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> A Most Dangerous Game., Oblivion: The Hunting Grounds.
Darkness Eternal
post Jan 4 2015, 05:08 PM
Post #1


Master
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Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



Author's Note: This part of the story continues from the last chapter posted in A Victory That Broke the Chains. This story takes place not in Tel Bratheru, the Telvanni stronghold which Kraven Desselius and company were held captives as slaves for many years. I thought it'd be good to have it in it's own thread. The concept of the story here is different and there will be new characters as well as some old ones from my other stories, too. The Victory That Broke the Chains will continue but only after A Most Dangerous Game has run its course.

The story so far: Kraven Desselius, one of the most dangerous and legendary warriors in Tamriel, was able to free himself from the bonds of slavery. Having sabotaged his Telvanni mistress' plan to journey to Oblivion, Kraven and his allies( a fellow slave woman named Elsavia and a mute archer named Daenlin), opened a portal to the Hunting Grounds after summoning the Daedric Lord of the Hunt, Hircine. Daenlin and Elsavia made it through whilst Kraven was later plucked from Nirn after a vicious battle with the betrayed Telvanni sorceress.

Kraven, having sold his soul to Hircine as a young lad many years prior, finally realizes his mistake and plans to rectify the situation by appeasing his Lord and saving his soul from eternal damnation as prey. By willingly venturing into the Realm, Kraven will hope to please the Prince and gain passage to the Great Forest in Cyrodiil as well as getting a taste of unimaginable power . . . though now the Imperial has not a clue where he is and what truly the Father of Manbeasts has in story for him.


Dramatis Personae:

Kraven Desselius: former human slave from Cyrodiil. Once a worshiper of Hircine.

Daenlin: former Bosmer slave from Valenwood. Kraven's best friend.

Elsavia: former human slave. Imperial and Redguard mix.

Natesse: Wood elf huntress from Valenwood.

Gro-Nak Ragbur: Orc chieftain from Orsinium.

Varinius: Imperial healer from Chorrol.

Lavosier: Most wanted Breton criminal. Escaped convict.

Hulgarth: Nord mage from Skyrim.

Carterious: Deceased werewolf. Part of the Castius bloodline, a cursed family of lycanthropes.

Kormak: Nord werebear. Laid siege to Tel Bratheru.


“When thou enterest into Oblivion, Oblivion entereth into thee.”
-
Nai Tyrol-Llar
.

IPB Image


From the private journal of Kraven Desselius:

"A man cannot be broken the way one breaks a hound or a horse. The harder a man is beaten, the taller the man shall stand. To shatter the will of a man, to crush his spirit, his mind has to be broken. Many people out there have this idea that we can fight with dignity and honor, that there's a proper way to take a life. It's foolish. Lies to make idiot boys want to become heroes, and idiot girls spread their legs for them. I’ll tell you what makes a true warrior: killing. Just that. No need to sugar-coat it. Killing. Either the right men or the right man. Marauders giving a village some trouble; send one in to open them up crotch to forehead. A man has to save some damsel in distress; he’ll have to bury a sword in something or someone’s belly to get the deed done.

Those stories are lies to soften the burden; people need it to stomach the bloody horror of taking a life. It’s a concept that must be destroyed. Show these aspiring heroes what a messy, terrible thing it is to kill someone, and then show them that it is to be relished. Spear the injured, and then execute the injured. Burn them. Take away their preconceptions of what a man is and you transform into their personal beast.

When they fear you, you become much stronger. You become much better. But don’t ignore that's it's a just a posture, merely a display: like the howl of a wolf or an Imga thumping at its chest. If you engulf yourself in the display, if you fall prey to the horror, then you become the beast. You become reduced; not more than a man, but less—and it can be fatal.

The Daedra Prince Hircine spoke to me, commanding me to please him in a Great Hunt. In the Hunting Grounds, I am to prove myself a worthy hunter lest I loose my soul—which by foolish and innocent desperation, I sold to him. If I am to keep my soul and not be prey for eternity, I am to set myself as a hunter in the eyes of the Daedric Lord. I've been told once by some mad old hermit that Oblivion changes those who venture into it. It transforms and molds the person into what it represents, the essence, if you will, of the creator. I believe otherwise. Oblivion doesn't only change you—it shows you who you really are."


=1=
"When Thou Enterest into Oblivion. . ."


“Ahhh!”

Kraven Desselius spiraled out of control.

The Imperial fell into a dizzying sense of unreality. Light flared with black spots swirling inside his closed eyes as he felt weightless; the shapeless blurs within the light slowly turned into simple shapes; lines, squares, circles, gradually gaining depth and solidity as he was pulled.

The sight of pure black and light-red expanded into shimmering brightness that evolved into something much, much different than what he was accustomed to; before his opening eyes surrendered a terrifying view that made him yelp in fear: the light around him was a glimmering crepuscular, touched with a greenish hue presaging the onslaught of a storm. The air was relentless in assaulting him with a frightening strong wind.

His vision came back fully and Desselius saw where he was. And he was terrified beyond measure. He was up there with the clouds. And he was falling. Fast.

High in the heavens the sky grumbled and heaved, and heat lightning at somber intervals blossomed against the wind and he was dropping faster and faster, plummeting through the clouds and past them. Breaking through them the Imperial saw the first sight of green that intensified the more he went down with such amazing force. He fell through open air and as gravity continued to anchor him Kraven saw he had much more feet to cover.

Much, much more.

Far below him was a vast and endless ocean of green.

Filled with even more panic, Kraven searched for something, anything, which he didn’t have with him; in fear and despair he pressed his search; checking his pockets, his long black hair and anything that might spare him from his fate as he went down deeper and deeper to the gloomy green forest below.

The sky around him was haunted by an ominous, stormy lighting and by a far-off pandemonium of thunder.
With jerking legs, flailing arms, Kraven stared down at the forest rising up like an impenetrable verdurous wall. There was no place to go. All that could be done about it was screaming, kicking, waving and crying. All at once.

The trees came closer and closer and Desselius crashed through the branches and saw the ground rush toward him with immense speed. He let out a wail as he crashed against the cold ground.

The Imperial breathed out and gasped, yelling and shaking to the point where he felt a hard pressure at his back. He wasn't falling anymore. He found himself lying on his back, and with the crack of his joints he made a move to feel himself all over. There were no life-threatening wounds, cuts or any injuries. He realized that the fall was a vision, or a dream. Or maybe it did actually happen but with no apparent damage made to him by perhaps some divine intervention.

First day as a free man and this happens.

The heavens faded from black to morning blue. Sprawled across the edge of a canopy, Kraven scanned the horizon on his side. Darkness cloaked the expanse to what he perceived as west, but there in the what may have been east the circle of the forest etched a line of gold between the horizon and the sky.

This didn't look like the Great Forest of Cyrodiil. It might be Valenwood. Could be. It was the deepest forest Kraven had ever seen.

Pushing himself chest high, arms still shaking, he studied the line of movement.

Nothing. Nothing but the rising sun.

He rolled over to his back and threw an arm over his eyes. Sweat dripped off his wrist, stinging the cracks in his lips. He winced and compressed them together. A scum of foliage coated the inside of his mouth, numbing his tongue and the back of his throat. Swallowing the generate saliva blazed a trail of sour away his esophagus.

His stomach heaved but there was nothing there to expel, not even vomit. He was still feeling the effect of the fall, among other things.

So hungry. So thirsty.

The ground was like fine sand against every part of his body. Well past twenty and he’d never experienced something like this, not even in Morrowind. He raised his arm and flexed his fingers, blinking until the crackled skin on the back of his hand came to focus. Were these wrinkles symptoms of dehydration? Or the result of traveling between worlds? That is, assuming he had made it into Oblivion. If he did, then surely Elsavia and Daenlin made it there, too.

He sat up, catapulted by worry.

Elsavia. The ache for her pressed against his chest. Where was she? Lost in this place like he was? Or had she been sent to another realm? To the Hunting Grounds? He closed his eyes.

Tired. So tired.

He wanted to be there with her. At her side.

His throat tightened as he swallowed.

Gods and men may have abandoned him, but he wouldn’t yield his body and soul so easily. If he truly was in Oblivion Hircine would have to wait.

He felt the crisp breeze on his skin, felt the rough texture of a vine coiled over his shoulder and the pressure of blood flowing through his veins, and the smell of tiny yellow and white wildflowers and the distant musk of the native beasts of whatever place he found himself in.

The forest was flooded with sunlight that was warmer and yellower than Magnus.

Kraven’s mind carried the forest's reality with him. The feel of it. The tangible power of its recent storms. The up-swelling tangle of its jungle. The thunder of its peaks.

Scents and sounds was a thunder in and of itself; smells of distant herd-dung baking in the sun and carrion rotting somewhere, and sweating under armor. Insects stirred and fidgeted among the plants, their swift random industry like a constant stitching noise amid the heat.

It seemed to be midmorning, hot and stifling, so airless that the moss-encrusted trees along the edge of the forest hanged limp and still. It was as if a storm had passed. High in the heavens, buzzards by the score wheeled and tilted and swoop in effortless flight over the bottomlands, and Kraven lifted his eyes from time to time to follow their somber course across the sky.

Focusing in deeper, the human saw that the forest around him was alive with noise: the rush of wind-rattled leaves and clatters of insect calls, dim, musical shrieks of passing birds, the call of tree-swinging mammals and the howls and coughs of distant predators. Through the eddies and boils of sound drifted a whisper sinuous as a snake: a human or near-human whisper, a voice murmuring in Tamrielic, sometimes comprehensible for a word here or phrase there, sometimes twisting below the distorting ripples of the aural surface. Kraven caught the words prey, and night-or knife-and something about taking eyes off the horizon.

And horns. Distant horns.

The hunting horns made him feel uneasy, and he made sure he moved as quickly as he could through the thick foliage.

After the hunting instruments blared Kraven could hear nothing but the piping of frogs and the dull chirps of birds. Somewhere off in the distance he heard a male human shriek that echoed all over. The Imperial listened more and only found the sound of his own heart racing, so loud that he thought surely it must be heard above the soughing of a fresh morning wind in the giant trees above. He stood there unable to move, his spirit a shambles from chagrin and shock and fear knowing full well he wasn’t in Nirn anymore.

Kraven recalled, thinking wretchedly words spewed from dead, bitter lips of one of the realms inhabitants: the forests of the Hunting Grounds are filled with deadly predators. They will stalk you day and night, and the moment you let your guard down they will strike. If those can't kill you, Lord Hircine will. There will be no escape. You will die here.

The Imperial swallowed hard as he trekked through the forest, thinking a somber thought that he'd often entertained in his mind over the years. Even legends can die . . .

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Mar 27 2016, 03:00 AM


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Acadian
post Jan 5 2015, 08:46 PM
Post #2


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



This seems like a nice interlude to the story in Kraven’s other thread. I’m looking forward to traveling with him through this one!

“When thou enterest into Oblivion, Oblivion entereth into thee.” - - By fun coincidence, Buffy was clearing a dungeon in Skyrim yesterday and stumbled upon the very book this most apropos quote comes from!

What a terrifying mess we find Kraven in at the beginning here. Falling fast, and he forgot to grab a Telvanni parachute before leaving the stronghold. Certainly one of the wilder jungle insertions I’m familiar with. I loved how you emphasized how thick the jungle was by comparing it to V-wood.

’He felt the crisp breeze on his skin, felt the rough texture of a vine coiled over his shoulder and the pressure of blood flowing through his veins, and the smell of tiny yellow and white wildflowers and the distant musk of the native beasts of whatever place he found himself in.’ - - A captivating description that absolutely pulls us right into the jungle with Kraven.

As hunting horns pierce the air, I’m reminded of a saying. It seems Kraven may have emerged from Tivela’s frying pan only to find himself in Hircine’s fire? ohmy.gif

Nice job here, DE! goodjob.gif


Nit: ’Darkness cloaked the expanse to the he perceived as west,’ - - This sentence seems to be missing some stuff in the middle. Perhaps ‘Darkness cloaked the expanse toward what he perceived as west’?


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Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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Grits
post Jan 6 2015, 03:33 PM
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Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



I like the otherworldly feel of the place where Kraven has arrived, sun-baked and airless as well as heaving with noisy life. It reminds me of tidewater Virginia with patches of deep forest between soybean and peanut fields. Someone is giving Kraven some good advice in whispered Tamrielic!

The hunting horn makes me think that Hircine has something to do with Kraven’s current situation. I’m looking forward to this!


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Destri Melarg
post Jan 7 2015, 10:01 PM
Post #4


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Joined: 16-March 10
From: Rihad, Hammerfell



- Finally got a chance to sit down with Kraven and I am glad that I did! You certainly have a clear understanding of the performance aspect of writing. You have a wonderful way of exercising your prodigious vocabulary without giving us the feeling that you’re just showing off. That said, I do have a critique for you if you would indulge me (oh, and please forgive the format of this critique, the 'quote' feature doesn't seem to be working for some reason):

“Ahhh!”

Kraven Desselius spiraled out of control.

The Imperial felt himself fall into a dizzying sense of unreality. Light flared with black spots swirling inside his closed eyes as he felt weightless; the shapeless blurs within the light slowly turned into simple shapes; lines, squares, circles, gradually gaining depth and solidity as he felt himself falling into nowhere.


- A few things caught my eye in this first section. The first is a style concern that can’t help pointing out the unfortunate repetiton of the word ‘felt’ (underlined above). After the first occurence you should stick to the light flaring inside his closed eyes. That moves us from what he felt to what he saw and incorporates two senses into the same paragraph. Speaking of the light takes me to the second thing that jumped out at me, this time from a continuity standpoint. You made a point of beginning the chapter with Kraven’s scream, even as you tell us in that his eyes were closed. The feeling of being ‘weightless’ and ‘falling into nowhere’ might be enough to elicit such a scream and, if that was your intent, I would only suggest that you give us some insight into the fear behind the scream if he can’t yet see what is causing it. Third is a personal pet peeve that you can either take or ignore... the use of adverbs ending in ‘-ly‘ (in italics). ‘Gradually gaining’ is a redundancy that doesn’t add to your story.

The sight of pure black and light-red expanded into shimmering brightness that evolved into something much, much different than what he was accustomed to; before his opening eyes surrendered a terrifying view that made him yelp in fear: the light around him was a glimmering crepuscular, subtly touched with a greenish hue presaging the onslaught of a storm. The air was relentless in assaulting him with a frightening strong wind.

His vision came back fully and Desselius saw where he was. And he was terrified beyond measure. He was up there with the clouds. And he was falling. Fast.


Here you do go into Kraven’s sense of sight and the result is just magic! I loved the ‘glimmering crepuscular’, and the ‘greenish hue presaging the onslaught of a storm’ (word-gasm!!). Passages like this are exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned your clear understanding of writing as performance. ‘Subtly touched’ is another redundancy that would be better conveyed by the single word ‘caressed.’

High in the heavens the sky grumbled and heaved, and heat lightning at somber intervals blossomed against the wind and he was dropping faster and faster, plummeting through the clouds and past them. Breaking through them the Imperial saw the first sight of green that intensified the more he went down with such amazing force. He fell through open air and as gravity continued to anchor him Kraven saw he had much more feet to cover.

Much, much more.

Far below him was a vast and endless ocean of green.

Filled with even more panic, Kraven searched for something, anything, which strangely, unaccountably he didn’t have with him; in fear and despair he pressed his search; checking his pockets, his long black hair and anything that might spare him from his fate as he went down deeper and deeper to the gloomy green forest below.


I must admit that this whole section confused me. I still can’t tell if you simply rushed your way through this, or if you were somehow trying to convey Kraven’s sense of panic with your description. Terms like ‘heat lightning’ suggest to me that you may have intended the latter. If this be the case then I applaud you, sir!

The sky around him was haunted by an ominous, stormy lighting and by a far-off pandemonium of thunder.
With jerking legs, flailing arms, Kraven stared hopelessly down at the forest rising up like an impenetrable verdurous wall. There was no place to go. All that could be done about it was screaming, kicking, waving and crying. All at once.


I’m not sure if you want stormy lighting or stormy lightning to herald the ‘pandemonium of thunder’ (another great turn of phrase btw!). I would also suggest using ‘and’ to seperate the arms and legs in the prepositional phrase preceding Kraven’s stare. Words like ‘gradually’, ‘subtly’, or ‘hopelessly’ are redundant when their objective verb is already strong. Don’t sell your writing short by having to lean on them.

The trees came closer and closer and Desselius crashed through the branches them and saw the ground rush toward him with immense speed. He let out a wail and a grunt as he rolled to the side in midair and crashed against the cold ground.

I don’t think you need ‘them’ here.

The Imperial breathed out and gasped, yelling and shaking to the point where he felt a hard pressure at his back. He wasn't falling anymore. He found himself lying on his back, and with the crack of his joints he made a move to feel himself all over. There were no life-threatening wounds, cuts or any injuries. He realized that the fall was a vision, or a dream. Or maybe it did actually happen but with no apparent damage made to him by perhaps some divine intervention.

First day as a free man and this happens.

The heavens faded from black to morning blue. Sprawled across the edge of a canopy, Kraven scanned the horizon on his side. Darkness cloaked the expanse to the he perceived as west, but there in the what may have been east the circle of the forest etched a line of gold between the horizon and the sky.


This reads a bit confusing. I would avoid turning Kraven so much. He turns to the side right before landing, he turns onto his back to kick the tires as it were, then he turns back to his side to scan the horizon. From that position he is able to see both east and west?

Swallowing the generate saliva blazed a trail of sour away his esophagus.

This sentence just needs a revision.

His stomach heaved but there was nothing there to expel, not even vomit. He was still feeling the effect of the fall, among other things.

So hungry. So thirsty.

The ground was like fine sand against every part of his body. Well past twenty and he’d never experienced something like this, not even in Morrowind. He raised his arm and flexed his fingers, blinking until the crackled skin on the back of his hand came to focus. Were these wrinkles symptoms of dehydration? Or the result of traveling between worlds? That is, assuming he had made it into Oblivion. If he did, then surely Elsavia and Daenlin made it there, too.


Fantastic! Just loved this section!

He sat up, catapulted by the flame of worry.

Problematic. Flames burn, sear, scald, etc. Flames do not catapult. Sorry, couldn’t resist a bit of snark. That’s how my Lit professor would have put it. A flame could burn the (figurative) rope tethering him to Nirn, which then catapults him forward I suppose.

Elsavia. The ache for her pressed against his chest. Where was she? Lost in this place like he was? Or had she been sent to another realm? To the Hunting Grounds? He closed his eyes.

Tired. So tired.

He wanted to be there with her. At her side.

His throat tightened as he swallowed.

Gods and men may have abandoned him, but he wouldn’t yield his body and soul so easily. If he truly was in Oblivion Hircine would have to wait.


Another great section! ‘Tired so tired’ perfectly bookends the hunger and thirst from the section above. The ache for Elsavia produces a perfect ‘come to Jesus’ moment in Kraven and steels his resolve. ‘Hircine would have to wait’ indeed!

He felt the crisp breeze on his skin, felt the rough texture of a vine coiled over his shoulder and the pressure of blood flowing through his veins, and the smell of tiny yellow and white wildflowers and the distant musk of the native beasts of whatever place he found himself in.

The forest was flooded with sunlight that was warmer and yellower than Magnus.


A great transition brought about by Kraven’s new sense of focus and determination! This reads like butter!

Kraven’s mind carried the forest's reality with him. The feel of it. The tangible power of its recent storms. The up-swelling tangle of its jungle. The thunder of its peaks.

Scents and sounds was a thunder in and of itself; smells of distant herd-dung baking in the sun and carrion rotting somewhere, and sweating under armor. Insects stirred and fidgeted among the plants, their swift random industry like a constant stitching noise amid the heat.

It seemed to be midmorning, hot and stifling, so airless that the moss-encrusted trees along the edge of the forest hanged limp and still. It was as if a storm had passed. High in the heavens, buzzards by the score wheeled and tilted and swoop in effortless flight over the bottomlands, and Kraven lifted his eyes from time to time to follow their somber course across the sky.


Good use of sensory overload as Kraven takes in his surroundings! The oppressive heat coming so soon after the storms, the ‘random industry’ of the insects, the smells of ‘herd-dung’ and rotting carrion, and the flight of buzzards overhead. Touch, sound, smell, and sight all conveyed with an economy of words. Bravo!

Focusing in deeper, the human saw that the forest around him was alive with noise: the rush of wind-rattled leaves and clatters of insect calls, dim, musical shrieks of passing birds, the call of tree-swinging mammals and the howls and coughs of distant predators. Through the eddies and boils of sound drifted a whisper sinuous as a snake: a human or near-human whisper, a voice murmuring in Tamrielic, sometimes comprehensible for a word here or phrase there, sometimes twisting below the distorting ripples of the aural surface. Kraven caught the words prey, and night-or knife-and something about taking eyes off the horizon.

‘Sinuous’, ‘twisting’, ‘distorting ripples’... I just love when a writer has the confidence to sustain the metaphor. You give that whisper the impact it should have! Just be mindful that the repetition of ‘call’ coming so close together can be jarring.

After the hunting instruments blared Kraven could hear nothing but the piping of frogs and the dull chirps of birds. Somewhere off in the distance he heard a male human shriek that echoed all over. The Imperial listened more and only found the sound of his own heart racing madly, so loud that he thought surely it must be heard above the soughing of a fresh morning wind in the giant trees above. He stood there unable to move, his spirit a shambles from chagrin and shock and fear knowing full well he wasn’t in Nirn anymore.

Kraven recalled, thinking wretchedly words spewed from dead, bitter lips of one of the realms inhabitants: the forests of the Hunting Grounds are filled with deadly predators. They will stalk you day and night, and the moment you let your guard down they will strike. If those can't kill you, Lord Hircine will. There will be no escape. You will die here.

The Imperial swallowed hard as he trekked through the forest, thinking a somber thought that he'd often entertained in his mind over the years. Even legends can die . . .


Just had to point out a few more instances of redundant adverbs. Here is a link to a great article about their (over)use: http://www.users.qwest.net/~yarnspnr/writi...rbs/adverbs.htm

One last thought is the repetition of the word 'somber'. You use it three times during this chapter: ‘heat lightning at somber intervals’, ‘their somber course across the sky’, & ‘thinking a somber thought’

It comes across as a crutch that you use when you can’t find a better word. Be careful.

Sorry for the length. I tend to go in depth with my critiques, which is why I don’t do too many of them. I won’t tell you how to revise your work because, quite frankly, you don’t need my help with that. This was a wonderful beginning, and I am taking copious notes on how you accomplished it.

I’ll be back for more.



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Darkness Eternal
post Jan 10 2015, 03:09 PM
Post #5


Master
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Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



Acadian: Welcome to our latest addition. “When thou enterest into Oblivion, Oblivion entereth into thee.”

This quote could be interpreted in a few ways but the most common is that Oblivion changes a person. You have went through the Shivering Isles quests in Oblivion, for I recall Buffy having some adventures in the Shivering Isles. Those who visited the realm and went through the portal went mad, and the inhabitants of that realm are also mad for being there in an extended period of time. The realm reflects their prince, and their prince's servants reflect the prince and the realm. The Hunting Grounds is a wild place where only the strong survive, where hunger and thirst is something unquenchable and the savage nature of beasts and animals prevail.

The main moral of this part of the story is survival and what could be the best and the worst of human nature that will contend with the law of nature itself, which is survival of the fittest . . . at any cost.

Kraven was unprepared. I took inspiration from the Shivering Isles and the official Elder Scrolls novel, Lord of Souls. In the Shivering Isles, we all know what happens when the player attacks Sheogorath. And in Lord of Souls, Clavicus Vile deposited the protagonists in Nirn in a rather clumsy way, too. The traumatizing fall made sense, in a way, that Oblivion is often incorrectly attributed to hell. We'll find out why the Hunting Grounds is Kraven's personal hell . . . a dramatic fall is something that would symbolize his welcome to this Green Hell wink.gif

That seems to be the case. Kraven might find that Hircine's fire may be a bit too much to handle . . .

Thanks, Acadian!

Grits: It is otherworldly. Everything is much larger. The Hunting Grounds has been said by Hircine in the games to be a shade of Nirn but like mall Daedra they aggrandize certain things. Playing ESO in the Hunting Grounds we see how full of life it is.

You mean the last words Kraven thought of? Those were quotes from Carterious said to him in A Victory That Broke the Chains. Kraven was recalling what the ghost said to him about the plane.

Thanks, Grits. Glad you're onboard.

Destri Wow. That was quite a feedback and very constructive criticism. I thank you, Destri. I never thought about it that way. The use of adverbs. Reading about it in the link you provided certainly changed my perspective a bit. While it is my writing style I do see how taxing it can be in the sentences. I will avoid using them the best I can.

The nits have been fixed, my good sir. Heat lighting was indeed meant to show his fear. I didn't want to outright say he was crapping his pants . . . I'm sure you understand wink.gif

If there is anything else you'd like to say or critique, please let me know. Don't hold back.

Thanks again!


==


From the private journal of Kraven Desselius:

"Elsavia's out here. Right now.

I shouldn't be thinking about this. I shouldn't be thinking about her. Not yet. But—She's out there. She's been out there for too long.

I can't imagine what might have happened to her or to my friend. I don't want to think about it.

I'll find out soon enough. I hope.

Focus. I have to focus. Concentrate on what I know is true while I wait for the storm to settle.

A lesson of Nachael. But sometimes you can't wait. And sometimes the storm never settles.

I can focus on what I know about the Hunting Grounds. I don't know a lot.

This doesn't help.

I can only fill what I know in half a page. I know this place is the color of green in my eyes and the smell of blood on the wind, the sweat-covered hilt of my sword through my fingers, the roar of predators and horn blasts in my ears, the hot fierce sting of an insect's bite upon my flesh. This is all I know, and for certain there is more to discover.

Pride and hunger has brought me here, with a good measure of passion and ambition. In Morrowind, the common people made assumptions about me: Kraven Desselius. An instinctive killer: the deadliest man in Tamriel. Kraven can kill two men in less than a second. He's a Slayer of Beasts, a Conquerer of Giants, the Undefeatable Champion. A Bringer of Death. I was beginning to believe that was true. That I, the Slayer of Beasts, was all of these things and more. That I was invincible. When in the arena in a fight to the death, I believed it. When I sit down to eat a bowl of saltrice, sure, I convinced myself. But when I am alone. In the dark. The Dread Wolf comes to me. It whispers that tomorrow is promised to no man. That everyone has to answer to death, someday, one way or another. That even legends can die . . .

I could have done it.

I could have done it.

When Kormak and his pack of ursine lycanthropes attacked Tel Bratheru, I could have killed him.

I spent over a thousand hours training with sword, spear, and axe and my own two fists. under the watchful eye of one of the best Blademasters out there. I learned hold a shield, to block and to use it as a weapon. It was no coincidence they called me the best. But being the best—or convincing yourself you're the best—can be just as fatal as being reduced to less than a man.

And so: I faced Kormak, convinced I was the best. And so: I got my ass handed to me. And so: I was cheated and lied to, my loyalty and service all for nothing as my master broke his promise to free me. And so now I'm here in the Hunting Grounds because I know—I feel— I could have done it.

I could have done it.

Kormak had something I didn't. I know what that is. And if he can have that I can too. Should Hircine oblige."


=2=
Hostile Welcome


Kraven followed a path few meters to his left, where he saw clear sky through a window of ferns. He parted the ferns, stepped through near a precipice and saw just how big the realm was. Endless. He stood on a ledge, one stride from a sheer drop that plunged more than a kilometer to a dazzling forest below similar to the ones that was around him. Patches of brilliant green darkened to crimson, joined other patches of shimmering black or gap-spark blue, all shot through with curving streaks of shimmer like rivers of precious metals, and it all moved: leaves and branches and vines all twisted in some wind he could not feel.

Flying creatures flitted from point to point far below him, hunting just above the forest canopy, too distant for his eyes—unaccustomed to such vast spaces—to make out their details.

This forest curved away over a topography too random, too jagged, too old look real; valleys were bottomless chasms, shrouded in mist, joined by razorback ridges that intersected and parted again and doubled upon each other with no pattern any known geology could produce. Immense mountains rose in the distance: sharp spires, flat-sided and needle-topped. Some of these mountains had sides too steep even for this tenacious forest of mosses and ferns. Beyond them were yellow grasslands and many miles further looked to be a canyon of sorts.

Time crept like something crippled and old, causing his mouth to go dry and a numbness, premonitory with the clammy touch of death, that spread a tingling chill through his legs and thighs.

He had to get water and food. Fast.

Kraven stood there. He didn’t say anything nor did he move; his mind was occupied with growing bewilderment. Yesterday he wasn’t as confused, but this feeling—descended upon the Imperial as it did many times before—seemed to have confounded him beyond all hope, since for the first time in his life as a free man after three and a half years he did not know what do to with his free time.

Hircine brought me here, he realized, to please Him. But where do I begin?

The Imperial’s hand fell to his side and a decent measure of confidence returned to him like a long lost lover. He felt the thickness of a sword’s handle. The blade was still with him and it had yet to taste blood.

Desselius felt like a child on Saturalia. He was a weapon’s expert on swords, spears, axes and daggers. He understood the subtlety of tactics and hand-to-hand fighting. He possessed honed killer’s skills, waiting to be tried. Trained by the finest Blademaster alive, Nachael, Kraven was forced into the glamorous gladiator life. He couldn’t say he hated it. He enjoyed the toughness, the sense of belonging to the most fearsome warriors of the arena. And out of some inscrutable passion—mingling with the desire to kill with the thrill of risking death—he embraced the giddiest idea of virility.

If Hircine placed him here he hadn’t the slightest doubt he would have to kill something—or someone. Hircine’s stentorian voice echoed in his mind: You must take a hunter’s challenge of skill. Come to my Hunting Grounds: a shade of this realm and my own. Prove yourself worthy of my favor. Only then will you earn the chance of obtaining what you desire.

Kraven set out to higher ground and to earn the Daedric Lord's favor.

Across the forest the wind rushed in hissing, majestic swoop and cadence, echoing in far-off hollows with the thudding sound of some great fall. Kraven’s ear captured the sound of a moan, a soft disconsolate wordless wail, filled with dread. It sounded like a man.

For long minutes the groaning sound continued, and with caution Desselius made haste to discover more. He went to the direction of the noise and as he arrived, pulling apart a thick curtain of green, he saw an ash-skinned man dressed in chitin from shoulder to toe. His attire had the dour colors of cloth, volcanic glass, and animal hide that combined together to form this tapestry of protection.

His outfit employed a strengthening layer from some giant insect, perhaps the assassin beetle. It was apparent his straps were made of Netch leather. Some of his shoulder guards no doubt came from dreugh hides, hardened with revolting waxy excretions. That wasn’t all of it.

Kraven was more concerned with his weapon.

A diagonal engraving of the Camonna Tong bisected the flat surface of his serrated glass sword that seemed to tremble in his hand. The man was nervous, and he was looking straight at Kraven. “Who in Oblivion are you? What am I doing here?”

Kraven studied the man’s face for a passing moment. The Dunmer’s face was painted with hatred and disgust. The Imperial returned his gaze without faltering, though with no emotion. The crimson-eyed Mer was scarred all over and he was bullnecked and wide-eyed. He started swear at the Imperial.

The Elf forehead was covered with a red ointment of sorts not so dissimilar to the one he had on his. It almost appeared as if it was the same salve he used to travel to Oblivion.

“Calm. Down.” Kraven reasoned.

“Shut up, fetcher!” the man said Kraven told him to remain calm. “Fetcher!”

Kraven saw the man’s eyes glitter with wild agitation and trauma as he muttered: “Imperial bastard. You'll pay for this!”

The Dunmer’s other hand flew to his pocket and produced two glassy projectiles with a sharp point at the end. Darts, Kraven surmised. They were used quite a lot in Morrowind. He knew a precise throw would be the end of him.

Kraven threw out his hand toward the man. “Put the darts away!”

Kraven tried calming him down—counseling rationality, no stress, and peace—not quite able to get any of those through this grey-skin's thick skull. “I don’t know what’s going on,” Kraven explained to him. “I got here too,” he added. “Calm down.” And this was a phrase he found himself repeating over and over during their tenuous exchange.

The human smelled something strong like iron sizzling over a forge, filling the air with the scent of burning metal; the air grew stifling warm and vapor clung to the bushes, blurring the area about him. There was a voice that screamed, but it was hoarse and bitter and with that particular rhythmic scratchy persistence of a man close to hysteria. The noise became louder as out of nowhere a man flashed into existence and dropped in the empty space beside the man and the mer.

He bore a stark and furrowed appearance—not quite the look of a man dragged through a bramble hedge, but almost as unkempt. His steel armor was lined with fur. Kraven guessed it was to help contain heat and prevent nasty chafing, and with leather trim work with steel plates attached to the top, the results were weighty and foreboding. He was dotted with melting snow-flakes and it was quite evident he was in some frozen waste.

“By Azura!” the Dunmer swore. “What the—“

The man, a Nord, moaned as he composed himself to his feet, a long wooden staff in his hand. It was serpentine in shape, curving at the tip and with the head bearing a snake with a mouth open. In the mouth was a glowing gem. The northerner looked up at Kraven to see that he had his hand on his blade and turned to see the Dunmer with his darts. This startled him to such a degree that the staff lit up the moment he believed he was in trouble.

Kraven thought: And this trouble I'm in just might be serious.

The gem in the staff glowed, and Kraven and the Dunmer ran for their lives.

The air was sliced by flames of magic spewed by the staff and punctuated by of explosions that shook the ground; contrails of debris raining all around become tangled ribbons of cloud. The two leapt over a log and took cover.

A man's voice, several feet from behind the log: the Nord. “Let's do this the easy way, huh? Nobody has to get hurt.” If only that were true, Kraven thought. His Colovian blood often ran cold when attempting to trust these spell-casting dregs.

“I got all kinds of stuff out here, you bastards. I have spells. I have scrolls. I have knives. I have an axe! Each and every one of these beauties will send your dumb-asses to Sovngarde!”

But he hadn't used any yet besides the staff. Mercenary, Kraven decided. Maybe a rogue battle-mage.

He was giving him time to think. And Kraven was about to make him regret it.

“You want to know what else I have?” Kraven could almost hear his smirk. “A nice fire staff charged with some soul gems! Enough to blast you to dust! Har!”

Kraven nodded to himself. A hit from a fireball like that and he’d have to pick up his body with a shovel and a broom. Sure enough, Desselius heard the staff sing and spit a ball of fire at him. The blast from the staff to a tree shattered a chest-sized hunk of wood two meters above him. Chunks of splintered tree pounded and slashed him.

Heat trickled down his skin, and he smelled blood: he was cut. The rest was too fresh to know how bad it might be. He scrambled through the foliage and dived behind another log. No help there: the Camonna Tong fellow was hiding somewhere in the bushes. Kraven felt the pain around his body.

Burnt. Cut. Battered. But not bladeless.

The Hunting Grounds was pounding him to pieces, and he hadn't been on this realm even a standard hour.

That was unacceptable.

An upward thrust lifted him over the log, and he made his spring into a ferocious dive-roll that brought him to his feet with his back to the tree that was being blasted. He rushed in low through the thick shrubs and came right around the Nord. From behind another tree Kraven saw him looking at the opposite direction. The Imperial made his way to the man, and he was so close he could see the sweat dripping from the back of his neck.

He came a bit closer, and at once with speed he held the tip of his sword at the man’s throat. “Don’t move!”

The Nord didn’t so much as twitch.

Kraven seethed. “You’re attacking the wrong people.”

The northerner swallowed hard and offered Kraven a nervous smile. “How do I know this? How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

Kraven pulled back his sword. His voice went cold, and his eyes went colder. His level stare was a humor-free zone. “Because otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

The blond man turned around to face Kraven, his staff pointed away from him. Both of them relaxed.

“Alright,” the man’s breath was heavy as he looked at him. He had a crown of wispy blond hair and a shaggy beard the color of cinnamon and he supplied emphasis to his slow, cluttered, growling speech with choppy motions of knobbed and beefy hands. “You want to show me the right ones?”

Kraven nodded. “If I see them, that’s what I’ll do.”

The Nord must have a felt an introduction was in order. He patted himself on the chest. “Hulgarth. I mean—my name is Hulgarth.”

The Dark Elf thug came behind him, hands drawn up to show he was no longer hostile. Kraven appraised him before turning back to the Nord. The two other men exchanged looks of confusion as they began to look about the great forest they found themselves in.

Kraven angled his blade to the side, wondering why the man was in Oblivion. “What’s the last thing you remember, Hulgarth?”

“A skirmish. I was out camping in Skyrim in the Wayward Pass. There was a flash and black spots. I woke up and I was—“

“Falling,” the Dunmer finished. “Same thing happened. I was near Sadrith Mora. And there was a light and then wham!"

"Where are we?” the Nord asked.

Kraven was about to answer but in the corner of his eye he saw movement. There, just near a tree behind the Nord and hiding in plain sight was a lithe figure. The Imperial squinted and realized it was a Bosmeri woman.

Wood Elves have a wonderment for nature, and were this simply a predisposition to frolicking in the forests, Kraven would have no cause for concern. His best friends were Bosmers. But this woman could not be trusted. She had the look of a huntress, and this was the Hunting Grounds. She could belong to Hircine.

She was clad in a leather shirt that was cut at the sleeves, and leather pants that were a bit too loose for her. Her trappings were covered with bones for fancy ornamentation. For more robust protection, strange insect resins and odd alchemical additives must have been combined to color and stiffen the plackart and fauld.

She looked like a woman that knew how to fight, and worse, she was aiming right at him with an arrow notched. But like him and the other two men, she had something in common: the red mark across her forehead.

Horns blared in the distance again, but Kraven didn't move a muscle as he eyed the woman.

She didn’t loose the arrow, so Kraven decided to answer the other human when he could. “Maybe she knows.”

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Feb 5 2015, 08:58 PM


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Acadian
post Jan 11 2015, 08:49 PM
Post #6


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Your opening here was akin to a movie scene from something that could be called ‘The Land That Time Forgot’. Very effective. goodjob.gif

Seems Kraven is not alone as some rocky introductions get underway. Hmm, the only common theme seems to be dangerous folk with red stuff on their foreheads. Knowing the kind of mayhem they can cause, I’d be most leery of the Bosmer with a bow. Given how they operate, she’s probably been there watching the whole time the boyz were getting to know each other. wink.gif

It’s still unclear what Hircine is setting up, but it can’t be good. Or safe. ohmy.gif

Edit: Oh, I just noticed the fabulous screenshot you added to the introductory post in this thread!

This post has been edited by Acadian: Jan 11 2015, 08:51 PM


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Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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Destri Melarg
post Jan 13 2015, 06:35 PM
Post #7


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Joined: 16-March 10
From: Rihad, Hammerfell



I liked the screenshot as well. It certainly adds to the atmosphere of the story. Your set up here is reminding me more and more of the opening scenes of the under-rated Predators with Adrien Brody. Doing an homage to that movie in an Elder Scrolls setting is a great idea.

The Dunmer must feel woefully inadequate holding his darts while standing next to the Nord who has the benefit of spells, scrolls, knives, an axe, and the Elder Scrolls equivalent of a grenade launcher! The worship of Talos seems to be of great benefit when thrust into a realm of Oblivion! tongue.gif

Kraven shows his diplomatic side in diffusing a tense situation. That he does so at the point of his sword is perfectly in keeping with his reputation as a warrior. And, given that she shares the mark, I don't perceive the Bosmer as an enemy. What I want to know is, given the circumstance, does the mark make them the hunters… or the prey?


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Grits
post Jan 19 2015, 05:06 PM
Post #8


Councilor
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Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



leaves and branches and vines all twisted in some wind he could not feel

That’s a great image! It reminds me of the Jurassic Park movies in all good ways.

Quick question: The northerner looked up at Kraven to see that he had his hand on his blood

Maybe on his blade?

A Nord battlemage!! biggrin.gif Not Kraven’s favorite combination, I think. Hopefully Kraven can calm the Bosmer down as well and put together a hunting party. I’d guess that he only saw her because she was ready for him to see her. Great stuff!


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mALX
post Jan 20 2015, 01:33 AM
Post #9


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN





Your next story in the series? GAAAAAAAH!!!! How could I miss this!!! Urk!!! I am still catching up on Kraven (and Ghastley's Clark), but I will be here as soon as I do !!!


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Darkness Eternal
post Jan 21 2015, 05:04 PM
Post #10


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From: Coldharbour



Acadian: I've never seen that movie but I think its the one with the dinosaurs, yes? Essentially that's what Hircine's realm is like in lore. Ancient and prehistoric almost without any civilization. One would wonder what manners of creature lurk there.

Kraven is not alone and he finds himself in the company of these dangerous people. The reason they're there and how they could there will be revealed. We'll find out just what Hircine has in store for our Imperial soon enough wink.gif

I was sure you'd get to like the Bosmer girl.

Thanks, Acadian.

Destri: Thanks, Destri. I confess I was inspired by Predators. I had plans for Kraven that would have him try to survive a hunt in the Hunting Grounds and the movie did stir a few ideas. Ultimately the story will be based on lore, as I like to stay true to the original work as much as possible.

Who knows? The Dunmer might have a few tricks up his sleeve. You may be on the mark though. The Nord is well-prepared, more so even, than the Mer. Hehe, I'd agree!

Kraven will have to use his wits here to survive. Being a brute warrior won't cut it. Surviving in the realm required speed, strength and one more important factor: guile. He'll have to use teamwork if he's to last in Oblivion.

Hmm. Good question. We'll find out soon enough.

Grits: It does evoke a prehistoric feel, doesn't it? The Hunting Grounds is the epitome of unrestrained savagery and a land untouched by civilization. You can pretty much call it a Lost World. We got a bit into that when Kraven explained the basic religion of Hircine's followers and their disdain for civilization.

I think so too. I have a feeling that if she wanted Kraven dead . . . he'd be dead. wink.gif

mALX: mALX! Yes, you're late friend but take your time as I've said before. No rush. If you'd like I'll give you a summary of events that led up to here.

Note: This chapter was rushed. Took me a few minutes to write it. I apologize for the inconvenience. I've been very busy and I must get my writer's juices flowing again.

=3=
The Arrow's Edge


Elsavia breathed, and then sucked in the thick, humid air. Cyrodiil it might not have been, but she began to feel a twinge of curiosity. I stand in a Daedric realm.

The thought hadn't appalled her. If anything it had filled her with wonder-the same sense of wonder she now felt stirring at the sight of the Hunting Ground’s vast forests and verdant lakes. Again she was struck by the contrasts among Tel Bratheru, Azura’s Coast, and this plane.

The only problem here was that Kraven hadn’t come along. The portal had spat her and Daenlin and into this plane but the Imperial had been left behind to make a stand against Tivela. Gods be praised she was free from her mistress' yoke. But that was of no importance if he was back in chains or dead.

Gods, please let him be alive . . .

The Bosmer that was with her didn’t seem worried. When questioned on Kraven’s whereabouts and the possibility of survival, he smiled and shrugged. Elsavia guessed this was his way of saying, Kraven’s too lucky for his own good. Or maybe he knew something she didn’t.

Together they wandered the realm.

The Hunting Grounds was brimming over with life in all forms, from the tiniest grass blade to the most massive tree she had ever seen, with roots snaking over the ground, vines and mildew curling up swaying trunks, and insects everywhere. The air exhibited pollen and fly counts that were too much to count. Her eyes felt assaulted by color everywhere she looked.

Magnificent, she wanted to say, but she kept the observation to herself.

Daenlin checked his and her gear and when everything was in order every hour or so before he led her further through the forest to higher ground. Each time she looked at him she remembered Kraven and how would it be if he was here.

She’s been told Kraven has always wanted to lead a solitary life. That such things would be essential to his growth. Elsavia couldn’t help but think growth into what? Murderer, deranged warrior, manslayer. The way he had decapitated Gwenabeth and gutted those men who almost raped her bothered her sometimes.

That was in Tel Bratheru. Here, it was difference. There was life here.

Life in abundance, she reminded herself. This is your first as a free woman. Ever. Think of that for a change.

And she did manage it, marveling at the huge diversity of plants, distant rivers, insects, and animals in the jungle surrounding her. Some were rubbery and translucent. The most corpulent of the life-in-abundance looked as though they would burst if she so much as touched a finger to them. But all had teeth or spines and other means of self-defense. Some of them she could tell were vigorous hunters. She could hear the roaring of mighty predators and the crashing of large bodies through the undergrowth in the distance and sometimes beneath the strange, precarious cliffside.

The more she observed, the more she thought of Cyrodiil. She had never set foot on that province, but from the books it was said to be green and vibrant. Could it have possessed forests as vibrant as these, as rich and splendid with life in all its forms? As she walked about in wonder, she wondered how many creatures had lived here that never would be in Cyrodiil.

Kraven would know. If only he was here . . .

But Daenlin could keep her safe. He would honor his friend. She knew Bosmer’s excelled at the bow. Youngsters were said to be trained to a formidable degree to snipe using both range and speed to their advantage and Daenlin was Andrano’s favorite archer.

He was silent as ever. Elsavia had the feeling he’d be just the same even if Tivela hadn’t cut out his tongue. She couldn’t imagine how horrible it would be to witness a sibling die—or worse—an undead brother bound against his will to serve a cruel and evil mistress. It only added insult to injury.

Even though these terrible things happened to Daenlin, Elsavia saw he contrasted Kraven in many ways; he wasn’t aggressive. He smiled more than he frowned and from the hour spent with him, he pointed at everything and everywhere, talking with his hands whereas Kraven was driven with a passion so great he never had time for anything else. But he did save her and while he had his flaws she knew deep down he was a just and decent man. A tormented man, but decent nonetheless. He had sacrificed himself to make sure she got away from that tower.

She couldn’t shake the memory of that kiss, either. Or what it had meant.

Her eyes went remote and thoughtful as she walked for what felt like three hours. “Are you thirsty my friend?” she said to Daenlin. “We should get a drink.”

Daenlin stopped, took a bottle from his knapsack, jerked out the cork with his teeth, and took a long pull. He offered it to Elsavia. She accepted it.

When Elsavia’s lips touched the water, she drank right away. It was cold with a faint sweet taste and smelled of a winter sky. She swallowed little, for she didn’t know how long it would take before Daenlin could locate a fresh water source. She’s heard wood elves were good survivalists who made the jungle their home. She didn't think she would wait long.

The former slave woman admired her new surroundings. Looking at the various trees of pine, fir, and spruce and oak. She would’ve kept going if Daenlin hadn’t pulled her down behind a thicket. He closed his hand around her mouth and brought his finger to his lips. She saw the gesture of silence and nodded.

He pointed past the thicket to show two people standing in the clearing.

A wild-eyed pale man, with a knot of poisoned briars nestled on his bloody head, pranced back and forth around the carcass. He was scarred from head to feet, as if he underwent trough violent rites and self-flagellation: Woad war paint, deep ritualistic scars, and primitive tattoos covered him like a terrible dress. There was a gaping hole in his chest and Elsavia saw with growing horror that he had no heart. It looked like it had been cut from his chest and a ligament of briar seeds were sewn in its place.

The second man looked just the same but he looked human, and wasn’t as pale. Hanging from his waste as a bone-sword teethed at the edges but he carried a quiver full of arrows as well as a bow. He spoke to someone in Tamrielic while the pale one answered in guttural speech.

Elsavia peeked through the trees to see more. There was a third person, but it wasn’t a man.

It was an Imperial woman of average height, in her mid-thirties or so. She was clothed with animal fur that girded her waist and her breast, while her stomach and arms were exposed, though strapped around by leather. A necklace of teeth hung around her neck. She had long dirty-blond hair and was apparent she was conditioned for battle. Her eyes, from where Elsavia could see, were yellow in color. Bright and alive. She had a spear tied in her back somehow.

“Carmana,” the man said. “Hircine's favorite priestess. I’m surprised to see you without the company of Gamekeeper Carterious. Haven't heard from the Old Wolf in days.”

The woman didn’t smile but she didn’t frown either. “I don’t know what’s become of him. I fear the worst.”

The almost heartless man spoke in his ancient tongue. The woman seemed to understand him.

“You heard the horns. The Hunt was proclaimed. The Rites have been observed. The mortal prey are here. It'll be a tradition hunt. Old rules apply. The Drag will commence. Then the Chase, the Call, the View. I can smell them from here.” She said, pointing over the Cliffside. “They’re in that direction. I wish we were chosen for this hunt. But we weren't worthy not even as the Lesser Dogs."

She looked around, toward Elsavia’s direction. The human dropped low behind the bushes, her heart beating faster and faster by the second. Gods, protect me.

“Who has Hircine appointed to lead the hunt?” asked the man. "And when Hircine joins, which pack shall he take?"

“Shh,” the woman said with a raise of her finger. “Shh.”

She turned toward Elsavia’s direction, and they did as well. The savage man with the gash in his chest took out his weapon. The tool he had was either made from a bear, wolf, or carrion bone. The sharp-edge axe was made from flint and bound by leather strips, spittle, and other, less savory, bindings.

Elsavia remained there, Daenlin at her side. She was sure they couldn’t see her—

“There,” the barbarian man said. “Kill them.”

Elsavia ran.

She dived through a hail of arrows, hit a stone, and rolled over a small ravine. She was on her feet again—swaying a bit, but standing. Daenlin was right behind her, bow drawn and loosing arrows back at the hunters. She stepped back several feet and watched as the Bosmer sent one straight at the living man. The arrow pierced his eye, and he fell back.

The wild-man with a briar for a heart jumped over his corpse and charged with fury at them. His eyes, black gems reflecting a mind not of his own, stared into her soul. Elsavia screamed and scrambled backwards while Daenlin shot his arrows at him. One, two, three and four of the projectiles made their mark but none were able to neither slow nor kill him. The Bosmer had only one thing to resort to: his sword.

He pulled out his steel blade just in time to parry a blow from the undead monstrosity. The former gladiator struggled against his foe, blocking and impaling and as she hoped, he disarmed him. The wooden axe flew to side to disappear into the foliage. Daenlin had the advantage.

The man’s last resort was to summon some arcane spell but the wood elf was quick. He tackled the living-dead to the ground and rained down his blade upon him. Ever stab went true, every cut went home but not even this was enough to kill the man. Rather than neutralizing him, it enraged him!

The man rolled over Daenlin, and choked the Bosmer with his pallid hands. Elsavia cried. “Kill him!”

When it all seemed over for Daenlin, the Bosmer reached into the man’s chest and grabbed a hold of the briar. He squeezed and pulled out his arm, and everything went still. There was no struggle. There was no suffocation. Daenlin shoved the weight off of him and coughed, standing to his feet and going for his bow.
Elsavia’s heart unclenched. She rushed to him.

She touched his shoulder, asked him on the nature of his injuries; was he hurt too much or no? But he didn’t budge. He probed the top of the ravine and nocked an arrow and pulled. She realized where he was aiming and fear found her again.

The woman was standing just over them.

Daenlin took no chances and loosed that arrow. The woman must have felt his movement for she was in motion before the arrowhead was flying in the air. Elsavia’s eyes tried to catch up with her to no avail. She threw her spear at her and Daenlin’s quick-footed determination saved Elsavia from harm. She felt herself fall to the dirt again while the woman dived away into the bushes.

Elsavia heard a scream, and then a growl. An instant later she saw a creature running through the forest and away from them. It was doglike in appearance. Its coat was smooth and thick. The pelt glowed pure white as it caught a ray of sunlight on its long guard hairs. It looked like a wolf.

It had to be a wolf.

But a moment passed and it was gone.

“Thank you! Daenlin . . .” Elsavia said as she looked at the body of the heartless corpse near her feet. “We must find the other people and leave here.”

These people the woman called “mortal prey.”

The mute elf nodded and searched the bodies for valuables.

Elsavia swallowed dry while her eyes moisturized. “We’ve come to the wrong place.”


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Acadian
post Jan 22 2015, 04:55 PM
Post #11


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



’ The Hunting Grounds was brimming over with life in all forms, from the tiniest grass blade to the most massive tree she had ever seen, with roots snaking over the ground, vines and mildew curling up swaying trunks, and insects everywhere. The air exhibited pollen and fly counts that were too much to count. Her eyes felt assaulted by color everywhere she looked.’ - - Once again, you paint a fantastic primordially mysterious place.

That was clever of Daenlin to try ripping out the briars that sufficed for the Briarheart’s heart.

Given the mention of his name, it seems old Cardius calls this place home among the hunters of Hircine.

Fortunately for Daenlin and Elsavia, it seems the hunters are after other prey. I’m looking forward to what happens when they run into the ‘mortal’ called Kraven.


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Colonel Mustard
post Jan 26 2015, 03:34 PM
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From: The darkest pit of your soul. Hi there!



From the title, I came here expecting a story about Parcheesi. I am left disappointed.

Silliness aside, having lost my bearings as to exactly what chapter I was on in The Victory that Broke the Chains it's nice to have a Kraven story I can jump into without having to fiddle through a whole swathe of pages in order to find where I was before. I suppose I'm at an advantage simply through knowing about Kraven from RPs and other accounts of his exploits, so it's been easy to follow. Bit of a shame that Tivela isn't likely to make an appearance, as I liked her as a villainess.

The evocation of the Hunting Grounds is absolutely excellent, and you manage to make the place feel alive; the sense of abundant life and abundant danger was palpable. I'm also interested in these new characters that Kraven has met, and I'm interested to see how events will unfurl with Hircine gathering together an intentionally difficult prey.
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Grits
post Jan 28 2015, 05:57 PM
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From: The Gold Coast



I like that Elsavia reacts to the new realm with fascination instead of fear. It bodes well for her future of making her own decisions rather than depending on Tivela.

For a second I thought that was Vera, but it’s her mom. It was interesting to get some inside information on the upcoming hunt. I love the atmosphere you’ve created here.


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Destri Melarg
post Jan 28 2015, 09:45 PM
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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



Wrong place, indeed! Elsavia’s going to need a weapon if she plans to survive the coming hunt. Fortunately there seems to be a few laying around.

The fight sequence was fantastic, and the Briar-Heart was truly terrifying. One can only imagine what horrors await if these three were deemed ‘unworthy’ of the hunt.

One thing confused me:
QUOTE(Darkness Eternal @ Jan 21 2015, 08:04 AM) *

The man rolled over Daenlin, and choked the Bosmer with his pallid hands. Elsavia cried. “Kill him!”

This reads as if Elsavia is calling for the Briar-Heart to win.


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McBadgere
post Feb 1 2015, 08:06 AM
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Fair dues, I think I missed a bit... biggrin.gif ...

Only got as far as the end of part 1 at the moment, but this is properly amazing stuff...I absolutely loved it!!...

Not as detailed a review as Destri's, granted... biggrin.gif ...

But I'm very much looking forward to going through this and seeing how amazingly you paint this new land...

Nice one, DE!!...

*Applauds most heartedly*...
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Darkness Eternal
post Feb 4 2015, 05:26 PM
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From: Coldharbour



Author's Note: I've been very busy as of late but I can now fully devote myself to getting this story written. I have made a few changes, namely Kraven's journal entries starting from Chapter I. I feel with so many characters, he is the protagonist and we need some insight on what he's feeling and why he's here and what his goals are. Of course we'll have to try and understand his mindset despite him being a killer and too because as ES custom, journal entries are a must!

How it is being written? I have a nice twist later.

Enjoy!


Acadian: It was. If he hadn't done that, I'm afraid our dear wood elf would've lost his life there.

You mean Carterious? Yes, as we have seen him in the previous story, he has spoken to Kraven while he was in the Hunting Grounds. His soul was summoned from Oblivion. He's not the only one, either. As Grits pointed out(surprisingly she remembered the name), Carmana is in the Hunting Grounds, too. She's Vera's mother. She was mentioned quite a few times in The Lycanthrope Chronicles and was shown via flashback.

Hmm, that may be, but Hircine's realm is full of predators. They aren't safe here.

Thanks, Acadian!

Colonel: We know many things from Kraven through the RP's he's been to and ultimately where he got to. But because those are roleplays and not counted as fanon, or my canon, and is meant to be a fun and entertaining alternate universe(since most characters are from different time periods and different stories), we can't judge what will happen too much based on his Rp antics. Some things we know, but this story will have many surprises for Kraven and I think the ending will be somewhat unexpected.

Tivela isn't making an appearance in this installment, as she's in Morrowind in her tower. We'll see her and Andrano once more when we'll revisit a Victory That Broke the Chains one last time.

Hircine has something cooked up. I'll explain it in the next chapter. But some similarities can be seen with the Elder Scrolls III expansion, Bloodmoon. The only difference is . . . we're in his realm and not in Solstheim.

Thanks, Colonel!


Grits: Indeed. She's fascinated by everything. For now. She's never been outside Tel Bratheru or Azura's Coast. This is new and alien to her, and to the untrained eye, it is wondrous. But as we've seen, her initial amazement was fleeting at best as she realizes she's in a very dangerous place.

Yes, that is Vera's mother. She has her own role to play in this story, as those Carterious. You'll find she's very similar to her daughter in some ways but very different in attitude. I think you'll like her.

Thanks, Grits!

Destri: Fortunately there are weapons, unfortunately Elsavia has been a house-slave all her life. She's never wielded a weapon before. She's beyond her comfort zone here and has to depend on Daenlin for aid.

Hmm. Considering Hircine once created a lycanthropic Daedroth, you can expect some horrors lurking out there in all shapes and sizes. This is a Daedric Realm after all. Not limited to animals.

Nit fixed. Thanks!

Mcbadgere: Welcome to the Great Hunt, friend! Enjoy your stay! I hope you like it.

==


From the private journal of Kraven Desselius:

"Hircine hasn't specified what—or who—am I to hunt and kill. But I'd thought it best to get moving. I hear horns out there. I know I'm not the only hunter in this place. But I know when it comes down to it, a man can do what a man will do. I'll kill whatever Hircine tells me to kill. If it means giving him back my soul's receipt, passage back to Cyrodiil and a parting gift with Elsavia at my side.

Being a killer I can attest to one thing: I know another killer when I see one. It takes one to know one. I can tell by that murderous glint look in their eye. I can tell by their gait, by their scars and the way they handle their weapons. I can tell by the way they talk . . .Why all these murderers are gathered here is beyond me. But I have a growing suspicions. I know Hircine didn't pluck me from Nirn to deposit me here to be alone among the natives. I sense something is afoot. I can't tell these people I know what's happening. They'll figure it out for themselves soon enough. Why they're here confuses me.

I've often heard Daedric Lords choose champions from all walks of life. Tivela told me on numerous occasions that Boethia makes her(his) followers kill one another to prove their worth. Hircine doesn't strike me as a duplicitous entity but I refuse to rule out the possibility that these other killers are here for his amusement and that we are part of a dangerous game. Out of them all I know more is at stake. I don't think any of these scarred bastards sold their soul to keep themselves and their family fed. No matter how professional they may be I don't think any of them have what it takes to go above and beyond, to plunge their hands into the muck and mire and blood and flesh to obtain their right. None of them have that immeasurable desire. But who am I kidding. I judged too much before and look where that got me.

I'm hungry. I need to eat.

I need to find Elsavia, too."


=4=
Tamriel's Most Notorious Killers.


The woman never lowered her bow. Her eyes was locked at Kraven.“I’ve never seen this forest and I’ve been to most. The topography is all wrong. I take it you’ve been dropped here, too?”

Kraven nodded. “Aye.”

Moving to the side to stay clear from the arrow’s way, the Nord spoke. “Could be Elsweyr.”

“Too hot for this time of year,” the woman said, her bow following his movement. “This isn’t any forest I’ve been to.”

Kraven wrapped his fingers around his sword. He didn’t like bowmen too much. Her arms looked to be trembling just a bit. Maybe it was the shock of being transported to a Daedric realm without realizing it or maybe her arms were tired. Or maybe it was a ruse to fool them into thinking she was weak.

After all, Kraven thought, these people don’t look to be the average citizen. They look like professional killers. Elite life-takers. Heavy-hitters. He fit in just fine.

He made a step to the side and the Bosmer’s bow tracked him. He saw her eyes never leave him.

Kraven felt a warm anticipation. After minutes of behavioral cloak and pretense, of holding on to his cover and pretending he didn’t know what was going in, he was looking forward to doing a little straightforward, uncomplicated ass-kicking.

But then he caught the tone of his own thoughts, and he sighed.

No man was perfect. All had flaws against which they suffered and struggled with every day. Kraven’s personal flaws were public knowledge and well known to every man and woman of close acquaintance; he made no secret of them. On the contrary: it was part of Kraven’s particular worth and greatness that he could acknowledge his weaknesses, and was not afraid to ask for help in dealing with them.

The stars had written his sign of the Warrior.

His applicable flaw, here: he loved to fight and he had a short temper. This, in a man, was very dangerous.

And Kraven was a very dangerous man.

“I saw more men,” she said behind the protection of her arrow. “Not far from here.”

Kraven didn’t care for other men, not much. The only people he needed to find was Daenlin and Elsavia. He knew for certain they were in Oblivion. But in this endless realm of forest it could take him years to find them.

He couldn’t begin to contemplate the vastness of Oblivion. This place could very well be infinite in size. And that alone wasn’t the sole problem: the denizens of this plane was.

He had to move.

In haste and sans patience, Kraven made steps to her direction. The woman’s feet took her a few paced back.

She was startled.

“Where?” Kraven asked.

“Why?” she asked.

Muscle bunched along his jaw, and his knuckles whitened on his sword’s handgrip. Smoldering threat burned the calm from his dark eyes.

“So I can find out,” he said through his teeth, “who put me in this gods-forsaken place.”

The wood elf shook her head. “Maybe you haven't noticed, but something going’s on here. You get it? I keep hearing horns.”

A thin blow in the distance swelled to become a blast. Other blasts joined in, rising in pitch and volume both.

Hunting horns, it seemed: Kraven turned to his new companions. “All the reason to get moving. Whatever the hell that is, we’ll stay away from it. I’m going to find more people.”

It was much safer this way, he thought. When prey are bunched together, there is a better chance of survival for one of them.

“Check whatever you have on you,” Kraven told them. “None of us been here before. We don’t want to go about unprepared.”

The men worked fast, checking themselves for water, food, potions, knives and other weapons. One of them even had a sack of coin, but Kraven doubted such trinket had worth here.

Time had passed and Kraven cut his way through the thickness of the forest, slicing away at branches and shrubs to clear a path. His feet were caught in roots multiple times, and once a stick had whacked him in the face. It made him all the more furious as he swung his sword until he came to a clearing where he and the others saw commotion.

Two men were caught in a struggle. One Breton and the other an Orc. He watched along with the others as the green brute pounded the Breton with his big fists. The Orsimer was armored to the teeth. He looked like one who had worked with the tremendous weight of his armor since childhood and has the frame to carry it, no doubt shrugging it off the chafing and immobility as just another hardship to endure.

The cuirass he wore was thick and functional. The edges were sharp and jagged. The gauntlets and sabatons were punctuated with sharp spines Kraven knew was meant to provide further anguish to those punched, booted, or manhandled. To prevent self-inflicted wounds, fur was sewn into the folds, further increasing the bulk. A Warhammer hung from his back and suffered from the same ludicrous lack of subtlety. His head was covered by a black iron halfhelm shaped like a cone.

Kraven’s fingers burnt in the forge too many times with Orcish material . . .

The Breton on the other hand was draped in prison clothes. Unlike the Orsimer, he was frail and looked like he hasn’t eaten in days. He swore at the brute atop of him. The human was red-haired and freckled and had just a shiv to defend himself.

The fighting stopped when he spotted Kraven and those with him.

“You’re on his side?” he asked.

The Orc stepped off of him and grunted.

“No.” Kraven said.

He eyed each and every one of them before scoffing. “Strength in numbers, right?”

“Something like that.” The woman said from beside Kraven.

“Who are you?” asked the dark elf, looking at the Orc.

The Orc removed his helmet to reveal a half-burnt face. “Chieftan. By Mauloch, what is this place?”

“We’re all trying to figure that out.”

The ruddy Breton spat a glob of blood. “I want to know what’s going on. But we should get that fellow trapped in a hole.”

==


“Help! Help!” the man cried from within a hole. He was covered in head to toe in mud and was even skinner than the Breton. He had the green robes of some religious man, the likes of which Kraven was familiar with back in Cyrodiil. He had a Nibenese accent, too. He had short blond hair, and his skin was white and clear, absent any battle-scars. He looked frightened, and his screaming irritated Kraven.

“Help!”

“Quiet!” Kraven said. “You’re making too much noise!”

The man turned from inside the deep hole, and swallowed hard. “Oh thank the Divines! I thought I was a goner. Please—help me up!”

The first to reach out for him was the Nord. The Orc and the Bosmer held him as he yanked out the man from the round seven-foot deep pit. It was easier for someone below to pull someone in than it was for him to be brought out. Kraven saw that the Nord was cautious in aiding this man.

Who seemed to be out of place . . .except for that red ointment smudged around his forehead that was now something common among them.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Varinius—a healer from the chapel of Stendarr.”

“From Chorrol?” Kraven had to ask.

“Yes . . .” he said, surprised and with a smile as he removed the mud from his robe and arms. “You’re from Cyrodiil?”

Kraven answered his question with one of his own. “Do you have any idea where you are?”

“No,” the man confessed, looking a bit nervous around armed people. Or perhaps he felt safe but rather skittish. “I was—I don’t remember where I was. Where am I? Who are you people?”

“We better get moving,” Kraven said to him and the group of killers. “We’ll explain to him along the way.”

The Orc brute moved out, shoving the Breton with his shoulder. The human swore and made a move to retaliate when the Orc froze, along with Kraven and the rest who went along.

Kraven saw a man standing, hands to his side in a non-threatening manner. He was a High Elf. Like the majority he was armored with his own gear. High Elves have a disdain for iron, steel, or other materials of the common people, as a former blacksmith he knew the more exotic ores and minerals are part of the forging process, which could of been as convoluted as their patterns of speech, which he confessed seemed nonexistent with this Altmer. A lengthy katana rested at his side, embedded with glass details, golden pommel, and stylized eagle wings and heads. It was common knowledge the High Elves favored weapons that matched their own countenance: elongated, barbed, and often coated in gold.

He looked around, as if lost. Everyone asked him questions but he shrugged. In the end, Kraven guessed he was mute. It didn’t matter, though. Like everyone there, he too had that mark and his silence would mean less chatter. Kraven wanted to be attuned to the realm without any distractions.

He moved out again.

Unlike his companions, the Bosmeri spoke without an accent. And she knew her way around a forest. Perhaps that was why she seemed to be so confident. Kraven gathered from their conversation that she had spent much of her earlier years in Valenwood. After what he'd seen of the Bosmer and their eating habits, he refused to let himself imagine what this woman’s childhood must have been like.

The big, hot-headed Orc chieftan was called Gro-Nak Ragbur. The Imperial healer was named Varinius . The Breton criminal, whose teeth showed yellow stains, was called Lavosier. The Altmer never spoke. A knurl of scar joined the corner of his mouth to his left ear, and his right hand was missing its ring finger.

In the trek through the thick brush, the killers spoke to each other. Eyes on his sword’s handgrip, Kraven gave no sign that he was paying attention; their chatter consisted what he would expect from people who were brought into an unknown place: a mix of Where are we? —and I’m going to kill who’s responsible—while they sorted through the adrenaline-charged chaos of imagery that was inevitably the memory of being taken into a Daedric Realm, which they had no clue.

The Bosmer woman glanced at Kraven from time to time. What's with her anyway? She never took her eyes off of him. It was almost as if she was trying to get his interest or get information out of him.

“You any good with that bow?” the healer asked from behind Kraven. The warrior didn’t need to look back to know the other human was talking to the elf woman.

“I’ll hit a walking target in front of me with my eyes closed before he could know what hit him,” she said from behind him. It was a response that twisted in Kraven’s stomach like a knife.

He burned to ask what she had meant by that—but he wouldn't. He couldn't. He couldn't try and antagonize the woman and cause trouble. He was half sick with dread already, which was no state to be in Oblivion; he would need as clear and open a mind as all his gladiator training and discipline could produce. He couldn't risk contaminating his perceptions with strife amongst potential allies.

Though he couldn't say for certain that it would be any more chancy than spending more time with these people from the corners of Tamriel. They worried him; they had enough bloody years on their backs to be unpredictable, and enough savagery to be dangerous and powerful.

And then there was the woman again, who was at best sane.

Out of all of them it was her who tried to make conversation.

“I think we should rest,” she said as she tried to catch up behind him. ”You look like you could rest, too.”
Rest right now wasn’t in his vocabulary, and neither were any other words.

“You got a name?” the woman asked again, louder this time. The trees were thinning now, and before long the group was out of them. A bedrock stretched before them, dry and barren while ahead was a forest that looked even deeper.

Kraven stopped, breathing heavy. “Look, if you want to play scout leader, good. If you want to rest, fine. But I’m not doing this. I’m better off on my own.” He kept walking.

“You want to see something we should be concerned about?”

Kraven paused, sighed and turned at the woman and she motioned her head so that he could follow. He did.
While the others sat to gather their strength, he and she studied the ground beneath their feet. There were pawprints in the rock that was for certain made long, long ago. The pawprints were made by some carnivorous mammal. That wasn’t strange. What was odd was that it led to footprints. The prints made by the feet of a man or mer continued on but the animal prints ceased to be.

Lycanthrope, Kraven thought. It was possible that it was a werewolf. But he kept that to himself. Instead, he thought about present problems.

"These are ancient . . . thousands of years old."

He feigned surprise. “Well, between that and the sun I say we have a big problem.”

“What about the sun?”

Kraven looked up to the yellow celestial body. “It hasn’t moved since it rose two hours ago.”

“What do you think is really going on here?”

“What do I think?” He said as looked around. Dangerous people all gathered together in the Hunting Grounds: The Nord, the Dark Elf, the Argonian, the Breton, the Orc, the Altmer and the Imperial. ”I see a rogue battlemage from Skyrim’s Mages Guild. A Camonna Tong enforcer. The Orc chieftan from Orsinium. Imperial Legion’s most wanted criminal. The Beautiful’s agent of the Summerset Isles, and . . . him. They’re all heavy hitters, but the Imperial over there doesn’t belong.”

“Belong to what?”

“I’d say each of us were chosen.”

“And what about you? You know everyone. You seem to know where you’re going. I’d say you’re a Fighter’s Guild member. I'm guessing a forester.”

“Not exactly.”

She went through the different possible factions and organizations, but one was right on the mark. “Someone who kills for sport. A gladiator.”

“Aye,” he said. "I was a gladiator."

She didn’t look too happy. “Hmm.”

He didn’t look either. “You have a problem with that?”

“Not at the moment.”

Rest time was over and he had no time to spare. He continued onward but not before saying, “Good.”

He had a feeling.

He felt distressed.

Unhappy.

This had been . . . strange. Unsatisfying.

His rigorous self-honesty wouldn't allow him to deny the actual word that described the feeling.

It had been uncomfortable.

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Feb 13 2015, 09:44 PM


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And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Acadian
post Feb 5 2015, 01:19 AM
Post #17


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From: Las Vegas



The journal entries make a nice addition. However. . . the font style + italics without increasing the font size makes reading them difficult – even on my 24 inch flatscreen with 20/20 vision. I ended up pasting the entries into a word document and adjusting font etc to be more readable. Just a consideration. smile.gif

Wow, the band of dangerous misfits from all over Tamriel is growing!

Their destiny in this strange and foreboding land, however, is still very uncertain. ohmy.gif'


Edit: I noticed you did some tweaking to Kraven's journal appearance - very helpful, thanks!

This post has been edited by Acadian: Feb 6 2015, 03:03 PM


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Colonel Mustard
post Feb 6 2015, 12:39 PM
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From: The darkest pit of your soul. Hi there!



So there's something like the Bloodmoon going on, it seems. I'm guessing Hircine is bringing together a 'pack' of the most dangerous people he can find on Nirn and pitting them against his own beasts? So...it's Elder Scrolls equivalent of Predators? I'm down with this. I am so down with this.

QUOTE
A lengthy katana rested at his side, embedded with glass details, golden pommel, and stylized eagle wings and heads. It was common knowledge the High Elves favored weapons that matched their own countenance: elongated, barbed, and often coated in gold.

This was probably my favourite line of this chapter, and having recently re-read China Miéville's The Scar I'm currently on a 'graceful master swordsman' kick, so I'm looking forward to seeing what this fellow might be capable of.

I was also going to chime in with Acadian and say that the tiny text did not a fun reading experience make, but it looks like you've already fixed it. Good show.
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Grits
post Feb 6 2015, 03:18 PM
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From: The Gold Coast



Aha, you’ve added journal entries to the beginning. I will go back and read. And a nice mystery to look forward to in how the journal came to be. smile.gif

QUOTE
Two men were caught in a struggle. One Breton and the other an Orc. He watched along with the others as the green brute pounded the Imperial with his big fists.

I’m guessing that the Imperial here is the Breton getting his butt kicked? I like the description that also explained how the Orsimer is experienced with heavy armor.

This is a great bunch of characters. I especially enjoyed the description of the Altmer. I’m looking forward to seeing what this group can do.

QUOTE
“I’ll hit a walking target in front of me with my eyes closed before he could know what hit him,” she said from behind him. It was a response that twisted in Kraven’s stomach like a knife.

You’re right, I do like this Bosmer! biggrin.gif


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Darkness Eternal
post Feb 13 2015, 09:47 PM
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From: Coldharbour




Acadian: Many thanks, Acadian! I have changed the size to suit your pleasure, and that of other readers as well.

Quite a pack of ill-bred misfits! Bunch of heavy-hitters gathered in one place can't bode well, can it? Hmm. Not many people escaped the Hunting Grounds. In fact, there has been only one mortal ever known to escape and Hircine rewarded this mortal with his peeled hide. When did this happen? I don't know but it was before the events of this story.

So that being said, it will be very difficult and nearly impossible for them to escape. But Hircine is quite the sportsman, and he allows his prey a genuine chance of escape smile.gif

Thanks!

Colonel: That's what it appears. In the Bloodmoon ritual, Hircine chose only the most capable of people. Killers and men that proved their worth. Tharsten, Carius, Kaarstag the giant, the Nerevarine to fight his hounds. We know from lore that's the event where Hircine goes to Nirn . . . but what if he pulled people into his realm?

Each and every character here has their own set of skills, the Altmer is an interesting own in his own right. He's a member of the Beautiful.

Grits:Yeah. Journal entries wouldn't make sense since all Kraven brought with him was a sword and the clothes on his back.

Originally he was meant to be an Imperial. Eh, must change this embarrassing nit.

Thanks. Kraven's keen in seeing armors and weapons. Remember, he used to work as a blacksmith too hen he was stationed in Tel Bratheru. While he may not be capable of making such fine and rare armors, he does understand about them wink.gif

Thank you all!

From the private journal of Kraven Desselius:



I should have been working my way toward Lord Hircine already. I could have headed somewhere where the locals may get me an audience with the Prince. When facing royalty or nobility I’d be better dressed for the occasion. Not that I have any damns to give. But nevertheless being around dangerous-looking people armored to the teeth while I’m dressed like a Blacksmith isn’t comforting. Yet I’m here.

Wandering the Hunting Grounds with these people.

I’m concerned.

I discovered that I’m afraid. Afraid of making another mistake.

It's an unfamiliar feeling. Not until Tel Bratheru did I truly understand that such a thing was even possible. Not even being kidnapped and shipped to Morrowind put enough sense to me

At Tel Bratheru, it was taught and almost forced as a fact that the true mistake a man ever makes is to disobey. Slaves do not “figure things out” or “come up with a plan.” Such actions are the opposite of what being a slave means. Under the whip we’ve been conditioned to serve and to work and to fear punishment. Our warrior training meant we had to trust our instincts, our feelings, and not so much out intellect. That our minds were our own enemies and that endless toil was our true and final calling.

To put it another way: slaves are not trained to think. They are trained to serve.

But at Tel Bratheru, my knowing failed me.

I'm not a slave anymore.

And Hircine has something else going on here. I hope I do not fail him.

The Hunting Grounds has already taught me that the tragedy of misjudgment that was Tel Bratheru was not an isolated event. It can happen again.

Will happen again.

I don't know how to stop it.

To have come here alone with Daenlin and Elsavia made sense . . . but it was intellectual sense, and the intellect is a deceiver. To go after Hircine myself and speak to him feels right . . . but my feelings can no longer be trusted. The shadow of what might happen turned my instincts against me. But I had to come here.
I didn't know what to do, and I didn't know how to decide what to do.


=4=
Welcome To The Jungle.


The group had their own pace against the forest. The faster Kraven tried to move, the more resistance he met: heavy branches and thick, in-your-face foliage accompanied by hostile swarm of mosquitoes the size of chickens. To these, he responded with a simple movement. He never bothered to emphasize this with his words; the swing of a sword was good enough.

The pressure of the terrain and the group brought his pursuit up against the law of diminishing returns: Kraven couldn't keep cutting down leaves without heaving and drawing too much attention or chopping the Bosmer woman by accident. She was always close behind. Sometimes when Kraven looked back to look at her, she was looking back. He’d thought he might detect a hint of a smile, but his vision was blurry from the sheer amount of sweat stinging his eyes: was that smile encouraging? Friendly? Polite? Malicious?

Predatory?

He heard the rushing music of water.

And he found his strength to go faster.

He followed the sound through a maze of trees that twisted and forked until he saw a glimpse of the silver thread that was a river. Without any hesitation he went toward it, cutting in half any vines and branches that threatened to impede his movement. At this point, not even the gods themselves could stop him from quenching his thirst.

The river was a long, dizzying distance that ran far ahead and emptied into a waterfall judging by the speed of the flow. The Imperial and the others knelt down at the edge and drank. The water in Kraven’s mouth was fresh, and he gave himself to it like a lover would. It wasn’t wine but it was just as welcomed. Wine right now would blur his wits anyway.

The Nord and the Orc had flasks, which they filled up with the fresh water. The woman beside Kraven carried two, and offered one to him. He looked at her and then at the flask, wondering what made her wish to give away one when she could have double the source of refreshment. He didn’t ponder on it too much.

When someone offers something, he thought, you take it.

Kraven grabbed the flask from her hand and filled it. “Gratitude,” he said.

The woman scooped up the river water with her hand and drank. “Don’t mention it. Thought you'd need some for the trip.”

“What is that?” the comment came from the Imperial healer, who pointed at something large and brown in the distance. Kraven took another drink and went to investigate with the others heading the same direction, though with a measured pace.

Desselius saw that it was dead when he was a few feet away. The carcass was clouded in flies, and the scavengers had been at it—parts of the bloody hide had been scattered for two hundred meters across the shore. Studying it for more than half a minute, he saw with growing dread that this was a werebear. It looked no bigger than the one he used to collect fur to open the portal or the ones that attacked Tel Bratheru.

It was dead as dead can be.

Ursine death happened in the natural world. Mundane bears died, from diseases, infections, old age, and sometimes they were killed by other bears and even wolves and what was left was an offering to the surviving wildlife, including their own kind. All part of the natural cycle; been happening since the Dawn era. But this wasn’t any ordinary bear, so he ruled out disease and infections and any predators of a bear would seem odd, out of place.

Kraven stopped, absorbed the scene. Felt the wrongness.

“Something’s not right here,” he said. His voice was hushed; against the rush of the bloody river, only he would be able to hear it.

He approached, looking for other bears, but he didn’t see any. The sense of wrongness increased as he moved along, sending a chill down his spine, stirring the little hairs on his neck. As he got closer he realized what it was that bothered him: the creature’s head.

It wasn’t there.

The brown males in Nirn fought during the rut and one would die, though that was unusual. Most of the time, once one of them saw he was losing, he would back down and run off. Big bears were tough, they could survive plenty of claws and biting, but every so often, a wound would be too deep and prove to be fatal. This bear had met a violent end, he knew that. And maybe some smaller animal—a wolf, fox, perhaps—had dragged off his head, but that wasn’t the case. Not in this place.

First, it would have had to pry it loose from the body and from the look if it, the bear hadn’t been dead for too long. Aye, the blood was gelid and dry and the entrails gone, which happened quite fast, but it might have been killed two, three days ago, the smell was very rank and there wasn’t enough yet for the head to have come off, even considering the warmth of the realm. The flies and ants had no power to do it.

So, where was the head?

The answer to that he couldn’t be certain, but it was enough to make him wonder about the first possibility that came to mind.

If that was the case, they were long gone.

There weren’t any targets except flies and clouds of mosquitoes, and he wore enough mud to keep those off of him. When he got to the remains it didn’t take long to confirm his suspicion. There wasn’t a lot left after the local scavengers had taken their turns digging in, it stank to the sky, but there, on the hide, was a slash mark clean enough so that it wouldn’t been done by a blade and not a claw.

Damn. What he had thought: trophy hunters.

The hunters he met in Hircine’s shrine in Nirn had been trophy collectors, who killed for more than sustenance. In a plane lorded over by the Daedric Prince of the Hunt, it was clear that this place was packed with sportsmen, among other things. The bear’s head was gone, maybe most of its claws and internal organs missing. Had to be trophy hunters.

In Cyrodiil, foreign hunters came to collect ingredients from limp-[censored] old Altmer rich men who believed they could regain their potency from the strength of a Cyrodiilic bear’s body parts. Men who believed powdered Minotaur horn mixed with mammoth testicles and stag gallbladders all made into a potion would do the trick.
Kraven’s jaw tightened. A sick weight gathered in his chest. Some things did make sense after all, and the sense this made turned his stomach.

He looked at each of the people with him. No sign of guilt came from any of their faces; perhaps the violence here was so recent that its echoes washed away any such subtleties. This was, after all, a lycanthrope. It had to be something dangerous. Perhaps another werebear or a werewolf or even Hircine himself might have killed the beast.

Hulgarth looked surprise. “I haven’t seen this thing in my life. I heard about them in stories. Only in legends. I can’t believe my eyes. Cursed creatures! Hircine’s cursed ones!”

Kraven just couldn’t believe it was missing a head. “Whatever it is, it’s dead and what killed it can’t be far off.”

The light that came from the sun was diaphanous, the air warm and drowsy, astir with darting buggy shapes and the chattering of birds and monkey-calls and then at once it calmed. Shushed.

It was just after Kraven had touched his sword’s hilt that heard a rustling in the trees across the river from the other side came a frightened, frail, realm-ravaged, mashed-in face of a Redguard. He said nothing, just looked at him and the others with his bulging eyes and scratched at his naked and bleeding black scarred belly below which a pair of gray pants hung in tatters. A fresh wound glistened on his cheek, shiny as an eel cast up on a mud bank. He had no weapons.

Kraven was seized by reasonless fear.

He was troubled and it was if he was trying to discern if Kraven and the group were threats. After sometime of silence from both sides of the river, he looked back and crossed the rushing water. He breathed with heavy gasps and his movements bespoke of sheer fear of something. The men drew their weapons, and the Bosmer her bow. Kraven only watched.

“Help!” the man managed to say amidst the roar of the water. “Help me! Gods! Help!”

The water was too strong and it took him several feet away before he clung to a stone and used it to climb on another one, and another one, careful as to not slip into the perilous river. Kraven moved in to aid the man when the rocks near the man began to tremble and shake. In a matter of seconds the surface of the water broke and out came a set of teeth that clamped shut around the man’s waist and pulled him under.

What came last from the man was a wailing cry.

The river turned red, and from those crimson depths came a scaled creature’s that was something out of a nightmare. It stood on two legs, had a sweeping tail and was around eight feet tall. His snout was long, eyes as bright as fire and serpentine in nature. Its back was pointed with sharp scales.

The beast chewed with ravenous abandon until nothing in its mouth was left but ripped cloth and flesh and half of a hand hanging from the side its teeth. The beast turned to him and roared, proclaiming to the entire realm that it was time to feast. Kraven at once pulled out his sword.

The reptilian monstrosity climbed out of the water and stalked toward them, jaws open and red-stained teeth bared and razor-sharp claws out to get them. A bastardized hybrid between man and crocodile.

“Kill it!” Halgarth shouted. He prepared his staff, the others their swords and stars and bow.

It was running right toward Kraven. He was frozen in place.

No manner that he could see would get him out of this.

Doesn't mean I won’t, he thought. Just means it won't be easy. Or certain.

Or even likely
.

He took one deep breath to compose himself.

One breath was all it took. If the fate should bring death to him here in the Hunting Grounds, he was ready.

Or at least, that’s what he tried telling himself.

Legends die after all.


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 17th February 2020 - 02:14 AM