Aedric the Hunter - Chapter 16: Blades and Shadows

  • 2nd Hearth Fire 4E201

    I awoke to find Delphine waiting outside my room. “I’m going to head up to Solitude early. Meet me in the Winking Skeever before nightfall and I’ll let you know what’s going on.” I nodded – getting into the Thalmor embassy wasn’t going to be easy – but Delphine was the woman with a plan. I was intrigued about what she’d managed to cook up over the last few days. As I walked out of the inn she tossed me a sideways glance. “Try not to be late.” With that I began my journey back to Riften via High Hrothgar. I worked out I could tie up my horse near Helgen, and make the way up to the monastery through Skybound Watch Pass. It’d be much quicker than taking the Steps from Ivarstead, and I could quickly come back down and ride on to Riften. I rode up to Helgen in the dawn sun and tied my steed to a tree in the middle of a rare patch of grass amongst the snows, before setting on to Skybound Watch.

    The walk from Helgen was fairly short, and I soon came along a familiar sight. Three wisps were milling around the pathway into the pass. Their mother wouldn’t be hiding far away either. But this time, instead of running past them, I drew my blade from its sheath and advanced towards them. The wisps swivelled towards me as I drew closer and hovered over to investigate. A grin drew across my face as I lashed out at the first one, destroying it in a green explosion. Sure enough, the Wispmother was drawn from the snow and I Shouted a blast of flame, destroying the other two. Ducking under a volley of three ice spikes I leapt up and struck at its torso with my sword. It seemed to have little effect at first, but a fragment of the Wispmother’s freezing garb fell away with a blast of cold air, and the spirit shrieked. With a shout of “SU GRAH!” I pressed the attack, my blade slicing through the wispmother like a storm of steel. It blasted a freezing stream at me, as well as creating several clones of itself, but my Nord blood kept me safe from the cold. Felling the clones with a single blow each, I staggered the wispmother with a shout of “FUS!” and stepped to the side, finishing it off with a blow to the torso. With one last cry it disintegrated into a pile of glowing dust and ghostly wrappings, which I grabbed up and packed away. The feeling of achievement was overwhelming – only a two weeks ago I was just another man, but I’d grown so much more capable in the time between – not to mention discovering my powers as Dragonborn. And on that note I made my way through the pass and climbed the rest of the mountain to High Hrothgar.

    Pushing open the huge ironbound doors into the monastery, I left my equipment by one of the braziers at the door and retrieved the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller from my pack. Arngeir met me in the main hall and I presented the Horn to him. He took it from my hands and whispered something in the dragon tongue that resounded throughout the monastery. The other 3 Greybeards emerged from the hallways and Arngeir spoke. “Well done. You have passed all the trials. It is time for us to recognise you formally as Dragonborn. Master Wulfgar will now teach you the final word of Unrelenting Force, which means ‘Da’ or ‘Push’. With all three words together, your shout will be much more powerful.” I learned the word, and absorbed Wulfgar’s knowledge of it.  Arngeir spoke again. “You have completed your training, Dragonborn. We would Speak to you. Stand between us, and prepare yourself. Few can withstand the unbridled Voice of the Greybeards. But you are ready.” I stood between them and they began chanting in the Dragon tongue. Cracks of thunder shook the very room and resounding blasts of sound assaulted my ears. After about 30 seconds, the Greybeards stopped. “You have tasted the voice of the Greybeards and passed through unscathed. High Hrothgar is open to you.” “What were you saying then?” “Ah, I forget you are not as well versed in the Dragon Tongue as us. We were giving the traditional greeting from the Greybeards to the Dragonborn. You as Ysmir now; Dragon of the North.” With a bow he dismissed me, and I went to retrieve my equipment. But much to my horror, my blade lay there in an innumerable number of pieces! The battle with the Wispmother must have cooled the blade significantly, and then leaving it by the fire would have made it brittle. The Greybeards’ voice must have been the last straw, and it lay in pieces in front of me, the shards glimmering in the firelight. “Remember, Dragonborn. Your Thu’um is a weapon that will never break or dull,” said Arngeir, before striding out of sight.

    Making my way down the mountain was fairly easy, especially with the use of the word “Feim”, I could jump down dozens of metres without getting injured. I was soon back on my horse on my way to Riften, and it was only mid-morning. I’d have to rely on my bow for at least the next few days – I simply hadn’t the time to forge a new blade and simple Nord steel wasn’t good enough anymore. The things I’d come to expect from my blades – a simple steel sword couldn’t pierce armor or flesh like an Elven one could. Luckily enough I made it into Riften and back into the Cistern without confrontation. Mercer called me over to his desk immediately. “Well, Aedric, Maven has told me you did a fine job at Honningbrew. The documents recovered from there have given us some quite valuable information.” “I’m guessing this is where I come in?” “Well if you shut your damn mouth you’d know!” Mercer replied. “This document is marked with the same insignia as the Goldenglow bill of sale – and we’ve tracked down the broker. The Goldenglow bill is signed by a ‘Guluj-Lei’.” I raised my eyebrows. “That’s an alias for our inside man, or rather lizard, at the East Empire in Solitude – his real name is Gulum-Ei. You’re going to go there, and make him talk. Now get to work,” he said, pointing once again to the door. Now I had yet another reason to make my way to Solitude – might as well start now.

    The morning was going by quickly and I reached Whiterun just after noon. I didn’t stop for a meal, but ate in the saddle instead. I didn’t encounter anything on the roads, much to my surprise – not that I wasn’t glad for it. An encounter with a dragon probably wouldn’t go so well. But it was no matter – the walls of Solitude loomed up above the sea in the mid-afternoon and I stabled my horse and entered the gates. Heading straight for the Winking Skeever, I was met by a wave from Corpulus and a gasp from Sorex, who was sweeping the stone floor at the time. Throwing him a bag of 200 septims, I said “You’ll have to try a little harder next time.” He turned away with a scowl and Corpulus beckoned me over. “A Breton woman came in a few hours ago. Told me to send you up to her room when you arrived.” He directed me up to Delphine’s room and I entered. With her was a Wood Elf, and they were poring over a sheet of plans and maps. “Ah, Aedric, you’re here. This is Malborn,” she said, motioning to the Bosmer. He extended his hand, which I shook. If he was working with Delphine, he must be trustworthy – the Blade wasn’t stupid. “We’ve finalized our plans for getting you into the Embassy,” Delphine said.  “The Emissary, Elenwen, is holding a party for all the well-connected people in Skyrim tomorrow afternoon into the evening. I’m going to be serving drinks there,” Malborn said. “I’ve gotten you an invitation into the party – all you have to do is slip further into the complex unnoticed and search for information. Malborn can smuggle your equipment inside – you seem to travel fairly light, for an adventurer – just escape with that info and bring it back to Riverwood.” “Sounds good,” I replied. “We’ll meet back here at 2pm tomorrow. Then we can pack up your equipment, I’ll get you some more suitable attire, and give you your invitation. You’re free to go until then – just try not to get yourself killed.”

    I checked the smithy and other stores for a suitable weapon to replace my greatsword, but to no avail. There was plenty of decent wares for sale, but nothing of a quality I was expecting. A day would be enough time to forge a new blade, but Beirand simply didn’t have the materials in stock needed. Instead, I reported back in with the Legion later that afternoon. “Excellent work down at Korvanjund, soldier. Rikke gave me the report,” General Tullius said. “I’ll need use of your talents in a few days, but I don’t have anything right now. The war is about to begin, Aedric. And the Legion is going to be ready.”

    I had the night to myself so I decided to go find this “Gulum-Ei”. I asked Corpulus in the Winking Skeever – he seemed to know alot about what was going on in Solitude – and pointed out an Argonian in the very establishment. I sat down at his table. “Something I can do for you, Nord?” he asked. “Well, Gulum-Ei, I’ve got a few questions to ask you. Or should I say Guluj-Lei?” “Ah, you’re one of Mercer’s men I see. Well how about you do something for me first.” “Fine, what is it?” “There’s a case of Firebrand Wine in the Palace. One of my clients wants it.” Within minutes I’d returned to the Winking Skeever with the case in my pack and placed it on the table. “Not bad, Aedric.” That raised my eyebrows. “Yes, I know who you are. Anyway, what did you want to know?” “You acted as a broker for Goldenglow Estate. Who did you buy it for?” “I don’t know. In my business we deal in money, not names. I was handed a large sack of gold by a very angry woman with which to buy the estate. I don’t know anything else – now leave me be.” He immediately got up and left the inn. I didn’t believe his story one bit – and opted to shadow him. Perhaps I’d find out more information that way. Out of the gates and down to the East Empire Warehouse I followed him, and he entered the warehouse itself. Quietly dropping down behind the guard standing in front of the door, I entered the building unnoticed. It was a massive cave built into the cliffs – a maze of shipping crates and goods, patrolled by several well-armed Orc wardens. All this was built around a large pool in the centre where ships could load and unload. Gulum-Ei weaved his way through the cargo, and I climbed on top of one of the crates. Going prone, I watched as he made his way around the edge of the cavern. I jumped between the piles of crates, unseen by the guards below, occasionally taking an item or two of interest. Eventually Gulum-Ei disappeared behind some of the crates – this must be the entrance to his hideout. Silently dropping into the water, I swam across and surfaced unseen on the other side. Following Gulum-Ei’s footsteps, I emerged into a far rougher cavern, which was, much to my surprise, populated by bandits. The cave was a set of paths and walkways by a stream that ran the entire length of the cave, dotted with some of the shipping containers. Working my way through the bandits with bow, shadow and arrow, I reached where Gulum-Ei was hiding. He was sitting at a table next to a large fireplace, surrounded by shelves of cargo. He seemed to be arguing with a Bosmer archer bandit, who quickly found an arrow in her chest. As she searched the surrounds for me, I placed two more in her body, and she fell. But in my concentration on hitting my mark, another had managed to sneak up on me. I heard the clinking of plate mail not a metre behind me and spun around to see a fully armoured Nord standing over me, axe and shield drawn. “You’re a disgrace to your own kind!” he shouted, before taking a swing at me. I barely managed to manoeuvre out of the way in time, and I dipped my next arrow in a paralysis poison, and backed off. He lowered his head behind his shield, just as I had expected. With a shout of “WUL!” I surged forward on the wind, and stabbed the arrow into his thigh. He toppled into the stream, and I followed him down, taking shots along the way. He managed to climb out, and I shot again with a poison that increased his susceptibility to future poisons, and then with a slowing and damaging poison. He grunted in annoyance as a barrage of arrows pierced his flesh, unable to move to cover or close enough to hit me. Eventually he fell for good, trails of blood streaming through the water. I strode over to Gulum-Ei, bow drawn. “I-I can explain. You’re a reasonable person, right?” “Start talking.” “Ok, ok! The woman who paid me – her name was Karliah. She’s the one that killed Gallus – the old Guildmaster. She’s trying to sever the Guild’s ties with Maven and crush them from the inside. But maybe if you don’t tell Mercer about what’s going on here,” he said, motioning to his collection of stolen cargo, “Or my part in any of this, there’d be something in it for you.” “Like?” “I’ll let you take whatever you want from the crates... and I’ll buy stolen goods off you when you’re in town. Sound good?” Killing the Argonian would solve nothing – the damage was already done. And I’d scared him enough to make him think twice before trying it again. “Deal.” He tossed me a key. “This should open all the crates – take whatever you want. Just don’t tell Mercer!” I searched the room thoroughly – but didn’t find much of note. Just the odd golden statue, enchanted weapon, that sort of thing. But just as I was about to leave, a glint of silver caught my eye. Going over to the source, I found two absolutely beautiful shortswords. Polished high-quality steel blades, golden hilts and detailing, fine leather-wrapped pommels – not to mention an edge as sharp as anything. I’d received basic training in shortswords in the Legion – I could use these. Belting them to my waist, I saluted Gulum-Ei before leaving the cave and returning to the Skeever.

    3rd of Hearth Fire 4E201

    First thing in the morning the next day, I made my way up to the drill ground outside Castle Dour. Nobody was around yet, and I gave the shortswords some experimental swings. They were balanced just right, and felt almost weightless in my hands. I could make the basic swings and thrusts, but I really lacked the skill of any tricky manoeuvres I could use to get the upper hand. But soon enough, the drill ground was bustling with soldiers practicing their archery and swordsmanship, and I went and talked to Captain Aldis. “Morning, Dragonborn. What can I do for you today?” “I need training in how to fight with two shortswords.” “It would be my honor to oblige. First we should deal with using your offhand more effectively...” The training session lasted the rest of the morning, and I practised particularly tricky moves while Aldis drilled the other soldiers. By midday I was almost as good as a seasoned swordsman. “You learn quickly, Aedric. You’ll be a master in no time.” “I’m sure it’ll serve me well. Thank you for your time, Captain.” With a salute I left the drill ground and returned to the Winking Skeever. The party was upon us – it was time for me to go to the embassy.

    The carriage arrived at the large complex in the mountains to the north of Solitude, where I arrived at the same time as a Redguard man. “It appears we’re both late to the party, eh? You first, I insist.” He said. “I’m Razelan by the way. And you are?” “Bathmar. Let’s make our way in, shall we?” I replied. “As I said, after you.” I approached the Thalmor guard. “Invitation, please.” I presented the forged document. “Welcome, sir. Go right in.” I was greeted inside by the Emissary herself, but Malborn distracted her before I could say anything stupid. “We’ll have to talk some other time,” Elenwen said. “Please enjoy yourself.” I went over to Malborn to order a drink. “Just make a distraction and we can slip out through the kitchen. Just come over when you’re ready,” he whispered. “A Colovian Brandy for you, sir!” he shouted, handing me a bottle. I spoke to Razelan again. “What does a man have to do to get a drink around here?” he said. Looking around I examined the other guests – Maven Black-Briar, another of the Thalmor, the Jarl of Hjaalmarch, and one of the men I recognised from Elisif’s court. “I got you a drink, Razelan.” “Ah, thank you Bathmar! If you need anything don’t hesitate to ask me!” “Actually, you could do something for me. How about you go and create a scene – draw everyone’s attention.” “You can count on me, sir! Watch my handiwork!” He made a toast to Elenwen and started sprouting some gibberish, enthralling everyone in the room, even the guards. “Come on, let’s go!” Malborn whispered. He took me through the kitchen, with protest from the Khajiit cook (which was quickly quelled by Malborn’s words) and into the larder, where my chest of equipment was stored. Donning my armor and slinging my pack of alchemical creations over my back. I advanced into the corridor before me. “I’m locking the door behind you,” Malborn said. “Don’t. Screw. This. Up.” In the first door on my left I found two of the guards arguing, something about the new mages that came in. I’d no interest in listening to them, felling them both with a single shot each I considered donning their armor, but my open face helmet would allow them to see straight through my disguise. I searched their bodies for anything useful before going outside. I’d have to cross the inner courtyard to reach Elenwen’s office where I would find information. Downing an invisibility potion I managed to avoid fighting around 5 of the soldiers, and entered the next building unnoticed. A Thalmor mage and a Nord man stood arguing in the centre of the room. Darting behind a pillar I eavesdropped on their conversation. It seemed the man wanted payment for some information he sold to the Thalmor, but the Thalmor would only give it to him after they confirmed it. The man was dismissed and the Thalmor man left to go interrogate a prisoner – he must have some information too. Quickly dashing into Elenwen’s office I collected a few dossiers, as well as a report on the dragon attacks. I skimmed over them in the corner. One of the dossiers was on Delphine – they didn’t seem to have much information on her, and the report about the Dragons didn’t shed much light on it either. But it seemed the Thalmor didn’t know anything more about the dragons than we did. But most interestingly, they had a dossier on me. Skimming over the document, I read what they knew about me. ‘Aedric Strongblade - Scout during the war, killed Captain Fiiriel, promoted to Captain after scout officers were killed in ambushes set up from inside information...’ Hmm. No wonder we lost so many scouting units in Hammerfell. ‘Has killed 9 Thalmor operatives in the past two weeks...’ ‘Capture or kill. He is extremely dangerous, and a master of the Voice, and utmost caution must be taken.’ Well my time was up – I should get out of this place. Making my way into the basement, I found the mage from before interrogating a prisoner who was being tortured by another Thalmor soldier. Downing another Invisibility potion, I dropped down from the mezzanine I was on, and silently drew my shortswords. Plunging the blade into the torturers chest, he fell dead much to the surprise of the mage and prisoner. I was upon the mage before he could rise from his chair, and unleashed a devastating flurry of slashes with the help of the wind. I looked at the book he was writing notes in – it appeared to be another dossier. This one was about a Blade called Esbern – apparently he was a master of Dragon-lore, and the Thalmor knew he was hiding in Riften. Delphine would have to know this. I released the prisoner, Etienne Rarnis. Apparently he thought that this Esbern man was hiding in the Ratway, and told me an escape route out of the Embassy. “There’s a trapdoor over there,” he said, pointing over the other side of the room. “The guards sometimes dump bodies down there. Let’s go!” He dashed over to the trapdoor, just as the door to the upper levels opened. Two Thalmor soldiers emerged with Malborn held prisoner. “You’re trapped, Aedric, and we have your accomplice! Surrender now or you both die!” “Well you’ll remember the day you almost caught, Captain Aedric Strongblade.” With a shout of “FUS RO DAH!” a thundercrack echoed throughout the room, and a wave of force blasted the two soldiers against a wall. Dashing up the stairs, I performed a coup de grace on one of them and slew the other without much challenge. Taking a key off the other, Malborn, Etienne and I jumped through the trapdoor into a stinking cave. “Thank the Nine we made it out alive!” Malborn said. I held up my hand. “We’re not out of it yet. Stay back!” A frost troll roared from down below – no wonder the Thalmor threw bodies town here, and I shot two arrows at its thick hide, I recoiled and roared in pain, as I drew closer, and plunged both swords into its torso. Pulling them out, I made several long cuts along the beast’s torso, before dodging out of the way of a powerful punch. Slicing at its now unprotected legs, it dropped onto a knee. I delivered a series of spinning slashes to the troll, and finally, with light from a small fire dancing off the twin blades, thrust one of them into its neck. Malborn and Etienne stood agape. “Well come on,” I said “let’s go!” We all went our separate ways at the exit, and I made for the barracks at Fort Hraggstaad, which wasn’t far from the cave exit we emerged from. The soldiers were almost glad to have me stay – something apart from their typical watches I guess – and I went to bed early. I guess tomorrow I would finish up my business in Solitude – I had to get my mission from the General as well as address the Potema issue with Falk Firebeard.

    Aedric’s path is fairly cut-out for him at this point, but let me know if you had any other ideas!

    I’m always open to constructive criticism, so let me know how I can improve my work in the future.


    Next chapter is up, read it here


    Notes: Sorry about the lack of choice this time around, I just couldn’t really think of any other logical objectives. Should be more choice in future chapters though. Overall I’m glad with how the respec issue was sorted out, and I even got to showcase my two mods in the tale too! Also something I discovered while on the Thieves Guild quest is that using the bash attack with a bow does the applied poison effect on hit, pretty cool! Oh yeah, and 4034 words :/


  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  March 19, 2012
    A top post man and Im glad that you managed to get the whole sword issues worked through extremely smoothly. Your new blades look sweeet
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  March 18, 2012
    I've just hit 27 at the end of the day I'm writing up next. It's mainly travelling so it'll be quite short (sub 2000 probably) but there will be more choice at the end. I'm looking at trying a different choice system you'll see then!
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  March 18, 2012
    Ponty, brilliant move on how to account for losing the sword...and I love the battle sequence in the warehouse.  Aedric was caught without his greatsword, so he had to use his arrows up close, and stabbing with them makes perfect sense.  Cool to see him t...  more
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  March 18, 2012
    Yeah, I use RL. Some of the darker dungeons are terrifying - there's completely no lighting in some parts and just bobbing sets of blue eyes and silhouettes of big swords everywhere D:
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  March 17, 2012
    Heh, Swordngarde
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  March 17, 2012
    Oh, and I forgot to add: