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Private {18+} Ascension

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

  1. Madrar

    Madrar The Shadow in the Dark.

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    Thalien lead the reduced company of mercenaries out of Falkreath, onto the road bound for Markarth. Tallpine trees stretched up like sentinels, watching their progress. A light fog hovered over the ground, obscuring it, and pale grey clouds drifted on by overhead. As the company marched towards the border of the Reach, it became obvious they were not the only ones on the road. Columns of imperial legionnaires, local levies, and surprisingly, a few merchant caravans passed them by. The merchants were headed south, towards Pale Pass, and the more civilized parts of the empire. It was one such caravan that stopped upon seeing Thalien and the others. The lead driver called for a halt and waved to the half-nord.

    Frowning, Thalien lifted his arm in greeting, wondering what the man wanted. If he was seeking to hire them as guards back to Cyrodiil, he was going to be disappointed. "Good morning!" the man called out as he approached the mercs. "Or, at least as good as it gets in this miserable province, eh?"

    Cautiously, he nodded, "something I can help you with, friend?"


    "Oh no. Well, that is, I was wondering if you're headed towards Markarth." The merchant asked, passing an eye over the assembled warriors and mages.

    "Looks like it. Unless this road leads somewhere other than the Reach." Thalien responded, his patience growing thin. It was hard enough making progress on foot. Stopping to chat with merchants would only delay them further.

    "Then I should pass on a warning a friend of mine gave to me. One traveler to another: Beware the forsworn. There's been a huge jump in caravan raids and even attacking legion camps. I'm not risking my goods. We'll find somewhere else to sell them."

    Thalien frowned, and thanked the man for his warning, before sending him on his way. The news of Forsworn in the Reach was troubling, but not unexpected. Growing up in High Rock, he'd heard stories of the men who consorted with half-bird half-hag creatures in western Skyrim. He'd never met any himself, and he would have thought that the empire would have wiped the scattered savages off the map already. "This just keeps getting better and better." He looked over his shoulder, to the perpetually scowling wood elf. "We're still a couple days march from the Reach. Once we get there, I'd ask you to scout ahead of us, and warn us of any surprises lurking in the hills."
     
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  2. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    The mercenary group split up in the morning, with a small handful headed out to some imperial outpost near the city of Solitude. Iornath didn't pretend to care, instead joining the others as they left the gloomy town of Falkreath behind and made their way west, towards the Reach and High Rock. They were well under way when a merchant headed in the opposite direction flagged down Thalien. The wood elf ignored the conversation in favour of keeping an eye on their surroundings. He didn't intend to be caught by surprise by another band of rebels again. So he was surprised when their leader walked up to him. The elf listened to his concerns, and nodded once. He was not familiar with the forsworn, or whatever conflict they had with the empire. At the same time, they sounded little different than the bandit horde that had attacked outside of the Pale Pass. "My eyes are yours" he agreed quietly.
     
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  3. Morbidbread

    Morbidbread Fight for the lost

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    The dawn came and with it, the mercenary company, those that had not departed earlier, made for the road. Soon they were out of the miserable remnant of civilization that was Falkreath, and headed towards the Reach. From there, as Elrasur understood it, they would make for the city of Markarth, and beyond that, High Rock. Elrasur did not relish the thought of completing their task, but he had already come to terms with it. So, he took the opportunity to enjoy the quiet morning march, in the foggy and damp forest of Falkreath hold. The rain had come to a stop, for the most part, though the sun had yet to make an appearance.

    The morning quiet was broken as they troop came across a rather large merchant caravan, headed the opposite direction. The former assassin frowned as he watched them pass by. Most, if not all of their wagons were filled with goods, yet the merchants seemed to be imperial. One of the merchants, apparently their leader, hopped down from his own carriage and met with Thalien. The two spoke for a few moments, before the mercenary and merchant went their seperate ways. It was not long after that he spotted the breton talking to the bosmer ranger. The elf that seemed to have a perpetual scowl on his pale features. Though he was not trying to eavesdrop, he did pick up the word 'forsworn'.

    The elf said something back, then moved off on his own, as was customary, it seemed. Elrasur, curiousity piqued, caught up to Thalien. "I do not mean to pry, but I could not help but overhear. Do you think these 'forsworn' will pose a threat to us?" The question was innocent enough. He had not survived as long as he had by going into confrontations under prepared, and he was not about to start now that he was part of a group. "Should we perhaps take an alternate route to our destination?"
     
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  4. Rafen

    Rafen Well-Known Member

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    Caleb breathed in the cool, damp morning air, even as they walked along the old road, crossing paths with a caravan that had been scared off by marauding forsworn in the reach. The healer paid little attention to the conversation that occurred between Thalien and the head merchant. Instead he fell back to the redguard and the imperial girl.

    To Lilliana, he said "we are entering the dangerous wilderness of what remains of Skyrim." His eyes drifted towards the caravaneers and an idea came to him. "If you think this is too much, that you would rather make your way back to the empire, you could join the caravans. It would be safer than coming with us, to be sure."
     
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  5. Screeching Spasmodically

    Screeching Spasmodically Spasmodic Screecher

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    Lilliana frowned at Caleb "what are you saying? That you don't think I can keep up with you? Or that I'd just be a hindrance?" Adalia laid a hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort the girl. She frowned fiercely at Caleb, wondering what he was playing at. The girl was obviously troubled from her conversation with the masked human, "he's not saying that, dear. Are you, Caleb?" She looked back at Caleb with unmistakable challenge in her eyes. If he thought she was just going to abandon Lilliana, he was going to have a surprise. "Caleb, I'm not leaving. I know I can't fight or survive outside, but I'm not going to just abandon you." She fixed him with her most stubborn glare.
     
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  6. Drahkma

    Drahkma Dashing Imperial Officer.

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    The castle was definitely more than a mere outpost, not matter what some imperial legate said. Kyros eyed the keep with a cold gleam to his eye, as his fist closed around Razors' hilt. Noting that the others were still lurking on the shore, all waiting for the other to make the first move, the vampiric knight sighed in disgusted exasperation. "Well come on then. We've not that much time to waste."

    With that, he stormed across the slightly arced bridge to the gatehouse. The portcullis was raised, surprisingly and it gave the knight pause. He was by no means a coward, but he knew a trap when he saw one. He glanced over his shoulder, then, with a determined grunt, stepped inside the gatehouse, to the tall iron work doors themselves. They were not barred and swung open on well oiled hinges.

    Now Kyros' guard was up. It was unlikely, to say the least, that the gatehouse would be unmanned, the gates unbarred, and no sign of the garrison. For the doors to be in good working order and no signs of violence screamed ambush. He peered inside, but his dark vision only extended so far. With a frustrated snarl, he turned back to wait for his companions.
     
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    #286 Drahkma, Jun 10, 2020
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  7. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    Orien followed the others as they parted ways with the dour man in full plate, the khajiit and the elf, and several others, destined for some other task. The bulk of the mercenaries, Orien included, headed off towards the Reach, and he soon found himself joining Elrasur and Thalien at the head of the column. The half-nord and dunmer were currently engaged in conversation about the threat represented by forsworn raiders.

    The fifth legion had come across them multiple times, Orien recalled. Though the battles had been minor skirmishes for the most part, the forsworn were masters of ambushes, especially in their home terrain. "They won't pose much of a fight if we know they're there." he said to the dark elf. "Forsworn prefer ambushes and they'll run if they think their targets can put up a proper fight."
     
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  8. Harkatti

    Harkatti Sorceress Supreme!

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    Cyrius lurked near Thalien, keen eyes scanning the fog for threats. He wasn't nearly as loyal as their captain might or might not have believed, but he certainly wasn't about to confirm any suspicions. Besides, Thalien seemed like the best bet for keeping their group of cutthroats pointed at a singular goal. For now, keeping him alive was in Cyrius' best interest. He eavesdropped on the conversation between the white-handed elf, Elrasur, he thought his name was, and the captain. The imperial battlemage joined them, pointing out that forsworn were cowards who preferred ambushes to actual battle. It seemed only Cyrius saw the flaw in that plan. "That's assuming we will see them. I'd rather not wait for an arrow in the back to tell me we're under attack. One ambush in this blasted wasteland is enough, thank you."


    Elwyn craned her neck to look at the topmost tower of the castle they were approaching. It seemed the legate had somewhat understated the size of the outpost. The big breton knight, looking contemptous as always, lead the way, crossing the bridge without a backwards looks. "I suppose he has the right idea," the former justiciar said to no one in particular. The gargoyle statuary leered down at her as she crossed the bridge. Stone or not, they were certainly unnerving enough to keep her on guard as she joined the knight. He had paused at the doorway, sword in hand. The darkness beyond was far from inviting and she found herself hesitating. Something felt...wrong about the whole situation. Assuring herself it was just nerves, she gripped the hilt of her blade, waiting for the rest of the group to join her.
     
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  9. Rafen

    Rafen Well-Known Member

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    Caleb stared down at the imperial girl, surprised that she was so determined to stick with the party. She had a valid point of course; she couldn't just return to the empire, and Skyrim was more wasteland than civilization. He was surprised to find that she reminded him so strongly of his former wife. She would have taken him to task for suggesting such a thing just as Lilliana had. Caleb nodded somberly "I am sorry, Lilliana. I misspoke when I suggested leaving you behind, or that you would be happier in the Empire. You are a part of this company, whether for good or ill." The healer placed a hand on her shoulder "sometimes I forget that you aren't as young as you look. I-" he smiled, realizing he'd begun to monologue to her as he apologized. "I am glad that you've decided to stick with us."
     
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  10. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    Athara stepped off the boat, keeping a safe distance from the group of imperial soldiers. Thaliens' little mercenary company might be working for them, and by extension so was she, but that didn't mean she would trust them any more than she usually trusted imperials. Ahead, a castle loomed, shrouded by low hanging clouds and fog. Gargoyles crouched on parapets and were spaced out on the bridge leading to the castle gate. "That's not ominous at all" she muttered to herself, watching the breton knight lead the way. If he wanted to be ambushed by whatever was lurking inside the 'outpost' he was welcome to. She had no plans on being maimed, eaten, or decapitated. Or a combination of all three, knowing that whatever the empire had been doing in the castle, it wasn't something that would benefit people.

    Elwyn passed her, close behind the knight. They paused at the doorway, which made Athara rethink her 'let everyone go ahead of me' tactic. She gently grabbed the altmer womans wrist. "You should let me go first." She reached out and tapped her on the nose, "because I can see in the dark, and you can't" the last bit was said in a teasing tone, but still true. She stepped to the knights' side and peered inside. She could see the first few metres inside, but other than that, darkness was almost as solid as a wall. "Well, we might as well get this over with" she said, not quite able to keep a sigh from escaping.
     
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  11. fellowknight

    fellowknight Devil Of The Details

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    “"..What?..”
    A voice, her own she thought, had whispered in the night with sorrow.
    There was no answer as she drifted back to sleep, in silent tears.

    Forsworn were known animals, Morva mused to herself on the road, a group of crafty skirmishers, sure, with a bad habit of picking fights with the legion. And losing. Even still, she'd positioned herself in the group's center should they fall victim to an ambush; the panic would give her a few seconds of cover. Someone in their group, a scarred imperial, made a good point to be wary of the skirmishers, and another suggested they go a different route altogether.

    Smart, considering they’d be in a territory the Forsworn knew well, not to mention they’d be at the mercy of a high-ground advantage. And the numbers they’d face, with their group halved.. Morva wasn’t in her prime either as the poorly-healed wounds from her last encounter left her magik reserves weak and her mind adrift. Their best bet was to make themselves as little of a target as possible and take up an 'X' formation until they made it through, split up if they had to, to distract their attackers and cover more ground.

    Unless, a voice in her mind chimed. Her head pulsed, and she very suddenly lost her balance.

    Unless..

    Unless we slaughtered them all!, she declared with explosive certainty, with no mercy, and skew them on pikes like rodents! Why bicker? All we have to do is send a decoy on the road, the paper-thin girl would do, and let them lead us to their camp! Oh, then the real fun would begin-- hunting them in the dead of night, mincing bone and carving skin..

    Morva blinked once. Then again, as the world dialed in around her. Her legs were still moving, walking her absently with the others. Her train of thought returned in a trickle as something warm slipped away from her skull. It hadn’t been long, only a few minutes, and it didn’t look like anyone had taken notice. But there was no warning, no usual windup. The blackouts were getting worse..

    She slowly dipped back to the tail-end of the group, and toyed uncertainly with the lining of her bandana. There was a squirming underneath, one she didn’t need to investigate. Not if she wanted to keep her head.

    <<<----->>>

    “Mm.. Go away, Mo-Mo.. Don't need you anymore..”
    He’d slurred, halfway drunk and asleep, and faced away from the girl. She said something as he blacked out.

    Karsan glared up at the monstrous shadow of the fortress, and the looming shroud of unknown it presented. He didn’t give a s***, being perfectly honest, not about any of it. The fact that there was near complete silence within the castle’s walls. That the shadows were everywhere, and had the best vantage points. That he couldn’t see more than two feet down the castle’s throat, and had no idea what lay ahead. He needed answers from this s***hole, and he’d have them, if he had to use everyone here as meat-shields to do it.

    Karsan squinted again, but to no avail. And still, the only way through was dead-ahead. The waiting and bickering, particularly that of the Khajiit, had brought on an itch to his neck, but he knew better than to relieve that invisible rash. He ran a finger along the wedge of his axe, and sighed, forcing himself to take steps into the dark. “F*** it, then.”
     
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  12. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Uzar stomped along the cobbled road, following his...what? Companions? Perhaps that was a suitable word. They were a company of mercenaries, after all, traveling together. They certainly weren't his friends. He'd seen the way they had looked at him. Disgust, fear, and perhaps a little pity. That last, Uzar hated the most. Who were they to pity him? How dare they! He stifled the snarl growing in his chest. Losing control now would be bad. Bad, being a massive understatement. Slowly, he reined in his rage, keeping it to heavy breathing and shaking hands for long moments. Ahead, he heard the pompous imperial, the white handed dark elf, and their 'leader' speaking about ambushers and ambushing. He lengthened his stride, until he was up beside them. "Let them come" he snarled, "I fear no coward who skulks in the shadows."
     
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  13. Thesius

    Thesius The Imperial Paladin

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    Vintor cross the bridge, after the undead knight, and the two women, with the one armed man. The legion soldiers trooped after him, readying torches and drawing swords. He shouldered past the khajiit and the cripple, lighting his own torch. Almost immediately, the darkness seemed to press against it, like a smothering shroud. The former paladin felt something chill crawl across the back of his neck, and readied his mace. "Keep together" he instructed his companions, "and keep your wits about you. There's no telling what the imperials managed to unleash here." He lead the way through the darkened entry hall, torch held high, but only lighting up about a meter in front of his feet. He came to a door, which, like the gate, was not properly closed. He booted it open, ignoring the crash of wood on stone as it struck the wall. Nothing sprang forth to attack, but he felt watched. As if something was gathering itself to strike, hidden in the shadows. A sound, faint, but definitely real, reached him. A slow, steady, dripping noise.
     
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  14. Harkatti

    Harkatti Sorceress Supreme!

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    The unassuming looking one armed man and Athara joined her, her khajiit friend suggesting she go first, since she had night vision and Elwyn didn't. There was no mention of the dangers of wandering into a seemingly abandoned castle, night vision or not, but Elwyn ceded the lead to her, drawing her sword and standing across from the breton knight. A few moments later, the grim human, she thought his name was Vintor, passed by, weapon in hand, a burning torch in the other. The imperial force that had accompanied them to the isle soon started filing by. Elwyn glanced at the knight, the one armed man, then shrugged, following the others deeper inside. She could hear a slow, unidentifiable dripping noise, something that set her teeth on edge.


    Cyrius glanced over at the hulking orc, and his lips twisted in a sneer. He had not forgotten the savagery the orc had fought with at the ambush outside of Falkreath hold. No finesse, no skill. Just howling rage. The beast seemed in control of himself for now, but who knew how long that would last. "What are you doing here, monster? Get back to being a lumbering piece of target practice."
     
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    #294 Harkatti, Aug 12, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
  15. Screeching Spasmodically

    Screeching Spasmodically Spasmodic Screecher

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    Adalia and Lilliana kept to the middle of the group, more than a little aware that their robes would provide very little protection in case they were unfortunate enough to run into another ambush. Which, from what Adalia caught of the conversation up ahead, sounded much more likely than she would have liked. The storm mage pulled Lilliana close, "at least the weather isn't so unpleasant, hmm?" She wasn't sure what had happened in Falkreath, but the younger woman had been withdrawn ever since. Adalia thought it might be something to do with the hulking orc, but she wasn't sure and she definitely wasn't going to pick a fight with the orc if she didn't have to.

    Lilliana heard Adalia, but she didn't answer. Something plucked at that black hole at her core, and she was suddenly on high alert. She looked around at her companions, knowing it could be any one of them. Or perhaps, it was someone lurking in wait, or had been wounded on the road? No...it felt closer, not that nearness was any help to her. The new dark elf, the woman who had arrived with the one armed man, was drifting towards the rear of the group, fiddling with something near her hairline. Lilliana ducked out from the redguards' protective arm and fell back to join her. "Hello. We haven't spoken, but I noticed you when you arrived with that one armed man. Are you from Morrowind?"
     
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  16. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Uzar glared down at the imperial man, clenching his jaw. The big orcs' hands closed to fists, but he restrained himself, for now, holding onto some scrap of civility. ""Monster?" He rumbled, "big talk for something like you." He snarled, remembering the ruin of the bandit leader. "At least I still have my soul." Not...technically true, but the human didn't need to know about all his problems. He let the group get a little ahead of him, huffing angrily into the morning air.
     
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  17. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    Athara joined the one armed man and the others at the end of the hall. Still, her eyes could not pierce far into the gloom, and that set her on edge. Or, at least, it told her that things had gone more than a little bit wrong. She could hear the imperial soldiers behind them, the shifting of armour and quiet, nervous conversation. “F*** it, then.” The man murmured, and Athara snorted, before glancing over at him. "You know those could be your last words, don't you?" She bit back a chuckle that was as much nerves as it was mirth, "we're about to wander into a seeming abandoned castle, with who knows what lurking inside."
     
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  18. fellowknight

    fellowknight Devil Of The Details

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    "Hm. You've got plenty of lives to spare, don't you?" Karsan fired back, sharing a glance with the Khajiit as their leader arrived with the armored escort in tow, and wasted no time to plunge into the black of the castle. The older man winced as the Imperials drew their swords with loud, metallic rasps and corralled the mercenaries forward, with louder shifting of their turtle-shelled armor; if there was anything waiting for them down the hallway, they knew what to expect. When the fighting started, they'd could be the first to run and the last to die escaping. As they entered a new room, with an ominous dripping sound, Karsan carefully popped his axe from its sling and held it at his side. He was still healing and more than a bit hungover, but he'd be damned if he went down without a fight. Or something resembling one.

    >< >< >< >< >< >< >< ><
    A moment's difference let Morva identify the voice as one of her companions, the fragile-looking robed girl. Truthfully, Morva had noticed her too, and she was still wondering what a girl was doing out here on the road. She arrived with a companion, a redguard woman that stunk of powerful magik, that had been watching her back and keeping her close. Still, Morva found her presence tame and strangely soothing. Mostly because she didn't seem to have that.. off-handed glare and rough edge that the others had, that of a killer.

    "Hm? Oh.. Yes. I used to live there, uh.." She had to focus to find the rest of the words. In later months, Karsan hadn't been teaching her much of the common tongue, so her memory would have to suffice. "..many years a-go. But I left for.. better sights. Imperial City, offer lots of new beginnings and no Warde- ah, elders, to worry over. Didn't go well.." Morva wisely figured it best to stop there, and leave out her service in the Legion, more specifically under a Confessors thumb as acolyte. With an audience of coin-chasers, it was a legendarily bad idea to share.

    "You are.. light." She gestured to the girl's robes, and her lack of a weapon of any kind. "Dangerous. Strange, for a s-sell.." She muttered quietly in Dunmeris, searching her native vocabulary for the right term. "Sell-sword. Are you from Cyrodiil? Imperial City?"
     
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  19. Thesius

    Thesius The Imperial Paladin

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    The imperial captain joined Vintor at the head of the group, keeping any misgivings had to himself, behind a blank slate of professional discipline. "Circle formation. Keep in sight of one another and be ready." He motioned for Vintor to lead on, the former paladin ignoring the banter of his fellow mercenaries as the imperials spread out in a loose circle. The clank of armour and boots on stone made stealth impossible. Which suited the plate armoured Vintor just fine. Mace clutched in his right hand, torch in the other, he lead the mixed group onwards, deeper into the darkened room. As they moved, it became obvious that the room was much larger than originally assumed.

    The outline of shapes, furniture, mostly, could be seen at the very edge of the of torchlight, along with more sinister outlines. Though it was hard to discern with the flickering torchlight and pressing darkness, it eventually became apparent that they were statues, carved in the form of leering, fanged beasts. Looking up, the former paladin could see more outlines, situated on alcoves built into the walls. It was impossible to see the ceiling, but as they advanced further inside, they came across tall, narrow windows that let in slim beams of cold light.

    Throughout their cautious advance, the dripping continued, a constant noise that set more than a few sets of teeth on edge. The imperial captain beside him, Orinius, looked over his shoulder and stopped in place. "Halt!" The captain barked, and looked to each of his men, lips moving as he counted. "Where is Taetrus?"

    There were murmurs of unease as the imperials looked for their missing comrade. "Find him!" The captain barked, and the soldiers slowly began to spread out. Vintor remained where he was, uninterested in searching for a soldier in an unknown and perhaps dangerous castle. It was exceedingly unlikely that the man had just wandered off. Tense moments passed, before one of the soldiers suddenly shouted "here, sir!" The captain rushed to his subordinates' side and swore. He returned to the group, a scrap of cloth in his hand, recognizable as an imperial uniform. It was drenched in fresh blood.
     
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  20. Madrar

    Madrar The Shadow in the Dark.

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    Thalien lead the main group of the mercenary company onwards, making good time away from the rainy, foggy and forested hold of Falkreath. They encountered little resistance and civilian presence dwindled to nearly nothing by the time they reached the hold border. There were a few heavily guarded wagons, though those paid little attention to the group of mercenaries headed towards the Reach. Such a sight was nothing new, after all. With the war in High Rock ongoing, soldiers and mercenaries took the road to Markarth and beyond to High Rock almost every day.

    Eventuallly, the group reached the very edge of Falkreath hold, coming across an old, dilapidated sign and a fork in the road. One sign indicated the road to Whiterun, the other, pointed towards Markarth, the road winding between rocky hills and ancient ruins. What once might have been a watch tower was now toppled and ruined, old wood jabbing out of piles of rubble. On the other side of the road, a boulder, roughly rectangular in shape, had been shifted onto one end, so that it stood at nearly five feet tall. Etched into the rock surface were the words 'The Old Gods Watch' one word etched beneath the other. "Is that a threat," Thalien wondered out loud, "or a benediction?" Crude slogans and slurs had been scratched into the rock as well, presumably from bandits or other mercenary bands that had passed through ahead of them.
     
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