Each of us were finally in our ideal positions when Ragnvaldr gave the command to attack the marsh drakes surrounding our wagon. Angel rolled out of her seat where Tobih jumped over only a second later, both of them brandishing their weapons. Ragnvaldr knelt down on one knee and aimed for a group of three while I turned around and focused on the enemies behind us. Flames burst around a single drake and one next to it gained a face full of burning embers that flew off the crackling flames. In the few seconds the fire had to live, I was already focusing on turning the ground beneath the two of them into lava.
I saw a bright line of light on my side next to Tobih. It acted as if it were a wall to a drake that was trying to pass through as he was taking on another drake on his other side.
Seeing that the wall wouldn’t last forever, I drew my arm back, pulling fire from the flame of the staff and throwing that towards the drake, who recoiled from the singeing flames.
Ragnvaldr was working behind me, barraging the group of three with numerous arrows. As one endured the hail of arrows and moved towards the cart, he steadied himself and drew a single arrow, inhaled, concentrated, adjusted, then let the arrow fly. The resulting shot caused the drake to tumble backwards a few feet.
Angel mercilessly sliced into one of the drakes before rushing into the one that was at Tobih’s now disappearing wall. As soon as she made it to the enemy, she was already pushing the sword through the drake’s lower jaw. It slumped to the ground lifeless.
“Don’t get too close to them if you don’t want to be poisoned,” Angel warned in a shout, “Their breath is as bad as their bite.”
“What about you?” I asked her.
“I know how to handle myself here,” she proudly boasted. Again, in battle, Angel looked as if she were truly happy. She was relentless in battle, almost cruel. I could really get a feel for who she was in the past this way.
Tobih and the dolyak were surrounded by a small dome of aura. This, too, acted as a wall for the enemies, pushing them back when they attempted to get close. Angel took out these enemies quickly as Ragnvaldr and I finished up our own targets. I had charred mine beyond recognition and couldn’t bear to look at them any longer. I turned to Ragnvaldr’s side just in time to see him draw the final arrow that pierced the last drake between the eyes.
Tobih doubled over to catch his breath. “It’s been a while since I last used a staff to channel my energies.”
“You’re okay, right?” I questioned while lending him a hand to help him back on-board.
He nodded and responded with a breathless, “Yeah.” He took my hand and he jumped onto the cart again.
“Good thinking with throwing that blanket over Bacon’s eyes.” Angel tossed said blanket to us. Ragnvaldr caught it as he was storing his weapon underneath his seat.
“I thought you said her name was Tenderloin,” a confused Tobih responded, throwing his hair out of his face.
“It’s all meat, anyway.” That was her way of addressing it at least. Not that any of us were going to argue with her after a fight.
I took Tobih’s staff and stored both of ours under the seats as well. While he should have been sitting and resting, he was assessing each of us to make sure that there were no injuries. “At least no one was poisoned. There don’t seem to be any injuries. I think we made it out without a scratch!”
“I returned with boots covered in swamp muck. I can’t wait to get out of this place.” Angel returned to her seat after feeding the meat-named dolyak. “Off we go.”
Tobih sat down just before the cart jerked into motion.
“You did well,” Ragnvaldr whispered to me and patted my head. I knew I had. I actually felt confidence in my skills that day and the power of the staff helped me along. I had time to focus my energies into it and to get to know it before battle this time.
The air around us was heating up little by little. The marsh was humid, though we were more concerned as to if there would be more trouble or not. Ragnvaldr kept an eye on the wildlife as we rode through the mud-covered trail. I found myself dozing on Ragnvaldr’s shoulder. Even in the face of danger, the lack of sleep was catching up to me and I was worn from the fight. I struggled to keep consciousness.
Tobih had taken to cleaning our weapons, Angel’s blood-covered sword in particular. Her sword was much taller than him; he attempted to clean it properly before he had to get down on the floor of the cart to polish it. One could tell his love for weapons as he expertly and carefully cleaned and polished each one, even though ours hadn’t been bloodied like the sword.
It was clear that I had finally fallen asleep. When I woke up the marshes had given way to grassy lands again. Tall palm trees towered over our heads and small flowers decorated the grassy grounds. Wild boars fled the coming of the cart. Night had fallen, as well. I looked up to the sky and saw clusters upon clusters of stars as well as a few clouds passing by.
Ragnvaldr and Tobih had also fallen asleep, so I wondered just how late it had gotten. Angel was awake and sitting quietly on her perch at the front. I didn’t move out of fear of waking Ragnvaldr, who was sharing a blanket with me. Tobih had curled up on his side of the cart in a blanket with his armor still on. My stomach growled, reminding me that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
I leaned against Ragnvaldr and stared up at the stars above. They glittered like gems in the sky and were truly captivating. I wished that Ragnvaldr had been awake to see them with me.
Trees eventually blocked the sky out as Angel led us down a valley in between two rocky cliffs. The effect of the area was the opposite of what I had felt with the marsh. Instead, I felt completely calm in my surroundings. The sky opened back up, but I was no longer focused on that. I was now staring at a small sylvari outpost that was built around a spring. The spring was fed by a beautiful waterfall that trickled gracefully into the pond below it. The starlit sky was reflected off of the calm waters and glowing plants painted the waters an electric blue.
The cart stopped just by the pond, where our meat-named dolyak could drink and graze as much as she liked. I gently woke Ragnvaldr, who seemed just as awestruck as I was. Angel left the cart and began speaking with an amiable sylvari. I expected that she had these affairs handled and bent down to wake Tobih, softly calling his name. The smile appeared before his eyes even opened and I smiled back.
Angel approached us again a few minutes later, “Welcome to Rhiann’s Respite.”