Caught in the middle of two Elder Dragons, the races of Tyria need every ally they can muster if they’re to survive. The months go by, and more faction representatives congregate at the Eye of the North. The Commander’s war table is ringed with useful figures.
But turn your gaze away from these heroes, straining under the weight of apocalypse, and spare a thought for the bruised egos of those politely turned away from the fight. A manor in Divinity’s Reach hosts a meeting for a forlorn group of individuals.
KRYTAN NOBLE: Yes, well, we’ve probably waited long enough for our last member. Perhaps we should begin. If you could all take a seat around the… Oh. Yes, I see how that can be a—
ETTIN: No space for ettin on puny chair! This human chair! Where ettin chair? Plant thing has chair!
CHOYA: [self-satisfied babbling]
ETTIN: Me want chair!
KRYTAN NOBLE: Well, let’s see. I’m sure we can—
CONSORTIUM REP: I hope you’ve had the wisdom to invest in some premium insurance. If not, I have some great contacts in—
ETTIN: This stupid! Smash stupid meeting!
The ettin swings down its club, cracking the round table in two. It throws the insulting chair against the wall, exploding it to pieces, and sits on the floor with a harumph.
CONSORTIUM REP: [cough] Offer rescinded.
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: Woah, did you see that? That perfect arc as the club came down? [whistles] That there’s the kind of gracefulness you could spend your whole life training for. Just, bravo! Bravo!
CHOYA: [excited babbling]
KRYTAN NOBLE: Great-grandmother’s mahogany… [clears throat] No, this is…this is perfect. [sniffs] A broken table at the centre, binding us dear fellows together. It’s just wonderful symbolism, isn’t it?
The circus trouper reaches out and drags from his pocket an impossibly long string of coloured handkerchiefs. Astounded, the nobleman dabs his tears.
CONSORTIUM REP: Yes, the crack definitely improves our situation. It’s always best to differentiate yourself from the competition.
KRYTAN NOBLE: Wh-Bu-Ma-Ah-Competition? What do you think it is we’re doing here?
CHOYA: [mysterious dancing]
ETTIN: We smash stupid Commander face! Then smash ice dragon and laugh at Commander!
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: No, no, no! We can’t take on the Commander. They have the crowd on their side. The audience would eat us alive.
ETTIN: Me eat audense first!
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: Love that fire, four-eyes, but the real reason we’re here is to figure out how we’re going to change the Commander’s mind. I know a great hypnotist. If we could just arrange for transport to the Eye of the North, then—
CONSORTIUM REP: This is what happens when you don’t scribe the terms and conditions in advance. Really. What kind of shoddy operation are you trying to pull here?
KRYTAN NOBLE: I’m not— [clears throat] This! …is a support group.
CHOYA: [rolls off seat]
KRYTAN NOBLE: Obviously.
The Consortium Rep rises from his seat and heads out to leave.
KRYTAN NOBLE: Oh, come now! We all need to talk, don’t we? And who else will be better listeners than the ones who’ve been through the same humiliation? Tell us. Why did the Commander reject you?
The Consortium Rep pivots one-eighty.
CONSORTIUM REP: Which unscrupulous benefactor paid you to spread this fabrication?
KRYTAN NOBLE: I, uh, excuse me?
CONSORTIUM REP: If you’re not a hired stooge, then it would behoove you to hire better fact-checkers. The Consortium denies being rejected by the Commander or any group affiliated with said champion. Our negotiator was sent to the Eye of the North to fix a price for our resources, but no viable deal was reached. That’s the official story, but put simply…the Commander could not afford us.
Dignity intact, the Consortium Rep marches out of the meeting.
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: A bit wordy on the exit, but that’s alright. If we were all spectacular, who would we perform for?
The choya jumps onto one half of the broken table. Through interpretive dance, they weave an epic tale of a great journey, starting from the little known village of Pricklepatch Hollow, all the way to the unwelcoming heights of the Shiverpeaks. Choya went brrrr. There they met none other than Pact Marshal Thackeray. Swish, went his lustrous hair. And then—
ETTIN: Stupid plant! Speak loud! Me can’t hear story.
CHOYA: [rabid gibbering, probably profanities]
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: I liked the little dance! Now, imagine that with a whole troupe, and this little guy taking centre-stage as the main talent.
CHOYA: [ugly chirping]
The little guy takes a bow which they transition into a roll back to their seat.
KRYTAN NOBLE: Yes, one must keep rolling on. Right, well, I suppose I can share next. If no one minds, that is. [pause] Well—
ETTIN: They said ettins no fight ice dragon! Two heads has two whispers of ice dragons. But me don’t hear good, so me still fight? NO! So me jump on Commander table. Make listen, not smash. Then me fall, through little purple, big purple… [dejected roar] Next time, smash.
KRYTAN NOBLE: You fell through ‘purple’?
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: Ah, the portal exit. Effective crowd control if you’ve got a rowdy bunch in the stalls, but I’m sure you weren’t being any trouble, four-eyes. You were just seeking a stage, a platform, so your voice could be heard!
The choya pats the slouched ettin on the back.
KRYTAN NOBLE: And that’s precisely the trouble with those elites around the table. They think their voices are the only ones that matter. They wouldn’t listen to a word I had to say in defence of, uh, certain events.
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: [gasp] The same happened to me. Really, you raise one adorable, baby slubling into a giant sloth with almost insatiable hunger and they begin to judge your good judgement.
KRYTAN NOBLE: Exactly! I told them it was Lord Faren’s idea to follow the Pact into the heart of the jungle – Faren, who was at the wheel when Mordremoth pulled us down – but they gave him a seat! “Swordmaster” Faren. Why, I could beat that charlatan in a duel! Why not?
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: I don’t know. I heard he charged right into Palawa Joko’s palace and cut a way in for the Commander, even with the walls crawling with deadly scarabs!
KRYTAN NOBLE: Oh, please.
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: It’s true. My friend joined the—
KRYTAN NOBLE: Well forgive me if I don’t believe a friend of yours, just because—
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: Hey! What’s that supposed mean?
KRYTAN NOBLE: Well, you raised a monster. So I can’t—
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: [gasp] Don’t you talk about her. I know how to juggle swords. I bet you can’t even hold one!
KRYTAN NOBLE: The audacity!
As the two humans argue, the choya comments with unimpressed gibberish. The ettin shares the sentiment and so the two leave the manor, beginning their newfound friendship and series of misadventures.
KRYTAN NOBLE: You take that back! Grandmother has nothing to do with this!
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: You attacked my family first!
KRYTAN NOBLE: What are you— You mean your sloth?! Are you equating my grandmother to that abomination?
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: Oh yeah, you’re asking for it, mister!
NOBLE AND TROUPER: …
LARGOS: I was led to believe this would be a meeting of like-minded individuals, yet I see the assassination of Elder Dragons has not been discussed.
KRYTAN NOBLE: [gulps] I’m so glad you could join us after all. When did you— No, nevermind. About the assassinations… I’m starting to think I might not have been clear about the, uh, um…
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: The— The nature of the meeting.
KRYTAN NOBLE: Right.
A deathly silence steals over the manor.
LARGOS: You have wasted my time. Worse, you have lured me from my hunt with false promises. The Tethyos Houses are not known to be forgiving.
KRYTAN NOBLE: Oh gods! Don’t kill me!
IVY’S CIRCUS TROUPER: Where’s your sword?!
KRYTAN NOBLE: [crying]
LARGOS: You are not worthy prey, but the debt must still be paid. One day, I will come to collect.
The largos disappears. The circus trouper makes a mad dash out of the manor. She bumps into someone at the door, shakes her head at the collision, and runs out into the streets.
Faren walks in, smoothing out his shirt.
SWORDMASTER FAREN: Old chum, did I leave my sword here at that party last week? I really must find it before I attend that confidential war meeting I was talking about, and…
The self-obsessed Faren notices the broken table and man. Bewildered, he grapples with the fact that he had come too late to avert some kind of catastrophic disaster. What kind of hero—
With a swordmaster’s skill, Faren slices the whisper at its metaphoric root and takes a seat at the broken table, opposite his friend.