Vainard stood up and instantly grabbed Meili’s hand, shaking it vigorously.
“I’m Vainard, Vainard Volcae. It’s it such a pleasure meeting you Miss Shihong! I’ve heard so much about you!”
Meili’s graceful hand shook his back and she smiled, bowing her head ever so slightly. “Please, no need for such formalities, call me Meili,” she answered, her brown, almond shaped eyes just as charming as her whole personality seemed to be. No wonder they called her ‘The Red Beauty’, although I knew nothing about the ‘red’ part.
“Boxxa, if you wanted to keep a low profile you’ve quite certainly failed in that department,” Meili said as she hopped down from her stool and headed to our table.
She was just a little taller than Boxxa and quite smaller than Vainard and I. Her long black hair fell on her shoulders and her eyebrows were hidden behind straight bangs. When she spoke, she had a canthan accent but her English vocabulary seemed to be even better than mine. The only thing that broke the illusion that she could have been royalty was the fact that she wore tainted leather and her fingernails were filled with dirt. You could tell by looking at her that even though she was graceful, she loved fights, dirt and even smelt of blood.
“Well, this is going to be much easier than I thought it would be!” Boxxa exclaimed, hopping down her chair and heading towards Meili.
“Do not assume that by me being here means I am automatically part of the Krewe you are looking for. I am here with a warning, little asura,” Meili said, giving Boxxa a questioning look and a big frown.
The Red Beauty continued.
“The word of your search for the right Krewe traveled quickly and lacks low profile. The Lionguards are on edge, if you had not noticed. There are talks about the Heart of the Destroyer and its possible acquisition. At first I thought it was only speculation, but then you had a nice conversation with these two.” Meili pointed to Vainard and I.
Still sitting in my chair, I listened to the development.
Meili explained that she had been in Lion’s Arch for over a week without anyone really noticing. Her personal mission was to evaluate who was looking for which treasure and how she could be the first to beat them to it. When she heard about Boxxa’s Krewe, she had to figure out what she needed. Since she knew Boxxa on a personal level, she felt compelled to learn more about it and so she gathered every detail she could get. It was only a matter of time before we would be in Lion’s Arch and she would be following our trail.
Which explains the feeling I had of eyes on me, all along.
The morning sun shined through the window and warmed up the dining area quickly. Lion’s Arch was becoming the humid and sunny town it always was and merchants from all around the world were already gathering to enjoy a breakfast fit for commoners. Still, it was good food. The room’s temperature seemed to rise a little too quickly for my taste and I soon felt beads of sweat rolling down my neck and forehead. I wasn’t used to this weather; Divinity’s Reach is warm, yes, but not as humid as this pirate central.
Meili’s eyes caught mine and I could tell she had noticed the sweat and the way my body held itself. I wasn’t comfortable.
“Let us walk outside,” she said and we gathered our things and headed out.
As we aimlessly walked on the dirt roads, Boxxa decided it was time to explain her plan to Meili and try not to beg to have her come with us. I listened, but my eyes wondered around and watched as the locals set up their merchant stands, watered their gardens and even feed their chickens. The sun’s strong rays were already hitting my whole body and making me feel weak, but I kept walking. This weather really wasn’t something I was used to.
“Once we reach the place where the Heart of the Destroyer lays, we’ll be rich! The stone alone is worth hundreds of gold and the treasures in the cave will have your grandchildren sing songs of your glory!” Boxxa started. “Even if none of us are Norn!” She laughed but no one shared her laughter.
“What is your true purpose?” Meili asked, hands cupped together behind her as she walked peacefully. The sole of her feet made no noise on the dirt.
“What do you mean, ‘true purpose?’ I want the heart of the Destroyer! I thought you said you had been listening?” The asura’s eyes squinted a little.
I was getting lightheaded but kept walking silently.
“I know you well enough to know there is another motive behind your plans. Riches and fame certainly are not your interests. Why do you want to aquire the heart?” Meili insisted, but before Boxxa could answer, she continued. “Make sure you tell me the truth because you next sentences is what will make me decide whether or not I will join you.”
Boxxa was clearly weighting in the pros and cons, deciding whether or not she would tell the truth. Her fingers fiddled with the palm of her hands and she thought about her answer for a moment.
I felt fur on my hand. I jerked my fingers away and noticed that Halfear had been padding next to me the whole time. He had been very discrete and quiet ever since we had entered Lion’s Arch and it was almost as if I had forgotten he had been there the whole time. He nuzzled my hand and stayed by my side like a guard dog. I petted his giant wolf skull, stroked his fur and felt my weight pressing on his body as I was walking, as if I needed a cane. Something was off. It was much too humid around here.
“Fine. I’ll let you know,” Boxxa decided. “I’ll tell you about my motive, my true motive, but you need to help me find the other member of this Krewe.”
Meili chuckled and shook her head.
“I had a feeling you would ask me something in return…” she kept a smirk on her face… Or was she smiling? I can’t remember, because at this point, my vision was getting blurry.
The last thing I remember was Vainard’s arms around me, Meili and Boxxa looking down at me and Halfear’s nose smelling me all over.
By then I knew something was wrong with me and the weather was not to blame.