GodForge: Forge of the Mind (Book 1)

 

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Component 00: The Ritual

COMPONENT 00: THE RITUAL

 

“I’m sorry my son, there is no other way.” The beastly minotaur said as he loomed over the helpless teenager.

The boy was tied to a small stone table, and in truth he was not so different from any other—Except of course for small, steer-like horns. Human and minotaurian blood ran through his veins.

He had only just found the way to the laboratory in search of his father—And how he regretted his quest now. All he could do was stare at the humanoid bull with terrified tear-filled eyes. Angon was terrified of Azteron, maybe because he had never seen a full-blooded Minotaur? Maybe because he didn’t understand that his mother had paired with a monster? Or it was quite possible that his fear derived from his so called ‘father’ attacking him at the door, knocking him unconscious and binding him above a glowing runic circle.

“I know…” The beast choked on his words. “I know you think I’m an evil minotaur.”

Azteron felt as if referring to his species would make him seem less threatening, but it only made the child’s eyes double in size. Still, he continued, “But you do understand what is at stake here, don’t you?”

Angon was in a total panic and looked around the room like a cornered wildcat. The laboratory was something out of a nightmare. The walls, floor and ceiling were made of packed dirt with loose vines curling out; grasping. The room had only a few pieces of furnishings; the large stone dais upon which he was bound and a lonely wooden table against the far wall—complete with vials of bubbling, colored liquids. The part that scared Angon the most were the jars filled with something dark and stagnant. He couldn’t help but fear it was blood.

“Am I better than our people?” Azteron asked in a low, guilt-ridden voice. “Am I no less murderous?”

He waited for Angon to respond, but he did not. Azteron continued. “My weapon is merely alchemy, while our kin use brute force and blades!”

    “Please don’t kill me!” Angon suddenly pleaded. “Mother—the town—they’re all dead!”

    Behind his customized bifocals Azteron’s eyes changed. They glazed over and a tear dripped into his fur. His wide mouth frowned. He hadn’t known—his old love and boy’s mother was dead. She was gone from the world—but that couldn’t change his creed. The Minotaur artificer had already made his choice.

Angon struggled as his father regarded him with despair. Such a young child, no older than thirteen winters—he would have had a full life ahead of him. It was truly a shame the ritual was to take all of that away.

    “Please—Azteron!” A woman’s voice cried from the stairwell.

A shadow came first, followed by a petite, elven woman. She rushed down the groaning stairs and into the lab.

    Azteron barely seemed to notice her, but reflexively his fingers curled around an oversized scythe leaning against the stone dais. The weapon had been meant for the ritual but he wondered if he would have to use its arcane properties on her as well—he could not be prevented from going through with it.

She stormed over to the seven-foot tall humanoid and promptly began slamming her fists into his chest.

It was intriguing to the great man-beast that she thought she could harm him. A tiny thing, he could easily snap her in half—But she was his best and only friend left in the world. The gods had taken everyone else.

“Silvia.” Azteron whispered. “My son must make this sacrifice.”

“You dare call him a son?” She screamed. “You’re about to murder him!”

On the table Angon had fallen unconscious. The serum was beginning to take effect.

“Was I not there when he was born?” The great minotaur challenged, his voice rising. “Was it not I that delivered him? It was not my fault I was forced to leave him and watch from afar. His mother became the princess of Angel’s Outpost!”

“Do not blame my sister!” Silvia cried and eyed his scythe—She meant to stop him.

Azteron, weathered from many-a-battle was too quick, and would not take any chances. His hand shot out and engulfed the woman’s lower arm. She struggled but his grip was iron, and he felt almost no resistance.

“Where are the people of Angel’s Outpost now?” He asked. “Angon told me! They are dead! The gods struck them down—just like before!”

“We can fix things.” Silvia desperately stretched out her fingertips, trying to grab his magical weapon.

On the table the boy began to twitch. Azteron took notice—It wouldn’t be long until the world would be saved.

“No matter how powerful he becomes.” She cried. “He can not succeed!”

“What makes you believe that, Silvia?” Azteron was calm, and he held her at arm’s length. “He has the stone hidden in his soul!”

The candles around the room flared and changed rapidly in color.

Silvia’s eyes widened. “You fed your own son the Philosopher’s Stone?”

She tried to throw herself towards the doomed child in a desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable.

“We need a way to fight.” Azteron smiled, gazing into his own mind.    

Her tiny wrist slipped through his massive hand and she dove for Angon, screaming, “You can’t turn him into a weapon!”

Azteron’s voice was cold. “I already have.”

He watched Silvia get thrown back as a circle of fire rose up around his son. Inside, the silhouette of the boy was all that could be seen. Carnivorous flame consumed his flesh, muscle and bone—his very being. It took away Sedal’s boy—his boy.    

“I’m sorry, my son.” Azteron had the smallest tinge of guilt. “I’m so sorry.”

The fire encroached the alchemical circle and rebounded. Something was wrong. The flames were not meant to leave the circle.

“Silvia, get back!” The minotaur cried.

There was a sudden explosion and Silvia looked up in time to see a ray of fire shoot straight for her. There was no way to stop it. The beam hit her and then she was gone—Just gone—Replaced by a pile of smoldering ash.

“Silvia! No!” Azteron screamed.

She was gone. She was dead. His friend hadn’t been meant to die. The last person he had on the face of Anhsook Del Iris, and she was killed by his doings. An insurmountable weight of despair fell onto his shoulders.

“Silvia…” Tears began soaking his fur.

He stood for a moment, his head hanging down—But there was nothing he could do—He needed to shake off the pain and embrace the cold-heartedness of his kin. But he just couldn’t become that again. Silvia had died and it was his fault; He wanted nothing more than to stop the ritual and save her and Angon’s souls.

Multiple rays of fire shot out in random spurts and everything they struck or even grazed was immolated. The room now smelled of burnt flesh and brimstone; the walls were turning molten. The ritual was ruined and he could not understand why. But what he quickly learned was he should not have taken the moment to grieve. He had waited too long—the ritual could no longer be stopped. It was a failure and no one would be left to stop the tyrannical rule of the self-declared gods.

Azteron cracked. He could not be like is kin. He fell to his knees and could no longer fight the sobs in his throat. The Philosopher's Stone was too powerful for a boy’s soul to contain. Azteron had spent his entire life in search of the legendary artifact, and after finally finding it, what was he to have done?

No—He couldn’t give up—There had to be something he could do. Azteron climbed from the floor using his scythe. The weapon had had the potential to alter the alchemical formula just slightly, but it needed more something more. He snatched a silver vial from the dirt and poured it down the shaft of the scythe until it ran onto the curved blade. A flame ray fired from the ritual circle and blasted straight through his horn. Azteron felt no pain, but the force jolted him off his hooves.

Standing back up, he used the scythe as balance. The Minotaur stepped forward and another beam sizzled through the air. He turned the blade and deflected the death beam, which burned straight through the only support pillar. With the absence of the wooden beam the ceiling began to give way; chunks of stone and dirt rained down and barricaded the only exit, but that was fine; Azteron didn’t plan on escaping.

With a great heave, he brought the scythe over his head. Azteron shed a tear for the world—if he failed, this was it. With a great roar he struck the core of the ritual circle, planning to use his own soul as a catalyst to fix what had gone wrong.

 
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Component 01: Awaken

COMPONENT 01: AWAKEN

 

The snow fell blanketing the wrecked home. The building had long since been abandoned and untouched by the world. A dozen feet below the rubble rested the laboratory of a once proud artificer, an inventor of the magical.

If one were to have taken time to dig deep enough they surely would have found a wealth of lost knowledge; tomes, recipes, alchemical gadgets and other, perhaps, darker things.

The most intriguing relic one could have found was a humanoid figure. It was not an elf, dwarf or even gnome, for it was little more than a skeleton with iron plating, equipped with tubes and gears and all sorts of secrets. But no one had found it, not after one winter, nor even two. For Triden’s Gate had been destroyed and abandoned for more than three hundred seasons.

The gods had made certain that no one would return by cursing the land with deadly monsters, savage races of humanoids, and a perpetual winter so cold that it was unable to sustain life for more than a day. Not even ships could make port without the risk of colliding with icebergs. The town of Triden’s Gate was truly lost to the ages. If the gods had known what secrets were buried under the dirt, just one giant’s height down, they would have been more thorough and wiped the town off the map, and likely destroyed much of Anhsook Del Iris in retribution.

This day something shifted under the debris of the lost laboratory and iron fingers pried their way out of the snow touching air for the first time in nearly two centuries. If the rocks and wooden beams had moved on any other day, they would have gone unnoticed. But as fate would have it, two adventurers had come to town to brave the deadly land. A young half-elven woman, with auburn hair to her shoulders, and a tall elven man with short cropped blonde hair. On the man’s back rested a longbow and quiver, and the girl held a rod made of a light metal.

The young woman stopped and turned around, staring at the building behind her.

“Wait Gavin, did you hear that!?” she spoke quickly.

The annoyed looking Elf-Man appeared from around a building and approached where she stood.

“Lavina,” came his voice that teetered with anger, “Stop it.”

The girl called Lavina tucked a lock of hair behind her ear as she leaned forth and examined the collapsed building. It looked like it had been residential and there didn’t seem to be a sign belonging to a business or special trade. But she was sure! She heard something shift--and nothing had even so much as creaked since they arrived there early that morning.

“No Gavin, you stop,” she argued to her companion, “I’m serious this time.”

“You were serious--Every time,” Gavin said through gritted teeth, behind quivering frosted lips.

Lavina’s thick winter boots left soft prints with each step as she made her way across the road to get a better look. She was a budding archaeologist after all, she needed to examine as much as she could.

If she had known how ridiculous she looked in a dangerous place like Triden’s Gate she still wouldn’t have thought twice about coming. She was a young woman, barely over the age of 20 winters, which for a half-elf was still quite young--not even an adult. Even if she acted older it didn’t change the fact that she was a child in the eyes of all the Elves in her treetop city of Windale.

The young girl stopped at the charred skeleton of a house. She was sure the noise came from there. A chilled gust blew her cloak open revealing the fair skin of her legs, and stomach. She didn’t wear armor like her companion, Gavin. She was a spell caster and it would only encumber her ability to cast even the simplest of dweomers, thus she suffered every time the wind blew.

“What did you hear this time then?”  Gavin asked, “Pray tell, a warm hearth in this god’s forsaken ruin?”

“You’re jesting just isn’t funny,” Lavina said with a quip, turning and holding her padded finger to her lips, “Hush, or you’ll scare it away!”

The elven man rolled his almond shaped eyes and adjusted the hem of his tattered brown cloak to cover his bluing lips. Gavin was a true Sol Elf, short blonde hair, violet eyes and a chiseled jaw, which was trembling from the cold. Sol Elves detested any weather where they could see their breath.

The pair of out-of-place elves 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 and said, “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 found herself whispering a spell that would knock him off his feet, but she silently scolded herself. She would never hurt someone on purpose. Spells were not to be wasted in such ways anyhow.

“You, sir,” she said, her mind searching for a proper insult, “Are no braver than a bullypig!”

Gavin scoffed, and the tips of his ears twitched. He had heard something and it was nearby--the crunching of snow, footsteps.

“Lady Lavina,” Gavin said, “Hide--quickly! Someone approaches.”

Lavina cocked an eyebrow confused, for moments before he was being the backend of a mule.

“Do not play games,” she snapped, “You’re frightening me!”

It was the Sol Elf’s turn to hush her. His eyes shot back and forth as he put his back to the wall of the house. His demeanor caught her off guard. She realized he wasn’t in the middle of a sour jest--he was serious.

Lavina ducked into the frame of the wrecked building, falling to her knees, she hid behind a low stone wall, which a small portion of crumbled as she bumped against it. Her heart hammered in her chest with such force she was sure it would either burst out or at the very least crack her ribs. She tried to listen over the pounding but still heard nothing. She couldn’t even hear Gavin. Had he abandoned her after all? Surely not!

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 could not tell of what race the ones with hoods were, but the majority had sickly green skin. Lavina could not be sure, never having seen one before but with their tusks, under bites and dirty yellow eyes, it could be 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 that looked far too shiny and organized for a typical battle party of the brutes.

The leader of the pack collapsed into the snow as a nearby bow fwipped. Gavin’s arrow had struck dead into the jugular of that first unfortunate Orc, and the second 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 counter attack, 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 after 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 dozen marauders wasted no more time. They all left the alley and rampaged after Gavin. But the four dark ones stayed.

Lavina thanked her lucky moons that the Orcs had actually followed Gavin in his attempt to lure them away, however she did not feel so lucky that the four most menacing ones remained. She could have slain some of the Orcs with a Fire bolt spell or two, maybe even a Shocking Wave, but the four who now stood around their fallen companions seemed much more powerful. Something dark was about them, something that permeated the air making it very difficult to breathe.

At first the innocent half-elf thought the figures meant to help their fallen comrades. Perhaps they would cast a Healing Bubble? Or at least speak to them their final rites? But it dawned on her that was certainly not the case. The four figures all knelt beside separate bodies and began ravaging the corpses with their bone claws. Lavina sucked in a gasp and held it as she paralyzed with terror, watched them rip apart the fallen Orcs, flesh, blood and innards spraying the white snow, forever staining the area with crimson. She could not take her eyes away no matter how gory the scene. A lump formed in her throat, and she gave it her best attempt not to vomit, especially when they began shoving chunks of meat into their covered faces. What on Anhsook were they!?

It was not the best time for that first mysterious sound to return, the one from the building she not hid in. But return it did, and right behind her tiny hiding place. Debris behind the girl shifted and she turned her head around expecting to see a fifth hooded being ready to tear her limb from limb, but instead she sound a small mound of dirt rising from the snow. At first pebbles rolled and bounced to her feet as if a tiny mountain was forming before her--then a stone colored hand exploded out and grasped around in a blind attempt to grab anything nearby. It was all she could do not to scream and alert the murderous creatures across the way. She dared a look back at the four and a portion of her nightmare came to pass. The cannibalistic ones all had turned their heads in her direction and she could see the tiny blue pinpricks of eyes searching for the sound. Had they heard the shifting rubble!? Could they pick up her scent? She cursed herself for wearing her Amber Rose perfume she liked so. If they had sensed her at all, they hadn’t cared, for they stood in silence and walked back down the alley from whence they came, leaving bloody footprints all the way.

One threat was gone and Lavina suddenly realized she couldn’t breathe. She opened her mouth and sucked in the frozen, brisk air that caused her lungs to burn. She squealed as the flailing hand grabbed the tip of her boot. In an instant she pulled her knees to her chest, whimpering--she was barely out of reach and was cornered, unable to flee. Just then the ground around the hand gave way and sunk in, but then just as fast rose up in a geyser of rock, wood and dirt. What looked to be a horned helmet had emerged from the sinking pit; followed by a barrel-chested armored torso complete with two iron-plated arms. From beneath helmet she could see glowing yellow orbs of light.

The poor half-elf child had reached her limit. She screamed in terror. The man, if that was what it could be called--for he had been buried beneath the ground--was covered in skin-tight armor that seemed to hug the contours of his every muscle, and plenty of muscle did he have. If he were flesh and not the color of faded limestone she may have blushed at his almost naked form. It wasn’t a normal creature she knew that right away. It looked as if he were an iron golem--something she had only read about in books, and if her memory served her correctly they were mindless and emotionless creations of ancient sorcerers. It’s glowing eyes locked onto her and the metal around its lips rippled like liquid mythril. Then its expression transformed as if it had skin--it opened its mouth in a gasp revealing what looked like the inside of a living creatures mouth, but instead silver.

Before Lavina could react further two pairs of filthy mitts grabbed her under the arms and dragged her over the wall, which fell away to dust. The half-elf kicked and screamed sending more dust into the air, but she could not get free. The hands were strong and they belonged to a duo of the Moonbearer Orcs. But then where was Gavin!? Opening her mouth to scream, her only hope was that her ‘personal guard’ would come running to her rescue, arrows flying. But her hopes could not hold up as one of the hands smacked her across the face knocking her senseless. For a moment the world spun and went dark.

The steel-man rose from the ground, a towering giant of at least eight feet tall. A grime-covered Orc stared up at him, unsure of what to do. The other jabbed an elbow into his stunned companion and grunted in the guttural language of his people. The stunning ended; the silent Orc reached onto his back and drew the obsidian battle-axe. Lavina didn’t make bets, for she detested such habits, but if she had to she would place everything on the steel-man. The question was, who was he going to slay first, she or the Orcs?

The Orc came on in a flash with a sidelong swing of his death-bringing weapon. But the steel-man had amazing reflexes and was ready. His hand shot out grabbing a broken wooden beam, snapping it free of the building’s framework, and swung like a game of Firebolt Ball. The impromptu weapon gave a sharp crack and splintered along the Orc’s skull. Its head snapped to the side and the ugly humanoid fell over quite dead.

The other Orc still held Lavina in place, but she could feel the fear in its grasp, its fingers clenching in an uneasy rhythm. Without averting its gaze it reached back for its axe as well. But then the metal man surprised them again. It spoke in a voice not so unlike a young man.

“Let. Her. Go.” it put emphasis on each word.

A sinister smile spread from one Orc ear to the other as it instead drew a dagger, also made of obsidian and held it tight to the terrified girl’s throat. The edge was so fine an accidental drop of hot blood was spilt and rolled down her thin neck. It was the last mistake the Orc would ever make. For the giant charged like a raging bull--something the marauder hadn’t been expecting. A large hand shot out, one that could easily cover the Orc’s head. The steel-man grabbed and stole the fool from his spot. Lavina dropped to the snow-covered ground and the momentum of the giant continued. Together they went, the Orc carried by the behemoth. They went right across the road and into the opposite wall, which shuddered under a force that shook the ground beneath Lavina.

When the dust cleared the Orc was hanging by its head, buried in a crater that now existed in the building’s outer wall. The girl did not know if she should feel joy or accept a similar death was coming for her. She let out a whimper, one she figured was her last, and tried to crawl back.

“W-What are y-you?” she asked in a tiny, and scared voice.

The steel-man hesitated, looking down at its hands and arms as if it had never seen them before. He looked back up at Lavina and shook his head, speaking once again,

“I don’t know.”

 

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Component 02: Identities

COMPONENT 02: IDENTITIES

 

Lavina wasn’t sure if she should flee screaming or try to talk to the living chunk of metal. She watched; ready to flee as the creature examined itself. There was little chance to outrun a creature so fast and ferocious.

Curious... it only looked at its hands, and tested each finger, then each toe. It touched the horns sticking from its head, then glanced over its shoulder and shook its head.

The half-elf’s fear faded when the living statue fell to its knees and made sounds as if it were sobbing. Lavina didn't believe her ears. Why was something so powerful crying? The sound of metal scraping together filled the air.

It then saw the girl staring, and she only stared back, expressionless.

Inside its iron skull, everything was fuzzy. Once it had been flesh and bone, but male or female? And how old? No other memories were returning.

He must know. “What am I?”

She hadn’t one and was as still as a statue herself, eyes wide and unblinking. A few moments passed in silence and she mustered the courage to speak.

“W-Well met, um, sir?” She guessed he was male, given his physique. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what you are. A golem I guess?”

She looked confused to him, and he accepted defeat. The girl didn’t know him. So he sat on the ground with a loud thunk and crossed his legs under him. With each movement gears ticked. Was it normal, he wondered? Was he broken?

After a try at a deep breath, he realized he couldn’t. No air traveled in or out. Breathing wasn’t something a golem did.

With a resound sigh he tried to wrack his brain, and at the least, he could do that—think.

Lavina looked past the depressed machine in search of Gavin. He was nowhere in sight, but her sensitive elf ears picked up on more orc cries, but she wasn’t able to tell if they were shouts of triumph or pain and death. She hoped the latter. Either way, the girl was ready to leave and find him. He might need her help.

“Well...” She lowered her head. “Thank you for saving me, but I need to um... get going.”

Lavina tried to edge away, but the mechanical man looked up and trembled, his yellow eye-orbs quivering. How could she leave the poor thing?

***

Gavin ran through the snow-laden streets careful with every step. He wanted the orcs to continue following him, but only so far. He needed room to hide. And shoot arrows. It was his only chance against six well-armed opponents.

One nearby orc spoke in its native tongue, sounding excited, and stupid. Orcs always sounded stupid.

The elf assumed that meant they had fallen into the trap and picked up his tracks. It was time to hide. In the next narrow alley, he regretted his decision. He needed to lure and pick each off as they came, one at a time.

The crafty elf darted and ducked behind a collapsed pile of bricks and drew his longbow once more, nocking an arrow into place.

He peered along the shaft, waiting. “Show yourselves, you dirty troll-kissers.”

The first of said 'troll-kissers' appeared in the entrance and as it gave a battle cry. An arrow drove into the unfortunate creature’s mouth and severed its spine. Before the body fell, the next orc pushed it aside.

Gavin snapped his hand back searching the quiver for an arrow, and his heart weakened. The arrows ran out. How had he allowed that to happen?

“Fetter!” he cursed through his teeth.

Gavin spun and retreated through the alley. How was he going to kill five more orcs? The only other weapon he carried was a dagger! The elf didn’t think himself so crafty as he turned the corner and his worries increased tenfold. A handful of steps in front of him was a tall brick wall. There was no way out.

***

Only five of them left. Four male Orcs and one female. Gonzeelda was not an eyesore, with perfect skin; not a single blemish.

She led the pack because of that pristine image. The others worshipped the ground her upon which her light green feet walked.

That loyalty suffered no tests even though she had just sent two of her best warriors into the alley; only to see one slaughtered. He couldn’t even finish a cry to their orc god, Torchwood.

She held up her thin hand, which was smooth with long delicate fingers.

The last two warriors halted. They were her absolute best, and what a waste to watch them die with the off chance they could succeed. Her client's anger didn't cause concern. Better to keep her lovers than send them to their deaths.

“Madam Gonzeelda?” The taller of the two warriors stepped forward. “Why you stop? We kill and eat that elf!”

“You’ll only die.” She watched the grunt walk the alley taking slow, cautious footsteps.

“Not true!” the broader and more muscular orc protested.

“Hush,” Gonzeelda hushed, “and see.”

The confused pair of warriors obeyed their commanding mistress. If they questioned further, she might inflict great pain on them.

Gonzeelda watched her third prized orc turn a corner in the alley. A few heartbeats later, she sighed.

“We leave.” She turned, leaving her bare footprints in the snow and not feeling the slightest tinge of coldness. She never felt frigid. There were those who said she had ice affinity in her blood.

“Huh?” the tall orc referred to their alley friend. “Wenk not come back!”

“Wenk is dead,” deep anger in carried in her voice. She kept walking.

“Send me!”

“No Budge!” She didn't turn. “You come with me! And you too Weiggs!”

The wide Orc, Weiggs, burst into laughter as he looked at his ally. “Mistress tell you!”

“Shuddup!” Budge grumbled back.

Gonzeelda continued walking and didn’t stop to look back at the idiots. To follow the elf, meant to die. She had reservations finding new mates. Such talent did not come easy. But to her satisfaction, they both followed as lost ferry dogs.

***

Gavin held a hand over his foolish enemy’s mouth. It struggled for its life, but the elf held him too tight. Then that elf slipped the gold handled dagger into the orc’s lung and lowered his dying captive as it convulsed and ran out of breath.

As an elf, Gavin could hear the other orcs with ease. Three pairs of feet crunched away. Two booted trails, and one barefoot. That was the female he was sure. And he felt sick to think an he found an orc appealing to the eye.

As the steps faded, he breathed a sigh of relief and smiled. That one had been far too close.

The elf examined the dead, wart-covered orc. Its gaze still stared straight into nothing. Gavin took his hand and closed the eyes of the dead creature. He had no respect for orcs; they oft attempted to raid Windale. But he had respect for the dead, no matter what race or species. As he stood he spotted a shiny disk under the dead one’s tunic.

“What have we here?” Gavin lifted the disk, pulling it off of a golden chain.

Gavin rubbed the blood off with his thumb and flipped it around, finding numbers engraved into the back—A backward three and an inverted four. Both were characters in an ancient orc dialect. This revelation caused Gavin to cock his head.

“Blood Tomb?” Gavin remembered the clan’s name.

The memories of the war they incited came to him—ones where they took over the southern lands across the ocean. But the clan of religious fanatics had vanished without a trace three hundred centuries ago.

***

“Are you all right?” Lavina examined the iron-creature.

He pounded his fist into the ground. “Do I look all right?”

“N-No. But can I help?”

He stopped brooding and looked up at her again. “Give me a name.”

Lavina recoiled. What name to give a living machine?

“Well...” She looked over him over and took careful steps around the poor artificial thing.

The girl stopped and spotted something carved on the back of his neck. With caution, she tried to rub away the dirt crusting around the word.

“What are you doing?” He went to swat the girl away.

“Hold on!” She smacked his hand. He was too shocked to respond.

The archeologist discovered legible letters written in Divinity, the tongue of the gods.

“A-N-G-O-N,” she read the letters aloud.

“What?” The machine looked back. “What did you spell?”

“Your name.” Lavina walked before him. “Let’s call you Angon.”

The name resonated with him and gave a warm sensation in his core. It was... right.

Angon stood and towered over the tiny half-elf. “Well met. I am Angon.”

Lavina bowed her head. “I’m Lavina Mistystar. Where are you going to go?”

Angon looked around noticing no love for the bleak winter city, and if he had any, he couldn’t remember. His gaze landed back on Lavina Mistystar.

“For now...” He shrugged. “with you.”

 

 

 

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Component 03: Agreement

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