Old Man Tyr


    16th of First Seed, 4E 210


    The continuous ringing of metal hitting metal echoed through a room with white walls made of marble, creating a deafening sound slowly reaching an unbearable cadence. A male Redguard and a female Nord were chasing each other from one end of the room to the other, their blades constantly clashing in a barely contained rhythm.


    The Redguard was almost a head shorter than the woman, his skin surprisingly light for his origin, his head covered with short cropped black hair, with his moustache braided into two thin plaits hanging alongside his lips. He was lean and sinewy, his body being the pure representation of speed which he painted with his two-handed sabre with the precision of an artist.


    His opponent was taller, bulkier, sporting a simple one handed sword paired with a large Imperial shield protecting most of her body. She was pursing her lips as she blocked another attack from the Redguard, only making her strong features more prominent. Full lips, her chin and jaws too square for a woman, but there were people who liked that. It wasn’t like she wasn’t pretty. Her were the colour of sky right before a storm, somewhere between grey and dark blue, and her mane of red hair - which she had to dye no doubt, because the roots of her hair were shining with the color of copper. Right now, her hair was tied into a ponytail which could have been the reason why her features were more prominent.


    The Redguard slashed at her side, which she covered with her shield, but the Redguard pulled the blade back in a last second, turning the cut into a stab, aiming for her abdomen. She took a quick step back, getting out of the sword’s way while she used the edge of her shield to push the blade further away. With that, she quickly moved forward, using the crossguard of her sword to catch the sabre and lock it while she shortened the distance between her and the Redguard, her intention being to ram the man with her shield.


    The Redguard pulled the sword back, spinning on his heels and the woman charged past him, but she swung the shield behind her back, which forced the Redguard to roll over his shoulder backwards before he could even strike.


    “Enough,” man’s voice barked and both the fighters looked to their right at the man who spoke. A Nord, almost as tall as the woman, with a scalp of grey-black hair tied into a thick braid lying on his shoulder. The sides of his head were shaved as well as his face, revealing dark blue tattoos above his ears, as well as silver earrings in his ear lobes. The face was ragged and wrinkled, betraying a man who could have been past fifty winters, his slow and reserved moves only supporting that. His dark brown eyes were on the fighters as he walked around them, using a simple staff as his support.


    He pointed with his staff at the Redguard. “Too slow, Jahad,” he simply stated. “Your sword is not the weapon, it is only the point of the weapon. Your entire body is the weapon, and it must move as one.” He then switched his gaze to the woman. “And you, girl. You expose yourself only when you attack—but if you do not attack, you cannot hit. Just because you are built like a siege machine doesn’t mean you have to move like one. You move like a cow trying to dance.”


    "Shouting to halt the sands' shifting only leaves you hoarse," she growled, lowering her chin almost as if she was ready to charge like a bull.


    The Nord man’s hand moved and his staff lightly knocked on her head before she could even react. “Citing the Book of Circles now? As if you’d really understand what it means. Right now, it is only you who is trying to halt the sands’ shifting, because you take what I said as an insult. Cool off. We won’t be training when you are angry. Today’s lesson is over.”


    She looked at him with narrowed eyes, her companion observing with a neutral expression, though the corners of his lips were tugging. She then curtly nodded, with her eyes still on the Nord.


    ‘Never stop talking—and I don't mean pleasant conversation over tea and crumpets! You should be jawing about their ugly mothers, and their sister's creaky bed, and their father's yellow belly. It's best if you know these folks by name. It also helps a lot if what you're saying contains a ring of truth. And it's not enough to just say it—you've got to mean it! Angry fighters make mistakes, and mistakes will make it easier for you to kill them,’ the Nord man recalled the passage from Vorgrosh Rot-Tusk’s work and made a mental note to himself to work with that the next time the young Nord woman came for a lesson.


    The fighters began drying off their sweat, changing their training clothes for normal ones in the backrooms. The Nord man then walked to the wall with racks of spears and rubbed his chin, thinking about today’s lesson.


    She is strong and definitely not slow, he made another mental note. But relies too much on the shield. Without the shield Jahad would have her in a matter of seconds. But on the other hand, as long as she has the shield Jahad isn’t capable of getting through her defense. He knew he had to focus on those things in the next lesson. While the Nord was one of those stubborn ones, it was easier to teach her something than the Redguard. The Redguard was already trained in the Way of the Sword, his technique too traditional to teach him something new. But it wasn’t completely hopeless.


    He grimaced when he felt the stinging in his back, baring his teeth as he was considering sitting down for a moment, easing the pain. But then he gritted his teeth and straightened his back even though it hurt, his pride forbidding him from going so easy on himself. If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom, he then thought, reminding himself he wasn’t young anymore.


    The woman arrived first, wearing her usual outfit which consisted of a steel cuirass over a brown leather brigandine. She put the sword and the shield back into their places and walked towards the Nord, handing him over a pouch with gold coins. He could see in her face that she was still offended by his remark, but as far as he was concerned, it was of no big importance to him.


    “Next lesson?” he asked as he took the pouch and she looked at him and then averted her gaze, waiting for her companion.


    “In two weeks. Maybe. We’re leaving the city tomorrow. Got a job at the Elsweyr border,” she shrugged.


    Elsweyr border. Too close to Dominion. Dangerously close for a mercenary job, he thought, but didn’t say anything, simply nodding. The business of his students wasn’t his business. The Redguard then showed up in his bright red clothes styled in the Ra Gada fashion, putting the sabre back into the rack with almost a sacred care.


    “Very well,” the Nord nodded. “Just let me know when you get back, Ballista. We’ll pick up where we left off.” He opened the door for her and she walked out with the Redguard behind her. She looked over her shoulder and shrugged.


    “We’ll see how that goes, Greymane.”


    With that, she disappeared into the crowd outside his house and the Nord called Greymane sighed at the people passing on the street. Is it Sundas again? he wondered. The Temple District of Imperial City wasn’t seeing much activity lately, but if the priests were having some kind of ceremony, it would explain the crowds.


    It was the city of a thousand cults after all, though not so much as of late. Not since the Great War. The High Elf assholes just had to stick their snobbish noses into everything, pushing the Imperial administration into outlawing several cults that were deemed too ‘heretical’ in their eyes, such as Reman or Cuhlecain cults which were already very small. And as far as Greymane remembered, there wasn’t anything about such cults in the Concordat, so if it was up to him, the Dominion high-muck-a-mucks could go stab themselves.


    His gaze shifted towards the Temple of One in the middle of the district, towards the perfectly smooth dome of white marble and he snorted. He still remembered the statue of Akatosh standing there, before it was destroyed when Dominion sacked the city. Maybe he was really old when he was thinking about those times which certainly seemed much easier to him. Back when a man could worship any god he wanted. May you burn on Talos’ sword for all eternity, assholes, he thought, resisting the urge to spit.


    He was about to go back inside when he noticed a group that was literally sticking out of the crowd heading in his direction. They were all towering above the other people, just as all High Elves did, which only added to their aura of arrogance.


    Four Altmer, all males. Two in the armors of Justiciar guards, one in the robes of a Justiciar and the fourth, by the looks the youngest one, wearing richly-tailored clothes of black and green. Greymane’s first impression was that he was just looking at some son of a Dominion dignitary with his personal escort. They all walked through the crowd with their hands on their weapons, almost as if showing to everyone their privilege to own such weapons.


    In Imperial City, the only ones allowed to carry weapons, that were longer than a dagger, were the guards. Everyone else was prohibited from carrying any kind of bladed or ranged weapon and would be arrested if seen with them in public. There were exceptions, of course, such as Greymane’s weapons inside his house - as long as they stayed in his house, of course. There was a reason why every weapon of his carried his mark - easier to track its origin if someone was caught with them.


    And then there were the Dominion citizens who were freed from the persecution of the law. As if having Justiciar guards stationed all over the city wasn’t enough.


    And he was right, the group was heading towards him when the dandy in front addressed Greymane even though he was still several steps away from his house. “You there, Nord! Are you the one they call Greymane?”


    The Nord clenched his jaws and leaned against his staff, pain shooting up his back. “What’s it to you, elf?”


    The dandy exchanged looks with the Justiciar and he looked down on Greymane when he finally stopped in front of him. “Are you or not?” the Justiciar barked, giving him a once over filled with their typical disdain. “We are looking for Greymane, the fencing teacher.”


    “I am. But there is no fencing being done here.”


    The dandy frowned in confusion, and Greymane could see that the Justiciar was probably the smarter one because he understood Nord’s tone much better than the fop did. The Justiciar was getting annoyed, but that was of no concern to Greymane. He could swear the Justiciar seemed familiar to him, almost as if he had seen him somewhere before. Maybe it was just his imagination, knife-ears always looked the same to him.


    “We were told that you are a renowned swordmaster willing to pass down his wisdom,” the dandy said in a manner that made Greymane’s muscles twitch - too polite. Almost respectfully. Such things didn’t typically fit the High Elves.


    “There is nothing I can teach you, knife-ears,” he murmured, doing a very poor job at hiding his irritation. “Ask Flevius Corinius or Baralhza, both run very prestigious schools.”


    The Justiciar then snapped, his face going all red under that gold: “Watch your tone, Nord! Do you have any idea who are you adress-”


    “Miramo!” the dandy raised his voice, which made the justiciar shut up. He turned to Greymane and curtly nodded. “My apologies if I have offended you somehow, Master Greymane. I understand our races have been at odds lately, but I would like to say my intention here isn’t to offend you. We have visited both the schools you mentioned, looking for the best swordmaster in Imperial City and both recommended you. I merely want to learn from the best and if it’s you, I would be honored to learn from you.”


    Greymane narrowed his eyes in suspicion because this certainly wasn’t a behavior he expected from some rich High Elf brat. He wanted to say no, but something stopped him. Maybe it would be better if he said yes. Less trouble for him. Less attention. If word spread that he didn’t accept High Elves as students, it would bode ill for him. They would probably call him a Talos worshipper and torture him to death - for he had no doubt they were enjoying such things. Talos damn politics! he cursed in his mind, sighing.


    “Very well. This time next Sundas. Find yourself a sparring partner who you consider adequate to your skill. And no escort. Understood?”


    “Understood,” the dandy smiled, even bowing little to the Nord. “Next week it is then, Master Greymane. I will look forward to it.”


    The Nord nodded as the High Elves turned around and walked away, silently thinking that the Altmer might not be as happy once he began training him. Altmer were known to be less flexible than most others, and he sincerely doubted this High Elf would be fond of Greymane’s lessons which incorporated little bit of something from everything.


    He shook his head and with a sigh walked back into his house. He thought about having a bath, put his aching back into hot water for a while, and was about to head to the basement when he heard a knock on the front door. He bared his teeth, praying to Talos it wasn’t the Thalmor knife-ears again.


    He opened the door with irritation in his face and then frowned when no one was standing there. He looked at his feet and noticed a neatly folded piece of paper on the ground, with some kind of flower protruding from one of the folds. He lifted the paper up, recognizing a nightshade petal, but it had strange color. Painted maybe? His eyes weren’t what they used to be and so he moved the petal closer to his face, recognizing that it was streaked with blood.


    A suspicious frown spread over his face and he opened the letter.


    He was greeted with a black hand print and two words written beneath it.


    ‘We know.’


    Shit. He sharply raised his head, his eyes scanning the crowd on the street. Everyone was passing around after their day to day business, no attention was focused on him. He scanned the shadows in between the houses, all the while hearing the laughter and cheering of children somewhere to his right, enjoying the comical show a jester was performing for them. Greymane scanned even the roofs, but he didn’t see anyone.


    He growled and retreated into his house, firmly locking the door behind him.


    Greymane looked at the letter again and with a primal growl tore it apart. So much for retirement.


    He thought he covered his tracks good and proper. They shouldn’t have been able to find him, he made sure of that. Of course, he had heard the stories, the rumours of Titus Mede being assassinated by the Dark Brotherhood. Deep down, he had hoped that they were just rumours, that the murderous cult hadn’t resurfaced to claim back its throne of skulls and rivers of blood. But he couldn’t deny he didn’t notice the marks of their return, of their presence. That the Night Mother had returned.


    The past is a wolf. The clever hunter keeps his eye fixed on it, while the foolish hunter looks away and is devoured, he reminded himself, baring his teeth in wicked grimace. It didn’t matter how or why in this moment, all that mattered was that it was happening.


    He headed down to the basement, his mind already calculating.


    Why send the note? Assassins very rarely tipped off their marks and he had no doubt he was their prey at this moment. They wanted him to know. It was personal, after all. Maybe even more than personal. Did they want him scared and frightened? Panicked prey often made mistakes.


    How long before they would come? Did they want him to stew over it, the impending doom coming for him? That wasn’t about to work on him. No. They were trying to flush him out.


    And he understood. This was personal. They knew their prey was a predator. They wanted him to show his teeth, to not give his skin easily.


    Now was that swagger or confidence?


    He was considering not playing by their rules. Instead, he would set up a trap for them at his house, wait for them to come to him, but even he had to admit, he couldn’t stay awake all the time.


    Talos damn your mind games! he cursed silently. They wanted him to do something. They wanted him to strike back, to go looking for them while they would be shadowing his every move.


    They had no idea who they were dealing with.


    Or maybe they knew precisely who they were dealing with.


    He reached the basement, which was divided into two rooms, the first dominated by a simple wooden bath, with the second half serving as pantry. And he headed into the pantry, pushing aside shelves with food so that he could reach the wall behind them. He knocked on the wall until he heard a hollow sound from one brick and he pulled it out with some effort.


    And there in the dark hole, it waited for him. Wrapped in thick leather, just lying there. He actually didn’t expect anything less, it was impossible to get rid of the damn thing. He began removing more bricks, because the thing was nearly a step and half long. As he removed the obstacles, he was greeted by an old leather vest, covered with dust and webs. He pulled the vest and the thing out, for a moment thinking about unwrapping the leather that covered it. He hadn’t touched that damn thing in years. No, not yet. Too soon, he shook his head and pulled his simple tunic over his head so that he could put on the leather vest. It was quilted with small steel plates for extra protection around his chest, but the stomach and back were just plain hard leather, allowing freer movement.


    Greymane looked at the tub and narrowed his eyes, considering the option of slipping into the sewers under his house, moving undetected through the city. But they would be waiting there, in the darkness, setting up a trap. And it was still light outside, so Greymane believed he had better chance of getting out of the city using the streets. They wouldn’t attack in broad daylight - at least he hoped they wouldn’t.


    He slipped back into the tunic, hiding the vest underneath and with the wrapped leather in his hand he walked up the stairs, stopping at one of the racks for a second. Without a second thought he picked up a long curved knife and slipped it behind his belt, before heading out to the street.


    Greymane quickly scanned his surroundings, the crowds passing him, focusing on the roofs,  but as far as he was aware, there was no one around that aroused suspicion. Yes, he would use the streets, but the wrapped leather was a problem. It would draw attention, especially from the law. It was better to get ahead of those things. His attention focused on a member of the Imperial Watch lazily patrolling the street and he headed towards him.


    The man was young, an Imperial most likely, with a stubble of blonde facial hair hiding in the shade of the helmet. The guardsman noticed Greymane walking towards him and his hand went automatically to his weapon.


    “Watchman,” Greymane nodded as he stopped in front of the man.


    “Yes, citizen?”


    The Nord showed him the wrapped leather and frowned. “I need an escort through the city, soldier. I have this weapon here, that doesn’t bear any mark and isn’t categorized as merchandise. It is a precious antique which I promised to show someone in Weye.”


    “You’re Greymane, right?” the guard tilted his head. “That swordsman. Yeah, you are. Other guards talked about you in the tavern the other day. Wagering if you’d beat Corinius in a duel. I know Corinius is the best out there at Akaviri and Nibenese duelling styles. What do you teach?”


    “Something of this, a little bit of that,” Greymane stared at the guardsman with a stone face. “So will you escort me, soldier?”


    “That antique. Been processed?”


    The Nord shook his head, because it was better not to lie. If it had been processed by the gate inspection, he would have papers for it.


    “Then I’ll have to see it,” the guard now said with narrowed eyes.


    Can’t avoid that, Greymane thought. Hope the fool doesn’t recognize it. He unwrapped the leather, revealing the hilt of an akaviri styled sword with dark brown leather wrapped around the handle, to hide what was hiding beneath it.


    “Damn. That a real thing? Haven’t seen a sword like that in very long time. Old Marys don’t like them for some reason,” the guard exclaimed and Greymane simple nodded, waiting for the man’s answer. The Imperial then snorted. “They can eat my arse them knife-ears. Alright, I’ll escort you, Greymane. Weye, you said? To the main gate then.”


    Greymane forced himself not to release a relieved sigh and with another nod he followed the guard.

    By the time he walked out the main gate, it was already getting dark and he breathed in that early spring air. He immediately wrinkled his nose. Smells of fish and piss. The wind must have been blowing from the west, carrying the smell from Weye towards him.




    The whole western bank of the Rumare was lit with the warm lights of lanterns, torches and candles, almost every second window glowing and chimneys spouting columns of ash as people were still bent on pushing away the cold.


    Greymane had heard that back in Third Era, Weye was nothing but an inn and few ramshackle farms, but over roughly two centuries it grew into another city, right next to Imperial City. It wasn’t as pretty though. Or clean. The main business of the city was fishing and woodworking, with lumbermills built right at the edge of the Great Forest which was slowly being cut down year by year to build more houses. Of course, over the course of time, Weye became home to various individuals such as thieves and killers, drug dealers and all kinds of gangs. Since the Empire was stretched too thin after the Great War, it lacked the resources to distribute law in the shithole that was Weye and so it was controlled by criminals, right under Imperial City’s nose.


    It was all the Dominion’s fault as far as Greymane was concerned.


    He felt someone approach, and he really felt it more than heard. He turned around with a hand on the knife and then quickly relaxed. It was just a kid, a boy in dirty clothes. But he was damn quiet, Greymane didn’t really hear him.


    “She said you’d come right outside the main gate,” the boy said, in an authoritative voice, trying to sound like grownups when they talk about important things.


    “She?” Greymane asked though he already had his suspicions.


    “She,” the boy nodded, almost as if that one word explained everything. “She says you should run as far as you can. Hammerfell or Morrowind.”


    “I’m not going to run, boy.”


    The kid shrugged. “She said you’d say that. She’s expecting you.”


    “Of course she is,” Greymane murmured and left the boy behind, heading down the slope towards the Imperial Bridge leading over lake Rumare. If she was expecting him it might be better for everyone if he didn’t keep her waiting.


    The Bridge was stretching as far as he could see and he knew that before he reached the other end by foot it would be dark already. Perfectly timed if anyone would ask him. They had it planned well.


    He narrowed his eyes and considered the option that they would attack him on the bridge. It was the perfect place. Nowhere to run, cold water under the bridge. No places to hide. And as he passed the imaginary line of the middle of the bridge, he suppressed a snort.


    Why spoil the fun before the fun even began? No, he was meant to reach Weye. It’s where the fun would really begin.

    It was just shortly past the ninth toll when an Imperial man leaning against the wall of Wawnet Inn straightened. The Inn was right at the end of Imperial Bridge, marking the edge of Weye and it was a perfect place to see people come and go to and from Imperial City. And Berio was one of those who always had a good eye for people, being able to guess where they came from with one look, which usually helped him a lot in his line of work.


    And the reason he straightened was that he just noticed his mark, the one worth a rather nice sum he could later spend at Silk’s brothel. Yes, they described him very well.


    A Nord, wearing a simple white tunic and black pants stuffed into high boots. Black-grey hair tied into a thick braid, the sides of the head shaved to reveal blue barbarian tattoos. It was difficult to guess the man’s age because the way he looked, he could have been forty tops, but the way he carried himself, leaning against the walking staff, implied that he was much older. As far as Berio could see the Nord had only one weapon and that was a long knife at his belt. He also carried something wrapped in leather in his other hand and Berio shook his head as he pushed himself away from the wall, shadowing the man now.


    Carrying something in one hand, leaning against staff with the other. The man looked dangerous alright, but Berio couldn’t believe how easy this looked. For such a large sum, he expected someone much more dangerous and intimidating than this Nord.


    The Nord pushed through a crowd of dockworkers and Berio followed, getting closer. He knew that if he got the jump on the Nord, it would be over quickly. Even if the Nord managed to register him, there wasn’t much he could do with his hands full.


    Sounded too easy.


    He was a mere two steps away from the man and he pulled out his gutting knife. Just go for his right side, cut him open like a fish.  Gut him and he’ll bleed out like one too.


    One step away and Berio readied himself for a quick stab.


    The Nord suddenly turned and something flashed before Berio’s eyes and he quickly shifted his balance, dodging and stabbing with his knife.


    Only to miss as the man simply stepped aside.


    Everything seemed so slow suddenly and Berio realized he couldn’t breathe. The world spun around him and he raised his hand to his throat, only to forget why he was doing that, because everything was drowning in the darkness now.


    And it was so welcoming.

    Greymane watched the man tremble on the ground, struggling to breathe. What an idiot, he thought, looking around. Attacking right on the main street. Thinking himself invisible. Idiot. He had seen him coming right from the moment he passed him, but he had to admit the fellow was quick, nearly dodged the stab of his staff. Nearly. The Nord’s aim had been true and the butt of the staff crushed the fellow’s wind pipe, resulting in the corpse shaking with post mortem spasms in the mud of the main road to Imperial City.


    An amateur, Greymane thought. No Brotherhood assassin, no professional. Just an amateur. And if there was an amateur going after him, it meant there was a price. Which was strange because the Brotherhood very rarely employed other killers to do their job - no, they enjoyed killing, they reveled in it. It was their love and their pride, they didn’t like to share or someone else taking credit for their work.


    Something was wrong.


    Greymane expected three to five assassins tops going after him - that’s how many he would send after himself, especially if he knew who he really was - but if they brought in hired muscle on this…


    He looked around before dragging the now dead Imperial into a dark alley, making sure no one saw anything. And apparently no one did, which was strange. Ninth toll, too early for the streets to be so empty, especially in Weye - that shithole never slept. Almost as if everyone knew something was about to happen, all the more reason to get out of the main streets and use the alleys. Get out of sight, especially if every second-class bungler was after him.


    Greymane wasn’t particulary worried, but even a bungler could get lucky.


    He looked at the fellow one more time, noticing the dark brown shirt on him and frowned. Brown was perfect for night work, blending very well with the shadows and darkness in the alleys, definitely more than Greymane’s white tunic. He quickly switched the clothes before he plunged into the back alleys.


    And as he did, a shadow lifted from the rooftop above and followed.

    He walked through the darkest alleys where no lanterns could cast away the deep shadows of the night. He stuck to the walls, blending in with the surroundings, slowly heading south-east along the wooden houses and half-crumbling shacks of clay and straw. Somewhere from the distance, he heard the bell tolls and he stopped for a second, counting. Ten. Ten tolls. He lifted his chin up, feeling the cold breeze on his face. The night is just starting.


    He increased his pace because he didn’t have all night. She was expecting him and he certainly didn’t want to disappoint her.


    Greymane took a sharp left and immediately cursed himself for losing his edge when he nearly bumped into a bulky ruffian walking down the alley. The man registered him and his eyes slightly widened, recognition flashing inside them. Yet Greymane had never met the man.


    There was only one reason the man would recognize him.


    Greymane dropped the leather bundle in his left hand and stabbed with the staff in his right, aiming for the man’s eyes. The ruffian swept the staff to the side with the back of his hand in a reflexive move and the man could only thank the gods it was just a wooden staff and not a steel blade. The ruffian took a step closer to Greymane, his right fist prepared for a mighty right hook, but before he could actually initiate the punch, Greymane stepped forward and head-butted the man who staggered. And before he could recover, the Nord already pulled out the knife from behind his belt and buried it into the middle of the ruffian’s chest. He felt it screech against a rib and he pulled it out with a growl, continuing with a swing that cut the man’s throat open.


    The hot blood sprayed all over Greymane as the man fell to the ground. He was too slow to move away from the blood’s path and he blinked few times, trying to get the sticky liquid from his eyes. He bared his teeth in an angry growl, angry at himself. He should have heard the man. He should have stepped away from the blood. If there were more with the man he would be dead already because of his stupidity.


    He picked up the leather bundle, groaning as his back released a loud cracking sound.


    A sudden pain erupted in his shoulder, an unknown force pushing through his body from behind. He fell forward on the ground, his mind slipping from the sheer agony.

    Two shadows lifted from the roof behind the man, one of them setting aside a crossbow, still feeling the kick of the weapon in her shoulder. The old bastard didn’t see it coming, not at all, especially when she used that stupidly loud crack in his back to mask her shot.


    She looked at her companion, a Redguard woman dressed all in black just as her, and narrowed her eyes at their target. He was lying on the ground, a mere shadow in a lightless alley, his right leg trembling. She could see the bolt protruding from his upper back, but it was difficult to say if she hit the heart or not - but she was aiming for it, and it wasn’t such a difficult shot.


    “I think you’ve got him,” her companion said and she flashed her perfectly white teeth in the darkness.


    “We’re going to be damn rich, Mali.”


    “Damn right we will, Rieet,” her companion nodded and they began climbing down the house, probably waking up the whole family or whatever inside. But they didn’t care. They just made a whole lot of money now, nothing else mattered.


    They walked towards the body which was now completely still. “Now what are we supposed to do?” Rieet asked her companion. “Drag the body somewhere? Take the scalp? Cut off the head?”


    “Eww,” Mali grimaced in the dark. “So barbaric. No, nothing like that. The contract said that the employer will know when the job is done. We don’t need any proof.”


    “Sounds suspicious to me,” Rieet murmured and stopped by the body, slightly shoving the Nord with her foot. “I say we take a proof. Maybe we could cut off one of them tattoos on his skin.”


    “Alright,” her companion shrugged.


    Rieet pushed against the corpse with her foot again, trying to turn it over.


    It suddenly moved and she screamed in pain as all Oblivion erupted in her heel. She fell on the floor, overwhelmed by the agony of her tendons being cut, her crossbow flying from her hands and disappearing in the darkness.


    She fell hard on her side and she could feel tears on her cheeks. She heard muffled sounds of a struggle behind her, metal screeching against metal. She started crawling towards the wall, her fingers burying into the mud and slipping as she was trying to pull herself forward. Then she realized the night was silent again, no sounds of a fight coming from behind her and she released a desperate sob.


    Footsteps behind her and more tears began pouring down her cheeks. Not like this! her mind raced. It wasn’t supposed to go like this. I’m not going to die in this alley. I’m not! Damn it, Mali!


    She felt a hand on her shoulder and it turned her on her back. She looked into the face of the Nord, covered with blood and mud, a wolf-like grimace on his face. He raised his hand, steel catching the reflection of moonlight.


    “Wait! I can give you inform-”


    The knife went down and buried inside her chest, splitting her heart in half. She widened her eyes in shock, her mind trying to comprehend what her body couldn’t.



    Greymane ripped out the knife with a snarl, groaning at the agony in his shoulder. The crossbow bolt went in in a fortunate angle, burying into his trapezius muscle and emerging right above his collarbone, barely scratching it. He reached there with his left hand, hissing when he cut himself on the bolt’s head. He broke it and tossed it away.


    He couldnť pull it out, he had nothing to stop the bleeding, so he decided the bolt had to stay in his flesh. He picked up a handful of mud and slapped it on the exit wound, then something on the entry wound.


    The Nord looked at the two Redguard women and bared his teeth. The shooter deserved something worse than a quick death by a stab to the heart, but he didn’t have time. The blood would draw the hunters. He needed to move and he crawled towards the other Redguard. Her remaining eye kept staring at him, while the knife in her other eye socket only reminded him that she wasn’t an amateur. Very few Redguards were. She was wearing a bandolier full of knives and he began unstrapping it, which wasn’t that simple when his right hand was barely responding.


    He then picked up the leather bundle and ran from the slaughter, still heading south-east.

    The Nord stepped over the body of another fool willing to throw away his life for little bit of gold. This one made Greymane sweat though, and he knew he should have expected that sooner or later someone would draw out the bane of all swordsmen. Magic.


    Damn Dunmer blazed with the very fire of his homeland, the house behind Greymane being a clear indication of that. One damn big lighthouse showing all the other hunters where their prey was. It was only by sheer luck that the Dunmer stepped into dog shit and made the mistake of shifting his disgusted attention to his foot for one second, checking what he stepped into. Greymane used that moment to throw a knife into his stomach, then shortening the distance between them. He kept stabbing the fool even though the third stab was already lethal, just letting out his frustration.


    His right hand was completely useless now, hanging limp because he wasn’t capable of lifting it up. He could still feel his fingers and wrist but anything above was just too difficult to move.


    One last gaze at the burning house behind him and then he crossed the main street, heading for a two-story wooden house. He hoped that whatever was inside the burning house got out in time, but it was all around strange that no one reacted to the fire in the middle of a town made solely from wood and straw. As if everyone knew it was safer in their houses, but from Greymane’s perspective, it seemed that if no one was about to put out that fire a whole district could burn down.


    That was hardly his concern now. He was barely standing and it was barely past the eleventh toll. He needed a respite, to get the bolt out of his body.


    And she was expecting him.


    He stopped by the door under a sign, which sported a painted sword of Imperial design, but with a golden blade. The Golden Blade tavern. The name was so ironic he couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief, roughly squeezing the leather bundle in his left hand. With a sigh he opened the door and walked inside.


    He entered a wide room with a low ceiling, full of simple round tables with chairs around them. Directly opposite him was a fireplace, blazing with the warm glows of orange and yellows. People say that watching a fire dance is mesmerizing and calming, calming one’s mind, but in Greymane’s opinion, those who were saying that had never faced an attempt on their life by a Dunmer firemage.


    The tavern seemed pretty much empty except for two enormous Orcs sitting in the middle of the room, their hands locked in the competition of strength. Greymane never saw such big Orcs in his life and that was certainly something. And the only thing that could compete with their size was their ugliness. Those two looked as if their life was one big bet who could lose more facial parts and still live. Missing ears, lips split open, a nose that looked as if it was chewed off, an empty eye socket.


    Beside them was a Khajiit bard sitting in the corner, tuning his instrument, and a black-haired woman with long legs sitting close to the fireplace. And an old woman by the counter to his left. Otherwise, the place was completely empty, which was a good thing in a way.


    The moment he walked in everyone looked at him. Covered in mud and blood, the shaft of a crossbow bolt protruding from his shoulder, smelling of burned flesh and death. Yet they just stared, not inclined to comment it in any way and he forced himself not to shake his head. Mercenaries, he thought as he headed towards the counter.


    The old Imperial woman watched him sit down with her deep green eyes. Weathered by age her face was covered with deep wrinkles, her grey hair tied into a tight ponytail. Her hands looked like the talons of a crow, covered with liver spots that contrasted with her pale, thin, parchment like skin. But her eyes...her eyes were bright and full of life, not clouded by her age. And she was much much older than he was.


    “Tyr,” she said, grimacing with displeasure. “Or what name are you using now? Greymane? I liked Tyr more.”


    “And I always liked Thrattia more than Nightshiver,” he murmured, leaning against the counter, watching the woman.


    “You are an idiot, Tyr,” she hissed. “When they set up a trap in Weye you don’t walk into it!” Thrattia knocked on the side of her head. “Idiocy. You were always way too direct for your own good.”


    “It’s the Brotherhood.”


    “I know!” she growled in frustration. “Of course it’s the damn Brotherhood!”


    He only grunted at that. Of course he expected she would know. There weren’t that many in Tamriel with her type of experience and memories. Of course, Thrattia would know. Nightshiver. People used to scare their children with that name.


    He reached into his pocket with his left hand, snarling as he had to turn to reach there, and pulled out the Nightshade petal soaked with blood. He tossed it on the counter and pointed at it. “Whose blood is it?”


    She gave him a cold stare, her chin raised in a challenge. “They don’t forget, you fool. Did you really think they wouldn’t come after you?” She leaned closer, her green eyes burning with intensity. “You brought them to their knees, but you didn’t finish the job! As long as one remains, as long as that damn corpse keeps rotting, they will always crawl out of the shadows!”


    Tyr only bared his teeth, not needing a reminder that he didn’t see the job through back then. But it was chaos and they slipped from between his fingers, his cover blown. But they have been effectively decimated, with only a few remaining cells which lost their effectiveness when the connection to their matron was severed. He pointed at the nightshade again, raising his eyebrows. “Whose blood is it?” he repeated his question, completely ignoring her snarky accusations and ill omens.


    “Have you drawn it out already?” she pointed at the leather bundle he put on the counter, still avoiding his question. “No, you haven’t. I would have a nosebleed already if you did. Waiting for the right moment?”


    “Whose blood is it?” Tyr growled in a dangerously low voice, his patience running thin.


    He then felt the tip of a dagger on his back, but he forced himself to not twitch and remain calm, apathetic even. Tyr slowly turned his head and looked over his shoulder at the young Imperial woman, into her dark brown eyes. She was quiet, he had to give her that.


    “What are you doing, Selence?” Thrattia asked and the young Imperial smirked.


    “There’s a price on this one. Quite a sum. I’m of a mind that Ballista will have to find herself a new teacher,” she replied, her voice a straight definition of confidence.


    “Put that shiv down before he cuts off your hand!” Thrattia barked at her and Selence’s gaze shifted at the old woman, her eyes narrowing. “Nobody’s knifing anybody here, so sit your ass down, girl!”


    The tip of the dagger disappeared, but Tyr still watched her as she frowned and wrinkled her nose. “You’re just an innkeeper here, Thrattia. We own this tavern. Me and my sister. Merotim Blades. Remember that.”


    “As far as I know, the tavern is owned by Ballista, not you,” Thrattia snorted. “You just remember I’m trying to keep you alive here. Now go to your corner while the grown ups talk, girl.”


    Selence snorted at that, walking back to her table, putting those long legs to good use. Greymane convinced himself it would be better if he didn’t shake his head. Merotim Blades. Saying it as if they were something special. Just another group of swords for hire.


    “You have any idea how tiresome this gets after so many years?” Thrattia murmured and Tyr brought his attention back to the old woman. “You just keep saying it to them, but they won’t listen. Bunch of kids,” she snorted. She then narrowed her eyes at Tyr, at the bolt in his shoulder. “You’re not so different though. An old idiot, that’s what you are.” She then slowly walked around the counter, moving almost like an old crab, rocking from one side to another. She noticed his gaze and bared her teeth. “Live as long as me and you’ll walk like a pregnant cow too. Now let’s see to this wound of yours.”


    Tyr turned around on the stool and leaned forward so that she could examine his shoulder. He certainly didn’t expect such care, but he wasn’t about to say no to it either. He wasn’t young anymore, as Thrattia pointed out several times during this conversation. Slow. Not really old, but slow. You should have seen that bolt coming, but be honest. The shooter timed it well with that damn crack in your back.


    “I’ll pull that bolt out,” the old woman said, grasping his shoulder with a strength one would not expect from someone seemingly so fragile. “On three alright?”


    Tyr frowned. She was constantly avoiding his question, now trying to distract him with this unexpected care.




    “Whose bloo-”


    “Two,” she gritted her teeth and ripped out the bolt. Greymane’s eyes went wide in shock and he released a muffled scream through his tightly clenched teeth. The pain was overwhelming, but Thrattia’s hands began glowing with warm gold light and the pain was quickly subsiding.


    She shook her head closely followed by a chuckle. “Works every time. Learned that as a cutter during Great War you know.”


    Tyr felt a cold sweat on his forehead, weakness spreading through his body as his muscles were forced to relax by the old woman’s healing magicks. She was numbing the pain and he had a suspicion she was trying to put him to sleep. Or maybe not, it was very difficult to say when he had some knowledge about magic but wasn’t a practitioner himself. Theory was a long way from practice.


    “Whose blood is it?” he gritted the question through his teeth, focusing on keeping his eyes open even though a one wave of calm followed by another wave were rolling over his mind.


    “Stubborn fool,” Thrattia murmured and reached for the petal on the counter, taking it in her hand while still working her healing magick on him. She rubbed the petal between her forefinger and thumb, closing her eye as a green-black glow enveloped the petal. “A Breton,” she said after a while. “Living in southern Weye, at the edge of Flea’s End. People called him Nekov-”

    It wasn’t fair.


    Tra la la.


    Everything was just plain wrong. Why didn’t he want to play by the rules? They left him with the clues, and it was meant to be a gloriously funny night as everyone would chase him straight to the destination that had been already set.


    Tra la lee.


    But nooo, he did the complete opposite of what he was supposed to do. Went into a damn tavern! Before that he of course set a damn house on fire and now people were in the streets, putting it out. Even a few of the hunters were helping and they weren’t supposed to be helping!


    Da da dum dum.


    They were supposed to be chasing him!


    Dee dee.


    And he was sitting in a tavern, drinking and the hunters thought they had him cornered, but instead of actually going after him they waited. And while they waited they ran into other hunters and now they were killing each other instead of killing him!


    Tu dum dum tu.


    Prepostrous! Furiously infuriating!


    Ho ho ho.


    Mother wouldn’t be happy, that was clear.


    Hee hee hee


    It was hysterical!


    Break that lute across my kneeeee.


    It was too much. Too much waiting and it was time to end the waiting.


    Can’t have him fleeee.


    It was time to do some pushing, set the game back onto its right course.


    Have him meet the devoted devotee.




    Before Thrattia could finish the sentence, the door to the Golden Blade opened and Tyr could hear this strange clinking, the sound being vaguely familiar. Almost like the tinkling of small bells or...jingle bells.


    “You cheat!” the person who just entered shrieked in high, hysterical voice. “You cheat, you...you...cheat!”


    Tyr narrowed his eyes, because the voice was accompanied by the clinking and when the person came into the light it became all clear. A jester. A damn jester!


    “I left you clues, mother knows I did, but you cheat!” the jester continued in his highly hysterical manner, waving his arms frantically. “Not fair! Not fair! Poor Cicero, poor Cicero. Unappreciated, misunderstood, ignored! Horror!”


    It was the jester he had seen in front of his house. “Clues?” Tyr growled and his eyes scanned the man standing by the door. An Imperial. Somewhere between forty and fifty. Pale skin complexion. Feverish eyes. Dressed in black and orange velvet clothing with jingle bells on the ends of his ridiculous hat and the tips of his boots.


    “Yes! Yes! The letter!” the jester nodded cheerfully, the sudden change of his mood being more than just disturbing. “‘We know.’ That was the clue, you old senile Nord!” he now said with dangerously low growl, only to flash a disturbing grin. “It was an anagram. The answer being ‘Nekov’.”


    Tyr exchanged looks with Thrattia, who frowned in confusion and bewilderment. He saw that she was about to say that ‘We know’ was no damn anagram for ‘Nekov’, the old woman almost ready to explain to the crazy jester what an anagram was. Tyr also glanced at the patrons of the tavern, taking his time to answer, which seemed to only infuriate the jester.


    He could see Selence sitting in her corner, only her long legs resting on the table being in the light, but he would swear he could hear a silent click, the one usually heard when a bolt was loaded into a crossbow. The two Orcs were now staring at the jester, blinking in confusion, and the Khajiit bard kept tuning his instrument.


    “Silence? Silence!” the jester then shrieked, making everyone twitch. “Deafening silence! Cicero hates silence!”


    “What do you want, jester?” Thrattia bared her teeth and it was as if a cold air blew through the tavern. Tyr breathed out and he could see his own breath condense as it left his mouth. He could even feel the cold travelling down his spine.


    “What does Cicero want?” the mad Brotherhood assassin asked. He frowned and bared his teeth, leaning closer as if he was about to whisper. “Vengeance! Hihihihi!” he erupted in hysterical laughter, his feet shuffling on the floor in something very similar to a happy dance. “Revenge, Cicero wants. Justice he needs. Mother demands.” He then stopped his dance and pointed with his finger at Tyr. “She remembers you. You nearly destroyed our dear mother! Traitor! Fraud! Liar! And I prayed, oh how I prayed, but there was only silence. But Cicero remained faithful and hopeful. I didn’t get even a thank you for all that carrying and travelling and running and balming. No thank you! But then she answered and whispered. To Listener’s ear. Mother finally broke the silence and Cicero could rejoice!”


    Tyr stood up from the stool he was sitting on, taking the leather bundle from the counter, straightening his back and baring his teeth. He understood now. This fool was the Keeper of Night Mother. He became that after what happened in Bravil. And for some reason, this was personal for the jester, but why? The silence? Oh, yes. The silence. Years and years of silence from Night Mother and who was to blame for that?


    The one who nearly destroyed both Night Mother and Dark Brotherhood. The one who did it from the inside.


    And yet Tyr said nothing, keeping his facade of silence. Because silence was precisely what drove the jester mad.


    The temperature in the room dropped even more, the windows and glasses being slowly covered by rime, and Greymane didn’t have to look back at Thrattia to see her fingers subtly moving. Only a little bit longer.


    He took a step closer to Cicero and tilted his head, saying nothing.


    The jester clenched his hands into fists, putting one of them into his mouth and biting, in a gesture full of frustration and anger. “No more silence! It’s driving me crazy! Hahahaha. No more silence!”


    The cold then dropped so low that the fire in the hearth died out and dark shadows took over the tavern.


    The jester jumped forward, a nasty dagger in his hand.


    A click of a crossbow and the hissing of a bolt through the air.


    Thrattia raising her hand, frost accumilating around her.


    The two Orcs getting up from their chairs.


    Tyr moving to meet the jester.


    Cicero made a sudden pirouette in the air, the bolt flying past him and he threw the dagger in Thrattia’s direction.


    Then the jester and the Nord clashed.


    He felt something sharp cut his face, but he also felt his knife bury into something soft.


    Thrattia shouted and Tyr could hear a shattering of metal and then the room took a breath, everything becoming still for a second and then black ice covered the floor, heading for the Jester.


    Cicero released a maniacal laugh and grabbed Tyr’s hand. And winked.


    The world spun around and as Tyr blinked he landed on a pile of crates, along with Cicero. The wood shattered under their weight and then he felt himself hit the ground hard.  


    The Nord groaned as something protruded from his side and he looked at the pommel of an ebony dagger. The jester chuckled nearby to him, interrupted by a bubbling and coughing sound.


    This wasn’t the tavern anymore. Everything was lit with one torch, the walls around being made of stone, the ceiling of wood. It looked almost like a cellar. Tyr lifted his head slightly and noticed a dead body in the middle of the room, most likely a Breton, his throat slit. His body covered with nightshade petals. Most likely Nekov.


    “Oooo, that was close, too close. Damn witch!” Cicero chuckled and Greymane forced himself to sit, groaning as the dagger turned in the wound. It didn’t seem to hit any organs, mostly just muscles, but it still hurt as all Oblivion. At least the jester ended up worse than him.


    Tyr’s knife was buried directly in the middle of the jester’s stomach, and the Nord could only imagine the agony Cicero was just going through, the acids of his stomach now pouring into his insides. He would be dying for hours if he didn’t find a very good healer. And that was fine by Tyr.


    “Oh, Mother, how it tickles,” Cicero groaned, followed by a chuckle, his eyes finding Tyr. “Oh. You are still alive. Why are you still alive?! Not fair, not fair!”


    Greymane looked around, looking for the leather bundle he lost in the fall and it was there, lying few steps away from him, among the crates. He crawled towards it and grabbed it, slowly getting up, taking his eyes from the jester for a second.


    A mistake.


    He almost didn’t hear him, the damn jingle bells now completely silent, but he heard the metal slicing through the air. He twisted, the blade scratching ribs and then he turned around, blocking another cut with his forearm, earning himself another nasty cut. He hissed and entered the opening in between Cicero’s cuts and hit him with his elbow, snapping his head to the side.


    The jester groaned, but he accepted the blow, absorbing the momentum and used it to spin on his heel, stabbing. It was just now that Tyr noticed Cicero was using the knife he buried into his stomach. As the jester spinned around, he stabbed in a crouch, but Tyr had seen that move from the Brotherhood too many times.


    He hit Cicero’s wrist with the leather bundle, redirecting the stab and moved forward, kicking with his knee. But the dagger in his side twisted again and he hissed in pain, missing Cicero’s head, which the jester used to break away, rolling over his shoulder backwards.


    Tyr was about to pursue, when his head spun and he missed a step, losing balance. He had to lean against the crates to his left, his sight going blurry.


    “Hihihihihi. Dizzy dizzy dizzy. Are we dying now, liar? Burning like a fire. With a fever, like a roasted skeever. Hihihihi.”


    Poison, Tyr realized, looking at the hilt of ebony dagger in his side. His whole body was now in agony, as if his blood was turning into acid, his nerves screaming in pain. One mistake after another.


    He had no other choice now.


    He unrolled the leather bundle, revealing a long sword of akaviri design, the sheath and the hilt covered in leather straps, hiding the true design. And he took a hold of the hilt.


    His sight turned red, and his blood was set on fire. Fire was burning through his veins now, burning the poison, burning in his mind. Raging. Crying for an escape, wanting to be unleashed. Liquid flames were now his blood, pumping through his body and filling his muscles.


    And he unsheathed the golden blade, tongues of flames flickering on the metal for a second. His other hand reached for the hilt of the dagger buried in his side and he ripped it out. No pain, no agony, only the red mist clouding his mind, the fire surging through his body cauterizing the wound.


    “Oooooo, nice sword. So shiny, so gold. Are you going to brand me now?” the jester imitated horror now, exchanged with a roar of laughter followed by coughing and groaning. “Oof, that hurts. But do you see what I did there? Brand? Hihihihi.”


    But Tyr wasn’t listening anymore, the fire now demanding to be unleashed on anyone in proximity. And in this case it was the jester. He took a first step, raising his hand with the sword, prepared to strike. To end this in as bloody a way as possible. All the bottled emotions needed to be released, given freedom to rain Oblivion on those who stood in his way. He needed them to feel pain. To die. He wanted that. Desired that.


    And he brought the sword down.


    Only for something to rip the sword out of his hands, which made him lose his balance. The jester took advantage of that and Tyr could feel the hilt of a knife landing in between his eyes, sending him to the floor.


    “No, not yet, assassin,” he heard a voice with a strong accent, full of arrogance. A familiar voice.


    He opened his eyes and saw Cicero dragging him to the wall, making him sit against it. He then turned his head to look behind Cicero, towards the stairs leading out of the basement and he could see an Altmer standing there, dressed in simple black clothes, holding Tyr’s sword. The Altmer’s eyes were fascinated by the gold blade, tiny flames dancing in those eyes.


    The Justiciar, Tyr realized. It was the one who accompanied the dandy.


    “Cicero did his part, oh bright lord, even though I am still dizzy from that scroll of Recall,” the jester groaned, bending in his waist, holding his belly. “But the traitor killed me! Oh sorrow, mother. He killed poor Cicero! I want revenge for that too, I want to kill him in return!”


    “Oh, yes. So sad,” the Altmer said lazily. “Just try to stay alive for a little while longer. Then the Nord is all yours.” He walked towards Tyr, the golden blade pointing at the Nord. “So now we can finally meet without the masks, Blade.”


    Blade. All Blades are dead. Or in hiding. There are no Blades anymore, Tyr thought, not willing to give the Elf the satisfaction of making him talk. No, silence was a powerful weapon, capable of making others talk just to break it, make them uncomfortable. He kept a neutral face, just staring at the Altmer. There was something about him he didn’t notice before, a certain...familiarity. The features and the stance. He swore he had seen that somewhere already.


    The Justiciar narrowed his lips into a thin line of disapproval. “Nothing to say? No prayer to your false god?”


    “Infuriating!” Cicero shrieked. “Silence is so infuriating!”


    “Come now, Nord,” the Altmer - Miramo was his name as Tyr just recalled - continued, leaning closer to Tyr, still pointing with the gold blade at his throat. Greymane had to admire the Altmer’s calm, especially when he was wielding the blade, but he had to admit there was a certain light in the Altmer’s eyes. The light of madness, because madness doesn’t hide in the shadows. “Give me at least some satisfaction and speak. Mutter those useless words.”




    “Speak!” the Altmer shouted into his face, the gold blade bursting with flames for a second, that red mist clouding the Justiciar’s eyes. But then it was gone.


    Cicero clapped and giggled like a little Breton girl that just got a new doll, before his features twisted in pain and he hissed, bending at his waist, covering the wound in his stomach with his hand.


    The Altmer sighed, trying to figure out the right words to use, the Nord’s silence clearly unsettling him. It was obvious he was expecting some kind of dialogue, which seemed strange because High Elves were more about monologues. “I’ve been hearing whispers for decades now, you know,” Miramo murmured, his eyes narrowing. “Seeing images. The White-Gold Tower. My father. A man in golden armor, wielding a golden blade. Doesn’t that sound familiar, Blade?”


    Red Ring. Tyr forced himself to reveal nothing, masking it behind a twitch of his muscles as he tried to find a more comfortable position, the cauterized wound in his side sending a wave of agony into his body. Father. The resemblance.


    “I’ve always believed that it was as they say, that it was the Emperor who killed my father. But when these assassins,” he pointed at Cicero, “ended Mede’s life the whispers didn’t stop. And they kept tugging and tugging.”


    It was now making sense to Tyr.




    “Lord Boethia pointed me towards you, Blade. Towards this sword,” he raised the weapon in his hand, mesmerized by it for a moment. He blinked several times and then looked back at Tyr. “I had my reservations when Cicero put that bounty on your head, but the assassins slowed you down, weakened you. This is what Lord Boethia wants of me. I am here to kill you, Blade. For your crimes.”


    Tyr bared his teeth and apparently that pleased Miramo, a grin appearing on the Altmer’s face. The Nord began clawing to his feet, leaning heavily against the wall as he did so, and the Justiciar’s grin widened further.


    Naarifin and the Thalmor. Cicero and the Dark Brotherhood. Boethia. The past resurfaced to stab him in the back and he had no doubt Boethia was behind all that. There was some kind of plan, there had to be.


    He once threw the sword into the sea. An hour later he found it back in his hand without even noticing it at first.


    He once buried it ten steps deep underground, in an enchanted lockbox. It was back as soon as he left the graveyard.


    He once sold it to a killer. The sword was back the next day, the killer ending up dead.


    There was a plan. And the Altmer had really no idea what his purpose was in all this. Tyr himself didn’t know what Boethia wanted of him, why the sword always returned to him, but he knew what was the Altmer’s purpose here.


    “It was only luck that the Dark Brotherhood was after you too,” Miramo continued, staring down at Tyr, even though he was already standing. Damn High Elves. “And the jester had your description. Which is why I used my oblivious friend to visit you, to confirm it really was you. And here we are. Just as Boethia wanted it.”


    The Altmer had no clue what Boethia really wanted.


    “Can I kill him now?” Cicero stepped into the Altmer’s monologue with his completely out of place glee. “Please, please, please! I’m literally dying to kill him! Hahahaha!


    Tyr cleared his throat, grimacing like a wolf ready to pounce. “You have no idea what Boethia wants,” the Nord growled towards the Justiciar, finally speaking after so long. He then looked at both shadows of the past standing in front of him, baring his teeth. “You are here to die.”


    “The Nords finally speaks!” the Altmer laughed out loud, quite pleased with himself apparently. “Very chilly, if I may say-” it was halfway through this sentence the Altmer realized that the gold sword was gone from his hand, and he blinked in confusion.


    That expression stayed on his face even when Tyr felt the heat and fury emanating from the sword in his hand, immediately giving in to it. The pain and the weakness, all was gone. Only fire remained.


    He stepped forward and to the side, running the blade over the Altmer’s belly, which put the Justiciar between him and Cicero. Tyr’s sense of smell was overwhelmed by the stench of burning flesh, the sound of sizzling filling the cellar. The jester released a furious shriek and pushed the High Elf aside, avoiding the guts now spilling onto the floor.


    The jester darted forward with the knife, aiming for Tyr’s midsection, but if Greymane had any doubts about the jester’s madness, this made them vanish. Charging with only a knife against someone who had considerably longer reach...madness.


    Before the knife could get anywhere close to Tyr, the gold blade went down, cleanly separating the hand from the forearm. Cicero’s face twisted in a grimace of agony and maniacal laughter, but before he could make any sound Greymane swung the blade in a horizontal cut, cutting off Cicero’s lower jaw. Blood sprayed over the wall as the jester fell on the floor, gurgling on his own blood.


    And yet he still kept laughing. Tyr watched him, drops of blood hissing and sizzling on the gold blade. Cicero’s gaze was burying into Tyr’s, drowning in the moment of death when a man has no other option but to relay all his hatred and denial to his killer with nothing but his eyes. And then the light in his eyes dimmed only to vanish completely, the body becoming still.  


    Greymane looked at the Altmer who was lying on his side, sobbing and trembling, trying to stuff his insides back into his body as if that alone could save his life - it was almost like watching a spider trying to spin his web with a desperate need, even though the wind was tearing it to shreds.


    The Justiciar looked up for a moment, looking at Tyr, releasing another desperate sob. “Please,” he groaned, raising his hand as if he wanted the Nord to grab it and hold it, like a caring mother. “Boethia-”


    Tyr ran the sword through his eye-socket, smoke rising into the air, putting him out of his misery. Which was more than the damn knife-ear deserved, but Tyr was done with leaving loose ends.


    And the night wasn’t over yet, there were still fools trying to get money for his head. Their employer was dead, but they didn’t know that, they were never hired personally. It was a bounty, and unless someone retracted the contract.


    And no one could do that now.


    The fire in his blood burned all the more stronger.


    There would be blood.

    An Altmer in fancy clothes walked down the street of the Temple District, the sun warmly shining behind his back as he was avoiding the people passing by. He threw a glance over his shoulder, measuring the smaller figure walking behind him. An Imperial man with a hood pulled low to cover his face, his back far from straight.


    “Why couldn’t we bring an escort, Taliandial?” the Imperial asked with a frightful voice and the Altmer sighed. This was probably the first time his friend had left the Imperial Palace without at least a dozen of guards following his every step.


    “As I said before, your new tutor insisted.”


    “Maybe it’s a trap. What if he’s an assassin? Or...” the Imperial stopped for a second, loudly gulping. “Or even Dark Brotherhood?” he peeped.


    “Don’t worry, he’s no such thing,” Taliandial dismissed it, though there was nothing definite about that. The Altmer did his research, going through the records of Cencus and Excise and there was nothing fishy about the tutor, but that people always had secrets, and some were better at hiding them than others.


    It has been a strange week in Imperial City, especially for him. One day, his friend Miramo just disappeared and the Thalmor Embassy even requested a full search party to look for the Justiciar.


    It was the same night the violence erupted in Weye. Dozens of dead bodies all over the town, several houses burned down, and no one knew a damn thing. It was all too strange for Taliandial’s liking.


    He stopped in front of their destination and knocked on the door. There was no reply, but Taliandial patiently waited, not wanting to be rude. When a whole minute passed and his friend became all the more nervous he knocked again. The door abruptly opened, the Nord with fierce eyes standing on the threshold, a grimace on his face.


    The man looked tired and old, maybe even little bit pale, but his eyes burned with the same intensity. He inspected the Altmer and then the smaller figure behind him. “What do you want?”


    Taliandial cleared his throat. “Master Greymane, a pleasure. It’s Sundas. You said I should come on Sundas with my sparring partner.”


    The man’s lips curled, revealing white teeth in a wolfish grimace and then he just grunted, stepping aside so they could enter. Taliandial walked in first and then his friend, Greymane closing the door behind them.


    “I expected you’d bring another Altmer as your sparring partner,” the Nord murmured.


    “Is that so?” Taliandial raised his eyebrows. This was the moment and he was going to enjoy it. Only this would prove what this Greymane was made of, and Taliandial hoped he wouldn’t disappoint. “Well, I wasn’t completely honest with you before, Master Greymane. I’m not so much interested in the training, it’s me who is here as a sparring partner. I wanted the best teacher for my friend.”


    The Imperial pulled back his hood, revealing a pale thin face with blue eyes and black hair. He was young, not a single wrinkle on his face or even any trace of facial hair. His eyes were shy and fidgety, revealing a nervousness.


    “Master Greymane. May I introduce you to my friend, Emperor Attrebus Mede the Third?”



7 Comments   |   A-Pocky-Hah! and 11 others like this.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  July 1, 2018
    Oh sorry... different Greymane....   
    Cicero never gets old
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  February 11, 2018
    Vibrantly visceral throughout, didn't disappoint as it was a bloodbath of a read. The action was short, sharp, and exciting to the point where I was walking the streets of Weye with Tyr, the shadows hiding any and all potential threats. I enjoyed the spar...  more
  • The Sunflower Manual
    The Sunflower Manual   ·  February 1, 2018
    Hehehehe, I'm sure the Old Maries don't like Akaviri blades for very good reasons. Wonder how the new Emperor's training will go. He's certainly found himself under a good instructor. An interesting take on Goldbrand; having it never leave Tyr's side. And...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  January 29, 2018
    Had the pleasure of editing this tale, Karver, and it is nice to see this up. I am fond of Tyr and your take on the events of ES: Legends. We have plans for this. :D. I particularly enjoyed the description of Goldbrand. With your story, it becomes a weapo...  more
  • Caladran
    Caladran   ·  January 29, 2018
    A great story! :) Nothing's more annoying or infuriating when someone stops your attack, esp. when one is a Justiciar.
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  January 29, 2018
    Glad someone decided to put in the lore added by Elder Scrolls: Legends. Man, did that game bring some closure to some questions during the Great War.  Tyr, well that's a familiar name I've heard somewhere before. 

    By the wa...  more
    • Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Glad someone decided to put in the lore added by Elder Scrolls: Legends. Man, did that game bring some closure to some questions during the Great War.  Tyr, well that's a familiar name I've heard somewhere before. 

      By the way, I think it shou...  more
        ·  January 29, 2018
      Yes, I throughly enjoyed the closure of Legends and yes, Tyr should be familiar. I decided to give Legends slightly different spin with Tyr. :)

      Hmm. I think it´s just a preferance. It´s pretty much like using either "45" or "forty-five" in wr...  more