Our journey to help was only a short distance away; we followed the Charr to an almost enclosed area. Several small explosions pounded the ground in front of the rather small location. It was filled with machinery that buzzed and clanked, barely audible thanks to the explosions caused by the warring felines in the area. Ragnvaldr quickly took his bow in hand and marked his targets without hesitation. I, however, had trouble figuring out which Charr I was supposed to be driving away. I stood around and tried to survey the differences between the Charr forces when one approached me.
“What are you doing just standing there?” He yelled. I opened my mouth to ask how to tell them apart, but shut it just as soon. It would have been offensive to ask such a thing. “You look weak anyway,” the Charr snarled. “Keep our troops stocked with ammo. You’ll find it in the crates back there.”
I was thankful to be given such an easy but important job. I didn’t have to fight, but I was carrying more ammo in my arms than I felt I could hold up. Charr claws grabbed at the ammo and I just hoped that I was giving it to the correct team. Running back and forth, I began to understand which side was the Flame Legion, mostly because they were spellcasters. I continued supplying the Charr until the numbers began to dwindle down. Sweat ran down my cheeks as I worked. Ragnvaldr had a look of determination on his face; he was in the heat of battle and loved every second of it. As I watched him, a Charr grabbed at the ammo in my arms. His claws slid down my skin and the pain of it made me drop the ammo in front of me. The Charr looked back to me as if I had done something wrong. As I picked it back up, they were taking care of the last few Flame Legion.
“That’s right, Flame Legion, run back to your mothers!” Cried one of the felines and other jeers followed as the last few ran away from the battle. I slouched over and dropped the ammo to the metallic floors. Ragnvaldr came over and looked as if nothing at all had happened. He hadn’t even broken a sweat like I had. It had stopped raining, and I was beginning to wish it hadn’t. The cool water would have been refreshing.
“Now I can tell my sister I’ve fought off a whole Charr Legion,” He boasted as I sat down, “I’ll bet she’s never done that.” I gave him a smile and wiped the sweat away. “Did you see how I shot that one Charr square between the eyes?” They were carrying the body away even at this moment. I suddenly remembered that he was Norn.
I wasn’t going to bother to tell him that I didn’t even join in the fighting. I knew I was doing a very useful job, but I just didn’t feel like it was the same.
“Did one of them scratch you?” He asked and took my arm in one of his hands. It was bleeding rather profusely. I hadn’t even noticed that it had broken through all the layers of my skin. The blood had been piling on my skirt where I held my arm, soaking through. I groaned and looked around. Perhaps there was some place I could wash the skirt. There was a small pond nearby, just north of us. It was the in the direction that we were headed.
The Charr that had recruited us approached Ragnvaldr and me, “I can offer this for your help.” He threw down a bag of copper for the each of us and walked off before I could even thank him in return. I noticed that my satchel was much smaller than Ragnvaldr’s, but it didn’t bother me. We were paid for our work, and I didn’t do very much for the battle. It didn’t matter, though. Since my parents were noble, I had started my journey with plenty of gold I had saved from gifts from them. I tucked the copper away with the rest of my money.
“You know, why don’t we buy you a new set of armor?” Ragnvaldr suggested. It wasn’t a bad idea, either. “I saw an armorer as we left the citadel. We could see what he has in stock.” I nodded and pulled out some gauze from my pack. I began to clean and dress the wound. The scratches were barely there and I didn’t quite understand how they had bled so much from so little.
Again, we were backtracking. It wasn’t far this time and I kept in mind that stronger armor would help in the future of our journey. As we walked back, I stared at each group of Charr we passed. They all seemed busy, dedicated to their work. It made me realize how they had won the war.
“How important do you think family is?” I asked as I watched a cub in a group of Charr fire off a rocket. The others didn’t seem to pay him any mind, but were instead doing work around him.
He looked confused about my question, “Well, we function better as individuals. We’re meant to become independent as kids and build our own legends. It would be a hindrance to our parents if we stayed too long.” I took to thinking about what he had said. As if he read my mind, Ragnvaldr added to his answer, “Wolf taught me that it’s better to travel together; we are all family in Wolf’s eyes.”
“Well, with your sister, I’m not sure I want to be family!” I joked. It took him a minute, but he eventually gave me a laugh.
“Someday, I do want a family of my own, so I can’t joke about it that much.” Ragnvaldr confided. I blushed at the thought of being a family together and kept quiet for the next few moments, “Two kids, a boy and a girl, to take on hunting trips together.” My heart stopped for a moment and my body froze. “Are you okay?” He asked me as I stood there. I knew that I was living in a mind of fantasy. His sister had warned me, but I now knew why. Human’s and Norn couldn’t be together. I wouldn’t be able to produce the offspring that he wanted.
It truly hurt to know just how much I had fallen in love with him.
My body felt numb, my heart empty, and my head full of emotions, but I still replied to him, “No! I’m fine.” Even though I was breaking down on the inside I smiled and progressed forward, seemingly convincing my Norn friend that nothing was wrong.
The sun was beginning to set. I hadn’t realized just how much time we had spent helping the Charr fight off the Flame Legion. My heart was sinking like the Sun with every minute. Every thought was disappointing. I knew that I should do the right thing and not pursue him, but part of me wondered if we could work things out. Maybe we could adopt? But that just wasn’t the same as flesh and blood kin. I gave up for the moment. We were already at the armor merchant.
“Do you have any light armor?” Ragnvaldr asked the Charr under the tent. I watched his every movement without realizing it.
The Charr motioned to me, “For the elementalist?” I stepped forward and nodded. “Fan of blue?”
“I would prefer it, please.” I replied. Blue had been the color of the armor I was found in. I decided that it must have been my favorite and never questioned it. Even now, the armor I wore was nearly all blue. It had golden accents embroidered on here and there.
“I’ll see if I can find anything. Blue isn’t a popular color here, and nor are human sizes,” he warned me. I hadn’t expected much from it anyway. He stayed in the back for a while, going through box after box. “I know I had something,” the merchant growled to himself. “Ah, here it is,” he approached me, “blue.”
The outfit he was handing me was certainly yellow. I looked to Ragnvaldr and he seemed equally as confused. “Excuse me…” I hesitated, “Are you by chance, colorblind?”
“Is that an insult?” He growled.
“No! No! It’s just that… Well, it’s yellow.” I smiled sheepishly as I tried to correct his mistake. I sunk back to standing behind my Norn companion.
“Yellow?” He looked at the outfit again. I felt bad for having him go through all the trouble of finding it just to tell him it was the wrong color. The Charr walked to a nearby merchant. I couldn’t hear them, but I knew what was being asked. “Yellow? Really?” The armor merchant held out the outfit at arm’s length and stared at it again. He strolled back to us, confusion played on his face.
“I hate to ask, but-” The Charr started, his voice filled with shame. I pitied him.
“If you’ll accept the help of a lowly human,” I interrupted, “I’ll help you organize your inventory.” I had a clever idea of how to organize them for him.
I spent the next hour helping the Charr organize his stock. I separated the armor first by race, then by weight, and then by color. On each piece of armor, I stuck a small piece of parchment with the color of the garment written on it onto each piece of armor. I detailed the colors of the blue armor exactly to their hue. It was well into the evening before we finished and lamps had already been lit. The fire from each of the posts glimmered and bounced off of the blackened metal all around us. The Citadel had become so bright that one could no longer see the stars in the sky. Small wisps of clouds rolled through the sky, the remnants of today’s rain.
I came out of this experience with a new set of armor. He had given it to me with my promise of not telling anyone of his problem, or his kindness.