As Crix and Kra'kdir rounded the corner from one side of the hill to the other he saw Aren and stopped, he quickly pulled Kra'kdir out of sight behind the rock and watched Aren while keeping himself hidden. Aren had found within the baggage one of the three swords Crix had brought with him, the blade was just a standard longsword, cold steel, wood and leather and absolutely no embellishments.

Aren stood a few metres in front of the cart holding the sword in a stance unlike any Crix had ever seen, he stood side on, his face facing forwards and torso rotated halfway, he was half crouched such that most of his body weight rested on his back leg, the left one, in his left hand was held the sword, he held it loosely, with only the thumb and his first finger seeming to actually hold it, the others just there to rest upon. The sword was held behind him and above his head with the point facing directly forward. His right forearm was held horizontally in front of him, at ninety degrees to where he was facing.

Aren took in a deep breath and launched into a sequence of strikes, some of them were stabs, some were large cleaving slices, but most of the attacks were whiplike slashes that connected together using the finger and thumb that held the sword loosely as a pivot point. He utilised his right arm too in shoulder bashes, punches and blocks with the forearm. The whole thing flowed and fit together so it almost appeared he was dancing.

Crix was honestly surprised, Aren must have spent years training to become this good but as far as Crix knew Aren had had absolutely no contact with a sword until now.

Crix slowly walked out from behind the rock, clapping, Aren turned his head and turned bright red with embarrassment.

"Aren, that is some serious talent there, when and how did you manage to train?"

"Me and the twins have been play-fighting with farm tools for years, this is light in comparison." He waved the sword. "You told me to find something to do so i found something.

Aren then caught sight of Kra'kdir and stopped, the sword being half prepared in readiness.

"Don't worry Aren, he's with us."

"He's a Tarrarusian soldier."

"Not any more he isn't."

Crix slowly dropped the illusion on his body and returned to his normal self, Kra'kdir was obviously shocked and took a step back. Crix changed back into his Wyvernskin tunic.

"I'm sorry Kra'kdir, you will have to stay in mail, i don't have any more of these tunics, just change out of the surcoat, i think i have a spare unsigiled red one on the cart somewhere."

Kra'kdir went over to the cart and began rummaging through the bags, while he did this Aren approached Crix.

"Why are they blocking the pass?"

"A spellcaster attacked some of the Imperator's men in the wastes, i think it was probably Duren, the cart materialised in Noren's room right? So Duren probably sent it there with his abilities as a sorcerer."

Aren looked surprised that Duren was a sorcerer. Crix looked at Aren.

"I've known Duren was a sorcerer for years, i knew him before the fall of Mallra, and i know Mallra fell a long time ago, Sorcerers have a long lifespan. Anyway, the Jarel pass to the north is blocked too, i was trying to avoid this but it is the only way now, we have to attempt the old Foldas Way."

"The Foldas Way?"

"It's an old path that goes across the mountains instead of through a valley, i last passed it thirty years ago and it was crumbling dangerously even then, i have no idea how far it will have degraded but it's our only way out. Unfortunately it is quite close to the Jarel pass and we have to go a long way north to get to it, it goes from north Keln to the southern tip of Morn, practically on the border with Uolok. Since we cannot pass through Krell Nolox and Tarraruz we will have to go the long way round via Skaren."

Krell Nolox was the base of a large number of military divisions and Tarraruz was the chief province of Tarraruz the country and it's original borders. Even Aren could understand why Crix was skirting them.

Kra'kdir had found the surcoat within the cart's bags and quickly changed into it, he sighed inwardly, compared to the scalemail and leather that the Rider Clans generally favoured this crude ringmail was unwieldy and cumbersome, but it would serve for the moment. With his tarrah attached to his belt he walked over to Crix and Aren, the tarrah was a weapon almost unique to the Rider Clans, only very few people knew what they blended into the metal, the blades were strong and could block edge to edge without getting chipped, not a very common trait, however they were designed to wield from horseback and thus were quite a bit longer than usual and curved. They were difficult to wield on foot although Kra'kdir, among a couple of the more accomplished or hardworking clansmen, had learned how to use it.

"Excuse me but can i ask what your plans are? Where exactly are you going?"

Aren was also wondering this as well as he still knew no more than that they were leaving Mallra.

"Yes Crix, where exactly are we going?"

Crix was a bit reluctant to tell them, since anything might happen, but he decided he owed it to at least Aren to tell them.

"Well, from here we will travel to the Foldas way, which will take us to Morn, we will quickly travel to Uolok and buy horses at the first village we find. We will then travel to Crialo, the capital of Uolok, we need to pass into Droizar but travel between the two provinces is only permitted for trade caravans, we will hopefully find one we can tack onto in Crialo, with any luck the caravan will take us to Moilon, the capital of Droizar, from there we will seek passage on a Skaren ship to Granu'kir, the capital of Frazutr. To get from Moilon to Granu'kir the ship will likely stop in Skaren, Tarraruz and Al'nakir to restock on food and other resources. We can drop off Kra'kdir in Al'nakir if he wants, or he can come with us.

From there we will travel into Groldor and i will enrol Aren in Dekaniph, Groldor's national spellcaster training institute."

Aren and Kra'kdir were dubious, the plan was long and convoluted, it would need a lot of luck and skill to actually navigate their path. However, Aren at least, trusted Crix and knew that they had a chance.

The journey up to the Foldas way passed in much the same way as the journey to the Zurn pass, however they saw a few squads of soldiers patrolling through the scrubland and stuck to the foothills of the Creor mountains. They met few Gara as the beasts kept out of the mountains for lack of food, Mirana the ox managed to find enough to keep going, the foothills had a number of mountain goats, for the foothills, to them, were a bounteous place full of food when compared to the bare slopes of the mountains proper. However the foothills had thus developed a rather large population of Hanba, large carnivorous lizards that were rare elsewhere, here they grew up to eight feet in length and had both superb smell and eyesight, although their hearing was pretty bad.

The trio encountered these reptiles quite often, however Crix and Kra'kdir kept them at bay, during one encounter Kra'kdir received a bite to his hand from a small one and it began to fester. From a very young age Hanba use some form of poison in their bites, a Hanba bite always gets infected. Kra'kdir therefore had to have a poultice of various plants bound to his hand although the journey resumed barely stalling.

Crix began to train Aren in the way of the sword alongside his training in Queranna. One of the first new things he was told about was the aforementioned Daegral Signature;

"All Spellcasters bear the Daegral in some way and depending on which of the seven branches, mage, sorcerer, etc, you utilise the Daegral will manifest on a different part of the body, for example, as you know, a Sorcerer receives his on his back. Not all Daegral in a branch are the same however, many variables can be different: colours, size, curvature, etc, there are no two identical Daegral, excluding twins, but that's a special case. All Spellcasters unconsciously broadcast the particular energy signature of their Daegral to the world around them and other Spellcasters can locate them by their signature, eventually with training a Spellcaster can recognise the signature of a particular spellcaster and thereby know who they are and when they are near. Unfortunately any of your enemies who are spellcasters can also locate you, a trained spellcaster can suppress the release of his signature and hide his presence, thereby shielding his nature from other casters."

Aren's sword style, though ingenious and strong, had a problem in that it was reasonably predictable due to most of the attacks flowing from the previous one in only one or two set paths and could thus be blocked or dodged easily, therefore Crix began to teach him how to interspace occasional sharp turns and other irregular actions to throw off opponents.

He also began to teach him the difficult task of ambidextrous swordplay, the act of quickly passing or throwing the blade to the other hand and resuming the fight with this new hand, it was an effective technique for unpredictable assaults and throwing the enemy off track, but required sharp reflexes, impeccable control and strong willpower, not to mention the skill and power needed to wield the blade with the non-dominant hand.

Eventually after travelling through the foothills of the Creors for around seven weeks the three began to get irritable, they had long exhausted the water and food and had resorted to crushing what moisture they could out of the scrub and occasional subterranean tuber they could and eating the lizards and one or two mountain goats. They even resorted to eating the durgrim, renowned for their almost unpalatable taste.

When they finally got to the beginning of the Foldas way all three were overjoyed that they were finally there.

Unfortunately the path had crumbled considerably and was only about a metre wide, too thin for the cart, thus they unhitched Mirana, strapped food and water, among other necessary supplies, to her and began to slowly lead her over the treacherous road.

Their nights were spent in shallow sleep in slight hollows and overhangs in the mountainside, Crix took this opportunity to teach Aren the importance of being able to fight on uneven or narrow and constricting footing, with them swordfighting using some heavy and tough sticks carved from a limb of the Halaga tree (small, stunted, twisted things that could survive almost anywhere) that had been growing near the start of the path, Aren was oftentimes knocked off, or just tripped or slid off the path, with Crix having to rescue him with some quick chanting of Queranna.

Kra'kdir also occasionally joined in, but spent a lot of time either on his own, caring for his mail or tending to Mirana, he got along better with animals than he got on with most people.

In this manner the journey along the Foldas way progressed smoothly, until the fourth night.