UJON, Book Thirteen - A Careless Elf Receives A Quest


    Erik the farm boy was bored. Bored of Rorikstead, certainly bored of the farm. Bored of spending every night in an inn full of farm hands and old men. He was even bored of his name. Oh, Erik was a good enough name, but it was so short, so plain. Bah! He glared into his mug of ale, ignored the door opening behind him. It would only be old Rorik, come for his evening drink, same time every day. Why bother to look up?


    “Still here, Erik?” He almost dropped his mug. What was she doing here on a Sundas eve?


    “Lydia! Yes, still here, of course.” She swung one leg over the bench and sat beside him. “Shouldn’t you be off protecting that Elf lady?”


    “That’s Thane Nerussa of Whiterun Hold to you. And I’ve had a few days off. Thought I’d come and visit Ma and Da. Mralki still not letting you go, then?”


    “Ha, no. Thinks I’m too soft – of course I’m soft, I’ve never been allowed past your farm without him. Maybe…” He glanced at Lydia shyly, then stared straight ahead at the damn wall he’d spent the past eighteen years staring at. “Maybe you could speak to him? He’d listen to you, I know he would!”


    Lydia looked him up and down. She sighed, and put down her mug. “Fine. I’ll ask him. I don’t think it’ll do much good, but I’ll ask.”


    He shifted in his seat so he could watch without it being too obvious. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her, dressed in breeches and a dark green shirt, approaching his father. He couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but he saw Lydia reach into her pocket and pull out a coin purse. She poured the contents onto the counter, counted it out, nodded, and then put it back in the purse. She shook hands with Mralki, and came to sit by Erik again.


    “He said no, didn’t he?” He looked at Lydia, who took a long swallow of mead, then stood up. She put her hand on his shoulder.


    “Best get some rest, kid, we’ve got an early start. Thane’s due back in Whiterun in the morning, and Warmaiden’s opens at sunrise. If Adrianne has something already made that’s the right sort of size, it’ll only take an hour or two to fit it, but she may need to make something new, which will take most of the day. So, we’ll need to leave around six. I’ll see you outside.”


    Erik stood up so quickly he banged his knee on the table. “Oh, thank you, Lydia! But… my father says we can’t afford armour…”


    “Oh, I got bored on my days off. Cleared a couple of bandit camps, did some mining, hunting, that sort of thing We can sort something out.” She grinned and clapped him on the back, but he managed to brace himself and stood firm. Not that she’d ever made him stumble doing that... Damn, he was blushing.


    “Well, uh, thanks again, I guess I’ll see you in the morning!” He wasn’t sure how he was going to get any sleep, but he started clearing away his dinner things and went to see if his father needed any help before he went to bed.




    Nerussa tried to think of something to say, but her attention was drawn back to the Third Emissary, furiously attempting to get to his feet with some semblance of dignity. She didn’t feel able to Shout again yet, but her spells were ready. Unfortunately, so were his. His attention was fully on her, though – had he not realised Äelberon had freed himself? Nerussa had only been hit with a Shout a few times, and it was, from what she remembered, quite disorientating. Gods, she needed to focus on the fight ahead, not start reminiscing about previous battles…

    Shit. Rulindil certainly wasn’t disorientated now; she reeled backwards as a strong Shock spell hit her. She was glad that it seemed to be a Bolt, rather than a Jolt – the initial kick was far more painful, but she didn’t like the idea of the ongoing pain of those sparks dancing over her for several minutes. She quickly cast a healing spell and moved forward, Jolt in one hand, Bolt in the other. She caught sight, out of the corner of her eye, of… oh, Xarxes’ arse, why was she even surprised? Äelberon was actually offering the soldier her blade back. Her face wasn’t visible, but even Nerussa could see from her stance that she was confused and afraid. As Nerussa hit Rulindil with all her might, she saw Älberon speak briefly to the soldier who nodded, and ran into the cell where Nerussa could make her out, pressed against the back wall, shaking.

    Äelberon, a blade in each hand, advanced on Rulindil, silent as a cat stalking a mouse, his expression grim and dark, eyes blazing. She and Rulindil exchanged a few more blasts of Shock magic, then, when Äelberon was within arm’s reach of the other Mer, his voice rumbled in a way that took her back to Sundas mornings in Temple with her family.


    “May Auri-El’s judgement be upon you for your cruelty."


    Rulindil spun around, spells discharging uselessly at his side, to see Äelberon of Dusk raising both blades and bringing them up in unison, his eyes like those of a bird of prey…


    The Third Emissary’s head rolled across the floor as his silk-robed body slumped to its knees, a clean, swift cut like a fruit severed from the branch.




    Nerussa ran down the stairs and grabbed the dossier Rulindil had been reviewing. “Esbern,” whoever that was – a former Blade by the look of it. She tucked it away to show to Delphine if she had a chance to drop by Riverwood on the way to Riften, although that was starting to look unlikely. Still, it looked as though this Esbern fellow might well be in the recesses of the Ratway, so she could probably just head down there after speaking to Brynjolf and the rest. Well, assuming she and Karliah got out of there in one piece.


    She looked up. Äelberon had just said something, where was he? Oh, right. The other prisoner. She supposed she ought to go and say hello. A small part of her registered the absurdity of that thought, but she brushed it away.


    She crouched next to Äelberon. Gods, the Breton was in a bad way. Although if he was indeed one of the Ratway vaults’ squatters, that might not be an entirely new state of affairs. Äelberon was casting a healing spell on the man’s wrists and murmuring what sounded like a prayer. Come to think of it, Äelberon didn’t look in terribly good shape, either, though he’d clearly had a better start point. Even the healing spell was starting to flicker, as though his reserves of Magicka were almost spent.


    “I think they put a drain Magicka poison in my food, among other things,” he said, almost conversationally. “Ha! What did they think I would do, heal them to death? Fools! Luckily, the food already tasted abysmal, so it made little difference as to its edibility.” He chortled, and then coughed, the congestion in his lungs sounding heavy to Nerussa. He took a laboured breath and cleared his throat as he continued to cast. “Had the added benefit of making the minuscule portions not seem like such a bad thing.”


    “Oghma’s tits. What are you even doing here??”


    He looked over his shoulder, smirking, although it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Got myself in a spot of trouble in Markarth. I shall tell you the full story another time, but it ends with my walking right into Ondolemar, the bastard.”


    “And you just… let him capture you?” She remembered the Dossier. “Yes, of course you did, I expect the marketplace was full of onlookers?”


    “Precisely. I could not risk… Well, I am sure you know what your people are capable of.” He turned back to the Breton, his magicks exhausted, he now seemed to be feeling for broken bones. "You will be alright, lad, do not fret..."


    “They’re not…” She sighed, unable to continue when she saw his jaw clench under the beard. This was hardly the time for explanations. She looked at him more closely, and realised with horror that what she’d taken for a few blood stains on a ripped, brownish shirt, was actually a lighter-coloured shirt, almost entirely stained with blood, both old and fresh.


    “I’m going to kill Ondolemar.” Her voice was cold, but she could feel the anger building. She actually stood up and turned toward the balcony, but she felt his massive hand gently close around her wrist. It was terribly hot to the touch! She looked down at him, only now noticing how damp his hair was at the roots, and felt her frustration grow.


    “What good would that do, Nordling? What are you intending to do, storm into Elenwen’s festivities, Shout them all to bits?”


    Her shoulders lowered a little. Maybe he had a point.


    “So, how do we get out of here?”


    Äelberon coughed again, bringing his hand to his mouth before gesturing to his left. “There appears to be a trapdoor there, I have no idea where it goes, but there is definitely a cold draft when they open it. I must warn you, however, they usually open it to dispose of…” he managed an almost silly grin, considering their circumstances, the eyes – she now understood their brightness was surely part of the fever – mustering the familiar twinkle she remembered from the Symposium. “…Waste.”


    She went to investigate, and had her hand in her hair, pulling out a pin to use as a lockpick, when the soldier behind her spoke.


    “I have the key. If you… If I let you get away, they’ll… They’ll do the same to me as to him. As they had me do to him. Please. I don’t expect you to help me, but if I give you the key, will you let me leave with you?”


    Nerussa looked at her. She was younger than Rumarin, maybe only in her late thirties. She opened her mouth to say “yes”—


    “She comes with us,” Äelberon directed, and Nerussa bit her lip, trying not to glare at the soldier. After everything they had done to him, he still…


    She nodded, and held her hand out for the key.




    Rumarin supposed it was bound to have happened eventually. Oh, it seemed safe enough, waiting around for someone. A bit boring, usually. He’d even taken to – he shuddered – reading. He was currently reading Feyfolken, borrowed from the Bards’ College at the insistence of that snob Viarmo. Not that Rumarin cared that he’d been refused admission – it had just seemed like an easy way to earn a night’s bed and board in between adventures, and perhaps woo a villager or two every so often. No unlicensed barding and all that. Anyway, no, he hadn’t even expected Viarmo to recognise him. What annoyed him, was that the smarmy git had, only now he was with Nerussa, he was suddenly treated as an old friend. Bah.


    Anyway, the book was actually rather good. That wasn’t the problem. No, the problem was that he’d decided to climb to the top of the step thingies near the Word Wall where he was supposed to be waiting – it was a nice evening, he was warmly dressed, so he thought he’d sit somewhere that would allow him to stare, romantically, at the sunset as he ate his bread and sliced meat. All very poetic. Of course, as he approached the top of the steps, a rather insistent voice – maybe even a Voice – had rung out.


    “A new supplicant approaches…Listen… Hear me and obey…” (the v/Voice seemed to like Dramatic Pauses. It was definitely a Voice.) “A foul darkness has seeped into my temple... A darkness that you will destroy...” At the top of the steps was a large platform, perfect for sunset watching, with an enormous statue – a worryingly Daedric Prince-y looking statue. “But first, you must restore to me my beacon... I shall guide you unto it... Find it and return here... And great shall be your reward..."


    Oh dear. A Quest. From a Voice. Nerussa wasn’t going to like this. But he sort of… wanted to do what the Voice asked? It was probably important. He’d hurried back down the steps after it finished speaking, and made a note on the map of the general area that seemed to be where he was meant to look.


    He’d watched the sun go down as best he could, sitting in front of the Word Wall. The view was only about half obscured by trees and bits of temple and things. The next couple of hours were spent trying, not altogether successfully, to concentrate on his book.


    Maybe he could just sort of… encourage exploration around there? No, she would know he was up to something, and after that business with the giant… No. Best just tell her, let her decide.


    And where in Oblivion was she? She’d made him promise, no Daring Rescues. Well, she hadn’t said Daring, but that was what he was choosing to remember.


    Suddenly, he heard voices, footsteps. Shit, who was coming?? Sounded like at least two or three people, all quite agitated, too. He stood up and readied his sword-and-ward spells, hands behind his back, and cautiously stepped toward the path.


    Nerussa?” It was certainly her, but who on Nirn was with her? He rubbed his face in puzzled exasperation and almost blinded himself with the light of the damn spell waiting in it… Was that a Thalmor soldier with her? And who by all that was rude and sweary was the half-giant between them, dressed in bloody rags, grubby, impossibly long white hair trailing everywhere, an arm over each She-Elf’s shoulder? And who were the voices – male, muttering defensively about “I don’t know why you won’t let us help!”?


    “Quick, are the bedrolls ready? Can you get the pair of them close together, we’ll be rounding the corner in a moment and I don’t think we can keep him upright much longer.”


    The enormous figure began a coughing fit which, after a few moments, turned into a deep voice, yet somehow more petulant than the other two combined.


    “’M fine, Nordling. Don’t fuss.”


    Rumarin did as he was asked, and the two She-Elves somehow managed to get the protesting half-giant onto the floor. The younger of the two found a waterskin and set to work, trying to coax him into taking a few sips at a time. Nerussa began casting her Healing Hands spell, but it didn’t seem to be having much effect.


    “Who is he, Nerussa?”


    She looked up at him. “It’s the Pale Elf. Äelberon.” He almost laughed, but the soldier had found a piece of cloth and was tying the prone figure’s hair away from his face, revealing what was, unmistakably, a pair of elf ears. “He’s been tortured, so has he,” she waved her hand at a short man, one of the voices, a Breton, probably, “and he’s very, very sick. Damn fool tried to take on a frost troll with his bare hands and no magicks, too.”


    “What are we going to do?” Oh, this one he recognised. The curly-haired Bosmer from the Winking Skeever. Damn, things really hadn’t gone well, obviously. If things had gone to plan, she would have been back before she was missed, but evidently this Malborn had needed to make a break for it.


    “We’re going to save his damn life, that’s what.” She pinched her nose, and scrabbled in her pack for her coin purse.


    “Rumarin, I need you to fetch the carriage. Take them with you – Caranye, have a look through the pack over there, there should be a set of my clothes you can take, get changed and ditch the armour – if one of the other drivers is resting up before heading back to their own city, I want you to put these three on a carriage to Riften. Caranye, I’m trusting you with this, go to the Jarl’s palace and ask for Iona. Tell her the Thane sent you, and she’s to keep the three of you safe in Honeyside. Do not leave until I get there. Got that, soldier? Good. If it’s only Thaer then just bring him here, we’ll all go together, I suppose.”


    The soldier, Caranye, was already behind the Word Wall with a change of clothes. Rumarin found a tunic and handed it to the Breton, hopefully the stains on his breeches would be less noticeable away from the light of the campfire.


    Rumarin wasn’t happy leaving Nerussa behind, but it was obvious her mind was made up. Before they left, they all took a swallow from a bottle of mead – just four foreigners with booze on their breath, after a night at the Four Shields Tavern. Nothing to see, here. He looked over his shoulder as they set off, and tried not to worry about her slumped shoulders and bowed head.

     Table of Contents


5 Comments   |   Karver the Lorc and 1 other like this.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  April 19, 2018
    Squeeeeee! Albee and frost troll, I bet the frost troll was scareded, cause a frost troll totally would be. :D
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  April 19, 2018
    Erik the farm boy, heh. But who´s going to give him his cool ridiculous name when Grulmar´s not around? xD
    And those screenshots. Heh, delicate neckline indeed if I may say. :)
    Lol, Albee having a boxing match with frost troll. Yup, it´s defin...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Erik the farm boy, heh. But who´s going to give him his cool ridiculous name when Grulmar´s not around? xD
      And those screenshots. Heh, delicate neckline indeed if I may say. :)
      Lol, Albee having a boxing match with frost troll. Yup, it´s definitely him :D...  more
        ·  April 19, 2018
      Rumarin is a lot of fun to write. 
    • Gnewna
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Erik the farm boy, heh. But who´s going to give him his cool ridiculous name when Grulmar´s not around? xD
      And those screenshots. Heh, delicate neckline indeed if I may say. :)
      Lol, Albee having a boxing match with frost troll. Yup, it´s definitely him :D...  more
        ·  April 19, 2018
      I love Rumarin so much, he's such a great character, it's always fun to write him :D
  • Gnewna
    Gnewna   ·  April 18, 2018
    More massive thanks to The Long-Chapper for both letting me bring Albee into my story, and for all the massive amount of help with feedback and tweaking so he still sounds like himself :D