PoTM: Chapter 26, More Problems

  • Crush, Slash, Bash and Stab

    by Weapon-Master Grutsug


    "Grutsug," people ask me, "What weapon should I use? There are just so many choices!" Why, yes, my less-battle-savvy little friends, there are! But not to worry; you don't need to choose just one. In fact, if you're anything like me, you'll have much more fun with two!


    Even narrowing it down to two can be tough, but you should try out everything to see what calls to you. You have to be comfortable with your weapons, and they have to fit your own style. I've known soldiers and mercenaries who go their whole lives just using, say, a sword, and never trying anything else. Well, when I get them to lift a hammer for the first time, it's like a whole new world. And even better, they don't have to abandon that sword they know so well, just the shield. That's as it should be; shields are really a sign of fear and weakness, so don't even start using one.


    Weapons have their pros and cons, so you should know a little about each of them. Axes are great for folks with exceptional arm strength, but you need to be careful about getting the pointed parts stuck on or in your foes. Hammers are another good choice for the strong, and they're useful against heavy armor, crushing into the body beneath. They tend to be heavy, though, and may slow you down. Swords are a typical choice for beginners, but it takes work to maintain them in good shape and they take a bit of finesse to wield. I haven't used daggers much, but get in close enough using something else and they can help you seal the deal.


    For me, it's axe and hammer all the way. With my axe, Grimdeath, in my right hand, I can deliver powerful, targeted strikes on anyone without heavy armor. When faced with a more protected foe, here comes my hammer, Skullcrash, using my signature jaw-wallop to knock 'em out cold and send their helms flying. Then it's right back to the axe!


    By the way, you definitely need to name your weapons once you've picked them out. You can shout the names to scare your foes, and it'll help you develop a good, healthy relationship based on mayhem and the thrill of battle!


    Now, you're going to have to put in a good deal of training time to come anywhere near my expertise, but don't worry; every fight is just a new chance to learn. So get out there, grab a weapon, and then grab another. A whole world is waiting for you to crush, slash, bash, and stab the treasure and glory out of it!


    17th of Morning Star, 4E 203


    Mogrul was chewing some dried meat while watching the land pass to his left. The rocking of a boat was somewhat calming for him and so he was enjoying the moment of respite. Which was interrupted by Slitter's tired panting everytime he buried the oars into the water and heaved. They were heading south along Solstheim's coast, towards the smoke rising to the sky in the distance.


    It had been quite an enjoyable morning, at least until someone spotted the smoke in the south and Slitter came to tell Mogrul it's coming from where the wreck of the Strident Squall was - the Reaver outpost Mogrul had to cull a little for joining that old mer's movement of stupid defiance. The wreck was situated right where the Solstheim's coast was turning east, so it usually took few hours to get there by foot - which was the reason Mogrul decided to grab a small boat and sail there. He didn't have time to lose time.


    And here I thought everything was turning out for good for a change. And now this bullshit… Mogrul grimaced, because up until the morning, he was in a good mood. Why? Because yesterday was a damn good day.


    The Nord woman - Serana was her name - showed up on his doorstep yesterday, wanting to talk, her eyes all red-rimmed and bloodshot, her face all pale and pinched. Been cryin’ your eyes out, eh pretty thing? I wonder why? Not so tough without the Atlmer. And talk, my arse. But who was he to deny someone a talk? Maybe she really had wanted to talk about business or something and it was making Mogrul a little bit sad that he would never find out what she really wanted. Maybe she realized after the Altmer died, all that foam coming from his mouth, who the real power was? Maybe? But you’ll never know.


    So he invited her in, sat down with her, offered her a drink from his reserves and then it had just turned out for worse. Or better. Depends on your point of view. He very well knew why she had come - to kill him, what other reason there could be? He was kind of expecting that for some time, so the outcome certainly wasn't what the woman envisioned when she came knocking on his door, Slitter by his side, with that stupid sword at his hip. As if he could really use that thing. Sapphire did really well, though, yeah, that she did. Came right behind her and... pow! Of course it wasn’t necessary, the paralysis poison would’ve take care of her in a matter of minutes, but it was still fun to watch.


    He and Slitter then dragged her to a boat - the same boat they were now sitting in - and sailed little bit away from Raven Rock where the sea started getting deep. They had wrapped her in chains, added a big chunk of stone and tossed her into the water, watching her descend into the black abyss of the Sea of Ghosts. It had been the best moment in months for Mogrul, he just couldn't stop grinning. It was the closing of an annoying chapter in his life’s story. The dumb Altmer and his woman, dead. Eh? What is victory without some adversity?


    Until this thing with smoke in the south happened. Mood-killer.


    He looked behind Slitter, at Sapphire lying at the other side of the boat, clearly bored. “Sapphire,” Mogrul raised his voice, getting her attention. For a second he was just enjoying the sound of her name coming out of his mouth and he shook his head. “Any news on the Orc?”


    She lazily looked at him, like a cat enjoying the warmth of the sun - except there was no warmth and no sun now. Only thick clouds of ash rolling above their heads. “I already told you. He's at Tel Mithryn. Hasn't stepped outside yet - at least those stupid Reavers haven't noticed him leaving.”


    “But…” Slitter panted as he paddled. “How...did he get there?”


    She snorted. “I'm not sure if you are just deaf or stupid, Slitter. I've told you that too. He walked into Raven Rock's Temple with Drovas Relvi and all the supplies you so kindly brought him. He never walked out.”


    “So what? He just vanished in a puff of smoke and shit?” the Dunmer growled.


    “In a puff of shit. Definitely,” Sapphire sneered and Mogrul just shook his head.


    As much as he was enjoying those two barking at each other, he just wanted a simple answer. “So he's at Tel Mithryn. Got there from Raven Rock, without being seen by anyone. Not a single guard saw him leave town. What does that tell you?”


    Slitter stopped paddling for a second, probably thinking about the answer. “That he can turn invisible?”


    Mogrul resisted the urge to slap the Dunmer. “That he's backed by Neloth, you idiot! Magic. Probably used one of them fancy teleportation spells. Probably a scroll from Neloth.”


    “Or maybe he cast the spell himself,” Sapphire suggested with very little interest.


    Mogrul narrowed his eyes. That was an option he hadn’t considered. The Orc was wearing something distantly resembling a robe, but he was just a mere steward and those usually didn’t use magic - but this was House Telvanni they were talking about, everything was possible, even if it was crazy. An Orc and magic. Now that's an association you don't make very often. He looked at Sapphire. “When he showed up for the first time, he seemed to be friends with Glover. It makes me wonder if he isn't from that infamous Thieve’s Guild of yours.”


    She shrugged at that. “If he is, I’ve never noticed him. Which is kind of a pity, because he played you quite well,” she added, a challenge in her eyes.


    Mogrul growled in warning. She had been pushing it these past days, since the dragon attack. Almost as if she was challenging Mogrul to kill her - or at least try. Maybe it was just some sick game for her, forcing him into giving her an excuse to kill him which she liked to remind him of very often.


    They finally arrived at their destination and Mogrul's thoughts about Sapphire and her desire to kill him vanished like smoke. The wreck was all burning - or more like smouldering now, the whole wreck mostly consumed by fire and turned into a pile of smouldering wood. The waves clashing with the embers, releasing clouds of steam into the air.


    “What in the Oblivion happened here?” Slitter gasped when he turned around.


    “Just keep paddling,” Mogrul murmured, scanning the scene in front of him. “Maybe a dragon did that?”


    “We would have heard and seen that,” Sapphire stated. “Maybe another gang of Reavers? Seems like you don't have them under the control you think you do.”


    The Orc looked her in the eye and bared his teeth at her. He had enough of her witty remarks that constantly challenged him. He had enough of all her provocations and how everyone thought they could get the upper hand. He had enough of it all. “Take us to the shore, Slitter,” he growled, with his gaze still set on Sapphire. And maybe she finally understood he was very close to losing his shit, because she averted her gaze, looking at the smouldering wreck ahead of them.


    The boat hit land and Sapphire jumped out, water up to her thighs while she began pulling the boat up from the water. Slitter pulled up the oars and quickly joined her, while Mogrul kept sitting. Being the king of Solstheim has a few advantages. Like not getting your feet wet, for example.


    He jumped out once the boat was safely out of water, his feet landing in the ash mixed with sand. It never stopped to amaze him, these grey beaches of sand that looked almost black in places.


    He narrowed his eyes at the scene in front of him and slowly began walking towards the wreck. The palisade was still standing, completely intact beside it being little bit charred by the heat of the burning ship - which meant that whatever happened, it didn't come from the outside. Where did it came from then? The sea?


    As they drew closer, they began to see the corpses, almost a dozen of them right outside the protection of the palisade, away from the wreck. Mogrul frowned as he neared the first of the corpses.


    A Dunmer, in chitin armor very similar to Slitter’s, the whole left side of his body was ripped out, intestines lying in the ash and stretched for at least two steps back to the camp. “This doesn't make any sense,” he murmured, looking at the other corpses.


    Another one had its head nearly torn off, hanging only from shreds of skin and muscles, its face permanently frozen in a grimace of pain and terror. The corpse very close to it had its arm ripped out from the socket with the arm nowhere to be found.


    “This one's frozen to bone,” Sapphire murmured, kneeling near another corpse closer to the palisade. Mogrul cocked his head, looking at it, seeing the blackened skin on its face peeling off.


    “I don't like this,” Slitter muttered under his breath, his hand nervously clutching the sword at his belt.


    “It doesn't make sense,” the Nord woman exclaimed. “Why are they just lying here in the ash? Shouldn't they be burning along with the ship or something?”


    “It almost looks like whoever killed them took the time to drag them out here and then set the ship on fire,” Mogrul rubbed his chin, then scratched his nose. The wind suddenly turned, carrying with it the smell of smoke and he had the chance to experience the stench of bodies beginning to rot. The corpses had already emptied their bowels but they were still filling with gas, which meant it couldn't have been long since they were killed.


    “Drag them out?” Sapphire wondered. “I mean, really? Just look at them,” she pointed at the corpse with its intestines lying in the ash like a long rope. Yes, Mogrul was looking, but his mind was trying to figure out who could have done this. Or what, he corrected himself, seeing the mutilation of the bodies. They weren't just killed, they were nearly ripped apart and the strength to do that had to be quite considerable. He was of a mind that it was a werebear or any other kind of lycanthrope. Maybe even one of the Reavers from this camp, unable to control himself. Werebears were sighted several times on Solstheim and this could be the work of one of them.


    But it was that frozen body that made Mogrul second guess this theory. This type of frostbite was only achieved by strong magicks and werebears certainly weren't known for magic. Most of the evidence pointed at something wild and strong, but the magic…


    “Are you looking?!” Sapphire barked angrily and Mogrul's attention snapped to her.


    “I am! For fuck's sake, what do you want me to see?”


    “Do you see any signs of the bodies being dragged?” she asked, pointing at the ash. She coughed as the wind turned again, now chasing the smoke in their direction. “It looks almost like they died and then just walked here to lie down.”


    Mogrul raised his eyebrows. “Now that's just bullshi-” he started and then stopped, frowning. He hated to admit it, but Sapphire could be right. There were no signs of any of bodies being dragged through the sand and ash, and even though the wind would eventually cover the tracks, the bodies weren't exactly light. They would leave behind something. “Maybe they were carried,” he tried.


    “Maybe,” Sapphire murmured, crouching next to another corpse, this one had the top half of its head cleanly cut off, only the tongue and lower jaw reminding that it had been a person with a face once. The grey matter of the brain was spilled out and Mogrul could see the end of the spine protruding out. Sapphire uncovered the corpse's neck, frowning. “Is that… the neck's been bitten off,” she cocked her head to the side, unsure.


    She suddenly jumped away from the corpse. “Shit!” she cursed and Mogrul raised his eyebrows. “It twitched.”


    “Never guessed you for being scared of dead people,” Slitter chuckled at that.


    “I'm telling you the bloody corpse twitched!”


    “Dead people don't-” Mogrul started, but then the corpse next to him...twitched. “What the fuck?” The body missing an arm shook a little and Mogrul took few steps away from it.


    “Oh shit,” Sapphire gasped. “They really did walk from here after they died,” she exclaimed.


    The Orc suddenly yelled in pain and surprise as something grasped his ankle and he looked down to see the corpse with spilled intestines holding his leg, lifting its face towards him. And its eyes were glowing with an unnatural blue light. The corpse tugged and Mogrul found himself on his back, the undead now crawling over him, its nails and teeth going for his face.


    “Son of a shit!” he growled, putting his elbow under the corpse's neck, its teeth snapping only empty air, but still very close to his own face. Its fingers clawed at his cheeks, trying to reach for the eyes, to claw them out. Mogrul growled in anger and denial, trying to get the thing off of him, but its strength was just unnatural, closing in on his eyes inch by inch, its teeth now nearly at his chin. “No!” he screamed out his frustration into that dead face.


    The corpse then twitched, something snapping its head to the side. It paused for a second, the hands stopping and Mogrul used the opportunity to push the thing off of him, now finally noticing that it was a knife that made it pause, the knife's handle protruding from the undead's side of the head.


    The Orc forced himself to his feet, noticing Sapphire cutting and stabbing at the undead thralls with her daggers, but it wasn't yielding much against the unnatural forces that had raised the corpses.


    He heard the angry hissing and clicking as the corpse began clawing at his ankle again and he bared his teeth at it. “No you fucking don't!” he growled, the chain of his flail rattling as he finally pulled the weapon from behind his belt. The moment he touched the wooden shaft he could feel Snaga's thirst. And her hunger. He spun the head in the shape of spiked skull and then brought it down on the corpse’s skull. It split like a ripe melon, the dark red blood spraying everywhere and Mogrul spat when he felt the awful taste on his tongue.


    Snaga was warm in his hand, almost pulsing as it was feeding on the undead corpse - which was still moving to Mogrul's frustration. He brought the flail down again, shattering the undead's left shoulder, its arm now hanging limp and he repeated it with the other arm. With each hit, he felt stronger, the wounds on his face healing, as the flail's magic began doing its job. And he realised that Snaga was also draining the magic that animated the corpses, the body under his feet now finally unmoving.


    “Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck!” he heard Slitter curse and noticed him getting swarmed by half a dozen of the corpses. And Sapphire wasn't doing any better. But each time Slitter swung his sword, cutting off a limb, that limb remained still, the undead creatures hissing in pain. Silver. There's fucking silver in that bloody sword!


    The body with its head hanging limp from shreds of skin shuffled towards Mogrul, its hands raised as if it wanted to strangle him and he grunted. He spun the flail above his head, gaining momentum and then swung it in a horizontal swing, from right to left. It hit the corpse's ribcage, crushing bones and lifting the creature off its feet, sending crashing to the ground where it thrashed about, trying to get back on its feet. And Mogrul hit it again, bathing in the power that his vampiric flail was providing him.


    He watched Sapphire getting tackled to the ground, cursing and spitting, slashing and stabbing with her daggers. And Mogrul just watched. Because maybe this was the moment when he would get rid of the potential problem. Because she kept reminding him she would kill him one day. Why let her live then?


    And yet she saved him, throwing that knife to give him a fighting chance. You don't owe her anything, he was trying to persuade himself.


    “Bastards!” Slitter released a war cry, swinging his sword in a wide circle. The air suddenly crackled with energy and the sword began emitting a red light. The swing released a surge of energy that lifted all the standing corpses off their feet, sending them flying three steps through the air from Slitter. The Dunmer looked at the sword with wide eyes and then grimaced. “Oh, fuck yeah!”


    And that settled it for Mogrul.


    He ran towards Sapphire, who was on her back, kicking and spitting around, trying to keep the undead thralls and their teeth away from her. She buried her dagger into one's eye, which made it pause for a second, but then it relentlessly continued its onslaught.


    Then the Orc arrived, swinging his flail low, sweeping one of the corpses off its feet, shattering both its legs in the process. He grabbed the undead on top of Sapphire, his hand clutching its neck from behind, crushing until he felt the spine under his fingers. He pulled, lifting the corpse into the air and sent it flying behind him in a display of unnatural strength, Snaga’s strength.


    One of the thralls turned, hissing at him, and Snaga turned the head into a geyser of blood as the blow literally blew the skull and its contents into pieces. Sapphire crawled away from Mogrul, away from the flail's reach and he smirked. Smart one! Never stopped to amaze him how smart she was. Now, when she was out of the weapon's reach, Mogrul spun it and began hacking with it at the corpses. Feeding her.


    Spin the head. Crush the skull. Grab the chain. Spin. Shatter knees. And so it continued until the corpses stopped moving.


    Mogrul's breath was steady, his muscles ready to continue the bloody work, all thanks to the power of his flail. His Snaga. He looked at Sapphire who in turn stared at him, something very close to resembling fear behind her eyes after his display. He snorted and looked at Slitter, who just finished the last of the thralls with that sword of his. Idiot probably doesn't even know what kind of treasure he's wielding or how to really use it, the Orc thought and shook his head, his eyes again finding Sapphire.


    He offered her a hand, to help her back to her feet. She looked at it, at the blood and chunks of flesh hanging from it and shuddered with disgust, pushing herself up on her own. “Whoever did this,” she tried to catch her breath, her arms and legs full of scratches and bites, “wanted you to find this. The fire was meant to draw you here.”


    He nodded, agreeing with her assessment. “Yeah. They wanted me here before the spell reanimating the corpses would run out.”


    She looked at him with narrowed eyes, biting her lower lip. “Who did you piss off now?”


    Mogrul looked at the corpses around them, now finally dead and frowned. He hasn't responded, at least not out loud. Because he really had no idea who could have done this.


    Who did you piss off now? Who knows?



3 Comments   |   KaiserSoSay and 4 others like this.
  • A Shadow Under the Moons
    A Shadow Under the Moons   ·  November 26
    Excellent use of enemy corpses and misdirection by Serana. Takarro approves!
  • KaiserSoSay
    KaiserSoSay   ·  November 26
    You know, I feel like you're just trying to make every chapter with Morgrul be his last. When is it gonna really happen, huh?
    • The Lorc of Flowers
      The Lorc of Flowers
      You know, I feel like you're just trying to make every chapter with Morgrul be his last. When is it gonna really happen, huh?
        ·  November 26
      Who says he's gonna die? :D