The First Hearthfire

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'Twas the eve before Hearthfire, and all through the feywild,

Not a creature was stirring but for an elven child.

Flitting between shadows cast by the moon above,

She sought the true meaning of love.

Leaves crunched beneath a pair of booted feet, breaking the silence that inevitably seemed to come with darkening skies and cooler weather. The air around the figure crackled with an energy that went mostly unseen by the uninitiated, yet the strength of it had perturbed others on the road to the point where most went out of their way to avoid coming in contact. If the energy didn't scare them away then the traveler's disturbing appearance would do it.

In direct lighting, one could tell the traveler was a female elf if the hood of her cloak didn't hide the prominence of her shapely ears. Standing in shadow, she seemed to practically disappear. Some thought her a sorceress, casting some kind of invisibility spell. Others believed she was actually a fairy disguising herself as a human, for shadows can hide many things. No matter what, all who came across her understood she was not one to be trifled with.

Ahvora was not, in fact, using magic. It was just the effect of what happened during the Breaking. That was what people called the cataclysm that destroyed the barrier between planes, allowing them to crash into each other. Cities fell, societies collapsed, and the people scattered as the Breaking brought forth horrific yet fascinating waves of change.

That hadn't been but a few moons past. Since then, word spread of places rebuilding or offering sanctuary away from the epicenters of the rifts.

For Ahvora, everything about her world collapsed when the Breaking occurred. Her body was changed, touched by the shadows that spilled into Vythael, leaving her skin so pale it was practically translucent. Her mind filled with visions that she could not quite understand but for one thing - she needed to reach Soryn. Ignoring the urge prompted more visions and headaches until she started the journey.

Reactions from the unchanged, varying from awe to fear, led Ahvora to take the less-traveled (and therefore less direct) route, though a slight headache persisted because of her decision. It was a small price to pay for some peace.

The road, which was actually just a worn cart path, wound through the outskirts of a forest. Trees lined either side of the path with low-hanging branches, a sign of the forest starting to reclaim the trail. Roots snaked along and just below the ground, forcing Ahvora to constantly glance down and pick her steps carefully. Especially after the first one snuck up on her while she had been admiring the myriad hues of the leaves not yet fallen.

She continued on until she could see between the branches that the sun started to sink. As if on cue, her stomach started to rumble. Her legs ached, still unaccustomed to walking so far. She found a mostly clear spot beneath a sprawling tree with a trunk wider than her arms could reach and let her brown leather pack drop to the ground. Free from the weight, she leaned to one side then the other, stretching as much as her range of motion allowed.

It had been two days since her path intersected anything that didn't try to eat her. Despite her self-assurance that it was better that way, Ahvora couldn't help but feel a little lonely with no one for company but the wind. At first, she had longed for her family, but by that point in her journey, she wished for any kind of companionship to make the trek more bearable.

As she knelt by the pack, preparing to undo the clasp holding her bow onto the pack, movement caught the corner of her eye. Heart pounding, she fought her natural instinct to jump up and run. Her hand drifted to the clasp as though she hadn't seen anything. When it fell, she took hold of the bow and quiver, putting the strap of the latter over her shoulder, careful not to let any arrows fall. The quiver didn't fit well since she'd had to trade a dagger for it, but it did the trick.

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