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18+ The Eternal Cycle

Discussion in 'Active Stories' started by Thesius, Jul 27, 2020.

  1. Drahkma

    Drahkma Dashing Imperial Officer.

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    Devorin Halstead was liking Skyrim less the more he stayed in the former province. It had been five years since the leader of the rebel stormcloaks had been killed by whom, the dunmer knight wasn't sure. Some said it was his own followers that had turned on him. Others, that the empire had sent assassins, a spiteful last strike against the victorious nords. Devorin had even heard a few tales that an entirely unaligned third party had been hired to remove him from the throne. He wasn't sure which of these stories were the truth and he didn't much care. He had come to Skyrim because one of their jarls had sent out couriers calling for aid. The knight didn't know much of nords, but he did know they were incredibly stubborn. Or could be, at any rate.

    Since he'd arrived, he hadn't been treated poorly, as he had heard some dunmer were in holds that were once loyal to the rebels. He hadn't exactly been welcomed with open arms, either. The nords weren't overly happy with outsiders making their way across the border, it seemed. But the work was good and most jarls were willing to pay well for the service of a dunmer knight who knew how to handle himself. Though the weather did tend to dampen his enthusiasm somewhat. Blistering cold and pouring rain with icy winds that cut flesh better than the keenest blade seemed to make up most of Skyrims' climate. It was...unpleasant, to say the least.

    That was more than a little bit of an understatement, Devorin mused as he strode along the cobbled road, the cloak he wore plastered to his back as rain poured from the sky in a relentless deluge. Wishing he'd thought to bring his horse rather than go by boat to Solitude, the knight stomped through mud and puddles where the road was less maintained. It was hard to discern the time; the clouds were low hanging and dark and he had been walking for a while. The terrain of Falkreath hold did not vary greatly. Tall pine trees, the occasional ruin, and swift running streams.

    The walled city came into view, the faint light of guttering braziers and a lit guardhouse gave him the strength to press on. Well, that and the promise of a stiff drink and warm fire to rest by. He certainly hoped Sidgeir did not expect whatever mercenary band he'd hired to traipse all over the woods looking for bandits in the pouring rain. Approaching the guard house, he was less than pleased to see no one on guard. "Sloppy" he growled, before peering inside to see a trio of nords sitting around, drinking and talking like old friends. "Hey!" The knight snapped, "what's an elf got to do around here to get a good drink?" He noted that only two of the nords appeared to be guardsmen. The third wore the armour of a sellsword or perhaps some hapless adventurer. Though he certainly looked like he could handle himself.
     
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  2. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Hafnar sat in silence for a long time after the guardsman finished speaking. Not because he was stunned or particularly perturbed by the news of disappearing folk and grisly murders; he'd seen men do horrific things to one another during the war. He was, however, starting to wonder if he'd gotten in over his head. Working for a jarl paid well, but spending that gold would be difficult if he was dead. Taking a sip of his ale, he pondered just waiting out the rain and looking for work elsewhere. Whiterun maybe, or Riften. Before he could make up his mind, an irate sounding elf popped his head inside the guardhouse, demanding to know what one would have to do to to get a drink. The nord warrior smirked, already liking the stranger. "That'd be the Dead Mans' Drink, down the road a bit." He stood up, starting to collect his things. "Come with me and I'll show you." He offered, leaving the guardhouse with a wave to the pair of guardsmen. "Name's Hafnar Thelgn. Guessing you didn't come all this way for a good drink."
     
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  3. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    "Odd indeed" the imperial swordsman agreed, glancing up as the argonian who had just joined them got up and stepped over to the door. He frowned, noticing a khajiit woman, drenched in rain water and a smattering of blood standing in the doorway. He couldn't see any wounds on her, but she seemed reluctant to come inside the tavern. Turning back to the orc warrior who had seemed a little reluctant to have him take a seat in the first place. "So. I must admit, there don't seem to be many orcs in Falkreath hold. Mind you, I am new to Skyrim. Are you from Skyrim, or have you come from the empire, like myself?" He questioned. "Though there seems to be stranger folk than you and I filtering into this kingdom." He nodded towards the khajiit, then the altmer at one of the tables. He made no mention of the argonian, but his intent was clear.
     
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  4. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    Shadari's hands went to her waist, brushing against the falchion and knives she had sheathed there. The argonian that had so brazenly rushed into her personal space seemed to have good intentions, but she was put off by his concern. "I'm fine. Back up and mind your own business." She snapped, the hostility in her voice more of instinctive distrust than any actual dislike she had for him. Her gaze was drawn back to Aliah and Simus, both of whom had apparently failed to recognize her, or at least, hadn't outwardly acknowledged her presence. For a moment she considered walking away, into a separate area of the tavern. Then she dismissed it. Out of everyone here, she knew them the best. Taking a moment to push down her trepidation of joining a group once again, she approached their table. "Fancy seeing the pair of you here" she said, forcing her tone to remain non-chalant as blood and rain water dripped onto the edge of the table. "General, I thought you'd retired to a nice cozy life in Whiterun. And you-" she nodded towards the altmer, "were going home to the isles."
     
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  5. Madrar

    Madrar The Shadow in the Dark.

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    "Indeed" Nurian murmured, watching a bloodied khajiit approach a table with an older human and another altmer woman. He was about to go over and introduce himself when the door was flung open. It banged against the wall as it opened, once more allowing rain to be blown inside. A few of the patrons sitting nearest the doors complained loudly at the newest interruption to their meals and conversations. A nord man, cloak spattered with rain drops but nowhere near as wet as some of the others that had entered the tavern, stepped inside and looked around, eyes narrowing as he noted the assortment of mercenaries and adventurers. "Greetings on behalf of jarl Sidgeir of Falkreath." The man started after being unable to discern a leader figure amongst them. "The jarl appreciates your timely arrival, and urges you to take your rest and prepare to eliminate the bandit menace as soon as possible."
     
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  6. Thesius

    Thesius The Imperial Paladin

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    Murtagh watched the official looking human as he made his announcement, unsurprisingly on behalf of the local jarl. As if we need Sidgeirs lackey coming in here to tell us our job. With a grumble, the orc set aside his mostly finished meal and stood. He guessed he probably wasn't the most charismatic of the growing group of adventurers, but someone needed to speak up. "Now just hold on a moment" he said brusquely. "You can't just expect us to comb through the entire hold until we just happen to stumble across some bandits. We need directions at least an estimate of their numbers...how well armed are they?" The questions came rapid-fire, one after the other as the former mercenary stomped closer. "And sure as Dagons' arsehole you can bet we won't be stumbling about in the middle of a storm." He turned to the others, assembled about the room. "But don't let me stop any of you ambitious hero types from tripping over yourselves to do the jarls' bidding, if it takes your fancy." He said, unable to keep a mocking tone from slipping into his voice. Great way to make friends. He thought, wondering if he'd just painted a target on his back. He turned back to the jarls' man, crossing his arms and waiting expectantly.
     
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  7. Madrar

    Madrar The Shadow in the Dark.

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    Nurian turned from his conversation with the nord man to see another nord, this one in official hold colours make his way inside and deliver a message on behalf of jarl Sidgeir of Falkreath. The man had barely finished his message when he was accosted by the orc warrior who had been a moment ago, sitting with an imperial and argonian male. The orc fired off a series of questions, and Sidgeirs man was quickly set back on his heels, clearly not used to be spoken to by a mere mercenary. Nurian was glad that his mask hid his expression, as he was unable to restrain a lightly amused smile from creeping across his face.

    The functionary, to his credit, did his best to answer. "I-uh, well, um...you see, we've not been quite able to pinpoint the bandit location...but I can of course have a map of the hold brought to you. As for arms and armour... it...ah, seems they've recently ransacked a guard outpost and carried off what gear they could get their hands on. As for when you leave," the man was slowly backing towards the door, apparently happy to brave the ongoing deluge if it meant getting away from a tavern full of mercenaries, "haste is of course of the essence, but we would not presume to tell you when you may leave. Sidgeir hopes you would be on the road come dawn." With that, the man all but fled back into the dark evening, not even waiting for a response.
     
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  8. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Hafnar lead the strange dunmer male towards the Dead Mans' Drink, grumbling under his breath about the continuing downpour. It was no surprise that Falkreath had pouring rain...that didn't mean he had to be happy about it. The two men entered the tavern and nearly ran into an official looking individual who barely spared them a glance as he hurried towards the jarl's longhouse. That was unusual, but with all the mercenaries and strange folk headed into town, it was no wonder the jarl would send one of his toadies to check in on them. As he'd guessed, most of those the gate guard had mentioned were present in the tavern, speaking or eating.

    The warrior lead his charge over to the bar and motioned for him to take a seat beside him. "Barkeep! A couple of ales over here, if it's not too much bother!" He shouted to be heard over the clamour of the busy inn. There was a brief wait before their drinks were provided, and the nord lifted his tankard in cheers. "Bottoms up, friend." He grinned, draining a good half of his ale before setting it down and staring at the dunmer. "So. What brings you here? Gold? Glory? Something like that?"
     
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  9. Rafen

    Rafen Well-Known Member

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    Under the table, Djor released the hilt of the sword he'd subconciously reached for when the pair of would be bounty hunters had approached. By the cramp in his hand, he guessed he'd been holding it even after the men had departed with the arrival of the masked and robed Nurian. Flexing his fingers, he rested his hand atop the table, keeping a wary eye on the rest of the patrons. One of the older men that appeared to have been staying at the inn was currently speaking with a bloodied khajiit and a pale altmer. It seemed the knew one another. The others were in the midst of introducing themselves, including a pair that had just come in from the increasingly stormy night. The outcast Blackmane watched them all over the rim of his tankard, keen eyes missing little in the way of detail or mannerisms.

    The old man in particular interested him. Where the others were clearly adventurer or mercenary types, young and fit enough to have heard the call to arms, the man stood out. Djor guessed he was an imperial, though he didn't want to rule out breton blood. The mans' armour and weapons spoke of either wealth or great skill with a smithy. Though he seemed relaxed, even sitting down he seemed to exude a quiet confidence. The man was either extremely arrogant, or was used to having people listen to him when he spoke. A curiousity, to be sure. Taking another swallow of ale, he leaned against the wall to observe the others as rain beat against the sturdy walls and windows of the Dead Mans' Drink.
     
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  10. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    Tallus backed away from the khajiit. He wasn't looking for a fight and he got the distinct feeling that was exactly what he'd get if he pestered the woman further. She approached the table with an older human and an unusually pale altmer woman, seemingly familiar with the pair. A nord man in finer clothing than the others in the tavern, entered and spoke to the room at large, explaining that jarl Sidgeir was looking forwards to the group of adventurers taking care of the bandit problem 'as soon as possible.' The orc that Tallus had briefly sat with objected rather brashly to that, getting in the mans' face with an intensity that made the argonian archer wonder if a fight was about to break out. Perhaps thinking the same, the nord quickly agreed that the group could stay the night and that a map of the area would be provided to them at dawn. The human all but fled out into the rainy evening, leaving the door open for another nord and dunmer to enter.

    "Seems our group continues to grow" he muttered to himself, before rejoining the orc and breton man. "Out of curiousity;" he said to the orc, "was there a particular reason you snapped at that man so? He didn't seem to have any animosity for us." It wasn't his place to take the warrior to task for his behaviour, but he also believed that making enemies in town was not in their best interests. He glanced around the inn, trying to see if any of the locals had taken exception to the outburst. Most seemed more interested in their drinks than picking a fight with well armoured individuals. For now, anyways.
     
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  11. Drahkma

    Drahkma Dashing Imperial Officer.

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    Devorin eyed the nord the whole way to the tavern. It wasn't that he had any reason to distrust the man, it was just...he didn't trust the man. Most nords weren't as hostile to outsiders as they had been under Ulfric and his stormcloak cronies, but there were still the occasional holdouts. Being stabbed in the back on a dark and stormy night was not high on the dunmers' list of priorities. Despite his reservations, the nord guided him as he said he would and they reached the tavern just as another man was leaving, looking like he desperately wanted to be elsewhere.

    Inside, there was the usual group of drunks, workers, and more than a few blade-for-hire types that frequented such places. Devorins' surprise didn't come from their presence, but rather the diversity of those present. He spotted at least one high elf, an argonian, an orc and a bloody khajiit woman. The others seemed human, imperial or nord, though one of the men sitting with the orc seemed to lean more towards breton bloodline. The nord who'd guided him to the inn called for a pair of ales to be brought, passing one to Devorin and indicating he take a seat beside him.

    Taking a sip of his drink he listened to the nords questions. "All of it together, I suppose" he said honestly, "I'm not exactly new to Skyrim and rooting out bandits is a good source of income. Besides helping the locals and all that other nonsense that comes with being a knight of High Rock." He took another drink, before hefting the tankard "besides, it's hard to get good drink with no coin."
     
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  12. Aethalia

    Aethalia Well-Known Member

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    The two old comrades sat for the most part in silence, which didn't bother her in the slightest. She was glad to see the old general had survived the years after Ulfrics' downfalls relatively well off. Unlike her, he had also aged in the past five years. He was still the same old Simus she'd met in the catacombs under Whiterun, just a little older. At least, that's what she told herself. Her own travels had kept her too busy to check in with Simus and especially the young Alice, who she'd come to care for. After she had traveled back to the isles, hoping to meet her family once more, she had discovered her young sister, Senya, had gone missing, nearly a decade ago. Her family, less than pleased to learn their eldest daughter was still among the 'living', they had mentioned Senyas' last known destination had been Skyrim.

    So, Aliah had returned to the frigid former province, searching in vain for months' until she had heard the call for hired blades in Falkreath. She knew it was a long shot, but traveling Skyrim alone was not conducive to a long life. Their purposes might not align but traveling in a group of seasoned mercenaries would allow her to dedicate more time to searching for Senya and less having to worry about her own neck. She noticed an altercation between the orc and an official looking nord man, who quickly hurried back out as the orc warrior harangued him. However, her attention was quickly grabbed by a familiar and bloodied khajiit.

    The grey furred woman quickly made her way to their table and Aliah had to restrain herself as the scent of blood filled her nose. Luckily, the concern she felt for the khajiit assassin quickly overrode the hunger. "Shadari! Are you hurt? The blood..." She quickly got up, ushering the woman into her seat.
     
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  13. Simus

    Simus An Excellent Site Member

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    The crowd continued to gather at the tavern but Simus didn’t pay them much mind. Most of them were loud and boisterous, either blowing off steam from a hard day’s work or reuniting with friends and ready to have a good time. The table with the orc and argonian was drawing attention to itself already and then drew more when the orc objected to the well-dressed nord’s declaration that they begin their bandit hunt as soon as possible. It was a vague declaration and Simus appreciated the orc speaking up for himself but he didn’t have to browbeat him about it. That sort of impatience was dangerous in a soldier. It pushed people into making bad decisions and that got people killed. But that was the general in him talking. He didn’t know this man and he wasn’t his commander. He would show up at the Jarl’s longhouse tomorrow morning and would just see what happens.

    Aliah said little as they sat together and Simus appreciated the amicable silence. Their friendship was easily the most surprising on Simus had made since the first Great War but what was even more surprising was how well he understood Aliah as a person. A Thalmor High Elf vampire and an Imperial Stormcloak general should be polar opposites but once you got past politics they had an amazing amount of stuff in common. They were both soldiers to a cause they believed passionately in, they were both brutally effective warriors, both had either lost or been rejected by most of their peers, sometimes more than once and they had both found new lives in Skyrim. They were also both exiles of sorts. Alias’s family and friends in Alinor had outright rejected her once they’d learned of her vampirism and they would likely not change their minds. The new government in Alinor had also labeled all former Thalmor as enemies of the state so Aliah couldn’t return even if she wanted to. High Elves had very long memories and little tolerance for either the undead or political extremists and honestly Simus didn’t blame them. His own Cyrodillic brethren felt almost the same way about him. During and after the Second Great War Simus had rejoined the Legion and served as a general. He had served well, many would say brilliantly, and was a significant reason the Empire had won that war and defeated the Thalmor. He and his family had received Imperial Pardon and he and his children were national heroes but Simus had felt it was all window dressing. There were a lot of people who saw him as a traitor for joining the Stormcloaks and had never forgiven him for it. Many of his old buddies from the first war were still alive and serving and hated him for what he’d done. There were also a lot of people who just didn’t trust his past and saw him as an opportunist or turncoat. His family name had been tarnished for years and that had been hard to shake. Finally there were a lot of people who just thought he was too Nord to stay in Cyrodiil. That’s why they had all moved back to Whiterun. He was accepted here. Alice, Titus, Cilla and Mila had all come of age here. All four of them had flourishing lives and were free from their dad’s sketch past. It was just better for everybody.

    Suddenly Simus realized that Aliah had asked him a question. He had gotten so caught up in his own thoughts that he hadn’t even heard her. He asked her to repeat the question and was then able to answer. “It’s more common than you might think. Unless their hold’s at war a Jarl doesn’t keep all that many guards in service since he’s got to feed, arm, equip and house all of them and provide regular payment. That gets expensive very quickly so it often makes sense to hire a group of sell swords for threats too large to ignore but too small to send an army after. You pay these men more than what your guards make but you only have to do it once and then release them from service. That keeps your costs down and motivates most men to do the job they were signed up for. You don’t want to do it too often though because today’s sellsword often becomes tomorrow’s bandit when he realizes he’s out of work when the people he was hired to fight are defeated and the Jarl was never willing to hire him as a guard in the first place. That’s probably what we have here in Falkreath. A large group of men looking for a fight who can’t or won’t go to another province and have decided banditry is worth the risk. It’s gonna be our job to...Salthar’s cold stare would you look at that.” Simus was interrupted by a familiar and bloody Khajiit woman walking up to their table and joining them. Shadari had never been someone Simus had gotten close too and certainly didn’t trust but knew well enough to rely on when he needed a dirty job. She was reliable, professional and showed ironclad loyalty to her clients once she’d decided to hire on. That was correct, he thought. You didn’t hire Shadari, Shadari hired you after you made her the correct offer. Again, reliable without being trustworthy. Her side was caked with blood and she was clearly in pain but she had waved off all offers of aid. She offered her surprise at seeing both of them and after a minute of adjusting to this highly improbable but generally pleasing reunion Simus spoke up. “Nice to see you too Shadari. I needed some time to myself. Alice and Jules had their second baby about a month ago and Carlotta and I have been staying with them since. My first grandson by the way. They named him Lucius. He looks just like his mama. Lucilla’s three now and she’s starting to look like me. Alice, as you can imagine, has thrown all of her weight into being a mother and it’s been a little...grating. It was a week before she let anyone else hold Lucius while she was awake and Lucilla wants mama a lot more than she wants grandpa. Being in a quiet tavern without screaming children is a nice change. Why don’t you sit down. I’ll get you a drink and you can tell us why you’re bleeding on the floor.”
     
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  14. TheShadedOne

    TheShadedOne The Angry One

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    Shadari stared down at the altmer and imperial, frowning. She hadn't thought she was so bloody to draw their attention, but the wound twinging at her side reminded her of her carelessness. Sinking into the seat that Aliah had offered, she nodded at Simus' offer of a drink, gladly accepting it as the old general returned from the bar. Gesturing to herself and the blood and rain matted fur, she said "I ran into some old friends. It wasn't the type of reunion where we shared laughs and drinks." The assassin slugged back her drink, wiped her mouth and glanced from one to the other. She wasn't surprised Julius and Alice had gotten together; there had been writing on the walls for a while, before they'd come out as 'officially' together.

    "By time to yourself, I'm guessing you mean reliving your glory days? Wandering the wilds without having to worry about other responsibilities?" The words came out sounding more malicious than she had intended, but she guessed Simus knew her, or had at least dealt with her enough times to know her mannerisms by now. "What about you, Aliah? Like I said, last we saw each other, you were all set to return to the isles. Did you change your mind, or did you have it changed for you?"
     
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  15. Signus

    Signus Well-Known Member

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    Soric lounged back in his seat, watching the exchange between the orc and the nord, then the argonian and the orc. The swordsman had little incentive to step in on the nords' behalf. He'd come to Skyrim to help the people, not be told what to do and when to do it. He had no heard much of the jarl of Falkreath, but he was starting to think the man was more full of himself than his servant had been. The breton rolled his eyes as the argonian finished speaking and took another look around the tavern. Most of the people had settled down, either at the bar or at their own tables. Some seemed to know each other but most, like Soric and the two he sat with, were strangers. He noticed a dark haired nord man sitting on his own, keeping a close eye on the rest of the group. He wondered if the man would be trouble; then remembered the robed, masked individual and the two others that had approached him. Perhaps it wasn't that he was trouble, more he was in trouble. "Interesting" he muttered to himself.
     
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  16. Rell

    Rell Champion of Malacath!

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    Hafnar listened to the dark elfs' reasoning and found himself liking the elf more and more. "True enough" the warrior agreed, taking a big drink from his own tankard. He carefully scanned the tavern as he did so, noting most of the newcomers had settled into groups. Some seemed to know each other, but that didn't concern Hafnar too much. Turning his attention back to his drinking partner, he tapped the armor of his breastplate. "Not many dark elves seen wearing plate like that. Must have cost you quite the fortune, eh?" In truth, Hafnar had only ever seen a few dark elves in armor, most of them wearing that odd bonemold type gear. Sturdy as steel but with an off-white tone. It was impressive, if a little strange. Seeing this elf wearing something other than that suggested he wasn't from Morrowind or Solstheim.
     
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  17. Aethalia

    Aethalia Well-Known Member

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    Aliah hesitated at Shadaris' question. She didn't want to lie to her or Simus but at the same time, she had no desire to recount the events that had lead to her returning to Skyrim. If she didn't, however, there was a good chance they'd find out about it anyways. Taking an empty chair and joining the others at the table, she lowered her voice and leaned forwards. "The latter of the two," she said in response to the khajiits question," it's...my younger sister, Senya. When I returned home, I was informed that she had come to Skyrim looking for me. Years ago. No one has seen or heard from her since." She struggled to keep the worry from entering her voice as she continued, "so what choice was there? I couldn't leave her for the remnants of Ulfrics' fanatics to find. You know what they would do to her." With her reasoning laid out, she forced her face into a blank expression, awaiting the reaction of her friends.
     
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  18. Thesius

    Thesius The Imperial Paladin

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    Murtagh eyed the argonian, not with any real malice, but he wasn't exactly please with having his own decisions questioned by a complete stranger. "Look. I'm not here for some gods-driven jarl or his lackeys to tell where to go and when. If Sidgeir wants the job done, he can damn well wait for us to get to it." He nodded towards where the jarls' servant had hurried back out into the evening air. "Now if you're all in a bother about serving the jarl, by all means, go stumble about in the muck and trees and rain. You'll be lucky if the bandits get you first." His point made, the orc dropped back into his seat and waved a serving girl over, dropping some septims into her hands in exchange for a flagon of ale. He was very much aware that his attitude wouldn't make him many friends, but then, he wasn't out looking for friends in the first place. A bulging sack of coins, on the other hand... That, he could get behind.
     
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  19. TheArgonianDrell

    TheArgonianDrell Well-Known Member

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    Tallus held his hands up in a placating manner. He wasn't looking to start a fight or form a rift in their newly formed group. Besides, blunt as the orc was, he made some good points. "I meant no offense" he said, though he sensed that the warrior was not in the mood to engage in much more small talk. Another quick glance around the room revealed that no one had come or gone, hinting that their group was as complete as it was going to get.

    With a yawn that was only half forced, he nodded to the orc and breton. "Well, I think it best we all get our rest for the activities tomorrow. I'll see you at dawn." With those words, he inquired about a room from the harrassed looking innkeeper, and paid for the night. He offered a nod to the khajiit woman and her two unusual companions as the innkeeper showed him to his room.

    It was small but functional, with a single bed, end table and wash basin all present. Tallus thanked the woman, closed the door to the room and stripped out of his gear. Before turning in, he made sure to maintain his crossbow, wiping away any lingering rainwater and mud, and restringing it. He didn't fancy having to fight bandits with a poorly maintained weapon, after all.
     

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