Ain't No Way Back Home [STORY - UPDATES SATURDAYS] — Guild Wars 2 Forums

Ain't No Way Back Home [STORY - UPDATES SATURDAYS]

Zingaresa.6409Zingaresa.6409 Member ✭✭
edited November 10, 2018 in Community Creations

Dust Jacket:
She didn't mean to, but that doesn't count for much.

She'd take it back if she could, but she can't.

Bum, loser, and sword-for-hire Nakoa Morin has a secret. She lost everything over one terrible mistake, and all she wants now is to be left alone while she scrapes up enough coin to drink away the past. At least--until she accidentally befriends an armorsmith with a quick fist and a history of her own to hide. Some debts just can't be drowned, and when a stranger shows up with a score to settle, Nakoa might just have to face her demons--or else accept the consequences she hoped she could outrun.
.
.
.
ALL CHAPTERS AVAILABLE IN MOBILE-FRIENDLY EDITION ON WATTPAD: https://www.wattpad.com/story/161284377-ain't-no-way-back-home
.
.
.
Disclaimer:
Ain't No Way Back Home takes place in the universe of Guild Wars 2. Nakoa and all other characters depicted belong to me unless otherwise stated. The world of the story and all material specific to Guild Wars 2 is the sole property of ArenaNet. All characters who are not mine are used with permission of their creator, and their actions/dialogue are represented as they appeared in the original roleplay.
.
.
.
Warnings:
Warnings will be given on a per-chapter basis. Warnings overall for the story include violence, gore, language, and some sexual content. There will be no sexual assault in this story.

Comments

  • Chapter 0: The End of the Beginning
    .
    Warnings this chapter: Violence/death, mild gore, language
    .
    .
    80 Phoenix, 1330

    "Nakoa? It's me."

    Nakoa crouched on the floor of her apartment in the Black Citadel, shedding pieces of crimson armor all over the floor. Her head snapped up at the sound of Shareth's voice and her teeth clacked together hard enough to make her jaw smart. "Aw, hell." Chunks of armor still clinging to her massive frame, she muscled open the door. "Give me one good reason not to put my fist in your teeth," she demanded before Shareth could even say hello. Nakoa flexed her fingers for emphasis, the armored joints of her gloves clinking.

    The Black Citadel hulked skyward--an iron behemoth of a city, its metal joints clanking and whirring in the smog. A vile place. Nakoa felt right at home in all the worst ways. She'd rented a room--well, squatted in one, really--so deep in the city's industrial bowels that she saw the glow of the smiths' fires more often than she saw the sun. How Shareth had found her down here, outside the dump where she'd been living, was beyond her.

    Shareth crunched her chin to her chest as if to make herself seem smaller. She was still a full head taller than Nakoa. Skinnier, yes, but not by much--and anyway, plenty of things were skinnier than Nakoa. She was trying to look contrite, Nakoa guessed.

    It was eleven months too late for that. Shareth bobbed, auburn curls spiraling out of their braid and falling against the elegant line of her cheek. "I need your help," she said.

    Nakoa busted out laughing. "I thought you were a twelve-tongued, snake-faced lying bitch--not stupid."

    Shareth flinched. "Now, that's not fair--"

    "Isn't it? Sugar, you oughta see the scar." Nakoa slapped her thigh. Beneath the layer of plate mail, a thick, knotted rope of scar tissue climbed from the outside of her knee nearly to her hip. "It was near on two months before I was walkin' right again, and the docs said that was lucky."

    Shareth stared down at her boots. All around them, the city rumbled like an engine and gasped black smoke. "I didn't know."

    "'course not. You lit out on me. What'd you think I was gonna do--send you a postcard? You still wouldn't know iffn you'd had the good sense to stay well enough away."

    "He's comin' after me, Ko."

    Nakoa sneered and turned her face away. Nobody much called her "Ko" anymore. Nobody she'd talk to, anyway--or nobody who'd talk to her. "Don't call me that."

    "Did you hear me? Thayne is coming after me."

    "Betcha that sucks." Thayne was a violent, powerful, terrifying man--well known (in places where such things are known) for running a weapons racket. Not quite a year ago, a smuggler named Sorinne sold him out and then hired Nakoa and Shareth to protect her as she fled Thayne's retaliation. Nakoa had completed that assignment. Shareth had not.

    Nakoa turned to go back inside.

    "Nakoa!" Desperation crept into Shareth's voice. "I know you know how Sorinne got out. Where she went to be safe."

    Nakoa paused with one hand on the door frame. "So what? Whaddayou think I am, Shareth--sentimental? You think I care what happens to you?"

    "I know you do."

    Nakoa winced. "You think you know a lot, huh? You're screwed. Don'tcha come knockin 'round here no more--if you survive."

    Nakoa shut the door before Shareth could wedge in another word and set the lock so fiercely the door rattled. She forced herself to stare into the trash-strewn gloom, ridding herself of the last pieces of her armor and thinking about how she should clean up, she should really at least try--a decent person wouldn't have all those beer bottles lying around, that sweaty heap of laundry wadded in the corner. For a long time, she felt Shareth's presence heavy on the other side of the door and saw her shadow moving beneath it. Nakoa ignored it. She ignored it until she couldn't, and then she wrenched open the door with an insult on her lips--Fuck off ya godsdamned backbitin--

    There was nobody there.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/178356416107/chapter-0-the-end-of-the-beginning

  • Chapter 1: How to Win Friends...
    .
    Warnings this Chapter: None.
    .
    .
    72 Phoenix, 1331

    She'd only been in the Chipped Claw an hour, and already Nakoa was gratefully, dizzily, deadbeat-drunk. She woozed over her mug, staring down at the bubbles clinging to the sides and thinking that she probably should have spent the money on food, or a decent place to live. That would have been what a decent person would do. She lived from wave to wave of money, the tide always going out, and she'd put herself up in the cheapest, grungiest hovel she could find. Just about the only thing these godsdamned charr would rent to her.

    Anyway, Nakoa was not a decent person. She was just happy to be drunk.

    Charr stuffed the tavern--a mess of hair and cat breath, their voices a harsh growl of background noise. One hateful-looking asura nursed some toxic-yellow drink in the corner, but Nakoa was the only human. She'd gotten used to that, during her time in the Black Citadel. Almost proud of it. Not every human could make it work in the Citadel, but Nakoa could. It wasn't even the worst place she'd been.

    Sorta close, though.

    "A sandwich, please."

    Nakoa's head jerked up so abruptly she had to grab the edge of the counter for balance--kitten booze had gotten that far with her, already. Having gotten used to being the only human, she wasn't really happy to hear another human voice so close. She peered in the direction of the voice and saw a smith--Nakoa assumed she was a smith, anyway, from the equipment on her pack. She was as bulky as Nakoa and almost as tall, with dark skin and a fluff of bleached hair done up in braids. She leaned on the bar like she'd just marathoned the whole of Ascalon. "Just water," she said in answer to some question from the bartender. Even her voice sounded exhausted.

    Nakoa had no sympathy at all. She tipped up her chin, making sure the smith saw her, and thought, Who invited you in here, anyway?

    The smith raised an eyebrow, a flash of irritation tightening her face before she looked away.

    Nakoa kept her eyes on the smith, too drunk to be ignored and too fired up over nothing to be rational. The smith slid into a seat one stool down from Nakoa's, glaring from the corners of her eyes.

    Did I tell you you could sit there? Nakoa kicked her feet up on the barstool between them and wobbled her fingers into her chest pocket for her pipe. She'd just gotten it good and lit, the tufty smoke not quite muffling the fighting instinct in her brain, when the smith said, "Hey."

    Nakoa glanced at her in time to see the smith swipe a big fingerful of condensation from the side of her water glass and flick it in Nakoa's direction. A fat drop landed in the bowl of Nakoa's pipe: tssss.

    "Huh," Nakoa said. That had been a fresh bowl, too. She'd have to dump it out and start fresh--soggy tobacco tasted like dog kitten. She put the pipe back in her pocket, stood up one foot at a time, and decked the smith.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/179538995002/chapter-1-how-to-win-friends

  • Chapter 2: ...and Influence Enemies
    .
    Warnings this chapter: None
    .
    .
    When she first got out of prison, Nakoa had spent a lot of time broke.

    Well. Half a decade on down the line and she still spent a lot of time broke, but this was a different kind of broke. She'd hit the streets out of prison without a single copper piece in her pocket--no job, no friends, just a lot of old enemies who all dug in their heels when they heard that she'd be released early. Her Da had made it clear that she wasn't welcome back home in the Reach. She'd had nowhere to go and no options. That had been a standing-on-street-corners kind of broke, a might-not-make it broke. This was just loser broke, drank-all-my-money broke, "I can change whenever I want" broke. Give or take the hangover, it was a more comfortable sort of broke.

    At least, that's what she was telling herself as she stuffed all her belongings into her pack and walked away from the closest thing she'd had to a home for a year and a half. Not that she'd miss it. Nakoa paused once to look back at her apartment, at the busted door that never would lock quite right and the tin walls that leaned like playing cards against one another. Naw, she wouldn't miss it, though it did cross her mind that from now on, Shareth--or whoever Shareth had become--really would have no idea where to look for her.

    kitten, pointless, sentimental thought. Nakoa scowled at herself for having had it and jammed her helmet on over her head. It was hard to be rational when you were so godsdamned lonely, and it was hard not to be lonely when you were the kind of person who made introductions fist first.

    She'd sold out her apartment because she'd gotten a lead on a job. Nothing pleasant, but a way to get some more money in her wallet for the next round of drinks. Or living situation, or hot meal, or whatever. Someone owed someone else money and, yada-ya, they needed a little convincing to pay up. It was the sort of thing Nakoa was good at. Intimidation had always come naturally to her--or so said everybody who'd known her as a kid. A grungy windowpane flickered her own reflection back at her, and she smirked. She cut a terrifying figure in her armor, all that gory-red platemail with the spiky pauldrons shooting up fit to pierce her ears. That expressionless wall of a faceplate with the eye slit like a claw slash across it. Pay day, here I come.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/179539144777/chapter-2-and-influence-enemies

  • Chapter 3: Ten Years Ago
    .
    Warnings this chapter: Violence/death, moderate gore
    .
    .
    The first warning we get is a shout from the western wall--rough, jagged, a startled sound torn off too abruptly, a scream that makes the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. There's a visceral twist of fear in my gut: my body knows the danger well ahead of the rest of me, and by the time my brain has caught up I'm already pounding up the stone steps to the top of the wall. Ours is a little fortress--just an outpost, really--and usually you can't see much of anything except trees and more trees from up there. Now, in middle of the night, the trees are just spiky black triangles, like teeth snarling up at the bottom edge of the sky. I can see nothing beneath them in the dark--

    No, wait. Something. A flicker of movement. And I can hear hoofbeats now. A glint of moonlight on armor.

    The Tamini.

    "Hivven! Get down!" Someone grabs me by the shoulders and jerks me to my knees, below the protection of the rampart. An arrow clatters against the bricks. My breath hisses against the backs of my teeth: I am eighteen years old, and I've never actually been in a battle before. Only trained for one.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/179539218077/chapter-3-ten-years-ago

  • Chapter 4: Roommates
    .
    Warnings this chapter: None
    .
    .
    The business in Brisbane dragged on for almost a month, and by the time it was done, Nakoa was dirty, exhausted, and hurting from a half-dozen injuries that ranged from annoying to very annoying. A gash sliced across her upper arm where she'd been clipped by a bullet, and new bruises purpled her ribcage. It could have gone worse, though. She'd only threatened to cut off that mayor's fingers.

    She'd killed his butler, though. The butler's fault. He shot first, but Nakoa had impaled him through the fragile wall of a closet. She didn't feel good about it. She'd killed a lot of people in her lifetime--it was her job--but afterwards, there was that grimy feeling, layer on layer building up on her soul, a sour, yellow-brown guilt. She'd killed twenty-seven people, now. Still, when it was over, she had a pocket full of gold and a plan, and she walked into the Black Citadel with her head up pretend-high, like she had something to be proud of.

    The first place she went was to that same little card-house shack where she'd been living in before, but as soon as she got there, the guy who'd taken it over from her leapt out with a string of chaw-tobacco spittle hanging from the grease on his lower lip. He screamed at her and threw a bottle that burst like a firework on the pavement--which pissed her off, but not bad enough for her to do anything worse than leave: liquor bottles were her non-lethal weapon of choice, too.

    The next place she went was to the public fountain, where she washed herself as best she could with an old rag and all her clothes still on, operating on the theory that the cleaner she was, the less likely Gazsi would be to shoot on sight. She didn't have a mirror, but when she was done, she at least felt fresher. Her hair had grown in over the month in Brisbane--a whole half-inch of annoying brown fuzz that dripped water down the back of her neck.

    When Nakoa left for Brisbane, Gazsi had been apprenticing at a forge on the wide, grubby center strip of the Canton Factorium. Today, though, the forge was cold and dark by the time Nakoa reached it. Only one scruffy-looking charr youth puttered around in the dust, straightening the work stations and brushing ash from the hearth. Nakoa ran a hand across her prickly scalp and butted one shoulder against the doorframe of the forge. "Hey, I'm lookin for that human, Gazsi," she said.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/179539304567/chapter-4-roommates

  • Chapter 5: Best Behavior
    .
    Warnings this chapter: None
    .
    .
    By the time Gazsi woke the next morning, Nakoa was already up and bumbling around the kitchen in her boxers, her pipe in her teeth, muttering as she mapped out the kitchen. She'd gotten together a pan of something halfway decent and had it sizzling on the stove, and the smells of garlic and sage mingled with the tobacco smoke from her pipe. "What'sis--lentils?" She frowned into the depths of a burlap sack from Gazsi's cabinet. "Pah. Orphan food. Better get some meat on that list..." She had a shopping list wedged in her fingers, written as much in pictographs as in her own childish lettering. Reading was not her strong suit.

    Behind her, Gazsi groaned. Nakoa grinned over her shoulder at her and carried a jar of water to the bedside. "Aha! The bear awakens! Drink up, Smithy-boy. Food's on in a bit, but ain't no cure for a hangover 'cept water and time. How them stitches treatin ya?"

    Gazsi jumped and took the water with shaky hands, glaring daggers. At least she'd live. "Stitches." She glanced down at herself, and her eyes went wide. "Fine, I guess?"

    "Hah!" Nakoa laughed, sauntering back to the stove to poke at the pan of food. "Lookit you. Swear I didn't do no breakin and enterin. D'you remember invitin me to come'n stay here?" She crossed her fingers in front of her chest where Gazsi couldn't see, praying Please don't kick me out.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/179725055512/chapter-5-best-behavior

  • Chapter 6: Take Me to Church
    .
    Warnings this chapter: None
    .
    .
    Nakoa and Gazsi’s first few days as roommates were uneventful, and gradually, they began to relax. Gazsi’s stitches healed. Nakoa stayed sober on the theory that she was more likely to behave herself that way. She missed the liquor, but whenever she thought of it, she reminded herself that she liked sleeping indoors. She drank way too much, anyway. Her liver would thank her–in its silent, functional way.

    During the day, she went out looking for work, which she didn’t find. She tore down fliers she could hardly read and hit up old acquaintances who didn’t want to see her. In the evenings, defeated, she returned to the apartment and made dinner for Gazsi.

    It was laughably domestic, and Nakoa loved it. She was not a domestic person. It all felt like a grand game of make-believe to leave her sword and armor piled by her cot and fire up the oven for Gazsi’s supper. She pictured herself in a flowery apron and chuckled aloud as she served a casserole onto the wobbly table, where Gazsi was doing something with a screwdriver and a rusty poleyn.

    “No tools at the dinner table,” Nakoa joked.

    “Don’t tell me what to do.” A screw flew out of the poleyn and bounced on the floor, and Gazsi sighed and tucked her work under her chair. She was wearing her not-scowling face, a sort of lesser grimace that meant she was in a good mood. It took some doing to get a real smile out of her. “What did you make?”

    “Shoot, I dunno.” Nakoa did know. It was scalloped potatoes–or some cousin thereof, anyway.

    Gazsi dug in with the serving spoon and scooped herself out a big, cheese-stringy lump. “Well, thank you.”

    Nakoa was duty-bound to cook if she wanted to stay, but she didn’t bother to point that out. She enjoyed the illusion of being appreciated. Fishing out a deck of creasy cards from her trousers, she dealt them each a hand. They’d gotten into this routine, gaming in the evenings, almost like real friends. Gazsi hadn’t figured out yet that Nakoa was cheating.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/179970383402/6-take-me-to-church

  • Chapter 7: Old Friends, Bad Memories
    .
    Warnings this chapter: Violence, gore.
    .
    .
    There was no work in the Citadel. There had been work before–work had brought her into this godsdamned hell–but now it was as though the charr had all just stopped making war on everyone and settled in for a nice, quiet harvest season.

    Nakoa couldn’t figure it out. The charr were violent people, generally, and they’d always had plenty for her to do. Now, though, it had been weeks, and Nakoa’s tolerance for unemployment was starting to wither.

    So was her patience with sobriety. Gazsi’s hospitality gave her a roof over her head and groceries for five meals a week, but that left a gap in the bills that stretched her dwindling budget thinner all the time. Life was just hard, sometimes, and in those times it was easier to drink than to live it. Easier to slip away one swig at a time, until there was nothing left but a blurry impression of herself, stumbling down dark streets in the middle of the night, hoping she could find her way back to Gazsi’s apartment.

    Gazsi watched her drink–sidelong, sober. She said nothing. You’re gonna blow it, Ko, Nakoa warned herself, even as she uncorked her flask.

    “You know…” Gazsi began eventually. It was morning–not one of Nakoa’s mornings to cook–and Gazsi was burning some toast while Nakoa nursed a hangover and a cup of water at the rickety table.

    “Hnh,” Nakoa said, and even that made her head pound. She winced and pushed at her temples with the heels of her palms.

    Gazsi had her back turned. She turned the toast over in the pan. The whole room smelled like smoke. “You’ve been here awhile now, and if you’re going to stay, you need to start helping with the rent.”
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/180217034107/7-old-friends-bad-memories

  • Chapter 8: The Maiden's Whisper
    .
    Warnings this chapter: Violence, mild gore
    .
    .
    The illusion sloughed off like skin from a rotting corpse. He was big--as big as Nakoa, tall and thick-limbed and plenty strong enough to do what had been done to Hawn. A heavy black hood shrouded his face, the fabric twisted around his neck and shoulders to leave his muscled arms bare. Blood smeared his vest, his trousers, the pale expanse of his skin.

    Nakoa recoiled, the knife a pitiful defense in her palm. She wanted her sword. If she made it out of this alive, she was never leaving it behind again. "Lookit." The liquor was a swelling haze in her skull. "I ain't even seen Hawn in years. Whatever got'm killed, I ain't involved."

    The man prowled forward, his movements a predatory roll of muscles. His feet made hardly any sound on the dirty cobbles. "We'll see about that," he said, and touched the massive hammer that hung at his hip. A string of throwing knives glittered like jewelry on his chest. "How do you know Hawn?"

    "Wrong turn on a bad day." Nakoa faltered back a little farther, trying to keep the distance between them. "Whassit to you?"

    "Business." He had the poise and the confidence of a professional. One from a higher pay grade than she, judging by the condition of his gear. "What's your name?"

    "I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours." Nakoa glanced behind herself to the bright end of the alley, wondering if there was any chance that someone out there would help her.

    In this part of town, probably not.

    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/180453380277/8-the-maidens-whisper

  • Chapter 9: Change of Plans
    .
    Warnings this chapter: No warnings
    .
    .
    Nakoa had rarely felt so safe or been so well fed as she was that week at the Maiden’s Whisper. She stayed away from the windows. She drank a lot of soup. Mostly, she slept. Chris never asked for payment, and she never brought it up, though the gold coin weighed heavy in her pocket. That was plenty of money to pay for a week at the inn.

    She took it out one evening when she was alone and held it up to the fading sunlight that spilled over the windowsill. A bit of Hawn’s blood still clung in the grooves of the engraving. She’d thought that Thayne’s mark might fade, but the enchantment stuck: the ram’s skull stared back at her with hollow eyes, its tiny, ghostly horns curling over the edge of the coin.

    Nakoa shuddered and stuck it back in her pocket. Enchanted or no, it was still legal tender. That was half of the rent she owed Gazsi.

    By the end of the week, she could walk again–awkwardly, and with the help of a stick. The bandages had come off, and though the wound still hurt, all that remained was a puckered pink spot where Adylide had cauterized it. Chris had done such a neat job treating it that she doubted it would even scar.

    She left The Maiden’s Whisper on a foggy morning–a rest day, just after sunrise, when the tidy streets of Rurikton still drowsed. There was hardly anyone awake in the inn, and no one out on the street. At the door she paused, glancing once over her shoulder at the bar and the cash box that must be hidden somewhere behind it. She still needed one more gold piece to make rent.

    How far have you fallen, Ko? She sighed, feeling the familiar slime of guilt. Tightening her fist around her walking stick, she stepped out into the street and limped off towards the asura gate.
    .
    .
    Keep reading: https://aintnowaybackhome.tumblr.com/post/180690494192/episode-9-change-of-plans

©2010–2018 ArenaNet, LLC. All rights reserved. Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, Heart of Thorns, Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire, ArenaNet, NCSOFT, the Interlocking NC Logo, and all associated logos and designs are trademarks or registered trademarks of NCSOFT Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.