Queensdale’s Bandit and Centaur Problem.

Alucardalina Claire
Chapters 1-4

Tyria was a changed land. I remembered when Ascalon was home to the humans and when striders roamed the flower topped hills. Dwarves still dwelled in the underground and shiverpeaks and I was still a young teen. That’s about all I remember though, and not even much of it. Upon the awakening of the elder dragons I had lost most of my memory. I woke up in the home of a kind family in Divinity Reach’s Salma district, no recollection of anything more than the beautiful Ascalon I had grown up in. My body remained youthful and my facade was unchanged. It was as if the past was just a pleasant dream I couldn’t let go of. My new family had me believing it was one as well and told me not to mention these things to to the townsfolk, lest they think my mind had left. Amnesia is a terrible affliction.

The reports of centaur attacks were becoming numerous and the general panic was offset by the year round carnival. It seemed like they were preparing for something big and the excitement had risen in the past week alone. Confetti fell from the sky like snowflakes by the carnival, it was a wonder how they kept the streets from becoming flooded by the colorful precipitation. I suppose this was the kind of happiness people needed in these dark times. The great collapse took a devastating toll on Divinity’s Reach; we lost many of our Canthan friends, and not to mention the number of people and houses we had lost to the centaurs. The Dragons’ rising was the worst news. With the air of the carnival around, it was easier to cope and pretend everything was peachy.

I couldn’t ignore it, though. A flame burned in my heart to get out and avenge my fallen friends. I wanted to join the soldiers in fighting off the centaurs. I finally had my own home, and I could make decisions for myself. Even if my family didn’t approve, I was going out to fight these beasts. When night fell, I changed from my town clothes to my armor. My previous armor had been too destroyed when I was found to wear again, and it was a pity, too, as it was my favorite armor. Elementalist armor wasn’t very protective as it was based more on giving power, so it didn’t look too much different than my town clothing. In the end, it gave me just enough vitality to keep going. As soon as I was dressed, I let my white silver hair from the buns they had previously been in, causing the wavy mass to fall to my shoulders. Grabbing my new wand, I wandered from the tranquil Divinity’s Reach into Queensdale.

Even before I got out of the walls, I heard the raid that was currently happening. Once I got out there, I saw the battle for what it was. Centaur were mercilessly attacking soldiers, townsfolk, and even livestock. Buildings were burning and blood had been spilled everywhere. I asked a nearby soldier where I could help and he quickly told me that I could provide assistance at the garrison. Before I could get to the bridge, a couple of centaurs surrounded me, leaving me no escape. It was time to see how my magic had fared since the amnesia.

I swung my wand around, quickly realizing that I had forgotten everything I knew about wand work and fire magic. The wand sent a flare out, as it would for any Elementalist wielding it. I had to rely on that as I concentrated on remembering anything else. The flares barely hit the centaurs, but even still the smell of burning fur reached my nostrils. It was a familiar smell, reminding me that I had fought centaurs once before. This was no new thing.

Seeing my struggle, a fellow volunteer came to aid me. He was a warrior, and it took no time at all for him to bring one of the centaurs down. I kept my eye on a single centaur at that point. Their blades slashing across my own pale skin. I backed up out of the opening the warrior had created for me and cast my magic away from the blades of our enemy. Together, we cut down the centaurs and made our way into the garrison. The sight of more centaurs on the opposite side of the fort greeted us as the doors behind us closed. It left me with the sense of being trapped. It was time to remember my magic and get through this disaster. I rushed to the door, joining other volunteers and soldiers alike to fend off the beasts. While I threw the flames at the many enemies upon us, an idea came to me. If I couldn’t remember my old spells, I could always try new ones.

I waved my scepter around, concentrating on what I wanted it to do. With the right wand movements, I could conjure something new. I tried several things and nothing seemed to work. Instead of holding up the fight to learn something new, I practiced, for the time being, with what I already knew the wand could do. I helped fight off several centaurs before the answer came to me. As it did, a centaur in the back had managed to conjure something himself. The ground quaked with might and the earth bore two giant stone hands. Everyone began to panic or stayed grounded in awe; I was the first to run forward and attack the hulking earth head on. With a single movement of my scepter, a dragons tooth appeared above the beast and proceeded to crash down into it, creating an explosion and chipping some of the rock from the hands. Everywhere around me, people began joining in to help. The rock showered down on us, leaving us with lashes, cuts, and bruises.

Then I noticed something next to the hands; Logan Thackeray had joined us in battle. He may have been there all along, but with all the excitement and the cacophony of battle had deafened me and kept my attention on the enemy. It wasn’t surprising with him being the commanding officer of the Seraph that he was there. I can’t say I really much cared for him after hearing that he abandoned his friends in the fight against the dragon Kralkatorrik. He chipped away at the elementals the earth produced around us, and I focused still on the hands themselves. They were becoming more violent and began pounding soldiers into the ground and knocking other several feet away. I narrowly missed these attacks, dodging and rolling on the ground to escape each one just in time.

Suddenly, the earth began to shake more furiously. I could hear Logan shouting, but I couldn’t tell exactly what he was saying. Everything seemed garbled and fuzzy. Before I knew what was happening, the hands exploded, the shock wave sending me flying backwards and stones pelted my body. Everything went dark.

I awoke in a warm room basking in the sunlight through the window. The cot was hard and uncomfortable, but my head hurt and I didn’t want to move. I simply lay there with my eyes closed. I could hear coughing and sobs of pain around me. I must have been in the home of a healer. Something must have hit my head when the hands exploded. Eventually I sat up and was immediately greeted by a priestess.

“Ah, you’re awake!” She smiled and exclaimed. She gave me a cold cloth for my head.

“Where am I? What happened?” I asked her, briskly putting the cloth to the large bump on my head.

“You were injured when the elemental exploded. Captain Thackeray brought you here personally. You’ve been unconscious for three days,” the priestess responded in a kind voice, “You had lots of visitors: villagers you rescued, some Seraph, and even nobles from the city.”

“What can I do about this…wound?” I questioned.

“Fresh air and exercise are the best medicine. The goddess Dwayna helped you. Perhaps you could help others?” She retorted with a smile and took the cloth as I handed it to her.

I replied, “Thanks, you know, I think I will. Thank you for taking care of me.”

“Bless you. You’ll find plenty to do out in the valley. May Dwayna protect you.” And with that, she bid me off.

I stood up, though I was a little dizzy, and exited the building into the green fields of Shaemoor. The sun beat down on the cool land, illuminating every detail, from the beautiful daisies to the large dam. This land was nothing like the dreams I had at night, but it was beautiful none-the-less. I longed to find more of my past, and I planned to set out on a journey to travel Tyria to do so. I would return to Ascalon in hopes of triggering anything. The gods have kept me alive for so long. It’s obvious they expect something from me, and perhaps my past will tell me just what that is.

I brushed the dirt from my armor and ran my fingers through my hair to catch any tangles before I approached the doors of Divinity’s Reach. As I approached, the guards opened the massive doors, exposing the festive city I had become used to. I was only here to get the rest of my important belongings, I didn’t want to delay my adventure any longer. Sneaking out of the city before any of my acquaintances saw me was top priority. This adventure was meant for me, and me only. Anyone else joining would just slow me down and I knew I had some rather clingy acquaintances.

I walked cautiously through the city, keeping a close eye on everything that moved. I took a right and joined the dense crowd of the bank. I quickly found an open teller box and stepped in front of it. The Asura behind the box could barely see over the counter, even with a crate under her feet.

“Why are you bothering me?” She lashed at me. I was never really on good terms with any Asura as I didn’t particularly care for their attitudes. On their ranks, I was probably the lowest.

“Erm… Well I needed to withdraw all of my money.” I said, caught a little off guard at that point. I twiddled my thumbs and clarified, “You can find my name under Alucardalina Claire.”

“Identifying papers?” the banker snapped and threw out her sausage like hand. I shuffled through my bag hurriedly to find the small set of papers. I dismayed at the crumpled edges of the paper as I handed them over. She checked the papers and then rechecked the papers again. I impatiently began twiddling my thumbs again. She checked them for a third time, throwing a nasty glance towards me. Finally she handed them back with a “You should take better care of your papers, bookah” and a scoff and headed towards the back. This time I replaced the papers in the bag in between the pages of a book~ A travel diary to be exact. In it, I had recorded every big event that had happened to me since my new life began. My ‘parents’ thought that it may help me remember who I was.

The teller came back with a satchel of money and reluctantly handed it over. I gave a slight bow and walked away quickly, wanting to get away from the rude Asura as quickly as I could. Storing the satchel in my bag, I sneaked to the Salma District, where it would be more difficult to sneak around successfully. Upon entering the doors of the District, I tightened my bag around me and walked close to the buildings, beyond my normal route home. I passed between the orphanage and Cottage Bend and headed towards manor hill. I saw then that my house was blocked off by some rich gent or lady’s party. I sighed in defeat and turned back. It was then that I heard a familiar voice. Lord Faren was calling me. I cringed.

“Oi! Claire! We’ve been looking everywhere for you! You were going to miss your own party?” He called.

“N-No. Not at all. I was just headed over, but I forgot to get something in the market. Er, would you mind if I go back and get it?” I asked, trying to make any excuse to leave.

“Nonsense! I’ll have one of the servants go back and retrieve it for you.”

“Er… It’s personal, Faren, I’d rather get it-“

“It’s not a problem. The servants are very discreet.” He retorted, slapping a hand onto my back.

“When did you tell me about this party again?” I asked, not remembering it at all. I hadn’t even spoken to Faren in weeks.

“At the healer’s! You don’t remember?” He puzzled, obviously in concern.

I sighed, “No, my mind seems to have been gone then. I don’t remember a thing.”

“That amnesia is going to get you killed one day.” Faren warned, “But we should get to the party. Some of the other heroes are there from the Centaur battle, the ones that could make it anyways.”

So I attended the party. There were several nobles there. My manners wouldn’t allow me to stay in the shadows the whole time, and I couldn’t find a chance to sneak away from the party. It seemed like wherever I was, Faren was bound to follow. Everyone was calling me a hero, and it didn’t’ sit well. I had only helped in a small cause. The centaur were bound to be back anytime for another raid. They could even summon something bigger the next time. As the day progressed into evening, I pretended to be too tired to go on. It took several minutes for my act to catch on, other heroes began excusing themselves. Faren finally told me to go home and get some rest, as he was going to go get sleep himself. I finished cramming the deviled moa egg down my throat and turned to head home.

Fate would have it that I would not leave just yet. From behind me, I first thought I was being called again. On second look, I realized that it was someone screaming. Bandits had raided our seemingly peaceful neighborhood. I whipped my scepter out faster than I ever remembered having done. Hitting one of the bandits with a flare seemed to have caught him by surprise. No doubt that they had waited for all the ‘heroes’ to leave the party, leaving the nobles and servants helpless. This moment of surprise gave the rest of crowd to escape the range of the group of bandits, leaving me to deal with them by my lonesome.

“Don’t come any closer!” I shouted to them, more out of fear than courage. I heard a gunshot and the bullet whizzing past my right ear.

“Fine, you asked for it,” I muttered under my breath. I proceeded to cast the same spell I did on the giant earth elemental. A dragon tooth hovered above the group of bandits and it was as if none of them could see it. Bullets continued to fly past me; a bullet grazed my right, stinging as it left. I kept my concentration up long enough to finish the spell. The dragon tooth came crashing down upon them, sending each bandit flying backwards. Some of their trousers on fire.

I approached one of the bandits, who quickly turned submissive.

“Please don’t kill me. I’ll do anything!” He cried as I grabbed his collar.

“Why are you here?” I demanded to know from him.

“We were ordered to take Lord Faren for ransom and rob the rest of the nobles.”

“Where is Faren?!” I shouted, concerned for Faren’s well being.

“He’s-” A bullet landed in left temple. He died instantly. The bullet had come from the pistol of one of his comrades who proceeded to kill herself.

“Faren,” I whispered and gripped my wand. My journey would have to wait just a bit longer. I jumped the fence into the middle of the district and began my search for my noble acquaintance Faron.

My boots shuffled effortlessly through the matte cobbled streets. The last rays of sunlight barely leapt the walls and the elementalist guards were already lighting the street lamps. Most of the civilians had already gone to their homes. It was never very wise to stay out on the streets at night for the very reason I was going out. My silvery hair bounced upon my shoulders, my eyes focused on each place I passed, and my small body running forward. All of these things working seamlessly together in a particular rhythm it had created on its own. My hand clutched my wand and my fear of battle had vanished completely. The only anxiety I felt now was the idea of not being able to bring Faren back.

“Where do you think you’re running off to, missy?” Sneered a bandit who had been fronting as a merchant until this occasion. He drew his two daggers, their blades gleaming in the light of a nearby street light.

Another dagger appeared around my throat the next minute; the thief wielding it spoke softly next to my ear, “Jacques, haven’t you ever learned that the shadows give you the element of surprise? Come join me in them, it’s not like you get that much from that merchant act anyways.” She pulled me in, restricting my arms. My weapon began slipping from my hand. “Drop your weapon,” the thief hummed to me.

Just before my weapon slipped from my hand, I was able to tap into its power enough to send a small spark into her knee. She flinched and as I made my escape, the dagger nicked the skin of my neck. In one fell swoop, I grabbed my wand from the ground and dashed backwards.

“You’ll pay for that,” she sighed. I barely had time to raise my wand before she shadow stepped to the front of me. I darted to the side. Feeling my energy draining, I knew I couldn’t dodge her attacks for much longer; It was time to do something. I raised my wand again and she still managed to appear to close to me for my liking. This time I assaulted her face with the end of my scepter. It bought me some time to take few steps back and scald her with a spell.

I had thoroughly forgotten about the other bandit in my squabble with the thief. He wasn’t hard to take out and it had just taken one flare to scare him off. I pressed my hand to my collar to see how bad the cut was. The knife had only cut through the skin, leaving everything else intact. I pulled my bloody fingers back and wiped them off onto an handkerchief from my pocket. It was time to press onwards. I decided to play it safe since the last few fights I had only made it through on pure luck. I followed the bandits for several hours. It was obvious that they were trying to lead anyone from their true trail. I refused to give up and followed each bandit I saw, who were trademarked by their tattoos and dusty clothing. Eventually someone had lead me exactly where I wanted to be. It was a home not too far from the Orphanage. It seemed to be where the bandits emptied their pockets. Each of them would enter with pockets jingling and come out silent. I hid behind a bridge pylon for a moment when the home seemed to have no bandits within it. When I saw it, I ran in with my wand at the ready.

It was a seemingly normal looking home. There was seating for a family, a kitchen with the table set for four. It was warm, inviting, and oh so misleading. I didn’t see anyone in the downstairs so I progressed upwards. It wasn’t unusual for a home in the Salma district to have three, or even four, stories. If an enemy attacked me from above, they would have the advantage. It was a little distracting, and I kept staring at the next staircase rather than searching the rooms. I progressed up the last flight of stairs and heard the chink of money being poured from a sack and onto a table.

Taking the words, of all people, of the thief as advice, I kept hidden as I sneaked around the doorway. My heart leapt as I saw Faren tied up and tossed into the corner of the room. He was scratched up but didn’t look as if any real harm had befallen him. In the middle of the room sat two bandits counting money on an aspen desk.

I silently attacked the one closest to me with a burst of flame. Fire spread around the room and the bandits stepped out of the way of the flames. For a brief moment I had sent them into a panic. I used this time to cast my flare. The Dragon’s Tooth wouldn’t work here with the low roof, so I had to rely on the fire around them and the flamestrike. I had to finish the battle quickly before Faren’s life became endangered by the growing flames. My flares were battling their daggers and guns.It didn’t seem to be a very fair fight, but bandits never were fair. One of them was right on me, his daggers slashing into my clothing and skin. I learned to dodge his attacks a little better as I drew him into the hallway. As soon as I got the chance, I pushed him down the flight of stairs. I then focused my attention on the other bandit. I wasn’t very good at dodging bullets, but somehow I was lucky enough to move through them. Instead of hitting, they would whiz around and past me as I danced through my spell castings.

I brought him down just before the flames had reached Faren. I rushed to his side and untied him.

“I can’t thank you enough,” He gasped as I took the gag from his mouth.

“No time for that, Faren. Let’s go.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him forward. We sprinted down the first staircase to find that the next one was cut off by scorching flames. I looked around for an escape and found a window. It was just big enough for us to get through. I threw a pot through it, shattering the window entirely. Running forward, I stepped onto the sill.

“We’ll have to jump!” I shouted to Faren. I heard a thud beside me and turned to the room. Faren had just knocked out the bandit I had thrown down the stairs. Faren nodded and was the first to jump from the window. I followed suit and rolled when I hit the street. As we ran towards home, I saw the Elementalist guards had already arrived to put out the now massive fire. Faren and I didn’t stop running until we arrived at my house. I opened the door to find that the bandits had already been through my home. Papers scattered the floor, lamps were broken, drawers taken from their chests and dumped onto the floor.

“They had planned to take you, too.” He looked up to me, “I’m sorry all of this happened.”

“There’s no reason for you to apologize. I have to be honest though,” I said and entered my home to assess the damage, “I was planning on leaving tonight.”

“Leaving?! Why?” Faren questioned, grabbing my shoulders.

“I have to find out what really happened in my past. I’m going to Ascalon to find any clues, to find answers.” I told him with a sigh. I took his hands in mine and looked him dead in the eye, “I have to do this alone though. It’s too dangerous, so don’t even think of following me.”

“Too dangerous for me? Nonsense!” he boasted.

“I just had to rescue you from a group of bandits, I want you to stay home for a while. Ask the Seraph for protection.”

“Oh, that’s right, Logan Thackery wanted to meet with you personally. You weren’t home when he came by so he gave me the message.”

“That will have to wait, Faren. I can’t keep putting this journey off.”

“I see. Will you write me at least? You did save my life and I can’t help but to think that we are connected somehow.”

“Sure thing. I don’t know how much I will be able to or how long it will take to get back to you, but I will write. After all, we are friends right?” I responded. It was the first time I had ever considered someone my friend since my amnesia. His face lit up with a broad smile.

I gathered the rest of my things that night and spent the night in Faren’s home. The next morning, he bid me farewell and I traveled to the upper city. I would use the Asuran gate to enter Lions Arch and sneak through the Black Citadel’s portal into Ascalon. Stepping through the portal in Divinity’s reach was like moving through a wall of water. The smell of sweet grass and daisies left my nostrils only to be replaced with the salty smell of the ocean. I tightened my bag around me and walked through the Grand Piazza towards the portal to the Black Citadel. On arrival though, I saw many tiny bodies working on the portal and even more impatient Charr looking as if they would love to grill the Asura if they had to wait any longer.

My heart sank and I turned around. I could wait at a tavern until the portal was fixed and risk being killed by a Charr on sight, or I could instead travel through Hoelbrak in the Shiverpeak mountains and descend them into Ascalonian territory. I chose the latter and entered the gate to Hoelbrak.

Chapter One: End

Alucardalina Claire
Chapters 1-4
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