The Bear Lodge seemed quite similar to all the others in the city. Made of solid wood along with whatever a lodge was built with, it gave it more of a cozy cabin atmosphere. Not that it would have made our situation any better; at this point even Daniel was sulking.
We walked across the solid wood floor in search of a norn clad in dark armor, another notable feature was that he always traveled with his pet pig, Simon. The duo held a fairly “famous” reputation for newcomers of the Secros, Daniel and I had the misfortune of having him as our Contractor for our third job as Secro Messengers. However he forgot to mention that our particular job had a few risks involved. For example, we had to traverse a complex set of traps just to get to the area, and that the person the message was meant for was completely insane and would think you turned into a flesh eating windmill if you did not stand on one foot.
I would love to say that this was the only job we did for him… but it was not unfortunately. When you first start as a Secro, you are not in the position to be picky with the jobs available to you; also it was a difficult time for work so Daniel and I took what was available. We were not ones to complain, especially since we had virtually nothing before we became couriers.
“I um… I think…” I should have probably mentioned that Daniel had ordered another drink before leaving the tavern… or two.
“You think you see him?” I said completing Daniels sentence.
He nodded and gave out a simple, “Mhmm.” The grin on his face was obviously from his alcohol induced state.
The human pointed across the room to the odd pair sitting by the very corner. There sat a norn clad in a thick leather jacket with an assortment of colorful patches stitched across it. Next to him was Simon, a rather average looking porcine with his snout painted a bright orange color. They both seemed to be staring at a series of gleaming stones that were placed on the floor. We slowly approached making sure we would not interrupt whatever it was those two were doing.
“Good evening Argus,” I said with simulated optimism. The norn glanced towards my direction and his eyes immediately lit up.
“Well if it isn’t my favorite charr bookworm! I’ll be with you in a sec, I think I’ve got Simon right where I want him.”
The pig simply replied with a snort. Daniel and I observed how the colorful pebbles had been arranged; it appeared to be a game of sorts. Argus moved a blue piece forward.
“Ha! I have you now!” he roared in triumph. Simon simply gave out another snort of indifference. He moved a bright purple pebble forward and Argus’s expression of victory changed into shock and defeat. The norn sat there with his hands resting over his brown braided hair.
Simon nodded with faint traces of a smile; that was one smart pig alright. Argus finally stood to greet us.
“Ah Anavari!” said the norn with traces of glee, “one of my favorite Couriers!” he patted me on the shoulder as a friendly gesture, however I knew what was behind the conniving smile of his.
“So how have you be-” he continued, but it seemed like Daniel had heard enough of his voice. Without so much as a warning he stepped in front of me with his hands in his coat pockets. With one quick movement Daniel launched his foot right into Argus’s groin. I couldn’t help but grit my teeth at the event that transpired… that and it was incredibly difficult to restrain my laughter. Argus immediately fell to his knees whimpering in pain and massaging the damaged area.
“You forgot about me,” said Daniel cheerfully returning to my side. Simon noticed his master’s current state of weakness and did a gesture that nearly seemed like a shrug of indifference accompanied by a snort. At least he was smart enough to know that he deserved it.
“I though you said you would behave,” I said crossing my arms towards Daniel and raising an eyebrow.
“I said I would TRY,” corrected Daniel as he retreated behind me. “Turns out trying wasn’t enough.”
“Nice to see you too, Daniel,” said Argus struggling to get back on his feet. “That was a low blow there, a very low blow.”
“Argus you know that I don’t care about stuff like that,” said Daniel as he responded with a smile. “fighting clean gets you killed.”
“You should keep him on a leash, Anavari,” Argus was finally able to regain his composure, “can’t let someone like him walk around and let him do whatever he fancies.”
“Would you rather I use the spiked boot?” said Daniel raising his foot so Argus could clearly see the several knives that sprung out of the tip of his boot. I pulled him back and made sure he would not escape my grasp.
“I think that would only encourage him, Argus.”
Daniel seemed to have calmed down and stood behind me not wanting to look at the norn’s face any further. I could feel his smaller frame lean against my back as he struggles to keep his footing.
“So do you guys need another job? Cuz I got the perfect little opportunity for my two best messengers.”
Opportunity was a very bad sign if it came out of Argus’s mouth. “Unfortunately no, Argus.” I said trying to sound as ‘friendly’ as possible. “We actually require one of your other services.”
“Oh do ya now?”
“Well I am doing a bit of singing, and I would like your opinion on my abilities.”
“Say no more!” Argus dismissed with a wave, “want it to be somewhere less public?”
“That would be preferable.”
With that the four of us left the area and began to make our way towards The Great Lodge.
The Great Lodge differed from the other ones (mainly because there was a giant dragon tooth in the main room). More norns frequented this area for they saw it as a place where they could call home, I had heard that norns liked to travel quite a bit and rarely ever settled down to a single area. Most of them would be out searching for ‘bigger game’. I found that side of them commendable, living life to the fullest and facing a challenge head on… it reminded me of someone from my past. But that was irrelevant at the moment.
“So who are we meeting again?” said Argus as we searched around for Serenity.
“She’s a Trader,” said Daniel. “She shouldn’t be that hard to spot.”
“Wait, did you say she?” asked Argus.
“There you guys are!” Serenity had appeared from behind us with several other ravens standing behind her. Daniel and I rounded towards her. “You both took your sweet time.”
“We apologize, Serenity.” I said, “We could not spot you from the crowd.”
“Thanks for the compliment!” she replied. “So who do we have here?”
She immediately froze once she saw the pig. Argus slowly rounded towards Serenity staring at the sky in wonder.
“Serenity, where have I heard that before…?” Once his eyes met with the human with blue hair he too froze.
“Djarkin?!” exclaimed Serenity after staring at the Norn’s face for several seconds.
Just then Serenity’s surprise immediately turned into rage, and without warning she launched her armor plated boot into Argus’s groin. Daniel and I both gritted our teeth from the sound of a metal boot clashing against soft tissue; needless to say we were both on the verge of collapsing onto the floor into a fit of laughter. Also needless to say, Argus was reduced to a large twitching mass from being struck in a vital weak spot twice on the same day. I believe Serenity’s strike was much more devastating than Daniel’s, and I am quite sure that he would agree.
“This is just speculation on my part, but I think they know each other,” said Daniel knowing very well that he was stating the obvious.
“You don’t say?” I replied.
“It’s nice to see you again too, Serenity,” said Argus who was still writhing on the floor in pain. His voice was a much higher pitch than it usually was.
“So you ended up as a Contractor didn’t you?” said Serenity bitterly, “I’d be saying that it was good to see you too but…I’d be lying now wouldn’t I?” Serenity definitely seemed to be repressing most of her anger. This was the first time we saw her lose her calm, even during combat she would maintain a certain level of control.
“I see you got to be a Trader like you said,” Argus was able to get back on his knees.
“And I see Simon is still with you,” Serenity added. “Long time no see Simon!”
The pig replied with a cheerful oink. It seemed that everyone liked Simon more than Argus.
“I hate to interrupt the reunion,” I said helping Argus stand back up. “But I believe that we have slightly more pressing matters at the moment.”
“Anavari’s right,” said Serenity. “We should find someplace isolated before we talk. With that we ventured further into the Lodge until we found an empty room. We all stepped in and made sure we were out of earshot from everyone. So we took this time to explain everything that had happened in our journey to Divinity’s Reach and Hoelbrak. The Assassins, their ‘important target’, how they had attempted to kill Daniel and me on two separate occasions. Argus listened attentively and immediately looked at Simon in worry.
“So…you guys were attacked too?” asked the Norn.
“What are you talking about, Argus?” asked Daniel. “There’s been more attacks than the ones we’ve been talking about?”
Argus nodded. “And they’ve all been on traveling groups inside Kryta, mostly. And most of the attacks have been on our group, so everyone’s on high alert while they’ve been out on the job. I’m surprised you didn’t already know this.”
“Getting from Divinities Reach to Hoelbrak takes a while if you haven’t noticed,” said Serenity irritated.
“I know that!” retorted Argus, “I just didn’t expect you three out of all people to be so sl-”
Simon bit his arm before he finished that last word. However all three of us knew exactly what he was going to say. Serenity glared at the Norn while I gave a partially audible growl and Daniel simply impaled one of his daggers onto a nearby table. If there was something that you never say to a Secro, it would be the “S” word. Most of the time calling a Secro “slow” would be the last thing you ever do.
“I-I mean, the reasons for you not knowing such stuff is perfectly understandable and in no way is it your fault.” Argus spoke as innocently as possible, it was enough for us.
“Well it looks like we have to stay on higher alert,” said Serenity. “We have a theory that these assassins learned about our network through one of our own.”
“You’re not serious are you? A traitor among us?” Argus’s eyes widened in shock.
“It is a possibility,” I said. “Until we learn more then we may find a way to counteract them. For all we know it may not even be the Secros they have a problem with. If we can find this ‘special target’ then maybe we can get some answers.”
“Well maybe I can help you there,” said Argus. “Most of the stuff you just told me was something everyone knew already, but there is someone who may know more than we do.”
“Who?” asked Daniel quizzically.
Argus leaned in. “Well these attacks normally end up with a bunch of dead bodies. The problem is none of our own has been able to retrieve and examine them for clues. That’s because we have an unexpected guest coming in to pick up the corpses. The Seraph guard is getting involved in this too.”
“The Seraph?” asked Serenity. “Why would they be interested? Wouldn’t they just say that our men were attacked by bandits or something? How are they getting to the bodies before us?!”
“That’s the thing, some say that a particular Seraph, one of those investigator types; Say he found a specific connection in the attacks.”
“I take it no one knows the specifics but him?” asked Daniel.
Argus nodded, “some ravens say that he keeps a series of notes locked up in a safe back in his cozy home in Divinity’s Reach. The only problem is that no one else has even seen those notes.”
Serenity leaned back on her seat; she seemed deep in thought on our next move. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking guys?” She glanced back and forth between Daniel and me.
“Mhmm.” Said Daniel and I with a single nod. Serenity snapped out of her trance and immediately faced the norn. “Argus, I need you to sing a song.”
“Us three are going to find out what those notes contain, make sure everyone knows about it. After that we’ll reveal that information to the Secros and decide how to act from there.”
“Consider it done,” Argus faced the Ravens in the room, “you heard her, start singing.” The hooded Ravens bowed their heads and left the room, soon after we heard the subtle melodies of several whistling noises echo across the lodge. Like wooden flutes that were played by the wind itself.
“Well it looks like we’re done here,” Said Serenity. We all stood from our seats and began to make our way towards the exit.
“Wait!” said Argus, “how do you plan on getting the notes?”
Daniel was the one who stopped at the exit and rounded towards the norn with a wide smile.
“Stealing them of course!” he said excitedly. “This is going to be fun!”