“Chaos,” I answered. “Absolute chaos.” I then began to explain everything that I saw yesterday. How the charr were forced to hide in safe houses, and my meeting with Slim.
“Sounds pretty intense,” said Daniel as he stood up and walked over to his closet. “So what did you and Slim talk about?”
“Well as of right now no one knows who these assassins are looking for. But Slim has an idea.” Daniel simply looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to elaborate. “We plan on using me as bait, capture one of the assassins and draw out as much information as possible.” Daniel’s eyes widened, I could tell that he was not exactly on board with the idea.
“All that’s easier said than done, big guy.” He said with concern. Daniel began to change out of his armor and slipped into something more appropriate for city folk to wear. “What are the specifics of the plan?”
“That has not been explained to me as of now,” I said shaking my head. “Slim wanted you to be there, and frankly, I would not feel comfortable executing such a plan without you to look over me. So I may have had something to do with it as well.” I saw a smile creep up Daniel’s face.
“Aw, you make me feel special, big guy.” He said sitting down next to me.
“Think nothing of it,” I said trying to avoid eye contact. “Only natural that someone I trust is there with me…in case things go awry.” The human began to pat me on the shoulder as I glanced at him, his smile ever present.
“Don’t worry, Anavari. Your butt’s safe in my hands!”
“On that note…” I began with an arched eyebrow. “We simply need to contact the ravens to meet up with Slim. He said he would have them send us a secure location.”
“Sounds good,” said Daniel buttoning his shirt. “How’s tomorrow sound? Today should be enough for me to recover from the job.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I started towards the door. “Do you want me to go get you something?”
“I’m starving!” groaned Daniel as he collapsed on his bed. “I’d appreciate something with bacon…or beef… you know what? Just get me every kind of meat there is.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” I said with a chuckle as I strode out. This was good, I had an excuse to leave the house, and Daniel would not suspect a thing. I needed to get a few more words from Garfas. I was not sure how exactly I was going to find him… but I had an idea.
It only took me a few minutes to get Daniel some food. I was rather quick about it so he would not notice that I took a small detour. I was now sitting in the middle of Dwayna’s high road, a large upward path that was close to the city gates. It was a nice little area, it gave me a good view of the lower roads and the abundance of flowers was always nice.
I sat awkwardly on a lone bench, the box of food by my side, the occasional citizen would stop to glance at me and I would shoot a glare that would say “go away”. Suddenly I felt as if someone was staring at me, as I glanced towards my side I found that my instincts were right. The large white charr stood there, his ridiculous pointy hat and a thin leather jerkin showing off most of his chest-fur.
“You’re always so grumpy when you’re anxious,” said the charr crossing his arms. He went ahead and sat down next to box of food.
“That is because you were taking too long,” I said disgruntled. Garfas simply shrugged.
“Got sidetracked,” I released a snort at his reply. There was a pause. “So how did you know I’d find you in the first place?”
“You always knew how to find me for some reason,” I said. “I suppose you could say that it was a hunch.”
I looked at the charr and found him smiling. I could tell that he was anxious to say something.
“I really am happy to see you again,” he said. I immediately broke eye contact. “Heh, bashful as always.”
”So, why the secrecy,” I said trying to get things moving along. “What danger could there be with you talking to Daniel?” It was quite a moment before Garfas answered, he took the occasional glance down the road and to people that happened to wander by.
“It’s best if no one knows about me right now. Well, that I am currently in this city and talking to you that is. You can tell all the stories you want that involve the Citadel. If someone you know were to see me that would lead to questions, and questions lead snooping and let’s just say this is something you don’t want to snoop into. It’s better to just go with it and let everything take its course.”
“Or else my mind collapses,” I mused. “Wonderful.”
“You did a complicated thing to your head, cub. I know it’s not easy being told all of this but it’s for the better.”
I shuffled closer to the box of food and moved it over to my lap.
“This is tedious,” I said annoyed. “All these fragments dancing in my head. Not being able to recall their origin.” We both sat there. Silently staring at the box of food.
“Something tells me it’s more than just your memories,” said Garfas. “You don’t look so hot, what’s eating you?”
“…nothing’s wrong with me.” I stated flatly.
“And I don’t think anything is,” reassured Garfas. “but something other than your memory problem is bothering you. C’mon, spit it out.”
Now it was my turn to pause.
“I just…want things to be convenient.” Garfas responded with a blank stare. “Forget it.” I stood up as I held on tightly to the box of food. “I need to give this to Daniel anyways. When can we next meet?”
Garfas simply stayed in his seat and offered me a warm smile. “I’ll show up when I think it’s best. I’ll sneak into your room if I have to.”
“Please don’t…” I smirked at the idea. “The last thing I want is to wake up to your ugly face.” Garfas simply rasped at my comment.
“You know you love my face!” With that I waved goodbye and started making my way back home. It was a good thing that I kept the conversation relatively brief. Daniel’s food was starting to get cold.
The next day, Daniel and I were making our way through Rata-Sum. Every so often we would survey the area to see if we were followed. After confirming that we were indeed free of pursuers, we made our way to the safe house as quickly as possible. We were both greeted by Jix. After politely refusing tea and food several times we asked where we could find Slim. The chipper asura pointed to the lower floors and with a “thank you” we started towards the correct room. A few flights of stairs later and we reached the last floor, the entranced loomed over us, gazing at us expectantly.
“So… ready?” I asked trying to hide my nervousness. I then felt Daniel’s hand on my shoulder.
“It’s fine, big guy,” he said. “You know you’re not in this alone.” His words did give me a pang of contentment, so I returned his statement with a smile and I reached for the door. It was unlocked, so I twisted the knob and pushed forward.
It was the same room where I had spoken to Slim last time, except a few of the alchemic devices had been stored away. They were replaced by maps, books, and what appeared to be a few glasses of wine. As we looked around for Slim, we found him sitting by a table with a glass in his hand, next to him was a human. Daniel and I exchanged a pensive glance and returned to focusing on Slim. Then the asura motioned us to come closer.
“Come hither boys, we don’t bite.” said Slim not turning towards us. He most likely noticed out presence as soon as we were by the door. Daniel and I started making our way to the two, taking a closer look at the human before us. He was tall, almost as tall as I was. His hair flowed past his shoulders like a curtain of silk. He turned towards me and gave a wide smile with his bright blue eyes. Suddenly I felt the air around me grow colder.
“Ah, you two must be Anavari and Daniel.” he said with elation. “Might I say that it is an honor to finally meet you two. Slim has told me much.” The human then offered his hand.
“The pleasure is mine,” I said accepting his hand, it felt like touching a frozen corpse. “you catch me at a disadvantage however, I do not know who you are.”
“I’m glad you asked,” chimed in Slim. “Anavari, Daniel, may I introduce you to observer Salus. He will be helping us plan out the trap.”
Another observer, I thought. I knew there was more than one, but I had never seen one other than Slim. Even seeing one observer was something few people ever get to experience.
“Well gentlemen!” Slim caught everyone’s attention by loudly clapping his hands together. “Shall we get to work.”
“I agree,” said Daniel. “The sooner we can get this over with the sooner we can figure out more about these assassins.” I noticed that he was much more serious than usual.
“Agreed,” Salus narrowed his eyes while smiling at Daniel. “You know when to act serious when the situation calls for it Daniel.” Daniel’s facial expression did not change, he simply glanced at Salus and said, “it’s just something I was taught as a kid that’s all.” There was a pause between the two.
“So, what are we looking at here,” I asked pointing at the map on the table. It looked like a detailed map of kryta.
“This is our attack plan,” said Slim pointing over towards Gendarren Fields. “You’ll be posing as a travelling merchant. However instead of cargo you’ll be carrying a squad of secros. Once you reach the assigned area, you’ll camp for the night and wait for them to strike. There will be another squad hiding in the trees over here.” Slim pointed to a large clearing in the middle of the road. Several red dots were spread throughout the area. “The plan is simple enough, though it could become much more complicated depending on how many assassins we encounter.”
“Rest assured that I will send my best men in this assignment,” added Salus. “The safety of my fellow secros comes first.”
“I’ll be inside the cargo,” said Daniel. “I can look out for potential threats better than most.”
“With all due respect Daniel,” said Salus. “Wouldn’t you prefer that someone more specialized take that position?” Daniel simply glanced at Salus and said, “with all due respect sir, you underestimate me. Either I travel next to Anavari and be his lookout or Anavari won’t take the job.”
I was taken aback. This was a first that I had seen Daniel act like this, even in the middle of combat he had always stayed so… mellow. Right now he was tense, ready to strike anyone if need be. It was even surprising that he was taking decisions for me, he was always so reluctant about such things, and giving attitude to an observer of all people. Fortunately Salus did not seem insulted, it was more as if he was entertained.
“I am afraid I will have to agree with Daniel,” I said stepping in between the two. “Either Daniel is by my side on this one or I don’t go at all.” Slim and I could sense the tension in the room, we both exchanged a glance that told the other to do what they could to defuse the situation.
“Well I’m sure we can trust Daniel with that task Salus,” said Slim. “He’s proven more than capable to handle a situation such as this. I dare say he’s just as good as our top infiltrators.”
“Very well,” said Salus with a grin. “Let us see how this turns out.”
The rest of the planning was rather dull. Only a few strategies and a review of details about the assassins that we already knew. After everything was said and done Salus decided to take his leave. Then Daniel and I were left catching up with Slim. After a relatively long conversation, Daniel and I said our goodbyes and made our way out of the safe house. There we stood in the streets of Rata-Sum. Now that we were alone, I wouldn’t stop staring at him.
“What?” said Daniel finally breaking under the strain I was giving with my look.
“What happened back there?” I asked. “You were all tense and serious. It was completely unlike you. And you look about ready to snap, at an observer of all people.” Daniel responded by simply rolling his eyes and he started moving faster, trying to avoid my gaze. Now I was left with my mouth hanging open, it had been a long time since I’d seen him act like this. He only ever behaved like this back when we first met and when I would ask things that were too personal.
“Do not avoid me, Daniel Virai,” I said using his full name. He cringed at the sound of it., however he continued walking.
“I’m going home,” he said. “I’ll see you there.”
So that’s how you want to play, huh? He would have seen the malicious gleam coming from my face had he bothered to turn around. Daniel was always very perceptive but for some reason I was the only one who could sneak up on him. So, by striding as quietly as I could I moved up behind him hoisted his small frame over my shoulder.
“What are you doing?!” exclaimed Daniel trying to shake free, his efforts were futile however. He was in my grasp and I was not letting go, even if he started hitting my shoulder repeatedly or kicking my side. “Anavari we are in public!”
“I’ll stop once you tell me what is wrong.” Daniel knew that this was a situation that he could not escape from, and just like we he hated drawing attention to himself, and it seemed that we were drawing enough prying eyes as it is. So, with a defeated sigh his body went lax.
“Okay,” he said annoyed. “Just put me down and lets go somewhere with less people staring at us.”
With that, we both started making our way out of Rata-Sum and back home. Once inside Daniel simply slumped over to the couch in the living room and did nothing more than shift around for several moments.
“I get that things have been rather hectic,” I said. “But no matter what the situation you always seem to find the good side. What is the matter?”
“…I don’t know,” said Daniel. “Part of me wants to help out our friends, and another part of me wants to just run off, start again. And try and convince you to come with me. Just the two of us exploring Tyria like old times.”
I sat down next to Daniel, and he sat up and leaned against me.
“Old times were fun I will admit that,” I said. “But this is a whole new life. Its more than just us, now.”
“I know,” said Daniel. “It just all seems so very… inconvenient.”
“That is a family for you,” I said with a chuckle. “But I’m willing to help them get out of this problem. What about you?” Daniel gave me a smirk.
“To be honest I’m not really on board with risking my neck for the group. But if it’s you then I can do that. Just for you.”
“That is good enough for me,” I said offering my hand. Daniel accepted the gesture and we both shook, sealing our deal. “Look out for each other like always.”
“That’s the plan.”
“Then let us get ready for the mission,” I said. “I want to take every precaution.”