“Look, they’re here!” Tobih excitedly exclaimed, throwing his arms out as if to present them. It was the first gathering of the guild since Wayfarer Foothills. The pure excitement from Tobih sparked like electricity through the room.
“How do you do?” Kiffi approached Ragnvaldr and I. She was so small as to only reach my waist when she stood upright. She held out a clawed hand and when I took it, we both shook. The formality she was presenting towards me felt a bit unusual. She did the same for Ragnvaldr, who had to stoop down to take the hand she offered.
I didn’t want to respond that the journey was difficult. I didn’t want to respond that I was terrified of so much. But I didn’t feel as if I could respond very positively either. “We’re hanging in there,” that’s all I had.
Tullia and Cinder both waved from the back wall. Tullia sat on the floor while Cinder had propped up against the wall. Kau stood just behind Kiffi but Zen was dozing off in the corner.
Kiffi walked to the doorway and waved me over. I met with her and we both stepped just outside.
“He’s been okay, right?” She dropped her formality a bit and looked up at me with violet eyes.
I wasn’t sure if she knew about his illness or not, so to keep it simple I responded, “He seems like he’s okay.” She put my worries to rest though.
“I know he’s sick,” She scratched at the brick on the side of the building. “Tullia let me know. He kept coming to her for help since she’s the only one who knows any proper medicine or healing.”
“I tried to convince him to stay behind and take it easy.” I replied.
“I’d rather him be out here doing something he wants to do than to stay cooped up without any adventure in his life. It would be taking something he loves away from him. That’s no way to live.” Her words shot through me like pain.
I looked up to the sky and thought about it. She was right, and I couldn’t argue with it. It was the same thing he was trying to tell me.”
“Even talking to some of the best medical practitioners in Rata Sum, no one knows what’s wrong with him. I put all of my research aside just for him and I keep coming back empty-handed.” Her eyes were glossy but she was pretending not to notice, “There’s no cure for him that anyone knows of. We don’t even know what’s wrong.”
I slid down the wall until I was sitting. She was worried just as much as I was and yet she was doing more to try to help than I ever had. “I should have been looking for the answer as well instead of this hopeless journey.”
“Don’t say that! I mean, it’s not like you aren’t helping in your own way.” She sat down beside me and looked up. “You have him on the huge adventure of a lifetime. The way he writes about everything he’s done since he’s met you. He’s happy. He needs to take his mind off of this illness or it’s going to drive him further into it. Trust me. I’ve seen it.”
“Maybe you’re right, Kiffi. Maybe I was thinking of this all the wrong way.” I didn’t want to think something was wrong with him. I wanted to pretend it wasn’t there as well. “Thank you for all of your research.”
“It’ll keep going on for as long as I can.” She stood up, “Don’t tell the others. It’s better if they don’t know.” This seemed so familiar to me. How many times had I been told this already? After our short talk, she had already walked inside of the building again.
Laughter spilled out from the walls as Ragnvaldr, Tobih, Angel, and Cinder told stories of their journeys. I had remembered something I was meaning to give to Kiffi and grabbed my bag. From inside of my diary I pulled out a leaf about the size of my hand. I handed it over to the asura.
“Oh! You remembered!” Her face lit up completely as she gently took the pressed leaf from my hand and took it to the sunlight to inspect it.
“I tried to make sure to get one that I know doesn’t grow anywhere else but Ascalon.” I smiled and told her.
“It’s a magnificent specimen! I’ll add it to my collection.” She finished examining the leaf and rushed out to their cart.
I focused my attention to Ragnvaldr and Tobih. I found myself standing in between them, facing towards Angel and Cinder.
“….and the gold legion goon grabbed the pot from my hands. He said, “Guess this means no dinner for the females tonight,” and laughed as he bit in and took it to his warband’s tent. But I was the one having the last laugh. He had taken the pot of slop meant for the pigs!” Cinder laughed out loud with the rest of the group standing around. She then looked straight at me, “Nice to see you again, mouse.” Her toothy smile showed a few of her smaller fangs in addition to the ones normally visible.
“The pleasure is mine, Cinder.” I gave a slight bow and smiled back at her.
“Isn’t it so good to have everyone back together?” Tobih exclaimed, tucking his arm around me and pulling me into a side hug.
“Didn’t they recently get new additions to the guild?” I asked, looking around and seeing the normal group.
“A few more, even! They’ve made camps all over Tyria now. We help them with their problems and when we come back around, they can help us with the dragons. That way, no one gets displaced if they don’t want to be. Our team here is simply to spread the word. Anyone else is free to join, of course.” Tobih explained to me. Cinder nodded in agreement and Tullia did as well.
‘Will you all be staying for dinner?” I asked.
“Seems that way,” Cinder confirmed.
“We were thinking of traveling together for a bit. The group here is going to go fight an undead dragon. That’s where we’ll split up.” Tobih informed me of the plans, still not letting go of me. I didn’t mind so much being close to him.
I continued my questions.”Will they be fine? Should we go with them?”
Kiffi shook her head and I knew that she wanted Tobih to sit this one out, “We enlisted the help of some locals to the area. hylek, quaggan, even some sylvari. The krait don’t seem so fond of helping us, though.”
“While we have Zhaitan distracted by attacking one of his generals, it should make it easier on you all to get even a little deeper into Orr.” Cinder filled me in further on the plan.
“In short, if we split up, we help each other,” Kau stepped forward, his footsteps loud but precise.
“I could be fighting a dragon, and instead I’m babysitting you lot.” Angel scoffed. I side-eyed her from my position beside Tobih.
“What exactly is keeping you from going with them?” I asked.
“I’m the only one who could protect all of us through Orr. Don’t take me or Orr so lightly.” She hit her fist against the chest of her armor as if to display her pride for all to see.
“Fighting a dragon, eh?” Ragnvaldr looked at me as he said this, “maybe one day we’ll all take one on together.” Their was still no denying the norn that he was. Even if it were dangerous, he still saw it as a challenge to face.
If it would help protect everyone here, I’d gladly face all of the dragons in the world.