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> The secret of Thaldorn Manor
Lopov
post Jul 5 2020, 06:48 AM
Post #41


Master
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Joined: 11-February 13
From: Slovenia



@Acadian - I'm glad to hear that you were on the edge of the seat during the latest story.

Indeed, Khetto turned out to be more important than it may looked like in the beginning.

@Renee - the Thaldorn Manor is between Pell's Gate and Fort Alessia, the bridge leading to it, is located at the crossing of the two small bridges between the before-mentioned locations.

@SubRosa - Khetto is just a wine smuggler and a horse thief, that fortunately for Vesuvius, managed to be on the right place at the right time. But maybe some Divines are pulling the strings from behind, who knows...

So, dear readers, before you lies the final chapter of the story. I hope that you will enjoy it, and I hope that you have enjoyed the story as such. Happy reading!


X

The door creaked as it opened.

And creaked as it closed.

Branwen saw the mother first, as she came down the stairs, now walking like a normal human being.

"GHRHRHG!" horrific gurgle sound greeted the captives.

"Julianos help us! Help us all..." Marie's sobbing voice filled the basement of despair, as she began praying to her deity, in what seemed to be the last prayer in her short life. During the time of her captivity she was all the time asking herself about Julianos - why doesn't He help her now, when she's in such a need? She was obediently serving Him since her childhood, she never demanded anything in return, because to be destined to follow his will was the greatest possible honor, but couldn't her deity at least try and somehow interfere? Like now?

The mother jumped from the stairs down on all four like she was some feral beast. She lowered her head and sniffed the floor, as if trying to find some lead to follow.

Jolie stared at her, the expression on her face full of hatred. If she was to die, she won't show her fear. Although she has never been a warrior, she decided to die like one. She thought of her beloved Edouard, of the man, who had saved her life years ago, when she was on a verge of making suicide, because she couldn't get over the events that transpired to her in this very basement. He's dead now, so her life doesn't have any sense anymore. She was ready for death to embrace her, but she was nonetheless hoping that it'll happen quick.

"GUUAAARFGG!" A gurgling scream as the mother erratically stood up and began a slow walk behind the broken throne in the direction of Branwen. The movement reminded Branwen of someone, that was being constantly under the influence of convulsions, and didn't Ves say that he had witnessed Deurexia's suffering severe convulsions after she had drank the poison? Branwen regretted that she fell into the trap, which Rieltar set up for her, so easily. This was the end now, no doubt. Rieltar himself said, that he won't call his bestial mother up, the next time she appears. Branwen thought of Ves, of her love. Only when someone is close to dying, the life becomes precious. She regretted leaving him, regretted not bearing with him in his times of trouble. Now she's here in this forsaken basement, in pain, alone and without Ves. If she could only turn back time!

"GNNGHH!" The mother almost tripped over the throne, but caught balance and made a step towards Branwen. Jolie glanced at the mother and for a single second a thought passed her mind, that this odd walking and odd voices are just a well-thought play, but she didn't have much time to think...

"BHHRHAANWWEEEEN!" yelled the mother and her harsh voice echoed through the basement, making it completely unimportant, whether it was all played-out or not, because the situation seemed desperate.

Branwen closed her eyes and lowered her head as much as the collar allowed. This was the end, no doubt.

Jolie didn't close her eyes, but turned her head in the right, she didn't want to see Branwen getting killed.

Although she tried to remain firm, she cried. Soon I’ll be with you, Edouard…soon.

Marie began what was to be her final chant to her Divine: "Julianos says: K-k-know the truth. Observe t-t-t-he law. When in d-doubt, seek wisdom from t-t-the wise. AND SEND SOMEONE TO HELP US, FOR THE LOVE OF GODS!"

Like the prayer-turned-shouting confused even the mother, she briefly stopped and glanced at Marie.

In the same moment, however, something most unexpected happened.

"Har har we there! That brick!

The voice?

The voice from behind the wall?

"Which brick? This one?"

Familiar voice? Branwen recognized it immediately!

Vesuvius!

Marie recognized it too!

"No, that one, Imp. Let me, let me!"

"VES!" Branwen screamed as much as possible.

"HELP! SHE'LL KILL US!"

Her plea for help was instantly joined by Marie and Jolie, who started screaming for help as well.

The mother startled, seemingly confused. She glanced right to the wall, the voices from behind obviously confused her too. Before she could move, Marie's voice filled the basement.

"VESUVIUS, OVER HERE! JULIANOS, CRUSH THAT WALL!"

Whether it was because of Marie's devotion to Julianos or because strong Khetto slammed against loose bricks, it was never really known, but in the end it didn't even matter. What mattered was that bricks fell out, one of the walls collapsed, bright blue light pierced the dark basement and Vesuvius and Khetto jumped in, like knights being carried on the wings of light.

"NOOOO!" The mother yelled and sprinted up the stairs, her movement not erratic or zombie-like at all. Her movement was clearly human, a movement of someone that deliberately wants to escape.

Her yell briefly startled Vesuvius, because his eyes weren't yet used to the darkness that prevailed in the basement, but after one quick glance at the captives, especially at Branwen, he knew, where his priorities lie.

"Khetto, stay with them! I'm going after her!"

"Ves, be careful," shouted Branwen as the mother already disappeared out of her view. "She's not alone. Rieltar is somewhere with her!"

"Rieltar, damn it! That's the name! Khetto will watch over you, while I deal with her.”

“Julianos watches over you, oh my savior!” A good wish from Marie didn’t go unheard.

“Kill her! And him! For Edouard!” Perhaps Jolie’s late husband will at least be avenged.

The door creaked as it opened but the mother didn't have time to close them. Ves was on her tail.

Who in Oblivion is this creature? It looks like Deurexia Thaldorn but it can't be her...I haven't seen her face in the darkness but it just can't be her.

Ves rushed out of the basement, and saw the supposed mother in red robes running up the stairs, leading to the upper floors. She was very fast, probably enhanced by some speed-increasing spell or wearing and enchanted item with the same effect.

It can't be Deurexia! The corpses of both Thaldorns were burnt in front of my eyes on the night when they were brought to the Imperial City. It must be some cheap trick.

Ves jumped over multiple stairs leading to the middle floor, another set of stairs was on his left, leading to the upper floor, where he witnessed the suicide of both Thaldorns years ago.

What matters is that Branwen,...that all of them are alive. I'll deal with this witch, whoever she is. But I need to be careful, Branwen mentioned Rieltar. That is, if he's even at home. He could jump at me, while I'll be busy fighting the witch. Unless...

Ves didn't have time to think anymore, because he reached the top floor. There was nobody to see, so he stopped, listened and looked around. If this place had been nicely furnished five years ago, it now represented the realm of the light-hating madman. Most windows were closed with wooden boards, some with tapestries. Except one small candle above the dirty bed, and some light making its way through obstacles in front of the windows, there weren't other light sources. There was some huge, square-shaped piece of rock on the other end, and bones seemed to be stuck in it.

The supposed mother could only be hiding in one place. In the alcove on the left.

"Show yourself, witch! I'm coming for you!"

As if ordered, the figure in red robes stepped outside. There was something different on her now. She was wearing a daedric mask.

"I assume you won't simply surrender, right?" asked Vesuvius. "Scumbags like you never do."

The figure said nothing, just stared at him.

"I don't know who you are, witch, but you're not Deurexia. You can dress like her, you can wear her amulet, but she's dead. I enjoyed watching her vile body disappearing in flames. So stop pretending that you're someone else and get ready for battle."

Ves firmly grabbed his sabre, readied his shield and carefully began walking towards the mysterious captor. As he was about halfway against her, the mother lifted her left hand in the air, green light encircled her and she went invisible.

"Your pathetic magic won't impress me. I've dealt with far worse than you!"

A zombie appeared right in front of Vesuvius and immediately got a stab from Vesuvius's sabre.

"Too cowardly to fight yourself, right? You're sending dirty minions to your aid?"

A burst of shock magic sparkled Vesuvius, and the zombie used this to his advantage and scratched Ves’ face before the brave Imperial jumped back and avoided more severe wounds.

The magic was powerful, the zombie was of some rather tough variant, judged Ves, but altogether he shouldn't have too many difficulties bringing his opponent down. What mattered was that he gets close to her as soon as possible and prevent her from casting more spells.

Another spark of shock magic, as the red-robed figure cleverly stepped behind the zombie to protect her.

"I'm quite magic-resistant, as you'll notice!"

Ves powerfully swung his blade, cutting the summoned zombie's head off, it disappeared in a second. His opponent immediately brought another one from the depths of the dark realm, but Ves swiftly jumped closer to her during the time, where there was no obstacle between them. She wanted to immediately cast another spell but Ves swung his blade again, cutting the palms of her right hand. The spell was interrupted and as she tried to cast another spell, it failed.

"Let me see you cast a spell now, witch. I was trained to fight against scumbags like you! My sabre is enchanted with more powerful magic than what comes out of your petty fingers."

Another swing - the witch tried to move her left hand out of reach, but Ves cut her palm, a thin wound appeared, from which blood poured heavily and this was enough to prevent further spell-casting.

"When you attack from behind, and torture women in chains, you're probably quite mighty. But with your magical hands gone, you're no more than a petty rat. I don't even need the blade to bring you down."

Realized that spells can't be hurled at Ves anymore, the mother lost control, rushed at him and began punching him with bare fists, like an angry kid would attack another kid. Ves banged her with his heavy iron shield straight in the chest and the mother went flying backwards, until landing on the dusty floor. She tried to standd up but after another forceful shield bash straight in her face she remained motionless.

"Game over."

Ves quickly stepped over to his unconscious opponent, leaned down, released the buckles and removed the mask.

.
.
.

"No, you stay here, Khetto watch over you!"

"We must help Ves! Perhaps he's in trouble." Branwen was already running up the stairs.

"We must help the messenger of Julianos," Marie hurried behind her.

"I want to make that bastard pay for the death of my husband," Jolie joined them.

"Women never listen! Always in troubles, that's because they never listen!" Having no other choice, Khetto hurried after the girls, that he just released from shackles.

.
.
.

The basement of despair

The mother arrives

Eternal darkness

Carried by the light

Running away

It didn't work out as intended

The chaser

The catch

The upper floor

Battle awaits

Masked

Invisible

Zombie attacks

Shock magic

Final spell

Failed spell

Time to end...

...this little game

Game over

.
.
.

"VES!" Branwen shouted as they came to the ground floor.

"Up there! It's over!"

What a relief.

Julianos thank you!

They all hurried up the stairs to the upper floor and saw Ves leaning over the body of the red-robed figure.

"Is she dead?" asked Branwen.

"No, no. Just unconscious,” reassuringly said Ves. “A few bruises here and there, and a few bad cuts, but nothing serious. But it's not a she."

"What?"

All of them hurried over to Ves.

"It's a he."

As they looked at the body of the mysterious figure that had been terrorizing them in the basement, behaving like it was a zombie, making gurgling sounds like it was choking, they saw the familiar face, which was completely human, and very familiar.

The face of their captor...

.
.
.

...the face of Rieltar...

.
.
.

Rieltar, dressed in red robes that belonged to his mother.

Rieltar with his hair combed to both sides, not tied up in a ponytail.

"I don't know what you were through in this damned manor, I’m not sure if I even want to imagine it...but I assume that I no longer need to search for the son, right? There were never two of them.”

"Oh, Ves, my hero!" Branwen hugged him.

"Julianos sent you, I know it!" Marie hugged him too.

Only Jolie wasn't feeling any sort of happiness. Her Edouard was dead, and the beast that had killed him, was lying on the floor, still alive. Alive! While her Edouard was dead!

"Har har everybody!" Khetto came up the stairs as last and passed Jolie.

“Now what have we here? Man woman?”

Jolie’s eyes glanced at the sword tucked at Khetto’s belt. When he raised his hands in the air and wanted to clap at Ves the savior, Jolie saw her opportunity. Now or never! Surprised by her own strength, she grabbed Khetto's longsword and pulled it out of the sheath.

“What are you…?”

Before Khetto could even react, before anyone could say anything, Jolie lunged at unconscious Rieltar and with a warrior-like yell forcefully stuck Khetto's sword straight through his chest. The pain made their captor open his eyes one last time, he made one more gasp, before a thin stream of thick dark blood slowly poured out of his mouth, and his head lifelessly fell down to the ground.

"This creature killed my husband!" Crying, Jolie was still firmly holding the sword plucked in Rieltar’s chest, from where blood was now pouring heavily.

"Ermm..." Ves made a step closer to Jolie. "Your reaction is justified in my eyes... but I should have mentioned it earlier perhaps. Edouard is alive!"

Jolie looked up, a smile played on her tear-filled face. She dropped the sword, but it remained stuck in Rieltar’s body.

"What?"

"He was the one that directed me after you actually. He was severely wounded but I'm sure that he fully recovered by now. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be here now. And for Khetto of course! They’re both real heroes."

"My Edouard alive!" Now Jolie hugged Ves as well.

"If I knew this earlier...I...I"

"Don't feel bad about it," said Branwen. "He deserved it in full. I wish I could do it."

"I'd prefer if we brought him back alive, so my brother could believe that everything that I was trying to tell him, was true. But in the end...maybe it's for the best," said Vesuvius.

"Quite a gruesome act you performed," hushed Marie Palielle, then raised her right index finger and continued," but Julianos forgave you already, in case you were concerned."

"Har my sword bloody now! Khetto wants it no more."

.
.
.

A few days later


Branwen was sitting on the stone bench right outside of the Imperial Bastion. It was early in the afternoon and a lot of guards were returning to the barracks, while their replacements marched out on the other side.

"Another day, another septim," one of them told his accompanying guard as they passed Branwen.

"I have your ear, citizen", said another one as he stopped by Branwen.

"Thanks, I don't need anything," smiled Branwen. "I'm waiting for my friend."

The guard marched on, but there was another one behind him.

"How I can help you citizen?"

"Thanks, everything's fine. Perfect even!" Branwen smiled. It was a really lovely day, not just because of the cloudless sky, but because the nightmare has finally been over.

Ves came out of the bastion and waved at her. Branwen stood up and they hugged.

“So how'd it go?" she asked.

"Thank the Divines for Adamus Phillida. Or as Marie would say - thank Julianos. Although my brother knew that I was telling the truth, he was trying to minimize Rieltar's acts. There aren't any evil-doers in Cyrodiil except the Thieves Guild, in his eyes."

"That hypocrite!"

"But fortunately Phillida stepped in and allowed me to tell the entire tale from my viewpoint. I admit that I really enjoyed, when Phillida asked my brother, why he denied helping me, when I came to the Imperial City, searching for you and others. A quick look on the list of Legion couriers would reveal that there was never Lartier among the couriers."

"You’re very unlike your brother. I always knew that. But was anything more about Rieltar revealed?" was curious Branwen and before Ves knew, she took his hand as they were walking over the bridge between the prison and the Market district.

"Unfortunately very little. Since Jolie killed him, we won't get any answers. Then again, it’s hard to say, whether he would be willing to say anything even if captured alive. Maybe it's even better that some things remain unexplained.

We don't know why has he returned home after so many years - where was he in between? Some sources claim that he was a member of the necromancers, but nobody knows why he came home just...now."

They were now walking through the Market District in the direction of the Arena. News of the events in the Thaldorn Manor spread through the town in a matter of days, and everyone recognized Vesuvius Lex the savior.

"There was Deurexia's diary in the manor, quite hidden. In it she explained in details the capture of you and others, and we assume that when Rieltar read this diary, he knew where to find you and Marie and Jolie, because your names and whereabouts were mentioned. It wasn’t that difficult for him, because you remained in the Imperial City, Marie remained in Skingrad, only Jolie moved a distance away from Leyawiin but obviously he tracked her down with ease as well. Quite some pieces of the diary will need to be deciphered, because there are some inscriptions in Daedric, some obscure paintings with runes, but there's a mention of some sacrificial rituals, and of the Deep ones from the village of Hackdirt. There have often been problems with that settlement, so Phillida promised to perform a thorough investigation here. We don’t know at the moment who or what the Deep Ones are, but a quick look in the archives revealed that Deurexia was before her marriage known as Deurexia Moslin, which is a common family name in Hackdirt. But just like it couldn't be explained what exactly Deurexia wanted to perform five years ago, it wasn't explained now, what were Rieltar's intentions. Well, he was insane, that's obvious but I still think that he was mostly interested in revenge. Thanks to the diary he knew where to find you, and he dressed in Deurexia's clothes to scare all of you. As you said, he was always hiding in shadows, so you couldn't see his face. His growls and movement was obviously just an intentional play, as he was trying to make it look like that his mother is still alive."

"That sick idiot! I'm glad that Jolie killed him you know?"

The Arena was now behind them, and Ves and Branwen were soon greeted by lush plants of the most beautiful district of the Imperial City - the Arboretum. It’s where they kissed for the first time five years ago, and although nobody said it aloud, both of them remembered this event, when they stepped in the Arboretum.

"In the end it was maybe the best possible ending,” agreed Ves.

"Jolie and Marie already returned home, didn't they? I said goodbye to both of them yesterday in the evening, because they mentioned that they're returning home today."

"Yes, Edouard came for Jolie, and they're by now already on their way home. I don't want to imagine what would happen if Edouard hadn't survived. Marie returned to Skingrad as well. One can't just keep Julianos waiting for too long," smiled Ves. "We said goodbye to each other as well. Marie promised to thank Julianos and me every day, and Jolie and Edouard said that they'll name their first son after me."

"What an honor! So what are your plans?" asked Branwen.

"Well in the moment I have only plan," smiled Ves.

"Are you taking me for a dinner?"

"Perhaps later. But first..."

"First what..."

"Just be quiet for a second," said Ves and kissed Branwen. A second led to quite a few more seconds as the lovers continued to kiss under the shining Sun in the Arboretum.

.
.
.

The epilogue


With the death of Rieltar Brunos Thaldorn, the Thaldorn family finally ceased to exist. Rieltar’s corpse was burnt, just like the corpses of his parents. The family manor was a few months later bought by Jakben, Earl of Imbel, the mysterious but very rich nobleman of the Imperial City, that everyone knew about, but almost nobody ever saw him. The manor was renovated and returned to its original state, but except his servants marching in and out of the manor, hardly anyone ever sees the mysterious owner.

Jolie continues to live in Water’s Edge with her beloved Edouard, and just like she had promised, they named their first child after Vesuvius. But because she gave birth to a girl instead of a boy, they named her Vesuvia.

Marie Palielle continues to obediently perform her duties in the Great Chapel of Julianos in Skingrad. Every day she thanks her deity and Vesuvius Lex for the timely rescue. If you ever find yourself in Skingrad, Marie Palielle will gladly teach you some restoration.

As Hieronymus Lex was relocated to Anvil, whether because of the serious mistakes performed during the search for the captives, or whether because the Thieves Guild arranged for it, the Lex family house in the Elven Garden District belonged to Vesuvius. He moved in there with Branwen, who decided to put the career at the Arena behind, and instead focused on the family life with her love and their future children. A new chapter was opened in the Imperial Legion, namely The Disappearances Investigation Office, and it’s led by Vesuvius Lex, who returned to the Imperial Legion on the behalf of Adamus Phillida. Among others, Ves stopped drinking alcohol as well.

As for Khetto...as a reward for his precious help in saving the captives at the Thaldorn manor, his previous crimes have been forgotten and erased from the records by Adamus Phillida personally. But Khetto wouldn’t be Khetto, if he wouldn’t steal a horse as soon as he came out of the Imperial City. Having no other choice, he was put in jail like many times before. But Khetto doesn’t care, because “har har” everything is good in the end, and the Sun shines after every rain.

The end


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"I saw a politician the other day."
"Horrible creatures - I avoid them whenever I can."
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Acadian
post Jul 5 2020, 06:46 PM
Post #42


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



A wonderfully full and satisfying end to this well-woven story! You really did a good job of developing numerous characters, giving each their own story and tying them all together at the end.

I’m a fan of both happy endings and love stories so this one’s a winner. I’m so glad that Branwen believed in Ves enough to take him back; I’m sure that played a big part in finally helping Ves achieve an essential victory over his drinking.



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macole
post Jul 5 2020, 08:22 PM
Post #43


Agent

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Hooray! Rieltar got what he deserved. The epilogue is great.


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"Mysticism involves the manipulation of magical forces and boundaries to bypass the structures and limitations of the physical world." I call it Console Magic of the Fey.

Endure and through enduring grow strong.
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Renee
post Jul 6 2020, 11:41 AM
Post #44


Councilor
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Joined: 19-March 13
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Crap, so his parents were burned years ago. Well, there goes that theory. I was thinking the mother somehow survived. Maybe she avoided drinking that poison. OH no.... is the mother actually Rieltar?

Vesuvius is very chatty in battle! Well, he is a drunk. Hopefully he can maintain discipline for the next few minutes.

Marie never wavers in her devotion of Julianos!

Whoa, they actually did burst through that wall. Look at all the light now filling the cellar's darkness. The man with the haircut ahead of its time triumphs over Evil Deurexia. Or whoever is behind that mask.

Marie still prays to Julianos. laugh.gif

Whoa Rieltar has a finely-combed female hairdo all the sudden! But how? Oh.... it was gathered up in ponytail all this time. Well phew.

Aw, they kiss at the end. cmok.gif I wonder how you managed to find a kissing mod before I did? cmok.gif I like the way the camera moves away for that final moment.
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Lopov
post Yesterday, 09:17 AM
Post #45


Master
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Joined: 11-February 13
From: Slovenia



@Acadian - thanks! I had the events of the story more or less "fixed in my head", but I let some random ones take place from time to time as well. In the first version Rieltar would be captured alive and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Imperial City, where he'd continue to talk in an insane way, switching between his personality and his mother's, until he'd one day commit suicide. But then I decided that his death was a more fitting end. I'm glad that you liked the love story that took place alongside.

@macole - thanks! As I just wrote above, the death of Rieltar is more fitting for me as well.

@Renee - maybe Julianos was behind it all, who knows? Maybe Marie's devotion to her deity was so strong, that he placed Khetto in the same cell as Ves, so the two would meet and prevail over evil. Strange is the will of the Divines. The kissing mod is an upgraded version of the Hugging mod.


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"Horrible creatures - I avoid them whenever I can."
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