I went outside the city. I had business, things to find, to trade. I sought the Crossing. It is never far, aways about a day away from wherever I am. I went on foot, alone, to the south. During the day I passed a caravan traveling with many chained, ragged humanity. A rough looking dwarf led them and they were guarded by several hobgoblins. I saw beggars, mercenaries, farmers, nobles born on palanquins, and others I did not know. In the distance I saw a wagon carrying one of my folk, the Vistani, but I did not approach them.
Eventually night fell. I was still not at the Crossing and so I continued, venturing off the main road and onto a side track going in the hills.
Fog rose from the ground, suffused with the light of the full moon. I could see the Inn of Blackwood Crossing in the distance. it was surrounded by hills, with a lone tree on the hill. Seated beneath the tree was the figure I knew would be there, Lord Nail. He was gaunt, seated in the lotus position of the ascetics, a good many of whom are in Punjar itself. All over his skin, on all the meridians of power, were nails. I waited for him, waited a long time. The moon rose fully before he spoke, like a great white skull grinning down from the heavens.
“My disciple, you have come.”
“Yes, Lord Nail.” I looked at him.
“I see you pursue the path of your father, the Damned Prince Feket.”
I nodded, for it was true. The Deck calls to me.
“There is a great Undoing in the Deck. It is not a thing of mine, or my path, but you are of his line and his task has been left undone. He has been imprisoned.”
He stared into my eyes for long. I was transfixed by his gaze. Finally he withdrew a nail from his flesh. Moving with a blinding speed, faster than I could track, he pinned my shadow to the ground with it. Then, drawing a curved dagger forth, cut it free.
“Your shadow stands apart. It may be left after the Deck consumes you, my disciple.” He looked at me again. “That is worth something.”