Merotim Blades - Silk and Cashmere, Part 2

  • 12th of Hearthfire, 4E 209



    Well, it might be better if this one just skips ahead a bit, he is not entirely proud of how this one let the guards beat him for being at the wrong place in the wrong time. Or maybe at the right place in the wrong time?


    It does not matter, no? Point is Maz and Ballista got arrested and thrown into Bastion.


    The charges? Well. Trespassing, possible burglary and murder, also assault and actual bodily harm, and illegal possession of a weapon. Oh, and disturbing the peace. That is surely the most grievous one. At least we got our wounds treated, though Maz mostly suffered only a wounded pride. But Ballista needed a bit of Restoration magic spared her by the jailors.


    So we spent the night in jail, which is not exactly anything new to us. We do end up there from time to time, since the trouble always seems to find us. But jail is always better than the Whispers. This one shudders just at the thought.


    It is not an apt name, not at all, because sometimes you can hear the screams coming from there, always finding their way through the cracks of the Imperial prison.


    Whispers. The College of Whispers.


    The Bastion is like a darker reflection of the Synod University, or even the Imperial City itself, standing separated from the City by a bridge. The walls create a circle around the center and when you enter this district the Bastion tower is right in front of you, towering above you, serving as barracks for the Imperial Watch. Now underneath it is a vast underground complex which is divided into two halves. One is a prison which belongs to the Watch and the other half to the College, which is why it is called the Whispers. Now the Whispers are a prison too, but a very special kind of prison. That kind that no one leaves alive.


    The Whispers are for the worst of the worst criminals, who are, as their punishment, handed over to College to be… Ugh, experimented on to further the magickal study of the College. A cruel fate indeed.


    To offer some background, after the Mages Guild had been dissolved the magickal study in Cyrodiil was divided into two factions sanctioned by Empire, both competing for the Emperor's approval. The first is the Synod, which is in a way a spiritual successor of the Mages Guild, with the exception of disapproving of the open policy the Guild was known for. The study and research of magic should not be open to everyone, that is what the Synod says. Since it is a considered a spiritual successor of the Guild it has taken residence in the Arcane University, many of the former members of Mages Guild simply switching their allegiance, only easing off the transfer of power. Some did not agree of course, not comfortable with swearing an allegiance to the new Empire's regime and went their own separate and lonely ways.


    The second faction is College of Whispers. Just as the Synod was formed off the Mages Guild the College was formed by many former Guild members who were banished for practicing necromancy in the late Third Era. Yes, necromancy. The College legalized necromancy and specializes in it along with conjuration. Imperials are crazy, but one cannot deny that by legalizing necromancy the Empire has gained a certain amount of control over it.


    Since the Arcane University had already been seized by the competition, the College has moved to the Bastion - which as this one said before is in a way a perfect reflection of Arcane University in the terms of layout - and started using the buildings in the walls around the tower as their place of study. Over time they came to cooperate closely with the Imperial Watch in the pacification of unwanted magic users in Cyrodiil, such as witches, Daedric cultists, unsanctioned conjurers and necromancers, and often even tasked to pursue extremely vicious and twisted criminals such as serial killers and mass murderers. For this reason a division has been created, consisting purely of College's graduates, to walk the thin line between the Imperial Watch and College of Whispers. This one suspects it was a way how to gain the favor of Empire, though the name certainly does not do it any favors. Reapers...


    In the old days there was a division called the Shadow Legion, which were battlemages trained in the Battlespire for the purposes of providing magickal support to the Imperial troops. After the destruction of the Battlespire it became the Mages Guild's task to train these battlemages, and after its dissolvement it was taken over by Synod. So the Synod still provides Empire with battlemages. But it is the College of Whispers that provides their Reapers strictly to the Imperial Watch to deal with Cyrodiil's internal problems.


    So this one is glad we did not end up in the Whispers.


    The guards threw us into a holding cell, which is mostly a regular cell, with only a small window and the iron bars serving as the door. It is maybe three steps wide and four steps long, nothing but grey stone all around with benches carved into it, all lit by the torches in the hall and the light of the moons shining through the small window. We share this cell with several other so called criminals - frankly, most of them are drunks from the look of it, it is Fredas after all. Now we are quite lucky we did not get thrown into the same holding cell as those three thugs we had the 'argument' with - namely the female Khajiit. Maz would not want to share a cell with her.


    “How’d you do it, Maz?” Ballista suddenly speaks and this one looks at her. The guards treated her wounds and gave her a new linen shirt, because her white shirt has been irretrievably ruined. Same could be said for this one's doublet, which is still covered with blood and the guards seem not to care about that at all. How can they care about Ballista's white shirt but not about Mazubar-do's expensive doublet?


    “How did Maz do what?”


    She grimaces. “You know. Making the Imperial talk.”


    “This one can be very charming.”


    “Not that charming. It was magic, right?”


    “Maz can be magickally charming,” this one shrugs.


    At this point she just snorts.


    Why does this one keep lying? Maz wonders - prison can do that to you. Why does this one keep lying even to his friends about himself?

    The truth is that it is all Mazubar-do knows is that it is a habit of his, a bad habit maybe, but something he has learned a very long time ago.


    This one will tell you a secret now.


    A true entertainer never truly reveals too much about himself. Everyone can flash around their skills with weapons or their magickal talents and brag about them, but a true master keeps them to himself, saving them for the right moment. Saving them for a surprising reveal. A true entertainer hides what he can do and misdirects with other things, misdirects even his friends. Because is not a friend’s surprise, the whole picture of their eyes wide in shock and their mouth hanging open, worth more than a surprise of a stranger?


    Mazubar-do knows many things, has many skills, but reveals only few. He is waiting for the right moment, because impressing a friend is something we all desire. And Maz shall play his role, make them doubt him, only to shock them in the end.


    This one looks around, looking for something to pass his time with. Or someone. But frankly there is no one really interesting. A few drunks that cause trouble, one Breton who apparently tried to mug someone on the street, one Argonian burglar and two beggars.


    “You know what?” Ballista continues after a moment of silence. “You don't have to tell me. We all have secrets, but unlike you, I'm not going to pry into yours.”


    Maz's ears tilt backwards a bit and this one narrows his eyes. Maz says nothing and neither does she.


    There is an undercurrent in that remark, that is clear. A reference to this one’s desire to pry other people’s stories, but never revealing anything about himself - at least nothing important, beside the obvious.


    What right she has to say such thing to Maz?


    Well, every right apparently. The Merotim Blades, we trust each other with our lives. We are companions and maybe even friends. Trust should go both ways should it not? And Ballista was right in one thing. They do not pry Mazubar-do’s secrets, they respect his privacy. Is it too much to ask the same of this one, to respect their privacy in return?


    And yet, this one cannot help himself. Stories are what keeps Maz going, what make him feel alive. Not his own, but others’.


    It is something to ponder, definitely.


    This one lowers his head, because in a way Ballista has just shamed Maz, and rightfully so. “You are right. This one is glad he can be counted among your friends and should be more respectful. Maz apologizes.”


    A smile forms on her lips and her grey eyes twinkle with amusement. “Don’t. Never apologize for who you are, Maz. We might complain about it, but as your friends, we also respect you for who you are.”


    Mazubar-do frowns, feeling his whiskers twitch. “This one is confused then. Should Maz stop or should he not? You are sending very mixed signals here.”


    She shrugs, hiding her smile. Agh! She is merely messing around with Maz, confusing him on purpose.


    “Hey, do I know you?” a voice sounds from the other side of the cell. Maz looks at the burly Breton, the one who was arrested for mugging, and notices he is looking straight at Ballista.


    “I doubt that,” she murmurs and looks away, ignoring the Breton.


    The Breton stands up from his bench and walks over the cell right up to Ballista. She remains sitting and the Breton almost shoves his crotch into her face - or the other way around? In any case, there is something disgusting and slimy about the way he stands above her, grinning. “Didn’t I fuck you in an alley once? I’d swear I did. You sure must remember this.” He swings his hips forward and Ballista frowns.


    Just now Maz realizes that Ballista was the only woman in the holding cell. The Imperials were truly insane. Maz is about to rise, but Ballista shakes her head in this one’s direction. She then looks up at the Breton with a smile. “Can’t say I do,” she shrugs and then slightly shoves him, creating room for her to stand up.


    When she straightens she stands a bit above the Breton, looking down on him for a change and that gives the man a pause. Guess he is one of those who are intimidated by woman taller than them.


    “Just the fact you are mistaking me for a whore insults me,” she says in a calm low voice. “But your stupidity more than compensates for that.”


    The Breton’s face turns red and Maz notices his fists are now clenched.


    “I’m not interested,” Ballista continues, a smirk playing on her face. “What are you going to do about it? You’re in a damn prison. You sure you want to add assault and rape to your charges? Are you really that stupid?”


    Solid arguments. Who would be stupid enough to assault someone in a holding cell? But the truth is, some people really are that stupid.


    The Breton growls and his fist hits Ballista’s stomach and as curls around his fist, his other one hits the side of her head. “Bitch!”


    Maz is already running to the door and starts banging on the bars. “Guards! Guards!”


    It doesn’t take even ten seconds before two jailors in full plate armors show up. They take a glance into the cell and see the Breton standing above Ballista who is sprawled on the cold floor, spitting blood.


    At this moment horror grasps this one’s heart. What if the guards do not give a damn what some prisoners do to each other? They are all criminals after all. But, in the end, this is a holding cell. This is where the arrested wait for a trial. They have not been convicted yet.


    Keys rattle in the lock of the door and the guards burst in. The Breton does not even get a chance to say a word before they jump on him with wooden cudgels and start beating the living crap out of him. He ends up curled on the ground, protecting his weak spots and that’s a sign for the guards he had enough.


    One of the guards crouches next to Ballista, to check on her, but everything in his moves says it is not because he really cares, but it is only to assess the damage. She raises and shakes her head, letting him know she is alright.


    “That’s another assault to your charges, asshole,” one guard growls and kicks the Breton. “Don’t make us come here a second time.”


    The Breton whines in response, his face bloodied and swollen and then the guards leave. Maz walks over to Ballista and offers her a hand, and she accepts it. Maz can see her tongue going over her teeth, testing if they still hold and then she moves with her jaw, hissing a bit during that.


    When we sit down, this one cannot help himself but ask. “Why did you let him? You could have broken all his bones.” And Maz makes sure he says it loud enough, so that even the Breton could hear it.


    Ballista snickers. “Why bother when they,” she points at the door of the cell, the way the guards left, “can do it for me.” She rubs her jaw, grimacing during that. “Plus, he hits like a girl.”


    “Maz was a bit worried, but ultimately, it is nice to see the justice system is not as corrupted as it seems.”


    “Heh. Well, if the guards didn’t show up I would have broken all his bones,” she shrugs. “But I’m fairly sure he’ll remember this and won’t try anything again.” She then leans forward and smiles at the groaning Breton. “Right?”


    He lets out an undefined sound that could be a confirmation or could not. It is most likely very difficult to confirm something when you are beaten to a pulp as the people say. But if this does not show you what Ballista is made of than this one does not know what will.


    Just take a step back. How many Nords could take this kind of insult with such calm? How many Nords would not have beaten the Breton to death for that?


    That is Ballista Merotim, our captain, commander of the Merotim Blades. Not brawn, but smarts, oh yes. Maz definitely approves. Violence is not always the only answer.


    This one jumps up a bit on the bench when the door to the cell suddenly open with a loud creaking sound of the hinges and the light of the torches is suddenly obscured by something. Maz looks towards the door and feels his hair stand up as something creeps up his spine.


    A figure in robe blocks the light and this one’s heart skips a beat. Black and dark purple robe, the hood’s hem made out of raven feathers. A Reaper!


    A slim and pale hand crawls out of one of the robe’s sleeves and points in this one’s direction. “Those two,” the Reaper says, the voice clearly feminine, but so cold and emotionless…


    Two guards appear from behind the Reaper and walk over to us.


    “No!” Maz screams and starts thrashing around. “Khajiit is innocent! Khajiit is innocent! Do not take us away!” They start dragging us out and Maz is trying to grab anything to hold on to. This one’s claws screech on the stone, leaving scratches behind and then he manages to grab the iron bars of the door. “Not the Whispers! Please, have mercy!”


    Then we are out of the cell and walking down the hall, heading towards the stairwell leading up.


    “Please! Not the Whispers!” this one screams from the top of his lungs.


    We suddenly stop before the stair and the Reaper turns towards us, the light revealing a thin face with a delicate chin, lips painted black and two dark brown eyes staring from underneath the hood. “Stop embarrassing yourself, Khajiit,” she says with a slight annoyance in her otherwise emotionless voice.


    Maz looks at Ballista who stares at him with raised eyebrows, the guard next to her with a similar expression on his face. This one straightens and dusts off his almost ruined doublet and clears his throat. “Ehm. Maz was merely putting on a show. This one is very grateful you came to rescue us, Cutter.”


    Arbrelie ‘Cutter’ Genen looks at Maz just as only she and Breton nobles can to let this one know she heard enough from him and turns to Ballista. “You will have to pay a fine, but otherwise you are free to go.” Then she leads us up the stair and Maz gives an apologetic look to the guard that had to drag this one out of the cell.


    Maz stares at Cutter as we walk up, how she is holding up the hem of her robe up, almost as if she was a princess that owned this whole place. This one is not sure what kind of princess that makes her, but from what Maz understands, she was not too far from being an actual princess. If Khajiit remembers correctly, Cutter was related to the Count of Chorrol - a distant niece or something along those lines. And yet she became a necromancer certified by College of Whispers and the Empire and works as our company’s healer. A necromancer healer. Maz is glad he never got too seriously injured.


    But this one should show at least some gratitude because if it was not for Cutter’s connection to the Watch we would most likely be still stuck in the cell. There are certain advantages that come with having a necromancer as a friend.


    Though ‘friend’ is a loose term when it comes to Cutter. She is… well, cold. Distant. And blunt. Always says what she thinks with a complete disregard to people’s feelings. It is almost as if she preferred the company of dead instead of the living.


    We reach the offices in the ground level of the Bastion tower and the clerk hands us back our things, among which are the remains of this one’s lute - though the war pick was most likely confiscated.


    “What is this?” a high pitched voice sounds behind us and Maz immediately recognizes the voice of the Captain of Guard. Antoptima Vinus. When Maz turns around he can see a young woman, maybe even younger than Ballista, standing in between us and the exit. Her silver and gold armor glistens in the light of lanterns and in a way, it makes her look even younger - it does not make much sense, but for some reason it is like that. Almost as if the armor was too big for her maybe. She was way too young for a Captain of the Guard, but Maz understands she got the position through her ties to the Royal family.


    Maz is about to explain everything, because it certainly is wise to be at good terms with such young and pretty Captain of the Guard, but before this one can say anything Ballista pokes him and clears her throat. What is that supposed to mean?


    “What does it look like, ‘Captain?’” Cutter replies with unnecessary emphasis on the word ‘Captain.’ “Releasing the prisoners.”


    “On whose authority?” the Captain asks, her frown deepening.


    “Mine. College of Whispers. Imperial Watch. Take your pick, girl, I don’t care.” Normal person would probably shrug, but not Cutter, no, she just says that and keeps staring at the Captain. “The death of the victim has been established to three days prior to tonight’s incident, and maybe you could thank these two, because if they hadn’t bothered to look for their employer you and your guards wouldn’t even know there’s a big stinking body there.”


    But the Captain already had some dealings with us and Cutter and of course her ties to the Royal family gives her enough confidence to stand her ground against Cutter. “There is still the matter of the break-in, possession of unlicensed weaponry, assault and disturbance of the-”


    Cutter interrupts her with a snort. “Exaggeration. Only thing you can charge them with is maybe, just maybe, the unlicensed weaponry. Besides that you have no proof they broke into the apartment first and assaulted those three goons who came there - who actually had no right to be there either. So just so you could sleep easily they will pay the fine of five hundred Septims, but they are walking out of there.”


    The Captain grimaces and that is a sign for Cutter to ignore her and just walk past her towards the exit. Ballista shrugs and smiles. “Put it on our tab, Captain.”


    “Screw your tab, this is no damn tavern, Merotim,” the Imperial growls. “I’ll make sure to send someone to that joint of yours to collect the fine. Now get out of here.”


    And with that we walk away.


    When we step outside Maz draws a deep breath, taking in the night’s cold air. The sky in the east is slowly brightening up, which means we have really spent most of the night in the cell. Just for that reason it is simply wonderful to breath air that is not musty and smelling of smoke and sweat. Which is how most of the prison smells, most of the time. You can add blood, piss and shit to that if you go deeper into the prison.


    “Thanks for that, Cutter,” Ballista murmurs, shaking a bit in the cold. “You were the one examining the body?”


    “Yes.” Simple answer and silence follows after that.


    “And?” Ballista asks after a while.


    “And what?” Cutter turns to look at her. “Do you want me to clog up your simple minds with all the details of what the examination of a body entails? If not then be more precise with your questions, Ballista.”


    The Nord frowns a bit and then sighs. Yes, dealing with Cutter is never easy, but you get used to it, after a certain amount of time. At least partially. Maybe. Really.


    “You said Quaridicus has been dead for three days.”


    Silence. “Is that a question?”




    “I already said that to the good captain back there.”


    Ballista grits her teeth. “He’s been dead for three days. But the clerk at the office said that Quaridicus himself showed up there yesterday to declare the bankruptcy.”


    Ah. Interesting. The plot thickens. How could a dead man declare a bankruptcy? Well, the question would be more interesting if we weren’t standing next to a necromancer of course.


    “Seems unlikely.”


    “Couldn’t he be reanimated and ordered to do it?” Ballista asks and Cutter snorts at that.


    “How many necromancers do you think operate in the Imperial City without the College’s knowledge? Hmm?” she raises her eyebrows. “None. If there was necromancy we would know about it. On top of that the corpse shows no residual signs of necromancy and you can trust me I would feel it if there was something.”


    So that means we can be quite sure dear Quaridicus did not walk anywhere after he died. So whoever declared the bankruptcy and handled all the necessary paperwork could not be Quaridicus himself. And yet he looked exactly like him. “Illusion magic maybe?” this one thinks out loud.


    Both women give Maz a look and Cutter blinks slowly. “There are only few people in the Empire capable of weaving such a complicated illusion.”


    Well, that is true. Convincing one person you are someone else is not that difficult. Convincing more people at once gets a bit more difficult but not impossible. But convincing more people that you are someone specific? That would require quite the long planning and lots of practice, because you would have to study the person’s habits and quirks, and also a good amount of acting skills. Convincing people’s minds to see you as Quaridicus is not that difficult, but when you start acting strangely, out of the role, the mind starts putting the dots together and could be able to see through the illusion. Unless you have an immense power to back the illusion up and convince everyone that no matter what you do you are Quaridicus, and as Cutter said there are only a few people in the Empire capable of such forceful suggestion.


    “And… Did you speak with him?” Ballista asks and Maz grimaces, partially disgusted. Why? Well…


    “Post mortem interrogation?” Cutter curl her lips. “Family didn’t give consent to that. Even if I had consent, Quaridicus has been dead for three days. It might not even be possible to drag him back.”


    Ballista sighs and Maz feels a bit relieved. It is simply unnatural to drag people back from the afterlife - though this one cannot deny the advantages of asking the victim who killed them. And even though the necromancy has been legalized by the Empire it does not mean the common people look at it any different, having very good reasons to fear. So a family not giving a consent to resurrecting their passed loved ones even if it mean catching the killer happens more often than not.


    The Nord then frowns, as if she just realized something. “Family didn’t give consent? Who exactly?”


    “A son.”


    “Quaridicus and Sons…” Ballista rubs her chin with her thumb, biting her lips. “And what about the woman living downstairs? Has she seen anything unusual?” Ballista shoots out another question and it does seem that is the last nail in the coffin for Cutter, because now her cold appearance finally cracks and she lets out her annoyance.


    “I’m sorry, I didn’t exactly have time to ask stupid questions when I was examining a body and trying to get you out of prison,” Cutter snarls and Maz takes a careful step back away from her.


    Ballista narrows her eyes and nods in acknowledgement. “Yes, you are right. I’m sorry. Thank you for getting us out, Cutter. Now could you, please, ask around about the witness?”


    Cutter bares her teeth and heads to the Bastion again.


    “Thank you. Meet us at the Golden Blade later!” Ballista shouts after her and then she turns to Maz. “Now I need you to run to Golden Blade, wake up Selence and tell her to start looking into Quaridicus’ sons. Anything she can find as fast as possible.”


    “But this one would rather stay and help-”


    She cuts Maz off with a chopping move of her hand. “Get to Golden Blade and wake up Selence. I won’t take long, I’m just going to have a chat with a certain clerk and then maybe the Imperial Insolvency Office.” She then pauses and looks at her clothes, at the roughspun tunic given to prisoners and at the bloody shirt in her hand. “And maybe a bath and buy new clothes too. We’ll meet at the Golden Blade.”


    She walks away, leaving Maz standing under the Bastion with the dawn approaching, the sky in the east getting brighter and brighter every second. This one sighs, realizing he would not mind a bath either. But it might be better to head to the Golden Blade first, before the city gets too busy, and take a bath afterwards.


    Yes, that sounds like a plan to this one.


    Though Maz cannot help but wonder what Ballista figured out. But she would tell him soon enough. Yes, soon enough, after a bottle of strawberry wine and a bit of moon sugar. Yes, Maz needs to freshen up a bit.


    The Golden Blade it is then.


    It is by the noon when we all meet in the Golden Blade again. Selence returns from her round with her contacts and Cutter also returns from the Bastion, having gathered as much information from the guards as possible.


    The Golden Blade is a bit calmer during this time of the day. We do serve mainly mercenaries here, who are more interested in drinks than food - we do serve food and nothing on the menu is bad at all, Thrattia is an amazing cook, but not many people would pick the Golden Blade specifically for the food. There are better inns on the Crooked for that kind of thing after all. So most of the clientele that sits here during the noon is the rougher folk with a bit of a drinking problem, mostly mercenaries.


    There is Ganr and Teril, arguing about something yet again, but Maz sees they are only sipping their drinks, which means they are just killing time. From what can this one overhears from their conversation they will be leaving soon, escorting a trading caravan to Anvil by the sounds of it.


    There are two other mercenaries - maybe - sitting near the fireplace, both Nords, and with the speed they are working through their bottles they are probably drowning something.


    And then there is Jahad. Oh, this one forgot to mention it. Jahad and the Orcs are back from their nightly adventures, sitting at the table closer to the counter. This one realizes he has not talked about them yet, no? Then this one should talk about them for a moment while we wait for Ballista.


    Jahad T’uvin Lakeeif al-Drazeem. A Redguard swordsman, a man of a few words but his blade is faster than the eye can follow. His skin is lighter in tone than most Redguards, maybe implying a mixed blood, and a black moustache with braided side whiskers hangs alongside his lips with a thin goatee in the middle. His eyes are brown as hazelnuts surrounded by constantly bloodshot whites, as if the man has not slept in a while. His black hair is tied into a think braid, mostly hidden under his red hood, which is part of his garb, garb more appropriate for a desert rather than the Imperial City.


    Then there are the Orcs. Mul and Gadba. Two unbelievably huge Orcs, all covered in muscle and scars, with both of their brains being composed of just that, this one thinks. Nothing but muscles and scars, that is what those two have in their heads. They are brothers, maybe even twins, but it is not really difficult to recognize who is who. Mul is the bald one, with both eyes, but half of his nose bitten off, his left ear chopped off, and his forehead covered with burned tissue as if he’d stuck his face into a fireplace or something. Gadba still has some hair on his head, mostly grey, which could imply these two Orcs were somewhere between forty or sixty years. Gadba is missing his right ear, his left eye has been gouged out and there is a nasty scar going from the left corner of his lips up to his ear which did not heal properly and now reveals teeth. It gets really awful in a silent room, where all you can hear is just breathing, because when Gadba breathes it lets out this whistling sound as the air passes through that damaged skin. Just awful.


    So Maz sits at the table in the corner, along with Cutter and Selence, while Jahad sits with the Orcs at the table close to the counter. He still has to keep an eye on them, but for the time being they are quite occupied with their food - as long as they are fed they are harmless, that is a good thing to remember. Just in the gods’ names, do not take away their meal. They are capable of ripping your arms off and beating you to death with them - which will not take long, since they rip your arms off and all that...


    “How was your night, Jahad? Had fun?” Selence leans forward and raises her voice.


    The Redguard lazily shifts his gaze at her and just shrugs. Selence snickers and then turns towards Maz.


    “That was a good chat. What about you, Maz? Good night?”


    She knows we spent the night in prison and yet she asks.


    Before Maz can answer he hears Cutter snort. “This is the part where you are going to brag about getting another notch on your handle? Yes, congratulations, Selence. You fucked another stupid wench. We are so envious.”


    “This one certainly is,” Maz grimaces.


    Selence looks at Cutter with raised eyebrows and grins. “Something got under your skin, Cutter?” She then leans back, and looks a bit down. “Or maybe under your skirt? Oh, that must have been terrible. My condolences.”


    “Your sarcasm doesn’t make any sense, girl,” Cutter gives her a cold look and then just looks away, done with this conversation.


    “Yeah, yeah, pretend you’re not here anymore,” Selence snorts, winking at Maz. “We regular mortals will continue this discussion with or without you. Right, Maz?”


    “Well…” this one scratches the back of his head.


    “So you don’t want to hear any details?”


    Selence has a grin on her face, a grin saying that she knows she has won. Ah, Maz is such weak willed Khajiit… “This one wants to hear absolutely everything. It is… for a book, you know. A detailed study. Yes.”


    The Imperial’s grin grows even wider. “You’re so predictable, Maz. Just don’t put it into those terrible stories of yours.”


    “Terrible? That is cruel, Selence.”


    “It’s the truth. Writing a story in that terrible speech of yours is just horrid, and it also makes it look like you’re the most important thing in the story. And on top of that you babble too much. Imperial City this, Imperial City that. No one gives a crap. Imperial City is just Imperial City!”


    “Since when did you become an expert?”


    Selence shrugs. “Just saying. Maybe you should write about where you can get some pussy.”


    “You’re both idiots,” Cutter murmurs and Selence laughs out loud.


    “Look who came back to the mortal plane. We know you secretly love it, Cutter.”


    The door open in that moment and Ballista walks in. We all look up, see her serious face and we quickly sober up. She heads directly to our table, stopping by Jahad and whispering something into his ear. He nods and then Ballista continues towards us. She sits down into a chair and Maz notices that now she has a new shirt, this time a green one, but still worn as loosely as the last one, the first three buttons undone and sleeves hanging loose.


    “So how did it go with the Insolvency Office?” Maz asks and she turns around in the chair, raising her hand to get Thrattia’s attention. The old woman immediately starts to tap beer into a tankard.


    “Terrible,” Ballista sighs. “I thought I was going to stab myself with a quill or something.”


    “And anything useful beside suicidal thoughts?” Selence smirks.


    “Maybe,” she shrugs and leans back when Thrattia appears with the tankard. Ballista takes a sip and puts the tankard on the table. “Quaridicus and Sons. It’s just a name. His sons aren’t in the business with him. Quaridicus was the sole owner of the company, and always has been. Which means that it’s only Quaridicus who is bankrupt, his sons aren’t paying any debts for their father.”


    “Son,” Selence corrects her with a raised forefinger. “He had two, but the younger one died several years back, some kind of sickness. The older one is named Cavisus and apparently, he lives in the Elven Gardens, has a shop there.”


    Maz cannot help but raise his eyebrows. It seems that this Cavisus is on pretty good terms with the Thalmor. “What kind of shop Maz wonders?”


    Selence frowns. “Give me a second. I know my contacts mentioned it but it somehow slipped out of my mind. Just give me a moment, I’ll recall it.”


    “And what about the witness, Cutter?” Ballista shifts her attention at the Breton.


    “The woman heard some voices and shouting coming from upstairs when she returned home, around the seventh toll in the evening. It went on for a while and then she saw Quaridicus leave.”


    “Did she really see him?”


    “Yes, she swore on the Divines - as if that means anything,” Cutter shakes her head in disbelief. “She heard footsteps on the stairs so she opened the door a bit, and saw Quaridicus himself leaving. She hasn’t seen him since then.”


    “And yet he was most likely already lying dead upstairs,” Ballista murmurs and rubs her chin with her thumb. “The woman couldn’t have been there all the time, to see if he returned or not, but we can assume he was already dead.” She pauses and her hand starts playing with her hair as if of its own volition. “The clerk back at the offices said the same thing. That it was absolutely Quaridicus. Though he seemed a bit more energetic and vigorous than normal.”


    Cutter frowns. “The woman actually said the same thing. That when he walked down the stairs he seemed a bit more energetic.”


    “Tailor shop!” Selence then bangs into the table and we all jump up in fright. “What?” she raises her eyebrows when we stare at her. “Told you I’ll remember. Hmm.” She frowns and Maz glances at the other women at the table, seeing how they frown the same way, as if they all realized something at the same time. “Am I the only one who’s just realized it?” Selence says.


    “I sincerely doubt your limited brain, constantly obsessed with pussy, could realize anything,” Cutter murmurs.


    Well, Maz is of a mind that Selence and Cutter were just meant for each other… That was sarcasm, just for the record. No one in this company bickers as much as those two, and it is no wonder. Cutter’s arrogance and Selence’s provocative nature were just meant to clash with each other. Luckily, they have not tried to kill each other and this one hopes that they never will.


    “Enough you two,” Ballista groans. “I think we have a solid lead here. Come on, think with me. We helped Quaridicus haul silk to Dragonstar and then we helped him bring a load of cashmere back to Imperial City. Then Quaridicus declared bankruptcy and the warehouse was revealed to be empty. I wonder in which order that happened…”


    “Then there is the fact that Quaridicus declared bankruptcy even though he was already dead,” Selence continues that line of thought. “His son owns a tailor shop and isn’t tied to his father’s company, thus no debts. I have no idea how so much cashmere could disappear, but the son definitely could profit from it, especially if he supplies the Thalmor pricks in Elven Gardens. Though what is the motive?”


    “Not owning even a bit of his father’s company maybe?” Ballista murmurs.


    Well, it certainly got a bit complicated. It sounds more like work for the Imperial Watch, but we want our payment. Though this one is beginning to doubt if it is actually wise. Yes, reputation is important, but if the employer is dead and someone stole all his stuff, how exactly do we want to get our promised payment? This is getting over our heads.


    But there is one thing Mazubar-do’s companions forgot to mention. “How does Silk figure in all of this, Maz wonders.”


    Selence tilts her head and smirks. “Silk? That’s the goods we were protecting on our way to Dragonstar, dumbarse. Oh, I forgot. How could you know? You slept through the whole way.”


    “No, he doesn’t mean that kind of silk,” Ballista shakes her head, grimacing. “He means Silk. The Silk. The crime boss. The goons we clashed with at Quaridicus’ place. They worked for her.”


    “Silk?” Selence repeats. “That Silk? Dibella’s gaping hole!”


    “Very profound, girl. Very profound,” Cutter snorts. “Just confirms you are incapable of thinking about anything else.”


    Selence throws the Breton an annoyed look, the words apparently getting under her skin this time. “You know what, Cutter? Go fuck yourself. Or better yet, go dig yourself some half rotten corpse and get it to fuck you, because no one else will!”


    “Enough!” Ballista hits the table with her fist and everyone snaps their attention at ther. Jahad and the Orcs, both women at our table, and even all the other mercenaries in the tavern. Those two drunk Nords lift their heads with expectation in their eyes, as if they are hoping there would be a fight. “Cut the crap, both of you. I’m really not in the mood today,” she leans forward and growls quietly. “I don’t care who started it, but if it goes too far I will be the one who finishes it. Understood?”


    “Yes, captain,” both Selence and Cutter murmur and Maz suppresses a chuckle. They look like little girls who had just been caught stealing candy. But Ballista is right, their bickering does get tiresome sometimes, thus Ballista pulling out her commanding voice on them is only appropriate. Make sure to remember this voice, because that is the voice you can hear when things go south on the job, it is the voice she uses to bark commands that expect no objections or hesitation in carrying them out.


    “Good,” Ballista nods and lifts her tankard and takes a proper swig. When she puts it down it is almost empty. She leans against the table with both of her hands and looks at the two women. “Get me Cavisus Quaridicus’ address, Selence. As soon as possible.”


    “Yeah, on it,” Selence murmurs and grimaces, clearly very thrilled about hitting the streets again. Maz considers accompanying her, because he still wants to hear all the details she promised him, but then again, this one could scare off her contacts.


    When she walks away, Ballista shifts her attention on Cutter, who gives her a defiant look. “Did the Watch get anything out of the thugs? Anything about Si-”


    “The Watch let them go,” Cutter cuts her off before she can finish. “The Captain wasn’t happy about it just as she wasn’t happy about letting you walk away, but apparently the thugs have some connections too. Or the one who they work for has.”


    “Damn it,” Ballista grimaces. “Fine. Thank you again for getting us out, Cutter. Any suggestion for where should we look now?”


    Ah, interesting turn. As this one said earlier, Cutter’s arrogance does not have limits and sometimes a little bit of gratitude and flattery works better than trying to put her into her place. There is a reason why Ballista is the commander, clearly.


    “I could take a look at the warehouse where the cashmere disappeared. Maybe you missed something,” Cutter offers and stands up.


    “Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Cutter,” Ballista nods and watches her walk away and then her attention turns to Maz.


    “Are you going to flatter this one too? ‘Oh, Maz, you are very helpful and so handsome, and clever and amazing. Would you jump into the sewer, see if we have not missed anything there?’” This one does his best to imitate her voice, but it is probably a bit off. Getting the humans’ voices right is always difficult, the vocal cords of our races are far from similar after all.


    “You’re on Orc duty,” she smirks and walks towards Jahad, slightly tapping him on his shoulder and then she heads upstairs, leaving Maz alone at the table, frowning at the injustice. There was not even a drawing, she just said this one will watch over them. Not fair. But why should Maz watch after them when Jahad is still-


    The Redguard gracefully stands up and heads toward the stairs and Maz lets out a groan.


    So not fair!


    Not too late after that the rhythmic sounds of creaking wood and thuds, as the bed began hitting the wall, reach this one’s ears - not just this one’s, everyone else’s in the tavern too.


    Though it gives Maz a moment to ponder the relationship Jahad and Ballista share together. Can it actually be called a relationship? Because this one has never seen them together in public, holding hands or being completely enthralled by each other as most couples are. And yet, they were clearly not hiding anything, the banging coming from upstairs a clear indication of that. They are companions and friends, but beside the sex it seems that they are nothing more. Companions with certain benefits, Maz would say. Yes.


    “That’s my bread!” a guttural growl interrupts this one’s thoughts and he looks towards the table where the Orc brothers are sitting.


    “No, it’s not! It doesn’t have your name on it!” Mul growled back at his brother.


    “Why should it have my name on it?”


    “If you write your name on something it is yours. I saw it in the City, on the buildings.”


    Gadba picks up a knife and carves a big X into the bread. “Now it has my name on it.”


    “That’s not your name!”


    “Since when could you read?”


    “Since ever! This is your name!” Mul grabs the knife from Gadba’s hand and carves something that looks like H into the bread.


    “That’s not my name!”


    “You can’t read!”


    “You can’t write!”


    Maz is about to get up before it gets ugly, but Thrattia beats him to it. She walks towards their table, grabs the bread and tears it in half, handing a half to each of the brothers. They look at the halves with dumbfounded expressions and then they look at Thrattia as if she was their newfound goddess or something.


    “I didn’t think of that,” Mul murmurs and hangs his head in shame.


    “Me neither,” Gadba echoes his brother, whistling sound accompanying his words as air escapes through the holes in his cheek.


    “We should be ashamed.”


    “We definitely should.”


    “And are we?”


    “I don’t know. How you do it?”


    “No idea.”


    “Then we are not ashamed then.”


    “But we should.”


    “We absolutely should.”


    “So are we?”


    And so it continues for a while, accompanied by the sounds of creaking wood and thuds coming from upstairs. And Maz sighs. How is one supposed to stay sane in such an environment?


    It certainly cannot get any worse. At least Maz would want to believe and yet it can always get worse. Much worse.


    Because just when this one thinks that the door into the Golden Blade open and even before anyone enters Maz catches a very familiar scent in the air. Peony and hyacinth, very strange combination. Strong and strangely intoxicating.


    A Khajiit female walks into the tavern, dressed in a sleeveless vest of boiled leather, tight leather pants and at her waist a whip and a long hunting knife. Golden fur gleams in the light coming through the windows and the door and her golden eyes scan the tavern with a smile on her face. Her movements are energic, manic even, like a little kitten, and yet there is something lean and mean about her, even though she is already in her fifties.


    She is closely followed by the Suthay-raht feral kitten we had the pleasure of meeting at Quaridicus’ place.


    They stand in the door and then they notice Mazubar-do and the first Khajiit’s smiles widens. “Mazubar,” she says cheerfully, as if she was greeting a friend she has not seen in a long while. Which was not entirely inaccurate.


    Then another figure enters the tavern, followed by the tapping of a cane on the floor and Maz immediately recognizes the Imperial. If the cane was not enough of a hint then the wide brimmed hat certainly was - or the swollen purple face and broken arm from the trashing Ballista gave him.


    “S’hni,” Maz stands up, arms wide open to greet her as cheerfully as she did. “Maz is so glad to see you.”


    She walks towards this one, shaking her head. “Ah, I haven’t heard that name in a long while,” she says and hugs this one. “I always liked how the name sounds when you say it,” she purrs into this one’s ear before taking a step back to measure Maz from head to toe. “You look as handsome as ever, my sweet liar.”


    She then registers the thuds coming from upstairs and her whiskers twitch in amusement. “Have the infamous Merotim Blades changed their occupation? I thought this was just a tavern, though with the name Golden Blade you can certainly expand your avenues of business.”


    Maz chuckles, but he watches the other people in the tavern out of the corner of his eye. The Imperial leans against the counter, ordering a clean glass of Tamika from the frowning Thrattia. The Suthay-raht female leans against the wall right next to the door, arms crossed on her chest.


    And S’hni notices that. She flashes a smile, one that can easily mean she is truly amused or she is just about to gut someone. “Oh, where are my manners. Let me introduce you to my friends. Over there is Sulortius, a very dear friend of mine,” she points at the Imperial who taps his hat with a smug on his face.


    “And you’ll love this one,” she points at the Suthay-raht. “Jaari. You two already met, I know, which makes it only more ironic. She’s your daughter.”


    Maz’s eyes nearly pop out. “What?!”


    S’hni cackles and pats Maz on his shoulder. “Just pulling your tail! Haha! Though when was the last time we saw each other? In Anvil? That was like nineteen years ago.” She looks at Jaari and frowns. “How old are you anyway, oh sweet daughter?”


    “Eighteen,” Jaari growls.


    S’hni shrugs. “Well, give or take…” She looks at the chair next to her leg, wipes it off with her hand and sits down, pointing at the seat opposite to her. “But don’t worry, you weren’t my only interest back then. The chance are… one to five that you’re the father.”


    “This one does not find it so funny,” this one grumbles before he sits down. He glances at Jaari, looking for any kind of resemblance. Maybe her muzzle, or her eyes, but nothing seems to resemble Maz - and this one should know, he does spend a lot of time in front of a mirror after all.


    “Oh it is. You should have seen your face,” she chuckles. “But, darling, would you do me a favor? Get rid of the terrible way of speech. So archaic, so inelegant. We are no longer in Elsweyr, or even Anvil. This is the Imperial City. You should try speaking like the Imperials, it would make you much more attractive, trust me.”


    “But less exotic,” this one smiles and rubs his ear. “You act like them, you speak like them. You even picked a new name for yourself. Silk.”


    “See? You’re halfway there. Now just try to say ‘I’. Come on, just try it, you’ll see how easy it is.” She waits a moment but when Maz does not comply she waves her hand and scoffs. “Fine. As for the name… New land, new name, new… Opportunities. I don’t have to steal for scraps here as we did in Corinthe, don’t have to beg and bow to gang leaders, or follow orders of the Anvil’s fancy families anymore. When an opportunity presents itself only a fool wouldn’t take it.”


    That is true. Now everyone begged her, and bowed to her.


    Silk. The word on the streets was that most of the southern Weye - sometimes called Small Tenmar for its dark streets and mostly Khajiit citizens - is controlled by Silk. Loan sharks, smugglers, Skooma dealers, prostitutes, they all answer to her. She also owns several entertainment businesses such as brothels and gambling dens. She has come a long way from the streets of Corinthe indeed, and even further from the Anvil’s docks. When Maz last saw her she was a slaver, a ruthless and sadistic one, working for a crime boss in Anvil.


    And that was not the S’hni this one remembered. And yet, this one tried, tried so hard. But in vain.


    Maz escaped the ruthless streets of Corinthe. S’hni did not. The ruthlessness had followed her from there.


    “Now where is you illustrious commander, the so called Captain Ballista Merotim? I would like to talk business with her.”


    “Busy,” Maz answers vaguely and Silk looks at the ceiling, listening to the thuds.


    “I can hear that,” she smirks, looking back at Maz. “So does that mean I can do business with you then?”


    This one sees how Thrattia suddenly gets more attentive behind the counter, and when our gazes lock she shakes her head. Does she think that Ballista is the only who can negotiate a deal? Well, she should watch how it is done then.


    “What kind of business?” Maz leans forward.


    “That kind where you landed my people in prison.”


    Uh-oh. Maz again meets Thrattia’s gaze and tries to tell her with his eyes to get Ballista. She snorts and heads for the stairs.


    “A mere misunderstanding, this one assures you-”


    “I think not,” Silk rudely interrupts Maz. “What were you doing at Quaridicus’ place?”


    The truth? Or should Maz lie? The fact is that truth in this case cannot make things any worse. “Looking for Quaridicus. He owes us a payment. What were your people doing there?”


    “No, no. It doesn’t work this way, sweetheart.”


    “No?” Maz raises his eyebrows, feeling his ears tilt backwards nervously. “Maybe you could make an exception, out of old friendship.” While saying that, this one wiggles his fingers under the table, slowly weaving a complicated image. Bring out the pictures of our friendship, of the nights spent in the dens, but not too much, Maz, not too much. Cloud the pictures of this one’s departure, the circumstances-


    Fire suddenly explodes in this one’s head and he suppresses a scream of pain. That was a powerful backlash, not something Silk is capable of. This one looks around the tavern, following the weak traces of the backlash to its source. But no one of the people-


    This one’s gaze falls at the shadow under one of the tables to his left and notices a cat crouching there - wait, not a cat! Alfiq! The little bastard winks at Maz with one of his blue eyes as if to mock him.


    “What’s the matter? Does your head hurt? Awww, poor thing.” She shakes her head and leans forward, the amusement in her eyes vanishing all of a sudden. “I know all your tricks. And your weak spots too.”


    Loud steps sound on the stairs and Ballista walks into the tavern. Her hair is a mess, her shirt hangs on her more loosely than usual and she apparently forgot her boots. Jahad is right behind her, and this one wonders if he was quick enough to put on his boots or did not take then off in the first place.


    Ballista heads towards our table with a grim expression on her face, tying her hair into a ponytail, and this one does not doubt it could be easily mistaken for a murderous intent. “Want to talk? Talk,” she growls.


    “Captain, so nice to finally meet you. I have heard quite a lot about you,” Silk says in her sweet voice as she stands up and faces Ballista. “Though I do have to ask you a very serious question. Did you kill Quaridicus?”


    What? Silk thinks we did it? That does not make any sense.


    “No. Did you?”


    A curious reply.


    “Of course not. Why should I?”


    They stare each other, measure each other, with such intensity Maz would not want to step in between them right now. It would mean risking death, surely. It is actually Jaari who breaks the silence.


    “So can I kill them? Though I would like to keep the Orcs,” she bares her teeth at Mul and Gadba who exchange confused looks.


    “What does she mean?” Mul whispers to Gadba, though whispers in a way that everyone in the tavern can hear that.


    “I don’t know. Ask her.”


    “I don’t want to. What if she bites me?”


    “You’re right. She has very sharp teeth.”


    “She’s still staring.”


    “I know.”


    “Make her stop.”


    “Tell her a story?”


    “Yes. About the log.”


    They clear their throats and Mul starts. “One day we were walking-”


    “And we found this big log-”


    “And we rolled the log over and underneath-”


    “Was a tiny little stick.”


    “And we were like-”


    “‘That log had a child!’”


    Everyone stares at them for few seconds, not entirely sure what to make of it. It is Silk who breaks the silence, throwing the Orcs a look and sighing. “This gets us nowhere, so let’s start again.” She sits down and points at the chair next to her. “Why were you at Quaridicus’ place?”


    Ballista takes the chair and turns it around before sitting down, putting the backrest of the chair between herself and Silk. Maz has seen Ballista do it plenty of times, every time with a person she does not trust. In a way it is both physical and psychological, because the stance sends clear signals saying she does not trust the person, and on top of that it puts the chair’s backrest in the way of a knife - if that person decides to draw it on her of course. “I could ask you the same question.” A short silence of intense staring continues after those words and Ballista frowns. “Quaridicus didn’t pay us. Four thousand Septims That’s why were looking for him.”


    Silk quietly whistles. “You’re certainly not cheap. So he didn’t pay you before he declared bankruptcy?”


    Ballista shrugs off the question with one of her own. “Why were You looking for him?”


    Silk grimaces as if she just ate something sour. “I gave him a loan that pretty much covered half of the expenses of this Dragonstar enterprise.”


    That was quite a lot of money. And money moves the world, remember? None of us had a reason to kill Quaridicus when he owed us all money. So does that mean we were on the same side then?


    “So he owed us both. The warehouse with his goods was robbed clean. He declared bankruptcy and then commited suicide,” Silk thinks out loud.


    “Not precisely. He’s been dead for three - no, four now - days. Poisoned.”


    Silk frowns, confused. And surprised. Like really really surprised, she does not mask any of it. Almost as if she did not see this coming. “He was dead before the bankruptcy? Then how…” She pauses for a moment, and it could be easily mistaken for a shock and surprise, but Maz has known S’hni for too long. “It doesn’t make any sense. Damn it!” she hits the table with her fist. “Ten thousand Septims in the wind!”


    “My condolences,” Ballista murmurs. “I’m sorry we roughed up your people and all that, but since it’s clear we had nothing to do with the loss of your money and Quaridicus’ death… Would you all get out of my tavern?”


    Silk gives her a stern glare and narrows her eyes. “What will you do now? You can’t get your payment from a dead man after all.”


    “Someone killed Quaridicus and then someone impersonated him. Call me curious.”


    “Curiosity gets people killed,” Silk replies and stands up. “Let it go, Merotim. Count your losses and be done with it.”


    “And are you going to count your losses and be done with it?” Ballista looks up with a smirk on her face.


    Silk grins back before looking away. Maz knows that grin. It is less unhinged than… before, but that does not say much. “Don’t get in my way. Call it a friendly warning.” She heads towards the door, her people following her. Silk throws one last look at Ballista and then disappears outside. Maz looks around, to make sure the Alfiq didn’t stick around, but it seems even the little bastard had left.


    “Hot damn!” Ganr exclaims into the silence. “That was intense. Should we start looking for a new tavern to hang around?”


    Teril smacks his shoulder. “Oh shut up, Ganr! Or you definitely will have to find a new tavern.”


    The tension falls off a bit after these words and Maz walks towards the window, looking into street. Silk is talking with Jaari and then the Suthay-raht walks away, heading towards the Imperial City while Silk and her escort headed south towards Small Tenmar.


    “She was right about one thing,” Jahad says as he pulls a chair next to Ballista and sits down. “How do we get payment from a dead man?”


    “Fuck the payment,” Ballista growls and Maz raises his eyebrows. This one was wondering about the same thing, but he certainly did not expect such an answer. “It’s not about the payment anymore. Someone killed Quaridicus, someone impersonated him, someone robbed him. Too many damn mysteries. The Watch won’t figure this out and I sure won’t let Silk have her way. We’re the only ones right now.”


    Interesting. “You sound like Maz now,” this one smiles.


    “If you are filled with pride then you have no room for wisdom,” Jahad gives her a look and she rolls her eyes.


    “Shut up, Jahad. I think I like you the most when you don’t say a damn word.”


    Maz shakes his head. “He does have a point though. Why us? We will not get our payment no matter what. And crossing Silk’s path while doing it? That calls suicide.”


    Jahad nods in Mazubar-do’s direction and then points his finger at Ballista. “Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off.”


    “One more of your Yokudan proverbs and I’ll shove them so far up your arse they might come out of your ears even when I chop your head off!” Ballista growls and throws up her arms in something between resignation and annoyance. “I thought that you of all people would understand this, Maz. There is a mystery here, a secret, and we can unveil it.”


    “Have you not said that Maz does not have the right to pry into other people’s secrets?” That is what Maz says out loud, but not what he really thinks. This one knows this right here is a story worth recording and telling, but what Maz will not say out loud is that he is scared. Yes, Silk is not one to be trifled with, and yet that is not what scares Maz. It is the thought of what will happen when we clash with her.


    This one has known S’hni for ages now, he grew up with her on the streets of Corinthe. Maz had seen what she was becoming and ran away. And what happened when this one met with her in Anvil? The famous Mazubar-do was so horrified of what she had become he did what he always does. He ran away. So what is Maz scared about now?


    About the truth, about what he will see. How he will see S’hni.


    This one is scared he will run again.


    “This is different, Maz,” Ballista grimaces, getting slowly frustrated by the unexpected opposition she was facing. “It isn’t about the payment, it isn’t about our reputation, it isn’t even about making a change. We won’t change a damn thing in this messed up world. But we are involved, we’ve been involved the moment Quaridicus hired us. And he got killed, Maz. Before he paid us. The job’s not done, not in my eyes. I’m not done. Want a story about the famous Ballista Merotim? It’s right here. I’m not fucking giving up on this. I’ll see it through. Get it?”


    Maz and Jahad exchange glances, taken back by the outburst. And this one will remember every single word of it and he will write it down. The job’s not done. So sayeth Captain Ballista Merotim.


    The door to the Golden Blade swings wide open once again and Selence Merotim walks in. She walks right to us with a grin on her face. “Got the address of Quaridicus the Younger. Happy?”


    Ballista measures Maz and Jahad and we narrow our eyes.


    The dice had already been rolling even before this argument started. The game is on.

    Selence looks at us with narrowed eyes. “Did I miss something?”




15 Comments   |   Justiciar Thorien and 3 others like this.
  • ilanisilver
    ilanisilver   ·  October 14, 2018
    I have to say, I do like Maz telling the story. It’s different, and I don’t read very many stories where one of the characters is narrating. It’s a nice change. 
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 12, 2018
    A fun read and yay sadistic Khajiit returns! I had missed her. :D
    • Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      A fun read and yay sadistic Khajiit returns! I had missed her. :D
        ·  October 12, 2018
      That cat is bitchin'! :D
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  October 11, 2018
    My... that was a surprising guest appearance. I wonder what it took for you to get Harrow's permission...

    Also, seeing as we're reading this from Maz's perspective, I was wondering if you could implement a Unreliable Narrator type of ...  more
    • Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      My... that was a surprising guest appearance. I wonder what it took for you to get Harrow's permission...

      Also, seeing as we're reading this from Maz's perspective, I was wondering if you could implement a Unreliable Narrator type of writing. 
        ·  October 12, 2018
      I had to drown a kitten in a bucket of gummy bears. And that was just an entry exam.

      Unreliable Narrator. Depends. In regard to what? The Imperial City? How Maz reads other people's reactions? His involvenent in the story? The way he ...  more
      • A-Pocky-Hah!
        Karver the Lorc
        Karver the Lorc
        Karver the Lorc
        I had to drown a kitten in a bucket of gummy bears. And that was just an entry exam.

        Unreliable Narrator. Depends. In regard to what? The Imperial City? How Maz reads other people's reactions? His involvenent in the story? The way he portrays himself?&...  more
          ·  October 12, 2018
        Had to get back home and reply on my computer since doing on mobile would be a pain.

        Yeah, the idea of overplaying Maz's involvement in the story and having him be called out would be a good example, but given the writing style you're...  more
        • Karver the Lorc
          Karver the Lorc
          Had to get back home and reply on my computer since doing on mobile would be a pain.

          Yeah, the idea of overplaying Maz's involvement in the story and having him be called out would be a good example, but given the writing style you're using for this to...  more
            ·  October 12, 2018
          I think that calling Maz on his involvemen here in other story is a solid idea, I can easily work that in one of the future stories focusing on other Merotim Blades. 

          Yeah, that omnipotent narrator from the first part. It was Maz...  more
      • Justiciar Thorien
        Justiciar Thorien
        Karver the Lorc
        Karver the Lorc
        Karver the Lorc
        I had to drown a kitten in a bucket of gummy bears. And that was just an entry exam.

        Unreliable Narrator. Depends. In regard to what? The Imperial City? How Maz reads other people's reactions? His involvenent in the story? The way he portrays himself?&...  more
          ·  October 12, 2018
        Isn't a narrative from the PoV of a character always unreliable to some extent? After all, no one can be 100% objective, and a person inside the world cannot know everything and be everywhere.
        I actually like Maz's perspective, it gives the story an...  more
        • Karver the Lorc
          Karver the Lorc
          Justiciar Thorien
          Justiciar Thorien
          Justiciar Thorien
          Isn't a narrative from the PoV of a character always unreliable to some extent? After all, no one can be 100% objective, and a person inside the world cannot know everything and be everywhere.
          I actually like Maz's perspective, it gives the story an exoti...  more
            ·  October 12, 2018
          Yeah, you do speak the truth. Pretty much every character's pov can be unreliable and it doesn't even have to be a first person one. A limited third person pov can be unreliable too. I personally would take most of what Maz says with a teeny tiny grain of...  more
          • Justiciar Thorien
            Justiciar Thorien
            Karver the Lorc
            Karver the Lorc
            Karver the Lorc
            Yeah, you do speak the truth. Pretty much every character's pov can be unreliable and it doesn't even have to be a first person one. A limited third person pov can be unreliable too. I personally would take most of what Maz says with a teeny tiny grain of...  more
              ·  October 12, 2018
            That unreliability is normal, it doesn't make the story worse. There is no feeling that something is left out or that the Kitty is too biased and forces his worldview on the reader (which often annoys me in first person stories). Also, you really can...  more
            • Karver the Lorc
              Karver the Lorc
              Justiciar Thorien
              Justiciar Thorien
              Justiciar Thorien
              That unreliability is normal, it doesn't make the story worse. There is no feeling that something is left out or that the Kitty is too biased and forces his worldview on the reader (which often annoys me in first person stories). Also, you really can...  more
                ·  October 12, 2018
              I am glad to hear that, Thorien. :) I know that each to his own and that plenty of people can struggle with this style (it took me several days until I got used to writing this way), but I think it fits Maz and I do like to experiment a bit, change the st...  more
  • Justiciar Thorien
    Justiciar Thorien   ·  October 11, 2018
    "Who would be stupid enough to assault someone in a holding cell? But the truth is, some people really are that stupid."

    No words more true than these...
    • Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Justiciar Thorien
      Justiciar Thorien
      Justiciar Thorien
      "Who would be stupid enough to assault someone in a holding cell? But the truth is, some people really are that stupid."

      No words more true than these...
        ·  October 12, 2018
      Stupidity is dead. Long live the stupidity :D
      • Justiciar Thorien
        Justiciar Thorien
        Karver the Lorc
        Karver the Lorc
        Karver the Lorc
        Stupidity is dead. Long live the stupidity :D
          ·  October 12, 2018
        Stupidity is immortal))
  • Justiciar Thorien
    Justiciar Thorien   ·  October 11, 2018
    Wow, you seriously walk into the territory of Lissette-long chapters))) Cool, I like)