*Please note that this chapter is told from Seren’s point of view*
Sounds of chatter woke me up from a fitful sleep. I struggled to open my eyes and eventually managed to force them open. My messy room eventually came into focus and with a grumble, I swung my legs over the side of my bed and sat up. Whatever it was that had my fellow guild mates talking and so loudly had me a little intrigued but mostly annoyed. I was exhausted from the little expedition our Supreme Lady Commander lead. A chance to find Rhys’ killer turned out to not only be a bust, but was also close to being our last. How could she run off like that and leave us with that monster?
The voices outside grew louder so I reached for a pair of grey woven trousers. My hand knocked into the large hammer Nienna strapped me with after my mace shattered. I shoved it aside. If I never had to see that thing again, I’d be thrilled. I didn’t want it. I wanted my mace but there was no way it could be repaired. Looking at the clunky foreign weapon, I couldn’t think why she’d give me that thing. Maybe she felt bad for what had happened with my mace but giving me a weapon I couldn’t use right wasn’t going to help me. I stepped over the hammer as I pulled up my trousers and left my long white woven shirt untucked. This early in the day, I doubted anyone would care. Quickly, I brushed my long, wavy hair back from my face before leaving my room.
“I’m just sayin’.” Artis’ voice echoed down the hall. “It’s not like this is the first time she’s run from what I’ve seen.”
“There has to be a reason,” De Koninck claimed. Her two dark braids bounced as she gestured forcefully. “Why else would she do it?”
“What’s going on?” I asked, rubbing my tired eyes. De Koninck, Turborg, and Artis were standing in a rough circle as they talked. They all looked as tired as I felt.
“Nienna is gone,” Tuborg replied. “She left sometime during the evening after Ariella had turned in. No one saw or heard any trace of her.” He scratched his mushroom crown and sighed.
“She’s gone?” I stared at him in disbelief. “H-how? Why?”
The Sylvari shook his head. “We don’t know.”
My head started spinning. “What do you mean you don’t know?” I fumed. “You’re Commanders,” I said, motioning to both Tuborg and De Koninck. “Don’t you keep track of each other?”
“Apparently not,” Artis cracked under his breath. Crossing his arms over his chest, he uttered an amused chuckle.
I shot him a sharp glare. “Don’t,” I warned him.
The hunter shrugged casually. “Hey, I’m just speakin’ truth. Something’s up with Red. No one leaves without word when all is on the up and up, ya know.”
“She can do as she pleases,” argued De Koninck. “She’s a Commander and one of our Founders. If she has reason to leave without telling us, that’s her business.”
The main hall’s doors opened and Quint rushed through with Michi on his heels. “She headed south,” he announced, leaving his dark glasses on. “I found her trail. It’s faint but trackable.”
“Should we go after her?” Tuborg asked. “I know she left on her own but it’s not safe out there. Who knows how many she’ll encounter at this next place she spoke of. Not to mention all the dangers out there anyway.”
Artis spoke up. “I for one am mighty curious what Red is up to. I say we go.”
“When did you get a say in these things?” I snapped, placing my hands firmly on my hips.
“I’m a part of the group now,” he replied. “Haven’t you heard?”
I let out an exasperated sigh and threw my hands up in the air. “Yes and all thanks to a deal, you get to grace us all with your presence and opinions.”
“Now you look here princess!” Artis warned. Like a stalking predator, he inched towards me but I held my ground and met his narrowed gaze. “You may not like it, but a deal’s a deal and I’m here to stay.”
“Don’t call me princess!” I could feel my face flush and my heart pound violently in my ears.
“Enough!” Quint yelled as he stepped between Artis and I. He had his hands out at both of us, motioning us to calm down. “Fighting isn’t going to help the situation.”
“I wasn’t fightin’ old man. She was gunnin’ for me-”
Quint raised an eyebrow and pointed a finger at Artis. “Don’t push it.”
“We should all calm down and think about how we want to handle this,” Tuborg offered. He and De Koninck had both silently crept closer in the circle, in case they needed to pry us apart.
Artis put his hands up and backed away with a little smile on his lips. Gods he was annoying.
Heavy steps echoed into the main hall and were followed by an indecipherable grumbling. “Curse all this noise to the icy depths!” Liliana growled. “What in Owl’s talons is going on here?”
“Nienna is gone,” De Koninck explained.
“Again?” Liliana grumbled. Her long, wavy brown hair hung in a tangled mess past her shoulders. She tried to run her fingers through but they got caught half way back.
“Again.” Tuborg replied. He looked aside at De Koninck who merely sighed. Neither of them looked surprised.
Puzzled, I looked at our two present leaders. “Do you two even know why she leaves? Where she goes? Her secrets?” I blurted out in a frustrated rage.
“Secrets?” De Koninck asked, cocking her head to the side. The large Norn towered over me as she stepped closer. “We are aware when she leaves but what secrets are you talking about Seren?”
Nienna’s enraged scolding flashed across my memory. I doubt she would be thrilled to hear I had stepped out of my place and spilled secrets. There was much I owed to Nienna, including my life, and I was very grateful. But there was something I saw in her, something deep down and hidden. Something dangerous. Whether she kept it hidden on purpose or that she had no idea it existed, I had no idea. I didn’t even know if anyone else saw what I saw. Either way, it made me a little weary of her.
“Nothing.” I replied. “Never mind.” Turning around, I ignored their pleas to stay and instead made for my room. As I neared my door, I could hear Clarkus’ deep, booming voice mixing with the rest of them as they continued to discuss the growing concern that was our Supreme Lady Commander.
For some time, I stared at the grooves in my the ceiling planks as I lay on my bed. I don’t know exactly how much time had passed but according to the shifting light from the sun, I’d guess maybe an hour. I tried not to think about anything as I laid there, especially not Nienna but the thoughts weaseled their way in anyway. I wondered if everyone would decide to try to find her. I rolled over to my side and tucked my arm under my head. If they wanted to go find her, let them. I didn’t want any part of it. It seemed that ever since I had met Nienna during the attack on Lion’s Arch and joined her group of people, my life had turned into a series of painful events and loss.
I glanced at the makeshift bag containing what was left of the mace my brother had given me when I made it into the Vigil. It was nothing but a pile of shards now thanks to the situation Nienna had gotten us into. All I had left of my family was now reduced to nothing. I felt my chin start to quiver as my eyes started to water and I curled up into a ball as warm tears streamed down my face.
A knock on my door startled me and I quickly wiped at my face.
“Seren?” Tuborg called through the door. “We’re going to try to find Nienna. We could use your strength and skills.”
“No,” I replied firmly. Even though I tried, the waver in my voice still came out.
Silence came from the other side of the door for a few moments before Tuborg spoke again. “Okay. Ariella will be on guard. We’ll be back as soon as we can.” I could hear the tinge of disappointment in his voice but I didn’t care. I just wanted them to all go so everything could be quiet for awhile. I closed my eyes and tried to will myself back to sleep for awhile but it was no use. My brain just wouldn’t shut up.
After awhile, I finally felt like stepping out of my small room. I was hungry anyway and didn’t have any extra snacks squirreled away in my room so I padded down the hall towards our dining hall. It wasn’t really a hall, but more of a modestly sized room. There were tables and benches for people to sit at, a fireplace along the wall and in the back were our stove and stone oven. Dirtied pots and dishes filled the sink by the stone oven, leftover from a hurried breakfast. I tore off a section of pumpkin bread and grabbed an apple from a short barrel on the floor before making my way back to my room.
In the hallway, I stopped at my door but my gaze drifted over to Nienna’s quarters down the hall. My suspicions grew as I thought again about how she insisted I keep quiet about the Inquest device and the odd way she left our group when that eight-legged monster showed up. On top of it all, one of our Founders was dead and another missing. Was she hiding something? I took a bite of my apple and made sure no one else was around before I walked down to Nienna’s room.