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Songs of the Dead

Discussion in 'Skyrim Fan Fiction' started by Khasrin, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    I'm trying guys :sadface: I have new chapters ready to post but no internet connection except my phone. Soon, I hope.
     
  2. ultimatedovahkiin

    ultimatedovahkiin Now's not the time for fear. That comes later.

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    It's m'kay, we can wait.
     
  3. BedivereLancelot

    BedivereLancelot Bounty Hunter.

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    cant wait =) keep up the good work
     
  4. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    Internet is back! Wooo! *does Khajiiti happy dance*

    Uploading stuff now :D but it's gonna be a little while yet, still trying to find the flash drive with the end of Part V on it...lol
     
  5. BedivereLancelot

    BedivereLancelot Bounty Hunter.

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    YAY *does nord happy dance* woot lol
     
  6. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    Part V is finished and posted. Thank you for being so patient while I sort through my PC issues <3

    (Not the most eventful chapter, but an important one...the last calm before the storm, so to speak. Part VI changes everything.)
     
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  7. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    mine.jpg
    The elf was mocking him. J'zargo knew this, and he felt the insult deeply, but for now he could only grit his teeth and wait. Ancano would be made to see sense before he was finished.

    Ancano prodded at a pile of bones with the pointed toe of his boot and observed how they scattered. Some were cracked and yellow with age; others gleamed white in the torchlight, alarmingly fresh. Traces of moss and withered gray strings of sinew clung to a few. J'zargo swallowed the queasy feeling in his gullet and took a step back.

    A crack in the ice-encrusted trap door above his head admitted a thin sliver of sunlight. It barely diffused the gloom, but it brought J'zargo some small comfort. He edged closer to it.

    Ancano had noticed the Khajiit's furtive retreating footsteps. He smirked. “Are you unwell, J'zargo?”

    “Quite well, thank you.” He drew himself up to his full height, still a head shorter than the Altmer. “Although J'zargo questions...that is, one hears many stories of the Midden. Strange happenings, mages vanishing into thin air.” A musty smell of decay hung in the stone corridor, and with it some indefinable and vaguely troubling odor. Some spell, gone terribly wrong.

    J'zargo's eyes fell on one of the younger-looking skulls at his feet. “Idle talk among fools, no doubt. Yet one wonders if we are entirely safe down here.”

    “You insisted on a private audience, did you not?" Ancano gestured around them. J'zargo could not argue with this; they appeared quite alone here, and if they weren't, the thunder of icy waters rushing down into some nearby inner cavern would drown out their voices. "Speaking of idle talk, I have no time to waste words this evening, so let us proceed. What makes you so certain that Onmund and Nikhaya intend to leave the College?”

    “J'zargo...overheard them. In Onmund's quarters.” A scalding memory of the afternoon rose up in his mind. Their murmured plans, unheard by all but the keenest Khajiit ears...and then the disgusting truth, which they flaunted for all to hear...gasps of passion, the creaking of wood against stone as their lovemaking reached its apex. A white hot fury of humiliation burned fresh in J'zargo's heart, and for a moment he was aware of nothing else.

    Ancano sighed impatiently. “Well? Do you recall what was said or not?”

    “What? Do forgive J'zargo, he...ah, it is nothing. But you have heard the rumors, yes? Hordes of these strange roaming undead, felling entire villages in the Rift...Onmund thinks his dead family might still be there. He wishes to make sure they are truly dead. And of course that one,” he sneered, “is idiot enough to follow him.”

    The Altmer waved a dismissive hand, as if to say he didn't care one way or the other for the state of Onmund's family. “And when do they intend to sneak away?”

    “Tonight, after everyone else has gone to bed.”

    “I see.”

    Ancano grew silent. He wore a studied air of contemplation, his golden brow furrowed and one thin finger pressed to his lips. The shade of a smile appeared there and vanished just as quickly. J'zargo didn't like it; it was the smile of the uncertain gambler who realizes he's been dealt a winning hand. Even so, he'd made his mind up. He waited in silence.

    "Well. This is interesting news indeed."

    J'zargo raised his eyes.

    "I confess myself surprised," Ancano continued, "by your willingness to approach me. I keep a most observant watch over what transpires at this College, but naturally I cannot be everywhere at once. Your desire to assist in this regard is...commendable."

    "Yes, well..." J'zargo felt his grasp on the conversation slipping like so much sand through his fingers, but he forged ahead. "J'zargo seeks only to be helpful. He knows there is danger and death beyond Winterhold. There will be no safety here either, if the rules are broken."

    "Quite right." Ancano was studying him intently. Making some unfathomable calculation. "All the same, some would consider it betrayal."

    J'zargo scoffed. "There can be no betrayal where there is no trust. J'zargo does not wish to make enemies in Skyrim, but he has come here to study magic, not to cozy up to his fellow mages...just as well, for they see J'zargo's superior skill and feel threatened by it. They show him nothing but contempt."

    "Even Nikhaya? You seemed so fond of her."

    "Nikhaya is a whore!" J'zargo snarled. "Spiteful, unnatural creature, deserting her own for some great oaf of a Nord!" He paused, regretting his impulsive outburst. That particular slight was his to avenge. The elf needn't know. "Now you see her disloyalty for yourself. J'zargo feels no pity for such a one. She has bought her own pain and disgrace!"

    "Indeed."

    He could feel the high elf's interest waning. It was now or never.

    "Forgive him for speaking plainly, but J'zargo sees the master wizards do not trust you as well as they should...would it not be useful, then, to have one such as J'zargo to aid you?"

    "Aid me with what, precisely?"

    "If they believe him to be a mere student of magic, J'zargo may come and go freely in places that are forbidden to you. Information could be learned, the others could be observed...as you say, you cannot be everywhere at once."

    Ancano offered no reply, so he carried on. "The Khajiit have been valuable allies to your people before, yes? J'zargo will show you that they remain so. There is much trouble in Skyrim at the moment. Nothing is certain. J'zargo knows where his loyalties must lie."

    "Then you are a wise one among fools. And since you were so bold as to mention it, I did, in fact, have such an arrangement in mind. It seems you might be of some use to me after all." Ancano gave the Khajiit a final scrutinizing look. "I accept your proposal."

    A surge of smug triumph swelled in J'zargo's breast, but he revealed none of it. To think, he'd been so fearful of approaching Ancano at first. Yet how easily the matter had been settled!

    And one day soon, they would both pay for their insults. That tedious, smart-mouthed Nord, daring to think he could possess what was rightfully J'zargo's...and as for the dragon-blooded bitch, she would soon see the folly of her choice. She would repent it with all her heart. But it would be too late.

    He bowed his head. "J'zargo is pleased that you agree. If there is anything he can do for you, do not hesitate to call on him."

    "Ah, but there is." Ancano wore a smile that made the Khajiit's fur bristle. "As it happens, I have need of your services immediately."

    ~~~~~
    from Onmund's Journal
    bookpart7.jpg
    ~~~~~
    A fire crackled in the heart of the empty mine, casting wild shadows over the stone walls. Onmund sat beside it and stared morosely into the flames. Every now and then he prodded at the burning wood with the tip of Nikhaya's sword, stirring up a spiral of orange sparks.

    "The sun has set." Nikhaya crouched beside him. With as little ceremony as possible she unrolled a fresh rabbit skin and placed four raw rabbit legs beside the fire to cook. She glanced at her companion. "You are sure you don't mind these?"

    Onmund gave an apathetic shrug. "They're not my favorite, but food is food. Don't worry about me."

    "Yes, only this one remembered your fondness for rabbits...she thought you might not like your supper if you saw how small and fluffy it was before." Nikhaya rifled through her pack. "Khajiit has other things. Bread and cheese, and fruit. And something Brelyna made. I think it is supposed to be pie."

    A look of bewilderment crossed his face. "Supposed to be pie?"

    "Mm, looks that way. It was very kind of her. I believe it has potatoes in."

    "Yeah...I'm not all that hungry, to tell you the truth." He frowned. "Wait, did you tell Brelyna where we were going? I thought we agreed not to tell anyone."

    "Someone needed to know. In case there are...complications of some sort."

    "In case we never make it back, you mean."

    "We must not pretend there isn't a chance of it. The undead are not our only enemies. Did you find anything useful back there?"

    Onmund shook his head. "Nothing much. Just a bedroll, and someone left this satchel behind. But I can tell you one thing, these people left here in an awful hurry. This isn't how miners leave a mine."

    Nikhaya peered into the darkness. Tables and chairs had been left behind, some of them overturned and broken. Shovels, barrels and buckets, even a few chunks of ore were strewn about the walkways. A darkened lantern whose candle had drowned in its own wax stood beside a plate full of food, now covered in a greenish white fluff of mold. He was right - whatever had compelled the miners to abandon Goldenrock Mine, no one had been expecting it.

    "Corundum." Onmund picked up a piece of the ore and turned it over in his hands. "Valuable stuff. Only a fool or a man afraid for his life would leave so much of it behind, and miners can't afford to be foolish."

    "That is true." Nikhaya reached for the abandoned satchel. "Let's see what we have here."

    "That isn't yours, Nika."

    She gave him a blank, uncomprehending look. He sighed. "Fine. What's in there?"

    "Hm. Nothing much, as you say. A tankard, a few Septims, an amethyst and an emerald." She surreptitiously pocketed the gold and the green gem. "A potion of magicka that's gone off. And a bit of folded up paper." Nikhaya opened it up and immediately hooted with laughter. "A naughty picture! He appears to have looked at it often."

    "Let me see." Onmund took the picture, a detailed charcoal sketch of a well-endowed Argonian and a busty elf in an interesting position. He frowned in confusion and flipped it sideways, turned it right side up again, then tucked it into his pocket for future reference. "Anything else?"

    "No...ah, wait." Nikhaya felt around in the depths of the bag and pulled out a small battered tome. "A book. Words of the Wind...looks like some kind of verse. And there is other writing inside. Whomever it belonged to, they also used it as a journal."

    Onmund leafed through it. It was very worn indeed, and some of the yellowed pages came loose as he turned them. He found the last page the book's owner had written on and read it aloud.


    "Anneke left last night. She said she wasn't waiting another day for more of the hungry dead to come back here and take more lives. She and Vernor exchanged some harsh words, and I suspect those were the last words they'll ever say to each other. Vernor called her a fool and a deserter. 'It's our mine,' he said, 'and a few undead won't run us out of it.'

    I hesitate to tell Vernor so, but I think Anneke is right. We heard more of that wretched howling last night. Worst part is you can never tell exactly where it's coming from, how close it is. And after hearing the story of that Nord girl who came to us a few nights ago...no, we should leave Darkwater Crossing as soon as our dear companions have been laid to rest. Poor Tormir and Meieran...we'll bury them at dawn tomorrow if this damned rain lets up. Seems like it's rained for days now.

    I'll write a more detailed account as soon as I'm able. There is some commotion outside the mine just now...I'm half afraid to find out what is causing it."


    Only the crackle of burning wood and the distant roar of the falls outside broke the silence. No more speculation was needed; the unknown writer's words told all of the story either of them cared to know.

    Onmund shook his head. "I can't stand it anymore. Can't we talk about it, Nika?"

    "About the journal? This one would rather forget what she heard."

    "I think you know what I mean." Onmund touched a gentle finger to the bandage tied around Nikhaya's upper arm. Blood was seeping through the cloth again, turning her white fur a rusty color as it dried. Underneath it the torn flesh burned and throbbed as infection fought to take hold.

    "Oh, Onmund." Nikhaya pushed his hand away from her wound. “Is there any more to be said? It has happened, and it is most unlucky, but no one is to blame. That is all there is, no?”

    “Any more to be said? You've been bitten.” In the firelight his face appeared older than its twenty-eight years. “I should think there's a great deal for us to say to each other.”

    Nikhaya sat down in the dirt and dug a handful of partially crushed Mora Tapinella out of her pocket. It was fresh, but she instinctively held it to her nose and sniffed, taking comfort in its damp woody smell. She took an old mortar and pestle from her alchemist's satchel and with her good arm she began grinding the fungus into a fine, creamy paste.

    She struggled for something to say as Onmund's sullen silence filled the space between them.

    “You must try to have faith,” she said at last.

    “Faith,” he repeated, his voice hollow. He stabbed viciously at a burning log. “Faith in what? In the gods that stood by and watched as my family was slaughtered and the woman I love was torn apart?"

    “I do wish you would stop that. That is a very old Akaviri blade. It is not for poking fires." She took it gently from his hands. "As for faith, it is not for me to say what you should believe in. Where do you usually find solace when something troubles you?”

    He shook his head. “It's just not that simple anymore. All my life I was told that the Nine watch over us. And I believed it. I believed that if I did all I could to live with honor, then...everything would be alright in the end.”

    “But you no longer think this is true?”

    “Look around you, Nika,” Onmund muttered. He drew the black hood of his robes over his head, draping most of his face in shadow.“Does it look like anyone that cares is watching over us? My family...they believed, just as I did. But they're still dead, aren't they?”

    This sort of logic puzzled her. “As we all shall be someday.”

    “But they shouldn't have died like that!” he cried, striking the dirt with his fist. “Don't you see?! Not in that way!”

    “What, battling to save themselves and their kinsmen? Khajiit thought that was the sort of death you Nords all hope for! Fighting with courage and dying bravely. Sovngarde. All of that.” She peered under his hood. “Is it not so?"

    Onmund offered no reply. He simply reached into his robes and grasped the amulet of Talos. With a grimace, he snapped the cord that held it around his neck and flung it into the fire.

    "What..? No!" She tried to snatch it from the fire, but Onmund caught her by the wrist with more force than he'd likely intended.

    "Leave it!" he demanded. "Let it burn."

    Nikhaya scowled at him, resentful of his brutish hold on her. Sharp claws extended from her fingertips, and she pressed one meaningfully against his skin. He let go.

    Onmund turned his defeated gaze back to the fire and watched as the amulet blackened and turned to ash. “Damn the Divines,” he whispered, as if they might overhear and heap further misery on him out of spite. “They've abandoned us.”

    Such bitterness! Nikhaya held her tongue. It was a poor time for words, no matter how badly they needed to be said. One cannot blame him for losing his faith. Not after everything else he has lost. There were two sure ways to comfort a Nord, she reckoned. Onmund was in no fit mood for the first, so instead she pried the cork from a small clay bottle she'd hidden in her pockets. She took a swig and held it out to him.

    He caught a whiff of its contents and wrinkled his nose. “I'm not drinking that. It smells like poison.”

    “Sujamma,” she offered as an explanation. “The Dunmer brought it with them from Morrowind long ago, but this is Romlyn's own recipe.”

    “So it might as well be poison.”

    “More or less.”

    “That dark elf is a menace.” He took it from her all the same and swallowed a large mouthful, then another. And a third. It put Nikhaya in mind of a certain damp carriage ride home from Bleak Falls Barrow. She took the bottle back.

    “What about you?” he mumbled, subdued by tiredness and strong liquor. “Do you believe the gods are watching over us?”

    Nikhaya shrugged. “Khajiit are born knowing the gods exist as surely as we do. It is written in our memories even as mewling kits, as though we had drunk it in with our mothers' milk. When one comes of age she is permitted to learn the stories of the gods from the Clan Mothers, and we do not question their truth any more than we doubt the sand under our feet.”

    “But do you think they care what happens to mortals? Do they even hear our prayers, or are they just there, dispensing blessings and curses when it suits them and ignoring us the rest of the time?”

    “Well...” Nikhaya forced a halfhearted smile. “As you say, it is not so simple anymore.” She laid a crispy-skinned rabbit haunch and some bread in front of him. “Enough of this for tonight. Eat your supper while it's hot.”

    ~~~~~

    It was a quiet meal. They sat in tired silence afterwards, nursing a few drinks and rubbing each others' sore limbs.

    Despite the lack of a proper smithy in Winterhold, they'd fashioned mage armor from hooded robes, studded leather, and some snug-fitting hide trousers which fit Nikhaya beautifully and inspired any number of complaints about pinching from Onmund. They stripped down to their undergarments and hung everything else on an old cooking spit to dry. The day's journey had seen them sliding over muddy riverbanks and plunging into icy water, and both of them were damp and chilled to the bones.

    Nikhaya could stand it no more. She reached for her alchemist's satchel and set to work again; anything to break up the silence and stillness. Onmund simply sat and watched as she scraped and tapped away with her mortar and pestle.

    "What are you going to do, Nika?"

    "Only twelve," she muttered to herself. She glanced up from the Nordic barnacles she was sorting. "Where would Khajiit find more barnacles in these parts?"

    Onmund made a face. "No idea. Not once in all my life have I ever gone out looking for barnacles. And don't pretend you didn't hear me just now."

    "Mara's mercy, your fretting will drive us both mad one day!" She gestured to the array of half-prepared ingredients laid out on the ground. "You think Khajiit began this journey unprepared? I have potions, Onmund, and all I need to make more."

    He look doubtful. "You can't be sure that potions are going to save you. This is no ordinary sickness."

    "And these are no ordinary healing potions. They are the fruit of many years of study, of little triumphs and failures. And for all her faults, this one is no ordinary alchemist. She knows many things that others do not." Nikhaya took up her tools again. "These are the very potions that I spoon-fed to Romlyn as he lay dying in our quarters, and you see how he recovered."

    "Wait." He picked up a Nordic barnacle and regarded it with mingled interest and doubt. "Are you saying you might have found a cure for this?"

    She shook her head. "Not a cure, no. But you see how it is when one is bitten. First there is pain and swelling, fluids building up in the wound, followed by a terrible fever. But if one survives the fever, it appears they may go on living as before until they die of one thing or another. These potions will see me through the fever, nothing more...when Romlyn and I finally meet our ends, I am afraid we will become like the others." She offered him a wink and a toothy smile. "The trick is to take all of our medicine and avoid pointy objects at all costs."

    Onmund frowned at her joke, but he didn't argue. If he had any fight left in him, he clearly wasn't wasting it on her tonight. He stretched out on the bedroll beside her, inching closer to her until his cheek rested on the soft silvery fur of her thigh. Nikhaya continued her grinding and sorting, but her mind had already abandoned the task. She glanced down at her beloved.

    In a moment of passion, she thought, I gave all of myself to this man, this kind stranger who had become my friend. I promised him my heart and my trust, and I promised him truth.

    And I do not regret.

    Nikhaya smiled to herself. For the better or the worse, it was time.

    She lay her mortar and pestle aside, and with both hands she reached out and caressed his face, ruffled his dark hair. "Can I tell you a story, Onmund?"

    He gazed up at her. Surprise had cleared the weary clouds from his blue eyes. "You can tell me anything, Nika. What kind of story?"

    "A story I think you have been waiting to hear. One you should have heard long ago." Nikhaya touched the cold silver cresent moon that hung from her neck, suspended by a chain of woven grass. The memories were already coming back to her. Sweet as the finest moon sugar, sharp as broken glass, they poured in and filled her mind like so much moonlight.

    She downed a healthy gulp of ale and grinned at her lover as only a Khajiit can. "This is the tale of Nikhaya."

    ~~~~~
     
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  8. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    sotdnikhaya.png
    To be added soon :)
     
  9. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    Reserved for Part IX​
     
  10. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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  11. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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  12. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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  13. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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  14. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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  15. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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  16. Khasrin

    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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    Khasrin Fusozayiit

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