Prologue

The full moon was out again. The northern forests of Gerstund slept in stillness as the Wise Wolf traveled through, and it was a stillness that belonged to the Eikonic Roots.

The first Eikonic Root was that of fire. From the heat of love did all other things rise, and by this very heat do they live. It was the secret heart that lay in the depths of all things, beating, until their life drew to an end. Few seers could see this Root, and those who did had sworn the world was always inflamed. Many fire sages and savants, however, could sense it; for they felt the warmth of it even within the coldest stone and deepest fish.

The second Eikonic Root belonged to that of water, for when the first Eikonic Root rose from the abyss, it separated the darkness of the deep, overflowing the world in its majesty. The tides of the Root bathed into all things; rivers coursed the world as veins, connecting and interweaving. Myths told of the Ancients who swam across these great oceans, reaching great distances that would take months in only moments. Many a sage or savant was foolhardy enough to plump its depths, but not many could breathe beneath them.

The third Eikonic Root was the retraction of the waters that gave rise to the earth, the foundation of the world. These Pillars of Creation held the world above the yawning waters, so that it could never be submerged into them again. Though it stood fast against the ever climbing tides, it was the most malleable of all the Roots, allowing earth savants to change their environment as they pleased.

The fourth Eikonic Root was the empty space between the first three Roots, known as air. On the face of the deep, it flew; in the barren lands, it stirred; and within the heart of the world, it breathed. The fourth Root was not an easy thing to notice. One could only hear its voice in the midst of silence, when all other things were emptied. Many were acquainted with only its violence, but only a handful could speak the calm language of the wind.

The Wise Wolf, however, knew all these things. His eyes were dark and deep, seeing the Eikonic Roots within the forest he traveled. Though alone, he gazed on everything with an emptiness in his heart, and a mind that embraced it for now.

He was no sage nor savant of any particular Eikonic Root, though he favored earth. The lands he crossed were his, as no other man could possess them. He found this appropriate, for no one could truly own any land, just as no one could truly own him. As any other animal, his abode was where he deemed it fit. He was himself as the land was itself. If he were to do anything for others, it was the same as how the earth gives its fruits to men: It was freely given, albeit with some coaxing and twisting.

The forest was still as he waded through the shattered light of the moon, carrying within his soul a dazzling darkness that was older than the Eikonic Roots.

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