Darkening Sky, Chapter 18

  • Chapter 18

     

     

     

     

                    The Dunmer called it Elred Bal. It was one of the tallest mountains along the slope of the Lindraths, formed out of an enormous mass of shifted rock from a gash of the Star-Wound, running perpendicular to Azura’s Coast. The Lindraths were the newest mountain range in Tamriel, and though they could not compare to the Jeralls or the Velothi, at thirteen thousand feet of height Elred Bal was an impressive sight, visible from the mainland even on days where ash from the Red Mountain obscured everything else.

     

                    The duel had lasted an hour. And then all that was left of Elred Bal was another crater.

     

                    Archmagister Arevis was lying on his back in the centre of the crater, smoke spilling out of the gaps in his Daedric cuirass. He coughed, bleeding from the nose. His left leg was bent unnaturally to the side. His right leg was gone from the thigh down. Blood was mixing with ash and congealing quickly, combining into a brownish-purplish semifluid paste. The wizard left a trail of it as he dragged himself backwards, grubbing up clumps of black under his fingers as he wriggled. The ash was coming down hard today.

     

                    Yaga clutched at the ice spike lodged between two ribs. It had only just penetrated, and he’d managed to stop it before it could make contact with his lung. Wincing, he tightened his grip and pulled out the frozen projectile, his overgrown left tusk poking his cheek as he ground on his teeth.

     

                    ‘This can’t be…’ Arevis moaned as he flipped on his chest and began to crawl away. ‘This can’t be…! The Nerevarine himself chose me! I am the greatest of his disciples! I can’t-’

     

                    ‘You,’ Yaga panted, building up rivulets of magicka around his fist. His reserves were almost depleted, but there was more than enough to get the job done ten times over. ‘You’re a talker.’

     

                    The archmagister’s eyes bulged out as he forced himself upright. Yaga sensed the faint, useless drizzles of power buzzing around the Dunmer’s hand and nodded. Arevis was completely empty, but he was still trying. That, at the very least, was worthy of respect.

     

                    ‘You’ve no idea what you’ve done, shaman,’ Arevis snarled. ‘This means war. House Telvanni – no, all of Morrowind will hunt you to the ends of Nirn. You and your entire miserable tribe-’

     

                    Yaga opened his fist and a burst of pure force drove Arevis into the ground. The Daedric armour flattened, crushing the wizard lord’s skeleton with a wet crunch. The entire wreckage was sent three feet into the earth. Blood sprayed upwards from the hole.

     

                    The archmagister of the Telvanni was now the same consistency as mincemeat.

     

                   Yaga sat down heavily, next to the broken remains of his staff. The soul gem had come loose. As his breathing steadied, the gem cracked along the smooth edges and, five seconds later, splintered into tiny pieces.

     

                    ‘Ah, tusk,’ he mumbled.

     


     

                    A few errant structures and abandoned piles of rubble surrounded the Scathing Bay, scant reminders that a beacon of civilisation had once stood here. Now the chill wind of winter blew freely through the area, carrying with it plumes of fallout ash. The deep, sulphurous stink of rancid volcanic water permeated the air. The bits of sky not smothered with ash were permanently scarred orange and red. It was impossible to tell that it was still early in the morning.

     

                    Two High Elves rode carefully along the jagged eastern shoreline of the Bay, their faces fully covered with goggles and mufflers to protect their eyes and lungs. Both Altmer were armed in the same fashion. Spears and tower shields fastened across their backs. Shortswords sheathed at their left hips; daggers at their right. For any veteran of the Great War, a full set of Aldmeri Dominion plate and mail would have completed the picture. Today, however, the elves had forgone their armour and outfitted themselves with gambesons instead. The heavy woolen coats kept them warm and mobile while still offering some protection. Their guars were of the banded variety, bred for hard riding and harder environments. They trotted side by side, clawed feet digging only very slightly into the ash covering the earth.

     

                    Aenir tightened the muffler around his nose and lips and wiped his goggles with a thumb. The fabric on his glove came off black and grimy – well, blacker and grimier. Aenir shook his head. There were a few in the Third Division who’d been alive before Baar Dau… Vvardenfell had been beautiful once, and Vivec her crown jewel. The artist in him ached to see the former capital. In another life, he might’ve sat down then and there to commit the sight of the ruins to memory. It would have made an excellent subject for a painting.

     

                    Larethor shifted on his saddle to look at him, his scowl visible even behind his goggles. ‘Something wrong, Captain?’ he rasped.

     

                    Aenir kicked himself. Just because his face was covered didn’t mean he could let his body language betray his thoughts. ‘No, sir. Nothing’s wrong. It’s just that this place is quite desolate. It’s hard to imagine anyone settling down in Vvardenfell, let alone an entire tribe of Orcs.’

     

                    ‘Orkkshh,’ Larethor hissed, then jerked as if he’d been punched and brought a hand up to the side of his jaw, swearing under his breath. His muffler was wet along one side. The Twinstinger raised an arm to ward off the ash-infused wind and slid the muffler down the remains of his face, sucking in a deep breath. The Morrowind weather was not helping his old wound. The flesh around his exposed right mandibles had become red and inflamed. Saliva oozed out from between his gums and dripped out of his missing cheek down the side of his neck. Larethor peeled one glove off his hand and massaged the side of his mouth with three fingers and a thumb.

     

                    ‘Oh, my sweet porcelain doll, you hurt me so gooood,’ Larethor sang softly, laughing to himself. His eyes were turning bloodred under his goggles. Even from under his thick clothes Aenir could see the Twinstinger’s second sting rising to attention as they rode.

     

                    Gods, I knew he was aroused by pain before, but this is… It suddenly dawned on him that Larethor hadn’t even touched anyone for almost four full years. Aenir swallowed, hoping the Commander wouldn’t notice the movement of his throat.

     

                    He did not. Larethor pulled his muffler back over his face, still muttering incoherent nonsense. His guar whimpered, having already learned to fear its master. Aenir tugged on his own reins and fell back into position behind him.

     

                    ‘Orcs,’ Larethor continued. ‘They’re like weeds, you know. They can grow anywhere so long as they can eat and sleep. And the power that this one mage has, well – I’m not surprised if he’s used it to make their lives easier on this barren wasteland.’

     

                    Orcs don’t do easy, Aenir thought. ‘As you say, sir.’

     

                    ‘With that being said, you’re absolutely certain that the shaman hasn’t left Vvardenfell yet?’

     

                    ‘I’m quite positive, sir. I called in some old favours we’ve earned over the last few years,’ Aenir replied. ‘Telvanni agents have been watching every single port on the mainland since the news about their archmagister got out. It’s been almost a full month, and not a single Orc has been sighted on any docking vessels – or on any major waterways, for that matter.’

     

                     ‘It took three days for them to pin down gro-Lozokh as the killer and send people out for revenge. He could’ve made it off the island by then.’

     

                    ‘Nerunae is keeping in touch with our contact in the Telvanni, but that’s still entirely possible, sir. It’s a risk we’ll have to take. We’ll know if we’ve made the right gamble by noon. Taramarco is getting close to the stronghold.’

     

                    Larethor grunted. ‘Run me through gro-Lozokh’s clan again. The bare bones.’

     

                    ‘Sir. Data from a 196 Imperial census indicates that the Lozokh tribe is made up of over five hundred Orcs. Small compared to the Orsinium clans but massive compared to your average stronghold. They’re an offshoot group that split from the Third Orsinium a few centuries ago to return to openly worshipping Malacath. Their customs are somewhere between Orsinium and true stronghold Orcs. The current chieftain Mozag gro-Lozokh has twenty-six wives, but all males of age are also allowed to take mates and father children, and the tribe has been known to readily take in outsiders.’

     

                    ‘And for the last two years they’ve been living out of Molag Mar – well, what’s left of the place – on subsistence farming and hunting,’ Larethor finished. ‘They’ve likely had to fend off regular bandits and scavengers too. I would expect their numbers to drop to four hundred or less.’

     

                    ‘That is probably a good estimate, Commander, sir.’

     

                    ‘Enough chatter for now. The terrain is clear. Get a move on. Our targets might be leaving tonight.’

     

                    They had moved past the uneven ground surrounding the Scathing Bay. The Twinstinger launched a savage kick to his mount’s underside. The already bruised creature let out a loud whine and took off westward. Aenir sighed and retrieved a raw ash yam from his saddlebags, slipping it sideways into his guar’s wide, reptilian mouth. It nuzzled the back of his hand as it chewed. ‘Doing all right there, girl?’ he murmured.

     

                    ‘I said move, Captain!’

     

                    ‘Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!’ Aenir snapped his reins and gave the guar a far gentler kick along the sides. He caught up with Larethor in ten seconds.

     


     

                    ‘For the last time,’ Mozag said, tapping his foot as the fireplace threw his massive frame into an even more massive shadow on the wall of the tent. ‘We’re not pulling up camp just because of you.’

     

                    ‘Good, because that would be stupid,’ Yaga replied. He was hunkered down in front of the block of wood he used as a dining table. His robes were wrinkly. He hadn’t bothered to press them out the last month. ‘Maybe I should leave for a while all the same… the Telvanni-’

     

                    ‘Stop being so tusking cautious. It’s cowardly. The only Telvanni left who could even touch you is Divayth Fyr himself, or maybe the one called Neloth. One’s a hermit while the other’s in Solstheim. And also a hermit. Why should you of all people be worried?’

     

                    ‘What I was going to say,’ Yaga said. ‘Is that the Telvanni are more than their council and their wizard-lords. As one of the Great Houses of Morrowind, there are entire armies under their banner.’

     

                    Mozag chuckled. ‘And you think they’re going to mobilise one just for you?’

     

                    ‘I wouldn’t put it past the Dark Elves.’

     

                    ‘Exactly why you should leave with us.’

     

                    Yaga opened his mouth, then glared at his little brother. Trapped.

     

                    ‘We’re not just leaving because of your spat with the Telvanni,’ Mozag continued. ‘The rest of the damn greyskins aren't going to let us be, anyway. Remember the Sadras from last year? The rest of the Houses are gonna come along and start trouble as well. We need to move on. We’re children of Malacath. It’s our lot in life. Fall the tusk in.’

     

                    Outcasts forever. There was a strength that came with that recognition, and it was unique to Orcs. In spite of himself, Yaga lifted his head high.

     

                    ‘Besides, we’ve been camping off these ruins for two years now. Remember how many children have been born since then?’

     

                    ‘None.’ Yaga grunted. He’d researched the matter – Orcs were the most fertile of the humanoid races and couplings almost always produced offspring. He’d concluded that it was a combination of stress, the ash, and certain airborne substances blown in their direction from both the Red Mountain and the Scathing Bay.

     

                    ‘Exactly. And by Malacath’s hoary knuckles, all our males and females should have been trying. I checked.’

     

                    He checked? ‘I can do something about it once we’re out of Vvardenfell,’ Yaga sighed.

     

                    ‘Aha!’ Mozag exclaimed triumphantly. ‘You are staying with us. Not that I was giving you a choice in the matter.’

     

                    ‘What would the tribe do without its shaman?’ Yaga made a show of exasperation, hiding his smile. The chieftain had spoken… and now he could stay with his son.

     

                    Speaking of his son-

     

                    Yagrash burst in through the flaps of his tent, his dreadlocks flying behind him, his face contorted. He took a deep breath and was about to speak, petulant lips puffed up around the nubs of his tusks. Then he noticed Mozag and froze.

     

                    ‘Welcome home, son,’ Yaga said warmly, standing up, his hands outstretched.

     

                    Yagrash ignored him. ‘Uncle? What’re you doing here?’

     

                    ‘To talk with your father, of course,’ Mozag said shortly. ‘And it’s chieftain, boy. How many times…?’

     

                    ‘Sorry, brother,’ Yaga said hurriedly before dropping in front of Yagrash and coaxing him. ‘Come on now, son. “Chieftain”. “Chieeeftaain”.’

     

                    ‘Father!’ Yagrash finally turned back to him and grasped him by the arms, the pout building up again with full force in his cheeks.

     

                    Yaga laughed. ‘Yes, yes, what is it?’

     

                    ‘What, are you blind? Nabashog cut my forehead just now, see?’

     

                    The skin above Yagrash’s left eye was indeed split open. The bleeding had already stopped, but the flesh was beginning to swell. Yaga frowned, scratching his tusk. ‘That’s a nasty cut. It must have hurt so badly. But you toughed it through, didn’t you, son?’

     

                    ‘Nabashog’s way too big!’ Yagrash shouted. ‘Fucking whoreson! Diseased piece of-’

     

                    ‘Show some backbone,’ Mozag snapped. He’d been headed for the tent flap but stopped as the tantrum unfolded. ‘I know Nabashog. Not that much bigger than you, and you’ve been eating well. If he beat you, he did so fair and square.’

     

                    ‘His mother’s still a whore! Everyone knows she gets pounded like a sow by half the-’

     

                    ‘Boy!’ Mozag roared, sending Yagrash scurrying behind his father’s legs. ‘What did I tell you about respect? Discipline your child, Yaga, or I’ll do it for you!’

     

                    ‘Sorry, chieftain, sorry,’ Yaga said, turning to Yagrash. ‘Come on now, son. Apologise to the chieftain. Come on now.’

     

                    ‘I’m sorry, Uncle,’ Yagrash droned. ‘I didn’t mean it.’

     

                    ‘There, there,’ Yaga crooned, stretching out a finger. ‘That’s my good boy.’

     

                    He closed the cut on Yagrash’s forehead with a spark of golden magic. ‘Now you stay here. I’ll go and have a talk with Nabashog’s parents, and I’ll make sure to tell them he was too rough during sparring.’

     

                    ‘Okay,’ Yagrash sniffled, rubbing his brow. ‘Waaaay too rough.’

     

                    ‘Waaaay too rough,’ Yaga repeated soothingly as he left the tent. Mozag followed after him, shaking his head with his tusks bared.

     

                    ‘Can you even hear yourself? No wonder I never see any scars or bruises on the boy. You heal him every night?’ The chieftain almost seemed like he was about to retch. ‘You’ve spoiled him so badly he might as well have been raised by a city-dweller.’

     

                    Yaga’s face darkened. Had it been anyone other than Mozag, those would’ve been words warranting a beating. Not that he stood a chance without his magic. Mozag had once wrestled off two sabre cats at the same time. With his bare hands. While naked. And killed them by smashing them together until their bones gave way.

     

                    ‘Cut him some slack, brother, he’s only seven years old.’

     

                    ‘He doesn’t curse like a seven-year-old,’ Mozag said. ‘The only reason he hasn’t been dragged off to a corner and beaten black and blue yet is because you’re his father.’

     

                    Yaga smiled, a little proud.

     

                    ‘It wasn’t meant as a compliment,’ Mozag muttered. ‘At least find a new mate to live with you. A proper female should whip some shape into your boy.’

     

                    ‘There’ll be no whipping involved when it comes to my son.’

     

                    Mozag sighed. ‘You need a woman’s influence to absorb that book-softness of yours. You haven’t been the same since you went off to study spellcraft. Womanly arts. There’s a reason shamans are supposed to be females.’

     

                    They walked past rows of tents as they spoke. The larger ones were being taken apart. The smaller ones could simply be pulled up and folded out on the road as necessary. Despite having remained in the same stronghold for twenty-six months, the entire tribe would be ready to move by nightfall. Forgewife Ashgul nodded at Mozag as he passed. Helped along by a dozen assistants, she was disassembling the smithy and loading the pieces that could be reused onto carts. The smelter still glowed with residual heat and it was being saved for last, so as to allow it to cool. Ashgul’s arms were bare for work, and as the noonday sun briefly shone through black clouds of thick gases and ash the beading sweat on her skin glistened and shook on her undulating muscles. Mozag growled appreciatively.

     

                    ‘See that? Now that’s a strong tusking female. Half crushes my ribs every time we rut. You need to get yourself one, brother.’

     

                    ‘You should know by now that I-’ Yaga stopped in his tracks. ‘Someone’s gotten close to the stronghold.’

     

                    ‘How many? How close?’ Mozag said, all business immediately. He rested a hand lightly on the axe at his hip.

     

                    ‘Just one... I think they’re riding a steed. A guar, most likely.’ Yaga’s eyes were closed as he concentrated on the two pools of life essence registering in his mindscape. ‘They’re a quarter-mile away on a hill overlooking Molag Mar and still getting closer. To the east.’

     

                    ‘I’ll fetch a spyglass,’ Mozag said. ‘Keep focused on ‘em and yell if they move.’

     

                    ‘Yes, chieftain.’

     

                    Mozag was back in forty seconds. Yaga followed him up the bisected ruins of a tower along the edges of their barricades. It served the Orcs as a guard tower.

     

                    ‘Hmm. I see him,’ Mozag said slowly, twisting the knob on the spyglass as he looked out towards the ashen wasteland. A single dot was perched on a large dune around four to five hundred feet away. ‘It’s an elf male.’

     

                    ‘Dunmer?’

     

                    ‘Can’t tell from here but he looks very tall. Altmer, I think. Here, see for yourself.’

     

                    Yaga took the spyglass and examined the stranger. He was big. Armed to the teeth, too, looked like. A scarf covered the lower part of his face, but the golden hue of his bald head was unmistakable. ‘You’re right, it’s an Altmer. That spear is of very fine make… the shield, too. This is no common bandit. I think he’s – yeah, he’s got a spyglass of his own. He’s inspecting the stronghold. A scout of some kind.’

     

                    ‘Could be a Telvanni lackey.’

     

                    ‘An Altmer Telvanni? That’ll be a first.’

     

                    ‘Even so, it’s good that we’re moving out today.’

     

                    ‘He’s going to bring news of us to someone somewhere all the same,’ Yaga said, scratching his left tusk. It was itching. Never a good omen.

     

                    He turned to Mozag to see him picking up a heavy yew bow.

     

                    ‘Then,’ said his little brother and chieftain. ‘Let’s send him a message of our own.’

     


     

                    Even from hundreds of feet away, Taramarco could feel touches of the Orc shaman’s power, pushing against his own dim candle of magic like heat waves from the sun. The magicka signature was comparable to an entire Thalmor battlemage contingent – no, it eclipsed even that. Larethor was playing with fire.

     

                    On the surface, though, Yaga gro-Lozokh didn’t look like much. He was far slimmer than a normal Orc, almost bony. His face was a collection of sharp angles, gaunt and weathered. His left tusk was an ugly, deformed thing, protruding haphazardly all the way to the side of his head and curving back around to his cheek. At fifty-one years old, he had dipped past his physical prime. Skyrim stronghold rules would have dictated that he went looking for his Good Death already. Surrounded by hundreds of other Orcs in the midst of hard labour and training, he seemed downright diminutive.

     

                    Taramarco narrowed his eyes as he turned his attention to the rest of the stronghold. They were all packing up and preparing to leave. This was unexpected. If Yaga was sticking with the tribe, that threw their entire plan into-

     

                    A distant whistle.

     

                    Taramarco reacted immediately, rolling off the guar and unslinging his shield from his back, crouching. In a quarter-second, his entire front was guarded.

     

                    The arrow landed six feet away from him, jutting out from the earth. Taramarco understood. He had overstayed his welcome. The next one would be between his eyes.

     

                    He vaulted back onto the guar and rode away, producing a small crystal ball from his pack as he did.

     


     

                    An ash lightning storm was blowing through the area. Captain and Commander were sheltering under a large Emperor Parasol, their guars tied to the base stem of the mushroom. Aenir’s pocket hummed and glowed a bright green.

     

                    ‘Just before noon,’ Larethor said. He took a swig from his waterskin, tilting his head high to avoid slopping water out of his teeth. ‘Right on time.’

     

                    ‘Lieutenant. Report,’ Aenir said, standing upright as he fished his own crystal ball out of his pocket.

     

                    ‘Sir,’ Taramarco’s voice emanated from the orb. ‘There’s been an unexpected turn of events. The shaman is getting ready to leave Vvardenfell, but so is the entire rest of the Lozokh tribe.’

     

                    ‘What?’

     

                    Larethor clasped the waterskin shut and leant close. ‘How many of them are there?’

     

                    ‘Commander, sir. Approximately four hundred and fifty to five hundred by my estimate.’

     

                    Aenir gripped the crystal ball until his fingernails turned completely white. He was almost afraid to turn to Larethor. ‘What do we do now, sir?’

     

                    Larethor was bent over, looking at his feet. His shoulders were shaking. Aenir fought the urge to scoot away from the mad elf.

     

                    Then the Twinstinger threw his head back and screeched with laughter. It echoed throughout the wasteland, high and crazed. Spittle flew. Larethor laughed for ten full seconds, then spat out an instant set of new orders.

     

                    ‘Get everyone moving. Have Nerunae confirm the position of every Telvanni cell on Vvardenfell, then deal with her contact. Taramarco, you clear out any agents you find behind the Lozokhs.’

     

                    Larethor motioned at Aenir and he opened up communications to every other active crystal ball.

     

                    ‘Attention, gentlemer. We’re going hunting. Nerunae will relay your targets as you move. It’s shaping up to be Frostfall 171 all over again but a hundred times easier! The whole of the Lozokh clan is on the move. We’re going to herd them like green piggy cattle and give them a straight shot all the way up the Jeralls. Any questions?’

     

                    Twelve voices answered in unison. ‘Sir, no sir!’

     

                    ‘Then I’ll see you all back on the mainland. Hornets, move out!’

     

                    Aenir kept his head down as he untied his guar and urged it into a sprint behind Larethor, who was already tearing off into the heart of the ash storm. It was moments like these that cemented the Twinstinger’s irrefutable status as a soldier leading other soldiers. None of the Hornets could have stepped up and made a split-second decision like that with the full determination of his troops to carry it through. Larethor of Shimmerene was the vilest living being he knew – but his magnetism, drive and force of presence were undeniable, indomitable.

     

                    What else could Aenir do but follow? It was his place in the world.

     

                    No further words were uttered as they rode on through the storm. Wind battered at them, large particles of ash tearing at bits of unprotected skin. Crimson thunderbolts stabbed the sky, a phenomenon only possible because of the Red Mountain. Aenir followed.

     

                    The Twinstinger broke out of the storm just an hour later and accelerated even more, his guar making agonised pants as he squeezed every drop of strength from the creature. The ruins of the town of Suran loomed in the horizon. Aenir followed.

     

                    The pair closed in on the former settlement. A series of tents entered into view, followed by a campfire, followed by the silhouettes of people, thrown into sharp relief against the constant dusk of the charred land. They were stopping to look. Some of them were pointing. There were a few distinct shouts. Five hundred feet. Four hundred. Three. Aenir followed.

     

                    Two hundred feet. The people were Dunmer, some clad in robes, others in the signature light chitin armour of Morrowind. All were swathed in Telvanni purple. One hundred feet. Fifty. One of them had marched forward and was yelling at the top of his lungs.

     

                    ‘Stop right there, by the order of Great House Tel-’

     

                    Larethor extended Reilanco in front of him and braced the shaft against his forearm. Driven by the momentum of the guar, the spearhead splintered the chitin shell breastplate the Telvanni was wearing and lifted him up ten feet into the air before he came crashing down a corpse.

     

                    Forty opponents in the camp. Aenir charged a group of six clustered near the campfire. He impaled two with his own spear. Their bodies trapped the weapon and he released it. The guar trampled another. One swung an arming sword at his right foot. Aenir drew his leg out of the saddle and kicked, dislocating the man’s shoulder, then unsheathed his own sword and drove the tip downwards. It shattered the Dunmer’s goggles and entered his skull. Aenir slid off the guar, caught an overhead slash with the top of his shield and swung low, cutting the attacker’s ankle in half. Another slash came from his back. Aenir turned and caught it with the left side of his shield, pushed sideways to expose his opponent’s centreline, and cut him down.

     

                    The Dunmer he’d dismembered a second earlier was thrashing on the ground, howling. Aenir concentrated his full weight into the bottom of his tower shield and bashed his brains out. Then he went to retrieve his spear.

     

                    Larethor had already dispatched another fifteen enemies and was dealing with two mages at once from two directions. Aenir ripped his spear out of the two bodies with brute force and hurled it in a simultaneous motion. The mage on Larethor’s right turned just in time to see the spear come sailing out from thirty feet away and flinched, raising a ward. Aenir’s spear bounced off the spell – then Larethor took two steps forward and thrust his own spear into the mage’s throat. The mage on his left raised her hand and threw a guttering fireball towards his face. Larethor deflected the missile without even looking, and Aenir cleaved her skull open from behind. He picked up his spear again.

     

                    The remaining members of the Telvanni outpost were panicking at this point, which made them easy pickings for the pair. Aenir applied some of the results of his magical training and found it more than sufficient against the mages. Larethor simply did what he always did. Block, thrust, block, thrust, footwork, thrust, thrust, block, thrust – it was over in the time it took to boil water.

     

                    The last combatant was another mage. She backed away slowly, trembling at the bodies strewn across Suran, bleeding into the dirt. Aenir examined her as he advanced. Her hood had fallen back, revealing wavy chocolate-brown hair and a pair of bright red Dunmeri eyes, wide with tears of terror. Well-shaped mouth, better shaped nose; everything in the right place. Curvaceous. Slightly chubby. Not someone that Aenir would have painted when he was young, but there was an earthy, homely attractiveness to her features.

     

                    He had backed her up against a low, crumbling wall. ‘Stay away from me!’ she shrieked, lashing out with a final, desperate volley of ice and lightning. Aenir didn’t even bother to use his shield. A casual ward sent the spells spiraling uselessly into the dull Vvardenfell gloom.

     

                    The mage drew a knife and Aenir swung his spear like a staff, breaking her wrist. As she stumbled, Aenir dropped his weapons and grabbed her, turning her around, pinioning her arms from her back. The Dunmer seemed to realise what was about to happen. She screamed her head off, twisting in a futile effort to loosen Aenir’s grip, sobbing.

     

                    ‘No, no, no! Let me go, let me – kill me, oh gods have mercy just kill me-’

     

                    ‘Commander, here,’ Aenir said, swallowing his disgust. He’s gone four years without… If the Twinstinger didn’t get his relief soon, only the Daedra knew what he was liable to do.

     

                    ‘Captain.’ The Commander’s voice was cold. ‘What are you doing?’

     

                    Aenir blinked. His orders from since the first day he served had been to capture at least one enemy combatant alive for Larethor’s personal use.

     

                    ‘Sir, I thought you always said to-’

     

                    Larethor ripped the wailing Dunmer from his arms by her hair and threw her to the ground, drawing his dagger.

     

                    ‘Greasy – ugly – fat – cunt,’ he roared, plunging the blade four times into her liver. The Twinstinger rose, breathing heavily, and even Aenir couldn’t help but back away.

     

                    ‘Listen, old friend,’ Larethor snarled, deranged flames burning in his eyes. ‘There’s only one person in the world I want to fuck. Only one person. I don’t care about anyone else in the way, understand?’

     

                    Aenir paused before opening his mouth. Larethor clamped his hands down around his arms and shook him, the skeletal grin on the side of his face stretching back to reveal bits of red muscle and skull. ‘DO YOU UNDERSTAND?’

     

                    ‘Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!’

     

                    And then Larethor was patting his shoulders and dusting them off as if nothing had happened.

     

                    ‘Good, good. Sorry about that, old friend. Now let’s go hit the next outpost,’ he said cheerfully. ‘No rest for the wicked!’

     

                    ‘No rest for the wicked,’ Aenir repeated, a dazed laugh crawling its way out of his throat. ‘Hah. Hah hah. As you say, sir.’

     

                    The sun wasn’t even close to setting yet. Larethor mounted his guar and rode off westwards.

     

                    Aenir followed. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Comments

4 Comments   |   A-Pocky-Hah! and 2 others like this.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  July 3
    Was wondering when Larethor would be back. And here he is. Great chapter, some new characters. Your take on Orcs is quite different, they seem almost more Orisiumish rather than true stronghold Orcs with their civility and different customs. 
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  July 3
    Interesting character introduction. I might have to wait and see how this turns out before I can give an opinion on Yaga.


    On the bright side, at least no one will have to suffer from Larethor's 
    • A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      Interesting character introduction. I might have to wait and see how this turns out before I can give an opinion on Yaga.


      On the bright side, at least no one will have to suffer from Larethor's 
        ·  July 3
      I meant the chapter, not Yaga, sorry.
      Goddamit, I wish there was an option to edit blog comments on mobile *grumbles*
    • A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      A-Pocky-Hah!
      Interesting character introduction. I might have to wait and see how this turns out before I can give an opinion on Yaga.


      On the bright side, at least no one will have to suffer from Larethor's 
        ·  July 3
      Little Stinger anymore. Well, maybe except Harrow, but who cares about him. :D