The Road to the East:
Argyle wanders down the labyrinthine corridors and book shelves of the Priory, looking for where Aki ended up. He's eventually directed to a door to one of the dormitory rooms.
Slowly, Argyle raises a fist, his arm creaking as it moves, almost like he were a machine, programed to go through a series of very specific motions, all stiff and arduous, a little like he were a windup toy.
He knocks on the door.
Walter opens the door. Behind him, Agnes can be seen packing up, while Aki is lounging on a bed, reading. "Yes?" Walter asks.
Argyle stares for a moment, his unwavering gaze almost disturbing in how unblinking it is. He just stands there in the doorway, unmoving, silent, his arm still held aloft, his fist clenched, as if he were still knocking on the door.
Argyle’s hand opens, one gnarled and damaged finger at a time. He begins to slowly wave a Walter, using only his elbow so it looks a little like two planks of wood that have been nailed together and left to swing in the wind.
Poor Walter doesn't know how to react to this strange Sylvari. He stands there, looking awkward. Aki's voice sounds from the background, "What is it?"
Argyle wilts a little, then looks around Walter as he hears Aki's voice.
He blinks, appearing right behind the servant, in the room, pointing behind his back with a thumb at the hallway behind them.
The two servants both jump and yelp, startled.
"We're leaving?” Aki asks, “Alright. Is there a meal prepared or shall I prepare my own?" and by that he meant that the servants would.
Argyle pauses, looking down at the ground. He casts his mind back to Gulmont by the bridge outside. He didn't seem to be eating, but then again, he didn't really remember the last time Gulmont ate, and he know Clockk only ate those tubes of unappetizing looking greyish paste, so logic would conclude there was no meal to be had.
Of course, Argyle voices none of this, he just stands there in silence, a silence that grows ever more awkward the longer it draws out. It begins to seem as though Argyle isn't going to answer at all, but he finally looks up, shaking his head in reply.
Aki rolls his eyes and sighs in an exaggerated way. "Urgh. Fine. You people are just going to have to wait while we eat, then. We'll be with you in a while." At this, the servants begin unpacking food supplies and boiling water to prepare a breakfast for their young master, and a more modest meal for themselves. Aki kicks back, returning to his book.
Argyle extends his hand, his palm open, his gnarled fingers outstretched. He begins to close them, first his index finger, crawling up like paper that's slowly burning, then his middle finger, then the last two, forming a fist with his thumb pointing to the sky.
He gives Aki a thumbs up, then turns on his heel, going back through the tunnelled hallways until he finds the little nook between bookcases where Vervain has hidden herself.
In the corner is a small backpack, an axe, a dagger, and assorted shiny junk that's purpose is anyone's guess along with a wooden toy Ventari that sits limply against the wall.
Argyle knocks against the wall.
Something stirs in the tiny, dark corner. After letting his eyes adjust, Argyle sees a single eye looking out from under a scruffy blanket. It squints in the light.
The thing under the blanket groans quietly and bundles itself back into a blanket burrito, disappearing from view.
Argyle blinks once, then crouches down, crawling into the little cubby hole to sit down beside the blanket burrito.
He begins to pet it lightly, like how you might stroke a cat, his arm creaking with every movement.
"Leaving soon," he says simply.
The bundle leans against Argyle. A mumbling comes from within. "..Mmkay."
Argyle tilts his head to one side, thinking for a moment, but not quite as long and hard as the train of thought he had a little while ago.
"Mhm?" prompts the burrito.
"Hungry." It was a question, even though it sounded more like a statement.
"Mhm", confirms the burrito.
Argyle nods stiffly. "Aki," he begins, each word given very careful consideration. "Making food."
There's a moment of silence before the burrito shuffles again, perhaps nervously. "I.. I can't eat his food," a muffled squeak says.
Argyle looks down at the burrito, his red glow illuminating the darkness. He falls silent as he thinks, trying to figure out the logistics of eating and why she might have trouble eating Aki's food more than she would anyone else's.
A crackling of chaos energies fills the little nook. Argyle hears the quick chanting of a mantra and then all of a sudden the blanket is tossed aside, and Vervain stands up, wiping away imaginary dust from her spotless garb.
The blanket falls on Argyle's head. He stays there.
"On second thought, why be needlessly prudish? I'll go check what they're cookin'," Vervain says as she squeezes out from between the bookcases and skips down along the hallway. "Oh, be a dear and pack up for me, 'kay? Love ya, chickadee," she hollers as she goes.
Argyle slowly pulls the blanket from his face and gets to his feet, just as she disappears around the corner.
There's not a lot there to pack up, and he has very little trouble fitting it all into his pockets. Everything simply seems to vanish into them, no matter how big they might be, even the axe, which goes in handle first, the axe head eventually getting shoved in.
He then turns to follow Vervain, going back to Aki's room.
The two are already arguing about Vervain's right to the food by the time Argyle gets there.
“We didn’t pack enough for everyone,” Aki protests. “This food is only for me and my servants!”
“Oh, you can afford it,” Vervain claims, waving a hand dismissively. “Besides, I deserve to eat this, and you’d be cruel to let me starve, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?” She added, fluttering her eyes at the young noble, all the while collecting food onto her own plate.
Argyle stands idly in a corner, waiting as the two argue it out, watching listlessly as Vervain's plate gets higher and higher, stacking up more bacon and eggs than are actually there.
By the time the two are done bickering, Vervain has already eaten a decent helping of food. She sets the plate down, flicks her leafy hair and twirls around. "Fine, keep your food. Geez, youth these days... See you outside!" she chimes as she walks out the door, wiping her mouth.
The three humans sit in the room, deadpan for a while before simply sighing and returning to their meals, deciding to simply accept what just transpired.
Argyle follows after her, like a puppy. Even as emotionless as he is, a wagging tail can almost be seen. Whether or not he ate any of the food himself while the others were distracted by Vervain's antics is anyone's guess, but the used napkin seems to imply he did.
Vervain and Argyle soon join Clockk, Kharn and Gulmont by the stairs leading down to the great Priory bridge.
Kharn sits leaning up against the low wall by the stairs, his nose buried in a book. Anyone who looks can see it's about Elonan history. Several similar tomes can be seen poking from a rucksack next to him.
“Where’s Aki?” Gulmont asks, looking around. He sets his gaze upon a small group of Priory types nearby, who all seem ready for a trip. There’s two Asura of either gender, a human female, a Norn woman, a female Charr a male Sylvari.
"And...Who are they?" Gulmont adds, pointing to the group.
Kharn mumbles a reply, but it is incoherent. He's clearly too lost in his book.
“What did he say?” Gulmont asks as he looks around at the others.
“Kharn!?” Clockk pipes up, only now recovering from his Frank ordeal. “Who are they!?” He points a claw at the priory party.
Clockk promptly kicks Kharn in the shin.
"OW"! Kharn exclaims, but keeps reading.
The male asura waddles up to Clockk, clearing his throat.
Clockk turns on the male, "WHAT!?"
"I suppose I should introduce us, yes? Are you the leader of this group"?
“Why yes,” Clockk says, puffing himself up. “Yes I am.”
“No he’s not,” Gulmont sighs in the background.
“Shut up!” Clockk snaps.
"Mmmbrlrlrllr". Kharn adds.
Argyle nods in agreement.
The asura looks them over for a moment. "Ah, yes, quite. I am Magister Brokk. Steward Gixx requested I tag along with your group, said you wouldn't mind".
“Well I do mind!” Clockk gripes. “What business does Gixx have sending you along with us! We’re going to slay a dragon, there won’t be time to cater for whatever you’re doing! I’m going to give that busybody a piece of my mind!”
And with that Clockk storms off, heading for Gixx’s office, leaving the others behind to wait for Aki.
Argyle on the other hand lets out a gasp, his eyes going wide. His hands begin to tremble and his breathing becomes erratic. He backs away from the group as well, crouching down behind one of the large stone walls.
Gulmont cringes, watching Argyle go, deciding it would be best to leave him be. “I don’t expect Clockk will be talking Gixx out of this, so welcome aboard, Magister. I’ve heard there’s already a priory team heading out to the Crystal Desert and Elona to check things out, I suppose you’ll be meeting up with them?”
The Magister looks at Argyle. "Is... is he all-right? I have healing abilities".
Gulmont looks over his shoulder at where Argyle disappeared to. “He’ll be fine…I think…Just give him a moment. He has a thing about the word ‘dragon’…and anything dragon related. Best not to mention it around him.”
The Magister nods. "I see. Well, it's to be expected I suppose given we will be entering dragon territory at some point".
“He was like this in the jungle as well,” Gulmont tells Brokk. “Just as we saw Mordremoth. He seemed to stop dead in his tracks, I’m not sure what made him move again.”
Vervain, known for having zero respect for personal place, trots over to Argyle, sits next to him and begins singing an eerie lullaby. She gently pets Argyle's leaves while doing so.
The song seems to sooth Argyle. He focuses on the sound of Vervain’s voice instead of those that only he can hear, blocking them out in favour of her. His breathing slowly becomes more regular, his hands stop their violent shaking, and the pins and needles that numbed his body start to fade.
Once he can breathe again, and the pressure on his chest that made him feel as though he was suffocating has abated, he opens his eyes, giving Vervain a nod of gratitude.
Aki finally joins the group with his entourage, looking well rested and well groomed, and casts confused glances towards the pair of strange sylvari huddling behind the corner.
Clockk comes back just as Aki does, complaining loudly. “That miserable, narcissistic windbag! He saddles us with a load of paper-pushers to baby sit!? It’s irresponsible, I tell you!”
Gixx no doubt had similar things to say about Clockk.
Brokk addresses Clockk. "I can assure you sir, we are no paper-pushers. Each and every one of my team is fully combat capable and have been on two Elder Dra... err... belligerent reptilian... campaigns as well a slew of other missions against dredge, Flame Legion, etcetera etcetera. You need not concern yourselves with our safety, nor shall we get in your way. Our mission is to escort and catalogue, recover where necessary and assist where needed".
"Oh great... a kid..." The female Charr can be heard mumbling as she looks over at Aki.
“Oh fantastic, a Charr!” Clockk snaps back. “Because we obviously need a flea-bitten hairball coming along with us more than we need a promising young student of Arcane magics!”
"What you say there pip-squeak? Wanna come say that to my face"? The Charr snarls towards Clockk, but the Norn places a hand on her shoulder.
"Easy there Khalla... try not to make enemies on day one this time."
Clockk huffs at the Charr, turning his head back to Brokk, " If you're so capable of handling yourselves then why are you even coming with us!?" he asks, throwing his arms up in exasperation.
"Are we going to be arguing all the way to Ebonhawke?" Gulmont sighs.
The Magister addresses Gulmont this time, irritated at Clockk's outburst. "Steward Gixx felt that due to your current low numbers... and that we have similar objectives... that a teaming up or sorts was in order. If you're adamant about us not coming along I'll inform Gixx and we'll make our own way".
"Aww... but boss...." The Sylvari says.
“All depends how flexible you feel like being when it comes to laws,” Gulmont shrugs. “The Seraph aren’t exactly going to let us through the gate to the Crystal Desert. They’ve posted guards on the gate, so we’re going to have to…” He trails off, picking his words. “Bypass them. And even then, once we get to the Crystal Desert, we’ll be in Joko’s kingdom. I have no idea what laws he’s set up, but I think it’s safe to say we’ll be breaking them.”
"What?!" yelps Aki. "We'll be sneaking by the Seraph? No one told me about that!"
"I was under the impression it was the Vanguard who was in command of that particular city." The Magister says.
"Fallen Angels, really," Gulmont explains. "But hey, what they don't know won't hurt 'em, right?"
Aki folds his arms defiantly. "I didn't sign up for law-breaking. There has to be another way."
Gulmont turns to Aki, giving him a smile, "We're only climbing up a mountain and hopping across the border. It’s not hurting anyone, and they’ll never even know we were there.”
"I'm with the kiddo on this one." The Norn woman says, similarly folding her arms. Being decked out in the full Priory plate it makes a noise.
"And she claims to be from Lion's Arch..." The Charr grumbles.
Aki's cheeks gain a hint of colour as the Norn agrees with him, clearing his throat awkwardly.
“We could go by boat or by air, but unless you lot have a ship, we’re not getting there that way,” Gulmont says, shrugging and holding out his palms innocently. “Besides, the Queen only put the guards there to keep out the Branded and Awakened and whatever else the Crystal Desert has. They just don’t like opening the gates in case something gets through. They’re not really laws, just unspoken rules.”
"Weeelll....." the human woman pipes up. "We... sort of... have a ship... it's not ours but it belongs to a friend..."
"You think he'd give us a lift? He's still annoyed about that incident with the frying pan." Brokk answers.
"Wasn't... my... fault." The Charr complains.
"We're also meeting someone in Ebonhawke," Gulmont adds quickly.
"You just don't want to get air or sea sick again," Clockk grumbles.
"It's an airship. I think it's currently docked at Trinity". The human says.
"Don't make me go on a blasted airship," Gulmont sobbs. "Clockk crashed the last one we were on."
"I did not crash it, the jungle did!" Clockk protests.
"Offer's there... assuming we're allowed to tag along". Brokk says, clasping his hands behind his back.
Gulmont shakes his head, “I’m walking. We’ll handle the guards at the gate when we get there. Who knows, with all the refugees they might even have opened it by now.”
Clockk face palms. “This fool will get into know end of trouble if I’m not there to guide him in the right direction, so as much as I’d rather use your airship, I’m following him.”
Argyle steps up to the others, his own choice made.
Aki doesn't seem pleased, but he is set on following Clockk.
Argyle looks to Vervain.
Argyle shrugs in return, shoulders creaking.
"How about I message Jurgan to meet us near Ebonhawke? Then, anyone who wants to come can... well, come". The human suggests.
"Yeah, but what would Ebonhawke, or better yet, the Charr say with an airship hovering around without permission? The Norn says.
"Dude... seriously..." The Charr says. "The man's a pirate".
"Ex-pirate". Brokk corrects.
"If he were to meet us in Ebonhawke we'd already be there," Gulmont points out. "There's not much point." He looks up at the sky. "And we're wasting daylight."
"Probably be easier to go from Trinity anyway". The Sylvari shrugs.
Brokk sighs. "Well, it seems we won't be joining you then. I'm not sure about going up against the Vanguard, or Seraph or just about anyone else in the area, and most of my team seem to concur with me there. Ah well. Perhaps we'll meet up again once we're all in the desert, yes?"
“Gixx was saying something about some dwarven ruins up in the highlands,” Clockk says, sniffing indignantly. “I wasn’t really paying attention, but you may want to look there, when you get there.”
“Dwarven?! Really"? The Norn asks Clockk.
"Where"? Demands the Charr.
“The desert highlands!” Clockk repeats, rolling his eyes. “Honestly, if you’d listen for five minutes without interrupting you might learn something. Go ask Gixx if you really want to know. It’s something that the dwarves, Ogden and Rhoban, have been looking into.”
"Right... I'm tearing his head off." Khalla starts towards Clockk but is held back by the Norn and the Sylvari.
“Brutish primitive,” Clockk sneers.
“And that’s our queue to get the heck out of dodge,” Gulmont announces, picking Clockk up by his tufted of hair and legging it down the stairs, to the winding path that leads to the Priory Bridge.
“Unhand me, you degenerate!” Clockk screams, throwing punches and kicks in Gulmont’s grasp. “You reprobate! You toothless Neanderthal! Have some respect for your betters! Put me down this instant!”
Argyle watches the two of them fade from view, then waves stiffly, forming a portal under Aki, Kharn, Vervain and himself before disappearing through it.