Chapter 2 – To the Human Lands
I spent some time in the Grove, hoping perhaps to understand why those of the Pale Tree, despite the teachings, still felt the need to kill and hurt other beings. Sadly I came to no satisfactory conclusion. Many were and are moved to follow the path their Dream sets for them, and I know that drive, for I can feel it in myself, and yet I cannot in good conscience follow it.
In order to gain some distance from the mother tree and the source of the Dream, I have undertaken the journey through the Asura gate to Lion’s Arch and then out to Divinity’s Reach, the Human capital. I hope to find some clarity of thought so far from home, but also perhaps to find out if all the other races are doing the same as my own appear to be: going swiftly to murder rather than defense and diplomacy.
Wandering through Divinity’s Reach, I listened to Ministers discussing the Humans’ problems. I saw beauty, ingenuity and prosperity but also suffering, willful blindness and deprivation. I was granted the blessing from one of the Human God’s Priestesses and founds my steps quickening in the hope to find the answers I sought, but all I found were more questions. Above all, I have seen that the humans are struggling, not only with outside influences, but also amongst themselves. They cannot seem to find a collective impulse with which to go towards, but are constantly struggling not only with themselves, but also to survive.
Humans are also, I have found, not nearly so talkative to strangers as my own people are want to be. It is better to wander around, lingering at shops and listen while they talk amongst themselves instead of asking directly. In this way I have learned far more than by asking.
I shall continue my search outside these walls and into the human lands where it is said many of the true struggles happen. Perhaps with all their varying views and goals the humans will have some who, like me, abhor the idea of violence.
The first hope! I met a Priest of Dwayna in a hospice outside the city gates. Here are people with healing and medical training that try to help others, especially those that have been in battle. I was heartened meeting him, but the wider questions still remain. Are there none that would rather negotiate or defend rather than attack? Surely there must be a group that feels this way.
The most awful thing happened today. I was in a swamp in the human land Queensdale, a place where the veil between this world and the mists is thin. There were portals all around spewing forth angry shades and other beasts. I had picked up a sword from somewhere, intending to salvage it but had not yet done so, and I thought perhaps I could destroy the portal, so that fewer of the creatures could come through and threaten the people in this land.
It went well at first, for although it was fairly strong in its construction, I had been making headway with it. But then creatures came through it. The portal was so large and bright, it blocked my view, and I did not notice either the creature, nor the fact that a drake, who had previously left me alone, was now charging at the shade with intent to preserve its territory. The first time I knew about the change of circumstance was when my sword bit into the drake.
I cannot adequately explain my horror at having accidentally done such a thing. I wounded an animal, no matter if it was a mistake. Horrified by my actions, I fled the area to a nearby fortified post to the south. I write this now knowing there is no one here I could even tell about such a thing, for their armour and weapons told me enough that they would not understand my plight. The drake is probably dead now, killed by those shades. No matter if that might have happened anyway, I caused the drake, and perhaps even the shades as well, some harm. I doubt I shall sleep well for quite some time with the shame and horror my actions have brought me. I have destroyed the weapon.
After my run-in with the drake, I dedicated more time into helping those with injuries, hoping it might allay some of my guilt. In doing so I am fast coming to the conclusion that humans seem to have little or no sense of self-preservation, and unless highly trained, have little sense of when it might be prudent to retreat. Even those that are trained seem far more likely to rashly throw their lives away in pursuit of some potential gain for their race, or even no gain that I could see.
It has left me with worrying questions about the rightness of healing those in battle. That I should be attempting to help and heal people is clear to me, but I have never actively aided with things that might bring harm to others, such as setting up and using turrets. But is this not what I am doing by healing those that would run straight back into battle? I spent an age attempting to heal scholars, bodyguards, and even seraph, only to have them run headlong back into battle, even when their wounds were still severe. No matter that I told them they should retreat, they did not. They fell, and I healed them, but they just went back to the fight.
I question now whether I should be doing this. My healing was directly aiding in the harm and even death of others. This troubles me greatly. I took refuge in the nearby monastery hoping to clear my thoughts.
Traveling deeper into the human lands, through Queensdale and into Kessex Hills, the battle between the humans and centaurs was far more obvious. In Kessex Hills humans struggle to hold their positions while centaurs gain ground against them. Their efforts at survival out there, where farming is almost impossible under the circumstances, hampered by a great amount of bandits, most of them human, who have taken to robbing travelers in broad daylight rather than try to work the land for a living since it has become so difficult out here.
The centaur attacks are fast and brutal, and from what I could see the humans and centaurs are fighting over the same regions of land constantly, retaking it from each other and having little time to reinforce. The centaurs also use horrible tactics against the humans, such as those spike traps I came across in Queensdale, as well as burning down human settlements. Except for small heavily fortified buildings, the humans have all but been driven from this land. Even the roads are not passable for the routine ambushes by krait, bandits and centaurs, not to mention the local wildlife, which has grown violent. I can only presume that the increase in wildlife hostility is due to the constant warfare in the area that has disrupted their natural hunting grounds.
I returned to Queensdale, more knowledgeable about the humans’ plight, but no closer to finding a solution that might stop the bloodshed when I came across two men from the Ministry. Interjecting into their quiet evening contemplations, I asked them about the war with the centaurs, and why humans seemed to throw their lives away so frequently instead of reinforcing what they already had.
They seemed to be of the opinion that the only way of gaining any sort of lasting peace with the centaurs would be to push the attack, establishing forward camps and forcing the centaurs to surrender. This, they argued, would not happen from a defensive position, especially since centaurs were masters of shock attacks and siege warfare. No matter how strong the defenses, the centaurs, they believed, would break through given time.
I was dismayed by this, especially when they said that in their opinion the centaurs were not a ‘rational state body’ like the Charr or Sylvari that could be negotiated with. Their only option, they said, was to press on, no matter the cost, because to do otherwise would see humans enslaved and their settlements burned.
Having seen what I had in Kessex Hills, I could only agree that their worries might be true, but can some negotiation not be opened with the centaurs? If the humans and charr, once mortal enemies could broker peace, surely the same might be done with the centaurs. It is something to think on, certainly.
I was about to leave, when a parting comment caused me to pause. “If a new Ventari led the centaurs down a road of peace, there would be hope. Otherwise, the war goes on.”
Of course! Why did I not see it before? All centaurs are not given to the same creed of bloodshed with others, Ventari alone is evidence of that. Whether the man had known it or not, he had given me the answers to the human struggle. If only now I could find a way of instigating it.
I traveled back to Divinitys Reach, my thoughts in turmoil over the situation of what I had seen, and what I might do about it. Even now, with such a momentous task before me, something that might help change the course of the human race away from the bloodshed against the centaurs, I feel the pull of the Dream. I do not want to fight! Why does the Dream not understand that?! It pushes and pushes at my thoughts, eating away at my concentration with its call to battle. Why are we being pressed to fight and kill when our very teachings say that all life is precious, that all things have a right to grow?
I found my way into the Library provided by the Durmund Priory, and in it I found a book called ‘The Centaur War’ by Vonda Lassien. What was written in there was illuminating in it’s knowledge:
The first documented human-centaur battles occurred in 300 A.E. when human settlements began spreading from the fertile Krytan valley into the Shiverpeaks. Over time, the human settlements grew and spread. Simultaneously, centaur tribes began to organize their efforts to hold and retake their lands. Early in his reign, Krytan King Thorn proposed a treaty to the centauran tribes, but the centaurs rejected its terms as unfavorable.
This excited me for a number of reasons. Not only was it documented evidence that it is primarily land-use that caused the battles with centaurs, started by humans, but also that centaurs were willing to negotiate at some point in the past, but after the terms were rejected there is no mention of it happening again. This means that possibly some negotiation, some compromise could be reached in future! There is hope!
While I was in the Priory, I did speak to their recruiter there, an enthusiastic woman named Levanche. The Priory seems to be a good place to research and find solutions to problems rather than merely running into battle. They use their knowledge to help people! Perhaps this is where I should be offering my aid?
Alas, when I asked her about joining, she, in the most diplomatic of terms, said that they wanted their recruits to have a “certain amount of worldly experience” and that she hoped I would return when I had that. Worldly experience? I know my appearance is somewhat unorthodox in that I do not carry a weapon, but what sort of worldly experience does she mean? What experience does the Priory require to do research and investigation? She would not answer.
I left both buoyed by my find in the book, but also confused at the rejection by the recruiter.
Continue to Chapter 3 – (coming soon)