Cold moisture hung in the air in a ghostly veil, more mist than rain. It clung to every surface it touched, seeping chilly fingers through cloth, metal, skin, and bone. The forests surrounding Wolfwater were a contrast of color and scent. Dark cypress danced with silvery starwood, pale green new leaves and crimson flowers, warm forest spices, and cold, sharp ozone. The roads were not warm nor inviting, but a quiet watchfulness settled in between the trees. Small settlements of simple cottages peeked out from clearings every few leagues. These buildings were made of starwood, white as bone, and dark river stones. Sharp-eyed huntsmen, woodcutters, and farmers watched every passer on the road with suspicion but kept to themselves. Wolfwater itself stalked from the forest like a sudden predator, a large town perched on the shores of an unfathomably large lake. The forest clung so near to the edges of the city, however, that it was hidden entirely only a few steps from its borders. So when the black roofs, white walls, and reaching docks were all at once spread out below the hill road, travelers often stopped for a moment and gasped. Even in the overcast gloom, the walls of the tall gabled buildings glimmered like starlight. Many of the larger buildings bore carvings in contrasting black cypress of sea creatures, ships, and local heroes. Above each door, a long, curling spike of bone rose to the steely clouds. The central square before the extensive docks was focused around a statue of wild-haired Tarsaralaei, framed by two breaching whales, each equipped with that curling, lance-like horn. People mostly ignored the travelers, looking at them only briefly before stoically going about their own business. Some looked more intently, some stared overlong. The mood of the townspeople was one of grim resolution. They seemed to be preparing for battle, judging by the line of forges in constant motion, manufacturing blades, tools, and armor. Laborers trudged between lumber mills, storehouses, and businesses with materials. The main street of Wolfwater was an efficient hive of bees, and the buzz of their agitation was apparent. Between the street of industry and the street of trade stood The Net. It was a sprawling, four-story building of shimmering starwood, looking for all the world like a stack of ornamented ship hulls, complete with crystal glass observation windows and oil lanterns. This was all crowned with a mast and sail which bore the name of the inn, bordered with a rig of dragnets. The balconies supported a fair number of travelers taking their lunch or chatting about trade. Their laughter and boisterous voices were a sharp contrast to the locals, several even waved merrily to the approaching party as they passed inside.