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Grits
Hi folks. This is my first attempt at fiction, and I welcome any criticism from the smallest nit to the most sweeping remarks on writing in general.

My version of Tamriel is a little bigger than the game’s, but I’m trying to fill in some of the blanks rather than re-imagine the place. I have taken liberties with the order of some events, but the main quest will stand. Mostly.

I feel especially weak in the lore and action sequence departments. If you should suggest a resource, I will certainly seek it out in the hope that my next effort will be less cringe-worthy!

So welcome to Jerric’s story, and thank you for joining us.

(Edit: Darnand started as Arnand, so comments may reference his old name.)

July 24, 2014: Hi again. Having learned much in the last couple of years I’m revisiting early chapters and giving them a very light edit. Regrettably there may be some inconsistencies in style as I work my way through. Sorry about that, and thank you very much for reading! smile.gif


IPB Image

Jerric



The whole story is contained in this thread, but here are some links to the beginning of each chapter within this thread.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Working Vacation
Chapter 2 On the Gold Road
Chapter 3 Welcome to the Imperial City
Chapter 4 All’s Well in Aleswell
Chapter 5 Unloading the Amulet
Chapter 6 Going Home
Chapter 7 Kvatch
Chapter 8 Running
Chapter 9 Anvil
Chapter 10 Septims
Chapter 11 Holidays
Chapter 12 Return to Kvatch
Interlude:Abiene’s Letters
Chapter 13 Skingrad
Chapter 14 The Imperial City
Chapter 15 Chorrol
Interlude: Abiene
Chapter 16 Valley of Hopes
Chapter 17 Bruma


The Darnandex

Appendix One: The People of Jerric’s World
Appendix Two: Jerric’s World Terms
Appendix Three: Map of Game Quests Within Jerric’s Story
Appendix Four: Geography
Appendix Five: Timeline







Chapter 1: Working Vacation




Darnand Penoit had hoped to spend the afternoon studying with the delicious Abiene, but instead he was in the hills above Anvil searching for goldenrod plants with this hulking nitwit. They were working their way through the meadow side by side so as not to miss any. Darnand straightened to ease the kink in his back. He shot a glance at his partner.

Jerric stood thigh deep in the golden grass, eyes closed and face raised to the sun. He had pulled off his shirt and tucked it into the back of his breeches where it hung down like a ridiculous tail. His head looked like a shock of wheat.

Idiot, Darnand thought. Every night he has to heal his own sunburn. Jerric held a wicked looking blade in one hand and a white seed pod in the other.

“I feel just like a loaf of bread,” Jerric said to the sky.

“Felen is waiting for these pods,” Darnand snapped. What is this lump doing in the Mages Guild, anyway? he wondered. He did not grow those arms by turning pages.

Jerric laughed. “No he’s not. He’ll have his nose in a book by now and he won’t look up until long after dark.” The Nord tucked the pod into his bag and looked down for another goldenrod plant.

“You missed one,” Darnand said. He pointed to the plant at Jerric’s feet. “If you are not going to work, why did you bother to walk this far?”

“Because this is my assignment.” Jerric nudged the plant with his boot. “I never take all of the seed pods from any plant. Where do you think the plants come from? If you take all of the pods, no more goldenrod.”

Darnand could identify most of the alchemical plants in Cyrodiil from his books, but he had given little thought to how they grow.

Jerric stepped forward and stooped, cutting pods from another plant.

“What kind of mage would bring a dagger,” said Darnand. He snapped a pod from its dry stem to make his point.

“It’s a knife.” Jerric tossed it into the air and caught the blade between his thumb and finger. “My hand just likes to hold it. Try it,” he offered, extending the hilt toward Darnand.

“A real mage is his own weapon,” Darnand sniffed.

The two worked in silence for some time. Darnand was beginning to feel unpleasantly warm under his robe, and Jerric was positively streaming. The man’s sweat smelled unpleasantly familiar.

Sharing the Mages Guild common quarters with Jerric was a trial. He was noisy, his gigantic boots were always in the way, and he treated every day like Jester’s Day. Just last night while Darnand lay in bed reading Jerric had jumped under the blanket with him. He had let loose some wind then held Darnand’s head beneath the covers. The visiting mages had laughed like a pack of teenagers. One of them had wet herself.

Worst of all, Abiene seemed to like him.

“Feh, you smell like an animal,” Darnand muttered.

Jerric straightened and turned toward Darnand, a grin on his lips. Then he froze, eyes widening. “Boar,” he said.

“Oh really,” Darnand snapped, “Well I think you are the bore, Nord!”

Darnand faced his opponent, ready to deliver his come-uppance. Jerric whipped a ball of frost at him, faster than Darnand could think. It landed behind him with a hollow boom and an enraged squeal.

Comprehension dawned. Boar! Darnand sprinted toward Jerric, readying his fire spell. He whirled some distance behind the Nord in time to see the boar charge.

Jerric switched the knife to his right hand and hit the boar with frost from his left. When he lunged to the side the boar almost missed him with its yellow tusks. Jerric tackled the boar just as Darnand let go with his fire.

The Nord, the boar, and the ball of fire disappeared into the tall grass. Dust, squeals, and a death scream rose from the thrashing mayhem. A moment later all was still.

Darnand stood in horror at what he had done. By the Nine, I have killed him! I shall certainly be expelled from the Guild.

Jerric popped up from the grass, streaked with blood and crowing in triumph. He wiped his blade on his breeches.

Darnand searched him for signs of immolation. He appeared whole, apart from a steady stream pumping out of a wound in his thigh. “Erm ...” Darnand said, pointing.

Jerric held his skin together through the tear in his breeches and sent healing light swirling down his body. He looked at Darnand, grinning. “Did you hit me with a flare, soldier?”

“Please do not tell Carahil,” Darnand blurted. He took a deep breath to steady his nerves. “Why did the spell not burn you?”

“I can thank the stars for that.”

Atronach, thought Darnand. That explains a lot.

“New plan, Breton! Grab my bag, will you? I don’t want to get blood on Felen’s flowers.” Jerric lifted the boar carcass to his shoulders with a grunt, hardly staggering. “Good thing this was a small one.”

Jerric started down the hill toward Anvil. Against his better judgment, Darnand picked up the bag and followed.
___



“But how did you know she would have seed pods to sell us?” Darnand asked. His companion had sold the boar to a butcher, then bought enough white seed pods from a woman on the street to finish filling both their bags. Jerric had taken the first offer from both merchants, like some rube. Now they were entrenched at The Flowing Bowl with just enough coin to get them into trouble.

“She sells anything she can get for free,” Jerric said. “This time of year she has to have white seed pods, and cheap.”

“But she is a beggar. She does not have anything.”

“She has what she needs,” Jerric pointed out. “Don’t you think that if she was really planning to buy shoes, she would have them by now?”

“How do you know these things?” Darnand demanded. “You do not even reside in Anvil.”

“How do you not know them? Don’t you ever talk to people?”

Darnand took sip of beer and winced at the bitter taste. He was not sure how he ended up on the waterfront in the middle of the afternoon drinking with the person he liked least in all of the Mages Guild. The person he had almost incinerated only a few hours ago. He was beginning to worry about payback for that incident.

“Are you sure you are not angry about the ...” Darnand could not bring himself to say it.

“No harm done,” said Jerric. “I’m just glad you didn’t set the grass on fire. Besides, you would have healed me, right? Abiene said you’ve nearly reached Journeyman in Restoration.”

Darnand inhaled some spit. “Abiene talks about me?” he choked.

“Yeah,” Jerric replied with a twist of his lips. “She says, ‘Oh that Darnand, how does he get his hair that way, it looks sooooo pretty.’”

Darnand gritted his teeth and stared into his beer.

Jerric thumped his arm.

“Easy with the ham fist, I am not a snow bear,” Darnand complained.

“I’m a Nord, Darnand. Get over it. Anyway I’m not even that big. You should see my Pa, he has a neck like a minotaur.”

Darnand looked at Jerric for a long moment. “Did you have a point?”

“Look over there.” Jerric gestured at a slim, dark, Imperial woman. “What do you think of her?”

“She has a face like a weasel. I think you have a good chance with her.”

“No, for you! She’s been looking over here a lot.”

Darnand was amazed. “Are you procuring women for me, now?”

Jerric shrugged. “You seem tense.”

The door opened and closed with inn traffic.

“Drink up,” Jerric said. “The sun’s going down. We have to hurry and get loaded so we can sober up before dinner.”
___


Darnand carefully ran his knife up the center of the aloe vera leaf. He opened the skin to expose its juicy pulp then slid his knife down the inside at an angle, folding the skin back as he went. After he repeated the cut on the other side, he viewed the flattened leaf with satisfaction.

A groan and thump broke his concentration. Darnand glanced across the room where Jerric sat at another work table. Bloody scraps of cloth and empty potion bottles littered the surface. The Nord’s forehead was on the table. His fingers clenched in his hair.

Darnand wiped his knife, put it down on its cloth, and picked up the wooden spatula. He slowly ran the spatula’s blade down the butterflied leaf, collecting the pulp without picking up any of the fibers that clung to the inside of the skin. He plopped his harvest into a clay storage jar, then carefully repeated the process.

“Darnand,” Jerric said.

Darnand scraped another spatula load of pulp from the leaf. He placed it in the jar.

“Darnand,” Jerric said again.

Darnand wiped the spatula and placed it on its cloth. He folded the empty leaf skin and set it aside. “I am busy.”

“It’s important.”

Darnand picked up another leaf and placed it in the ready position in front of him. He picked up the knife. “So is this.”

The knife slid down the plump leaf in a perfect line. Darnand braced himself for Jerric’s reply. Something about him squeezing his own juice, Darnand guessed.

Jerric picked up his chair and carried over to Darnand’s table. He put it down and took a seat across from Darnand. “I’m running out of time,” he said.

“I need to finish this,” replied Darnand without looking over. He makes more noise than a Billy on a wooden bridge. He scraped the leaf.

“I’ll do it for you later,” said Jerric. “I need your help.”

“You will pull up too many fibers. ‘Quick and dirty’ is not an alchemist’s motto.” He wiped his spatula and placed it on its cloth.

“Darnand,” Jerric said.

A note in his voice made Darnand look at him. Jerric’s raised face wore a solemn expression. Candlelight made his eyes look like honey. No doubt he uses that technique to lure women.

“No more tricks,” said Jerric. “I’m running out of time. I really need help.”

Darnand folded the leaf skin and placed it aside. He hooked a chair leg with his foot and sat down.

“Your healing spell?” he surmised.

“I’m just not getting it. I have the magicka but I can’t get it all into the spell. I know how it’s supposed to work. I just can’t do it.”

Darnand considered. “When you healed where the boar slashed you, you sent your spell over your whole body. Did you mean to do that?”

Jerric looked blank.

Darnand tried to explain it another way. “Do you focus your spell on a specific injury, or do you just cast the spell?”

“I just cast the spell, and then I feel better.”

“You are wasting your magicka,” Darnand said. “You will never get your spell stronger until you learn to focus. You know how to heal a wound on another person, do you not?”

“Yeah, but I’m not very good at it.”

“Think about how it feels when you cast that spell. The pain you feel from the other person that tells you where to send your magicka. It is the same thing.”

Jerric looked blank again, and miserable. His fingers twisted on the edge of the table.

Darnand was surprised. His patience with Jerric was growing, not racing away as it usually did. “Do you feel the pain from the other person, or do you just cast your spell over them?” he asked.

“I feel it, but I don’t know how to use it,” said Jerric. “Please don’t give up on me. I know I can learn this.”

Darnand decided to change his plans for the evening. “I shall render my assistance. First, show me how you heal yourself.”

Jerric picked up Darnand’s knife.

“Gaaaah!” cried Darnand, throwing out his hands. He snatched his knife back, wiped it, and placed it precisely on its cloth. “Over there,” he said, pointing at Jerric’s table. “And go get a hammer so you will bleed less. You were making a mess.”
___


Darnand entered the common living quarters and halted in surprise. A man stood at the end of the room in a steel breastplate and mail with a long sword on one hip and a short blade on the other. He was lifting a steel shield out of the open cabinet. A full pack rested at his feet. Jerric.

Darnand approached. He felt oddly distressed. “What is this?”

“My uniform,” Jerric replied with a smile. “Did you think I was a professional student? I’m a caravan guard. See?” He pointed at his chest where a shape was embossed onto the metal. “Running Wolf Postal and Freight. That’s my family’s business.” Jerric pulled on his gauntlets. “My break is over. I have to get back to work.”

“An armored guard. But what kind of a...” Darnand began. He looked at Jerric, and for the first time his own expression matched the Nord’s.

“Battlemage,” they finished with a grin.







.
treydog
Will add to my post later, but I wanted to go ahead and answer your questions. For Swords n' Sorcery action scenes, look no further than D.Foxy's excellent treatment:

Of Blades, Fights and Assassins

As to lore, The Imperial Library is a useful source- I would NOT recommend asking questions though; they tend to be a rather acerbic bunch. Beyond that, we are not terribly "lore-centric" here- as long as you don't absolutely break the ES world (Uriel Septim riding a Tyranosaur, etc.)

And as far as action in general, we tend to prefer character driven stories, many of which can go for some time with nary a battle in sight. Write what you find comfortable and PM writers whose style you like for advice or assistance. Above all, welcome and have fun!
mALX

GAAAH !!!! This is AWESOME !!!! I loved seeing Jerric through Arnand's (disapproving) eyes - both of their personalities came through strongly - interesting storyline - and surprising end to the chapter! I love it !!!

AWESOME WRITE !!! I am so glad to welcome you to the forums and look forward to: MORE, MORE !!!

SubRosa
The Imperial Library is probably your best one-stop shopping for ES lore. I find the Timeline can be a great help, as well as the Pocket Guides. It also has all of the in-game books. The UESP Wiki is also a great help. Between the two sites, they have everything there is to know about ES.

"Don't you think that if she was really planning to buy shoes, she would have them by now?"
An excellent observation!

I loved the description of harvesting the aloe. For that matter of the entire peek behind the scenes at the Anvil Mages Guild.

Jerric seems like an interesting fellow. At first glace he seems to be an ignorant Nord. But as you peel back the layers, we see bits and pieces of a very perceptive individual. Why do I get the feeling the country bumpkin act is just that, and act to fool other people, and that he has actually been working undercover in the Mages Guild?


nits:
"Pleasedon'ttellCarahil,"
Looks like the Altmer guild leader ate your spaces.
Jacki Dice
Hi! I loved reading this, especially the parts with the shirtless Nord (Mmmmm....) wink.gif

You did a really great job showing and not telling. The information we were given about both characters came very naturally smile.gif
Destri Melarg
Don’t sell yourself short, Grits (great name, btw). I found nothing ‘cringe-worthy’ about this chapter. In fact, I would classify the one action sequence you had with the boar as 'riveting'. I highly recommend that you read Foxy’s manifesto, if for no other reason than to give yourself confidence when it comes to the swordplay.

This story took me in some interesting directions. At first I thought it sounded reminiscent of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, with Jerric playing the part of Lennie to Arnand’s George. But then Lennie Jerric opened his mouth and revealed a character loaded with uncommon wisdom. The introduction of Faustina at the Flowing Bowl gives us a tantalizing hint of events to come for Arnand.

Aside from that, SubRosa has given you the two lore sources that I generally employ. I wouldn’t be too worried about it, though. The lore is there to serve your story, not the other way around. If this first chapter is an indication, you already use it to great effect. The description of harvesting aloe pulp was great, as was the admonition not to take all the white seed pods from a goldenrod plant.

I’m hooked into Jerric’s story now. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one. goodjob.gif
Acadian
Welcome to the Arena, Grits! If you had any concerns about talent, you may place those aside. This was excellent!

We seem to have an abundance of leading ladies in our stories, so it is refreshing that your lead character is not a gurl. tongue.gif

As mentioned already, you did a beautiful job of showing us Jerric - a big blond Nord born under the Atronach. A struggling mage with a 'real job'.

I quite enjoyed that you presented Jerric through the eyes of Arnand.

The detail you lavished on both alchemy and healing was wonderful! You also provided an immersive overall feel for the setting of Anvil.

Well done, and a wonderful start! biggrin.gif


Since you asked for nits, I believe this might be one?
'Jerric picked up his chair and carried over to Arnand's table. He put it down and took a seat across from Arnand. "I'm running out of time," he said.'
I believe you may have meant to say 'carried it over'?
Zalphon
Much better than me when I started. Definitely well-done.
Grits
treydog: Thank you for the resources. I just read Of Blades, Fights and Assassins, and now I can't wait to write a sword fight and then go back and read it again to see how much I remembered. Research is fun. Thank you for the warm welcome.

I tend to prefer character driven stories too. It helps me to have the game's events to move things along.

mALX: I LOVE your enthusiasm!! biggrin.gif Thank you so much for your welcome and support! Arnand was a total surprise, he came out of nowhere when I was writing about something else. I'm glad the end was a surprise. It's hard to name a chapter without giving too much away.

SubRosa: Thank you for the resources. I am reading more than I am writing, which I think is good at this point. Thank you for sharing your impressions - it helps me so much to know whether or not I managed to get what was in my head all the way into the story.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Mages Guild attending to business. In the game I'm always asking myself what these people do all day while they're waiting for me to show up and ask them if they've heard any rumors. I don't think they're just standing around talking about seeing a mudcrab.

With the "Pleasedon'ttellCarahil" I was going for that breathless moment after something has occured and everything on a person is still too clenched for speech, but now I think it's gimmicky. Changed it! smile.gif

Jacki Dice: I'm glad I didn't start him off in Bruma in the winter time, that would have put the brakes on the sweaty shirtlessness. wink.gif Thank you for your comments! My first attempt at this chapter read like an employment application. I'm happy to hear I did some showing.

Destri Melarg: Glad you like the name smile.gif Thank you so much for your comments and your encouragement, it means a lot to me! I am on my second read through Foxy's manifesto, and I am getting even more out of it the second time. There was one forehead-smacking moment in the next chapter that I managed to avoid already.

Thank you for sharing your impression of Jerric. That's just what I was aiming for, although I hadn't quite thought of Lennie and George. The big blond is easy to mis-judge, even in Cyrodiil. The plant details you picked out were so fun to write.

"The lore is there to serve your story, not the other way around." I have written this across the top of my much referenced map of Cyrodiil to help keep me from getting too bogged down worrying about what is correct. Great advice, thank you!

I'm glad you're hooked! smile.gif

Acadian: Thank you for the warm welcome, your encouragement means a lot to me!

I love the leading ladies on this forum, and I have a leading lady character of my own who is still too precious for me to write much about yet. I'm practicing on poor Jerric. smile.gif

Everything clicked when Arnand showed up and demanded to be in the story. Before that I was wrestling with a chapter that sounded like a singles ad. Yikes.

Thank you for the nit, I fixed it. I am amazed how my eyes can fill in the blanks with what I know is supposed to be there.

Zalphon: Thank you! Here comes another chapter! smile.gif





Chapter 2: On the Gold Road, Part 1



Jerric opened the Anvil Main Gate. It was balanced to swing easily despite its massive weight. “Heinrich Oaken-Hull has a Bosmer for a wife,” one of the guards was saying. The gate swung shut on the other man’s reply. He nodded to the guards who were stationed outside the gate. Two pairs on the gate. He wondered if there had been trouble on the road. Then his mind turned to more pressing matters.

Heinrich Oaken-Hull sounds like a Nord's name, he thought. Jerric imagined the shortest Nord he had ever seen. Then he imagined the tallest Bosmer. How would that even work, he wondered.

His long strides started him toward the Gold Road. Mid-day had passed, but he knew he could easily make the town of Brina’s Crossing by nightfall. Foot traffic congested the area around the gate. Nothing moved on the road where he could see it stretching up into the hills.

An Imperial man stood at the edge of the road opposite the stables, shifting his feet in a restless manner. He wore fine clothing, a travel cloak, and a short sword on his hip. His eyes searched the crowd. When he spotted Jerric his face took on a calculating look.

Jerric slowed as he approached. He was reasonably certain they hadn’t met, but the man appeared to have intentions. He would rather find out what he wanted now than wonder later.

“Pardon me,” the man called out, “are you traveling on foot to the Imperial City?”

Jerric stopped close enough that they wouldn’t share their business with the entire town. “The Imperial City is a long way to walk on your own,” he said. “There’s a caravan leaving on Morndas.”

“I can’t wait that long. I have pressing business, and I need to leave immediately.” His eyes darted back over Jerric’s shoulder to the gate.

Jerric noted the man’s pack sitting on the road. He had a bedroll. “Are you planning to camp out? There are inns along most of the way.”

“Inns, camping, whatever it takes. I want protection. I’ll pay you.” The man’s face was taut with nerves.

Jerric was not surprised to receive such an offer. He knew that armed and armored he looked dangerous, but not the sort who might leave you in a pool of blood for what’s in your pockets. “I’ll walk with you as far as Skingrad, as long as you don’t plan on doing any evil,” he said. “Glad for the company. I’m meeting up with a caravan there and going on to the Imperial City. You should join up. I’ll put in a good word for you.” Jerric smiled at the man, hoping to put him at ease.

“Fine, fine,” said the man, and he named a price.

Jerric agreed. He put out his hand. “I’m Jerric. Pleased to meet you.”

The man gripped his forearm. “Velwyn Benirus. Let’s get moving.”

Velwyn and Jerric climbed the gold hills above Anvil in the warm light of afternoon. Puffy white clouds made towers in the sky. Jerric knew they foretold a coming storm. To their left the sea glittered away into a haze. If they turned they would see Anvil’s red rooftops bright in the sun where the land swelled out of the sea.

Benirus halted in the road. “What was that?” He jerked out his sword and stared at the bushes up ahead to the right, eyes wild.

Jerric stopped and scanned the area. “Careful, that’s no fly swatter.” He did not want to receive an errant slash from the twitchy Imperial. The sun felt hot on his neck. A breeze tickled his sweaty forehead. He could hear the lazy buzz of a hundred insects in the tall grass. No bird sounds, though.

The bushes shook. Jerric crouched and dropped his packs on the road. He slipped his shield over his arm and motioned for Velwyn to stay back. Now, what is this? He thought of the dead horse they had passed. It had been torn by a large animal. Anticipation prickled over his skin. He moved up the left side of the road and turned, putting the sun over his shoulder. He watched the bushes. Berry bushes. Could be some youngsters out gathering berries. Maybe there was a berry pie in his near future.

Velwyn drifted up the middle of the road a few paces. He moved softly for a man who appeared to be rigid with fear. Jerric caught his eye, and Velwyn opened his mouth to speak. He froze with his mouth open as a massive wolf stepped calmly out of the bushes.

Jerric hoped the wolf would move along. Most would not attack two armed men in broad daylight, but things were not always what they seemed. An animal may be under a curse or mage’s spell. If it attacked he would block the fangs with his shield and stab into its side behind its shoulder, he decided. He imagined his timing and thought through the block and strike while he slowly drew his sword.

The wolf ambled out onto the road. Its head and tail were relaxed. It halted and swung its great head around at Jerric, then back at Velwyn, sniffing.

Jerric swore silently. There was smoked boar in his pack, and his pack was behind Benirus. He clanged the pommel of his sword against his shield and shouted at the wolf. “Push off, you fetcher! Go on, get out of here!” He spread his arms out and moved back toward Velwyn, hoping the man would get out of the way. The wolf probably weighed more than the Imperial, and those teeth would go right through his clothing.

The wolf focused on Jerric. It laid back its ears and snarled. This one was not just going to wander away. Jerric danced on the balls of his feet, ready to move. All right, then. “Come on!” he shouted at the wolf.

The wolf dashed toward Jerric. He saw the light gleam on its fangs and turn its gray fur to silver. Flecks of saliva flew from its jaws. Jerric drew in a breath.

A strange battle cry split the air. Velwyn Benirus flew screaming at the wolf, sword raised like an axe. His blade came down on the wolf’s neck between the skull and the shoulder hump. It stuck there. The wolf’s momentum carried it forward until it crashed to the ground at Jerric’s feet.

Jerric stared at Velwyn, astounded. Then he threw back his head and let his tension go in a howl of laughter. “Benirus Beast-Slayer!” he cried, saluting with his still bright blade.

Velwyn drew in a gasping breath. His eyes were as round as an owl’s. “I’m alive,” he whispered.

Jerric waited for Velwyn to retrieve his sword, then he dragged the wolf to the side of the road. He looked down at it with regret. It looked like an enormous dog stretched out in the sun to sleep, apart from the wound in its neck.

The breeze picked up. They still had a long way to climb. “Let’s get off this hill,” Jerric said. “You won’t believe the lightning they get around here.”

___


Jerric stepped into the Brina Cross Inn out of the rain. He was glad he had tucked his armor into its pack before he made his brief sweep through town. He had passed through Brina’s Crossing so many times and always wanted to stop and explore it. Now he wished he had more time, again.

He dropped his packs by the wall and looked for Velwyn. The man sat alone in front of an empty plate, nursing a goblet of wine and looking irritable. Jerric asked the innkeeper what Velwyn was drinking. He purchased a bottle and ordered dinner before he joined Velwyn at the table.

“I got us rooms. You owe me thirty Septims,” said Velwyn.

“Hail, Benirus,” said Jerric, ignoring the brusque greeting. “What a fine evening. Do you think it’s going to rain?” Jerric filled his goblet and topped up Velwyn’s. He raised his wine. “To Brina’s Crossing and the gentle folk who dwell here.” He sipped. Jerric was amazed. All those Bretons aren’t wrong. Wine is delicious!

Velwyn stared into his goblet looking morose. He did not seem to enjoy Jerric’s humor.

Jerric got an idea. “We should eat here, then find a brothel. That will cheer you.”

Velwyn took a sip of wine and glared across the table. “Do I look like a man who has to pay for female company?” he demanded.

“Of course not. You’re not paying to get into her bed, you’re paying to get back out of it.” Jerric leaned forward to share his wisdom with the older man, but a preemptory gesture from the publican caught his eye. His meal was ready.

Jerric moved to the counter and took his plate from Christophe Marane. Roast loin of boar in a blackberry sauce with caramelized onions and roast potatoes. The aroma made his knees weak. He smiled his appreciation at Christophe and turned.

A short, attractive Imperial woman stood before him, blocking his way. She wore a dark red velvet gown, an elaborate gold necklace, and a haughty expression. “I am Rutila Harsinia,” she announced. “Daughter of Ontarius Harsinia.” She had hard eyes and, he guessed, high expectations. He had no idea who she was, but she was clearly waiting for recognition.

Jerric stood there holding his plate. The roast meat lay in thick slices swimming in a pool of purple sauce, full of tender, fragrant promise. The onions gleamed in the inn’s light, and the golden potatoes begged for his attention. He dragged his eyes back to the woman. “I’m Jerric. Pleased to meet you.”

Rutila raised an eyebrow. She made a small motion with her head, over her shoulder. “Who is your friend?”

Jerric experienced a moment of clarity. He strained to keep the grin off his face as he placed his plate back on the counter in order to address Rutila more properly. “That gentleman is no other than Velwyn Benirus, of the Imperial City Benirus…es. I would be proud to call him friend. He conducts his business there, as well as in Anvil. He has recently settled a large family estate.”

Rutila listened with increasing interest. Jerric struck a pose and continued. “A man with such commanding presence draws attention wherever he goes. I travel with him as his guard. Velwyn Benirus is a man of virtue and property. A man of maturity and means. A man,” Jerric sighed, “without a wife.” He looked down at Rutila. “May I introduce you?”

___


Jerric soaked up the last of the egg with his final bite of toasted bread, giving silent thanks to the unknown bird that had provided it. He crunched through another rasher of fatback, then pushed his plate away and sighed, for the moment content. Perhaps another cup of kahve. Christophe was in a foul temper this morning. Better let this breakfast settle before I ask for more.

His thoughts were interrupted when Velwyn slid into the chair across from him. The man looked haggard. He wore yesterday’s clothes.

“Sleep well, Benirus?” Jerric leaned back and grinned.

Velwyn groaned and attempted to smooth his hair with his hands. “Kahve,” he whispered, shooting a glance over his shoulder.

Jerric took the opportunity to fill his own cup as well. He returned to the table and awaited Velwyn’s report.

Velwyn took a deep pull from his mug. He looked up and met Jerric’s gaze. “That woman,” he said, “is insatiable.”

“I don’t know what ‘insatiable’ means. How long did it take you to get her to leave?”

Velwyn dropped his face into his hands.

Jerric brows shot upward. “She’s still in your room?”

Velwyn nodded.

Jerric thought for a moment. The possibilities were entertaining, but the road beckoned.

“Here’s the plan,” Jerric said. “Go order breakfast, then head up and put your pack by the door. I’ll bring up the food and grab your pack while you’re serving her. Tell her you have instructions for me. Then come down here and instruct me that we’re leaving. Don’t let her get back into your drawers if you can manage it.”

Velwyn stared.

Jerric snorted. “‘Serving’ her,” he repeated.

Velwyn did not look amused. “That’s the whole plan?”

“Yeah. I’m not a strategist. Say, you should ask Rutila if she has a better idea.”

Velwyn downed his kahve and headed toward Christophe.

“We’ll have to move like a Kahjiit who’s dipped his tail in the fire,” Jerric added. “She knows which way you’re headed.”


.
Acadian
This was light, varied and full of fun from the beginning to the Khajiit fire-dipped tail ending.

Aww. Everyone picks on Bosmeri girls. tongue.gif

The whole scene with the wolf was very well presented with a great, suspenseful feel.

Loads of great chow and wine! I have quite the soft spot for authors who feed me well, and that savory boar hit the spot. Then a nice breakfast as well!

Quite the clever interactions among those at the inn!

* *

Hmm. . . You change perspective or point of view (pov) a few times here. The breaks you use between segments are ok to employ a change of perspective if you think it is necessary, but I certainly would stay in the viewpoint of only one character during these segments. If you change pov, it should be very clearly delineated, not frequent, and whatever you present by jumping pov should be well worth dragging the reader from one character's head to another.

Now, in your opening scene you are in Velwyn's pov and then make a clean break to Jerric's for the next segment - that worked just fine. However, here are a couple examples where you jumped pov and probably didn't intend to:

1. The scene where Jerric and Velwyn meet is loaded with evidence that it is from Jerric's pov. Yet, near the end you say this: 'The man gripped his forearm. I'm getting off cheap, he thought. "Velwyn Benirus," he said. "Let's get moving." ' Assuming it is Velwyn who thought he was getting off cheap hiring Jerric, you 'hopped' out of Jerric's head and briefly into Velwyn's.

2. In the dinner scene you have a couple pov jumps here:
'Velwyn finished his wine and pushed the goblet at Jerric. The fool's hair is soaked, he noted. Doesn't he know how to use a hood? Fine evening, is that supposed to be funny?' {Velwyn's pov}
'Jerric raised his wine. "To Brina's Crossing, and the gentle folk who dwell here." He sipped. Jerric was amazed. Wine, he thought, is delicious!' {Jerric's pov}

Oh my, Grits. I surely hope you take this in the helpful manner that I intend. Your story is GREAT!!! tongue.gif
mALX
I can't even begin to quote all the lines I loved in this !!! You have a rare gift for creating interesting characters within a few lines - AWESOME Story !!!!!

I was rolling at Jerric's descriptions of Benirus when talking to Rutila - he countered every power with riches, and just kept using different words to say the same thing over and over - hilarious !!!

The description and detail all through the chapter is perfection - the easiest example to point out is Jerric and the food - amazingly done!!! So easy to visualize the way you have written it !!!!

QUOTE

Jerric soaked up the last of the egg with his final bite of toasted bread. He silently thanked the unknown bird that had provided it. He crunched through another rasher of fatback, then pushed his plate away and sighed, replete. He contemplated asking for another cup of kahve. Christophe was in a foul temper this morning. He needed to let his breakfast settle before he approached with another request.



And:

QUOTE

The roast meat lay in thick slices swimming in a pool of purple sauce, full of tender, fragrant promise. The onions gleamed in the inn's light, and the golden potatoes begged for his attention. He dragged his eyes back to the woman. "I'm Jerric," he said. "Pleased to meet you."





The funniest line (always what I enjoy most) -

QUOTE

Jerric imagined the shortest Nord he had ever seen. Then he imagined the tallest Bosmer. How would that even work, he wondered.


SPEW !!!! How many times have we seen tall men with short women and wondered THAT !!!! ROFL !!!!

AWESOME WRITE !!!!! MORE !!!!!


*
Grits
Acadian: Your comments on point of view have helped me tremendously! Those parts seemed choppy to me, but I had no idea why. I went back and tweaked them, thank you so much for explaining what I was doing. Did I get it this time? There is a tussle in the next part of the chapter that would have given everyone a headache, I see now that I wrote it from three points of view. Eeep!

I'm having fun with the light material, and I hope I'm not going too silly. Cyrodiil can be a dark place, and when bad things happen I don't want it to seem like a different story. I'm glad you enjoyed the chow. So far the best times for me to write have been when I should be taking a break for a meal, so I'm always at the keyboard hungry. Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement!

mALX: I'm glad you enjoyed Jerric's chat with Rutila. He is so not a smooth operator!

"Jerric's Story: A Nord's Food Blog." OK, maybe not. smile.gif Thank you for your encouragement, it means so much. The line you picked out came from the second time I heard Anvil folks talking trash about Heinrich's wife in the game. The first time I heard it I thought the guy said she was an Altmer. So horse, OK, she's tall and has a long nose. Whatever. The second time I got that the guy meant Hasathil, and after the first tenth of a second of how rude, my mind went sideways in several directions. I had to use it.


The next part needs some major re-work. But first another cup of kahve.

Acadian
Grits, I'm so glad you took my 'critique' in the helpful manner in which I intended it. Alas, had I not mentioned it, I'm rather sure dear SubRosa would have swooped in and offered similar observations. Indeed, she was very helpful in teaching me more about pov. While in Jerric's pov, you have to rely on what he can hear and observe to ferret out what Velwyn may be thinking - that is the fun! smile.gif

I did reread your edits and the concerns are certainly fixed! Keeping that opening scene in Velwyn's pov is effective, and the _____ break that you use prepares the reader for a change in scene or pov. goodjob.gif

I certainly hope also you take the comments on your chow descriptions as encouragement. Such detailed descriptions do much to bring our Tamriel to life, and you certainly have a beautiful flair for it! tongue.gif

The Bosmer comments by the Anvilites in the game are fun. They quite knocked poor Buffy the Bosmer into a bout of self-doubt when she heard them. Not what a young elf needs to hear. ohmy.gif
mALX
SubRosa and Acadian both helped me stop doing that. Subrosa said it in a very easily rembered way :

Pick one and stick with them - then to show what the other person is feeling, have the first one see it happen. (Example: Benirus's cheeks reddened )

I hope I don't do it anymore, but I was bad for "head hopping" for a long time.

The stories I love best are ones that the reader can feel the characters and be intriqued by them, you have that in abundance in this story - you have a real gift for writing your characters.

Keep up the AWESOME work and MORE, MORE !!!!


PS: Great Avatar !!!


*
SubRosa
So Velwyn Benirus it is then? He seems like a bit of a maniac with the way he attacked the wolf. I wonder if that was homicidal mania, or simply an ordinary man trying to overcome his natural fear by whipping himself up into a frenzy? I suppose only time will tell.

Puffy white clouds made towers in the sky
I love this little description.

You're not paying to get into her bed, you're paying to get back out of it
Now this is priceless! And from the looks of things, Velwyn wishes he had taken the advice the next morning!


nits:
An Imperial man approached him with intention.
This sounds a little odd in the context. Perhaps something like "an intent look upon his face"? would flow more smoothly?


are you traveling on foot to Imperial City?
Usually that is The Imperial City.


Destri Melarg
I liked Jerric’s tactical thinking, especially how he moved so that the sun would be in the wolf’s eyes if he charged, and the way he executed the moves of the battle in his mind.

You might want to add a sentence or a moment just prior to the wolf’s charge in which Jerric notes an impending storm. As it reads now he is sweating and warm with puffy white clouds above, yet a single breeze alerts him to the fact that he wants to get off the hill to avoid the lightning?

Jerric’s playful side emerges in the scene with Rutila. After their harrowing escape from the jaws of the maddened wolf, it is perfectly understandable that Jerric would want to do something to cheer his boon companion. Gotta love a good wingman!
Grits
Acadian: Thank you for checking my edits. I expect the chow line will stay open, thanks for the encouragement!

mALX: Thank you for your kind words, and I'm glad you like the avatar!

SubRosa: Velwyn's personality is inspired by the game, if you can believe it. My archer character took him on some adventures with the Jemain brothers, and he was a maniac! I guess his dialog comes from the Benirus Manor quest when you're already in the spooky house, so when you walk up to him in the middle of a sunny meadow he whips around all wide-eyed and says, "Did you hear a noise?" He comes across as a pretty stressed out guy. Also he's speedy and seems to hold a grudge, he was always the last one to put his sword away after a tussle. In the end of this chapter we get a little more hair-trigger Velwyn and a glance at another side of him.

nits: Thank you, I think I fixed them. The intentions line didn't come across in print the way my head says it. "Doing any evil" is another one I thought about changing, but I want Jerric to have a casual manner of speaking. Your telling me how you hear it helps me so much!

Destri Melarg: Thank you for your insightful comments! I took me forever to figure out how an armored man with a sword was going to kill one wolf, and then I let his buddy do it. I am having a panic attack over one arrow shot in the next section, so I really appreciate your advice. Storm-wise I added a tiny bit, I hope it makes more sense now. They other thing I failed to point out was how much hill was left to climb.




Chapter 2: On the Gold Road, Part 2



The sun had gone down behind the trees by the time Jerric and Velwyn reached the path to Gnoll’s Meeting Camp. They followed it down through tumbled boulders onto a grassy plateau. The camp’s inhabitants had decorated the entrance with a gallows. A desiccated body swung in the breeze, and bones were piled under it.

The men stopped and took in the sight. “By Azura,” said Velwyn.

“This used to be a bandit camp,” Jerric explained. “Some of them decided they wanted to settle down and raise their families. They killed or drove out the ones who wouldn’t quit their old ways. This is what they do if you break their rules. I’ve never been down here, but I’ve heard it’s nice.” He cut his eyes over at Velwyn.

Velwyn looked like he didn’t know whether to fill his pants or flee. Jerric laughed.

“Not really. Well some of that’s true, but I’ve been here lots of times. If we rent a tent they’ll keep us as safe as ma bear keeps her little cubs.” Jerric headed into the camp. A stout woman by the cook fire called to him, and he raised his hand in greeting. “Come on,” he said over his shoulder. “And put on your party face, these folks know how to have a good time.”

___


Jerric woke to snoring that was not his own. His right arm was numb, and he felt overheated on one side and chilled on the other. His mouth was dry and his head felt tender. He looked around for a moment. He did not recognize the inside of the tent any more than he recognized the person who was using his arm for a pillow.

A dread feeling grew in his gut as he tried to remember the previous night's events. They had rented the last available tent. It had a packed dirt floor and one large wooden sleeping platform. "Don't worry, I won't try to get under your skirt," he remembered telling Velwyn. Then dinner around the fire, music, ale ... and nothing.

Jerric eased his arm out from under the frizzy head. He hoped that the wrinkled back belonged to a female. His nose told him that she used perfume instead of soap. He stuffed himself into his trousers and carefully gathered up his clothes. While he was searching for his other sock he heard a snorting cough and froze. He kept his eyes averted. There are some things I am better off not knowing, he decided. He picked up his boots and fled.

When Jerric entered their tent Velwyn was already dressed and ready for the day's journey. "Interesting look," he commented. "You smell like a Brumese prostitute."

Jerric pulled his shirt over his head. When he fastened his trousers he discovered that he had left his drawers behind. He decided he could live without them. His shirt was inside out. He swore and tried again.

“No pushups this morning?” inquired Velwyn. He sounded almost cheerful.

Jerric scratched his hands through his hair. He was mortified and bewildered. His belongings were still packed, and his armor was arranged as he had left it, ready for rapid access. What he wanted to do most was boil himself and burn his clothing. "Let’s get out of here,” he said.

Velwyn gathered up his pack and lifted the tent flap.

"Wait!" Jerric said urgently. "First get us some breakfast. I’ll wait here."

“I already had mine,” said Velwyn. “I’ll meet you on the road.”

Jerric kept his head down while he gulped his kahve and shoveled in his sausage and rice. The stout Breton at the cook fire wanted to chat, but Jerric had seen enough nudges and knowing smiles for one morning. He nodded his thanks and jogged out to meet Velwyn.

The two men walked in the clear morning until they had nearly reached Ra’sava Camp. Velwyn was recalling the previous evening. Jerric was trying to pull himself together before they walked into danger. "She didn't have any teeth in the front," Velwyn explained. "She thought you would like that."

Jerric dropped his pack in the road. He staggered a few steps, shedding weapons and equipment. When he reached the verge, Jerric leaned over and spewed his breakfast onto the grass. He looked up at the sky and took a few breaths, and then he leaned over and lost what was left of his dinner.

"Mara's milk!" exclaimed Velwyn.

Jerric ran for the bushes, unbuckling as he went.

"I wonder, do you know how to cure the effects of poison?" ventured Velwyn. His voice sounded nervous.

Jerric did not answer, at least not with words.

Later Jerric returned and knelt by his gear, looking clammy and wrung-out. "What did you give me?" he whispered. He had put some ideas together during his time in the bushes.

"Well you see," began Velwyn, "It's not so much what I gave you as what we should do about it." He paused. "Last night I got a potion from that Argonian. It worked well enough, but now I'm not sure she is a real alchemist."

Jerric considered his words. He looked up at Velwyn with red eyes in an ashen face. "Are you saying you've poisoned me with a rot-gut love potion?" he raged in a voice like a newborn kitten.

"You had it coming to you," said Velwyn. He rummaged through Jerric's day pack. "Now that I think about it, you should also probably take something to cure diseases."

___


The road had climbed gently but steadily all morning, and they had reached a high spot where there was a light breeze. Jerric was feeling like himself again. He walked off the road over to a flat rock outcrop and began to unload his packs. A great tree had grown out of a crack in the rocks, and its high canopy provided dappled shade without obstructing the view. It roots twisted along the surface until they found the rock’s edge and there sank deep into the soil. “This is a great place for lunch. We’ll walk until dark and have a cold camp tonight, so let’s make the most of it.”

Velwyn joined him. He dropped his pack and unbuckled his sword. “I’m going to the bushes,” he said.

“Watch your step. This is a popular spot, you won’t be the first.”

When Velwyn returned, Jerric had their lunch ready. Slices of smoked boar, crusty bread, three different cheeses, grapes, apple wedges, fresh tomatoes, pickled carrots and onions, strawberry preserves, and a small pot of mustard rested neatly on a polished wooden board. Velwyn looked pleasantly surprised. His eyes grew even wider when he saw the bottle of wine in Jerric’s hand.

“Sorry, I forgot cups,” Jerric said.

He watched Velwyn settle himself on the rocks. They were still warm where the morning sun had slanted under the tree’s braches. They looked down over the sparsely wooded hills falling away below them. For the first time Jerric saw that the Imperial was capable of relaxing. Velwyn took a swig from the bottle and handed it back to Jerric.

“Make yourself a couple of sandwiches for tonight, too. We can eat them as we go,” said Jerric. “This stuff won’t be any good after tomorrow.”

Velwyn dug in. “I may be guilty of misjudging you,” he said.

Jerric chewed and nodded. He picked up an apple slice and laid a piece of cheese on it. “This is Christophe’s doing, I just had to slice it. He’s a grumpy fetcher, but it turns out he packs a good picnic. And after all, lunch is the most important meal of the day.” He tipped up the bottle.

“I thought you said breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Velwyn took the wine back.

“It is. So is dinner.”

After their meal the men walked until sunset. They had passed people on foot and in carts all day, but as evening approached the road was empty. At sunset they turned into the bush to make camp. They did not make a fire. Jerric filled their water skins while Velwyn unpacked the bedrolls. They were in a sheltered spot a good distance from the creek, and Jerric thought it unlikely that any night roaming creature would stumble upon them. He undressed in the dark and was instantly asleep.

Jerric woke in the pink dawn to a hiss in his ear and a shape looming over him. He grabbed the figure's head and pulled it down by the hair while his other hand found his dagger. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes and discovered he was looking into the purple, bug-eyed face of Velwyn. Jerric removed his forearm from Velwyn’s throat and rolled away.

"What is it, Benirus?" Jerric lay flat and rubbed his eyes.

Velwyn crab-crawled backward and rose, brushing off his clothes. "I said did you hear a noise!" he spluttered.

Jerric stood and kicked his way free of his bedroll. He reached to the fading stars in a bone popping stretch. Tonight, Skingrad, he thought. "Well whatever it was has probably died laughing." He looked over at Velwyn. "Give a fellow some warning next time," he said by way of apology.

Velwyn had produced a comb and was smoothing his hair. He eyed Jerric with distaste. "I know it’s Last Seed, but would you mind putting on some clothes? That horse carcass smelled better than you do."

Jerric let go of some wind and treated himself to a leisurely scratch. Clearly Benirus was touchy this morning. As he turned toward him to speak there was a twang, and hot pain streaked across his chest. He looked down and saw that a bloody furrow had opened there. He followed Velwyn’s shocked gaze to an arrow that stuck out of the grass, still quivering.

Velwyn gave a shout and ran for his sword. Jerric squawked in surprise and dove for his shield. He rolled into a crouch, looking for the archer. There was only one place in that direction that they could be using for cover. His sword was too far behind him to reach without turning.

There was a burgundy shape at the side of Jerric's vision. Velwyn had his sword out and was stalking forward. "Down!" Jerric called, and Velwyn dropped flat. Jerric scrambled to the low rocks he had picked out the night before and tried to fold himself behind them. Velwyn was protected, the contours of the ground were in their favor. Jerric shook out his right arm and prepared to throw some frost. The skin between his shoulders was crawling. He doubted that any archer would attack them on their own.

Another twang and a thump against Jerric's shield. Both men saw the archer and started toward her. She stepped through her cover and prepared her next shot. Jerric filled his hand with freezing fog.

"Your presence here will not be tolerated!" announced a male voice in nasal tones. A robed figure had appeared from the hedge at Jerric's right with a ball of fire in his hand. As Jerric threw his frost at the archer he felt the rush of magika from the mage’s spell against his side. The archer’s shot went wide when the frost hit her in the shoulder.

Jerric turned to meet the mage’s attack. He imagined the icy cold of the sea in winter and whipped a frozen ball at him as he lunged forward. The mage was already gathering more fire.

Frost boomed against the mage, and he shrieked as he threw more fire at Jerric. This time Jerric lost his nerve and ducked under the attack. He felt heat blaze down his back, but it wasn't close enough to burn him. He bounced back up and closed with the mage.

Jerric bashed the mage with his shield, bowling him over onto his back. He dropped onto his midsection, hooking his bare feet back over the man's thighs and pinning him to the ground. The mage's face was a mask of panic. His hand clawed at Jerric's slippery chest, sending agony and a wave of sickness through him. Jerric howled and slammed the shield edge down across the mage's face. The hand dropped away, and Jerric pounded the edge into the man's neck. The mage grabbed his throat and thrashed, his heels working against the grass.

Jerric stood retching and turned. He saw the archer go down in a gout of blood as Velwyn yanked his sword out of her throat. A Redguard in fur armor was closing with Velwyn. He took a swing at Velwyn with his heavy axe.

Velwyn lunged back and scrambled away, and he and Jerric both ran for Jerric’s sword. Velwyn got there first and tossed it the rest of the way to Jerric. The bandit stopped and made his choice. Without a word he turned and ran.

Jerric drew his sword and looked down into the mage’s ruined face. The man's hands were still at his neck, so Jerric bent and pressed the tip of his sword down into his belly. A strangled scream, and the hands were out of the way. He drew his sword point through the mage's throat until he saw the blood spray out. He could feel the sinews through his blade. He leaned over and spit, still feeling sick from the spell.

The archer had stopped gurgling and was still. The mage lay curled around his belly moaning as he bled out onto the grass. The Redguard had vanished. Velwyn was untouched. He didn't even appear to have much blood on him, although it might not show on the burgundy fabric.

Burning pain reminded Jerric to heal his chest. Blood had run down and soaked the front of his drawers. He decided to discard them instead of trying to explain the stains to their housekeeper. This trip was costing him in linens. He looked over at Velwyn. "You are a stone cold killer," Jerric said in wonder. "Who is guarding who?"

"Whom," said Velwyn. "Who is guarding whom." He bent to clean his sword on Jerric's bedroll.

Jerric took a closer look at Velwyn. "Have you shaved already, Benirus?" he exclaimed.

Velwyn fixed his nervous eye on Jerric. "Rough conditions are no excuse for poor grooming," he said. "Why did the Redguard run? I don't have armor, and you're not even wearing pants."

"Didn't like the odds, I guess," said Jerric. "You could have put a hole in his neck while he was busy killing me, for instance." He found a dry spot on the mage’s robe and cleaned his sword. "He's in it for the coin, and we were fighting for our lives. Now he lives to loot another day." Jerric brightened. "Maybe he'll spread the word about Blood-mad Benirus, and we'll have an easy time from here," he teased.

Velwyn was not in the mood. "Let's get going," he said. "I can already hear flies."

___


Jerric stood with his brother’s caravan on Bypass Road north of Skingrad. They would follow it around the city and pick up the Gold Road again to the Imperial City. His day pack was filled with snacks and potions. The morning mist was a welcome change from Anvil’s heat, and his heart felt light.

He looked behind him down the line of wagons stretching along the city wall. He noted the positions of the other guards and the archers ready on the wagons. His eyes passed over rocky meadows and orderly vineyards. He looked ahead and saw the scouts waiting where the road curved around the city’s clustered spires and out of his sight. A new road to walk and a whole new crew to work with.

He watched Rothmund for the signal to move out. Pity for Benirus that he went on ahead, Jerric thought. I would hate to miss any of this.
Acadian
What an interesting trip to Skingrad!

QUOTE
Jerric eased his arm out from under the frizzy head. He hoped that the wrinkled back belonged to a female. His nose told him that she used perfume instead of soap. He stuffed himself into his trousers and carefully gathered up his clothes. While he was searching for his other sock he heard a snorting cough and froze. He kept his eyes averted. There are some things I am better off not knowing, he decided. He picked up his boots and fled.
Brilliantly written!

QUOTE
The stout Breton at the cook fire wanted to chat, but Jerric had seen enough nudges and knowing smiles for one morning.
I like your understated style here.

QUOTE
A great tree had grown out of a crack in the rocks, and its high canopy provided dappled shade without obstructing the view. It roots twisted along the surface until they found the rock’s edge and there sank deep into the soil.
Beautifully rich descriptions like this really bring the world around Jerric alive.

QUOTE
Slices of smoked boar, crusty bread, three different cheeses, grapes, apple wedges, fresh tomatoes, pickled carrots and onions, strawberry preserves, and a small pot of mustard rested neatly on a polished wooden board.
Oh, YUM! I love Jerric's philosophy on the most important meal of the day! tongue.gif

Your fight scene with the bandits was clearly written, well-paced and riveting. I love how it seems that our Nord appropriately prefers frost spells!

QUOTE
"You are a stone cold killer," Jerric said in wonder. "Who is guarding who?"

"Whom," said Velwyn. "Who is guarding whom." He bent to clean his sword on Jerric's bedroll.
Argh! Don't you hate it when your characters try to edit you? laugh.gif

Your final scene of the 'wagon train' preparing to leave Skingrad was pure cinematic. It felt like the beginning of a beautifully epic movie - well done! goodjob.gif
mALX
I don't know when I've laughed so hard !!! This chapter was AWESOME !!! I can't not quote some of these:


Great history on Gnoll’s Meeting Camp!

Velwyn looked like he didn’t know whether to fill his pants or flee. - ROFL !!!

SPEW !!! ROFL !!!!! OMG, Jerric waking up with ... "REEEE ... " -
hoped that the wrinkled back belonged to a female. - BWAAAHAAA!!!! SPEW !!!!

There are some things I am better off not knowing, he decided. He picked up his boots and fled.

- SPEW !!!!! ROFL !!!! SPEW !!! (KA, KA...GAAAAH!) [mALX choked to death laughing]


She didn't have any teeth in the front," Velwyn explained. "She thought you would like that." - BWAAAHAAA !!! Sword polishing for the toothless ...

And she gave him the runs... SPEW !!!


Jerric woke in the pink dawn to a hiss in his ear and a shape looming over him. He grabbed the figure's head and pulled it down by the hair while his other hand found his dagger. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes and discovered he was looking into the purple, bug-eyed face of Velwyn.

My stomach is hurting .... Oooooh .... OW .... SPEW!!! ROFL !!!


I laughed myself sick on this !!!


Then the fight scene - WHEW !!!!! Benirus was some kind of cool character - I love what you did with him !!!


I am loving this story !!!!


- WAIT !! Did I forget to mention your genius with descriptions? You bring everything to life, your descriptions of everything make the reader experience these things, not just read about them - AWESOME WRITE !!! MORE !!!! MORE !!!!
SubRosa
Jerric is certainly having quite a journey to Skingrad! From a rather amusing start at the camp, to a very gritty and ugly battle. I applaud your having the third bandit run for this life.

Many fan fic writers portray all their antagonists the same way the game does, which is to say as homicidal maniacs without a shred of self-preservation. When faced with defeat, real people and animals only fight to the death in extreme circumstances. Most of the time they will run away and live to fight another day instead. So nice to see that here!

Destri Melarg
QUOTE
"Well you see," began Velwyn, "It's not so much what I gave you as what we should do about it." He paused. "Last night I got a potion from that Argonian. It worked well enough, but now I'm not sure she is a real alchemist."

So Velwyn gets his revenge for Jerric's matchmaking!
QUOTE
Velwyn dug in. “I may be guilty of misjudging you,” he said.

I absolutely loved this sentence! Such an understated way of showing us the friendship developing between these two.
QUOTE
"Give a fellow some warning next time," he said by way of apology.

Another great character defining moment!
QUOTE
Jerric let go of some wind and treated himself to a leisurely scratch. Clearly Benirus was touchy this morning. As he turned toward him to speak there was a twang, and an arrow plowed a bloody furrow across Jerric’s chest.

Your 'one arrow shot', coming when it does, is wonderfully effective! Strictly as a matter of style, you may want to think about describing the furrow opened on Jerric's chest, and then the arrow that left it. If I may:
As he turned toward him to speak there was a twang, and a bloody furrow formed across Jerric's chest. There was a sound beyond them, and they both turned to see an arrow quivering in the grass. The shaft looked to be made of iron, and fresh blood dripped from the fletching.
QUOTE
The bandit stopped and made his choice. Without a word he turned and ran.

Like SubRosa said, the discretion of the last bandit was refreshing.
QUOTE
Pity for Benirus that he went on ahead, Jerric thought. I would hate to miss any of this.

Oh no! I was really starting to like those two together. I hope this isn't the last we see of Velwyn.
treydog
Well, I have had time to read now, and all I can say is- “Please don’t stop now!”

If I quoted everything I liked, that would be- well… everything. So let’s just select a few outstanding moments. First, using Arnand to describe Jerric was absolutely brilliant- and brilliantly done. Throughout you provide a wonderful lesson on “show, don’t tell.”

QUOTE
"I feel just like a loaf of bread," Jerric said to the sky.

"Felen is waiting for these pods," Arnand said irritably. What is he doing in the Mages Guild, anyway? Arnand wondered. You don't get arms like that from turning pages.


QUOTE
"How do you know these things?" Arnand demanded. "You don't live here."

"How do you not know them? Don't you ever talk to people?"


The brief introduction of Faustina provides a nice plot hook, especially after we find out what Arnand thinks of her (“face like a weasel.”)

QUOTE
He makes more noise than a Billy on a wooden bridge, thought Arnand.


A wonderful Oblivion-specific metaphor.

Adding Velwyn’s flight is also inspired- I wonder who bought his house?

The scene with the wolf tells us a lot about Jerric.

QUOTE
"Of course not," said Jerric. "You're not paying to get into her bed, you're paying to get back out of it."


The description of Jerric’s reaction to Rutila- and to the food- is hilarious. Even more so is his “solution.”

Velwyn's revenge was brilliantly understated- well, actually the description of his revenge. Jerric would disagree the the vengeance itself was anything of the sort.

QUOTE
“I thought you said breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Velwyn took the wine back.

“It is. So is dinner.”


The fight scene was wonderfully choreographed and had plenty of tension. And the banter between Jerric and Velwyn was first-rate again.


Not caught up yet, but enjoying every minute of it.

Oh- and to save D. Foxy from asking when he wanders by (which I have a feeling he will)- does it happen that your hair might be or once have been at any time the color known as "red"? whistling.gif

The reason for the question is buried in the mists of the other forum, but a number of our writers here can explain it to you if explanation is needed.
Grits
I’ve been on a road trip, but now I’m back. smile.gif

Acadian: Thank you for your kind words, and for drawing attention to those sections. I certainly share Jerric’s view of which meal is the most important; it’s the one that’s coming up next! Frost first seems like a natural for Jerric, I’ve tucked an explanation away somewhere and we’ll eventually get to it.

mALX: I’m glad you enjoyed the Gnoll’s Meeting antics, this chapter was fun to write. I did a lot of snorting at inopportune moments, as most of it came to my wandering mind while I was pretending to listen to other people *blush.* It could have been worse, though: “Hold on a minute, officer, I just have to write this down.” There is a sad lack of hilarity in the next chapter, I hope you’ll bear with me!!

SubRosa: Thank you for your comments, I am trying make some things from the game make more sense but still keep my characters alive, which is tricky. Thank you for your support, it means a lot!

Destri Melarg: I changed the arrow shot, thank you so much for the suggestion. I like it much better now! We’ll see Velwyn again, after all there is the Manor mystery to sort out eventually. I like Velwyn and Jerric together, too, I wish I could have come up with a way to drag him through the next chapter without it being silly. Thank you so much for your advice!

treydog: Thank you so much for your kind words! We’ll find out about Velwyn’s house, but not for awhile. Your comments are very encouraging to me, and I have needed the encouragement to get through the next chapter! Oh, and I’m not a redhead, I’m afraid. My hair is and always has been the color known as “yellow.” If anyone would care to explain, I’m curious!!

So, it’s Last Seed 3E433. Let's see what happens next.


Chapter 3 : Welcome to the Imperial City Part 1

Jerric stepped out of the Gilded Lily feeling refreshed and considerably lighter in the coin purse. For a man who is not in love there is no substitute for true professionalism, he reflected. He spied his brother waiting across the street and headed toward him with a smile. The long shadows were a surprise, it must already be time for dinner.

Rothmund watched his approach with crossed arms and a face full of disapproval. Jerric knew that his brother resented his promotion to the Imperial City crew, but he had earned it through years of working the Anvil route. Rothmund was old enough to be Jerric’s father, and he had campaigned heavily to give his own son the position. Rothmund scowled as Jerric reached him. “We’re late,” he fumed. “No one needs to take that long in a brothel.”

The two men headed down the busy waterfront toward The Bloated Float. Nothing he could say would appease Rothmund, so Jerric stayed silent and made his plan to enjoy what was left of the day. He was excited to see an inn that was actually a ship, and he had already made friends with the rest of the team who awaited them there. He anticipated an eventful evening.

___

Jerric woke to the Dunmer's voice from the cell across the hall again. His headache was improving, but the voice still grated. Sleeping one off in the drunk tank was not a new experience for him, but he had been in this cell long enough to be sick, feel better, then start feeling hungry. "My, my, you're a big one. A Nord, so strong. But you can't bend steel, can you boy? You can't do anything to get out of here. And those big muscles? They're going to waste away. When the end comes, you won't even have the strength to cry for your mother." Jerric had heard this speech from the Dunmer already, more than once. He suspected that serving a long sentence in the Imperial Prison did not have a positive effect on the mind.

He sat up and reviewed the situation. His wrists were still shackled together, and the blood on his knuckles reminded him that he had earned it. Why hadn't Rothmund paid his fine, he wondered. The caravan must be back on the Gold Road by now, along with all of his gear. The Imperial Watch had taken everything that he had on him at the Float. I’ll catch up with them on the road, Jerric thought. I have a lot to say to you, brother.

"Fah, you stink more than the last one!" the Dunmer was saying. "He soiled himself even before they started the torture. That's right, I'm sure you'll be getting some special attention before long." Jerric couldn't argue about the smell. There was some mildew on the walls and filth on the floor where others had missed the sewer drain, but the reek was mostly Nord. He regarded his rough prison garb and pitied the next fellow who would have to wear it. "That's right. You're going to die in here. You hear me, boy? You're going to die in here!"

I doubt it, thought Jerric. No one gets a death sentence for brawling, even in the Imperial City. He rose and stretched experimentally. The scrapes and bruises didn’t bother him, but he was stiff from sleeping on the stone couch set into his cell wall. His nose was definitely broken, and his tongue was thick with dried blood. He had a crusty knot on the side of his head that his fingertips couldn't resist exploring. He couldn't use his healing spell, and he suspected that the wrist irons were enchanted to silence him. He wondered how the guards had known he was a mage, since he hadn’t cast any spells. The fight outside the Bloated Float had been a fairly friendly scrap until the Watch got involved. Next he checked the water jug and found it still empty. He stepped to the bars of his cell for some entertainment.

The Dunmer was waiting for him. "I'm getting out soon," he confided."Maybe I should visit your wife. She must be so lonely. Don't you worry, eh? I'll take care of her long after you're dead." The Dunmer’s smile did not match the look in his wide red eyes.

Excellent topic, Jerric thought, I don't have a wife. He lounged against the bars. "You should visit her, Dunmer," he said amiably. "My wife will open her legs and eat you for breakfast." He received no reply, so he tried again. "What's that perfume you're wearing?" He sniffed and leered across the passage. "Maybe the guards will put us in a cell together." Scaly jewels of Akatosh, he thought, my nose hurts.

There was a commotion at the top of the corridor. “Hey, you hear that?” said the Dunmer. “The guards are coming for you!” His unhinged laughter made the guards’ talk unintelligible. Jerric stuck his sore face between the bars and looked toward the noise. Three armored soldier types surrounding a white-haired man in a rich robe were approaching. Those are not guards, he thought.

“My sons… they’re dead, aren’t they, Captain?” the old man said as they drew near. His voice was far more deep and resonant than his aged frame should allow.

“We don’t know that, sire. The messenger only said that they were attacked.” Jerric could hear that the Captain was a woman.

“No, they’re dead. I know it.” The old man’s voice sounded resigned and heavy with grief.

“My job right now is to get you to safety,” the Captain said briskly. The group stopped outside Jerric’s cell. He recognized their armor from his childhood picture books. They were Blades, the personal bodyguards of the Emperor. Part of him wanted to believe that this was some elaborate prank, but dread crept through the rest of him. “What’s this prisoner doing here? This cell is supposed to be off limits!” the Captain demanded.

“Must have been some mix-up with the Watch,” answered one of the Blades.

“Never mind, Glenroy. Get that gate open. Stand back, prisoner. We won’t hesitate to kill you if you get in our way.” Jerric believed her, and he backed up to the wall under his high window. He began to think that the Dunmer had been right, and he was going to die here shackled in a cell over some careless oversight.

Glenroy opened the cell door and moved aggressively to stand in front of him. “Stay put, prisoner.” His voice betrayed his tension, and Jerric did not want to add stress to the situation. He stood still and did not meet Glenroy’s eyes.

“No sign of pursuit, sir,” the other man called from the corridor.

“Good. Let’s go. We’re not out of this yet.” The Captain entered the cell and walked over to the stone couch, followed by the old man. His robe was royal purple trimmed with ermine, and the jewel at his neck could only be the Amulet of Kings. Awe and fear crawled over Jerric’s skin. Emperor Uriel Septim was standing in his prison cell. He dropped to one knee and bowed his head. The Emperor’s heirs were dead? His mind raced, and no single thought rose to direct him.

“You … I’ve seen you. Let me see your face.” Jerric looked up when he realized that his Emperor was speaking to him. “You are the one from my dreams. Then the stars were right, and this is the day. Gods give me strength.”

Jerric was too stunned to reply. The Emperor spoke again. “Assassins attacked my sons, and I’m next. My Blades are leading me out of the city along a secret escape route. By chance the entrance lies here in your cell. Perhaps the gods have placed you here so that we may meet. As for what you have done, it does not matter. That is not what you will be remembered for.”

“Please, sire, we must keep moving,” said the Blades Captain. She opened a doorway in the blank stone wall, and the stone couch raised a cloud of dust as it slid into the floor. “Better not close this one. There’s no way to open it from the other side.” She led the Emperor through into darkness.

“This doesn’t concern you, prisoner!” Glenroy warned, and then he followed the Emperor.

Jerric still knelt on the stone floor. The Blade from the hall shot him a look as he passed. A Redguard, Jerric noted. “Looks like this is your lucky day. Just stay out of our way.”

He followed the others, and Jerric was alone again. He looked down the passageway where a faint blue light shone from below. They had locked his cell door behind them, and there was no way he was going to wait around for the Watch to collect him now. He rose and followed the Blades into the secret passage, down a set of dark stairs, and into an open corridor of dressed stone. A dim blue light shone over the columns and arches that held up the ceiling, but Jerric could not find its source. He concentrated on not tripping over his rope sandals as he followed, staying back far enough to avoid Glenroy’s attention but not so far that he would get lost. Part of his mind turned over the Emperor’s words and tried to make sense of them.

Jerric usually relied on landmarks and the sky to tell direction, and he was easily confused indoors. All of the passageways looked the same to him. Once he stumbled too quickly down a set of stairs only to find the group paused at the bottom, listening. He earned a glare and a snarl from Glenroy. “Don’t try anything. I’m watching you.” Jerric waited as they went far ahead down the darker corridor.

As they moved into the lighted room beyond, Jerric heard the unmistakable song of swords being drawn. “Protect the Emperor!” called the Captain. Shouts and the clash of metal rang back to Jerric, and without thinking he ran toward the fight. It was over before he got there. Three red-robed figures lay dead on the ground, and he was standing over the Captain’s body. Her katana lay beside her and she wore a short sword at her side, but he didn’t see the assassins’ weapons. “The Captain is down,” he heard Glenroy say. “How could they be waiting for us here?”

“Don’t know, but it’s too late to go back now,” said the Redguard.

“I’ll take point. Let’s move,” said Glenroy. The Emperor followed him through a metal gate.

“You stay here, prisoner. Don’t try to follow us.” The Redguard took up the rear and secured the gate behind him. Jerric watched the Emperor disappear into darkness guarded by only two of his Blades, and he felt sick with worry.

He went to the gate and tried it, but of course it was locked. He took a moment to think and search the robed figures. He came up with two potions marked with the symbol for healing and a handful of coins. He pulled the hoods from the dead assassins and used them to make a bundle that he could carry.

Jerric resisted looting the Captain’s body, but the situation required it. He unbuckled her short sword, and holding the scabbard between his knees he drew the steel blade. He felt much better with it in his hand. He itched to try the katana, but there was no way he could use it. He held the scabbard in one hand with the belt rolled around it and the sword in the other. He felt ridiculous, but at least he was armed. He fiddled with the hoods to find the best way to carry everything, and ended up rolling the scabbard into a bundle with the hoods. He practiced putting down his bundle and using the short sword two-handed. His mind did not want to address the problem of getting out of the Imperial Prison in irons carrying a dead Blade Captain’s sword, and he tried not to think about what might be happening to the Emperor.

Two rats gave him his solution when they ran at him, scrabbling on the stones and squeaking. It was easy to dispatch them even with his wrists shackled together, just like playing Legion and Bandits with his nephews when they were all children. There was no way the rats came through the locked gate, so he looked around for the rat hole. When he discovered it and poked his head inside, he saw that it opened into a broad dirt-floored substructure. The dim light came from pale greenish spots on the walls. He really did not want to go in there, but explaining the secret passage in his cell to the Watch sounded even less appealing.

He tossed his bundle into the hole and then squeezed his shoulders through. His graceless entry cost him some skin, but at least now he had somewhere to go other than his cell.
SubRosa
Jerric was on a road trip, so it makes sense you would be on one too! wink.gif

So Jerric was thrown in the klink for brawling. I like it. I think it was a very good decision to start that scene in the prison, and have him reflect upon how he got there, rather than walk us through the entire thing in a linear fashion.

And now we are getting to the meat of things I see. You added some nice little bits to Jerric's meeting with Valen Dreth, which lend some freshness to the story. Jerric also kneels, which I thought was good. The guy is the Emperor after all!
Acadian
QUOTE
My hair is and always has been the color known as “yellow.”
Thank the Nine. Buffy is dancing around like a, well, elf over this news that she is not alone here. Another blonde!

Opening scene: Fresh from a brothel and thinking of dinner. That sounds like our Jerric! tongue.gif

QUOTE
He couldn't use his healing spell, and he suspected that the wrist irons were enchanted to silence him.
This is a very clever and reasonable touch!

QUOTE
just like playing Legion and Bandits with his nephews when they were all children.
Very setting specific and so in keeping with what we know of Jerric.

I like all your decisions here, ranging from using flashbacking to describe how he got in prison, to how much detail of the tutorial to provide. I like how you are using the tutorial more to show Jerric's reactions to things than merely relay the details. Well done!

In fact, all your descriptions and the tone throughout was great. Jerric's character is distinct and his delightful attitudes and manner permeate this wonderful episode.
mALX
I think Jerric is from East Tennessee, he [censored]'s all day and brawls all night outside the clubs ...

Great Write !! Gaaah, though - A shocking change of pace!! It was like getting a glass of ice cold water thrown in the face to go from the scene on the wharf to the jail cell - and drinking and brawling - it probably felt that way to Jerric as well.

I think that shock enhanced the feeling of what Jerric was going through, at least to me it did.

I absolutely loved how you handled the scene between Jerric and Valen Dreth - the dialogue between them was perfect !!!
treydog
QUOTE
Jerric woke to the Dunmer's voice from the cell across the hall again.

And BAM- we are into the main quest- perhaps.

QUOTE
He suspected that serving a long sentence in the Imperial Prison did not have a positive effect on the mind.

That is the sort of dry, understated humor I love.

Wonderful descriptions, including some expansion of the opening scenes. You provide the characters with lots of personality to make them 3-D.

QUOTE
Jerric usually relied on landmarks and the sky to tell direction, and he was easily confused indoors. All of the passageways looked the same to him.

Like right there. That is a great bit of characterization.

QUOTE
It was easy to dispatch them even with his wrists shackled together, just like playing Legion and Bandits with his nephews when they were all children.

Still very impressive- I look forward to more.

As to the question in re hair color… D.Foxy discovered some time ago, on the other forum, that a high percentage of the excellent female writers were redheads. So, when we get a new, excellent, female writer- it almost becomes a required question.
Grits
SubRosa:The tutorial dungeon has been a grind, and I’ve really tried to make it worth reading. There might be some people in Cyrodiil who would sass the Emperor, but Jerric is not one of them. smile.gif

Acadian:I’m glad to hear that Jerric’s character is coming through in the tutorial chapter. The next section with no dialog at all made me want to give him a pet rat to talk to. blink.gif

mALX:Jerric would fit right in with a work hard/play hard crowd. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him tailgating at hockey games. This chapter is a big change of pace, especially from the romp through the West Weald. Since this is a story about a life that gets interrupted, I wanted to show a little of the “before” picture, but I didn’t want it to seem like two different stories. Fair warning, more glasses of cold water ahead. So, you know, towel. smile.gif

treydog: Yes, we are main-questing, mostly. I’m not sure yet how I am going to deal with some issues. This whole plot thing is new to me. smile.gif Thank you so much for your kind words, they are very encouraging!!


Chapter 3 : Welcome to the Imperial City, Part 2

Jerric picked up his gear and moved over to the wall. The light was coming from some sort of slime on the stones. He would have to duck in some spots, but there was enough head room for him to walk. He couldn’t think of a way to leave a trail, so he would move forward and try to scratch a mark in the dirt if he came to a crossroad. He moved as quickly as he could through the substructure.

When he turned down one dim corridor he smelled something large and rotten even through the wreck that used to be his nose. A soggy groan told him it was a zombie. As his eyes adjusted he saw it shamble toward him picking up speed, so he dropped his bundle and braced himself for disgusting. He ducked the zombie’s swing and hacked at its knee with the sword. He didn’t need to kill it, just keep it from catching him. He ducked another blow and chopped again. Then he took a step and brought his heel down hard at an angle against the damaged knee.

The zombie’s knee caved in with a wet crack, and it toppled toward him. Jerric dodged and scrambled away. His stomach convulsed, and he vomited bile into his mouth. His sinuses started bleeding again, and the blood trickled over his lips and down his throat. He bent over to spit and look for his bundle, and he saw it behind the groping zombie. He retrieved it with a jump that jarred his nose and brought tears to his eyes, then he moved on, careful not to touch his dripping sword. The conjured zombies he had fought never left such scum on his blade.

Jerric made his way through the substructure until he came to an area with a higher ceiling and light coming down from a high grate. He got some of his questions answered when he found a fresh goblin carcass and some skeletal remains. Some who left their loot in the crates and boxes here never came back for it, he reasoned. One body had rotted away inside its leather armor, and the other lay tangled in rusted plate. He considered his sackcloth with regret. There was no way he could use the armor, or the axe and bow that he also found there.

He did find a key on the goblin, and a potion with the symbol for restoring magicka. He also found two scrolls, which he tucked with the potion into one of the red hoods. He used the key to open the door he found behind the body. Maybe the goblin had retreated behind this door and then died of its wounds. He wondered if he was about to meet whatever had killed the goblin, or if the assassins had possibly come this way.

Jerric stepped through the door and saw that the stone piers were replaced by wooden braces in this part of the substructure. He shuffled along in a crouch to avoid hitting his head. Roots had broken through the ceiling in some places, and he wondered if he was reaching the surface. He thought of the high grate, that light had to come from somewhere. He felt like he had been descending further underground. He took a moment to think. The Imperial Prison sat high above Lake Rumare. He could be going deeper underground and toward the outside at the same time. That would explain the wooden supports instead of stone. He began to feel hopeful.

Then he passed into hewn tunnels linking a natural cave system. Jerric moved cautiously through the near darkness, following the firelight he saw reflected on the stone walls. When he turned a corner he found a small unattended fire in front of a closed door decorated with hanging skulls. Maybe goblins, he thought. Someone was close by, the fire was burning too briskly to have been left for long. He had gotten some practice fighting goblins by the entrance to Derelict Mine only days ago outside Skingrad. Those goblins had also featured skulls in their decorations.

Jerric knew that when he went through the door the fire behind him would make him an easy target. He listened at the door, and then he opened it onto total darkness. He jumped quickly through and pressed himself against the wall. The fire light shone past him enough to show natural rock walls and floor. Nothing attacked him, but his skin wanted to jump off his body just the same. He left the door open for light and moved as carefully as he could down the stone tunnel. He did not consider himself to be an excitable sort of person, but the silence and darkness had worn his nerves thin.

As he reached the point where the floor leveled out, he saw more firelight ahead. The cave opened up a little, and he tasted more than smelled roasting meat in the smoky air. His dry mouth began to water. Jerric crept through the cave as quietly as he could, hoping that his scuffling feet made less noise than the fire. He could see a shadow ahead, and when he turned the corner he saw the goblin that cast it. The creature was unarmed.

His bundle went softly to the ground, and he made his plan. He ran at the goblin holding his sword low, then when it leaped to claw at him, he plunged it up into the goblin’s midsection and pulled it out with a twist. The goblin fell clawing and screeching. He placed his sandaled, zombie-slimed foot on the goblin’s neck and pushed the sword down through its chest. The scrabbling arms fell away from his leg, and the creature’s harsh cries ended.

Jerric took a moment to let his pulse slow. He wiped off the sword and his wet hands as best as he could on the goblin. His scratches began to sting as he investigated the fireside, where he was surprised to find a mortar and pestle on a rough table along with plant material and vials. He could tell by the stinkhorn and wisp stalk caps that it had been making poison. A goblin alchemist? He always thought that they stole everything they used. Jerric began to question some of his assumptions about goblins. He packed the mortar and pestle in his bundle, but he left the poison. Then he dropped everything beside the fire and got to work on the main prize.

There was a large rat sizzling on a spit over the fire. The smell made his stomach rumble. He looked around in the goblin’s things and came up with some coins and a small knife. Thank Akatosh, he thought, I don’t have to carve up my dinner with my zombie sword.

He had to use his teeth as another hand and he nearly stood in the fire, but Jerric managed to feast on some of the rat roast. He thought it was the best thing he had ever tasted, even with the tang of goblin blood still clinging to his fingers. Now if only he could find some ale. Jerric decided to press on instead of searching. He felt an urgent need to get out under the sun.

More tunnels, some so dark he had to feel his way along the wall with his elbow. His fresh scratches were burning and his already sore head was beginning to pound, but he didn’t want to use up a potion on discomfort. Burning torches stuck into the ground lit some of the way and informed him that the tunnels were in use. He began to think about traps and proceeded more carefully.

He killed more goblins and picked up some deeper cuts. None of them was armed, yet every one attacked him furiously. He was feeling lucky, as he had managed to kill the only two goblins that had weapons with their own log trap. He had watched the dust settle on them as he devoured two apples he found amongst their supplies. The apples were withered but sweet, and they helped his raging thirst not at all. If they were guards, he wondered what they were guarding.

Then he reached the open entrance to a large cavern with a high domed ceiling, and he began to understand. Small fires burned at intervals around the walls. He could hear rats and see two goblins very close to his tunnel. He had reached some sort of dwelling place, and he realized that to them he must be the foul marauding creature. They were doing the same thing his own sister would do if she found a stranger with a sword wandering through her house. There were areas of the cave that he couldn’t see, so he assumed that there would be more goblins. He knelt down and dropped his hood-pack while he considered his options.

He had to get through that cavern or turn back. The middle appeared to have a large pit right in the center. He could see light from a fire in the pit, but he couldn’t tell how deep it was. He had to assume the bottom was accessible and could be concealing more of them. If they attacked he would engage the nearest goblin then draw the other one back into the tunnel so that the rest couldn’t surround him. He hoped that they would be slow enough getting around the pit so that he wouldn’t have to fight them all at once. If he was lucky he might be able to run through without them chasing him. He decided that if he had to run for it, he would try for the tunnel that he saw across the cavern and hope for the best rather than back into darkness the way he came, since he could not remember any places behind him that would conceal a Nord from cave-dwelling goblins. He earnestly hoped that he would not have to kill any of their young.

Jerric put his bundle against the wall with his potions ready on top. If he could get through without a fight he wouldn’t mind leaving them behind. He crept into the cave. A loud prolonged clatter echoed through the cavern as the rock he accidentally kicked skittered across the stone floor and fell into the pit, bouncing off the rocks all the way down. The two goblins looked around at him, and one let out a squawk and reached for an axe. Another goblin stepped out from behind a pile of rocks on the far side of the cavern and Jerric could see that it was wearing a sword. A goblin’s head popped up and looked at him from within the pit. Jerric realized that the stealth part of his plan was over.

He let out a howl and lunged for the goblin closest to him, gutting it before it could finish its swing. Lightning cracked around him, knocking him back and stunning him for a moment. He saw that the second goblin had picked up a staff, and she was backing away from him. More lightning crackled through the air, but this time it rushed into Jerric as he absorbed the magicka. He ran forward and drove his shoulder into the goblin witch’s midsection, sending her flying back and down into the pit. He threw himself to the ground to avoid falling in after her, and he landed on the staff.

The third goblin was still making its way around the pit. Jerric turned his attention to the one climbing out right beside him, slowed by the axe in its hand. The goblin looked surprised to see Jerric’s new position, if Jerric could judge such a foreign expression. He rolled onto his back and kicked it in the face with both feet. He kicked it again, and the goblin let out a series of harsh cries but did not fall. He felt the staff under his back. Jerric dropped his wet sword and levered himself up with the staff, then he fired lightning at the goblin as it swung its leg over the edge, knocking it back into the pit. He turned and shot more lightning at the last goblin as it ran toward him. He hit it with lightning from the staff until it fell.

There was a lot of noise coming from the pit, and Jerric looked in. One side appeared to be a rat corral, and the goblin witch had fallen among the captive rats. She was unable to rise, and the rats were taking their revenge. The other goblin lay with its leg twisted under it. Jerric considered the staff. He couldn’t think of a way to carry it, and he didn’t want another goblin to pick it up and chase him with it. He used it to finish the goblins in the pit, and then he tossed it in with the rats. He was not inclined to let the rats go, but at least he had given them a meal.

The goblin by the tunnel was kneeling quietly in its own guts, breathing rapidly through its open mouth. Its deep set eyes were fixed on him. Jerric picked up his sword and approached it. Somehow the thing had pulled more of its own insides out, probably trying to rise. Jerric thrust his sword through its open jaws and up into its brain. He had trouble getting the blade back out. He had always wanted to try that.

When he bent to pick up his bundle Jerric noticed that some of his gashes were bleeding quite freely. He drank one potion and the bleeding stopped. As he made his way through the cavern he cast his eyes around for goods that he could use. Something to get the shackles off was a top priority, followed by liquid of any kind. He stopped at an oval leather shield. He had found bows and quivers filled with arrows, but he had yet to encounter an archer. If he did, the shield would be better than nothing. He picked it up along with two more healing potions and an iron dagger. It never hurts to have a second blade, no matter how humble, he thought.

Jerric went to one of the goblin’s tables to get his gear situated. He carried the shield upside down on his outstretched arms like a basket with the bundle and the dagger resting in it. He held the short sword in his hand. He thought he must look like a battered, filthy washerwoman. He headed down a tunnel out of the cavern, and when the firelight faded behind him he saw a dim blue light ahead. With a sinking feeling he realized that he was back at the same kind of stone chambers that he had left under the prison. Had he gone in a circle? He went to the opening and looked down.


SubRosa
We see Jerric thinking to leave marks at intersections so he does not get lost, musing on the light source, and best of all, using real tactics to fight the zombie. Your descriptions of his broken nose jarring him, the bile in his mouth, etc... Also bring his plight to life in a way saying "At 80% health" just cannot do.

You gave us a most harrowing journey through the tunnels and caves. I could feel Jerric's raw nerves at every jumping shadow. Not to mention the brutality of his battles with the goblins. Very exciting stuff!
Thomas Kaira
Oh, my. If Mr. Foxy wanders in here, he's going to have a ball.

QUOTE

Sharing the common quarters at the Mages Guild with Jerric was a trial. He was noisy, his gigantic boots were always in the way, and he treated every day like Jester's Day. Just last night while Arnand lay in bed reading, Jerric had slipped under the blanket with him. He had let loose some wind, then held Arnand's head under the covers, making him smell it. The visiting mages had laughed like a pack of teenagers. One of them had wet herself.


Jerric! Tasteful! Dear! blink.gif blink.gif blink.gif nono.gif nono.gif nono.gif

Your Journey of the Dynamic Duo had me in stitches. rollinglaugh.gif

Then we get to IC, and BOOM! Nice touch on getting him into prison there.

Then we get into the Prison dungeon and shift from uncouth humor to gritty action, and a very well written dungeon crawl. Just don't forget that humor. That was the best part, I don't want to see it evaporate into a pure dungeon-crawl atmosphere, that joking around gave your story (and Jerric) an incredible personality.

Oh, and if you are needing someone to talk to when no one's around, just do what I do and talk to yourself!

Wait did I just say that? Err... Scratch that! No talking!

I'm really enjoying the lighthearted humor oozing from every orifice of your writing, you've had a great start, so don't stop now!

nit:

Chapter 2 Part 2:

QUOTE
Jerric let go of some wind and treated himself to a leisurely scratch. Clearly Benirus was touchy this morning. Jerric let go of some wind and treated himself to a leisurely scratch. Clearly Benirus was touchy this morning.


Duplicate sentence here.
Acadian
It is wonderfully entertaining to see this dungeon from the perspective of a big ol' Nord that is tall enough to scrape his head and have to duck! tongue.gif

'Jerric began to question some of his assumptions about goblins.'
Yes! We are quite convinced they are some form of cave mer. kvleft.gif

'More lightning crackled through the air, but this time it rushed into Jerric as he absorbed the magicka.'
Forgive me if I may have missed it earlier, but I was quite delighted to realize that Jerric is born under the sign of the Atronach. It suits him so perfectly.

You're doing well here. I think your pacing is right. You covered some good ground and action, but you are wisely focusing on Jerric's reactions and observations. His unique charm is coming through clearly, despite the tense and dangerous dungeon crawl. It is quite refreshing seeing a character that is not too wimpy to eat rat meat. laugh.gif

You have a fine talent for humor, rich character development and effective action scenes. If I were you, I would feel free to use those talents as Jerric's circumstances require. One scene may require backslapping and good natured teasing, another scene may require carving up a (ugh) zombie, and yet another scene may tug on our heartstrings. Life has variety, and so does your story.
Jacki Dice
What I love about Jerric (other than him being a constantly near-nude Nord, of course) is that he's very believable. He doesn't rush into killing people willy-nilly and wakes up next to strangers after blacking out after too much drink...he throws up at zombies... Speaking of, good job with their description of the zombie. It was appropriately nasty smile.gif
Grits
SubRosa: Thank you, I tried to make the dungeon as much about the character as possible, since many of us could run through that part of the game in their sleep. Whew, I’m glad it’s over! When you notice things in the story, it makes me happy that I put them there. Thank you so much for your support!

Thomas Kaira: Hello, I’m glad you’re enjoying Jerric’s adventures, thank you for your comments! The dungeon chapter has been a grind, and I don’t expect I’ll develop a taste for writing down every step Jerric takes underground. There’s more funny up ahead, but first some more darkness. Please bear with me! smile.gif Check Chapter 4 when it comes, Jerric takes your advice. Thanks for spotting the nit, I have the keyboarding skills of a bear and a bat’s eye for proofreading, so I appreciate it!

Acadian: Thank you so much for your advice and support. This is a real learning experience for me, and when I’m jumping between high jinks and life threatening events I don’t have a guide other than the character. Your words mean a lot to me, both your gentle suggestions and the reassurance. smile.gif I have very little game playing Jerric, so I think the Atronach part will be more evident when I have more experience with it. At this point I’m still saying “arrgh, he’s going to die” during all of the fights then later, “wait, did he absorb that?” It’s the element of his character that I think shapes his story the most, at least it’s what puts a sword-wielding prankster Nord in the Mages Guild.

Jacki Dice: I’m glad you find Jerric to be believable as well as entertaining! Thank you so much for your comments! I couldn’t work stripping down into the defense of the Emperor’s life, but Jerric seems to rarely go for a full day without some sort of wardrobe malfunction. When winter comes if you find him in any random hot springs, you’ll know I put them there just for you! biggrin.gif




Chapter 3 : Welcome to the Imperial City, Part 3

Jerric scrambled through the hole in the wall and landed with an awkward tumble, but at least he didn’t stab or slice himself. Immediately he heard Glenroy’s voice. “We should find a defensible spot and protect the Emperor until help arrives.” Jerric felt a surge of hope. If he had caught up with the Blades he was still in the middle of trouble, but at least he was on the way out of it. He stayed out of sight since he expected that they would be surprised to see him.

“Help? What makes you think help will get here before more of those assassins? We need to get the Emperor out of here.” Stress bled through the Redguard’s voice.

“Here they come again!” shouted Glenroy. Jerric ran forward and saw the assassins conjure their armor and weapons. Glenroy closed with one of them, and two assassins attacked the Redguard, trying to get at the Emperor behind him. Jerric knew he would be useless with his sword against their armor. He dropped everything and tackled the nearest assassin’s legs, taking him to the ground. He saw the Redguard slash through the other assassin’s throat as he went down, then the armor of the assassin on top of him evaporated into yellow mist.

“Dammit, it’s that prisoner again! Kill him! He might be working with the assassins,” Glenroy cried. Jerric kicked and rolled away from the robed body and looked up at the two Blades standing over him with their swords dripping red. He took what he thought might be his last breath.

“No, he is not one of them. He can help us, he must.” The Emperor's voice saved him from panic. “They cannot understand why I trust you. They have not seen what I’ve seen. How can I explain?”

Jerric stood and listened. The Emperor spoke to him of the Nine and signs in the stars that foretold his death. Jerric tried to follow his meaning, but like many learned men he seemed to speak in riddles. “Sire, what is my part in this? Can you see my fate?” he asked. It felt strange to look down into the Emperor’s face.

“My dreams grant me no opinion of success. Their compass ventures not beyond the doors of death. But in your face I behold the sun’s companion. The dawn of Akatosh’s bright glory may banish the coming darkness. With such hope, and with the promise of your aid, my heart must be satisfied.”

Jerric could not doubt the Emperor, but nothing that he knew about himself could give substance to his hopes. “What will happen now?” he asked. He had no idea what he should do. The Blades were in charge, but they couldn’t agree. The Emperor was speaking in a tone that he might have used sitting safely in his chambers by the fire, yet three more assassins lay around him filling the air with the stench of their deaths.

“I go to my grave. A tongue shriller than all the music calls me. You shall follow me yet for awhile, then we must part.” The Emperor turned away and nodded to the Blades.

The Redguard had been listening while Glenroy kept a lookout, and now he stepped over and scrutinized him in a way that made Jerric feel acutely uncomfortable. He seemed to come to a decision. “Hold out your hands,” he said, and he opened the clasp on Jerric’s shackles. He could reach the magicka within him again, like remembering a name that had been just on the tip of his tongue. He raised his hand and sent a wave of healing light down his body. Belatedly he remembered Arnand's teaching, and he reached up and gingerly felt his healed but still misshapen nose. Dung heaps, he thought, now I'm stuck with it. “I’m Jerric,” he said to the Redguard.

“Baurus,” he said. “Stick close and let us do our job, and you’ll be all right.” Jerric picked up his gear and followed Baurus.

___


The men had made their way through the Sanctum and reached the entrance to the sewers. They had skirmished with assassins along the way, and Jerric had earned grudging respect from the Blades. Glenroy had let loose with his stentorian battle cry every time they were attacked, so Jerric stopped worrying that his frost spell was making too much noise.

Glenroy and Baurus had continued to argue, and Jerric had taken the time to fashion a pack he could sling over his shoulder from the robes of the dead assassins. He had fastened the sword’s scabbard and the iron dagger around his waist, and now that he had his hands free again he regretted leaving Captain Renault’s katana. Thankfully Captain Renault had been a solidly built woman and her belt was cut to fit over her armor, so it just made it around his waist. The Emperor had retreated into his own thoughts, and Jerric was not so impertinent as to try to engage him in conversation.

“Dammit! The gate is barred from the other side. It’s a trap!” Glenroy drew his sword and looked around wildly.

“What about that side passage back there?” said Baurus.

“Worth a try. Let’s go!” They moved quickly to the side passage, and Jerric took up the rear.

“It’s a dead end. What’s your call, sire?” Baurus was still calm.

Jerric heard noise back in the main corridor. “They’re behind us,” he interrupted. Fear coiled through him. They had been herded here like animals, and now they were trapped.

Baurus gave Jerric a level look. “Wait here with the Emperor. Guard him with your life.” Jerric heard their battle cries, and the two Blades were gone. He looked around the small room and made his plan. He backed the Emperor into the corner and turned toward the door to make his stand.

“I can go no further. You alone must stand against the Prince of Destruction and his mortal servants. He must not have the Amulet of Kings!” The Emperor’s voice was low and urgent, and Jerric turned back around to face him. “Take the Amulet. Give it to Jauffre. He alone knows where to find my last son. Find him, and close shut the jaws of Oblivion.” Jerric reached out with his shield arm and took the Amulet, unable to argue with the Emperor. He looked down at the great stone sparkling red over the leather grip in his filthy hand, and his heart knew that they had reached the end.

Stones tumbled down in the corner behind the Emperor, and Jerric looked up to see an assassin step from concealment. The Emperor caught Jerric with his pale blue eyes, and he seemed to stand outside of time as the assassin struck him down with his short, narrow blade. “Stranger, you picked a bad day to take up the cause of the Septims," the murderer said as he stepped over the body, and his voice was just a man’s.

Fury raced over Jerric, burning his thoughts away. He attacked the man with mindless ferocity, and it was only when he stood panting over the bodies that he fully realized that there had been two of them. He had slashed their faces until they were unrecognizable, then shredded their bodies once the armor misted away. He braced his sword arm against the stone wall and vomited. Blood dripped off his sword down onto his shoulder and shield. His hands shook and tears blinded him.

“We’ve failed. I’ve failed … the Emperor and all of his heirs are dead.” Baurus had returned, and he stood over the Emperor. His voice was soft and empty. Jerric dropped his sword and shield and walked to Baurus. He waited until the Blade looked up, then wordlessly he held out the Amulet of Kings. “He gave it to you? Strange. He saw something in you, trusted you. They say it’s the Dragon’s Blood that flows through the veins of every Septim. They see more than lesser men.”

Jerric’s head felt odd, almost light. He dropped to his knees and then slowly down to sit on the floor. His right hand found the small hole in the left side of his chest. He looked up and saw Baurus speaking, but he didn’t hear him. His gaze went to the low ceiling, and his jangled emotions quietly slipped away. His eyes began to close.

Glass against his teeth and a sour taste jerked him awake again. He was still sitting on his knees, and Baurus held a fistful of his hair while he poured a potion down his throat. He dropped the empty vial with a clatter and let go of Jerric. He stood with his hands out slightly, as if ready to catch him. Jerric blinked. “I think I almost fell asleep,” he said.

Baurus uncorked another potion and handed it to him. “These are pretty strong. Take this one, too. I got two in you while you were, ah, sleepy.” Jerric drank the potion and decided to stay on the floor for now. Baurus waited until Jerric looked up. “He must have given the Amulet to you for a reason. Did he say?”

“He said I must take it to Jauffre. He said I must find his last son, and close shut the jaws of Oblivion. Does that make any sense to you?” Jerric’s head felt clear again.

“The Amulet has power,” Baurus explained. “Only a true heir of the Blood can wear it, they say. I’ve never heard of another heir, but Jauffre would know. He’s the Grandmaster of my order, though you would not think so to meet him. He lives quietly as a monk at Weynon Priory, near Chorrol.”

Jerric nodded. He could picture the map of Cyrodiil that he had pored over since he was a child, whispering aloud the names of all the places he wanted to see. “I can find my way to Chorrol,” he said.

“First you need to get out of here. Through that door is the entrance to the sewers, past the locked gate. Take this key, and keep Captain Renault’s sword, you’ve earned it. Watch out for rats and goblins. You handle yourself well, you shouldn’t have much trouble.”

Jerric began to realize the responsibility he had taken on, and he rose to his feet. He felt fine now, strong and steady. “Baurus, I’m no soldier. Maybe there’s someone else who should do this.”

“The Emperor charged you with this himself. He trusted you, and I have to believe that his trust was well placed. I don’t know who betrayed us; it could have been one of our own. You must get the Amulet to Jauffre. I’ll stay here and make sure no one follows you. You’d better get moving.” Baurus gripped Jerric’s shoulder in farewell. “Talos guide you.”

Jerric tucked the Amulet away and entered the sewers.

___


Baurus had been right; Jerric had little trouble getting through the sewers. He stood at the open grate and looked along the long, straight drain at daylight, and then he sloshed his way through the stinking ankle-deep ooze to the end.

It was over, he was free. He blinked in the warm light, taking in gulps of fresh air and coughing out the filth and grief that lay behind him. The sun felt better on his skin than water would have felt on his cracked tongue, and every green tree seemed like its own miracle. He walked along the shore away from the sewage plume, then he dropped his gear and slipped into the clear green water of Lake Rumare. He submerged himself and created a cloudy ribbon of his own rubbing the blood and grime away. It looked clean, but he knew better than to drink lake water this close to a city.

Jerric walked back up onto the shore and looked around while the water ran off of him. Being wet had not improved the fit of his sandals. Belatedly he remembered the Amulet, but his frantic grab found it still there tied around his waist under his shirt. He saw a dock with an old boat pulled up beside it right in front of him, and across the lake were tumbled structures of white stone. A few complete arches rose gracefully above the ruin, but he guessed that his curiosity would earn him trouble if he headed in that direction.

Lightly forested hills rose up beyond the ruin, and he could see terraced fields and mountains in the distance beyond. He walked around the shoulder of the hill behind him and looked back up at the city. He looked west where he knew the Black Road would climb up to Chorrol and Weynon Priory. He could tell that he had come out of the sewer north of the city, but he wasn’t sure how far east he was. He had to decide whether to cross the lake here and take the longer path along the Red Ring Road or to follow the island’s shoreline and cross just north of Fort Nikel and Weye. In addition to the usual bandits and predators, he also had the Imperial Watch to evade for awhile. His heart lifted despite the obvious difficulties of his situation.

Motion along the shore at his feet caught his eye, and he spotted a good-sized mudcrab. He nailed it with a ball of fire and cracked it open while the steam was still hissing out. He felt starved, the rat hadn’t stayed down long enough to stick. He looked up at the late afternoon sun and blew on his scorched fingers. Close enough, he would call it lunch.

Filling his stomach made Jerric even thirstier. He looked over at the ruin. Sometimes old wells still held water, and there might even be an Ayleid Well. He scratched at the stubble on his face. His prison clothes were still torn and stained, although not so obviously now by blood. He might not attract bandits since he looked as if he’d already been beaten and left for dead. He would cross to the ruin and look for water, then follow the opposite shoreline to avoid the Legion riders as far as he could until he had to take the road where it rose up into the hills.

He didn’t want to steal someone’s boat. He gathered his gear and started swimming.
Acadian
Very nicely done! smile.gif A pleasure to read, and much to like. Jerric gives his own style to the tutorial dungeon.

“Hold out your hands,” he said, and he opened the clasp on Jerric’s shackles. He could reach the magicka within him again, like remembering a name that had been just on the tip of his tongue.'
Wonderfully put! Yay, no shackles! biggrin.gif

'The Emperor caught Jerric with his pale blue eyes, and he seemed to stand outside of time as the assassin struck him down with his short, narrow blade'
To stand outside time - magnificently said!

'Fury raced over Jerric, burning his thoughts away. He attacked the man with mindless ferocity, and it was only when he stood panting over the bodies that he fully realized that there had been two of them. He had slashed their faces until they were unrecognizable, then shredded their bodies once the armor misted away. He braced his sword arm against the stone wall and vomited. Blood dripped off his sword down onto his shoulder and shield. His hands shook and tears blinded him. ' viking.gif
The gritty real deal here. I'm not surprised that only later did he discover he had been wounded here:
'His right hand found the small hole in the left side of his chest.'

'Glass against his teeth and a sour taste jerked him awake again.'
This is one example where you 'show' us something - and we think we know you are describing a potion. Then, within a sentence or two, you confirm it for us and make us feel very clever. I think this is brilliant!

'and every green tree seemed like its own miracle.'
Aww. Lovely. happy.gif

'A few complete arches rose gracefully above the ruin, but he guessed that his curiosity would earn him trouble if he headed in that direction.'
Yes, but even here I suspected Jerric would ignore his own advice. Within a couple paragraphs, you proved me right!

'He looked up at the late afternoon sun and blew on his scorched fingers. Close enough, he would call it lunch.'
That's our Jerric. tongue.gif The most important meal of the day is the next one.

Questions on this passage:
'They had skirmished with assassins along the way, and Jerric had earned grudging respect even from Glenroy. The Imperial let loose with his stentorian battle cry every time they were attacked, so Jerric stopped worrying that his frost was making too much noise.'
1. I'm thinking the Imperial here is the Emperor?
2. I'm thinking 'his frost' refers to Jerric using frost spells (as would make good sense for a Nordic mage).
If I am right on both counts, then ignore me. If I am wrong, can you set me straight?

Nit:
'Baurus had been right, had little trouble getting through. Jerric stood at the open grate and looked . . . .'
There seems to be something missing after your first comma. Perhaps: 'Baurus had been right; Jerric had little trouble getting through the sewers. He stood at the open grate and looked. . . .'
Grits
Acadian: Thank you so much for your detailed and encouraging comments. I am so happy to be out of the dungeon! Whew.

QUOTE(Acadian @ Dec 29 2010, 08:28 PM) *

Questions on this passage:
'They had skirmished with assassins along the way, and Jerric had earned grudging respect even from Glenroy. The Imperial let loose with his stentorian battle cry every time they were attacked, so Jerric stopped worrying that his frost was making too much noise.'
1. I'm thinking the Imperial here is the Emperor?
2. I'm thinking 'his frost' refers to Jerric using frost spells (as would make good sense for a Nordic mage).
If I am right on both counts, then ignore me. If I am wrong, can you set me straight?


The Imperial is Glenroy, and that phrasing is a relic left over from when I was writing as if Jerric didn’t know their names. Eventually I just had Captain Renault address Glenroy as they come into the cell, but I wanted to have Baurus introduce himself. Glenroy looks like a Redguard but sounds like an Imperial, so it was too confusing. Thank you so much for pointing it out! I changed the passage to this:

”They had skirmished with assassins along the way, and Jerric had earned grudging respect from the Blades. Glenroy had let loose with his stentorian battle cry every time they were attacked, so Jerric stopped worrying that his frost spell was making too much noise.”

Even though the Emperor carries a sword, my vision of this scene has him accepting his imminent death, reflecting a little on his life now that he knows it’s over, and pondering when to hand over the Amulet. Shouting out battle cries and attacking the assassins is not in the picture, so I really appreciate the chance to clear that up!

Thank you for the nit, and for helping me overcome my fear of the semicolon. smile.gif I see Newton’s Third Law of Proofreading at work: every edit produces an equal and opposite edit.
mALX
Chapter 3: Part 2


I don't know how long it had been since Jerric had eaten, but there is a touch of realism to this:

QUOTE

He thought it was the best thing he had ever tasted, even with the tang of goblin blood still clinging to his fingers.


My son was among the Bradleys that led the charge into Bagdad. They outran the supply trucks and were without rations for three days when they came across a nomads tent with a small tended garden outside of it. The only thing they were growing in it was onions.

My son would never eat an onion - ever. But he pulled one from the ground and bit into it like it was an apple - and said it tasted better than a steak. When you are starving, it is surprising what you will eat, and how good it will taste to you.

QUOTE

Jerric ... felt an urgent need to get out under the sun.


Being an (obviously) outdoor type - this is such a perfect detail you have added that really shows what he is thinking and feeling as he goes through the darkened tunnels - your story is filled with these little details that are HUGE in their simplicity, but make the story come alive to the reader.

Here is another example of detail that make it all feel so real:

QUOTE

With a sinking feeling he realized that he was back at the same kind of stone chambers that he had left under the prison. Had he gone in a circle?




*


Chapter 3: Part 3


WHEW !!! What a change -


QUOTE

this is a story about a life that gets interrupted



You are doing an AWESOME job of showing that!!! I held my breath through this whole last chapter, and I know the story !!!

There were too many great places to quote, but I have to do this one:

QUOTE


He scratched at the stubble on his face. His prison clothes were still torn and stained, although not so obviously now by blood. He might not attract bandits since he looked as if he’d already been beaten and left for dead.



AWESOME WRITE !!!!!!
SubRosa
If he had caught up with the Blades he was still in the middle of trouble, but at least he was on the way out of it.
I think someone's in for a surprise!

Stress bled through the Redguard’s voice.
An excellent phrase.

yet three more assassins lay around him filling the air with the stench of their deaths.
As was this. goodjob.gif

I liked your bit of world-building, where because Jerric had not straightened out his nose before his healing spell, it healed bent. So it would be that way forever. Or at least until it gets broken again...

It looked clean, but he knew better than to drink lake water this close to a city.
This is a good touch of reality too. It would be have sewage from the city.

All in all, another good episode of the Jerric Show. I bet you feel a great sense of relief now that you are out of the prison sewers! The game's storyline there is extremely rigid, like riding on a rail. Now you will have more opportunity to stretch and add variety once more.
Grits
mALX: Thank you for sharing your son’s story about the onion – I was thinking along those lines. I don’t think a starving person would look at a rat and say yuck. Thank you so much for your comments!!

SubRosa: It is a relief to get out of the sewers. I hadn’t been able to really plan much ahead until I wrote about Jerric looking at the trees, and then I knew what I wanted to do next. I have a pretty good idea how I want healing magic to work, definitely not as simple as it is in the game! Thank you so much for your comments.

In Chapter 3 Jerric escaped from prison and swam across Lake Rumare with the Amulet of Kings and little else in his possession.



Chapter 4: All’s Well in Aleswell, Part 1


Jerric crouched behind the white stone wall and watched the two people move about their camp above the ruin. The swim across the lake had been easy, as the water was calm and nothing had risen from the green depths to chew on him. Now the sun was behind him, so he was careful not to cast a long shadow. He needed water he could drink, and he suspected he would find it convenient to this camp. He did not want to receive an arrow in his back, so he had decided to learn if these were friends or bandits before he started to crash around in the bushes. The leather-clad Dunmer female was practicing her archery by shooting at heads of lettuce along the top of a crate, and her accuracy encouraged Jerric to wait until she put down her bow before he announced himself. The Khajiit wore a leather cuirass, and he was fussing with a pot that hung over their cook fire. Jerric waited as the sun dropped lower until the Dunmer finally placed her bow with her quivers on the crate and walked over to the fire.

Charging up to a stranger with his sword drawn would certainly make him the villain. He cast his Woad spell to give him some protection in case things became unfriendly, then he stood up and stepped around the wall with his shield over his arm and his sword still in its scabbard. “Hail the camp,” he called, and he held his empty hand open and out to the side.

The Dunmer went straight for her bow, and the Khajiit picked up a mace and started toward him. Jerric ran to cut off the Dunmer, and as he went he summoned a scamp between himself and the Khajiit. He hoped that the scamp would go for the right target, he did not want to get crisped by its fire spell when he closed with the archer.

The Dunmer was fast, and she reached her bow well before Jerric reached her. He had not drawn his sword yet to give himself a little extra speed, and he cast a handful of frost at her to keep her busy while he closed the distance. He could hear the scamp and the Khajiit, but his attention was on the archer. He missed with his frost attack, but her dodge had cost her the time it would have taken to bring an arrow to nock. She held her bow out in front of her and jabbed with her arrow, but his momentum behind the leather shield pushed her to the ground. He had kept his weight low and stayed on his feet, and as she flipped nimbly onto her stomach and jabbed at him again it flashed through his mind that the arrow might be poisoned. He grabbed her hair and wrenched her head back as he slammed his heel down into her neck. He dropped her and turned toward the Khajiit.

The scamp had vanished, and the Khajiit stalked toward him with smoke rising from his scorched cuirass. His ears were flattened back, and his tail lashed the air with fury. They circled for a moment, and when the Khajiit struck with his mace, Jerric dodged and pushed it aside with his shield while he slashed at the unarmored leg. Jerric suddenly remembered that his own armor was on a wagon instead of on his person, so he quickly adjusted his thinking.

They circled some more, and Jerric aimed a clumsy thrust that missed the Khajiit’s middle. He deliberately lowered his shield as he regained his balance. A moment later he repeated the strike, and as the Khajiit raised his mace for a fatal blow, Jerric angled his blade up and thrust it in under the furry chin. The mace clipped his shield again on the way back down, but it was only falling under its weight with no strike behind it.

Jerric shook his sore arm and looked through the bandits’ camp. They seemed to have two of everything, including separate tents. They were well established in their camp, and he thought it would be unlikely for anyone else to come up there that night. He decided he could stay without worrying too much about his sleeping skull meeting a heavy object.

He went to the cook pot and lifted the lid. It looked like he would be having some kind of meat stew for dinner, and he identified carrots, onions, and potatoes in the mixture. He tasted it with the nearby spoon and corrected the seasoning with the salt he also found there ready to his hand. He picked up their water pitcher and drained it in one long, rapturous guzzle. They were not boiling any water, so he was confident that he would find a stream or well nearby.

He selected one of the bedrolls by the process of smell and covered it with a gentle cloud of frost to kill any vermin that might have found refuge there. He scooped up a plate of stew and dug through their crates and barrels while he waited for it to cool. The contents were sobering. The bolts of cloth probably came from a merchant, and the assortment of garments had clearly once belonged to a number of different people. He hoped that the former owners had simply given up their goods and gotten away with their lives. He found no armor or weapons other than a few daggers and knives that anyone might carry, and he thought that these two fetchers must have specialized in the weak and unarmed.

He found their chests locked and simply walked away from them, then he realized that the bandits probably had the keys on their bodies. They did, and he took the opportunity to drag them away from the camp to prevent scavengers, ghosts, or a dreadful creeping feeling from finding him. He stripped off their leather armor for future trade. The Khajiit’s would need some cleaning first.

When he returned to camp and looked in the chests he discovered a number of silver household items, a few books, some jewelry, and the bandits’ coin purses. He picked up the first book and found that it was titled The Battle of Sancre Tor. That sounded promising, so he tucked it under his arm. The second book was enticingly titled Mace Etiquette, and he thought it might provide him with some good advice for using his new mace. He tucked it between his knees and reached for the last well worn book, a play titled The Lusty Argonian Maid. Jerric stood reading it until the orange light reminded him that the day was ending. He helped himself to the coins and books and left the rest. Looting the bandits’ bodies didn’t bother him, but when he held the jewelry all he could think about was the pain and fear someone must have felt when they gave it up.

He headed back to the clothing with the idea that he might find something of use, but the only trousers that would fit him were made for a shorter, portly man. He found a tunic that probably came from the same unfortunate person, but instead of riding out on the other man’s belly it flapped around Jerric’s middle. At least it was clean, and it covered the Amulet where he still wore it wrapped now in a linen shirt and tied around his waist. He could have carried a bedroll in the extra space in the crotch of the trousers and they were ridiculously short, but they fit over his thighs and gave him room to move. He found no replacement for his rope prison sandals, and he cursed them as he healed the sores on his feet yet again.

When he returned to his meal he found that it had cooled too much, so he added another scoop and wolfed it down appreciatively. It didn’t even touch the sides, his Ma would say. He decided that the meat was mutton, and he silently thanked whatever shepherd was scratching his head over his loss. The bandits’ tableware and cookware were heavy iron and clay, and not very portable. After his meal he wiped the plate and silverware, then laughed at himself for keeping the dead bandits’ camp tidy. He packed up the silverware and the knife and cutting board they used for cooking into one of their packs, then he picked up the pitcher and headed down a narrow path in the grass looking for the well.

He returned to camp as the fire died and the sun slipped down. He had swallowed enough well water to almost gurgle when he walked, and he had a full pitcher for the morning. He quickly went back to the chests and took out the jewelry. On his walk he had decided that he did not have the luxury of squeamishness. It was a good distance to Weynon Priory and then home, and he was not going to get the whole way on the coins he could get for a bow and two well-used leather cuirasses. As he rolled himself into what he guessed was the Dunmer’s bed he scratched his face and regretted that a woman and a Khajiit had no use for a shaving kit. He checked the Amulet with his hand and dropped immediately into sleep.

___


The pitchers of water that he had enjoyed the night before woke Jerric well before dawn. He had found no kahve, so he made a quick breakfast of cold stew directly from the pot and prepared to get on his way in the dark. These people had no kahve, no ale, nothing much to read, and separate bedrolls. He wondered what secret joys motivated them to rise every morning, and he doubted it was the love of Khajiit mutton stew.

After a stop at the Ayleid Well he had passed the day before, Jerric made his way along the lake shore in the pre-dawn, swinging the Khajiit’s mace in his hand for fun. The moons had set, but there was enough starlight to walk by. The sound that the small waves made rolling up onto the beach kept him from straying into the water. He could hear mudcrabs in time to avoid them, so he walked along waiting for the sunrise in peace. His feet found the firm place where the grass overtook the sand, and he followed it along the shoreline. The sun rose behind him and touched his bare head like a friend. It made him think of the Emperor’s words, and then of the Emperor lying on cold stone somewhere in the Imperial City. News of his death must be racing through Tamriel on fast horses, and he imagined the grief and confusion that it would bring.

Walking in silence between the city and the road he felt very alone. It had been days since he had spoken to someone he knew, or even looked at something that was familiar. He relished the adventure, but his heart tugged him toward home. He saw the sun gleam on white stone ahead to the north, and he thought he must have almost reached the place where the Silver Road split off to Bruma and the Red Ring Road rose sharply up into the hills. He couldn’t remember the name of the ruin from his map at home, but something that big had to be it. He had to decide if he would continue along the shore or head up to the road. He stood in indecision for a moment, and the Amulet felt heavy against his waist. He decided to stick to the shoreline to avoid the ruin and the Silver Road junction, then walk up over the dunes through the lower hills and pick up the Red Road before it really started climbing.
SubRosa
I'll have another bowl of grits thank you. Ahhh, that hits the spot! smile.gif

Jerric shows excellent situational awareness, as he considers the position of the sun, and how it will cast his shadow. Another gritty battle follows, with nice touches of description, with the Khajiit's ears being pinned back.

Using a frost spell to kill lice and bedbugs on the bedroll was an especially thoughtful touch.
Acadian
I must agree with SubRosa about another bowl of Grits. tongue.gif This was a delight to read! Some excitement, camp life and path choosing. smile.gif

Alas, target identification - always a problem. Fortunately, Jerric has the stones to deal with an unhappy result, as he had to here. Speaking of fights, this one was well done. The pacing was effective, and you had a good balance of action vs what Jerric was thinking. His tactics (right down to considering his scamp's position vs field of fire) were logical and the fight was easy to follow.

You really do have a gift for interesting, clever and simply wonderful turns of phrase or descriptions that are either very Jerric, humorous or simply delightful to read. Some examples:

'His ears were flattened back, and his tail lashed the air with fury.'

'He decided he could stay without worrying too much about his sleeping skull meeting a heavy object.'

'He selected one of the bedrolls by the process of smell and covered it with a gentle cloud of frost to kill any vermin that might have found refuge there.'

'As he rolled himself into what he guessed was the Dunmer’s bed he scratched his face and regretted that a woman and a Khajiit had no use for a shaving kit.'

'His feet found the firm place where the grass overtook the sand, and he followed it along the shoreline.'

'News of his death must be racing through Tamriel on fast horses, and he imagined the grief and confusion that it would bring.'



I'm guessing from the title, where Jerric will be next. wink.gif
mALX
Acadian already quoted my favorite line, this shows the detail you add that I've never seen in any other story:

QUOTE

'He selected one of the bedrolls by the process of smell and covered it with a gentle cloud of frost to kill any vermin that might have found refuge there.



I am loving this story !!!
Jacki Dice
I love this story and I love Jerric!

QUOTE
He hoped that the former owners had simply given up their goods and gotten away with their lives.

he thought that these two fetchers must have specialized in the weak and unarmed.

when he held the jewelry all he could think about was the pain and fear someone must have felt when they gave it up.


He's got such a big heart! smile.gif
Grits
SubRosa: Thank you, SubRosa! Here’s another bowl. smile.gif

Acadian: Thank you, Acadian! I think I’ll name Chapter 5: [gives away big secret] Or not! smile.gif

mALX: I’m glad you like it, mALX! smile.gif Thank you!

Jacki Dice: I’m glad you like him Jackie Dice, here’s some more! I need to play SI so I can read your story!!





Chapter 4: All’s Well in Aleswell, Part 2


Jerric stopped in the Red Road where a path forked off and down to his left. He believed he had climbed to the place where Fort Caractacus lay below, so Aleswell must be a short distance ahead. “Caractacus,” he said out loud. “Caractacus. Aleswell. The ale is well in Aleswell.” He thought he might really worry if he started answering himself. He could hear birds calling to one another in trees to his right, and the sun was pleasantly warm on his shoulders. Still, something seemed to be awry. He looked around and had the feeling that he was not alone. Bandit ghosts passed fleetingly through his mind, but ghosts don’t sound like sheep. When he heard panting and felt a nudge against the back of his knee he yelped a little, and then he felt around in the air with his hands. He felt but still couldn’t see furry upright ears and a cold nose, and when he bent down he reassured himself that ghosts also don’t have dog breath.

“Hail little fellow,” he said in a friendly tone. “What the fetch is going on here?” The invisible dog declined to answer so Jerric straightened and continued up the road, trailed he imagined by a friendly dog and some imaginary sheep. He thought that the dog might have accidentally swallowed some enchanted item, but it seemed too much of a coincidence that a bunch of sheep had, too.

He entered a hamlet and found it to be an altogether charming and empty place. Flowers bloomed around tidy thatched houses, and the grass was cropped short in the way that is easily accomplished by just the right number of sheep. He looked over at a neatly tended garden, and he blinked at the sight of a hoe working by itself between the rows. An excess of enchanted items suddenly seemed more plausible. He opened the gate and entered the garden to get a closer look.

“Hey, do you mind not trampling my crops?” Jerric jumped at the surly voice, but at least he didn’t make a noise this time. He looked down and moved his feet.

“Hail, friend, I’m Jerric,” he said to the hoe. “Is this Aleswell?”

“Shagol gro-Bumph. I expect you have some questions. Talk to Diram in the inn. I'm tired of this minstrel's freakshow our town has turned into."

“Pleased to meet you.” It was easy to guess that the wooden two story building was the inn. Jerric walked over, but before he went inside he stepped between the trees to take in the view he had been enjoying as he climbed up the road. He could see the whole of the Imperial City with its towers and great bridges all the way across Lake Rumare, and if there had not been a haze he might have seen the thread of the Ring Road beyond. He looked around at the plains and distant mountains, and at that moment he wanted to climb every hill just to see what lay beyond it. A summer day such as this was a thing to be appreciated. His heart lifted and he took a few deep breaths before he turned to enter the inn.

He entered expecting to hear a disembodied voice, and he was not disappointed. “Excuse me. We have a small problem that we hope you can help us with. You may be wondering why you can’t see me. We are all wondering the same thing. Everyone in Aleswell suddenly became invisible several weeks ago. It was sort of fun at first, but the novelty has definitely worn off now. You can imagine how difficult it is to run an inn while invisible. Once you get a reputation as a haunted inn, you can just forget about it. So we’ve all been keeping quiet, hoping the spell will wear off. But we’re running out of patience. We’re sure it was Ancotar’s doing, but we can’t find him. If you can help us, we will be extremely grateful.”

The voice sounded highly animated, and Jerric thought that those who could not rely upon gestures or facial expressions must have to fall back on something. It made him tired just to listen to it. “Are you Diram? I’m Jerric. Who is this Ancotar?”

Jerric could imagine him nodding. “He’s a wizard who took up residence in the ruins of Fort Caractacus a couple of years ago. You passed the path down if you came from the east. He’s caused us no end of trouble with his magical experiments, but nothing as bad as this. If he’s still living at the fort he’s hiding from us, and no wonder. If you could find him and get rid of this cursed invisibility, we’d all be in your debt.”

“Fort Caractacus?” Jerric just liked to say it.

“That’s right!” Diram said brightly. “Fort Caractacus. You have a nimble tongue, sir.”

With a tremendous effort Jerric refrained from comment. He was not used to making a favorable first impression, and Diram sounded so excited and happy to see him that Jerric couldn’t bear to disappoint him. “I’ll be back,” he said, and he waved farewell to the air.

“Watch out for the invisible monsters that infest the ruins!” Diram called out cheerfully as the door closed behind Jerric.

He made his way down to the fort unmolested by monsters invisible or otherwise, and after an annoying chase through the ruins he finally cornered the invisible Ancotar and convinced him that he wasn’t trying to sell him something. He listened to a lengthy explanation of Ancotar’s magical doings and began to think he wasn’t so lonely after all. Eventually Ancotar handed over a scroll with a counter-spell, and he also gave Jerric a ring of protection against the counter-spell with instructions so vague and threatening that he almost convinced himself that he’d be better off not wearing it.

Jerric jogged back up to Aleswell just as the invisible residents were being called in for the evening meal. He stood in Shagol’s garden in the center of town wearing the copper ring, and he read Ancotar's scroll in the rosy light as the sun slipped behind the mountains. This must be one of the most pleasant spots in Cyrodiil, he thought. Shouts of joy announced his success, so he headed to the inn past the now visible sheep to join the celebration.

There was a general call to break for long neglected grooming, then the good folk of Aleswell joined together for a party that threatened to send the inn down the side of the mountain. The news of the Emperor’s death had just reached them that morning, but their deliverance from invisibility took precedence over their grief. After all the White Gold Tower was still clearly visible from behind the inn, so it seemed that the Empire hadn’t fallen. Everyone agreed that they were safe in the hands of the Elder Council, and many were prepared to drink to their wisdom.

Jerric was also ready to relax a little, and there wasn’t a man or mer in town who didn’t want to buy him something. He dined, drank, and danced with a complete disregard for safety or personal dignity. Diram offered him a free room for the rest of his life at the inn, and many offered him gear or new clothing, since he had obviously been robbed by bandits on the road and been forced to wear castoffs. An old Breton lady brought him a pair of her dead Nord husband’s well-kept leather boots, and when it was discovered that they were a decent fit, Jerric kissed her full on the mouth amid much cheering. He delightedly and ceremoniously threw his rope sandals into the fire.

When he took a break at the bar, he found himself confronted by two sour-faced Dunmeri women. If he looked beyond their obvious displeasure at everything, he found them both extremely attractive. “Whoa,” he said. He congratulated himself on his nimble tongue.

“You really enjoy this whole hero thing, don’t you? Everybody fawning all over you? Well we’re not like that.”

“I’m Jerric,” said Jerric. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Urnsi, and this is my sister Adosi.” They frowned at him. They were an island of ill feelings amid a sea of jubilation. He began to get an idea.

“Pleased to meet you. It must have been especially hard for you to be invisible for so long.” He looked from one to the other and back again. “Since you’re,” he made a sweeping up and down gesture, “You know.”

“I don’t know,” Urnsi or Adosi said crossly. “Is that some kind of hero talk, because we don’t get it.”

“I mean you’re very attractive,” he said. He leaned against the bar and his elbow slipped off. He caught himself and thought they might not have noticed, and then he realized that a fair amount of his ale had gone onto his trousers. “You must be used to getting a lot of attention. From travelers. Men,” he explained. “I mean you’re better looking than anyone else in town.” Urnsi and Adosi exchanged a look, and Jerric thought he might be on the right path. “You know,” he began, but they had him up the stairs before he could finish his thought.

In the end he retreated behind the locked door of the room Diram had given him. Urnsi and Adosi had been very demanding. He thought they were going to take turns and then pass out, but their thinking seemed to be take turns until the Nord is dead. Jerric had a new respect for all Dunmeri males.

He lay across his forever free bed and looked at the Amulet of Kings in his hand. There had been a bad moment with Urnsi and Adosi when he realized that it was still tied around his waist, but they didn’t seem to mind that he kept his flapping shirt on. He gazed into the great red stone and guessed that the Amulet had seen plenty of action, and he needn’t worry about what it had witnessed that night. He recognized that his thoughts betrayed his advanced inebriation, and he decided that if the Serethi sisters hadn’t tried to drain the life out of him, the rest of the town downstairs probably would have drowned him in alcohol. On that thought he tucked the Amulet away and went to sleep.

By mid-morning an enticing aroma coaxed Jerric from the bed. He suspected that the sun had risen that day with few on two legs awake to greet it. He gathered his things and descended to the common room where he found a number of Aleswellians nursing sore heads and sipping their kahve. He found a pile of supplies that folk had dropped off for him, and among them to his great but quietly expressed joy he found a shaving kit and small stack of very serviceable clothing left behind by some long-forgotten Nord. There was even a worn but still excellent hooded cloak that looked like it had been treated against the rain, he suspected from the old lady who said he reminded her of her late husband. He retired back upstairs to use the washbasin and outfit himself in a manner less like a jester.

He returned to his kahve and sorted through the supplies. With the extra packs he found there he was able to make a camp pack with his food, clothing, and cooking supplies; a day pack for his day’s rations, water, and potions; a shoulder bag with his alchemy supplies and plenty of room for the ingredients that he picked up as a matter of habit; and a large pack with the goods he had looted from the bandits. As he packed the items away he decided to think of it less as loot and more as salvage. He took a light metal pot and a slightly heavier skillet so that he could do some cooking, plus a metal drinking cup and every canteen and water skin that he could find. He tucked the scrolls in with his potions for ready access, and his books went into the camp pack. The bedroll got tied with the cloak and slung across his shoulders. He went outside and practiced shedding his burdens and sliding his shield on to the amusement of the local sheep. He could draw his sword in an emergency even while completely laden, though he was sure his technique would not earn him any compliments.

He left his gear in the inn and made some sprints up the hill to work the kinks out of his muscles. He could feel the difference that a few days without real exercise made, his legs wanted to run. After a breakfast of toasted bread for his sour stomach and a tall mug of Diram’s excellent ale to get his head right again, Jerric was ready to put his feet back on the road.
Acadian
Jerric's take on this familiar quest was great fun to read!

This was replete with Jerric's common sense/homespun observations. You once again show his love for the outdoors and some very clever ways of stating and understating things. Just one example of many:
'He suspected that the sun had risen that day with few on two legs awake to greet it.'

So, he is now a hero to this small settlement. About the free bed for life . . . it seems like he is going to have to earn it every times he goes upstairs to sleep? That's what he gets for wagging his nimble tongue around a pair or Dunmeri lasses. tongue.gif
SubRosa
Excellent descriptions of the hamlet (and how nice to see it is an actual settlement, rather than just three houses!). Also of the invisible sheep, and especially Jerric's meandering thoughts. All are woven together extremely well.

He was not used to making a favorable first impression
This brought more than a faint smile! smile.gif

He gazed into the great red stone and guessed that the Amulet had seen plenty of action, and he needn’t worry about what it had witnessed that night.
If only the Emperor could have foreseen this, I think he might have picked someone else! tongue.gif
Grits
Acadian: Thank you, Acadian! I love Aleswell, it was fun to give them a party. I’ve always thought that the end of that quest should result in more celebrating. I wonder how the Serethi women will treat Jerric when they haven’t been suffering from lack of attention! smile.gif

SubRosa: Thank you, SubRosa! Jerric’s wandering mind is an important part of his character to me, but I’m never sure if I’ve put too much in or made it break up things too much. I can hear the Emperor’s thinking: Hmm, big and strong, but led by his Johnson. Nope, I’ll give it to the stringy Bosmer. smile.gif

I’m wondering how I’m doing with post length / chapters. How long is too long, and what makes a chapter? For Chapter 4 the bandit camp in Part1 really has nothing to do with Aleswell in Part 2, I don’t have a reason why I put them together. I appreciate any advice!!



Chapter 5: Unloading the Amulet, Part 1

Jerric stood on the Black and Orange Road junction and watched his new friends walk away east. He had met the group of Bretons days ago and introduced himself when it became evident that they were all travelling north toward Chorrol. When darkness fell the three families invited him to camp with them and walk together for the rest of their journey for safety. They moved at the pace of the group’s smallest members, so it had taken them four days in beautiful weather to make the peaceful climb through the Great Forest. He had shown the children how to help him gather ingredients for his alchemy as they walked, and they taught him various handclapping games and how to whistle through his thumbs with a blade of grass. Now the little ones walked backward waving and calling to him as they went to make new homes in a settlement he had never heard of in the Colovian Highlands. He raised his arm in farewell and hoped that some day he would get to see them again. He had told them on the first day that he was going to Chorrol, and now he didn’t want them to see him turn back to the Priory and make it a lie.

He considered his options. He was anxious to get the Amulet to Brother Jauffre and head home. Everyone would be gathering to celebrate his Ma's birthday, and he didn't want to miss it. He needed to pick up her gift first at the Mages Guild, he was sure it would be ready by now. It had cost him a fortune to have it enchanted, but since he spent most of his earnings on training, fines, and women, he thought he wouldn’t miss the coin. Besides, he would give up anything to see his Ma feeling better again. Also he wanted a conversation with Rothmund.

On the other hand he had a pack full of salvage to sell, and he needed provisions. Plus the Amulet was likely to bring up all kinds of questions about Jerric's role in events, and he had found that military types like law enforcement were naturally suspicious. Baurus had heard the Emperor speak to Jerric, but Jauffre might not be so quick to share the Emperor’s trust. The interview might end with Jerric actively avoiding imprisonment, and he would be faster if his pack held coins and sandwiches instead of bandit armor.

It was too much to think about on an empty stomach, so Jerric continued up the road toward Chorrol. The road was busy with all kinds of folk, and he walked with the crowd through the open South Gate where he stopped and caught his breath. Wide stone streets, large attractive buildings, and plenty of greenery met his eyes, but he looked up over all of them in wonder at the snow-covered mountains that rose beyond the city. Even the lofty spire of the Chapel seemed humbled by their presence.

“Can I help you?” asked one of the gate guards, and Jerric realized that he was blocking traffic. He stepped over to the side and asked for directions. Two of the city’s inns were within sight, and he walked over to the more modest looking of them. The sign informed him that he had reached The Grey Mare, and its unassuming wooden exterior told him that a travel worn Nord might be welcome there. The delicious smell of something baking seized him by the stomach, so he entered and found an empty table. He leaned his shield against the wall and began to unencumber himself.

A dark haired male Bosmer heckled him from across the room. "Oh great, another big blonde with a blade. Just what Cyrodiil needs. You're not from around here, are you, square-head?" Jerric slung his loot bag over the back of a chair and thunked his camp pack onto the seat. His day pack went over the back of the chair on the other side. The Bosmer hopped down from his seat and moved toward Jerric's table. "Hey, I'm talking to you, knuckle-dragger." Jerric slid his bed roll off onto the floor. He looked the mer over and didn’t see a blade. He was in the mood for a scuffle, but a knife fight could spoil a whole day. "What brings you to Chorrol, flat-face? Do all of the sheep in Skyrim recognize you?" The Bosmer didn't let up.

Jerric's movements had become slower and more deliberate the longer the wood elf badgered him. He laid his sword, mace, and dagger across the table with exquisite care and stepped away from them, and then he stared down at the Bosmer. "Do you have a death wish, little mer?"

The Bosmer answered by leaping onto Jerric with a shriek. He clambered around to Jerric's back and hooked his heels together around his waist. His arm went around Jerric's throat, quick as a snake. Jerric staggered and grabbed the Bosmer's arm. He turned his head to get a breath, but the Bosmer used the motion to sink his hold even deeper.

Roaring filled Jerric's ears, and his vision began to fade. He tried to flip him forward over his head, but the Bosmer's legs wouldn't let him bend. Jerric couldn't think of a plan. He simply tucked his chin into the Bosmer's elbow and crashed over backward onto him, glancing off of a table on the way to the floor.

When his vision cleared Jerric scrambled to his knees and clutched the little Bosmer, deciding whether to throttle or heal him. The wood elf was pale and still, but when Jerric licked the inside of his wrist and held it over the Bosmer's lips he felt the tickle of breath. Jerric realized that the inn had fallen silent but for the dripping of spilled ale, and he looked up.

A Chorrol Guardsman had entered, and he stood viewing the scene with his fingertips resting on his sword hilt. "Is there a problem, citizen?" he asked Jerric in a neutral tone.

Jerric shifted his grip on the Bosmer to appear more solicitous. "I uh, toppled over, and my friend here was good enough to break my fall," Jerric explained. Now that he thought about it, this was not a good time to get arrested. He smiled at the guard nervously. "Heh, clumsy," he added.

"Drunk and disorderly is no way to spend your time in this fair city, lad," the guard stated. "If you don't believe me, we can see if a visit to the prison changes your mind."

"There's no need, sir," Jerric said hastily. "Besides, I haven't had time to get to that first part yet."

The guard gave him a humorless glare, and Jerric mentally cursed his fool tongue. The other patrons had abandoned their attempts to look busy and seemed to be enjoying the entertainment. "This isn't Bruma," the guard told him. "I won't repeat myself." With a level glare all around, the guard left the inn.

What does he think I did in Bruma, Jerric wondered. I’ve never even been there. The Bosmer opened his eyes, and his expression was blank. Jerric stood and placed the elf on his feet in one smooth motion and took a step back. "I'm Jerric," he said to the Bosmer.

"Maglir," the Bosmer said warily.

"Pleased to meet you." Jerric smiled. "Now show me that thing you did."

Jerric and Maglir righted the mess they had made, and then they went behind the inn and spent some time rolling on the grass. Jerric went back inside with an improved understanding of leverage and a considerable number of grass stains on his clothing. He glanced over to see that his gear was still in place, and then he approached Emfrid, the Nord publican. He had introduced himself when he apologized earlier and asked for a mop, but now he felt he could spare the attention to appreciate her.

Emfrid possessed a cool, ethereal beauty that was somehow not at odds with her plain dress and capable appearance. She had the strong forearms of a baker, and she wore her blonde hair smoothed back and secured with a narrow braid in a style that he admired. Jerric enjoyed a thick-figured woman, but Emfrid was tall and trim in the way he liked best. He saw no spark of interest in her expression when he approached her, so he attempted to match her reserve. Despite his effort, even he could hear the warmth in his tone when he ordered his meal and a drink. At least he was able to keep from openly ogling her. He supposed that he need not wonder why he was such a dismal card player.

Maglir retrieved his mug and hopped up next to Jerric. “You should join the Fighters Guild,” he said, continuing the conversation he had started outside. “They’ll put a roof over your head and coin in your pocket, and you’ll never lack for someone to drink with.”

Jerric hadn’t noticed anyone drinking with Maglir. “I have a job that keeps me busy, plus a Guild membership that eats up a lot of my free time. Thanks, though.”

Maglir nodded at Jerric’s thick, scarred hands. “Let me guess, Weavers Guild?” and they both had a laugh about that. “If you change your mind, talk to Vilena Donton here in Chorrol. I’m assigned to Skingrad, but you can’t join there.”

“I’ve trained some at the Guild in Anvil, but they keep their advanced trainers for Guild members only. I’d love to train with Rhano, do you know him? I learned more watching him spar than I did all morning in training.”

“Never been to Anvil. Join the Guild, Jerric. We’re always looking for new members. You don’t have to take contracts, just when you want to. Sleep and eat for free, then get a contract walking some mage to the library and, ha ha, payday!” Maglir chortled and clunked his mug against Jerric’s. “I have to go look busy. It’ll be back to Skingrad for me soon, I finished my contract and now I’m just riding it out until they notice.” He downed the rest of his drink and trotted toward the door. “Maybe I’ll see you at the Guild some day!”

“Maglir!” Jerric called after him. “Why did you jump on me?”

Maglir’s slanty eyes squinted away to nothing when he grinned. “I didn’t like the way you look. Still don’t, ha ha!” and he was out the door.

Emfrid brought Jerric a plate of ham and baked apples with a hot slice of crusty bread and a small pot of honey. He stayed at the bar for his meal in the hope that she would talk to him, and he was not disappointed. “In Chorrol, we don't think much about what goes on in the Imperial Palace. But these murders... the emperor and all his sons dead... what's next?” she said. Jerric wanted to keep a positive tone, so he asked her what he should know about Chorrol. “The Captain of the castle guard is a Nord,” she told him. “Bittneld the Curse-Bringer. He seems like such a nice fellow. Too bad I don't see him in here very much.”

A grey-haired Imperial man pulled up a stool and set his ale next to Jerric. He was neatly dressed and average in his appearance. The most notable thing about him was the beautifully worked hilt of the sword he was carrying. Jerric thought he would like very much to see the blade. "Hello, my name is Valus Odiil,” the Imperial said. “You haven't seen my sons, have you? They went off to our farm to fight those monsters, and I'm worried about them. You may have passed them on the road, Rallus and Antus.”

Jerric had passed a lot of Imperials on the road. “I’m Jerric, pleased to meet you. I’m sorry, I don’t know if I passed them.”

“They're going to fight off the creatures at our farm down the road from Weynon Priory. The creatures have been attacking us every evening for several days from someplace in the Great Forest. So far they haven’t been able to break into our house, but my boys are resolved to fight these beasts, even if the guards won't. Doesn't matter if it's outside the town walls - it still affects us all. I fear for their safety.”

Jerric didn’t need to look at Emfrid to know that her eyes were on him. “What kind of creatures? Are they animals, or something on two legs? Do they carry weapons?”

Valus described them, and Jerric decided that they sounded like goblins. Valus kept talking. “They expect me to fight with them, but I fear in my old age, I'm not the warrior I once was. Would you... would you go in my place?"

Jerric sighed. He knew he might as well agree now instead of heading down the road and then coming back, but he needed to complete his errand for Baurus first. “I’ll meet you at your farm tomorrow afternoon, if I can. I have business here in Chorrol to finish.” He wondered fleetingly if the Imperial had used his Voice of the Emperor to charm him.

“Somehow I knew you'd do the right thing. I'm supposed to meet them at the farm, and I think I can hold them off until tomorrow. I do hope you can get there in time. I... I need a drink to calm my nerves. Please, excuse me.” When Valus paid for his next ale he also picked up the tab for Jerric’s meal, and Jerric hoped that he wouldn’t end up paying him back with his own blood. He looked across his empty plate at Emfrid and thought how grateful he was for brothels. He had never been tempted to risk his life to impress a prostitute, mostly because he was convinced that it wasn’t possible. “Thank you, Emfrid, the meal was delicious.” She nodded coolly and took his plate, and he sighed again.

As he was gathering his gear, she approached him with a small package. “Pumpkin bread fresh out of the oven, to help you keep your strength up on the road. I’ll be waiting to hear the news from Valus, Jerric.” He tucked the warm loaf into his day pack with a smile at her and headed out to trade some weight for coin.

He wandered through Chorrol completing his errands and enjoying the cool mountain air. He found Chorrol to be a clean, peaceful, and beautiful city. Rasheda at Fire and Steel had been so pleased with their trade that she offered him some free advice on repairing his gear. Upon reflection he decided that he should probably get some training in the art of negotiation. He met Dar-Ma the prettiest Argonian he had ever seen when he was gawking at the Great Oak, and she turned out to be as charming and sweet as her appearance suggested. He took her advice and swapped the rest of his salvage for provisions at her mother’s store. Even the Watch with their oak-embellished surcoats sounded pleasant when they offered the greetings that also served as a reminder that they were watching him. He decided that Chorrol was a place to which he would someday gladly return.

He noted the fading light and checked his coin purse. While his habit might be to seek out a bath and a brothel, his means suggested a bath and a book. He found the bookstore, then the bathhouse, and then he entered the Chorrol Mages Guild.

His nose told him that there would be venison on the table, and he found it accompanied by roasted potatoes and carrots, a great vat of gravy, dressing made of cubed bread mixed with herbs and chopped onions, a bowl of corn kernels that looked like they had been cooked in butter, mashed pumpkin, and enough bread that each diner could have his own loaf. He wondered if he had stumbled upon some local feast day, but when he looked around the table and noticed that his companions were all men of more than average girth, he understood.

Jerric sat next to Teekeeus the chapter head, and he found his conversation comfortable and interesting. He had never had an Argonian friend, and he hoped that Teekeeus thought well of him. When Teekeeus asked if he would like to earn a recommendation to the Arcane University, Jerric genuinely regretted that he didn’t have the time to spend. He and Teekeeus went through Jerric’s alchemy supplies after dinner, and they came up with a trade that provided Jerric with essential potions to restore his magicka and supplied Teekeeus with enough monkshood root pulp to keep him out of the Great Forest for a long time. The Chorrol chapter did not seem to have the number of students and junior members that the Anvil chapter had to do its drudge work and errands.

He did some laundry and hung his linens to dry by the fire, happy that he was alone in the common quarters and didn’t need to apologize for the disarray. The feather bed cradled him in comfort, and he fell asleep thinking that while his nights indoors were sweet, the ones out under a clear sky were even sweeter.
SubRosa
My chapters are usually from 10k-15k words long. When I write, I do an entire chapter at a time. When I am finished I break it up into separate posts of about 1,000 - 2,000 words each, as that seems to be an easily digestible amount for a forum. Usually one entire scene. If I have a scene going longer than that I look for a place in the middle where I can break it into separate posts. Sometimes it can be hard to find a place to break however, and they go longer.

As far as what goes in a chapter, I generally try to keep it a self-contained, miniature story. So it should have an introduction of what is going on, a middle where there is conflict, and finally an ending with a resolution. Oftentimes however I find myself working things in that are unrelated to the overall plot of the chapter, simply because those events are happening at that time.

For example, most of the Last King of the Ayleids was about Teresa finding a tutor in Ayleid history, and the knowledge she obtained. However, I tacked on a few extra scenes at the beginning. One showing Teresa making a deposit at the temple, and the other talking to Simplicia about her love life. Those two scenes were unrelated to the rest of the chapter, but I felt were necessary for the story overall. So I had to put them somewhere. Making each their own chapter felt like underkill, as they were only about 1.5k words each.

Do all of the sheep in Skyrim recognize you?
Zing! That was a good one!

and then they went behind the inn and spent some time rolling on the grass.
Hubba hubba! I did not realize Jerric rolled that way. hawt! wink.gif

A fun encounter with Maglir, showing both what a slacker he is, and that he is at least a bit unhinged as well. I expect this means we will be seeing him in the future?

I see Jerric is also going to go goblin-fighting in the near future. Poor man has not even been to Weynon yet, and already people are haranguing him to fight their battles!


nits:
Plus the Amulet was likely to bring up all kinds of questions about Jerric's roll in events
I think Jerric slipped a Kaiser roll in for dinner there instead of a role to play. wink.gif
Acadian
I completely echo SubRosa's comments, both on post length and her observations on Jerric's visit to Chorrol.

Jerric's trip to get there was uniquely interesting, and his interaction with Maglir was fun.

'The guard gave him a humorless glare, and Jerric mentally cursed his fool tongue.'
Last time it was Jerric's nimble tongue that got him into trouble. I hope it is not a sharp tongue that he falls victim to next. tongue.gif

'Jerric hadn’t noticed anyone drinking with Maglir.'
Great example of Jerric's command of common sense observation.

'He tucked the warm loaf into his day pack with a smile at her and headed out to trade some weight for coin.'
A delightfully phrased sentence. Almost whimsical in its pleasing clarity and cleverness.

Plenty of hints here for possible entries on Jerric's dance card, including Chillrend, Boots of the Crusader, Dar-Ma, his mother's birthday and of course, Jauffre. Whew! It seems he is at least ruling out the Fighters Guild and admission to the University for now.

A delightful meal at The Gray Mare, some yummy pumpkin bread and a veritable feast at the local mages guildhall. Yum!

Nits? Well maybe. It seems that you may still sometimes get captured by long multi-clause run-on sentences. Take a deep breath, read these and see if you might agree that breaking things into shorter, crisper sentences might be better?

He had talked to the older men and stayed far away from the young women, and when darkness fell the three families invited him to camp with them and walk together for the rest of their journey for safety.

He had absorbed the magicka when he sought out a blessing at the Chapel of Stendarr, and he had viewed the Gauntlets of the Crusader there on the floor and heard their story from an Altmer whose expression hinted that he could smell something foul.

Winter Wolf
Wow, this is a fantastic volume of writing that you have produced in a month. Please keep it going. smile.gif

The forums are very quiet with this being the year end, but your writing does deserve a strong audience- it is very good. I havent had the chance to plunge into the depth of the characters, so please excuse me while I head back to chapter 1.

I shall be back.
mALX
Maglir in his cups was hilarious, especially since he is such a wimp outside the bar - loved that! A detail I loved was the part about Odill using the "Voice of the Emperor" - The dialogue for that quest should include being able to tell Odill off for his cowardice in sending his boys alone because he is afraid - the reason Jerric didn't would have been the spell effect - huge detail I have never seen given on that quest in other fanfics - you ROCKED that !!!
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