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> Of Honor and War, A Redguard's Tale: Book I
post Dec 7 2017, 09:22 PM
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From: Hammerfell


The city of Jehanna stood high in the Wrothgarian Mountians, very near the border of High Rock and Skyrim. It’s lofty perch offered an impressive view of the Sea of Ghosts, far off in the northern distance. A relatively new city, it paled in comparison to the ancient cities of Hammerfell, and the Great Alik’r desert - at least, in the opinion of the Redguard who was silently looking over the city from window of his room at the local tavern. But then, Cain was a long way from the hot coastal city of Taneth. It was only natural to be homesick after a few months, especially when one knows it will be a long time before they will return home.

Taneth - such a beautiful city, nestled on the glistening blue waters of the Abecean Sea. Or at least it once was. Now, thirty years after the Dominion finally withdrew from Hammerfell to lick their wounds, it was only just rebuilt. It would always be home, but it did lose some of its splendor when the elves sacked it during their campaign north. However, Hammerfell stood strong and united, and for that Cain would always be proud to call his land home - even if the Empire had turned their backs on them. That was the real point of contention now. Would the Redguard’s ever rejoin the Empire? Not likely, but some feel that it’s not only wise, but a necessity. Only the foolish would think that the Altmer would give up, especially since they almost won. No….there will be a second Great War; the only question, is when? Hammerfell withstood their fury once, but Cain doubted they could again. They needed the Empire, and the Empire needed them. Hammerfell is home to the finest warriors in Tamriel, and if the Dominion decided to invade Cyrodiil without the Redguard legions, the Empire would fall.

Getting Cain’s brethren to acknowledge that, though, seemed to be an insurmountable task! Too much bitterness still resides for them to even think about proposing another alliance. Nothing he said changed the minds of his superior officers, not even the intercepted document that laid theory to what the Thalmor were actually up to. How could they be so shortisighted, to not recognize the threat to Tamriel, if the Towers were to fall. That coupled with the rumors of rebellion in Skyrim was all the information Cain needed to come to the decision that would change everything.

It was not honorable to leave ranks for anything other than formal discharge or retirement. And yet, he had left in the night - once he’d realized that his path lay elsewhere. The trek through the Alik’r was arduous, to say the least, but necessary if he wanted to evade capture and trial for desertion. Still, a month in the desert is something no man looks forward to - even a Redguard. And it took every bit of thirty-three days before he stood on the shores of the Iliac Bay, gazing out towards the Isle of Balfiera and the mystical Adamantine Tower. After a moment of taking in the awesome sight of the huge spire, Cain knelt and said a silent prayer to Satakal, before continuing on his journey north.

All that already seemed like so long ago. He’d been living in Jehanna far longer than anticipated, but it was for good reason. The friendly locals that he’d met all warned of the Thalmor presence in Skyrim, and the constant patrols justified under the White-Gold Concordat. That complicated matters, as it made crossing the borders into Skyrim a dangerous game indeed. So, Cain had been relegated to staying in the northern Breton town for the long haul. Or until he figured out the safest way into Skyrim. The dilemma gave him time to reflect on his personal goals, though - and whether or not they were too lofty for any one man.

After all….how could one Redguard hope to make a difference in a chaotic Civil War?

With that thought bouncing around in his head, Cain headed down to the bar for a stiff drink. The Breton’s preferred their wines, so that’s what he ordered from the barkeep.

“Alastair, do you by chance have anything besides sour wines and beers? I’m rather fond of the meads that the taverns in Taneth used to import from Anvil. Even a stiff brandy sounds better than another glass of ale.”

The barkeep chuckled, “I can always check downstairs in the cellar, friend. Mayhaps I’d find a bottle of mead from our neighbors to the east - the Nords do lover their meads. Most of the travelers we saw even brought their own, if you could believe it!”

“Oh, don’t worry about. I’m just in a foul mood - I didn’t expect to be here in Jehanna this long! I thought I’d long since be over the border into Skyrim. All the talk of the Thalmor patrols has me on edge, though, ya know? One misstep, and I could be in for a very rough stay in Skyrim. And what of these ‘Forsworn’ I hear about? Some kind of hedgefolk preying on travelers in the Reach?”

“Aye, and they are a nasty sort from the rumors I’ve heard. Working hand-in-claw with the wretched Hagravens that dwell in the mountains. You’d do well to avoid them as much as you would the Thalmor. The elves might interrogate you, sure, but the Forsworn are far more sadistic.”

“And here I thought it couldn’t get any worse than the Dominion,” said Cain, as he finished his glass of wine. “I think I’ll go for a stroll, Al. See what’s going on around town today.”

“Better bundle up, Mr. Cain. Last gent to come said a storm looked to be approaching from the east.”

Cain nodded, and headed back up to his room for the fur coat he purchased back in Evermor. It was chilly up here in the mountains, and his Redguard blood wasn’t doing a good job of acclimating to the drastic difference in climate. He hoped he’d get used to it eventually, since everything he heard about Skyrim involved constant snow and ice. Bundled up in, he strode out onto the windy streets of Jehanna and admired the mountain peaks all around him. The tall peaks were such a far cry from the dusty lowlands of Taneth and the Alik’r that even the modest Wrothgarian Mountains made Cain wonder about how diverse the geography of Tamriel must be. He’d read many books on the other provinces, of course; but sometimes you just have to get out and see the beauty of nature for yourself. Words do not always do a picture justice.

He turned his gaze east, towards the peaks of Skyrim and began to dwell, once again, on how he would manage to get there. It was a few moments before he realized the positions of Masser and Secunda in the approaching night sky. Judging from their current phase, it had been two months since he’d asked the local book clerk to order in a detailed map from the Imperial Cartography - surely the shipment would have come in by now. With a bit of hope now in his step, Cain turned and continued up the cobblestone street towards the Jehanna’s local bookstore. The sun was beginning to set, though, and he worried the shop would already be closed. Luckily, he caught Genevelle just as she was about to snuff out the lantern in her shop’s window.

He wrapped on the window to get her attention before stepping inside. “Gen, I’m glad I caught you! Did the map I ordered by chance make it back from the Imperial City, yet?”

The proprietor, was a local Breton woman of about thirty years of age. She was as diminutive as any other Breton woman, but exceptionally beautiful as well. Fair skinned, with deep red hair, she had piercing brown eyes and a kind smile. Genevelle seemed out of place among all her books, but she valued knowledge more than looks. Something which Cain found very curious indeed. Genevelle smiled at him knowingly when he entered the store, “Why, yes it did. Today, in fact! It came in with the latest shipment of goods from Evermor. I planned on letting you know at the inn tonight, if you hadn’t made it here before close.”

“Thank Leki! I’ve been going stir crazy, being stuck up here in the mountains. Er, not that the views aren’t lovely,” he added.

Gen smacked him on the arm, “Oh, stop it you silly man - before you make me blush. Hang on a tic…” She began rummaging around under her counter, “I swear I had the damned thing right here. Aha! Here it is.”

She handed him a long white cylinder that was capped at either end, and sealed with wax. “You’re a dear, Gen, thank you for getting this for me. Mind if I borrow your candle for a moment?”

“Normally I’d say no, Cain, but I do have somewhere to be tonight,” she said.

“Oh, well, alright then. I’ll head back to the inn for now.”

“You’re welcome to stop by tomorrow, though, if you have any questions about it. Shop opens at eight, just like any other day!,” she said, with a smile.

Cain nodded, “I’ll keep that in mind, Gen. Be seeing you.”
A few minutes later, he sat at the desk in his room, melting the waxen seal over his the candle illuminating his home of several months. When the last bit of wax fell onto the hardening puddle, he popped of the endcap and dumped the scroll out onto the oak hewn desk. It was larger than he anticipated, and the edges fell off the desk when he unrolled it. Taking out over to the bed, he laid it out across the fur blankets and studied it closely.

“Hmm, the optimal route looks to be on the northern coastline.” Tracing his finger across the road indicated on the map, he stopped upon the tiny image of a stone tower. “I wonder what this is…. I’ll have to check Gen’s old map of Skyrim and see if she can tell me what it is.” It would have to wait until tomorrow, though, as he glanced out into the now pitch blackness of nightfall. With a sigh, Cain rolled up the map, and crawled under the warm furs.

Morning came quickly, but Cain was ready for it. He stood impatiently outside of Genevelle’s bookstore, in eager anticipation of finally resuming his journey. A light in the window flickered to life, and soon after he heard the heavy groan of the iron lock releasing from the other side of the large wooden door. Before he could knock, the door swung open revealing a smiling Gen. “I had a feeling you’d be out here. Come inside, it’s damn chilly out there.” She ushered him inside the shop and motioned for him to sit down at the largest research desk. “So, what can I do for you today, Mr. Cain?”

The Redguard unraveled the map across the wide table, and pointed at the stone keep. “Any idea what this structure could be? It stands along the northern route I plan to take.”

Gen’s brow furrowed as she looked at it. “I think I’ve seen that before, in a map I got from a Nordic traveler. Let me see what I can dig up.” She strode off into the tall bookshelves and disappeared among the racks for a few minutes. Cain heard nothing but the sound of shifting books, and so he gazed back at the large map. Something inside him felt uneasy about the hand drawn image of the stone keep, but the northern road was his best shot. The sound of light footsteps roused Cain from his thoughts, as Genevelle returned with a small scroll, and dusty old tome.

“Here, check out what this old map says, while I try and find it in this book.” She handed him the small scroll as she sat down and began to thumb through the worn pages. Unrolling the small map, he was amazed at how much more detailed it was than the Imperial Cartography’s account of Skyrim.

“Northwatch Keep, eh? Is there anything about it in that book you’ve got there?”

“Surprisingly, yes. It appears the Nords are better record keepers than I give them credit for,” she chuckled. “According to this, it’s a desolate old fortress that’s been in disuse since the War of Betony. It didn’t see any action, but it was a key fort for the Nords, being situated on the northern road into Skyrim. Providing it’s still in disuse, I’d say you’ve found your route into Skyrim, Mr. Cain.”

Cain leaned back in his chair in relief. “Finally, some progress.” He reached out and grabbed her hand, “Thank you for this, Gen. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Oh, you’re quite welcome,” she said with a smile. I expect you’ll be leaving soon?
He nodded, “As soon as I get all my things packed up, and by some foods for travel.”

“Do drop in before you go, Cain. I’ll see if I can round up anything else to help you on your journey. Can’t have you wandering off into the unknown, now can we!”

“Don’t worry, Gen, I’ll be sure to see you again.”

“Good. Now, off you go, and don’t worry about the gold for the map - consider it a gift.”

“Oh no, I can’t do that Gen! This thing must have cost a pretty penny!”

“Don’t argue with me, Mr. Cain. I’m quite proficient at setting things aflame!”

Cain chuckled, “Ok, you win, Miss Genevelle. It will take me some time to get everything together, so I’ll likely see you on the morrow.” He gathered up his things and left the shop with a short bow that caused Gen to smile, and jokingly chuck a bit of charcoal at him. Back out in the chilly morning, he headed for the first stop of the many needed to get himself supplied for travel. Luckily, Jehanna had plenty to offer in way of food and drink. The apothecary was lacking, but that was only because the locals preferred to forage for their own alchemy supplies.
Evening time found the Redguard back in the inn, telling Alastair that he’d finally been checking out - while he still had some gold left. “It’ll be a shame to see ya go, Mr. Cain. ‘S been a long time since I had a regular tenant such as yourself.”

“I hear that, Al. I’ve grown quite accustomed to this place, truth be told. It’s a far cry from home, but it gets the job done! Not to mention the folks here are about as nice as they come, yourself include, of course.”

“Well, I appreciate that fella. Here, I found this down in the cellar last night.” He reached under the counter and pulled out a small bottle with an intricate label. “Black-Briar mead! I was told by the gent that left it here, that no finer mead exists in Tamriel!” He yanked out the stopper and poured it into a pewter mug. “Hopefully it hasn’t gone bad. Smells pretty tasty, though!”

Cain sniffed the now empty bottle Alastair had set aside, “Indeed it does, Al!” He took a swig from the mug, and set it back down on the counter. “By the Eight, this is delicious indeed! You’re a good man, Alastair Murric, and far too kind to me!”

“Bah, you’ve earned it, Mr. Cain. We don’t get many friendly travelers anymore, and you’ve been a good guest here in Jehanna. Now, finish off that mead and get to bed. You won’t be much use for a journey, if you stay here and get yerself all drunked up, eh!”

“Right you are, Al!” He finished off the mug of mead, and headed upstairs. Another hour passed before he had all his things together for the morning. The moons were peaking in the night sky, when Cain finally lay down for the night, with the taste of the mead still on his lips. “Black-Briar. I’ll have to remember that name.”

Once again, morning came on quickly as the rising sun cast its light through the second floor window and roused Cain from his slumber. Fully awake, he gabbed up his leather backpack, and made his way downstairs one last time. Alastair was stoking the flames of the great hearth when the Redguard entered the main hall. “Well, Al, I guess this is goodbye.”

“Aye, that it is, Mr. Cain. Hopefully Jehanna will see you again someday. In the meantime, here - take this for the road.” He tossed Cain a small satchel filled with bits of dried beef. “Made it meself, and I use my own recipe and seasonings. You’ll find it tastes better than the bits you got from the Relin brothers.”

Cain nodded, “Thank you again, Al, for everything.” He bundled up his furs and stepped outside into the warm glow of the morning sun. Making his way up the stone street, he soon stood outside of Gen’s shop. It was well past eight, so he entered the bookstore for the last time to find the young Breton waiting for him at the table. He set his pack down before joining her, “I’m going to miss the smell of this place -I always enjoyed the scent of the innumerable pages a library has in store.” He lowered himself into the seat across the table from Genevelle. “Not to mention the fair librarian of this particular establishment.”

“You sure do know how to make a girl blush, Mr. Cain.” Gen’s eyes had a distinct twinkle to them, but the soft smile on her face was a saddened one. “I’ll miss you a great deal, Cain. You’ve been a good friend in your time here in Jehanna. Now, before you go, I want you to have these.” She reached down next to her and grabbed some heavy volumed books from the floor. “These are spell tomes.”

Cain opened his mouth to respond, but Genevelle interrupted him, “I know what you are going to say, but don’t bother. I know Redguards are distrustful of magic, but that doesn’t mean you should refuse it. The first time you walked into my shop, I could sense the magicka in you, Cain. You have a touch for it, and you should explore it. Otherwise, you’d be denying a part of who you are.” She rose from the table, and put the books in his backpack for him, before settling back down across from the Redguard. “You’ll need practice, and the roads are the perfect place to get it. Just make sure you understand the theory, before you go dashing into a fight thinking you are an expert!”

“Thank you, Gen. You’re right of course - I shouldn’t deny a part me. Even if it is something I’ve been raised to be wary of. It’s just that I never even considered trying my hand at it. There’s no place for it in the Ra’Gada legions.”

“I know, and that’s why I wanted to make sure you pursue it. Now, enough of that - I don’t want to tie up your travel time.” She rose once more from here chair, and motioned Cain to do the same.

“Come. I’ll walk you to the edge of town.” Genevelle grabbed his backpack and reached out her hand for him. Together, they strode out of the shop and headed north, to the city limits. When the cleared the last gates, she embraced him warmly. “I expect you hear from you, once you’ve settled down in Skyrim. One of the hold cities, Whiterun, has a provincial courier service. Send me a letter as soon as you can!”

“I will Genevelle, you have my word.” They parted company, and Cain began his journey to Skyrim, while Gen walked solemnly back into town.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar: I love not Man the less,
But Nature more
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post Dec 8 2017, 03:11 AM
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Joined: 28-September 16
From: Sheogorath's shrine talking to myselves!

Off to a good start Cainboo! I’m betting the spell books she gave him were flames and healing tongue.gif

Look forward to reading more!

"Family is an odd thing, is it not? Defined by blood, separated by blood, joined by blood. In the end, it's all just blood."
-Dhaunayne Aundae

May you walk on warm sands!
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post Dec 8 2017, 03:37 AM
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From: Las Vegas

A delightfully easy to read style here as we learn quite a bit about Cain and his plans. So it seems his journey into Skyrim is about to begin in earnest.

I wonder if he will see Gen again? They do seem to get on very well....

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post Dec 8 2017, 05:06 AM
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From: Sheogorath's shrine talking to myselves!

Khajiit is suspicious of Gen. This one thinks she gave him really bad advice about the old Nord fort. As we all know, in TES, “abandoned” doesn’t necessarily mean empty...

Now whether that is due to inexperience or some malicious intent remains to be seen.

This post has been edited by TheCheshireKhajiit: Dec 8 2017, 05:20 AM

"Family is an odd thing, is it not? Defined by blood, separated by blood, joined by blood. In the end, it's all just blood."
-Dhaunayne Aundae

May you walk on warm sands!
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