[Long description: An ashrunner climbs into the frame. They’re dressed in a motley of rags, scavenged bits of clothing, and bone armor. They wear a mask over their face with two horns poking through their head covering, and a pair of pronghorn-like antlers dangling from their ears. Their eyes are concealed by bone-carved snow goggles, and they carry a large, red banner affixed to the staff on their back. Embroidered on it is a leaping pronghorn motif.
The R.A. explains: “They fly flags and stuff from before the war. From peacetime.”
Glimpses of other ashrunners enter the story. One has a heavy fur coat and a flat board on their back, which is made of a lattice woven between two poles. Several banners are tied to it, one with an arrow motif and one with a white medical cross.
“Medical banners, waymarkers, boat flags…” the R.A. says.
Another ashrunner is shown, this one bearing several fishing spears and a basket on their back. A koi windsock, or koinobori, flutters in the wind. It’s accompanied by several fishing boat flags with carp designs on them.
The R.A. continues. “Anything that they can get their hands on, as long as it isn’t from the war.”
The frame returns to the original ashrunner, the one with the pronghorn flag. They look out over the wasteland. Something catches their eye in the distance—two figures exchanging gunfire with what looks like a huge snake with a gnarled wooden face. Black smoke billows into the air like a warning.
Just then, something strikes the ashrunner from behind. Huge talons sink into their shoulders before they can so much as turn. The ashrunner is hoisted up into the air, helplessly scrabbling at the claws around their neck.
They get a good look at their assailant as they’re pulled in for closer inspection. A monstrous agent of the Empire examines the ashrunner impassively. The beast wears the huge robes of a librarian, or maybe an archivist, and their mask is styled like a skeletal bird’s beak.]