We had all settled in for the night. Cots and blankets were scattered across the floor and most of them were filled. The few that were empty belonged to those on watch. I was drifting in and out of sleeping, myself. The excitement from the night was keeping me up, but Ragnvaldr would rub my back with his hand if he saw me awake. It was easier for me to fall back to sleep with the calm feeling it created within me.
Tobih tossed and turned all night as well. Usually he was a sound sleeper, having slept through the explosion back in the Granite Citadel even. I thought he may have been nervous about the journey into Orr. It was so close, and we needed to prepare mentally just as much as we had prepared physically. Maybe one could never prepare enough mentally to enter a place like Orr.
He stood up and tidied up his cot. That told me he didn’t plan on coming back to it any time soon. He whispered something to Cinder, waking her from her light sleep, before leaving. She curled into different position before sleeping again.
Even with as curious as I was, my eyelids became heavier with each passing second. I found myself dozing off again…
I watched from afar as the frozen land before me cracked and burst. Water sloshed from underneath, finding its way to the surface as the thick ice that once lay on top sank. It was all happening so quickly and I knew I had to keep running. This land was flooding fast and soon I feared it would all be underwater, trees and all. I needed to get to higher ground.
The land continued to break and crack and the sheer sound of it all would have been horrendous, only I could hear nothing but the deafening sound of a dragon flying above us and destroying anything within its path.
I slipped while trying to climb the mountain, dropping a bag on my way. I caught myself but the bag slid to the base of the mountain and I needed to be further up. I reluctantly let it go and continued my ascent. The adrenaline in my body made me forget the frigid cold around me, chilling my fingers through even my thick gloves. It made me forget about the fact that I hadn’t slept for days and that my body was aching from the battles I had just fought to get this far. It made me forget that I was out of breath; I pushed my body to its limit to climb this mountain.
I slid again and used a dead stump to catch myself before continuing. The vegetation was becoming dense around the center of the mountain. I used it to propel me further.
The land was changing around me again. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now I was yet again fearing for my life. The Norn at the outpost I had visited just days before, they were surely gone now. The water was rising and the outpost was probably underwater. I hadn’t made any friends, but it was still heartbreaking to think that the person I had just handed the final revision of my map to may no longer be with us.
Even if I made it to the top, was it enough? The dragon and water were both a threat and even if I escaped one, how could I be sure that I had escaped the other?
I fought my way to the top of the mountain eventually. My body had been pushed to its limit for far too long. I collapsed into the snow, unable to move my legs; my mind was growing numb. I stared into the gray sky and hoped to the gods that I would be spared.
I returned to the room I had fallen asleep in. Even though the dream felt like a nightmare, I felt myself interested in wanting to know how the rest of it played out. If it was a memory instead of a dream, I could only imagine it eventually turned into where I was now. I regret how I would never be able to see the fully story of my life. These dreams were the one hope of that I could cling to. If I was allowed enough dreams, perhaps I could eventually find it all out.
The sky was dim in these odd hours of the morning. Ragnvaldr was sound asleep this time, no longer dozing as we had both been. Cinder and Kiffi were out, which meant that it wasn’t quite dawn yet. Tobih, too, was out. His cot hadn’t been touched since he left it earlier and my curiosity was getting the best of me now. It wasn’t like him to give up sleep and it was beginning to worry me.
I slipped out of the cot Ragnvaldr and I were sharing and stepped outside. I heard Cinder and Kiffi talking in the distance and saw their darkened figures on the top of the sylvari look-out tower. Tobih didn’t appear to be with them, so I continued my search elsewhere. I walked the perimeter of the outpost. Eventually I saw his figure standing far away, skipping stones on the surface of the swamp water.
I left the safety of the thorny fence and met up with him. He seemed surprised when I greeted him, “Good morning.” I yawned and watched him stand up without picking up another rock.
“Claire,” it was clear now that he wasn’t expecting to see me, “Morning.” He wasn’t wearing his armor and was dressed in only a shirt and pants. His hair was messy and unbrushed, giving him a sort of unkept look.
“What are you doing out here so early?” I questioned as he looked me over.
He sighed before I could even finish my sentence and even when I did, he didn’t answer my question but instead worried over me. “What were you thinking, coming out here in just your bloomers and that top,” He unbuttoned his shirt and draped it around me, “You’re going to catch your death.” It wasn’t as if he was scolding me, even if it sounded as such.
“This worrying is very uncharacteristic of you, Tobih.” I faked a smile as he straightened out the shirt on me. His hands lingered on my shoulders. “What’s wrong?”
He suddenly embraced me, “I’m about to let you run into the most dangerous place I can think of, of course I’m worried.” His voice was soft and brushed just past my ears. I realized how much taller he was compared to me. It wasn’t often that I thought about the tallness of humans these days when I was also surrounded by Norn. But here he was, more than a full head taller than me. “Ragnvaldr, too. I’m afraid because I’m letting my friends, the people I love, lead themselves into danger.
I know,” He said as he saw my mouth move to form words, “I know that you need to do this. I was hoping for another way. I was selfishly hoping that you would decide to stay as you are. I still am. I can’t stand the thought of you dying.”
I wrapped my arms around him and buried my head in his shoulder, “It’s okay, Tobih.” It was all I knew to say. His embrace became tighter and he rested his head against mine.
“I’m sorry,” He whispered.