The Traveler from the Marsh - Chapter 4

  • 1st of Second Seed 4E203, Riften


    The carriage stopped just before the stables outside Riften. Han-Ei jumped off the back glad that the long journey was over. The hard wooden seats of the carriage were not easy on his backside for it was numb and his tail was painful from being bent for such a long time. Argonians were not meant to sit for long periods of time.


    He looked around breathing in the scents of the deciduous forest of birch trees which were now showing their spectacular green leaves against their white trunks in the spring sunshine and rubbed his tail and calf muscles. The countryside around Riften was beautiful but yet home to many dangers. “Home” he mumbled to himself and started walking to the city gates.


    “Welcome back to Riften, sir” one of the guards said waving to his companion to open the gate. Han-Ei silently acknowledged him with a nod and went through into the busy city. The sun dial indicated it was around mid afternoon as he passed it on his way home. Ahead the Bee and Barb inn could be seen where he had brought Ji'Arsha several years ago. He looked down at the ground and shook his head sadly thinking back at their friendship and turned on his heel heading to his house which lay nearby.


    As he put the key in the lock he found that the door just swung open. He peered inside and saw that the candles were lit and a pot of stew simmered over the fire. The smell of food made him push open the door with haste and closing it firmly behind him. He walked over to the pot and sniffed it. 'Rabbit.. again' he mused. He was getting fed up with it now. Maybe a bit of venison would be nice for a change?


    Iona, Han-Ei's housecarl was walking up the stairs from the cellar when she noticed him. “Good to see you again my Thane. I was beginning to think you were never coming back.”


    “I'm glad you kept the place clean, tidy and warm in my absence” he answered. “I have had a long journey and lost a couple of good friends. I shall be needing a bath and some time to myself.”


    “Of course my Thane. I will get your bath started right away.” She said but paused noticing something was not right as he seemed tense and spoke slowly. “Forgive me for intruding but is something wrong?” She queried.


    Han-Ei sighed and sat down. “It seems everything I do pisses people off. I can trust you so I will tell you” he said looking up at her. Iona cocked her head slightly trying to read the argonian's emotions. He smelt like he was definitely unhappy about something.


    “Ji'Arsha has gone to Hammerfell. I escorted him to the border” he continued.


    “Oh, I thought he was going to stay at the college for another year.”


    “That was his intention, yes but we fell foul of a group of Thalmor... And you know how Ji'Arsha feels about Thalmor. To put a long story short he killed them all and once again found himself a wanted man. His only option was to flee to Hammerfell. I went with him to ensure his safety.”

    Iona smiled. “I know you two were good friends. Guess you miss him.”


    Han-Ei thought for a moment. “Yeah, I miss the banter. He was a strange, if not seemingly dim-witted guy which lead to some, lets say interesting conversations. But, that's not all. I am no longer allies with the Dragonborn.”


    Iona looked concerned at his last statement. “What do you mean?”


    “I stole from him, stupid I know and he caught me. I was lucky to leave with my life to be honest, he really was angry about it.”


    Iona kept her feelings to herself. She knew the Argonian had made some stupid mistakes in his life but to anger the dragonborn was one of his worst mistakes. Whatever he had done she decided not to press further. “Well I'm in no position to comment on that” she answered. “Ill go make your bath” she added using it as an excuse to leave the room.


    Han-Ei helped himself to the stew and sat at the table in the small room. Honeyside was a single storey structure with a large basement. Only one single room served as kitchen, living area and bedroom. In the basement there was a storage area for alchemy ingredients, food, weapons & other supplies and also Iona's bedroom. He felt slightly guilty of her having to sleep in that dark and damp room but that couldn't be helped. The log walls kept out most of the cold but draughts blew between some of the logs making the need for a fire a necessity most of the year.


    She returned with a tin bath and bucket which she laid by the fire. “Ill just go fill your bath” she said picking up the bucket and left to fill it at the water pump in the market square.


    Iona made a lot of trips before the bath was full enough to use. She left him to it and went downstairs to her room. The letter that was handed to her by the courier the week before was still in her desk drawer waiting for Han-Ei's return. She opened it and took out the parchment which was unsealed as Han-Ei had given her permission to read his mail in his absence. She would give it to him later but she decided to have one more read of it to see what this latest quest would entail.



    I'm sorry for not seeing you in person but I was passing an old mine, named Old Echo Mine by your locals when screaming could be heard from inside. I know that some say the mine is haunted; something was uncovered whilst blasting the tunnels and the mine was abandoned. I asked the guards to see if they could take a look but they were not interested.

    I have also heard from very reliable outside sources that whatever they have uncovered is very ancient and valuable but is protected by something dreadful, not of this world. However those with a noble heart will be able to pass; you were specifically asked for by people I cannot name or give any indication of where or who they are.

    I'm asking you if you could take a look as I feel whatever you find inside will be for you alone. I cannot be seen talking to you in person but I will be watching you.”




    Iona thought it sounded suspicious and didn't seem much sense; Han-Ei had made a number of enemies due to the nature of his work and pondered giving it to him or burning it on the fire. She was bound to protect him and preventing him from falling into an obvious trap was one thing she was bound to do. She had heard of this mine; something as uncovered deep in the mine several years ago leading to ancient Dwemer ruins and whoever ventured beyond that breach didn't return. She put the letter back in her drawer and lay on the bed staring up at the ceiling.




    The following morning Iona had made her decision; she would show the letter to Han-Ei once he had gotten ready. She could hear him upstairs, his footsteps plodding backwards and forwards and the sounds of cupboards been opened and closed. She heard a chair scrape across the floor and then the sound of something heavy flopping down onto it. She decided that he was now dressed and went up to meet him, letter in hand.


    Han-Ei was dressed in a rough cotton shirt and pants quietly eating. He looked up at her as she joined him at the table. “Slept well?” He asked.


    “Yeah, always ready for a new day. Here, this came for you whilst you were away; I was going to give it to you yesterday but it slipped my mind.” She answered handing him the letter.


    Han-Ei grunted and frowned obviously disgruntled about her forgetfulness.


    “I'm sorry for the delay. It won't happen again.” Iona apologised.


    “It had better not” he said banging his spoon onto the table to make his point and snatched the letter from her hand.


    “Hmm, have you heard of this Jalamar?” He asked not recognising the sender.


    “No, it sounds suspicious to me, like it could be a trap.”


    Han-Ei put the letter aside and thoughtfully weighed up his options. It seemed too important to ignore but Iona was right it did seem suspicious. The date on the letter suggested it was sent two weeks ago so if anything if anyone was laying a trap for him they would be long gone.


    “I think we will be giving it a look. If anyone was waiting in there for me they would have given up by now and gone home. I'm curious to see what this 'thing' is they found. Do you believe in ghosts?” He asked.


    Iona gave a short laugh. “No, but I do believe in Deadra. It would be best to go prepared.”


    “Then we go after breakfast” He said. “I could do with something to take my mind off recent events.”




    Han-Ei decided that the weather was warm enough for his special armour; his Argonian Mercenary Armour which he had crafted specially for him by the local blacksmith going from plans he had drawn up sent from Black Marsh. He hadn't worn it in months for the weather had been too cold. It was short sleeved with shoulder protection and thick ebony chest piece. It had no fur lining; only leather around the bare edges of the metal where it touched his scales. The gloves had sharp clawed tips on the fingers and the boots ended in sharp prongs useful for kicking.


    Teekus had been impressed with the armour and even had a set made for himself but like him it was only worn on special occasions. The only time he'd worn it was when he briefly visited Elsweyr accompanying J'Zargo travelling on the moonpaths that the Khajiit use. Ji'Arsha was obviously not interested in going and had remained at the college.


    He pulled on his thick socks to prevent chafing as Iona looked on. She passed him his boots and knelt in front of him to help him into them as the large chest piece prevented bending over to fasten the straps. “You look the part” she said as she stood up.


    "It's an impressive piece of work.” He answered as he clanked towards the door. Iona helped him put on his backpack and satchels and both left into the early morning light dousing the candles as they went.


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  • Teekus
    Teekus   ·  March 28, 2016
    Thanks - will try and keep this going. I'm gonna have to play through a certain mod (I'm sure you can guess what this mod is) to remind myself of what happened & who the major characters are so bear with me. 
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  March 27, 2016
    Cool to see Iona in a story. She is one of the more surly housecarls and I rather like her. I think she has Stonearm's voice, if I remember correctly. 
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  March 27, 2016
    It’s great to see you back into this Teekus, it’s been too long since we’ve read about Han-Ei and his companions.
    Off to Old Echo Mine? Looking forwards to this.