Kelsandra, Chapter 9

Kelsandra and Sterjin weren’t allowed to stay inside or near the cottage while the family filled Valgar in on the recent kidnapping. Having bought decent arrows for her new bow, Kelly had nothing left to do. She stayed sitting near the harbor, not out of sight but out of the way, enjoying the familiar fish smell.

The sun was low in the sky when Valgar finally left the house and made his way toward them. She stood up and stretched her legs.

“So what are we doing?” Kelly asked.

“We stick to the plan,” he mumbled. “We’re going home to Hoelbrak.”

She smiled excitedly. “Hoelbrak? That’s where you’re from? I’ve always wanted—um, we’ll sleep and then go?”

Valgar nodded solemnly.

“You can’t talk about it with me, can you?”

“No,” he said. “Later I’ll tell you.” He tilted his head toward the house. “Come on. We’re using their floor.”

The three adults never said a word to either of them in the darkness, and Kelly knew it was because she was there, and they didn’t trust her. It didn’t bother her one bit, though, especially since she didn’t know a single thing about any of them, except for the small, significant tidbit about the children.

 

“It’s fortunate we’ll be near Lion’s Arch,” Valgar said casually after they quietly left the cottage the next morning. “I hope you consider getting a new mask. This one doesn’t cover enough of your face. I’ve been meaning to mention it.”

She looked at him in disbelief. “Is this how you get when you’re close to people? That’s not a nice thing to say.”

“That’s not what—“ He scoffed dismissively. “Wait until you meet my family.”

He fell silent and Kelly tried to follow suit, but there were too many questions. Was she just to blindly follow him without knowing anything about him or the situation? Under any other circumstances, she would have considered this a trap, something deadly waiting for her at the end of this carefully tailored story that he had woven a thousand times before.

A few steps later, Kelsandra could not smell the fish of the village anymore and she realized she would rather stay. She slowed her walking, then turned back and strode toward the village with Sterj excitedly following beside.

“Where are you going?” Valgar called.

She turned her head back. “I’m liking Triskell Quay. I’m staying.”

“You don’t want to be outside today.”

“I know what will happen.” She kept walking, and Sterj ran ahead, eager to jump into the water. Kelly glanced at the sun, which was rapidly rising. She was aware of the undead invasion that was to occur before midday.

Valgar was beside her again, less irritated than she would have thought he’d be. “I’ve never been in a winning battle against them.”

“Didn’t you spend your childhood here?”

“They would evacuate the town then.” Valgar looked around as they walked back into the village. “Just looks like everyone’s gone inside.”

She took the bow off her back and ran her hands over the wood. “Are you going to tell me more about the kids?”

“It’s not their children. They can’t have them.” He stopped on the side of the large wooden structure by the harbor and sat right where Kelly had been resting the previous day. He undid and then redid the laces on his right boot.

Kelly sighed. That was all she was getting for now. She sat down next to him. They watched people arrive—travelers with their large packs and battlers with their gear. There was a startlingly large proportion of sylvari and what looked like mesmers, making Kelly, for the first time, feel very out of place as a human.

“Is this the only time we’re going to get along?” she asked Valgar. “While we’re preparing for and in battle?”

“That’s how it’s always going to be between the races. Everyone’s enemy is the undead.”

“That’s absurd.”

He swiped at her arm with his massive hand.

“I meant the getting along part,” she said.

“I know.”

A man, the only other human they could see, strode up to them. “Well, well. New people.” He held up two fingers, each pointed towards them. “Both Norns?”

“Hey!” Kelly said.

“What’s wrong with that?” Valgar asked, loudly enough that a few sylvari nearby gave them curious glances, and Sterj raised his head.

She checked herself, leaned back. “Nothing. Of course nothing.”

“Excuse me very much. This is a predominantly human village, but none of them are eager to fight. Or strong enough.” The man had a sword in a sheath and a gun in a holster on the other side. He looked to be exactly Kelly’s age, which surprised her. Usually the humans were older. He started, to their utter disbelief, to lavishly stretch his entire body, as if limbering up.

Valgar laughed. “Please leave us.”

“This is a public place,” he panted. “A free spot to stretch.”

“I’ve never heard anyone say that,” Valgar said.

“Well, I’m not just anyone.”

“Is it starting yet?” Kelly asked, annoyed by both of them.

“I didn’t believe it when I saw you two come into the village yesterday. Especially you. A bandit trying to do good?” the man asked condescendingly.

“You’re not very observant, are you?” she said.

“Hush, everyone!” a old charr’s deep voice rumbled. The chatter among the crowd stopped. They could hear it: the splashing and moaning, faint but not far away. And there was the smell, that awful stench of rotting flesh.

Valgar and Kelly sprang up. The man, still smiling widely, didn’t cease his stretching.

“Gods, I don’t like this place anymore.” Kelly felt colder. “I can do good somewhere else, yeah? You all have handled the undead for a while.”

“I didn’t mean fighting the undead,” the man said, standing up straight. “I mean finding the charr children.”

“They’re charr?” she asked. “How do you—“

A slash sounded from the edge of the crowd and most of them started running to the north and toward the lake.

“What do you know about it?” she asked loudly above the shouts.

“Still going to stand by?” Smirking, the man unsheathed his sword and ran after a crowd of mesmer charrs beside the harbor.

Kelly looked back and groaned. Valgar was gone. She patted Sterjin’s head; he growled, and they ran off toward the water to dismember a fresh batch of the undead.

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