As Seren and I made our way through the Bloodcoast entrance into the southern hills of Lion’s Arch, we were greeted by the familiar caresses of gentle ocean bay breezes and the calls of sea birds. We had made good time thanks to Seren’s swiftness abilities and were able to make the uneventful journey back home almost one full day early. That was more than fine for me. I was ready to be home.
It was a sunny late morning in Lion’s Arch and I could smell the salt in the air laced with a hint of charred metal and oil. I welcomed the familiar sights and sounds, now bittersweet as they were. Our once majestic city had been fractured and torn asunder by Scarlet Briar in her attempt to access a ley line pulsing with strong magic beneath the city. The people of this world put aside their differences and petty squabbling in order to band together to stop Scarlet. Even though we defeated her, it was not in time. The crazed Sylvari still managed to drill her Breachmaker into the ley line in the bay, causing a new dragon’s awakening with the effects felt throughout Tyria. The fallout here was great. Many lost their lives and the city itself lay in ruins, but the people who survived continued on with their heads held high and hearts filled with pride. We would rebuild our city and our lives.
Seren and I turned north and walked along the beach. Looking out to the water, I could see a piece of Scarlet’s Breachmaker still jutting out from the bay. The morning sun glimmered off of the hulking piece of metal, reminding anyone who looked upon it of what they endured. Feeling my anger bubble and rise, I broke my gaze away from the wreckage and instead focused on the calming soft sound of the waves crashing on the beach. The day we removed the last piece of wreckage from this city would be a joyous day for me. Lion’s Arch had now been my home for the past two years and I loved this place. It was a great city full of life, commerce, and progress. To have witnessed all of that being torn apart still resonated deeply within me.
When we reached the bridge, Seren stopped. “Well, this is where I leave you. I have to head to the Vigil Centerhouse to clean up and report in,” she said, gesturing in the general direction of the facility. “They needed help with the cleanup in the western part of the bay so I told them I’d volunteer my time when I go back. If I’m late, General Soulkeeper will have my hide. She’s not one to go lightly on tardiness.” She chuckled mirthfully but I could tell by the shadows under Seren’s tired hazel eyes that she was just as exhausted as I was. However, her determination in helping her order was commendable and did nothing but assure me that I had made the right choice in adding her to our guild.
“No rest for the weary I see,” I replied with a tired smile. “Will we see you when you have finished your task?”
She nodded. “Yeah and not a moment later. I could use a good sleep. I miss my bed.” Seren laughed and turned to leave but abruptly stopped and spun back around. “Please promise me you’ll go easy on him.” She was smiling but I could see concern in her eyes. “He means well, you know?”
I sighed heavily and nodded. “I will try.”
We said goodbye and parted ways. I followed the northern path near the beach as it took me to the bridge that crossed the small inlet near our home. The bridge had been damaged in the attack and there were holes and missing planks here and there but it still stood firmly. I spied a few new boards that had been added recently to the structure and one of the holes in the center had been covered with new boards. I smiled. It was good to see the physical signs of rebuilding and moving on.
I trudged up the steps built into the hillside leading up to our home and looked up. I could see the familiar red spiked shield with an inverted silver sword set on a silver sun waving in the breeze. It was our guild’s emblem. We called ourselves the Defenders of Peace and we sought to do just that. The emblem waved on our banners on top of the stone and wood walls and on either side of the doors on our small guild dwelling. I took in a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh of relief.
It felt good to be home.
Despite the small upgrades over the past two years, our guild hall was not really a typical guild hall but more of a small manor. When Rhys, Sir Fendall and I had decided to make our home in Lion’s Arch, we decided to find a residence for ourselves and for any others who we invited to become a part of our guild. We found a small abandoned home not far from the south entrance to Lion’s Arch in Farshore Ward. It had a lovely view of the bay and Deverol Island. We set to connecting the two buildings right away with a large enclosed center space that would become our main hall and gathering place. We also worked on expanding out the two structures on either side in anticipation for growing numbers. Our front wood and iron doors were also decoratively etched with our shield and sword emblem. It was a parting gift from Rhys before he left us to attend matters at home. He had carved them himself by hand.
Approaching from the south, I could see the damage to the southern hallway where a piece of the Breachmaker had ricochet off of before finding its final resting place in the hills nearby. A large chunk of the hallway had lain in pieces between our hall and the base of the south hills but by now, we had cleaned most of the wreckage up. Many buildings around Lion’s Arch were damaged or destroyed due to fallout from the Breachmaker’s demise and we were not exempt.
As I got closer, I could see new repairs to the guild hall’s southern structure since I had departed almost a week ago and it appeared they had started on the framework for another section of rooms at my request. We were a small guild, no more than a dozen, but we had taken in nearly a dozen Lions Arch residents displaced from their homes after the attack and our roster seemed to be growing at a steady rate. Space was running out. Despite our growth, we were very particular about the caliber of our members. Keeping with the original requirements Sir Fendall, Rhys and myself created, we sought out honorable people with good hearts. Our goal was to build a community of people who would not think twice to help a fellow being in need. We wanted people who would stand up for what was right and who would defend those who could not defend themselves. I liked to think that so far, we had kept to our goal.
Recognizing me immediately as I approached, Ariella, a Norn thief, rose from her seat next to the front door. Being of short stature for a Norn, she still towered over me by at least a foot and a half. The Norn thief firmly rested her palms on the hilts of her twin Kodan pistols as her long, black coat fluttered in the morning breeze. As she smiled, the black rectangular markings on her left cheek and around her left eye wrinkled. Ariella said nothing as she smiled but merely bowed her head in polite regard, her long wavy black hair falling over her shoulders. Ariella was of little words but fiercely loyal and was always there to assist us in a heated situation. Her deadly aim and knowledge of shadow arts made her a powerful ally.
A year ago, her hunting party had been wiped out by a group of Svanir in the Wayfarer Foothills. Ariella was wounded terribly. As fate would have it, De Koninck, Quint, and I were nearby on a trade mission in Taigan Groves and were making our way north to Twinspur Haven to resupply. We saw the bodies first; they were torn and strewn about all around us. There was red everywhere and it covered the crisp white snow almost completely. As the three of us investigated, we stepped through the bodies and bloodied snow carefully. I heard Quint’s startled cry behind me and I turned around to find a bloodied hand had gripped his boot. We carefully rolled a mangled corpse over to find Ariella hidden under it. Her free hand was covering a deep wound to her side and she was pale from loss of blood. We managed to get her to Twinspur Haven just in time. Any later and she would not have survived. Quint returned to help Tuborg keep things in order back home while De Koninck and I stayed with Ariella until she recovered.
Despite her predicament, Ariella had a strong will and it did not take her long to recover. As we packed to leave, the Norn insisted she come with us as a guide and protector on our way home. We took her up on her offer and to this day, Ariella remained. I wondered if like many of the people who sought us out, she desired a place to belong and that was why she stayed. From what I knew of the Norn, it seemed unusual but I felt I did not need to question her proven loyalty.
I returned the smile with my own and offered a polite nod in response as she opened the doors for me. I stepped through and as soon as Ariella closed them, I felt a rush of wind by my face and heard a dulled thud next to my head. Wide eyed, I turned to find a large Norn axe buried deep into the front door directly behind me. I could feel my facial muscles tense as I furrowed my brow deeply. The sounds of arguing voices filled my ears and echoed off of the stone walls in the main hall. Clenching my jaw, I watched the two small decorative grey feathers dangle from the large blade on their leather straps.