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> I am Lena Wolf, Lena's life as it happens
Lena Wolf
post Aug 29 2021, 11:33 AM
Post #221


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From: Bravil



28 Sun's Height, 4E202 - Corvus Umbranox

"I've been waiting for you, Assassin" - Corvus Umbranox turned to face Lena as she walked up the stairs of the abandoned house in Anvil, a wraith following her. "I won't be much of a challenge now, your wraith has been sucking the life out of me every night."

"Yet you kept coming back to this house to rest" - Lena raised an eyebrow.

"Then perhaps you are a better mage than you know - the wraith haunted me in my sleep, regardless of where I was."

Lena smiled, realising that it was indeed the true Wrath of Sithis. If she had been granted the power to summon it... She wasn't sure what to think of that.

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"Anyhow, I am glad you are finally here" - Corvus continued. "You destroyed my Guild and the Skyrim Guild, yet hadn't come for me so far... I was to watch it all - I get it" - he smirked. "Was it my wife's idea?" - he glared at her.

"No, the idea was mine" - Lena put a lot of charm into her smile. "But it was to fulfil your wife's wishes."

"Which were..?" - his brows furrowed.

"To make your life a misery for at least half a year before your demise."

"Ah" - he grimaced. "That figures."

"Tell me" - Lena looked at him as if she wished nothing more but to continue their pleasant conversation. "Who is the Grandmaster of your Guild these days?"

"I am, of course" - Corvus smiled.

"Then where is your cowl?"

Corvus frowned. "I am not touching that any more. Not with Nocturnal's curse on it - and no one has been able to lift it."

"So where is it then?"

"Why do you care?" - he looked at Lena with suspicion. "You are not a Nightingale."

"No, I am an Assassin" - Lena agreed. "But shadow hides us both. I would return the cowl to Nocturnal."

"Well, it's in Kvatch, if you must know" - Corvus said defiantly. "It is stashed away in a safe place."

"Where, exactly?" - Lena's patience was running thin, although she tried to hide it.

"Have you been to Kvatch at all?" - Corvus raised an eyebrow.

"Not recently."

"Riiiight" - the light of understanding shone on his face. "Not after... I see" - he nodded. "Well, you will find it cleaned up these days, it smells a lot better too, although some of the folks who lived through that nightmare, still cannot shake it off." He paused, looking Lena over, as if trying to remember something. Lena waited for him to continue. "Your face seems familiar... haven't we met?"

"I doubt it" - Lena shook her head. "I was never a member of the Thieves Guild."

"No, but those stories... About a young Breton girl closing all those gates... Blond, amber-eyed... Went into the gate at Kvatch, didn't you?"

"That was a long time ago" - Lena said dismissively. "In another lifetime."

"It seems not" - Corvus sat down behind his desk, rammaging through some papers. "Champion of Cyrodiil" - he pulled out a scroll, looking at Lena with a mocking smile. "Here is a request for the retrieval of one suit of Dragon Legion Armour made for a short female of a slender build." He looked her over. "Yours, I presume. It is said to be in an unused condition." He was now grinning ear to ear, finding the situation highly amusing.

"And have you managed to retrieve it yet?" - Lena asked indifferently.

"No, we are still searching" - he looked puzzled. "You were supposed to be dead. For some two hundred years, yet here you are."

"And you were supposed to be happily married and preside over Anvil with the Countess at your side, yet here you are, and I have a contract on your life" - she retorted with irritation.

"She is doing very well without me" - he spat angerily. "Have you seen the new harbour? Do you know how much that cost? And where the money came from?"

Lena had indeed seen the new harbour - the construction was going on for some time, but now that it was finished, it made Anvil into a real Ocean Harbour town. She wondered what took them so long, not suprised by the development.

"They've done a good job."

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"On my money!" - he glared at her again. "It had been long enough since my disappearance that the Empire had released my private funds to my wife! And what does she do? Go and spend it all on a fancy harbour!"

"Well no, let's be fair now" - Lena smiled slyly. "Some of it was spent on a fee to the Dark Brotherhood." She thrust her dagger into his heart - she'd had enough of that conversation. The Wrath of Sithis vanished with a screech.

"Well, that fulfils the contract" - she thought with satisfaction. Corvus Umbranox was a most irritating man. She pulled his corpse off the chair and sat behind his desk, looking through the papers.

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As the Guildmaster, Umbranox only had the most important contracts - "requests", as he called them. She looked at the one for her suit of Dragon Legion armour - the signature meant nothing to her. "Some crazy collector of Oblivion Crisis memorabilia" - she figured, dismissing it. There was a request for a staff hidden in the Arch Mage's quarters, allegedly belonging to another mage; an important ring given as a gift to a lover who had since vanished; a propylon index allegedly stolen from the rightful owner and now residing in the Imperial Archives of Dwemer Cultur and Artefacts; a dagger... no, two daggers: Mehrune's Razor and the Eviscerator. These requests attracted Lena's attention - the Eviscerator was her great-uncle's dagger, she found it in one of his stashes in the Deepscorn Hollow. It was wanted by one... Rayenna, residing in the Anvil Lighthouse. She gave no whereabouts of the dagger, but agreed to pay a hefty sum for its retrieval, including the disclosure of its whereabouts. Lena stashed this scroll in her pack - she had the feeling Rayenna would be back some day. The second dagger - Mehrune's Razor - was wanted by one Silus Vesuius from Dawnstar in Skyrim. There was a note on the parchment in another hand - Sundercliff Watch, East of Lake Canulus. "Well, this sounds like an adventure!" - Lena mused, copying the note into her journal. "We wanted to explore that area anyway."

The other papers were of no interest to her, she put them back into the desk and closed the drawers.

The evening was misty when she came out, you could hardly see the next building in the fog. A passing guard stopped her.

"There's been a report of an assault at the abandoned house - someone heard the screams. You're just coming out of it, and am I going to find a dead body inside?" - he asked rather politely.

"Yes, I am sorry to say that the resident had met with an unfortunate accident" - Lena nodded. "Fell off his chair and had a heart attack."

"I see" - the guard rubbed his chin. "We have orders from the Countess to watch out for him - he was known to have a weak heart. I'll clean up the corpse, but you still have to pay a fine for assault. Or go to jail" - he looked at her with hope.

"I'll pay the fine" - Lena produced her purse to the guard's disappointment.

He took her 40 septims and went busily about his business - to arrange for a clean-up or to find the nearest tavern, whichever came first.

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"Fourty septims is all that man's life was worth to the law" - she thought. "At least our fees are much more proportionate."

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

Countess Umbranox had comissioned the following improvements to the harbour: Anvil Harbor Expansion and Dockside Coffee House, with her own modifications to the original plans.


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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macole
post Aug 30 2021, 06:44 AM
Post #222


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Those are two nice additions to the Anvil docks although I'm sure that a little dusting and sprucing up was in order.


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Lena Wolf
post Sep 3 2021, 11:24 AM
Post #223


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From: Bravil



29 Sun's Height, 4E202 - Kvatch

"So, the Cowl of Nocturnal is somewhere in Kvatch..." - Lena was musing over her morning coffee at the Dockside Coffee House in Anvil. "Perhaps I should go see, a lot must have changed in two hundred years."

Lena never returned to Kvatch after that disaster during the Oblivion Crisis. Kvatch had burned, it was horrible, and she could do without the flashbacks. Those blood fountains in Dagon's Oblivion Deadlands... She shuddered. She hadn't been a vampire yet, but she had to drink that blood to survive, and in her mind it became a precursor of what was to come - years of drinking blood to survive... Molag Bal could not have come up with a better catch. It was unfair to the city, but Kvatch did not hold any nice connotations for Lena, and so she stayed away. But perhaps it was time to face her nightmares.

She set off in late morning, arriving at the Kvatch intersection in an hour or two. She would normally take the road on the right and continue on to Skingrad. She stopped for a moment, then took a deep breath and steered Roach left.

The climb up the Kvatch hill was quiet. Nature had all but reclaimed the burned terrain, and no evidence of refugee camps remained. Except of course Lena could see it all with her mind's eye. She steeled herself and continued.

The gate to Kvatch was unguarded. The portcullis was up, and when Lena tried the door, it yielded - there was nothing to stop her from entering. Surely, it couldn't be that bad... Corvus Umbranox did say the city was well cleaned up... Why, there were even some horses in the stables by the gate, so surely someone had arrived and was now inside. Not dead, Lena hoped. Come on, push that door...

...

Kvatch was peaceful. The streets had been resurfaced and re-paved, and no evidence of burning remained, save for some dark patches here and there. The castle was completely rebuilt too - it looked totally different.

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"We simply built a new castle" - the Count explained. "The old one crumbled, and rather than trying to repair it, we demolished it and started again. We have also done away with the wall separating Kvatch West and East - it's all one city now!"

The Count's enthusiasm and cheer seemed genuine, if a bit rehearsed. The Court Steward rolled his eyes.

"The Count gets tired of people still treating Kvatch as a disaster zone. It isn't!"

No, it was indeed nicely cleaned up. Lena walked around the city - it was barely recognisable. All of the buildings had been rebuilt from scratch, just like the castle. All except the chapel, which for some miracle or perhaps through the protection of Akatosh, had not been destroyed.

In the square by the statue Lena saw a familiar face.

"Sigrid?" - she recalled the only surviving mage from the Guild of old. "How have you been?"

"Oh I'm all right" - she looked at Lena with a vacant expression. "Just out for a stroll. The mages are in the Guild Hall down that way" - she pointed the street leading to the Arena. "It's fine, really, it's just the smell... I wish you couldn't smell the burning bodies, that's all I ask... I mean, look at them - just under the surface. It's a little better inside the house, but here in the square... It's even worse on the East side, so I never go there - the smell just cuts your breath..." She looked around, seemingly forgetting all about Lena, and walked off.

"Poor thing" - Lena shook her head. There was no smell in the air.

Lena walked towards the Arena, tried the door - it was locked. "The Arena is temporarily closed for maintenance" - the notice on the door read. She wondered how long it had been closed - a couple of centuries, perhaps? But no, it looked in use... May be she was being overly pessimistic.

The Mages Guild was just across the street. It was a small building - not like the stately halls in other cities. "There can't be all that many mages here" - Lena thought. She entered.

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"Hello, Warlock" - a young red haired Breton greeted Lena. "Welcome to the Kvatch Mages Guild."

"You know me?" - Lena didn't think they'd met before.

"I know of you" - the mage smiled. "You are rather famous for going against the Arch Mage's wishes."

"Oh" - Lena blushed, her cheeks matching the other mage's hair in colour. "I couldn't just kill those people for the sake of Traven's trinkets" - she shrugged. "He can do it himself, if he wants them back."

"I quite agree" - the mage beamed. "We have no problems with necromancy here, thank goodness, even though there is no shortage of bodies in the Chapel Undercroft... and below it. As well as under the streets. They were burnt into the rock, it was not possible to remove them - the Count had to make difficult decisions, he's done his best."

"But some people have not moved on" - Lena observed, thinking of Sigrid.

"Indeed. Which is why we are here. It's just the two of us, and the alchemist in the shop by the chapel. We are new to the town, well, relatively new. We try to help these poor souls, they say our herbals help them sleep. But I've been trying to understand why they can't move on, it's been long enough, surely... Something is keeping them rooted in those events."

"Are there many people like this here?"

"Half a dozen" - the mage sighed. "You'll meet them around town. But there's plenty of fresh folk, too."

They chatted a bit more, then Lena continued her tour of the city. A cluster of wooden shacks stood between stately homes and some smaller middle-class buildings. It was a nice arrangement.

"Oh hello! You finally got here" - someone spoke right next to Lena. She spun around, recognising Batul gra-Sharob.

"Batul!" - she smiled warmly. "You remember me! How have you been? How have you all been here in Kvatch?"

"Oh, we're getting by - trying to make the best of it" - Batul smiled. "I've lost everything, but you know, I've been building it back up, too. We've been waiting for you to return."

"For me? Why?"

"Because you are our hero, and you belong here, Wolf."

"I am no hero!" - Lena protested. "I got lucky! It's Matius and his men who are heroes!"

"Oh, we honour them too, but they are all dead now, of old age. It's been too long for most humans. A few guards from the old days are still around, and they can't shake off the nightmares. We need you to help us, again."

Lena looked into Batul's eyes, serious, sane and pragmatic, as always.

"Ok, what do you want me to do?" - she felt herself being drawn into a task she was not going to enjoy. But how could she refuse?

"I don't know" - Batul answered flatly. "That's just the problem. The mages have been trying to work it out too. Why some of us can't move on. Stay a while, look around, see if you can find some answers. We even have a house here waiting for you - this one" - she pointed at a nice middle-class house down the street. "The Count didn't want to keep it reserved at first, but we the old folk insisted. It's brand new like everything else here" - she hastened to add. "And it's all yours."

"Thank you" - Lena murmured, hoping not to betray their trust. She walked over to the house - there was a sign on the door: "The Wolf Residence".

"We had it magically sealed" - said Batul who followed Lena and now stood behind her. "Only you can enter - it's a blood enchantment, from the blood that you left behind." Lena turned around sharply, a question in her eyes. "Bandages, clothing, bloody handprints" - Batul answered. "There was plenty to choose from in the Chapel Undercroft, and not just yours. I hope we didn't mix it up - try to open the door." Lena touched the door - the lock clicked. "Good" - Batul was satisfied. "It will lock by itself after a while."

"Why do you lock a house that's not lived in?" - Lena asked, feeling surreal.

"Thieves. They've been skulking about. Who knows what they're after - there's nothing to steal here!" - Batul bared her teeth in anger. "It's not like our city had burned down to below its foundations or anything!"

Thieves. "Perhaps they weren't trying to steal anything, but to hide something..." - Lena thought but didn't say it. She thanked Batul and promised to stay a while and see what she could find.

"Good, I'm glad you're back" - Batul smiled, calming down. "See you around." She turned and walked off. Lena entered the house.

It was as Batul had said - brand new, well appointed and nicely furnished, but nothing over the top. "Not a mansion" - Lena thought with satisfaction. There was a desk on the ground floor and a nice cosy lounge with a fireplace, and upstairs was a spacious bedroom, some drawers, some cupboards, a table - the space could be used in many ways. A suit of armour was laid out on a work table - Dragon Legion Armour. Her armour. "How..?" - she wondered, she hadn't seen that suit since... well... since shortly after she got it. She left it in Bruma, in that house that got repossessed while she was away. She had asked the Countess about it, but the Countess was evasive and didn't give an answer. So, that's what happened to it... How strange. May be the Thieves Guild was trying to steal something after all.

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It was all too much to take in, and Lena's head was spinning. She went downstairs into the lounge and sat by the fire with a bottle of wine and some food from her pack. A little peace and quiet would do her good. She'd eat and rest, and leave everything else for tomorrow.

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

Kvatch is mostly Kvatch Finished with some graphics from Kvatch Rebuilt.


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Lena Wolf
post Sep 3 2021, 12:05 PM
Post #224


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Joined: 18-May 21
From: Bravil



QUOTE(macole @ Aug 30 2021, 06:44 AM) *

Those are two nice additions to the Anvil docks although I'm sure that a little dusting and sprucing up was in order.

Indeed! In particular I wanted to connect the harbour with the castle, so I had to build a bridge... I found several mods for Anvil harbour, and for some reason none of them had a bridge there, except a much larger mod New City Anvil (in Russian only), that also modified the city itself and the environments, making it into a real Mediterranean city. But I didn't want to change the city, just the docks... So the Countess rolled up her sleeves and went on marking up all those building proposals with her own ideas. biggrin.gif


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Acadian
post Sep 3 2021, 07:19 PM
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I greatly enjoyed Lena's return visit to Kvatch. It has indeed cleaned up beautifully and I'm so glad you took the time to give Kvatch the TLC it deserves as a very special place. I was especially pleased to hear Lena declare the truism that Savlian Matius was, and always will be, the Hero of Kvatch.


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Lena Wolf
post Sep 3 2021, 08:25 PM
Post #226


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From: Bravil



QUOTE(Acadian @ Sep 3 2021, 07:19 PM) *

I greatly enjoyed Lena's return visit to Kvatch. It has indeed cleaned up beautifully and I'm so glad you took the time to give Kvatch the TLC it deserves as a very special place. I was especially pleased to hear Lena declare the truism that Savlian Matius was, and always will be, the Hero of Kvatch.

I am so glad you liked it. smile.gif I hope you'll like what is still to come - this isn't just a one time visit! biggrin.gif


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Lena Wolf
post Sep 3 2021, 09:00 PM
Post #227


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30 Sun's Height, 4E202 - A tour of Kvatch

Lena woke up refreshed in The Wolf Residence in Kvatch. She made herself some coffee and ate the last sweetroll from her pack for breakfast. Today she was going to walk around the city.

The city of Kvatch was wrapped around the Great Chapel of Akatosh, with the Castle taking up the North West corner. The City Gate was at its South most point, and traditionally there had been Kvatch West with the Castle and extensive gardens, and Kvatch East with the Arena and the majority of the populace. The Chapel was facing West with its main doors, and the central square with the statue was just to the North of it, with an alley going towards the gardens and the bridge to the Castle. This square used to be called the Plaza, and was the main feature of Kvatch West. But new Kvatch did not have a walled East side, so the Count was proudly referring to the whole city as Kvatch Plaza. "No one is cut off from either the Chapel or the Castle, no one is excluded. We are one town" - he would say. He did have a point, Lena quite liked the new arrangement. The city felt spacious and open, resembling Chorrol both in type of construction and layout - she wondered whether that was the Count's inspiration.

She went to see the gardens, and found a vineyard instead.

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"Blackrock wine is the best in Cyrodiil, even if I do say so myself" - a Redguard working the vineyard told her. "Here - have a bottle. You are Wolf, aren't you?" - he looked her over. "Heard Batul saying yesterday that you've finally arrived. We live next door to you, I'm Chark Blackrock" - he shook her hand. "We are new to the city, my wife Siona and I, well, I say 'new', but it's been a good twenty years that we've come to live here. It's a good place, so why not."

"So you are not suffering from the flashbacks of the Oblivion Crisis?" - asked Lena, trying to approach the topic carefully.

"No, not us" - Blackrock looked sombre. "It's the old folk - the ones that lived through it all. There's a group of ex-refugees on the East side, an ex-priest, Batul and Sigrid, and a few guards. The rest of us are all new."

Lena thanked him and continued her stroll, not going to the East side for the moment.

There was a cluster of shops by the Main Gate - Missy's Dry Goods, The Forge, the Mages Guild alchemy shop, and The One Coin Inn. "I wonder what one coin will get you here" - she mused, but did not enter. She returned to the statue and looked at the buildings facing the Castle. There were just a few of them, with plenty of space left for trees and flowering shrubs. She noticed the Fighters Guild sign, but like the Mages Guild, the building was much smaller than its counterparts in the other cities. "At least they returned" - she thought. The street turned East towards the Arena, with the Mages Guild Hall on the right. She noted a cluster of houses in the South East corner of the city between the Arena and The Wolf Residence - she would talk to those people later. She was standing next to a General Goods store, and remembering that her cupboards needed filling, she went in.

"Welcome to my store, what can I do for you?" - a Dunmer shop keeper greeted her cheerfully, and Lena thought he must have been one of the "new" people. She bought some food and wine and was about to leave, when the shop keeper urged her to see his home wares downstairs. "Straight as you come down the stairs, all along the walls" - he pointed keenly. "I have tapestries and paintings for sale, everything you see there! And all the vases and pottery too!" It seemed he had built himself quite a nice little gallery, and was very proud of it.

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"Thank you, I'll have a look" - Lena answered politely, hoping that he wouldn't follow her there, as she had no intention of buying any of it that day. The Dunmer left her alone. She went through the gallery, ready to turn back towards the front door, but there was another exit at the end, so she went through that door instead.

She came out facing a city wall. "Wait, this can't be right" - she looked around. "I should be facing the Arena with another house to the left and the Mages Guild across the road to the right." Instead, there were two gates in a wall just in front of her, with the Chapel of Akatosh to her right. Confused, she turned around and was looking down a densely built up street wrapping around the Chapel with the Undercroft at the end of the street.

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This was Kvatch, but not the one she just left. This was Kvatch East of before. "Before the Oblivion Crisis?" - she wondered whether she had been transported back in time. People were walking up and down the street, going into the undercroft, going into their houses and shops and minding their own business. They were friendly enough, and no one seemed to suffer from flashbacks or nightmares.

Following the winding street, Lena turned a corner and came to the Arena.

"There are no matches today, but you can train in the Bloodworks if you want" - the guards told her. "We have matches twice a week now - Middas and Loredas. You can place your bets in advance, too. If you want to compete, see the Bloodworks masters - both teams could use fresh meat" - the guard smirked, looking her over.

"Are the matches to the death?" - Lena asked, rather taken aback by this wealth of information.

"Of course they are to the death!" - the guard looked offended. "What do you think - just because we are in a province and not in the Imperial City, that we would not be taking it seriously?" - he glared at her.

"No, I wasn't suggesting anything like that" - Lena backed off, not wishing to pick a fight. "I'll come back when there's a match."

"Middas and Loredas" - the guard cried after her.

Lena turned her back to the Arena and walked straight into a Mages Guild Hall. This building was as imposing as the halls in the other cities. She entered.

"Well hello, fancy meeting you here, Warlock" - Erana of all people greeted her in the hall. "Welcome to the Kvatch Mages Guild!"

The Guild Hall looked just like the one in Chorrol, except for the people. Erana seemed to have noticed Lena's confusion.

"Yes, this is exactly the same design of a building as in Chorrol" - she explained. "But it's just the building. This Guild Hall is quite different, I assure you."

"But..." - Lena was going to ask about the other Kvatch Mages Guild that she'd visited the day before, but then decided against it. She preferred not to ask favours of Erana. Perhaps the answer would present itself elsewhere in the city, Lena thought, turned around and left.

Walking around the Arena and going North, she came to another stretch of the city wall - not the external city wall, but a smaller one running from the Chapel and featuring two gates - one on the street level and the other on the pavement. "This must be the wall separating Kvatch into East and West" - Lena thought, going through the gate. Indeed, she stood in Kvatch West looking at the Castle across the water and the statue to her left. This was the Plaza, with an alley going along the castle walls towards the gardens - and those were the real gardens with lots of trees in the distance.

Like Kvatch East, Kvatch West was densely built up. There was a large inn facing the Plaza, with an impressive Fighters Guild building and several shops leading towards the City Gate. Taking the alley into the gardens, Lena passed several wooden houses nestled among the trees. The path eventually ended on a clearing with a side view of the Castle - the original Kvatch Castle, definitely not the one she'd visited the day before. This was not the same Kvatch.

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The other Kvatch is largely Kvatch Roses of Success, completed.


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Lena Wolf
post Sep 4 2021, 06:27 PM
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30 Sun's Height, 4E202 - Batul gra-Sharob

Lena got up from a bench in the gardens of Kvatch West, feeling thoroughly confused. There appeared to be two cities of Kvatch - the one where she woke up that morning, and the one that she found herself in upon exiting the General Goods store. No one in this second Kvatch appeared to suffer from nightmares or flashbacks of the Oblivion Crisis, but perhaps they were just all "new" people - people that moved in here after the crisis, people that didn't live through it and therefore had no flashbacks to suffer from. Perhaps she just needed to talk to someone.

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Walking along the garden alley towards the central square and being absorbed in these thoughts, Lena didn't notice an Argonian blocking her way.

"Good day to you!" - the Argonian made her jump. "Is anything troubling you? You look confused - perhaps I can help. I am Weedum-Ja" - she said with a smile. "May The Nine guard and protect you."

"Ugh, hello" - Lena returned to reality. "I am a bit confused, yes. Is this Kvatch?"

"Oh dear" - Weedum-Ja looked concerned. "You are confused. Of course this is Kvatch! Where else will you find a garden as lush as this? Or a Castle as elaborate as this? Even if a bit burned... You need the guidance of The Nine to set you straight."

"Mmm, thank you" - Lena managed. Somehow she didn't think that The Nine would help in this instance. "Have you been living here long?"

"Oh, for some three hundred years, I should think" - Weedum-Ja looked into the distance. "Yes, that's about right. And there's no where I'd rather be" - she added cheerfully.

"And the Oblivion Crisis... the memories... they don't bother you at all?" - Lena approached the topic carefully.

"But it was two hundred years ago, my dear! Who would dwell on it for so long? We have all moved on long ago!"

"Oh, of course" - Lena nodded. "It's been a long time."

"If you are still worried though" - Weedum-Ja looked concerned - "you should go to the Chapel and speak with the priest Ilav Dralgoner. He's been here for nearly as long as I have, he'll help you through. He helps people forget."

"Forget what?"

"Anything."

"Ah." Lena paused, unsure whether she should be asking anything else. "Thank you." She decided not, and walked off, returning to the main square.

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It was late afternoon, and Lena hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. She saw an inn, and her stomach directed her inside. It was a large place with a spacious dining room downstairs and several rooms upstairs, nicely furnished, no doubt.

"Welcome to the Castle View Inn!" - the innkeep greeted her. "You look like you've skipped lunch. Anything I can help you with?"

"Yes, please" - Lena smiled at the publican's perceptiveness. "A meal would be nice."

She ordered a meal from a long and elaborate menu and settled down at a table by the fire. Whichever Kvatch she was in, they had food, and for the moment that was all that mattered. Besides, no one was talking of the smell of burnt bodies or recurring nightmares, which was a relief.

The waitress brought the food, and Lena was completely absorbed in her mutton with orange chutney, when someone coughed quite noisily and sat at the table with her.

IPB Image

"The cook really knows her stuff here" - the newcomer said. "Better than in that other inn."

"Oh, there's another inn in the city?" - Lena lifted her eyes to her companion. "Batul!" - she exclaimed in surprise. "Good to see you!"

"Hello, Wolf" - Batul smiled. "So, you finally got here. Haven't seen you in two hundred years, but you haven't changed a bit."

"What? We just talked yesterday..." - Lena started, but Batul's expression suddenly changed from friendly to enraged.

"You went there?" - she spat, fortunately not literally. "They need to wake up! I am the real Batul!"

"I am sure you are" - Lena tried to diffuse the situation. "I am so confused. What do you mean - I went there? Where is there? And where is here, for that matter?"

Batul gave Lena a long look, then called the waitress to order some ale. When the ale arrived, she drank nearly the whole bottle in one go, signalling the waitress for more, then turned to Lena again.

"Kvatch has been split - duplicated" - she started to explain. "After that Oblivion Gate disaster, the soil was still smouldering for a year at least, so apart from brief expeditions, we could not enter the city. The camp was growing though, with more refugees coming from other places - Bruma, Leyawiin, Chorrol, Cheydinhal - whether they'd had a great Gate open near their city or just a small one, they all decided to come to Kvatch for some reason." She furrowed her brow and drank some more ale. "As if we were The Coloured Rooms, for Azura's sake" - she shook her head. "So the Kvatch hill was overflowing with people, we had to do something, and we started pitching tents wherever the soil wasn't burning. This continued for several years - as long as the Crisis lasted. By the time Mehrunes Dagon invaded the Imperial City, Kvatch plateau was filled with tents, with everyone moving inside the city walls as if they were doing any good." She paused, sipping more ale. "Well, they were protecting us from the bandits, that's true" - she reflected as if to herself. "But anyhow - then suddenly one day there was a huge flash - some folks say they saw a lightning strike over the Imperial City, but you can't see the Imperial City from here, so they invented it later. A flash - and that's all, no one felt any different after that, or at least not until we noticed... It was the day when Martin broke the Amulet of Kings, as we later learned." She stopped, looking at Lena who forgot all about her mutton. "You better eat up before it all gets cold" - Batul pointed at Lena's plate. "The story won't run away."

Lena closed her mouth and returned her attention to her plate. "It's all right, I can eat and listen" - she smiled, now picking up her knife and fork again.

"Well, that's nearly it, really" - Batul shrugged. "When we went out of the City Gate and tried to come back in, we started bumping into our doubles. Not all of us, mind - just the folk who'd lived through the Crisis here in the city. The others were not affected, but they didn't have our memories. It's something to do with that."

"But it's not just the people who got duplicated, but the land as well" - Lena started to understand it.

"Exactly" - Batul nodded. "So we divided up - made sure that all the doubles were separated, one in each city. No one wanted twins of themselves. And then time went on, new folk moved in, and we figured out that the two sides of the Main Gate from the outside led each to a different Kvatch."

"But I got here through a shop" - Lena recalled her confusing experience.

"The General Goods store?" - Batul looked up. "Yeah, that's an odd one out. There are other connections, mind, and of course that store didn't exist when we got duplicated, but one way or the other that Dunmer managed to link it up like that. You enter the store through either door, but you exit here through his gallery and to the other Kvatch through his front door. Good for business, he says, serving two cities" - she smirked. "Of course we are used to it now, but it must be confusing to newcomers."

"To say the least" - Lena agreed. "And so you have each a different Count and each city was rebuilt on its own?"

"You are catching on fast" - Batul grinned. "You were always a smart one."

Lena finished her meal and ordered a bottle of wine - that conversation needed help. Batul was on her fifth bottle of ale already.

"So what about the flashbacks and the nightmares?" - Lena decided to be blunt, after all she was talking to an Orc. "People here don't seem to suffer from them."

"People there wouldn't be suffering from them either if they weren't so devoted to their Chapel!" - Batul retorted angrily. "It's their priests - keeping all those ghosts around! People need to move on!"

"I met Weedum-Ja earlier" - Lena tried to steer the conversation into calmer waters. "She said your priest here - Ilav - helped people forget things."

"Weedum-Ja is a knucklehead, don't listen to her" - Batul grimaced, but relaxed. "Ilav is a good sort, he tries to help people move on in whatever way he can. He knows some old magic, though, so yeah, may be he does make some folk forget things, if that's what's needed. I haven't forgotten anything" - she gave Lena a sharp look.

They sat drinking for a while. After the nineth bottle of ale, Batul got up, as steady as ever.

"I should be going - have you seen the time? The moons are out. You can get back to the other Kvatch through the Main Gate - it's like I said, exit from here, then take the right door to the other city - Kvatch Plaza they call it" - she smirked. "Their Count spent all the money on his castle - they have half the houses that we have here! 'Open and spacious' my foot! But anyway, they've got a house for you there, I know, nothing wrong with that - well deserved." She turned to leave, then changed her mind. "If you want to find out more, about why their nightmares wouldn't go away, it's got to do with the Chapel. Or just leave them to their lot and stay here with us! Although I know you won't" - she grunted approvingly. "See you around, Wolf."


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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macole
post Sep 4 2021, 10:34 PM
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Ah ha, a magicka shockwave blew across your Cyrodiil when Martin broke the Amulet of Kings creating a duplicate Kvatch. That’s really a nice touch and your Kvatch #2 looks marvelous. I envy your skill.


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Lena Wolf
post Sep 5 2021, 07:06 AM
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QUOTE(macole @ Sep 4 2021, 10:34 PM) *

Ah ha, a magicka shockwave blew across your Cyrodiil when Martin broke the Amulet of Kings creating a duplicate Kvatch. That’s really a nice touch and your Kvatch #2 looks marvelous. I envy your skill.

Breaking the Amulet of Kings was always supposed to be the last resort. Now it's broken, there is an impressive statue in the Imperial City, but the rest of us have to pick up the pieces, Kvatch included. Something has to be done to help the people move on though.

The second Kvatch reconstruction was very ambitious, the Count wanted to rebuild the city pretty much how it was. He left his castle almost untouched, just cleaned up, but didn't even bother to fix gashes in the walls and ditches in the floor inside. "This is only for me, it's better to focus on rebuilding the rest of the city" - he'd say. But the project is very ambitious and Kvatch Roses of Success, as he had dubbed it, is still unfinished.

***Technical info: the mod had been abandoned by the author. It has all the landscaping, the pavements, buildings and the garden in place, but no people or insides of any of the buildings. It was meant to be situated in time shortly after the Oblivion Crisis, so there were still many burned trees in the city, which I replaced by living trees since in my game it is 200 years later. I have "filled" all the houses with inner cells and am still working on the people - not all houses have someone living in them yet. Plenty to do, but what a fertile ground for new adventures! biggrin.gif


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"Innocence, my brother."

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macole
post Sep 5 2021, 07:48 AM
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QUOTE(Lena Wolf @ Sep 5 2021, 01:06 AM) *

***Technical info: the mod had been abandoned by the author. It has all the landscaping, the pavements, buildings and the garden in place, but no people or insides of any of the buildings. It was meant to be situated in time shortly after the Oblivion Crisis, so there were still many burned trees in the city, which I replaced by living trees since in my game it is 200 years later. I have "filled" all the houses with inner cells and am still working on the people - not all houses have someone living in them yet. Plenty to do, but what a fertile ground for new adventures! biggrin.gif

The Valenwood mod I use has several cities that are just begging for this kind of treatment. I tell myself that if I ever stop playing I'll take the time to learn how to fill in the empty houses. That's a big if.

This post has been edited by macole: Sep 5 2021, 07:48 AM


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Lena Wolf
post Sep 5 2021, 09:42 PM
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31 Sun's Height, 4E202 - The ghosts of Kvatch

It was Lena's second morning waking up in the Wolf Residence in Kvatch - Kvatch Plaza, as she now knew. The other Kvatch seemed much larger, but of course it wasn't - it simply had more buildings. And more trees. And more people. Yes, it was much larger, Lena sighed. Yet this Kvatch was the one with the Wolf Residence in it, and perhaps once their nightmare problem would have been resolved, it could be a happy city too. After all, the "new" folk seemed happy enough here, she was  thinking over breakfast outside the One Coin Inn.

IPB Image

"Best get on with it straight away" - she thought and went to the Chapel.

...

"What's it like out there?" - a ghost approached her as soon as she entered. "We thought we were the only ones to survive..."

"Tierra?" - Lena peered into the ghost's features. "What are you talking about?" - she asked automatically. Of course she knew what Tierra was talking about - the Daedric invasion of two hundred years ago. "What are you doing here?" This was a better question.

"Guarding the Count, of course" - answered Tierra as if stating the obvious. "He escaped from the Castle and is standing behind the main altar there" - she waved her hand towards the far end of the chapel. "Together with Brother Martin and other refugees."

Lena looked around. When Batul spoke of ghosts the previous evening, Lena took her words figuratively, but in fact the chapel was filled with actual ghosts. The priest and a few townspeople of flesh and blood were mixing with them, talking, lamenting the smell of burnt bodies and the devastation... Yes, how could one move on this way - wasn't it obvious? The mage at the guild said she couldn't figure out what kept the nightmares alive, well, these eight ghosts should have been her prime suspects! Unless what she had meant was that she could not figure out how to send them on to the next world.

IPB Image

Besides Count Ormellius Goldwine and Brother Martin, the other ghosts were Kvatch guardsmen - Savlian Matius, Berich Inian, Tierra, Ilend Vonius, Jesan Rilian and Merandil. The people who did the fighting. The real heroes of Kvatch. The priest - Ilav Dralgoner - was walking among them. "This is not the same Ilav as the one in the other Kvatch" - Lena guessed.

"Welcome to the Chapel, young lady" - he addressed Lena. "You can always find solace and refuge here."

"Thank you" - she smiled at him, hiding her worry. "But refuge from what? It's peaceful out there."

"Oh, but it isn't peaceful inside us, is it?" - he pierced her with his gaze. "You too have lived through that horror. The Gods have abandoned us."

"Don't the Gods still grant their blessings at the shrines here?"

"They do and they don't" - Ilav looked stern. "The magic of the shrines still works, but the Gods never talk to us any more. They lost all interest in Mundus."

Ilav was seriously disillusioned. Lena was no model citizen, but she knew for a fact that the Gods had not turned their backs on Mundus - it was only three days ago that Arkay responded to her prayer while Dibella granted a blessing to Lucien. And although some might question their actions, the Gods were definitely not gone. Not knowing how to restore the faith of the priest, she decided to talk to the ghosts, starting with Brother Martin.

"Sire" - she approached him with what she thought to be an appropriate address - "I am saddened to see that your soul had not been able to move on to the next world. As well as the souls of the others here. I wish to help if I can. Please tell me what happened here."

"You..." - Brother Martin looked at her searching. "You are the first one to ask me this. Who are you? No, wait... we've met before."

"I am Wolf" - Lena nodded. "I was with Emperor Uriel Septim when he was killed - I was his messanger."

"Yes... You are the reason we are stuck here!" - Brother Martin flew into a rage. "You are the reason Kvatch had burned! Had you not delivered that amulet to Jeoffrey, had you just sold it along with your other stolen loot as the likes of you would have normally done, none of it would have happened! Kvatch would have survived and I would have been spared the humiliation of being known as the bastard son of the late Emperor!"

IPB Image

Whatever Lena had expected, it wasn't this. Now the Oblivion Crisis was her fault? But he called her a thief - and a thief she was not.

"I think we have a misunderstanding" - Lena replied, restraining her anger. "I am no thief. I do not steal. You are confusing me with someone else."

"But you were in prison, in that cell - for stealing!" - Brother Martin sounded triumphant. "Oh yes, I've read your file."

"I stole food which I ate on the spot, no more" - Lena was unphased. "There were no 'stolen goods' in my possession."

"It doesn't matter - it is still all your fault!" - Brother Martin was still angry but he softened a bit. "Well, yours and Mehrunes Dagon's" - he admitted. "But without your intervention he would have just opened many small gates rather than a big one here in Kvatch!"

"And without your intervention, he would have burned the entire Mundus" - Lena reminded him. "Or rather, without Akatosh' intervention."

Brother Martin pinned her with his gaze, his rage flaring again. That man had a temper.

"How dare you!" - he spat. "I did what was necessary! A mere mortal cannot hope to defeat a Daedric Prince!"

"But you were no mere mortal" - Lena return his gaze, getting used to his ghostly appearance. "You were Dragonborn, a Septim, you were to be our Emperor - and not just in title as the current one, you were to re-light the Dragonfires and to protect the Mundus from Daedric incursions. Instead, you committed suicide!"

"As if you can know what you are talking about!" - he snorted. "Dragonborn! That means nothing at all."

"Does it not?" - Lena looked at him, smiling. "I have found it to be a nuisance myself, but I cannot say it means nothing."

"You..?" - that got Brother Martin's attention, putting out his rage. "Ah. It makes sense. May be the Gods had not abandoned us at that point yet, putting you in that cell."

"It could have been anyone in my place" - Lena retorted. "It didn't require a Dragonborn to deliver an amulet. And it wasn't a Daedric Prince who murdered the Emperor."

"No, it was an assassin" - Brother Martin answered slowly. "Like you."

"Not like me" - Lena shook her head. "That was a cultist, I am not."

They stared at each other for a moment, their animosity having attracted everyone's attention, ghosts and people alike. It wasn't every day that someone challenged a Septim.

"Get out of my sight" - Brother Martin hissed, turning his back to Lena.

...

"That went rather well" - Savlian Matius winked at Lena. "Walk with me."

He went down the stairs and into the chapel hall, with Lena following.

"Good to see you, Wolf" - he smiled, sitting down. "Pull up a stool, I'll fill you in."

Lena sighed with relief, sitting down as well.

"I lived long enough to see Kvatch recover and start rebuilding, in both halves" - he said, still smiling. "Yes, I know about the other Kvatch - I was Court Steward for many years after that. I died of old age, you know, then something - or someone - brought me back" - he frowned. "Me and the other guards - we all had died of old age at some point!"

"So the Count and Brother Martin are the only two among you who had died during the Crisis?"

"Correct" - Savlian nodded. "No idea how their ghosts got here, but as you can see, Brother Martin is pretty angry, while the Count is just sad. Martin flies into this rage every time some of the townsfolk mention you."

"They think I'm a hero" - Lena smiled uneasily. "But you and the rest of the guard did far more to save Kvatch than I."

"You played your part" - he patted her arm, his touch remarkably solid for a ghost. "And you're the one still alive, one of the few who know what went down here. People need their heroes, you're the last one left."

He looked at her with a steady gaze, a man used to handle other people, from soldiers to castle servants, salesmen, contractors and visitors alike.

"You will figure it out" - he said reassuringly. "How to send us all on to the next world - and how to free the townsfolk from their nightmares. If there's any fighting to be done, you can count on us - we're ghosts, we cannot be killed as we are already dead!" He laughed heartily. "If we fall in battle, we just reappear in a day or two."

"Any idea where I should start?" - Lena asked hopefully.

"Don't do anything rash" - Savlian repeated his favourite advice. "There are daedra in the chapel undercroft, and there's a gate to an Oblivion maze that they are coming from, but it isn't the real problem."

"What?! How?" - Lena spun on her stool. That certainly sounded like a real problem to her.

"The gate cannot be closed in the same way as the old ones" - Savlian smiled at her reaction. "I think it is a symptom rather than the cause. We had cleared out that maze several times already, and it just fills up with angry daedra again. You need to find out how we - the ghosts - got here, and what is holding us. Martin's ghost is different from the rest." He paused, looking at Lena pensively. "So, you are Dragonborn. Interesting. You might well be the only one here who can release Martin's ghost, you know."

They sat in silence for a while.

"The people in the other Kvatch don't suffer from nightmares" - Lena said suddenly. "Are they really the same people as the ones here?"

"I don't know" - Savlian shook his head. "Another thing for you to investigate. This will take a while, but not to worry - it's been dragging on for two hundred years, another few months will make no difference." He smiled and got up. "Time to return to the chapel before the others begin to suspect mutiny" - he winked. "Talk to the mages at the Guild - they've been looking into this" - he added walking back to the chapel proper. Things seemed to have calmed down, and Lena thanked him, nodded goodbye to everyone and left.

"A few months, he said" - she thought. "It may well take as long as that to figure this one out."

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

The Oblivion gate in the undercroft leads to the Mehrunes Maze. Lena will need to have her wits about her for that one... as well as a good sword.


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Lena Wolf
post Sep 8 2021, 08:00 AM
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31 Sun's Height, 4E202 - Yelidiia Blamage

"Call me Yeli, please" - Yelidiia Blamage smiled at Lena, slightly blushing. "That name drives me nuts." Lena walked into the Mages Guild at Kvatch Plaza to talk to the red-haired Breton who had mentioned looking into the townspeople's nightmares. Now Lena wanted to know about the ghosts in the chapel and what Yeli managed to find out.

"All right, Yeli" - Lena smiled back amicably. "I've just been to the chapel. Fill me in."

"Ah." Yeli looked relieved and worried at the same time. "Come with me."

She walked towards the back end of the building, going through a trapdoor into the basement.

"This building is small above ground but it has a huge basement" - she turned to Lena. "Please excuse the mess - we've been dumping stuff here fully intending to sort it out... But you know how it is!" - she added, nearly tripping over a bottle rolling around on the floor.

"It's Ok, I know how it is" - Lena laughed, kicking the bottle out of the way.

At the end of a long and winding corridor with many alcoves, they came to a larger chamber that was well lit and neatly laid out as a study. The back wall had a secret door in it, which stood open. It gave into a darker passage, with necromancy symbols glowing on the walls.

"I thought you said you had no troubles with necromancers here" - Lena looked at Yeli with a question.

"Yes, well..." - Yeli looked uneasy. "I wasn't lying - there is no one here. We found this chamber as you see it now. There's an altar inside but no lich - I've identified the symbols, they are for the transcendence ritual."

IPB Image

"This looks familiar, you know" - Lena remembered Lorgren Benirus in his cellar surrounded by symbols just like these ones. "It takes at least five hundred years for a lich to transcend, so this must be very old, if the lich is already gone. Assuming he transcended?" - she turned to Yeli expecting she'd worked it out.

"The lich has transcended, yes" - Yeli nodded. "Some of the symbols have changed to show it. I have been studying this" - she added, blushing. "I am not a necromancer, but I had to know."

"Oh, don't worry about that" - Lena patted her on the arm reassuringly. "I won't tell Traven" - she winked. "Tell me what you've found."

"Well, the lich transcended and left, I believe he can glide through walls, so he could be anywhere. And he is powerful - not every lich can do that. Yet he cannot raise the dead in the Chapel Undercroft - I suppose you've heard?"

"Daedra, yes" - Lena nodded.

"Right, and he's not raising the bodies burnt into the rock under the streets as there are no skeletons walking around town" - Yeli smiled.

"But the Chapel is filled with ghosts" - Lena pointed out.

"It is" - Yeli agreed. "It could be his work... But the ghosts appeared before we moved in here - which was only ten years ago. Myrdian and I studied together at the University, and when we graduated, we came here. Just walked up the hill out of curiosity - Kvatch does have an air of mystery about it - went through the gate, and found this perfectly lovely town... This building stood empty, just a small Guild Hall with only two beds... Perfect for us, we thought" - she smiled timidly. "Gwendolyn at the Potions shop has been here quite a bit longer, she said there were other mages here before, but they left without as much as a goodbye. So we stayed, and now this is our home."

Lena smiled at the young mage. "Does Gwendolyn know anything about the lich or the ghosts?"

"No, it was before her time too, and she wasn't keen on investigating" - Yeli looked apologetically. "Something about having had too many dealings with ghosts in the past already... But she's friendly and knows alchemy better than most - she studied with Sinderion, I hear."

"What about the other Kvatch and the Mages Guild there - any connection?" It was time to find more of those links, Lena decided.

"There is a link, yes" - Yeli gestured for Lena to follow. "Through there." She walked to one of the alcoves, pointing at a door behind some crates at the end. "It goes to their basement. But we keep it locked, and as you can see, it isn't in use."

"Why not?" - Lena felt there was more to it.

"We don't get on very well..." - Yeli blushed again. "Some of the mages there... Well... They wanted to perform rituals in our cellar - in the lich's chamber - but I disagreed... We argued."

"Was that Earana?" - Lena recalled meeting her at the other Mages Guild the day before.

"You know her?" - Yeli looked relieved. "Yes, it was Earana. We have no quarrel with the others."

"Earana is an Altmer" - Lena mused. "They are very long lived, and she isn't the youngest. Her face looks aged, so she must be really old. May be even older than that lich" - she turned to Yeli. "I am not surprised Earana was interested, but it doesn't prove she had anything to do with it. I shall need to speak with her though."

"Better you than me" - Yeli grinned. "Hope you catch her on a good day."

"I'm not sure there is such a thing with Earana" - Lena grinned back. They liked each other. They walked back to the study chamber, and Yeli got some food and drink out of the cupboard. They both felt the need for sustenance.

"What about Sigrid?" - Lena remembered the only surviving mage from the Guild before the Crisis.

"Poor soul" - Yeli sighed. "Our Sigrid just walks around town aimlessly or sits in the chapel, she says she can smell the burning of bodies... Sometimes she says she's angry that she has to start from scratch, but she isn't doing anything, hasn't been doing anything since... you know" - she shot Lena a glance. "Is it true that you went through it too?" Lena nodded. "I just had to ask for myself... Sorry" - Yeli blushed. "Anyway, the other Sigrid is doing a lot better - she sells potions at the Guild in the mornings, and seems to be busy in the afternoons as well."

"Seems to?" - some hesitation in Yeli's voice caught Lena's attention.

"I don't know... it's just a feeling" - Yeli blushed again. "She... she seems to be absent when she's busy mixing potions at the Guild in the afternoons, if that makes sense. She's there, working, but if you talk to her, it's like she's a shell, like Sigrid is not inside her..."

"And that corresponds to the times when Sigrid here says she's angry" - guessed Lena.

"Roughly, yes" - Yeli looked up. "I never tracked it properly, but you could be right..."

"I think that when those people got duplicated, it only affected their bodies, not their souls. I don't think you can duplicate souls."

"That... would give you nightmares, yes" - Yeli's eyes widened. "But what can we do about it?"

"I don't know" - Lena admitted. "It's just a theory - I could be wrong. I have a feeling there are several things going on here in Kvatch, and they are not necessarily related. Or at least they were not related to begin with, but everything got tangled up by now, no doubt. I am going to talk to Sigrid - both Sigrids - and see if it leads me anywhere. Then there's Batul - both of them - as sane as ever, and Savlian's ghost at the chapel. I shall need to investigate every house and every basement in both Kvatch realms - some might be linked, but perhaps some lead elsewhere. And then there's the Castle - the new Castle here and the old one in the other Kvatch. And the Count - both of them - I spoke to yours here, but the Count in the other Kvatch was not accepting visitors, and no one seemed to have spoken to him for some time. Something isn't right." Lena was making notes in her journal, having covered several pages with her neat writing. "Savlian thought it might take me a few months to get to the bottom of this... I hope it won't be a few years!" - she looked over the pages.

"Sewers" - said Yeli. "You forgot wells and sewers."

"Wells and sewers" - Lena repeated, writing it down too. "And look under every rock, especially if it's been burnt" - she added, smiling. "I have a feeling I'll be making ample use of the Wolf Residence."


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Lena Wolf
post Sep 8 2021, 03:11 PM
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1 Last Seed, 4E202 - Treasure hunt

It's been three days since Lena arrived in Kvatch, and got herself embroiled into a huge soul-saving enterprise. It wasn't something that she could complete in a day or in a week, and she didn't want to stay away for too long. Besides, she came to Kvatch with the purpose of searching for Nocturnal's Cowl, and she hadn't even started on that. Perhaps she should take Savlian's advice: avoid doing anything rash, or anything rushed. Talk it over with Hauk first, don't stir too many demons by talking to people like Earana. Keep a cool head. "Easier said than done" - Lena smirked to herself, but decided to focus on the search for the cowl. "Talk to some of the 'new' people, something might come to light" - she decided.

"New" people in Kvatch Plaza were fewer than in Kvatch West, so she started with Plaza. The shopkeepers didn't have anything interesting to say, that is nothing that sounded like a possible lead to Lena, so she went to the Castle, and there in the Keep she met a travelling merchant who wasn't going anywhere. "That's unusual" - Lena thought.

IPB Image

"I have all sorts of marvellous things with me!" - he boasted. Most of those things were writs of some sort, including a deed on a house in Kvatch - a mansion, complete with all furnishings, stables, a farm and servants, all for a mere 20,000 septims.

"Where is this mansion?" - Lena asked, not recalling anything by that description.

"Oh, just as you leave from here, by the statue to the left" - the merchant beamed at her.

"Err... There is no such mansion there" - Lena shook her head.

"Oh..." - the merchant looked unconcerned. "Well, then this deed is out of date." He tore it up. "It is the responsibility of the buyer to verify that the goods correspond to the description before paying the money. After that, it's their problem!" - he beamed at Lena. She decided to be extremely careful with whatever else he had in stock.

"What about these notes over here?" - she fingered through a collection of old parchments fraying at the edges.

"Treasure hunts, they are" - the merchant said proudly. "From all over Cyrodiil or possibly beyond! Will lead you straight to proper treasure, guaranteed!"

"Unless you can't find it, of course" - Lena grinned.

"Well, it is up to the buyer's skill to actually find the locations..."

One of the notes had a small symbol in the corner: a diamond with a circle inside. Thieves Guild.

"I'll take this one, it looks promising" - Lena smiled.

"Of course, of course!" - the merchant nodded vigorously. "Like you say - it must be promising."

Lena gave him a long look, trying to figure out whether he was a member of the Thieves Guild or a victim of their activity. "What can you tell me about it?" - she asked, looking at him with significance.

"It's a... err... all right, all right, I'll tell you!" - he burst. "It's a Thieves Guild note leading to one of their caches, I wasn't supposed to show it to anyone or let alone to sell it, but every single person on my list of people who were allowed to see it, is now dead! Dead! Murdered! By the Dark Brotherhood! What am I to do?!" He looked at Lena with desperation.

"So you're connected to the Thieves Guild, are you?" - she asked in a low voice.

"Sshhh, keep it down!" - he whispered. "I used to buy some of their loot... Just a low level fence, nothing more... But not now! Not with all the murders! It's not worth it, I tell you! Their loot is not worth a septim any more to an honest merchant like myself! Well, mostly honest, that is..."

"And this note" - Lena wasn't giving up. "How did you get it, exactly?"

The merchant turned pale but answered. "I was given it by that Umbranox fellow - they say he was the Grey Fox! But may be he wasn't, I couldn't tell, he was high up in the Guild though, that's for sure. He said to keep it between my things, and never to sell it, but give it to one of the people on my list - here, take it" - he thrust a list at her - "all high-ranking members, mind you, and all dead now!"

"Wait" - Lena looked at him with suspicion, something didn't add up. "If you were only a low level fence, you would not be receiving anything from the likes of Umbranox, and you would not be seeing any lists like this! What are you not telling me?"

The merchant was now so pale, he looked almost blue. "I am a travelling merchant, so I was a courier, too. It paid well. All I would need to do is deliver a letter from one place to another, so yeah, I knew them all." He swallowed hard. "Please don't kill me."

"Why would I?" - Lena raised an eyebrow.

"You were seen in the vicinity of each murder when they were committed. We know our people and can put two and two together. You killed a few beggars too." He looked scared.

"Only because they were annoying me more than usual" - Lena brushed it off. "Nothing to do with them working for the Thieves Guild. And you are not on my list. But why are you selling this note now, to me of all people?"

"You are the only person besides the ones on the list, that I could shift it to, since it was so important" - he said quietly. "I couldn't show it to any other member, I was forbidden to even speak of it to anyone who's not on the list! So when I saw you, I slipped it in between the other papers, hoping you'd pick it up, and you did."

"Why not just burn it?" - Lena wanted all the details.

"I could have done, I suppose" - the merchant looked up, struck by the idea. "It just never occurred to me! I could not just burn my merchandise..." - he blushed, embarrassed.

"It's Ok" - Lena laughed. "I'll even pay you for it. How much?"

"Anything you are willing to give me" - breathed the merchant.

Lena gave him 100 septims, considering it as a sacrifice to Nocturnal.

"Here, buy yourself some calming salts" - she smiled. "You are not on my list." She nodded goodbye and walked off.

The note was a rhyme sending her on a treasure hunt. "Typical" - she thought, remembering a four hour long key-in-chest treasure hunt that she and Hauk undertook at Pale Pass. "And we swore to never again go on one of those hunts!" - she fumed. But this time she needed the prize in the end, she was quite certain it would be the Cowl of Nocturnal.

Several hours later she found it. She solved all the riddles, followed all the clues, and had a collection of rhymed notes to show for it. She folded the cowl carefully and stashed it in her pack - she had no intention of putting it on and getting cursed. She would take it to Nocturnal as soon as possible. The moons were out, the breeze was warm, and Lena sat down outside the One Coin Inn for a well-deserved meal. It has been another long day.


--------------------
"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Renee
post Sep 9 2021, 01:19 PM
Post #235


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From: Ellicott City, Maryland



I am up to post 37 of this rich tapestry of story. She receives love for reinstating her rank. Very nice.

QUOTE
"You are no longer a vampire, but you can still drink blood - and assimilate it into your own, like a vampire. You don't need it to survive, but you can still use it."


Wow! evillol.gif



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Lena Wolf
post Sep 9 2021, 02:33 PM
Post #236


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Joined: 18-May 21
From: Bravil



QUOTE(Renee @ Sep 9 2021, 01:19 PM) *

QUOTE
"You are no longer a vampire, but you can still drink blood - and assimilate it into your own, like a vampire. You don't need it to survive, but you can still use it."

Wow! evillol.gif

This comes back to bite her a few times, as you can well imagine. I'm just working on a mod for Vampirism with Relapses. evillol.gif But on the plus side, bottled blood becomes a useful potion in this context, because you never know when you run into something that triggers a relapse... So unless your favourite companion is willing to let you feed on him, you should better carry some of the bottled stuff available for sale at selected stores - I'll let you guess which ones. wink.gif


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Renee
post Sep 9 2021, 02:46 PM
Post #237


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Yikes! But it makes sense to have Bottled Blood instead of needing to feed upon somebody, I agree. Feeding is... messy. indifferent.gif At least, the way I like to approach it in these games is messy.



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Lena Wolf
post Sep 9 2021, 04:29 PM
Post #238


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From: Bravil



QUOTE(Renee @ Sep 9 2021, 02:46 PM) *

Yikes! But it makes sense to have Bottled Blood instead of needing to feed upon somebody, I agree. Feeding is... messy. indifferent.gif At least, the way I like to approach it in these games is messy.

"Hauk dear, lie down and let me bite you..." Oops. laugh.gif


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Lena Wolf
post Sep 9 2021, 07:58 PM
Post #239


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2-4 Last Seed, 4E202 - Bravil - The Shrine of Nocturnal

"Best deliver this Cowl to Nocturnal straight away" - Lena thought, waking up at the Wolf Residence in Kvatch. Although Kvatch was in need of her help, she wasn't about to delve into it and neglect everything else - a number of other commitments were still open, as her journal reminded her, and Nocturnal was one of them. So after breakfast Lena stopped by all the people who asked her for help in both cities of Kvatch, assured them that she'd be back, that she was working on it, and wouldn't abandon them, and then she went out the city gates, mounted Roach and was off.

The shrine of Nocturnal lay North of Leyawiin on the Yellow Road, and Lena didn't expect to make it there in one day, but with a bit of persuasion, Roach made it to Bravil by the evening.

2 Last Seed

It was a warm evening, and having brought Roach to the stables, Lena decided to take a stroll along Bravil waterfront - a recent development that's been going on for some time. The Count wasn't quite such a ne'er-do-well character after all, and the abundance of construction in Cyrodiil after the Oblivion Crisis was infectious. Why, if Kvatch could rebuild as two cities where only one once stood, and if Anvil could make itself into an Ocean Harbour, then Bravil could claim the title of the largest River Harbour in Cyrodiil, what with the Niben Bay surrounding it.

IPB Image

And that included an expansion of city docks finally boosting the local fishing industry - and not just for the Argonians.

IPB Image

Leyawiin may be blocking the way to Topal Sea and controlling the trade routes, but where there's a will, there's a way - and merchants were not willing to offload all their goods in Leyawiin for road transport further North. Eventually, the Count agreed to remove blockages and allow full shipping access to the Niben, while conveniently levying passage fees...

But Lena wasn't interested in politics. She simply enjoyed a stroll on the docks.

IPB Image


3 Last Seed

Lena reached the shrine of Nocturnal in the afternoon. The worshippers did not try to stop her and did not require an offering - it was a welcome change from other places. She approached the statue and touched the base, calling to Nocturnal in her thoughts - she knew that there was no need to say anything aloud.

"You come to me again, Assassin" - Nocturnal's voice sounded in her head.

"I have recovered something of yours" - Lena replied, putting the cowl onto the pedestal. "I thought you might want it back."

"Ah, you've done well" - Nocturnal said aloud, the cowl disappearing, with the worshippers watching with interest. "What reward do you wish?"

To be asked this was most unusual, and the followers' excited exclamations made it clear just how exceptional the situation was.

"I haven't thought of that" - Lena answered quite truthfully.

"Then why did you bring me the cowl if not for a reward?" - Nocturnal sounded slightly surprised.

"I didn't want the thieves to keep it, I don't like thieves... Even if they count you as their Patron."

"My sphere is the Night and Shadow, and everything that dwells within it. I value not the baubles that the Thieves are after, nor do I care for the lives that you Assassins take in the dark of night. Yet you both dwell in my sphere, and thus I am your Patron. The Nightingales understand it - and have you not spared one just recently?"

"Karliah" - Lena remembered her encounter in Skyrim. "I have no quarrel with her."

"Good." Nocturnal's voice fell silent, and the worshippers exchanged glances of understanding.

"What?" - Lena looked at them with a question.

"Nocturnal will give you a task" - one of them answered. "Wait for it."

But Nocturnal did not speak any more. Lena sat down on a bench with the worshippers and decided to hold a vigil at the shrine until the morning, as a sign of respect for Nocturnal. For in truth, she did not think of a reward for returning the cowl, she simply felt it was wrong that the thieves should keep it... just as she said.

4 Last Seed

"Approach, Assassin" - Nocturnal spoke just before dawn broke. "I have a task for you."

Lena got up and approached the statue, touching the base. She did not kneel.

IPB Image

"You will rebuild the Nightingale Hall in Cyrodiil at a location of your choosing - the old one crumbled centuries ago. You will be the second Nightingale, and you will recruit a third. You will remind your Brothers Assassins that Sithis is not their only Patron, so that they resume paying their respects to me. Which Nightingale power do you choose - Strife or Subterfuge? For Stealth is already taken."

"I choose Subterfuge" - Lena answered, thinking of Mercer Frey using this power quite effectively.

"So be it." Lena felt a cloud of magic surround her, and a new ability tingle in her fingers.

"But if I may ask, My Lady" - she thought it was probably the right way to address a Daedric Prince who chose to appear female. "Who is the first Nightingale? Is that Karliah?"

"Karliah is my agent in Skyrim, you are to be in Cyrodiil, so no. The first Nightingale here is your Brother Lucien Lachance."

Now Lena suddenly understood the significance of the statue of Nocturnal that she saw in Lucien's "bolthole" in the Imperial City. "Arboretum Underground Apartment" was a more suitable name for that comfortable dwelling - far better furnished and appointed than Fort Farragut, Lucien's official address.

"So... he is the Agent of Stealth" - she said mostly to herself, nodding. Of course... His ability to vanish wasn't common among the Dark Brotherhood - it wasn't the Night Mother's blessing, but Nocturnal's. "Is it to be kept a secret? Even from our Brothers?"

"It is not a secret among my followers, but neither is it something to be advertised" - Nocturnal replied patiently. "All things related to me are to be kept in shadow, like the work of the three 'sirens' at Gweden Farm... Yes, that pleased me, Assassin, I have been watching you grow. Go now, shadow hide you."

Nocturnal fell silent. The worshippers gathered around Lena, one of them was kneeling.

"No, please, don't do that" - she lifted her by the shoulders. "No kneeling, please."

"But you are a Nightingale!" - the worshipper gasped.

"Yes, well, this means you might see me here again, that's all."

The worshippers looked on in awe as Lena mounted Roach and rode off towards Leyawiin - she had promised Modryn Oreyn her help with some slightly off the books matter for the Fighters Guild, and he was waiting for her there.

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

The Count of Bravil took the building works seriously, engaging as many as four construction companies with their individual proposals, and making them all work together: Bravil Harbour, Bravil Waterfront, Bravil Internal Docks and Bravil South River Bank. He proved to have remarkable people skills after all... or was that the skooma?


--------------------
"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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Lena Wolf
post Sep 12 2021, 12:19 PM
Post #240


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From: Bravil



4-5 Last Seed, 4E202 - Modryn Oreyn

"Finally!" - Modryn Oreyn greeted Lena at the Fighters Guild in Leyawiin. He seemed to have left his smile in Chorrol, or perhaps even in Morrowind. "Took you long enough! What sort of time do you call this?!"

4 Last Seed

It was the middle of the afternoon - Lena didn't go straight to Leyawiin after her vigil at the Shrine of Nocturnal, but instead she took a detour by the Sanctuary at Deepscorn Hollow to eat, sleep and... well... she hoped Fenris would have prepared that... pick up some bottled blood.

He wasn't there, but sure enough, there was a chest by the prison cells with bottled blood. Two types of bottles, labelled "Living Blood" and "Undead blood".

"What on Nirn is this?!" - wondered Lena, lifting a bottle with dark viscous liquid. There was a note underneath.

Mistress,

This is my blood - vampire blood. Drink it to trigger your vampirism to relapse.

Fenris


Yes... She remembered that day in Windhelm when a vampire bit her, transferring some of his blood to her, instantly triggering a relapse, fangs and all. Why would she want to repeat the experience? Well... she was famished when she relapsed. Famished and powerful...

Still, she wasn't ready for this. She took the living blood and left the undead blood in the chest.

...

"We need to go to Arpenia immediately and search for evidence of any battle there" - Modryn said impatiently. "I think we won't find anything."

"Where is this Arpenia?" - asked Lena looking at him with suspicion.

"North from here, not that far."

Lena was going to suggest to leave it until tomorrow morning, but then thought better of it - Modryn's mood would not be improved by waiting. They set off straight away.

...

"Not far" turned out to be three hours at a run. The sun was setting when they reached the ruin, and Modryn was just as grumpy as before, in spite of several fights with bandits along the way. Lena was hoping they would help him blow off some steam, but either the bandits were not challenging enough, or Modryn had even more steam bottled up in him... they didn't help much. As it was, he attacked every rat and mudcrab inside the ruins with exceptional ferocity, and even had a go at the traps, but couldn't break them.

"Stop doing that, Modryn!" - Lena was saying with desperation, casting never ending healing spells at him after yet another encounter with a falling blade. "Those traps cannot be broken - they were made to last!"

"Everything can be broken!" - Modryn replied angrily, examining several damaged spikes on his mace. Quite.

Apart from traps, rats and mudcrabs, Arpenia was empty. There was no evidence of any recent battle there either.

5 Last Seed

"I knew it!" - Modryn was livid. "The Blackwood Company lied! They never killed Blackheart here or anywhere else - they made a deal with him! We're going after him right now! Follow!"

And he set off to yet another ruin. Lena was trying to say that they'd been up all night crawling through Arpenia, that both of them had many fresh wounds from the traps, and that perhaps it would have been wiser to rest and heal up a bit first... But Modryn was already out of earshot. Reluctantly, she followed.

Atatar wasn't far - just an hour or so at a run. And it wasn't empty.

"Vampires?" - Lena wondered aloud when they got attacked by several people emerging from invisibility.

"Bandits" - grimaced Modryn. "I see Blackheart taught them a few clever spells."

"More than just a few" - Lena thought. They were all cloaked, some with chameleon, they all cast Silence, Paralysis and various curses, and they all swung their weapons with unusual dexterity. "Well fed and well rested" - Lena thought. "Not like us." Indeed, the lack of sleep and proper food was making her sluggish, and some of the wounds made by the traps in Arpenia, had reopened. But Modryn pressed on, ignoring "the needs of the flesh".

Eventually they found Blackheart in the deapth of the ruin - he made quite a throne room for himself. Modryn was driven by rage, and he slew Blackheart without much effort. Without his entourage, Blackheart was but one man, and not exceptionally powerful at that.

"Get that ring off his finger - it's the proof we need!" - Modryn was looking at dead Blackheart with satisfaction. "Well done for putting up with me" - he turned to Lena. "I'm promoting you to Warder. See me in Chorrol for duties." And with that he turned around and marched off.

"Phew." Lena sat on Blackheart's "throne", catching her breath. She was not keen on any more Fighters Guild duties.

IPB Image

Having caught her breath, she left Atatar and found herself quite near The Drunken Dragon Inn. "Thank goodness for that" - she thought with relief. It was early evening, so she stayed there for a much-needed meal and a long rest.

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

Lena's health is being affected by several things, mostly not beneficial, although realistic. Namely: Bare Necessities - the need to eat and sleep, configurable, with the ability to sleep rough; Dynamic Skills - unused skills drop over time, health can regenerate outside of combat but wounds can bleed and reopen even after healing; Battle fatigue and injuries - penalties for getting hit, complementary to bleeding wounds; Running Revised, with sprinting, fatigue, configurable; and of course Recessive Vampirism (my own mod). Enemies have grown smarter and more unpredictable, both in level and numbers: NPC and Creature Buffer and Oblivion World Balance. Lena is now level 30, and these mods made her enemies varied and challenging, with powers normally only reserved to the player (unjustly so). Every Dunmer now summons an ancestral guardian, so watch out... because they are not level 1 ghosts - still ghosts, just not level 1. wink.gif They will tear you apart. Another example: we came across a pair of naked bandits stalking the road to Bravil. Easy, right? Wrong... they knocked us out before we could get off our horse. Pugilists. Nudist pugilist twins. Beware.

This post has been edited by Lena Wolf: Sep 16 2021, 10:18 AM


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"What is life's greatest illusion?"
"Innocence, my brother."

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