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> Old Habits Die Hard Part Two, An old dog learns new tricks
haute ecole rider
post May 26 2010, 06:29 PM
Post #1


Master
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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



Hi all,

To continue my story, I decided to break it up in more manageable chunks. The 200 post limit seems to be a reasonable number.

You can see Chapters 1-7 here:

Now begins Chapter 8.

Back on the road again, Julian catches up with a friend, and makes another, among the Legion riders. Riding along the Blue Road under the full moons is special. I hope I’ve managed to convey that feeling to all my readers.

This post is a little longer than my self-imposed limit, but it was hard to edit a much longer interlude down into something that was more manageable for the forums and still had the important stuff.

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Chapter 8.1 Bandits and Riders

Paint was eager to go. He chose to gallop around the Red Ring Road, only slowing down when we caught up to Marc Atellus between Sercen and Red Roxey Inn. Blowing and bouncing as he slowed down to match the Legion horse’s slow amble, Paint whickered at the other horse.

“Hello, Julian!” Atellus greeted me heartily. He slapped his left thigh. “Thanks to you, all healed now!”

“Good,” I mirrored his grin as I tried to catch my breath. “I’m glad to see you again, Atellus.”

“In these dark times, friends are more valuable than treasure,” the Legion rider commented as the two horses continued down the road at an easy pace. “Your horse looks well-rested this afternoon.”

“He should be, sir,” I responded, slapping the brown-and-white neck fondly. “He’s been loafing for the past two days, since I saw you last. He just galloped all the way from Weye.”

Atellus’s brows lifted beneath his helm. “All that way?” he whistled. “Paint must be feeling really good today!” He laughed as Paint tossed his head and bounced twice, as if in agreement. The Legion bay pinned his ears briefly at Paint, who subsided and became sedate again. “Shush, Bucky,” Atellus chided his mount quietly, with amusement in his voice. “Our horses may seem lazy,” he admitted to me, “but it’s because they go all day and all night, with little time for rest. They’re smart enough to conserve their energy.”

“I’ve noticed, sir,” I responded. “It’s a good thing when you have to ride long hours.”

“So, Julian, where are you and Paint headed on this fine afternoon?” Atellus asked.

“Cheydinhal, sir,” I answered. Ahead, in the shadows thrown by the westering sun, I saw a shabby little inn off to the north of the road, tucked beneath high mountains.

“That’s Roxey Inn,” Atellus pointed at it. “And we’re near the end of my patrol. You’ll run into Marius Tarquinius between here and Wellspring Cave, just past the Blue Road. Caelius Drusus patrols the Blue Road. He’s the youngest of us, and has never served in the provinces.”

“Is he the least experienced, sir?” I asked.

“Humph,” Atellus shook his head. “Actually, Drusus has done nothing but patrol,” he responded. “Started out as a forester, so he’s a pretty tough character.” He looked hard at me. “I mention him because he’s likely the least prejudiced of all of us riders.”

“Against Redguards, you mean, sir?” I asked, thinking of Adrian Remus, the rider I had encountered east of Skingrad. He had been cool, even suspicious, toward me, though he had maintained a professional demeanor. Atellus nodded, a little ruefully.

“And Dunmer,” he added. “That’s why he’s assigned to the Cheydinhal patrol route. That city’s half Dunmer as it is. He gets along very well with everyone there.” Atellus halted Bucky and threw me a half salute before turning the bay back westward. “Farewell, Julian!”

“Thanks for the company, sir,” I said. “Stay safe,” I called to his departing back. “And watch out for marauder archers!” His guffaw trailed behind him. Paint resumed his slow walk. Patting his neck again, I found it cool. “Out of energy, Paint?” I asked him. He tossed his head and bounced once, but resumed his walk immediately.

The night settled around as we turned onto the cobblestones of the Blue Road. The highway climbed steeply to the top of a ridge, and Paint marched resolutely up the slope. Near the top of the hill, I spotted the ruins of an old farmstead to the right of the road. When I saw movement within the ruins, I stopped Paint near an oak tree about twenty meters away. After I dismounted, I limped forward, the Kvatch Wolf in my left hand, my right hand near the hilt of my katana.

Two shadows detached themselves from the ruin, one carrying a hammer, the other a shortsword. They separated as they drew near. I recognized the tactic from my years in the service. They intended to attack me from opposite sides. I hobbled toward the swordsman, barely recognizable as a Redguard in the darkness, and ducked his blade, circling to get him between me and the hammer-wielding Khajiit. My katana picked up the starlight along its slender blade. My buckler blocked the sword strike from the Redguard, and I shoved him back into the Khajiit, sending both of them staggering.

Before the swordsman could recover, I brought the edge of my shield down on his sword arm, feeling the bones snap beneath the metal disc. With a groan, he hunched over his broken arm. In spite of his greater weight, I managed to knock him aside in time to backhand my katana against the man-feline. The tip of my blade sliced through the other’s upraised right arm.

The Khajiit spat as my blade caught on the edge of his leather cuirass. He pulled back, freeing my katana, and raised his hammer again with more difficulty. My sword slipped beneath his chin, twisting through his throat and tearing it out sideways.

As he fell back, a shout reminded me of the Redguard with the broken arm. As I hopped to my right and spun around to face him, I saw that a Legion rider had already engaged the bandit. Awkward with the sword in his left hand, the Redguard was no match for a fresh fighter, and a heavily armored one at that.

Kneeling stiffly to wipe my bloodied blade on the Khajiit’s sackcloth pants, I sheathed it as the rider strode up to me, his own weapon put away. “Caelius Drusus?” I asked, aware of his assessing gaze and the way his eyes lingered on the Kvatch Wolf in my left hand.

“Yes,” he answered, “and you must be Julian.”

“I see you’ve heard about me already,” I muttered. “Thanks for your help, sir.”

“Yes, I have heard about you,” Drusus remarked, amused. “Are you unhurt, I hope?”

“I’m fine, sir,” I answered. “Tired of battling bandits and marauders, though.”

“Well, if you’re going to Cheydinhal,” Drusus remarked, lighting the torch, “you’ll probably run into another bandit ambush about half a kilometer west of the city gates.” The torchlight illuminated the youth in the other’s face, as well as the experience in his level gaze. He shrugged. “They are never around when I ride by, but travelers have come to grief there. They’ve been particularly -” he paused, “bothersome lately.”

“Well, I’ll see when I get there, sir,” I commented. I turned back to look for Paint. “I left my horse back a ways.”

“I did, too,” Drusus admitted. “Tell you what, I’m weary of hearing about those invisible bandits. They’ll likely ambush you - with that white hair of yours they’ll think you’re easy game. I’ve got to ride on down to Fort Urasek,” he indicated the ruined fort on the lakeshore, past the end of the Blue Road, “then come back toward Cheydinhal. If you wait for me, maybe we can take care of those bandits once and for all.”

“All right,” I said. “I’ll travel slow until you catch up to me.”

“Travel real slow,” his tone was dry. I couldn’t help smiling at his irony.

Masser and Secunda were just rising over the eastern horizon when Paint and I passed the ruined farmstead. He was all too happy to remain at a slow amble for now. The road floated along the shoulder of the foothills to the north, the lofty Jeralls just visible beyond. To the south, on my right, the land dropped away into an expansive plain, dotted with groves, small lakes, and a single Ayleid ruin.

I spotted an overgrown gateway and a faint dirt path heading north into the foothills just past the farmstead. Briefly I wondered what lay at the end of that path.

Deer spooked at us and ran off, quick shadows highlighted by the white undersides of their tails. A grey ghost paced us from the side of the road, but veered off when Paint turned his head and looked directly at him without faltering in his stride. That wolf’s not hungry tonight. Bet those bandits up ahead are. I followed the wraithlike form with my gaze as the canine ran up a bank to the shore of a highland lake, just north of the road, its waterfall argent in the growing moonlight.

Ahead, the trees became thicker as the road began to rise into the foothills of the Valus Mountains to the east. A crenellated silhouette of a wall nearly blended into the treetops, only the right angles along the top of the barrier giving away its manmade origins. I slowed Paint even more and waited until I could hear the clopping of Drusus’s mount behind us. At the bottom of the slope, I stopped and dismounted from Paint. As I limped forward, I strained my eyes into the shadows on either side of the road, where thick trees and boulders crowded close.

Perfect place for an ambush. No wonder Drusus never saw anyone here - plenty of places to hide close to the road. Shaking my shield into my left hand, I drew my katana. A bird whistle - birdcalls in the middle of the night? - prompted me to raise my buckler as the thwap! of a snapping bowstring followed. The broadhead arrow smacked into the light iron, staggering me to the right. Booted footsteps on my right drew my head and katana around in time to catch the wrist of a mace-wielding woman. I kept my shield to the north side of the road, where I knew the bowman hid, and elbowed the female Redguard hard, freeing my blade from the bones of her wrist and kicking her legs from beneath her.

Drusus’s footfalls and clanking armor reached me. Still focused on the Redguard woman at my feet, I shouted at him, “Archer, in the trees on the left!” Drusus changed direction, and his footfalls went silent as he left the cobblestones of the road.

The woman regained her feet with an agility that surprised even me. She proved to be ambidextrous, just as adept with the mace in her left hand as in her right. She charged me, and before I could back away, she was inside my guard and swinging that mace low. The heavy iron head smashed into my right hip. With a groan, I danced left, chopping downwards with my katana to catch her left elbow. The blade bit into bone before skittering away, tearing muscle and tendon with it.

Effectively neutralized, the bandit dropped back, her mace striking sparks as it landed on the cobblestones and rolled away. Shouts in the trees across the road told me that Drusus had found the archer. Lifting the tip of my blade, I pointed it at the Redguard’s throat. “Are there more of you?” I demanded.

Her jaw clenched in defiance, the bandit used her right forearm to knock my katana away. Her left foot came up and slammed me in my belly, knocking the wind out of me. I managed to recover before she could follow through, and stabbed the katana into her lower abdomen. As I sliced the tip of my blade sideways, I heard her gasp, and stepped back as she shuddered to the cobblestones, blood appearing black beneath her body in the moonlight.

Short of breath, I looked around as the shouting fell into immense silence. Turning towards the trees where Drusus had disappeared, I limped across the road, my right hip stabbing with each step. The Legion rider reappeared out of the forest, sheathing his sword. A couple of arrows protruded from his chest plate, a couple more in his shield.

“There,” he said, catching his breath, and walking up to me. He yanked the two arrows out of his armor and looked at me, “That went rather well, I may say so.” His gaze sharpened on my face. “Are you hurt, Julian?”

“Ach,” I groaned as my hip twinged. “She managed to hit me once or twice, sir.” Together, we pulled the bandit’s body off the road, placing the corpse behind a clump of azaleas. I turned down the slope and started limping back to the horses. “It’ll heal,” I added, casting my healing as I spoke.

“I see Atellus is right,” Drusus said, an approving note in his voice. “You do know how to fight.”

I shook my head. “I don’t think I’m as good as I used to be, sir,” I answered. “It’s been a while.”

“Don’t worry, it’ll come back,” Drusus assured me as we reached the horses. My hip protested at the thought of mounting up, so I picked up Paint’s rein and started trudging for Cheydinhal. Drusus fell into step beside me, his bay trailing behind.

“I do hope I get it back, sir,” I muttered. “It would seem my work is far from done.”

“There are days when it seems like it never ends, huh?” Drusus commented. I nodded at the wisdom of his words. He may be young, as Atellus said, but experienced beyond his years. At the top of the slope, the closed gates of Cheydinhal visible less than a hundred meters away, Drusus stopped and mounted his mare.

“Thanks for your help, Julian.” He pointed out the stables to the left of the road. “There’s Black Waterside Stables. If you leave your horse in the corral, they’ll take care of him. You can pay them later.” He considered me a moment longer. “Get a bed at the Newlands Lodge. The innkeeper is a Dunmer, but it’s warm, cheap and comfortable. You’ll do well to stay there. There is the Cheydinhal Bridge Inn, but it’s more expensive.”

“All right, Drusus, thanks,” I said, leading Paint towards the stable corral. “I’ll see you again, sir.”

This post has been edited by haute ecole rider: May 26 2010, 11:37 PM


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mALX
post May 26 2010, 06:38 PM
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Ancient
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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



This was one of my favorite chapters before, and I still love it - but one of my all time favorites is coming up in the lodge!!!


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Acadian
post May 26 2010, 07:33 PM
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Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Just caught up with chapters 7.4 - 8.1

Congratulations on starting a new thread here! Best wishes as you continue forward.

I enjoy travelling with Julian. I particularly like the intimacy that can be provided when you embrace the first person POV as you have so effectively done. I also continue to enjoy the personna that you bring to Paint. Well done!


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Olen
post May 26 2010, 07:46 PM
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Mouth
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Joined: 1-November 07
From: most places



Good chapter smile.gif The bandits will be avoiding her at this rate - if there's any left.

Again it's nice to see characters from earlier in the story popping up again, it gives a sense of a three dimensional living world. I can't wait to see how you deal with Chedinhal, it's a great city.


Only one nit:
“Are you unhurt, I hope?” -- it might be an accent thing but this read strangely to me. Either 'I hope you are unhurt' or 'You are unhurt, I hope' would seem more normal, to me at least.


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SubRosa
post May 26 2010, 11:29 PM
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



Ahh, it is Marc again. Always good to see an old face. And Tarquinius? Would he be the last king of Wellspring Cave (before Brutus overthrows him of course)? Seriously though, I like that you are using ancient Roman names for all of them, it brings a sense of overall cohesion to the setting.

with that white hair of yours they’ll think you’re easy game.
Obviously those bandits have never met Elric of Melnibone... wink.gif

The road floated along the shoulder of the foothills
This is a particularly lovely description.

So Julian will be spending the night at the Newlands Lodge? I wonder if she will bump into a red-haired Bosmer there? biggrin.gif


nits:
“Started out as a forester, so he’s a pretty tough honoured user.”
Looks like the board got you. Somehow I think Marc intended to make a comment about the legitimacy of Drusus' parentage...

In spite of his greater weight, I managed to knock him aside in time to backhand my katana against the man-feline.
man-feline sounds a little odd. I know that Bethesda has not given us many terms to use for Khajiit and Argonians, but perhaps saying just feline , or cat, would flow smoother. Or even just a more generic bandit or outlaw.

The battles were picture perfect in description. I can see how you have really gone over them and tweaked the writing to perfection. However, one thing I am seeing is that you are portraying the bandits exactly as they are in the game. That is to say with a total disregard for their own lives. It makes sense that religious fanatics like the Mythic Dawn would be suicidal. Same with undead and perhaps some monsters. But simple outlaws? Showing bandits fleeing after being disabled would be much more believable behavior, imho. It all comes down to how you want to write the story, more like the game, or more like reality. I think that in many respects you want it more like reality, which is the only reason I bring it up.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: May 27 2010, 02:45 PM


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D.Foxy
post May 27 2010, 03:28 PM
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Knower
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And here we go to part two! I for one am not parting with you...


...I may not post after every chapter, but rest assured I am still reading along!
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Destri Melarg
post May 28 2010, 09:09 AM
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Mouth
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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



Starting a new thread after 200, eh? Yet another idea of yours that I am going to have to steal! happy.gif

Like I told you the first time I read this chapter, I like the way that you deal with bigotry in Cyrodiil. One of my biggest pet peeves is the way that people mistake bigotry for racism. Adrian Remus east of Skingrad is not a racist, he is a bigot. If he had the power to keep Julian from joining the Legion in the first place, that would make him a racist.

I can see the attention to detail that you have been paying to the fight sequences. Your battle scenes are some of the finest I have read. The only minor thing that I will say to you by way of critique is to be careful that you don’t lose the suspense that I remember from reading it before. Julian’s fights are never easy, but not since she was in Oblivion fighting Dremora did I have the feeling that she could actually lose. I know part of that is her returning strength and skill, another part of it is the level of opponent that she has been facing of late. Still another part is that I am reading this (and enjoying it) for the second time. I am sure that you have something planned for later in the story, and I for one can’t wait to read the part where Julian is clearly over her head in a violent situation, and how she survives it.


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haute ecole rider
post May 28 2010, 04:26 PM
Post #8


Master
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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



@mALX: So the lodge scene is one of your favorites? Wait until she comes back to the lodge! I know you haven't read that part yet, since it has not yet been posted on the other forum.

@Acadian: Thanks for the continued support! I'll start posting new material next week that no one has read yet, so be sure to check in once a week at least!

@Olen: Good call on the remark by Drusus. I'll rethink that one and fix it later. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. At this point in the story, Julian doesn't spend much time in Cheydinhal, but she will eventually come to love it as much as I do, dichotomy and all. However, Anvil remains our favorite.

@SubRosa: I hope you like how I portrayed Romalen here. She is one of my favorite NPC's in Cheydinhal. Darn the censor! Drusus meant it as a sign of respect. As for the description of the Khajiit, I struggled with that one. Cat-man? Man-cat? Feline-man? I wanted to indicate that though Khajiiti and Argonians may be descended from cats and lizards respectively, they are as - well, human as men and mer, and therefore just as deserving of respect and courtesy, at least from Julian's POV. And thanks for the reminder about the bandits. I'll keep it in mind as we go along.

@Foxy: As long as you let me know when I screw up my combat scenes, that's all I ask from my vulpine friend. I know I don't have to ask for innuendos from you! biggrin.gif

@Destri: Bigotry is way more prevalent than racism in real life, and a lot harder to combat. No, Remus isn't racist, just a bigot. And he's quite perlite about it, too. Thanks for the comments on my combat scenes. Julian will get banged up and beaten down a few more times before the end of the Main Quest. I will keep that in mind, though. She does meet bigger and badder foes as the story goes on. However, it's not the foes she's scared of, it's the rookies she has to fight with that scare her. You'll see . . .

Now I'm getting to the part of the story that some of you missed over on the Unnamed Forum. Basically interest in it there has been dead in the water, so I'm unlikely to continue it there. I hope that all of you reading here will continue to find this a good read.

And today is an absolutely gorgeous day, so I'm taking my mother to the Morton Arboretum (outside Chicago) for a picnic lunch and a walk among the trees. She hasn't been there since she had her picture taken with her dad when she was thirteen. He passed away the next year. I've never been.


In this next chapter, Julian finally has a chance to rest and recuperate.

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Chapter 8.2 Searching for Enlightenment

After settling Paint in for the night, I limped up to the closed gates of the city. A lone guard stood outside, his mailed armor covered by a surcoat. Entwined green vines on an ochre background covered the front of his surcoat and marked his shield.

“Out late, traveler,” he greeted me.

“Yes, sir, and I’m tired,” I answered, hearing the persistent pain in my voice. “I’d like to head in and find a bed.”

“Of course,” he said, knocking a rhythm on the heavy wooden panel with his gauntleted fist. The thick timbers rattled as the crossbar on the other side thumped out of place. The gate creaked open, and another guard peered out. “A traveler,” the first soldier said. The other stepped back to let me in.

As I turned to help him close the heavy gate, his eye fell on the Wolf on my left arm. “Hey, you’re the Hero of Kvatch, aren’t you?” he exclaimed, his gaze moving from the shield to my face. “The one that closed the Oblivion Gate and saved the city?”

“It was too late to save the city,” I answered, too weary to shush him. May as well get used to it. The gate closed behind me, I regarded the quiet street before me. Two half-timbered structures stood near the gate, directly across from each other. Cheydinhal Bridge Inn, the sign on the right said. The Newlands Lodge stood opposite, on my left. With a good-night nod at the guard, I limped toward the inn on the left.

Its diamond paned windows gleamed golden in the late night. The moonlight shone on the pale river stones that made up its foundation and ground floor walls. The upper level, half-timbered in elaborate patterns, rose to a steep-pitched shale roof. Four stone steps, rounded to match the contour of the corner tower, led to the reinforced wooden door in the base.

Smoky darkness welcomed me within, the common room just a little warm for my comfort. Grouped around a couple of small tables, five or six Orsimeri dwarfed their seats as they hunched together, murmuring between themselves. They gave me an assessing gaze as I looked past them to another room, where I saw the bar and the proprietor. As I limped by their table, I returned the gaze of each Orc without pausing long on any one visage.

At the bar, I set my pack and shield down and selected a stool, adjusting the katana at my hip so I could grab it if needed. The hard stares of those Orcs did not sit well with me.

“Hello,” the Dunmer woman behind the bar greeted me, setting a clay goblet before me. “Welcome to the Newlands Lodge. I’m Dervera Romalen, proprietor. What’s your pleasure, muthsera?”

“I’m Julian, from Anvil,” I answered. “Water, and some hot food, please, muthsera.”

“Did you run into those bandits in the valley west of here?” Romalen met my gaze. Looking down at my hands, I saw the blood stains on my right wrist and on the front of my leather.

“They won’t be a problem any more,” I said, scrubbing my right hand on my greaves. Romalen dipped a clean rag in a bucket of water beside the bar, wrung it out, and handed it to me wordlessly. “Thanks,” I said, wiping the blood from my hands, then my cuirass. “So I’m tired, I’m hurting, and I want a place to sleep tonight. Drusus told me this was a good place for it.”

“Of course,” Romalen smiled at the compliment, placing a bowl of stew in front of me. “This is a Dark Elf bar. Cursing, spitting, and screaming? No problem. Fighting’s fine with me, too, only the Guard objects. They’ll fine you or lock you up.” She shrugged. “Not my call. But I’m glad Drusus put in a good word. You’d think he’d prefer the other place, being Imperial and all.”

“He said you’re a good value for the price,” I answered. “I think the other place would have a problem with me walking in covered with blood.”

“None of it’s yours, I hope,” Romalen commented as she watched me eat. I shook my head, my mouth full of food. A shout from the other room caused her to scowl. “Give me a moment,” she said to me. She filled a large clay pitcher with mead from the huge cask behind her and headed out into the front room. Those Orsimeri called for refills. Romalen returned with an empty pitcher after a moment. “I have a bed available upstairs,” she continued, returning behind the bar. “It’s ten drakes for the night.”

Pulling out a ten-drake piece, I laid three single drakes next to it. “I’ll take the bed, and this is for the food. It was quite delicious, muthsera.” I finished the last of it for emphasis.

“Thanks,” Romalen smiled at me as she collected the gold. “Sleep well tonight, then. Hopefully that hip will be better in the morning. The room is upstairs, first door on the left.”

“Good night, muthsera,” I said, picking up my pack and shield. Stiffly, I regained my feet and limped toward the stairs in the front room. One of the Orsimeri rose to his feet and stood before me, his bulk effectively blocking my way. I met his black gaze, watchful for trouble. He was quite a few inches taller than me, and easily twice my weight. Be careful. Your hip and knee will only slow you down. I said nothing, but waited, aware of the other Orcs watching me.

“Gro-Gharz!” Romalen’s voice cracked from the back room. “Better stand aside and let her be!”

“I thought she didn’t mind fighting,” I heard myself say quietly to this green mountain of a mer. He chuckled at my comment and stepped back to let me by.

“Nah,” he replied, amusement in his voice. “But she minds the Guard busting in here.”

“Good night, then,” I nodded at him, extending the courtesy to the rest of his group. They grumbled a chorus in reply as I headed for the stairs.

Going up the stairs hurt, really hurt. Straining not to wince from the pain, I made myself climb the wooden steps. Aware of the Orsimeri’s continued regard of me, I couldn’t convince myself that they wouldn’t take advantage of me if I showed any weakness. Something about these Orcs bothered me, something lacking from other Orsimeri I had met in the past.

The room Romalen had assigned me was plain, but roomy, with a wide bed and a dresser. It didn’t take me long to strip down to my undergarments. After I cleaned my cuirass and greaves, I mended the small tears here and there. A study of the Kvatch Wolf, revealed numerous dents in its painted surface and the crimping around the edge where I had used it to deliver blows. Too late to use the hammer - I’ll have to do this in the morning. I felt too full from dinner to lay down, so I pulled out Brother Piner’s book.

I read the second chapter, which summarized the apparently catastrophic events that led to the formation of the western provinces, including Sentinel. The struggle to make out the words made me even more tired. The text too blurry to continue reading, I put the book back in my pack. After a couple of healing spells, I scooted beneath the covers, pulled the blanket over my shoulder, and closed my eyes.

Bright sunlight poured in through the small window above my bed and roused me. As I pulled on my leathers, I noted that my hip didn’t hurt at all today, and my knee felt just a little achy. Every day, it throbbed after hours of walking and standing on it, but fortunately the pain subsided every night with some rest. Wishing it would subside all the way into nothing, I reminded myself that at least it was not getting worse.

Downstairs in the back room, Romalen was already up and cooking. She set a cup of klah in front of me. From my pack, I drew out my map and the little purple books, looking for more clues. Much of it did not make sense, speaking of places and beings I did not recognize, strange combinations of words, odd syntax. Red-drink. Blood? King Maztiak. Someone who had his carcass dragged through the streets? Mnemoli. Traitors? Traitors to what? Lord Dagon? That could mean most of us mortals. I found the words somewhat disturbing in their denseness.

Toward the end of the third book, a phrase jumped out at me: Starlight is your mantle, brother. Wear it to see by and add its light to Paradise. It was about the only thing in the entire series that made some sort of rudimentary sense to me. Starlight. Where I need to go, it will be dark, and I must go humbly. Only then can I draw near the heart of the matter - the Amulet of Kings.

As I considered the implications of my thoughts, I sighed to myself. Leaving my weapons behind rubbed against my grain as a soldier - just having them on me made me feel less vulnerable. That is the whole point of entering as a novitiate, I thought to myself. Stripping myself of all worldly possessions, going to meet my Divine - or in this case, my Daedric Lord, as naked as the day I was born, for this is a form of rebirth.

Can’t I just fight my way in and find the Amulet? I wondered, studying the map again. I could see the shoreline of a small lake near the location of the shrine.

The Amulet is buried deep. They will hear my coming, and hide it, or take it beyond my reach, I answered myself. Best to approach as one of them, get near the Amulet, before I reveal my true intentions.

“Traveling again, muthsera?” Romalen asked as she set the plate of eggs and ham before me, refilling my cup with more of the strong, black liquid.

Why would anyone visit a lake? I wondered to myself. “I thought I would go to this lake,” I indicated it on my map. “I’m thinking it might be a good place for a little fishing.” Kind of a weak story, isn’t it?

“That’s Lake Arrius,” Romalen said, looking at the markings on my chart. “There’s a Heaven stone north of it, and a cavern system to the west of it. The caverns are uninhabited as far as I know - nothing worth looting.”

“It’s cold up there,” she added, taking a seat behind the bar and sipping at her mug. “You’re not likely to find slaughterfish there, if it’s the scales you’re after. However, I believe there are some mountain trout, those make good eating. If you can catch enough of them.”

Given the situation, I decided to leave my pack behind and travel light. Placing another ten-drake piece on the counter, I looked up at Romalen. “I think I’ll be back tonight,” I said quietly. “I’d like to leave my pack here, if that’s fine with you.”

“No problem,” Romalen said, taking the coin. “Keep the key.”

This post has been edited by haute ecole rider: May 30 2010, 04:43 PM


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Olen
post May 28 2010, 05:21 PM
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Exciting stuff. I somehow doubt we've seen the last of the Orum gang... You showed the Newlands Lodge well and made Romalen quite likable, I suspect we might see more of her too.

QUOTE
I think the other place would have a problem with me walking in covered with blood

Little details like this really bring your setting to life.

And now off to some of the heaviest fighting - and unarmed! You've left quite a cliff hanger here.


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SubRosa
post May 28 2010, 05:22 PM
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And he's quite perlite about it, too
He is an amorphous, volcanic glass? biggrin.gif

I feel your pain with the lack of terms for Khajiit and Argonians. I never liked the term "beast-races", as it does seem demeaning to me, as it compares them with animals. I think we need to simply invent some terms. Not just for them, but for all the intelligent races as a whole. Being a woman, "Men and Mer" is not something I want to use ("Women and Mer" maybe). I have been using the term "mortal" for lack of anything better. Calling people "sentient" might work I suppose. I am sure Tamrielites would have some kind of catch-all term for all the intelligent races.


Julian got one of her first "Hey, your're the Hero of Kvatch!" moments I see! I always hated that in the game. I see she is not to enthused about it either.

I love the level of description you go into with the Newlands Lodge. Not stones, but river stones, a shale roof rather than just a roof, etc... You go the extra distance here that I never think of.

Stripping myself of all worldly possessions, going to meet my Divine - or in this case, my Daedric Lord, as naked as the day I was born, for this is a form of rebirth.
Well said! This is indeed the case in initiation. Perhaps best conveyed in the legend of Inanna and her descent into the Underworld.

Can’t I just fight my way in and find the Amulet?
You can in the game! laugh.gif Of course, reality would be a lot different...


nits:
A study of the Kvatch Wolf, revealed numerous dents in its painted surface, the crimping around the edge where I had used it to deliver blows.
I do not think you need the commas in the middle there. It stands well as a single sentence if you just put an and where the last comma is..

This post has been edited by SubRosa: May 28 2010, 05:23 PM


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mALX
post May 29 2010, 04:57 AM
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I am getting so wound up by the fact that we are about to start getting NEW CHAPTERS !!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOT !!!!!!!!


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haute ecole rider
post May 30 2010, 05:03 PM
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@Olen: I'm quite sorry, but if you thought that last chapter was a cliffie, well, wait until you read this one! Continue to enjoy when you get back from moving! smile.gif

@SubRosa: I sure seem to have an aversion to the word 'and', don't I? Thanks for the catch! It has been fixed! As for 'perlite', I was trying to capture the Southern way of speaking. Oh well! cool.gif

@mALX: Contain thyself, minx! nono.gif New Material starts (for you and D. Foxy anyway) on Thursday! bigsmile.gif

Now begins the adventure so many seem to be waiting for! Julian thinks she's thought things through, but this only proves the old axiom, Nothing ever goes as Planned (it's a hell of a notion, even Pharaohs turn to sand, like a drop in the ocean . . .). Okay, that was more a song than an axiom, but you get the picture!

Chapter 8.3 The Path to Dawn

After checking in on Paint at the Black Waterside, I found a gravel path leading north past the stable into the foothills. It led me to a ramshackle house surrounded by an equally ramshackle stone wall. The two-story half-timbered structure rose above overgrown hedges and shrubs, heavily shaded by tall trees. I skirted the wall to the west, continuing north. The land rose steeply in front of me, trees, grass and blooms giving way to gravel, boulders, and lichen.

I had left my pack and the Kvatch Wolf in my room, taking only the leathers I wore and the katana. Though the weapon was very distinctive, and might make me recognizable, I still couldn’t bring myself to leave it behind. The only other items I carried were my belt pouch, containing my coins, and the small bag, slung over my shoulder, containing the four volumes of the Commentaries, in case I needed them.

Soon the slope became very steep, forcing me to veer west. Before long, I encountered a rough cobblestoned road that lead to the top of the slope. Following the road, I soon came upon a small lake, its clear waters reflecting the blue sky. A waterfall burbled at its north end. The path I stood on turned to follow the western shore of the lake.

Winded from the climb, I sat on a nearby boulder to survey the area. To the west of the road, a cliff rose sheer, running back further into the mountains themselves. Above me, at the top of a faint trail that crossed the face of the escarpment, I could see a cave entrance. The trail ran north towards the road, meeting somewhere along the western shore of the lake. That’s got to be the cavern system Romalen spoke of. As I consulted the map in my head, I studied the contours of the land around me, matching what I saw with what I recalled. Satisfied that the two matched, I pushed myself off the rock and started limping up the road. The shrine has to be in those caverns.

The sun stood well past the zenith when I reached the entrance to the cave. The light dusting of snow that had accumulated in front of the door showed signs of prints of people entering and leaving, and grooves left by the bottom of the door as it opened and closed. The solidity of the latch belied the battered, weathered appearance of the door.

The wooden panel swung open with a loud creaking. I froze, listening for alarm from within, but heard nothing but the rising wind blowing cold from the northern mountains. Ducking inside and closing the door behind me, I flinched at the noise. They never oiled the hinges. A very effective alarm. The tunnel within was immediately warmer, once I was out of the wind.

Daylight seeped through the cracks in the door behind me, lighting the first few meters of the tunnel. The rest of the passage dropped through shadow to an amber glow at the bottom. The light had the flickering quality typical of torches. So they’re no longer hiding the fact that this cavern is occupied.

“Who’s there?” a voice called from below. My katana drawn with the tip toward the floor, I limped down the rough corridor. My heart pounded as I stepped into the torch light, finding myself in a large domed cavern. A young man, dressed in the characteristic red robe of a Mythic Dawn acolyte, stood at the far end before a pair of torch standards. Unarmed. Probably knows a few summoning spells. I sheathed the katana and approached, my palms open and out to the side.

His red hood cast shadows across his face, making it hard for me to see his expression. I stepped to one side of him to force him to turn partly into the torchlight. Enough of his visage emerged for me to see his boyish Imperial features. He watched me warily.

“I’ve come for the Mythic Dawn,” I said quietly. His eyes flickered from my white hair to my katana, narrowing thoughtfully at me.

“Dawn is breaking,” he intoned.

What? Something surfaced in my whirling thoughts, spoken in Raven Camoran’s voice during his condescending lecture to Baurus. “Greet the new day,” I responded reflexively.

“Welcome, sister,” the doorkeeper remained dubious. “The hour is late,” he continued, “but the Master still has need for willing hands.” He stepped between the torch standards to the door set in the rock wall. Swinging the door open, he pulled on a cord hanging next to the jamb. A chiming sounded from within as he returned to where I hesitated, between the flares. “You may pass into the shrine,” he said, pointing me to the open doorway. “Harrow waits within. Do not tarry.”

With a deep breath, I entered the dark, winding passage beyond the door, its far end glowing with torch light. As I limped my way toward the light, a shadow fell across the passage. My right hand twitched for my sword hilt, but I kept it clenched at my side.

The Dunmer blocked my path, eye to eye with me. Tall for a Dunmer, he matched my own slightly above average height, and the black hair springing from a pronounced widow’s peak gave him additional stature.

“I am Harrow,” he said in the hoarse voice typical of Ashlanders, “warden of the Shrine of Dagon.”

“I am Julian,” I answered, reaching into my small bag and pulling out the four volumes of the Commentaries. “I have these -”

“You have followed the Path of Dawn hidden in these writings of our Master, Mankar Camoran,” Harrow said, waving the books away. “You have earned your place among the Chosen.”

I put the books back in the small bag and glanced up at him. “Your doorkeeper said I’m late?”

Harrow shrugged. “The time of preparation is almost over, and the time of cleansing draws near,” he explained. He led me to an alcove behind a torch standard and drew out a red acolyte’s robe from a small dresser placed there.

“As a member of the Order of the Mythic Dawn,” he placed the robe on top of the dresser, “everything you need will be provided from the Master’s bounty.” His eyes gleamed as they rested briefly on first my white hair, then on the hilt of my katana. “Put on this initiate’s robe, and leave your possessions here.”

I eyed the Dunmer dubiously. He cocked a slanted eyebrow at me. Reluctantly I turned away from him and unbuckled the katana. I laid it on top of the dresser, forcing my hand to leave it there. My small bag went next to it. Then I unbuckled my cuirass and shrugged out of it, placing it over the katana so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore. After I removed the padded tunic, I pulled the robe on over my head, its woolen folds warm on my skin after the brief exposure of the cool, damp air of the passage.

After I removed my boots, I unlaced my greaves and slid them off, dropping the skirts of the robe over my legs. Harrow stopped me as I reached for the boots I had set aside. He looked at the hem of the robe, which reached my ankles. “Leave the boots, too,” he said. I stared at him, stunned. “All initiates must go barefoot to Dagon,” he explained. “Once you are initiated, you will be provided with appropriate footwear.” My soul screaming at leaving the katana, I turned around to face the Dunmer, my hands shaking. His hands mimed raising the cowl over his head. My own hands mirrored his movement at the collar of my robe and I found the heavy folds and covered my head, pulling the edge forward over my face.

“Very good,” he said, eyeing me up and down. His gaze stopped on the ring on my little finger. “Take that off, too,” he ordered. My heart in my throat, I obeyed, tucking the ring into my belt purse. Harrow stepped forward and took the belt purse, leaving the rest on the dresser. His long blue fingers did linger on the hilt of the katana in a caress that left my skin crawling. Tucking my purse into a pocket of his robe, he turned and led me to a second door. “Now I shall take you to the Master,” he spoke over his shoulder.

My feet recoiled from the cold stone floor as I followed after the Dark Elf warden. My heartbeat dunned in my ears with each step I took away from my katana. He led me first into a second shadowy cavern, a stone dais in the center lit by more of those flaming torches. As covertly as I could, I scanned the cavern, but saw little outside the light of those brands. Harrow skirted the platform and led me toward another corridor leading out of the cavern. Two red-robed men, one an Altmer and the other an Imperial, passed Harrow as they left the passageway. “Dawn is breaking,” each said to him.

“Greet the new day,” he responded to each in turn. They eyed me as I followed Harrow into the corridor, but did not speak. Before I continued after Harrow down the passage, I watched them take up positions around the dais.

Harrow led me to another door, lit by another pair of torch standards, with yet another one of the red-robed members, this a Dunmer woman. “Dawn is breaking,” she said to me as Harrow opened the door.

“Greet the new day,” I managed to respond. My mind was still screaming for the katana - Fool! Never leave your weapon behind! Hobbling after Harrow, I found myself on the upper level of a huge, shadowy cavern. The center was well below the outer rim, too far to jump down. There a high platform with a horned altar at one end and a colossal statue of a four-armed Daedra Lord, served as the focus of a gathering of acolytes. That has to be Mehrunes Dagon, I studied the sculpture. That’s one ugly lavasucker.

Harrow paused and turned to me. “How lucky you are,” he said, barely suppressed jubilation in his voice, “to be initiated by the Master himself!”

I tore my my gaze away from the dais, where a blue-robed Altmer held forth sermonizing to his audience, and stared at Harrow. “Th- that’s Mankar C- Camoran?” I stammered.

“Aye, that he is,” Harrow said proudly. He pointed out the equally tall woman, dressed in red with a mages staff at her back. “And the lady with him is his daughter, Ruma.” He led me to a wide flight of stone steps that led down a landing, where another set of stairs rose to the upper level at the opposite side of the cavern, and a third set dropped down to the floor. Scanning the cavern, I spotted at least four shadowy figures around the upper level. Guards. Harrow led me to the group of several acolytes standing before the dais, who listened to Camoran with rapt attention.

“- Dragon Throne is empty,” the stentorian voice rang out, “and we hold the Amulet of Kings!” As I drew near the platform, I recognized the large red diamond in Camoran’s left hand. The Amulet of Kings! How dare he! “Praise be your brothers and sisters,” the Altmer mage continued, tossing back his iron-grey hair. “Great shall be their reward in Paradise!”

“So sayeth Lord Dagon!” the acolytes around me chanted, mesmerized by Camoran’s charisma. “Praise be!” As Camoran continued pontificating, I glanced at Harrow. He watched me, his red eyes speculative.

“The time of cleansing is now here!” Camoran’s roar snapped my attention back to him. “I go now to Paradise, to meet with Lord Dagon! When I return, Lord Dagon shall walk with me at the coming of the Dawn!” As he stepped back from the altar, he turned his back on the acolytes. At the center of the dais, he tipped his head back to look up at the colossal statue at the far end and lifted his hands. My breath stopped as Camoran brought his hands, the Amulet between them, together above his head and disappeared into a ball of argent light.

This post has been edited by haute ecole rider: May 31 2010, 02:41 PM


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mALX
post May 30 2010, 06:08 PM
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ARGH!!!! I am so hyped I have been doing a victory dance, and we all know I can't dance!!! This is Awesome! I can't wait till Thursday !!!! Great Write !!!!!


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SubRosa
post May 30 2010, 06:49 PM
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I just noticed you changed the topic description in this, the 2nd thread of OHDH! Subtle, and accurate!

This is now virgin territory for me, as I gave up on the Beth forum at this point. So now the fun of rediscovery has turned to the wonder of seeing events through Julian's eyes for the first time. smile.gif

Good touches with Julian's eye noticing the footprints outside, the grooves made by the door, its sturdy hinges, etc... Then the creaky door being left that way on purpose as an alarm.

“Dawn is breaking,” he intoned.
Well go out and fix it!
Sorry, I always think that when they shout that at me. Seriously though, I like how you handled the secret password, and Julian's quick-thinking to realize what the response was.

Good work portraying Julian's apprehension at leaving her armor, weapons, and the ring (I do not remember that, was it an family heirloom?). Especially delicious was the way Harrow caressed her sword, and how his eyes lingered over her white hair. I can see that he recognized her there. I think the International Woman of Mystery is going to have a warm welcome next post!


btw, are you ever going to get an avatar?


nits:
The light dusting of snow that had accumulated in front of the door showed signs of prints, prints of people entering and leaving,
Pints is showing up twice here, I think you can just delete the second occurrence and it will read fine.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Jun 1 2010, 03:57 AM


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Destri Melarg
post May 30 2010, 10:51 PM
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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



Chapter 8.2 Searching for Enlightenment

QUOTE
“It was too late to save the city,” I answered, too weary to shush him. May as well get used to it.


That’s right, Julian. You may as well get used to it. I have a feeling that getting recognized will start happening more frequently as the story continues.

I love you description of The Newlands Lodge. From its rustic exterior to the cozy interior that was a little too warm for Julian’s taste. I also like the way that she sizes up the Orsimeri (good word!). In that moment, when she is regarding each one in turn, we see the transition that is taking place within Julian. She seems to be caught between the shadow of the soldier that she once was, and the image of the Blade that she is becoming.

I wonder if the Orums moved aside for Julian because her remark gave them a measure of respect for her, or if they saw the Kvatch Wolf on her arm. Either way, her handling of that situation was a joy to read again.

Chapter 8.3 The Path to Dawn

I remember this chapter from last time, but I remember it differently. You changed quite a bit, didn’t you? You really set the stage well in this version. The suspense one feels in reading it is almost palpable, and my skin crawled with Julian’s when Harrow was fondling the sword. Hands off n’wah!! I am with everyone else in expressing my excitement for the new chapters to come. Bring ‘em on!!

My only nit:
QUOTE
Reluctantly I turned away from him, and unbuckled my katana, laying it on top of the dresser. Forcing my hand to release it, I left it there.

This is an awkward pair of sentences. The first part reads as if she is reluctant to turn away from him as opposed to being reluctant to strip in front of him. That first comma is also unnecessary. You could streamline the whole thing by saying something like:
I turned away from him and reluctantly unbuckled my katana. I placed it on top of the dresser and forced my hand to release it, leaving it there.


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haute ecole rider
post Jun 1 2010, 05:57 PM
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@mALX: I gather it's a good thing that I live in a different state from you, and can't see what passes as your victory dance. cool.gif

@SubRosa: The ring is the Jewel of the Rumare, which Julian keeps on her at all times to remember her friendship with a certain Breton fisherman. Leaving it behind was almost as hard for her as leaving that lovely katana behind. As for that avatar, I don't think so. I tried getting a picture to upload, and it wouldn't work. Probably something to do with the fact that I'm on a Mac? Oh well, I've never used an avatar, so it's not a burning issue for me. Your nit has been fixed.

@Destri: I tried to convey the Orum Orc moving out of her way because of the comment she made defusing the situation. As for the awkward sentences, I did rewrite them, but I wanted to convey that Julian didn't want to turn her back on Harrow, a potential assailant. She would rather keep him in front of her, with or without her katana.

@all: This is the final post on the other forum. Few of you likely have seen this one (I only know of two), and this is a chapter I really struggled with, but feel very proud of the end result. Starting on Thursday, it will be new material to everyone but myself. Enjoy! Oh, and Destri, I wrote this chapter for you!


Here is the rest of Julian’s adventure in the Dagon Shrine.

*************
Chapter 8.4 The Dagon Shrine

Stunned, I stared at the afterimage of the portal. Harrow approached me before I could recover my composure. “Don’t worry, initiate,” he assured me, clapping his hand on my shoulder. “You will soon follow the Master into Paradise!” He led me to the side of the dais and pointed out the stone steps in the edge. “Go to Her Highness, Ruma Camoran, for your initiation!”

On the dais the Altmer woman, her face shadowed by her cowl, waited for me. Still reeling from the disappearance of the Amulet, I climbed the stairs, Harrow steering me with his hand on my shoulder. As I stepped onto the dais near the foot of the statue of Mehrunes Dagon, I glanced to my right and spotted a bound Argonian laying on a low altar at the statue’s base. Nude but for a loincloth, his scaled skin had the grey undertone of ill health, and his eyes were closed.

Harrow guided me to where Ruma Camoran stood near the horned altar. A silver ceremonial dagger rested on its surface, next to a large volume bound in a bone-white leather cover. “You have come to pledge yourself to Lord Dagon’s service,” Ruma intoned, her feminine voice an echo of Camoran’s. “The ritual requires red-drink. Take the dagger,” she indicated the silver weapon laying on the taller altar at the front of the dais. “Sacrifice to Dagon for your initiation,” she pointed at the Argonian.

Blood sacrifice? I looked back at the Argonian, who lay with his eyes open, watching me dully. No, I can’t do this. Harrow reached up with his free hand and drew my cowl back before gripping my other shoulder. Ruma’s eyes gleamed as they fell on my white hair.

“Or would you prefer to be the sacrifice, Hero of Kvatch?” her voice held a note of triumph. The blood fled my face as I realized the danger of my situation. They’ve recognized me!

My mind started spinning through options, slipping into combat mode. Free the Argonian. Take the book. Kill Ruma Camoran, and Harrow, if I have to. Get my money back from that fetcher. Get the Argonian out of here alive. Find my armor and sword. Use the dagger on Ruma first, get that staff away from her. She’ll be dangerous with it.

The rising panic suddenly dissolved, replaced by a familiar calmness, the same calmness I felt standing in the ranks waiting for the order to engage. I may well die here, but by Akatosh, I will fight as if I’m immortal. My long-forgotten personal mantra came back to me, slowing my heartbeat to a sedate thumping in my chest.

“Ki’ire!” The long-forgotten word escaped my lips, white energy cascading around and through me. Of its own volition, my body shook off Harrow’s grip and sprang for the altar, my right hand closing around the grip of the dagger. My fingers brushed against the volume, sending shocks of energy tingling up my nerves. In that instant, the large glyph on its bone-white cover sent chills down my spine. That looks like an Oblivion Gate, I realized. But I had no time to dwell on the mystery of that book.

Shouts whirled around me as I spun toward Ruma. She backed away, bringing her staff around. As I chased her, I caught the head of the staff with my left hand and yanked it toward me. This brought Ruma within blade-range of the dagger, which flashed across her throat. Her grip on the staff eased, and I wrested it from her slack fingers as she crumpled away. Beyond her, Harrow sprang for me, teeth bared in a hateful grimace.

My grip slid down to the center of the staff, and I whirled it in my hand to bring the steel-capped end into Harrow’s soft belly. His lungs emptied as he bent forward, his own throat meeting the edge of my dagger. I moved toward the Argonian, his eyes now sparking with interest. A nearby guard charged me, and I blocked his mace, letting the horned weapon slide down the shaft away from me.

This brought me within his guard, and I sank the dagger into his side, between the front and back plates of the bound cuirass. Hot blood cascaded around my hand, telling me I had struck something vital in his belly. As his weight slid off my blade, I leaped for the Argonian, who now sat up, his bound hands in front of him.

The dagger flashed, trailing blood, and parted his bonds. Behind me, shouting warned me of another attacking sentry. Whipping my left hand to the side and behind me, I brought the steel-capped end of the staff against his cuirass, feeling the solid thwack! which sent him staggering back.

“That’ss a magess sstaff!” the Argonian shouted at me. “It firess sspeellss!”

I shoved it at him. “Here, then! I don’t know how to use it that way!”

Apparently, the intended sacrifice did, for he lowered the gnarled head of the staff toward the knot of assassins now climbing the steps to the dais. Yellow sulfurous fire sizzled forward from the tip of the staff, engulfing the three attackers in sickly smoke. They collapsed, two of them vomiting blood, another voiding his bowels violently. The odor of sickness pervaded the air.

Panicked acolytes ran toward the stairs leading out of the chamber, screaming and waving their hands in the air. Their flight hampered the attacks of the rest of the guards from the upper levels.

The book! I ran for the altar and seized the volume, shoving it into my robe, where the belt created a loose pocket in front of my chest. My skin crawled from the contact with its power.

Behind me, the colossal statue crumbled with a loud crack, falling into pieces over the sacrificial altar and the stairs, just missing the Argonian. The screaming escalated as the acolytes ran for the entrance to the cavern, only to have a heavy iron grate slam down, shutting off their escape. Two more attackers made it down to the cavern floor, trailing yellow smoke from their summons.

Catching the Argonian’s elbow, I leaned to his ear. “I’m Julian. What’s your name?”

“Jeeliuss,” he hissed back. He hefted the staff and aimed it at the two oncoming assailants. “You lead the way.” The two attackers crumpled to the floor, with similar results as the first group.

I hobbled to Harrow’s body, holding my breath against the stench of illness. A quick search of his robe, located my belt purse and an ornate iron key. I snatched them, shoving both into the pocket of my own robe. Desperate to get out before my summoned adrenaline wore off, I scrambled over the pieces of the statue to the steps leading off the platform. I could hear Jeelius’s bare feet slapping the stones behind me.

Ahead, the acolytes ran up the second set of stairs that led to the far side of the upper level. Fighting against their panicked flight, more guards streamed in through a second entry I had not noticed before.

“Give me room!” Jeelius hissed, and I ducked sideways against the wall as he shot more of that sickly spell at the armed attackers. They scattered before the spell reached them, and it hit only two of them. The other three came on, maces swinging.

Two of them attacked Jeelius. It became clear to me that the Argonian was no fighter. Ducking beneath the swing of the third one, I stabbed him in the throat and grabbed his crotch with my left hand. I placed my right knee behind his legs and raised my left hand, upending him over my thigh. He flipped over the edge of the stairs. My Argonian friend managed to block one mace strike with the staff, and I felt anger rise in my chest at the unfair odds.

Martin’s words on the Gold Road, when we were walking to Weye from Skingrad, surfaced in my mind. I clenched my left hand against the rage, letting it build up and seethe. When flames licked around my fingers, I flung the flare spell at one of the two assailants. He caught it full in the helm, which became scorchingly hot.

With an agonized scream, he yanked the metal cover off, and his face came off with it. I ignored the gruesome sight and jumped toward the other guard, sinking my dagger into her unprotected thigh. With a twist of the blade to cause as much muscle damage as I could, I elbowed her back into the stairs. With a painful shout, she threw her mace at me in desperation. The weapon struck my right shoulder and clattered away down the steps.

Another flare-spell flew from my fingers into her face, and I kicked her over the side of the stairs. Then I grabbed Jeelius and hauled him up the stairs after me. The second entrance was now locked, but Harrow’s key opened it. We bolted through the door, and heard more shouts ahead.

What followed was a chaotic impression of maze-like passageways, attacking assassins, fleeing acolytes, and the staff spitting that horrid yellow fire.

Jeelius proved to be a solid supporter. By using the staff on the attackers when they were still some distance away, he thinned their numbers for me. He also sent convalescence spells my way whenever I was wounded or hit by spells. Suddenly the staff went dark in his hands.

“Out of charge,” Jeelius spat, throwing the staff away in disgust. We kept running.

We came to a locked, bolted door. Jeelius cast a quick spell at it, and I heard the lock click over. I went through to find myself in a small chamber, a narrow passageway dropping downward to dead end at a rock wall. I started to backtrack, but Jeelius directed my attention to a hand crank mounted on the wall at the top of the passageway. He spun the lever clockwise, and the wall at the bottom of the corridor rumbled into the floor.

Through the new opening I recognized the entry cavern, where I had encountered the door keeper. That young man was nowhere in sight. Halfway through the cave, I collapsed to my knees as the adrenaline I had called failed abruptly. Jeelius knelt beside me, calling my name in concern.

“I’m all right,” I gasped, shaking violently, my forehead on the rocky floor. “It’s just the adrenaline crash.”

“That was the famous Redguard adrenaline rush?” Jeelius asked softly. “I’m impressed!”

“Oh, I hate it,” I muttered. “It tends to leave you at the worst possible time.” That’s what happened before. As my hammering heart slowed down, and my breaths became less painful, I staggered to my feet. When my battered feet and right knee took my weight again, I stifled a cry at the pain. With Jeelius staying close to my side, I wobbled to the passageway that led into the shrine, where I had first met Harrow.

Relief nearly overwhelmed me when I found my armor on top of the dresser, as I had left them. The leather felt smooth in my hands, and I sighed at the sight of my katana. I took the bone-white book out of my robe and slipped it into the small bag, underneath the four Commentaries. Stripping out of the loose-fitting robe, I glanced at Jeelius. His back to me, he looked cold in the damp air of the cavern. I handed him the robe, then quickly slipped into my padded tunic and leathers.

My katana belted on my hip, I felt complete, though still shaky. As I turned toward the entry door, Jeelius stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. Warm white light passed from him to me, and the shakiness disappeared. Grateful for his healing, I handed him the ceremonial dagger.

Quietly, to avoid attracting attention of any remaining survivors, I led Jeelius to the tunnel leading for the surface. We stepped outside into falling snow, glimpses of stars visible through chinks in the overcast above. “Feels late,” I commented. As if in answer, my stomach growled. “Jeelius, let’s get to Cheydinhal. It’s about two hours away.”

“I need to get back to the Imperial City,” Jeelius said, falling into step behind me. “Not to ssound ungrateful, but -” his voice trailed off. Glancing back at him, I saw the uncertainty in his expression.

“My horse is at Cheydinhal, and I’ve also got a room at the inn there,” I responded. “I’m hungry, and tired. Come with me, I’ll get you food and a bed as well. We can leave in the morning.”

Jeelius did not speak again until we left the slippery trail and reached the shore of Lake Arrius. “You will esscort me to the Imperial City?”

“I’m going to Bruma,” I answered, “but yes, I’ll escort you as far as I can.”

This post has been edited by haute ecole rider: Jun 1 2010, 10:03 PM


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D.Foxy
post Jun 1 2010, 06:01 PM
Post #17


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And the next will be totally nude!

ER er er I meant totally new!!!!


Can't wait to see it!!! whistling.gif

... the STORY I mean.... just in case you were thinking of anything else, which I'm sure my pure, innocent, virginal mind cannot imagine.

whistling.gif
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mALX
post Jun 1 2010, 06:06 PM
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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



WHEW!!!! (exhales loudly) - Holy [censored] !!!!!! Hauty.... WHEW!!!! - Holy [censored]!!!! - Awesome Write!!!!!!!!!!!!


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mALX
post Jun 1 2010, 06:07 PM
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QUOTE(D.Foxy @ Jun 1 2010, 01:01 PM) *

And the next will be totally nude!

ER er er I meant totally new!!!!


Can't wait to see it!!! whistling.gif

... the STORY I mean.... just in case you were thinking of anything else, which I'm sure my pure, innocent, virginal mind cannot imagine. whistling.gif



Choke! Gasp! (mALX fell over in a dead faint)


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SubRosa
post Jun 1 2010, 09:13 PM
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How could I forget the Jewel of the Rumare! Probably because you have me thinking of Aelwin all the time, but not his precious gift. That, and since Julian rides a horse everywhere, she never has an opportunity to put the ring to good use by swimming across Lake Rumare when she comes and goes. One of the reasons I do not like using horses in the game.

Having a mac will not prevent you from uploading pics. It was probably just too big. This board will only allow you to use images up to 90 pixels by 90 pixels in size, and only in the gif, jpg, jpeg, or png formats. Take a look at the pic you wanted to use, and either crop or resize it down to within that if it is too big. Or just try using one that the board comes with. Scratch that, they are not too good.

I like Julian's mantra. A good one for a warrior. I will have to see if I can work that into the next chapter of the TF.
I may well die here, but by Akatosh, I will fight as if I’m immortal.

Her reaction from touching the book was a good touch as well. The Son's Companion is not likely to mix well with the words of Mehrunes Dagon!

A very exciting, chaotic running battle! Also we finally get to see the famous Adrenaline Rush! I never use once a day powers like that in the game. Usually I forget I have them. Or I always wind up saving them for that one special moment, and never use it because I never know when that is. I have been working on changing all of the racial powers to either make them permanent (with lower bonuses) or have them cost magicka and be usable any number of times, the same as a regular spell.

, and his face came off with it.
ewww!




nits:
slowing my heartbeat to a slow thumping in my chest.
You have slow twice here. Perhaps use the word easing in place of the first instance?


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