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  1. #1
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    New Friends, Old Enemies (GW2)

    New Friends, Old Enemies (GW2)

    Saskia Redflame


    Saskia scanned the horizon of the frozen tundra, looking for any signs of movement, the braids of her hair blowing with the bitter cold winds from the North. She was the first in a long time to bear the name Redflame. Sonja, her grandmother from many generations before had been the first. Her hair was not the fiery solid red of her grandmother’s, but that of the golden red flame of a campfire. It was her hair that had earned her the name Redflame, long before she had ever shown any skills as an Elementalist.

    And even before then it was her temper that often solidified her name. It wasn’t a quick temper that went off like the gust of steam and water from a geyser, but it was that of a slow steady heat from a burning flame. It took awhile to make Saskia angry, but when she was mad, her anger burned hot and steady for days at a time. She had an iron will and nerves of steel, when Saskia set her mind to a task she accomplished it. Her size belied her quickness, Saskia could move like no other through the thickly packed snow or dense forest trees in search of prey. She had thus earned the name Saskia Swiftrunner for her dogged hunt of prey.

    Absently, she touched the long piece of leather thong that tied off her braided hair. It may have appeared to be like any other strip of leather that a Norn used to tie back their hair, but this was no ordinary leather. It came from his leather, the soft leather he wore at their wedding celebration. The small strip she tore off with a smile before they had made love. The same small strip that always adorned her hair when it was braided.

    She let out a long crystallized breath of air, her mind suddenly flooded with the visions of that day. The argument they had over him leaving with his father, like so many other foolish Norn that hoped to fight the Dragonspawn. Not one of their people had ever returned from such a venture, yet here he was following his father and a group of other men hoping to do what no one had done before.


    "Erik." She said as she breathed his name into the cold open air.

    Saskia was yet still young by Norn standards, appearing to be about the age of a 20 year old human. She and Erik had only been together a year before he foolishly followed his father to their deaths. Because no Norn considered existing as a frozen mindless husk living, and that's what had become of them. Saskia shivered, at the memory, at the fear of wondering what had happened to the women who were never seen again.

    Movement out of the corner of her eye took her immediate attention. It was like that night when they had returned as newly turned minions of the Dragonspawn. Icebrood. It had been subtle movement at first, the Norn who watched the perimeter of their small homestead not at first noticing the movement. Then the horns had sounded and Saskia's heart had leapt into her throat. The one thing that terrified her was fighting what had once been her people and in her heart she knew that the day would come that she would come face to face with Erik.

    It had been nearly a week since they had left, and there had been no word. At the sounds of the horns she dressed in her leathers she used for the hunt, supple and soft for quick and easy movement. She slid a pair of daggers into their sheath along her belt and grabbed her staff and slung her wool cloak around her shoulders and bolted out the door. She had feared this moment, knowing that every time a group left to fight the Dragonspawn they returned home to wreak havoc upon their living kin. She had heard the stories from Hoelbrak and although they had never suffered as many raids by the Icebrood, they had happened.

    Helga Mandragor tamer had tried to stop her from joining the others on the front line. The older women knew Saskia would not be ready to face Erik as he was now. But the younger Norn had not earned the name Swiftrunner for nothing. Saskia quickly passed even the most athletic of the Norn, her feet seeming to glide over the top of the snow as she bounded out to meet the brood.


    "Raven, guide my sight!" Saskia prayed as she summoned a hailstorm of fire.

    She had picked out the movement along the tree line, just as she was doing now. But as her eyes confirmed the movement of a mother bear and her cubs, that night it had been the movement of a horde of Icebrood. Spell after spell she cast while others joined in with bow and arrow, when they came upon them, Saskia used her staff as a club, before finally sheathing the staff and removing the daggers from her belt.

    Over run, she watched as her fellow Norn transformed into Bear and tore into what used to be what used to be their brothers, fathers and sons. Blood flew and bones cracked, and bellies spilled upon the white snow.


    "Bear, grant me..." He pray and words of transformation were cut short as her eyes locked upon the newly turned husk of her husband.

    "Erik!" The words came out as he came forward, eyes dead and mouth snarling.


    She was frozen, she couldn't move, nor could she raise her weapons to defend herself. A sudden foolish thought entered her mind, if she could just reason with him, get through to him somehow. Her heart and head conflicted by what was true and what she wanted to be true, just enough for Erik's jagged blade to slice through her leather and draw first blood. I deep wound to her abdomen, the shock not enough to wake her senses. She staggered back, holding her hand against the wound, even the blood, her own blood was not enough to wake her from this living nightmare.

    The pummel of his sword came down, and all was black. Saskia would have thought for sure she had died if she hadn't waken in the fire lit room of her home. She tried to move, and the firm hands of Helga made her stay put. Her fevered mind heard the rambling words of the older Norn women, the chastising for her foolishness. But somewhere in her fog filled mind, Saskia knew it was concern, concern for her.

    Her wounds had healed. She had discovered that the older Norn had fought of the Icebrood and drug her back into the village. Erik was not found amongst the slain brood, it was believed he had retreated with the remaining group back to the Dragonspawn. Saskia had remained quiet, her wounds healing, but the scars of her heart were greater than that of the one across her abdomen. Now she set out to track him down and slay him. Could she bring herself to do so this time?

    She watched the mother bear and her cub retreat into the thick of the woods. By the time her wounds had healed and she had gathered the strength emotionally as well as physically she had left the village. Before doing so, she had heard the news from Hoelbrak. A Norn by the name of Eir Stegalkin and her hunting party had defeated the Dragonspawn. Perhaps Erik had been killed by this small warrior group led by a fellow Norn? Even so, Saskia could not leave it to chance, she had to know, because Erik was her responsibility.

    Like Jora had hunted down her brother corrupted so long ago, Saskia would do the same of her husband. And if she found him, she would kill him, or die trying. She let out another long breath of air and gathered her wits. Moving softly across the top of the snow, she headed North.
    Peace is a lie
    There is only passion
    Through passion I gain strength
    Through strength I gain power
    Through power I gain victory
    Through victory my chains are broken
    The Force shall set me free

  2. #2
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Saskia Redflame



    Saskia warmed her hands by the fire. It had been a long days travel, even for her. The winters seemed more brutal since the elder dragons had returned. Jormag had been a source of destruction for her people, reducing the numbers of the Norn from what they once were. It wasn’t just the loss that added to the bitter chill in the night air, it was the change in the world.

    Tomorrow she would head deeper into the Shiver Peaks in search for Erik. The chances that she would ever find him were low, but she had to try. It seemed to be her only purpose in life now. Could she ever go back home, would things ever be the same. She pondered these things as she rubbed her hands of the flame.


    “Raven help me to be swift in my journey.” Saskia whispered.

    “Bear give me strength to carry on.”

    “Wolf, help me to be cunning so that I might avoid my enemies.”

    Saskia built up the flames of her fire. She would sleep now, how restful depended upon the sounds of the night. It was dangerous to be out here so far, and she was alone. She pulled the furs up around her shoulders and stared out into the night. Sheltered within the opening of a rock face, she kept her back to the flame and her eyes to the darkness of the night.

    “Bear help me, I am so lonely…and afraid.”

    It wasn’t just the fear of physically being alone, she felt it in the pits of her stomach, her very soul was felt empty. Where would she go from here? If she did not die during her journey, what purpose did she serve herself or her people. Saskia’s eyes drifted closed, and the night allowed her peace.

    In the morning, Saskia ate a quick meal and left the safety of her shelter. The morning would bring trouble as she traveled further into the realm of the icebrood. Her only warning, was the sound of a lone Raven’s cry. A sign of favor, for no living thing lived up here that was not untouched by Jormag. The sound of thunder cracked through the sky as Saskia summoned a blinding bolt of lightening, followed by a hail storm of fire.


    One lone Norn against a horde of icebrood, the odds were greatly against the Elementalist. She summoned all her elemental gifts until exhaustion prevented her from summoning more. With swiftness, she ran, pulling her daggers from their sheath.

    “Bear give me strength to defeat my enemies!” She prayed as she cut through her enemies with speed.

    Even with all her skill, Saskia was in trouble. She knew her journey may end before it had even begun. It was the risk she had excepted when she chose to look for Erik. She gave a might battle cry and charged the group, her eyes always looking for Erik.

  3. #3
    Anakita Snakecharm
    The Year 1324 A.E.




    The Ranger sniffed the air. It smelled like ice, and like Icebrood. Some said they had no scent, but she thought that was just because most people had either never been nose to nose with them, or else had been too distracted to bother noting their smell. That, or didn't live to tell the tale.

    To the Ranger, they smelled like the sharp, almost metallic odor of ice, layered over the dense scent of frozen earth, laced through with a heavy smell of decay and rot when they were new, till they froze completely. They were close. She followed, relying mostly on gut instinct to carry her the right way. Most would run in the other direction, of course... but she was hunting them. Taking on the entire Brood alone would be suicide, but picking off a few here and there carried minimal risk, as long as she was quick and quiet. A small blow to the dragons, perhaps, but a blow nonetheless-- and a blow that would allow her to live to fight another day.

    And then someday, it would be the day they would defeat the dragons.

    Some said it was impossible, but Anakita didn't agree. She didn't believe in despair. Anything was possible; you just needed a solid plan, good timing, and a large measure of luck. The fact she was still alive suggested that the Ranger was capable of all of those things. She couldn't do it alone, though. Her family couldn't do it alone. They would need trustworthy and courageous allies.

    Allies were proving a problem, though. People knew how dangerous the dragons and their minions were... and people didn't want to die. On some level, Anakita could understand that. She didn't have a death wish either-- but she would prefer a death in battle in the name of a good cause, to the slow attrition of barring her door and turning away while the world fell apart around them. She wanted to fight.

    If the people all rose, the dragons wouldn't stand a chance. That dream was nowhere close to reality, though. Reality was a few people stood against the tide, while most cowered in fear. Anakita didn't begrudge the fear; life in these times was dangerous and frightening. She did begrudge the inaction, though.

    Even as these thoughts crossed her mind for probably the millionth time, she heard the sounds of struggle. At first, it appeared the Icebrood were fighting amongst themselves, which surprised Anakita. She would not have expected they were capable of sufficiently independent thought to quarrel with each other. As she got closer to investigated, she saw a flash of lightning followed by a shower of flame. Anakita grinned. Apparently she wasn't the only one fighting the good fight today.

    She battled her way to the other woman's side, pulling patiently with her bow or laying down a barrage of arrows when she could, and slashing with her hunting knives when the melee force swarmed into close range.Within minutes, she was next to the Elementalist.

    Anakita took a moment to push down her soft leather hood, shaking off the snow, revealing damp braids and a face painted in Norn fashion, though sweat from the battle was tracing trails through the pigments. She grinned.

    "You must be the new Redflame," she commented conversationally, as she drew her bow and let an arrow fly, straight through the throat of one of the Icebrood, which collapsed with a gurgle. "There's the hair, the way you cast spells... and who else would be crazy enough to be out here all alone?"

    She laughed faintly at herself. "Well, aside from me, of course."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 09-06-2012 at 11:09 AM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  4. #4
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Saskia

    The sound of frozen flesh being cut and torn sticks fresh within her mind as Saskia did her best to rip though the dead frozen husks of her people. Each man that fell was once a brother, a father or a son, but she had to remind herself that they were no longer Norn. Eric’s face never came into view as she fought through the wave of icebrood.



    The words of transformation were on her lips as she went to ask for Bear’s strength, but they stopped short as an arrow zipped past her head and found its mark in the middle of the frozen skull. She was no longer alone, but at the moment she could not afford to turn her gaze upon the direction in which the arrow had come. Raven, Bear, Wolf and Snow leopard seemed to have blessed her this day.



    The cracking, popping and frozen thunk of blade, staff and arrow were the only sounds within the valley. It was not long before Saskia’s mystery person was fighting alongside her. Out of the corners of her eye she saw the hood that covered the face of a human. A woman by the way she moved, too slow to be a Sylvari, obviously too tall for an Asuran and definitely not Norn.



    But as she removed her hood, Saskia saw the face paint. Who was this human? Saskia stopped dead in her tracks when Anakita spoke. How did she know who she was? She was not like most Norn who were known by name outside of her own people. Was she with her grandmother’s old guild? The worn parchment was tucked inside her pack. It was one of many things that had been on Saskia’s mind for if she survived this journey.



    Her staff came up and cracked the side of an icebrood’s skull, dropping him like much of the dead weight he truly was.



    “I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage human, you know me, but I do not know you.”



    Even through the cloud of despair that hung over one so young, Anakita would see the fire of battle, the thrill of the hunt burning bright within Saskia’s eyes. Her hair was lighter and her will strong and despite the lack of wit her grandmother possessed, she was truly the great granddaughter of Sonja Redflame.



    The last of the icebrood was dispatched, but before turning toward the Ranger, Saskia searched the faces of those lying on the ground. There was a mixture of relief and anxiety in her look. When she stood and turned toward Anakita, the Ranger would catch the first look of the pink and angry scar that crossed her abdomen. It had only been a few months, and it would take a while for the scar to lose its color. The young Norn finally got a good look at the Ranger. There was something familiar about her, but Saskia couldn’t place it.

  5. #5
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Saskia

    The sound of frozen flesh being cut and torn sticks fresh within her mind as Saskia did her best to rip though the dead frozen husks of her people. Each man that fell was once a brother, a father or a son, but she had to remind herself that they were no longer Norn. Eric’s face never came into view as she fought through the wave of icebrood.



    The words of transformation were on her lips as she went to ask for Bear’s strength, but they stopped short as an arrow zipped past her head and found its mark in the middle of the frozen skull. She was no longer alone, but at the moment she could not afford to turn her gaze upon the direction in which the arrow had come. Raven, Bear, Wolf and Snow leopard seemed to have blessed her this day.



    The cracking, popping and frozen thunk of blade, staff and arrow were the only sounds within the valley. It was not long before Saskia’s mystery person was fighting alongside her. Out of the corners of her eye she saw the hood that covered the face of a human. A woman by the way she moved, too slow to be a Sylvari, obviously too tall for an Asuran and definitely not Norn.



    But as she removed her hood, Saskia saw the face paint. Who was this human? Saskia stopped dead in her tracks when Anakita spoke. How did she know who she was? She was not like most Norn who were known by name outside of her own people. Was she with her grandmother’s old guild? The worn parchment was tucked inside her pack. It was one of many things that had been on Saskia’s mind for if she survived this journey.



    Her staff came up and cracked the side of an icebrood’s skull, dropping him like much of the dead weight he truly was.



    “I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage human, you know me, but I do not know you.”



    Even through the cloud of despair that hung over one so young, Anakita would see the fire of battle, the thrill of the hunt burning bright within Saskia’s eyes. Her hair was lighter and her will strong and despite the lack of wit her grandmother possessed, she was truly the great granddaughter of Sonja Redflame.



    The last of the icebrood was dispatched, but before turning toward the Ranger, Saskia searched the faces of those lying on the ground. There was a mixture of relief and anxiety in her look. When she stood and turned toward Anakita, the Ranger would catch the first look of the pink and angry scar that crossed her abdomen. It had only been a few months, and it would take a while for the scar to lose its color. The young Norn finally got a good look at the Ranger. There was something familiar about her, but Saskia couldn’t place it.

  6. #6
    Anakita Snakecharm
    The Year 1324 A.E.




    Anakita grinned, baring her teeth slightly and looking a little feral, but it wasn't a threatening gesture. On the contrary, the Ranger was clearly amused, in spite of the dismissive mention of her species... or perhaps because of it.

    "I suppose you wouldn't, Norn," she replied in kind. "I wouldn't expect you to know my name."

    Her eyes strayed over the battlefield, and a look of sadness crossed her face. She didn't hate these Icebrood. Their reanimated bodies might be her enemies, but their souls she pitied. They had been husbands, wives, daughters, sons, parents, and friends to someone, somewhere. Perhaps some of them had come to challenge the dragons because they were overconfident, or foolish, or arrogant... but even for such mistakes, their punishment was extreme. Anakita hoped their souls had found peace in The Mists, whether at the time the dragons had claimed them as victims, or now that their cursed corporeal non-lives had ended.

    No, she certainly didn't hate them. When one of them twitched on the ground, though, Anakita let an arrow fly, piercing the corpse that had once been a Norn woman through the forehead. The Icebrood went still. There was no malice in Anakita's eyes; still only compassion. If she didn't destroy them, though, they would only turn other innocent victims into more like themselves.

    It reminded her of the Afflicted in Cantha, victims of a plague more than two human lifetimes ago. Anakita had pitied them too, and their deaths had grieved her spirit. Every arrow that flew carried her guilt along with it. Yet she killed them, because she had no choice. What they had become was not what they were, and what they had become had to die for the safety of everyone else.

    "I knew your grandmother," Anakita continued, almost absently at first, but as she continued her focus on the conversation returned. "Sonja Redflame. A brave woman. I admired her a great deal. If I may say so, you don't look a thing like her. Your spirit, though... I think I may see that in you."

    It was a strange claim. Anakita hardly looked old enough. She appeared to be perhaps forty at most, likely a few years younger. And yet there was a certain burden of years visible in her grey eyes, which marked her as much older than the hair free of whiteness and the mostly unlined face would suggest.

    "I'm Anakita Snakecharm. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Who did you lose?"

    Then, realizing the obscurity of her question, she clarified. "You were looking at their faces. Not checking for signs of life, or counting your kills. You were looking for someone you recognized. You didn't find them, though. I don't think you're quite sure whether that makes you happy or sad. So I wonder... who was it?"

  7. #7
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Saskia Redflame


    Saskia bent low to pick up her pack that had been discarded during the battle. She missed the amusement in Anakita's tone, something her grandmother would never have done. But the young Norn wasn't in the mood to enjoy life's amusing moments, perhaps ever again. When Anakita spoke of knowing her grandmother, she turned and gave the Ranger her full attention.

    She regarded the Ranger with a steady gaze. How could one so young know her grandmother? Anakita maybe older than her, but she certainly wasn't old enough to have known her grandmother. She colored slightly at Anakita's compliment. Having her grandmother's spirit was something to be just as proud about. Not that Saskia was unattractive, quite the contrary, she just did not possess any of her great grandmother's exotic features.

    The question of how she knew her grandmother was on her lips just as the Ranger spoke her name. Anakita would see the recognition of the name on the young Norn's face, followed by the brief moment of uncertainty. She had heard about all of her grandmother's guild mates, passed down through stories and the legend of the Ranger and her curse were one of them. Again, she wondered about the roll of parchment in her pack.


    "I know of you. It is an honor." Saskia replied.

    She drew in a deep breath, her tone once again very somber.

    "Erik...my husband."

    "I must take care of him, it is my responsibility."

  8. #8
    Anakita Snakecharm
    The Year 1324 A.E.





    "I'm sorry for your loss," Anakita replied simply.

    It was a loss, even if Erik was still walking around. The man Saskia had loved was gone. All that remained was to get rid of the animated corpse that used his guise.

    As she had many times before, Anakita wondered if those whose forms were altered by the dragons still had their souls. She hoped not. It would be kinder for them, if they had gone on to The Mists. If their bodies were just empty shells. It was hard to imagine a worse horror than being trapped in your own body, unable to avoid unleashing bloodshed on your remaining loved ones. Unable to avoid making them into monsters like yourself. They wouldn't be able to answer the question, so Anakita took the easier way out, and imagined their souls had fled, leaving empty husks.

    "Do you need any help?" Anakita asked. "My family finds ourselves with nothing but time, at the moment."

    That wasn't entirely true; they weren't as idle as she was implying. They were fighting where they could, gathering people and resources for one great campaign against the dragons. Helping Saskia wouldn't conflict with that aim, though. Working together could in fact advance both of their objectives. The Ranger figured she might as well offer. Any small blow against the dragons was a worthwhile one.

  9. #9
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Saskia Redflame


    The offer of condolence and help gave Saskia an odd feeling of honor. In a world where men found their own problems more important, men who would betray they're friends, there was comfort and reassurance in Anakita's words. But Saskia was Norn, stubborn, prideful and feeling unworthy of aid from one with Anakita's reputation. There was a lot of her great grandmother's character in her, but she was not her.

    "I thank you for your offer, but it is my burden to carry, it is my task to complete."

    In the frozen tundra, it was hard to tell a healthy Norn from one who was not. Acclimated to the cold, often times wearing clothing that would freeze a human or other being, their skin was always pale. Light blue in some instances like the cold winter skies. Saskia had no sooner spoken to Anakita when the last of the endorphins keeping the young Norn upright had run their course. Saskia collapsed in the middle of their frozen battlefield.
    Last edited by Tigers; 07-12-2011 at 05:52 AM.

  10. #10
    Anakita Snakecharm
    The Year 1324 A.E.




    "Stupid... heavy... stubborn... recalcitrant... contrary... head up their own..."

    Anakita huffed and puffed, dragging Saskia across the frozen battlefield. She held the taller woman by the shoulders, and Saskia's boot heels bounced off rocks and frozen corpses as her feet scraped along the ground.

    "...NORN!"

    She didn't really feel that way about the Norn. Anakita actually greatly admired their fortitude, determination, independence, and pride. At the moment, though? She wished they were, at the very least, smaller.

    The Ranger gave a few last yanks, dragging the prone figure toward the nearby cave, the only source of shelter.

    "Should just... leave you here!"

    But of course, she wouldn't. More Icebrood might show up - or wolves, or Jotuns, or any other manner of nasty that was so common out here. An unconscious woman would be an easy meal. It wasn't Saskia's fault she had passed out. Anakita would do her best to keep the Elementalist safe.

    "You owe me!" The Ranger added to the unaware Norn, not really believing she would ever collect.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 07-19-2011 at 05:05 PM.

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