Arbet checked and rechecked his packs. He could think of nothing else to do. The lanky man, just out of boyhood sat in his rooms inside their great Kaer. His dark brown hair was freshly cut for his journey, cropped as close to the scalp as could be managed without being completely bald. Brown eyes that matched his hair combed over his bedroll once more, as his large calloused hands rolled it up for the third time. There was just nothing else to be done, though Arbet still had hours before they left. He stood and stretched. Though his teachers tried to beat the muscle into him, Arbet remained a wiry man. Standing near 6’ 2” he couldn’t have weighed more than 150 pounds. Though a striking contrast to many his age with their broad shoulders and thick backs, Arbet could still carry his weight in grain easily.
He had been born during an exceptionally violent round of raking noises outside the Kaer. He grew up accustomed to the sounds, having known nothing else. While older generations occasionally glanced anxiously around them when the scratching noises were unusually loud or drawn out for some time, Arbet paid them no heed – after all, they were there every day and nothing had ever happened. He had learned to pay the strange grating noises no mind, and soon he really didn’t notice them at all anymore. However, one day the noises had just stopped. Time seemed suspended for a moment. No sound came from outside the Kaer door, and everyone inside had frozen. All eyes looked to the door, some anxious, some hopeful, others just curious. But then the silent suspension had snapped. Horrifying sounds were heard, closer and less muffled than the scratching noises. Arbet could not put a name to what was heard beyond the door that now seemed a pitiful defense indeed. They were noises from Hell, demonic sounds no being could hear without bordering on insanity themselves. Most ran for their homes, nearby shelters of the warehouses, or simply cowered where they stood. Others simply turned their faces down in grim resilience and walked away with quick strides. One poor elderly man who happened to be quite close to the door simply fell where he stood, his frail heart giving out. Arbet merely took a step forward. A dangerous curiosity stole over him. He knew the tales of Horrors outside the Kaer, but this proved beyond a doubt they were out there. But what else was out there? With the tales of Horrors came tales of other things as well. What was it like outside the suffocating confines of this place?
And so, when Arbet learned that volunteers were being sought to leave the Kaer and see the world outside, he ran as fast as his legs could carry him and demanded he be allowed to go. He soon found he hadn’t needed to be so anxious or forceful with his demands. Few were crazy enough to volunteer anyhow. He was added to the small party without a second thought. Since then, Arbet had been preparing as best as he could. He was glad they were to leave today. He’d been enduring looks for the last week that clearly told him no one expected him to return. He felt like he was present at his own funeral. His parents had been furious, finding their only son had volunteered to leave the Kaer. But – he was 19 and had been of age for these last three years. He was allowed to make those choices himself. He just wished they would be a little supportive, instead of moping around in grief as if he was already gone.
Arbet worked out all the kinks as he stretched, then with nothing else to do, snatched his pack and headed out. He was scheduled to meet the rest of his party in two hours – four hours before they were due to leave – to gather last minute supplies and instructions. Perhaps he would walk around the streets for a while, though he’d probably still be a little early. The wait was worse than anything that could possibly be outside the Kaer. No, that wasn’t true at all, but Arbet was very anxious to be gone.