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Chorrol.com _ Fan Fiction _ Buffy - Book 3

Posted by: Acadian Dec 18 2019, 01:42 PM

Welcome to Book 3! As ever, Buffy’s tale of continuing adventure remains one that is character-driven with more focus on her journey than the destination.

Buffy is a Bosmeri child of Tamriel, raised in Bravil and trained at the Arcane University. Her bigger story arc will eventually and magically cross temporal boundaries, enabling her to travel between Eras.

Near the end of Book 1, Buffy helped the man she loved, Savlian Matius, free his city of Kvatch. They were successful, but the terrible cost included Savlian's very life. It was a physically and emotionally broken elf who retreated in grief and despair to her ancestral homeland. Book 2 picks up shortly thereafter and chronicles Buffy's journey of recovery and self-discovery through Valenwood. Book 3 takes place in Cyrodiil and will see the Oblivion Crisis finally yield to the dawn of a new Era – even as Buffy accepts the challenges of walking an ancient path of her own. The small elf has traditionally danced between darkness and light; in this book, she must ultimately and entirely commit to one or the other.

Books 1 and 2, in their staggering entirety as well as an executive summary concise enough to comfortably be read in one sitting, can be found on our sub forum. That said, enjoying Book 3 does not really require more information than is contained right here in these few introductory paragraphs. I have taken care to have Buffy review significant aspects of her past as they become relevant. More specifically, I want new readers to feel comfortable just jumping right into Book 3 without feeling obligated to read Buffy’s previous books first.

I estimate that at one episode per week, Book 3 will require roughly seven months to post. My fervent hope is that you find our humbly-offered efforts worthy of your time.

* * *


~ Part 1 – Welcome Back to Cyrodiil ~


Episode 1


The few determined streaks of early sunshine that managed to penetrate the forest merely teased my right shoulder with their fleeting warmth. Superian’s visible breath drifted up and back to join with the misty fog of my own. Kitsune – my vixen familiar – loped along easily but alertly beside us. The sound of hooves on the Green Road’s worn cobblestones was comforting, but could mask the subtle sounds of approaching danger from the sensitive long ears that all three of us possessed. My sharp eyes, augmented by twin rings of detect life, moved constantly, even as I also relied on the long noses of my precious mare and fox familiar to detect the scent of foes.

Numerous small life signs on the road ahead brought us to a stop. I urged the mare forward cautiously until the forms of half a dozen vultures and several jackals squabbling among themselves came into view. Enough of the armored head and reptilian body remained to identify the carcass they feasted upon as that of a clannfear.

Kitsune teleported up to her spot between my lap and the pommel of Superian’s saddle. The carrion feeders were larger than she and we had no interest in fighting them. We skirted the edge of the road, and those tasked by the Nirn Mother with cleaning her forest briefly gave ground. The unmistakably large tracks of a grizzly bear in the soft ground just off the road told the story. Soon enough, the hungry arguments of the scavengers and acrid smell were behind us. Kitsune leapt to the ground to resume her easy lope alongside Superian.

Cyrodiil had become a much more dangerous place since my return from Valenwood a few months ago. Oblivion Gates had begun appearing with disturbing frequency. Most of the Daedra remained close to the gates that spawned them but some roamed - leaving terror and death in their wake.

The Nirn Mother had responded to the flaming blights within her forests. Grizzly bears, like the one responsible for the tracks I had just seen, were not shy about attacking Daedra.

Spriggans were now more numerous. They and their black bears struggled to protect and restore the forest. They also diligently planted vines near closed Oblivion Gates that could, over time, heal the charred land and even consume the jagged stone detritus left behind.

Thoughts of Oblivion Gates drew my mind to a dear friend, Sir Mazoga. The last I had seen of her was when she and her mate, Sir Agronak, left Kvatch with Martin Septim in tow. Since then, the only word I had of the orcish pair came from reading about how successful they were at slaying Daedra and closing Oblivion Gates. Their squire, Fanador, had become quite the prolific scribe when it came to recording the heroic deeds of his knights.

Well before the sun reached its zenith, it was swallowed by a darkening sky. As we cautiously continued, the road’s next curve allowed a better view. Fear and anger grew within me as I saw the flaming arc of jagged stone that stood before us in the distance. Ominous streaks of red lightning pierced the sinister clouds that hung above this portal to the realm of Mehrunes Dagon.

Had this Oblivion Gate been out in the wilderness, I would have given it a wide berth and moved on.

Alas, such was not the case here.

Heaving a troubled sigh, I whispered to the spirit of the old paladin who dwelled within me, “Acadian, I know the message Kud-Ei gave me last night from Boderi Farano directed that I report to the University straightaway, but this gate is close enough to the Green Road that it poses a serious threat to any who might attempt to travel between Bravil and the vulnerable villages and inns south of Pell’s Gate. I-I can’t leave it open.”

“I share your trepidation, Buffy,” replied Acadian, “but I am proud of your choice.”

While maintaining a good distance from the gate, I circuitously maneuvered Superian up onto a ridgeline that provided adequate range and cover. After carefully selecting a concealed spot among several trees, I dismounted Superian and unshouldered Slayer – my bow.

Kitsune and I crept just clear enough of the trees to gain a commanding view of the gate. Sure enough, I could see a pair of scamps and a single Daedroth patrolling just outside the gate.

There was no banner planted in front of the flaming portal to indicate anyone was inside attempting to close it. Such warning precautions had become necessary. Whether Mehrunes Dagon realized it or not, the very sigil stones that powered these gates had incentivized their destruction. They were prized for their ability to powerfully enchant items with neither training nor access to specialized altars. Bands of intrepid adventurers had grown wealthy closing gates and harvesting the valuable stones. Some of them had undergone the Legion’s gate-closing training program conducted at the Arena, while others had simply gleaned what knowledge they needed from the authoritative writings of Fanador as he described the exploits of his lieges.

“Well, here goes, my paladin. We’ve got to clear those sentries first,” I whispered. “I hope I know what we’re doing.”

As soon as the emerald swirl completed its journey from my fingertips, the Daedroth roared a challenge to the scamps who answered with a barrage of fireballs.

As the Daedra battled, I nocked an arrow.

When the burned and wounded Daedroth stood victoriously alone, I drew my bowstring. The weapon responded by assisting me to fully achieve and maintain its heavy draw. I was able to leisurely aim, then loose. Slayer also helped control the bowstring’s recovery, resulting in a quiet hiss instead of the loud snap normally associated with releasing an arrow. My missile lethally penetrated the monster’s chest.

A scan of the area detected no pink glowing life signs nearby.

I knew I had to move fast, as the Oblivion Gate would soon spawn replacement sentries.

Superian quickly and surely carried me directly down the side of the ridgeline. When I could feel the heat from the portal’s flames, I dismounted and summoned my elven hunting knife. I cut a green branch to a length that matched my height then affixed the small green Mages Guild pennant I carried. I then planted my banner near the gate. It would suffice to warn any who approached that a guild mage was inside. Those foolish enough to enter such a marked gate could expect to die when whoever was inside pulled the sigil stone. We had originally learned this lesson the hard way when Menien Goneld did not survive the closing of Kvatch’s gate.

I checked that my waterskin was full, wishing I had two of them. After augmenting my twin detect life rings with a third ring to help resist the heat of the Deadlands, I asked, “Acadian, would you recall our dragon-mare to safety within us?”

“Vensahliz, I need you,” was my paladin’s simple incantation. Vensahliz was Phantom’s name in dragon tongue, meaning wind-phantom-ice. Phantom was Acadian’s ice dragon mount. Though they both perished serving Kyne during the great dragon war at the end of the Merethic Era over four thousand years ago, their spirits lived – Acadian within me and Phantom within Superian. In order to return to Acadian, Phantom transformed the body she shared with Superian into the essence of their combined spirit. The mare evaporated into a pale blue vapor which made its way to my fingers. I closed my open hand to absorb her.

A moment later, Acadian announced, “She is safely with me now.”

With a glance from me, Kitsune disappeared. Satisfied with the preparations, I took a deep breath. Before I could change my mind, I slipped into the flaming portal.

Even as the dry heat began to permeate my buckskins, I sought a place of hiding among the rocks. The layout of this piece of the Deadlands seemed blessedly simpler than that which Savlian and I had navigated at Kvatch. I moved quickly to the sigil tower, relying on my detection magic and stealth to avoid several roaming Daedra.

Working my way up the tower, I used illusion spells to start several fights among its guardians. The ensuing distractions served to focus their attention away from me as I manipulated any doors or switches necessary to ascend.

The top of this sigil tower was guarded by a storm atronach and dremora warrior. After my magic coaxed the two into combat against each other, I sprinted to the sigil stone and grabbed it.

As the tower rumbled and began to collapse, intense white light forced my eyes closed and I felt myself falling and spinning. After a few terrifying seconds, I bounced off the cold ground of Nirn and scrambled to my feet.

Posted by: Renee Dec 18 2019, 01:51 PM

Aw, you sly man. All this time you've been making up her new story. biggrin.gif Thanks for the recaps from Books 1 and 2.

Cripes, she's in Cyrodiil??? blink.gif Does this mean she's going to PvP?? Wait, it mentions twin detect life rings. So that's Oblivion. Which game are you playing? Maybe a mixture of imagination, while playing ESO, right?

That's pretty neat; spriggans plant vines to take back the mess those Daedra leave behind.

QUOTE
Bands of intrepid adventurers had grown wealthy closing gates and harvesting the valuable stones


Oh yes we have.

Nice, so she frenzies the Daedra, then readies her bow. This is Oblivion then. Wait...

QUOTE
I knew I had to move fast, as the Oblivion Gate would soon spawn replacement sentries.


No, it's ESO? Only this game respawns enemies so quickly Gets on my nerves, actually.

Well whichever game this is based on (or if it's pure imagination) welcome back. cake.gif I have a question about ESO as seen through Buffy's eyes by the way, but I'll ask it next time.

Posted by: SubRosa Dec 18 2019, 04:08 PM

Buffy has a brand new book!

The Buffster, foxy familiar, and precious mare are back in Cyrodiil again. January will have to keep an eye out for her.

I love the thought of Spriggans choking off the oblivion gates, as vegetation always does at its slow, steady pace. So nice to see the Nirn Mother reacting against the disease of the interlopers.

The open gate reminds us that the Oblivion Crisis is still ongoing. Now it is sniper time. Ah, I do remember Buffy's patented Frenzy then sniping combination.

I love the idea that Capitalism is the downfall of the Daedra. All someone had to do was make it profitable to fight the Army of Darkness!

The idea of planting a banner at the gate is very clever, to warn others not to try to follow inside, and be trapped there when their predecessors took the sigil stone.

So nice to see Buffy and her entourage back again! This was a nice refresher, without being too heavy-handed on the Telling, with just enough new action sprinkled in to keep things interesting.

Posted by: Grits Dec 19 2019, 04:10 AM

Yay for Buffy’s Book 3!!

A banner outside the Gate is a great idea! I love that adventurers, knights, bears, and spriggans are all responding to the Oblivion crisis. Buffy’s Gate encounter provided a live demonstration of what a summary would have told, tremendous!

“I hope I know what we’re doing.” This made me smile. It is a delight to ride along on Buffy’s adventures again! happy.gif

Posted by: haute ecole rider Dec 19 2019, 06:49 PM

Just recently I spent some time revisiting Nostalgia Lane by re reading Julian's story. Then you post this first installment in what looks to be Buffy's own resolution to the Oblivion Crisis. *Sigh* It is so good to be back in TES IV again, if only vicariously.

When I first read of the banner in front of the Gate, I thought to myself Damn, I wish I had thought of that! Then I realized that in Julian's story, she always left her horse nearby, and others seeing them would realize there would be someone in there already. So her horses performed a similar function as Buffy's banner. Also, her Crisis didn't seem to take as long as Buffy's already has done, so there would be little opportunity for those intrepid adventurers to take on those Gates. So let me echo what others have said and kudos to you and Buffy for that banner idea!

I've also thought long and hard about what to do about those Gates once they're closed. In the game, they ruin perfectly beautiful places for what seems like forever. In fact, it was intended to be part of Julian's LBMQ that she would address that issue. Your solution is wonderful, and very typical of Buffy's world.

Posted by: BretonBlood Dec 19 2019, 07:34 PM

A new Buffy book!! YES!

This was a great way to start off the new one. Buffy back in Cyrodiil, and going into am Oblivion Gate. The banner trick is genius, a way to keep people safe who have entered the gate so no one comes along and closes the gate with them still inside.

She was smart to use her illusion magic to make the Daedra fight themselves, that makes her mission that much simpler as they aren't focused on her. This was a great first chapter can't wait for more.

Posted by: Lopov Dec 19 2019, 07:37 PM

Great, Buffy's back (on the track)!

I haven't read the story yet, but will do so in the coming days, I want some time for myself only as I focus on the story.

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Dec 21 2019, 06:40 AM

Buffy is back! I kept wondering if we would see a next installment of her since her adventures in Valenwood! Happy to see we're back to Cyrodiil.

Our long-eared friends have returned, and are always primed for something. Seems that the Oblivion Crisis is still raging across Cyrodiil as those fiery gates continue to appear. A good(bad) Daedra is dead one, and it seems even after death their remains can potentially bring big problems such as bears and other hungry predators. Buffy was wise in moving forward.

I love the descriptions on the ongoing crisis and the effects it had on the world. What I really enjoyed here was the fact that brave adventurers made a nice sum with sigil stones that powered(and closed) Oblivion gates. No doubt after the crisis is over, there's much coin to be made.

As others have pointed out, the banner at the gate is a very wise idea! Very smart! This will potentially save lives! Rest in peace Menien Goneld salute.gif

I'm so glad we get to see Buffy back in action! Seeing her make short work of the Daedra only gives us more expectation on what's to come. Upon her moments of self-reflection and meditation, I wonder how much different Buffy is now when renewed with promise.

Posted by: Acadian Dec 25 2019, 02:12 PM

Renee- This story takes place in the game of Oblivion against the backdrop of ending the Obivion Crisis. Buffy has done much world and time traveling since the Oblivion Crisis so this book is effectively sharing some of her old memoires. Thank you so much for joining us!

SubRosa- I’ve found that sequels have their own challenge of how much to review – too much risks boring readers who know Buffy well; too little and new readers are confused. Regardless, there are some essential background elements that must be covered fairly early on. I felt it important that the first few episodes include a good review of who Buffy is, her skills/trappings/companions and where she’s been. Thanks for the encouragement that it has not been excessively heavy handed so far – this was indeed a fair amount of background info to convey, and upcoming episodes will be progressively much lighter in that regard.

Grits- The loss of Menion during Buffy’s first gate closing left a lasting impact on the elf. The use of banners seemed a logical precaution to have developed as more adventurers began closing gates. I appreciate your comment on ‘I hope I know what we’re doing’ as Buffy has used it before to demonstrate the ever presence of Acadian within her. Thank you!

Rider- I’m glad to see that Julian also recognized that a warning outside a gate with adventurers inside was a wise precaution – and using Blanco sounds like an effective alternative. Thank you!

BretonBlood- I’m glad that our idea of using a banner struck a chord with several readers. Illusion spells + bow have been Buffy’s forte so far in her stories. Thank you!

Lopov- Thanks for joining us. I understand the need to read without distractions and look forward to your thoughts.

DE- Buffy, Kitsune and Superian are indeed the ‘Long-eared Gang’! Yes, after a side trip to Valenwood for Book 2, the B is back to help her friends end the Oblivion Crisis. Regarding how Buffy’s experiences have changed her, she is indeed evolving – and Acadian will point that out to her in this next episode. Thank you!

*

Note- Here is a https://i.imgur.com/PWGBIHH.png of Buffy, Superian and Kitsune. Though the shot is from ESO, it is how I envision them during this story.

Previously- Having been summoned to the Arcane University by Boderi Farano, we joined Buffy en route from Bravil. When she encountered an Oblivion Gate dangerously close to the road, she closed it.

* * *


Episode 2


A quick self-inspection verified that I had escaped the Deadlands uninjured. The dark Oblivion sky had fled and I could now see long shadows cast by a westering sun. The sigil stone in my hand hummed with an irritating buzz.

I pulled a spare blouse from what appeared to be a small mage satchel at my waist. In fact, it was a heavily enchanted almost weightless bag of holding. Its cavernous interior could hold an astonishing number of items almost irrespective of size, shape and weight. Thankfully, by merely placing a hand inside the pouch, I could telepathically recall any object stowed inside right to my fingers instead of having to rummage through its many contents. Wrapping the humming sigil stone, I slipped it into the satchel.

Free of the stone’s distracting noise, I was able to focus on recovering my mare. “Superian, I need you.” The spirit that Phantom and Superian shared flowed from within and traveled down one arm until it filled my right fist. As I opened my fingers to release the magic of her essence, Superian materialized in front of me - still under tack.

“Well done, heroine.”

I nearly jumped out of my boots at the voice. So preoccupied had I been silencing and stowing the sigil stone then recovering my mare, that I had noticed neither the glow of the woman’s life sign nor her approach. I turned to see a Breton whose face, framed by short dark hair, appeared to have seen perhaps thirty winters. A dagger was tucked into the belt that cinched a gray robe around her slender form.

She continued, “I was traveling south. . .“

The fact that Superian snorted nervously and backed several paces away as the Breton spoke, told me much more than the woman’s words.

“. . . helping to make this road once again safe. I thank you.”

I had learned to rely on my mare’s judgment. Sure enough, I now detected the tailless pink glows of several more humans, or perhaps elves, in the nearby forest. I began easing back toward Superian, saying, “Thank you for the kind words, traveler, but I must be continuing my journey without delay.”

She replied, louder than was necessary, “The sigil stone you carry is a rich prize but hardly worth your life, I should think.” Three men stepped from the forest and surrounded me. A Redguard wielded a pair of short swords, while two Nords brandished a war hammer and battleaxe respectively. The woman continued, “Perhaps you should surrender that stone to us before peacefully continuing your journey.”

While pleased with Superian’s instincts, the mare had moved too far away to immediately mount. Not only was I surrounded, but even Superian's stunning acceleration couldn’t outrun most spells – and I assumed the Breton with two empty hands was some sort of hedge wizard.

“Very well,” I said. “Four against one are inauspicious odds.” I retrieved the sigil stone and held it up. If they accepted it and let me go, I would track them down and end their careers of banditry. If their plan was to leave no witnesses. . . well, I'd just have to fight all four of them.

“Roll it across the ground to me,” directed the mage.

I did so.

She picked up the stone and stowed it in her pack. “Okay, boys, the elf’s all yours. Just make sure she’s dead after you’ve had your fun with her. Oh, and after you dispose of her body, bring that big yellow warhorse with you – looks like it’ll fetch a good price.”

Both Nords licked their lips as the Redguard spoke. “Well, well, aren’t you a pretty little tree nymph. How ‘bout you set that bow on the ground real easy like, kick it away, then shuck off them buckskins. If you’re real nice to us, we’ll kill you quick after we’ve all had our turn with you.”

The mage smirked, then turned and started to walk away as the men began to argue about who would ‘have their turn’ first.

My right hand began to move slowly toward my bow as instructed. Before it got to my shoulder, however, I spiked the air with my fist and vanished in a lavender cloud of magic. With merely a thought, Kitsune appeared in my place. Quickly slipping out of the circle formed by the three men and gaining a bit of distance, I filled my hand with Slayer.

“The leaf eater’s turned into a damn fox!” shouted one of the Nords. “Get her!”

As Kitsune nimbly slipped between the men and ran toward the hedge wizard, the trio chased after her – away from me.

The mage turned back toward us, “You imbeciles! That’s a summon - ignore it. I’ll cast a detect life spell, locate the elf, then dispel her invisibility.”

My arms, hands and bow appeared in front of me of their own accord as I pulled silk to cheek and loosed the first arrow.

Before the mage’s corpse hit the ground, an illusion spell swirled from my right hand. As it blossomed into the trio of remaining foes, they turned on each other.

By the time only one bloodied Nord remained on his feet, I was well beyond the reach of his war hammer and stood behind my fully drawn bow. “I can kill you long before you close the distance,” I warned, “Drop your weapon and step back from it.”

The fury in his eyes gradually resigned to the reality of his situation. He did as I instructed.

“My name is Dame Buffy. I judge you guilty of robbery, as well as attempted rape, murder and horse thievery. The penalty for such crimes in Cyrodiil is death. I take no pleasure in delivering this sentence but you cannot be allowed the opportunity to ever again attempt such acts against other travelers who may be less able to defend themselves. Unlike the demeaning humiliation you and your associates planned to inflict before killing me, I will grant you a mercifully quick death. Have you any last words? Or would you like a moment to make peace with your gods?”

He spat on the ground, then met my gaze with a wild look in his eyes. I was ready when, instead of yielding to his fate, the unarmed Nord charged.

At this range it was an easy shot. My missile pierced his left eye and the man’s head snapped back violently as my arrowhead shattered the back of his skull. Like the hedge wizard, he was dead before he hit the ground.

I confirmed that none of the four bandits emitted life signs, then returned the sigil stone to my satchel as Superian approached. “You knew that woman was a brigand before I did. Anyone who thinks horses are dumb is full of imp chips.” I mounted and looked down at my vixen as she happily waved her luxuriant tail. “Thank you, Kitsune. The illusion we’ve practiced where you appear to replace me worked wonderfully - though keeping watch for me while I was distracted stowing the sigil stone and recovering Superian would have been helpful also. Now, let us leave this place and allow these bandits to provide for the needs of those little ones who keep this part of the forest clean.”

Once heading north again along the Green Road we rode in silence until Acadian spoke, “I am proud of you, Buffy.”

I frowned. “For what, Acadian? Leaving four dead bandits in my wake?”

“You had no choice regarding the first three,” he replied. “The fourth had to die as well – for exactly the reasons you explained to him. I recall a time when, rather than granting him a merciful death, you would have gut shot him, then taunted him as he slowly died in agony. I believe you have learned the difference between vengeful retribution and righteous justice.”

I uncomfortably recalled doing exactly what the paladin described to a highwayman who had swung his axe at my precious mare over a year ago. “I. . . I hadn’t really thought about it, I suppose, but perhaps you’re right. I knew all four of those bandits had to die so others would not suffer from their cruelty. . . but torturing them would have made me . . . like them.”

After a few moments, I added, “I. . . perhaps I should have tied his hands and escorted him to the guards in Bravil?”

“To what purpose?” Acadian answered my question with his own. “To encounter a highwayman robbing a hapless traveler along the way and risk your prisoner escaping while you intervened? Nay, Buffy, you were dubbed a knight by one of the Empire’s ruling nobles. You have the necessary authority to do what any Legion rider on patrol would do – firmly and fairly deliver justice, then continue your mission.”

“I concede there is logic and wisdom in your words, Acadian. I guess I’m still coming to terms with both the responsibility and authority that being a knight entails.”

"As I said, my elf, I’m proud of you.”

Changing the subject, I stated, “Closing that gate delayed us. We’ll stop at Pell’s Gate for the night, then continue before first light on to the Arcane University.

Posted by: Lopov Dec 25 2019, 07:49 PM

On the first story...I'm thankful for a little summary of important events from Buffy's past in the beginning. I'm also happy to see that I remember most of the things correctly, and I wondered, if you'll mention Mazoga the Orc as well, which is exactly what you did, later on.

Like others, I must compliment the idea behind banners, I actually needed to read it twice just to check if I read it right.

A clever way to dispose of sentries outside of the gate, let the Daedroth do most of the work.

Last, but not the least - I'm glad that 90% of the story is dedicated to Buffy's descriptions / vision of Cyrodiil, her memories and the battle outside of the Gate, instead of events in the plane of Oblivion.

Now to the second story...

thanks for the screenie, now it's even easier to picture the adventuring trio.

Ah, the magical bag of holding, a must-have for any adventurer that travels without a backpack.

The downside of the banner outside the Gate might be that bandits then wait for adventurers outside and try to steal stuff. Then again, attacking someone that had just single-handedly closed the gate, isn't such a good idea. I'm glad that Buffy taught them a lesson in manners, and made Cyrodiil a safer place, even if for just one bit.

Posted by: haute ecole rider Dec 25 2019, 10:20 PM

What a delightful Christmas gift! A new installment of Buffy and the Long Eared Gang's tails tale!

QUOTE
“You knew that woman was a brigand before I did. Anyone who thinks horses are dumb is full of imp chips.”
Julian (and Blanco) would heartily agree!

A nit:
QUOTE
As I said, my elf, I’m proud of you.”
This seems to be missing an opening quote. . .

QUOTE
"As one who has had to dispense Legion justice, Julian approves: “My name is Dame Buffy. I judge you guilty of robbery, as well as attempted rape, murder and horse thievery. The penalty for such crimes in Cyrodiil is death. I take no pleasure in delivering this sentence but you cannot be allowed the opportunity to ever again attempt such acts against other travelers who may be less able to defend themselves. Unlike the demeaning humiliation you and your associates planned to inflict before killing me, I will grant you a mercifully quick death. Have you any last words? Or would you like a moment to make peace with your gods?”
Though she said she would not have worded it quite the same way . . . blink.gif biggrin.gif

Can you tell I loved this little bit?

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Dec 26 2019, 02:11 AM


I don't think there is anything more pleasing than to see bandits and criminals, especially the lecherous kind, get what's coming for them. Both Superian and Kitsune make a fine team. Buffy's brave mare was able to sense something was off from the beginning, and Kitsune provided a much needed(and hilarious) distraction from the bandits. Buffy's skill is noted here. The odds were against her. She was outnumbered but certainly not outmatched.

More than one? Have them go at each other.

"I knew all four of those bandits had to die so others would not suffer from their cruelty. . . but torturing them would have made me . . . like them."
I really enjoyed reading this. There is a difference between killing and enjoying it for pleasure, and killing because its something that needed to be done. Buffy certainly has grown! As a knight, morals and good judgment is a must, and with Acadian by her side, I know Buffy's is indeed in good company.

Posted by: SubRosa Dec 26 2019, 04:37 PM

I wish I could telepathically recall any object in my merely ordinary-sized purse to my fingers...

I like your description of releasing Superian, rather than summoning her.

A very clever trick by Kitsune, pretending to be Buffy! This part needs Yakety Sax playing in the background.

Imp chips! Not just for parties anymore.

The murderous thugs get the karma they justly deserve. Buffy shows a measure of empathy and self-control with her doubts over whether she should have killed the last one, or tried taking him back to Bravil alive. Doubts which her foes were incapable of. In the end one cannot fault her for killing him. If Batman would have done the same to the Joker, thousands more people would be alive because of it.

Posted by: Renee Dec 26 2019, 09:04 PM

Okay I see. Oblivion, then. Uh oh, there's brigands ganging up on the glass-cannon elf. indifferent.gif Don't these fools know who they're dealing with? Apparently not. They never do, right?

But she can cast that fancy Invisibility spell, right? And then all that's left to fight is a clannfear? See, I know my Buffy, from reading the old forums.

Ah I was close! I'm not sure what a kitsune is, but yeah, these guys are about to have their asses handed to them.

So what magical effect did that Sigil Stone contain this time? Guess we'll find out.


Posted by: BretonBlood Dec 27 2019, 11:26 PM

Oh I love that picture of Buffy from ESO.

Mannnnn that was a nifty little tricky by Buffy, definitely smart.

And wow... I like the character development here, having Acadian bring up the difference in how much Buffy has grown was nice. I was sitting here hoping she didn't give the bandit a merciful death as he didn't deserve it. Just goes to show how much better a person she is!

Posted by: Acadian Jan 1 2020, 01:42 PM

Lopov- Thanks for catching up and your kind words. I agree that quickly summarizing how Buffy closed that gate worked well to keep things focused. She will enter and close one more gate in this book and will go into greater detail for that one. Thanks also for noting that the same valuable sigil stones that draw brave adventurers to close Oblivion Gates also attract cowardly bandits to steal them.

Rider- Thanks for catching that nit so I could quickly fix it. I’m glad you approved of Buffy’s formal little speech to that final bandit. As she admits, she is still learning the responsibility and authority of her knighthood. Thank you!

DE- Buffy is fortunate indeed to have the help of Superian, Kitsune and Acadian. It is a bit of a mystery how so many spirits can fit into such a small elf. . . except that she comes from a tribe called the Spirit Catchers. Thank you for noting how Buffy is evolving from embracing vengeance to exacting righteous justice when it is required.

SubRosa- I agree that it works well for Buffy to play up the ‘Spirit Catcher’ aspects of both Superian and Kitsune (and even Acadian). Telepathically retrieving items from your purse would be handy indeed! Imp chips – I think that is a term I likely borrowed from you. In our view of Tamriel, the Empire ascribes to quite a ‘Judge Dreddian’ streamlined justice system - giving full field judiciary powers to city guards, Legion Riders and knights. Acadian’s counsel to Buffy that she acted properly was helpful I think. And you are astute to point out that it is Buffy’s self-doubts that attest to her humanity. Thank you!

Renee- Buffy would be lost (and dead) without her magicks, that is for sure! Kitsune is the name of Buffy’s vixen familiar. Kitsune is Japanese for fox – an animal that is well-woven into Japanese mystical folklore. A tribe-sister she met in Valenwood during Book 2 taught Buffy the ‘Find Familiar’ spell and that is how she acquired the magical little fox. Thank you!

BretonBlood- One of our objectives here was indeed to show how Buffy’s approach to dealing with baddies has evolved. I suspect that both her knighthood and the long term effects of carrying the spirit of an old paladin within her are responsible. Regardless of the reason, we’ll see that the direction her growth is taking will prove to be necessary for the path she will choose to walk during this book. Thank you!

*

Previously- Soon after Buffy emerged from closing an Oblivion Gate, she was set upon by bandits seeking to steal the valuable sigil stone she held. When it became clear they intended to violate and kill her as well, she managed to successfully defend herself. With her trip delayed, Buffy decided to layover at Pell’s Gate for the night before continuing on to her destination – the Arcane University.

* * *


Episode 3


A pair of imps grew from the morning mist that hung heavily across the canyon floor. On leathery wings, they hovered to evaluate Superian and I. After a brief assessment, the small winged guardians unconcernedly continued their patrol to keep horses in and predators out of the Valley of Horses.

Dew-covered verdant grass subdued the sound of rapidly approaching hoof beats until no less than five of the valley’s majestic residents raced past us in the opposite direction, manes and tails flying freely. I turned in the saddle to watch in awe as they sped into the mist behind us. Leaning forward to pat the neck of my precious mare, I whispered, “Welcome home, girl.” After a moment, I remarked, “Acadian, you’ve been quiet this morning.”

The old paladin replied, “I’m sure you’re pleased to be back in the Valley of Horses. It’s been too long.”

I nodded soberly. “It has indeed.” After losing my mate - Captain Savlian Matius - during the battle to free Kvatch from Daedra, it was just too painful for me to remain in Cyrodiil. I traveled south to visit the Tall Trees of my ancestral homeland. Over two months ago we had returned from Valenwood. After briefly stopping in Kvatch to visit the grave of Savlian and pay my respects to Countess Odalys Goldwine, we traveled directly to Bravil. Our last trip to the Arcane University was to request guild assistance for Savlian’s forces in Kvatch, well before our fateful battle there.

I smiled as I looked down at Kitsune. The small vixen shared nearly the same palomino coloring as my mare. She was curled up in front of me, chin resting on the pommel of Superian’s saddle, long ears relaxed. “The University can be a bustling place.” I chuckled then added, “Take care you don’t get lost under the robes of some mage.” She lifted her head, yawned, then crawled into the magic satchel at my waist. “Enjoy your nap,” I said. That she was primarily nocturnal and had superb night vision made her a marvelous night sentry for Superian and I while camping.

Soon, the stone bridge connecting The Imperial City and Arcane University loomed ahead and high above us. Beneath it, the wooden buildings of the University’s stable came into view.

I drew my mare to a stop in front of Equestria’s sign and the curious gaze of its stablemaster.

The Bosmer tapped the contents of his pipe out onto the ground. Grinding out the smoldering ash under a manure-stained boot, he slipped the device for smoking tobacco into a pocket. “Tis been a long time, lass.” He eyed my mare warily. I realized why.

“You’ve not seen Superian since we visited Valenwood,” I stated. “She’s . . . changed.”

“Aye, I’ll say.” He walked slowly around the mare. “She’s put on a couple hands o’ height an’ nearly fifty stone o’ lean weight I’d say. Not ta mention ‘er new palomino coat. Still the same white mane, forehead splash an’ tail, I see.” He smiled as he looked down. “By Zenithar’s anvil, ye’ve got some hooves on ye Superian - like dinner plates that even all that white featherin’ canna' hide.” The mare swung her head down and nudged the old stablemaster, whose experienced hands rubbed her long nose.

“She clearly remembers you, Thernd.”

“And a fine lookin’ heavy warhorse she be now. Any other less visible changes?”

“I believe that her increased size, age and experience have settled her some,” I replied. “She’s lost none of her explosive acceleration and speed, but I don’t think she can maintain that speed as long as she could when she was lighter. Oh, and there is something else you need to know. Superian can now transition into spirit form and take refuge inside me when needed. To the unknowing, it appears that I summon and unsummon her. Indeed, I sometimes refer to it that way to avoid more complex explanations. One price we paid though is that we cannot tolerate great distance between us. If we are too far apart I can sense her fidgeting, getting unruly and eventually panicking. If that happens, I have to get to her quickly or recall her to me.” I looked up, judging the distance to the walled arcane complex above. “She should be fine here in the valley while I’m at the University.”

Thernd let out a low whistle. “As stablemaster ta mages since afore ye were born, these old eyes ha’ seen a lot, but. . . should I ask how all this came about?”

I smiled and shook my head as I patted Superian’s neck. “It was. . . necessary to survive in Valenwood.” With a wink I added, “Besides, a girl’s entitled to a few secrets, right?”

“Ach! Shoulda' known better than to ask one o’ ye mages about yer magicks.” The sparkle in his eyes belied the disapproval in his words. Grizzled hands then reached up to circle my waist before lifting me from the saddle and placing me on the ground.

I nodded my thanks and changed the subject. “The valley’s as enchanting as ever. Where’s that wolfish helper of yours?”

He gestured toward a sturdy rail fence to our east. “Bandit be down herdin’ the stallions ta water, but I wager he’ll be up 'ere touchin’ noses wi’ yer mare soon enough.”

We had entered the valley from the west and ridden through the portion where mares, colts, fillies and geldings lived. Stallions were relegated to the smaller eastern portion of the valley. I was pleased to hear that the large gray dog I had brought Thernd from R'asava Camp still earned his keep at Equestria. “I know she’ll remember him.”

How long’ll Superian be stayin’ wi’ ol’ Thernd?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “I’ve been summoned here by Boderi Farano.”

“Off wi’ ye then! Boderi’s not one ta be kept waitin'.”

”I should unsummon Superian’s tack and groom her before –“

“Nay, lass. Leave ‘er under tack. I want ta clean, condition and inspect it fer any needed repairs. I know ye can conjure and unconjure it but it still needs care now an’ again. An' don’t be worryin’ ‘bout yer mare none. Me two stable lads’ll get ‘er stripped down, cleaned up an’ turned out ta’ run wi’ ‘er friends.” He took the reins and dismissed me with his free hand. “Shoo!”

I blew a kiss to my mare, obediently turned and started up the steep granite steps toward the Arcane University’s main gate.

Posted by: ghastley Jan 1 2020, 04:21 PM

You sneaked a few episodes by me while I was in England, but I can catch up.

I like the way you took the "not only the Champion can close gates" idea you'd established in th first book, and stampeded with it. It's gone from Buffy being special enough to help, to "anyone can do it". Especially the idea that the local wildlife will go after the daedra, too. In-game, the creature faction is a bit too all-inclusive.

And Thernd being relatively un-surprised by Superian's evolution is a nice touch. "A wizard did it". tongue.gif


Posted by: SubRosa Jan 1 2020, 05:20 PM

Ah, back to Jean Auel's valley in the shadow of the Arcane U.

Thernd has quite the eye for horses, to recognize Supes after all that has changed. Again, you give us a subtle, and natural way of showing that to us.

Posted by: Lopov Jan 2 2020, 08:24 PM

An episode dedicated mostly to Superian - nice! Although Thernd speaks in some dialect, you did a good job with his words, even I, a non-English native speaker, could understand him.

I'm sure Superian is in good hands, while Buffy will be busy at the University.

Posted by: BretonBlood Jan 3 2020, 05:40 AM

As ghastley stated I really enjoyed Thernd's feelings towards Superian. He was a bit suspicious and curious of Superian's changes and what not, but he has seen enough mages and their magic that he knew that likely whatever has happened to the noble steed was magical in nature so he just shrugs it off. A really nice touch.

It's nice seeing these interactions with "lesser" characters, it really makes the world feel more fleshed out and is a great addition. Great chapter! Can't wait to see what business Buffy has in the University!

Posted by: Renee Jan 3 2020, 05:21 PM

I like the affect and accent in the stablehand's voice.

QUOTE
Oh, and there is something else you need to know. Superian can now transition into spirit form and take refuge inside me when needed.


Buffy says this casually. biggrin.gif As though she' talking about a new twist in Superian's diet, or something. 'Oh by the way, Superian has eschewed oats as of late.' Ah, what a life one must have in the fantasy world of Tamriel.

Great to see she's going into the Arcane University. I know she's got lots of friends in there, so that'll be fun to read.


Posted by: Grits Jan 3 2020, 07:21 PM

From Episode 2:

The mage turned back toward us, “You imbeciles! That’s a summon - ignore it. I’ll cast a detect life spell, locate the elf, then dispel her invisibility.”

Yikes! The mouthy mage volunteered to die first! This bandit encounter made a great demonstration of Buffy’s team in action. The aftermath showed us how Dame Buffy discharges her responsibility. I am so happy to ride along with Buffy in Cyrodiil again!


This Week:

Yay, Equestria! Neat to learn that though Superian’s tack can be summoned, it’s still subject to wear and needs care. I love seeing things in action before I start to wonder how they work.

Now, what could Boderi want from Buffy?

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Jan 6 2020, 02:27 AM

Good to see that those pesky imps became guardians of the region. Nice touch in telling us they're not all mischievous little things.

I too marveled at Superian's new looks. She certainly has improved and changed into a formidable war horse, new with great abilities that puts her far above the average steed or mare.

I see nothing has changed on the general view on mages and their magicks. laugh.gif

I'm excited for Buffy as she returns to the Arcane University. Its been quite awhile.

Posted by: Acadian Jan 8 2020, 01:31 PM

ghastley- It seemed reasonable to me that after Buffy and Savlian proved closing an Oblivion Gate was possible and subsequently disseminated the lessons and pitfalls, that subsequent adventurers would be more apt to attempt it. Particularly once the Legion began offering instruction, and the value of those sigil stones became well-known. Thank you!

SubRosa- Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series has certainly influenced Buffy’s story. Valley of Horses and the impact of totems on fertility, for example, have become a part of Buffy’s world. Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksennarion has notably inspired aspects of Buffy's path ahead. I’m glad you approved of Thernd’s interaction with, and observations of, Superian. Thank you!

Lopov- I’m pleased that Thernd’s dialect was understandable. Strong dialects can become tedious to read. A rule of thumb I use is the stronger the dialect, the smaller the character’s speaking role in the story. Since Thernd’s dialect is strong indeed, we won’t hear from him very often and only in small doses. I am in awe that you, and other non-native English speakers who grace our forum, not only follow along so adeptly but write beautifully as well. salute.gif Thank you!

BretonBlood- I very much appreciate your encouragement when we lavish some time on supporting characters to flesh them out. Buffy often best shows who she is when she deals with others. Thank you!

Renee- I’m glad you enjoyed Thernd’s rather unique ‘voice’. Decades of being stablemaster for the University has rendered the old Bosmer somewhat unflappable when it comes to the arcanery of his equestrian mages. Thank you!

Grits- As things worked out, Buffy’s first fight of this book was rather elegantly decisive and showcased what a mystic archer can do – when all goes her way. Some of her future encounters will be. . . less so. panic.gif I so hoped you would enjoy returning to the Valley of Horses. Thank you!

DE- The imps seemed like perfect little mystical guardians for the equally mystical Valley of Horses. I figure Superian’s transformation to a heavy warhorse reflects one impact of blending with the spirit of an ice dragon. That the mare has become a blonde is likely a result of so much time with Buffy. Thank you!

*

Previously- Buffy arrived at the Arcane University’s Valley of Horses. After answering the old stablemaster’s questions about the significant changes to Superian since her last visit over a year ago, Buffy got her mare settled in and headed up to the University itself.

* * *

~ Part 2 – The Arcane University ~

Episode 4

“By Azura, by Azura, by Azura!”

The author of the exuberant voice that greeted me as I entered the normally staid main lobby of the Arcane University was instantly recognizable. The Bosmer's head was flanked by long ears and topped with a steeple of bright yellow hair. As I closed the door behind me, he strode across the marble tiles between us and extended his hand. “At last, the vigil for Dame Buffy assigned by my lieges is over!”

“G-g-good m-m-m-morning, F-f-fanador.” After several seconds of having my hand vigorously shaken with no sign of abatement, I gently withdrew it. “Do you bring news of Sirs Mazoga and Agronak?”

“Indeed I do, Milady. They are at the Arena helping the Legion conduct Oblivion Gate training for soldiers, Fighters Guildsmen and any adventurers who sign up. They-“

“Excuse me, are you Fanador?” We both looked up at the Legion Battlemage who had interrupted.

Fanador quickly replied, “Why, indeed I am! Squire, scribe and errand elf to the mightiest pair of knights in all of Cyrodiil.” He then bowed in a most theatrical manner and added, “At your service.”

The steel-clad Nord slid back his blue hood. “I learned a lot about Daedra fighting and closing Oblivion Gates by reading your work. The Legion even uses it as a text.” He held out a book. “I never met a real writer before. Would you sign my copy?”

“Certainly, my large friend!” Fanador retrieved one of numerous quills peeking from his pocket, then dipped it into an ink pot on a nearby table as the Nord held open the book’s cover. “What’s your name?”

“Iver,” was the reply.

The renowned scribe jotted quickly while chatting with Iver for a few moments. As the Battlemage resumed his post, Fanador turned to me. “Sorry, Milady, but it’s nice to have an adoring fan now and then.”

“I know your book has saved many lives,” I said.

Fanador’s face grew uncharacteristically sober. “Dame Buffy, you and I both know that the first chapter of my book was inspired by your notes. It recounts the stealthy tactics employed by you and Captain Matius as the two of you closed the very first Oblivion Gate. The rest of the book showcases the relentlessly crushing approach employed by my heavily armored lord and lady. I’ve had several archers and foresters tell me that it is the tactics of chapter one that has enabled groups as small as two or three of them to survive inside an Oblivion Gate long enough to close it.”

I recalled quilling the details for Savlian’s Legion report and subsequently giving my notes to Mazoga. That was right before she, Agronak, Fanador and Baurus escorted Martin from Kvatch. “Well,” I replied, “proceeding stealthily to the sigil stone with as little Daedric contact as possible is the only way Savlian and I could manage. Either approach ensures the destruction of every Daedra inside a gate though.” My last words contained more venom than I had intended – a sharp reminder of what the Daedra had taken from me.

“I wish you would have let me credit you for the Kvatch chapter,” continued Fanador. “Referring to you as ‘Savlian Matius’ elven scout’ throughout does not do justice to the brave young knight who helped her mate close that first gate. Why, you and your captain had no idea if surviving the process was even possible!”

“He is the Hero of Kvatch, and I will not dim his memory by allowing anyone – me included – to share his title. I appreciate that you have respected my wishes in this matter.” Anxious to change the subject, I said, “Do you have word for me from your knights?”

“Yes, Milady. They seek help from your guild regarding the Oblivion Crisis and met with a mage here several days ago. After the meeting, my instructions were to wait here each day until your arrival.”

“What is the name of this mage?” I asked.

“She is a Dunmer called Boderi Farano and seems to wield some importance.”

“Indeed she does. Thank you, Squire. Your task is complete.”

“So it is, Milady. I shall make haste now to notify Sirs Agronak and Mazoga that you are here. I expect they will be anxious to call upon you later this very day.” The elf bowed, then departed through the same door I had used to enter the lobby.

After a brief stop at the Chironasium to see Delmar and trade the sigil stone in my magic satchel of holding for some gold, I made my way to the Mystic Archives. Tar-Meena greeted me warmly and verified that Boderi was upstairs in her office apartment.

Posted by: SubRosa Jan 8 2020, 05:20 PM

By Azura, I can guess who that fan is!

Fanador is a famous writer! And he has adoring fans! laugh.gif

And Buffy will not take credit for her own valor, for fear of it taking the luster from her lost one's name...

And on too Boderi. The plot starts to thicken...

Posted by: Grits Jan 9 2020, 03:19 AM

Fanador has an adoring fan!! I love it. His “steeple of bright yellow hair” made me smile. Ah, now I see that removing the sigil stone kills everything in the gate, which is how they know that Menien didn’t survive inside his cage. I had forgotten that detail, but now it’s clear to me. Yikes, getting stranded isn’t the worst that could happen in there!

It speaks well of Fanador that he respected Buffy’s wishes when he’d rather give her credit for her bravery. Buffy’s loyalty to Savlian’s memory tugs at the heart.

Posted by: BretonBlood Jan 9 2020, 08:44 PM

Oh my lanta! Hahahahaha I love the Adoring Fan reference, is that his actual name? I never knew his actual name.

Also Buffy and Salvian's tactics in the first Oblivion Gate are what sparked everyone else being able to close them? That's badass! I also thought it was cool that they took notes on the experience so that others could learn from that, which then stemmed into the Adoring Fan becoming a well known author by writing a novel on the whole thing!

Great chapter!

Posted by: ghastley Jan 9 2020, 08:50 PM

And here I was assuming that it was Captain Burd of Bruma who'd passed it all on. It certainly wouldn't have been Farwil, or nobody would ever have come out alive! On the other hand Bremman could have written a book on how not to do it. biggrin.gif

Note that Clark's method would be highly dependent on meeting one of the very rare female Dremora archers.

Posted by: Lopov Jan 10 2020, 12:27 PM

How clever to name him Fanadoring.

You portrayed him in a much more interesting way than he is in the vanilla game, and you also expanded his personality.

QUOTE
After several seconds of having my hand vigorously shaken with no sign of abatement, I gently withdrew it


laugh.gif Poor Buffy was stuttering as he was shaking her hand!

I wonder what Boderi has in plan for Buffy.

Posted by: Renee Jan 10 2020, 04:54 PM

QUOTE(SubRosa @ Jan 8 2020, 11:20 AM) *

By Azura, I can guess who that fan is!

Okay, so it is the Adoring Fan. Glad to see that in Buffy's gameworld, at least this guy hasn't been sent to his demise at Dive Rock, as in the gameworlds of so many others! I wonder if he'll try to give Dame Buffy a back rub...

So as Fanador speaks, I hear his voice as Craig Sechler's. I don't hear Buffy's voice as Linda Canyon's though. Buffy is closer to being soprano, whereas typical female Bosmers are altos, I think.

It always cracks me up, no matter how advanced their magic is, they still have to dip their quills into ink wells.

QUOTE
Why, you and your captain had no idea if surviving the process was even possible!”


This is a good point. I mean, from our perspective as gamers, we know there has to be a way to survive and complete the Main Quest somehow. Otherwise, why did we pay those sixty-three dollars (less for a used game)? But from their perspective, the process of extracting the Sigil Stone might be described in some book somewhere. From Buffy's and Savilian's perspective, all of that would therefore be somewhat theoretical.

Buffy goes to the Mystic Archives. bluewizardsmile.gif And the chapter ends. I figured she'd be in the AU for awhile. *smile*

Posted by: ghastley Jan 10 2020, 05:20 PM

QUOTE(Renee @ Jan 10 2020, 10:54 AM) *

This is a good point. I mean, from our perspective as gamers, we know there has to be a way to survive and complete the Main Quest somehow.

Even with that meta-assumption, there's still no suggestion that more than one character can emerge. The only quest in the game where more than one comes out is the Farwil one, and a lot of times that doesn't tell you anything, as he doesn't.

In Clark's interview with Prizna, she says that the Champion held on to her, just in case that sigil stone was the key to getting out. However, Farwil and Bremman can come out with the player, just by being alive. I suspect Acadian and I are both operating on the logic that if you went in and stayed alive, you pop back out, even if the group is separated. So Menion must be dead if he didn't. Prizna had the extra concern that she "belonged" in the deadlands, which is why the Champ let her take the stone in my story.

Posted by: Renee Jan 10 2020, 08:58 PM

QUOTE(ghastley @ Jan 10 2020, 11:20 AM) *

Even with that meta-assumption, there's still no suggestion that more than one character can emerge.


True.

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Jan 13 2020, 12:51 AM

Hershey-kiss hair! By Azura, I miss that guy!

I can't stress how funny it is that Fanador has fans, and with good reason. I'd imagine his work indeed came in handy during this crisis. Very fitting that Buffy and Matius' efforts were legendary, and even immortalized, you can say. They've helped save many lives, and will continue to do so as time goes on! Buffy is undoubtedly ready to end this conflict and kick more Daedric ass once and for all.

Great chapter! I'm curious to meet this Boderi Farano.

Posted by: Acadian Jan 15 2020, 01:45 PM

SubRosa- I knew you would remember Fanador from Book 1! Buffy is indeed very protective of Savlian’s memory. Thank you!

Grits- I couldn’t resist giving Fanador his own adoring fan and bringing the play on words full circle. Despite his . . . vigorous personality, Fanador does indeed have a good heart. Thank you!

BretonBlood- TES IV never revealed the Adoring Fan’s actual name, so we did a play on words to name him back in Book 1. Fanador attached himself to the Grand Champion of the Arena (Agronak gro-Malag). When Agronak (thanks to Buffy's matchmaking efforts in Book 1) went to Leyawiin and joined Sir Mazoga as a knight, Fanador went with him and became squire for the couple. Fanador’s book describes both the stealthy approach to closing Oblivion Gates pioneered by Buffy and Savlian, as well as the ‘smash anything in your path’ approach subsequently developed by Mazoga and Agronak. The book did indeed help enable many more brave souls to successfully close gates. Thank you!

ghastley- Clark would have indeed used a Dremora archer to help! Savlian had to make do with a scrawny wood elf. wink.gif Thank you!

Lopov- Yes, Fanador suffers from an overabundance of enthusiasm. tongue.gif The meetings that Buffy has with Boderi in the next few episodes will reveal the main themes of the entire book. Thank you!

Renee- In Buffy’s world, anyone not in physical contact with whoever pulls the sigil stone will not escape from the Oblivion Gate as it closes. That is a big part of why, in our stories, gate closers plant an ‘enter at your own risk’ banner outside a gate before they go in. Buffy’s voice (both speaking and singing) suits her I think. Though it is not Buffy of course, here is a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXw8RCkUUTs she used in TES IV and V. If you don't want to watch the full clip, the last five seconds will provide a good example of her voice. A talented bard, her singing voice is well-represented by both Enya and Malukah. Thank you!

DE- I just couldn’t resist giving Fanador an adoring fan and I’m glad you enjoyed a bit of humor from it. Boderi Farano is a staff instructor at the Arcane University in TES IV. Her role in the game is not significant but in Book 1, we placed her in charge of battlemage training and she was Buffy’s mentor and primary instructor. She will continue to play a large role in Buffy’s story. Thank you!

*

Previously- When Buffy entered the University’s lobby, she was met by the awaiting and animated Fanador - squire to Sirs Mazoga and Agronak. She learned that the orcish pair of knights seek help with the Oblivion Crisis, and it was likely their recent meeting with Boderi Farano that prompted Buffy’s summons to the University. After a brief stop at the Chironasium, Buffy arrived at the Mystic Archives where she learned Boderi was upstairs in her office apartment.

* * *


Episode 5


“Welcome, Journeyman. I’ve been expecting you.” Boderi Farano ushered me into her apartment’s front room that served as both parlor and office. “I trust your trip from Bravil was uneventful?”

I shook my head. “Superian and I left as soon as we got word you wanted to see me. We were waylaid closing an Oblivion Gate though and only just arrived within the hour.”

“That is the second gate you have closed now,” she stated.

I nodded. “I couldn’t leave it open; its location posed too much of a risk to travelers, inns and small settlements along the Green Road south of Pell’s Gate.”

“I would expect nothing less from you, Buffy.” Changing the subject, she asked, “Does the squire of Sirs Agronak and Mazoga know you are here?”

“Yes, Boderi. He just ran into the city to notify them.”

“Good. I know they are anxious to meet with you.”

“As am I,” I replied. “I understand they’re asking for our help?”

“And they shall have it.” The elegant Dunmer stepped over to a ceramic kettle and held a glowing finger against it. “I will let your friends explain in detail when they arrive. Tea?”

“That would be wonderful.” I unshouldered my bow, removed its quiver and shoved both into the small magic satchel at my waist.

Boderi watched me with a lifted eyebrow as she heated the kettle. “I see you have made some modifications to your old bag of holding. But tell me, Buffy, cannot you summon and unsummon the bow we crafted and enchanted for you?”

“Not anymore,” I replied. “After your courier dove delivered the weapon to me in Valenwood via magic summoning scroll, I quickly fell in love with it. Thanks to the foresight of you and Daenlin, that bow kept me alive during my travels.” I dug around in Boderi’s familiar china hutch for cups as I continued, “After returning to Bravil, I learned that when Master Daenlin crafted it, he infused some of me into its staff via strands of my hair that he had removed from a brush in my home. Kud-Ei informed me that Delmar similarly retrieved some of my essence from the University’s arcane flame and used it when he enchanted the bow per your specifications at the Chironasium.”

Once we were seated and a steaming cup was cradled between my hands, Boderi said, “So the summoning enchantment has malfunctioned? I’m sure that Delmar can – “

“No,” I gently interrupted with a smile. “Precisely because the bow contains some of my spirit it has evolved with my needs. I have surrendered the ability to summon and unsummon the weapon. I’ve also forsaken trying to use it while mounted.”

In response to the lingering confusion on Boderi’s face, I continued, “The bow was sustained by a constant drain on my magicka that prevented me from casting other spells while it was summoned. Though better than a ‘cast and forget’ timed summoning - with its inherent risk of dispelling at inopportune times - using it became problematic as a mystic archer. The bow responded by simply becoming a persistent rather than summoned weapon. In return, I’ve regained the ability to smoothly integrate casting and shooting. One consequence is that the ends of its long staff can no longer pass ethereally through Superian’s neck or haunches as required to support its effective use while mounted. Since its quiver no longer has the opportunity to replenish while unsummoned, it’s evolved to replace missing arrows at the rate of one every few seconds whenever below its full capacity of twenty five.”

I smiled. “The true magic of the bow, of course, remains that it actively assists this weak elf achieve the heavy draw that is largely responsible for its impressive power. Daenlin and Delmar both knew that such responsive magic would only be possible if they crafted part of me into the bow.”

“That the weapon can so readily adapt to your needs is a wonderful bonus we had not anticipated,” Boderi replied with a thoughtful nod. After a bit more small talk, she gently asked, “Tell me, butterfly, how are you faring after the loss of your Captain Matius?”

I should have expected the question. Boderi not only wielded considerable authority within the guild, she was also a caring friend and mentor, whose sage counsel had never been limited to mystic archery. I blinked, then gazed into the fire that gently crackled within her stone hearth. “Much of what has sustained me has been hatred for Daedra – perhaps not the healthiest attitude, but it has worked. I am. . . fine.” My sideward glance toward Boderi revealed a skeptically lifted dark eyebrow. “Well, s-sort of.”

“Out with it, young lady,” she gently commanded. “I’m informed that your situation required Guildmagister Kud-Ei’s intervention.”

Blinking to hold back tears didn’t completely work. I summoned a handkerchief to dab my eyes. “I had been back from Valenwood for several weeks. . . and struggling. One morning Master Daenlin dragged me from my house after too much wine had kept me from making a dawn hunting date with him. I kicked and screamed how much I hated him as he carried me over his shoulder right through town and into the guildhall. Once there, things didn’t get any better. Kud-Ei agreed with him and told me in no uncertain terms that I would bunk upstairs with Ardaline until I began eating enough, stopped the wine and started taking care of myself.” I lowered my face into the linen square and quietly cried.

After a few moments, my tears slowed and I felt Boderi’s hand on my shoulder. “Go on, Buffy.”

“For almost two weeks, either Daenlin or Ardaline was constantly with me to ensure I followed Kud-Ei’s guidance. Well, except during my daily time with Superian; she was the only part of my life that I had not let fall apart.” I wiped my face and looked up at Boderi. “But I got better. Soon enough, I was practicing and refining my spells at the guild, and hunting with Daenlin. My house was gone – Daenlin made me sell it, but I grew to love living with my guildmates. I started to put weight back on and my hair began to shine again. In time, I was confidently hunting alone and exploring ruins around Bravil.”

“And what did you learn of yourself?” asked the Dunmer as I paused for a sip of tea.

“That I don’t hate Daenlin, Kud-Ei or Ardaline. I-I love them for what they did and I’ve told them so. I’m sure I’ll continue to struggle with Savlian’s memory but I think I’ve moved beyond the allure of wanting to join him in death – and the self-destructive behavior that such thoughts can bring.” I allowed the bound handkerchief to dispel in a soft lavender cloud. “I still need to frequently remind myself that Savlian’s dying words included his wish that I live my long elven life.”

Blue-green fingers gracefully lifted my chin and Boderi studied my face. “I’ve no doubt that time will gradually soften your pain and enrich the memories of your time together.” After a moment she added, “And now you’ve closed another Oblivion Gate – with no assistance. It is good to see that the dragon has rejoined the butterfly.”

I thought of Acadian. “It never left me. Not for a moment. It just took a long time for me to understand.” Noticing Boderi’s cup was nearly empty, I set mine on a nearby table and stood. “More tea?”

Before Boderi could answer, the sound of steel against wood penetrated the door to her office apartment.

“Enter,” she replied.

Posted by: Renee Jan 15 2020, 04:01 PM

Oh nice! I think I use that same voices mod for RG3's game, although I chose the "sassy" voice (whatever it's called) which is as close to Xena as we can get. I hear Buffy's voice even higher than the gal in that YouTube video. Yes, Enya makes a good example. Enya, but with a bit more "attitude" basically.

I like that she's closed a gate which was too close to civilization. My Grey Wizard CoC basically did the same thing. bluewizardsmile.gif He'd ignore gates which were too far off beaten paths, and concentrate on those which seemed as though they posed real threats to society.

Why did she sell her house?

This chapter made me want to brew some tea.


Posted by: SubRosa Jan 15 2020, 04:21 PM

Buffy's evolving bow was both fascinating, and a really nice way of showing the reality of having to adapt to meet changing needs.

It sounds like Buffy had quite the difficult time of it in Bravil, before the intervention on her behalf. I am trying to remember, was that before she went to Valenwood?

Posted by: ghastley Jan 15 2020, 05:56 PM

Buffy's in the bow, which has changed. Phantom's in Superian, who has changed, Acadian's in Buffy. The bow's in the bag, which has changed.

So is the pestle in the vessel, or the chalice from the palace? And Who's on first? blink.gif


Posted by: haute ecole rider Jan 16 2020, 01:28 AM

And What's on second? *snickers*

And I'm caught up! Nice couple of chapters, bringing back plenty of memories of TES IV.

I'm with Sage Rose, when did that intervention happen? And it sounds just like our beloved Bravilians to do the dirty deed. Julian understands what Buffy is feeling for she did have a taste of that following her Siege of Bruma.

The explanation with the bow left me a bit confused, but it's mainly because I have forgotten that process which occurred in Book 2, am I right? I will have to go back and review it - if I find the time! wink.gif

I look forward to Buffy's reunion with Sir Mazoga and her beloved Prince. Personally I'm glad he survives to do great deeds in Buffy's world, for the end of the Arena quest line in TES IV left me feeling rather cold.

SGM!

Posted by: Lopov Jan 19 2020, 07:57 PM

An entire episode dedicated to a conversation between Buffy and Boderi - I like it!

It might be uncomfortable talking about the loved ones that passed away, especially if it happened too early, but on the other hand it's 'healthy' to talk about them and remember not just the end, but especially joyful memories from before. It's taking a while, but I think that Buffy is on a good way to move on. Well, she already moved on in a way, but there's still a long way ahead. Maybe she'll even love again.

Posted by: Grits Jan 22 2020, 01:04 AM

The thing that made me smile during Buffy’s tale of the grim time after Valenwood was her shiny hair marking a return to self-care and health. So Buffy and also so true to real life! I had been wondering what had happened in those few months she mentioned in the very first episode, but I knew that she would tell us in good time.

I love how Buffy’s bow evolves to meet her needs and has clearly defined limitations. The way she explained it to Boderi made perfect sense.

Now I need to brew some more tea!



Posted by: Acadian Jan 22 2020, 01:30 PM

Renee- The voice set that Buffy used in Ob/Sky was ‘Innocent’. Daenlin made Buffy sell her house. We should conclude that, like everything else in her life except Superian, Buffy was neglecting it and that both Daenlin and Kud-Ei felt she needed to live in the guild hall for her own safety. I suspect Daenln also realized historically just how little time Buffy spent at the house, given her almost constant traveling and was tired of being the property's 'caretaker'. Thank you!

SubRosa- I’m glad you enjoyed the evolution of Buffy’s bow – I was afraid it might have been too into the minutia. Thank you for mentioning that you weren’t sure from the context when Daenlin and Kud-Ei’s intervention took place. I added a sentence to clarify that it was indeed after Buffy’s return from Valenwood. It seems being back in Cyrodiil and its memories reopened her still fresh wounds. Thank you!

ghastley- Heh, I blame all those changes on Buffy progressing from game to game. embarrased.gif The trappings she used in Book 1 were pure Oblivion. Those trappings evolved quite a bit in Book 2 to reflect our play time in Skyrim at the time. Even though our setting remains 3rd Era Cyrodiil, Buffy’s trappings for the story have evolved to reflect a combination of Oblivion and ESO. Thank you!

Rider- I added a sentence to confirm that Daenlin and Kud-Ei’s intervention took place after Buffy’s return to Cyrodiil. Thanks for mentioning it so I could clarify the timing. Please blame the quirky details of Buffy’s bow evolution on our moving among games. Basically, Book 2 presented a bow that was compatible with Skyrim gameplay and Book 3 largely undoes that, evolving her bow into one that is more consistent with Oblivion and ESO. I appreciate your support for bringing Agronak (like Mazoga) into a much larger role than shown in game. Thank you!

Lopov- Boderi knows more of Buffy’s secrets than anyone (except Acadian) so she is an excellent character to help draw out some of Buffy’s lingering challenges in dealing with the loss of Savlian. Buffy’s grief won’t dominate the story but it will indeed surface now and again. Thank you!

Grits- I’m pleased how it rang true that when Buffy started taking care of herself the shine returned to her hair; the endorsement of another blonde is welcome indeed! tongue.gif With Buffy’s bow, I was hoping to convey quite a bit of information but within a casual 'shop talk' conversational tone between two mages. Like Buffy, I’m glad to know you enjoy your tea! Thank you!

*

Previously- Boderi Farano confirmed that Buffy had been summoned to the University to meet with Sirs Mazoga and Agronak to discuss her guild’s role in the Oblivion Crisis. While the ladies waited, they discussed ways in which Buffy’s bow had evolved over time, and how Buffy was managing her grief over the loss of Savlian Matius. The episode ended with a knock at the door of Boderi's office/apartment.

* * *


Episode 6


The door opened and there she was.

“Mazoga!” I sprinted halfway across Boderi’s parlor and closed the remaining distance with a leap. The mighty orc didn’t budge as I flew into the unyielding steel of her breast plate. Despite knocking the wind out of myself, in an instant my legs were tightly around her waist, both arms circled her massive neck and my face was buried in the green skin above her stiff leather collar. “I missed you so much,” I began babbling through happy tears as the orc folded her arms around me. “I’m so sorry I was too injured to go with you when you left Kvatch. And w-when I got better no one could tell me where you were!”

“I missed you too, Buff,” calmed Mazoga as her gauntleted hand stroked my hair. “I’m real glad to see your injuries all healed up good.”

I looked up to see her beautiful brown eyes glistening. I had not felt so safe since being held in the arms of Savlian Matius himself.

Boderi cleared her throat. “Please do come in.”

Neither Mazoga nor I made any effort to disengage as she carried me fully back into the room. It was only then that I noticed the even larger knight now filling the doorway. His helm was under one arm and he held Mazoga's in his hand. “Thank you for bringing her safely to me, Agronak,” I breathed.

“The joy I see between you makes the journey well worth it,” he replied as he stepped inside.

The Bosmeri Imperial Battlemage, who was dwarfed by the pair of knights he had been escorting, nodded to Boderi. “I’ll be right outside, Magister, waiting to take your guests back to the lobby when their business is concluded.”

“Not necessary, Fithragaer,” said Boderi. “When we are done, Buffy will show them out.” After the door closed, she looked at Agronak. “Welcome, knights.” Turning to Mazoga, she added with a dry smile, “If you can peel my small mage-knight from your breastplate, you’re most welcome to have a seat. Tea?”

I reluctantly unwrapped myself from Mazoga, then supplied cups all around as the orcs created a pile of helms, gauntlets and weaponry on the floor. The armor-plated duo then carefully seated themselves on a pair of parlor chairs, which groaned ominously under the weight.

Boderi filled our cups then joined us.

“We need your help, Buff,” stated Mazoga.

“I’m ready,” I answered without a clue as to the task. “When do we leave?”

Mazoga smiled sadly, shook her head and looked to her mate.

Agronak replied, “Mazoga and I are enemies of the Mythic Dawn and will not risk your safety by having you travel with us.”

“You were there for me at Kvatch when Savlian and I needed you,” I protested. "It was the two of you who slayed countless Daedra, then carried the broken bodies of Savlian and I from the final battle. And, Mazoga, it was you who never budged from my bedside at the chapel as I hovered between life and death for several days. I owe you both no less than that same measure of devotion.”

“And we’ll ask it of you, Buff,” Mazoga said gently, “but our quests require separate paths for now.”

Boderi finally spoke. “Buffy, let these knights explain their larger task and how our proposed role for you fits in.”

Agronak then carefully detailed Martin’s plan to retrieve the Amulet of Kings and claim his throne. “. . . were able to locate and destroy the Mythic Dawn’s shrine and underground lair.” He continued, “Their leader managed to escape with the Amulet of Kings before we could put him to the sword. Martin believes our quarry magically retreated to his own realm called Paradise. Our Emperor-to-be thinks he can open a portal to that realm, but requires four powerful items to do so. Mazoga and I have already recovered one of them from Sancre Tor and will gather another from Miscarcand as we travel west.” He glanced at his mate, then back to me. “We’re hoping you can provide the third of these items – a Daedric artifact.”

Boderi interjected, “Buffy, I informed Sirs Agronak and Mazoga that you have gathered and subsequently loaned several such relics to the Mystic Archives.”

Mazoga held up a massive open hand to delay my response. “Martin warns that it’ll be destroyed when he works his magic to open the portal.”

“Of course I can help,” I replied. “I’ll contribute Sheogorath’s staff to the cause and be quite pleased to know it will be destroyed in the process. I’ll also give each of you a ring. One is Meridia’s Ring of Khajiiti and the other is one I crafted long ago with a similar chameleon effect.” Looking at Agronak’s battered shield on the floor, I added, “And you will leave here with Peryite’s Spell Breaker as well.”

“That is most generous,” he replied. “When this crisis is over, we’ll return any surviving artifacts to your Mystic Archives.”

“I’m not done,” I said. Among the items the orcs had piled on the floor was a weapon I recognized. “I’m glad to see you still carry that soul trap dagger I gave you.” One hand slipped into the satchel at my waist and emerged holding Azura’s Star. “I want you to carry this also. It’s a reusable grand soul gem that has served me well.”

Boderi lifted an eyebrow. “Buffy, are you sure? That was gifted to you by Azura when you . . . well, you know.”

As I recalled that I had sent my journal to Boderi for her reading and safekeeping, I silently thanked the Dunmer for her discretion in not announcing that Azura had proclaimed me her Slayer. My friend and University mentor literally knew all my secrets up until I left Kvatch after the death of Savlian. Which reminded me - I wanted to give her the next volume, detailing my travels in Valenwood. I handed the Star to Mazoga as I addressed Boderi, “This was a reward from Lady Azura for freeing some of her followers from vampirism. Its value to me is great, but purely sentimental as my mystic bow does not require recharging. Until this crisis is over, it will better serve these knights than I.”

“Thanks, Buff. You’re a pal!” said Mazoga as she reverently held the Star. “We’ll be proud to borrow it, and it’ll get plenty of work. My claymore and magically returning chakram are both enchanted with shock damage. So’s Agronak’s arming sword. And, both our daggers strike with magic as well.”

“May the Star of Azura overflow with the dying magic of every Daedra you encounter,” I replied grimly. “Now, what is the fourth item Martin requires?”

Both orcs took a deep breath before Mazoga replied, “Buff, we need a sigil stone from a Great Oblivion Gate – the kind that eats cities.” My eyes opened wide. “Martin’s plan is to openly move from the Blades’ headquarters to the city of Bruma, believing his known presence there will trigger such a gate to open in an effort to destroy him. Several smaller gates apparently appear first, then the big one opens and spits out a giant siege engine to breach the city. As you can see, Bruma’s gonna need lots of reinforcing to defend itself until Agronak and I can grab that great sigil stone.”


Posted by: SubRosa Jan 22 2020, 05:52 PM

Yay 'Zoga is back!

“I’m ready,” I answered without a clue as to the task. “When do we leave?”
Now that is real friendship. No questions asked.

Buffy should star in the Daedric Pickers TV show, she has so many Daedric artifacts collecting dust in her attic! laugh.gif

Oh my, it is Siege Crawler time. I recently did this with January, so I recall it pretty well. If they need all hands on deck, I am sure that Detroit could spare a superhero or two to help out...

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Jan 23 2020, 12:58 AM

Along with Buffy, her arsenal and companions underwent a tremendous change! A nice exchange between Boderi and Buffy, and an interesting read about the prior limitations in the use of the summoned bow. Conjured weapons, depending on the nature of it, can have many limiting factors. Not unheard of some mages having their summoned weapons vanish when they need it the most. I'm sure Buffy won't have to worry about this.

Sir Mazoga has returned! It was great to see her again. It was both warming and sad to see Buffy feel safe, a feeling she hasn't since Savlian. Agronak and Mazoga make a might duo, and their aid to Buffy in her moments of need did not go unremembered.

Having those artifacts go to the Mystic Archives is a wise decision, as Daedric artifacts are useful but very, very dangerous. I too share Buffy's feelings on Sheogorath's staff being destroyed in the process. Buffy's strong feeling towards the Daedra can definitely fuel her in this perilous journey!

Posted by: Renee Jan 23 2020, 02:00 PM

OH, I get it now. She's still doing the Main Quest! All this time, I'd thought this was completed. And so with Savilian getting killed, she needed time to move past this, eh?

This is probably all mentioned before, so sorry if it has. I am slow sometimes.


QUOTE(Acadian @ Jan 22 2020, 07:30 AM) *

Daenlin made Buffy sell her house. We should conclude that, like everything else in her life except Superian, Buffy was neglecting it and that both Daenlin and Kud-Ei felt she needed to live in the guild hall for her own safety.


Right, but who is Daenlin to Buffy? In other words, why would Daelin have authority over whether she sells her house or not? I'm just trying to catch up to what other readers already know.

Posted by: Grits Jan 24 2020, 01:19 AM

“Thanks, Buff. You’re a pal!” said Mazoga as she reverently held the Star.

Sir Mazoga! I’m delighted to hear her unique voice again. What a warm reunion.

What struck me the most in this episode is the line that SubRosa quoted. Buffy’s instant trust in her friend says much about both of them. wub.gif

Posted by: Lopov Jan 27 2020, 01:18 PM

Nice to see your own portrayal of both Agronak and Mazoga. They play a very important role in Buffy's world and they're both quite "different" than in the vanilla game, but you pulled it off in a good way, and they're both very believable.

Buffy has a whole collection of Daedric artifacts to offer. This is one of occasions, where finding precious artifacts while adventuring comes in handy.

Posted by: ghastley Jan 27 2020, 04:44 PM

I'm still trying to parse what's being set up here. We have Buffy established as the Daedric Artifact collector. Oblivion gates are an "any adventurer/team" thing, and the Allies for Bruma quest is being foreshadowed. And ultimately, Mazoga, possibly in tandem with Agronak, will be inside the Great Gate while Buffy is outside.

Hmmmm....

Posted by: haute ecole rider Jan 27 2020, 10:10 PM

Thanks for adding that sentence in the previous segment - the timeline is now that much clearer.

And how wonderful to see Sir Mazoga and Sir Agronak again! Buffy's exuberant greeting of her beloved bestie made me smile. As did this:

QUOTE
The armor-plated duo then carefully seated themselves on a pair of parlor chairs, which groaned ominously under the weight.
Made me wonder if said seating happens to be magically reinforced? wink.gif

And this reminds me; Julian still has to go back to Leyawiin to check up on Sir Mazoga and the White Stallion Lodge, as well as ensure the survivors of the Bruma Great Gate get their just rewards. nono.gif wink.gif cool.gif

Posted by: ghastley Jan 28 2020, 09:05 PM

QUOTE(haute ecole rider @ Jan 27 2020, 04:10 PM) *

Julian still has to go back to Leyawiin to check up on Sir Mazoga and the White Stallion Lodge, ...

Until I found the incantation to mark Mazoga as essential, I was reluctant to do that. There are wisps around that she normally can't handle until she has a Daedric weapon. Is she essential in Julian's game?

Posted by: Acadian Jan 29 2020, 01:51 PM

SubRosa- Cities, guilds and even empires do not inspire loyalty from Buffy. What drives her to action is helping those she holds dear, and I was delighted to see you highlight that. I fondly remember Teresa’s role in the latter part of the Oblivion Crisis as she flew on raven wings above the battlefield – foreshadowing a follow on superhero by the name of Stormcrow?

DE- I’m glad you enjoyed the interaction between Buffy and Boderi as they talked shop about magic bows and bags of holding. Mazoga is always fun to write. While Buffy’s grief will not dominate the story, it is certainly there and we’ll continue to see it occasionally bubble to the surface.

Renee- Thanks for the question about Buffy and Daenlin (NPC who owns Archers Paradox in Bravil). Let me provide a brief review of the relationship between them that was developed mostly back in Book 1: Though conceived in the trees of Valenwood, Buffy was born in Bravil and her parents asked Daenlin to be Buffy’s godfather. When Buffy was three years old, her father never came back from a vampire hunt. At eight, Daenlin apprenticed Buffy as an archer. At twelve, Buffy’s mother died to illness so Daenlin became the closest thing she had to a parent. Though her skill with a bow eventually eclipsed that of her master, Buffy absolutely adores Daenlin and very much views him as her archery master and godfather. She implicitly trusts that anything (like the intervention and selling her house) that Daenlin does on her behalf is for her own good. Daenlin likewise adores his apprentice and proudly considers her to be the culmination of his life’s work as a master of the bow. Buffy’s history to date is long and involved, so I appreciate knowing whenever some review of past details is warranted.

Grits- The line you quoted is pure Mazoga for sure! tongue.gif Thank you for, like SubRosa, noting that when it comes to doing things for her friends, Buffy doesn’t count the cost.

Lopov- We have, with many NPCs, taken a spark of inspiration that Buffy sees and developed them quite differently than does the game. We do try to be consistent with each NPC that we take such a path with and I appreciate your endorsement of what we’ve done with Mazoga and Agronak. Early in her adventuring career, Buffy became greedy in her desire to obtain powerful Daedric artifacts. Sheogorath unintentionally cured her of that – she has never forgiven him nor herself for shattering the beliefs of a whole Khajiiti village at Border Watch. That’s why she’s pleased to offer up Sheo’s staff for destruction. From the Border Watch experience, however, she did gain the wisdom to forsake greed. As SubRosa and I are fond of saying, ‘Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.’ wink.gif

ghastley- You have the right of it, my friend. The next two episodes will shed much clarity on where the book is headed. Thank you!

Rider- It was indeed great fun to write the scene of Buffy nearly knocking herself out flying into the steel of Mazoga’s breastplate. I’m glad the groaning parlor chair also caught your attention, as I was trying to emphasize just how darn large these two orcs are. Good luck as Julian ventures back to the White Stallion Lodge to check on dear ‘Zoga. Buffy will get to briefly see it herself in a few episodes.

*

Previously- Sirs Mazoga and Agronak joined Boderi and Buffy. The orcs outlined Martin’s perilous plan to retrieve the Amulet of Kings and claim his throne. The plan calls for retrieving four powerful items, including a Daedric artifact from Buffy, and the sigil stone from a Great Oblivion Gate that Martin hopes to taunt Mehrunes Dagon into opening at Bruma. They began to discuss the need for reinforcements at Bruma.

* * *


Episode 7

After Sirs Mazoga and Agronak finished explaining Martin’s perilous plan to recover the Amulet of Kings, I said, “All the more reason for me to go with you. You both know my skill with bow, illusion and healing.”

“There will be a time for that,” replied Agronak, “but what we need now is your proven skill at negotiating and gathering forces.”

It was Boderi who spoke next. “Buffy, we’d like you to convey the Emperor-in-waiting’s request for reinforcements to Count Caro of Leyawiin and Count Terentius of Bravil. I selected you for this because of your established relationship with Martin’s champions here and your firsthand knowledge of what a daedric siege crawler can do if unleashed upon a city. Your familiarity with both counties and title of dame and will doubtless be of assistance as well. Will you accept this noble quest for your guild and the Empire?”

The words fell from my lips of their own accord, “No, but I’ll do it for you – all three of you.”

“Splendid!” Boderi smiled and reached over to squeeze my hand. “I’ve arranged one way passage to Leyawiin for you and your mare on a merchant ship that sails midday on the morrow.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “Passage for Superian won’t be necessary though. I can dismiss and recall her as required.”

One of Boderi’s eyebrows rose. “You are full of surprises since your return from Valenwood. Once your business in Leyawiin is complete, ride north to petition Bravil.”

“As a Knight of the White Stallion, I’m a member of Leyawiin’s court so I expect no difficulties obtaining an audience with Count Caro. And he’ll accept my words as truth. Count Terentius of Bravil, however, is . . . well, my few dealings with him have not been encouraging.”

“Count Terentius’ reputation is well known and I have anticipated your challenge,” said Boderi with a knowing frown. She produced a folded parchment and pressed it into my hand. The wax seal bore the imprint of my guild. “In this letter of introduction, Hannibal Traven designates you as his emissary regarding this matter. Few nobles are unwise enough to ignore the Arch Mage. Once complete in Bravil, please check with Guildmagister Kud-Ei. Either she or I should have further tasking for you by then.”

I nodded, feeling rather overwhelmed as I tucked the letter into my satchel.

“Magister,” said Agronak, “I have a message from our next Emperor that may help Dame Buffy in her negotiations.”

“Please share it,” replied the Dunmer.

The orc turned to me as he spoke. “Martin wants it known that he will remember those cities and guilds that help the Empire in its time of need – and those that do not.”

“That certainly provides some leverage,” I said. “It sounds like the simple priest we rescued at Kvatch has grown into the demands of his destiny. I take it the other counties are being solicited for aid as well?”

Agronak nodded. “The Elder Council will not openly acknowledge Martin until they see the Amulet of Kings around his neck; however, they have quietly advised the Empire’s ruling nobility that a likely heir is in exile. Commander Phillida has already committed half a cohort to Bruma. He insists on keeping the rest of his Imperial City Legion here to -“

“Co-what?” I interrupted.

“I asked the same thing, Buff,” said Mazoga. “Half of a cohort is three centuries – each manned with a hundred soldiers.”

My eyes opened wide. “Savlian’s army barely numbered a hundred when you stood with us to retake Kvatch.”

Mazoga continued, “It’ll take more than that, which is why we’re soliciting aid from the guilds and county nobles to augment the Legion’s soldiers. Remember, we’ll be dealing with several regular gates followed by a Great Gate – capable of destroying Bruma if we don’t stop it before it belches out a siege engine. Commander Phillida is right to hold much of the Legion here though. If we succeed in Bruma, he expects the forces of Mehrunes Dagon will shift all efforts to The Imperial City to prevent Martin’s coronation and lighting of the Dragonfires.” She turned to the other knight. “Tell her about the other counties, my mate.”

“As for Bruma itself,” said Agronak, “Countess Carvain has little choice but to deploy the entire garrison and militia there in defense of her city. The Talosian Monks of Weynon Priory near Chorrol are conveying Martin’s request to Countess Valga for soldiers and petitioning Vilena Donton for warriors from her various Fighters Guild chapters.”

“And you may be sure,” added Boderi, “that when the time comes, a contingent from the Mages Guild will be on hand to support the effort in Bruma.”

Agronak acknowledged Boderi’s reassurance with an appreciative nod before continuing, “A pair of Blades is en route to the court of Cheydinhal. Mazoga and I will head west to solicit aid from Skingrad, Kvatch and Anvil. Miscarcand, containing the other artifact we need, lies along our way.”

I looked up at Mazoga, “When do you have to depart?”

She winced. “We told Fanador to meet us just outside the University with our mounts and pack animal ready for travel within the hour.”

I heaved a sigh. “We’d better head to the Mystic Archives to get those artifacts then.”

The orcs and I left Boderi in her apartment.

Too soon, my friends and I stepped outside the University’s front gate where we were met by Fanador astride a placid paint. He was holding the reins of two spirited white warhorses as well as the lead of a heavily laden gray donkey whose name I recalled as Lunchbucket. The burlap-wrapped staff of Sheogorath was added to the donkey’s burden. The other Daedric artifacts I had mentioned were now carried by the knights to enhance their own survival.

Agronak engulfed one of my shoulders within a gauntleted hand. “Good luck, Buffy, and a word of caution.” My lifted eyebrow urged him to continue, “If the Mythic Dawn learns that your interest in the Oblivion Crisis extends beyond curiosity or trading in sigil stones, their cultists may act against you. Mazoga and I have already been forced to kill several. The only warning you’ll have before they attack is a battle cry proclaiming their allegiance to Lord Dagon as they summon both armor and weapon. They will likely be in possession of Mythic Dawn scrolls or books. Several Blades are working undercover to ferret out the identities of these sleeper agents and eliminate them.”

“Thank you for the warning, Agronak.”

Mazoga folded me into her arms and whispered, “I’ll miss you Buff. We’ll have much to catch up on when this is over.”

As she stepped back, I looked up and nodded. Blinking back tears, I said, “I hope to see you in Bruma, if not before. Be careful, my friends.”

Posted by: Renee Jan 29 2020, 02:59 PM

Awesome, thanks for providing that quick summary of Daelin's relationship. Sorry for my abrupt questions but I got stuck on that detail about her house. biggrin.gif I'll probably get stuck on other details in the future. "But why.... ?"

See, that's good. They'd be better off allowing her to join them since she does have some knowledge of how Daedric forces work. evillol.gif In fact she'll be able to provide some useful information, so yeah, that's smart.

I like that you're taking the Main Quest seriously by writing an in-depth story about it, and blending it into Buffy's tale. So many have complained about it (being cliche or generic or whatever) but I enjoyed it. I always wanted to write a Renee version of the Main Quest, but the moment has long passed.

Anyway, let's see what happens next as they prepare for ... whatever shall come. viking.gif


Posted by: SubRosa Jan 29 2020, 06:38 PM

Just as you said. Buffy will do it for Boderi and her friends.

I do not think anyone's dealings with Count Terentius have been encouraging...

Hopefully Hannibal in Buffy's world is not played by Anthony Hopkins...

So Phillida is keeping 300 years in the city for its defense. That should protect it for a long time! It looks like he is thinking several moves ahead.

Lunchbucket is an awesome name for a donkey. Much better than Number Seven.

Posted by: ghastley Feb 3 2020, 08:05 PM

Tell Buffy to look out for Prizna when she's near the Bravil gate. She may wants some help. biggrin.gif

I'm looking forward to some interesting negotiations with the Counts and Countesses. Especially ones she's had to deal with before. And I assume she might meet Jauffre again at the Great Gate party. That should be fun!

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Feb 5 2020, 12:55 AM

Who better than to provide the necessary aid to combat the Daedra than someone who's been within their Oblivion Gates and saw the destructive power of that terrible siege crawler? Phillida is making good progress, no doubt learning from the exploits of others of his station in battles prior.

Its great to hear the potential for allies here as the counties and guilds might lend a helping hand to combat the Daedric threat

Lunchbucket! The carrier of Sheogorath's staff!

A dangerous thing indeed to poke at a nest full of Mythic Dawn agents. Being the fanatical zealots they are, they'll stop at nothing to complete their task, and right now Buffy is the threat that can thwart their efforts. The Blades must act quickly in identifying those sleeper agents. Anyone can be Mythic Dawn.

Great chapter as the plans are being set by our daring heroes! Looking forward to see this tale unfold!

Again, I'm happy to see Buffy back at it!

Posted by: Grits Feb 5 2020, 02:13 AM

I love that recruiting allies for Bruma is a team effort. It will be great to see Dame Buffy return to Bravil and Leyawiin.

I’m glad that Agronak warned Buffy about Mythic Dawn sleeper agents. Yikes!

Posted by: Acadian Feb 5 2020, 01:27 PM

Renee- To put it in Renee terms, Mazoga and Agronak will fill the more visible/heroic ‘Xena’ role during the crisis that is normally performed by the player character in Oblivion. Buffy’s role in resolving the Oblivion Crisis will be one of ‘Gabriel’ support – even as she pursues an unrelated but life-changing path of her own.

SubRosa- I expect Buffy’s dealings with Count Caro in Leyawiin will be cordial, but not without some unexpected twists. You are right though to expect some confrontational sparks when Buffy tries to deal with His Pompousness in Bravil. I fondly remember Number Seven from Teresa’s fiction. happy.gif

ghastley- Buffy will be trying to get help from Leyawiin and Bravil while others are soliciting the other counties. She hopes Boderi will subsequently assign her to the Mages Guild contingent supporting Bruma in time to help at the Great Gate party.

DE- Thanks for pointing out some of the moving parts. Buffy’s role will be fairly minor and we only get to really see what she sees. Therefore, I’m trying to indirectly reveal some of what else is happening - the two orcs functioning as Martin’s champions and doing most of the Main Quest hero stuff, several emissaries besides Buffy soliciting aid from the counties that Buffy is not tasked to visit, undercover Blades trying to ferret out Mythic Dawn sleeper agents. . . .

Grits- I’m so pleased you agree that it makes sense to spread the ‘recruiting allies for Bruma’ effort around so Martin’s orcish pair of champions can concentrate on the heavy lifting of the Main Quest. I thought the task assigned Buffy would be most appropriate, given how diligent and successful she was at gathering forces for Savlian so they could ultimately recapture Kvatch back in Book 1.

*

Previously- As Mazoga, Agronak and Boderi discussed the need to reinforce Bruma against an anticipated Great Oblivion Gate, Buffy’s immediate task was revealed: Travel south by ship to request aid from Leyawiin, then ride north and solicit the same from Bravil. Mazoga and Agronak explained the provisions already in progress by others to seek help from the remaining counties across Cyrodiil. After presenting the orcs with the Daedric artifact that Martin will eventually require, Buffy said farewell to her fellow knights as they headed west.

* * *


Episode 8

The following morning found Boderi and I seated in her parlor sharing a breakfast of fresh strawberries, warm sausage rolls and hot bergamot tea. The second book of my journal, covering travels in Valenwood, now resided next to its predecessor in Boderi’s private bookcase. My eyes were drawn to a beautiful tapestry depicting Julianos that hung above her mantel. It had not been there the day prior.

“Buffy,” she said before I could ask about the tapestry, “I asked you here this morning not only wish you well on your expedition south but to discuss your knighthood as it relates to our guild.”

The topic took me by surprise. “I assure you there is no conflict with my loyalty to the guild. Count Caro of Leyawiin dubbed Mazoga and I Knights Errant of the White Stallion as an honor after the two of us delivered justice to the notorious leader of the Black Bow Bandits. As the title implies, I am a free knight. A pledge of fealty to Leyawiin would only be required were I to accept promotion to Knight Sister.”

The Dunmer smiled and gently shook her head. “I have never questioned your loyalty, but always been interested in your growth.”

I had long ago learned that when Boderi spoke cryptically, the lessons she eventually imparted were worth my temporary confusion. I simply tilted my head and looked at the other elf, waiting as the fire in her hearth crackled softly.

“Tell me, young knight, what do you know about the Order of the Lamp?”

The question was unexpected and I felt like I was right back under Boderi’s instruction as a student. I stared absently at the ceiling’s wooden support beams as images of pages from countless tomes contained in the Mystic Archives flashed before the eyes of my memory.

I blinked the images away, then met Boderi’s gaze and replied, “The Order of the Lamp was formed by Vanus Galerion during the Second Era. As the guild’s first Arch Mage, he recognized the potential of magic for both good and evil. He believed that only Divine power was strong enough to illuminate and ferret out misuse of the arcane arts. Lamp Knights, more often referred to as Knights Arcana, were paladins – holy warriors selected and empowered by the Divines and devoted to combating evil. Although members of the guild, the loyalty of each Knight Arcana was to the Divines. These paladins were above corruption - not even the Arch Mage was beyond the scope of their righteous justice when it came to combating the use of magic for evil purposes.”

I paused for a sip of tea before continuing, “Well suited for operating independently, their tasks ranged from exploration and discovery, to investigation, enforcement and defense of the guild from forces of darkness. The Order was guided by a Palatinus who, at the pleasure of the Divines, coordinated directly with the Arch Mage.” I studied Boderi’s ruby eyes, searching for a passing grade.

She nodded. “Well done, Buffy. I see your uncanny ability to recall almost anything you read remains intact. And do you know what became of to the Order?”

“It is unclear,” I replied. “Most of the Knights Arcana, along with nearly a thousand battlemages, were killed during a great battle against Mannimarco and his army of necromancers – which suffered similar losses. Arch Mage Galerion was killed. Reportedly, so was the King of Worms but his body was never found. Several historians have speculated that, just as he had somehow survived the Planemeld after trying to usurp Molag Bal, Mannimarco once again defied death.” I shrugged. “Little is written about what subsequently became of the knights. Some say the Order of the Lamp dissolved after the death of Vanus Galerion. Other arcane scholars suggest the Order still quietly serves to this day, citing examples of evil mages who are inexplicably killed or simply disappear.”

“And what do you believe, Dame Buffy?”

“There’s a lamp shining brightly above each Divine’s altar in the University’s Chapel of the Nine,” I stated. “I suspect they burn there for a reason.”

“You suspect correctly.” I followed Boderi’s eyes up to the tapestry depicting Julianos - the god of both knowledge and magic. “The Council of Mages convened last night to discuss our role in the Oblivion Crisis and the dark times facing the Empire. I was asked to bring the Order out of the shadows and back into righteous lamplight. Arch Mage Traven believes that, at this point, there is more to be gained from the Order’s visible deterrence than its continued clandestine operations. I and the rest of the Council agreed.”

My eyes opened wide, as did my mouth. I managed to close the latter.

The dark elf who had forged me into a combat mage continued, “While it should be no surprise that I have always been involved in the quiet business of enforcement, intelligence gathering and special operations, my true position and title within the guild has been kept secret. Until now.”

I stared at her for a long time before one end of my mouth lifted into a crooked smile and I stammered, “D-Dame Boderi?”

“Yes, for longer than you have lived.” She dipped her head humbly and an aura of Divine white light surrounded her. “Paladin of Julianos and Palatinus to the Order of the Lamp.” The light then faded away.

My astonishment grew. In retrospect, however, I now recalled her attending frequent meetings in the Arch Mage’s tower. I had assumed her business there involved mundane matters such as the battlemage training program. Unsure how to react to this revelation, I stood, tugged Boderi to her feet and hugged her. My mentor’s arms around me were as warm and reassuring as ever. After we broke the embrace, I asked, “How many knights do you have?”

“Too few – which is the reason I wanted to privately speak to you this morning.” It was Boderi’s turn to tilt her head as she looked down into my eyes. “Dame Buffy, when you first came to me, you were an archer, seeking to augment your skills with knowledge of the arcane. I am proud of the elf that now stands before me. You are a fine mage who happens to be a knight. I urge that, just as you embraced the synergy between bow and magic, you now give consideration to a path that blends mage, knight and priest – the path of a paladin."

My head was spinning, but I managed to say, “If you would continue to guide my steps, I would learn your ways.”

“Your skill as both mage and knight is well established,” Boderi smiled warmly as she placed a hand on my cheek, “but a Knight of the Lamp is beyond fealty to any guild, county, empire or mortal. Arch Mage Galerion fully recognized that it would require no less than Divine sanction to keep the addictive allure of magical power in check. Accordingly, each Knight Arcana’s service is inspired by a patron Divine. This is not a course to approach lightly. I know from your journals that you travel with the spirit of an ancient Paladin of Kyne who I'm sure can advise you on the hardships that life as a paladin entails. The decision, however, ultimately lies with the Divines. Meditate and speak to the Nine. If one of them calls you to be a beacon in their name, I will be proud to call you fellow paladin.”

Posted by: ghastley Feb 5 2020, 05:19 PM

This episode had me digging back to the knightly orders in the TES II: Daggerfall game, where they existed for region and temple, with the Order of the Lamp being an exception in being based in the Mages Guild. The Knights of the Flame in ESO come directly from that origin, as do the Order of the Hour. In that game you could belong to the Lamp, plus one each of regional and temple. Buffy belongs to a regional order, so the only gap is the one for a Divine Temple. Hmmm......

Clark votes for Dibella, but he may have been influenced by the outfits in certain mods. biggrin.gif

Posted by: Grits Feb 5 2020, 09:23 PM

Ah, thank you for the delightful breakfast! happy.gif

Dame Boderi gave me shivers!! I loved this episode.

Posted by: Lopov Feb 6 2020, 12:51 PM

On Episode 7 - you're doing a good job by describing how various factions of Cyrodiil are teaming up together to battle against the Daedric invasion, requiring Buffy's services either as a courier, negotiator or a seeker of crucial items required for the battle.

On Episode 8 - now Buffy has something to think about regarding the Knighthood. Divines would be "silly" not to call her. tongue.gif

Posted by: haute ecole rider Feb 6 2020, 04:02 PM

Buffy as a Dame Paladin? Hrrm, too big a stretch? Not for this blonde Bravilian Bosmer bowgirl! Small she may be, but her spirit and heart are bigger than Superian in her Skyrim incarnation!

Looking forward to learning which Divine calls Buffy!

Posted by: SubRosa Feb 7 2020, 05:38 PM

I wonder, has Buffy ever considered publishing her journal as a book(s)? I think the tale of her adventures would give Tamrielans a welcome alternative to Castra Scribonia's Woman Gone Wild...

If this was taking place in the real world, then The Order of the Lamp would be really creepy. A secret death squad that goes around killing people whom they deem are evil. Given that this is a fantasy world, and they are divinely aligned, I take it that they are a genuine force for good taking their orders from genuinely beneficent deities - like Mara and Julianos (little teapot and all). In which case it is a good thing they are there, and even better that they are coming out of the shadows to stand against Dagon. It is very plain that Boderi's patron is Julianos.

While it seems pretty plain that this is going to be focused on the Oblivion Crisis, the numerous references to Mannimarco (Manny? The Manster? The Mannimaniac?) that at some point Buffy might get involved in the Mages Guild questline as well, perhaps in Book 4?

I am hoping the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the one who calls Buffy. May the pasta be with you!

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Feb 9 2020, 05:53 AM

Great detail on the ancient Order of the Lamp! I enjoyed reading about their works and responsibilities. Fascinating how after all these centuries they are still around, in one shape or form, at such a crucial moment in time when Oblivion Gates are opening all over the place. One can say there hasn't been a better time to discover more about them in these present moments.

I think it is very appropriate for Buffy to find out more about them. She fits perfectly as one of these holy paladins!

That breakfast in the beginning sounded delicious by the way!

Posted by: Acadian Feb 12 2020, 12:52 PM

ghastley- Though Buffy’s historical depiction of the Order of the Lamp is recognizable from lore, we have freely taken liberties and filled in some gaps to our own purpose. That such knights were, first and foremost, paladins and why Vanus Galerion insisted upon it is such an example. Thank you!

Grits- That Dame Boderi’s revelation of her true identity gave you shivers is music to my ears! I so hoped for such a reaction. Thank you!

Lopov- I’m glad you endorse Buffy’s ‘supporting role’ in the crisis instead of being ‘The Chosen One.’ Being in support suits her nature much better. We view the Oblivion Crisis primarily as a familiar backdrop for Buffy's journey of personal growth. Thank you!

Rider- Looking back over the years, I’m surprised I remained blind to the signs. Only when I read The Deed of Paksennarion by Elizabeth Moon recently did the clarity of Buffy’s destiny snap fully into focus. The author’s depiction of what a paladin is all about literally sang to my heart, gave Buffy the courage to consider it and provided the inspiration to finally bring this book to life. Thank you!

SubRosa- In Buffy Fiction, paladins will be beacons of light in a dark and dangerous world. You are right to identify the challenge of avoiding self-serving motives and zealotry that can sometimes infest mortals claiming Divine inspiration. Our weapons against that will be incorruptibility and compassion. In Buffy's world, the Divines choose only a small number of paladins, and do so with great personal attention. As you say, a genuine force for good in a fantasy setting.

The attention to Mannimarco was relevant only to address what I felt was a potentially awkward historical timeline. ESO has the Worm King in what seems to be Molag Bal’s inescapable and permanent grip of torment at the end of the Planemeld – well before lore says he did battle with Vanus Galerion later in the Second Era and, much later, resurfaced to plague the Mages Guild in the Third Era. My hope in the last episode was to allow for the possibility that he somehow survived Molag Bal. Though I don’t rule it out, I have no current plans to present the Mages Guild questline. Rather, I’m leaning toward transitioning Buffy’s story to the Second Era (involving time travel of course) after this book. I much prefer writing where we’re playing instead where we were two games ago. tongue.gif Thank you!

DE- I’m pleased to hear you suggest that it's appropriate for Buffy to discover more about paladins before committing to that path. As we’ll gradually learn, there is a great deal about them that she does not know. She correctly understands they are beacons of Divine light but it will be Acadian who eventually reveals the limitations and hardships that such a life entails. And Buffy's godmother, Azura, is likely to complicate things as well. Thank you!

*

Previously- The morning of Buffy’s departure for Leyawiin, she and Boderi shared a private breakfast. Boderi turned the conversation to the Order of the Lamp. Buffy knew that the Order had been comprised of paladins empowered and devoted to the Nine whose role had been to combat the evil use of magic. Boderi then surprised Buffy by revealing that the Order was still active but had been operating clandestinely – until now, and that Dame Boderi was a Paladin of Julianos who had been serving as the Order’s Palatinus for decades. Finally, Boderi asked Buffy to consider the path of a paladin herself.

* * *


~ Part 3 – Aide from Leyawiin ~

Episode 9


I stood among a score of passengers under the midday sun. We waited as cargo was carried down a ramp mating the dock to the ship’s lower cargo hold. Among the crates and barrels still waiting to be loaded aboard was a mule and three sheep. I was grateful that Superian traveled safely as a spirit within me.

My thoughts returned to Boderi’s proposal that I ask the Nine to call me to their service. Though I traveled with the spirit of a paladin inside me, I was far from sure I totally understood what being one entailed. I knew, however, that before I decided anything I needed to talk to Acadian and probably some priests.

Oh, and Azura. It was the Mistress of Twilight who had touched me with her hand of fate and thrust the abilities of a Slayer upon me. Would she be angry if I considered serving the Nine? She would have no right to be. After all, I never asked for her interference in my life and considered being a Slayer more curse than blessing. I should speak to her about it though. . . as well as the fact that I loaned her Star to Mazoga and Agronak. I pushed such thoughts aside for now – my quest to Leyawiin and Bravil took priority.

Aside from myself and an Argonian dressed in a loam blouse and faded gray skirt, the rest of my fellow waiting passengers were men. Mostly merchants and artisans by the look of them.

After a gangplank was rigged to the main deck, a Bosmer at the far end waved us onto the ship. “Welcome aboard the Peony Princess. My name is Fillimir, ship steward.” The leather-faced elf had black hair slicked back into a short queue and was dressed in a burgundy tunic trimmed in black with matching pants over sturdy sailcloth shoes. After explaining some of the ship’s rules and meal times, he exchanged our tickets for waterwalking amulets, which we donned. “We’ll usually be in sight of land. In case we go down, stay calm, move away from the ship and walk to shore. These amulets don’t grow on trees, so I’ll need them back as you debark at your final destination. I’ll show you the galley on our way down to where you’ll sleep. This way please.”

We followed the steward below the weather deck, past the galley, through several passageways and down one more deck before he announced, “This is the passenger berthing compartment.”

As we passed a doorway from which hung a canvas curtain, he commented, “That’s the head - for cleaning yourself up and doing your personal business; if you want a full bath, wait till port or tie yourself to a line and splash around over the side.” He paused by the next opening along the bulkhead. “My office. You can usually find me in there or checking the galley.” Drawing open the canvas that covered a doorway across from his office, he revealed a small cabin. “This is where our two lady passengers will sleep.” Finally he gestured out toward the main compartment. Along the bulkheads on both sides were strung hammocks, three high. “You men sleep here. The Captain doesn’t tolerate any nonsense, so stay out of women’s berthing unless you want to swim to your destination.”

Once the Argonian and I entered our cabin, she slid the curtain closed and extended a scaled hand. “Quill-Weave. Are you going to Anvil as am I?”

“Buffy,” I said as my hand met hers. “Only to Leyawiin. I have business there. Do you live in Anvil then?”

“Yes, I am a writer and heading home after doing some research here on The Imperial City maze of a sewer system and the lost souls who call it home.”

“There is certainly plenty of mystery beneath the city,” I commented.

“What is your business in Leyawiin . . . I mean, if I am not being too nosy?”

“I’m just couriering a message for my guild of mages.”

“You don’t look like a mage – not with the way you’re dressed and those bowstring calluses on the fingers of your right hand.”

I held out the open hand of which the observant Argonian spoke. From its palm flickered to life the magenta arcane flame of my guild. As orange eyes widened, I closed my fingers to extinguish the beacon of guild recognition.

“It seems I was mistaken, magister.”

“I get that a lot. It seems buckskin-clad Bosmeri mystic archers are rare.” I then grinned. “But don’t worry, I’m not going to turn you into a scamp or anything like that. Your name and the ink stains on your own hands mark your profession well enough though.”

She held up her stained fingers. “So they do.” Looking at the three hammocks strung above each other, she added, “You want top or bottom?”

“May I have the top?”

“Perfect,” she replied. “I prefer the bottom. Most of us scaled folk like being low or even underground. I don't snore but sometimes my tail thrashes around in my sleep. It will be safer for you being above me."

I chuckled, then countered, “Being a short elf conceived in the treetops probably explains my preference for high perches.” Suddenly I felt the ship move. “We’re underway!”

“Old hat to me,” replied the Argonian as she opened her worn travel bag.

I began to change clothes as Quill-Weave carefully arrayed her writing supplies on the single small table.

“You know,” she continued, “after my current book, I’m toying with writing one about the guilds of Cyrodiil. May I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” I replied, wriggling out of my buckskins.

“Everyone knows that a display of the arcane flame marks one as a member of the Mages Guild – just as the red and white medallion worn by members of the Fighters Guild serves to identify them. From interviews with mages, I have learned that the ability is bestowed as a mage begins their course of study at the Arcane University.”

“That’s all correct,” I confirmed as I tugged an ivory skirt with emerald trim over my hips. “During the ceremony, the mage is infused with a tiny portion of the guild’s arcane flame that she can henceforth display as you saw me demonstrate.”

“If a member of the Fighters Guild is expelled,” Quill-Weave explained, “they forfeit their amulet. Fleeing without surrendering it generates a writ from the guild to track down the disgraced fighter and recover the symbol of their guild – by whatever means is necessary. My question is, how does your guild preclude a disgraced member from still displaying Mages Guild credentials?”

“Well, we try not to kill them if that’s what you’re asking.” I pulled a white peasant blouse over my head. “We’re not the Dark Brotherhood, after all. When a mage is expelled from the guild and does not willingly surrender it, their tiny piece of the arcane flame acts like a beacon to those trained to locate and recover it.”

Quill-Weave was scribbling busily. “I assume the guild has mages whose duties include enforcement of such things?”

“You assume correctly. I’m sure you can appreciate that the specifics are more effective if not disseminated beyond those who use them.”

She paused her note taking to look at me and nod her understanding. “Very enlightening. I like the mystery angle; readers eat that stuff up. When someday I finish the book, Buffy, where may I send an autographed copy for you?”

“What a thoughtful gesture!” I replied. “It will reach me if sent to the Arcane University.” We chatted a bit more as I pulled a brush through my hair. Before I excused myself to head topside for some fresh air, we agreed to meet later in the galley for dinner.

After getting lost and having to ask one of the crew for directions, I finally emerged on the busy main deck. Sails billowed and sailors bustled. I found what looked like an out of the way spot on one side of the ship. I held the railing with one hand to steady myself against the ship’s movement and kept the other near my skirt in case an errant breeze lifted it. Closing my eyes, I savored the wind in my hair and sun on my face.

Posted by: Renee Feb 12 2020, 02:31 PM

That'd be fun. Instead of life jackets we get waterwalking amulets.

That does make a lot of sense. Buffy has no problem being higher when she sleeps, while Quill-Weave has no problem sleeping low.

Quill-Weave sounds like she actually writes some material for publishing. Unlike Casta Scribonia. I can remember when I was new to the game. One of my characters spoke to Casta and Casta bragged about writing all these books. laugh.gif None of which are in the game apparently. And that was actually my first thread in the old Bethesda forums. "What's up with Casta Scribonia?" Where are all these supposed books she writes? Somebody accused me of being a troll! indifferent.gif But i was serious. I had to prove my intent in that thread!

Anyway, let's see where this trip leads, as they head south to the land of frequent rain. I wonder if it'll rain constantly in Leyawiin like it does for a lot of my characters.

Posted by: ghastley Feb 12 2020, 03:14 PM

I always like the everyday magic in everyone's stories. If you're in a world with magic, it will get used whenever it makes sense. Water-walking away from a wreck is better than just being floated, as it saves a rescue trip, so the authorities would mandate that. tongue.gif

@Renee: you've got me trying to recall if Quill-Weave has any books in the game. I think she does, but I don't remember which.

The flame "ID" coming at the same time as Adryn reminds us that not all mages can do all the schools has now got me wondering what happens if a mage is "allergic" to fire? biggrin.gif

Posted by: SubRosa Feb 12 2020, 04:34 PM

I hope no one puts Buffy in a crate!

I think Azura would feel that she has the right to be angry about anything she chooses to Buffy! That is one of the perks that comes with being a god (or godlike being).

I love the name Peony Princess for a ship. It could be a tavern as well.

Waterwalking (and breathing) amulets sound like a great idea for shipgoers who were not blessed with being born Argonian.

So is the head at the head of the ship? wink.gif

Sewer research? Now that is a crappy job Quill-Weave.

Yowch! Being a slight elf when a trail is thrashing about sounds like being a long-tailed cat in room full of rockers!

Very neat world-building with the inclusion of the Guild's arcane flame. At first I thought that rather than it being gifted upon them, they should learn to create it themselves as a sign of their ability. But then I realized that would mean any mage not in the guild could recreate it themselves and fake it. The whole situation of leaving the guild and tracking rogues though the flame is fascinating. It also implies that the Guild could use it to locate any member, like a magical GPS.

QUOTE(Renee @ Feb 12 2020, 08:31 AM) *

That'd be fun. Instead of life jackets we get waterwalking amulets.

That does make a lot of sense. Buffy has no problem being higher when she sleeps, while Quill-Weave has no problem sleeping low.

Quill-Weave sounds like she actually writes some material for publishing. Unlike Casta Scribonia. I can remember when I was new to the game. One of my characters spoke to Casta and Casta bragged about writing all these books. laugh.gif None of which are in the game apparently. And that was actually my first thread in the old Bethesda forums. "What's up with Casta Scribonia?" Where are all these supposed books she writes? Somebody accused me of being a troll! indifferent.gif But i was serious. I had to prove my intent in that thread!

Anyway, let's see where this trip leads, as they head south to the land of frequent rain. I wonder if it'll rain constantly in Leyawiin like it does for a lot of my characters.

You are such a troll Renee, everyone knows it... laugh.gif

According to the UESP Wiki:
She is a famous author who writes stories about the adventures of outlaws and low-lifes in her books, such as "Red Crater" and "The Goblin with the Golden Arm". One of her neighbors keeps rats as house pets, and during the related quest, you will find out exactly how much that bothers her.

Quill-Weave is currently working on a series of books named after Cyrodiil's Doomstones, though she believes that the Doomstones have no magical powers

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Feb 14 2020, 01:51 AM

Again, it so handy to have a pocket-mount able to travel in such a form.

I can sympathize with Buffy's regarding thoughts on Azura. Daedric Princes, even the ones considered to be often good and benevolent, have a very harsh track record and often put mortals in positions and spots they don't want to be in.

Great reference to the Interregnum. Not many people remember the details of that time period. I'm certain scholars and mages would be more inclined to know about it, and of course old organizations. I think Mannimarco did of course escape Molag's grip. I agree that it was sort of odd with the different timelines, but fan theories aside, its cool to see it mentioned here.

“You men sleep here. The Captain doesn’t tolerate any nonsense, so stay out of women’s berthing unless you want to swim to your destination.”
laugh.gif laugh.gif

The exchange between wood elf and argonian was great, and its interesting how their racial habits extends even to their sleeping ones.

To Leyawiin!

Posted by: Acadian Feb 19 2020, 02:01 PM

Renee- I’m glad you agree that waterwalking amulets for river and coastal ship travel seem to make sense. I bet the weather will indeed be mostly overcast and/or rainy in County Leyawiin. Perhaps with a few bolts of red lightning. . . . ohmy.gif Thank you!

ghastley- Like you, SubRosa and others, I like to try to show some practical uses for magic in such a magical world. Thank you!

SubRosa- With Buffy considering aligning with one of the Divines, what Azura might have to say about it seems like a prudent consideration. Buffy will learn the names of some of the Peony Princess’ sister ships and I hope you will enjoy them also. I’m glad you like how we are using the MG’s arcane flame. I confess it was partly inspired by the FG’s amulets that you introduced in Teresa Fiction. Thank you!

DE- I felt obliged to address how the traitorous Worm we left to eternal torment in the Second Era in ESO could somehow survive to later battle Vanus Galerion (in support of Order of the Lamp lore) and even infest himself upon the Third Era (in support of the MG questline in Oblvion). I find it great fun to try and weave the wide range of racial characteristics found in Tamriel into matter-of fact-normal considerations that might not occur to those of us without pointed ears, tails, fur or tusks. Thank you!

*

Previously- Buffy boarded the Peony Princess to begin her journey from The Imperial City down the Niben to Leyawiin. After meeting her Argonian cabin mate and settling in, she made her way up to the ship’s main deck to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine.

* * *

Episode 10


“What lady so fair, whose golden hair shames the very sun, graces my port rail?”

I turned to look up at a handsome Redguard. A loose fitting white shirt was gathered at his waist by a scarlet sash and its wide sleeves danced in the wind. Well-fitted black trousers were tucked into knee high suede boots of the same color. His roguishly smiling lips parted to say, “Torlin, first mate of this fine vessel.”

“Buffy,” I managed to reply without stammering.

“Buffy,” he repeated. “What a beautifully exotic name! In all my travels, I’ve never met anyone who shares it.”

“Nor have I,” I said, feeling rather flustered by his blatant charm and attention, “so I suppose it is rather rare,”

He lifted my hand briefly to his lips. “Welcome aboard.”

“Thank you,” I replied. As he leaned against the rail and unabashedly watched me, I looked around, trying not to display my self-consciousness. Behind us now was the wide bridge spanning the Upper Niben at its juncture with Lake Rumare. Ahead, I could see another vessel closing quickly. It sailed by almost silently, save for the cracking of sails in the wind and what sounded like commands being barked to its deck crew. “Beautiful,” I said. “What ship is that?”

“Barenziah’s Breeze,” replied Torlin amiably. “One of our sister ships, and bound for The Imperial City. While not as fair as yourself, she’s a beauty all right.”

I imagined my peasant blouse did little to hide the flush I felt rising above its off-the-shoulder neckline, but I didn’t draw attention to it by looking down to see. “When I picked up my ticket at the Imperial Trading Company, the clerk told me we’d arrive at Leyawiin early tomorrow. How many stops do we make?”

“Just one at Bravil before sailing overnight to Leyawiin. About four more days from there on to Anvil, including numerous stops.”

“At what cities?” I asked.

“Well, after Leyawiin, we sail to Duncori Walk and Senchal in Elsweyr. Then on to the land of the Bosmer.” Brilliant white teeth flashed briefly before he continued, “Our Valenwood ports are Haven, Southpoint, Greenheart and Woodhearth. Next is one of the Summerset Isles for a stop at Skywatch before finally arriving Anvil. After a few days port call for the crew, we bring aboard a new load of passengers, mail and cargo then retrace our route back to The Imperial City.”

“I’d love to visit those cities. Someday.”

He smiled. “Tis a shame that Leyawiin will break my heart by stealing you away on the morrow before I can show you those ports.”

I smiled demurely and, as I lowered my eyes, could see now that my shoulders did indeed display the blush I felt. “How fortunate your crew is to have a first mate so gifted by the silken tongue of a bard.”

“You wound me, lovely lady.” I looked up to see sparkling eyes that belied both a crestfallen face and dark hand placed dramatically over his heart to stem imaginary bleeding.

“Oh, I’d wager the numerous ports you visit provide plenty of lovely ladies to tend your wounds. I find this talk of ships fascinating though. How many such vessels does the Imperial Trading Company operate and where else do they go?”

“Let’s see, there’s our own Princess of course. And you saw the Breeze just heading north.” He began counting off on his fingers. “The ITC also operates Nymph of the Niben, Mara’s Tear, Black Swan and Dragon’s Tongue. Six. They all run the same route when not undergoing maintenance in our home port of The Imperial City. The Rihad Trading Company overlaps us at Anvil and serves the northern provinces.”

“Thank you, Torlin. I had no idea how all this worked.”

“You’re most welcome,” he replied. “We’ll dock at Bravil within the hour. Our loadmaster will oversee the on and offloading. My duties in port are actually quite light. The town is quite an unsavory den of thieves, beggars and black marketeers. ‘Tis hardly a place for a cultured unaccompanied lady. I’d be honored to escort you ashore, share a dinner and get to know you better. Have you had the misfortune of visiting Bravil before?”

“I grew up in the beautiful forest city that is cleansed by the Niben and nurtured by the Great Chapel of Mara. After losing both parents, the city and its people became the family who raised me.” I smiled sweetly.

The Redguard was speechless for a long moment. When he spoke, the roguishly bardic manner was gone. “Forgive my poorly chosen words, Buffy. I feel as if I’ve eaten half my boot.”

“Apology accepted, Torlin. I admit that it takes time spent in Mara’s city to fully appreciate her subtle charm and that your perceptions are shared by many visitors.” I paused to give the man a reassuring smile. “I greatly appreciate you teaching me so much about ship travel within the Empire, however I must decline your kind offer. The length of our port call here is too short for me to say all the hellos and goodbyes that going ashore would require. And I’ve already promised my cabin mate that I’d quietly remain aboard with her for dinner in the galley.” I then poked a small finger into his ribs playfully. “Besides, you’d hardly want a Bravilian waif as your dinner date. I might steal your heart and sell it on the black market.”

My joke elicited the intended laugh and seemed to ease his lingering embarrassment. “Methinks ‘tis I who have learned from you, fair and wise lady. We’ll need to rig for the wind and make our turn toward Bravil soon. I hope to see you again before you leave us in Leyawiin.” He kissed my hand once more, then treated me to a charming grin and exaggerated bow as one hand almost swept the deck. He then turned and, before I knew it, was barking orders about sails, coming around, riggings and such to the crew.

I watched the resultant deck activity for a time and felt the ship turning. My gaze shifted out over the bow. The City of Mara soon began to grow out of the distant trees, backlit by the golden brilliance of a westering sun.

I sighed. Torlin was handsome, worldly and charming. Part of me was flattered by his attentions, even though I was sure that any young thing in a skirt would draw his eye as easily as I. He probably had women in each of the numerous ports he had mentioned. And good for him, I thought, for I certainly wasn’t ready to move beyond the memory of Savlian yet. I had tried twice and. . . it had not gone well.

In Valenwood an elf named Vandrelis from one of the mammoth-hunting plains tribes had courted me, eliciting hopeful stirrings in my heart. Though I balked after his first kiss, confessing my lingering grief over the loss of Savlian, he was both patient and attentive. I found myself beginning to hope he would kiss me again.

As the chief’s son, Vandrelis was next in line to lead his tribe and explained how important it was to him that any mate be able to provide an heir to succeed him. For a Bosmer to conceive, her totem must be defeated by that of her mate as the couple shares intimate pleasures. Vandrelis' totem was a tiger. His curiosity was piqued as I informed him I had two totems. When I told him that one was a butterfly, he was pleased. Dismay, however, was his reaction as I reluctantly advised him that my second totem was an ice dragon. We sadly agreed that I was not what he needed. There were plenty of wood elven maidens whose totems could be defeated by his powerful tiger, but I was not among them. The potential for love to blossom was over before it really began. Acadian had gently consoled me that knowing Vandrelis’ priorities so early in the courtship was better than learning them later.

I stared out over the bay as I recalled a subsequent attempt at romance after returning from Valenwood. Caccian Apinia was a member of the Bravil guard force and took quite the fancy to me. Unlike some under the command of Captain Viera Lerus, he rejected corruption and was both firm and fair in his duties. I was drawn to both his sense of honor and skill as a warrior. I had accepted an invitation from him for dinner at the Silverhome. Well, I ended up drinking too much and blubbering about Savlian. Between the wine and emptiness in my heart, I became clingy as he walked me home, even inviting him to come inside for the night. He gently declined.

Once fully sober the next day, I realized how chivalrous the man had been to not take advantage of an inebriated and vulnerable elf. I was so impressed that, when he asked, I readily agreed to try dinner together again – without the wine. This time, when he delivered me home, we chatted comfortably outside my door. Then he took me gently into his arms and our lips met. Instead of welcoming his kiss as I hoped I might, I stiffened as waves of guilt washed over me. I pulled away, crying and apologizing. I had selfishly implied to this kind man something I could not deliver. He was wise enough to understand, and our evening ended with a friendly but sad hug. The last thing he said that night still hung heavily in my heart: ‘You told me that Captain Matius’ final words to you included the hope that you live your long elven life. Until you truly embrace his wishes, no man can compete with the ghost of your hero.’

Had it not been for the steadfast strength, unconditional acceptance and vehement reassurances of my paladin that night, the next morning would have found me at the bottom of the Niben. Beneath the same waters that now lapped against the sides of the Peony Princess.

Posted by: SubRosa Feb 19 2020, 05:57 PM

Is Buffy shaming the Sun again?

Torlin has some serious thirst for Buffy. You certainly described what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the male gaze quite well.

I do love the names, especially Black Swan, thanks to the ballet and movie.

The misfortune of visiting Bravil! The cad! Buffy should steal his heart and sell it on the black market! laugh.gif

Caccian was quite right. No one can compete with a ghost.

Posted by: Renee Feb 20 2020, 04:03 PM

QUOTE(SubRosa @ Feb 12 2020, 10:34 AM) *


You are such a troll Renee, everyone knows it... laugh.gif


rollinglaugh.gif Well it explains why I constantly get those Where am I? pictures wrong. I fess up now. I have never actually played a Bethesda game. indifferent.gif

QUOTE
He smiled. “Tis a shame that Leyawiin will break my heart by stealing you away on the morrow before I can show you those ports.”


OH my gosh! blink.gif I agree with Dame Buffy, this Redguard probably says this to all the pretty ladies. wub.gif

QUOTE
‘Tis hardly a place for a cultured unaccompanied lady. I’d be honored to escort you ashore, share a dinner and get to know you better. Have you had the misfortune of visiting Bravil before?”


Torlin and my Kahreem both have the flirty gift. wub.gif These words could literally have been said by my Redguard thief.

I like that he has no idea who she is, that she is actually an adventurer who faces down all sorts of enemies, and so on.

Vandrelis appeared in Book II, correct? I seem to remember their encounter, especially them exchanging totem information.

Posted by: ghastley Feb 20 2020, 04:59 PM

Does this mean that your Leyawiin is that of Open Cities Reborn, (or at least similar) where the Niben is actually navigable through the city? I always preferred it the way that mod rebuilt it, especially as it re-created the concept art, without breaking any of the quests there, or making any dialogue nonsensical.

I also started wondering about the stop in Skywatch, as Lathenil of Sunhold wrote that the seas around Summerset were impassable during the Crisis. But then, he managed to get out to Anvil himself, so it's likely that did not apply to Auridon, and he had another way to get between the islands that didn't require a boat. If any port would still be open, it would be that one.




Posted by: SubRosa Feb 20 2020, 07:40 PM

QUOTE(Renee @ Feb 20 2020, 10:03 AM) *

Vandrelis appeared in Book II, correct? I seem to remember their encounter, especially them exchanging totem information.

Vangelis did the music for Chariots of Fire...

Posted by: Lopov Feb 21 2020, 08:44 AM

Quill-Weave! At first I thought that the mentioned Argonina will be of no particular importance, but it turned out to be our favorite writer. A nice bit of conversation, the Fighters Guild is quite ruthless when it comes to retrieving the amulet by any means necessary. Water-walking amulets are a clever addition for the passengers, in case the ship would sink. laugh.gif

I was thinking of Vandrelis as Buffy began her conversation with Torlin, although I didn't recall Vandrelis' name until you brought it up. I'm thankful for some insights into events from previous stories. I enjoyed a conversation between Buffy and Torlin, although I assumed that she'll accept his offer to accompany her. tongue.gif

Posted by: Grits Feb 26 2020, 05:16 AM

Ooo, Quill-Weave! As ever I adore the touches of practical magic in Buffy’s world.

I then poked a small finger into his ribs playfully. “Besides, you’d hardly want a Bravilian waif as your dinner date. I might steal your heart and sell it on the black market.”

I love it! biggrin.gif

It was sobering to realize that Buffy’s bleak night after the date with Caccian happened so recently. Darkness and light wove all the way through this episode.

Posted by: Acadian Feb 26 2020, 01:51 PM

Previously- Buffy continued her voyage toward Leyawiin. Meeting the ship’s charming and flirtatious first mate elicited painful memories of her failed attempts at romance after the loss of Savlian. As the ship prepared for a brief port call at Bravil, Buffy elected to remain aboard for a quiet dinner with her cabin mate.

*

SubRosa- I’m glad that Buffy’s feminine reactions (voluntary and otherwise) to Torlin’s gusher of charm rang true. I did have fun making up those ship names! As you can see, Buffy still has work to do reconciling Savlian’s ghost with any possible future romance. At this point, I’m proud of her for at least being willing to try.

Renee- How neat that Torlin’s smooth charm reminds you of the Weet Bandit! Buffy’s diminutive size and ‘elf next door’ look are not likely to intimidate anyone. . . so she has learned to rely on speechcraft as well as any advantage to be gained from being underestimated. You are exactly right that Vandrelis appeared in Book 2. Thanks for remembering!

ghastley- It always seemed absurd that the Niben’s delta area around Leyawiin precluded navigation to/from Topal Bay, but the only mod I used to correct it was imagination. In Buffy fiction, it is not landlocked and those using the Yellow Road to and from Leyawiin rely on a ferry to cross the fully navigable Niben. We’ll see that in the next couple episodes. Regarding Skywatch, I confess I did not delve deeply into possible impact of the crisis on Auridon. I figure it is reasonable that Auridon could be struggling but still viable with at least one functioning port.

Lopov- I thought Quill-Weave, as a traveling writer, would be a perfect cabin mate and opportunity for Buffy to explain a couple guild things that are unique to Buffy fiction. Buffy’s saga is so sprawling that I figured reviewing her failed courtship with Vandrelis from Book 2 would be prudent.

Grits- Quill-Weave’s dry but curious manner was fun to write, as was Torlin’s over-the-top charm. I appreciate your comment about weaving fun and humor into this past episode, while finishing on a rather sobering note.

* * *

Episode 11


The port call in Bravil was predictably uneventful, given that Quill-Weave and I had stayed aboard for dinner and crawled into our hammocks early.

At some point during the night a gentle sense of motion had alerted me that we were underway. The soothing movement of the ship likely contributed to my sound night of sleep.

I awoke with warm fur in my face. Kitsune liked to sleep curled up with her nose covered by her luxuriant tail - and she often extended the courtesy to me. Easing the vixen aside, I noticed no hint of daylight yet penetrated our cabin’s single small porthole.

Careful not to awaken Quill-Weave below me, I managed to quietly dismount from the rope and canvas hammock and get my feet onto the deck. After summoning a towel and wrapping it around myself, I padded across the passageway to the washroom to pass water, wash up and clean my teeth. Once back in my cabin and aided by a nighteye spell, I pulled on my buckskins and arranged my hair into a ponytail. I then left the sleeping Argonian.

Once outside the cabin, I knelt down and whispered to Kitsune, “Your sense of smell is much better than mine. Will you lead us to the galley?” She did so. Though early, I talked the cook into some cold roasted mutton and hot tea.

Finally, I emerged topside into the damp predawn air. Dark shadows, which more light would soon enough render as trees, slowly slipped past both sides of the ship. I leaned against the starboard rail and waited for daylight to become more than a vague promise.

I smiled as a pale green butterfly appeared and fluttered around my head. “Good morning, Dawn,” I said. The diminutive creature had frequently appeared during most of my life, but only around sunrise. Though she was a mystery to me, I had come to welcome her brief visits.

By the time I finished an orange that I had grabbed from a barrel in the galley, I could make out the Green Road whenever it came close enough for the Niben’s gentle waves to lap at its cobblestones. Reeds along the river’s edge and weeping branches of willow trees confirmed we were in County Leyawiin.

Soon, there was enough light that I could make out the sharp broken rocks of a closed Oblivion Gate as we slowly sailed past. The corpses of several Daedra on the charred ground nearby silently testified that the gate had not long been closed.

Ahead of us, and on the other side of the river, towering gray walls announced our proximity to Fort Redman.

My tiny winged visitor suddenly disappeared. A moment later, the sound of distant thunder reached my long ears.

“Could be a storm ahead, lads. Standby to rig for foul weather.” My head turned to see the ship’s first mate issuing orders. The Redguard turned to me and lowered his voice, “Good morning, fair Bosmer. You may want to retreat below deck. Wouldn’t want such a lovely flower of the forest blown overboard.”

“Good morning, Torlin,” I said absently, for my attention was focused on the sky ahead. When a bolt of red lightning slashed across the rapidly forming black clouds, my heart sank. “I know that sky. It brings neither wind nor rain; rather, it proclaims an open Oblivion Gate.”

Torlin’s eyes widened briefly before he decisively turned to address the deck crew. “We’ve got an Oblivion Gate ahead. Steady as she goes and we’ll safely sail right on by.” Turning back to me, he said, “I need to notify the captain. Once again, I thank you, my lady.” The Redguard spun on his heels and quickly made his way aft toward the pilot house.

I retrieved both bow and quiver from the enchanted satchel at my waist and settled them onto my back.

Within minutes, the flaming maw came into view. The scorched meadow it claimed was just south of Fisherman’s Rock along the Niben’s east bank. As we sailed closer, I could make out a large green banner, emblazoned with the rearing pale horse that marked it as belonging to Leyawiin’s Order of the White Stallion. Several knights stood guard as some number of their comrades were undoubtedly inside attempting to wrest the sigil stone from its tower.

Acadian quietly remarked, “I see their mission has changed from slaying black bow bandits to closing the jaws of Oblivion.” I nodded, thankful for the comfort that the old paladin’s spirit within me provided.

As we sailed past the gate, my eyes turned again toward the west bank to see Water’s Edge come into view. Half a dozen sheep stood nervously together in shallow water bleating their disapproval of the incessant angry streaks of lightning tearing at the thunderously protesting sky. Several residents were already outside and, between fearful skyward glances, dutifully tending the small community’s rice plants. The wetlands crop, along with fishing, provided the bulk of their diet and livelihood.

I watched Water’s Edge slowly disappear behind us, then shifted my gaze forward over the starboard bow as the Peony Princess continued south. I was surprised when a stone building of imposing size grew from the trees along the Green Road. As the ship drew abeam, I could make out a familiar banner. A wide smile grew across my face. “So, it’s true,” I whispered to Acadian. “The humble lodge used by Mazoga and I after we were dubbed has been replaced by a magnificent hall that, by the look of it, could host more than a score of knights.” The low stone wall surrounding the compound also enclosed a stable, sparring area, forge, vegetable garden, henhouse and well. I saw no sign of activity outside the lodge, though two of its several chimneys issued wispy clues of life inside.

The impressive facility soon slipped behind us. A pair of sailors across the deck along the port rail were discussing another closed Oblivion Gate now visible just east of the river. The more of these gates I saw, the more my fear of them was joined by other emotions. Heartache and worry for the brave souls who struggled to close them. Fury toward the Daedra Lord of Destruction for unleashing his rapacious flaming teeth into the beautiful forests that I loved.

A loud crack of thunder dispelled my ruminations. It should have been getting quieter since that open gate was now well behind us. I looked out over the bow as Leyawiin’s distant gray walls began to come into view. On the eastern shore of the Niben, near the Yellow Road ferry landing stood another towering set of stone teeth! Flames belched forth, angrily licking the sides of the portal as a number of soldiers, augmented by portable barricades, had established a defensive perimeter to contain and channelize Daedra. The river itself did provide somewhat of an additional barrier behind the soldiers. Daedra could swim but, while doing so, they were slow and helpless targets for any archers atop the city’s walls and towers. The dock area seemed safe enough for the moment.

By now, Torlin was back on deck and tersely issuing orders to the crew. The ship began to turn toward the city’s wharf area.

After, well. . . forever it seemed, the ship kissed her pier and lines were cast to and from the deck to secure us. As longshoremen maneuvered two ramps toward our cargo bay access and weather deck, I heard Torlin admonishing a Nordic sailor that I understood to be the ship’s loadmaster, “All hands are at your disposal to quickly get Leyawiin cargo off and on. The Captain wants the Princess back underway and away from this flaming swamp in less than an hour!”

Fillimir, the ship’s steward, along with two passengers carrying their travel bags appeared on deck looking bewildered and more than a little frightened by the angry sky and nearby flaming portal to the Deadlands. With but a glance from me, Kitsune disappeared. As soon as the pier and weather deck were mated, I pressed the waterwalking amulet that had been issued to me upon embarkation into the steward’s hand and ran down the gangplank. Rather than hoping the nearby ferry was ready to go, I cast my own waterwalking spell and ran directly across the river toward the Oblivion Gate to offer my help.

Posted by: Renee Feb 26 2020, 02:56 PM

She can summon a towel??? Man, if I had that ability I'd be summoning my car keys every day!

Nice, she has a butterfly follower (sort of). I like seeing those ruined Oblivion gates in my post-Crisis games.

Oh no. indifferent.gif Red lightning. That can only mean one thing.

QUOTE
“So, it’s true,” I whispered to Acadian. “The humble lodge used by Mazoga and I after we were dubbed has been replaced by a magnificent hall that, by the look of it, could host more than a score of knights.”


Translation: Acadian installed a White Stallion Lodge at some point. smile.gif Kidding. Maybe this is just imagination, because one thing I know from reading old Buffy posts in the old forums is you didn't have that many mods. I think you stated you had a mere 30 at the most.

She casts Water-Walking and rushes off. Now Torvin the Flirty must be wondering who the cute dame he flirted with really is.

Posted by: ghastley Feb 26 2020, 04:33 PM

When I saw "I could make out a large green banner, emblazoned with the rearing pale horse that marked it as belonging to Leyawiin’s Order of the White Stallion. Several knights stood guard " I was already anticipating the expansion I read a bit further down.

So now I'm wondering how long this is after the events that created the Order. And whether all the Marauders in Rockmilk Cave suddenly got a legitimate job? tongue.gif

Posted by: SubRosa Feb 26 2020, 05:38 PM

How thoughtful of Kitsune to warm Buffy's exposed face with her tail! biggrin.gif

Uh oh, the Twilight Butterfly returns! We know who that is...

Hopefully that coming storm is not the sound of an open Gate. Oops, I guess it is!

I see the LOWS is on it. I wonder if the bandits are taking advantage of the authorities' divided attention?

It was nice to see old familiar places again like Water's Edge. And newly refurbished ones like the LOWS headquarters.

There sure are a lot of those darn gates!

"flaming swamp" is not a phrase one often hears!

Buffy being who she is, throws herself into the fray. I was expecting this from the first open gate they saw.

Posted by: ghastley Feb 26 2020, 05:47 PM

QUOTE(SubRosa @ Feb 26 2020, 11:38 AM) *


"flaming swamp" is not a phrase one often hears!


Except when it's actually a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will-o%27-the-wisp - which do infest that area in the game. Mazoga needs to be protected from those until she gets her Daedric gear. I forget what happens when the wisps meet the daedric creatures. If they're not in the same faction, they could become allies!

Posted by: haute ecole rider Feb 27 2020, 06:50 AM

Sigh. I'm listening to the Oblivion OST as I read this, and it sure brings back many memories as does this leisurely trip (eh, with a fair bit of tension due to those nasty Gates) down the Niben to Leyawiin unfolds.

QUOTE
After, well. . . forever it seemed, the ship kissed her pier and lines were cast to and from the deck to secure us.
This shipfaring soul loved this turn of phrase - how appropriate for sailing ships of all kinds!

Of course, like Julian, Buffy and her Paladin just can't leave those fellow knights to defend against those Gates!

Posted by: Lopov Feb 29 2020, 08:12 PM

QUOTE
Once back in my cabin and aided by a nighteye spell, I pulled on my buckskins and arranged my hair into a ponytail. I then left the sleeping Argonian.


That's kind, because if using a candle, Quill-Weave could be woken up by sudden light, but with a nighteye spell only Buffy saw the light.

I enjoyed descriptions of various people and places along the Niben.

Torlin became Torval along the way. wink.gif

Looks like "calm" episodes are over for now, it's for some action! viking.gif

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Mar 2 2020, 04:08 AM

Torlin the Redguard is such a charmer.

Barenziah’s Breeze. I quite like the name! And how slick for Torlin to sneak in a flirtatious compliment. Silken tongue of a bard indeed!

"Oh, I’d wager the numerous ports you visit provide plenty of lovely ladies to tend your wounds."
I've thought about the same thing. No doubt he works full time as a both a sailor and a ladie's man. Methinks someone's been leveling up his speech. laugh.gif

I like how Buffy reminded us of Vandrelis. Though there are many potential suitors, there's a strong chance none might live up to our heroic and dear Savlian, though time will certainly tell.

This was a superb chapter!

You provide such a rich description that takes us there with Buffy. I felt like I was back in Cyrodiil again, seeing the Green Road past the waves of the Niben, and the tell tale signs of the Oblivion gates. It seems that the knights' noble goes shifted from bandits to a more dangerous foe. I like this about them; it matters not the evil-doer, all will find justice. You end in a nice cliffhanger here that has me anticipating for some action! When the Mystic Archer sets sight on her quarry, they better prepare.

Woe to those Daedra.

Posted by: Grits Mar 4 2020, 03:36 AM

What a peaceful dawn trip along the Niben. I love how the Order of the White Stallion has grown, as has their purpose.

Yikes, another Gate to Oblivion! Flaming swamp, indeed. I remember feeling exasperated at the number of Gates that crop up right around there. Buffy’s emotions make the crisis feel personal again.

Rather than hoping the nearby ferry was ready to go, I cast my own waterwalking spell and ran directly across the river toward the Oblivion Gate to offer my help.

Go Dame Buffy!

Posted by: Acadian Mar 4 2020, 12:55 PM

Previously- Buffy’s journey continued as the Peony Princess made its way along the Niben from Bravil to Leywawiin. Along the way, she noted several Oblivion Gates closed or being closed by Knights of the White Stallion. Approaching Leyawiin, there was another open Oblivion Gate dangerously close to the city. As soon as the ship docked, Buffy sped to the aide of Leyawiin soldiers trying to defend against the portal to the Deadlands.

*

Renee- Buffy’s skill is primarily in bow, illusion and restoration. Her conjuration and destruction skills are more mundane – like summoning a towel or or heating bathwater. The butterfly is a manifestation of Azura who, as Buffy’s godmother, has always secretly kept an eye on her. The intro to Book 2 revealed that knowledge to readers but Buffy remains unaware. It will become clear even to Buffy later in this book. Thank you!

ghastley- Though most of what we present that differs from vanilla is imagination, we actually did have a nice mod that expanded the White Stallion Knights Lodge into something similar to what Buffy described. Though Buff and Zoga killed their boss, the Black Bow Bandits still persist but much diminished. Thank you!

SubRosa- I’m pleased you remember the twilight butterfly from the opening of Book 2. Buffy, of course, remains clueless but will discover who Dawn is later in this book. Glad you enjoyed Buffy’s observations while sailing down the river. Thank you!

Rider- Nice to hear that you enjoyed Buffy’s tour down the Niben via ship. I enjoyed presenting a glimpse of ship life through Buffy’s non-nautical eyes. I expect Buffy realizes that getting an audience with Count Caro is not likely with his city under siege from numerous Oblvion Gates. So just as surely as Julian would, Buffy will offer her assistance. Thank you!

Lopov- As I mentioned to Renee, Buffy’s pretty good with mundane uses of magic (like nighteye). Glad you enjoyed Buffy’s observations of life along the Niben. Thank you for pointing out my error on Torlin/Torval so I could quickly fix it. You are right; looks like some action ahead for the little knight. Thank you!

DE- I’m glad you enjoyed Torlin and some of the Imperial Trading Company ship names we came up with. The episode where Buffy reviewed her failures at romance was a powerful one for her – your endorsement of the episode means a lot. Coming from a master of description such as yourself, I am humbled by your kind words regarding Buffy’s observations along the Niben. I hope you will similarly enjoy Buffy’s observant walk through Leyawiin on her way to the castle in a few episodes – once she helps close that pesky Oblivion Gate! Thank you!

Grits- It was fun trying to ‘paint’ the dawn banks of the Niben as the Peony Princess sailed into County Leyawiin. By the time we got to her destination I’m glad Buffy’s exasperated reaction to yet another Oblivion Gate ‘fit’. I'm hoping the end of this next episode inspires another 'Go Dame Buffy!' tongue.gif Thank you!

* * *

Episode 12

As I approached the flaming portal, I noted that spiked anti-cavalry barricades had been emplaced to channelize emerging Daedra into an awaiting formation of city guards. I recalled how Savlian had also used such chevaux de frise barriers to good effect during his lengthy defense against the Oblivion Gate at Kvatch.

“Dame Buffy?”

The familiar voice drew my eyes and attention away from the defensive arrangements. Errant strands of brown hair framed an exhausted face. Smudges of dirt, blood and Daedra innards stained the surcoat of Leyawiin’s guard commander. Caelia Draconis had been the first to provide aid to Kvatch. It was her example, and letters to counterparts in other cities, that helped swell Savlian’s forces to numbers that allowed the eventual recapture of his city. “Captain Draconis, I thought we had an understanding between us that did not require titles.”

Bypassing my extended hand she hugged me and, as we brushed cheeks, whispered into one ear. “Things are desperate here, Buffy.”

As we disengaged, my hand lingered at the small of her waist long enough to magically ease her fatigue. There was little I could do about how overdue she was for a bath. “How can I help, Caelia?”

“I could use another mage in the ranks,” she replied. As I glanced over the defenders, I recognized a journeyman in tan robes from the Leyawiin chapter of my guild. I returned S’drassa’s wave, but his feline grin contrasted with the drooping ears and limp tail that proclaimed his weariness. “Deputy Guildmagister Agata has managed to keep at least one of Dagail’s mages out here and has stopped by regularly to check on them and supply us with potions.” As Caelia’s gaze returned to the gate, she said, “Damn that Jovanah for charging in there by herself!”

“Jovanah?” I asked. It was then I noticed a small singed flag planted near the flaming portal. Its black dragon imposed over a red diamond background identified it as belonging to the Imperial Legion.

“County Leyawiin’s new forester,” lamented Caelia. “I know she wants to prove herself, but she picked a damn fool way to do it!”

The gate flickered briefly as a massive pale blue form emerged. S’drassa’s fireball was chased by half a dozen arrows – including my own – and the frost atronach quickly fell to join numerous other daedric corpses.

Unfazed, Caelia continued, “I’m loathe to send others inside. If Jovanah pulls that sigil stone, anyone not holding on to her will perish.”

I nodded my understanding. “How long has she been in there and how much water did she take?”

“The gate opened five days ago and Jovanah was first on the scene. She barely took time to plant her banner, so I’m sure she has no more than one skin of water.”

I sucked in my breath. “As a solo forester, she would have tried to sneak and avoid fighting. Those tactics, while slow, don’t require anywhere near five days to reach a sigil stone.” I shook my head. “If the Daedra didn’t kill her, then the relentless dry heat of the Deadlands and lack of water did.”

“You’re sure?” the guard commander asked.

“I helped destroy the first gate at Kvatch long ago. I closed another north of Bravil by myself just a few days ago.” I nodded sadly. “I’m sure.”

The officer winced and her face softened somewhat. “She would’ve made a fine forester had the eagerness of youth not outpaced her judgment here.”

“I’m sorry for the Legion’s loss, Caelia. What forces do you have with the training to close these things?”

“Leyawiin’s Knights of the White Stallion are so trained,” she replied. “They closed one of the nearby gates by securing the area, sending in half a dozen knights, killing every Daedra inside and claiming the sigil stone.”

I almost smiled as I recognized the tactics of Sirs Mazoga and Agronak. “They sound impressive.”

“Aye,” she agreed, “but they’re currently busy with two more gates flanking the river up Water's Edge way.”

“We sailed past,” I remarked. “One of those gates is already closed. Knights are still inside the other.”

“After already dealing with several gates simultaneously the knights will doubtless be exhausted and in need of healing – as well as repairs to their weapons and armor.” Caelia frowned. “I can’t ask them to close this one as well without rest.”

“What of Leyawiin’s chapter of the Fighters Guild?” I asked. “Have any of them received the Legion’s Oblivion Gate training up at the Arena?”

“A few of them have but Guildmistress Vilena Donton just ordered them all to Bruma. They left yesterday, offering no details of their mission.” She spat on the ground. “My guards aren’t trained for this, damn it! That leaves me with limited options – all of them bad. I could hold the line out here and hope that endless small waves of Daedra and exhaustion don’t attrite us to the point we become overrun before help arrives. Alternatively, now that we believe Jovanah has failed, I could send my sergeant of the guard with a detachment of soldiers into the gate to close it, and live with the ghosts of those who don’t return.” Her eyes glistened but her face was hard as steel as she stared at the flaming portal. “Or I can do what I know I must and lead the detachment I send into the gate myself. If I survive, I expect to be relieved of command for violating the Legion’s policy that a commander remain with the bulk of her unit. I’ll be damned, though, if I’ll send my soldiers into something I haven’t trained them for without me at their side!”

I understood Caelia’s dilemma about her location when splitting a command. Savlian had explained that commanders were expected to use subordinates to lead detachments. At Kvatch, however, no one had ever closed an Oblivion Gate or had any real idea of the hazards within. . . or if closing one was even possible. For reasons similar to those just voiced by Caelia, Savlian ordered that just he and I enter the Oblivion Gate there and attempt to close it. The Legion would say that, despite our success, Savlian made a reckless decision and violated policy. I, on the other hand, adored him for the selfless courage of his choice. Just as I respected the decision Caelia was prepared to make.

I made a decision of my own. “There is another way, Caelia. Leyawiin’s knights must be exhausted by now and, as you say, your soldiers – including you - are not trained for this task.” I looked up at the Imperial officer. “I am both rested and trained. If you can augment my one waterskin with the loan of another, I will close this gate.”

“Are you sure?” Her eyes reflected. . . worry, hope, fear? Perhaps all of these things, I decided.

“Yes,” I stated with all the authority and confidence I could muster. “My business in Leyawiin is with Count Caro and I’m quite certain he will not grant me an audience while his city is under siege.”

She handed me her waterskin. “We’ll hold the line out here. That’s one thing we’re trained to do.”

I added the skin to the other full one in my satchel, then slipped on three rings. The heat emanating from the gate instantly eased, and all nearby life blossomed into pink glows. “I should be back within a day. If this gate still stands after two, assume I have failed and continue to hold the line until you can send in a contingent of White Stallion Knights as soon as they've recovered from their current tasks.” Before Caelia - or I - could change my mind, I stepped off for the gate.

The last words I heard before entering the flaming portal were Caelia’s. “Good luck, brave knight.”

Posted by: ghastley Mar 4 2020, 03:22 PM

If the current "occupant" of the gate is a forester, the Daedra are already alerted to the sneaky archer style. That's going to make things harder for Buffy.

Are the legion all Imperials in your story? The game makes them that way for voicing reasons, but it's a bit arbitrary. Jovanah isn't all that Imperial-sounding a name, but then names aren't always chosen by mothers.

Posted by: SubRosa Mar 4 2020, 06:49 PM

I appreciated the use of chevaux de frise at the entrance to the gate. They are such a simple and effective means of defense, that anyone with an axe and a few trees ought to be using them.

Looks like Captain Draconis could use one of Aela an Loria's Cleanse spells.

Looks like a great opportunity for Buffy to lend the Leyawiin guard some on the job training at closing gates.

And off Buffy goes, being Buffy to the end. Well, hopefully not the end.

Posted by: Grits Mar 5 2020, 02:59 AM

Oh no. It’s sad to lose a forester. My wager is that Jovanah is a Nord, as she charged in like one.

I love how the defenders shot the emerging atronach down with barely a pause in conversation. That and their weariness showed how time had passed while it was open.

Caelia’s Gate-side remarks reminded me of Savlian. It is no surprise that Buffy is willing to go in to help her friends, even knowing that she may share Jovanah’s fate. Gooo, Dame Buffy!! happy.gif


Posted by: haute ecole rider Mar 5 2020, 04:38 AM

This made me chuckle and groan at the same time: [quote“Yes,” I stated with all the authority and confidence I could muster. “My business in Leyawiin is with Count Caro and I’m quite certain he will not grant me an audience while his city is under siege.” [/quote]

Uh huh, and just about every other noble in Cyrodiil . . .

Oh, no, a forester has been lost in there? I remember Julian going into that one so Marsias our forester would not have to face them alone.

I'm with Grits on this one: GO DAME BUFFY!

Posted by: Acadian Mar 11 2020, 12:21 PM

Previously- When Buffy arrived at the Oblivion Gate threatening Leyawiin, she found the city guard struggling to contain things. The county’s forrester had already entered the gate and failed to close it. The guards were untrained for the task, the Fighters Guild was deployed to Bruma and the White Stallion Knights were busy with other gates. Rather than allow Leyawiin’s guard commander to lead untrained soldiers into the Deadlands, Buffy volunteered to close the gate herself.

*

ghastley- We’ll see that Buffy’s solo survival advantage inside a gate is her experience and arcane training. Though most in the Legion are indeed Imperial, there are a number of exceptions in Buffy’s world. Astute of you to note that Jovanah is indeed not an Imperial name – we’ll learn her race in today’s episode. We’ve used Nords and Bosmer as Imperial Legion battlemages at the University. And Buffy’s heard of a Redguard Legion veteran named Julian of Anvil.

SubRosa- As I verified my nomenclature for chevaux de frise, I was thinking that you would appreciate it. tongue.gif Buffy’s Tamriel would be a cleaner and better smelling place if Buffy knew the Cleanse spell that graces your fiction! This will be the last Oblivion Gate we have planned for Buffy to close, so we’ll linger inside this one for an entire episode.

Grits- Jovanah did charge right into that gate like a Nord on Jerric Juice! We’ll learn her race in today’s episode. Thank you for your kind recollections of Savlian. We are beginning to see that Buffy’s grieving is moving beyond self-pity. Her reflections of Savlian going forward will be more along the lines of cherishing memories, recalling the things she learned from him and, when required (as it will be when she gets to Bravil), aggressively defending his legacy.

Rider- Oblivion certainly did throw gates in the way of gathering allies for Bruma! Fortunately for Buffy, others are simultaneously soliciting aid from the other nobles. My hope is that by limiting Buffy’s recruiting efforts to two cities, we can more fully develop the situation in each without risking repetitiveness. Unfortunately, Jovanah lacked the wisdom from years of experience that served Julian so well for the deadly work of closing Oblivion Gates.

* * *

Episode 13


Upon entering the Deadlands I lifted my fist and spilled a cloak of invisibility over myself. Scrambling to the top of a large boulder to better survey this realm, I crouched stealthily before my spell expired. A clannfear charged below me and right out the gate. Caelia’s guards would deal with him.

I could see the sigil tower at the end of the path straight ahead. Although the number of patrolling Deadra were few, the trail’s length was flanked by some sort of slender sentry towers.

The first challenge, however, was a rift in the Deadlands cutting directly across my intended course. I slid down from the boulder and made my way to the edge of the chasm. The gorge was as deep and wide as where the Larsius River passed beneath the bridge leading to Bravil’s main gate. Except here, shifting rock had destroyed the bridge, and the river below was angry lava. I lamented to Acadian, “Too far to jump, even with a running start.” After scanning the horizon to my left and right, I frowned and added, “Going around would require nearly a full day and almost all my water.”

“Are you not skilled in Alteration and Restoration?” offered the paladin.

“By Kynareth's wings, you’re right!” I stowed both bow and quiver inside my mage satchel then cast several spells. With nearly a third of my weight feathered and my ability to leap dramatically augmented for a short time, I took a running start and jumped from the edge of the gorge.

The feeling was both exhilarating and terrifying as I sailed over the deadly lava below. As the rocky ground on the other side rushed up at me, I realized I hadn’t thought much about landing. Upon touchdown, I gracelessly collapsed into a ball and rolled several times. Scrambling to my feet, I quickly checked for hostile glows. Seeing none nearby, I healed a few bruises then retrieved my bow and quiver.

I could better see the sentry towers now. Each was roughly twice the height of an Altmer and topped by some sort of small mechanism.

In the distance, I spied a scamp. When the emerald spell I cast swirled into its target, my newly recruited assistant sprinted toward me. I studied the sentry towers between us, noting that none of them reacted to the small Daedra’s passage. As the creature neared, I rewarded its service with a lethal arrow.

“I think we’re in luck,” I said with a smile. “It seems these sentry towers are either inoperative or not sensitive enough to notice a small target like me or a scamp. I hope.”

“Either that,” replied Acadian, “or they are able to distinguish Daedra from Bosmer.”

I frowned and sighed. “You’re probably right.” I cautiously approached the nearest of the sentry towers. Sure enough, the top of it began to whirl ominously and glow.

I dove to one side, pulling the bow in close to my body as a fireball narrowly missed me. Rolling as I hit the ground, I was quickly on my feet and behind a protective boulder. Fireballs continued to harmlessly strike the stone shield between me and the fire sentry at a regular interval that I counted out to be six seconds.

The spell that grew in my right fist was a powerful one to ward against magic. Combined with my father’s Bretonic gift of magic resistance and the ring of resist fire I wore, I hoped it would be enough. Regardless, the spell’s brief duration would require speed and timing.

As soon as the next fireball hit the boulder, I cast and ran. Once in the open, I set my course for the shelter of another large rock slightly farther along the path. Another fireball passed close behind, but the next one found me just as I leaped to safety. Thankful for my precautions, I passed a healing hand over my slightly singed elven rump.

After scanning again for foes, I repeated the cast and run process. I learned and improved as I went, resting at each stop to allow my endurance and magicka to recover.

I was well into my second waterskin by the time I found myself safely hidden in a narrow gap between two large rocks at the base of the sigil tower. Assisted by my detect life rings, I studied the movements of three Daedra that patrolled around the towering dark structure. Once I understood their pattern, I exploited a narrow window of time and scrambled from the safety of my stony crevice to the tower’s entrance, and inside.

No challenges or glows of life met me on the other side. After magically warding the door behind me, I cast numerous weak, but persistent frost spells into the ceiling and walls where they lingered – effectively illuminating the entire large chamber. The pale blue glow from my spells revealed several corpses littered about the stone floor.

One was human.

I knelt by what I could now see was a Redguard clad in the bloody leathers of an Imperial Legion Forester. After gently passing a hand over the woman’s face to close her blankly staring eyes, I quickly searched her body and pack. Among the personal effects that I stuffed into my satchel for delivery to Caelia, was Fanador’s book on how to close Oblivion Gates. Guilt tugged at my heart as I realized she had tried to use the same stealthy tactics that Savlian and I did inside the Kvatch gate. “I’m sorry, Jovanah. Stealth without magic would not have let me succeed either. That you made it this far is testimony to your determination and skill. I will honor you by finishing what you boldly started. Farewell, sister. May the Nine ease your path to a peaceful rest.”

I stood and quietly admonished myself, “Focus on the task at hand, Buffy, lest you join this brave forester.” I took a long pull from the second waterskin before continuing.

The screeching challenge that welcomed me as I entered the next chamber prompted a panic-casting of my invisibility spell. As I slid to one side to vacate the spot of my last visible presence, I quickly assessed the threat. I yielded my cloak of invisibility to command the nearby angry clannfear with illusion magic. My new ally quickly charged the twin flame atronachs who also guarded this chamber. The distraction allowed me to sprint up a ramp to the only door besides the entrance and slip through it. Thankfully, this room was empty and I quickly warded the door behind me.

The next level once again required recruiting a temporary Daedric distraction, but the chamber above that was ascended without detection.

Climbing a ramp that led to yet another door, I quietly slipped into the next area and, again, warded the door behind me. The ample light coming through the translucent red-domed roof, and humming of a sigil stone confirmed that I had arrived at the tower’s pinnacle.

Two glows guarded this level and I stealthily crept close enough to evaluate them while remaining unnoticed. Between the ramps and teeth-like stone pillars, it took a few moments for my moving foes to reveal themselves as a dremora mage and frost atronach.

I studied them while debating how best to proceed. Invisibly running for the sigil stone? Hoping that perhaps the slow swirl of a command spell could catch one of the moving targets and turn them against each other? Possibly using the superior speed of an arrow to kill the mage first?

My options suddenly became very limited when the black-robed dremora moved closer and looked around suspiciously. “I sense a disturbance in the tower’s force.” Her voice had an otherworldly echo to it. Black-gloved fingers opened to spill pink magic that I knew all too well. “I see the glow of your life force, little mortal. Welcome to the place of your death.” Her hand spiked toward me, releasing a burst of dark red magic.

I answered with a spell of my own but hers traveled much faster. A feeling of panic rose as I felt the link to my precious magicka sever and watched her easily sidestep the slow swirl of my illusion.

I sprinted for the other side of the large circular room, making several erratic turns to complicate her spell targeting. A bolt of lightning flew past, barely missing me. I had also inadvertently strayed close enough to alert the frost atronach. I dove behind a pillar. The column of stone shielded me from both the crackling spark-filled explosion of the mage’s next spell, and the booming chill of the atronach’s frost magic.

Protected for a brief moment, my hand dove into the pouch at my waist and emerged with a potion. Spitting its cork from my teeth I guzzled the dispelling elixir. Even before the empty vial hit the ground, I felt the relief and power of magicka once again surging through me.

Keeping the pillar between the mage and I, illusion magic swirled from my fingers to the atronach. After it struck, the ice monster turned, and its next spell was directed toward the dremora spellcaster.

Since the mage could both divine my location and curse my magic, she represented the far bigger threat.

When I stepped out from behind the protection of the stone pillar, my bow hosted a fully drawn arrow. My readiness to quickly slide from side to side to avoid the mage’s spells was not needed, for as I saw her hand thrust a fire spell at the atronach, I loosed. Her corpse had barely hit the ground when I cast yet another illusionary swirl toward my remaining frosty foe. He answered with a ball of icy fog.

As our slowly moving spells passed each other, I easily sidestepped his. The atronach, however, made no attempt to evade mine. As it blossomed into his chest, he turned to flee in terror.

I sprinted to the angry pillar of flame in the center of the chamber, atop which was suspended the buzzing and humming object that powered this horrid realm.

Grasping the sigil stone, I was engulfed in the familiar blinding light and roaring protest of collapsing stone. I surrendered to the sensations of swirling, tumbling and falling that I knew would return me to Nirn.

Posted by: SubRosa Mar 11 2020, 01:27 PM

I really liked your description of Buffy spilling a cloak over herself.

Alright, Buffy is buffing up like a superhero! She will be patrolling the streets of Detroit with Stormcrow in no time! laugh.gif Seriously though, I did like the idea of using both feather spells and strength fortification to assist with an augmented leap.

I was actually thinking that the towers could sense a daedra from a Tamrielian. I will see when I scroll farther down.

Looks like the head-Paladin and I think alike!

Nice little trick of using frost spells for illumination!

I was afraid that we would find Jovanah within. Her remains are a grim reminder that while Buffy makes it look easy, closing gates is serious business for one not as experienced and well-prepared as she.

I was guessing a clannfear from the screeching challenge.

A disturbance in the Force? Yikes! He's on to Buffy! But some clever use of cover, and a potion saved for the inevitable eventuality of a silence spell, and the Buffster showed that a cool head and preparation will prevail.

Posted by: Renee Mar 11 2020, 02:45 PM

Yeah, Dame Buffy! She can close that gate. Nobody else in the vicinity seems qualified.

Hey, she puts on her Detect Life rings. Did she also have Resist Fire? I like when she says "I should be back within a day."

Nice, she uses Feather for an actual purpose other than carrying extra weight. See, none of my characters ever use this spell. They always sell Feather potions + scrolls. Never thought of using them to add agility, though.

She's drinking water as she explores the heated Deadlands.

Uh oh, looks like Buffy's been spotted by a Dremorwizard. indifferent.gif But she can do her invisibility / summon trick, right? Nope, not this time. Interesting that she hasn't fired any shots, yet. Maybe her bow is more of a backup in this situation.

Wup! Spoke too soon.

Phew. Sigil Stone in hand, and back to Cyrodiil she goes. smile.gif

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Mar 13 2020, 03:48 AM

Chapter 12:

From the serene jungle of Valenwood and back into the fray. Buffy wasted no time in taking the fight to the Daedra, and again she means business. Good to see Caelia Draconis, and a reminder in how instrumental she was in retaking the city.

My hand lingered at the small of her waist long enough to magically ease her fatigue. There was little I could do about how overdue she was for a bath.
This was a very nice touch!

The need to prove one's skill can be dangerous in a place like Tamriel, and an all too common folly of the young. Jovanah's venture into Oblivion gave me little hope, and Buffy's prior knowledge and experience in the Deadlands. If the denizens of the realm did not kill her, the fierce and fiery realm may have. But there's always a chance, right? Hopefully.

Though pressed with concerns, Buffy's bravery was the much needed answer to Caelia's problems. Entering Oblivion on one's own will takes courage, and in this case, a selfless heroic spirit.

Chapter 13:
You painted a fiery picture of the Deadlands as most of us have remembered it. Once again Acadian proves helpful and offered good advice as Buffy's leaps over the voracious lava below. It was quite amusing, if I must say, seeing her land unceremoniously on the ground. That was a nice touch, and seeing her putting her healer skills to work felt great.

“I sense a disturbance in the tower’s force.”
biggrin.gif laugh.gif I totally got that.

I don't think there is anything more terrifying than encountering a Daedra, especially in their own realm . . . especially one trained in the arcane arts. Buffy reminds me just how useful potions and elixirs are; they certainly come in handy in dire moments like these. A shame Jovanah did not make it, but her bravery will not be unremembered, for sure. Not everyone is capable for such a tremendous task.

Buffy's fight with the lady Dremora had me on the edge of my seat, and her determination and wise use of her magick capabilities made short work of the Dremora and the pesky frozen fiend! This was a great chapter!

Posted by: ghastley Mar 13 2020, 04:08 AM

I liked the way Buffy knows to just make the atronch flee, as she's about to collapse the tower on him. Most would feel the need to destroy it first, and then leave.


Posted by: haute ecole rider Mar 14 2020, 02:33 PM

QUOTE
I knelt by what I could now see was a Redguard clad in the bloody leathers of an Imperial Legion Forester. After gently passing a hand over the woman’s face to close her blankly staring eyes, I quickly searched her body and pack. Among the personal effects that I stuffed into my satchel for delivery to Caelia, was Fanador’s book on how to close Oblivion Gates. Guilt tugged at my heart as I realized she had tried to use the same stealthy tactics that Savlian and I did inside the Kvatch gate. “I’m sorry, Jovanah. Stealth without magic would not have let me succeed either. That you made it this far is testimony to your determination and skill. I will honor you by finishing what you boldly started. Farewell, sister. May the Nine ease your path to a peaceful rest.”


This is sad - but for the Grace of Akatosh goes Julian! I rather suspect that Julian's years of experience in the Legion fighting alongside battlemages had thought her that magic and sword&board does mix. I recall how she utilized that little healing spell so frequently in her first forays in the Deadlands she had to use the magicka wells to replenish her own pool. And I recall how quickly she adopted the detect life spell and the chameleon enchantment on her armor!

Reading this latest adventure of Buffy's bought back many memories of all those gates Julian closed. She does not miss them. At. All. wink.gif

Posted by: Grits Mar 15 2020, 08:17 PM

That’s a clever use of the Feather spell! Buffy’s mage satchel really shows its worth here.

Smart to ward the doors as Buffy passed through the tower. The arcane part of arcane archer shone throughout this adventure!

Preparation saves the day with that potion. Well done, Dame Buffy!

Posted by: Lopov Mar 16 2020, 10:22 PM

As others have said - a very clever use of Feather spells. Like Renee's characters, mine sell those potions / scrolls as well.

I was hoping there'd be a slim chance for Buffy to find wounded Jovanah hiding somewhere but by closing the gate Buffy avenged her.

Impressive that she managed to avoid almost all denizens of the deadlands by a clever use of her spells.

That mage proved to be a challenge but "fortunately" it had the atronach nearby, so Buffy could turn the atronach against her. I like it how you described that she sensed Buffy's presence and struck first.

Posted by: Acadian Mar 18 2020, 12:53 PM

Previously- Buffy entered an Oblivion Gate threatening Leyawiin and navigated the perils of the Deadlands. After locating the body of the Legion Forester who had preceded her by several days and fighting her way to the sigil stone, she managed to close the gate.

*

SubRosa- When Buffy was ‘flying’ across that gorge, I did think of Stormcrow. smile.gif Buffy and I were delighted long ago when we figured out how to illuminate dark chambers by tossing persistent weak frost spells into walls and ceilings in TES4.

Renee- Early in Buffy’s TES career, we lifted the two ring restriction so, yes, she wore a very effective combination of two rings of detect life and one with resist fire inside the Deadlands.

DE- Getting her magic severed by a Daedric spellcaster quite inflicted a déjà vu terror in Buffy’s heart. She vividly recalls that is exactly what led to her inability to prevent the mortal damage Savlian took during their final battle back at Kvatch. There, her potions had been crushed. Though there was no opportunity to describe it in this episode without breaking the flow, she now uses custom vials made of light mithril steel and never adventures without dispelling potions. So glad you got my Star Wars ‘force’ reference.

ghastley- Heh, I think Buffy’s choice to turn the atronach with fear, grab the sigil stone and flee was more that she could ‘smell the barn’ and anxious to exit the Deadlands. Knowing that pulling the sigil stone would kill any Daedra inside was just a bonus.

Rider- I well-remember Julian being a skilled warrior who gradually embraced magic to augment her traditional soldierly skills to good effect. I think Buffy’s lack of physical strength that causes her to eschew melee is what drove her to augment her bow with magic. After a couple failed attempts to teach Buffy to use a dagger, it was Daenlin who pointed her toward Kud-Ei and the guild of mages to increase her survivability.

Grits- Buffy (and her greaves) hates dangerous surprises so warding the sigil tower doors behind her seemed natural. Though Buffy tends to rely on her bow for actually delivering raw damage, she’ll readily admit that she could survive without her bow; she couldn’t survive without her magic. Her skill evolution is slow and gradual, but she has changed her primary self-perception from archer to mage.

Lopov- Buffy’s pretty creative with ‘utility’ spells like summoning hunting knives, feathering heavy items, lighting up dark areas, etc. Illusion is her primary school of magic and it proved its worth through most of the Deadlands. Against the dremora mage, however, it displayed its drawbacks of traveling slowly and not actually doing direct damage.


* * *

Episode 14


After bouncing once and rolling twice, I scrambled to my feet and gratefully inhaled Leyawiin’s cool damp air. By the time I had stuffed the sigil stone within my satchel to silence it and healed my bruises, Caelia Draconis was upon me.

“Thank Zenithar!” she exclaimed.

“How long?” I asked.

“You were in there over the middle of the day – about seven or eight hours.” Her face clouded. “Did you find any sign of Jovanah?”

I nodded solemnly as I produced the forester’s personal effects and gave them, along with the now empty waterskin I had borrowed, to Caelia. “You may truthfully pass along to the Legion and any family Jovanah had that she died bravely.”

“Thank you, Buffy.” She gazed at the steam rising from the broken gate’s flickering and glowing remnants for a long moment. “Once again, Leyawiin is in your debt. You mentioned you have business with Count Caro?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I’d appreciate any help you can provide arranging an audience. It involves martial assistance relating to the Oblivion Crisis, so you should attend as well.”

“Can it wait until tomorrow morning?” In response to my frown she continued, “Look, we’re both exhausted and need some cleaning up. . . actually, a lot of cleaning up. Besides, my hope is that by morning the White Stallion Knights will have that final gate closed. I’d like to have their knight commander at this meeting.”

“You’re right, Caelia,” I admitted.

“I’ll make the arrangements then,” she stated. “Will you require quarters at the castle?”

“No thank you,” I replied. “I’ll stay in the Mages Guildhall.”

“Fine. I’ll pick you up there midmorning on the morrow and escort you to the castle. That will give us the opportunity to privately discuss something you should know before we meet with Count Caro.”

“What might that be?” I lifted an eyebrow.

“The Count recently had Alessia Caro executed for treason.”

A score of questions swirled in my mind, but before any could reach my lips, Caelia held up a hand to stay my words and continued, “Like I said, there are things we need to discuss.” As a soldier approached, she added, “But this is not the time or place.”

“Captain?” The Imperial’s helmet was tucked between his arm and the singed fabric of his Leyawiin surcoat. The tired face was streaked with soot and his closely cropped hair bore flecks of gray.

“Dame Buffy,” said Caelia, “this is Ignatius Varro, my sergeant of the guard and second in command.”

“Pleased to meet you, Ignatius.”

Rather than shaking my offered hand, he formally touched the back of it to his lips. “I see Milady’s reputation as one of Leyawiin’s first knights is well deserved. Thank you for destroying this gate.”

“Report,” ordered Caelia, limiting the reply I could give Ignatius to what I hoped was a graciously humble smile.

“I’ve directed a withdrawal from this position and asked S’drassa to thank his guild for their assistance,” the soldier began. “Our guards are returning to the barracks to get themselves healed, fed and tend to their gear. I’d like to get them back into the semblance of a routine. A rider’s been dispatched to the knights dealing with that remaining open gate up north. He’ll notify them that this one’s been closed and remain there until he can bring us word of the final gate’s closure.”

“Outstanding job, Sergeant.” Caelia then turned back to me. “By your leave, Dame Buffy. I’ll call for you in the morning at your guild.”

She waited for me to nod, then the two soldiers turned and began walking toward the awaiting ferry. I watched their backs for a time as they talked and opened the distance from me.

Alone, under a gray afternoon sky, I gazed at my handiwork. The collapsed pillars of a closed Oblivion Gate were normally rather unremarkable stone that went cold as soon as the portal was closed. I noted, however, that the detritus of this one continued to mock the surrounding forest with an orange glow. Sigil stones were infused with a variety of effects, but I didn’t need to check the one in my satchel to know that its magic was fire. No matter how many vines the spriggans planted in the name of Kynareth to reclaim this patch of woods, the small flames that flickered from these rocks would likely take years to eventually die out.

“Superian, I need you,” I said. The combined spirit of mare and dragon stirred within me. A bluish white mist - the color of ancient glaciers and ice dragons – formed in my hand. As I opened my fingers, the vapor quickly expanded and solidified into the fully tacked up form of Superian. I hugged my precious mare’s neck and mounted. Kitsune appeared and, after circling my waist, settled into her spot between my hips and the saddle’s pommel.

We slowly rode the short distance to where the Yellow Road met the Niben, and didn’t mind waiting the few minutes it would take for the ferry to return.

*

After carefully examining my sigil stone the guild’s storekeeper, Alves Uvenim, opened a display case containing two others. The teeth-tingling discordant hum of three sigil stones forced both hands over my ears. When she quickly added mine and closed the case’s transparent cover, the noise blessedly stopped. As I lowered my hands, the Dunmer pointed at my stone through the clear barrier and emitted a low whistle. “That transcendent fire stone is worth a great deal.”

The amount of coin she then offered rendered my eyes likely the size of saucers. I managed to nod acceptance while finding my voice. “That’s much more than my traveling expenses require. Can you give me a hundred gold now and credit the rest to my guild account?”

“I think that’s a prudent choice, Buffy. According to the Black Horse Courier, the Legion cautions that the roads just aren’t safe anymore.”

She began counting out gold. “Did you hear about Countess Caro?”

“Yes,” I replied as Alves filled my silk coin purse. “Captain Draconis will call for me in the morning and has promised to share more details of the lady’s fate during our walk to the castle.”

“I couldn’t wish such an end on anyone, but part of me wouldn’t blame our local Khajiit and Argonian friends if they held a celebration.” She dropped in the last coin. “Is there anything else you need?”

I stowed the purse in my satchel, then glanced down over buckskins that were streaked with black soot and white dried sweat. I was pretty sure my face and hair looked no better. “A bath, and rather badly I should think.”

“Oh, you’ll love the new tub Agata had installed downstairs! I hope to see you later at dinner.” Slender blue-green hands opened the top drawer of her sales counter and began rummaging among the parchments and journals within. “Now, where’d I put my quill?”

I suppressed a giggle as I realized the long feather nestled in her dark hair was not a fashion statement. “Is that it behind your left ear?”

“Welcome back to Leyawiin, Buffy.” The interruption came from behind, but I recognized the Nordic voice as that of the deputy guildmagister.

Smiling, I turned. “Thank you, Agata. I hope to stay for a day, perhaps up to three.”

“That’ll be fine. Boderi Farano sent word by courier dove to expect you. I’ve assigned you Kalthar’s old bed downstairs for your stay.” She looked me over then wrinkled her nose. “You need a bath, Journeyman.”

“Yes, Agata.”

Posted by: SubRosa Mar 18 2020, 01:47 PM

Thank Zenitor!

The Countess has been executed for treason? Wow, did not see that coming. I suspect the plot might be thickening indeed!

It looks like Buffy might be richer than Zenithar now.

I hope Kalthar's old bed has had a bath as well!

Posted by: haute ecole rider Mar 18 2020, 04:51 PM

Countess Caro executed?? blink.gif blink.gif

Julian asks: How does this affect Count Caro's relationship with Countess Arriana Valga, the Countess Caro's mother?

I admit I had that relationship in the back of my mind as I wrote the relevant chapters of OHDH and made a (so far unkept) promise to myself to explore it further in potential sequels . . .

And a Bath! In the GUILD HALL?? My my the Leyawiin Chapter is moving up!


Posted by: ghastley Mar 18 2020, 05:30 PM

Is it really a bath, or did one corner get flooded? biggrin.gif

I don't really remember what was down there before, but It did look like a rebuild was in order.

Posted by: macole Mar 18 2020, 05:52 PM

Well that was a shocker. Waiting to hear what was reason behind the treason. Surely it has to be more than some dinner party gone wrong.

Posted by: Lopov Mar 24 2020, 09:40 AM

What a twist! I didn't expect that Countess Caro would be executed, and by her own husband at that. I'm curious what's behind it all.

I'm glad I read this story "late", else I'd be too curious over the week. We're in for a treat tomorrow.

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Mar 24 2020, 07:13 PM

"Getting her magic severed by a Daedric spellcaster quite inflicted a déjà vu terror in Buffy’s heart. She vividly recalls that is exactly what led to her inability to prevent the mortal damage Savlian took during their final battle back at Kvatch."

Well that certainly stirred up some heavy emotions. That must be a terrible feeling indeed!

Buffy's has been away for quite awhile. Time does flow differently in Oblivion.

It was appropriately Buffy to decide to stay in the Mages Guildhall rather than the castle chambers. Much more fitting for her, and I'm sure she feels more comfortable in familiar settings and company, given her great history with the Mages Guild.

I like how Buffy realizes that though nature will take its course and things will return to normal, the otherworldly stain of Oblivion will last as a terrible reminder of the Crisis.

Buffy's honor and humbleness is not unnoticed here, too. She did right to share the substantial amount of gold with the hall. I chuckled at her comment about the beastfolk possibly praising the fate of Alessia Caro, which came as a shocker. But considering her very strong feelings regarding race, I don't blame them either.

I'm excited for Buffy, even in something as simple as a bath. This is the first thing to do coming back from an Oblivion realm. Raven can testify laugh.gif

Posted by: Grits Mar 24 2020, 08:21 PM

“Thank Zenithar!” she exclaimed.

Neat! You don’t often hear people invoking Zenithar, but of course that’s whose chapel stands over Leyawiin. Nice.

Along with Buffy and I’m sure every other reader, I am curious about Alessia Caro’s execution!

Ooo, Kalthar’s lair quarters got a makeover. I’m looking forward to seeing the renovations. I think a Nord mage would install a good bath tub!

Posted by: Acadian Mar 25 2020, 12:48 PM

Previously- Buffy was greeted by Leyawiin’s guard force as she bounced back to Nirn with sigil stone in hand. She reported finding the corpse of Leyawiin’s forester inside the Deadlands. Captain Draconis agreed to arrange a meeting with Count Caro in the morning. The Captain then informed Buffy that Count Caro had recently had his Countess executed for treason and promised to provide more details when she escorted Buffy to the castle in the morning. Buffy then went to the mages guild to clean up and spend the night.

*

All- I figured Countess Alessia’s execution for treason would be a surprise since, of course, it quite departs from what happens in game. Unfortunately, Buffy will dally in the mages guildhall (as she often does) for one more episode before Captain Draconis can fill her in on what happened. The implications of Alessia’s execution will emotionally challenge Buffy’s dealings with Count Caro and, later, with Count Terentius in Bravil.

SubRosa- Gosh, it seems so long ago that Kalthar met his end at Buffy’s hand! We figured that invoking Zenitor is better than Skeletor. tongue.gif

Rider- I’m glad you asked about the reaction of Alessia’s mother to the news of her daughter’s execution - the answer is in the episode after today’s.

ghastley- In today’s episode, Buffy will tell you more about the guild’s bathing pool.

macole- I hope the reason for Alessia’s execution will ring true and reasonable as it gets revealed in a couple episodes.

Lopov- An unexpected twist indeed. I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers but it just worked out that way here. I must apologize further for not revealing the reason for Alessia's execution until next week’s episode. Hopefully, today’s episode will prove worthy in its own right.

DE- You are right about Buffy and the Mages Guild. Though she does not feel bound to it, she does identify more closely with them than any other organization. Buffy had the extra gold deposited in her personal account with the guild – not donated to them. We will see her generosity with it though very much later in the book when we learn that her extra gold goes to Kvatch to support its rebuilding.

Grits- I agree that, since Leyawiin hosts the Chapel of Zenithar, it would be nice to reflect that in some of the local interactions. I think you’ll be pleased with how we transformed the guild’s basement to include a welcoming bathing area.

* * *

Episode 15


“S’drassa,” I asked, “may I use some of your equipment?”

“Of course,” replied the alchemist without looking up from a gently bubbling alembic, “so long as you clean up after yourself. This one must continue to tend his brewing. After that Oblivion Gate, the guild’s stock of healing potions is alarmingly low.”

“I’m not surprised. I know Captain Draconis’ soldiers certainly appreciate such help from the guild.” I dug ingredients out of my magic satchel and began grinding then mixing. Before long, my concoction was ready and I poured the result into a vial.

S’drassa finally looked up from his own work and asked, “What have we made today, Buffy? A multi-effect potion? Or perhaps a deadly poison for your bow?”

“Oh, nothing so exotic,” I replied. “I’m embarrassed to say that I somehow left my hair conditioner back at the University and I quite favor a recipe that Ardaline and I developed years ago.”

“Ah yes, the young alchemist with the Bravil chapter,” commented S’drassa. “Though Khajiiti fur requires little more than a good diet and the occasional tongue bathing to remain sleek, this one is always interested in learning more about the mixtures used his furless colleagues to care for their manes. Would you share your recipe?”

“Of course,” I replied as I cleaned up the equipment I had just used. “It contains just a touch of ectoplasm, along with some rosemary oil and aloe vera; those items provide for the actual conditioning. I then add some glow dust for shine. Lastly, when making a batch for my own use, a pinch of finely ground bergamot for a nice citrus scent.”

“An interesting combination, and one that makes sense. This one thanks you for sharing it and hopes to see you at dinner later.”

“I hope so as well but,” I added with a sheepish grin, “as you can certainly see and likely smell, a bath to wash away the Deadlands must be my next stop. In fact I’m heading downstairs to the bathing pool straightaway. Thanks for letting me use your alchemy tools, S’drassa.”

I followed the soft sounds of gurgling water as I made my way to the bottom of a wooden staircase. The guild’s basement was comfortably warm and lit by an inviting combination of wall-mounted fire braziers and Ayleid glow stones. Adorning the stone walls were beautiful tapestries and paintings of southern Cyrodiil’s weeping trees, bright deserts of Elsweyr, and the brooding swamps of Black Marsh. I continued across an eclectic collection of exotic scatter rugs from all over Tamriel that covered most of the stone tiles until I stood by the guild’s bathing pool.

The water's surface was flush with the floor and there was a knee-high ledge all the way around its square perimeter. It was large enough to comfortably accommodate Superian – or more realistically half a dozen mages. A brief study of the stone bath revealed it was quite similar to the one in Bravil’s guildhall. Natural flow of the Niben ensured that old water was quickly and continuously purged and replaced by fresh. Heat stones to maintain a high temperature were incorporated into the hidden passage that carried incoming water.

I wasted little time stowing my bow and quiver, then stripping out of my buckskins. Retrieving vials of soap, shampoo and the new batch of conditioner from my satchel, I arranged them on the edge of the pool. I then slid into the deliciously warm water. After washing my hair and body, I ducked underwater to rinse. Perching on the underwater sitting ledge, I leaned back against the warm stone and relaxed, luxuriating almost weightlessly in the feeling of Aetherius on Nirn.

“Greetings, Acadian. How does the evening find you and your young elf?”

The voice and salutation it carried could have only come from one mer. I opened my eyes to see Leyawiin’s guildmagister drop her gown and slide into the water. She sat comfortably at the other side of the pool. I simply smiled as Acadian’s voice quietly filled the air around us. “We are well, Dagail, and it has been too long.”

The mer loosened and lowered long gray hair to flow around her shoulders. “I am pleased that you have developed the ability to speak in your current form, old paladin. Buffy, tell me what brings the two of you who are one to Leyawiin?”

Dagail had recognized the duality that was Acadian and I from the moment I met her while pursuing recommendations to enter the University. Later, she had imparted the magic that helped Acadian augment his telepathic communication with spoken word. I replied, “It’s good to see you again, Guildmagister. Boderi Farano has sent me here on behalf of the Arch Mage to solicit assistance from Count Leyawiin relating to the Oblivion Crisis.”

“Crises come and go,” she replied, “but I sense Dame Boderi has given you a personal quest as well?”

The use of Boderi’s title did not escape me. “She has asked me to consider joining her as a Knight Arcana.”

“And you are hoping one of the Nine deigns to sponsor you as a paladin,” stated Dagail.

“I greatly value any advice you have, Guildmagister, as I am a very confused elf. I mean, which Divine should I petition? I was raised in Mara’s city, but Acadian was a champion of Kyne. Sirs Mazoga and Agronak are Knights of the White Stallion like me but serve a Priest of Akatosh. The Blades associate with Talos, and Boderi – the only paladin besides Acadian that I know - was chosen by Julianos. To make matters worse, none of the Divines even talk to me! Even Azura talks to me, and-“

“Let me see your hand,” interrupted Dagail. I moved close enough for the older Bosmer to examine my palm. She studied it for a few moments before calmly declaring, “There is no confusion among the Nine, child. You are on the correct path. When the time is right, your destination will become clear.” Dagail released my hand, leaned her head back against the stone and closed her eyes. “I grow weary now. Let me rest.”

“Forgive me, Magister,” I said softly. “I’m not very good when it comes to patience. Or trusting in things I cannot see, hear or feel. I appreciate your wisdom and encouragement.”

I climbed out of the warm pool and summoned a towel. After drying off and combing conditioner through my hair, I donned a russet felt dress with matching slippers. The pile of buckskins on the floor needed both cleaning and subsequent treating to retain their supple softness, but my growling stomach insisted those chores could wait until after dinner. I headed for the guild’s dining room.


Posted by: Renee Mar 25 2020, 03:38 PM

QUOTE
The teeth-tingling discordant hum of three sigil stones forced both hands over my ears.


I've always liked this noise, but I bet it's a lot louder and even painful to listen to from their perspective.

I am in shock like the others. Countess Caro has been executed. Goodness. I mean, she always was a rather sordid sort of character. In a way, although you do not practice dead-is-dead, in a way you do. Not with Buffy herself, and not really with Caro (she is part of the story) but I notice over the years there have been various NPCs who have not been resurrected. DiD applies to NPCs too. I know you have used the console to bring certain people back (such as stablehands) but I have come across some old posts in which you also did not use Resurrect 1.

laugh.gif She's making hair conditioner. laugh.gif In all seriousness, if we're considering Elder Scrolls to be based upon Medieval fantasy, the use of various oils has been documented as hair conditioners ever since ancient Egypt. Surely Buffy is going for something which adds luster and strength, here. It's not so much like typical modern conditioners packed full of synthetic detergents.

Aw, she's wearing the russet outfit after bathing. Does she still change clothes frequently? Does she still make herself invisible so she can change clothes in public?

Posted by: SubRosa Mar 25 2020, 04:11 PM

I still love Buffy's ethereal hair products. Much better than putting quicklime in your hair like the Celts used to do! ohmy.gif

It is nice to see Dagail as herself, now that she has her amulet, or her father's amulet I believe.

It sounds like Buffy is not a doctor, so she does not have any patience... wink.gif

Dagail seems to be quite assured that things are going as they ought to concerning Buffy's future. So that is a good sign. I suppose Buffy and the rest of us will have to just wait and see what shakes out.

Posted by: Darkness Eternal Mar 27 2020, 02:33 PM

Alchemy goes a long way in perilous times like these, where potions are very essential in the fight against the Daedra. And of course in cosmetics! Those ingredients make for an interesting conditioner indeed. She sure takes care of herself! I can imagine the relief of washing away the stains of the Deadlands!

I enjoyed the details of bath; its so interesting how it works. I've often wondered how folks in a magical world such as the Elder Scrolls bathe. Thankfully ESO showed us different things. You provided much depth even in the day-to-day things.

Great words of wisdom as Dagail confirms that Buffy is on the right path. Great advice!

Posted by: SubRosa Mar 27 2020, 08:11 PM

Maybe Buffy should try to put some mayonnaise in her hair. I heard some actresses like Blake Lively do that to get a really glossy shine to it.

Posted by: ghastley Mar 27 2020, 08:15 PM

QUOTE(SubRosa @ Mar 27 2020, 03:11 PM) *

Maybe Buffy should try to put some mayonnaise in her hair. I heard some actresses like Blake Lively do that to get a really glossy shine to it.

Shhh! If Buffy knew that Mayo could substitute for Ectoplasm, then she wouldn't deal with all the ghosties for us. biggrin.gif

Posted by: Lopov Mar 30 2020, 12:01 PM

Too bad that the conditioner can't be summoned too! laugh.gif

A bath with wise Dagail and some obligatory future-reading at hand.

A lot of things are going on in Buffy's life simultaneously, maybe a relaxing conversation with Dagail was just, what she needed.

Posted by: Grits Mar 31 2020, 07:03 PM

Hair glop is an essential, I’m glad that Buffy didn’t have to go without!

Oh, what a perfectly magical bathing pool! The whole room invites relaxation. I love that Dagail addressed Acadian as she entered, and now he is able to answer for himself.

The russet felt dress made me smile, a nice reminder of the game. happy.gif

Posted by: Acadian Apr 1 2020, 12:51 PM

Previously- While Buffy was enjoying a much needed hot bath in Leyawiin’s mages guildhall, she was joined by Dagail. The mysterious old guildmagister had always been able to sense the duality of Buffy and Acadian and greeted them both. She was somehow aware of Dame Boderi’s suggestion that Buffy consider trying to become a paladin, and offered her own cryptic encouragement.

*

Renee- Regarding that sigil stone noise, Buffy’s big ears are not just for looks. tongue.gif We’ll find out why Count Caro had his Countess executed in today’s episode. Buffy shared her hair conditioner recipe with us way back in Book 1 and I couldn’t resist reviewing it again. Ha! Yes, she still occasionally disappears long enough to change clothes unseen.

SubRosa- Elder Scrolls ingredient creations are fun to dream up! And they hopefully help render Buffy’s world more alive and believable. Dagail is neat to write since she feels no obligation to explain the abundant mystery surrounding her and is too old to care what others think. Her reassurance that Buffy is ‘on the right path’ is of some comfort to the confused younger elf though.

DE- I hated to delay spilling the beans on why Alessia Caro was executed but Buffy wanted to linger over cleaning up after closing that Oblivion Gate and I wanted her reminded of Boderi’s suggestion that Buffy consider trying to become a paladin. Calia will tell Buffy what happened to Alessia in today’s episode.

ghastley- Buffy used to hunt Azhklan trolls to fill empty grand soul gems with their dying residual magicka. She learned as a result that troll fat brings a good price, since many women use it in their hair and skin care products due to its regenerative and moisturizing properties. wink.gif

Lopov- Hee! Buffy’s found that summoning mundane things works best for temporary items that she can use, then conveniently dispose of as the summon dissipates. Bath towels, handkerchiefs and hunting knives are perfect examples. I suppose summoning could perhaps work for soap or shampoo, but Buffy wants the residual of her hair conditioner to remain in her hair until the next time she washes it. A good thought though and you’ve inspired Buffy to work on a summoning spell for her boar bristle and bamboo toothbrush that Daenlin fletched for her.

Grits- As is so often the case, I must thank you for insightfully mentioning the things in this quiet episode that I hoped would stand out. happy.gif

* * *

Episode 16


The next morning, after a small plate of venison sausage with grilled vegetables, I was enjoying some hot hibiscus tea as I chatted with my Leyawiin guildmates around the breakfast table. With a sweet roll poised midway between plate and mouth, I heard the soft jingle of mail armor – a noise not oft heard in the halls of mages. Placing the uneaten pastry on Agata’s plate with a wink, I rose to my feet. The sound grew closer until I heard S’drassa’s raspy voice. “Has the Captain yet broken her fast this morning?”

“Yes, I ate with the oncoming morning watch, thank you,” replied Captain Caelia Draconis as she strode into the dining room accompanied by the tan-robed Khajiit. “Good morning, magisters. I’m here to escort Dame Buffy to the castle.” She was a far cry from the soot-smudged and exhausted guard commander who had left me at the closed Oblivion Gate the afternoon prior. Caelia was now parade crisp, with every hair perfectly restrained in place and a spotless Leyawiin surcoat over the gleaming links of her mail. The arming sword of a Legion officer rode at one hip and an oval city shield was secured to her back by a leather guige.

As I retrieved and shouldered my bow and quiver, I remarked, “You look quite impressive this morning.”

She looked me over slowly as I stood there in my clean buckskins with a waist sash of forest green silk that hosted my magic satchel. My hair was neatly pulled back into a high ponytail. Her inspection ended at my eyes and was accompanied by an approving nod. “Shall we be off then, My Lady?”

I grinned. “Certainly, My Captain.”

On our way to the door, she remarked, “You’ll be pleased to know it’s a beautiful day out.”

“I know,” I replied. “Watching the sun’s first rays highlight the detritus of Dagon’s closed portal outside your northeast gate was bittersweet.”

“You’ve already been out of the city today?” she asked, giving me a sideways glance.

“Yes. I couldn’t resist an early ride. There are few things I enjoy more than watching the sunrise from astride my mare.”

Once outside, we began our trek to the castle. Long morning shadows contrasted sharply with patches of brilliant sunshine that bathed the still lightly populated streets and ivy covered buildings. The sounds of busily buzzing insects reached my long ears, as did the cheerful notes of songbirds as they greeted the day. A light breeze carried the perfumes of domica redwort, lavender and tiger lily. I prompted Caelia, “You said you would tell me more about why Lady Alessia was executed.”

“Not long ago,” she began, “I awoke just in time to deflect the dagger of a Bosmeri assassin in my own quarters. We wrestled to the floor where I managed to turn her blade and force it into her chest. Given her dark shrouded armor and manner of attack we assessed her to be an operative for the Dark Brotherhood.”

“Thank Mara you awoke and were able to subdue her!” I exclaimed.

'Do you understand now, my relief when you walked away from a still breathing Rufio and did not seal Lucien LaChance’s offer?' Acadian’s silent words struck a chord in my heart.

I all too clearly recalled struggling with dark feelings while glaring at the cowering Rufio over the tip of my arrow. I ultimately stepped back from the precipice of killing for hire, contenting myself with immobilizing the man in a manner that only a priest could reverse. I was later pleased to learn that, thanks to the evidence I had gathered and left behind, and Rufio’s inability to flee, he had been arrested and imprisoned. I had friends in the Legion who assured me that those who raped and murdered young girls did not fare well in the Imperial Prison. Though I could have certainly justified killing Rufio, had I loosed that arrow my path would now be much different. How long would it have been before the ‘loving family’ promised by Lucien Lachance sent me to kill fine Legion officers like the one who now walked beside me? I rubbed my arms to give plausible blame to Leyawiin’s cool morning air for the shudder that rippled through me. “Who on Nirn would want to see you killed, Caelia?” The words had already escaped my mouth before I remembered the subject of our conversation. “No! I mean, I remember that Alessia had a foul streak of racial superiority in her heart but. . . why would she want you murdered? You’re an Imperial like her.”

Caelia’s head snapped my way as she pinned me with her eyes. “No! I am proudly Imperial to be sure, but nothing like her. As guard commander for this city, I see Leyawiin citizens - not humans, mer or betmer. My very refusal to persecute citizens for being born with tails, tusks or pointed ears is what made me an impediment to Alessia’s plans.”

“Forgive me, Caelia, I did not mean-“

With a shake of her head, she interrupted, “It was but a few days into our investigation of the incident when Alessia tried to co-opt my sergeant of the guard. She wanted him to present falsified documents to the Count, linking me to the cause of the Renrijra Krin.”

“Are they not a band of Khajiit rebels who act in defiance of the Mane and seek to claim Leyawiin County as part of Elsweyr? If such charges were true, I’d imagine the Count would relieve you from command and recommend your dismissal from the Legion. Or worse.”

“Exactly,” spat Caelia. “She not only promised the sergeant my position, but offered him treasure from her purse and skirts as well.” One hand involuntarily flew up to my mouth as she continued, “Alessia overlooked, however, that Ignatius Varro was cut from the same cloth as the man who trained him - Lucilius Marcus.”

My rueful smile matched Caelia’s. Lucilius was one of the finest soldiers I’d ever met. He had served as Caelia’s senior sergeant before she transferred him to Kvatch where he became Savlian Matius’ second in command. After my hero’s death, Lucilius had been promoted to guard commander of Kvatch.

“Ignatius promptly reported the matter to me and I took my suspicions to Count Caro.”

“You risked reporting this to the woman’s own husband?” I asked.

She nodded. “I’ve known the Count since long before his unfortunate marriage to the attractive, but darkly ambitious Alessia. I believed that his bond of duty to this city would cause him to do the right thing – regardless of personal cost.” After a half smile, she added, “That said, I am not stupid. Had he ordered me thrown into irons, he would have been hard pressed to find one of my soldiers willing to carry out the order. And Ignatius was prepared to take our preliminary findings to Legion headquarters without further direction from me, if necessary.”

“Well,” I said, “it would seem you were right about Count Caro’s sense of duty.”

“Fortunately so,” she replied. “After we discussed the matter, he authorized a search of the Countess’ personal effects. Hidden therein we discovered paraphernalia associated with the Night Mother ritual, along with a small vial that your guild's alchemist subsequently confirmed was filled with a deadly elixir. We also found Alessia’s diary detailing plans to have me assassinated and the Count poisoned. Once those of us who could interfere with her ambitions were eliminated, she expected to become sole ruler of Leyawiin. When confronted with the evidence, she began ranting about ‘tail draggers, knife ears and tuskers infecting her county’. The Count found his bride guilty of treason and had her put to the guillotine the next day.”

We walked without words for a few moments. Caelia lifted an arm to move aside a low hanging willow branch that obstructed our approach to a small bridge. The banks of the pond we passed over hosted ferns, reeds and the yellow heads of bog beacon. Near the surface of the dark water I could see the bright gold scales and white fins of large carp-like fish as they ventured near the surface, hunting for unwary dragonflies. Finally, my anger toward Alessia caused me to break the silence. “What a terrible choice her hateful ambitions forced upon Count Caro!”

Caelia nodded her agreement. “We included a full copy of my investigation with the Count’s letter of condolence to Alessia’s mother, Countess Valga of Chorrol. To the lady’s credit, her measured reply acknowledged that noble birth did not exempt her daughter from the law.”

“That speaks well of Countess Valga,” I offered. “How is Count Caro holding up?”

“Stoically on the outside, but I know that giving the order to have Alessia executed broke his heart.” Caelia’s fist struck the head of the white horse emblazoned on her chest as she returned the gesture of one of her guards standing duty ahead of us. The young soldier then pulled open a heavy door to Castle Leyawiin’s great hall and we stepped inside.

Posted by: SubRosa Apr 1 2020, 08:22 PM

Oh no, did someone nearly steal Buffy's sweetroll? Divines forbid!

Both the Lady and the Captain clean up pretty well.

It is just like Buffy to be out and riding before anyone else even wakes up.

I wonder if that assassin might have been someone Buffy knew? I am glad you took us down a brief stroll down memory lane, to the found family that Buffy nearly had, but wisely turned away from. There but for the grace of Mara we all go.

And now the story behind the execution of the Countess unfolds. Such a sad tale. Prejudice comes from fear, and decisions made from fear are never wise. Poor Count. I imagine he will have trouble ever trusting anyone ever again.

Posted by: haute ecole rider Apr 2 2020, 12:18 AM

Well, you seem more charitable toward Count Caro than I did! laugh.gif I was pleased, however, to see that your thoughts regarding his wife mirror mine in so many ways. And the tale Captain Caelia unfolded during that leisurely walk across town was not surprising to me at all.

All in all, a very enjoyable two chapters. I can’t wait until next week’s episode!

Posted by: macole Apr 2 2020, 04:06 AM

Beauty fades and the sweetest nectar sours with age. Poor Lady Alessia, c'est la vie.

Who knows, perhaps the Count was looking for an excuse to redecorate the castle?

Posted by: Lopov Apr 2 2020, 07:50 PM

What a thrilling story behind the death of the Countess Caro. You pulled this brilliantly, Acadian. I had no idea before reading the story, what would be the reason of her execution, but I definitely didn't think that even the Dark Brotherhood would be involved.

I must ask however, because I didn't read Book 1...to get asked to kill Rufio, Buffy must have killed before? Who was it? Was it by accident? You can link me to the original story, if it's not too much to ask.

Posted by: Renee Apr 6 2020, 05:41 PM

Okay good. I am glad Alessia's execution gets explained. Otherwise I'd have to bug you with n00by questions! Like, maybe the reason got explained long ago in the first Buffy book, but i was not around back in those days.

Oh my gosh. indifferent.gif So she had a bunch of notes and poisons and everything! Not to mention I believe she was the one in charge of that

Posted by: SubRosa Apr 6 2020, 06:21 PM

QUOTE(Renee @ Apr 6 2020, 12:41 PM) *

Okay good. I am glad Alessia's execution gets explained. Otherwise I'd have to bug you with n00by questions! Like, maybe the reason got explained long ago in the first Buffy book, but i was not around back in those days.

Oh my gosh. indifferent.gif So she had a bunch of notes and poisons and everything! Not to mention I believe she was the one in charge of that

The spoiler was her husband. He has the key for that room, not her.

Posted by: Acadian Apr 8 2020, 12:32 PM

Previously- During their walk to Castle Leyawiin to meet with Count Caro, Captain Caelia Draconis explained to Buffy the details of Countess Alessia Caro’s treachery and why the Count was forced to have her executed for treason.

*

SubRosa- I enjoyed being able to weave Buffy’s rejection of the DB back into her story. We’ll see that though the Count knows he made the right decision, it still broke his heart. I expect the lesson he’ll learn is don’t marry someone hoping to change their nature.

Rider- As you know, the game drops clues that the Count was not so noble himself, but in Buffy’s story, he is what I hope the next two episodes show him to be: Imperfect but, on balance, worthy of his title.

macole- I think the Count was blinded by love and wishful thinking regarding Alessia. Thankfully, duty to his county prevailed and he made the right call when it was required.

Lopov- Buffy assassinated Erana - a mage in Chorrol who posed an ongoing mortal threat to Buffy. It happened fairly early in Book 1. I just reread it myself and found her chat with Acadian afterwards to be rather prophetic, I hope you agree. Here is a http://chorrol.com/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=4516&view=findpost&p=118848 to that episode.

Renee- Alessia really was evil. Marius Caro (in Buffy Fiction) actually does want the best for his county and is worthy of his title. Though his heart is good, he is neither perfect nor a pillar of strength. He is naïve and idealistic enough to believe he could change Alessia and it truly broke his heart that he could not ‘fix’ her. Buffy is predisposed to a favorable opinion of the Count because his knighting of Sir Mazoga was instrumental in giving noble purpose to the angry unguided orc’s life. I hope the next two episodes Buffy spends with the Count help reinforce our view of him and how it varies from what one sees in the game.

* * *

Episode 17

Emerald banners hung from the lofty ceiling as Captain Draconis and I strode through Castle Leyawiin’s great hall and into the throne room. Fire bowls mounted on short stone columns crackled and hissed softly, just as I remembered. At the end of the green carpet stretched before us were two thrones. One sat empty while the other hosted Count Marius Caro dressed in black and gold finery.

We both stopped four paces short of the balding Imperial and bowed. Caelia reported, “Milord, I bring you Dame Buffy.”

The Count looked weary, but his smile was warm. “Welcome back, Buffy. Our errant knight has not graced this court for far too long. Caelia informs me that Leyawiin is once again in your debt, this time for single-handedly closing an Oblivion Gate just outside our walls.”

“I am pleased to see his lordship again and humbled by his kind words.”

The staccato of boots on stone tile reached my ears. The Count gazed beyond me toward the sound. I turned to see a knight approaching. As he reached the length of carpet leading to the twin thrones, the click of his boots softened. I could now clearly hear the sounds of well-fitted plate armor as it moved with each stride.

Numerous dents, several burn marks and generous streaks of soot and blood, could not disguise the fact that the silver-gray panoply he wore was of the finest quality. If cleaned up and repaired, the exquisite set of heavy plate would likely be worth more than a small house or fine horse. A matching full helm was tucked under his left arm and temporarily hosted the knight’s gauntlets. The ornate handle of a great sword protruded above one shoulder, hinting at its quality.

Disheveled black hair streaked with gray framed the Nibenean Imperial’s face. In the lines of his olive skin were written more than half the years of a human lifespan. An old scar ran prominently from just below one eye across the bridge a nose that would have been aristocratic if not marred by the evidence of being broken at least once.

The man bowed. “Forgive my appearance, Milord. We have but recently closed the last Oblivion Gate plaguing your city.” The voice resonated with a culture and tone suggestive of both authority and a noble heritage.

“Sir Flavius, your bloody badges of service to Leyawiin bring no dishonor to this court,” replied the Count. His gaze then returned to me. “Dame Buffy, I asked the Order of the White Stallion’s Knight Commander to join us this morning.”

I turned to the senior knight, dipped my head slightly and offered my hand. “I’m honored to meet you, Sir Flavius.”

He elegantly touched the back of my hand to his lips. “Decimus Flavius Aquilinus, humbled to be at your service, Dame Buffy.”

“Buffy,” resumed the count, “shortly after Mazoga and Agronak left Leyawiin to assist you at Kvatch, I contracted Sir Flavius to serve as knight commander. He’s capably brought the Order through an expansion of both its numbers and lodge.”

“I saw the new facility as my ship sailed past it on the way here,” I remarked. “Very impressive.”

“Milord,” protested Sir Flavius, “I have several wounded knights being tended in the chapel, and little time for pleasantries.”

Marius Caro lifted an eyebrow peevishly. “And the priests healing them require your personal supervision?”

The knight’s dark eyes flashed for but a moment before a look of granite-like discipline recaptured his chiseled features. “Forgive my impatience, Milord.”

Count Leyawiin’s face softened visibly. “Be at ease, Flavius, I know your heart is with your knights. They are in good hands with the Priests of Zenithar.” He looked at me. “My guard commander could only tell me that your business in Leyawiin involves the Oblivion Crisis.”

“Milord, I would humbly ask that only your ears and those of Captain Draconis and Sir Flavius hear the message I bring.”

The Count glanced at his bodyguard and nodded. Once the steward, footman, two maids and even the soldiers guarding the throne room had withdrawn, I began, “I bring you greetings, Milord, and a dire request from the next Emperor of Cyrodiil.”

“What manner of treachery is this?” exclaimed Sir Flavius. “Is the Septim line not dead? Who would presume to usurp the throne?”

“Silence, Flavius!” The Count’s rebuke echoed throughout the throne room. He gazed at the empty throne to his left. “I know treachery when I see it!” His angry eyes then pinned the armored knight. “Buffy’s integrity and service to Leyawiin, like your own, are above reproach. When last I met with the Elder Council, they quietly alluded to a surviving Septim heir in exile.”

“This outspoken knight,” replied Flavius, “must once again ask forgiveness for his rash and ill-considered words.” The Nibenean’s eyes traveled from the Count to me. “I beg pardons, Milord, Milady.”

Count Caro replied, “That you readily voice your opinions with frankness is an attribute I prize, Flavius, but stay them for a time. I am eager to hear what news Buffy brings from this exiled emperor-in-waiting.” He motioned me to continue.

“There is indeed a surviving Septim whose veins carry the blood of a dragon. His request is for urgently needed forces to reinforce the city of Bruma. As you may be aware, the Amulet of Kings was . . . .”

I proceeded to carefully, and without further interruption, detail how Martin’s desperate plan to recover the stolen Amulet of Kings would expose Bruma to the grave dangers of a Great Oblivion Gate preceded by the opening of several smaller portals to the Deadlands.

“. . . so as you can see, the need to reinforce Bruma is dire. Once Martin has the amulet, he will lead his army to The Imperial City, claim his throne and relight the dragonfires - permanently closing the jaws of Oblivion. In conclusion, Milord, I’ve been authorized to add that Martin Septim, when Emperor, will not forget the loyalty of those nobles who assisted Bruma in her time of need.”

For several moments, the only sound was the gentle hiss and crackling of the nearby fire bowls as Count Caro contemplated his steepled fingers. Finally, he spoke. “I am aware of the devastation that a Great Gate inflicted upon the city of Kvatch. Leyawiin herself could have been brought to her knees by the recent opening of numerous nearby Oblivion Gates, were it not for the intervention of courageous knights and the steadfast diligence of our guard force. Bruma shall have what help I can provide.” He lifted an eyebrow and gazed, in turn, at the two warriors flanking me.

“My knights are well suited for this task and can travel quickly, Milord,” began Sir Flavius. “Leyawiin still faces numerous threats requiring the presence of its brave soldiers and able commander. I would like to leave two knights behind and, with Captain Draconis’ permission, detail them to her should another portal to the Deadlands open and she deems their experienced assistance appropriate. It will take us two days to recover from wounds to the flesh and damage to both armor and weaponry sustained during the recent closing of several Oblivion Gates. Nevertheless, when we do ride north, it will be with a score of ready knights and the speed of heavy white horses.”

The Count’s eyes sought Caelia’s. “What says my guard commander?”

“Sir Flavius has the right of it, Milord,” she replied. “Our citizens still need protecting from day-to-day crime and the nearby roads must be kept free of Black Bow Bandits and other brigands. The political instability brought on by this crisis, and Leyawiin’s unique geography, leave us vulnerable to cross-border raids from Elsweyr or Black Marsh if we are perceived as under-defended. It is now clear why Guildmistress Vilena Donton ordered Leyawiin’s Fighters Guild to Bruma. With most of our knights gone as well, retaining the guard force here is most prudent. I gratefully accept Sir Flavius’ generous offer of two knights to augment my soldiers’ ability to close an Oblivion Gate if required.”

“So be it,” pronounced the Count. “Sir Flavius, return to your knights. Convey my appreciation for their valiant recent efforts. May the Divines speed your preparations to ride north and protect the Knights of the White Stallion as they assist Bruma.” He then addressed Caelia, “Thank you, as ever, for your wise council. Please advise my bodyguard on your way out that I would have words privately with Dame Buffy.”

Posted by: haute ecole rider Apr 8 2020, 06:40 PM

Hrrm, that went rather better than Julian's visit to the same Count! tongue.gif I do see Count Leyawiin in a somewhat better light than the Countess, and I still do have ideas how things shake down after the Crisis. I just see him as being overly cautious and waiting to see what happens before he decides which side of the fence to jump.

I find myself enjoying the introduction of the Commander of the Knights of the White Stallion. A proper Imperial, to boot! I'm wondering about his past experiences - Legion, mercenary, otherwise? I am content to wait and see where this author chooses to take us in this story, and whether or not we learn more about Commander Flavius Aquinius.

Posted by: SubRosa Apr 8 2020, 07:55 PM

Sir Flavius looks like the real deal. Warrior and aristocrat in one slightly dented package. He instantly reminds me of Savlian Matius. Or Pappy Vitellus from Bravil (except with manners).

That was a lively war council! I enjoyed your portrayal of all the characters, who bring both their passions and professionalism to the table.




Nits?:
just [as] I remembered.
I think you missed the "as" where I inserted it above.




Posted by: Darkness Eternal Apr 9 2020, 01:20 AM

It was wise of Buffy not get herself involved with the Dark Brotherhood and their sadist organization. I read that http://chorrol.com/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=4516&view=findpost&p=119082! I applaud her for staying true to her beliefs, and her decision spared her what could've been a lifetime of regret and something one can never walk back from.

Ah, so what led Lady Caro to her execution was her own murderous plots which didn't work out so well. Can't say anyone will shed a tear over her death, all things considering. Again, it was good to see Buffy recalling past events earlier in her story, which was no doubt very significant and important for her.

Sir Flavius is an interesting character, an-all true Imperial by name, attitude and looks! I have to say the dialogue is superb, and it flows well. I've enjoyed the exchange between Flavius, Buffy and Marius. I'm very interested in seeing what comes next. Buffy has powerful allies on her side.

Posted by: Lopov Apr 11 2020, 01:57 PM

Thanks for linking me to the Earana story, that was a good read, Buffy in that time period seems very different as she does now. I wonder if anyone except her and Acadian later found out that she was behind Earana's death? I'll probably read more stories from that book, when I have time.

As others have said, Sir Flavius is an interesting character. We'll definitely hear and see more of him, he'll play an important role in the future, I reckon.

QUOTE
He gazed at the empty throne to his left. “I know treachery when I see it!”


Brilliant!

Posted by: Acadian Apr 15 2020, 12:38 PM

Previously- Buffy relayed Martin Septim’s request for aide for Bruma and its rationale to Count Caro. Advised by Leyawiin’s guard commander and the Knight Commander of the Order of the White Stallion, the Count agreed to send a score of White Stallion Knights to assist with the defense of Bruma. The Count then dismissed everyone from his throne room except Buffy so he could have words with her privately.

*

Rider- To me, the Count always seemed rather a milk drinker. Part of the reason I introduced Sir Flavious was to show that Count Caro actually could rein in such a strong-willed Knight Commander when required. I envision Sir Flavius being from a noble family and having trained as a knight from an early age. I wanted to show that the Order of the White Stallion was in good hands but confess I don’t have significant plans for Sir Flavius going forward. Buffy will share some of her thoughts on both Flavius and Count Caro as she rides north toward Bravil in a couple episodes.

SubRosa- I’m glad that Sir Flavius came across as the gritty real deal - like Savlian Matius, Sir Keldorn (Baldur’s Gate II), Julian of Anvil (Rider’s fiction) or Pappy Vitellus (from Teresa fiction of course). Another reason I introduced Flavius was to, as you say, liven up the ‘war council’ with some crosscurrents and ultimately a good outcome. A score of mounted knights certainly trumps a squad of city guards! Thanks for catching that nit; I do archive Buffy’s story and the more error-free it is the better.

DE- Buffy’s not reluctant to kill varmints who deserve it but I’m glad she only does so on her own terms and not for hire. Thanks for noting the dialogue among Buffy, Captain Draconis, Marius Caro and Sir Flavius. I’m pleased with how it came together for a realistic result.

Lopov- It has been at a glacial pace, but Buffy is gradually becoming of more 'good' alignment and more responsible in her judgments and choices - particularly when it comes to distinguishing between righteous justice and vengeful retribution. Later in Book 1, a detective came close to figuring out Buffy killed Erana, but not quite. Thanks for noting that line you quoted as the Count gestured to the empty throne next to him and admonished Flavius about treachery. I admit that part of why I introduced Flavius was built around wanting to use such a line.

* * *

Episode 18


Once we were alone, Count Marius Caro gestured toward the empty throne to his left. “Sit.”

“Yes, Milord.” After removing my bow and quiver, I hopped up into the throne. Sitting back fully back into the chair, my legs stuck straight out. As I moved forward enough to bend my knees, there was a large gap behind my back and both feet still hovered above the floor. The chair fit me no better than it would a human girl who had not yet seen a dozen summers.

“Buffy, it warms my heart to see you once again grace my court. I know not how you come to speak for Martin Septim, but he is fortunate to be so eloquently represented.”

“Thank you, Milord. A score of your knights will be a valuable contribution to the defense of Bruma.”

“Aye.” He then sighed. “This has been a difficult time.”

“Caelia told me of the decision Lady Alessia forced upon you. I’m so very sorry.”

He pointed at the throne in which I sat. “It was long ago, and from that very chair, a newly dubbed small elven knight risked my ire by gently urging that I lead Alessia out of her misguided fog. That same young knight also expressed confidence that I would do what was best for Leyawiin should it become necessary. I confess that the memory of your prophetic words eased the choice I had to make on behalf of my city.”

“You rendered the right judgment, as difficult as it must have been.”

He stared at me for a moment, as if weighing a decision. “You speak and look quite like you belong seated upon that throne, Buffy.”

I looked down at my dangling feet and suppressed a giggle. “I’m afraid I would need a footstool. . . and perhaps a thick back cushion.” When I met the Count’s gaze again, I realized with a start that he was serious. His eyes did not convey mirth, but rather a sincere and warm affection.

Before I could even begin to process what he might be implying, he continued, “Were Alessia alive, I would never admit the fact that I have been drawn to the beauty of your spirit since the moment you first brightened my court long ago. You saw the noble and kind heart of a champion within Mazoga when the rest of us could not see beyond her brutishly crude manner and tusks. You recognized the flaws in Alessia when love blinded me to the hazards they posed. When you assessed that Caelia’s soldiers were not properly trained to close that Oblivion Gate and my knights were fully occupied, you chose – at your own peril – to close it yourself and doubtless saved the lives of many soldiers. Buffy, I need a countess of proven courage and gentle wisdom who can help this city heal from the damage done by that chair’s former occupant. Perhaps. . . in time, you could grow to return my affection.”

There were so many reasons I could never accept his offer, but my mind raced to carefully frame the gentlest decline possible to this grieving widower. “Milord, I know you loved Alessia and hoped you could change her. I’m sure the knowledge that you ultimately made the right decision is scant comfort. You deserve a woman by your side who can give you and Leyawiin the full measure of her love. Alas, I have yet to deal with the grief of losing my own mate at Kvatch. I would not be worthy of the honor you offer when so much of my damaged heart still belongs to the ghost of another.” I watched his eyes carefully, hopeful that my words had struck the right balance between clarity and compassion.

After several long moments, he slowly replied, “I understand, Buffy, and apologize for placing you in the awkward position of declining a lonely Count’s poorly considered proposal.”

“There is no forgiveness required for the high compliment you have paid me, Milord, and I thank you for accepting this humble knight’s emotional deficiencies.”

“Given your recent service to my city, may I at least entice you to stay in Leyawiin by offering a promotion to Knight Sister in the Order of the White Stallion?”

I winced. “I’m afraid I must once again decline your generous offer, Milord. I currently seek a Divine sponsor among the Nine to become a paladin.”

His eyes widened with surprise. Then the trace of a smile appeared as he nodded. “I would take umbrage were it fealty to another noble that drew you from Leyawiin. Becoming a paladin, however, is an entirely different matter. Should the Divines be wise enough to call you, I know they will be well-served. You are a traveler, well-gifted with wanderlust, and I admit that your nature is probably best suited by being unfettered to the mundane concerns of men and mer. I wish you well with your quest, Buffy. You are always welcome in the Court of Leyawiin.”

“Thank you, Milord. For everything.”

Posted by: Lopov Apr 15 2020, 12:59 PM

As soon as I read that the Count asked Buffy to sit alongside him, my first thought was whether her feet would reach the floor. laugh.gif

Well the Count isn't losing his time, that's for sure. On one hand it's to be expected...on the other hand I think he's rushing and that his "offer" wasn't proposed at the appropriate time.

I like your stories, where there's action and also where there's only dialogue, like this one. You manage to maintain the length of the dialogue long and captivating enough that by the time I come to the end, I still know, what was going on in the beginning.

Posted by: haute ecole rider Apr 15 2020, 05:44 PM

Well, that certainly was an interesting twist on the character that is Count Caro of Leyawiin! That he turns out to be capable of seeing the true beauty in others regardless of appearance (and true evil, in certain cases) suggests to me to be an innate part of his character that was just called out, if you will, by his previous experience with our beloved Buffy. Certainly not one Julian saw!

And I had to chuckle at the memories this stirred:

QUOTE
“Given your recent service to my city, may I at least entice you to stay in Leyawiin by offering a promotion to Knight Sister in the Order of the White Stallion?”

Posted by: SubRosa Apr 15 2020, 08:41 PM

Like Lopov, I immediately imagined that Buffy would not fit on the throne.

Ok, did not see that coming! One can certainly relate to the Count's feelings. Buffy is so very easy to love at the best of times. At a time like now, it smacks of the Rebound.

In any case, I think we all know what Buffy's answer will be.

Am I the only one who thinks "The White Stallion" sounds like a porn star? wink.gif

Posted by: Lopov Apr 16 2020, 07:45 AM

QUOTE(SubRosa @ Apr 15 2020, 09:41 PM) *
Am I the only one who thinks "The White Stallion" sounds like a porn star? wink.gif


No. biggrin.gif

Posted by: Renee Apr 17 2020, 02:20 PM

17 -- Good lord. Count Caro really likes playing around with Flavius. SILENCE! one moment, "I prize thine servitude" the next. indifferent.gif I like that you are spending a lot of time describing what a lot of gamers trudge through, or (In my case) barely bothered with, which is, the Assistance for Bruma quest (sic).

Wow, so Marius does not even know it was your elf who basically closed the gate? He only mentions his knights and others under his direct employ. Perhaps this is a measure of humility from the Buffster.

Uh on, private words with the Bosmer Bowgirl. Buffy's in trouble.

18-- Ha, she can't sit fully upon the human throne! laugh.gif

Oh.... oh no.... wub.gif NO! Wow, he really made a pass at her, JUST AFTER what he just did to his wife. indifferent.gif indifferent.gif indifferent.gif What in the??

Yeah, he can't trap her with some town position which is meaningless to her. She wants to be out there. Not trapped in Leyawiin.

Posted by: Grits Apr 21 2020, 08:13 PM

Episode 16: Placing the uneaten pastry on Agata’s plate with a wink, I rose to my feet.

Buffy's humor, grace, and charm all rolled up in one gesture. wub.gif

I loved Captain Draconis’s tale of discovering who was behind the attempt on her life. She had a quest!

Episode 17: In the lines of his olive skin were written more than half the years of a human lifespan.

This beautiful description brings to mind all the issues and heartbreak between humans and elves caused by their differing lifespans. I had to chuckle when Sir Flavius said “Forgive my appearance,” because I was at that moment thinking that he sounds hot. tongue.gif I loved the interactions between the Count and the Knight Commander.

Hmmm, private words with Dame Buffy. I wonder.

Episode 18: Oh my gosh, as soon as the Count asked Buffy to sit on the throne, my eyes were popping out like a frog’s! Then I had to giggle as Buffy wiggled around in the imposing chair.

Ah, when the Count mentioned Buffy’s advice to him way back when, his proposal made sense. He has been thinking about her generous heart and beauty throughout all of his troubles with Alessia and since. It was a shock to her, but she is in his mind’s eye every day. They both handled the No with remarkable grace.


QUOTE(SubRosa @ Apr 15 2020, 03:41 PM) *

Am I the only one who thinks "The White Stallion" sounds like a porn star? wink.gif

Honestly, I giggle-snort every time!

Posted by: Acadian Apr 22 2020, 12:57 PM

Previously- Count Caro quite surprised Buffy by making a case that she become his countess. The inwardly flustered elf managed to gently and rather smoothly decline the Count’s offer, blaming her own deficiencies which included her continued grieving for Savlian. She also explained her interest in becoming a paladin. Count Caro seemed to understand and reacted gracefully, even supportively. Buffy was able to depart on good terms.

*

Lopov- As you know, people grieve differently. Perhaps it is too soon for the Count to really know what he needs. That said, he does make an effective case that Buffy in that throne would be good for Leyawiin. The Count might have had better luck obtaining Buffy’s full time council by offering the Court Mage position to her but he realizes that, realistically, Buffy’s path does not include being tethered to Leyawiin.

Rider- I have tried to portray Marius Caro as rather naively blinded by love and wishful thinking rather than being of a pernicious nature. I’d like to think that seeing the depth and danger of Alessia’s treachery has somewhat opened his eyes.

SubRosa- I agree that the Count’s ‘proposal’ does indeed smack of rebound. That said, he recognizes Buffy is a free-spirited butterfly and knows not when he might get another chance to speak to her of such matters in person. Bird in the hand, strike when the iron’s hot and all that. I chuckled as you conjured the image of a whole order of porn stars riding under the banner of the white stallion. laugh.gif

Renee- Buffy’s piece of 'Gathering Aide for Bruma’ is limited to Leyawiin and Bravil – other emissaries are soliciting help from the other counties. Part of my thinking here is that by limiting her to two counties, we hope to go into reasonable detail with each without risking repetitiveness or bogging down the story. Count Caro does indeed know that Buffy closed the gate outside his north wall: “Caelia informs me that Leyawiin is once again in your debt, this time for single-handedly closing an Oblivion Gate just outside our walls.” As I mentioned to SubRosa, I do think Marius was ‘on the rebound’ as well as unsure when he would see Buffy the Butterfly again. Though I believe Buffy could make a good countess, Marius’ chances with her were, of course, zero for reasons that include the ones you mentioned. She’ll actually muse a bit on her time in Leyawiin early in this next episode as she heads north to Bravil.

Grits- Your perceptions on each of the passages or themes you mentioned are exactly what I was hoping to portray in terms of blending humor, sobering thoughts, beauty, tragedy and – above all – the fundamental grace and goodness in Buffy’s heart. As ever, thank you for your insightful encouragement.

*

All- Were this a hard copy novel, the reader would note their bookmark now resting almost precisely at the midway point. As the Oblivion Crisis relentlessly moves to its ultimate resolution, I hope you will enjoy how Buffy’s supporting role continues to weave its way into more or less familiar events. The seed that Boderi Farano planted about joining her as a paladin will continue to grow as well and, before the end of the book, the Nine will reveal their intent in that regard.

* * *


~ Part 4 – Aide from Bravil ~


Episode 19


White stones marking the Ayleid ruins of Bawn grew from the forest’s floor near the Niben to my right as Superian carried me north along the Green Road.

Acadian teased, “Countess Buffy has a nice sound to it, don’t you think?”

“Oh stop it!” I scolded. “Though I’m flattered by his offer and truly hope Count Caro finds a worthy mate someday, I figure it’s too soon after the death of Alessia for him to really know what he wants. Besides he’s far too old for me and I’m hardly interested in being cooped up in a castle hosting parties and holding court or whatever countesses do.” I sighed. “As far as Alessia Caro goes, I want to feel pity for her but all I can muster is anger over how she exposed those I call friends to mortal danger.”

We rode quietly for a bit longer. To my left, the afternoon sunshine warmed my shoulder and silhouetted the gray tower of a former Legion fort. It had been purchased years ago by Castle Bravil’s court mage. Fathis Aren kept the place highly warded, presumably to ensure privacy for his research.

“I confess the title Dame suits you better,” offered the paladin. “At least your quest in Leyawiin was successful.”

“Aye, that it was,” I replied. “A score of White Stallion Knights will be a potent addition to the forces defending Bruma.” Since Acadian seemed in a conversational mood and I knew Superian didn’t mind listening, I continued, “Sir Flavius is an interesting, even compelling, man. It’s clear he is devoted to his knights and has certainly accomplished much during his tenure as Knight Commander. There’s no doubt he’s quite fluent in courtly matters, but,” I paused to chuckle, “he’s certainly not shy with his quickly-formed and strong opinions. Like the stallion namesake of his order, Flavius seems well-bred, strong-willed, and surely a challenge to -"

My musings were interrupted when several pink glows of life blossomed at the edge of my twin rings’ ability to detect them. "Now what's that up ahead?” I could identify the unmistakable and large shape of a horse. Nearby, what seemed likely a dismounted Legion rider was engaged in combat with a pair of small round hovering glows. “Wills-o-the-wisp!” At my urging, Superian burst into a thunderous run, and the trees between us and the fight ahead flew past.

As I drew her to an abrupt stop just short of the Legion bay and leaped to the ground, I dismissed a twinge of guilt for intentionally using the other horse as a shield for my own mare. As one of the sparkling creatures fell I was relieved to see that the soldier’s blade could overcome his foes’ resistance to mundane weapons. The man likely had a small enchantment on his arming sword for just this type of situation. Roaring, “For the Empire!” he turned to face the other wisp.

With the soldier between me and the wisp, I raced toward them. Trying to use my bow against the tiny target erratically dancing around the moving man was out of the question due to the risk of friendly fire. To make matters worse, wisps were immune to my illusion spells. He would have to do the killing, but I hoped to reach him in time to keep him healed.

A beam of orange magic reached out from the wisp and began sapping the man’s life.

Suddenly a Khajiit burst from the trees beyond the deadly fight. With a speed much greater than mine, bootless cat feet closed the distance. A short blade held in each forepaw slashed into what I imagined to be the back of the wisp.

Before my feet could deliver me close enough to touch the soldier’s back with a restorative spell, he collapsed.

With no steel standing in front of me for protection, and both hands overflowing with white healing magic, I stared in terror at the sparkling foe hovering before me. My feet frantically scrambled to back up and open some distance. Though the soldier was down, it was now the Khajiit who still made it too risky to use my bow. Kitsune appeared at my side but her illusory yips to draw my attacker’s ire were ignored. As orange magic reached out for me, I began to channel the healing magic that filled my hands into myself. Mercifully, a final slash from one of the Khajiit’s flashing blades exploded our foe into a shower of glowing dust.

The feline skirmisher and I stared at each other only long enough for me to see that she appeared uninjured before I dropped to my knees beside the soldier. The pale glow of his fading life extinguished before I could lay on my hands to attempt a healing. “H-he’s gone.” I removed his helm and gently placed a hand on the Imperial’s cheek.

“The brave human’s name was Octavius Amatiu.” I glanced over to see the Khajiit on one knee reading the back of the soldier’s shield.

I raised my tearful eyes toward a passing white cloud. “Mara, this soldier, Octavius, has risen beyond his shell of flesh and steel. I commend you his spirit and ask that your loving hand guide his journey.”

The Khajiit was now on her feet and I looked up at her as she stared sadly at the soldier’s body. I slipped off my rings to see her more clearly. She wore elven-made armor without helm. All four paws were wrapped in a mixture of leather and cloth, leaving her claws exposed. Cream colored fur was liberally accented with dark markings, reminiscent of a snow leopard, and a shock of red mane swept back over her head. “Thank you for trying to help this man, and for very likely saving me and both horses.”

“I am sorry I did not arrive sooner.”

I noted that she did not speak in the traditional Khajiiti manner, which often occurred when a kit was raised by another race. . . or under the yoke of slavery. As I rose to my feet, I realized that she was Daenlin’s height – not even a head taller than I. Both ears were adorned with loops of gold. A thin white scar ran almost vertically down one side of her muzzle. She appeared to be evaluating me as well.

“I am called Buffy.”

“My name is Aravi.”

*

Note: Aravi is the character of King Coin, presented here during her latter days in Oblivion before moving to Skyrim. KC and I collaborated on the scene several years ago and Buffy’s fiction has finally advanced to where it belongs. Aravi’s appearance will continue into the next episode before the two say farewell.

Posted by: SubRosa Apr 22 2020, 06:32 PM

I am just imagining Countess Buffy and her friends at a dinner party, and suddenly everyone's clothes vanishes! Oh wait, we don't have to imagine that do we? wink.gif

Wills-o-the-wisp or Willo-o-wisps? Now there is an authors conundrum.

Things are really going from bad to worse in this sudden encounter with the Wisps! You have quite ably manage to inject a real sense of danger into the story, which is not easy with a character who is by now so able as Buffy. Kudos!

Aravi! It is great to meet an old friend. smile.gif

Posted by: haute ecole rider Apr 23 2020, 06:59 PM

It certainly sounds to me like Buffy was impressed by this Sir Flavius in more ways than one hubbahubba.gif

I hate losing those Legion riders! That is why I crowned them in my game (and named them, too). So sad to lose one - Cyrodiil can spare none of them.

Aravi! So good to see her again! She has been sorely missed on these pages.

Posted by: Grits Apr 23 2020, 08:26 PM

Bootless cat feet! Flashing blades! It’s Aravi!! wub.gif

Racing to help the Legion rider when she knows her Illusion spells and bow won’t help her is my favorite Buffy moment in the story so far. I could hear that wisp absorb noise when it turned on her. Yikes.

Posted by: Lopov Apr 27 2020, 01:01 PM

Like haute, I also feel that Buffy was greatly impressed by stallion-like Sir Flavius.

A thrilling battle - as SubRosa points you, you created a sense of imminent danger when WotW focused on Buffy.

Nice to include Aravi to the book, that was an unexpected surprise.

Posted by: ghastley Apr 27 2020, 03:21 PM

You need to tell Buffy to open up Options, (or is it Settings?) and turn off friendly fire. biggrin.gif

There are so many things that help the solo adventurer, but hinder them in teamwork, especially invisibility. Never let an Archer behind you when you're invisible!

And great to see Aravi get another guest appearance. Does this mean KC is about to add more adventure with Buffy as a guest? smile.gif

Posted by: Acadian Apr 29 2020, 01:29 PM

Previously- With her task in Leyawiin complete, Buffy rode north toward Bravil. Along the way, she tried to assist a Legion rider battling a pair of wills of the wisp. The fight did not go well but was somewhat salvaged by the sudden appearance of a Khajiit skirmisher. The soldier did not survive. Buffy learned the Khajiit’s name is Aravi.

*

SubRosa- If Buffy were Countess, all her parties would be clothes optional of course. Thank you for your comments about Buffy’s fight. I try to make most her fights rather decisive, even elegant, but sometimes (much to her chagrin) she does encounter moments of sheer terror.

Rider- I’m with you. Buffy used to often temporarily adjust Superian’s speed to match Legion bays and just ride along with those Legion riders, helping them and even repairing their gear after fights.

Grits- KC and I drafted this scene way back before Aravi moved to Skyrim. It’s a joy to feature her in the last and next episode. That fight was indeed another example of Buffy instinctively charging in to help someone without considering the cost.

Lopov- Buffy was indeed intrigued by Flavius. I suspect in some ways he reminds her of Savlian. Noble in character and strong enough to wield steel and face challenges head on instead of relying on the crutches that Buffy’s fragility requires (subtleness, speechcraft, stealth, illusions, range. . .).

ghastley- I confirmed with KC some time ago that he’s still fine with me using the scene, but this two-episode cameo with Aravi will be their only time together in Book 3. I don’t know if he has any plans to continue presenting Aravi's adventures. No friendly fire is definitely a nice feature of ESO. One reason we want to bring the Oblivion Crisis to a close is to achieve a good point of 'completion' for Buffy to subsequently learn time travel and finally allow her fiction to move beyond the Third Era.

* * *

Episode 20

As soon as Aravi and I gripped each other’s forearm in a warrior clasp, I experienced a sharp twinge in my lower abdomen. Acadian felt it too, for he silently warned, ’It’s only been two months. You know what this means.’ The paladin was better with dates than I, and he was right. My next semiannual time of fertility, with its attendant cramping, wasn’t due for four more months. This was a Slayer’s warning of nearby vampires. The pain eased noticeably as we broke our grip.

An instinctive glance skyward verified more than adequate afternoon sunshine to burn vampires. My eyes then traveled to those of the skirmisher in front of me. Hers were green, with no hint of red or gold. This Khajiit was no vampire, but it was certain that she was infected. “I am a skilled healer. Are you injured?”

“The first wisp was dead before I got within its range. The second remained focused on the soldier, then you, allowing me to safely kill it. I am uninjured.”

Did she not realize she carried the disease of vampirism?

By now, Superian and her new Legion friend had wandered over to join us. The soldier’s mare nudged the armored corpse, then both horses snorted and backed away a few paces. “I want to check Octavius’ mount for injuries.” My glowing hands quickly confirmed the bay was fine, but I intentionally lingered while inspecting the animal, giving me time to think. While I was pleased that Aravi wasn’t injured, the fact that she had no wounds for me to heal eliminated a comfortable avenue for me to reveal that she was diseased. The only mortal on Nirn who knew I was a Slayer was Boderi Farano. I didn’t care to be known as a freak of Azura, and I certainly didn’t want vampires hunting me down trying to prove themselves by killing a Slayer.

I looked at Aravi, who was collecting the residual glow dust from our foes into a small pouch. She glanced my way and said, “I am not familiar with how Imperials honor their dead. Should we offer his body to the soil? Fire? Water?”

“I would build a flaming pyre for him if alone and far from help," I replied. "Fortunately, neither is the case today. Bravil is my destination and but a short ride to the north. I would like to deliver Octavius’ body and horse to the city guard there. If you would permit it, I can cast spells to strengthen the two of us and reduce the soldier’s weight long enough to lift him over the back of his horse for one final ride. I think we can get him there before dark.”

“I am willing to help secure this brave man to his horse and think your plan is a sound one. I will not accompany you though, for my destination is Fort Redman to the south.”

Between the two of us and my spells, we were able to muscle the Imperial over the back of his mare without adding the indignity of stripping off his heavy armor. As we lashed him into position, Acadian convicted me with his silent words, ’Buffy, your skill as a healer implies responsibilities that the elf I know does not retreat from.’

Aravi strapped the soldier’s shield across the man’s back while I rigged his sword belt over the Legion mare’s pommel. Acadian was right. It was the role of Slayer I rejected, not that of healer. “Fort Redman,” I offered, “is reputed to be a vampire lair.”

“Yes. I hunt them. For reasons that are my own.”

We stepped to the front of the horse and I met her gaze. “Aravi, I have. . . abilities. Among other things, I can sense the presence of vampires. I detect the taint of vampirism on you and believe that you are infected.”

Both ears flattened back, but her expression gave no further clue to her reaction. I could see the tip of her tail as it flicked out to one side then the other. Green eyes gazed beyond me toward the Niben for a time before returning to study my face. After several more long moments she spoke, “As a vampire hunter, I have been infected and cured many times. There comes a dangerous point, somewhere between immunity and vampirism where the taint remains, but the darkness is hopefully kept at bay. I find it necessary to seek spells or potions on almost a daily basis to manage the condition.”

“I am unfamiliar with what you describe but freely offer my curative magicks. I can remove the simple form of porphyric hemophilia before a patient is fully turned. I don’t know if I have the skill to provide you a more permanent solution. Would you like me to try? As a healer, I promise discretion. All I ask in return is the same from you regarding my abilities.”

Both ears perked up and her eyes reflected a ray of what I thought might be hope. “You may count on me to return your discretion. As for my illness,” she exhaled as if reaching a decision, “I would appreciate your attempt to lift its curse.”

I nodded. “My healing is rather like that of a priest and I will be laying both hands upon you. Relax for me, please.” I quickly drank a potion. Its blend of chamomile, ginger, primrose and cinnamon would ease the cramping that I expected to worsen while in physical contact with Aravi. Filling my hands with white magic, I placed one upon each side of her face.

As arcane power flowed through the intimate bond between us, I noted countless old wounds. Some had been healed by experts, others by amateurs or potions. I ignored them as I searched for disease. Although clearly similar to porphyric hemophilia, what I found was more persistent – as if partially integrated within every organ. I was startled as a horrifying scene flashed into my mind of several sleeping patrons inside an inn being slaughtered. Just as suddenly the vision was replaced by leaves and branches whipping past in near darkness. The sprint stopped at the crest of a ridge, revealing the first rays of a new sun. Then the frightening images ceased.

I transitioned my focus from diagnostic to therapeutic. First I tried a general healing spell. The disease diminished greatly, but traces remained. I began to understand why Aravi experienced only temporary relief with normal spells or potions.

Refining the focus and intensity of my magic, I was able to completely eliminate the disease from a small portion of her body. Encouraged, I worked methodically from one area to the next, from organ to organ. By the time I was almost done, my heart sank. The disease had already begun to reappear in the first areas I had treated! I continued this for a time until the futility became clear. As my desperation grew, I tried to absorb her disease into my own body for I knew that, as a Slayer, I could not be turned. By the time that proved unsuccessful, I was exhausted and low on magicka. Reluctantly, I allowed the healing bond to dissipate and lowered my hands.

As Aravi’s eyes read mine, the hint of hope they had held was replaced by a look of stoic disappointment.

“I’m sorry, Aravi. I was able to temporarily improve your condition significantly, but it moves from one organ to another, reappearing faster than I can fully cure it. I tried several techniques to no avail. I expect you’ll continue to require frequent spells or potions to keep this at bay as you search for a permanent cure.”

“Thank you for the attempt, even though it was not successful.” She glanced over one shoulder at the sun now kissing the treetops. “I am comfortable traveling at night and, since you want to reach Bravil before dark, let us be on our separate ways.”

“May green grasses and cool waters ease your path, Aravi.”

“Farewell, Buffy.” She returned my smile before slipping noiselessly into the forest.

As Superian and I led the Legion mare and her cargo north toward Bravil, I commented to Acadian, “That was a terrifying feeling, being helplessly unable to use my bow to defend myself against that wisp with Aravi in the way.”

“Remember it well, Buffy,” replied Acadian, “for in order to fully understand the importance of defending the defenseless, you must experience the plight of feeling powerless yourself.”

“Are you trying to train me as a paladin?” I teased.


Posted by: SubRosa Apr 29 2020, 06:09 PM

Uh oh, Buffy is getting cramps. I remember what that means! ohmy.gif

I loved Buffy's conundrum here, and wanting to protect her identity as The Slayer. It not only hearkens me back to a certain TV show whose name Buffy shares, but it also reminds me of superheros.

Well that is thrown out there. We will see how this goes.

I liked the touch of Buffy brewing a quick potion to lessen her cramping before she begins healing.

I enjoyed your description of Buffy searching through Aravi for the disease, and then combating it. It reminds me of shamanic healing. In their traditions, disease is caused by evil spirits. To cure someone, you travel to the spirit world, find the spirit responsible, and defeat it.

Finally, a brave admission of feeling fear and powerlessness. And a wise observation that feeling empathy for those in such straits, is an important component to fighting for them. Otherwise you end up fighting not for the people you purport to protect (can I alliterate that any more?), but rather for your own ego. That can only end badly for everyone. This was where January started from as a superhero, and it is always her foundation. Looks like Avery will have to make a new cape for Buffy!

Posted by: Renee Apr 29 2020, 06:48 PM

QUOTE
uffy’s piece of 'Gathering Aide for Bruma’ is limited to Leyawiin and Bravil – other emissaries are soliciting help from the other counties. Part of my thinking here is that by limiting her to two counties, we hope to go into reasonable detail with each without risking repetitiveness or bogging down the story.


Sure, that makes sense. Otherwise ES6 might finally be out by the time you're wrapping up the Main Quest from 2006.

Aw, sounds like she's blaming herself for the guard's demise. sad.gif After all the adventuring she's done, she's not truly hardened yet.

WHOA she meets Aravi!!! Hug_emoticon.gif Nice. I remember King Coin's character. Wherever Coin is.

Buffy has Cure Disease. Very good. Interesting that Aravi would not already know how to cure this herself. I wonder if that's based on KC's roleplay somehow.

Posted by: Lopov May 1 2020, 09:34 AM

Beautiful story! I dare to say that it's been my favorite so far.

I like it how Buffy immediately sensed "vampirism" in Aravi, but kept her thoughts to herself for a while. I expected the healing process would be futile in the end, but at least it was worth a try. Describing vivid scenes which she experienced during healing, was a nice touch.

goodjob.gif

Posted by: macole May 2 2020, 06:03 AM

QUOTE(Acadian @ Apr 29 2020, 07:29 AM) *

“As a vampire hunter, I have been infected and cured many times. There comes a dangerous point, somewhere between immunity and vampirism where the taint remains, but the darkness is hopefully kept at bay. I find it necessary to seek spells or potions on almost a daily basis to manage the condition.”

There is much I don't know about Buffy but I found this statement most interesting. From one Hunter to a Slayer, Jandaga has for quite some time carried a portable Cleansing Shrine he found in one of the lost spires. He uses it daily in order to keep the disease in remission.


Posted by: Grits May 5 2020, 04:44 PM

I loved this healer episode! Buffy’s description of her process was fascinating. My favorite part was when she touched on what I’m guessing is Aravi’s memory or nightmare in the vision of the inn patrons and the sunrise. Is speaks highly of Buffy that she is still willing to help people, knowing that through their contact she may see things she doesn’t want to see and learn things she doesn’t want to know.

Posted by: Acadian May 6 2020, 12:31 PM

Previously- Buffy was surprised to learn that her new friend, Aravi, was infected (but not turned) by an unusually pernicious form of vampirism. Buffy’s offer to attempt a healing was accepted but proved unsuccessful. Aravi would continue to need routine healings or potions until she could find a permanent cure. The Khajiit assisted Buffy in getting the dead Legion rider aboard his horse before the two ladies parted ways. Buffy then resumed her ride to Bravil with the Legion mare, carrying the corpse of her former rider, in tow.

*

SubRosa- Neat observation I hadn’t thought of as you compared Buffy’s reluctance to admit she’s a Slayer with a superhero’s challenges regarding maintaining a secret identity. As you recall, Buffy’s style of healing is quite intimate, empathic and personal. That allows a superb degree of accurate diagnosis but carries the limitations of requiring a physical bond (laying on of hands) and having to deal with some of what spills over to her, both physically and emotionally. In her world, restoration magic is more impersonal, safer for the healer and can be cast from range. Buffy’s healing is more like that of a priest. . . or paladin.

Renee- Buffy’s quick to blame herself whenever she fails to save or heal an ally. So it was with both that soldier and Aravi. I expect Aravi knows basic restoration healing/cure spells; Buffy’s healing is more specialized/focused but, alas, not up the task of fully curing Aravi.

Lopov- Why thank you! Buffy overcoming her reluctance to heal Aravi is another small step along her path of embracing the responsibilities inherent with her gifts and abilities.

macole- What Aravi told Buffy about the vampiric condition she deals with is pretty close to what King Coin described in his writings and showed in his Oblivion vids with Aravi. He did use a mod, and his depiction was quite close to the mod. I’m not familiar with the mod but it sounds like you may well be.

Grits- I’m so glad you enjoyed Buffy’s attempt to heal Aravi. As you can see the process is rather intimate, allowing her to glimpse into the medical history, mind and even spirit of her patient. If you recall, healing a small purposefully inflicted wound upon Martin Septim is what allowed Buffy to announce with certainly that his veins carry the blood of a dragon.

*

All- Once again, I want to thank King Coin for allowing this brief encounter between Buffy and Aravi. As far as Aravi’s condition, she ultimately traveled to Skyrim where the Companions were able to remove all hints of vampirism by infecting her with lycanthropy. Perhaps not an ideal solution but, at last report, Aravi seemed satisfied with the tradeoff.

* * *

Episode 21

Ayleid glow stones that had been provided by my guildmate Carandial’s research expeditions to nearby Anutwyll softly lit the interior of Bravil’s Bay Roan Stable. I had wiped down Superian’s tack and dispelled it before starting to groom her. Satisfied with her feet, I exchanged the hoof pick in my hand for a curry and began to scribe circles over her coat to loosen debris and stimulate the flow of oils. Antoine led in the Legion bay mare that no longer carried the corpse of her former rider. The ruddy-faced stablehand began loosening then removing her tack. “Well?” I asked.

“Me and the same guard who took your report delivered that soldier to the chapel,” replied the Breton. “They let us bring the horse right inside before unloading his body. A priestess then wrapped him in a cloak of frost so he’d . . . keep until Captain Lerus gets over there and decides what to do with him. I figure they’ll let me know what they want me to do with the soldier’s mount here.” Expert hands quickly finished stripping the bay of her tack.

I passed Antoine the hoof pick and began flicking loose hair and debris from my own mare with a brush. “I’m sure they’ll let the soldier’s family – if he has any – know what happened to him.”

“A shame,” the Breton replied soberly as he began grooming the Legion horse. “You and Superian home for a time now? I know Button and Aetherius appreciate her company.”

In response to hearing his name, Carandial’s bay raised his head above the wall of his stall. Antoine smooched toward the gelding, then began rubbing the curry over his current customer. I knew Button, the chapel’s draft shire, was still out in the corral enjoying the evening. “Only for a day, perhaps as many as three,” I finally replied. “Then it’s back up to the University.” I set aside the brush and reached for a burlap rub rag. “Have things been quiet here then?”

“Aye, ‘cept for a paint that only stayed one night. Belonged to some monk. Strange stable markings on his tack I never seen before. Crossed blades beneath a crown.”

I paused at the description of markings associated with the Emperor’s Blades. “Is there anything else you can tell me about this monk?” Superian bumped me with her head so I would resume my gentle strokes with the rub rag.

“He said the less I knew about him the better. And he paid up front. He kept the hood of his brown robe pulled up. About all I could tell was that he was a big Redguard. Oh, and he carried a katana – odd for a monk maybe, but I’ve heard the wilderness just isn’t safe anymore.” Antoine exchanged his curry for a brush. “Anyway, he got here the day after you left and, like I said, only stayed one night. Can’t say I blame him. That was the night old Hans Black-Nail was murdered.”

Before I could reply, Captain Viera Lerus swept into the stable building. “Ah, there you are. Thank you, Buffy. One of my guards relayed your report to me. Damn wills-o-the-wisp.” She spat on the floor. Antoine twitched in response and the muscles of his jaw rippled. The stable hand managed to look totally absorbed in grooming as his brush busily flicked loosened horse hair off the Legion mare and directly toward the officer. Lerus, apparently oblivious to the insult, continued, “Octavius was only recently assigned the route between The Imperial City and Leyawiin.”

“Do you know if he has any kin?” I asked.

“Yes,” the Imperial replied. “His people are up in the capital. I checked with the Imperial Trading Company’s office here and the Black Swan is due for a brief stop at dawn tomorrow before continuing north. I booked passage for Octavius’ body, his horse and an escort. One of my soldiers, Petronius, has some leave coming up in The Imperial City, so I’ll be sending him.” She turned to Antoine. “You there. Meet Petronius at the chapel early tomorrow with that mare. The plan is to use Ocatvius’ horse to carry his body down to the dock and load both onto the Black Swan at sunrise.”

Antoine met her gaze coolly. “I’ll do as you ask. This mare and her former rider deserve a smooth trip home.”

“Captain,” I said, “Antoine tells me Hans Black-Nail was recently murdered?”

“Nothing you citizens need concern yourselves with.” She began to turn, then paused and gave me a thin smile. “Once again, I appreciate your service to the Legion and will mention it in my report to Count Terentius.”

Mention of the name reminded me of my purpose in Bravil. I blurted, “Can you help me get an audience with the Count? It’s about the Oblivion Crisis.” When my words were met with an unreadable stare, I added hopefully, “I have a letter of introduction from Arch Mage Traven.”

“What does the Mages Guild have to do with the Oblivion Crisis?”

“It will take many disparate forces working together to defeat the foes that threaten Tamriel. My message is for Count Bravil however, not for the fine horses who populate our city’s stable. It does involve martial matters though, so I would ask that you attend as well.”

She slowly eyed me from ear tips to boots. “Very well. Report to the Count tomorrow morning at ten.” She then wheeled and left the stable.

After a few moments, Antoine grumbled, “Spittin’ on my floor and bossin’ me around like I was one o’ her guards. . . I hope horse hair makes her itch and sneeze.”

As soon as my fingers, deft from practice, had removed any tangles from Superian’s long mane and tail, I bid farewell to Antoine and made my way into the city.


Posted by: SubRosa May 6 2020, 04:48 PM

Using Welkynd Stones to illuminate the stable sounds much safer than flame-burning lanterns. It always amazes me that stables did not all burn down in the old world.

I would much rather eat curry than a pick. But you aren't supposed to smear it all over a horse! ohmy.gif wink.gif biggrin.gif

Great to hear from Button and Aetherius again!

I wonder who this mystery monk of the crossed Blades was? Baurus perhaps? Wait, Hans Black-Nail was murdered the same night he was in town? Me thinks Baurus thinned out the Mythic Dawn by one member.

The Black Swan would be a great name for a pirate ship. It would have to be captained by Natalie Portman of course.

The hospitality of the Bravil government seems somewhat lacking of late. What am I saying, of late? I doubt Buffy's mission in her home town will go as smoothly as it did in Leyawiin.

Posted by: haute ecole rider May 6 2020, 06:20 PM

Once again I am struck by our opposite views of certain guard captains. tongue.gif I do quite like how you portrayed Viera Lerus here, very Imperial and snooty (almost Altmeri) in her attitude towards the stable folks.

Baurus did cross my mind when I read Antoine's description of the monk, however there are plenty of other Redguards that match - Achille and Belisarius come to mind. Anyway, I look forward to hopefully learning the identity of the mysterious monk.

And I also look forward to Buffy's encounter with Count Terentius of Bravil!

And through all of this, I keep thinking - poor mare, having to lug the dead body all over the Niben!

Posted by: Lopov May 7 2020, 11:33 AM

Another mystery, this time involving the hooded monk and the death of a sleeper. Like others, I'm curious to what will follow. And I'm also curious to how Buffy's meeting with Terentius will go - he's probably the most vulgar Count in Cyrodiil and might turn to be an unpleasant negotiator.

Posted by: Grits May 11 2020, 01:23 PM

Great to hear that the Blades are getting things done in mysterious ways! Antoine made this scene sparkle. It was lovely to see Buffy caring for Superian. Ugh, Captain Lerus sure won’t be a friendly face at tomorrow’s meeting.

Posted by: ghastley May 11 2020, 01:54 PM

I get the impression that Hans Black-Nail might have raised suspicions before he was outed by the presence of the Blade, whoever that is. So Viera Lerus probably doesn't consider it a murder, as Antoine does.

Given the divergence of Buffy's story from the regular Champion one, almost any of the Blades will have to fulfill some of the roles from time to time. It could even be Jauffre. But Count Terentius won't have changed, or been replaced by a sleeper. biggrin.gif

Posted by: Acadian May 13 2020, 12:46 PM

Previously- Once in Bravil, Buffy ensured the Legion mare and her deceased rider were taken care of, earning the favor of the city’s guard commander. Buffy took the opportunity to ask the officer for (and receive) an appointment with Count Terentius for the following morning.

*

SubRosa- I agree about stables and fire; it seem very natural in Buffy's magical world to use something other than flame to illuminate them at night. Thank you, as ever, for letting me use Button from Teresa fiction in Buffy fiction.

Rider- I hope to portray Viera as rather ‘gray’. She is indeed a bit snooty and has had to adapt/compromised somewhat to serve as guard captain for a lousy and demanding count. She will more or less stand up for Buffy from a Legion perspective when required though as we’ll see in a couple episodes. Though the mysterious Redguard Blade’s identity will remain a mystery, my hope was indeed that Baurus would come to mind. I chuckled when you said you were looking forward to Buffy’s encounter with Count Terentius – she is dreading it! Hee!

Lopov- We’ll definitely hear and see more about Mythic Dawn sleepers while in Bravil. Buffy will settle in and catch up with friends a bit in this next episode, then meet with Count Terentius in the episode following today’s. I hope the likely sparks will be worth the wait. tongue.gif

Grits- I’m so glad you enjoyed Antoine at the stable. As you know, Buffy loves her precious mare. happy.gif Though Buffy and Viera Lerus will never be pals, the guard captain will actually speak up somewhat for Buffy when it counts (no pun intended).

ghastley- I’m intentionally creating some questions that, for Buffy (and readers), will remain unanswered. Was the Redguard Blade Baurus? Was Viera’s ‘nothing citizens need concern themselves about’ attitude regarding Hans’ death simply reflective of her somewhat snooty/dismissive nature or did the Blade perhaps advise the city’s guard commander of his action as a law enforcement courtesy?

* * *

Episode 22

“Buffy!” exclaimed the Bosmer as I breezed around the shop’s counter and into her arms. “I take it you’re done with whatever called you away to the University?”

I eased out of the embrace and took her hands. “I’m afraid not, Nilawen. My task just happily brings me home to Bravil for a brief time.”

“Does Daenlin know you’re in town?” she asked.

“He’s my next stop,” I replied. “Do you have any fresh flowers?”

Nilawen smiled. “Yes, take those.” She pointed to a lovely bouquet of tiger lilies and domica redwort filling a vase on her counter. “I just cut them from my back garden a couple hours ago. I’ll replace them in the morning.”

I fished out a couple silver pieces from my silk coin purse and pressed them into her hand. Plucking the flowers from their vase, I commented, “I noticed the Fighters Guildhall next door is dark as if no one’s there?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Tadrose stopped in a couple days ago to stock up on some supplies for the guild before they left. Apparently, her commander got word from Guildmistress Vilena Donton for the whole branch to report somewhere. She wouldn’t tell me where, or even when they might be back,” Nilawen lowered her voice even though we were alone in the shop, “but she bought several wolf pelts so my guess is somewhere cold.”

“Well, stuff me gently,” I mused aloud. “I leave for a few days and look what happens? The whole Fighters Guild ships out and Antoine tells me Hans Black-Nail was murdered!”

“Oh, that was just awful!”

“What exactly happened?” I asked.

“It’s very mysterious and the guards aren’t talking about it,” she replied. “Ask Daenlin. He was the first one there before any soldiers showed up.”

“Thanks for the flowers, Nilawen.”

My next stop was the Archers Paradox, which was as dark as the Fighters Guild. A spell unlocked the door and another illuminated the interior. Digging around in one of Daenlin’s cupboards, I found the vase I had given him several years ago, filled it with water and placed it on his sales counter. I then arranged the flowers – like arrows in a quiver - and slipped out of the shop. Yet another spell relocked the door. Knowing Daenlin to be a mer of habit, I had a good idea where to find him.

As the Lonely Suitor Lodge came into view, a smile grew across my face. Standing under the light of a street lantern just outside the tavern and rubbing his full belly was my archery master. I called out, “Can you walk a girl home?”

Daenlin braced himself and caught me as I flew into his arms. “Oomph! What a happy surprise! How long are you in town?”

“Not long.” I felt safe and contented within the embrace I had known since before I could walk. “No more than two or three days I expect.”

After a squeeze, the old Bosmer gently pushed me to arms length to inspect his apprentice. I recalled being no taller than his waist when he began my archery instruction. But now, I was fully grown and could see over his shoulders – the same shoulders I had ridden upon as a little elf. “Welcome home, Buffy, even if for too short a time. Are you headed to your guild then?”

I nodded and repeated my request. “Walk me home?”

“Of course.”

I took his offered arm in both of mine as we leisurely strolled across the bridge above the tributary that bisected the city on its way to the Niben, and began catching ourselves up on each other’s news. I was pleased that, when we reached the end of the bridge, Daenlin turned toward the Warlock’s Luck and castle instead of taking me directly to my guild. “Nilawen said you discovered the body of Hans Black-Nail. That must have been awful. What happened?”

“It was a little later than this time of night,” he began. “Hans left the Suitor while I lingered over an ale. Only a minute or two later, we all heard a brief ruckus outside. I was first through the door and there was Hans on the ground. His head lay several feet away from his body – cleanly severed. There was blood all over the ground of course.”

“Who killed him?” I queried.

“There was no sign of his killer so whoever it was must have been skilled enough to decisively dispatch Hans then quickly disappear - all in a matter of moments.”

“As healer,” I pondered aloud, “I’ve seen plenty of fatal neck injuries inflicted by swords but they’re usually quite messy. I should think it takes a superb blade in the hands of a highly proficient and strong warrior to cleanly decapitate a foe.” I remembered Antoine’s description of the mysterious katana-equipped Redguard who I suspected was a Blade, how his brief visit coincided with Hans’ death, and the warning Agronak had given me about Mythic Dawn cultists before I left the Arcane University. “Do you know if there was any sort of tome or scrolls in Hans’ belongings?”

The old mer stared at me for a moment. “Why yes. He had a book with him. Something about a mystic dawn or such. The guards took it as soon as they showed up. How did you know?”

“I fear it’s related to my current tasking by the guild.” I winced. “I-I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more.”

Daenlin stopped us. Placing a hand on each of my shoulders, he turned me to face him. “Buffy, what in Mara’s name have you gotten yourself into?”

“Someday I’ll tell you, as we enjoy a warm bowl of stew made with venison from a joint hunt. For now, just know that the Mythic Dawn is a cult of very dangerous people in league with Mehrunes Dagon. Hans’ death was the work of lawful agents of the Empire, not criminal assassins.” I pulled his arm comfortably around me against the evening’s chill and coaxed him toward my guild – and a lighter subject. “Has hunting been good the last few days, Master?”

Posted by: Renee May 13 2020, 01:38 PM

Have you ridden horses, Acadian? You sure know a lot about them. In my roleplays, I always imagine the stablehands do a lot of those caring for horses. And then we "tip" (bribe) them.

Cool. Yes, she's got Nilawen and also the Bosmer who runs Archer's Paradox to chat with. Saga always chats with Daenlin for a couple hours, while I press the Wait button. laugh.gif Oh by the way, a perfect arrow flies forever.

QUOTE
“I’ve seen plenty of fatal neck injuries inflicted by swords but they’re usually quite messy. I should think it takes a superb blade in the hands of a highly proficient and strong warrior to cleanly decapitate a foe.”


Right. I'm thinking a huge battleaxe or something BIG. viking.gif Buffy seems to think katana though. Well. Seems she's about to get sidetracked.


Posted by: SubRosa May 13 2020, 05:57 PM

Button is fixture in Bravil, just like Olava the Fair or Antoine. It would not be Bravil without her. Like Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion, she exists across all universes.

Uh oh, the Fighter's Guild is headed to Bruma. It will be a hard trip for them. sad.gif

I liked Buffy's casual use of spells to lock and unlock doors, and navigate around.

Buffy can see over his shoulders? Is she standing on a crate? wink.gif laugh.gif

Well that Mythic Dawn book puts the nail in Han's murder.

Posted by: haute ecole rider May 13 2020, 09:09 PM

QUOTE
Hans’ death was the work of lawful agents of the Empire, not criminal assassins.
Whew! Julian is glad to be counted among those these days! Though it was the Nord she killed, not Hans, but still . . .

Which makes me wonder if it's worthwhile having Julian encounter these sleeper agents who did not run across her during her Grand Tour . . .

Loved visiting with Daenlin again. He's such a sweetheart - won my heart ever since he said "I'm so happy to see you I could burst!"

Posted by: macole May 13 2020, 11:03 PM

QUOTE(SubRosa @ May 13 2020, 11:57 AM) *

Buffy can see over his shoulders? Is she standing on a crate?

It's possible. Male Bosmer are generally shorter than female Bosmer.

Posted by: Lopov May 18 2020, 11:57 AM

More details behind Hans' death - it might have been for good, it seems.

I like the scene as Buffy makes her way in the shop, arranges flowers for Daenlin, then leaves. And domica redwort even - the pretties flower in Cyrodiil.

Posted by: Acadian May 20 2020, 12:25 PM

Previously- As Buffy made her way into Bravil to spend the night at her guild, she paused at the general store to catch up on news with Nilawen, then sought out her archery master, Daenlin. She discovered the Bravil Fighters Guild branch had recently shipped out to ‘somewhere cold’. She also learned more details about the death of Hans Black-Nail – enough to conclude that Hans was a Mythic Dawn cultist and the Blades were almost certainly responsible for his demise.

*

Renee- My experience with horses was fairly limited prior to Buffy. She came out of the chute as a horse crazy elf though so my work was cut out for me as I schooled myself on horses. Wiki, Acadian Sr, mALX and Rider contributed greatly to what has become a workable enough knowledge, I think, to support a mage’s magical horse. I think you are right about stablehands. Buffy and Superian are very often on the road without access to stables however, so it has become a necessary habit for Buffy to ensure the mare’s needs herself. That frequent time together is important to Buffy and Superian both.

SubRosa- We’ll see more of Button before leaving Bravil. Buffy was absolutely thinking about Pappy, Tadrose and Teresa when she learned that the FG had shipped out to ‘somewhere cold’. You and I both enjoy the creativity of incorporating magic into daily matter-of-fact life. Yup, I think we got old Hans’ number.

Rider- It was fun spending time with both Nilawen and Daenlin since they both figured so prominently into her childhood in Bravil. As you recall, Nilawen was midwife at Buffy’s birth upstairs in her shop while Daenlin sat nervously on the front steps of the shop with Buffy’s father as the rising sun announced Buffy’s birth.

macole- We adjusted Buffy’s height in Oblivion to 0.88 and her weight to 0.80. Our target for her is 4’10” and 85 lbs. I figure Daenlin is about 5’4” so Buffy should be able to peek over his shoulders. Incidentally, Buffy thinks in terms of standing 14.5 hands to the top of her head and weighing 6 stone.

Lopov- Thanks for noting the scene in Daenlin’s shop. I try to bring attention to the beautiful relationship between the old archery master and his devoted protégé whenever the opportunity allows. Even though Buffy will not agree, Daenlin realizes the skill of the student has eclipsed that of the master – and he views that as his greatest achievement.

* * *

Episode 23

After a short predawn ride, I had unsummoned Superian’s tack and already given her a light grooming by the time the sun spilled its first golden rays into the stable. Though the facility was modest, Antoine kept it well-mucked out and reliably ensured his guests had plenty of fresh hay and clean water available. “Dawn,” I complained with a giggle, “I’m trying to treat Superian to a couple handfuls of grain here and I can’t see what I’m doing with you fluttering around my face!” I sighed as the butterfly quite ignored my hint for her to move out of the way. By the time I finished and headed back to the guild for breakfast, Dawn had winged away.

I frowned as I contemplated my pending appointment at the castle later in the morning. While Count Leyawiin was an ally and could be relied upon to conduct business in a gracious and courtly manner, my limited dealings with Count Bravil had shown him to be a rather pompous boor and openly disdainful toward Bosmer.

*

Count Regulus Terentius slouched upon his throne in wrinkled blue velvet that had seen better days. I was not encouraged by the frown as he read my letter of introduction from the Arch Mage. When finished, he passed the parchment to Fathis Aren. “Tell me, Court Wizard, is this genuine? Am I to believe Traven trusts a bark biter dressed in animal skins to do his bidding?” He turned to me as Fathis began studying the letter. “Viera tells me you recovered the body of a Legion rider while frolicking in the forest or whatever you elves do. She believes your story and talked me out of having you arrested for attempting to steal a Legion horse. I assure you though, that if you’re expecting some sort of reward for scavenging the dead, you’ve another thing coming. And you have the gall to call yourself a knight!“

“Milord, I am only a knight errant.”

“Yes, yes, and dubbed by that fool in Leyawiin.”

“Milord, I -“

“Silence!” he growled. “Alessia and I were quite close. Several times while enjoying my hospitality as she traveled to or from visiting her mother in Chorrol, the poor dear expressed concerns about how highly her husband spoke of you.” He looked me up and down as if undressing me with his eyes. “I can imagine the currency you used to purchase your title. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if you and Marius Caro framed Alessia for treason just so you could get her out of the -“

“Ahem.” The timely interruption came from Fathis Aren. “Milord, this missive from Arch Mage Traven is not only genuine, but the heir he refers to is consistent with what the Elder Council has told you.”

Count Terentius looked disappointed. “Damn mages are nothing but trouble; however, Traven has Ocato’s ear and ready access to the rest of the Council.” He sighed as if disgusted. “So, tree elf who would call herself both knight and mage, speak.”

I had expected a cool reception but was still taken aback by his uncourtly words and manner. I quickly convinced myself that the man’s petty insinuations paled in significance when measured against the task at hand. I would not allow him to goad me into an angry response. “Count Terentius, I briefly met Martin Septim some time ago and, more recently, have spoken with his champions. He needs your aide.” I then carefully detailed the grave situation. After describing Martin’s desperate plan to permanently seal shut the jaws of Oblivion, I added, “Tamriel’s next Emperor will remember those who assist Bruma during her time of need,” I paused briefly, “and those who do not.”

The Count’s face was unreadable as he turned to his guard commander. “Viera, does this elfling know what she’s talking about?”

The soldier’s voice was measured as she replied, “Dame Buffy’s name is known within the Legion. Those who served at Kvatch confirm that she entered Cyrodiil’s first Oblivion Gate with Captain Savlian Matius and helped him close it. She then fought at his side as the small force he commanded retook the city. Yes, Milord, she is well qualified to address the threat posed by Daedric hordes.”

“Matius!” spat the Count as he glared at me. “By kicking Dagon’s hornet nest at Kvatch, that fetcher escalated a minor inconvenience into an Empire-wide crisis! He was a damn fool and shows exactly what can happen when a low born ends up in charge of a city! Were you a true knight instead of a promiscuous camp follower, you would have convinced Matius that sacrificing one city to save the Empire is not unreasonable homage to a Daedra Lord.”

Both hands planted themselves on my hips and my chin jutted forward defiantly. “My reputation is of no import beyond carrying the words of Martin Septim, but I will not allow insults to the Hero of Kvatch to go unanswered!" So much for not being goaded, Buffy. "Savlian Matius did indeed reject the folly of attempting to appease the Daedric Lord of Destruction’s insatiable appetite. He fully understood that Mehrunes Dagon's objective was - and still is - to turn all of Tamriel into a dead land of fire where Daedra rule. The valiant man who led Kvatch back from the brink of destruction paid for his city’s freedom with his very life. Will history record you as not lifting a finger to help Martin Septim reestablish the barriers protecting Nirn?”

Pale blue sparks of warning charged the air around Fathis Aren’s fingers. My irreverent words had also drawn Viera’s hand to the grip of her arming sword. The Count’s face reddened as he leaned forward to speak.

Suddenly, a feeling of terror penetrated my spirit. Superian was in danger! An instant later, a soldier burst into the great hall. “Milord!” He was out of breath and I could hear thunder rolling outside now that the doors were open. “An Oblivion Gate has just opened within arrow shot of our northern walls! Right on the tourney grounds!”

I vaguely remember Viera barking orders, but I was already in a dead run to my mare. Once outside the castle, the familiar dark sky and jagged bolts of lightning above only spurred me to greater speed. The distance wasn’t great, but I still had to pause briefly as I exited the city to magically restore my flagging endurance.

Posted by: SubRosa May 20 2020, 07:22 PM

So I guess in this case, Han did not shoot first...

Another lovely little interlude with Buffy's butterfly friend Dawn. I love how you are teasing these little things in the story, as we the reader know something about Dawn that Buffy does not.

It seems the hospitality of Count Terentius's court has not improved. Wow, Buffy is showing a lot of restraint. I don't think even January could have refrained from planting a knuckle sandwich in his jabber.

As I expected when Savlian Matius' name came up, Buffy's dander finally rose with it. She gave back with a great deal of poise and restraint.

Oh noes! I am used to bolts of lightning cracking from the sky heralding the arrival of one of Detroit's caped crusaders. But in this case, it surely means quite the opposite! Time for Buffy to do what she does best!

Posted by: Grits May 21 2020, 12:48 AM

Episode 22

“Well, stuff me gently,” I mused aloud.

*spits tea* laugh.gif “Over his shoulder” also made me smile.

The dark Fighters Guild reminded me of their fate in Teresa’s story. I’m glad they have a bigger role than the game gives them, but still. indifferent.gif

Episode 23

Yikes! Count Bravil was way worse than I was expecting. Dame Buffy was impressive with her controlled response. Whoa, but then he insulted Savlian! Yay, Buffy! Her reply to that was just as impressive.

Superian has found a Gate to Oblivion! ohmy.gif

Posted by: Lopov May 21 2020, 06:59 PM

I expected the meeting with Terentius to go bad, but I didn't foresee him mentioning Matius!

Before reading today's episode I remembered your words that death of Alessia Caro will influence Buffy's meeting with Terentius.

In Croatia there's a town called Split where I used to vacate years ago. There's a century-old saying in that town, which translated goes sth like "You can talk against me all you want, but don't say a bad word against Split." In Buffy's case it's Matius - she managed to keep it cool, but when Terentius put her fallen hero on display, Buffy's cup was full.

Let's see if Buffy's aid to Bravil will make him change his mind, although he doesn't come across as someone that'd apologize.

Posted by: SubRosa May 21 2020, 09:22 PM

Split? That is where Diocletion's palace is if I recall.

Posted by: Lopov May 22 2020, 09:48 AM

Very good! Have you been there or are you familiar with it because of the palace?

Posted by: SubRosa May 22 2020, 06:09 PM

I have never been. I just know it from reading Roman history, and seeing pictures. It is a great place to build an Imperial palace.

Posted by: Acadian May 27 2020, 12:39 PM

Previously- Buffy met with Count Bravil and relayed Martin Septim’s plans as well as his request for aide to Bruma. When the subject of Kvatch came up, the Count launched a tirade against Savlian Matius. Buffy lost her temper and strongly defended the valor and choices of the Hero of Kvatch. Before the Count could react to having his views openly challenged in his own court, the meeting was interrupted with news that an Oblivion Gate had just opened right outside the city’s north gate. Simultaneously, Buffy sensed Superian’s fear. All thoughts of the tense situation in the throne room evaporated as Buffy raced out of the castle to ensure the safety of her precious mare.

*

SubRosa- Thanks for noting the interlude with Dawn; we’ll lift the veil for Buffy about the butterfly in a couple episodes. Even though Buffy’s reaction was somewhat restrained, her impertinent words were still quite risky, given the power and hostility wielded by Count Terentius in his own court. The Oblivion Gate’s fortuitous timing likely kept Buffy out of Bravil’s dungeon – or worse.

Grits- I’m so glad that ‘Well, stuff me gently,’ caused its desired reaction. It is a rather unique saying that Buffy borrowed from Mrs Acadian and I find elegantly endearing. I too spit tea the first time I heard it. tongue.gif I slightly preceded the guard’s notification about the Oblivion Gate by a warning from Superian as a good opportunity to show the mystical bond between the elf and her dragon-mare.

Lopov- Buffy had good reason to be proud of her restraint in the face of insults to her own morals and character. Insulting her late Savlian, however, was predictably more than she could tolerate. As ever, when it comes to protecting those she loves, Buffy never counts the cost. You are correct that one of the reasons for the Countess Alessia execution subplot back in Leyawiin was to support this scene with Count Terentius.

* * *

Episode 24

Soldiers, backed up by townsfolk armed with axes or spears, had formed a ragged skirmish line between the open Oblivion Gate and the approach to the bridge that provided access into Bravil. Defenders outnumbered Daedra at this point and the defense seemed to be holding. Arrows, from atop the city’s north wall flew over my head to engage foes as they emerged from the Deadlands. As I sped across the bridge I noted that the defenders’ positioning also provided some protection for my destination – the stable.

I met Antoine at the corral’s entrance, pitchfork in hand and defiantly ready to protect the horses entrusted to his care. Isabeau was furiously tossing bucketfuls of water onto the stable’s wooden roof and walls to help ward the facility from errant daedric embers or sparks.

The horses were clustered together in one corner of the paddock. I considered asking Acadian to recall our dragon-mare to safety within me, but as quickly rejected the idea; she was not the only horse in danger. Button, the chapel’s draft shire was in clearly in charge though her eyes displayed fear. Aetherius was near panic and reared as I approached. Although Superian was the youngest of the three and fidgeting with uncertain energy, she also had seen more than one Oblivion Gate. She settled quite a bit as soon as she saw me, but it took a calming spell to keep Aetherius’ front hooves on the ground.

“Here, get these on and we’ll take them into the city.” The urgent voice was that of Mara’s living saint, Olava. We quickly had halters on all three horses and led them out of the corral.

Passing Antoine, I assured him, “Olava and I will get the horses inside the city and calmed down.” We then led our frightened charges back across the bridge. Focused on getting my mare to safety, I barely noticed the blue velvet gown of Delphine Jend as she breezed past us on her way out of the city.

When we reached the gate, the young Imperial soldier on duty protested, “You can’t bring those animals into -“

Olava cut him off. “We’re taking these frightened horses to safety. Unless you want the Goddess of Fertility to shrivel your stones to raisins, you’ll let us pass!”

In the chaos around us, he probably didn’t notice the subtle emerald glow to my hand as I gently touched his arm and added, “Please?”

He did as we asked.

Once inside the walls, Olava turned to me. “Buffy, get back out there and earn your keep as the City of Mara’s knight. I’ll tether the horses behind the chapel.”

I nodded, handed her Superian’s lead and ran back out the gate.

On the skirmish line, Gaius Prentus seemed to be in charge. “If you’ll shield me with your steel,” I offered, “my bow and spells are at your service.”

“Aye, we could use the help, Buffy.”

My potent illusion spells quickly proved their worth as I was able to immobilize or command Daedra almost as soon as they exited the flaming portal. That made them easy kills for Bravil’s defenders. “Where’s Viera?” I asked.

“When there’s a threat, Count Terentius’ standing orders are for Captain Lerus and Fathis Aren to serve as his personal bodyguards.” The soldier spat on the body of a dead scamp at his feet. “Damn waste of a skilled officer and powerful wizard if you ask me.”

A chilling thought struck as I looked around. “Where’s Delphind Jend? I saw her coming out here.”

Gaius winced and pointed toward the stone maw belching flames from the Deadlands.

Both hands found my hips. “You let her go in there by herself?!?”

The soldier replied sheepishly. “I ordered her to stand down. . . .”

I caught myself. “I’m sorry, Gaius, you’re right. I don’t know anyone who can stop Delphine.”

“I heard you closed one of these things?”

“Three,” I replied absently as I realized Delphine didn’t even have any water. My thoughts were interrupted as I cast an emerald swirl of magic to immobilize an emerging daedroth. The arrow I loosed to chase my spell was but one of half a dozen from the city walls behind us that dropped the beast before it could recover from my illusion.

“Buffy,” said Gaius, “now that the situation out here has stabilized somewhat, do you think I should send in a team to try and find Delphine?”

“No,” I replied adamantly, “anyone not in physical contact with her when she removes the sigil stone will perish. During one of Guildmagister Kud-Ei’s weekly training sessions, I described how to close an Oblivion Gate. Delphine was there so she knows what she’s in for. If the gate still stands after two days, we can assume she’s failed and I will go in to try and close it.”

He frowned. “So all we can do is wait?”

“Our city and its defenders are counting on your leadership to hold this line.” I touched his arm gently. “Look, Gaius, Delphine is the most skilled destruction mage I know. If anyone can power their way through the Deadlands, it is she.”

“I understand that one of my mages is inside that thing?” I turned toward the Argonian voice to see Kud-Ei. Towering above her was my guildmate Carandial. After Gaius and I both nodded, she continued to the soldier, “Don’t feel badly. Not even I can control Delphine when she sets her mind to a challenge. I can assure you the rest of my guild is better at taking direction. Buffy has told me that closing an Oblivion Gate can take up to a day or two so I’ve organized my mages into pairs to augment your line for eight hours at a time. Carandial and I are your first shift.”

“Thank you, Magister,” replied Gaius. “The help is most welcome.”

Carandial said, “Ardaline’s working overtime so we can keep you stocked with potions of healing and resist fire.” To emphasize his point, the Altmer held up a bag that softly tinkled from the sound of many vials. He then turned to me and added, “We passed Olava near the chapel; thanks for helping to get my gelding to safety.”

“My mages can do field healing,” the Argonian’s soothing voice continued. “Mara’s high priestess assures me the chapel is standing by for any wounded who need more involved or prolonged care.”

Soon, Gaius Prentus and Kud-Ei had things organized into a sustainable defense to protect the city.

Several townsfolk brought food provided by the city’s two taverns out to us. Nilawen moved slowly through the line of defenders with a heavily laden hand cart, offering water and arrows to those in need. I was grateful for the self-replenishing magic of my quiver as I waved off Nilawen’s offer to fill it. The Bosmer blew stray black strands of hair from her tired face. “Daenlin is with the other archers up on the north wall, Buffy. He said to tell you he thought you’d be safer and more effective up there with him.”

I shook my head. “Daenlin’s right about archers, but my spells are mostly illusion. Their slow rate of travel does better against moving foes at closer range.”

As I was wolfing down the ham and flatbread that a kind serving girl from one of the taverns had given me, Kud-Ei approached. “I’m glad to see you eating something, Buffy. As soon as you finish that, you must sleep.”

“Buf, Maghiphter. . . .”

“Don’t ‘But Magister’ me, Journeyman. You and Henantier are the guild’s next team on duty, and I will not have a tired mage in charge of the guild's small detachment out here.”

I gulped as I emptied my mouth. “In charge?”

“Yes, Henantier is quite skilled, but you outrank him and have vastly more experience combating Daedra.”

I nodded obediently. “I’ll sleep in the stable, so I’ll be close.”

“That will be fine,” she replied. “I’ll wake you for your watch.”

As I curled up with a blanket in a dark corner of the hay loft, comforting smells of the stable battled with the rolling sound of thunder and occasional scream of a dying Daedra. Fatigue must have won however, for Kud-Ei woke me from a sound sleep. “Carandial and I are returning to the guild to rest now. Henantier has joined several fresh soldiers on the defensive perimeter. Caccian Apinia is in command while Gaius Prentus and some of the other soldiers are trying to grab some sleep in the guardhouse. Aryarie and Ita Rienus will relieve you in eight hours if Delphine is still inside the Oblivion Gate by then.”

I was disheveled and stiff, but adequately rested. The eerie red light of the Oblivion sky made it difficult to tell if it was still daylight or if night had fallen. As I joined the line, I exchanged grim smiles with Caccian, Henantier and the others on duty.

And so our vigil continued, as Daedra continued to trickle from the Deadlands at the rate of three or four per hour.

It was nearly a score of foes later when we heard and felt a low rumble.

The flaming portal flickered, then began to crumble. A burst of white light engulfed the entire structure momentarily blinding me. Just as quickly, the brilliance faded to reveal the gate was closed. Huddled on the ground in front of the broken stones was the figure of a woman in shreds of blue – sigil stone clutched to her breast.

Posted by: ghastley May 27 2020, 02:03 PM

And now we all want to know, did her enemies explode? biggrin.gif

Posted by: macole May 27 2020, 05:27 PM

Cheers for Delphine!

Posted by: haute ecole rider May 27 2020, 06:00 PM

I agree with ghastley, how many enemies exploded inside that Gate? tongue.gif

It was very interesting to see this from the defenders' point of view. Julian always took it on herself to go into those Gates on her own, so we never had the opportunity to see how such defenses could be organized. Very well thought out, and my old pilus is nodding her head quite sagely.

I look forward to Delphine's debrief!

Posted by: SubRosa May 27 2020, 06:37 PM

That was a thoughful touch on your part to note that Isabeau was soaking the roof of the stable to dissuade fire from an errant spark taking root there. They clearly don't have the fireproof wood and thatch buildings that people in Skyrim do, which even dragon breath cannot set on fire...

Nice to see both Button and Olava again too!

Buffy can be quite charming, when she casts a certain spell with a subtle green glow.

I think you would have be fire proof, lightning proof, and frost proof to stop Delphine...

This episode really is a nice re acquaintance of all our old friends from Bravil. I note that everyone is coming together and pitching in, without the aid or direction of the Count.

“Buf, Maghiphter. . . .”
This was just adorable! smile.gif

We have seen what it is like to go inside an Oblivion Gate and shut it plenty of times. This was a welcome example of showing us what that is like for the people waiting outside.

I imagine Delphjne's first words will be: "Look what they've done to my gown!"



nit:
Unless you want the Goddess of Fertility to shrivel your stones to raisons, you’ll let us pass!”
I am thinking you meant raisins?

Posted by: Lopov May 30 2020, 03:01 PM

You did a good job by mentioning various residents of Bravil and beyond, and described their roles in the battle this side of Deadlands. Like SubRosa, I like the description of Isabeau making sure that a doesn't catch her house and stables.

Even the guy in charge of watching over the gates to the Shivering Isles, has come to help! laugh.gif Nice to see that he still retains his sanity.

Posted by: Acadian Yesterday, 12:47 PM

Previously- While Buffy was helping to get Superian and the other horses to safety from an Oblivion Gate threatening Bravil, her guildmate Delphine Jend charged into the Daedric portal alone to close it. All Buffy and the other defenders could do was kill Daedra exiting the gate as they waited and hoped for the renowned destruction mage’s success. Eventually, the gate rumbled, flared up and closed. When the smoke cleared, they saw Delphine huddled on the ground with the sigil stone.

*

ghastley- Funny you should mention Delphine’s famous Enemies Explode spell. More on that coming up today!

macole- Though Delphine’s skills and tactics are very different than Buffy’s, it seems they worked pretty well.

Rider- It did indeed feel quite different writing this gate closure from the outside defenders’ perspective instead of the traditional champion’s inside role.

SubRosa- Thank you for noting Buffy’s more subtle approach to coaxing that guard to change his mind. Lacking the raw power of Delphine or Olava’s ability to threaten Divine wrath, Buffy has had to develop what works of her. More about Delphine’s gown coming right up! Thanks for noting that nit so I could quickly fix it.

Lopov- I was trying to depict a community effort here and it was easy for Buffy to imagine and incorporate what many of her friends in the city that she knows so well would be doing during this threat. I believe the game only names two Bravil guards (Gaius Prentus and Viera Lerus) so Buffy has, over her long story, named and developed a couple more (like Caccian Apinia).

* * *

Episode 25

Caccian Apinia pointed to me and shouted, “Buffy, go to her! Everyone else stand fast.”

I didn’t need to be told twice as I sprinted to Delphine, still huddled on the ground where moments ago had stood an open Oblivion Gate. Sliding to a stop on my knees, I laid glowing hands upon her shoulders and said, “Be still, Guildsister, while I assess your injuries.” What little remained of her gown was singed, ripped and marked with the stains of soot and dried sweat. The mage herself was uninjured, save minor burns and bruises.

“How do I silence this damn thing?” She held up the stone, seemingly quite unharmed.

I set about retrieving several items from my magic satchel. First out was a blouse into which I wrapped the sigil stone to silence its teeth-numbing buzz. Then my hand emerged with a waterskin, which Delphine gratefully put to her parched lips. Finally, I produced my University-issued mages robe. “It seems your foes claimed most of your gown, Delphine.”

The remnants of her dress fell away as I helped the Breton to her feet. I was ready and almost instantly had her bundled into my green robe. She proclaimed, “Those foul creatures will think twice before they try again to tangle with Delphine Jend!”

“I bet they will, my friend.” Wrinkling my nose, I added, “Let’s get you to the guild’s bathing pool.” She was only slightly unsteady on her feet as, arm-in-arm, we slowly started toward the city gate. The Oblivion sky had dissipated and, from low over the eastern shore of the Niben, a new sun bathed the walls of Bravil in golden light. A cheer rose from the line of brave soldiers and townsfolk who had stood against the forces of Mehrunes Dagon and protected Mara’s city.

As we walked toward the guild, Delphine extolled the power and versatility of using destruction magic to close an Oblivion Gate. “Quite a few of those daedric fetchers seem rather resistant to fire, but it is great fun to slow them to a crawl with ice, then make them convulsively dance to shock magic.” Her descriptions were replete with illustrative hand gestures and sound effects. I imagined we made for quite a sight.

Nearing the guild, I noticed Ranaline crossing the bridge from the Lonely Suitor where she worked as a cook. I had known the quiet Altmer all my life, but the look about her now was somehow different – determined? No, malevolent! Suddenly she filled her hands with magic and cried, “For Lord Dagon!” A moment later she was clad in crimson armor of the Mythic Dawn and brandishing a black mace with red daedric markings.

Delphine and I instantly responded with spells of our own. Before my emerald swirl had closed the distance, Delphine’s magic had engulfed Ranaline in fire, ice and lightning. As the Altmer quickly succumbed to the sudden elemental onslaught, her bound daedric trappings dissipated into yellow smoke. Only a pile of ash, some charred bones and a few persistent sparks remained.

“Honestly, Buffy, I’ll never understand you and Kud-Ei with your silly illusions. Why manipulate when you can obliterate?” She breathed deeply, “Ahh, I love the smell of fire, frost and shock in the morning!”

I had to smile at Delphine’s unflappability. Gesturing at the scattered and blackened bones, I asked, “I take it that was your famous Enemies Explode spell?”

Her smug nod was cut short as two guards quickly converged on the scene. I convinced them to let the Hero of Bravil continue to our guild for a well-deserved bath and rest by volunteering to remain and answer questions myself.

Enough Bravilians had seen the attack that the soldiers quickly accepted my assertion that Ranaline had been a sleeper agent for the Mythic Dawn and was likely retaliating against Delphine for closing one of Dagon’s Oblivion Gates. Although little evidence of the high elf remained, I suggested they search her room at the Lonely Suitor and told them Delphine or I could be reached at the Mages Guild if needed. That, probably along with having served alongside them for the past day or so, seemed to satisfy the pair of guardsmen.

Superian was my next concern so I headed for the Chapel of Mara. It seemed the Blades had ferreted out Hans Black-Nail as a Mythic Dawn cultist and eliminated him, but missed Ranaline. I hoped there were no others. Although the city was safe for the moment, I suspected Boderi’s task for me to solicit aid from Bravil had been a failure. Nevertheless, I was determined to let things rest overnight and try again the next day. Perhaps having an Oblivion Gate open right in front his city might change Count Terentius’ view on the crisis.

I found my mare and her stablemates tethered together behind the chapel, being spoiled by Olava as she doled out carrots from a basket. My arms found their way around Superian’s neck. “Thank Mara, you’re safe,” I whispered into her mane.

“They had an easier day and night of it than those of you protecting the city,” remarked Mara’s living saint. “Is the stable damaged?”

“Thankfully, no,” I replied. “Let’s get them home.”

She nodded, chuckled then replied, “They’ve nearly eaten the chapel out of apples and carrots.”

We escorted our small herd through the city and settled them back in at the stable. After being admonished by Antoine about overdoing the carrots and apples, Olava and I walked together back through town.

“Buffy, have you thought about your future as a knight?”

“I have, actually,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”

“You are a brave knight with a good heart and would be wise to consider serving the Nine as a paladin.”

After a moment of surprise, I found myself curious as to whether Olava’s question was coincidental or prophetic. “What can you tell me about paladins?”

“Well,” Olava began, “they are chosen by the Nine and, as such, are blessed with certain Divine powers and abilities. That said, each paladin has a sponsor – usually the Divine who most identifies with the nature of the prospective paladin.”

“What kind of powers and abilities?” I pressed.

“Alas, I’m a living saint. You would have to ask a paladin about that. Do you know any?”

“I do,” I replied with a smile as both Acadian and Boderi came to mind. “What’s the difference between a priest, living saint and paladin?”

Olava thought for a moment. “It’s a matter of emphasis. All three freely share the tenets of our Divines with those who seek such knowledge, but that is a priest’s primary focus. Each of us who fully embrace a Divine strive to live our lives in such a way as to provide an example; that, however is the forte of living saints like myself. We all try to combat evil and intervene on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves to the best of our abilities - but that, my young knight, is what paladins specialize in.”

“Do you think Mara might consider choosing me to sponsor?” I persisted.

She nodded. “I do. One needs only see you with your mare for a moment to know how full of love you are. The people of Bravil well remember what you did for Ursanne Loche and how you took care of that pond scum Kurdan gro-Dragol. Even now, you bear the marks of fighting Daedra to protect those you love in Mara’s city.”

We stopped upon reaching the steps of Mara’s Great Chapel. “But. . . isn’t fighting inconsistent with the Goddess of Love?”

The Nord stared down at me disapprovingly. “Buffy, did someone drop you on your head? Would you say the same of a mother lion, wolf or bear as she protects her cubs?”

“I-I guess I hadn’t thought of it in those-“

She interrupted, “Having fought alongside your man at the bloody Battle for Kvatch you – better than most - surely understand the courage and righteous resolve that love can inspire.”

“I will think on your words, Living Saint of Mara.”

*

Fathis Ahren was waiting as I entered the guildhall. “I regret,” began the Court Mage, “that your audience with the Count yesterday did not go. . . smoothly, but I bring news I think you will be pleased to hear.” His manner was reserved but displayed no hint of hostility.

“I am also sorry the meeting did not go well,” I replied. “The Oblivion Gate was perhaps a necessary and timely interruption.”

“So it would seem. That such a portal of destruction opened right outside the very gates of his city, combined with one of your guild’s mages closing it, doubtless influenced the Count’s change of heart. He has just dispatched a contingent of guards to Bruma per the request of Martin Septim.”

I smiled. “I am certain that our future Emperor, as well as the Arch Mage, will be most appreciative and remember Bravil’s timely assistance. With Guildmagister Kud-Ei’s permission, I shall ride north early on the morrow to relay this welcome news.”

Fathis returned my smile somewhat stiffly, turned and left the guildhall.

As the door closed behind him, I heaved an audible sigh of relief.

“It sounds like congratulations are in order, Journeyman,” remarked the nearby Kud-Ei who had doubtless overheard my conversation with Fathis. “And heading back to Boderi at the University tomorrow would be an excellent idea.”

“I’m just relieved that I can avoid another encounter with Count Terentius.”

Kud-Ei chuckled softly. “Yes, I find it a prudent practice to avoid that man as much as possible.”

Posted by: haute ecole rider Yesterday, 01:44 PM

QUOTE
She proclaimed, “Those foul creatures will think twice before they try again to tangle with Delphine Jend!”
and
QUOTE
“Ahh, I love the smell of fire, frost and shock in the morning!”
I quote these two because they capture, in just two sentences, what I consider the very essence of Delphine Jend. Not to mention they made me laugh into my tea. And no, no tea ended up on my keyboard, fortunately.

And I see Buffy was as practical and ready as ever. From handling the round buzzsaw, to slaking Delphine's thirst, to providing cover -
QUOTE
The remnants of her dress fell away as I helped the Breton to her feet. I was ready and almost instantly had her bundled into my green robe.
- of a questionable fashion, she was on top of everything before anyone else had a chance to realize they were saved.

And what an emphatic demonstration of Enemies Explode! I can't think of a more appropriate target for that in this instance!

And nice explanation of priest, living saint and paladin and how they all fit together. Julian was nodding along with Olava. Though she never set out to be one, Julian understands the motivations that drive paladins to do what they do.

Posted by: Renee Yesterday, 04:48 PM

QUOTE
My experience with horses was fairly limited prior to Buffy. She came out of the chute as a horse crazy elf though so my work was cut out for me as I schooled myself on horses. Wiki, Acadian Sr, mALX and Rider


No kidding. Yes it's good to have all these people and sites to learn from.

Wow, what a doochebag Count Terentius is. He's even worse than the count of Leyawiin. I love that a gate opens up just as Terentius seems about to be making some sort of move on Buffy. Isn't she from Bravil? What a warm welcome back home. indifferent.gif


Nice. Buffy casts a charm spell upon that soldier to persuade him it's okay to move those animals to safety.

No kidding. Delphine closes the Bravil gate! I did not expect that. That is a nice touch that so many names get mentioned, as though the entire town is needed to conquer this thing, not just the typical Champion of Cyrodiil.

Posted by: SubRosa Yesterday, 05:48 PM

Oh no, Delphine's clothes! ohmy.gif laugh.gif

Ranaline is a Mythic Dawn agent?!? I had no idea. Look out Buffy!

“Ahh, I love the smell of fire, frost and shock in the morning!”
It smells like... victory? wink.gif

That was a very pleasant and illuminating discussion of priests, saints, and paladins with the fair Olava. It was a nice way for you to weave some exposition into things, while still keeping the story moving.

It says a lot about the Count, that Bravil's mages would rather spend days locked in combat with Daedra than have to be in the same room as him. It is one of the many ways that you have shown the Count's lack of leadership (along with him most pointedly not being there for he duration of the gate being open).

Posted by: Lopov Yesterday, 07:40 PM

I love Delphine's opening sentence - how to shut up the Sigil Stone! laugh.gif

Their walk through the town is very picturesque and they disposed of Ranaline with ease. It was probably quite unusual for Buffy that she was a sleeper, considering how long she knew her, but at least she wasn't attached to her in any way.

I was wondering if there'll be another meeting with Terentius but it's good for both parties that there won't be, I guess.

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