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> I am Lena Wolf, Lena's life as it happens
Lena Wolf
post Sep 13 2021, 08:51 AM
Post #241


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From: Bravil



7 Last Seed, 4E202 - Nightingales

"Come with me, Nightingale" - Lucien appeared next to Lena as she came out of the Arcane University lobby.

"How did you know I'd be here?" - she gasped at him.

"Arch Mage Traven practically put out a bounty on your head" - he grinned. "He's been searching for you through the Guild channels, and we do have a few Brothers among the mages. So I knew you were on your way here from Leyawiin."

"And you loitered in the garden waiting for me" - Lena grinned at the mental picture of Lucien loitering.

"Cloaked, yes" - he smiled.

"All right, Agent of Stealth, let's go."

Lucien led her to his bolthole in the sewers under Arboretum - "Lucien's Arboretum Underground Apartment", as Lena took to calling it.

"Here - this is for you" - Lucien gave her a package when they were inside. "Now that Nocturnal wants her influence re-established, we should dress the part."

It was only now that Lena realised what was different about Lucien - his robes. Still black, still unassuming and resembling mage robes, but now complemented by dark brown embossed leather rather than plain black, and with deep sanguine trim.

"Throwing knives" - Lena pointed at the top of Lucien's boot. "Finally an alternative to the bow."

"Well, I've had them for a while already" - he smiled. "But you need to learn to use them first. There are throwing stars, too - try A Fighting Chance in the Market District. There's a lot more to Rohssan than meets the eye" - Lucien winked. "There's an additional knife pocket belt to go over the robes as well, but I find it too obvious."

Lena was trying on her new gear.

IPB Image

"And the enchantment? It feels the same."

"It is the same" - Lucien nodded. "The same as the Black Hand robes, and reinforced with the hood."

"So, still no shield enchantment" - Lena mused, slightly disappointed. It was clothes, not armour.

"You should be skilled enough not to get hit, if you are wearing this" - Lucien smiled. "Doesn't always work, of course, but there are other ways to shield yourself."

"Ok, Ok, I'm not complaining" - Lena grinned. "Who should we recruit as the third Nightingale?"

"We?" - Lucien raised an eyebrow. "That's your job - Nocturnal gave this task to you personally. It's your call."

"But I thought because you've been her agent for a while already..." - Lena started.

"No-no, it doesn't work like that" - Lucien shook his head. "This falls outside the Dark Brotherhood hierarchy, so we are equal on this level, as will be the third person. You don't have to recruit from the Brotherhood either."

"So..." - Lena started to understand how this worked. "You never said anything because it wasn't up to you to bring Nocturnal's influence into the Brotherhood - I am to do it, as well as to rebuild the Halls and to recruit the third person. While you..."

"I have my own tasks" - Lucien smiled. "You will learn of them in time, such are Nocturnal's wishes."

...

They sat down for dinner, and Lena told Lucien about her conversation with Corvus Umbranox and a pile of Thieves Guild "requests" that she had found in his desk. They had no interest in any of them, except the one from Rayenna.

"So it wasn't the Thieves Guild who revealed the location of Deepscorn Hollow to Rayenna" - Lucien pointed out. "Hauk thinks it was Mephala, and I tend to agree with him. Which means we should be watchful."

"But she is still a member of the Brotherhood, isn't she?" - Lena looked up. "With one of the Sanctuaries?"

"She is still in Anvil, yes" - Lucien nodded. "Sa'sinar wanted to keep an eye on her, and who could blame him. Although it wasn't his fault, a Silencer's actions always do reflect on the Speaker - after all, she was his choice." He paused. "Anyway, Umbranox' abandoned house is ours - it's one of the terms of the contract. The Countess was only too glad to see it change ownership and to ensure that no Thieves Guild member would set foot into it again. Have you searched it?"

"I've searched Umbranox' room upstairs, but the downstairs area was boarded up, so I didn't look there" - Lena admitted. "Should I have?"

"It has a basement, according to the documents... Could be worth investigating."

Lena nodded, making a note in her journal.

"How have you been feeling lately?" - Lucien asked without changing the tone.

"What?" - Lena was surprised by the question. "How do you mean?"

IPB Image

"Exactly as I said it. Your health - how have you been feeling?"

"Fine" - Lena answered slowly, trying to figure out what Lucien was getting at. "The same as usual. Why do you ask?"

"Your pregnancy" - he took her hand, feeling her pulse, she noticed. "You do realise you are pregnant, don't you?"

"I..." - Lena gasped. No, she didn't realise it, yet. "No... How do you know if even I don't?"

"I noticed a couple of weeks ago, in Skingrad" - he smiled. "Dibella's training had been quite extensive, and I was young back then... I studied eagerly" - he smiled again. "I can sense things like that."

"You? A student of Dibella?" - Lena recalled that Dibella had granted Lucien a blessing just recently - in Skingrad, in fact.

"In my youth, yes, following my mother. I didn't need much convincing either, considering its nature."

"But then something changed... for you are not a Priest of Dibella."

"No, I didn't take any vows" - Lucien agreed. "Other tendencies became evident..." - he was looking into the distance, remembering. "Then I joined the Brotherhood and stopped going to the temple. But I still remember what I've learned." He looked at her with tenderness. "So, it has begun."

"But..." - Lena was still digesting these revelations, both of her pregnancy and of Lucien's ways of Dibella. "But I don't know..." - Lucien seemed certain, yet she didn't feel it yet. "How long have I been pregnant then?"

"Oh I could not tell that" - Lucien laughed. "I'm not a seer. Not that long, I should think, since it doesn't show yet - and you yourself haven't even noticed. But it will put extra strain on your health - which is why I brought it up. You need to be prepared - healing potions, food and blood, have it always with you."

"Blood?"

"In case you run into a wraith or something" - he smiled - "and your vampirism gets triggered again. You have read about that in your great-uncle's diaries, I hope?"

"I..." - Lena swallowed. "I have... But I ignored it at the time. Recessive Vampirism. I assumed it didn't apply to me, since I had taken the witch's cure. But it does, doesn't it? Of course, this is what Vicente meant, this is why I've been needing blood sometimes..."

"You need to avoid going hungry for too long" - Lucien looked serious. "Hungry for blood, I mean, when your vampirism relapses. I know it gives you powers in battle, but it's bad for the child."

Lena was thinking of Molag Bal telling her that her child would be a vampire... if she allowed him to turn her into a pure-blood. But she didn't. Would she still pass her infection to her child? She strained to remember what she had read in her great-uncle's diaries, but there was no mention of children there. She hoped the child would not be tainted.

Lucien watched Lena's sombre face, correctly deducing what she was thinking. He didn't know whether or not the child would carry vampirism, and he was not aware of anyone else possessing such knowledge, so they would have to wait and see. He got up, walked over to Lena and embraced her, crouching next to her chair.

"Don't worry about that" - he said in her ear. "We can deal with it. I love you."

--------------

Nightingale gear is based on DBAssassin.


--------------------
"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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Renee
post Sep 14 2021, 01:16 PM
Post #242


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From: Ellicott City, Maryland



Up to 40. I agree about the bow with the four enchantments...um... Shadowhunt. How the heck would somebody create such a thing? I think the implication is there were (or are) really powerful magic-users who could do so, and our character can't possibly achieve such a level of wizardry. bluewizardsmile.gif Not without mods!

She's hunting necromancers! emot-ninja1.gif And undead!

QUOTE
She was enjoying her new robes as well. It was clothing, so did not hamper magic, and although it did not provide any shielding


Also, repairing dents and dings from armor is not required with robes.

Ha, she pwned Shady Sam. indifferent.gif If you have Vile Lair (I think it's Vile Lair) in your game, there's another guy who says "psst" all the time, the one who stays in Weye's inn. I actually added some Conditions to his HELLO in the CS, which will hopefully make him only say this if one of my characters has a significant amount of Infamy. ph34r.gif

Off she goes to Cheydinhal. Done reading Page 2 today.

This post has been edited by Renee: Sep 14 2021, 01:17 PM
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Lena Wolf
post Sep 14 2021, 03:20 PM
Post #243


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QUOTE(Renee @ Sep 14 2021, 01:16 PM) *

Ha, she pwned Shady Sam. indifferent.gif If you have Vile Lair (I think it's Vile Lair) in your game, there's another guy who says "psst" all the time, the one who stays in Weye's inn. I actually added some Conditions to his HELLO in the CS, which will hopefully make him only say this if one of my characters has a significant amount of Infamy. ph34r.gif

Shady Sam is not dead. She only wanted his hood after all, so she knocked him out. However, it seems he decided to relocate somewhere safer - closer to the Morrowind border, I hear. We'll run into him at some point, I'm sure.

The other "pssst" trader is Rowley Eardwulf in Weye, from the Vile Lair DLC, yes. We run into him later too. emot-ninja1.gif See how I didn't say anything! biggrin.gif


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"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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Renee
post Sep 14 2021, 04:38 PM
Post #244


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Ah, I see. Yeah it is Rowley who gets on my nerves with his constant "psst" every time we pass. dry.gif
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Lena Wolf
post Sep 14 2021, 04:40 PM
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8-9 Last Seed, 4E202 - Rohssan - Old Crow Inn - Wolf's Borough

"Come with me, Sister" - Rohssan smiled at Lena when Lena enquired about throwing knives at the Fighting Chance. She led her to the basement of the shop that was set up as a training room and an armoury. "You might like this as well" - she handed Lena a shortsword of dull metal without shine. "This does not reflect light quite as much as most metals, and unlike ebony, it is effective on ethereal beings as well as corporeal. Wraiths and ghosts and such" - she clarified. "Of course your Honorblade does the trick as well, but it's quite heavy, whereas this sword..." - she handed it to Lena - "feel for yourself."

"Wow, fast and light like a... steel shortsword?" - Lena made a few thrusts at the dummy.

"Exactly" - Rohssan nodded. "The same make as your Shadowhunt."

Lena smiled recalling Garrus noting in awe that he'd never seen a steel bow take out a massive orc with two shots... Even without the enchantment, Shadowhunt wasn't just any bow.

"So... The Blade of Woe and the Sufferthorn have the same qualities, too" - she smiled at Rohssan. "Your work?"

"Some of it" - Rohssan smiled back. "But I am mostly a supplier. The Sufferthorns come from another smith - Elven metal is not my speciality. I work iron and steel, with ebony core or silver coating, where necessary."

"Worked to a dull finish so as not to reflect the light" - Lena turned the Assassin's shortsword in her hand - "and to be effective on ethereal beings. A coating."

"There's more to being a smith than just repairing your gear" - Rohssan grinned with satisfaction. "Those fine iron and steel swords that I offer to the general public - they have ebony cores with just a thin layer of iron or steel, so you get higher durability with a reduced weight. And they sharpen better, too."

"I still have a few of those" - Lena nodded. She looked through other weapons on display, noting that each had a "durable" version - with an ebony core, she realised.

...

"Traven wants me to 'supervise' a group of battlemages and storm Silorn" - Lena was telling Hauk over lunch at The Feed Bag. "He wants some special black soul gem that's supposed to be there - and he stressed repeatedly that all that mattered was that gem. I smell a rat" - she turned over her steak with suspicion.

"He will sacrifice the battlemages again" - nodded Hauk. "We should meet with Iver, this is exactly the sort of mission he was talking about."

"But you will come too, won't you?" - Lena looked at Hauk with a question.

"Of course I will" - he nodded. "It's bound to be a trap."

...

They found Iver training in the basement at the University - he already knew about the mission.

"I've been expecting you" - he smiled at Lena. "There will be three of us, but the others do not fully understand the danger yet, I'm afraid. But if you too are coming, Hauk, that will help."

Hauk gave him one of his famous looks - naturally, and Iver mirrored it exactly. Twins.

"We'll see you at Silorn then" - Iver concluded.

...

It was late afternoon but Lena and Hauk decided to get going towards Skingrad and Silorn and stay the night at an inn along the way.

"The Imperial City Council finally released the funds to build three new bridges over Lake Rumare" - Hauk was saying as they were walking to the stables to pick up the horses. "And it is amazing how quickly these things can get built once the payment is forthcoming" - he smirked. "Have you seen them? The new bridges?"

"I was surprised by the one at Fort Homestead, yes" - Lena nodded. "Suddenly I didn't have to cast waterwalking on Roach as we could just cross the lake over a bridge! Where are the other two?"

"Fort Urasek and Fort Caracus, more or less" - Hauk pointed East and North. "And a small bridge to connect the City Isle proper with the lighthouse."

"So that you can actually cross from the City Isle to the Waterfront without going through the City and the infamous tunnel!" - Lena said excitedly.

"Infamous?" - Hauk looked surprised. "It's just a tunnel."

"Yeah, well, it's got cells and guards asking questions" - Lena wrinkled her nose.

Hauk smirked but didn't say anything. They picked up their horses and crossed the Talos Bridge towards Weye, turning South aiming to take the Gold Road. They stopped at The Old Crow Inn just at that intersection.

...

"Mmm, you look like someone who doesn't mind getting her hands dirty!" - the innkeep smiled, looking over Lena's attire. "I need someone 'taking care of', if you catch my meaning" - she winked. There was usually only one way the Dunmer wanted things "taken care of".

"Yeah, I read you" - smiled Lena. "Who is it?"

"My ex-lover" - Ladonna looked angry and disgusted. "He left me - for an Orc!!"

Ouch, that must have hurt.

"You must kill him! And her! Kill them both!" - she exclaimed, completely unconcerned by the presence of an Imperial soldier in the inn. "I shall reward you well for your trouble!"

"Ok, I'll look into it" - Lena said making a note in her journal.

"Do more than just look!" - Ladonna urged her. Here was another scornful woman of the dangerous kind.

...

"Hauk, I am pregnant" - Lena dropped the bomb at dinner.

"Whaaa-?" - Hauk looked up from his mutton. "How long?"

"Not long, a couple of months, perhaps?" - Lena looked uncertain. "I can't even feel it yet."

"So... what are you going to do?"

"Err... carry it to term?" - Lena went red.

"That's not what I meant!" - Hauk focussed on Lena rather than on his thoughts. "I am not suggesting termination. I was wondering if you were going to pause adventuring for a while."

"No!" - Lena was indignant. "Whatever made you suggest that?! No!"

"Whoa - don't start breathing fire now!" - Hauk was taken aback by the intensity of Lena's reaction. "I was just... well, never mind" - he was going to say something, but then reconsidered. "Adventuring it is."

They didn't discuss it any further, but Lena noticed Hauk talking to the innkeep who was first shaking her head, but then nodded and brought out several strong healing potions that Hauk stashed in his pack. Lena sighed - was everyone going to treat her as an invalid now? And even worse - was she going to feel like an invalid in a few months' time?

9 Last Seed

"This is quite a nice area" - Hauk pointed at a high arched wall set across the Gold Road half way to Skingrad. "Wolf's Borough. Have you been here before?"

IPB Image

"I might have, but I don't remember" - Lena was looking around, not recognising any of it. "I don't think I've ever really rode along this stretch of the road - I would always take a shortcut through the wilderness."

"Then let's stop and look around" - Hauk steered his horse to a pasture, he clearly knew where he was going.

"You seem to be very familiar with this place" - Lena looked at him with suspicion.

"You could say that. This is where I grew up - we lived on a farm just behind that building" - he grinned at Lena's surprise.

"What?!" - she laughed. "And you never said anything?"

"It never came up."

Wolf's Borough stretched all the way from the Gold Road to Fort Vlastarus and had several shops, farms and towers. It was something between a farm and a town.

"What happened to the farm where you grew up?" - Lena asked as they walked around.

IPB Image

"After our parents died, we sold it, as neither Iver nor myself saw ourselves as farmers. The new owners have changed a lot of things around, it is barely recognisable. And no, we are not going to say hello." He looked at Lena just as she was about to suggest something with a look of mischief on her face.

"Oh" - she said with disappointment. "Well... But at least we should explore that fort." And she went right in, not giving Hauk an opportunity to protest.

----------------------

Throwing knives Oblivion, Throwing Stars aka Shurikens, Imperial City Bridges, The Xander Waterfront Bridge, The Old Crow Inn, HESU Wolf's Borough.


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"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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Lena Wolf
post Sep 15 2021, 12:28 PM
Post #246


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9-11 Last Seed, 4E202 - Fort Vlastarus - Silorn

"I am not sleeping on a slab!" - Lena was adamant. Fort Vlastarus housed a small group of vampires, and the only sleeping place was a slab. It was past midnight, and Lena had heavy wounds, so Hauk tried to convince her to spend the night at the fort - without much success.

"Your wounds need healing, you have to rest! It's either the slab or the floor - or one of these coffins" - he looked around.

"No, neither" - Lena shook her head again. "I bandaged up the worst of it - we ride to Skingrad."

10 Last Seed

It was 4 a.m. when they finally entered Lena's house in Skingrad.

"Well, now that we are here, we eat first" - Hauk said firmly. "Then sleep until you are recovered. Silorn can wait."

...

They got up well past midday, had a bite to eat and rode to Silorn nearby. The battlemages were already there.

"We asked for reinforcements, and Traven sent you? You are it?" - Thalfin looked over Lena with scepticism, completely ignoring Hauk - one Serck-Hanssen in the group was apparently already more than enough, thank you very much.

"Well, you'll have to do" - she said, resolved. "And Traven put you in charge as well - so let's hear your strategy" - she added with contempt. Perhaps therein lay the root of the problem.

The door to the ruin was magically sealed from the inside, so they had to wait for some of the necromancers to come out, thus unsealing it. Sure enough, three or four of them soon emerged, and were easily dispatched by the battlemages - Lena didn't even have a chance to unsheath her sword.

"Ok, that's done - now in you go" - Thalfin smiled slyly at Lena. "Go get that gem from some High Elf deep inside the ruin."

"What - are you not coming?" - Lena couldn't quite believe it, and Hauk and Iver exchanged glances.

"No, it's your mission now."

Gods preserve us from scornful women. Lena and Hauk entered Silorn looking for some High Elf with a gem...

...

Silorn was a straightforward Ayleid ruin with necromancers behind every pillar. They were a particularly angry sort, but none could withstand Lena's poisons and Hauk's Xivilae. The battlemages were more troublesome - Necromancer battlemages, that is, in full armour - but also they eventually succumbed. Lena was knocked out a few times and sustained serious injuries, yet they still didn't find any remarkable soul gems, so had to keep going further and further in.

"We could have done with the other battlemages now" - Hauk was saying with irritation battling two necromancers, their summons and a skeleton champion. "If it had been up to Iver, he would have come, I'm sure. But he doesn't like going against his orders."

"As no soldier should" - Lena agreed, battling her own bunch of enemies. "It was Thalfin's call. Ouch!" - a skeleton's battleaxe made contact with Lena's arm. Her strength was failing her, and she took a step back to drink a potion and cast a shielding spell. It only took a moment... but in that moment a wraith summonned by the necromancers hit her with a frost curse and Lena felt her blood freeze. Her vampirism got triggered.

IPB Image

"And now you pay!" - she attacked the wraith and the skeleton with renewed vigor, her strength returning - for now.

Falkar was not far away, they found him a few halls further on.

"Hello, old friend" - Lena said pleasantly, baring her fangs.

"You!" - Falkar's face contorted with rage. "You cheated - you should have never survived that well!"

"And now I'll cheat again" - Lena cast Vampire Seduction on him, momentarily confusing him into liking her too much to attack. Her clannfear rammed him before he could recover.

"You are a better mage than I thought" - Falkar whispered. "But Mannimarco is a better mage still - and a High Elf. You stand no chance against him, Breton - gem or no gem."

Falkar had an enormous gem in his pocket.

"This is what we came for" - Lena showed it to Hauk. "I wonder how a single gem can determine the fate of necromancy."

"I find it hard to believe, too" - nodded Hauk. "Traven is hiding something, we'll have to wait and see, I guess." He turned over the gem in his hand. "Well, let's go speak to the others."

11 Last Seed

It was 7 a.m. when they came out, and the sun was shining brightly in a clear sky. Lena started to smolder.

IPB Image

"Damned vampirism!" - Hauk noticed her burning skin. "Get back inside! Do you have blood?"

Yes, she had bottled blood, which she now drank, her vampirism receding.

"There will be still some residual sun damage for a while" - she told Hauk. "So don't panic - I'll cast some healing spells. It's good enough - let's go."

Hauk shook his head but followed. Lena was less worried about vampiric effects than he was, it appeared.

"Oh, you've got the gem!" - Thalfin looked at it in admiration. "Well, take it to Traven straight away, or all of this would have been for naught!"

"I think you are exaggerating" - Lena answered calmly. "But yes, we'll take the gem to Traven and see what he is going to do with it."

"See what I mean about varying attitudes" - Iver said to Lena quietly. "Some still think they've got a career with the Mages Guild" - he smirked, jerking his head towards Thalfin.

IPB Image

"Well, we haven't been dismissed from the Guild yet" - Merete joined the conversation. "And who knows how long Traven will remain the Arch Mage. Although frankly, a battlemage who can barely cast a flare, should not have been put in command here" - she jerked her head towards Thalfin as well. "But friends in high places work here too."

"Yes, she does seem very devoted to... you know" - Lena winked. "Was she hoping we'd be killed in there so that she could go in after a while and claim the gem for herself?"

"She said her concern was for us - but we are not so sure" - Merete winked back. "Come and see us at the University some time - we're mostly in the training rooms."

And with that they said their goodbyes, chuckling all the while at the fact that the three Nords among them were each far better mages than the Wood Elf that was supposed to be their leader.

...

"Skingrad and rest or straight on to the Imperial City?" - asked Hauk when he and Lena got to their horses.

"Let's ride while I still can" - Lena got into the saddle. "I want to get it over with."


--------------------
"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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Acadian
post Sep 17 2021, 07:06 PM
Post #247


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A fun but challenging romp through Silorn. That Thalfin sounds like a piece of. . . work. tongue.gif


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Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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Lena Wolf
post Sep 18 2021, 12:26 PM
Post #248


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QUOTE(Acadian @ Sep 17 2021, 07:06 PM) *

A fun but challenging romp through Silorn. That Thalfin sounds like a piece of. . . work. tongue.gif

Oh yes. And completely vanilla! ohmy.gif


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"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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Lena Wolf
post Sep 18 2021, 01:49 PM
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12-13 Last Seed, 4E202 - Arch Mage Traven - Echo Cave

"Ah, you have it. Good." Arch Mage Traven smiled at Lena as she handed over the extra large black soul gem that she got from Falkar. "Do you know what this is for?"

12 Last Seed

"For something of importance, I presume" - Lena smiled back. "Considering all the fighting we've done to get it."

"Indeed." Traven looked sad. "This gem is meant to house my own soul - or at least this was Mannimarco's plan. But the gem is here now - thank you" - he smiled at Lena. "I now stand a good chance to defeat Mannimarco. I am sorry to cut our meeting short - I should not keep him waiting." And with that he turned around and stepped onto the teleport to his quarters.

"Well..." - Lena said into the emptiness of the Council Chamber. "The Arch Mage is getting ready for battle."

She returned to the lobby where Raminus Polus was pacing nervously.

"What did he say?" - he exclaimed.

"He is going to fight Mannimarco, and that gem is going to help him somehow" - Lena said watching Raminus, but he seemed not to understand it either.

"He's going to fight him with that gem?" - he looked confused.

"I know - I don't get it either."

"He's going to the Echo Cave - that's where Mannimarco is residing, isn't it? You need to follow and see what happens. There isn't much of the Council of Mages left standing, but we need to know what is going on" - Raminus looked serious.

"I agree. Some secrets are not being shared with us" - Lena returned his look. "Even though I am not on the Council of course, but still."

"You may not be on the Council, but you are embroiled in this matter as much as anyone else, if not more" - Raminus objected. "He should have told you, but he didn't - I wonder why. I shall await your return - the future of the Mages Guild may well depend on what transpires."

Lena nodded goodbye and left the lobby, finding Hauk waiting outside.

"You should go on your own" - he said after she told him what she'd learned. "This is espionage rather than fighting, so go quietly. Stay out of line of fire, let them fight it out - this trap is not meant for you, so don't fall into it."

Lena agreed - this was a stealth mission. She would ride to Bruma and then wait at the Echo Cave for Arch Mage Traven to appear - she hoped she would arrive before him.

13 Last Seed

"I need to see him" - Lena was awakened by elevated voices. She dosed off in the bushes near Echo Cave.

"I am not supposed to let anyone in" - the doorman retorted. "You'd have to kill me to get the key!"

"That won't be a problem!" - exclaimed Hannibal Traven angrily discharging a powerful shock spell. After a short battle, the doorman lay dead, Traven got the key from his pocket and entered the cave. Lena followed.

IPB Image

This was a large cave system with many caverns and passages filled with necromancers and undead. But Arch Mage Traven walked right past them without being challenged.

IPB Image

"Ah, finally - here you are!" - a voice sounded from the depths of the final cave. Mannimarco.

"Indeed, we meet again" - Traven answered almost calmly. "But it is I who has the gem."

"For now" - Mannimarco retorted, casting a strange spell. Lena wasn't sure what it was exactly, but her legs felt weak even at that distance, and she backed off some more, staying out of line of fire.

Hannibal Traven did not seem to be affected by the strange spell which must have been some sort of command spell, Lena figured. He cast a spell of his own, green light of Illusion shooting towards Mannimarco.

"You cannot charm me, Traven!" - laughed Mannimarco. "Or whatever it was! Pah!"

More spells were being exchanged, but after a while both mages realised that they could not charm, command, control or paralyse one another, so they switched to Destruction magic, with Traven lacing it with Soul Trap spells.

"My soul will not be trapped!" - roared Mannimarco, literally shaking off the Soul Trap charm. "You will need to do better than that, but you can't!" - he laughed again, sending bolts of lightning at Traven.

Fire, frost and lightning filled the cave, as both mages went down to business. They must have been both absorbing most of it, for no one could have sustained that much damage. Then the magic changed - they switched to curses and health absorption, and their faces contorted with pain, as well as rage. They could not absorb much of that, it seemed. Still, they were evenly matched.

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They were fading fast now, and Traven resumed casting Soul Trap spells which Mannimarco could no longer shake off. Instead, he redoubled his efforts in Destruction aiming to kill Traven first and thus dispel the Soul Trap. This strategy worked, and soon Hannibal Traven succumbed to the shocks and burns and fell to the ground.

"Finally!" - Mannimarco was triumphant. He moved towards the other end of the cave where Traven's body lay, but he was exhausted himself, and his movements appeared jerky, his shoulders slumped.

"Oh no, you don't!" - a female voice cried from the entrance and a shock spell flew towards Mannimarco. "You won't leave this cave!"

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Caranya. She ran past Lena shooting spells at Mannimarco, who turned to her in surprise but responded with spells and a dagger of his own. He was far from dead yet. Lena took it as her clue to join the battle - she summoned a clannfear, who hesitated at first but then charged with a little extra encouragement.

"Let's see how you like silver" - Lena thought instinctively, knocking a silver arrow on her Shadowhunt. Caranya was already shooting powerful spells which Mannimarco was mostly absorbing - there was no point in doing the same.

"Ahhh!" - Mannimarco hissed when the arrow hit him. This was a strangely familiar sound, but it was not the time to ponder on that. Lena quickly knocked another arrow and fired, and got hit by a curse - Mannimarco was fast. Caranya used the moment to hit him with a curse of her own, which he absorbed.

"Damn that spell absorption" - thought Lena, summoning another clannfear. "I'll have to go close and personal." She cloaked in invisibility, unsheathed her Honorblade and circled Mannimarco from behind.

He heard her, but she hit him before he could react. He recoiled. She hit him again and again, not allowing him to recover. Caranya's spells started coming through, and clannfear's ramming was unbalancing Mannimarco even further. He levitated a foot above ground, cast a shield, very much like a... "No time to think about that!" - Lena reminded herself, focussing on her swordwork. Another lunge and thrust, and he threw his arms into the air and fell gently to the ground, floating like a feather on its way down.

Mannimarco was no more.

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This post has been edited by Lena Wolf: Sep 18 2021, 02:09 PM


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"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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Lena Wolf
post Sep 18 2021, 03:21 PM
Post #250


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Joined: 18-May 21
From: Bravil



13 Last Seed, 4E202 - Traven and Mannimarco

"And so both Hannibal Traven and Mannimarco are dead" - Caranya said, standing over their bodies. "As dead as they can be, anyway."

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Lena looked at Caranya with surprise. "As dead as they can be?"

"Well, neither of them was really alive, didn't you know?" - she smiled at Lena, knowing full well that Lena didn't know it. Lena gave her a look. "Oh Ok, of course you didn't know" - Caranya laughed. "It wasn't something that Hannibal Traven would advertise."

"But now you got my attention" - Lena tried not to sound too impatient. "Do tell."

"It all started a very long time ago, in the Second Era, when Mannimarco was a student with the Psijic Order. He took to Necromancy, you see, and eventually came up with a ritual that allowed him to transcend to lichdom without having to lie on a slab for five hundred years. It still took a long time, but he could remain 'alive' while he was actually transcending. He completed his transcendence some time ago, so he was technically a lich." She paused looking at his body - an elven body, not a skeletal shell of a lich.

"But he doesn't look like a lich - his body has flesh" - Lena objected.

"Indeed - flesh preservation was a part of it, a key part. He wanted to look alive, at least to some degree - he got the idea from vampires. You don't look undead when you are well-fed either" - she smiled at Lena. "Or when your vampirism is in remittance. Molag Bal's gift is a wonder indeed."

"He got his lichdom from Molag Bal?" - Lena's eyes widened.

"Partly" - Caranya nodded. "They had a deal of some sort - you can imagine what Molag Bal would have wanted."

"To take over Mundus" - Lena mused.

"Probably, something like that."

"And Hannibal Traven?" Lena knelt over the Arch Mage's body. He didn't look like a lich either.

"The same, really. He and Mannimarco used to be friends, a long time ago." Caranya paused. "Hannibal Traven is much older than he wanted people to believe - he is as old as Mannimarco. And he too was very interested in Necromancy back in the day, but I suppose you've figured that out."

"Yes" - Lena nodded. "But then he changed his mind."

"When you know a lot about something, you are entitled to a negative opinion" - Caranya looked at Traven's body with respect. "Yes, he changed his mind, but only after he had started his own transcendence ritual, just like Mannimarco. Hannibal Traven believed that he could still live among mortals once it was completed, and by its nature, the ritual could not be stopped."

"This explains his harsh stand on Necromancy" - Lena looked at Caranya with understanding. "And a certain disregard for the lives of mages he was sacrificing - mere mortal mages."

"He might not have meant it that way consciously, but it certainly was the result - many mages dead for the sake of this old rivalry" - Caranya said with regret. "He was too obsessed with his crusade, and it was this obsession that brought Mannimarco out of Coldharbour and into this world at this time."

"So... if they were both liches, will they rise again?" - Lena looked at Caranya with worry.

"You know the answer to that" - Caranya nodded. "Of course they will, for neither of them managed to capture the soul of the other in this gem." She picked up the contested extra large black soul gem from the ground. "I suppose Traven told you what the gem was for?"

"He said the gem was meant for his soul, yes" - Lena was remembering their conversation. "I understand now why a regular black soul gem would not suffice."

"Indeed - and that was your first clue. Why would the soul of a Breton mage - no matter how powerful - not fit into a regular black soul gem? Everyone else's does."

"How long have you known all this?" - Lena looked at Caranya searching. "You were on the Council of the Guild for a long time."

"Yes, I have known it for a long time. I was on the Council with the previous Arch Mage as well, and I respected Hannibal Traven for having his own opinion on a subject that he knew well. But I disagreed with the crusade and the sacrifice of the other mages in this war. Or with the ban on Necromancy - he should not have outlawed a whole school of magic just because he did not like where it could lead. The vast majority of practitioners of Necromancy could never even dream to venture as far as Traven did - they neither have the skill nor the ability. Most people just stop at summoning wraiths and making zombies."

"Well, it's over for now" - said Lena, looking at the bodies of Traven and Mannimarco again. "What should we do with them?"

"Leave them in this cave, it is as good a resting place as any" - Caranya looked around. "I'll seal the exit to this chamber. When they rise, they'll find a way out." She picked up the gem again. "We need to remove this gem from here though. You take it."

"Me? Why?" - Lena took the gem, surprised.

"Take it some place safe - may I suggest the Shivering Isles? Or one of Sanguine's islands? You are at home in both Realms, I understand" - Caranya's eyes twinkled. "But neither Traven nor Mannimarco are welcome there."

"How did you know?" - Lena grinned.

"I've seen you around" - Caranya winked complicitly. "But I've never reached your level of intimacy with either of the Princes."

They moved the bodies of Hannibal Traven and Mannimarco onto the slabs laying them there, but removing all weapons.

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Caranya sealed the exit behind them, then moved a rock in front of it too. "We don't want any casual adventurers being tempted to get in" - she winked at Lena.

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They said their goodbyes and went their separate ways, knowing full well that they'd meet again in the future. Lena stashed the infamous gem in her pack and set off for the Imperial City to inform Raminus Polus of the events in the Echo Cave. "'You don't look undead when your vampirism is in remission'" - Caranya's words echoed in her head. Was she still undead? But no, she was mortal again... And yet... a vampire could be extinguished, ending its immortality. So... what was the difference?

-----------------

I have tried to put these and previous events into the respective quests from the Mages Guild quest line. I cursed a lot. It sort of worked - enough to play it without resorting to console. But I realised that making quests is too difficult for my liking. indifferent.gif

This post has been edited by Lena Wolf: Sep 18 2021, 11:30 PM


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"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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Lena Wolf
post Sep 18 2021, 11:39 PM
Post #251


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Joined: 18-May 21
From: Bravil



14 Last Seed, 4E202 - Sanguine's island

Lena was on her way from Bruma to the Imperial City, but she was in no rush. The fight between Hannibal Traven and Mannimarco at the Echo Cave left her with many questions about the nature of mortality, and she felt uneasy about that. They were liches, and yet they were alive... like vampires... like herself, when she relapsed. But what about when her vampirism was in remission? Dylan considered her mortal, but was she, really? And what did it mean exactly - to be mortal? Considering that otherwise immortal vampires could still be extinguished to never rise again, where did it leave her?

She knew someone who could answer these questions - Molag Bal, since both vampirism and "living" lichdom were his creations. But Lena didn't want to talk to Molag Bal, she didn't trust him to be truthful - all he wanted was to convert her into a pure-blood vampire. The only Prince she really trusted was... Sanguine.

"Whom are we fighting today?" - Dessos answered Lena's summon. "I don't see any threats" - he looked at her quizzically.

"No, no fighting just now" - Lena smiled at him. "I need to talk to Sanguine, and he said I should ask you to pass him a message. Would you please? I'm on my way to the Imperial City and then Cheydinhal."

"I'll tell him" - smiled Dessos. "Is it urgent? He's busy as usual" - he grinned.

"Not urgent" - Lena grinned back. "Tell him to sober up first a bit - I need his advice. And... company" - she blushed.

"Oh he'd like that" - Dessos nodded. "He'll be in touch. Literally."

Sanguine was perhaps the only Daedric Prince who could appear in Mundus in person without being summoned - his "inconsequential" intentions earned him disdain from the Aedra who did not bother to ban him from Mundus as securely as they banned the other Princes. Mundus did not require protection from debauchery, it seemed. And so, when Lena stopped at the Roxey Inn, she found a dremora drinking inside.

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"You called?" - he grinned at her.

"Sanguine!" - she flew into his embrace. "Thank you for coming."

"You look worried. What is it?" Sanguine wasn't drunk.

"I... have questions" - Lena looked at him feeling uneasy. "Questions that Molag Bal knows the answers to, but I don't want to talk to him. I was hoping you might know some of the answers also."

"I see" - Sanguine nodded. "I can guess what it is about. We'll need privacy for that - you better come with me." And without releasing his embrace, he opened a portal and whisked Lena into it.

...

Sanguine really had lovely islands. The sun was about to rise over the water when they arrived. A bird of paradise was fluttering before their faces.

"Oh this is beautiful" - Lena sighed.

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"Would you like to see thee cave?" - asked Sanguine. "You adventurers like that sort of thing."

The cave had heaps of gold, gems, jewellery, weapons and armour, mostly female, Lena noticed. Some of it was laid out on top of sarcophagi. There were several old graves in front of the entrance.

"Old friends" - Sanguine smiled at Lena's question. "Some did not want to return to Mundus. There is always a place on one of the islands though. You can take anything you like - they won't mind."

But Lena didn't want to take anything. She found an ornate coffin on the upper level with a set of Black Hand robes inside. She laid her silver dagger on top.

Back outside they found themselves on a clearing with a campfire burning in the middle and pelts and cushions strewn around it. A low table was laden with food and wine. The air was filled with faint aromas of wild flowers, berries and mushrooms, birds were chirping in the canopy, the waves gently splashing against the shore... It was hard to imagine a more relaxing atmosphere.

"Come, tell me all about it" - Sanguine got comfortable by the fire, gesturing Lena to do the same.

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"It's about immortality..." - Lena started, looking into the flames. "As gifted by Molag Bal."

"Vampirism and living liches" - Sanguine nodded.

"Yes. Vampirism in particular" - Lena looked at him uneasily. "I am pregnant."

"Ah!" - Sanguine's expression cleared. "And you are worried about the fate of your child."

"I... Yes, I suppose this is it" - Lena suddenly realised the real reason for all these questions. "Molag Bal told me that if I let him turn me into a pure-blood, my child would be a pure-blood too - but of course I have no intention of doing that. He didn't say however what happens if I refuse."

"Then you remain an ex-vampire, of course" - Sanguine raised an eyebrow. "With your Recessive Vampirism."

"And my child?"

"That depends." Sanguine tried to remember something. "But mostly the child should be unaffected."

"Mostly?" - that made Lena worry. "Mostly" wasn't good enough.

"I don't know exactly" - Sanguine admitted. "I don't think anyone does - not even Molag Bal himself. Common Vampirism is a disease, he didn't actually create it - he created the pure-bloods, and they spread it further. It changed, it evolved. It diverged into many strains, as you know. It became unpredictable."

"What about pure-blood vampires - are they truly immortal?" - Lena thought that perhaps that was the distinction. "Do they rise again after they're slain?"

"Yes, they do" - Sanguine nodded. "Pure-bloods never really die. But pure-bloods lose all their humanity too."

"Humanity is such a volatile concept... I know a few daedra who have more humanity than some of the mortals..." - Lena mused.

"No need to get so philosophical about it" - Sanguine smiled. "You know what I mean - and indeed, humanity is neither guaranteed nor reserved for mortals. Or we would not be sitting here, talking about it."

Lena nodded, turning her attention to the table with food and drink. She picked up some grapes.

"All right" - she held a bunch of grapes in her hand, looking resolved. "Let's see what we've got." She plucked at the grapes. "I have Recessive Vampirism which is a disease, not a daedric gift." She put the grape down with determination and plucked another one. "When it relapses, it makes my eyes go red and makes me hungry for blood, but still it doesn't give me real immortality." Grape down, pluck another. "And if I catch Porphyric Hemophilia again and let it bloom, I'll turn into a regular vampire who is immortal..." She hovered her hand, lifting her eyes to Sanguine. "Do I stop ageing while I'm a vampire?"

"You do" - Sanguine confirmed. Lena put the grape down, plucking the next one.

"So presumably then I also stop ageing for the time when my Recessive Vampirism relapses" - grape down, she figured it was certain enough. She plucked another. "And... umm... where am I going with this?"

"That's the most important question of all, isn't it?" - Sanguine fixed her with his gaze. "Does any of it matter?"

Lena looked into his eyes and saw her answer - no, it didn't matter. Not to Sanguine, anyway. "Not to a lot of people" - Lena thought of Hauk, Lucien, Dylan, Ocheeva, Kud-Ei and so many others. Perhaps she should stop worrying.

"If your child turns out to have vampirism, you will treat it as any other disease - you will have blood in your cupboard as well as wine, that's all. Most people won't ever need to know. You'll manage. And most likely it won't even happen." Sanguine smiled as Lena's expression cleared and she started eating the grapes that she had laid out previously. "Don't let the spectre of what might happen poison you here and now."

With the mood lightened, they realised it must be time for breakfast and turned to the food and wine before them.

"Whose child is it?" - asked Sanguine watching Lena eat for two.

"Umm..." - she went red. "Either Hauk's or Lucien's." She swallowed.

"No need to feel embarrassed, not with me anyway" - Sanguine laughed. "It happens. Better two than none at all."

"It could be yours, as well" - Lena stopped eating with this striking realisation. "I don't know when it happened, exactly."

Sanguine looked up. "Well, it would be a first then" - he shook his head. "Unlikely."

"What - you have no children? With your... lifestyle?"

"Daedra don't have children all that easily, you know" - Sanguine smiled. "We aren't supposed to have children at all."

"No, yet some have - including Molag Bal!" - Lena protested. "And you are a Prince."

"And what does that mean?" - Sanguine frowned. "I am a dremora, we don't procreate. Molag Bal is not a dremora" - he said with such a finality as if it closed the matter.

"Well... I suppose we'll find out some time next Spring" - Lena smiled at him. "If the baby has horns, we'll know whom to blame."

This remark, combined with the effects of the wine, led to much hilarity and speculations on other possible causes of horns in a newborn, such as goats, minotaur or other dremora, all of which Lena vehemently denied.

"Oh, there's something else - I almost forgot!" - she got up rather unsteadily and walked over to her pack, producing the extra large black soul gem she retrieved from Hannibal Traven previously. "This needs hiding."

"What is it?" - Sanguine held out his hand. "Looks like one of Azura's botched experiments."

"It's a soul gem - large enough to capture a living lich. Mannimarco had it - to capture Traven's soul. Or visa versa" - answered Lena, her speech slurred.

"Ah!" - Sanguine nodded, turning it over in his hand. The wine didn't have as much of an effect on him as it did on Lena. "Like I said - Azura's job. She created quite a few of these things before the Star. Why do you want to hide it?"

"So that Mannimarco and Traven wouldn't get their hands on it when they eventually rise again" - Lena tried to explain, although it didn't make sense to her any longer.

"And if they do - why would that be a bad thing?" - it seemed it made no sense to Sanguine either.

"Because then one of them would permane-ne-ntly kill the other" - Lena was having difficulty with long words. "To make himself stronger, and they are strong enough already as it is."

"You know that makes no sense, right?" - Sanguine laughed. "Besides, you're drunk. But if you insist..." - he tossed the gem over his shoulder and they heard a splash as it fell into the sea. "There. Hidden. But don't ask me later which island it was - I won't remember! I've got thousands of them, and they change all the time!"

And with business now finally out of the way, they proceeded with their feast on never ending food and wine set out on the self-replenishing low table by the fire.

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This island Sanguine calls Strotti's Everrest Island. Don't believe him that he can't remember which is which.


--------------------
"What is the greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."
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