You know, if I could write as good as I procrastinate, then I would already be done. Like, this is how it goes for me, I start writing, I write a sentence, I get up to use the restroom or do something else, I end writing for the day. That's it for me.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but the plot.

As the Ashen One sat with his arms crossed and his head tilted towards the ground, the burly man, who was right next to him and the driver of the carriage, complained about the war with the Empire.

It had been countless days since the Ashen One departed from the old woman's home, and since then, he had encountered many animals that provided a decent amount of souls.

None of them were worth mentioning about, but the number of souls he had acquired while marching through the forest and climbing mountains were quite high.

"I'm telling you this war is nothing but a waste of time and resources. Like, I understand it would be nice if the Empire was gone, but there''s no way we're going to win this fight. The Empire has been around for a long time and dealt with a lot of rebellions, especially recently, which would make you think the Empire was in a weakened state, but you'd be mistaken."

The Ashen One didn't say anything in response to this man's complaints, but his curiosity did spike. He didn't know much about this Empire he was talking about, or the area they were in, but his current traveling companion was very forthcoming with information, even though he didn't ask for any of this information.

"... Why exactly is the Northern Province fighting the Empire?" The Ashen One asked after some time.

"Pfft, beats me." The man answered almost immediately. "It just sort of happened if I'm being honest. One day everything's calm and peaceful, and then the next day, all I'm hearing all about from friends and family is how we're going to war with the Empire."

"Really?" The Ashen One questioned with a tinge of surprise.

"Really." The man affirmed.

Interesting, was the thought that entered the Ashen One's mind after hearing that. He wasn't that surprised by that chain of events, for it sounded like the man next to him came from a somewhat isolated place, which made it's suddenness be understandable.

"Anyways, where exactly are you from? Your armor makes me think you're somewhat of a noble, but I've never seen a noble go anywhere without at least a horse for transport." The man inquired after a couple seconds of silence.

"I'm not a noble, and where I hail from is a place called Astora." The Ashen One answered with almost zero hesitation.

"Astora? I'm afraid I've never heard of a place named that, what's it like?" The driver declared in a serious tone.

"... A refine place." The Ashen One revealed with a bit of reluctance. He had no idea how long it had been since he had seen the lands of Astora, but from what he recalled, it was a rich and refined place.

"A refined place, huh? Alright, next question, how the hell are you not freezing cold? I'm wearing one of the thickest coats I have and I'm still super cold, but when I look at you, you don't even seem to be fazed by the weather!" The man declared.

"... I just have a high tolerance when it comes to a lot of things, and coldness is one of them." The Ashen One answered with a bit of reluctance. He was beginning to wonder if the people of this age had a weak resistance in general, for this was the second time he was asked this.

"I find that hard to believe, but seeing how you don't seem to be shaking or anything like that, I guess that's true." The man declared after a few seconds of looking at him before returning his gaze to the road ahead of them.

The Ashen One didn't say anything at first, but after about ten to twenty seconds, he asked the driver with a trace of curiosity in his voice. "How long until we reach the Capital?"

"Mmmm," The man practically hummed as he thought about it. "We're not that far from it, but we still got some way to go, so I'd say about mid-evening is when we will reach it. Why?"

"Just curious." Was all the Ashen One answered with as he moved his right arm slightly so that he could see the amulet that he had tied to his wrist. He didn't say anything about this, but the gem at the center of it was glowing, and if someone was to look closely enough, then they would notice the small arrowhead inside the gem that was pointing towards the way they were going.

After about six hours of resting, and answering a few questions the guardsmen at the gate had for him, the Ashen One finally reached the capital city of the Northern Province, Airekor.

He had dismounted from the carriage he had been riding on, and as he was doing this, the driver said to him in a chipper tone as he offered his left hand to him. "Good luck with whatever business you have here, sir. It was nice chatting with you, and I hope that one day we could meet again!"

"Likewise." The Ashen One stated as he stopped dismounting and shook the man's hand. He doubted they would actually meet again, but he had learned a good amount of information from him, so he could agree it was nice chatting with him.

Once done with that, the Ashen One finished dismounting, and upon his feet touching the ground, he looked at the amulet tied to his wrist.

This thing really makes things a lot more easier for me, he thought after staring at the necklace for several seconds. He had already prepared himself to ask a lot of people if they had seen the Fire Keeper after the encounter with the old woman in the woods, but with this, there was no point in doing that.

Of course, there was the small chance the old woman lied to him about the amulet, but why would she have done that? Not to mention, what would she gain in doing that?

With that thought in mind, the Ashen One began to walk in the direction the arrowhead inside the amulet was pointing to.

He didn't interact with anyone he had passed by throughout his walk, and had expected to find her soon, but after walking through the city's streets for who knows exactly how long, the Ashen One found himself staring at the city's stone wall, which caused his lips to curve downwards into a frown.

He was upset, he had expected to run into the Fire Keeper soon, but if he was to believe the amulet, then it was telling him that she wasn't here and that he must leave the city.

If she isn't here, then I have no reason to stay here, but what if it isn't working properly?

He didn't want to doubt the old woman and her gift, especially after singing it some praises, but if he was to think about it logically, then the Fire Keeper should be somewhere in this city. She wasn't a warrior like him, and with Danger Beasts being scattered throughout the land it would be hard for her to survive on her own since she had no combat expertise.

I need to find the Fire Keeper, but is it wise to just leave this place without looking around?

The Ashen One had no problem walking to his next destination, but with these doubtful thoughts filling his mind, he didn't know if it was the wisest thing to do at the moment. He wanted to believe that the amulet was right, and that he had no reason to ask around here, but he also didn't want to miss her due to him not taking the time to ask if anyone had seen her.

"Ugh," He groaned out of frustration before putting his hand on top of his helmet.

He was unsure what to do, and because he was so focused on this, he didn't seem to notice the group of men approaching him from behind. He had walked down a somewhat dark alleyway in order to reach where he was now so there was practically no one around.

"Hey!" One of the men practically shouted causing the Ashen One to turn around and see six slightly armored and armed men blocking his path back to the city's street.

He had no idea who had said this and was half tempted to look around in order to see if they were speaking to someone else and not him, when he had realized he was the only one in here besides them.

"Yes?" He asked in response.

"You don't look like you're from around here, you a Southerner?" The now assumed to be leader of the group demanded in a serious filled tone as he pointed his club at him.

"No?" The Ashen One answered in a slightly uncertain manner. He didn't know what a Southerner was, but if he had to assume what it was, then it was someone who lived in a place South from here.

"Really? Then where are you from?" The man asked as he rested his club on his shoulder, and his men started to spread out and surround the Ashen One.

"I'm from Astora," the Ashen One firmly stated as he continued to stand there. He wasn't fazed by their movements, and was mentally preparing himself to retaliate should they start attacking him.

"Hmph, sounds Southerner to me." The man declared with a shrug of his shoulders as his lips curved upwards into a small smile.

"... Does it really?" The Ashen One questioned after seeing a few of the men around them twirl their weapons and twist their bodies to loosen their muscles.

"It does, but you know what?" The man asked with a hint of eagerness seeping into his voice that didn't go unnoticed by the Ashen One.

"... What?" He questioned after a while.

"You look like a rich guy, so I'll give you a choice. You can either give us some of your money, and by that I mean pretty much all of it, or you can refuse and then die. The choice is yours." The leader of the group declared, which caused the Ashen One to frown.

"I don't have any money." He proclaimed, which was actually true, but the man merely sighed in response to this information.

"Looks like it's going to be the hard option, men kill him." He declared.

To Be Continued.

Well, I could have wrote a bit more, aka I could have wrote a fight scene, but I didn't feel like it, so I ended here. Laziness is a virtue. Anyways, I have officially decided where the Fire Keeper will be, and it is not here. I did have an idea or two where she is here, but she gets taken, but then I felt that was too soon, so I went with another idea. Now, with that said, I go for the journey awaits!