I have spent the morning being useful. It would seem that in my current condition sleep is a valuable activity, even if it means that I am only resting my mind, and now with a good number of hours of rest, I do feel invigorated and ready to face the day – so I have been tidying up. Humans seem to have so many irrelevant things in their lives, things that appear to serve no purpose beyond taking up space. Arguably the asura have just as much clutter, or at least the lab back in Rata Sum did, but their clutter is wrapped in the indecipherable and abstruse. I can only assume that humans have no concept of separate sleeping quarters and – should it take one unexpectedly – choose to sleep wherever they fall, given that there are enough cushions and something Genni refers to as soft furnishings to supply the whole of Hoelbrak, but in just one room.
“They must really hate chickens.”
Genni looks up at me from over a bowl of something steaming. “Hm?”
“All these feathers,” I mutter, running a golem hand across the fabric of one cushion, pleased by the generated sensation. It is not exactly the same as feeling, touching something real – but it is enough to make me feel more alive than I have done in days.
“Oh,” responds Genni, shrugging, before continuing to eat breakfast.
I move the cushion to one side, adjusting the angle and feeling slightly bothered that the fabric’s colour clashes slightly with the cushion next to it.
“Nothing is happening,” I growl.
Genni sighs and drops her spoon into the bowl. “It’s been a day, Asbjorn.”
“For some, a day is a lifetime.”
“And for others nothing more than a fleeting thought,” counters Genni. “We could be here for weeks yet-”
“Weeks? What could possibly take weeks? Treen said only a few days!”
Before Genni can respond, Treen, followed by our human companions, strides into the room. “Good morning!” he greets us both. William offers a grin and a wave, whilst Amber simply nods. It is then I notice a third human behind them, another woman emerging from the shadow of the room’s doorway to go and stand silently next to Amber. Where William and Amber seem to work off each other – his cheery countenance and her sullen, somewhat haughty indifference – this new stranger seems to stand apart. She is quite beautiful for a human, her movements sure, with a poise balanced between readiness and confidence, giving her a striking air; I cannot help but think of Helena.
“The gate is operational,” announces Treen, making it sound as if he was singly responsible for the feat.
“That was quick,” I reply.
Genni rolls her eyes and mutters something before speaking up, “How soon can we head out?”
Treen sits himself at the table and the three humans remain near the door. “Immediately. I see no reason for you and Asbjorn to remain here.”
Genni’s eyes narrow. “Me and Asbjorn? You’re not coming with us?”
“No, I shall be returning to Rata Sum. I want to see if I can find remnants of Asbjorn’s device.”
“But it was destroyed.”
“We don’t know that for sure, and besides, I will be able to serve you better if I have a fully functioning lab.” Treen glances at the humans. “Now, you can stay here for a while longer, if you wish. Our friends will take care of you, but we don’t feel that there is much to be gained from the human city.”
“How so?” I ask, noting the third human woman jumping slightly, maybe surprised by a talking golem.
Treen turns fully in his chair, arm resting on the back. “Amber, perhaps you could explain.”
Amber nods. “Simply put: we have no leads. Sadhira,” she indicates the woman standing next to her, “has considerable resources at her disposal and yet it would seem that whoever you are involved with did not originate from Divinity’s Reach.”
“What sort of resources?” asks Genni.
“Money,” answers William, cutting in front of Amber. “Lots of it, too, more than she has need for, oh and she refuses to marry me – so now I will never know wealth.” William sighs and shakes his head in an overly dramatic fashion. Amber appears incensed by the man’s humour, but the woman named Sadhira smiles broadly.
“Indeed,” continues Amber. “As I was saying, we have very little to go on. Our original plan for Sadhira to spend some time in the city gathering intelligence and to follow on, seems to have drawn a blank.”
“That is it then?” I ask.
“Sorry, but I am afraid so.” Amber does not look like the sort of person to apologise, at least not very often.
“Then I will return home – thank you for your efforts, it is appreciated.”
“Sorry, Asbjorn,” adds William. “If you want to stay for a while, tour the city, we’ll gladly oblige.”
Sadhira nods in agreement. “I too apologise. But if we can help in any other manner, you just have to ask.”
Damn and blast, I sigh inwardly. “No apologies are required, you have done more than enough as it is.”
Amber nods. “Good luck.” With that she turns and is followed out of the door by William and Sadhira, both offering their own wishes before they disappear.
Genni rises from her chair. “Before you say it, I am coming with you.”
“No. I am in this as much as you are, Asbjorn. You may have more at stake, but I want answers just the same. Besides, it doesn’t seem like they were much use.” She nods at the doorway. “You should have asked them to locate the girl.”
“Forget the girl, I-” I want to say that I am not even sure that I actually saw her now, at least not after last night’s dream, but it seems irrelevant. “You know, very well – I will gladly accept your company.” And I mean it too; stubbornness does not seem to have served me well of late.
“Well, I suggest you both prepare and then take some rest,” says Treen. “Traffic at the gate will be heavy for some time yet. Perhaps we can head out this afternoon.”
“Does this mean Lion’s Arch has been saved?” asks Genni.
“I don’t know for sure, but I doubt it – the gate is currently re-directed to the Vigil’s headquarters, a way north of Lion’s Arch.”
“The Vigil?” I ask. The name is quite familiar, but I cannot place it immediately.
“A military order.”
“Oh, of course. You mean those that are involved in Orr.”
Treen nods. “The very same and quite a remarkable force. I understand that they were involved in settling certain differences between the humans and the charr.”
“Sounds like they have rather lofty ideals.”
“They beat up dragons for a living, Asbjorn – it probably affords one an unusual perspective.” Treen places his hands on the edge of the table and rocks his chair back. “I think I will go for a walk; I could do with some air. Care to join me?”
I just want to go home. For all that I know, Helena could be in danger. All of the uncertainty, the confusing jumble of the last few days, has amounted to very little and despite the attempts to piece at least small parts together, we have absolutely nothing to go on. Add to this the lack of anything further from our human companions, assuming that their intentions are even genuine, I realise that more than ever there is now only one task I must complete.
“Can we just go to the gate please?” I ask.
Genni nods. “Of course.”
Treen gives our lodging a cursory once over. “Very well, I suppose there is little keeping us here. We can journey to the Vigil’s headquarters together and from there I will return to Rata Sum – I assume that the gate to Hoelbrak will be active.” Treen sighs. “We are in need of a fresh start: you need to see what you can recover from Asbjorn’s home and I will see what I can do about getting the required facilities.”
Nodding in agreement, Genni and I follow Treen outside into the bright sunshine of Divinity’s Reach.
Genni stares up at the tall buildings and archways. “Perhaps when this is all over we should take some time to see the city to its fullest extent,” she says.
“Oh, you will not be leaving the city any time soon,” says a high-pitched and extremely agitated voice. “Guards, they’re the ones you want – arrest them!”
Edited by Amy