Protected, no longer; Chapter 27


    Chapter 27


    The Daedra looked at him with a careless expression. It was a different one and its mouth moved, but Ciel’nn couldn’t hear a thing. The only thing he heard was the time distortion struck in the distance. Is this in the same reality as in the previous dream? He felt his heart racing as if something dangerous was approaching and he looked at the Daedra again.

    It beckoned him to follow. Ciel’nn frowned and the Daedra beckoned again. Against his better judgment, Ciel’nn began to follow — where else could he go? They walked on the the blood red colored path that soon changed into a crimson glass floor. In Ciel’nn’s eyes it looked fragile and perilous as he was constantly narrowing eyes and frowning. A huge blackened tower came into view and it gave Ciel’nn an immediate volatile reaction to turn back and run away. He felt really bad as if he couldn’t breathe anymore. The Daedra hissed something, but Ciel’nn didn’t care.

    After he had run a lot, Ciel’nn collapsed on a a pile of blackish stones and tried to breathe. He was afraid, so afraid…

    “Ciel’nn, wake up!” someone called at him. It sounded distant but familiar.

    “Wake up!”

    The Dunmer was writhing on his bedroll and Rangalen had woken up to it. It seemed like a very bad dream from the looks of it — he was writhing like he was in pain and the face twisting. Rangalen decided to wake up his friend before he’d hurt himself. “Ciel’nn, wake up!” he said and shook the Dunmer’s shoulder. It didn’t seem to work, making the young warrior frown. “Wake up!” he called to the Dunmer. Don’t do this to me! Rangalen observed his friend until the Dunmer opened his eyes.

    Returning to reality felt like a shock after what Ciel’nn had seen in… where ever it was. Ciel’nn eyes shot wide open and took a panic-like breather and stared at the Nord. “Shh, it’s going to be alright.” He heard Rangalen saying and felt the strong hand on his shoulder, reassuring. Ciel’nn prodded himself into a sitting position and hugged his knees, slightly shivering. It had been too much. “The.. Tower..” He whimpered but his voice trailed off. Being still afraid of the horrors in his nightmare, Ciel’nn only stared into somewhere and was unable to focus on anything. He’d need a safe place where he could hide himself.

    “What? The Tower? What do you mean? Are you alright, Ciel’nn?” Rangalen asked, frowning even more. He wished they had someone who could help. I feel so helpless when I don’t know what we are up against!  He looked to Ciel’nn, who just sat there, shivering. The chill of early morning was still in the air and their campfire at Hunter’s Rest had burnt away. The Dunmer was afraid of something, but so was the young warrior. “I wish I could help you, Ciel’nn, but I don’t know what to do.” He whispered as he brought the mer closer to him with his right arm.

    The young warrior felt a weight on his shoulder and knew Ciel’nn had fallen asleep again. You’re so fragile. Carefully he reached for the blanket with his left hand and moved it closer to the mer. Better let him sleep and keep watch by myself. His eyes wandered between the trees and Rangalen saw a couple of Torch bugs and Luna moths flying nearby. They brought him peace for some reason and he waited for the sunrise — in a few hours it would rise.

    They had eaten a beef stew that one of the hunters had made for them. Ciel’nn had been quiet since he had woken up and walked beside the young warrior. Last night’s nightmare had made him more tired and anxious than usual. His future wasn’t going to be bright by all accounts. “We could try and ask the priests in Solitude.” He heard the young warrior saying. Ciel’nn looked to his friend, “I can’t.”

    “Why not?” Rangalen asked as he glanced at the Dunmer. What could be the possible cause that the mer couldn’t go the city? It really made him wonder. He looked ahead down the road, pondering. “It can’t be that serious, can it?”

    Ciel’nn sighed, guessing he’d better tell. “I made one officer angry. He had this expensive looking sapphire ring.” He saw how Rangalen’s brows shot up and continued, “I followed him to the Winking Skeever and he got hooked up with some woman.” He paused and frowned at his memory. “I waited a while before they went to their rented room— I sneaked in their room and took the ring. The officer saw it, though.”

    “Did he chase you?” Rangalen asked after he calmed down from his shock. “More importantly, did you get caught?” He couldn’t believe the mer had done such thing. “Why did you do that anyway?” he wanted but he kept it inside him. The young warrior didn’t like the Imperials, but he didn’t want to annoy the mer with more questioning. Knowing how Nord prisons were - he didn’t want to know how Imperial prisons were. Of course, he had heard rumors which made his skin prickle. He didn’t want to see Ciel’nn getting caught by the Imperials.

    A clever smirk bloomed on the corner of Ciel’nn’s mouth, “He tried to chase me, but I heard him stumbling over the bed with a crash. I spent the following night down the sewer below the market.” He scoffed. “I did it for the food. I didn’t have any gold at the time and I was hungry. Later I heard he had alerted the city watch to look out for me.” Not fond memories, but Ciel’nn had had a bit fun getting the ring. He was certain the officer would remember him even if it was two years ago.

    “The sewers aren’t a nice place to spend a night.” Rangalen said thoughtfully. “Still, we need a priest or someone who knows how to help you. There should be three priests.” He continued. “Are you feeling any better? How’s the leg?”

    Ciel’nn tilted his head slightly as he felt his leg,”I don’t know. My leg is feeling better though.” He thought a moment. “Nightmares are getting worse,” he glanced at the young warrior. “I’m sorry if you had to spend the rest of the night awake.” His voice was close to breaking.

    The young warrior stopped and turned to the mer, looking into Ciel’nn’s eyes and placed his hand on the mer’s shoulder, “You don’t need to be sorry. I can handle it even if I’m a bit tired, but I’ll manage.” He smiled, “Do you want to talk about the nightmare?” Please tell me! Let me hear what you’re going through. Rangalen was certain his eyes reflected his thoughts as he noted a shift in the mer’s expression. “Alright, but not here. Next time we camp,” he heard Ciel’nn sighing. Rangalen nodded, changing the subject, “So, we need a disguise for you if we’re going to Solitude.”

    The two archers lazily observed the area around them, on the ramp of Robber’s Gorge as Ciel’nn observed them in turn. “They don’t look like the Bear-head warriors. More like regular bandits”, he concluded his observation and looked to the young warrior. “Think we can handle them? It would be good enough place to rest.” He knew Rangalen was tired, but they had no better place to go. The young warrior seemed to be thinking and Ciel’nn waited while he pushed a stray lock of his hair behind his ear.

    It was better to do it now than a few hours later when it was darker.

    Rangalen pondered their situation. He was tired he admitted it, but he didn’t want to stay another night out in the open either. “I can deal with the first one,” he heard the mer suggesting. “Hmm,” the young warrior replied, thinking. “Alright, then.” He wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. “Do be careful, your leg— “

    “I’m feeling better. I’ll make sure to make a good start before you follow in, okay?” Ciel’nn said while checking his bow — he had bought arrows from a hunter in Rorikstead and they weren’t the quality he usually used, but it had to do for now. He still had some of the poison left which he had decided to use carefully on selected targets that would matter greatly. “You ready? We’ll get rest after this is done.”

    The mer left and Rangalen waited for some time. He really hoped this battle would go well as he kept his eyes on the ramp and one of the two bandits collapsed on the ramp, falling over the edge. Shot by an arrow, he guessed and witnessed the second bandit gasping and holding his neck before collapsing on the ramp. He waited bit more before Rangalen crept closer to the ramp and drew his sword.

    “That was the last bandit,” Rangalen sighed deeply as he shut the trapdoor. He had been dragging the nearest bandits to the trapdoor and pushed them down. It had been tiring work and he was ready to sit down to rest. Walking out of the small cottage, the young warrior saw the mer at the campfire, trying to cook something. Ciel’nn’s look was more than displeased. “What’s wrong?” Rangalen asked while he took a stride towards the campfire.

    Looking up from his cooking, Ciel’nn nearly cursed, “Skyrim food is so bland! How anyone can cook with ingredients like this is beyond me.” He scoffed as attempted to continue to make better rabbit haunches seasoning. “If we were in Morrowind, I’d make better food.” Another scoff. “I didn’t know you can cook,” he heard Rangalen saying softly.  “Well, that’s another story for another night,” the mer replied as he checked the rabbit haunches. It’ll have to do.

    “This tastes better than what they offer at the Inns,” Rangalen commented on his rabbit haunch.”It’s delicious!” He took another bite and savored the taste. “I may let you do the cooking from now on.” He was joking of course and became serious. The young warrior thought to ask about the nightmares, but decided it was better to wait for the mer to speak. And, if he didn’t want to talk about it— Rangalen wasn’t going to push him.

    Not even the lighthearted joke made the Dunmer smile while he started the flames. He was glad that the young warrior liked the rabbit haunch, but his mind was darker as he was preparing to speak about the nightmare. Thinking about it, made Ciel’nn’s chest heavy and anxious. He took a deep breath before he began, “There is already a Daedra to meet me. Places changes, but I guess they’re in Oblivion.” He felt a shiver going down his spine, but continued. “There was this tower where the Daedra was taking me. It felt like… like life was being crushed under a heavy weight.” Ciel’nn paused to take a breather and reached out into his backpack. His hand found the small lava stone and pulled it out. “When I’m there, I feel there is no escape and no one can help,” the mer said with his voice fading away while his fingers played with the lava stone.

    The way his friend had said the last line — it had an eerie sound to it and Rangalen felt his skin prickle. He had no idea how horrible the nightmares were for Ciel’nn. No, he could only imagine being alone with a fearsome Daedra and no way out.  He reached out and put his hand on the mer’s shoulder. “I’m sorry you have to have those nightmares. I wish I could do something.” He prayed  in his mind to Talos, Shor, even Kyne for aid for Ciel’nn. “But there is nothing you can do,” he heard the Dunmer saying quietly and frowned. He hated being not able to help his friend, or anyone who was close to him.

    Ciel’nn glanced at the Nord. Hopelessness shone from his misty blue eyes, but he was partly glad Rangalen didn’t have the nightmares he had. The tower— he had no idea what it meant, but clearly it was something ominous to him. “You should rest while you can. I’ll take the first watch.” Ciel’nn’s voice was like a quiet whisper in the wind. He noticed  the Nord was going to say something, but the mer frowned and shook his head. “Rest. I’ll be fine.”


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3 Comments   |   GailOlm and 2 others like this.
  • A Shadow Under the Moons
    A Shadow Under the Moons   ·  November 17, 2017
    Hmm, Ciel'nn walking in a plane of Oblivion? I'm pegging it as the Deadlands too, but we haven't seen much of Dagon in this story yet... and my knowledge of deities is horribleeee.
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  September 7, 2017
    It's good to see Ciel finally coming out with the truth, because their friendship might have needed precisely that, 'cause they certainly seemed on edge. Also, the nightmare, the imagery... Very good. Grim, dark and omnipotent, very good. Still got no clu...  more
  • GailOlm
    GailOlm   ·  September 6, 2017
    I'm glad that Ciel’nn revealed more about himself to
    Rangalen, such as taking the ring from the officer, the fact that he can cook,
    and of course some details about his nightmares.