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Gulmont's Character stories. Comments welcome.

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A moment to Grieve

The mask hid his face, but that was not the most disturbing thing about Gulmont that day. The robes had certainly been something Moira hadn’t been expecting. They were nothing out of the ordinary, she’d seen acolytes of Grenth wear them at the statues that lined the walls of the Reach when she went to pray, but having someone wearing them in her home was a bit disconcerting.

She daren’t say anything though, not out of fear, but out of respect. For the last few weeks there had been something off about Gulmont, she just couldn’t put her finger on it. He hadn’t been his usual cheery self; he’d seemed almost to be in mourning. Now it seemed he was at the height of his grief, a black cloud of misery hovering over his head.

This morning she’d opened the door for him, as usual, greeting him with a friendly smile. But the smile had not been returned. His face had been completely expressionless, as if he had been drained of all emotion. The light in his eyes that usually danced with an infectious joy had dimed to a non-existent, dull mist, as is all happiness had been clouded over.

She’d let him in all the same, though with a bit more apprehension that was her custom. He’d moved through the house like a soulless wraith, all light and joy a distant memory. The baby had greeted him with the same exuberance as she always did, but he did not meet her with the same joyous enthusiasm. He seemed to be lost in a sea of pain, one of which nothing could bring him out of.

For once Moira had been glad to leave the two to run a few errands for the house with the maid. The girl was quite capable of doing the tasks on her own, but Moira quite enjoyed going out into the city and taking in the hustle and bustle of the city streets. She went to have tea with a few friends, where they discussed the events of the day before and spoke of the possibilities of lavish parties at grand estates. It was when she got home that the true depth of Gulmont’s grief became clear.

The house had become unusually cold for this time of year, so much so that her breath formed in plumes of smoke in front of her face. The chill extended throughout the house and she had to get the maid to light several fires so that the house could warm itself through again. What she found most curious though, was all the servants seemed to be talking in hushed tones whenever she approached. When it finally got on her nerves enough to ask one of them what all the fuss was about, all they would do was point towards the garden.

Moira was quite proud of the garden; she’d paid the gardeners a considerable amount to make sure it far outshone the neighbours. Lucio had almost thrown a fit when he had seen the bill, but with a little coxing she’d managed to convince him of the values of a good garden for Lyra to play in. Despite his initial complaints, Lucio had eventually given in and admitted the garden’s beauty.

Magnificent blossoms littered the boarders of the lawn, their colours dazzling to the eye. Trees of oak and ash sprang up around the corners, their glorious branches spreading in a luscious canopy that twinkles with the light that the leaves let in, streaming through in heavenly beams of sunlight.

It was here that Moira had found Gulmont, who had changed out of his hunting gear and into the outlandish robes that covered every inch of him, sitting high up in the branches of one of the trees. At first she thought that there was an intruder on the grounds, but then she had seen Lyra resting quietly in his arms. There was only one person that the baby was this comfortable around.

Gulmont looked out over the city walls, the tree a perfect vantage point to see for miles around the expansive city. That morning he had awoken to Ehbrel lying next to him, watching him quietly. They had eaten a light breakfast and then gone about their business, Gulmont going back to the Reach to see to Lyra. Up in the tree in the Arminio estate, he was safe and alone with his thoughts. He didn’t want to burden Ehbrel with his sorrow when she was already dealing with her own.

He let his mind drift, Lyra providing a soothing comfort that he found he got nowhere else. He listened quietly to the baby’s quiet breathing, music to his ears. It was then it truly hit him. His friend was gone and there was nothing he could do. He’d never see her again. He tried to keep his partition up for as long as he could, but the barrier broke down, falling to the wayside.

As Moira approached, Gulmont turned his head, the two fiery points of light beneath the mask focusing on her. She shuddered, an eerie feeling of both fear and wonder coming over her. Her voice caught in her throat for a moment before she found it again, her question coming out in an uncertain concern, “are you alright?”

Gulmont paused for second, and then removed his mask, making sure the shadowy illusion covered him before he did, showing only his normal, living face. But the illusion could not hide his tears. They flowed down his cheeks in a constant steam of woe, seemingly unending. “No,” he replied in a shaking voice. “I’m not.”

With a nod of respect, Moira turned on her heel, heading back into the house as Gulmont held Lyra to him, sobbing soundlessly. The baby reached up, her fingers running through his dark hair, cooing quietly in the way babies do.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
A Specter in the Flames

Dale awoke to fire and smoke. He didn’t know how long he’d been out, but it was long enough for his entire house to have collapsed down around him. The last thing he remembered was sitting down with his wife and daughter to have something to eat.

The day had been a good one; the sun was high in the sky, shining merrily over all of the Arch. People were going about their day with hardly a care in the world, just going about their business with smiles on their faces. They spoke to the merchants in the plaza, trading and bartering, or just enjoyed a day of lounging in the sun.

Dale had noticed how his wife had made a special effort with the way she looked today. She wore the most beautiful dress, white satin that made her blond hair flow in ringlets around her face. Every time she looked at him, a slight blush would creep over her face and she’d turn her eyes to the ground in embarrassment.

His daughter was not so well dressed, but her innocent smile made up for it. She tugged at his hand, dragging him along as her endless chatter filled the air, a sound he never quite tired of hearing. She told him about what she had done in school and what her friends had been getting up to, all the while keeping her smile on him.

That was when the sound of the air ships had reached his ears. He wasn’t sure what the sound was at first, the mechanical whooshing was unfamiliar to him. He turned his head to look out the window, his eyes going wide in horror as the red ships descended from above, theirs hull opening up to reveal deadly cannons that glimmered with malicious intent.

The first round of fire caught him completely off guard, the cannon balls flying into the roof of his house, sending rubble crashing down on the three of them. But it was the second that knocked him out. It had come hurtling through the wall, setting the house ablaze and causing a large plank of wood to come smashing down on his head.

Only now did he wake up, the smoke filling his lungs and causing him to cough violently. The smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils and the intense heat caused him to sweat, tears streaming from his eyes as soot and ash clouded his vision. He called out to his wife and daughter, but no answer came back, and if one did, he could not hear it, the crackling of the fire was so deafening that it drowned out all other sounds.

With a tremendous effort, his arms screaming in protest, he managed to push the rubble off of his legs, cringing in pain as he shoved it away. He began to crawl through the wreckage, keeping himself low to the ground as he made his way through his ruined house. It was there, under a pile of splintered wood, he found his wife’s body, her white dress stained with her own blood.

With a noise like a dyeing animal he pulled her from the pile, holding her close as he sobbed loudly. He stayed with her for as long as he could, but the fire crept ever closer and he could not muster the strength to drag her out of the house. He was forced to leave her to the flames, but now with a determination set in stone. He’d find his daughter and he would protect her.

As he scrambled out of the debris he heard her cry, a frightened squeal of panic. He looked up in a desperate horror as he saw her in the arms of a group of heavily armed pirates, equipped with technology the likes of which he’d never seen before. The Aetherblade leered down at his daughter, putting his pistol to her head with a cruel grin.

But Dale did not move. He found that he was frozen to the spot, whether out of fear or disbelief he did not know. He could do nothing more than watch as the Aetherblade pulled the trigger and ended his daughter’s life, with about as much effort as blowing out a candle. The little girl fell lifelessly to the ground, her body hitting the cobble stones limply. Dale stared at her, and she stared back, her dead eyes pleading him to save her, only to get no response.

The Aetherbalde spat on the body, giving it a cocky smile before turning on his heel. The smile didn’t last long though. In a flash of golden steel, the Lionguard charged, the small squad engaging the Aetherblade with a menacing war cry. The clashing of steel and the blaze of gunfire filled Dale’s ears, his knees shaking in terror. He slipped away in the confusion, looking back only to see his daughter’s eyes glaring at him judgmentally. Why hadn’t he saved her?

He headed for the docks, running as fast as his legs would carry him, trying not to look at the endless tide of bodies that lined the streets. The docks had boats; boats meant freedom, a chance to survive this nightmare. The Lionguard proved to be ample distraction for him to get by; hardly any of the overwhelming army noticed him.

The ships laid out before him were deked out ready for battle, magnificent sails rising high on the masts, the banner of Lion’s Arch waving proudly from the crows nests. Just a bit closer now and he would be home free, away from this madness.

A red light shone down from the heavens in a beam of deadly fire. The laser cut through the ship’s hulls like a knife through warm butter. The crews screamed in horror as the boats started to sink, jumping into the water to save themselves as the ships caught alight.

The water was no safe haven for them. Krait rose from the depths, scales glowing green from the toxin’s influence. The fell upon the sailors like Parana at feeding time, ripping the men too pieces before they could even cry out for help. Nightmare courtiers emerged from the shadows, drawing their bows to send volley after volley of poisonous arrows into the sailors that the krait could not get to, the tips piercing flesh with deadly intent.

Dale fell back, his legs giving out. He scrambled away from the massacre, whimpering quietly as his last hope of salvation was taken from him. From the shadows, a voice called out to him, beaconing him over. At last! Some luck! A place where he might be able to hide and wait for this whole ordeal to be over.

He scrambled over to the stranger, thanking him profusely for his generosity. The man was a Norn, clad in clothes that looked like they had seen better days. They were faded and thin, some of the edges frayed. His skin was weather beaten, like he’d spent a long time out in the sun. His brown hair and beard was matted and straggly, as if he’d just gone for a swim on the beach. He smelt of sea air and stale rum, giving Dale a yellow toothed smile.

“Aye lad, yee be safe ‘ere.” The Norn said as he patted him hard on the shoulder, almost causing Dale to topple over, “On one condition.” The cold barrel of the pistol pressed firmly into Dale’s back, the Norn’s smile not looking as friendly as it had before. “’and o’er all o’ yee valuables lad, there’s a good man. An’ don’ be stingy on the coin, we all go’ ta eat now don’ we?”

Dale stuttered as his hands go to his pockets, feeling around for anything to give the big Norn. But he of course had nothing, he’d been in too much of a hurry to leave his daughter to die to even think of picking up any valuables he might be able to offer up by way of payment. “I’m sorry,” Dale stammered. “I don’t have anything.”

The Norn frowned, sighing heavily before giving Dale a shake of his head. “Tha’ be a pity lad, a great pity.” The Norn lowered his pistol, giving Dale a shove towards the streets. “Off yee go then, yee no’ be stay ‘ere. I may be a gentleman o’ the sea, bu’ I don’ give yee anything for charity. Yee be on yee own.” The pirate Norn waved his pistol at Dale and the man made a hasty retreat, heading back into the inferno that waited for him.

Dale didn’t know how long he walked the streets, trying his best to block out the horror around him as he dodged the allied army. All seemed hopeless to him. He’d lost his home, his family and was now about to lose his life. He fell into a dull stupor as he continued to walk, almost oblivious to the death all around him.

He almost didn’t see the Charr, its beady eyes looking down at him as flames licked at his hands. He drew a molten blade, raising it high above his head, grinning down at Dale with razor sharp teeth that sprouted from his colossal maw. The Derdge next to him cackled in a nasally voice, snorting every time it stopped to take a breath, squinting at Dale with blind eyes.

The Charr nodded to the Derdge, bringing the molten sword down on Dale n a terrible arc that, to Dale, seemed to go in slow motion. But before it could connect, the Charr was blasted off of its feet as a wave of necromantic rammed into him. The Derdge turned its head, its expression one of bewilderment, before it too was silenced by a claw of otherworldly energy ripping it in two.

Dale’s mouth fell open as he set his eyes on his saviour, a man far more terrifying than any of the army the Arch was now facing. His skin was deathly pale, glowing with a green aura that emanated power unlike any other. His eyes were surrounded in a halo of ghostly blue fire that flickered and danced. His hair flowed down his back like liquid silver, glittering in the light of the burning city. Huge wings sprang from his back, beating back the flames that closed in on them. Shadows swirled around him, the blackness almost covering him completely as the dead man advanced on Dale.

He picked him up, throwing him over his shoulder, Dale hanging limply, dead weight in the man’s arms. The world rushed past him in a rush of sound and colour as the man ran on, bullets and arrows swooping past him, but hardly ever touching. All the while, Dale hung on for dear life, not exactly sure what was going on until the man dumped him some distance away from a gate.
An exit from this hell hole! Freedom! He had been delivered to his salvation! He turned to thank the man; his appearance hardly an issue now, so over joyed was he. But before he could open his mouth, the man interrupted him. “A woman, blue hair, amber eyes. Have you seen her?”

Dale was so taken aback, all he could do was shake his head in response. The man cursed, running off again, into the warzone without another word, leaving Dale in stunned silence. Soon a Lionguard picked him up and took him through the gate, to a refugee camp, where he was seen to by a medic.

Many stories of great loss and heroism were told of the battle for Lion’s Arch, but perhaps the strangest that some of the survivors told, was of a shadowy spectre with flaming eyes and ragged wings, fighting through the burning city, saving those he could.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
The Voices

Gulmont found himself in a dark, empty room. The walls were bare and black, not windows or doors. The space was also devoid of any furniture or fixtures. It was simply hollow. There was no light to see by, but for some reason, Gulmont found he didn’t need any, he could see perfectly fine without the light.

That was not what Gulmont found strange about the room however. It was silent, eerily so, So quiet in fact you could hear a pin drop. This was not something Gulmont was used to, it pointed to something bad.

He looked around the room, but found nothing of use, just empty space and air. Taking a few steps forward, walking cautiously towards the far wall. Reaching out, he places a hand against the wall, narrowing his eyes slightly. It felt like pushing his hand through water, like the wall was about to crumble under his hand, yet still think enough to keep him confined, with no way out.

With a grunt, he took a step back, turning around to try the opposite wall, only to find it had stretched far back into the distance, so far he couldn’t actually see the wall. Clenching his fists, he turned back to the wall behind him, finding that it too had drifted off into the far horizon when he had his back turned.

The room around him began to change, warping into a dry and barren landscape, devoid of any life. Mountains rose up in the distance, twisted and distorted, silhouetted against a dark green sky. High above, a blood red moon shone, its crimson light shining over the desolate wasteland.

With the light of the moon, Gulmont could now see the ground around him. It was littered with the bodies of the dead, charred and twisted in agony; their burnt flesh filled his nostrils with the smell of scorched flesh. The bodies were not dead though, they groaned up at Gulmont in torment, pleading with him for help. Gulmont did his best to ignore their pleas for help, knowing that they were beyond his abilities to aid them.

Instead he turned his head to the figure walking towards him who seemed to have faded into the scene out of thin air. The man, for that was what he appeared to be, danced through the field of bodies, giving a few of them a swift kick that only made them wail more. He was dressed in a red jacked, finely tailored and expensive looking. On his head he wore a dark top hat that covered his fair, brown hair. His light, blue eyes lingered on Gulmont, their pupils mere pin pricks as they stared at him, wide and devoid of sanity. A twisted smile spread across his face that stretched from ear to ear, showing his pure white teeth.

The man let out an insane, warped laughter that sounded like an unturned instrument as he approached Gulmont, dancing in the death and destruction around them. Gulmont moved his hand to the dagger at his belt, only to find it wasn’t there. He was alone an unarmed in this strange place.

The man shook his head, clicking his tongue and waving his finger, like he was chastising a young child. “Now now,” he says in a sing song voice that bears no hint of sanity. “That’s not very nice you know? Is that really how you greet everyone Gul, With open hostility?”

Gulmont became tense, his body on edge and ready to pounce if he should need to. His eyes locked onto the man in front of him, curling his lip in hate. “Drop the act, it’s not going to get you anywhere,” He hissed through clenched teeth, his hand still reaching for a dagger that is not there.

The man’s twisted smile faltered, falling for a moment. “Oh dear, what a bad mood you are in today.” The man shifted his weight onto one foot, a cane appearing in his hand for him to lean on. “We were just trying to make this place a little more….” The man turns away from Gulmont, casting his eyes over the burning corpses around him before looking back, the smile now plastered back on his face, now more warped than ever. When he speaks again, it is not with one voice, but many, each one ancient and demonic, like something from the bowls of hell. “….Scenic.”

With a wave of his hand, the mountains, the moon and the bodies disappear, this time changing to the Commodore's Manor in Lion’s Arch. Once more, there’s no furniture in the room, but there are several chains suspended from the ceiling, a woman with bright blue hair hanging by her wrists from them. She looks weak and pale, as if she’s been there for weeks. Her clothes are tattered and frayed, sweat dripping down her face which her hair conceals.

Gulmont tenses, still grabbing for the nonexistent knife as he takes a step forward, only to find that he can’t move. He looks down, finding that his feet have merged with the floor, the wood creeping up his flesh, like veins, to become one with his skin. He struggles all he can, he finds that he is stuck to the spot.

The man appears from behind the chained woman, putting his hand under her chin so she can lock her amber eyes with Gulmont’s blue ones. The man titters quietly, getting out a long, jagged knife that he runs over the woman’s cheek, his smile growing wider as she whimpers in fear.

Gulmont growls, shuffling his legs in a desperate attempt to free them from the floor. “Don’t,” he roars, staring back at the woman with fear as he curses his uselessness.

“Don’t what?” He man coos as he raises the knife to the woman’s throat. “We’re just having a bit of fun, aren’t we Verlai dear?” Breaking into another bout of laughter, the man rips the knife through the woman’s throat, her warm blood splattering Gulmont’s face as she screams out in anguish before going limp.

Gulmont cries out as he falls to his knees, his vision clouding over as tears spring to his eyes. His body shudders as he sobs, tears running down his cheeks to drip into a little puddle on the floor. Beside him, he hears the man’s footsteps as they circle around him, like a predator waiting for the right moment to strike. It’s then he hears a whispering in his ear, like a subtle breeze flowing through the air. “You could protect her if you let us out.”

Gulmont takes a shuddering breath, looking up to find the man staring down at his with his wide, abnormal smile. He locks eyes with the man, staring at him defiantly as he clenches his teeth, holding back the tears. He hisses one word, “No.”

The man’s smile wavers, a frown of annoyance crossing his brow. Gulmont blinks and the scene has changed once more. He’s now in Lucius’s house, the bright, Krytan sun streaming through the window. Everything looks normal, nothing out of place. Getting to his feet, Gulmont finds he can walk again, his feet free.

Slowly, he begins to walk through the house, running his hands along the walls that he knows so well. He lets out a sigh of relief, lowing his guard finally. He was safe again; they’d given up and decided to leave him alone. He runs a hand through his hair, taking a big breath in through his nose.

He then stops dead, something wasn’t right. Where were the people, the servants? Moira and Albert, where were they? More importantly, where was Lyra? Panic shot through him like a bolt of thunder and Gulmont took off at a run, searching the house from top to bottom, but finding no one. Just when he was about to break down again, he heard a voice coming from the garden.

With a whoop of joy Gulmont ran out of the door, into the sunlight of the garden that sprinkled through the trees leaves. What greeted him was not what he expected. The man was sitting at the end of a long table, a banquet laid out before him. This was no ordinary banquet however. Instead of fine food and drink being on the menu, Lyra, Lucius, Moira and Albert were laid out on their backs, their stomachs split open, their organs drying up in the mid-day sun.

The man ate from their bodies, cutting them up into dainty, bite sized pieces like a noble at a dinner party. He looks up at Gulmont when he notices him, smiling at him kindly. “You could protect them if you let us out,” he repeats, his tone friendly and warm.

With a wail of pain and heart ache, Gulmont yells, “NO,” once more. The man only sighs, shaking his head like a parent who’s disappointed in his child. Raising his hands, he clicks his fingers, the world melting around them as the man fades from view once more.

Gulmont lets out a strangled choke, drying his eyes so he may look around himself and see where he was now. His eyes widen in surprise and confusion. He finds himself in Seraph headquarters, suits of armour lining the walls as soldiers march through, their backs straight and their arms swinging back and forth as they make their way to where ever it is they’re going.

The desk in front of him is littered with paperwork, police files and open cases not yet solved. This is not what draws his attention though. Leaning against the desk stands a woman in full Seraph uniform, the hood down. She has dark, red hair and purple eyes. She smiles kindly at Gul, taking a step forward to peer down at him, “Hello Ghost Face.”

Gulmont’s breath catches in his throat as a slow, grateful smile touches his lips. Trudy smiles back, but to his dismay, the smile turns cold and bitter. She blinks and two more sets of eyes open, all six now staring down at him, full of hate as her flesh begins to slowly rot. With a voice full of malice, she screams at him in the man’s multiple voices, “You could have saved her if you let us out! She’s ours now!”

Gulmont screams in horror, still grabbing for the dagger that’s not there. This time however, it is. Taking a tight grip of the hilt, he raises the dagger high into the air, telling, “you will not get control! I won’t let you!” He then brings the dagger down into himself, the blade piercing his side, black ooze pouring out.

He awakes from the prison of his mind with a scream of pain, the sound only muffled by the man’s laughter, ringing in his head.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
A Quiet Evening

The night closed in as Clockk guided Nifar back to Rata Sum. The hustle and bustle of the city had long since died down by now, and the Asura were retiring to their labs where they would either sleep, or more likely, pull an all-nighter working on their latest project.

The shade closely followed them, bobbing up and down as it floated behind them, its eyes just watching. It seemed to have an air of smugness about it, a roughish cavalier that for some reason, made the shade seem a lot more relaxed and carefree than the Asura it was following.

Clockk shoots a glare at the shade every now and again as he helps Nifar through the city, not that she needed the help at the moment, but he was ever cautious. They spoke calmly to one another; Clockk’s abrasive demeanour a sharp contrast to Nifar’s joyous exuberance.

The shade bobs close to Nifar, much to Clockk’s annoyance. She waves a hand through the shade, giggling slightly at the cold, tingling sensation. “Silly,” She mumbles before turning to Clockk, “What’s this stuffs?” She asks, pointing to the shade with a claw.

Clockk sighs in frustration, doing his best to shoo the shade away. “A fool who’s getting on my nerves,” he complains in his irritated voice, though the shade only seems to snicker. Clockk grinds his teeth back and forth, waving a hand dismissively. “One you should ignore.”

Nifar nods her head, her ears and pony tail bouncing in place as she does so. “Awkay,” she answers, snuggling up against Clockk, not seeming to mind the lager Asura not returning her affection. His lip curl and his eye twitches, but this is all rather normal.

To onlookers, it would seem that the odd couple were simply a teenage girl hanging onto a much older man who found her advances annoying, but the reality of the situation could not be more different. To the discerning eye, Clockk’s permanent scowl softened as he set his eyes on the little Asura beside him, showing her affection that he gave no other.

The shade had noticed this, but it was nothing unusual to him, so he just kept up his efforts to annoy Clockk. It was working like a charm. More than once, Clockk’s sharp shout rang through the city as he yelled at the shade, which was often replied by an Asura telling him to shut up. Nifar managed to cool his temper however, avoiding several arguments with passers-by.

Eventually the three of them make it to Clockk and Nifar’s lab and living apartment. As they entered, the blue glow of machines eliminated everything as the subtle tick tick tick of clockwork mechanisms fill the air, the sound almost soothing in the quiet space. The worktops were littered with half completed projects and nick knacks that Clockk had started in his spare time and never gotten around to finishing. In the corner of the lab space stands a large machine, almost like an Asura gate, but with two enormous crystals on either side of it.

A little way away from Clockk’s work area is a room made entirely of crystals that twinkle in the blue light. The crystals seem to be growing out of the wall, in all different shapes and sizes, as well as a myriad of different colours, like a crystal rainbow coming out of the wall.

Far away from both of the work spaces is the living quarter. In contrast to the work area, the appliances seem relatively normal, for Asura standers in any case. An Asura style kitchen area, living room and bedroom are decorated simply with every day equipment and décor.

Clockk guides Nifar to a comfy chair and waddles over to the Asura stove where he starts to get food ready as Nifar waits, rubbing her tummy that complains loudly of lack of sustenance. The shade stops his incessant attempts to annoy Clockk and settles down next to Nifar, the two watching Clockk prepare the food like two hungry dogs.

The shade narrows his eyes as he starts to feel a pulling sensation. A small voice rings out in the corner of his mind, though thankfully it is not the malicious voices he is used to. This one sounds panicked and alone, grieving all by herself. “Please.. Gulmont.. say something…” The shade feels a sudden rush of guilt and immediately disappears from the room, returning to his body.

Clockk blinks in surprise, then glowers at the place the shade once was. “What!? Not even a good bye!?” He yells at the empty space, though far too late for the shade to hear him. Clockk folds his arms, scowling in annoyance, “The nerve of Bookah!”

His life force was the first thing to blossom, like the flowing of the tide; it gently washed in, bringing life back to his body. His heart was next, though it was not as fast as a regular heart, when it did beat, it was strong and audible.

Slowly, his eyes blinked open, taking in the sopping wet pod house that had yet to dry from the tropical storm of water magic the night before. The room was quite the mess, a mixture of human and Lich blood splattered over the floor as water stagnated in little pools that glowed ever so slightly, some magic still lingering.

His eyes then met hers, the ghostly white fire flickering with concern. Her tears flow freely, trickling down her cheeks to land on his face as his head rests delicately in her lap. In her grief, she does not notice he is awake until he raises his hand to wipe the tears from her eyes with a cold thumb.

A loving smile tugs at the corners of his mouth as he tilts his head to one side, speaking in a voice that’s hardly a whisper. “Still here Ehb, always will be.”

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
Soap Battle

Gulmont looked around the water and blood drenched pod house, looking very guilty. He turned to Ehbrel beside him, giving her the weakest of smiles. “Well,” He said, trying to make light of the mess. “Could be worse,” He rubbed the back of his neck, trying in vain to think of examples where it could indeed be worse.

Ehbrel raised an eyebrow, a wry smile tugging at her lips. She seemed annoyed despite everything, and Gulmont knew it was his fault. There was a hint of disappointment in those amazing eyes of hers that glowed with brilliant light. He could stare into those eyes for who knows how long, just getting lost in them.

“Oh really?” She asked, her voice music to his ears. “And how exactly could it be worse?” in spite of her disappointment, there was humour in her voice, an unspoken laughter just below the surface that was just begging to be brought forth. How he loved that laughter, if only he could hear it once more.

Running a hand through his hair, he took his eyes from Ehbrel’s to once more look around the room. This was going to take a lot of work to get everything dry again, but the blood that splattered the floor would be the first thing to clean, it’d already began to stain the floor. He laughed nervously, turning to Ehbrel once more. “Erm…I’ll get back ta ya on that.”

With a roll of her eyes, Ehbrel walking over to a few plant like buckets in the corner that she fills with water and soap. The bubbles begin to froth within the bucket, sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow as they catch the light. The light bounces off the bubbles, reflecting their rainbow light against the walls of the pod house.

Gulmont takes one of the buckets off of her, kneeling down to the floor to start scrubbing away at the blood stains. He uses circular motions at first, the old military training kicking in. It feels almost like he’s back at Seraph HQ in full uniform, scrubbing away at the floor because his drill sergeant thought it’d build back bone with in troops.

Gulmont had personally never seen the point of it, as if cleaning the floor would have made them any better at fighting against centaurs or criminals. What was worse was the sergeant had made them use nothing but tooth brushes so that they could get to all the tiny cracks between the tiles that lined the floor of Seraph HQ.

While the excersise had never made him better at his job, and it may have just been the sergeant’s excuse to make them clean the dirty floor that was often riddled with muddy boot prints, Gulmont had to admit, it had made him a lot better at cleaning. It’d even made him a bit better at polishing his armour.

While Gulmont had become lost in his memories, Ehbrel watched him quietly, her eyes full of wonder. This was possibly the first time she had ever seen him so calm. Before this day, he’d always seemed ever so slightly on edge, like one part of him, no matter how small, wasn’t fully with her. Now he seemed to be fully there in the room with her, his mind completely occupied by the task at hand instead of being slightly focused on the deepest reaches of his mind, trying to hold something back.

A mischievous smile suddenly spread over her lips, a playful spark glistening in her eye, as a sly little idea entered her pretty head. Putting her hand into the bucket, she scooped up a handful of bubbles, tip toeing quietly behind Gulmont as he cleaned, being as silent as she possibly could be.

“Gulmont?” she whispered teasingly, catching his attention. He turned to her lazily, not expecting the surprise that awaited him. As he turned, Ehbrel lightly shoved the handful of bubbles right on top of Gulmont’s nose. Gulmont blinked in surprise, crossing his eyes to see the bubbles that had landed on the tip of his nose. He wriggled his nose like a rabbit as the bubbles popped, then let out a small sneeze.

Ehbrel couldn’t hold her laughter anymore. She let out a shrill giggle, falling onto her side as she was waves with waves of joyous tittering. She held onto her sides as tears of merriment trickled down her cheeks, causing Gulmont to frown playfully.

He smiles at her roguishly, putting both of his hands into the bucket of soap and saying in a low and teasing voice, “You’ll pay for that.”

Ehbrel’s laughing fit is cut short, her eyes widening in astonishment as Gulmont lobs a hand full of soap into her face, the bubbles mingling with her foliage. She splutters lightly, clearing the soapy water from her eyes and mouth to look at Gulmont, only to find he’s readying yet another handful of bubbles.

She made a grab for her own bucket and scrambled to her feet, water spraying up under her feet as she makes a dash for the table in the centre of the room to take cover behind. She ducked down behind it just in time to feel a wad of soapy bubbles hit the top of the table and spry over her shoulders and foliage.

Scooping up another hand full of bubbles, she peered over the top of the table, looking across at Gulmont, who had taken cover behind one of the hammocks. She flung her handful at him, though he just managed to duck down in time. The soap bubbles flew over his head to land against the wall behind him.

Gulmont returned the throw, sending his own bubbles hurtling her way and it wasn’t long before the air was full of bubbles flying across the room, as well as the pairs giggling laughter. Gulmont hadn’t been this care free in oh so many years, and it showed. His smile lit up his face, positively beaming with joy and excitement.

The next time Ehbrel threw her bubbles at him, Gulmont did not return them. Instead he waited quietly, a new handful of bubbles at the ready. When Ehbrel’s curiosity finally got the better of her, he let fire. With a yelp she ducked down behind the table once more, the bubbles just narrowly missing her.

With another bout of laughter Gulmont dashed out from behind the safety of the hammock, quickly closing in on Ehbrel’s hiding place. But before he could let loose his ambush, Ehbrel jumped up, wrapping her arms around him and burying her head in his neck.

Gulmont completely forgot about cleaning the room, and of the soap battle that had clearly drawn to a close. He became lost in her embrace, and it was a long time before either of them remembered about the soaking wet room that was now covered in bubbles.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
Gulmont and the Peddler

The wind howled through the Haven, snowflakes billowing around as the fires sizzles in their holdings. The sun slowly began to set behind the mountains far off in the distance, its rad rays painting the sky crimson and pink as one by one, the stars blink into existence in the velvety veil of night.

Gulmont watched quietly, the two points of fiery light beneath his mask flickering in the gathering darkness. Ehbrel sleeps soundly beside him, her rhythmic breathing shuddering slightly from the cold, her breath pluming in clouds of mist before her face.

Gulmont looks down at her, looking muck like an expressionless golem with the mask covering his face. The only trace of emotion in his visage is from the fire of his eyes that tells of unbridled affection for the sapling beside him.

Slowly, so as to not disturb her slumber, Gulmont takes the blanket off of himself, wrapping it tightly around her, trying not to let any of the warmth to escape the folds. He chuckles quietly to himself as he compares her to a little worm, all wrapped up as snug as a bug within the blanket. He moves her ever so slightly closer to the fire before getting slowly to his feet, looking around at the various travellers of the road who stop by the haven for the night.

The variety was indeed diverse; Human tradesmen with their pack bulls piled high with goods for sale, Charr, armed to the teeth with a assortment of deadly weapons for whatever purpose, Gul dreaded to think; Hulking Norn in barely any clothes at all, steam rising from their muscular bodies as their natural body temperature protected them from the cold.

Gulmont observed these individuals with otherwise little interest. It was nothing he hadn’t seen before on the road, in fact they were an everyday occurrence. No, he was quite used to these kinds of people, and took comfort in their presence. While the world moved on with life, some things he was glad would never truly change.

Leaning against the wall, he looks back at Ehbrel as she mummers in her sleep. Despite her protests, the cold had gotten to her more than she had perhaps though, though now at least she was sleeping peacefully. She had even stopped shivering, the fire beside her warming her more than he could ever done with his cold, lifeless body.

One of the many draw back he had found of being undead, was he was nearly always cold. The chill of the mountains had never really bothered him before, he’d always had several Dolyak skins to wrap himself in, but now not even they could keep him sheltered against the cold. He put up with it in any case, such was the price he was willing to pay for the chance to be with those he cherished.

If he had been traveling alone he wouldn’t have even bothered to stop, and would have kept walking long into the night, where there was more dangers than simply frost bite. But he was not alone, and it was a welcome change from a road of solitude. The times alone with his thoughts he had always looked forward to as he walked along the cobble stones of the road to Lion’s Arch, but having Ehbrel with him seemed right, so for her sake, he could stop for a little while.

Turning back to the people below, one old man in particular caught his eye. He was a rather queer fellow, hunched over with a craggy face and a long, white beard that almost reached the floor. He was dressed all in furs, with a Norn style hat fixed atop his head. On his back he carried a large rucksack that’s practically bursting with odd trinkets and treasures. He also pulls a rickety looking wheelbarrow that stored just as many odd knickknacks as his rucksack.

From experience, Gulmont knew with just a glance that the elderly gentleman was a peddler, a denizen of the road that was just as much of a fixture of it as the stones under your feet. There are a lot of unspoken rules of the road, ones that you are just supposed to know, ones you hear from stories, and ones you find out from experience.

One of the biggest rules Gulmont knew was: Never cross a peddler. Apart from the fact that it was very bad manners to cheat someone who’s just trying to make a living from selling the curios that they pick up along the road, you never quite know what kind of person a peddler may be from appearances alone.

Gulmont had heard stories in his travels, of people trying to cheat peddlers, only to find that the peddler in question was a powerful sorcerer, who, out of spite and vengeance for being double crossed, placed a powerful curse on the ones who had cheated him. Of course, none of these stories ever ended well, and the curses varied from the harmless, to the horrific. It could be anything from the people being turned into toads, losing all their hair, or having all of their loved ones die horrible and painful deaths right in front of their eyes.

With that in mind, Gulmont descended the stairs, leaving Ehbrel by the fire, and cautiously approached the peddler. He noticed how the rest of the people that crowded the haven, gave the peddler a rather wide birth, some out of respect, but most out of disgust for the dirty old man with a wheelbarrow full of junk. The old man looked up at Gulmont, a friendly smile passing over his wrinkled face, showing a mouth full of gums with no teeth.

“Greeting to you young man,” He peddler said, sounding much like a caring grandfather that would sit you on his knee as a child and tell you stories of epic adventures in a gruff and rolling voice.

Gulmont inclined his head in greeting, patting his pockets down to see if he had anything on him that the peddler might find interesting. As usual he came across a lump of wood, his carving knife, his wooden coin, and his flute. Nothing that he thought the peddler would find to be of interest.

“Fair weather to you peddler,” Gulmont replied respectfully, glancing over his wheelbarrow and rucksack. “Have you found anything interesting on your travels?” He enquired, an eyebrow raised, really just making polite conversation.

The peddler however, gave Gulmont a knowing wink, his eyes sparkling with something that Gulmont considered to be mystical, though it could perhaps be the stories influence at work. The old man rummaged about in his wheelbarrow for a moment, before pulling out two, seemingly benign objects.

One was a small pebble with a curious looking symbol painted on it in red ink. The other was an intricate looking key whose lock must be exceedingly complicated, its tumblers as complicated as a puzzle box.

The old man reached out a hand and dropped the two items into Gulmont’s pocket, tapping his nose secretively before turning on his heel and rolling the wheelbarrow towards the gate.

Gulmont blinked in confusion, looking down at his pocket. It had suddenly become remarkably warm, like someone had turned on a heater. Gulmont put a hand in his pocket to find out what was going on, only to find the source of the heat came from the little pebble. As for the key, Gulmont couldn’t fathom a guess as to why on Tyria the peddler had given it to him.

Looking up, Gulmont opened his mouth to call out to the peddler, only to find the old man had completely disappeared. He ran to the gate to see if he could catch up with the man, as surely, an old man with a heavy load can’t have gotten far, but the road was deserted.

Deciding not to question it, Gulmont returned to Ehbrel’s side, popping the pebble into her pocket to keep her warm, before snuggling down beside her to get some sleep himself. The peddler and the key stayed on his mind however, and as he slept, his head became full of the most curious drams.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
Morning in the Shiverpeaks

The rush of wind blew at his leaves, sending them flailing out around him. The beating of wings was so heavy, every flex of them sounded like a thunder clap. The roar was beyond comprehension, with no sound that could quite describe the terror it instilled, like something from the depths of the darkest pit, crawling its way up. Then there was the fire, heat so fierce that it burnt his bark before the flames even touched it. But the worst part of all was her scream, a sound that pierced right through him, making him fall to his knees, unable to stand the failed and loss.

Argyle’s eyes snapped open as he gasped, bolting upright, throwing off the shackles of the dream that tormented him each night. The cold morning chill bit at him, colder now that he wasn’t in his snug little leaf bed back on the Isle. He looked around the igloo, trying to grasp his surroundings. No, he was not home, but neither was he in that hell hole. That’s what mattered. His sleeping bag had somehow ended up on the other side of the room during the night, probably because of all his tossing and turning, and was now draped over Annabella who still slept soundly. He was glad of the fact, at least he wouldn’t have her fussing over him so early in the morning. He had things to do.

Already he started to feel the auras of those around him, tugging at his consciousness, and so too did his aura tug at theirs, his overwhelming sense of loss, the deep seated kindness and compassion, but also, deep at its core, the cold, dark grip that was fighting to get a foot hold. That was something he could not allow. Getting to his feet, he scrambled out of the igloo, shielding his eyes from dawn’s first light as it peeked over the horizon, the crisp morning air nipping at his flesh, making goose bumps stand on his arms, if he had been capable of that sort of thing that is.

Something felt odd about this morning, something not quite right, yet he was unable to put his finger on it. It was as if there was something out of place, but for the life f him he couldn’t think of what that thing was. It couldn’t have been the unfamiliar surroundings, as it wasn’t the first time he’d woken up with no idea where he was. For now he ignored the sensation, focusing on what was important.

Pressing his palms together parallel to his body, he began his morning ritual. For a moment he stood as still as stone, listening to the wind howl around him, billowing through the leaves of the snow covered trees nearby. He started to take long, deep breaths, in through the slits in his face that he called a nose, and out through his mouth. Soon, he stretched out his left leg, scraping it through the snow, creating a semi-circle around him. Once that movement was complete, he shifted his weight onto his left leg, bringing his right up to rest on it, standing a bit like a crane. He then crouched down low to the ground, extending his right leg out as far as he could, shifting his weight onto that.

He twisted his palms around so they were now pressed horizontally against him, his elbows poking out. Holding the position for a few moments, he twisted his hands once more and extended his arms, so they were now parallel with his right leg. Once done, he brought his left leg around, arching it over his head in one fluid motion while using his right leg to push himself to his feet, balancing his left leg on his right once done, standing once more like a crane.

He held the position for a moment before his hands started to roll around, as if handling a pall between his palms, His torso started to gyrate with the sudden abundance of movement, and seemingly out of nowhere, he jumped skyward, summersaulting in the air before landing like a gymnast, perfectly balanced.

He continued the complicated dance for a little under and hour, starting to mutter to himself about half way through, his voice in hushed, barely audible tones. “I turn my back on you o Mother. May my solo voice drown out the cacophony of fools.” It wasn’t until he had started to get control of his mantras that he realised what the odd feeling was. He hadn’t heard the pitter patter of footsteps rush in during the early hours of the morning, the slow but sure breathing that softly became more rhythmic the longer it went on for, signifying that the owner had fallen to sleep.

Had he gotten so used to the sound in such a small amount of time, that it had become disconcerting to wake up without it? The thought was a little disturbing. It might mean something he’d rather not admit to, not just because it’d would mean he’d left himself become vulnerable and more pain than he could possibly bare, but also because he felt it was a betrayal on his part.

He missed Naewydd like a fish that had been swept onto the bank of the river missed the water. Her leaving this world had left a hole so deep that he felt that there was no climbing out of it. Silly little things reminded him of her, when he would rather not remember at all. The pain was too raw. Yet he could not forget either. He couldn’t forget her smile, the clumsy way in which she moved, like she wasn’t all that used to her lanky form. He loved that about her though, he inquisitiveness and he down right stubborn streak. She was so hard headed at times, but he had loved her for it. He still did.

And yet someone else was sneaking into his thoughts without him realising it. It was maddening how little control he had over it all. He had dedicated the last nine years of his life to complete and utter control over himself, yet here he was, being swayed. He could not allow it. He would not be thrown into chaos again, tearing away at old wounds that were better left alone. No, he would stop this. Moving on from the past was one thing, from Naewydd, but this was quite another.

With his mantras firmly in place, he turned away from the igloo, his mind focusing on the prospect of food. To his knowledge, the Wardens were all still asleep, they would need to be fed if they were to face the trials and tribulations that the First had set out for them.

Moa was easiest to get, being the closest living creature around. The birds ran across the ice with an astonishing amount of speed that he was sure would have ended up with him face planting right into the thin ice if he had tried it himself. Fortunately, he didn’t have to put much effort into catching one. He simply extended his mind, planting a suggestion into one of the bird’s minds. “Why, doesn’t that look to be an interesting plant thing? I should go over and investigate.” No sooner had the Moa was stood before him, Argyle had quickly told the bird’s mind that its time was up, and it had suffered a fatal heart attack. The Moa unceremoniously flopped down before him, as dead as a dodo.

He knew that the Norn would disapprove of such tactics for hunting, arguing that it took all the fun out it, the thrill of the hunt, but he was no Norn and there were none around to complain to him, so he didn’t really see a problem with it. It got the job done. He would admit however, that he did feel a little sorry for the Moa.

Just as he was about to lean down and pick up the Moa, a strange blip entered his perception. It was distinct, quite unlike anything else in the world, as there was no magic about it what so ever. It was like a little black spot amongst a sea of colour. Argyle sighed. He couldn’t blame her for wanting to be away from the group. He’d walked in a daze for the better part of a year before he was ready to face the world after his own break down. He wanted to help though, needed to help. The old pull of his hunt still held influence over him, even though it was long over. He had a duty to uphold, and so he would.

He told another Moa that it was about time that it should take up residence in the mists, before dragging the two birds away from the lodge where the Warden’s had camped for the night. He eventually came upon a small, secluded cave in the mountain side, sheltered from the harsh wind. He found the Prime inside, curled up with her Charr back pack as she dozed, looking smaller than she actually was, her eyes red and puffy, as if she has been crying.

Argyle shook his head, running a hand through his foliage. This was no place for her, in a dank cave away from those who cared for her. She should be by a warm fire, draped in elegant attire, giving ever luxury and comfort that can be given. That was not the case however, she was here, and so was he, so he might as well make the best of it. Setting both Moa down, he clicked his fingers, conjuring a blanket and pillow, apparently from thin air. The blanket he draped over Suiriane, tucking her in, while he lifted her head gently, so as to not wake her, sliding the pillow under.

With a nod of satisfaction, he disappeared outside, returning a moment later with an arm full of sticks that he set down into a pile. Clicking his fingers once more, he conjured some flint and tinder, striking it against the pile until he had a small, crackling fire, flickering merrily away. He then went about de-feathering one of the Moa, setting it on the fire to cook. Once the bird was done, he left it there, the pleasant scent tickling at Suiriane’s nostrils as she slept. It might be a little cold when she awoke, but it’d be warm enough to be okay to eat.

Swinging the remaining Moa over his shoulder, he headed for the cave entrance, sparing Suiriane a final glance before heading out into the cold once more. “Youglings,” he muttered to himself in his monotone, before saying to the sleeping Prime, “Take more care of yourself. Blasted idiot.” He then left, feet crunching in the freshly fallen snow.

He found himself wondering if Annabella had woken up yet, as he walked the distance back to the lodge, thinking he might try to make her some tea himself before she woke up. Freshly made tea and cooked Moa. Yes, that did sound like a fine way to start the morning.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
Svanir On The Road

The voices from camp died down the further away Argyle get, allowing himself to bask in the blissful silence of the mountains. The whispering of the wind kept him company, though he preferred it over the sound of people talking and the crushing pressure of auras. Being around so many dreamers had started to get to him. Normally he’d have left long ago and returned to the Isle where he only had the one, strangely pleasant, aura to contend with. But out here, he had little choice in the matter.

He’d been feeling out of sorts all day, and now that he had been left with his own thoughts, with his Soundless mantras waning, his discontent was becoming more obvious to him. He took another sip of tea, hoping to settle himself, only to realise he had the cup still in his hand. Staring blankly, he swirled the liquid around in the cup, before draining the whole thing and blinking the cup away. He knew Annabella would find it with her again, safe and some. He wanted to be sure her things were returned.

He continued on his way, out into the tundra, hoping to find some of the root that Sylvana had spoken of. He wasn’t honestly sure what he was looking for, but he had a vague idea. He promised himself that he’d check with Annabella before trying the root if he found it, just to be sure he had the right stuff. The more he walked however, and the more his mantras began to meet their limit, he realised he’d have no other choice but to give into his emotions, if only for a little while.

Shaking his head, he closed his eyes, having no fear that he was going to walk into anything in this vast expanse of whiteness, muttering quietly to himself as he lowered the mantras that kept his emotions in check. As soon as they fell, he was stopped dead in his tracks, feeling as though he had just been stabbed through the gut, leaving him helpless and incapacitated. He felt his chest constricting, his breathing growing more laboured and his knees buckling, causing him to fall to the ground, huddled into a ball with his hands covering his face.

An almost primal groan escaped his lips, carried away by the wind, a cry of such desperate mourning that it hardly seemed natural to be able to produce it. Tears sprang to his eyes, welling up and trickling down his cheeks, where they dropped to the cold ground and froze within moments of contact. His horse and bereft cries might have been heard for miles around if the wind hadn’t snatched the sounds out of his mouth, drowning them out as they scattered them to all corners of Tyria, indistinguishable and inconsolable. Naewydd was lost to him, and there was nothing he could do about it.

But in amongst the turmoil, a small voice called out, tattered and uncertain, so soft that it could hardly be called a whisper, full of the same pain and hopelessness that he now felt. It called to him from the darkness of despair, a little light to guide him out of the torture. He didn’t know when or how it had gotten there, and it unnerved him a little that it was there at all, but he followed the voice. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. If he had a heart he might be inclined to believe it, but seen as that wasn’t the case he could only speculate.

He wasn’t sure how long he had wallowed in his grief, but when he looked up, eyes raw from sobbing, night had fallen. The world had been thrown into complete darkness and without a soul around to guide him, he had become quite lost. Getting slowly to his feet, shaking the snow from his leaves, he walked on, figuring that it would be quite pointless for him to stay where he was and freeze. Better that he keep moving and keep the sap coursing through his veins, than to stay in one place.

The wind had died down while he was struggling with his inner turmoil, leaving the blackness around him completely silent. Far off in the distance, he could hear the call of an Alpine Wolf, calling to its brethren so that they may join it in the hunt. There was one sound however, that caught his attention most. Somewhere, out in the darkness, he heard the low hum of voices. They must have been Norn voices, to have been able to carry so far, so maybe they’d be someone he could ask for directions back to the lodge.

Walking further, the small light of a flickering fire came into view. The light came with several advantages, one being that he could now tell where he was. He was quite close to the road, but just far enough away that those traveling along it would not be able to see him. The light also revealed that the occupants of the fire were indeed Norn, though not the friendly kind he had hoped for.

Three Svanir stood menacingly, decked out in full sets of armour, helms with horns adoring their heads, and glimmering plate around the rest of them. They were talking loudly, louder than was probably necessary, but Argyle was thankful for that, as it’d warned him of their presence. They seemed to be deep in conversation, swinging flagons of ale which they poured from a nearby keg. As he drew closer, Argyle was able to pick out snatches of what they were saying, none of it good.

“The hunt goes well kinsman!” One was saying, talking to another. “The Sylvari, that interrupted our raid on the Haven today, are close. We’ve tracked their footprints to a lodge not far from here. We plan to attack tonight, as they are sleeping.”

“Very good kinsman!” Another bellowed, roaring with laughter. “We will do Dragon proud when he put their heads on pikes and offer them up to him as sacrifice!” The Norn then raised his flagon to the other two, saying boastfully, “The three of us need not call for the others! We are more than enough to handle a few twig men! After they have been vanquished, we shall return to our kin and tell them of our deeds! Our legends will grow phenomenally!”

The third Svanir guffaw, saying nothing else. He was clearly the least intelligent of the group, Argyle didn’t need to be a mind reader to figure that out. He could tell by the overly vacant look on the Norn’s face, the way he seemed like he’d been in one too many brawls. Argyle knew he couldn’t let these three storm the lodge and slaughter the Wardens. It would be a hard fight, and the Norn were greatly underestimating them, but he saw no reason to get them involved when the matter could be dealt with without them knowing.

So Argyle reached out with his mind, planting a small suggestion in the head of the Norn whose lights were not all on upstairs. It was a simple suggestion for a simple mind, saying that, you know what? He could take on all of those Sylvari himself, with no help from the other two, and his legend would be the one to grow! And, being the dumb lug that he was, the Norn voiced just that.

The other two gave him a bewildered look, then burst out laughing. The dumb Norn took offence at this, and with another subtle suggestion from Argyle, drew his sword. The other two sprang to their feet upon seeing this, going for their own weapons. A terrible fight broke out, with fists and steel flying everywhere. All Argyle had to do was sit back and watch the three have it out, until they were all bloody and beaten, too exhausted to more. After that, it was only a matter of planting the suggestion in their heads to keep on fighting until they could fight no more.

Eventually there was a thud, and the last Norn toppled over, dead as a door nail. All three had fought to the death, and Argyle hadn’t had to raise a finger. Getting to his feet, he strode towards the small camp, stepping around the dead Norn that now little the snow covered ground, staining it red with blood. Going through the Norn’s belongings, he found little of interest besides a few dragon totems and coin. He pocketed the coin, leaving the totems where they were.

Satisfied with his finding, he was just about to go looking for the root again, when a thought popped into his head. There were Svanir nearby, and while the Wardens would be safe and secure by the lodge, there was one stubborn dawn bloom that had forsaken the protection of the lodge and had gone out on her own, into the snow. With a sigh of frustration, he ran a hand over his face before closing his eyes, using the same trick he had used to locate her as he had before.

Once he had pinpointed he location, it was once more into the brink, away from the fire and into the cold. The cave was much as it was the previous night, which he supposed he should be grateful for, even it was unfit for a lady. He ventured into the little den, finding Suiriane more or less exactly how she had been before. Putting a hand to his brow and rubbing his eyes, as if he had a head ache, he stood for a moment, putting his emotion suppressing mantras back in place.

Then, with a face devoid of emotion, he put the pillow under her head and covered her with a blanket, heading outside once the task was done and leaning casually to the side of the cave entrance, listening quietly to the breathing that came from within. It might have been because of unnecessary worry, but he stood guard throughout the night, staring absently into the distance until the sun broke through the night sky, shining its light on the silvery white world around him.

Once day had dawned, he danced the dance he had done the day before, and each day for the last five years before this. The dance of the soundless. He then went about catching more food, Moa again unfortunately, but he couldn’t be too picky out here, cooking it and leaving it out for Suiriane for when she awoke.

He was already half way back to camp by the time her eyes fluttered open, dawn’s first rays filtering in through the cave entrance to greet her like a friend.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
Preparation for Orr

The Grove was teaming with life. Sylvari ran around, smiles on their faces and a skip in their steps, happily greeting the day with a laugh and a song. They went about their business, the older Sylvari going to work as merchants, while the younger met up with their mentors and frolicked amongst the flowers.

The Pale Tree looked over her children, even in her correct frail state, ever vigilant and protective, A constant guardian and caretaker for the Dream and all its children. Her loving embrace was ever present, a constant reminder of how much she cared for all the life under her branches.

Argyle hated it. He hated the smiling faces and the constant pressure of their happiness. It was just a reminder that he was not happy, and hadn’t been for a long time. The tree seemed judgmental to him, a cruel overlord bent of sewing misery through her children, all while putting up the façade of benevolence.

He made his way through the bustle of activity, actively avoiding the Saplings who asked him if a hug would make him feel any better, along with the others who assaulted him with a barrage of pointless, incessant questions. His head was beginning to hurt and he hadn’t even made it to the Pale Tree’s Circle.

Some of the Saplings were very persistent, following him into the very heart of the Grove, asking him if there was anything they could do to help. One vacant, empty gaze and a monotone, “No” proved enough to bring them to tears and send them running to their mentors. With a sigh, Argyle continued on. He really wasn’t any good with dealing with Saplings. He might feel guilty, but as it was, his mantras were firmly in place and he had other things to do.

He took a sharp right turn as he reached the centre clearing of the Grove, making his way down the long, spiralling ramp to the lower commons. It was darker down here. Sparkflies fluttered around, glowing with luminescent as they flittered from pool to pool, hovering over the water for a moment, before flying off again.

Argyle mostly ignored these as well, heading for the huts close to Nightshade garden. In recent days he’d only been here to deliver prisoners to the caged, but this time it was for a different reason. Now he was here for a more personal matter, and he was prepared to do anything to help.

That was why he stopped just short of his intended destination, taking a deep breath. This was going to be hard on him, he knew that, but if it paid off, it’d be more than worth it. They needed every advantage he could give them, and if a little personal torture would help get it, he was willing to bear with the pain.

Taking a deep breath, Argyle closed his eyes, slowly dismantling the complex series of mantras he’d set up. First down was the emotion suppressing ones, they were easy enough, he had more control of them. All it took was a ripple of magic and they fell like leaves in the wind. The Soundless mantras were a little more complicated.

Once he’d worked out the details of them, with another ripple they fell and he was assaulted by a wave of emotions and stifling auras. As if his own weren’t enough to cope with, he had the happy giggling auras of the Sylvari around him, all happy and care free. He hated it, each and every one of them. He wanted them all to stop, to feel as miserable as he did, and as he felt that, the darkness started to move in, encroaching on his aura.

It was a black stain in an otherwise pure environment. Cold and empty, full of hate, fear and sadness, with an urge to make everyone and everything the same as him, the Nightmare clawed at his being. But he couldn’t focus on that. He had to block it out, dig deep until he saw the warm light at the bottom of the pool of inky black.

Suiriane came in, stubborn, yet full of a grace he’d not seen in a while. Her smile began to erase part of the darkness from his perception. Then came Pepperae, so full of sadness that it may have matched his own, yet there was a caring nature in there, despite everything she’d been through, her blade swinging madly at the blackness.

Next came Carianry the sound of his lute and his endless compaction sweeping away the nightmare until Argyle was left with another pure spot. Then came Sylvana, who with her endless loyalty, just ad to glare at the cold emptiness to make it retreat.

The darkness fought back however. Naewydd smiled at Argyle from deep within himself, the pain and grief doubling into almost unbearable amounts. He had failed her. Even if there had been nothing he could do, it was his failing. And then came the blip, a little spark of light he hadn’t expected to be there. Ainoa, wrapped in a small bundle of, hiding her face from view, shuffled over to the darkness, waving a feeble had at it. The simple gesture was enough to send the Nightmare deep within Argyle, somewhere where he could hide it from view, at least for now.

Argyle opened his eyes as the Nightmare was sent into a dormant state, blinking in surprise. He wasn’t sure how the blip had gotten there, but he had no time to think on it further. Shaking his head, he made his way into the hut, suppressing the pain and sadness of his aura, focusing instead on the little happiness he had been granted.

Warden Fermeoir sat at his desk, filling out paperwork. He did a double take as Argyle’s aura entered his perception, a beaming smile spreading over his face. “Argyle!” He shouted, getting to his feet and making his way over. “It’s been ages, how have y-BY VENTARI WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE!?”

Argyle had to stop himself from face palming. “You still haven’t quite grasped the art of subtly I see Fermeoir,” Argyle replied, giving Fermeoir a small smile. “I’ve been well, and as for my face…Well, I’d rather not talk about it.”

Fermeoir gave Argyle an awkward grin, rubbing the back of his neck. “Oh, where are my manners?” he said, gesturing to a chair. “Come in, come in, and please take a seat.”

Argyle shook his head, raising a hand, “I’m afraid I’ve no time for pleasantries Fermeoir,” Argyle said, giving Fermeoir a meaningful nod. “I need gear and provisions for a mission.”

“Of course,” Fermeoir replied, reaching for a form, “ Anything for the Wardens, you know that. What is it I can do for you?”

Argyle shook his head, “I’m afraid this isn’t going to be a Warden mission.”

Fermeoir’s face fell, his brow furrowing, “Um…That may be a little more difficult then. I can’t just be giving out things for any old mission. These things are Grove property, it’d have to be distributed for the safety pf the Grove.”

“I know Fermeoir,” Argyle continued, sending a little trickle of magic out, planting a suggestion into Fermeoir’s mind. “But you see, this is very important. Lives could be at stake.”

A strange expression crossed Fermeoir’s face for a moment before he became focused again, giving Argyle a wide smile. “But of course! Lives are important after all, I’m sure we can work something out.”

Argyle sighed in relief. He hadn’t been sure if that would have worked, and it certainly wouldn’t have with his mantras up. Fermeoir had needed to feel Argyle’s sincerity for the trick to reach its fruition. The two wardens spent some time discussing what Argyle and the Wardens of Cathal would need for the journey to Orr, Argyle giving Fermeoir as much and as little detail as he could. He defiantly didn’t mention Orr.

Once Argyle and Fermeoir had finalized the details, they shook hands, something Argyle found very uncomfortable, and parted ways. Argyle wasn’t sure what more he could do, he’d secured the supplies and gear they needed for the trip, the rest was in the hands of others.

He gave the Grove one final glance as he ventured out to Astoria, his mantras building again. Looking directly at the Pale Tree, he muttered to himself, “I turn my back on you mother. May my solo voice drown out the cacophony of fools.”

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP · Last edited Feb 24, 15
A Night Trip to Kryta

The sun was just setting over the horizon as the slave driver came to collect Rupert. The centaur grabbed Rupert be the scruff of the neck, dragging him over to the cages. But he needn’t have bothered. Rupert was too weak to fight back, days without food having reduced him to nothing but skin and bones. His frail body, that was once so strong, tumbled on the ground as he was thrown into the cage, his knees and elbows scraping along the floor.

“Pathetic wretch,” the centaur grumbled slamming the cage shut and locking the door. It wasn’t until the clopping of hooves had faded into nothingness that Rupert dared to look up at his fellow prisoners, all dressed in rags and malnourished. There was one less again today, not that anyone ever brought it up. It had become a regular occurrence, the slaves reaching the end of their usefulness never coming back for the night. Rupert wasn’t sure what happened, but the frenzied howls of the rock dogs each night fuelled his imagination.

Rupert wasn’t sure how long it had been since his unit had been captured, but it had been long enough for his bones to start showing through the skin and his beard to grow tattered and bushy. His seraph uniform had been taken away from him, replaced by rags that had probably had a previous owner. He was slowly losing the will to go on and had begun to forget even his own name. He was quite sure that soon he’d be the one that made the hounds howl at night.

Since he had been brought here, he’d been put on construction of the Centaur’s camp and catapults, he was a little ashamed to admit he’d even gotten a little good at it. He could build a tent or a wooden war engine faster than most of the other slaves that worked around him, under the watchful eyes of their oppressors.

But all of that would come to an end very soon. He’d originally tried to fight, to struggle against his captors, but the merciless beatings had worn him down to the point that he no longer felt it was worth the pain to try. He was sure that this would be his last night before he was ushered into the mists. He even looked forward to it.

The centaurs patrolled the camp, their spears glinting in the light of the moon that had now settled in the sky, enveloped in the blanket of night that had travelled over the sky. Accompanied by the stars, it was the only light to see by in this part of the camp. Torches flickers off in the heart of the camp, far in the distance, but the slaves were not allowed such light.

The torches however, were the way that Rupert could tell that some commotion had started. It couldn’t quite make out what was going on, but the centaur’s movements were rapid and energised. Soon the sound of battle reached his ears. The clank of blade against blade, the sound of gun shots, and the sizzling spark of magic broke through the silence. In amongst the flickering orange light of the torches, purple flashes could be seen, along with beams of brightly coloured energy.

The cage guards gathered up in tight formation, grunting to one another in heavily accented voices. Their shields clacked together, swords and spears brandished before them, forming an impenetrable wall of death. Rupert’s heat immediately fell. There was no way anyone would be able to get through that. Even the best trained Seraph squad would have trouble.

Rupert started to turn away. He didn’t want to see what was about to come, not on his last night. He’d rather sit back and watch the beauty of the night sky, one last time. Even he, a seasoned Seraph veteran, was not prepared for what came next.

The centaurs gasped in fright, causing Rupert to glance back at them. In that instant, a multitude of Sylvari sprang forth, smashing themselves against the shield wall, where they exploded into a myriad of brightly coloured butterflies. The Centaurs faltered, confused and disoriented, giving another wave of Sylvari the opportunity to break through their ranks, firing beams of deadly magical energy.

What was most confusing was that every Sylvari looked exactly the same, a small, elegantly dressed Sylvari, all in white, and when one fell, all that happened is that another took its place, laughing in triumph.

Rupert was so entranced by the scene, it took him a while to see the Sylvari sitting on top of the cage above him, grinning impishly, her feet dangling over the edge, watching the scene with a cold, calculated glee. She may have been the most beautiful thing Rupert had ever seen, dressed in the garb of an assassin, though all in white, her cyan glow a bright light against the dark sky. Her skin was perfect, a deep purple colour, looking as if it were made from marble, her posture was one of royalty. Rupert became certain that she was a goddess come to save him from this nightmare.

The battle was over surprisingly quickly, though off in the heart of the camp, the sound of fighting could still be heard. The clones shatters in an explosion of butterflies that faded into nothingness, leaving only the distant sounds of batter to disturb the night. The dead lay before the cage, their eyes staring glassily up into nothingness. The ground became stained red as their life liquid trickled out onto the ground.

The Sylvari screwed up her face in disgust, daintily hopping down from her place atop the cage, landing gracefully on the ground. She tip toes around the bodies, picking through their belongings and putting anything she found of interest behind her back, where it mysteriously disappeared. Finally, she let out a little gasp of joy, pinching her nose and bending down to pick up a bundle of keys from one of the centaur’s belts.

She then skipped over to the cage, fumbling with the keys until she found the right one, turning the lock, and flinging the door open with a flourish. Rupert just stared at the Sylvari in wonder, tears of joy brimming at the corners of his eyes. The unthinkable had just happened. He had been freed, and his saviour was right before him, opening the door to his salvation. He desperately ran forward, closely followed by the other slaves, who he had never learnt the names of, crashing down at the Sylvari’s feet, going to hug her gratefully.

The Sylvari however, let out a shrill cry of, “Ew ew ew ew ew noooooo, don’t touch me with your dirty, smelly hands,” before blinking a little distance away. Rupert stumbles, falling to the ground where he stared in bewilderment at the Sylvari, his eyes wide before he realised how he must have looked.

In that moment he took the lead of the other slaves, getting to his feet and bowing to the woman. “I’m sorry, it’s just that we’re so grateful. We had thought ourselves doomed to a short life of enslavement, and then for you to come along? It’s nothing short of a miracle.”

“Oh well,” the Sylvari replied, putting a delicate hand to her cheek, “I must admit, I am a bit of a miracle, aren’t I?” She then laughed smugly, the sound of her laughter like the chiming of little bells.

Rupert raised an eyebrow, but he wasn’t about to question the odd behaviour of the person who had just saved him and his fellow captives. Instead he bowed again, asking in a humble voice, “Might I know the name of my saviour?”

“Oh, of course! Where are my manners,” the Sylvari said, waving her hand in an extravagant manner and producing an elegant looking fan which she waves in front of her face, putting a hand to her hip and striking a graceful pose. “I am Princess Penelope the caring, high queen of Maguuma, second in line for the throne of Tyria.” She then gave the freed slaves an exaggerated curtsy.

Rupert deadpanned. Either his saviour was completely insane or this was all some sort of twisted dream that his subconscious had come up with in the last, delirious refuge of his subconscious. At this point, he didn’t much care. All he wanted was to be free of this place.

He was about to say exactly that, when a centaur staggered to its feet, covered in wounds that oozed rich, dark red blood. He raised his weapon, charging at the Sylvari before Rupert could say anything to warm her, a cry of, “For the Tamini!” Bellowing from his mouth.

The Sylvari’s eyes widened in horror, her form shimmering, as if she were about to blink away, just as the sound of a gunshot pierced the air, a bullet whizzing towards the Centaur, ripping through its head and sending the beast tumbling to the floor, where it lay still, now well and truly dead.

Everyone turned to see where the shot had come from, their eyes falling upon a blue, male Sylvari, dressed similarly to the female, though he seemed to be completely devoid of any emotion. His eyes were dull and colourless, his hollow gaze making it seem that he was looking right through Rupert, as if he wasn’t even there. It was a little disconcerting. Rupert felt himself shift uneasily, finding the male Sylvari to be almost unnatural. The vicious looking scar that slashed across his face didn’t help matter, especially because the Sylvari’s red glow made the gruesome scar even more prominent.

The male walked stiffly up to the female, his body creaking with every movement, sounding how Rupert imagined a tree falling in a forest might sound. He reached out to put either hand on the female’s shoulders, looking her over dispassionately, almost clinically, with no hint of anything other than professional courtesy. “Wellbeing?” He asked in a voice that was completely monotone, as emotionless as his face, the single word sounding more like a statement than it did a question.

Even so, the female’s visage shimmered a little, a light blush spreading over her cheeks as she shook the male’s hands off of her, folding her arms and looking away, giving him a “Pffft,” of frustration. “Would you stop fussing?” she huffed, her tone haughty. “I’m perfectly fine thank you very much!” She then pointed to the dead centaur. “And I had that perfectly under control! I didn’t need you running in to play hero, jerk!”

“Yes,” Was all the male said by way of reply, walking over to Rupert and the rest of the prisoners to look them over, checking for injuries, completely ignoring the female as she strode over to the dead centaur and gave it a swift kick, followed closely by several more.

“Where were you anyway?” The female enquired once she had stopped kicking the corpse. “You missed all the fun! I was up here, all on my lonesome, fending for myself against all these smelly horses.”

The male didn’t even spare her a glance, just pointing a thumb behind him at the distant, flickering torches as he continued to look over the former prisoners. Dark shapes could now be seen laid out on the ground, though this far away, they couldn’t make out what the shapes were. “There were many of them,” was all he said.

The female gave a dissatisfied huff at his reply, but she sounded a little guiltier then she was perhaps aware. “Well you should have been quicker, shouldn’t you? I won’t bring you next time if this is how you’re going to be.”

“Yes,” the male said again, moving away from the former prisoners when he was sure they were all capable of moving, walking over to the female. “Should get them to safety,” he said, fixing her with a vacant gaze, standing as still as stone for a second, dull eyes lingering on her face.He raised a hand to ruffle her foliage, then turned to walk stiffly back down the slope, to the heart of the camp, before she had time to react.

The female blinked for a moment, her form shimmering lightly before stamping her foot in frustration, yelling at his back, “Jerk!” The female took a moment to collect herself, then looked at the prisoners, saying in an annoyed voice, “Well, what are you waiting for?” She then gave them a beaming smile, skipping back down the slope. “Come on~”

Rupert didn’t need to be told twice. He followed the two Sylvari through the camp, his eyes traveling over the destruction the two had left in their wake. Bodies of centaurs were strewn everywhere, it seems none had escaped, and Rupert couldn’t say he was sad to see them dead. They were lead out of the camp gates, something Rupert had only dreamed of happening, then made their way down the road, to safety.

Posted Feb 24, 15 · OP
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