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Kazaera
Welcome, all and sundry, to Sleeper in the Cave - the tale of Adryn, a... you know, any capped biography I give you here won't do her justice. Instead, have the...
Summary: Adryn really doesn't know what she's doing on this land with oversized wildlife, natives who think giant fleas are good forms of transport, and Imperial spymasters so skooma-addled they think she's spy material, but she has every intention of surviving the rampant stupidity of everyone around her. However, she doesn't know that by setting foot on the island she's set into motion events that cannot be stopped...

I'm trying to make this easier to read in one go, so... chapter links follow, each chapter will have the different parts linked, and each section will have a link to the previous and next unless I forget. You can also read the whole thing on Fanfiction.net or the Archive of Our Own, but note that those will generally be lagging behind the Chorrol thread in terms of updates (I only post a chapter once it's been posted in total here, and sometimes I forget).

Chapter 1: 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Interlude I

Now, with no further ado:

*****

Chapter 1

I was dreaming.

Most people cannot tell when they are dreaming, and I admit I am usually inexcusably lax when it comes to this matter as well. Why, just a few weeks ago I had dreamt of being Archmage of the Mages' Guild and ordering all my underlings to pick cats from trees when they were ripe because we needed new apprentices... and not realised the impossible nature of it all until after I'd woken up. Shameful! However, this time there were several things that led me to cleverly deduce I was, in fact, asleep and my current situation a product of my subconscious mind.

First of all, I was in the middle of a mountain range, looking at a large volcano. The ground was grey and ashy, the only vegetation twisted trees, black branches grasping at the sky. Lava pools dotted the landscape, giving the whole scene an eerie glow.

Now, although it all looked rather fantastic I was perfectly happy to accept this place might exist somewhere, but my presence in it was another matter. I should not be seeing anything except my own personal cell in the Imperial City prison, and very occasionally my jailer - much though I'd rather forget that sight. Let me just say the sloppy gruel I was served twice a day, with its unidentifiable lumps and disturbing tendency to seem to move every time I looked away, was infinitely more attractive and charismatic. And although I'd told him I'd appreciate a change of decor, I'd more been thinking of wallpaper and maybe a potted plant.

Secondly, the sky was red. And by that I don't mean some poetic exaggeration of a sunset - the entire sky was a bright, vivid, uniform crimson. It looked as if someone had spilled a sea of blood among the stars. Wisps of grey clouds raced across it, forming strange patterns. For a moment, I thought I saw a face, screaming...

Apparently, I'd been so occupied keeping my track of my conscious thoughts that I'd sorely neglected my unconscious. If it was going to throw blood skies and clouds in agony at me, we were definitely going to have to have a talk.

Lastly...

I looked down. Several hundred feet below me, a tree looked as if it was about to rip itself out of the ground and hunt unwary passersby for dinner.

If I could fly, I really thought I would have noticed that earlier.

"You know," I said out loud, "If I'm going to dream, I would like to dream about something pleasant. Something like... Summerset Isle." I'd seen a drawing of it in a book once and been struck by the beauty. "Although I suppose it must be full of snooty Altmer. Or I could dream about managing a daring escape from prison underneath the guards' noses. Or... I know! A secret tunnel built into my cell and a bunch of... Blades, yes, Blades need to use it, and I escape behind them." That seemed the right sort of incredibly improbable fantasy for a dream.

I closed my eyes, focused on the image of the wall of my cell swinging back and a group of Blades and... why not, if you're going to fantasise you might as well do it properly... the Emperor dashing through it. Opened them again.

Volcano.

I shook my head at it sadly. "This really won't do, you know. You seem to be misunderstanding something here - I'm the one that makes the rules. I'm sure you're a very nice volcano, but I'd like to see daring escapes. This is my dream and I don't hold with rebellion."

"Your dream?"

I shrieked. The voice was just a sibilant whisper, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at once, seemed to be composed of thousands of voices all layered on top of each other, and even after it had finished speaking the echoes lingered in the air.

"This is not your dream, foolish child. I am the one that has brought you here and you. Will. Listen." The voice kept growing, filling the air like a gong. I clapped my hands over my ears, but to my horror it didn't do anything - it was as if the sound was coming from inside my head.

"I'm listening! I'm listening!" I screamed. My voice sounded tinny and hollow compared to the... other one.

"Good." The voice paused for a moment. My panting breath echoed loudly in the stillness.

"Wake up!" Another voice, this one, as hollow as mine - a pebble compared to an avalanche, impossible to focus on.

"The preparations are complete. You have been taken from the Imperial City, to the east, as it should be. Fear not, for I am watchful." I could barely think, but managed to dimly wonder how exactly that last sentence was supposed to make me feel less afraid. "Soon, you will arrive. Soon, you will fulfill your promise."

That was too much. "What promise?" I shouted, hands dropping from my head to ball into fists at my side. "I haven't promised you anything! I don't make promises as a matter of principle, it can't possibly have been me who, who did whatever you're talking about you have the wrong person-"

"It has already begun." Despite the sheer overpowering alien nature of the voice, I could tell there was a strange note of satisfaction in it.

A soft crackling noise made me glance down - then I stared in horror. My hands were changing. The very bones were shifting, cracking and then rehealing as they grew in ways nature had never meant them to. My skin was writhing, puffing outwards and its colour was slowly, ever-so-slowly growing lighter, yellowish, metallic-

"You're dreaming, wake-"

"Wake. Up."

I came awake with a start, still caught in the dreamworld. That changed when I jerked myself into a sitting position and-

"Ow!"

I let myself fall back onto the floor with a groan and rubbed my head with one hand - although on the whole stars were preferable to volcanos, I'd prefer not to see either when I closed my eyes. Apparently, my cell had suddenly gained a very low ceiling.

"Typical. Sleeps through the entire voyage, including the storm last night where I thought the ship was about to go under, and then decides to get up the precise instant I'm leaning over her. Just typical." Or maybe it wasn't the ceiling I'd cracked my head against.

Or, for that matter, my cell I was in.

"Sorry about that," I croaked. My throat felt as though I had screamed myself hoarse.

"You almost broke my nose," the voice complained. Dimly, I recognised that it was the second voice from the... dream. "Do you know how long it took me to get it into this shape? Just crooked enough to be mysterious and give me the look of a proper, dashing rogue straight out of the romance novels without being disfiguring. You almost ruined it!"

"Are you saying," I asked weakly, "that you break your nose regularly? For the sake of... attracting ladies?"

"And now you're insinuating I'm crazy enough to break my nose on purpose!" A pause. "I got a friend to do it."

The stars were gone, so I felt quite justified in carefully opening an eye and gauging the appearance of my new, eccentric, roommate. Immediately after, I opened the other one to stare.

The man – no, the mer – was leaning against a wall. His head was bald and covered in tattoos, his nose slightly crooked without being offputting, giving him – I admit – a rather debonair look, even if the rough clothes detracted from it somewhat. His eyes-

And here came the reason I was staring. His eyes were as red and his skin as grey as my own.

Fragmented images from the nightmare swirled back into my mind and I stopped gawking in order to chance a quick glance down at myself. Yes, my skin was still grey, my hands the same shape they'd always been. Gawking could resume presently.

"Your judgement of the matter, m'lady?" the other dark elf said, and I realised he thought I'd been staring at his nose.

"It suits you," I told him quickly. Considering how fed up I'd always become when people stared at me, I didn't want to do the same to anyone else. Especially considering he was the same race I saw every time I looked in the mirror, even if I didn't often see it outside of one. How embarrassing! "Good look, although the clothes don't exactly scream 'storybook hero'. And if you really got someone to break your nose for it, you're mad."

"Unfortunately, prisoners have never been given the finest selection of clothing. It's always 'sack, sack with holes or sack with more holes – take your pick.' Terrible shame, that," he answered, his face falling mournfully. "And as for the nose, well... I did – in a way. A friend certainly did break my nose, and he informed me later that I had been asking for it. Namely, by saying what I said about his sister, and by being too drunk to dodge."

"What you said about his sister? If it was some slander, I may have to stop speaking to you," I said, raising an eyebrow.

"I was perfectly courteous!" he protested. "Well, perhaps a bit too courteous, if you understand what I mean. My friend has always been a bit... overprotective, and when I expressed interest..."

"Say no more." I could imagine the scene very clearly in my mind's eye, and suddenly had a difficult time suppressing laughter.

"Indeed, I shall stop dwelling on such past flames and give proper attention to the present one." He bowed, a gesture that looked particularly ridiculous given his clothes, my clothes (in no better condition than his) and our surroundings, which, although not my cell, were just as bare of any amenities - I sadly noted the lack of wallpaper and potted plant. I'd really wanted that potted plant. "My name is Jiub. What would yours be, oh fair lady Nosebreaker?"

"Adryn. And I didn't break your nose!" I protested.

"Came very close, if my chin hadn't been in the way... anyway," Jiub sighed, the comedic manner dropping away, making him look much older and more tired. "We should be reaching Morrowind soon. I'm sure they'll let us go."

It was my second big shock in as many minutes. "Excuse me, did you just say Morrowind?"

"Well, obviously, since that's where the ship's bound for – oh wait, you've been asleep since before you boarded, haven't you?"

"There may have been some magic involved," I said defensively.

"Oh, I was sure that there was magic involved. Or possibly that you were on the brink of death. We've been travelling for three days now, you see."

The news that I'd slept for three days – at least – wasn't nearly as disturbing as it should have been; I suppose three shocks in as many minutes were where my mind went on strike.

"Anyway, yes. This ship is headed for Morrowind."

Morrowind. I stared – past Jiub this time. It was a place I knew next to nothing about. I knew it was in the far north-east of the Empire, one of the remotest provinces. And, of course, I knew one other thing, one that had always fascinated me deeply – it was the home of the dark elves.

I hadn't the faintest idea why I was on a ship – and now that Jiub had told me, I realised the shape of the room we were in and the rocking motion should have told me immediately that was where I was; I blamed grogginess from the long sleep – heading to Morrowind of all places.

Heading east.

I shivered as the words from my dream floated to the top of my mind... you have been taken to the east. You will fulfill your promise. then shook my head, trying to drive them out of my thoughts. It wouldn't matter at all where we were heading, I told myself. One Imperial prison was much like another, after all, and as for the dream? I'd probably just reacted badly to the magic they'd used to induce sleep.

It has already begun...

Just my imagination, I told myself firmly.

*****

Next
hazmick
Hello, this a really good start to what I hope is to be a really good story. I found myself laughing throughout the read which is a good sign. The charcters feel naturual and are well described. I hope there will be more in the future. biggrin.gif
haute ecole rider
Though I've never played MW, I've read enough MW fan fic to know how the quest starts.

I particularly enjoyed the touch of the Oblivion tutorial dungeon (secret tunnel, Blades, the Emperor) somewhere just after the beginning.

Oh, and your portrayal of Juib was the most priceless one I've seen! I loved it!
treydog
Already I am in love with this story. And it usually takes more than just one installment- I may be cheap, but I ain't easy. Ahem.

QUOTE
Let me just say the sloppy gruel I was served twice a day, with its unidentifiable lumps and disturbing tendency to seem to move every time I looked away, was infinitely more attractive and charismatic.


QUOTE
"And now you're insinuating I'm crazy enough to break my nose on purpose!" A pause. "I got a friend to do it."


Alright, where is D. Foxy's warning label? We need it prominently displayed:

DO NOT READ THIS STORY-

WHILE HOLDING, ATTEMPTING TO SWALLOW, OR OTHERWISE USING BEVERAGES

WHILE ACTING LIKE YOU ARE WORKING

IF YOU ARE POSSESSED OF A WEAK BLADDER (and you all know who you are)
Helena
Ah, another humorous Morrowind story! I have competition! tongue.gif

Just kidding, of course. I really like it so far, and I was impressed by the descriptive passages - the sky, the gruel, Azura's voice - as well as the humour (I particularly liked the sly reference to Oblivion's opening sequence). I'm also curious to know why Adryn has hardly ever met another Dunmer.
SubRosa
A fun start to what looks like a very enjoyable romp through Morrowind! With her dry wit, Adryn is a fun character to read. You have avoided the temptation of so many to give us a massive infodump all about her in the first post, but are instead giving us a bit at a time. Just enough to keep us wanting more!

As others mentioned, the not-so-subtle wink at the plot of Oblivion was delicious!

with its unidentifiable lumps and disturbing tendency to seem to move every time I looked away
ewwww! biggrin.gif


nits:
a tree looked as if it was about to rip itself out of the ground and hunt unwary passerby for dinner.
I think this was meant to be plural, and thusly passersby?
Kazaera
@everyone - thank you for the feedback! biggrin.gif I'm glad everyone seems to be enjoying it so far!

@hazmick - thank you! I'm glad you found it amusing smile.gif I was actually having trouble getting the humour into the first part - the dream made it very hard to keep Adryn's internal monologue properly funny and in character - so it's very good to know you seem to think it worked. smile.gif

@haute ecole - I sympathise, I'm the same with Oblivion. smile.gif (Never played it but familiar with pieces from fanfic - as you can tell from the homage...) I'm glad you liked Jiub! He sort of ran away with the dialogue as soon as he appeared, I'm starting to consider having him pop up again later because I like him so much.

@treydog - wow, I'm blushing here. Especially when the comment comes from Trey! I hope the rest of the story will continue to interest you.

@Helena - as said, I don't think I'll be that much competition compared to Ada, but thank you! biggrin.gif I'm glad you like the description, that's actually one bit I'm having trouble with (unless Adryn notices something, in which case she can get... slightly carried away.) As far as not knowing many other Dunmer, I may be exaggerating a little but... well, you'll see.

@SubRosa - thank you! I'm glad you like Adryn's voice, it's what makes me enjoy writing this story most. And as far as infodumps go... I don't much like them either, and really enjoy having people figure out things from bits and pieces and at least holding off on retellings of backstory until the reader has had enough time to get invested. More importantly, though, I've actually been writing this story for five years. Do you know when I finally figured out most (not all. Most.) of Adryn's backstory?

One month ago.

I actually spent some time thinking she had been brought into existence by Azura on the prison boat, she was that unwilling to talk about her past... except for very occasional tiny tantalising tidbits, and as soon as she seemed to be about to talk or think about something bigger she'd change the subject. Grrrr. That girl is as tight-lipped as an ash ghoul. She does, actually, now have a backstory complete with childhood and everything but infodumps are highly unlikely. I won't make you wait as long as I did to figure out what her story was and will put in more clues, but... well. Suffering is there to be shared, right? smile.gif

oh yeah, and eta: I'd thought "passerby" was both singular and plural, but checking dictionary.com tells me you're right. Sorry about that! Am editing now, thank you for pointing that out.

@everyone, again - question! About how often is it customary to update your story? I've got another, what, twenty or so installments written (although I am currently in process of rewriting chapter one so that might take a bit) but I don't want to spam the forum or anything.
haute ecole rider
To answer your question, I update mine every other day, until I run out of material. Since I've written out to Chapter 19 before writer's block hit, and just started Chapter 14 (split up into sections), it'll be a couple o' months, I figure, before I have to overcome the darn thing and beat it into submission.

Others update once a week, or a couple times a week, when their schedule allows. Still others update less often, when the muse moves them. I might join the latter crowd eventually!
Acadian
Welcome to the Arena, Kaz. Nicely done. I enjoy Oblivion stories because of their familiarity. I enjoy Morrowind stories because the fanfic characters guide me through unfamiliar territory.

Adryn has a nice voice and you've a clever way with words. smile.gif

QUOTE
@everyone, again - question! About how often is it customary to update your story? I've got another, what, twenty or so installments written (although I am currently in process of rewriting chapter one so that might take a bit) but I don't want to spam the forum or anything.
Because I have dozens of episodes stacked up, I am posting at the feverish pace of every three days. Once I get my story caught up, I will go to my preferred rate of once per week. I also prefer post lengths of 1000-2000 words (like your first chapter is).

Nit:
QUOTE
I closed my eyes, focussed on the image of the wall of my cell swinging back and a group of Blades and...
focused
hazmick
I posted my first 3 installments in quick succession (every other day) but I had loads of mistakes that I had overlooked (thankfully they were spotted by the eagle eyes of some literary legends and I was able to sort them out). I'm writing them slowly, spending a few hours a day editing and re-editing until I'm happy with it. So probably once a week or something.
SubRosa
As h.e.o. said, I also update mine every other day with a post that is generally 1k-2k long. It all depends on where a good breaking point is in the chapter. It also depends on how far ahead I am at the time. I had 17 chapters written out when I was posting on a previous forum. But when I started posting here at Chorrol I decided to use the opportunity to tweak things a bit, and have added many brand new chapters in the middle of the old ones. So sometimes I go a week or two without updating if I am still in the process of writing new material. Then once I get a chapter done it post it in that every other day schedule until it is all up. Most of my chapters are in the 10k+ these days, so it can take a few weeks. In fact, haute and I work it so we post ever other day.
Olen
Excellent piece, another funny one which is nice to see, and about my favourite of the TES games. I shall certainly be reading this one. As others have said the comment on the oblivion opening was inspired, I laughed aloud at that, it just fitted so well into the narrative and tone it was meant to be there.

I liked the repeated Potted plant thing too, it shows a bit of Adryn's character while also setting the dry humour of the tone. She has the look of a good character and I like it that you've preserved the mystery around her to keep the tension while the initial part of the game (and hardest bit to write) happens.

And Juib... well... I hadn't seen him portrayed like that before blink.gif Hilarious smile.gif

As for post length and frequency it's largely down to your own tastes. If you post too much poeple won't have time to keep up and so comments don't come, slow seems to have less problems other than that it is slow (Trey's 'Blood on the Moon' has been going three years now). Less than 1k is probably too short, more than 3.5k is too long (threatening wall of text syndrome kicks in). When I'm posting I go for 2k (or thereabouts) twice a week.
Kazaera
Thanks for the info, everyone! I think I can manage to work out a posting schedule now. smile.gif But first, posting this because I'm still on holiday and don't know the next time I'll get to update.

@Acadian - thank you! smile.gif

"Focussed" is actually an alternate UK spelling, but since "focused" is accepted and more common in both I'll just edit to reduce confusion.

@Olen - the potted plant thing was a last-minute addition, so I'm glad you liked it. (It may make a reoccurence later...) I'm glad you're enjoying it so far, hope Adryn continues to interest you...

Previous

Chapter 1, part 2

*****

We chatted for a while, Jiub dropping the sombre tone with alarming speed. I wasn't sure whether it was me or himself he was trying to cheer up with his exaggerated, foppish manner. If it was me, it worked splendidly. I was actually giggling, the dream almost entirely forgotten when Jiub shushed me, warning that the guard was coming.

The guard came to see us sitting on the floor side-by-side in perfect silence, faces perfectly composed as we stared back at him. He muttered something that sounded like "crazy Dunmer", then barked at me to come with him.

Only me, apparently; I looked helplessly towards Jiub, who just shrugged, the message 'what can you do' clearly evident in his expression. Then I hurried after the guard.

He shooed me through the hold and finally up onto the deck of the ship after saying, "let's keep this as civil as possible." I'm not entirely sure why the warning. What was he expecting me to do – sit down on the floor and refuse to go a step further? Because an Imperial prison ship is such a wonderfully pleasant place to be, after all. They'll start renting them out as cruise ships for the nobility in Imperial City any day now, I'm sure. Or maybe attack him with my bare hands?

Needless to say, the proceedings were perfectly civil on my side of things. Really, if anyone needed the reminder he did – apparently basic politeness was beyond him. Too much for his already overworked little brain, I conjectured.

The guard didn't follow me outside and I took a moment to catch my breath – I was really in terrible shape, and the fact that it was much, much warmer than I was used to didn't help – and look around.

I stared.

The ship was docked at a small village, consisting of some houses built in typical Imperial fashion but mainly shacks that looked as if they were about to sink into the surrounding swamp. The entire coast seemed to be swamp, in fact, turning into low hills further inland. It seemed the land rose even further; in the distance, I thought I could make out a mountain range. The swamp was filled with greenery, all of it entirely unfamiliar to me. The trees were alien, the flowers were alien, even the mushrooms were alien. (Yes, I am sure. They were quite a distance away, it is true, but the mushrooms I was used to don't glow.) The air was filled with strange sounds – no bird-calls, but chittering and clicking and strange hoots.

Oh, and there was a giant flea standing just past the village.

I looked at it for a moment, then decided it was a hallucination brought on by too much sleep.

Someone cleared their throat. I jumped.

Apparently, I couldn't be trusted to walk two feet by myself; here was yet another guard. And down there on the dock was a third. Wonderful.

I endured the rat-race of being escorted from guard to guard and finally made my way through the door of what Guard Number Two had called the "census office". (Guard Number Three had merely wanted to know where I was from. Frankly, if the people supposedly in charge of registering arrivals don't even know where the ships coming in are from, this place is in deep trouble.)

Inside, I was greeted with another guard and – for a change – a bureaucrat. Now, some people might be puzzled that I can recognise bureaucrats on sight. Personally, I find it very easy. There is a certain aura bureaucrats have, one that seems to incite a mixture of suicidal and homicidal impulses in those forced to be around them – I know it well.

The bureaucrat, an elderly Breton, started talking. "Ah yes, we've been expecting you."

Now that was worrisome. Expecting me? Since when was I important enough that anyone should be expecting me? I'd been expecting something more on the lines of "I have no idea who you are or what you did and I don't particularly care. Off to X Imperial prison with you."

"My name is Socucius Ergalla," correction, an elderly Breton with delusions of being Imperial. Very sad, "and I am in charge of the Census and Excise office here in Seyda Neen. Now, you'll have to be recorded before you're officially released," he was continuing.

"Wait. Released?" I asked.

Ergalla, looked distinctly annoyed at having been interrupted. "Yes. Released. As I was saying, we prefer to record all incoming individuals to this island and-"

"You mean you're just letting me go?"

"I should have thought that would be obvious," he snapped, and unrolled a piece of paper. "I have the orders right here. 'By order of Emperor Uriel Septim VII, prisoner 103841's sentence is to be changed from ten years' imprisonment to exile in the province of Morrowind.' Now if you would let me continue..."

I shut up, not in order to comply with his instructions but because I found myself speechless.

The Empire doesn't just shoo prisoners out the door with a "so sorry for the trouble, here, have fun in your new home." And what was this about 'by order of the Emperor'? I dearly hoped that that was some kind of bureaucratic formality, because although I had no idea why the Emperor himself might take an interest in me, one thing I was sure of – it couldn't possibly be a good thing.

"Anyway. What is your name?"

"Adryn," I said for the second time that day.

Ergalla raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Just 'Adryn'? No family name?"

"No," I snapped.

"Hmm. Interesting." He scribbled something on a sheet of paper. "Your place of origin?"

"Do you mean the place I grew up in, the place I spent most of my life or the place I was living in last?" I asked.

He sighed deeply. "Origin," he repeated, as if that should make everything obvious.

"Try 'birthplace' if that's too complicated for you," the guard threw in.

I glared at him. Having my intelligence insulted by an Imperial guard, how low had I fallen? It was an honest bit of ambiguity, even if I was a little snide about it.

"In that case, Daggerfall." My tone was distinctly frosty.

"Really? I'd have said you have a bit of a Skyrim accent about you. It's in the vowels, you know." Much to my dismay, the guard had apparently decided to be talkative.

"Look, if you ask for birthplace I'll give you my birthplace," I said, utterly exasperated. "And considering I asked for clarification I would expect that any being more intelligent than pond scum would realise-"

Ergalla cleared his throat, not looking up from his papers. "This antagonistic attitude is entirely unnecessary, and is causing an unconscionable delay in processing. Cease it immediately." The guard smirked. I fumed. Quietly. "What is your profession?"

My profession? Well... let's see, what had people called me? Oh yes, there'd been thief, pickpocket, crook, good-for-nothing, 'damned demon of a dark elf'... I rather liked the sound of the last, truth be told. Probably not quite the thing to say if I wanted to stay out of prison, however. And there was one other, more respectable one that would be accurate. One I'd been curious about ever since I was a child, one I'd always worked at and wanted to become even when events forced me into other directions.

"Me? I'm an alchemist."

Ergalla gave me a penetrating look, and for a moment, I thought he would dispute that. But in the end, he simply 'hmm'ed and continued scribbling. The sheet would be full in less than a minute if he continued on that way.

"Would you say you specialise more in the arts of magic, those of combat, or those of stealth and speechcraft?"

"Magic." This was not an entirely honest answer, I admit, as my skills really lay more in the third direction - I could hide well, had a quick tongue and was rather deft at picking pockets and locks. However, I did mention trying to stay out of prison, and I figured telling an Imperial official I was best at stealth was just under telling him I was a thief in terms of 'really really stupid ideas' when it came to that goal. Besides, I did have an interest in and knack for magic even if I was a little rusty.

As for combat? If you gave me a weapon, there was only one thing I could be sure of hitting. My foot.

"Ah yes. Now, what is your preferred weapon, your preferred armour, and what schools of magic do you specialise in?"

I gaped at him. "Excuse me, is all this really necessary?"

Ergalla looked wounded. "Of course it is! In order to allow us to gather data on immigration patterns and facilitate your rehabilitation-"

I blinked. The words he was using seemed to sprout more and more syllables. "How about you give me the forms and let me fill them out? Otherwise we'll be here all day."

He looked distinctly unhappy at that idea, but couldn't seem to think of a reason not to. He handed me the papers with a long-suffering sigh.

I handed them back some time later, now covered with writing, and massaged my hand. Although I could understand that the authorities on this island might want to know whether I was a potential axe-murderer, I remain puzzled as to why they need to know, for instance, precisely how high and far I can jump.

Bureaucracy.

Ergalla took the papers back eagerly, looking over them with a jaundiced eye as if afraid I'd cursed them. After reading through them several times while I stood and fidgeted, he put them down onto the desk and faced me again.

"Very well. One more question if you please." I opened my mouth, prepared to protest – what did they want to know now? My shoe size? I'd just about had it with this "processing" – but Ergalla didn't give me a chance to say a thing.

"The letter that preceded you mentioned you were born under a certain sign. And what would that be?"

Letter? Was this the same letter in which the Emperor personally (possibly) ordered my release? And why on earth did the Empire care about my birth-sign, of all possible things? Unfortunately, Ergalla's expression seemed to promise a quick and messy end if I were to make any more trouble, so instead of making a fuss I just said meekly, "The Lover."

And was immediately reminded why I generally lie and claim to be Lady-born as the guard who was really, really far too gregarious for his own good started fighting a smirk. I shot him a glare that should, by rights, have frozen lava.

It seemed to have some effect; the guard composed himself – with visible effort – and mumbled "Sorry, m'lov- er, m'lady-"

He let out a high-pitched giggle and covered his face with one hand. I huffed. Why oh why could I not have been born one month later? The Lord seemed as if it would be a nice sign to have. Safe. True, all the Lord-born I knew complained about being very sensitive to heat... but I was a dark elf, I was sure I'd manage. Besides, I'd be willing to take on even a sun allergy if it meant not having to listen to any more jokes about 'dark elven promiscuity'... jokes, I should note, so lacking in anything resembling actual humour that even the tavern bards so bad their only pay comes in the form of airborne rotten vegetables would refuse to tell them out of professional integrity. In comparison to that, vampirism doesn't seem half so bad.

Ergalla ignored the guard's antics. "Interesting. Now, before I stamp these papers, make sure this is correct," he said to me.

I frowned – of course it was correct, I was the one who had written it in the first place – but scanned the paper anyway. I was about ready to get this "processing" over with, and judging by his expression, Ergalla was too. And it's a good thing I did; the fool had put my race down as Breton! Breton, I ask you. I don't want to know what low standards the Imperial Legion must have here; anyone who can't tell the difference between a Breton and a dark elf should not be in a position of importance.

He blinked at me owlishly when I pointed this out. "Ah, yes. But you are from High Rock?"

I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Didn't we have this discussion already?"

He took the hint, scribbled something on the paper and handed it back to me. I looked over it suspiciously – maybe he was claiming I was Argonian now or something; I wouldn't put it past him – but everything seemed to be in order.

"All right, is that it?" I said, about to slip the paper into my pocket.

"Wait – we need another copy for our records..."

Suicide was looking more and more appealing.

*****

Next
Olen
But Adryn is missing the point... beaurocracy is fun. Still I suppose if you can't see the entertaining side of it...

Ergalla was brilliantly written, the rather close to the bone cynicism of it had me laughing aloud at times, as did the comments on 'why would anyone tell the authorities they were a thief?' The guard was a good counterpoint to his officiousness too.

QUOTE
There is a certain aura bureaucrats have, one that seems to incite a mixture of suicidal and homicidal impulses in those forced to be around them

I'm just glad I wasn't drinking when I read this.
QUOTE
I remain puzzled as to why they need to know, for instance, precisely how high and far I can jump.

Heh... but that's why beaurocracy is so fun.

Very funny part, and if her glimpse of Seyda Neen is anything to go by I look forwards to her being let loose on it. smile.gif
hazmick
A brilliant depiction of the guards. Olen is right, bureaucracy is fun and rather cool cool.gif

I enjoyed your description of the guards playing pass the parcel with Adryn. laugh.gif I was laughing all the way through this chapter as well, good job biggrin.gif
haute ecole rider
Your description of the whole arrival on the island sort of thing is great! I loved how you explain the really awkward start to the game by blaming bureaucracy.

I'm with the others, the way you write it, bureaucracy is just plain fun!
treydog
Note to self- remember to NOT read this at work!

Others have already pointed out the sheer joy of this installment (for everyone who wasn't stuck in the office with the giggling guard and the cluelessly anal Ergalla).

There is so much here to like that I will not even try to pick out my favorites. The combination of Adryn's irascible temper and jaundiced outlook, plus your wonderful portrayal of Morrowind... magnificent.
SubRosa
Another fun episode. Ergalla and legionary really make the entire scene come alive in all of its ridiculousness. smile.gif

I had no idea why the Emperor himself might take an interest in me, one thing I was sure of – it couldn't possibly be a good thing.
QFT!

The words he was using seemed to sprout more and more syllables.
I love the way you put this!
mALX
A fun read! I know very little about Morrowind except what Remko and Helena taught me with their stories, lol.
Helena
QUOTE(Kazaera @ Aug 20 2010, 06:46 AM) *
The bureaucrat, an elderly Imperial, started talking. "Ah yes, we've been expecting you."

Socucius Ergalla is actually a Breton. *cries* Sorry, I can't help it... Great chapter, by the way.
Acadian
QUOTE
"Focussed" is actually an alternate UK spelling
Let me ask your forgiveness and thank you for your tact in correcting me. I thought I was pretty familiar with UK spelling. Mrs Acadian is an aussie so I should know better. tongue.gif


I liked this chapter even more than the first. You have a wonderfully brisk style interjected with Adryn's brilliantly clever observations and delightful tone. You have given her an amazing way with words as she shares her thoughts.

Very nice! smile.gif
Kazaera
@Olen - Adryn doesn't agree with you, I'm afraid... I suppose it's a bit difficult to see the fun in it from her position. And, um, I might have used this part to relieve some of my frustration with that scene (why does your character have to be telling them the truth, after all?)

@hazmick - well, Adryn thinks it is a little ridiculous. She can walk from ship to office without needing a guard every step of the way... wink.gif

@haute ecole rider - Yeah, there had to be some reason for the weird "have to be recorded" scene... senseless bureaucracy seemed to be a good reason (I admit I'm not too fond of bureaucracy myself, but I do have more tolerance for it than Adryn.)

@treydog - thank you! Adryn's temper is probably going to get her in serious trouble someday, but it's incredibly fun to write.

@subRosa - yeah, Imperial schemes tend not to go so well for the poor person stuck in them, and Adryn knows that very well...

@mALX - thanks!

@Helena - really? blink.gif Butbutbut his name! Anyway, I've edited it so that he is now a Breton with delusions of being Imperial. Thanks for pointing that out!

@Acadian - don't worry about it, I checked and "focused" is more commonly used in the UK as well. Don't really know where I picked it up. And thank you! smile.gif

Previous

*****

Chapter 1, part 3

I slipped through the door and shut it behind me, letting out a deep breath. My mind was devising hellish tortures that would make hardened criminals quake with fear for the person who had invented bureaucracy, generously leaving some for the one who had come up with the triplicate form.

Luckily these particular bureaucrats seemed to have decided that I was harmless and didn't need a guard to go five steps from one office to the other (the guards on the ship could have learned much from them), which left me a bit of time to make my head stop spinning. I walked down the corridor, searching for a chair or a bench in order to get off my feet.

As soon as I looked into the next room, I forgot all about that.

The room was furnished simply, with a table, some rickety-looking chairs I didn't really want to test, a shelf and several baskets in a corner. However, what I was interested in was what was on said table and shelf. Namely the well-polished silverware and expensive-looking liquor – Cyrodiilic brandy, if I judged correctly. Quite practised in such things, I quickly tallied up my estimations of the values of each, adding on a bit as the brandy must have been imported. Then, sure I'd been mistaken, I tallied them up again.

The result was the same: enough money to eat for half a month. And that wasn't even counting the assortment of flasks on the shelf, and the small chest next to them and ye gods, was that a lockpick?

I clenched my fists. Was this some kind of game? A test or something? I grab the things here, they frisk me in the next room and voila, it's prison for you, little thief.

I turned away from the table and stalked towards the door. I hadn't got used to this 'freedom' deal yet (if Ergalla hadn't been lying, but I couldn't imagine it – he seemed stuffy, but not petty and malicious enough for a lie like that), no need to lose it before I'd even started. Better to be poor and free than rich and in prison – or rather, poor and in prison since it wasn't as if they'd let me keep my ill-gotten goods. So leaving everything behind was my best option... turning my back on not just a relatively lucrative but also totally unguarded haul.

I threw open the door and stopped short.

Far from another room with yet another Imperial officer, the door opened into a small, empty courtyard, with another building on one side of it and a tall wall on the other. A tall stone wall with plenty of hand- and footholds for the experienced climber.

In my mind, a plan began to form.

A few minutes later, I was back in the courtyard, now holding a bulging sack. The room behind me was completely bare, even the baskets at the side having been cleaned out. Spying a barrel near the door, I quickly rifled through it and added a greenish, slightly magical-feeling ring to my haul before turning my attention to the wall.

The wall was difficult to climb, especially with my heavy load, but not impossibly so; I silently thanked a childhood spent climbing trees when I reached the top and peered over.

The area just near the base of the wall was deserted, the ground overgrown with thick bushes. I quickly heaved the sack over the top. It disappeared behind a tree with a soft thump. I twisted around to see whether anyone had noticed, lost my balance and fell.

Lying on my back in the courtyard, I decided that a childhood spent climbing trees would probably have been better supplemented by an adulthood also spent climbing trees, or at least sometimes climbing trees. An adulthood spent climbing no trees at all seemed to have left me badly out of practice. I also wished I'd decided to keep the ring on me rather than add it to the sack; in retrospect, I was sure I'd felt healing magic on it and that sounded very good right now.

I got up, wincing, and dusted myself off gingerly. Luckily I seemed to have come away with only bruises.

I wandered out of the courtyard trying not to look innocent. This may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but Imperial guards expect you to look furtive and guilty. To them, an expression of carefree innocence implies that you're hiding something.

Luckily, the officer in the next room – "Sellus Gravius", Ergalla had called him – seemed decidedly uninterested in my expression, guilty or otherwise. In fact, he didn't register me at all. Instead, he was bent over a pile of paperwork, and the sound of low swearing made me suspect that here was someone who shared my view on bureaucracy and the triplicate form.

It would have made me more charitably inclined towards him, except that he was – as said – an officer of the Imperial legion. I figured the torture was only just.

It was tempting to just leave him to it and slip out the next door, but I suspected that would get me into far more trouble in the long run. So I cleared my throat.

Then coughed.

Then said, "Excuse me."

When I was wondering whether I would have to go over and shake him – always a thing to think twice about with an armed man – he finally looked up and blinked at seeing me standing there.

"Oh, right. You'd be... you'd be... I'm sure I have a letter about you in here. Somewhere." He looked through his pile of documents for a moment, then seemed to give up. "Anyway. Why didn't you say something instead of just standing there?"

Given that I had said something, I thought this accusation was rather unfair, but kept this to myself. Imperial officers can get quite upset when contradicted. Instead, I told him, "Are you Sellus Gravius? If you are, I'm to give you these papers."

"Yes, that's me. Knight Errant of the Imperial Legion – not that that gets me much but paperwork these days." He took the forms I'd painstakingly filled out and glanced over them briefly. I probably could have left them claiming I was Breton and he wouldn't have noticed. "Yes, this all seems to be in order. Now what was I supposed to do with you again... oh, right!" Apparently, Gravius had found the letter about me. Everyone seemed to have letters regarding me. It was disturbing.

He fished around on his desk and handed me a sealed package. "Take this package to Caius Cosades in Balmora. I don't know where he lives exactly but someone in Balmora should know, so ask around."

"Excuse me, but... Balmora?" I asked, confused.

"Oh, right, you're new. Balmora is a town up north from here, ask in the tradehouse for directions. Or you could take the silt strider. Quite reliable transport for a flea that's as big as a house."

So that hadn't been a hallucination after all. I wasn't sure whether to be happy that my wits weren't entirely addled or terrified that the giant flea did, after all, exist – and was apparently used as transport?

"Oh, and take this as well," Gravius continued, dropping a small pouch into my hands. The way it clinked was very, very familiar. "It's your release fee."

I stared. I seemed to be doing a lot of that today, but this definitely warranted it. Getting money from the Imperial Legion? And – I hefted the pouch – a not inconsiderable amount? From the weight, it was probably at least sixty drakes!

"Ah. T-thank you," I stumbled over the words, feeling completely off balance. It was enough to make a girl almost feel guilty about robbing the place.

Almost being the key word here.

"Yes, yes." Gravius had turned his attention back to his paperwork with a sigh. "I'm afraid I can't talk any longer, I really need to get back to this supply request. So if you'd excuse me..."

"Of course." I turned towards the door, then paused. Before, part two of my grand plan had seemed flawless and brilliant. Now, I wasn't so sure about it. But I ploughed ahead with it anyway.

"By the way... is the room back there supposed to be empty like that?"

Gravius' gaze snapped up. For the first time in the whole conversation, his entire attention was fixed on me. "What did you say?"

I shrank back. "The room. Back there. I thought it was odd that it was empty, and, and the chest on the shelf looked as if someone had broken into..." my voice trailed off as Gravius slowly stood up.

"No. That room is not supposed to be empty. That room is supposed to contain our food for the next several days, and the official Legion silverware, and the weekly... liquor... excuse me. I think I need to check on something." And he was gone.

I almost let out a sigh of relief – Gravius' full attention was a disturbing thing to have fixed upon you, and I was left with the distinct impression that this was a very dangerous man. However, dangerous or not he certainly wasn't telepathic, and what I'd done should muddy the waters a bit. I'd heard the guard with Ergalla mention that no one had been in the room since very early in the morning, so that left them with quite a large time frame in which the theft could have taken place. And I should be their last suspect now – after all, hadn't I reported the theft to the guards? And hadn't I left the place empty-handed save for what Gravius had given me?

I strolled out into the sunlight and had to suppress the urge to whistle.

*****

Next
hazmick
brilliant, Adryn is left alone for a few minutes and the legions supply room is emptied- perhaps those guards should have carried on escorting her tongue.gif

A pleasant chapter which had me giggling, good show.
haute ecole rider
QUOTE
Instead, he was bent over a pile of paperwork, and the sound of low swearing made me suspect that here was someone who shared my view on bureaucracy and the triplicate form.
And I'm sure a lot of senior NCO's share that same sentiment! I know as someone who has to deal with OSHA (amongst others) what a pain the heinie bureaucracy is, and oh, the immortal triplicate form!
laugh.gif
treydog
You skewer yet another inconsistency perfectly- the player character is so dangerous that s/he must be guarded right up to the office. Then poof "Here, let me leave you alone in this room full of stealable stuff."

And the note about Sellus NOT being telepathic was also quite fun. Spent much time in Cyrodiil have you?

QUOTE
Lying on my back in the courtyard, I decided that a childhood spent climbing trees would probably have been better supplemented by an adulthood also spent climbing trees, or at least sometimes climbing trees. An adulthood spent climbing no trees at all seemed to have left me badly out of practice. I also wished I'd decided to keep the ring on me rather than add it to the sack; in retrospect, I was sure I'd felt healing magic on it and that sounded very good right now.


Anyone who did not heed the earlier warning about beverages has only themself to blame.

And then, the crowning moment, when the harassed Knight realizes that "all our supplies- our liquor!- for the week were in that room." Truly inspired.
SubRosa
Clever plan by Adryn to rob the Census office blind. The fall off the wall after her loot was just priceless!


It was enough to make a girl almost feel guilty about robbing the place.

Almost being the key word here.

biggrin.gif
Acadian
So THAT's why she should be guarded and escorted even to make her way five steps! Leave her alone for three steps and she has a bag of loot over her shoulder. tongue.gif

There are quite a few of us here who are fans of character-driven stories, and this one is certainly a lovely example. I quite like Adryn's gift for - what is the word you used? Oh yes, verbose - rumination. A stellar example:
QUOTE
Lying on my back in the courtyard, I decided that a childhood spent climbing trees would probably have been better supplemented by an adulthood also spent climbing trees, or at least sometimes climbing trees. An adulthood spent climbing no trees at all seemed to have left me badly out of practice.
Olen
biggrin.gif I laughed numerous times.

Adryn is a great character and has a great tone. I still think she's missing the point with beurocracy, though I agree the triplicate form is only really entertaining to see how large differences you can put between them and have it escape notice.

QUOTE
I wasn't sure whether to be happy that my wits weren't entirely addled or terrified that the giant flea did, after all, exist – and was apparently used as transport?

Great line, experienced by many Morrowind players first time round.
mALX
Really good character development !!!
Kazaera
Am home! Home home home! (Am also jetlagged and ill with a very nasty cold, but at least it didn't get really bad until I was home, where I can curl up with a cup of tea, a thick blanket and a plushie white blood cell and feel thoroughly sorry for myself.) This should be celebrated by more Adryn. I might have to slow down on the posting, though, as "editing chapter 1" has apparently turned into "rewriting chapter 1 entirely and possibly making it twice the length" and I'm not that far ahead of my posting right now.

Also, I uploaded some screenshots of Adryn (they're a bit dark, sorry about that, next time I'll up the gamma beforehand): Ignoring Socucius Ergalla
Unrepentant in front of the scene of her crime
Talking to Sellus Gravius
In front of Arrille's tradehouse, with the lighthouse in the background
and not a screenshot of Adryn herself, but for fun: Her stats. I'm not sure these are entirely accurate - had difficulty picking between Mercantile and Speechcraft for one of the major skills (Adryn's Speechcraft is difficult to decide on, it's as if it's very high but half the time she hits "Taunt" instead of "Admire" by accident) and I'm not sure Destruction is actually one of her minors, but given that she has no weapons or armour skills whatsoever I had to give her SOMETHING so she wouldn't get killed by the first mudcrab she came across.

@hazmick - yeeaah, I think Adryn just proved why she should be escorted every step of the way. XD

@haute ecole rider - I am lucky enough not to have that much to do with bureaucracy, but the parts I do need to deal with make me very unhappy indeed. I feel for your friend, believe me!

@treydog - the whole 'grabbing everything in the room, waltzing out and selling it next door with no repercussions' thing is not particularly realistic, no! I thought for a while on how I could have Adryn get away with the loot (because hey, that's the classic way to start the game! And totally IC for her, I should add) while not making it seem as if she was, well, in a video game. tongue.gif As far as telepathy goes... I haven't actually played Oblivion, but Morrowind also has a few quests where it seems like the questgiver was spying on you the whole time.

@SubRosa - Adryn may occasionally overestimate her skills a little. Occasionally. wink.gif

@Acadian - thank you! smile.gif I'm glad you're enjoying it, as this story is... not particularly plot-driven. Adryn has this tendency to ignore quests, wander off and do her own thing. (Difficulty with non-adventurer or starting out as non-adventurer characters...)

@Olen - well, I think she's coming round to its use as a torture method but I don't think that's what you meant. tongue.gif And I don't think any outlander could NOT gape at the giant flea, really!

@mALX - thanks!

Previous

*****

Chapter 1, part 4

Studying my sack of loot in the bushes, I no longer felt quite so cheerful.

It wasn't that it hadn't survived the fall, which I'd worried about earlier. In fact, the fall had done even less damage than I'd expected; only one flask had broken, and that one had been empty anyway. No, my plan had worked perfectly.

Unfortunately, I'd come to the conclusion that the plan had been slightly short-sighted.

I now had my ill-gotten goods, in a bush outside the Census and Excise office, and myself outside the Census and Excise office, and hopefully not fingered as potentially in possession of said ill-gotten goods. However, now came the question – what do I do with the goods?

It was, after all, broad daylight. There were quite a few people wandering around on the street. Worse yet, there were quite a few guards wandering around on the street. The bush was, thankfully, away from the main bit of traffic and shielded behind several trees, so no one had noticed the dark elf rooting through shrubbery.

Yet.

I couldn't very well grab the sack and walk straight through the village, either to the tradehouse on the other side or (since fencing stolen goods at the tradehouse next to the place I'd stolen them from in the first place wasn't the best of ideas) to the road leading out of the village.

Ordinarily, this turn of events would require waiting until dark and sneaking in to recover the items then. However, part two of my brilliant master plan, looking steadily less brilliant by the minute, meant that the guards would probably have finished figuring out that yes, someone had stolen their food, their silverware and (crime of all crimes!) all their alcohol for that week and would be out in force. Chances were, they'd discover the sack well before nightfall.

Really, my best option was high-tailing it away before Gravius added up a newly released dark elf, a sack placed precisely where someone might throw it from the top of a wall and the possibility of a childhood spent climbing trees and came up with the name Adryn.

Most of me rebelled at the idea. Hadn't I managed to get this far, after all? And besides, this was my first taste of freedom and a new life! It should start on a high note, with me leaving the town with everything and sticking out my tongue at Ergalla and Gravius as I went.

"Stealing from the Imperials, eh?"

The voice behind me made me try to jump a foot and freeze in terror simultaneously, which made for some rather odd movements. In the end, I lost my balance and barely managed to keep myself from pitching face-first into the bush.

Once I was steady on my feet again I turned around, horrified at having been caught. My fear was only lightened slightly when I saw the person behind me wasn't, in fact, an Imperial guard but rather a Bosmer.

"Don't worry. I won't say a word. We all hate them here in town." Slowly, my heart-rate returned to its normal speed. "Me especially, they keep beating me up and stealing my things. Just the other day, they took my ring! It's not worth that much, but it's a family heirloom, one of the only things I've got of them so far away from home, so it's really precious to me."

I fished around in the sack. "Would this be it?" I asked, cutting off the stream of words and handing him the green ring I'd found earlier. I was rewarded by seeing the Bosmer's eyes light up.

"Why, that's it exactly! Thank you so much!" He took the ring eagerly and pressed it to his chest.

Now, lest anyone get the wrong impression I should add that I am not, as a rule, all that altruistic. Especially when it comes to rings with healing magic, given my tendency to attract trouble through, I would like to emphasise, absolutely no fault of my own. However, I've learned that it pays to keep anyone who can call the guards on you as happy as possible.

"I was afraid I'd never see it again. I won't forget this! I'll put in a good word for you with Arrille at the tradehouse, just you see. And..." the Bosmer looked from me to the sack in the bushes and back again. Clearly, the predicament I was in was becoming clear to him. "I think I have an idea."

A few minutes later, I was strolling across the village to the tradehouse, Fargoth – that was the Bosmer's name – by my side. The sack was thrown carelessly over my shoulder, and Fargoth made sure to mention loudly how very grateful he was for my helping him carry some of his old things over to his good friend Arrille's, he couldn't have managed so much himself...

It would have seemed ridiculous that I, skinny little scarecrow of a dark elf – and we're not known for our upper body strength in the best of times – straight out of prison would be engaged for heavy lifting. Luckily, Fargoth was a Bosmer. I'm small for a dark elf, but Fargoth was still a head shorter than me.

The tradehouse was well-furnished, with hangings on the walls and various wares spread out on polished wooden tables and a counter. Several people seemed to be browsing, and there was an Altmer standing behind the counter; I surmised this was Arrille. Fargoth had gone ahead of me when we reached the narrow stairs, and he was now whispering intensely with Arrille. When I arrived, they stopped. Arrille came over to me and winked.

"I hear you're helping Fargoth with his things," he said in a drawl that was definitely not a Summerset accent. "Always told him he was a packrat and that one day that shack of his wouldn't be large enough anymore! Good for him I have a storage room free here, hm? If you follow me there, I'll show you where to put them, and give you some advice on Vvardenfell while you're at it."

"Don't listen to a word he says," a Redguard woman who had been looking at a selection of bows interrupted. "Last time he 'gave some advice', the man actually tried to go rob one of the tombs in the swamp. He ended up getting lost, wandering around after dark trying to find his way back, and finally tripped and broke his leg. And I was the one who had to rescue him." She glared at Arrille.

"Elone, I'm insulted!" Arrille gave a mock gasp. I was suddenly reminded of Jiub, and wondered with a pang what had happened to him. It had looked as though I was the only miraculous releasee. "I'll let you know my advice was fine. It's not my fault the fool decided that by 'ancestral tombs' I meant 'excellent way to make money.' And what about that Redguard girl I helped out a while back? Last I heard she was doing perfectly well."

"Only because I caught her afterwards and explained why everything you'd told her was nonsense. It looks as though I'll have to do the same with this one too." Elone looked at me critically. I stared back, shifting my sack of loot. It was heavy and my arms were getting tired. I decided that if the two of them didn't stop acting as if I was a soulless, mindless automaton I'd brain them both with my illicit gains.

Perhaps she read some of my hostile intentions from my face, because she just sighed and said, "Well, off you go. Drop off... Fargoth's belongings." I had the sudden impression that our little charade hadn't fooled her at all. "Arrille, I'll watch the shop for you. Girl, remember to come speak to me afterwards and I'll set you straight. I'm a scout, it's my job."

"Thank you kindly, Elone. Come, it's-"

"Wait a minute!" Fargoth interrupted. He'd been hovering near the doorway and now stepped forward. "I'll come with you. There are fragile things in there, I have to make sure you don't break them."

A nearby Nord let out a loud, braying laugh. "Fussy Fargoth needs to make sure you put every bleedin' thing down just right. Kid, you picked the wrong person to run errands for - you'll be lucky if you get out before nightfall." He did not seem at all abashed by suddenly being the target of three hostile glares - Fargoth's, Arrille's and Elone's. "If you want a real job, with real pay, come to me afterwards. Name's Hrisskar Flat-Foot, I'll be up at the bar."

"As if you're ever not at the bar, drunkard." Elone's tone was waspish. "Girl, don't listen to him, that one's no good through and through."

"Okay, that's it." I said loudly. All people arguing stopped and turned their heads to look at me. I found myself in awe at my apparent skills at crowd control - now if only I could do that on purpose... "My name is Adryn. Not girl, kid, child, or anything like that. Ad. Ryn. It's only two syllables, it's not that difficult. And my arms hurt and I am about to drop this sack and if I am forced to drop it I will use my last strength to aim at one of you lot, so could we save the manly posturing - or womanly posturing," I corrected myself, looking at Elone, "for another time?"

"Girl has spirit. I like that." Hrisskar snickered. I recalled my earlier conversation with Jiub and wondered just how hard I would have to punch him in order to break his nose - and not in a dashing storybook rogue way either.

Arrille coughed. "She does have a point, even if she phrased it a little... interestingly. We all have things we need to be getting back to, so best to get this out of the way. Here, the storage is up these stairs."

Stairs. I looked at them sadly, then promised my aching muscles it would be over soon, gritted my teeth and started walking.

*****

Next
hazmick
Brilliant, I think Adryn has made quite an impression on the locals already but now she must face the gruesome task of... the stairs ohmy.gif . Get well soon, I'm gonna get myself a plushie white blood cell. biggrin.gif
haute ecole rider
Welcome home! Now get better!

QUOTE
However, now came the question – what did I do with the goods?
The verb tense feels wrong here - did you perhaps mean - what do I do with the goods?

QUOTE
someone had stolen their food, their silverware and (crime of all crimes!) all their alcohol for that week and would be out in force.
QFT!

QUOTE
It would have seemed ridiculous that I, skinny little scarecrow of a dark elf – and we're not known for our upper body strength in the best of times – straight of prison would be engaged for heavy lifting.
A word seems to have absconded - didn't you mean out of?

QUOTE
Luckily, Fargoth was a Bosmer. I'm small for a dark elf, but Fargoth was still a head shorter than me.
First I smiled at this, then I nearly guffawed at the sudden vision of Adryn carrying a heavy load for a big burly Nord instead of this silly Bosmer!

QUOTE
"Girl has spirit. I like that." Hrisskar snickered. I recalled my earlier conversation with Jiub and wondered just how hard I would have to punch him in order to break his nose - and not in a dashing storybook rogue way either.
Adryn and me both! Forget the storybook rogue, let's just make a mashed potato out of it!

I hear you about the stairs!
treydog
First- get well soon! 'Cause if you're sick you can't write or edit;and if you can't write or edit you can't post; and you HAVE to post, because I am addicted to Adryn's story! panic.gif You wouldn't want to be responsible for damaging an innocent doggie's health would you? verysad.gif

QUOTE
...but it's a family heirloom, one of the only things I've got of them so far away from home, so it's really precious to me."


My precious! Yesss! My precioussss!

QUOTE
"My name is Adryn. Not girl, kid, child, or anything like that. Ad. Ryn. It's only two syllables, it's not that difficult.


If I quoted everything else that I enjoyed about this one, I would simply copy and paste the whole post. And Adryn is a cutie!

Something about her expression in the first shot reminds me of our new kitty...
Olen
I liked this, I even liked Fargoth, if that's not a sign of great talent...

The realism you give in her fencing the goods is a nice touch, it always struck me as strange that you could clean out the local officials, wonder past them with their goods than sell them and not arouse any suspicion, this way is far more natural and I found the introduction of the other Seyda Neen characters smooth.

The banter between Hrisskar, Elone, Arile and Fargoth was great too. Had me laughing twice.

Hope you recover soon so we can have more of this.
Acadian
QUOTE
@Acadian - thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it, as this story is... not particularly plot-driven. Adryn has this tendency to ignore quests, wander off and do her own thing.
What better foundation for a story could there possibly be? tongue.gif

Delightful, again.

Adryn has a wonderful voice. I thoroughly enjoy her verbose descriptions and way with words:
QUOTE
The voice behind me made me try to jump a foot and freeze in terror simultaneously, which made for some rather odd movements. In the end, I lost my balance and barely managed to keep myself from pitching face-first into the bush.


Her comments to the crowd regarding her name and such were simply priceless.
SubRosa
I couldn't very well grab the sack and walk straight through the village,
But you can in the game! Seriously, I like the fact that you are portraying the world and its denizens as a real place, where people frown on things like thievery. The way you wove Fargoth into Adryn's theft was pure genius!

Still, that pales compared to the scene within the tradehouse! That was just fantastic! Especially Ad.Ryn's rant at the end. biggrin.gif



Kazaera
All right, there might be something of a wait before the next part - I'm all healed up but have got a bit stuck on editing *and* ended up unfortunately obsessed with Doctor Who. *sigh* I'll try to get back to this when I can, but it might take a while. sad.gif

@hazmick - indeed, all of the foes Adryn needs to confront, the stairs are indubitably the most fearsome. ohmy.gif

@haute ecole rider - thanks for the pointing out of errors, all fixed now! And Hrisskar will get his come-uppance, I'm sure, even if not in the form of an Adryn punch.

@treydog - you know, when you said "our dear kitty" the first thing I imagined was Adryn and Maxical teaming up and I'm not actually sure the universe would survive that. blink.gif

@Olen - I like Fargoth! Although I seem to be the only one, I've never quite understood what people dislike about him so much. This was something of an attempt at rehabilitation on my part, I admit. And, yeah, I figured that although nobody cares about it ingame robbing the Census office would actually probably be seen as something of a crime...

@Acadian - thanks! biggrin.gif I like the way the story goes too (especially since frankly, at this point I think everyone knows the rough outline of most quests.) But who knows, there might exist strange people who object.

@SubRosa - thank you! Yeah, no cheap taking advantage of game mechanics for Adryn, she's going to have to do things the hard way.

Previous

Chapter 1.5

At the top there was, in fact, a small storage room, empty and obviously unused for quite some time.

I let my sack fall to the ground with a sigh. Arrille, then Fargoth entered the room as I shook out my arms, which were informing me that they had got used to lazy lounging about in prison and did not hold with this sort of strenuous activity. Painfully. Fargoth closed the door behind him carefully, then hopped up to sit on a large crate. I covered my nose when I saw the dust billow up, but he didn't seem to mind.

"There, that should do it," he said. "Now you two can bargain and no one will wonder what's taking so long. After all, Fussy Fargoth needs to have things just right." He grinned wryly.

"Doesn't it bother you?" I asked him.

"Oh, Hrisskar is just a big bully. And besides, I do get a little particular about how I want things. But just a little!" he added hastily. Next to him, Arrille started coughing loudly.

"Dear me, Arrille, that sounds like a nasty cold you're coming down with," I said. "Are you sure you're feeling quite well enough to bargain?"

"Oh, don't worry about me. The dust, is all. Should tidy this room more often. Now," he straightened, his demeanour growing serious, "Fargoth tells me you have items you'd like to sell. Items acquired from a nearby Imperial outpost under, shall we say, a loose interpretation of the law." I nodded, wincing. Two people already who knew of my criminal enterprises, this did not bode well for my future career. "Now although I usually don't look well on such activities, I could make an exception for a clearly good-hearted young lass who's been helping my good friend Fargoth, and one who's been a nuisance to the Imperials up at the Census office instead of any of us townsfolk."

By Arrille's scowl, Fargoth hadn't been exaggerating much when he'd said everyone in town hated the local Imperials. I was beginning to think I could run through the town stark naked at noon and paint 'URIEL SEPTIM IS THE ILLEGITIMATE SON OF A MONKEY AND A SLOAD WHO COMMITS UNSPEAKABLE ACTS WITH SHEEP' on the walls and none of the citizens would report me.

...not that I was planning on doing this, understand. I mean, I like wearing clothes. Clothes are my close, personal friends. And noon? Not a good time. Besides, you know, if you're going to go the graffiti route it's best to go all the way - none of that 'unspeakable acts' business.

"...so that should settle it." Oops. Arrille was still talking, and it sounded as if he'd just said something important.

"Sorry, I didn't catch that?"

"I said, I'll probably go to the Census and Excise Office sometime tomorrow, if they don't stop by before then," Arrille repeated patiently. "A Nord sold it to me, big, strong-looking fellow. Kept his hood up, but sounded rather like Hrisskar Flat-Foot to me. Wouldn't be the first time he's pulled something like this, and I happen to know he was skulking around town today - probably trying to find Fargoth's stash again."

"Stash?" I asked.

"He seems to think I've got some kind of treasure chest hidden away in the swamp somewhere," Fargoth shrugged. "Honestly, as if I have any valuables left to my name in between Flat-Foot and the other soldiers. You saw what happened to my ring." I saw Arrille shoot him a sharp look from the corner of my eye, and suspected this might not be quite accurate. Not that I could particularly blame him; after all, I'd only known him for an hour, if that, and he knew I was a thief. "It does mean he'll probably be trying to poke his nose in here, trying to figure out just what 'belongings' you brought over."

"All the better," Arrille said firmly. "It'll make him look more suspicious. With luck, this will get him out of our hair entirely. And if I take it to Sellus Gravius, he'll feel obliged to cover my losses and pay for the items. A good sort, that Gravius. Pity the others aren't like him. Besides," his tone grew thoughtful, "if this does let us get rid of that Flat-foot we'll most certainly owe you something..."

I shook my head. "All right, I'm confused. What exactly does all this mean?"

"It means, young la- Adryn," he amended at my frosty look, "that I hear you have some goods you wish to sell me."

A classical way to open bargaining. I grinned. "As it so happens, I have... acquired... some items." I started taking things out of the sack. "For instance, this fine set of silverware."

Arrille looked distinctly unimpressed. "Fine? Rather an exaggeration, don't you think? But who knows, maybe someone will be near-sighted enough to believe these don't belong in the nearest junkheap... I'll give you seventy drakes for them."

Did I really look that green?

"Seventy? I'm insulted, truly insulted! Look at this craftsmanship, this polish – and feel how smooth it is, not a dent or a scratch. Seventy, I say! A septim and twenty and no less!"

"A septim and twenty? One hundred twenty drakes for that measly piece of tin? No dents, I'll give you that, but only because they've all been hammered out. But craftsmanship? Hardly! Eighty drakes and no more!"

And we were off. Bargaining, when you do it right, is as much sport as anything else. Fargoth certainly seemed to think so, at any rate - he listened to us with wide eyes and a delighted grin on his face. When one of us pulled off a particularly clever maneuver, he would break into brief applause.

"Whose side are you on?" Arrille asked him in mock outrage after Fargoth congratulated me on managing to talk him up to a round septim for the silverware.

"I am a neutral observer. I am on no one's side," Fargoth said with an attempt at an air of dignity, one which would have worked better if his feet hadn't been dangling. It all reminded me of watching the traders on market day when I was a little girl...

Well, to make a long story short, after a while we settled on three and a half septims for all my illicitly gotten goods. Arrille looked as if he were rather regretting this agreement, so I decided to cheer him up with some purchases.

Arrille frowned when I suggested going downstairs for the next stage of our bargaining. "That could be a mite difficult... did you even have any money apart from what you st- acquired at the Census office?"

I wasn't sure where this was heading, but my usual reflex when I was asked things like this was to lie, lie and lie some more. Still, I did owe Fargoth and Arrille. "Actually, Sellus Gravius gave me ninety drakes-" I clamped my mouth shut, horrified at myself. Telling them I had money, all right, but why tell them where I'd got it from? Now there'd be questions-

"Oh. You're one of those." Arrille's eyes narrowed, and Fargoth stared at me.

"Those?"

"It started, oh, one or two months ago. Every few weeks, the Imperials release a prisoner from the mainland here. Far as we can tell, they're usually in for minor, or at least not violent, crimes - theft, that sort of thing." I blushed - that example had not been chosen randomly, I knew. "They get given a bit of money, then sent up to Balmora." I flinched. Arrille nodded, looking satisfied. "You too, I take it?"

I nodded, deep in thought.

To be entirely truthful, my first reaction was relief. Now, most people's first reaction to being told they are embroiled in what sounded like some sort of byzantine Imperial scheme where poor innocent... mostly innocent... not that guilty people are moved around like, like one of those stones for the board games people play in the High Rock markets which I never had the patience to sit down and learn - well, anyway, their reaction would not be relief, not if they had any sense. And although the sense thing can be argued on my part, mine usually would not be either.

No, the reason I was relieved was that if I was one of a group, it was highly unlikely the Emperor was, in fact, personally interested in me.

After all, even if the Emperor himself was at the heart of said byzantine Imperial scheme he surely put unimportant work like selecting suitable pawns in the hands of subordinates. Right?

Right?

The Nine save me, I was doomed.

"So," Fargoth said. He'd hopped off the crate to stand next to Arrille. I inched back a bit upon seeing the united front. "I take it you don't care to tell us what's going on?"

All right. That was just too much.

I exploded. "Going on? What in the name of Ysgramor and his Five Hundred makes you think I have any idea what's going on? I woke up this morning on a ship hundreds of miles away from where I went to sleep with no idea how I'd got there or why, nobody's told me anything except 'go here, do that, fill out these forms.' I'm tired, I'm hungry, I'm confused, I have no idea what I'm doing here, I've never even set foot on Morrowind before and you ask me what's going on? You, you inbred excuses for cowardly dogs who'd give Alduin indigestion-"

"All right, all right, all right!" Fargoth interrupted me before I could properly get going. "We understand. You don't know what's going on. Er, please calm down. I don't think you're supposed to be able to turn that colour."

...skin bubbling its hue changing it has already begun-

"Or that one, for that matter. Sit down, you've gone all... light grey."

I sat on the proffered crate and tried thinking of... plants. Beautiful, beautiful plants. Flowers. Ferns. Black trees in a volcanic wasteland while- no. "Thank you. Um. What were we talking about?"

There was a moment's collective silence.

"...well," Arrille said, "the issue is that we need to make sure you're not seen buying things with more money than you're meant to have. That sort of thing could lead to inconvenient questions, if you get my meaning. I'll sell you what I can, but best for you to get to Balmora and do your shopping there."

I was beginning to wish I could kidnap Arrille and take him with me. He thought of these things called 'consequences'. I'd always had a little trouble with those.

*****

edited: ha ha, autocensor, very funny.

Next
SubRosa
Lots of fun, and a clever plot by Arille and Fargoth to get rid of the bully. I am also one of those few people who do not hate Fargoth, so I enjoyed seeing him portrayed as something other than a complete loser.

I also liked the revelation that Adryn is not the first person in her situation. It makes me wonder if the others were possible Nerevarines, or perhaps Blades undercover.
mALX
This gets better with each chapter! Your character developement is outstanding, and you are really personalizing the storyline and making it your own! I am really liking this a lot! (and I haven't played Morrowind yet!) Awesome Write!!!
treydog
First- Adryn and Maxical- together? blink.gif ohmy.gif ph34r.gif panic.gif There would not be a building left standing in all of Tamriel.

Second- thank you for updating when I was at home as opposed to work. Mrs. treydog is used to my fits of uncontrollable laughter. She just rolls her eyes and goes about her business.

QUOTE
I mean, I like wearing clothes. Clothes are my close, personal friends. And noon? Not a good time. Besides, you know, if you're going to go the graffiti route it's best to go all the way - none of that 'unspeakable acts' business.


QUOTE
where poor innocent... mostly innocent... not that guilty people are moved around like, like one of those stones for the board games people play in the High Rock markets which I never had the patience to sit down and learn


Those two passages highlight one of the things I love about this- Adryn's stream-of-consciousness (or unconsciousness?) approach to things.

[Diffidently]- If editing is giving you trouble, I have had some small success helping people (like minque and a couple of others). And the fact that it would give me a sneak preview of the next installment is purely coincidental.
haute ecole rider
You had me at
QUOTE
I let my sack fall to the ground with a sigh. Arrille, then Fargoth entered the room as I shook out my arms, which were informing me that they had got used to lazy lounging about in prison and did not hold with this sort of strenuous activity. Painfully. Fargoth closed the door behind him carefully, then hopped up to sit on a large crate. I covered my nose when I saw the dust billow up, but he didn't seem to mind.
Then it only got better.

I see treydog has already caught two of my favorite lines. So without further ado:

QUOTE
"Now although I usually don't look well on such activities, I could make an exception for a clearly good-hearted young lass who's been helping my good friend Fargoth, and one who's been a nuisance to the Imperials up at the Census office instead of any of us townsfolk."
Considering the asinine way the game apparently sets up the Imperial presence in Seyda Neen, this is a hysterical poke in the rear at the game start.

QUOTE
I was beginning to think I could run through the town stark naked at noon and paint 'URIEL SEPTIM IS THE ILLEGITIMATE SON OF A MONKEY AND A SLOAD WHO COMMITS UNSPEAKABLE ACTS WITH SHEEP' on the walls and none of the citizens would report me.
Not in IC! This cracked me up.

The rest of the chapter is just rollicking pure fun. I really enjoyed it!
Acadian
Yes, still bubbly delightful. tongue.gif
hazmick
Hilarious, my laptop is now covered in tea. laugh.gif
Olen
Well all my favourite lines have been quoted so I shall just say 'what they said' (especially the graphitti and the comment that if you're going to you might as well do it properly). Certainly this piece is very fun.

And plants appeared again, I can see this becomming a recurrent event. God help any stronghold she has built.

Remko
I love your interpretation. Can't wait for her rendez-vous with Caius. I suspect Ad.Ryn will have some snidy remarks about him too.
treydog
It has come to this- I am reduced to rhyme. The only way to stop it is to write more. (Please?)

There’s a lass we're missin’
Who calls herself Ad-ryn
(She has a name!)

She has a temper they say, aye it is true
But stranded in Seyda Neen, so would you
(Syllables two!)

She stole from the Legion, to give to herself
A clever klepto is our dark elf
(Something for me?)

Hrisskar will be sorry he bullied her so
He might find his flat foot missing a toe!
(Maybe a plant?)
Kazaera
Remember me?

...thought not. kvleft.gif kvright.gif I am really sorry for disappearing without warning, but honestly, this is how things tend to go with me (@#$*% interest patterns, I swear). I was hoping I'd get back to Adryn's story sooner than a year later, and that I'd get the chance to post more of it before I disappeared, but... well.

However! I've been writing more of it again and I have finally finished that rewrite of Chapter 1, which means that I can actually post more of what I've already got written now. There are still bits I'm not too happy with but I figure I can always go back and fix them later. So at least for the next few weeks, barring exceptional circumstances or sudden massive rewrites (which are unlikely, because there are no bits as old and stylistically out of place in any of the other chapters as in chapter 1), Adryn will grace Chorrol's forums again! After that? We'll see.

Previous

*****

Sleeper in the Cave, Chapter 1 Part n

Downstairs, both Elone and Flat-Foot were gone. Instead, there was a dark elven girl, maybe eight years old, sitting on Arrille's counter. I looked at her curiously. She was the first other dark elf I'd seen since disembarking, which was rather surprising given that this was meant to be their, our, homeland. She was wearing rough clothing so covered in patches of various colours I could hardly tell what its original shade had been and holding a short wooden sword firmly in one hand. Red eyes peered back at me behind messy black hair that had apparently escaped from a rather bedraggled ponytail.

"Are you going to do something evil?" she asked me solemnly.

My mouth opened and shut wordlessly. Maybe it was because it had been a long and confusing day, maybe because I wasn't often accused of being evil by people half my height, but I found myself speechless.

Luckily, Arrille came to the rescue. "Good day, Llavani. I assure you Adryn is not evil. Does Indrele know you're here?"

"Mother is busy. And Miss Elone said she'd give me two whole copper pieces if I stayed and protected your things from evildoers, Uncle Arrille!" Llavani swung her sword, I presumed at an imaginary foe. Arrille ducked. "I dunno what evildoers look like, though, so to be safe I've just been asking everyone. Did I do good?"

Arrille reached over and ruffled her hair. "You did wonderfully, scrib. Why don't you run over to Elone now and tell her your guard duties are no longer needed, and that I'd like to talk to her when she has time."

"And," I threw in, "tell her I happen to know that in Imperial City little girls get three drakes for guard duty."

She grinned at me. "You're all right, muthsera." Then she vanished out the door.

"Who was that?" I asked.

"Llavani Rathryon. She's the daughter of one of the commoners around here. Very conscientious lass, but... I'll have to ask Elone just what she was thinking." Arrille shook his head. "Anyway. I think you had some items you wanted to buy?"

"Which is my cue to disappear, I think," Fargoth threw in. "I still have some work to do at home, after all. Arrille, I'll see you tonight. It was nice to meet you, Adryn, and thank you for all your... help. I'm sure you'll do excellently here." He winked at me.

I bade Fargoth farewell and looked around the shop. Honestly, I had to wonder whether there was actually anything there I'd be interested in. I saw a lot of weapons - and not even daggers or anything sensible or easy to use like that, but giant warhammers and blades almost as long as I was tall. I saw heavy metal torture devices, I mean armour, polished so brightly they were almost painful to look at. (As if the possibility of blindness would give me incentive to strap myself into a heat-absorbing death trap heavier than I am.) The only thing that looked remotely useful was a stack of rough woolen clothing in the corner - it looked as if some of it ought to fit reasonably well, and I wasn't in much of a position to be very snobby about clothing. (An understatement. I'd definitely ended up with the 'sack with more holes' of Jiub's explanation of prison garment options.) But apart from that...

Wait. Was that up in the corner of that shelf...

"That's Eldafire's old mortar and pestle," Arrille said, following my line of sight. "Sold it to me a few months back, said her eyesight was getting too bad to keep making potions but it was an excellent set which had served her well all the time she had it. Do you want me to-" he noticed my hungry gaze and amended himself, "I'll just get that down for you, shall I."

Honestly, and despite Arrille now trying to talk it up as the finest mortar and pestle which had ever graced Tamriel, it didn't look like much. Too small to make larger or more complicated potions, battered, with some of the surface already worn smooth from repeated use - a far cry from the equipment you see master alchemists or even journeymen use. So it may be difficult to understand exactly why my fingers twitched at the sight of it.

At least, difficult to understand unless you have ever had the experience of trying to grind wolfsbane petals for an invisibility potion using two smooth rocks because you have nothing else to hand. In the middle of a rainstorm. While the guards the invisibility potion is meant to help you escape from are coming steadily closer. On the other hand, if you have had this experience I believe you will agree (albeit possibly from prison) when I say you never quite view alchemical equipment the same way again.

"So I'd sell it to you for eighty drakes,"Arrille said, finishing up his spiel.

Of course, none of that is reason to act like a fool. Which spending eighty drakes (almost all of the money I was supposed to have at my disposal!) on that would certainly be.

"Eighty? Eighty? You must be joking. You say it's served her well for years - I can certainly see the years part of it! Honestly," I sniffed, "I'm doing you a favour, offering to take this off your hands when you were probably planning to toss it out with the rubbish at the next opportunity since no respectable alchemist would go near it. Half a septim and no more."

"You exaggerate mercilessly - it might be old, but it's still perfectly functionable. How about... one septim, and I'll teach you a Firebite spell as well." That was actually quite a tempting offer. I didn't know one myself, but I knew fire spells could be very useful in a pinch - lighting fires even without flint and tinder, as an emergency replacement for properly cooking, and even for defense. Although to be entirely truthful, I wasn't planning to use it for the last; the first item in my arsenal when it comes to combat is neither spell nor weapon but my legs. Running away at the first sight of trouble has served me well for quite a while now and I wasn't planning on changing that (I personally blame this attitude on an excess of sanity, although some people would dispute that.)

"Ninety septims for both, and you add in a shirt and a pair of trousers from that stack there," was my counter-offer.

"Done and done." Arrille smiled, satisfied, as I handed over every last drake that Gravius had given me. Usually I'd be a bit more careful about my money, but the weight of three hundred fifty more hidden inside my shirt reassured me that I still had enough to be reasonably secure. "Now, the way you construct a Firebite spell is like this..."

It was quite a bit easier to pick up than I was expecting, even though I had relatively little experience with Destruction magic. Arrille shrugged and muttered "Dunmer" when I managed to successfully light a candle on his table on the second try.

I'd just managed to pick a shirt and trousers that looked to fit at least no worse than what I was already wearing (and silently vowed that at the next opportunity, I'd squander some of my hard-earned money on a tailor) when the door creaked open.

"Elone!" Arrille barked. I looked at him in surprise; this was the angriest I'd heard him so far. "Since when does 'I'll keep an eye on things' mean you wander off and leave a little girl to look after things? Llavani's not a lass that goes running off, no, but she's no guard."

Elone raised an eyebrow. "Calm down, will you? I'm sorry for leaving the store unattended - I wouldn't have, but something urgent came up which I had to look into right away. I figured Llavani would look after things for you."

"Look after? The girl is eight."

"Eight and probably more careful about who she lets in than I'd be." I remembered being asked whether I was evil and had to choke back a giggle. Elone continued, "It's not as if you get a lot of thieves here, and if something happened Llavani'd raise enough of a fuss that you'd hear it even from upstairs. And nothing happened, did it?"

Arrille seemed to be calming down despite himself. "Still, Elone, whatever your 'urgent business' was, and no doubt you'll be telling me it's yet another secret of yours..."

"No secret this." Elone's voice was grim. "Processus has gone missing. No one's seen him since yesterday evening and I couldn't find him anywhere in town. Some people are searching the surrounding area, I'll join them in a bit. But first..." her gaze fell on me. I crossed my arms in instinctive defensive reaction. (It was a 'what am I going to do with you?' look. I don't like those looks; as previously mentioned I am not a game piece and the only one who ought to be doing anything with me is me, thank you very much.)

"Processus gone missing? Don't tell me..." Arrille trailed off, brow furrowed in thought, then noticed where Elone was looking. "Oh, I just finished selling Adryn here some items."

"Not, I note, any weapons or armour," Elone said drily. I stared at her in confusion; I thought the general idea was to make me more, not less, likely to survive.

Arrille shrugged. "Lass didn't seem to want any. Doesn't seem to be a warrior type if you look at her, now does she?" They looked at me. I glared back. "I did talk her into a Firebite spell, though, and was about to have a word with her regarding weaponry."

"Of course you will. After lunch."

"What?" Arrille asked.

An arm snaked its way around my shoulders. I tried to jerk away, but it was holding me too tightly. "Lunch. Arrille, you should be ashamed of yourself. While you've been making the girl pay for your cast-offs and telling her all sorts of nonsense, she's faint with hunger." Elone's voice was coming from right next to my ear. I moved my head as far to the other side as I could.

"My name. Is not. Girl," I muttered between clenched teeth.

"I'll take her outside for some fresh air, get some food into her and try to tell her how things really are."

"And you can stop ignoring me anytime, yes. Oh, and let me go. That too."

Elone ignored me. "I've got food at my place. Come on, let's go."

Now, lest anyone get the wrong impression I should note that ordinarily I defend my personal space with all the force and dedication of a rabid war dog. (Some people would tell you that there are other similarities. This is, of course, a barefaced lie.) Anyone trying to so much as tap my shoulder generally ends up with their fist in my face or, failing that, my teeth in their hand. Someone actually putting their arm around me without me doing my best to remove the offending appendage... remove it from their body, that was... was next to unheard of. However, in this case there was an overriding impulse, one of the few things that would make me put up with such manhandling with only grumbling.

Free food.

More to the point, free food that was hopefully not gruel or at least not mobile gruel after far, far, far too long being forced to subsist on that... that... substance. At the moment, I was willing to swear my soul to the Emperor for something that could actually be classified as food without being academically dishonest. Tolerating someone being overly familiar, as long as their hands didn't venture any further down than my shoulders, went only slightly more against my basic nature.

As a result, I only put up a token struggle as I was dragged out of the tradehouse.

*****

Next
treydog
Remember? Did you say “remember”? I am thrilled to see you back and writing! First Olen, then Destri- and now you. If one or two more (pointedly NOT looking in Sierra and minque’s direction) post soon, I will be a catatonically happy doggie. Waves wildly- LOOK EVERYONE- IT'S ADRYN! (Whispered- DO NOT call her "girl," "kid," "sweetie," or etc.)

Too many snortle-inducing parts to quote all of them- so here are some of my favorites:

QUOTE
"Are you going to do something evil?" she asked me solemnly.


QUOTE
"I dunno what evildoers look like, though, so to be safe I've just been asking everyone.


QUOTE
(As if the possibility of blindness would give me incentive to strap myself into a heat-absorbing death trap heavier than I am.)

The alchemy explanation was perhaps the best- and certainly the funniest- I have ever read.

QUOTE
"My name. Is not. Girl," I muttered between clenched teeth.


And of course the whole- "Touch me and die" part- which is just icing on the Ardryn cake....
haute ecole rider
ninja'd by treydoggie again!

Course I remember you! And I'm glad to see you back! Now where's Remko??

Anyways, loved seeing Adryn pick up where she left off.

Little Llavani is adorable! Treydog already picked out the two little things I loved about her, so let me add this one:
QUOTE
Llavani swung her sword, I presumed at an imaginary foe. Arrille ducked.
laugh.gif
And this one:
QUOTE
"And," I threw in, "tell her I happen to know that in Imperial City little girls get three septims for guard duty."

She grinned at me. "You're all right, sera."
Two of a kind! cool.gif cool.gif

QUOTE
Arrille shrugged and muttered "Dunmer" when I managed to successfully light a candle on his table on the second try.
Heh heh. Yup, I remember my Dunmer character very well. She was my jill-of-all-trades, that one. A bit of a firebrand, too. wink.gif

And that whole last bit about physical intimacy had me rolling!
Grits
Oh my gosh, hilarious. I love Adryn’s tone. I would like to read some more, please. smile.gif
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