Cold was the first thing that came to mind. Eyes closed, I reached for the comforter on top of the blankets but it was already pulled over us. I was reluctant to open my eyes, in that way where once you open your eyes in the morning, the light of day begins to filter through your eyelids even after you close them again, and it is no longer dark. But the blankets could keep us no warmer and the hearth's fire had long since burned out. I sat up and pushed my hair out of my eyes, glancing at her curled up in a ball hugging one of the pillows. Lyssa had an odd stillness to her not present when awake, and so I brushed her hair from her face and put the back of my hand against her forehead. Satisfied, I got up from bed and gingerly got out, hoping the creaking of the old bed and the floors wouldn't wake her. Somehow it wasn't the kind of cold that gave you goosebumps, but the kind that genuinely made you shiver, and being out from under the sheets meant I felt it acutely. I stepped out of the dark room and made my way to a closet to dress myself in something warmer than pyjamas. Over woolen clothing I put on a heavy cloak and reindeer-skin boots, and made my way down the stairs and outside. The servants were still asleep but it was light outside, a weak grey from the thick fog surrounding the manor. In the distance the bustle of town was faint, and the trees and shrubbery around the property made it feel like you were in the wilderness rather than on the mouth of the River Halver. It was a day of rest and the town was sleeping through the early morning. The ground beneath me was soggy and squished as I passed over it, and I took solace in being dry and warm underneath my clothes. The lower boughs of the pine trees were dusted by my head, and while shaded by them the greyness was everywhere and I could only see my immediate surroundings. The trees cleared by the water's edge, the brackish water being harsh on them. I pushed a small wooden rowboat into the water and got in before I'd have to step through the water to get to it. It made a bit of a splash and I wiped some droplets off my face. I felt that some of them came uncomfortably close to getting in my eye. The boat rocked from being launched into the water but otherwise the water was very still, the air stagnant. The only motion was the mist slowly rising off of the surface. I dipped the paddles into the water, mindful of not making a splash, and began paddling along the shoreline, far enough where I could barely make it out. I watched the whirlpools created by my rowing and the occasional fish that passed by in the clear, dark waters. The only sound now was that of my paddling, and came to be a bit meditative as I continued on my way. I don't know why I needed to do it, leave in the early morning to indulge in my own nostalgia. I suppose I'm melancholic at heart; even of the novels Lyssa gives me I prefer the bittersweet endings over the happy ones because the latter are trite. She always enjoys the happy endings of fairy tales, something I find quite odd considering her life isn't far off from those. Makes me feel like I'm reading about ourselves from the eyes of a peasant. I get too self-conscious by it all. I was deep in thought about why I found myself rowing on a cold day's morning. Maybe a little bit of closure, I'm not sure. Perhaps that closure won't really come, perhaps I can't do anything about it, perhaps it was me punishing myself because I've developed a complex of some sort. But there I was. The careful rowing was soothing, hearing the cold water swirl in the whirlpools of my paddles. Something to root me in the world outside my head. I was thinking about the transience of that morning's conditions when I rounded my way past a steep ridge along the water, marking the entrance to the fjord. It was more the size of a cove, but its shape was unmistakably like the former. The dark green walls slowly surrounded me as I rowed farther in, a lone, wind-gnarled pine keeping watch of it all at the top of the ridge. I looked for some mossy rocks on the near side of the fjord and rowed over there. It was a bit of fumbling, trying to pull myself closer to the edge of the water using the end of my paddle. Once on land, I crawled up towards the rocks and pushed aside the one that had the least moss on it. I remember flipping over the rock to its bare side the last time I was there. Underneath was some moist clay I took off from the top of the small chest. Careful not to tumble back into the water, I pulled it up and rested it between the rocks and the slope of the ridge, one edge of it digging into the moist soil and moss. The lock had rusted to the point where I wasn't able to open it, and broke it with a stone in my hand. Brushing it off, I looked at it, wondering if I was ready to open it, if I even should. The last time I was there was burying the chest years ago. It was when I was sent north to Frostwood when I was in my mid-teens to be a burgrave by my father. Things weren't good between us then. I was progressing through my studies and was about to finish them early when dad sent me for military training. It wasn't the kind of thing that I was eager to do, but it was what happened to all of us Oðinsson boys sooner or later. Dad saw it as necessary and unnegotiable, a rite of manhood but also one that he got to live through vicariously through us. I kept through it out of a sense of duty, even though I felt like I lost several years of my life to it. When I had to fight and compete he was my greatest cheerleader, but also my harshest critic when I failed. He would say he was proud of me regardless of what happened, but I could tell how he really felt from the delivery of him explaining my errors in matches. He never took failure very well, and his children were in many ways extensions of himself as it appeared to him. It was after all that when I came back to Seagarde, hoping to be able to go back to my life before. I was greeted heartily the first night, but it stung a little when I was told I had to leave the next day to go to Frostwood. I had the letter patent shown to me and my belongings packed onto carriages. Feeling irritated, I went up to the attic to where he kept stuff he wanted his children to inherit, and so put into long-term storage. I was spiteful enough to take the first chest I saw and sneak it onto one of my carriages. Before I left, dad pulled me in for one of his bone-crushing hugs. I squeezed as hard as I could so that he would feel crushed by it himself, though he seemed unfazed. He said something about me growing up in a shaky voice, which left me feeling a little conflicted. I was driving a brawny giant to tears and I felt uncomfortable seeing him like that, if only because I never did before. I rode out after that and buried the chest as soon as I arrived in Frostwood. So, there I was looking at that chest with all that in the back of my mind, unsure if I was doing something wrong by opening it. He had been dead for several seasons by that point, and part of me felt that opening it meant putting the final nail in his coffin, something I wasn't ready for. I missed him even if he wasn't a great parent and felt too insignificant to fill in his shoes. Inferior to him in a lot of ways, even if he felt the opposite. But I was already there and leaving emptyhanded would have bugged me even more. I gingerly opened it, but the hinge broke and I had to discard the lid. Inside were several swords...of course there were. But they all had his swordsmith's mark on the pommel, and a name etched into each one. Each one had a different shape and pattern to the blade and hilt, and the names were of my siblings and I. Mine was curved like that one I lost when dad disturbed the water elemental, and had a pattern also etched into the fuller. They were all a polished bronze colour, though I don't know if that's the actual material or plating. I wrapped them up in a cloth I found at the bottom of the chest, and started to head downward. One of them fell out and was slightly scuffed. It said "Isaac" on it and I chuckled a little bit before heading back down to the rowboat. I wiped my eyes dry and began paddling back. After putting the swords in the study, I closed the door and turned around to find Lyssa putting the baby in my arms. "Out for a morning walk?" she asked. I glanced at the door. "Either way, someone missed daddy." She gave me a kiss before heading downstairs for breakfast, and after a moment of looking at the door, I followed her.