“Don’t go too far, and stay in sight!” yelled Zipp, she was always worried about Pocket’s tendency to find trouble. “Logically that means I can’t even go to my room as that would only satisfy one of those two requirements” replied Pocket, he had always insisted that trouble found him. Either way, mother and son had never found themselves so far from home before, Metrica was just a memory, Ebonhawke was their home now. “Well, you can go to your room if you want to” said Zipp cautiously, she knew he was up to something. Pocket ran up the stairs and into his new room, he had yet to unpack all his things, he jumped onto his bed and lay facing the ceiling peering into his Infinity Ball. It reminded him of his friends back in the College, they had worked on creating the Ball in their final year and even though everyone claimed it was a failed project Pocket clung onto hope that one day he could get it to work, get it to predict the future. He dozed off with the Ball gripped tightly in his hands, thinking about his new home and wondering when his dad would be back home.
Panttz was a Tyrian Marshall in the Knights Templar, a legendary guild renowned throughout Tyria. His loyalty and long service had been rewarded with position as Steward of Ebonhawke but it had meant leaving his wife and son. They had been apart for the last three years but now they were together again and he could bury the guilt he had always felt in choosing the fight over his family.
“I’m home!” Pocket’s eyes opened in an instant and he shot down the stairs to see his dad. He had spent the first two weeks of his new life in Ebonhawke listening intently as his father recounted epic battles against the Ascalonian ghosts in the north. “Can we go to the Brand today?!” he asked excitedly, still only halfway down the stairs. He was under strict orders to stay within the city and had pleaded many times with his father to take him on his trips to Warrior’s Crown where Panttz would mediate between the Charr and Humans. “Not today son, it’s still too dangerous”. Pocket could never understand how anything could be dangerous while his dad was around, he was one of the most decorated soldiers in Tyria and he had all of Ebonhawke at his command. After dinner a disappointed Pocket went back to his room and fell asleep with the Infinity Ball still firmly in his grasp.
That night he didn't sleep well at all, despite it being the middle of winter he felt stifled in his bed as he fell in and out of sleep. He dreamt of far off places, his mum and dad, of his friends back in Metrica and of the the ghosts in the North. His dream would suddenly transform in and out of a nightmare twisted with happiness and pain as he tossed and turned in his bed. He glimpsed a warrior adorned in spectacular Asuran armour and a flashing blade and that was when he saw it, violet shards of glowing rock and fire, the Crystal Dragon.
Pocket kept the dream to himself and the next morning scaled the city walls to peer into the distant purple haze of the Brand. He was fascinated by the story of the Crystal Dragon who had left the searing mark on the land. Every now and then there would be a commotion as soldiers filtered into the haze, followed by screaming, shouting and cries of pain. Sometimes none would return, on days like these Pocket’s sense of wonder would be replaced by fear as he lay well hidden behind the safety of the high, thick and seemingly unbreakable walls. Maybe his dad was right, it was too dangerous. As the noise died down Pocket again peered over the edge of the wall and tried to focus hard into the fog, eager to see what could be capable of instilling so much fear in so many.
There was movement, someone or something was still alive down there. He pulled himself onto the edge of the wall to try and get a better look. He fixed his gaze on what was now the silhouette of a soldier crawling out of the fog, he kept coming and soon the pale grey outline was replaced by a bloodied and battered body. The soldier was trembling and as pain shot through his body he lifted his head and their eyes met. Before Pocket could duck behind the wall the soldier let out a long anguished cry for help, he was crawling faster now towards the bottom of the wall where Pocket was perched.
Pocket closed his eyes to think, what could he possibly do? Nothing came to him, usually his brain would be whizzing full of solutions and answers but not now. He opened his eyes again in resignation and that was when he saw it, a hulking shadow was approaching the soldier from behind. And though the soldier never turned to look he knew it was coming too, he let out another cry and pointed to something. Pocket followed the tip of the soldier’s finger across to where he was pointing and he saw it, a rifle! Now his brain was buzzing again and he knew exactly what to do. He ran across the wall to the stairs, jumping down them four or five steps at a time, turned left and then stopped. He was at the Hawkgates. He heard his father's voice “Promise me you will never go outside the city alone, promise me son”, before he could hear his reply there came another cry from the now limping soldier. Pocket ran through the gates and broke into a sprint towards the rifle, flipping over rocks and skidding around the larger boulders, he was going to make it! He closed on the rifle and without stopping scooped it into his arms. He looked up to find his bearings and the soldier but what he found chilled him. The beast was standing over a motionless body and Pocket could now see it in all its hellish glory. It was a deep purple, the kind you would associate with extreme bruising, and it had a thick crystal like skin with piercing violet eyes. They stared deep into Pocket’s and froze him. Locked in place he was helpless as the beast closed on him, taking each step methodically before breaking into a menacing run straight towards him. Pocket looked down at the rifle, he had used one before but he had never shot a moving target, let alone a living one. He tried to move his legs but they wouldn't listen, “Come on!” he shouted at them repeatedly. As the beast came closer Pocket’s shouts turned into pleading and then begging, but it was no use, he would have to fight.
He set the rifle butt in his chest just like his father had shown him, one hand under the barrel, the other clasped over the trigger. The beast was now roaring. He popped his chin out over the top of the butt and rested it it down behind the sights. The ground was now shaking as the beast was just meters away. He took a couple of deep breaths and brought his finger over the trigger. CRACK!
He had missed and was thrown to the floor face first. He brought himself to his knees in a panic and waved away the dust that had been kicked up in this mysterious encounter, he wasn’t hurt. As the dust cleared it became clear what had happened and it filled him with relief and dread, it was his father Panttz! He had knocked Pocket to the side and was now grappling with the beast. Pocket was in awe of his father, he had never seen him in battle before. “Run! Now and fast back to the walls!” he shouted. Pocket detected fear in his father's voice and it stung him. “I can hit him dad, I won’t miss I promise” pleaded Pocket. “You promised me you wouldn’t leave the city” cried Panttz, that stung even more. Pocket ignored the pain, he knew he was a good shot, he took up his firing stance again and aimed for the beast’s chest. Panttz saw this out of the corner of his eye and immediately turned his back on the beast to confront his son “No! It will reflect, please don’t...”
Pocket’s hands dropped the rifle to the floor, but it wasn’t at his father’s instruction, the beast had taken advantage of the distraction and sent a thundering blow to the back of Panttz’ head. He rolled over and managed to dodge the first attack, and the second. The beast charged his energy and sent a pulse through his arms point blank into Panttz. He wouldn’t dodge this third attack, the energy ball was too large, too close and it sent Panttz’s head crashing backwards into the ground where it now lay motionless. Pocket fell to his knees and as his eyes welled up he heard the firing of what sounded like one thousand rifles. He scurried over to where his father lay and buried his face into his father’s helm. “Pocket, you must find him, you must find Damarus”.
Make sure to check back next week for Chapter Two - Finding Damarus!