Racknar Longbrook sat with his legs hanging off the cliff edge. A thousand lengths below, ocean waves crashed against the craggy rock wall of the perfectly vertical cliff face.

He saw dark blue water, with fleeting white caps pushed along by the heavy wind that howled up the cliff face and across Racknar’s face. It was a bitterly cold wind.

In one moment he was aware of that wind stealing the warmth from his cheeks. In the next, he felt his king’s presence in a thinkagram opening in his mind. It was a familiar presence, and a friendly one. They had had countless conversations over the turns, and in truth, the king was his closest friend.

His only friend.

“It’s been longer than usual, Lord.”

“Indeed it has, Racknar Longbrook, indeed it has.” The tone of the king’s voice was troubled.

Rarely had Racknar ever heard that tone, and never as forboding as this. He was suddenly chilled by more than just the ocean’s cold wind.

“Look up, Racknar, look up.”

Racknar lifted his gaze from the long drop below, slowly, from waves crashing against the rock to the vast expanse of deep blue sea, to the horizon and the growing explosion of sunset colors and the setting sun.

“What beauty…” his King sighed in wistful appreciation, as he had so many times before looking through Racknar’s eyes.

Racknar smiled in silence, sharing the moment of pure appreciation for elemental Erf that he shared with his king. He had met many other kings, yet none that held a true appreciation for the magic and beauty that lay across the Titan’s great creation.

Many long, peaceful moments later, Racknar’s forboding was confirmed.

“I fear this may be our last conversation, my friend. The enemy is at our gates, and the capital shall fall. All our other cities have, and our walls will be breached this next turn.” A heavy sigh followed that admission.

And in that sigh Racknar heard the end.

Racknar held his gaze out to the far-off horizon, the colors and the endless motion, and felt sad.

Sad for himself, and sad for his king, who had shared so many beautiful views with him.

“But this turn also marks a different occasion, aside from my end. This turn is the two thousandth turn since you first ventured out.”

Racknar nodded. He did not count the turns. He only looked for the next sunrise, the next horizon. The unique texture of the next hex. But he knew much time had passed on his journey since their celebration of the one thousandth turn. And he trusted his king’s attention to detail… and to time.

“I have travelled the world with you, my friend. Through your eyes I have seen sights I would never have dreamed of seeing. And I wager, more than any other king in history. I owe to you a debt, Longbrook, that can never be repaid. And I am grateful.”

Racknar smiled wistfully. “My lord, you owe me no debt. You have granted my greatest wish, to explore, to see new sights, to see what I have seen, to walk as I have walked. It is I who am grateful.”

There was a long and rich silence, voiceless appreciation of their past… and the spectre of the future.

“Your fall is a certainty?” Racknar asked, though he was confident of the answer.

The king seemed certain. “It is our time to pass, our fate is assured. What is left of us will defend the crown valiantly and show the Titans we are worthy. Our warriors, at least. I have lost my side and failed. Perhaps the length of my reign will win me favor.”

Racknar shook his head. “Even the sun fades at end of turn, my king. No thing lasts eternal. There is no shame in a worthy defeat.”

Racknar felt his king considering that, so he continued. “You ruled for ten thousand turns and more, lord. You defended your lands against many invaders, you conqured many sides, you brokered many treaties and pacts of peace. Nothing lasts eternal, lord. You played the game masterfully, and the Titans will surely be pleased with your score.”

That produced a laugh. “You and ‘the score’. Always with the score. Perhaps you are right, Racknar. Perhaps you are right. I will look to see where I rank among the Kings that fell before me.”

Racknar smiled wistfully.  “I wager I will score highest for hex boundaries crossed, or steps taken, or hiding from view successfully.” He felt sad his score would no longer increase. If next turn was his last, and their attacker went first… Racknar would trek no further. He suddenly felt angry. Not able to cross another hex boundary? Despite the distance he’d gone… it felt unfair to end his journey now.

“It is unfair Racknar. That is why when the sun rises tomorrow, you must, and you will, continue your journey.”