UJON - Book Five, Part Three, In Which A Storm Is Averted

  • 22nd Frostfall

     

    “Look, I…I don’t think I should say, they’re very bad men, they might kill me!”

     

    “All the more reason to tell us, Wujeeta. Nerussa is very good at dealing with bad men, aren’t you?”

     

    Rumarin looked encouragingly at Nerussa. “Oh, er, yes! I’ve taken down dozens of bandits. Even terrible bandit chiefs. I’m sure I can handle a skooma dealer.” Somehow, Nerussa got the feeling that bringing up Dragons and the like would not help reassure Wujeeta, so she stuck with the mundane.

     

    “It’s not worth the risk!”

     

    “I tell you what, you were saying you wanted to leave Riften, yes? What if I gave you enough money to cover the carriage ride to Solitude, and a hot meal and a bed when you arrive? I’m sure you could find some work up there.”

     

    Wujeeta considered the pile of septims Nerussa put on Haelga’s breakfast table, and nodded, then lowered her voice to speak. “Okay, okay, I'll tell you. I get my skooma from Sarthis Idren. He has some sort of a setup over at the Riften Warehouse. You can't get inside though. They've kept that place locked up tight since the war began.” She looked around quickly, her eyes falling on Niluva Hlaalu, another of Sarthis’s customers. She hoped Niluva hadn’t heard her, most of the other Dunmer in Riften were nice enough, but Niluva could be… scary. "I overheard Bolli say that only the Jarl carries the key to the warehouse. When I meet Sarthis there, he's usually waiting for me outside with his bodyguard."

     

    Nerussa left Rumarin to help Wujeeta pack her few things and take them to the carriage, while she went to Mistveil Keep. She had been inside before, but had never really had cause to address the Jarl directly. She decided it would be best to introduce herself by her Whiterun title, and go through the usual pleasantries before bringing up the topic of Idren’s warehouse. The Jarl quietly admitted that she suspected the Dunmer had informants in the guard, as whenever raids had been carried out, he was nowhere to be seen, and the warehouse had nothing more illegal than a few crates of fish, kept insufficiently cold before shipping. Nerussa agreed to visit him straight away, before anyone could warn him.

     

    She cast Invisibility as she left the city by the dock gate, confusing a guard who looked away just before she cast it, and looked back to see… nobody. The spell would fail when she opened the door, of course, but at least this way anyone outside who worked for him wouldn’t know to follow her. She quietly unlocked the door, and managed to slip inside without alerting the Mer – a bodyguard, she thought – idly leaning against a pillar on the far side of the warehouse. Where was Idren, then? She started towards the stairs, but apparently the bodyguard was paying more attention than she initially supposed, as he rushed towards her, weapon drawn. Fortunately, she had a frost spell readied, and he first looked confused as he realised he wasn’t running as fast any more, then simply fell to the ground, dead.

     

    Damn, she hadn’t really anticipated getting through this without bloodshed, but she’d hoped she might be able to convince Idren to leave. Still, the chances of that were slim, and she wouldn’t entirely have trusted him not to come back when the city wasn’t protected by an angry Dragonborn Altmer. She headed downstairs.

     

     ***

     

    Sarthis Idren winced at the thud from above. Bloody idiot, knocking things over again. Good job he didn’t really need to worry about the state of the rubbish he kept upstairs. Even better, he’d just had word from Cragslane that there should be a shipment for him to collect later that day. He always went to collect the goods himself, he knew Drel was too cowardly to run off with the stuff, but he didn’t trust him not to spend hours gambling away his wages on the bloody wolf pits. He’d head down there after lunch, it was a pleasant enough ride, now he’d got used to the riding part.

     

    He heard footsteps on the stairs. What did the bloody fool want now?  He turned in his chair and was surprised to see a she-Elf at the bottom of the stairway. What in blazes? You didn’t see many Altmer in Riften. She was saying something about shutting down operations, ha, not likely! Riften was a goldmine, the people were miserable enough to want the skooma to get away from their lives, but had just enough money that they could actually afford to buy it. He kept the silly bitch talking, while he reached for the axe he kept under his desk. A flash of red came from her hand, though, and suddenly he was afraid. He didn’t understand why, but he had to get away, had to run, but she was blocking the doorway, and somehow he didn’t dare try to get past. Where was Drel? Why wasn’t he coming to help? He cowered away from her, pleading with her to just let him go, offering her money, skooma, whatever she wanted.

     

    “I’ll ask you again, will you leave Riften, permanently, and tell me where to find your source?”

     

    “Never!” Damn, why did he say that? What was going on, why was he so afraid, and why did he say the one thing that he knew would make her do what she did next?

     

    The purple light arced from her hands and it hurt, badly, but by Azura, at least it was quick.

     

     

    23rd Frostfall

     

    Spent the night in Windhelm, in the Library, well, mostly. Riften should be clean of skooma, at least for a while. Dealing with that took us halfway to Windhelm, and I had picked up a couple of jobs from Delvin and Vex in the city, so we decided to get back on the road and head north. At one point I looked round and realised we were in almost the exact spot where all this really started, the place where I “stumbled” into Ulfric Stormcloak and his men, just near a mining village named Darkwater Crossing. Bit of a strange feeling. We passed through the village and met some of the locals, who seem to be having a rather terrible time of it, not only is there a dragon roosting about halfway between Darkwater and Kynesgrove, but a Storm Atronach seems to have taken up residence just north of the mine. So far, neither has attacked the settlement, but they’re understandably nervous.

     

    Just outside Windhelm, we ran into Arissa, of all people! I really wanted to settle in with the Dragon Tongue book and my notes from High Hrothgar for an hour or two, so I sent the others to the New Gnisis while I did that. Frustratingly can’t find what look to be a couple of rather crucial words, but I’ve made a few notes and corrections. Will definitely need to ask Arngeir next time I see him. Was planning to go for a drink when I was finished, but of course the next thing I knew, Rumarin and Arissa were back here; apparently the cornerclub had closed for the night. I decided to get my other work done before bed. Nothing too challenging, but looking around the Atheron family’s squalid little home I felt a rather unpleasant moment of guilt. The other jobs I’ve had have all been fairly straightforward, mostly involving wealthy families and businesses, but the Atherons clearly have very little. I completed the job because, well, I am, in fact, a thief, but I ended up leaving a pile of gold in place of the jewelled trinket Vex had asked me to procure.

     

    I presume that moment had something to do with the even more ridiculous decision I made this morning. We’re off to fight a dragon! Oghma’s tits, I hope I didn’t somehow end up absent-mindedly stirring moon sugar into my tea last night. It would explain a lot.

     

     

    23rd Frostfall (evening)

     

    Well… we’re alive, at least. And the Dragon isn’t. Although to be blunt, that’s mainly because it drew the attention of the Atronach. And, more fool me, so did I. We had been fighting the Dragon for an hour or so, gradually weakening it, making it angry, but not having a huge impact on it, when it swooped away, further south than it had before. I think there’s a Doom Stone there, although I have no intention of investigating with that thing still nearby. Strongly feel the villagers should evacuate, but there’s a war on, I doubt there’d be anywhere for them to go, and I think they’re in Eastmarch, Ulfric’s hold, so I don’t imagine they would be given much priority – I can sympathise with his aims to an extent, now, but he can’t even seem to run his own city adequately, still less his hold or an entire country.

     

    In any case, where was I? Yes, the Dragon, I think Rumarin had clipped one of its wings a little, its flight was becoming erratic, and it strayed out of its familiar territory. Evidently the Atronach did not wish to share. And apparently its shock magics are significantly stronger than mine. I actually felt sorry for the Dragon for a moment, it lost the ability to Shout almost as soon as the Atronach started attacking it. It didn’t survive very long after that.

     

    Oh! I forgot to write this down last night (although it’s in my notes, somewhere.) I hit upon an idea while I was reading through the Dragon Tongue book. I looked up the Words I found in Saarthal, and that other place, the one up the mountain, from early on. Ebony mine. They were, if I’ve remembered the shapes correctly, “iiz” (“ice”) and “laas” (“life”). I’m nearly certain about the first one, from Saarthal, which was part of one of the full, recorded inscriptions in the main text of the book. Anyway, my idea was to try focusing on one of the two words (“laas”) while we (or, rather, the Atronach) were fighting the Dragon. There was a slight drawback, in that I did not initially absorb the creature’s soul until, after some time (and a certain amount of debate as to whether this was an excessively reckless thing to do) the Atronach had stopped watching us, and I was able to creep close enough to the Dragon for its soul to, I suppose, be released.

     

    Naturally, the blasted Atronach’s attention was drawn by the commotion, and I was very glad to be wearing robes rather than anything restrictive, and also glad of all the exercise I’ve had lately. Phynaster can go to Oblivion, I sprinted with as long a stride as I could muster. I hope I didn’t lead the awful creature too close to the village, but in any case, I survived (and got told off when I made my way back to Rumarin and Arissa…)

     

    I was, I’ll admit, rather shaken, and it was only when we arrived back in Riften that I remembered about the Word. I didn’t exactly have time to notice any moments of clarity or whatever, but whether coincidence or whether my idea actually worked, I’ve “got” the Word. Laas. After sitting in the Bee and Barb for a spell, I went outside, out of the city walls, and stood on the docks. I probably should have been more careful, I didn’t know what the Shout did, but somehow I knew it would be safe enough. It wasn’t really a Shout in the sense of, well, shouting, more of a loud whisper, really. Laas, for a moment all seemed dark, and for another moment I thought it had done nothing. Then, I started to see dots of glowing red, out on the lake. Each one a fish. I turned and saw Maul, one of Maven’s thugs, standing with his arms folded, leaning against the wall of the warehouse, and he was glowing red, as well. I could even make out faint red glowing shapes through the city walls. I don’t know how long it lasted, maybe only a count of ten, but it was beautiful.

     

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Comments

5 Comments   |   The Long-Chapper and 2 others like this.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  May 7
    Oh that poor guard... 
    A nice picturesque scene at the end as well. 
    • Gnewna
      Gnewna
      Sotek
      Sotek
      Sotek
      Oh that poor guard... 
      A nice picturesque scene at the end as well. 
        ·  May 7
      Thanks! I wish I'd gotten a decent screenshot of that, though it might look a bit hokey... Maybe on the replay, though!
      • Sotek
        Sotek
        Gnewna
        Gnewna
        Gnewna
        Thanks! I wish I'd gotten a decent screenshot of that, though it might look a bit hokey... Maybe on the replay, though!
          ·  May 7
        If you do, be sure to use it...
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  April 15
    Ah Nerussa and Dragons. Thank goodness for atronachs. She handled the riften job nicely though. 
    • Gnewna
      Gnewna
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Ah Nerussa and Dragons. Thank goodness for atronachs. She handled the riften job nicely though. 
        ·  April 15
      Yeah, she's a bit of an old softy in some ways, but not against skooma-dealing scumlords!