In a week’s time, Hans had everything packed and locked up for his trip. He had decided to wander Tyria, see new places, get away from the sad memories, even if for just a little while.
He packed a travel bag and wore what small amount of armor he had on his person, a simple greatsword strapped to his back for protection. Hans sighed as he stepped out of his house and locked it up good and tight. He made sure to lock the shutters over the windows and lock up all the valuables in the small safe he kept under the loose floorboard in dad’s old room.
Heaving a sigh, Hans adjusted his travel pack on his shoulder and gave the cozy and sturdy home one last glance before turning and heading for the asura gate. He needed to get to Lion’s Arch and buy some better supplies before he really took to traveling.
Lion’s Arch was beautiful. Hans had only been there once, but he barely remembered the city at all. Heading down the ramp from the small circle of gates, he headed for the Trader’s Forum to see what supplies were available to him. As he picked out the supplies he needed, he thought about where to head first. He wasn’t sure Rata Sum would have been a particularly good city to start out with; he wasn’t in the mood to be called a ‘bookah’ (whatever that was) and be talked down to despite being taller than the residents. He was still a tad unsure on whether the Black Citadel would be all that welcoming to humans, so he crossed that off the list as well.
He could try Hoelbrak first. He had yet to really meet a norn, and the whispers he heard of norn culture intrigued him enough to try there first. Yeah… that sounded like a plan.
Hans made sure to buy some sturdier boots and a thick coat for the bitter cold of the Shiverpeaks and made his way back across the Plaza, back to the circle of asura gates.
Hans stared at the gate, two norn on either side, acting as gate guards. He adjusted his pack on his shoulder once more, daring a glance to the tall norn to his left.
The other man caught his eye and gave a bright, grin past a thick beard, “Going to Hoelbrak? Good to see you had a mind to bring a coat. If you head past the city and out to Wayfarer Foothills, watch out for Svanir. They don’t take too kindly to other races.” The giant of a man warned.
Hans gave a nod and headed through the gate, the blistering cold smacking across the face the instant he stepped through to the other side. So this was norn country, huh?
Hoelbrak was unlike anything he had ever seen before. The sheer scale and size of the buildings alone awed him, making him gawk and stand there like a lost tourist. “Please move from the gate way, sir.” ordered a tired looking asura who clearly hated his post.
“Pardon me…” Hans murmured, sparing a glance towards the smaller before making his way down the wooden steps, onto the lower balcony that bordered The Great Lodge. He half wondered how long it took to build this. How much sheer strength did it take to build the lodges so high that they pierced the heavens themselves?
“Wow…” escaped the exasperated word, mixed with a thick cloud of breath made visible in the cold. The human had to lean on the railing to keep himself from falling over as a powerful gust of wind whipped by, greeting him proper to the city of the norn. He wondered if he should pick up a better weapon… maybe more armor. He knew the norn were exceptional smiths, so maybe he could get a decent blade or pair of greaves here.
Turning to head towards the obvious stalls set up for market, Hans meandered his way across the long deck towards the obvious furnace and bellows notorious for pointing out which stall belonged to the blacksmith. The smith regarded him with a grunt and a nod, sticking a sharp piece of metal into a nearby trough of water, the hot piece sizzling and steaming up in protest of the water.
Hans flicked a hesitant gaze to the smith for a moment, then to his wares laid out, ready for purchase. “What kin’ I do ya fer, lad?” Asked the smith, wiping his hands on the dirty rag of his apron, his head void of hair, but his face clearly making up for it with a thick mane of a beard, braided and accented at the tips with fasteners of some cultural description.
“Ah… I was wondering if you had some greaves in my size… maybe a greatsword.” Hans looked up at the giant of a man. Hans was confused, to say the least. He was so used to towering over many people of his own race, that the fact that he was easily loomed over made him feel weird.
“Well… I probableh have a sword er two fer ye… kin’t sey I ‘ave any greaves that’d fit. But… Ah could grind a pair down fer ye easy ‘nough.” he shrugged, shuffling around to look at his stock behind the stall. “Ere… try these on and we’ll git ya measured righ’ quick, aye?”
Hans barely caught the greaves, the heavy pieces of armor smacking him center mast, forcing a grunt from his throat. Setting his pack down, he went to strap on the greaves over his boots as best he could. Obviously too large.
The smith came over with a marker and knelt down, easily notching a few marks of red in certain areas over the polished metal. “Righ’, now take these off an’ I’ll set ya up. Go heft them swords ov’r there an’ lemme know which one ye fanceh most.” he ordered easily, obviously more than glad to have a customer today. Hans still felt off at being so small around these hulking, but gentle giants, though he would probably get used to it in due time.
After getting the greaves off, Hans went to the selection of weaponry and tried the smaller swords, hefting each one for balance and weight. The stories were true… such a finely crafted blade had never touched Hans’ fingertips until now. Despite most being unwieldy due to his small stature, he could tell that they were made with an expertise he had never witnessed before.
It took about 20 minutes of tedious searching and testing, but Hans finally found a blade that felt good in his hands. The balance was excellent and it carried him through his swings as easily as his old swords did, if not more due to its heavier build. “This one will do nicely, sir.” He stated, coming back over to the area near the anvil and furnace.
The Smith looked up and nodded tersely. “These greaves’ll take me some time tuh alter. Ye can pay fer it now an’ take yer sword, er leave it all ‘ere and be back in a few ‘ours.” he told Hans, who pursed his lips in thought.
“I could… pay later? This would give me enough time to explore Hoelbrak.” He shrugged, glancing over his shoulder towards the rest of the city. The smith nodded, “First time ‘ere? Well… welcome tuh’ ‘Oelbrak. If ye in need of a bett’r jacket, er mehbeh gloves, ye kin go across the veranda ‘ere and see Ol’ Molly. She fast’r at sewin’ clothes than I kin smith a sword.” he grinned.
Hans couldn’t help but give a small smile in return, “Thank you… I think I will go see what she has to offer.” he nodded and turned to head back into the cold to cross the way towards the tailoring booth.
There were colorful pieces of fabrics on large spools, waiting to be rolled out. Odd weaving and sewing machines lined the back table, as well as a built in dying pool, splattered in a myriad of colors from years of use.
Hans was about half way there when something caught his shoulder and he went careening to the ground,hitting the thick wood with a dull thud. “Oh, Wolf’s spit! I am so sorry!” Came a voice, then a firm, hot grip on his upper arm. Hans was easily hoisted to his feet and set back proper.
“I am sorry, I did not see you and bumped into you. Are you alright?” Hans’ gaze was pulled up to meet the gentle teal eyes of a woman, her left cheek marked with white tattoos of some sort. Her large, warm, gloved hands held either side of his face, making sure he was still all there.
“Ah, y-yes, I’m fine. Thank you, ma’am.” He slowly pulled his face away, a blush lining his cheeks. She easily let her hands drop, no longer holding him there and smiled brightly at him.
“Good! I was afraid I hurt you. But you’re a human - Is this your first time to Hoelbrak?” She asked, her bright smile so warm and inviting. She stooped down, hands on her knees a bit to see more on eye level with Hans as she spoke.
“Yes… I wanted to travel and see what Tyria had to offer, and I started with Hoelbrak.” He shook his head a bit, shaking the cloudiness from it. “I’m Hans… Hans Adler, by the way.” He stammered a bit, blush still warm on his cheeks as he gawked at the poor woman some.
She chuckled some and stood up at full height, “Gyda Ingvildr. Pleased to meet you, Hans.”
Hans couldn’t help but look her up and down for but a moment before resting his gaze back on her face.
She was absolutely gorgeous…