Story of a Breton Farm Girl from Cyrodiil, Ch.05, part 31

  • 7th of Frost Fall, 4E201


    Priestess of Mara, Dinya Balu, looked up from her ablutions and saw a young Breton woman standing before her. She wore a mages habit, her boots were caked with mud and the lines of her face spoke of exhaustion and bedragglement. Wiping her hands on a dry rag, she greeted the supplicant. “Daughter, welcome to the Benevolence of Mara. How can I help you?”

    Nephili stood unable to speak for a moment. She attempted to marshal herself. “I...”

    “Dinya Balu smiled gently. “Come with me. There is a small garden by the cemetery where we might talk more peacefully.” The Priestess walked out of the temple proper and lead the Breton to an adjoining graveyard. Walking along a crushed stone path, the Dunmer stood among dragon tongues before turning around to face her guest. “Something burdens you. I am hear to listen and Mara will guide us this day.”

    Magnus was just beginning to burn away the lake fog, bringing the hope of a bright day to a careworn city. The young Breton seemed to shrivel for a moment as she stared at the flowers. “I... in Dawnstar. I was in Dawnstar. There was a Priest of Mara there...”

    Dinya Balu brightened at hearing this. “Ahhh, you speak of Priest Erandur yes? I have not heard from him in several weeks. Do you know if he is well?”

    Nephili swallowed with difficulty, a lump growing in her throat.

    “He’s dead.”


    The Priestess stood momentarily stunned as her face slowly lost its shine. “...How did he die?”

    “...He died in Nightcaller Temple. We, we were helping him clear out the tower of worshipers of Vaermina. A daedric artifact within was threatening the people of Dawnstar and...” Nephili looked down at the ground. “He fell at the last.”

    “I see...” The Priestess looked away to her garden to reflect on the news. “He was a good man. Troubled by his past but steadfast in his love.” Dinya Balu turned to face her guest once more. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I know something of Priest Erandur, so I can imagine a bit of what might have happened. Did you come all this way only to tell us such grievous news?”

    Nephili looked away to the distance, unable to hold Dinya Balu’s gaze. “Priestess, ...I, I seek redemption. I came from Cyrodiil to fulfill a dream, my dream..., and I find myself in a nightmare. I see no solution before me and I struggle to prove to myself and... others, of what I long to be. I no longer see myself anymore and, I have judged unfairly... others...”

    Nephili shut her eyes and turned her face downward to hide her quivering voice. “... I don’t know what I must do anymore!”

    The two women stood, one desperately holding back her tears, the other gazing upon the first, wondering how to guide such a lost soul. Dinya turned aside to gaze at the graveyard, allowing a moment of silence to collect her thoughts before speaking. "Do... you love, child?"


    "Do you wish to be loved?"

    The Breton girl pressed the heals of her palms upon her cheeks and wiped away the fraction of her emotions that had escaped. "yYe... ...yes."

    The Dunmer smiled at the small Breton. "Than you are not lost."

    Nephili looked up at the Priestess, her face a picture of struggle and longing.

    "I know not the depths of your troubles but I know this. Even as you are now, if you have within yourself such desires, than your struggles are not in vain. Believe in that part of you and you may discover that what troubles you does not loom so large."

    The farmgirl from Cyrodiil stood in her own silence as she struggled to understand the words. The Priestess, sensing the pitched battle within, searched for something else to say. This one had isolated herself, the walls around her heart high and unbroken. "My child, I have need of someone that might be willing to help the goddess Mara. It may help you to understand your own struggles... Would you consider going on pilgrimage on behalf of the Lady?"

    *     *     *     *
    10th of Frost Fall, 4E201

    Fog curled across Lake Honrich as Masser's red crescent dipped behind the Throat of the World. Around her banks stood the autumn trees, sentinels whispering in the dim reddened light as the swirling tendrils of mist swallowed everything in its path. Such nights were often used to scare children into bed, as parents spoke of specters hiding in the gray nothingness, waiting to kidnap those that were still out and about. Wisp mother's tongue, the shoremen called it. Had someone stood upon the quay, they would have seen three murky figures appear out of that gossamer, wading into the shallows of the lake. The scenery would have convinced every child of the truth of such tales.

    Lydia, Mjoll and Aerin stood knee deep before an exposed sewer outlet, the warm stink of humanity condensing into fog as it spilled forth. The Nord warrior approached to climb in first but was held back by a hand on her shoulder. Looking over, the housecarl saw Aerin pull forward to stand before the entrance. A moment later, he drew his sword and climbed into the stink. Mjoll joined her at the mouth and turned to speak with a wink. "If you're wondering why he chose to go first, you'll see soon enough." The Lioness ducked down to follow after. Lydia closed in from behind.

    Fifty paces in, the sound of their footsteps changed, indicating a bigger space. Lydia brought forth her flint and steel and lit her torch. She found herself in a tall cylindrical cistern with several inlets feeding the chamber along with a bigger tunnel within which they could almost stand tall. Guarding the way was a lattice of iron bars, a hinged section in the middle acting as a door. An iron clasp held it in place.

    Aerin stood before it and peered into the darkness. He turned to speak quietly to the other two. "This... should be clear, at least for bit. I'll know better once we're further inside." Turning back, the young Imperial brought forth an iron bar and placed the end into the clasp for leverage and pulled. The lock momentarily groaned from the stress before giving away with a loud snap. The young Imperial pulled open the gate and stepped over the threshold.

    The housecarl turned to her sworn sister with a look of intense curiosity.

    Mjoll smiled. "Does it look like he can see in the dark?"

    "...can he?"

    "Actually, he can't."

    "Then how does he..."

    Mjoll tapped her nose with her index finger several times. "His grandfather was a lycanthrope."

    The Nord warrior looked hard at the Lioness, blinking several times before turning to Aerin. He had turned around to observe the conversation and casually stated, "I can't turn into one. Whether the blood is too weak or some other reason, I cannot say, but I inherited certain ah, conditions."

    Mjoll walked through the open grate as Lydia absorbed the revelation for a few seconds and then followed after their receding forms.

    The tunnel had turned out not to be a sewer trunk but a connecting structure to another part of the sub-aquifer system. The three descended, aware that they were now below the water table until finally arriving at an identical lattice grate and gate to the one they had broken open. Just beyond was a colonnade and to its right was a grand multilevel chamber. A sputtering torch lay on the ground barely illuminating the floor around it. Iron bars separated the two spaces while a single lattice door allowed access. At the other end of the colonnade, a pitch darkness indicated a possible tunnel leading away and the chamber itself appeared to be dotted with several openings at various levels. Aerin put up his hand and drew up against the wall. Noises could be heard echoing off the stone. Lydia extinguished her torch, plunging the world into the faintest of outlines.

    "This way! I saw something move down below!" Footsteps gathered on a level above.

    "You watch the chamber and make sure nothing gets up top. The rest of us will sweep the lower levels."

    Aerin turned back and whispered to Mjoll. "Seems like we've come at an unfortunate time. Should we turn back?"

    "Nonsense. We've come all this way, I'll not turn around because of some thieves prancing about in the dark. Check the grate, see if it's open."

    Aerin reached out to work the latch. Rust caked off as the bolt turned, a squeak of protest at its handling. The young Imperial nodded to his companions and readied his sword. The Lioness whispered to the other two. "Once we're through, we'll head to what I think is a tunnel opposite us and see where that goes. I'd rather not have my head shot through with an arrow."

    The three made ready their weapons when scuffling noises could be heard nearby. Peering over Mjoll's shoulder, Lydia looked into the grand chamber and saw strange lights momentarily appearing down a bottom level passageway.


    A man cloaked in dark leather and deep shadows appeared, his bow drawn. Stepping away from the walls, he turned his weapon upwards and aimed at something.

    "Daglin? Is that you down there?"

    The man named Daglin, released his bowstring sending the missile flying into his ally. The lookout above grunted, his lungs collapsed in pain as he fell down two stories to land with the dull crack of bone breaking inside flesh. Daglin dropped his bow and stood ready in the middle of the room. A second figure walked out to stand behind him, the outline indicating a female. The two moved as one through the lattice gate under the colonnade before stopping at the other end. The feeble torch gave only a hint of what happened next but it was enough. The female was seen reaching up to grab the thief's head and sank her teeth into his neck.

    The two Nords and the Imperial stood absolutely still as the scene unfolded before them. Daglin slowly slumped into the vampire before sliding off her bodice to wither into the floor. The dark silhouette wiped its mouth as she looked about in the darkness before stopping all movement. The vampire had become aware of the three voyeurs and stared in shock. She hissed and backed away.

    One of the thieves searching the Ratway came into earshot. "Sithis!"

    "Brynjolf, Tharsten's dead and on the lower level!"

    A second voice spoke up a moment later. "Lads, we regroup... where's Daglin?"


    "Damn it!"

    "You and Vipir head back up and see what's Mercer's group is doing. They should have followed us in by now. I'll guard the Exchange from here with Ravynn. Hurry!"

    Lydia watched the dark silhouette under the colonnade stare back at them through the grate. Magic lit her hand momentarily before its release. The two woman and Aerin tried to back away in the thickness of time but to no avail; the burst of magics traveled too swiftly. As the three watched, the energies hit the iron lattice but instead of an explosion, it dissipated. The shadowed figure hissed in frustration and disappeared into the darkness behind her, though no sounds offered proof.

    Mjoll spoke once her breath returned. "We kill her tonight." and pushed passed Aerin to open the grate. Lydia followed behind, her mind in chaos. In the brief light given off by the vampire's magics, the housecarl wondered if her eyes had been deceived. That could not have been her Thane.

    *     *     *     *

    Once you start down the Dark Path, forever will it dominate your destiny.


  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 21, 2012
    @Kyn - on the nose there Kyn! I totally saw him as a devoted puppy dog wolfy pup. In my mind, the history I've devised for Aerin, gives him a little more gravitas, making him less annoying. I'll point you all back to a clue I left in the previous entry. H...  more
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 21, 2012
    Great way to end this entry, all of our minds swirling along with Lydia's.  I really liked the development with Nephili...she seems to be bouncing between Daedra and Aedra looking for guidance, and I am curious to read what she finds with Mara.  Wanting t...  more
  • Jake Dassel
    Jake Dassel   ·  October 18, 2012
    I sense an awesome battle between Mjoll and Nephili, or Mjoll and Lydia...
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 18, 2012
    Ricardo, I love your comments and I've used a few to re-evaluate my ongoing efforts but I got to say, I just can't imagine nephili's downward spiral happening with fewer words. I like action as much as the next guy but I find character development to be m...  more
  • ricardo maia
    ricardo maia   ·  October 18, 2012
    Following your characteristic slow narrative flow, we've reached yet another crisis, this one I think, may well be proven decisive. The plot is now thick and mature, the characters are very well presented, the tale yearns for a climax. I'm not trying to r...  more