I glanced over to find that Serenity and Daniel were sitting next to the fire with a whole boar roasting over it. Daniel seemed to be merely observing as Serenity cooked the dead animal. I squirmed out of the bedroll and spoke in my usual gruff morning voice.
“Morning everyone.” A loud yawn escaped my muzzle.
“Hey look who’s awake!” said Daniel. “Sleep well?”
“I had a nightmare, so not quite.” I moved over to sit on the floor next to Daniel.
“It didn’t sound like it,” said Daniel. He was grinning from ear to ear now. “So who’s this ‘Garfas’ you kept muttering about in your sleep?”
“Sounds like someone important,” added Serenity as she sank a dagger into the roasted boar.
I froze. ‘Did I really say that in my sleep?’ I thought. ‘what other things did I say? How much did Daniel and Serenity hear?’
It had been so long ever since I had a thought about Garfas, or even the warband for that matter. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was extremely fuzzy on all the details; almost as if it were a dream. I sat there in confusion trying to put the pieces together. I was missing something important, I knew that much. Just then a wave of pain surged through my skull. Just as soon as the pain appeared, it vanished. I was left with even more confusion. Then I remembered that I had a question to answer.
“H-he is no one!” I said, looking away from both of the humans.
“Oh so now we know that Garfas is a male,” said Daniel. “So what’s so special about this person that you had a dream about him?” The human began to playfully poke my rib.
What did make him so important?
“He is not important!” I snapped. I caught myself before I yelled my next sentence. I faced Serenity, in an efforts to quickly change the subject. “I did know you could cook Serenity,” I began as I returned to a calmer tone. “Daniel and I have never learned how to and frequently eating jerky can become tiresome, so we appreciate the meal.”
“You’re welcome,” Serenity began to spin the boar so that its back could face the flame. “I figured I should go hunting and I was lucky enough to find this fella. Back when I worked more I grew tired of eating dry food, so I found a chef in the Black Citadel and asked him if he could teach me how to cook meat the right way.”
“You’ve been to the Black Citadel?” I asked.
Serenity nodded and said, “our line of work has ways of bringing us to the most interesting places don’t you agree?”
“I’ll agree to that,” said Daniel bringing out a waterskin from his pack. “Anavari and I have gone to the weirdest places. The sewers of Lion’s Arch, the very tip of a mountain out towards the Shiverpeaks, even an old rundown shack with a skritt guarding it. Those guys will really do anything for shiny things.”
Daniel began to drink from the waterskin as Serenity continued to check on the meat. “Well if you guys like, I can teach you how to cook. I’m sure a few of my recipes would satisfy both of you.”
“Sounds wonderful,” I said. We quickly ate our meal so that we could pack up camp. As uneventful as the delivery was going, I did not want to take any risks by staying in the same place for too long and with that we continued our journey. The sun rose high as the air began to progressively grow colder. The medallion around my neck began to grow heavier and the silver chain began to chill the fur around my neck. I reached into my coat and extracted the medallion; it had been quite a while since I had stopped to contemplate the little trinket. What had been a habit that would occur every time I required comfort had become something of a rarity today. I did not know why, the medallion after all had been with me since I was a cub… Then I realized how important the medallion really was. How I could ever forget such a fact was beyond me.
“Is that a trinket?” asked Serenity as she pointed at the object in my hand.
“Hm? Oh yes,” I replied as I took off my trinket and allowed Serenity to have a closer look.
“May I hold it for a sec?” she asked.
“Be my guest.”
Serenity began to examine the medallion with increased interest.
“A very nice shine, polished silver I presume?”
“Indeed it is.” The memories began to come back to me.
“Symbols of spiraling lines around the edge (made with great attention to detail might I add) and in the center a rather large carving of a heart with a set of two intersecting lines over it. It almost seems like it was cut by a sharp blade. This was magnificently crafted, but I assume you don’t hold on to it for the monetary value now do you?” Serenity returned the medallion and I placed it around my neck once again.
“You are correct,” I said. “You see, I was not born in the Citadel.”
The words were coming out on their own accord. I was surprising myself as I was saying the words as If I was reminding myself of events that I had long forgotten.
“You weren’t?” Serenity asked with a raised eyebrow.
I shook my head. “I was found just outside the city gates wrapped around in a bloodstained cloak. The charr who sired me said that I looked only several days old, and tied around my wrist was a note and this medallion. The note read ‘Anavari’, so that is what my sire named me. He told me all of this when I was ready to enter the Fahrar.”
“That must have been a big hit just before entering the Fahrar,” said Daniel. “How did you take the news?”
“Not well at first, it took me several weeks of contemplation to learn to accept it. In the end I concluded that whoever my parents were, they must have had a good reason for leaving me with the Citadel. If they did not care for me then they probably would not have left the medallion.”
“Have… you ever thought of looking for them?” Daniel spoke with extreme caution. Personal questions were something we never really brought up, despite being together for so long.
“I have… but it is something I have never really acted on, I take the medallion to different informants on occasion, but they do not seem to know of any potential leads.”
“Well if you like I can send a sketch of the medallion to several of my contacts,” added Serenity. “Maybe they can find out where it originated from.”
“That will not be necessary.”
Part of me did not want to trouble Serenity, but the other part did not want to bother searching for my parents. It was best to expect the worst case outcome out of things such as this; you do not get disappointed that way. “I shall search for them in my own way, however the gesture is appreciated.”
“Well if you ever do need help you know how to find me.”
Serenity gently patted my shoulder in a reassuring manor. I did not want to say anything but in a way it did feel comforting. I then felt Daniel tug at the sleeve of my coat.
“And you know you have me big guy,” he said. “We may be at each other’s throats every now and then but you know I don’t mind helping you out.”
I could not help but feel even more reassured by Daniels statement, even though I never really planned to go searching for them in the first place.
“Ah there’s one of those legendary Anavari smiles!” Daniel’s incredible perception always seemed to aggravate me at just the right moments. “And now there’s that annoyed face…now he’s getting irritated… and now he’s grinning…uh oh.”
I could hear Serenity restraining a laugh from behind me as Daniel found himself pinned to the floor.
“You should have seen that coming,” I chided in a playful manor. “And that was a smirk not a smile.”
“So says the big bad predator,” chided Daniel. “Say what you want but the image is already marked in my head. From now on whenever I see you I will remember that cute kitty-like smile, and realize that you’re not as grumpy as you play out to be.”
“How dare you?” I said in a mock outraged way.
“Oh I dare,” said Daniel defiantly. I narrowed my eyes then proceeded to throw the human over my shoulder as I continued to walk on the road.
“Unhand me!” said Daniel laughing. “This is demeaning!”
“Then you should have thought twice before saying that filthy word.”
“What? Kitty? I think it’s much better than fur ball.”
“Don’t push your luck, Daniel,” I said with a toothy grin. At this point Serenity could no longer hold back her laugh. She could barely stand as she observed the spectacle that she considered comical. I had forgotten that it was normally only Daniel and I when we were out in the road.
“You two are probably the weirdest pair I have seen to date,” she said trying to regain her composure.
“We get that a lot,” said Daniel.
“It’s quite obvious that you two are close friends,” said Serenity, “how long have you known each other?”
“About a year and a half if I am not mistaken,” I said. “Been traveling together ever since.”
“Pretty interesting how we met too,” added Daniel.
“Do you mind telling me this story?” asked Serenity, “I find myself quite intrigued as to how a human makes a friendship with a Charr. No offense.”
“None was taken,” I said. “Daniel and I actually first met in-”
A chilling gust of wind had interrupted me. It was evident that we were nearing the Snowden Drifts. As we walked over a hill we could see Lake Bounty in the distance, and beyond that the mountains. The intensity of the wind began to pick up and drop in temperature. I could also notice that the sun began to make its decent.
“Looks like we’ll have to find a place for the night,” said Serenity, “I’m sure there’s a suitable location further east.”
“We could travel further into the night?” offered Daniel.
Serenity replied with shaking her head. “These areas are not very friendly at night; it’s best to find some place with walls, and a fire.”
In the end we agreed to continue walking until we found an appropriate area to sleep, However that soon became the least of our concerns. It did not take very long for us to spot a group in the distance. The sky had quickly begun to darken so our presence was yet to be detected.
“Something’s off about that group,” said Serenity. She motioned us to stray off the road and hide behind an array of bushes. She reached into her pack and extracted a gold retractable spyglass. After looking through the lens she handed it to Daniel.
“Not good,” he said handing the spyglass to me. “Take a look.”
I looked into the lens. In the distance I could see several Human men dressed all in similar attire. Their faces had a red bandanna covering the top parts of their faces.
“Bandits or Highwaymen?” I asked.
“From the look of it; highwaymen,” said Daniel. I looked towards the side of the road and noticed several tied up individuals with a dead Dolyak next to them. “It looks like they’ve got a few traveling merchants with them as well.”
“Anyone have a plan?” asked Serenity.
“We approach with stealth,” I said. “If we watch were we step and stay in the shadows we’ll keep our element of surprise.”
“I like the sound of that,” said Daniel as he took out a set of daggers. “I think I see more bushes near their position. We can strike from there.”
“Good idea,” I returned the spyglass to Serenity and reached for my sword. “Everyone ready?”
Serenity and Daniel nodded. With that we advanced, it was dark enough for us to be cloaked by the shadows. However I could hear the clacking of Serenity’s armor and it was painfully evident that we could be discovered from the noise alone. Luckily the ambient noise and the fact that the Highwaymen had an abysmal sense of perception made it so that we could remain hidden. We reached the assortment of bushes and waited for the right moment. I could see one of the captured merchants staring at the bush where we were hiding inside. I moved my finger in front of my muzzle and the individual understood with a nod. She returned to pretending as if there was nothing inside the nearby bush.
The highwaymen observed the spoils of their labor and began to search through the dead Dolyak’s saddlebags. This moment was excellent, their backs were turned and we were still hidden. I readied myself to leap out of the bush, but before I could make a move I felt a firm tug at my arm. I rounded towards Daniel, who seemed to be alarmed for some reason. He pointed towards the road and I glanced towards the same direction.
A large group of darkly dressed individuals ran towards the direction of the Highwaymen. Their armor was strikingly familiar and their movements were as quiet as a feather.
“It’s them,” whispered Daniel. “What are they doing here?”
“Are these the same assassins from your previous contract?” asked Serenity.
Daniel and I nodded. “It’s the same armor,” I whispered. “How did they know we were here?”
The assassins stopped in front of the highwaymen. One of them stood at the front of the group.
“You there!” said the human. “We seek a group of couriers, have you seen any or not?”
The human’s voice was dark and sounded ancient; it sent a chill up my spine. I glanced over at Daniel and he nodded. He leaned over to Serenity and whispered something into her ear; I already knew what it was. I leaned back and held my breath, in moments of absolute subtlety assume that your pursuer can and WILL hear your breath. At least that is what Daniel taught me. Do not make a sound, do not even move, no matter how much you have to. Of course if it was absolutely necessary to breathe, Daniel also taught me to inhale quickly and quietly, but even doing that is a huge risk. We simply observed as we saw a Highwayman glance towards the Assassins.
“You’re interrupting our important business negotiation here,” the highwayman was tall enough to be a norn; he carried a large hammer over his back.
“And you are delaying our search,” said the assassin. “Simply tell us if you have seen a group of couriers and we may spare you.”
The norn was driven into a fit of laughter. “You’re messing with the wrong person old man.” he drew his hammer from his back and his allies mirrored his movements. By our count the group of highwaymen reached twenty, while the assassins were only ten… but we knew better than to underestimate them.
The assassin leader simply flicked his wrist and the other members of his group leaped into battle. It happened so fast that we could barely keep track of the fight. They were dark blurs moving across the field; one by one the highwaymen were falling faster than they could react. In mere seconds they were all dead.
These assassins were different, what was thrown at us on our way to Divinity’s Reach were mere foot soldiers; grunts, the lowest ranks. These were more experienced, they were deadlier, but we still had something we did not have last time.
The leader walked over to the same merchant that had seen us.
I glanced towards Serenity and Daniel, we both nodded in agreement. The plan was still in motion.
“You look like you know something,” said the Assassin leader. “Do you know where I can find the group I seek?”
He drew a long sword from his armor and gently stroked the bladed edge across the merchant’s cheek. She cried in pain and fear as the blade drew blood.
“Now!” I whispered.
We leaped out of the bushes and acted with haste. Serenity landed next to the Assassin leader and a flash of light from her hand and blinded his eyes. Daniel landed right next to him and delivered a kick to his jaw. The assassin was sent flying across the floor and he landed a significant distance from us.
I began to roar into the skies as a sickly green cloud of vapor began to escape my muzzle. I began to spread and shot towards the group of assassins surrounding us.
Our enemies began to wheeze and cough as the poison entered their lungs, as did I, but not to the extent that they were. It would most likely not kill them but at least slow them down enough for an opening. However, the Assassins quickly recovered. They continued to wheeze but acted as if the poison did not feel like it was melting their insides.
“Well this is unexpected,” I said in disbelief. The assassins quickly opened the flaps of their coats and allowed the wind the reveal what was underneath. A large array of knives and daggers were latched on. Within mere seconds they took several throwing daggers and prepared to release their barrage.
I glanced towards Serenity; I knew that she would most likely have a spell that would save us. She seemed to know exactly what I was asking for, and splayed her hands into the air. We were immediately encased and protected by a bubble of glowing blue energy. The Assassins threw their daggers and they bounced off Serenity’s defense as if they were thrown into a steel wall.
“Okay, they’re resilient,” said Serenity as she maintained the spell. “So it looks like they can’t be crippled or delayed.”
“Cut them down,” said Daniel bluntly. “I’ve seen this before, they can ignore pain and push their body through certain limits. But it also means that they cant take much of a hit. Taking them down shouldn’t be to hard as long as we avoid getting hit.”
“Alright,” I said. “Attack quickly and without restraint. Focus attacks on their vital areas, they may be fast but I can notice that they struggle to keep their balance. So use that to your advantage somehow. I will make us harder to see as soon as soon as I can.”
“Spell’s about to end,” said Serenity. I readied my sword and Daniel moved his hand to the gun holster in his jacket. Serenity’s hands began to glow a bright blue color.
The bubble vanished.
We ran into battle.