“Heroes of Ascalon Settlement, welcome to Divinity’s Reach!” The earnest human gatekeeper shook each of their hands vigorously, a smile dominating his face. “You saved my little sister and her family, you are welcome here. If there is anything we can do to make your stay more comfortable, please ask.”
Ulfridda smiled awkwardly, and rubbed her hand. “If you could please point us in the direction of the Shining Blade Headquarters, we have an invitation to see the Queen.
“Of course!” The young man stretched his arm out, and pointed with an open hand. “Follow the road up, to the palace. You will go past the Ministry, and into the gardens up there.” He paused, taking breath. “The headquarters are up there, just ask for directions when you get there.”
Ulfridda thanked him, and gave him a silver coin. He tried to give it back, but she gave him a stern look.
“Let’s go.” Koda’s Breath walked with Serene Wrath, up towards the Palace. Divinity’s Reach, he understood, was built into six sections, each with a high and low road, the former leading to the palace. They climbed this grand boulevard now, dodging the masses of humans going about their day. The midday meal had just begun, and they were out in force, groups meeting to eat together and socialise.
The humans of Divinity’s reach separated themselves into three classes, the nobles, the commonfolk and peasantry. Each group seemed to stay together and were fairly obvious by their dress. As they climbed, they noticed more nobility scattered amongst the crowd.
“I have read about the Krytan society, this system has lasted for hundreds of years. It ensures they have no brain drain or skills shortage.” Alepe commented.
“People should be able to do what they want, surely?” Serene Wrath argued. “I was born to kitchen workers, but I was promoted on merit to Claw.
“I did not say it was a just system” Alepe laughed. “It works though.” he shrugged.
“It is old-fashioned” Ulfridda scowled. “I have seen entire nations fall because they put the wrong people in power.” She was quiet then, for a while before speaking again. “A society that cares too much for qualities that can’t be taught or trained will hurt itself.”
“If the people are happy, then it’s okay” Korr said, scratching Ounce behind the ears. They were beginning to attract stares, and Korr’s footsteps were making the road vibrate dangerously.
“Come.” Koda’s Breath motioned for them to hurry. “We are attracting the wrong attention. Countess Anise would not have arranged a safehouse if she wanted us to be noticed.”
They had barely any time to marvel at the spectacular gardens and glass roof of the palace, and the mobile planetarium that spun lazily above. They arrived at the Shining Blade headquarters and were given another map. It was marked with a large red X, in the Ossan Quarter.
Following the Grenth High Road, they made their way down to the quarter. At the marked point was a small, dingy orphanage. They entered, and a matronly woman greeted them.
“Welcome, I am Margery. You’re here to see the children?”
Koda’s Breath shook her hand and smiled. “No. We were lead here by this.” He showed her the map. She turned it over, then stuffed it into her shirt.
“This way.” She beckoned. Leading them into a separate room, she walked over to a bare bookcase on the wall. She grasped a shelf, pulled, and turned he piece of wood down. The threadbare sofa in the centre of the room flipped over, revealing a set of stairs below.
“Down there. Hurry” She ushered them in. Ulfridda made a light, and they descended.
The spiral staircase was cool and dry, and unadorned. They climbed down and after a few flights, the stairs simply stopped. On the last step, there was a line in New Krytan.
“Down you go, but up you go” Ulfridda read.
“What could that mean?” Alepe asked.
They did not have time to consider, as a mesmer portal opened before them and a great wind seemed to suck them in. The world swam with purple energy, and they were dumped unceremoniously into a large room. The walls were lavishly mosaicked, and the floor carpeted with thick plush. One side of the room was dominated by a large window, offering a view out from a high spire. The furniture was decadent, and standing near the door was a matronly woman.
“Margery, where are we?” Koda’s Breath asked.
“My bottom hurts” Korr complained. “Where is…?” He found ounce and scooped her up.
Margery smiled. “Welcome, travelers. You met my clone back in the orphanage. I am Senior Administrator Margery, of the mesmer collective. You’re at one of our safehouses.” She motioned to the window.
“As you can see, you are all still in Divinity’s Reach. The door will lead to any room you wish, just say the name of the room and you shall be transported there. Unfortunately, you cannot be seen to leave this safehouse, so if you want to explore the city, a glamour shall be applied to you when you say “exit” to the door. It shall change every time you leave, so prepare to see a lot of faces if you enjoy exploring.”
“When can we meet Anise?” Serene Wrath asked.
“Countess Anise will meet you in a few days. She shall attend to you here.” Margery smiled, bowed, and excused herself. “I shall return tomorrow. Food is in the kitchen. If you like, there is an exhibit on Maguuma relics on at the public reliquary. It is free admission before midday.”