Journal of Eldak the Watcher 3rd Day of the Winter’s Coming 768 years after the rise of the
Painted Queen Today marks my landing in Mercado and the beginning of my time in Sturmisle. I cannot describe in words I know the excitement I feel having something to eat that is not bread, having something upon which to rest my eyes other than an endless expanse of water. I have read of this town, knowing the ﬁckle winds might well bring me here in lieu of Eritheum. As that is the case, my travel will be somewhat delayed. On the morrow, I must seek passage North along the coast. I should hope to be in the capital in three or four days time barring another storm. My arrival is later than I had planned. I reached Mercado just days after the Festival of the Masks, though ribbons still lie in the streets and some of the turns still smell of a celebration. I am disappointed, as I hoped to see it this year after all I read before my passage. Even still, seeing the buildings and the road, carved stone as in the stories, is some consolation. Until sunrise, I am at the Swift Rabbit, a comfortable inn in view of the harbor. The fare is much welcomed after so long at sea: celery and roasted potatoes. The ale is festively seasoned, no doubt left over from the passing of the Still Days. The company of people in good spirits is making my brief stay in this town a memorable one. The other patrons of the inn, a family of four, making pilgramige to the Shrine of the Eastern Light are friendly, and their daughters Erala and Aralyn sing beautifully. O, Winter’s wind that howls and bites, our hearths guard well our ﬁres, and though you lurk, a creeping fright, we’ll meet the Sun entire. Your skies though gray, and falling fast with stars afraid and few, have warmed in all my years past and burned with life anew. They appreciate some simple magical tricks and seem happily compensated for their song. Having come from Eritheum, they tell me the road North is well traveled and safe so long as I make camp with other travelers come nightfall. A common path for pilgrims and merchants, farmers and craftsmen, it is also an attractive target for thieves. I should be ﬁne so long as I mend my shoe before setting out. As the dawn will come early, I should turn in soon, especially since there is work to do before I depart. E, 3 WC, 768 Q.