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Gulmont's Character stories. Comments welcome.

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The Road to the East:
Chapter Nine

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

Spoiler: Show

Posted Dec 27, 17 · OP
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The Road to the East:
Chapter Ten

The Order made their way down the slope that met the Priory bridge, looking out at the valley below them. The tops of trees could be seen poking out from beneath the mist, but the world was otherwise a blanket of cold clouds that prevented the valley floor from being seen.
Gulmont lead the way, much to Clockk’s annoyance, dismissing any need for maps, the usual argument commencing. At some point the man had changed out of his lighter leathers into heavy furs that were as white as the world around them, making him blend in almost perfectly if he were to hide.
Argyle too had changed into warmer gear, exchanging his elegant orange coat for a dark black one that looked particularly cosy in the bitter chill of the mountains. He still moved like he was frozen solid, but it seemed more appropriate up here.
Clockk was still clad in his usual armour, but whatever heat system was running through it must have been turned up all the way, as the snow melted before him in an instant. Once it was out of Clockk warm aura, it froze back up again, but the Asura was doing an adequate job of clearing a path for them.
The road going forward could hardly be considered a road, it was mostly black dirt that had not been completely covered by the snow. It was unclear how the road was still here after so long, but soon it didn’t seem to matter much, as the further away from the Priory they went the less of the road they saw.
Instead they became more focused on the perilous drops all around them. The road wound around the craggy mountain tops, often becoming so narrow that they had to pass one at a time, hugging the rock and hoping against hope that the ground didn’t give out beneath them and send them plummeting to their doom.
The nights were long here, with daylight sparse. It made navigation hard and Gulmont could often be heard wishing Rheya were among them. “She knows these mountains better than me,” he would say as he stubbornly refused Clockk’s map. “I can get us to Ascalon, but I bet she’d know a quicker way.”
Finding caves to camp in didn’t prove to be very difficult, there were so many rocky outcroppings that finding shelter from the winds was relatively easy. The difficult thing was not being blown off the mountain top in their sleep by the force of the winds.
The worst part of the journey was the blizzards. This high into the mountains the blizzards were harsh and plentiful. They came seemingly out of nowhere, the gales sending what felt like razor sharp fangs of ice into their faces. Everything around them became white, and they could hardly make out their hands in front of their faces. More often or not they found they had to stop and camp to wait until the blizzards passed.
For anyone who wasn’t a Norn, camping in the Shiverpeaks was miserable. Everyone was cold and wet. It was hard to start a fire most of the time, which meant that food consisted mostly of dried and salted cold meats that Gulmont had brought with him, and they soon ran out. At night the winds howled, and the order found they had to keep huddled together to preserve body heat. Clockk’s heated armour came in useful once again in these instances, much to his chagrin.
Once the food ran out, Gulmont and Argyle would go out to hunt, but there were few creatures in this region to hunt, so they ended up going hungry a lot of the time, rationing what little food they were able to gather.
Soon however the road ahead began to decline, things became less rocky, and it was clear the worst of it was over, even if the road did disappear completely, getting covered by snow. The mountains became further apart, with wide stretches of frozen land separating them.
As they continued, deer, moa and even dolyak began to appear, and the order was able to fill their bellies on whatever they could catch. It was after one such feast that Gulmont announced that they had made it through Lornar’s pass and were now in Snowden Drifts.
For the first few days, Snowden Drifts certainly earned its name. It was nothing but mile long snow drifts with the occasional frosted pine tree that had somehow managed to grow out here in this unforgiving landscape.
While the path had vanished, there had been a few torches set up to guide travellers along the path, but the torches had long since been extinguished. It was perhaps a little pointless to have them out here at all, as no sooner had they been lit, they were blown out again by a sudden bitter gust of wind.
They eventually reached the Lion Road, the main trade route through Tyria. Here the road was surprisingly well maintained, with cobble stones that were very visible, with only a smattering of snow and weeds between them.
During the first day upon reaching the Lion Road, they came upon Snowdrift Haven, and thought it best to spend the night behind the safety of the Lionguard’s walls, restocking on supplies from merchants going to and from Lion’s Arch while selling off the things they no longer needed.
After resting up, the Order was on the move again, finding the trip to be much easier now that there was a real road to walk along, one that was even busy with merchants and travellers not unlike themselves.
It wasn’t long after leaving Snowden Haven that things began to take a turn for the worse once again however. In the distance, like that jaws of Jormag itself, pillars of ice rose up, its menacing black and startling blue marring the landscape.
They weren’t three hours out of Snowden Haven before they found their path blocked by the Lionguard.
“Hold there, travellers,” said am authoritative female voice. “I can’t let you go any further.”
The Lionguard that approached them was tall, so tall that Gulmont almost mistook her for a Norn. She looked to be somewhere in her mid-forties, smile lines already forming around her mouth, and a few crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes.
Her frame was muscular, her face hard, like a warrior that had seen her fair share of combat. This was not a woman that would have fit into a pretty dress, and seemed more suited to the heavy plate armour she was clad in.
Her skin was tanned, marking her as someone of Krytan decent, possible someone who had lived in Lion’s Arch all her life. She certainly didn’t seem fit for the cold, as she shivered ever so slightly, and looked as though she had to keep her teeth from chattering.
Her hair was styled into a neatly trimmed Mohawk, her helm resting at her side as she observed the group approaching, her violet eyes narrowed, not in suspicion, but in very clear caution.
"Aww man... don't tell me Svanir guys are blocking the roads again..." Kharn grumbled. He was tired, cold and in no mood to get into a fight.
“Exactly it, I’m afraid,” The Lionguard nodded to Kharn, shrugging her shoulders a little, looking largely indifferent. “They set up camp on the road two days ago and have been making sacrifices of travellers to the dragon.”
Argyle flinched a little, his visage shimmering. He began to mutter under his breath to himself quietly.
“Well, you’re the Lionguard, aren’t you!?” Clockk pointed out, stepping forward. “You’re supposed to deal with these kinds of thing!”
“I can’t, I’m afraid,” she said, shaking her head. “The Lionguard are spread out as it is, we’re still…” She then broke off, coughing heavily, almost doubling over with the force of it.
"Sick?” Kharn asked. “Whoa, must be bad if th' whole 'guard are down with it."
The Lionguard looked as though she’s trying to reply, but the coughing stopped her.
“Scarlet’s Rattle?” Gulmont asked, his eyes narrowed a little.
She nodded in reply, taking a deep breath.
"I saw one of those once,” Kharn mentioned. “Bit me."
Gulmont cringed, but the woman only laughed.
“It’s a lung condition,” she explained, “Caused by the miasma that was used in the attack on Lion’s Arch a few years back. We suffered heavy losses in that battle, and we’re still recovering, so all we can do if guard the roads and make sure people don’t wander into a trap.”
"Oohh.... right... that Scarlets Rattle. I thought you meant a snake". Kharn rubbed the back of his head, knocking his goggles off in the process.
“Look, uh…” Gulmont held out a hand for the Lionguard to introduce herself.
“Lionguard Constance Tyme,” she said.
“Right, Lionguard Tyme. Look, we really need to get through here, and we’re kind of experts in dealing with Dragon minions, so if you’d like us to take care of it,” Gulmont continues, looking back at the others with a grin. “It’s been a while since we gave the Svanir a good thrashing. What do you guys say?”
"CHOO"! Kharn sneezed, giving a thumbs up.
"Well, I guess we have too, seen as someone is too incompetent to do their job properly," Said Clockk.
Constance glared at the Asura.
Kharn clamped a paw over Clockk's mouth and grinned at the Lionguard. "He means we'd be happy to help! Right guys? Yeah! WOO! Let's go kick ass!"
Argyle nodded as Clockk tried to say something, but Kharn's massive paw almost encompassed his head completely, stopping him from saying another word.
Constance sighed, “I can’t let you all go alone, it would be a dereliction of my duty.”
“Oh, like you’ve not done that already,” Clockk grumbled as he wriggled out of Kharn’s hold, earing himself another glare from the Lionguard.
Gulmont shrugged, “You’re free to come along, this shouldn’t take long though.”
Constance frowned, dubious of Gulmont’s confidence.
As the Order walked ahead the corrupted ice became more prevalent. Great sheets of it covered the road, pulsating ominously. The strange light it emitted was violent shades of black, purple and blue, and seemed to be spreading like a fungus across the ground.
Constance kept on her guard, looking around cautiously, her hand on the mace at her side. She slipped her helm onto her head, her teeth chattering in the cold, much to her chagrin. She hated this cold and dearly wished she could return to the warmth of Lion’s Arch.
Gulmont on the other hand seemed completely unperturbed, his hands folded behind his head, a spring in his step and a song on his lips. He hummed merrily as he walked along, showing no sign that he was worried in any way at all about the danger they were walking towards.
As Dragon Banners begun to come into view, dotting the road here and there, announcing the presence of the Svanir far before they even reached the Norn’s camp, Clockk’s scowl deepened. He started to kick down the banners, muttering to himself as they went.
The Svanir camp soon came into view, though it wasn’t anything as grant ad intimidating as something like Blasted Haven. It was more subdued, consisting of only a few large fires with around ten Svanir sitting around them.
The Icebrood were the things that concerned Gulmont more. The creatures towered over the Svanir, lumbering around like monoliths brought to life by the dragon’s power. While they might have at one point been flesh and blood, they were now beings made entirely of ice.
Argyle stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes going wide. It looked as though he were about to have another panic attack, like the one that had come over him the day they had left the Priory. His hands began to shake and his breathing became erratic, but it didn’t last.
Argyle steeled himself to the fear bubbling up inside of him, he locked it away behind a partition in his mind, chained and padlocked in a box that he refused to open, at least for now. Once the battle was over, he knew he would have to acknowledge the terror, but that was something yet to come to pass.
Gulmont crouched behind a rock, gesturing to the others to come over.
“What now?” Constance asked.
"Now the fun starts"! Kharn grinned as he unsheathed his heavily modified greatsword, giving it a tender pat as he adjusted the settings on the dials near the hilt. The blade began to hum and glow a soft blue, akin to the corruption of Jormag.
“And what is that?” Constance added, flinching away from the blade.
Clockk crossed his arms, looking smug, but passed up the opportunity to brag in favour of letting Kharn explain.
"This is my Brander Buster Mk.7.7!” The Charr said. “'specially designed to take on dragon minions of all stripes. See, all dragon magic emits at a certain wavelength or frequency. What the B.B. does is take that signal, reverses its polarity an' shoots out an anti-draconic energy beam that messes with that specific dragon types' energy signature, causing it to disintegrate at a molecular level!"
Constance blinked, “And can I get that in New Krytan?”
Kharn looked at Constance's bewildered face and added, "It makes 'em 'splode real good! OH! An' don't worry about gettin' hit. The beam is harmless to anything other than that signature. I tested it myself. Unless you got Jormag corruption in ya, it should pass through you no probs."
“Good enough for me,” Constance said after he’d finished with his explanation.
Gulmont snickered, notching an arrow. “I think we’ve waiting long enough,” he said, swinging his arm over the rock they were crouched behind and letting out a yell as he released the arrow. “Dragonbane ho!”
The arrow sored into the air, higher and higher, until it disappeared amongst the sunlight. A split second later, at the pinnacle of its arc, the arrow plummeted to the ground ,whistling as it cut through the air around it.
The arrow embedded itself in one of the Svanir, through the back of the hulking Norn’s neck. He fell forward, letting out a gargling noise as he landed face first in the fire, the flames licking at his flesh and blood pooled around him.
The rest of the Svanir sprung to their feet, looking around wildly. “Who dares to challenge the servants of Dragon!?” one called out, dressed in the garb of a shaman. “All who face us are doomed to fail!”
Kharn followed Gulmont's lead and aimed the B.B at one of the Icebrood.
The lumbering beast noticed the commotion and turned to face the fallen Svanir... right before a bright blue beam slammed right into its chest. It uttered a roar as the beams' energies wracked through it, causing what could almost be described as a burn tearing a hole through the upper torso. It fell to the ground but wasn’t entirely dead. The lower half still kicked.
"Hrmm... gotta up the power a titch..." Kharn muttered, turning another knob. The blue glow intensified, as did the hum.
Constance’s eyes widened, her mouth agape as she watched the colossal icebrood fall to the ground.
“This is the part where we attack, Lionguard,” Clockk said, giving Constance a patronising glare. “In case it wasn’t obvious and you’re quite done making a fool of yourself.”
The Asura then drew his greatsword from his back and charged around the rock, leaping into the fray.
There was a howl from somewhere within the camp, and a pack of Icebrood wolves appeared, salivating and foaming at the mouths, their saliva freezing and forming icicles around their gaping maws.
Clockk swung his blade around his head, gripping it with both hands as his slammed the weapon into one of the creatures, cleaving it in two before turning on the next. Clockk flailing around with a weapon twice his size might have been comical, if it wasn’t so deadly.
The icebrood wolves shattered, but there was no blood to splatter the earth and stain the snow, it was all already frozen, like the black hearts of the creatures that were felled, their bodies landing in splintered piles.
"Don't mind Tokkers, he's just bad with people. Here, wanna try"? Kharn said, holding out his blade to Constance.
“I think I had better concentrate on not getting myself killed instead,” Constance said as she poked her head over the rock, more than a little concerned about how nonchalant Kharn seemed now that they’d drawn attention to themselves.
As if on cue, the Shavin pinpointed the Dragonbane’s position, the shaman pointing a finger at the rock where they hid. “There! Destroy these weaklings, show them the power that Dragon has granted us, use it to crush them!”
"eep". Kharn squeaked before cloning himself and launching said clones at the Shaman.
“Whay? Who?” Constance asked as Kharn exploded into multiple versions of himself, only to watch each one shatter into a million pieces and more take up their place, all shooting at the shaman who does his best to block their blows.
Kharn cloned himself more after the initial wave has shattered, hoping to mask which is the true Kharn. "Might wanna move there, Contrived."
The Shaman can’t keep up with the endless assault of Kharn clones however, each one wracking his mind with pain that he doesn’t physically feel. The Svanir let out a cry of agony before his brain shut down and he crumpled to the floor.
The Shaman was just one Norn in a camp full of them however. The Svanir pushed forward, ignoring Clockk, satisfied that the Icebrood Wolves were keeping him occupied, and turning their attention to the other Dragonbanes.
Constance griped her mace in her hand, letting out a war cry as she vaulted over the rock and ran into the fray. The Norn were more than a head taller than her though, so she focused on swinging her mace into their knee caps, breaking them and watching them stumble down to her level before cracking their heads open, their heads getting caved in.
As the battle raged, Argyle became enveloped in a bright light, so bright that it was blinding. The Svanir had to raise their hands to their eyes to shield them from the light as the Soundless Sylvari exploded into a kaleidoscope of every colour of the spectrum.
Within the orb of light, the orange suit he was wearing disappeard, the fabric shattering like glass, only to be replaced by leaves that were as strong as steel, that burst from the centre of his chest to cover his torso and legs.
Thorns grew from his wrists, covering his hands and crawling up his arms, each jagged spike glowing the same colour as is own glow. The thorns moved up to his shoulder blades, where two great leaves grew and cascaded down his back like a cape.
Leaves began to sprout and wrap around his feet, then began to climb up his legs and harden into a material akin to bark, yet a bark that was as strong as plate. When the bark reached his waist, it blossomed into leaves and fell down the back of his legs to join the cape at his shoulder blades.
Argyle then threw his head back, his leaf like hair flourishing in a breeze that was not really there. Fabric billowed out from his sternum and traveled up to is head, covering his head in a hood that connected to the leaf like cape.
The transformation was over in a blink of an eye, and in that blink, Argyle reappeared, the suit he wore replaced by his armour.
He drew his revolver from its holster, just as a Icebrood Colossus stomped into the battle field.
Argyle fired on the creature, the chaos bullet tearing towards it and slamming into the block of ice, creating cracks along its form.
Argyle then blinked, reappearing exactly where the bullet sunk in. He plunged his blade into the crack, then blinked away again, just in time to dodge one of the creature’s huge spiked arms.
He reappeard again, this time in mid-air, above the creature, firing upon it. The next bullet sinked in, splintering the ice further. The crack only worsened as Argyle disappeared and reappeared yet again, impaling the creature on his blade in exactly the same spot as the bullet sunk itself.
He kept on disappearing and reappearing, dodging the Colossus as it flailed around, trying to hit him, each time firing upon it and impaling it a heartbeat later, until the Colossus could take no more.
With a groan it fell to the ground, shards of ice falling everywhere as it came apart, the chunks shattering on impact with the ground.
“So much blinking,” Gulmont grumbled as he notched another arrow and poked his head over the rock, finding a charging Svanir and firing, the arrow landing squarely in the Norn’s eye. “Mesmers,” he sighed, shaking his head.
At that moment, a bellow of rage rang through the air, and a mound of hulking ice in the shape of a person emerged from the snow drifts. Jagged horns erupted from his head, and his eyes glowed with an eerily blue light.
“Goliath!” Gulmont called out as the creature swung its gigantic mace into the ground, causing the world around it him to tremble.
“Don’t just yell about it!” Clockk hollered. “Converge!”
And so the Order did, with blade and magic, the air filling with the sounds of battle.
The Goliath was nothing against the combined wrath of the Dragonbane Order. It let out a groan as it fell, chunks of the creature sliding to the ground, cut cleanly in two.
With the fall of the Goliath, The Svanir retreated, running for the hills as quickly as they could, yelling back promises of vengeance.
“Big talk for a load of fools who just got destroyed!” Clockk yelled back, looking smug.
“I must admit,” Constance said, shouldering her mace as he huffed and puffed. “I underestimated you.”
“You should have known better,” Clockk pointed out, looking down his nose at her.
Constance let his remark pass with a shake of her head. “With the Svanir removed I’ll need to report back to the Haven. I think it’s safe to say you can pass now.”
Gulmont gave her a lopsided smile. “Pleasure fighting beside you, Lionguard,” he said, extending a hand.
“I think I can say the same,” Constance nodded, taking his hand and giving it a shake so firm Gulmont was sure she could have broken his hand with little effort.
He took his hand back, giving it a shake to get the feeling back into it. “Right, well, I suppose we’d better get going. Bloomy paths, Lionguard.”
“And may Balthazar guide your blade,” Constance nodded, giving Gulmont a grin.
Gulmont wasn’t sure how to react to that, so instead turned on his heel, saying to the others, “Common, let’s get going.”
With that the Order moved on, heading deeper into the Shiverpeaks.

Spoiler: Show

Posted Apr 13, 18 · OP
Wintersday in a Coma

For hospitals, Wintersday is just another day, and like any other day, people are born, people die, people catch coals and become unhealthy, and people get healthy again and leave to join their families once again.
The staff of the Vanguard Hospital had been on their feet all day, which wasn’t anything unusual. Some were in the middle of twelve hour shifts while others were just beginning theirs, all were doing what they could to care for the patients in their charge however.
It was when the door was flung open and the flaming red hair of the Minister of Beetletun drew people’s attention that the monotonous daily routine was disturbed. With her blue clothes and her hard features, she was a sight to behold, and doctors and nurses both found themselves stopping to watch her.
It was only those that had to talk to her that cringed or groaned. Rosalynd Havashem was a hard woman to please, and the staff had learned that the hard way. She fussed and asked questions, demanding results and giving each one of them an icy glare.
None of them really blamed her for it, and many had to admit she was often far more pleasant than their patients, but having your every move questioned when you were a professional, and knew what you were doing, got a little grating over time.
Rose made her way to the room that had been set aside, the room that had been almost abandoned. People still check in on it of course, and the patient within, but they’d seen this kind of case before, they were not holding out hope for recovery.
Machiavelli Cavalli lay in the bed within, tubes connected to his wrists and nose, and a few other places, judging by the mass of equipment that sat beside him. He looked as though he was sleeping, almost looked peaceful, but something deeper was going on under the surface.
Machiavelli Cavalli would not wake, he had refused to wake for a month now. His mind had caved in on itself and refused to crawl its way up from the depths of his subconscious, instead pulling him further down into the darkness.
The machinery beeped and whirred beside him, making him look sickly and pale. His tanned features had turned almost white, and his face had become gaunt. It was as though the man had aged ten years.
Machiavelli’s family had long since left for the day, when visiting hours had come to an end, but Emilia was still here. She was always here, by her employer’s side, loyal to a fault. It wasn’t as if she had anyone to go home to this time of year.
Rose gave a small nod to Emilia as she entered, a light smile of acknowledgement tugging as her rosy lips.
Emilia returned the nod from her seat at the other end of the room, where she had surrounded herself in paperwork and ink pots. She watched as Rose sat down beside Machiavelli, her beautiful crimson hair falling over her shoulders, only to be pushed back behind her ear.
Then Emilia listened to Rose speak, telling Machiavelli about how her day had been, about what was going on within the Ministry, and what she was trying to accomplish in the position she had found herself in.
It was said that coma patients could hear the voices of those that came to see them, but Emilia wasn’t sure if that was true. If it was, Machiavelli would have heard her say a number of things she wasn’t really sure she wanted him to know.
She found it comforting to talk to her employer, like Rose was doing now, even in the state he was in. It was comforting to have someone there that could not answer back, could not give their opinion or judgment, and while she could not admit it to herself, it was comforting to talk to Machiavelli in a friendly manner, in an affectionate manner, in a manner he would have never allowed her to talk to him in if he was awake.
Emilia continued to listen to Rose talk, up until the moment she brought up the Wintersday ball, the ball that Machiavelli had been unable to go to. He wouldn’t have really enjoyed it even if he were awake to go, but he had made preparations, preparations Emilia had only found out about after his accident.
She opened a draw in the desk that she had brought into Machiavelli’s hospital room, glancing over the little blue box with the little blue bow that she’d kept hidden there, a feeling of guilt and envy over coming her.
She was ashamed for keeping the gift from Rose, but she couldn’t help it, something had compelled her to steal the box away for herself. She’d seen how hard Machiavelli had worked on the gift, and was foolish enough to hope it had been for her.
But it had not been. Machiavelli had signed Rose’s name on the tag, just a day before the Harvest Dinner attack. He’d placed the steel brooch rose within the box, after working on it for at least two weeks. He tied the bow around the box, and he’d hidden it away within his own desk.
After the attack, Emilia had become curious. She’d gone into her boss’s desk to look at the box, and had cried for an hour afterwards when she found that it wasn’t for her. The box had an invitation to the Wintersday ball within the box, tucked under the rose brooch.
He’d been planning to ask Rose to go with him, but now no longer could.
The guilt and pain of it all had finally gotten too much for Emilia. When the Minister got up from her seat by the bed and crossed the room to give Emilia the care package she brought the secretary daily, Emilia handed over the box.
“He was planning to give it to you sooner,” she explained, fighting past the lump in her throat. “But he didn’t get the opportunity…”
Emilia trailed off, looking over Rose’s shoulder to the man in the bed behind her. Perhaps he would forgive her, if he ever woke up. Perhaps she would tell him how she felt, even if he didn’t return her feelings.
If he woke up. But for now, Machiavelli wasn’t aware that it was Wintersday, he wasn’t aware of a great many things.

Posted Sun at 02:16 pm · OP
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Waking from a Coma

Everything was foggy, as if he was lost in a mist, his head heavy from a weight that he couldn’t quite shake. His body felt heavy too, his limbs feeling as though they were made from stone that was impossible to lift.
Machiavelli slowly began to open his eyes. That was hard enough as it was, it was as if he had gone blind and his lids refused to open, but he pushed through the difficulties, his lashes brushing against his skin as they fluttered open.
The light was harsh and bright, so bright that he wanted to close his eyes again. It hurt more than it should have done, feeling as though a great pressure was building up within his skull the more he looked at the light.
His eyes soon adjusted however, soon accumulated to the light, and that same light became easier to manage. He blinked, trying to remember where he was and how he’d gotten there, but it was all such a whirlwind of colours and sounds.
Instead he focused on the room he was in. it was white, very white in fact, the kind of white that was made to look sterile. His bed sheets were white as well, as was the hospital gown he was dressed in, which was a really big clue, if he was being honest with himself.
It all came flooding back then, the memories of what must have been the day before. There was screaming and fire, a great metal beast with horrible twisted horns that ripped through his flesh and bone, piercing a hole in his chest.
As the memories returned, so too did the tide of panic that had overcome him. He looked down at himself, looking for the hole in his chest, for the blood that would have stained all the pristine white he was adorned in.
But there was none, no hole and no blood, nothing to indicate that he had been hurt at all. There were wires and tubes however, pumping fluid into his veins, and pushed up in his nose. He would have removed them, but he was too weak.
With the sense of panic came the sense of isolation. He was alone, with not a soul that cared, stuffed into some hospital bed and left there. Did anyone even know he was here? He couldn’t answer that question, the words wouldn’t come.
It was in those first few minutes of confusion and fear that he felt truly alone for the first time in a very long time. He was a man who valued his privacy, who valued his solitude, but now he realised that in his bid to keep control of every aspect of his life, he had pushed everyone away.
It was then that the door to Machiavelli’s hospital room opened and Emilia walked through, a bottle of water in her hand. She had stepped out for but a moment to get a drink and missed the very reason she had been staying here.
Their eyes locked, her blue with his brown, and Emilia gasped, the bottled water falling from her hands as she reached up to cover her mouth in surprise, moisture forming at the corners of her eyes as the water spilt on the floor.
Emilia ran forward, letting out a soft moan of relief as she flung her arms around Machiavelli, sobbing into his chest as he grunted in pain, too weak to tell her that she was hurting him as the tears ran down her cheeks.
He would have stroked her hair, tried to reassure her if he could, but he couldn’t find the strength. He felt as though he could go back to sleep, but something kept him from drifting off again, a clawing fear that he wouldn’t wake up again, or that if he did wake up, he would be within the jaws of some monster.
Again he tried to speak, but he couldn’t. All he was able to do was lie there as his secretary dried her eyes and called out for a doctor, her usually calm and collected voice sounding shrill and desperate. It was very strange to Machiavelli’s ears.
He wasn’t by himself though, that was something. Yet even with Emilia here, he still felt a suffocating fear, and still felt the painful, inescapable claws of loneliness.

Posted Sun at 02:17 pm · OP
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A House to Himself

When Machiavelli awoke, he felt a distinct absence. The presence that he’d gotten so used to waking up to each morning wasn’t there this day. The scent of lavender and the usual smell of a night’s rest was not there.
Machiavelli opened his eyes, rolling over to find the space next to him was empty. He took a deep breath in, and sighed out, his jaw tightening. He’d expected not to find anything, but the hollowness that came with confirmation was still hard to shoulder.
Slowly, Machiavelli pushed himself up, hissing with pain as a spike of discomfort shot up his back. He felt old and tired, more so than he had in quite a long time. He attributed it to his injury, and not to the fact that the bundle of red hair he’d gotten so used to waking up too wasn’t there.
He moved his legs over and slid his feet down to the floor, wriggling his toes against the carpet before pushing himself up to his full height. He scratched his chest, his fingers brushing through the few hairs that adorned it, before letting out a yawn.
Tentatively, he took a step off the carpet, onto the cold tile floor. The shivering chill of the early morning air against his skin woke him up more than any cup of coffee ever could. It was part of the reason he’d not carpeted the whole of the bedroom floor.
One part of it anyway.
After a few stretches to limber himself up, he walked over to the vanity that was kept on the other side of the room, instinctively picking up a comb that sat upon it, turning to look at the empty space upon the bed.
He paused, like a gear inside his head had gotten caught on something and wasn’t engaging with the other mechanisms as it should, or the needle on a vinyl record player was skipping something vital.
She wasn’t here. There was no need to pick up the comb. There was no one who needed their hair seen to.
Machiavelli grunted, setting down the comb again before running a hand through his own hair and walking out of the room, heading towards the kitchen, his feet clapping against the floor, the sound echoing through the quiet flat.
In the kitchen, he looked over the stove, then opened a few cupboards, looking to see what he could make himself to eat. He took out a few eggs, bacon, sausages, and other items that would make for a good breakfast, and got to work.
After about twenty minutes, after everything was done, he set the two plates of food down on the dining room table.
Again, he paused, staring at the second plate, full of freshly cooked food, with no one to eat it, and cursed.
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Machiavelli rubbed his eyes, a wave of frustration running through him. He told himself that it was just that he wasn’t fully awake yet, even though he knew that was a lie.
Suddenly, he didn’t feel all that hungry, so he pushed the plates aside, got to his feet, and got ready for work.
That morning he left for work, earlier than he had in a good year, eager to be out of the flat and amongst things that could keep his mind off the growing hole he felt opening up in the pit of his stomach.
The day went on much as it did every day, with a seemingly endless stream of tedious meetings, the sighing of contracts, and the shaking of hands, but even when everything that Machiavelli needed to do for the day was done, he didn’t go home.
He worked late, later than he had done in a while, going over contracts, making sure that everything was up to his standards, then going over them a second time, just to be sure. It got to a point that even he had to admit he was stalling.
He was used to returning to an empty flat. Rosalynd often worked later than he did, but this time there was no sense of anticipation in the air as he prepared for her inevitable return. There wasn’t even anything to prepare for at all.
With a click of his fingers, Machiavelli started up the fire, sitting himself down in one of the armchairs and opening a book. He flipped through the pages disinterestedly, not really taking in any of the words on the page.
It wasn’t until he reached down to pet something at his feet that wasn’t there that he gave up, tossing the book aside with a sigh of frustration.
He went to bed early, feeling lonelier than he had in quite some time.

Posted Sun at 02:18 pm · OP
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Walking the Dog

Marcus’s tail wagged frantically as he and Machiavelli walked through the streets of the Reach, his tongue lolling to one side, his little paws trotting merrily as he tugged at the lead, trying to sniff at things that were just out of reach.
Machiavelli found that Divinity’s Reach was not the best place to walk a dog, there weren’t as many green fields as he would like where he could let the dog off the lead so he could run wild, chasing and frolicking.
So, Machiavelli took Marcus to Shaemoor, where he wasn’t worried about the dog scampering off where he couldn’t see him, or ending up under the wheels of a cart, or wandering into a butcher’s shop to steal a string of sausages.
Here in Shaemoor, Machiavelli could let Marcus off the lead where he would just walk along beside him, occasionally sniffing at the side of the road, lifting his leg, and continuing, looking quite happy to do whatever he wanted.
The dog didn’t even need to slow down to keep pace with Machiavelli. He walked ahead, turning around every now and again to see how far behind him Machiavelli had gotten. He’d stop and wait until Machiavelli caught up, then keep walking.
Machiavelli was a lot slower than he’d like to be. He had to stop often to stretch his back whenever a spike of pain would run through it. When that happened, he’d lean against a nearby fence until it passed.
He kept the lead in his pocket, and would reach into it to run his fingers over the leather handle, humming to himself as he looked out over the rolling green fields, listening to the buzzing of insects and the twittering of birds, thinking of a bundle of red hair, the murmur of a smile on rosy lips, and the glistening of clear blue eyes.
Walking Marcus was a distraction, he knew that, but it was as good of a distraction as any. It reminded him of the person he would rather be walking beside, the one that Marcus would rather be walking with.
The dog had been just as dismal and depressed as he had been for the last few days. Machiavelli became afraid that Marcus might have been a truer image of his own hidden desires mirrored back at him.
Irritated with himself, Machiavelli had picked himself up and buried himself in his work, and when he wasn’t working, he was walking Marcus. He figured it was good for the both of them, and it certainly felt better than moping around.
These last few days, he’d watched as Marcus had waited at the door to the flat in the evening, his tail thumping against the floor impatiently, expectantly, only for the door to never open, and the person he was waiting for to never arrive.
Machiavlli pursed his lips in frustration whenever he saw it, as it was only a reminder of what he himself was doing only a few days before.
The evenings had become the hardest. That had been their time together, hers and his, the time when he could shower her in his affection, pay her the most attention, and revel in her becoming putty in his hands.
Now, Machiavelli and Marcus returned home when it began to get dark, having walked for what had felt like several hours, but can’t have been that many. Machiavelli’s back wasn’t strong enough to walk for that long. Still, it felt longer.
Now, when they returned home, there was little more to do than to make dinner and get ready for bed.
Machiavelli found himself staring up at the ceiling each night, trying to go to sleep when sleep would not come to him. There was no weight beside him, and that was enough to keep him awake, enough to remind him that she wasn’t here.
He felt stupid. It wasn’t as if she was gone forever. She’d be back in a few more days.
A few more long, boring days.
Machiavelli felt something cold and wet press onto his hand. He turned his head to find Marcus sitting beside him, looking up at him with his big brown eyes, looking guilty even though he hadn’t done anything to be guilty for.
Usually, Machiavelli did not like letting Marcus up on the bed. He liked the bedsheets to remain clean, and besides that, Marcus had his own bed. This night however, Machiavelli paused, his brows furrowing.
“All right,” he muttered. “Come on then.”
With a little huff of satisfaction, Marcus crawled up on the bed, snuggling himself down in the spot where Rosalynd usually slept, closing his eyes and drifting to sleep.
Machiavelli turned on his side, closing his eyes.
It would never be the same, but it would do for now.

Posted Sun at 02:19 pm · OP
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Breakfast Date

Daylight shone through the curtains of the bedroom, making the once darkened Rurikton flat bright and warm. It cascaded its way down onto the ruffled sheets and the bundle of red hair that rested upon the pillows.
Rose’s face was buried in the bedsheets, a little bit of drool dribbling from her lips. As the light slowly travelled its way across the room, she groaned, throwing the covers over her head to shield her eyes.
“It’s time to get up, Rosalynd,” Machiavelli said as he sat down beside her on the bed, gently pulling back the covers.
Rose whined.
“Ah, none of that now,” Machiavelli warned. “I know it’s early, but we’re getting up. Now.” His voice was stern, yet calm, prompting just enough of a reaction from Rose’s frazzled, sleepy brain for her to push herself up.
“Good girl,” Machiavelli crooned, offering out his arm.
Rose took the arm and got to her feet, the blankets falling away. The chill of the early morning air prickled at her bare skin, and she dearly wished to get back beneath the covers and into the warmth again.
Machiavelli would not allow it however. Instead he guided her over to the vanity table and sat her down, reaching for her mother’s comb from the dressing set she kept there and began to run his fingers through her hair.
Rose murmured something through her sleepy haze and leaned back against Machiavelli’s chest, her eyes still closed as he carefully, gently, ran the comb through her hair, styling it in just the way that she liked.
Once he’d gotten her hair in order and out of the dishevelled state it always ended up after a night’s rest, he guided her to her feet and had her stretch out each arm, so that she was standing in a T pose.
“It’s so early, Machiavelli,” Rose yawned, slowly waking up.
“I know, my love,” Machiavelli told her, bending her head down so that he could place a kiss upon her forehead. “But there’s something that I’d like to do, and we need to be up early to do it.”
With deft hands, Machiavelli dressed her, tucking her into place before tying the strings on her corset tightly and slipping a deep blue dress over her eyes, one he’d picked out especially for her.
“This isn’t my armour,” Rose pointed out, his brows furrowed. “I’m going to need to go to work soon.”
“Not quite so soon, we’ve a few hours yet.”
“Hours?” Rose said, blinking rapidly as the sleep cleared itself from her mind. “Just how early is it?”
“Half an hour after dawn,” Machiavelli told her.
“Oh gods,” Rose groaned. “I could have gotten three more hours of sleep. I need my coffee.”
“No complaining,” Machiavelli said, the edge of warning that got Rose to stop talking coming back into his voice.
Rose lowered her head, letting her thoughts slip away once again, a slight smile tugging at her rosy red lips. It was so easy to just do what he told her, so easy to not have to think about every little thing, every responsibility she found placed on her shoulders.
“Yes, Machiavelli,” She said.
When Machiavelli was around, Rose could just forget everything and let him take care of it all, let him take care of her. With him she was safe and free of stress and worry. With him she had an odd sense of freedom.
Hand in hand, Machiavelli guided Rose from the flat and walked her down into the streets of the Reach, into dawn’s first light that was slowly making its way across the rooftops, coating everything in its orange rays.
At this hour, the Reach had not yet woken up, it was almost deserted. They came across the odd postman or milkman doing their rounds, and when they did, Machiavelli would make sure they noticed how their hands were wrapped around one another. He made sure to show them that the beautiful woman in the blue dress was with him and he was proud of that.
Rose’s smile grew just a little wider whenever he did, a warm, giddy feeling bubbling in her stomach. She felt like skipping, but seen as Machiavelli was guiding the way, she simply stepped closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder and wrapping her arms around his.
Machiavelli brought her to a small café, tucked into the corner of Rurikton. At first, it didn’t look as though it was open, it was so early, but once Machiavelli opened the door and stepped in, a waiter appeared, giving them both a nod of his head.
“Good morning to you,” he said.
“Good morning,” Machiavelli replied. “And thank you for opening early for us. It’s appreciated.”
The waiter looked as though he was about to say something, but instead decided against it and gestured for them to follow.
They were led up a flight of stairs to the roof of the building, where a few tables and chairs had been set up with a parasol at each table.
The rooftop patio looked out across a spectacular view of the rooftops of Rurikton, just as the sun was beginning to fully form itself in the sky above, cascading over the clay tiles that rolled over each building.
From here, they could just about see the fountain in the centre of the square, and how the sunlight slowly crawled its way up the stone carvings, the water that sprung from each one catching the light and making it shine like the most precious of gemstones.
“It’s beautiful,” Rose whispered as Machiavelli pulled out her chair for her and sat her down.”
“It is, isn’t it?” Machiavelli said, his lips twitching ever so slightly as he looked at her.
Rose could feel her cheeks becoming warm and she looked down at the table.
The waiter brought out a stack of pancakes for them both, with a choice of blueberries, maple syrup, lemon, sugar, or honey. Each one was light and fluffy, and once Rose took a bite, she could swear it had melted on her tongue.
This early in the morning however, the mouth-watering scent of the fried pancakes was nothing compared to the bitter tang of the rich, smooth, coffee that had been set beside her, the aroma of the steam brushing against her nose.
They spent the morning in relative silence, holding hands and watching as Rurikton gradually woke itself up. It was a brief moment all to themselves, where it felt as though it was just the two of them in the world.
A little reprieve from the hustle and bustle of their lives, before they had to return to their work.

Posted Sun at 02:19 pm · OP
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Guild Wars 2 copyright:
© 2011 ArenaNet, Inc. All rights reserved.
NCsoft, the interlocking NC logo, ArenaNet, Arena.net, Guild Wars, Guild Wars Factions, Factions, Guild Wars Nightfall, Nightfall, Guild Wars: Eye of the North, Guild Wars Eye of the North, Eye of the North, Guild Wars 2, and all associated logos and designs are trademarks or registered trademarks of NCsoft Corporation.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.