Our explanation diminished rapidly in terms of importance as the news broke throughout first the curious onlookers gathered at the gate, and then spread like wildfire across the Krytan city, Divinity’s Reach.
Lion’s Arch has fallen.
The officious man turned out to be a member of the Seraph, their local militia, and apparently of some regard judging by the reaction of those who dogged his every step, responding without hesitation to a series of quickly issued commands. Before long, the area surrounding the gate was occupied only by those emblazoned in a silver-gold uniform.
Lion’s Arch has fallen.
A collective hush gathers about the city, blanketing the streets to rest upon sellers’ cries and courtiers’ scandal, encircling the majesty of rising spires to thread through office and room alike with a cautious touch that alights on supposition and whispered hearsay.
Lion’s Arch has fallen.
To whom? Charr, Centaur, Risen, Pirates – Pirates? They’re all pirates in Lion’s Arch! A nervous laugh – too soon to make light of the situation? What threat? The sun shines and multi-coloured bunting, strewn about the street, tells not of threat, nor clashes or the fall of some far-flung ramshackle port that postures as a centre of free commerce.
But, Lion’s Arch has fallen.
“Beware the skies! Beware the skies!” a man screams hysterically as he charges along the cobbled streets, chased by a single Seraph; Genni pauses to watch them pass.
We have been in the city but an hour and whilst I have no doubt it is a grand city worthy of further attention, I have no stomach for such business.
“Remind me of how we ended up here,” Treen says as Genni, losing interest in the crazed man and guard, has started walking again. “All we needed to do was go straight ahead.” Treen sticks a flat hand out in front. “Straight,” he repeats.
“I do not think we were left with any other choice,” I offer.
“Oh, is that so?” Treen stops. “Then explain to me exactly, what possessed you to blow a circuit and go off chasing humans?”
“I thought that I saw someone I know – someone I recognised – a girl.”
Treen folds his arms and sighs before taking in our surroundings, his eyes roaming across and up a huge arch that spans above us. “Have either of you been here before?”
“No,” I confirm.
“Me neither,” mumbles Genni, disappearing around a corner section of the base of the arch.
Treen sighs again and we both follow the little warrior to find an open patch of remarkably well-tended grass with a number of benches placed around the perimeter. Only one bench is being used and the two humans seated there look up, offering only a cursory inspection of us before returning to their own conversation. Genni pulls herself up onto a seat and Treen joins her. I stand to one side, privately amused by the fact that their feet do not touch the floor.
Genni lifts her head, eyes closed and then intones:
“Beware the passage of flaming red
Burn, choke, set atop the enraged mind
Stoke the forge of a pact, a metal
To discard upon a toxic waste
Once proud Lion’s now disgraced.”
“Lion’s Arch has fallen,” she adds after a pause and then opens her eyes again, ignores Treen’s scowl and looks directly at me. “Who is this girl then?”
“She was one of the two we found after the strange explosion… portal, or whatever you call it. But she should be under the care of my wife right now – or at least she was.”
Genni nods. “You saw her go through the portal to Divinity’s Reach?”
“I think so.”
“And you’re sure it’s her?”
“Could be a twin,” Treen adds.
I feel like a fool standing here beside the bench, but how does a Golem sit down? “She could have been a twin,” I agree, mostly to satisfy Treen. “I am willing to challenge that when I find her.”
“If,” corrects Genni. “Do you know anything about her? Her name?”
“So here we sit in Divinity’s Reach – simply by chance. Somehow I don’t think chance will give us much to go on as far as locating the girl is concerned. We have nothing to go on. No names, no nothing – what do you propose, Mr Bear?”
I stare down at Genni. I do not know. I simply do not know. How can I answer this when I do not even really know why I am here?
Treen hops down from the bench and begins to pace. “Let us analyse what we do know. One: the anomaly in the woods close to Asbjorn’s home. Two: persons were recovered and…?” He looks at me for clarification.
“And my wife and I took them home. Our only motive was to care for them, we did not know what else to do.” For some reason I feel guilty about this, like I should have known exactly what to do and the result would not be where I find myself now.
“Elaborate for me, Asbjorn: tell me – just the facts – tell me what happened.”
“We took them home. The girl remained comatose, the man recovered – oh, the device. I brought the device back from the woods too. The next morning, when I was inspecting it, it went off-”
“Went off?” Treen interrupts.
“Yes, a noise and a bright light, and then Helena smashed it to pieces.”
“Details,” insists Treen.
“That was it – I was trying to work out what it was and… I suppose I triggered something.”
Treen nods. “So we know that at that time the device was still active, so to speak – carry on.”
“I-” Do I tell them about my legend? “I decided that something needed to be done. That we needed to know where they were from, what was wrong with them, and even what the device might be. The man and I, we eventually left for Hoelbrak and on the way – he died.”
“Because of his condition?” asks Treen.
“No, he fell off a cliff.” Genni’s eyes narrow. “Okay, we fought… sort of. I threatened him – I knew he was up to something, that he was somehow connected to the device, but just when I had managed to get him to tell me his name – he jumped from the edge.”
Treen’s eyes widen. “Just like that? Killed himself?”
“Clearly you were not the greater threat,” muses Treen. “That would explain what came later.”
“You mean the attacks on the labs?” asks Genni.
“Yes, exactly that. Was that all he told you, just his name?”
“Yes – no, wait. He did say something about only wanting to be a thief… or something along those lines.”
“Ah ha.” Treen clicks his fingers. “A little nudge and it would appear that, chance or not, we are in exactly the right place.”
Genni glances at me and shrugs. “How is that so, Treen?”
“Both the initial victims are human; the attackers were human.” He smiles.
“And we’re in Divinity’s Reach,” concludes Genni.
“Exactly! Now we just need to know his name and find ourselves some thieves!” exclaims Treen with enthusiasm.
I cannot help but look over at the two humans on the other bench, but they do not seem to be paying any attention to our conversation as one of them, a human female, giggles at some private jest made by her male counterpart.
“Oh, wonderful idea, Treen. How stupidly cliche!” Genni rolls her eyes. “We’ll just work out where the thieves operate and march right in.”
“Well, why not?”
“Well, for starters, don’t you think the Seraph would have thought of that?” Genni lets loose an angry squeak. “Hello? Any thieves here? We need in on your machinations, preferably anything to do with portal technology – perfect.” The asura warrior hops from the bench and marches up to the human couple close-by. “Hey there!” she announces with a bright and only just slightly sarcastic tone. “Do either of you two happen to be thieves?”
Treen holds his hand to his face and shakes his head as the couple, startled by the interruption, gape at Genni.
“No? Didn’t think so,” finishes Genni as she about-turns and marches back to our bench. “Maybe in childish stories with plot holes large enough to swallow Rata Sum ten times over, and that the youngest progeny would be able to spot within the first sentence-” Genni jabs a finger at Treen “-but not in the fresh air of day – dimwit!” Treen looks to protest, holding up two placating hands. “No! This is serious and we need serious help – something dangerous is going on and too many lives have been lost to foolish assumptions. Asbjorn has lost his body, we’ve lost our labs to goodness knows who and we don’t have a clue as to where we start!”
I have never seen Genni like this, albeit I have not known her for long – but the usual calm and assessing warrior has vanished to be replaced by a state of rage.
“We’ve just ambled from one situation to another and sooner or later, we’ll be the ones who end up dead! Is that what you want? Is that-”
Previously unnoticed, I see that we now have an audience as the two humans have quietly approached during Genni’s tirade. I raise my arm to warn Genni, but the male, red-haired and with a battle-hardened physique, politely taps Genni on the shoulder. “Ahem,” he clears his throat.
Genni screams, spins with a small leap and plants her fist on the man’s jaw. The man staggers and trips, landing on his backside with a grunt.
Everyone, including Genni, freezes. To our surprise the woman snorts and then breaks into laughter, a high, bright sound that carries a certain confident quality. Stepping over to the man, she holds out her hand, which he takes with a dark look that quickly turns to a wry grin. With apparent ease, the woman hauls him up and I note that the two have a certain way about their movements.
The man rubs his jaw and to add to our surprise, bows to Genni. “I believe,” he says, patting his behind to dislodge any dirt, “that we may be of some assistance.”
Edited by Amy