The storm rolled in fairly quickly. The thunder grew more and more heavy as it began to pass over our heads. Lightning flashes brought great bursts of white light into otherwise warm colored rooms. Rain struck the roof and windows in shaky winds that blew mists across the city. Violent waves, carried by the merciless sea, crashed onto the pale shores. Ships at the docks swayed vigorously atop the dark waters.
After the last candle was lit, I returned to Tobih and accompanied him downstairs where the two norn had brewed up our vittles. Tobih and Ragnvaldr carried the scattered chairs to the small table as Angel situated our plates of food on each of the four sides. When we all sat down, I found that everything in this place was human-made. Her and Ragnvaldr sat uncomfortably on small chairs staring down at tables much too short for them. Angel flung the chair behind her; it skidded across the floor on all fours. She found herself a way of sitting comfortably by removing the chair. Ragnvaldr took her example and laid his wooden chair gently to the side of him before situating himself on his knees.
I smiled through their actions and picked up my spoon before I looked down to my plate. Looking at the concoction qualitatively, I asked, “What are we eating?”
“Curried pumpkin soup,” Ragnvaldr replied, “Not sure where she found the pumpkins though.”
“I got them while you three were lagging behind in the marketplace!” She shoved a spoonful into her mouth rather aggressively. “Eat up, need to get your health back up before we set out again,” She spoke with her mouth full. I watched as she sprayed pieces from her mouth and wondered why I ever thought she would have table manners.
I dipped in my spoon and took a taste of it. The taste was rather unique and the broth contained not only bits of pumpkin but also peas and bits of potatoes.
“I knew I already had the paste lying around and that stuff lasts forever,” She continued scattering pieces of it around her own table, luckily missing the rest of us and our food.
“Is this something you make often?” I asked her, taking another bite after speaking.
“Pumpkin is a new one. It’s usually leftovers that I throw into it, but I’ve been gone for a while so I had to pick out something new. Sugar pumpkins were cheap.” Of course she went for the cheapest item, but still, she bought it for us and I was thankful. All of the meals I had been eating on the journey were much different from the noble fare I had in Divinity’s Reach. Things like truffle soups and kale sautees and decadent cakes filled my stomach daily. In the summer we had drinks like melon juice and we always had ice cream for dessert. But this? This was cooking from the heart rather than to impress. I much preferred these sorts of foods to the refined tastes of the nobles back home.
“What is curry?” Tobih suddenly spoke up. Angel shook her head and patted him on the back.
“It’s just a bunch of different spices,” I informed him, knowing this from a book I had read, “Usually mixed with coconut milk or water.” I stared down at the food. “This is my first time having it.”
“On long winter days, it’s good to eat something that warms you up from the inside. My father used to make curry after a long hunt.” Ragnvaldr was already scratching at the bottom of his bowl.
Thunder sounded and lightning flashed through the windows, causing me to jump in my chair. No one else seemed to notice. Honestly, the storms reminded me of that day in Ascalon. Each bit of thunder reminded me of the pounding of crystals; each flash of lightning was the glimmer from the sky.
Even if I never got all of my memories back, these were here to stay – to haunt me.
I didn’t even realize when I had stopped eating. Angel stared at me from behind her second, maybe third, bowl. Even if I no longer felt the will to, I brought another spoonful to my mouth to avoid any questions or create concern.
“So how did you two hook up?” Angel asked rather blatantly and I nearly spat out the bite I had just taken. Her blue eyes stayed focused on me as if she expected me to answer rather than Ragnvaldr.
“He… Umm, he was my…” I stammered and stumbled through my words. I was lucky enough that Ragnvaldr could finish the sentence for me.
“I was on my shift at the Wolf lodge when she appeared. First journey she had ever taken out of her home and she didn’t even bring a coat,” He chuckled, “It took every bit of coin I had earned that night to go out and buy her one to set off with.” I blushed, not realizing that was exactly what he had done. Knowing what I did now, he had been resting a lot on the idea of traveling with me.
Angel grunted and mumbled something under her breath before speaking up, “That’s a lot for such a troublesome girl.”
“I’m glad he did it.” I spoke up shyly and looked to the side, “I wouldn’t have made it this far without him.”
“She kept going on about not being with me until she found herself. Feelings continued to grow between us.” He continued, his voice softening, “Here we are, and I couldn’t be happier.”
“And our social norms?” Angel retorted, setting her bowl down and crossing her arms.
“As far as I’m concerned, she’s got a legend big enough to be Norn.” He leaned forward, his words more confident than I had ever known them to be.
Realizing that I had kept eating only to have an excuse not to speak, I set the empty bowl down on the table and sat back. I opened my mouth to speak but Tobih found words before I did.
“One day I’ll have a legend big enough to be Norn,” He grinned, now leaning forward onto the table. “All of my guild!” Tobih looked around to each one of us with the biggest smile on his face. I knew he already considered Ragnvaldr and I to be a part of the guild.
“You couldn’t even get a harpy into the guild without a cat chasing her,” Angel wrote off his bravado with her usual gestures. With a flick of her wrist and a narrowing of her eyes, she offended.
“Actually,” His voice became even more excited, “We recently made a peace treaty with some Grawl in the Frostgorge area. They’ve agreed to help us fight a dragon champion!” Tobih was gripping his fork. In his excitement, he was digging it into the table without realizing.
It was excellent news, though. Hearing that the ragtag guild could even accomplish that much showed just how much they did care. The Grawl were known to worship the dragons, unknowing of the destruction the beast brought with them. They followed them blindly until a stronger god appeared before them. For such a religious race, they were sporadic in what they chose to worship. It reminded me a bit of the Flame Legion during the war.
Of course I was surprised to find out that I could remember the actions of the Flame Legion. It wasn’t something I remembered from a book. It was something that seemed so obvious, something I had seen staring me in the face. I remembered a flame legion charr standing before me, but why was I, a scholar, so close?
Ragnvaldr tapped my leg underneath the table, still staring at Tobih as if interested in his conversation, but obviously asking for my attention between us.
“You keep well in contact with your guild then?” I asked, bringing myself to the present once again. “You mentioned one of the members being unwell. Is she okay now?”
“They’re a strong group, stronger than most. Kiffi came off her cold. It seems the Shiverpeaks air was a little more than her tiny stature could handle. Tullia is a great herbalist and took care of it in no time.” He smiled fondly at his words. “I don’t have a lot of time to write back to them, but I find Zen’s carrier dove every few nights.” His chin now rested on the back of his hands, both elbows firmly on the table. It was good to see that the fork finally sat on the table rather than in it. “Not everyone writes me, but most of them send me at least a few words. Usually Kiffi tells me of some tree she found; I never really understand it. Her letters are ended with words of encouragement. She tells me to keep working towards the light I see ahead.
“Tullia is quiet. Her words are short and simple. Like the soldier she is, it’s usually information about how the group is advancing, illnesses in the group, things like that.
“Cinder writes, but it’s rather illegible. I couldn’t imagine that writing with claws sticking out of each finger would prove very easy to read.
“Zen never writes despite having a carrier bird. Kau only ever sends me the same words, over and over. I always enjoy reading them.” Tobih patted the chest of his armor before pulling out a bundle of parchment. Tied together with only a bit of twine, the papers were wrinkled and torn. “The members of the guild, they mean everything to me.”
“Since we’re in town, why don’t you take some time and write to them tonight?” I suggested, knowing they would probably love to hear back from him as well. Ventari’s Refugees sounded like a rather tight-knit guild. I couldn’t help but feel like I needed to be there with them, to forge history with this ragtag group.
Tobih nodded, the smile on his face widened, showing his white teeth, “I’ll do just that, and send a bird out tomorrow!” Seeing his smile was always exciting. It gave me comfort and it made me feel as if there were many more to come with our long journey.
Ragnvaldr yawned, “I think I’m going to turn in early tonight.”
“I’ll join you,” I replied, wanting to give Tobih time to write to his friends. I stood from my chair as Ragnvaldr did from his seat and we left the room filled with Angel and Tobih behind.