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Gulmont's Character stories. Comments welcome.

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Gulmont's Backstory. Part one

The old farm house creaked in the night as a young Gulmont creped to the kitchen. There had been unfamiliar voices coming from there, which was strange because, apart from his mother and father, Gulmont had never known anyone to come out to the old farm house in the middle of nowhere. It was about a three month journey here from Divinity’s Reach, and another three months back. Gulmont’s family only made the trip in desperate situations, when there had a bad harvest or something like that, and the trip had only been made twice in Gulmont’s short life time, so he was interested to find out who would have come here in the dead of night when he was supposed to be tucked up, sleeping in his bed.
Gulmont knelt against the kitchen door, gingerly putting his eye to the key hole. Through it he saw his mother at the sink, a petite woman with long, curly blond hair that framed her beautiful face and flowed down her back in waves of golden locks. She was nervously cleaning the already spotless dishes, taking uneasy glances, with her startling green eyes, at the kitchen table where two men sat. One was his father, an intimidating man with dark hair and chiselled features, look close enough though and you could see his kind, blue eyes, which were currently fixed on the man sitting across from him, who, to Gulmont surprise, was almost identical to his father, apart from a few small distinctions. The man was currently squirming under his father’s scrutinising gaze, rubbing his hands anxiously.
“We’re in a bad way Aaron,” the man who was not his father was saying, not meeting his father’s eyes as he spoke, “we don’t think grandfather has a lot of time left, and with him gone and no true heir to the family name, our house will fall into disrepute.”
“What’s this got to do with me?” his father replied, not taking his eyes of the man, “I wiped my hands clean of our family long ago.”
The man sighed in frustration, “please brother, see sense, without you our whole lineage will be throw to the wayside, with no one to care but us.”
Aaron shook his head, a small, ironic smile on his lips, “no brother, there will be no one to care but you, I refuse to have anything to do with our family anymore, besides, they don’t need me, they have you.”
The man chuckles bitterly, “I’m no good I’m afraid brother, you are the eldest, you are the true heir.”
“only by a few minutes,” Aaron replied “a few minutes won’t matter to them if things are as bad as you say” Aaron said, getting up from the table to put a comforting arm around his wife, “besides, who are you here to bring back, me or us?” he continued, giving Gulmont’s mother a comforting hug.
The man looked away, hanging his head in shame.
Aaron nodded, “that’s what I thought,” he pointed out the door with a wave of his hand, “I’d like you to leave now.”
The man sighed, getting up from his seat and heading for the door.
Figuring there was nothing more to see, Gulmont got up off the floor, intending to go back to his nice, warm bed. A floor board creaked as he put his weight on it; he stood stock still, hoping no one heard it.
“What was that?” the man’s voice from the kitchen said.
“It was nothing, just your imagination I’m sure,” Gulmont’s fathers voice sounded strained, almost panicked.
There was the sound of footsteps and a small scuffle before the kitchen door flew open, framing Gulmont in the kitchen lamplight. The man looked down at him, his hair slightly out of place and eyes wide in astonishment. Gulmont’s parents were huddled together behind him, his mother clutching his father for support.
The man’s face twisted into a cruel smile, “you never were a very good liar brother,” he said turning and heading for the door.
Gulmont’s father’s eyes followed the man as he left the house, “Mary, take the boy back to bed.”
“What about you?” she asked her voice laced with concern.
He gave them both a kind, reassuring smile “I’ll be fine,” he said, “I just need to make sure of something.”
“but he’s leaving isn’t he?” Mary asked.
Aaron sighed in exasperation, “my brother didn’t come here to night to get me to come back. He came to make sure I didn’t. He’s manipulative like that,” turning to his son he said “get to bed Gul, you need your rest, we’ll go hunting in the morning, how does that sound?”
Gulmont nodded eagerly before being lead off the bed by his mother.
In his bed room, his mother lay Gulmont down on his bed, tucking him into the covers and stroking his hair while singing to him softly.
“Mummy, who was that man?” Gulmont asked.
His mother smiled kindly, shaking her head, “no one you need to be concerned about little one, he’s gone now.”
“Okay mummy,” Gulmont agreed, settling in to sleep with the sound of his mother’s sweet singing to sooth him.
Her singing was cut short by his fathers strangled scream coming from outside. What followed was a deathly silence before the sound of a large group of men, laughing and gearing, shouting out foul language.
Gulmont’s mother, a panicked expression on her face got Gulmont out of bed again and stuffed him in his small wardrobe saying “stay in here until I tell you it’s safe, and not a sound out of you, understand?” Gulmont nodded his understanding and his mother closed the wardrobe door. Gulmont sunk down the wardrobes’ back, putting his eye against the key hole just in time to see a group of badly dressed men barge through the bedroom door.
They were evil looking men, some badly scarred by blade and burns, all smelling heavily of intoxication.
“Well well well, what ‘ave we ‘ere,” their leader slurred, staggering over to his mother and grabbing his mother’s face in one grubby hand, “quite the pretty on ain’t ya?”
Mary gathered up her courage and spat in the man’s face. The man closed his eyes as the spittle his him square in the eye. The man put a hand to his face, wiping his hand down the entire length of his ugly mug before glaring at Mary and drawing his hand back, back handing her across the face, sending her sprawling to the bed. Gulmont almost cried out, but stopped himself when he remembered his mother’s words.
“You know lass,” said the man who was staring cruelly down at her, “I’m a nice guy, so I’m going to forgive you for that, on one condition,” he put his dirty boot up on the bed and leaned in close to her as he spoke, “tell me where the boy is.”
Mary looked defiantly up at the man and seeing an opportunity, punched the man in the genitals. The man swore loudly and fell to the floor, grabbing his privates and curling up into a ball. Two of the other men grabbed the woman, holding her down until their boss had regained his composure.
“Right boys,” the ugly leader said once he had righted himself, “I’m going to look around for the brat, while I do that why don’t you boys,” he paused mid-sentence to give Mary a cruel grin, “entertain, this wench.”
The men chuckled and unbuckled their belts as the leader left the room, what followed was a series of strange movements Gulmont didn’t understand while listening to his mother’s muffled cries of protest.
It was over by the time the leader came back.
“want a turn boss?” one of the men asked, but the leader shook his head and walked over to the woman, getting out a small dagger and slitting her throat the a spray of crimson.
The leader looked the men over before speaking, “ I can’t find the brat anywhere, but we’ll soon see to that,” he chuckled and waved his hand at his men, “come on, we’ll have to report this to “his highness,”” he spat and the men laughed at their leaders insult of their employer.
A long while after the men had filed out of the room and everything had fallen silent, Gulmont crawled out of the wardrobe. He didn’t know how long he stood there, staring at his mother’s corpse, clothes bloodied and dishevelled, but it was long enough for the flames to start to lick at the bedroom door, the smoke making his breathing laboured.
He numbly clambered out of his bedroom window and began to just walk. He passed his father’s body on the way, his stomach split open and his insides splattering the ground, but Gulmont didn’t really care, his mind had long since left him at that point.
And in this way he walked on, into the dense canopy of the forest, leaving the ashes of his childhood behind him.

Years later

Savatry filled her lungs with the clear air of the forest, basking in the smell of recant rain fall. She was a tall, slender, second born Sylvari, with a startling blue colouring and inquisitive, dark red eyes. She looked around, taking in the forest and all its magnificence.
The damp leaves on the forest trees let go of small droplets of water, which fell slowly to the forest floor to moisten the ground. Bird song filled the air and several insects flitted from flower to flower, taking in pollen to take home to their little nests with them.
The Sylvari sighed contentedly as she took all of this in, turning to her companions to smile at them. the small group of wardens had been stationed in the area for a little over a week now, having received strange reports of unnatural noises and the disappearance of a some of the animals, but so far, they hadn’t seen hide nor hair of anything that might had been considered out of the ordinary.

Aldavon, an impatient Sylvari with a tendency to overthink things and get frustrated with himself as a result, grunted angrily, “we’ve been out here for ages and nothing’s happened, I think we should give up and just go home, there’s clearly nothing here to see or we would have found it by now.”
Savatry put a calming hand on his shoulder and nodded, “you may be right, we’ll finish up our patrol here and start to head back.”
Aldavon took a deep breath and nodded, continuing on eagerly.
As they began to enter the denser part of the forest, Savatry became increasing aware of the presence of something following them. The felling was subtly, but it was there. She held her hand up for the rest of the party to stop and crouched down low so as to make herself a harder target to hit. The others followed her example.
The group crept along silently, ever alert of ant danger that might present its self. It wasn’t long before whatever it was let its self be known by way of a shuffling in some nearby shrubbery. Savatry turned towards the foliage cautiously. All too cautiously it seems as in a flash of speed something jumped out at her and leaped on her chest, flattening her to the ground. Within moments the wardens had their weapons trained on the creature, ready to make the kill and save their sister.
“No don’t!” Savatry yelled out suddenly, causing the others to take pause.
The creature grabbed hold of Savatry’s breast plate, leaning in close
“Do you know of the light?” it asked, its voice hoarse, like it was not used to being used. The others gasped as they heard the creature speak, but Savatry merely smiled kindly, taking a betted look at the creature.
It was human, she could see that now. Its dark, straggly hair was greasy and unwashed. It covered most of his face which was dirty any stained with blood, especially around its mouth, probably from its last meal, whatever that had been. Its eyes were wild, its pupils pinpricks in the whites of its eyes. They danced around its eye sockets, blurred and unfocused, trying to take in everything at once. Its features were gaunt and shallow, it clearly hadn’t had a good meal in a while, and judging by its fingernails, what it had eaten, it had killed with its bare hands. it had a matted, unkempt beard that was straggly and had pieces of its last meal still in it. Its breath smelt of rotting meat combined with the fact that it clearly hadn’t wash in a while was quite the over powering stench.

“Do you know of the light?” it repeated, “do you see how it dances its dance in the cold noon light, and tells a tale that grants you pale insight?”
Aldavon spoke up, a hint of fear in his voice, “what’s it saying? It’s complete gibberish.”
“I’m not sure,” Savatry replied, her voice strange, as if under some sort of spell.
The human tilted its head to one side and look into the distance, even though there was nothing there to see. “Yes I told them,” it said angrily, to who, know one knew, “I spoke the words in the way they are to be said, but did not get the response.” It turned its head to the other side, as if now speaking to someone else, “then they are not the ones? No they can’t be, if they were they would have given the response.” The human got off of Savatry and she slowly got to her feet so as not to startle the deranged human, a look of wonder on her face. The human started to back away, its posture hunched over, its knuckles almost dragging on the floor. The Sylvari began to relax when they saw the human retreating, but to everyone’s surprise Savatry called out to it. The human paused and eyed her curiously.
“I saw you in my dream,” she said in a hushed whisper.
The human gave her a twisted, insane grin. “It has given the response,” it said simply, “it will follow?”
Savatry nodded and took a step towards him. Aldavon quickly grabbed her hand in a panic to stop her.
“What are you doing? You can’t follow that thing,” he said, his voice raising an octave.
“I must,” she responded, “it’s like I am drawn to him; I think he is my Wyld Hunt.”
Aldavon’s face dropped, now not trying to mask his fear, “you are sure?” he asked.
Savatry nodded before pulling him in for a hug, “worry not, all will be well.”
Adavon reluctantly uncoiled himself from the hug and watched as the two disappeared into the trees.

A few hours passed as Savatry followed the human, she tried to engage him in conversation a number of times, but all he ever did was mutter incomprehensibly to the disembodied voices in his degraded mind.
They eventually came to a large, grassy clearing in the middle of the forest. Savatry gasped as she saw what lay in the centre of the clearing. A in light of incredible brightness emanated from an unknown source. It whispered barley audible whispers of untold secrets and prophesies, now long forgotten.
“Come come,” the mad man said, beckoning to the Sylvari, “commune with the light, and embrace it!”
Unsure, Savatry stepped forward, walking towards the light. As she drew closer the whispers grew louder, until they were almost unbearable. Both the mad man and Sylvari covered their ears in pain before everything went black and both fell into unconsciousness.

Gulmont awoke, rubbing his face to get the sleep from his eyes, waiting for the voices to start, but they never came. He sat in the clearing for a long time waiting for them to start hurling insults at him, telling him how everything was his fault again, but they never came. He felt like crying. For So long he had spent with the voices, so that he had lost track of time, and now they were just gone? It seemed like a dream. It was then that he heard it, the soft weeping of a woman. He looked around, trying to find the source, to on avail. He walked over to the light, his only comfort in the dark times he had spent with the voices, thinking that maybe it had come from there, only to find a strange wooden bow on the ground. He picked it up curiously, marvelling in the intricacy of its design, the small Sylvari looking thing carved into it. It was then that the bow spoke in a voice full of remorse, “what have you done to me?”
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Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP · Last edited Feb 24, 15
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Gulmont's Backstory. Part two

Gulmont spent a long while in the clearing not listening to the bow. He didn’t know why the voices had suddenly become one, and one coming out of an inanimate object for that matter, but he didn’t care. He refused to listen to the pleas for mercy it was throwing at him, preferring instead to curl himself up into a ball with his hands over his ears an hum a warped, tuneless song that he was making up as he went along. Eventually the bow stopped talking and waited. It was along while before Gulmont glanced up to look at it from across the clearing where he had dropped it, surprised that it had spoken in the first place.
He causally crawled his way over to the bow, making as little sound as possible, and sat in front it. He could feel that it was watching his every move, scrutinizing his every decision. He opened his mouth to speak, but quickly closed it again, like a fish underwater.
It seemed like it was an age, with the two just looking at each other before he got up the courage to ask it what he had been wanting to. “what are you?” he said in a quiet voice.
“I’m a Sylvari,” the bow said, “my name is Savatry.”
Gulmont looked very confused, “but you are a bow, before you were a leaf person and now you are not.”
“I don’t know,” Savatry replied, realising from his speech patterns how childlike Gulmont was, “could you tell me?”
Gulmont shook his head, changing topic, ”where have they gone?”
Savatry perked an eyebrow, “who?”
“the people who weren’t, they were here and now they are not,” he rubbed his face in frustration, finding it difficult to form sentences without the help of his inner voices, “they spoke and now they do not, I can’t hear them,” he seemed worried and relived at the same time, “it’s quiet.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Savatry said, shaking her head.
The two of them spent days talking, Gulmont’s grasp of language becoming stronger with each passing second.
Savatry found that in her new, strange form she needed very little sustenance, water sustained her quite well. Gulmont however needed food regularly, and he couldn’t always get it, only using his bare hands to hunt, the animals almost always got away and he spent many a dark night going hungry.
The two of them were very lost, having left Aldavon and the other wardens far away, they had no means to find their way back to civilisation, not that Gulmont had ever been amongst other people.
Most nights they slept in trees, high up the forest canopy, far away from possible predators, where Gulmont felt safest.
They went back to the clearing with the light many times, that being about the only place they could find, to try and reverse whatever it had done to Savatry, but to no avail. All they got were quiet, nonsensical whisperings that Savatry thought had worsened Gulmonts already addled mind.
Over time however, she began to see a distinct improvement in him. No more would he look around himself which wild, unfocused eyes, expecting something to come out at him from the shadows, he had begun to rely on Savatry to tell him of dangers that he had not seen. Although he was ever vigilant and he never let his guard down, he had become calmer.
He still spoke in riddles every now and again, usually during the heat of battle with some fierce animal, where he was panicked and had little control over his primitive instincts. But Savatry was always there to calm him down, get him to think rationally and bring him back to himself.
Gulmont had taken to carrying Savatry around on his back, but he never used her as a weapon. He had come to care for her greatly, and was very rarely without her. He found comfort in her soft, kind voice.
One of the only things Savatry had asked of him however was that he wash more frequently, so whenever they found a stream or river, Gulmont would jump in, cleansing himself of any blood and dirt his body had managed to pick up. He had even fashioned himself a razor out of a stone he had picked up and sharpened. He was now clean shaven and reasonably presentable a lot of the time, as presentable as someone who was more or less insane and spent most of his time eating with his hands in a forest was at any rate.
It was on one fairly uneventful day, while they were trying to find their way back to the clearing to maybe find a way to turn Savatry back for what may have been the hundredth time, that they, quite literally, stumbled upon a road. Gulmont had been walking along when he had lost his footing and tripped, falling out of the forest and landing flat on his face on the muddy track. After a moment of laughter, both of relief and Gulmonts fall, Savatry suggested that they follow the track and see where it lead.

The track led to a road, and the road led to a small Sylvari settlement, the pod like houses were huddled together in a small circle. Gulmont kept to the outskirts of the settlement, hiding in the tall grass that surrounded it like a wild animal. He had never been this close to so many people before, let alone people not from his own race. They were strange and unnatural to him. He kept Savatry close to his chest for comfort, like a child clutching at a teddy bear.
“What is all this?” Gulmont asked, pointing at the houses.
Savatry blinked at him, a bit confused before she grasped what he was asking, “it’s a small settlement, "it’s a place where people live,” she answered.
Gulmont looked at the settlement with wide eyes full of a mixture of wonder and fear. Savatry hummed to him comfortingly, encouraging him to press on.
Full of trepidation, Gulmont emerged from the grass, cautiously approaching the settlement. Much to his surprise and a little to Savatry’s, the Sylvari were content to go about their business, gathering crops and taking care of the nature that surrounded them. Gulmont passed through the settlement like a ghost, hardly being seen.
The farther they got from the settlement, the more confident Gulmont became. Still determined to find a way to turn Savatry back to normal, Savatry suggested seeking an audience with the pale tree, the mother of the Sylvari race. And so they gradually made their way to the grove, the Sylvari capital Savatry more or less knew the way from the settlement, so they followed the road, not on the road, as Gulmont was not comfortable about meeting travellers, but close to it.
It didn’t take long for the huge tree to come into view, the pale tree, at the centre of the grove to come into view. It majestically towered above everything, its beauty only over shadowed by the sun behind it that spun its rays of light through its leaves, casting mystical shapes and colours on the surrounding area. So high was the tree that it reached through the clouds, touching the very havens themselves and disappearing in the clouds over head. Gulmont stared up in awe, having never seen something so spectacular. Savatry beamed with pride as she looked upon the mother of her race, but she stayed silent, feeling the moment needed no words. As they got closer they began to see more and more Sylvari, and they became more and more noticed, attracting the odd glance in their direction. Gulmont kept his head down and kept moving, avoiding eye contact with everyone.
When they entered the grove itself, everyone was looking at them, the saplings, the youngest of the Sylvari, not even bothering to make it seem less obvious that they were staring.
Gulmont tried to attract as little attention as possible as he made his way to the pods in the centre of the grove with small leaf like propellers growing out of the top of them that ascended into the uppermost heights of the tree. As soon as he got there however he felt a hand on his back and before he could retaliate out of pure primal fear he was whirled around to face the male and punched square in the face. The force of the punch sent Gulmont sprawling to the ground where he grabbed by his ragged collar and haled into the air where he was dangled face to face with Aldavon.
His face was a mixture of rage and panic, “where is she?” he snarled, spiting at him through gritted teeth.
Gulmont’s defence mechanism was kicked into overdrive; he easily broke Aldavon’s hold on him and kicked him to the ground. He then griped Aldavon’s neck and began to throttle him. Gulmont’s eyes were wild, showing how out of control and unpredictable he was, his face contorted into a mask of unbridled fury. A crowd of anxious Sylvari had begun to gather around them, blocking the way for any Wardens who tried to get through to them. Aldavon’s eyes were wide with defiance, clawing at Gulmont’s hands with all his might. It was Savatry’s soothing words that brought him back to his senses, he instantly let go of Aldavon’s throat and got another punch in the face in return.
“Stop it Aldavon,” Savatry snapped, making Aldavon look around in confusion to see where the voice had come from, “are you alright Gulmont?” she asked, paying no attention to Aldavon’s bafflement.
Aldavon’s eyes narrowed on the bow, locating the source of the voice. He looked from the bow to Gulmont aghast, backing himself away from Gulmont slightly to gather his thoughts, “what have you done to her you fiend?”
Gulmont opened and closed his mouth a few times, unsure of how to get the words out, still not used to talking and unsure of what to tell him even if he could.
Savatry hummed sympathetically to Gulmont, answering for him, “he didn’t do anything Aldavon, and we don’t know how this happened, we came to ask the pale tree.”
Aldavon looked at the two of them suspiciously before sighing and stepping aside, leading the way to the pale tree.

Gulmont had not enjoyed the trip up to the tree, climbing up to it he could have handled, but there was something about having no control of how you get somewhere and leaving it all in the hands, or in this case leaves, of something else that made him feel uneasy. Savatry and Aldavon had no such trouble of course, having complete faith in the contraption. They stood around quite contentedly, not in Savatry’s case as she was being held by Gulmont, quietly humming to themselves while Gulmont was huddled up in the floor with his eyes closed.
When they reached the top Gulmont scurried out as fast as he could, Aldavon closely behind him, strolling out at a leisurely pace.
Gulmont gasped as he laid his eyes apron the avatar of the tree, her translucent petals a myriad of greens, yellows and blues glistening in the light. She smiled kindly at Gulmont who stared up at her wide eyed. Next to the avatar stood a tall female Sylvari who’s leave colour was a deep purple, her eyes a mystical blue with a eerie green glow coming from her body. She looked Gulmont over impassively, barley making a movement.
Aldavon smirked down at Gulmont and calmly walked towards her, a loving expression on his face, “greetings to you mother, how fair you?” he asked, knowing full well that she was fine and asking anyway.
“Greetings my child,” she answered in her strange, velvety voice that seemed to resonate within every part of Gulmont. The tree then turned to Gulmont, her eyes old and filled with the wisdom of the ages. “And you child of man, do you come seeking my council like so many others?” she asked him, causing him to flinch at the word child. If he was one thing, it was not a child, the voices had called him that far too often, so much so that he saw the word as an insult, but he ignored it for the moment, allowing Savatry to speak for him.
“greetings mother,” she said, not surprised when the Pale Tree didn’t even bat an eye lid at her current form, much to Aldavon’s annoyance, though he didn’t show it “we have come to ask you why it is that I have been reduced to my current form and how to return to what I once was?”
The Pale Tree smiled down at her, her radiant beauty almost distracting Gulmont from the sorrowful look in her eyes, “I’m afraid for once I have no answer to your question, the mists of time have become clouded to me of late, as for how to return to how you once were, I believe that if you stay with this child,” she said indicating to Gulmont, causing him to flinch at the word child again, “you will together find a way.”
Aldavon looked at his mother astonished, “mother, you can’t really expect her to stay with this barbarian?” he cried, not caring what Gulmont thought of the insult, “surly she would be better off with one of us, and she would be safer at least?”
The avatar shook her head, the translucent leaves of her hair brushing from side to side with the motion of her head, “Savatry’s destiny has been preordained in the dream, this much I have seen, to go against the dream would be nothing but folly,” the avatar then looked down at Gulmont again, “this child is damaged,” Gulmont flinched again, “but not broken, he can be healed, made whole again, he just needs the love and patients that any child needs.”
And that was one child remark to many for Gulmont, his control snapped and he went toppling over the edge of his insanity, yelling out a string of incomprehensible words.
Aldavon and the purple Sylvari went to grab him, but before they could Gulmont screamed out, “you overgrown wood worm farm,” and bent down to pick up a nearby snail and throw it at The Tree. Of course the snail passed right throw the avatar, bouncing off the tree behind the avatar and rolling to the ground.
Gulmont was dragged out of the Pale Tree’s council chamber kicking and screaming, struggling all the way as he was dragged out of the Grove. The rage in Aldavon’s face was prevalent while the purple Sylvari remained expressionless.

Gulmont and Savatry sat outside the entrance to the Grove. Aldavon had tried to persuade Savatry to come with him again, but she had refused and Aldavon had left in a huff. The purple Sylvari had stayed behind, watching them quietly as the two of them sat. Gulmont was a blank slate. Drained of energy he did not move his eyes like an empty void.
The Sylvari approached them, the expressionless face suddenly turning into a cold stare. Other Sylvari appeared, seemingly from nowhere, their colouring dark and foreboding.
Gulmont snapped out of his brooding just in time to have something wet and foul smelling cover his mouth and nose, causing him to cough and splutter momentarily before passing out completely.
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Gulmont's Backstory. Part Three

Consciousness returned to Gulmont in various stages, slowly fading in like the tide as it swallows the beach. First there came sound, the crackling of water as in crashes onto rock, the whistling of the wind as it echoed in the dark depths of wherever he was, the gentle drip dripping of stalactites as they scattered the celling. Then came small, the air was damp and mouldy, yet the water made it seem fresh and comforting. Sight soon followed, more slowly than the others, it was blurred and faded in and out, showing him outlines of three people and the cave that he was in, its entrance concealed from the outside by a waterfall.

He tried to rub his eyes to maybe clear his vision a bit more, only to find that his hands were bound above him by vines coming from the celling that bit into his wrists, cutting into him sharply whenever he tried to move.

The cold wind wrapped around his skin, making him realise that for some reason no longer had the rag over the upper half of his body that he called a shirt.

The people who he could now see were Sylvari, the purple female being one of them, the other two, a dark skinned female and a green skinned male were talking to one another, Savatry was being held in the dark skinned ones hands, looking uncomfortable as she was heavily scrutinized by the three of them. She squirmed as she tried to scramble out of their grip, to no avail.

Gulmont grunted as the vines scrapped into his flesh as he tried to get to her, he felt groggy and couldn’t find his voice and wasn’t even sure of what was going on or of the words to link together to ask. His grunting drew the attention of the Sylvari, a cruel grin spreading across each of their faces as they cast their eyes upon him.

The dark skinned one handed Savatry over to the male one as she stepped towards him, her expression full of a dark gleefulness. She danced over to a wall bracket that they had set up on the cave wall; it was adorned with a lot of strange looking implements that Gulmont had never seen before. She picked up a long, tendril of a vine that was covered in sharp looking thorns from the rack and brought it over to him, standing on her tip toes and leaning in close so that their noses were almost touching. She gave him a kind smile, but he found the smile to be very unsettling, as if it was insincere.

She spoke to him in a silky voice, smooth and comforting, but with a hard undercurrent that was almost unnoticeable. “Tell me kind sir,” she said to him, “how did our sister become this way? We would very much like to know.”

Gulmont opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out, not that he knew how to answer even if he could.

A small frown came across the sylvari’s face when she received no reply, but it lasted very briefly, immediately turning back to the pleasant smile. “Please sir, won’t you tell us?”

Gulmont opened his mouth to speak again but before he could say anything, not that he was sure he could, Savatry screened desperately at him, “don’t tell them anything Gul.”

“shut up!” the male snarled at her, he then turned to the dark skinned female, “we’re not going to get anything out of them this way, beat the information out of him sister and soon we’ll be able to turn any who oppose us into implements that we can turn against their allies,” he gently stroked Savatry who cringed at the touch, “we’ll turn them into living weapons so that they may strike down their own people, a most useful tool wouldn’t you agree dearest?” Savatry squirmed, trying to get away from him, but her efforts were futile.

The dark skinned sylvari’s smile grew wider as she returned her gaze to Gulmont, who was still unsure as to what was going on, his head foggy and unclear.

“Tell us,” she said again before drawing the thorny tendril back and bringing it down on his exposed skin of his chest in one swift and savage movement.

The thorns ripped into his skin, tearing away at it and causing red marks to appear on his skin, along with droplets of dark blood where the thorns has cut away at the skin. Gulmont screamed wordlessly and arched his stomach away from the blow almost drowning out the cracking sound of the tendril on his naked flesh. He slumped down, the vines around his hands the only things keeping him upright. He breathed heavily, his vision fading in and out of blackness,

“No?” the Sylvari said then drew the tendril back again, “tell us,” she said again as she brought the tendril down on him again. He screamed again, big red welts starting to appear on his skin, but still he could say nothing. The Sylvari repeated the proses again and again, each time with the same result. On the fifth blow Gulmont passed out, only to be reawakened by cold water thrown in his face and the proses started anew, with much the same results.

Gulmont didn’t know for how long this went on for, the only way he could distinguish time was by his screams that slowly got quieter and Savatry’s ever increasing sobs.

He didn’t know when it was, but at some point he started to block out the pain and much of everything else, only concentrating in the vines that held his hands in place. Every time the tendril hit him his body would shake violently, slowly, bit by bit, loosening the vines, but it didn’t stop them from biting into his skin either, soon, not only did he have blood and welts over his chest, but on his hands and wrists as well.

Every now and then the Sylvari stopped their torcher to rest and switch over Savatry, the cruel tendril passing from hand to hand, in that time Gulmont would not rest, he would work as quietly as he could on the vines, even using his fingernails to try and cut through them, crating small scratches on his fingers.

Time seemed to slip away from him with no sun or moon in the cave to tell what time of day it was. The only thing he could go by was when the Sylvari switched. But he knew his moment was coming, the vines were nearly broken.



The purple Sylvari stepped towards him; she looked tired and worn, as did the others, her crown petals hanging listlessly at odd angles. Gulmont mealy looked at her, his eyes reflecting the hollow shell the rest of him had become.

Asked him the questions, he did not reply, the same formula just a different day. She drew the tendril back and unleashed it upon him. The tendril cracked in mid-air and brandished itself on his skin. His body convulsed in pain, his fingers scratching away at the vine that held him. The vine that broke. Gulmont collapsed to the floor, not being able to hold his own weight up. The Sylvari gasped, not quite registering what happened, their faces projecting their confusion.

Seeing the looks on their faces Gulmont’s fractured mind came back to him in a burst of adrenalin. He leaped forward, jumping at the purple Sylvari, who in her surprise, lost her balance and found Gulmont, crouching crab like, over her. Without any hesitation and seeing no better opportunity, Gulmont bit into her neck, ripping her throat away in one swift shake of his head, his face becoming plastered in her green, glowing blood. She gurgled and twitched, spitting out a large amount of blood before she died, getting out one last strangled, blood filled breath.

The other two Sylvari blinked once, not fully comprehending what had just happened, before the male, in a fit of blind rage, tears streaming from his eyes, rushed Gulmont, dropping Savatry as he did so. The male threw a clumsy punch the Sylvari’s fist hitting Gulmont square on the jaw, but by this point, Gulmont cared little for the pain, being driven on nothing but primal instinct. He took the punch with not even a flinch, returning the punch with one of his own that sent the male sprawling to the cave floor.

Gulmont then felt a sharp, searing pain pass over his back as the dark-skinned female drew her sword and slashed Gulmont across the back from shoulder to hip, his warm blood splattering her. Gulmont turned on her with a savage howl. With a speed that he had never had before he grabbed at the females arm, bending it with all his strength until she dropped the sword with a gasp of pain and her arm broke at the elbow, now bending at an unnatural angle. She stumbled away from him, giving Gulmont enough time to pick up the sword and lunge forward with it, driving her through with the blade, ending her life. He pulled the blade out of her in one swift motion, hearing a noise behind him; he clumsily swung the blade around, not aiming for anything. The male, who was trying to sneak up behind him widened his eyes as the blade came hurtling towards him, and before he could do anything about it, the blade lodged itself in his neck. He fell to the ground, Gulmont and the sword on top of him. Gulmont jerked the sword back, the blade coming away with the sound a saw would make as it cut through wood. He brought the blade back down on the male’s neck, still not severing the head from the body. The male had gone into a state of shock and lay helpless, as Gulmont hacked his head from his body, losing consciousness as he brought the blade out again. It took another three attempts before the head was completely off.

Gulmont knelt over the course, covered in the blood of his tormentors, breathing heavily, the burst of adrenalin wearing off. He slowly got to his feet, swaying slightly from exhaustion. He walked over to Savatry, who was still where the male had dropped her, and collapsed down next to her, drawing her into his blood covered chest, cradling her gently in his arms as she sobbed quietly.

“Did they hurt you?” he asked, not really sure if he wanted an answer.

Savatry shook her little wooden head, shaking with each sob, “not as much as you.”

Gulmont sighed in relief, letting the last of the energy escape his body, “this is a bad place, we can’t stay here.” And with that he carefully got to his feet, his head swimming in a haze of exhaustion, he headed for the cave entrance, blood dripping from the multiple wounds that had been inflicted upon him.

He was grateful for the cascade of water from the waterfall that hit him on the way out, cleansing most of the blood from him except from the blood that still seeped from the open wounds. He kept walking straight as he left the cave, and then he was flying, no ground above or below him, he felt as light as a feather. He blinked a few times, trying to proses what was happening in his delirious state. Savatry was shouting something at him, and he wasn’t flying, he was falling. He had missed the narrow path that wound around a cliff edge, hiding the cave behind the waterfall that ran down it, and instead he had walked right off the cliff, tumbling into the river below. He lost conscious before he even hit the water.



Gulmont felt warm and content, he didn’t know why, maybe he was dead? Then a sharp pain passed through his body, if he was dead he wouldn’t have felt that. He opened his eyes and grabbed at his chest, even though his back was also screaming out in protest. To his surprise he found that he was covered in white rags that had been wrapped around his body, some sort of bandage. Confused, he looked around at his surroundings. He was in a small, cosy looking stone room, with a thatched roof and dirt floor that had a bit of hay on it and a dirty rug.

He was laying on a bed with a straw mattress, a blanket caringly put over him. Next to the bed was a small, wooden bedside table, a lantern placed purposefully on top of it. Where was he? How had he gotten here? Then a far more pressing question came to mind. Where was Savatry?

At that moment a large, jolly looking man with dark, greying hair, came through a wooden door on the opposite side of the room. He was whistling quietly to himself, a bowl of water and some clean bandages in his hands. He blinked in surprise when his eyes fell upon Gulmont; he then gave Gulmont the biggest smile he had ever seen.

“You’re awake!” he cried with genuine enthusiasm, “you’ve been out for days, I was afraid you’d never wake up.”

“Where’s Savatry?” Gulmont said, getting straight to the point, his voice lased with worry.

“Savatry?” the man asked, looking very confused, “what’s a Savatry?”

“Savatry, Savatry,” Gulmont repeated, panicked and uncertain of what was going on.

The man took a few steps back from Gulmont, not sure of how to proceed or what Gulmont was talking about.

It was then that Gulmont heard a small, music like voice coming from a chair at the end of the bed, “Gulmont, it’s okay, I’m over here.”

Gulmont sprang out of bed in jubilation, an action he immediately regretted as a bolt of pain shot through him.

“Careful now,” Savatry said, her voice full of concern, “you’ve just woken up and you’re not fully healed.”

Gulmont slowly crawled over to Savatry, protectively taking her into his arms and hugging her tightly.

The man chuckled slightly at the sight, “the bow? Well why didn’t you just say so, it’s here, as you can tell, safe and well. I fished you out of the river with it in your arms, I’ve never seen someone hold onto something so tight, it was a job just getting it out of your hands so me and the wife could tend to those wounds.”

Gulmont turned to the man with his head bowed, “thank you,” he said, his voice full of gratitude.

The man smiled at him, shaking his head. “It’s no trouble; I did what any decent person would have done.”

Gulmont nodded at the man and turned back to Savatry. “Are you okay?” he asked her, “are you hurt anywhere?”

The man looked at Gulmont, a small frown on his face, “I’m fine, but you should be more concerned about yourself.”

Gulmont looked back at the man, looking a bit confused, “I wasn’t talking to you,” he said simply.

The man’s frown increased, starting to look worried, “I’m the only one here lad.”

“Don’t be silly,” Gulmont started to say, but before he could finish Savatry cut him off.

“Gul,” she said in an even tone, “he can’t hear me.”

“What?” Gulmont replied disbelievingly, “of course he can, you’re talking right now.”

Savatry smiled sadly, “no, he can’t, I’ve tried several times to speak to him, but he can’t hear me, nor can his wife.”

Gulmont looked at Savatry, trying to understand while the man looked on at them, his worry increasing by the second.

“But…….But why?” Gulmont asked.

“Hush now,” Savatry responded, “we’ll speak on this later.” Savatry then fell silent and Gulmont turned back to the man.

“How did I get here,” he asked.

The man gave Gulmont another concerned look before answering, “I was out fishing by the river and saw you floating down stream, me and a few of the other fishermen brought you ashore, then here. We patched you up as best we could and here you have been ever since.”

Gulmont nodded in gratitude, letting the man sit down beside him and change his bandages, he then left only to return with a small, grey haired woman who brought with her a steaming hot bowl of stew. Gulmont took the stew in both hands and started to drink from the bowl, disregarding the spoon that he had been provided with, much to the amusement of the little woman. “At least some one appreciates my cooking,” she chortled, earning a grunt of embarrassment from her husband.

After Gulmont was finished with the food be began to feel tired, his eyes barley managing to stay open. The woman smiled at him and led her husband from the room to let Gulmont get some sleep. Gulmont spent the better part of an hour trying to fall asleep on the bed, but he found it to be uncomfortable. Having spent so long out in the wilds, something like a seemed unstable under him, he ended up sleeping on the ground and under the bad, his back against the wall. He felt unsafe here, although he had no reason to, he didn’t know why the couple couldn’t hear Savatry and it bothered him. He knew full well what talking to an inanimate object like a bow looked like, and while he was still not entirely sane, he had gotten a lot better. He knew that Savatry’s voice was not a figment of his deranged mind, after all, the other Sylvari had heard her hadn’t they, so why couldn’t these people?

Gulmont and Savatry spent a few days under the care of the couple until Gulmont was mostly healed up, or was at last fit enough to walk around without needing help, at which point, in the dead of night, he snuck out of the house, telling no one that he was going, taking with him only a small sack of provisions.

He felt a bit guilty for leaving in the way he did, without a word of thanks, but he just couldn’t stay in the house for a moment longer, so full of questions was he.

He walked along a dirt road until the sun creped over a great structure that, in the absence of light, Gulmont had thought was a mountain, but now that the morning sun was shining it warm rays down upon it, whisking the dew drops away, he could see the structure was infect a humungous wall, with massive city within.

Gulmont had reached the imposing walls of Divinity’s Reach.
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Argyle

A scream rang out through Ventry Bay, the same scream that’d pierced each night since Argyle had taken up residence on the Weeping Isle. The other Soundless had gotten used to it by now and had long since stopped coming to check up on him. Now he was left alone, left in the silence of the night, with his nightmares and memories as his only company.

It baffled him how the nightmare still persisted after all these years, even after he’d cut himself off from the dream. He’d never heard of the other soundless having such problems. In fact it was quite the opposite. They had all managed to completely cut themselves off from the dream, never getting visions of their loved ones come to plague them when night fell and sleep took over.

Argyle got up from his cot of leaves, walking over to the basin and filling it with water from the bucket nearby. He splashed his face with water, letting the droplets cascade down his scared face. Once the rippled had cleared he looked down at his reflection, his emotionless eyes falling on the scar.

The scar was hideous, stretching from his jaw on the left side of his face, going all the way up to his temple on the right side. To this day it still pulsated angrily, red sap glowing just below the surface. It was a constant reminder of his failure and something that he did not think he deserved to heal fully.

Plunging his hands back into the water, he began to wash them, working up a soapy lather. He washed meticulously, making sure to get under every nook and cranny. Even when his hands were completely clean with no possibility of getting any cleaner he kept going, his mind drifting to the nightmare.

It was the same nightmare every night, with no deviation. Maybe nightmare was even the wrong word. It was more of a memory of what was. He’d been young and foolish back then, he’d even been happy. But like all things, it had to come to an end. He recalled every detail of how the events leading up to his fall first transpired with incredible accuracy. Even now, as he faded into memories, he could not quite believe it had all happened.


Argyle beamed. His smile went from ear to ear as Sylvana regaled his of tales of her travels. The petite Sylvari’s red foliage bounced around as she spoke, waving her hands animatedly. He hung on Sylvana’s every word, laughing loudly at the jokes she told and staring in awe at her descriptions of the sights she had seen.

Argyle had never been out of Caledon, staying close to the Grove and his duties. He’d joined the Wardens shortly after his awakening and hadn’t travelled much with them, instead being stationed at posts in and around the forest. He’d often wanted to go and travel for himself, but had never found the time.

The Sylvari sat on a table in the Warden barracks, relaxing after a particularly arduous mission that had sent them deep into the heart of Nightmare Courtier Territory. There they’d taken out a particularly nasty courtier who done her fair share of torturing of innocent brothers and sister for her own twisted cause. Sylvana sat across from Argyle, talking to him cheerfully, each exchanging words with some enthusiasm. Next to Sylvana sat a white Sylvari that Argyle often saw hanging around Sylvana. He had gotten the impression that the two of them were quite close and had travelled together for many years. The white Sylvari let Sylvana do the talking however, seeming to find joy in the way she told the stories.

Argyle asked the most silly questions imaginable, seeming to be quite naïve to Sylvana, despite the trials they’d already faced. His ignorance was a little endearing however, and the two had gotten quite close in the time they’d been assigned to the same squad.

“So,” Argyle asked, his tone light and cheerful. “Are Norn really as big as they say they are?” His eyes gleamed at the idea of the Norn’s size. He could not fully comprehend what he had been told, believing that those he had asked before had been teasing him.

“Bigger!” Sylvana exclaimed, jumping up onto the table and standing on her tip toes to properly demonstrate the height. “Bigger than this even!” She giggled, clambering down quickly after she’d shown his and glancing around to make sure no one had seen her.

“Wow!” Argyle gasped, his mouth hanging open. “That’s amazing!” He started to laugh in disbelief, the sound rich and full of mirth. When Argyle laughed, it was as if there were no troubles in the world, the sound like music or bird call.

Sylvana was just reaching the climax of her story, building the tension slowly. Argyle was on the edge of his seat, his eyes wide with anticipation. That’s when the door to the barracks opened and their commanding officer strolled in, his head held high and his face stern. Argyle deflated, realising he wasn’t going to find out the end of the story until the Warden Commander was done.

The commander was followed by another Sylvari who had gold coloured bark and blue petals. She was tall, her limbs long and her face angular. Her smile was dazzling, filled with a confidence that startled Argyle. Her eyes were clear blue pools that reflected the beauty of the world. In short, she was the most beautiful Sylvari Argyle had ever seen.

Turning a deep shade of red, Argyle lined up before the commander and this new Sylvari, standing beside Sylvana and trying not to seem as awkward as he felt. He couldn’t help it though, his yes drawn to the new Sylvari as they were. If he had a heart, like the humans do, he thought it’d be beating loud enough for the whole room to hear.

“This is Naewydd,” the Warden Commander began and Argyle’s breath caught in his throat. Even her name was beautiful. “She has recently became a valiant,” the Commander continued, ignoring Argyle’s blooming aura. “We’ll be escorting her to Ascalon where we shall assist her in defending a small outpost north of Ebonhawk.”

The Warden Commander paced up and down the line of Sylvari as he addressed them, sharp eyes resting upon ever one as he walked past them. Argyle did his best to hide his Aura, and for the most part he succeeded. He kept his face straight and resisted the urge to squirm when his own eyes fell upon Naewydd.

“We move out as soon as possible,” The commander explained. “I advise everyone to say their goodbyes and start packing.” Stopping at the end of the line-up, the commander looked at each one on them once more before barking, “Dismissed!”

The Sylvari gave a salute, tapping their heels together and hitting their fists to their chests before dispersing. The next few hours were a hustle and bustle of activity as the Wardens hurried about, gathering their things and packing them into bags. Heartfelt goodbyes were said and tears were shed, but it all seemed quite rushed to Argyle. He’d have rather had a bit more time to get ready. He didn’t complain however, on the contrary, he was excited. This would be his first time so far from home and despite the limited time, he was looking forward to it.

What he was most excited about however, was not the chance to explore the world and see things that he’d never seen before. He was most excited about getting to spend time with Naewydd. The thought made him giddy and he had trouble hiding his smile that night when the Wardens gathered to move out.

Argyle made sure he got close to Naewydd before they began their march, trying not to be too obvious about it. As the procession of Wardens set out, it was an hour or so before Argyle got up the nerve to extend a hand and give Naewydd his most friendly smile. “Argyle,” he said by way of introduction, “Of the cycle of dusk.”

Naewydd shook his hand, giving him a smile of her own that made the sap rush to his cheeks, painting him crimson. “Naewydd of the cycle of noon, it is very nice to meet you brother.”

“Like wise!” Argyle beamed, slowly easing himself into the conversation, becoming more relaxed. “I’ve never been outside of Caledon,” he mused. “I’m very much looking forward to what we shall see.”

“Oh as am I!” Naewydd proclaimed, clapping her hands together in excitement. “But all those sights will be nothing compared to our destination. That is what I am most looking forward to.” She said with a nod.

Argyle laughed at that, the corners of his mouth curling into a smile. “You’re awfully eager I must say. This wyld hunt of yours must be very interesting.” He tilted his head to one side in a bird like manner as he watched Naewydd, his eyes sparkling with interest.

Naewydd stuck her bottom lip out in thought, folding her arms and stroking her chin with a finger. “I’m not sure it’s all that interesting to be honest with you. All I know is I’m to go to this outpost and protect it. From who or from what I can’t say. For all I know it may be an invasion of dust bunnies.” She giggled at the idea.

Argyle laughed along, garnering as few odd looks from his fellow Wardens.

Their journey was mostly uneventful. Sometimes they would encounter the odd band of bandits blocking the road, but the villains were no match for the trained Warden unit. Argyle marvelled at the new sights and sounds, his eyes widening in fascination and a gasp of awe escaping his mouth every now and again.

He tried to keep as close to Naewydd as possible, something that did not escape the attention of the other Wardens. They often made good humoured jokes at his expense when Naewydd was not in ear shot, and Sylvana would often give him a nudge in the ribs, followed by a mischievous grin.

But though Argyle’s feelings towards Naewydd did not go unnoticed, neither did her feeling regarding him. Over the course of the journey, as Argyle became more and more drawn to Naewydd, it became obvious that she did not feel the same. While she never kept Argyle at a distance, and did enjoy his company, she did not consider the doe eyed Sylvari as anything more than a good friend.

Argyle knew this, and perhaps Naewydd knew how he felt about her. It was one of the disadvantages about being attuned to each other’s auras. In this was the subjects of Argyle’s feelings were never brought up. He kept quiet about how he felt and Naewydd never commented on it. In that way they carried on, dodging the looks they received from the others.

One night, when the unit had set up camp, Argyle turned to Naewydd, voicing a question that’d long been on his mind. “Your Wyld hunt, what does it feel like?” His worry was tangible, something more than this simple question was tugging at his consciousness, though he was being delicate about it.

Naewydd tilted her head to one side as she considered the question, running her tongue over her lips, a motion that Argyle found mesmerising, forcing himself to look at his feet so his blush would not become obvious. “It’s like a pulling sensation in the back of your mind,” she explained, finding it hard to put into words. “While you can try and ignore it, it’s always there, dragging you off to where you’re supposed to go.”

Argyle nodded, staring into the small fire that the wardens had set up, putting their tents around it. He was quiet for a long while, the light of the fire reflected in his violet eyes. “You know,” he said after some time. “I hear that once a Sylvari completes their Wyld hunt, they return to the Mother tree.”

Naewydd frowned, shaking her head slightly, her blue leaves rustling gently. “I had not heard that, no.” She too then looked into the fire, deep in thought, wondering if what Argyle had said could possibly be true.

Eventually, in a small, frightened voice Argyle said, “Don’t do it.” Naewydd snapped her head to him, looking at him in disbelief. “Don’t complete it. Stay here with me, where you’re safe.”

Naewydd looked at Argyle with a cold, calm stare. “Don’t ask that of me again Argyle, you know I can’t do that.”

Argyle fell silent, getting to his feet and turning away, going to his tent. Lifting the flap, he crouched down to enter, mumbling just loud enough for Naewydd to hear, “I know.”

In the next few days they made their way into Ascalon, finally reaching the outpost, only to hear they sound of gunfire and explosions. The Wardens sprang into action, getting into formation and advancing on the outpost. The sight that met them was one of carnage.

Half of the fortified Charr buildings had been reduced to rubble, metal and stone flung to the side like leaves in the breeze. Creatures of dark crystal assaulted the walls, slashing and biting with claws and teeth, their craggy forms glistening eerily in the light. Their voices were full of hate and rage, driven on by their ungodly master.

The wardens ran into the fray, blades cutting through the hordes of Branded like a hot knife through butter. The Branded fell before them in droves, their numbers unending, but the wardens persevered.

Argyle, Naewydd and Sylvana stuck together, defending each other as they fought. Argyle cut down a hulking Branded Charr, his blade pricing the creature’s throat, purple blood oozing from the wound, solidifying as it makes contact with the air.

Naewydd fired balls of blue flame from her staff; the orbs sinking into a Branded human’s flesh and setting it alight. The creature screamed as the guardian fire consumed it, spreading over the creature from head to toe.

Sylvana’s great sword hacked great chunks of Branded away, limbs and other parts falling to the wayside, landing in a heap at her feet. They fell like dominoes before her, not rising again. She was soon covered in a dark ichor that glowed ever so slightly.

The Branded numbers started to thin, some even retreated to regroup, clustering in a small pocket just outside of the outpost. The combined forces of the Charr and Wardens pursued, cutting the remaining forces down until none remained. A cheer of victory ran out among the troops, Charr and Warden alike patting each other on the back and giving congratulations.

But the celebrations stopped instantly as a cry rang out through the battlefield. “The dragon! The dragon is coming!” The air rumbled with the signs of the dragon’s coming. All eyes turned to the sky as dark clouds began to form, bolts of purple lightning darting across the heavens, scarring the plains below.

Naewydd turned to her companions, a sad smile on her face, her eyes full of devout resolve. “Go,” she said simply, nodding her head, hand gripping her staff, her knuckles turning white. “Go while you still can. You’ve no place here.”

“What are you talking about,” Argyle said, his voice wavering. “You have to come with us, there’s no way you can survive this.”

“I know,” was all she said, turning away from the group of warden’s and survivors, standing at the entrance to the outpost, resolute in her cause.

The wardens gathered up the remaining survivors, forming a ring around them so as to escort them to safety. Sylvana ran up to Naewydd, wrapping her arms around her to hold her in a warm embrace before pulling away and going to join the others, tears brimming in the corners of her eyes.

In an orderly fashion, the Wardens began to file out of the outpost, looking around for any Branded that might try to intercept them. Argyle looked on in horror as they left Naewydd to face such an unimaginable threat alone. He looked on as the Sylvari woman stood vigilant over her charge, steadfast and ready to give her life.

The outpost had already started to fade into the distance before Argyle made up his mind. Clenching his teeth together and screwing his eyes up tight, he detached himself from the group, running at full pelt back to the outpost. He heard Sylvana call after him, but ignored her, making his way back to Naewydd as fast as he could.

He found her exactly where he left her, looking out at the oncoming horde of Branded. He stood beside her, stone faced and unwavering, his sword clutched tightly in his hand.

Naewydd turned in surprise as he walked up to her, and now that he was here, he could see the fear in her eyes. But upon seeing him she smiled, making his pulse race. “You shouldn’t be her Argyle,” she said quietly, already knowing his response.

“I’m not going to leave you out her alone,” he replied, his voice shaking ever so slightly.

She nodded, giving him a small chuckle before looking back to the enemy. “Thank you.”

The Branded attacked, laying siege to the outpost with no mercy, their eyes glowing with malice. Argyle and Naewydd held them off as best they could, but it was two against an unrelenting tide of depravity.

Argyle became locked in combat with a colossal Branded ogre, its massive claws capable of ripping the largest of rocks to shreds. He fought as hard as he could, dodging many attacks that would have torn him asunder if he had taken the hit. But his luck could not last. Exhaustion hit him like a ton of bricks and he took a hit, the Branded’s claws hitting him right in the face.

There was a searing pain and he felt like his whole head had been cleaved in two. He fell back, red sap running down his face in waves. The Branded towered over him, laughing darkly, but before the final blow was struck, he burst into flames, screaming loudly and tumbling to the floor.

Naewydd was next to him in an instant, panic clear on her face. She tried to keep the Branded away from him, but they just kept coming. Argyle saw Naewydd standing over him, doing her best to protect him from the seemingly endless throng.

Then everything went still. It was if the whole world had gone into slow motion, along with sound being turned to mute. There was a break in the clouds and an immense being descended from above, wings flapping menacingly. It looked down on the two of them like someone looking through a microscope at an insignificant bug. It took a deep breath in, fire dancing at the corners of its mouth.

Naewydd acted without a second thought, dragging Argyle to his feet and throwing him under a pile of rubble. He tumbled to the floor, sheltered by the ruin around him, but his view of Naewydd completely obstructed.

“Naewydd!” he screamed, but it was too late. There was a roar of fire, as if the gates of hell itself had been opened. Argyle heard a scream, felt the heat of the fire and the dizziness from loss of blood. Try as he might, he was unable to stay conscious. His vision blurred, and he saw no more.

He wasn’t sure how long he remained unconscious, but when he awoke, crawling out from his hiding place, there was only desolation around him. What little left of the outpost was rubble, and even then it had been scorch and turned to crystal. Bodies littered the ground, but they’d been so badly burnt he couldn’t tell Branded from people.

But there, curled up into a ball not far from him, was a little body, black and hardly recognisable. Argyle took a few steps towards it, falling to his knees. In his delirium he became sure of it, beyond a measure of a doubt. This had been Naewydd. He felt the tears mixing with his blood, trickling down his disfigured face and falling to the ground. He screamed until his throat closed up and he could scream no more.

He didn’t know when it was he started walking, nor if he ever stopped to eat or sleep. All he knew is that at some point he had started. The only way he figured out he had started is he eventually started to feel the aura of other Sylvari. Looking up in surprise, he found that he’d managed to make his way all the way back to Caledon Forest.

The Sylvari around him, they felt happy. Argyle could hardly comprehend it. How could they be so happy when his whole world had been torn apart in seconds? They shouldn’t be happy! Not with her gone! The world and everyone in it should be grieving as much as he was! But they weren’t and they never would.

It was then he first started to feel the tendrils of nightmare tugging at the edges of his consciousness. He would be able to make other grieve as much as he was grieving if he fell. It would be so easy to just let himself go and fall into the blackness.

But he couldn’t, but nor could he go back to the dream and all his happy siblings. He couldn’t stand it. So he cut himself off from the world instead, going to the Weeping Isle where he found the quiet he needed. There he lived in solitude, denying the outside world and all of its happiness.


Argyle came back to reality when he felt the pain in his hands. Looking down, he found that he’d rubbed his hands raw with all the washing of them he was doing. With a sigh he drained the water from the sink and walked back to bed, sitting down on the covers and crossing his legs, closing his eyes.

He started to go through his meditations, blocking the dream out of his consciousness, as well as all of his emotions. He stayed like that until dawn’s first rays of light twinkled over the horizon, telling of a new day to come.

Another day without her.
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A prisoner of the Court

The thorns of the bars stabbed into his sides whenever he tried to move, the cramped cage leaving very little room to move anyway, designed to instil a maddening claustrophobia. He kept his eyes closed, whimpering softly in the dark.
He’d been here about a week, snatched from the Isle in one of the Court’s raids, just days after he had arrived. Still he was unable to fully command his Soundless mantras, and his aura kept slipping through, full of fear and apprehension.
He had yet to be touched however, such was not his custodian’s way. Instead she had sat before his cage, for hours on end, simply talking to him, her black eyes staring at him with an intensity that he couldn’t shake off. Her voice was like velvet, smooth and comforting, yet there was something beneath it that warned him of a menacing side that he had not yet seen. Her leaves were a dark green, jagged thorns poking out from under serrated pink flower petals. He thought she might look a little like a rose, though one that had been twisted into a dark sense of beauty that could not been seen by another other than those teetering on the edge of insanity.
“It’s not fair, is it?” She asked him in a tone full of love and devotion. “Everyone around you is so happy, yet here you are, forced into a dark pit by your grief. Why is it that they’re allowed to be so happy, when you are not?”
He tried to keep her voice out of his head, but he couldn’t help but see the truth in her words. It was not fair, that all his brothers and sisters where full of joy, yet he had to suffer in this unending agony. He hadn’t spoken since he had gotten here, and yet she had somehow been able to see into the deepest recesses of his being, picking apart every detail of what had happened to him over the last few years, without him saying a word.
“You must have loved them,” the dark sister continued, peeling back layers of his control with every word she spoke. “Yet they could not find it in themselves to love you in return? How horrible.”
Again he did not answer, tears welling up in the corner of his eyes, the pain of his love not being reciprocated like a dagger in his chest, pulling his ribs apart and straining them to a breaking point, yet they would not break, remaining on the pivotal moment where the pain was at its height.
She edged further to the mouth of the cage, running her fingertips along the bars, love a lover’s caress, the bloody thorns pricking her fingertips and trailing sap down her slender hand.
“You would have done anything for them, wouldn’t you? And yet they tossed you aside without a thought of how you might feel. You could have given them so much, yet they rejected your love.”
She garnered no response from him, but she did not need to. She was hitting home with every word she spoke, slowly twisting him to her own design, and he had almost stopped putting up a fight.
“You don’t have to be alone you know? I would love you, more fiercely than anyone could love another. If you were to just open your hear to me, beloved, I would show you all the compassion that you crave so much.”
Could she be telling the truth? The look in her eyes told him that she was. It was the same look he’d given Naewydd every time he had looked at her. Is this what it felt like to be loved in return? It was odd, a nagging wrongness to it that tugged at his very being, yet oh so right. If he were to just give up this fight, he could be happy, with her. There was something etched into his very being that said that if he were to give in, that he would be, for the first time in his life, truly whole. It were as if the Dream were a shackle that kept him from reaching his full potential, yet he kept hold of that shackle, onto the ideals of the tablet, for fear of stepping into the pool of cruelty that he knew the court was capable of. But were those acts really so wrong.
“You’re confused, beloved. I see that. You need time to gather your thoughts. Fear not, this is not a decision that you need to make now. You have time yet, my love.” She slowly moved away from the bars, her tongue dancing across her fingers, lapping up the blood with a seductive gleam in her eye. “I shall leave you for now, you’ve much to think on. But I shall be here should you need me. I’ll always be here for you.”
And then he was left, alone with his thoughts, alone with the sense that if he were to embrace her words, he would be what he was truly meant to be.

She came to him again the next day, opening the cage door and offering him a hand. “Come with me, my love. I have something to show you.” Her voice echoed with such promise of love and kindness, that he took her hand instinctively, and was lead through the den, to another set of cages. Inside, a Sapling thrashed around, looking up at the two of them in quiet defiance, a gag over his mouth, stifling any sound he might have made
She circled herself around him, unsheathing a knife from her hip and taking his hand, carefully placing the knife in his palm and closing his fingers around the hilt with her own, whispering in his ear, her lips only a fraction away. “Now is the time, my love. Show your devotion to me by showing this young one where our path really lies, and I will show you how much I love you in return.” Her hand lightly stroked his chest, causing a shiver to run up his spine.
Without thought, he took a step towards the cage, the sapling within blanching and shuffling to the back of the cage, only to find himself cornered.
That was when he lashed out, the cold steel of the knife digging into the Sapling’s flesh, a ragged scream of agony erupting from his through, but even then he continued, until the screaming was drowned out by his own need to be accepted by her, to be loved by her.
It was only when he heard her laughing that he found pause. She was enjoying the torcher, finding a sadistic pleasure in the harm he was inflicting on another. He questioned in that instant weather he felt any joy from inflicting pain upon his brother below him, who was now sobbing in anguish, and found the answer to be no. He felt sick, the rush of adrenalin leaving him in a second as the realisation of what he was doing hit him.
He couldn’t stop though, not now, or it would mean his end, as well as the end of the Sapling, so he continued playing her sick game, the knife cutting deep into his brother’s flesh, the sap draining drown him, covering his hands and pooling at his feet.
It was hours before he was lead back to his own cage, the look of joy on her face making him feel as though he were about to throw up. He kept his aura in check however, muttering his soundless mantras, feeling as they took hold of him, blocking out the nightmare that had slowly started to take root in his soul.
“Soon, my love,” she said to him as she left him for the night. “We will be one. You just need to be patient until then.”
He could see her madness now, her delusion of love. But then, what did he know of love? Perhaps this was really it, what it really felt for love to be reciprocated. If so, he wanted nothing to do with it. He was impossible to love, and impossible for him to love in return.

She brought him back to the Sapling’s cage the next day, and the ordeal began again, but this time he had hardened himself against the screams and her laughter. This time he felt no emotions as the blade met flesh. He felt nothing.
So he felt no surprise when the Warden’s stormed the den, their cries of victory splitting the air as they cut down Courtier after Courtier in a desperate attempt to get to the cages and free the prisoners.
He also felt no hesitation, as he turned plunged the knife in the Sapling’s eye, all the way to the hilt, killing the doomed sibling, who he had brought to the brink of nightmare, then turned on her, knife flashing in the dark as he slit her exposed throat, her eyes bulging in shock, then betrayal. She managed to gurgle a few words that he took to be, “Why beloved?” He before her lifeless form collapsed to the ground.
“Because I will never become like you,” Argyle answered, setting the knife down beside her, then disappearing into the canopy of the forest.
Argyle returned to the Isle, secluding himself from the world as he mastered his mantras, vowing to wipe the Court from the face of Tyria to redeem himself of his crimes, even though he knew that the only adequate redemption would be his inevitable demise.
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Garavan's Background

The walls of Ebonhawk stood proud and defiant against the summer moon that rose high into the sky. Soldiers gathered at the ramparts, armour glimmering with steadfast resoluteness. They would not fall this night. They would stand ready to face the coming hoard.

The Charr rolled up in their war machines, the barrels of their guns glinting with malevolent intent. Each of the felines was geared out in heavy, impenetrable looking armour, teeth and claws sharpened to deadly points. And that was only their natural weapons. Swords and daggers hung at their sides, each one as lethal of their cruel looking talons.

Garavan smiles as he looked upon the walls, the solders shaking in fear. All weak, all squishy, no match for the sheer might of the war machine. This was to be their first deployment, him and his Warbands. They had been training for this moment all of their lives. He looked across at his family, each one primed and ready for the assault.

He tried no keep his eyes away from Keiva, at the fay her sleek, white fur shone in the light of the moon. How her horns stood out on her head, proud and majestic. How her tail swished from side to side, lithe and lethal. She was a true vision on the battle field, and a distraction at that. He had to focus on the task at hand. He couldn’t shake the doubt in his mind though. Keiva did not seem as eager as the others. She seemed scared.

The Legionnaire marched up and down the ranks, barking commands and motivational speeches. Garavan didn’t really care in all honestly, he’d rather just be in there fighting. He didn’t have to wait long. A horn was sounded and the order to attack rang out. His band mates took up the cry, charging forward, galloping towards the walls on all fours, the war machines rolling along behind them.

Flaming boulders flew overhead as they charged, the humans throwing everything they could at them. The boulders landed with a tremendous explosion, Charr bodies flying every which why and that, some getting crushed under the rocks. The smell of burning flesh and fur filled Garavan’s nostrils, but that was all part of the rush of war, he reveled in it.

They crashed into the front lines of the human defences, steel against steel, clashing together in a roar of fury. The Charr pushed forward, blood and gore running through their claws and blades. Garavan fell upon the first human he reached, his jaw wrapping around the neck of the young boy, ripping his throat out with a jerk of his head.

He let out a bellowing roar of battle, hearing his warband cry out in triumph. All but one. Keiva did not call back, she had fallen silent. Garavan felt a sudden hole open up in the pit of his stomach. He looked around in desperation, hoping for any glimpse of her within the chaos of the battle, and there, surrounded by a group of humans, all wielding jagged spears, he saw her.

Her eyes were wide with fear, the deep blue if her irises glancing around in panic. Her sword hund uselessly by her side, as if she had no idea how to use it, despite the years of drills they had run. Her fur stood on end, her maw lay open, bearing her sharp fangs. The humans were not put off by this however, they continued to advance.

Garavan ran forward, growling in fury, but he was too far away from her to reach her in time. The humans fell upon her, their spears darting forward to fall on her in a barrage of death. But before the deadly points could touch her fur, Keiva let loose a menacing cry. Fire flew from her finger tips, singing her attackers. They backed up in surprise, clearly not expecting this.

But in her fear, Keiva continued to conjure the flames. Soon, a hail storm of fire was falling down from the heavens, killing both enemy and ally. Nothing could stand in Keiva’s way; the magic that she calls forth had gotten completely out of her control.

With little options at his disposal, Garavan hurtled into Keiva, slamming her to the ground. He raised a fist high in the air, bringing it down on her head. Keiva passed into unconsciousness, the world around her fading into blackness. With Keiva out cold her magic dispersed, leaving destruction in it’s wake.

The Charr forces were scatter, along with the humans. Small skirmishes were still going on, but other than that, the soldiers of either side were in disarray. The call for retreat was sounded, both armies quickly making their way back over to their respective camps in a disorganised mess.

Garavan’s warband was blamed for the entire fiasco and they were dismissed from the front. The warband now looked at Keiva with fear and suspicion, not sure what to make of her, All but Garavan that is. He gave her nothing but support, spending more time with her than he’d ever done before.

It had been weeks since the failure to take Ebonhawk. Garavan and Keiva lay under the shade of a tree, the sun shining through its orange leaves. The two were snuggles closely together, gazing into each other’s eyes, their tails wrapped around one another. Garavan whispers to Keiva, a small joke they shared between to two of them. She let of a giggle that sounded more like a purr.

They stayed together like this for a long while, just enjoying each other’s company. Eventually however, Keiva went unusually quiet, her expression turning serious. Garavan furrowed his eyebrows, peering at Keiva with a hint of worry in his large, orange eyes.

Keiva sat up, taking Garavan’s paw in her own, speaking in a soft, gentle tone, “What do you think of my magic?” She asked.

Garavan paused before he answered, not sure of what to say. This was the first time since the incident that it had been brought forward, the warband had no idea she had any magic until that night. “Why didn’t you tell us?” Was all he said, trying to sound soothing as he spoke in his, deep southern drawl.

“I was afraid.” She answered, her lip quivering in apprehension. She sounded disgusted in herself. Charr were not supposed to know fear. That was what they had been taught. They were supposed to be the ultimate weapon, cogs in the Great War machine.

Garavan wrapped his arms around her; holding her close, wishing that he could take away all of her fears. “I don’ care if you go’ magic or no’. You’re still you,” He answered finally, feeling Keiva relax in his arms.

“Good,” she replied. “There’s something I need to show you.” With a gentle paw, she pulled Garavan to his feet, dragging him along.

Garavan looked around himself in curiosity, wondering what Keiva had in mind. It could have been anything knowing her. She was very thoughtful and was the one you’d go to within the Warband if you ever had a problem. She was caring and considerate, someone you wanted by your side in battle. He couldn’t understand why the others had distanced themselves so much.

Keiva lead him to an empty clearing within a ruin, somewhere secluded where no one went. Garavan suspected nothing of what awaited him; his trust in Keiva was absolute. The Charr that emerged from the shadows of the rubble as the two grew close were not you normal Charr.

They were bulky, with ragged mains and unkempt fur. Their armour blazed with swirling flames that licked at their shaggy coats, singeing their hair. They grinned at the two young Charr, their teeth yellowing, their breath putrid.

Garavan stepped in front of Keiva, shielding her from the Flame Legion, a savage snarl on his lips. “Back off flame lovers,” he growled.

The Flame Legion Charr turned to Keiva, raising an eyebrow. “I thought you said this one could be trusted,” he sneered.

“I….I…” Keiva stammered, looking from Garavan to the other Charr.

The Flame Legion Charr let out a frustrated sigh, scratching his shaggy jaw. “Are you coming with us or not?”

Garavan yelled out in defiance. “We ain’ goin’ nowhere with you!”

The Flame Legion Charr chuckles, his eyes still on Keiva, “I did tell you.” He fold his arms across his chest, one hand on the hilt of his blade. Turning to Garavan, he narrows his eyes, but still seemed to be speaking to Keiva. “He won’t let you come with us, and he can’t let anyone know we were here. You know what you have to do to be safe.”

“What in tarnation are you goin’ on about!? You flamed lovers be as nutty as a…..” But Garavan is cut off in his tirade by a sharp pain in his back. Turning his head to look at Keiva, he finds her to be sobbing uncontrollably, tears running down her silky fur.

With a ragged breath, Garavan puts a hand to his back, raising it to his face to see the black blood that now stains his fur. He gives Keiva a look of disbelief as she pulls the dagger from his back, walking over to stand beside the Flame Legion.
“I’m sorry Gara,” She whimpers as he sinks to his knees, his vision clouding over. The next thing he knew he was waking up in a hospital, far away from the clearing.
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The Legend of Iorek Sharkbait

The sound of gulls filled the air as the sea lapped against the wooden docks of Lion’s Arch. The sun was high in the sky, beating down on the white sail of a magnificent ship that bared the markings of the Black Lion Trading Company. The galleon teetered slightly as the waves pushed up against it, but the sailors who were boarding didn’t seem to mind, more concerned with carrying their cargo onto the ship without damaging it.
Iorek stood on the edge of the docks, a young Norn who had just gotten his tattoos, his skin still a little red from the procedure. His beard had yet to grow through and his teeth were pure white. His skin was full of vitality and he looked as though he was full of confidence, eager for the adventures ahead and excited to see how his legend would grow.
And yet a hint of apprehension tugged at his heart, and unwillingness to leave the city that he’d grown up in. His mother was quite capable of running their little tavern, so he wasn’t too worried about that, someone was still keeping him here however.
“Iorek!” Her voice was like music as the sea breeze carried it to his ears, sending his heart fluttering like a bird in flight. He turned to see her walking up to him, her blond hair flowing out, getting tussled by the wind, her braid unfurling. She was not the most beautiful of woman, quite humble by most people’s standards, but to him she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. Her smile was dazzling as their eyes met, her green settling on his brown, almost causing him to give up everything right there, just to stay with her.
Signy embraced him as they met, standing on her tip toes to press her lips against him, the warmth of the touch resonation through his whole being. Once their lips parted, she simply stared into his eyes, a little sadness in their depths. “You really ‘ave te go?” She asked, tears building in the corners of her eyes. It almost broke Iorek’s heart. He longed to stay, but the call of the sea was tugging at him. He wanted to experience what his father had felt, to be out in the open waves, the salty wind whistling through his hair.
“I can’, lass,” He replied, not being able to keep the guilt out of his voice. “’Sides, ‘ow am I goin’ te be able te ge’ us a lodge o’ our own if we don’ be ‘avin’ any coin fer one? T’is job be payin’ pleanty o’ hones’ coin, I no’ be getting’ a be’er job.”
She nodded slightly, burying her face into his new coat, holding onto the lapels like he was going to suddenly disappear if she were to let go.
Holding her close, he started to stroke her hair, breathing in her scent as the ache in his chest started to build. “I be bein’ ‘ome soon, m’love, an’ when I be back, we be ‘avin’ a weddin’ tha’ the Arch be talkin’ ‘bou’ fer years te come.”
Signy sniffed a little before punching Iorek on the arm, “You better.”
A shout came from the ship hen, a loud, grumble of the captian telling the sailors that they were about to set sail. Signy bit her lip as she pulled away from Iorek, taking a deep breath to settle herself and look up at him with a face full of pride. “You’d bes’ come back te me, Iorek Olafsson, or I’ll be sore a’ yee.” She put on a stern look, full of determination.
Iorek gave her a bellow of laughter, which was quickly drowned out by the ship captain yelling at him to get a move on. Quickly, he gave Signy a kiss on the cheek before walking up the gang plank.
Soon they were underway, the sails catching the wind as the sailors began to row, casting the galleon out to sea. Signy stood on the edge of the docks, tears flowing freely as they set off, Iorek waving back from the rigging.

They’d been at sea for a few week before the other ship came into sight, the black flag of the jolly roger waving from the mast. Iorek’s captin’s face was grim as he gave orders to his crew, telling them to man the cannons, even though he knew it was useless.
The first volley of cannon fire came well before they were ready, the honest sailors not used to combat. The battle didn’t go much better from there. The pirates came up right beside them, ramming their hull as the dastardly crew took to the rigging and swung themselves over, onto the merchant vessel. It wasn’t long before the pirates had the whole crew gathered up, bound and gagged, waiting for judgement.
It wasn’t long before the pirate captain boarded, a man resplendent in a gold tasselled, red coat, displaying finery that Iorek had only seen on the richest of merchants. He looked at the crew from under a main of black hair, piercing eyes regarding each and every one of the sailors.
“Now then,” he said in a refined voice, one that Iorek didn’t really think suited a pirate. “You my good gentleman have a choice, and said choice is fairly simple. You are all going to either join up with me, or I’m afraid I’m going to have to let you go.”
The choice didn’t seem all that bad to Iorek, generous even, until his own captain spoke up. “You rotten cad! There’s no way me or my men would ever join up with you! I’ll have you in the stockades in the Arch for a year once I’m out of here!”
“That really is a pity,” The pirate captain replied. “Are you sure that is your choice? You can’t go back on it.”
“Yes of course it’s my choice!” The man yelled back, “Now let me go!”
With a shake of his head, the pirate captain drew his pistol, pulling back the hammer and shooting a hole in the merchant captain’s head. “Yes, such a pity I have to let you go to visit Master Davy Jones, though I expect he’ll enjoy the company.”
Iorek had to look away from the body, the urge to vomit rising up in his throat. The some of the other men started sobbing, while others just stared, shock written all over their faces, yet unable to look away from the gore that now covered the deck.
The pirate captain then turned to Iorek, holding out a quill in one hand and a book with another, while another pirate stated loading his pistol. “Now young man, you’re next. I’m sure you’d make a fine addition to the crew. And I’m a gentleman of the sea, I can assure you of that. You’ll be paid fairly, have no fear. Join up with me, or be let go. The choice is up to you.”
The other pirate rested his pistol next to Iorek’s head, the cold steel biting against his skin. Thoughts of Signy flashed through Iorek’s mind, the life he had planned for them, the happiness that could still be theirs provided he was able to keep himself alive.
With a trembling hand, Iorek reached for the quill, putting it to paper as he signed his name, the letters barely legible as he struggled to hold the quill and keep the fear from himself.
The pirate captain withdrew the book as soon as the last letter had been made, throwing Iorek a handsome smile. “Excellent my lad! Well done. Welcome to the Red Robin. I’m Captain Robin, I’m sure you’ve heard of me.”
Iorek had, the tales of Bloody Robin sweeping fare and wide. The human had made a legend for himself on the bodies of his enemies, commanding fear and respect through his cutlass and pistol rather than his words.
Bloody Robin turned to the rest of the crew, offering them the same deal. Iorek had expected many to take him up on it, but he was sorely mistaken. The veteran sailors had seen what a life of piracy could do to you, and they’d rather meet Bloody Robin’s pistol than his book.
Many threw Iorek hateful glares as they turned Bloody Robin down, their eyes baring into Iorek as his pullets ripped through their skulls and sent them to the mists. Those faces would haunt Iorek for years to come. He took to the bottle, trying to drown out the screams of his former crew mates with intoxication, but they never truly left him.

Bloody Robin kept them at sea and away from Lion’s Arch for years, amassing a wealth of gold and jewels that he horded for his pirate crew, trusting the location of the treasure to his most loyal. Many tried to get the secrets out of him, but Bloody Robin commanded such fear that after the first few deaths, people stopped asking.
After one instance, when they hadn’t had wind for weeks and were stationary at sea, with nothing but the boundless expanse of water all around, the madness that many sailors feared began to set in. It was rumoured that Bloody Robin had completely lost in mind, as since then, he became progressively more violent.
Iorek served loyally for quite a few years, amassing his own small fortune, which he mostly lost on drink and gambling. He killed and tortured for Bloody Robin, fearing for his life if he didn’t carry out his orders.
Until once fateful day. The Red Robin came upon a merchant vessel, much like the one Iorek had originally set sail on. The pirates took it as easily as they ever did, boarding the ship with little difficulty, gathering up the crew, and killing those who fought back.
Bloody Robin set foot on deck once it was all over, he never took part in the attacks, preferring to keep his hands clean. He would make his show and dance, executing the first man to call him out and say that none would join, then passing the pistol to one of his crew. This time he passed it to Iorek.
Time and time again he pulled the trigger, watching as good men refused Bloody Robin and filling their heads with lead soon after. That was until they came to a young boy, he couldn’t have been more than ten, traveling with his Parents to some unknown destination.
“And you boy?” Bloody Robin addressed him. “The choice is up to you.”
“I refuse,” The boy answered defiantly, the same hate in his eyes as Iorek had seen so many times in his dreams.
“Very well,” Bloody Robin said with a wave of his hand, turning to the next man, expecting to hear the crack of a pistol.
It never came. Iorek stood, his hands trembling, staring down at the young boy, so much braver than he had been all those years ago. The pistol clattered to the ground, and Bloody Robin turned to him, eyes gleaming with malice.
“Pick that up,” Bloody Robin hissed, pointing at the boy, “And do what you’re ordered to.”
“’E be jus’ a lad cap’in,” Iorek whispered. “Yee don’ be t’inkin’ tha’ we could be lettin’ t’is one go, do yee?”
Bloody Robin strode up to Iorek, barely reaching his shoulder, yet still managing to instil a fear in him that no other man could. “Pick. That. Up.” He growled, emphasising each word as he pointed t the pistol, “And do as you are ordered.”
Iorek said a quiet prayer to the spirits before shaking his head, thoughts of Signy and their last kiss running through his mind, as he knew that this would be the last time he’d be able to think of her. “I can’ cap’in.”
“Then you walk the plank!” Bloody Robin shirked, the madness in his eyes clear to everyone.

The sea below was teeming with sharks, drawn to the blood that now stained the waters red. The merchant crew had been disposed of, the boy included, and the sharks had come to enjoy the spoils.
Iorek stood on the edge of the plank, his now fully grown beard billowing in the wind, watching how the sharks circles beneath him, their fins rising above the waves to give a menacing preview of things to come.
Iorek could hear the jeering behind him, the crew eager for a good show, and Iorek intended to give them one. He may die here, but he’d go down fighting. He didn’t need any prompting, diving head first into the water, much to the astonishment of the other men, but he couldn’t hear their gasps, as the water camp up around his head and muted much of the noise.
The sharks swam towards him. He could just about see them, dark shapes in the murky depths. The first one came at him, clumsy and hungry, it tried to take a bite out of his side, but was only met by a fist to the nose that sent it reeling backwards. The second tried the same tactic, but this one was met by a kick, gain sending it back, bewildered and dazed. The third wasn’t much smarter than the other two, but Iorek had grown in confidence now, swimming out of the way just as the shark came to chomp down on him, launching forward before it could get away, and wrapping his arms round it. With a grunt of effort, he jerked the shark, breaking its spine and leaving to dead in a few moments.
The other sharks, once they’d regained their senses, found food with their dead companion, losing all interest in Iorek, favouring easier pray.
When Iorek surfaced, the goading had stopped, instead being replaced by rapturous cheers. He was pulled back on deck, given pats on the back and congratulations, while Bloody Robin looked on with hate and envy. The captain had little choice but to keep him aboard, and soon the legend of Iorek Sharkbait was heard of far and wide.
Bloody Robin however, was still in charge. For the moment. The crew had seen his madness now, and knew they could not follow a mad man, so a plan was formed, mostly of Iorek’s own devising. fuelled by the lust for revenge, Iorek gathered the crew under his command, and soon all were loyal to him, some in awe, others in fear. For who would go up against the one person Bloody Robin now feared?
The mutiny was quick and easy, the rage of the crew members only getting stronger when it was revealed that Bloody Robin had in fact, not told anyone where he had hidden his treasure. And nor would he. They bound him, intending to go into great interrogations in the morning, but once dawn had greeted the sea water, they found Bloody Robin dead, having taken his own life by biting his tongue.

It was not long after that, after years of being Away, Iorek once again set foot on the beaches of Lion’s Arch. He ran to the old tavern, expecting to see Signy waiting for him with open arms, but instead he found the place empty. Asking around, he was told that Signy now owned a place not far from the tavern, and followed the directions with earnest.
He came to a nice home, it’s architecture much like the other houses in the Arch, built from the wreckage of old ships. Taking off his hat, he run a hand through his dreadlocks, trying to make himself a little better looking for their reunion. There’s wasn’t a whole lot he could do however. He was grubby at this point, nearly always drunk, the sun having made his skin leathery, the wind giving him a weather beaten look. His beard was salty and his teeth yellow and rotting, from years of poor hygiene and drink.
Stepping up to the door, he rapped on it with his fist. He didn’t have to wait long for her to open the door. Signy hadn’t changed much, though a little older, she was no less beautiful to him. There was one difference in his appearance however. She showed no love for him in her sea green eyes, in fact, there was an absence of anything other than hate. “Wha’ do yee be wantin’?” She asked in a clipped tone, the bitterness in her voice clear as a bell.
Iorek wasn’t sure what to say for a moment, stammering until he could get the words out. “I be comin’ fer yee Signy. Te fufill me promise te yee. I be ‘avin’ coin now, more than enough fer yee an’ me te ge’ our lodge toget’er.”
Signy replied with a harsh laugh. “Ge’ a lodge? An’ ge’ married? Te the likes o’ yee? I know o’ yee legend, Iorek Sharkbait.” She practically spat his name, “I be knowin’ o’ the t’in’s yee be doin’. Yee be no’ teh man I be fallin’ in love wit’. ‘E be dead, died long ago. Yee never be ‘alf teh man ‘e was!” And with that, she slammed the door in his face.
Iorek could feel his heart being shattered with each word, like glass, crumbling into dust. He slowly walked back to the tavern, eyes wide, feeling completely empty. He reached for his only friend, the only thing he knew would always be with him. The bottle.
That night he hired a whore, losing what shred of innocence he had, vowing to never give his heart to another. The sea would be his lover from now on, and he would grow his legend, to be the greatest scourge that Tyria had ever known. It was what Signy saw him as, so he would see it become true.
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In the Infirmary

Gulmont’s eyes flickered open. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been out, but judging by where he was, it had been long enough. The tiled ceiling was the first thing that gave his location away, the next was the distinct smell of medical supplies and polish.

The bed he was in was uncomfortable, and not just because he wasn’t used to sleeping on a bed. It was your standard issue military bed, used by so many soldiers that it must have had a permanent indent. Medics in grey and gold robes hovered around the beds, checking the charts of the patients before moving on, though they were giving Gulmont’s bed a surprisingly large berth.

The reason was obvious. Sitting in a plain wooden chair beside his bed sat a large man in full, glistening Lieutenant’s armour. His hair was closely cut and in his upper lip was a large and bushy moustache. His piercing green eyes glared at Gulmont disapprovingly from under a brow that seemed to carry the weight of the world. He had his arms folded in a reproachful manner, quietly waiting for Gulmont to acknowledge his presence.

Gulmont ignored the man for a good while, playing the silent game, waiting to see which one of them would break first. In the end the outcome was predetermined, there was no way Gulmont could let such an opportunity pass him by, and if he was going to have to spend the next hour or so being yelled at he was going to make the most of it.

With a roguish smirk he turns his head to the Lieutenant, his eyes glistening with boyish humour. “The hell is that on your face?” He asks, barely suppressing his laughter. Gorban’s stoic face didn’t move a muscle, keeping calm and dignified throughout Gulmont’s mocking. “It looks like a giant caterpillar decided to get on up and sit on your lip.”

Gorban continued to stare at Gulmont until his giggle fit had subsided, his intense gaze not leaving his face. “Are you quite finished?” The Lieutenant asked in a gruff voice, his annoyance clear. Gulmont cringed and moved the covers higher over himself so that they reached his chin, looking quite guilty now.

“You quit,” Gorban states matter of factly, his voice not wavering. “You just handed in your resignation without a moment’s notice and walked out. Not even a word of thanks or goodbye.” He doesn’t sound particularly hurt of upset over this, he’s merely staring the facts like he were in a cort proceeding or about to interrogate a suspect.

“Yeah, I did,” Gulmont confirms, leaning his head back against the bed. He looks up at the ceiling once more, not a trace of remorse on his face. More of a sense of resignation to the yelling at he was about to receive. But it never came. Gorban simply nods, remaining quiet for a long while.

The clock ticks on, minute after minute of awkward silence. Gulmont shifts in the bed, already uncomfortable and in pain the silence wasn’t doing much to improve his mood. He had just decided to go back to sleep again when Gorban broke the silence with one penetrating word. “Why?”

Why? Now that was a question, one Gulmont had thought over for long hours while sitting in lonely taverns or hanging around in trees with nothing but his thought to keep him company. Why had he left the first institution that had felt like home to him? Why had he thrown everything away and walked out without so much as a passing glance? The answer was both complicated and simple.
Rubbing the back of his neck he answers his old colleague honestly, a wry smile on his face, “It’s difficult to explain.”

Gorban was having none of that, reaching out a finger, he goes to poke lightly at Gulmont’s shoulders that were still sore from his last ordeal, punctuating every poke with a word. “Why. Did. You. Leave?”

Gulmont lets out a little yelp each time he is poked, rubbing his shoulders defectively when Gorban retracts his finger. “Easy there, I’m an invalid ya know!” Gorban raises an eyebrow and extends his finger once more, causing Gulmont to throw his hands up in defeat. “A’ight a’ight! I give.”

Gorban settles back down into the chair and Gulmont gets as comfortable as possible before he starts to talk, his tone low and sombre. He talks long into the night, Gorban listening to every word he says, nodding his head lightly when appropriate. There’s a long pause when Gulmont finishes his tale, Gornan stroking his impressive moustache.

The Lieutenant eventually gets to his feet, nodding to Gulmont once. “Thank you for telling me,” The man says before turning to leave, heavy boots clapping on the infirmary floor. Gulmont watches the man go, a sad and nostalgic smile on his face. The two would never be friends again, that much was clear, but at least they could be civil to one another, whatever that was worth.
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Moira and the Ghost

Moira was pacing, back and forth, back and forth. She’d been doing this so much you’d have thought she’d have made an indent in the ground. The fire crackled merrily in the grate, though Moira’s mood was anything but merry. She’d been pacing for what must have been the last five hours, her husband, Albert, had been pacing for the five hours before her. He had since gone to bed and left Moira to take over his shift. They were taking the pacing in turns, each one getting as much sleep as they could in between. They could have left this up to the nanny, but they didn’t want to. They wanted this time.

There was a reason for their pacing; they weren’t doing it just for the sake of it, the reason being the little bundle of blankets in Moira’s arms. The baby lay crying, she had been for the past day or so, and neither of them had been able to make her stop. They didn’t know what they were doing wrong. They were tired and concerned and had all in all just about had enough.

It was at times like these that doubt entered Moira’s mind about raising a child that was not her own. Would her baby have been crying for days on end with no sign of stopping? Would her child be the sweet darling that she had always dreamed of? She didn’t know the answer, and she never would. Even now, with this child in her arms she grieved for her loss, She had carried that child inside her womb, helped it grow, gotten attached, then had it cruelly taken from her.

But then she remembered the baby in her arms. In such a short time this baby had filled her life with joy and she would do anything to make sure that she was safe. In her darkest moments this child had been the one to raise her spirits and make her smile again. So no, she did not let the doubts linger, she swept them from her mind in a matter of moments, focusing on the one in her arms. The one who was still crying.

Oh why were you crying little one? Why couldn’t you just go to sleep?

The baby of course did not answer other than to cry some more. Moira rocked the baby gently, patting her on the back. Was she hungry? No, she’d eaten fairly recently. Did she need changing? No, testing the nappy proved that she was as clean as a whistle.

Oh what do you want little one!?

A cold wind blew through the room, blowing out the candles and fire that lit the room. The temperature dropped in an alarming amount of time, misty clouds forming in front of Moira’s face when she breathed out. The windows froze over, a crystalline pattern forming over the glass. But what was strangest of all was that Moira couldn’t shake the sudden feeling of being watched, as if something, or someone, were watching her. But there was no one else in the room with her other than the baby. At this hour the maids had all retired to their beds. She had dismissed the nanny for the night and Albert was sleeping in their bed upstairs.

With a shudder, Moira crossed the room to place the baby delicately back in her crib, the mobile swinging slightly in the breeze. With the baby safely in her bed, though still crying, Moira made her way over to the fire place, finding a match box on the mantle and striking it with a match. The match let forth a light, red glow of fire before she threw it into the fire place. She expected to have to prod the fire into light, but instead it flared up in a big blue ball of unnatural flame. The dowsed candles sparking into life as it does so, all adorned in a ghostly blue flame.

Moira let out a shriek of fright, though for some reason, the baby stopped crying immediately. When Moira eventually got over her scare and no other strange goings on presented themselves, she walked back over to the baby, picking her up and going to sit down on a nearby chair. She glances cautiously around the room before setting her eyes down on the baby, looking at her n wonder. She had stopped crying, she was still awake, but she had stopped crying.

It was then Moira heard a voice, or at least she thought she did. A voice that was soft and kind, whispering in her ear, singing in fact. As if under some sort of spell, Moira sang the song, her voice not quite as up to par as the one whispering in her ear, but it seemed to do the job. The baby was soon sleeping soundly, the blue flames flickering silently in their holdings.

It was not long after that Moira herself drifted off to sleep, cradling the baby in her arms. She was found by the nanny in the early hours of the morning, though she did not disturb her. By this time the fire had returned to its original colour, the room its original temperature and the ice on the windows had melted in the warm Krytan heat.
All seemed to be well to the spirit who quietly watched over them, a small, roguish smile on his lips. He kept by the baby’s side for the rest of his time in that form, ever vigilant, the silent guardian, never leaving her side. Every now and again the baby would look over in his direction, as if she knew that someone who loved her was there. But she couldn’t really know, or at least the spirit didn’t think she could. In the end it didn’t really matter. All that did matter was that she was safe and happy, and with him around she always would be.
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A Night At The Lodge

Stars sprinkled the night sky over the hunting lodge, crickets singing quietly in the tall grass of the forest around it. The velvet blanket of night covered everything, the only light being the flickering flames of the lanterns in the lodge’s windows.

Clockk sat comfortably in one of the red chairs in front of the bookcases, well enough away from the bar so that the few patrons that have not retired to their beds don’t disturb him. In his hands rests large leather bound book, its pages old and yellowing, seeming to be ancient, as is the slightest breeze would render its pages to dust. Nifar rests on his lap, long since drifted off to sleep, safe and warm in his arms.

Clockk mutters quietly to himself as he scans the page, his constant scowl deepening with every word he reads. Clearly he doesn’t agree with whatever the author has written on the subject of the book, his dissatisfaction growing with each passing moment.

Nifar mumbles something in her sleep, something that sounds like, “No, that’s silly, not the right stuffs.” Clockk glowers down at her, setting the book on the arm of the chair and resting his hands gently down on her little head. He begins to absentmindedly stroke her hair, muttering to himself as he leans back against the head rest, his tuft poking out over the top of the chair.

The night moves on, the remaining patrons slowly retiring to their beds, leaving Clockk and Nifar the completely alone. Clockk had the idea to get to bed himself, but he found himself unwilling to disturb Nif’s slumber. So instead he closed his eyes, getting himself comfortable for a night of sleeping on the chair.

The door of the lodge banged open, a clod breeze billowing through the room, extinguishing some of the lanterns. Clockk clenches his teeth in aggravation, turning his head to glare at the door and whoever has the audacity to interrupt him, his ears flopping as he does so.

Gulmont wanders calmly into the lodge, his keen eyes instinctively glancing over every inch of the room, picking out every detail. He takes a few steps into the room, frowning slightly at the unusual quiet. He hasn’t seen the lodge this empty for a while and he finds it a bit odd. As soon as he sees Clockk, he cringes, the scowling Asura’s beady eyes gouging into him.

Despite his laid back demeanour, Clockk instantly picks up on Gul’s mood. He’s known him for too long to not be able to pick up on the farce of Gulmont’s easy going attitude; He sees how heavy his footsteps are, like a great weight has been put on his shoulders, one he cannot shake.

Walking carefully up to Clockk, Gulmont inclines his head slightly in greeting, giving him a small smile. Clockk simply scowls back, a curl of the lip the only way he acknowledges Gulmont being there. He watches quietly as Gulmont sits on the chair opposed, squirming around to make himself comfortable before giving up and sitting on the floor instead.

Clockk frowns, then says in his clipped and irritated voice, “Oh get up off of the floor you degenerate, you’re making the place look untidy.”

Gulmont flashes Clockk a cheeky grin, laying his legs out in front of him. “Naw, it’s more comfortable here,” he says before giving Clockk a wink.

Clockk’s eye twitches in annoyance, grating his teeth together before he lets out a sigh of unmitigated frustration. “Fine, catch your death then, see if I care.” He then folds his arms, shrugging his shoulders, looking to be pouting.

Gulmont chuckles slightly, shaking his head as he leans back, looking up at the ceiling with a faraway expression on his face. After a moment he closes his eyes, letting out a tired sigh as he runs a hand through his unkempt hair.

With a gasp of exasperation, Clockk snaps, “WHAT!? Spit it out already!” Nifar doesn’t move an inch from her resting place, giggling slightly as she talks in her sleep.

Gulmont blinks in surprise, first looking to Nif to see if Clockk’s woken her up, then to the Asura himself, a confused look on his face. “What are you on about?”

With a sneer, Clockk waves his hand in Gulmont’s general direction, a vein throbbing in his forehead. “Whatever it is that’s gotten you so upset. Come on now, hurry it up, I don’t have all night!”

Gulmont stares at him for a moment, then chuckles self-deprecatingly. The older Asura always had been able to see right through him, though he was a bit of an open book. He pauses, moving his jaw back and forth in thought, trying to come up with the best way to say what’s on his mind.

Clockk drums his fingers on his arm impatiently, his eye twitching in annoyance. “Hurry up!” He bellows, causing Gulmont to jump.

“Alright alrigt!” Gulmont cringes, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. “I have this friend….”

“And!?” Clockk urges on, waving his hands for him to continue.

“I’m getting there!” Gulmont protests, taking a breath to steady himself. “She’s….She’s gone off with a few dangerous people, people who’ll hurt her.” He pauses, trying to get his bearings, but the impatient sigh from Clockk urges him on. “I’m afraid she’s going to become like them, last I saw her she didn’t seem to be holding up too well. I want to help, but I don’t know how.”

Clockk rubs his eyes, as if trying to prevent himself from getting a head ache. “Did this friend ask for your help?” Clockk asks, as if the answer were obvious.

Gulmont shuffles where he sits, like a child being scowled.” Well, no but…”

“Then you do nothing,” Clockk snaps immediately, cutting him off. “If it is something you do not agree with, wipe your hands of this so called friend. You’ll be better off without them anyway.”

“But what if she…!?” Gulmont pipes up again, but is cut off once more.

“There is no but, if she did not ask for your help, and help that you try to give will only be a bother. Besides, your kind of help often just makes things worse.”

Gulmont falls silent, apparently not being able to argue with that assessment. He puts his head in his hands, conflicted and confused, not at all sure what he should be doing.

“Leave it be bookah,” Clockk states. “There’s nothing you can do.”

“What is she hurts someone?” Gulmont whispers.

“Then so be it, they are her mistakes to make, if whatever she’s gotten herself in ends badly, it’ll be on her head.” With a curl of his lip, Clockk delicately picks Nifar up, cradling her in his arms as she drools on his shoulder.

Gulmont looks up at him, almost pleading for answers in a small, desperate voice. “I don’t want to lose a friend.”

Clockk gets up from the chair and heads for the stairs, holding Nifar like she were a precious gemstone. “By the sound of it you already have. Move on, there’s nothing more you can do.”

Gulmont does not watch Clockk and Nifar disappear up the stairs to bed, instead he sits quietly, wallowing in his own grief. After a while he heads for the door, stepping out into the night.
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