Chapter 11 – The Durmand Priory
We decided it would be best to visit the Priory first, as Trahearne had some contacts there, so we headed to Lornar’s Pass. Their headquarters was a monastery, carved out of a mountain over a century ago. Within its depths, they kept the world’s leading collection of historical artifacts, magical and mundane alike. Their library was unparalleled, and there was no safer place to keep dangerous items (although Evon Gnashblade would likely argue that his vaults were).
Trahearne and I crossed the stone bridge to the east of the mountain, and were greeted by a sylvari and an asura as we reached the staircase up to the primary platform.
“Good afternoon, Firstborn!” the sylvari called, waving enthusiastically. Trahearne nodded at her, a smile crossing his face. “It’s been some weeks since we heard from you! I hope everything in Orr is cherry?”
“As cherry as a place like Orr can be,” he responded as we pulled closer. We stopped just ahead of them. “It is good to see you, Sieran.”
Sieran was shorter than me, and slighter, with a delicate brown skin and wide, eager blue eyes. She wore the embossed striped light gear that I often saw on Priory scholars, and was carrying a book which seemed to have a scepter stuck in it as a bookmark. She fixed me with a stunning smile.
“And don’t tell me. If I had to guess… You’re Caithe’s friend? Lyra?” I nodded, and she beamed. “I’ve heard so much about you – and from so many people! Did you know that Bitts here works with Zojja? Yes, the Zojja! Bitts here won the Snaff prize, which is an important thing, I understand. And so she’s heard from Zojja about you, and I’ve heard from Caithe and Trahearne both about you – and also there’s been some other – ”
“Magister Sieran, I hate to interrupt you, but we’re actually here on business,” Trahearne said, smiling tolerantly.
“Oh! Of course. So am I,” she said brightly. “Bitts and I were about to go speak to Gixx about our next assignment. What brings you here?”
“We’re here to speak to Steward Gixx as well. It is a rather prickly matter, however,” Trahearne answered. “Do you think perhaps you could help turn his ear for us?”
“I can certainly try! What’s so prickly about it?”
“The Vigil is proposing an alliance against the dragons,” I said, and watched her expression turn to surprise.
“The Vigil is? But I thought they didn’t like us!”
“Well,” Trahearne began, but I cut him off.
“I like you just fine,” I said with a grin. “And besides, who cares about personal prejudices when it comes to saving the world?”
“Good point,” she said, closing her eyes and nodding.
“The other orders do,” Bitts corrected, speaking up for the first time. Her voice was thick and nasal, but not particularly grating. “Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Vigil have a reputation for being brutish troglodytes, and the disingenuous Whispers are only marginally more palatable. Neither have been particularly favourable towards our order, historically.”
“Precisely why an alliance now is so important,” Trahearne insisted. “We cannot afford to be divided amongst ourselves.”
“Well, of course I’ll help you get Gixx on board. He’s a cantankerous little biscuit, but he’s very wise,” Sieran said, with a coy grin.
“I’ve said this before and I will say it again: I object to the term ‘biscuit’ as a racial descriptor,” Bitts grumped. Sieran shook her head.
“It’s not an insult,” she said. “Biscuits are delicious!”
“So, let’s go in to speak to Steward Gixx, then?” I asked, gesturing up the stairs behind us in the hopes of avoiding an argument.
We made our way into the heart of the Durmand Priory. It was a truly awe-inspiring place – the center of it being a pillar of monumental floating tablets. Their smooth basalt surfaces were inscribed with golden runes and lettering, and they spun gracefully around the column of energy that suspended them. At their base was an asura, grey and wizened, with a down-turned mouth and scruffy hair – presumably Gixx. He was talking to a norn with a bushy brown beard and an outfit stained with grease and singed on the edges.
“I’m grateful to be accepted for the position,” he was saying to Gixx as we approached. “I have been cooking for the finest lodges in Hoelbrak, but I think working with the Priory will really allow me to stretch my wings. I have some unique dishes that I’m eager to try!”
“Yes, well,” Gixx seemed a measure less enthusiastic than his companion, “I urge you not to get overly experimental. The Priory is a dangerous enough place without having an upset stomach. Ah! Chef Robertus! Just in time.”
A human, far more youthful in appearance than the haggard norn, was just coming up from one of the grated entrances that led, via staircase, into the monastery proper. He had a white uniform folded over one arm, and looked inquisitively at Gixx.
“Meet your new assistant,” the asura gestured, “This is Seimur, and he’ll be helping you in the kitchen. Please escort him to his quarters and give him a tour of the compound. I’d do it myself, but I’m a very busy man. Additionally, I can’t help but notice that Magister Sieran hasn’t stopped waving at me for the past minute or so, so I suppose I’d best attend to her…”
He left the eager norn chef to his nonplussed new mentor, and approached us.
“Yes, Magister, what is it? Oh, and Trahearne, you’re here as well. Good to see you.” He gave us a rather brusque nod as greeting, and Sieran jumped right into it.
“Bitts and I have finished investigating the matter you sent us out on. We believe we can fashion a sheath for the sword, that will allow us to – ”
“With respect,” Bitts interrupted, “Should we be speaking about order-specific missions among the hoi polloi? No offense.”
“None taken,” I said.
“Precisely what I was going to say,” Gixx said. “We can debrief later. For now, I’d like to hear what brings the Firstborn and his… bodyguard?”
“Uh,” I said, at a loss.
“I suppose. Sort of,” Trahearne said, equally hesitant.
“And his bodyguard to the Priory,” Gixx finished. He gave us an expectant look.
“We are here because the dragons are a growing danger to us all,” Trahearne began. “I know this is hardly news to you, but the elder dragon Zhaitan has been growing bolder. He recently staged a massive attack that took out Claw Island and threatened Lion’s Arch as well.”
“My order and the Lionguard worked together to fight them back, but both of us took heavy casualties. We do not currently have the numbers to retake Claw Island, and we suspect that if we don’t retake it soon, the dragon will attack again while we’re vulnerable.”
“I presume you’re with the Vigil, then,” Gixx said. He was giving me a rather skeptical look. “I fail to see what this has to do with my order. We are not soldiers.”
“No,” I agreed. “But you have other skills. Magic, knowledge, artifacts. Things that the Vigil lacks. You would be staunch allies against the dragon, if you were willing.”
“And if we are not willing?” he asked, folding his arms and tilting his head back in defiance.
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” Sieran said, waving her book at the Steward. “Fighting against the dragons is our purpose, Gixx. Imagine how much more we could do with the manpower of the Vigil and the knowledge of the Whispers! We’d be unstoppable!”
“The Whispers are in on this, too?” Gixx groaned. “I hardly see how this benefits the Priory. For years, you’ve snubbed us and looked down on us, and now suddenly you come crawling to us for help? That’s not precisely a tempting offer.”
“To be fair, Steward,” Sieran added, “We’ve snubbed them and looked down on them, too.”
“Well, yes,” he grunted. “But that’s different. We’re objectively better than a bunch of meatheads and… and… sneakthieves!”
“Regardless of your personal feelings in the matter,” Trahearne chimed in, pre-empting any possible objection I might raise, “I believe it is beneficial to Tyria at large for us to form an alliance, if not beneficial to the Priory in specific.”
“Mmm,” the Steward frowned. “You may have a point. In that case, I will consider your offer. This is not a guarantee, mind you, but should we decide to work alongside the other orders, then I shall be in touch with you.”
“Time is of the essense,” I reiterated. “We plan to meet in Lion’s Arch in a week’s time.”
“Very well,” he agreed, sounding a bit defeated. “If we agree to an alliance, we shall be there.”
“Thank you kindly for your consideration,” Trahearne said with a respectful bow. “I only hope the Whispers are as benevolent and reasonable as your order is.”
I heard a muttered “I doubt it” from the female asura behind me, but no one else seemed to pay it any mind. Trahearne continued speaking.
“In the meantime, may we use your asura gate?” He asked, and Gixx’s mouth turned down at one corner in a long-suffering look.
“Yes. You understand those are generally for order members only. However, because you are a long time friend of the Priory – ”
“And because Lyra is such a rising prominent figure,” Sieran added cheerfully.
“ – I will give you dispensation to use it this once,” he finished. Sieran clapped her hands together in satisfaction.
“I knew you’d see things our way,” she said. “Best of luck with your mission, you two!”
“Thank you, Magister,” I said, bowing to her.
“Call me Sieran. See you on the battlefield! Oh, I’ve always wanted to say that.” She giggled and waved at us as we departed.
I heard a muffled, “Don’t say that! It’s not set in stone, Magister!” before we passed through the shimmering pink portal.