It had been Cobb’s original plan to stay awake through the night, but the long hard days of walking and fighting had utterly exhausted him, and he found himself nodding off long before the first light tickled the horizon.

After what seemed like an eternity of restless dreams, most of them involving Sheriff Tyler’s long-dead body at a formal dinner party, a sharp sound awoke Cobb from his slumber. He saw a dark figure silhouetted against the rising sun and, instinctively, he let loose with a double blast of his sixguns. The figure fell to the ground, gasping and gurgling, but when Peyton jumped up from the opposite side of the fire, Cobb realized he’d made a terrible mistake.

Peyton darted over to the fallen intruder, kneeling over him. Cobb followed a moment later, numb, but still staying out of the range encompassed by the orc’s massive fists. The visitor was clearly breathing her last, a bloody foam upon her lips. Cobb had never seen anyone who looked quite like her; the sharp ears argued for an elf, but her olive skin and impressive build seemed far more orcish. Her clothing was scandalously scanty by the standards of Smokewood, and a mix of linen breeches with far more rustic leather fittings. She was extremely striking, and watching her final moments and the pain that was writ across those features made Cobb sick to his stomach.

After a few moments, the stranger let out a final rattle and was still. Peyton, moving slowly so as not to alarm Cobb, crossed her arms over her chest and took up a loose end of her cloak to lay over her face.

“I…I didn’t…I thought…”

“I know what you thought,” Peyton said. “You saw something green and you thought it was old Peyton Grosh come to make your sleep permanent. And now you’ve gone and snatched the life out of someone who might have just wanted to help us.”

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