It was a long ride heading back north to Divinity’s Reach. We had our hostage bound and gagged, and we found ourselves frequently using a poison that was provided by Slim. Every time he would regain consciousness, he would either try to scream for help or try and kill himself, the poison would make him slip back into unconsciousness. He was cunning enough to pretend to be asleep and wait for a seraph guard to come near the cart. With his shrill and weak screams he nearly had our cover blown, however we were able to silence him in time. Since there was no point to hiding, Daniel had seated himself by my side during the trip. It was nice to finally have some time to talk to him, current events made it difficult to get a moment’s peace.
Serenity decided to go on ahead and inform Slim of our success, I worried however, assassins were still on the prowl. Fortunately, after drawing closer to Divinity’s Reach, we had received a message from Serenity telling us to push the cart towards her mansion. It was a good thing it was close to midnight, otherwise it would have looked very suspicious to anyone watching a group of people drag an unconscious man out of a cart.
We had him tied down in one of Serenity’s guest rooms, with so many spells on him that it would be virtually impossible for him to kill himself unless we wanted him to. Daniel and I were waiting in the living room, waiting for Slim and Salus to arrive.
“Well saying that our prisoner is difficult would be an understatement,” said Serenity as she entered the room. She had a rag in her hands that she was wiping against her knuckles. I could see the small traces of blood on her sleeves.
“It does not surprise me,” I said sitting down by the coffee table. “Loyaltee seems like one of the traits they would possess.”
“What about poisons or magic?” offered Daniel. “Get him to spit it out.” Serenity simply shook her head.
“We had three mesmers on him at once, he won’t budge, and any truth serum we pour down his throat won’t work. He’ll convulse though, as if he’s moving something inside his body, these guys are well trained.”
I notice Daniel sinking into his seat, rubbing his temples as he radiated frustration. He looked exhausted, he seemed to be doing his best to stay awake, and he was quite tense.
“You can head home you know,” I said walking up to him. “You look tired, I’ll update you on the interrogation tomorrow.” Daniel looked up at me and smiled.
“I’m not the only one that looks exhausted, big guy.” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep until we get this guy talking anyway. I wanna be here when he finally breaks.”
Suddenly we heard the doors swing open. We rounded and found Slim and Salus waiting by the door.
“Good evening miss Susurrus,” said Slim as his smile curled up.
“We’re here to see the new guest,” said Salus, “they’re the talkative type we hope?”
I could feel the room grow colder with every second that Salus stood in the room.
“Unfortunately, he is not,” I said.
A grin spread across Salus’s face.
“I shall have a word with him then,” He said as he made his way towards the guest room.
“Observer Salus,” said Serenity. “I don’t—” The observer simply gave Serenity a reassuring smile and continued onward. Serenity stood there realizing that he was not going to turn back.
“Fear not,” said Slim as he sat by my side. “Salus is good at interrogating people and he can keep his composure quite well.” The asura took a casual glance around the room. “Quite the impressive abode miss Susurrus. Do you have any tea?”
“Y-Yes of course, observer Slim.” Serenity motioned to one of her maids and they departed towards the kitchen. A few minutes later, she arrived with a tray of tea and an assortment of biscuits and sweets. While Salus was off doing his “interrogation”, we all discussed how the mission went.
“These assassins are quite the stubborn bunch, are they not?” said Slimm tossing another biscuit into his mouth. “And we have yet to even find the name of their organization.”
“Well, let’s hope observer Salus can get this mouse to squeak.” said Serenity with a sigh.
“Getting mice to squeak is one of his specialties,” chuckled slimm. “gruesome work I’ll admit. But such a burden must be carried by someone.”
“We all seem to be carrying burdens these days,” I said before taking a sip of my tea. “It’s a wonder why we haven’t collapsed yet.”
This was a very tense moment for the secros, the future of our people hanged on the fortitude of a captured assassin. The odds were slightly on our favor, he seemed young, perhaps he was a new member to their group. As much as I did not like the idea of torturing someone for information, the lives of many other’s were at stake here. Being so in touch with death has taught me how valuable life can be, it had left a sort of sensitivity in me. Feeling every life that vanished before my eyes always did have an effect on me, even the ones that I myself have casted into the mists. I was tired of all the death, but fortunately Salus was about to help with this problem’s conclusion.
“Well I can’t get him to say anything,” Salus said as he returned to the living room. “Such a stubborn boy.”
“What?!” we all said in unison, hope seemed to slowly vanish as the human looked at us in defeat.
“Did you try everything?” asked Slim. “Maybe a bit of physical persuasion will work?” Salus simply shook his head.
“So far, he seems completely oblivious to any amount of pain we can induce. The problem is that the boy has no fear, and he knows that any death threats are futile since we’re interrogating him.”
“Let me talk to him,” I said. “I can show him how to be afraid.” A wan smile appeared on Salus as he looked over to Slim. The asura nodded in agreement.
“Very well Anavari, we’ll let you give it a try.”
With a nod I started making my way out of the living room and towards the guest room. I then heard a set of subtle footsteps walking behind me.
“Why am I not surprised that you want to come?” I asked.
“You’re stuck with me, big guy.” Said Daniel. “That means I’m gonna be poking my nose in anything remotely important.” With that we both continued to the room, the one with our captive.
As soon as I opened the door, our eyes locked into a steady gaze. He was much younger than I remembered, barely a man from the looks of it. He kept his eyes behind his long brown hair, but once he rose his face to look at me I could notice something unusual. Fear. Something was wrong, this was not the person Salus had described. I held open the door for Daniel and once he was inside we drew closer to the assassin. He was bound to a chair with shackles of magic, several transparent bindings were around his mouth should he try to bite his tongue off, I did not understand how this mesmer magic worked but I was more than thankful for it. In front of the captured human was a table with another chair across from it. I motioned Daniel to go ahead and take a seat, he took it without any objections. Daniel sat while balancing himself on the rear legs of the chair, staring at the assassin critically.
I stood next to Daniel, holding my hands behind me. I continued to stare at our captive, not quite sure at what exactly I was looking at. I decided to not waste any more time with observations, I needed to get some answers.
“I’ve been told that you were being uncooperative,” I said. “I am here to—”
“We’re the Fringe.” He stammered.
“…Pardon?” I asked arching my eyebrow. Now I was definitely confused.
“W-We are called the fringe,” he said again. “A group of assassins hidden throughout tyria.” He was pouring information out faster than a gash on an artery poured blood. I looked over at Daniel who had the same dumbfounded expression I did.
“The fringe?” asked Daniel. The assassin nodded.
“I-I’m just a walker, so I don’t know much of the true mission.” he said.
“True Mission?” I asked.
“The charr we are looking for,” he elaborated.
“What do you know?” I asked.
“That he is know as the heartless one, and that he is a charr somewhere in tyria. That’s all I was told, it’s the wanderers that know more, I swear!”
All these titles were foreign to me, the fringe, the heartless one, wanderers and walkers. I leaned in and drew closer to the assassin.
“Tell me absolutely everything you know,” I said.
Daniel and I left the room several minutes later. We were only given very few details, the walker really did not know much it seemed. We told the two ravens standing guard by the door to record everything the boy would say and that we would compare any irregularities tomorrow.
“Surely I am not the only one who finds all of this odd,” I said.
“I’d be surprised if you didn’t,” said Daniel. “We didn’t persuade him at all, Salus said something to him.”
“And for some reason he wanted us to hear it all, why not him?”
“That’s the bigger question right there,” said Daniel.
“Perhaps it’s his way of saying that he wants us to take up this mission. Maybe a charr would be better motivated to look into a group of assassins targeting a charr called ‘the heartless one’.”
“I don’t know,” the human shook his head. “Observer Salus does look like the sneaky sort, I don’t trust him though.”
“You’ve been distrustful of Salus ever since you’ve first laid eyes on him,” I said. “What is about him that you find unsettling?”
“Just a feeling…” said Daniel, he didn’t add anything else to that. Once we returned to the others we gave them all the information we were given, and made our way towards home. The night was fairly uneventful, Daniel and I did not talked to each other much, we were much too tired and all we could think about was sleep.
The next morning I went back to the same bench where I met up with Garfas, lo and behold he was there waiting for me.
“One of these days I’m going to ask you how is it that you know when I want to talk to you,” I said as I sat down next to him.
“We all have our secrets, cub.” he said with a smile. “So, how have you been?”
“Things could be better,” I said. “The group of people I work with are in danger and I’m searching for a charr called ‘the heartless one’.”
“You don’t know half of it.”
Garfas simply shrugged. “Well it’s not like we can do anything about it. Since when were we ever lucky enough to have a carefree life?” I nodded in response, he was right, I rarely ever did get a moments rest. “Well as much as I would like to sit and chat, it looks like you have your plate full. I don’t want you to be thinking about your head while you’re dealing with what looks like some really personal stuff right now.”
“Not to mention stressful,” I added. “I figured this could be a good distraction.”
“I hate to be like this, cub, but the more we talk to each other the more you’ll start thinking about your memories. These things are suppose to come on their own, not forced out. I can maybe give you a few hints here and there, but you know why I can’t give you the full story.”
“Of course,” I said. “I will become a drooling vegetable.”
“And you shouldn’t look as these meetings as a distraction for your current problems, these memories will just pile up on what’s already there” I nodded in understanding.
Garfas stirred in his seat as the morning breeze blew through his white fur. I pulled my coat closer to me as I realized how cold it was getting.
“I just have two questions,” I said. “Why is it that I never noticed that I had missing memories until you brought it up. Having several gaps in my head would seem like something I would want to focus on.” Garfas looked around the bench just to make sure no one was around or within listening distance.
“…You called it an altered state of perception,” he said. “The spell on your head makes you shrug off certain things that would seem serious under normal circumstances. A defence mechanism so you won’t think the wrong things by accident. That’s why you didn’t think about me too much even after you started remembering me. Until you actually start focusing on it will the defense fall, thinking that you have recovered enough information about it for it to be safe.”
I shivered as I mulled through the response, but then I decided to move on, and then I realized that it was the defence at work. With a sigh I continued on to my next question.
“One more thing, did I ever once bring up a group called the fringe?” Garfas looked up at the sky with a pensive expression.
“No,” he said looking at me. “Never.” I nodded as I sinked into my seat.
“Good,” I said after a long pause. “that is good.” After that Garfas and I shared a bit of small talk, how I loathed the weather, how wintersday was coming. He mentioned that I was getting much too thin and that I should eat more. And after our short conversation I said my goodbyes, and he said that he would come back whenever I needed him. As unsettling as it should be to hear that someone would clairvoyantly know when I need to talk to them, it was nice to have him around again. I found moments with him precious, and I did not want to let go of them. That day I returned to Daniel, with all the chaos that was awaiting us, not quite ready to face them yet… but getting close to it.