haute ecole rider:
How about Wet, Wounded, and Worn?
One fly and one wall coming up.Grits
: I am glad Tadrose's P.R. plan worked. I spent a long time working out the plot of this chapter, namely handling the fallout of Castle Grief. Acadian
: Whether or not to include the necessary meeting with Ursanne, or just recap it is something I had to give a lot of thought. I eventually went with a summary because the climax of the chapter is of course Kurdan's death. I did not want to have three scenes of aftermath following it, so I looked for a way to cut it down.
I had to laugh at the loaded for
line. After all, if that were the case, she would be wearing a wetsuit to keep dry from all the hugs and licking!King Coin:
The old Teresa would have so mortified that she probably would have hid beneath the table! But the current Teresa has come a long way since those days, and Pappy has definitely had a large role in that. Not to mention just all the experiences she has undergone since coming to Bravil.
I think of the Daedric Armor this way. How many WWII vets would put on an SS uniform? Sure, they would take pistols and helmets home as trophies, something to show off and brag about. But to actually put it on and use it, is to also make what that stands for a part of yourself. Teresa, Tadrose, and everyone else who has suffered at the hands of the Daedra would not want anything to do with their gear. People like Kurdan however, wear it precisely because it is such an object of fear and horror. Cosmus of course, only cares about money, because he does not have any. So all he sees is the dollar sign. He'd likely say the same about finding skooma.liliandra nadiar:
You called it with the gro-Baroths! They are a great way to desensitize a person!
Likewise with the daedric armor. ghastley
: That armor would indeed make sure that Kurdan never floats back up. Not to mention it would be a lot of trouble to take it off. McBadgere
: Now it is off to face the new crimelord of Bravil...Olen
: Yay, another fan of Cosmus' "on the cheap" statement. He is a fun character to write, and that line so sums him up.
A very observant, erm, observation about Teresa's attitude toward killing. In the heat of the battle she has never thought about it. She just does what she has to and is glad to be alive when it is all over. But outside of battle itself, she never used to want to kill anyone. But since she has come to Bravil she has been growing desensitized to it. Taking Herrenius prisoner was an example of her consciously facing that growing ruthlessness. In the end she only kept him alive because she thought he would be more useful as a threat of crucifixion. Previously On Teresa of the Faint Smile:
Our last episode found Teresa treating Cosmus the Cheat to dinner. During their conversation we learned that on Tadrose's idea, the story was put out that Lord Herrenius actually died heroically at Castle Grief, attempting to rescue Aleron. This was meant to prevent the patrician's murderous family from taking revenge upon Teresa. After the meal, Teresa was met by a young Khajiit, who informed her that Morandil wanted to speak with her. Next, Teresa faces the new crimelord of Bravil in the final episode of this chapter.Chapter 40.13 – The Hunter
Teresa downed a combination shield and magicka restoration potion when she reached the end of South Street Bridge. Staring down the street before her, her eyes quickly picked out a trio of hooligans. Even though they were clad in the same worn flax as everyone else on South Island, they stood out from the regular folk like ogres in a chapel. Their weapons hung too comfortably at their hips, their eyes were too hard, and their bearing too arrogant. Teresa had seen their like her entire life. They were trouble, pure and simple.
Well, she had not expected this to be as pleasant as shopping for clothes with Ardaline. She kept the symbol for her Burning Hand at the top of her mind, and strode down the street to the Lonely Suitor Lodg
e. The first thing she noticed was someone outside scraping the peeling and cracked paint off the walls. When she stepped inside, she found more workmen ripping out old boards here and there and replacing them with new wood. Still more laborers put up new plaster over walls that Teresa imagined either had already been repaired, or were sturdy enough to not require it.
Scattered among the workers were more ruffians like those in the street: rough, hard, and well-armed. In the midst of it all stood Morandil, again dressed in fine velvet. The high elf was overseeing the work, and paused to say something to an attractive Breton standing next to him. Taller than most of her race, she was dressed in finely pressed linen, and wore her long hair back in a ponytail. A saber of elvish design hung at one of her hips, and a parrying dagger at the other. She nodded along as Morandil spoke, and darted off a moment later.
"Ah, it is Bravil's most favored archer," the high elf said when he caught sight of Teresa in the doorway. He swept across the common room of the inn like a lord in his manor. "I am pleased that you decided to accept my invitation. Shall we go upstairs, where we can speak in private?"
"After you." Teresa nodded to the stairs that curled up one side of the room.
The Altmer smiled as faintly as Teresa ever did. He tapped a nearby barmaid on the shoulder. "Tamika's," he said, "in my study." Stepping in front of Teresa, he made a show of walking sedately up the stairs. The forester wondered why he was making such a pretense at civility? Had he not sent her off to be killed a few days ago?
The second floor reminded her of the guild hall, only shabbier. A single, long corridor ran its length, dotted with doors that Teresa imagined led to the rooms they had for rent. They did not tarry there however, and Morandil led her up the stair to the third and highest floor. A single Nord stood guard there. His blond hair was swept back from his face in an unruly mane, and long mustachios drooped down from his face. His bare chest was covered with swirling tattoos, and Teresa wondered if the rest of his body bore the same? He held a long-handled Nordic battle axe in both hands, its single, massive blade trailing down like a long beard before him.
The high elf swept by the Nord after a nod of greeting. He then led Teresa down the short hallway and through one of the doors. Within she found an office that looked like a tornado had blown through it. Opened crates and barrels were strewn about, bursting with odds and ends such as a stuffed troll's head, several skulls turned into drinking mugs, and even a painting of a naked orc woman.
Kurdan's, Teresa thought to herself as she stared around the clutter. The shelves on the single bookshelf were empty, and Teresa wondered if that was where the former crimelord had kept his skulls and other trophies? The chipped and scarred desk was clean however, with a stack of blank parchment, ink bottle, and writing quill neatly arranged upon its surface. Morandil sat behind the desk, and motioned Teresa to the single chair before it.
"You will pardon the state of affairs here." Morandil leaned back in his chair. "We are in a state of refurbishment."
"Let's just get on to the part where you threaten me," Teresa grumbled. "That is why you brought me here after all."
"Why nothing could be further from the truth." Morandil leaned forward. "In fact, I wanted to thank you."
"Thank me?" Teresa blinked. "What for?"
"Why for disposing of the former owner of this study of course." The Altmer waved a hand in the air, indicating the room. "Did you believe I sought revenge? Not at all. There was not a man who met Kurdan who did not want him dead. He was a thug and a boor, and left the world no poorer in his passing."
"Then why did you work for him?" The serving girl entered with a carafe of fine crystal, and pair of similar goblets, balanced on a silver tray. She was young, attractive, and her attire left little to the imagination. She set her cargo down upon the desk, and poured red liquid into each glass.
"Thank you Juleta," Morandil nodded to the young Nibenean. She bowed slightly in return, and shut the door behind her after she left. The high elf lifted one glass and took a sip, then leaned back in his chair.
"Go ahead, sit down and have a drink, it is not poisoned," the Altmer said. "Take an antidote first if you wish. I'm sure you have one in that bag of yours."
"You seem to know a lot about me." Teresa did sit down. She lifted the second glass and stared into its depths. Wine she thought. Swirling it around like she saw Ancondil and Nerussa do, she took a tentative sniff. The scent was deep and robust, with a hint of vanilla and black cherries. That was definitely Tamika's, without the slightest hint of nightshade's noxious scent.
"It behooves me to know about you," the Altmer replied. "You are one of Bravil's most important personages, and one of its most contradictory. You are a member of the Fighters Guild, yet have called out the city guard for its corruption. You have killed a nest of smugglers, and slain trolls with your bare hands. Yet you heal bears and call them friends. You are a huntress who does not hunt. An archer skilled with magic. You rub shoulders with beggars and patricians, and while born on the streets of the Imperial City, you are more at home in the forest than anywhere else."
"Then why did you try to kill me?" Teresa set down the wine glass without taking a sip, and stared the other elf in the eye.
"I had no control over that." The Altmer frowned, and put down his glass as well. "Kurdan gave no other option. A long time ago I warned him that his preposterous hunt would be the death of him. But he would not listen. He never listened to the voice of reason. It was all ego with him, choosing who lived and died, as if he was a god."
"Besides," the Altmer paused a moment for dramatic effect. "I did tell Cosmus where Kurdan was going. Just as I instructed Dakari to wait for your vice-commander at the docks."
"You what?" Try as she might, Teresa could not prevent her eyes from growing into saucers.
"Do you think I normally discuss secret arrangements at the end of the South Street Bridge, with a nosy beggar sitting just two paces away?" Morandil raised one eyebrow, as if to show surprise at Teresa's reaction. "I knew he would tell your guild. I gambled that they would reach the island in time to stop Kurdan."
Teresa leaned back in her chair, studying the Altmer. He had played both Kurdan and herself, and now thanks to his machinations he was the crimelord of Bravil. No wonder he was thankful. She had gotten rid of his boss for him, in such a way that he could not even be implicated for it.
Just as when she had first met Morandil, she could feel the enchantments on his clothing, his opal ring, and his dagger. He was right, Kurdan had been just a brute. But the high elf, he was another fish entirely. His accent, so carefully managed, still screamed Chamber Pot to her. But he was just at home in velvet and fine wines as Ancondil or Lady Scaurus. Clearly, he had clawed his way up from the gutter, just as she had. Yet Teresa suspected that he had left far more bodies in his wake, and innocent ones at that.
"So why did you ask me here?" Teresa asked. "Surely not just to gloat?"
"Well, there is that." The Altmer leaned back in his chair with a faint smile, and appeared to relax. "I asked you here to offer you a position."
Teresa just stared him. Had he said what she thought he had?
"Oh don't act surprised," Morandil said. "Your exploits have made you famous in Bravil's underworld. First you killed a dozen smugglers in Bawn, then put the city guard on the carpet for their corruption. Now you have laid Kurdan low with but a single arrow. Many have wanted to do that, some have even tried. But you are the only one to succeed. Between your bow and my intellect, there is nothing we could not do together."
"You want me to be your enforcer?" Teresa blinked. Was he mad? Then she remembered the three gangsters waiting across the street from the inn. Those had not been Morandil's thugs, but rather his opposition! That was why he wanted her, to kill them. No doubt the others who did not join him as well. "Not everyone is happy with you taking Kurdan's place, are they?"
"It is true that there are some who dispute my leadership." The Altmer steepled his fingers together before him, and stared thoughtfully at the wood elf. "But they will be dealt with. Once a few are made examples of, the others will fall into line."
"I'm not an assassin," Teresa rose to her feet. "Or a legbreaker, or any kind of ruffian."
"Don't play high and mighty with me," Morandil sneered, and his affectations slipped away like a thief in the night. "Let's be blunt here. You're just mercenary. You take money to kill people. I know you come from the street, just like me. You know better than anyone else how important gold is, and what people will do to get it. I can make you rich Teresa. You will earn more in a month with me then that guild will give you in an entire lifetime. Think of what you can do with that money. Think of the people closest to you, who can benefit from it. All you have to do is kill scum this city will be happier without. You've been doing that already. Why not get paid for it from now on?"
Teresa shook her head. "For all that you say you know me, you don't know a thing about me Morandil. I don't kill for gold, or for pleasure. I do it to protect myself and others. I'll never join you. And if this is the part where you do threaten me, just remember how that worked out for Kurdan."
Then she vanished through the door, with the croaking of a raven on her heels.