In this sparsely populated expanse, writing and numbers were unknown. Art did exist, but symbolic inscriptions did not – save for something as simple as an X.

People were mostly nomadic; agriculture was largely uncommon; and diets were rich in meat and fish. In the omnipresent forest, tribes would find hunting grounds, establish shelter, and hope that both would carry them through brutal winters.

Men were savages, women were slaves, and children were often the first to die from famine and disease. If a slave broke her bondage to a tribe, the freedom which awaited her was the freedom to starve to death. Or freeze. Or be eaten by wolves.

Liberty was not kind; women logically chose servitude. Such was the curse of being born a girl.

Sure, attacks happened, and in them as in hunting, many men perished. Women and children, being chattel, were tossed about, but at least they persisted more or less. So, raids were not the greatest menace, nor was exposure, nor starvation, nor disease. Ignorance of how to prevent these threats was, and it ran rampant over the land.

The immediacy of survival made people insistent on order, suspicious of change, and hostile to new ideas.

Those who believed the slightest bit otherwise, such as traders, brigands, and other outcasts, lived by their wits and by their silence – or they did not live.