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> Jerric's Story, A Nord's Adventures in Cyrodiil
Grits
post Apr 16 2019, 11:57 AM
Post #1101


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From: The Gold Coast



Previously: Darnand and Lildereth made a plan to contact Baurus.


Acadian: Thank you, Acadian! Lil is a delight to write. You’re right, Darnand is never going to enjoy having a Nord inside his head. But being Darnand, he wants them to be very good at it!

SubRosa: Yikes, instead of cloak and dagger, Persephone is cloak and greatsword. I still chuckle remembering planning the scene where Darnand cracks the code. I had all these Jerric-style struggles and variations in mind, then Darnand sat down and knew it immediately. He can be so annoying! tongue.gif Thank you, SubRosa!


Next: Baurus, James Baurus.


Chapter 18: The Path of Dawn, Part Five



Darnand stood for a moment in the entry, letting his eyes adjust. Most of the patrons ignored him. The muscular Redguard seated at the short end of the bar met his eyes without any pretense of manners. He wore a katana at his hip. Baurus.

A woman in a worn dress and clean apron swiped her rag across a nearby table. “Care for a meal, sir? Drink?”

“No thank you. I shall take a seat at the bar.”

“Suit yourself.”

Following Jerric’s advice, Darnand walked slowly keeping his hands relaxed and visible. He placed his bag on the bar and sat down diagonally opposite Baurus.

The publican tipped his head back at Darnand in that odd way that some men use to greet one another. “What’ll you have?”

“I should like a glass of your house red, if you please.” Darnand withdrew his coin purse from the bag, leaving it open to expose the three book spines to Baurus. He and the publican exchanged coin for goblet. Then the Imperial walked to the far side of the bar.

Baurus flipped the bag closed.

“I am Darnand Penoit, a friend of Jerric’s. He is detained. I am here in his stead.”

Baurus took a sip from his tankard, letting his gaze drift around the room. “Baurus. What have you found out?”

“The fourth volume can only be obtained from a cult member.” Darnand placed Gwinas’s note beside his bag. “Gwinas had arranged a meeting with a Sponsor. He has decided against taking it.”

Baurus fixed his eyes on Darnand.

A chill went down his neck. “Jerric was surprised that the message came from his Aunt here in the city,” Darnand said. “He expected her letter to originate in the north.”

“Who has him?”

“Forgive me. I meant that he is delayed. To my knowledge he is not in anyone’s custody.” Brother Venco had been adamant that Jerric not be imprisoned and interrogated. Darnand did not want to accidentally cause a death squad to be sent to Morrowind.

Baurus folded the note and placed it back on the bar. “This just might be the break we’ve been looking for. Good work! We need to get that fourth book, then. If Tar-Meena is right, we can use them to locate the hidden shrine. They’ll pay for the murder of the Emperor. Once we know how to find them, it will only be a matter of time.”

“The code we have thus far reads, ‘Green Emperor Way, where Tower touches.’”

If Baurus was impressed, he didn’t show it. “Clever to hold the meeting in the sewers. They run underneath the whole city, with access points in every district. They can use them to move around without attracting attention. That’s what we do.”

“You are familiar with the Sunken Sewers?”

“Yes. Where is Gwinas now? We can question him after we get the fourth volume.”

Though Darnand had the same idea, he hesitated. “If we fail to acquire the final volume—”

“Do you know his whereabouts?” Baurus spoke softly, but his tone made Darnand want to back slowly away.

“Is it correct to address you as Sir Baurus? Jerric told me you were a member of the Emperor’s Dragonguard.”

“That’s correct.”

“Sir Baurus—”

“But I prefer that you don’t call me that.”

Darnand chose his words carefully. “We shall make them pay for what they have done. Jerric would say the same were he here. However it is not yet a crime to be a daedric scholar, nor to be a collector of daedric miscellany. I should not like for Gwinas to suffer more terror at my hands. Once I explained my purpose to him, he was swift to offer his cooperation.”

Baurus gave Darnand a long look. “Let’s go. I know that part of the sewers well.” He walked straight to the tavern’s main door without glancing back.

Darnand collected his belongings and followed, keeping a discreet distance behind Baurus. After only half a block the Blade turned into an alley. Here stacked shipping crates and barrels provided shelter for those inclined to public urination, judging from the smell. The alley opened into a sparsely planted courtyard. A raised, circular grate sat not three strides from a well.

Resolving to never again drink Elven Gardens water, Darnand walked to the sewer grate. He recalled Jerric’s tale of Baurus baiting a cultist into following him to a messy end in Luther Broad’s cellar. If Baurus intended him harm, Darnand would know within the next few moments.

Baurus lifted the metal grate and held it for Darnand. “Stick together,” Baurus muttered. He climbed down after Darnand, lowering the cover back into place.

Baurus did not attempt to murder him. Nor did he produce a torch, so Darnand refrained from casting a light spell. The ubiquitous cave fungi’s ghostly luminescence provided insufficient light for his peace of mind. When the clicking grumble of a mudcrab echoed through one chamber, Darnand cast a short-range life detection spell.

The crab’s purple life sign indicated unusual size and vigor. Baurus went around it without comment. Darnand followed. He supposed that while they did not seem to be sneaking, fighting every creature they encountered would draw as much attention as a light.

Sewer rats were more aggressive than the overgrown mudcrabs. When necessary, Baurus defended himself with his katana. Darnand kept his fire spells neatly contained.

Passing through some sort of water gates soaked them both to the thigh. Darnand ignored the floating matter that bobbed and bumped into him. Instead he thought about the complications one might encounter using sewers as primary travel routes. How did Baurus prevent the stench from following him in a plume? How did the cultists?

When they encountered goblins, Baurus called his targets. “This one’s mine!” Thanks to the Blade’s speed and agility, none managed to injure the two humans.

Eventually Baurus stopped outside a closed door. Stone stairs hugged the wall going up, making a turn at the top.

He spoke in a hushed tone. “All right. The room with the table is just through this door. I always wondered who put it there. I happen to know that if you go up the stairs there, you’ll get a vantage point on the meeting room. I think I’d better be the one to handle the meeting. You’ll be my backup. Keep watch from above in case of trouble.”

“They know who you are, Baurus. I will meet the Sponsor.”

“No, it should be me. I have a blood debt to repay these Mythic Dawn assassins. Besides, I’ve trained for this kind of thing my whole life.”

“We must exercise caution. Remember why you assigned this task to Jerric. If you are recognized, they may simply vanish. I understand your desire to spill their blood. Take heart. Should our plan go awry, I shall rely upon your training to keep me alive.”

“Very well, we’ll do it your way. Be careful, and remember, we can’t leave here without that book. It’s our best chance of getting the Amulet back.”

“I am ready.”

“Okay, let’s do this.”

Darnand dispelled his life detection, concerned that the Sponsor might perceive it and become suspicious. He watched Baurus silently climb the stairs then turn into the doorway and out of his sight.

His door’s hinges made a metallic squeal when he pushed it open. On the other side he found a high-ceilinged chamber, dry apart from a trickle through drainage troughs in the floor. Above his head a walkway stretched across the room. Baurus must be hiding there, having entered through the doorway on the right.

A small table with a single chair stood near an iron-gated doorway. Candles provided enough light to see to the chamber’s corners. Sweat prickling his chest and armpits, Darnand walked over and took a seat. He placed the three volumes of Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes on the table. His bag’s shoulder strap hooked over the chair back as if he was in some library or kahve shop.

Almost immediately an Altmer wearing a blood-colored robe entered through the iron gate. He appeared unarmed. A ring gleamed on one black-gloved hand. He strode to the table and loomed over Darnand, his back to the walkway.

“You are not the Bosmer Gwinas,” he intoned.

Darnand had not prepared for the fury that surged through him. He spoke slowly in the hope that his voice would not betray him. “Gwinas was not worthy of having his name cut into our Lord’s book. I took his red-drink and offered it to the Garden of Dawn. Will you act as my Sponsor?”

The Altmer bowed his head as if accepting an honor. “I am Raven Camoran.”

“Darnand Penoit.”

Raven began to pace in the way of the pompous and arrogant. “So. You want to become one of the Chosen of Mehrunes Dagon. The Path of Dawn is difficult, but the rewards are great. I have the book you seek. With it and the Master’s three other books, you will possess the key to enlightenment. But do you have the wit and strength to use the key you have been given? If so, I will see you next at Dagon’s Shrine. Yes, I think you may...”

A dim light appeared in the doorway at the walkway’s far end, opposite the one which Baurus must have entered. Torchlight.

Camoran might be carrying the fourth volume on his person. The books were certainly charmed against wear, but Darnand did not wish to test the enchantment with fire. He brought a shock spell to the front of his mind. “I do not think that I will see you there.”

A shout and the sound of daedric summoning came from the upper left doorway. An instant later, two armored figures charged onto the walkway, their attention directed at Baurus’s end. One held a torch.

“You were instructed to come alone!” Camoran cried. “Brothers, kill them! The Dawn is Breaking!”

“For Uriel Septim!” Baurus howled.

As Raven raised a hand into the air, Darnand pushed back from the table, knocking it over. The candles snuffed out on the floor. Lightning bolts shot from his outstretched palms and met the shield that Camoran cast on himself.

The Altmer staggered but kept his feet. He whipped a hand forward. As Darnand dived behind the table, Camoran’s shock spell sent it flying.

Every spell that came to mind ended in fire. Cursing his lack of preparation, Darnand heaved the chair at Camoran. Baurus leaped from the stairs, landing in a deep crouch. As the Altmer regained his balance, Darnand’s shock spell knocked him backward. A bloody blade appeared protruding from his abdomen. Baurus pushed Camoran off of his katana, twisting the blade as the Altmer dropped to his knees. His scream ended when Baurus sliced off his head. Blood spattered in an arc which included Darnand.

“That’s three more that won’t be reporting back to their Master,” said Baurus.

Darnand wiped a sleeve across his face. “You preening, flap-tongued canker,” he growled at the blood pooling between Camoran’s head and body. “Your pestilent cult took everything from him. He loved his family more than his own life, and you took them all.” Darnand slowed and deepened his breathing to help his heart rate return to normal. This anger was not going to simply fade away.

Baurus cleaned his blade. “That could have gone smoother. Can’t say I minded killing a few more of these bastards, though. Get the book and let’s get out of here.”

Darnand patted Raven’s corpse, avoiding the spreading evidence of death. As expected, the Sponsor had a copy of the fourth book tucked into his robe. Darnand also helped himself to what turned out to be an enchanted ring. A fire shield. This will be useful in your Lord’s Deadlands. You cursed, soulless—

“That’s the book we need?” asked Baurus.

The volume’s weight in his hands brought Darnand back to himself. He turned his attention to the text. “‘Green Emperor way, where Tower touches midday sun’.” He snapped it closed. “As I suspected. The books mention bringing four keys. Jerric is adamant that we give copies to Tar-Meena, but I believe we will need all four volumes to gain entry to the shrine.”

Baurus jerked his chin at the walkway above. “Let’s check back there. They must dwell here if they’re ready to pop out every time a potential cultist comes calling. I’ll wager they keep a supply somewhere.”

The cultists indeed kept a supply in their nearby living quarters. Baurus handed copies of the first three volumes out of a trunk. “Today’s your lucky day. Take these to Tar-Meena. If you catch her in the morning, you can get to Green Emperor Way in time to figure out the tower business.”

“It will be the White Gold Tower,” Darnand said. “Once I know the shrine’s location, where should we meet?”

“At The Foaming Flask in the Talos Plaza district. Tell your elf that I won’t be followed. I look forward to meeting her.”

“Her name is Lildereth.”

Baurus reached his arm out and clasped Darnand’s. “Take care, Penoit. I’m glad to have you on our side.”




.


This post has been edited by Grits: Apr 16 2019, 08:47 PM


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Jerric's Story * Darnandex * Morning Star Screenshot: Cyrodiil Meadow
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ghastley
post Apr 16 2019, 02:55 PM
Post #1102


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I assume Darnand's anger at Raven Camoran relates to Kvatch, but maybe that part needs a more direct reminder? It reads like it's a personal grudge against Raven himself.

Otherwise a nice adjustment of the vanilla to the non-standard personnel. Was most of Raven's dialogue straight from the game? I'm looking forward to finding out what devious stuff Lil's getting up to in parallel to this.

Nit: Cameron, Camoran, and there could have been other spellings I didn't notice.


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Acadian
post Apr 16 2019, 08:24 PM
Post #1103


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Wonderfully done! As ever, it is fun traveling with Darnand and enjoying his very different storytelling, ways of speech and mannerisms (compared to The Nord). tongue.gif

I loved the very hard edge you put on Baurus that rendered him into quite the imposing character.

The brief fight scene was perfect, with wonderful descriptions of magic vs magic vs blade.


Nit: ’Sweat prickling his chest chest and armpits, Darnand walked over and took a seat.’ - - Looks like an extra leftover ‘chest’.


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SubRosa
post Apr 16 2019, 09:43 PM
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Ewwww, public urination crates! ohmy.gif

Crabs of unusual size? I don't think they exist...

What a gross trip through the sewers. I hope Darnand knows a Cleanse spell to get it all off of him afterward.

Looks like Baurus went to the Persephone school of spycraft: We go in and kill everyone! laugh.gif

Nice play by Darnand with the explanation of why he is not Gwinas. He's pretty good at playing the evil wizard. Maybe a little too good? ohmy.gif

Baurus definitely went to the Persephone school of spycraft!



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Renee
post Apr 20 2019, 03:04 PM
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Yah! Congrads on getting that Mysterium tome. Hopefully Baurus won't double-cross somehow in the future. It's been that long since I've done the Main Quest, that I don't remember what exactly happens anymore during most of it.

I am referring mostly to the part when Darnand is looking at Baurus, glad he hasn't gotten murdered! Yikes.
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Grits
post Apr 22 2019, 05:28 PM
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Previously: Darnand and Baurus acquired the fourth volume of Mankar Camoran’s Commentaries, killing Raven CamOrAn in the process. (After all these years you’d think I’d get the names right!)


ghastley: Raven’s dialog was almost entirely from the game. You are correct in thinking that Lildereth is not sitting quietly in their inn room during all of this. biggrin.gif I changed Darnand’s outburst a bit to hopefully make it clearer. He was very much surprised and confused by his emotion, but it wasn’t supposed to confuse the reader. Thank you, ghastley!

Acadian: Whoops, Darnand’s chest is not so imposing that it needs to be named twice. whistling.gif I’m glad you enjoyed this Darnand’s-eye view of Baurus. I always thought he must be much scarier than the Hero of Kvatch gets to see in the game. Thank you, Acadian!

SubRosa: MCOUSes! Glad you spotted that little tribute. Baurus finally got to spill some blood! He has been waiting for that all these months by himself in the IC. I imagine he might have gone on more of a Persephone-style rampage if they kept him waiting a few millennia. Evil wizard dialog does roll off Darnand’s tongue with alarming ease. ohmy.gif Thank you, SubRosa!

Renee: A while ago in the story in an incident that doesn’t happen in the game, Darnand was snatched up and questioned by the new guy in charge at Weynon Priory, Brother Venco (also not in the game) and then released with Jerric. Darnand is still jumpy around the Blades. tongue.gif Thank you, Renee!


Next: Meanwhile, in Morrowind...


.

Chapter 18: The Path of Dawn, Part Six



Jerric pushed the door open, lifting his elbow for Nereli to duck underneath. Incense didn’t cover the smells of leather balm, solvents, and sweat. A Fighters Guild hall must smell pretty much the same in any province.

The large entrance chamber was empty apart from a uniformed guild porter. They exchanged nods, then made their way down a side passage to the common quarters lounge. There Kjestrid sat with Shamir-do at a low, round table. Kjestrid held a bracer on her knee, working at a buckle. Shamir-do was occupied with his arrows. None of the local Fighters Guild members seated around the room looked up or greeted them when they entered.

Jerric sat down at Kjestrid’s table. “Did you get a contract?” he asked.

“An extermination job. Some lady had rats in her basement.”

“Ha! You must have been the most overqualified rat catchers in Fighters Guild history.”

“Maybe so,” she said. “Any help from your mind-talking Breton?”

“I didn’t ask him for money, but we made some gold, too.” Jerric nudged Nereli, who still stood beside him.

“Doing what?” asked Kjestrid. “Drinking competition?”

“Show her.”

Nereli withdrew their earnings from her pocket with dramatic flair. Her presentation met trouble when she got the pouch tangled up in her tunic. Eventually she thumped it onto the table with a satisfying jingle.

“Mara’s heart!” Kjestrid exclaimed. “How did you get all this?”

Jerric gave Nereli a proud shove, making her stagger sideways. “This one’s a born bookmaker. She’s wasted on the Fighters Guild.”

“He did the work,” Nereli said, pointing unnecessarily at Jerric. “Rutting, dicing, and fighting. I just collected the coins.”

Kjestrid’s brows climbed high as an Altmer’s. “Do I want to hear this story?”

“Please,” purred Shamir-do, “this one must hear it.”

“There will be time on our way through Moonshadow,” said Jerric. Or we can all forget about it. “Where’s Gjaever?” He got up and began to walk toward their assigned chamber, affecting a tuneless whistle.

“Splitting wood and hauling water,” said Kjestrid. “Come on, elf, pull up a chair and favor us with some company.”

Nereli sounded like she’d remembered how to smile. “The first fight was with this big Cyrod,” she started.

Jerric turned back to make sure she told it right. “The s’wit picked a fight with me. Over the way I looked at his lady.”

“Ah,” said Shamir-do, “The Nord learns to speak as a local.”

“Jerric let the fetcher knock him down,” Nereli continued. “It was after he won us some gold cheating at dice.”

“The troll-humper tapped my nuts,” said Jerric. “I just took a little rest on the floor. I don’t throw fights, and I don’t cheat at dice. I play to win.”

“He means the Cyrod’s lady looked like a troll,” Nereli explained, her tone completely earnest. “That’s why he was looking at her.”

Jerric shook his head and mimed a large bosom.

Nereli ignored him. “They left and this orc started talking tough, so I used our dice winnings to make a wager. By then the Nord was back on his feet. She caught him under the chin and laid him out flat.”

“The orc laid Jerric flat,” Kjestrid said to clarify.

“I didn’t know there was a wager,” Jerric said. “Or that I was in another fight. And my eyes were still wet from the Imperial stone cracking.”

“I kept taking bets while she gave him a pounding. It looked bad for us, but I had a plan to slip out the side door if we lost. Then Jerric rose from the dead and got her around the neck.” Nereli demonstrated the choke with her own arm and throat.

“After that a couple of Dunmers thought they could take me,” said Jerric. “One of them got me with his heel. As pretty a hook kick as I’ve ever failed to duck. Once they stopped bleeding and everyone paid up, Nereli helped me put my teeth back in straight.”

Kjestrid squinted at him. “Straight compared to what?”

“Khajiit thinks there is more to this tale.”

Jerric gave his teeth an experimental rub. “Yeah, I had to pay for some elf furniture. And I think there’s some that I haven’t heard yet. Nereli can tell me later. Who wants a drink?”

Nereli had other plans. “After the fights Jerric boned some people in the alley. He doesn’t know I made them pay.”

Kjestrid’s expression made Jerric want to explain even more than he wanted to strangle Nereli. “It was only two people, one at a time like civilized folk. I needed to be sure my,” he gave his crotch a brief hoist, “didn’t, uh, receive lasting damage from the Imperial. The money part is news to me. Must have happened while I was outside.”

Nereli slowly shook her head, in thrall to the memory. “I never had any luck turning tricks in Mattapi. I should have been selling Nord rides instead.”

Shamir-do made a choking noise.

“Fur ball?” asked Jerric. He took the opportunity to wallop the Khajiit between his shoulders.

“Now I know you’re jesting,” said Kjestrid.

“A fight makes some folk randy,” Jerric said. “I merely helped out a new acquaintance or two. It wasn’t some kind of Dunmeri cluster hump.” He stifled a sigh.

Kjestrid said, “I mean I’m having a hard time seeing how you’re not the one who paid.”

Jerric placed a hand over his heart in a mock-wounded gesture.

Nereli had more to tell. “After we put his teeth back in we had a drink with some of the folk who didn’t lose money on the fights. When he went to the alley with just the one, her friends were jealous. I saw another earning opportunity. I told them for a price I would put in a good word. Also that he’s free-born and favored by Sanguine. Course, I thought I was lying about that last part.”

Kjestrid had abandoned her mending. “I guess you have Sanguine’s attention now. Is this going to cause trouble for us? With Azura?”

“I’m not any kind of daedra worshiper,” Jerric told her. “I have an agreement with Sanguine, nothing more. Though there’s no shame in that kind of work.” Saying so didn’t make it true. He had been acting like a self-indulgent idler, not a Knight Brother of the Blades. “Anyway now we have some money and I feel a lot more relaxed, if anyone wonders. How much did you get from the Redoran?”

Kjestrid was already counting coins. “With this and our rodent slayer earnings, enough to start Gjaever on his journey, pay our bills here, and buy a few days’ trail rations. It will be easier to transfer funds once we’re in Cyrodiil, so I’m not as concerned about the trip from Cheydinhal to Bruma. Shamir-do says that if we strike a bargain with Azura, her followers will take us through Moonshadow without charging for every little thing. Whatever Azura wants will be our price. If we don’t strike a bargain it will be a long walk or however long it takes us to save up the fares. We’ll have to pay with our swords either way. Or some of us with their wizard’s staff.” She snorted at her own jest.

“Let’s hope we strike a bargain,” Jerric said. “I need to get home to my friends.” Home. It wasn’t a place any more.

“I’m going to Moonshadow,” Nereli announced.

Shamir-do’s ears only flattened for an instant this time. He must be getting used to her.

“I’m not Gjaever, but I can help with whatever we need to do,” she continued. “I’m no more welcome here than I was in Mattapi. Redoran or no, they look at me like they can smell the ash. I only got so many wagers on the fights because the whole corner club wanted to see me lose.”

Jerric was torn between curiosity and the responsibility that knowing might bring.

Kjestrid saved him the decision. “What in the hells are you talking about?” she asked Nereli.

“I’m an Ashlander,” Nereli said, using the patient tone that made Jerric want to punch her. “I wasn’t born in the mountains or this city. I forget that you outlanders can’t tell one accent from another.”

“That’s because you all sound the same,” Jerric said.

“When we speak Tamrielic. I learned from the Redoran after I left home. My clan kept the old ways. I’ll be welcome in Moonshadow. You’ll see.”

“The next thing I’d like to see is an alchemist,” said Jerric. “Both of those lasses wanted to check me for crotch crawlers, as if any could find refuge on an elf. There’s no telling what sort of poles they’re used to climbing. I need to make a Cure Disease potion.”

Kjestrid pushed some coins across the table. “I suppose I can’t complain. You earned them.”

“You should go to a bathhouse, too,” said Nereli. “The wash basins here won’t splash that rind off you. You’re going to pollute the bed.”

“A good stable takes care of its horses,” Jerric said to Nereli before forgetting his point. He took the coins and rose to leave, tripping over a chair.

“Someone go with him,” Kjestrid said. “Or I’ll have to.”

“I’m drunk as a Nord,” said Nereli.

Shamir-do leaped to Jerric’s side. He linked their arms at the elbows in the way of Khajiiti friends. “Tell this one more about the boon Jerric has received from Sanguine.”

“Lies,” Jerric declared, letting Shamir-do steer. He thumbed his chest. “This is all Kyne’s handiwork.”

~~~

Dawn found the Bruma Fighters Guild members and their new recruit striding through the city. Blacklight’s laborers were already at work sweeping, scrubbing, and pushing hand carts. Jerric kept an eye out for Cyrodilic food or kahve stands, but saw none.

Gjaever walked in front beside Kjestrid. He wore a newly fitted netch hide jerkin, a second-hand pack, and a sort of cloak made from sleeping furs and a ground cloth. If he met any wolves or bears on his way through Skyrim, Jerric expected that they would take one look and choose to go a different way. The big Nord and the rest of the group parted ways at the city gate. Gjaever had already said his farewells. When the moment came he simply dipped his head in their direction and kept going.

Jerric, Kjestrid, Shamir-do, and Nereli stopped to watch him walk away. Then Kjestrid, who had the map, put their boots on the day’s road.

With Gjaever’s departure their number seemed diminished by more than one. Jerric kept an eye on Nereli to see what the Dunmer did when they passed fellow travelers. It seemed that no greeting was the preferred custom. Even casual eye contact was met with frowns. Perhaps they were considered lower status based on the Nords and Khajiit in their group.

The road was made of black crushed stone that made a grinding sound underfoot. A deep ditch ran along each side. He supposed that as in Cyrodiil, spring snow melt would bring seasonal flooding. Jerric was no stranger to trench-digging. The work that had gone into this road must have been considerable. He recalled a comment that Nereli had made on their walk down from Mattapi. ‘Nords don’t make the best slaves. They don’t last like Bretons.’ Looking at this road, he could guess which humans the masters had used on their building crews and which were more likely to be put to work indoors. No wonder his kind didn’t live very long. He began to understand Shamir-do’s persistent discomfort and anger.

Habit kept him scanning the roadsides for threats. The hills here were covered in low, clumpy grasses. Spiky plants as high as his waist stood among the rocks, their sword-shaped leaves edged in spines. The only trees at this elevation were single-trunked oddities whose twisting branches housed clusters of dagger-like leaves as long as his arm. The air felt crisp and dry despite the snow on the mountainsides. He found his waterskin nearly empty before he realized he had been drinking from it.

The trail to the hillside shrine was easy to find. Foliage had recently been cut away from the edges and dragged off rather than left in place. Probably to fuel the fires of pilgrims seeking refuge. Even before Kjestrid halted the group, a small sign bearing a moon and star confirmed his guess.

Kjestrid broke their long silence. “Nereli, you can go in alone, if it will improve your chances. We’ll give you time to get ahead of us.”

“I’ll stay with you,” said Nereli. “I told you the truth before. They’ll give me a place in Moonshadow, and I might help make your bargain favorable.”

The smell reached them at the same time they began to hear voices. A turn in the trail brought them within sight of a disorganized encampment. Shelters leaned against the rocks and scrubby trees. Elves squatted around fitful, smoky fires while their children stood in clusters, watching the newcomers with solemn eyes. Jerric recalled the joyful chaos at Meridia’s shrine in County Skingrad. That was a festival, he reminded himself. These folk are here because they have run away.

“Where..?” Kjestrid spoke in a hushed tone.

“This one will find out. Wait here.” Shamir-do shrugged out of his packs and strode off, his bearing as proud as a king’s.

Nereli had to scramble to catch up.

“I guess he’s more devoted than he let on,” said Jerric.

Kjestrid picked up Nereli’s packs. “Let’s find a spot and look like we belong here before someone comes along and gives us some chores.”

“Or a bill for the air we’re breathing.” Jerric shouldered the Khajiit’s belongings.

They hardly had time to chew up their mystery meat trail rations before a soft-faced Dunmeri lad in a pale orange robe found them. He bowed and made a graceful gesture. “If you please, come with me to the Sanctum.”

The farther they got from the camp, the cleaner and brighter became people’s clothing. These must be the attendants. About a third of them were Khajiit, half Dunmer, and the remaining few an assortment of mer and human. They wore all the colors of a coastal sunrise. If this was a small shrine, Jerric wondered what the big ones looked like.

The lad brought them past a series of outdoor altars to a round door in the side of a hill. Stone blocks made two wide steps up to a half-circle landing. Carved and painted tiles surrounded the door frame and arched lintel. Incense burned in bowls set on both sides of the top step.

Jerric noted that the door would swing inward. Nerves made him look above for traps. It was a small comfort to discover Kjestrid doing the same.

The Dunmer pushed the door open and stood aside, holding it for them.

Azura is one of the good ones. Her shrine won’t be decorated with butchered mortals. Jerric took a breath and stepped inside.




.


This post has been edited by Grits: Apr 23 2019, 01:52 AM


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SubRosa
post Apr 22 2019, 08:53 PM
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“Mara’s heart!”
This makes me think of an old comic - I think Neil Gaiman's Sandman - where someone swore "By the Iron D**K of Thor!"


The Fighter's Guild reminds me of the smell of Gym Class.

Rats! Why is it always rats? laugh.gif

For a moment when Jerric said that Nireli was a bookmaker, I thought it meant she actually made books... Doh!

Don't they know the first rule of Fight Club!! laugh.gif

So Nireli is an Ashlander. That explains the cool reception she has gotten from other Dunmeri.

The lack of Dunmeri greeting one another reminds me of something I saw recently about things in American culture that perplex Non-Americans. They don't understand why we all smile at one another and say hi, start up conversations, and otherwise make nice with total strangers.

Well, let's hope Azura's shrine is not decorated with butchered mortals...


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Acadian
post Apr 23 2019, 06:15 PM
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Nereli did a great job relaying the boisterously profitable adventures of herself and the naughty Nord. Sounds like they make a good team. . . and Nereli seems to think so as well since she is now part of the Cyrodiil-bound crew.

Nicely described approach to Azura’s shrine. I’m looking forward to seeing the Mistress of Twilight!


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Grits
post Apr 30 2019, 12:08 PM
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Previously: The Morrowind crew made enough money to start their journeys. Gjaever headed off to the Dunmeth Pass. Jerric, Kjestrid, Shamir-do, and Nereli walked to the Azura shrine in the nearby hills.


SubRosa: This trip has a lot to do with cultural differences for Jerric, since he spent nearly his whole life in just two Cyrodiil counties. I would like to put Nereli in a game and see what she does. It would probably start with a rat quest! Thank you, SubRosa!

Acadian: Whew, I’m glad Nereli made some sense out of their story. Her and Jerric’s intoxicated ramblings had me scratching my head for a bit. Thank you, Acadian!


Next: The Shrine to Azura.

.

Chapter 18: The Path of Dawn, Part Seven



The entry chamber held tall vases filled with blooming branches and smelled like sweet incense. Kjestrid was directed to an alcove on the right side, Jerric to the left. Racks and benches held Shamir-do’s and Nereli’s armor, packs, boots, and clothing. Pink robes hung in a neat row with soft-soled slippers lined up along the floor underneath. Some of the robes were cut to accommodate tails.

Kjestrid began to undress. “Keep your drawers on,” she mouthed at Jerric. She pointed at her undergarments and shook her head to illustrate.

The robes ranged in size from Altmer to Ohmes. Jerric found a decent fit and a likely pair of slippers. His last clean drawers had been a casualty of the corner club incident. There was nothing to be done about that now.

The shrine lad produced a basin of water with flower petals floating in it. Jerric looked to Kjestrid for another directive, but she was still tucking and tying in her alcove. “How much of me is supposed to fit in that?” he asked the Dunmer.

“Just your hands, sera.” He tilted his head at the towel hanging over his arm.

Jerric dipped, wiped, and shuffled over to make room for Kjestrid.

A pleasant gong noise announced the inner doors opening. A grey-furred Khajiiti woman in a purple robe appeared and ushered them through. Here tinted glass lanterns produced a rose-colored light. Their guide led them down a curving corridor lined with doorways and various objects that Jerric guessed must be art. They passed a female figure as tall as an Argonian, her skin pale lavender with patches of purple scales. She held her bat-like wings folded across a heavily muscled chest. Either makeup or tattoos decorated her hairline and brow. Jerric tried not to stare.

When they stopped at an ornate doorway, their guide spoke in a low tone. “You enter now into the presence of our Lady Azura, Prince of the Crimson Gate, Mother of the Rose, and Queen of Twilight.” Her voice carried the typical Khajiiti burr, but the accent sounded Dunmeri.

This room must be the Sanctum. The only Azura Jerric could see was a white stone statue of a voluptuous woman surrounded by more of the flowering branches. Incense smoke curled in lazy tendrils past her outstretched arms. She held a sun-like curved star in her right hand and a crescent moon in her left. The statue’s carved eyes were blank and her hair only a smooth shape at the top of her head, but her bare torso was modeled in enough detail to make Jerric check his robe.

On the floor at the statue’s feet reclined another Khajiiti woman, this one older and plumper than their guide. She wore her hair in thin braids wrapped around a spiky gold headdress. Pillows made a sort of throne for her. Shamir-do sat cross-legged on a cushion at her side. Nereli knelt beside him, her palms flat on her thighs.

With a formal gesture their guide indicated that they too should sit. She sank into a kneeling position like Nereli. Jerric decided to emulate Shamir-do and sat cross-legged, managing not to wobble as he lowered himself to the floor.

“You have the honor of speaking to our Reverend Mother Ra’tayah, high priestess of the Order of the Evening Sun,” said their guide.

Jerric cleared his throat.

“How should we address her?” Kjestrid asked. She had settled between Jerric and their guide, completing the circle.

“Reverend Mother or Your Excellency. You may speak directly to Her Excellency.”

Jerric decided to let Kjestrid do the talking.

“Your Excellency, thank you for meeting with us,” Kjestrid said.

The Reverend Mother inclined her head. “Shamir-do has informed me that you are not counted among our Lady’s devoted. What brings you to our humble shrine?”

“We became stranded here after traveling through the Deadlands,” Kjestrid began.

A hiss and the rattle of talons sounded out in the corridor. The winged twilight. Skin crawled along Jerric’s neck.

Kjestrid quickly continued. “We entered through a Gate that had opened in County Bruma with the intent to close it. We are a patrol from the Fighters Guild. It was our good fortune that we have in our company Jerric Lionheart: Gate-Closer, Ice-Bringer, and Hero of Kvatch.”

The priestess turned her golden gaze on Jerric. “You are the one from Kvatch?”

Jerric stifled the urge to smack Kjestrid. “Yes, Your Excellency. I’m Jerric. Pleased to meet you.”

The priestess closed her eyes. For several moments the only sounds were the asthmatic hiss of the winged twilight’s breathing and the distant slow sweep of a broom.

“You have brought evil to this sacred place,” Ra’tayah said. “I sense it.”

Jerric’s mind was a blank.

“The sigil stone,” Nereli murmured. “I told you you should give it to the Redoran.”

“Oh! Uh, yeah. Yes, ma’am, your Reverend Mother. I have one of Mehrunes Dagon’s sigil stones.”

Ra’tayah opened her eyes to slits. “Why have you retained possession of it?”

“What do you mean? Ma’am?”

“Your Excellency,” Shamir-do hissed at him.

“She called you Gate-Closer,” said Ra’tayah. “I infer that you have closed at least one Gate before the one that brought you to Morrowind. What have you done with the other stones?”

“I’ve used a few. They hold powerful enchantments, better than any I could have made.”

Their guide drew in a shocked breath.

Jerric tried to remember what Darnand had said about them. “I’m no daedric scholar, Reverend Mother. What am I supposed to do with them?”

The priestess spoke in an icy tone. “Those sigil stones hold the power of a thousand captive souls. The ‘enchantments’ to which you refer are their imprints. You have noticed that they differ from one another? Those are the traces of lives lived and knowledge gained, all stolen by the foul minions of Mehrunes Dagon.”

“Oh,” said Jerric.

“Their spirits are now trapped, unable to reach the afterlives. You have used their soul energy to charm your trinkets. They pay the price, forever lost.”

Jerric’s stomach heaved. “I didn’t know. What can I do for them? Is there a way I can fix this?”

Ra’tayah rose to her feet, causing Nereli, Shamir-do, and their guide to quickly stand. “I will not have you bring the cursed thing into the Sanctum. Take me to your belongings.”

Jerric scrambled up and led the way to his pack. The sigil stone hummed against his palm when he withdrew it.

“Come, acolyte,” Ra’tayah said to the grey Khajiit, “And you, bring it. The others remain here.” The priestess strode down a side passage, hair beads clinking against her diadem.

Jerric followed Ra’tayah’s perfume trail into a small, dark chamber. As the acolyte closed the door, Ra’tayah flicked a shower of pink sparks from her palm. They floated up to the ceiling and hung there, lighting the space.

“To release the souls, you must destroy the sigil stone.”

“All right.” Jerric raised it over his head to dash it against the floor.

“No! With your will. You say you have used one to enchant an object. The process is the same. Simply intend its destruction.”

If he thought about it, he would never get it right. Jerric pushed the sigil stone with his mind. It dissolved as the others had, only this time instead of a flash of power through his body, a bluish cloud emerged from the shimmering dust. The cloud expanded outward and dissipated like a puff of breath in winter.

The priestess let out a long sigh, echoed by her acolyte. “It is done.”

“What happens now?” Jerric asked.

“The lost spirits will reclaim their souls, if they are able. Then they will have the strength to move on.”

“To Aetherius?”

“Some will enter the Dreamsleeve and separate, each spirit called to its Aetherial home while the souls are reborn in the Mundus. Others will travel to their Prince’s realm.” The priestess placed fingerclaws against her chest. “When this body dies, my soul will carry me to Moonshadow. There I will remain Ra’tayah. My life will continue in a new vessel of Azura’s making.”

Jerric braced a hand against the wall. “I gotta say, that has some appeal.”

The priestess bowed her head in acknowledgment.

“What about the stones I used for their enchantments?” Jerric choked back some bile. “Are those folk forever lost now because of me?”

“Break the enchantments and release the souls.”

“All right. Can I do it here?”

“You may.”

“Uh. Do you have a hammer?”

Kjestrid still had his brass and pearl Life Detection ring. Soon it lay smashed on the stone tiles along with his broken Blades helm, his splintered soul trapping dagger, and the shards of Redeemer.

The Blades katana refused to crack. Jerric knelt with it braced across his knees, sweat and tears stinging his eyes. “I’m going to need a smith to help me with this one. Wait, my dagger’s enchantment wasn’t fully charged. Did I just kill more souls?”

“I do not have all of the answers, Jerric of Kvatch.” When Ra’tayah left the room, her little lights remained on the ceiling.

Kjestrid had brought the ring. She looked paler than usual. “I am sorry for… this,” she said to Jerric.

“You didn’t do anything. It’s a mess of my own making.”

“I know.” She placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “I’m just sorry about it.”

“I’m going to be sorry when I don’t have a weapon left. Damn it all, Darnand’s ring! He’s not going to be happy when I tell him to break it.” Jerric rested his chin on Kjestrid’s hand. “I should go ahead and do it.”

“Wait until we finish here. Then you’ll have more to say.”

“I might have damned someone I knew. All of them could have been made after Kvatch.” Jerric gathered his broken pieces. “I wonder what Azura uses to make her sigil stones.”

“Probably volunteers.”

Seated back in the Sanctum, Kjestrid picked up the thread of their discussion. “Reverend Mother, we have learned that Azura has offered shelter in Moonshadow to her devoted.” She gave Shamir-do a nod.

“This one has received an invitation to Azura’s realm,” said Shamir-do. “His devotions have been found adequate. However, in this life Khajiit will not abandon his friends. Shamir awaits Azura’s decision.”

“I’m going,” said Nereli.

Kjestrid addressed the priestess. “Your Excellency, we wish to return to County Bruma and take up the fight against Mehrunes Dagon and his cult. It would help us to travel through Moonshadow to Azura’s Shrine Gate in County Cheydinhal from a portal you open here. The Shrine Gate on Azura’s Coast is too far for our needs. We need a shorter journey.”

“I see,” said the priestess. “I will go into seclusion. Azura welcomes mortals to her realm, but there is always a price.”

Kjestrid got to her feet. “Yes, Reverend Mother. There always is.”

The acolyte led them back down the central corridor and into a side chamber. Low, round tables surrounded by floor cushions filled the middle of the space. Ornate screens stood around the edges. The acolyte moved through the room lighting incense and fluffing pillows.

When the winged twilight stalked in, the acolyte folded her hands in a formal manner. “This is Dozara. Please stay here with her until you are summoned. Khajiit will send Renlys to see to your comfort.”

“What’s your name?” Jerric asked.

The acolyte paused at the door. “This one is called Ma’sani.”

“Thanks, Ma’sani. Pleased to meet you.”

Dozara’s eyes were an opaque red-violet. She wore her hair in a high ponytail that fell to her shoulder. It was purple. With feet like those, Jerric doubted that she needed weapons.

“I’m Jerric.”

Dozara’s voice sounded perfectly normal. “So I have heard.”

“Pleased to meet you. Are you from Moonshadow? I mean originally.”

Kjestrid kneed the side of his leg.

“What?” said Jerric.

Renlys turned out to be the orange-robed Dunmeri lad. He came in with a tray, knelt beside a table, unloaded a bunch of plates and bowls, then left.

This was a welcome distraction. Jerric, Shamir-do, and Nereli sat around the table. After a moment Kjestrid joined them.

Renlys returned almost immediately with a coral-colored wine. The goblets looked like they had been made from seashells. The four made a silent toast.

“Tastes like apricots,” Jerric said. His stomach settled.

“It is made from loquats,” Renlys told him.

“What’s a loquat?”

“It is a fruit that tastes like apricots.”

Shamir-do reached into the middle of the table and helped himself to the food.

Jerric took that as an invitation and followed suit. The first thing he picked up looked like a thumb-sized roach carcass stripped of antennae and legs, green nuts pressed into the white mush oozing out of its middle. He popped it into his mouth whole and chewed. “Hmm. It’s sweet.”

“Is it a bug?” asked Kjestrid.

“Nope. It’s a date stuffed with whipped cheese and some kind of nuts.”

Kjestrid filled her hand with them. “What kind of cheese?”

Nereli started to answer, but Jerric interrupted. “The sweet kind.” He shot a look at Renlys.

The Dunmer kept his mouth straight, but his cheeks lifted with a hint of amusement.

While he sucked bits of date out of his teeth, Jerric looked over the rest of the food. Most of it was unidentifiable. All of it was bite-sized to a Bosmer with no obvious rinds or bones protruding, so he dug in. The meatballs were spiced with cloves and nutmeg. Saltrice patties had been rolled in some kind of tiny eggs that stuck to his fingers. He decided that while he could do without chairs, plates, and utensils, it would take some practice before he didn’t need a napkin.

There was still some food left when Ma’sani appeared in the doorway. She dipped at the knees and moved an arm in the now familiar gesture. “Follow Ma’sani, if you please. The Reverend Mother will relay to you Azura’s decision.”




.


This post has been edited by Grits: Apr 30 2019, 01:00 PM


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Acadian
post Apr 30 2019, 04:45 PM
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Well, that got off to a poor start – sigil stones. . . who knew? It is good that Jerric was able to undo the damage the Reverand Mother told him about and that they were still able to receive an audience to ask for help.

A price? No surprise there and am looking forward to hearing of it.

Loved your descriptions, including the winged twilights. A fun episode, replete with good eats!


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ghastley
post Apr 30 2019, 06:15 PM
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This kind of meshes with a view of "soul trapping" that would make any enchantment distasteful to the Reverend Mother. A Sigil stone is just a multi-occupant soul gem, the way it's described here. So does Jerric now have to start releasing the individuals from any other items at Grand level?

And I didn't understand why Jerric is trying to destroy the physical items he enchanted, rather than just disenchanting them in the way you do in Skyrim - except that he doesn't have the apparatus for that, either.

Liked the way Jerric avoided giving Kjestrid any idea what she was eating. The old Jerric would have suggested it was bugs, and asked her if he could have hers, if she wasn't going to eat it. tongue.gif


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SubRosa
post Apr 30 2019, 09:46 PM
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The flowered bowl and the rose colored light were nice touches for the Mistress of Twilight's hangout.

Their guide led them down a curving corridor lined with doorways and various objects that Jerric guessed must be art.
I sometimes have this problem too!

I liked the Winged Twilight in the corridor.

The sigil stones work just like soul gems then. I always thought Bethesda's way of enchanting by devouring/destroying souls are rather vile, to say the least. I guess it says something about Todd Howard...

That was a wonderful description of the Azurite feast, it brought me into the same room with them. Definitely a step up from the hot dogs I had for lunch.


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Renee
post May 3 2019, 05:51 PM
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QUOTE
Their guide led them down a curving corridor lined with doorways and various objects that Jerric guessed must be art.


That had me giggling, "guessed must be art."

Jerric decides he'll just let Kjestred do the talking. laugh.gif Cute. What is Kjestrid, by the way? Nord? Breton? ... Khajiit?



QUOTE
It was our good fortune that we have in our company Jerric Lionheart: Gate-Closer, Ice-Bringer, and Hero of Kvatch.”

The priestess turned her golden gaze on Jerric. “You are the one from Kvatch?”

Jerric stifled the urge to smack Kjestrid.


Hee hee awesome.


QUOTE
What am I supposed to do with them?”

The priestess spoke in an icy tone. “Those sigil stones hold the power of a thousand captive souls. The ‘enchantments’ to which you refer are their imprints. You have noticed that they differ from one another? Those are the traces of lives lived and knowledge gained, all stolen by the foul minions of Mehrunes Dagon.”

“Oh,” said Jerric.


Sorry I keep quoting, but I'm laughing during this episode for some reason! Jerric is a hoot. I mean, it's a serious moment for sure, they're talking about souls trapped and how to release them. Jerric cracks me up though.

He really ate a roach? Yuck.

This post has been edited by Renee: May 3 2019, 06:08 PM
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mALX
post May 3 2019, 08:59 PM
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QUOTE(Grits @ Jan 1 2019, 09:45 AM) *

.

Chapter 17: Bruma, Part Twelve


They left the blowing salj behind and climbed through the pass to a high plain of grey ice.


The word you put in Italics here = I couldn't find a definition for it anywhere. Can you give me one so I can picture what you are saying here?

I think my favorite part of this chapter is Jerric trying to explain how to bring the gate down to his group! This was pure gold!

Second favorite part:

QUOTE

“Frost or frost magic?” Kjestrid asked.

Jerric blinked at her. “You make a good point. I don’t know.”

“It is said that the Hero of Kvatch ate the hearts of his enemies to give him power,” said Shamir-do.

Jerric pointed his apple at the Khajiit. “Savlian Matius does not eat people.”

Kjestrid snorted. “We all know who they’re talking about.”

“You’ll get to hear your own names whispered when we get back,” Jerric said. “I hope you don’t have to eat any hearts before this is over.” He tucked the apple core into his pack, reluctant to leave anything of home in this realm.


LOVE how Jerric thought of Matias as the Hero of Kvatch; and that whole discussion about eating the Daedric hearts and drinking the blood! Also, how Jerric pointed out that people would be referring to all of them as heroes when they emerged from this gate.

And = as painful as that was = I remember one lesson that Jerric taught here:

QUOTE

"There is nothing we can do for anyone here except close the Gate so they don’t get company.”


Excellent that you added that! That was a superb addition = really showing us what Jerric went through and faced in those gates that made him return to Anvil a shell of his former self!

I finally was able to get another trial reader to use; so am trying to catch up!







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post Jul 11 2019, 03:38 PM
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Previously: Jerric, Kjestrid, Shamir-do, and Nereli met with the Reverend Mother Ra’tayah at a shrine to Azura near Blacklight. In the Imperial City, Darnand and Baurus acquired Volume 4 of Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes.


Acadian: Whoever has to wash Jerric’s robe will regret giving him finger food. The stuffed dates were courtesy of my favorite Lebanese restaurant. I’ve had them twice since I posted this section. tongue.gif Thank you, Acadian!

ghastley: Back in Chapter 10 Morvayn told Jerric that his Kvatch Cuirass was so damaged that the enchantment had broken, so Ra’tayah’s instruction made sense to him. I wonder if a Skyrim enchanting altar would work on an Oblivion sigil stone-enchanted object? I think you need a mod to disenchant Daedric artifacts in Skyrim. Probably to prevent the re-use of unique enchantments. Thank you for pointing out Jerric’s evolving view of Kjestrid.

SubRosa: Jerric’s world has differing views of what souls are for and what they do, but he’s learning that using any of them for his own purpose is questionable at best. A large part of him would prefer to go back to the days when he tired himself out defending regular folks and their luggage, had a bit of fun before passing out, and didn’t think about yesterday. Too bad! Thank you, SubRosa!

Renee: Kjestrid is a Nord. She’s from County Bruma but still steeped in Skyrim culture, unlike Jerric. That’s part of why he’s often a bit confused by her. He ate a stuffed date that looked like a roach. It was inspired by the dessert case at a local counter-service restaurant. I was waiting in line one day and thought, wow, those dates are huge and look just like disemboweled insects. Heh heh, I know who would eat one… biggrin.gif Thank you, Renee!

mALX: Salj is a made-up word that means granular snow. Sorry, now I realize I haven’t updated the Darnandex. Thank you for pointing out those things about how the Gate brought Jerric back to his core purpose. He loves to distract himself. I’m glad you found a way to read again! Thank you, mALX!


Next: Where Tower Touches Midday Sun.

.

Chapter 18: The Path of Dawn, Part Eight




Morning mist lingered over Lake Rumare as Darnand crossed the bridge to the Arcane University. The entry court with its sunken garden was guarded but otherwise empty of mages. He had not considered that the hour which suited his plans might not suit Tar-Meena’s. The University’s message system did not extend to private quarters.

The Arch-Mage’s Lobby was dimly lit and quiet. One mage drowsed behind the reception counter, while another hunched over a notebook. To his surprise, Lildereth sat on a bench beside an Argonian woman. The elf had already left their room by the time he had awakened. He had expected her to find him at the White-Gold Tower. As she had changed their plan, he would have to trust her to guide him.

“Here he is,” Lildereth sang out. “Tar-Meena, please meet Darnand.”

Once Darnand and Tar-Meena had exchanged pleasantries, he retrieved the Commentaries from his shoulder bag.

“Ah!” Tar-Meena took the books without touching them with her claws. “The third volume!”

“As promised,” said Darnand.

Tar-Meena’s eyes held the glint of a guar-trader. “Not quite. Jerric promised me all four volumes. I took a grave risk giving the library’s Volume Two into his care. And I note that this is not the book that I lent to him.”

“Our associate and I retrieved these copies directly from a cult hideout,” Darnand said. “I thought you would relish the opportunity to examine them and observe any differences.”

“I do. However, a side-by-side comparison—”

“We still need them, my friend,” Lildereth said to Tar-Meena. “When the Nord is finished they will all be yours, including the final volume. He is a human of his word.”

“Which associate invaded the hideout with you?” Tar-Meena asked Darnand, bouncing up on her toes. “Jerric or Baurus?”

While Lildereth let out a silent laugh, Darnand fought to keep from palming his face.

Tar-Meena’s eyes opened wide in exaggerated comprehension. She placed a raised finger over the front of her snout.

Conscious of time passing, Darnand folded his hands in a respectful gesture. “Thank you, Master-Wizard. May we continue to count on your support?”

“Oh yes! I am most curious about the location of the hidden shrine. Do let me know when you find the Mythic Dawn!” Tar-Meena gave them a finger wave and turned toward the inner doors, tail conveying her excitement over an obscure text to devour.

Darnand bent to murmur into Lildereth’s ear. “The town criers, the Black Horse Courier, and Tar-Meena.”

“Isn’t she marvelous?” Lildereth giggled. “It’s too serious to be funny, but I can’t help it. How in all the worlds did she gain that Redguard’s confidence?”

“Utter guilelessness, I should think.” Darnand opened the outer door and bowed Lildereth through. He maintained his deferential posture as a lower-ranking mage while they remained within sight of the University. As they walked he watched for her cue to resume their guise as a married couple. Eventually she took his arm.

“I was surprised to see you at the University,” Darnand ventured.

“I used you as an excuse to be there. I knew you’d need to send a message and then wait for Tar-Meena, so I went and got her for you.”

“I see. What was your true purpose?”

Lildereth patted her satchel. “Getting my stones back.”

“Your stones… You cannot mean the Welkynd stones? Did you not trade them to Master Floria as payment for Master Illusion training? Do you mean to suggest that you are carrying them all on your person? You must have been born under the Warrior.”

“I can, I did, I do, and I wasn’t.”

They walked a full block without her explaining further.

“Lildereth. Please enlighten me.”

She shot him an unfathomable look. “This is one of those things that I should have told you about. And now you’re going to be annoyed.”

“You posses a burglar’s bag!”

“By the Green! Why don’t you speak up so that all of the guards can hear you? I was right not to mention it.”

Darnand made an effort to keep his voice even. “When I recall the number of occasions on which we left items behind due to their size and weight—”

“Oh, you’re entitled to pack your stuff in my bags?”

“That is not my meaning. It is a matter of trust. In this I now learn that we are unequal. I follow your lead without recrimination when you change the plan. I have placed my life in your hands, even coupled with you, yet you have so little confidence in me that you conceal the enchantments upon your luggage?”

Lildereth halted, one hand on hip and the other pointed at his face. “First, that was only once—”

“Twice.”

“It was one occasion, and second, I knew you’d suspect all kind of negative things about me if you knew I had it, and I was right because it’s called a load lightener not a burglar’s bag, and—”

“Does it not presently hold at least ten stolen Welkynd stones?”

“That’s irrelevant.”

“How does it work?”

“Like a burglar’s bag.” Lildereth seemed to wilt. “Well, now you know.” She took his arm and resumed their stroll.

“My friend, what has occurred?”

“You asked me not to bring it up again which I wouldn’t have done anyway, and then you did and not in a nice way.”

“No, I meant— I am sorry. It is my failing that I should compound the awkwardness between us.”

“I thought we were through with the awkwardness. Unless you’re in the grip of some new disappointment.” She gave him a narrow look. “Did you expect to sleep with me while we were here alone?”

“No. Please put that from your mind. It was wrong of me to raise the subject, and doubly so in such a churlish manner. Perhaps my ineptitude in emotionally charged moments has not escaped your notice.”

“I can’t do the Master level spells,” she said, ending that discussion.

“Oh. Lildereth, I am sorry.”

They walked in silence for a time.

“You cannot learn them, or you cannot cast them?” Darnand asked.

“Can’t cast. I know my people’s magic the way my heart knows to keep beating, but I’ve had to work hard for the rest. Harder than you, and harder than any Nord born under the Atronach, I’d wager. My stars didn’t make me a mage. Study and practice did. But that’s not enough.”

“I cannot cast Volanaro’s Mischievous Concealment spell, despite being blessed by the Apprentice,” Darnand offered.

“Blessed and cursed. He really should come up with a better name.”

“Indeed.” Darnand decided to risk a personal question. “What stars marked your birth?"

“The Steed,” Lildereth murmured.

“That resolves many mysteries. I simply assumed that you were fast.”

Lildereth gave him a crooked smile. “I am fast.”

“Regarding your Master spells, have you considered a strong potion and an enchanted—”

‘Darnand.’

He placed his hand over Lildereth’s. “Hold a moment. It is Jerric.”

“I’ll keep you from stumbling, if you trust me.”

There was no acceptable reply but to keep walking. ‘I hear you. Lildereth and I have given three volumes to Tar-Meena, as you promised. We have embarked upon our midday stroll in Green Emperor Way.’

‘Good idea to bring the elf with you. She’ll make you look normal.’

‘What news from Morrowind?’

‘We’re going through Moonshadow. Azura has a task for us in County Cheydinhal. She wants to meet us in person first. Any advice?’

‘I only heard the voice of Meridia in the course of our exchanges. I confess I am quite out of my depth in this matter. Do your best not to stare, no matter what form Azura presents to you.’

‘That’ll be hard if she looks like her statue. Listen, you’re not going to like this. You have to break the enchantment I put on your signet ring.’

‘Please explain.’

‘It’s the souls that were in the sigil stone. You have to release them. I’ll tell you all she said when I see you. Darnand, I’m sorry. You have to do it.’

‘Who—’

‘Dammit, I have to go. There’s a whole bunch of folk here waiting to go through.’

‘What sort of portal… Nord?’ He was gone.

“We’re here,” said Lildereth. She tugged on his robe as if straightening it across his chest.

“Thank you, my dear ‘wife.’ It is pleasant to perambulate among the,” Darnand glanced around, “tombs, is it not?”

Lildereth snorted. “If someone’s listening, we’re already sunk. Just try to look like a tourist and don’t do anything memorable. What’s happening with the Nord?”

Darnand filled her in as they strolled. Once Magnus reached the tip of the White-Gold Tower, they followed the foreshortened shadow. Lildereth’s knuckles were ivory against her brown hand on his arm. He recalled that she did not like unfamiliar magics.

No words from him would sooth her. He stepped off the main path’s paving stones and onto the grass.

Here most of the graves were contained inside mausoleums. Darnand led Lildereth slowly between the structures, keeping his eyes moving for the sign. Despite the ease with which he had cracked the Mythic Dawn’s code, a nervous flutter troubled his stomach. Perhaps he had missed something.

“Do you think you missed something?” Lildereth whispered.

“In only a few moments more, we will know.”

Red light flared from the shadowed side of a nearby tomb. As he stepped eagerly toward it, Lildereth yanked on his arm.

“Ah, come to see the Midday Miracle?” a woman’s voice sounded behind them.



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Jerric's Story * Darnandex * Morning Star Screenshot: Cyrodiil Meadow
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ghastley
post Jul 11 2019, 05:27 PM
Post #1116


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QUOTE
Do your best not to stare, no matter what form Azura presents to you.’


Clark is offering lessons


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Mods for Oblivion and now Daggerfall and Skyrim. Fan fiction, too.
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Acadian
post Jul 11 2019, 07:54 PM
Post #1117


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From: Las Vegas



“I can, I did, I do, and I wasn’t.” laugh.gif

Yikes, Darnand! Bringing up your intimate session with Lil during an argument was a really bad idea. Oh, I see Lil didn’t waste much time informing you of that. wink.gif

Interesting conversation about birthsign/race and magic aptitude.

Ahah, another telephone telepath call from Jerric.

As the noon’s sun begins to do its thing, you leave us with the sudden salutation of a mystery woman – can’t wait to find out who she is!


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treydog
post Jul 14 2019, 02:56 AM
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From: The Smoky Mountains



Hooray for more Jerric and Co.! Let's get right to the good stuff! Well- that would be all of it, but... some selected morsels....

I completely agree that the player character should have reason to be afraid of Baurus. “You say you were there when the Emperor was assassinated? Tell me more.”

Oh my, Nereli is a treasure, although I imagine Jerric doesn't think so.

QUOTE
Kjestrid began to undress. “Keep your drawers on,” she mouthed at Jerric. She pointed at her undergarments and shook her head to illustrate.


Ah- good to know he has started wearing those....

Absolutely enthralled by the description of the shrine (and furiously taking notes).

And the fact that the sigil stones are- an abomination- makes absolute sense, especially when you think about the spires and Dagon and etc.

The sacrifice of the enchanted items- and the fact that he does it so quickly- tells us just how great a soul Jerric possesses. He is a hero in truth.

Have to laugh at Kjestrid being concerned that Jerric might be... chatting up... Dozara. Of course, with Jerric, it pays to be cautious....
QUOTE

“Tastes like apricots,” Jerric said. His stomach settled.

“It is made from loquats,” Renlys told him.

“What’s a loquat?”

“It is a fruit that tastes like apricots.”


That exchange caused me to spray my tea onto the keyboard.

QUOTE
You posses a burglar’s bag!”

“By the Green! Why don’t you speak up so that all of the guards can hear you? I was right not to mention it.”


laugh.gif

QUOTE
“It was one occasion, and second, I knew you’d suspect all kind of negative things about me if you knew I had it, and I was right because it’s called a load lightener not a burglar’s bag, and—”

“Does it not presently hold at least ten stolen Welkynd stones?”

“That’s irrelevant.”

“How does it work?”

“Like a burglar’s bag.” Lildereth seemed to wilt.


Just perfect!

QUOTE
Perhaps he had missed something.

“Do you think you missed something?” Lildereth whispered.


They do the "married couple" so well....


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SubRosa
post Jul 15 2019, 01:43 PM
Post #1119


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From: Between The Worlds



Trust Lil to get a jump on things.

It was a nice touch how you included Tar-Meena's excitement being shown by her tail. Still, methinks she might not be secret agent material...

I always knew Lil had stones... wink.gif

And Darnand takes a page from Tar-Meena's book of keeping secrets by announcing that Lil has a bag of holding.

It is definitely hard not to stare at Azura's statue.

Of course Darnand did not miss anything! Time for the midday miracle!


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haute ecole rider
post Jul 15 2019, 01:55 PM
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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



QUOTE(SubRosa @ Jul 15 2019, 07:43 AM) *

It is definitely hard not to stare at Azura's statue.


No matter what game you're playing tongue.gif

As others have already said, i really enjoyed the bickering between Dar and Lil - the dialogue really captures their relationship in a way that exceeds mere description.


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