And those of the shadow, beware the arches of living branches covered in ivy. If caught inside, riders of the rong faction have to flee to avoid capture or bargain for their freedom. Some can be convinced to let people go if they are offered something nice or if they are entertained. (Though this brings to mind playing with your food…)

Explore carefully.

But in order to explore, main characters are going to need a winter coat. Don’t think a raincoat can be passed off as a winter coat either. The horses are too smart for that to work…