Dec 9 2008, 11:05 PM
Short, I know, but it's only the introductory chapter. Expect the remaining chapters to be about two times longer, perhaps a bit more. Anyhoo...enjoy!
Also, I won't be writing Hunting the Hunted, at least not for a while. My inspiration from FO3 has been temporarily severed. Chapter One*Ebonheart, East Empire Company Hall, Factor Canctunian Ponius’s office.
“If you are unable to at least tell me who you believe has stolen our property, Sivian, how do you propose to solve the matter?”
Factor Canctunian’s tone was getting more impatient by the second. Like tears from the sky paint the ground, his anger would soon fall down upon Sivian if he wasn’t careful. He knew angering Canctunian was the last thing anyone would want to accomplish. But at the same time, Sivian also knew that he could not just stand pat while company vaults was being broken into, whether or not he had any leads on whom the perpetrator was.
“I don’t know for sure, sir, but my own agents are telling me the Camonna Tong may have something to do with the break-ins. And-“
“The Camonna Tong?” Canctunian yelled, his fist pounding upon the long wooden table he and his agent were sitting at. “Do you realize how outrageous an accusation this is? Orvas Dren and his minions wish us dead as it is! Why would you want to anger them even further when you have no evidence to prove your allegation?”
It was true that the Camonna Tong hated the East Empire Company, for several reasons. One, and most importantly, they were foreigners. And two, the Imperial-originated organization was reaping the benefits of Vvardenfell’s natural minerals; and this includes items such as raw ebony, raw glass, and Dwemer artifacts, just to name a few. Not to mention other trade goods such as flin and other alcoholic beverages.
Trying to keep his cool, though he was finding it rather hard to do so, Sivian replied with a gentle, “Your majesty, this is simply what my men are telling me. I am not accusing anyone of anything just yet. It’s only an idea.”
“And what an idea it is! What exactly has been stolen, Sivian? You’ve yet to address the specifics of the theft.”
“I suppose I wasn’t clear enough in the beginning, because we’ve lost nothing. Nothing was actually stolen.”
“Then way are you wasting my time?”
“Please, let me explain. Our vault at Fort Frostmoth in Solstheim was broken into as well, but nothing was stolen there either.”
“What?” The Factor asked, his anger starting to dwindle, and instead curiosity beginning to sink in. “Are you suggesting there is a conspiracy going on? Someone is trying to find something that we hold?”
“Precisely, sir. I realize Fort Frostmoth and Ebonheart are far away from each other, but I don’t think this is simply a coincidence. Do you?”
“No, not at all. Not now. How do you know our offices in Solstheim have been broken into? Did you speak with Carnius?”
“No, sir. Carnius sent a mage to deliver the message, a note written by Carnius himself detailing what I have just told you. It’s the same thing that’s happened here I’m afraid. The vault there was broken into, but nothing was taken.”
Canctunian stood up from his chair and began pacing around the small, cramped room. “Is the messenger still here?”
“Yes, sir. Just outside the room, waiting for his next orders.”
“Tell him to inform Carnius that I want to meet with him this evening, so that he and his own agent can discuss matters with us face to face. That gives him the rest of the day to make arrangements for Deputy Falco Galenus to take his place during his leave. You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, sir,” Sivian nodded, and then left to give the mage his orders. Afterwards, once the mage had left and was on his magical-way back to Solstheim, Sivian poked his head back into Canctunian’s office, to find the Factor sitting in his chair, with his head in his hands. “Is there anything you wish for me to do while we wait for Carnius’s arrival, sir?”
Canctunian quickly looked up, and gave a disturbed, “Nothing in particular. Just be sure that your men are on the lookout for anyone suspicious. Also, double check and triple check to make sure nothing was stolen. I find it strange that someone would leave empty-handed if they didn’t absolutely have to.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll do that at once.”
“And close the damn door behind you!”
******************** *Fort Frostmoth, Carnius Magius’s private chamber.*
“A meeting? This evening? Why, it’s almost noon already!”
“Obviously, but do you really have the time to whine and complain? You heard what the messenger just said. We have to go. Besides, this is important, uncle. I know none of your precious gold was stolen, but if our vault in Ebonheart was broken into as well…”
Carnius Magius, the Fort Frostmoth-based Company Factor, gave his young nephew a snarl. “You’re attitude will be the end of you, nephew. Mark my words. If I hadn’t promised your mother to look after you, I’d have thrown you out already.”
“I’m sure, uncle, but again, this doesn’t matter. Shall I inform Falco of the situation?”
Sirius gave his uncle a smile and a nod, and then left. The end of me?
he thought to himself once he was outside in the cold and snow. He should try directing that statement to himself. That’d make more sense at least…
The horse ride to Raven Rock, a tiny mining colony northwest of Fort Frostmoth that dug up raw ebony in the underground mines, took only about a half an hour. There, Sirius went straight for Falco’s house, which was located just inside the city’s southeastern gate, to the left. He knocked on the door, and Falco answered within seconds.
“Sirius!” Falco exclaimed cheerfully, happy to see Sirius and not his uncle. “How are you this beautiful day?”
“I’m well, thank you. But unfortunately for you, I don’t think you’re going to think this day so beautiful once I give you a bit of bad news.”
“Oh? What’s wrong?”
Sirius explained the situation quickly, and then told Falco that he was needed at Fort Frostmoth to act as an unofficial Factor until Sirius and Carnius returned. “Fine, just let me pack a few things, just in case you two are gone for more than a day.”
“I don’t believe that’s necessary. Everything you’ll need my uncle office will have. Besides, today you don’t want to keep him waiting any longer than required. He’s grumpier than normal it seems.”
“And that’s certainly saying something, isn’t it?” Falco asked playfully, ruffling his long, brown beard with his right hand.
“Yes,” Sirius laughed…a real laugh. Something he hadn’t done in a while. “It sure is.”
Dec 11 2008, 07:34 PM
New Gnisis, near the town watering-well.
The swirling winds of the oncoming storm howled around his body, lifting the leaves from the ground and tossing them every which way, some of them hitting Jak in the face as if to tell him to get inside his house before he too is picked up and carried away. Jak didn’t care though, for if he could survive his sister’s nagging then he could survive anything. At least that was what he told himself time after time. Besides, he enjoyed sitting in the middle of a thunder storm. As long as it didn’t begin to rain, he had no immediate plans of leaving anytime soon. Unfortunately his sister had other plans.
“Jak, it’s about to storm! Come inside!” She called from the open doorway of her and Jak’s small Imperial home.
New Gnisis-- a small expansion to the already standing Fort Darius, an Imperial Fort in the old Dunmer city of Gnisis--was constructed and finished roughly two years earlier as an accommodation for the many Imperial folk that had found their way into the once Redoran Dumner-majority city. Some would think it odd for House Redoran to allow such as a sizable Imperial presence in their city, when they are well known for their hatred of foreigners. But alas, gold sure finds itself useful in many occasions.
As mentioned, the expansion was a mere addition to what was already established. Roughly twenty or so small Imperial houses, and a tavern, a few tiny shops; and then the Meeting Grounds, where people came to discuss and gossip, which was something Imperial liked to do quite often. This was the place Jak was resting at, for he found this position a place where he could think. He could not do such a thing inside his house, unless of course his sister was not around.
Jak Nuncia had learned that the hard way.
“Leave me alone, Viana,” he replied, though mostly to himself.
“Dammit, Jak, you’re a fool! Get in here!” When Jak did not answer, Viana shielded her face with her right hand and ran over to her brother, who was sitting at a bench by himself and reading a book, large, looming trees to his left and right. In fact, they were both by themselves, for everyone else was locked inside their homes until the storm had subsided. Thus far it was only thunder and a tiny bit of lightening, but the people of Gnisis were rather careful when it came to storms. Their fear was almost as great as Jak’s obsession.
“Are you even listening to me?” She hollered at him.
Jak didn’t even look up from his book. “Would it upset you if I said no?”
Viana shook her head in disgust, her mouth and chin trembling from the anger building up inside. “Fine, be the foolish boat that everyone in town makes fun of! I don’t give a damn anymore! If you don’t care, I don’t care!”
She started to walk away, but then Jak looked up from his book and simply stared in front of him, looking at nothing in particular. “You know, Viana, it’s funny you mention that.”
Viana stopped in her tracks, and then quickly wheeled around on the heels of her silver-silk shoes. “What did you say?”
“I said…I think it’s rather amusing that you see me as…what did you call it? The town boat? I believe it’s quite odd for you to judge me when you don’t yet understand me. I’m your brother, Viana, but do you really know me?”
“You’re…you’re just so damn strange, Jak!”
“Strange, huh? Strange because that is actually what I am? Or…strange because you don’t understand me? If it’s the latter, don’t be afraid to say so. Ignorance is a deadly plague, little sister. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re sick, just like the majority of this sad, confused world.”
She balled her fists angrily and shouted out with anger. “Why must you be so difficult, Jak? Mama always said you were a strange one. And when they were killed that night, seven years ago just last week, you said you’d always be there for me! You said you would never leave my side! But what did you do? No more than a few months later you left! You left me!”
“Dear, sister I had no other choice. The East Empire Company-“
“Is a prestigious order, compiled of only the finest and shrewdest of diplomats,” she interrupted, mocking her brother. “I know, Jak, you need not to repeat it! Over the years it seems you don’t care for me like you used to. I fear that I am beginning to share the same feelings.”
“Are you trying to say you don’t love me, sister? If so, get it over with now.”
“I do love you, Jak, but…you don’t make any sense half the time! All you did is sit out here and stare at who knows what! And you read, and you write! You hardly ever come out of your room, and when you do it’s only to grab something to eat and then go back to whatever you do in there! I am not even allowed to get into your room because it’s locked!”
“Ah, so I see you’ve tried to break into my room? Yet another bead of trust has been severed. I’m not surprised, dear sister. You always were nosey.”
“I broke into your room because I’m worried about you, Jak! It’s been, what, five months since you finally came home? You won’t tell me a damn thing! Why won’t you tell me what happened in Ebonheart? Why won’t you tell me why you quit? Did you really quit…or did something else happen?”
By this time, tears were streaming down Viana’s smooth face, and this greatly saddened Jak. For a split second he thought about telling her everything. He thought about giving her the information she wanted, because deep down inside he knew she deserved an answer to every one of her questions. He had left her by herself for a little more than four years, with the only communication between them being notes written off and on. It was true that they never did get along that well, but Viana had felt so very hurt when Jak left. Even if it was for business purposes, and the gold from his job kept coming back to Gnisis, she was still sad. As the old saying goes, wealth cannot truly make a person happy.
“My private matters are none of your concern, Viana. I’ve made plenty of wealth during these years, yet you don’t seem to appreciate any of it. Just look at yourself. You’re covered in the most comfortable of garments and silks! What else could you ask for?”
“I want love, Jak! I want you to at least acknowledge my existence! Ever since you came back you’ve done nothing but hide from me and everyone else in the city! I’ve been doing my best to keep a roof over my head, while you sit in your room and do nothing!”
Jak closed his book and stood up from the bench. He was a good two or three inches taller than Viana, and he was now looking down upon her, the calmness from his eyes slowly departing, beginning to be replaced by that of annoyance and anger. “You are wrong, Viana. Where do you think I get the gold to pay for the food we eat, the house we live under, and the beds we sleep on? Can you tell me that?” he yelled, his voice louder than what he wished it to be.
“I don’t think…I don’t think I want to know.”
“No, you don’t! But at the same time you want to ask question after question after question! Don’t worry about me, Viana, worry about yourself!” He paused, and then tried to continue in a gentler tone. “I know what else you do to make a living, Viana. It’s not just selling vegetables from the garden! Some of the soldiers in the garrison are lonely during the daytime, but they sure aren’t at night. That much is certain!”
And without giving her a chance to respond, Jak marched angrily past her, heading for their house. The storm had by now slowed down to nothing more than a heavy breeze sweeping the city. It appeared that the dark clouds, thunder and lightning had passed. But for Viana and Jak, the sun would never shine.
*Back in Ebonheart*
Many thoughts were circling through Canctunian’s mind, but the one that was greatest was the one that he could not answer even in the least. One bit of good news was that he and Sivian had been able to rule out the Camonna Tong’s involvement, because apparently one of Sivian’s own agents had simply gotten too excited, and really had no evidence to prove the accusation.
Suddenly the door to his office open, and bustling in was Sivian, followed close behind by Carnius and Sirius Magius from the Fort Frostmoth outpost. “Good evening, Carnius, Sirius,” Canctunian offered. “I apologize for having to meet on such short notice, but as I’m sure you understand, it is worth the hectic rush. I also apologize for having this meeting conducted in my small office, but I do not wish to inform the Duke or Emperor of anything just yet. Now, please, have a seat in the chairs I’ve brought in for you.”
Carnius, mumbling something under his breath, sat down in the chair closest to the wall, beside of a painting of Canctunian and the Emperor side by side. Looking at the work of art, Carnius could help but feel a strong jealousy towards the picture. Someday that’s going to be me up there. Carnius thought to himself. Some day…
Sirius sat down in the chair beside his uncle. Sivian shut the door, and at the orders of Canctunian, locked it as well. Then he stood there in front of the door, rather than taking a seat as his and Canctunian’s guests had done.
“Do you have any leads yet?” Carnius asked as soon as Canctunian had sat down in his own chair.
“Unfortunately, no. Just this morning we ruled out the possibility of the Camonna Tong being involved. Other than that, we are clueless. Tell me in your own words what happened yesterday when you realized the vault had been broken into.”
“Well,” Carnius begin, with a tone of impatience. “As you know, Sirius is my only agents, and for several reasons. It is not wise to have too many men working at your side. It only creates confusion, and trust is often too hard to come by. And because Sirius is my only agent, Captain Falx Carius allows me to use three of his own Legion soldiers to guard my vault.”
“What? And how long as his been going?” Canctunian interrupted. “The soldiers of Fort Frostmoth are convicted criminals. Why in the name of Talos would you trust them to protect something so important? And why was I never made aware of this?”
Sirius shifted nervously while he looked at his uncle in the corner of his eye. He knew his uncle was never someone to trifle with, let alone yell at. It was true that Factor Canctunian technically held a higher rank than Carnius, but he was still surprised to see the Factor raising his voice so harshly, especially when the two of them knew how dreadfully hostile Carnius could become during an argument.”
“Excuse me, Canctunian, but I did not know that I had to report to you every time I break wind!”
Rather than take the bait of argument, Canctunian took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair, massaging a headache that was starting to creep up. “I did not call for you here so that we could squabble back and forth. However, it is not wise for you to hire former criminals to protect your vault. I understand Sirius is your only agent, but the decision to enlist those soldiers was very unwise.”
“They were cheap, Factor, and you’ve told me countless times not to spend more gold than I have to. And I have abided by those words, not that I’ve received any thanks from you or the Emperor himself. But that is beside the point. The soldiers were not the intruders, for they do not have keys to the vault. Besides, they aren’t even intelligent enough to devise such a plan. And anyway, that doesn’t explain why the vault here in Ebonheart was broke into, now does it?”
“No, it does not. But this doesn’t help us, for we are still far away from coming to a solution. Sivian searched through the vault and the entire building, not to mention the city as well, and he cannot find anything that suggests the intruders are still in the city. He also did not find anything dropped behind by the burglars either. Have you found out any useful information, Sirus?”
“No, sir I have not. But quite honestly, I haven’t had the time. It’s been rather hectic you see.”
“I would imagine,” Canctunian said. “Very well…there is nothing for us to talk about right now. I want you two to keep an eye out for everything. And I realize you think nothing is wrong with your vault-guards, but I still want Sirius conduct a small investigation. Have him ask around the fort, especially the very people that guard your vault. Speak with the Captain as well, but be sure that he knows not to talk of this mess. We don’t want the Emperor panicking before we know what exactly is going on. Tell Falx this request comes from me. He and I go way back to early childhood living in the Imperial City.”
Carnius sighed and rolled his eyes. “May we leave now, Canctunian? The longer I am away from the vault the less I can do to protect it.”
“Yes, you two may leave. But I would like Sirius to report back in five days to report his findings, if any at all.”
Sirius nodded, and then he and Carnius left the fort, traveling back to the snowy island of Solstheim by means of the company’s transport-mage. Once they were gone, Canctunian asked Sivian to sit down himself. “There’s something we need to discuss, Sivian.”
“Yes, sir?” he asked, sitting down as he was told.
“Neither Sirius nor Carnius knows what happened several months ago, correct?”
“You mean with Jak and Devin? Of course not.”
“Good. I fear the two of them may be involved with this. Neither left luxuriously or happily, and I have a strong feelings that they are perhaps trying to seek revenge. After all, and especially in Jak’s case, they don’t take too well to embarrassment, do they?”
“No, sir, they do not. But I’m afraid I am still confused. You think they are responsible for the break-ins? This seems unlikely. Why would they do such a thing after this much time has passed?”
“I don’t know, but it’s just a feeling, I assure you that. I don’t even know if they’re communicating with one another. I doubt it, but then again I’ve seen stranger things happen. Devin is in Hammerfell I believe, but where I do not know. But Jak went back to Gnisis. That was very foolish indeed, because this way we have been able to keep tabs on him all this time. I think you should pay him a visit and inform him of what’s happened. Make it look like you’re just checking up on him to make sure he’s okay, but try and figure out if he’s up to something. Snoop around his house if you have to, but make sure not to make it obvious what you’re really there for. Understand?”
“Yes, sir, I do. Would you like me to leave now?”
“I would. The sooner the better, as they always say. I don’t really think Jak nor Devin is involved with the break-ins, but it’s better to be safer than sorry, and I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from. May Talos guide you, Sivian.”
Sivian nodded and then left the office, preparing for his upcoming mission.
Dec 13 2008, 03:32 AM
*New Gnisis, inside Jak’s office, three days later*
With the storm having already settled outside, the storm inside Jak’s home had just begun. He had purchased the home himself with the gold he had made working for the East Empire Company, and that was when Viana had still been living back in Chorrol of Cyrodiil. She hadn’t wanted to move, but Jak had assured her it was for the better, and thus, she obliged to his plead for her to move. Back then he thought the decision of new scenery was to give her a new outlook on life, and to get her away from the spoiled aristocrats that littered the streets, but these days he’s come to realize he had only wanted her closer to him. For the fear he had felt in the ending days of his tenure with the Company were quite severe, and since she was closer, whatever letters they would write back and forth would come soon. It is true that in the end of his tenure the letters between each other were more frequent, even if Viana didn’t seem to realize that.
What am I to do now? It appears that our family ties have been somewhat severed, but I can’t just leave her forever. Jak thought to himself, tapping lightly on the desk with his fingers to a tune he had heard from a guarskin-drummer back in Ebonheart. It was three days since he and his sister’s argument, and the two hadn’t said a word to each other since. Jak somewhat liked it this way, but he was starting to feel lonely again. Then again…what would it hurt? It’s obvious the two of us will never again see eye to eye, and unfortunately I can’t give her the sibling-love she wishes for. I can’t tell her what happened because she will never understand. She’ll only see me as a monster. Would that feeling towards me be justified? I still can’t decide…
Jak was sitting at the desk of his overly-cramped office, the door closed, and of course locked. What was also locked, and sitting on his desk, was a wooden box, the border of its lid encrusted with glamorous pearls. He had purchased the box in Vivec on his way home from Ebonheart, three days after his leaving from the Company. He had been searching around the many markets, for nothing in particular, and found a pretty young Redguard girl selling various odds and ends. She looked to be in her early twenties, possibly her late teens. Jak remembered how much she reminded him of Devin’s sister, or at least from the descriptions he had given.
“Looking for something special?” That girl in Vivec had asked. “How about a pretty box for your pretty wife?”
She had showed him the box, and just by looking at it Jake was almost certain it had to have been stolen. By that time he had searched through the richest market places, and was then peddling around in the poorer markets. “I don’t think I can afford it,” he had replied. But when the girl asked for a mere two-hundred septims, Jak’s eye lit up. The box was clearly worth more than that, but he didn’t ask any more questions. For some reason he had been drawn to the box like no other item he had ever possessed, not even the family talisman, a family heirloom he still wears around his neck to this very day. He purchased the box and immediately left Vivec, finally returning to Gnisis.
The box was meant to hold jewelry, and lots of it by the looks of its size. Jak possessed no jewelry of course, but his sister did. Even so, he did not even mention the box. As soon as he got home he took it out of his pack and placed it on the desk in his room, where it has stayed since (Albeit, since his arrival he’s been able to construct a secret compartment to place it in, just in case anyone were to actually break into his room), because on the road back to Gnisis Jak had thought of a wonderful alternate use for his jewelry box. He decided to write something of a novella, based on what happened back in Ebonheart. He would never show anyone of course, hence the reason for his room being locked at all times, but he wanted to put everything down on paper so that he could remember it for eternity. It wasn’t something he’d be forgetting anytime soon, but Jak enjoyed writing anyway.
I should just leave. I could always good back to Cyrodiil and live in some of the other cities. Or maybe I could-
Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by his sister’s voice, which startled him so much he almost fell out of his chair, for he had been in such a deep trance. “Jak, there’s a man here to see you!” Viana yelled.
Without thinking, Jak immediately snatched the jewelry box from his desk. “Hold on, give me a few seconds!” he called while getting on both knees just beside his bed, which was located directly to the right of his desk. A rug was situated at the side of his bed, and by lifting the rug, there was the secret compartment Jak had built for himself. It wasn’t that deep, just big enough for the book to fit. He placed the book inside, closed the compartment, and then locked that as well with an entirely different key. “I’m coming!”
He exited the room, and there standing at inside his house, was a man he thought he’d never see again. “Hello, Jak,” the man said, a smile spread about his face.
Despite his surprise, and somewhat fear, Jak did his best to keep a calm face, for his sister was standing not too far to his right, eying both of the men with utmost curiosity. “Sivian…what a surprise. Is there something wrong?”
Sivian chuckled and then brushed back his long brown hair. “No, of course not. I was simply in the area and decided to stop by and see how you’re doing. Is there a place we can meet perhaps? Catch up and whatnot?”
Jak knew just what that meant; he knew Sivian wasn’t just ‘in the area’. What was most surprising to Jak was that he knew where he lived in the first place. As far as he remembered, he had told no one. Not even Devin. “Of course. There’s a lovely tavern inside Old Gnisis. What a…what a pleasant surprise it is to see you here!”
“Would you be willing to meet me now? I’m afraid I don’t have much long. Busy as ever, you know.”
“Yes, I think now would do fine. If you’ll step back outside and give me a few seconds I can grab my coat.”
After Sivian had stepped outside, Jak turned to Viana. “Viana, I’ll tell you everything as soon as I get back. I think that would be best, for both of us.” After all the thinking he had done over the past several days, Jak came to the decision that he could keep letting the guilt eat at his weakened heart.
“Who is that man? Is he from the East Empire Company?” She asked, a sense of uncertainty in her voice.
“Yes, he is. He’s an old colleague of mine. There’s nothing to worry about I assure you. He’s a good man.”
He put on his coat, locked his room door, and was about to walk out of the house when his sister said, “Be careful all the same, Jak. I love you.”
Jak stopped dead in his tracks, turned back around, and then walked over to kiss his sister’s forehead. “Don’t worry, I will.”
*Fort Frostmoth, Carnius Magius’s private chamber*
“No, uncle, there was nothing to find. Falco is clean, just as I told you to begin with. And please don’t have me check him a third time. That would be quite redundant, don’t you think?”
Carnius sighed heavily and took a look around his room, checking to make sure nothing was missing for the umpteenth time. He was so certain Falco was the intruder, but his bias played a large role in that. The two hardly ever agreed, if any at all. It didn’t help that Falco was the official ‘Factor-in-waiting’, of the Southern Solstheim branch, if anything was ever to happen to Carnius. “Are you absolutely certain, Sirius? And the guards have nothing to do with it either?”
“Yes, uncle, please stop asking. Falco didn’t do it. Besides, I’m not even sure if he has a key to the fort basement. If I remember correctly you told Captain Falx not to give him one. Oh, and the guards are clean as well, unfortunately enough. As much as I didn’t believe it, I wanted think the guards were in fact behind all this. It would have made things much easier at least. What should we do now? I have nothing to report to Canctunian.”
“I suppose you might as well inform him of the non-news, just so he won’t bother me about it later. Before you leave, though, stop by Falco and give him these orders, please.”
“What are they?”
“They’re papers ordering him to check in with me three times a day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and then once again just before he closes his offices for the night. You say he’s not involved in this, and unfortunately I think you’re correct, but I still can’t take any chances.”
Sirius read the document, and sure enough, it outlaid the information Carnius had just said. Sirius couldn’t believe it; after all the years he’s lived and served his uncle, the feud between Carnius and Falco has never ceased. “Uncle…this is completely unnecessary.”
“Oh, please tell me why you think so!” Carnius retorted sarcastically.
“Why must you always blame Falco for everything bad that happens, uncle? This personal vendetta you have against him is ridiculous!”
“You see it as ridiculous, but I see it as a necessity!” Carnius yelled, pounding his fist on the table. “As much as it annoys me that you seem to always take Falco’s side in these matters, that doesn’t change my opinion of you. You’re a smart young man, Sirius, but you’re terribly misguided. This chair that I sit on will be yours one day. It’s my job to see to it that you’re ready when that time comes. Don’t answer that immediately, and rather…dwell on it overnight. Think about what I’ve said, forget the bias you think I have, and see if you can understand my intent. Now, leave.”
Sirius shook his head and left the room, slamming the door behind him.
Outside snow was falling gently from the sky, a silent falling that made it all the more peaceful. This type of phenomena was so magnificent to Sirius. Rain was so noisy, but snow was not. Blizzards were a different story of course, but that sort of weather occurred more frequently as one went deeper in the island. Sirius preferred the cold more than the hot of Anvil of Cyrodiil, so it mattered not to him whether it snowed heavily or not. After all, he was half Nord anyway, with his Imperial mother having married his Nordic father long ago. Sirius hoped to travel back Skyrim one day and visit his father’s birthplace in Dragonstar, even though he’s heard many rumors about political division and unrest within the northern city.
As he trudged along in the knee deep snow (he had not brought along his horse, for Sirius enjoyed walking in the snowy forest at night), Sirius thought about what his uncle had said. Even though Sirius did indeed see Carnius’s bias, he couldn’t but think he actually meant what he had said about Sirius someday taking his place. Sirius always thought Carnius simply put up with him because he had to. He had never been treated badly, but respect was usually hard to come by with Carnius Magius.
Have I been wrong this entire time? Is Carnius really the good guy, and Falco the opposite? No, that can’t be. My uncle is an arrogant know-it-all, that will never change, no matter how much I want it to.
One feeling that he knew for sure was that the document he was delivering was entirely outrageous, and just another way for Carnius to throw his rank around. Falco told him one day that Carnius had once been a relatively friendly fellow, as well as polite. But in his earlier years with the Company, as soon as he knew there was a good chance he could become Factor, he turned into the monster he is to this day; an conceited, wealth-obsessive tyrant of a person, and nothing less.
He arrived at Raven Rock in no time, and knocked on Falco’s door. It was already ten o’clock, but he seriously doubted the Deputy would be asleep. Sirius remembered one day where Falco mentioned he liked to read by the fire with a tall mug of Nordic Mead at his side before falling asleep. He was the only Imperial Sirius had seen who could drink the Nordic alcohol and enjoy it as well. “Sirius? Is something wrong?” Falco said at the doorway.
“Well…sort of. Nobody’s hurt or in trouble, but you’re probably going to feel like hurting something in a few minutes.”
Falco and Sirius both sat down at a table where Falco was reading. Sirius explained what the document meant and what Falco had to do. “Why does he insist on making my life miserable, Sirius?”
Sirius was surprised to see Falco actually smiling, chuckling even. He assumed it was because he was used to the misery Carnius caused. “Because that is simply who he is. He puts people down because it makes him feel good about himself. It makes him feel powerful. The rank has gotten to his head I think,” Sirius winked. “Of course, I’m sure you know that firsthand, eh? I’ve only had to put up with it for a couple of years. Before he hired me I lived with his wife back in the Imperial City. She’s wonderful to be around.”
“So I’ve heard, from Carnius actually. Well…thanks for bringing me this, Sirius. I’ll be sure to check in tomorrow morning. I can’t say I’m surprised by this, though. In fact, if anything, I’m surprised something like this hasn’t happened sooner. It has ‘Carnius” written all over it, now that I think about it. Oh well, there’s no point in getting mad I suppose. Would you like a glass of wine? I apologize for not asking sooner.”
“Sorry, but I think I’m going to have to pass on this one. I’m leaving early tomorrow morning to meet with Canctunian.” He didn’t mention why because Falco had never been aware he was being investigated to begin with. Or at least not to Sirius’s knowledge anyway. “Thanks for the offer, though. I’m sure I can oblige sometime when I get back.”
“I’ll hold you to it. Good night, Sirius.”
“Same to you, friend.”
Sirius left Falco’s house and then headed back into the thick forest ahead of him. Roughly half-way through he heard a twig snap, seemingly to his right. He immediately stopped and then looked around, only to find a small baby bunny hopping across the snow. He chuckled at this, but more so because he had gotten so scared. The winds had picked up since he talked with Falco, and the snow was falling down a tad bit heavier as well.
He started walking again, but then he heard another twig snap. This time when he turned around, he was hit in the head by something hard, likely a rock of some kind. He immediately fell to the ground in a state of daze, for the hit had almost knocked him out cold. Sirius looked up at a figure standing above him, though he couldn’t tell who it was because of the dark. Sirius muttered something, but even he wasn’t sure what it was. He could have sworn the figure smiled. The next thing he knew the figure raised his hands in air, holding whatever it was he had hit Sirius with, and that was the last thing he saw before the lights went out.
Dec 15 2008, 10:48 PM
*Gnisis, Madach Tradehouse*
Jak had led Sivian to the Madach Tradehouse, a small tavern and general goods store. Despite it being on the old Gnisis side, Jak preferred because the food was better, not to mention cheaper. He and Sivian were sitting in the farthest corner of the room, away from everyone else. Luckily it was fairly crowded, being that it was noon.
“How are you doing, Jak? It’s been a while,” Sivian said softly, munching on an apple in between sentences.
Jak was eying the well-dressed Breton man with a look of curiosity. “Fine I suppose, or at least as fine as I am able to be. But drop the friendly tone, Sivian. I am not stupid. You aren’t here to check up on me.”
Sivian chuckled slightly, looking at the table rather than at Jak. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure what to say. Canctunian didn’t want him to let Jak know he was somewhat under an investigation, but apparently the Factor forgot about his former agent’s wit and wisdom. “You were always were hard to get by, Jak. It seems you haven’t changed a bit. Not that that’s a bad thing. I always did like you much more than Devin.”
“Yeah, I don’t believe that. If that were true you wouldn’t have sided with Canctunian so easily,” Jak replied angrily.
“Jak, I’m not here to dig up the past and argue about it. It matters not whether you and Devin we drunk, you both raped her and then killed her the next day when you realized what you had done. And actually…I don’t know why we let you two go. I suppose it’s because I respected you two. You two had been my best agents, and to turn you into the Imperial Legion would have been…well, let’s just say it would have been extremely difficult.”
Jak sighed and then looked out the window, shaking his heads. He didn’t like talking about the past, especially with someone who was actually involved. “I know what we did was wrong, Sivian, I really do. But the past is just that, the past. I try not to dwell upon it too much, even though I always do. You can’t possibly understand the pain I feel each and every day.”
“Good, I hope you do feel the pain, because I’m sure that Dunmer girl felt pain. Just think what would have happened if the Temple had found out, Jak. Anyways…something’s happened at our vaults in Ebonheart and Solstheim, Jak. That’s why I am here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Both vaults were broken into, but we don’t know who did it. Also, nothing was stolen, so that makes us even more suspicious. Canctunian, while he doesn’t think you had anything to do with, wanted me to ask some questions. I don’t think you did it either, Jak, but I need to find out for myself.”
“This is ridiculous, Sivian…why the hell would I even want to go back? There’s a reason why I’ve never left Gnisis, you know…”
Sivian stared him down for almost a full minute, trying to decide whether Jak was telling the truth or not. Finally, he decided he was indeed telling the truth. Part of him was worried that perhaps he was coming to a decision too quickly, but another part of him wanted to get out of Gnisis as soon as possible. Something didn’t feel right. “Very well, I do believe you. Though, I advise you to stay in Gnisis for the time being, in case something else should come up and I need to speak with you. Though judging by what you said, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.”
“No,” Jak said, his eyes never leaving Sivian’s. “It won’t.”
“Well…good day to you, Jak. It was nice talking to you again. I just wish it had been under better circumstances.”
Sivian nodded and then left Gnisis as quickly as he had arrived.
*A small cave, slightly to the southeast of Raven Rock*
When Sirius’s eyes finally opened he was still staring at nothing, or at least that’s what he first thought. But once his eyes fully adjusted, he realized he was inside some kind of cave. He could feel the wet dampness, but he also felt something warm. Looking to his right, he saw a small campfire, the smoke rising to the tall roof of the cave. Sitting next to the fire reading a book was the silhouette of a figure, but it was too difficult to determine who it was, for the figure was situated behind the fire, the smoke blocking a clear view for Sirius to see. Sirius assumed it was the person who hit him in the head earlier and, once remembering the blow, he felt his forehead. He felt a large bump, and then a jolt of pain from within his head.
“Ow!” Sirius yelled, not expecting such pain. This appeared to have alerted the figure, who was now walking over from the fire. When the figure, a tall man, stopped at his feet, Sirius was speechless.
“Hello, Sirius. How are you doing? It’s been a long time. Too long, infact.”
Devin was smiling widely at Sirius, who did not return the favor. “The last I heard you had quit your job and returned to Hammerfell. What in Oblivion are you doing all the way out here? And…hey! Why the hells are my legs and arms bound together?” he asked angrily, once he realized he was tied to some kind of tall stone-like object.
“Sorry, Sirius, but I can’t exactly tell you, other than I don’t want you running away. You’re very important to me right now, you see.”
“I’m still confused. What is going on?”
“The vaults, Sirius…the vaults. You and that fat lard of a fool Carnius have been searching for the intruder, yet you’ve never been close. It has been I! Isn’t that grand? You would have ever guessed, would you?”
“You…you did it? But why?”
“That’s a simple question, but unfortunately the answer is not. I’ll tell you this, though; it wasn’t me who broke into the Ebonheart vault. Nope, that was my accomplice.”
Without so much as a warning Devin slapped Sirius across the face violently. “Enough the damn questions!” Devin’s face was filled with anger, filled with rage. Sirius could see this easily, but there was something else. Sirius could also see…insanity. “If you let me finish you might learn a thing or two,” Devin said harshly, before gathering his cool and continuing. “I will not tell you who my partner is, just in case you are somehow able to escape. I wouldn’t want you telling on him, now would I?”
“So it’s a he…”
“Yes, of course it’s a he! I wouldn’t trust a female to do this work, especially since the mission at Ebonheart is even more important. And I’ll be honest with you…well, no…I won’t. Not yet at least. First I’ll have to make you suffer I’m afraid. It will hurt, but only for a second. I need something to send a message to fat Carnius, something that will really get his attention. You might want to thank Talos you have two ears, rather than one.”
“No, what are you going to do?” Sirius screamed frantically, trying to crawl away. However, the bearings were too strong for him to let loose.
Devin pulled out a steel knife with a long and slender blade. Then he smiled, an insanely smile, and reached for Sirius’s left ear.
*Ebonheart, Canctunian’s Office, two days later*
Canctunian was half-way asleep when the door to his office swung open. Sleep was hard to come by for the Factor ever since the break-in occurred. Standing in the doorway was a mage messenger, the same messenger that delivered most messages between Canctunian and Carnius. “Yes?” Canctunian asked impatiently.
“Sir, Carnius sends an urgent message,” The mage said, handing over a folded note to the Factor.
Canctunian read the note to himself, and then dropped it to the floor, his hands shaking in fear and his head shaking in disbelief. Without looking at the mage he stammered, “Tell…tell Carnius to meet me here at once!”
TO BE CONTINUED