Walk with the Shadows Ch 4


    Walk with the Shadows

    Chapter Four: Whiterun

        After completing a few jobs for the Guild in Solitude, capital of Skyrim to the far North West of the province, Lucina returns to Riften. A quick stop in at the Bee and Barb to check on her stash and she makes her way to the Ragged Flagon. After checking in with Vex and Delvin, she sits down for a hot meal and some Ale. When Vekel walks over with the food, he tells her, “You should know… Brynjolf was looking for you yesterday. Seemed important.” She takes the Salmon steaks she ordered and hands him a few Septims, “Any idea what it was about?” Vekel just shrugs, “Didn’t say. Just told me he wanted to see you when you came back. Shouldn’t keep him waiting.” He returns to the bar and Lucina eats her food.


       As Lucina walks into the Cistern, she sees Brynjolf heading into a back passage that leads to a practice room. There are several chests to practice picking locks of varying complexity, attack dummies and archery targets. Lucina finds Brynjolf watching some of the guild members, Vipir The Fleet and Rune, honing their skills. He nods to Lucina. “You wanted to see me?” She asks. Brynjolf pulls back his hood, “Aye. I got a message from Maven wanting a meeting with you in the Bee and Barb. She asked for you, by name.” With a confused expression, Lucina says, “Maven? This about the Golden Glow job? Thought I did the job like she wanted.” Brynjolf smiles, “No no, lass. If it was like that, she’d be calling on the Dark Brotherhood. She probably has another job for you. Don’t bother asking me the details. That’s between you and Maven. Best that way. I’ll send word to her that you’re back. She’ll meet you at the Inn. Do NOT keep her waiting.” Detecting the sincerity in his voice, Lucina just nods then leaves the Cistern.


       Back at the Inn, Lucina sits in a hot bath and contemplates the situation she finds herself in, “Maven Black-Briar… The Jarl of Riften is in bed with the Guild. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Best way to protect your power.” She relaxes down in the tub, “Why is she asking for me though? I’m new here. You’d think she’d be calling on some of the veteran guild members… A test, maybe??” Just then, there is a knock at the door. Keerava enters, “The uh… Jarl is here. She’s asking for you.” Lucina sighs and nods to Keerava, “Thanks. I’ll be out in a minute.” Keerava lays some towels on the table beside Lucina and leaves.


       Having left her armor in the bathroom to be cleaned by Talen-Jei, Lucina exits in a common green dress. She looks to a small nook where sits Maven. Lucina walks over to her, “A meeting with Jarl herself… What can I do ya, for?” Maven stands and looks Lucina over, “So you’re the one… You don’t look so impressive.” Lucina just tilts her head, “You think that’s a good thing or a bad thing for a thief? We gonna chit chat all night or can we get to business?” Maven smiles, “You’re a firebrand aren’t you? About time Brynjolf sent me someone with business sense. I was thinking he was running some kind of beggars guild over there.”  Lucina responds, “No faith in the guild, eh?” Maven’s laughs, “Faith? I don’t have ‘faith’ in anyone. All I care about is cause and effect. Was the job done and was it done correctly? There’s no grey area.” Lucina just shrugs, “Glad to see we’re on the same page… So, what’s the job?” Maven leans back against a wall, “I have a competitor in Whiterun. Honningbrew Meadery. I want them put out of business. I also want to know how they got the place up and running so quickly.” As they go over the details, Lucina learns of a contact she is to meet with and notices Maven becoming noticeably agitated. Odd for someone of such prominence.


       The next day, Talen-Jei knocks on Lucina’s door with her cleaned armor and he asks, “You heading out, again?” Lucina looks the armor over, “Yeah. Got some business in Whiterun.” Talen-Jei hesitates a moment, “Can I ask you for something. I know I haven’t been that hospitable to you, but…” Lucina turns, “What is it?” Talen-Jei takes a deep breath, “I know in your… line of work, you come across a lot of Gems. If you… If you come across three flawless Amethysts… could you bring them to me? I’d pay you, of course.” Lucina just raises an eyebrow at him. He fidgets a moment, “They’re for a.. Ring… I’m going to ask Keerava to marry me. The amethysts symbolize the couple to be wed on either side and the Hist at the center. They must be flawless though… It probably doesn’t mean anything to an Imperial, but… It’s important to us.” Lucina smirks at him and gives him a light punch to the arm, “Good for you. I’ll keep an eye out.” He thanks her and backs out of the room.


       The sun is setting when the carriage pulls into Whiterun. Lucina pays the driver and looks around. The driver tells her a bit about the city before she heads inside. Doesn’t take her long to find a beggar. An old man in rags wandering the streets. The towns folk he passes keep a distance from him, so when Lucina approaches him, he is confused and suspicious. “What.. What do you want?” he asks. Lucina smiles, “Just to give an old man some drinking money.” She hands him a small purse. The old man looks at her as if she is the first person to treat him with any kindness in years. He says, “Thank you… Divines bless you…” The man hasn’t had a bath in months at least. The musk coming off of him is pungent, but Lucina puts her arm around him anyway, “Come on old timer, it’s a cold night. Let’s get a hot meal in you.”


       They enter the Bannered Mare Inn and Lucina orders up some Horker steaks and potatoes with some Honningbrew mead. While they eat, the old beggar gives her all the gossip in town. Where the wealthy folks live, being a point of interest. Warns her away from the large mead hall in the city. When she learns of the Companions, she agrees that it’s too dangerous a place to try and hit. Last thing the Guild needs is a bunch of Axe wielding professional killers making life difficult for them. She spots Maven’s contact at a small table in the back of the Inn. She bids farewell to the old man and gets to the business that brought her to the city… She might pay the more wealthy homes a visit later.


        Maven’s contact is a sleazy little man named Mallus Maccius. When Lucina gets close, he looks up, “Can’t a man drink in peace?!” She smacks him in the back of his head and sits down at his table. She grabs his bottle of mead and sniffs it, “Guh… what is this swill?” She puts the bottle back, “Maven sent me to help you, Fetcher… But I could just slit your throat and leave you in an alley…” Mallus rubs his neck, “Uh… Yes… well… I’ll just get right to it then...“ He goes on to explain how the meadery’s owner is hosting a tasting for the captain of Whiterun’s guards. “You’re going to poison the mead.” he says. She looks back towards the bar, “You have this poison?” Mallus smiles eerily, “No no… That’s the beauty of the whole plan. We’re going to get Sabjorn to give us the poison. See, the meadery has a bit of a pest problem. Poison and Mead don’t mix well.” Lucina looks at Mallus, “So how do I fit in?” He leans on the table, “You’re going to -happen by- and offer poor old Sabjorn a helping hand.  Poison the nest then sneak into the brewery and dump the rest in the vats.” Lucina leans back in her chair, “Hmmm… not bad…” Mallus takes a drink of his Mead, “Maven and I spent weeks planning this. Now get going before Sabjorn grows a brain and hires someone else to do it.” Lucina gets a few more details out of the slimy little man before heading out.

       As she nears the main gate, the doors open and a pair of steel clad warriors enter the city. A guard stands at attention. “Hail the Dragonborn!” he says. The pair proceed down the street and enter a house in the plains district. Lucina knows the word Dragonborn as the name given to the majority of the empire’s rulers over the centuries. Why would the guard call this Nord warrior Dragonborn, she ponders. That man was no emperor… Some light flirting with the guardsmen and she hears much of the Dragonborn’s deeds in killing dragons. She doesn’t believe it at first, but the guard is sincere in his tales. She looks back to the small house, “Not the sort of house you would expect the savior of the world to live in…” The Guard just says, “We are proud to have the Dragonborn as a Thane of our city.” She turns back to the guard with a mischievous grin, “Well, I have to get going…. Maybe I’ll see you later.” Then gives him a wink. “Heh… Alright then… Be, uh.. Safe.” he says nervously. She walks away rolling her eyes and thinks, “The men in this province are too easy… Let’s hope Sabjorn is just as dense.”


       Entering the Honningbrew Meadery outside of town, Lucina finds the owner, Sabjorn, surrounded by dead Skeevers. “What are you gawking at?” he barks. Playing the ignorant traveler, Lucina asks, “Is something wrong?” Obviously annoyed, Sabjorn snaps at her, “Wrong? Look at this mess. I’m supposed to be hosting a tasting of our new Honningbrew Reserve for the Captain of the Guard. If he sees the Meadery in this state, I’ll be ruined.” Lucina rubs her chin, “Well.. I could kill the vermin for you. Not the first time I’ve dealt with the critters.” Sabjorn looks at her suspiciously, “Oh? And I don’t suppose you would do this out of the kindness of your heart. I hope you aren’t expecting to get paid up front for this.” She folds her arms, “Those damn things are dangerous. You want me going into their den for you… it’ll cost ya.” Sabjorn grumbles, “Fine!...” and hands her his purse of gold from his hip then says, “But I want them gone permanently!” Lucina checks the purse, “I can kill the ones in there, but how am I supposed to get rid of them ‘permanently’?” Sabjorn reaches behind the bar, “Here… I got this poison from one of the Khajiit caravans. I was going to have my lazy, good for nothing, assistant, Mallus do this, but he seems to have disappeared.” Lucina takes the bottle, “Alright then... “ Sabjorn looks at the Skeevers on the floor, “Kill every last one of them! I have to get this mess cleaned up before the Captain arrives…”


       Lucina follows the trail of giant rats into the basement. The place is indeed crawling with the vermin. She draws her crossbow and kills the pests as she finds them. Besides the rats, she also finds large Frostbite spiders in the tunnels. The passages reek of a foulness that puts the Cistern to shame. Nothing you wouldn’t expect in a rat’s nest. The spiders have fed well on the pests and grown too large to escape the tunnels. But beyond the spiders, she comes across something that shouldn’t be in these tunnels… Traps. Sabjorn and Mallus didn’t put these down. Sabjorn hasn’t been down this far and Mallus wanted the Skeevers to infest the meadery. “Where did you come from?” she says as she disarms the traps and continues on. Coming to a large open area, she spies several Skeevers. She carefully climbs a rock to get out of reach of the Skeevers before firing her first bolt. The sound of the crossbow echoes in the cave and a voice from deeper in says, “Huh? What was that??” From around a corner a half naked man steps out and Lucina sees sparks surrounding his hands. “A mage?” she thinks to herself, “Little shit… Mallus didn’t say anything about a damned mage being down here…” Lucina dobs some poison on her next bolt before firing on the mage. He needs to be dropped quickly. She didn’t prepare for a mage.


       She aims carefully and fires a bolt into his chest. She misses his heart, but it definitely hits his left lung. Such a puncture causes the lung to lose pressure and collapse. He immediately starts coughing up blood and gasping for air. The Skeevers, that seemed to be his pets, smell the blood and start to close in on him. He backs up firing shock spells at the rats, but is quickly overwhelmed by the ravenous beasts. Once the mage falls, Lucina is free to kill the Skeevers and search for the nest. Doesn’t take long once the pests are dealt with. She finds an alchemy station and a large mound of rubbish with the light squeaking of tiny skeevers. “Ugh…” she says as she pours down some of the poison, “Ugly little things.” She looks back at the mage’s body, “What were you doing down here?” She searches the mage and finds a soul gem, a magicka potion, and a journal. The scribbles reveal him to be a mad Mage’s College reject. Seems he was planning to raise “an army of skeevers” and launch a rain of terror in revenge for their dismissal of him. With planning like this, it’s no wonder the college rejected him. “Old fool, your mind was lost to Sheogorath long ago…” Lucina says as she turns and heads for the tunnel leading to the Brewery.


       Lucina  empties a large sack and packs in several Honning brew bottles before poisoning the vats. Truth be told, Honningbrew is better than Black-Briar, but a job’s a job. When she returns to Sabjorn the Captain and Mallus have arrived. “Jobs done.” she says, “Now where’s the rest of the gold you promised?” Sabjorn motions for her to quiet down, “You’ll just have to wait till the Captain is gone… Wait here if you must.” With that, Mallus brings in a barrel of Honningbrew Reserve and sets it on the bar. Sabjorn joins the Captain. The Captain steps up to the bar, “So, Sabjorn, You ready for me to try some of your mead?” Sabjorn clears his throat, “Of course, Captain. I believe you will find this quite pleasing to your palout. I call it… Honningbrew Reserve.” The Captain scoffs, “Oh come now. This is mead. Not some wine to be sipped and savored.” The captain grabs a tankard and pours a full cup of the poisoned mead. He downs the whole thing in one gulp. He stiffens and begins coughing, “By the Eight… What… what’s in this???” Confused, Sabjorn says, “I… I don’t know. What’s wrong?” The Captain glares at him, “You… I should have known better than to trust this place after… after it’s been riddled with filth!” Sabjorn pleads, “I beg you.. Please. This isn’t what it seems!” The Captain walks over to Mallus, “You… you’re in charge here until I can figure all this out.” Looking back to Sabjorn the Captain says, “And you, You’re coming with me to Dragon’s Reach. I’ll see you in irons for the rest of your days. Now m-move!” Sabjorn backs away, “Wait, I... “ The Captain draws his Orcish sword, “I said… MOVE!” Lucina watches from a darkened corner and Mallus folds his arms watching his former boss lead away at the tip of a sword. Mallus smiles as he says, “Heh… Farewell Sabjorn..”


       Once they are gone, Mallus turns to Lucina, “That couldn’t have gone any better. Anything else you need before heading back to Riften?” Lucina looks around, ”Yeah. Maven wanted me to get a look at Sabjorn’s books. Find out how he got the money for this place so quickly.” Mallus narrows his gaze, “So… Maven wants to hunt down Sabjorn’s private partner... He keeps most of his papers stashed in his desk.” He hands her a key. She takes it and says, “You never mentioned the mad man down in the tunnels.” Mallus rubs the back of his neck, “Yeah… I didn’t want to risk you walking away from the job. Besides, you did Maven a favor getting rid of him.” Lucina scowls at him, “You owe me for that…” Mallus smirks nervously, “Listen, If you ever find yourself in Whiterun and need a fence, I’ll buy any of your stolen items. Give ya a fair price too. A thank you, I guess you could say.” Lucina says nothing and goes up to Sabjorn’s office.


       In Sabjorn’s office, Lucina finds a missive from Maven offering to buy out Sabjorn. She chuckles to herself, “Guess that didn’t go well…” In a locked draw there is another missive. No name on this one. Just an odd symbol. The same symbol she saw on the bill of sale at Goldenglow. “Who are you…?” she says. She searches the room for any valuables. She finds some silver bars, a gold necklace, some stray Septims, and a unique looking Decanter. “Hmmm…Wonder what Old Delvin will give me for you.” she says as she stuffs it into her backpack. On her way out, Mallus says, “When ya get back to Riften, put in a good with Maven for me.” Lucina stops and looks back over her shoulder, “If I were you, Mallus, I’d try very hard to make sure Maven never thought about my name again. People that get her attention tend to have bad things happen to them.” His eyebrows rise as he thinks on her words, “True…” Lucina picks up the bag packed with mead as she leaves and heads back to the Bannered Mare.


       She rents the attic room and stores the bag of mead in a cupboard for the time being then returns to the bar for some Cyrodiliic Brandy and bowl of Venison stew. It’s not long before a drunken Nord approaches her and tries to pick her up. Having spent the last hour in a skeever hole, she’s not feeling particularly accommodating, but when he mentions he is part of the Battleborn clan, she sees her “in” to one of the wealthiest families home in the city. She offers him some of her brandy and orders another bottle.


       Once the Nord is heavily drunk, she helps the poor sod back to his home in the Wind District. She dumps him in a bed and he passes out almost immediately. Lucina pokes the Nord a few times, but he remains motionless. She whispers, “Well, you’re a lightweight aren’t you.” She pilfers his pockets before moving on to the rest of the house. The house is empty, so she has the run of the place. She finds only one locked door in the manor. It takes a few tries, but she manages to get the door open. She finds a few silver bars and expensive looking potions. In the up stairs, she finds several fancy outfits and scattered gold pieces. She stuff her backpack until it’s full. On her way back down stairs, a child enters the front door. He gets a sweetroll from the kitchen before sitting in front of the fire pit in the middle of the living room. There is no way she will make it down the stairs without being seen. She steps out on the beams stretching across the space between the first and second floor and carefully lowers herself.  She hangs a moment until she is sure the boy is not going to move. She drops without a sound and sneaks out the backdoor.


       She hurries back to her room at the Bannered Mare and stores her backpack under the bed. She watches the entrances to the Inn from the attic room balcony overlooking the main floor. After an hour with no signs of guards, she relaxes and allows herself to sleep. She wakes a few hours later and goes down to order a meal. Sitting at the bar, she hears a few patrons talking to an off duty guardsman about a bandit camp of skooma dealers just outside of town. When she was younger one of her childhood friends in Bravil was addicted to that poison. Lucina still holds a fervent hatred of skooma dealers. The Jarl is also said to be offering a reward for anyone who “gets rid of them”. Not that she needed the incentive, but it was good to know. Gives her a legitimate excuse to scope the security inside the palace. She decides to wait till nightfall before going to engage the bandits as she doesn’t know how many of them will be at the camp. She returns to her room for a bath and a nap until the sun sets.


       When Lucina finally does arrive at the camp, Masseur and Secunda are absent from the skies. The darkness of the night conceals her approach. The campfire illumenates the bandits clearly. Only three are present and a horse is tied to a wagon. Both horse and wagon are likely stolen. She expected more. One of the three bandits present is obviously a mage. She can see him throwing flames from his hands to stoke the campfire. As for the other two, one is an archer and the other a brute wielding a greatsword.  As she readies her bow, the mage is her first target. He is the biggest threat. She dips her arrow in a paralytic poison to ensure the mage is taken out of action. She aims and fires, but the mage moves and the bolt strikes his shoulder instead of his heart. The bandits are alerted, but the poison acts quickly and the mage falls over. Lucina quickly sneaks to another position before taking aim at the brute. Clad in steel armor, she is not confident her bolt would get through the breastplate. So she aims for a headshot. This time the bolt finds its mark. The archer makes a few blind shots in the dark and misses Lucina by a comfortable distance. He wears only a poorly crafted fur cuirass and hide boots. Her next bolt pierces his heart.


       The mage is unable to move, but his eyes still work just fine. He sees a hooded figure step out of the darkness and the woman scowls down at him. She turns to the camp’s stash of Skooma and takes several bottles. “You ever taken this vile poison you’ve been spreading?” she asks, “Do you even care about the suffering you inflict?” Lucina kneels beside him and empties each of the bottles down the mage’s throat. As the drug takes effect, the massive dose sends his mind into a waking nightmare. The mage struggles, but Lucina’s poison is too potent. His eyes fill with terror as one horror after another flashes before his mind. Lucina holds her dagger over his heart, “I should let the drug take you. You deserve nothing less… But I’m not that cruel.” She plunges the blade into his chest and the mage breathes his last.


       Lucina looks around the camp and finds a chest with their ill gotten gold. She stuffs her pockets. As she rummages through the chest, she hears voices approaching. Lucina crouches and returns the shadows. She picks the rest of the gang off, one by one, as they return. From the banter she overheard on their approach, She identifies the gang leader. She drags the leader to the Horse and hoists the body on to the saddle then leads the horse back to the city.


       As she exits Dragon’s Reach, a courier stops her. “Miss!” he calls out. Are you Lucina, by chance?” She looks the boy over, “Who’s asking?” He pulls a letter out of his satchel, “I got this note from a lady in Riften. She was wearing a hood and didn’t give her name, but paid me a lot of gold for me to get this into your hands.” Lucina looks the letter over. It’s from Vex. She has an urgent job in Windhelm. She is to make her way up there as soon as possible. Another thief is making a heist and they need the books altered to throw off suspicion


       Lucina returns to her room at the inn and counts up the gold she got from the Jarl’s steward before gathering the rest of stashed loot. On her way out of the Bannered Mare with her backpack and sack of mead, she spots the Battleborn fool. He is stalking the streets, making his way towards the Bannered Mare, asking people he passes who he left the Inn with. It was late when she took him home, the streets were largely empty except for a few guards. It’s early still, and few people are around for him to question. Pride will not allow him to say why he is looking for this person, so most ignore him as they have their own tasks to begin for the day. She turns down a side street and hurries for the main gate before he starts spouting off about a theft. There are still plenty of targets in Whiterun, but she has a job to do and hires a carriage to take her to Windhelm.



    The story so far:

    walk-with-the-shadows-ch-1 Walk with the Shadows Ch 2 Walk with the Shadows Ch 3


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