Aedric the Hunter - Chapter 8: Dancing with Death

  • 24th of Last Seed 4E201

    I awoke feeling ready for the new day in the Cistern, and cooked myself a meal. Some of the other thieves joined me, and we discussed my work at Goldenglow the previous night. They hailed me as some kind of master thief – but I assured them a good thief wouldn’t have to battle his way through an army of mercenaries. I still needed to work on my stealth and lockpicking ability before I could take that title. Perhaps I could make some potions to help me – I opted to collect Nirnroots and Luna Moths today in hope of making some invisibility potions with all the Chaurus eggs I’d discovered. I was thankful Mercer wasn’t around, as I didn’t think he’d be too happy to see me if I wasn’t looking for work. I made my way out the secret entrance, and decided to explore to the west of Riften, around Lake Honrich. I left the gloomy city walls, emerging into the beautiful autumn trees of the Rift.

    I ventured west past the outlying farms, and followed the edge of the mountains, still in sight of the water’s edge. It was very relaxing to simply be exploring the woods – something I’d not had the luxury of for quite some time. The last few weeks had always had a destination in mind, a task set for the day – no freedom to roam wherever I wished. I thought of Slygja as I walked under the branches. Perhaps I’d visit her again tonight – I could make a loop around the lake within a few hours easily, but I wanted to explore what I found along the way. Perhaps I could bring her a gift – something I’ll no doubt find someplace today. My chain of thought was abruptly halted however, as I came across a ruined tower, flanked by impaled goat heads and bloodied mammoth tusks. I’d heard about these hag dens before, but never actually been in one. I drew my bow and crept inside, to find two robed women spraying streams of freezing energy at each other. One of the women won the duel fairly quickly, but did seem wounded. I emerged from the shadows behind her, bowstring drawn taut. “Turn around, very slowly.” She did as she was told, and I saw a middle-aged Imperial woman under the cowl of her robe. I shook my head at her. “Explain yourself. Now.” “This-this isn’t what it looks like! She was trying to stop me from leaving!” she said, pointing at the now dead woman on the floor. “It’s my mother. I’ve done horrible things in here, but this is just too much! She’s trying to change herself into a hagraven and needs me to bring her a willing human sacrifice.” I was quite taken aback. “That’s it!” she said, angrily. “I’m going to go up there and stop her, whether you’re going to help me or not.” I lowered my draw slightly. She seemed genuine, and I stopped her as she turned to leave. “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to stop this?” She nodded back to me. “Then I’ll come with you.” I introduced myself and extended my hand. “Aedric.” “I’m Illia. Let’s be off, we haven’t a moment to lose!”

    I let Illia take the lead, as I didn’t want her behind me in case of any treachery on her part. She didn’t seem to have any concept of staying hidden or even being slightly inconspicuous – she ran into every room, throwing ice spikes at everything in sight. This was somewhat advantageous for me, however, as they were too focused on her to see me firing my bow from a different angle. We advanced up the first two floors with little difficulty, only encountering some novice mages and the occasional Frostbite Spider. On the third level there was some sort of living quarters, and the witches here seemed to be a little more powerful, but still no challenge for Illia and I. Their simple black robes did little to protect them from blade and arrow. I did take a few hits but the frost magic had very little effect on my Nord body. As I swallowed a quick healing draught we came to a gate controlled me a lever and Illia stopped me. “One of the hagravens is ahead. Gather your strength and let me know when you’re ready.” I decided it would be best to rest, even for a few minutes. “What can you tell me about these hagravens?” I asked. “I’ve never seen one, let alone faced one in battle.” “They’re horrific merging of woman and bird – they were former witches that traded their humanity for even greater power. They’re quite hardy, and are masters of fire magic. They usually try and use their claws at close range but they aren’t very strong.” I nodded. “Let’s go.” I drew my greatsword, and braced myself to charge, as Illia opened the gate. I spotted the hagraven in an archway as it turned and threw a large fireball at us. It missed my head my inches and I heard a huge explosion as it struck the opposite wall and lit up the entire room. Just as it was about to throw another, I rammed my pommel into its gut and it staggered backwards a few feet. I used this opportunity to manoeuvre behind it, as Illia began throwing spikes of ice at it. As it righted itself it struck at me with one of its claws, raking them across my chest. They didn’t find much purchase on the leather armor and I fought on. I danced around the edge of its reach, slicing all over its body. It turned to flee further up the tower, and I took the opportunity to quickly draw my bow and fire a shot into the back of its head. Impressed with my handiwork, I scraped some valuables into my pack and continued up the tower with Illia.

    The next room was a large two-story circular chamber with a group of large wooden spikes in the centre. We dispatched the witches in this area quickly and efficiently, and we came to a locked door. “Damn! Locked,” Illia said. “One of the Hagravens has the key.” She motioned towards a nearby staircase. “You seem more than capable so I’ll stand watch here.” I examined the lock. It was extremely complex – I’d have to spend half an hour at least and most of my picks cracking it. I took Illia’s suggestion and headed up the staircase. I emerged into a darkened room with two raised platforms linked by a bridge, with a tent on each platform. One housed a powerful looking witch and the other a hagraven. I took down the witch with a few quick shots before the hagraven saw me, and I charged. Its fireball struck me as I ran, scorching my skin and hair. I made a mental note to use a fire resistance potion next time. Once I closed to melee range it was my fight however, and the hagraven went down quickly. I returned to Illia with the hagraven’s key and some of its treasure, and we continued up the tower. After a couple of brief engagements it seemed we’d finally reached the top. “I’ve got a plan,” Illia said. “Oh?” “I’ll present you to my mother as my sacrifice. Once she begins the ritual, we take her by surprise and kill her. Just follow me and let me do the talking.” I pushed open the door and followed her through as we emerged into the sunlight. “Morning, mother. I’ve found a willing subject for you.” “Thank you dear,” she said to Illia, turning to me. “Sit down on the chair and we can begin.” I did as I was told and she began chanting, as Illia drew her dagger and spoke. “You have to die, mother,” she said, angrily. As her mother turned around I sprung from the chair and drew my weapon in one motion. Illia’s mother had already grabbed her staff and prepared spells, and I advanced on her with a mighty overhead strike. It sent her staggering forward as I followed up with several more strikes. The battlefield was covered in magical flame streaming from her staff. Eventually, Illia’s frost magic had slowed her to a crawl, and I took the opening to thrust my sword clean through her chest.

     As the flames died down Illia stood in shock. “Just go. Take her things if you want – consider it payment. I need some time to myself.” Illia’s mother had amassed quite a collection of enchanted items, which I was more than happy to procure for myself. I made my way out the gate and left Illia on top of the tower.

    It was past noon by the time I descended the tower. I had some meat in my pack and I decided to make a cooking fire for lunch instead of eating the dried meat I’d had for the last few days – I wasn’t on a tight schedule. It was a delicious and filling meal, but just as I finished a rush of air came past as a huge shadow flew overhead. I rose from the ground and drew my bow, to find a dragon hovering above the trees around the clearing. I just had time to dive behind a boulder as it opened its mouth letting forth a gout of flame. I let loose a few arrows before it flew off again. This time it tried a different angle, and I bore the full brunt of the attack. The thin trees in the Rift offered little cover, but I still managed to fire off a couple more arrows before healing myself with a spell. This time it landed in the clearing, giving me the opportunity to engage it with my blade. It was a fiercely fought battle, and I managed a long slice down the side of its neck. It reared and shrieked in pain and I took the opportunity to attack its underbelly. As it fell and I began to absorb its soul, I understood the third word I had learned – ‘Su’ or ‘air’. I packed up my supplies and continued westward.

    As I followed the road around Lake Honrich, I spotted a giant approaching a large walled settlement. I walked over to investigate and spotted 3 Orc warriors engaging the enormous humanoid. One by one they fell to the Giant’s mighty attacks but the others stood their ground. As the final one was launched into the sky, never to be seen again, a female Orc shaman emerged onto the battlements and began filling the giant with ice spikes. As it smashed through the wooden gate I drew my blade and broke into a jog. “SU!” The air seemed to surround my blade, pushing it along as I swung it. It allowed me to strike much more quickly than usual. I knew my leather armor wouldn’t do much to stop the massive giant’s club, and attempting to parry it would end with dislocated joints. The frost magic slowed the giant down considerably, giving me time to evade in and out of its reach. It made slow but powerful blows, which were easy to predict and dodge. As the giant fell to its knees, impaled by ice spikes, I sliced a long cut along its gut, and it collapsed to the ground, dead.

    The Orc woman came down from the battlements and approached me. We introduced ourselves; her name was Atub, and this stronghold was called Largashbur. Apparently the stronghold and their leader had been cursed, and they were slowly being wiped out by giant attacks. “I need to contact Malacath for aid in lifting the curse. Chief Lamarz won’t allow me to travel to His shrine, so I must perform the ritual here.” “Let me guess, this is where I come in?” “You are correct, outsider. I need troll fat and a Daedra heart to perform the ritual, and I have neither. If you could bring me these I would be ever grateful.” “I’ll be sure to bring them here if I find any.” I took my leave as she thanked me for my offer of service. It was late afternoon already, so I decided to cross the lake over to the other side. There was a shallow section of knee-deep water near where the river flowed into the lake, which I used to cross over to the other side. Upon reaching the other side, a ruined fort loomed up before me. As I approached I heard a man’s voice. “Give ‘em the dogs, boys!” a cage under the entryway opened and a pack of wolves rushed out. They posed little threat to an accomplished warrior such as me. As I entered the fort, the gate slammed shut behind me and a ring of bandits emerged from the walls, bows drawn. The area I was stuck in had walls several metres high, but a door at the opposite end, about 20 metres away. I sprinted to the door as arrows whizzed past me and clattered against the stone walls and embedded themselves in the ground. Luckily the door was unlocked, and I threw myself inside as a couple of arrows embedded themselves in my armor. One of them struck the heavy leather pauldron on my right shoulder, and the other just above my right hip. I pulled them out and worked a little healing magic before continuing through the fort.

    The bandits here were tougher than the ones around Riverwood, but they didn’t present too much of a challenge. I managed to take most by surprise since they were too busy tending to the countless number of wolves in cages. I decided to put the whimpering beasts out of their misery – being caged was hardly a life for a wolf and if I let them out they would simply attack me. The bandits didn’t appear to be too organised, I was only encountering one or two at a time, and I soon found out why. They’d built a fighting ring in a room under the fort, complete with seating and a booth. There were several bandits in there placing bets on two wolves in the ring. I caught one of them in the back with an arrow as her had slammed into the cage bars in front of her. The two others advanced down the corridor I was hiding in and I caught another in the neck. The last one deflected my arrow with his shield and I drew my sword as I stood up. I parried his axe away and made a strike at his abdomen, which he deflected with his shield. I dodged the next blow, pommel bashed him and proceeded with a deadly flurry of blows. I spotted heaps of gold and treasure within the booth, but the lock was incredibly complex and there was no key to be found. I worked the lock for some time and eventually opened it, claiming several enchanted items, several hundred gold and an enchanted silver emerald necklace. I’d have to give that one to Sylgja sometime. I fought my way through the rest of the fort with little difficulty and finally emerged outside. I was just below a staircase that led up to the bandit’s camp, and I recognised some of the ones who shot at me earlier. They either mustn’t have heard or cared about the fighting inside, and they seemed to be fairly relaxed. This had to change. Arrows flew and I caught two in the head before the others reacted, and took down another while they charged me. I caught one with my blade the second he got into range. The other fought very defensively, and I pushed him back to the edge of the wall, and shouted him to his death. I retrieved a key from one of the dead and used it to unlock a door which led further up the battlements. Two more bandits awaited me there and I manoeuvred around to gain a height advantage, at which point they fell quickly. There was one more tower in the fort, which I advanced towards as two wolves charged from the door. I swept them aside with ease and continued upwards. I crept slowly up the stairs to make minimal noise. It was already night time and the whole fort was shrouded in shadow. I couldn’t see anyone as I neared the top of the stairs. I continued into the makeshift building on top of the tower, as an massively built Redguard man emerged, wearing a full set of fine Steel armor, wielding a mace of Dwarven make. Before I could react, he struck me square in the chest, sending me flying back to the staircase. I tumbled down to a landing and my sword clattered to the floor next to me. As the bandit chief starting jeering at me my vision turned white...

    My thoughts seemed to rush by at an alarming rate. I almost thought I could see Shor’s Hall in Sovngarde, where no doubt my parents would be waiting. Then I thought of what still awaited me in Skyrim. My destiny as Dragonborn, Hrefna, Annekke, Sylgja, and the friends I’d made in Riverwood. As the vision of Sovngarde faded I uttered a barely audible prayer. “Kynareth give me strength!” The bandit chief was still standing in the same place; I must’ve only been out for seconds. I shouted. “SU!” The wind threw my greatsword back into my hand as I ran up the stairs. This man was an extremely talented warrior, perhaps even better than me. I battered his shield relentlessly, wearing down his left arm. As the wind around my blade dissipated he roared and lunged at me I half dodged and half parried his blow, as my guard folded under the assault. After a sweeping sideways blow I barely managed to move out of the way of it was my turn. He was drained from delivering such powerful blows and weathering me battering his shield arm. The Elven blade found purchase on the steel plates, wounding the chief further, eventually driving him to the ground. With a deft flourish, I threw the mace and shield from his grip and pinned him to his back. He uttered a curse under his breath as I drove the sword into his chest. I collapsed against the parapet as I scrabbled for healing potions in my pack – I couldn’t maintain the concentration for a healing spell in this condition. I felt better after a few draughts and raided the chief’s treasure stash. Amongst the hoard of enchanted gear I found a pair of leather boots that seemed to reduce the weight of what I was carrying. I’d discovered plenty of loot today – the merchants of the Rift would certainly be getting some new stock.

    It would’ve been around midnight when I reached Shor’s Stone, and luckily Sylgja was still awake. I didn’t want to be back in the Cistern when I’m not ready to accept a new job, and I doubted the I’d be very welcome in the Bee and Barb. She asked what had happened to me – she must’ve seen the dried blood covering my armor. I gave her a brief version before asking if I could stay with her for the night. “I’m sure my bed’s big enough for two,” she said, winking.


    Shor's Stone is a central location in the Rift. What should Aedric do tomorrow?

    1. Travel to Ivarstead and climb the 7000 steps
    2. Return to Riften for more work
    3. Other

    Let me know in the comments below!

    Next chapter is up, read it here


  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  February 4, 2012
     Really enjoyed the Ilia section...I have not played that quest, and it is very moving...I still was not sure if she was on the "up and up," but she did a difficult thing.  I will have to look for that one!  Very smoothly written, Ponty, just like Aedric! 
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  February 3, 2012
    To Ivarstead it is!
  • Dreema
    Dreema   ·  February 3, 2012
    Truthfully - this is the first time I have played the elder scrolls series and completed the main quest - there was just so much to do as a sideline that I never bothered.  It would be rather fun to see how the game played by avoiding the main storyline entirely.
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  February 3, 2012
    @Dreema I did consider speaking to some of the other writers and doing crossovers and such but it'd just be a big argument about who's actually the dragonborn!
  • Dreema
    Dreema   ·  February 3, 2012
    Nicely written!  Well done!  Yanno....I have half a mind to have Aedric cross paths with Dreema at the guild!  Something about cross-character meetings would be awesome!  Although that may have a weird "Wait, Dragonborn?  WTF" part to it heheh.  
    Do...  more
  • Piper Jo
    Piper Jo   ·  February 3, 2012
    Ponty, I had this dream that I was a small town reporter in Dovakiin City, reporting on the meteoric rise in our population to 97.  I interviewed you as a prominent citizen and your quote was, "Imagine my surprise when I posted, and then immediately check...  more
  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  February 3, 2012
    Bloody hell that would nearly kill Larz in one hit. I liked the little nod to him spending the night with Sylgja whit woo lol
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  February 3, 2012
    Thanks Guy. I thought the bandit chief would be a little of a 'wake-up' call for Aedric, as I had noticed his fighting style and stealth caused him to basically walk all over everything in his path. When I was playing it in-game the chief actually did abo...  more
  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  February 3, 2012
    Another excellent tale in the story of Aedric ponty. VEry action packed and full of suspense. I thought he was walking through all of the enemies rather easily but then blew me away with that bandit chief bit nice work man.
    I would say 2 return to r...  more
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  February 2, 2012
    Thanks Julian  I usually don't bother proofreading my work - after 3000+ words all I want to do is upload it! Feel free to PM me any mistakes and I'll correct them.