Date: Petalspread 9, 1098 IR (Imperial Reckoning)
Location: The Weald, The Duchy of Coryn, Southeast of the town of Drakesbury
On a bright spring day, a party from the school at Sunfire Abbey sets out deep into the Weald for a lesson in herbalism. The students are around sixteen years of age, on the verge of adulthood, in their last year at the school for most of them. They are a precociously suave Human boy named Samael, a curious Elf girl named Holly, an angry Half-Orc boy named Ira, an apparently Human boy named Xook, and a very pretty Human girl named Lorelei. Their teacher is Brother Jerome an elderly cenobite from the Abbey with his young Deva assistant Oris. Accompanying the little party is Wil, a lay servant from the abbey, wearing a red leather jack and armed with a stout oaken club.
The day is pleasant, the first day of true spring after the cold rains of Greentide have given way to the warm clear days of Petalspread. The small band come across a grove of hawthorn trees in full bloom, the white flowers brilliant in the sunlight. The shattering of the mood is abrupt and ugly as the point of a spear emerges from the center of Wil’s chest, leaving him staring down at it in incomprehension. As Wil’s form slumps, misshapen figures burst from the woods, savage creatures with greyish green skin, course black hair and sharp tusks – bloodthirsty Orcs.
Brother Jerome urges the children to fly, and he too takes an orc spear through the heart. Ira is the first to move, drawing a pair of daggers and launching himself at the nearest Orc with a furious growl. Not to be outdone, Holly pulls the spear from Wil’s back and rushes to his side.
Xook slips behind a tree and his features flow and change, taking on the semblance of an Orc. He runs towards one of the orcs and grunts emphatically, but incoherently. As the other orc looks at him perplexed he finds a Xook’s dagger planted in his belly.
As an Orc advances on Samael and Lorelei, Samael stands rigid and suddenly blinding light bursts from his fingertips, striking an Orc and arcing to strike another. Another Orc approaches from behind and Samael turns and light bursts from his fingertips again, stunning but not killing the orc. As an act of spite, the Orc’s axe cleaves open Lorelei’s skull before more searing light engulfs him and burns him to a cinder.
The serene expression on Oris’ face does not change as he gestures gracefully and sudden thunder erupts from his hand to take a pair of Orcs, hurling them backwards. A few moments later the battle is over. The bodies of dead orcs lie at the feet of the bloodied Holly and Ira, and others lie in smoldering piles.
As the small group stands there stunned and panting, grieving for their fallen friends, a group of Bounders, the Ducal boundary watch, comes upon them too late. The Bounders escort the students and their teaching assistant back to the Abbey, and take up the bodies of their slain comrades, lying covered in white petals beneath a hawthorn tree.. The Orcs, they strip and leave for the wolves.
Later that evening, after their wounds have been tended to, they slip out one by one and end up in the Orc’s Head, a nearby pub. Little is said as they drink their ale, but the look in their eyes has changed, an unspoken bond forged in death and danger.