After passing through the town of Spencer and traveling for two more days, the company came at last to the crowded, dirty community of West Base Town where travelers and merchants holed up for the winter in a season of reckless abandon or prolonged boredom, depending on who was asked. The practice, as Tarduunal had explained, was called “Wintering” had become a tradition of sorts.
Each year, during the months of long nights, when work for caravans reached a lull, after the hustle and hurry of moving the harvest and other summer goods around Perandis Sheen had ended, the town of West Base Camp would swell to nearly four times its normal population and become the arena for all manner of distraction. It was a place, streets dark, muddy, and crowded, where a gambling man could win or lose a fortune, where a strong warrior could always find a job as a guard or escort, or where a shrewd merchant could earn a huge treasure providing the goods which the hordes consumed.
As they had entered the sprawl, Nathan had noticed that, its permanent buildings too few to house all of the Winterers, shacks and tent quarters had been raised with no evidence of planning or organization. It was in these ramshackle buildings that the roughest dwelt and among them, those who most wanted to fade into obscurity. For four and a half months each year, West Base Town became a haven for outlaws, renegades, and opportunist who gathered there to wait out the winter, a meeting place for those who sought a life of risk and adventure.