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> A Champion's Journey, The Imperial Simulacrum
Verlox
post Mar 17 2010, 07:34 PM
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Joined: 16-March 10
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Ernand Leoriane was greeted to his first sight of the Imperial City as he, along with his escort, crested over Brena's Hill, giving them an unparalleled view of the expansive rain-forest of the Nibenay Valley. The colossal Whitegold Tower, its silvered spire shimmering in the sun, gave promise to splendor. As a Junior Councilman of the Elder Council, Ernand would soon be enjoying that most marvelous of settlements. But the Imperial City wasn't the only site to behold in the great valley of Nibenay. From his perch atop Brena's Hill, the young Councilman could make out splendid villas of alabaster and limestone that belonged to wealthy nobles and Senior Councilors. The great Lake Rumare and its artery, the River Niben, could also be gazed at.

Sir Renard Liseux, the captain of Ernand's guards, moved his horse alongside his master's. "Your Grace, Chorrol is only another hour's ride from here. Would it please you if we bedded down there for the night?" Looking up, Ernand could clearly discern Masser and Secunda, and a few of the brighter stars. The Sun was only visible as a sliver of light on the western horizon. Although he would have preferred if they continued on their journey, traveling by torch-light if need be, Ernand knew that while his men would follow him, they wouldn't like him very much afterwards.

"Chorrol should be fine, Renard." Ernand could tell Renard was pleased by the grin that spread across his face. Signaling to the men, Renard spurred his horse back into formation around Ernand, and they proceeded to Chorrol. A Colovian town, Chorrol was situated in the Highlands on the border with Hammerfell. Founded in the 2703 year of the First Era by Kantus Jerril, the town's first Count. The city itself was rustic, to Ernand resembling the town in High Rock he was born in. Its timber structures were simple, square buildings with one or two floors. Silver Mining was Chorrol's primary trade, but the sheep and goat trade was always booming.

Twilight came and went by the time Ernand and his guards passed through the gates of Chorrol. A sleepy guard pointed them in the direction of the town's inn. It was fortunate that Chorrol was a very simple town, and that the inn received such a prominent position; right off the square. Passing up through the lane, Ernand couldn't help but admire the massive oak-tree that overshadowed the largest of Chorrol's buildings. Dismounting and hitching his horse, Ernand watched his guards tramp into the taproom. He followed more slowly, taking a seat in a corner. After the bar-wench had brought him his beverage, he was joined by Renard. "This isn't exactly the finest of places, eh, Renard?"

"No, sir, it is not," Renard indulged his master, feeling that a Councilman would think any place is trash, "Reminds me of home though, does it not?"

"Aye, that's true. Kambria bears a strong resemblance to this place. Chorrol is certainly warmer, though!" Both men laughed. "Do you think it will rain tonight," Ernand asked as he took a sip of his craythur, "Those clouds looked rather mean."

Renard tapped his chin with his forefinger in thought. "It could. We did have a light sprinkle last night, so it wouldn't be strange if we got some of the water up here in the Highlands."

"Should I expect a delay in travel?"

Renard grimaced. He knew Ernand wanted to get to the Imperial City so he could begin his career, and live the life of Nibenean luxury. Damn...I would be impatient, too, Renard thought to himself. As an older man, however, Renard could look on luxury as a reward, where as he saw Ernand as wanting the luxury as an entitlement, he was a member of the Elder Council after all. "Ernand," Renard rarely used his master's Imperialized name, preferring the formal 'sir' or, in private, his given name of Lochlainn, "How old are you?"

Ernand raised an eyebrow, but answered. "Seven-and-Twenty. Why?"

"You got your whole life ahead of you. Don't let a little luxury spoil you to the rest of the world."

"What makes you think it will?" Indignant, a hard edge crept into Ernand's voice, "I can assure you, Renard, that a Nibenean lifestyle will not 'spoil' me, as you put it." He stood from his seat abruptly, "I must bid you goodnight, Renard. I expect to leave early tomorrow, so be ready to leave by sunrise." With that, Ernand turned on his toe and left the taproom, leaving Renard sitting alone.

"Of course, Councilor. Your will is my command."

*

His entrance into the Imperial City was even greater that he imagined it would be. At the bridge, Ernand and his escort were met by the other two members of High Rock's councilors. They greeted their new compatriot with much warmth, proclaiming that High Rock was well served by having the scion of the Leoriane as a member of the Elder Council. Ernand in turn acknowledged their greetings with a smile, but had to ask where his benefactor, Ria Silmane, was.

"She had business to do for the Emperor, Ernand. As you know, that traitor, Tharn, was executed some months ago. For a time, the position of Imperial Battle Mage was empty, left vacant by Tharn's death. Emperor Uriel, in his wisdom, had Madame Silmane appointed in his place. We hardly see her anymore; always off doing one thing or another for His Majesty." Ernand nodded that he understood, but inwardly he wished that Ria had been their to see his entrance into the Imperial City.

The councilors escorted Ernand and his guard through the streets, giving them a condensed tour of the Imperial City. With the air crisp and cold, the councilors cut the tour short when they arrived in the Elven Gardens District. They pointed out to him the location of the High Rock Councilor's Manor, and then left the younger man for their own villas in the country-side.

"Unpack our belongings," Ernand told his guards, "I'm going to have a rest." The manor was a small, but comfortable, building of three stories. The lowest floor was a large hall made from receiving guests and dining. The second floor was dedicated to housing the occupant’s personal guard. And the third floor was the Councilor's Chamber. It was here that Ernand found himself after he mounted the stairs.

The chamber was very spacious. A large, four-poster bed was against the wall for sleeping. There were numerous coffers and chests, and their was even a writing desk. It was a object on the desk that first drew Ernand's attention, and he moved to investigate. The object was a small letter written on tan paper. Picking it up, Ernand read--

To his most Esteemed Lordship, Councilor Ernand Leoriane
Greetings,


I apologize in advance for not being able to greet you on your entrance into the city. The Emperor had a very important matter for me to look into, and I was unable to get out of it. I promise that we will soon see each other. If not in private than in the Palace.

Your Friend,
Ria Silmane, Imperial Battle Mage


Dated Seventh of Sun's Dawn, 3E 395


Ernand smiled at Ria's letter and put it back onto the desk. Moving over to a nearby shutter, he flung it open to gaze out over the Imperial City. Things were good.

**


This post has been edited by Verlox: Mar 19 2010, 02:40 AM


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My loaf of bread brings all the ladies to the yard

"A brutish man cannot know, a fool cannot understand this: Though the wicked sprout like grass, though all evildoers blossom, it is only that they may be destroyed forever. But you are exalted, O Lord, for all time" -Psalms 92:7-9
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mALX
post Mar 17 2010, 07:48 PM
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I am so glad you are bringing this here! Your ability to draw intrigue with a few words placed just right and your attention to detail are Awesome !!


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Fiach
post Mar 17 2010, 07:48 PM
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From: Eire



A pretty good opening, I'll be intrested to see what happens,

best of luck biggrin.gif
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haute ecole rider
post Mar 17 2010, 08:24 PM
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Good to see this here. I remember it somewhat when you first posted it. It was worth keeping an eye on.

I liked the opening here, and the idea of a young man coming to the Imperial City to serve on the Elder Council is new to me.

I'm looking forward to more!


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Verlox
post Mar 17 2010, 09:45 PM
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Joined: 16-March 10
From: Austin, Texas



Chapter One: Unveiling


The Grand Solar, where the Elder Council met, was charged with tension. Papers lay strewn across the great, round, table or had been flung to the ground during the heat of a the argument that had only just ended. Chancellor Ocato was over by Skyrim's delegates who sat fuming; glaring at High Rock and Hammerfell's councilors.

Ernand could feel their antagonism just through their gaze, and it did not make him comfortable. He sat in his seat, fiddling with papers as he thought back on the events of the session. It had started off fine. The gathered councilors had all met in the Grand Solar to discuss the War of Bendr-Mahk, as it was coming to be called. Skyrim had hinted that they wanted to resolve the dispute in council if they could, and High Rock's delegates had only been too happy to oblige. The two parties had been affable towards each other; promises and offers thrown back and forth politely as they sought to end the bloodshed that had erupted along Hammerfell and Skyrim's border. The affability had ended, however, with the arrival of the Ra'Gada councilors.

Unlike the Bretons, who were inclined towards peace, the delegates from Hammerfell had blown into session with threats and harsh words. This lack of tact sparked the temper of the Nords, and soon the entire session was in disarray. The rapport that the Bretons had built up with their cousins was burning down around them.

*


Chancellor Ocato had called a recess and Ernand took the chance to escape the confines of the Grand Solar. Wandering through the halls of the Imperial Palace, Ernand poked his nose into the kitchens. The cooks were only too happy to serve a member of the Elder Council. Provided with cider and a meat-marrow pasty, the young man spent a few minutes filling his stomach before he set back to his wanderings. The Imperial Guards, with their daikatanas and flashy armor, gave him hard looks as he walked by, even crossing their weapons at certain corridors or passage ways. This amused the young councilor, for what could a lone Breton do? He then remembered Jagar Tharn, and understood why these guardsmen were so vigilant.

Bringing the long folds of his robe into the crook of his arm, Ernand stopped one of the patrolling guards. "Excuse me, sir. But I was wondering if, perchance, you could point me in the direction of the office of the Imperial Battle Mage?"

The guard gave Ernand a hard stare before answering, convincing himself that this fair man didn't pose a threat. "Lady Silmane's offices are on the second floor...my lord." The guard had added the title in recognition of Ernand's clothing. "Just follow this passageway," he indicated to his left, "And then up the stairs. Take a left at the top and they will lead directly to the Mistress' office." As Ernand was turning away, the guard clasped onto his shoulder, "Might I ask what business you have with Lady Silmane?"

Ernand could read the suspicion in the guard's eyes. Looking at it through the lawman's view, the councilor could see why the guard would be so suspicious. A lone man wandering through the halls of the Imperial Palace, then asking where the Imperial Battle Mage was, yes, it was not something that average people did. But Ernand was not an average person. "I am an old friend of hers. You see," he removed the mailed hand from his shoulder, "It was Ria's patronage that had the Emperor appoint me to the Elder Council." The shocked look on the guard's face was enough to make Ernand laugh, and his laughter lingered even after had walked away.

Mounting the steps and coming to the top, Ernand took the left path and eventually came to a door marked by the daedric symbol for "magick". Knocking, Ernand waited until a pretty young girl opened the door. With round eyes, she looked up at Ernand and shyly spoke, "Yes? How can I help you?"

Ernand flashed the girl a white smile. "Is Lady Silmane in residence?" The girl nodded and let him into the foyer. The room was spacious. A desk was in the corner where another woman, this one much older, was busy copying papers into books. Benches lined the walls, and Ernand took a seat when the younger girl motioned for him to sit.

"Who should I tell Lady Silmane is asking to see her?"

"Tell her it is Ernand Leoriane, she'll know who I am." The girl nodded and disappeared through a door, leaving Ernand alone in the foyer except for the old woman. She looked up but once to give the intruder a look, a look which Ernand responded to with a too-polite smile and a nod of his head. The girl soon reappeared. She seemed flustered and refused to meet Ernand's eyes as she told him that Lady Silmane would meet with "His Lordship, Councilor Ernand". Ernand groaned at the way Ria mocked him with his own title; Getting up from the bench, and after rearranging the folds of his robe, Ernand followed the girl into Ria Silmane's office.

Ria Silmane looked up when they entered. "Hello, Lochlainn. It seems you are well."

Ernand took a seat across from her. "Why is it that every time we meet, you insist on calling me that archaic name?"

"Because, that is what your mother, may Mara assoil her, named you. It is your name."

"I stopped using it since my childhood. It doesn't fit in today’s society."

"A pity it doesn't." Ria motioned for the girl who led Ernand into the office. She whispered into the girl's ear then turned to her guest, "I'm sending Marina down to the buttery. Are you thirsty? Would you like wine?"

"No wine," Ernand said with a shake of his head, "Too early for that. Though if I could get a cider, that would be well appreciated." Ria nodded and sent Marina on her way, prompting Ernand to speak again. "I have noticed you have no men in your household. Are you holding a women's empowerment program here? Have I entered into the secret world of Woman?"

Ria gave a silvery laugh, "It's true, Lochlainn, that I staff my household with women. I only do so because they're smarter." The two friends shared a laugh before Ria asked, "Have you been practicing your spell-casting since we last parted?"

"Alas, I have not. I am no slouch, mind you, but I am no Syrabane."

"None of us are an equal to Syrabane, Lochlainn, except perhaps Tharn," she spat the apostate name out like a curse, "But even Tharn couldn't stand up to an executioner's axe. I remember at his trial and execution he kept proclaiming his innocence, claiming that he was not Jagar Tharn. What a sight!"

"How has his Majesty been since the attempt on his life?"

"He has been acting very strangely. The Uriel before was a kind man who bore great love for his people. But now...Did you know he ordered another tax hike across the continent?" Ernand shook his head, "Well, he did. I argued against it, but he didn't listen. He's been using the money gained from taxes to finance expeditions to discover old artifacts, instead of using the money to finance the Legions. Stendarr, half of our soldiers don't even wear full armor anymore. It's disgraceful!"

Marina came back in balancing a platter piled high with wafers and two mugs. Setting them down in the middle of Ria's desk, she served Ria first, then set Ernand's cider in front of him. Catching her hand in his, the councilor brought it to his lips in a very formal thank you. Red as a radish, the young maid fled the office, casting once last shy look over he shoulder before she closed the door. "Lochlainn, I would prefer if you didn't seduce members of my household."

Ernand gave Ria an impertinent grin, "She is very young. Seventeen maybe? I can only wonder."

"She is the daughter of an acquaintance of mine. Marina has been showing promise as a sorceress, so I took her into my household to give her some experience before I begin her apprenticeship. This is why I must ask that you refrain from a dalliance with her. She has had enough problems with men in her life; doesn't need you to spoil men forever to her."

"Ria, you wound me."

"So," Ria took a sip of her wine, "How are you enjoying the city?"

"The city is marvelous. The council less so."

"Yes, I could hear your peers bellowing at each other even from here. So I'm guessing no accord was reached?"

"Well, Ocato called a recess, but I do not honestly believe peace will be made today. If it was just High Rock and Skyrim, the war wouldn't have drug on so long," Ernand gave a regretful sigh, "But those damn Ra'Gada have to insult the Nords at every turn. Say what you will of Nords, but at least they are honest in their dealings."

"So are Redguards, Lochlainn. It's you Bretons that are the liars." Both laughed. The two friends passed another hour together before Ernand took his leave, Ria promising to meet him sometime at his manor within a few days. As he was leaving, Ernand caught Ria's maid, Marina, staring at him. He locked his blue eyes with her brown then gave a courtly bow in her direction, prompting another flush into her cheeks.

When Ernand left, the old woman that had been copying script looked at Marina with great severity. "Don't even think about it."

*


The council that was convened to discuss a resolution to the War of Bendr-Mahk was dissolved due to the refusal of the Nords to go any further until the Ra'Gada apologized for their rudeness. The Ra'Gada, in turn, refused to apologize until the Nords yielded back to Hammerfell the eastern portion of Dragonstar, something the Nords refused to do. The Bretons, finally fed up with the squabbling, voted for Ocata to dissolve the council to meet at a later time. Ocato was only to happy to agree, setting the date for the next meeting a week later.

Three days after the break up of the council, Ernand was sleeping in his chambers. The cold, night air was refused entry in his chambers by a smoking hearth. Unfortunately, servants were not barred from his bedroom, and he was rudely awakened when an attendant woke him, saying that the Lady Silmane was waiting at the bottom of the stair-well. Swearing, Ernand rubbed his eyes and ordered the attendant to light some candles and bring Ria up to meet with him.

What in the name of Akatosh does she want?

When Ria was ushered into the chamber, Ernand had to do a double-take. The Ria before him looked haggard, and very afraid, so unlike the urbane sorceress he knew very well. When Ernand poured a goblet of mulled wine and thrust it into her hand, the amount of shaking it received testified to her nervousness. "Heaven's sake, Ria, sit down. What is wrong?"

"He's alive, Lochlainn, he's alive!"

"Quiet down." Ernand crept over to the door and looked out to make sure no servant was listening in. Assuring himself they were secure, he shut and bolted the door and turned back to Ria, "Who is alive?"

"Tharn!"

"That's impossible. You were at his execution. You saw Tharn's head come off his body."

"I don't know how he did it, but he did. That snake!"

"How did you discover this?"

Ria gulped down her wine; it did little to settle her nerves. "I was delivering some reports yesterday to the Emperor when I felt a very powerful presence coming from the Royal Chamber. I snuck a look and saw Tharn conversing with a shadowy figure. They were talking about bringing down the Battlespire, Ernand. Any doubts I may have had were dispelled when Tharn addressed the figure as "Lord Dagon". Uriel would never give credence to that foul daedroth, never!"

"I don't doubt you, Ria." Ernand was now just as shaken as Ria was. If Tharn had had her followed, then he would know that Ria had come to him with this information. The young councilor could already see his life bleeding away before him. "What did you do?"

"I shut the door, waited a few minutes, knocked, and heard Uriel's voice call me in. We discussed a new plan for funding the Legions, but I wasn't able to focus. I think Tharn knew I knew his secret, he kept looking at me." She finally broke then and proceeded to cry. Ernand moved over to her and wrapped his arms around her. "Oh, Lochlainn, what am I going to do?"

"Well, first you're going to stay her tonight. If what you say is true, then Tharn is probably just waiting to get you alone. You can use my bed, I'm awake anyway. I watch over you tonight." Moving away from Ria, he went over and opened a coffer and removed an object wrapped up in cloth. Removing the cloth, he drew a beautiful silver sword than shone with an enchantment. "While you sleep, I'll make sure than any unwelcome guest that enters here receives so brutal a death that Tharn will think twice about sending anyone again."

Nodding, Ria disrobed and slipped under the sheets. Ernand quenched all the candles but one, and took a position with his back again a wall that gave him a view of the entire room. If an assassin thought it could enter this chamber and live, it would do well to think differently.

**



This post has been edited by Verlox: Jun 2 2010, 03:52 AM


--------------------
My loaf of bread brings all the ladies to the yard

"A brutish man cannot know, a fool cannot understand this: Though the wicked sprout like grass, though all evildoers blossom, it is only that they may be destroyed forever. But you are exalted, O Lord, for all time" -Psalms 92:7-9
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haute ecole rider
post Mar 18 2010, 12:05 AM
Post #6


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Ah, the plot thickens!

Though I've read different versions of the simulacrum (including those in the TES Lore), I still find it a fascinating part of TES history and love reading any new version of it any day!

I will keep watching this thread!

More please.


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mALX
post Mar 18 2010, 02:22 AM
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Now this is the chapter that dug its hooks in me on the BGSF - and then I couldn't tear myself from the rest - SO glad you brought this here !!!!!!!


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Verlox
post Mar 18 2010, 02:30 AM
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Joined: 16-March 10
From: Austin, Texas



Chapter Two: Crime and Punishment[


Ria lay still in the bed, seeking to find a refuge in sleep. In the darkness, she could hear Ernand's breathing, and the occasional clang of his sword as he moved it about. The single candle that was set above the bed's headboard, gave off just enough light to make out the silhouette of her guardian. But that was all the candle could do. Ria had never been afraid of the dark before, not even in her childhood. As a child-prodigy to a powerful magician, she had studied the things that went bump in the night, and had learned not to fear them. But the feeling she had now was different. Tharn was no ghoul or goblin that mothers use to frighten their children, no, he was all too real.

Turning over to face the ceiling, she pulled the coverlets up over her chin. Feeling drowsy, she finally found sleep, and a mottled dream of dark colors and foreboding.

*

"Ria, wake up." Ernand shook Ria Silmane's shoulder, "The sun is high." Ria groaned as she turned to face away from him, muttering foul words under her breath. Laughing in spite of himself, he shook her again, "While I'm ecstatic to finally get you in my bed, there are more important things to take care today than sleeping." The combination of humor, and the reminder of the dangers that she faced, forced Ria's eyes open.

"What time is it," she asked in a groggy voice, "Is it past noon?"

Ernand sat down on the bed next to her, "No, the dial says it's just past nine. I sent a servant down for some food, and he should be back soon, so I suggest you get dressed. There is a long day ahead of you."

Casting Ernand a look to turn around, Ria flung the sheets off of her and rolled out of the bed. Walking on the tip of her toes on the cold, stone floor, she rummaged around until she found the clothes she had been wearing last night. In the chaos that had been last night, she had chosen to wear garments more suitable for a farmer than the imperious Imperial Battle Mage. Pulling the shirt down over her chest, she began to fumble with the chausses. The buckled was stuck, and she was so absorbed in releasing it that she failed to notice one of Ernand's servants enter into the chamber with a cart of food.

"Ria," Ernand put his hand over hers, "A shirt will satisfy the demands of decency for now." Dropping the chausses, Ria consented to having Ernand lead her over to the table where the servant was busy laying out utensils, plates, and napkins. Pulling out a chair, the councilor seated the half-clothed sorceress before stepping back to confer with his servant. "Thank you, Gaston. That will be all; I will serve Lady Silmane myself."

"Of course, your Grace." The servant stepped back, bowed, and then left the chamber, leaving Ernand and Ria alone again. An awkward silence developed when Ernand sat in the chair across from Ria. They avoided each others eyes, seeking to busy themselves with heaping food onto their plates. Using his knife, the councilor deftly sliced a sugar-glazed pasty into nine pieces, finding a sort of perverse amusement in cutting the delicacy into the number of the Divines.

"You know, Ria, I always knew that one way or another, you'd wind up in my bed," a humorless grin passed his lips, "Though it would have fulfilled all my dreams if I had been in it!"

Ria slammed her knife and fork onto the table, and glared at Ernand. "Now is not the time for lewd jokes, Lochlainn!"

"There you go with that name business again."

The Imperial Battle Mage began to shake, and her face turned a deep red. It was painfully apparent to Ernand that he had taken the joking to far. He had learned from his old tutors that it was not proper to make fun of anything when a person was loaded with stress, for even the slightest thing could provide the last thing needed to finally break the person's will. "Ria...."

"Lochlainn....You..." Ria got no further. Her face blanched, and tears began to form in the corners of her eyes. Finally overcome, the sorceress collapsed her face into her hands and began to weep. For herself, for the Empire, and especially for his Majesty, Emperor Uriel Septim VII. She blamed herself for not spotting Tharn's trickery before now, and lamented the fact that he had had almost nine years to secure his grip on the Imperial Throne. "Lochlainn," she sobbed, "Lochlainn, what am I going to do?"

Ernand leapt out of his chair and kneeled next to his friend. Of course, he had no idea for a course of action anymore than Ria did. It wasn't uncommon for members of the Elder Council to denounce an Emperor, in fact, that had happened numerous times in the past. But Ernand couldn't figure out how he could warn the council of the imposter. He couldn't very well walk in and proclaim, "The Emperor is a bad man! He has been using funds for stupid reasons! Oh, and by the way, he's actually Jagar Tharn in disguise!" No, the young man knew for certain that that course of action would never work. He would be laughed out of the council, his career in shambles, then likely meet a bloody end from one of the assassins that Tharn no doubt had at his beck and call.

"Lochlainn," Ria looked up, tears streaking her face, "I'm so...so sorry that I got you involved in this. You came here to further your career, and all I have done to help you is get you entangled in the Gods only know what."

"Eh," Ernand shrugged, "Council is boring anyway. This is much more fun." Ria laughed, or sobbed, he wasn't really sure, at his comment. "I think you should finish your breakfast and then I'll escort you back to the Palace. I think, for a little while, you should act like nothing has happened. Continue to serve that apostate as if he were your Emperor, and we'll come up with a plan later."

"Alright, if you think that is best." Ria wiped her eyes with a napkin and, under Ernand's watchful gaze, finished her meal. After refreshing herself and getting dressed, she followed the councilor out of the room and down to the first floor. Rounding up his guard and having horses saddled, he helped Ria to mount a horse. Swinging up into his own, he signaled for his men to move. They winded through the streets of the Elven Gardens, and then on into the Palace Garth, where Ernand and his men left Ria Silmane.

*


Ernand yawned loudly, earning him a prod in the ribs from his fellow councilor. “Pay attention, Leoriane,” he whispered fiercely, “You’re an Elder Councilor now, not a school-boy wanting to escape his lessons.”

“I think school would be more interesting than this,” Ernand joked, “I thought the council had been convened to discuss a resolution to the war? I didn’t know we would be discussing funding for a backwater legion in Morrowind.”

“It’s important. What if the Akaviri want revenge for our invasion years ago? They would come from the east, and Morrowind would be their first target. They already invaded it once! I know not much about that land, but if they could defeat Emperor Uriel V, may the gods assoil him, then we need all the defenses we can muster.”

“And this has nothing to do with the anti-Imperial sentiment that seems so prevalent in the land of the Dunmer?” Along with his question, Ernand motioned towards the delegates and councilors from that frontier province. On their faces they were deep scowls, and their eyes burned with hatred. “Seems to me,” Ernand said and shrugged, leaning back in his seat, “That we’re just exasperating things by sending more troops in.”

“But how can we enforce Imperial Law without the might of the Legion behind it?”

“I don’t know.” Ernand shrugged again, “But it seems to me that if we keep ramming Imperial culture down their throats, the Dunmer might decide to do something drastic.”

Unable to reach a consensus on the matter, Ernand and his fellow councilor watched as Chancellor Ocato ruled in favor of a surge of more soldiers into Morrowind. The Dunmer delegates ranted, cursed, and spat upon the ground. Their outrage was so great, that they even slipped into their own tongue.

Leaning over to the councilor he had been speaking to before, Ernand asked, “What does N’wah mean?”

This time it was his turn to shrug. “I’m not sure. I know it’s not something good though.”

“Ah, so normal council language then?”

The councilor glowered at Ernand, who grinned back unrepentantly.

“You had best learn to check your tongue in the future, Leoriane, it could get you into trouble.”

*


Ria had freshened herself up and dressed into more suitable clothing. She had been forced to fend off questions of her whereabouts the night before from her attendants, especially from Marina. Until that day, the Imperial Battle Mage hadn't known that her shy attendant also had spirit. When she finally broke and told them she had been visiting Councilor Ernand Leoriane, the girl's face had blanched, then turned beet-red. Turning on her heel, she had watched the young girl storm out of the chamber. This surprised all the women, for they hadn't known that Marina could get angry.

The afternoon passed without event.

Twilight had settled over the Imperial City just as Ria finished copying a report from a Legion general regarding the most recent outbreak of battles along the Hammerfell-Skyrim border. Knowing that the Emperor would be expecting these reports, she took them and stuck them into a folder. Getting up, she left her office and entered into the foyer. "Agnes," she addressed the old woman who was her secretary, "I'm going to go deliver these reports to his Majesty. Then I'll return home. You can leave now if you wish to."

"Of course, Lady Silmane."

The halls of the palace were empty except for a few patrolling guards. The echoes of her footsteps reverberated through the corridors, making it seem like she was being followed. Casting a look over her shoulder, she saw nothing. Speeding up despite this, she eventually reached the steps that led to the Emperor's quarters. As she was mounting them, she felt someone grasp her shoulder. Acting quickly, she flung the folder down and brought her hands up to cast a spell. But when the light from the torches lining the stairwell shone upon her assailants face, she brought them down. Before her, stood the short form of the Imperial Palace's resident Dunmer prince, Helseth.

"Gods, you scarred me half to death, Helseth." When the young Dunmer made no move to speak, Ria smiled and asked, "What are you doing about the halls at this hour? Where is your mother?"

"She is upstairs," he responded in the gruff voice of the Dunmer, "I'm waiting for her here. I'm sorry I frightened you."

Ria laughed, "Don't worry about that, Helseth. May I ask why Barenziah is above?"

"We're leaving tonight. My lady mother says we're going to go spend some time in the country side."

"You are very lucky. If you will excuse me, Helseth, I have to go see his Majesty." Bidding the Dunmer prince farewell, Ria mounted the steps. When she was halfway up, she almost collided with the Lady Barenziah. She looked flustered, her grey skin slightly dark than normal. She didn't stop to talk, but when Ria attempted to move by her, she whispered He used the Staff of Chaos. A chill went down the spine of the sorceress as she watched the Dunmer queen hurry down the stairs. Swallowing, Ria turned back and climbed the stairs to the top. When she entered into the Emperor's Chamber, her eyes had to adjust to the darkness. "Your Majesty? Are you here?"

"Yes, come in, Ria," came Uriel's voice from out of the darkness, "We have some things to discuss I take it?"

"Yes, your Majesty. I have some reports here from the border-"

"Now, now," Uriel interrupted her, "I know that's not why you're here!" She heard the Emperor snap his fingers and then all the candles and torches sparked and lit the room. There, sitting in a plush chair was a man that Ria once thought dead, the former Imperial Battle Mage, Jagar Tharn. "You look surprised, Ria," he still insisted on speaking with Uriel's voice, "But I don't think it's because you just found this out. No....You weren't expecting this reckoning so soon, were you?"

Ria shook her head. Swallowing with difficulty, she asked, "What have you done with the Emperor, Tharn? Did you kill him?"

"Think you that I am a fool? No, he and that bumbling Warhaft are somewhere safe and alive. I very well couldn't risk the Elder Council being warned by the Amulet of Kings, now could I?" Tharn stood from the chair and crossed to a table. There, he picked up a flagon of wine and poured two glasses. Taking these, he moved over to Ria, who stood frozen with her back to the door. Thrusting one of the glasses into her hand, he drained his own. "Now, what was it you wanted to tell me about the border?"

"Um...The truce has been broken." Ria didn't know what game her adversary was playing, but she felt the distinct feeling that whatever it was, he held all the cards. "Skyrim has led another foray into Hammerfell, and General Romulus says then even some of our soldiers have been involved in the-" Her voice was cut off when Tharn, moving unnaturally fast, grabbed her by the throat. She tried to escape, but any protests she could have made were being drained away, as was her very life.

"Yes, the legions are involved in the fighting, and soon all of Tamriel will erupt in war, no doubt. This empire will crumble, but I will still hold all the power." Tharn laughed when Ria tried to speak, gagging instead. "You've been wondering why I have been sending out parties to find artifacts, yes? The person who holds the means of power, has the power." Tharn's hand began to glow an ugly purple, and Ria's skin began to grey. "You've were a fine apprentice, Ria, and an excellent adjunct to me. But now it must come to an end. As for that friend of yours, that councilor from High Rock, he will be blamed for your death, and I'll have no choice but to bring him to trial. My agents are already hunting him down. Well," Tharn gave her one last grin, "I guess this is goodbye." His eyes hardened and the light around his hand grew brighter.

Her last thought before death was At least the villainous monologue is over. Ria Silmane was no more.

*


While discussion regarding the War of Bend’r-Mahk had been on the agenda for the day, the arguments about the Legion in Morrowind had dragged on far longer than it should have. The councilors of Morrowind had refused to back down on the issue, and that only served to make the problem worse. A stray Nord comment regarding an ancient rivalry had been taken as a mortal insult, and a majority of Morrowind’s delegates had to be removed from the Grand Solar.

Since the topic of the war was unable to be got to, the council had convened, Ocato making sure that all the councilors would be their tomorrow to discuss the troubling news from Hammerfell.

Ernand had taken the chance to call on Ria. When he entered the office, he kept getting looks from his friend’s attendants. When he caught Marina, the girl that had served him the day before, looking at him, Ernand had tried to ask where Ria was. However, the Breton girl just burst into tears and ran from him.

Ernand stood rooted in the middle of the antechamber for a few moments, thinking out loud, “Well that was odd. What did I do?”

“Oh, she’s just besotted with you,” Ernand turned his head to look at Ria’s aged secretary, “But since you’re seeing Lady Silmane, Marina knows she has no chance.”

Ernand quirked an eyebrow. “Huh? Seeing? I don’t what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, don’t be coy, young man.” The old woman grinned and winked at him, “I may be old, but I know a tryst in the middle of the night when I see one.”

The cogs in Ernand brain finally started turning, and when they did his eyes widened in shock. “Oh. Oh! Ok, I get you. Um—So,” Ernand pulled on the collar of his robe, “Is it hot in here to you? Anyway, um….Do you know where she is?”

“She’s meeting with the Emperor right now. She may be awhile. I’ll tell her you stopped by.” To Ernand, it felt like his knees had turned to butter as he stepped out of the Imperial Battle Mage office, with the elderly secretary’s eyes twinkling behind him.

*


Night had fallen on the Imperial City.

The outhouse smelled rancid, but Ernand had little choice but to use it. The manor he was living in lacked a privy chamber, something he would have to remedy soon. After wiping and rearranging his clothes, he flung open the outhouse door and stepped out into the cold night. There, standing not five feet from the little structure stood two men. One held a club, and the other a rope. Lacking any weapon himself, Ernand could only use his voice to alert his guards, but he never got the chance.

His assailants moved quickly, clubbing him over the head and knocking him out. Quietly, they tied him up and carried him off.

**



This post has been edited by Verlox: Jun 2 2010, 03:53 AM


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My loaf of bread brings all the ladies to the yard

"A brutish man cannot know, a fool cannot understand this: Though the wicked sprout like grass, though all evildoers blossom, it is only that they may be destroyed forever. But you are exalted, O Lord, for all time" -Psalms 92:7-9
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Acadian
post Mar 18 2010, 03:24 AM
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Some fine writing indeed! Wonderfully rich descriptions and subtly imparted impressions.


I noted three tiny nits:
Prologue:
If not in private than {then?} in the Palace.

Ch 1:
Red as a radish, the young maid fled the office, casting once {one?} last shy look over he shoulder before she closed the door.

"Well, first you're going to stay her {here?} tonight.


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Destri Melarg
post Mar 18 2010, 04:11 AM
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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



Yes, apparently women are smarter but they still need a man to do the heavy lifting and to poke things with swords (O.K. that pun was definitely not intended). tongue.gif

I have never had the pleasure of playing Daggerfall but thanks to the Imperial Library I know who Ria Silmane and Jagar Tharn are. I skimmed over this once when I was lurking on the other board. Tonight I got a chance to sit down and really read it.

I like Ernand (or is it Lochlainn?) as a character, and Ria comes across as just contradictory enough to be a believable female character. You have set up your story well and left those of us with no practical experience of Daggerfall eager to know what happens next.

Quick question: Was Jagar Tharn really executed in the game?


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Verlox
post Mar 18 2010, 04:38 AM
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.

This post has been edited by Verlox: Jun 2 2010, 03:06 AM


--------------------
My loaf of bread brings all the ladies to the yard

"A brutish man cannot know, a fool cannot understand this: Though the wicked sprout like grass, though all evildoers blossom, it is only that they may be destroyed forever. But you are exalted, O Lord, for all time" -Psalms 92:7-9
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mALX
post Mar 18 2010, 08:46 AM
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QUOTE(Destri Melarg @ Mar 17 2010, 11:11 PM) *

Yes, apparently women are smarter but they still need a man to do the heavy lifting and to poke things with swords (O.K. that pun was definitely not intended). tongue.gif

I have never had the pleasure of playing Daggerfall but thanks to the Imperial Library I know who Ria Silmane and Jagar Tharn are. I skimmed over this once when I was lurking on the other board. Tonight I got a chance to sit down and really read it.

I like Ernand (or is it Lochlainn?) as a character, and Ria comes across as just contradictory enough to be a believable female character. You have set up your story well and left those of us with no practical experience of Daggerfall eager to know what happens next.

Quick question: Was Jagar Tharn really executed in the game?



Woo Hoo Destri !!!!! ROFL


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haute ecole rider
post Mar 18 2010, 03:36 PM
Post #13


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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



QUOTE
I do so adore time lines.


Me too! Makes more sense to me than outlines.

Good job explaining the relationship between the game Arena and your storyline. I'm somewhat familiar with the simulacrum from reading the Real Barenziah (fascinating pices of Lore, by the way), so I had pretty much figured things out. Your explanation confirms my thinking, so it's good to know!

Now, enough explaining and more telling. Rather, showing! More, please.


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Remko
post Mar 18 2010, 04:37 PM
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Loved it, when are you updating? cool.gif Because I remember this part from the other forum


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Verlox
post Mar 18 2010, 05:07 PM
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Joined: 16-March 10
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.

This post has been edited by Verlox: Jun 2 2010, 03:55 AM


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My loaf of bread brings all the ladies to the yard

"A brutish man cannot know, a fool cannot understand this: Though the wicked sprout like grass, though all evildoers blossom, it is only that they may be destroyed forever. But you are exalted, O Lord, for all time" -Psalms 92:7-9
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haute ecole rider
post Mar 18 2010, 05:26 PM
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I vaguely remember reading the Arena storyline some time ago. Meh.

This is sooooo much better! I am enjoying the web that is now becoming apparent!

More!


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mALX
post Mar 18 2010, 08:47 PM
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This is my fave chapter so far - SO in depth into Ria's state before she is killed - HUGE that you are doing this part of her life instead of just the ghost - AWESOME WRITE !!!!!!


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Olen
post Mar 18 2010, 11:54 PM
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I like the reworking of Arena's storyline. Never played it myself but from what I've read of it there wasn't the depth that other TES games had so it's perfect for the changes you're making. I like the subtle humour you drop into it too, quite refreshing.

Nice piece with building complexity, and a cameo for Barenziah smile.gif


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Verlox
post Mar 19 2010, 12:36 AM
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From: Austin, Texas



Chapter Three: The Adventure Begins


Splashes of hot color invaded the darkness that was Ernand's dreams. Deep reds and bright yellows spiraled into a sickening orange. Unconsciously, the young man struggled against the tide of color that threatened to drown him, seeking to return to the comforting shores of oblivion. Fighting, the color began to recede. Darker and darker it grew until, at last, Ernand had returned to the peace of shadows.

A loud slam jarred Ernand from his sleep. He snapped his eyes open, only to shut them tightly again when they were confronted with a burning light. While his eyelids kept the shine away from his eyes, it did little to actually get rid of it. When they finally adjusted, he opened them slightly to confront the reality of his situation. The searing light turned out to be nothing more than a lone candle that flickered weakly in the muted darkness that surrounded it. Rising from the damp floor, Ernand stumbled over to the beacon. Leaning against the platform that the candle sat on, he buried his head in his hands, wincing when he accidentally passed over a nasty cut on his forehead.

"Oh, yeah....That's infected...." Groaning, Ernand lifted himself up onto the platform, taking a seat next to the dying candle. Gently lifting the candle, he raised it high so it could light more of the room. It was not successful, but he was at least able to discern the character of his prison. It was a rather small room; the walls were damp, covered in fungus and grime. The floor was very much the same, and Ernand knew that, even in the low light, that his toga was incredibly dirty. Not far from him, to his right, was a door of thick metal bars. From beyond this barrier, he was able to hear the sounds of moving water, and the chittering of rats. Grimacing, Ernand questioned, "What is a jail cell doing in the sewers?"

"I do not know, Lochlainn."

Ernand screamed, and flung himself to the ground. In his panic, the candle sputtered out, shrouding the entire cell in darkness. It did not stay that way for long, however, because the room then filled with a bright, white light. Raising his head up and opening one eye, Ernand was met with the visage of his friend, Ria Silmane. Unlike a spell of Light, when propelled a small ball of brightness above the caster, the light that shined around Ria seemed to emanate directly from her. Shaking his head and scratching his eyes to see if he was just hallucinating, Ernand looked again, and Ria was still standing there, a look of deep melancholy on her ethereal face.

"Ria..." Ernand began carefully, "What are you doing here? Where am I?"

"You are imprisoned, deep below the Imperial City. You are being held here until your trial for murdering me."

"What?!" Ernand's mouth dropped in shock. "Murder? Wait..." He shut his eyes and shook his hands in front of him, "Let's take a step back." Taking a deep breath, Ernand spoke again, "So...You're...No longer among the living?"

"You say it as if you would offend me, Lochlainn. But yes, I am dead." The look of melancholy on her face became even worse, a sight that tore at Ernand's heart.

"But how? What happened? Did one of Tharn's assassins get to you?"

Ria shook her head. "No. Tharn himself did the deed. He drained the life right from my body. I know not how, but he has gained great power since he first started this simulacrum of his."

Ernand slumped back against a wall, staring vacantly into the air. He had some trouble processing the fact that Ria was dead, and that he was going to be blamed for her murder. But what he had the most trouble wrapping his mind around was why his friend was appearing to him now. Was it an attempt on her part to allow him to go to his grave in peace? No, Ria wouldn't do that sort of thing. A woman so lacking in sentimentality wouldn't bestir herself often to give a man peace. Gathering himself, Ernand tilted his head to look over at Ria. Even though he was sure no other person dwelt down in the hole he was in, he kept his voice at a loud whisper. "Ria...Can I ask why you are here?"

A brief smile crossed Ria Silmane's ghostly face, and she moved to kneel next Ernand. "Tomorrow, you are to be led out to be executed."

"Thanks for telling me. You have an excellent ability to comfort people, did you know that?"

Ria's brow shot down. "Now is not the time for making light of things, Lochlainn. Let me finish speaking." Raising her hand, Ria began to make a swirl in the air. Slowly, a form began to take shape resembling a paddle, or a piece of wood used to churn butter. "This is the Staff of Chaos. Tharn used it to imprison Emperor Uriel in a realm of his making, and assumed his form. Because the staff cannot truly be destroyed, he shattered into eight pieces, and cast them across Tamriel. Just as the staff is tied to the land, so to does the land rely on the staff to keep peace. All the wars that have been plaguing Tamriel can be tied to this device."

Ernand held his hand for Ria to pause. A look of deep thought was set on his face, and Ria's spirit waited patiently for her friend to speak. "How do you know all this, Ria? Did Tharn divulge all this information to you in some monologue that the villains in stories make all the time?"

Ria laughed sadly, "Alas, no. He did monologue some, but not about this. But when you leave your mortal body behind, many things become clear."

"Well, then. Continue."

Ria nodded. "I have learned that if the staff could be reassembled, then a portal leading to the Emperor's prison could be opened. I have come to you, in hopes that you could retrieve the fragments of the Staff of Chaos."

Ernand's brow shot up in surprise. He wasn't quite sure how he should react to Ria's request. Does she fail to realize that I'm stuck in a dank hole in the ground? He kept this thought to himself, not wanting to antagonize his friend. "I would gladly serve you, Ria. But how, pray tell, do you expect me to quest for the staff if I'm stuck in this prison cell?" Ernand looked on in surprise when Ria pointed her hand at the burnt out candle. His sense of reality quaked as he slowly saw the melted wax form itself into the shape of the key. But the truly amazing thing was when the wax key changed, becoming a shining key of pure ruby. "What in the name of Zenithar....."

"This key will unlock the door of your prison." The light from Ria dimmed briefly. Taking a step away from Ernand, she covered her face with her hand. "I have been here too long. I have used much of the power holding me here to form a Shift Gate not far from this place. It will take far away from the Imperial City. I know not where."

Ernand was holding the ruby key in his hand, only half-listening to Ria. His mind was quickly calculating how much this key could be pawned for. However, when he heard his friend say something about a Shift Gate taking him away, his head snapped over to look at her. "If I escape, I will likely be a wanted man. People all over the continent will be looking for an Ernand Leoriane. How do you expect me to retrieve the Staff of Chaos with an army of bounty hunter dogging my trail?" The light shining from Ria dimmed again, this time almost going out entirely. Ernand could barely make out his friend's form, and he began to panic. "Ria? Ria, what happened?"

Ria voice came from the darkness in an almost inaudible whisper. "I have burned away your face from the name Ernand Leoriane. No one, not even Tharn himself, will know the face of the man accused of murdering me. I will not be able to come to you again for sometime, Lochlainn. Make for the Shift Gate." Ria's voice began to fade away, and the last thing Ernand heard was, "Go forth....in the name of the Emperor....and with my blessing." Then Ria's light was no more, and the young Breton was left alone in his dank cell once again. The enormity of the situation struck him hard, but he felt emboldened by the former sorceress' faith in him. Focusing his energy, Ernand raised a spell of Light. Then, taking the key, he inserted it into the doorway. Hearing the click, he flung the door open and dived into the winding tunnels of the Imperial City Sewers.

When one is underground, time means little. Ernand was never to know how long he wandered the rancid tunnels, clubbing rats with the key he held in his hand. But time did pass, and soon he saw before him the shining light of the Shift Gate, just as Ria had promised. Approaching the swirling mass of color and light, Ernand attempted to pass through it. As he neared, however, a great booming voice sounded, reverberating throughout the tunnels.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME?!


Struck by the simplicity of the question, Ernand responded, "My name is Ernand Leoriane." Nothing happened. Shocked, Ernand stood for a minute before the voice sounded again.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME?!


Ernand waved his arms in the air, chanting his name as if it was the incantation to a powerful spell. Once again, nothing happened. Utterly frustrated, the Breton stamped his feet on the ground. If anything vermin had been sneaking up on him, the stream of profanity, which he hurled at the twisting Shift Gate, likely frightened them away. After minutes of cursing, the great voice came again.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME?!


Ernand didn't respond for sometime. Staying silent, he just glared at the Shift Gate, refusing to answer. It wasn't until he realized that Ria had been the one to put this portal there that Ernand grasped the answer to the gate's question. Apparently Ria hadn’t lost her sense of humor in death. Sighing, Ernand muttered, “I am Lochlainn.” A great thundering noise shook the sewers as the mass of color swirling together until it was nothing more than a shining ball of white light. It then leapt out at him, encasing him, drawing him away from the darkness.

*


Ernand moaned as he turned over, crushing leaves beneath him. In his hand, he still held the ruby key, caked in brains from using it to bash rats. He breathed in deep, detecting the smell of wood in his nostrils. Grinning, the Breton opened his eyes, only to be faced with the point of spear directing right at his throat. Raising his gaze, he looked into the very angry-looking eyes of a Bosmer clothed in a heap of hides. Moving his gaze from side to side, he could see more elves appearing, some from the trees above, other from the undergrowth around his prone body. Swallowing, Ernand gave an embarrassed grin and said, "Howdy..."

**



This post has been edited by Verlox: Jun 2 2010, 03:55 AM


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My loaf of bread brings all the ladies to the yard

"A brutish man cannot know, a fool cannot understand this: Though the wicked sprout like grass, though all evildoers blossom, it is only that they may be destroyed forever. But you are exalted, O Lord, for all time" -Psalms 92:7-9
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haute ecole rider
post Mar 19 2010, 01:56 AM
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Now we begin our adventure!

I am so looking forward to the rest of the story!

Well done!


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