At long last, you had another job.
Wystan's life had taken a turn for the worse. Rubicon had always been a steady source of income for bodyguard work, with all the various old and decrepit nobles of the previous generation always worried about them backstabbing each other for political gain. A sorry state of affairs for them, but it suited your wallet just fine. But the jobs were becoming a bit scarce, as were the nobles. The shroud, that black scar which blighted this world a decade previous, had bloated again in recent times and it brought Rubicon in fearful unity, leaving little time for the usual foolishness of the elite as they all trembled in worry for the future. Regardless how Wystan felt about the situation surrounding the shroud, it didn't affect you directly. At least, it didn't until that one fateful night.
It was a normal job as any other. You were escorting Duke Zillart across the land when you encountered that strange golden knight who blocked your path, demanding some manner of scroll the Duke supposedly carried. You did your duty and fought well, though he wounded you before he retreated from combat suddenly. You do not know with whom he was communicating with or even the knight's name but you do know he dressed in the armor of a Chrysanthemum knight, that lost nation consumed by the darkness. As he departed, the knight had even mentioned Dragon Tower, tallest tower in the world, held within that forgotten nation. That is of course impossible. None who enter the shroud ever leave. Perhaps he was an accursed gone mad by his visions.
Three days later, you had your first nightmarish vision, and woke up with the telltale spiral mark of the Accursed somewhere upon your body.
How long have you had it? It is known that those who become Accursed often hide their mark, for if others knew they would surely exile you, or worse. It wasn't without good reason. The marked slowly seem to lose their minds, their visions and nightmares escaping into reality, until they went mad. And others would experience terrifying deformities as part of their curse. It was often better then just to let the marked give into the one universal urge that all seem to have, the one universal vision they all shared. To enter the shroud, to find exactly what their dreams foretold. Their dreams seemed to be of Chrysanthemum, cold and dark, and a howling wind within.
To this day, all Accursed who have entered the deep shroud have never returned. They are the only beings which seem not to be able to be noticed by the terrible Titans which roam under the shroud, and they are the only ones who have made settlements beyond Sothis, the last bulwark of humanity against the dark.
Perhaps you were found out, and your exile has begun. Perhaps you travel of your own violation. What is certain is that you managed to pick up one final odd job before your journey begins. Duke Zillart has long had rivalry with a certain Baron Manus Marlowe and Countess Alzbeta Marlowe. Their manor has long been silent, save for a few indirect replies via messengers. They have had neither visitor nor ally in some time, and rumors have begun to swirl that the mansion was actually abandoned, haunted, or cursed, and that the Countess has become one of the marked who has fled her home. They have been paying their taxes to a point but they had missed their last few billings, and the collectors were tired of sending officers demanding entry. Your skill with the sword was not forgotten, and it was believed that the Baron would be more pliable to suggestions of payment if it were delivered with the threat of blade at its back. Zillart, of course, was all the more pleased to help you traverse to their estate. After all, it is on the way to the shroud. You only need to write back (and possibly mail back) proof of your success at your next nearest opportunity.
To this end, you have been granted ride from a carriage to your destination, leaving the city of Glintham in Rubicon. You can busy yourself before the trip if you wish, otherwise your driver (a portly fellow named Wittershins) will begin your trip. You do not expect to run into any problems along the way.
Trip begins in an hour or two. This is the last time you will probably see this place. Soak it in.