Chapter 16: Weapon of Choice
Vatyr slowly roused from a deep slumber and into a world of pain. His tiger-orange eyes blinked slowly and dryly at his surroundings while his sluggish mind attempted to recall the events of the previous evening. He pieced it together, step by step.
He was horizontal. A couch. He’s woken up on couches in the past. Nothing new. His left hand hung over the side, weakly hanging on to a large and empty bottle that at one point must have been full of something strong and promising. His right arm was pinned under something warm, smooth and sweet-smelling. Though the sunlight flowing in through the window was like daggers in his eyeballs, he could make out the lithe and naked form of a woman. Right. Blonde. Red dress. She was wearing a red dress last night. They danced. They drank. They did everything they could do to feel alive.
It was hard, these days. Life was a precious and tenuous thing. It could all end at any moment. It almost did, and what made that happen was coming back. So, what did people without the power to fight beyond the walls do? They fought the darkness within. They laughed. They loved. They lived as brightly as they could.
He slowly unwrapped himself from her sleeping embrace and rolled off the couch. He massaged the back of his neck where the sigil of the Cryptarchs was tattooed. After letting the room stop spinning, he took a more detailed look at his surroundings. An apartment. Ultra-modern and utilitarian, there was very little in the room. There were other people, strewn around the floor. All sleeping the sleep born of a raucous night that was slowly coming back to Vatyr’s memory. A clicking over in the corner told him there was someone else awake. Slowly turning, he pieced together who owned the space.
“Look who’s back from the dead.” Cayde-6 said softly as he filled out reports on his terminal, knowing anything even remotely loud would be like taking a hammer to Vatyr’s fragile head. “It’s over there.” he said as he pointed to something in the corner.
Vatyr smiled weakly. He slowly gathered his clothing and redressed in the scents of the nightlife. Liquor. Smoke. Perfume. Sex. Walking over to the corner that Cayde pointed to, he picked up a large, long case. Within was Vatyr’s most devastating weapon. His most powerful tool. Glitch swooped over from Cayde’s desk, no doubt after a full night of talking to Cayde’s ghost about whatever ghosts talk about when their guardians slumber. Vatyr made it over to the desk to quickly down a cup of strong tea that awaited him, put a thanking hand on the Exo’s shoulder, and found his way out the door.
The sun was already high in the sky as Vatyr’s boots found pavement. Many veteran guardians had private residences in the City, and Cayde’s was high above the City’s largest bazaar. People were already deep into a normal busy day, pushing past carts, pushing their wears, pushing to survive. The sounds and sights and smells were almost too much for the hungover Awoken, but the fog and pain was rapidly lifting as Glitch tweaked his chemistry.
Winding his way through the throng of life, Vatyr browsed, purchased and just breathed it all in. These people were the blood of the city, coursing through its busy streets. Hunters often cracked under the weight of their self-imposed exile, and veterans like Vatyr found that reconnecting to the people and places that they were protecting kept them sane. A cup of coffee. Some fruit. Buttered bread. A raw egg and some smoked meat. By the time Vatyr found his destination, his belly was full and his head was clear.
Vatyr found this corner years ago. The Traveler hung overhead but never fully blocked the summer sun. Buildings carried echoes of the City through some sort of acoustical leyline. A wooden crate sat there for what seemed like forever, not labeled and seemingly full of nothing. He leaned his weapon’s long case on the mortar wall, sat on the crate and drank in everything his senses could catch.
People noticed Vatyr pass through the crowds and followed him. When he reached his corner and paused, they paused with him. They stood still, or sat on anything they could to be comfortable, awaiting the guardian to unleash his devastating weapon upon them. In time he picked up his case, sat on the crate and opened it on his lap.
The six-string lute was a deep lacquer and glowed like fire in the warm noon sun. There was an almost audible inhale as the people saw it, knowing what it could do in the guardian’s uncanny hands. Vatyr tuned his weapon, the sound drawing more people in until the alley corner was impassable. They knew Vatyr not for his skill in battle or the brightness of his light, but for his work in rediscovering the music of ages past. While others logged and studied in dark rooms, he gave music to the air, stones and people. This was his corner. This was his crate. The most powerful and devastating weapon of the Awoken guardian known as Vatyr S’Jet was a simple wooden lute with six organic strings.
He played. His songs told stories to the people. Some songs were happy tales that inspired the audience to sing along and dance and laugh. Other songs were ballads filled to bursting with sorrow, driving some to weep openly with broken hearts. Glitch offered some slight accompaniments at times, but often she simply listened and embraced the music along with the people.
Vatyr played all day and into the night made bright by candle and moon. He took breaks. Time to stretch. Time to talk. Time to eat and drink with the people. Time to enjoy the sight the full moon above with the people he loved and the people who loved him in return. He reminded them that life was not worth the effort if it was just about survival. One must feel everything possible to make everything worth anything. It amused him in a melancholy way to think that a dead man who saved the world on a regular basis reminded the living why life was worth the effort with music from a lute, but deep in the throes of a heart-tugging performance, it didn’t seem silly at all.
In time, morning came. The crowd had dwindled to a memory, and the bard made his way home to rest and reflect.