Protected, no longer; Chapter 32

  • Chapter 32

     

    “Look at me, whelp!” Maltrys sneered in a venomous tone.

    Ciel’nn looked from his mother’s dead body to the old mer. Something shifted dangerously inside him. His hands became fists. Maltrys himself was a twisted sight to look at.

    He was alone with the twisted elder.

    “Look, whelp!” The mer sneered. “The bitch’s soul is in this soulgem and I shall reach my goal! ” Maltrys’ lips curled into a sinister smile while he showed the soulgem in a taunting manner. “You are next! You’re nothing but a failure! I can finally make offerings to Molag Bal!” The mer half turned away to put the soulgem onto his desk.

    Ciel’nn shifted as something inside him cracked and shifted. He had had enough of Maltrys and of the darkness that he brought to the family, of everything! The sick mer had taken the only person Ciel’nn cared for on Nirn. There was no stopping him…

    His fear took another form of anger and fury as he grabbed his chitin dagger that was coated in poison. His move was quiet but as deadly as the stab that was aimed at Maltrys’ heart. Ciel’nn made sure the stab was deep enough; for the length of the blade as it sunk into the mer’s chest.

    The old twisted mer gasped as he stared straight into Ciel’nn’s flaming eyes that reflected deep hatred. “No more.” Ciel’nn found out he never had uttered the words out as icy cold as he did now. He wasn’t afraid anymore. Maltrys didn’t show remorse or regret - there was only a surprised look in his eyes. It was something the young mer had expected - the old mer was cold as a rock.

    Ciel’nn twisted the dagger, making Maltrys groan in the process, and he found it delightful. He pulled the dagger out rather cruelly before he stepped aside and let the mer collapse on the floor, bleeding. As he watched the mer twitching due to the poison and dying slowly, Ciel’nn felt the rush of excitement after the first blood on his hands and the calmness that came after it. It was a strange sensation.

    He had lashed out for the first time. Ciel’nn looked to his dagger and bloodied hands for a moment - these shall be his weapons, his tools of trade.

    He stepped over dead Maltrys to take the soulgem that contained his mother’s soul. “Mother…” His voice cracked as he took a deep breath as tears came rolling down.  He put the soulgem into his bag and turned to look at his mother’s dead body for the last time.

    Ciel’nn ran through the corridor and door, out into the night.



    It hurts…

    The Dremora Lord’s grip during the leap through the portal was so tight that Ciel’nn thought it was going to leave bruises on his arm and side. His shoulder was on fire, making his arm nearly useless. Struggling seemed to be pointless, so he had stopped it. From his point of view, he didn’t have much choice in anything anymore. I’m probably going to die… Ciel’nn cast his eyes absently on the ground that wasn’t there, beaten.

    There was no escape and he was completely alone - he knew it, but he wasn’t going to die without a fight even if it would be futile. Being alone wasn’t new to him, but captured by a creature of Oblivion was something else, entirely.

    Marquis didn’t talk during the leap. He had a tight hold on the Dunmer  and he was satisfied. Once they’d reached his destination… There were plans to make happen. His plans for the Dunmer and he was close to reaching his goal - it made him feel powerful, not that he was already, and invisible. Something made him frown in an almost concerned manner. It wasn’t that the Dunmer whimpered about the arrow on his shoulder.

    They made it through the leap and landed somewhere in Oblivion. A pocket of Oblivion that the Dremora Lord hadn’t expected.

    Marquis grumbled in a low a snarl and shifted the mortal in his arms so he could pull the arrow off. Ciel’nn screamed in agony and fell on his knees holding his shoulder, which made The Dremora Lord grin in satisfaction. “Be quiet.” He hissed and looked around. “This isn’t the place!” He roared in anger. This wasn’t his hideout. No, it was somewhere between the pockets because Marquis didn’t recognize the area. Another hiss escaped from him and he looked to the whimpering mortal next to him. “Not so protected anymore, are you? So much for Sithis!” What a pitiful sight!

    Ciel’nn winced and groaned in constant pain as the Dremora Lord grabbed his arm and dragged him along the pathway. “You N’wah!” He hissed weakly, and Marquis only snarled back without further twisting his arm. It seemed the monster was worried about something. “Doesn’t Oblivion shift according to your plans, you s’wit!”

    Before the Dunmer was falling back to despair and hopelessness; a familiar feeling crept through Ciel’nn’s senses and he looked around. He couldn’t see anything that he’d call familiar to him, but where it had come from? His eyes surveyed the path ahead and the Dunmer’s eyes widened in a mix of shock and disbelief.  In front of the Dremora Lord, slowly appeared an apparition that looked very much like to his cousin, wounded. Ciel’nn gasped as if to trying to breathe. Ce’vale…

    A flash of anger and rage worked through his body, replacing his previous mood.
    “What have you done to my cousin, you scum? What have you done??!” Ciel’nn shouted and tried to get free of the grip. He was determined to get free even if it made his shoulder ache some more. He gritted together his teeth as Ciel’nn tried to reach his dagger on his belt. The Dremora Lord wasn’t paying attention to him even if his grip was still tight. Ciel’nn took a good hold on the hilt of his dagger and  with a shift in motion he slashed it at a tiny gap between the Dremora Lord’s armor - armor that looked like new to the Dunmer’s eyes.

    Marquis hissed even though the slash had been only a sting and didn’t do any harm. “You’ll end like him, according to my plan and then I shall be - “ He stopped and abruptly hit the Dunmer’s face, sending Ciel’nn onto the ground as the Dremora Lord let go of him. The mortal had become an annoying and infuriating thing to deal with. I could kill him here, right now. He looked to the Dunmer, who hissed as if he was ready to fight him. A fool’s notion. The fragile mortal tries to get up and lash out at me. As fun as this has been; I have plans to finish and I need his soul to do it.

    Ciel’nn watched in defiance and anger as the Dremora Lord raised his gauntleted hand with a Daedric blade to finish him. He didn’t have regrets - only that he wasn’t able to save his beautiful Celani from the Dremora Lord. As the last line of defense Ciel’nn raised his dagger to protect himself. Not without a fight.

    The Dremora Lord brought down his blade to kill the Dunmer, being certain that the mortal would be finished. He would have his plans fulfilled - his ambition had grown into new lengths. Marquis could almost taste it and it was rich and delicious.

    “Ah, Zakseus.” A familiar voice said with a purring tone before she appeared in front of Marquis and held his blade in mid air.

    Marquis let out a great annoyed hiss as he found his blade held in place and him staring straight at the Enforcer’s flaming yellow eyes. “Enforcer Kliksaath.” The Dremora snarled as he realized she hadn’t come alone. There was someone else close by, very close by, but it was beyond his vision as the Enforcer was close to him and holding his damned blade. He wanted to roar as much as he tried to press his blade, but it was firmly held in place.

    “You’ve ran out of luck.” Kliksaath stated bluntly, staring directly at the red eyes of Marquis.“We thought you were using this route sooner or later, so we’ve kept an eye on it.” She paused as she felt the Dunmer shifting between them. “I’ll take the mortal. You’ll need to answer for your disobedience, Zakseus. You may have your ways on Nirn, but I have the full power in here. You should have chosen wiser.”

    “You’re not taking him anywhere! He’s mine!” Marquis shouted furiously as he let his blade go and tried to get away from the Enforcer. “Why are you protecting him? He’s better with me, with my plans!” To add to his rage, Kliksaath smiled mysteriously at him.

    Ciel’nn wasn’t sure what was going on, but it seemed he was spared, again! Maybe it the was twisted ways of his luck - if luck existed at all. The female Daedra seemed to be on his side, but Ciel’nn was still uncertain of things. Somehow he had ended up in the middle of Daedra schemes. The Dunmer didn’t want to know what plans Marquis had for him, but he was almost curious about the Enforcer even though he was still afraid of his own fate.

    The Enforcer Kliksaath threw the blade away and side stepped the Dunmer, her eyes still on Marquis. “Enforcer Taserath, keep an eye on the mortal, will you?” She said to another Dremora Lord behind her, taking out her long sword. She didn’t see, but sensed her companion giving a short nod, always the quiet one. Kliksaath flashed a sinister smile at Marquis. “It’s so gratifying when you refuse, Zakseus.” In a blink of an eye, she leaped and slashed at Marquis with all her might and strength.

    Ciel’nn watched the Daedra fight breaking out in front him in awe, before he stood up as fast as he could and dashed into opposite direction. He ignored the pain the best he could and hoped the portal was still open - maybe it was a fool’s notion, he had to try it. Better than to stay under the Daedra’s eyes. Ciel’nn managed to get away, but he noticed he ran straight to Taserath, who looked down at him. It was as if the Daedra was about to sigh. The Dunmer hissed and ran in another direction.

    Taserath watched the mortal run and sighed. Why do the mortals have to make it difficult? His eyes followed the mortal for a while before he shifted again.

    Marquis hissed as he barely dodged the Enforcer’s furious slash. To his dismay, he had found out they were almost equals - he and Kliksaath. Only the bitch was more crazy with her moves, and if he wasn’t careful it would be the end for him. Marquis snarled as he parried the Enforcer’s strike with his second blade. Each strike drained his strength. Deep inside him, Marquis knew he had no chances against an Enforcer, but he refused to go before the Master.

    “You’ll face the consequences of your chosen actions, Zakseus! I’ll rend you docile layer by layer if I have to! Your new armor won’t help you!” Kliksaath hissed and lashed out, aiming the tip of her longsword directly at the center of Marquis’ armor. It cracked away a layer and crumbled away like sand blown by the wind. She laughed at him as Marquis gasped in disbelief, and prepared for another assault.

    Looking for an escape, Ciel’nn wasn’t sure where he’d go. The place might be as well be as a big round pocket of Oblivion. He hit his still healthy fist on the ground in frustration and looked up sharply as the watchful Daedra had caught up to him easily. Ciel’nn narrowed his eyes as he stood up, staring at the tall Daedra, who stared back at him. The creature of Oblivion shook his head slightly and didn’t seem to move against him, but just observed. Still, the Dunmer shifted his foot intending to run away once more.

    A layer of his armor cracked again and Marquis hissed. If this kept going he’d be defenseless against the Enforcer. He brought his blade in front of him as he kept his eyes on his opponent, who dared to smile wickedly at him. She didn’t even look like as exhausted as he was damn near it. He couldn’t hold out much longer. I still might have a chance to kill the cursed Dunmer. “I’ll give in.” He hissed reluctantly. The Enforcer seemed to be satisfied, but still frowned a fraction as if she doubted him.

    For a second no one moved before Marquis turned abruptly and leaped towards the Dunmer. He still had a chance, he kept thinking to himself. Ciel’nn was his and nobody else’s! His gauntleted hand prepared to strike for the kill. The Dunmer was closer, just a bit more and - Marquis let out a gurgle as he felt another gauntleted hand grabbing him by his arm and neck, sending him directly face first on the ground with a violent snarl and a loud crack. He didn’t have time to react before he felt the spell from Kliksaath, a spell that imprisoned him. The Dremora Lord let out a low hiss as he realized it was Taserath, who had intervened between him and the mortal. Damn them all!

    Ciel’nn wasn’t able to recover from his shock as he had seen the Dremora Lord jumping at him. He had thought his end was then and there, but it wasn’t the case. The other Daedra had covered him just in the nick of time and the Dunmer wondered how long he was favored.  His eyes shifted to look at the female Daedra and as he looked past her, Ciel’nn saw another ghost of a female Dunmer standing behind Kliksaath. The ghost looked at him directly and Ciel’nn realized it was the lady Dunmer from his dreams. A strange sensation crept through him as he saw her saying something, but he couldn’t make out what.

    “Taserath, make sure Zakseus won’t escape, or try anything. I’ll speak with the mortal.” Enforcer Kliksaath said and walked over to the Dunmer, putting her longsword on her back. She looked to Ciel’nn, and to his surprise she spoke quietly in Dunmeric so that her companion wouldn’t hear her. “Ciel’nn Sarion, we finally meet. I’m Kliksaath, bound and sent by your ancestor, Cira Llethan. We don’t have much time. We must go, now.” She beckoned him to follow close by.

    Ciel’nn stared, his lips parted at the Enforcer. Sent by my ancestor? Ciel’nn didn’t even begin to understand what was going on, but whatever it was, he still felt alone. Alone and confused. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his cousin with a hopeless look. If it was any comfort, he was there with the ghosts of his past. All linked to damned Oblivion.




    The large corridor was lit by the Daedric cones and the walls were decorated by Daedric theme, too. It didn’t remind Ciel’nn about any of his nightmares. He felt beaten and trapped in this horrible place while he had no clue of who they were supposed to meet. Still, his heart raced as they approached the big double doors. He glanced at Marquis, who walked ahead of them, his whole posture was like he had been crushed and given up hope. Behind him was Enforcer Taserath, who made sure the captured fellow Dremora Lord wouldn’t try anything foolish. Enforcer Kliksaath walked next to Ciel’nn, and kept an eye on everything around them.

    The Dunmer still didn’t understand how his ancestor would have sent anyone for him, from the past as it was. How was it even possible? He didn’t even know if he could trust her. All he wanted was to escape from there. He found himself wondering what Rangalen might be doing at the moment. Ciel’nn missed the Nord. He wanted to feel his strong arms around him, just to feel safe. His lower lip quivered as he fought against the tears. Will he see the Nord again?

    The big doors opened and the four walked into a large hall. Ciel’nn felt the gaze of the creatures in the shadows - the Daedra guarding the hall no doubt. In the center of the floor was a symbol of some sort and it was lit up by some light device. He heard the whispers from the shadows as they walked closer the center. Ahead of them was a throne-like dais with a figure of a Daedra.

    “We’ve been expecting you, Enforcer Kliksaath. We’ll begin immediately with Zakseus,” said the figure from the throne, now visible for them. “Wait aside with the mortal.”

    “Yes, Avatar of Mehrunes Dagon.” Kliksaath prodded the Dunmer to move aside and wait.

    “Taserath, bring forth Zakseus.”  The Avatar prompted and Taserath rudely pushed the captured Dremora Lord onto the symbol. Without a word, he moved aside to wait.

    Ciel’nn couldn’t help but stay close to Kliksaath as he felt he didn’t belonged in that place. He watched how Marquis first was accused for not doing what he was asked to. The next issue was that he had wounded the mortal against the Avatar’s will and it had been absolute notion to follow.

    “The mortals won’t cooperate with us if we injure them, let alone kill them!” The Avatar hissed at Marquis. It was quiet for a short time as a breather. “I’ve let you run on your own for too long, to build your own ambitions. Do you, fool, think I wasn’t aware of your insignificant plans? Look at me, you worthless worm!” Its voice was commanding, and Marquis looked up to the figure. “I’m done with you! You’ll be punished accordingly. Your time is over! Slitzrath! See that this worm is brought to his hole for waiting for his punishment.”

    Another Dremora Lord stepped out of the shadows and grabbed Marquis to take him away. Ciel’nn didn’t want to know how Daedra would dispose of unwanted ones, but it was obvious the Dremora Lord would die, eventually. His heart raced as he was called forth and Kliksaath walked with him to the symbol. Ciel’nn wanted to look away and wanted to be somewhere else. He felt so small, so vulnerable.

    “Now, mortal, Ciel’nn…” The Avatar said as it laid its eyes on the Dunmer. “You’re difficult to reach, but of course we blame Zakseus for it. You are here because of breaking the contract that was delivered to you by my mortal agents. Was the council member a relative to you? Well, it doesn’t matter anymore.” It thought a moment, slightly frowning.

    “I’ll kill the next one. Just say -” Ciel’nn said out of his turn, trying to plead. He had to try something - dying there wasn’t on his list today.

    “It’s too late for that, mortal.” The Avatar cut him off.  “Your chance is long gone, but I think there’s still something that we could make it even.” It smiled wickedly. “You wasted our time by avoiding Zakseus so long that I think it’s time we take something from you.”

    Ciel’nn found it hard to swallow. His stomach twisted as he tried to think what they wanted from him. He didn’t have anything valuable with him. The Dunmer noticed Kliksaath just standing near him, and waiting for something. Why didn’t she help him since she was sent by his ancestor?

    “That soulgem you’re carrying around.” The Avatar whispered.

    “No…” The Dunmer took a step back by instinct. The soulgem had his mother’s soul and it meant everything to him. Ciel’nn couldn’t even begin to think of using it. He had kept it safe for all these years. How did they know about it? No…

    “You have two options; either you will destroy the soulgem, or you will die.” The Avatar said in a chilly tone as it leaned back in the throne chair. “Lord Mehrunes Dagon would be satisfied if you’d destroy it by a hammer over there.” It pointed at the hammer on a decorated table. “Then you’ll be free to go.”

    It felt like being crushed under a bigger hammer that would break all your dreams, your hopes and leaving nothing after. Ciel’nn collapsed on his knees and bit his lower lip as he cast his eyes down - he didn’t want this. It was the last thing close to home for him, and the damned Avatar had given him the ultimatum. Either of the options wasn’t good. A part of him wanted to flee, but another part of him knew it was pointless and he’d be killed if he even tried to.

    “Well, what’ll be?” The Avatar asked, waiting.

    “I…” The Dunmer mumbled. “I…”

    Someone help…

    The Avatar opened its mouth to speak, but it was interrupted by the opening of a portal. A figure stepped out and walked into the light. “The Webspinner is offering another choice for the mortal.” Ciel’nn raised his head to glance at the figure, who seemed to be Daedra. Suddenly he felt he was being played by the Daedric Princes. Mephala has sent an agent for me? Ciel’nn was dumbstruck as he couldn’t believe it.

    “The Spinner’s choice is that you use the soulgem on your favorite dagger, and in exchange you’ll be returned to Nirn.” The agent of the Spinner explained, only to Ciel’nn and ignoring the Avatar of Mehrunes Dagon’s glares.

    Ciel’nn glanced at the enchanting table in the far corner of the hall. The table with the hammer was on the other side of the hall. He knew he didn’t had much time left, so he stood up and dashed towards the enchanting table. It still hurt to use the gem, but he had no choice in the matter.

    With a heavy heart and on the edge of tears, Ciel’nn took the soulgem and his chitin dagger from his backpack. He looked at them while drawing a deep sigh. I never wanted it to come to this. It is too much to bear. I’m sorry, mother. He took the soulgem onto his hand and began.




    Ciel’nn found himself at the flower field with his mother, Mirane. She looked still beautiful and understanding as on the day they had spent collecting plants. Ciel’nn took a few steps and rushed to hug his mother tightly, tears rolling down his cheeks. “I’m sorry, mother. I didn’t want this.” Mirane hugged him back, whispering. “It’ll be alright, Ciel’nn. You’ll endure. You’ll always have, and will.”

    I don’t know if I will.

    “Perhaps it’s time to visit  the homeland, Ciel’nn,” Ce’vale’s voice echoed through the realm. “Remember the place where we camped for the first time?”

    I miss you, cousin.



    When Ciel’nn came to, he was lying on his back on a broken piece of a wall. He had no memory of what had happened after he enchanted the dagger that was gripped tightly in his hand. His shoulder ached beyond his tolerance level. The Dunmer felt weakened and he hadn’t had  the strength to even sit up. Something else was off - Ciel’nn felt like he was dying as he stared at the endless space of Oblivion - the ever drifting plane. He closed his eyes, feeling tired and exhausted. I miss the Nord. His misty blue eyes, his smile… His head shifted to the side as he gave up, with no hope to return to Nirn.



    “We have to find him!” Kliksaath hissed once she emerged from the portal. Something had gone really wrong after the events of the meeting, and they were separated. The Grand Enforcer suspected the time distortion when the gem had touched the dagger - she had seen it. She had to find the mortal before it was too late. She wouldn’t fail her task.

    Kliksaath hissed again, and moved on. She was followed by Taserath, who was still quiet. He only let out an occasional grunt when the Grand Enforcer hissed something about the mortal.

    It took them some time to find the Dunmer lying on a slowly vanishing structure. Kliksaath leaped towards it and took the mortal in her arms, studying the torn face. She frowned. “He’s fading! We need to open a portal to Nirn! Now!” The Grand Enforcer jumped away from the structure and waited for Taserath to open the portal.

    “Where do you want it?” Taserath asked in a low tone.
    “To his friends, by the pond and the Talos statue. The Dragonborn can help him.” Kliksaath replied as she brushed carefully the stray hair off Ciel’nn’s face. She frowned at the scars. “Those will fade in time once Zakseus is dealt with. Maybe he’ll realize one day the mark was for his protection on the other side.” Her voice softened a fraction as she said it. “Ancestral protection as the Dunmer says. “Never thought I’d be part of it.”

    “The portal is open, Grand Enforcer.” Taserath said. “I’ll wait here for your return.”
    “Let’s return him to where he belongs.” Kliksaath mused and stepped through the portal.

     

     

    Back to ToC

Comments

2 Comments   |   The Lorc of Flowers likes this.
  • The Lorc of Flowers
    The Lorc of Flowers   ·  November 29
    Well, that was interesting. And Black Hands Mephala decided to offer a different choice. Of course she does. Still must have been quite painful experience, to more or less destroy the last reminder of his mother, trapping the soul in a dagger for a change.
  • William McNee
    William McNee   ·  November 29
    Some payback for Ciel'nn at last. Kliksaath being his 'protector' came as a surprise. Hope Marquis is dealt with painfully...;)