Chasing Death: Prologue

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    The tavern was slowly becoming crowded as the city’s guards ended their daily patrolling and crashed for the night at Winking Skeever’s, to let off some steam.

     

    An Imperial man sitting at the bar was observing all the people at their tables, chatting, enjoying their drinks, with his piercing blue eyes and frowned. One would almost forget there’s a civil war out there. And dragons, don’t forget about those fuckers. He scratched his beard, which was surrounded by small blue tattoos that resembled shards of broken glass. Good old times, right? Except you were so stupid back then to get your face inked.

     

    “Dec!” A loud voice made him snap out of his thoughts and his eyes traveled to his left. There was a Nord wearing an iron cuirass without sleeves, exposing pale, but muscular arms covered with their share of scars. Long grey hair hung around his head like a wet hat with the top of his head being bald, beads of sweat upon the shiny reddening skin. He had been drinking.

     

    “Hmm. What?” Decimus asked, blinking because he wasn’t really sure what Belrand was on about.

     

    “I was asking what your plans were in Solitude,” Belrand repeated the question Decimus somehow missed. “What’s the matter? For a second there you had this dead look on your face. You know, with eyes like a fish. Everything just gone.”

     

    “Huh,” Decimus snorted. “Me? Dead? Only in your dreams.” He pulled at the leather straps holding his steel cuirass together and grimaced. “I guess the armor’s too tight.” The Imperial began unstrapping the armor on his right side, his fingers fighting with the fresh new straps. “Fuck! Care to lend a hand?”

     

    Belrand pulled his chair further from Decimus and raised his hands. “Not a chance! Gods only know how long you’ve been wearing that piece of junk. I bet you’re rotting under it and I won’t go anywhere near that stench.”

     

    “You’re such an idiot,” the Imperial growled, his fingers finally managing to unbuckle the leather straps holding his old legionnaire cuirass together. “And don’t call it junk. I’ve been wearing this armor since Red Ring.”

     

    Belrand grimaced in disgust. “Gross. And it is junk. You’re just lucky it’s been repaired so many times that no one can recognize that it used to be legionnaire armor. Long time ago.” The Nord then pulled his chair back to Dec. “And stop avoiding the fucking question, you old moron. What are your plans in Solitude?”

     

    Decimus raised the tankard with his drink and shoved it under Belrand’s nose. “What do you think, idiot? Just look at what I’m drinking. Ale. And one that tastes like skeever’s piss. I’m broke, so I’ll be looking for work.” He then sipped from the tankard and frowned in disgust. “Ugh. Awful. So yeah. Some of us actually have to look for work, you know. Not like you, sitting in tavern all day.”

     

    “For a guy who worships money like a god, you are broke quite often,” Belrand chuckled. “You said the last job went well. What happened to the money?”

     

    The Imperial leaned on the bar, looking into his tankard with a frown. “It went well, got the money. But half of it went to repair my armor and the other half-”

     

    “To Proudspire,” Belrand finished, laughing. “You ran out of free nights there already? Seriously, Dec, I love pussy just as much as the next guy, but you’re going to fuck yourself to death in that brothel.” A smirk then appeared on the Nord’s face, as if he had a trick up his sleeve, if he even had a sleeve. “Fine Colovian stock. My arse.”

     

    ‘I’ll fucking Colovian stock your arse if you don’t shut up, you smartass,” Decimus warned. “Besides, I need to unwind sometimes. And priestesses of Dibella get boring after a while. You know, they know a few tricks, but they are too focused on feelings.”

     

    “Yeah,” Belrand nodded and then his brow lowered in thought. “You know, I’ve always wondered about something. They’re all women, right?”

     

    “Astounding observation, Belrand. I bow to your superior observation skills,” the Imperial smirked.

     

    “Ha-ha-ha. You’re so funny it hurts. Just let me finish. So they’re all women, satisfying men and making their wives jealous and all that. Why aren’t there men skilled in Dibellan Rites too?”

     

    Decimus threw Belrand a sideways glance with raised eyebrows. “You swing that way now?”

     

    “Idiot,” Belrand shook his head. “But I was just thinking that it might be a good job for you.”

     

    “What?!”

     

    “Yeah,” Belrand nodded seriously. “You could earn some money maybe and fuck as much as you’d like. Your dream job, no?”

     

    “Go fuck yourself,” the Imperial growled, taking another sip from the tankard. He grimaced as it went down his throat and for a second it seemed like his stomach was about to reject the liquid his own neck was sending down it. Seriously, not another drop of this cheap shit!

     

    The owner of the inn, Corpulus Vinius, approached them from the other side of the bar and frowned. “You two are worse than old women after temple on Sundas. You never shut up. Have you considered making a baby together?”

     

    Decimus looked at the Imperial and pointed with his finger. “With this attitude you’ll be two customers short, Corpulus.”

     

    “Just one,” Belrand shrugged. “I’m a regular.”

     

    “Thanks for the support, fucker,” Decimus mumbled.

     

    Corpulus smirked and pointed at Decimus’ tankard. “At the pace you’re drinking that, I won’t be losing anything.”

     

    “It tastes like piss!” Decimus banged into the bar with his fist.

     

    Corpulus just shrugged. “You wanted the cheapest ale we have, Goldpact Knight. Not my problem you’re broke.” With those words he walked away and Decimus shouted after him:

     

    “I hope you drown in that fucking ale! Skeever’s piss, I say, and I don’t give a shit if the skeever can wink!” He pushed his tankard away and shook his head. “Fucker,” he added silently.

     

    “Speaking of babies,” Belrand said and Decimus immediately groaned in annoyance, expecting more of the bad jokes. As if my mood wasn’t sour enough. I need a fuck…

     

    “How’s that kid doing?” Belrand asked and Decimus grinned.

     

    “Which one?”

     

    The Nord mercenary shook his head. “Oh for fuck’s sake. How many of them you have? Wait, don’t want to know. I was asking about the one that actually isn’t yours. Green skin, tusks, big mouth that never shuts up. Kind of a dick. Rings a bell?”

     

    Well, that is one perfect description of Grulmar right there. “Oh, that one,” Decimus chuckled and then shrugged. “Not so deep in the Thieves Guild anymore, more of a freelancer now. Treasure hunting is what he is into these days.”

     

    “No shit,” Belrand raised his eyebrows. “Didn’t think he could get his hands dirty. Little piece of shit. Haven’t seen him in a while, since the haunted house here in Solitude. He still dragging along the ginger? What was his name? Erik? Erik the ‘Slayer’? I mean...really? The Slayer?”

     

    Decimus chuckled. “Yeah. That was Grulmar’s idea. He said it’d make him sound like a tough mercenary. But no, that boy has up and joined Jorrvaskr, though I think they still pair up for treasure hunting.”

     

    “They actually took him?” Belrand snorted.

     

    “Aye, they did.” He then snorted and rolled his eyes. “Kids these days, right? Hey, maybe you should get a tough name to.” The Imperial pointed at the bottle of mead in Belrand’s hand and laughed. “How ‘bout ‘Belrand the Mead-Bane’?”  

     

    “And how about ‘Decimus the Merc with a mouth’?”

     

    “I do have a mouth, true,” the Imperial laughed. “And what about ‘Belrand Big-Belly’?” He expected a retort, but the Nord wasn’t really paying attention to him anymore. He was watching something at the door and Decimus turned around to find out what had the old mercenary’s attention. Falk Firebeard in all his stewardship finery was standing at the door, his eyes scanning the Winking Skeever as if he was looking for something. Or someone, Decimus thought when the Jarl's steward's eyes stopped at Belrand and headed towards the bar.

     

    “Hey, Dec. Would you mind?” Belrand asked and the Imperial frowned at that.

     

    Are you throwing me out of my chair? Not a chance, fucker. I'm glad I'm sitting. He shook his head and reluctantly sipped the ale he pushed away few moments ago, which made him even more sour. “Yeah, I fucking would mind,” he growled.

     

    He heard Falk cough behind him, but he wasn't really ready to leave. “Belrand,” Firebeard greeted the Nord mercenary and then cleared his throat again. “I would like to speak with you about some business-”

     

    “We'll do it for nine hundred septims,” Decimus spoke quickly, taking a proper gulp of the ale, grimacing after that, and turning to Falk. “So just spit it out, Firebeard.”

     

    “Merotim,” Firebeard muttered, shaking his head. “The business is between me and Belrand, so how about you go to that favourite brothel of yours and cause some trouble, eh?”

     

    The Imperial grinned at that and shrugged. “I would go, but I'm trying to save you some money, you know.”

     

    “Not now, Dec,” Belrand silently growled towards him, but Decimus just brushed it off.

     

    “You're about to hire this sad excuse for a mercenary here,” the Imperial continued, ignoring the stare Firebeard was giving him. “He'll do it for five hundred. Good wage, I say, pretty good wage. But when he fucks things up and gets himself killed-”

     

    “Hey!” the Nord mercenary barked, but again, the Imperial ignored him and continued as if nothing happened.

     

    “- you will come looking for me. Or anyone else, it doesn't matter. But because this fucker fucks up, the price goes up, you know? Dangerous job and all that. So most people would take the job for seven hundred - I would take it for six, just because we're such good friends, Belrand and me, and I'd want to avenge him. So, yeah, he'll want half up front. Two hundred and fifty. He then fucks up, you finally come to me and I'll also want half up front, because I’m not stupid. That’s three hundred, right? So, now we're at five hundred and fifty. And when I get the job done, I'll want the rest and most likely a bonus for getting the job done really good and fast, so let's say I'll want four hundred. See? Now we're at nine hundred and fifty.”

     

    “What the fuck is your point?” Belrand rubbed his eyes in annoyance, throwing sorry looks at Falk Firebeard, trying to apologize for his Imperial friend.

     

    Decimus grinned at that. “My point? I'm trying to save the court fifty septims and more importantly, time.”

     

    Falk coughed and looked around. “And why do you think we need two mercenaries?”

     

    “Because the job's bad. Some weird shit happened, you sent your men there, they didn't come back. How many of them?” The Imperial scratched his beard and then began picking dirt from behind his nails. Gotta clean them up later. Hopefully in Proudspire. A good warm bath for your old bones. Yes, a good warm bath and Alessia likes that spanking... “By the look on your face, I would bet there were four of them.” When Falk raised his eyebrows, Decimus quickly corrected himself: “Three. So you lost three men and don't want to lose more.”

     

    “I fucking hate you,” Belrand murmured, sagging into his chair. “One day I'll fucking kill you.”

     

    Decimus sneered and rubbed his nose, chuckling into his hand. “Please. You would have to get a fucking Bleak Walker for that.”

     

    “I have magic, you know.”

     

    “Good for you. Do you use it to make your little soldier stand?”

     

    Falk coughed into his hand, getting their attention. “I hate to interrupt your marriage argument, but I would like to finish this business as soon as possible.”

     

    “Oh, thank Shor,” the Nord mercenary grimaced. “Just tell me…” he began and looked at Decimus with a frown and then sighed. “Just tell US what is it you want done.”

     

    The steward nodded and leaned closer, making sure the other patrons of the Winking Skeever couldn't hear them. “Wolfskull Cave. Several people from Dragon Bridge reported to the court that they saw strange lights. Travellers were disappearing. I suspected wild animals attacks or maybe bandits, so I sent three guardsmen to look into the matter. Only to figure out if there was an ounce of truth to those reports. And then they never returned. People saw them heading up the mountains where the cave is. And-”

     

    “They never came back,” Belrand finished, scratching his ear deep in thought. “When was it? Couldn't they just have gotten stuck in the mountains?”

     

    “A week ago,” Falk said and Decimus grunted. There was no chance that three Solitude guardsmen couldn't get out of the mountains for a whole week, even if there was a massive snowstorm. What was disturbing was that not a single one of them returned. His experience was that most of the time, there was at least one survivor. Either someone exceptionally good at combat and surviving or just a coward who ditched his own comrades to save his own skin.

     

    “The cave. Wolfskull you said,” the Imperial murmured, his gaze fixed on a bottle at the other side of the counter. He wasn't staring it because he wanted to, but because it was something that captured his gaze, something to focus on while he was thinking. “Something weird about it?”

     

    “The cave has a bad history,” Firebeard shivered a little, as if a cold wind breathed down his neck. “They say that long ago, Potema the Wolf Queen used it for necromantic rituals. That's where it got the name. That was over five hundred years ago. Nothing much down there now - but everyone's always convinced the cave is haunted.”

     

    Belrand and Decimus exchanged looks and the Imperial scratched his beard. “Well, Falk, it is quite possible it is haunted.” He then looked back at Belrand. “What do you think? Undead?”

     

    “Too slow. The guards would retreat if they saw undead. And they're too stupid to set an ambush, even Draugr. Ghosts or Wraiths maybe?”

     

    Decimus shrugged. “Could be. They can surprise you if you're not careful, but once one guard would go down they would swarm the body, to drain the essence. That would give other guards time to retreat. Doesn't explain why no one ever returned.”

     

    “So it's a possible soup of fucked up shit,” Belrand grimaced and then snorted. “Not sure that's worth it for nine hundred.”

     

    “Yeah,” Decimus nodded. Good timing, Belrand. Let's tighten the noose, but carefully. Don't want to scare him, do we? “I like gold just as everyone, but we'll be going blind here. No one would.”

     

    Falk gritted his teeth. “What happened to  ‘Save the court fifty septims’?”

     

    “Professional hazards,” Belrand raised his head and smiled. “One thousand. Half up front.”

     

    The steward just sighed and spread his arms in acquiescence. “I need the job done. One thousand. And you will get the half tomorrow, is that clear? You'll head out at first light and I don't want you drunk.” He pointed his finger at Decimus, frowning. “Especially you, Merotim. You'll get the money in the morning, the rest after you finish the job. Deal?”

     

    “Deal,” both Belrand and Decimus agreed and then watched Falk leave the inn. When the door behind him closed, Decimus growled and hit the counter with his fist.

     

    “Fuck!” he cursed. “We should have strung him for more.”

     

    “We should have,” Belrand murmured, clearly still sour about Decimus taking half of the money. Don't know what you're complaining about, friend. You still get your five hundred, I get mine and both of us have better chance of getting out alive. “But shit. You have to tell me, how did you know about those guards?”

     

    “Seriously?” Decimus raised his eyebrows. He then spread his arms, encompassing the whole inn with his gesture. “You're sitting in a fucking tavern. Do you actually ever bother to listen to people? I've been hearing all the gossip for the past few days now, that's all. One traveller says that, a local patron says something else. You piece it together.”

     

    “Damn,” the Nord spellsword murmured. “This is so unlike you.”

     

    “The fuck?”

     

    “Smart,” Belrand chuckled and Decimus rolled his eyes, a memory flashing before his eyes. A similar conversation he had had once with an old friend, only the tables were turned.

     

    “Fuck you.”

     

Comments

11 Comments   |   KaiserSoSay and 9 others like this.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  October 11
    After just coming from Practice of Magic, seeing Decimus again hits right in the feels. How I missed that dirty old goat.
  • A Shadow Under the Moons
    A Shadow Under the Moons   ·  September 5
    Well now. This is promising, as usual. Lissette-ko and Karver-jo are being perverts, as usual. I think we're in for a fun ride...

    ...as usual.
    • The Lorc of Flowers
      The Lorc of Flowers
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      Well now. This is promising, as usual. Lissette-ko and Karver-jo are being perverts, as usual. I think we're in for a fun ride...

      ...as usual.
        ·  September 5
      Perverts? :O Alright, maybe a little. :D Hold your hat, Harrow, it's gonna get...kinky. xD
  • Ben W
    Ben W   ·  September 4
    Read it earlier and forgot to hit like; whoops
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  September 4
    The banter is snappy, funny, and dirty - starting as you mean to go on, I'd wager, with lots of the latter I expect :D A fantastic start to a new story from Lissette and the Lorc, I am eager for more :)
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Paws
      Paws
      Paws
      The banter is snappy, funny, and dirty - starting as you mean to go on, I'd wager, with lots of the latter I expect :D A fantastic start to a new story from Lissette and the Lorc, I am eager for more :)
        ·  September 4
      You know us, Phil.  A bunch of dirty minds. :D
      • Paws
        Paws
        The Long-Chapper
        The Long-Chapper
        The Long-Chapper
        You know us, Phil.  A bunch of dirty minds. :D
          ·  September 4
        Best sort of mind to have :D
        • The Lorc of Flowers
          The Lorc of Flowers
          Paws
          Paws
          Paws
          Best sort of mind to have :D
            ·  September 4
          Psssst. Check the ToC´s artwork...psssst. 
  • KaiserSoSay
    KaiserSoSay   ·  September 4
    Hah, what better way to start a story than talks of brothels and fucking. 
    “Please. You would have to get a fucking Bleak Walker for that.” Why do I feel like that's going to bite him in the arse one—oh... nevermind. :/
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      KaiserSoSay
      KaiserSoSay
      KaiserSoSay
      Hah, what better way to start a story than talks of brothels and fucking. 
      “Please. You would have to get a fucking Bleak Walker for that.” Why do I feel like that's going to bite him in the arse one—oh... nevermind. :/
        ·  September 4
      Hello, yes, brothels and fucking. I just want to see Decimus dressed as a Priest of Dibella. 
    • The Lorc of Flowers
      The Lorc of Flowers
      KaiserSoSay
      KaiserSoSay
      KaiserSoSay
      Hah, what better way to start a story than talks of brothels and fucking. 
      “Please. You would have to get a fucking Bleak Walker for that.” Why do I feel like that's going to bite him in the arse one—oh... nevermind. :/
        ·  September 4
      Muhehehehe. I couldn´t forgive myself an inside "sad joke" :D