Her name was Umbrage Ruinfel. Or well, it was for now, but the rest of the Ruin warmband was memories and plant food by now.

At least, she hoped they were. There were worse options.

Right now she stood in the middle of Lion’s Arch, because she didn’t know where else to go. Sure, she could go back to the Citadel, but then she’d have to report to…someone. “Hi, yes, I’ve been missing for two years, but I’m back now!”

She wasn’t ready for that. She wasn’t ready to dictate eight other deaths to anyone, even if her dreams did it for her often enough.

So Umbrage, small and sly and good with guns, set about trying to to meet her most immediate needs. Food, for one. She settled her gaze on a nearby moa, who wisely squawked and bolted. Did someone…own these moa?

Did it matter to her, right that second? No, not really.

She found an out of the way nook along the cliffs. The time walking through the Arch proper had her skin crawling–Umbrage had, apparently, forgotten how to people. There was too much noise, and color, and smell and all of it apparently meant DANGER.

She built a fire and found a perch to hunt moa from. That took her…all of ten minutes, really. They were not tough game. Similarly it only took her a short time to prep and gut the bird, and set it to roasting.

The danger came after the food was eaten and she was left to her own devices. There was nothing else to do, except that which she feared. She’d made it back to civilization. So…now what?

Umbrage awoke violently, startled by….someone poking her with a stick?

By the time she was coherent enough to take accurate stock of the situation, Umbrage was halfway into climbing up the cliff and the stranger was casually crouched a few feet away, stick in one hand and a torch in the other.

The stranger in this case was another Charr, large and broad, with no mane to speak of. Her hide was tan with large splotches of brown. “Sorry,” she said. “But you were screaming, and the locals are a little put off by that.”

“…nightmares,” Umbrage replied awkwardly, dropping down to the ground and gathering her battered bedroll back up.

The stranger gently lifted one of the moa bones. “You know, we don’t usually let people eat our resident hedge trimmers.”

“I was hungry.” Umbrage poked at the coals of her fire, avoiding eye contact. “And I don’t have any money.”

There was a lengthy pause before the other stood. “The name’s Eurydice. C’mon, come with me.”

“Umbrage.” She eyed Eury, then began carefully packing up her things. Which was to say, her bedroll, her rifle, and a knife. “Where are you taking me?”

“My house,” Eury muttered, lifting the torch to get her bearings before striking off. “You’re as battle-rattled as anyone I’ve seen. It would bother me to leave you out here, so let’s not.”

“Blood?” Umbrage asked tentatively.

Eury snorted. “Please. Gladium and proud of it, thanks.”

“…oh.”

Eury glanced over her shoulder. “Ash?”

“Yes. Or…no? I…”

“Got it. Don’t worry.” Eury shrugged. “You won’t be the only person in my house of dubious Legion status. If you want to go back later, I’ll help you. If you don’t, I’ll help you with that, too. But for now let’s get you some sleep in a bed.”

“But if I scream again-”

“My walls are well soundproofed,” Eury said dryly. “I did my fair share of screaming myself. There are…look, most of us are haunted in our own ways these days. Don’t worry about it. I’ve even got something to make you sleep if you’re willing.”

Umbrage shook her head sharply. “Then I can’t wake up if anything goes wrong.”

Eury didn’t argue it. She just nodded. “All right. Look, here we are.”

The room was small. There was a bed, and a chest of drawers, and that was about it. Eury had apologized for the lack of windows, but Umbrage found she didn’t really care. It reminded her of the time she’d holed up in the remnants of a tree to escape the notice of some Bristlebacks.

Umbrage was just tired enough to fall back asleep.

Author Ambrosine
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