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> The stories so far, Edited and ready to roll.
Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 06:54 PM
Post #61


Agent

Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Serene (Minque)


Serene in Cyrodiil

By Minque

Chapter 1 Cyrodiil

Part 1

The day that changed my life forever, was indeed meant to change it…..but not in the way it did……..

I was standing in front of the big mirror in my dressing-room, merely appreciating the sight….I probably would have a good time at the grand feast my parents were holding for me, to celebrate my 16th birthday. That day was today and I was waiting for my mother to come and help me with my hair. She wasn’t eager to let Ranya, my dunmer maid, perform this delicate task, knowing that the devoted girl would listen too closely to my suggestions of how my long, auburn hair should be arranged.

The festivities also had another purpose- a lot of young, promising legionnaires were invited, all eager to marry the daughter of the great General in the Imperial Legion, Rufus Vantinius, my beloved father. So finding a suitable husband for me was one of today’s missions for my parents.

I slowly turned around, watching my exquisite skirt whirl around the waist; it was a lovely creation in dark gold-beige and amethyst-blue, embroidered with pearls around the lining. With that I wore a tight semi-transparent blouse in beige which revealed a lot more of me than my mother would be satisfied with. But since I was old enough to be the object of the “marriage-open-market” why not tease the hunters a bit?

I knew my mother would want me to put on the beautiful robe which she inherited from her mother, and which now was given to me. In fact it was a great piece of handicraft; my grandmother made it for her wedding….ages ago, from thick heavy wool, in a dark red color with thick gray wolf-fur on the hood and lining. My grandmother, Reidun Ingjaldsdottír, was born and raised in Falcreath in the province of Skyrim, being originally of Nordic heritage, and that’s where the fur came from. My grandfather got her as a reward for saving her father’s life in a fight there.

At first Reidun resented her master and “owner,” Larrius Macrinius, captain in the Legion. But afterwards they settled down in Falcreath, so Reidun in fact not was driven from her native lands, she started to like him and soon even love him. Their marriage was a great celebration with a huge mass of food and drink, and Reidun had made the famous robe just for the occasion to protect her both from the everlasting coldness of Skyrim and also from the lustful eyes of the drunken male wedding guests.

Shortly after their marriage they set off for The Imperial City, where Larrius rapidly advanced in his career with the Legion. My mother, Larissa, and her twin-brother, Larrius II, were born short after my grandfather became General.

“Serene! Are you out of your mind? Just standing there dreaming and admiring yourself! We are short of time as it is, and you are far from being presentable!”

My mother’s sharp voice abruptly awakened me from my daydreams, and I sighed and sat down on the little pallet in front of the mirror. Mother Larissa started to brush my hair with a ferocity coming from her nervousness at not having full control of the situation (as she usually had!)

I sat calmly and stared right into the mirror, watched my mother’s face and appearance, and noticed that I certainly hadn’t gotten my looks from her….She was a short sturdy woman, round-faced, with dark blonde hair in a fancy arrangement, her brown eyes peering sternly at me…..BROWN EYES!!

I jumped to my feet when I discovered the fact that my mother’s eyes were brown, a fact I hadn’t given one thought about before…It couldn’t be!!! It was impossible- mine were dark blue with a touch of amethyst-violet, like my father’s. Well, his were more bright blue, but …..I had just learned about genetics at the Lyceum for better-off Imperial young women, and one thing was made crystal-clear, there’s only 50% chance that an offspring from one brown-eyed and one blue-eyed parent can get blue eyes…..then add the fact that I didn’t resemble my mother at all; I was tall, thin and my face was slim and delicate with pointed cheek-bones….There was something really fishy going on……..

“How come I have blue eyes when yours are brown?” I screamed as I stood before my mother, trembling with a strange terror. I so wanted her to ease me and explain that I really WAS one of that 50% that could get blue eyes. My heart sank when I saw her reaction to my outrage..

Larissa Vantinius went pale and sat down heavily on my bed, her hands covering her face, tears running down her cheeks.

“Oh, Renie, darling,” she sobbed, “I was hoping you’d never find out!”

“Find out what?” My voice was sharp and I was shaking in earnest by now, tears burning behind my eye-lids as I felt the ground beneath my feet fade away.

My mother wiped her face and composed herself, straightened her back and started telling me who I really was

”Serene, you might as well be told the truth now, there’ll be no better opportunity….”

“It was a chilly morning, 16 years ago, 27 First Seed.” Larissa started. “I couldn’t sleep so I went down to the grand living room to drink a glass of cyrodiilic brandy, you know I usually do that, don’t you?”

I nodded and she continued – “Then I thought I’d go outside for a while to get a breath of fresh air. When I opened the front door I almost stumbled over a worn, open chest that was right in front of me on the staircase.” Larissa’s eyes filled with tears again and she was silent…. I began to feel a chill down my back, and sweat was beading on my brow and under my arms, as I forced my mother to continue her gruesome story.

“When I looked down I saw a little baby-girl lying in the chest, all naked with just an old dirty piece of cloth wrapped around her legs. The baby looked dead and there was a note pinned to the cloth.”

I consider myself be an intelligent girl with a lot of imagination, so by now I was aware what my mother was getting at! This indeed was a nightmare; I couldn’t hold back anymore, a flood of tears ran down my face, and I cried out my rage and fear, whilst my mother gently massaged my shoulders

“Yes Renie, that baby-girl was you! The note on the cloth said: ‘You have to look after her for I cannot. She belongs to this house and I have named her Serene, she was born 6 days ago’….and that was it! No more information….So what could I do?” Larissa continued, “I took you inside and tried to warm you up, then you opened your wonderful amethyst-blue eyes and just looked at me with a serenity that amazed me…..No wonder your biological mother named you the way she did!”

“But then again, a 6-day-old baby needs breast-feeding, and where could I find someone who just had a baby?”

“You certainly cried out your urge for some nourishment,” Larissa smiled. “Then I remembered that one of the kitchen-maids recently had a baby, but I didn’t remember actually seeing the child. I went to the servants’ house and asked around. By now most of the staff were awake and very curious about the noise from the main building.”

“Oh Mistress Larissa, a baby-girl! Two or three of the young kitchen-maids were hanging around me and tried to calm you down, ‘She’s hungry I bet,’ Aantje, one of the more clever maids stated, ‘why Marthona just lost her son, maybe she can help, she’s crying over her spilled milk….’”

“ I hesitated at first,” Larissa sighed, “Marthona indeed was one of our most valuable servants; she was a magician and healer, BUT she also was an Altmer! And you Renie, were not, you were definitely of cyrodiilic heritage. I wasn’t so keen on letting a woman of another race feed you- one never knows how that can end up!”

“But there was no choice, either Marthona was to feed you or you would just die!”

By now I was listening to my mother’s story with a cold empty feeling in my stomach; I didn’t cry anymore, but my nose was running and my blouse was soaked with sweat and I certainly wasn’t in the mood for a birthday celebration anymore….. Or for dating some high-bred would-be Cyrodill Legionnaire.

But then again, I realized that I always had been interested in plants and herbs and what can be made from them; I also remembered that I always had a good hand with injured animals……..and last but not least, I always had and still have very warm feelings towards Marthona. Maybe some Altmer-magic went through the breast-tissue-barrier and into the milk I drank……?

“Did you ever learn who left me on the stairs?” I asked solemnly.

“No I didn’t…..but coincidentally, your grandmother, that’s on your father’s side, lost a parlor-maid at that time. That’s odd but I wouldn’t assume that this girl is, or was your real mother.”

My father the General entered the room, his face red with anger- well, of course; the guests had arrived and none of his family had come down to welcome all the mighty officers and their wives and children

“WHAT are you doing up here?” he shouted. “SERENE! Just look at you, there will be NO marriage-proposals for you, if you don’t straighten yourself up…And for the sake of Zenithar, take off that ghastly blouse! It’s all wet and you show so much of yourself that you can as well come down naked!…Besides…You SMELL!!”

“Rufus dear,” my mother said in a low voice, “she had to be told the truth about her uncertain roots”…..she bowed her head down and waited for the thunderstorm to break out!

Then I instinctively knew my father was having a heart-attack; his face went bluish-red, his eyes were on fire and he gasped desperately for his breath.

“RUFUS!” My mother screamed as her husband fell down on the thick red carpet, “Rufus! Talk to me! HELP! Serene, call for a healer, call for anything!!!”

I did nothing of the sort; an ice-cold cloud came over me and I just knelt at my father’s side and put my hands gently on his chest. I could feel his heart beating far to irregularly and his lungs struggling for air.

As I closed my eyes and concentrated on the desperate heart, I could feel the clot that hindered the blood from flowing in one of the coronary arteries….I trembled, this I’d never done before, at least not on a human being, and certainly not on one so close to me… I felt waves of energy floating from me to him; it was exhausting, sweat was running down my back, from my armpits and between my breasts…..I was forcing the clot to dissolve to let the blood-stream free again, it was slowly getting softer. Suddenly my fingers felt a tremble deep inside his chest …….

“Rufus!” Larissa whispered, “Oh Renie, he’s coming back to us,” she sobbed quietly and bent over him, covering his face with light kisses.

I rose and looked at his face; it was its normal dark-reddish again, the color of too much cyrodiilic Brandy and too much crab-meat-stew with fried ash- yam…..and no exercise whatsoever, unless you count the few steps to “Semirama´s Hanging Gardens,” the legionnaires’ playground-of the-year. Well, in fact, it’s a decent restaurant mostly, but when invaded by legionnaires off-duty it becomes Oblivion’s kitchen, too much booze and fatty food…

My mother and most of the guests now were occupied by helping Father to his bedroom, so I decided that it was time for me to stand on my own feet. I tore off my soaked, smelly clothes, went into the wash room and poured a bucket of water over myself, and immediately I felt better- amazing what a little hygiene does !!

I found some common skirts and blouses in Ranya´s closet, and left a note telling her that she could take whatever she wanted in my closet, then packed a leather satchel with one set of her clothing, and put on the other. The last thing I did was to pack the gorgeous red robe and off I went…..without looking back.

I now had paid for the care that was given to me by saving my father’s life, at least that was what I chose to think as I was walking through the streets of The Imperial City, hoping none of the patrolling legionnaires should stop me and ask what General Vantinius´s little Renie was doing alone walking the streets in the middle of the night.

I was extremely tired and wanted more than ever to lie down for a bit…..but that kind of behavior was not allowed in the City, not even in parks, on benches! There are stories about people being arrested for sleeping in parks, or even picking flowers there…..

Coming out from the City into the beautiful Nibenay Valley I felt at ease for the first time since morning. I knew the valley like my own pocket. Marthona went there every day to collect medical herbs and plants and practice different magic skills and I followed her, although my parents (or whatever I’ll call them from now on) did not approve. So I had to sneak out every time…..which made me extremely skilled in sneaking, an ability that might be called the “Rise and Fall of Serene Vantinius.”

As I slowly walked along the Nibenay River I thought about how this day had forever changed my life. I’d never go back to Vantinius Manor; I didn’t belong there anymore, not being the legitimate daughter of Rufus and Larissa. I also wondered why I never had any brothers and sisters…..Why would an Imperial General settle for only one heir? And that heir being a GIRL? Something was very wrong here and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I then noticed a flickering light to my left. My first thought was that my father’s men had found me, because I was sure they were sent out looking for me. No way would General Vantinius cope with the humiliation of a run-away daughter, even if that daughter was not of his own blood-line.

I quickly hid myself behind a gigantic cork-bulb plant growing beside the winding path. Not a sound could be heard, but the light was still there. I sneaked slowly towards it and then it was all clear… It was a lit-up window in a small shack and the flickering was just the trees waving in the chilly breeze….. I also by then knew what house it must be; I had found the Dunmer-settlement that was known to be somewhere in the Valley. Very few people actually knew about this little “village,” but as Ranya and I had become friends, she had told me about it. The Dunmer that inhabited this settlement were working in The City as underpaid semi-slaves, doing all the dirty work that the native Cyrodiilians were too high-up to do. I remembered that I actually had been here, once or twice, together with Ranya, when I was a little girl, naturally in secret; my father would never allow me to mix with, as he used to say, “Minor races.”

When I entered the settlement I looked for the shack where Ranya´s family lived; at least they had met me and hopefully wouldn’t try to chase me away. As with all Dunmer there were a lot of people living in the same small building, so when I entered there were seven pairs of reddish eyes glaring at me with suspicion. I removed the hood of my robe to reveal my face.

“Serene!” Tamara, Ranya´s elder sister, flung herself up from her seat near the fire. “What in the name of Almalexia are you doing here? What’s happened to you? You look awful!”

“Thank you,” I replied with a twisted grin and felt the tears rising in my eyes, “now I know I’m with friends”

Tamara embraced me and held me tight to her chest while I cried my eyes out. When I calmed down a bit I thought of how wonderfully friendly these people were, considering they had not seen me for quite some years. I dried my face and sat down by the fire. It was early morning; the family had just started their breakfast and I was treated with what food and drink they had; hot Hackle-lo-tea, freshly made bread and some boiled ash-yam. Sitting there, warm and satisfied, I began to tell what happened to me last night. I watched the faces of the people around me- there was Tamara and four more of Ranya´s sisters, and their mother, all six with the beautiful red hair that obviously ran in the family, and another elderly woman who I didn’t recognize.

I spent the day in the hatch, resting, recovering from the events of yesterday. In the evening we all assembled by the fireplace, drinking strong tasty comberry-wine that made me very drunk and very sleepy….

When I woke up the following morning I had very vague memories from last night; I must have fallen asleep sitting by the fire. Now I was lying on a bedroll with a somewhat dirty blanket wrapped around me. The smell of Hackle-lo-tea brought me to my senses. Liana, one of Ranya´s younger sisters, brought me a cup and sat down beside me, watching me sadly. She told me that there had been some soldiers sneaking around the settlement during the night. “They were looking for you, Serene,” she said quietly and turned her face away from me. I nearly fainted when I heard this and cold sweat ran down my back and my mouth went completely dry. The thought of staying at the settlement for a couple of days, which was my original plan, was not an option anymore. I had to leave as soon as possible, so I gathered my things together, leaving the red bridal-robe behind as a thank-you for the hospitality shown to me.

Just as I was ready to exit the shack I heard terrible screaming from outside and with a crash the door was flung open and three bodies were cast inside. It was Tamara, her mother, and Kira, the youngest of the sisters. All three were badly injured, and covered with blood. I opened my mouth to ask what was going on when four imperial soldiers in heavy armor broke through the door, swords unsheathed. A distinct smell of cyrodiilic brandy filled the room and I instinctively dragged Liana to me and tried to shield her with my body

“So, there you are, Mistress Serene,” one of the soldiers took a step in my direction, with his hand stretched out to grab me. “The filthy bastards thought they’d get a neat ransom for kidnapping you, huh, but no way, they’re going to pay for this…..in blood!”

I then was grateful for my ability to sneak because as the drunken soldier was speaking I managed to get hold of the steel dagger that we used for cutting the bread last night.

“Stay away from me,” I shouted, pointing the dagger at the soldier’s belly. ”Just leave me alone!”

The soldier hesitated for a moment, then turned to his companions, laughing, “See boys, there we go……going to have some fun with that one huh?”

I tried to keep my hand steady, but I was shaking vigorously, sweat running down my back as I slowly moved sideways, to see what had happened to my Dunmer friends.

The soldiers argued among themselves about what they were going to do next; apparently they had different opinions, and were terribly drunk….

I kneeled by the three wounded Dunmer women and saw that Tamara and her mother were not breathing anymore; their throats were cut from side to side. Kira, on the other hand, seemed not to have been injured until I saw the blood emerging from between her legs. She had been severely molested, and she was only 7 years old. In unthinking rage I threw myself on to the nearest soldier and buried the dagger deep in his neck. With a roar he slowly sank to the floor with me still clinging to his back.

Then sheer hell broke loose. I luckily lost consciousness- maybe that saved me from going totally insane. The next thing I remember was pain, the most terrible pain I ever encountered. I was lying in a carriage on a dirty blanket that smelled of unspeakable things. The carriage was tossing and turning and I turned my head aside and vomited. With every movement of the carriage, the pain made me wish I could die, or at least pass out. I could feel that some of my ribs were broken; every breath caused the ends to dig into my lungs, and a deep cut in my left arm made it useless; but worst of all, my body below the waist was on fire, abused and tormented…..I could imagine what they’d done to me. Just before I finally passed out again, I wondered what had happened to my Dunmer friends and why nobody tried to save us…. And then, I happened to see the face of one of my tormentors, and that filled me with sheer horror…..I couldn’t believe it was him…

“Uncle Varus!” The words that came from my wounded lips were a bare whisper, but he looked at me with loathing and hatred from the back of his horse, and I knew I’d made a most powerful enemy.


The next time I opened my eyes I encountered darkness. I found myself lying on a bed-like thing on a filthy mattress. I didn’t see anything at first but when my eyes got used to the weak light I noticed that I had to be in a cell. Damp stony walls, the worn bed I was lying on and the compulsory bucket in the corner. The smell was …well, interesting.

I tried carefully to move, first my head from side to side, then my arms. The left arm was still hurting me and the sleeve of my shirt was soaked with blood. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate all energy to the wound. By doing that I also got my mind off the dull pain in the lower part of my body. It was hard this time; I was totally worn out by the last hour’s events. Then I felt the arm getting warm, and I noticed the bleeding had stopped. Now I just would need some marshmerrow and wick wheat to close the cut and heal it…..Very possible that would be in my current situation! In the meantime I unwrapped the belt from my waist- it was made of a broad piece of cloth so I could easily tear off a strip and tie it tight on my arm.

The broken ribs would heal easier, I just had to lie still and try to focus on the ribs as I slept; oh how grateful I was to Marthona who taught me of all these healing skills! She used to say that I had the “gift”…and also claimed that there must be a drop of Elfish blood in me somehow…..

Well I wouldn’t know about that anyway, but thinking of my origin made the tears run again and I didn’t want to cry anymore, wouldn’t give the legionnaires the pleasure of seeing me broken.

Then the door was flung open and a young boy entered the cell with a tray in his hands.
“Some food for you mistress Serene” he said and looked away from me. Well I must look really awful then, if my guards didn’t even dare to put eyes on me. The food was gruesome- some watery soup with something indefinable floating around in it, and a piece of bread, shaggy with green mould. My hunger, though, was greater than my distaste for the food, so I ate it all.

Why the boy had called me “Mistress”…..maybe my father had arrived; it should be common knowledge by now that I was imprisoned. Oh what a dishonor to him having an illegitimate daughter who also had committed murder…

I fell asleep…..concentrating on my broken ribs…

The next morning I felt a lot stronger. When trying to take a deep breath I didn’t feel the broken ribs dig into my lungs anymore…..so my healing skills were functioning quite well! I did wish I had my alchemy- gear and my collection of herbs and plants with me…because I realized that I had to do something about the other bleeding. It had slowed, but not stopped and my trousers and the mattress were soaked with blood.

Breakfast was as delicious as last night, only this time it wasn’t brought to me by a young shy legionnaire but by my Uncle Varus!!

The time has come to tell you about my Uncle Varus. Rufus and Varus Vantinius were brought up in the Imperial City by their parents, Julianos and Antonia, to honorably serve the Emperor and the Imperial Legion. Both boys were ambitious and became skilled soldiers. But when it came to social matters, Rufus was the most successful, for he was attractive to women, strong, honest, intelligent, considerate and most of all he had the looks! He could converse with anyone about anything, he read books, took an interest in music, theatre, and all cultural events going on in the City. And so he found Larissa and got married, purchased a stately mansion and continued a full social life. His personal courage and good works made him highly respected in the Legion as well as among the citizens. He was even running for councilor’s election this year.

Varus, on the other hand, was not at all intellectual, took no interests in any cultural events, and did not read books…he was an arrogant and highly skilled warrior, that’s all. Women were attracted to him at first, for he was also rather handsome, but the relationships didn’t ever last. Underneath the good looks lurked a cruel and jealous spirit. Therefore he envied his brother Rufus for having achieved a home, a wife and…..a child; me!
The rumors said that he used to beat the women when they didn’t do exactly as he said, or if he was just in the mood for beating somebody.

I believed that rumor as I looked up in my Uncle’s face when he came into my cell that chilly morning.

He stared at me with cold blue eyes and an expression of loathing on his face. Then he snapped his fingers and an elderly woman entered. My eyes widened…it was a Dunmer woman…why on earth would the Legion have Dunmer working for them?

“See to it that this…this person will be presentable for the trial this afternoon,” he ordered the woman.

She nodded and approached me. Even if she was affected by the state I was in, she didn’t show it at all. She had brought sload-soap, fresh water, and some fragrant herbs and plants. I’ve said before…a little hygiene does wonders for me. I was neatly washed, my wounds were treated with medical herbs, and, the best of all, my bleeding was arrested. She dressed me in a clean shirt and skirt and added a brown woolen robe that made me feel warm and fairly comfortable considering the situation. Through it all, Uncle Varus stared at me coldly and with hatred.

When I was finished he handed a bottle to the Dunmer woman and growled,

“Give her this to drink.”

His voice was harsh and sounded evil. I hesitated at first; usually I don’t drink potions I don’t know the effects of, but this one smelled rather good and I was thirsty….

After swallowing the unknown potion I first experienced a warm nice feeling in my throat and the taste was also very nice…..but then!! My tongue seemed to grow and stuck to my palate; I couldn’t move it…and could not utter one word!!
When I looked at the Dunmer I saw she was crying…so I now understood I was enchanted with a Silence spell, I wouldn’t be able to defend or even speak for myself at the trial…..
What a terrible set-up! When I looked at Uncle Varus, I saw an evil grin on his face and I knew I was doomed……..

I was left alone in my cell again, sitting on the bench, just waiting….staring at the little window with iron-bars without really seeing. There was no doubt I was to be sentenced to death, that being the usual punishment for murder, and in my case it was even worse….I had ended the life of an officer in The Imperial Legion. My thoughts were with those Dunmeri women in the settlement who died for trying to help me out. My despair was endless, but I couldn’t cry anymore, there were simply no more tears left.

"The events of the last days had been so stunning, so far outside my experience, that I was simply numb. Although I knew that a death sentence was almost certain, I could not even find the energy to be afraid. In three short days, I had lost my family, my freedom, and my innocence. I had killed a man- felt his warm blood on my hands. And I had been right to kill him, no matter what Imperial law said."

Then all of a sudden I felt the air tighten around me; there was a strange chill, obvious but not unpleasant. I heard a humming sound; it seemed the cell-walls were fading away; I was weightless free-floating in the void, when this soft female voice spoke.
“Serene, fear not, you are chosen. You shall be prepared for higher purposes, I shall watch over you.

The voice was merely a whisper in the air but the words infused strength and confidence in my heart. I closed my eyes and let the eerie atmosphere just sweep through me……

The door opened with a loud bang, and I once again faced my Uncle Varus, but this time I felt no fear. I gazed sternly right into his eyes, and he turned away. A faint feeling of triumph stiffened my spine. He couldn’t look me in the eyes….

Uncle Varus was accompanied by two imperial guards who held on to my arms rather harshly as they escorted me to the court-room. I still was under that Silence-spell and could not protest. I once more closed my eyes as we were heading down the narrow corridor, and then a name came into my mind….. “Azura”, the Dunmeri goddess of dusk and dawn, Azura….

The court room was filled with officers in The Legion, and a jury consisting of twelve honorable citizens sat along the left side of the room. Their faces were stern and merciless, and my heart sank; I could not possibly go free, not even with protection from some obscure Dunmeri goddess.

As I looked around I caught sight of my father, Rufus, sitting in the audience, his face totally emptied of all feelings. I cried inside for him; he had lost his only child twice, first when I ran away from home the day of my sixteenth birthday and then once more when I took the imperial officer’s life in the Dunmer settlement the day before yesterday.

The trial began. I did not hear much, for my mind was occupied trying to recapitulate as much as I could from those sixteen years I’d been on this earth. I noticed that there were two parchment rolls lying on the desk in front of the Judge, one with a white ribbon tied around it and one with a black. A thin trickle of sweat ran down my back as I understood that there could only be two ways, life or death, white and black. The jury went out for some last deliberation. After a short break the court assembled again and the jury’s representative read the verdict;

“GUILTY of murder of Crassius Varro, officer in The Imperial Legion …..

The world went black… I must have passed out for a minute or two, and then I abruptly was awake, because suddenly there was a riot in the court room, a Legionnaire in full Imperial Templar Armour rushed toward the Judge. He had a parchment roll in his hand…..a roll with a red ribbon tied around it. The Legionnaire was speaking rapidly in low tones to the Judge, and I overheard some occasional words…..”jail”…….”The Emperor”……”his orders”.
After delivering the roll, the Legionnaire stepped aside and the Judge untied the red ribbon.

“Serene Vantinius, you have been declared GUILTY of murder of Crassius Varro, officer in the Legion of The Imperial City. You will be deprived of your last name; Vantinius, because you do not belong to that family anymore….”

At that moment I looked right into my father’s eyes, but he turned away and my soul died a little bit………

”Also you are to be put in the City jail, for no less than twenty, and no more than fifty years. Court dismissed”

There was silence in the court room as the sentence was passed. Then I felt my tongue was loosened and I cried in despair;

“Father! Don’t abandon me!”

But Rufus Vantinius turned his back on me and went out of the Imperial court room together with his brother Varus.

I was taken back to my cell to gather my few belongings, because now I was to be put in the Women’s Ward of the Imperial Prison of Cyrodiil.

I did not get a cell of my own- there were three more women sitting on their beds as I arrived. The cell looked much like the former one except somewhat bigger. The beds were stacked two by two, and I got the upper one on the left side of the cell. My three room-mates looked first at each other, then at me;

“Nah, what’s ya here for?” One of them addressed me.

She was of Nordic heritage, tall, broad-shouldered, with long braids of golden hair. Her eyes were dark-blue, peering but nevertheless friendly. I told her briefly what happened to me, just omitted the most disgusting details. She told me her name was Sonya and she was born and raised in Skyrim, in a place named Falcreath. She was sentenced for slaying her father….in self-defense that was, because he had done unmentionable things to her. I shrugged; the conversation reminded me far too much of the events I’d been through.

The two other women did not say much, just told their names, Leila, a thin fragile red-haired Breton-girl of 15 years; and Almina, a stout, lethargic Cyrodiilic woman of 40. Leila, I soon found out, was sentenced to death by incineration, for witchcraft and was just waiting for the sentence to be carried out. Her deed was that she supposedly had put Black-Heart’s Disease on a Temple-servant. I did not believe for one moment that she really had committed that crime. Diseases, at least the common ones, according to my thorough studies in The Lyceum undoubtedly were acquired through contagion from germs originated from animals or dead bodies. I was very sad to hear her story and I hoped that I could find a way of saving her. Almina, on the other hand, was sentenced to do time for theft. She had stolen an exquisite robe from a trade house in The City.

After I’d heard the stories from my room-mates I lay down on my bed, and let my thoughts wander …..

I was floating again...in that strange void, everything was dense, the chill surrounded me, and there it was! The voice which this time was familiar to me; I welcomed it, though I felt a strange sense of anxiety.

“Serene of Cyrodiil, you shall not fear, for I will be watching you. Study, increase your skills. You are the hope of an entire nation. You will be the savior of many…….”

I opened my eyes, and sat up in my bed, still shivering from that strange dream. It was a dream…or was it? Sweat was running down my back and I was simply terrified despite the voice telling me not to be.

“´ad a nightmare lassie?” Sonya didn’t even look at me, she just turned around and fell asleep again. The other two neither moved nor uttered one word.

I sat with my arms around my knees and tried to figure out why Azura kept coming to me in my dreams. She wasn’t even one of my gods. Back home Ranya often told me about the Dunmeri gods and what they stood for. Azura was the goddess of dusk and dawn. What did she want from me? I felt dizzy all of a sudden and lay down again. The thought of being some savior did not appeal to me; all I wanted now was to do my time in prison, maybe be released a little bit earlier because of good behavior. ……..

During the next two weeks I had the opportunity so to say, to experience what an imperial prison was like. The women’s ward was situated in the ground story of the building. Therefore the barred windows were high up on the walls, just below the roof. They were rather small and did not let much of the outside light in. Walls of raw granite made the cell damp and there was a distinct smell of dirt and mold. As it was the ground level the cold oozed right up through the stone floor, making us spend most of our time in the cell on our so- called beds. They were simple pallets made of some kind of wood and, as I said before, standing on top of each other two by two. On each bed was a lumpy mattress, apparently filled with moldy straw, which smelled awful. With that we had one blanket each, a thin, worn blanket which did not help very much at night against the raw chill.

In one of the corners there was a bucket, to serve as a toilet. I did not visit it until the end of my second day in prison; I resented the stench very badly but at the end I didn’t have any choice anymore, I had to use it!

Each morning a guard came in with a second bucket with almost clean water, cold of course, and a piece of hard grayish soap; we had to share that between us, so we took turns in who was to be the first in line to wash herself. Towels were non-existent; we used our blankets. My strong sense of hygiene made me suffer severely the first week from this inability to keep myself clean, but after that I gave up and in fact didn’t even notice the thick odor of human grime that was consistent throughout the cell.

Sonya, Leila and myself tried as well as we could to wash ourselves and keep the cell tidy; it gave us something to do and kept our thoughts busy. I admired Leila’s calm, and the fact that she was nice, friendly and even laughed rather often…..despite her death warrant she was in good mood. I was nearly constantly thinking of how she could be saved- it struck me as a crying shame that a lovely girl like Leila should be deprived of her life, for a crime she undoubtedly did NOT commit.

The food was not as bad as one could imagine, drab , but we got rather big portions. For breakfast there were kwama-eggs, beaten and fried, with some peculiar gray stew with chunks of meat in it. I didn’t ask what kind of meat it was because I thought I would prefer not knowing. At noon we got fairly the same, sometimes there was some bread to go with it, or boiled saltrice. In the evening we just got bread and cheese , in fact that was the best meal.. The overall drink was water……on Sundays we could get some comberry-juice, that was if Margoth was the warder…..Margoth was a bosmer, and had worked at the prison for ages. She was afraid of no one, and had the compassion to sometimes cheer up the miserable lives of the imprisoned women.

I got on very well with my room-mates. I told Sonya of my Nordic grandmother and we found out that the families were somewhat related. But then again it was no wonder, Falcreath isn’t that big. I repressed the fact that I was not the real granddaughter of a nordic lady named Reidun of Falcreath……

As I’ve said Leila was a nice cheerful girl and very easy to be with. She ate very little and often treated us with leftovers from her plate. Sonya helped herself to it and so did Almina, but me, I just couldn’t …..my grief for the fate of Leila made me physically sick.

Almina puzzled me even then at this early stage, and considering what happened in a few days , I still can’t explain why she did what she did and why she did it at that particular moment. She hardly ever spoke with us, just sat there on her bed, glaring out into the air with a stubborn grumpy look in her broad face. Hygiene didn’t bother her at all, she never asked to be the first to wash herself. In fact I don’t remember her washing at all…

its strange how you get used to certain routines and find them quite endurable at a time like that. We never spoke about our final punishment, never mentioned the fact that at least two of us were supposed to be executed in a couple of weeks or months; the time-schedule of executions was not for us to know about.

On the night between Middas and Turdas the second week of my stay in the Imperial Prison I had my next encounter with my dream-God Azura…..

This time I was surrounded with a red mist, swirling around me, covering me in a strange chill, yet not unpleasant. Azura’s voice came through the mist, loud and clear this time;

“Serene, Serene of Cyrodiil, be prepared! Have no fear, I will be with you……You will hold in your hands the fate of an innocent, have confidence ……all will be revealed in time.”

Then Azura disappeared and I woke up, drenched in sweat and badly shivering. I swept the dirty blanket tight around me and just sat on my bed for a while, thinking I was slowly going insane. None of my room mates were awake so I finally lay down again and soon fell into a dreamless sleep.

The next day the memory of my strange dream was almost gone and we continued our tedious time in prison. On Loredas evening we got some overcooked crab-meat for supper together with a bottle of comberry-wine, served by Margoth, naturally….At the time, I did not understand that this “special” meal was an ill omen- a sign of death to come, although not the death that was intended…

We ate our meal in silence. Almina helped herself to the crab-meat , but even more energetically to the wine…..I found this a bit odd, not the fact that the imperial woman ate and drank heavily, that was common knowledge, but the fact we got wine, now that was odd! We never had that before at all.

I just tasted the wine, and did not eat very much either; I had this uneasy feeling that something was very wrong, the little food I had just lay like a lump in my stomach and I struggled to hold back the urge to vomit. So the guard came back for our dirty dishes…..When he turned his back on us to exit the cell I felt a paralyzing fear, and at the same moment Almina rushed towards him and hit the back of his head with a bottle……the bottle we had just emptied a while ago. At the blow the bottle broke, and its knife-sharp ends dug deeply in the soft flesh of the young imperial guard, who slowly sank to the floor, severely bleeding from the deep cut. Almina ran incredibly fast down the corridor outside our cell, while Leila let out a terrifying scream that would certainly be a call-out for every guard within the prison. A quick glimpse of a faint movement from the wounded man caught my eye and then I took action; I slapped Leila’s face to get her out of the catatonic state she was in and then grabbed both her hands and put them directly on the gaping wound of the guard.

“Hold tight”, I hissed and held my hands over hers while I concentrated on the bleeding wound. Leila was immediately quiet and just stared at me with horror all written on her face, yet still she kept her hands, guided by mine, holding tight to the back of the guard’s head. His blood flowed freely over our hands; but soon enough I sensed it diminish. I closed my eyes and concentrated to merge my healing energy through Leila’s hands into the deep cut. My entire body shivered, drenched in cold sweat. From far away I heard the footsteps from several guards approaching….Then I finally was aware of the wound slowly closing, the heavy blood-flow stopping. Leila opened her mouth as to say something, and I cautioned her,

“Shhhh, hold tight and concentrate on the wound.”

I removed my hands from Leila’s and fell trembling to the side, panting heavily as tears started running down my face. During my training, Marthona had told me that there was a price to be paid for a major healing; for the first time, I understood what she had meant. I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life.

“WASS´UP” three guards, fully armored, stood in the doorway, staring angrily at the strange scene in front of them; one imperial guard lying on his belly, a young Breton girl whose blood-stained hands held his head where the deep cut was slowly closing itself up, and one imperial girl sitting against the wall, crying. Leila’s face was remote, totally emptied of feelings, just calm and silent. I watched her through a mist of tears and knew that I most certainly had triggered the healing-powers that dwelled deep inside her.

“She saved this man’s life,” I sobbed, “he was dying!” I cried fiercely now, the last minutes had been too much for me, I had simply “crossed the border.”

“Aye, look ere Curio, e´s cumin´te his senses.” One of the guards bowed over the wounded one, who moved his head from one side to the other.

I just leaned against the wall and watched from a distance as the three guards helped their comrade to his feet. His uniform and armor were blood-stained but there was no cut in the back of his head any more; it was healed. The guards looked warily at Leila and me, and Sonya, who had been stunned with fear during this breakout, now cleared her throat and addressed the guards;

“Nah, see, yer mate would´ave been a stiffie if the lassie ´ere ´adn´t put them ´ands on´is ´ead.” It was obvious Sonya had grasped the situation …..

The guard named Curio turned to Leila and asked for her name and her sentence.

“Aye, Breton, you apparently saved young Telemachos´ life, and that shall not be unnoticed.”

With these words the prison-guards left our cell.

When we were alone Leila burst into tears, and I put my arms around her and we sat like that for a while. Sonya stared at me as if I was some kind of Cyrodiilic witch…

“Ye shud ´ave seen yerself, Serene,” she said, and shook her head, “them luk in yer eyes….creepy t´was….creepy, all tremblin´an´shakin´….sweatin´all over…….Wha´ are ye reely?”

I looked back at her and explained about my newly discovered healing-powers. Then we overheard some shouting and yelling from the corridor…..

“Almina!” I had completely forgotten about her, whose actions directly triggered this chain of events. A premonition came to me, telling that Almina´s life was over, then a terrible scream…… abruptly cut off…..and it was over.

We did not sleep very well that night, as Leila experienced the healing over and over again in her dreams, and so yelled and cried in her sleep. Sonya merely sat on her bed trying to figure out if I was a witch or just an ordinary lunatic or perhaps a mage.

As for myself, I had another date with Azura……

“Serene! Justice has been shaped,…..A life for a life…..Your path has been established, do not fear, for I shall be watching you. A release will come...”

And a release came, though not mine, for in the afternoon two guards came to us and told us about the death of Almina; it was young Telemachos and Curio, and they addressed us with great courtesy, which did not surprise me- men tend to respect women with exceptional powers. Especially when one of those women has saved a life.

“Killed during attempted escape,” they said.

“Leila of Jehanna; you shall follow me; General Vantinius wishes to see you.” Curio’s words tore my soul to pieces, and I crouched in the corner of my bed, buried my face in the pillows and let the tears come. I would never get over the loss of my family; just hearing them being mentioned caused me to break down completely.

Leila leaned over me and kissed my wet cheeks, “ I owe you my life, Serene. If I ever can do anything to repay you, let me know!”

Then she was gone…….I didn’t think I would ever meet her again, but oddly enough I did……but that’s another story.

Telemachos was one kind of a guard….he was kind and compassionate, as I found out on that gruesome Sondas afternoon in The Imperial Prison.

“Serene, there now, drink this and you will feel a lot better.”

I turned around and found a mug filled with hot comberry wine handed to me. Telemachos’ brown eyes looked at me almost tenderly. He handed me a piece of cloth to wipe my nose and dry my face with. As I took the cloth from his hand I noticed he had a badly treated wound on his thumb; it was watery and green pus oozed out from it. The bandage was dirty and did not even cover the wound properly. I asked him how he got it and he said it was a horse-bite.

Obviously Telemachos would run the risk of losing his thumb due to acute infection if the wound was not treated and quickly.

I took his hand and gently removed the bandage; the smell that now emanated from the poor man’s hand made Sonya rushed to the bucket and got rid of her lunch.

First I did not even feel it, but after examining Telemachos thumb with my fingers I noticed a rise in temperature in my hands, a tickling sensation in my fingertips…..The pus dried into small flakes and the red inflamed flesh took a healthier pinkish color, as I held his hand.

I looked straight into his eyes and then saw there, that he now knew who really had saved his life the day before….

Telemachos never revealed that it was I who saved his life and not Leila; that I do give him credit for. He seemed somewhat fond of me and tried to make my life in prison a little more endurable than it would have been otherwise.

All in all I spent 7 years in the Imperial Prison, but when I look back I don’t regard that time as completely wasted. Due to my proven healing-skills I was allowed more freedom than most of the other prisoners; I was allowed in the apothecary to mix ingredients of different kinds for potions that were commonly used in prison; also I was allowed to go out to collect the necessary plants and herbs, naturally under close supervision, but still I was able to get out in the fresh air now and then, which I really appreciated. But the fact remained……I was not free, and that made me think about what freedom really means and why it’s considered a punishment not to be free. For me it was the issue of very strict routines, and no personal space, always having to live with another person present, no opportunity of splendid solitude, to read a book or just sit down and daydream; having to be awakened every morning at the same time and eat breakfast together with a lot of more or less strangers with different eating-habits, that disturbed me most.

Sharing quarters can be very annoying, especially when you are not used to it. The sounds at night in a prison-cell with three or four women are sometimes unbearable……That I think was my real punishment, together with the obvious fact that I was not free.

I shall try to describe what a day in prison is like:

06.00AM Reveille, that is a guard walking down the corridor while he very loudly bangs at every cell-door shouting,

“ Wake up there ya´ (here he uses a word that is inappropriate), it’s mornin´ …..”

So we crawl out of our beds, fighting to be the first in line at the washing-bucket, if there is any water left from the day before, and if that water still is usable….

Then breakfast, normally some tasteless mire, as I’ve already told you about, but sometimes we get some kwama-eggs or a piece of bread. There’s no talking allowed during breakfast, “let the food silence your mouth,” as my grandmother used to say. Right after breakfast we tend to our daily tasks. No breaks, except for lunch, we just keep working; but that is also a good thing, keeps the mind busy. After supper they put the lights out and we are supposed to go to sleep.

So the days passed year after year….

Telemachos often volunteered to supervise my plant-collection-odysseys; maybe because he just wanted the opportunity to get out of the dull gray prison …or maybe because he had grown fond of me personally. When we were on these expeditions, he trained me in the use of different weapons, such as long- and short-bladed swords. The reason he showed this confidence in letting me use a weapon was our secret, but naturally he knew about what had happened to me and why I was sentenced to prison. He also knew my Uncle Varus, who was now his commanding officer, but who also had some tryst with his elder sister. He never told me much about this but I got the sense it was not at all pleasant

He used to tell me that I might need to be able to defend myself when I get out of prison, so he arranged a dummy consisting of a “doll” made from empty sacks, on which I was supposed to practice my blows and thrusts.

I was a good student; I quickly learned how to use the blades, and oddly enough I was better with the long-blade, which is not common among women. I was not as strong as a man but I was tall and because of my rather long arms I had a considerable reach and so I could easily keep the enemy at a distance when fighting. We had practice “fights” Telemachos and I, and after a couple of months intensive training I finally succeeded in beating him in one of those fights.

It was a warm sunny afternoon, in the middle of Sun’s Height; I had finished with the day’s collecting of marshmerrow and trama roots, and Telemachos suggested we should try a “fight.” He’d brought two beautiful steel katanas with him and wanted to see how my skills had improved.

At first I didn’t do very well; Telemachos successfully avoided my attacks …..but as the fight went on, my greater reach proved itself an advantage, and I slowly forced him backwards until he hit an upright boulder…..then I found myself pointing the knife-sharp edge of my sword at his throat. Telemachos stood absolutely still, looking right into my eyes, knowing that one single movement could send him straight on to his ancestors. I was panting heavily, drenched in sweat, totally aware of the sudden opportunity to escape that had presented itself.

I put down my sword with a sigh, the tension of the moment vanished and I smiled at Telemachos and asked him to recognize my victory. Some things are just impossible; I couldn’t kill Telemachos. I was not a murderess, although I did take a man’s life once, and was therefore sent to prison in the first place. But I would never believe that it had been murder- I was protecting myself and others and would do so again, if necessary. But this time it would have been cold-blooded murder, and that was something I was not capable of.

After some 5 years in prison, my healing-skills came to be of use again, when an epidemic of swamp-fever broke out in the men’s ward. In two weeks, fifteen of the prisoners were infected and the guards were terrified that it would spread throughout the prison. I worked the whole time in the apothecary with the ordinary physician, preparing healing-potions. The terrible thing was that if the potion was not distributed within the first two days after the outbreak of the disease, it had no effect at all. So when I came upon the first prisoner who was too far gone with infection I thought I’d try something else.

The disease affected the lungs mainly; they filled with fluid and the patient was slowly suffocated. The cause was a kind of germ that developed in the swamps of Cyrodiil, and sometimes, when the conditions were right, became very aggressive and so attacked humans.

I put my hands on the chest of the patient, who was in a very poor shape, delirious and with a bad cough. I closed my eyes and concentrated…..Almost immediately I felt the heat in my hands as the energy built; the unpleasant bubbling in the man’s lungs slowly diminished, as did the feverish heat that emanated from his whole body. I shivered, sweat running down my back, as his fever seemed to go right through me. I had to let go……and so I did, falling to the side, panting with exhaustion. But I knew I’d succeeded; the man would survive.

Then the real struggle began, as we, the physician and I, tried to cure as many as possible with potions. In the end, there were a couple of men that I had to heal “my way.”

After these events I was regarded as “official” healer and did get some more benefits, such as being allowed to visit the prison-library, a privilege that pleased me greatly. I always loved books and being able to spend quite some time in a library, regardless of its size and content, was a pleasure. I read all books in that library……literally, and thus increased my skills in strategic planning, alchemy, how to repair weapons and different war-strategies.

Sonya had been transferred to a labor-camp some months before; apparently her mother had untied her tongue and reported her husband to the authorities for abuse and there was evidence that Sonya had acted in pure self-defense and so her death-sentence was withdrawn. That pleased me because I had been rather fond of that harsh Nordic girl.

In the end of my seventh year in prison I had an encounter with Azura again, something I had not had since the day I saved Telemachos’ life through Leila. But this time it was different; this time she came to my dreams in person, not only as a voice……

I saw a tall, slender woman dressed in bluish white, a face hard and yet delicate, eyes burning, standing beside my bed in an aura of coldness, her smooth voice speaking words of wisdom, words of fate:

“Serene of Cyrodiil, you have passed the first trial that was laid upon you; there will be a change of scenery, for good and for ill. You will encounter further trials, and you will be the hope of an entire population. You will be a savior, but fear not; I shall guide you.”

Shivering, I drew the blanket tighter around me and fell asleep again. I was abruptly awakened by a hand shaking my shoulder rather harshly.

“Wake up, and be quiet. Hurry up, lass, it’s time to leave.”

The hoarse whisper went through my sleepy mind and I was dragged off my bed, a hooded cloak was cast over me and I was taken outside into the dark quiet street. I saw a wooden carriage in front of the prison-gates and started to ask what this was all about.

“Shhhh, girl, don’t speak, just come along, we have a long way to go.”

I was pushed into the dark carriage and off we went, through the empty streets until the smell of fish and salt caught my nose and I realized we must be at the harbor. The carriage stopped and I was taken out. Two figures, totally covered in black cloaks, grabbed me by the arms and led me on to the pier, where a low ship was lying alongside. I was hustled up on the gang-plank and onto the ship. It was all dark and I heard my escort whisper some orders. Another cloaked figure appeared from the hold and turned towards me. He looked at me, muttered something I couldn’t understand, and I fell into darkness…..


Here ends chapter 1
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Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 06:58 PM
Post #62


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Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Arden Faugher (Masayasu)


Anomalous Valediction
Author: Arden Faugher

Journal entry:

3E 415, 26 First Seed: Flower Day.

Today is Flower Day. I am standing in a grassy milieu gazing back at the deific glow of the Ilessen Hills. The dull hue of the Eltheric Ocean before me is highlighted by a radiant sky. I feel compelled to write today as I have been reminiscing of my earlier years. Today of all days revives the wonders of childhood; playing conquest, exploring the hills, getting into mischief. As families are in the midst of today’s festivities, I too have fallen victim to its geniality.

Though, things have changed much since then. With responsibility has come a great weight of the heart. I suppose it is a trade one makes unwillingly for adulthood. This thought recalls a turning-point for a dear friend I once had, Uther of Meir Thorvale.

It was about the year 3E 389 when I was a youth of these parts. I had only few companions, one of which was a strange fellow by the name of Uther. I often felt sorry for him as he did not develop at the same pace the rest of us did, though at times, I admired his ignorance. His behavior was somewhat eccentric with a mirthful semblance that would often lead him into a predicament. After one such event, his life would never be the same.

It was during the month of Sun Dusk as I recall for the snow had just begun to collect on the hills, and the merchants had already begun appending fur to their garments. On a crisp morning, I arose early to a series of thuds, thumps, and poundings of the floor. As my eyelids receded, a thin dark figure came into focus. When the early light grazed his tunic, I saw it was Uther, wheezing and perspiring. Curious, I surveyed him on his behavior. After a moment of regaining composure; a strange phenomenon was related to me.

In his words, “I was out last night after curfew. I realize the possible consequences, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit mischievous. You see, at early black, I was in view of a carriage riding unto Meryls (the Inn). A magnificent presentation it was, and out from it came a girl, one or two years our elder. She donned an unusual dress, uncommonly for wayfaring. A tall dark man led her out of the carriage, a Redgaurd perhaps, but she was fair as a nord, but with the delicate features of the elves. I felt compelled to gaze upon her once more.”

Upon hearing his words I was a bit stunned, as he was never one to show interest in the affairs of a lady. I retained my thoughts and listened further. “Well, last night, I ventured to the Inn to see her gentle features once more. I climbed up the wooden grooves to her window, and peered through the edge-steamed glass. No one was present. Curious as I was, I opened the window from outside and climbed in. Upon entering, I heard a group of footsteps leading to the door. To evade discovery, I quickly took harbor below the bedstead. As they entered the room, I listened.”

“My lady (in a deep voice), Daggerfall is about twelve days from here. We should arrive on Turdas, the day of Hel Anseilak. There your husband-to-be is waiting.”

“Thank you, Altilius”, she replied in a soft, sweet voice.

“You are most welcome. If nothing else is required, I will retire for the evening, Miss Aelta.”

“Please do, thank you.”

”Then, the door slowly shut, leaving me under the bed with the divine beauty above.” Uther’s cheeks changed to red for a moment. “All of a sudden, I heard the angel weeping. Perhaps marriage was not her intention I thought. I felt quite sorry for her, and wished that there was something that I could do. I then realized my position, and that I wouldn’t be able to part until she fell asleep.”

“After some time, there was no sound to be heard but the breathing of one deep in slumber. At that moment I decided I had better leave while the chance was nigh. Just as I was leaving essentially, I overheard a whisper from a fissure in the floor boards. It was very slight, though I could just make out the words. It was the voice from before, Altilius the redgaurd.”

“Yes, yes, it will be fine. She is fast asleep. I dropped some moon sugar in her tea, so don’t worry. She will not be disturbed. At twilight we will wrap her in this shroud and place the body in this trunk. Another carriage will be waiting between Meir Darguard and Eagle Brook. We will rendezvous exchanging packages, and then proceed to Camlorn. From there we will have enough gold to buy transit back to Hammerfel.”

“But sir, won’t her husband-to-be come looking for us?”

“Heh, there never was a one. The letters were counterfeit. Now, we leave at once.”

“Yes sir!”

“I was perplexed as to how to save her. Realizing that I was nearly out of time, I quickly took my fathers ring from my pocket, and placed it on Miss Aelta’s hand. Then I recited the incantation. She turned invisible at once. I carefully pulled her from the bed and as I heard the foot steps to the door, I pushed her below and climbed back out of the window without being seen.”

“Are you a thief? Where did you get an invisibility ring? Is that how you slithered into Amirie’s Tavern without witness?”

“How else could I have purloined that bottle of Cyrodillic brandy from the breakfront? The ring was a gift to my father while being in the service of the empire. After he passed away, I kept it as a memento.”

“You astonish me without end. So, what happened after that?”

“Oh, yes, well, a moment later the three Redgaurds came out of the inn in frenzy. I was fretful about the girl, but didn’t want to expose my intentions, so I waited a bit longer until the malefactors had ventured to search. I quickly scaled back up the wall and through the window. I checked under the bed and to my surprise, the body was not where I had placed it. I then realized that she may be wandering about while still invisible. The spell only lasts for several minutes. I knew that I would have to find her before they did.”

“As I was running out of time, I came up with a temporary solution. I climbed into her bed and concealed myself under the sheets. After awhile of waiting, the men came in to find a body with a similar size and physique where it belonged. I then overheard a sigh relief, and then felt my self being lifted and placed into a large wooden chest. After an unsettling ride, I could hear the sound of horses from the carriage, and my self being set down.”

“I was truly frightened, but the thought of her safe in the village reassured me of my action. We rode for quite a long time. I had to think of a way to get free, but the trunk was locked from the outside, and I had no way to open it. Just I heard the lock begin to rattle. The lid had opened, but there was no savior there. I peeked out, and the two men from before were sleeping. I believe Altilius was driving the cart. Then, I heard a whisper”

“Be still sir. You are almost free. Carefully step out from the chest. When I say to, be ready to jump.” “I carefully stepped out making sure to close and lock it, not to raise suspicion. Then, at that moment, I and the phantom leaped from the carriage into the road. In the fall, I thought I saw a ring fly into the grass. When I looked around, there lying down was my paragon. I lifted her up, and we quickly withdrew to the dense cedars. There she explained what happened, as I was still in bewilderment.”

“Dear sir, my name is Euelita Aelta. I have come a long way from Cyrodill to meet my future husband. I appreciate your bravery to the highest degree. Without your help, I would never have escaped.”

“How did you come to save me, my lady? I over heard them saying you were drugged to sleep.”

“I was not. I only pretended. I knew that this was all a farce, including my marriage. I discovered it when we rode through Hammerfel. We stopped to enlist the betrayer’s help. I could tell that they were brutes. When I slept, or so they thought, I overheard their plans.”

“My poor lady, I am sorry for your tribulation. So, I have to ask, when I came out from the bed, you were not really sleeping?”

“No. When the men came in to find my body missing, I quietly slipped out from the door. I watched as you climbed back up through the window. When they came out with the chest in hand, I knew that you might be involved. I thought that my savior might need saving himself.”

“Astonishing!”

“So, from there, we have made our way along the road back to town. I thought that I must come to see you right away. I thought it over, and have vowed to protect and care for her. I will now take her back to Cyrodill where I hopefully will make her my wife. This is perhaps the last time we will be meeting. Take care, my dear friend.”

A day later, news came from a merchant on the road from Daggerfall, that a group of redgaurds had been slaughtered on the way to Eagle Brook. Nothing was stolen. Though, the merchant noted that a box with no contents lay next to the cart. He mentioned that if anyone new the whereabouts of the cargo, to let the authorities know right away.

As the sun is now receding to its origin, so I too will recede my ink and quill back to my satchel.

End.
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Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 07:00 PM
Post #63


Agent

Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Unknown (WillyBubba)


Tales of a Cursed Town

Bane of Lupus

A small group of Nords once migrated from Skyrim, into the Northeastern area of Cyrodiil. These were warriors, hoping to carve a settlement into the uncertainty of the deep, dark unknown. At the time of their movement the region was even less civilized than it is now, and wolves were once a plague to the area. Not knowing this, the warriors picked a nice clearing near a pond to set up camp. They began construction, hoping to have a nice town set up by the time their wives and children arrived.

They had expected to have problems with wild predators, and they therefore sent the well-armed warriors ahead of the rest, but they could not have predicted the horrors that would arrive only a few months after they had settled down. This is where the sad tale of Itar the Gentle begins.

The sun was still stretching its rays across the early morning sky, but Itar had been up for an hour already. In his makeshift hut he had a simple hammock, which didn’t provide the sleep he was accustomed to getting on a bed, and a small sack to keep his few belongings in. Conditions were rather dismal, but it made no difference to Itar, as he was doing what he loved, and had even picked up a new hobby.

On the expedition’s quest to find a suitable place for a settlement they ran into many problems. Some Daedra and their summoners had attacked them early on. In the battle a few died, including the only mage the Nords had brought along. He had been responsible for providing potions and enchantments when needed, and he was now dead. However, Itar had learned a few things from his grandfather, and he now became the expedition’s mage, as he was the most experienced with alchemy, and enchanting especially.

Now he spent every waking hour wandering in the woods, gathering ingredients for potions, and using his family’s ancestral axe, Wolf’s Bane, to gather the souls of whatever animals he came across. That is what he had planned on doing today. He through a few potions of healing and restore fatigue into his sack, grabbed his axe, and set out.

In a short time he reached a small clearing with a pond in the distance. Before he could move closer, to investigate the pond, he heard snarling in the bushes, and a wolf lunged at him. He had Wolf’s Bane ready and swung it quickly, cleaving the wolf’s front legs from its body. It fell to the ground in a bloody pile, still snarling like a mad animal. Regaining his composure, Itar trapped its soul and continued on to the pond. Upon closer inspection he could see someone near the shore of the pond, and started to approach, Wolf’s Bane at the ready. When he got closer he realized that it was a half-naked and wet elf woman. He cleared his throat.

“What? Oh, dear, that’s a mighty axe you have there, for felling those poor trees I suppose.” Said the startled Bosmer as she quickly pulled on a shirt.

“Oh no. Just to protect me on my adventures. This area is quite dangerous, don’t you have a guide or something? Seems a beautiful lady like yourself could get into a bit of trouble.”

“I don’t need arms to protect myself. The beautiful body that your prying eyes were trying to see is rather capable when it comes to defense.”

“And capable when it comes to other things as well?”

“Watch yourself Nord, or you’ll see just how capable, and not the in a way you’d like.”

Itar chuckled and asked her where she stayed.

“I’ve made my home in these wild lands for many years now. I suggest you move away from them if you value your life.”

“Afraid I can’t do that. You see my expedition has finally found a suitable place to settle down. We’re building a village close to here.”

“It has been a long time since I’ve had the company of others, even if they are Nords. I’d like to stay with you awhile, and the knowledge I have of the wild beasts around here will be more than enough to pay for my board.”

“Very well, if you are ready, I will show you back to my village.”

Upon reaching the village the Bosmer lady seemed fascinated with the wooden structures under construction. The Nord workmen were equally enthralled with her lithe figure. Itar quickly reminded them who had found her however. She was different from the stereotypical, cannibalistic, tree-loving Bosmer he had heard of. She refused to hurt any living plant, but she would eat food he prepared and insisted that his hut be expanded enough to accommodate her. Itar had no wife that would come in a few months, when the village was complete, and felt the Bosmer was his best chance to get one.

By the time the village was complete and the wives and children had arrived, Itar and his Bosmer wife, Eraldil, had had a child. The young boy looked like a Bosmer, but it was obvious to all that his Nordic blood ran strong, and he would be a large, strong lad.

Itar thought it befitting, given the name of his axe, and enchanted Wolf’s Bane with the soul of the wolf he had killed before meeting Eraldil at the pond. Soon after enchanting the axe he had a horrible nightmare.
In this nightmare Itar was wandering in the woods when a wolf lunged at him. He cleaved the wolf in two. Upon looking at the dead body, he was horrified to find that it was actually his own son. Hero took this as a sign that if he continued to use Wolf’s Bane he would kill his own son with it. From then on he stowed it away, waiting for his son to come of age, at which time he would hand the axe down to him.

Many years down the road, Itar had long since forgotten the dream, and all of his other troubles. Today, his son would become a man.

“Lupus, son, I wish to continue with you a tradition that my grandfather started with my father. This is the family axe, Wolf’s Bane. Now, I wish for you to have it.”

“Father, it is such a magnificent weapon!”

“As a man I expect you to find your own wife soon, start a family, and for that you will need your own home. So, go out and fell some trees, gather your friends and start construction.”

“Yes father!”

Ever since he got the weapon Lupus had been having horrible nightmares. A wolf would come and tell him to kill his father. Every time he would deny the wolf, but every time it got harder to do so. Once, he found himself awake in the middle of the night, standing over his father’s bed, Wolf’s Bane in hand. Horrified, he ran back to his home and threw the axe to a corner.

Why was he having such dreams? What was this wolf, and why did it want his father dead? Worse yet, how could Lupus get it to stop, before he carried out the wolf’s evil wishes? In a cold sweat, he finally found a few hours of sleep.

As the weeks passed however, he had more and more nights like this. He also awoke at times to find that he had killed wild animals, and though Wolf’s Bane was always nearby, he hadn’t used it. Instead, his hands were bloody, and the taste of raw meat filled his mouth. Eventually, these things would happen during the day as well. While gathering lumber in the woods he would black out for hours at a time, and wake up over the corpse of an animal. This occurred for a few weeks, before he finally decided to see his father about it. He got ready early one morning, and grabbing Wolf’s Bane, set out for his father, only to black out before he reached the door.

Itar heard screams nearby. Female screams, a Bosmer female to be exact. He rushed to their source, his new axe in hand. He quickly reached the pond that his wife so loved, and found her standing waist deep in water with a hungry wolf, standing on two legs, just feet from her.

“Come here you evil beast, I’ve got the cure for your curse right here!” Yelled Itar, just as he remembered that his new axe wasn’t silver or enchanted.

The werewolf lunged at Itar, throwing the axe from his hands, and sending Itar flying into some nearby bushes. Upon landing, Itar saw that his son’s axe was lying nearby.

“honoured user! What have you done to my son you evil beast? I’ll make you pay!”

The werewolf lunged at Itar, and Itar brought his old axe down, cleaving it clean in two. Itar rushed to his wife, giving her a large kiss and hugging her tight in his arms.

“Dearest love, are you okay? Please tell me that evil beast didn’t hurt you.”

Eraldil only sobbed out a deep cry, pointing hysterically at the werewolf’s body. With great horror Itar saw that his son lay in two bloody piles, where the dead werewolf had been.
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Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 07:01 PM
Post #64


Agent

Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Unknown (stargazey)


The Altmer

He got off the silt strider in Ald-Ruhn and quickly made his way over to the Ald-Skar Inn and got a room. He could not believe his stupidity; he knew the Morag Tong would be after him in a matter of days, so he needed to move quickly. He left his room and went to the nearest clothier and bought the most common clothes he could find. He then went next door and bought some arrows, a short sword, a bow, a helm that covered his face and some repair tongs. As he ran back to the inn he looked everywhere to make sure that nobody was following him. When he arrived back at the inn he dashed into his room, closed the door, and pushed the chest in front of it. He cursed his stupidity and his arrogance. He asked himself why he had done it, but couldn’t find a reason. He needed to stop thinking about the past and start thinking about the future.
He put on the clothes and the helm, shoved the short sword into its sheath and put the bow on his back. He could not stay in any location too long, so he left the inn and debated whether to take the guild guide or the silt strider. There were fewer witnesses if he went by Silt Strider but going by guild guide was quicker. If anything, he needed to move quickly, so he went to the Mage’s Guild and transported to Balmora. He had a friend he could stay with and knew that he could get everything he needed from the South Wall. He went over to Nine-Toes house and knocked on the door. When Nine-Toes answered the first thing he said was, “What has happened, Isendel?”
He walked in to the house, and sat down on the bed and nursed his head in his hands. “What has happened, Isendel?”
“I killed a man”
Nine-Toes was so relieved that he nearly laughed “Is that all, old friend? All you must do is go over to see Phane Rialle at the South Wall and this whole matter will go away.”
“It wasn’t just any man, he was a….Morag Tong assassin”
Nine-Toes was silent for a moment and when he spoke it was in a lowered voice “Was this an accident?”
“No, no it wasn’t, I meant to kill him, he was a disgrace to Mephala and a dishonorable assassin.”
“Even so, good friend, you can not kill members of the brotherhood. You know the penalty is death.”
At this point, Isendel stood up “What should I do? I know the Morag Tong will hunt me and eventually slay me. I can think of no way out, you know they will show me no mercy.” Nine-Toes nodded and paced around his small house, thinking about his friend’s predicament. “The first thing we must do is disguise you. For that we will need to see my friends Meldor, and Bivale Teneran.”
Walking over to Nine-Toes, Isendel said "I put my faith in you, old friend."

They first went over to Meldor the armorer, athe closest armorer and, to Isendel, a most skilled one. Nine-Toes had recommended that they go to Meldor because Nine-Toes had helped him out of a fight with some Cammona Tong thugs. As they made their way over to the armorer, Isendel kept an eye out, always thinking an assassin was going to jump from a rooftop or spring out of an alleyway. Nine-Toes had recommended they travel at night, right before the shop was to close.
As they crossed the Odai River, an arrow flew past Isendel’s head and nearly missed Nine-Toes. Nine-Toes pushed Isendel to the ground, pulled out his sword and began to sprint in the opposite direction. Isendel slowly crawled toward the other side of the river and ran towards the nearest alleyway, where he drew his bow and entered into the fight. The minute he had emerged from the alleyway an arrow hit him in the arm, sending him back in pain. He fled back into the alleyway, leaned against the wall, and laid in wait for any other assailants. He waited for a few moments and then heard a sound that shivered his blood. Nine-Toes had screamed in pain, a thump, and then, a few moments later, a splash. Isendel knew that Nine-Toes had either been hurt or killed, but he also knew that if he remerged he would be killed.
He sprinted towards the other end of the alley and hurtled towards the door of the Dunmer Temple. He felt the arrows and throwing stars fly past him, but he knew he needed to keep running. When he was at the front door of the Temple he knocked as hard as he could with his wounded arm and when the door opened he nearly fell in. The priest that answered the door was one that Isendel had talked to before in Balmora, Telis Salvani. “Isendel, what is the matter? What happened to your arm?”
“……block…..door…..assassins…..after….me”
Telis pulled Isendel into the Temple and laid him down on the bed closest to the door. He put some corkbulb and wickwheat on Isendel’s wound and sat down on the chair next to the bed. “Tell me what has happened.”

The pain in Nine-Toes’ arm, leg, and chest was blinding. He had woken up in the water and quickly brought his head up. His years of training with the blades and his water breathing ability were the only things that had preserved him for those hours he had been underwater. He had swum to the nearest beach and looked at down at his clothes. Through the water he could still see the blood stains from scratches all over his body. He climbed up and walked to Moonmooth Fort where he healed and repaired his weapons. He slept in the wilderness and returned to Balmora early the next day. He knew he couldn’t tell the guards, as Morag Tong assassinations were sanctioned by the Empire. He went back to his house and locked the door. He noticed that some of his things had been moved and he saw muddy footprints all over the floor. The assassins had been here, but he didn’t know if they’d be back.

Isendel had slept fitfully during the night, but Telis had given him a potion; it tasted like guar hide, but it made the throbbing pain in his right arm go away nonetheless. He had taken his armor and weapons and was on his way out, but Telis insisted that he stay and study for a few days. He had said that the Morag Tong would face quite a fight if they tried to storm the Temple. Isendel wasn’t even a member of the Temple and thus was surprised by their generosity to an outlander. They meditated, studied, and trained for most of the day and they agreed that Isendel would set out at midnight with some powerful scrolls, restore health potions and invisibility potions. Isendel was torn about whether or not to stop at Nine-Toes house and after much deliberation decided he owed him an apology but didn’t want to endanger him further. He decided to write a note and leave it under Nine-Toes door.
He set out at midnight as agreed and headed to Vivec, where he could get lost in the great city. He knew getting that close to the Morag Tong headquarters was dangerous, but he could risk it. He took the guild guide to Vivec, and as he walked out the door of the Mages Guild he quaffed an Invisibility potion, disappearing into the crowd.

Eno Hlaalu was pacing throughout his office intently when he was interrupted by Talos Dral running into the room, his dagger drawn and dripping with blood. “He is in Vivec. We ambushed him and his companion on the Odai River in Balmora. We hit Isendel with an arrow and grievously wounded the companion, an Argonian.”
Eno was troubled by this news “You failed to kill him?” Talos nodded, “This is most disappointing, Talos.” walking over to Talos, Eno lowered his voice, “You will find him in Vivec, and kill him and anyone with him. You will also take our two best thralls.”
Talos, taken aback by this, lowered his voice “Yes, Grandmaster.”
As Eno turned away from Talos and went to get something from his desk, Talos wanted nothing more than to plunge his tanto into the back of Hlaalu’s neck, but he controlled the urge. When Eno turned around he had a beautiful, glistening daedric dagger in his hands. “Use this to kill him. It is called the Blade of Vengeance and it is used to make traitors experience immense pain before they die.”
Talos took the blade in his hand and looked at its magnificence, its jagged edges, and its short, sharp blade. This blade was legendary; it had been used in some of the most important executions. Hlaalu Councilor Dram Bero, Baladas Demnevanni, and Telvanni Councilor Therana had all fallen to its might. As Talos held the blade he felt power, power of which he’d never felt the like. “Thank you Grandmaster. His execution will be swift and honorable.” The thralls were waiting in the foyer of the guild, both dressed in chitin armor and wielding silver daggers enchanted with a poison spell. As soon as they were in the basement of the Arena, Talos pulled his dagger out of his sheath and killed both of the thralls in two quick stabs. He brought the bodies into a small room and made it look like a murder suicide. He put the old blade in one of the thralls’ hands and put the Blade of Vengeance into his sheath.
Talos was a tall, thin, dunmer with a scar above his left eye. This scar held bitter memories from his childhood. When Talos was a young man, his father lashed out and hit his mother. Talos picked up his father’s dagger and plunged into his father’s back. When his father spun around, he had a glass in his hand. He swung it at Talos’s head and blinded his son in one eye, leaving him with a scar. His father had been in the Morag Tong and was a greatly honored assassin, but nobody could blame Talos for what he had done.
When Talos emerged from the basement of the Arena, it was a clear and breezy day. He first took a gondola to the Foreign Quarter where he would by some plain clothes and repair his armor and weapons. The merchants he dealt with knew his profession; they did not ask him any questions dealing with him quickly and efficiently. The Morag Tong’s spies had reported seeing Isendel leaving the Mage’s Guild in the Foreign Quarter hours ago and had since been following him. He met up with one of the spies, Vera Lovarious, at the Black Shalk Cornerclub, a convenient location for both of them. Vera was a tall, beautiful, and deadly Imperial. Her favored method of execution was to slowly stalk her mark and then pounce, striking quickly. She was sitting at the farthest table in the back of the bar. wore glass boots and netch leather cuirass, and Talos could see she had a Daedric tanto at her waist.
He walked over to her table, after buying a jug of Sujamma, and sat down and asked her, “What have you heard?”
Her reply was low and cool “I saw him walking towards the Temple Canton, but he could’ve been going to St. Olms or St. Delyn.”
“How was he armed?”
“He was wearing Netch Leather and was carried a silver shortsword”
He thought for a moment, and then asked “Any companions?”
“No, but we believe he is going to meet someone.”
Talos drained the last drops of Sujamma from his jug and then stood up “I’ll see you around, Vera.”
She stayed seated and said “Sooner rather then later.” She smiled and took a swig of her flin. He walked out of the bar and set out for the Temple.

Isendel was very worried. He had asked Telis if he knew anyone that he could stay with in Vivec. He had said “See my friend, Eris Telas. He’s in High Fane in the Temple Canton of Vivec. I will send word of your arrival.” Isendel looked everywhere in High Fane for Eris, but was unable to find him. He had waited outside of High Fane for hours. He had asked the Ordinators if they had seen Eris, but they weren’t very responsive. He had gone into the Library of Vivec and had waited until nightfall. When he emerged from High Fane he saw the many Ordinators huddled around what seemed to be a body. Isendel went over to one of the Ordinators and asked the name of the dead man. “Eris Telas” said an Ordinator. Isendel took a step back, stunned for a moment, his face as white as a sheet. They knew that Eris was linked to Isendel and now Eris was lying in a pool of blood in Vivec. Isendel didn’t know what to do. His first instinct was to run, to run like hell, perhaps return to Summerset Isle. But Isendel knew that he could never escape this. He had to stay here and fight. He walked past the crowd that was steadily growing around Eris’ body and walked to the gondolier and said one word; “Arena.”

Nine-Toes sat on his bed, reading Isendel's note and deep in thought, when there was a knock on the door. Nine-Toes picked up the ebony shortsword that he kept under his pillow and walked to the door. When he opened the door, all he saw was a dwarven crossbow pointed at his face. Before he even had a chance to swing his sword he felt the bolt peirce his temple and then all was black.

Talos had been watching Isendel from atop the St. Olms Canton all night. He enjoyed seeing Isendel squirm as he discovered the priest’s body. Talos had taken a quick trip to Balmora to finish off Nine-Toes, the Argonian with which Isendel had been seen. He had taken the body and stuffed it in a crate in the basement. He then set off for the Temple Canton and killed the priest. He had dragged the body to right in front of High Fane, making it impossible to miss. He felt no remorse for killing these innocents, as they obstructed his termination of Isendel. He saw Isendel take the gondola and knew that his trap had worked. He jumped off his perch and sprinted back to the Arena to intercept Isendel as he got off the boat.

Isendel got off the boat and drew his sword. As he was walking toward the entrance of the Arena waistworks, he felt someone behind him.
He immediately moved out of the line of fire and turned to see someone all too familiar to him standing behind him, Talos, a Morag Tong assassin, for who Isendel felt the utmost loathing for. “So Talos, you’re the best the Morag Tong could do?”
Talos laughed a coarse, throaty laugh “Well, Isendel, it’s been a long time. We’ll see who is the better assassin soon enough.”
During this banter, Isendel readied his specially enchanted throwing stars in his pocket. The moment Talos was done speaking, Isendel threw one right at Talos’ sword hand, simultaneously casting a paralysis spell on Talos. Isendel then pulled his sword out of sheath and pressed it up against Talos’ throat “Well, Talos, It seems I hold your fate in my hands.”
Talos was sweating and the spell was starting to wear off. “Should I kill you? Or should I slash you with my sword and leave you to die?” The spell had worn off, but Talos didn’t dare move. “I will show you the same honor you would show me.” Isendel took the sword away from Talos’ throat and raised it to finish him off. In an instant Talos lay in a crumpled heap at Isendel's feet. Isendel wiped the blood of his sword, took the Dagger of Vengeance out of Talos’ sheath, and proceeded to the Arena waistworks.


Isendel had killed Foryin Feltah, a much respected and revered assassin. He had killed him because Mephala had come to him in a dream and given him the instruction. He had killed Foryin swiftly and honorably, as the Morag Tong code insisted. He had tried to tell Eno Hlaalu that Foryin was executing slavers and becoming a dangerous vigilante, but Eno simply would not listen. Rather than let this disgrace live, Isendel had taken matters into his own hands, stabbing Foryin as he stepped into his house. He had left the body as if a suicide had been committed, but Isendel knew it was in vain. When Isendel slipped into the Morag Tong Headquarters he immediately drank a potion of invisibility and quickly moved to the Grandmaster’s room. When the potion had worn off, Isendel was standing in front of Eno with his dagger drawn.
“So, Isendel. You have evaded the assassins and come to face the master?”
Isendel tightened his grip on the sword and spoke. “You know that what Foryin did was unjust and disgraceful to everything we stand for.”
Eno laughed and said “I support the anti-slavery movement, I wasn’t about to issue a writ for the assassination for someone who was killing those filthy racists.”
Isendal was astonished by this, “You cannot bring your politics into this, Eno. I support the anti-slavery motion also, but Foryin was acting against the law of the Morag Tong. I could not let that stand.”
“And what would you gain by my death? You have already been expelled for the murder of one member, If you murder the Grandmaster you would have a permanent death writ out against you.”
“It’s about Justice, Eno.” At this point Eno had drawn out the Black Hand’s Dagger and was ready to fight. Isendel swung his dagger as hard as he could at Eno’s midsection but it was blocked by Eno’s dagger. They proceeded to fight and parry until Eno had hit Isendel's arm, causing him to drop his dagger.
As Isendel stood there bleeding, Eno prepared to strike, taking his time to perfectly align his thrust. “So, Isendel, it looks as though your quest ends here. You’ve run out options and there is no one to assist you.”
Isendel said not a word as he resigned himself to his fate. He was going to die a traitor’s death and no one would grieve for him. At that moment he felt the dagger pierce his chest and he felt the breath slowly leave his body, as he fell to the ground the whole world went black.

Eno stood over Isendel's body. Even though Isendel had been a traitor, Eno felt no happiness or relief. He picked the body up, put it on the bed, and sat down at the chair at his desk. He felt a kind of loss with the death of Isendel, it had been a game of cat and mouse and now that the mouse was dead, the excitement was gone. The Argonian, Nine-Toes, the two thralls (Eno was unsure of their fate), the priest, and Talos had all died for the sake of Isendel's death. Eno felt sad about this, but he could not bring these people back. He would order Isendel's body thrown into the Sea of Ghosts, with no ceremony.
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Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 07:02 PM
Post #65


Agent

Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Unknown (stargazey)


Berne’s Blood


Sadrith Mora

Raxle sat at the bar of Dirty Muriel’s drinking his flin and watching Muriel flit back and forth serving drinks to various patrons. It was very early in the day but the bar was bustling with business. As always, there were a few drunks looking to fight, but they usually wondered outside and passed out. Raxle was waiting for his friend Aurane; They were scheduled to set out for Ald Sotha that night. They were going to recover an artifact left there by Raxle’s ancestor, Terious. Terious had been a fearsome Imperial Vampire and had headed House Telvanni for many years. During his travels he had collected many rare artifacts, but one stood out among them. The item was called Berne’s Blood, a staff that had supposedly been used by Raxle Berne, the head of the Berne Clan of Vampires. Terious had stolen this staff from the Berne vampires and had fled as far as Ald Sotha when he was surrounded by fifteen vampires. As they all descended upon him, an aspect of Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Vampires, killed everyone in the room in one moment. Raxle believed that Molag Bal had left it for him to find and after thoroughly discussing the matter with Aurane, had decided they should go and see if they could recover the staff from the ruins of Ald-Sotha. Raxle waited in the bar for a few more minutes and then went to stand outside. It was a beautiful day in Vvardenfell and those were few and far between. He paced around outside the bar for a few more moments, but he saw a flash of light next to the Imperial Cult Shrine and knew that Aurane had finally arrived. Divine Intervention was the only way Aurane traveled. He always had an Amulet of Divine Intervention, a spell of Divine Intervention and fifteen scrolls of Divine Intervention. Some called him neurotic, but in the twenty years that Raxle had known Aurane, he had never once gotten in above his head. Aurane walked down the pathway to meet Raxle in his usual extravagantly enchanted shirt, pants, and shoes. Raxle had told him to tone down his flamboyant wardrobe, but Aurane said the enchantments helped him fight, so Raxle had backed down. “All hail Glowy, lord of the Bretons” Aurane laughed his deep laugh and said “Someday you’ll thank me, Raxle”. They then set out for the docks and the rest of their trip.

When they arrived in Vivec’s dock it was nine in the morning and the sun shone bright upon the water. They walked past the great city and stopped and gazed at the beauty of the Foreign Quarter in the freshly risen sun. They started their walk over to Ald Sotha, the wind at their back. Raxle was dressed in glass and ebony armor and was carrying an enchanted Daedric Dai-Katana he had nicknamed Godsbane. Aurane was armed with a dwarven crossbow, a Glass Jinxblade and a Daedric Dagger. During the short walk to Ald-Sotha, Raxle felt that someone was watching them, but every time he glanced over his shoulder there was nothing he could see. When they saw the startling beauty of Ald-Sotha in the distance, they knew that it would be fraught with Daedric beasts waiting to attack them. The first thing they encountered was a Nord named Rolf the Seal, he was apparently an adventurer who was grievously wounded after a fight inside Ald-Sotha. Aurane walked up to him and gave him a restore health potion and asked him what had attacked him.
When Rolf spoke it was in a barely audible whisper “Vampires, tons of them. They’re fighting with Ordinators, spells and swords. I just went in there to loot the place.”
Aurane then asked him “How do you feel?”
Rolf laughed and said “Beside the stinging pain in my arm? Well, now that you mention it, I feel kind of queasy.”
Aurane pulled his Daedric Dagger out and slit Rolf’s throat before anyone could react. Raxle, taken aback, yelled “What in the hell did you do that for?”
Aurane cleaned his blade, returned it to it’s sheath, and then said “He was infected with Porphyric Hemophilia, and by the look of it, he was in the final stages before becoming a Vampire.”
Raxle was stunned “How do you know?”
“My father was a very powerful healer and treated my adventurers and mages. Whenever he saw someone feeling like this he’d ask how they felt. They always felt queasy. He’d tell them this then give them the option of leaving and trying to treat it or letting him kill them. They always let him kill them; it put them out of their suffering.”
For a moment, Raxle was shocked by his friend’s brutality, but then realized that he had been right to kill Rolf. When they got to the door of the shrine Raxle turned to Aurane and asked if she was ready. Aurane gulped and nodded. They opened the door and were met by four vampires, all wielding glistening, enchanted ebony shortswords.
Aurane grinned, “Two and Two”.
Raxle sprinted at two of the vampires with Godsbane swinging wildly, while Aurane cast paralyze on his two and then went to work with his Daedric Dagger. Raxle struck the first Vampire twice in the stomach and hit the second one twice in the face, they both crumpled in a heap at his feet. Raxle put his sword back in his sheath and said to Aurane “Did you get hit?” Aurane shook his head no.
They proceeded down the stairs to the door to of the shrine, where they readied their weapons, drank their restore health potions, and readied themselves for what was sure to be some of the worst combat they had ever faced.
Raxle turned to Aurane and said “I’ll go in first, slashing with Godsbane, and you bring up the rear, shooting spells.” Aurane just nodded, apparently at a loss for words.
Aurane pushed open the door to the shrine and let his friend run through with his sword waving. Aurane began shooting spells of fireball, frostball, and paralysis over Raxle’s shoulder. Inside the shrine there were thirty people. Twelve Ordinators with enchanted Indoril Armor and Eighteen Vampires all wielding and wearing Ebony. Aurane’s paralysis spells hit two vampires and four ordinators, but the fireballs hit everyone inside except Raxle.
Raxle ran into the fray with his sword pointed straight out, ready to hit anything that got in his way. An Ordinator turned to Raxle and said “What are you doing here? This is a temple excursion for the elimination of these Vampire scum.”
Raxle laughed and just said “I’m here for the loot”. The Ordinator turned away from Raxle and hit a Vampire square across the face with his ebony mace. Raxle swung Godsbane and quickly took down one vampire and wounded another. He heard a blood curdling yell and quickly turned to his left, only to see two vampires being struck down by Aurane’s fireballs. Aurane then pulled out his crossbow and rained bolts down upon the crowd. Raxle was taking down Ordinators and Vampires alike, leaving no one alive. He pulled his sword out of the chest of a Vampire and looked over his shoulder to see a Vampire standing over Aurane’s body holding Berne’s Blood in one hand and Aurane’s crossbow in the other. He was wearing a full suit of Daedric Armor and a disgusting, blood stained smile upon his face. The Ordinators continued to battle with the few remaining Vampires, but Raxle saw what he had come for. He walked over to the Vampire and said “What you have is mine.”
“Come and get it, mortal.” the Vampire laughed. Raxle swung Godsbane with all his strength and hit the Vampire in his midsection. The Vampire feel to his knees and was gasping for breath, be he still managed to utter his last words “You will join me.” Raxle knelt down and picked up Berne’s Blood from the Vampire’s corpse. Raxle had gotten the artifact, but he had also gotten something else. He had become a Vampire.
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Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 07:03 PM
Post #66


Agent

Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Re-Lan (Argonians rule)


Tribal wars Volume: 1
By Re-Lan


In the middle of black marsh lived two warring argonian tribes. They were called the Murkwater tribe and the Swamp Root tribe. Their chieftains were Ral-Jar of the murkwater and Run-Ke of the Swamp Root. Their war had been going on as long as they could remember. They were also equally matched in strength. Each tribe had about 500 warriors in it.

One day Run-Ke took his tribe and attacked the murkwater village. He killed many of their tribe. Ral-Jar and one hundred of his toughest escaped. Run-Ke's troops rejoiced at having finally destroyed their enemy. They celebrated all night at the ruins of the village. Ral-Jar equipped each soldier with a bow and waited till the enemy warriors stopped celebrating and went to sleep. Then his men began shooting the sleeping warriors. They fired volley after volley, and killed most of Run-Ke's men while they slept. But the scream of one argonian woke the rest and seeing the enemy just beyond the ruins Run-Ke attacked. The Murkwater warriors were still using bows and were cut to pieces by Run-Ke's spear warriors.

After a vicious battle only Run-Ke and Ral-Jar were left alive. They battled with their sword's for 3 days until Run-Ke finally fell. Ral-Jarsaw the corpses surrounding him and knew that He was the last left alive. Ral-Jar went into despair then and pulled a knife from his belt he cut his wrists and as he lay dying Ral-Jar knew then that war solves nothing and The battle meant nothing as they all had died.

Note From Re-Lan: I was journeying Black Marsh when I discovered this battle scene, and found Ral-Jar when he cut his wrists. As the minutes until his doom slipped away he told me the story. He said as his dying wish that I put it in writing so that others will read it and perhaps not be compelled to go to war. I have granted my part of his wish and hope that the reader can grant theirs by never taking up arms against another.
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Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 07:05 PM
Post #67


Agent

Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Thi'netel (Corryn)


Last Mission of the Bal Molagmer - Part 1 Author – Thi’netel

Clouds moved across the pale moon once again. The guard at the gate, hearing a noise off to his left, turned quickly. Behind him a shadow slipped past the torch light, quickly dissolving into the gloom of the night.

Shien moved swiftly to the next wall looming over her head and paused to listen. On the other side creatures were nosing around. She climbed up nimbly and peered over briefly before ducking back down. “Oh great, I wasn’t expecting dogs.” She slid down quietly and crawled. The dogs’ ears perked up but did not turn. She waited still until they moved on and she inched forward again. Several times they returned, causing agonizingly slow progress, but finally she managed to move past their patrol.

Finally to the castle she looked up at the towering structure. “Heh, they sure build them big in Cyrodiil. Now let’s see, where did I put that parchment?” After some rummaging through her supplies she pulled out a scroll and kneeled, looking over her assignment again, hurriedly.

Bal Molagmer
For Member, Shien Triseal

In the City of Cyrodiil, of the providence of Cyrodiil. In the
manor of Hlaalu the representative of the providence of
Morrowind.

The mark is two items this time Shien. I know that is
irregular, but as you realize these are desperate times. The
first is the Twin Stone. It is a magical gem that has a unique
unlocking charm that can open any slave’s bracer. This one
grab could do more good than almost anything else we have
ever done, not to mention that with so many newly freed allies
we may be able to save the guild. The second and possibly
more important is the gloves of the Bal Molagmer and it is
imperative they be recovered. They represent all that we
stand for and are a symbol for the guild itself. Even should
all else be lost they will inspire future generations to rebuild
and use their gifts to help instead of only for greed. If the
gloves are not brought back then we truly will lose. Both
were taken from Thiska after he tried to acquire the stone
the first time.

Remember you must memorize this message and destroy it
before you leave the guild. And for once would you
please listen to me on this Shien. Take care child.

-Fris


Shien chuckled softly, “Good old Fris. The guild has been his whole world for years now, and even as it falls down around us, he still insists we follow code.”

Her faint laughter faded to grim silence as she remembered her last few moments in the guild. The mad scrabble to escape as Camonna Tong poured in through the entrance. She grabbed her gear with her last assignment before slipping out one of the many hidden exits. “I hope the others got out okay.” she sighed bitterly.

Suddenly she stood with renewed spirit. “I’m not going to let you down Fris.” She promised as she began studying the castle wall. Picking out every chink and niche in the wall she plotted a path and began to climb. Stopping at the first window she glanced in quickly. Many people dressed in expensive looking clothing were arguing over financial matters.

“No good,” she said glancing up, “Better try the next one.” As she began to climb again the window above her opened. Shien pulled herself as close as she could to the wall and froze. A snippet of a conversation came drifting out of the window “…and no ma’am I just finished the masters laundry and dinner won’t…” only to be followed by soapy water that sloshed through drenching Shien before the window closed once more.

“The glamorous life of a thief,” she muttered crossly and resumed her long climb. Arms burning from the effort, she lifted herself onto the roof. She moved toward the door and began to study it with a well-practiced eye. “Hmm, good lock…looks like it was made in High Rock... made of steel with ebony tracing...let’s see…ah this one” she said feeling more cheerful. Locks always had been her favorite. “A few quick turns with a back pick, insert an Altmeri probe, and turn slightly left and…. got it.”

She eased the door open and peered inside. Dark. Shien slipped inside quickly and shut the door smiling. “Let the games begin.”
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Troika
post Mar 13 2006, 07:06 PM
Post #68


Agent

Joined: 30-March 05
From: Berlin, Germany



Section: Stories

Written by Unknown (niceguy5)


The Black Everest: Part I

Lessons Of Life

“Before you fight, find out what you're fighting for.”

This was a common thing said around the temple. The monks lived by this. "When I was a child I always had a feeling that I was suppose to be fighting for something, but what was I fighting for?" This quote has driven my life, to find a purpose
_____________________________________________________________

My back was against the wall, and it was the biggest mistake of my life. Gangsarr boxed me in, western style but when you pin someone to the wall all you want to do (in order to win) is beat the living hell out of ‘em. But I didn’t blame him. There were no rules in this fight. I tried to keep my guard up but I was getting weary. Left right left right.
My arms were numb now from the hits. I felt pain all over my body; it was as if I was being attacked by a pack of wolves on all sides. I was. I thought I was going to die, to be honest. Beat up to death in this arena…by my best friend too. What a great way to die. There was nothing to do at this point. I threw my
body at him; another stupid mistake. We rolled on the ground. “Ahhhh!” I heard a popping noise. It was Gangsarr. He had dislocated his left arm.

We looked at each other, deep in the eyes. I expected to see a monster, a beast that had ripped out of my friend’s insides and taken control of him. Possessed him. But when I saw his eyes… oh, his soft, cool eyes, I knew he was still there and he was scared. The crowd was cheering; the arena was filled with noise. The monks were off their feet and cheering for us. I smiled. I had to make my final hit count; it had to be the killing blow. I saw Gangsarr’s stance, it was the Cycle of Blood; an old Redguard fighting style. Both my arms came up (symmetrically) to where I could see them, in front of my chest.

I took a deep breath and slowly opened both palms. I took a defensive position. The ancient Rain-of-Sand fighting styles of Elsweyr. Before a battle, Nords yell their best battle cry; they are famous for it. And so was Gangsarr. I was scared as hell and the arena was quiet. “Ahhhhargghh!!!” He was charging at me. My palms were still open. He was running so fast. My feet dug into the wet ground. Here he comes… And then, and then I wasn’t sure what happened next, it was all a blur.

But I found myself looking up into the terrace; the sky was so beautiful. “Dane…” It was Gangsarr’s soft low voice but it sounded so weak so…lost. “Yes?” “You fight like hell brother”. I smiled. All of the long years we shared together in this temple, I never realized we were brothers. From the blood and the sweat to the punches and kicks and from the broken bones and bruises we exchanged. We became brothers. The giant Nord and the skinny Breton. Perfect. I could hear a raucous going about in the stands. The monks were leaving the arena. “Bravo, bravo” Master Zhul knelt before us. “A very good match indeed” He smiled. His face was filled with energy and excitement. I felt so defeated so exhausted Gangsarr felt the same way too I bet. “Master, I –“He placed a finger on his wrinkled lips ‘Ssshhhh” he whispered. I couldn’t see what he was doing but I felt an aura inside and around my body. It was healing me, easing the pain. Did I hit him? Did I hit him? It didn’t matter anymore; it was over. A draw.
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