The morning sun in Lion’s Arch was bright but not harsh, as the southerly winds kept the area cool from her strongest rays. The Lionguard and Consortium groups patrolled in distinct groups, the former with weapons at hand and eyes alert for trouble, the latter holding clipboards, long quills, and discussing important construction matters between them. When each passed the other, they fell silent and the air grew tense.
Koda’s Breath, Serene Wrath, Ulfridda, Korr and Alepe had woken at the first light of dawn in preparation to meet the contact from the Mesmer Collective. They gathered now at a bench in the Lion’s Court, Ulfridda resting her cane on the handrail, sitting straight-backed and alert. Korr sat on the floor, playing a throwing game with Ounce, his large chandelier-bow slung across his back. Alepe sat next to Ulfridda, his messy hair barely reaching her shoulders, concentrating on cleaning his toolkit. Koda’s Breath and Serene Wrath stood next to Korr.
“I hope we get answers.” Serene Wrath broke the silence and quietude of the dawn.
“Focus on Tranquility” Koda’s Breath answered, slipping his paw into Wrath’s, “If we do not find answers with him, we shall find them elsewhere”.
“The Mesmer Collective has been around for some time” Ulfridda said, scanning the area, “Even if they don’t have a solution, they will know someone who will”.
“What I do not understand, is why they’re so secretive.” Alepe said without looking up from his toolkit. “If they have access to powerful mesmer spells, why not use that to help the world?”
“There are some forces that should not be used regularly” Serene Wrath said. “You have already seen what happens when I lost control”.
“He made the Priory very messy. But don’t worry” Korr said with a smile “It wasn’t your fault”.
“I think our contact is here” Ulfridda motioned with her chin at a young human walking towards them. He was dressed in a formal fashion, wearing a long black overcoat, high boots and a deep purple vest and matching cravat. His hair was immaculately oiled back, shining in the dim light of the dawn and reflecting his deep purple hair colour. He stopped near the ruined lion statue and pulled a large round pocketwatch from his coat pocket. He paused there, regarding it intently, before snapping it closed and walking straight toward them.
“Elder Ulfridda, I presume?” He extended his hand just far enough that she would need to stand to shake it.
“You are correct” Ulfridda did not stand, leaving his hand awkwardly in the air. He bowed slightly, and retracted his gloved hand.
“My name is Jayden. I represent the Mesmer Collective here in Lion’s Arch.” He turned to Koda’s Breath and Serene Wrath. He concentrated a moment, bowed, and spoke.
“Ākāśa samudra abhivādana jastai ma, timīharūlā’ī abhivādana paṭhā’ēkā”
“Sūrya bihāna abhivādana jastai ma, timīharūlā’ī abhivādana paṭhā’ēkā” Koda’s Breath answered. “But we speak Krytan, friend. There is no need to use Old Kodan here.”
“Your language sounds funny” Korr said.
“Don’t be rude, Korr” Ulfridda chided. “Impressive!” Ulfridda stood and leant on her cane. “But let’s get down to business. Did you secure our passes to Divinity’s Reach?”
“Selvfølgelig, ældre” He said, and Ulfridda’s eyebrows shot up.
“That trick is useful, young one. But I’ve had enough of your showing off.” She held her hand out. Jayden sighed, and drew five large envelopes from his breast pocket.
“I apologise. I don’t get many opportunities to demonstrate my linguistic skills, as most here insist on Krytan. Every once in a while I can parley with a Canthan or Elonian, and some Pirates speak Janthiri. The tengu get aggressive if I even try to speak their tongue.”
“These will get us into the city?” Alepe asked. Ulfridda handed him the envelopes, and he placed them in his pack.
“Better. They are passes to allow you into the Royal Palace.”
Koda’s Breath was surprised. “We are to see the human Queen?” He asked.
“No” Jayden answered. “You will be meeting with her head of security and primary attaché, Countess Anise.”
“Good.” Ulfridda said. “We are eager to get going. When is Anise expecting us?”
“Countess Anise is expecting you immediately, but your appointment will be in another two weeks. She is a busy woman.” Jayden’s smile had disappeared. The humans of Kryta were overly concerned with position, Ulfridda had explained to the kodans, and as such, took titles very seriously.
“How are we going to get there?” Serene Wrath asked.
“Countess Anise has paid for your asura gate travel. When you arrive in Divinity’s Reach, you will be staying in a Collective safehouse. The countess was very interested to hear about your discovery, and we cannot take the chance it may fall into the wrong hands. Here is a guide to finding the safehouse” He handed Ulfridda a large piece of parchment, folded in many sections. “This parchment cannot be copied, so keep it on you at all times, and it shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.”
“Thank you.” Ulfridda said, handing the paper to Alepe.
“Your departure time is in thirty minutes, at the asura gate hub. Your names are in their registry already.”
Thank you Jayden.” Koda’s Breath said, and Jayden bowed. He turned on his heel and in a flash of bright purple light, disappeared. Ulfridda scowled and started moving towards the gate hub.
“Let’s go, I don’t want us to miss our departure.”
The group made their way across the Lion’s Court and towards the gate hub. As they walked, the sun crested the mountains on the eastern side, bathing the area with bright light. The long shadows of the ruined buildings were fewer now, and the high structures and scaffolding created a crosshatching of shadows that danced across the ground.
The gate attendant that morning was an aged asura male, whose legs had long given out and required a chair on wheels to get around. He had a hand-held monitor on his lap as he took the identifications and travel documents of the now growing line of people in front of the gate. The group joined the line, which was moving slowly. The line of people were conversing with each other freely and amicably, and Alepe was drawn into conversation with a charr standing behind him. Several minutes passed, before a hush fell on the crowd. A spritely human woman ran past the line, nodded at the lionguard and went straight through the gate. The line began buzzing with activity.
“Who was that?” Koda’s Breath asked Ulfridda.
“No clue.” She answered.
The sylvari just ahead of them in the line turned, and spoke. “That was the Hero of Shaemoor! We are so lucky to have seen her today!”
“We aren’t from around here.” Serene Wrath explained, and she realised her excitement would fall on deaf ears. “What did she do to deserve that title?”
“Apparently, a centaur shaman attacked shaemoor, and she helped defeat it and the elemental it summoned, and after a while, she was named one of the commanders of the pact, under Trehearne! She assisted in defeating Zhaitan, the dragon!” The sylvari explained like they had been living under a rock. She nearly continued when she realised it was her turn next in line, gave her papers to the attendant, who nodded, and she walked through. Koda’s Breath was next.
“Papers and name please” The attendant said, flatly.
Koda’s Breath handed him the papers. “Koda’s Breath”.
“Your name is not on the register. Move out of the line please.”
“Our travel was paid for by Countess Anise, of Divinity’s Reach” Serene Wrath spoke, and handed over his papers.
“No. Step out of the line please.” he said, while Ulfridda handed over her and Korr’s papers.
“You two too.” The attendant rolled his eyes and discarded the papers.
“May I see that screen please?” Alepe asked.
“Think you can do my job eh?” the attendant said. “Suit yourself”. He threw the hand-held monitor at Alepe, who caught it. He scrolled up, seeing his name appear briefly, before the screen flashed red and it disappeared.
“Hey, my name was here!”
“Where?” The attendant asked with a smile.
“It was—it was right here!” Alepe shook the monitor, which did nothing. He handed the monitor back, forlorn.
The group moved back towards the Lion’s Court. Ulfridda was lost in thought, while Koda’s Breath and Serene Wrath walked hand-in-hand.
“What shall we do?” Korr asked.
“We travel to Divinity’s Reach by foot. We have two weeks before our appointment, which should be enough time if we take the most direct route. I’ll go hire us a cart and bulls.”
“Do you have the money?” Koda’s Breath asked. “We have nothing to help pay for it.”
Ulfridda looked at him with a twinkle in her eye. “I am very old, apprentice. My account has been open for a long time.” She walked towards the nearest bank, fishing a long platinum key from around her neck. Koda’s Breath and Serene Wrath looked puzzled. Alepe smiled.
“You guys ever heard of interest?”