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Private {18+} Ascension

Discussion in 'Active Stories' started by Madrar, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. Rafen

    Rafen Well-Known Member

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    Caleb, not named among those destined to accompany their captain to the meeting with the jarl, stood by as the others either branched off into pairs or followed the old khajiit to the inn. He scowled at the state of the people, slumping their way through the streets like zombies. All the life seemed to drain from their eyes, and the children were no different. This, he thought to himself, this is the peace and civilization the empire brings.

    The thought reminded him of the legionnaire in their midst. He'd seen the man speaking with the khajiit, Var'hess, but hadn't listened to the words. The man disappeared around the corner, and the healer followed, his suspicions raised. He knew the man had very likely saved his life earlier, during the battle. But he couldn't quite bring himself to trust the imperial.

    He followed the man to the edge of a crowd, where most of the people faced a gallows, where a robed man in black shouted down to the assembled nords. Calebs' face twisted with anger as he recognized one of the Confessors. Enforcers of the emperors will.

    One of the younger nords was being carried off by a pair of soldiers. Caleb noticed the disgust written on the features of the imperial mages face as he turned back the way he'd come. He swallowed to urge to gloat. The man had saved his life, after all. Instead, he said "are you well? You seem...shaken."
     
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  2. Madrar

    Madrar The Shadow in the Dark.

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    The group of mercenaries split up, some headed following Var'Hess to the tavern, while others wandered off in ones and twos. The people he'd chosen to accompany him looked towards him, waiting for Thalien to get on with it and lead them to the longhouse. He had no idea if the jarl was expecting them, but there was no way they didn't know about their presence in Falkreath.

    The guards scowled at the small group sellswords as they approached. Before they could challenge them or deny them entry all together, he lifted his empty hands and said "we're only here to talk. We're in service to the empire." The news did little to lighten the expressions of the guardsmen, but one nodded and they parted to allow access to the doors.

    Braziers provided some light for the longhouse, and the soft crackle of flames was mixed with soft conversation and the clink of armour and other gear as the guards escorted Thalien and his chosen companions into the jarls' presence.

    The jarl was a middle aged woman with dark hair and pale blue eyes that watched the approaching mercenaries with a mix of contempt and hostilitiy. "Servant of the empire. What brings you to Falkreath? There's naught here but the dead and those bound to join them."

    "Spare me your fanciful words, jarl. We won't be here for long, and I've no plans to make things worse-" Thalien broke off as his vision swam. He staggered a half step forward, and heard the jarl bark a question, though he could not make out the words.

    He could no longer see the longhouse in front of him, or the jarl, or the guards. He saw instead, bronze doors, marked with etchings of many limbed creatures, most of the limbs dotted with eyes. He could hear the sound of fighting, and the howls of wolves. Cold wind bit at his flesh. "Seek the servant of the many eyed one." He half mumbled, the words leaving his lips of their own accord. "He will show you the heart of the iron wolf."

    As soon as those words left his lips, the half-nord mercenary collapsed, unconcious and oblivious to the chaos his fit of prophecy had caused. His loyal friend was at his side in an instant. "He needs rest." Joren insisted "Have you a spare room we can place him in?"

    The jarl hesitated, but just for a moment. She knew full well what antagonizing a group of imperial mercenaries might mean for herself and Falkreath. She pointed to a closed door "there. It is simple, but it should suffice."
     
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  3. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    Orien almost missed a step as he turned to see the robed man, Caleb, watching from not far away. The argument from the night before came back to him and he readied himself for another. Instead the man said "are you well? You seem...shaken." The legionnaire masked his surprise. "I am well enough." He resisted the urge to glance over his shoulder, towards the Confessor, who had resumed his tirade. "Come. Let's join the others at the inn. I'm sure they are wondering about us."
     
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  4. Rafen

    Rafen Well-Known Member

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    Caleb reached out and grabbed the imperials arm, stopping him. "In a moment.." He said, "Orien, I have not been fair to you. I have treated you as just another soldier of the empire. But earlier, in the forest, you could have let me die, and you didn't." He worked his jaw silently for a moment, but holding a grudge against a single imperial battlemage would accomplish nothing. The man might support the empire, but he wasn't responsible for the atrocities it had committed. "I owe you an apology."
     
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  5. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    Elrasur accompanied the mercenary captain, Thalien, to the jarls longhouse, with three others, the breton knight and the silent, hooded man who never seemed to stray far from their leaders' side. Finally was the pale imperial, who'd taken it upon himself to interrogate the prisoner they'd taken after the battle. As an assassin, Elrasur had done all manner of unsavoury things, none of which he was proud of.

    The torture of an unarmed man would have been horrific in any other circumstances, and the dunmer was no advocate of it, but it had yielded some results. Besides, the man had been a bandit, fully intending to kill Elrasur and his comrades, before the fortunes of battle had turned against him. Right or wrong, it was done now.

    He followed the others into the longhouse, only half listening to the conversation between the mercenary and the jarl. His attention was snapped to Thalien just as the man collapsed. His bodyguard leapt into action just as the guards started forwards at the jarls surprised cry. "What evil have you brought into my home, fool!?"

    "Wait a moment, I beg!" Elrasur shouted over the commotion. "He is merely unconcious, not under some spell, I believe." The jarl eyed them suspiciously, but gave in and allowed them to move the unconcious and mumbling Thalien to an empty room. He turned to the hooded bodyguard. "I think it's time you told us what ails your friend. For all our sakes."
     
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  6. Screeching Spasmodically

    Screeching Spasmodically Spasmodic Screecher

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    Lilliana was cold.Freezing in fact, not that any of the others seemed to notice the light rain that had replaced the snow from earlier. It really didn't help that she'd spent however long uncoscious in the snow. Her robes were soaked and her clothes underneath weren't faring that well either. With chattering teeth, she tugged at Adalia's sleeve. The redguard was preoccupied glaring at a pair of imperial soldiers who were watching her with undisguised interest. A thrill of fear, her own fear, this time, raced down her spine as she realized the reason for their scrutiny. Lilliana's curse was hidden from all but a few. And those few were all part of the mercenary group she'd found herself stuck with. Stuck? Was that the right word? They had more or less accepted her without question, and Adalia at least was willing to risk her own skin to protect her. Even the deaf elf, who had accused her at first didn't seem hostile. No, she decided, she was as much a member of the mercenary party group as anyone else, even if she couldn't swing a sword or cast a spell like them.

    Adalia barely registered the urgent tugging on her robe, so focused she was on the pair of imperials. The soldiers were eyeing her, or more precisely, her robes with growing suspicion. She knew mages had never been common in Skyrim. Not in her lifetime anyways. Probably not in her parents lifetime. Or their parents. When it finally dawned on her that Lilliana was at her side and quietly begging her to come inside the tavern, the soldiers had started to walk their way. The redguard cursed under her breath. Even if she shed the robes, her complexion would give her away. She turned towards the tavern, taking Lilliana's hand and pulling her along. As fortune would have it, the door to the place opened and a group of nords half stumbled out. Ducking their heads, the two women managed to slip through the crowd and into the common room of the tavern."What if they follow us in here?" Whispered the young imperial. "They won't." Adalia whispered back, but with little conviction. She didn't know what she would do if they were cornered in the tavern. Fighting their way out didn't seem like a good option.
     
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  7. Drahkma

    Drahkma Dashing Imperial Officer.

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    Kyros had been content to remain well back and watch the discussion between the mercenary captain and the jarl of the hold,when the man suddenly began spouting gibberish, and collapsed. The jarl shouted in surprise, the guards stepped forwards, unsure whether to assist or attack, and the pale handed dunmer stepped forwards with the hooded human, protecting their fallen leader. The vampire knights' eyes narrowed. The fit did not seem natural, nor did it seem like it was intentionally brought on by Thalien. That alone set alarm bells ringing in the back of the knights' head. If, as it seemed, the man was plagued by some unknown force, he may not have been making decisions on his own.

    The bodyguard, with the help of one of the guards, dragged the semi-concious human to the room donated by the jarl. With an idea forming in his head, Kyros followed, stepping into the room and stepping to the side of the simple bed their captain had been dumped into. He still murmured under his breath, and Kyros' lip curled. How weak could one be to let themselves be influenced by magics? He quickly turned away from the man, so that his disdain would not be apparent.

    "You should rejoin the others. That dunmer wants an explanation, but I do not trust the jarl or her guards farther than I can throw them." He nodded towards the door, "go and let the others know what's happened. I will stand guard." With that said, he leaned against the wall nearest the bed, where he was able to keep an eye on Thalien and the doorway. When the others left, he fully planned to put their captain to task for hiding his...affliction.
     
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  8. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    Orien stared at the man, surprised by the apology. Granted, he hadn't known Caleb for long, and for the short time that he had, they hadn't been able to agree on much. The battlemage shook his head "there is no apology needed. I realise not everyone supports the empire. But it has been my whole life. My family has fought for the empire for generations, and there are good people along with the bad. " He glanced up at the grey sky, then around at the miserable townsfolk. "But I think this is not the time or place for such a conversation." He nodded towards the tavern, the sign swaying gently in the breeze. Orien noticed several hostile stares leveled his way as the crowds dispersed to their homes or about their business. "I don't think it is a very good idea to be kept away from the rest of our group for much longer."
     
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  9. Harkatti

    Harkatti Sorceress Supreme!

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    Elwyn took a seat near enough to the fire, so that her hair and clothing could dry. At the same time, she made sure to sit in a way that she could see everyone in the tavern, while keeping an eye on the door. One unpleasant surprise was enough for the day. A quick glance at the people inside the tavern told her there was no chance of blending with the crowd. Even among her companions, an elven woman in crimson armour tended to draw the eye. Her brief perusal also told her there was no obvious threat inside, besides her fellow mercenaries. Whom she was fairly certain she couldn't trust, but they needed each other. At least until their job was done.

    The swung open, allowing the redguard woman in the multi coloured robes and the younger imperial girl inside. Elwyn was still trying to figure out how the pair fit together. The redguard seemed to dote on the girl like a mother would. Yet, the two looked nothing alike. More pressingly, both looked worried and were speaking in low,urgent tones. The pair had barely made it a couple of steps inside when the door opened once again. This time, it was a pair of imperial legionnaires that stepped inside. The robed pair disappeared into the crowded tavern, but like Elwyn, they would stick out. Especially to people looking for them. She doubted the locals would bother helping, and the others either hadn't noticed or didn't care.

    Normally, Elwyn wouldn't have gotten involved, but they two might be useful to the group along the road. With a whispered curse, the altmer left her seat and approached. The imperials were certainly on guard. She was still at least three paces from sword range when they turned to stare at her. "Be about your business, elf." One barked, already turning away from her. The other was not so quick to dismiss her. He looked her up and down, then tapped his friend on the arm.

    "Isn't that dominion gear?"


    The first guard, the one who'd spoken, turned back, looked at her armour, and scowled. "What are you, the worlds worst spy? Wearing that is begging for a meeting with the headsmans' axe."

    Having succesfully caught their attention, Elwyn threw on her most disdainful expression. "Typical uncultured human. Of course you rely on threatening passerby to make yourself feel powerful. Why ever would I walk up to a pair of guards, dressed like this, if I were a spy?"

    The legionnaires scowled, and the first one, looking a little older, said "my pa used to say elves had more arrogance than sense. Looks like you're no exception. What say we drag you to the prison and see what you know?" Elwyn paused, silently cursing her lack of caution. She realized that she not only had drawn the attention of the guard, she'd all but switched places with the two women.
     
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  10. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    "Damn this rain" growled Iornath, pulling his cloak closer around himself and shooting a semi-murderous glare at his companion. Hooded like the bosmer beside him, Rajeem chuckled dryly. The argonian didn't mind the rain but the cold was getting to him. Already his fingers felt stiff and his tail more like a weight than a balance. He didn't fancy his odds, if it came to a fight. "What are you so happy about?" The miserable ranger snapped at the bounty hunter. "You can't find this place any more welcoming than I do." That, at least, was true. Suspicious, if not outright hostile glances came their way every dozen paces or so.

    The pair had decided to gather supplies for the next leg of their journey. Or rather, Iornath had needed supplies, and Rajeem had invited himself along. "Welcoming? No. But at least no one's drawn a blade on us."

    "Yet" added the elf, eyeing a group of nord passerby, who glared right back.

    "Yet." Rajeem agreed, "might be a good idea to get out of the rain and join back up with the others, eh?"

    "That might be the first good idea I've heard from you all day. Come, I think the inn's this way." Iornath lead the way, avoiding guards and red armoured legionnaires as much as possible. The inn beckoned, a lantern illuminating the sign that read 'dead mans' drink. The unlikely pair, argonian and bosmer made their way to the door, eager for a warm meal and a dry place to sleep. The instant he stepped in the door, Iornath hissed a curse.

    It only took Rajeem a moment to see why. A pair of imperial soldiers stood in front, glaring at the elven woman in crimson. A quick look at her face told the clever hunter that things were not going as well as she'd hoped. "What's this then? You boys don't have anything better to do than bother one of the emperors' hired mercenaries? Or are you out and about looking to cause trouble." Rajeem deliberately placed his hand on hilt of his falchion. "Personally, I don't recommend it."
     
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  11. Harkatti

    Harkatti Sorceress Supreme!

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    Suddenly outnumbered and outmanuevered, with no way of getting help, the two imperials suddenly looked a lot less confident. Even less so when the argonian mentioned that they were currently bothering imperial mercenaries. They glanced around the tavern, no doubt seeking their quarry once more, before the younger man nudged his companion. "Keep yourself out of trouble, then." The younger soldier said, and left the tavern. The older soldier glared daggers at all three of them before following in his comrade outside. Elwyn let out a breath of relief as the door shut behind him. She turned to the two members of her group. "Thank you. That was too close." Then she picked her way through the crowd, to the pair of women. "They've gone. But I would be careful in the future. I'm sure they'll let their comrades know there are unregistered mages in town."
     
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  12. Madrar

    Madrar The Shadow in the Dark.

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    After Joren got Thalien situated with the help of those that had accompanied them, he left the room, and felt a hand on his shoulder. He spun, free hand going to one of the daggers on his belt, and as his hand closed around the hilt, he recognized the dark elf. Jorens' eyes narrowed at the elfs' words. "What ails him is none of your concern. You would do well to remember that." He said, keeping his tone soft, but there was a definite threat that accompanied the words. He had been about to station himself on guard outside the room until Thaliens' fit passed, when the pale knight approached. The breton offered to stand guard while Joren returned to the tavern and briefed the others. At first, he hesitated. Trusting his friends' life to the knight seemed foolish, but he so far had shown no desire to betray them or take the leadership from Thalien. Slowly, Joren nodded his agreement "I will do that. But it is on your head if anything happens to him."

    He left the longhouse of the jarl and strode through the muddied roads, finding the tavern easily enough. Pushing inside, he ignored the stares of the regular nord patrons and made his way to the greatest cluster of mercenaries. Keeping his voice pitched low, he reported "Thalien is...incapacitated. Purchase lodgings for yourself here, and be prepared to stay for some time." At this, he caught Varr'Hess' gaze and nodded ever so slightly. The old khajiit would keep his mouth shut, and keep the others from prying too much into Thaliens' condition. The others might eventually learn of the visions that plagued his friend, but not from his mouth.
     
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  13. Screeching Spasmodically

    Screeching Spasmodically Spasmodic Screecher

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    Adalia left Lilliana at a table farthest from the door. "Stay here, just until I've made sure it's safe." She had heard snatches of conversation from the entrance, and seen the red uniforms of the imperials. She quietly made her way through the crowd, just in time to see the pair leaving in a huff. The wood elf ranger, the high elf in crimson and the one horned argonian stood in their place. Approaching, she saw the high elf in crimson armour coming towards her, seeming rattled, but quickly regaining her composure. "Thank you. That was a risk that you didn't have to take. Believe me, we will be much more cautious in the future. I had almost forgotten this is still the empire."
     
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  14. Rafen

    Rafen Well-Known Member

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    For one of the few times since they'd traveled together, Caleb was struck speechless by the imperials' words. The man was unlike any imperial he had come across, and he had met quite a few. Instead of pressing the man, he simply nodded, humbled and looked through the veil of thinning rain. If he remembered right, the inn should have been close to the gate they'd come in from. After a few moments of searching, he noticed the inns' sign, swinging in a gentle breeze. "There" he pointed the building out to his companion, and started making his way towards it, suddenly eager for the warmth and food it promised.

    He was still a few metres away when the door opened and a pair of angry looking imperial legionnaires stomped out. Caleb stopped dead in the street, holding his breath. The soldiers marched past without so much as a sideways glance, and the former mercenary rushed inside. Adalia was there, as well as the rest of the mercenary band he'd fallen in with. Minus those who'd gone to speak with the jarl earlier. He walked over to Adalia, who had just finished speaking with the red armoured elf woman. "What happened? Were those imperials here for you?"
     
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  15. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Uzar made his way into the inn with the others, fighting to keep his hands from trembling and his breathing even. The fight had done much to calm his nerves, but already he could feel the urge for violence gnawing at him. He clenched his fists to still the shaking, and shoved his way through the crowd, seeking an isolated place. Some of the nords in the tavern turned angrily at his passage, but their protests and insults died on their lips. Even when relatively calm, Uzar was not the type most wanted to tangle with. He ignored their stares and sat at a table facing the door. He doubted any violence would break out. After all, this was still an imperial town. With a heavy sigh, he waved the bar maid over. "G-get you something, sir?" She stammered. "Ale. Meat." He grunted, slamming a dozen or so coins on the dirty wood of the table. He meant her no harm, but his curse had all but stripped away the finer points of conversation. She snatched the coins up and retreated. Her return was equally fast, as she deposited a tankard of ale and a plate of steaming beef before him. He growled something that could generously be thought of as a 'thank you' and began to eat.
     
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  16. fellowknight

    fellowknight Devil Of The Details

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    ((Again, I apologize for the mini-novel ahead. You can skip to the end to see how it goes.))

    Through the deathly ambience of Falkreath, children alike prowled the streets as they tirelessly foraged what they could from those sleeping, or dead. One boy, however, did stop long enough to spot two more newcomers approaching the open gate, a man leaning on a woman. He shuffled behind a vacant barrel as the pair were halted by the guards and engaged in conversation, with the foreign girl leading. He couldn’t hear most of what they were saying, but he did get a closer look at the strangers; An older man, marred with fresh cuts and lumpy bruises, leaned on a younger Dunmer girl at his side, smeared in blood that wasn’t hers as she struggled to keep her companion upright. After the strenuous exchange, one of the guards shoved a thumb towards Dead Man’s Drink, and the couple hobbled through the gates together. The boy said nothing as they passed on their way to the tavern, evaded a pair of imperial soldiers, and quickly slipped inside.

    Two hours earlier..

    “Don’t @$#%ing touch me stupid #$@&%*. Back off ..” Karsan shoved the bearded nord but it did little to move the man away. It seemed the Nine built them all the same: dense, in every aspect. Morva glanced warily at the stalwart nords as they circled her and Karsan, rummaging through their packs and taking what they pleased. That reminiscent tingle danced its way up her spine and she feared she’d have to do it again, but she wasn’t ready.

    The nords went on about “imperial dogs” they’d fought and lost to, with emphasis on avenging their own. They knew the group was in Falkreath, and they wanted information. Of course, Karsan was aware of the ”dogs” as he’d caught their trail in Bruma only to lose it just after the Pale Pass. Now, kneeled in the cold with few options, his journey to High Rock was looking more and more like a death-sentence.


    Blood splotched on the tavern’s welcome mat as Karsan and Morva entered, doing their best to ignore the hard glances from strangers. Since Imperials were in town, the two split up shortly after they arrived to avoid suspicion given their relationships with the Empire. Morva went off towards the rooms to set up their stuff, curiously glimpsing the robed mages and their friends, while Karsan quietly claimed a seat at the bar and groggily called for the proprietor, a balding man wiping out pewter mugs. He'd seen the mercenaries in his peripherals, but they'd have to wait. He was dying to eat and get off his feet.

    “..Welcome to Dead Man’s Drink. What are you having?” The barkeep greeted Karsan flatly with a glance at the blood-trail, and unceremoniously added on. “If you plan on painting my floor, that’ll be extra. And If you plan on dying, please do it outside.“

    “Don't need to. There’s enough death to go around, old #@$%..” Karsan glared at the slightly older man and went on after a pained sigh. “A room and hot food, cheapest you have, but don’t cook it cheap. A tankard of mead, too— no, wine. And two wash-bins of water: one hot, one cool. Does this armpit has spice pouches, or lavender?“

    “No. We don’t have any wash-bins, or ‘spice pouches’. All we have are buckets and tankards; you can get two buckets at the same cost as three tankards, but I’m only charging for the water. And we make food as we get it—“ He stopped as Karsan abruptly stood and dropped a pouch of septims on the counter, mumbling irritated curses to himself as he went to find Morva in one of the rooms. She closed the door behind him, but peeked in case the soldiers came back. When they didn’t, she released a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.

    “We’re wasting our time with these loyal mutts. Put them down..”

    Karsan rubbed his bruised jaw as a tattooed Nord stood on his chest and angled her sword for the death blow. One of them knocked Morva over the head and raised his axe, but froze. A union of horror and realization creased his features, and others started to recognize the writhing mark too. A stamp of registered mages, better known as Imperial witches.

    He stooped lower and yanked the girl up by her hair to present her to a chubby nord, presumably the leader. No one said anything, but Karsan knew they’d take Morva for themselves, so he started to stir ever so slowly.There were too many of them to fight clean. He couldn't, but.. he had to.

    “By Talos.. we’ve got a damn mage on our hands! Ha! You’ll have to tell the lads what you did to piss off the Empire, after you put those lips on-- AAGGHH!” The tattooed woman screamed as Karsan shoved a dagger in her thigh with a growl, then rose to bury it in her ribs, and finally her throat. He took her blade as she slipped to the snow, retching up her own blood.

    Morva took her chance and struck her captor’s temple before a swift boot brought him to his knees. As he doubled over, she speared him through the back with his own greatsword and barred it against the others, teeth gritted. The two shared a glance, before the other nords realized what happened and roused a brutal response.


    Karsan peered down into the buckets of murky water with apprehension and disgust, as he rinsed himself off and dunked the rag again. From his visit months prior, he knew very well what condition Skyrim was in, but he also hoped the Empire would tame tame those conditions. If the bandits in the woods, or the corpses strewn about the town, or the cutthroats outside were a sign of anything, it was how desperate the 'great beast' had grown.

    But still.. the ‘welcoming party’ led him to wonder why feral bandits had access to refined metals like steel and silver, all in good condition. They’d never get their hands on it under the Empire’s nose, and they didn’t seem bright enough to steal it outright, let alone forge it themselves. Perhaps the “dogs” had answers.

    He winced suddenly as Morva gingerly wiped a cut at his waist and reached over to slap her hand away, but she instinctively danced to the other side of him. He grumbled something about feeding her to the bandits, and went back to washing her sides. She glared up at him as she scrubbed dried blood on his jaw, but caught his eyes instead. They were soft and searching, just for a fleeting moment, but she saw a man from four years ago. Someone she loved. Karsan immediately shied from her gaze by wiping nasty gash on her shoulder, disregarding her protests with a simple grunt.

    “Get that stitched up, hm? If rot sets in, you may as well lay up with the others outside.”

    Karsan jumped back to avoid being cut in half but he was slow, and the axe of a white-haired nord carved a line of red on his chest. He sucked his teeth and tried to keep moving, but they were swarming him, and closing in fast. His sword whipped across the stomach of a tall nord, and immediately turned to impale another, kicking the dying man off his sword. Maybe the muddy valley wouldn’t be his grave after all. But as an arrow lanced through his shoulder and robbed the air from his lungs, he realized his optimism was misplaced. He faltered to a knee and cradled the wound, vision blurring with red tint, when a fist to the back of his skull took him down for good.

    Morva fended for herself as a large nord lunged for her, axe bearing down for her neck but she side-stepped and sheared off the top of his head. Another stomped to her and brought his sword down in an over-head grip, and Morva heaved the great-sword up to deflect. The weight and timing weren’t on her side, however, as the man’s sword clashed with hers and bit into the flesh of her shoulder.


    Morva backed away from the window as she heard the heavy footsteps of soldiers on patrol, doing their rounds or looking for trouble. They had to be careful now, perhaps moreso than in Cyrodiil. Even though the Empire grew like a cancer, they wouldn’t let their guard down. Morva knew that for sure. She made sure her bandanna was secure and turned to Karsan, struggling with his tunic. She couldn’t help but smile as the middle-aged man fussed with the tiny straps and buttons, cursing violently at no one in particular.

    When Morva appeared at his side, His twisted features flinched, and he begrudgingly moved his arms to let her work. Her nimble hands made short work of the loops and straps, and she stood back to admire her work, or to gloat in silence. Karsan didn’t care which. He’d had a long day, and rest was an expensive harlot he could no longer afford. Now that he was stitched up, he needed to be out there, watching for changes, sizing them up before he revealed himself. He was getting too old to play risks, sure, but older still to sit on his hands and die waiting.

    But as he shifted his weight to stand, a gentle touch on his jaw distracted him. He peered up, into Morva’s waiting eyes. They shared the deafening silence for a minute, and spoke volumes through it. The corner of Karsan’s lip twitched, almost a smile, and Morva tilted her head. Where had that gone, after all this time? Without a word, she leaned in with her hair draping around her face, locking lips with the man. But he briskly pulled away and brushed past her, smearing his lips on his forearm.

    “No, goddamnit! No.. That’s over, get it? You can toy with anybody’s mind, but mine..” He sighed deeply and went for the door.

    “I don’t toy. I show you..” She muttered something in her native tongue, trying to find the words. As she always did. “We might be more, better. Things are different now, cold and.. I miss--”

    “Stop. Just.. ****ing stop. We're 'this' #$@&%*ing close, so stop cloud-watching!" He opened the door and partly stepped out, talking without looking back. "Plate’s not that big, and we need to reserve some coin so.. I’ll save you half.” The door creaked on it hinges and slammed, Morva wincing as Karsan left.

    Morva winced and managed to thrust the sword off her own and slashed outwards, splitting the man’s chest. Arterial spray showered her face and armor, distraction enough for someone to tackle her down and pin her. A pair of hands straddled her throat and choked her of precious life, as the chubby nord’s face came into view.

    “S-Stupid little bitch! I’ll have you chained up for weeks..” Her hands pinched and grasped his face, pulling his beard and trying to gouge his eyes. But it was no use. “We’ll make you beg for death, imperial #$@&%*!” Morva’s vision darkened as she lost the ability to breathe. But a gnawing pressure had welted in her chest and drained to her fingertips, numbing the skin as chaos begged for release. On the brim of death and detonation, the girl slowly surrendered her will to resist as the world threatened to fade for good. Finally, the former acolyte could hold back no longer, and unleashed the frenzied magika with a prolonged, cutting scream.

    For a few moments, nothing happened, but quite suddenly, the crowd of bandits turned in on itself and they ravaged each other. Most attacked each other out right, cutting down comrades only to be cut down themselves, dwindling their own numbers. Some fled into the woods to escape their rabid companions, but perished all the same, tired and betrayed.

    Deliriously winded, Morva made her way to a concussed Karsan and pulled him from under one of the many dead men around him. Three arrows poked from the bandit's back, clear signs that his companions had turned on him. They’d planned to beat the blacksmith to death, and nearly succeeded. Together, the pair clumsily gathered their things and left the carnage behind, limping for Falkreath.


    Karsan and Morva had practically cleaned the plate when the pale-skinned, dark-eyed stranger came in and approached the other mercenaries pointedly. They didn’t hear most of what the man had to say, only that he mentioned someone named Thalien, and something about purchasing rooms. It was likely he was naming their leader, and that a situation would force them to stay longer but it was impossible to be sure. What was clear was that the mercenaries weren’t going anywhere soon, and this was likely Karsan's only chance to introduce himself to someone in charge. Naturally, that is. Hide-n-seek was another childish game he’d outgrown.

    As the mercenaries responded, Karsan shambled over to the announcer and stood back a few feet, favoring his uninjured leg. His right hand rested on the head of his hatchet, ready but wary to draw it should anything happen. Due in no small part to the varying killers around him, one fight had sated him for a day.

    “I take it you and your… company, will be staying a while longer?” He didn’t linger for a response, and quickly introduced himself. “Karsan. And my companion,” He gestured to Morva, who nursed their tankard of wine. “If you’re really going to High Rock, I think I’ll be joining you, so there’s no use in playing stalker. Safety in numbers, blades to spare, the like.” He’d considered sharing his encounter with the brain-dead bandits and their stupid quest for revenge. But in an Imperial Skyrim, he figured they'd run out of places to hide sooner or later.
     
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  17. Screeching Spasmodically

    Screeching Spasmodically Spasmodic Screecher

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    Caleb rushed into the inn, the concern clear on his face. He spotted Adalia and quickly moved over to her. His anxiousness was so tangible that she almost missed the bloodied man and the dark elf woman that entered soon after. She raised a hand in a soothing motion, trying to avoid drawing any more attention than they already had. "Not so loud, but yes, I think they were." She nodded towards the two elves and the argonian. "If not for them, I think we would have been dragged off by a pack of confessors." She shuddered at the thought, then nodded to where Orien was going about his own business. "I see you two didn't kill each other. Have you come to some sort of understanding at least?"

    At the other side of the inn, Lilliana stared at her hands, studiously ignoring the goings on. The swilrl of emotions in the Dead Mans' Drink had her stomach in knots. She glanced up to see the large orc whose name she wasn't sure of, take a seat alone at one of the tables. He didn't look like the type to make conversation, but the scribe needed something to take her mind off her roiling stomach. "H-hello?" She awkwardly waved a hand at him from the other side of the table. "I...I hope you don't mind if I sit here? I won't bother you, if you don't want to talk." She took out her quill, journal, and inkwell. "My name is Lilliana."
     
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  18. The Seraph

    The Seraph When the Dawn Breaks, I shall be there

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    Sylandres quietly slipped into the Dead Man's Drink, and occupied a nondescript corner. This town, this Falkreath, was a derelict shanty, barely hanging on in the husk of Imperial occupation. He had sneaked past the Confessers, who were too busy accosting the others. It seems that situation has been resolved, fortunately. As the others filled up the inn, Sylandres noticed two people by themselves. A man, older and brash looking and a Dunmer girl, who looked weary to him. The man seemed angry but not at anything in particular. They retreated to their room before shortly exiting. They seemed dangerous as Sylandres' instincts creeped up. Whether that dangerous was better in their path or besides it was the question that popped into his head. As the man left to commune with the leader of the band, Sylandres quietly got up and shuffled over to the Dunmer woman. She had not noticed him sit beside her and only did so after he scribbled down a greeting and passed it to her. Hello there. My name is Sylandres and I am with that group your compatriot went to greet. Who might you be?
     
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  19. Thesius

    Thesius The Imperial Paladin

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    Vintor sat quietly with his helmet resting on the bench beside him, taking in those who entered and left the tavern. Covered in plate mail as he was, he hardly made an inconspicous figure, but the armour also served to warn off anyone looking to initiate conversation. He sipped from a goblet of wine every few moments.

    It was by no means a good wine, but it was passable. Besides, he had no intent of getting drunk. Thalien and the few he'd chosen to accompany him to the jarls' place had yet to return. Others were trickling in, often in pairs. The imperial battle mage and robed nord, the bitter bosmer and his singular horned partner that never seemed far from his side.

    He watched the confrontation with the legionnairres with some mild amusement. It was clear that while the empire was cracking down on 'heretical' beliefs, they were somewhat lax in other manners of governance. Moments later, the former paladin noticed Joren enter, his dark cloak dripping rain water.

    He spoke briefly to the few of the company that were nearby, though about what, Vintor could not tell. As Thaliens' bodyguard went to take a seat, a newcomer, one Vintor had originally mistaken as a local, confronted him. Again, he was too far to hear what was said, but it did not seem hostile.

    Looking around more carefully, he noticed a dunmer woman also watching the conversation. She seemed skittish, as if anticipating trouble more than the rest of those in the building were. "Interesting." Vintor murmured to himself, hiding the movement of lips with a raised goblet.
     
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  20. Madrar

    Madrar The Shadow in the Dark.

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    Joren had been about to take a seat when a man, lacking an arm and looking more than a little beat up, stepped into his path. Immediately, the assassin's eyes narrowed. The man clearly wasn't a local, and his first assumption was that he had been with the bandits, perhaps an informant, passing on news of travelers and merchants on the road to and from Falkreath.

    Until, of course, the man mentioned that he knew they were headed to High Rock. Jorens' eyes narrowed further, and his typically dour appearance became downright murderous. It was no secret of course that the mercenary group was headed to High Rock, but they hadn't exactly been shouting it to any they passed on the road.

    "You're very well informed for a..." he took in the mans' admittedly functional looking attire. "A whatever you are. Someone will inform you and your companion when we are leaving."


    Thalien lay in the throes of his vision, corpse still except for when he twitched or shouted to response to what he saw. Doors, bronze or perhaps gold, but fouled with dark sigils and thick growths. Something stirring in the dark, but also ready to give them answers, should they pay a price. Something beyond the doors that could lead them to the heart of Skyrims' new rebellion, if they so chose.

    He woke with a gasp, the afterimage of a dozen slitted pupils staring down at him burned into his mind. After he'd gotten his breathing under control, he realized that he was not the sole occupant of the group. He looked over to see the large breton knight next to the bed. "You have questions, I imagine." Thalien managed to croak through a throat that felt as dry as the Alikr desert.
     
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