We ventured on until the sun began to retreat into the mountains. If my map was right we had made it past half of Kryta. It seemed like an appropriate time to camp for the night, so in no time at all we had prepared a fire and ate our dinner.
Admittedly Daniel and I were reluctant to travel with an informant. However, after an entire day of walking at her side Serenity seemed less like a business woman and more like a Secro. We seemed to share many of the same interests and enjoyed each other’s company. We all started becoming more and more like a team, which was good considering that behaving like the exact opposite could get us killed.
As I reflected on all the events that happened throughout the day I could tell that this was the beginning of an excellent partnership. I also remembered to make a mental note to thank Daniel again for buying bedrolls.
It was much later in the day, yet the Citadel was as busy as ever; especially the Canton Factorium. I was on edge; Thoc dragged me to the tavern while I had started getting second thoughts.
“Thoc, I do not believe this will end well,” I said as the brown Charr and I walked towards the Serrated Blade.
“Trust me on this one, Anavari,” beamed Thoc. “They’ll be happy to see you.”
Well at least someone appeared to be cheerful. I was reluctant to meet with the warband to say the least, actually… nervous would be a better term. It was something I always had issues with, and Thoc did his best for all of us to get along. He had never made any real progress, until today that is. Still, several thoughts and possible outcomes stirred in my mind.
Did they really want to talk or is this all some joke they had set up? I thought. Was Garfas behind it?
Garfas always did have the ability to make everyone listen to him whenever Itan was not around. The mere thought of him setting up such a thing made my mood sour.
“I did not even do anything that noteworthy…”
“You saved the whole lot of us.”
“Anyone would have done what I did,” I countered. “This is pointless maybe I should just go home.”
I began to move but Thoc grabbed me by the collar of my robe.
“Do you want to be treated like you’re part of the warband or not?” his gaze was more assertive than usual.
“O-of course… but-”
“Then quit your stalling and walk in with me!”
It was a stupid idea. Thoc said that this tavern was the usual location for our warband to congregate after an assignment. I was never present in such reunions, mainly because I was never invited. There was always this aura of being unwelcome, like I was not worthy, or like I was not even part of the warband. That was the main reason why I spent most of my time elsewhere. I would visit the Durmand Priory scholars on occasion (they had an interesting library that I could look at) and other times I would even go to the Gladium Canton, at least I had a few friends there(besides Thoc of course).
The more I thought about it the more I disliked it. Thoc wanted me to go and give the Warband a chance. Impossible, a charr does not change his opinions overnight, let alone an entire warband. Yet here I was following him into the tavern. Perhaps there was that faint glimmer of hope that remained. But I am a scholar; I have to think realistically, hope will get me nowhere.
Thoc and I walked into the tavern. The first thing I noticed were several Charr drinking away the night. Some of them laughed others took their chances with the female standing in the corner. She seemed annoyed. Then on the far corner I could see my warband. Each one had a large mug filled with what I assumed was mead, but judging from their injuries it was most likely something stronger. The majority had their arms and legs either bandaged or splinted. One of them was sporting a new eye patch and several of them had either fractured or broken horns (That must have hurt). I began to wonder how it was possible for me to get out of there unharmed, they were surely to use that against me as well. Well not completely unharmed, a few pieces of shrapnel dug themselves into my chest, but those were easily removed. I could not help but feel a sense of failure; realizing that if I had pushed myself more, then maybe everyone else would have come out of that ordeal in better condition. I took a few more steps into the Tavern and my warband’s eyes were immediately focused on me.
My insides felt like they had just been frozen solid. I stood there as they examined the outcast Charr of their group standing before them. What was I doing here? Thoc was wrong, nothing had changed, I was still the standoffish necromancer they shunned and hated. I had to get out of there; the exit was only a few steps away. If I reached it fast enough then we could avoid any more awkwardness, but luck was not on my side. Thoc could somehow sense my urge to escape. He reached his hand over my shoulder and braced his claws around it so I would not run off.
“Garfas,” said Thoc with a quick nod. “How’s the eye?”
Garfas was the strong one of the group, he was mostly silent at times but when he revealed his other self in the field of battle, well… it was definitely something that could be considered unstoppable. He was also the most feared; I do admit a hulking mass of muscle charging at you with a large axe would intimidate even a Norn. He border lined the boundary between irrationality and instinct.
I nearly got into a fight with him when we first met. My first impulse when I joined the warband was to find the toughest looking charr and fight him. I suppose it was some idiotic urge to establish that no one should ever try to think of me as a weakling for choosing magic. Thinking back I probably was not that smart when I was younger, I had an impressive amount of knowledge that much was evident, but I did not know how to use it. Granted I still don’t know how to use all of it, but I digress. I was literally feet away from Garfas and I had no idea if he wanted to either rip my head off or skin me alive. I just stood there as he gazed at me with a blank expression.
“It’s healing…” I forgot how the charr’s voice sounded like he swallowed caltrops on a daily basis. “It’ll take more than a shaman to keep me out for good.”
Garfas shifted his attention to Thoc. The two bright amber eyes of his would occasionally glance over to my direction.
“Well we don’t want our warband’s secret weapon out of the fight for long.” Thoc went ahead and moved me right next to the massive charr and moved over to my opposite side.
I was trapped.
The other members of the warband maintained their fixed gaze. I was hoping they could not see that I had my tail wrapped around my leg, a nervous habit I never really got over. I moved the bottom part of my robe over my leg.
“So everyone’s feeling alive I take it?” asked Thoc. All the other charr replied with an irritated grunt or moan.
“Toughen up all of you! Wounds heal with time,” Garfas spoke with an ironclad ferocity. “Order a drink if those muscles are sore!”
Garfas waved his hand and in no time at all a bartender arrived with a large platter with drinks for every Charr around the table. I noticed that there was a drink placed on the table for me as well.
“Um, I didn’t order a drink,” I began.
“Don’t worry I’m buying it,” said Garfas.
“Consider it a thank you gift; we all owe it to you.”
Then I saw something that I could barely believe, Garfas was giving me a faint smile. As far as I remembered he would never smile for anything. I could also notice all the other Charr around the table raise their mug towards my direction.
Did… did they all feel the same way? I thought.
I was relieved to see that my suspicions were completely wrong. Here I was, the most insufferable and smallest Charr of the Warband, sharing a drink with everyone else. I finally felt like a member. I took my drink and raised it along with the others. We all took a large mouthful of alcohol before setting the mugs back down. I hid the grimace induced by the foul taste; I found it best not to mention that this was my first drink.
After a night of drinking and discussing the recent battle I decided to say my farewells and return to Hero’s Canton. As I made my way out of the Tavern I could hear the loud thud of heavy footsteps follow me out. I rounded towards the source and discovered it to be Garfas; he seemed to be slightly imbalanced from all the alcohol he drank. The massive white charr wobbled ever so slightly towards my direction.
“Have any problem with some company on the way back?” he asked.
“Uh…,” I was caught off guard to say the least. “Not at all.”
We took our time getting back to the Canton remaining silent the entire way through… until Garfas decided to speak.
“This was you’re first drink wasn’t it?”
My eyes widened after hearing that he could see through my attempts to hide that fact. Luckily the darkness of the night hid my face from him.
“Y-you could tell?” I had no clue why I was so intimidated by him.
“I think everyone on the table knew, you did such a bad job at hiding that face you made that it would have brought the Ash Legion to shame.” Garfas added a chuckly at the end of his statement.
“I-I just don’t like the taste that’s all…”
Garfas merely shrugged. “We don’t drink for the flavor, Anavari. We drink to get drunk!”
That last word seemed to have that same ferocity his voice would always have during a battle. Garfas moved his hand over the back of his furry white neck with a sigh.
“…Anavari,” he said.
“Don’t let Itan get to you, you may be getting punished but you really did help us back there. If you hadn’t had come up with that idea then it could have been more than just a few broken limbs and an eye patch.”
“…Thank you, Garfas. It… means a lot.” I did not know what to make of this, it was rare that Garfas would enter conversation at all let alone add words of reassurance. If anything the only time he would speak was to give us orders from Itan or if it was a battle roar.
“Well it looks like we made it back.”
The last part of the journey had ended without me noticing.
“I’ll see you in the morning, Anavari.” Said Garfas, he began to make his way back to his sleeping quarters and then he suddenly stopped faced me once again. “Oh, almost forgot. Don’t feel so nervous around me I’m not gonna rip your head off or anything.”
“I am not nervous!” I objected. Garfas simply pointed at my tail that was currently wrapped around my leg. I had heard that a human’s face turned red whenever they were a met with a situation that was similar to this. I could swear my face would have been the same visible color had it not been covered by fur. Garfas departed with one light laugh and a wave.
I uncurled my tail and sighed as the embarrassment wore off. The day was over, and I concluded that it was probably best for me to make my way back home as well. Just like that, my dream ended.