There’s no Guild Wars 2 update to announce this Tuesday? Ha! We’ll make our own…
Night of the Dolyak
“You cubs have it far too good these days.” Rend Sunderscorch’s sharp fangs ripped the last shreds of meat from the ribcage of a recently slaughtered – and pleasantly rare – marmox. The bloody juices ran down his white chin-whiskers, staining them like wine.
Vazza rolled her eyes. If she had to hear one more story about how her elders fought the Flame Legion or the separatists or the ghosts of Ascalon or some other implacable foe just so the younger generation could enjoy the fruits of those violent labors . . .
The mayor of Butcher’s Block cast aside the bones of his finished meal, adding to an impressive pile of refuse that had been growing larger all evening long. He scanned the crowd of half-asleep cubs, his eyes glinting in the light of the evening fire, one of the few that still survived to brighten the walled settlement. Vazza thought he stopped to focus on her especially, but the moment, and his penetrating eyes, passed her by like a wisp of smoke. “When I was your age, we didn’t have anywhere near the resources we have now. Docile herds of dolyaks, moas a-plenty . . . even the grubs are good eatin’ if you sear ‘em just right.”
Vazza had tried seared grubs earlier in the day; they were soft and chewy, and too juicy for her liking. Moa jerky on the other hand, especially when served with one of Karris’s pickled wurm eggs . . .
“One night,” Rend went on, snapping Vazza out of her flavorful reverie, “me and some of my fahrar snuck out of our barracks for some fun.” He grinned. “This was during just the third Meatoberfest, where if you waited around all day for someone to serve you, you’d like as anything go hungry. Well, me and the boys, we weren’t satisfied, so we thought we’d do a little, eh, ‘after-hours scrounging.’
“The whole area around the village had been picked clean, naturally. We wandered for about an hour, our stomachs grumbling somethin’ fierce the whole time, without seeing anything bigger than a rabbit. We were just about ready to head back, tails tucked between our legs in shame . . . and then we saw them.”
The last word coincided with a sudden flareup in the campfire, reflecting an eager vitality in the elder charr’s eyes. Vazza told herself, with middling confidence, that it was just a coincidence.
“On top of a small hill, there was the biggest, fattest, juiciest herd of dolyaks you ever saw.” Rend licked his lips. “Probably ten adults, and twice as many calves, just waitin’ to be made into kabobs.
“Well, we ain’t stupid. Dolyaks may not be bright, but they’re big, and if they’re mad, and there’s enough of ‘em, even a fully trained and geared warband would be up against it. So we find a calf, a straggler, grazing away from the rest o’ the herd and come up with a plan. Tybs’ll toss a grenade into the main pack – just smoke and some flash, we don’t want to cripple ‘em – and at the same time, me and the others will pounce on the little one and take him down while the rest of ‘em panic and stampede off.
“It goes off without a hitch. There’s no plan that’s not improved by a few explosions and a little gunplay!” Rend threw his head back chortled long and hard. Most of the others joined him; even Vazza, who preferred the cold edge of a blade to the echoing boom of explosives, cracked a thin smile.
He stopped suddenly, and his stony glare silenced the crowd of anxious cubs. “But as we’re loading up the carcass and getting ready to head back, I see Talon not helping. He’s just staring off into the distance. I head over to him, all ready to chew him out for being a lazy skritthead, but then I see where he’s lookin’.
“There’s a single dolyak out there on the plains. It’s a ways off, but it looks bigger than any o’ the ones that were in the herd. And it’s just . . . standin’ there, glaring at us, like we owe it somethin’. And the eyes . . . its eyes, they’re red as blood.”
A sudden, brisk breeze cut through the cubs’ fur like knives. The fire, moments ago seeming as luminous and warm as the sun, had dwindled down to a mere fraction of its former glory.
“I catch myself starin’, too, but I snap out of it and give Talon a hard slap. That seems to bring him back around and we turn away, back to our kill. I glance back once and . . . rust me, that damn dolyak is closer. We only turned away for a couple seconds and it’s closed half the distance, but it doesn’t look like it’s moved at all!
“I send Talon back to help the others while I deal with that . . . thing. I fire a warning shot over its head, but it doesn’t budge. So I send the next shot into its skull. It drops like a sack of rocks. Doesn’t even make a sound.
“Part of me says that we should go and butcher it, to get us more meat, but somethin’ else tells me that it just ain’t worth it. And you don’t get to be as old as I am if you don’t listen to that second voice from time to time. I head back to the calf, which the boys have finally got ready for transport. As we’re gettin’ ready to leave, I take one last look back . . .”
The fire was clinging to its last moments of life now, a flickering candle against the cloying dark. “And there it is. It’s even closer now. And those red eyes . . . they’re still just lookin‘ at us.
“Talon sees it too, and I’ll be scorched if his fur doesn’t turn white right there and then. I feel like it’s all he can do not to just bolt and run, because I feel the same way. It was a moonless night . . .” Rend glanced up at the sky. “. . . just like tonight, so the only light is his blazing red eyes. Those damn red eyes . . .”
The flames flared back up for a moment, dancing tendrils of light lancing up at the oppressive night sky. “I made them pick up the pace and we got back to town in record time, even with a dolyak carcass in tow. But even to this day . . . I’ll eat dolyak meat, but I can’t stand to look at one when it’s alive. They all have those eyes now. To me, at least.”
Nobody said anything for a long while. The fire, having expended its last bit of energy in one furious gasp, died down to glowing embers. Vazza was grateful for even that minimal light and heat, on what had quickly become a very dark and frigid night. She and the other cubs, their bellies still delightfully full of meat, seemed to realize all at once that they had become very tired and shambled off to their beds with no complaint.
As they filed wordlessly into the barracks, Vazza happened to look back toward the south gate. The smoke of the remnant fires obscured her view, but a buzzing in the back of her skull – a kind of warning system she had developed – told her there was . . . something out there haunting the cold, bleak night. She rubbed smoke and sleep out of her eyes, and a distant shape, dark and menacing, seemed to coalesce out of the hazy mist: a gigantic form, covered in shaggy fur, with rounded horns protruding from its head and steam venting from its bulbous nose . . .
. . . and two eyes, red as burnt coals, stabbing into Vazza’s heart like daggers of molten steel.
Night of the Dolyak features:
Once gentle beasts of burdens, dolyaks throughout Tyria have adopted a new, menacing temperament. What terrible force drives their new aggressiveness?
- Many of the dolyaks throughout the world have new powers and attacks, especially at night. Be especially on the lookout for dolyaks with the new Bellicose boon, which stacks Might and grants Fury while in combat!
- In WvW, pack dolyaks have been subdued… but only to a point! If attacked by enemy invaders, a dolyak go berserk, becoming aggressive to all surrounding characters, including those from its own world!
- Dolyaks with Bellicose now drop Mystery Meat, which can be turned into a new charr NPC, Talon Swiftbarb, at Butcher’s Block for special dolyak-themed weapons!
- Speak to Rend Sunderscorch in Butcher’s Block to experience the five-man story instance, Night of the Dolyak, where you’ll face off against Embereye himself!
Words by me
Art by Hybridlizard