Thank you for your kind words about the opening paragraph. That was the last part of this section to come together. I knew I wanted to jump right in, but without completely disorienting everyone. (Like I did later.
) I’m so sorry about the confusion when Darnand started in about the Sigil Stone without any warning. Some new fangled magic is the perfect first guess as to what he was talking about, given what we know about him. I’m thrilled that you thought that, even though I’m sorry about the head-scratching I gave you. I really didn’t mean to! This is a good lesson for me to remember when he is
bringing up his new ideas. Thank you for drawing it so gently to my attention. D. Foxy:
I have occasionally wondered what the hell I was thinking, trying to tell this story. Maybe I should have started with a story about a bake sale.
Thank you so much, Foxy.mALX:
I’m laughing about the lot lizard. There are some times when sunny optimism can work against you. Is this meat still good?
is one of those times. Also, Should I hit that?
If you have to ask...
Thank you for pointing out the tone of their morning chat. They’ve reached the point where they can be grumpy with each other and not have to worry about misunderstandings. The three days outside
the Gate were hard on Darnand.ghastley:
Darnand would like to forget that Jerric has surpassed him in alchemy.
I added this:Say, look in my pack and get out my mortar and pestle. Felen gave them to me for Saturalia. You know, since I made Master of Alchemy.” Jerric couldn’t resist the little dig.
I’ll try to remember to put a reminder in when Jerric starts slinging massive spells around, too. That would also be impossible without his birthsign. Thank you very much for mentioning this!! SubRosa:
Our Apprentice birthsign mage is not Deadlands ready, but I’m glad you mentioned the possibility. Three days of fighting daedra with the soldiers taught him a lot. Lildereth wouldn’t risk the Deadlands for Jerric. She would wish him well, remind him of his boot heels, and melt into the trees. Besides, she has the dog to think of.
Jerric is not the most qualified, he’s just the most willing. Thank you for pointing out his new, conservative tactics. He’s learning!King Coin:
Jerric has a big problem with illusion spells, because they trick the mind into believing something that isn’t real. When he realized what Abiene’s light spell was actually doing, his first impulse was to deck her so that it would stop. Of course, it wouldn’t have ended the spell and thankfully he stopped himself, but that was his gut reaction. This is one place where he would agree with Rhano about magic. You are right about Abiene’s unspoken reason for not openly, um, dating Jerric.
Chapter 11, now you’ve met Lildereth!
I’m glad you like her. The walk to Whitmond was a facepalm for Darnand. Preoccupied and overconfident can be a bad combination!
The daedroth would have torn through the zombies, but they were still trying to be as stealthy as they could. I imagine a daedroth’s roar would echo throughout the ruin. Plus they were supposed to be practicing not burning each other to death or disemboweling each other in combat. You are right about Lildereth’s somewhat menacing skill set. She’s the stuff of Jerric’s nightmares. That flare toss meant a lot to the other two, I’m glad you pointed it out. Kazaera:
Welcome to the story!! I am so delighted that you are reading, especially since Jerric might not be your usual choice of hero. I appreciate you looking past the big, hulking qualities and giving him a chance. I hope very much that he and his friends can keep your interest.
I’m glad you liked the Chillrend mishap. It was the perfect
sword for him, and I still feel bad about taking it away. But it added much more to the story for him to lose it, so it had to go.Where we are:
On the way to Kvatch, the Jerric and Darnand found a Gate. Jerric closed it while Darnand assisted the Legion’s and Kvatch County Militia’s defense. Chapter 12: Return to Kvatch, Part 4
Jerric rode along the Gold Road, looking up at the Kvatch plateau. The city walls stood stark against the midday sky, no longer softened by the great trees that once grew inside the south wall. On my street, Jerric thought. Outside my windows. He had the feeling that his now and before weren’t really connected. They couldn’t both be real.
A word from Darnand brought him back. It doesn’t matter what he said, Jerric realized. Just that he said something.
“Kip,” Darnand said, nodding at Jerric’s mount. “Clesa chose well for you.”
“Yeah.” Jerric gave Kip’s neck a pat. The tractable gelding did not challenge Jerric’s limited skills, and he and Flash seemed to have a settling influence on Banner. Moments later they reached the junction and turned the horses toward Kvatch.
Before they reached the first switchback, they found traffic halted at a wooden barrier across the road. There was room on either side for a wagon to pass, one going in each direction. A man in leather armor waved a woodcutter with his loaded cart through the right side and on toward Kvatch. The two archers in front of Jerric and Darnand walked through next, showing the soldier some papers. The man’s black wolf armband told Jerric he was a member of the Kvatch militia. His spotless jerkin and fresh face marked him as a new recruit.
The soldier looked up at Jerric and Darnand, holding his palm out to halt them. They waited while an empty ox cart rumbled past on the other side of the road. “Papers?” he asked in a friendly tone.
“No,” said Jerric.
“All right, then.” The youth gestured through the barricade. “You’ll need to get your permits at the next checkpoint. New security procedure, keeps out the scoundrels and riffraff. No one breaks the law in Kvatch these days, at least not more than once. Will you need to board your horses?”
“There’s no stable at the plateau,” said the guard. “Are you familiar with the old wholesale market?”
“Yeah,” said Jerric. “I know it.”
“Well some of it’s still market space, but most of the back is taken up now by the militia encampment. If you go past Butchers Row you’ll find the road around to the livery stable. It’s the same as before. You’ll need your papers to get any farther up the road, and I doubt they’ll let you…” The soldier’s voice trailed off when his wandering eyes found Jerric’s Wolf shield. He stood silent for a long moment looking at Jerric and Kip, then over at Darnand on Banner, and finally at Flash. “I expect they’ll let you ride all the way into the throne room, if you like, sir,” he gulped. His wide eyes held more than Jerric wanted to see. Jerric nudged Kip back into a walk, leading Flash through the barrier. Darnand and Banner followed.
When they stopped outside the livery stable, a Bosmeri lass approached to hold the horses. Jerric guessed from her relatively clean boots and slight frame that she was not in the muck-shifting end of the business. Darnand started toward the stable office to make arrangements, by their unspoken agreement. Jerric couldn’t shake the feeling that suggesting a lower price to a merchant was the same as calling him a liar, while Darnand seemed to believe they should work as hard to keep their coins as they had to earn them.
Jerric’s eyes followed the road to where it disappeared around the bluff toward Tannertown and Pottersville. He guessed that the new Running Wolf stables must lie in that direction.
“Will you be staying in the city?” The Bosmer looked up at Jerric with a smile as quiet as her voice. Her eyes, skin, and hair were all almost the same light brown. That coloring would be dull on a human, Jerric decided. But there’s no way to make a Bosmer un-lively, once the cheer comes out in them.
“Yeah,” he replied. “I’m Jerric.”
“I am Tilenwen.”
“Pleased to meet you. We’ll be here about a week, probably. Maybe less.”
Tilenwen nodded to their packs. “You should bring your gear up with you, it is likely that you will be more comfortable in your own tent. I will be happy to accompany you to the plateau, then bring your pack horse back to the stable.”
“That’s Flash. The bay is Banner, and this chestnut is Kip. Sounds like a good plan, Tilenwen.”
“Kip is a flaxen chestnut,” Tilenwen corrected him. Her voice seemed to hold the horses in some kind of thrall as she spoke to them.
By the time Jerric had shifted their saddle bags, Darnand had returned with an Imperial stable boy. The lad walked away with Kip and Banner while Flash nickered after them. Tilenwen led them back to the Kvatch Road.
Not far up the switchbacks they encountered a more heavily guarded barrier. Tilenwen directed them to a small, orderly group of tents set off to the side. One had a rough table placed in front under a simple canvas awning. Jerric and Darnand joined the line waiting to give their names to the official seated at the table. This tent had a wooden platform floor, framed walls, and pitched ceiling covered in canvas panels. Jerric decided that the rows of wedge-shaped tents in the encampment must be used for sleeping, while these framed tents were where most business and living were conducted.
The men stood silently, moving with the line until it was their turn to step forward. “Name?” asked the Dunmer woman at the table.
“Darnand Penoit of Anvil in County Anvil, mage, Associate of the Mages Guild. I wish to visit Kvatch on Mages Guild business. I intend to stay for several days, at the least.” Jerric realized that while his mind had been wandering, Darnand had been paying attention.
The mer wrote in her ledger, then retrieved a paper from one of her stacks and filled in the blanks. She rolled it and handed it to Darnand. “That covers it. Here is your visitor’s permit, keep it with you. You will need to see me again if you are here for longer than one week. Enjoy your stay.” Darnand stepped to the side, and the mer’s eyes went to Jerric. She took a moment looking over the various weapons he had belted and strapped about his person. “Let me guess. Lace maker?”
Jerric cleared his throat. “Jerric of… Kvatch. Battlemage. Associate of the Mages Guild and Apprentice of the Fighters Guild. Uh, the rest is the same as his.”
The Dunmer’s quill remained frozen in the air as a series of emotions passed over her face. She ended on consternation. “Sir, if you are a city resident, you do not require a visitor’s permit. Apologies. Are you returning to live in Kvatch?”
Jerric wished he had thought to say he was Rhano from Anvil, though he supposed the Wolf on his shield would object. “Uh, not at this time. What do you need to know?”
“Nothing,” she said, still flustered. “I will issue a permit in case someone asks you for it, but Steward Matius will want to give you residency papers. I am certain that by tonight, no one will question you again. There is a curfew inside the city. After sundown everyone must remain indoors unless they clear it with Captain Inian. The plateau and lower encampment are patrolled night and day, your goods will be safe where you leave them. Work and sales permits are issued by Steward Matius or the Guilds. He will want to see you anyway, sir. If you have any mail, it will be with the Steward.” She rolled up his permit and handed it over the table.
“Thank you,” Jerric said. He found that space opened around them as they made their way to Flash and Tilenwen. Jerric and Darnand showed their papers to the guard, then tucked them away as they walked through the barricade.
Tilenwen chatted as they moved into the old refugee camp. She gestured to the rows of tents that lined the south and east sides of the area. “Here is where the builders dwell. They have their own cookhouse, tavern, and laundry. Many wish to send for their families and become residents of Kvatch, but Steward Matius will not allow it until conditions are safer inside the walls. It is a source of some contention.” She nodded to the row of tents that backed up to the cliff side. These were the taller, framed and walled type. “Here are the smiths, cooper, wheelwright, the armorer… You must know Batul, Jerric.”
“Yeah.” Jerric decided to wait to give his gear to Batul. After
was the only way he could think of it. Dread weighed each step, even as it pulled him up toward the city.
“Watch out!” Tilenwen cried as a mule cart rattled past. “Pee wagon. The drains to Tannertown are still blocked. You can follow your nose to the privies, but the tanners will be happy if you use the piss pots when you can.”
Jerric glanced at the barrels in the wagon bed, then shared a look with Darnand.
“I thought it was said that dreck
rolls down hill,” Darnand remarked. Jerric couldn’t laugh, but he appreciated his friend’s effort.
When they reached the plateau, Tilenwen led them to the side and halted. Jerric looked around, taking in the changes. No sign of the Gate remained but the hardened ground in front of the city gates. All of the dead trees had been removed. The city walls showed no signs of fire, but the damage where the siege crawler had gone over the walls was still evident. The city gates had been replaced. They stood open. Jerric forced his eyes away.
“Welcome to Kvatch Village,” said Tilenwen. She began to point out the landmarks. “There are your market tents, around that little square. Over there to the east is where folk sleep, and the laundry is at the back on the edge of the plateau. There is a new well on that side. The big fire is Carmia’s Cookhouse. That long tent is the meeting hall. All are welcome there.” Now she pointed to their left. “Over there is where you will find most of the guild representatives and some of the craftsmen. They hang their banners outside, or anyone can direct you. The Mages Guild operates inside the city. You will find the bathhouse and brothel at the far edge, near the old well.” She indicated the broad, open area between the road and the city gates. “Here is where the supply wagons stop, even the ones who unload inside the city. It would be a poor place to set up your camp.”
Carmia’s Cookhouse, thought Jerric. That’s a good place to start. He didn’t have any words, so he started piling their packs off to the side, out of the way.
Darnand thanked Tilenwen with some coins while Jerric gave Flash a farewell carrot and a rub on the neck. Darnand stood beside Jerric for a moment before he spoke. “I suggest we speak to an official before we decide where to locate our tent.”
“Yeah,” said Jerric. “I have an old friend to visit before I go in to the guild hall. You start without me. I’ll catch up.”
Darnand gave him a long look. Then he nodded and walked off toward the city gates.
Jerric went directly to the big fire. It was actually several low fires grouped together, each with some cauldron or spit arranged near it. The spits were empty, but Jerric’s nose told him that there was venison in at least one of the pots.
Carmia’s face creased into a smile when she saw him. She tucked her spoon into a deep apron pocket and put out her arms for a hug.
There’s something different about her, Jerric thought as he set her back on her feet. He realized as she pulled away. “You don’t chew garlic anymore!”
“Not with a chapel nearby, I don’t have to worry about everyone’s diseases. Among other things.” She crossed her arms under her bosom and got right to the point. “You were right to send me here. Lavina goes to school in the mornings, and afternoons she helps me or the weavers. She carries Jerric the Doll in a pouch on her back. Says she can’t wait for the babies to start coming, she’s going to open a nursery so their mamas can work. She makes scratches in the dirt with a stick, showing all of her plans. Faustino is a hunter, I couldn’t get him to stay in school. Mostly keeping the rats out of the ruins with that sling you gave him, but some down in the woods. He’s training with a bow. That Altmer fellow from the Guard is teaching him.”
“That’s right, of course you know him. Faustino says the day he turns eighteen, he’s going to put on the Wolf, if they’ll have him.” Carmia wiped her eyes on the edge of her apron. “My boy in the city guard, Jerric. You know I did what I had to so I could get by. Who would think a child of mine would stand tall for what’s right.”
Jerric had a hard time believing it himself. Gnoll’s Meeting Camp had been the home of a vicious bandit clan before Carmia and others there fought to change it. Much of her life was a tale of lawlessness and violence.
“Well, don’t let him get ahead of himself,” Jerric said. “Tell him he’s a scout. If he sees a Gate somewhere, he needs to stay alive and bring word to the Guard. Not take on a bunch of daedra with a sling.”
Carmia nodded. “I tell him the like every morning that he goes off the plateau. That boy is his father’s son, though he never knew him.” Jerric saw her mouth close on the rest of what she was going to say.
Jerric nodded toward the city. “What’s going on in there?”
“It’s bad, I won’t pretend otherwise. I’ve done some shifts in the ruins, as much as I can. Those that are from here, some you can tell by their empty eyes. We won’t see it set right in our lifetime. Steward Matius can explain the plans, I wouldn’t know much. But I can tell you folk are broken down with sorrow, and some don’t want to live. Matilene has men that come to her just so she’ll hold them while they weep. Irmarus Hetarian jumped off the plateau on North Wind’s Prayer, don’t know if you knew him. A few have wandered away, but I expect the rest aim to stay here.”
“Yeah.” Jerric looked at his boots, ashamed at which group he belonged to. “I guess I’ll go along now. I’ll see you later when you ring your dinner bell. You said Matilene’s here?”
Carmia hugged him again. “She runs the bathhouse and brothel, though for now it’s just tents.” Carmia gestured to the plateau’s far western edge with one arm, her other still wrapped around his waist. “Over there. Go see her, you could stand a bath.”
“I will. Thank you.” Jerric disentangled himself. “It’s good to see you here, Carmia.”
Carmia stepped back, wiping her eyes again. She lifted her chin with the pride he used to think was just stubbornness. “I already know you won’t be staying this time. But I live in Kvatch now. I’ll be here to welcome you, when you come back.”
Banner and KipThis post has been edited by Grits: Aug 31 2011, 06:57 PM