Component 01 - Awaken

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The man rolled his almond-shaped eyes and adjusted the hem of his tattered brown cloak to cover his bluing lips.

Gavin was full sol elf; blonde with violet eyes and a chiseled jaw, which trembled from the cold. Sol elves detested breath-revealing weather.

The out-of-place companions overlooked the ruins with intent. It was silent, save the wind. Gavin's resound sigh broke that silence, and he turned to walk away.

"Lavina..." He stopped. "Should we spend much longer here I will not withhold this journey from your father, nor will I remain to serve as your personal guard."

Lavina glared at her personal guard with contempt. Her goldenrod eyes narrowed, and she whispered a spell that would knock him off his feet, but stopped and scolded herself. She would never hurt someone who didn't deserve it. It was wasting the arcane.

"You, sir..." She searched her mind for a proper insult. "Are no braver than a bullypig!"

Gavin snickered, and the tips of his ears twitched. Something approached, and it was nearby—crunching snow. Footsteps!

"Lady Lavina, you must hide! Something is coming."

His companion cocked an eyebrow confused, for moments before he was acting as the back-end of a honkadonk.

"Do not play games." She thrust out a finger. "You're frightening me!"

It was the sol elf's turn to hush her. Gavin's eyes darted as he put his back to the wall. His demeanor startled, and she realized he wasn't in the middle of a sour jest. He was serious.

Lavina ducked into the frame of the ruined building. She fell to her knees and hid behind a low stone wall. A small part crumbled as she bumped against it. Her heart hammered in her chest with such force she was sure it would either burst out or crack her ribs. She wanted to hear over the pounding but couldn't; not even Gavin. Had he abandoned her after all?

With a deep gulp, she braved a peek. It was brief, but enough to see a score of cloaked figures walking out of the alley just across the snow-buried road.

Most of the group dressed in ripped-up and stained red winter cloaks, but four in the back stood out. They were in pure black, and their hoods hid their faces. She knew not what race the ones with hoods were, but the majority had sickly green skin.

Lavina wasn't sure, having only read about them, but with their tusks, under bites and dirty yellow eyes, it was none other than the brutish orcs of the Moonbearer Mountains.

Far more unsettling was the truth they were a savage race of blood-crazed humanoids, was what they held in their hands was worse. Each carried a large obsidian battle-axe. They looked far organized for a typical battle party of the brutes.

The leader of the pack collapsed into the snow. As silent as death itself, Gavin's arrow had struck the jugular of that first unfortunate orc. The second projectile would arrive in the eye of another and a third in one's stomach—that one fell and gurgled blood.

Without giving the marauders a chance to organize a counterattack, Lavina saw her friend sprint away as fast as his long legs would carry him. One of the hooded figures lifted a cloaked arm and pointed at the elf with a long and boney white finger. The remaining Orcs hooted and hollered in excitement, but then a fourth arrow came and slammed into the chest of another. The remaining dozen marauders wasted no more time. They left the alley and rampaged after Gavin. The four dark ones stayed.

Lavina thanked her lucky moons that the orcs had followed Gavin, going along in his try to lure them away. But, she did not feel so lucky that the four most menacing ones remained. She might have slain an orc with a Firebolt spell or two, maybe a Shocking Wave, but the four standing around their fallen companions seemed much more powerful. Something dark was about them, something that permeated the air making it difficult to breathe.

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