“Welcome to Lion’s Arch”
The group stepped through the Asura Gate and was greeted by the gate attendant on the other side. Lion’s Arch was a waterlogged city, built on a series of islands and connected with large wooden bridges. Ulfridda had mentioned that a crazy sylvari had recently attacked Lion’s Arch, using a massive mechanical drill to bore into the harbour, although the reason wasn’t well known. Alepe speculated it was because she wished to disrupt trade in the harbour, forcing merchant ships to dock near The Grove, the home of the sylvari people, bringing with it a large economic boom. Ulfridda explained this was unlikely, as ships already made the perilous journey to Lions Arch by passing through either the Straights of Devastation or circumnavigating Orr. Further, were ships to stray too close to the Dominion of the Winds, they would be sunk by the massive ballistae adorning the walls of the Aerie. They could go by the Bloodtide coast, but pirates were common in those parts, and required a lot of muscle to ensure safe passage. Koda’s Breath thought it would be too much effort to be a merchant.
As a result of the attack, there was a large rebuild occurring. Airships and boats were ferrying materials in, and most of the city was covered with scaffolding. Groups scurried about, and workers slowly and methodically were clearing rubble and bringing in the necessary supplies to rebuild a city of this magnitude.
Two main factions seemed to patrol the city. The Lionguard, wearing the nautical armour so favoured by the citizens of this once pirate-run city and another group, calling themselves “The Consortium”. The latter were known to be financing the rebuild.
“It’s ugly” Korr remarked.
“It’s allowed to be. I know a few who died in the attack.” Ulfridda pointed towards the city, and the group followed her finger. “That’s where we are staying. There should be a reservation for us. Here.” She gave a slip of paper to Alepe. “These are the details. I’ll join you all in a moment. There is a charr friend of mine near here who sells apples that I’d like to catch up with.”
Their rooms were large enough. The nautically themed hotel was attended by a charr couple, who showed them the rooms in detail. The communal bathrooms proved to be a challenge, as Korr was unable to fit through the door, and the couple allowed him the use of their much larger private bathroom on the first floor. Koda’s Breath and Serene Wrath were together, alone, finally.
“Ko—” Serene Wrath began, before he choked.
“Don’t say it” Koda’s Breath replied. “I know”
“I never meant to hurt you.”
“Of course you didn’t, Wrath. You were not in control. Something—something else was” He sat down next to Serene Wrath, and put his arm around his muscular waist. Serene Wrath was much taller, so Koda’s Breath was able to rest his head on Wrath’s shoulder. Wrath’s golem was sitting on the bed next to them glowing a faint purple.
“What are we going to do now?” Serene Wrath asked.
“You always had the plans.” Koda’s smiled, and poked his ribs.
Serene Wrath smiled, and kissed Koda’s Breath’s head. “I did. But I don’t now. We travel to Divinity’s Reach, meet this ‘Mesmer Collective’ and I get myself fixed. Then what?”
“We save our people. We fight Jormag, and release them from his grasp.” Koda’s Breath sat up, and looked Wrath in the eye. “We save them.”
“We had an army, Ko. Now they’re all gone.”
“Let’s not worry about that. We can figure out the how later.” Koda’s Breath lay back, pulling Serene Wrath with him. They lay next to each other, silently, while the sun made its way across the sky to its zenith. Then, hunger called, and Koda’s Breath joined Alepe in a cafe in front of their lodgings.
That morning, Korr had made his way out into the city. His bow strapped to his back, Ounce in his arms, he walked across several bridges before coming to a small, local-run market. He bought a watermelon with the money Ulfridda gave him, and sat down near a well. He realised, after a few moments, that no one was pointing or staring, and the locals were leaving him in peace.
“Hey you!” A girls’ voice called out from behind him. He stretched around, looking for the voice. It had come from a human girl, probably just out of her teens, who was standing with a small group of friends. One was charr, but the rest were human of various ages. They walked up to Korr.
“What’cha doin?” The girl asked. Korr thought this was a strange question.
“Eating.” He answered, showing her the watermelon.
“You know, you’re supposed to cut the skin off.” The charr said, his voice high. “It’s not an apple!” The group laughed.
“Hey Randar, be nice.” The girl chided. She looked back to Korr, and put out her hand. “I’ll cut it for you.” She offered.
“Thanks!” Korr had thought the skin strange, but as he had never seen a watermelon before, he had been unsure how to eat it. The girl drew a long, thin sword from her belt, and sliced the watermelon mid-air. The rind fell to the ground, and she caught the flesh with her free hand. “Much better!” He exclaimed.
“Say, you look lonely. Wanna hang out with us?” I’m Amanda, and this is Randar, Kit, Skips and Jo.” The humans and charr waved.
“I’m Korr, and this is Ounce.” He lifted Ounce from behind him, and they all flinched.
“She’s HUGE!” Amanda exclaimed.
“Oh no, she is very friendly. See?” Korr stretched his arm out so they could touch Ounce. Randar reached out first, and soon the group were all patting the snow leopard cub.
“She will get bigger.” Korr explained. “And she can do tricks”
“What kind of tricks?” Amanda asked. “Can she go invisible and get things?”
“Of course!” Korr exclained. Amanda and her friends spoke quietly for a moment. There was a little gesticulating, and then some laughter.
“What are you talking about?” Korr asked.
“Korr, we want to invite you to our gang” Amanda beamed. “You’re our new friend.”
Korr grinned back. “I like friends”.
“C’mon, then!” Amanda grabbed his hand. “Let’s see what tricks Ounce can do”
Alepe was enjoying the sun. Rata Sum was situated in a warm climate, and the cold of the Durmand Priory had not been to his liking. He sat now, with Koda’s Breath and Serene Wrath, and wondered how they were able to stay cool covered in so much fur. He uncorked an elixir and added it to his drink.
“What’s that? Koda’s Breath asked.
“It’s Elixir B. It’s the easiest to make.” He replied. “It makes you sharper. it’s an energy drink I guess.”
“It looks strange to me.” Koda’s Breath answered. “Have you always made these ‘elixirs’?”
“It’s my specialty. At the colleges of Rata Suum, we study all sciences, but I was top of my class in Alchemy. I enjoy it, too.” He opened his tool belt, and removed the elixirs inside.
“This is Elixir C, Elixir H, Elixir R and S…And I’ve run our of Elixir X”
“What do they all do?” Serene Wrath picked up a phial, and gave it back when he saw the look of anxiety on Alepe’s face.
“A few things. This one removes conditions, and this one shrinks you down.”
“And they all taste too strong.” Ulfridda spoke over the table from behind Alepe and made him jump.
Ulfridda sat down at their table heavily. She rested her cane against her chair and stretched.
“What?” She asked, when she noticed Alepe and Serene Wrath staring at her.
“Does your back always crack so much?” Alepe asked, slightly grimacing at the sound of her vertebrae all cracking at once.
Koda’s Breath answered while sipping his tea. “It usually cracks more”.
“M’dear, when you have lived as long as I have, you’re grateful you skill have your own skeleton!” She waved her hand and the waitress came over. She ordered a Lion’s Arch Special.
“Did you find your friend?” Koda’s Breath asked.
“No, I didn’t.”
“Shame.” Serene Wrath said.
“Quite.” The drink arrived in a glass shaped like a captains hat, and Ulfridda looked ridiculous sipping from the over-designed straw. Koda’s Breath burst out laughing, and she gave him a sharp look.
“So what is the plan from here?” Koda’s Breath asked.
“The Mesmer Collective have a representative to Lion’s Arch who will meet us in three days. I believe he is just an administrator, so he will get us the necessary passes to Divinity’s’ Reach.”
“What happens after Serene Wrath’s shard is fixed?” Alepe asked.
“After that, I will travel back to Hoelbrak to retrieve a few things. I intend to accompany Koda’s Breath and Serene Wrath back to the Far Shiverpeaks and help them rescue their people. To fight Jormag, we will need an army.”
“They were corrupted, Elder. They’re his servants now.” Koda’s Breath.
“If their minds are still housed in their shards, they may have remained uncorrupted. We merely need to retrieve their shards and create golem bodies for them.”
“I do not believe they would appreciate that. This existence is unbalanced.” Serene Wrath disagreed.
“Unbalanced is better than dead.” Ulfridda smiled. Serene Wrath shook his head.
“Our purpose is to bring balance to the world.” Koda’s Breath spoke across them. “Jormag is a greater force for imbalance than having these bodies, Wrath. It is for the greater good.”
Serene Wrath seemed satisfied by this, and nodded. “I’m sorry.”
Ulfridda reached over and squeezed his paw. “It’s alright. Old as I am, I forget how much you’ve had to live through. I apologise as well.” A moment passed between them, as Ulfridda seemed to trust Wrath for the first time.
They sat in the cool breeze for a few moments, before they were interrupted.
“Are you the guardians of the giant named Korr?” a voice spoke from behind them. The young man was dressed in Lionguard regalia. He was flanked by two charr. Korr stood behind them, in manacles. Ounce was slung across the back of one of the charr, inside a fishing net. The charr ignored her clawing and hissing.
“Yes, who is asking?” Ulfridda answered, sitting up straight.
“Lieutenant Whitten, of the Lionguard. We found him and a local teenage gang stealing from Minister Wi’s temporary residence.”
“I was just showing them a trick Ounce can do.” Korr whined from behind them, eye rimmed with tears.
“I’m sure there was a misunderstanding.” Ulfridda stood, slowly, and slipped. The lieutenant caught her, helping her stand. They grasped hands briefly.
“Thank you, young man” Ulfridda smiled at him.
The Lionguard Lieutenant unshackled Korr and Ounce was set free from her net. She bounded over to Korr and he hugged her tightly.
“Thank you officers. Will you be pressing charges?” Ulfridda sat back down. Alepe grabbed a stool for Korr, who ignored it and sat on the floor.
“That won’t be necessary.” He smiled, and whistled. The charr followed, and it wasn’t until they were out of sight that anyone spoke.
“Did you bribe them?” Alepe asked. Ulfridda was silent.
“This is a nice drink. I might get another.”
“I’m sorry. They said they were my friends.” Korr was crying. Koda’s Breath put his hand on the giants back.
“Korr, it is alright. It was no trouble. Ulfridda fixed it.”
“They were not my friends. You are my friends. Even the short one.”
“That’s enough Korr.” Ulfridda sounded stern, and he sniffed.
“Next time, don’t trust someone so easily Korr.” Serene Wrath said.
The conversation moved towards other topics, and the group sat and ordered drinks well into the night. The owners, exasperated by their new guests, ejected them at midnight, and the party made their way back to their lodgings slowly under the starry sky. Alepe, who had clearly drunk too much, was carried by Korr to bed. Ulfridda excused herself, retiring to her room. Serene Wrath and Koda’s Breath fell asleep almost instantly. Thousands of miles to the north, a body in ice was thawing.