haute ecole rider:
Pappy has been to this particular dance more than once. So he knows how to deal with goblin tribes, and Bruma steaks.
There will be more vittles coming, though not nearly as tasty as Pappy's Redguard feast. Acadian
: You have Pappy's plan down to a tee. Textbook stuff I suppose. But of course much easier said than actually done.
You were also right on about my decision for Saya to know about goblins through book learning only. As an Arcane University-trained battlemage, she can seem quite uber. Seven years of learning magic will do that to someone. It was important for me to show that while she has a lot of book-learning, she still lacks the kind of real world experience that Teresa and company have.
I am glad the mammoth farts line went over. I was originally going to use a bag of lighting bolts, but I decided to change it to something more colorful, to reflect the speaker. Olen
: It will be a while before we see what Mad Josse can do. Suffice to say, he's been living on his own in the backwoods of Cyrodiil for decades, so he can take care of himself. Pappy knows him from way back, so he doesn't need to drag it out. Saya OTOH, is a big question mark for him still. So he will be taking the time for get a better idea for just what she can really do.
I am glad the mammoth farts and clusterfetches were appreciated. I spend a lot of effort working on the dialogue, to make sure each line matches the personality of the speaker. King Coin:
I know a few goblins does seem meh. That is why I made it an entire tribe. With the guild outnumbered 10 or 12 to 1, it should make it exciting.
Raminus has been the headmaster of the Arcane U since the tale started. As ghastley said, in the TF Raminus runs the university, while Traven runs the Mages Guild overall, not just in Cyrodiil, but all over Tamriel. My Arcane U is a bit different from the game, as it is open to anyone who can pay. The Mages Guild simply runs it. But when you come down to it, it is really no different from how their local guild chapters teach spells to people. The University just takes that to a whole new level of focus. liliandra nadiar:
Welcome back lil. Hopefully the goblins will not disappoint. There are about a hundred of them or so, and they have mages. ghastley
: Their estimates put the goblins at about 80-100. But of course those could be off as well. It is basically an entire tribe that decided to move into the Lady's mine. As you said, a tribe to scale with the rest of things in the TF. So it is a lot of the little greenies. Unfortunately there is no Tenth Legion on the way to back them up, like at Bruma. But there will be at least one pleasant surprise. Grits
: I am glad they are all coming across as unique characters. It is hard to write so many different people in the same scene, and have them all come across with their own individual voices. They certainly are a bunch of rowdy types too! A lot of that comes from Pappy of course. Those are the kind of people he likes. He may have been born an Imperial, but you might say he is a Nord at heart. Must be a lot of that Nordic blood back in his Colovian ancestry. McBadgere
: Sometimes it can be fun to find creative ways of getting around the swear filter. The Denver Pyle mountain man talk was just fun to write. All I had to do was go back and watch a little Grizzly Adams. Previously On Teresa Of The Faint Smile:
Our last episode revealed that Mad Josse was a representative of the miners, there to make sure their belongings were returned to their next of kin. As his nephew was one of them at the mine, he takes this personally. Saya then gave the others a briefing on what to expect from the goblins, based upon what she had learned at the Arcane University. In the end Pappy revealed that his plan was to divide the goblins and destroy them one piece at a time, all the while controlling the battlefield. Chapter 43.5 – Hand of Fire
Magnus was but a faint glow on the horizon when Teresa awoke. Taking a moment to stretch, she rose to her feet and glanced down at her empty bed. In spite of Tadrose's joke the other night, they still had yet to spend an entire night with one another. Someday, Teresa sighed, when Tadrose was ready. Until then, she at least had the comfort of the armorer's arms to hold her, and her lips to plant their soft, silken kisses upon her own.
Teresa was reminded of how Nerussa had once chided her to take her time when she ate, and savor every bite of her meals rather than wolf them down. "There is no hurry,"
the high elf had declared. "It is not going anywhere. So take the time to relish every nuance of flavor. Every scent is a work of art, every taste a masterpiece. Life is filled with simple pleasures. Do not let them pass you by because you were in too much of a hurry to pause and notice."
Teresa resolved to savor every touch, every kiss, every hour she spent with Tadrose. As Nerussa had said, there was no hurry. The Dunmer was not going anywhere. Besides, if she tried, there was always Ancondil's war hammer…
A clattering drifted up from outside her window. Teresa walked over and looked down through it to the practice yard behind the guild hall. There she found Mad Josse packing up the small camp he had made the previous night and stowing the gear away onto the back of his mule. Even from the second story of the hall, she could hear the aging Breton muttering to himself, albeit in tones too low for her to make out the words.
Now there was a real mountain man, Teresa thought. He did not sleep indoors, even in the city. She bit her lip. What kind of forester was she, compared to that?
She turned from the window and stepped to her dressing table. A quick spell left her body feeling clean and refreshed. Another removed any unwanted hairs. Only Mara knew when she would have the privacy to use the latter magic again. So she made the most of it while she could.
Then she dressed, starting with the velvet spirit bag which she draped around her neck. Rather than the legion tunic and drawstring pants she wore for her early morning runs, she donned Aldariel
instead. Ravenfeeder followed, snugly tucked within its chitin gorytos
. Then came her potion belts, and finally her Thieves Bag. She took several minutes to rummage through the magical bag to make sure that she had everything she might need. Extra potions, her bedroll, dried ingredients, her mortar and pestle, a copy of Grognak's Bravil Guide
, a map, and even more items were tucked away within the enchanted container.
Fully armed, armored, and prepared, she stepped into the hallway outside. Even now she saw the light under Ancondil's door, revealing that he was awake as well. It was not to his room that she strode however, but rather to Tadrose's. After a gentle rap, she cracked the door open just enough to look within and find that the Dunmer was still donning her armor.
"Greet the sun Tadrose," she said with a gentle smile. The smile the Dunmer gave her in return was brighter, and warmer, then Magnus himself could ever be. By Dibella, Teresa silently marveled, how on Nirn did she do that?
Letting herself in, the wood elf took the time to shut the door behind her. Then her lips found those of Tadrose, and her hands availed themselves of the armorer's muscular frame. After long moments the Dunmer drew away, eyes aglow with fire. She laughed, and waved a finger at Teresa.
"Now don't you distract me," she chided. "I have to get my armor on and get downstairs."
"I'd rather get you out of your armor," Teresa pouted. Still, she moved to help the Dunmer with the overlapping plates of her cuirass. There were many more individual pieces to the elven steel than in Teresa's own miran-talurn armor. That made the process of putting it on or taking it off much more involved. Still, it gave Teresa the chance to touch the other woman. Or touch her armor at least.
When they were finally done, and Tadrose stood before her in full golden splendor, Teresa took a moment just to look at the dark elf. As she had often thought before, the armorer looked like a golden raven of the battlefield. Brilliant, noble, and deadly, that was Tadrose.
"Do you think you might pose for Alaine Retiene?" Teresa found herself asking. "I would love to have a portrait of you in your armor."
The vice-commander rolled her eyes. "You need to save your septims for that house," she said. "You are so close to being able to buy it as it is."
"Alaine and I might be able to work something out," Teresa contended. "He likes me. He's never gotten killed with me bodyguarding him after all."
Tadrose laughed, and surprised Teresa by leaning in to give her a quick kiss. "Have I ever told you I love you?" The dark elf winked, and Teresa found herself blushing. "Now come on, we have to get going."
The vice-commander took Teresa by the hand, and led her out into the hallway. Pappy was already clambering down the stairs from his third floor quarters, decked out in his combination of legion and orcish armor. Valerius too, already stood in the corridor, glowing like starlight in his panoply of silver meteoric glass. The clatter of metal against metal came through the doors of the other rooms, telling Teresa that the rest of the guild was still in the process of donning their gear.
"All right you meatheads!" Pappy barked down the hallway, loud enough that Teresa was certain he could be heard outside the building. "Drop your pricks and grab your kits. I want everyone downstairs and ready for inspection in ten!"
Valerius led the way down the stair, followed by the two women - still holding hands - and then finally the guild commander. They made their way to the kitchen, where they found Tavian waiting for them with fresh bread, Tenmar tea, and goat's milk. The other members of the guild stumbled in one at a time as they broke their fast. So too did Mad Josse. While the Breton turned down the offer of food, he did avail himself of the tea.
"Don't get this too often out in the woods," he proclaimed as he gulped down the hot Khajiit tea. "Damn fine tastin' too."
Teresa wanted to shake her head as she sipped her own milk. Again, Nerussa's words - chiding her to take her time - rose in her memory. At least she was not a forester like that! Not anymore at least.
"So where's our battlemage?" Chance strode into the room. He wore a suit of full steel plate, and his Dwemer mace Ncharcasti
rode at one of his hips.
"She'll be here shortly," Pappy murmured. "At least she better be, or we're leaving without her."
After a quick meal, Pappy led them all to the practice hall. There he and Tadrose both inspected each fighter's weapons, armor, and potions. The guild commander cast a critical eye upon the extra potions that Teresa carried in her bag for all. He even made the wood elf take them out and display them on the floor for all to see.
"Antidotes, shields, resist shock, silence, and extra healing potions," Pappy nodded at each row of bottles. "What are these?" he gestured to another group of brews.
"Shock shields," Teresa declared. "They will stack with our shield and resist shock potions, for a little something extra. I have extra magicka potions too, in case our battlemage did not bring enough. I also have some scrolls from Ungarion, dispels, salamanders, sylphs, the usual."
"Outstanding Teresa!" The Colovian clapped an armored paw upon the wood elf's back. "Take note you meatheads. A good soldier is prepared for anything. This is how you fight, and win."
Teresa tried not to blush, and lowered her head as she separated her potions into even groups, to divide up amongst the others. She heard the sound of jingling mail rings as she did so, and turned her head to look to the door. None of their guild wore mail that made a sound like that. The elven mail that Tadrose and Storm-Tail wore under their panoplies was silent as linen, and the plate the others wore made more noise than the mail beneath it.
It was their new battlemage, walking into the wide chamber. She was girded in armor of gleaming mithril rings, and carried a kite-shaped shield of the same material in one hand. Her milky white hair was covered by an open-faced helmet, and a mace with glowing mithril flanges was tucked into her belt. Numerous pouches hung from belts along her waist and across her chest, and a leather pack was slung over her back, along with a bedroll.
"Hope we did not interrupt her beauty sleep," Morghak rumbled in low voice.
"Give me some time, and I'll be doing more than just that," Chance remarked out of the corner of his mouth.
"Pfft!" the orc's voice oozed with contempt. "Where are her scars? Her hands have spent their time unrolling parchment, not gripping the hafts of weapons."
"I've got a haft that could use gripping," Vincent laughed.
"Careful, she might take you up on that," Chance whispered back.
"Keep it up and I might," Morghak growled. She made a fist, and the noise of popping knuckles resounded loudly from underneath her gauntlet. She smiled with a mouthful of teeth, and Vincent nearly turned as pale as Teresa.
"All right kid," Pappy said as he walked over to meet the battlemage and cast an appraising eye upon her armored frame. His hands reached out, and Teresa noted that she flinched as he began checking her armor, and then the contents of her pouches. "Let's see what you've got. Standard battlemage mithril mail, that's good. Magicka potions, even better. Shock shields, antidotes, healing, cure disease. So where's your staff kid?"
"I prefer something more, substantial." Saya patted the handle of her mace with one hand. "And my name is Saya."
Teresa could not restrain a faint smile when she overheard the last.
"Sure it is kid," Pappy replied coolly. He walked over to one wall, and motioned for the Dunmer to follow. Once there, he drew a wooden mace from a rack of practice weapons, and threw it to her. She deftly caught it in one hand as he drew a shield and a practice sword from the same rack. "Now show me what you've got."
Saya glanced from the guild commander to Teresa and the others, clearly unsure of whether she should do as he said. Teresa packed up the last of her potions when Tadrose spoke.
"Go ahead, " the vice-commander said, "and if I were you, I wouldn't hold back."
The battlemage raised her own shield and brought the mace up behind her head. She stepped in closer to Pappy, and launched a blow at his side. Even to Teresa's eye, it looked slow and lazy. The Colovian easily parried it on his shield, and shook his head.
"I said hit me kid," he growled. "Those goblins aren't gonna be playing out there. Now show me what you can really do."
The Dunmer responded with another strike of her mace, harder this time. "Again!" Pappy cried, as he shrugged off the blow. Once more the dark elf swung upon him, and the Colovian's shield rang from the impact. "Come on princess, you afraid you might chip your nails? Hit me like you mean it!"
The Dunmer struck again and again, as Pappy goaded her on. The entire time, he never returned a blow with his sword. He simply let her pound away upon him, until his shield was dented and splintered from the impacts. Teresa realized what he was doing. He was trying to make the battlemage lose her temper, just as that first day she had demonstrated her archery for him. Yet while the dark elf looked as if she would like to rip the guild commander in two, she never lost her finesse or form.
Now Pappy began striking back with his sword. First simple cuts and jabs, which she easily turned aside with her shield. Then he moved in closer to her, and bashed his shield up against her own. She staggered back, and he closed in. In a moment his foot was behind her ankle, and he gave a rough shove. She went down onto her back, and moment later the rounded tip of his wooden blade was resting on her chest.
"Not bad kid," Pappy said. He reversed his grip on his sword and tossed it to Tavian. Reaching down with one hand, the Colovian helped the battlemage to her feet. "You kept your wits about you. That's the most important thing. You need experience though, but you'll get that soon enough."
The Dunmer simply nodded, and drew her helmet from her head. Her milky-white locks were beaded with sweat, and Teresa noted with satisfaction that she did not look quite so haughty as she had the other night.
"All right, now tell me what else you can do." Pappy again motioned for her to follow him back to the others. Tadrose took this as her cue to continue inspecting the gear of the regular guild members. "Please tell me you know destruction magic."
"Aye," Saya declared. "Shock, flame, or frost, and I combine all with a weakness to magic to make them more effective."
"What about healing?" Pappy asked. "Can you do that?"
"I can heal others, as well as use fortification spells" Saya said. "Although I will admit it is not my most potent school. I am also conversant in alteration magic, such as shock shields." The dark elf raised her hand into a fist. When she unclenched it a moment later, a wave of sparking energy fell down around her, and disappeared into her frame.
"I can also open locks, walk on water or breathe it, dispel magic, create light, and use night eye." The Dunmer's pride resurfaced as she extolled her virtues. "I am most skilled at conjuration however." She raised a hand again, and this time a blue light spilled from between her fingers. A disc of conjuration magic dropped to the floor in front of her, and behind it formed a creature the likes of which Teresa had never seen.
Her skin was a blue-grey, much like a Dunmer's, only softer in shade. The hair that was drawn back from her face in a ponytail was a light shade of purple, reminding Teresa of the twilight sky. The eyes that gazed from her eyesockets were the bright red of the setting sun, and her lips were as black as the darkest night. Her arms ended in a pair of great, leathery wings. Teresa was reminded of those of a bat, except that the fingers that sprouted from the leading edge of her wings stretched out into long, wickedly sharp claws. Her legs were like those of a bird, and ended in only slightly shorter, yet thicker, claws. Finally, a long tail stretched out behind her, ending what Teresa imagined might be a stinger larger than her fist. Screenshot
Teresa gasped, and could not stop herself from taking a step back. Many others did the same, and more than one hand fell near the hilt of a weapon. Pappy and Tadrose remained impassive however, and it was the mistress of the forge who broke the silence.
"A Winged Twilight," the Dunmer said. Her smoldering eyes drifted from the summoning to mage who had brought her into the world. "Impressive."
A Winged Twilight! Now Teresa remembered the entry in Varieties of Daedra
that described the creature. It was one of the few that she had not seen during the Oblivion Crisis. She imagined because they served only Azura, the Daedric Princess of Dawn and Dusk.
"I see my Lady's hand has touched thee," The Daedra's voice was as soft as silken sheets as she stared at Tadrose. "You
may address me as Kireteki." Her infernal eyes passed over the other members of the guild, and Teresa wondered what it was that lurked behind them? A bloodthirsty killer just waiting for its opportunity? Or could there really be more to a Daedra, as Tadrose insisted?
"These are allies," Saya declared. "We shall be fighting alongside them soon."
The Winged Twilight nodded as she gazed from one fighter to the next. Finally she stepped beside her conjurer. Neither said a word to one another, but Teresa was certain that something passed between the two. The fingers from one of Kireteki's wings gently rested against the small of the mage's back, and Teresa suddenly wondered if the two were lovers? Could such a thing even be possible?
"I'm impressed kid. You just might work out after all." Pappy stood arms akimbo as he stared at the dusky-skinned pair. Then his eyes turned to the rest of the fighters. "You aren't getting paid to gawk you meatheads. Get your kits squared away so we can move out. We're burning daylight."
The mercenaries went back to their work of checking and double-checking their gear, although many eyes continued to stray to the new battlemage and her Daedric companion. Until finally Saya dispelled the Winged Twilight after a grumble from Pappy. In the meanwhile Teresa passed out the extra potions she had brewed, so that they were evenly spread around the group.
During this time they were joined by Laberius Maesa. The Nibenean was now clad in black and red velvet. He wore an arming sword at one hip whose hilt was gilded with shining rubies. Teresa had to suppress the urge to laugh at the man, who looked every inch the dandy. She saw Morghak rolling her eyes, and realized she was not alone in her assessment of the Imperial.