Artje sets the whetstone and her axe carefully aside and gazes down over the valley at Ossencrest, a small smile tugging at her mouth. She is home again, or at the home of her heart. No-one could really call the austere fort a home. It's a base, only, a place for the Priory's researchers to sleep in a real bed and re-supply again before returning to their work tracing the history of the wild mountains. But she likes it here. She likes the Priory scribes and their introverted small talk. She likes the roaring fires and the soothing sounds of ink scratching paper. Most of all she loves the Sakura, marching resolutely up through the cleft.
She remembers the first day she came to Scholar's Cleft with complete clarity. She'd been slugging it out with the Modniir, and in fear for her life, really, at the point in the fight where only running can save you. Funny, she'd never been afraid of the Centaurs, despite their fierce brows and fleet-footed battle. They were harsh though, and they often called for others to join them in pursuit of a lone traveller. But Artje's bow was always a good match for their speed, and her first solo battles were in the Hirathi Hinterlands.
Now that she has her beloved Jade Bow, no Modniir can hope to threaten her, which is just as well, as their raids on the Priory outpost are still a daily occurrence. But the first day she came to the Cleft she had fought her way into what seemed like a corner of the map. She had despaired of escaping them, when suddenly the glorious cherry trees appeared, then giving way to stairs, and a marvellously solid, squat fort, and she ran for her life up through the gate to safety.
Artje gathers up her weapon and tools and packs them carefully in her leather bags. The ceremonial axes gleam where she has just finished honing them, a task she is only just beginning to master. She will never be a great crafter. It's not a thing she aspires to, and she doesn't have the time anyway. But she is proud of the skill she's gaining with the stone. Sharpened axes make for faster dead enemies, and that's a valuable outcome these days.
She hauls her weapons and bags up to the spartan sleeping quarters. The nights close out early here, most of the scribes retiring not long after sundown and arising as soon as the light breaks over the Snowden Drifts. There will be stewed meat tonight, she can smell it clinging to the eaves. It's a good, rich, smell. Modniir raiders notwithstanding, they are safe here, free to go about the work of preserving Tyria's history. To Artje, it seems all the more important in these savage times.
She worries about travelling away from it all, from Lion's Arch and from the Borderlands. There is great need out there. But there is great need within Artje, too, and the safe haven of Scholar's Cleft called her from across the battlefields. She is glad to be here, warm, dry, and amongst peaceable friends. She is glad of the rest, the short forays for good meat, the skirmishes with the uncomplicated Centaurs. The good dependable work of protecting and providing for the Priors and scribes. She cannot stay for long, but she can stay a little. She is grateful for the succour.