haute ecole rider:
And next the conclusion of the chapter. Thank you for finding Talos' sword, it was supposed to be in
his hand. That Septim is a slippery one...
Every time you say T, I keep thinking of Mr. T. Acadian:
Thank you Acadian. I must admit though, when you said lady of Anvil, my first thought was of Parwen, thanks to the BF.
Thank you for finding my errant to
, it was off gallivanting with Tiber Septim's in
Thank you Olen. You saw exactly what I was trying to convey.Destri Melarg:
not the one who killed off Teresa half-a-dozen chapters ago and am only now showing that she did indeed survive being poisoned and stabbed...
Sconces was right. As much as I am a fan of the Stone of Scone, I think it would be out of place in ES. D.Foxy:
But I have not finished posting this chapter yet! You already want another!
I am working on it though, and it features the appearance of fox...Next
: The conclusion of The Grandmaster.
* * *Chapter 14.4- The Grandmaster
"Julian said a lot happened that no one knew about," Teresa breathed before taking another sip of the delicious wine. "She said they took the Amulet of Kings as well."
"They did." Baurus' face darkened then, and Teresa wondered if she should not have mentioned it. "The Mythic Dawn had a spy in our ranks - Brother Piner. He's the reason they knew so much. Where the Emperor and his sons would be, who their guards were, where the escape route was in the tunnels. He gave them everything."
"Piner?" Teresa wondered aloud, "he was the one I met at Weynon!" The young elf's mind whirled. She remembered again how Piner had tried to persuade her to tell her why she wanted to see Jauffre. He had been trying to get information from her to pass along to his true masters! she realized.
"The night after you were there, he murdered Prior Maborel and took the amulet." Baurus had a sour look on his face. "It was only at Lake Arrius that we were able to catch up with him. We broke their backs there, but Mankar Camoran escaped to his Paradise with the Amulet of Kings."
"Mankar who?" Teresa felt confused. She had never heard of anyone by that name.
"He was the leader of the Mythic Dawn," Baurus explained. "His writings go back over four hundred years, to the time of Tiber Septim. We think he was a high ranking noble in the Aldmeri Dominion, probably a member of the Camoran dynasty. One thing we do know for certain is that he has hated the Imperial Family since Tiber Septim conquered Summerset Isle and Valenwood. He spent four hundred years plotting his revenge, and this was his master stroke. Killing the Emperor extinguished the dragonfires in the Temple of the One. Without the amulet, it was impossible to relight them. Most of us didn't realize it, but the dragonfires were what prevented the Daedra from creating lasting gateways to Nirn."
Teresa nodded, her mind awhirl with Baurus' revelations. When she had carried the Amulet of Kings through the wilderness, she had only imagined that it was a tool to prove who the rightful heir was. But now from what the Redguard was saying, it had been Nirn's only protection from the hordes of Oblivion! To think that she had held such a thing in her very hands…
"So this Mankar wanted the Daedra to invade Nirn?" Teresa wondered as she stared down at her trembling fingers. "Why?"
"He was mad." Baurus put it plainly. "Julian and the others who stormed his Paradise and regained the amulet said as much from his rants. Destroying the world was his idea of creating a Golden Age. Thank the Nine we had Martin, or we never could have gotten to Camoran. Martin never talked much about his past, but it was clear he had run-ins with Daedra when he was younger. Thanks to what he learned then, he was able to create a gateway to Camoran's Paradise - some strange Oblivion realm that Mankar Camoran had created with the help of his master, Mehrunes Dagon."
"So did the glowing stone Julian took from the Oblivion Gate have something to do with that?" Teresa asked. The other Redguard never had answered her question about that when they had talked the other day, and it had been in the back of the forester's mind ever since.
"Oh yes, Julian mentioned you saw that, even though you weren't at the battle. That's quite a trick…" Baurus took another sip of the wine. "That was a Great Sigil Stone, the power source of the Great Gate. We needed one in order to create the portal to Camoran's Paradise. So we tricked the Daedra into creating a Great Gate at Bruma in order to get it."
"You wanted them to attack?" Teresa's eyes widened, and she was certain that her jaw had dropped to the floor.
"We had no choice," Baurus explained, staring deeply into Teresa's eyes. "It was all Martin's idea. Believe me, I thought it was crazy too, so did everyone. But it was the only way to get the Sigil Stone. Still it's no less crazy then handing the Amulet of Kings to an escaped prisoner."
Teresa looked down at her lap, keenly aware of how warm her cheeks were becoming.
"Hey, don't be embarrassed, we've all had to do things we never imagined." Baurus started in a friendly tone, then his voice turned somber "It's got me thinking though, I wonder how random some of these things have been. I mean take Martin. His past knowledge of the Daedra made him exactly the right person we needed. Or Julian, who just happened to return to Weynon at the right time to head to Kvatch, after
the first group sent there had been ambushed thanks to Piner. Or you? Was it pure chance that put you in the alley at the same moment that our agent watching the Mythic Dawn was killed? Or that you were accidentally put in a cell that is never supposed to be used?"
"What are you saying?" Teresa now looked back up at the Redguard, feeling her eyebrows furrowing as she stared at him. "That the gods arranged it all?"
"I wonder." Baurus put his fingertips together in a steeple resting under this jaw. "You, Julian, and Martin, all of you were exactly the right person, and just happened to be in the right place, at the right time. Can it really all just be coincidence?"
Teresa felt her cheeks turning warm again. The idea of her being the right person for anything was just ludicrous. Yet somehow she did not feel like laughing. Could Baurus be right? Could there have been an unseen hand shaping events, shaping their lives, all along? She thought of Raven, and how many times he had led her to where she needed to be, and she knew the answer.
"There are no coincidences." She was probably more surprised than Baurus at her words. "And somehow I don't think you brought me here to tell me all of this."
"No, and yes," Baurus now smiled faintly himself as he leaned back in his chair. "Most of this will probably be released to the Black Horse Courier soon. But I thought you had the right to know what you were a part of. And that is what brings me to the reason I wanted to see you."
Now the Redguard leaned forward, and his features became serious once more. "Have you ever thought of becoming a Blade?"
If he had not looked so serious, Teresa would have laughed in his face. A street rat like her, be one of the Empire's elite? That was crazy! Yet Baurus' eyes were so intent, his features set in such a somber mask, that she knew this was no joke. He really meant it!
"I…I…um," she stammered. What do you say to an offer like that? "I can't do that. I pick plants and make potions. I'm not a fighter. I could never even stand up in all that iron mongery you people wear!"
"The Imperial Bodyguard is only the smallest part of our organization," Baurus explained, leaning back in his chair. "Most of the Blades are secret agents. People who watch and listen, and report back what they find, without being noticed. You've already proven you can do it. The way you slipped out of the prison and turned up at Weynon, leaving no more sign of your passing than the wind, that was brilliant! You are exactly the kind of person we need."
'Me, a spy?" Teresa squeaked. That seemed even more preposterous than her being a bodyguard! "I don't know the first thing about spying on people. I'm just a girl from the street."
"It doesn't take an education from the Arcane University," Baurus murmured. His dry, sardonic tone gave Teresa the distinct impression that he was growing impatient with her answers. How could she tell him no without making him angry? she wondered. The last thing she wanted was to be on the short list of the Grandmaster of the Blades.
"Baurus, I really appreciate what you are offering me." Teresa swallowed, picking her words carefully before continuing. "But I don't think I am ready for something like that. I spent all of my life living in the gutter. I had never set foot outside the Imperial City until a few months ago. Now I see that there is a great, wide world out there, and I need some time to figure out where my place in it really is. This is just too much for me right now."
Now Teresa rose and stepped away from her chair. Baurus sighed, and stood as well. In that moment he looked so tired, so utterly worn out, that Teresa felt her heart lurch. She knew she was letting him down, and she wished it could be some other way, but he was just asking too much.
"I'm sorry Baurus." Teresa bit her lip as she stared into the Redguard's brown eyes. "I wish I could be the person you want me to be. But I'm just not like you and Julian."
"Yes you are." The grandmaster spoke with a resolve that was as firm as iron as he met the forester's gaze. Then his tone softened, and he stared back down at his desk for a moment before raising his brown eyes again. "You just don't know it yet. Just keep in mind what I said, and one day, when you're ready for it, come and see me."
"I will." Teresa smiled faintly. That she knew she could do. She turned for the door, but the voice of the Redguard brought her around again.
"Do me a favor while you're out picking plants." Baurus sat down and pulled a blank sheet of parchment before him. Dipping the point of a quill into a pot of ink, he began to scrawl across the page. "Keep an eye out for trouble. We smashed the Mythic Dawn, but some of their sleeper agents are still out there, and there is no telling what they might do now that they've been left to their own devices. Not to mention all the other cults, revolutionaries, and just plain monsters that are up to no good. The Oblivion Crisis may be over, but that doesn't mean that Tamriel is safe. If you see anything, let me know."
"I'll keep both eyes open." Teresa vowed.
"This is the address of one of our drops." The Grandmaster rose and handed the forester the parchment. "Send a letter here, and it will get to me. Use the legion relay posts. I'm sure you've seen them. They'll know the address and won't ask any questions."
"Sextus Clodius, at the Merchant's Inn?" Teresa said aloud, reading from the sheet. "Who's that?"
"Nobody," Baurus said, "he doesn't exist. Remember that name. Once you do, I want you to burn that sheet. Don't let anyone else see it."
"I'll remember." Teresa folded up the page into a tiny square and slid it into the top of one of her boots. "Thank you Baurus, for everything. I'll never forget what you've done for me."
Then like the wind, she was gone.