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> Old Habits Die Hard Part Five, New habits? Or just old ones recycled?
haute ecole rider
post Feb 4 2011, 03:26 PM
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Master
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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



It's now time to start a new thread for Julian of Anvil. Now that she returns to her hometown, it's rather appropriate to start a new thread to celebrate!

Thanks to all who have read and posted input on Julian's story.

For those coming in late, if you've got the time, here are links to the previous threads:

Chapters One through Seven
Chapters Eight through Thirteen
Chapters Fourteen through Eighteen
Chapters Nineteen through Twenty-two

I hope you continue to enjoy this story as Julian works toward the inevitable conclusion!


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haute ecole rider
post Feb 4 2011, 03:41 PM
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From: The place where the Witchhorses play



@Olen: It’s funny, but Skingrad seemed like a good place to recall where Julian was and how far she’s traveled in the past two months of the story. I really enjoyed Sinderion, I’ve had college professors like him. Fortunately my faculty advisor was a lot more practical than Sinderion!

@SubRosa: The mulled wine was for Fortran, rather than Julian. Akatosh knows Fortran has earned it! I figured he was more the beer type, but this is Skingrad!

@Acadian: I would melt in the Kitchen Stadium against the likes of Cat Cora and Bobby Flay! I’m glad you were able to identify those unnamed inn patrons. And I didn’t have Else attack Julian (as she does in-game) because of something Olen said waaaay back in Chapter 13.

Anvil has been the toughest town to write. Julian has so much history here - after all, she was born and raised in that old farm overlooking Anvil and the Strid River. Here she will meet old friends from her childhood, and renew old acquaintances, not all of them good. And here, we finally begin to see the shape of her past, and the reasons she didn’t stay in Anvil when she was discharged from the Legion four years ago.

Chapter 23.1 Return to Anvil

“Thanks for your help, ma’am,” the Legion soldier slumped onto a nearby boulder. “I’ve never seen so many daedra in my life!”

“There were a lot of them,” I agreed. More than I usually see around a Gate. What’s so special about this one? “At least you can get a break.” I was as tired as he was. From where we stood on the Gold Road, I could see the tiled roofs of Anvil down the steep slopes past the now closed Gate. The bay beyond lay smooth as glass in the predawn twilight.

The foggy weather had cleared while I was in the Gate, and an overcast sky blocked most of the stars from view. The vegetation around us was soggy with recent rain, and mud coated the worn cobblestones of the road.

I turned and looked at the black horse, prostrate on its side in the middle of the road. According to the Legion soldier, it and its Black Horse Courier rider were ambushed by daedra before he arrived to take up his post a couple of days ago. Only the carcass of the horse, bloated in the early stages of decay, remained of the struggle. Of the rider there was no sign, and the soldier feared she had been taken into the Gate. I feared he was right, and that her soul screamed along with countless others in the sigil stone I carried in my belt purse.

One thing I noticed about these sigil stones - the longer the Gates stood open, the stronger these stones seemed to be. The stone from the first Skingrad Gate, one that conferred fortify magicka effects, thrummed with greater energy than the one I had recovered from the second Gate in the cemetery. As a matter of fact, of all the stones I had recovered, the cemetery one felt the weakest of them all. Could it be those stones are fed by the souls of people taken into the portals and tortured, as Menien Goneld had been? The longer they stand open, the more souls they suck into themselves and the stronger they become?

Thoughtfully I fingered the hilt of Daedra Slayer. The sword, enchanted by a sigil stone much like the one I had recovered at Kvatch, rested quietly at my side. Unlike the sigil stones, it did not send a sinister song into the bones of my body. The only time I felt its enchantment was when it came into contact with enemies. Does enchanting with these stones set those trapped souls free? I hope so!

“Well.” The Legion soldier clapped his hands on his plated knees and rose to his feet, sheathing his sword. I noticed his gaze was on the dead horse. “I suppose I’d better get that carcass out of the road, now that there are no more daedra.”

“I’ll give you a hand,” I said, putting my weapons down beside my pack. First we stripped the tack from the animal, then together we grasped the horse’s forelegs and pulled him to the side of the road, where we rolled him over the edge to drop down the slope. “That’ll keep the wolves and the lions happy for a while,” I added.

“Aye, that it will,” the soldier gazed after the disappearing body. “It’s a damn shame, though. That was a fine animal.” He returned to the piled tack and gathered them, slinging the headstall over one shoulder and carrying the saddle at his hip by the high pommel. “I’m headed to Brina Cross Inn. They’ll handle the tack there.”

“I’ll walk with you,” I picked up my gear.

We walked the few kilometers to the inn. There, I said farewell to the soldier, declining his invitation to come in for a drink. I wanted to reach Anvil before stopping for the night. A certain smith would gladly repair the Kvatch Wolf for me - I hope.

Except for that Gate, it had been a mostly quiet walk from Skingrad. I had spent the night in the refugee camp at Kvatch, where I noticed signs of winter preparations. Many of the tents had been fortified with stone walls. A new well had been dug to provide a source of fresh water. An old mine just south of the camp, called Belletor’s Folly by the locals, had been cleared of creatures and was being used as a secure storehouse for foodstuffs they had been able to gather. Still Boldon confided in me his concerns for getting the fifty or so refugees through the winter. I advised him of Count Hassildor’s offer of aid, and suggested that he prepare a list of necessary supplies and services for when I returned along the Gold Road. Matius was up in the ruined city itself, leading the clean up. I didn’t have a chance to see him before I had to resume my journey. On my way back, I will stop in and look for him.

The sky cleared as I trudged along the road toward the ocean. The sun was well overhead when the Gold Road finally turned south to drop down to the harbor city where I was born and where I grew up.

I stopped and gazed west, at the ocean on my right. I could smell the salt on the westerly breeze that caused the tall grass to ripple like the waves on the water. Aloe vera plants lifted their heavy blossoms on tall spikes above the golden tufts, much like sailing ships on the ocean. White gulls hovered and swooped above the shoreline far below, mere splinters of argent against the western sky.

Slow hoofbeats alerted me to the approach of the Legion rider. He reined his horse beside me when I waved in greeting. “Hello, Hero of Kvatch!” His hearty greeting only served to emphasize my weariness. I didn’t even object to his salutation.

“How are things in Anvil?” I asked, shifting the pack at my shoulder.

“Not good,” the rider’s expression turned grim. “There is an Oblivion Gate open north of the city, west of the road, on top of Mara’s wayshrine. The guard’s been fighting the daedra for about a month or so.”

What, did all these Gates open on the same day? “I take it they haven’t gone in there to close it?”

“When they heard how the one at Kvatch was closed, they considered it. But daedra keep coming out of there, they haven’t had a chance to marshal their forces and send a few men inside.” The rider regarded me thoughtfully. “But if you’re headed that way, maybe you can help . . .” He turned his gaze eastward.

“The one by the road east of Brina Cross is closed,” I volunteered.

“Old Pollus managed to close it?” The rider’s gaze returned to me, and he studied my face closely. “Or did you?”

“We worked together on it,” I replied. He fulfilled the same purpose Mazoga did in Leyawiin. “He’s at the inn now, with the tack from that horse that was killed. We removed the carcass from the road before we left.”

“Good,” the rider slapped the neck of his bay. “Sticklegs here doesn’t like going by that dead horse. Damn shame about it and the rider, though. You didn’t see her, by any chance?”

I shook my head. “Nothing I could recognize as a Courier rider.”

“I’m Servius Veranius, by the way,” the rider offered. “I heard plenty about you from Berennus.” He grinned at me. “I’m certainly glad to see you at this end of the Gold Road!” Sticklegs pawed impatiently at the cobblestones. “Unfortunately I can’t chat long. Take care, Julian of Anvil!”

I watched the bay amble slowly away, then turned my face south. I couldn’t yet see the walls of Anvil yet, but there was a hint of Oblivion-generated thunderheads visible through the trees directly south, just to the right of where the road veered inland to run to Anvil’s Northgate. Ah well, here we go again.

The sunlight was slanting from the west when I reached the point in the road where the Horse Whisperer Stables first became visible, the walls of Anvil rising just beyond. To my right, I could hear the characteristic sound that indicated the Oblivion Gate. Beneath that crackling and hissing were shouts and clanging of metal. With a final glance at the town walls below, I turned and left the road, working my way around the immense boulders that rose out of the amber sea grass.

A smithy’s portable forge squatted at the base of one of the boulders, shielded by its bulk from the Gate. In its shade, I could see a Bosmer working the bellows. He looked up as I approached. At the sight of my white hair and Kvatch Wolf, his eyes widened. “Hail, Hero of Kvatch!” He straightened up, setting the hammer down on the nearby anvil. “Have you come to lend aid?”

“I have need of aid,” I answered softly. “I closed the Oblivion Gate up the mountain from here, near the Gold Road.”

“The one by Garlas Agaea?” he asked. “The Ayleid ruin just east of Brina Cross?

“Yes, that one,” I answered. “I can repair my plain weapons, but my cuirass,” I tapped the Wolf, “is enchanted, and I’m not yet skilled enough.”

“And you’ll be needing resupply,” the handsome young Bosmer nodded. “I see you’re low on arrows, and likely you’ll need water, too.”

“Aye, you’re right,” I answered.

“Hand over that cuirass!” He gestured at me. I set my gear down and unbuckled the mailed armor. While I shrugged out of it, he gathered a handful of steel arrows and tucked them into my quiver. The padded tunic kept the breeze off my skin as I handed the cuirass over. “Name’s Enilroth, by the way,” the Bosmer laid the enchanted mail out, examining the links closely. “I’m apprentice to Varel Morvayn.”

My heart twinged at his words. If not for those goblins thirty years ago, the man standing before me repairing my cuirass would have been my brother. But if not for those goblins, I would never have joined the Legion. So my brother would not be repairing a cuirass for me. If not for the goblins, who would be following the path I have followed these past few months?

“Have a seat,” Enilroth waved me to a nearby stool. “Rest a spell. You must be exhausted. Once these guardsmen know you’re here, you’ll never get a moment’s peace!”

I took his advice and the seat gratefully, stretching out my legs. “How is Morvayn?” I asked. The Bosmer shot a glance at me.

“You know Morvayn?” At my nod, he continued, “He’s doing well. Still working hard these days. Matter of fact, you just missed him. We’ve been taking shifts out here, keeping the guardsmen in good repair.”

“And his wife Athesi Andala?” I wondered about the Dunmer woman who had been so kind to me following the deaths of my family.

Enilroth’s face fell. “She passed away ten years ago,” he said. “Varel still misses her, still mourns her.”

My heart sank. Is it true what they say? You can’t go home again? “She was a sweet woman,” I said softly. “Terribly kind.”

“Aye, that she was,” Enilroth nodded without pausing in his evaluation. Satisfied that his assessment was complete, he picked up the hammer and began working on the mail. “Listen, if you don’t mind the noise, take a nap under my shelter,” Enilroth jerked a thumb at a rough lean-to a few meters away. “This’ll take me a few hours, and I’ve got more weapons to repair as well, so I won’t be needing that bedroll for a while.”


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Grits
post Feb 4 2011, 05:32 PM
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Julian has so much history here - after all, she was born and raised in that old farm overlooking Anvil and the Strid River.
Gwenden Farm? I love the atmosphere you give Anvil. The Gold Coast is my favorite landscape in the game, and I have been looking forward to Julian’s return home. More than she, I suspect. Her past is already coming alive, and she isn’t even through the gate yet!


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SubRosa
post Feb 4 2011, 06:34 PM
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I think someone else mentioned it recently, but it bears repeating that you do very well at starting in the middle, and then recounting preceding events as the episode goes on. That can often be the best way, as it keeps you from becoming bogged down in little things. I always find it difficult to do myself though.

And a tantalizing piece of information about Julian's brother Cieran! As well as her own motivations in joining the legion. It seems goblins are Julian's arch-nemesis. Now I suspect that it was goblins that did in her mother as well.

Could it be those stones are fed by the souls of people taken into the portals and tortured, as Menien Goneld had been?
Now that is a chilling thought, and an excellent bit of world-building.

Aloe vera plants lifted their heavy blossoms on tall spikes above the golden tufts, much like sailing ships on the ocean.
I really liked your comparison of the plants to ships, given the proximity of the ocean.

I didn’t even object to his salutation.
Oh noes! Our poor Julian must really be out of it to not squirm at praise! biggrin.gif


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Acadian
post Feb 5 2011, 01:17 AM
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Congratulations on the new thread! Julian is like the Everready Bunny! Well, not exactly. I mean, we still need to find her a fella and all, but as far as crankin' out pages of goodness, woohoo! tongue.gif

I think it was probably me that has noted how effectively you can start a story in the middle then catch up, even as Julian moves ahead. As SubRosa said, another fine example of that here.

I was greatly saddened at the loss of a Sister of the Black Horse and her steed. sad.gif There was no doubt that gate so close to the road had to be closed.

I'm with SubRosa again in enjoying Julian's thoughts about sigil stones. She certainly has handled enough of them to speak with authority!

“We worked together on it,” I replied. He fulfilled the same purpose Mazoga did in Leyawiin.'
Julian's inherent goodness and understated tack shines brilliantly. We know perfectly well why she left Mazoga and, just recently, the Legion soldier outside the gates.

'My heart twinged at his words. If not for those goblins thirty years ago, the man standing before me repairing my cuirass would have been my brother. But if not for those goblins, I would never have joined the Legion. So my brother would not be repairing a cuirass for me. If not for the goblins, who would be following the path I have followed these past few months?'
As I think it was Jauffre told Julian, something about the futility of coulda, woulda, shoulda. . . . How delicately you tease us with Julian's past in the latter portions of this episode.

This post has been edited by Acadian: Feb 5 2011, 01:19 AM


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D.Foxy
post Feb 5 2011, 02:01 AM
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Congrats on the New new new (counts on fingers)... er...new thread!

I see your writing is still as fine as ever!
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mALX
post Feb 5 2011, 06:09 AM
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Congrats on thread five !!! WOO HOO !!


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Captain Hammer
post Feb 5 2011, 06:41 AM
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Ah, I finally get caught up through the end of Part Four, only for you to start Part Five on me before I can adequately respond. I must say, I was missing an impressive amount, but at least I did get to read four full portions at my pace. Now that I'm caught up, it looks like that will end. Bittersweet enjoyment for me.

Your introduction to our favorite Anvil apprentice smith is incredibly well done, and in doing so you seamlessly explain what happened to Julian's beloved older brother. 3 Kudoi to you!

Julian's homecoming reminds me of one of my own, when I made a brief return to my old hometown for my grandfather's funeral. In the intervening years, some things changed immensely, and some didn't change at all. But my grandfather also told me that every time you leave home, you come back to a different place. After all, a determined person can always move all the furniture around in eight hours with enough effort. And if that happens, you have to memorize the new layout of the kitchen when trying to get a late-night snack. tongue.gif


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Thomas Kaira
post Feb 5 2011, 10:26 AM
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Got a little behind there for a spell. Not for long, though. I'm back and up-to-date. biggrin.gif

QUOTE
My heart twinged at his words. If not for those goblins thirty years ago, the man standing before me repairing my cuirass would have been my brother. But if not for those goblins, I would never have joined the Legion. So my brother would not be repairing a cuirass for me. If not for the goblins, who would be following the path I have followed these past few months?


Just one pebble of what I'm sure will be mountains of backstory for our dear old Redguard here. I believe I will be enjoying this next section immensely.

QUOTE
“I’ll give you a hand,” I said, putting my weapons down beside my pack. First we stripped the tack from the animal, then together we grasped the horse’s forelegs and pulled him to the side of the road, where we rolled him over the edge to drop down the slope. “That’ll keep the wolves and the lions happy for a while,” I added.


Poor horsie. sad.gif But you do what you have to do, and let Y'ffre do the rest.

QUOTE
Is it true what they say? You can’t go home again?


Home is not a noun, Julian, at least not in the traditional sense. You may have history here in Anvil, but it has not been your home for such a long time. Dear old Count Umbranox has been absconded from history altogether and his wife given up on ever seeing him again, and now as we learn, a dear friend's wife has passed on. Your home is now at Martin's side in Cloud Ruler. So much has changed in Anvil that it may have become a different town from the one you remember... that is to say, the Anvil you once called home.

Home is not the walls in which you live. Home is familiarity, a feeling of belonging. If Julian has lost the feeling here in Anvil, how could she then still call it home? I will totally understand if this makes you feel empty inside, you have every right to feel that way. No one likes to be away from the one place they found shelter and solace for so many years, and then they come back and discover that sheltering feeling has disappeared. It's... well... it's sobering, to say the least.

Nevertheless, it is where you were born, so it will always hold a place in your heart. I'm sure whatever time you spend within the walls will be spent well. smile.gif

This post has been edited by Thomas Kaira: Feb 5 2011, 10:27 AM


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Olen
post Feb 5 2011, 03:42 PM
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Thread five... this is long, very long, but it doesn't drag at all. You keep everything flowing well and the development is ongoing which makes the length less noticable, indeed it just means you have more stronger characters.

I enjoyed the bit of backstory, goblins seem to have it in for our Julian. It gives slightly more prespective on what she is now and what lead there. Her comment about home is an interesting one, it goes a long way into her psyche, not so much revealing anyhting but just confirming what was already developed.

QUOTE
something Olen said waaaay back in Chapter 13

So long ago I have no idea what it was... (nor can I find it).


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haute ecole rider
post Feb 6 2011, 07:48 PM
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@Grits: You will see Gweden farm in an upcoming post. And yes, Anvil is my favorite area too, but I have a particular soft spot for Kvatch.

@SubRosa: You may recall in Chapter 15.6 Martin asking Julian what happened to her family, and Julian’s response:
QUOTE
“Dead,” I said. “Twenty-nine years ago. Goblins tore them apart in our home.”


@Acadian: Everready Bunny? More like Duracell! (And I speak from over forty years of experience - Duracell kicks butt every single time!) And yes, Julian will continue to leave potential followers behind, unless she is specifically asked to take one along with her to teach the ropes (as she did for Fortran). And Julian’s time in Anvil is the perfect opportunity for us to learn more of her past.

@Foxy and mALX: Thanks!

@Captain Hammer: Sorry to make you work so hard! I really appreciate you taking the time to read this magnum opus of mine in its bloated entirety. Who woulda thunk it would take so long? I really hope you will continue to enjoy it.

@TK: Julian knows well home is where the heart is. It’s just that she has so many memories, some good, others not so pleasant, tied up with Anvil, and she has been away so long, that all she can see when she thinks of the place are those memories. Reality is quite different and she is seeing how. It’s a bit of an pause for her. Heck, Corvus wasn’t even the Count when she left Anvil on her eighteenth birthday!

@Olen: I’m mistaken, you said it back in Chapter 10. Post #70 in Thread Two, about the Mythic Dawn agents’ propensity for reckless assaults on sight. As for the goblins, I think it’s more a matter of she has it in for them. And we will soon find out just why.

Now Julian gets a homecoming like nuttin' else. And she finally gets recognition for closing an OG.

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Chapter 23.2 A Welcome Like No Other

I turned my back to the setting sun in time to be swarmed by giddy young guardsmen. Soot rose in black clouds from the charred ruins of the Gate at our feet as they gathered around, clapping my shoulders and back, hailing me by name. Before I could protest, they swept me off my feet and hoisted me above their shoulders, carrying me away from the destroyed wayshrine.

As we passed the portable forge, the ringing of a hammer on the anvil turned my head. I caught a glimpse of Enilroth banging away, his face lit by a wide grin. The aged Dunmer standing just behind him locked gazes with me, then he smiled and nodded at me before the guardsmen swept me onto the road.

People spilled out of Anvil’s main gate and filled the road from side to side before we reached the stables. I found myself transferred from guardsmen to civilians and carried within the city. They did not put me down until we reached the immense ancient ilex oak in the center of Guild Plaza. I found myself standing on a bench beneath its spreading branches, my head brushing the glossy green leaves, faces turned expectantly towards me.

One of the guardsmen fought his way to my side, leaping to stand beside me. “People of Anvil!” he roared, lifting his sword high. “The Hero of Kvatch!” The Imperial grinned at me as cheering washed over us, then he waved his sword for silence. As the voices faded away, he drew himself up in a vain attempt to match my height. “Our own hometown hero, three cheers for Julian of Anvil!” I felt the flush on my cheeks as he led the crowd in their hip-hip-hoorays.

Eagerly I scanned the crowd for familiar faces. Near the main gate, I could just make out Enilroth and Morvayn. Nearer to the tree, an elegant Altmer woman stood head and shoulders above the others, her assessing gaze cool on me. Carahil. She is still with the Mages Guild. I gave her a nod of recognition, but failed to identify anyone else in the sea of faces before me.

“Speech!” “Speech!” The rumbling grew louder as the guardsman turned to me with a question in his brown eyes. I swallowed the sudden walnut in my throat and nodded. My mind clicked frantically for the words the Anvilians needed most at this time.

“Thank you,” I began. Suddenly, the words I had spoken so long ago in the camp below the ruined city of Kvatch came back to me. “I know it’s been a scary time for you, with that Oblivion Gate open so close to the walls. I don’t doubt all of you know what happened at Kvatch.” The sudden murmuring gave me a chance to pause and marshal my thoughts. When the citizens fell silent at the guardsman’s brandished sword, I continued. “There may be more Gates opening near Anvil. When that happens -“ again mutterings rose again, but fell quickly before the soldier’s withering gaze. “When that happens, I want you to remember this. The daedra will try to destroy you, but as long as you live, Anvil will always live. Though you may live in fear, do not give up hope, for the day is coming when the minions of Mehrunes Dagon are banished forever.”

As the crowd cheered, again I met Morvayn’s gaze across the Plaza. At his side, Enilroth lifted an object I recognized as my pack. I nodded at them, and they began making their way toward Morvayn’s smithy, facing the square.

“Now it’s late,” I resumed when the cheering subsided. “It’s time for dinner, and time for celebration!”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” a brown-dressed Bosmer man shouted gleefully. “First round of drinks at the Flowing Bowl is free!”

“Same at the Count’s Arms!” A bald Redguard called from the edge of the gathering. Laughter and scattered cheers rippled through the plaza as people began scattering.

The guardsman turned to me. “That was a nice speech, ma’am,” he removed his helm to reveal close-cropped dark hair above olive skinned Nibenean features. “That was good work out there at the Gate, too. We really appreciate you coming along to help us out.” Tucking the helmet beneath his left arm, he stuck his right hand to me. “Name’s Galus Varus. I’m lieutenant to Captain Langley.”

“Thanks for the introduction,” I shook hands with him. “I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so welcomed!”

“Well, no other city can claim you as their own homegrown hero, can they?” Varus grinned and clapped me on the shoulder. “Can I buy you a drink?”

“Actually, I wanted to look up an old friend,” I jerked my thumb toward the red-tiled building to the side of the main gate. “Besides, I should be the one paying for drinks. After all, you and your comrades defended Anvil for over a month!”

“Ach, but you’ve been closing Gates all over Cyrodiil!” Varus countered. “Well, make sure that old friend treats you to a good meal and drink tonight!”

I stepped down from the bench and began weaving my way through the crowd. Carahil stopped me before I moved a few paces. “Julian, will you be coming to the chapterhouse?”

“Later, ma’am,” I answered. “First I need to leave my armor and weapons with Morvayn for repair.”

“Of course,” Carahil nodded, her violet gaze flickering toward the squat smithy. “I know you’re traveling for recommendations for the University. We have just the task for one possessing your skills. Stop in when you’re ready.”

“Thank you,” I said. “You can count on me, ma’am.”

My progress toward Morvayn’s was delayed by men shaking my hands and women hugging me before dispersing to their homes and inns. Night had fallen, but the city glowed with streetlamps and torches held by several citizens. By the time I reached the stoop of Morvayn’s Peacemakers, few people remained in the Guild Plaza.

“Julian!” The shout reached me as I placed my hand on the handle of the smithy’s front door. I paused and turned around to see a young Dunmer boy, dressed in fine linens of turquoise and white, run up to me. He stopped at the foot of the steps, panting for breath, his black hair flopping into his eyes. Impatiently he brushed it back and met my gaze. “The Countess of Anvil salutes you on your achievement, Hero of Kvatch.” He bowed perfunctorily and finally managed to take a deep breath. “She requests your presence at the County Hall in the morning.”

“What time?” I asked. Thank Akatosh! Looks like I won’t have any trouble seeking audience with Countess Umbranox. But will she send aid to Bruma?

“Seven bells,” he replied. Again he brushed that stubborn forelock out of his face. “Will you be there?”

“What’s your name?” I asked him.

He straightened up and puffed his chest out. “Midave Sendal, ma’am.”

“Midave Sendal, you can tell the Countess I will stand before her at seven bells in the morning.”

“Very well!” Sendal’s white teeth flashed in his dusky face, then he spun on his heel and ran off.

Enilroth met me within the smithy, holding his hands out for my weapons. “We’ll get your gear fixed right up, ma’am!” As I handed him the bows, he jerked his head toward the stairs at the rear of the shop. “Varel’s upstairs. Your pack’s there,” he indicated the changing alcove. “If you want to change out of your armor and leave it here too before you go upstairs.”

I did as he suggested and changed into my civilian clothing. Leaving my damaged armor beside the forge, where Enilroth was already evaluating my swords, I headed upstairs.

Morvayn looked up from setting a serving bowl on the table when I entered the large multipurpose room upstairs. The distinctive aroma of pasta alla norma caused me to inhale sharply, bittersweet memories rising to the surface of my weary mind. We looked at each other, unspeaking, for several long moments. Briefly I wondered if he felt the same swirl of emotions I was experiencing in that moment. He was just as I remembered him, lean and wiry, his eyes that wonderful ruby color, his hair only a little greyer than when I last saw him twenty-nine years ago.

Now that I stood before him, I couldn’t think of anything to say. Likely he has the same problem. I became aware of the absence of another. “Enilroth told me about Athesi Andala, ser.” I said finally. “I’m very sorry. I had hoped to see her again as well.”

Morvayn’s scarlet gaze flickered momentarily. “She was so proud of you when you became pilus prior.” He smiled wistfully. “Athesi bragged about you to everyone who would listen.”

I smiled back and moved to the table. Alongside the pasta dish, embellished with sauteed eggplant, chunky tomato sauce and fresh basil and topped by soft ricotta salata, fresh salad greens tossed with pear slices, grated pecorino, dried dates and sunflower seeds filled three small bowls.

“Join Enilroth and me for dinner, Julian,” Morvayn said quietly. I met his gaze again, and suddenly felt like crying. Without a second thought, I stepped to the other side of the table and threw my arms around his shoulders. He returned my hug firmly, his hands patting my back. “It’s good to have you back Julian.” His voice was suspiciously rough.

“It’s good to see you again, Morvayn.”


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mALX
post Feb 6 2011, 08:10 PM
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GAAAH! Are we finally going to see Julian in a romance? WOO HOO !!!

I thought it was very fitting, the warm homecoming Hero welcome Anvil gave their Julian. Anvil is my favorite city too, it is great that it has been following the progress of their favorite daughter Julian !!!


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SubRosa
post Feb 6 2011, 10:56 PM
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Wasn't duracell the one that Robert Conrad did the commercials for? "I dare you knock this off my shoulder!"

I caught a glimpse of Enilroth banging away
Was that on the forge, or on Heinrich Oaken-Hull's wife? wink.gif

My Julian indeed get the hero's welcome! For a moment I thought she had won the Superbowl! It is about time she get the recognition she so well deserves for all her labor.

Followed up by another of haute ecole chef's superb dinners. Now I wish I had not eaten before reading this, because now I am hungry again! The tasty meal aside, it was a very strained, awkward, and emotional scene that you painted for us between Julian and Morvayn. He strikes me as being quite the father figure for our wayward Redguard.


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Thomas Kaira
post Feb 7 2011, 12:01 AM
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QUOTE
I smiled back and moved to the table. Alongside the pasta dish, embellished with sauteed eggplant, chunky tomato sauce and fresh basil and topped by soft ricotta salata, fresh salad greens tossed with pear slices, grated pecorino, dried dates and sunflower seeds filled three small bowls.


I see you are serving Italian tonight! How about some Tiramisu with espresso Gelato for dessert? Perhaps you'll also be wanting Secondi, so perhaps Sea Bass with Fennel and Tarragon En Papillote with soft Polenta and roasted Butternut squash? biggrin.gif

And I don't mean polenta like the watery gruel they served in the Legion, but real polenta, with milk and butter and a hint of Asiago wink.gif

Thank you for helping me into my white jacket, I always love a good meal! smile.gif

A hero's welcome back indeed. It was great to see Julian's reactions to re-uniting with her old friend Morvayn...

QUOTE
GAAAH! Are we finally going to see Julian in a romance? WOO HOO !!!


Again? Maybe... *starts counting fingers* tenth time's the charm? You never know! Better get the juices flowing before we hit thirteen, though, Naughty Haute, I'm not sure that would bode well for our dear veteran. tongue.gif

This post has been edited by Thomas Kaira: Feb 7 2011, 04:26 AM


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Acadian
post Feb 7 2011, 01:57 AM
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“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” a brown-dressed Bosmer man shouted gleefully. “First round of drinks at the Flowing Bowl is free!”
“Same at the Count’s Arms!” A bald Redguard called from the edge of the gathering. Laughter and scattered cheers rippled through the plaza as people began scattering.'

Similar to what you did at the inn in Skingrad, you describe well-known NPCs and treat those who know the game well to indentify them - in this case Maenlorn and Wilbur. As in your Skingrad story that used this technique, I like it very much.

A well-deserved hometown hero's welcome. And gruff Julian gives a solid impromptu little speech. I like Carahil very much and hope she is kind and fair with dear Julian if time permits her to get that guild recommendation.

You knew I would be 'round based just on the lovely smell of Morvayn's cooking! tongue.gif Yum! Despite the emotional scene, I was surprised and delighted to see Julian actually hug someone. Morvayn must be special indeed.


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Olen
post Feb 7 2011, 07:56 PM
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She certainly eats well, I might have to take up battling evil demons if poeple feed you that well tongue.gif. Pasta alla norma might be an option for tonight... pity i don't have any ricotta though...

I like how you showed people supporting the local hero that bit more than she got elsewhere, I also agree with Acadian that using well known NPCs really adds depth and connection to the world.

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That is something I've always found odd, she's just saved the town against a daedric attack and that isn't gauged as enough, also who isn't going to recognise her - she's almost a legend now. Still it's a good quest and I can senseit might draw a strong reaction from her, when she gets round to it.

For just now I'm enjoying her meeting old friends, even if there aren't so many left.


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Captain Hammer
post Feb 7 2011, 08:23 PM
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Ah, the hometown hero's triumphant return. Well done with the crowd-surfing scene, as well as her response and speech to the people of her town.

It was particularly touching in the reunion of Morvayn and Julian. Moreso, I think, than Julian's exchange with Carahil. Still, I get the feeling that they have at least some history together, if not as much as Julian and the town's smith.


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haute ecole rider
post Feb 8 2011, 04:48 PM
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@mALX: Time for that cold shower again! And yes, those Anvilians who knew Julian back then have following her progress.

@SubRosa: Nope, Everready’s that one. I agree, it’s high time Julian got the recognition she so richly deserves. And yes, you hit the nail on the head regarding Julian’s and Morvayn’s relationship. It will be clarified in Chapter 23.13. Yes, this is another long chapter like the Bravil ones. Sixteen segments plus a little extra treat.

@TK: Morvayn’s not that accomplished a cook, If his wife had been alive, we would have seen the full seven-course meal. And it’s actually Sicilian cuisine. To most people it would be the same thing, but not to us Italians/Sicilians! As for the romance, it won’t happen in Anvil, unless you count the one that happened thirty years ago . . .

@Acadian: I’m glad you enjoyed spotting our Anvilian innkeepers in the crowd. And oh yes, Morvayn is very, very special indeed, as are a couple of mages.

@Olen: You will see how that recommendation quest is handled in Chapter 23.8. I’m glad you enjoyed the meal! But I think the company’s better.

@Captain Hammer: You’ll see as this chapter unfolds the depth of Julian’s relationships with Morvayn, Carahil, and a couple others not yet mentioned.

Now we enjoy dinner and company, and catch up on the years that have passed since Julian left Anvil to join the Legion.

*********************
Chapter 23.3 Catching Up

“Do you want wine?” Morvayn held up the flagon. Taking the seat he had indicated, I shook my head.

“I’m an addict, Morvayn,” I answered. “I don’t touch the stuff anymore.”

“Lemonade, then?” The Dunmer was unfazed. I nodded, and he headed to the kitchen alcove. “I haven’t been able to make it quite the way Athesi used to make it,” he spoke over his shoulder while he poured into a tall glazed clay tumbler. I watched him slice a blood orange and perch it on the rim. “Here you go, Julian.”

“How long has Enilroth been your apprentice?” I asked.

“He was an orphan that Athesi took in about fifteen years ago,” Morvayn sat down and poured himself some wine. “It was rough in the beginning, as he came straight up from Valenwood and had much to learn about living in the city.”

I remembered something from my first Legion posting. “What about the Green Pact?”

“He converted to the Nine when he turned eight years old,” Morvayn sipped at the wine, “and left the Green Pact behind.” He waved at the table. “He eats the same food as everyone else in Anvil.” The aged Dunmer met my gaze. “Don’t think less of him for that.”

I shook my head. “It would have been difficult for him to honor the Green Pact here in Anvil,” I answered.

“Help yourself,” Morvayn indicated the food. “Enilroth will be up shortly.”

Footsteps sounded on the stairs just then, and the young Bosmer appeared, wiping the sweat from his face. “I’ve got the fire damped down for now,” he reported to Morvayn before turning to me. “I’ll get started on your armor after dinner, ma’am.” With economical movements Enilroth poured himself some lemonade before he seated himself in the third chair.

I served Morvayn first, then Enilroth, more out of habit and respect than anything else. As I filled my plate, Morvayn’s scarlet gaze flickered over my white hair. He said nothing, but waited until I sampled the pasta. “Hmm, this is good,” I smiled at him. “I take it the eggplants are still fresh this late in the year?”

“They’re from Whitmond Farm just north of the main gate,” Morvayn remarked, sampling his cooking before nodding in satisfaction. “The tomatoes too. Enilroth found the basil growing wild behind Horse Whisperer.” After another bite, he met my gaze. “But nothing is as good as the produce your mother grew in her garden.”

“Nothing is,” I agreed, “anywhere I’ve been.” The three of us focused on eating the savory meal for several moments.

“What happened?” Morvayn asked me. “Last I heard, you were posted in Skyrim with the Legio Six. Then nothing.” I noticed that Enilroth kept his eyes downcast.

“I took three centuries into a goblin stronghold,” I spoke slowly. “It was supposed to be a training run, for a couple of the other cohorts had had a run at them. But they never found the shaman, and apparently she rallied the remnants. They decimated my tironii, and took me captive.” I paused and allowed the memories to return for the first time in years. They lacked the power they once possessed to stir up the craving for drink.

Morvayn sat quietly, his gaze steady on me. Enilroth sipped at the lemonade. We ate a few more bites of the pasta dish before I resumed my narrative.

“I don’t know how long I was held prisoner and tortured,” I shook my head, taking another mouthful of the lemonade. “I had sustained injuries during the capture, injuries that left me unable to fight back. My optio, Titus Florio, led the other three centuries in, fought off the goblins, killed the shaman and found me. I was nearly dead, Florio said, but they carried me out anyway.”

“Good man,” Morvayn commented, taking a long gulp of the wine. His pained eyes avoided mine. Does he regret asking me about it already?

“One of the best,” I agreed. “Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the Legion healer that botched my injuries.” I pushed the empty plate away and fished the last bite of salad out of the bowl. “To be fair, he was a raw recruit, and not used to seeing those kinds of injuries. I’m told he vomited when he first saw my knee.”

Silently Enilroth rose and cleared away the dishes, stacking them in the bin with a soft clatter. He returned to the table with the pitcher of lemonade and refilled both our tumblers. Finally he looked at me. “Is that how your hair turned white?”

“That was from the goblins,” I answered. “Florio told me my hair was already turning white when they found me. Likely it was the multiple shock spells from the shaman.”

“How long ago was it?” Morvayn asked. I glanced up from swirling my lemonade.

“Over four years ago,” I replied. “It left me in constant pain and unable to stand for long, let alone walk.” I sipped at the sweet-tart liquid, then took the slice of blood orange and opened it to expose the flesh. “I was discharged out of the Legion and sent home.”

“You came back to Anvil?” Enilroth asked. “But I don’t remember you!”

“I didn’t stay long,” I paused to suck the pulp off the rind. “By the time the ship docked here, I was already a drunk. I tried stopping by the Chapel to pray for healing, but it didn’t work, so I left town. Drifted when I was relatively sober, which wasn’t often or very long.” I shook my head. “I don’t remember much of these last few years, and I’d rather not.”

“Understood,” Morvayn sent a glance in the Bosmer’s direction. Enilroth nodded tacit agreement. “And now you come back, fighting fit and with quite a reputation.”

“Reputation?” I repeated. “For what? Rescuing housecats?”

Both Morvayn and Enilroth chuckled. “Among other things,” Morvayn clarified. “And all of them good.” He shook his head. “Quite the far cry from the little hellion who wouldn’t leave her big brother alone.”

Again my heart twinged, but I mentally shook it off. “I always wondered if that’s why Cieran apprenticed with you, Morvayn.”

“He never said,” the Dunmer grinned sardonically at me. “But I always suspected that was why.” He turned to Enilroth. “Don’t get us wrong, youngster. Cieran loved Julian heartily. He had more patience with her than I did!”

“Yes, you used to chase me out of the smithy with your bellows,” I chuckled at the memory. “Shouting Dunmeri obscenities all the while. By the time I joined the Legion, I could outcuss my recruit pilus.” I leaned back in the chair, stretching my spine.

“How did you make a career of closing Oblivion Gates?” Enilroth wondered. “If I may ask, ma’am,” he added hastily after Morvayn sent him a scarlet glare.

“You may ask,” I smiled at him. “It started at Kvatch,” I sipped at the cool beverage. “That was the first one, and the scariest of them all, just because I had no idea what to expect.” I slapped my right knee for emphasis. “I was still limping, still in pain, but at least I was sober. Had been for several days by then. It was then I found out that old habits really die hard.”

“Felt good to hold a sword again, eh?” Morvayn commented. “Yes, I always pegged you as a blade fighter, not an archer like Cieran. You were never afraid of getting up close and personal.”

“I’m finding archery has its value,” I countered softly. “Especially now that I’m working alone more than not. And I’ve begun using spells more and more.”

“Spells?” Morvayn’s tilted brows rose. “What sort of spells?”

“Healing, convalescence, restore magicka on touch,” I paused and thought a moment. “A couple of different flare spells. Summonses - a skeleton and a flame atronach. Starlight, detect life. I just learned a shock on touch spell that really helps with those big dremora when they surprise me around a corner.”

“Really?” Morvayn’s brows rose again. “Was a time you could barely manage to heal your own scrapes!”

“When this is over,” I gestured toward the north wall of the building, indicating the defunct Oblivion Gate beyond the city walls, “I plan to enter the Arcane University and study restoration and alchemy. I’m getting too old for combat.”

“And after that?” Morvayn sipped at his wine.

“I really don’t know,” I replied. “Go where someone with my skills is most needed. Maybe Kvatch - the survivors there are determined to rebuild the city.”

“Bully for them!” Morvayn nodded emphatically. “Do they need anything?”

“Lots of things,” I replied. “Especially clothing, building materials, perishable foodstuffs.”

“Now that you’ve cleared the Gold Road of Oblivion Gates,” Morvayn remarked, “the authorities can take care of that rogue mage that’s been harassing merchants. That ought to be quick work, then we can see about sending vital supplies to Kvatch.” He rubbed at his chin thoughtfully, exchanging glances with Enilroth. “How are they set for smithwork? Do you know?”

“Batul gra-Sharob survived,” I answered. “She’s really good.”

“Aye, that she is,” Morvayn agreed. “Does custom work like nobody’s business. Especially leather.”

“Those leather boots and greaves of yours,” Enilroth spoke up, “those are her work, aren’t they?”

“They were pieces I picked up elsewhere, but she customized them for me,” I nodded. “And yes, they’re wonderful. I had a cuirass to go with them, but that got shredded beyond repair in one of those Gates. Clannfear.”

“Nasty buggers, those,” Morvayn agreed. He met my gaze. “Any chance you’ll come back to Anvil to live?”

“I’m not certain,” I replied. “Has anyone moved into Mother’s old farm up on the bluff?”

“The old Gweden homestead?” Morvayn repeated. “Not that I know of. Folks don’t want to live where people died so horribly.” His gaze sharpened on me as I suppressed the tears in my throat. “You’re not thinking about -?”

I recalled the vision I had at Cloud Ruler Temple. “Yes, I am. Maybe I will speak to the Countess about it.” I shrugged. “I remember my mother was able to grow so many rare plants there. I’d like to give it a try sometime.”

This post has been edited by haute ecole rider: Feb 10 2011, 06:57 PM


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Captain Hammer
post Feb 8 2011, 05:23 PM
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Interesting dinner conversation. Finding out that Gweden Farm's previous owner was Julian's family may make her time in Anvil all the more interesting. Particularly when it comes to tenant clearing.

Question: Does Julian appreciate showing a little skin? Because we've already established that there at least a few men that wouldn't mind seeing that. laugh.gif

nit:
QUOTE(haute ecole rider @ Feb 8 2011, 10:48 AM) *
Morvayn’s brows rose again. “Was a time you could barely manage to heal your own scrapes!”

Looks like the forum ate up a "There" there.


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mALX
post Feb 8 2011, 07:17 PM
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QUOTE

I take it the eggplants are still fresh this late in the year?”

“They’re from Whitmond Farm just north of the main gate,” Morvayn remarked, sampling his cooking before nodding in satisfaction. “The tomatoes too.



GAAAAH!!! NO JULIAN !!!! Never mention egglpant to a man that is talking tomatoes!!! (unless you know in advance he is hung like a Daedroth!) Think ... carrots.

I loved this chapter - Morvayn is one of my fave characters anyway - seeing him when he has stepped out from behind that counter is Awesome! Great Write !!! WOO HOO!!! Er...where is that cold shower again? ROFL !!!

This post has been edited by mALX: Feb 8 2011, 07:19 PM


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