My name's Kody. Though I write and publish young-adult fiction in my spare time, I had a hankering to write this story a few years back, when the assault on Lion's Arch took place.
This story -- _The Lucky Coin -- follows one of my characters, an Asura named Wishmee Song, in the aftermath of the destruction of the city.
It's a simple short story, but I thought I'd share it.
Lemme know what you think!
The Lucky Coin
Lion’s Arch lies in ruins.
Flames still burn. Smoke continues to rise. And worst yet: people are still dying, and there seems to be little anyone can do.
How do we go on, her mother asks, after this?
Wishmee Song opens her orange eyes to find her mother sighing, and her father kneeling over the remnants of their home. “Mother?” she asks. “Father?”
“Yes, dear?” her mother asks.
“How are we going to make our way back to Rata Sum?”
Neither of her parents respond. Rather, they close their eyes, take deep breaths, and look vacantly into the distance, near where the struggling survivors are still making their way out of the city to Gendarran Fields.
It doesn’t take much to realize they are lost, just as Wishmee herself is.
Frowning, Wishmee lifts her head to survey the surroundings—hoping, with all her might, that her older sister, Hexmee, is all right.
She was always good with her gun, Wishmee thinks. You don’t have to worry about her.
They called Hexmee a Deadeye for a reason. With her expert aim and hawkish gaze, it had been impossible for any of Scarlet Briar’s minions to escape out the Canal Ward. She’d been positioned there purposely—and told, by General Almora Soulkeeper herself, to guard the civilians with her life, which she’d done to make not only her family, but Wishmee proud.
Given her age, Wishmee had been told to flee with her parents to Gendarran. But now?
Standing here, in the Canal Ward, it is impossible to ignore the devastation.
But what can she do to help? Especially her family?
A glimmer of light is reflected off a nearby hunk of metal—undoubtedly one of Scarlet Briar’s monstrous metal minions—on the high hills, causing Wishmee’s eyes to dilate. She considers this only for a moment before stepping forward.
“Wishmee,” her mother says. “Where are you—”
“I have to help,” the small Asura says.
“There’s nothing you can do,” her father says.
“There has to be something,” Wishmee replies. “Anything.”
Her parents don’t respond at first. Then, slowly, her father nods, and says, “Okay. See what you can do.”
Wishmee knows she can truly do little to help anyone. Given she has not come of age, she has been unable to apply to any of the Colleges, nor does she really want to. She has always felt her place has been elsewhere. Now, having seen and survived this… she knows she belongs elsewhere.
Not in a school, she thinks, or in a lab.
No. She belongs out here, in the field, fighting for what’s right.
With that in mind, she trudges forward, then be gins to make her way up the hill.
As she climbs, slowly but surely rising above the devastation over the sands of the Durmand Priory Dig Site, Wishmee tries her hardest to keep her focus intact, her mind away from the things she’d seen during their escape from their home along the Canal Ward. But still—she cannot fight them, and sees the images flash through her mind anyway.
The Flame Legion—
That horrible Sylvari, that glistening skeleton—
Her father once said that creative madness was genetic—that you were either born exceptionally brilliant or inherently deviant. There was never a threshold that you could remain on, he said. At least, not until Scarlet Briar. She, that mad Sylvari, had done this, with untold energies that even the Pact could not begin to understand.
They’d thought, with the undead dragon gone, that things would be fine.
Now, Wishmee wonders if they will ever truly be safe.
Shivering, she lifts her eyes to regard the heights of the hill, only to find that a tropical bird has come to rest at the edge of the cliff.
“Hey, birdy,” Wishmee says. “What’re you doing up here?”
The bird squawks and lifts its head to reveal a glimmering piece of something in its mouth.
Something, Wishmee thinks, that’s—
She blinks, stunned.
She can’t believe her eyes.
The bird isn’t simply holding some random piece of debris.
It’s holding a gold coin.
“Hey there,” Wishmee continues, drawing forward as slowly and carefully as she can. “Why don’t you give me the coin, birdie?”
The bird squawks and spreads its wings.
Wishmee stops midstride, terror seizing her heart.
No. Please. Don’t—
That coin could fetch them a caravan through Gendarran Fields and Queensdale to get them to Divinty’s Reach. If they could get there, then they could take the portals to the Rata Sum hub. And if they could get there—
She draws forward, carefully extending her hand. “Hey—” she starts.
But the bird takes flight.
“NO!” Wishmee screams. “Stop!”
The bird hesitates, and lands on top of the Shuttered Gate near where the kids used to go diving, before Scarlet came and ruined everything. It cocks its head, watches her, then extends its wings to reveal a plethora of vibrant red and white feathers, which sparkle in the light streaming down from the overhead sun.
Wishmee trembles—not knowing what, if anything, to believe.
I have to go slow, she thinks. I have to step forward. Make my way to him. Give him reason to trust me.
But what if he doesn’t? the malicious part of her brain asks. What if you have to resort to drastic measures?
She pauses only once before reaching down to take a rock in her hand. She ponders it for a moment, then rolls it in her fist.
Could she really hurt an innocent animal? Was he, like her, not a survivor in this whole ordeal?
Wishmee primes the rock, aiming and ready to throw.
But the bird doesn’t move. It simply watches her with its beady black eyes and waits for whatever it is to happen to happen.
A moment’s hesitation is all it takes for Wishmee to drop the rock.
“Sorry,” she says, and sighs, collapsing to her knees, tears streaming down her face and her lower lip quivering. “I… I can’t hurt you. Not after everything that’s happened.”
The bird flies off the gate and hops toward her a few steps, the coin still in its grasp.
“You’re a nice bird,” Wishmee says, extending a hand slowly toward it. “Maybe you’ll give the coin to someone who has food. Polly wants a cracker and all, I guess.”
Wishmee frowns. “Hey. Wait a minute!” she says, reaching into her pocket. She scrambles through it until she withdraws a few crumbs from the crackers she’d been eating just the night before. “Cracker! Cracker!”
The bird squawks and edges forward.
“Hey,” Wishmee says. “I’ll trade you. Coin for cracker?”
The bird jumps forward.
Wishmee waits, ramrod still.
Please, she thinks. By the Gods, or whoever’s listening, let this bird—
It drops the coin directly in front of her and leans forward to peck the crumbs from her hand.
“Praise the Six,” she whispers, watching, in dumbstruck awe, as the bird continues to eat from her palm.
She can’t believe it—absolutely cannot believe it.
The bird gave her a coin. A gold coin.
All because I had a cracker in my pocket.
Reaching forward, Wishmee wraps her hand around, then takes the gold coin into her palm.
Her heart swells with pride as she stands. “Thanks, birdy,” she says, struggling to maintain her composure in the face of what was undoubtedly a blessing. “I… wish I could repay you with something more, but I guess I—”
The bird squawks and flies toward her.
The bird lands atop her head, digging its nails into her orange dreads.
Then, slowly, it hunkers down, as though nesting in her hair.
Unsure what to think, or even what to do, Wishmee opens her eyes, only to find that the bird has leaned over and is looking directly at her.
“Are you coming with me?” she asks.
The bird merely squawks before lifting its head to look down the hill.
Wishmee, too, looks down at the devastation—and though she can’t help but feel a terrible sense of loss, can only imagine what all of this might mean.
A second chance? A new beginning?
She starts down the hill—knowing, in the end, that only the Six would know.
Here's a bonus pic of Wishmee and her various animals on my ThornHollow Guild Wars 2 tumblr: tumblr_inline_psnrliYGKv1t19did_540.jpg