Story of a Breton Farm Girl from Cyrodiil, Ch.05, part 30

  • 7th of Frost Fall, 4E201

    The young Breton ran through the darkness without thought or care of where she went. The autumn forest whipped past her body, tearing at her legs as her mind tumbled over, end over end. The vampires in that cave had wanted salvation and they had begged Clavicus Vile to free them from their curse. He had answered their pleas with wickedness and somehow, she had become his instrument of death. The mage Adept stopped, desperately breathing in the night air, the canopy of leaves mottling the heaving figure. In the underbrush, some creature yelped its final plea to Kynareth before dying in the jaws of a nocturnal predator.

    No... no, no,no! Do,don't think Nephili. He'll hear you and kill you!

    The promise of salvation through the granting of a wish had turned out to be fools errand. This daedric prince, like Vaermina, was a nightmare come to life, one that had shown her to be a halfwit, doubly so. Not only had she lofted her hopes to a terrifying demi-god, in his temple she had found an even greater despair. Until this day, she had thought herself the only one struggling to regain her humanity. All the others had drowned in their bloodlust, attacking and butchering without care or regret. She had killed these monsters knowing this to be true, knowing that her actions were just, knowing that none were like her, that she was not like them.

    They didn't want to save themselves. There was no saving them because they didn't want to save themselves!

    She pressed onward, desperate to gain as much distance between herself and Haemar's Shame. Her legs fell in rhythmn, thrusting through the darkness in time with the beating of her heart, the blood of others coursing through her veins. There would be no going back.

    *     *     *     *

    9th of Frost Fall, 4E201

    Mjoll sat at a corner table inside The Bee & Barb with Aerin and Lydia. Drunken Nords and a colorful cast of dock workers filled the dim room with the smoke of briar leaf, gruff talk and the smell of their toils. Mer, Nedes and the Beast Races alike crowded the tavern with unusual amiability despite the ongoing civil war and the xenophobia it had aroused. The Stormcloak banners meant little to the citizens, only money held their ears and hearts. It was, the one good thing about the city.

    The two Nords and the Imperial raised their glasses in the air and drank their first fill. A few sips of relaxed conversation later, Mjoll dropped her tankard back down and leaned in to conduct business. "Speaking of your Thane, I asked someone who is well connected with the rats in this city to see if anyone matching her description passed through recently."

    Lydia looked expectantly at the Lioness.

    Mjoll scrunched her mouth. "I'm afraid I have nothing useful to report. In actuality, he refused to answer yay or nay regarding my inquiry. Worse still was his refusal to allow me safe passage into the sewers to deal with a certain problem recently arrived. Apparently my activities to clean up this city have been duly noted and I've become an inconvenient eyesore for the rats. They can see as far out as theirs noses stretch and it seems protecting their turf takes priority over solving a shared problem."

    Lydia nodded her thanks with a fleeting smile. "The Priestess of Mara was much the same I'm afraid. Though in her case, she had refused after telling me that my Thane did not want to be found." The housecarl took another sip of her ale with melancholy.

    Mjoll slammed her drink, spilling some of its contents. "How dare she refuse your request! I'll go over to the temple tomorrow morning and talk to her about her choices!"

    Lydia almost jumped out of her seat at the Lioness' reaction. She had forgotten how hot headed her elder sister could become whenever those she adopted as family became troubled. She resettled herself and shook her head. "No. Please, its not necessary. I have yet to fully explore this city and there are others that I'm sure I can talk to first before resorting to... discomfiting a Divine Priestess. For now, I need to recollect my thoughts before deciding what to do next."

    Aerin, having only been politely observing the conversation, spoke his idle thoughts. "Have you considered leaving your Thane to her own devices? If what the Priestess says is true, then perhaps its best..."

    Lydia looked up from the table, all pleasure gone from her face.

    "...ah, sorry sorry. I did not mean to offend." The young Imperial began to squirm under the housecarl's gaze. "I... perhaps I do not realize what it means to be Thane and housecarl... please forgive the insensitive comment."

    Mjoll turned to smirk at her companion. "It is good that you apologize but you are not entirely wrong. Certainly, there are housecarls who are left behind by their Thane's to guard property or on specific orders but there are layers and layers of meaning regarding what it means to be housecarl. Chief among them is to watch and protect the honor of their Thane. One cannot do so if one is not their to observe their actions."

    The housecarl dropped her shoulders. "No, it is I who must apologize. I bristle too quickly and was the one to offend at this table. Aerin, I will buy your next round. Let that be the end of it."

    The conversation died down as Lydia drifted away on her thoughts. Seeing discomfort take hold, Mjoll placed her hand over Lydia's to bring her back to the present. "My heart's sister, indeed you are troubled by recent events but perhaps I can distract you for a spell?"

    Lydia looked at her friend quizzically.

    The Lioness gleamed in anticipation. "Youuu... still have need to fully explore this city correct?"

    The Nord warrior arched her brows but slowly nodded. "... I... do, but, what did you have in mind?"

    Mjoll quaffed her ale as she returned Lydia's gaze with mischief on her lips. She set her tankard down and leaned forward. "Good. Then how would you like to help me deal with that little problem I mentioned earlier?"

    Aerin shot the Lioness a look of alarm. "You don't mean to enter the Ratway uninvited?"

    Lioness winked at her companion but clamped her hand high up on his thigh and squeezed, hard. The Cub let out a gasp of pain. "Shush my lovely. You'll betray our plans speaking so plainly."

    The young Imperial blushed but leaned in closer after his leg was released. "If they find us in there, we'll have to deal with them too."

    The Nord adventurer waived away the concern. "As far as the officials in this city are concerned, there is no Thieves Guild. Therefore, entering the Ratway cannot be called trespassing, can it?"

    Aerin groaned at what was about to happen. "This attitude of yours is probably why I found you half dead on a snowy drift."

    Mjoll patted her companion on his thigh and gave him a wicked smile. "And, that is why I have you. Plus we have Lydia." She returned to the housecarl. "We will be killing a brand new 'resident' of Riften but we'll also need to avoid the rats in the sewers while doing so."

    "What are you intending to kill?"

    Mjoll discarded her smile. "A fire user. It left a partially burned beggar lying face down in the canal and though Bryn... err, my contact refuses to say, I'm sure his little group has been attacked as well. The eyes and ears on the streets have been edgy since yesterday."

    Lydia swirled her mug in thought. "Do you have a way inside?

    "Yes. The waters are particularly low this time of year and there is a sewer outlet under the docks that's recently been exposed." The Lioness looked at her empty tankard and pushed it aside. "There's one other thing. Aerin thinks the intruder is a vampire, a wily one at that."

    *     *     *     *

    Niruin pressed against the grimy wall, his ears turned to catch the slightest sound in the Ratway. A complex of sewers, illegal tunnels and the abandoned dungeons of Hosgunn's Folly, a castle that the people of Riften had burned to the ground in the year one-hundred twenty-nine, the Ratway served the Thieves Guild as both a place to hide and a means of escape. People who did not wish to be seen or heard from again came here. So too did the bodies that others did not want to see or hear. It was their home and all the tunnels beneath them, their playground and it was currently hosting a very unwelcome guest.

    Returning to the Flagon after completing his latest escapade, Nuruin leaned in to hear Vekel the Barkeep whisper that an intruder had found residence in the Deeper and Faelsa had gone to hunt it down. It had already killed someone on Beggars Row and two associates had gone missing after running the passageways on errands the previous night. After Brynjolf had come running to Mercer with news of what it might be, the head of the guild had forbid anyone from going down until a proper response could be formulated.

    Hearing such news and the name of his friend in one breath, Niruin had groaned in understanding. A fellow Bosmer, he had discovered a kindred soul in Faelsa, a thrill seeker like himself who was unable to deny the call of the hunt lurking in her blood. They had talked away entire nights on the topic, sometimes sharing a drink, other times sharing a bed. Recently, she had spoken of chasing after more exciting prey than the baubles lying inside strongboxes. Nuruin understood this very well, but for Faelsa, the call of the hunt had always been a little bit stronger, more insistent. Confronted with news of a sudden trespasser beneath her feet, Faelsa had probably found the thought of hunting such prey to be too good to pass up, even if the consequences for disobeying Mercer tended to be severe.

    Seeing no other choice except to save his friend from herself, Nuruin had stolen his way downwards until he stood at the top of a set of spiral stairs leading down to the mid-level causeway. The Bosmer thief held his breath in concentration, listening for the telltale signs of another living being in the darkness.

    Is that water slapping stone or mimic step? Damn her...

    Standing next to a grated opening, a lookout point if there ever was one, Nuruin peered between the bars and down into the Exchange, a grand chamber where all sewer paths met. During the autumn months, the square room was bone dry with little more than the occasional run-off from the rare storms that sometimes hit the sides of the nearby mountains. In the late spring, storm water and ice melt would drown the lower extensions making it impossible to use but right now, it was the ideal interchange for traveling through the Ratway. If anything was down here, eventually, they would have to pass through this chamber.

    Straining to read the darkness, the Bosmer thief found it difficult to separate movement from the noise one could see in their eyes when trying to parse indistinct shades of black. Niruin stepped away from the opening and carefully moved down the steps. Reaching the lower landing, he stood with his back to the wall and slowly shifted his weight until he could look down the length of the mid-level gallery. The far end turned right and wrapped its way around the room, leading to other tunnels. The thief saw something shake in odd rhythms at the other end, sticking out just beyond the corner.


    The shaking stopped as if in response to his thoughts. Niruin reached for his twin daggers when a face turned the corner to peer down the gallery.

    Faelsa! Damn it woman!

    Niruin took a step away from the wall to meet up with his friend when something told him to stop. The darkness robbed him of details but the picture before him was not... correct. Faelsa was lowering herself to the ground slowly and slowly as if to give herself a different angle, a different point of view but the behavior was odd. As she got closer to the ground, Nuruin suddenly realized that her face was at too uncomfortable an angle when her head came to rest upon the ground and promptly rolled over to reveal a severed neck. The hand that had held it retracted around the corner.

    The Bosmer stifled a scream as adrenaline burst into his heart. He looked again at the rhythmic shadows from earlier and realized it was a pair of legs shaking.

    ... ...Baan Dar's mercy...

    Faelsa was a clever one, more clever than Niruin. Fear overcame the thief's resolve. He back away as slowly as he could, his lungs sealed as he became to afraid even to breath. One step, another step, a third step and slowly he walked backwards up the stairs until the galley could no longer be seen. Whipping around, he ran as fast as he could, unable to suppress the panic any longer. He heard something scream.

    It was his own voice.

    *     *     *     *

    In sewers, no one can hear you scream...


  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 14, 2012
    Yes, I agree with your assessment regarding Nephili.  I have been reviewing my story and found that I kept some distance from my main character without realizing it.  So I have been working on rectifying that a bit more, feeling those internal and maybe s...  more
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 14, 2012
    @Kyn: In terms of story revelations, I wish that I had placed the blurb about Nephili running through the Autumn Forest in the previous chapter. It's the first time I wrote something where I backtracked in time. I didn't realized I needed to write out her...  more
  • ricardo maia
    ricardo maia   ·  October 13, 2012
    Do I detect a hint of despair in Nephili's resolution to find a cure for her curse? Maybe this is the beginning of a new phase in the story. All this time Lidya has been separated from her thane will strange them even more? Their reunion has the potential...  more
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 13, 2012
    First off, lovely image at the top....interesting contrast to the entry in fact!  Really well written overall, plus your ending was pure brilliant terror!  When one is nervous and in the dark, the mind can play tricks on oneself, and you tapped into that ...  more