Walk with the Shadows Ch 15

  • Walk with the Shadows

    Chapter Fifteen: A New Beginning




       On the ride to Whiterun, Lucina is lost in thought. Attempting to wrap her mind around all that has happened since she jumped into that Imperial wagon and crossed into Skyrim. She joined the Skyrim Thieves Guild, found and killed the man who murdered her father, spoke to her father’s spirit, and came face to face with a Daedric Lord. Her mind is spinning when she feels the horse stop and her cheek bumps into Lucian’s back. “We here, Cher.” he says. She looks around, “Huh?...” She vaguely recognizes the stables of Whiterun. As the Nord warrior dismounts her horse, Iona says, “You just going to sit there…” Lucian looks back and speaks in a hushed tone, “ Lucina? You okay?” She is silent for a moment before getting off his horse. Lucian gets down and touches  her shoulder. She stops and says, “I’m fine… Really.”

     

       After handing the horses off to the stable master, the trio enter the city. There are several sideways glances from passersby. Lucian stops and looks at his company. He and Iona are hardly out of place, but the woman clad in an otherworldly set of black armor is more than enough to turn a few heads. “Lucina, while I tend to my business in d’e palace, perhaps you should procure some new attire.” She looks at him confused, “Why? I’ll change when we…” Just then a child runs up, “Miss! Are you… Are you an assassin?” “What?!” she asks, “No! I’m…. ugh… I’m going to find something to change into.” Lucian watches her walk away, “Iona… after she changes, take her down to d’e stables. I’ll meet you both d’ere.” Iona hesitates, “And you? What is this ‘business’? What has the vampire demanded this time?” He just smiles, “Never you mind, Ol’ Lucian get d’is done quick, Yeah? Just get her back to d’e stables and get d’em horses ready.” Iona reluctantly chases after Lucina.

     

       Iona catches up with Lucina in the Wind District. Lucina is crouched behind a large house belonging to the Battle-Born clan. A clan that is well known to be one of the wealthiest in the city. “What’s this?” Lucina jests, “Not hanging on your master's boots?” Iona looks around, “No… Your boyfriend told me to help you.” Lucina breaks her lockpick and looks up at her, “He’s not my…. You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” Then Lucina sees something she never thought possible… Iona smiling. Lucina rolls her eyes, pulls out the pieces of her broken pick and starts over, “You want to help me? Go around to the front of the house and tap on one of the windows if you see someone coming.” Iona stomps off and Lucina mumbles, “Not going to be sneaking in anywhere with her mammoth feet.” The lock gives and the door opens. 

     

        The familiarity of breaking into a house and creeping around is somewhat calming to Lucina. Her mind is focused on the task at hand. After checking each room to ensure she is alone, she walks from closet to closet trying to find a set of clothes that would fit her. While looking in a mirror, her mind begins to drift and she fixates on a shadow behind her. How long she’s not sure, but she is jarred back to awareness by the sound of tapping on a window. She hurries to a window and sees a Nord, wearing the armor of an Imperial scout,  walking up the path to the house. “This will have to do…” Lucina says as she snags an emerald necklace off a night stand and darts for the back door.

     

       Iona looks toward the house for any sign of Lucina. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a black blur jump the gap between the Battle-Born manor and the neighboring house. Iona gives chase and finds her behind the neighbor’s house in a partial state of undress, “What are you doing?” Lucina looks at her, “Changing… that’s the whole idea, right?” Iona shakes her head and picks up Lucina’s cape off the grass then holds it wide, “Hurry up... You have no modesty at all do you?” Lucina rolls her eyes as she continues changing, “Modesty I have. A changing room is what I am lacking… You can’t seriously be this much of a prude.” Lucina stands and takes the cape and turns around, “Can you help me with the laces?” As Iona finishes tying the last lace, she says, “We need to hurry. Before you came out I saw several guards rushing for the palace. That usually means Lucian has been caught doing something he’s not supposed to be doing.” Lucina turns sharply, “What?! And you’re just standing here?” She kneels down and picks up her daggers then hurries towards the alley leading to the main street then stops to look back. Iona is not moving. Just looking at her oddly. Lucina asks, “What are you doing? We have to… What? Why are you looking at me like that?” Iona bends down and gathers the Nightingale gear into a bundle; wrapping it all up in the cape. She walks over calmly to Lucina and hands her the bundle and says, “Oh yeah… He’s not your boyfriend, at all…. Come on. Let’s get to the stables.” Lucina watches her walk by with a grin she finds most vile, “...I hate you soooo much right now…”

     

       With the horses fed and brushed, Iona pays the stable master the gold he is owed. With the sun setting, Lucina leads the horses out to the road and sees Lucian approaching. In his left hand he carries a bottle of wine and in his right is something wrapped in a long leather sheath. Lucina turns to mount the horse, but finds herself nose to nose with a hooded Khajiit. The cat’s eyes send a chill through Lucina’s soul. She knows she is looking into the eyes of a killer. The cat speaks in almost frantic tones, “You!.. Is it you? No, not you. But it could be you… wait…” The cat takes a long sniff of the Imperial in front of her and asks, “Why?” Lucina’s eyes widened, “Why?... Why what?” The Khajiit eyes her cautiously, “You’re pheromones spiked for a moment… Why is this?” Lucina just stares awkwardly, “Are you… okay?” Lucian jogs up, “It’s alright… You came for d’is, yeah?” He hands the Khajiit the leather bound item and says, “Now you take d’at on  back to your mistress wit’ my compliments.” The Khajiit holds the item tight to her chest and hurries off into the night. Lucina asks, “What in Oblivion was that about?” Lucian shrugs, “D’at’s just Feral. She’s harmless.” He puts his arm around Lucina and continues, “Well… She’s actually extremely dangerous, but she’s very sweet… and homicidally insane… Do NOT ever get that close to her again.”

     

       Iona walks out and says, “I take it you found success, my Thane?” Lucian replies, “Indeed… Also got my hands on some Surilie Brothers wine.” Lucina smiles, “Really?” Iona holds an expression of confusion, “Is this wine special?” Lucian smiles, “Best in d’e HeartLand… bit hard to get ’round these parts too.” Then he tucks the bottle and a small stack of silver glasses into his saddle bags. He mounts his horse and holds out his arm to Lucina, “Mon’Cher…” Lucina folds her arms, “You still owe me answers… You can add that cat to the list.” Lucian smiles, “Come now… Don’t you trust me, Cher?” Lucina shakes her head and takes his hand. She leans against his back and whispers in his ear, “Not for a second… Thief.”  And they begin the ride back to Riften.

     

        The sun is peeking out over the mountains when the trio part ways at the Riften gates. Lucian and Iona head to Mistveil Keep to speak with the Jarl. Lucina heads around to the Guild’s secret entrance in the graveyard. When she steps into the Cistern, she finds the usual band of ruffians wandering about. Brynjolf stands at the center of the chamber. “Bryn!” she calls. Brynjolf turns with a smile, “It’s good to see you in one piece, Lass. I wanted to give you a proper thank you for everything you’ve done. The Guild is back on its feet again and on its way to a prosperous future. What’s become of the Skeleton Key?” Lucina shrugs, “I returned it to the Sepulcher. Back where it belongs.” with a hint of pride she smirks and says, “I even spoke to Nocturnal... Every bit as terrifying as one would expect.” Brynjolf takes a deep breath, “That’s it then… After all these years of watching the Guild hopelessly decline...But enough of that. I’m confident that with you in charge, we’ll soon have more gold than we can possibly spend.”  Lucina looks around, “We’ll see… We got a lot of work to do first. Karliah said she’d be staying at the hall… I take it you will be around here then?” Brynjolf nods, “Aye, trying to coordinate everything with Delvin and Vex to make sure the coin keeps flowing… and no one skims. I’m sure they both have plenty of jobs to hand out.” Lucina looks towards the door leading to the Ragged Flagon, “I’ll talk to them soon. Got something to talk with you about first.” Brynjolf follows Lucina back into the training room.

     

       They wait for the footpads to finish their session and the room to empty. Brynjolf asks, “So what is it, lass?” Lucina replies in a stern tone, “... Maven… I know she’s been the life line that’s been keeping the Guild going, but we depend on her far too much.” Brynjolf seems uneasy, “Hold on now, Lass. You can’t be talking about taking on Maven Black-Briar?” Lucina looks at him strangely, “What?... No, nothing like that. It’s just..  The Guild has been weak for years and entirely dependent on her. She uses us like her own private fixers. Once the Guild begins to grow again and we don’t need her, what happens if she thinks we’re too much of a liability? We need other allies. Powerful ones. Not just in Riften, but throughout Skyrim.” Brynjolf ponders the statement for a moment, “Aye… We need to spread our wings. Maven may not want that…. Alright, Lass. Gallus had several Thanes in each hold indebted to the Guild in one way or another. Over the years, they stopped responding to our missives. If we start pulling the right kind of jobs in the right places, we could catch their attention again. Tonilia has legitimate business contacts that can keep an eye on the more wealthy families in the capital cities.” She leans against a training dummy and nods, “Okay...We still need to stay on Maven’s good side, but be prepared for a day when we might not be. I already know a Thane in Riften that will help us keep an eye and an ear on Maven. I’ll talk to Vex and Delvin about targeting jobs to attract the -right- kind of attention in other cities. You keep your eyes open for more talent, we’re going to need more thieves… We got a lot of work to do.”

     

       The midday  lunch rush is hitting the Bee and Barb when Lucina walks in. Keerava is pouring mead into tankards and Talen is sweeping the floors. Lucina smiles and whispers, “Just like I left you.” She walks up behind Talen, “Hey… You get the stones?” Talen turns, “You’re back? Yes! Yes and thank you. You don’t know what that means to us. The ring should be cast in a few days” Lucina smiles, “Good… Good. I’ve had a hard few days. You mind running me a bath upstairs and making one of those special drinks of yours?” Talen smiles back, “Of course. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.” She leaves the main hall and heads up to her room.

     

       She hangs up her Nightingale armor and flops on her bed. She’s almost comfortable when she hears a knock at the door. She grumbles to herself before answering, “I’ll be there in a minute, Talen.” The door opens and Keerava stands there looking at her. She throws a wadded up piece of paper at Lucina and asks, “Where have you been?” Lucina stands and opens the paper. Seeing her hand writing, she says, “The note I left… Yeah… Sorry about that. Things were happening fast and… ” Keerava slaps her across the face. Lucina just stands there. Keerava says, “That is the note of a coward! You are -not- a coward. You should have faced me.” Lucina says softly, “You would have tried to stop me.” Keerava shouts back, “OF COURSE I WOULD HAVE!!” Then there is a knock at the door frame. Talen says, “Uh… the bath is… ready… and the guests are still hungry, my Sweet. Perhaps you can kill her later?” Keerava scowls at them both, “This is NOT over…” then she storms out of the room. Lucina sits back on her bed, “Thank you, Talen…” She rubs her cheek and feels a few scratches left by Keerava’s claws. Talen asks, “Do you need something for that? I know a salve that can…” Lucina shakes her head, “No… No, I deserve these… but thanks.” Talen nods, “I have some towels and soaps laid out for you.” Then he returns down stairs. Lucina sits and rubs her jaw, “Something else I have to work on.”

     

       Locking the door behind her, Lucina eases down into the warm bath and feels indescribable aches and tight muscles relax. “Oh yeah… uuuhhhh…. This is the best magic on Nirn…” The sounds of a bustling tavern rumble up from the floorboards. “Wonder just how angry she really is?” Lucina raises her hand and looks at it for a moment. She remembers what Karliah said about the Agent of Shadow, “Invisibility… Alright...how exactly? There is never a book about how you do these things.”  She closes her eyes and thinks about standing on the circle with the Crescent moon symbol and feeling a cool wave flow through her. That sensation never entirely left. “It’s there.” she says, “Somewhere, I can feel you…. There!” Her eyes pop open in time to see her hand vanish in front of her. If she were not in a tub of water, there would be no evidence she was there at all. She smiles, “Well now… this will come in handy.” With a faint flash of otherworldly light, she is made visible again. With her hand in sight, she balls up her fist and says, “Only one more piece to put into play.” then dunks herself under the water.

     

       As the sun sets and the moons begin their climb into the sky, Lucian and Iona return to Honeyside. Iona stops and sees the bottle of Surilie Brothers wine open and the silver glasses on the table are full of said wine. “You are not where I left you.” She says and draws her Axe. Lucian pats her on the shoulder, “I t’ink you can put d’at away.” he nods towards his bedroom. Iona looks and sees Lucina under the covers with naught but her head and bare shoulders sticking out of the top. Lucina smirks and says, “Try the wine, Iona… You’ll love it.” Iona puts her axe away and smells of the wine, “I’ll stick to mead.” She puts the glass back on the table, “I’m going down stairs to collect some things. I’ll be at the guard Barracks if you need me, Thane.” After a short trip down to retrieve an overnight bag from her quarters, and to check to see if anything was missing, Iona leaves Honeyside.

     

       Lucian locks the door behind her then casts a minor frost spell over the two glasses of wine and carries them towards the bedroom. Lucina says, “You and I need to discuss some business.” He nods, “Oh? D’is how you usually talk terms, is it?” Lucina ignores him, “Some ground rules and an offer of well paying work, if you’re interested in what I have to offer you.” Lucian places the glasses on the nightstand and sits on the bed. He tries to peek under the sheets, but she jerks them back down to her. He stares at her a moment before picking up the glasses and handing her one, “Alright, Cher. What ya got.” With her left hand, Lucina takes a sip from her glass and says, “Three things. One, you keep tabs on Maven for me. She talks about the Guild or makes any plans, I want to know about it. Two, I may have some jobs coming up that require a special… flare. You help me with them, I’ll see you are paid well for it.” Lucian drinks as he listens, “Okay… And the third?’ Her right hand comes up from the sheets holding a golden jewelry box. Lucian opens it up and a small rose colored gems floats into the air. Lucian is intrigued, “Well now… d’at is somethin’...” Lucina drinks from her glass, “I want you to find more of those… I have two. There are twenty four in all. And all twenty four are said to be here in Skyrim.” He closes the box, “Hmmm… Figure I can do d’at… Now what’s your offer for all d’ese t’ings I am supposed to be doin’ for you? Gold and jewels, I got. What you got d’at I want?” Lucina pauses a moment before saying, “.... Me. Interested?” He starts to pull down the sheets, but she stops him, “One more thing.” Lucian tilts his head, “You said three.” She shrugs, “Now I’m saying four.” He smiles, “Alright, d’en… Four.” She pauses briefly before saying, “I make the rules.” Lucian smiles, “If d’at is what you want, Cher. I always ignore the rules anyway.” She smiles, “That’s why this is gonna work… Now come here…”

     

       A crime wave would soon befall the nine holds of Skyrim. Hold by hold, the guild would grow in influence. New thieves would ask to sign on as word would spread. Over several weeks and months, the Thieves Guild would become a topic in every tavern, guard barracks, and Jarl’s court. The Guild was back and stronger than they had been since the last age. Through respect or fear, merchants clambered to get a space in Ragged Flagon to peddle their wares and open trade routes for fencing stolen goods. A statue to Nocturnal was erected inside the Cistern, alongside three stones bearing the Nightingale insignia. Never would the actions of Mercer Frey be forgotten or forgiven. When, at long last, the Guild was fully stored, they officially named Lucina Varro the new Guild Master. She would go on to have many more adventures, but that’s… another story.

     

     

    The story so far:

    Walk with the Shadows Ch 1 Walk with the Shadows Ch 2 Walk with the Shadows Ch 3 Walk with the Shadows Ch 4 Walk with the Shadows Ch 5 Walk with the Shadows Ch 6 Walk with the Shadows Ch 7 Walk with the Shadows Ch 8 Walk with the Shadows Ch 9 Walk with the Shadows Ch 10 Walk with the Shadows Ch 11 Walk with the Shadows Ch 12 Walk with the Shadows Ch 13 Walk with the Shadows Ch 14 Walk with the Shadows Ch 15

     

    Another story connected to this one:

    Ancient Blood Ch 1   Ancient Blood Ch 2   Ancient Blood Ch 3   Ancient Blood Ch 4   Ancient Blood Ch 5   Ancient Blood Ch 6   Ancient Blood Ch 7 Ancient Blood Ch 8   Ancient Blood Ch 9   Ancient Blood Ch 10   Ancient Blood Ch 11   Ancient Blood Ch 12   Ancient Blood Ch 13   Ancient Blood Ch 14   Ancient Blood Ch 15   Ancient Blood Ch 16   Ancient Blood Ch 17   Ancient Blood Ch 18   Ancient Blood Ch 19   Ancient Blood Ch 20   Ancient Blood Ch 21

     

Comments

1 Comment
  • TheGreySon
    TheGreySon   ·  April 24
    This concludes Walk With the Shadows. Will be posting another story in the same continuity as the last two. Hope you enjoy.