There had been general panic on the streets of Lion’s Arch after they issued a warning to everyone to stay in their homes. More than a few of the families had decided that the warning was enough to warrant a vacation to see relatives or friends in Krytan ruled areas – those away from the water at least. Travelers and families crowded the asura gates.
We did enough to gather the supplies we needed as citizens fought to stock up on food and drinking water and other things they might need in case they were relocated. Angel was particularly good at pushing through the crowd, yelling insults to those who dared to stand in her way before shoving them aside. Ragnvaldr, who had his own shopping list because he was the cook, was a bit more polite but still assertive enough to get through relatively quickly. Tobih and I watched the two disappear into a crowd from the edge of the bridge we sat on. The only thing calm in the city seemed to be the water beneath our feet, which was moving so slowly it may as well have ceased.
I kicked my feet, noticing how scuffed my boots had become. It didn’t matter, though. We would be headed to Orr soon and my boots were bound to become a little ragged through the rough terrain we had ahead. Tobih’s armor told a different story, though. He would spend his time before sleep polishing his armor to brilliance. Unlike his, though, mine had nothing to polish. Because most scholar magic users were expected to fight from the back, we donned cloth. To channel magic, we often had to perform very precise movements with our weapons in order to pull a spell off without trouble. Cloth allowed for more movement than metal and thus it became traditional garb for us. While it may be important to have room to swing a sword like Tobih’s, it was more advantageous for someone who had to be so close to fight to have something that couldn’t be pierced easily. It’s difficult to fight with an axe in your shoulder.
Tobih glanced around the area, not keeping his eye on one thing for very long. I couldn’t tell if he was worried or bored. I was more than happy to see the city. Tall ships turned buildings surrounded us on every side, people moving frantically in between them. Even the bridges were made from the ruins of boats. A city made from ruin, like the Lion’s Court fountain read, “From ruin we prosper”, it all felt as if it could recover or stand up from anything. Even the lion statues carved from the large building-sized rocks stood tall and proud even amongst the panicked citizens.
Reaching into my backpack, I pulled out my quill and some paper. The quill moved across the page as my eyes surveyed the area around me. Ink lines were created so quicky, so smoothly as I touched the paper. Cursive letters formed as I read the names of the shops and businesses around me.
“What’s that?” Tobih asked, looking down to the parchment I was focused so diligently on.
“A map. If I make a map of where I’ve been, I won’t be able to forget it again.” At least that was my hope. Realizing that I didn’t want to forget anything else ever again, I decided to keep better track of my journeys. Map-making was perfect for that and it all came so naturally to me.
“It’s pretty good! That dot right there-” he pointed to the first dot and name I had written “-is that building.” He pointed at the building in front of us. “Right?” I nodded and he spoke up again, “I’m still not very good at reading maps, but I think I can understand this one.” A smile spread across my lips and I continued my work on surveying and drawing out the area around where I was sitting. I remembered everywhere we had been, from the gates to Angel’s house and Old Lion’s Arch and back here. All of it transferred onto the paper so easily for me. Tobih watched each stroke and letter make it onto the paper.
I must have lost track of time though.
“Look at what Claire is making.” I jumped as Tobih spoke as it caught me off guard. Turning around, I saw Ragnvaldr towering over the two of us. His blue eyes stared down at mine before moving to the map in my lap. Reaching down, Ragnvaldr picked it up carefully and examined it.
“It has a few more things I need to put down on it,” I admitted shyly. I watched his face, waiting for any sort of reaction as he studied the parchment. The corners of his lips turned up before he handed it back.
“I won’t have to worry about us becoming lost, then.” He stooped down, blocking half of the bridge we were on, causing some of the crowd to walk across the next bridge over.
“She even mapped out Old Lion’s Arch just from having that one dive into it,” Tobih mentioned, the wonder and amazement at my simple task in his voice.
“Like I said, I won’t allow myself to forget anywhere I’ve been.” It was more of a vow than letting them know. I was quite proud of myself after hearing all of these compliments. Battle may be my weak spot, but cartography was just as useful in a long trip such as this.
Angel was with us for only a brief moment before walking across the bridge. “I have the supplies,” She pointed at several bags slung across her back, “I’m just going to go get the cart ready.” As she walked away, I noticed at least two wagon wheels underneath the bags. I snickered, remembering how I had met her; Tobih seemed to have noticed as well except he just smiled silently. Ragnvaldr held a hand out for me. I took it and he pulled me up and kept me close.
“We are really going to Orr, then?” he pondered out loud. Tobih stood up as well.
“No turning back now,” I quietly responded and looked up at him. “If I want to settle things in my life, we have to go.” Ragnvaldr’s hand squeezed mine softly. I knew he was afraid to go, to let me go, to put him, his friends, and me in danger. I knew that the only reason he was going was to make me happy, to finally allow me to make peace with myself. He was going to let me finish my journey, no matter the danger. He still worried and it showed.
Tobih tapped my shoulder, bringing my attention back down to Tyria. “She’s waving at us,” he informed and pointed towards Angel, who was standing up the ramp leading to Lion’s Court. Our dolyak and cart waited for us. We all walked together, ascending the ramp and taking a good look at the cart she had won in a gamble.
It was a basic wooden cart that had four wooden pillars standing up with beams as if a canopy once belonged to it. The two spare wheels were now tied to the sides along with two barrels. One smelled oddly of alcohol and knowing Angel, it was confirmed. The other seemed to be filled with drinking water, which was smarter thinking. Blankets had been tossed across the cart, some being used as a replacement canopy. I have to admit, I was happy to see that the soft comforter was included in that batch. Pillows, too, were tied up with our sleeping mats and had been placed carefully to one corner. Bags of food sat beneath the two benches on either side of the cart. We were all pretty impressed, more so when Angel showed us the trunk space underneath the driver’s chair which was filled with all of our tools and others we hadn’t seen. She stood proudly by her winnings, patting the gray dolyak and obviously waiting for comments.
Ragnvaldr was the first to oblige her, “Must have been quite a hand.”
“The best I had all night,” she smirked and put her hands on her hips triumphantly.
“If these are the kinds of things you’ll get from gambling, I can’t say I have much against it.” I ran my hands across the sanded oak. “Just don’t bet this while we’re using it.”
“Hop on in, let’s test it out,” Angel seemed quite excited on top of her pride and jumped into the driving seat.
“This does feel a bit weird without Kau, huh?” Tobih remarked, climbing into the back. Ragnvaldr followed him and helped me into the cart.
“Now I don’t have to worry about a centaur accusing me of offending him and his people. Or how terribly he pulled the thing,” was her reply as she got the dolyak to take his first steps towards our destination.
Tobih frowned and didn’t say anything more. I couldn’t just let her say those things though.
“Kau is a part of the guild. Can’t you be a little more respectful? Especially with his friends around.” My voice had gotten more away from me than I had wanted it to. I was regretting my words but I knew that I’d regret not saying them as well.
“Fine, fine. No wonder you’re a fire elementalist. I was kidding anyway.” She looked back at me as we rounded the Lion’s Court fountain. Despite my earlier doubts, I stood firm, much like Kiffi had in standing up to her. Angel smirked and faced forward again. “I’m going to grab that asura by the ears next time I see her,” she chuckled.
Tobih let out a sigh of relief and perked back up, that toothy grin showing up again. Ragnvaldr had tightened his grip on my hand, but he, too, was smiling.
“We’ll be at Portage Hills by nightfall and camp there. Beyond that are marshes; marshes I know not to take a cart through at night. We’ll leave there as soon as the sun rises. As for the next day, we’ll shoot for Rhiann’s Respite, a haven the sylvari are using to help fend off the undead… in their own ways. We should be safe to stay the night there before moving through the Floodwater Causeway. It’s the only way into Sparkfly Fen that doesn’t involve water. ” Angel ran us through the plans, which she always left the details until the last minute. We had learned to trust her instinct and we could live with her being our navigation.
The cart was just clearing the bridge and walking into Fort Marriner. My pen was scratching everything I had just seen down onto the parchment I had earlier. We were surrounded by practicing Lionguard and equipment merchants.
“By the way, how did you know what size swimwear to buy us all?” Tobih randomly blurted out, directing the question towards our driver. I spent the next minute thinking about why he would have something so trivial on his mind, but then I began to question it as well.
“Well I’ve seen you all naked or in your underwear, it wasn’t difficult to judge from there,” she retorted inconspicuously. I shifted around uncomfortably. It didn’t bother me that she had, but it did bother me that she could just say it out loud so easily.
“R-right,” he stuttered, pushing his hair back with his hand. His gaze didn’t meet with hers until we completely cleared Lion’s Arch. I don’t think any of ours did.