Blessed Mother Ch1

  • Blessed Mother



       I remember the night my journey down the dark path began. I was a child, racing home through the streets of Windhelm. Night had fallen and my hog of a father would eat house and hold if I did not make it home in time for dinner. Something stopped me, though. It was the strangest feeling. A pull, I suppose, that I can scarcely describe. It led me down the alley to the Stone Quarter where the city’s markets had already closed for the evening. I heard a sound unlike anything I had ever heard before. Then I saw them. Two feet sticking out from behind one of the stalls. I nervously peeked around the stall to see Ulfar gripping his throat. Blood was gushing from between his fingers as he tried to pull an Elven arrow from his neck. His fingers were too slick with his blood to get a proper grip on the arrow. A second arrow was sticking out of his waist. Though I did not know it at the time, it had certainly shattered his hip.


       I think I should have been frightened at the sight of a dying man before me, but I wasn't. I became consumed in the moment. How did this happen? Why would someone do this? How long would it take for him to die? So, I simply watched him laying there squirming. Unable to scream, unable to flee. His eyes were filled with dread as he reached for me in desperation. It was the first time I remember the faint scent of a dying man’s blood. Something in me held me there until the gurgling  sound stopped. The pool of blood was creeping its way towards me when I heard Mother’s voice call for me. I heard the clank of a guardsman’s armor coming from the alley and I quickly ran for home.

       My fascination with death would only grow. Against my Father’s wishes, I turned away from the path of the warrior he had planned for me, and instead focused on learning more about death. The Priests of Arkay were all too eager to have another devotee. I would spend years studying the Order’s rights and rituals. I would one day be called to minister to the grieving. I was respected in the city and even earned my Ceremonial Dagger to be used to prepare the dead for burial. I had all that any initiate could desire, but it felt hollow. The Order claimed to worship the god of life and death, but they only showed me how to deal with the living and remove the dead from sight. With each passing day it became more and more clear that I would not find what I sought with the priests.

       Walking the stone passages of Windhelm, one early morning, I found myself in the Stone Quarter looking down at the spot where Ulfar had died. A single Nightshade flower was growing up between the stones. I had never told anyone of what I witnessed that night. This was mine, it meant something profound, and I would know its truth. As I knelt down to pick the flower, I heard a City Guard approaching. He wished me a good morning. I wished him peace. Though, even now, I cannot tell you why; a strange compulsion fell over me. In a single smooth motion I drew my Ceremonial Dagger, spun around, and drove the blade up into the bottom of his helmet until the hilt hit his chin. His body shivered for a moment as warm blood began to flow down my hand. However brief, I saw the shock and dismay in his eyes before the light of life faded from his blue eyes. He dropped to his knees and slumped to his side.

       His name was Tolgen. He was a soldier in the Imperial Legion before he was wounded in the Great War with the Aldmeri Dominion. That wound never properly healed and he often came to the priestesses of Talos complaining of nightmares about his days in the Legion. His wife had died a year prior to that day and his son had just joined a shipping crew for the East Empire Company. He was a good man destined for a violent end. In an instant, I gave him a clean and swift death. I spoke the rights taught to me by the Order, but they were empty. I had never felt the presence of Arkay. The words I spoke did not move me… But there was something. Something larger than myself that I had not the wisdom to recognize. I placed the Nightshade flower on Tolgen’s body before returning to the Hall of the Dead.

       Over the coming days, I would hear Priestess Silla speak the same words to Tolgen’s family that I had heard countless times before. This time, however, the words sickened me. There was little thought of the man lying dead in the crypt. Silla’s words were meant to plaicate the friends and loved ones Tolgen left behind. The only solace I found was a certainty that his spirit had found rest somewhere in The Beyond. Soon after Tolgen’s service, I made the decision then to leave Windhelm. That looming presence I felt that inspired me to kill Tolgen taught me that there was more out there. Not some silent absentee god, but something real... and it was waiting for me. It was not long until I would find deliverance in the form of an assassin… a member of the Dark Brotherhood.


       She had heard of Tolgen’s slaying and sought me out. I know not how she found me or even knew it was I who killed Tolgen, but she did. She handed me an Ebony arrow, a bottle of poison, and a slip of paper with a name and a location. “You have a gift, my friend. Use this arrow to deliver this soul to Sithis and the Brotherhood will teach you the truths you seek.” For whatever reason, I believed her. I could see in her eyes that she had forgotten more about death than any priest of Arkay would ever know… Thus began my new dark path in life.

    Chapter One: Family

       The day has been long and the moons begin their climb into the sky as night approaches. Anga’s Mill is a difficult place to work even for one with the strongest back. “Alright men!” Anga calls out, “We just got another order from the Jarl.” The men groan. One of the workers, Ennodius Papius, speaks up, “What? We just hauled two wagons up to Dawnstar.” Anga rolls her eyes and says, “You want to refuse the order? If the mill doesn’t fill these orders, Skald The Elder will come looking for Stormcloak recruits. Is that what you want?” The men look at each other for a time then each nods and heads to the bunk house. “Ennodius…” Anga says. He turns, “Yeah? What?” Anga points to the nightwatch post up the road, “It’s your turn to watch the road. My lumber is a prize for thieves.” He scowls, but does not argue.

       At the watch post; there is little more than a campfire, a tent, bedroll, and a bottle of mead. Ennodius sits beside the fire trying to stretch the kink out of his knees. Through the darkness, he sees a hooded figure emerge from the night. The black hood obscures the man’s face and his red and black armor is unlike any Ennodius has seen before. Ennodius pulls his dagger and holds it behind his back. “Pardon me, Friend.” the voice of a Nord man says, “Would you mind if a traveler joins you by the fire on this cold night?” As he comes into view, Ennodius notes the man’s armaments: An Ebony bow, Ebony arrows, and a Dwemer sword and dagger at his side. Arms clearly superior to Ennodius’ meager iron dagger… and would certainly fetch a fine price at the markets in Windhelm. “Yes, yes. Come. You can even take the bed roll if you would like to rest a spell. I have to stay up most of the night anyway.” The man kneels by the fire, “Thank you. The offer is kind, but I have promises to keep and miles, yet, to go before I sleep. I am called Fenrir. You are?” Ennodius nods, “Ennodius Papius.” Fenrir smiles, “Pleasure.”

       The two converse for over an hour. Fenrir speaks of his journey up from Falkreath to see a man in the Pale. Ennodius says, “Well, you are almost out of the Pale, Friend. I’ve lived here for ten years. Perhaps I know this person.” Fenrir again smiles, “Oh, I already know where he is. You see, he is to die soon and I have been called on to minister him into the hereafter.” Ennodius looks at the well armed man for a moment and asks, “You? You are a priest?” Fenrir shrugs, “I don’t look it, do I? My journeys are long and dangerous. One must be prepared… speaking of which, it’s time I press on.” Fenrir stands and nods, “May the Father and Mother watch over you, Friend.” With that Ennodius watches the man walk off into the darkness. Ennodius shakes his head, “Strange fellow.” then turns back to the warmth of his camp fire.

       The night is bitterly cold. The only sounds in the night are that of the fire, the rushing of water in the stream behind the night watchman’s post that powers the lumber mill, and a few fighting mudcrabs on the other side of the stream. An ominous feeling comes over Ennodius. A shiver runs down his spine. He stands and turns to peer into the night. His eyes widen shortly before a black arrow finds his chest. It strikes with such force that the impact knocks him off his feet. He panics and tries to pull the arrow out, but his muscles stiffen as a paralytic courses through his veins. He can’t move. He can’t breathe. His heart slows. From the shadows, Fenrir steps out and pulls back his hood. He kneels beside Ennodius and bows his head as he says, “Blessed Mother... I, Fenrir Black-Bolt, your humble messenger, offer you the soul you seek. Take him into your bosom and deliver him unto the Dread Father in the void. Blessed be.” These are the last words Ennodius Papius hears before The poison fully takes hold. After a final sign of air leaves him, his heart beats its last.

       The next morning, Anga comes out of the long house and shouts, “Ennodius!... ENNODIUS!!... Damn fool, if you’ve fallen asleep on watch again…” She marches up to the watch post and finds her workman slain. An Ebony arrow in his chest alongside a single Nightshade flower. “GODS!” she shouts. The men, coming out of the bunkhouse, having heard her cry, and they come running. They look around for signs of the murderer, but the only tracks they see are those made by themselves. The night’s fallen snow has removed whatever traces there may have been of the killer. One of the men simply looks down at the body and whispers with a slight grin, “Blessed be…”

       Deep in the woods of Falkreath, Fenrir walks up to a dark door in a ridge side. A cursed thing with a large skull on the front. A pool of black liquid lies to the South of the small ridge with Nightshade flowers growing around it. Nightshade is known to only grow where the dead have fallen. This is a place any sane person would quickly avoid. A spectral voice speaks into Fenrir’s mind, “What… is the music… of life?” Fenrir answers, “Silence, My Brother.” The voice replies, “Welcome… Home.” The door opens and Fenrir steps inside.

       Inside, a Nord woman greets him. “Ah, Brother… you’re back. And I hear that one of Anga’s men has been felled. By a single arrow, no less.” Fenrir says, “You’ve heard already? Yes, his soul has been sent to Sithis, Astrid.” She smiles, “You spoke to your target again, didn’t you? Why in Sithis’ name do you do that?” He shrugs, “Any fool can kill a man. I would know my target. It is only then that I will decide how they will die. Quickly and painlessly… or writhing in terror and pain…. Do you disapprove, Sister?” She leans against a large stone table bearing a map of Skyrim, “No… You take pride in your kill. This is a good thing. It’s why I asked you to join the family. The way you tended to that guard after you killed him. I knew then you were no simple murderer.” Fenrir eyes her suspiciously, “You never did tell me how you learned of that.” Astride smiles, “No, I didn’t… Go see Nazir. He has your reward for the contract.” He nods to her and begins to walk away.

       Astrid looks down at the map on the table, “Oh, Fenrir… You should know. We have a... Guest.” He looks back, “Guest?” Astrid continues to study the map, “Well… two guests, I suppose. The Keeper has brought the Night Mother’s corpse to our home.” Fenrir looks back deeper into the Sanctuary of the Dark Brotherhood, “Truly? They have finally arrived, then. Her crypt was desecrated years ago. Where have they been all this time?” Astrid looks at Fenrir, “I don’t know. Which vexes me. The little man will not say. Only that -they- have been traveling. I think he’s lying. You’ve always had a silver tongue. See if your honeyed words can pry the truth out of him…. And do greet our new Brother. I don’t think you have met yet.”

       Entering the main chamber, Fenrir finds a small Imperial man standing before an iron coffin of strange design. The little man, dressed as a court jester, whispers and mumbles to himself… or perhaps the coffin. “You are the Keeper, then?” Fenrir says. The Imperial jumps, “Ha…Another Brother, are you? Yes, Cicero is the Keeper. And, of course, within this sacred sarcophagus is our Unholy Matron.” Fenrir approaches, closes his eyes, and extends his arm placing his fingertips on the coffin, “...Mother…” He looks back to the Keeper who is grinning at this sight. “Good… Good! Such respect for our Sweet Mother. She will surely smile on you… unlike some…” Fenrir lowers his arm, “Some? How do you mean?” The Keeper looks up, “Oh, nothing… well… Cicero has noticed that… some of this family seem to not hold the same respect for our mother as you. Without her, there is no Brotherhood. We would just be a band of common cut throats. It is through HER grace and HER will…” Cicero notices Fenrir looking at him awkwardly. Fenrir asks, “Are you alright, Brother?” Cicero stands more meekly, “Oh, yes. Yes! Cicero and the Mother have just been alone so long. Cicero sometimes speaks too much.” Fenrir places a hand on the Keeper’s shoulder, “It’s alright, Brother. Yours is a sacred and difficult duty. If you need anything, do not hesitate to call upon me.” Cicero smiles as Fenrir walks away then he begins to whisper to the coffin again.

       Fenrir finds Nazir in the dining hall of the Sanctuary. “Nazir.” He says. The Redguard stands from his meal, “Ah, yes. How was your meeting with Ennodius Papius, hm? Did you prove his paranoia right?” Fenrir looks at him, “Of course. Papius is dead.” Nazir smiles and jokingly says, “Good. And I hope you were careful in that lumber mill. Those splinters and rusty nails can be quite nasty. Here, your payment for a job well done.” Fenrir is handed a bag of six hundred Septims, “Have you seen Babette? I wish to thank her for her poison. It served me well.” Nazir sits back down, “The sun will rise soon. Our resident vampiric child has already retired for the day. I wouldn’t advise waking her. Those little teeth pack a nasty bite.” Fenrir sits down to help himself to some of the food spread across the table, “Are there any more contracts open?” Nazir looks over, “That eager for more blood are you?” Fenrir smiles, “In service to the Dread Father? More blood is always needed.” Nazir pulls a small parchment from his vest, “Here… He’s a vampire at Half-Moon Mill, and has blended into human society for years. He’s never far from his female companion, Hert. Also a vampire. The contract is for the male, Hern. But you’ll probably have to contend with the female, too. So for Sithis’ sake, watch yourself.”

       Cicero enters the dining hall, “THERE you are!” Nazir looks over, “What is it, clown?” Cicero scowls, “Cicero wishes to speak with… Oh dear, Cicero never asked your name.” Fenrir drinks from a tankard of ale, “Fenrir Black-Bolt… What can I do for you, Keeper?” Cicero leans on the table, “Not for me, no no no… For our Mother. She needs to be moved to a place more befitting.” Fenrir thinks for a moment, “There is a chapel at the center of the Sanctuary. It’s quite serene. I meditate there often. Will that do?” Cicero does a small dance, “Oh, yes. YES!... But… Cicero is not strong enough to make such a move. Could you…?” Nazir growls in annoyance at the fool. Fenrir takes a bite of a Venison Chop, “Veezara and I will move her.” Cicero says, “The Argonian? Cicero has met him, yes he has.” Again he begins to dance as he leaves the dining hall, “Thank you. THANK YOU… Dear Brother…” Once they are alone, Nazir says, “You are showing a great deal of leniency with the clown. More than I can muster.” Fenrir pushes his empty plate away, “Astrid asked me to find out where he and the Night Mother have been these past few years. If I must tolerate his belligerence, it is a small price to pay for carrying out her will.” Nazir nods, “You are a far more patient man than I. I do not envy your task. I would have killed the fool by now, but Astrid says we must endure his idiocy.”

       After a few hours rest, Fenrir and Veezar move the Night Mother’s coffin up to the chapel. “There.” Veezara says. Cicero stands in front of the Coffin and slowly opens its doors revealing the decayed corpse of the Night Mother. Fenrir and Veezara kneel and bow their heads. In unison they say, “Blessed Mother.” Cicero looks down and smiles at the reverence being shown. As they stand, Fenrir asks, “Is there anything else you need of us, Keeper? I have a soul that needs claiming for the Dread Father.” Veezara speaks up, “As do I.” Cicero looks to the coffin, “No, Cicero must perform the sacred rights to preserve our Mother’s body. Thank you, Brothers. Our Matron will surely smile on you.”

       Fenris gathers some items from the laboratory of the Sanctuary. There is none of Babette’s poisons left, but as his new target is a Vampire a poison would not work as the undead are immune to such things. This one could prove… difficult to kill. And getting by his mate will be no small feat. The sound of footsteps behind him causes Fenrir to turn. A Dunmer man, in the Brotherhood’s shroud armor, leans over the corner enchanting table. He is unfamiliar to Fenrir. “This must be the new Brother, then.” he thinks to himself. Fenrir slips some Frostbite Spider venom into his pack and walks over to the Dunmer. Fenrir says, “You must be the new Brother Astride spoke of.” the Dunmer turns and stares coldly at the Nord. Fenrir looks back awkwardly, “Well… aren’t you a stunning conversationalist… I’m called Fenrir Black-Bolt.” The Dunmer nods, “I am Azirath.” Fenrir takes measure of this Azirath and finds the way in which he carries himself indicates he is no stranger to death. Fenrir has always been able to sense those like himself. Murder marks your soul in ways that those who know what to look for can easily identify. It is clear that Aziarth is not interested in chatting, so after a few pleasantries, Fenrir takes his leave.

       As Fenrir heads towards the Sanctuary door, Astrid stops him. Have you learned anything, Brother?” she asks. Fenrir shakes his head, “Not yet, but I believe he is beginning to trust me. I will know his secrets soon. For now, the void calls for a new soul. And I would see it delivered.” Astrid gives her best temptress smile to him and leans back against the stone table, “You are a true killer to your core, aren’t you?” Just then Ambjorn steps out of the master bed chambers. A large brute of a Nord… and a Werewolf to boot. He sees his wife overtly flirting with Fenrir. “What are you doing, beef roast?” he snarls. Fenrir nods to Ambjorn and says, “Discussing my next contract, Brother.” Ambjorn steps up to him, “Oh yeah? I think you’re doing more than that.” Fenrir tilts his head, “Jealousy? Really? Even I would not dare tempt the wrath of a wolf.” Ambjorn snorts, “Best you remember that, Ham Hock.” Ambjorn shoves Fenrir aside as he heads down into the Sanctuary.

       Astrid chuckles to herself. Fenrir looks at her, “You knew he was watching you… You wanted to get a rise out of him?” Astride shrugs, “Werewolves are naturally territorial. Later he will want to… let’s say… -remind me- that I am his and he is mine.” Fenrir smiles as he pulls up his hood, “Devious little witch.” She laughs and Fenrir heads up to the black door. Sithis is owed a soul and Fenrir would make certain that the Dread Father gets it.


    Blessed Mother

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