“Lady Amaranth of the Du’Thuranis!” The crier at the gate announced the rider’s name, seeing her ride up to the city over the snowy horizon. Her warg Ripper picked up his pace, starting to lope happily toward home, tail wagging like a pup. Home meant treats, and steaks. Amaranth let the warg sprint to the gate, enjoying the burst of speed and wind rushing through her hair.
Two gatesmen dove to the sides as Ripper and Amaranth barreled through the gate, and one of the older and braver of the two turned to yell at Amaranth’s retreating back. “Watch it ya little shite! I’ll tell yer mother!”
Amaranth just cackled aloud in response, her brash laughter sounding just like her father’s to the old gatesman’s ears. She pulled back on Ripper’s reins though, slowing the warg’s approach to the second gate that led into the city proper.
Daoulaive was built in the shape of a wheel, with the Grand Arcanist’s Tower at its hub, a black spire built out of rare pine-wood. Amaranth’s gaze always went to the tower when she returned home, the spire never stopped being mysterious and impressive. The wood was blackened because each timber had been soaked in boar’s blood, to keep the edifice from burning down. Amaranth had only learned this recently. She’d just assumed that was the normal color of pine-wood, so rare was the material in town. Her people- the Snow Elves- only ever built in stone, as trees were hard to find in the snowy expanses of the far north.
She passed little A-frame houses built of stone and shale on her way to the stables of the main Du’Thuranis keep. Ripper had his very own stable, away from those of the other mounts– Snow Elves usually rode on caribou, and the warg’s presence tended to spook them. Once she reached Ripper’s stable she dismounted from Ripper’s back, gave the warg a kiss on his fuzzy nose, and then left the stablehand to contend with removing the saddle and brushing down the beast’s wiry fur. Ripper tolerated it with the grace of an annoyed prince, but only because he knew the stablehand would also bring him steaks.
Amaranth strode confidently down the walkway to her home, a bounce in her step as she approached the cottage. Rather than living in the main keep, she had her own little space to maintain. It was something of a rite of passage for young adult Snow Elves, they learned to live on their own once they were no longer children. Having just turned twenty-two, Amaranth had lived in her cottage for four years now and was well versed in the upkeep of her living space.
Opening the front door with a key, Amaranth slipped inside and shucked out of her tabard, chain-mail and gambeson. Her undergarments were soaked in sweat. Despite living in the frozen North, the Snow Elves were unusually warm-blooded creatures and maintaining a cool body temperature was difficult. To her, the snowy wasteland had felt like a balmy summer morning. The weight of the chainmail free of her body caused her to sigh in contentment, and she stretched her limbs and rolled the muscles in her neck.
After likewise divesting herself of her riding boots, Amaranth padded around her cottage barefoot and in her underthings. It was her house and she could do as she pleased, and that included starting a quick stew to simmer over her cooking fire while she took a cool bath. She minced red lichens, winter fungi, frost turnips and plenty of salted venison, dumping the lot in a cauldron of filtered snowmelt before deeming the job done and heading to the bath. By the time she was done soaking in the tub, it was only a little bit burnt to the bottom.
Amaranth skimmed the good bits of stew off of the top of the pot, ladeling it into two vessels that she wrapped in sheepskin for transport. Then she dressed in leggings, slippers and a simple blue tunic that was cinched in around her waist with a fur-lined belt. To this ensemble she added a hooded cloak, pulling the hood up over her ears and hair. She wanted to escape notice where she was going, packing the two dinners and a bottle of wine into her satchel before making her way out of the cottage and into the city.