Moritus sits atop a cliffside, pondering his life. There was a day not long ago when falling forward was the only option. Why did he have to be born a Dihkai? Had he been born of any other season, he wouldn’t be where he is now. But he was birthed in Autumn, where rot and decay capitalize. Now, he’s only capable of death, when creation is more inspiring to him. Moritus was born into the wrong race.

But Aralily has given rise to his downs. He sets out to climb higher to justify her kind ways. That’s how he ended up here, overlooking the realm and the Crimson Capital, the colony he was born and raised into. He’s saying his goodbyes before he ventures to what is only a name in his mind. An idea. A place, somewhere out there, called Hedgestone. It is there, where he’ll make a new name for himself. Moritus, the Fierce Decayer.

“Hey! I know you.”

The voice startles Moritus. An older kid, maybe four or five seasons his elder—almost a man, walks up to his side. Moritus’s hood is drawn. How the young man knew who he was is suspect. But then Moritus realizes his hairy knuckles, placed firmly against the granite he sits on, have given him away. He tucks them into his lap. It’s not a light hair, or a normal hair for that matter. The hair of his knuckles is the result of a prank not long ago. And it’s not limited to his knuckles. The thick, black hair—the hair of an ape—would be visible from any distance and make a man look twice. In this moment, Moritus wonders if he’ll ever escape his woes. He could lean forward now and let them all fall away. Or he could hold Aralily’s kindness in his heart and fly.

“You’re Mori the Gory,” he adds. “I’ve heard the stories.”

Moritus gives him a sidelong glance from beneath his dark, hooded cloak but says nothing in return.

“Can I see it? Why they call you gory. I heard you’re half ape, half man, and you slathered yourself in rot to shed it away.”

It’s not far from the truth. Moritus was the target of a prank. A peer, Alistair—or the screaming goat as Moritus will forever remember him thanks to Aralily—used his Sprhowt talents to send Moritus’s hair into rapid growth. Without access to the growth sciences, Moritus tried to reverse the effect with his Dihkai rot, but he wasn’t quite adept enough to pull it off. Thus, he was given the name Mori the Gory. But no fret, for that is what he has chosen to leave behind.

Moritus offers a subtle shake of his head. Not likely visible beneath his hood. The young man goes on with his day.

He steps off the ledge.

Moritus lunges forward. Not to grab him. That would be absurd. He lunges forward to see what lunatic in such high spirits would step off a cliff. The young man’s scream isn’t of fear, but exhilaration. He twists in the air to see Moritus staring down upon him and the young man smiles. Soon after, a giant bird swoops in to catch him. A loud screech from the eagle echoes through the valley below.

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