One Last Gift
Written by Chase I

(This story is a product of the author’s fiction. Its content is not necessarily reflected on the already established lore of the world of Tyria)

I never paid much attention to the holidays, normally I just saw them as an excuse to skip out on work for a day and spend it drinking away the night. At least that’s what I did for the past few. One would expect a sylvari of all people, to be amazed with all the whimsy and joy that these festivities would bring. Not me though, like I said, I would rather much spend the day resting with a very large glass of wine in my hand. Wintersday was an exception however. I admit I was curious the first time around, that and my friends kidnapped me to celebrate with them. To be honest it was not as horrible as I thought it would be.

That was a year ago, this year I insisted that they keep me out of their plans. I had a few arrangements of my own this time around, and these arrangements involved Lion’s Arch. It took me a while to fully understand all these holiday traditions. The gift giving, the communing with friends, all that nonsense. Of course I did see this as an opportunity to spend some time with someone very special to me.
“Are you sure about this?”, asked Daniel. My friend was kind enough to come help me take everything we needed to the destination, which was the Crow’s Nest Tavern. A nice, little establishment that had enough people to count as witnesses, yet it was not an overwhelming crowd. Despite its odd appearance (it was practically a boat that was held high into the sky by a bunch of beams and planks), it seemed comfortable enough. Besides, I had brought my own food and drink for the occasion.

I glanced over at the human that was questioning my methods.
“Of course,” I assured. “Everything will go according to plan.”
Daniel frowned at me as he ran a hand through his short black hair.
Obviously he had his doubts. It was normal for him to think that, this person did not have the best reputation amongst my friends.
“You know I can stick around,” said Daniel. “Make sure nothing goes wrong. Or help you out if things do.”
I pulled the basket of goods closer to me as I looked up to the tavern that was perched above the ground.
“They won’t,” I said confidently. “At least I think they won’t…”
“Because that’s reassuring…” deadpanned the human.
“You can spare me the lecture, Daniel. Either way, I think I can take things from here.” I held out my other hand to Daniel. He swung the leather sack over his shoulder and placed it into my hand. It was a bit heavy, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
“I just hope you know what you’re doing Bana-”
“Call me ‘Banana-Boy’ and I will make sure you will be nursing third degree burns well into next year.”
Daniel simply looked at me with an impish grin.
“Banana-Boy!” Before I could even conjure a decent sized fire ball, he had already vanished in a plume of smoke. I simply rolled my eyes. I was not about to let him of all people ruin my mood, so without thinking much of it I started towards the tavern.

The taverns in Divinity’s Reach were much different than the ones in Lion’s Arch. The first thing I noticed was that everyone inside seemed like the lowest form of scum, second was that they were passing watered down swill as a drink (I could tell just by looking over at the counter). Then again, what was around me was irrelevant. All that mattered to me was that there were enough people around to prevent any rational person from starting a scene. Fortunately there was, they were mostly inebriated sailors but it still counted. All that was left now was to find an empty table and wait. Luckily that did not take much time at all, in minutes I found a nice empty area where I could keep an eye on the entrance.

Waiting was simple in itself, however that was for people who had the slightest bit of patience. The only source of entertainment that I could find in such short notice was to have a small flame I conjured dance around my hands. That started getting boring after a minute.
“This is nerve wracking…” I said under my breath as I extinguished my flame. After deciding to conserve my strength I simply rested my chin on the table and stared at the two sacks I had left on the table. I swear if he doesn’t come…

Suddenly I saw a dark figure make its way into the tavern. There he was, the exact replica of me, except in much darker colors. The thick leaves that were brushed over his head were a bright crimson, and his skin was pale like ash. Even his face was identical, covered with rough features as if wearing a wooden mask. And then there was the bright pink flower bud on the back of his head, of course he did his best to hide it. As soon as he took a few steps my eyes locked into my twins gaze. It was our usual greeting, no words were required…
“Navai…” Well it seemed that I wasn’t the only one breaking tradition. Still though, his tone was rather cold. I sat up and cleared my throat to ease up my nerves. So far everything was going well.
“Hello, brother…”I said with a forced smile. Deus cocked an eyebrow at my greeting.
“Brother?” he asked. “You haven’t called me that since… well since we went our separate ways. What are you up to? I should have known this was a trap.” I saw him reach for the dagger hidden into his black long coat.
“C-Calm down,” I reassured. “You know me, Deus. You know I’d never lie to you of all people. I just wanted to talk…” My heart was pounding at this point. This would either go as planned or end in disaster.
He removed his hand from his dagger, and I sighed in relief.
“Alright…” He said unconvinced. “What do you want?”
“Um…” This was where I had stopped planning ahead. I didn’t really expect to get this far. “H-How have you been?”
“…now I know you’re up to something, It may not be life threatening but I know it’s going to be unpleasant.” Deus turned towards the door.
“Hold on!” I rushed over to his side and placed my hand on his shoulder. His reflexes reacted and he held my arm away from him, his eyes pierced into me. “Look, I’m going to be honest. It’s Wintersday and instead of spending it hating you, I wanted to have just this one day where we’re not trying to kill each other…”
His gaze softened, no longer carried its usual murderous intent. There was just curiosity, yet a bit of uncertainty.
“Now…” I continued. “Can you please just take a seat and have dinner with your brother like a normal person?”

Deus sighed as he walked over to the table and took his seat.
“I was right,” he said. “This will be unpleasant.”

I simply rolled my eyes as I went back to my seat. This was a good start, however, without any more hesitation I reached for the basket of food I brought. I served enough for the both of us and we just sat there staring at the food.
“I have to admit,” said Deus. “I don’t know what people do on this [i]‘winter’s day’[/i]. Are they all happy just because it’s cold outside?”
“I’m not sure…” I shrugged. “It’s another one of those human nonsense things.”
“Ohhh,” Replied Deus. “So… an excuse to get drunk?”

I simply smirked as I reached into the leather sack and took out a bottle of wine; Deus’s expression mirrored my own as he looked into the sack for mugs. He quickly extracted them and placed them on the table. After pouring some wine, we didn’t bother with any more talking until we had downed at least half of the mug.

“So…” I said leaning forward a bit, now that I had a bit of wine in me. “How are things with the court?”
Looking at me with a serious face, my brother leaned in as he took another swig of wine.
“Do you really want to know or is this part of the tradition?”
“I’d rather you leave out the parts where you torture and/or murder our kind.” I answered, whilst the basket for some more food, luckily I packed quite a bit.
Deus didn’t answer right away, I didn’t know leaving out the gory details took so much thought. Finally he smiled.
“It’s good,” he said. “I live comfortably and I have a good group of friends.”

“Oh?” I admit I don't know much about the Nightmare Court, but I didn’t realize that some of them were social creatures. “I didn’t think they made friends… I just thought that there was this big,thorny, black thing where their hearts should be.”
“Hah!” That was a genuine chuckle coming from my brother, something I hadn’t heard in a long time. “Not all of us, brother.”

The rest of the evening was spent with the both of us talking and drinking. He told me about how he would spend his free time with his friends and in return I would tell him about my own adventures. A thought loom around in the back of my mind. Would this be our last chance to bond and talk as brothers should; on a cold Wintersday, two sylvari twins having their final moments of peace before one would kill the other? All the more reason to make sure it would count, so I refilled my mug.

I wasn’t sure for how long we talked. All I know was that we were out of wine and that my brother somehow learned to be a mesmer in the past few minutes because I was seeing more than one of him… last I checked he was a necromancer.
“So then,” said my brother as he was reaching the conclusion of his story. “I had to explain to her, why those hounds wouldn’t leave her alone.”

I responded by releasing a massive guffaw. I barely remembered what the story was about, but everything seemed funny to me at this point. I had been drunk for a while now though, and after eating the leftover bread I was pretty sure I was coming back to my senses (a bit of them at least).
“I like this…” I slurred. “This is nice.”
“Yup.” Deus responded with an over exaggerated nod. “We should do it again some time.” He reached for the wine bottle to take another swig only to find that it had been completely emptied. With a disappointed frown he set the bottle back on the table.
“Yeah,” I chuckled, but my smile began to fade. “But we can’t, can we?”
“Nope.” Now he was shaking his head left and right. His expression remained the same though- a faint smile with half closed eyes.
“I didn’t think so…” I looked into my mug, suddenly wishing that I had more to drink, I’d be damned if I ordered what they had on the counter though. There was no point on trying to prolong the evening anyway. So I did my best to put my mug back into my leather sack, I succeeded eventually.
I went back to my basket and looked for the last item that was left to take out. It was bright red present, after all, what was Wintersday without the present?
“Present,” I said placing out the red box in front of my brother. “For you.”
Deus took turns glancing between the gift and me. He picked up the gift and shook it slightly.
“It’s a pendant,” I blurted out. “You should wear it.”
“Is the gift part of wintershday?” he slurred. I nodded in response. “But I didn’t get you anything…”
“Don’t worry,” I dismissed by waving my hand a little too dramatically. “You came and…” I was struggling to finish my sentence. “that’s all that matters to me.”

Deus began to release a very loud snicker. “You’re drunk!” He said.
“So are you!” I laughed. After sharing one last laugh we shared yet another moment of silence, it was official, the evening was over. So without any more delay, I gathered my things and stood up from the table.
“Wait,” Deus stumbled to his feet and managed to move in front of me. Before I even had a chance to ask, he threw his arms around me and held me tightly. My eyes widened in surprise, but my expression quickly changed into a stupid smile plastered on my face.
“You know things are going back to normal once we see each other again.” I said.
“I know,” my brother moved back and leaned on the table. “But you’re my brother. And I love you. Even if I do have to kill you.”
“I love you too, brother.” I said as I was released, I then started towards the exit. “See you later.”
“And I don’t want you to hold back!” he called out behind me.
“I won’t.” I said before leaving.

It was difficult going down the stairs outside the tavern without falling face first, though halfway down I felt someone pull my arm over their shoulder and practically carry me down the rest of the way.
“So you’re completely wasted,” I didn’t need to look at Daniel to know that he had a grin. “I guess it went well?”
“Mmhmm,” I nodded. I didn’t bother trying to speak after that. I was enjoying my moments of clouded judgment, of no thinking about things I should be. About how I had a brother that I could not let live based on principle. Even if I didn’t have a connection to the Pale Tree anymore. I just wanted to think about that day, so that when the day comes that one would end the other, not every memory would be filled with hatred.

This was the last day I spent with my brother, Deus. The last day we would spend as a family.