A couple of days passed and once again I was strolling through Rata Sum with Thornfang and Kaya. She had shown me a great deal of the city, and I had to admit that the city was rather interesting. The asura went a completely different direction with technological advancement compared to us charr. Where we relied on fire and steel, they seemed to lean heavily towards using magic for just about everything.
“How’s Dumm doing?” Kaya said suddenly.
“Dumm? Oh, he’s doing fine. He will be discharged soon. Why don’t you visit him yourself?”
“I am too busy.”
“Too busy with… what exactly?”
“Excuse me?” Kaya replied, quasi offended. “I have been terribly busy pondering about what to do from now on.”
“I know how that feels,” I said with a sigh.
But, would she not just continue working in the krewe?
“Kaya, are you considering leaving the krewe?”
Her brow furrowed.
“I am, actually.”
“I did not expect that,” I replied, scratching my chin in thought.
Kaya just shrugged in reply, obviously not too willing to explain her position. We both got startled as Thornfang suddenly jerked his head around and stared at something behind us. Both Kaya and I turned to see what was going on, and when we did we saw, in the distance, an asura running towards us, waving its arms.
It took a couple of seconds before I realized it was Glix.
“I found you!” he said enthusiastically once he caught up with us.
“It has been quite a significant portion of time since we last saw you,” Kaya said pondering.
“How is the quest for sponsors going?” I said.
“Well, first it was going rather poorly. Would you believe that almost no one in this city is interested in building a cannon that can defeat the dragons?”
“Almost?” I asked.
“Well, there was the inquest, of course, but they can stuff it.”
“So, did you find a sponsor?” Kaya interjected.
“Yes! There was this nice representative from a group who calls themselves the Durmand Priory. They were highly interested in my research, and offered me funding and… well…”
“Yes?” Both Kaya and I urged.
“Well… they offer me a group of highly qualified Priory researchers to help me out.”
“That’s great, isn’t it?” I asked.
“You cannot bring your old krewe along, can you?” Kaya spoke softly.
Glix appeared rather down cast, as he nodded slowly.
“I’m afraid so,” he said with a sigh.
“Ah…” was all I could say.
I was not planning on staying in the krewe, although if he specifically asked me to, I might have done it. So, maybe I was just slightly disappointed that I would be unable to join, even if I wanted to. Now I seriously had to think about what I wanted to do next, something I had been putting off all this time.
“I’m sorry,” Glix said.
“I cannot speak for the others,” Kaya said, “but I think you should not worry about it that much. Each and every one of us would do the same thing in your position.”
“Thank you, Kaya,” Glix said with a timid smile. “I will make sure to leave positive commendations for every one of you in the archives. Even one for you, Kumara! If you ever feel like working for a krewe again, they will know that you are both skillful and reliable!”
“Eh, thank you!” I said, not entirely sure what to make of it.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to tell the other krewe members of this development.”
And, with those words, he dashed of once more, leaving Kaya, Thornfang and me in silence.
“Well, that made my decision a whole lot easier,” Kaya said relieved. “Actually, that reminds me,” she continued narrowing her eyes at me, “have you decided what to do yet?”
I rolled my eyes in frustration.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Any options you are considering?”
“Not really, no.”
“Well, what options do you have? What did you do last time?”
“Last time?” I replied surprised.
“Last time you left wherever you were and ended up with us.”
“I… just started wandering in a random direction deeper into the jungle.”
Turning my head I saw that she was just standing there, staring at me, dumbfounded.
“You did what?” she stammered. “You just started wandering? That’s dangerous!”
“Dangerous!” I said, laughing but with no mirth. “Of all the things I did recently, that would be one of the less dangerous things.”
She was visibly taken aback by my remark, or it might have been the way I said it. I failed to care much either way.
“However, I feel little for wandering in a random direction again.”
“How about you take one of our portals?”
“An asura gate? To where? No, that doesn’t really matter. I don’t have the coin to use a gate.”
“Neither do I,” Kaya sighed.
“Well, basically, that means that we both need to find a way to earn some coin, regardless of what we want to do. Unless you want to join another krewe, of course.”
“I do not,” she said much faster than I had anticipated. She had clearly though about this already. “I want to see more of the world than just Rata Sum and the Maguuma Jungle.”
“I see. Still, we can’t really go anywhere without any coin.”
“Oh!” Kaya exclaimed so suddenly and energetically that it startled Thornfang. “I have an idea.”
“Do tell,” I replied with some apprehension.
“The ships that come in at the docks often look for a deckhand or two. If we board one of those, not only do we earn some coin, we also get to see the world!”
“The sea,” I rebuked gruffly.
“We get to see the sea.”
“A ship must visit a port every now and then.”
“But mostly sea.”
“What?” I said terse.
“Are you afraid of water?”
“No!” I snapped at her. “I just don’t like the idea of standing on a piece of wood, floating about the sea.”
“That’s… an interesting way to describe a ship.”
“I was trained as a scout, trained to take cover and spot enemies from a distance and take them out. Not to be crammed into a wooden box with no way out, that would be a great thing for Ronk, but not for me!”
“Wait, who’s Ronk?”
I felt blood leave my head as she mentioned that name. It has been a while since I heard it, or even thought about him. Not as close as Allia or Karto, he was still like family, a part of the warband.
“Where did you hear that name?” I said in a low voice.
“You… you just said it?”
“Well, forget that I did.”
She nodded cautiously, curiosity burning behind her eyes; curiosity mingled with dread.
“Even so,” she said with a fake cough, “you might have been trained as a scout; you are still charr, and a strong one at that. Strong deckhands are always welcome, I think.”
“And what about you?” I asked her, arching an eyebrow. “What do you have to offer a ship?”
“Well, a brilliant mind, of course!”
For a couple of seconds, all I could do was stare at her. Did she really mean that as an answer, or was she trying to make a joke? I still found it hard to know when an asura was making a joke, or when they were dead serious, as many things they say sound like a joke to me.
“Really?” I said, drawn out.
“Yes, really! Well, a brilliant mind and excellent mobility. I bet I could climb those riggings without a care.”
Rolling my eyes, I tried finding an answer, but none came to me.
Even though the idea of boarding a ship and working on it did not appeal to me, there were few alternatives, and those alternatives that were available appealed to me even less.
“Well…” I said with a sigh, “we should first visit Dumm, though.”
“So, we’re going with it?” Kaya replied in a high, exited voice.
“I don’t see an alternative.”
“You are leaving?”
Dumm’s eyes shot form me to Kaya and backwards.
“Why?” he said, sounding very sad.
“I want to see the world!” Kaya said.
“I need the coin,” I added.
“But Kumara, you could just stay here and join another krewe!”
“I could, but I don’t know if I could survive another week locked up in a lab. I enjoy roaming outside.”
“I see,” Dumm said. “But; a boat of all things?”
“We do not really have a specific place to go to, so a boat can bring us anywhere,” Kaya replied, obviously excited.
“I’m not as happy about it, but there are no real alternatives.”
“Well… I wish you the best.”
“Thank you, Dumm.” I gave him a nod. “I hope you recover soon.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about me, I’ll be fine. If ever you need me, let me know, okay?”
Lion’s Arch was the first port I had ever seen, but the one at Rata Sum was wildly different from it. Located a little way off from the city itself—connected via asura gates—it was a collection of a few buildings and large stone-and-metal piers jutting out into the sea. Golems big and small carry boxes and crates in and out of ships. A lighthouse of sorts, shooting up a giant beam of light, was behind us, at the base of the mountain.
All in all, it was a weird sight for me.
“Kaya, how are we going to find a ship that has work for us?”
She was looking around ponderously when my question snapped her out of her line of thought.
“I was thinking the same thing.”
“Great plan this was,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Hey, have some patience, we just got here!”
“I guess. Let’s head down that pier,” I said pointing, “I see two big ships docked there. They are most likely to have a position open.”
“Excellent thinking, my feline friend!”
The pier was a busy place, so we had to tread carefully and dodge the golems and dock workers. I was especially worried about Thornfang, but he seemed to weave through the moving mass much better than we were. Even though it was a slow journey, we gradually made our way down the pier.
“That’s one big boat,” I said in awe as stared at the larger of the two ships docked here.
It was a very long ship, supporting three thick masts with a total of five sails, a cabin at the back and a large hull, which would indubitably be able to hold a lot of cargo. Still, the fact that its design was human unnerved me.
“What’s this!” a shrill yet demanding voice cut through the rest of the noise. “Two idle set of hands on the pier? Unacceptable!”
Kaya and I exchanged a glance before searching for the origin of the voice. I finally spotted the source in the form of another asura. He wore a hat that was ridiculously large, with a feather attached to it that was almost as long as he was tall. His robes were overly frilly and a thin rapier hung at his waist. His face was stern, but his dark blue eyes had a pleasant twinkle.
“Do you mean us?” Kaya piped.
“Yes!” the asura said, resting his hands on his waist. “What are you doing, just lollygagging there, don’t you have a job?”
“Not yet, captain!” Kaya replied.
I was perfectly fine with letting her doing the talking, as she seemed to have a much better grip on this situation then I had.
“Well… I could always use a strong charr, and can that dog catch rats?”
“He can,” I replied cautiously.
“Oh, the charr talks. Well, I can live with that. What about you, lassy?”
“I have an amazing brain and a great mobility!”
“All the asura that want to join me crew say they have a good brain, but brains don’t swab decks! Mobility, though… Yes, I can use that. Ye’re hired, the both of ya!”
Kaya walked up the board with a spring in her step, but I followed more cautiously. As Kaya passed the captain, he spoke again, a bit softer this time.
“I am Captain Tot. They call me Tik Tak Tot, because I don’t waste no time, got that?”
“Aye captain,” I added.
As I set pawn on the deck I felt the sway of the ocean, yet this was only in port. Suddenly, I was not so sure about this whole idea.
Before I had a chance to reconsider, a roaring voice cut the air.
“Ha, if it isn’t my eye candy!”
I knew that voice and it made my heart skip a beat in dread.
List Of Recurring Entities:
The following is a list of characters—apart from Kumara and Thornfang—who have made an appearance before this part, sorted by order of appearance. With all the different stories on CoT, I understand it is hard to keep track of all the characters.
Kaya: An asura that Kumara got to know in a krewe they both worked in. Now, she sets out with Kumara to see the world.
Dumm: An asura member of Glix’s krewe, who was the first of said krewe to meet Kumara.
Glix: The asura that leads the krewe that Kumara found himself in.
Ronk, Allia, Karto: Members of Kumara’s warband.