The oasis seemed fairly quiet at night. The buzzing of sparkflies and the snapping of the firewood seemed had more than a calming effect. Sylvari guarded the entrance to the area, as Angel said they would. Rhiann’s Respite, we were briefed, was a research facility with the intent to find a cure for the risen minions of Zhaitan. The area was filled with many different herbs, plants, and creatures with which they would borrow from to fuel their research. Despite the idea of researching using the land and animals, they were gentle and kind to both. This created petted deer and eagles who walked the grounds before us.
We had all just eaten one of Ragnvaldr’s dinners and the mood was feeling quite cheerful. With full bellies and stories to share, we were full of hearty laughs. Angel and Tobih shared a bit of her ale while she boasted about the beasts she had slain just before meeting him.
“If I hadn’t of been there that day,” Angel smirked, the drink nearly tipping from her mug, “you wouldn’t be here.”
“And I owe my life to you,” He patted her shoulder, but she pulled away from his touch.
“What happened? How did you two meet?” I asked in my curiosity. I took a sip from the cider that Ragnvaldr and I were sharing.
“I found him in Isenfall Gullies back in the Drifts,” Angel shared and as if it was rehearsed, Tobih jumped in to add to the story.
“Kiffi and I were on our way to visit one of the quaggan villages there. The path was blocked by a few Sons of Svanir who lived closeby. I think if we were norn, we could have just paid them off to let us through, but because we were human and asura we were nothing but sport for them.
With only my great sword on me that day, I didn’t have nearly the protection skills I needed to keep us both safe. After my wall fell, we were left defenseless. Kiffi and I went on the offensive; she thought that if we could at least cripple them, we would get away. They had everything planned out so well… I was kept busy by the biggest brute on their team while the rest went after Kiffi. She got a few of them to their knees, but she couldn’t work very well with them in melee range. A hard slam from an icy hammer knocked her out cold.
I gave up my fight and ran to her as quickly as I could. I tried to put up my barrier again to give us enough time to get away, but they had surrounded us.” He took a drink and looked at Angel, who started her part just as soon as he left off.
“I came in, going on my usual hunt for those idiots, and thrust my sword through one of their-”
“Please, don’t get too graphic,” Ragnvaldr requested, looking down at me and then back up to our over enthused norn friend.
“Ugh, fine,” She obliged unwillingly, “I cleared them out by swinging my sword around. It was really bloody and gory but I won’t get into those details. The point is, I saved their lives by slaying at least six svanir.”
“At least? So you lost count.” I teased.
“You couldn’t tell after I was finished with them,” she gloated and finished her drink. “I escorted them to Hoelbrak; offered to carry the little long-eared rat, too. He wouldn’t give her up. He carried her in his arms the entire way back.” Despite her protests, her eyes had softened a bit.
Tobih scratched his head and his cheeks were flushed, “After that, I invited her to join our guild. We needed someone like her and I thought she was kind of really cool.
She declined. It took me three days to convince her. The rest of the guild had found their way to us from worry by the time she decided to give me a yes. Gave Kiffi enough time to recover, though.”
Ragnvaldr put another log on the fire. A deer approached him as he reached for the wood and when he was finished feeding the flames again, he reached back and pet the deer between the eyes.
“Even if you’re a sober norn, your scouting was remarkable today.” Angel admitted. The more she drank, the nicer she was becoming.
“I’ve always had a way with beasts of all types. It’s easy to tell what they’re thinking after you’ve watched them enough.” He responded.
“Don’t rangers usually have their own pets?” Tobih inquired.
“Claire is his pet,” teased Angel as she stretched her legs out in front of her. She had taken her boots off before dinner and set them to the side to be washed so her feet were bare along with most of her legs.
I didn’t take offense to her words, instead I gave them little thought and giggled. Ragnvaldr laughed a bit as well before pulling me in close, “I couldn’t ask for a better one.”
The logs on the fire settled, crackling as they fell into new positions and sending embers above the dancing flames.
Tobih coughed and my eyes flew straight to where he was sitting. It was small and short; he had it under control this time and quickly drowned it with the rest of his drink.
“Watch it or you’ll choke!” Angel called out quickly in concern. Her face turned red and she tried to hide that moment she thought was weakness. “If you choke and die it’ll be a mess- I’ll make those two clean it up.” The cover up was nearly pitiful but Tobih seemed to accept it.
“At least I’d die happy.” His words hit me like a charr tank. I had been trying to ignore the thought of him dying due to his illness but I couldn’t help but to think of it happening when he said this. There was no wavering in his words but I got the impression that he had given it more thought than a normal person would have.
And then he smiled at me, as if he knew I needed to be reassured.
In a most excited tone he told all of us, his eyes focused on me, “I’ll be having plenty of adventures with the guild for years to come. I’m here for the long run. Together, we’ll realize the impossible and put an end to the destruction of the elder dragons!”
Angel raised her glass to that occasion, “They will be a worthy foe.”