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Acadian
post Feb 21 2018, 06:59 PM
Post #181


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



It is clear these witches know the Castius family well and have some pretty potent magicks. Nice job of weaving some of what we know of Vera’s past in here.

So, recover, portal off to the Reach and behead a Reachmen matriarch. . . what could possibly go wrong? ohmy.gif


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BretonBlood
post Feb 21 2018, 08:46 PM
Post #182


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Joined: 9-March 15



Interesting. These witches know the Castius family well it seems.

These witches also like to make this seem like somewhat of an easy task. Just portal Vera there, kill the witch and take her head, then portal back. But as we know nothing goes according to plan. Not mention where there are reachmen with a witch there is bound to be a briarheart.


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“People love that cliché ‘Time heals all wounds’ but live long enough you realize that most clichés are true. It’s amazing what even the smallest passage of time can accomplish…the cuts can close, the imperfections it can smooth over. But in the end it comes down to the size of the wound, doesn’t it....”
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Darkness Eternal
post Mar 5 2018, 11:15 PM
Post #183


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From: The Hunting Grounds



Acadian: The witches of Glenmoril deal with many different people in their journey. I'd imagine most people who come to them are afflicted with lycanthropy or vampirism, and want a cure. Others seek to become such things as we've learned from the history of the Companions and other accounts in lore.

Good question! I'm guessing lots of things can go wrong. But Vera has a knack for improvising.

smile.gif

BretonBlood:

Glenmoril Witches were never known to be quite honest with their intentions. We have seen them in a more noble light in eso with their fierce protection of nature in general, but the later installments show them as pesky and deceptive. There's much Vera doesn't know here.

But being a werewolf can improve her chances, and I don't only mean in combat.

Previously on Blood Coin: Vera learns that her task is to kill a hagraven in exchange for her dagger, and that her quest lies in the Reach, in Reachmen territory. During her stay Vera spends time with Nyronie.

=Blood Coin: Old Dog, Tricky Tricks=


Nyronie wasn't as bad as the other woman.

The homely young Breton had kept to herself all through my stay, spending most of her time with her potions, working on her alchemy stations and brewing concoctions. She had cooked and cleaned game as well, and told me that she could hunt as well as any. After spending days in the cave recovering (sleeping and eating mostly), the old hag asked me rather crudely if I wanted to help Nyronie hunt while she prepared the portal to the Reach. I obliged.

On our way, she recorded their material and cultural story—including the firsthand accounts of how they traveled, lived, and hunted, their shamanic rituals, songs, dreams, powers and stories. I never felt angered by her taking of my dagger, not really. She was only doing what was required of her. She must have felt lonely up there in the mountains with that old woman.

Nyronie seemed content to be away from the cave.

We walked over an intricate labyrinth of cold plinths. Clouds increased, light waned, yet it was morning. A glow marked the spot where the sun was trying to rise but we veered north, away from it. Behind us, in the mountains, a river’s fast-moving riffles had frozen in place. Everywhere the shifting ice was saffron, then pink, then indigo—Skyrim’s asperity both a physical clarity and a voluptuousness.

How long we hunted and searched for food I could not say. It was peaceful here in these parts despite the overwhelming cold. Here, I could hear birds singing, the murmur of foxes, leaves rustling in a gentle wind. Thousands of years ago Skyrim was made of ice and darkness, water and light, meat eaten raw and dried, and skins-dog, horkers, bear, elk, snow hare, and duck-that were sewn into clothes, tents, and bedrolls. Much hasn’t changed since then. This was home away from home for any Nord.

Nyronie never once asked me about anything personal: my condition, my family, my history. And never did I offer any information in return. She was driven and focused on the task at hand. It was only after we killed a horker did she make a passing comment on how well I hunted.

I turned to give her an appraising glance. I liked what I saw. A Breton, this I knew at first glance when she showed me her true form; lean and longlegged, with red hair, wind-chafed skin, strong sure hands, a knife at her belt. Her nose was too sharp for her thin face, but her smile made up for it. I judged her a few years older than I was, but no more than seven-and twenty. She moved as if she were used to a mountain of snow beneath her feet with all the meat and food she carried with her. I also carried some of the load in a bag of cloth.

“Zyssa says you’re lazy,” Nyronie said after a lengthy trek through the wild. “That you sleep all day long.”

I studied Nyronie’s sly smile, wondering what it meant. That young witch had a way of looking as though she knew some secret jest that only she was privy to; I had never liked it. I never asked how old Nyronie was but she couldn’t have been over thirty. The old hag, whose name was Zyssa, must have been past her sixties.

“I say Zyssa has a stick up her arse,” I murmured. “What’s her problem anyway?”

“Zyssa is wise and old,” Nyronie explained. “She’s been one of our most respected sisters since she joined us.”

“How old was she?” I asked.

“Very young. Unwanted girl-children are brought to the Wyrd by distressed parents. Zyssa was given to the Glenmoril Coven over eighty years ago.”

Guess she's well past her sixties . . .

“That old witch, she’s a damn fish-wife,” I told her, swearing, “though she’s not sweet like you.”

“Aha.” She grinned modestly. “I’d best be careful. This skin-shifting huntress has a honeyed tongue.”

I smiled and felt my face crack. “Come taste it and see.”

That amused her; I could see the sparkle in her dark eyes. “A Wyrd sister and a werewolf aren’t always the greatest match,” she said in a voice of wounded reproach. “We better return. We’ve wandered off too far than we should have.”

Someone out there had gotten a fire started; I could smell woodsmoke drifting through the trees, and the smoky scent of burning elk. I took down my cloak and snapped it against the rock, shattering the thin crust of ice that had formed around it, then gathered up my crossbow and shrugged an arm through a shoulder strap. A few yards away I made water into a frozen bush, and as I did a sound rose out of the wilderness, faint and distant, but unmistakable: the howling of wolves. Their voices rose and fell, a chilly song, and lonely. It made the hairs rise along the back of my neck. Across the snow, a pair of eyes regarded me from the afar from a furry face.

“Dog,” I breathed, surprised. “What are you doing all the way out here?” The brown mutt wagged its tail; he didn’t shy away from me. “Where is your master?” I asked. “Here. To me, dog.”

The shaggy dog circled around, sniffing me, sniffing the wind, never still. It did not seem as if he were after food right now: he looked fat and strong. He was completely healthy.

Nyronie came from the bushes behind us, startled at first and then curious. “You made a friend.”

My hands ran over the hound’s head and it shied away. I nodded at the Breton, and it was at that single moment that the hound took a bite of the food I had, snatching the sack away. And then he was off, bounding past me, racing through the snow and trees. Rising to my feet I sniffed the air and saw the smoke coming from the direction the dog ran off toward and assumed that’s where his owner was.

“Clever beast. Are you going to follow it?” Nyronie asked me.

I shrugged. “Last time I followed an animal that took something from me it turned out to be something else,” I said after consideration. “But . . . I didn't walk for hours only to have a dog take my food. I’ll be right back.”

“Be quick about it,” said Nyronie. “We don’t want to keep Zyssa waiting.”

I figured we ought to be safe here. The hill offered commanding views, and the slopes here in Skyrim were precipitous to the north and west and only slightly gentler to the east. Yet as the dawn came and light with it, my sense of foreboding grew. Something didn’t feel right.

The terrain was terrible, the slope steep, stony, and uneven. A moment’s inattention would be a sure way to break an ankle . . . or my neck. What am I doing? I asked myself as I picked my way down.

The trees stood beneath me, warriors armored in bark and leaf, deployed in their silent ranks. Faintly, I heard the sound of water flowing over rocks. The mangy dog vanished in the underbrush. I struggled after him, listening to the call of the brook, to the leaves sighing in the wind. Branches clutched at my cloak, while overhead thick limbs twined together and shut out the clouds.

I found the dog lapping from an unfrozen stream. “Dog,” I called, “to me. Now!” When the dog raised his head, his eyes were wide and impish, and water streamed down from his jaws like slaver. He panted and picked up the sack of meat again in mischievous delight. “Dog, no, stay,” I shouted, but the hound paid no heed. The sturdy brown shape was swallowed by the trees, and I had only two choices—to climb the hill again, alone, or to follow.

I followed, angry, running as my legs could allow past the rocks that threatened to trip me with every step, the thick roots that seemed to grab at my feet, the holes where someone could twist an ankle. Every few feet I called again for the dog, but the wind was swirling among the branches and it drank the words.

This is madness, I thought as I plunged deeper into the trees. I was about to turn back when I glimpsed a flash of white off ahead and to the right, back toward the hill. I jogged after it, cursing under my breath. Crashing past the trees and into an open clearing I saw the dog retreat into a tent of what looked to be a campsite, and all around him were men clad in armor. Imperial armor.

My sudden careless appearance through the brush and bracken drew a few curious stares, and my heart skipped a beat in my chest. It was then and there that I knew I had to run back the way I came.

Damn dog, I sniggered as the men in front of me made motion. I did not know what was more terrifying: the sound of a dozen swords drawn as one or the look on Arnskar’s face as he saw me again.

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Mar 26 2018, 08:44 PM


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"Every human spends a night or two on the dark side and regrets it. But what if you only exist on the dark side? We just want the same things that you do: a chance at life, at love. And so we try and sometimes fail. But when you're something other, a monster, the consequences are worse. Much worse. You wake up from your nightmares. We don't."
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BretonBlood
post Mar 5 2018, 11:59 PM
Post #184


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Joined: 9-March 15



Vera getting to go out and about to hunt with Nyronie was a nice chance for Vera to clear her head and get away from Zyssa. Vera is quite the the silver-tongued devil as she seems to be getting on Nyronie's good side.

Speaking of there were two parts where you spelled her name Nyrome instead of Nyronie:

“Zyssa says you’re lazy,” Nyrome said after a lengthy trek through the wild. “That you sleep all day long.”

I studied Nyrome’s sly smile, wondering what it meant.


Anyways, I did not see that coming, I was expecting Vera to come across a lone hunter in the mountains, not the Imperials she was running from that led to her current situation. I can't wait to see what happens next, will she end up leading them to the cave where the witches are??


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“People love that cliché ‘Time heals all wounds’ but live long enough you realize that most clichés are true. It’s amazing what even the smallest passage of time can accomplish…the cuts can close, the imperfections it can smooth over. But in the end it comes down to the size of the wound, doesn’t it....”
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Acadian
post Mar 6 2018, 08:45 PM
Post #185


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Yes, a nice respite with the young witch and werewolf. Nice to see Vera feeling well enough to get a little flirty.

’The trees stood beneath me, warriors armored in bark and leaf, deployed in their silent ranks. Faintly, I heard the sound of water flowing over rocks.’ - - Another great example of the evocative way you paint scenes – nice!

I was as surprised as Vera and BretonBlood when she stumbled into that camp of her former captors! Such a shame she did not discover their camp without alerting them. Would have allowed her to plot some bloody revenge. evillol.gif


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mALX
post Mar 16 2018, 08:09 PM
Post #186


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN





=Blood Coin: The Witch's lair, II=

I am so intrigued about this witch knowing so much about her family! Really interesting twist on the story you spun in here!


=Blood Coin: Old Dog, Tricky Tricks=

Oh crap! GAAAAAAAAH!!! What a cliffhanger! Urgh. Awesome Write!





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Darkness Eternal
post Mar 27 2018, 01:51 AM
Post #187


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Joined: 10-June 11
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BretonBlood: Vera has always had this smooth-tongued side to her I suppose. Thanks for pointing that out. I fixed the error. Heh.

Vera coming across them was indeed a random event, as she expected them to move out since they had leads on the bandits going to Falkreath Hold. We'll find out why some of them remained, and why. I'm sure you remember the healer that aided Vera in recovering, right? smile.gif

Acadian: Revenge against the Imperials is the last thing she has on her mind, though Arnskar is a different story. Despite them nearly hauling her off to jail the Imperial soldiers did save her from a terrible fate at the hands of Vanton and his brigands. But don't worry. She's hatched a plan now wink.gif

mALX: Glenmoril witches must deal with many werewolves and servants of Hircine across their travels, mostly because they're well-known for providing cures and answers about the condition as well as gravitating toward places where lycanthropy spreads. Skyrim has an abudance of werewolves. Funny I was going to mention this meeting in the first story but all I wrote out due to length was Carterious exploring the regions and having his lycanthropy awaken from its dormant state after his encounter with the feral child in the mountains. I'd make sense he'd return with his daughter for more answers on this.

Thanks guys!






Previously on Blood Coin: During time spent with Nyronie Vera comes across an Imperial Camp.

=Blood Coin: The Climb=


I mistakenly thought these bastards were in Falkearth by now.

There were seven of them. For a moment I was uncertain on what to do. I had a crossbow in my hand, and I still must do what I wanted to avoid doing since I last met him. Killing Arnskar. My eyes followed the one closest to me as he made motion.

“Surrender lass,” the man said. “This doesn’t have to be painful.”

It all seemed to happen in a heartbeat. Before I could admire the courage of the man who ran first toward me, I pulled the lever of my crossbow and one of the two bolts I had took him right in the belly.

As he fell in pain, I ran. Ran as fast as I could. There were six of them now, and only one of me.

For a long way I stayed to the trail to the top, following its twists and turns as it snaked along the side of a mountain, growing upward, ever upward. The path I chose would never have served for any horses. In places I had to put my back to the cold stone and shuffle along sideways like a crab, inch by inch. Even where the track widened it was treacherous; there were cracks big enough to swallow a man’s leg, rubble to stumble over, hollow places where the water pooled by day and froze hard by night. One step and then another, I told myself. One step and then another, and I won’t fall.

The soldiers were relentless in their pursuit. At times loosing arrows at me, each time they made a sound like a flock of birds taking wing. But the winds kept their arrows at bay, and thus far only two had nearly hit me. Above me, a raven cawed loudly as it circled ahead. I didn’t dismiss this as Nyronie, for it followed me throughout my climb and seemed to try and tell me something, perhaps to keep climbing. The portal was on the summit as I've been told. I only hoped these men pursuing me wouldn’t hinder the witch from playing her part. If only I had wings to fly up there like they do.

The hair on my head was soon stiff with frost. Several minutes into the climb, the wind kicked up so fiercely that it was all I could do to hunch down and cling to the rock, praying I would not be blown off the mountain. One step and then another, I resumed when the gale subsided. One step and then another, and I won’t fall. I had to be careful. The fall would kill me just as readily as any stray arrow or vindictive Legion soldier.

Granted, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was trying so hard to survive, given that my entire reason for being had gone up in flames over the past days. I had no family, no loyalty to anyone but myself. So why bother to go on living?

Habit and instinct, I suppose.

The peak above beckoned to me. I glimpsed skeletal oak and beech trees through the blowing wind. If I could just make it to the top, I might be able lose my pursuers in the dense wilderness. I was almost there.

I heard them shouting back and forth to each other. They sounded mad, anxious . . . and completely bewildered. I couldn’t blame them for being confused. They probably weren’t used to female fugitives who kept running as fast as I did, in this weather. Despite the elements, I was still outpacing them.

But for how much longer? I could feel my strength ebbing. Halfway up the mountain, I took a pause, exhausted. Every muscle in my body ached. My legs felt like worms. Glancing down over my shoulder, I saw that the men were gaining ground, though there were five of them now. Their flushed, angry faces promised little mercy at their hands. I felt like a monster being chased by a mob of torch-wielding villagers. But I mustered my strength and went on.

Soon I was high enough so that looking down was best not considered. One step and then another, I thought, clinging tight.

The narrow climb ended at once where a massive shoulder of black granite thrust out from the side of the mountain. Suck on the mountain’s breast, I told myself. Don’t you dare look down. Keep your weight above your feet. Don’t look down. Stare at the rock in front of you. There’s a good grip, aye. Don’t look down. I can catch a breath on that ledge there, all I need to do is reach it. Never look down.

Once my foot slipped as I put my weight on it and my heart stopped in my chest, but my prayers were answered and I did not fall. I could feel the cold seeping off the rock into my fingers, but I dared not use my gloves; gloves would slip, no matter how tight they seemed, and with the cloth and fur moving between skin and stone, and up here that could kill me. My burned hand was stiffening up on me, and soon it began to ache. Then I ripped open my thumbnail somehow, and after that I left smears of blood wherever I put my hand. I hoped I still had all my fingers by the end of the climb.

Up I went, and up. I was close now, though. I could sense it. Even so, I did not think of the foes that were coming after me, all unknowing of my task at hand. Have to keep going, I realized, gasping for breath, the frigid air searing my lungs. Each new step was an unbearable ordeal. It seemed like sweat soaked through my shirt under my fur coat. My muscles could only work so much. I knew I was nearing my limit.

“You won’t get far! Climb down here! This is futile!” One of the men hurled threats and orders. I heard them panting in exertion as they clambered up the mountain after me. “Stop or we’ll kill you!”

I wasn’t even listening to them anymore. Not now, not when my hands reached the top. Reaching the crest of the mountain at last, I spotted a glowing circle of bright light that looked like a mirror, yet failed to reflect my surroundings. The portal, I guessed. I staggered toward it, paying no mind to the two ravens circling around it. I tottered upon unsteady legs. The ground seemed to tilt vertiginously beneath my feet. I took a few more steps, then toppled forward onto the ground. Six inches of snow cushioned my fall. The frosty powder chilled my face, so cold it burned. Chest heaving, I lay prone upon the snow, unable to move another inch. I could barely lift my face out of the snow.

“Let them through the portal,” I told the ravens in a loud voice. “Close it after they’ve gone.”

In one swift motion I rose to my feet, and limped on toward the portal, crossbow dangling beside me as I dragged myself across the mountaintop and closed the distance between me and the portal. There, inches away from this magickal door, I reached out and passed through the threshold.

A hurricane roared to life, raging through my ears, seizing me and hurling me out through the gap along with a white fountain of flash-frozen air. I closed my eyes I was sucked through the portal, and rode out the transition from my frozen reality right into . . .

A regions of scars and fells as far as my eye could see. I was on a barren hill, devoid of trees and snow. The warmth spread through my fingers like melting butter as the sun above blessed my skin with its hot rays. Without the cold winds, the snowy terrain, and the weather it was a quieting place to look at, a sedative for weary nerves and bones.

Yet the mountain path here was just as perilous. Sabre cats prowled these passes, rock slides were common, and the Reach's clans were lawless brigands, descending from the heights to rob and kill and sacrifice. But I knew I wouldn't be alone. I was counting on some company . . .

The portal eventually spewed out snow-clad soldiers, and leading their charge was Arnskar. They all were confused by their surroundings, eyes wide with shock and wonder and concern.

My shoulders dropped and my knees bent and my crossbow came up to angle in front of my face. There were far too many for me to fight alone, but I didn't mind this time. With a fetching smile I dropped my crossbow in surrender. The were thrice as many Reachmen out here and my true form to rise should the soldiers me trouble.

And besides, at least I was out of the damn cold.


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"Every human spends a night or two on the dark side and regrets it. But what if you only exist on the dark side? We just want the same things that you do: a chance at life, at love. And so we try and sometimes fail. But when you're something other, a monster, the consequences are worse. Much worse. You wake up from your nightmares. We don't."
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BretonBlood
post Mar 27 2018, 02:14 AM
Post #188


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I must say I am shocked at Arnskar's resolve, I never pegged him as a man willing to climb a freezing mountain in Skyrim to catch Vera.

I absolutely loved the description of Vera going through the portal, I could imagine it perfectly!

I am also pondering Vera's decision to let the soldiers through the portal as well, I mean that is Arnskar with them... surely she knows they are taking her prisoner. I am thinking she plans on them being attacked and killed by Reachmen. But we will have to wait and see.


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“People love that cliché ‘Time heals all wounds’ but live long enough you realize that most clichés are true. It’s amazing what even the smallest passage of time can accomplish…the cuts can close, the imperfections it can smooth over. But in the end it comes down to the size of the wound, doesn’t it....”
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Acadian
post Mar 27 2018, 05:50 PM
Post #189


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What a wild and icy flight through the frozen mountains!

Even while fleeing for her life, Vera is a predator. I expect the tenacious Arnskar has just passed through a portal to his doom.


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Darkness Eternal
post Apr 3 2018, 04:44 PM
Post #190


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BretonBlood: Arnskar has been a thorn on Vera’s side since the first chapters of this story. If Vera hadn’t assaulted him back in the tent Arnskar wouldn’t be so willing. His drive to get her made him climb after her.

Vera’s decision is based on survival alone. She could still outrun them if she tried, but she knows the Reach is dangerous and there is truth in survival in numbers. They’re armed and armored and though few, they’re still better than one. Still, their chance of survival is slim. If Arnskar is there and half the camp, she just potentially removed a threat from existence by having them on the other side of Skyrim. Laws of the empire mean nothing in these parts.

The authorities aren’t so interested in one woman: Arnskar is. And he is the captain. Everyone else will turn a blind-eye to Vera’s disappearance. Arnskar and his men’s vanishing will be a mystery and the only clue the other guards will have is that he took a group into a portal. And nothing. They won't follow up any reports on her if they believe she's gone.

Acadian: Breath-taking and perilous! Oh you know it!

Previously on Blood Coin: With the Legion hot in pursuit, Vera makes another daring escape into the witch's portal and into the Reach, with the men of the Legion swiftly behind.

=Blood Coin: The Reach=


The men of the Legion approached warily, looking about confused and fearful of their surroundings. One tried to run back into the portal but it had closed seconds before. I counted five of them. Their large shields were painted with a dragon. Most of them hid their faces behind helms of steel. Two of them were archers, and they notched shafts to the strings of their bows, but did not loose. The rest seemed to be armed with spears and swords and looked about, murmuring to themselves. They were brave, just like me, for all I know that portal could’ve dropped me straight into Hircine’s throat.

Arnskar wasted no time as he freed his sword, brandishing it above his head. Good steel it was, with a wicked gleam its vicious edge; He was never a man to neglect his weapons. “What madness is this? Where are we?”

The men followed his lead, coming to me with malicious intent.

I pointed my crossbow away from the men, before I got myself hacked to pieces. “Where are your courtesies, Legionnaires? You wouldn’t execute a defenseless woman.” I forced a smile that must have looked as queasy as it felt. “You’re making a sad mistake, here, gentlemen. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. On my honor—”

“A mercenary’s honor,” Arnskar sneered. He held up his sword to me. “We know how much that’s worth. You left me scars. If you had more time you’d cut open my throat. Now tell me, where in Oblivion are we?”

“High Rock,” one said. “It seems.”

“The Reach,” another added. “We were transported to the Reach. Look, there, past the mountains, there’s the city of stone. Markarth. Gods . . .”

I felt the anger all around him, thick and smoky, fed by the words of Arnskar. “Kill her,” hissed some oafish-looking Imperial from the back, and other voices took up the call, faster than I would have believed. Strangers all, merciful enough only a moment ago in their call for me to surrender, now cried for my blood like hounds on a trail.

Speaking out loud, I tried to keep the quaver from my voice. “If Arnskar believes I have some crime to answer for, I will go back to jail and answer for it. But you men chose to follow me here. Killing me won’t get you back there sooner. Crimes committed in Winterhold shall be paid in Winterhold. I’ll try to find a way back to the Region but you need me alive to do it.”

It was the only possible course. Trying to cut my way out of this was a sure invitation to an early grave. Less than a half a dozen swords had responded to Arnskar’s bloodthirsty cry: all of them looked as though they’d kill me as soon as spit on me and yet they wavered. Besides, if it came down to it I could take them on with tooth and claw . . . but I’d rather have them with me when the Reachmen come.

And I knew they would come. These parts were remote, isolated and it was no coincidence the witches opened a portal here because of the proximity to the barbarians.

“How did you do it?” asked another, his voice familiar and young. I saw him step forth, removing his helm. I recognized Maccius at once, the healer who helped nurse me back. He had an old backpack with him, and looked pensive and tired. I had to admit, I was glad to see him. “Are you a mage?”

“Hardly. I didn’t think it would be opened long enough for you to come through but now we’re all here” I confessed and lied. I rearranged my words as to not seem useless. “But I can open a portal back.”

Arnskar wasted no time. “Open it or I swear to gods and men I’ll open your belly.”

“I . . . can’t now.” I said. “I need another . . . sigil stone.” My eyes fell to the remote wilderness and crags where Reachmen would choose to dwell. “There’s an ancient fort there where there’s more. I had dealings with the sorceress there. She can give me a sigil stone.” Only later had I realized how stupid I sounded. Sigil stone opens portals to Oblivion.

The men traded glances, and Arnskar spat on the dirt. “Lies. You expect us to believe that? You’ll lead us to our deaths. I’d take you to Markarth but,” he paused and marched to me. “I’ll gut you instead.”

“Arnskar! She’s surrendered.” Maccius screamed. “It’s murder to kill someone who's surrendered. We’re not criminals. Killing her will displease the gods, and in these forsaken lands we need their guidance now more than ever.”

Arnskar stopped in his tracks, considering the healer’s words. Killing me won’t get them back. Killing me would be of no benefit to them at all. And should he survive could he afford to ruin his life and career with such a crime? Surely there would be men in this group that would object? Or was Maccius the only one?

“Drop the crossbow,” sneered Arnskar. “And any weapons you have.”

Wasting no time, my crossbow dropped from my fingers. Soon after my knives followed along with my one-bolt quiver. I only had my teeth and nails for defense, or teeth and claws should they try anything. I hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Maccius was a good fellow. And he did save my life.

And so I surrendered. This wasn’t the best idea but it was the only idea I had at the time. Running wasn’t an option. Not here.

Wordlessly, I was being taken to Markarth. The cold had settled away from my bones yet my legs were so sore that I almost decided to stop for a few minutes. I had several hours more ahead of me, followed by a few mouthfuls of food and a short, cold sleep on hard ground, and then what could be another night of the same, and another, and another, and Divines only knew how it would end. “Damn Vanton,” I muttered as I struggled up the path next to my captors, remembering, “damn him and all those betrayers to Oblivion. I’’ll hunt them for all eternity.”

The memory was still bitter. One moment I was with Cocistian where by now I’d have my pockets full to bursting with coin, and an eye blink later I was beaten, cut open and scrambling naked into the frigid wasteland my people called home.

Once the soldiers gained the heights in the Reach they scarcely bothered to guard me at all. It seemed they did not fear my escape. And why should they? Up here the land was harsh and wild, and the distant roads little more than stony tracks. If I did run, how far could I hope to go, alone and without provisions or weapons? The sabre-cats would make a morsel of me, and the Reachmen that dwelt in the mountains’ bosom were brigands and cutthroats who bowed to no law but the sword.

Though I had one secret they didn’t know: werewolves don’t need to rely on crude weapons.

My captors were clustered around the Karth River a short ways down. The men had drunk their fill of the icy cold water, and were eating leftovers from their knapsacks. Apparently their only skilled hunter stayed behind when the portal closed and the goats here were skittish as they looked. Two men huddled close, sullen and miserable. Another walked behind them, leaning on his spear and wearing a rounded helm that made him look as if he had a bowl on his head. Nearby, a fresh-faced recruit sat scratching the spot between his legs, complaining of the rash this long march had given him.

“We must rest, Arnskar,” Maccius the healer was saying to the captain as I approached. He was weary and tired, and did not bear the fighting spirit and endurance the other men had.

“With all due respect, Maccius is right, sir,” said one. “We need our strength.”

“We could make a misstep and fall in a rockslide, or get ambushed,” Maccius reminded Arnskar. “We need every man strong and focused should such an occasion arise.”

“We can’t afford to stop now, boy,” said Arnskar. His face was windburnt and gaunt, but it had lost none of its determination. “We face any trouble in any condition.”

“I stand with Maccius,” I put in.

“I didn’t ask you for an opinion, prisoner,” snapped Arnskar. “You’ll hold your tongue or be gagged.”

“This is a cruel land. You’ll find no succor until you reach Markarth, and each man you lose burdens us all. Worse, you risk losing me if I am all that important. I am lithe, and not so strong, and if I die, then what’s the point? You said it yourself I can offer valuable information on that gang your pursuing.” That was no lie at all; I did not know how much longer I could endure this pace and I could give them information if I wanted to. But I'm not so fickle.

“It might be said that your death is the point, mercenary,” Arnskar replied.

“I disagree,” I said. “If you wanted me dead, you had only to say the word, and one of these staunch friends of yours would gladly have carved me up.” I looked at the meanest looking soldier, but the man was too dim to taste the mockery.

“We’re not murderers,” Arnskar grunted grimly, unaware of Maccius’ smile creeping. “Besides if we killed you now the stink of your blood would bring the sabre-cats from the heights down upon us." He sighed. "Fine, we rest here.”

Just moments after everyone settled, a shriek came from the wind-carved ridge above us. A soldier next to me coughed, and I saw an arrow sprout from his throat. When he opened his mouth to scream, only blood came out. By the time he fell, I saw movement above us. Men and women.

The Reachmen had found us.

“Give me a weapon!” I sprang to my feet and seized Arnskar by the arm. “You will need every arm.”

He knew I was right, I could see it. These barbarians cared nothing for the enmities of others; they would slaughter guard and prisoner with equal fervor, as they slaughtered each other. And yet . . . they might spare me; I was young and could them bear sons. Still, I hesitated.

“I hear them!” Maccius called out. I turned my head to listen, and there it was: screams and yelling, a dozen men or more, coming nearer. Suddenly everyone was moving, reaching for weapons, rushing to prepare to fight for their lives.


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"Every human spends a night or two on the dark side and regrets it. But what if you only exist on the dark side? We just want the same things that you do: a chance at life, at love. And so we try and sometimes fail. But when you're something other, a monster, the consequences are worse. Much worse. You wake up from your nightmares. We don't."
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Acadian
post Apr 3 2018, 09:10 PM
Post #191


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Poor Vera keeps going from the frying pan it progressively bigger fires! She did enough fancy talking to 'recruit' some escorts but it's yet to be seen how big this Reachmen force is that is currently attacking. Can't wait to find out what happens next! ohmy.gif


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BretonBlood
post Apr 4 2018, 07:07 PM
Post #192


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Vera showing off her wit is always an interesting read. Her strategic mind is something to behold. It is unfortunate for her that Maccius is there, she seems to respect him ever so slightly and sees he is a good man, this definitely puts a bump in her plan if she needs to wolf out.

I can't wait to see what happens next!


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“People love that cliché ‘Time heals all wounds’ but live long enough you realize that most clichés are true. It’s amazing what even the smallest passage of time can accomplish…the cuts can close, the imperfections it can smooth over. But in the end it comes down to the size of the wound, doesn’t it....”
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Darkness Eternal
post Apr 16 2018, 03:43 AM
Post #193


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From: The Hunting Grounds



Acadian: She has such a bad habit of doing that. It'll get better from now on smile.gif

BretonBlood: Definitely does. But with dozens of Reachmen, what hope could one werewolf have?

Previously on Blood Coin: As the Legion capture Vera, they themselves as ambushed by Reachmen.

=Blood Coin: Fight or Surrender=


Our position was flanked on either side by dozens of dirty despoilers, swarming from the rocks like maggots over a decaying goat. Pebbles rained down around us as they came springing and sliding down the ridge.

One frightened soldier came breathless in front of Arnskar, an ungainly-looking man with wild tufts of red hair sticking out from under a conical steel cap. “Twenty warriors, maybe twenty-five,” he said, breathless. “We’re dead unless we surrender. We need to surrender.”

Taking no chances I held on to the bow and quiver of arrows given to me. It wasn’t my crossbow but it would do. Another of Arnskar’s man was already in position, a longsword in hand. Maccius crouched behind a boulder, both hands on an iron-tipped spear, a dagger between his teeth. He prayed to the gods between breaths. He was paralyzed by fear. I doubt he would use those weapons.

As the raiders came down, one of them sprinted in direction to Maccius, a sword of bone in hand ready to cut away the young healer’s life.

And the barbarian pounced.

So did I.

He shot upward like an arrow. I jump up and out to intercept him, with all my strength. And we collided. The opposing angles of our momentum jerk us into a crazy tumble in the air. I fall down, losing my hold on him as we twist apart, and the ground slaps all breath from my lungs. I can only lay there, limbs twitching like a dead woman's, while I tried to drag air back into my chest.

As I’m recovering the half-clothed savage gets to his feet, and he turned to me. I’m vastly stronger than he was, inhumanly fast, my technique and balance are better than his, and he barely had time to register my arrow flying through the air into his open mouth, putting an exquisite end to his shouting.

On my feet now, I whirled around to see . . . Arnskar holding his head from a wound and everyone else surrendering. Their weapons clanged to the dirt as quickly as they had brandished them. Looking up the hill I saw more of them. Reachmen. Perhaps in surrendering they hope to survive . . .

Perhaps we might.

“These are our lands,” a voice called out from the group of savages, deep and hard and unfriendly. “This is our territory.”

“Your territory,” I agreed, speaking out. “Who are you?”

“When I send you to your gods,” a different voice replied, “tell them it was Uummag that sent you on your way.” The dirt cracked underfoot as he stepped into the light; a twig of a man in a horned helmet made of stag skull, armed with a spear.

“And Raglaych.” That was the first voice, deep and deadly. A boulder shifted among them, and stood, and became a man. Massive and slow and strong he seemed, dressed all in types of animal skins, with a club in his right hand and an axe in his left. He smashed them together as he lumbered closer with a sneer on his face.

Other voices called other names, more that I forgot the instant I heard them; a dozen at least. A few had swords and knives; others brandished clubs and wooden spears. I waited until they were done shouting out their names before I gave them answer. They seemed uninterested in the soldiers. “I am Vera, of clan Castius, wolves of the Great Forest of Cyrodiil.” Hmm, this had a nice ring to it. “And I serve the same god as you.”

My words where met with laughs.

“Take them prisoner. The woman can bear strong sons. Bring her, too.” Raglaych said.

Death wasn’t part of my plan, but neither was being slave-bride to this barbarian and whelping a bunch of smaller barbarians. Living another day was always the best alternative, though.

We were thrown into a cramped wooden cage as captives and were then jostled off at a hurried pace into the peaks to the east: as slaves? Food? Trophies? I suppose we would find out soon. I sang a song to lessen my fretfulness and tried not to watch the dead soldier’s severed head staring back at my cage from its totem spike. We were bounced and battered around for hours, privy to their babbling, singing, and in fighting. They were loud, for a pack of savages that ambushed us.

We all spoke in hushed whispers.

Maccius trembled for a second or two, blinking, then looked at me and shook his head in disbelief. "I thought we were smarter than this."

"Apparently not. The oldest trap in the book, and we walked right into it." Arnskar felt as embarrassed as Maccius looked.

I scoffed at Maccius in particular. "Well, all of you walked right into it. I was just trying to keep up. It was Maccius’ idea to rest there."

"Oh, so now this is my fault?"

I gave him a slightly wicked smile. “Your idea.”

“This is no laughing matter," Arnskar muttered. "We’re going to be flayed, or beheaded—We’re going to die. I trust me instincts. Don't you feel it?"

Death was the last thing I wanted to think about right now. "Or it could be that knock on the head," I offered.

“Did your instincts tell you that when you surrendered?”

Maccius didn't even smile. "I felt something off as soon as we saw that portal open in the mountains—this is all so strange."

“If you've a taste for mysteries, Maccius,” Arnskar interrupted pointedly, "perhaps you could solve the mystery of how we're going to escape."

Maccius nodded, scowling darkly at the band of barbarians as though seeing them for the first time; tons of them. Indeed, they were armed to the teeth with weapons of bone and stone, and surely skilled with their use. The archers no doubt were great hunters. None them could run very far, though I wagered against such notion. I could make it a few miles but how would that help me get my blade back?

“Four of us. Dozens of them.” He looked at the others and sighed. “Ideas?”

"Perhaps," Arnskar said thoughtfully, as though the idea had only just occurred to him, "we should simply offer them something. I'm sure we can . . .” He cast a significant sidelong glance at me. “Negotiate our release.”

He's persistent, I'll give him that, I thought. Arnskar had been a thorn on my side since the start. I could never forget how the sick demented soldier had his disgusting, corroded hands against my skin.

"I say . . .," I put in slowly, "patience."

“Patience?” Maccius lifted an eyebrow. “That's a plan?”

“You of all people know that patience is a virtue. That’s what we’ll have until the mud settles and the water becomes clear. So let's wait."

Maccius looked skeptical. "Wait."

"Until they bring us to their camp or cavern or what have you."

"And then?"

I shrugged cheerfully. “And then we'll wipe them out.”

"Brilliant plan," Maccius said dryly. "Because we can’t wipe out a raiding party, we’ll have a better chance with the entire tribe.”

"Faith is just virtuous as patience," was all I could say.

At that moment, one of the Reachmen looked at me, and licked his lips, murmuring something to another one of his clanbrothers. They looked at the men and then looked at the severed heads on the wagons and laughed.

"Ah," Maccius said. "Then under the circumstances, I suppose we need a second plan.”

One of the guards nodded at Arnskar. “Arnskar’s idea is sounding pretty good right now. Give her to them and maybe they can release us."

I answered with a slight, unreadable smile. "The Reachmen wouldn’t trade with someone they already possess. Don’t be so desperate. Think harder.”

"Oh, don’t you have any hidden knives with you? That one dagger with the wolf pommel you had with you! It’s of Daedric origin; perhaps we could give it to them and promise that some Daedra will reward them." Maccius said, with the sort of quiet, pained resignation that would be recognized instantly by any man exhausted by troublesome circumstances. "Where is that dagger?"

I couldn't look at him. "It's not lost, if that's what you're thinking. I don’t have it." This was the truth: I knew exactly where it was.

"You don’t have it?" Maccius asked, incredulously.

"No. Why would I? You confiscated all of my weapons."

"Where is it, then?"

"Can we talk about this later?"

Maccius shuddered. "Without a dagger or some bargaining advantage, you may not have a 'later.' "

"I don't need a lecture.” I gave a sullen shrug. “A witch has it.”

"And how did this happen?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

Maccius blinked. "I don’t believe—"

“The Reachmen’s got your weapons, too!"

"That's different—" Maccius countered.

“You’re more than free to explain how ‘different’ it is. Gods preserve us.” I did a credible-enough Maccius the healer impression that one of the men had to smother a snort.

"Perhaps," Maccius said, as Reachmen led us through the crags, "we should talk about this later."

I intoned severely, "Without your weapons, you may not have a—"

"All right, all right." The young healer surrendered with a rueful smile. "You win."

As we neared our destination, I couldn't resist a grin. "I always do."


--------------------
"Every human spends a night or two on the dark side and regrets it. But what if you only exist on the dark side? We just want the same things that you do: a chance at life, at love. And so we try and sometimes fail. But when you're something other, a monster, the consequences are worse. Much worse. You wake up from your nightmares. We don't."
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BretonBlood
post Apr 16 2018, 06:51 PM
Post #194


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I must say I was not expecting Arnskar and his men to surrender so easily. these are Reachmen, they do not bargain or reason with anyone.... Hopefully Vera thinks of something soon or they will find themselves facing the gods they pray to very soon.

Also I loved the Star Wars reference in this chapter, very well done.


--------------------
“People love that cliché ‘Time heals all wounds’ but live long enough you realize that most clichés are true. It’s amazing what even the smallest passage of time can accomplish…the cuts can close, the imperfections it can smooth over. But in the end it comes down to the size of the wound, doesn’t it....”
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Acadian
post Apr 16 2018, 08:12 PM
Post #195


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It speaks well of Vera that she instinctively jumped to help the healer who had helped her - without pondering the consequences - brave and noble of her.

I'm glad Vera refuted the ridiculous notion of trying to bargain with something (Vera) that their captors already possessed. It does show the soldiers are desperately grasping for straws.


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mALX
post Apr 17 2018, 04:54 PM
Post #196


Ancient
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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN






=Blood Coin: The Climb=

You did a spectacular job in this chapter in bringing us into Vera's mind as she climbed that mountain, just an amazing job! It felt like being there on that ledge myself; and how many times was I there with Maxical up in the Jerall Mountains trying to climb up to Dive Rock when trying to shake the Bleam Mine Guards from stalking her! Wonderful job you did with this chapter!







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mALX
post Apr 17 2018, 05:14 PM
Post #197


Ancient
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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN







=Blood Coin: The Reach=


This is one of my favorite chapters to date = one of them. Really awesome job you did here of showing everyone's emotions, and once again I am intrigued by Maccius, what an interesting character you've made in him! Awesome Write!!!!









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mALX
post Apr 17 2018, 05:50 PM
Post #198


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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN





=Blood Coin: Fight or Surrender=

I can't help but love the interchange between Vera and Maccius, they just have an awesome chemistry the way you have written them!


This line in particular needs to be quoted for being absolutely AWESOME!

QUOTE

"The Reachmen wouldn’t trade with someone they already possess. Don’t be so desperate. Think harder.”


I don't know what Vera has up her sleeve, but I hope she saves Maccius if no one else, lol. Awesome Write!







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