Last time, Flintlock began getting better and better not only with language, but also with her ability to read people. Now, an old promise is revealed, as an ancient organization approaches two of the elves.
Past the square, past the bridge,
past the mills, past the stacks
On a gathering storm comes
a tall handsome man
in a dusty black coat with
a red right hand
lyrics from Red Right Hand, as performed by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
1307 AE, Lion’s Arch
It was the usual customary trip for supplies and trade for the five elves and the Charr cub. But it was also a time when the routine of Fort Salma could be broken and some small adventure could begin. For Flintlock, it was a chance to meet the friends she had made among the other Charr cubs, play with them for a while and share some of her stories, show them things she had done and see what her friends were up to. Then, as the day would pass, she’d join with her mother again to make the last few purchases.
She liked the apple vendor, he was very nice to her. When Flintlock first saw the Charr, she was all wide eyed with wonder. Now, a little older and a little bolder, she actually approached without any fear.
“Apples please!” she called out excitedly.
“Well,” he would say as she approached, holding out a few coin for the exchange. “A dozen apples? What kind do you want?”
Flintlock thought for a moment, then announced with a bold voice. “The green ones.”
“Ah, excellent choice,” he replied as he gathered a dozen apples for her. Flintlock took off her back pack and opened it so the apples could be stored there. She took one out to snack on, slipped her backpack on and smiled to the Charr vendor and waved.
“Thank you!” she called out with a big grin.
“Take care of yourself,” he’d wave back. “And take care of your mother.” It was common knowledge that Shani was caring for Flintlock, and when people would ask where Flintlock’s mother was they had gotten used to seeing Shani. As Flintlock wandered back to Shani and Abisayo, the Charr looked toward an alleyway and nodded. Two Sylvari stepped out and kept a close watch on the three. They nodded to the vendor and kept to the shadows as they followed.
Shani began to walk a little lazier as they strolled through the streets. She nudged Abisayo lightly. “Did ya catch we’re bein’ followed?”
“Mm-hmm,” Abisayo nodded as she took an apple Flintlock offered her. “Two. Came out of the alleyway when we left the market. Just after Flintlock came back to us.”
“What’s goin’ on?” Flintlock said in a quiet voice. She got used to the instincts her mother and aunties had. Even her grandmother. She knew something was up.
“Two Sylvari,” Shani said as she guided the three down a back alley. “I think they was the ones I ran inta a few years back. In thet Hamlet in Caledon Forest.”
“Think they’re up to no good?”
“Doubt it,” Shani said with a shrug. “But, let’s jist keep on our toes.” She motioned for everyone to turn a quick left and then a quick right. Her actions would make the Sylvari following have to hurry. And sure enough, as they waited around one corner, the two hurried around the corner and nearly ran into the three. “Well, well,” Shani said with a grin as she tipped her hat. “It has been a long while since I seen y’all. Let’s drop the cloak an’ dagger fer a minute an’ get right down ta business, shall we.”
Amber and Willow were both caught by surprise. By Shani noted how they seemed to have matured since she last saw them. At least Willow had. Amber’s attention was drawn to Flintlock, and she smiled as she knelt down to greet the Charr cub. “Oh, you’re so adorable.”
Flintlock looked to the Sylvari with a confused furrow of her brow. “I’m a Charr,” she replied. “I’m ferocious.”
Shani, for her part, chuckled and knelt to pick up Flintlock. The action was getting difficult, as Flintlock was growing bigger. “Baby, y’all can be adorable an’ ferocious,” she said. Flintlock gave her a quizzical look. “The two are not mutually exclusive.”
Abisayo looked to the two Sylvari for a moment. “I’ve seen your uniforms before. You’re kind sticks to the shadows, keeps watch from afar. I suspect this is a way for us to meet the … head of this organization.”
“Our mentors,” Willow said with a nod. “In a manner of speaking. But the Order of Whispers has seen you. They wish to meet. We’ve been watching you since before you found the baby.”
“Cub,” Flintlock corrected them. “I’m a cub. An’ soon, I’ll be a maker for the Iron Legion.” Shani smiled and gave Flintlock an approving hug.
“I suppose we best meet these mentors then,” Shani said. “Lead the way.”
The group wound their way through alleyways, small buildings and down through the sewers. This eventually opened up into a cavern that had several large buildings. Shani and Abisayo could see one that had several guards nearby that the two Sylvari were leading them to. Amber and Willow nodded to each guard they passed, and the guards seemed to inspect the trio.
Finally, they came to what seemed to be the main headquarters. A human woman with silver hair was talking in quiet tones with an Asura woman and a Charr male. As the five of them entered the room, the three quit talking and focused on the new arrivals.
“Lady Wi,” Willow said with a bow. “As promised, here are the two people you wished to meet.”
Lady Wi looked from the Sylvari, to the elves, then to the Charr cub. She looked back to the Charr male that stood beside her. He had a gruff look about him, but he had kindness in his eyes when there needed to be. “The cub has grown,” he said in a gruff voice. Flintlock’s attention was riveted to him. “Flintlock, is it? You chose that name yourself.”
“I did,” Flintlock announced triumphantly.
“And Iron Legion,” he said with a nod.
“Well, can’t win ’em all,” said another Charr, a female. Galina Ghostforge.
“Now, now, Initiate,” came another gruff, but familiar voice behind the elves. The apple vendor. He reached out to the cub with a smile. Flintlock grab hold of a claw and grinned. She liked the apple vendor.
“Eventually, Flintlock will have to go to the Black Citadel for her education,” Lady Wi announced. “I trust you two will make sure that the trip is uneventful?” She spoke to the pair of Charr that stood beside her.
“There’s also that Magister from the Durmond Priory who will most likely make the trip,” the male said with a nod.
Lady Wi nodded and turned her attention back to the three. “I suspect, though, that there is still a few years before that will be necessary. Onto matters more immediate. This, as you may have guessed, is one of our safehouses for the Order of Whispers. I’m glad we were able to meet you before those from the north did.”
“What?” Shani said as she looked to Abisay. “From the north?”
“Our agents in Hoelbrak took note of a group of individuals who have been giving aid to those near some of the Sons of Svanir strongholds,” Lady Wi explained. “They look like Norn. They act like Norn. But they aren’t Norn. From the descriptions given, they look like larger versions of you two.”
Shani and Abisayo shared a look.
“I suspect you already have an idea who they are,” Lady Wi added. “It would probably help to know that we have the name of the leader of this small group. Hildegaar Freyasdottir.”
“Oh good lord,” Shani said with a whisper and looked to Abisayo. Both elves said in unison, “Valkyries.”