Note: This is a fanfiction. The characters I used in this story are owned by Stephen R. Donaldson

Covenant looked up to the dull, grey sky. Its boundaries reached across the valley, and as if it were trying to suck the life out of the world – it cast a gloomy shadow upon the ground. This ill atmosphere continued for at least several minutes longer, until suddenly, a warm glow caressed the world as the sun began to poke its way through.

'Ur-Lord, Thomas Covenant,' said a voice which projected itself directly behind him. Covenant instinctively spun around to meet the intruder, however, began to relax upon realisation of who it was.

'Mhoram? What are you doing up so early?'

'I'd ask you the same thing,' he chuckled, 'you've been standing on this balcony, looking out towards that valley for almost an hour now.'

The man named Mhoram was old, he clutched an ornate staff to prop himself up, it featured several inscriptions which were carved deeply into the wood, though Covenant could not make out the language. Mhoram's other hand grasped onto the steel railing; he wore several rings which were stuck firmly on his wrinkled, bony fingers. His hair was another indication of his aged body, the hairline had begun to recede, and it was tinted with a deep grey. Despite this, however, he still carried a certain air of vitality and vigour. Growing old seemed to have little effect on his health.

'I've been thinking,' Covenant said absently, 'about Kaeresh. Is it really possible that the Staff of Law is there?'

'Oh, you're finally taking an interest?'

??'Don't get me wrong,' he replied bitterly, 'if we find it, I might have a chance of returning home. That's all.'

??'Well, it's certainly a good place to start. Kaeresh has had a strong connection to the staff for several hundred years. Berek Halfhand, whom I'm sure you've heard of countless times – fashioned the staff from a branch of the One Tree. It is said that shortly after, he took refuge in the tower of Kaeresh, and lived there for several years. It was around that time that he suddenly went missing. Even if we do not find the staff, it's very possible that there may at least be a clue of some sort.
??'Covenant, I should warn you, that area has been infested with ur-viles since the beginning of the era of the new Lords. Even with the help of Prothall and the Bloodguards, it'll be difficult.'

??'Right now, I'm willing to take the chance,' Covenant insisted defiantly.

Mhoram smiled kindly, said his farewells, and began to exit the room. Just before leaving he said, 'Covenant, the council is holding a meeting tonight. Don't be late.'

Covenant retreated inside, and sat down at a table positioned in the middle of the room. In the centre of the table stood a bowl filled with aliantha. He picked up one of the berries, and began to chew on it. His mouth was instantly overcome by a smooth, tingling sensation. He felt light-headed for a moment, then a feeling of warmth came over him. He ate several more, until he became sick of them.

Not entirely sure of what to do while he waited, Covenant slipped on a pair of clean linen clothes, and made for the door. Before exiting, however, he began to check himself thoroughly. He was a leper, and thus was unable to feel the slightest pain, meaning that even the smallest injury could prove fatal. At least that was true until he came to this land. Still however, he performed his checks habitually, as if desperately trying to cling onto his past life. When he was done, Covenant finally entered the corridor outside. It was well-lit, countless windows ran along the walls which illuminated the entire passageway. He pressed onward, and traversed the maze-like path. Eventually he made his way to a large wooden door, which opened up to the outside world.

Time passed, Covenant visited several markets which littered the streets, but nothing came to his attention. With nothing better to do, he located a local inn, deciding to spend the rest of his day there. The inside of the building was comfortably spacious, unlike many cramped inns he had visited before. There stood an arrangement of tables, and somewhere at the back of the room there appared to be what looked like a makeshift stage which took up a considerable amount of space. Covenant called a nearby waiter, who produced a jug of springwine and set it down next to him. The drink was cool and refreshing, its sweetness accompanied the taste of the aliantha berries he had eaten earlier, once again his mouth began to tingle pleasantly.

After a short while, something caught Covenant's attention, a young, fair girl made her way to the stage. She was a resplendent woman who wore an elegant, dark blue dress which highlighted her thin and delicate frame. She cleared her throat, and begun to sing.

I stood at the base of the One Tree,
past the horizons my gaze commanded
galloped the Ranyhyn with hooves of steel,
moving with unfettered grace, iron-thewed strength.

I stood at Mount Thunder,
where Fire-Lions rushed around me—
fire forged stone, river of beauty,
engraved into the flesh and bone of the Land.