Several of Han's friends smile and bow back to him, and the children wave wildly and loudly request that the group hurry back from their mission.

The snow-peaked hills envelop you as you travel along the defrosting path that wind its way northward to Cliffside Vale. Tiny streams of crystalline water seep onto the road, making the path muddy and cool, but the sun dominates the chill below with a golden radiance that coats your head and shoulders like a cloak. Life buds all about you, full of springtime glory. Stringy squirrels shake the sleep from their atrophied muscles, hop out of hiding, and begin foraging for their first taste of delicious seeds and nuts. Deer lap vigorously at the the icy streams before bounding off at the *slock, slock* sound of your arrival. Deep inside the milieu of oak and pine, you hear the agitated chirping of thrush and sparrow as they argue over matters of territory. Even the occasional band of rogue sheep cross your path, only to stop in the middle of the way as if expecting you to go around. But like a tide of fluff, they recede and break rank at your presence, bleating at your insolence incredulously.

The westering sky explodes into a kaleidoscope of colors as the sun descends to douse itself in the cool of the last remnants of frost tipping the hills. You reach a bridge that spans a deepening river above you, where a group has gathered around a campfire in the middle of the road. High above the surrounding trees, two strange four-winged birds of blue and gold plumage circle concentrically above the location of the fire.

You will lose daylight in roughly half an hour. The river roars angrily and drowns out all other sounds, but you get the impression that the individuals around the fireplace are quite inebriated and either do not notice your approach, or do not care that you're approaching. You are between 300 and 400 feet from the bridge.