“Officer, how much time is left until we arrive to Lion’s Arch?” Asked Ross to the angry charr.
The charr looked at the human deceptively. “The storm is fading, I guess it won’t take long for us to arrive.” She looked Ross curiously. “Why would you ask?”
“I’m getting off the ship with prisoner Patrick” said Ross, which made the charr grin, obviously not content with Ross’ decision to leave the ship with hes newly achieved toy. “Is something worrying you?”
“You cannot do that. You both are on the ship I rule, so it’s me who decides who can leave and who cannot. I won’t grant your request.”
“Officer, Patrick is my prisoner. We had orders to bring him as soon as possible to Lion’s Arch. I hope you understand this matter is not negotiable, for it is a mandate given to us from far up, it is not an option. Were they aware you impeded their orders, I think you would be severely punished” said Ross in a cordial tone while the charr started to clench her fist in anger.
“Oh, I am deeply sorry” she said in an ironic voice. “You will get jailed with him as well then. Guards, come and send this man with his lovely companion.”
“Do you know what you are doing!?” Shouted Ross to her while being dragged by the guards.
“I cannot hear you. You were found drowned in the sea. Enjoy yourself with Patrick.”
The three prisoners were sitting in a circle, killing time, talking about the actions that got them jailed. Not one of them had committed a crime warranting being jailed, but each one faced an obstacle between their injustice and their freedom: the Officer.
“We are her toys. She just plays with us, tests their new weapons, beat us for no reason. We were so afraid she would shoot you right away. Some time ago, one of us tried to escape. We failed and she shot our companion without a second thought. You’ll learn your lesson this way then, she told us. Since then, we are so afraid to try anything.”
“Why did you try to escape? Isn’t this ship scheduled to pass through Lion’s Arch from time to time?” Asked Patrick, knowing he would not like the answer.
“It does” answered the other prisoner. “But… no one ever comes to retrieve us from that charr’s hands. We have been stuck in here for a year at least, we assume. I… I’m too afraid to risk my life.”
Suddenly, screams were heard from the stairs that lead to the ship’s jails. Ross was being dragged in, protesting against the unprecedented imprisonment, trying to convince both Lionguards, distinguished by their armour, to free him. “Irondawn sends me, dammit!” yelled Ross. Upon his words his captors doubted, stopping for a couple of seconds, only to drag him again toward the cell.
Patrick saw the familiar face show up in front of them. “What is going on?” he wondered, realising that the two men pulling Ross were the same ones he made kneel before them. They opened the door, throwing Ross inside carelessly. Patrick got up to reach his friend, still looking directly into both men’s eyes, which showed fear and deception. They quickly closed the jail’s door when Patrick stepped towards Ross, probably thinking he would attack them and try to escape. “I am not a delinquent. I have no reason to escape” whispered Patrick to one of the guard’s mind. The guard shook his head and ran back to the deck.
“Hey, are you alright?” Asked the three prisoners to the newcomer as they helped him recover from the fall.
“These idiots are so screwed. Once I get out of here they are going nowhere” grumbled Ross, still mad about the treatment he just received. “We need to get out of here, now! We almost arrived to Lion’s Arch.”
When he mentioned the possibility of escaping, the two prisoners fell back, shaking his head. “No, we… we can’t.”
“Oh, yes. We can. You seem normal men, but Patrick and I are not as fragile as normal citizens” affirmed Ross. Patrick glanced at him surprised. This man I frightened so much is bragging now? Strange he though. “They were dumb enough to not even check my pockets.”
“Uh, you’ll see, Ross… I know what you mean, and I am not as fragile as normal “citizens”, but I don’t have any…”
“Stop the chat, we need to get going” said Ross, as they heard someone shout: “Lion’s Arch in sight! Prepare to land” Patrick knew there was no time to speak. He could only rely on his special skill and brute force to help them. Meanwhile, the other two prisoners were paralyzed.
“We… we don’t want to… risk our lives. We saw one of our friends die and…” said one prisoner, but the other took one step to the front.
“I… I am going with you. I’d feel irresponsible by letting you do all the work.” He looked to his companion’s eyes, nodding. “You have a daughter waiting for you, Drac. I have nothing else waiting for me. It’s fine if you stay here.”
Both Ross and Patrick looked at each other. Patrick remembered they had been in this jail for more than a year, risked their lives to escape and got nothing more than suffering, with one of their companions dead. He nodded and told the other prisoner to wait them here. “You will return to your family” said Patrick. While he said those words, he noticed Ross setting up some kind of tiny bombs on the door.
“Get ready, we are going now” said Ross, before the bombs made a small explosion, but powerful enough to blast off the door and open an exit. The three began to run out of the cell, while the father prisoner fell down, briefly dazed by the little explosion. When he managed to get up, he found an old looking dagger, with a fancy-looking handle, next to him. He crouched to grab it, and a voice came to his mind: “Don’t be foolish, Drac. You have things to protect, but don’t be afraid to fight. Doubt and submission can bring you death and loss as well.” He smiled. Thanks, he thought, knowing Patrick could hear him. He stood still, dagger in hand, being cautious and prepared to face anyone that would try to kill him. He felt hope for the first time since his imprisonment.
While they were running to the stairs that lead to the ship’s first basement floor, they found a post near them that had Patrick’s belongings. There were only a pair of fingerless gloves and nothing more. “Is that all you have?” Asked Ross, uncertain.
“Yes. I gave Drac the dagger I was hiding. I didn’t know how to use it properly anyways.” They continued to rush towards the stairs, Ross in the front with his apparently limitless source of small grenades. Patrick simply put his curious gloves while running. They knew an outnumbered battle against them was going to burst out once the guards came to see the source of the noisy explosion.
“Any plan, Ross?” Asked Patrick. He seemed to be a serious, calm Norn. But everyone could feel from his voice, from his presence, he didn’t dislike to fight. “I’m not dying to fight them, this is just… “Self defense”. Got that?” He winked an eye to Ross which, in turn, made him shiver for an unknown reason. Is he… some kind of monster? Thought Ross to himself.
“I don’t know. We’ll have to figure out something once they come” doubted Ross.
They went up to the first basement floor. The place had no rooms at all, it was just a plain floor full of large wooden boxes, illuminated by torches. They heard Lionguard’s footsteps coming from the ship’s deck stairs, which meant direct confrontation was imminent. “Hide yourselves using the wooden crates.” Whispered Patrick in both of his allies’ minds. They reacted immediately trying to get out of the enemies’ eyes.
For a moment they thought they were safe, that they could sneak past the Lionguards’ and ambush them from behind. Unfortunately, the place was light up with torches, but their strange light seemed to absorb, towards the torch, each of their shadows instead of repelling them. How can this be possible? The same thought came to the three allies minds. The sound of footsteps grew louder and increased in number. There were, at least, twenty Lionguards coming to check.
Patrick, Ross and the prisoner tried by all means to extinguish the torch flames, but it was no use. There is magic involved here. Once most of the Lionguards were down, they started to organize in search groups, looking for them. “I’m sure they are hiding somewhere here, let’s split up. I’ll send one group to the lowest floor, where the prison is found.” It was not the charr’s voice. The woman talking stood beside a mage-looking Asura. “I’ll stand here to protect our Elementalist. She’ll make it easier to find the fugitives” said the woman firmly.
I knew it! Exclaimed to himself Patrick. Now, think, think… What can I do? I can’t let the prisoner that came with us die, nor Ross. Should I use it? Patrick could feel the search groups approaching each one of them. There is no time left… thought, desperately. “There is a shadow over here” heard Patrick whisper one of the groups. He sat down and adopted his trance-like pose, trying to concentrate.
“Hurry up and find them, she won’t last much longer controlling the torchlights!” Yelled the woman that protected the Asura. So, it’s that little mage over there the cause of this strange torches’ light? Ross, looked over to the prisoner. “Give me the pistol you stole on the post before” whispered Ross. The prisoner handed over the gun to him, without a second thought. Ross slightly loomed over a wooden crate, trying to catch the perfect spot to shoot the Elementalist.
“We found them!” Screamed one of the search groups. At the same moment, a pistol shot was rang. Directly to the forehead, convincingly thought Ross. However, to his surprise, the bullet didn’t kill anyone, it just met the shield from the woman that protected the Asura.
“Go and take him!” Said the woman. Ross returned the pistol to the prisoner and prepared his own weapons to fight his own comrades.
Unexpectedly, every light that illuminated the ship’s basements floors ceased. “What is happening?” Inquired the woman.
“I don’t know, this… someone is using a magic much greater than mine to keep the lights shut. I…” She couldn’t finish the sentence, as screams of pain coming from the Lionguard’s echoed.
“Retreat!” Yelled the woman, but she only got more and more sounds from his defeated men.d
When the lights vanished, Patrick felt relieved, getting up. I guess some bare hands fighting will do now. He ambushed the group that came for him and defeated them one by one. Meanwhile, Ross and the prisoner did the same thing, sneaking on the guards and throwing grenades and shooting respectively. Low ranking Lionguards where no match especially for Patrick and Ross.
“They are only unconscious” said Patrick, approaching the woman.
“You monsters, I’ll make sure you won’t get past here!” Affirmed the woman, adopting a fight stance with his sword and shield.
“Long time no see, Anna” mumbled Ross. Her eyes, wide open, looked at him in the dark, surprised.
“What are you doing here, master?”
“Oi, don’t call me that, will you?” Said Ross in a tone Patrick never heard coming from him. “It’s been long since we worked together. And you got stronger! Those reflexes, covering the bullet for this asura with your shield.”
“Why the hell were you imprisoned here?” Demanded Anna, confused about the situation. “And why are you letting these two other delinquents escape with you?”
“Come with us. We need to have a talk with this ship’s captain. That charr really likes to disobey orders.”
They were heading upstairs, when suddenly they heard a loud scream. Patrick shivered. I’ve heard a scream like that before. “I’ll go and check” said Patrick while rushing towards the second basement floor.
“Can we trust him?” Asked Anna.
“We can, don’t worry. I don’t know who he is, or what has he done, but he isn’t a bad Norn after all.”
They continued heading upstairs, towards the ship’s deck, where the captain’s room was located.
Meanwhile, Patrick kept running. I’ve heard it before. When he got to the place, he saw Lionguards’ bodies on the ground, dead. Oh, no… Drac! He tried to light a torch, but he couldn’t. Total darkness… not again. Another shiver came down Patrick’s spine, his thoughts being elsewhere in his past.
He heard someone whisper some words. He could discern two figures. One was Drac, laying on the ground, bleeding. The other one was a man, in some kind of religious tunic. “YOU!” Yelled Patrick, running as fast as he could towards the man, trying to punch him in the face with his bare hands. The strange-looking man completely disappeared. Damnit! He escaped… Patrick looking at his closed hand, bleeding by some kind of cut. Did I manage to punch him?
“I… could defend myself, Patrick” agonized Drac.
“If you call being beaten up like this defence…”
The torches emitted light, just shortly after the man disappeared. So it was you… these cuts are the same. Patrick looked closely at Drac’s body. It had cuts everywhere. “You did an amazing job surviving, Drac…” lamented Patrick.
“Will I live?” Asked Drac.
“You have to live, don’t you? Your daughter must be impatiently waiting for you.”
“Yes, I guess so. I must look strong for her!” he said hopeful.
“Well, I don’t know if your condition can be classified as strong, though…” they both started laughing. “I’ll get some help, alright? Don’t die here, please” joked Patrick as Drac fell unconscious. He’s lost too much blood. Shortly after that, a couple of Lionguards came to heal Drac. “You will live, and you will meet your family again. I promise” whispered the Norn to Drac’s mind, which seemed void to him. Although there was no answer, a feint smile appeared on his lips. What a relief… sighed Patrick.
He left the medics treat Drac and went upstairs to meet again with Ross and Anna. When he arrived to the deck, he heard screams coming from the captain’s room. More problems? Come on. Patrick just sat with his back to the ship’s main mast. This charr really pisses me off. It’ll be fun to see if she reacts the same way Ross did… heh.
The door was kicked opened by the charr officer. “You!” She screamed pointing at Patrick, drawing her sword, advancing towards the Norn decided on killing him.
“If I were you I wouldn’t get any closer” calmly said Ross. Anna drew both her sword and shield, prepared to chase after the Charr, but she was stopped by Ross. “No need to worry.” She was about to complain and free herself from the man’s arm, but then saw as the Charr fall to her knees, speechless. “He is very strong. No need to worry.” The charr bowed her head, and started crying, begging for mercy.
“What did he do?” Asked Anna, frightened.
“Oh boy, I wish I knew.”