'A disquiet settled into the very fabric of the cotton cloak, frayed and riddled with patches. It remained still and unmoved, melting into the hues of the twilight that stretched its long fingers across the wild. An invasion had already begun. From the north a chill wind was biting, and carried with it strange rumours on the air. From the south, great storm clouds, long brooding and stewing, shattered the skies with their rumbling voice. And from the east, as if borne from the very bellies of ancient dragons, a misty breath slithered from the shoulders of the mountains, smothering the blanket of fir trees.
The cloak stirred, and beneath it the shoulders of the grim man slouched. An unease weighed upon him, and even the tapestry of stars faltered and gave way to the enslaught of cloud. The oppressing silence was broken only by the melodic disturbance of water; and in the dim light, the man's weathered hands gripped his wooden paddle, with all the firmness of a sword. The unnatural mist gave way, like a knife through butter, as the prow of his small boat explored the wide river. Randir looked up and frowned in wariness, for his keen sight failed him against the will of the dragon's breath. Even his brooch was diminished, and stowed from sight, so that he may pass unnoticed as a pilgrim of shadow. All sense of time and distance vanished in the boatman's mind as he wound his way up the black water.
Suddenly, a terrible yet beautiful song rended the air from the east. A mourning howl, long and clear, unbested by the smog in its clarity. A lone wolf, not of evil, but of all things wild and free. Randir allowed but the ghost of a grave smile to appear upon his pale face. He submerged the paddle into the black water, and steered with caution, until a new sight befell his sea-grey eyes. A darkened hue in the mist lingered ahead, taking renewed form with each stroke in the water; and then it seemed to Randir's eyes a round island appeared in its place, looming into view. Another paddle stroke followed, with restrained haste. A strange and acrid scent caught his crooked nose, and he deepened his frown.
Then a new sound broke the silence, for his movement was too deep, too firm, and his paddle struck the rocky puzzle beneath the water with a raucous scrape. He had meandered into shallow waters, and known it not for the gloom. And then horror seized him, for the island that was now close had seemingly moved; and in that moment Randir's eyes widened, and he understood this to be no mere obstacle of the wild, but a being, towering in height, wide in girth, now roused by the unruly scrape of stone and wood. He knew of the troll rumours in the Ettendales.
With moments to spare, the wanderer grabbed his bow, and flung himself from the boat with a great leap, plunging into the icey cold waters. Numbness claimed him and already his outstretched hands had found the shallow bed, though he could not see it. His bow was released, and lost nearby into the gloom. The waters groaned and echoed the displeasure of the nearby troll, and the watery bed shook with the strides of its approach. Randir swam forth with all haste and heightened fear, releasing his cloak to the burden of the current. Yet the drumming footfalls, muffled in the waters, grew closer and louder; each a toll of his impending doom. Then something large, greater than he, plummeted too close into the river with a deafening crunch. It was his boat, overturned by great strength, its nose shattered against the submerged rocks. Like a salmon caught by a foraging bear, the Ranger heard the subdued roar from above, and a looming shadow smothered him.