Chasing Death: Epilogue

  • Epilogue Banner.png


    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, as well as with people who just ended their day, looking for a drink or just a hot meal. There was a strange atmosphere at the inn, a mix of a relief and anxiety,  as if everyone was expecting something bad to happen again, but at the same time hopeful that it wouldn’t.


    The two weeks after the curse was lifted from the city were also strange.  People were still afraid to go out at night and the city was still overgrown with Nightshades and Deathbells, though the weeds seemed to be dying off, the more familiar lavender and dragon’s tongue sprouting through the dying black leaves, as if fueled by their destruction. And for Decimus...well, he had woken up one day only to find out that he couldn't remember a damn thing from the moment they entered Potema's throne room - or whatever it was. He had woken up to find out that Styrr had already sanctified the remains and that Ronnie was gone, the Thalmor hot on his heels. After what he had done? It just wasn’t fair.


    And there was this face he was seeing in the back of his mind. A woman, with pale skin, green eyes and black hair. Beautiful. A vague memory of something that happened in his mind. He was seeing a bed, the woman and Äelberon. Interwined, their bodies as they made love showered by petals from no blossom he had ever seen before. It was making his head spin because Ronnie said what he had said to him in the catacombs and yet the image was there. And all over that hung a word, a word he didn't understand, but a word that seemed to mean everything to Ronnie when the Mer spoke it in his mind.




    “Dec!” loud voice made him snap from his thoughts and he looked to his left, where Belrand was sitting. Looking a little tired, but much better than he did when Decimus first woke up.


    “Hmm, what?” Decimus asked, blinking because he didn't hear what the Nord spellsword had said.


    “Was just asking if you were alright,” Belrand raised his eyebrows. “You looked like you were gone in your head.”


    Decimus shrugged and released a sigh. “Was thinking about our friend,” he murmured and looked around, making sure no one was paying attention to their chat. “Fucking Thalmor,” he grumbled quietly, shaking his head. “Pisses me off.”


    “They started after him like a pack of hounds, Decimus. Didn’t even give him a fucking day to rest and I saw how he looked when he laid you on that bed in Proudspire. Like he had been through fucking Oblivion. I think he knew, Dec…”


    “Yeah, he knew.” Decimus muttered. Probably knew from the beginning. Probably what you wouldn’t tell me, you old fart.  


    “Curse the Old Marys. You think he outran them?” Belrand wondered and Decimus felt corners of his mouth twitch in amusement.


    “Hope so,” Decimus murmured, taking a sip from his tankard which was filled with wine this time. Not Surilie's and definitely not Alto - which was a horsepiss - but it was a wine imported from Cyrodiil. That was enough for him. Come on, Ronnie. You have plenty of experience with evading those idiots. Give them a proper chase. Decimus hoped he would - but Belrand was right. He didn’t remember what had happened in the throne room, but he knew Ronnie had not emerged from it unscathed. He was badly injured and unable to cast. And Decimus wondered if the Thalmor had waited for that precise moment. Because why be brave and go against the fucker when he’s at full strength? No, you go for him when he’s down. It is what you would do, Old Blade, and what you tell the old Mer to do all the time. He found himself hoping that Ronnie wouldn’t give up, but the Mer was old. He was captured at Helgen. He’s getting older and they’re getting smarter. Don’t give up, Ronnie. You never did, don’t start now. He shook his head and clenched his hand into fist. “Just pisses me off that nobody lifted a finger to help, even though they fucking owe him. Not Elisif, not Tullius. But that’s  how it works, right?”


    “And can you blame them?” Belrand raised his eyebrows. “He killed Stentor and it really doesn’t matter she was a vampire and that maybe he did them a favour. He just came and killed her, just like that. That certainly doesn’t make them feel safe. It also makes them look very stupid. He knew immediately, saw right away what she was and he made the court look like a bunch of fools, Tullius too. Wonder what Stormcloak will do with that information. I’m sure he’ll find out sooner or later.” Belrand shrugged. “But it could be always worse.”


    Decimus frowned and looked at his friend. “What?”


    The Nord scratched his bald head and grimaced. “Well, Tullius could have apprehended him and handed him over to Thalmor directly. That would be worse, wouldn't you say?”


    “Fuck Tullius!” Decimus growled, gritting his teeth. “The only reason why he sent Rikke with us was so that he could find an angle on...our friend. The first thing I saw when I woke up was that bastard's face. And do you know what he wanted? He didn't give a flying shit if I was alright or a ‘thank you’ or whatever, he wanted to know everything about the so-called Albino.”


    He had been in bed for two days after Äelberon dragged him out of the catacombs, so he couldn’t even say goodbye to his friend. He couldn’t have that chat with him he had wanted. And the first thing he saw was… Tullius? Not a very pleasant wake up call. No wonder you told him to go stab himself with all those question. He can find another pawn for his game.


    “Yeah, but why?” Belrand asked out loud and Decimus avoided his gaze. “I mean, what could he possible want from the Albino? I mean, aye, the mer is wanted by Thalmor - badly apparently. Maybe intel on Thalmor? Nah, that’s not it, is it? I'm not dumb, Dec. What aren't you telling me?”


    That he's the fucking Dragonborn. Of course Tullius would want to use him - if he knew that  Ronnie really is the Dragonborn. And I bet my Goldpact nuts he suspects that, he thought but on the outside he just shook his head. “Trust me, you don't need to know everything.”


    Belrand snorted at that and took a proper swig of his mead. “I really hate you sometimes.”


    “Me? Such a charming guy?” Decimus grinned.


    “And how do you measure that? By every whore that gives you when you pay her? Then yeah, you're probably the most charming guy in the world, Decimus,” Belrand sneered, his fist hitting Decimus' shoulder.


    The Imperial rubbed the shoulder and grimaced. “You're wounding me.”


    Someone stepped to the counter they were sitting at and Decimus looked up to see a Nord man, whose eyes were swimming from too much alcohol, no doubt. “Ey!” the Nord said, trying to focus his eyes on both Belrand and Decimus at the same time. The result was that the man was looking at the spot between them, looking as if he was talking with someone else. “Aren't ya two the heroes that saved Solitude?”


    Decimus and Belrand looked at each other with raised eyebrows and Decimus then put on his grin. Still didn't feel right Ronnie wasn't around, but they were mercenaries. They just couldn't pass up the opportunity to take advantage of that situation. “Sure, friend, that's us. Want to buy us a round?” Decimus chuckled, not really liking himself at that moment.


    “Sure,” the Nord nodded, nearly falling to the floor. He waved his hand at Corpulus. “Ey! Two bottles of mead for these two.”


    Decimus frowned and began turning towards the innkeeper. “Wait, I don't want mea-”


    Belrand hit his shoulder again, making him shut up. “Yes, mead! Thank you, kinsman.”


    The Nord leaned against the bar, barely standing and narrowed his eyes at Decimus and Belrand. “Wait, wait. Weren't there like three of ya? Where’s the other fella? Tall bastard.”


    Decimus' face turned sour and he tilted his head to the side, closing his eyes for a second. “Yeah, you're right. And you want to know why it's just me and Belrand here now?” He leaned closer to the drunkard and growled: “Because the fucking Thalmor chased our friend out of the city. And General Tullius or Jarl Elisif haven't done shit to stop it. How fucked up is that?”


    The Nord stared at him and Decimus wasn't sure he even heard him. The Nord then burped into Decimus' face, who blinked several times at the stench. “I gotta tell my friends,” the Nord mumbled and tottered towards the other side of the room.


    Belrand silently clapped and shook his head. “Real smooth, Dec. Real smooth. You know how to make people love their ruler.”


    “I don't really give a fuck,” the Goldpact Knight growled in anger.


    “I think the Jarl wanted to--” The Nord started.


    “Then she should have.” Decimus snapped. “Be a fucking leader, not Tullius’ pawn.They didn't lift a finger for him. And he didn’t have to come. We asked him to come. He answered her letter, because he’s a good person, a fucking idiot who actually fucking cares, so now they can go fuck themselves for all I care for what they did to him. I'm leaving soon anyway.”


    “What's holding you here then?” Belrand asked and then he raised his forefinger and tapped on his temple. “Ah. You're waiting for the Thalmor to return. You want to be sure.” He leaned closer and frowned. “What if they bring him back in chains?”


    Decimus hit the bar with his fist. “Then I'll fucking kill them all,” he growled, baring his teeth.


    “Aye, a very good idea,” Belrand shook his head in disbelief. “Taking on a whole garrison of Thalmor, right in Solitude. You’re a genius, Dec. A real genius. You just really want to see the Thalmor’s holding cells, right?”


    Decimus scratched his beard and frowned. Not your best idea, Dec, true. “Then we will spring a rescue.”




    The Imperial chuckled. “Just don’t dig your heels in. You like him too.”


    Decimus expected a grimace from the spellsword, but Belrand’s expression grew thoughtful as he drank from his tankard. “I would say that he’s alright, for an Old Mary, but no. I hated the notion of him joining us. But in those catacombs, I learned. My studying days are over, but working with him on Rikke. Fuck I  hadn’t had a real mage like that around me since old Wuunferth. And he didn’t treat me like shit because I was a Nord. He actually thanked me back there, Decimus. Said I saved her life by thinking of that mage in High Rock, not him, but me. You just don’t hear that from an Old Mary. It’s like he’s shy, unassuming, you know?” The Nord nodded, as if affirming something in his mind. “I would fight by his side again.”


    “He is one to have by your side always,” Decimus nodded, sipping his wine. He looked around and grimaced. He’d been in one place for too long, nearly two months now. Everything was starting to feel too familiar plus the work had become scarce. It was time to move on again, to different places where he could get killed for little bit of gold. He threw a sideway glance at Belrand before taking another sip. “What’s your plan anyway?” he asked, wiping his mouth.


    The Nord rubbed his right eye and sniffed. “Honestly? I might just keep my feet warm for some time, you know what I mean? This whole thing...It smelled of horse shit right from the beginning and now that it's over… Just going to enjoy the quiet, break an arm or leg for few Septims now and then, these sort of things. Definitely not going to take any jobs on undead for some time.”


    Decimus chuckled and then solemnly nodded. “I get you. But between you and me,” Decimus leaned closer and whispered: “I would be careful. The nights are getting colder.”


    “What in the name of Shor's beard are you talking about?” Belrand looked at him with confusion in his eyes.


    The Imperial shrugged at that, not really capable of pointing out something specific. “Just a hunch,” he murmured, frowning. Where in the blazes is this coming from, Dec? He couldn't tell, he just felt that the nights would become a lot more dangerous in the future days. “Just a hunch,” he repeated.


    He heard a clamour from behind him and he turned, looking at the door leading to the inn. The shine of gold reflecting the light of the fireplace blinded him for a second and he narrowed his eyes. Four Dominion soldiers in their moonstone armor just walked in and the Winking Skeever became quiet as if everyone just saw a ghost. The soldiers headed for one table and waved at the innkeeper, which is when the chatter returned to normal.


    Decimus watched them out of the corner of his eye, measuring them. One Khajiit, a big one - most likely a cathay-raht - who made the chair under him creak as he sat down. Two Bosmer in lighter armor, leaning their longbows against the table. And an Altmer, most likely a sergeant. So three grunts and one un-pure blood. It was like that in Dominion army. All the important ranks were held by Altmer, and if there was an Altmer sergeant he most likely didn't have the right blood to be an officer. Mongrels, that’s what they called them. Ronnie told him once his parents had been such grunts before the father took to fishing and the mother became a blacksmith.


    All four looked tired and rugged, their armor not so shiny up close, all covered in dust and mud. They all sat somewhat stiff on their chairs, which could mean that they had just spent lot of time on horseback.


    Corpulus came to talk with them, listened to their order, and then headed back to the counter. Decimus stopped him with raised hand. “Hey, Corpulus. Get me four tankards of your cheapest ale.”


    The innkeeper raised his eyebrows but didn't bother to ask.


    “Decimus,” Belrand hissed a warning, his brows lowering.


    “What?” the Imperial grinned, knowing that his eyes were twinkling. “Just buying rounds for my soon to be best friends.”


    “Just…” the Nord spellsword sighed and shook his head. “Don't. Please?”


    The Goldpact Knight dismissed it with a flick of his wrist, not really worried. He just wanted to have a chat with some Dominion soldiers, nothing wrong with that as far as he could remember. Well, except that part where they could drag you to a cell and torture you as a Talos worshipper. Yeah. He eyed the soldiers again and snorted. Hardly. These are just grunts, they don't really give a shit about that. They are just being ordered around, protecting the fancy arses of the local Dominion dignitaries, escorting Justiciars and other shits. What's Grulmar always saying? Easy-peasy? Yeah. “Easy-peasy,” he flashed a smile at Belrand and took the four tankards Corpulus just set before him.


    “If anyone asks, I don't know you,” Belrand groaned.


    “Pussy,” Decimus whispered into his ear as he was getting up from his chair, passing the Nord and heading towards the table the soldiers laid siege to. They looked up as he was drawing closer, their tired alien eyes measuring him with caution and he didn’t really blame them. They weren’t met with anything but hostility and fear in Skyrim. Or even Cyrodiil.


    He stopped by the table, the four tankards in his hands. Now up close he could take better stock of the soldiers. The Khajiit was a large one, his fur a color between yellow and grey with black spots all over it. Decimus noticed a nasty scar over the Khajiit's right eye, which was closed shut and so it was only the jaguar-man's left yellow eye watching him.


    The two Bosmer looked almost identical to each other, with the difference that one was male and the other female. They had deep brown eyes, almost like black pools, and dark brown hair, their faces covered with tribal tattoos. Decimus blinked few times when he spotted a pair of antlers protruding from the female's forehead. Damn! Never had one with those. Perfect handles.


    The slender Altmer had almost olive colored skin and harder features than Decimus expected, his long black hair tied into an unkempt lank ponytail, his green alien eyes watching every Decimus' move. There was a bright white-pink scar on his sharp chin, horizontally copying his lip. He was leaning back in his chair, one hand on the table, the left one on the hilt of a dagger at his waist.


    The Khajiit got up, standing right in front of Decimus and the Imperial grinned. The Khajiit was taller by only a little but he was much bulkier than Decimus. The fucker's almost as big as Ronnie. “Any of you been at Red Ring?” he looked at them with a grin.


    “Is the Imperial looking for trouble?” the cathay-raht growled deep down in his throat which sounded as if the cat was going back to its primal roots. Damn intimidating.


    Decimus shrugged. “Depends. Any of you been at Red Ring?” he repeated and smiled. “You see, I would like to sit down, buy you all drinks and have a chat with you. The thing is, I'm going to do precisely that.” He measured them, still keeping his big grin. “But,” he added after a moment of silence, with the Altmer watching him with a look that was somewhere between amusement and caution. “If any of you were at Red Ring, I'll have to kill you after I finish that drink.”


    They exchanged looks, all eventually looking at the Altmer. His fingers were tapping against the table and then a smirk appeared on his face. “And they say Imperials have no balls,” he then spoke with a hoarse, unpleasant voice - almost as if he was drinking too much. “But no, Goldpact Knight, none of us were at Red Ring. We were stationed in Hegathe and just thinking about that makes me thirsty. So I hope that ale is for us,” he pointed at the tankards in Decimus' hands. “Come on, Bright, get the man a chair,” he turned to the Khajiit.


    The Khajiit came to next table, ignoring the looks of the people sitting there and took one chair, pushing it under Decimus' knees which prompted him to sit. He put the tankards on the table and the Altmer was the first to reach for it. He put it to his lips and the sound of a loud gulping echoed at the table. Decimus watched with his eyes nearly popping out as the Altmer downed the whole tankard in matters of seconds.


    “Well, fuck me,” the Goldpact Knight exclaimed. “I think this is the first time I’ve seen an Old Mary downing a tankard of the worst ale in the town.”


    “He'll drink anything,” the Bosmer male murmured as he reached for the tankard, sniffing it first. “Well, it's not poisoned,” he stated, looking at the Altmer who just shrugged. The Khajiit didn't even bother to taste it and so the Altmer reached for his tankard too.


    “What's this chat you want to have with us about?” the Bosmer female asked and Decimus find himself quite enjoying the sound of her voice. And damn, those damn antlers…


    Decimus waved at Corpulus, showing him a raised forefinger, hoping the innkeeper would understand he wanted wine again. “Well, I don't know how about you, but I prefer to chat with people who have names. So far I can say only: ‘Thalmor.’ My name's Decimus. What's yours, big fellow? Bright was it?” he looked at the Khajiit.


    “Bright Moon,” the jaguar-man grunted.


    “Leaf,” the Bosmer male smirked.


    “Twig,” the Bosmer female said and Decimus felt his ‘twig’ twitch a little. And if he wasn't wrong the Bosmer was eyeing him the same way he was eyeing her. It was then that Decimus noticed a staff leaning against the table, with a white crystal on top and he frowned. He thought it was a bow - how could he think it was a bow? He could feel Ronnie’s eyeroll.


    “She's a mage,” Leaf chuckled, noticing Decimus' frown.


    She elbowed Leaf, frowning at him. “No I'm not! I'm a backup archer!”


    “Twig carries a staff,” Bright Moon pointed out, his clawed finger pointing at the staff.


    “It's a bow!” Twig fumed, hitting the table with her fist.


    Decimus shook his head, scratching his beard. “A bow with glowing crystal at the tip?”


    “That's for aiming. It's a Bosmeri thing, you wouldn't understand,” she shook her head, taking a sip of the ale. She grimaced and then just shrugged, taking a proper swig.


    Leaf shook his head. “Yeah, so that's us. And that,” he pointed at the Altmer, “is Sergeant Harp.”


    The sergeant frowned, looking at the Bosmer. “That's Sergeant Khraemor of Vulkhel Guard to you, soldier. Tomorrow you'll spar with Legion archers, that will make you remember my name.”


    “How's that punishment?” Leaf raised his eyebrows, a smug sneer on his face.


    “You'll have to let them win,” the Altmer purred, flashing an evil grin at him. The Bosmer's face froze and then he sulked. Decimus just shook his head. This certainly wasn't what was he expecting when he came to the table.


    “Alright, I really have to ask,” the Goldpact Knight shook his head in disbelief, rubbing the muscles on his neck. “The names. Who in the Oblivion gave you those?”


    “Master Sergeant Antsy,” the two Bosmer and Khajiit said in unison.


    Decimus raised his eyebrows and just blinked at them, making them know he had no damn clue who they were talking about.


    “Master Sergeant Nandrion of Skywatch,” Khraemor corrected them with a frown and raised forefinger. “Most of the Dominion's recruits go through his training in Alinor, the city.”


    “They say he's old enough to remember the First Dominion,” Twig added. “Certainly looks like it. A weathered plum.”


    “They also say he eats recruits who can't properly march,” Leaf grimaced, looking over his shoulder as if he expected this Master Sergeant would be standing behind him.


    “And if the Master Sergeant doesn't like someone, he gives him a name,” Bright Moon murmured.


    “Or if he likes someone,” Leaf quipped. “Then he gives him a name too.”


    “And the name just sticks,” Twig added and pointed at the Altmer. “He gave Harp his name just because he's always carrying strings of-”


    The Altmer kicked the chair under the Bosmer female and she fell on the floor, attracting the attention of the inn's patrons. “Twig here got her name because one day she was starting a fire and her whole arm caught on fire. She literally burned like a twig,” sergeant said with a smile that didn't reach his eyes as he frowned at the Bosmer. He then looked at Decimus, still with a smile on his face, but it was a cold smile. The Imperial narrowed his eyes, measuring the Altmer. He knows. Twig got on her feet, straightened her chair and with a grimace she sat down, keeping her mouth shut. Bright Moon and Leaf watched that exchange in silence, their faces masks of stone.


    “But I doubt this is what you wanted to ‘chat’ about, Goldpact Knight,” sergeant Khraemor eyed the Imperial with a knowing look. “Hmm?”


    “Yeah,” Decimus nodded and he looked back to the bar, noticing Belrand watching him with a worried look. He winked at him and looked back at the Altmer who didn't let his eyes leave the Goldpact Knight. He's like a snake this one.


    “Well, then ask your question,” sergeant Harp challenged him and Decimus frowned, not breaking the eye contact. He would be damned if he yielded his gaze to a damn Old Mary. But those damn alien eyes…


    “Did you catch him?” he asked up front and the Dominion soldiers exchanged looks, except the sergeant who still hadn't moved a finger.


    “Who?” the Altmer asked with a smile. Decimus knew the Altmer was playing with him, but he still felt it getting under his skin.


    “You very damn well know who,” he answered in a low voice, which prompted the Khajiit to his right to tense. Decimus could see the muscles on Bright Moon's neck bulge out of the corner of his eye, but the Imperial kept his hands on the table.


    “Oh, HIM,” sergeant leaned back in his chair casually, a smirk on his face. Almost a triumphant smirk. “Yes, we did catch him.”


    Decimus felt his jaws clench, his teeth gritting. He felt his blood boiling, rising to his head and he could feel the heat on his cheeks and forehead as they turned red. That awful feeling in the pit of his stomach. He had an urge to smash the table into splinters and grab that Altmeri neck, crushing it in his hands. He realised his hands were slowly moving towards the sword at his belt. “What if they bring him back in chains?” Belrand had asked a few moments ago. “I'll fucking kill them all,” Decimus  had answered. And what if they just killed him? Then I'll kill them all slowly.


    “Sort of,” the Altmer then added with that irritating knowing smile, his green eyes on Decimus' hand that was nearly touching the hilt of his baskethilt sword.


    “What's that supposed to mean?” Decimus growled, his fingers now almost touching the hilt.


    “Well,” sergeant Harp started and chuckled. “How about I tell you all about the chase, hmm? Don't you want to hear it, Goldpact Knight?”


    “Talk,” the Imperial replied, barely keeping his anger under control. He had an urge to circle his shoulders, easing off the tension, but he would be damned if he'd give the Altmer the satisfaction.


    “Justiciar Coredalf woke us up in the middle of the night, ordering us to take weapons and armor, that the renegade had just left the city. And we were meant to immediately pursue. Wasn’t more than half an hour before we got ready, but Coredalf looked as if thunderbugs were crawling all over his skin the whole time. Justiciars can be very eager when they are hunting,” the Altmer said, still in his relaxed posture, even though the other soldiers had their hands close to their weapons, only the Khajiit wasn't reaching for any, he was just sitting there and watching Decimus. The body language told Decimus that Bright Moon didn't need any weapons.


    “We chased the renegade through the night and then in the morning we saw him. Just a dot in the distance. We…” he paused and bit his lower lip, “‘borrowed’ horses from the Legion in Solitude, Skyrim horses and those sacks of meat aren't meant for speed, but for stamina. So we knew we wouldn’t be able to catch up with him anytime soon. We rode a whole damn day, Dragon Bridge far behind us, and still the renegade wasn't stopping.”


    Decimus knew he had to take care of the Khajiit first, he was too close, and even though Decimus was fast, he wasn't sure if he would be able to pull out his sword in time. That meant he would have to go with a dagger. Stab it right under that cat’s face, straight to the brain. Then the two Bosmer.


    “Then we rode for another four days. Four days and four nights. And the old renegade still didn’t stop,” the Altmer continued.


    Bosmer were fast with their bows, but he saw that Leaf had his bow unstringed. What worried him was Twig. It was a shame she was so pretty, but she was probably the most dangerous one. All the pretty ones were. He didn't believe a word about that backup archer bullshit, she was a mage if he ever saw one. He would need to cross the distance fast.


    “He wasn't even trying to shake us, he was just speeding straight for Whiterun, using the road for speed. Riding that beast of his like Oblivion was behind him. Not stopping. We were in this ridge when we finally got close, very close to Rorikstead. Leaf here took a shot and up to this day I still blame the fact he was tired - we hadn’t slept at all, ate and drank in the saddle - that he hit the renegade’s shoulder and not his heart.”


    Decimus eyes flickered towards the Bosmer who narrowed his eyes at the sergeant and then looked at the Imperial, giving him a defiant look.


    “And that's when we reached Rorikstead,” sergeant Harp smiled, watching Decimus, knowing very well what the Imperial was about to do. “And it was also when two Companions and about half a dozen of the Hold's guard blocked our way.”


    Decimus attention snapped back to Altmer, his eyebrows now going up. What?


    “A Nord male, black hair, brooding face, silver eyes, in a dark armor, and an Imperial girl looking very much like a Nord, warpaint and everything. The Justiciar demanded they hand over the renegade to which they replied that the White-Gold Concordat doesn't involve handing over a known priest of Auri-El and the Harbinger of the Companions. They then all brandished their weapons. To say that Justiciar Coredalf was furious would be an understatement. It was five of us against eight of them - nine if we count the renegade, which we are not stupid, we did. Oh, yes, he was still tall on that horse, bleeding away, but still on it, his weapon drawn and ready, those eyes on us.” The Altmer fell silent, apparently enjoying how the tension grew. “We were tired, hungry, thirsty and outnumbered. But fortunately Justiciar Coredalf isn’t stupid and treats the soldiers under his command with a measure of consideration, so when he could see that we didn't stand a chance he ordered us to retreat.”


    Decimus stared at him, opening his mouth but unable to form words. Vilkas and Ria and guards. Dragonborn’s balls... “He got away,” he murmured.


    “As I said, we did catch him, sort of. And then he got away, like a wily silver fox,” Khraemor shrugged. “We camped near Rorikstead for few days, just to get some rest. Then we went back to Solitude, with one whining Justiciar - who actually seemed to be whining just for the show, didn’t have the proper Justiciar fire in it, you know. We all know the difference. Makes you wonder why, eh?” He then took Leaf's tankard and took a proper swig. “But it was a damn good chase. The one we were hunting was injured, quite badly, I think. Must have been even more tired than we were, and despite that, the first thing he does after lifting the Curse of Solitude was to jump into that bloody saddle and ride like the wind. He showed grit and determination, I can respect that.” He then leaned closer with a smirk on his face. “But between you and me, I still think that the only reason he got away was that that horse of his was some unnatural beast. An incredible creature.” He nodded. “She did not fail her master.”


    Decimus felt a wave of relief. You got away, Ronnie. Damn, just damn. Rest my friend, you've earned it and I’ll have an extra drink in your name, Queen Alfsigr. Old mer chose you well. He looked at the Altmer and shook his head. He knew and he was just playing with you, Dec. “Do you know who he is?” he asked with a solemn face and it was then that Harp's face became serious.


    “A renegade? A relic?” He then flashed a smile. “Or a bedtime story told to an eager youngling? Of Towers Crystal and legends of old? Of the sound Freedom makes when a gilded shield blocks the blow from a Beast’s axe?” He waved his hand and leaned back in his chair again. “Does it actually matter though? Look at us, Goldpact Knight. We're just soldiers, how much shit do you think we give about the matters of Justiciars, emissaries and the nobles?”


    “He’s no noble.”


    “No, he isn’t, but we were all born into Dominion, even him. We follow orders we don't understand, but follow them we do. Fuck Talos and all that. We just follow orders.” He then looked at the Bosmers and the Khajiit and chuckled. “And when we don't, we end up in this shithole.” He looked over his fellow soldiers and tilted his head to the side. “So yes, he got away and you know what? I toast to that unnatural animal and to him and his luck.” The Altmer raised his tankard and Bright Moon nodded at that. “May his luck hold. At least until we'll have to chase him again. And maybe we'll get him next time,” the sergeant added with a smile and then turned his tankard upside down, drinking every single drop of the cheap ale.


    “You were fucking with me the whole time, you bastard,” Decimus growled while he rubbed his eyes. He then realized he was chuckling and looked at the Altmer who had an amused look on his face. “I nearly fucking killed you.”


    “And here I thought there would be no killing since none of us were at Red Ring,” sergeant Harp smirked.


    The Imperial looked at the Dominion soldiers and then he looked at the table, realising the wine he ordered hadn’t arrived. “Where the fuck's my wine? I need a drink. Badly. You fuckers stay right here. I'm going to drink you under the table for shooting my friend.”


    “You can try,” Twig murmured with a smile and winked at him. Decimus shook his head and chuckled, heading towards the bar, towards Belrand and his wine.


    “You fucking asshole,” Belrand hissed when he came to the bar, the Nord grabbing him by his elbow, pulling him closer. “HE was the Harbinger? THE Harbinger of THE Companions?”


    Decimus frowned. “You were listening, weren't you?” He paused for a second, really trying to remember what he and Ronnie actually did say and didn't say. “Wait, we didn’t tell you?”


    “No!” The Nord frowned.


    “Well, my bad then. Remember? He’s unassuming, right? So, naturally no bragging about being the heir to the line of Ysgramor and all that. Now get your arse from the chair, we have a battle to win.”




    Decimus pointed towards the table occupied by the Dominion soldiers. “We're drinking with the Old Mary Dominion tonight. They say they'll drink us under the table. Hey, Corpulus? Where's my fucking wine?” He looked at Belrand and slapped his shoulder. “Did you also hear he got away? Damn, now that's something we can drink to.”


    “I also heard they put an arrow into him,” the Nord grimaced.


    “Yeah,” Decimus shrugged. “Well, you said you're going to kill me one day and I'm still drinking with you. We can't dwell on such things, right?”


    Belrand sighed. “You're going to fuck the Bosmer, aren't you?”


    “Absolutely,” Decimus grinned and with a tankard full of wine and his spellsword friend, he headed back to the table with four Dominion soldiers, to conduct the most epic battle Solitude has ever seen.

    When the Goldpact Knight left the table with Twig, heading upstairs, Khraemor found himself at the table with one Bosmer mumbling some old Bosmeri lullaby to himself, one drunken Nord sleeping under the table with his face in the puddle of the mead he spilled when he rolled down, and one very sober Khajiit. Khraemor looked at the bottom of his tankard and bit his lip, still not having enough. He was quite glad he had decided to drink that terrible ale, because it was so watered down, it was barely getting into his head. The Goldpact Knight with his wine and the Nord spellsword with his mead on the other hand...Well, the Imperial at least had some strength left to roll little Twig on her back.


    “Bright Moon wonders,” Bright Moon suddenly said and Khraemor narrowed his eyes, focusing on the Khajiit who was sitting in the chair, motionless, staring at his paws. “Why did the sergeant lie to the Goldpact Knight about Red Ring? Khajiit remembers very well we were all there.”


    Sergeant Harp - he hated that name - looked around and smiled. He pulled out a harp string from his pocket, tying it around his finger. A string from his mother's harp. “Where would be the fun in that, Bright? He was offering drinks. Doesn't happen so often here in this hole. We have to take what we can get.”


    “Then Bright Moon doesn't understand the provocation about the renegade.”


    “What can I say?” the Altmer leaned back in his chair, toying with the string. “Sometimes we all are chasing death one way or another.” He answered and then his thoughts focused on a certain defiant exile and Summerset Isles, their shared homeland. Khraemor smiled, fingering the string around his finger. If he only knew…


    Bottom ToC Banner for each chapter.png



    Closing Words


    So...phew. If you got this far, then you have reached the end of this story and both me and Lissette ‘verily’ appreciate the support you have given us. It’s just...phew. Another collab story on our list.


    I remember when we sat down and started thinking about this story and we just kept repeating to ourselves: “Let's be more on point with this, less flowery. Let's not make this big.” Heh, yeah. So apparently 92000 words is ‘on point’ for us.


    What inspired this story? Well, those who read Chasing Aetherius know about the Goldpact Knight and so this story kinda came to be as sort of my goodbye to ‘old’ Decimus, as well as because me and Lis wanted to try something slightly different, something little bit more darker. I say ‘old’ Decimus ‘cause yes, I think this is the last story where I write him. He will play a role in Straag Rod of course, but that is Lissette’s story. But I can tell you this: I have a feeling I still have a Dec story in me, a much younger Decimus, because there is still one thing that keeps nagging at me and Lis. One name that sort most of our characters have in common. One place, one name. Red Ring. Maybe one day, hehehe.


    I'll be honest here, we had lots of fun writing this, the snappy and dirty jokes along with slight erotica just poured from our fingers on its own, but I also gotta say that me and Lis almost killed each other few times. It isn’t easy to write a collab, the views can differ on several things and we argued quite a lot. And as Decimus told to Albee in this story: “Sometimes you gotta make compromises.” And we did, we always came to a compromise, showing the image how it should be shown. I would say everything worked very well in the end, and I believe we delivered one helluva ride, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did (at times, hehehe)


    So yeah, finished. It was a good experience, trying to push out a shorter story in much shorter time than Chasing Aetherius and I think we just nailed. 92k words in matter of 2-3 months. Just damn.


    Me and Lis will be now continuing our separate stories, because there is still lot of stuff to write. Lis has her Straag Rod and Companions questline and I have a certain Telvanni Practice of Magic to write. I hope we’ll see you all there.


9 Comments   |   Hworra and 8 others like this.
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  March 26
    But [that’s how] it works, right?” (Two-spaced)
    Fuck [I hadn’t] had a real mage like that around me since old Wuunferth. (Two-spaced)

    Is Twig some sort of reference to Dalish from Dragon Age: Inquisiton? She basically has the ...  more
    • Shadow Arm
      Shadow Arm
      But [that’s how] it works, right?” (Two-spaced)
      Fuck [I hadn’t] had a real mage like that around me since old Wuunferth. (Two-spaced)

      Is Twig some sort of reference to Dalish from Dragon Age: Inquisiton? She basically has the same excuse that her sta...  more
        ·  March 26
      Yup, it's a reference. :)
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  September 13, 2017
    Haha, that ending. Man, what a ride. I kind of feel like how Twig will in the morning :D Incredible work, both. Your collabs are always the best of two worlds, emotional and thrilling, charming and funny, and with moments as dark as the pits of Oblivion a...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Haha, that ending. Man, what a ride. I kind of feel like how Twig will in the morning :D Incredible work, both. Your collabs are always the best of two worlds, emotional and thrilling, charming and funny, and with moments as dark as the pits of Oblivion a...  more
        ·  September 13, 2017
      Thanks Phil. We have fun, like a married couple killiing each other sometimes, but we have fun. 
  • Ben W
    Ben W   ·  September 11, 2017
    Well well well... the Dragonborn got away with ANOTHER injury. 

    From drinking to fucking to fighting and so many lewd jokes and, in Lis' words 'lots of boobies, huh?' 

    Good work the both of ya
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Ben W
      Ben W
      Ben W
      Well well well... the Dragonborn got away with ANOTHER injury. 

      From drinking to fucking to fighting and so many lewd jokes and, in Lis' words 'lots of boobies, huh?' 

      Good work the both of ya
        ·  September 11, 2017
      Nothing is every free. It'll be a long while before he dares enter Solitude again. He's not welcome everywhere and is a polarizing figure. 
  • Hworra
    Hworra   ·  September 11, 2017
    Congratulations, Karver-jo, Lissette-ko, on finishing another piece. This one was short but most certainly enjoyable, and was a sweet farewell to our Goldpact Knight. Don't worry - you get on with writing your separate stories, and I'll be waiting there w...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Congratulations, Karver-jo, Lissette-ko, on finishing another piece. This one was short but most certainly enjoyable, and was a sweet farewell to our Goldpact Knight. Don't worry - you get on with writing your separate stories, and I'll be waiting there w...  more
        ·  September 11, 2017
      Thanks, Shadow. We had fun and appreciate your support. He lies, I only threw a few bottles of wine at him this time. Only a few... 
    • Shadow Arm
      Shadow Arm
      Congratulations, Karver-jo, Lissette-ko, on finishing another piece. This one was short but most certainly enjoyable, and was a sweet farewell to our Goldpact Knight. Don't worry - you get on with writing your separate stories, and I'll be waiting there w...  more
        ·  September 11, 2017
      I couldn't help myself there, all I was seeing was Iron Bull and his merry band there :D And thank you, Harrow, for reading and the support. :)