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> Tarvyn Dralor: Caught in the Web
Callidus Thorn
post Apr 16 2014, 08:17 AM
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From: Midgard, Cyrodiil, one or two others.



Well, here we are, my third assault on the bastion of fanfiction wink.gif

They say third time's the charm, and I really hope they're right. And if not, well at least I'm having fun writing and playing. I'm pretty sure I've avoided making the same mistakes I did with my previous attempts, so any mistakes I make this time round will be all new ones. If I'm lucky laugh.gif

As ever, comments, criticism, suggestions, and nitpicking are all welcome, and as before, don't feel you need to pull your punches!

Since we have a thread for character trailers, I thought "why not write one?":

Trailer

Here goes nothing...


Prologue

As the sun sets on Cyrodiil, washing the sky with its myriad gentle hues, forces gather within the Imperial City.

As the shadows deepen across the city figures swathed in hooded robes make their way to access points to the sewers. Others, clad in the same robes, conceal themselves in shadowed alleys. They have been arriving in the city for days, and will quit the city tonight, through forgotten passages beneath the streets. For months they have prepared, finding secret ways lost to memory, and tonight they will exploit them to terrifying effect. They speak as little as possible to each other, though most intone prayers in near-silent whispers as they ready themselves for what is to come. The citizenry carry on about their business as usual, blind to goings on that didn't concern them, and those few that did catch a glimpse of the figures are quietly dealt with.

The heart of the Imperial City, White Gold Tower, buzzes with activity. A score of heavily armoured men and women prepare themselves for battle, checking the buckles of their armour and the edges of their blades. They are silent and serious, grim countenances dwelling on the thought of what is to come. Word has reached them that their brothers and sisters have failed in their duties, and each of them swears anew the oaths they took when they were granted their posts. They know the weight of responsibility that falls on them, heavier than the armour they bear, but they take pride in knowing that they are trusted beyond all others with this duty. They know too the cost of failure, and that thought weighs upon them heavier still, letting fear and doubt gnaw at the edges of their minds.

The Imperial City Prison, on the other hand, is still. The only sounds to be heard are the guards drilling outside, the gentle lapping of the waves from the lake, and the whispering breeze. The prisoners are oblivious to the preparations throughout the city, though one among them has been patiently waiting for such events, not that he imagined they would be so severe. He sits calmly in his cell, on a rough stool pulled towards the far wall of his cell, leaning back against it. His arms are folded across his chest, and he rests his feet casually upon the rickety table, beside his jug of water. The feeble torch by the gate fails to light the cell fully, leaving his corner darkened, his face swathed in shadow. Only his eyes are visible, gleaming crimson in the darkness. Though his face is cloaked in darkness, robbing it of expression, the prisoner exudes an air of calm, the surety of one who knows he is exactly where he needs to be, even if he doesn't know why.



And above him, in the dark corner where walls meet ceiling, a spider sits in its web, patiently waiting for flies to blunder into it and become ensnared...

This post has been edited by Callidus Thorn: Sep 29 2014, 02:48 PM


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McBadgere
post Apr 16 2014, 01:08 PM
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I like the build up...The bustle of all the various parties comes across excellently...

And then there's the nicely contrasting picture of the quietness and beauty of the world outside of the prison walls....

Even if he knows he wants to be there... wink.gif biggrin.gif ...

QUOTE
And above him, in the dark corner where walls meet ceiling, a spider sits in its web, patiently waiting for flies to blunder into it and become ensnared...


I like that line a lot...

It's swaggy... wink.gif ... tongue.gif ...

Nah, fair dues...Brilliantly done...

Nice one!!!...

*Applauds heartily*...
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Acadian
post Apr 16 2014, 07:31 PM
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I’m so pleased to see you engaged in a new story! goodjob.gif

This very mysterious prologue does a great job of quickly pulling the reader in! I gather that events here seem to be right before Uriel’s assassination and that our crimson-eyed prisoner is somehow involved.

Between your trailer, the title of this story and your final paragraph, the spider/web metaphor is wonderful. It is deliciously uncertain as to whether the ‘web’ implies simply intrigue, an inescapable fate, involvement with the Mythic Dawn, or even foreshadows the hand of the webspinner, Mephala.

Nit-like comments:

‘His feet rest upon the rickety table that holds his jug of water and cup, and the feeble torchlight fails to reach the corner, leaving his face in shadow, only his eyes visible, gleaming crimson in the darkness.’ - - There is too much going on here for this to work well as one sentence without seeming overly complex. A good idea is to limit the clauses/thoughts/bits of info imparted in one sentence to two or, at a maximum, occasionally three. I’d recommend this be broken into three sentences.

Writing in the present tense can be tricky but, with great care, can be done for short segments when there is good reason. A prologue can certainly be a great opportunity to do so when it suits your purpose. It is challenging to pull off though, as most writers can’t help but drift into past tense at some points. You did so during the final sentence of your second paragraph.

Edit: I see you did some tweaking in both areas - very nice!

This post has been edited by Acadian: Apr 17 2014, 03:32 PM


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Darkness Eternal
post Apr 17 2014, 03:24 PM
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Welcome again, Callidus, to our wonderful fanfiction section.

Truly a mysterious beginning, this. From what I've gathered I do see something relating to the Main Quest. Failed duty does sound familiar. Reading more it does seem we will be dealing with a certain prisoner that's been caught in a web. I do look forward to more.

Once again, welcome back.


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And yet I am, and liveā€”like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass belowā€”above the vaulted sky.ā€¯
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Callidus Thorn
post Apr 20 2014, 03:04 PM
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From: Midgard, Cyrodiil, one or two others.



McB: Swaggy? ohmy.gif Heh, I hated that line about the spider, took me five attempts to get it to sound right.

Acadian: I'll be honest, not even I know the full extent of the web biggrin.gif Thanks for the advice.

DE: Glad to be back here.

Well, I've started spinning a web of my own, now to keep it going smile.gif


Chapter 1, Part 1

The cell stinks. It's cold, damp, and filthy. The bed is little more than a blanket over stone, and the table and chair provided for civility are poorly made and covered in splinters. None of this bothers Tarvyn. He sits amid the squalor as if he were relaxing in a tavern, much to the bewilderment of the guards. Tarvyn has been in the cell for five days now, and by this point the guards have given up on insulting and beating him. Even Valen Dreth, the spiteful Dunmeri prisoner in the cell opposite, failed to make an impression on the enigmatic prisoner. Were it not for the shadows concealing Tarvyn's face his smile would mock them all. He leans back against the wall, as if oblivious to his surroundings, and watches the thin shaft of light as it saunters across his cell.

Time passes...


The sound of armoured footfalls echoed down the stairs. Tarvyn's eyes flicker open, and he strained his ears to make out the faint voices accompanying them. He couldn't hear the words clearly, but he heard the voices. The first was female, her voice taut with tightly reined fear and anxiety. The other was that of an old man; tired, and carrying an undertone of resignation. The voices grew louder as they made their way down the stairs, but Tarvyn had stopped paying attention to them. Instead he listened to the footsteps, counting the steps, the timing, trying to discern how many approach.

Two ornately armoured figures appeared before Tarvyn's cell. The first was a woman, Breton or Imperial, Tarvyn couldn't tell, but she was too short and slender to be a Nord. Beside her was a Redguard, brow furrowed and eyes filled with anger. And behind them, in robes even more ornate than the armour of his companions, stood the old man. This close Tarvyn saw the weariness in him; the tired eyes, the resigned slump of his shoulders. Before him Tarvyn saw a man who knew he was marching to his death, and that all hope has fled.

The door above slammed shut, and a third pair of heavy boots thundered down the steps. Another Redguard, breathing heavily and sweating from exertion. “Captain, the rearguard hold the gate, and will fall back to the bridge when they need to, but they cannot hold for long.”

“Understood.” She looked to the other Redguard. “Glenroy. Get that door open.”

It wasn't until Glenroy opened the door that they noticed Tarvyn, half concealed by shadows and still as the wall at his back. The Captain drew her sword. “What's this prisoner doing here? This cell is supposed to be off-limits. Never mind. Glenroy, make sure he doesn't move.”

Glenroy immediately stepped forward, drawing his blade and levelling it at where he guessed Tarvyn's throat to be, “Don't move prisoner. Try to stand and you'll hit the floor before you find your feet.” Tarvyn made no response, but his smouldering crimson eyes narrowed ever so slightly, and Glenroy spat at the indifference he found there.

The Captain slammed the pommel of her blade against a nondescript stone in the wall of the cell, and a section of it behind Tarvyn's 'bed' swung away on hinges, creaking and groaning from disuse. The Captain waved the other Redguard forward, along with the old man. “Sire, we haven't much time.”

The old man's gaze, however, was locked on Tarvyn. “Who are you, prisoner? And why are you here, of all places, on this night?” The old man stood between Tarvyn and the torch, leaving his face as shadowed as Tarvyn's, only his eyes visible. Tarvyn met his gaze, and beneath the sorrow and resignation that filled those blue eyes, caught a flicker of something else. For an instant Tarvyn could have sworn he saw fire in those eyes, as if they looked upon flames and reflected them.

“I am, like you, caught in the web of another. My crime is murder. I killed a soldier of the Legion.”

Glenroy scoffed. “How could a wretch like you kill a Legionnaire?”

“With ease. I walked up behind him and slit his throat.”

“Hmph. So you're a coward as well. How far did you run before you were caught, craven scum?”

“I didn't run. I stood over the body until I was arrested and brought here.”

Glenroy was completely thrown by that, and his face crumpled in confusion as he tried to make sense of it. Before he could reply the old man asked “Why would you kill one of my Legionnaires, and then wait to be caught?”

Tarvyn did not meet the old man's gaze as he replied. “Because those were my instructions.”

The Captain cut off any reply the old man might have had. “Sire. We don't have time for this, we need to get out of here now. Glenroy, execute the prisoner, he knows about the passage.” Glenroy smiled coldly as he raised his blade to strike.

But the old man caught Glenroy by the arm, arresting his swing. “No, Glenroy, do not kill him. He is not here by chance, some agency guided his steps. Perhaps to help, perhaps to hinder, perhaps simply to watch. Until we know, Glenroy, stay your blade.”

Despite the obvious deference of the three to the old man, Glenroy tried to argue the point. “But sire, he might be working with the enemy. Why else would he be in this cell, on this night?”

“Will you kill any whom you do not trust, Glenroy? I'll not have my Blades stained with the blood of innocents.” He turned to the Captain. “He comes with us.”

“Your will, sire. On your feet prisoner.” Tarvyn rose from his seat and stretched languidly, shaking the lethargy from his limbs while the Captain spoke to the others. “Sire, follow me, Glenroy, Baurus, You come next. Let the prisoner follow, but keep him behind you.” She threw a dark glance Tarvyn's way “Is that understood, prisoner?” Then she turned and started off down the tunnel, not waiting for a response. As they passed through the doorway the Captain slammed the pommel of her sword into another nondescript stone, and the passageway swung shut behind them, slowly enough for Tarvyn to get through without rushing.

The darkness swallowed them. The rough rock tunnel gave way to a corridor of well finished white stone, and light seemed to filter down from above. Instinct and training screamed at Tarvyn to move with stealth, to cling to the shadows and hang back from the heavily armoured guards. Tarvyn smiled and fell back on his training, his footfalls no more than whispers drowned out by the clash of armour ahead. He stuck close to the walls, almost scraping along them as he went, to minimise any silhouette he might cast. He did not know what might await them, but his teachers had spent hours drilling into him the knowledge that caution was its own reward.

The passageway led out into a larger chamber, with raised platforms to either side and a pair of short staircases leading down towards a door. The pale stone of the walls caught the feeble light that filtered in from above and threw it about the room, seeming to deepen shadows rather than dispel them. The Captain raised a hand and Glenroy and Baurus stopped, one standing before the old man, the other behind. Tarvyn stopped also, throwing a quick glance over his shoulder, checking that the wall behind did not leave him silhouetted. If there was a threat here he wanted it unaware of his presence. The Captain advanced towards the stairs alone, her head turning this way and that as she searched for potential threats. Finding none, she turned to wave the others forward.

That was when the shadows fell on her.

Three figures leapt from the darkness above, bodies wreathed in magic as armour congealed around them, called forth from the waters of Oblivion. Maces likewise materialised in their hands, and the three pounced upon the Captain, laying her low in a flurry of frenzied blows. Her cries of pain and rage were all but lost amidst the hammering of maces on steel, but the sharp crack of the blow that snapped her head round rang out above the din. She fell limply to the ground, dead long before she hit. Baurus and Glenroy surged forwards, their blades flowing through graceful, powerful strokes that left the attackers reeling backwards under the assault. The training of the Redguards showed as they outclassed the assailants, battering aside their maces and laying them open from shoulder to hip with smooth, sweeping slashes.

Glenroy didn't bother checking to see if the Captain was still alive. “Baurus, take point, I'll cover the rear.” Baurus opened the door below and stepped through, followed a moment later by the old man. Glenory waited by the door as Tarvyn approached, and as Tarvyn approached the door, struck him across the face with the pommel of his sword. Tarvyn fought to keep awake as blackness gnawed at the corners of his vision, and heard the Redguard speak. “I hope you rot in here, murderous scum.” Tarvyn heard the door close, and the squeal of a key turning in an ill-treated lock, and knew he was trapped.

This post has been edited by Callidus Thorn: Aug 14 2014, 11:48 AM


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Acadian
post Apr 20 2014, 09:32 PM
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The mysterious Tarvyn meets the royal party attempting to flee the city in a wonderfully familiar scene, but with your own distinctive twists. Confessing to the murder of a Legionnaire certainly had the predictable effect of endearing Tarvyn to the Blades (Not! biggrin.gif ).

‘The darkness swallowed them. ....’ - - This, and the whole paragraph that it led into was very atmospheric and well done. As they enter the darkness, we get a glimpse into Tarvyn’s background and training – clearly in stealth. And if his earlier words to the Emperor are to be believed, he is working for. . . someone. Plenty of mystery here!

Then the Redguard Blades show their skill and mettle as they put down those pesky assailants.

Not overly surprising, but still a nice twist that Tarvyn gets laid low by Glenroy and left behind to rot. We see now why he asked Baurus to lead the Emperor ahead.

Great story so far!


Nit - If you look at almost any example of written dialogue, you’ll notice that when writers change speakers, they always start a new paragraph. That is the ‘standard’ for writing dialogue. It helps shift the reader’s focus from one speaker to the next and helps avoid confusion about who is speaking. Highly recommended.


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McBadgere
post Apr 21 2014, 06:16 AM
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Oooh, I like that muchly...Very muchly...

I very fondly remember this start bit...Not just because - helpfully enough - I've just done it meself... biggrin.gif ...But because we'd never played anything that seemed as awesome as this beginning bit...Like McDaughter said the other day, "Do you remember when this was actually scary?"...

Um...I sidetracked a tad...

Errr...Oh yeah!!...I definitely loved the way you subtly altered stuff to make it your own...

Brilliantly done...

Loved all the descriptive stuff to do with the environment...

That bit where the Mythic Dawn descend onto Renaud (Renault?) I forget...*Looks*...Oh, it doesn't say...Aaamywho...Ne'ermind...It was mightily well done anyways...It has always seemed a tad cold that neither soldier - or even The Emperor™ - goes and stands over the Captain and marks respect...*Shrug*...But I loved the way you do that...And Glenroy's (who was also excellently written) off-hand laying low of Tarvyn was brilliant...

Loved it Thorny...Excellent job!!...

Nice one!!...

*Applauds heartily*...
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Grits
post Apr 24 2014, 12:18 AM
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Callidus, I’m delighted that you’re writing Tarvyn’s story! As the others have said, you’ve put a new twist on a familiar scene and made it yours, or rather Tarvyn’s. I’m looking forward to this!


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Darkness Eternal
post Apr 24 2014, 08:10 PM
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You've truly given us a fantastic description of the descent into darkness, Callidus. Truly, I liked the scene quite a bit. From this we can take that Tarvyn is familiar with sneaking. The captain's death was just the right touch. Gruesome, frightening and abrupt. Those Mythic Dawn assassins are terrifying. You bring us back to the memories of these fanatically deadly cultists. Well done, Callidus.

From where Tarvyn goes from here we can guess, but only you know. I'm interested in seeing him go to the outside world, and the Web he's caught in.
goodjob.gif


--------------------
And yet I am, and liveā€”like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass belowā€”above the vaulted sky.ā€¯
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Callidus Thorn
post Apr 25 2014, 02:56 PM
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From: Midgard, Cyrodiil, one or two others.



Acadian: Thanks for the nitpick. I got a little ocd and thought it looked too messy, then thought I could signpost my way out of it. Not a mistake I'll make again.

McB: Thanks. I've always thought Renault got shafted in the tutorial, one hit and she's gone, and then a quick question from the Emperor and they're on their way.

Grits: Thanks! It's most definitely Tarvyn's though, I'm just along for the ride laugh.gif

DE: Thanks. I've always thought both the Mythic Dawn and the Blades were a little weak in Oblivion. I've decided to beef them up, but I can't say anymore than that yet.


Right, I think it's time for a few answers, don't you? wink.gif



Chapter 1 Part 2

Tarvyn slowly forced himself to his feet, still reeling from the blow, and staggered over to the bodies of the assailants. Their armour and weapons had disappeared, leaving them dressed in dark red robes. Tarvyn searched the bodies anyway. As he expected, they carried no weapons, not even daggers, though they did at least carry some potions, though most of the vials had been shattered during the fight. His hand itched for the feel of a weapon, so he moved on to search the Captain's body.

The Captain's blade had skittered away as she fell, but Tarvyn had no experience with blades of that sort. Long blades like that were harder to conceal, slower to swing, and relied on a different style of fighting. His search of the body turned up a weapon more to his liking. On the Captain's left hip was a second scabbard, which held a shorter steel blade. Either she carried it as a backup weapon, or she had been trained to fight with a blade in each hand, Tarvyn would never know. He removed the scabbard and belted it around his waist. Then, driven by an urge he couldn't explain, he picked up her fallen sword and placed it in her hands, closing her lifeless fingers about the hilt as best he could.

With that done, Tarvyn searched the chamber, pausing occasionally to lean against the walls and steady himself as the ground seemed to shift beneath him at odd intervals. The door before him was locked, and even if he could find the right stone to press to open the door to his cell, it wouldn't help much. He briefly entertained the notion of attempting to reach the door the attackers must have entered through, but though his dizziness was passing he doubted he could make the climb. The walls were immaculately crafted, the the only flaws in the stonework the product of age rather than poor workmanship. Desperation forced him to dwell on the idea even longer, until the sounds of something crumbling caught his attention. He turned towards its source just as, with a triumphant squeak, a section of the wall caved outwards and a rat burst through.

Again, Tarvyn's training leapt to the fore. Where his earlier actions had been guided by the teachings of the Morag Tong, now the lessons of House Telvanni made their presence felt. Magic surged down his arm, and fire leapt from his fingertips towards the rat. It was only a basic flare spell, designed as a signal rather than a weapon, but was still powerful enough to be used as such in an emergency. The rat was caught in the midsection before it could lunge at Tarvyn, and was hurled backwards by the flare, smouldering as it rolled to a halt. A second flare dispatched another rat that was scampering towards the hole in the wall, and Tarvyn moved through the hole in the wall, the only path left to him.

The darkness in the chamber was near absolute, only a thin shaft of light from above providing any illumination, and that only revealed a skeleton clad in old leather armour. Before Tarvyn could look closer, he heard a scuffling from behind him. He turned, but saw only blackness. He raised his hand to cast a spell of detect life, but each time he tried the spell slipped from his mind, no doubt the legacy of Glenroy's blow to the head. He was forced to launch a pair of flares to peel back the darkness momentarily, and then a third to char the rat as it threw itself at him.

Now free of distraction, Tarvyn returned his attention to the skeleton. Beside it lay an old bow, weakened by age and exposure, and Tarvyn smiled. They might be old, but could simple chance have left them there? Within an hour of leaving his cell he now had armour, a shortsword, a bow, and a quiver full of arrows. Mephala's Web, it seemed, was long in the spinning. A pouch on the skeleton's belt even contained some lockpicks, which Tarvyn immediately put to use; first on the battered wooden chest near the bones, then on the locked door, moving deeper into the tunnels.

Tarvyn stalked through the darkness, clinging to the shadows, and slaying all he came across. Rats, goblins, even a zombie fell to arrows and flares fired from within Tarvyn's sable cloak.

He had spent so long creeping through the darkness of the tunnels that when he stumbled back into the corridors above the relative brightness stunned him for a moment. Once more he was surrounded by pale stonework, on a platform overlooking the old man and his two remaining guards. Their armour was battered and plastered with blood, though little of it seemed to be their own, and several robed figures lay dead around the chamber. Smiling grimly, Tarvyn sat on the edge of his platform, and slid off to the floor below.

He landed softly, knees bending to absorb the impact, but Glenroy heard him and spun at the sound. “You again! I should have killed you, murderous wretch.” Blade in hand, Glenroy advanced on Tarvyn, only to come up short as the old man's voice rang out.

“Glenroy. I told you before that the prisoner is not to be harmed. You would disobey your Emperor?” Tarvyn's eyes widened a little in shock. He'd known the old man was important, but had figured him to be some wealthy noble fleeing the Capital. He shook his head ruefully, what had Mephala dropped him into?

“No sire. But this scum cannot be trusted. He might be working with-”

“Enough, Glenroy. I'll not have blood shed from suspicion alone. The enemy are all around us, they attack with no regard for their own lives, like fanatics. They know secret ways lost even to the Blades, and they have already slain my sons. What need have they for one placed at my side, when they have dozens willing to trade their lives for mine? This Dunmer is here with purpose, and I would know what it is.” The Emperor turned to Tarvyn, and continued. “What is your name prisoner? And why are you here?”

Tarvyn, suddenly feeling weary under the weight of that gaze, sat down on the floor, leaning his back against a broken pillar. “My name is Tarvyn Dralor. And as I said before, I am like you, sire, caught in the web of another.”

The Emperor smiled at that. “That does not truly answer my question Tarvyn Dralor, any more than it did back in your cell. How came you to be in that cell? Not your crime, but the reason for it.”

Tarvyn sighed heavily. “That will require a longer explanation sire. One I do not believe we have time for.”

“We have a little time left to us. And though my Blades would never speak it, they would welcome a break from the fighting. Tell your tale Tarvyn.”

“As you wish, sire. I came here from Vvardenfell, where I was a member of both the Morag Tong and of Great House Telvanni. I was only a low ranking member of each of them, so it was not frowned upon. Had I sought to rise through the ranks then a choice would have been forced upon me, but as long as I remained where I was my dual allegiances were tolerated. House Telvanni had long kept ties with the Morag Tong, having more use for them than all the other Great Houses save perhaps Hlaalu. And for their part, the Morag Tong discretely encouraged its members to learn a degree of magic, and preferred them to learn from a Dunmeri institution.

The Morag Tong worshipped Vivec, first and foremost. The Temple taught that each of the Tribunal was preceded by an Anticipation, one of the Good Daedra who shaped Dunmeri society before Almsivi. So the Morag Tong held Mephala in the highest regard, even if we did not worship her directly.

Then the Nerevarine came.

The Tribunal were revealed as false gods, and were cast down, save Vivec, who instead lent aid to the Nerevarine. Maybe Vivec recognised that he could not defeat Dagoth Ur. Maybe the stories whispered beyond the hearing of those of the Temple are to be believed, and he wished to atone for his past actions. For whatever reason he helped the Nerevarine, was spared the fate of Sotha Sil and Almalexia, and disappeared. Though he is still widely respected, even in his absence.

When the Nerevarine revealed the Tribunal to be false gods, some of us began to turn back to The Anticipations; Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. In the six years since the fall of the Tribunal, word spread that the Empire had delivered the Nerevarine to Vvardenfell, and had played a role in events. I felt that a debt was owed to the Empire, though others said it was just the Empire looking for leverage in Morrowind. Whether the motives were good or ill, the Empire played a role in the defeat of Dagoth Ur.

For months struggled with my thoughts. The debt could not be repaid in Vvardenfell, but how could I leave blindly for Cyrodiil, not knowing what I could do there? Eventually I turned elsewhere for answers. I made my way to the shrine of Mephala, the closest and most accessible of the Three, and there sought guidance. Mephala spoke to me, and I followed her instructions, though they ended with my imprisonment.”

“And you know nothing of why she sent you?”

“What does a piece on the gameboard know of the mind that placed it? Or a dagger of the one who wields it? In this I am but a tool, placed in the web without guidance, to act as I feel I must.”

“And how do you feel you must act?” The Emperor asked, an enigmatic grin bringing a faint sparkle to his eyes amid the gloom.

“As I said, sire. I feel a debt is owed to the Empire.”

“Then you shall be given a chance to repay that debt, this very night, I think. Now come, our time here is nearly up.”

“Where are we going sire?”

The Emperor leaned in closer, his next words little more than a whisper. “You know the answer Tarvyn, at least as much as I do. I saw that in your eyes when we first met. You know I go to my grave, called by a tongue shriller than all the music. Where you go from here I cannot say. My dreams of days ahead end this night, and all that I see now is fire and death.” And with that the Emperor called over his Blades and they set off, Glenroy leading, Baurus remaining between Tarvyn and the Emperor.

This post has been edited by Callidus Thorn: Aug 14 2014, 12:10 PM


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McBadgere
post Apr 26 2014, 10:37 AM
Post #11


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OOoooh, nicely done that with the old concussion making it impossible to do the spells... goodjob.gif ...

Loved hearing about Tarvyn's history, sounds a proper hard-ass... biggrin.gif ...

Oh, I also enjoyed the side-step of most of the Goblin™ dungeon crawl bit.. biggrin.gif ...

And Uriel's turning up in anyone's story is always an absolute joy...Loved that...

Nicely done Thorny-Boy!...

*Applauds heartily*...
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Grits
post Apr 26 2014, 05:02 PM
Post #12


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I love that you are simply summarizing the game parts that you don’t need in the story.

You worked Tarvyn’s backstory seamlessly into the flow of now. Well done and very interesting!


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Acadian
post Apr 26 2014, 06:56 PM
Post #13


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From: Las Vegas



You continue to do a great job with the tutorial. Like McB, I enjoyed the logical explanation as to why Tarvyn’s magic is limited at the moment to primarily a flare spell. And, as Grits said, good choices picking and choosing what to summarize and what to lavish attention on.

Again, the title you give this story is well-deserved as we learn more of why Tarvyn is placed where he is.

Good job of quickly establishing a rapport between Uriel and Tarvyn, even as you maintain the tension from the Blades.

This is all nicely done, and you have a very engaging style. smile.gif

Nits:

‘The walls were immaculately crafted, the the only flaws in the stonework the product of age rather than poor workmanship.’ - - Double ‘the’ before the word ‘only’.

“For months struggled with my thoughts.” - - This is dialogue so, technically, you can have Tarvyn speak any way you wish. I would recommend, however, you consider adding an ‘I’ before ‘struggled’ as I suspect that is simply an unintentional omission.


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haute ecole rider
post Apr 27 2014, 07:55 PM
Post #14


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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



First let me say that I've been enjoying this story, and revisiting the dreaded tutorial dungeon again, this time with a mysterious Dunmer character.

Now a nit:
QUOTE
And for their part, the Morag Tong discretely encouraged its members to learn a degree of magic,

This is something I see time and time again - the use of discrete vs discreet. I pick it out here because so many writers, on this forum and elsewhere, get the two mixed up. Not surprising, as the two sound exactly alike (at least to my tone deaf ears), but they mean entirely different things. Thorny, I hope you don't mind my getting up on my little soapbox here . . . wacko.gif

Here's what Merriam Webster Online has to say:
QUOTE
Full Definition of DISCRETE

1: constituting a separate entity : individually distinct <several discrete sections>
2a : consisting of distinct or unconnected elements : noncontinuous
b : taking on or having a finite or countably infinite number of values <discrete probabilities> <a discrete random variable>


Discrete refers to a number of items that are separate from each other. On the other hand:
QUOTE
Full Definition of DISCREET

1: having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech : prudent; especially : capable of preserving prudent silence
2: unpretentious, modest <the warmth and discreet elegance of a civilized home — Joseph Wechsberg>
3: unobtrusive, unnoticeable <followed at a discreet distance>
In the context of the sentence I quoted above, discreetly would be the appropriate word here.

I hope this helps more than just you, Thorny! wink.gif

Back to the story. I've been reading it from the first post, and am liking it so far. In this latest post, as others have pointed out, I especially liked the concussion explaining why Tarvyn is not able to cast anything stronger than a Bic lighter, at least in the tutorial dungeon! I hope to see more of Tarvyn's character development as we progress toward the outside world (and perhaps the obligatory bath in Lake Rumare?) wink.gif


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Callidus Thorn
post Apr 29 2014, 10:27 PM
Post #15


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From: Midgard, Cyrodiil, one or two others.



McB: Thanks. I'm not sure Tarvyn's a hard-ass, he's a bit of an oddball really.

Grits: MY last attempt had me trying to write up everything, and it's not something I'd care to try again. Too much time writing and not enough gaming for me biggrin.gif

Acadian: Thanks for catching those, and even more for the kind words.

HER: Glad you're enjoying it so far. Thanks for pointing out about discrete/discreet. I was thrown by discretion, that word's a nuisance.



And without further ado, part 3:

Chapter 1 Part 3

Time and again they were attacked by more of the would-be assassins, charging from the shadows in their infernal armour. And each time they were cut down by the Blades, their skill more than making up for their lack of numbers. Tarvyn hung back from the fighting, his rusted bow of little use against the attackers. The swift, fluid fighting style of the Blades left little opportunity for shooting into the melee anyway. He was more likely to hit a Blade than a foe, and while the arrow likely couldn't penetrate their armour, the distraction could prove fatal.

Even the Emperor had drawn his blade, a beautifully crafted silver shortsword that seemed to reflect more light than it should. Such was the skill of his Blades that he never had to shed blood with it, and the three made steady progress, Tarvyn stalking the shadows behind them.

But even as they advanced Tarvyn had the sense of a noose tightening around them. The Morag Tong didn't typically rely on trapping targets, but there were times it was necessary. And members had fallen victim to them in the past, so all were taught to recognise and evade them. But Tarvyn could see no way out of this one. The Blades were limited to a single path, while the assassins were able to attack from seemingly anywhere. Yet they seemed reluctant to press their advantage when they did, only a handful of them attacking at any one time. Tarvyn suspected the attacks were simply to hurry them along, rather than genuine attempts on the Emperor's life.

Nowhere did that become more clear than as they approached the entrance to the sewers, the last stage of the escape route. There they found the gate barred against them, and a metallic squeal from behind them left no doubt that they were trapped. There was only a single path open to them, leading to a single room, with no other exit. Tarvyn waited there with the Emperor while the Blades took up position before the doorway, resolving to hold out until help arrived. Or failing that, to take as many of the foe with them as possible before death claimed them.

Tarvyn stood at the entrance to the room, waiting for the subtle shifts in the darkness that revealed movement, watching the shadows out of the corners of his eyes. The attackers seemed to come from everywhere, dropping from upper levels all around the Blades. Clad in armour and wielding maces still dripping the magics that summoned them, they rushed to the attack. The Blades stood their ground, facing the mad rush with implacable resolve.

Tarvyn watched them fight, as much of it as he could make out in the gloom. Their blades flashed through swift slashes, catching what little light there was in a dazzling display of skill. But even such well trained guardians could not stand forever against the sheer weight of numbers their assailants brought to bear. Though more than a dozen lay slain at their feet, more and more rushed to join the fray, and the Blades were forced onto the defensive as the fight wore on. But still they stood their ground before the passageway, fighting back to back, their blades weaving a lethal web of razor-edged steel around them.

But for all their skill, blows still rained upon their armour, and when one lucky swing glanced off Glenroy's helm, he faltered for just a moment, missing a parry. The blow crashed into his shoulder, his armour screaming as the force of the blow tore it asunder. Glenroy roared, more from rage than pain, as the blade fell from his grip, his mauled arm no longer able to hold it. Fuelled by fury and adrenaline, his good arm shot out and gripped one of the attackers by the throat, crushing the life from him even as he was overwhelmed.

Tarvyn suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to face the Emperor, and was astonished by how calm he seemed. The Emperor reached into his robes and withdrew an amulet, a vast red jewel on a golden chain, and handed it to Tarvyn. “My time is ended Tarvyn, but there is yet one who may take my place. Take my Amulet to Jauffre, tell him to find my secret son. This is why you are here Tarvyn. Deliver the Amulet, and count your debt fulfilled.”

No sooner had he finished speaking than another of the attackers burst through the wall behind him, the truth of the trap finally revealed. Unlike the others he wielded a dagger, and in a single smooth movement darted forward and plunged it into the Emperor's back. The Emperor's final breath gurgled from his throat as his eyes fixed on Tarvyn, imploring him to follow his last command. The assassin withdrew his dagger and stepped towards Tarvyn. Before Tarvyn could even begin to move Baurus was there, knocking the dagger aside before his return stroke buried his blade deep in the assassin's neck. The body collapsed, taking Baurus' blade with it as the sight of the Emperor's body robbed him of his strength.

Baurus stumbled over to the Emperor's side before his knees buckled, almost pitching him to the floor, tears of shame and grief rolling down his cheeks. “We've failed.... I've failed.” He said, his voice barely above a whisper, as if he lacked even the strength to speak. Then a thought shook him from his torpor, and he began searching the Emperor's robes, before turning to Tarvyn. “The Amulet of Kings? Where is it?”

Tarvyn showed Baurus the Amulet and told him of the Emperor's last words.

“Another son? Then there's still hope. You must follow the Emperor's orders. Jauffre is the Grandmaster of the Blades, you will find him at Weynon Priory, near Chorrol.”

“I'm new to Cyrodiil, where's Chorrol?”

“It lies north-west of the Imperial City. The exit from the sewers will put you on the east side of City Isle, the main bridge leading to the city gates is on the west side. Use that to get your bearings, and look for the road signs, it's the best way to get avoid getting lost. But at all costs, stay off the roads, they will not be safe this night, for you more than any.” Baurus reached into a pouch at his belt and handed Tarvyn a key. “This will open the door to the sewers, but before you go there is something I must tell you. You must have wondered why there were only three of us to defend the Emperor? What you have seen this night is only a fraction of what has led us here. Listen well, Tarvyn...”

This post has been edited by Callidus Thorn: Apr 30 2014, 05:42 PM


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Acadian
post Apr 30 2014, 04:46 PM
Post #16


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What a great job writing this epic last stand of the Blades trying to protect their emperor!

‘The swift, fluid fighting style of the Blades left little opportunity for shooting into the melee anyway.’ - - This sure is true. I’ve had terrible luck trying to shoot into a fast moving melee fight. kvright.gif

”Deliver the Amulet, and count your debt fulfilled.” - - A nice twist. No mention of closing the jaws of Oblivion or saving the world. Just a simple request. Hopefully this Jaufre fellow will be able to take things from there. Or maybe not. . . .

Ooh! And another twist as Baurus prepares to reveal som background that the game seems to have overlooked.

Nit: ‘...a beautifully crafted silver shortsword that seemed tp ref;ect more light than it should.’ - - Just a typo, spelling reflect.


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McBadgere
post May 1 2014, 06:09 AM
Post #17


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And so, once more, passes Uriel Septim...*Nods*...

Awesomely done!!!!...Really enjoyed that, the whole Blades Kicking Behind For The Most Part™ was excellently written!!...

The demise of Glenroy was nicely handled, very epic...

So there's this bit done...Looking forward to seeing where he ends up after the sewer-grate... biggrin.gif ...'cause if you're following your game, he'll be in no hurry to get to Chorrol... laugh.gif ...

Excellent stuff...

Nice one!!...

*Applauds heartily*...

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Callidus Thorn
post May 4 2014, 09:24 AM
Post #18


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From: Midgard, Cyrodiil, one or two others.



Thanks guys!

Here's the next part, Baurus' Tale. I've always thought the game didn't do the Blades justice, and the thought kind of got away from me laugh.gif

Sorry it's taking so long to get out of the sewers.


Baurus' Tale

“The Blades are not mere bodyguards. Those of my order, the Order of Talos, are trained to defend the Emperor and his family. We are drawn from the Legion, chosen both for our skills and our loyalty, and sworn to serve the Emperor above all. With steel and sinew we defend the Dragon Blood, against any and all threats. Only the best of my order are chosen to serve in the Emperor's Guard, and there is no higher honour among the Blades, and no weightier duty. But we are not the only Order of the Blades.

The Order of Zenithar serve as diplomats and ambassadors, and the Orders of Kynareth and Julianos make up the remaining number of Blades; covert agents. Some to discover threats, others to remove them. These agents are spread throughout Tamriel, a clandestine net, ever vigilant for threats to the Empire. The agents report to the Spymaster, who in turn reports to Jauffre, Head of the Order of Talos, and Grandmaster of the Blades. Copies of those reports would then be sent to the Captain of the Emperor's Guard, so that we were not taken by surprise. It is only because of this that we knew the scale of what was coming.

Our agents began to find hints, minor things, but enough of them to suggest something was at work. More agents were sent to investigate, but they found little more before disappearing. Others were sent after them, but they too, vanished. Any agent that went looking for them, or for some clue as to those behind it, were never heard from again. Something was moving against us, and we couldn't even find out what it was. But while we knew nothing of them, it soon became clear they knew a great deal of us.

A week ago, we received word that the Spymaster had been assassinated. The grandmaster immediately had already begun to take action, moving the Emperor's heirs to secure locations, estates in the countryside where they would be easier to defend. Few knew of them, so prying eyes could be seen easier than in the cities. Grandmaster Jauffre decided nowhere in Cyrodiil was safe for the Emperor, save among the Blades, but he dared not move the Emperor, not yet. Leaving the Imperial City could not be done discreetly, not without preparation. Messages were sent to trusted Legion Commanders, patrol routes were adjusted, but we were running out of time. While the Grandmaster arranged this, our covert network in Cyrodiil was shredded, and within four days nearly all our agents had been eliminated.

That was when they went after the Emperor's sons. One by one they were murdered, along with the Blades who defended them. It was only the last remnants of our network that brought word to the Grandmaster, but word did not reach us of this. Until tonight not one message reached us. Captain Renault knew something was wrong, but did not want to act blindly. But when a messenger reached us tonight, half dead and carrying the news of the deaths of the Emperor's sons, her hand was forced.

'The time for discretion has passed', she told us, and so we escorted the Emperor from the Palace. A score of heavily armoured figures surrounding the Emperor, a steel-clad wall of bodies marching through the streets of the Imperial City, swords drawn. The citizens fled at the sight of us, and Legionnaires raced to report to their Captains. By the time we reached the Talos Plaza district, half the city likely knew the Emperor was departing. Not that it mattered, not once we reached Talos Plaza.

They came out of the shadows, silently darting from darkened alleyways and striking without warning. A dozen of them fell upon us from the rear, and three of us fell before we slew the attackers. From that moment on, every step carried a price in blood, ours or theirs. When we saw the main gate held against us, the bodies of Legion Soldiers in pools of blood before it, the Captain ordered us to the Elven Gardens District. We cut our way through, losing two more of our number, but gaining a dozen Legionnaires along the way.

The Elven Gardens were no safer than Talos Plaza had been. They harried us constantly, anywhere from three to six of them at a time. Four of us; the Captain, another Breton named Jhared, Glenroy, and myself kept back from the fighting, shielding the Emperor with our bodies in case they had archers with them. Following the Captain's orders, we fought our way across Elven Gardens, leaving a crimson trail studded with bodies, both ours and theirs.

The Market District was even worse. Half the Legionnaires were cut down within moments, lacking our extensive training, and still more attackers charged us. They grew more and more frenzied as we pushed onwards, harrying us from the sides and rear. At the time we thought we were succeeding, but now that seems folly. They herded us towards the prison. The Captain ordered the rest to stand rearguard, and hold as long as possible, while we escorted the Emperor inside. From there you know our tale. I doubt any of the others survived, not against those numbers."

As Baurus' voice trailed off, Tarvyn remained silent. Baurus had the look of a man stretched to the point of breaking, and he simply didn't know what to say. For long moments Baurus stared at the Emperor's body, as though it were the only thing in the world. Perhaps to him, it was. Then without warning Baurus surged to his feet, scooping up his katana, and turned to face Tarvyn.

“Nearly a score of us, all dead, and still we failed. Yet you survive, when so many fell. The Emperor was right to spare you, Tarvyn Dralor. Now go, I will wait with the Emperor, and should any seek to follow you, I will do what I can. Go.”

This post has been edited by Callidus Thorn: May 4 2014, 03:40 PM


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Acadian
post May 4 2014, 09:23 PM
Post #19


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What a fabulous illumination of events that led the Emperor’s entourage to the secret escape tunnel in the prison. It all fits nicely with the facts as we know them – and helps explain how the situation became so dire. After hearing Baurus’ impassioned account, I know I would certainly feel obligated to try and deliver that amulet. I look forward to learning if Tarvyn will complete this task.

Nicely done! I’m so glad you added this to the prison sequence. goodjob.gif


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McBadgere
post May 5 2014, 09:19 AM
Post #20


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QUOTE(Callidus Thorn @ May 4 2014, 09:24 AM) *

Thanks guys!

You're welcome, always... smile.gif ...
QUOTE

Here's the next part, Baurus' Tale. I've always thought the game didn't do the Blades justice, and the thought kind of got away from me laugh.gif

Oh, I know exactly what you mean... biggrin.gif ...
QUOTE

Sorry it's taking so long to get out of the sewers.



Right, this is where I give my "Unqualified to talk really"™ lecture...

This story is yours...And yours only...How long you take to tell it is entirely down to you, and should never be cut short, altered to fit, sequence shortened steps removed etc for any reason other than YOU WANT TO...It's not up to anyone else...

Had you wished to follow the entire dungeon crawl exactly, with musings on the masonry of the under-city; who created the zombie; who put the stuff in the chests; where the Goblins came from, their smell, and the sound of their squeal they make as you drive your sword through their back...Wait...Hang on...*Makes notes*...

My point is, if you'd wanted all that in, because writing it really appealed to you, then that would have been absolutely fine also...

Getting out of the sewers takes a while in the game...You've not exactly hung about, you know?... biggrin.gif ...

Everything has been written amazingly well, I've been massively enjoying it...So there's no need to apologise to me about it...I'd have been just as happy, and likely very impressed with the writing had you kept everything else in too...*Shrug*...

Anyways, "loved" the whole sad tale of the utter destruction of the Blades and their spy network...That was brilliantly worked out and written...

The desperate flight across the city was epic and tense...You did excellently there!... goodjob.gif ...

Brilliant stuff Thorny-Boy...

Nice one!!...

*Applauds heartily*...
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