The year is 1276 in the Ivric Imperial Calendar, though that has largely fallen out of favor due to the more accurate Venoan Calendar, in which it is the year 312. Picture credit to LMorse of Deviantart The Pale Citidel, once a proud and lovely complex, is now just a ruin. The Great Hall is largely roofless, but still contains handful of stone benches and rotting wooden tables. Behind it, the brick kitchens are largely intact save for the thatch roof. The quarters for servants and men-at arms lay in rubble; the stables and granaries are both beyond repair. The smithy will take some months to repair the broken chimneys and forges, though it is salvageable. The Spire's upper reaches are inaccessible for the staircases have long since rotted away, but remains otherwise habitable. The Library suffers from extensive fire damage, but the roof is tiled and mostly intact and the structure seems not entirely unsound. Grown over, the training fields and tourney grounds are largely unrecognizable. The sound of her axe splitting dry logs echoed off the stone walls, a lonely sound in the abandoned complex. For decades it had lain abandoned, forgotten, without even the humble sound of axes and a cookfire. Though spring had surely sprung, with flower and chirping birds and unexpected rainfalls aplenty, Ymber knew that a warm fire at night was not optional. In any case, she would want a hot lunch, and there were more than enough fallen trees around to give the Paladins wood for a month. From the moment she had stepped through the spot where the gates once would have been, she had felt at home. The sword still hummed quietly to her when she got close, content to be home and excited to be wielded again. It was not sentient, persay, but it seemed somehow alive. Her very blood sang to it. And to this place. She could practically smell the yellowed pages in the library, nearly taste the rough brown bread from the great brick ovens, almost hear the sound of wooden swords striking straw-filled dummies in the practice yards. Everywhere she turned, the strangest sense of deja-vu. And at every sound she glanced over her shoulder, feeling sure that someone would appear to tell her that she didn't belong, that she wasn't meant to be there and would be expected to leave. She had never been welcomed to anyplace before, really. Never fit in or felt at ease. Maybe, finally, something was going to change in her life. Even with the hard work of chopping wood, even without the comfort of a real roof over her head, even eating camp food, the life of a Paladin seemed terribly exciting and a huge improvement over everything before. What would her father think if he saw her now?