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The Threading of Souls; The Breath of the Wild

From Rock and Runestone came the Mountain Kin, born into a world not meant for life. The cold's bite, the predator's claws, the bottomless snow, the unrelenting wind, the traitor's lies, all working day and night to render survival an insurmountable task.

But they were the Valkyr, and in one of them was the strength of all of them.

The traveler had reached the edge of what he could only assume was a village before collapsing into the snow. The faint orange firelights now only blurry pinpricks in his rapidly darkening vision. He had gotten so close. But close wasn't enough for The North. Here it was survival of the fittest, where anything less than perfection meant a cold, heartless death. A death ready and eager to have consumed him had it not been for the strong arms that firmly lifted him on each side as if he were weightless. A harsh but kind voice reassured him, "Come,
this is no place to die." He remembered the sound of running, the crunching of snow, and the rapidly growing firelights. There was a shouting as well, barely legible instructions spreading through the surrounding Valkyr as they dispersed into their homes to procure supplies. He felt the healing warmth of a blazing hearth, the aroma of herbs and fresh baked bread permeating through half-frozen nostrils, the sound of water sloshing in a hurriedly filled cauldron, and, for the first time, the warm touch of the stranger who saved him. Perhaps he had gotten close enough after all, enough for a few kind souls to help him the rest of the way. This was the one true weakness of The North. Here it was survival of the fittest, but even a land so heartless and unforgiving was completely powerless against the strength of community.

In that moment, when Torynn had locked eyes with the massive bear before him, it seemed as though the forest around them drew to a complete standstill. Without so much as a breath between them. His mind desperately tried to scrape together a plan, whether to run, play dead, accept his fate, all of it blurring together as adrenaline surged through his body. Fighting it was out of the question, even if he wasn't already the smallest of his tribe the bear still more than doubled his size. Running out of ideas, he readied himself. Motivated by the feeling the bear was doing the same. It was then, moments before Torynn was ready to make the first move, that a thin line formed in front of him. Beginning from his heart, closing the distance, and disappearing into the fur of the bear's chest. He could only describe it as a thread. It had an ethereal glow to it, icy blue in color, and it filled Torynn with a strange, almost overwhelming feeling. A feeling of reunion. Clearly the bear felt it too, as it dropped back on all fours and immediately began nuzzling into his chest. As if they were the best of friends. Torynn had always assumed that the Valkyr's connection to nature was metaphorical, just an idea born from how they came to be, but whatever just happened between them was different, it felt like a threading of their very souls, souls that longed to be reunited.

Unless you've experienced the absolutely unhinged celebration that is either Solvyngrad or Yulevyngrad, you've never experienced a true feast. When the entire village comes together to commune in the town hall, just outside the town hall, the town square, the streets weaving to and from the town square, the marketplace those streets lead to, and any building with at least a single barrel of ale. Every horizontal surface cleared before piling it high with good food and refreshing drink. A downright irresponsible amount of food and drink. Whether your preference is salty, sweet, or savory, a fatty meat or fresh baked bread or a hearty soup and stew, no one is allowed to go hungry here. And to those who've had their fill, song and dance awaits to sweep you off your feet. Some years this celebration lasts a day, others it may stretch into a week's length, some might even tell you that it has no beginning or end, only peaks. If you could distill the Valkyrian spirit into it's purest form, it's this; an entire village, hundreds upon hundreds all celebrating their endless achievements, their indomitable spirit, and shouting one big communal "FUCK YOU!" to the land that would stop at nothing to send every last one of them to an icy grave.

Valkyr are stalwart vikings born from the rock and runestone of Titan's Peak. They've relied on their communities and their ties to the wild to thrive in a land that civilization was never meant to last in. It takes a village to raise a child and a Valkyr to know they'll never be left behind.


The Heart and Soul of The North

It began with the end of the dragons. Goldrakun was not only the last of the Elders, but the last of the dragons themselves. It's said that he made a pilgrimage through what is now known as the Dragonspine Mountains, ending at the northernmost point of the world. He was laid to rest there, but his magic refused to die. Around his grave formed Titan's Peak, the tallest mountain in Oniran.

The mountain itself is saturated with draconic magic. Like a beating heart. The many caverns and caves acting as channels spreading its influence throughout the entirety of The North. The result was a land where the element of Nature could no longer be restrained by balance, where survival of the fittest took hold to the fullest extent.

This event was not without the miracle of life. Everything leading up to this point made the conditions ideal for a remarkable development, consider it Goldrakun's last gift. Titan's Peak was rich with runestone, a constant source of Draconic Nature pumped into it, all in the heart of a land where that magic was now unchecked. The result was the Valkyr. Born from rock and runestone with everything they needed to survive in the unforgiving cold.

The Sea of Ice and Snow

Unsurprisingly, The North did not accept them with open arms. The land itself is more or less completely closed off from the rest of the world by the winding twists and turns of the mountains. Significant portions of the land within are actually cliffs and canyons filled completely with powdery snow, meaning a careless traveler can suddenly find themselves sinking into the depths of an icy grave.

The habitable land, while an improvement, isn't much better. The ambient draconic magic renders the wilderness unforgiving. If it's not an apex predator like the Shrikes, it's a game animal like the Moose (or more commonly known as Towershields), both ready and eager to paint the snow with your blood at a moment's notice.

Breath of the Wild

Because the mountains form what is essentially a channel, an ever present, almost supernatural wind blows through The North. With wind comes colder temperatures, lessened vision, and frequent snowstorms. But these were the Valkyr. If there was one thing they could somehow flip to their advantage, it was the wind.

Snowsailing is the fastest, most reliable form of transport in The North. A well crafted vessel, with sizes ranging from fitting a single person to an entire tribe, can also insure that the snow-filled canyons are inconsequential. Anyone wishing to travel here would be wise to have a Valkyr guiding them, or at the very least acquire themselves a snowsail.

Four Swords

It began with Heljyn, the first Jarl of Wulfhelm, whose rule allowed the kingdom to thrive against all odds thrown at them. With newfound confidence, her four children believed they could do the same and spread their influence throughout The North. But these were the Valkyr, so what began as sibling rivalry became a declaration of competition from Heljyn herself. The challenge was simple, on paper at least. The four were to gather their clans and venture out into the land, establishing what they could only hope would be four cities. A competition to see who's settlement would thrive the most. This challenge would be known today as The Game of Four Swords.

Three of those cities still thrive to this day, but it was far from the end. The spirit of this competition sparked even more clans to form, and with more clans came more competition leading to more and more clans all sprouting up as villages scattered across The North. There's a common misconception that these clans partake in a sort of faction war but, while rivalries can always lead to violence and infighting, at its core their existence symbolizes the spirit of honorable competition.

Core Trait

The Flesh of Runestone; The Spirit of the Wild

The soul of a Valkyr is intertwined with the earth itself. Their bodies share all the traits of Runestone, granting them a natural resistance to the cold and weak magic, the ability to channel magic through their bodies, and the rather unique quirk of crystalizing their wounds to prolong their survival.

Within a year after birth a runic tattoo will form somewhere on their body, this tattoo represents an innate link they have to an animal spirit. Whether or not they choose to act on that link through Soul-Threading is up to them, however. For those who do, their bond will materialize in one of three ways: their bodies will serve as a totem for their spirit, they're destined to encounter a familiar of their spirit, or their link will serve as a foundation for Threading with a Patron.

Binding with a spirit is something anyone can potentially learn. But the ability to thread one's soul with a spirit from birth, without the burden of talismans or training or the effort to maintain the bond, is a sacred trait found only with Valkyr.

A Link Between Souls

For those whose bond takes the form of a familiar, they will get to experience what Valkyr call The Reunion. It describes the moment that a bond between a Valkyr and their spirit is fully realized and they finally find each other again. The Reunion is unmistakable, it begins with a chance encounter, face to face with the animal itself, both parties wary that the other will strike first and neither daring to move. With the locking of eyes comes a stillness to the wild, the eerie quiet that preludes the fight for survival between predator and prey. All culminating to the moment where tensions are highest, when a thin line with an ethereal glow forms between them.

What follows is an overwhelming feeling of reunion, as if you stumbled upon a old friend you thought you would never see again. That feeling is The Thread. A link between souls. A second chance to ensure you're never separated again.


It's important to note that the cultures described in these ancestry articles are based on the civilization most relevant to them. For Valkyr, this is the Kingdom of Wulfhelm as well as just those living in The North in general. While a single culture could never apply to every last Valkyr, it's still, at the very least, the core of what I want them to be and represent.


The Indomitable Valkyrian Spirit

No one is promised a long, fulfilling life. With conditions that could end you at seemingly every moment came a culture hellbent on not giving those conditions an inch of ground to stand on, neither physically nor emotionally. This complete rejection of the land's efforts against them is reflected even in its name. It has none. To call this place something as simple and vague as "The North" is what they, at the time, considered the absolute closest you can get to spitting in its face. Not a single inch of ground.

"Live every day like it's your last." This ideal became a core aspect of almost every village you might find on your travels. Pride and glory overtook doubt and the fear of failure. Stubbornness and a fierce loyalty became valued traits. Every meal is a feast, a potluck even. The endless pursuit of living precisely the way they wanted, whether it be hunting, glory through battle, a thriving community, or simply just wanting to live a quiet, warm life free of worry, the stars would sooner fall from the sky before The North could steal that right from them.

Valkyr collectively live their lives in spite, spite aimed specifically at the one (1) place they live in.
The idea of "thriving" is and has been repeated often. Even since the beginning, when the first Valkyr left the mountain into the great unknown, it was never enough to just "survive". To survive is the bare minimum. Survival on its own was simply a kinder way of admitting that you were just one colder day, one bad hunt, hell, even one spilled ale away from death. The true goal was to reach the point where, for example, you have so much excess food you make the act of just preparing and eating all of it at once so nothing goes to waste an entire holiday celebrated not once, but twice in the year. Which is exactly what the Valkyr did, this is quite literally the entire reason Solvyngrad and Yulevyngrad exist.

While they do have their fair share of stories that serve as warnings or for imparting lessons to the little ones, much more common are tales of heroes. Those who stopped at nothing to achieve their goals, whether alone or with their loved ones. Stories like Torynn and the First Soul-Thread, The Odyssey of The Windwaker, Trials of the Mountain Kin, or Ulfgar and the Vakumyr, all of these stories serving one true purpose. Inspiring hope.


It Takes a Village

The one true weakness of a land where survival of the fittest reigns supreme is the refusal to accept it. The fittest refusing to leave the unfit behind, and the unfit refusing to let the fittest fight alone. This is the heart of why Valkyr value community. Community is an entire village working together to ensure that each and every member lives the best possible life. A place where children are raised by everyone at once. Where you can always find an extra bed, a warm meal, or aid of any kind. To thrive is a team effort, and when almost every village started as just a clan, that team is baked in from the start.

The relationships Valkyr form are strong, they kinda have to be. This is usually expressed through loyalty, protection, or even the willingness to die for those they care about. But where this is most present, is the common belief of The Thread. On it's own the thread isn't a tangible thing one can see, only a representation of a bond that reveals itself during a Reunion. But that doesn't mean it isn't there at all. It's believed that if you were somehow able to see the thread, every village would resemble a web of light, those who are alone have a thread leading to their future soulmate, those already in love would be hopelessly tangled together, pets would have a thread connected to every person who showed them even an ounce of kindness, and some would even stretch far into the horizon, for even when separated dozens of days apart the thread will never be broken.


Betrayal of Kindness

Many Valkyrian settlements live by one universal creed, "No one left behind". There are little to no exceptions to this. No matter how suspicious or potentially dangerous someone might be, if a Valkyr sees them out in the cold in need of help there won't even be a moment of hesitation. In that sense, Valkyr are incredibly selfless, compassionate, and trusting. Which means, for some people out there, they're easy to take advantage of.

The Fourth Sword, the only child who's city had fallen, is a cautionary tale for exactly this. Although the details are rather scuffed after so long. They say the fourth sibling was the youngest and most kind of them all, the original believer of striving to help anyone who needed it. The city they developed was full of warmth and compassion, truly a pleasant place to live. But one day they simply helped the wrong person. No one could've known they would befriend and eventually fall in love with their jarl, no one could've known their goal was to break the clan from the inside, no one could've known that helping someone in need would lead to the assassination of the Fourth Sword and an invasion of their home.

Some would assume that the cautionary tale is warning against the trusting of strangers, or that there should at least be a smidgen of hesitation. But these are the Valkyr. To let a tragedy like this stop them, to abandon the ideals of the fourth sword for the actions of a single person, would be letting The North win. What the cautionary tale truly warns of is the idea that, while a threat can come from anywhere, while there is always the chance of betrayal, you must not let that fear convince you to abandon someone in need. To this day betraying someone's kindness, attempting to tear the clan apart, refusing to help someone when you're able to, all of these are common taboos in a Valkyrian village.


By Any Means Necessary

Valkyrian clothing is exactly what most would expect. Prioritizing warmth, their clothing is made up exclusively of furs and leathers. The more the merrier. Even if you have to take a scrap of rabbit fur, hold it against your arm, and haphazardly wrap it in leather straps. Some might even go the extra mile and stuff fur down their pants. When its cold you just gotta do what you gotta do. Not much in the way of aesthetics here. However, since they hold an importance towards utilizing every single part of a hunted animal, jewelry and charms made of bones are common.

The primary material for armor is leather since its readily available and allows metals to be reserved for tools and weapons. As expected, bone armor is common but unless its made with the extremely tough and often cumbersome tusks and horns it's not exactly the most durable. For this reason, they're used more for either decoration or as talismans.
Reading Time: 25+ min. (5750 words)
The opening/vibes is all you need for a perfect understanding!

Table of Contents

Main Body

  • Vibes
  • Culture
  • Magic System

  • Sidebar

  • Attributes
  • Anatomy
  • Bonus Lore

  • Attributes


    Titan's Peak


    120-130 years




    It is without question that Valkyr are an extremely formidable people. Even the weakest of them possess an amplified Strength and an uncanny Fortitude in some of the harshest conditions imaginable.



    Valkyr are exceptionally large humanoids, their size rivaled only by Knights with rather unique adaptations. The smallest of them still measuring to around 6ft tall. They also innately have an above average amount of muscle, however, by no means will every single Valkyr be an absolutely ripped giant. Their hair grows long and thick. While some may choose to cut it, most choose to let it grow out.

    Their most significant trait ties back to their runestone origin, for they share many of the same properties and then some. Their skin is tough and grants a natural resistance. Magic can be channeled through their bodies to either bolster its effects or minimize them. They can be inscribed with Runic Tattoos for spellcasting. Unlike runestone, however, is the ability to crystalize their wounds. For this reason, their scars resemble the glowing veins of runestone and are seen as a mark of beauty.


    By all accounts, Valkyrian eyes are completely normal. Albeit with irises that heavily resemble the texture of crystals that glow when using magic. Though on some occasions they can share traits with the eyes of various animals. This is especially the case for Shamans, whose eyes will resemble their Patron's whenever they call upon them.

    Bonus Lore

    The cultural significance of auroras is directly tied to a specific legend known as "The Odyssey of the Windwaker". It recounts the voyage of a boy and his falcon hopelessly lost in The North with nothing but a snowsail and knowledge of the stars, stars that were completely blocked by the northern lights. Despite pushing through many different encounters with varying levels of danger he's able to find his way back home by following the path of that aurora. The story represents the Valkyrian spirit, refusing to let The North win by using its tricks against it.


    Hellebores. An incredibly enduring flower that thrives in colder climates and harsh conditions. Its symbolic meaning going through constant change and interpretation from an outside perspective, some only seeing stress and hardship due to its poisonous nature, but others seeing peace and harmony due to its ability to thrive in places most could not.


    The biggest events that Valkyr celebrate are Solvyngrad and Yulevyngrad. It began in Wulfhelm during the first year they had stocked up more food than they knew what to do with. So, not wanting to let it go to waste, they decided the obvious course of action was to hold a city-wide feast in celebration of finally conquering The North. Sullied only by the fact that most of the food was extremely close to spoiling. But these were the Valkyr, and like hell they were going to let an upset stomach ruin the prospect of a new tradition.

    In the present day, the feast is held during both the Summer and Winter Solstice. Both representing the major checkpoints of the year. Sol- and Yule- referring to the solstices, -vyn- meaning "holiday of", and -grad meaning "greed".


    The few Elves that are able to survive in The North and share their customs have led to the use of specially made Dragonkin Masks as potent talismans as well as elemental variants of Soul-Threading, with rumors that Threading with draconic spirits may still be possible. To them, Elves are brothers and sisters, a reminder that they didn't necessarily miss out on getting to know the dragons, as well as the proof they give that The North isn't as dangerous as it may like to believe.

    A Valkyr venturing outside of The North can seldom find a civilization as accommodating as one built by and for Knights. Large buildings that won't leave them constantly hunched, warm and friendly company eager to share good food and even better stories, and a sense of community just as strong as their own. To them, Knights are a reflection of their own adaptability and indomitable spirit.


    Valkyrian adventurers can often find themselves on quests of survival, spiritual enlightenment, or to prove themselves. Venturing out into The North is no easy task, and some may do it to help others on their journeys or as a pilgrimage to prove themselves capable of surviving. Others might be on a quest to thread their soul to a patron, seeking out the spirits of the wild and striving to live as they do. And some may do it to venture outside The North, to see the world beyond the mountains that may or may not be kinder than the one they've known up until now.


    By the books, a Valkyr that has been in a party for any significant amount of time will eventually consider their bonds strong enough to invoke a thread, which is a huge deal for obvious reasons. They're stubborn but quick to trust someone and show them kindness, but the betrayal of that trust is an offense almost irredeemable. This overly trusting nature I'd imagine could lead to roleplaying scenarios similar to the classic "lawful good paladin in a party full of gremlins" dilemma. In combat a Shaman will adapt the style/personality of their current Patron, so the level of savagery is up to you.

    So I know that barbarians are an obvious pick and most systems don't have a shaman class (Except for 4th edition cause it's based as hell), but halfway through writing this I had to take a moment and ask myself if they were actually warlocks/witches. Do with that what you will. Any classes that either give passive AOE buffs to allies, gives you an animal companion, or overall has animal related mechanics will work. I know most systems don't allow this but some Valkyr could absolutely qualify as large creatures.

    Master Jontaro

    While I would love to go on an adventure, writing them is enough for me.

    All the art is made by me unless labled otherwise!

    A Rite of Passage

    Hunting is an important aspect of their culture, as hunters are viewed as the main providers of food and warmth, and those who are extremely skilled have most likely taken down beasts you and I could hardly imagine. This importance is the reason you'll often see them wearing fur shawls. It's not intrinsically special, just a fur big enough to wrap around the shoulders and secured with an insignia representing their clan. But depending on the village it's not something you can buy, trade for, or even ask someone else to make. They need to be earned.

    As soon as Valkyrian children are able to so much as comprehend literally any form of communication, they are taught how to survive. How to make fire, how to cook, how to stay warm if they find themselves lost for the night, who to help and how they should provide that help, what they should stay away from, and lastly, how to hunt. A Valkyr's shawl is often the fur of their first successful hunt, believed to be the final test of their ability to survive on their own and to show utmost respect to the hunted.

    In some villages its normal for the shawl to be from their most dangerous hunt, regularly replaced as a hunter grows into their own. If this is the case, there will often be a sort of social hierarchy displayed through what furs they might be wearing.

    Magic System

    Fighting Nature with Nature

    The North is unchecked, unbalanced, rich with Nature magic on a draconic level of power, and as such it lead to a rather unique quirk. The very spirit of the wild became something that could physically manifest and grow stronger. Making predators more savage, prey more formidable, plant life more resilient; to anyone else this would mean a land too incomprehensibly dangerous to even think about settling in, but these are the Valkyr.


    Soul-Threading is the art of becoming one with the wild by tapping into its spirits. This practice is used for a variety of purposes, like binding spirits and their effects to totems either on your person or in the center of a village, to clothing and armor to augment your abilities, or the practice you'll see most often of calling upon a Patron to directly bestow its aspects to the user.

    The spirits of the wild are not souls, they're ideas. They're the manifestation of a single species and what they represent in a given environment. However, this means their potency can and will change depending on the environment. A Patron, on the other hand, is the highest form of a spirit, unchanging, the very concept in its purest form.

    The Spirit of a bear represents a single species in a single environment, the Patron of the bear represents the common thread connecting every species in Oniran. The very idea of the Bear at it's peak.

    The act of binding yourself to a spirit is often described as the threading of souls, uniting both in a symbiotic relationship. This bond is represented and maintained through the use of talismans made from a piece of that spirit. For example, binding yourself to the wolf would require a talisman such as a necklace of wolf teeth or claws. Those who are able to bind themselves to a Patron, however, are considered to have mastered the art and gain the title of Shaman. Binding to multiple Patrons is possible, but difficult to maintain.

    SoulThreading Concept
    Soul-Threading doesn't end with talismans, as they are simply the bond. In battle, Shamans must call upon their Patron by performing its stance. These stances range from mimicking to forming the shapes of the runes that represent their Patron. In a sense, entering a stance is asking your Patron to lend you its power.

    At it's core, Soul-Threading represented the final nail in The North's metaphorical coffin. Not only could they rely on each other to thrive, not only could they harness the wind, not only could they fight back against the seemingly endless threats that faced them, but now they could use The North's power against it. At it's core, Soul-Threading represented hope.


    Author's Notes

    So, I finally wrote Valkyr. Lemme tell ya, for the longest time Valkyr have served as the awkward middle child in the chaos that is my brain. Just a constant cycle of "Oh I need to write Valkyr, wait I don't know anything about them, oh hey look a shiny new project!" I knew what I wanted their vibes to be since the beginning but never really knew how to GET there, y'know? I knew I wanted them to be vikings, live in "The North" (I always liked when fantasy worlds did the generic thing of making the north super dangerous and just calling it "The North"), and that I wanted to shamelessly copy both the Freljord and specifically Udyr (the animal stance magic system that's only used for this one character and barely expanded upon so I'm just invoking squatters rights and making it like 10 times better) from League of Legends.

    They used to be dwarves, y'know. If there is one thing about my worldbuilding that I can say I only did cause it's what every fantasy world did so I felt obligated, it was THAT lol. Then of course you have the more recent inspirations like Moana but in snow, Windwaker but in snow, How to Train your Dragon but in snow, Skyrim but in snow, but I already covered all that in the WorldEmber homework.

    Basically, when it came to writing Valkyr I was pretty much working with nothing but vague ideas and a dream, so I just did what I did with Elves: Write their lore as if I'm trying to justify why I want them to be like this. And what happened was me writing some of my favorite lore by FAR. At some point I began to wonder if the entire article was just me saying "The North is dangerous" like a hundred times, and that every aspect of their culture is centered around them living in it, but then I realized that is LITERALLY just how culture works.

    Before this project, one of my favorite jokes was answering "Okay so if you were suddenly brought to Oniran, what is your first move?" by screaming "GET OUT OF THE NORTH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET AS FAR AWAY AS YOU CAN". But after this project, while I still wholeheartedly believe that I would last like 30 seconds max, I now feel like that risk is WORTH it for the sole reason of getting to be in the company of Valkyr. That's all, have a good one!

    Please Login in order to comment!
    Jan 7, 2024 14:02 by Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine

    Firstly, I would like to say, HOW has this article not gotten more likes or comments? Original art work, well written and nicely laid out. You've even got a table of contents, which I love doing in our own articles. For me, this was honestly a delight to read. I've been plodding through ALOT of the species articles so far, and this has possibly been one of the most refreshing and inspiring entries I have had the pleasure of reading so far. The world-building was really engaging, and I felt that I began to understand and know not just the Valkyr but also more about your world-setting in general. Which is rare; in a lot of writing, you kind of find a species feels isolated from it's setting, and you could copy and paste it into another world. The Valkyr feel apart of Oniran, and I love it.   Honestly, you're author notes too were a delight. I kid you not, Evalaw also has a "North" that is just horrid. But it is honestly great to see your thought process too. I completely get that there's a train of thought, and especially when trying to justify what you want your species to be like, it was also great to see your influences too. Anyway, I'll stop gushing.   Fantastic article, content, and layout all around. Your own original artwork to boot is 100% a thumbs up from me.

    _______________________________________________________________   Please check out our project Chronicles of Evalaw or come chat with us on our Discord Server!
    Jan 8, 2024 03:07 by Jon

    Oh wow, you've absolutely made my night with this! I'm so glad you enjoyed the read and I absolutely know what you're talking about with species not feeling connected to their world, it was one of the main focuses I had when writing Valkyr specifically. And I always try to put as much thought into the authors notes as I do for the article itself, so I'm also glad they haven't gone unappreciated!   Thanks SO much for the feedback and I'm wishing you luck with the rest of your reading!!!

    While I would love to go on an adventure, writing them is enough for me.