It had been a week since we captured the boy that worked for the fringe. We were slowly able to get more information from him, though it was not much. He was a walker, the lowest rank in the echelons of the fringe, barely a recruit. higher up were wanderers, travelers, and then stalkers. At least that was the highest rank he knew. according to the walker, they had several bases in all of Tyria, however he had yet to see any of them. As much information as we wanted to siphon from him, there was only so much he knew. Despite our victory, the secros still had to hide their charr, proceed with extreme caution, and look for this “heartless one”.
“You know,” said Daniel as he returned after a long day of work. “if I didn’t know any better, I would say you were bored.” I raised my eyebrows at him in an unamused fashion. All over the living room were small stones and wires of different metals. Some of the stones were gilded while others were accented with copper. Daniel knew about my jewel crafting hobby, but he had never seen just how aggressive I could get with it. Already I had several rings and amulets set aside, not really sure what I planned to do with them but they were there. I also had a golden amulet around my neck with a sapphire in the center, it rested on top of my medallion.
“Well local work has been a bit scarce as of late,” I said as I wrapped a copper wire around a large chunk of amber. “So I figured that I should keep myself busy… I made you dinner by the way.” Daniel glanced over to the dining table and noticed the large amount of food I had cooked.
“Did you make dinner or a feast?” he asked. “Big guy, did you invite any friends over?”
“No,” I answered indifferently.
“Did you eat yet?”
“Okay,” said the human as he walked up to me. “then you should help me finish up the food, because I have no clue how I’m going to eat all of that!” He motioned to all the food on the table.
“…I suppose I did make too much.”
With a chuckle, Daniel guided me to the dining room table and we both enjoyed a large meal. While I was stabbing through my chicken with my fork Daniel decided to strike up some conversation.
“So what did you do while I was out?” asked the human.
“Mostly just took a walk around the city,” I said. “Bought some food for us, talked to Navai briefly, got an update from Serenity, then I decided to buy materials for my hobby. That is it, I suppose.” I did not tell him that the real reason why I had gone out was to go see Garfas. He did not show up however, and I ended up running into Navai, a sylvari who I considered a friend and occasionally worked with him.
“Well at least you didn’t spend the whole day lounging about here.” said Daniel. To be honest I had considered that idea. “ What new information do we have on the fringe?”
“Absolutely nothing,” I said. “the boy did not know much to begin with, but we have ravens in all major cities looking for clues. Serenity is searching through her contacts as well, according to her it is only a matter of time until we find a lead.” I started prodding my food with my fork absentmindedly. There was a pause at the table, I could hear Daniel’s knife clang against his plate, I gave him an occasional glance.
“Is everything alright, big guy?”
No, I am bored, frustrated and all I want to do is work. Is what I wanted to say.
“I am fine,” was what I actually said. “a bit bored but otherwise fine.”
“It looks like more than just a bit of boredom,” said Daniel. “I mean, it’s great that you’re keeping yourself busy with making trinkets and cooking and stuff. But it doesn’t seem like you, ya know?”
“Once again it is impossible for me to hide anything from you,” I said with no particular tone in mind. “I suppose you’re right though.”
“Have you done anything fun lately” asked the human. I shook my head in response.
“Not anything I would consider particularly fun.”
“What do you normally do for fun?” Daniel had set his plate aside, having already finished his food.
“Well, when I was in the citadel I would…” I trailed off, accurately recalling how I would spend most of my days reading, but what would give me the most joy is studying, specifically necromancy. Finding new ways of applying the magic was what I found fascinating. Though whenever I would tell anyone about that it would end up with negative results. “I suppose I enjoyed…studying.”
I glanced at Daniel knowing that his reaction would most likely be different than what I would usually receive. He seemed deep in thought as he picked his teeth with his fork.
“Serenity has a pretty huge library, you can go to her and read up a bit.” Then he snapped his fingers as if realizing something. “You know, Slim is still in town. Ravens tell me he moved in somewhere in Rurikton. Chances are he has his hands on some pretty rare books.” His interest on the subject surprised me.
“That actually sounds like a good idea,” I said, my mood becoming a bit more cheerful. “perhaps I should go visit Slim some time.”
“You should head over right now,” said Daniel. I looked at him a bit surprised. “Go on! You’re obviously dying for some excitement. Since I had my share for the day I’ll rest up. Go. Bookworm charr needs to catch up on his studying.” I stuck out my tongue at the human and he mirrored my gesture. After our exchange, I gathered my pack and made my way out of the house.
After a bit of asking a few ravens, I was able to find Slim’s house. It was a small and inconspicuous hut, it was expected really. Slim did not seem like the type of person to enjoy luxurious mansions. As complex as he was, his tastes were simple. I approached the door and gently knocked on the wooden door. Instead of an asura greeting me, I was met with the smiling face of a tall human with a head of long sleek black hair.
“Anavari!” said Salus with a wide grin. “Come for a visit have you?”
“Yes,” I answered politely. “I do not mean to be rude but you catch me by surprise, observer Salus. I was expecting observer Slim.”
“Don’t worry it’s not rude at all,” the human dismissed. “come in, Slim went out on business but he shouldn’t be long.”
“With your permission,” I said as I strode into the house. I was met with living room that was a mix between organized and disheveled. Certain areas where neat and maintained while spots had stacks of papers and books arranged in a messy pile.
“Please excuse the mess,” said Salus as he guided me towards the fireplace at the center of the room. I began to notice how cold the room was. “Slim forgets to clean up after himself sometimes. I swear if it were not for me this house would be a disaster!”
“It is fine, observer.” I said as I stood by on of the recliners.
“Please, Anavari. You can drop the title, I would like to believe that we are on much more casual terms by now.” Salus proceeded to take a seat and motioned me to join him. I lowered myself to one of the recliners, giving an occasional glance to the various bookshelves. I remembered why I had come over in the first place.
“So what brings you here?” asked the human as he reached for a series of papers from a nearby table. He began to scan the words absentmindedly.
“I was actually searching for a particular type of book,” I said. “Figured that Slim would have a copy.”
“I see,” blinked Salus. “what kind of book?”
“A particular tome on necromancy,” I said. “I follow up volume on one I read a few years ago.” Salus paused, raising an eyebrow at me.
“You do realize Slim is not a necromancer, and neither am I. Why would he have such a book?”
“It’s a rare book,” I said. “Slim had once mentioned his collection of difficult to obtain knowledge. And if he would not have it an observer always has connections.”
The human leaned back and nodded at my reasoning.
“Slim is rather lenient on allowing people to read his books. He has a library in that room over there.” Salus motioned to the door across the room. “You’re welcome to see if he has the book you seek, I’m sure he won’t mind.”
“Thank you, Salus.” I said slightly bowing my head. Without delay I started towards the room. Once inside I was surprised to see the sheer amount of books packed in such a small area. It appeared to rival Serenity’s library, but it was packed in half the space. There was very little room to move, I was mindful of not knocking down a stack up books with every step I took.
The book I was looking for would have been easy to spot. The volumes were known to stand out quite a bit, mainly because they were a very bright green color. It took me a few minutes of scanning, but I was able to find it. It seemed that my luck was improving. I walked up to the book and drew it out from the shelf it was in.
“This is the right book alright,” I said to no one in particular. With the book in hand I returned to the living room, I found Salus writing down on a sheet of paper with maniacal grin.
“Ah, Anavari!” the human regarded me with a smile. “judging from the look on your face and the book on your hands I assume you found what you were looking for.”
“And judging from the look on your face, you appear to be enjoying yourself.” I said as I moved back to the recliner. “What has you so excited?”
“The art of blackmail, my friend,” said Salus with a chuckle. “I admit I found the thought revolting at first. But once Slim introduced me to it I found that I was practically born for it. Slim was the one who taught me the basics of being an observer, also recruited me into the secros.”
“Did he?” I asked. “he recruited Daniel and I as well!”
“Well now,” Salus placed his pen down and beamed at me. “what a coincidence. That practically makes us brothers! Who knows, maybe it’s only a matter of time before you’re made into an observer as well.” my face was left blank at the mere notion. Regaining my composure I offered a sheepish smile at the human.
“Well it would certainly be an honor,” I said. “But who knows, at the moment I simply would like to be rid of the fringe.”
“Don’t we all?” Salus took his sheets of paper and began to fold them up. “The situation is gradually escalating, it will only get worse before it gets better. Fortunately, that boy we captured is providing a steady supply of information.”
“Has there been anything new?” I asked.
“He has said that there are several members that are hidden amongst nobility, with the help of our ravens we will eventually narrow it down. From there, we will have a higher ranking fringe member.”
“Easier said than done,” I mused as I flipped through the pages of the book. “It seems that this group does not ascend members unless they are competent killers. We had enough trouble capturing a low rank.”
“I have faith in us,” said the human as he removed himself from his work and looked at me with a warm smile. “If it is something the secros have in spades it is faith.”
“I suppose…”I mused. I did not exactly see myself as a faithful person, of course several members of the secros had my trust, but I would not go as far as to call it faith.
“Are you a person of faith, Anavari?” it seemed that Salus had noticed my apprehension towards the concept.
“Well, my kind always say that ‘charr need no gods’,” I answered. “but I suppose that you get less disappointed if you rely on yourself a lot more. It is just… convenient.”
“A fair point,” nodded the human. “it is alright to rely on others every once in a while though. remember that, it might save you some day.”
“I will make a note of it,” I said mimicking Salus’ gesture. at that moment the door swung open.
“Well wasn’t that a tedious chain of events!” said Slim as he walked into the room. He paused as soon as he saw me, then his usual wide grin appeared on his face. “Anavari! What brings you here?”
“He was looking for a particular book,” said Salus. “I said it was okay to check out your library, I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not,” Slim walked over to one of the large stacks of paper and pulled out a file from in between it. “Those books have been collecting dust for a while anyway.” The stack of papers fell over and Slim simply gave it a casual glance and a shrug. Salus in turn rolled his eyes.
“It’s a wonder how this place is ‘somewhat’ clean,” said the human.
“more pressing matters are at hand than a few scattered notes.” replied Slim.
“A few?” Salus cocked an eyebrow. Slim sat next to me and propped down the scribbled sheet of paper.
“You can scold me about that later, I have something I want to discuss.” the asura looked at me with his his cheerful disposition. “I apologize for kicking you out Anavari, but I need to discuss some private matters with Salus.”
“Of course,” I said as I rose from my seat.
“Feel free to keep the book for as long as you need it,” continued the asura.
“Thank you for allowing me to hold on to it,” I said as I started towards the door.
I started skimming the pages as I was making my way back home. I was not ever truly reading, it was more of a trance of semi-consciousness. Walking through the streets with a blank mind. It was strangely relaxing.
“Psst!” a loud noise rang through my ears and snapped me back to reality. “Cub, over here!” I heard Garfas’ voice, it was hush but loud enough for me to hear. I started to glance around the surrounding area, and I quickly spotted the hulking charr standing by the entrance to an alleyway. I had a casual glance at the people around me and gingerly walked up to Garfas.
“The cloak and dagger is unlike you,” I said tilting my head.
“There’s people in black cloaks following you,” he said in a whisper. “I had to get you out of sight.” I knew all along that there were two ravens keeping an eye on me, it was common for charr secros these days, that is for any charr secros that bother to go out in public. Sometimes I would even forget they were there.
“Need help getting rid of them?” asked Garfas.
“They’re alright,” I said. “Just keeping an eye out for danger.” Garfas gave me a quizzical look. “Don’t ask.” I added. With a shrug the large charr dropped the fact that I was being followed. Garfas and I stood in the dark alley looking at each other in silence, his amber eyes shining in the darkness.
“So how ya doin? you have that look on your face like you’re trying to avoid something.” I tensed up before Garfas.
“I am fine,” I responded, finding it better to admire the spine of my book rather than make eye contact.
“I’ve known you long enough to tell when you’re lying, cub.” I released a defensive snort at his comment. “I see you got a book too. Looks like the one I got for you back in the citadel.”
“It’s the volume that comes after it,” I said. “Trying to see if I can learn a few new tricks.” I could see the charr’s tooth filled smile in the darkness.
“I figured a necromancer like you would know all the tricks.”
“Not yet,” I said. “Besides, it’s a distraction from current events.” Garfas raised his eyebrows and looked at me expectantly.
“Now you put those down,” I said pointing at his brow. “you know that quite a few aspects of my life are classified.” Now it was Garfas’ turn to snort at me.
“It’s like you don’t trust me,” he chuckled. “But I understand. And if some studying is gonna help you cope, then it sounds like a good idea.”
After the brief exchange we both agreed to spend a bit of the day together. Garfas was not on board with the ravens watching so I released a three note whistle that signaled them to leave me alone. After that we both walked off to the royal gardens. It was a quiet enough place and not too many people were around that day. We discussed quite a few things, he pointed out that I must have been bored because I was wearing a few extra amulets. I told him that I remembered Mara, he did not seem to show much emotion over the news. After pointing it out he said that a response that was other than monotone could give out too much information. For my safety he refrained from talking about the past and would only add things when I would mention something. Other than that I Would carry the conversation mostly, it was fine with me. Even back in the citadel our dynamic would end up as such. Rarely would Garfas go on about his interests. Then I remembered one occasion when he did.
“Huh,” I said.
“Something wrong cub?”
“I just remembered a time when you actually carried a conversation for once.” I said.
“Did I now?”
“I remember that Itan started the whole thing…”