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> WG - The Mystery of the Poisoned Healer
Grits
post Jul 17 2013, 02:21 PM
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(Continued from approximately here.)



Abiene in Chorrol

Eyja explained what would be needed for a complete recovery. “For the amount of metal you've been exposed to, you may need to keep taking it several times daily for at least a week, and do a restorative healing on yourself several times per day as well. The raw ingredients work better and quicker if you can stand the bitter taste. The potions are flavored, but are much weaker.”

Abiene started to reply. “I can stand the taste, but I’m sure an alchemist will be better able to…” Several times per day? She pressed her fingers against her face again, fighting down that frantic feeling. “I have patients to tend! I won’t be able to— I’m already taking far too many magicka potions just to keep up my workload. There’s nothing for it, I’ll have to ask for a leave of absence from the chapel.” She clenched her fists on her knees, anger creeping up through her fear. “Darn whoever did this!”

Eyja handed Abiene a list of ingredients. “Expect to be near an urn for a while,” she told Abiene. Then Eyja tucked her materials away.

Great, thought Abiene. I’m not going to go through a week of purging on the pot in my chapel quarters. She put that concern away for now and looked at the list.

Garlic
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Flax seed oil
Corkbulb root
Netch Leather
Scrib Jelly
Scamp skin
Kwama cuttle
Ash yam
The juice of a lemon
Dried seaweed
Charcoal


“Abiene, I need you to remember exactly how long you were at the inn, who you saw there, who brought you that tea, and if it was the same person you ordered it from,” said Eyja.

Abiene tried to clear her thoughts. “I reached the inn after dark and spent the night. There was a commotion when Irvana arrived with talk of vampires, and I ended up healing her in her chamber. I had a glass of Tamika’s last night with the stuffed mushrooms, plus a cheese plate with strawberries. This morning I ate a sweet roll and drank some kahve at the bar. A Dunmer woman was there, I didn’t catch her name. She was another guest. Lycus was sitting there, too. Yetta the cook and Lleris the hallboy were serving, but I got my breakfast from what was already set out on the bar. Bograk and Aravi were there, too. Oh, and I believe Kayla headed upstairs around the time I came down with Aravi. Honestly Eyja, I’m probably forgetting someone. I’ve been told to improve my situational awareness, but I’m not really sure what that even means.”

She hoped Eyja wasn’t too disgusted with her lack of information. She had not been paying attention at the inn because she had not been up to anything she felt she needed to hide. And Aravi’s troubles had been foremost in her mind.

“Then I got some tea from Yetta and went outside. I spoke with Dar’muktah and watched Lowren and the Argonian man cleaning up after the storm. Then I met Maxical. We sat on the bench chatting for a while. We have some mutual friends.” What happened next? “I must have been in a fog, because I can’t say how long we sat there or even what we talked about. I don’t really remember getting my things from the inn, but I must have.”

Abiene looked at the list again. “I can pick up a few of these things today at the chapel. Master Selvilo might have some of them, he’s a Dunmer. I can’t imagine why he would have netch leather, though. I’ll need to pick up my crystal ball so I can try to reach Darnand. He’ll know where Jerric is. That’s the alchemist.” She shook her head. “I hate to involve them in this.”

Abiene’s mouth went dry and her heart began to race. Perhaps that’s still the poison, she thought, gripping the bench’s edge.



.


This post has been edited by Grits: Aug 24 2013, 04:01 PM


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mALX
post Jul 17 2013, 09:26 PM
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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Eyja watched the stubborn look flickering across Abiene's face and recognized it. She'd given Foxy that same look when he first gave her these instructions for her own poisoning.

"Abiene, you can continue your daily rounds if you feel safe doing so. Just don't get too far from an urn. These ingredients will purge you in more ways than one. Three times a day do your healing and then eat the ingredients. You stop for meals, don't you? That is the best time; but better to do it before you eat. These ingredients on a full stomach would not sit well, and they'll do you no good vomited out."

Eyja knew what Abiene's friends meant by needing to improve her situational awareness. By Abiene's stressed reaction she was probably so focused on her work that she saw little beyond it. The drive to heal in her must be stronger than her need for a life...love.

Eyja remembered Abiene's reactions when she'd teased her earlier that day about Jerric, and wondered if Abiene's intense focus on healing cost her a relationship or if she was burying herself in it now to escape the pain of losing a relationship. There was an underlying sadness about the girl, and her near swoon after mentioning Jerric didn't go unnoticed.

"Abiene, your reaction to needing some time to heal yourself was stress. Taking too many potions to keep up your workload means you have taken on too heavy a workload. No one person can do it all, you need an assistant that can give you some time that is your own; time to relax and have some fun while you are still young and pretty enough to enjoy it."

Eyja leaned forward and took Abiene's hand, speaking gently to take the sting from her words.

"You are young, and very beautiful now, but stress and overwork will erode both youth and beauty quickly. When it is gone you will find your life has slipped by and you are alone with naught but those patients that need you. Life, love; these things you have to reach out and grab or they'll pass you by." Eyja raised her hand to indicate her own life.

"My bed is filled every night; strangers whose dreams are their fantasies. When it is over I have their gold, but not their heart. A few years ago I met a man that was different. He knew what I did, knew everything about me and loved me despite it. By the time I was ready to love him back he was dead. You have to grab onto what you want in life and not let go until it is yours."

Eyja heard herself hailed and looked up. "Honditar! Just the person I need to talk to." Eyja didn't have to wave him over, he was headed toward them.

"Why is he walking so slowly?" Eyja let go Abiene's hand as Honditar drew near. His face was pasty white, and sweat wasn't just beaded on his brow it was running in rivulets down his face and dripping onto his shirt despite the day wasn't that hot. His eyes looked feverish.

Eyja turned uneasily toward Abiene. "Was that illness you cured on yourself contagious? Find out if he has the same thing. If he does, Maxical will be very ill and can't heal herself, would you go to Casta Scribonia's house when you finish with Honditar and check on her while I get that charcoal for you?"

Eyja stepped back from Honditar, relieved her search for Maxical had kept her from Honditar's bed as yet.

"Don't come near me till Abiene has cured you, I don't want to catch what you have."


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 18 2013, 02:41 AM


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Grits
post Jul 18 2013, 02:24 PM
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Abiene

Eyja’s words cut straight through Abiene. She took Abiene’s hand, letting her feel the sincerity under the sting of unpleasant truths. Eyja spoke of her life’s love who slipped through her fingers. Abiene’s heart went out to her at the same time she felt that panic as her own pain was exposed.

She squeezed Eyja’s hand, steadying herself and hoping to express a wordless kinship. This woman saw through her so easily. Abiene had no defense against such an honest connection. She had to simply trust.

Honditar approached. His face was soaked in an unhealthy sweat.

“Was that illness you cured on yourself contagious?” Eyja asked. “Find out if he has the same thing. If he does, Maxical will be very ill and can't heal herself, would you go to Casta Scribonia's house when you finish with Honditar and check on her while I get that charcoal for you?”

Abiene reached for Honditar as he sagged to the bench. “May I?” she asked, already casting. His body smelled sour now. “Eyja, he carries the same contagion. I don’t have a name for it, but it is as recognizable as a signature even if one cannot read it.”

Eyja stepped away. “Don't come near me till Abiene has cured you, I don't want to catch what you have.”

“You must remember those with whom you have had close contact since you helped me, Honditar. Send them for healing immediately if they cannot cure themselves.”

Honditar’s eyes gleamed with fever, but he nodded comprehension. “There has been no one else.”

“Oh, that’s good news.” Abiene looked up at Eyja. “I’ll go to Casta’s next, but I should check in at the Guild hall first. I was alone with Athragar for some time. He was practicing spells on me while I was unconscious. He may be infected.” Serves him right, Abiene thought along with a pang of guilt, contrition right on the heels of her pettiness. “Maxical is surely ill by now, she must have near carried me most of the way here. Poor Maxical! So far I’ve rewarded her friendship by ignoring her and giving her a disease. Hopefully Casta will have the sense to keep her still. The mages will be able to handle their own infections, but it will help to know if and how it is spreading.”

She thought for a moment, her hands still on Honditar.

“I wonder if I got sick at the Goblet or before,” Abiene said. “I wonder if I infected anyone there. Kayla shared my meal last night and I spent some time with Aravi, but they’ve surely dosed themselves against infection by the vampires they’re hunting.” And Aravi is not at risk regardless. “Irvana had not appeared by the time I left. I hope she is not helpless in her bed, wracked with fever.”

Honditar’s eyes were back on Eyja. The Nord woman was a vision of inviting curves and crevices even as she warned him to keep his distance. Abiene couldn’t blame him for his wandering attention.

She gave his arm a little pat and pulled away. “I see you’re feeling better.” She smiled at the Altmer and then at Eyja, her confidence restored along with his health.






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mALX
post Jul 18 2013, 07:44 PM
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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Eyja shook her head emphatically. "We don't know if Casta Scribonia has any supply of cures or healing, or if she can perform any healing on another. Those at the Mages Guild have both."

While Eyja talked she'd begun digging in a pocket of her pack. She pulled out a mandrake root and pointed it at Honditar before holding it up like a carrot and taking a bite. She talked between chews.

"He was in close contact with you this morning, that was eight to ten hours ago at the most; so you probably caught it last night..."

Eyja paused, with the mandrake root suspended in front of her mouth. Her brows drew down into a frown.

"Wait, if you were doing quick healings on yourself between patients then your own exposure could have been delayed taking hold. You could have caught it even before you went to the inn. Hannibal said..."

Eyja broke off with a flush and coughed to cover her gaff.

"I've heard that those quick healings aren't enough to kill some diseases, only enough to keep the healer from spreading it to the next patient; and that some strains can actually grow stronger when exposed to low doses of healing, they build up some kind of immunity to it."

She pointed the remaining stub of mandrake root at Honditar again. "And he is much more ill than you were." She took another bite of the mandrake, then used it to point Honditar away. "Can you give me just a second alone with Abiene? I need to tell her something about Maxical that is privileged information."

She continued to point her mandrake root stub till Honditar was all the way to the opposite sidewalk before turning back to Abiene.

"What I'm going to tell you must be kept strictly confidential, if this gets out Maxical's enemies would have an advantage on her that she could not defend. I'll need your vow that this information goes no further before I speak."


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 18 2013, 07:47 PM


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Grits
post Jul 18 2013, 08:42 PM
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From: The Gold Coast



Abiene nodded and sat back down on the bench. Eyja was considerably taller, and this way they would be able to put their heads together and speak as if they were simply sharing a friendly chat rather than discussing matters of life and death.

Eyja’s blunder stayed in Abiene’s mind. Hannibal? Abiene did not know anyone who thought of Arch-Mage Traven by his given name, much less called him by it.

But there were more pressing matters at hand. “I will not use anything you tell me against Maxical,” said Abiene. “Nor will I share the knowledge. I swear it.”

Abiene was uncertain what ritual Eyja might require. Her own word had always sufficed. Spitting in her hand to seal the vow seemed ill-advised, considering her recent infection. She simply watched to see what Eyja would do next.


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mALX
post Jul 19 2013, 04:47 AM
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*



Eyja pounded her chest and waited till Abiene had done the same before dropping onto the bench beside her and speaking very close to her ear and in barely a whisper.

"There is something important you need to know about Maxical. When I said Maxical can't heal, I meant it literally. She can't heal at all, not even basic healing on herself. It is some kind of magic conduction disorder that gives her complete weakness to magicka, poisons, and diseases; she has no natural defenses. It is imperative no one learn of this, she has many enemies in unknown places that would use that knowledge to take her down."

Inside Eyja was struggling to suffocate the fear that had been building in her since learning Honditar‘s illness came from Abiene. A man as strong and healthy as Honditar becoming that ill so quickly; what would it do to someone with no defenses?

She fought to keep the panic from her voice as she continued, indicating Honditar with a jerk of her head.

"He is strong and healthy, and you saw how ill this made him. Maxical will be doubly ill; worse than he was, and unable to cure it without help. She could be in grave danger from the disease if Casta Scribonia can't heal or has no potions in stock, she could..."

Eyja broke off as the impact of the words she was about to say suddenly struck beyond the logic and calm she’d always shielded herself with and left her feeling raw and afraid, and vulnerable in a way she hadn’t known in decades. It would be like losing her sister all over again. Eyja strangled that thought with an effort, trying to control her voice as she continued.

"Without her knowledge, she is my responsibility. I have been tasked with keeping her alive for two years, she has been appointed...she is in the service of Cyrodiil. I'm a bodyguard that she can’t know is commissioned to protect her. To her knowledge I am just a close friend who travels with her. I’ve already failed the one that commissioned me in the biggest way possible, he is dead. If anything happened to her, it would be like letting him down...all over again.”

Eyja choked on a ragged breath at the last words, feeling control breaking loose inside her in an overwhelming rush of emotion. With her hands balled into fists so tight the knuckles showed hard and white through the thick pink of her skin she fought against the tears that threatened. In a raw voice the next words tumbled out in a rush Eyja couldn‘t stem.

"The truth is it goes beyond the task. I care deeply for her. I never meant to become attached to her, but have. She is so much like my own sister who died when she was about the same age Maxical is now...too much like her. That squabbling play between us that you saw this morning, sometimes it feels like I could close my eyes and it would be my sister there. I can't let anything happen to her, but even greater than that I couldn't stand it if something did."

Eyja stood up briskly, embarrassed by the emotions she’d never meant to express; but the worry still lingered in her eyes and mind.

“I need to get you that charcoal, and I'll see if I can get my hands on some of these other ingredients while there. If that Argonian at the Guild can be persuaded to allow Maxical inside, please bring her there. She will be well protected there, both from this disease and the assassin if he is still about."

Eyja hurried toward the gate without waiting for a reply, smacking away a tear that escaped with a curse.



*







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Grits
post Jul 19 2013, 05:32 PM
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Abiene

Abiene launched herself from the bench and made her way to Casta Scribonia’s house. Eyja’s near panic had provoked a healer’s response in Abiene, and now her mind was clear despite the danger. She cast another restorative spell on herself and popped a few fennel seeds into her mouth as she walked. Master Selvilo had warned against abusing stimulants, but this was no time to start listening to him.

Casta had soon slammed her door in Abiene’s face. Maxical had not come to visit.

Abiene drifted out into the street, her own worry rising to meet the memory of Eyja’s fear. Where did Maxical go? She would need healing. I’ll start with the chapel.

Orag greeted her as she headed through to the healing hall. “Blessings, Abiene! Have you returned to—Stendarr’s mercy! You look horrible. You should make your devotions at once!” She moved as if to yank Abiene up toward the altar.

“Blessings, Orag,” Abiene called back as she dodged the orc. “Soon, I promise. But for now I need to…” She didn’t bother to finish as she trotted down the steps. Abiene believed in honoring the Divines through her actions, and for now she had plenty to do.

No one in the healing hall had seen Maxical either. Abiene made her way to Gureryne Selvilo’s office.

“Greetings of the day, Master—” she began.

The Dunmer interrupted by shoving her into a chair and sticking his thumb in her eye, peeling up the lid. He peered down at her, frowning. “Your eyes are not supposed to be blue, young woman.”

Abiene fumbled the list out of her pocket, struggling against the urge to kick the hells out of her healing master.

The list was snatched away by golden hands. “Ah,” purred an unknown voice. “Metal poisoning.”

Superior tone, snotty accent, thought Abiene. Altmer. Gureryne let go and stepped back, arms across his chest. He took the list and glanced down at it.

Abiene spent a moment swiping tears from her cheeks and glaring at the newcomer. The high elf wore healer’s robes that must have been specially tailored to skim over her long figure. The chapel’s colors were worked along the cuff and sleeves in a subtle pattern. Abiene became conscious of her dried sweat and yesterday’s travel clothes. Money and the good taste to go with it. I think I hate her.

“That’s right,” said Abiene. “I’ll need to take potions for a week while I recover. I’ll need to cut back a little on my—”

Gureryne cut her off with a quick motion of his hand. “You will absent yourself from the healing hall during your recovery. This treatment will have you spewing from both ends. Though you do not present a danger to our patients, your presence would cause rumor and distress. You may spend the week in your quarters in study and prayer.”

Abiene gritted her teeth over a sharp retort. “There are some exotic ingredients on that list. I wondered if you—”

“Because I am Dunmer I must horde ash yams and scrib jelly?” Gureryne’s brows shot toward his hairline. “I am a Colovian Highlander, child. Have you ever seen me crunching up an ash hopper leg?”

I’ve seen you use hackle-lo in every way possible. Abiene opened her mouth to protest.

“You may take what supplies you need from our stores,” he continued. “You could use the practice mixing your own potions. Do not ignore your symptoms, Abiene. It is a foolish healer who allows herself to fall ill.”

Abiene found herself escorted toward the door. “But wait, my patients,” she objected.

“As it happens I have a candidate in mind who will be pleased to fill in for you.”

The Altmer’s smug grimace confirmed Abiene’s guess.

“So I have your leave then?” Abiene asked over her shoulder as the door closed on her rear. I’ll take that as a yes.

Abiene gathered supplies before anyone could catch up and ask questions. A sniff under her arm made her wish for the time to soak in a tub. It will get worse before it gets better, she reminded herself. The thought of Maxical lying sick and helpless put speed to her work.

She took the time in the workroom to quill letters to Aravi and Bograk.

A novice approached as she blew on the ink to dry it. “Your mail, Abiene.”

“Thanks, Elena.” Urgency fought with concern. Her affection for Elena won. “How is your elbow? Has the pain returned?”

Abiene sorted her mail as they talked. One envelope caught her attention. This can’t wait. Elena got the hint as Abiene ripped it open.

Abiene, grace and light,

I hope this finds you well. I will get straight to the point, as you know something must have occurred if I have put quill to parchment.

There has been an outbreak of fever at the Wayshrine. We are cured, but you must look to yourself if you have not already.

It seems likely that we picked it up from Yoshiko. Do not concern yourself, we are fine. However I am instructed to ask if you celebrated with any of the pilgrims? We know that is not your habit, but I must ask you just the same.

May our Lady’s blessing be always upon you,

Seruya



Abiene quilled a quick reply.


My dear Seruya,

You have confirmed my fears and quieted them all at once.

As you surmised I did not join the ceremonies in the lower circle. I have infected some folk here in Chorrol (through close but casual contact), but I expect the outbreak to be quickly contained. Forgive me for the brevity of this reply. I am presently engaged in that effort.

I hope to see you again before the snows set in, my friend. Please have care for your safety in the meantime. Fewer scars to repair would leave us more time for rejoicing.

May your strength and beauty bring inspiration in the name of our Lady,

Abiene


Searching for Maxical and completing her tasks took the rest of the day. It was well after dark by the time Abiene left the Mages Guild. Her energy was spent, but hope for Maxical brimmed in her heart.

Honditar approached her under the Great Oak, but this time he kept his distance. His face asked the question.

“I didn’t find her anywhere,” Abiene told him. “Casta hadn’t seen her. But several people said they heard a white Khajiit was seen walking out the main gate. I think she must have returned to the Wobbly Goblet. It’s likely that Eyja already found her there.”

“Who said that?” Honditar asked.

Abiene told him. “Do you want some more mandrake root?” she finished. “I’ve been handing it out all day just in case.”

Honditar’s expression was unreadable in the dark, but his voice sounded tense. “Can you get where you’re going all right?” He seemed eager to leave.

Abiene stepped closer so she wouldn’t have to shout. The knowledge that her weakened state was the result of an attempted murder had slipped to the back of her mind, but now she recalled she had reason for caution. “I’m going to the Grey Mare,” she murmured. “I’ll walk under invisibility to stay safe. I can get that far tonight on my own.” Even if I have to crawl some of the way. “Please tell Eyja where I am if you see her before I do. She’s been helping me. I… I really need her help.”

Honditar stalked off into the night.

Abiene waited until she stood alone in the shadow of the great Oak. Then she cast her spells and headed toward the Grey Mare.





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mALX
post Jul 19 2013, 07:40 PM
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*

Honditar's mouth set in a grim line after talking to Abiene. His gut instinct was gnawing at him, and he rarely ignored it.

Earana's expression when she learned the Khajiit would be under his protection hadn't been one of surrender. But he'd seen Earana in the circle by the Great Oak all day and evening, she couldn't very well be experimenting on Maxical and in the street at the same time.

Despite having seen Earana with his own eyes out and about well after Maxical would have gone missing, the feeling of disquiet continued.

Honditar knew little about Earana's experiments with the beast races. Until recently he'd believed her claims of paying them well for their services. That was before Malintus Ancrus let a few things slip one evening while he was well gone in his cups.

There was something shady about it, but exactly what Honditar didn't know. That her Orc "friend" Gaturn gro-Gonk was involved Honditar was sure of. Maybe it was time for Honditar to do a little investigating on his own.


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 22 2013, 06:27 AM


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Grits
post Jul 21 2013, 01:56 PM
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At The Grey Mare

Abiene knelt over the slop bucket, retching again. The potion she had attempted to make was too much for her healer’s stomach, already aggravated by chronic over-use of magicka potions. She had time between heaves for regrets. Shouldn’t have neglected Alchemy for so long, she chided herself. Her course of study at the Arcane University had demanded basic competence in the skill, but Abiene had fulfilled only the minimum requirements. She had no aptitude for the subject and a Restoration mage’s pride in her spells. That she guzzled restorative potions to maintain her schedule was a fact she conveniently ignored. There was always someone willing to brew them in exchange for a treatment, training, or just the ease of a healer’s touch.

Her stomach muscles relaxed, and she slumped back against the wall. The shakes set in. She wrapped her arms around herself until her body would cooperate. Too bad my Weatherward ring doesn’t help against this kind of chill. The ring felt loose on her finger. Remembering that day would bring want, not comfort. She turned her thoughts in a different direction.

Darnand. I should try again.

Abiene took a moment to run a wet cloth over her face and neck. At least the water is clean. Her chamber at the Grey Mare was windowless and bare, containing only a low chest and bedroll on the floor. A single candle barely lit the space. Abiene felt grateful for the gloom as she checked her eyes in a hand mirror. Fatigue and broken blood vessels made dark circles around them, but the whites were only bloodshot from vomiting, not blued from the poison. I look like a rabid raccoon, thought Abiene. It’s not worth healing now, and I need to conserve my magicka. Someone else might have fallen ill. She put the mirror away and reached for her crystal ball.

The effort to activate it was minimal as she would only cause the other ball to show a glimmer of light at its center. If Darnand saw he would cast the spell to open the connection between them.

Be there, she silently willed him. See me.

After a time she placed it back on the chest. Tears burned her eyes, and this time she lacked the resolve to deny them.


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post Jul 22 2013, 08:59 AM
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*

Honditar's questions to the Gate Guard elicited the white Khajiit’s entry into Chorrol, but neither of them had seen her exit. Abiene’s sources had been mistaken.

The guards were about to change shifts when he arrived, and Honditar’s ears perked up when he heard the suggestive banter between them. There was no doubt they were talking about Eyja, and it didn’t sit well with Honditar that one of the guards seemed to think he had a date to spend the night with her that night. He forced himself to ignore it for the moment, but couldn't say it left his mind.

His instincts were strong, and as more time passed he was sure that Earana had done something with the Khajiit. His best course of action would be to confront Earana with some of the leverage he had on her, the things Malintus Ancrus had revealed about her and Gaturn's activities. She may trade the Khajiit for his silence.

Earana was a creature of habit, Honditar always joked that he needed no sundial since she’d moved to Chorrol. She was always in her room at the Gray Mare by this time of night, usually with her Orc paramour if he wasn‘t on a “job.” Gaturn gro-Gonk’s job was robbing people.

Honditar was on his way to the Gray Mare when he caught sight of Sabine Laul and hailed her. She hadn’t seen the white Khajiit, but when he mentioned Earana she had an odd look cross her face.

“Funny you should mention her. I saw the oddest thing earlier this evening. Earana was leaned against the boarded door of that old cave along the city wall; just leaned there wiggling as if it were a lamppost and she was working the street. Her back was to me. Well, as I came nearer I realized she was actually leaning on it for support. She was vomiting like someone had poisoned her! All the wiggling I saw her doing was her heaving, I guess. What on Nirn would she be doing at that old cave?”

Honditar thanked Sabine with a quick hug. “You’re a treasure, me darlin’.”

“You haven’t been the same since that pirate came through here, I swear!” Sabine smacked his shoulder. “Go on, Rasheda will wonder what’s keeping me.”





***



The last thing Honditar wanted to do was listen at Earana and Gaturn's door and overhear them in what Emfrid had already described in too much detail to him as their private moments; but it was a good bet if they had done something to the white Khajiit they would be discussing it in there. He signaled Emfrid not to get up and steeled himself to creep up the stairs and listen.

Emfrid sat up anyway, her brows raised. “You and Abiene? I’d have never thought it!” She gave a wicked grin. “Hubba hubba Abiene! But you won’t get far tonight, I’ve been kept awake by her wretched retching all night.” She grinned again, and pulled back her blanket suggestively.

Honditar hurried over and kissed her cheek, whispering. “As if you would, I know where your heart lays. Keep your voice down, I am here to eavesdrop on Earana and Gaturn. I think they have done something to a Khajiit that was in town earlier, one that is supposed to be a guest at my home.”

“You and a Khajiit? I’d have never suspected...”

“Shh. She is Eyja’s friend.”

Emfrid pouted prettily. “Oh. Eyja‘s back, huh? And no need being quiet...”

She broke off and held up one finger pointed toward the ceiling.

“Do you hear that? You thought I was exaggerating, didn’t you? That is Abiene, she’s been doing that since she got here! I couldn’t serve a late supper with that going on, people began returning their plates thinking my food was bad, and two vomited just in case! Not even the regulars ran up a decent tab tonight; Valus Odiil even left, and he has no where to go! Stop laughing, I am serious. Honditar, Reynald Jemane went home early. Reynald! He said he’s quitting drinking!”

“He thought Abiene was vomiting from your drinks?”

“No, he thought HE was vomiting, but there was nothing on the floor! He thought he was delirious.”

“Aw, me poor darlin’” Honditar drawled, teasing to make her laugh.

“Are you still doing that darned pirate imitation? If he hadn’t spent so much at my bar I’d honestly wish he’d never came to town. You sound ridiculous, Honditar.“

“Look at me earings, Lass; not bad for a buccaneer.”

“Stop it, or I’m going back to bed.”




***


Honditar got serious quickly when she did.

“Listen Emfrid, I’m sure they’ve done something with the girl. I may just have to break in on them and demand answers. Don’t call the guards unless Gaturn is getting the best of me.”

“They’re gone, Honditar. Abiene is in their room now.”

“Gone! What do you mean?”

Emfrid got up quickly. “It’s truth. Earana gave up her room here this morning, Gaturn packed up all their belongings while Earana paid her shot. They hurried out of here like they had somewhere important to go. They came back just a little while ago looking for Abiene, both looking green around the gills like they were really sick. They were dressed to travel overland, Gaturn had a bedroll and winter gear tied to his pack.”

“They must be heading north. I need to find Eyja right away...maybe I’d better talk to Abiene first, see if they mentioned to her where they were going.”

“It’s not like you have to wake her.” Emfrid pointed to the ceiling as the sound of retching started again.

“Shiver me timbers, the Lass is ailin’!”

“Honditar, you’ve had your last free ale from me if you don’t stop that stupid pirate talk.”

Honditar grinned and kissed her cheek, then mussed her hair. “Night, me darlin’.”

He took his time going up the steps, only knocking after the retching stopped. Nearly as soon as he knocked he heard the inn door open and Emfrid’s response.

“Oh, it’s you.”

Honditar turned in relief, knowing there was only one person Emfrid would greet that way; and if she was here, then she wasn’t spending the night with that Gate Guard. He hurried back down the steps.

“Eyja, me darlin’!”

“Oh Honditar, you remembered how much I love that pirate imitation!”

Emfrid didn’t hide rolling her eyes.

Honditar squeezed Eyja’s hand. “News isn’t good on your Khajiit friend.” He went on to tell her everything he’d learned.

Eyja paled, and was nearly hyperventilating. Honditar gripped her shoulder tightly.

“You’d best talk to Abiene quickly, find out what she knows right away. If we’re to catch them we need to leave now.”

Eyja barely nodded, stumbling up the stairs to Abiene’s room.


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 22 2013, 09:33 AM


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post Jul 22 2013, 02:18 PM
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Abiene

Abiene leaned back and tossed a cloth over the bucket. Eating that scamp skin had been a mistake. It had tasted even worse on the way back out, and it seemed to have stayed down only long enough to damage her magicka. Now she was reluctant to spend any on a spell to soothe her own stomach. There was no telling what else the night would bring.

A knock sounded at her door. Abiene lurched to her feet, drawing the Absorb Health spell into her hand with a dreadful shudder. Can I do this? She hadn’t used it since she stood for her final Restoration exam at the University, and even then she’d failed to finish off her test subject. The memory made her falter.


Abiene looked down at the goblin through a red haze. Its life energy rushed in through her outstretched hand. Hot joy churned in her chest, mixed with a gibbering horror. Her victim’s last groan sounded along with a thin shriek of despair. Abiene realized the cry had come from her throat.

She broke the spell. The goblin turned its face toward her, lids blinking over empty eyes. It arms still strained against the bindings. Abiene knelt and reached for the pitiful creature, her hands filled with healing light.

A bolt of lightning sent its body spinning into the wall. Abiene wheeled around to face her examiners, fury boiling to the top of her emotions.

The representative from the University’s Destruction school spoke, sounding bored. “She fails.” Shock energy still danced across her palms.

Abiene’s advisor slowly shook his head. Disappointment clouded his face. He would not speak up for her. This had been her chance to prove herself.

Raminus Polus made a small sound, drawing everyone’s attention. He finished his notations with a flourish, then pushed the parchment aside. “She passes,” he announced. “Cyrodiil needs more Healers.”



Footsteps retreated from her door and down to the tavern level. Abiene sighed in relief.

Silly woman. Assassins don’t knock on the door. That may have been someone else who needs help.

She glanced down at herself while she attempted to fix her hair. Her linen shift fit like a potato sack, and it covered from collarbone to elbow to knee. Hardly presentable but not indecent. The sweat stains were regrettable, but the smell from the bucket should distract any visitors.

Footsteps approached her room. Abiene stepped into her quilted slippers. She did not anticipate running away, but shoes would likely be appropriate whatever the upcoming situation.

Her heart gave a nervous skip. I’m not waiting like some cornered rabbit. Abiene opened the door.

“Eyja!” The woman looked pale and distressed. Abiene strained to see around her, but there was no sign of Maxical.

She stepped back so Eyja could enter if she wished. Where is Maxical?




,


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post Jul 22 2013, 03:23 PM
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*


Eyja:

One look at Abiene, and even in the state she herself was in Eyja realized that nothing she said would connect. She needed Abiene to remember what Earana had said, and it wasn't going to happen with her in this state.

Eyja called Honditar while she dug in her pack. She pulled out several potions designed to ease her stomach, but only handed her one to drink.

When Honditar hovered outside the door, Eyja pointed to the slop bucket. "Get that out of here, or I'll be joining her. "

Eyja gave Abiene another potion for her stomach, then went out and picked the lock of the room next to the one Abiene was in. There was a clean single bed and a small tub in the corner, almost like one of the barrel troughs she'd seen at some stables. Eyja heated the water with a fire spell and dug out a bar of her own soap. There was no cloth to wash with, so Eyja pulled her dagger out and cut a square of the sheet from the bed. She went back to Abiene's room and all but carried her into the other guest room.

Eyja stripped Abiene's clothing off and helped her into the tub, then soaped up the sheet square and scrubbed her briskly with it. She lathered the soap in her hands and gently bathed the sweat and vomit from Abiene's hair with it, then heated the ewer water and poured it over her.

Eyja glanced around and cursed. No towels. She glanced through the dresser and found a cotton robe that she patted Abiene down with; then yanked back the sheets and helped Abiene into the bed and gave her another potion for her stomach, a very strong healing potion and one to restore her magicka.

"Abiene, Maxical has been kidnapped by Earana. Honditar says you healed Earana tonight, I need you to feel better so you can tell me everything. Honditar thinks they are in some cave, and may be bringing her somewhere in the North, I need to hear everything they said to you. Please get better quickly, every minute is one they are getting further away with Maxical. "


*


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post Jul 22 2013, 05:08 PM
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Abiene

Eyja took one look and sprang into action. Abiene found herself medicated, washed, dressed, and tucked into bed by brisk but gentle hands. She cooperated like an unusually obedient child. Honditar’s occasional presence no doubt had more to do with Eyja’s overflowing top and abbreviated skirt than Abiene’s intermittently bare state.

Then Eyja spoke. “Abiene, Maxical has been kidnapped by Earana. Honditar says you healed Earana tonight, I need you to feel better so you can tell me everything.”

The news brought Abiene upright in the bed. She started to organize the day’s events in her mind, then she realized that she should just start with Earana and let Eyja decide what was next.

“Earana and Mister gro-Gonk came to me for healing tonight. They had the same infection that I had. I’ve learned that I was the one who carried it to Chorrol from the Wayshrine. Athragar and some of the mages got it from me, but they didn’t spread it beyond the Guild hall. Thankfully it strikes so quickly and with such powerful symptoms that the afflicted don’t have much chance to infect others. Anyway I cured the two of them and they left. I asked Earana if she wanted to take some mandrake to eat in case she met anyone else who was ill. I swiped a good supply from the chapel and handed most of it out at the beggars’ camp earlier. I doubt that mandrake alone is enough to cure someone, but it should prevent a healthy person from becoming infected. Anyway she took a few pieces and asked me to sell her my cheapest Cure Disease potion. They were both chewing mandrake and giving me looks when they left. I guess it was obvious I wasn’t well.”

Abiene twisted her fingers together, pushing her worry down so she could continue.

“All day folk were telling me they heard a white Khajiit left through the main gate. They said they heard it from an orc. Eyja, I should have suspected something was amiss! I just thought Maxical had bought a potion so she’d feel better and was going back to the Goblet to look for you!”


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post Jul 23 2013, 12:53 AM
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His eyes fluttered open some hours later. It was morning. He liked mornings strangely enough. The beginning of the day after a decent rest was disconnected enough from the day before, and the promise of the new day was set before him.

Sethyas got off of the mattress, that was now bare of beddings because of a particular disposal run the night prior. Also the reason he was willing to trust and help Eyja. As much as two scorpions trusted one another, but perhaps they were the type of Predator that could hunt in packs.

She had actually stopped by to ask him for some of the more exotic ingredients from her needed list, when she intercepted a Dark Brother intent on ruining his meal and his night. As it turned out the man was here for him solely, and didn't know anything about the prior poisoning. The poisoned healer.

That meant a professional and a master alchemist were behind it. They could be one in the same, they could be two different people. Among the concerns raised by her, was that if they went to a master Alchemist it could be the one that made it to begin with and might finish the job.

Sethyas revealed that he just so happened to be considered one. At least by the Mages Guild. Their assessment of his skill ranked him at 96. That was fifty years prior. He'd been around quite a bit in those years since, seeking adventure and knowledge in the surrounding provinces with projects to keep him busy. He had taken Divayth Fyr's advice in that regard.

If you live for four-thousand years, you need a project; a hobby to keep you interested. Mine just so happens to be corpus disease.

He reminisced that that same 'disease' of which Fyr simply removed the 'negative' effects from, gave him complete immunity to both disease and age. He was biologically immortal. A steep fall, a lucky shot, a poisoned meal, and he would die. But in these last two hundred years almost, it hadn't gotten him yet.

He started taking out various wares and foodstuffs and grabbed a few things from his alchemy satchel, pondering when Eyja most likely would stop by with the ingredients for the potion.

He considered putting on a shirt, but it would be warm with the burner going.

*OOC: Just for you mALX wink.gif**

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post Jul 23 2013, 03:34 AM
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*

Eyja glanced at Honditar lingering in the doorway when Abiene said that Earana and Gaturn had the same disease she had. His eye caught hers with confirmation he had come to the same conclusion from it.

When Abiene mentioned Earana and Gaturn buying that cheap Cure Disease potion, Eyja gave an involuntary moan and turned to Honditar; once again his eyes showed his thoughts concurred with hers. That was purchased to give to Maxical, meaning Maxical must be too ill to help them in whatever experiment Earana had planned for her.

Eyja felt like a taut rubber strap about to snap. If Maxical was well she could handle most dangers and there would be little need for worry. Maxical's penchant for getting into trouble usually arose from gullibility and trusting people before finding out if they deserved that trust. Where she was normally capable, in illness she was the exact opposite. Helpless to the extreme.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's all the proof I need that at least one or maybe both of them has been in close contact with Maxical; and that she is ill. Maybe Maxical got weak, and they had to help her walk like she did with Abiene?"

Honditar hesitated, then shook his head no. "Before a few days ago I might have believed that. Now I'm more inclined to think they forced her bodily to accompany them. They may have used a ruse to get her out of the guard's view, then forced her down into the sewer system."

"The sewers!" Eyja clutched the lip of the bath tub barrel, wishing there was someone she could release the rage building in her on.

"Earana was outside a cave known to be loaded with traps and bandits; but what few know is that it accesses the sewers below Chorrol. They can get in and out of the city without being seen by the guard that way."

Honditar gave a slight shrug of one shoulder. "Nermus the Mooch said there's people living down there in the sewers, if you can believe a beggar."

Eyja stopped him. "Always believe the beggars. They are everywhere in a city and no one notices them, they see things most don't. People assume their ramblings are madness, but they rarely lie except to get your gold. Give a beggar twenty Septims and you have bought yourself the best spy one could have, and cheap at the price."

Eyja's voice was rising as something struck her that Honditar had said earlier and she'd let pass without questioning it in the shock of learning Maxical had been kidnapped.

"What kind of experiments is she doing on Khajiit?" It almost came out as a scream. Eyja sucked in her breath with force before continuing.

"The beggars have to know something. Find out what Earana is doing in these experiments, where she is keeping these Khajiit, where she is going with Maxical. Give them the twenty gold first and don't ask any questions till they've offered you a blessing for it. Wait till it is in their pocket, then ask. Check every beggar in the city, some may know something another doesn't. Do you need funds?"

Honditar was already gone before she offered the funds, Eyja heard the main door bang shut before she could turn back to Abiene.

"I'm sorry, just tense over Maxical. Honditar knows me well and will understand. Abiene, can you think of anything, even something you might think insignificant that they may have mentioned? Honditar said she is using Khajiit as test subjects in her experiments, but he has never learned what she does with them."


*


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post Jul 23 2013, 04:07 AM
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Abiene

Eyja and Honditar discussed the new information. Abiene listened with growing horror as they determined that Maxical had been kidnapped.

Honditar left in a rush, and Eyja turned to Abiene. “Can you think of anything, even something you might think insignificant that they may have mentioned? Honditar said she is using Khajiit as test subjects in her experiments, but he has never learned what she does with them.”

Test subjects? Abiene took a deep breath, pushing back her exhaustion to focus on the question.

“Earana asked for a potion to protect against shock burns. I didn’t have one, but I did have a suggestion. I remembered Darnand and Jerric fooling with some old Dwemer thing they brought back from Skyrim. Jerric was working on it while Darnand made notes or something. I wasn’t really paying attention. But Jerric kept getting shocked and only absorbed it about half of the time. He got mad and gave the thing a smack. Then Darnand got annoyed and told him to sit on a Welkynd stone. I thought they were just being rude to one another, but Lildereth went and got him one. He didn’t actually sit on it, of course. He tucked it under his arm. Well anyway the point is I told Earana perhaps it would help prevent a shock burn if she held on to a Welkynd stone.”

Abiene chewed the corner of her lip. “If I wanted to get my hands on a Welkynd stone, I’d go to the Mages Guild. But there may be a collector somewhere in town. I wouldn’t know about that, but I could ask around. Whatever you need, Eyja.” Bold words for a woman who is lying limp in a bed. “Maxical is in terrible danger. My ingredients can wait. I’ll just keep healing myself until she’s back with you, and safe.”




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post Jul 23 2013, 05:23 AM
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*

Eyja thought her head would explode when she heard what Earana had been asking about.

"Maxical has complete weakness to magic! She wears rings, an amulet...her greaves; they all absorb or reflect spells, but if they've stolen them from her..."

Eyja drummed her fingers restlessly on the bureau top, staring hard at Abiene but not really seeing her. Somewhere in the back of her mind was a feeling she'd heard something about this before, but what?

"Abiene, think hard; anything having to do with shock spells you've learned in the Mages Guild; places that had some weird phenomenon. Wasn’t there some secret Ayleid dungeon they found below a cave a few years back? I thought the Black Horse Courier article about it said something about the Mages Guild losing a member because of shock traps set up. Maybe she is trying to access an ancient treasure and using Khajiit to test the trap...”

Eyja felt sick at the thought. “Ask at the guild if she purchased a Welkynd Stone, if she has to find one first that could buy us some time. I think they come from dungeons...”

Abiene’s last words reminded Eyja about the ingredients.

“Oh. I have found a Master Alchemist that has agreed to make your potions. He is at the Wobbly Goblet Inn, and can be trusted; whereas any local Alchemist must be suspect. He had all the rarest ingredients except the Scrib Jelly. While Honditar questions the beggars I’ll run the ingredients you’ve gathered to him. The potions are much milder on your system, you won’t be ill like this with them.”

Eyja took the sack of ingredients from Abiene. “Tell Honditar where I’ve gone, and any information you come across or remember. Oh, and speaking of the Wobbly Goblet, I overheard that two people have disappeared; someone named Stefania, and a little boy called Lleris. The Orc that runs the place was bawling over him. She is worried he may be ill with this contagious disease. I thought of Earana, but Honditar is sure she only uses beast races in her...experiments.”

Eyja cast chameleon and left quickly, without giving Abiene a chance to respond.





***



Eyja was surprised to see the early sun rising when she left the Gray Mare. Time was passing too quickly, it felt like trying to run in quicksand; but in the longrun it would help to have an idea where they were going other than “North.” If Emfrid was right that they were going cross country, there would be no way to find them without an idea of where they were headed. She hoped having to find a Welkynd Stone would slow them down.

Without thinking, Eyja gave the coded knock on Seth’s door that she’d always used with Foxy, he knew her knock from any other. Seth gapped the door the same way Foxy always did, just enough to say “enter” without opening it enough to say “welcome.”


"I can't stay long, I..." Eyja broke off and glanced around startled. The inn room looked like a full alchemy lab with bubbling liquids and fires under glass vented bottles held up by temporary brackets.

“Are you making the potion already? I have all the ingredients here!” She held out the sack from Abiene and the one of items he had given her last night.

His eyes flickered with wry humor at her words.

"What is it then?"



*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 23 2013, 08:46 AM


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post Jul 23 2013, 10:33 AM
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"This isn't for a potion." Sethyas said, putting a handful of beans into a pot.

"This is my breakfast. You really think I'm going to trust anyone else with my food after last night?" He explained, cracking a couple of eggs over a tin plate modified to serve as a pan, it stood on top of some wire legs with a burner just below it.

"Those are the rest of the items, then." he said with a nod to her items, stirring the yolk and whites together with a fork, and tossing a handful of some dried herb to the mix.

He went to another setup, and smelled the progress it was making.

"So we just need some scrib jelly to finish it up, if memory serves." He stated, and wafted some steam towards his face with a gentle wave of his hand.

"I'll see what I can't do to try and get some. It's rare out here, but not uncommon. Especially as it's one of the few imports that the Imperials actually like from Morrowind. As well as saltrice...." he said, suddenly snapping his fingers.

"That's perfect!" He exclaimed. "Saltrice is the perfect substitute!"

Eyja seemed to be be confused, and scared to ask if he meant for the potion or his food.

He grabbed a handful of it from his foodstuffs, in a neat bunch with a strip of paper holding it together.

"Saltrice is Morrowind's version of wheat, used in making their baked goods. The largest commodity out there." He started to explain.

"But--it's also one of the best ingredients for restoratives! You can make a double effect potion of Health and Fatigue with it...and as a nice bonus it will actually fortify magicka." He explained. "There's a nasty side effect where it will actually drain strength if not prepared correctly, but I know how to prepare it correctly."

He nodded his head to a table, as his uncharacteristic enthusiasm with his hobby and trade seemed to put a gleam in his eyes. "Go ahead and leave them there."

"I can have this potion ready in about an hour." He explained.

He stopped suddenly when something in his mind clicked. He didn't quite put the two together until just now.

"Did you mention that your contract involved a white Khajiit?" He asked.
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post Jul 24 2013, 02:05 AM
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*

Eyja:

The aroma of food and cooking began to fill the air, reminding Eyja she hadn't eaten anything but a mandrake root since before yesterday morning. Nords weren't made for fasting, and smelling the food was making her stomach ache and groan.

There wasn't anytime to think about eating now, and as Seth said; she wouldn't trust the food here. She'd have to grab raw ingredients off the trail as they searched for Maxical. It wouldn't be the first time, probably not the last either that she'd have to survive that way.


Being well rested suited Seth, he was talkative and energetic, even humorous. His eyes gleamed with enjoyment in what he was doing, Eyja wasn't sure if it was the cooking he was so enthusiastic about or the alchemy of it.

Either way, he was a god in his own domain with all his alchemical equipment boiling and brewing; and doing it bare-chested enhanced the image. Any other time she would have lingered and enjoyed watching him doing something he obviously loved.

There was some intangible quality about Seth, a charisma that drew one into him. She had trusted him instantly on meeting, and knew beyond doubt he would never betray that trust. There were only two others she'd ever felt that kind of chemistry with; one was the purest relationship of her lifetime; Foxy, her boss and mentor. The other was the only love of her life, who lay in an unmarked grave now. She knew where it was, but wouldn't go. She'd seen him dead, that was enough to torment her the rest of her life.

Eyja pulled herself from her reverie with a start. Seth was eyeing her quizzically.

"I...did you say...yes, she is a white Khajiit. Seth, she has been kidnapped. The woman who took her has been using Khajiit for some experiments involving shock spells. I think she is trying to bypass a trap on an Ayleid treasure of some sort and kidnaps beast races to use as test subjects and absorb the shock in her stead."

Eyja fidgeted before going on, taking a pace around the room.

"She's taken her somewhere North, but we have no idea of her destination, there are literally dozens of Ayleid sites North of here. I wouldn't tell this next but for the danger she is already in. It can go no further if she survives this, she has too many enemies that would use it to their advantage. Maxical has some disorder, she has complete vulnerability to magic, poisons, disease. A shock spell could kill her, and she was very ill before they took her. She caught that contagious disease going around the inn, the healer she helped was carrying it."

Eyja strangled her emotions back on a choke before continuing.

"I may have to leave before the hour, if so I'll insist the healer stay and wait for the potion. Right now my friend Honditar is bribing the beggars for any information he may learn of their destination. The healer Abiene is at the Mages Guild trying to learn which Ayleid sites may have shock traps. They are coming here to fetch me and we leave immediately to hunt for them. They have hours of advance on us already."

Eyja balled her hands into fists so tight that her nails dug into the skin of her palms to keep the weakness she was feeling from showing in front of Seth; but he knew. She saw the realization reflected in his eyes.

She turned away, averting her face so he wouldn't see the anguish in her eyes; giving up the pretense with a slight shrug of one shoulder. In a hoarse whisper she admitted what he had already seen.

"Our lives call for detachment, but in truth I have become attached to her. She is the same age my sister was when she died, and I see too much of my sister in her; and in too many ways. I couldn't stand it if she was lost. It is beyond the task."


*

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post Jul 24 2013, 10:38 AM
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Sethyas did what he did best. Observed and listened, drawing an assessment as objectively as he could. She may have been getting paid, or some other form of barter to protect the Khajiit's life, but she clearly would do it gladly for free now.

He also found it difficult not to personalize things along the way at times. Only the best individuals could bring out this type of reaction from him. He expected more from himself, and as such expected more from others. When the rare and exceptional individual met those expectations, he did much for them. Eyja so far had met those expectations.

"Then I may or may not have some information in that regard. I saw two individuals headed northwest. One was tall and lithe, likely Altmer as I only saw the hands...her stride suggested female; the other's stride suggested Khajiit. As well as the white tail and hands that were visibly exposed. Both were dressed in dark robes and hoods." he recounted.

He looked over the ingredients, then Eyja's pained expression.

Damn. I'm the only one that can do this for an absolute certainty right this moment.

"If you go after them..." He started, shaking his head. Something about Eyja, and her speaking of her sister. He understood all too well.

He grabbed one of the eight ancient silver daggers he had picked up from Hanin's tomb in Morrowind nearly two hundred years ago. The daggers were older than that, by a millenia or two. Whomever had enchanted them was a master. They never tarnished or rusted, and the potent poison they had was somehow part of the overall make-up.

He handed it to her. "Take this, you may need it. If anything goes wrong...use the amulet I gave you. I'll...try to catch up if I can."

He'd accepted the task of aiding her out of a sense of honor, as she had saved his life. He was just tired enough, he may have eaten the meal. Mithridatism had given him a high tolerance to poison with all the samples he'd tried with wortcraft, but he was hardly immune.

Now he was starting to identify with her adversities. Being back in Cyrodiil, his original homeland wasn't doing much to help stop that either.

This post has been edited by Black Hand: Jul 25 2013, 11:13 PM
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