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To fall in Skyrim

Discussion in 'Skyrim Fan Fiction' started by Start Dale, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    To fall in Skyrim


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    ‘Falling’ present participle of fall (Verb)

    1.Move downward, typically rapidly and freely without control, from a higher to a lower level.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    DISCLAIMER: I do not own the intellectual property rights to Skyrim or to any portion of the Elder Scrolls series (including in-game NPCs, locations, etc). Bethesda/Xenimax owns all rights to that material. I am making no monetary profit whatsoever from this work. It is simply an expression of my love for the series to share with other fans no infringement is intended.


    Main Players:


    Artur: Nord Barbarian & Listener for the Dark Brotherhood


    Kathryn of the Downs: Nord Warrior, Dragonborn & Harbinger of the Companions


    Josin Oshin: Dunmer Archer & Guild Master of the Thieves Guild


    J’zargo: Khajiit Mage & Archmage of Winterhold


    Lydia: Disgraced Housecarl and the Final Blade


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    Table of Contents:

    Explanation

    Part 1: By Mage light

    Part 2: A Listener in the dark

    Part 3: Of Keepers and Listeners

    Part 4: A theft too far

    Part 5: Shadow Princess

    Part 6: To meet the Jarl of Riften

    Part 7: In the searching dark

    Part 8: Sleight of Hand

    Part 9: Blades and Magic

    Part 10: To take Counsel

    Part 11: To go for a walk

    Part 12: Bloodied

    Part 13: Storm the gates

    Part 14: A Jarl for Riften

    Part 15: Underneath

    Part 16: Diplomatic Service

    Part 17: Unknown Quantities

    Part 18: Reborn

    I hope you enjoy my story
     
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    A.Auditore: 20 Points (Slowly reading bits of it Dale!!! <3 it so far!!!) Jul 28, 2013
    #1 Start Dale, Jul 14, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
  2. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    This new Fanfiction is an adaption of previous now deleted threads, I have decided to restructure the story and start from scratch to create a better storyline. I will be rewriting all the story plots to include the recently released DLC's and to include better character environment and exposition details within my story telling. Due to this parts of the story may change however the essence of the characters established should remain the same.

    Deleted Threads:

    A Listener in the dark

    A theft too Far

    Attack attack attack

    Being Replaced with:

    To fall in Skyrim

    I have added a suggestion of 18+ as parts of the storyline will be dealing with sexually explicit themes and some brutal violent subject matters. You don't have to be 18+ to read this Fan fiction however if you feel you will not be able to deal with some aspects of this storyline with suitable maturity , this may not be the thread for you.
     
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  3. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 1: By Mage Light


    The college of Winterhold sits high above the capital of Winterhold, almost in defiance of the very laws of nature. Its heavy fortified mass of stone masonry hangs off a ruined rocky formation hundreds of meters above the tumultuous and turbulent freezing waters of the sea below. The capital of Winterhold bar a small handful of buildings that now remain were essentially destroyed in a great cataclysm many years ago. Only in recent years as the college attempted to assist in any rebuilding efforts. A change in Policy brought about by the new Archmage now almost a decade into his role, slowly the capital of the Winterhold is beginning to show small signs of growth.


    “Archmage” The ears of the feline Khajiit prick to the sound of his hard earned title, he ignores it though deep in an eternal reverie he focuses on the spell casting process.



    The master of the college of Winterhold Archmage J’zargo sits cross-legged and meditative in his quarters. Surrounding him are the collected works of learning of over seven hundred years worth of Archmages their works all absorbed meticulously over a decade’s worth of study. Ever since, he ascended to the post of master of the college and at least in theory master of all mages within Skyrim J’zargo has made it his business to keep a pulse on all the occurrences of a magical nature within his realm.



    It was after an incident at the college, which led to his taking the position of Archmage that J’zargo established the new ethos of the college. The ‘Eye of Magnus’ that almost finally destroyed Winterhold College, capital and Hold all that inspired the new direction of the Mages within Skyrim. In a speech that now is a cornerstone of the College’s charter J’zargo stated that the new essence of learning in the college was to ‘learn, master, catalogue, make safe and control the flow of magic within Skyrim’.



    That when the replacement to the lunatic Ancano introduced himself the college demanded he surrenders all magical knowledge he carried with him to the college for assessment. The Thalmor through Elenwen’s letter accepted that Ancano’s instability meant that he should not have been assigned such a trust worthy post at the college, of course though they flat out refused to accept responsibility for the actions of a rogue agent. J’zargo personally assisted the new Thalmor representative, to surrender all magical knowledge for assessment even though the agent balked at the idea.



    A decade later and apart from one other distraction, that placed Archmage J’zargo on his current path his reserved study of knowledge and his devotion to the improvement of magical relations within Skyrim have all been to try and stop one truth from bursting into the light. Yet the truth even J’zargo cannot see, all he gets in his now three year constant cyclic nature of meditation and assessment are the edges of something looming from beyond, something just out of reach to his ethereal senses.


    Why had the previously out going and almost recklessly flamboyant Archmage of Winterhold adopted almost a hermetic existence within his chambers? An answer or at least a part of it slips herself from between the sheets of his bed. Pricking his ears follow her path around his chambers as she slips a robe over her naked and unnaturally pale flesh, unconsciously he always tracks her location even if he isn’t aware of it. She grabbed a gourd, poured herself a thick rich red liquid into a goblet, and took a long drink of it. Then walked over to the locked door, the only entrance to the Archmages quarters unlocking it she theatrically swung it open and let in Urag gro-Shub head of The Arcanaeum.



    “Is his master, still meditating then?” The large male Orc spoke in bitter and sardonic tones.



    “Of course” the woman padded her way back into the centre of the Archmages Quarters on the balls of her feet and slid onto a bench “You may as well come in Urag”.



    Urag walked over to the adjacent bench sitting heavily down “Enthir’s dead Serena”.



    “The one who had started his final translation of the Ancient Falmer texts, tell me he made notes, J’zargo is convinced that those text are the lynch pin in his research” Serena looked genuinely concerned taking a long drink from her goblet.



    “There were no notes within his chambers or his research labs; however he was dissolved to ash...” Urag spoke until interrupted by Serena.



    “Necromancy” She spoke a sense of slight distaste in her tone.



    “Quite, though from all inspections of his recent communications, there was one message sent to Riften, care of a Karliah. The courier who was tracked down stated he did not understand much of the massage apart from that some kind of eyes had to be returned. Something about Dwarven ruins, the lad didn’t look like he understood what he was reading to be honest” Urag shifted his head the direction of the Archmage, his unspoken comment being about if the Khajiit was all here.



    “Oh he hears all, yet of course he refuses to come out of his trance till he is good and ready” The last comment sounded like a jibe from Serena one which Urag wisely avoided.



    At that point, the glow of mage light faded from J’zargo his head nodded down and then slowly rose back up with his eyes opening.



    “Shame about Enthir, he had a mind for lost languages that was unparalleled, we may never see his like again. We have a bigger problem than the Thieves guild though” J’zargo stood and stretched before settling down on a nearby bench.



    “What?” Spoke Urag and Serena together.



    His face a picture of dread J’zargo spoke his explanation in one word.



    “Sithis”

    To Part Two
     
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  4. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 2: A Listener in the dark

    In the darkness of a tunnel a figure is moving, slowly taking each step so as not to make a sound. Armoured hands softly caress the edges of the granite tunnel, the slow pace belaying a hunter stalking prey. Yet the figure is alone in the darkness of this tunnel a faint glow all that lets him know what may or may not be in front of him. A steady almost inaudible hiss follows him as he moves deeper into the gloom. He is a black silhouette in his Ebony Mail armour amongst grey green shadows, the tunnel edges covered in lichen and fungi a trickling stream flows beneath him. The tunnel is starting to narrow to a point of light ahead that grew brighter as he approached it.


    The hissing stopped; inside his helmet the figure smiled ‘Finally’ he thought ‘I was convinced I was never going to evade them’.


    In front of him the light made sure his relief was short lived, marking out an end to his stealthy progress through the gloom. As the tunnel abruptly ended in a shaft that ascended straight to the surface, it must be hundreds of metres of vertical ascent, as the light was but a pinprick at its source on the surface.


    Exhausted he collapsed to the ground and leaned against the granite walls, staring up at the light source.


    “Well, thanks are given to The Night Mother and our Dread Lord Sithis for providing such an attractive tomb to your humblest of servants but one” The figure exclaimed a rueful smile playing across parched lips. “Alas tomorrow the plan on spending ones commission in the joyful upkeep of the temples and ladies of Dibella means, for now I will not be able to take you up on your kindest of offers. However fret not, for I shall return here when my time comes, look here I am marking the location down on my map for just such an occasion.”



    Rising to his feet he braced himself against the sides of the tunnel with his hands stretching inside the armour to abate the tensions and cramps he was feeling throughout his body.


    “I’m never climbing up there in this armour, nor have I the intention of doing so, dear Mother alert our Dread Lord I may be sending more guests to him before getting out of this Dwarven hole. Oh and be a sweetie, tell Cicero I want a hot bath and fresh towels for when I return, oh that’s right, you don’t talk to Cicero do you?”


    Silence descended as the figure turned from the light and faced back into the gloom. At this he removed his helmet leaning back and let his pale Nordic skin be bathed in the little light that was falling through to him.


    Running his hands through his red hair he exclaimed “Nope just me, just my luck, I mean with all respect your guidance always seems straight forward and without any hint of malice or of even impending threat towards my own continuing mortality. Three hours alone evading our dread lords embrace in this hole and already I sound like Cicero damn his aged bones, since you’re at your usual level of communication when not giving orders I shall have a rest here before continuing. Feel free to wake me if I over sleep.”



    With that the figure loosened the straps on his armour found a ledge under the dimming light and using his helmet the Masque of Clavicus Vile as a pillow, something that made him smile slightly he drifted off to an uneasy slumber.



    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



    “Listener you rest when you should be finding the target” Looking up at him from the coffin nursing cradle the corpse of the Night Mother admonishes, “Look towards sweet Cicero he knows his duty”.



    Cicero in his jesters garb approaches the night mothers crib, leaning over he places a child’s dummy between the Night Mother’s mummified lips. “Mother needs you to do your work while she rests, these dogs must meet their destiny, now I have them chained up for you but they shall be released and you must hunt them down and put them out of their misery”, Cicero motions over the room across the night mothers nursery towards the two crippled Falmer that have been chained to the wall. Both have been swaddled in golden cloth wearing princess tiaras, they are hunched over and using their teeth and claws they are tearing into a child vampires leg, eating the flesh from it.


    All the while the child Babette is stroking their heads “Eat up, the listener is coming and you sweet ladies need your strength before you journey to meet our glorious Dread Lord”.


    The Night Mother springs out of her crib “Now listener do your duty, fulfil the contract!”


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    Waking up with a start the words of the Night mother ringing throughout his head, the Listener rubs his eyes. Light and water streaming from the surface bring him fully round from the fitful sleep in this dank underground tunnel.


    “Well that will teach me for asking the Night Mother for a wake-up call” Thought the Nord Listener.


    “Time to get a move on and finish the contracts then, thank you sweet Mother” he proclaimed to the tunnel in general.


    Affixing the Masque of Clavicus Vile he adjusted the straps of his armour so it was once again tight to his skin, his conditioning allowing the armour to feel like a second skin heavy yet comfortable. He flexed onto his feet stretching and adjusting till he felt limber and ready to move, picking up his Deadric Battle axe from the ground he felt its reassuring weight in his hands. He ensured his Ebony Bow and full quiver were in their correct position for any necessary quick weapon change over.



    He started to head down the tunnel his last statement to no one in particular but directed at the gloom in front of him, in a particularly mocking tone “Come out come out wherever you are Falmer princesses numbered two".


    Two weeks ago the Black Sacrament ritual was performed somewhere in Skyrim and the night mother called for the listener, before having finished executing the previous commission. In the ten years since the Emperor joined Sithis in the void, the listener has only received the next commission through the Night Mother at the earliest one whole day after the assassination was completed, whether he was the one who had completed the kill or one of his growing group of dark brother or sister acolytes.


    This time while out on a contract in Whiterun, he had brought Cicero with him, more for the man’s companionship and to give him a break from his keeper duties than for his skill with a blade.


    Still fast enough to scare new recruits, age had started to catch up with Cicero, no longer the deadly nimble dancer and fool. His body now slowed and still like an undisturbed pool, quite unsettling even under stress and duress he would appear motionless. Until he moved a small smile on his thin lips and then he was standing and the other was on the ground, alive or dead depended if you were a commission or not. If you were a student you didn’t end up dead, to tell the truth considering the strength of healing spells required for those foolish enough, to still spar with Cicero, it was a close run thing.



    It was only when you watched his body after the strike you saw the slightest shudder in the joints. A weakness in the stride that a year ago wasn’t there, you could see that his body was slowing and to compensate he had speeded his mind up. He almost appeared sane now-a-days until you looked at the eyes, they never stopped.


    “So I said to Babette, I may be getting greyer but at least I’m not a shrunken bloodsucker. Can you imagine her face; I swear she almost ate me right there and then, so I did a quick spin and laughed, everyone pities the jester. She scowled as only a three hundred or so year old virgin can and turned away, hence how I am with you now” Cicero smiled at the listener as they leaned on the parapet walls of Whiterun. “The worst of it I almost snapped my ankle off in that pirouette I did for her and she didn’t even applaud. Sithis himself could have heard it click.”


    Cicero proceeded to giggle to himself until he turned around a sweet roll in his hand and with a big grin on his face “Bribe for the boss.”


    The listener looked at the sweet roll and then looked at his loyal companion “You’re a lucky man; If that ankle had broken we would have had to get Babette to put you down. Bribe or not.” He gratefully picked the sweet roll from Cicero’s hand, as he lifted the sweet roll another budded off of it and dropped to Cicero’s waiting hand.


    “Ha ha, that’s the way to do it” chimed Cicero.


    “Magic, of course but what, alchemy, illusion, and alteration I mean how, you can’t just double objects so, well how?” The listener, obviously perplexed by his companion looked dumbfounded.


    A slow thin smile spread across Cicero’s lips his shifting glance settled into a thousand yard stare at the setting sun he simply stated “Word soup”.


    The Listener stared at his friend then settled on a decision that to push further would be to be stonewalled with maddening quips. As the last of the daylight vanished behind the throat of the world, they finished their sweet rolls.


    “Shall we” The listener motioned to Cicero, then placed on the Masque of Clavicus Vile.



    Cicero with a mockingly stern look on his face placed his jester’s hat on top of his head “Yes Artur, I am ready for this duty to be performed”.


    “Funny jester, right the Sacrament states that we are to take out one of the Whiterun guards, he will apparently be wearing a sprig of lavender on his armour as an identifying mark. I hate to jinx this but an arrow at long range should send him to Sithis for good. Cicero I’ll need you to be a look out and spotter warn me of any change in the wind” Artur the Listener of the Dark Brotherhood motioned Cicero to follow him as they crept along the stone battlements of Whiterun.


    Whiterun itself was a large city, built atop a large hill it rose from a simple walled merchant area into massive rich district to the famed hall of the Companions, a fighting guild and all Nordic heroes true, or some other brave nonsense. Members of the Dark Brotherhood followed a simpler ethos than the complicated codes of conduct restraining the Companions to acts of noble endeavour.



    ‘Our way is better’ thought Artur, the person who wants someone dead prays to the Night Mother in a ceremony called the Black Sacrament, she sends the Listener an essence of her spirits soul with a message that cannot be ignored to meet with that person. The Dark Brotherhood then meets with the person wanting someone killed, receives the commission, kills the target and the Listener receives another visitation from the Night Mother when another Black Sacrament has been performed. All in the service of our Dread Lord Sithis, to ensure that more souls are sent to his embrace in the oblivion that awaits after death. ‘Provided we are paid as well’ thought Artur.


    At the top of Whiterun sits Dragonsreach, the impressive seat of power of Jarl Balgruuf, ruler of the province and city of Whiterun. From here the new rotation of guards are coming out to complete the night patrol.



    As Cicero and Artur waited in the battlements hidden between the shadows of stone masonry, Artur readied his bow drew an arrow and settled into wait for the commissioned target.



    “There about thirty four metres away, a guard with a sprig of lavender on his armour” Cicero informed Artur pointing with his dagger “You’re in luck oh Listener there is no wind to slow or turn your arrow, time is a waiting” Cicero smiled as Artur Readied his shot.



    “You’ve still got good eyes, jester” muttered Artur drawing his bow, sudden agony gripped his form his head arcing back violently, red bled into his vision and a white rotten form of the Night Mother clambered through it on all fours.


    She reached out to him and grabbed his head with her mummified hands “The Black Sacrament has been performed! Now listener to Winterhold you must travel! The Elvin mage in the Inn seeks you! Hurry! Send me my Keeper I need his protection! The Black Sacrament has been performed you must respond, or we will all be with Sithis by the next month!”



    The last Artur was aware of was his body keel back off of the Battlement and fall out of the city of Whiterun.



    To Part Three
     
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  5. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    To go to start of Fanfic press here
    Part 3: Of Keepers and Listeners


    Waking with a start Artur’s head jerked madly glancing about, unable to move his body he started to panic.



    “Ah you’re still with us then sunshine.” The voice was unfamiliar, old and provincial; it lacked any sense of refinement. “You’re friend said you’d had a rough one, up all hours he mentioned. God you stink, you didn’t just fall into a vat of mead then, did you?”



    Artur focused on getting his breathing under control, from the sound of the voice it didn’t appear he had been captured or was under any immediate threat. Either that or he was dealing with the friendliest gaoler in all of Skyrim itself. Slowly his vision acclimatised to his surroundings; well he definitely wasn’t captured from the cloudy early morning sky rolling over him. It was then a sharp jolt gave him all he needed to know.



    “This carriage needs to go to Winterhold, I have urgent business there” stated Artur.


    “Aye that’s where your friend told me we would be heading, dumped you in the carriage almost buck naked, dropped a few bear hides over you a kit bag thrown on top, I’m assuming yours. Then he told me he’d give me one thousand Septims if we left immediately for Winterhold. I tried to tell him that the cost was five hundred Septims and we leave at six in the morning. Oh no, was he, its one thousand Septims and now we go”. The Carriage driver required that moment to break from his reverie to have a long strong smelling drink from some sort of leather pouch.



    “So that my sunshine is how we are here first thing at half five in the morning, four miles from Whiterun on our way to one of the most god-awful holes in all of Skyrim. You boys can waste your money however you want it’s no skin off of my nose”. Having finished his piece the driver settled back into his contemplative drive.


    Taking in his surroundings Artur located Cicero at the other end of the carriage, asleep and reclining in most baffling of all robes; a priest of Mara. Out of the jesters gear and asleep he looked quite serene and wise, an aged paternal figure guiding a wayward younger relative home in time for arranging a proposal, or some such other ceremony, suitable for a man of his position in such an established and loving clergy.


    Artur smiled at such a quickly and subtly put together ruse, finding himself not for the first time admiring his Keeper’s quick wit. “I’ll let him sleep some more then we will need to discuss what has happened” thought Artur closing his eyes and leaning back, letting the undulations of the carriage take him away from the desperate smell coming from his own body.


    “Wake up oh Listener we’re stopping briefly” Cicero peered down at Artur the carriage pulled into the side of a road. “Here there is a stream over there, go wash some of that muck and murkier stuff off and then you can put your clothes on, Nephew.” At this Cicero raised both eyebrows stared pointedly at Artur and then smiled quickly once before putting on a stern foreboding face.


    Clambering off of the carriage Artur slowly made his way to the stream. As he was washing he found himself joined by a still stern faced Cicero. Artur broke into a smile barely suppressing giggles and turned so his face was pointing away from the Carriage driver. “At some point ‘Uncle’ you shall need to tell me how we left the tavern last night” at this Cicero pointed an admonishing finger at him. Artur almost in fits said “I’m sorry Uncle”.


    “Sorry!” Cicero seemed to be enjoying this new role he had chosen while the Listener was out of commission “You’re own dear mother lies near death’s door at the family home. After investing so much of her own wealth into your talent with words! You, you gallivant around Skyrim spending such wealth without a worry for her feelings or your own future! You will make amends; a life of service in the family trade is your reward for your disregard and ineptitude!”


    A look of warning from the Artur silences Cicero, some of those role played words struck a bit close to home. Never one for responsibility and the joining of groups Artur had found his acclimation to first his new found family and then his position of responsibility as listener daunting. Though over time he had taken his role seriously having never missed an assassination before last night, under his leadership as Listener the Dark Brotherhood had grown in scale and influence. In this recent year there were plans to expand to a new additional Sanctuary outside of Skyrim.



    Yet still Artur’s rebellious spirit repeatedly reared its head during his conversations with his family members. If it wasn’t for his position as listener he would have long ago been run through by those who acclimatised to their calling with more grace than he ever has managed.


    Only Cicero never seemed to mind his sarcastic phrases and desire to appear flippant and disrespectful to those who he owed everything to. Like a patient parent, or mentor become friend Cicero tolerated or at points joined in with his flippant attitude. As the Keeper his own strains must have a similar effect in his head, with the long isolation he suffered with only a corpse for company, causing untold damage that the past few years that reunited Cicero with a new family and Listener had softened the edges of but had never removed.



    Cicero his face hidden from the driver looked apologetic, though he continued “You will take up the reins of this carriage. Relieve that poor carriage driver who was woken so early from his slumber to save your hide and take us the rest of the way to Winterhold. Now get dressed!” At this Cicero tossed some blacksmith’s clothes to the ground and walked off.



    When Artur returned to the carriage the driver was already reclining in the back as he bit into a sweet roll and swallowed, his eyes rolled up and the eyelids closed.



    “Poison...?” Artur asked, as he pulled himself up onto the driver’s seat of the carriage, beside Cicero.


    “Why, would a priest of love ever consider such underhand deceptive murder?” Cicero looked completely sincere.


    “Knock it off” Replied Artur.



    “In your old age you are no fun at all dear Listener” Intoned Cicero “At least I didn’t force a pirouette for you after dancing over your nerves earlier. To answer your terse question no, I haven’t poisoned our dear suddenly wealthy driver, a little narcotic pleasure to give us a chance to talk about last night’s events. Considering all I did I think I need some thanks, don’t you?” Smiled Cicero, his eyes dazzling briefly, and then starting their fast paced darting taking in the entire environment in an apparent blur.


    “Goes without saying of course, thank you though, how about you tell me yours and I tell you mine?” Artur suggested, at Cicero’s smile the Listener beckoned for the Keeper to start his tale.



    “Right, so together we were on the battlements, setting the scene I’ll call this” Cicero smiled to his colleague “I of course had just pointed out the target and correctly gauged the wind, I watched you sight your shot and then you screamed out convulsing and uttering our Night Mother’s name. In between snippets of agonised gibberish you started to keel back, heh he he ho ha ha. Off the wall you went, all the way to the bottom. Weeeeee, so silly of you the Night Mother’s words are soothing, not ouchies” Cicero paused adjusting his robes pulling out a pouch of water.


    After taking a long slug from the pouch he passed it to Artur who did the same, then passed the pouch back to Cicero.


    “Good for you listener, no Cooties, now where were we, ah quite. You are falling back uttering agonised phrases. At the same time you release your arrow; which flies, flies, then falls right into the head of the Commander of the Whiterun guard. Pop he goes onto the ground while over you go into the dark, the last word I hear from you being a strangled choke of the name Winterhold” Cicero motioned to the carriage and driver, gestural explanation made a smug smile played on his thin lips while Artur rolled his eyes at such an obvious request for a compliment.


    “Well, as you possibly due to interference from below had screwed the commission. It made sense to follow through and finish off, no need to ruin an almost perfect run of hits. It was the action of simplicity to snatch your bow from you and slip out an arrow from your quiver as you fell. Natched the commission and with you having removed the commissioner there was no need for me to stay” Cicero lifted both his hands to his face making a wall shape with his hands and peered over them.


    “And there you were half submerged in about twelve feet of horse manure!” Cicero bent double when he saw the scowl on Artur’s face hysterics forcing his face into a convulsing rictus grin.


    “Don’t be so serious the Night Mother provides to those that are loyal, well at least in actions me laddo” Cicero patted the Listener on the shoulder. “From there it was the matter of simplicity to scale down the wall, opposed to your method” Cicero grinned “and its resplendent landing, fished you out of your bed, stripped of thon by Deadra acquired armour you’re oh so proud of and dressed us in attire that would suit a patient man of the cloth” Cicero beckoned to himself “and his layabout useless nephew who needs constant watching” pointing to the listener he grinned innocently.



    The listener nodded “While it is good to see you’ve finally cottoned onto the concept of a disguise to aid the escape from a failed stealth assassination attempt. Maybe less glee in the execution of said cover story might be suitable” Artur studied the clouds then proclaimed in unison with Cicero;



    “Kill one Emperor and all of a sudden every city is looking for assassins in black and red armour with black handprints sigils on them. By Sithis it’s almost enough to cause a man to lose his fine spirited nature!”


    Together they laughed for a few minutes before Cicero added “I still vote we should add that onto the team chant”.


    The listener nodded once in agreement “Alas such things are beyond our power to change. So the Night Mother has sent another vision a new commission for the Dark Brotherhood and vile warnings for us all”.



    Cicero responded “Vile warnings?”


    “Indeed, I’ve summoned Shadowmere to meet us on the way to Winterhold; you will return to the sanctuary and are to stand vigil over the Night Mother. For reasons unknown she feels she needs your company urgently. This is your prime consideration, if you feel any danger you are to enact removal squad protocols, we can lose a sanctuary, we cannot lose the Night Mother, the entire Brotherhood are to take part in the safe keeping while I am on this commission. I won’t have you abandoned again”.



    As the listener gave these instructions Cicero’s visage darkened. “I don’t know what Sithis has in store for us but I can guarantee it will be a greater rite of passage than removing that Emperor was, I feel either success and prosperity lie ahead for the Dark Brotherhood or we all including the Night mother will finally enter Sithis’ grasp”.


    Just outside the Winterhold territory Shadowmere caught up to the carriage, Cicero retrieved his Dark Brotherhood garb and weaponry. When almost out of sight mounted on Shadowmere he turned in the saddle and raising his fist in salute watched his listener go on in the carriage on his own.



    To Part Four
     
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  6. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 4: A theft too far

    Far south of the hold of Winterhold in a mountainous area within the territory of The Pale hold, just south of Lake Yorgrim a group of fur-clad figures advance through a blizzard.

    In the distance there are the remains of a Dwemer ruin, the ancient long abandoned underground cities of the Dwarves. The entrance way barely visible over the snow drifts that march along the rocky surface of the mountainous range. One of the fur clad figures points to it in the distance.

    “Another few hours and we shall arrive at Irkngthand, Josin”

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Darkness suits the figure clad in black, he has been following his quarry for ten minutes yet even the shadows would have trouble picking him out. Some time recently in the past he was convinced that he had to steal a weapon, he was paid well to take on the task; the rewards promised for a successful theft, they are almost limitless. He has to steal for the Jarl, something deadly that Maven has to pass higher up the food chain of politics. The stolen weapon will make Imperial existence more comfortable and give Jarl Maven more influence over a comfortable Empire.

    Therefore, Josin finds himself spending the twilight hours in Whiterun, far from the comforting closeness of the Riften alleys and tightly packed streets. If it were not for the wealth that lies in Whiterun’s many dwellings the thieves’ guild would on general avoid this place. This was no city for stealth, impossible in the daytime; unlike Riften’s close almost supernaturally gloomy close streets, Whiterun was as bright as a sparkling jewel.

    Even waiting for nighttime to fall was no guarantee of shadows to move in, light just seemed to find this place. It must be the influence of the Whiterun plains that surround this city, massive open flat spaces perfect for arable farming and the capture of game, everyone has the love of open spaces here, even those that built the streets wide and free of clutter. Then there were the damnable guards, in Riften they sunk into the gloom, always keen to avoid something they may have to deal with. Not as bad as the Markarth guards; that they would walk past someone suffering a violent assault or even death for the right weight of coin, but definitely our Riften protectors were keen to avoid any larceny that may cause for an awkward stop to the donations made to the Riften Guard’s Widows fund.

    That is what he hated about Whiterun, it was so honest, and yes, the Thieves guild had inroads here, it had worked its magic with some of the attendants at the Jarls court of advisors. Still the Jarl himself always the stubborn fool Balgruuf could not be moved, even Maven could not move him and her words were carrying good weight across the empire itself. So the guards could be swayed from taking a guild operative who was slow and visible to a cell, he still required a hefty fine to let you get on your way. From what Josin heard from his sources within Whiterun, they actually had put the fines into a widow’s fund that went direct to the women themselves without falling into any of the local Dibella temples and Inns first.

    Still he was making steady progress through the twilight areas of Whiterun, shadowing one of the guards as he did his rounds. He was making a low long loop around the shadows under the battlements towards his quarry. A building built as if a Longboat had been over turned and made into a hall sitting squat and resolute under the shadow of the Jarls palatial Dragonsreach.

    Thankfully he was a Dark Elf, it was in the name, and this is what he did best, stealth, acquisition, speed and cunning the gifts of Boethiah to her children. He had trained in the guild from he was young, now merely into his prime he moved with such a deft touch sometimes he thought he could avoid the very rain drops, until it rained on him.

    If he was honest, the task was worrying him, the riches that awaited him were to be great and yet it nagged at him the snatch target. This was Wuuthrad he had been sent after, not some sharp blade but the weapon solely designed to kill Elvin folk. He had to be at the top of his game, to complete this he would need all his skills, or it could be the shortest reign of a Thieves Guild leader ever.

    Bad enough he had to tolerate a couple of days ago in his own guild, that murderous barbarian who fancies himself as a divine conduit; cursed is the truth of that arrangement, just because the fool Nord enjoys the curse doesn’t make it any less of a curse. Now he has to invade a group of battle happy fools and steal the prized weapon of their leader the Harbinger.

    He passed up the steps leading to the Companions Mead Hall and slowly as if a breeze opened the door a fraction and slipped into the darkened room. Thankfully, all were in their chambers, as well fed and sated warriors should be. He started to head to where he had been briefed that the Harbingers quarters would be.

    He moved through the other halls and doors as if a ghost. Until he reached the Harbingers room, the door was ajar so he merely slipped through the gap. Wuuthrad was sitting there, beside the bed; the Harbinger laid on the bed asleep a thin sheet barely covering her body a tall Nordic woman with milky white skin and light brown hair. She slept sprawled out on the bed one arm curled under head as a support to it the other stretched straight out the hand almost on Wuuthrad itself, Josin crept across the room to his quarry.

    It was in his hand, all that had to be done was leave turning on his toes not a sound emanating from any aspect of him he made his way across the bedroom floor. Wealth would be his and the guilds, he could finally get into the warrens of Markarth and take it as another headquarters. Then it happened, he looked back, he did it he would have sworn he did not know why, but he did, it was to inspect the form that lay on the bed. Though a Nord woman the elegance and beauty in her form, the suppleness and strength of her figure, it could enchant, drawn in the moment of appreciation he breathed out.

    Her eyes shot open, brown eyes that saw him with her weapon, she breathed in fast lungs expanding. Her eyes darkened then a flash passed through them, and he was picked up off of his feet; a force of air and immense sound collecting him like a child’s rag doll thrown into a hurricane it threw him bodily backwards. Punching through her bedroom door in hail of splinters he spun in the mid air the world a blur of motion, he felt himself go head over heels while turning sideways. Moving too fast for his eyes to follow the inertia carried him to a black place his mind turning off before, agonising pain as he hit the ground his shoulder smashing into it. This spun him round on the ground he slid the rest of the way into a wall at the end of the corridor.

    Opening his eyes, he saw the Nord woman advancing on him while scooping her battle-axe from the ground she picked her pace to a run. Trying to raise himself, pain shot through his body, pushing through it forcing the protesting arm to the scabbard he tried to pull his sword out. Then she was on him, she had skipped a step landed on one foot and started to spin the end of the battle axe coming round in a fast arc, too fast, without time to think he lurched back the blade about to find his head.

    The blade hung a fraction of an inch from his face; it was all his vision could see, from the edge of the blade a voice, not the warrior’s voice gruff and harsh that he expected but honeyed tones that sounded just like a priestess of Dibella uttered one word to him.

    “Speak.”


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Standing now with the Dragonborn Harbinger outside Irkngthand, it seemed a lifetime ago, members of their respective guilds flanked them. He shot Kathryn a look attempting to make his eyes speak volumes, it had been around a decade since their first meeting, yet since that time they had worked together a number of times. Trading expertise like the professionals, they were, respecting each other, sometimes moving past respect into something more affectionate.

    Yet it never lasted, Kathryn a Companion was addicted to passion and adventure the thrill of battle. The life of stealth, cunning theft and deception would never be to her satisfaction.

    In response to his look, she pulled Wuuthrad from her back and tightened her grip around it feeling its weight. Josin knew that under that Steel Plated armour she was smiling, her body desperate to charge on in, and adrenaline would be coursing through her now.

    She never got that about him, combat though a necessity, was something that he felt was to be used like a tool, not something to be relished and sought with reckless abandon. Then again that would be why they were not both in the same guild, these differences would be needed again he felt, many times before the day was done.

    If the message he had received from Enthir had been right something was up with the Falmer and the Mage was worried he was being spied upon. He remembered the courier’s message well.

    ‘Return to Irkngthand Josin, it is of the upmost importance, death surrounds Skyrim, and you must bring the Eyes of the Falmer with you. They will buy us a peace, yet you will need to move fast. I am not the only one that knows this, spies surround me at all corners or I would meet with you myself. You have owed me for a time, for my part in Karliah’s return and Mercer’s downfall. It is time an old man collected. Remember the Eyes, Enthir.’

    Therefore, he had gathered a force together and he had made his way to Irkngthand, with no idea what he was walking into but certain they would all be lucky to walk out again.

    Entering Irkngthand had been easy, like most Dwarven ruins it had been repeatedly pillaged over the years by any assortment of groups; from scholars seeking to make their name by rediscovering some ancient Dwarven technology or new theory of how their race had fallen and vanished almost instantly centuries ago. Or bandits seeking treasure as plunder, most often a combination of the two the mysterious and traceless disappearance of the Dwarves from Tamriel had sparked a greedy curiosity from almost all who heard the tale.

    Even amongst the fool hardy, the reputation of the Falmer had pierced outwards, most groups preparations ended in death anyway, the Falmer guarded their inherited territory with an almost obsessive and enraged desire to remove all life that was not Falmer the twisted mutated remains of the once proud Snow Elves.

    Upon entering, the Companions spread out to take strategic line of sight positions across all attack vantages. Weapons drawn, they appeared relaxed almost jovial to be out in the field of conquest. Josin shook his head at their pleasure in such activities, all inspired by the exuberant nature of the Harbinger herself. In a pleasant tone encouraging her fellows into position, rebuking those who do not move at her pace, she herself sauntering through the centre of this activity Wuuthrad nonchalantly slung over both shoulders.

    When the Companions were satisfied that they had a perimeter established the members of the Thieves guild silently fell into position, backing up each Companion with a bow. Josin smiled at this, it was a point of pride to him that since his ascension to master of the Thieves guild, he had encouraged his members, to become instinctively able to find their most optimal path in any event without instruction. Kathryn had noticed this and grunted a slight disapproval at his methods even though she had many times recognised that sometimes they had worth.

    “So now what are we to do?” Kathryn approached Josin who was being flanked by Brynjolf and Karliah. The four of them formed a small council to discuss the next move, Karliah removed her hood as did Josin and Brynjolf, Kathryn pulling of her steel plate helmet and affixing it to the side of her armour.

    Smiling at the three Nightingale agents, the Harbinger nodded to them “I feel it shouldn’t need to be stated but what is wrong with a rolling advance, your archers providing precision long range strikes and we can do the messy business of eliminating any Falmer foolish enough to get close to Wuuthrad”. Kathryn grinned slightly evilly at the two Dark Elves “before you know it we get to the statue room replace the gems and we’re done and gone, any problems?”

    “Yes because, no matter your instinctual reactions Kathryn, that’s not what we are here to do” Josin was frowning “The purpose of this intrusion to Falmer territory is too undo the mistakes of the past. Not create an entire set of new problems; I know Nords and the Falmer have a history, yet could it not be possible that we can change the past to forge a new story. You all saw the scrolls that Enthir had translated before his assassin reached him. It is a peace accord we must forge today, you combat happy Companions are here only if the worst-case scenario occurs. If the Falmer are too damaged to cease an attack and negotiate then you take over and we spill whatever blood is needed to get us out of here, no bloodshed before that point occurs are we understood Harbinger?”

    “If you insist, though I remain unconvinced anything that mage has predicted through those age old translations will bear out. I’m here for two fold reasons; the debt of honour I owe you Josin and the Companions own sense of adventure” Kathryn having said her piece replaced her helmet “Let me know which direction we are going and I will start moving us that way”.

    Karliah stepped forward “I resent your tone Companion, Enthir is a long time Guild associate and friend. He has not once when the Guild has needed assistance steered us wrong, if he was worried, he had reason, now he is dead just ash left as sign of his passing, it appears that he was right. So you will do your part with honour and follow our direction” Karliah was cut short by Kathryn, as she moved closer to her.

    “Or what will you do then, if we don’t thief?” Kathryn squared up to Karliah.

    At this point Brynjolf bodily stepped between the two women, both shot him brief murderous looks. “This is no time to let old adversaries splinter our union ladies. This is a beneficial union that we have forged strengthened by a long time of mutual co-operation. If you wish to ruin it in one spat you will both go through me before getting to each other”.

    The two women stepped back from the force of Brynjolf’s conviction, Kathryn turned to Josin “I apologise, to you and your guild, sometimes I merely want a good fight. Where it comes from is a secondary concern, Karliah does look like she would provide an ample practice session for me”

    “Kathryn, if you wish to, spar with me, we can definitely arrange something for once we are done here”. Karliah and Kathryn’s gazes locked and they both grinned with only a slight hint of malice between them.

    Brynjolf and Josin exchanged looks of slight relief, though the frown on Brynjolf’s face confirmed Josin’s increasing fear that the two women would only be happy once they had the brawl out of the system. Josin decided that it was time to get this entry to Irkngthand underway before any more trouble could erupt, between the two groups.

    “Alright, so we will need to proceed with caution, this is how we shall do it” The other three gathered round, no matter their personal problems they were professionals and would play their parts to the best of their abilities. While discussing the plan his mind cast back to the first time he himself had encountered the harbinger and how hard it was too deal with her when she was under full steam, ready for battle.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Wait, please” It was more a whisper than a plea, still the blade of Wuuthrad dropped slightly, his head tilted back and his blurred vision managed to notice she had charged him naked, other figures were stepping from rooms weapons drawn, his vision though was still darkening, it was at this point he lost consciousness.

    Awakening in a start, Josin found himself bound to a chair in the main hall of the Companions building. In front of him, a long table stretched outwards, various figures sat around the table eating, the dawn light illuminating them all.

    As his eyes gained focus he noticed a female figure at the far end of the table standing, bow drawn string full of tension and arrow ready to leap out from the bow straight at him, he wondered how long she had been standing there waiting for him to awaken, was her bow drawn all the time. No sign of strain appeared on the woman’s features, she looked as if she could stand there all day bow drawn without even a sign of discomfort.

    “Oh she would if needed too” This voice came from beside him, a male gruff voice chuckling seemed to read his mind “Not a mages trick but anyone faced with Aela at the bow, has the same fears streak through their mind. Just count yourself lucky she was told not to use the arrow to kill, just to stop you if you broke the bindings, stay still and you’ll make it through breakfast. Can’t make any promises for afterwards”. The large male beside him winked then grabbing another slice of Horker meat off the tray tore into it with a strange ferociousness.

    Josin his mouth gagged found he could not respond.

    “Aela, take five, grab some food and relax. I’ll make sure our guest doesn’t go anywhere” At that, the man slammed a sword down on the table laughing.

    “Sure thing Vilkas that is if you have managed to leave any food for the rest of us” With that the woman called Aela sheathed her arrow in its quiver and sat down to the table, making herself a plate of food she poured a drink and casually leaned back in her seat as she started to eat.

    Entering through the main doorway a tall female wearing steel plated armour walked towards him. The object of his previous nights failed entry strapped to her back, she smiled to her fellows then coming to a stop, she leaned against the tableside and looked at him. Josin noticed the brightness of her blue eyes, a thin face laughter lines betraying an optimistic soul, her skin though pale had picked up the natural colour of a Nord who spent her days outside. In the case of the Harbinger of the Companions, that most likely involved combat, she seemed to be studying him while she leaned there.

    A brief smile flashed across her face as she looked at him, it appeared she had reached a decision regarding him. So picking up a cup, she poured herself some broth into it taking a sip she walked over to a seat and sat down, still looking at him she now spoke “I wouldn’t lie to us, you’re not dead and with the best of wills we don’t really want to kill you, though since you obviously know where you are this morning. If you are foolish enough to lie, I’ll let Aela take you somewhere and practice her Archery skills”

    At being mentioned, the companion flashed him a look that appeared feral and unrestrained, grinning she pointed at him while with the other hand making a slitting motion across her throat. “He looks fast; it’ll be a fun hunt”. At that some of the other Companions laughed.

    “So now we know what the consequences are of deception thief, tell me, in one word please, who was foolish enough to send a member of the Thieves Guild to the Hall of the Companions with larceny in their heart?” The Harbingers face fell to stony stillness all joviality was gone from it.

    Vilkas reached over and in one swift motion cut the gag from his mouth.

    Meeting the Harbingers gaze, Josin weighed up that it would be best not to lie to this group; apart from all appearing to be competent combatants, they looked to be without restraint.

    “Maven” As he spoke, the Harbingers face appeared shocked.

    “The Jarl of Riften what would possess her to arrange to have Wuuthrad stolen from us?” Undoing the straps she then held Wuuthrad, absently minded stroking it as she held it in her hands.

    “She is to make it a gift to those higher up the Imperial food chain, I think after getting Riften she wants to influence the moot to elect a new high king. Her ambition knows no bounds” Josin found the way Kathryn cradled Wuuthrad, endearing and also worrying, it was no wonder he had been unable to steal it from her, it appears to be part of her. He thought of his Nightingale armour and weapons back in Riften, it now appeared he had wisely left them there.

    “No you misunderstand, it is due to my part in the Civil war that she is now Jarl, what would possess her to betray that” Turning from him she faced Aela “Run up to Dragonsreach, find the Legate there, who of course, isn’t a member of the Penitus Oculatus. Tell him this information, then ask him that Legate Kathryn of the Downs wishes his best hypothesis for what is actually happening”.

    At this Aela got up and left the hall, the Harbinger turned back to him. “Hungry? Vilkas, undo his hands, I’m sure between all of us we can keep one unarmed thief at this table. Besides it is the first time in a while we have had a Dark Elf as a guest. We would hate for him to get to Sovngarde and state the Companions had lost their manners” Not for the first time since he had met her she smiled just behind that was the look of someone who relished the brutality of combat.

    As Vilkas cut his binds, Josin thought it wise to say something “Thank you Harbinger, Kathryn if I may, it was not my desire to be here and to steal from you. Alas, with the state the guild is in, none of us can turn down work, considering the coin we were given it would have been foolish to turn down the Jarl of our own city at her request. If I could have found another path I would have, especially considering that blade of yours history with the Elvin folk”. He filled his plate with food and poured himself a plentiful cup of juice, reasoning it was best to at least die on a full stomach.

    “History? Ah yes, that history. I met him recently; Ysgramor that is, Good man” The door opened and Aela returned, her face looked like thunder, Kathryn turned to her and in a nod beckoned she speak.

    “It was Maven, as he says” Josin felt the venom in Aela’s voice when she referred to him, his chances of making it out where looking less likely “The Penitus Oculatus have intercepted communications, your Legate wouldn’t give me more detail bar one word; Thalmor. It appears Maven thinks she can work both sides”.

    Josin was shocked “Thalmor! It cannot be, she would have me work for those that slaughtered my kin in one of their abominable purges” finding he couldn’t hide his disgust at what he had been doing he looks at the floor his face contorted.

    “Well this just won’t do, will it thief?” Getting up Kathryn walked towards him “The Thalmor seem to be destined to do nothing but interfere in the lives of man. Something you do not look happy about either, understandable considering. Alas, we have a problem; your Jarl seems to be helping them for a pretty coin at that I am sure if anything of Maven I have heard of is true. Actually, considering the knowledge the Thalmor seem to have of us and the wealth of Maven and her kin. How long do you suppose she has been at this?” Stopping in front of him, Kathryn held Wuuthrad in both hands, menace dripping off the axe blade as well as from her words.

    “What do you want from me?” Josin could almost feel the axe taking off his head as he spoke. This was it, he had a chance live or die, and it all depended on what she said next.

    “You’re getting us into her Keep unseen, so I and a few of my friends can have a chat with its occupants and settle this once and for all” At this she tightened her grip on Wuuthrad “What say you thief?”

    “With pleasure, and you can call me Josin” At this the blade on Wuuthrad fell and cut the bindings clamping his feet to the chair.

    “Josin is it, well this is going to be fun” All of a sudden that smile, dangerous and beguiling had returned.


    To Part Five
     
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  7. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 5: Shadow Princess
    “Damndable Elf!” spluttered Artur, as he made his way through the tunnel, feeling his way in the gloom. Deep within the tunnels or Irkngthand Artur tried to retrace his steps as he did his mind drifted back to how he found himself in this dire state.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    It was a week since he had received his commission from the Mage Elf Enthir, a week since he had set out for the Dwarven City of Irkngthand. Still apparently young, though with elves it was as always hard to tell, Enthir talked at length about his old friends who had gathered a document, some Falmer script that dictated a Snow Elvin prophecy; a prophecy about twin Falmer Princesses. Somehow the Snow elves had foresaw the fate and fall of their race and had encoded into the Falmer language and nature the possibility of salvation for all of their kind.

    Honestly for a long term barbarian who had found himself drawn into the world of assassination and religious idolatry. It was a bit much, patience strained, he had demanded the location and description of the targets and to stop with the nonsense background information.

    Location given, detailed description given from a prophecy, as accurate as that was dependent on your subjective view of a length of string, still it was a start. So taking a day to plan a route to Irkngthand, packed enough food and supplies plus some extra surprises just in case; courtesy of the Elvin Mage, enough for a fortnight delving through a Dwarven City, and with a promise to return with the news of a result and collect the commission he left the Winterhold town.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Now I wish I’d listened to the rest of the prophecy opposed to drifting in and out, might have been a mentioned something pertinent, might have prevented me from making such a world sized target of myself, the Falmer had always been ferocious but this time they appeared organised and looking for intruders opposed to merely disposing of those they accidentally encounter.” the Listener lamented “At least one of the surprises worked to my advantage and bought me some time for an escape of types, frantic though it was”.

    Waiting at the entrance to the dead end tunnel he scouted the opening into a cavern as well as he could, how he got here was by nature a series of unfortunate and deadly events.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Within a few days of entering the Dwarven ruins it was obvious that something had happened to the Falmer, though not a common adversary in his line of work. This being the first time anyone had ever received a commission for a Falmer never mind two. During his barbarian days he had a few violent encounters with Falmer.

    Never with truly positive results, that’s the trouble with Falmer; yes they’re blind they seem to have reverted to the level of beasts almost. They even wear the bodies of Chaurus an insect like creatures as armour, without craft or apparent civilization they appear without any abilities that would warrant caution. You almost forget by their pathetic nature now that they were once proud Snow Elves almost the equal of those damn arrogant High Elves.

    Though the only way that Artur had ever found the High Elves to be superior to Nords was in their natural talent at magic. Move at one fast enough with a Battle Axe and they were in as much trouble as any other race on Tamriel.

    Well as it turned out on his first ever encounter with the Falmer he hadn’t given them due consideration. He’d made too much noise and then he’d not watched his exit path, when the Falmer swarmed and started throwing about lightning and Ice Spikes he was overwhelmed. The party he was in were almost slaughtered; all the academics were at any rate.

    He and one other adventurer made it out, barely alive, out of a guard party of ten men all hardened warriors. It was luck that saved their lives, one of the adventurers let off a Fireball scroll that caught some spilled lamp oil and set the whole section of the Dwarven ruin off, the two of them had been ahead of the blast wave.

    That was over a decade ago, he was now a more prepared warrior assassin, trained by the best, and battle hardened through many struggles and desperate assassination attempts.

    So maybe a little arrogance was to be expected.

    At first travelling deeper into Irkngthand he thought that the changes he had seen were merely the possible changes likely through a change in location. It seemed that the Falmer were nowhere to be found. Falmer dwellings, weird hut like things made out of the remains of Chaurus parts, were becoming more and more prevalent in the ruin. Yet there was no sign of Falmer anywhere, no scavenging groups no sign of activity anywhere, dwellings stripped bare of all possessions empty shells and Chaurus pens. All started to hint at something strange having happened in the Falmer hives.

    As he pierced further into the ruin entering what appeared to be a large Falmer dwelling, he noticed something he had never seen before a statue made of what looked like scraps of Dwarven Metal and slivers of Gold. For the first time in Artur’s experience it appeared that the Falmer had made something out of metal. These items were definitely forged and smithed to a high quality, with all natural light in the area funnelled towards the entwined figures.

    At least twenty feet tall these were not the Falmer as he had last encountered them, these figures were elegant upright; in short they were Elves female Elves at that very female and very pregnant.

    Yet sticking to the dark recesses of the ruins still there were no sign of any Falmer, all the dwellings in this area also were abandoned and stripped bare of anything but the basic structure.

    Making his way slowly in the shadows he approached another door, Deadric battle axe in hand, he slowly pressed the edge of the door. It wasn’t locked and started to slide open a fraction.

    As soon as he had, noise, overwhelming pushed over him, the sound of hundreds if not thousands of bodies moving. Language, complex and incomprehensible was rising all around him surrounding him and washing out all other noise. Suddenly and without warning he felt claustrophobic as if he could feel the press of bodies around him pushing at him sucking the air out of him, he was warm almost boiling in his armour. He slid the door shut and staggered back, still the noise remained, and the press on his mind was there, the heat was there.

    Then the Ebony mail his armour gift from the Deadric lord Boethiah went dark, poison was being emitted, ready to poison an attacker who got to close. Turning around he couldn’t see anyone, yet the Ebony Mail was never wrong he was being attacked, where was it coming from?

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    He stood there in the darkness flesh still sore inside the armour; thankfully the Ebony mail had yet to reactivate as he made his way around the edge of the open cavern. Slowly stalking his way back through the network of caves he ended up in during his escape of the Falmer. He still had about 500 metres worth of cave way passages before he returned to the Dwarven ruin.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Training forced his body into the shadows, still he felt surrounded he couldn’t get his mind calm. Years of Dark Brotherhood practice was being stripped away in the torrent of attack, yet still he couldn’t identify one single attacker. He lost his footing in the dark and fell to the ground his battle axe slipping from his grasp. Inside the armour he was shaking and sweating the noise and heat pressing on his mind, his eyes couldn’t find a single Falmer however he was convinced he was being swarmed and attacked, every sense but his eyes told him so.

    Scrambling for his battle axe he grasped it with both hands, struggling to his feet fighting for breath his eyes started to focus left of the door. Finally from his angle scrambling to his feet from the floor he spotted it, why couldn’t he have noticed it before, of course it was hidden, behind a partially covered stone structure, the unmistakable glint of a soul gem. Swallowing some bile he rushed to his feet and in a long arc he brought his battle axe down on the stone structure smashing it asunder he knocked the soul gem out of the device. In this one motion he felt instantly relieved, the heat pressure and now he realised; fear had left him.

    Examining the structure of the device it appeared to be like other Soul gem traps throughout many Dwarven ruins, yet it wasn’t quite as refined as the normal kind. It appeared to involve a number of Soul gem devices cobbled together bound with Dwarven and Falmer inscriptions blended together. Though Artur couldn’t figure out the exact workings of this mongrel magical trap, if he was to make a guess he would assume that it was some sort of fear trap. Designed to drive its target mad with fear and make him unable to reason come an eventual confrontation.

    ‘It almost completed its purpose on me, something is definitely not quite right here’ Falmer don’t lay traps of this sophistication. ‘What have I stumbled into, what would the night mother be guiding me into this time; this is more than just an ordinary commission, what is required of me?’ Artur mused as he regained his composure.

    Still the Black Sacrament had brought him to Winterhold to meet the commissioner of this assassination and that Elf Enthir had directed him to his assassination targets. It seemed simple, apart from the targets being two Falmer Princesses, something that had never been heard of before; the rest all seemed to be the standard fare. Yet Artur couldn’t shake the feeling he was walking into events far beyond the normal, there was also the warning of The Night Mother, how the Black Sacrament could result in the destruction of the Dark Brotherhood was beyond Artur’s reasoning.

    This wasn’t the first time he had felt out of his depth, he remembered how he had first felt as a Barbarian Sell sword hearing an ethereal voice proclaiming him the Listener. Still he doubted the wisdom to select himself out of all possibilities as the listener, he had never really the deep intellectual thought he believed required to be a leader. He did the job in front of him; this normally involved hitting something big, very hard with something pretty sharp till it stopped moving. At this he was talented, that he knew, so he had become the first assassin to use a two handed battle axe in the majority of commissions.

    So with this self knowledge he approached the door feeling the comforting weight of his Deadric Battle axe in his hand. He stared at the door and braced his body and mind for whatever happened next; “When in doubt, do what comes best” with that last thought he ran at the door.

    Shoulder first he smashed through the large Dwarven door, into a startlingly bright room. Compared to the previous passages this room was lit like a bright summer’s day. Spotting four Falmer reacting to his presence he kept the velocity of his charge up. Leaping in a bound off of the ledge of the cavern, bringing the Battle axe down on the first Falmer, the velocity of the charge pushing the blade easily through Elvin flesh, he cleaved the Falmer into two halves. The Falmer beside him was still turning to face him arrow drawn in bow, stepping to the side he swung the battle axe round in a quick horizontal arc that decapitated the Falmer just as it released the arrow which passed Artur’s mask harmlessly clattering off of the cavern wall.

    Getting into the stride of battle, doubts falling from his mind Artur quickly turned his attention towards the next two Falmer. Gripping his battle axe in one hand he reached to his side and pulled a dagger from his hip, flinging it in an arc that forced it into the shoulder of the further away Falmer.

    Having removed the possibility of a ranged arrow attack he charged the nearer Falmer guard. The Falmer swung its left handed axe at Artur missing his face by inches then swung its right one at Artur the Blow glanced off his Ebony Mail though the blow hadn’t cut flesh it had badly bruised the flesh under the armour. Kicking out with his foot he caught the Falmer on his knee, the last blow was harder than he expected from a Falmer. He couldn’t take much more damage like that, with his battle axe he jabbed at the Falmer catching it in the face; he followed this with a brutal swing that decapitated the Falmer.

    Grabbing the lopped off head and tossed it at the other Falmer who had just wrenched his dagger from its shoulder, it jumped back losing its balance as Artur charged and with a swinging lunge sunk the battle axe into the Falmer's chest. Leaving his weight on the blade in the Falmer's chest he watched the last breaths leave the Falmer, before catching his own breath.

    “Send my regards to Sithis” stated Artur, he glanced round the cavern. Before getting a chance to get a decent sizing up of the space surrounded him. The doors at the other side of the hall opened, four Falmer in full armour carrying staffs walked through flanking one other figure. The staffs carried by the Falmer were spluttering fire sparks, while the fifth figure walked upright in comparison, she was a pregnant fully form Snow Elf wearing what was unmistakably a crown of golden thread, Artur couldn’t believe his luck. Slinking to the shadows he replaced the battle axe and pulled his bow out and readied himself.

    Placing the arrow onto the string and feeling the tension rise in the bow as he pulled the arrow back he sighted his shot. The Falmer hadn’t yet spotted him but they had spotted the dead corpses of their fallen brethren. They switched formation pushing the pregnant female back, yet still there was enough of a gap to make the shot. Sighting down the arrow and compensating for the angle Artur released the arrow. It rose into the air and then reaching the top of its flight it started to dive towards its target. Without apparent movement, the pregnant figure snatched the Arrow from the air.

    Smiling she raised it to her lips and tasted the tip “Poisoned” she spat the word out as if she was spitting out poison itself, when she spoke Artur understood her, from this distance though not loud her words were crystal clear. Breaking the arrow she dropped it to the ground, and then she cast her vision to Artur’s position smiling cruelly, her gaze locked with his she uttered “Kill the Nord Listener”.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    He can still remember the look on her face; cold dispassionate logical, without any apparent trace of true malice or emotion. The difference between the pregnant female and the other Falmer surrounding her was amazing, the Falmer in general were twisted creatures. Bodies bent over from living under the brutal ministrations of their now vanished Dwarven masters, their faces ripped and shredded from the poisons that blinded them so long ago. The only trace of their once proud heritage as Snow Elves was their white alabaster skin that was the precursor to them being called Snow Elves. So twisted were their bodies that it was almost impossible to tell the genders of individual Falmer apart.

    This pregnant female though she stood upright at around seven feet tall, wide eyed with a pale grey iris with a navy blue pupil spotted in each of them. Even pregnant she had a slender figure long legged with narrow shoulders and full breasts. Golden cloth sheets barely covered her alabaster skin; her long arms tattooed with inter locking figure eights. The hair flowed free and unrestrained to the ground behind her, everything about her spoke of the elegance and fullness of feminine beauty. Until you looked into those cold stone like eyes, assessing and balancing you as if you were some sort of mechanical device that required quiet contemplation before being dealt with.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    The Falmer on either side raised their staffs and pointing them in the direction that the Falmer Princess indicated instantly released a volley of fireballs in Artur’s direction. Artur had but seconds to react, jumping forward he turned into a roll pulled another arrow from the quiver, bracing as he hit the ground he notched the arrow sighted and released the arrow up at a high angle, so it entered up through the jaw line of one of the Falmer guards, the tip exited the guards head killing him instantly.

    The guard fell off the ledge as the fireballs hit the wall behind him exploding and shattering the masonry free, bricks and mortar fell around Artur. He could feel the burst of the flames passing over him as the blast knocked him back off of his feet as he had tried to reposition for another shot. Ringing filled his head; he scrambled back to his feet placing his bow away and reached for the battle axe. Shaking the disorientated sensation loose he stole a glance back up to the ledge where the Falmer were located. The Princess was gone, replaced by an additional four Falmer guards, two armed with dual axes and the other two archers.

    The element of surprise lost it was time to beat a hasty retreat; he was out numbered and out powered by the squad of Falmer he was now facing. He turned to escape and was instantly blown across the room by three expertly aimed fireballs; burnt and shaken he clambered to his feet.

    An arrow scrapped across his armour, motivating him to move faster, he could hear the Falmer starting to move down the steps to finish him off. Affixing the battle axe into its place, he then reached into his side pouch as he stumbled forward. Never having the confidence or faith in magic, meant by the time he realised its usefulness it was too late for him to learn the necessary mental tricks required to repeatedly summon a spell from memory. In his entire life he had only managed to fully memorize and utilize one spell; healing.

    Clambering up the stairs his armour still burning the fire resistance enchantments he had installed long ago were doing their work. Although still causing him damage he was still healthy enough to keep moving, pulling the scrolls from their pouch he activated the enchantments connected to the seals and merged them. Feeling the dual power course through his form, he activated the dual Firestorm scrolls, as the blast erupted around him he saw the approaching Falmer consumed and incinerated by the expanding cloud of fire, he made for the door exit, when he felt a second blast wave go off.

    Blown back through the door it knocked him into the far wall with such force he felt himself start to black out. He knocked his head against the wall as he slipped into a berserker rage, bringing himself round by slamming against the wall. Red rage pushing him beyond normal levels of stamina, the Firestorm raged around him tearing at his fire resistance enchantments. Deranged one Falmer approached him across the hall the dual axes welded to its hands, Artur couldn’t hear it scream but its face was blistered and contorted in rage filled agony, that matched his own thoughts beyond primal action he reached out to the Falmer tearing one of the axes and whole arm from its shoulder blade and brought the blade down, putting the creature out of its misery.

    Screaming in his head he turned in pain and charged into the wall the flames starting to finally peel into his flesh. Unbelievably he passed through the wall as it buckled under the force of his charge. He passed through the wall and fell as a flaming ball of fire rage and pain into a pool of water below him. His last real sentient thought for a while was to pull himself from the pool and stumbling down deeper into the cave system while he activated his healing spell.


    To Part Six
     
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  8. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 6: To meet the Jarl of Riften
    The party of Thieves and Companions were deep within the Dwarven ruin of Irkngthand. Kathryn, standing back from the advance line smiled, so far the progress was smooth, there had yet to be evidence active Falmer around. Still the deeper they got into the ruin the more likely that it would end in violence. Kathryn was convinced from everything she had heard about the Falmer, there was no other way of communication between them and the surface races bar combat, this suited her fine for this expedition she had brought her best melee fighters.

    As the three thieves in black light armour had previously been through this ruin they were taking point; leading the group deeper into the expedition, stopping at interim points to deactivate traps as required. They motioned for the group to stop; Kathryn moved them into a staggered defensive position while Brynjolf, Karliah and Josin disappeared in to the distance.

    As the time that they were gone increased Kathryn reminded herself how she first got to meet the Thieves Guild in action as a way to control her impulsive nature.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    In the coach the four of them had an uneventful journey from Whiterun to Riften, just four individuals taking the carriage for conveniences sake.

    Josin had to smile to himself; the three companions were sitting rather uncomfortably in the robes of green and brown. It had been the Deadra’s own work convincing a trio of battle hardened Nords to remove their armour and secrete their weapons into a movable chest. So they could enter Riften without arousing any suspicion, he had finally managed it, yet as the Companions got closer to the city of their quarry they looked more and more to need the comforts of their own armaments.

    The carriage pulled up to Riften stables as they jumped out a young male ran up to greet them. “Shadr, how are you?” Josin greeted the young man warmly. He was pleased to be so close to his adopted home city after the trial of the past couple of days.

    “Josin I’m pleased to see you back. How did your trip to Whiterun go, get what you need?” Shadr was stealing a few minutes from his busy day to rest and talk, Josin liked to indulge the young man.

    “I got what I needed, though not what I wanted. It works like that, here” Josin reached into his tunic and pulled out a bottle of Alto wine “For that lady you have been pining for, good luck on that”.

    Shadr pocketing the wine thanked Josin and waved a good bye. The group turned to head into the city Vilkas and Josin carrying the movable chest between them while Aela and Kathryn walked onwards.

    Passing through the gates, Josin had to give the guards a nod so they wouldn’t try their latest taxation scheme on Aela or Kathryn and land themselves in a world of pain. Thankfully he knew the guards would think he was just sparing his friends from losing a few Septim.

    Walking along the tightly packed street ways of Riften Josin directed them to turn into the left heading towards the temple. They then turned left again; Josin opened the gate, beckoned them through the doorway into the house and closed the door behind them.

    “Welcome to your home away from home Companions, Riftweald Manor” The Companions looked around the desolate space that Josin had introduced them too.

    “You live here?” Aela looked with obvious condemnation at the interior of the building, as she found a chair to lounge on “It would be more comfortable to go sleep on a dirt track”.

    “Which I’ve known you to do, Aela” Vilkas managed to find a chair and dragged it across before dropping onto it beside her “Though she makes a fair point, if this is your home you need a change of job, thieving isn’t doing it for you”.

    Josin smiled at this “This isn’t my home, just something I acquired off of the previous Thieves Guild leader. I’ll take you to my home later, however for the duration of our stay in Riften this will be your base of operations. When I show you my home, we can bring some stuff back to here that will make it more tolerable”.

    Leaving the chest in the room, Josin guided the Companions further into the building, down through the floors till they reached the basement. Josin pulled a lever to the side and a secret entrance opened up leading into an underground tunnel system.

    “You’re not just a thief are you?” Kathryn queried.

    “Oh no I’m a thief all right. The thief, no that’s not it thief is better, in a long line of thieves. Watch your step, walk where I walk. Plenty of traps about for those not liked by me and my associates” The Companions immediately started to hug the walls that Josin hugged, stepping on the stones that he stepped on. Josin smiled, happy in the knowledge that only half the moves he was putting the Companions through were strictly necessary.

    As they moved deeper into the tunnel system Josin started to point out some of the finer points of the system and how it leads throughout Riften proper. Kathryn was strangely quiet at this time, Josin pretended not to notice however when they passed through an area with caged archways Kathryn stopped shoulders sagging.

    Aela and Vilkas walked on Josin let them go on ahead and explore the sections around this area unaided. Since the initial resurgence of the Guild they had used the build up of resources to clear and re-sort this area so that it completely matched their needs. Opposed to the dangerous and deadly previous inhabitants, these new clients though some where outright criminal, they were not the mentally disturbed killers that previously lived in the Ratways. The Companions though not vulnerable were at least safe from having to deal with violent psychopaths trying to consume their very flesh.

    Leaving them to their wanderings he returned to the Harbinger, she was staring up to an open and disused room “Kathryn is something troubling you?” Josin enquired.

    “Damned Thalmor, like Skeevers the way they crawl out of every corner when you least expect them. He spent half a lifetime avoiding them; we avoided and defeated them in these very warrens. He helped me understand my path in this life at my lowest ebb”. She turned to him “I’m not accustomed to speaking frankly, yet if I’m right we are of equal standing in our fields, am I not?”

    Josin smiled “Indeed, I am the head of the Thieves Guild”.

    “Well I fought in the Civil War; this was before I knew what was to come. There was another that fought with me and though we both were savage, he was unrestrained. His savagery was brutal beyond belief even for war times he was without mercy in his violence. I was younger, skilled as a warrior yet not touched with the wisdom age gives to ferocity. His influence fed a beast in me; it is so long since the brutality of the war that I wish I had just gone to Whiterun. I would have met the Companions; I would have been schooled properly to use the beast without becoming one” at that she laughed “Then again considering even the Companions have their demons”.

    Josin looked puzzled, Kathryn just shook her head, smiling she uttered “Another time”.

    “Well after the war ended and the Skyrim contingents of troops were disbanded honourably, I was lost, war does that it makes you into a fighter a killer, you get good at it, and you look for it. Then just when you are at the peak of your abilities, it ends. Oh how I would have longed to find the Companions in those dark days. I found Mercenary work. Soon I was in demand, the upper echelons of society hunted for me for whatever service they needed. One day in the middle of a dark dungeon, my life found me in an ancient Nordic burial wall. It was shortly after that I found the Blades, Delphine and then Esbern. The purpose they gave me was what saved me from becoming another wandering ghost, savage and doomed to die at the end of a blade feared and hated” Kathryn taking a breath in and closed her eyes. “We saved our world the three of us, Delphine took a walking killing machine and crafted a warrior, and she gave me nobility where all there was, was rage. Esbern taught me to think to reason to analyze; he gave me an understanding of the world and the heritage that surrounded me. It was when they had completed their formation and rebirth of me that it came to fruition, the world eater was finally vanquished two years ago. Six years we struggled to turn the tide, then finally it was done another war ended, two wars I had fought within eight years. I was almost lost again, I tried to focus it into helping them rebuild the Blades but I was restless lost. Delphine could sense it, she sent me to Whiterun, told me of the Companions, I was expecting to find a group of strong warriors, which I did, yet they had been weakened, joining in their struggle to find strength finally healed the wounds created so long ago in that Civil War. Damned Ulfric, I’m glad I was there to see him lose and his life ended. Becoming Harbinger gave me the peace to use my pain to bring solace and guidance to the warriors that will follow on from me, and that healed me”.

    Josin went to speak yet Kathryn silenced him “Not yet Josin there is one thing you should know, this is where Esbern was rescued from all those years ago. I owed the Blades so much, yet I let them send me away. They weren’t at full strength; the Thalmor arrived and butchered them all. The manpower levied against a group of fifteen warriors and one old clerk and amateur mage was inhuman. They are inhuman; hell I don’t think they are even Elvin anymore. They try to deny us Talos, yet they seek to make themselves through their actions into walking Gods. They slaughtered my friends; I’ll never kill enough of them”.

    Josin remained silent for a period “How do you not hate all Elvin kind? I saw you in the hall the night I tried to make off with Wuuthrad. You were possessed, I was sure I was dead at your hands”.

    “There was a time you would have been dead, yet the Companions have taught me a form of mercy, fight to defeat an enemy, yet only kill if it is the only option. I hate the Thalmor, you aren’t Thalmor, and it did take me time to learn the distinction. As well I recognised something inside of you, something I haven’t seen since Esbern, a peace, a depth that seems to understand its place in the world. That shouldn’t be killed it should be nourished and respected” at that Kathryn, leaned over and softly kissed Josin on the cheek, leaving her lips there just a second longer than required.

    Pulling back she said “Right take me to this Cistern of yours, show me your guild and if we are lucky we will get there before my Companions have trashed the place” She flashed a smile and ran off into the shadows, leaving Josin to ponder that kiss before following her.

    “Hello lass, long time, are these with you?” Brynjolf motioned to the restrained bodies of Vilkas and Aela. Dirge and Delvin had Vilkas barely restrained on his knees while Vex stood over him an arrow primed at his head, meanwhile Aela was locked down by Rune and Vanryth the blacksmith while Sapphire shadowed Aela with the bow.

    Both Companions who were unarmed were doing their best to remain in check, yet Vilkas was obviously struggling with the situation worse than Aela. Standing still she appeared for all intents and purposes calm yet ready to strike. Vilkas kept repeatedly struggling with the physical restraint of the two thief guild members.

    Laughing under her breath Kathryn spoke “Companions hold, we are amongst friends. “Besides it appears Josin runs a tighter ship than is immediately apparent. Thanks for checking” She smiled to Josin “Your team appear to hold themselves well”.

    “You know Brynjolf, how?” Josin queried Kathryn, to Brynjolf himself he stated “Let the Companions go, they have the freedom of the Cistern and the Flagon. No access to the other areas though. Get some food with our new friends I’ll need you back with Vex in twenty minutes. We have a new job to plan”.

    “It was searching for Esbern; Brynjolf helped me track his location down. He was spot on with the location; I did have to trade to get the information. Which to be honest it’s as much as what you would expect from the Thieves Guilds main lieutenant. He was to his word that much I can say for him” Kathryn walked over to the desk at the edge of the cistern and propped herself on the edge of the desk “Nice trinkets you’ve collected here”.

    “Thanks” Josin sat at the chair and from one of the desk drawers he pulled out a map of the walled city of Riften, then a more detailed map of Mistveil Keep.

    “So how do we do this then, can you get us to Maven without bringing the entirety of the Riften guard down on us?” Kathryn stood as she spoke to face Josin.

    “Oh I’m sure there is something that can be done, let’s wait till Brynjolf gets back with your Companions and I’ll lay out what comes next”


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    The minutes passed blending into hours, Kathryn was about to select a small force to track and collect the three, when they reappeared. They were unarmed and flanked by two Falmer on either side of them, behind this procession a dark figure in heavy armour moved. Something about the way he walked seemed familiar, yet hard to place in the context. Without waiting she immediately motioned Vilkas and Aela to flanking positions on the Thalmor. Pulling out Wuuthrad, she started to advance, thieves’ guild archers drawing a bead on all the Falmer and the unknown figure.

    Josin noticed the action and lifted his hands palms out front “Stop! Hold yourselves, we aren’t under attack”.

    Though weapons were not replaced into the sheaths the expeditionary force held their formation. A standoff had formed, not the first time that this had happened when the Companions and Thieves Guilds have joined forces. Watching the field of combat, she thought of the first time they faced the field of battle together.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    “We aren’t even getting paid!” An exasperated Vex jumped up from her chair “We are to smuggle three loud angry clumsy warriors into Mistveil Keep, assisting them to assassinate a Jarl that has honestly been good for the Guild over the years”.

    Brynjolf countered with “Mutually beneficial relationship. If what we’ve been told is true there is every chance maven has benefited a lot more from the relationship than we have”.

    “Thank you Brynjolf, Vex please sit” Josin motioned to the chair “Good, now Vex you aren’t getting paid, no one is getting paid. Information has come to light that Maven is an agent of the Thalmor. It is in the Guilds interest to assist the Companions to remove her from the picture as Jarl. You all have experienced the Thalmor; you have seen their arrogance and attitude in action plenty of times. If they are using Maven considering the influence she has garnered throughout the Empire it must be as a front. Not only will her influence mean people in high places tell her any number of official reports to garner her favours. This information would flow back to the Thalmor, for the past few years she has been a Jarl, that means now she is not only a source of information. She can also be used to influence Imperial processes or even the cohesion of Skyrim itself. We know how heavy handed, the Empire and Thalmor were in the Rift hold after Maven came to power, within months there wasn’t a worshipper of Talos left. The Stormcloaks were sent into hiding after the Civil war ended, yet once the Rift wide purge of Talos happened they have had resurgence and started a guerrilla campaign against Imperial movements. This has forced the changing of the Imperial troop strength throughout all of the Empires regions due to the need to garrison Skyrim more heavily. The added bonus being that without Ulfric to lead them, the Stormcloaks are now a more effective force. No one leader holds them; they fight for a cause in a thousand different directions with a thousand different heads. With Maven to influence power in the Rift hold and if she has made a play for the position of High King, now that a vote amongst the Jarls is finally going ahead after years of waiting. She could without being suspected till it is too late tear the Empire apart. Then the Thalmor pour into Skyrim and the rest of the Empire falls, guess what the Thalmor will do to organisations like ours, anarchic and deviant we will be referred to, then we will be the next to be purged. Make no mistake the Empire can be a thorn in our side, yet them we know, we can anticipate. The Thalmor will scour the very soil to rock till they are confident no force can oppose them. From what we understand the Penitus Oculatus cannot intervene, they have been sitting on this knowledge for over a year now unable to act. As soon as they move on Maven, the Thalmor become aware that their latest message delivery system has been cracked. They change it then the Penitus Oculatus has to spend another decade working on cracking the new system. Maven isn’t the prize that they are willing to sacrifice the message intercept for. However if a group of over active combat happy warriors are offended by Maven’s latest plot to steal an item of theirs to curry favour with the Empire and then take matters into their own hands, well no one will be upset by this” Pulling the maps back to the centre of the table, Josin placed markers on the Mistveil Keep.

    “Now that I’ve covered the why, for anyone who wasn’t sure of the stakes it is pretty clear why we are doing this. If we can continue without interruption, let’s take a look at the how?” At this all the individuals leaned over the map and a plan started to emerge.

    Inside of Mistveil keep the night patrols worked through their clockwork like staggered processions. Two guards together were steadily moving down a narrow corridor within the stone keep. Their voices bouncing off the walls and echoing into the darker shadows, one would have to assume quiet vigil was not the calling card of the Riften guards.

    “So who stole your sweet roll then, Yoric?” Standing in the gloom the Riften guard looked over to his partner.

    “Piss off; all I asked is if your missus had made more than one, if so could I have it?” The other guard raised his voice back irritated by this treatment.

    “I understand Yoric, she did and of course my friend you may have my spare sweet roll. But again I must ask who stole your sweet roll? It is a serious crime and as guards, we especially must always be vigilant against the tide of villainy waiting to sweep us all to Oblivion. You understand don’t you Rodic?” Grinning in the gloom the other guard waved the spare sweet roll under his partner’s nose.

    “You’ll have to stop treating me like a rookie eventually, it has been three years”. Yoric sulked.

    “If you note, in my education of you, young charge of mine, I haven’t berated you or mocked you as rookie for over a year now. My abuse of you as had to increase with your level of experience. So I ask again, what was the description of the child that stole your sweet roll.” He managed to maintain the innocent face of one who was only concerned with the welfare of a colleague.

    “Just give me it to me please” Yoric exasperated.

    “Oh he is” a female voice from the shadows interjected.

    Rodic immediately drawing his sword started to say “Who is -” before being cut off by a cloth placed over his face at the same time as his young charge. The cloth dampened in a strong vaporous mixture would knock out both guards for over an hour.

    “Welcome to Mistveil Keep, now we need to move quietly, Vex will lay out the path for us and we can mop up the guards in stages”. Josin looked to the tunnel the Companions were clambering out of, built originally as an escape route for the days when sieges were common place occurrences then forgotten about later on in time. The Thieves Guild had found the escape passage during their progression throughout the Ratways securing their territory. Refitting it for the reverse purpose of entering the Keep unseen had been a practical consideration a couple of years ago, merely to keep an eye on their unofficial patron for a period. When nothing suspect appeared the tunnel had been left unused but maintained, now in hindsight Josin wondered how the Thieves Guild could have missed that Maven was a Thalmor agent.

    “No a message has to be sent. Take us to the entrance ways into and out of this keep, we will block them then in one sweep we will deal with all within this keep fool hardy enough to stand against the Companions” Josin went to interject “No friend, this is the way of it. They attempted to desecrate us, now they will pay for that. I don’t want to kill guards, yet a message is a message and it must be written large if it is to be understood by all”. Kathryn looked Josin in the eyes. With a curt nod he acknowledged her superiority now that they were in the keep.

    “At least let Vex and Brynjolf take point till the keep is secured” Josin reasoned.

    “Fine, okay we all know our parts now let’s go” At Kathryn’s command the Companions drew their weapons as one entity. They progressed as constantly a few yards behind the Thieves. One by one the gates were blocked; any guards located during this period were subdued and tied up together in one of the antechambers. Once satisfied all exits were blocked Josin gave Kathryn the nod.

    They took position within the Throne room of the keep, perched on tables and chairs they waited. Kathryn herself sat on the Throne, sprawled across it she leaned Wuuthrad across her body and through the stained glass window they all watched the sun slowly rise.

    At dawn time, the guard that had slept through the night walked into the throne room, they noticed the gathering of Companions and Thieves, and they pulled their weapons out and got ready to advance on the intruders.

    “Hold” Maul walked into the throne room, behind the guards “If I am not mistaken, the Thieves guild and the Companions seem to think they have some right of access to this keep”. He brandished his weapons. The guards formed flanks on his position, focusing on lines of sight.

    Kathryn looking idly around and realised she couldn’t spot Josin or Brynolf any longer amongst her gathered allies. The rest of the Thieves Guild members were visible they had taken defensive positions, all bows drawn and pointing to the guards.

    Maul smiling spoke “Harbinger, while you and your Companions are the stuff of legend, you still have to make an appointment to meet with the Jarl. If you could explain your actions then we can all get out of this without your deaths on our hands. You should really have considered your choice of Mercenaries, pickpockets and safe breakers are not the stuff of combat”.

    Kathryn had yet to move from the Throne, still reclining languidly “Could you get Maven we need to chat, i’ll say this only once. Go back to your rooms and sit tight no matter what do not leave them and no harm will come to you. Your fellow guards have been secured, there is only you twelve men against three Companions, I would take my offer before it expires”.

    “While this standoff is fun, it is no longer an option; guards advance and arrest all the intruders try not to kill them all if you can”. At that Maul and the guards charged Aela and Vilkas who had been between him and the throne. A guard reached Aela who with one quick powerful bash of her shield knocked the guard clean out, then stepping round his falling body she lashed forward with a mace. It smashed into the side of a different guard helmet throwing him into the guard beside him. She stepped back and let Vilkas move in, the two guards moved in again this time approaching Vilkas.

    While this was happening, two arrows flew from the gloom and simultaneously pierce Maul one for each shoulder. Buried half way into his shoulders maul dropped both weapons and fell to his knees. Kathryn walked up to him and with her foot kicked him hard in the head; he fell unconscious from the blow. Two more arrows flew from the darkness and piercing the heads of a guard each they fell to the ground dead. Without missing a step Kathryn kept walking.

    Vilkas had kicked one of the two guards in the knee, breaking the joint open and using his body had knocked the guard behind himself. Unsheathing his great sword he lunged it forward unblock able the sword passed through the torso of the other guard. The guard that Aela had knocked out tried to stand up and was rewarded for his effort with an arrow from Vex piercing his hand and impaling it to the ground, he yelled out and another flew from Vex’s direction impaling the other hand to the ground. Vilkas brought his boot down hard on the guards’ helmet knocking him out again.

    The six guards had remained at the entrance to the hallway leading to the residences rooms. With weapons drawn they stared out at the three Companions who were standing there Kathryn and Vilkas at the fore both with two handed weapons drawn standing behind and between them Aela had drawn an arrow on her bow and was pointing it at one of the guards. Vex and Delvin were also approaching Vex had her bow drawn and filled with an arrow, while Delvin was bracing with two swords, dual wielded.

    Smiling Delvin pointed a sword at a guard “You, I think you shall be my first, hope you’re ready child. All your women loved and tears cried, wait are you crying now?”

    “Now now, Delvin, what did I tell you about picking on kids? It isn’t nice and it isn’t clever”. The guard noticed the voice was coming from behind him; he went to turn his head and then noticed the sword edge across his throat as did the other five guards. One turned and was greeted by the tip of an arrow barely an inch from his eye. Brynjolf smiled at Josin, his sword at the guard’s throat while Josin’s face remained blank arrow drawn, Brynjolf spoke “So the good Harbinger made you lads and lasses an offer, I wouldn’t refuse it”.

    “In other words, drop the swords and shields” Josin was still staring at the guard facing his arrow point, his face blank and as impassive as a rock. Then he winked once at the guard facing the arrow and a cruel smile formed on his lips, he parted them to reveal his teeth and opened them a fraction to reveal his tongue that rubbed his teeth and he winked once more.

    The guard shaken dropped his sword and shield then his fellows followed suit. They were guided to the antechamber where the other guards were recovering from being knocked out and were bound to them the door locked behind them.

    As the group returned to the Throne room the first thing they noticed were the guards standing in attack positions. These were the guards that had been incapacitated and killed in the initial conflict. Dead eyes looked out, filled with the black malice of a soul wrenched from the void. Maul still bound and pinned with the arrows through his shoulders stared at the Companions and thieves in panic, sweat drenching him. Then his head flung back, a snap echoed the room and his eyes filled with the dead black touch of the void, staggering to its feet the corpse of Maul, snapped the arrows as he forced his arms to pick up the dropped weapons.

    Stepping into the throne room, Jarl Maven stared at the gathered throng of Companions and Thieves smiling she was covered by a blue shimmering light flickering across her form. Her hands moved in a complicated arches and flames spouted from the stone floor forming flesh and skeletal structures. A body combusted and rose from the floor floating at about a foot above the floor, burning the Flame Atronachs flanked Maven.

    Almost absent minded Maven spoke “I always found the tales of the Wolf Queen to be quite inspirational, don’t you agree. You know you didn’t have to bring Wuuthrad all this way just for me, I had sent Josin all the way out to Whiterun to save you the effort. Since you insisted on coming and saying hello so nicely I felt I should welcome you properly”.


    To Part Seven
     
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  9. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 7: In the searching dark
    Deep within the cave systems that surround the underground Dwarven city of Irkngthand Artur stood gauging the height of his previous fall at the hands of the Falmer and his own Dual Fire Scrolls. He must have plummeted freefall for about fifteen metres before hitting the water caving at the base of this cave, thankfully it was deep enough to allow him to survive. Not a bad height for a plummet but not exactly the worst of falls, at least the track back had allowed him to ruminate on his mistakes when attacking the Falmer, still nothing even the beating he had just received at the hand of few Falmer compared to the absolute mess he had made of one of his first major assassinations.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Stealth, always with the stealth with you lot. Why can’t anything be straight forward?” Astrid leader of the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim scowled heavily as the newly discovered Listener set off on one of his by now trademark rants. “I’m a goddamn barbarian, I’m a sell sword. Give me my coin, let me charge and damn the consequences!” Artur stared at Astrid “This sneaking and scurrying is plain, un-Nordic! Look at me, and don’t you dare mention light armour. I almost died trying that last time, even with healing I was out of action for a week. So no, I will be sticking to my steel plated armour” at that last comment Astrid held her hand up.

    “Yes, Listener, we have heard you’re deeply held” Astrid paused her face conveying the contempt she felt “convictions, now if you could see your way to perhaps, I don’t know bowing to the wisdom of others for at least half a second” Astrid’s voice was becoming more paced and viciously petulant as she paced round Artur. “You may just harness a new skill set, before you repeat the debacle I just heard about at Riften!” Standing behind Artur, she lashed out an unseen sweeping kick that tore Artur off of his feet and landed him on his back.

    “Stealth is more than just being unheard or unseen; it is distraction, manipulation of viewpoints, seduction of ignorance, the predator stalking and the lion of death pouncing unseen to reap its rightful reward!” Placing her foot on his chest she held him gently on the ground, a smile passed her lips. “While only a fool would question your natural talent on the battlefield, almost unstoppable when you build up the momentum, let us always remember the almost. It’s a very important word and one I would like you to try and remember” Astrid released Artur, to the chuckles of the others in the Sanctuary.

    “So what do you suggest?” straining his voice to sound composed Artur worked hard to keep his temper in check. He reached up and Astrid taking his hand in hers helped him to his feet.

    “It is time we worked to blend your positive attributes to techniques that will assist you to prosper in your new family and life” Astrid handed him the Steel battle axe and smiled. “You are unmatched with this weapon, so you will keep using it you can with a quick strike remove an assassination target, if needed you can use it as a melee weapon to get past guards trying to stop you getting to a target. However from here is where things will get difficult for you”. Astrid motioned to the Steel plate armour hanging on the mannequin.

    “That is your life blood in a battle; you use it to deflect blows and cause damage to your opponents, it is not just for protection it is for attack. You still don’t have the skill in heavy armour, yet it is way too late in your own personal training to select a new path. We shall just have to make the path of the warrior work for us and of course our dear Listener.” When Astrid smiled it looked frozen as if she resented the return of a Listener, especially one so uncouth and unversed in the traditions of The Dark Brotherhood. She walked off leaving him in the company of his new family.

    Nazir approached Artur “You have no idea what is in store for you Listener, I mean; we have been over this before the best kill is a clean kill. That most definitely was not what happened in Riften” He saw the dark undertones in Artur’s gaze “Fine, fine, it wasn’t the easiest of commissions for one so new to our craft. Still you messed up big time. Why don’t you tell me yourself where you felt it went wrong, may as well make this another learning experience.”

    Artur smiled at Nazir “Fine, where I think this assignment went wrong” Nazir interrupted “Commission”. Artur scowled “Fine commission, where I think this commission went wrong was at the stage where I should have researched the location of the planned kill. So I had broken into the Penitus Oculatus Outpost and retrieved the timetable, that bonus sounded way too good to pass up. I discovered that Maro’s son was making his way from Windhelm to Riften, so grabbing the nearest horse I could and in one back breaking run I made it to Riften shortly before Gaius Maro would arrive there. As trained I found a shadowy corner within the city near the gate houses to wait for the” looking briefly at Nazir “Commission. He arrived on Middas morning, I had been waiting for three hours for this fool, secreted in the shadows and he saunters into town. Bright as the dawn light, hardly difficult prey, so, well, I pounced, charged out of the shadows and smashed my battle axe into his head and down he went in one”.

    Nazir interjected “On Middas morning, were the guard compliment is always tripled and on alert stand by as that is the time that the deliveries come into Riften, the same deliveries that are almost always stolen by the guild. That is when you pounced! Hah-ha-ha-ha-ha!! Oh by Sithis, Listener I think you are right, research is definitely your problem.” Slapping Artur on the back still chuckling to him Nazir beckoned Artur continue.

    “I suddenly realize I’m in the view of five guards, all drawing weapons and approaching me, I did just strike down an Imperial in full regalia in front of them. I think this would be something even the head of the Thieves Guild would have trouble explaining to them. I bolted for the gate, it was only about ten metres away even in heavy armour an easy stretch for myself. Gaining momentum I go through the guard at the gate without stopping cleaving him across the centre. Getting to the gate something occurs to me, fool that I am I’ve forgotten to leave the note on him” Nazir collapses onto the chair at the long table head in his hands and beyond laughter his face is stony now.

    “So there I am at the gate, guards advancing and I have to dash back to the corpse of Maro, plant the letter on him and then I shout ‘That will teach you to betray us all!’, I am in full agreement with you Nazir not exactly the most fool proof assassination, nor the most covert subterfuge. Before having to fight off two more guards then I make another break for the gates, slam through them and bounding onto my horse in one leap I ride from Riften as fast as possible, returning right here”. Artur sits himself, looking at Gabriella who has just entered the room.

    Gabriella tosses him his fee plus the bonus “You may have done it messily, but you did it as required, for some reason I can’t fathom the Penitus Oculatus have accepted Commander Maro’s son has a traitor and are acting accordingly. For all his faults I feel the Listener may just be fitting in here”.

    Nazir Smiled “Indeed”.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Artur looking around the edge of the pool eventually finds what he is searching for, a small tunnel about a metre and a half up the cliff face with water flowing from it. Stroking the Dwarven metal plate edging to it he reckons that this is part of the piped heating and sewage system that flows behind the walls throughout all Dwarven ruins. If he can follow this system of pipes it gives him every chance to locate the throne room for the Falmer Princesses and in one strike he can remove them both and then easily escape the way he came from.

    It had to be easier than trying to fight his way through an unnaturally organised and powerful Falmer army, which if he was starting to guess right would only be getting more densely populated the closer to the throne room he got. Just thinking of a Falmer army made his brain hurt, yet the other Princess if she was anything like the previous one he had spotted had to be some sort of throwback to Snow Elves.

    Climbing into the pipes he set off deeper into the ruins yet now he was hidden from the view of the Falmer, this would make the progression through the Dwarven ruins much simpler, yet there was a chance he wouldn’t cross the Throne room or if there even was a Throne room. “There has to be” reasoned Artur pushing deeper into the murk “Princesses are royalty and what does royalty like; Gold and Thrones”.

    Satisfied by his reasoning, as he kept going the pipe way angled up and he started climbing. It was still playing on his mind how that Falmer Princess, catching himself ‘Call her what she is; Snow Elf’. Still he thought ‘How did she catch that arrow, she must have some magic maybe a clairvoyance based spell, some sort of mechanism that allows her to gauge events just seconds in advance. There is no other way she could have seen that arrow coming’.

    In the gloom his face darkened even further ‘If they can predict actions, how can I kill one of these, things? There is no way that it is completely full proof, its prediction range would be difficult to gauge as well. However if it is what I suspect is, I bet; well in this case my life, it cannot be that long a range of prediction’. Playing the arrow catch back in his head, the speed of her movement suggested to him a short range field of sensation, there was also energy constraints to consider, to keep such a field active would require constant magicka, even the deepest reserves would run dry if constantly active.

    ‘Now just the matter of overloading her sensory clairvoyance, Cicero would have some interesting ideas for how to fool her. In fact considering Cicero’s sparring techniques there is every chance he is using something similar to her’. Artur smiled in the darkness, if there was a chance he made it out of here alive he would have to challenge the old man, just one last time.

    Up ahead he could suddenly hear a whirring clanking sound it was getting closer and more distinct now. In too tight a space for either his battle axe or bow he reached to his side and slid the sword from the scabbard, it must be one of those Dwarven devices he has heard of. They travel through the pipes compacted into sphere like shapes until they sense an intruder in the open hallways, then they unfold into larger mechanical like structures. “There wouldn’t be enough space in here for that unfolding trick, so I will be facing the sphere”.

    He stopped crawling upwards and waited briefly, till he saw a shimmer of something in the murk, it accompanied the clanking noise. His sword cradled underneath his body he waited until the device was as close to him as he could allow, then thrust forward the sword, completely impaling the sphere, it stopped immediately. The mechanism delayed, the sphere collapsed into its component parts, from the various pieces of sphere Artur spotted and collected a soul gem, though he didn’t have the skill for it himself there were plenty of mages that could be paid to do the necessary work for him.

    Pushing through the wreckage he carried on into the pipe network, eventually levelling off the pipe split into two paths. One carrying on and slowly dropping down, the other split off to the right and started to climb up further, from the angle and his own sense of where he was he figured that it was heading straight to the surface, he picked up a draft of fresh air running through the pipe and heading downwards. That sealed his decision he would be travelling the downward route.

    This pipe kept travelling deeper and deeper for many hours, he was starting to lose track of time. It was only when he was finally convinced that he had made a fatal error that he spotted it. Light up ahead, there was a vent; he made his way towards it as silently has he was able, once beside the vent he peered through the open spaces.

    The vent revealed an open cavern half submerged with water. Rising out of the water was a massive stone figure; it was of a male Snow Elf, surrounding the figure were wooden walkways built to sit just above the surface of the water. The walkway leads away from the Large stone sculpture towards the far end of the water, were there was a stone tunnel, recent in construction surrounded by a large platform, on this platform sat two thrones, both empty currently and a stone tablet in front of them about ten metres long by five metres wide, the lower half of the stone tablet was covered in blood.

    Two Falmer flanked the twin thrones with another two at the stone tunnel entrance and finally two across the way by the sculpture. ‘Six guards in an empty throne room’ thought the Listener ‘So this room was of massive importance, it looks flooded, those walkways and tunnels are not of Dwarven construction, and they must have been put in here more recently by the Falmer themselves’.

    The sculpture bugged him; it wasn’t complete in appearance, apart from the dawning realisation that this compartment must have been flooded recently then drained most likely by the Falmer who constructed a new entrance and the thrones adding other wooden structures. There was something else about this sculpture the eyes of the statue were empty, it was obvious from their appearance now to Artur, that once they would have been filled by some sort of object to represent the eyes.

    Then it hit him, why the sculpture bugged him, he had heard this before with that braggart; Delvin of the Thieves Guild.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Listener, what brings you to our fine establishment?” Artur cringed when he heard Delvin’s loud query, ignoring it he walked on into ‘The Ragged Flagon’, Riften’s underground centre. Crossing the wooden bridge in silence he progressed towards Delvin, it was only has he got closer and the man could make out the state of Artur in the gloom is face dropped from one of amiable joking query to a more serious setting.

    Artur was dressed in his newly acquired Deadric Armours, the Masque of Clavicus Vile adorned his head, wearing the heavy armour Ebony Mail, Strapped to his back was a Deadric Battle axe, all of these items had the chips and knocks suggested by recent battle, the armour itself was encrusted in dried blood. Taking off the Helm Delvin could see the blood had seeped through the Masque and smeared Artur’s face. It appeared to him that The Dark Brotherhood had managed to acquire a Listener that echoed their bloody ethos perfectly.

    Artur sat down by Delvin and stared at him for a few seconds before smiling slowly and humourlessly “Must you always bark your greetings at hard working Nords? Or does your voice not register to your fellows that you feel you must shout so? Has it ever crossed your mind, they are ignoring you.” Delvin angered, shifted in his seat, at which Artur laughed slapped Delvin on the back “Nazir said to pass on his greetings! Relax Delvin, no harm is meant; besides you don’t want to do anything foolish, The Ebony Mail takes such things quite personally” Artur’s smile though more humorous now had a cruel tint to it.

    Delvin recognised the smile, it was one of a man who had experienced true blood lust and still had a taste for more. In no mood to push such a man further Delvin spoke carefully “We heard recently from our newly installed Guild Master that there appears to be a new succession in the works. Word passes fast Listener and the word says some of that blood on your armour is of royal stock, so why come here?”

    “It appears, the word is accurate, in your line of work it pays to keep ears open, so I’m guessing that you actually know why I’m here.” At that point Artur dropped two large bags of coin on the table in front of him, Delvin’s eyes almost popped from their sockets. “We moved, The Night Mother and her family have a new home, it needs decorating. I believe this should cover it, you know how to get things done, and I like that in a person.”

    Delvin looking at coin bags, pulled out some sheaths of paper and started some calculations, the listener relaxed in his seat and waited, he had been informed by Nazir how thorough Delvin was and decided to let the man work.

    Through the doors walked a tall thin male figure covered in unusual black coloured light armour, as he looked at the figure he realised he didn’t make a sound as he moved. Not a sound, it was as if he wasn’t even there a visual hallucination with no sound to back him up. Artur blinked as he realised he was staring. The figure stopped and pulled back the black hood that covered his face, it made little difference to the colouring for the figure was a Dark Elf. Piercing eyes shot back in his direction “You wear that armour well for a Nord, Boethiah must favour you greatly to give it to someone not of her chosen. Wear it with care in here though Listener or you will soon see how the Thieves Guild takes care of intruders”. The Dark Elf sat at the table with Artur and Delvin; extending a hand to Artur he simply stated his name “Josin”.

    Artur reached across the table and took the Dark Elves hand in his own “Artur”, he replied “The Ebony Mail, reacts to threats and attacks as I’m sure you know from your lots lore. Tell me though,” at this he leaned closer and his voice dropped to a whisper “Nightingale, how is nocturnal?” Josin’s face dropped and Artur sat back “All friends now aren’t we.”

    “What happened to the previous lad, your last leader I thought we had some kind of arrangement with him, does that still apply now? What was his name again, began with M, head like a sieve today.” Artur looked at Josin, then the Dark Elves eyes widened a fraction. Delvin smiled slightly as he realised what was going on, these two leaders of uncommon groups were sizing each other up.

    “What, Mercer? Scum, he almost wiped out our Guild to buy himself wealth with the largest Gems in Tamriel ‘The Eyes of the Falmer’ they’re called had to travel through some Dwarven ruin to locate the bastard, as he was plucking them from a massive sculpture. I used his own sword to cut him asunder and have retrieved the Gems as our own keep sakes to remind all in our Guild the price of betrayal, and the glory that come from doing a job well.” Josin looked at Artur “If a Nord can win the Ebony Mail from Boethiah then I believe we can keep an arrangement up with his organisation.”

    “It isn’t an organisation, our previous leader made that mistake and it sent her to Sithis. She tried to protect an organisation with betrayal and died for her foolish mistake. The Dark Brotherhood isn’t an organisation, it isn’t even really a family, though we like to call it that, it is our religion our reason, it is our life and it is our end. The arrangement is thus, if you can ensure none of your Guild members enact the Black Sacrament, I can ensure that you will never have to worry about us interfering with your Guild.” Artur’s face had darkened for the duration of this brief description, it now lightened “Come on Delvin, Josin can’t your man count?”

    Josin was glad to have the tension relieved, it appeared to him that the Dark Brotherhood like his own precious guild had returned to their roots, though in the case of the Brotherhood their roots were a lot more brutal.

    “I was done as soon as I started, I’ve been letting you two deal with whatever politics needs to be done. You want the figures now Artur?” Delvin interrupted obviously offended to have been slighted.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Smiling at the memory, Artur stared through the gaps in the vent once again; Mercer’s corpse must be down there somewhere. So the Falmer have recovered the sculpture of their great fallen hero and have drained the chamber to set up a throne room. Artur decided to wait here hidden in the vent and observe for a while before making any plans on how to complete the commission.

    Time blurred together as did the figures below, their movements tracked and logged, Artur maintained his breathing, occasionally taking food and water supplies and consuming them, his vision remaining fixed always at the panorama below.

    The guards were his first layer of interest; they were almost never static about every twenty minutes the guard changed however the minimum amount of guards within the room never dropped below six. All the guards within the room were heavily armoured armed with a combination of fire staffs, bows and one handed axes carried to hand in case of attacks.

    Whether this was due to his previous abortive attempted assault or not was an unknown. It still meant no matter which way he looked at it he would have to make his assault through superior forces. Speed would be a priority, immediate force striking from the shadows would get him through maybe three guards top.

    As he calculated how to strike the guards down as fast as possible that lead to another problem, the Princesses, one would be tricky two would be almost unpredictable. Yet there was always a way, if something lived it could die, or else the Dread lord wouldn’t call for any of us.

    Then there was the personal royal guard, most likely armed like the ones in the cavern earlier at least four of them. Committing his strike from this vantage point would be impossible; the height above the cavern surface was completely prohibitive to any consideration of entering this cavern from this vantage point.

    From this point he could see water still trickling into the cavern from behind the statue, it must be coming from somewhere if he could find the route the water has taken he could make a path into this cavern then it would be a matter of waiting and killing all that were in this cavern then back out the same way. Frowning he knew that a lot of this plan required to many ‘ifs’ to fall into place, the problem was considering the other alternative is to attempt to singularly take out an entire Falmer army, he had no choice, he had to make this work.

    Collecting his supplies back together he was about to depart in the supposed direction that would lead him to the water route into the cavern when he noticed the doors open another time.

    This time opposed to the usual guard change over Falmer poured into the cavern, till every available surface was crowded with Falmer, the noise was unbearable, for the first time in his experience the Falmer were talking freely amongst them. It felt like earlier when he was under assault by the soul gem fear device, however only in noise apart from that he knew he was fine in his vantage point.

    From the still open doors, the twin Snow Elf Princesses entered the cavern, immediately all the Falmer dropped to silence, hush passed across the crowd and when it died down not one single voice could be heard. Taking his chance Artur studied both his targets as they walked to the thrones and then took position upon them. They were completely identical almost down to the same movements and expressions. The one true major difference is that one was pregnant and the other was not, they sat and viewed the gathered throng of Falmer, then flanked by heavily armed Falmer, children entered young and as children of a young age can be, they were a little lost in this spectacle.

    The guards that flanked them appeared to be taking the greatest care and not rushing the children, when one fell over a guard rushed to it and helped it too its feet. The children patiently watched by their protectors made their way and surrounded the stone tablet, sitting down they were suddenly motionless. These children were all pure bred Snow Elves almost completely evenly divided between male and female.

    It was only as the door closed that the Snow Elf Princesses features softened, alone with the Falmer and what appeared to be their progeny, they relaxed a fraction. The attention of the Falmer throng was entirely on this tableau of Royalty and offspring.

    The pregnant Princess stood up, and in one soft movement disrobed, her skin was milky and pure, Artur could not help admire the form he saw down there, it was then that he saw it, something that he had missed when she was robed earlier. A black handprint below her left breast and one just peaking over the edge of her visible right shoulder, it was almost as if someone had held her and where that persons hands had been their mark was burned onto her skin.

    Artur reeled from this revelation, how had the mark of his family, his faith gotten onto this Snow Elf he had been sent to kill. Were the same marks on the other, as if to answer him she stood and disrobed and yes, though in mirror image positions to her twin there they were two Black Hand marks.

    His head was spinning, he felt disorientated, and he suddenly felt like he was falling, he kept his eyes on the Princesses for fear he were to blink and they would be gone with these strange markings as well.

    His vision was starting to discolour red, as walking into the cavern, between the two Princesses as they in unison were starting to proclaim something unintelligible in their dialect, was the Night Mother, shifting a delusion between two real standing women. In his head he heard her talk.

    “Oh Listener, dear Listener, you will so much want to hear this, I think it will help you, finish what I sent you out here to do”.

    As The Night Mother had spoken his vision shifted inwardly, till he didn’t feel his body, the events transpiring out in the Throne room were shifting further away; the Night Mother was growing, supplementing all of his vision until he was but a mote floating suspended in a void in front of her magnificence.

    “Now let us see what you can learn from this, Listener” As she spoke her worn weathered hand engulfed him the soft putrefying flesh covering him in white afterbirth. It froze him and then in as sudden a moment all this ceased.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    He was bent double snow surrounded him and his sister was but paces from him. She lay in the snow looking at ease and relaxed a world away from the violence that had just erupted around them. ‘Sister’ he thought ‘I have a sister? Of course I do, and we are in danger still’.

    Puzzled why this knowledge of a sister seemed strange to him he stood up his hand moving for the Battleaxe attached to his back, instead all he found was soft cloth and bare skin, hair flowed down his back. Of course it would, long hair was a sign of a young girls higher status in a tribe. ‘Girl?’ he tried to reason that something was wrong, yet as he tried to it made sense, now they had to move, the time that had been bought for them would be naught if they remained here.

    So approaching her sister she looked down at her closely “We must go, now Ur’tag, now is not the time for resting!”

    Her sister looked up at her “Indeed Noh’leen, now is the time for us to locate the rest of our family, wherever they are, I was merely catching my breath before we go”. She got to her feet and stood at exactly the same height as her sister, Noh’leen thought briefly that maybe this was wrong but of course not they would be of equal height.

    The two sisters were about four foot tall, sunken a foot deep in the snow which was still falling on them slowly increasing in strength. Behind them stood a cave entrance, the entrance was blocked now due to a sudden cave in. Just outside the rubble the sisters spotted a knife blade and an Iron helmet lying on the ground. As they approached it they spotted a tall male figure buried under the rocks, blood seeped from his body dying the snow a rich pinkish red tone. The figure dead from severe wounds wore full Iron armour.

    Pulling the figure free from the landslide the girls recovered the armour, too large to wear; they stuffed it into the sack they also found on the man, and anything that could come in useful soon. A dull sword a broken bow and a quiver of arrows and some meagre food supplies were also their reward for about an hour’s work.

    Noh’leen playfully slapped the oversized iron helmet of her sister’s head and passed her the knife blade and the quiver of arrows. Some instinct she couldn’t quite place anymore told her to take the sword, though a normal sized blade in her small form she needed two hands to even attempt to wield it. Yet it felt right, she swung it over her back using leather straps salvaged from the armour that wouldn’t fit either of them.

    Ur’tag used some of the leather straps to secure the helmet to her head so it didn’t shake and slip when she turned her head. She affixed the knife blade to her cloth throw. Then using the last of the leather straps she attempted to repair the bow. “It may be good for one shot maybe two, and then we will need another bow”. She said to her sister as she swung the bow and quiver onto her back.

    Looking at Noh’leen grinning sheepishly Ur’tag said “We look like something out of a tale ‘The attack of the miniature warriors” laughing as she brandished her knife into the air she struck a pose for her sister.

    This made Noh’leen smile, something that she was loathe to do considering their family had been killed, in a chance meeting with a group of bandits, looking for a place to wait out the blizzard. Before an errant blast of magic had started a cave in, their mother had already started hurrying them outside. So when it happened they were knocked out of the cave by the blast the last memory of their mother came from watching her buried by the cave in.

    The sisters stared at each other for a moment, and then Noh’leen reached for her sister “We must go now, we must seek out more family, though we have nothing to fear from this blizzard. We will be vulnerable until we can shelter with those that love us unconditionally” Ur’tag merely nodded her consent for them to leave.

    “Then let us go this way sister, for that is the direction where it gets colder, the warmth of our families love will be there, where it feels like it should be coldest” Noh’leen followed her sisters pointing finger, between them they picked up the sack of provisions and set off in that direction.

    Deep inside Noh’leen, a fraction now silent could only try to be her, and without choice; it listened.

    As the sisters walked the weather calmed as it got colder, this was a blessing for it made it easier for the two young girls to move. With the colder weather the snow had become harder and not as deep, packing into an ice that the girls could walk across.

    Without knowing it they were heading north, deeper into the mountains. They spotted a silhouette in the distance a protruding cylinder shape amongst the various peaks and snow drifts. It loomed out of the horizon, which turned out to be the top of a steep hill down.

    They peered over the top at the stone structure in front of them, it was wrapped in tall stone walls many times their own height and inside of that there was what was a tower of stone rising up at least three times the height of the outside wall.

    In one word Ur’tag voiced both sisters thoughts “Family?”

    “I don’t know, possible” Noh’leen feeling concerned looked at her sister “There is only one way to find out”.

    Together they started to approach the stone building, when they got to the wall they rested the sack beside it and kicked snow over the sack hiding it. Then they slowly and cautiously started to make their way around the outer stone wall of the building.

    Shortly they reached an entrance into which there was an open space covered in dirt and snow, wooden buildings dotted around leaning against the massive stone walls. Across the empty space dead bodies of large men littered the ground, all ripped open by some sort of beast.

    The sisters examined a few of the figures; they noticed they weren’t like the figures that had invaded their home a day ago. They also weren’t family, though they shared the same sort of ears and eyes but they were green with massive teeth spouting from their lower jaw.

    The sisters crossed the open space towards a doorway, pushing it open from inside all they could smell was death emanating from the stone building. Still morbid curiosity and a fascination with the outside world; that they had previously only heard about pushed them through the door.

    They heard a scream come from another room, and the sound of a body falling, frantically they grasped for their purloined weapons. Suddenly a figure burst through the door at least double their height, carrying two swords it screamed as it swung the swords in defiance, roaring a guttural indecipherable curse at an unseen assailant.

    Noh’leen steadied her own sword in both hands and Ur’tag threaded an arrow onto the bow as her father had shown her only a month ago. She felt the bow strain against the damage as she pulled it her arms shaking. The figure swung round and then noticed the two girls in front of it, their white skin shining in the candle light of this murky room. Roaring he swung his sword straight at Noh’leen missing in delirious rage, she lashed out inexpertly and caught him with her blade on the calf. She wrenched the blade free using all her strength and had managed to tear it out in time to block a blow from the other sword the figure held, the blow threw her across the room she landed on a pile of wood her sword inches from grasp.

    Lurching forward blood oozing out of the wound she had inflicted on him, he raised his sword to finish her off. As he went to swing the blade down onto her she heard a scream from her sister as she loosed the arrow, it leapt from the bow and pierced the figures neck. Dropping its sword the figure dropped to his knees grasping at his neck. The arrow had missed his throat, and the figure was trying to pull it out.

    Noh’leen started to scrabble away grabbing her sword as she did, the figure yanked the arrow out of his neck blood spurting out from the wound, grabbing a sword he went to get from to his feet, shouting he went to approach the girls.

    Then he screamed once, his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell forward to the ground. No more sound emanated from him, an arrow protruding from the back of his head explained how this was. Looking past it the girls saw another figure holding a bow looking at them it pulled another arrow from its quiver.

    The girls readied their weapons again, as Ur’tag threaded another arrow into the bow and drew back the bow snapped in her grasp. Panicked she looked at Noh’leen who was dumbfounded, suddenly the fight had drained out of her and she collapsed onto her knees, Ur’tag followed suit.

    The figure in front of them replaced the arrow back in its quiver and swung the bow up behind its back attaching it there for safe keeping. Approaching the two girls it raised its hands so that the palms were open and facing them. The girls shied away from it, as the figure got closer they realised that it was the same size as them, it was a human girl with a short brown bob haircut and in a black robe. The girl pulled out a piece of food from her robe one to each and held it out to the girls. The girls starved from a day’s walking snatched at the food, never taking their eyes off of the figure, they bit into it.

    As the girls ate the figure looked at them more studiously than, a young child should, dark eyes flitting over their skin and features, till she spoke “Well it appears I have found something that shouldn’t exist anymore, two of them at that. Oh dear and it looks like you have helped me out here, well as they say one good deed deserves another. Pleased to meet you, my name is Babette”. She didn’t know that the two girls couldn’t understand her.

    The child figure smiled then returning to the large felled figure she retrieved her arrow and leaning down to the man, she bit into him and started to consume his blood.

    The two girls transfixed in horror watching what was happening, they couldn’t move, they did not know what would happen, yet they knew they were at the strangers’ mercy.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    The Listeners body lay in the Dwarven pipe, while his mind resided elsewhere. From the distance in the pipe a light was approaching his form, carried by a scurrying form.

    Outside in the chamber the ceremony continued, the Snow Elf Princesses joined hands, turning to face each other the pregnant one spoke. “Sister, Noh’leen, I ask for your hands, in this time of rebirth I ask that together we bring another life to this world that had forsaken us. Bring this life into the world with me, so that the next life that is brought forth comes from your womb!”

    Guiding her pregnant sister towards the stone tablet Noh’leen laid her down “Ur’tag, I give you my hands to help bring back our races glory, so that the next birth comes from my womb!”

    Smiling at her sister Ur’tag felt the contractions come pain braced her form as her waters broke. As a slow tide the Falmer approached surrounding the sisters, they brought water and other provisions, touching and soothing the pair as a new Snow Elf was brought into the world. The process of giving birth lasted but minutes, and then the baby was held aloft for all the Falmer to see.

    Noh’leen’s body froze then started to tense in pain, grasping her stomach she slipped to the ground. Ur’tag holding her newborn in her arms proclaimed “Look my family! Look the miracle continues, the Snow Prince delivers another offspring to us from beyond, the dread lord permits it, we are resurgent we are strong! All hail Sithis!”

    At this the entire, cavern reverberates to the chant “All hail Sithis!”

    A life time ago someone is still listening.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Lifting her head from the feast Babette studies the two girls by now they have crawled to the corner. Blood dripping from her mouth, her predatory eyes scan the two snow elves till she comes to a conclusion, she wipes her mouth clean and standing she straightens her robes.

    Bowing and facing the two young Snow Elvin girls, Babette tried her best and least threatening smile; she motioned to herself “Babette”.

    The girls appeared puzzled by this so Babette repeated the motion and spoke her name again. A spark of understanding passed through the girl’s eyes, pointing at her they spoke her name. Babette smiled again, the girls started to come out of their huddle, one motioned to herself and spoke her name as did the other follow her suit. Pulling out more food the two Snow Elves gathered by Babette they started to eat, slowly the process of building up a form of communication began between Vampire Assassin and Snow Elvin girls.

    A week passed within the fort, Babette found that the girls though appearing young were about 20 years old. Still timid around her they had built up a form of basic communication. Babette was amused by the situation and enjoying the sensation of learning something new, absorbed the history of the Falmer, their language based on an Elvin script was easily decipherable. In return she taught them the Nordic tongue used by the majority here in Skyrim.

    The Snow Elvin girls turned out to be quick studies, over the following month they learned all Babette could teach about the history of Skyrim. Forging new armour, weapons as well as the use of them, finally she taught them basic magic skills. After a month and half they had absorbed almost all of her knowledge, though in return she had gained all the accumulated knowledge of the Falmer.

    Apparently locked up within the twisted race that the Falmer had become there was a prophecy, linked to the very flesh of their race magic had been entwined. This magic had worked the flesh of the Falmer till after numerous generations eventually they were born. True born, Snow Elves, born in a small cave system far away from any of the entrances to Blackreach. The girls were raised by their immediate kin and loved without restraint, after they watching their family slaughtered by the Nord Bandits and crushed in the cave in they had by chance found Babette, were they had learnt more in months than in their whole lives so far.

    “All hail Sithis” said Babette upon hearing their story “He provides a route for all to the void”.

    “Sithis, who is this Sithis that you speak of?” enquired Noh’leen.

    So Babette told them all about Sithis, the Night Mother and her part in the Dark Brotherhood, the way of the void and how she serves the Dread Lord.

    “The Night Mother is like the Falmer who are dead except walking, they give to us our purpose, and from the void they have brought forth our race again. Now it is up to us, to go to the place you call Blackreach and continue this work. It appears Babette we serve the same master” Ur’tag talked while nodding Noh’leen stated “All hail Sithis!”

    Babette smiled, if she had knew over a month ago that, her latest commission would bring her to a turning point of history she may have considered carrying along a bard to write it. In retrospect it amused her more to keep this story to herself, she would enjoy one day watching another shift in history occur and know she had played a small part in it happening.

    A week later, she escorted the two young girls the remaining distance to Irkngthand, bidding them a fond farewell she embraced them both and as she touched their bare flesh black hand marks burned themselves into her their white skin.

    Amazed Babette looked at the two girls who simply smiled back and entered the Dwarven ruin.

    “All hail Sithis” Babette at two hundred years old was for the first time since her conversion to a vampire, truly surprised, quietly proclaimed to the landscape of Skyrim.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Light glimmered in his eyelids and a sudden noise brought the world back to him, a word shot to his mouth that he didn’t know fully.

    “Hold” yet he pronounced it in a tone and dialect he could just about recognise. The light echoed the features of a Falmer stopped mid slash its sword inches from his face. The word that had erupted unbidden from his lips had puzzled the Falmer as much as it had Artur. Then it went to continue its attack, Artur seized the opportunity and with a dagger slashed out and stabbed it straight through the mouth, the blade pushing out the other end of its head. The Falmer collapsed, and with its fall the memories old, now became part of him and understanding flowed like the blood of the dead Falmer beside him.



    To Part Eight
     
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  10. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 8: Sleight of hand



    Deep within the Dwarven city of Irkngthand, the group of Companions and Thieves held a defensive semi circle while around its perimeter paced the Harbinger. Frustrated again by the secretive and sudden nature in which any partnership with the guild can change without notice.



    “Where is that Damndable Dunmer?” she muttered to herself as she made another sweep of the chamber they were in “Why does this always happen with him”.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



    In the main throne room of Mistveil Keep the tableau of Companions and Thieves are facing Jarl Maven a traitor for the Thalmor who is demonstrating more power than has been witnessed by any mage in all their combined experience.



    “Maven, what is the meaning of this, you would sell us out to the Thalmor for what, influence a bit more power?” Josin found he was unable to stop even though Maven was in effect looking through him. “You remember what I told you about the Thalmor, how they butchered my entire family, my entire village, suspended the mutilated corpses from the nearby trees for visitors to see, all because we had not been able to submit the grain donation to their capital! You remember me telling you this, were you in there service even then? Why would you betray my trust! Why to become their servant Maven Answer me!”



    “Servant, I’m no one’s servant, not the Thieves guilds not the Empires nor the Thalmor’s. Honour, loyalty, such things are for the herd, for you lot with your small aims and goals. You all serve your purpose, the Thieves got me Riften, the Empire got me wealth and the Thalmor, the Thalmor gave me the knowledge of power” at the mention of this word she closes her eyes and in her hands form two long blades, made of compressed blue light “and of course the wielding of it. So I had to sow a little discontent for them, sell some to the fire to get what I want. When the smoke dies down after they finish their little war, I will spread across the land and all of Tamriel itself will reside in my palm”.



    “Not if I leave you without hands to hold it, Jarl” Kathryn stepped in front of Josin recognising the rage of betrayal and how it weakens one’s ability to reason, she would protect her ally from himself.



    Her fellow Companions were using this time to spread out in a flank, while Maven focused on Josin and Kathryn they ensured they positioned for the fight ahead. Seeing this, the Thieves Guild members followed suit finding lines of sight with which to fire at the Undead and Atronach allies of Jarl Maven.



    “Ah the Dragonborn speaks, such a shame I wanted her first words to be in the language of Dovah. Well I’m sure I’ll hear some soon enough, before she falls like so many others foolish enough to get in my way. Come Dragonborn, there is a place in my new world for you, if you were to deal with this petulant annoyance for me I’m sure I could even be persuaded to let you keep your fancy little trinket” Maven smiled then her eyes widened.



    As if in answer to the offer to betray her allies Kathryn emitted a shout, an inferno built from the vowels of the Dovah and in a torrent rushed Maven, just before it hit, Josin could see a ward produced by the Jarl. The flame turned round it yet could not penetrate the protective shield of the ward as the Jarl huddled behind it.



    “Well I guess that’s it then, enjoy Oblivion my subjects” Maven mocked as the undead started to shuffle towards the Companions flank.



    Brynjolf dropped his bow and pulling his Nightingale blade from its scabbard joined Vilkas’ side as they rushed the undead Maul. Vilkas pulled his two handed great sword out of its scabbard across his back and in one sweep he bent down as Maul advanced, taking his legs off at the knee joints. While in the same motion, keeping his shield close to his body Brynjolf spun out with his blade and lopped off Maul’s head. After this without stopping, they split off to tackle a section of the undead guards each.



    The Flame Atronachs remained at Maven’s side and began to emit a volley of fireballs at the assembled throng of thieves and companions. Hitting Rune and Vex in the torso, Dirge grabbed them both in an arm each and pulled them out of the throne room. Returning only to get hit himself, he stumbled back out of the room.



    In response Josin, fired a volley of arrows in quick succession at the head of the Flame Atronach to Mavens right, all the arrows found their mark, under the barrage the Atronach lurched back allowing Josin an opening he charged forward blade drawn and in three quick sweeps smashed apart the fiery torso, finally lopping off the head. Maven turned to him and swiped across his shield with a magically bound battle-axe, the force of the blow knocking him to the ground.



    Simultaneously, Kathryn had emitted a shout that forced a wall of ice in front of her this immediately captured the Flame Atronach to the left of Maven within a block solidified ice. It was at this moment as Kathryn charged the Atronach she spotted Maven’s swing of the battle-axe knock Josin to the ground, changing her direction Kathryn swung round to bring Wuuthrad down on Maven. Before she got a chance to Maven simply vanished and all light fell from the room.



    Kathryn stumbled in the dark momentum carrying her forward. From the room she heard the sound of her compatriots assaulted by the undead Riften guards. Behind her, she heard the sound of the remaining Flame Atronach boiling the ice that had contained it into steam the flash of fire threw shadows around the room. She could see the figures struggling in gruelling combat unable to tell friend from foe in the gloom. Grabbing Wuuthrad, she turned on her heel and lunged at the Atronach, smashing into it as it started to regain its upright position. It started burning her with fire and she relentlessly smashed it back to the beyond with Wuuthrad.



    As quickly as she had vanished Maven reappeared in a burst of light, hoods shielding their vision from the glare the thieves guild archers unleashed a barrage of arrows at the undead guards. The arrows knocking the undead fighters off balance gave the two companions and Brynjolf the chance to finish them off.



    Maven stood in the centre of the room smiling “Where did Josin go? All mouth no sword thrust that one. Well didn’t you all do well, alas, no rest for the wicked” She crouched with both arms outstretched fire curling round her fingers, turning on her heels she blasted jets of flame that sent all in the throne room scattering for the floor.



    Thieves’ guild members and Companions all started to pick themselves from the ground when four glowing black and purple portals forming in the air announced the arrival of more summoned creatures. To which four Frost Atronachs stepped from the portals into the Throne room, their massive forms scrapping the very roof.



    The thief archers aimed at the Atronachs and released a barrage of arrows, which sunk uselessly into their ice bodies.



    “Archers, change of plan, keep all your fire on Maven. Don’t stop till it’s, do that or die” Kathryn shouted out in the din of the Atronach steps “Companions, and melee fighters on me, let’s take these things out, she can’t keep summoning them forever”.



    Taking a breath in, Kathryn focused fire in one shouted torrent at the nearest Frost Atronach causing it to instantly combust into steam.



    “Brynjolf, Vilkas, go left, Aela with me” The four warriors split to an Atronach each.



    Meanwhile the barrage of arrows on Maven had forced her to pull up a bound shield to deflect them. Under the constant stream of arrows the shield seemed to be weakening, throwing a hand back maven reached out to the third Frost Atronach and seemed to pull the very essence from it into her body. Then she pushed the shield out in a tide of force that knocked the archers over, knocking two of them out. Only two remained and they switched to dual wielding swords and charged Maven, in response she summoned up two Skeletons that clashed with the two thieves in the centre of the room.



    Vilkas charged ahead of Brynjolf, in an overhead slash he managed to chop off one of the Atronachs arms however he left himself open to the other one that smashed him against the wall, knocking him completely out. Brynjolf followed behind him jumped up getting a foot hold on the Atronachs knee and bashed it in the head with his shield causing the creature to stumble back. At this Brynjolf brought his blade tip first onto the Atronachs head sending it back to its home domain. Landing clumsily he found himself assaulted by another Skeleton; its mace connecting with the side of his head put him out of the fight.



    Delvin spotted this and dispatched the few skeletons in his path rushing to Brynjolf’s aid. Once he knew Brynjolf was breathing he set himself over his boss and defended him from more skeletons. “The Conjuration that Maven is capable of is decreasing; these skeletons apart from being numerous are easily cut down” he shouted to Kathryn and Aela, Who had just dispatched their own Atronach foe and helped Delvin take care of the last of the Skeletons.



    Standing in the centre of the Throne room, Maven looking cruelly imperious sneered “You think my power wanes, look around fools from the many that stood so defiant there is only the three of you two women and an old fool left to face me. Your dear Josin has fled and all the rest are injured or dead and unable to join you in your final moment of glory and death”.



    In response to Maven’s tirade an arrow flew from the corridor and impaled Maven’s shoulder causing her to scream out.



    “Hurts don’t it?” Josin stepped out of the corridor, replacing the bow he pulled something from his satchel. “Look familiar, you should really learn to not brag Maven, it can give a fellow ideas”. He tossed the object in the air, gently catching it.



    “Potema” barely audible Maven breathed the word out.



    “So much power Maven and almost none of it yours. A gift, something for you to siphon raw magical talent from, the Thalmor are good to their servants. You never thought if they were happy to give you the Wolf Queens skull as a power source, what they could have in reserve to counter it, did you!” Josin more shouted at her than question. “You pretty much told me where to find it with your gloating, so much power couldn’t be earned in one life time, all I had to do was look for the thing that didn’t fit. Once in my hands it stopped feeding you power”.



    “You, you thief how dare you sully my quarters with your presence" wounded Maven spluttered back.



    Kathryn walked over to Josin “May I see that?” Josin handed it over and the Harbinger brought the skull down on the wall with such force she smashed it into many pieces. From the pile of fragments, she pulled the now distorted Torc crown of Potema and handed it to Josin “Something for your wall as a keepsake”.



    “I have power still enough” Maven pulled the arrow from her shoulder and threw it to the ground. In her hands formed, a two handed battle-axe made from a purple glow of solidified light. Jumping to her feet in an indecipherable growl, she charged Kathryn who was standing closest to her.



    Smiling Kathryn stepped to the side and swung her Battle-axe Wuuthrad in a long lazy arc, Maven missing with her own attacking swing was carried by the momentum of it into the fast approaching flat of Wuuthrad’s axe blade. Lifted off the ground she was carried back, hit the ground head first, and lost consciousness.



    “That felt good I bet” Aela said to Kathryn.



    “I’ve had better to be honest” the Harbinger replied.



    “So what to do with the Jarl?” as she spoke Kathryn noticed Josin advancing bow drawn arrow straining to be released from its flight. His face darkened to a pitch-black hue in rage, his eyes burned blood red.



    “The thieves’ guild takes care of Riften and its problems traditionally; I think it’s time we stuck to that old tradition” his voice calm Josin rationalised his growing rage.



    “You would strike an unarmed prone enemy, what honour does your guild hold then?” Kathryn looked to Josin; she could see his body shake in conflict at his own actions. In the time she had gotten to know him, the Thieves guild leader had not struck her as a murderous soul. Then she remembered the guild members prone and dead at Maven’s hands. He had lost much in the conflict, though he used intelligence and guile to end it quickly, now he could see the aftermath she knew his heart raged to take vengeance for those that had fallen. She could not bring herself to stop him.



    “Lad, lower that bow. I have a better idea on how Maven can be made to suffer, a guild way we can deal with her” Brynjolf was conscious, though held up by Delvin he was still injured. Josin turned to him lowering the bow “Really, how does she pay for this blood then Brynjolf?”



    “Oh I have an idea” Brynjolf smiled “Trust me”.



    The guards awoke in the antechamber they had been locked in at daylight hours, as a group they broke out of the room though finding themselves unarmed they still rushed to the throne room. Immediately they saw the devastation in front of them, their eyes following it to the throne were Maven sat bound to it by forged metal clamps with a band of Iron wrapped round her head gagging her. Before the guards had a chance to rush to her aid two Penitus Oculatus agents stopped them in their tracks.



    “You gentlemen appear to be late to the party; those of your colleagues who managed to make it fared less well. However luckily we have a new assignment for all of you a special assignment. You’re to protect and guard your Jarl unarmed of course, while we take her back to the Imperial capital for further investigation of being a double agent for the Thalmor as per these documents that arrived in our outpost earlier today. If we suspect any of you to be agents of the Thalmor your fate will be as equally as unpleasant as your Jarls will be. As you can see, the throne appears to have been adapted to be carried, by about your number of men. So split into two groups and hup to it, plenty of ground to cover before we can transfer Maven here to a carriage all the way through town to start with”. Drawing swords to emphasise their message the Penitus Oculatus agents motioned to the throne. As Maven struggled against her iron bindings, she was lifted in the throne by her guards and in a mockery of a processional march was carried out of the city in front of the midday crowds.



    “Strangest thing, I could have sworn the ink on these documents was wet this morning, now look how dry it is” one of the agents said to the other.



    The other agent smiled looking to and nodding once at a figure over at the market stall. “Well that’s because the Thalmor are a tricky foe always unpredictable in their ways. Best we take care of this back at the capital anyway, where documents mean little”.



    At his stall Brynjolf smiled at the procession a bandage wrapping the wound on his head he spoke to his waiting audience “Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen. A once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself!”

    Away from the daytime crowds and within a tavern of Riften sat the Master of the Thieves Guild and Harbinger of the Companion’s.



    “They’re dead because of me, three new recruits, some of the finest lockpicking he had seen in a while Brynjolf had said of them” Artur finished his drink of Alto wine in one long draught.



    “I have seen many warriors fall, in battle Josin, they acquitted themselves well you will see them again when it comes to your time” Kathryn tried to comfort Josin while they both sat in a corner of the Bee and Barb within Riften, he had been lost and pale since they had gotten back to the Cistern. Kathryn had decided then she would take him away from his fellows where he was trying to be the stoic leader and give him space to grieve, before returning to the new business at hand.



    “They weren’t warriors!” Some of the patrons heard Josin’s outburst. Kathryn shot him a warning glance.



    “Grab your drink, all of it. We shall go somewhere more private to ‘talk’ as such” At Kathryn’s command, Josin looked puzzled, but grabbed his drink and followed. “Barkeep, give me a key for your best room and absolutely no interruptions”.



    The barkeep tossed the key over and looking at Kathryns face and armour “Please don’t break too much”.



    Josin walked into the room and Kathryn walked in behind him and locked the door behind them. She grabbed the wine out of his hand and set it on the bedside and smiling at him looked deep into his eyes. Seeing the intensity of her vision Josin’s eyes started to lose their inward glazed over impression. Seeing this Kathryn raised her hand and with a quick swipe she slapped his face once hard, the force of her slap turning him around.



    “What did you do that for?” Josin shouted, to which Kathryn lunged and kicked him backwards. Josin landed hard on the ground and rolling he jumped upwards charging Kathryn with his shoulder pushing her hard into the ground. Slamming her palm into his face she thrust him off of her, and he landed beside her. To which she getting off the ground fast straddled him, undoing the clasps and leather strips she let her armour fall off her body exposing the thin material she wore underneath it.



    “You are not responsible for those deaths, they were your charges, yet I was there they volunteered willingly for the task at hand. If anyone is responsible for their deaths it is Maven and she will get what is coming to her far away from her previous spheres of influence” Kathryn straddling Josin looked into his eyes.



    He was pinned by her intensity, she had attacked him now having removed armour she was leaning on his shoulders not hard, but with feeling nonetheless. “What are you” Josin went to say but was interrupted.



    As she stopped his lips with her finger “You can’t walk in a mist lamenting those gone forever, you live or you die. You do not try to be dead while living, I could see you retreating, and I’ve been there myself. Consider this an opportunity to change to grow to live or you can die”. At that a wicked smile grew across her lips and she took her finger off his lips. “Speak” smiling she suggested this to him.



    “I’d like to live” Josin could feel her weight on him; he knew what he wanted but couldn’t be sure that was where this was going.



    At that Kathryn’s smile turned into a wild grin and she kissed him slowly on the lips. He started to respond his hands reaching to her thighs and walking themselves up her torso removing the soft layer of cloth from her body. She pulled slightly away from him and in one quick move she tore the light armour off of his chest, she turned her head and looked to the bed, and looking back to Josin she smiled once more, a smile that Josin joined her in.



    He awoke later wrapped in sheets Kathryn’s leg curled over him, the evening came back to him and he had never been with someone so passionate and to some volatile. Yet now lying in bed with her, their mingled dried sweat on each other’s skin he felt something gentle from her. Her hand unconsciously drifted on his skin, she nuzzled his neck curled up beside him and one of her feet twitched as if in a dream. Slowly she stirred from her slumber, to see him watching her “Is it morning yet?”



    “No” Josin replied. He stroked her back as she lay there.



    “Then sleep, or do i have to tire you out again thief?” Kathryn grinned.



    “You couldn’t have done this all the way back in Whiterun at the start” At this suggestion of Josin’s Kathryn pounced onto him.



    “I didn’t want to then, now i do, you made me, trust me you deserve this and more” Kissing him slow and firm they rolled over on the bed till he was on top.



    This time Kathryn woke to an empty room, with a sigh she clambered from the bed and walked over to drink some water. Still sore and tired from the previous days fight and then other more pleasant and celebratory activities she went to lie down again. Thinking in bed she had to hope that Josin hadn’t went back to the Cistern to mourn again, or this time she would actually attack him, if just to bring him out of his depression.



    The door opened to the room and without making a sound Josin crept in, Kathryn was impressed by the dark Elves skills. He really did move like a silent breeze, if she hadn’t been looking that way she wouldn’t have even seen him arrive. She pretended to be asleep; as Josin approached he set a tray down on the edge of the bed.



    “I know your awake, you’ve changed how you breath for a start” Kathryn sat up in bed a vexed expression playfully passed her features before breaking into a smile at Josin’s comment.



    “You got me then and you brought us breakfast up, very well done thief” She pulled him down to lie beside her and brought the food over. As they tucked in, Kathryn decided it was time to broach what could be a tender subject.



    “You’ve something to do Josin something that could be quite dangerous for us both. We’ve a Jarl to steal for Riften” Josin leaned up in his bed, intrigue beating out confusion.



    “Well I’ll get Delvin to make an invoice out but if I do this, consider it a favour owed by you too me” Kissing him once hard on the lips Kathryn sealed the bargain between the Thieves guild and the Companions.


    To Part Nine
     
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  11. Mighty Pecan Pie

    Mighty Pecan Pie The secret American

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    Didn't know you were already done rewriting :eek:
     
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  12. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Not done still in the process... OF THE RE-WRITE! . So there is plenty more to come, plus new inserts to increase the range of the story.

    Hope you like where this story goes.
     
  13. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Okay so a while ago i corrupted the file with the main story on it as well as most of the special new Lydia inserts to add some spice and what not. This was a bit of a blow and put me off my stride some what. I am now resolved to get back into the story and continue. As i have been piecing the tale together slowly from scribbled notes and plans for what i had written so far.

    Hopefully i will have a new part for you all soon enough. If you still want some? Again apologies for delays and what not due to me being terrible.
     
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    Black Orchid: 7 Points (Excellent writing, Dale! I read the whole thing in one sitting. ;-)) Dec 28, 2013
  14. Black Orchid

    Black Orchid Death Incarnate

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    Keep the inspirational juices flowing, Dale; that was a good read, especially how you mixed in multiple factions and forced them to work together for the benefit of all.

    -All Hail Sithis-
     
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  15. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Thanks for the compliment. I'll get back into it. Time to light this tale up again.
     
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  16. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Part 9: Blades and Magic​



    “For any that sells his life cheaply will know my scorn!”


    A tall blonde woman stood in the centre of a crowd of fifteen armoured men and women. She was wearing layered armour moulded to her figure. Bloodied and scorched the armour where had already bore the brunt of battle.


    “The Thalmor may have the element of surprise and overwhelming numbers but they will pay for each square foot of this land with a gallon of their blood. On this field of battle there are none I would rather have fight beside me than you, my fellow blades!”


    This proclamation received a cheer from the gathered throng of soldiers all clad in the same armour as the female giving the speech. She turned to an old man attired in worn Mage robes “Esbern, release the defences”.


    “Certainly Delphine” Esbern grinned and threw a lever besides the courtyard entrance to the Sky Haven Temple “Well it was nice while it lasted, if everyone would make their way to the courtyard please”.


    As the assembled warriors rushed into the courtyard out the back of the Sky Haven temple a rumbling began. As they took defensive positions on the courtyard the first Thalmor were making their way up through the temple. Esbern was the last out of the doorway a Thalmor spotted him and loosed an arrow that flew past his head. The rumbling that had been growing louder all of a sudden ceased. Smiling back at the Thalmor archer Esbern loosed a simple small Fireball into the temple it flew harmlessly past the Thalmor throng.


    “Missed old man” Hissed the Thalmor Archer as he strung another arrow when an explosion turned his head and from the detonation point blossomed a maelstrom of fire and rock. Expanding through the Thalmor trapped within the temple, the few managing to stumble out of the temple onto the courtyard were killed with precision arrow strikes. The rest were shredded and killed instantly within the blast wave.


    “How many Esbern?” enquired Delphine, as she heard parts of the Sky Haven complex collapse due to the force of the blast.


    “About a quarter of their force all told, no more than thirty perished in that blast” Delphine sighed as Esbern delivered the news.


    “Seventeen Blades versus over ninety Thalmor troops, is that the fight we face?” This question came from one of the assembled blades.


    “Yes Lydia it is, unfortunately we appear to have nowhere to retreat to. No doubt the Thalmor’s plan all along, this is no battle this is an execution” Esbern closed his eyes.


    “Let them come” spoke Lydia “We’ll kill them all if we have to”.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    “Lydia, oh Lydia
    So wrong oh Lydia

    Poor Lydia, oh Lydia
    Last of the blades

    Oh Lydia, wrong Lydia
    She wears disgrace

    Lydia, oh Lydia
    Seared onto her back

    Oh Lydia, damned Lydia
    Burnt…”


    The bard is cut off as an empty bottle of mead smashes square against his head. At the far end of the thrown arc sits a Nordic woman Brunette hair cropped tight, burn tissue and scarring covers a quarter of the right side of her head. Patterning itself down her neck and disappearing into her robes. The robes themselves are torn and ragged, filthy with years of accumulated grime. Patched where it was torn, it covers her body in a rudimentary manner. Through the robes her figure can be seen to still be well muscled however it is worn and malnourished, scars apparent on the legs of the figure, sandals almost worn away on her feet. The Nordic woman’s face is frozen in a scowl of half subdued rage, yet drifting into a slowly dawning drunken stupor.


    She spoke slightly slurring her words “Oops, stupid bard next time check the bar for who you are mocking” her voice is unheard through the din of the rest of the bar, she downs another bottle of mead as she sees the bartender approaching her table.


    “Problem?” Lydia smiles up at the bartender as he frowns down at her.


    “The bard was just singing a song, no need to get aggressive stranger” Arms crossed the barman stands at about six foot. Broad and heavy set he wears leather and cloth clothes. His body looks like it has seen a lot hardships and strain during his lifetime, still he holds himself solidly.


    “Stranger...? You know what i guess i am a stranger to here now, like i am a stranger to all. Lydia the disgraced, the one the Thalmor let live. But not before they took their pound of flesh” As she talks Lydia starts to get more upset and erratic. As she speaks the final sentence she is tearing the robe off of her body till she stands there naked. The scarring on her face that led under the robes continues down her body. The signs of a body that has been beaten then tortured not just with steel but fire too.


    The barman horrified tries to help Lydia replace her robe, as he tries to touch her to help dress her she slaps him backhanded across the face turning him in his step. With this the bar stops completely, already watching the tableau there is no longer a sound from the crowd.


    “No one strikes me” The barman turning raises his fist to strike Lydia. However he is too slow Lydia is ready with her next blow to the head a neat fast strong cross. She then counters with a hook to his temple without missing a beat then she grabs him by the hair and pulling his head down knees him square in the nose. Blood explodes from his face due to the force of the blow and he lands on the ground on his back. Lydia jumps on top of his prone body throwing more punches at his head with each blow she screams incoherently. Till two bystanders pull her off of the beaten man. They drag her outside and throw her into the mud and soaking rain and lob her robes out after her.


    One of the bystanders turns back to her before closing the door with a parting sentence “Shame you couldn’t have been that fierce with the Thalmor”.


    Lydia in one hand grabs her robe and with another hand grabs a bottle of mead from the ground she pulls the cork out with her teeth and turning in the rain she walks off into the surrounding undergrowth naked.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    Within the Archmage’s Quarters in the college of Winterhold a floating orb of light slowly fades. It has just depicted the scene previous and now its purpose is fulfilled it shrinks from view.


    Serena turns to J’zargo “That is who you want me to recruit?”


    “Yes, she is perfect, damaged hopeless despondent and filled with uncontrollable hate. She is the perfect weapon. We can point her where we want and with sufficient motivation she will happily do our bidding” J’zargo looked pleased with himself.


    “No offence my love, but she is by now more animal then person. I think control is something you will find not possible with her” Serena rubbed his fur as she spoke.


    “Control, no i don’t intend to control her, more aim her and let go” J’zargo nuzzled into Serena’s touch.


    “But at who?” She asked in return.


    “Who else...?” Pulling Serena onto the bed they embraced. As she smiled back at him her smile revealing her vampiric fangs “Oh of course” and at that point they kissed.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    “Thalmor!” the call rose up through the ranks of the blades assembled on the cliff top courtyard at Sky Haven temple. They had been given about half an hour respite from the slaughter by Esbern’s destructive explosion of the interior of the temple. Still it hadn’t taken the Thalmor long to push through the rubble and now they were finally upon them.


    Spread across the courtyard the remaining Blade forces look sparse though determined each one of them knew that to get out of this battle alive would be a miracle. As the first Thalmor infantry stepped onto the courtyard, the assembled Blade Mages laid into them with a combination of fire and ice. Though slaying a few this way the Thalmor countered with their own mages who using advanced wards allowed troops to access the courtyard. This was all that it took to break the Blades lines and the daylong defence of Sky Haven temple.


    With the Thalmor, forces flowing onto the courtyard the Blades found themselves falling swiftly to mage attack as well as an overwhelming infantry advance. Though Thalmor were falling to the Blades, their counter attacks and defence the sheer size of the Thalmor forces meant that very quickly the Blades forces were finished. Still combat continued a few small skirmishes in pockets of resistance that slowly fell until there were just three such spots left.


    Delphine was in a corner her back against the wall as she fended off advancing Thalmor troops. Dual wielding steel scimitars she was managing to parry the swipes and blows of the Thalmor back into the various attackers. However though her sword play was valiant due to the overwhelming numbers she could no longer make a single killing blow. No sooner had she negated one thrust was another coming her way. Meanwhile the injured Thalmor merely recovered their weapons and rejoined the attack. The strain was quickly getting to Delphine though an expert combatant she was no longer as young and energetic as she once had been. One Thalmor lunged with a blade Delphine fogged by exhaustion didn’t realise it was a feint and trying to parry the blow followed the blade leaving her flank exposed. Too late she realised her error as a sword slid deep between her ribs from behind. She dropped her sword and coughed an obscenity at the sword wielder as the Thalmor who had feinted his swordplay brought his blade round in an arc and decapitated her quickly.


    Esbern through his multiple Magical Wards and the barrage from the Thalmor Battle mages saw the death of his long time colleague and companion screamed in anguish. He changed the spell he was casting instead of repelling the Thalmor magic assault he began to adapt his spell to absorb the magical and destructive power of this assault. Not realising the change in Esbern’s tactic the Thalmor kept pouring on the attack and as he absorbed the power Esbern begin to glow, ripples of flaming light and sparks passed over his body and form. Slowly a couple of the battlemages started to stop casting the barrage, yet it was too late Esbern bleeding energy caught the gaze of the nearest battlemages and smiling he spoke one word “burn”. In a flash of light destructive magic emitted at the surrounding area, the light faded stunning the battlefield still. Smoke poured off of the affected area where Esbern had stood there was merely a crater yet surrounding him where the charred skeletons of anyone caught in the blast Icicles streaking off the bones from the combined destructive force assaulting the strewn bodies. Lightning still sparked through the ground and lunged out at anyone close to the area of effect.


    The crowd of Thalmor soldiers move in on Lydia, her death approaching on the tips of their blades. Abruptly a flash of light blinds her and the Thalmor surrounding her, due to the force of Esbern’s suicidal blast wave knocks them all to their feet. Rising Lydi lunges her sword through the body of one Thalmor soldier not even trying to pull it out she grabs another sword from the ground and repeats sliding it into another Thalmor. Half crawling stumbling she continues to stab Thalmor knocked prone by the blast. Soldiers around her are slowly coming to and she tries to reach for another discarded sword to attack the owner of it. Hands grab at her armour and Thalmor drag her back. A number of them pin her to the ground while one soldier stands over her with a dagger held the point at her throat.

    “Wait!” A commander steps amongst the soldiers “This one can be a messenger for us” he points at one soldier who knocks Lydia out with a vicious kick.


    Screaming Lydia wakes to the sensation of her flesh slowly searing apart. She tries to move and struggle but her body doesn’t respond. Fire consuming her till she convulses then as quickly the fire is doused.

    “Ah good you’re awake” Lydia’s vision started to return centring on the figure of the Thalmor commander “Don’t try and speak we have you paralysed, my battlemages are quite competent at this. I heard that a human army in the past used to if unable to take a territory by force would salt the land so that nothing would grow on it again within the lifetime of those who lived there. Well Thalmor are a tad more long lived than you humans however I have always thought why kill the plants they didn’t do anything wrong? Instead I can salt the minds of the humans that surround us in their pathetic mayfly existences, hence why you are still here with us. I’m going to burn and disfigure you, leave you here amongst the corpses of your fallen comrades to be found and then the so called rulers of this land can acknowledge in their quiet way what happens when you cross the Aldemeri Dominion” At that he turned and walked away, as he left fire engulfed Lydia and she started to scream again and again.

    Later Lydia woke to the sound of rain on metal, she tries to turn over but can’t the Thalmor staked her to the ground before they left the field of slaughter. Tears stream from her eyes as the smel of disembowled flesh flows over her heavy and wet in the rain. From the far corner of her vision she hears a rustling sound. Then the unmistakable sound of flesh tearing and bones crunching. She spots a dark too large wolf shape stalking amongst the fallen bodies ripping flesh off. She gasps out in shock and the figure stops immediately sensing her. Turning it bounds over to her and lunges till it is still squat over her. Lydia tries to struggle against her bonds but it is useless they are too tight and she is too weak. The figure with its bloated and overgrown snout sniffs her and then in one horrible lunge tears at her flesh. The world burns in pain again and then goes black.


    To Part Ten
     
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  17. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    To go to the start of the Fanfic press here

    Part 10: To take Counsel


    Within the Chambers of Irkthrgrand, the Falmer sit entranced by the Snow Elvin Princesses. Chanting takes place in front of a partially submerged Statue of a long dead hero to their kind. From a grating at the top of the cavern a figure falls clad in dark armour he plummets downwards till he impacts into the water. Silence falls over the cavern the Flamer wait with readied weapons for any disturbance announcing impending danger.


    Noh’leen moves back to the throne, still in pain she manages to sidle onto it, while Ur’tag passed her newborn to one of the Falmer guards. She stands with no pain, lifting a long thin Ebony blade from the stone tablet, wielding it in one hand the other started to lift sparks as she readies a spell. Scanning the cavern she waits, while the guards escort the children towards the door. Two guards pull bows out and flank Noh’leen in pain on the throne.


    Bursting out of the water Artur, lands on his feet on the wooden platform, where he falls to a crouch and reaching round and he pulls his battle axe out holding it out in front of him.


    “Listener” More a sneer than a word Ur’tag spoke in the Falmer tongue yet Artur understood her perfectly “Is it that you simply cannot hear, or do you not want to any more, be that it?”


    Artur placed the Battle axe in front of him on the ground as Falmer started to swarm down the platform towards him. He reached to the armour and released the catches holding the bow and his quiver, they clattered to the ground. Grabbing the horns he pulled the Masque of Clavicus Vile from his head, setting it down.


    “Wait” Noh’leen called out “Hold the attack. I wish to see what this Nord does next”.


    The Falmer stopped in their tracks, weapons still drawn. Artur hadn’t taken his eyes off of the wooden platform the entire time, reaching to his shoulders he undid the latches that held the Ebony mail up then pulled apart the leather straps that held it tight the armour fell to the ground, stripping off the gauntlets and boots he finally stood up naked in front of the surrounding swarm.


    “I listened to the Night Mother now here I stand, not where I wanted to be but where I should have always been in the manner I must be”. Artur’s gaze finally lifted to Noh’leen’s on the throne in pain, both twins stared at him. “Hail Sithis, for he has brought us all to this point before we enter his final embrace. So, let me guess the magic wrought to the flesh of the Falmer after they were poisoned is an agreement with Sithis himself. Brought forth in the only language he understands death and the journey to the void. There is just one thing I don’t understand though what have you promised him that he is letting you channel the flesh and souls of dead Snow Elves to this time through your virgin births? I said I listened to the Night Mother, she filled me in on what happened, and she let me ride your soul, to when you made your way here so long ago, with my dear friend Babette.”


    The twins stared at each other the words they had heard in perfect Falmer dialect shocked those to the core, stunned past an ability to deceive Noh’leen answered him. “We are to return to Sithis that and those which still evade his grasp, who have tricked the very void into letting them pass untouched, or we will all be burnt off of this plane and every last one of us in this place you call Skyrim will be taken to the void by the Dread Lord himself”.


    Artur smiled “Ah so the usual work then, different target than expected never mind I can improvise pretty well”.


    “You’ve already failed Listener” Ur’tag admonished Artur, venom on every word “You were meant to assassinate the one that would allow the lost to return. Yet you came here too assault us, you should die, the Elvin Mage had our words he should have told you who too kill. Yet again the Nord went after Snow Elves, the old bloodlust dragged you down here to kill us all”. Spitting the final words Ur’tag looked ready to charge him.


    “Enthir is it you speak of, he told me to kill you both, if not for the Night Mother that’s exactly what I would have done”. Artur started to approach the two twins, Ur’tag went to raise her blade, yet Artur merely smiled “We’ve been set up, someone has been following this all, trying to turn us against each other before we even knew of the connection. You say I have failed that it’s too late, well trust someone who has sent many a person to meet Sithis, it is only too late when you are finally in the Dread Lords embrace, till then everything is too play for”.


    Noh’leen the pain of her virgin conception finally subsiding rose her head again “So then Listener what do you propose?”


    Before Artur had a chance to reply, the large doors behind them opened framing three figures hooded in black armour.


    “Of course” Exasperated he spoke “Just when you think everything is getting better, Nightingales arrive”.


    It was at this moment that the Falmer unleashed a barrage of arrows towards the three Nightingales.


    Artur watched as the three Nightingales dived out of the way of the arrow barrage; the female one dived into the shadows and vanished. While the two males leapt into the water and resurfaced by the statue.


    “I propose you get your loyal legion to cease fire till we find out what is going on!” Artur barked at Ur’tag.


    “Defensive posture only” Ur’tag commanded at which point the Archers stood down to be replaced with sword bearing dual wielding heavy armoured troops.


    Looking round there was now no sign of the Nightingales, Artur reached down and picked up his battle axe. “Josin, show yourself! I know it is you, listen to me, the Falmer have changed but old habits die hard. If you threaten in posture or action, they will cut you down”.


    A change of pressure behind him caused Artur to turn round Josin flickered into existence standing there, in his arms he carried two objects. “We came in peace anyway, you should get dressed Artur, there are ladies present”. He nodded to the Snow Elvin Princesses “Though it appears you are all attired equally”.


    Artur grinned “If those are what I think they are you should make your presentation quickly before the Princesses change their mind about sparing you three”.


    Noh’leen and Ur’tag had replaced their robes, taking their seats in the thrones; Falmer archers flanked them holding a bead on Josin as he approached them. He kneeled in front of the thrones and from his pack he produced two large gems, the Princesses gasped at the sight of them.


    “Our eyes” they exclaimed in unison “we feared them lost forever”. Ur-tag taking over for Noh’leen uttered a quick string of commands “Guards replace these now, take them to the statue, when they were stolen Sithis gifted us with our miracle births. Now they are returned they are a sign of the change in our fortunes, we are resurgent; the land sends its emissaries to re-establish us in the eyes of the surface world!” In unison the sisters finished with “All hail Sithis!”


    “All hail Sithis!” the cavern echoed back. Josin turned and lifted a questioning eyebrow at Artur in reply to the Falmer's chant.


    “I’ve always said I have friend in low places” Artur grinned as a reply.


    Noh’leen spoke “Elvin kin dark of skin, you and your compatriots are welcome here, you can tell them to come from where ever they are secured” to this request Josin nodded his agreement.


    Brynjolf materialized behind Artur sword drawn at his back, at Josin’s request he sheathed it. He then walked over to join Josin, Karliah materialized beside the Princess, and her bow drawn arrow pointed at Ur’tag. As she materialized she dropped the bow and sheathed the arrow then went to join Josin.


    Noh’leen turned to him “Now what?”


    “We talk and see what requires us all to be here at this time, for if I’m right something wicked this way comes” Artur grinned “and by the Dread Lords loving embrace we’re going to kill it”.


    “So Josin, how come you’re here, thought you guys were establishing the one true great thieving trade company? Isn’t this a little bit religious for you” Artur grinned, inwardly he was pleased to see the Dark Elf. A Nightingale or three could come to be useful shortly, especially with whatever was coming next, he was also pleased as he watched the Dark Elves face drop at his comment. It appeared that the time hasn’t softened Josin’s apparent lack of humour come his guild, this would make for pleasant sport when things got too quiet on the road.


    “So how did you do it, Listener?” Josin’s words to Artur dropped like poison, he was speaking at low tone so others couldn’t hear “We found Enthir as a pile of ash, you finally grow enough brain to learn necromancy, he was my friend and you murdered him, what for information? One day someone will finally figure out a way to destroy your poisoned brotherhood. You may be protected here but i will get my chance and then I will strike”. Josin went to turn away but Artur grabbed his arm, locking the elbow joint he pinned the Dark Elf standing on the spot.


    “You threaten me Elf, I may like you but there are few things I tolerate and threats aren’t them. Either strike or leave this folly alone, now you said I killed Enthir, who told you that?” Brynjolf and Karliah started to advance, getting ready to aid their leader, yet Noh’leen stepped in front of them impeding their path.


    “The listener means no harm; let the gentlemen have their little chat. It is time we all got onto the same page anyway. Besides you have weapons to surrender, you are among friends temporarily that will last as long as you respect our desires” as Noh’leen finished talking Falmer flanked her, she smiled coldly. Realising their options were limited Brynjolf and Karliah handed over their weapons.


    “Listener, kill me or be done” Josin turned and slipped from Artur’s grasp “No one needed tell me about you killing Enthir as soon as I saw you here it was too much of a coincidence, how are you connected to this?”


    “Enthir performed the Black Sacrament; it appeared that he wanted to see these ladies dead. Though I’m now having my doubts about any of that, considering what my Night Mother told me. Now could we chat like adults or should we fight for the amusement of other some more?” Artur held his hands out in front of him to show no harm.


    “We can talk for now but if I get the sense that you are lying to me, I will cut you down” Josin, found it hard to control his anger, something he always had trouble with when confronted with the deaths of those he cared about. The change in Artur was noticeable, for all his bluster Josin knew he would have needed to be very lucky to defeat Artur in a fair fight or any other kind. For the barbarian Nord to talk this way when he had such an advantage, something must have affected him recently.


    Artur was starting to replace his armour as Josin surrendered his weapons to the Falmer under the agreement that they would receive them upon return to the surface. For their protection they would be provided with a Falmer escort, in case they came across any remaining Dwarven Automatons, large violent killing machines left behind by their long gone masters.


    “Enthir had written to me weeks ago asking me to make our way to Winterhold with the Eyes of the Falmer, after many years of decryption he had finally deciphered the whole Falmer text I had found in Markarth about a decade ago. Peace had to be made between the surface world and the resurgent Falmer; he said all he could decipher further was that the lost will return. Apparently the rest of the text had been obliterated long ago purposefully”. Josin shifted his weight slightly feeling the cold of his ebony dagger press against his back under his Nightingale armour. Though he wanted to trust this fragile peace with the Falmer he had advised his colleagues to take the same precaution, in case the Falmer decided to just be rid of them altogether.


    “What was lost will return, the Snow Elves mentioned the same thing, apparently whatever is lost never made it to the void and i think Sithis is tired of waiting for his due. For he has returned to the Falmer their lost heritage, in exchange for them giving him back what the dread lord is missing” Artur holding the Masque of Clavicus Vile smiled then clipped it to the side of the Ebony Mail armour “Someone knows what we know, someone knows more in fact. Which means only one thing, whoever killed Enthir knew you were coming for him, to seek his guidance on this new quest. They knew that, I had been summoned for the Black Sacrament and had the resources to interfere without arousing my suspicions, they’re good”


    “You sound impressed” Josin noted of Artur.


    “Of course I am, if it wasn’t for the specific and in depth interference that the Night Mother had run on my course before you arrived, you would have opened those doors there to a charnel house of slaughter, which would have spilled outward, inflicting much death on Skyrim, while the true threat remained hidden”. Artur smiled “They have a plant in your group; it has to be; only I knew about anything to do with the Falmer from my end. One of those two is a double agent” Artur pointed at the two other Nightingales.


    “How dare you, you Nord butcher, are you as bigoted as almost all the rest of your kind, bar Brynjolf”. Karliah snarled at Artur “You look at a Dark Elf and her companion and you suspect them of treachery!”


    “Easy lass” Brynjolf tried to calm her temper. “If what he says has any weight to it, he is right to suspect us, until the truth outs itself, the Listener may be many things but he is no fool nor is he a bigot”.


    “It is maths, Josin doesn’t look the type for treachery he has the heart of a believer, while i am more than capable of treachery i couldn’t against Sithis’ will it would be pointless to try. That leaves you two remaining, it won’t be the Falmer or their Princesses, I mean who would they tell”.


    Karliah placated slightly spoke “You act like only we four have entered Irkngthand, recently”.


    “Why is the more of you hiding behind the doorway or something?” Artur almost laughed.


    “Or something” Josin spoke.


    “Well that changes things a little, it could be any of you bar myself, the Falmer their Princesses and my buddy Josin here” At that Artur slapped him on the shoulder, which Josin shrugged off and then took a couple of steps away from Artur “The rest of you are all suspect, does that suit you Karliah?”


    With the implicit tone and warmth of a snowdrift Karliah replied “Perfectly”.


    “Wonderful” The promised Falmer escort arrived and the three Nightingales plus the Listener lined up with them, Noh’leen and Ur’tag joined the group.


    Ur’tag spoke for them both “While we remain here to perform our royal duties, we would ask a favour from you Listener. Find out who you were meant to kill and send that individual to Sithis but not before you confirm a suspicion of ours with them. It will take but one word to confirm this suspicion and ask him if the lost would answer to their kin if their kin called them ‘Dwemer’. Can you do that Listener, can you help us fulfil the Dread Lords work?”


    Artur looked shocked he was about to enquire further but Ur’tag held up her hand and spoke “Not till it is confirmed then feel free to ask as many questions as you need”.


    “Of course ladies” Artur turned to the Nightingales “Once out of the ruins you will be on your own i have work to do, you heard the Princesses i have a quest” Artur grinned a wide open smile.


    “There is another to speak too as well, the Harbinger is here, waiting for us to return” At the mention of the Harbinger by Josin Artur’s face lit up.


    “Kathryn is here? It gets better, come on we may as well start now” as they went to leave Artur spoke “Did I ever tell you two Dark Elves how i ended up with Ebony Mail, no? Well are you in for treat of a tale”.


    To Part Eleven
     
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  18. Aragon150

    Aragon150 Nord

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    Nice keep it up
     
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  19. Start Dale

    Start Dale I got 99 problems but a Deadra ain't one.

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    Glad you are liking it working on Part Eleven now will post it soon.
     
  20. Black Orchid

    Black Orchid Death Incarnate

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    Excellent work so far; your tale is full of much intrigue, Dale. :cool:

    Lydia's never been my favorite follower, but my black heart truly goes out to her for all of the suffering she has endured.
     

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