Culture Shock.

“Legends, huh? I never knew that.” Hans admitted as he walked beside Gyda. She gave a soft nod, “Yes, where as humans may have… stories of famous heroes of their race, norn strive to make our mark on the world and have the Skaalds tell of our stories for ages to come.” She explained with a gentle voice.

Hans furrowed his brow, “And… the Skaald are those… story tellers?” He asked hesitantly, not sure if he was correct, but Gyda’s nod of confirmation shoved away any doubts. “So you just… adventure? And find the biggest thing you can kill?” He asked, making a face of slight confusion.

Gyda gave a soft shrug, “In the simplest terms, yes. I travel Tyria as well, letting my feet take me where they will… maybe help a person or two along the way.” She moved some hair behind her ear, pausing to glance down at Hans and give a friendly smile.

Hans’ head was swimming. He had no idea what to make of Gyda. He was so ready for norn to be giant, boisterous barbarians that just drank, ate and killed indiscriminately. He expected all of them to be loud, obnoxious, not knowing subtly or gentleness… He now felt really bad for having those assumptions without ever having met a norn beforehand.

He liked Gyda, he could tell she could probably tear a bear in half is she so chose, but the gentle warmth in her touch, the softness of her voice and just the pleasant personality she had really threw Hans for a loop. “I see… so… what are you doing in Hoelbrak?” He asked, finally breaking into a pocket of clarity and piping up.

“Restocking and getting some rest at home before heading back out. Would you like to travel with me?” Her question was confident, self assured.

Hans had to pause in his walking to process the question, “You mean you… wouldn’t mind? I mean, I can fight, sure, but I don’t really have any...survival experience.” He wrung his hands nervously, secretly loving the idea of having another person to adventure with.

Gyda let out a laugh; a warm, elated noise that sounded sweet to Hans’ ears. Gods, was he hopeless. “Of course I would not mind. Why do you think I offered, silly?” She grinned, her laugh dying off into a pleasant giggle before stopping all together.

“Well, I would feel better knowing I have a more experienced traveler with me on the road.” Hans admitted in a murmur, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Where did you plan to go first?” Gyda asked, folding her arms, not phased in the slightest as a whirl of wind whipped around them. Hans had to brace himself against the cold force, but it seemed only Gyda’s long, brunette hair was bothered by it.

“I figured Hoelbrak, then whatever lay beyond that would be first on my list.” Hans brushed snow from his shoulders and arms, shivering some. He wanted to get out of the cold and get inside to make an attempt at feeling his fingers again.

Seeing him shiver, Gyda motioned for him to follow and led him through the impossibly large doors of The Great Lodge. “How about something eat? Then we can talk about where we plan to travel first. Wayfarer is as good a place to start as any. The lands beyond that are a bit more hostile, a bit more unforgiving.” She cautioned and led her new companion down the steps, into the central hall.

Hans welcomed the heat of The Great Lodge, feeling the cold slowly seep from his bones, warmth returning in its place. Hans had to take care not to fall down the large stairs, that had been built with long, norn legs in mind. “What’s that?” He asked, pausing in his half-step-half-hop down the stairs.

Gyda glanced over her shoulder, following his eyes to the large tooth that hung in the center of the hall. “The Fang of the Serpent; it’s Jormag’s tooth.” she replied evenly, glancing back just in time to see Hans’ eyes grow large.

“That… is one tooth… from Jormag?” He squeaked, eventually making it to the bottom and standing next to Gyda. She nodded and continued to lead him up the western staircase, where he had trouble getting up those as well due to their height.

Hans was glad for Gyda’s patience, trying to hurry as he scurried behind her, doing his best to keep up. Now he understood what it felt like for people shorter than him, now he knew how it felt. And he did not envy it.

She led him to an empty table and ushered for him to sit down. Hans did so, dropping his pack on the floor next to his foot and leaned back in the chair, feeling dwarfed in the large piece of furniture. “So… that’s one tooth from Jormag? I hope I never see the day where I meet him…” Hans commented, still eyeing the large icy fang from where he sat.

“Yes it is. Popped right out of his maw when we tried to fight him… now it is just a trophy, as well as a dummy to test weapons on. So far, no one can put a scratch on it, but hopefully someday the smiths will find a way to defeat the beast.” she shrugged and waved someone over.

Before Hans could turn around to see who Gyda had waved to, a large norn-sized mug was set in front of him, as well as Gyda. “I suggest we get something warm in us before heading out.” Gyda smiled, casually taking a large swig of her drink.

Hans gazed into his mug, being greeted with a dark, amber liquid that reeked of strong alcohol. Having to lift the large mug with both hands, he took a small sip and coughed at the strong sting to his throat. Yeah… he wasn’t going to finish this drink.

“So where did you plan on going first, once in Hoelbrak?” Inquired the norn, setting her mug down and leaning back in her chair. She fixed Hans with a gentle stare, waiting for his reply.

Hans carefully set the mug down, contemplating his answer, “Probably… Wayfarer? Then whatever lie beyond?” he dared to meet her gaze, getting lost in those soft, teal eyes. Hans broke eye contact after a few moments, forcing him to get ahold of himself as he looked back down at his drink. What was wrong with him? This never happened to him before, and suddenly one norn bumps into him and he’s absolutely smitten? No… this was so lame.

Hans silently lamented his own patheticness as a large tray of food was set between them, stacked with various cuts of meat, potatoes, and some vegetables.

“I see… sounds like a fine place to start! Well, eat up. You will need the energy to withstand the cold. I haven’t seen humans make it very far in the Shiverpeaks without hot food or warm clothes.” Gyda cautioned, spearing a large slab of what looked like dolyak and dragging it onto her plate.

Hans nodded and shoveled some food onto his own dish. This… was certainly going to be an adventure, he could tell.