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Lena Wolf
Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum - just moved from Bethesda.net which is closing. I have been writing Lena's story for the past half a year or so, she travels in Cyrodiil and Skyrim, does stuff and lives her life. This is not a novel - it has a beginning but no end, until she dies, which is hopefully not for a long while yet. It is a saga, a feuilleton - as they used to say in the old days - the story develops as it is being written, bit by bit. I hope you like it.

I have more than a hundred entries written already, so I am not going to repost them all here, unless you really want me to. They are all published in my blog: MasserAndSecunda.wordpress.com which I started as a way to keep track of things for myself and keep everything in one place.

I shall now repost a few of those entries here, so as to introduce you to the characters and some key points that get referred to later on.

The running story takes place in the 4th Era, taking off in year 4E201. I had to twist the arm of the lore a bit to correct false accounts on a few things that allegedly took place in the 200 years since the Oblivion Crisis. But we all know how easily false accounts become "historical thruths", so I have no qualms about that. 😀 And yes, a lot of people that Lena met back in the day, were still around 200 years later. Considering how much mixing has been going on in Cyrodiil between men and mer for thousands of years, most people have some Elven blood in them, so the question of life span becomes rather academic.

Thank you for reading and I hope to engage with you all! You'll see me around - and I'll be reading so many good stories that people have posted here!

Yours -
Lena Wolf

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I am Lena Wolf. I was born on the 17th of Sun's Height, 3E417, in Cyrodiil to a Breton mother, and therefore was declared Breton. I have never been to High Rock, so when Hadvar promised to inform High Rock of my execution in Helgen later on, it made no sense at all. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. When I was 4 years old, my mother died of swamp fever, and our Argonian neighbour took me in. She was old already then, so we called her Gran. Gran always hinted that my unknown father was not unknown at all, just that it was best to keep it quiet until time comes. Time for what? Who knows. Wait and see.

As I turned 16, Gran got older still, and one day said there was something very important that she had to impart to me before her passing. She still couldn't name my father, but, she said, when the time was right, I should go to Skyrim to find out. How was I to know when that would be? Oh, not for a while yet, not for a long while. And she died.

Freedom at 16 proved exhilarating at first and cold and hungry soon after. Having tried this and that without much success and having had enough of goblins stealing my sweetrolls, I walked into Bravil's Mages Guild hoping to steal one of theirs. Instead, I found myself being thrust at a dinner table and loaded with all sorts of food, sweetrolls included. The mages took me in, taught me magic towards which I appeared to be inclined, taught me alchemy for the body, soul and enemies, and gave me a reason to venture into the caves in search of wisp stalks. The guards kept joking seeing me returning from my expeditions with yet another rusty sword or piece of armour, but the local smith fixed them up for me and taught me a few moves. Finally the goblins were getting their come-uppence!

Fighters Guild was not for me. Yes, I dealt with the headmistress's son in Chorrol and with the cowardly elf in Skingrad, and yes, the lich took some effort and lots of Freds to defeat, but I got bored with the routine and sort of quit. Well, got busy elsewhere. Free-lancing with Dark Brotherhood proved infinitely more fun, they didn't mind my vampirism, and Oblivion gates needed taking care of, too.

That disaster sorted, life got back to normal. Of course by then I found a cure for vampirism and joined the Arcane University, right on cue to face the King of Worms. Fortunately, Uncle Sheo decided to look in on us right about then, and the Shivering Isles provided a spot of sanity in a world gone mad. I still spend every autumn there.

So what do I do these days? I live. I potter about. I keep my home free from goblins and rats. I roast dreugh for dinner. I occasionally take a contract for another Ayleid sculpture or another bag of Welkynd stones. There's always a lich in someone's basement or a bunch of scamps needing a good home. And one day I'll go to Skyrim to find that important thing, but the time hasn't come yet.

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28 Last Seed, 3E433 – Lena’s Story begins

Lena Wolf's story begins at 16. Being quite young and still inexperienced, that last sweetroll she stole finally landed her in the Imperial Prison, and the story of the Oblivion Crisis was set in motion.

Everyone knows how that went, so we'll skip the details. Lena delivered the Amulet of Kings and was sent to Kvatch to fetch Martin, but went to Bravil first, stopped by the Mages Guild there hoping for a sweetroll that wouldn't land her back in Imperial Prison, got caught by the mages, but not handed over to the guard but fed and accepted into the guild instead... And what with one thing and another, she got completely side tracked by everything happening at once, including closing many Oblivion gates and fighting necromancers and vampires. She didn't realise what the Porphyric Hemophilia thing was until one morning she woke up a vampire herself! The mages still treated her well like before and she could progress in the guild, but the Fighters Guild wouldn't even talk to her - "We don't want your sort here!" The same with most merchants, but not all - for example the chap at the Main Ingredient in the Imperial City wasn't afraid at all and traded as normal, so we always shop there whenever we're in town.

Lena must have killed some non-bandit by mistake because Lucien turned up at night, and there of course at the Sanctuary she met another vampire and no one was bothered by her occasional feeding (although she usually didn't feed on guild members but rather on beggars and often went hungry as it came with benefits, not just curses). So eventually she progressed far enough in the Mages Guild that the Count of Skingrad hinted that perhaps they could help each other...

By the time she cured her vampirism and got to finally ousting Mehrunes Degon out of Cyrodiil, nearly 3.5 years have passed, bringing it to Sun's Dawn 3E437. The 3rd Era was coming to an end. Then Uncle Sheo decided to look in, and a mad prophet turned up in Anvil.

The Oblivion Crisis affair had her run around a lot and win a prestigious title, and I guess she should carry that title with pride, but in truth she'd rather forget about the whole thing, as well as Martin's panicked reaction there. Some Emperor he turned out to be! Perhaps it's true that you need to grow up as one.

With the Dark Brotherhood she advanced rather far, although not quite to the top. She only joined because Lucien said that being a vampire was fine and also he knew her mother. He probably lied about that, but who knows. She didn't mind the work, I guess she is not a do-gooder. So she wasn't even considering questing for the Knights of The Nine and simply killed the prophet. Oops! He, err, ate something rotten, it appears.

But the one title she enjoyed was that of Lord Sheogorath. What fun we had! Sanguine practically moved in to the New Sheoth palace, and Hircine had the time of his life running around the countryside chasing Gnarls. Why, even Vermina melted seeing the whole population of Dementia having nightmares all on their own. Meridia of course had to lecture everyone on their lack of virtue, so we sent her packing. But then Sheo himself returned, and in his usual charming manner first joined in and then kicked everyone out, Lena included. Jygg messed up his head, I'm telling you.

As for the Thieves Guild, Lena declined their every invitation. She's no thief. Gosh, I think I found a virtue!

The 4th Era saw Lena venturing out again, from now on always avoiding to deliver any suspicious amulets, and being watchful of the Hemophilia thingy. She had plenty of dealings with daedra - no, the closure of the Oblivion Crisis did not in fact prevent the daedra from entering the Mundus in the future, but it did cool things off a bit.

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12 First Seed, 4E195 - Flotsam

Lena Wolf returned from her stay in the Shivering Isles only to find that nearly 200 years had passed in Mundus in the meantime. She was no longer a "current" citizen, having missed the census for so long, and all her property had been repossessed by the Empire. Even her Mages Guild membership had been revoked. This was more than upsetting, and Lena boarded the first ship out of Anvil. It was bound for the Northern Realms.

The Northern Realms were kingdoms on the other side of the Great Maelstrom of the Middle Ocean. The journey was long and perilous, and even time itself was said to dilate along the way. People rarely made the journey more than once in their lifetimes, except for the ship's crew of course. Those sailors were tough, and inspired confidence. Lena was leaving.

The Northern Realms were at war. A constant war with each other and with the Southern kingdoms where Nilfgaard was building an empire. This had been going on for so long - for centuries - that people mostly ignored it, except when the menfolk got drafted to fight for the current king. The people still kept to the old country names, paying no heed to the king in charge.

Lena found herself in a small border town named Flotsam. It was a port on a major river and proved as refined as its name suggested. But the town had no resident healer, and Lena saw an opportunity. Her skills in magic and alchemy could be put to a good use, and with the help of a local herbalist she updated her herb knowledge and opened a practice.

Despite all odds, life in Flotsam proved quiet and largely uneventful. Trade flourished and there was no shortage of work for a healer. One day an old witcher walked in, badly wounded, looking to buy some herbs.

"I can't let you go anywhere" - was Lena's response. "I've got a bed free, you need to rest."

But despite Lena's best efforts augmented with the witcher's special potions, the witcher was not recovering. His wolf medallion kept buzzing - magic or danger, it was both, and he was dying.

The old man knew something though, or had seen something. He gave Lena his medallion and said that she should search for a white wolf with the same sort of trinket, and that it would make her complete once she found him. And then the old witcher died.

Wait, didn't we hear such a story before? First her Argonian grandmother telling her on her deathbed to search for something extremely important in Skyrim, and now this story about a medallion-wearing wolf?

But one day at the market Lena bumped into a fellow with white hair, and a shiver went down her spine. Yep, he wasn't looking where he was going and got her with the tip of his enchanted sword. A few choice recommendations were ready to roll off Lena's tongue when she spotted a wolf medallion around the fellow's neck. So, instead of giving him a piece of her mind, she politely enquired whether Master Witcher would be good enough to stop by her practice after hours because she needed his expert advice on a small, ah, matter. Flattery will get you everywhere, and come evening, the White Wolf turned up at her house.

"I am Geralt of Rivia - at your service."

Recalling the words of the old witcher, Lena was expecting a certain turn of events that would make her complete, at least for the night. But boy was she mistaken. The shiver that went down her spine back at the market, wasn't from any sword enchantment - it was her wolf medallion buzzing like mad near Geralt (Lena took to wearing the medallion because it went with her last name so nicely). The old witcher had re-enchanted the amulet with her essence, so it responded quite violently to another being with a similar essence. Lena and Geralt were related.

Having talked through most of the night, they got through a lot of Cyrodillic Brandy and Argonian Bloodwine, and having eliminated the impossible, the only remaining conclusion, no matter how far-fetched, was that they must be siblings. Having given up her first child with the unknown but obviously important Nord, Lena's mother kept the second child, and swore to raise her daughter in ignorance of the great heritage that made her son into the White Wolf and hoping that the little girl would be spared world-shattering responsibilities. Ha!

Since that chance meeting in Flotsam, Lena and Geralt never really lost sight of each other, although never paraded their connection either. As both of them were in the habit of regularly freaking out local world leaders, church heads and powerful sorcerers, it seemed prudent not to aggravate matters too much.

Geralt got embroiled in local politics despite his best judgement, then the war broke out for real with the Nilfgardian Empire invading the North. Death and destitution was everywhere. Lena made her way to Novigrad and boarded a ship back to Cyrodiil.

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Hauk Serc-Hanssen

Iver and Hauk Serc-Hanssen were twins born under The Lord on 21 First Seed 4E151. They were Nords, and as such were expected to become warriors. Nords value their traditions, and Nords living in Cyrodiil do so even more, although admittedly many of them have taken in too much of the mildness of Nibenay to be called sons and daughters of Skyrim. So when the boys started showing above average abilities in magic, their parents blamed the very soil of Cyrodiil for "mellowing" their children. The Serc-Hanssens were definitively the Nord sons of Cyrodiil.

"Well, if they are going to be mages, let them be battlemages at least" - was their father's verdict. And the boys were enrolled into education with the Mages Guild as well as training with the Legion.

At twenty, Iver and Hauk had joined both the Arcane University and the Imperial Legion, and have completed their Battlemage training. Then the Great War broke out. Iver was drafted into regular forces, but Hauk was sent to Skyrim to a special unit - scouts, messengers, liaisons, logistics, that sort of thing. At least, this was the official designation.

Nobody knows what that unit actually did in Skyrim, and those who know will never tell, so it's safe to assume they were maintaining a covert front behind the enemy lines. The unit wasn't large, so it was easy to disperse it without a trace after the war. Some even claim that the unit never existed - after all, Hauk had been seen on the front lines of many official campaigns... or was that Iver? Who could tell! They were twins, after all...

After the war, Iver and Hauk left active service with the Legion and returned to the Mages Guild, doing smaller assignments, training new apprentices, and generally settling back into a civilian life style. Iver got busy with the Guild and the University, while Hauk... well... Hauk kept disappearing from time to time, for several weeks or even months on end, then suddenly coming back looking like he had spent all this time outdoors and in cold water. Hauk looked out of place among mages that never left the comforts and security of the walls of the Imperial City, so he left his Mage's Staff and a few other important things with Iver at the University and joined the Legion again. Or had he ever left?

Years later, when Travis became the Arch Mage and banned necromancy, Hauk got into an argument regarding limiting the types of spells available to battlemages - the "code of conduct" was Travis' idea and Hauk disagreed. But arguments with the Arch Mage are doomed to failure, so not wanting to be banished from the Guild altogether, Hauk boarded a ship to Antaloor and was gone for several years - enough time to cool things off. Upon his return he was made to understand that although formally he would still remain a Mages Guild Evoker, he did not need to expect any assignments or promotions from the Guild.

At 50, Hauk found himself bored with nothing to do, and no family to take care of. Neither he nor Iver ever married, but Iver was still busy with the University and with the Guild, while Hauk... he wasn't exactly too old for the Legion, but there were no wars going on, apart from the usual regional conflicts that were as repetitive as they were pointless. Would he be interested in training up some recruits? No, thank you. Well, then... exactly. They had nothing of interest for him either.

One day Hauk stopped by the Arcane University to see Iver when he spotted a new member - a new apprentice, he was told. She didn't look new, she looked like she had done it all before and was simply going through the motions. She was also making some custom spells that were much too complex for a new apprentice. Who was she? Things didn't add up.

A few enquiries with the older members of the Guild made it very clear that whoever she was, Lena Wolf was not a novice and not a youngster, despite her youthful appearance. There was mystery there, some darkness perhaps, but Hauk was not a shiny new penny either. Lena was muttering to herself about doing some adventuring to raise funds for a house... raiding some Ayleid ruins in search of ancient statues and Welkynd stones... doing some contracts for the Fighters Guild - the sorts of things that "regular" warriors would rather avoid, like fighting liches and wraiths... What fun! Hauk would introduce himself and offer to join her. Let the new life begin.

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5 Sun's Dusk, 4E201 - Lena and Hauk meet

Skyrim can wait. Back in Cyrodiil Lena still has a lot to do. She needs to get back her house in Bravil which got repossessed by the county under the feeble excuse that Lena had been absent for a couple of centuries. So what! She had business in the Shivering Isles - time passes differently there, and longevity is not an issue for a vampire anyway... ex-vampire... What does it matter?!

The house got taken, and there's nothing left to do but to buy it again. Which requires funds, which in turn requires some serious adventuring.

Thinking these serious thoughts, and possibly muttering to herself, Lena spent some time at the Arcane University making custom spells and picking ingredients in that lovely garden of theirs, as well as shopping in the Market District. There, quite absent-mindedly, she bumped into something shiny. Looking up and shielding her eyes, she realised that she was looking at a highly polished suit of steel armour, probably the best looking steel armour in the whole of Tamriel. Inside it was a tall Nord on the better side of 40.

Hauk Serck-Hanssen was a Mages Guild battlemage, currently doing what all soldiers do in peace times - nothing. Hauk was a Mages Guid Evoker, just like his twin brother Iver (who insisted on dropping his last name out of false sense of modesty), but unlike Iver, Hauk was not a "proper" battlemage. "It doesn't become a battlemage to meddle with schools of Illusion or Conjuration - such mind-altering magic is for vampires and necromancers!" - you'd think Arch Mage Travis would have outlawed those schools along with Necromancy, given half a chance. Hauk took no notice of this new order of decent behaviour, and as a result his assignments became far and few between.

Picking up Lena's muttering about "needing to raid a few Ayleid ruins for Welkynd stones" and "going goblin hunting in Skingrad County", he put on his most gallant expression and introduced himself - "On behalf of the battlemages, may I welcome you to the Arcane University--" and then cleverly did not say "Recruit" or "Apprentice". Because this is not how you get into the good books of a young and pretty Breton who somehow does not seem to be in her early 20s as her looks might suggest.

But instead: "Can I be of some assistance on the goblin hunt, not that you would need any, of course?"

Why, what do you know! Adventuring with a friend is so much more fun! Lena's University life just got more interesting.

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24 Sun's Dusk, 4E201 - Dragons - The White Wolf

Later at Olav's the conversation was light, both Lena and Hauk avoiding the topic of dragons. Then Hauk could avoid it no longer.

"Tell me about the dragons in Skyrim."

"Well, there isn't that much to tell. I went over the border about a month ago - just before we met, in fact. You've heard about the Skyrim bandits that used to terrorise the border regions, well, I read they were finally defeated - again, so probably not for the last time. But it was safe to cross just then. My adoptive grandmother told me on her death bed that there was something important I had to do in Skyrim, but I never knew what. To do or to see or to find out - that was all unclear. I've been to Skyrim before a few times and nothing particularly important happened, so I didn't think this time would be any different.

"But this time it started strange and it continued even stranger, which is why I returned to Cyrodiil within a week.

"Firstly, as I was crossing the border, I got arrested by the Imperial Legion and sentenced to beheading - although they admitted that I was not on the list."

"That sounds a bit harsh!" Hauk interjected, although he could believe it perfectly. "Did they at least know what you've supposedly done?"

"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was captured together with Ulfrick Stormcloack - the rebellion leader. He was the one they were after, and everyone else - me and another fellow - was coming along for the ride."

"Sounds about right. So how is it that you're still alive? Although I can see now why you are not in Skyrim."

"Oh, that has nothing to do with it. Just as they were getting started with the executions, a dragon attacked and sent everyone running for cover. It was breathing fire and chaos was complete. One of those rebels was trying to pull me to come with them, but I followed an Imperial soldier instead."

"That seems like a strange decision considering that the Legion was going to execute you!"

"Not really. The Legion is methodical and prefers to err on the side of caution - better execute one too many than one too few - but they are also level-headed, and I figured they'd reconsider my sentence, especially since I wasn't on their list to begin with. The rebels on the other hand, looked hot-headed, and anyhow I did not want to get embroiled in Skyrim politics."

"So who sent the dragon?"

"No one knows. But I think no one sent the dragon. I think this was a coincidence and the dragon business is unrelated to the rebellion. They also have Thalmor patrols everywhere searching for the cult of Talos - and that too is unrelated."

"Yes, we got ourselves in a right mess with the Thalmor."

"Well, that Imperial soldier took me to a nearby village - his uncle was a blacksmith there, and they made me welcome, I don't see why. But apparently helping the guy fight the rebels back in Helgen counted as 'saving his life', although I was mostly trying to save mine."

"I bet you fought bravely and impressed him, plus you didn't put an arrow between his shoulder blades. That counts for a lot in Skyrim."

"I suppose so. They asked me just to do one thing for them - to go to their local town and inform the jarl about the dragon, ask him to send some guards to this village in case a dragon turns up there. Ok, that's the least I could do. Plus, I ran into my brother there, and figured I'd be staying for a while."

"You have a brother?"

"I do. It's a long story for another time. He stayed in Skyrim, so if we go there together, you can't avoid meeting him."

"I wouldn't miss it for the world! When are we leaving?"

"Not tonight."

"I see" - Hauk felt that there was more. More about the dragons, more about the brother, much more of everything. Perhaps the best thing was just to let it develop at its own pace. Too bad that Nords are not blessed with patience... "Well, let's get back to the dragon then. Did you go to see the jarl?"

"I did. He thanked me and mentioned some errands that I might do for him, in case I was in need of coin. Fine, life was getting back to normal. Until a couple of days later a dragon attacked a watchtower causing chaos in the jarl's palace. Of course they will never admit it was chaos, but why else would they ask me of all people to help fight the dragon? 'You survived Helgen, you know more about dragons than anyone here!' I knew how to run away from one... but sure, I joined them."

"So how do you fight a dragon?"

"How do you fight any flying creature? With arrows or spells, what else can you do? We got it down and got it killed. An I absorbed its soul."

"Whoa!!" That was something else. It wasn't just about slaying a fearsome ancient monster, it was about taking over its power too. "You are Dragonborn?" Hauk knew exactly what it meant, what it implied and why Lena needed time to get her head around it. Each Dragonborn throughout history had a mission to accomplish, and choices to make, and none of it was easy.

"Yeah, that's what I discovered." Lena was relieved that she did not have to explain what it meant. She wasn't sure herself yet. "The Greybeards called me, but I haven't gone to see them, not yet anyway. Instead, I returned to Cyrodiil to get my head in order."

"And your brother?"

"He is not Dragonborn, if that's what you're asking. But he'll be there for when I am ready to go to Skyrim to find out more."

That wasn't what Hauk was asking, and they both knew it. But should Lena drop another bomb by saying that her brother was the White Wolf? Did Hauk even know who that was? Yeah, he probably did. He seemed to know a lot of things...

"My brother needed some time for himself. He's been through a lot in the last few years, so he came to Skyrim to get away from it all for a time, to get his own head in order. Our father was a Nord - that much we know - so Geralt figured Skyrim would be a perfect destination, a perfect change of pace."

"Geralt?" Yep, Hauk knew that name.

"My brother is the White Wolf."

Things were making sense now. The famous witcher was not Dragonborn, but it took more than an average person to become a witcher at all, and Geralt was quite a character. The news of the Northern Realms did not reach Tamriel very promptly, but eventually things became known, and some of them were even true. Hauk heard of the Wild Hunt that was tormenting the Northern Realms, and of the frost and ice that the Wild Hunt left in its wake. They were said to be wraiths - but what would wraiths want with the living? Why would they abduct whole villages at a time? Hauk thought it more likely that they were beings of flesh and blood coming from another realm looking for slaves, and the frost was simply their magic. The witchers would fight them, and it was said that an apocalyptic battle recently took place. The Wild Hunt was gone. For now or forever? The White Wolf was involved somehow, some said it was he who defeated the Wild Hunt king, other said no, the White Wolf was captured and was a prisoner himself, and someone else had to free them all... Whatever of it was true, it wasn't a walk in the park, and if the White Wolf was now here in Tamriel, then the Wild Hunt must have been dealt with. It wasn't in his character to run away. "His Nord blood wouldn't let him" - Hauk thought. "He finished his mission and came to seek out his roots."

"So what now? Are you going back to Skyrim at all?"

"Yes, I'll have to, I need to find out more, at least. But there is no rush, and my home is still here."

"Yeah, in Bravil" - Hauk remembered the effort that Lena put into getting back that house.

"Yeah."

The publican had been topping up their ale and mead for a long while already. Whatever those two were discussing, was keeping them drinking, and there's nothing wrong with that. Besides, they mentioned Skyrim - what better topic could a Nord wish for under his roof?

The regulars were finally going home, but Lena and Hauk didn't feel like sleeping. The conversation still hung in the air, and they just sat there, drinking silently for a while. They were getting more and more at ease with each other, no longer needing to talk.

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31 Evening Star, 4E201 - Lucien Lachance

"What did Lucien want?" - Asked Hauk at breakfast at Count's Arms.

"He... I thought you were asleep!"

"I was, until he banged the door on his way out. Who else comes to visit you in your sleep?"

That was solid logic, and there was no point arguing.

"He wanted me to rejoin the Brotherhood" - Lena conceded.

"Rejoin?"

"Yes. I was suspended after I refused to kill everyone in the Cheydinhal Sanctuary."

"And you lived?" - that was most unusual. The Dark Brotherhood wasn't just another Guild, transgressions came with a death sentence.

"Oh, they were sending assassins after me for a time until it transpired that the traitor was much higher up than anyone in the Cheydinhal Sanctuary - he was a Black Hand, and he was out for revenge after Lucien personally. That's a completely mad story" - Lena shook her head. "Then I was no longer the target and they let me be. Now they decided it was time I returned to the family."

"And will you?"

"Already have."

Hauk wasn't surprised. After Lucien's visit the night before, Lena disappeared for 24 hours. She returned during the night. Lucien's ways were rubbing off on her.

"So, if you were given a contract on my life, would you kill me?"

"First of all" - Lena was getting cross - "they would not give me a contract on a friend unless this was a test or a Purification Ritual. And second of all, this would be against my principles, so I'd kill the contract giver instead, and they know it. So you're quite safe from me" - Lena smiled.

"You put friends above your oath?"

"I do not serve Sithis. I have rejoined because Lucien did know my mother - he hadn't lied. When I refused to purify Cheydinhal, he exclaimed 'Just like her mother', and I learned later that indeed their paths had crossed."

That was as much as Lena was willing to tell, that was obvious. So Hauk dropped the topic.

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5 Morning Star, 4E202 - Lucien's offer

I've been promised the abandoned house in Cheydinhal for keeping a cool head and sparing them all back then. I was to perform the Purification Ritual with which I would break the tenet to never harm a brother. But were I to refuse, I would break the tenet to never refuse a contract. I did not believe the "evidence" and chose to refuse the contract. Another assassin was sent to perform the Purification, and failed. I had to face the Wrath of Sithis, but it wasn't my first wraith... Living assassins were sent after me, all in vain. Then the "evidence" that I discarded, was proven to have been fabricated. The traitor was much higher up and he was after Lucien Lachance personally, which of course broke a tenet of the Brotherhood. I was cleared, but it was considered best for me to stay away. Until now.

Lucien came to see me a week ago - they wanted me back. But they owed me, not just their lives, but their continued existence as members of the Brotherhood. Would I accept a promotion? Surely, I would make a superb Black Hand. No, thank you. I do not serve Sithis, and I dare to say it - I'll kill his wraith again if I have to.

"You are just like your mother. And your great-uncle, he too went rogue." Lucien hadn't lied, I received my great-uncle's will - he left me his sanctuary near Leyawiin. But he served Sithis, and I don't. I just want a normal house.

"A house? I think we can arrange that" - Lucien brightened up. "The Count here is not keen to have an ugly abandoned house in the city, but we are very persuasive. Plus, he still remembers - less than fondly - Morag Tong from his native Morrowind. I think he would be pleased if the house was no longer abandoned. But would you be willing to allow access to the Sanctuary through it?"

As I am the only member who likes to use that door, it isn't much of a problem. New members have to earn the right to use direct access, so new members need that route through the house, but I was the last new member to join, and that was 200 years ago. I would not worry. After the traitor used a new member - me - to try to get to Lucien, Lucien has been reluctant to accept anyone else.

"Go see the Count in a couple of days. What do you want to call the house?"

"The Wolf Sanctuary."

"How befitting" - Lucien smiled.

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5 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - A visit to Lucien

Lena knew where Lucien lived and how to get there bypassing the guards. Of course she did, she spent a lot of time there herself. It was time to let Lucien know about her little enterprise. Lucien knew what's been done already and guessed rightly that she had plans for more.

On a piece of parchment Lena wrote a list of names.

She sealed the letter and left it on the table.

She returned a few days later. There was a brand new silver dagger where the letter had been. The barrel with poisoned apples had been unlocked. A bouquet of flowers lay on the bed: goldenrod, morning glory, lily of the valley, blue hyacinth. Good fortune, my dear - yours, always.

"The choice of a lily is... unusual" - Lena thought. "I would have expected something more neutral..."

She took the flowers. She knew that Lucien would see them in the Wolf Sanctuary kept fresh and understand her acceptance. But she wasn't laying ambrosia fruit on her bed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

14 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - Death and Resuscitation - Wolf House - Prince Sheogorath

"This isn't as crazy as I thought it might be" - Hauk was saying at breakfast.

12 Sun's Dawn


Having breakfast at noon is not crazy at all if you only went to bed at 4 a.m. as they did. They brought the tongs and calipers to Tove, and he paid Lena 5 septims for each one, resulting in a very tidy sum.

"Oh I insist - for your trouble."

"That wasn't crazy after all to drag them all the way to here" - Hauk started to see sense.

After that they had a job to do at Xedilian.

"Now that I had to kill the Gatekeeper again, I need to fix Xedilian" - Lena was trying to explain it to Hauk. "It will attract people that don't belong here and make them belong."

Xedilian was overrun with grummites. They had removed the resonator crystals and attached them to their magic staves which made them so much more dangerous. At one point four Deathbringers and a Magus swarmed on Lena and Hauk from all directions and got them surrounded. Lena was using a lot of poisons but they weren't as effective on these grummites as they were on the ones in the hatchery. The battle was ferocious and Lena got knocked out - and couldn't get up. When Hauk finally dispatched the last of the grummites, Lena was still on the ground. Not unconscious but dead. One of the Deathbringers apparently kept hitting her after she lost consciousness - he was determined to live up to his title.

Hauk tried healing spells on Lena, cure poison and cure paralysis, smelling salts and aloe sap, to no avail.

"Ok then, it's the old-fashioned way again" - he thought removing her armour for CPR.

Resuscitation was successful. Lena sat up, still dizzy but alive.

"That was some battle... Thanks for bringing me back" - she said watching Hauk sorting through a pile of potions, clothes and pieces of armour that he dropped in the rush to get her heart beating again. He was still casting healing spells at her and at himself, and the sweat on his torso was shimmering in the mist of restoration magic.

"We'll need to take a break now" - he said wrapping Lena in some robes from their pack. "You need to warm up - don't bother wearing these, you'll be warmer in a wrap."

Being a Battlemage was clearly different from being an Adventurer, and having gone through the Great War behind the enemy lines taught Hauk survival skills like no training ever could. He actually knew what he was doing.

...

After a rest with some food and drink, they put their armours back on and decided to continue going through Xedilian. After all, they seemed to be nearly done.

"So this is the frog that got me?" - Lena stood over a grummite that lay where she had gone down.

"That's the one" - Hauk confirmed. "He just wouldn't quit which probably saved my own life - I would have been overwhelmed by an extra one joining in."

"I'm glad you weren't" - Lena looked at Hauk realising that were the roles reversed, she would have done everything in her power to bring him back.

13 Sun's Dawn


Xedilian was restored and the first group of adventurers was taken care of. Knights of Order appeared too, and were dispatched. Lena and Hauk stood outside again, it was mid-morning. They hadn't slept, but neither of them wanted to just now.

"What's next?" - asked Hauk.

"We could walk back to Passwall and rest at the inn there for a while" - Lena pointed West - "or we could start towards New Sheoth and get distracted along the way" - she pointed North East grinning.

"East" - said Hauk and started walking.

...

It didn't take long and they ran into another ruin and decided to investigate. Xalara housed some zealots, and obviously had to be thoroughly searched for the Fork of Horripilation.

The Fork wasn't there, but they found some substantial loot in an urn held by a statue.

"Good thing real Hungers aren't nearly as big as this one" - remarked Hauk admiring the statue. "Very decorative though."

He was definitely getting into the spirit of the place.

Xalara was a bit of a labyrinth with traps, sliding wall panels, collapsed sections and newly dug out bypasses. They kept coming out near the entrance which would normally be welcome, but in this case it wasn't because Lena was determined to search every nook and cranny for the Fork. Of course it was all for naught, but you wouldn't know it until you'd done it.

Exhausted, they decided to eat the zealots' food and sleep in their beds. It was getting quite late anyway.

14 Sun's Dawn


In the morning they set off for New Sheoth, this time intent on getting there without distractions. The landscape was swampy, but the water wasn't deep, and they didn't expect any creatures apart from baliwogs. Then suddenly Lena got knocked out.

"Whaaa-?" - Hauk heard her yelp but couldn't see what attacked her. Summoning a dremora just in case, he felt a little like that Orc adventurer that fell victim to Xedilian's magic - how do you fight the unseen?

The next moment Hauk was hit from above by a Skulking Scalon - a creature with a power to turn invisible and jump high and far. So this was what knocked out Lena - a scalon's touch also carried an electrical charge.

Hauk staggered, but his dremora swung into action, and soon the scalon lay defeated.

"Ugh, those scalons can really surprise you" - Lena was saying wringing out her skirt. The swamp wasn't deep to walk in, but it did get you thoroughly wet if you fell in.

New Sheoth wasn't far, and they didn't tarry and longer.

...

"We need to go see the Prince about Xedilian but not in these wet clothes" - Lena said as they entered Crucible. "There's a house here that we can use - it was left to me by a chap I did a favour for." There was no need to explain what the favour for Hirrus Clutumnus was.

When Hirrus left Lena the house, she went to have a look and didn't like it. Too much blood, torture tools and self-flailing in there. But now her wet clothes under her iron armour were chilling her to the bone, and she was ready to make use of the house even with Hirrus' spirit still hanging about.

They entered. Someone had redecorated. Gone were the torture tools, blood stains and cobwebs. Gone was the gloomy atmosphere - it's amazing what a few tapestries can do. It was still a Dementia house, but it was now clean and welcoming.

Dylan. It had to be.

But Dylan himself wasn't there, so Lena and Hauk spent some time in the Wolf House - as it was now known - to freshen up and rest. There was food, good wine and mead, and even fresh sweetrolls... nothing that Hirrus would have kept there.

In the afternoon they went to see the Prince. Lena put on a Red Finery dress that she had found in the cupboard. Hauk couldn't take his eyes off her.

The Prince was galant, as always, making jokes and never letting you forget who was in charge. Lena let him get on with it, not argueing or reminding him of things past. They both knew it was just a façade. He sent her to get acquainted with the new Duke and Duchess - Thadon and Syl, again? Well, yes, the same ones, or may be their twins... But they won't remember you, so don't you worry. But didn't I cut Syl's heart out last time? Yes, you did, but we don't let such minor details get in the way. Off you go now and enjoy your felldew.

Coming out of the Palace, Lena noticed that the Flame of Agnon wasn't burning - the Saints and Seducers must have been quarreling again. She had work to do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

15 Sun's Dawn 4E202 - Another letter from Lucien

"Before I get embroiled in Shivering Isles politics, I need to return to Cyrodiil for a bit" - Lena was saying to Hauk at breakfast. "There are a few things I need to take care of, on my own." She looked at him somewhat uneasy.

"Of course" - Hauk nodded. "Give Lucien my regards. I'll stay here - can I use this house?"

"Please do" - Lena gave Hauk a long look. He was planning something. "But I don't think I'll be meeting Lucien" - she added.

"You'll see."

...

Returning to Cheydinhal, Lena found a letter waiting for her on the table at the Wolf Sanctuary. It was from Lucien:

Darling Wolf,

Come and see me at your convenience. We have business to attend to.

Yours -
Lucien


She went in the evening, planning to sleep at the fort if necessary, while waiting for Lucien to appear. She didn't have to wait long.

"I need you to go to Skyrim" - said Lucien pouring the wine. "There's a group there that calls themselves the Dark Brotherhood and is taking on contracts, but we don't have a branch in Skyrim and the Night Mother does not talk to anyone there. Go see what they are all about."

Lena heard of them when she went to Skyrim before, but because the Dark Brotherhood had a regional structure, she didn't expect to know any of them. Now it turned out they were imposters, which went some way to explain why they tried to kill her - and didn't know who she was. No one verified their contracts, obviously.

"How do you want me to approach them?" - she asked Lucien, helping herself to cheese and grapes.

"We'll bait them - we'll spread a rumour that you've gone after one of their contracts. They'll be in touch."

"If the Night Mother doesn't speak to them, then where do they get their contacts from?"

"From rumours, mostly. People know how to summon us - the real us - and so they perform the Dark Sacrament over and over, thinking that more is better, no doubt. Then, when no one comes, they start talking about it, and sure enough, soon afterwards someone appears."

"Your friendly neighbourhood assassin, here to help" - grimaced Lena.

"Quite. Ham or mutton?" - Lucien was taking roast off the spit.

"Mutton, please, and some of that orange chutney on top."

Two old friends sat down for dinner. Nothing unusual about that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

19 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - Back to Skyrim

Skyrim calls. But Lena wouldn't leave without seeing Hauk first, after all he was waiting for her in the Shivering Isles, and she didn't know how long she would be gone.

"And this time I am coming with you!" - Hauk was adamant. Ok, let's go.

Lena and Hauk crossed the border to Skyrim and reached Riverwood without anything significant getting in their way.

"Hello, brother" - Lena noticed Geralt on the porch of Sven's house. "Have you been talking to Sven's mother again? You know she spreads rumours."

"Yep, and where else do you think witchers get their contracts from?" - Gerald grinned. "Good to see you, sis. And I see you brought a Nord to Skyrim" - he nodded at Hauk.

"This is Hauk, we've been adventuring together back in Cyrodiil. Is there any food at the cabin? It's been a long way."

Lena always kept the hunter's cabin well stocked with supplies when she was around. She hoped that Geralt didn't leave it empty. He didn't, and soon the three of them were sitting by the fire with mead and roast.

"Hadvar is back in Riverwood" - Geralt remarked casually. "Something must be going on by the border. He claims he is on leave, but I don't believe him. He asked about you."

"Did he now? In what way?"

"Either he was sent to get you to join the Legion, or to prevent you joining the Stormcloacks."

"Well, there's no danger of that - I have no wish to meddle in Skyrim politics."

"Too late for that, I'm afraid. They all want you now - you're the Dragonborn. Why are you back, actually?"

"I need to find out more about this Dragonborn business, why I never noticed anything before, what it does exactly, except letting me shout, which is kind of neat but not world-shuttering. I mean, other people can shout too, and they are not proclaimed to be Dragonborn. Didn't Ulfrick kill the High King by shouting at him? Yet no one calls Ulfrick Dragonborn."

She didn't say anything about her investigation for the Dark Brotherhood. This was her business alone. Hauk was watching the exchange between Lena and Geralt and thinking how close they seemed, even though he knew they could not have spent that much time together - they only met fairly recently. And the difference in years... Geralt was much older then Lena, as he didn't "skip" nearly two centuries as Lena did while residing in the Shivering Isles. Yet he wasn't 250 years old as he should have been... Time must pass differently beyond the Great Maelstrom. Geralt looked just over 50, but was probably pushing 100 - you can't tell with witchers. His age only showed in the things he said - wisdom coming from experience.

The roast was significantly diminished and the mead bottles around them were nearly all empty, when they heard footsteps coming their way.

"Hadvar!" - Geralt saw him first. "I see you've heard Lena is back. Come and join us, before all of the roast is gone."

"This is--" Lena started introducing Hauk.

"Hauk" - Hadvar didn't look surprised at all. "Hello, old friend!"

Was that a secret handshake or some such that they exchanged?

"We've met during the Great War, but Hauk returned to Cyrodiil afterwards and I stayed in Skyrim" - Hadvar offered, making it clear that this topic was now closed. This meant only one thing - there was so much more to that!

The conversation turned to lighter things, to stories of recent adventures in Cyrodiil - Ayleid ruins, caves, battles with beasts and undead, comparisons of draugr of Skyrim with skeleton heros of Cyrodiil, that sort of thing. It was already dawning when Lena finally declared she needed a nap and went into the cabin, and Geralt went to Sven's house where he was staying - Sven's mother insisted he should use their spare bed. Hauk and Hadvar stayed by the fire a bit longer.

"How do you know Lena?" - Hadvar asked.

"Met her through the Mages Guild."

"Tracked her down?"

"No, that was a real coincidence. I spotted her at the Arcane University, thought she looked out of place somehow, made some enquiries... Then introduced myself and we've been adventuring together ever since. I was getting pretty bored without any work, you know. I didn't know she was Dragonborn until later."

"That she is, but it doesn't mean much in itself, I think we both know that. It's what she does with it, if anything."

"Is that why you're here?" Hauk didn't believe that Hadvar was hanging around exclusively on Legion business.

"Well..." - Hadvar looked a bit uneasy. "The Legion is not going to interfere unless she tries to join the Stormcloacks, which we don't believe she will."

"And?" - Hauk was not to be put off that easily.

"And... Are you two... Should I leave her alone?" Finally! The real reason.

"We are just friends at this stage" - Hauk wasn't about to burn any bridges either. "But she is not wearing an Amulet of Mara."

She wasn't, not at that point anyway. It wasn't that long since Lena returned from the Shivering Isles, found her citizen rights suspended, went to the Northern Realms, met Geralt, came back to escape the war there, ran around the Imperial bureaucracy to get her rights reinstated, and she was still in the process of recovering her repossessed property, and now also this Dragonborn affair added on top. Lena's life was too tumultuous right now for the Amulet of Mara! Perhaps later. Hadvar and Hauk both saw that, and each was willing to wait.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

20 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - Hauk and Lucien

Jarl Balgruuf had made Lena a thane of Whiterun, granted her permission to buy a house within the city walls and assigned her a housecarl - Lydia.

"This is all extremely inconvenient" - Lena noted thinking over her investigation for the Dark Brotherhood at breakfast. "I hope the group here isn't going to be spooked by my status and will still take the bait and contact me."

Lucien had arranged for rumours to be spread that Lena was the one who murdered the woman at the orphanage in Riften in response to some young lad's summons. One small detail however: it happened before Lena returned to Skyrim, but Lucien summised correctly that the group of Skyrim assassins wouldn't know the difference. Information wasn't their strong suite. All Lena had to do now was wait for them to take the bait and contact her, and being a thane - even just in title - was very inconvenient for that.

"Jarl Balgruuf just wanted to be the first to claim the Dragonborn" - Hauk seemed to have read her thoughts. "You are here for Lucien, aren't you? No, no, don't tell me - it's your affair." He broke five eggs for an omelette.

"How did you know?" - Lena needed some answers now, and Hauk saw that.

"I didn't, but I guessed. You had no intention of going to Skyrim before, in fact in the past four months you've repeatedly said you were not ready. Then suddenly you were leaving immediately. It stands to reason you got an assignment to follow through, and that could have only come from Lucien."

"It could have come from any number of sources - the Fighters Guild, the Mages Guild, the Legion, the... what do I know!" - Lena wasn't satisfied as yet. The omelette bubbled and squeaked in the pan filling the hunter's cabin with enticing aromas.

Hauk gave her one of his looks taking his eyes off the pan for a moment - oh please!

"The Fighters Guild does not operate in Skyrim, they are terrified of the Companions, so no. The Mages Guild or the Legion - I would have known, as I'm a member of both, and in fact you haven't joined the Legion yet, so don't exaggerate. What is left? A personal favour for someone? Possible, but I doubt it would have carried this urgency."

"Ok" - Lena conceded that he could have just deduced that, accepting a plate with half an omelette that Hauk handed to her. "But how did you know I was going to meet Lucien when I left the Shivering Isles? I didn't know it myself, I was just going to do a few things and come back."

"I know Lucien."

"How?"

Lena was pretty certain that Hauk had never been a member of the Dark Brotherhood. Of course one did not need to be a member to have heard of Lucien Lachance, but Hauk's knowledge of him seemed to be more than hearsay.

"Our paths have crossed during the War. No, he wasn't after me and I wasn't after him, but we appeared to have had the same target, although with a slightly different purpose. I wanted information, and I reached the target first. Admittedly, there wasn't much left to do for Lucien when he appeared, but I let him fulfil his contract. We had a chat and parted ways. So I got the feel for the man."

"Which doesn't explain how you knew I'd be meeting him" - Lena wanted to know more, Hauk's delicious omelette disappearing quickly.

"When Garrus mentioned that someone gave you flowers that you carefully kept fresh in an urgently ordered urn, I knew it was from Lucien. Garrus was teasing me of course, but I knew just why you kept them - a reminder of things past, a recognition of his gratitude, more than gratitude - lily of the valley, was it? Of course you kept it, regardless whether you felt the same or not. And goldenrod and morning glory - back to business, sister. You've been promoted, whether you know it or not, so a special assignment wasn't far off. I wasn't certain of course when it would come exactly, but I didn't think it would be too long."

Lena suddenly saw a whole different side of Hauk. There was a lot more to him than met the eye, even after some four months of adventuring together, all the fights, the wounds and the campfires shared. With everything he just said, he still hadn't told her a thing about his duties during the Great War - that information wasn't his to give, the Legion was keeping its secrets. The same as Hadvar - be convincing without revealing anything of importance.

"I see..." - Lena started thoughtfully, picking at a bunch of grapes, deliberately, one by one. "Well, since you've figured out that much, you won't be surprised when something odd happens. Come with me to High Hrothgar, I need to follow up on that Dragonborn business anyway, and I could use the company while... well, I could use your company" - she concluded firmly, looking straight at him.

"Not taking Lydia with you then?" - Hauk gave her a wink, slicing up some cheese. "'I'll protect you with my life!' She's very eager, you know."

"'I am swooooorn to carry your burdens' - yeah, right" - Lena was particularly annoyed by that line. "She'll only get in the way and get herself killed. I'm not the kind of thane she was hoping to get assigned to. Although you might have been one - we can bring her along, if you like."

Was it time for another one of Hauk's looks? Perhaps. But he kept it to himself and just laughed.

"Ask Wolf to come too" - he said. "I think he's had enough of Sven's mother."
Renee
Hey!!!!! smile.gif smile.gif smile.gif Glad to see you made it here, wow, what a surprise! cake.gif

Bethesda.net is CLOSING??? Wow, but maybe it's for the best. Maybe they will come up with a forum which is more handsome.

I shall catch up on Lena's adventures, dear. Have a Fishy Stick.

http://static3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2013...Fishy_stick.png
Lena Wolf
Thanks, Renee! smile.gif
Yes, I guess they figured 7 days should be enough notice for anyone. Tells you something about their attitude to their forums... There won't be a substitute - we are to use Discord instead. :-O So Macole got me onto here (thanks, Macole!), seemed like a great place to share stories. :-D
If you haven't read Macole's final story on Beth, you better hurry before it's all gone come Monday. He's done with Jandaga but I'm not done yet with Lena Wolf...
Renee
Okay, I'll have a look at Bethesda.net this weekend. Gosh, it's just so odd that place is gonna be gone. It makes me glad I didn't really post any really extensive works of fiction over there. sad.gif

You will notice Chorrol is a much smaller place. Same faces every day, and so on. I've always likened Chorrol.com to a small country pub, in which you'll see everyone you know in the village, and get to know us well. Beth's forums are more like a sports bar with loud music, occasional fights, and also a lot of folks moving through (in the Skyrim and Fallout 4 / 76 forums, anyway).

Anyway, I'll shush now. smile.gif I'll let others welcome ye here, my dear!

ghastley
Mine’s a pint!
Acadian
Welcome to Chorrol, Lena!

What a fun saga so far! I'm about halfway up to present since your first post is much too long to fully savor in one sitting. So far, I like the smooth way you have handled time/distance to connect Oblivion and Skyrim. Though not familiar with the Witcher series, it seems like you certainly are.

Looking forward to finishing up your first post in the near future.
Lena Wolf
Thank you! smile.gif I must warn you that I do bring multiple worlds together. But you don't need to know any of them really to follow the story - I explain what is required. Those are just my favourite characters, and so they all eventually board a ship and sail over the ocean to Tamriel. smile.gif

As far as the Witcher goes, he's Lena's brother and is quite a character in himself. My Geralt - the way I imagined him and played him in the Witcher series - has very little to do with the "real" Geralt - the one from the books. So just as well that you don't know him - he is not the same person. He he. It's all wrong here. wink.gif

I won't post anything new for a few days - the first post is indeed so very long. But you can see that individual entries are not terribly long, so it won't be too bad in the future.

Thanks for reading! smile.gif Glad you like it. smile.gif
macole
QUOTE(Lena_Wolf @ May 20 2021, 07:15 AM) *

Thanks, Renee! smile.gif
Yes, I guess they figured 7 days should be enough notice for anyone. Tells you something about their attitude to their forums... There won't be a substitute - we are to use Discord instead. :-O So Macole got me onto here (thanks, Macole!), seemed like a great place to share stories. :-D
If you haven't read Macole's final story on Beth, you better hurry before it's all gone come Monday. He's done with Jandaga but I'm not done yet with Lena Wolf...

Glad to see you made it through Acadian's rigorous vetting rolleyes.gif

Hope you enjoy Chorrol as much as I do. The residents here have complained very little about the ramblings of an old spyrys. Personally, I think they are in for a treat when they see how you weave characters from different games into you story.

As for the Jandaga and his Ladies their story continues here uninterrupted. The last post in the Beth forms is like a ten thousand year jump to the future and in part is base on my real life experience. That's maybe more than anyone wants to know. embarrased.gif

Anyways, I save everything I have written so if anyone wants to see a far in the future ending I can do it.
RaderOfTheLostArk
Welcome aboard, Lena_Wolf! Nice to have a new face around here...

...But I'm sorry, did you say bethesda.net is closing? As in the current forums?

I had to double-check the date of this thread's beginning post and see if Renee was confusing the old forum closure with this one. I thought I was going crazy. So they're really closing the current forums down, huh? Kind of strange after how much they made a fuss about switching to them in 2016/2017, but whatever. I haven't legitimately been on there in a few years. I'm not sure if Discord is the best solution, but it is what it is.

Anyway, welcome again to you, Lena! And h/t to Renee for bringing back the fishy stick. I wonder if that has still been a thing on bethesda.net.


EDIT: We also have an Introduce Yourself thread in the General Discussion Forum if you want to put something there as well.
Lena Wolf
Thank you, Raider! smile.gif Yes, Bethesda forums are going down... Rather unexpected, but there you have it.

Thanks for pointing me at the Introductions thread - I posted my hello there. Haven't had time to explore the forum yet, but will do in future.

Yes, I know about the fishy sticks... munch-munch... I even had one from M'aiq the Liar at some point, don't remember in which game... yeah, it's quite a thing. biggrin.gif
Lena Wolf
21 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - Helgen bypass

Lena, Geralt and Hauk set off to Ivarstead in the morning. From Riverwood, the shorter route was to circle the East side of the mountain, passing by Helgen.

"Is the place still closed?" - asked Lena pointing at some charred corpses displayed outside the main gates. "Did everyone just run away? The devastation wasn't that bad, surely."

"It's not the devastation that's keeping most people away" - Hauk replied sending a few fireballs to the top of the Helgen wall. "It's the bandits. After the initial confusion, they quickly moved in. Hadvar told me" - he added seeing Lena's raised eyebrows and her usual 'How did you know?'. "The Legion should have stayed at Helgen after the dragon flew off, but most soldiers were killed trying to contain the panic and save civilians, and Talius was too slow sending a new contingent. By the time they figured out that the danger had passed, the place was overrun with Thalmor followed by bandits - they appear to be friendly to each other somehow. The remaining Stormcloacks ran off to the nearby camp - so much for the Real Sons of Skyrim. So now you can't even pass by Helgen without getting peltered with arrows from the walls."

"We'll have to sort this out at some point" - said Lena, sending a few arrows of her own.

"I thought you weren't going to meddle in Skyrim politics?" - laughed Geralt. "Way to go, sis."

With the bandits' shouts still following them, they continued up the hill, only to be promptly attacked by a Stormcloack "patrol".

"What on Nirn...?" - Lena swore getting off her horse and spinning to face her attacker. "Put away that thing - you'll hurt yourself!"

It only takes one strike with a blade to put down even the heaviest fighter - provided you get his heart. She did. Geralt went for a decapitation, which was equally effective.

"They didn't seem to be such great warriors" - commented Lena, rather surprised at the easy victory. "Why pick a fight then?"

"They probably thought we were easy prey. Their camp is just behind those trees, and I bet they are out of mead - as well as everything else" - Hauk commented, looking over the bodies. "Look - poorly healed scars, frostbite and their stomachs stuck to their spines. Supply problems, clearly."

Feeling a little guilty for killing people in need, our party continued on.

IPB Image
(click image to enlarge)


"Haemar's Shame" - Lena pointed at a cave entrance. "There's a shrine to Clavicus Vile in there. Last time I was in Skyrim, his dog had me go clear the vampires from this cave. It was another one of Clavicus' deals, of course."

"How so?"

"The vampires asked Clavicus for a cure and he told them to assemble at his shrine. Then he banished his dog Barbas, knowing that Barbas would pick up someone who'd help him to get back. Of course that involved going through the cave and killing all the vampires. That was the deal - they were now cured of vampirism. They had not specified that they wanted to stay alive."

Lena shook her head.

"So what did you get as a reward?" - asked Hauk. "Was it the Umbra or the Rueful Axe or may be the Mask?"

"Nothing. I declined it all, and now Clavicus Vile is indebted to me" - Lena grinned.

"Oh - you are his worthy student!"

They laughed at the story descending the mountain pass into the frost-free landscape below.
Renee
Ah, so is Lena and her posse officially Imperials? Or did they just get caught up with the wrong Stormie at the wrong time?

QUOTE
"So what did you get as a reward?" - asked Hauk. "Was it the Umbra or the Rueful Axe or may be the Mask?"

"Nothing. I declined it all, and now Clavicus Vile is indebted to me" - Lena grinned.


Good for her! cake.gif
Lena Wolf
Well, they are from Cyrodiil, so I suppose that makes them Imperial. Hauk is certainly Imperial, as he's with the Legion. Lena has not joined any faction yet, but I can tell you a secret - she's not joining Ulfrick, that's for sure. wink.gif Her brother is neutral - or so he claims.
Acadian
Lena, thanks for the additional info you provided in your comment verifying a little more about weaving characters from other worlds/games/times into Lena's saga. Wonderfully creative - and a clever tool to support a neverending saga.

I did finish your first post and, in total, it does provide a good feel for Lena's complex comings and goings and her massive range. Nicely done and you have an engaging writing style!

I noticed that you added another episode, but I'll get to that within the next couple days. smile.gif
Lena Wolf
Thank you, Acadian, glad you enjoyed it! I promise to hold off posting for a bit... although I wrote a few more episodes. They are like busses - you wait for days, and then several come at once. (Sorry for the tired joke!) I try to write them in such a way that missing a few episodes would not prevent you from following the story. It's like in life - sometimes you miss stuff and only hear about it later when it comes up in some other context. But I felt that a decent introduction was necessary, hence the very long first post.

I shall also be adding pictures in future! biggrin.gif
Acadian
Well, I'm caught up as Lena continues her adventures, currently in Skyrim. Again, I like your idea of treating time freely and using characters from other games. May we expect to see such characters as Aloy, Minsc & Boo, Sir Keldorn at some point? tongue.gif

Having played Oblivion and Skyrim extensively before moving on to ESO in 2016, there are lots of nostalgically familiar moments here - with your own creative and welcome twists added.
Lena Wolf
Acadian - thanks for reading smile.gif I know who Aloy is, but the other ones I had to google... ohmy.gif No, not them - I never played those games. But this story already has Jowan from Dragon Age Origins. I didn't include any of it this time because the first post was getting too long already. Jowan is currently exploring the Imperial City, so he's busy. smile.gif But we'll bump into him again later. The other games that are likely to be involved are: Two Worlds, Risen and Fable.
Lena Wolf
24 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - Ivarstead - Ghost - Proving

They arrived in Ivarstead in the afternoon.

"Finally - some new faces!" - the innkeep was very welcoming. "Do come in!"

21 Sun's Dawn

Ivarstead was not a large village, but its location was very much at a crossroads, where the Whiterun-Riften thoroughfare split off North towards Windhelm. If there ever was such a thing as a Skyrim thoroughfare. The inn should have flourished though - and not just from High Hrothgar tourism. Yet it all looked a bit too quiet...

"It's the bandits. Nilheim might seem far away, but they ambush the road, so people stay away" - he explained. "That and that ghost..."

"What ghost?" - asked Lena sensing the real problem.

"In that barrow across the road" - the innkeep waved his hand. "He appeared about a year ago, out of nowhere. Haunts the barrow - chases everyone away!"

"That doesn't sound like a ghost to me" - Geralt whispered into Lena's ear.

"Has anyone gone to investigate it?" - asked Lena, not hoping for a 'yes'.

"No" - the innkeep didn't disappoint. "The guards say the Jarl isn't paying them enough to deal with ghosts, and none of us wants to either."

"You--" Lena started saying something unwise when Geralt pinched her in the small of her back - the only place he could get to that wasn't covered in armour.

"Don't" - he whispered. Then continued to the innkeep: "Well, would you mind if we took a look? We'll see if this ghost likes us better."

The innkeep looked at them as if they were mad, but had no objections to the enterprise, especially if they were to buy some food and drinks first. That did sound like a good idea, and after a meal and a few rounds of ale, they were ready to go.

"You two go" - said Hauk. "It doesn't look big enough for three people. And I've got an errand to run."

They left the inn together, then Lena and Geralt crossed the road towards the barrow, and Hauk crossed the bridge going South.

"Legion business" - noted Lena. "There's a camp that way."

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...

Shroud Hearth Barrow was a typical Nord crypt with draugrs resting in their alcoves. Some of them would occasionally get up, disturbed by the intruders, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. A series of linked gates spiced up the adventure, with the inevitable poisoned darts pelting you if you pulled the levers in the wrong order. Lena wasn't keen on the poison, but Geralt just laughed - his witcher blood could take much more than that.

The extraordinary thing in this barrow was the ghost. Yes, there was one, it was true. May be not a real ghost, but certainly a ghostly apparition - he greeted them as they entered, howling quite theatrically: "Leeeeeave this place! Leeeeeeave this place!" But when they paid no heed to his warning and proceeded, he retreated further into the barrow, howling some more.

"This is not a ghost" - Geralt said firmly. "Not a ghost, not a wraith, not an undead shadow - this... err... apparition is a living man. Somehow."

"There's magic that can make you ethereal, although it is quite rare" - suggested Lena. "We'll need to get to him to find out."

They proceeded through the barrow, pacifying some more restless draugrs along the way, and finally entering a secret chamber hidden behind a sliding wall. The "ghost" was inside, now ready for a fight.

...

Spectral magic finally dispersed revealing a body of a Dunmer. His journal was right there on the desk - he was searching for a claw needed to unlock the ancient part of the barrow, holding great treasure - or so he believed. He couldn't find the claw, and too much of the spectral magic turned his brain...

"Oh! As simple as that" - the innkeep was shaking his head reading the journal. "And we fell for it!"

"Spectral magic is very rare..." - started Lena, but Geralt poked her again: don't.

"Here - take the claw" - the innkeep pulled it from under the counter. "It hasn't done anyone any good, and why should it be kept here at the inn? Use it, leave it at the barrow, do what you want with it - nobody goes into the depths anyway. Just don't leave it unlocked when you are done - the dead in there are said to be restless. We don't want to be overrun by ancient draugr as well!"

Lena stashed the claw in her pack. It was past midnight and they left the barrow exploration for another day. Hauk just returned from his errand too, so they rented rooms for the night and proceeded sampling the local mead by the fire.

"If anything unusual happens during the night" - Lena started turning to Geralt - "don't panic and let it happen."

"What are you expecting to happen?" - Geralt looked at her shrewdly.

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"I don't know, we'll see. If nothing occurs, we'll go exploring the barrow tomorrow and stay here for another night" - Lena added as if it explained anything.

"You think they'll be imitating Lucien?" - Hauk obviously had an idea what she was expecting.

"I think they will, and I want to see just how good they are and what exactly they will do." Then turning to Geralt again she added: "Don't worry. Wait for me here - for days, if need be. I'll be back."

IPB Image

22 Sun's Dawn

"Well, that is a surprise" - a woman's voice said from the dark, then someone pulled off a sack that was covering Lena's head. She didn't recognise the place. "You picked up one of our contracts" - continued the woman. "Now you owe us."

Ah, yes, they fell for it.

"Who are you and what do you want from me?" - Lena decided to play ignorance.

"I am Astrid, the head of the Dark Brotherhood - the Dark Brotherhood, that's right." She checked for the effect of her words, and Lena quickly arranged her face in a suitable expression of horror and admiration. "Aretino's contract should have been ours" - she paused again, and Lena added a bit of fear to her expression. Astrid seemed to be satisfied. "You can repay your debt by killing one of these... err... subjects."

She pointed at three figures kneeling in the next room, their hands bound behind their backs, sacks over their heads.

"Kill any one of them, and your debt will be repaid, and what's more - we'll welcome you into our family." Astrid seemed to be sure she was making an offer that Lena could not refuse.

"All right" - said Lena, and thought to herself: "Better do it right. She seems to go for the theatrics."

She killed all three subjects before they could start protesting.

"Very good - I'm impressed!" - Astrid looked really taken. She told Lena how to find the Sanctuary, and how to enter. She would welcome her properly there. "Oh - and here's the key to this cabin. See you soon, sister!"

Astrid vanished. "Teleport" - Lena thought.

She exited the shack, finding herself on a moor, far from Ivarstead. The Sanctuary too was a good distance away. She whistled for her horse, Roach appeared and Lena rode South.

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24 Sun's Dawn

Two days later she walked into the Vilemyr Inn in Ivarstead and found Hauk and Geralt playing Gwent at rather high stakes.

"Finally!" - Geralt greeted her. "That took a while."

"I told him not to worry" - said Hauk, folding the cards. "And he was losing anyway. Did you learn what you were hoping to learn?"

"Yes" - Lena replied. "I might have to follow up on a few things before we can return to Cyrodiil, but I need to think on that first. And go up to High Hrothgar."

It was late afternoon, and she didn't want to climb that mountain in the dark - she would go tomorrow. This night her sleep would be uninterrupted, and she needed a good rest after all that running around. The innkeep was pleased to have guests staying for a while, especially thirsty ones as these, so please, there's no need to rush - we've got rooms, food and mead at your convenience. How nice.
Lena Wolf
25 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - High Hrothgar

"You should go alone" - said Geralt when Lena was finally ready to climb up to High Hrothgar. "It's up to you to do something with it."

Lena opened her mouth to argue, but Geralt gave her that look - don't even think about it. She closed her mouth, checked her blade and turned to leave.

"Wait, take this" - Hauk handed her a book. "Just in case."

She opened it - it was a Summon Dremora spell tome.

"Skyrim is shielded - you cannot summon any of your clannfears or daedroths, but dremoras do come through. It's best to be prepared." Hauk watched Lena take in the spell.

The climb started out easy, and quickly got harder and colder. Skeevers were replaced by wolves, wolves by ice wolves, ice wolves by...

"What was that!?"

Lena was flung down the steps with some force, but her iron cuirass kept her ribs from being smashed. A frost troll. She could just make it out against the blizzard.

The troll was approaching fast - Lena hid behind a rock. Quick - think of something!

Dremora. Time to try out the new spell!

"A challenger is near!" - roared summoned dremora. He fought bravely but the troll proved too much for him. Not waiting for the first dremora to disappear, she summoned another. And another. Then... wait...

The blizzard was getting really thick and she could hardly see what was happening, but the last dremora seemed to have defeated the troll and was coming towards her. He would be banished any moment now... surely his time was up...

"Here - take my arm" - he said helping her up.

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"Sanguine!" - she wrapped her arms around his neck. "What are you doing here?"

"Rescuing you, by the looks of it" - he laughed. "You summoned me to fight that troll."

"I'd never... I summoned a dremora!" - protested Lena.

"I am a dremora" - Sanguine pursed his lips.

She kissed him.

"It's been too long!" - she smiled. "But how did you get here? I thought you were back in your Realm after Sheogorath kicked us all out of his Palace."

"What Realm? I never bothered to build one - you know that!" - he laughed. "I've got a few islands, true, but the real fun is down here in Mundus. You got yourself noticed absorbing dragon souls and whatnot, and I thought you might need a hand."

"As long as it doesn't involve any goats, giants or hagravens, thank you" - she winked at him. "I've got to go see the Greybeards, but I didn't expect frost trolls along the way. It's supposed to be peaceful up here!"

"Perhaps they updated their security, or perhaps it was a test of your mettle" - Sanguine joked. "Either way, the troll is dead and the way is clear - as far as we can see, which is about three steps ahead in this blizzard. Come, I'll walk with you - I still know how to fight."

It was only now that Lena noticed an enchanted greatsword on his back. He came prepared.

IPB Image

"What have you done with the Rose?" - asked Sanguine.

"Lost it in a drinking game" - Lena blushed.

"That's my girl!" - laughed Sanguine patting her on the back. "If you want another one, you only have to ask - I'm sure I can come up with a suitable princely task for you!"

...

The weather at the top was remarkably clear, without any trolls in sight. Sanguine was taking his leave.

"Be careful now, little one" - he said, kissing Lena goodbye. "Don't let the Greybeards bore you too much. I'll be watching."

He waved and disappeared. Lena entered High Hrothgar.
Lena Wolf
25 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - The next task

"Apparently, being able to absorb the dragon language straight from the dragons, doesn't make me a 'proper' Dragonborn yet" - Lena was saying to Hauk and Geralt in a rather annoyed tone. "I now have to go and fetch some horn from one of those crypts."

"And how is that going to prove you're Dragonborn?" - Geralt didn't get it either. "Anyone can go into the crypts, fight the draugr and get whatever is hidden in there, you don't need to be a Dragonborn for that! Unless there's a special test for you in that particular crypt?"

"There's no other way to find out but to go there" - said Hauk pragmatically. "Where is it?"

"Up on the moors, not far from Morthal."

"Charming" - Hauk shivered. "Never liked that place - too many monsters."

"Monsters?" - Geralt looked up. "As in - unnatural creatures to be slain by a witcher, or just unpleasant wildlife?"

"Both. Dangerous giant spiders and chaurusses, rogue draugr and skeletons, vampires, mad wizards, and of course unfriendly necromancers - they've got it all. Oh, and bandits and an occasional assassin - I believe they have their training grounds there." Hauk looked at Lena - "Isn't that where they took you?"

"How did you know?" It was becoming predictable, but Lena couldn't resist.

"Penitus Oculatus."

Of course. Just what exactly was Hauk's role in the Legion? It was pointless to ask - he'd never tell.

"Sounds wonderful" - Lena concluded. "Shall we set off straight away or shall we look around here some more? There are crypts to explore and bandits to slay" - she produced a bounty note for Nilheim.

"Let's stay here a bit longer" - Hauk wasn't keen on leaving. "The mead is good and the innkeep is friendly, so why not hang around some."

None of them was particularly keen to go to the moors just yet, so they decided to stay in Ivarstead for a few days.
macole
Just the mention of monsters will get Geralt's attention every time.
Acadian
Nice that Shroud Hearth Barrow is once again free of unghosts. Gerralt sure know his foes!

Oh, so that's what Astrid does if you let her live through your first encounter. Well, Lena does need info and to infiltrate deeper still.

"What have you done with the Rose?" - asked Sanguine.
"Lost it in a drinking game" - Lena blushed.
"That's my girl!" - laughed Sanguine patting her on the back. "If you want another one, you only have to ask - I'm sure I can come up with a suitable princely task for you!

- - Awesome!

So the Graydudes want Lena to head off to the other end of Skyrim to fetch a horn.
Lena Wolf
QUOTE(macole @ May 24 2021, 08:19 PM) *

Just the mention of monsters will get Geralt's attention every time.


I think he might like it there on the moor. It might remind him of the swamps of Velen with the chill of Kaer Morhen.

QUOTE(Acadian @ May 24 2021, 08:53 PM) *

Nice that Shroud Hearth Barrow is once again free of unghosts. Gerralt sure know his foes!


Witchers are trained monster slayers - and I mean unnatural monsters predominantly from other worlds. Witchers can also lift curses and they know some simple magic. But most of all they indeed know their foes - this is the key. They have extremely acute senses due to mutations that they accrue during their formative years. Only a third of all youngsters make it through the training - the rest die as their bodies cannot take the mutations. But those who live have exceptionally fast reflexes, acute senses, amazing stamina (all-purpose), very high poison resistance and greatly extended life span. Plus of course the knowledge of monsters and elite fighting skills - primarily swords, but they are trained to use any imaginable weapon. In other ways they are just people, in so far as a supermutant can ever be "just" a person. Oh, and they cannot sire children, which makes certain things easier.
Lena Wolf
26 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - The Sanctuary

“Well, since you like the mead here, you won’t mind if I pop out for day or so, will you?” – Lena looked at Hauk and Geralt with a most innocent expression. “You can play around with your new bow, too” – she added turning to Geralt. “Or lose it to Hauk in Gwent.”

Geralt wasn’t used to bows. Of course he knew how to use one – mostly in theory – but he always preferred his sword and a fire spray. But now with the dragons around, he was lacking a ranged weapon, so started training with the bow. They picked up some bows from the draugrs in the crypt, quite decent ones, judging by the new scars on Geralt’s neck. Now he wanted to return the favour.

“All right, you go do your thing” – Hauk replied looking up from his roast. “I’ll keep him busy – the soldiers at the Imperial camp here are getting bored and could use some practice. They’ve never fought a witcher before, either” – he added, grinning.

“Be fair now” – Lena smiled complicitly – “let them attack all at once.”

She hugged her brother, waved to Hauk and left into the night.



“Ah, raw meat” – Arnbjorn greeted Lena at the Sanctuary – “Astrid told me all about you. I don’t like you, and I will never like you, so you best remember that – I love my wife. But you can’t be all bad, since she brought you in.”

“Nice to meet you too, Arnbjorn” – Lena was a bit bewildered. Was that a challenge?

“I’m a werewolf, and I love my wife” – Arnbjorn repeated.

“Ummm…” – Lena wasn’t sure what he expected her to say.

“Don’t listen to the puppy” – Babette joined the conversation. She was just a girl… a child… What sort of a group was this?

Lena’s face must have shown her confusion, because Babette explained: “I was a little girl… once. About 300 years ago. Vampirism keeps you remarkably fresh.”

“Yes, I know” – Lena thought. “But who are you feeding on, Babette?” But she didn’t say anything.

The rest of the group was just as colourful. An ex-Shadowscale, a Redguard in desert garb (in Skyrim?), a grumpy old wizard, a Dark Elf who loved books, walks on the beach and unicorns…

“…and then I stabbed it with a crochet needle, just for fun.” She couldn’t crochet though, that was obvious – she actually said “crochet needle” – what a give-away. They are crochet hooks, of course, not needles… Let’s hope she could tell her swords from her axes better.

“I’m just an old man who doesn’t like to talk” – the wizard said rather unconvincingly. Then told Lena how he was such a prodigy since an early age, doing all sorts of advanced magic as a child, then setting their house on fire – quite by accident – then…

“Yeah, I get the idea” – Lena thought, listening, nodding, and offering gasps of surprise in all the right places. “That monkey suit fits you to the tee.”

The Dark Brotherhood armour design was… err… unusual, to put it mildly. They had leather armour and mage tunics and trousers, some gloves, some boots, some hoods – you could mix and match as you wanted. Black and red design. The armour was skin-tight and made her look like a giant spider woman, the mage’s tunic had big triangles on the front and back, just like a jester, all with a big Black Hand on red background. “So much for being a secret organisation!” – Lena thought in disgust. “Or have they gone commercial?”

She packed away her suit of gifted armour and excused herself for not wearing it: “I’m not good with light armour – always preferred heavy. I’ll switch to it when I’ve got my skills up.” They didn’t insist.

The Sanctuary was quite a cosy place all in all. They seemed to have taken over an old crypt, but there were no draugr alcoves – perhaps those had been cleared. There was a word wall though.

“Pretty, isn’t it?” – Babette commented seeing Lena studying the Wall. “That’s supposed to be in Dragon Language!” Babette pointed at the hieroglyphs. “No one can read it though.”

“You have no idea” – Lena thought but remained silent.

“Silence suits you” – commented Astrid joining them. “Gives you an air of mystery.”

“Oops – time for some small talk!” Lena thought and said with a smile, turning to Astrid: “Oh, I am just taking it all in! It’s amazing!”

“Isn’t it?” Astrid seemed quite pleased with herself. “I see you’ve been getting to know your new family.”

“Yes! And what about you? Tell me about yourself!” Lena said enthusiastically.

“Well, I killed my uncle and liked it. Then I killed again – and liked it even more. Life has been getting better ever since.”

“We have a lot of fun here” – added Babette.

“Can’t wait to join in!” Lena said, thinking that it was best not to ask about Sithis – he was a god of death and chaos, not pleasure and fun. She found a copy of the original Five Tenets, still framed on the wall, but smudged with ale and blood – you could hardly read the text. No one bothered reading it, clearly. “Are there any rules I need to be aware of?” – she asked, just to be sure.

“No, we’ve done away with the Tenets long ago” – answered Astrid. “All that discipline, and look at the state of the Dark Brotherhood now – we are the last group in Tamriel!”

“Oh, I see” – Lena answered, trying not to laugh.

The last group in Tamriel? I like to think of them as the Dark Knitting Circle” – she heard Sheogorath’s voice in her head. Yes, my Prince! You are right, as always.



Nazir had some contracts that no one wanted – just a few boring murders, not paying much, and under no time pressure.

“The targets aren’t going anywhere, so take your time” – he said, giving Lena the details.

“Yeah, why not just wait until they die of old age” – Lena thought making notes of locations. One was in Ivarstead – she might do that one first. She wasn’t planning on doing much work for them, but she wanted to see a few initial contracts through, to get a feel for how things were handled.

“I don’t want to get invested in someone who might be dead in a week” – said Nazir, cutting short their conversation. “Come back alive, and we’ll be the best of friends.”

“Oh, there’s no danger of that” – thought Lena, referring to both his statements. She thanked him for the contracts and took her leave.



It was raining dead hunters – there was one just outside the Sanctuary, and another one further up the road. There was no sign of struggle or wild animals anywhere.

“Sheo – is that your doing?” Lena asked into the emptiness. “I liked burning dogs better.”

She got no answer, and took it for a no. Was that a sign that she had embarked on a path of evil? Oh please keep up, it was way too late for that… Arkay embraced them all and never scorned her, and she didn’t much care for the rest. The god of death? I know him well… Welcome, Assassin.
Lena Wolf
27 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - Nilheim - Riften

"Shhh - you'll wake him" - Hauk pulled Lena to the side. Geralt was still asleep in the other bed, it was 4 a.m. "You've got blood on your armour, you should be more careful - the guards here don't like murder." Hauk was wiping some smudges off Lena's cuirass.

"How..." - she started, but he put a hand over her mouth.

"Shhh..." - he looked at the door. "The guards have just been here looking for anything suspicious" - Hauk whispered into Lena's ear. "Give them half an hour and they'll forget about it, but you do need to lay low just now. They probably saw you come in."

And without another word, he quickly removed her cuirass and pulled her into the bed with him.

"Shhh..."

Lena saw where this was going and didn't protest - she trusted Hauk completely. He had far more experience in covert matters than she did - she'd simply get arrested and pay the fines, but it was far better not to get arrested.

"Oh - pardon me" - a guard walked into the room looking for Lena, and finding her in Hauk's embrace. "False alarm" - he added turning to another guard with a wink.

The guards left, and Lena raised her head to look over Hauk's shoulder. She saw shadows in the hall - the coast wasn't clear yet. She dived back.

The innkeep stuck his head into the door, looking at his guests with interest. The witcher was still asleep, clearly enjoying the comfort of a rather wide bed all to himself - here was a man who valued comfort when he had it. But the other guest... a Nord but not from here... and that girl - the witcher's sister... a much, much younger sister, by the looks of her... She was gone all day, then returned at night, and look where she's now... Well, love birds, you don't need to hide from me, I've seen worse.

The innkeep smirked and left.

"Thank you" - whispered Lena. "I'll be more careful next time."

She was tired after her long journey back and forth - the contract wasn't the only fight along the way.

"Skyrim has an awful lot of bandits" - she whispered to Hauk. "It must be the civil war, I don't remember it being that bad before. I am exhausted. Not all of that blood was from the contract."

She nestled next to her friend and fell asleep.

Hauk stroked her hair gently, thinking to himself again: "If only..."

...

"You can sleep some more, there is no rush" - Geralt looked into the room as Lena was about to get up.

"You heard me come in?"

"Of course I heard you, I'm a witcher" - he grinned. "I just didn't think it would help to show it."

"Well, I'm awake now, might as well get up" - Lena was putting her armour on. "What's for breakfast?"

...

It was a beautiful day, and Lena, Geralt and Hauk decided to ride East and see about those bandits at Nilheim that the Jarl wanted removed. As they approached the bridge to the tower, they saw a merchant sitting on the ground by his broken cart.

"Can you help me?" - he asked. "Bandits have attacked my cart and killed my horse. My camp is just over the bridge by that tower - get me there safely, and you'll be rewarded."

"Ai" - said Lena getting off her horse with a smile - "it will be our pleasure. Always up for a reward."

Of course this was a trap, but this time it were the bandits that got caught in it. Lena summoned a dremora already before the "merchant" declared that they would now be killed, and Hauk and Geralt were ready to join in while the bandits were still unsheathing their weapons. A short but fierce fight followed.

"We shall indeed be rewarded - he didn't lie" - laughed Lena. "But we will need to go to Riften for it. Shall we ride there today? The weather is lovely."

The weather was indeed lovely, and so they rode on.

...

"You have committed crimes against Skyrim and its people" - a guard stopped Lena's horse as they approached Riften. "Pay your fine and surrender any stolen goods."

"I think you're mistaking me for someone else" - Lena replied. "I don't steal. But I'll pay the fine since you asked nicely."

The fine was for an assault. She couldn't remember assaulting anyone unprovoked and not seeing it through.

"They couldn't prove murder and settled on an assault charge" - Hauk was explaining afterwards. "People rarely dispute assaults because everyone does it, just not everyone gets caught."

Ah, yes. She was in Skyrim.

The bounty for the bandits of Nilheim far outweighed the fine, and they still had plenty of coin for a meal and a room. They would stay the night, and go North West tomorrow.

Riften was strange. At the market Lena was approached by some fellow in expensive clothes insisting that none of her wealth had been earned by honest means...

"That depends what you consider honest work" - Lena thought spinning around. "You probably think I'm a wannabe thief and am going to be flattered."

"Well..." - she said hesitantly.

"I've got a proposition for you..." - Brynjolf suddenly broke off as Hauk stood behind Lena. "Well, I'll be at the Bee and Barb later if you want to talk."

"He's Thieves Guild" - Hauk said in Lena's ear. "Our paths had crossed at some point. I think he'll be staying out of your way now."

"Oh, that is interesting" - Lena was watching Brynjolf walk back to his stall on the market. She would remember his face.

They walked around the market some more, looked at the stalls, the Temple of Mara, the wooden houses on the main street. If it was supposed to remind Lena of Bravil, it didn't. Riften had the canal, the bridges and the wooden houses, and even the same patron Divine, but there was no Lucky Lady here and the atmosphere was decidedly different.

IPB Image

"I don't know you - you looking for trouble?" Lena was stopped by an aggressive looking character. "The Black-Briers don't want strangers poking their noses into their business."

"So, there is a business that needs poking, then?" Lena looked him straight in the eye. "Ogre" - she thought. "Equal in force and intelligence."

Maul wasn't used to not have an effect. He stared at Lena menacingly and clutched his fists. She smiled sweetly, but kept her gaze cold. Geralt appeared from a side alley - Maul didn't know him either. The dilemma of what to do next must have overwhelmed him, because he turned around and walked off without another word.

"What was all that about?" Geralt followed Maul with his gaze.

"I have no idea" - replied Lena. "A local bully, perhaps?"

"Another member of the Thieves Guild" - Hauk commented, catching up with them. "This town is drowning in them."

"The Jarl's steward didn't think that the Thieves Guild posed any threat" - Lena related her conversation with the steward earlier.

"That's a convenient stance if you can't solve the problem" - Hauk shook his head. "The Black-Briers are a powerful family, and they support the Thieves Guild. They also often call on your friend Astrid, but the relationship there is more strenuous, I understand. The Black-Briers are demanding customers."

Lena was listening with astonishment, although by now she should have known better.

"How..." - she started, but Geralt touched her arm.

"Let the man have some secrets" - he said. "It gives him an air of mystery."

They laughed and went to the Bee and Barb.
Lena Wolf
28 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - The road to Windhelm

"Let's ride North to Windhelm first, then turn West to Morthal" - Lena was saying at breakfast at the Bee and Barb. "I've got business near Windhelm, and it will be fun to stay right under Ulfrick's nose - right, Hauk?" - she winked at him.

"Oh, don't mind me, Windhelm is not off limits for Imperials, you know" - he replied, focusing on fried eggs on his plate. "Gosh, Argonians can really cook when they want to."

They set off after breakfast and tried to avoid too many distractions along the way. At Shor's Stone Lena started wondering how to get to the top of the mountain, as there was no obvious path - just ragged cliffs.

"What's on the top of the mountain?" - asked Geralt examining the rocks.

"I don't know for sure, but many mountain tops here have Word Walls and some have dragons to go with them" - answered Lena trying to guess whether there was a Word Wall on this mountain top.

"All right, let's see if we can find a way up - sounds like fun" - Geralt agreed.

They circled around the mountain, coming to the Northwind Mine first, but deciding against going in - a mine would go down, not up, surely. Then they found an ascending path on the West and came to a delightful spot - Clearspring Tarn. There was a cave below with a hunting bow on display and a troll ready to eat it. They killed the troll and left the bow where they found it.

"This is good for deer, not people" - remarked Lena examining the enchantment. "Leave it for the hunters."

After a short break by the pond, they continued up, and with a little persuasion their horses jumped over some rocks and landed on a platform with a Word Wall. There were no dragons in sight, just three confused skeletons in a bad mood. The skeletons taken care of, they looked around - the place was a camp, with several tents and bedrolls, some occupied by more skeletons. Then they spotted a set of doors leading into the rock.

"I bet there are more skeletons inside" - predicted Lena looking at Geralt.

"Your bet is off - that's too easy" - he laughed. "Of course there are more skeletons inside. Dead miners and guards, by the looks of it."

"Probably killed by the dragon last time one was here" - added Hauk.

They went in to clear the skeletons. The mine passage was quite short, descending quite steeply. Soon they came out on the other side.

"Why, that's the Northwind Mine!" - Lena exclaimed looking around. "It does go up when you look at it from this end. How odd."

So they were now where they had started a few hours ago. They rode straight North this time until they saw Dwelmer steps going up the mountain on the East side of the road.

"Oh - a Dwelmer ruin!" - Lena was getting excited.

"If we go in there, we might not come out for days - they can be very extensive" - Hauk was running his fingers along the relief on the metal door. "Perhaps we should come back another time."

This was sensible, of course. And boring. Lena went up some more steps and found another door - it wasn't locked.

"We'll just take a peek and come right out" - she said and quickly slipped in before her companions could argue.

Fortunately, this particular hall was quite small and looked like a storage locker. There were ingots of Dwarven metal, some books, and a translucent shard.

"I bet this shard is important for something!" - Lena exclaimed pointing at it but not picking it up. "I'm not touching it - it is bound to send me on a quest that I have no time for."

"Then make a note in your journal and let's go" - Hauk was itching to investigate it as well, but he knew this wasn't the right time. "This is Mzulft, by the way."

"How did you..?" - Lena started, but her companions just laughed.

Continuing up the mountain a bit further, they came to an Imperial camp. It was nearly 3 p.m. and high time for a break and a late lunch. The commander was in his tent, so they went to say hello.

"Optio" - the Legate greeted Hauk. "Back in Skyrim again, I see?"

Optio? Wow.

"On private business mostly this time" - Hauk replied shaking his hand. "We were just passing, and I wanted to say hello."

"It's quiet around here" - the Legate looked at his soldiers tending to the food. "Neither the Stormcloaks nor the Thalmor like Dwelmer ruins much."

They laughed as if it was an insider joke. May be it was. The Legate was old enough to have gone through the Great War.

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After lunch our party continued on to Windhelm. They arrived in the evening, and went straight to Candlehearth Hall. The bard was singing "The Age of Oppression", but otherwise the atmosphere was agreeable.

"I need to pop out for a bit - I won't be long" - Lena said to Hauk and Geralt once they got settled down with mead and roast. "Save me some roast."

She went back out into the blizzard.

...

Lena returned to Windhelm within the hour - her business didn't take long. She walked around the city a bit - it was rather dark and brooding, with overbearing stone buildings. She came to the Palace of Kings - the seat of Ulfrick Stormcloak. It was a grand building, certainly, but "magnificent" wasn't the term for it. Menacing, rather. Lena didn't go in and turned left instead, continuing her walk. Everything was decorated with eagles here - or were they vultures? There was a bird figure on every fence post, giving the area a feel of a battlefield.

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"Interesting choice of decoration" - Lena thought. "I'm not sure how I feel about that."

She noticed that one of the houses was for sale.

"You've got to be friends with Ulfrick to buy it though" - she thought, half-considering it. "But I still remember that old charm spell..."

Walking down the steps she came to the Hall of the Dead. Like everything in Windhelm, it was big, and to Lena's surprise, it looked empty. There were plenty of alcoves, but only a few were occupied - by skeletons, not draugr. The priest wasn't forthcoming, and didn't even want to talk.

"Strange" - Lena thought. "But where is the shrine to Arkay? Surely, they've got one?"

After a while wandering through empty halls, she found it. She always offered a prayer for the soul that she'd just released.

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As always, she received Arkay's blessing.

...

At the Candlehearth Hall entertainment was in full swing. Geralt was fighting two of the locals - apparently they provoked him.

"You say you're a Nord? Then prove it!"

"You want to fight me? Against the two of you, if I was kneeling with my hands bound behind my back and a sack over my head, then may be I'd be your equal. No, not even then."

Two minutes later no one was doubting that Geralt was a Nord. Mead and songs followed.

A mercenary in the corner had been looking at Hauk for some time. Finally he walked over to them.

"Mind if I ask" - he addressed Hauk - "were you not a travelling book seller some years back?"

"I might have been, why?"

"I'm Stenvar - I was but a lad then - you stayed with us on the farm during the War."

"If you say so" - Hauk's face was impenetrable. "I did stay with many families - accomodation during the War was hard to find, and a man has got to eat."

"I still have the book you gave me - The Book of The Dragonborn. I was fascinated by dragons, and look what happened - they are back."

"Umm... it is probably not your fault." Hauk's face was still impenetrable but Geralt and Lena were having a hard time not to laugh.

"Now I'm certain it's you!" - Stenvar wasn't offended, instead he laughed heartily. "I also now know that you were with the Legion at the time, Optio."

"You obviously also know that I am still with the Legion" - Hauk remained calm. "But I am no longer undercover and my rank is not a secret. Not even in Windhelm."

He looked around. A few people looked up at the mention of his rank, but War veterans were still respected in Windhelm, even if they were not with Ulfrick. Besides, Geralt's little display just before was enough to cool down most hot heads in the room.

"I wasn't thinking - I apologise" - Stenvar was getting red in the face. "I am a mercenary now, so mustn't take sides - mercenaries cannot be choosy." He crouched and lowered his voice. "I just wanted to ask - do you still do magic? I tried but it never came to anything."

"Of course, I am a Battlemage." Hauk snapped his fingers and a spectral rabbit hopped over the floor and into Stenvar's lap.

"Pumpkin!" - Stenvar exclaimed a little too loudly. Several people laughed. "You remember!"

"Pull up a chair and share some mead with us" - Hauk was now smiling. "Of course I remember."
Acadian
The Dark Knitting Circle! And they have the goofy armor to back it up. tongue.gif
May I ask your inspiration for Babette? Her character seems familiar somehow.


Plenty of traveling as Lena's crew continues on to Riften then Windhelm.
Lena Wolf
QUOTE(Acadian @ May 26 2021, 08:53 PM) *

The Dark Knitting Circle! And they have the goofy armor to back it up. tongue.gif
May I ask your inspiration for Babette? Her character seems familiar somehow.

Plenty of traveling as Lena's crew continues on to Riften then Windhelm.


The characters of the Dark Brotherhood are the real deal! And the armour too. Most of the dialogue is taken directly from the game. I didn't invent almost any of it... Not even Arnbjorn with his "I don't like you - I love my wife" line. I wonder what he'd say to a male Dragonborn? But he really seems to think that she's coming on to him... some ego there. ohmy.gif

The whole Dark Brotherhood line in Skyrim is a parody of the line in Oblivion, and I don't mean it nicely. Which is why I have a "solution" in mind. wink.gif

The Dark Knitting Circle is not my idea either. It comes from a mod that replaces all loading screens with Uncle Sheo's wisdom. biggrin.gif So yeah, Lena heard Uncle Sheo's voice in her head. It's all true!!! I don't write fiction. wink.gif
Lena Wolf
1 First Seed, 4E202 - Dawnstar

Going West from Windhelm and aiming for Morthal, they somehow ended up in Dawnstar.

"This doesn't look like a moor" - Geralt noted looking over the frozen landscape. "Are you sure we're going in the right direction?"

"It's Dawnstar over there" - Hauk pointed at some houses in the blizzard ahead. "We've veered North too much."

"We followed the road!" - Lena protested. "But since we're here, let's at least stop for lunch."

Dawnstar was a nice little village... err... hold capital. It did have a port however, with a longship moored in it and with a passenger boat taking you to Windhelm. They also had a blacksmith, an alchemist, an inn and a... Mythic Dawn museum.

"Oh, that brings back memories" - Lena grimaced. "I don't think I need to visit that - it might end badly for the owner."

They went to the inn for lunch.

"Why did you not mention that you were an Optio?" - Lena asked Hauk making short work of her roast potatoes.

"The same reason you never wear your Imperial Dragon armour" - Hauk smiled at her. "I am not an open book, and neither are you."

True. May be this is why they liked each other so much.

"While we are here, by the way" - Hauk changed the topic - "we might want to take a short detour North - there's an old Sanctuary there, from the time when the Dark Brotherhood still had branches in Skyrim."

Lena raised an eyebrow.

"Yes, I know about that" - Hauk continued before she could ask anything. "I also know that it's been abandoned for a very long time. The enchantment on the door should still hold though, because no bandit was ever able to make it into their home - and no undercover Legionnaire either." He winked. "But you might be able to enter - or not, if the current group hadn't managed to break the enchantment yet."

This was interesting and warranted an investigation - they would ride there after lunch and stay the night in Dawnstar.

"Pardon me - I am a priest of Mara" - a dark elf approached their table. "I wonder if I could ask for your assistance."

"We are not looking to get married just yet" - Lena looked at him suspiciously. She didn't like priests of Mara, finding them too interfering in people's private affairs.

"It is not about that" - the priest didn't take offence. "This town is suffering from nightmares - perhaps you've heard, and I believe they come from an old shrine of Vaermina nearby. I was hoping one of you would come with me there - there will be fighting to be done, no doubt, too much for me alone."

"Do you know what exactly is going on?" - asked Lena, still eyeing him with suspicion.

"Not exactly, no, but I have an idea which needs verifying" - the priest was evasive.

"Who is Vaermina?" - asked Geralt with interest.

"A Daedric Prince of nightmares, in a nutshell" - answered Lena. "Well, a female Prince, but they don't call them Princess for some reason. Too cute, probably." She grinned.

"This sounds interesting, I'll go" - Geralt agreed. Then turning to the priest he added: "Let me finish my lunch and I'll come and find you."

The priest walked away.

"You two can take care of your respective business here in the meantime, and I won't be getting in your way" - he added shooting a glance at Lena and Hauk and returning to his stew.

It was true that Lena had business in Dawnstar, but she did want to go to Morthal first to get that horn from the crypt and be done with it. But it was not to be. Ok, Dawnstar first then.

...

Geralt went with the priest to a tower nearby. The priest was more than evasive - he was clearly hiding something. He also seemed to know too much about Vaermina, and mostly about Vaermina followers and their secret rituals. Geralt tried asking some careful questions, but got no satisfactory reply.

Then everything became clear. A group of orcs had attacked the tower wanting to kill everyone inside for the nightmares that they were having. The people inside were no match for the orcs, and after heavy losses they decided to seal the tower and place everyone inside in suspension in order to protect Vaermina's artefact. Geralt was to pass through the magical barrier and face the devotees and the orcs inside. There he was to find the artefact and the priest would then destroy it to lift the nightmares. Why the nightmares had started just now was unclear, since the artefact had been there for a very long time. Geralt wanted answers.

Inside the suspended realm, Geralt found three people deciding to erect the barrier, one of whom looked familiar... yes, it was the priest, and Geralt was looking through his eyes. He had been one of Vaermina's followers, yet he ran at the last moment leaving his companions to die in suspension with no means to escape or get help.

"And Mara accepted him as her priest just like that?" - Geralt thought, his opinion of Mara dropping markedly.

There were choices to be made. Kill the priest or spare him, destroy the artefact or claim it for yourself. Either way, the nightmares would be lifted, Vaermina said.

Geralt could never refuse a woman, so he killed the priest and took Vaermina's artefact.

"A crystal skull..." - he thought turning the staff in his hand. "Reminds me of a raven's crystal skull... another time, another realm... lilac and gooseberries..." He inhaled deeply - he could almost smell it. He never told Yennefer where he'd gone to. He was wondering whether she'd find him anyway.

...

With the business taken care of, our three friends gathered at the inn. It was only early evening, and although the sun had set, the aurora and the moons were giving plenty of light. They decided to ride to the old Sanctuary.

"Well, there's the door, but it won't open" - said Lena, having tried to unlock the enchantment. "My enchantment from Cyrodiil won't work of course, and the local group hadn't been able to break it either. Good."

The Sanctuary in the South that Lena had visited, also carried an enchantment - but it had been tempered with. It was secure enough to keep casual trespassers out, but it wasn't the original thing - Lena could tell. It felt wrong. The enchantment on this door however felt different, so it could well have been original. Whether anyone could still open it, remained a question that even Lucien wouldn't know the answer to. But the Night Mother would.

There was nothing else to do here, so they returned to Dawnstar. The news of Geralt's adventure in Vaermina's tower spread fast - no one cared for what happened to the priest, they only wanted the nightmares to be lifted, and with the skull in Geralt's possession, they were all sure their troubles were over. You'd think they would all rush to their beds for a good sleep, but no - celebrations were running into the small hours, and our party could hardly get any sleep at all. But they would still ride to Morthal in the morning.
Lena Wolf
2 First Seed, 4E202 - The Moor - Ustengrav

Riding West from Dawnstar, they soon saw the landscape change - they were coming onto the moors. Ustengrav was on the Eastern edge, and they decided to explore it before going into town. But first Geralt wanted to walk around the moor. It was obvious - the place touched him.

"It is cold, yet not freezing, there's the mist over the water, the buzz of dragonflies and the splashing of fish" - Geralt was getting poetic. "And rambling of walking bones right over there!"

A rogue skeleton put to rest, they continued wandering and trying not to get their feet too wet. The horses seemed to like it well enough, grazing on deathbells and nightshade. They were Nord horses - those mild toxins didn't harm them.

"I could well retire here, you know" - Geralt said looking at Lena.

"You? Retire? Whatever would you do with yourself?" - Lena couldn't quite imagine her brother chopping wood and making stew for the next couple of centuries.

"Well, provided Yen gets here, of course" - he looked into the distance with a longing.

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"Did you tell her where you were going?"

"No."

Lena put her arm around Geralt's shoulders.

"But the djinn was gone, yet you both still felt the same, yes? Well then, she'll find you. She is a powerful sorceress."

"But what if..." - he didn't want to continue.

"Was that another test?"

"Ciri wanted her in Nilfgaard."

"Ciri is now the Empress - she made her choice. And what she said when she went to fight that Elf - did you forget?"

Ciri was Geralt's ward, and a daughter of an Emperor. She was also - in Lena's opinion - a selfish brat. Geralt had revered her though, which is why Ciri's disdainful remark to him was so painful: "What do you know of saving worlds? You are but a witcher." Lena could not forgive Ciri that, and Geralt of course could never forget it.

After that epic battle when their world was saved, Ciri took over the throne from her birth father and became the Empress of Nilfgaard. She decided she wanted Yennefer by her side as her adviser, and what Ciri wanted, Ciri got. Yennefer however wasn't that easy to manipulate, not even by Ciri - her unofficial ward. Lena believed that Yennefer would choose Geralt over Ciri in a heartbeat.

"Come, Wolf, you know her, she'll find you" - Lena stood before Geralt with her hands on his shoulders. "Give it time - it's not that easy."

A spectacular appearance of Yennefer stepping through a portal would have been nice right now, but it didn't happen. Finding Geralt on the other side of the Great Maelstrom was going to take time.

...

Ustengrav was just another crypt. Yes, it was extensive, and it had many draugr walking around, and even a remarkable waterfall grotto with an open sky and a Word Wall. It was all very impressive and a nice adventure in itself, but nothing looked like a test for a Dragonborn.

Then they came to an interesting setup of three stones and three consecutive falling gates. As you approached a stone, its associated gate was raised, and all three had to be raised for you to pass, yet you could never stand close enough to all three stones.

"Ok, you stand by that stone and you by this one" - Lena told Hauk and Geralt to take positions.

No, that didn't work. The stones wanted the same person to activate them all.

"So this is the test, then" - Geralt observed. "Do you have a trick to stretch yourself from here to there, Dragonborn? You don't even have a tail."

"I don't need a tail!" - Lena was feverishly thinking what to do. She stripped most of her gear and tried sprinting between the stones, which worked and got all the gates lifted at once, only to drop back to the ground by the time she got to the passage. She tried that again. And again. Hauk and Geralt stood there with their arms folded watching her with amusement.

"You may want to strip some more" - Hauk was being helpful. Lena wanted to punch him in the ribs, but again he was wearing armour, so she just glared at him instead.

Oh, wait. The Greybeards taught her this shout... It might just do the trick.

The Whirlwind Sprint shout got her through the gates, but only just. She'd been running back and forth for a good half hour before she finally cleared the gates and pulled on a chain from the other side to lock them open. Phew, what a test.

"So then, a Dragonborn is supposed to be swift, first and foremost" - Lena summarised her experience while getting dressed. "I'm ready for a snack now."

"Let's pass through those gates first" - Hauk was examining the mechanism. "They are not going to stay open for long."

Through the gates and up the corridor, more draugr were waiting, but eventually they found a suitable chamber for a lunch break.

"I was expecting something where you'd have to breathe fire" - Hauk said disappointedly. "Not run around in your knickers - as amusing as that was."

"I can't breathe fire" - said Lena defiantly.

"Isn't that what Firebrandy is for?" - Geralt chimed in.

"Well, if you are going to make fun of me, then at least pass me the cheese." She was going to be teased about this for the rest of her days, she just knew it. Best laugh it off then.

...

"Oh, that is an impressive hall - and there's an alter at the end!" - Lena exclaimed when they entered what looked like the main chamber. "The horn must be here."

There was a horn-shaped cradle on the alter, but no horn. Instead, there was a note asking the Dragonborn to come and see a "friend".

"What? In Riverwood?" - Lena was furious. "Is it the innkeep or the barmaid, do you think? And I thought you had to be Dragonborn to get here!!"

Hauk and Geralt backed off - Lena was almost breathing fire.

Alas, there was nothing else to do but to pack the note and leave.

"Whoever they are, they didn't make any friends here" - Hauk said to Geralt in a low voice. "Your sister has got quite a temper."

Geralt watched Lena put down a small crowd of draugrs with fire and rage.

"She'll cool off eventually" - Geralt said, keeping his distance. "This is what I must look like when I'm angry" - he thought to himself. He knew exactly how she felt.

...

It was quite late when they came out of Ustengrav, rather disappointed with the whole adventure. There was a fire pit and some bedrolls by the entrance, and they decided to camp right there for the night rather than go to Morthal. Lena was still fuming.

"I'll take the first watch" - she said. "I don't feel like sleeping."

Some hours later Geralt got up to take over, but instead of sleeping, Lena walked off into the moor.

No, she wasn't suicidal. She had spotted an abandoned shack nearby, and wanted to check whether that was indeed the place where Astrid had taken her. She still had the key.

The shack was covered in blood outside.

"Deer blood" - Lena noted, tasting it. "How theatrical."

Inside it was as she remembered it - damp, dark and dirty. The corpses of the subjects that she had killed were still there, now starting to smell. She looked around for a trace of the teleport.

"There it is" - she saw a faded imprint of a rune. "A single use portal. Astrid must have an activator with her, or a special spell. Their mage is really something."

This was clearly a custom spell created specifically for this purpose. Hauk was right - this was their training ground. Lena made a note to pay more attention to the mage next time she was at the Sanctuary, even if it did mean sitting through more of his stories of greatness.

She returned to the camp, now relaxed. She didn't have the horn, but at least she learned something at the shack, so the trip wasn't a complete waste. She could sleep now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3 First Seed, 4E202 - Delphine

The road to Riverwood was uneventful. Lena was unusually quiet and pushed on without distractions, Hauk and Geralt followed, sensing that it was best to let her be. In Riverwood Lena went straight for the inn.

"I am here to rent the attic room" - she told the barmaid.

"Well, we don't have an attic room, but you can have this one on the left" - replied the barmaid taking her money.

"This better be good" - Lena thought to herself going into the room and closing the door.

She didn't even have time to sit down when the barmaid came in asking her to follow. They crossed to the room opposite, where the barmaid opened a secret door leading to a cellar.

"Close the door and follow me" - said the barmaid in a commanding tone. She was no barmaid.

Lena decided to play along for now and see where this was going.

The cellar was set up as a small command post - armour, weapons, medicines, poisons and other supplies where here, as well as the crafting stations. There was a map of Skyrim on the table with some locations marked on it. It wasn't about the Civil War.

Delphine the barmaid gave Lena the horn and said that she was with the Blades. That figured. Elite troops who behaved like elite, weren't Lena's favourite people, and Delphine certainly fitted the profile - superiority incarnate.

"And if you prove to me that you are Dragonborn, I promise to tell you everything" - she said with an air of making an offer that Lena could not refuse. And this is where she was wrong.

"Thanks for the horn. I don't have to prove anything to you. Good day" - Lena said coldly and left.

The Blades weren't just the Emperor's personal guard, they were also dragon slayers, or had been, when there were still dragons around. There weren't many of the Blades left - the Thalmor were very thorough. But any troops can be rebuilt, and the Blades were no exception - fighting skills could be trained, no one was born a swordsman. What they needed however was a Dragonborn - someone who could permanently destroy dragon souls. The Blades' interest in Lena was obvious - they wanted her to fight and destroy dragons, now that the dragons were returning. They weren't interested in anything else. Lena didn't need to hear Delphine's story to figure it all out. She didn't know who else was around and how Delphine planned to rebuild the Blades, but she didn't care either. Find some other Dragonborn.

Thinking these thoughts, Lena returned to the hunter's cabin where Hauk was making stew.

"Well? Did you get the horn?" - he asked, stirring.

"Yes, here it is" - Lena turned it over in her hand. "It's a hunting horn."

"It's not what it is, it's where you got it from that matters though" - noted Hauk. "It was the barmaid, right?"

"Yes. She's with the Blades" - replied Lena rather reluctantly. She was annoyed and didn't want to talk about it.

"Yeah, I thought so" - Hauk smirked. "Never seen a barmaid command the ale to stop fermenting before."

Geralt returned with some venison and rabbit, and the mood much improved. They would have to go to Ivarstead again, but at least for now they could relax.

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...

"I've got a house West from here" - Lena said at dinner, looking at Geralt. "In case you've had enough of Sven's mother. I hear she doesn't let you out of her sight when you are in Riverwood."

It was Geralt's turn to get annoyed.

"True - the woman is very persistent. Where is this house and why have you not said anything before?"

"It's not that far, but far enough" - Lena pointed down the road West. "It's by the lake there, near Pinewatch, if you know it. But I haven't been there in a long time, it might have squatters now. Pinewatch is a bandit base, after all. The Jarl granted me rights to the Lake View in exchange for some favours." Lena looked up from her bowl, and seeing a bemused expression on Geralt's face, she hastened to add: "Bandit removal favours. The Jarl is not very scrupulous who he associates with, and has regular disagreements that need 'resolving'. He wanted to make me a Thane, but I refused."

"Yeah, the Jarl of Falkreath has quite a reputation" - Hauk adding grinning.

"Well then, we need to ride there and see what it's like" - Geralt liked the idea. "I could use a break from Sven's mother."
Lena Wolf
4-5 First Seed, 4E202 - Lake View - Helgen - Ivarstead

"This is brilliant!" - was Geralt's comment when he saw the Lake View house. "And there is even a necromancer down by the lake for my own personal pleasure."

"Well, the house is yours to live in if you want it" - Lena laughed. "Be gentle with the necromancer though - I think it's just a novice conjurer."

Geralt looked tired. Something was bothering him, and Lena thought it was probably Yennefer - that she hadn't followed him yet. But he didn't tell her where he was headed! Finding someone on the other side of the Great Maelstrom was difficult even for an accomplished sorceress like Yennefer, and you had to think of looking there in the first place. But logic was useless in the matters of the heart.

"Why don't you stay here while Hauk and I go to Ivarstead" - Lena suggested. "We'll come and see you before going back to Cyrodiil."

Geralt agreed.

4 First Seed

The way to Ivarstead went through Helgen. The Western gate was unlocked, and after dispatching a few bandits, Lena and Hauk decided to look around.

Wooden houses were all destroyed - burned by the dragon or just collapsed under its weight. The watch tower still stood, with the Imperial banner moving slightly in the breeze. Even the execution block was still there. Lena shivered - she did not cherish that particular memory.

The Southern and Eastern gates were locked, and there was a lone Imperial soldier on the Southern wall.

"Shall we walk over to him and see why he is there all alone?" - Lena suggested, thinking he might need help.

"No, not like this" - Hauk patted his steel plate armour. "Not unless we're dressed in Legion armour. He is confused, he'll think we are hostile - I've seen a lot of that during the War. I'll send word from the next camp."

They slipped quietly towards the Eastern gate and unlocked it.

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"Ralof!"

Ralof was standing on the other side, looking lost.

"Hello" - he said. He didn't recognise Lena. It's been months and months since the dragon attack.

"What are you doing here? Why don't you go to the camp just up the road?" Lena remembered a Stormcloak camp nearby.

"Camp? What camp? Why?"

Lena looked at Hauk but he only shook his head.

"Well, there's food in the tower" - she turned to Ralof.

"I'm Ok, there are rabbits here. And snowberries."

She noticed a small campsite under the trees by the wall. Ralof would be Ok for a few more days, then she'd take him to his sister in Riverwood if he was still there on their way back. The Legion might do it if they got there first. She thought of letting the Stormcloaks at the camp know, but recalling their last encounter, she reconsidered. If the Stormcloaks were resorting to robbing passing travellers for food, then Ralof was better off on his own.

...

The innkeep in Ivarstead was glad to see them again, they stayed the night and Lena would go up to High Hrothgar in the morning.

"I don't have a double bed for you love birds, but I think you won't mind" - the innkeep winked at them.

They didn't mind. Skyrim beds were wide enough for two people, and were far better than scant bedrolls that they had to share so many times before. Love birds - no, friends - yes.

5 First Seed

"I'll go with you this time" - said Hauk in the morning. "Sanguine might not appear every time, and dremora churls aren't that powerful against frost trolls."

Lena had told him how she was surprised when Sanguine appeared instead of a churl last time she went to High Hrothgar.

"There might not be a frost troll there this time" - Lena objected. But then changed her mind: "But still, I'd be glad of your company."

IPB Image

She was uncomfortable with this whole Dragonborn business. She didn't like Delphine but felt that she would not be able to avoid her for much longer. Lena still remembered quite vividly the disdain of the Blades last time around - during the Oblivion Crisis. They made her an "honorary" Blade, meaning: you are not good enough to be one of us, but we have to follow orders. Yet it was she and the "mere" city guards that were closing those damned Oblivion gates while the Blades stayed away in the Cloud Ruler Temple. She never wanted to deal with another Blade ever again, but it looked like she had to this time.

And the Greybeards. Wise old men? Or monks keeping secrets from the unworthy populace? Why was the Thu'um so important to the Nords in the first place? They never explained it properly, always saying evasive things like: "Follow the path of the Voice". Which path was that? The one with a frost troll along the way, it seemed.

She asked Hauk about the Thu'um but he didn't know any more than anyone else. He could tell her the legends and stories that every Nord child grew up with, but he didn't know where they came from, exactly.

"You will probably need to follow up on this and see where it leads you, if you want to find out" - he said. "I've got a feeling you'll get embroiled in everything along the way, Civil War included. Can't say I envy you there."

"Do you think I should join the Legion sooner rather than later?"

"I would not rush that" - Hauk looked at her searching. "You have other business as well. General Talius does not approve of Lucien Lachance."

"They would not need to know."

"Oh, they already know. Why do you think Hadvar is here? They are keeping an eye on you."

Lena would never join the Stormcloaks but this surveillance by the Legion wasn't exactly pleasant either.

"So what about that execution?" - she suddenly remembered the Helgen incident. "Did they actually mean to behead me?"

"No, not then. You were not Dragonborn yet" - Hauk seemed certain. "They don't want to behead you now either - they need you. And if you behave yourself and keep Lucien out of Skyrim, they may even forgive you your little hobby."

"Ok, I promise not to assassinate any important generals" - Lena joked.

"Be careful with that. Wars bring a lot of work for any group of assassins, even one as mediocre as Astrid's."

What?! How did he... Lena opened her mouth in surprise but Hauk was already laughing, so she didn't say anything.

...

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"Ok, since you already know, I'll tell you" - Lena stopped her horse and turned to face Hauk. "These assassins are strange. Strange that they don't know - or don't care - that I'm Dragonborn, strange that they have no idea that the Dark Brotherhood is not dead... and now they think they've got the Night Mother here because Cicero brought with him a woman's corpse. It seems too ridiculous for anyone to believe."

"Wishful thinking, perhaps?" - you didn't need to be with the Dark Brotherhood to know that the Night Mother wasn't a mortal woman.

"It's as if they use our name and symbolism to get work - I doubt they'd get any otherwise" - Lena looked uncertain. "They've taken over an old Sanctuary but it isn't theirs by right. They say they've done away with the old ways in order to survive, but I think Astrid simply used the name to build a brand new group that has nothing to do with us. There have never been any 'old ways' here - it's just Astrid and her rule."

"You don't like it."

"I... no."

"You could change it."

Lena looked at Hauk wondering what he was suggesting.

"I don't want to build my own group, even under the Night Mother, if that's what you mean" - she said slowly. "I am an Assassin, not a Listener. That's a very different job."

"I know just how you feel" - Hauk said after a pause. "The same reason why I am an Optio and not a Legate."

"Yeah - field work. Offices are not for us" - Lena said smiling complicitly.

They had already been to High Hrothgar to deliver the horn - and nothing noteworthy happened. They were now headed back to the Lake View where they would spend the night and set off to Cyrodiil in the morning.
Lena Wolf
Note about Ralof

Poor Ralof is actually really standing by the Eastern gate of Helgen in my game, feeling lost. I started this playthrough with an alternate start (Fast Alternate Start for PS4) as a Dark Brotherhood assassin, so I didn't go through the Helgen tutorial. However, "Before the Storm" quest is still started when you go talk to Alvor, and there you find Hadvar saying you saved his life. So this is then the default. Ralof however is left in Helgen and never moved to Riverwood as he would be normally if you followed Hadvar.

Of course this gives me an idea. I didn't like existing Helgen rebuilt alternatives, so I might come up with something myself. Also, Ralof would make for an interesting friend with a good story, as long as you don't pair him up with Hadvar... hmmm... cool.gif
Lena Wolf
7 First Seed, 4E202 - Report

Lena was gone for three weeks, and now once again she was sitting at dinner with Lucien. She brought her report on the Dark Brotherhood group in Skyrim.

"It's a bunch of murderers. They kill for the pleasure of killing."

"Well, an assassin should not be avert to killing" - Lucien smiled. "What do you mean, exactly?"

"Exactly what I said: the only thing that drives them is the pleasure that they derive from taking a life. They don't care who or why. They don't serve Sithis or anyone else - only their own Pleasure."

"You don't serve Sithis either, or so you said."

"I don't. I serve the Brotherhood though."

"Yes."

Lucien gave Lena a long look.

"I was one of the young assassins sent to eliminate any and all of the members of Crimson Scar - your great-uncle's group" - he said still keeping his eyes on Lena's. "We were warned that the Crimson Scar members were superior to us in strength and skill, partly because they were vampires. For once, we were told to come back alive - retreating if necessary. 'Kill just one of them and come back' - we were told. 'There will be many more visits until we've killed them all.' It was a very unusual approach for the Dark Brotherhood."

Lucien was watching Lena's reaction. He knew that she had read her great-uncles journal and was aware of the events.

"In the end I killed your great-uncle."

Lena didn't divert her gaze.

"He was a crazy man and Sithis would have been pleased with either outcome. Whoever spills more blood. But Uncle had turned on his brothers first by turning some of them to his side, and thus he betrayed the Brotherhood. You were right to kill him."

"You do not blame me then?"

"No, Lucien."

They sat in silence for a while.

"Why did you disobey my order back then and refused to perform Purification?" - it seemed that Lucien had wanted to ask that question for a long time.

"I did not trust the 'evidence'. It didn't make sense to me. I could not see anyone in Cheydinhal to be traitors or why I should be above suspicion. I thought you might have been framed to give that order. I didn't trust where it came from. I served my family."

"And paid dearly for that. I am glad however that you proved to be a better assassin than the ones that were sent after you."

"Is that why you wanted me to rejoin?"

"You are my Silencer, I never replaced you" - Lucien answered simply.

"But... I refused your order! I was exiled, I never made it past Assassin" - Lena protested. "And I'm still climbing up through the ranks all over again."

"When you refused and several other assassins failed to purify Cheydinhal, the traitor panicked. He started substituting dead drops for Silencers of the other Speakers, and indeed several important people were killed before we figured out what was happening. But because it wasn't my Silencer doing it, and because I myself was exiled at the time - oh yes - when the others found the traitor, found his diaries, everything, my exile was called off, as well as the hunt for you. You were already gone - to the Shivering Isles, as we now know. I made you my Silencer then."

He got up, took a package from a chest and put it in front of Lena on the table.

"Of course, you didn't know it. Now you do. These are yours."

"Black Hand robes!" - Lena touched the folded robes as if to ascertain they were real. The cloth felt smooth, the enchantment tickled.

"Your current climbing through the ranks is just a formality, and because you refused a promotion - remember?" - he smiled.

"I asked for a house instead" - Lena smiled back. "But what good was it to you to have an absent Silencer?"

"I didn't want anyone else. I would wait for you to return - and you have."

"You've waited 200 years."

"It was worth it."

Lena looked up, then continued patting the robes, smoothing out the wrinkles, sliding her hand into the glove.

Lucien brought another bottle of Tamika West Weald - Lena's favourite.

"So what of the Skyrim group - should we eliminate them?"

"No, leave them be. They keep the name of the Dark Brotherhood known in Skyrim" - Lena raised a toast. "Here's to your ghost, Lucien - they believe you to be dead along with everyone in Cheydinhal!"

They drank and tried not to choke with laughter.

"My ghost?" - Lucien was amused.

Lena snapped her fingers and a Spectral Assassin appeared before them.

"You summon me again, sister" - he said. He did look a little like Lucien. He looked around, didn't see any threats, and just stood there, with his arms folded.

"Their mage came up with this spell."

"He doesn't recognise me" - said Lucien. "Whose ghost is it?"

"I have no idea" - said Lena. "I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't anyone's ghost at all. Their mage is quite gifted, this apparition could be completely synthetic." She dispelled the Spectral Assassin.

History books recorded the Purification of the Cheydinhal Sanctuary as completed with the Dark Brotherhood collapsing some time after that. But we all know that history books have little to do with reality. It seems that the Skyrim group imagined themselves to be the only surviving Dark Brotherhood group, and Cicero only confirmed their belief. Cicero however had never been a member of the Dark Brotherhood, just as the Night Mother could not be killed because she wasn't any one woman.

Lena didn't want to speak of the Skyrim group any more.

"Astrid told me to join the Thieves Guild to help deal with the fines and jail sentences. Me - Thieves Guild!!"

"I can see you doing it with only one purpose, and that won't be to deal with the fines" - Lucien nodded.

"Despicable" - they said together and laughed. More wine and cheese followed.

"I..." - Lena started hesitantly. She had to get something off her chest. "I wasn't away all of this time..." - she fidgeted. "I was coming and going... especially in the beginning. I had things that needed taking care of."

"I know" - Lucien didn't sound surprised. "The cure for vampirism being one."

"Yes" - that was not all, clearly. Lena continued to fidget. "And... I came here many a time, and I stayed here while you were away."

"And took some of my poisoned apples, yet left other excellent poisons behind. I know. I wasn't always away."

Lena knew of course that Lucien could just disappear, yet she had never checked to see whether she was alone.

"Is that why you replaced that narrow cot by this double bed? Added other furniture? I was expecting to run into someone else here, but never have, and after a while decided you just wanted more comfort."

"I came in late one night and you were asleep in my bed. This was the first time I saw you after you'd disappeared. I slept on the floor, and left before you woke up. Borba was very accommodating regarding the furniture. She's very discreet, too."

Borba. Of course.

"You kept my flowers" - Lucien said after a pause.

"I... I was surprised at the lily of the valley" - Lena said. "Are you sure?"

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"That I love you? Of course." He paused. "I require nothing of you, you keep your freedom. But if you ever... I'm here."

...

Lena was overwhelmed. She stood looking at Lucien, not able to move or say anything, and she didn't know what she would say. Tears ran down her face, yet she was smiling, her heart beating fast. She took a step forward and stretched out her arm - and touched Lucien on the shoulder. It was as if she had expected him not to be there. No, he was there, she hadn't dreamt it.

Lucien watched Lena's reaction in silence, giving her time to regain control. When she didn't, he stepped towards her and pulled her into a tight embrace - the way friends do after a long separation. For this was what they were first and foremost - old friends.

"Stay here tonight" - he said wiping her tears. "You need a good rest. I'll vanish and give you peace."

"I..." - Lena found her voice. "No, Lucien, don't go."

She got into bed and fell asleep, exhausted. It had been a long day.
Renee
I am going back to the beginning, just because it'll answer some stuff, and flesh out some other stuff. Over at Beth's forums we were deep into Lena's story, so let's find out how it starts.

QUOTE
Having tried this and that without much success and having had enough of goblins stealing my sweetrolls, I walked into Bravil's Mages Guild hoping to steal one of theirs.


Awesome! This is like a lot of 16 year-olds who have been thrust onto the streets, I'd imagine. Just so you know, Acadian's Buffy also grew up in Bravil.

Oh okay good. So she gets taken in by the Mages Guild. Could she perform any magic at that point? Or I suppose they saw something in her, and wanted to take her in; steer a young Lena on the right path.

She went to jail for stealing a sweetroll. unsure.gif

And became infected with vampire's disease. Mages Guild had no prob with this, but the FG kicked her to the curb!

I am glad she told Thieves Guild to fokke off. Not that they haven't got their place in Tamriel, but for some reason I don't think being in TG suits her.

Did you (and her) enjoy closing Oblivion gates? How long did she spend doing so, roughly? I'll let you know later why I ask these things.

I like how you continue her story into the 4th Era. As you know, I have done this with basically most of my PC characters, as well. smile.gif A lot of my characters on console (PS3 or Xbox) lived in the 3rd Era, and did most of those quests in the vanilla game, whereas a lot of my characters on PC live in the 4th Era. It's how I explain all the modded content in their games, which weren't around before!

Whoa, she meets Geralt! As in THE Witcher. emot-ninja1.gif
Lena Wolf
QUOTE(Renee @ May 30 2021, 03:32 PM) *

So she gets taken in by the Mages Guild. Could she perform any magic at that point? Or I suppose they saw something in her, and wanted to take her in; steer a young Lena on the right path.

She might have been able to do some simple magic, she was rather gifted, being a Breton and her mother having been a mage. Not that she remembered her mother really - she died when Lena was four. But I think mostly the mages saw some potential and tookher in, you know how Kud-Ei is. smile.gif

QUOTE
She went to jail for stealing a sweetroll. unsure.gif

Not just a sweetroll, or rather this wasn't the first time she got caught. It was the famous "one sweetroll too many" situation. The City Watch had figured that a short stay in jail might make her think twice next time.

QUOTE

Did you (and her) enjoy closing Oblivion gates? How long did she spend doing so, roughly? I'll let you know later why I ask these things.

It took about 3.5 years to get it all sorted... If anyone tells you that the Oblivion Crisis was over within a week, just laugh in their face. wink.gif But of course there were other things going on as well, and as a vampire, she had to stay out of the sun... She closed a LOT of gates. It was easy enough once her illusion skill got so high that she could get 100% chameleon with rings and spells, but the sun was always a problem, or molten lava as is the case in Mehrus Dagon's realm. On the flip side however, Xivilai blood proved very nutritious. If you could get them to sleep first, that is. Or paralyse them for long enough. Dremora too - Sanguine is still being careful.

But did she enjoy it? It was fun at first, but became tedious after some time.
Lena Wolf
8-10 First Seed, 4E202 - Dark Fissure

After that long conversation with Lucien the night before, Lena still felt overwhelmed. She was vaguely aware of Lucien moving around the room while she slept, so he didn't leave. He was making breakfast when she got up, and he didn't look tired - he must have slept too. It seemed this wasn't the first time, as he said, but it was the first time that Lena became aware of what she had been doing: staying in someone else's home without their permission. This was going to have consequences.

8 First Seed

Lucien finished cooking. A classic fry-up with a bloody steak for Lena.

"You look pale" - he said.

Last night, when he hugged her, his neck was so close to her face... and all she could think about was how good that vein looked... and that scent...

She had been drained, overwhelmed and exhausted - the things they discussed literally turned her world upside down. Two hundred years was a long time to wait. He must have been part-elf, because he didn't age much and he wasn't a vampire. An Imperial with a Breton name...

Lena's mind was mulling over these thoughts while she finished her steak. She was feeling better now, and the visions of Lucien's veins faded away. She looked up. Lucien met her eyes, smiled and nodded.

"What?"

"Your eyes are back to amber" - he said.

...

It was time to get going, Lena had things to do, and Lucien probably did as well. She tried on her new Black Hand robes. Yes, she would be using these today. They were just like mage's black robes, almost the same, no insignia, nothing like the flashy outfits of Skyrim assassins that made them stand out a mile and be noticed - and perhaps that was the point.

"No need for advertising here" - she thought.

9 First Seed

It was almost 9 a.m. but Lena hadn't slept yet. With her business in the Imperial City completed, she stopped by the Arcane University to make some custom spells and to plunder their garden. She then went to her house on the Waterfront to practice the spells and brew poisons and potions. She was going to travel alone for a while and wanted to be prepared. She hadn't noticed that she'd been up all night.

"Well, I can sleep there" - she thought. The Mages Guild wanted her to do some surveillance and it could well take days on end, even a week if she was unlucky. She packed a bedroll and some provisions and set off to the Dark Fissure.

10 First Seed

Midnight came, and Masser was in Revenant. This meant that Masser stood just at the right angle in the sky to send a beam of purple light. What luck that it happened on the first night! It was a weekly phenomenon.

IPB Image

The necromancers had set up an alter to convert grand soul gems into black ones under this light. Lena observed the ritual from the one place where the necromancers weren't looking: above them.

After that she decided to have a closer look at the alter. One of the alcolytes was still there.

IPB Image

"Unwise" - Lena thought. "My black robes are not the same as your black robes."

She had enough information for Raminus Polus, but she was tired and decided to spend the day in Cheydinhal. She was also due at the Sanctuary to report on her job in the Imperial City. Raminus could wait another day.
Lena Wolf
10 First Seed, 4E202 - Family

"Precise and discreet, as usual" - said Ocheeva handing over the bonus. "We expect another contract soon, if you want it."

"I do" - Lena looked determined. "I've been away far too long."

"Nonsense" - Ocheeva smiled warmly. "He always knew you'd be back."

Lena looked in Ocheeva's amber eyes and saw her adoptive grandmother before her. She too could see everything plainly.

"How..." - she hesitated. "Why did the others allow him to appoint an absent Silencer?"

"He didn't give them any choice. The Night Mother reluctantly agreed, the others followed. He was very busy doing everything himself, especially during the War there was a lot of work."

Lena fidgeted.

"I suppose I should be going... I'll be around, just leave a note upstairs when you need me." She stood up to leave.

"Oh" - she sat down again. "There's an ex-Shadowscale among the Skyrim assassins. Claims to be the last of his kind. I thought you might want to know. I'll be going back there at some point, in case you need anything."

"Thank you, dear" - Ocheeva smiled. "He's just a fool. His cell collapsed or else he was made to believe that it collapsed, and now he thinks he's the last one. They probably put him there on purpose too - without him knowing it. Not all Shadowscales are blessed with brains, you know. But I'll send word, all the same."

Ocheeva took Lena's hand.

"Those robes suit you. Don't worry about anything, dear. Things will fall into place when the time is right, and it isn't for a while yet."

Was that Lena's grandmother talking? Or was it just the Argonian way?

...

The news of Lena's reinstated rank spread quickly through the Sanctuary, not the least because she was wearing her Black Hand robes.

"Good to see you're really back, sister" - Antoinetta Marie greeted her. "I'm glad you didn't get killed... err... you know!" - she beamed at Lena. "I still think I should have Ocheeva's job, and I don't mind telling you this, since you know talent when you see it, too."

This had become a running joke in the Sanctuary over the years. Antoinette Marie was ambitious, and believed herself to be an exceptionally talented assassin. While she certainly had her merits, she was... shall we say... too talkative. And her cooking made Vicente ill.

"I thought you were gone for good" - Gogron joined in. "I was probably the only one surprised when you reappeared. I'm not that subtle!" - he chuckled. "Is it true that you're a Silencer? Have been all this time? Is that why Ocheeva and Vicente were out on jobs more often than usual? To fill in?"

Gogron was definitely not subtle - and not trying to be, either. "Bonus - what bonus?" - he used to say and chuckle. But he never missed his mark, doing things his way.

"Don't you start, Gogron" - Telaendril gave him a tender look. Then turning to Lena, she added, smiling: "He's such a brute! We're all glad you're back, wearing those robes. Even M'raaj-Dar, although he'll still say that the new recruit isn't fit to polish his boots..."

"We are also all glad to still be alive" - Teinaava hissed into Lena's ear. He was the only one to mention the failed Purification. "After that Argonian heart, I wouldn't take my chances against your Sufferthorn, Silencer."

Vicente was crossing the hall when he saw them talking.

"If I could have a word..." - he smiled at Lena.

She followed him to his quarters.

"I know you cured your vampirism, but that cure has some negative effects, does it not?" - he smiled again. "And I don't mean the looks - you obviously fixed that. That cure also leaves you weakened, your blood doesn't regenerate as well as it should. You noticed it, no doubt."

Lena was thinking of all those encounters with ghosts and liches that seemed to affect her far worse than anyone else. Like those ghosts in the Benirus Manor, and Hauk offering his neck to her afterwards. May be he wasn't joking.

"You are no longer a vampire, but you can still drink blood - and assimilate it into your own, like a vampire. You don't need it to survive, but you can still use it."

That explained those sudden urges... It seemed Hauk wasn't joking.

"Ah - but you no longer have the fangs. Or do you?" - Vicente seemed to have researched this topic very well. "Janus Hassildor and I had a long talk with your cure potion on the table. When Janus' wife could not be saved by it, he had to rethink his own existence. He offered me the cure too - we go a long way - but neither of us wanted it in the end. We had no one among the living that we would want to grow old with."

Lena was listening, and wondering just why she had been so eager to take that cure back then. She was young and inexperienced, she had assumed the cure would make her like before... and was bitterly disappointed when it didn't. This was a lesson in not assuming anything and not giving in to wishful thinking. The witch had never promised to make her like before - she only promised to make her mortal.

"I just wanted to say" - Vicente saw shadows passing over Lena's face - "now that you've taken that cure, you might need blood to recover from a bad fight."

Hauk wasn't joking.

"I have bottled blood here, as you know, just ask when you need it. Sister."

Sister. Lena was really back with her family. And Hauk... he knew what an ex-vampire would need... and was willing to provide it. Lena finally knew who her friends were.
Lena Wolf
12 First Seed, 4E202 - Othrelos

"Someone killed Othrelos in his house in the Imperial City" - Garrus was saying to Lena over dinner. She had returned to Cheydinhal and bumped into him in the street. Garrus was just coming off duty, so they decided to catch up.

"Othrelos?" - Lena raised an eyebrow. "Who was he?"

Garrus smirked.

"It's Ok, I'm off duty, I won't tell anyone" - he winked at her. Garrus Darelliun was the Captain of the Cheydinhal City Guard, and Lena's friend. "He had a small non-fatal stab wound, but mostly his heart ripped apart as if from electrocution. His girlfriend found him."

"While holding the bloody dagger, no doubt. Was he seeing someone else?"

"He was, but they never found the dagger" - Garrus confirmed. "Leave the dagger there, next time. Or leave some dagger, anyway, I doubt you'll part with yours." He pointed at her Sufferthorn.

"So, she zapped him then" - Lena wasn't giving up.

"No scorch marks. It was poison, just like Fathis Ules. We are not all idiots, you know" - Garrus looked at her smiling. He was such a tease!

"Poor man... Othrelos, you said?" - Lena smiled back. "Scornful women can be quite dangerous, as Fathis Ules also found out."

"I wonder who's next" - Garrus mused. "They seem to be going for the Thieves Guild, and there have been reports of a peculiar wraith haunting the abandoned house in Anvil. Appeared fairly recently."

"Peculiar - how so?"

"It speaks - whispers - of the wrath of Sithis."

"Sithis?"

"Oh please! I know it's your doing" - Garrus looked Lena in the eye. "I am not Adamus Philida, and this is Cheydinhal, so don't worry - this is not going on report."

Lena wasn't worried about it going on report, but speaking about Dark Brotherhood business was against the rules. Except in this case.

"I heard Countess Umbranox put out a contract on her husband's life" - she said. "He didn't stay with her very long after he was unmasked as the Grey Fox a long time ago. Apparently he got bored with honest life and disappeared on her. So here's another scornful woman."

"I've heard the same" - Garrus nodded. "But what's with the wraith?"

"I hear the lady wanted him to be afraid first, a quick death being too merciful for her liking."

"That explains the deaths of the other Thieves Guild members, too. Very good indeed!" Garrus did not approve of the Thieves Guild.

"How do you like your Captain's duties, now that you are no longer stuck patrolling the throne room all day?" - asked Lena changing the topic.

"Much better!" - Garrus refilled their goblets. "That Regina Regis is also whipping the guards into shape as I never could. As a second in command, she runs the barracks now, while I... why, I get to stroll around town and talk to passers by!"

...

"So where are you off to next?" - Garrus asked after a while.

"South. To face some necromancers for the Mages Guild at Nenyond Twyll and to retrieve something from a tomb at Water's Edge for the Fighters Guild" - Lena went through her journal.

"Is Hauk with you?"

"No, he's been called away."

"Well, if you'd like company..." - Garrus put on his most charming smile - "I'm sure I can get time off."

IPB Image

It's been a month since their last adventure together, and Garrus was getting bored. Lena couldn't refuse him, even if she wanted to.
Lena Wolf
What follows happened over a month ago - this is how Garrus and Lena met.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2 Sun's Dawn, 4E202 - Garrus Darelliun

Garrus Darelliun was pushing 40. Born too late to fight in the Great War, he grew up in its shadow, admiring the great heros and wishing he'd be just a bit older to join them. Instead, he joined the Imperial City Watch.

The Imperial City had many attractions for a young man, many attractions in female form. He was quite the ladies' man and was having the time of his life until one of the ladies turned out to be a rich heiress not willing to share. He heard the wedding bells ring, dropped everything and ran - he applied for a transfer to Chorrol where there was an opening at the Castle.

Chorrol was boring. After the pleasures of the Imperial City, Garrus was suffering from the lack of entertainment. Chapel services on Sundas and getting drunk at The Grey Mare was just not cutting it for him. He started looking at the castle maids... Quite shapely girls, for the most part. Garrus' life improved for a short while until the Captain took him to one side and said that the Countess did not appreciate such libertarian tastes in her guards, and Garrus was either to stop it immediately, or else to seek transfer.

"I'd choose transfer" - advised the Captain. "The Countess is very pious. Emfrid and I have to sneak around so much to keep our relationship under wraps - we don't really want to get married, not now anyway. But in Chorrol you are either married or you practice abstinence. If I were you, I'd choose Cheydinhal - it is basically a Dunmer and Orc city, they have very different ideas of propriety. You'll fit right in."

The Captain was right. Cheydinhal was a bit strange at first, but Garrus quickly found his pace. The ladies were very friendly indeed.

That was 15 years ago. The ladies were still friendly, and Garrus was still popular, but he started to wonder whether he was missing out on something in life. Marriage and family? Nah, that couldn't be it. His own house? But as the second in command, he had his own room at the barracks and was quite content, so that wasn't it either. Something intangible, something to do with the heroes of the Great War that he used to admire as a boy... Something that Borba mentioned about that new girl in town - an adventurer, she said. Adventurer...

Garrus was pondering this and that standing guard in the throne room of the castle, when Lena walked in saying that Aldos Othran had lost it, attacked a guard and was killed, and now Llevana Nedaren wanted to finish Ulrich Leland in retaliation for her friend. Oh no! Garrus wouldn't stand for murder, but had no issues with a bit of snooping around. He gave Lena a key to Ulrich's room and hoped she had the skill to remain undetected. She did - she brought the evidence that put Ulrich in prison and promoted Garrus to Captain. Lena got her reward and left, and Garrus resumed being bored.

Adventurer... what was it like? Who was this girl? She looked so young, but somehow seemed to be older...

One big boon of being the Captain of a City Guard was an almost unrestricted access to the Imperial Archives, in particular if you had an excuse. Lena taking over the Abandoned House was a good excuse to request her file, even though the Count didn't ask for it for some reason.

Lena's file made for interesting reading. Born some 20 years before the Oblivion Crisis... with a string of petty thefts - mostly food... was briefly jailed at the Imperial Prison... turned up in Kvatch and Bruma... was a registered vampire but no assaults... member of the Mages Guild... some unconfirmed rumours of... reducted... then nothing. Vanished. Disappeared from the face of the Nirn. And then almost 200 years later she reappeared, started reclaiming her citizen's rights. There was no reason to refuse, and she was no longer a vampire. Proceedings took time, but now she's fully reinstated. Age? Unknown.

When the renovations of the Wolf Sanctuary were complete, the Count asked Garrus to verify that the building was conform planning regulations.

"Planning... regulations?" - Garrus never heard of them before.

"Well, you know, it's been abandoned for so long, and there is that well behind it, and I hear there's a passage in the basement that needed to be blocked - just see that it's all safe to use, will you? We don't want any accidents to befall our citizens, do we?" - The Count looked at Garrus with significance. Could the rumours be true? That there was a reason for that house to be abandoned? And if Lena now owned it, it must mean that she... Oh!

If an inspection of a sensitive nature was to be made, Garrus was the man for the job - the Count knew his people. Garrus didn't disappoint.

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"You are always such a welcome sight!" - he greeted Lena when she came to see him in the throne room in response to his note. He was genuinely glad to see her, glad for the opportunity to make her acquaintance. As the Captain of the Guard, it was not normally his duty to guard the throne room 13 hours a day, but the Count hadn't yet appointed a replacement, and Garrus was stuck in the castle until 10 p.m. But in this case he didn't mind.

"Can I come after 10 p.m.?" - He didn't have a choice, and Lena couldn't refuse.

The inspection went well. The well hadn't been touched and looked completely abandoned, like before. Lena didn't need it because she had plumbing done in the basement. Oh yes, that door was locked, and she hadn't seen anyone coming or going... Better not ask if she had the key.

Lena showed Garrus around her new home. It was simple and comfortable.

"You called it the Wolf Sanctuary" - said Garrus. "I can see the sanctuary in it. I hope to never see the wolf."

He smiled. Lena smiled back. He stayed for dinner.

...

"I've got to run - I'll be late for duty" - the bells on the chapel marked 6 a.m.

"When was the last time you were on leave?" - Lena asked.

Garrus could not remember. He was sure he was owed some. Definitely.

"I'll speak to the Count, he is waiting for my report anyway. Come and see me at the castle... after you've had some sleep. I'll be patrolling the throne room."

...

Some time in late morning Lena went to the castle. Garrus was standing in the throne room wearing a set of ebony armour.

"I got time off!" - he beamed. "The Count got someone new to patrol the throne room - a certain Regina Regis, my newly appointed second in command. She looks just like me - it's uncanny."

Garrus looked at Regina sideways.

"The Count was happy with my report and when I mentioned that I might travel with you, he immediately declared that I could have as much leave as I wanted. I hadn't taken any in 15 years! So I went to Borba's - she wasn't happy to wake up this early, I can tell you - but she softened up a bit when I said I was there for this armour. I've been eyeing it for months, but had no use for it until now."

"Come on then, my handsome knight!" - Lena smiled. "The world better watch out."

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Lena Wolf
13 First Seed, 4E202 - Shadowhunt - Robes - Arena

While Garrus was arranging his time off, Lena decided to take care of some chores and to test her new bow - a bonus from the last job. It was an unassuming but exceptionally light steel bow named "Shadowhunt" with a quad enchantment: weakness to poison, damage health and magicka, and turn undead. Good both for necromancers and their creations. So she went to the Dark Fissure again to clear it out.

The bow worked wonders. It also had an exceptionally high charge: 115 uses, 6700 units of charge.

"How do you even make that?" - she wondered. "A grand soul gem can only hold 1600 units, and the same for a black gem that can take sentient souls. What kind of a soul gives 6700 units of charge? A god?"

Let's hope not. She remembered Feyfolken - a book she read about a quill enchanted with an unusually large soul. Too bad no one knew whose soul it was.

...

Dark Fissure had a large chain of caverns with necromancers and undead, as expected. Shadowhunt performed admirably, delivering a poisoned arrow from stealth for maximum effect. Although necromancers could rarely be silenced, they would become confused when their zombies turned around and ran away. Even liches who were normally immune to turn undead spells, stopped their approach, although did not retreat.

The caverns inside Dark Fissure looked ordinary except for one where someone made a home, guarded by a couple of wraiths and liches. This must have been some important necromancer!

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Unfortunately he or she was not at home, and Lena decided not to abuse their hospitality.

"Somehow I don't think they would take it as kindly as Lucien did" - she thought, blushing slightly at the thought of her trespassing on Lucien's privacy all these years. She felt uneasy about it now, but it was much too late for that!

She was enjoying her new robes as well. It was clothing, so did not hamper magic, and although it did not provide any shielding, it had a five-fold enchantment to raise her skills of blade, marksman, sneak, illusion and speechcraft. In addition, the boots were so light and quiet, that they gave no penalty on sneaking at all.

"Nice not to have to sneak barefoot over these sharp stones" - she thought.

She took a closer look at the necromancers' robes and hoods. Black robes with a necromancy symbol on the front, no enchantment. But gosh were they heavy! And the hoods - as heavy as the robes.

"Whatever they are made of!" - Lena wondered. "This hood alone weighs as much as my robe, boots and gloves taken together." She patted the fabric. The necromancer robes felt soft. "Oh, this is velvet!" That was quite luxurious, and explained the weight. Her own robes were silk, however.

...

Having finished clearing the Dark Fissure, she returned to the Imperial City - she needed stealth for her next assignment and decided to enchant a plain black silk robe and hood with chameleon so that together with rings and spells she could get full concealment. Problem was - she didn't have a black silk hood to go with the robe.

"Well, I could use this blue mage's hood - it's nice and light" - she thought. "But blue doesn't go with black."

Oh girl - you are enchanting with chameleon! No one is ever going to see the colour of that robe or hood! But no, she knew what colour it was, and that was enough to put her off. So, where does one get a black silk hood? Because obviously, a black velvet hood from the necromancers set was not going to work with a black silk robe...

...

"Pssst, over here!"

Someone called out from behind a bush.

"Huh?" - Lena turned to look. She had just left Roach at the Chestnut Stables and was walking towards the Market District along the City Wall - much quicker to walk on the outside than through the city districts.

"Pssst, look what I've got for sale! You won't find this at your local store, that's for sure!" - Shady Sam beckoned her to see his wares. Potions, poisons, lockpicks and skooma.

"Ummm... I see" - Lena said, looking him over. He was wearing a black silk hood. "I want your hood, and I'll even pay for it" - she said.

"What - are you with the City Watch?!" - cried Sam, drawing his sword.

...

"So, one black silk hood sorted" - Lena thought picking up the hood. "Idiot."

...

The rest of the day was uneventful. Lena finished her chores - shopping, enchanting, spell making - and stopped by Hauk's house to say hello - she missed him. But Hauk wasn't at home, he'd been called away on Legion business after their trip to Skyrim, and was being kept busy still. Outside the Tiber Septim Hotel Lena ran into Jowan who was still staying in the Imperial City. He looked busy and a bit bashed up.

"What have you been up to?" - she asked, looking over his bruised face.

"Arena."

"What? You are competing?"

She thought it was probably unwise. Jowan was a mage, not a fighter.

"Yeah, I watched some fights, placed some bets, lost a lot of money" - he said, looking up. "Then I thought - I can do it just as well as they can. And yes, now I'm competing."

"Well, you are obviously not dead yet" - Lena was dubious about this whole idea. "Try to stay that way, will you? If you need money, you can always come with me - wraiths and liches might be a safer bet than angry Arena combatants."

"Ah - but they don't realise I'm a blood mage" - he said, grinning. "They draw my blood and think they are winning, and that's where they go wrong..." He lifted up his tunic to show some poorly healed gashes. "But you are right - this is getting too much. I'll need to take a break and let it heal first."

They agreed to meet up again soon, and parted. Lena was shaking her head. "Well, I hope you're still alive next time I'm here" - she thought to herself about Jowan. He was clearly getting himself into trouble again.

She picked up Roach and rode to Cheydinhal. Garrus was probably already waiting - they would set off South in the morning.
Acadian
I like Lena's analysis of the merits of silk vs velvet for her robes. And the need for a matching hood of course. tongue.gif
macole
Poor ole Shady Sam, should've sold the hood when the price was right.
Lena Wolf
QUOTE(Acadian @ Jun 2 2021, 07:36 PM) *

I like Lena's analysis of the merits of silk vs velvet for her robes. And the need for a matching hood of course. tongue.gif


A girl has to have style. smile.gif Even when in 100% chameleon. tongue.gif

QUOTE(macole @ Jun 2 2021, 08:01 PM) *

Poor ole Shady Sam, should've sold the hood when the price was right.


She tried to persuade him but he just got so angry... and you'd think he'd be able to tell who is who. I mean - in his line of work!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

14-16 First Seed, 4E202 - Arkved's Tower - Charcoal Cave

Lena and Garrus set off from Cheydinhal going roughly South West towards the White Rose River following up on a job for the Mages Guild. Going through the forest, they were passing close to the shrine of Vaermina.

14 First Seed

"I happen to have a black soul gem" - said Lena. "What say you if we go talk to Vaermina and see if there's anything she wants doing?"

"Isn't that unwise?" - Garrus never dealt with a Daedric Prince before. "Aren't they all out to kill you?"

"Nah, not all of them" - Lena tried to sound reassuring. "Vaermina is all right."

Garrus was still not convinced but Lena marched to the shrine and placed a black soul gem on the altar. Vaermina had a task for her.

...

"See, it's not as bad as that! We just need to clear this fort" - Lena was saying as they entered Arkved's Tower. "The man really made a home for himself here!"

The first chamber was set up as a dining room with fine furnishings and silver tableware. They continued on. The second chamber appeared empty, only furnished in cobwebs.

"Ok, this is a little weird" - Lena conceded looking up. The room wasn't empty - there was a dining room set up... on the ceiling, suspended upside down. "He's a mage all right, but that's just silly."

The third chamber had two Xivilae waiting for them.

"Finally!" - Garrus exclaimed drawing his claymore. "Now you die!"

No, Xivilae weren't impressed. They summoned a clannfear each, and soon Lena and Garrus were both knocked out. Getting up and trying not to attract attention, Lena summoned a daedroth, stepped back and took up the Shadowhunt. Poisoned arrows with the heavy enchantment from the bow found their mark, and Garrus saw one xivilae going down and taking his clannfear with him. With the forces evened out, the other xivilae went down fairly quickly too.

"Who were they?" - asked Garrus standing over the corpses.

"Xivilae" - answered Lena with regret, cutting out the hearts. "Proud creatures, it's a pity to see them bound in Mundus like that. It seems we are in for more daedra."

...

Arkved had created his own piece of Oblivion in the tower, complete with a rocky oasis amid a sea of lava. Daedra were numerous and fierce, apparently rather annoyed to be stuck there. Garrus was having the time of his life.

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"Was it like this during the Oblivion Crisis?" - he asked Lena, walking among the corpses.

"Yeah, except that the corpses were mostly of mortals, not daedra" - she answered, trying not to step into too much blood. "But inside the Oblivion gates it was all red with lava like in that oasis. And full of daedra."

"Have you closed a lot of gates?"

"I... yes." She didn't seem to want to go into the details. "Come on - we're not done yet."

The decor in the tower had changed - there were now decomposing corpses everywhere, ready to be raised as zombies. There were traps and more daedra. In the final chamber they found Arkved, sleeping. He used Vaermina's orb to enter eternal sleep with eternal dreams. He did not fear the nightmares.

"What will happen to him now?" - asked Garrus when Lena picked up the orb.

"He will die in his sleep, eventually. It will happen anyway, whether the orb is here or not. He won't wake up because he doesn't want to."

...

Vaermina was pleased to have her orb back and gave Lena the Skull of Corruption.

"It's yours again" - she said. "Do try not to lose it like last time, will you?"

"Last time?" - Garrus looked at Lena suspiciously. "When was that?"

"A while back" - she answered, sliding her hand over the staff. "In another life." It certainly felt that way. The Dunmer at the shrine smiled in understanding.

16 First Seed

It was 5 a.m. when Lena and Garrus stood on the bridge by the Charcoal Cave looking at the Imperial City. They haven't slept the previous night, having cleared Fort Sejanus and the Charcoal Cave on their way towards the Faregyl Inn that should be close to Nenyond Twyll - their actual destination.

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"Well, Faregyl Inn isn't far" - Lena said checking the map. "But the Imperial City is right there - and my house on the Waterfront. We could drop off the loot, get some sleep and still not lose much time."

"I could use having my armour repaired as well" - Garrus was looking at the dents and scratches. "Those Xivilae with their clannfears weren't joking."

"Clannfears make for very good dogs" - Lena laughed walking North to the City.

...

By the time they got to her house and had a bite to eat, it was past 6 a.m. Getting up from the table, Garrus looked rather stiff.

"You seem to have a broken rib" - Lena said watching his movements. "Let me help you out of your armour."

"I thought you'd never ask!" - smirked Garrus risking another broken rib.

It seemed ebony armour could not stand up to Xivilae's warhammers for very long - Garrus had serious injuries, and his Atronach birthsign kept absorbing much of Lena's healing magic. She used what potions and salves she had at hand rubbing into the bruises, much to Garrus' delight. But jokes aside, by the time she was done, they were completely exhausted, fell into bed and slept well into late afternoon.

...

It was nearing 8 p.m. when all the chores were done and Lena re-packed her bag again.

"Arrows, bows, daggers, Honorblade, silver blade, staff, poisons, potions, provisions, wine, robes, shadow gear, gems, repair hammers. It's all here, I guess" - she checked her pack. Necromancers were not to be taken lightly.

"Those robes" - Garrus pointed at a set of black robes - "you changed into them in the Charcoal cave when we got separated, right? I practically walked into you - couldn't see you at all."

"There were too many bandits for me to battle head-on" - she said. "I went quietly. Black robes don't stand out in a dark cave" - she smiled.

"There's more to it than that" - he gave her a long look. "You move differently in them and fight better, more powerful and precise. And that bow - I've never seen a steel bow take out a massive orc with two shots."

"Well, that arrow was poisoned" - Lena smiled. "And, well, this is professional gear."

Garrus laughed.

"Professional. Of course" - he laughed again. "The Count is right not to interfere."

...

The sun already set when they crossed Lake Rumare on their way to the Faregyl Inn. They would spend the night there and go looking for Nenyond Twyll in the morning.

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Lena Wolf
17-18 First Seed, 4E202 - Nenyond Twyll - The Leyawiin Sanctuary

"What are you doing here?" - Fithragaer greeted Lena and Garrus as they entered Nenyond Twyll. "All the other battlemages are dead - the necromancers were waiting for us! I'm the only one left - follow me!"

And he charged into the ruin without looking.

"Wait!" - Lena tried to stop him. "Ruins have... traps... oh no!"

Fithragaer promptly ran into a rising floor trap.

"Battlemages are not used to Ayleid ruins" - she said turning to Garrus. "Hauk told me. They just charge in, and get caught out like this one. What a shame!"

"It's a good thing you're not on your own then" - Garrus said checking his blade. "It sounds like the necromancers mean business. Come on, let's be on our guard."

...

After much fighting, they found the mage that had infiltrated the necromancers. He had been found out, and turned into a zombie. Lena killed him again - there was nothing else she could do. It was sad news to bring to the Mages Guild.

...

"The Mages Guild can wait" - Lena told Garrus when he suggested to return to the Imperial City with the news. "Their battlemages are dead, their informant is dead, and the necromancers are dead, so there is no rush. I cannot believe they would send battlemages into an Ayleid ruin without preparing them for what might lie within."

"May be that's why they sent you to Vahtacen and not the battlemages" - Garrus reminded her of that adventure. "I wasn't prepared either, but at least you knew what to expect."

They were walking towards Bravil. Lena wanted to rest, re-supply and continue South.

18 First Seed

They got up late, and by the time their errands were done, it was past midday.

"Let's just travel to Leyawiin today, and see about the Fighters Guild business tomorrow. It's just outside the city" - Lena was ticking things off on a list. "There's an old Sanctuary nearby that is supposed to be refurbished now, we can hopefully spend the night there."

"Hopefully?"

"Well, it is a bit odd. It was my great-uncle's, who went rogue from the Dark Brotherhood and became a vampire. He then changed his mind and found a cure, but the Dark Brotherhood had caught up with his group. That was over 200 years ago, but they had only just released it to me. It was empty last time I visited, but should be furnished now. I am not sure what to expect" - Lena explained. She looked up from the papers, and saw Garrus looking at her in amazement.

"Wow! Of course we should go see!"

...

"Shhh, it's all right" - Lena and Garrus entered the shrine of Sithis at the Leyawiin Sanctuary. There was someone there, kneeling. He jumped up, dagger in hand. Garrus took up his claymore. "Rest with Sithis" - said Lena.

"Mistress!" - the vampire kneeled before her.

"Where did you come from and what are you doing here?" - she asked. Last time when she came here with Jowan, the place was empty.

"Rowley Eardwulf brought me" - he kneeled again. "Said the Sanctuary was being brought to life. I'm yours to command, Mistress!"

"Then get up and answer my questions properly" - Lena was getting annoyed, yet she could also sense that the vampire was terrified. Garrus still held his claymore at the ready. A silver claymore.

"Rowley Eardwulf was with your Uncle" - the vampire managed to control his shaking. "He escaped before the Dark Brotherhood came here, so he wasn't killed. He took a few young recruits with him, myself included - he wanted to build his own group... he knew the Dark Brotherhood would come for your Uncle..."

"But he is not a vampire" - Lena recalled Rowley's features. Old, but not a vampire. Perhaps an ex-vampire. She took a dislike to him from the start.

"No, he took the cure, Mistress!" - the vampire kneeled again, then got up, remembering that he was told not to kneel. "His group did not do very well... the others were all killed, I'm the last one. So he sent me here... I haven't killed anyone in a hundred years!" - he said with horror. "Sithis will have my soul."

"All right, come with me" - Lena said, putting her arm around his shoulders and looking pleadingly at Garrus to put away his claymore. She remembered all too well what it was like being a solitary vampire. "How old are you?"

"Probably three hundred. I lost track of time..." - he said, sensing the warmth of her mortal blood and... something else. "You... are not a vampire... but you were, once."

"Yes" - she answered. "I am about your age, but not entirely. It's complicated."

They came into the dining room. In the brighter light the vampire saw Lena's robes.

"You are a Black Hand!" - he kneeled again, covering his head with his arms in defence.

"Yes" - Lena said, lifting him up. "But I am not here to kill you."

The Sanctuary didn't have a proper bed - there was just an ornate coffin. Lena had no intention of sleeping in it.

"I shall be changing a few things around here" - she told the vampire. "You can have that coffin or would you prefer a normal bed?"

"I..." - he wasn't used to be asked his opinion. "I... whatever you decide, Mistress..."

"Right..." - she looked at him shaking her head. It would take some work to make him into a person of his own, but she wasn't giving up on him. "Stay here - I see you've got someone to feed on" - she pointed at a sleeping prisoner. "Don't feed on anyone else - some Orcs will be bringing new furnishings, I'll warn them about you. I'll be back later, then we'll see." She turned to leave, then stopped. "What is your name?"

"Fenris Bero."

"House Hlaalu?" - Lena raised an eyebrow. The family name was famous.

"Once" - Fenris looked embarrassed. "Not since I... turned." House Hlaalu disapproved of vampires.

"All right" - she said, now really turning to leave. "We'll talk more later. I am Lena Wolf."

...

"Well, that was interesting" - Garrus looked at Lena with mixed emotions once they were outside again. "Mistress!"

"Yeah, I didn't expect anyone there" - Lena admitted. "That Rowley character was only going to furnish the place. With the very things that he had removed from it after the Dark Brotherhood was done there."

"So what are you going to do about that vampire?"

"I'm not going to kill him, if that's what you are asking" - Lena shot Garrus a glance over the shoulder. "Rowley will have to explain the meaning of this, first. Then..."

"Rowley won't be missed" - Garrus said, touching Lena on the arm. "I can see where your loyalties lie."

They were about to enter Leyawiin.

"Garrus" - Lena started, turning to him. "I am not a model citizen, and your association with me might well cost you your career. Just tell me if you'd rather we never met."

He looked her in the eye, then smiled.

"The Count would rather have someone around who knows what's going on" - he touched her robes. "I am not spying on you, and you would never take me on a job, but those Ayleid ruins need exploring, and weren't there necromancers to be kept in check? You are not just an assassin."

He took her hand and they entered Leyawiin.
Lena Wolf
19 First Seed, 4E202 - Water's Edge

At the Three Sisters Inn the usual happened. It was nearing midnight, and all three sisters were sitting in the dining room, chatting. Lena and Garrus walked in, looking to rent a room and have something to eat.

"They have very nice rooms, but the hostess is a bit odd" - Lena told Garrus before entering. "You'll see."

As they entered the dining room, Shuravi got up to greet them.

"If you are looking for a room, I've got just the thing for you - all the comforts... oh, it's you" - she recognised Lena. "Sharing with yet another man, I see?" She looked Garrus over head to toe.

"And still no wedding ring" - smiled Lena. "Hello, Shuravi. We'll take the suite, and some dinner too, please."

"Well, you can have food, but no wine! There's enough going on as it is."

Garrus and the other two sisters were watching with amusement. In the suite, Garrus couldn't resist.

"Sharing with yet another man, eh?" - he laughed. "Some lifestyle you've got!"

She was about to punch him in the ribs, but alas, he was wearing armour.

"If you don't want to share with me, you can sleep out in the hall" - she said instead.

"Oh, I am not complaining" - he said unclipping his sword. "What's for dinner?"

...

In the morning they went to see Biene Amelion in the village of Water's Edge about the Fighters Guild job.

"I need my grandfather's ceremonial armour and sword from the family tomb" - she said - "to pay off my father's gambling debts... Some people came and dragged him off into the night, and now I fear I'll be next! That debt is over 1000 septims!"

A voice in Lena's head said: "Just give her the money and skip the tomb visit." But Lena brushed it aside - skip the tomb visit? What a strange idea!

The tomb was just on the other side of the water and seemed to have quite a lot of warriors buried there, or rather left unburied in their rickety coffins. No wonder that they were now walking around brandishing their weapons!

Garrus cursed under his breath and started punching them.

"Why are you punching them?" - Lena asked between the fights. "What's wrong with your sword?"

"Nothing" - Garrus smiled. "They are just not worth dulling the blade. Besides, punching wraiths doesn't even scrape your knuckles."

As they progressed through the caverns, Lena started spotting pieces of ceremonial armour lying in the dust. Gauntlets, shield, boots...

"This is odd" - she turned to Garrus, picking them up. "It looks like they belong to the same set, and they are definitely ceremonial - mighty heavy and not that protective, but surely pretty. This may well be what we're looking for. But why is it all disjointed like that?"

"I blame the skeletons" - Garrus replied, shifting a pile of bones to the side. "I bet the armour pieces were not entombed but just laid onto a slab. The skeletons must have dragged them all over the cave. We'll probably need to make sure we've got them all."

They went through the caverns, fighting more undead and picking up a few more pieces of armour. In the final chamber they found a cuirass and a sword on a slab. Garrus seemed to be right. Collecting everything, they returned to Biene.

"Oh thank you so much!" - she was plainly ecstatic. "You have no idea what this means to me!"

Yet she only wanted the cuirass and the sword.

"Biene, you will need the whole set if you want to make any money on this" - Lena tried telling her, thinking to herself that there was no way Biene was going to raise 1000 septims even with the whole set. It was long out of fashion.

A voice in Lena's head said again: "You could still pay her debt and keep the fancy armour..." Light armour that was heavier than heavy with the protection of a cloth? Light armour that she wasn't skilled in? "But pretty!" - the voice said.

"No" - Lena said loudly. Garrus and Biene stared at her - no one else had heard the Voice. "Umm... no, you have to have the whole set" - Lena corrected herself. "We gathered it all anyway, so here - take it."

She dropped the remaining pieces before Biene, nodded to Garrus, and they left.

...

"That was a bit... strange" - Garrus said once they were back on the road, walking towards Bravil. "She didn't seem to know what she was doing there."

"Yeah..." - Lena was thinking of the voice in her head. "Oh wait, I think I know why."

She pulled him into the forest.

"There" - Lena pointed up the hill.

A statue of a dainty gentleman with a cane was surrounded by several people in varying states of undress.

"A shrine to Sanguine?" - guessed Garrus.

"No, Sheogorath."

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The people were distinctly odd, as one might expect. The Prince would accept a lesser soul gem as an offering, provided it came with some yarn and lettuce. Lena didn't have any yarn, so she let it be. Summoning Sheogorath at the shrine while she could just go to the Shivering Isles was... well... a bit crazy. Besides, the Khajiit village nearby was still recovering from the burning dogs plague she had helped to unleash onto them last time.

"And this also explains your odd behaviour" - Lena turned to Garrus. "Punching the wraiths, indeed!"

...

They reached Bravil just before midnight. They were tired after a long trek and all the fighting, but glad to be back in the world of reason and clear thought. The skooma den was open as usual, and the gate to the Shivering Isles shone brightly in the night. Home at last!
Lena Wolf
20-23 First Seed, 4E202 - Vanishing touch - Rowley - Borba

"That's been another great week" - Garrus said in the morning looking wistful. "I've got to get back to my duties."

"We haven't found all that much loot this time, I'm afraid" - Lena was looking at a couple of bows they picked up on the way, but there was not much else, really.

"Oh, don't worry about that" - Garrus was ready to leave. "You paid for my armour repairs, weapons, food, lodging, everything - so that's my share. I'll take your promise to come and find me again." He smiled.

"Without a doubt" - Lena got up to kiss him goodbye. "There are always more wraiths in need of punching."

...

"Well, now that he's gone, I should go about my own business" - Lena thought, going through her journal. "Fort Sutch... where is Fort Sutch... Oh, all the way on the Golden Coast. Right, never mind, Fort Sutch it is. Then Chorrol, Imperial City, and back to Cheydinhal. I better call Roach, that's going to take a few days..."

Roach was such a wonderful horse. You could whistle for her, and she'd come from gods know where, ready to travel anywhere in Tamriel (almost). But even she had a weakness: rum. Rum as they served it at the Bloated Float - and mind you, it was not on the menu. Whenever Lena stayed for any period of time in the Imperial City, and especially if Lena had taken the subway to quickly travel between the districts, Roach would disappear to the Bloated Float and stop responding to calls. There was only one thing that could get her to respond in such situations: better rum. Not the usual Captain McGee variety, but the feared Abecean Medusa dark rum. Which is why Lena made a mental note to stop by Anvil for a refill.

...

Lena called, holding a bottle of Abecean Medusa rum at the ready. Roach appeared. The bottle disappeared. They were off. Bravil - Skingrad - Kvatch - Anvil. Would they make it in a day?

...

The road from Bravil to Skingrad wasn't a road - Lena decided to ride through the forest to save time. Roach wasn't keen on that - there were always more beasts in the forest, and the ground was often rocky and difficult to navigate. True; but not if you were invisible.

What?

Yes. One of the custom spells that Lena had prepared. Vanish and run, on touch. She was getting quite good at Illusion.

They arrived in Skingrad in the early afternoon. Roach needed a rest and Lena needed to refill her restoratives and poisons - she had used up most of the stock on the necromancers. So she stopped by her house for a few hours. No, they wouldn't reach Anvil in a day.

The road to Kvatch had quite a few bandits, trolls and minotaurs out and about, but the new Vanish and Run spell worked a treat, leaving them all rooted on the spot looking around in confusion. Lena didn't bother to fight them, just rode on. But Anvil was still far, and the climb to Kvatch was steep and long, and so they turned off South West already before Kvatch and reached the Gweden Farm in time for the evening drinks.

21-22 First Seed

The next day saw Lena go to Anvil, Fort Sutch and Chorrol, taking care of business and staying at the Motierre House for the night. She was rather early paying for the next month's supplies for the Battlehorn Castle, but Emfrid didn't mind. In the morning Lena set off for the Imperial City.

22 First Seed

Hannibal Traven was saddened by the death of his informant, although not so much by the deaths of the battlemages, Lena noted with disgust. She wondered just why they had been so poorly prepared - perhaps that warranted an investigation. Traven seemed to wage the war on necromancy at the cost of many, many lives. Lena's ever rising rank within the Mages Guild started to lose its luster.

Shaking her head and not in the best of moods, she went about the other business in the Imperial City - to see the trader who refurbished the Deepscorn Hollow. That just wouldn't do.

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"Hello, Rowley Eardwulf" - Lena said approaching him at the Wawnet Inn. "I have gone to see what you delivered to the Deepscorn Hollow. I have a few, ah, questions."

She sat down at the table next to him.

"Whatever you mean!" - protested Rowley. "It is all first class gear!"

"Really?" - she smiled, setting her elbow on the table and smoothing her glove. "Like the dirty old rugs and tapestries fit for the best of skooma dens of the Imperial City sewers, perhaps? Or like a dining table for just two in such a huge place? Or perhaps like a complete lack of beds? I believe my great-uncle used to have a group of assassins there, he wasn't living alone!"

"But you understand... That was over 200 years ago... Things perish over time..." - Rowley stuttered slightly, but still kept firm.

"Perhaps. However, you charged me for the unperished variety. I want half of that money back."

"But I haven't got it!" - he was starting to become nervous, the purse being the weakest body part of any trader. "I supplied you with a servant and a prisoner, almost free of charge!"

"Ah yes, about the servant" - Lena looked at him twisting her ring. "You never mentioned any servant last time."

"But he's there to please you! In every which way! He's a vampire, like you-- oh, like your great-uncle!"

"Opened your eyes now, have you? My great-uncle never kept slaves."

"Well, slaves... Slaves are good - slaves are obedient. Vampires make great slaves, surely you must know. He will do whatever you say, or just deny him blood - and I mean whatever you say..." - Rowley finally noticed Lena's gloves and rings. "Oh!"

"Ah, you recognise the robes" - Lena smiled. "Then I suppose you know why I've come."

...

She was back in Cheydinhal just before nightfall. A report to the Fighters Guild and to the Sanctuary on finished assignments, an to Lucien personally on a few other matters. A visit to Borba's would have to wait until tomorrow.

...

"I have completed the Purification of Crimson Scars" - Lena told Lucien among other business.

"Completed?" - Lucien looked up from the papers. "Did we miss someone?"

"Rowley Eardwulf."

"Ah" - Lucien sounded disappointed. "I've heard rumours that someone had escaped, with a few new recruits, but then they were all thought to have been killed through their own ineptitude. Apparently not so."

"Rowley was no longer active as an assassin" - Lena explained. "He stripped the Sanctuary after you were done and was running a small trade business of sorts. The recruits that you mentioned were indeed all killed, except one, whom he was employing in another capacity."

"Go on" - Lucien was listening with interest.

"As a slave. Fenris Bero is a vampire."

"Bero?"

"Exactly."

"Well, well! And now?"

"Now he calls me Mistress and I have no idea how to make him into a proper person again."

23 First Seed

"It is so good to see you again!" - Borba was remarkably friendly when Lena entered her shop in the morning. "I've seen you wear your new robes last night. So very elegant."

Oh! Of course. The robes. Borba was supplying Lucien's place, after all.

"Thank you, Borba" - Lena beamed. "I wonder if you could supply some furniture to a place near Leyawiin?"

"Refurbishing your great-uncle's Sanctuary, are you? That Rowley Eardwulf would rip you off blind and leave you with rubbish" - Borba grimaced. "Just as well he's been taken care of."

How on Nirn..? Yes, how did she know? But it was better not to ask.

"Yes, I shall need new furnishings, and also to take away some of the... odd stuff that's there."

She gave Borba a list.

"That's no problem, give us a week or so - it's a bit out of the way."

"Oh, and I must warn you: there's someone there" - Lena wasn't sure how Borba would react to a vampire - many Orcs were quite averse to them. "A servant. I told him to stay out of your way, but still you should know - he's a vampire."

"I see" - Borba said slowly, looking thoughtfully at Lena. "A servant you didn't quite expect, right? Yes, that would be Rowley's style... to shift them off his hands once he tired of them..."

"You mean - there are more?" - Lena was picturing a dungeon filled with slaves.

"Oh no, not now, but there were more - in the past. Then the Empire got really tough on slave trade and Rowley just kept them for his own pleasure... err... service. You know, he wasn't very kind hearted" - she added quite unnecessarily. "There's a prisoner there as well, I take it?"

"There is" - Lena confirmed, thanking Whoever for Borba's professional touch.

"Well, not to worry. We are not all afraid of vampires" - she smiled. "You could always shop here back then, too."

That was true. Borba was one of the few traders who had had no issues with Lena's vampirism at the time. Lena paid Borba with the funds recovered from Rowley - only rightly so - and left the shop with a light heart.
Lena Wolf
23-24 First Seed, 4E202 - Arena

"Hauk! I missed you" - Lena waved to Hauk spotting him in the Elven Gardens. "How have you been?"

"Busy" - he replied, kissing her on a cheek. "After our trip to Skyrim, the Legion wanted my services again."

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It was only now that Lena realised what was so odd about Hauk: his armour. It wasn't his usual steel set but Imperial Dragon.

"Yeah, they had me dress up" - he grimaced. "I haven't worn this since the War ended. But apparently it's inspirational for the recruits."

"Would you like to clear out some damp zombie-infested caves with me instead, Optio?" - Lena laughed.

"By Akatosh! When do we leave?"

"As soon as we find Jowan. He's getting himself into trouble again. Arena."

"Betting?"

"Combating!"

"Then we have no time to lose! Let me change out of this monkey suit, and I'll meet you there."

...

Jowan was in the ring, facing a heavily armed Orc.

"They are pitting a lightly armoured mage against a heavily armoured Orc!" - the bookie announced excitedly. "Place your bets, place your bets!!"

Lena didn't want to place a bet, but she had to in order to get to see the match. She bet a small amount of gold on Jowan.

"A strategic bet, is it?" - someone behind her noted. "She's betting on the mage - who will likely be killed - so she won't lose much money, but if by some miracle the mage does survive, she'll cash in a tidy sum against the odds!"

"I just hope the mage does survive" - Lena thought, feverishly trying to remember what they did with dead bodies - in case Jowan got killed and would need resuscitation. It's been a long time since she had competed herself...

The match had started. The Orc charged at Jowan, but Jowan evaded - he was quick - and fired some spells at the Orc. The audience applauded as the sparks and flames reflected off the shiny shield. The Orc charged again, Jowan evaded again, firing some more spells. They danced like that for a while. The Orc was getting burned, singed and frostbitten, but still he advanced. He had a mace, not a sword - he wouldn't draw blood. This Orc came prepared.

Jowan wasn't tired yet but he knew he could not win this way - the Orc was strong and kept drinking potions against elemental damage. One hit with that mace would crush Jowan's skull...

"And I would not be able to resuscitate him!" - Lena thought watching them.

Jowan drew his sword - the Orc raised his shield - Jowan slit his own wrist and cast a spell. The audience erupted in applause.

With a thump, the Orc fell to the ground, paralysed. A Spider Daedra fell on him, her fangs bared. A Nether Lich shot a spell from his staff. The Orc was now but a corpse.

Lena rushed down to the Bloodworks.

"Jowan!" - she brushed aside the Bloodworks master. "Not now, Owyn."

"Wolf!" - Owyn recognised her. "I didn't know the bloodmage was your protegee."

"Well, now you do. Jowan!" - she finally spotted him at the Basin of Renewal. "That's enough for today - come with me. Owyn will pay you later."

Jowan's wrists were still bleeding, so the Basin wasn't having much of an effect. Hauk came in, having changed out of his Imperial Dragon armour into blue robes. Owyn stepped back.

"Welcome, Optio."

"Hello, Owyn."

Did everyone know each other here? The other combatants stopped their practice and were watching the scene in disbelief. Wolf? The Wolf? Grand Champion that had disappeared? And Optio? He looked familiar... Wait... Heavy raiment... Gladiator. So this bloodmage... Oh!

...

Jowan was lying on the bed in Hauk's house while Lena and Hauk were trying to stop the bleeding from his veins. He was covered in cuts, at different stages of healing. Some had festered.

"Well, he is not going to die, but he's in no condition for any kind of adventuring" - Hauk concluded, turning to Lena. "And he needs looking after, or he'll run off to the Arena again."

"I'm not dead yet, you know" - Jowan piped up. "I can hear you."

"Good" - Lena came closer. "That was some spell you cast back there."

"Yeah, paralysis and a double summon" - Jowan smiled. "It only works when one is dead and the other alive."

"Illusion, Conjuration and Necromancy" - Lena noted. Then turning to Hauk she added: "He summoned a Spider Daedra and a Nether Lich. That Orc stood no chance."

"I see the need for blood" - Hauk nodded. "You would only be able to cast one of those spells normally. Is that how you've been surviving?" Hauk pointed at Jowan's cuts.

"Yes" - Jowan nodded. "I probably made it to Myrmidon now, Owyn thought that Bloodletter was ironic."

"You..." - Lena started telling him off, then remembered what Jowan told her about his best friend back in Ferelden. She did not want to become like her. "Jowan" - she started again. "It's your life of course, but please don't waste it - we still want you to come with us to fight wraiths and liches."

That was the right thing to say, and Jowan brightened up.

"All right, since you insist" - he got up and cast a healing spell onto himself. A rather special healing spell - his wounds promptly knitted together, infections banished. "Blood magic can be used for healing, too" - he smiled. "If there's a reason for it."

24 First Seed

"I didn't close my cuts to get decapitated by a hangover" - Jowan moaned the next morning, waking up on the floor in Hauk's bedroom. "How much mead did we drink?"

"A couple of barrels" - replied Lena from the bed. "You didn't want to sleep in the bed for some reason."

"I am not used to sharing a bed Skyrim style" - he said, getting up rather shakily. "I leave it to you two."

"Mmmm?" - Hauk was waking up as well. "If you want privacy, there's water in the basement - you can wash there. Although we've seen you naked already."

Jowan disappeared to the basement.

"He'll get used to it" - said Hauk filling the bath. "In the field modesty can kill you."

Lena didn't argue. Instead, she took advantage of the commotion to get into the bath first.

...

Washed and dressed and with almost clear heads, Lena, Hauk and Jowan sat at The Tiber Septim Hotel next door at breakfast.

"So, where are we going? You mentioned wraiths and liches?" - Jowan asked slicing a watermelon.

"There are a few Ayleid ruins in the Niben that need investigating" - Lena was pouring over a map. "We would be gone for a while, it's completely out of the way of everything."

"Sounds fantastic" - grinned Jowan. "I've had enough of civilization."
macole
I didn't expect Jowan to use such drastic measures.
Lena Wolf
QUOTE(macole @ Jun 7 2021, 02:24 AM) *

I didn't expect Jowan to use such drastic measures.


Do you mean against the Orc or to close his cuts? Both were possible in Dragon Age. There he would summon a daemon from the Fade, and that surely is equivalent to a Spider Daedra and a Lich. Paralysis came as a freebie with the daemon. But it would take almost all of his blood, nearly killing him - which is why Lena and Hauk were fussing over him that much. Jowan shouldn't be doing it too often, but you know, he's not very level-headed... smile.gif
Lena Wolf
24-25 First Seed, 4E202 - The Niben Basin

It was well past midday when Lena, Hauk and Jowan finally set off from the Imperial City towards the Niben. It was foggy and cool, and they were able to make good time jogging and walking along the Ring Road, crossing the Upper Niben and turning off to the Yellow Road going South East. They passed by Cropsford where they were greeted as saviours by the Bretons who now managed to build their houses on that land. A very warm welcome indeed, but no, you're not getting any food here, and neither can you spend the night. Oh great.

So they continued along the road hoping to stay at the Crestbridge Camp, only to discover that no such camp any longer existed. Oh, there was an abandoned campsite, sure, but no tents, no fire, nothing. It was nearing 9 p.m.

"So, what do you want to do?" - asked Lena. "We can go and clear out the fort over there" - she pointed to the other side of the Corbolo River - "or walk around in the wilderness hoping to find another campsite, or else pick up the pace and aim for the Imperial Bridge Inn - we should probably get there by midnight."

"The inn" - said Hauk and Jowan in unison. "Don't want to wander around in the wilderness in the middle of the night looking for a campsite that might or might not be there. And that fort - we've been there already, it took forever to clear out and didn't Garrus nearly drown in that one? Or was it somewhere else?"

Lena couldn't remember in which fort it was exactly, and Jowan didn't want to find out, and so they marched on aiming for the Imperial Bridge Inn.

The inn was welcoming and accommodating as usual, with a wide selection of alcoholic drinks to accompany the meal. However, their heads were still slightly buzzing from the mead they had consumed the night before, so they thanked the publican and focused on the food. There were just the two single beds free, but plenty of floor space. Against his protests, Jowan was thrust onto one of the beds - "You still need to rest!" - and Hauk took the floor, for a little while at least.

25 First Seed

"Explain this to me" - asked Jowan at breakfast. "Are you two lovers?"

Lena and Hauk looked at each other, then Hauk answered: "Officially - no, unofficially - may be."

"What?" - Jowan was confused. "How is that?"

"Well..." - Lena started, not so sure what to say.

"We are friends, first and foremost" - said Hauk firmly. "And we've been travelling together for, what? - half a year now?" Lena nodded. "And things happen in travels."

"Things that don't happen off travels or with other people" - Lena added, blushing slightly.

"Wolf is not ready to make any choices or decisions, it's not the time" - continued Hauk. "No, we're just friends" - he smirked and winked at Jowan. Lucky for him, he was already wearing armour.

...

Mackamentain was a bit odd.

"Tombs of the Undead?" - Lena read an inscription above the door. "I've never come across undead that would still be entombed..."

And sure enough, they were not. Wraiths and zombies raised by the necromancers perhaps, unless the necromancers were just visiting.

The next door was even more interesting: "Necromancer's Asylum".

"Well, let's hope Mr. Umbacano likes them bloody" - said Lena pointing at an Ayleid statue. "I certainly don't want to know where this one has been" - she added stashing it in her pack.

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...

Going East from Mackamentain, they found Deserted Mine that wasn't actually deserted but occupied by bandits. It provided quite a bit of gold and had a Minotaur Lord locked in behind some rickety planks.

"What does a beast like this do in the deapths of some forgotten mine, barricaded like that?" - wondered Jowan.

"Who knows!" - said Hauk. "Minotaur are supposed to be intelligent, sentient even. Although I think this one might have been touched by Sheogorath. The bandits probably put up the barricade for their own safety."

"Yeah, except that I was able to break it down with a single punch" - interjected Lena. "Perhaps it's rather the bandits who had been touched by Sheogorath."

It didn't really matter, because they were all dead now. Lena, Hauk and Jowan stayed in the mine for the night.
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