OK, here's a little something I've been working for the past few weeks, with Minque's great (and much appreciated) help. Hope you like it, but remember: it's far from perfect, just like everything else in life Cheers !
Edited by minque 27.04.2005
The waves were rolling across the sea, all the way from far north, breaking gently upon the shore and his bloodied legs. The water was unusually cold, even at this time of the year, but that could`ve also been his own imagination; "I have lost too much blood and the death is upon me", he thought, "it’s no wonder I feel so cold... but that is unimportant. My lord, Gods, I’ve failed you... forgive me". He gazed upon the star-filled sky once again, then closed his eyes and fell into a restless sleep, full of memories...
The three of them came from the south, just a few days earlier, directly from Ald´ruhn, two Dunmer scouts and Corvin. The Dunmers, Merisa Dralas and her younger brother, Maiev, were loyal servants of Lord Athyn Sarethi years before this assignment and they were both very (unpleasantly) surprised when they learned that they’d have to be subordinated to this foreigner. No one, not even Sarethi’s troop commanders, had a single clue just what did the lord of Great House Redoran saw in this young man.
Indeed, Corvin was more than a skilled swordsman and gifted tactician; however, he was also an Outlander and, on top of all other things, an unbeliever, a member of the Imperial Cult. In the light of all these things it seemed that only Sarethi knew what was so special about this skinny and unusually pale Redguard hireling.
Corvin came to Morrowind province only recently, looking for his fortune, and after several months with The Great House Redoran, after a series of several difficult patrols in the Ashlands, he gained the reputation of a fearsome fighter and an excellent scout.
During one unfortunate Redoran raid on Berandas, an old Dwemer stronghold which was sanctum for bad daedra worshippers, Corvin’s courage, quick thinking and reactions saved more than just a few lives and he was officially recommended for bravery. But, inspite all these events, everyone still got surprised when Sarethi himself decided to name him the leader of a small group of scouts who had the task to lead the investigation of dark events that took place at Bal Voria, the new Redoran stonghold on the northern shores of Vvardenfell.
Bal Voria was a newly built outpost - merely one guard tower, barracks for several guards and an unfinished wall; it stood against the shores, a bit west of the old daedric ruin of Ashurnabitashpi. It was supposed to be the beginning of a new, larger Redoran stronghold, which would monitor and effectively cut down the cultist activity that had grown stronger within that area for the last several years.
After the initial negotiations with Duke Vedam Dren, concerning the Redoran building rights, and the hardship that followed involving the protests of other two Houses, Duke Dren worried himself with stories about rise of old cults and their dark practices, finally gave in and permitted the Redorans to begin building the stronghold.
The first several weeks on the works have passed, surprisingly without any troubles; the second phase, involving the stationing of 8 men and women at Bal Voria got on the way, and everything seemed to be going smoothly...
Then, just one week before Corvin’s expedition, something happened. Silence has covered the north and no reports were sent from the outpost to Ald Velothi, as usual, for days. The commander of Ald Velothi was worried, and therefore he sent three messengers, one by one, to Bal Voria. Not one had returned. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that something vile had happened to the outpost and its guardians. Velothi and Maar Gan lacked sufficient forces for investigation... so, instead of weakening these two settlements, Athyn Sarethi has ordered a rallying of Redoran soldiers, volunteers from Ald-Ruhn and a small group of Ordinators, to form together a company which would then march to the north, take over Bal Voria and find out what ill fortune has befell their brothers and sisters...
Corvin, along with his two companions, were the spearhead and reconaissance of this entire mission - the silent eye which was to come close and see what exactly happened, full two days before everyone else did the same.
Corvin was all ready in his black-dyed bonemold armor, prepared to go before sunrise that morning even. Since he never travelled with big loads he only took his trusty Dwemer Jinxsword and two silver daggers, some food, a few healing potions, herbs, and a brand new bonemold longbow with two dozen arrows. When he finished packing all the equipment he kneeled down and made a silent prayer to Nine Divines; to each one of the sacred Imperial spirits he gave his gratitude and trust, promising nothing but valiance in combat. After that, he rose and went outside the city gates, where his two companions, fully armed and ready, waited for him. As soon as they saw him they came silently by his side and all three started their march towards north.
Right after morning broke they became aware that they wouldn’t outrun those dark, rainy clouds, which were gathering from southwest throughout the last day, and that soon proved to be truth. At first the rain fell very quietly and scarcely, but as they made their progress to Maar Gan it really started to pour down like nothing Corvin had seen before.
Soaking to the bone, they passed the Redoran stonghold of Bal Isra and continued to march towards Maar Gan in heavy rain. Soon there wasn`t even one alit or nix hound outside; all living creatures and the Ashlander natives had crawled into their dwellings, while the storm raged outside. However, they continued, in silence, and by early afternoon they finally reached the gate of Maar Gan.
"Hey, you fools, what are you doing here in this lovely weather ?" - the guard`s loud voice, barely came to them through the furious wind and rain;"don`t you see that we`re having the end of the world here ? And above that, there is trouble up north... big trouble !"
Corvin yelled back to the guard:
"We know about all this ! We`re coming from Ald´ruhn... in fact, we`re going after that very trouble, but before we do so a hot bowl of kwama- soup and some dry clothes would really raise our spirits !
The guard said something they didn`t hear, and then waved to them to come in from the rain. They entered the barracks and within minutes their clothes were drying by the fireplace, while everyone in there listened, worried, about the reason they came.
"You must be insane to go up there at once, without backup" - one of the guards argued - "we all have orders to stay put here, all of us except our scout - he went just several leagues from that shrine last night and he heard screams and growling, like someone was skinned alive !"
"He also said he saw several bonfires from distance," replied the other guard "Azura save us, they might`ve burned Bal Voria`s men down alive and....."
"That`s enough out of you two! "
Miles Gloriosus, veteran crusader and defender of Gan, stepped up to Corvin and his companions, shaking their hands:
"These two are acting like frightened old women, but you`ll have to forgive them - us all, in fact. We still don`t have a clue what exactly happened in Voria, or what was the fate of our men there, but we believe that Daedra worshippers from Ashurnabitashpi got them all... we already lost one scout who went out there alone, and the other one wasn`t so enthusiastic about testing his luck. However, he did see fires from a distance and heard several screams, but he still isn`t sure whether they were human or animal. He also said... ah, but that`s just his imagination probably!"
"He said what ?"
Gloriosus shaked his head and replied:
"He told us that he didn`t see the Urshilaku camp at all - not one yurt - as if the entire place just vanished over night... instead, he said, he saw many tall figures with arms and cargo... they might be cultists , but we still don`t believe him entirely and right now I myself don`t know what to think about it. Maybe the Urshilaku packed bags and left in a hurry, but that just doesen`t sound right to me."
"So where is this scout of yours, then?" - Merisa asked - "We would like to hear all he has to say to us."
"Of course... Ronyr, call Glinter and tell him to come at once - we need him to tell us story about his last night... again!"
Several minutes passed by in nervous silence, it seemed more like hours. Finally, Ronyr came back followed by one really small, dark-haired Bosmer. Corvin stood up and shook his hand.
"You must be Glinter, I presume?"
"Indeed, that is my name - but I didn´t get yours?"
"I`m Corvin, scout and retainer of House Redoran" – he replied, while they both took their seats - "I am sent by the order of Lord Sarethi, along with my two associates, to investigate the events at Bal Voria. We were told you`ve come close to it, and the old shrine as well, last night."
"Yes, and much closer than I preferred, too... Oh, don`t start frowning at me ! Many people have gone missing; the rumors say that cult of Mehrunes Dagon is rising up and making more and more human sacrifices and anyone who comes near Voria disappeares without a trace… you must understand that I love my skin more than glory or money - yes, you`ve heard me right - even more than money!"
"I understand; a truly wise warrior goes around trouble, like Ashlanders say, until he can give it a big suprise. But, now that I mentioned Ashlanders, we`d also like to hear news about the Urshilaku camp?"
"What about it ? There is no camp anymore; I tell ya, I was cursing darkness and I rubbed my eyes constantly, but they didn`t deceive me - the camp just isn`t there, but no one here believes me; they make jokes at me and compare me to a scared guar. Bah ! I was the one who stuck his neck out!"
"Calm down, I believe you... is it possible, maybe, that the Urshilaku relocated somwhere when these troubles started to occur?"
"I honestly don`t know where they could have gone, but now when I think of it… maybe they just had enough time to get to the Ald Redaynia`s island – it`s the only relatively peaceful place arround here."
"Probably", Gloriosus said, "I am sure the Ashlanders know how to take care of themselves; this is, after all, their backyard. But now we have other urgent matters. Tell me, please, what kind of reinforcements will come from Ald´ruhn and when ? I am sorry to say this but we can only provide you with surplus and weapons, not manpower."
"That is fine, we just needed a brief rest",Corvin answered, "our troops, several dozen of soldiers and a unit of Ordinators, will arive in a day and a half. We must scout the entire area surrounding the outpost and then report to our troops when they arrive, in order to make the first strike, if needed, the best possible way."
" Now",he turned to Glinter once again, "before we prepare to go I`d like you to tell me if you saw Bal Voria itself – how it looked and if there were some traces of razing?"
"Alas, the darkness prohibited me from seeing correctly in what state the outpost was, but this I can tell you : the defensive wall looked torn down in several places, and the tower was half-broken. Other than that I believe that the place might have been burned or bombarded with some powerful fire-based spells, because I also saw several large debris that looked completely burned… and that`s just about all... "
"It is more than enough, Glinter. You have my gratitude and when we return remind me to buy you some flin. Well, I guess we have some preparing to do now. Sir Larrius, gentlemen, please excuse us."
Corvin stood up once again, and so did Merisa and Maiev; they went to the next room and started to assemble their gear. In the meantime people dispersed, going back to their business, all except Glinter, who stayed for a while longer, looking at the three, shaking his head. Finally, he too turned away and left.
The storm outside continued, as the night began to fall.