Nov 18, 2011

Tales of Tyria - Chapter 4: Naimh

If you missed it, here's a link to the previous Chapter.

As she stood before the great, circular gate, Naimh took one last look around her at the city of Rata Sum.
Even though she had been living and studying here for the past two years, Rata Sum wasn't her home.  Her home was out beyond the confines of the floating city -- in the Grove of the Pale Tree, deep within the Maguuma jungle.
Naimh was a Sylvari.  Although she looked human from a distance, closer inspection revealed that her hair was made of white flower petals with a golden yellow trim around their edges.  Although her face resembled a human, it was actually composed of leaves, bark and other plant structures that had been formed into the semblance of a face.  The overall colour was also a blue-green that suited Naimh well, but clearly marked her as not human.
The expression on Naimh's face was inscrutable at the moment, being a mixture of anticipation at the upcoming adventure, apprehension for the daunting task ahead of her and also sadness for leaving the friends she had made.
"It's attuned to Hoelbrak, go on through" barked the Asura who had been fiddling with the knobs and runes on the side of the gate.  Naimh took one more deep breath of the jungle air and then stepped forward into and through the gate.
She emerged into a much different place.  Being further north than Rata Sum, the sun was only just now rising over the mountains so it was darker than Rata Sum had been.  It was also much colder -- as she exhaled, Naimh marvel led at the sight of her own breath freezing in the chill morning air.  As soon as she grew accustomed to this new experience, she noticed that it was snowing.  "It's so beautiful" she said aloud.
"If you say so" groused a rather cold looking Asura from the side of the gate.  Tipp had "won" the position of gate minder for Hoelbrak after a particularly spectacular failure of a rather high-profile experiment.  It had taken two months to repair the damage to the counselor's lodgings and soon after the repairs were complete Tipp had found himself exiled to the north.  Naimh was oblivious to all of this and continued on.  "Oh but it is!  All Sylvari know about snow from our time in the dream, and I've made it snow in the lab many times while practicing, but I've never actually seen the sky full of snowflakes like this before.  It's amazing!"  Tipp just scowled.  He'd seen enough naive, wide-eyed Sylvari come through that he knew better than to argue with them about the aesthetics of snow.
Turning her attention to the task at hand, Naimh turned to Tipp and asked "I don't suppose you remember seeing an Asura by the name of Grokk, do you?  He was supposed to have come through about a month ago..."
Tipp knew exactly who she meant, but he wasn't about to let on until he'd figured out his best angle.  "Could be, why do you want to know?". Naimh replied honestly and said "My master, Zojja, has asked me to find him.  He was on his way to the Charr lands to investigate rumors that a Bloodstone had been found.  Nobody has heard from him since he left."
Tipp pondered for a moment and then said "if you'll put in a good word for me with Zojja, I can help you out."
"Of course.  What do you know?"
"Grokk did come through, exactly 26 days ago.  He hired a Norn named Svenson as a guide and departed to the northeast the next day."
"Where can I hire a guide?" asked Naimh.
"I doubt you'll be able to" said Tipp "because some hunters found Svenson's body a fortnight ago.  It had been ripped to shreds and they were only able to identify it as Svenson by the weapons they found with it."
Naimh was disappointed with this news and it showed on her face.
"But..." continued Tipp, "you may be in luck.  There's a Norn in town, goes by the name Skoldur, who rumor says is looking to prove himself.  He may be crazy enough to help."
"Any idea where I could find him?"
"Check the taverns.  I wouldn't recommend you stay in any of them though.  There's another Asura in town -- name of Krankk. You'd be more comfortable there, at least as long as you don't get him started talking about his Mega-climactic Dispensationizer."
With that, Tipp turned back to his gate and said "Now run along, I've got a Flux Matrix and a Bipolar Thaumatergic Equalizer that I have to align."
Naimh had been around enough Asura to know when she was being dismissed, so she shouldered her pack and headed into town.  The first inn she tried wasn't the one that Skoldur was staying at, but the smells coming out of the kitchen were too good to resist, so she stayed there for a while having an early lunch.  After finishing her meal, she lingered a while by the window, just watching the falling snow.  Finally, she decided that it was time to go search for this Norn who might be able to escort her.
She didn't have any luck at the second inn she tried but she found that he was staying at the third one she visited.  The innkeeper said that Skoldur had stepped out a little while ago, but he hadn't taken his gear with him so he would be back later.  Naimh got a description of him and then decided to see about this Krankk that Tipp had mentioned to her.
She found his cottage on the outskirts of town.  At first he seemed more rude than usual for an Asura, but he became much more inviting when he found out that Naimh had just arrived from Rata Sum.
He invited her in for dinner and started asking her for details on the latest political machinations going on in Rata Sum.  Krankk seemed to be content to let Naimh do all of the talking until she mentioned that an Asura named Flapp had been appointed as Sanitation Council Chairman.  At this news, Krankk did a spit-take and actually rolled off his chair with laughter.
"Did I say something wrong?", asked Naimh.
"No, no!  On the contrary!  I've had some personal run-ins with that idiot Flapp, so your news is most delightful to my ears.  Let's see him try using his Temporal Fluxation Activator to get out of this one!  Ah, I'd love to know what mischief landed him that plum assignment.  It might be possible for me to work within the city limits again!"
"Oh?  Were you banished?" Naimh asked innocently.  She immediately wished she hadn't said anything.
"What?? No!!" roared Krankk.  "No, I left voluntarily to get away from the Thaumatergic pollution caused by the likes of Flapp.". Naimh had a sinking feeling that this had suddenly taken a turn which would result in a very long evening.  She poured herself some more wine.
Over the next five hours Krankk told her all about his theories of magical pollution and how he had created an Activated Crystal Array to measure it.  The results had led him to believe that Rata Sum was an inappropriate environment for his research into Atmospheric Megatuners and their applications when paired with Lithic Induction Field Stabilizers.  He was in self-imposed exile in Hoelbrak because it offered conditions that he felt were more conducive to accurate results.
Well after midnight, Krankk finally tired of listening to his own voice and they retired for the night with Krankk offering Naimh the use of a bearskin rug in front of the fireplace since he only had one small cot for himself.  She wasn't sure how this was any better than one of the inns would have been and suspected that Tipp had pulled some sort of joke on her.  Despite the hard, stone floor under the rug, Naimh was tired enough that she fell asleep within minutes of lying down.
You can continue reading the next Chapter here.

No comments:

Post a Comment