The nomads, Utho knew, were a wary folk and would not approach them. The war in the West was too far away to trouble them and so he had every expectation of six pennies easily earned. Matters became better still when his customer seemed to think it fell to him to feed his guide and so shared a rich vegetable bread and a round of cheese he had purchased at the market. Utho was a supertitious boy, though, and he knew such bounty must come at a price.
The price of the good bread and cheese become clear the next morning at sunrise. They were followed by at least half a dozen ill-looking vagrants with cudgels of black wood. At first Utho thought his companion unreasonably calm, but then finally realised the man was somehow unaware of their slinking pursuers. He pointed them out and at once a terrible stillness came over the man. He turned and glared back along the road.
The vagabonds took this as their cue to emerge, grinning and puffing their chests. They pulled mean faces, the better to scare their victims. They tapped their cudgels in their palms. Utho’s companion then swept both of his arms about him in a circle as though about to begin a dance. With a sound like a thunderclap a mighty wind sprang up, swirling with a strength more than enough to knock the thugs from their feet. Utho and the traveller somehow stood in the eye of it, their hair whipping in the wind but otherwise unharmed.
Nothing was said, but the vagrants understood the meaning well enough. Gathering their scattered weapons they made off back Southwards, leaving Utho and his new friend to their journey.
Windcraft is the secret wielded by the guardians of Aeros, a gift given to them by the elemental lord Suradijn.
Adepts of the secret can call wind into the sails of the ship, cool the Summer halls of Aeros and knock their foes to the ground with blasts of wind. However, the true masters of windcraft are more fearsome by far, able to lift themselves into the air with winds, topple buildings and gather mighty sandstorms.
Though its mastery takes many years of study, windcraft is not a skill alone. To command the wind requires an elemental soul. Some of the children of Aeros are born with this gift and others are given such a soul by Suradijn himself. In particular, if a child of Aeros is struck by some misfortune such as s sickness or injury which threatens their life then on occasion Suradijn will appear at the moment of death and, sweeping away their faded soul with a mighty wind, replace it with another of his own making and thereby restore the child to vitality.
For nearly two centuries during the age of wars the art of windcraft gradually died out in the world beyond Aeros and even declined sharply in Aeros itself. This was due primarily to Suradijn’s long captivity. When he was freed, the importance of the wind adepts increased once more and their numbers with it.
Late in the rule of Queen Prudence Villefontaine there was a movement within the Lossanbrant to integrate windcraft into the system of alchemy taught there. This was partly successful, but led to the formation of a body of knowledge concerning windcraft written primarily by non-practitioners of the art, since the requirement for an elemental soul was never circumvented.