A.D.W.D. Chapter 8: Silver Tongued


    “I thought you said Karthwasten was the same distance away as Rorikstead!” Amari snapped at Silver.


    “I thought it was!” he defended. She still had trouble thinking of him by this new name, Trebonde. She knew him first as the bandit Silver, but that name was all that remained of that clan and Trebonde sorely wanted it to join the rest in death.


    “Are you lost?”


    “Of course not! There’s only one bloody road to follow!”


    Earlier they had been joking and laughing, still high from the bliss of freedom and life, for the previous night had been one filled with terror and death. The carnage rent by the dragons and the Dragonborn himself would leave Robber’s Gorge a lifeless husk for generations to come. 


    A ways behind them rested a massive fort carved into the very canyon walls, a seamless blending of manmade ingenuity and natural defense. They had been competing to out laugh each other like a pair of deranged lunatics as they passed, but they were so oblivious to their surroundings that they hadn’t even noticed the score of bone arrows aimed at them until they were already halfway past. The Forsworn, a savage people adorned in animal skins and bones, lined the parapets and were tracking the duo’s movements with bows drawn taunt. However, the Divines had smiled upon the lunatics, and the Forsworn had let them pass unheeded.


    With nerves rattled, they had taken a break on the stone bridge crossing the chasm in which the Karth River churned far below. It had seemed like a good idea to take a breather and finish healing Amari’s arrow wound, and it had been, but it had also ended the second wind that had carried them so far. Their weariness hit like a falling anvil and the sound of the rushing water below had only reminded them of how long it had been since they last ate or drank. Magnus had now reached his peak in the sky, marking their fourth missed meal.


    They were still arguing when they crested the last hill and stumbled into what appeared to be a town meeting of sorts; one that also involved excessive yelling. A large crowd of villagers - miners by the look - mobbed on one side and a band of four Redguard sellswords stood resolute before a mine on the other side, but they all stopped to stare at the arrival of Amari and Trebonde.


    “What!?” Trebonde shouted at them, oblivious to how they appeared to the villagers. Their halfhearted cleanup at the bridge had really only managed to smear all the dirt, ash, and blood into a gruesome collage. They must have looked like two of the risen after just clawing their way free of the belly of some great beast.


    “Umm,” a dark, young Redguard in leathers started, “what happened to you?”


    “Everything! Where can I get a drink around here?”


    “Ha Hah!” Another laughed, this one clad in steel and much older. “We’ve been asking the same; can you believe this sorry town still doesn’t have a tavern or even an inn?”


    “Maybe we could if the Silver-Blood’s didn’t demand such extortionate payment! It’s damn well robbery is what it is!” a well-dressed Breton with the most ridiculous mutton chops Amari had ever seen interrupted.


    “Ainethach, the Silver-Bloods have been more than generous with their offer for this… dust heap,” countered a middle aged Redguard, one of the rare pale ones with a blond beard and blue eyes. By the way he crossed his arms and the oily authority his voice held, he must be their leader.


    “This mine has been in my family for generations! And Atar, this ‘dust heap’ has supported all these families, I’m not going to turn them aside for a few tossed scraps from the Silver-Bloods while they bring in their slave workers!”


    “Listen sir, we provided protection, yet you refuse payment. Fair work for fair wages; no?”


    “Protection! Fair!” Ainethach sputtered. “The Forsworn were already gone by time your lot arrived and your demands are anything but fair!”


    “Yeah!” interjected a Nord miner with a grieving wife hanging on his side, “and what of Fjotra, our daughter! Both you and the guards refuse to lift a finger!”


    Atar’s eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth with a retort ready on his lips, but Trebonde interrupted. This argument seemed to have been going in circles long before they arrived and showed no signs of going anywhere but down.


    “Excuse me everyone!” he shouted waving his stump of a hand at them. “We’re still dying over here! My niece and I have been robbed, beaten, nearly raped, and attacked by dragons! So, please, we are in need of shelter and sustenance.”


    Niece? Amari thought. When did that happen? She didn’t want to be his niece. It did managed to stop the argument though, if only for a moment, then Ainethach turned back to Atar.


    “See!? Did you hear that? It was dragons last night, and you refused to let my people take shelter in our OWN mine!”


    Amari and Trebonde both palmed their faces and groaned. The miners’ were heated and ready for blood. They were sorely outclassed by the mercenaries, but they did outnumber them almost four to one; it would be a massacre if this went any further. Atar eyed the mob carefully, well aware of the risk his men faced, then shrugged casually.


    “Right, your people still had access to the iron mine.” Atar faced the filthy new comers. “Dragons you say? Please, elaborate.”


    Trebonde sighed, at least they were listening now. “Thank you, now where to start…? The beginning I guess. I’m a trader and was just returning from a rather profitable trip to Cyrodiil. Mammoth tusks, Snow Saber Cat pelts, and of course, good, hardy Nordic steel fetch a handsome price down there.” A massive villager wearing a leather apron and wielding a hammer gave a smug grunt at the mention of Nordic steel. The mob looked irritated that he hadn’t spoke of anything to do with their mine or dragons, but news from foreign lands was still a rare treat. Trebonde then cast a few wary glances around before continuing at a whisper that forced everyone to gather closer.


    “Look, I’m not sure if I should say this, but we’re all good Men… and Orsimer… and Khajiit, right?”


    The lady Orc miner gave an approving grunt at using their ancestral name. The Khajiit, who had been sleeping by the warmth of the smelter behind the mercenaries throughout all of this, merely half opened one eye in annoyance before going back to sleep. None of the mercenaries had noticed the cat-person behind them and spun around in surprise to confirm, then started muttering among themselves about their oversight. Everyone else agreed with a variety of ‘ayes’ and nods, now eager to be let in on a secret. Amari had no idea what was going on, one moment everyone is about to kill each other, then the next, both sides were hanging on Silver’s every word. He hadn’t even said a true thing yet!


    “I had feeling you were.” h=He smiled at them, then went back to a whisper, drawing them in another step. “So, I made a pretty penny off those items, but those weren’t what made this trip so prosperous.”


    “What was?” A voice called out.


    He dramatically paused, then softly, “Amulets of Talos.”


    Both sides of the crowd erupted at once. Disbelief, confusion, hope, anger all flashed across the crowd’s faces. Even Amari was caught up in it a bit. Was it true, or did he pull that out of his ass too, and why? This was an Imperial town after all and everyone knew it was just a matter of attrition before the Stormcloaks were defeated.


    Then it became clear to her as the crowd settled down. Every True Nord believed in Talos, and every Nord claimed to be a True Nord. They may serve the Empire, but more out of fear or need. Talos was still in their hearts and she could see in their eyes that the single sentence had earned their respect. They knew the risks it would take to smuggle those amulets past Empire borders. Thalmor Justicators were stationed at every checkpoint to ensure the Empire followed the White Concordant. As for the Redguards, she knew from her voyage along their coast, that saying any slander against the Thalmor was the fastest way to make friends. To believe there were people in the heart of the Empire supporting their god gave them hope for the future, although it would be a cruel jest if it wasn’t true though.


    Silver, for she was seeing how he’d earned that name with his tongue, despite his feelings towards the name, swayed on his feet, then rested an arm on Amari’s shoulder for balance.  Damn it! She was just as tired! But when she went to glare up at him, he flashed his iconic smile at her and she melted inside. She turned away before he could see the heat rising in her cheeks.


    He turned back to the crowd, head hung low. “Alas, now the tragedy of this story begins.” He even managed to make his eyes water and choke on the last word. Already, the village were beginning to mirror his emotions. “For when I returned home, I sought out my sister, her mother.” He glanced at Amari.


    No, why are you bringing her into your lie? Don’t please. Amari desperately thought. Damn it, he knew how deeply she hurt her from her parents death… their murder.


    “I’m sorry, Amari, but they need to know.” She would kick in that sorrowful face! “I returned to find the war had claimed two more good souls and left yet another child orphaned…”


    Amari frantically scanned the crowd’s faces: sorrow, sorrow and sympathy everywhere! They had all lost someone too soon as well, even the mercenaries. All their eyes were downcast and some let their tears run freely. The grieving wife buried her head in her husband’s chest and kept wailing, 'Fjotra!' over and over.


    “Shh dear, there is still hope,” he soothed before leading her back to their home. Home. How long had it been? She couldn’t stand the villagers’ faces anymore! She looked to the sky and saw the Druadrach Mountain range; home lay on the other side, but was it still home? Silver was still speaking, still weaving his words like the strings of a puppeteer, but she no longer heard him. The blood rushing in her ears drowning all out, save her dark thoughts.


    She had no home.


    She was holding her mother and father on the stairs to the study. Her mother’s depleted words, “I think it’s time we took a family trip.”


    It was her fault they had to leave Highrock.


     She was walking through the familiar Wayrest forest, beaming at the squirrel on her shoulder, the squirrel she had just saved.


    It was her fault they died. It was her fault he had finally claimed Mother.


    The Captain opened the Black Book, releasing a mass black tendrils with endless eyes, seen only by her. He spoke, “You have never escaped my grasp. Your free will is but an illusion.”


    Amari could take it no longer! She collapsed to the ground, a wreck of sobs.


    Vaguely she recalled an elderly woman running towards her unleashing a torrent of reprimands at the men and taking her towards one of the buildings. Silver went to follow, but Atar took his arm in a viselike grip. Amari barely caught the whispered words before fading out, “Now friend, about the dragons. Did either fall in combat? I know people that would pay much more than this dust heap is worth for some bones.”




    Amari came to, naked in a large wooden basin of water resting on a basement floor. She was vulnerable and the memory of the Toad’s malicious grin flashed across her vision.


    Above, Ainethach and a freshly washed Trebonde were talking as they searched for some fitting clothes for the ‘merchant’ when they heard a sharp scream followed by a loud crash and splashing water from below.  They both looked down and with worry thick in his voice Trebond spoke, “Amari’s awake. I hope your mother is as tough as you said.”


    “Oh Tellevi is and more, she was remarried to an Imperial torturer.”


    Down below, Amari finished rolling out of the tub and came up in a crouch, one hand already hurling a globe of flame across the room and the other grasping about her neckline in search of her necklace. For a moment she panicked, then she felt her link to Scuttles pull her attention towards a heap of filthy rags piled in a corner. She instantly surged her power into the squirrel’s bones and as it awoke, she focused her will into a simple command.




    Tellevi barely managed to throw up a ward in time. The firebolt slammed against her defenses, sending her recoiling back and exploding the ward in flash of light. Amari was already charging in with a broom she found, wielding it like a lance. As the flash faded she recognized the face of the old woman who came to her earlier. She dropped the broom and skidded to a stop, slipping onto her rear on the spilled, soapy water.


    “Oh girly, girly, now you remember me?” The woman let out breathlessly as she slapped out the embers burning on her dress. Then Amari remembered her command to Scuttles! He was already hanging from the floor boards above Tellevi’s head, ready to descend upon her. A trail of gouge marks in the stone marked the path from where he scaled the wall.




    He froze, but turned the purple fires of its eyes upon Amari in confusion.


    She’s safe, please hide and keep lookout. He silently blinked in confirmation and snaked his way inside walls of the floor above. Amari sighed in relief and felt better now that she could feel Scuttles watching her back. The elder continued on completely unaware how close she had come to death.


     “Lordy, Lordy, I ought a spank you good for that, although you’d like, that wouldn’t you?” Tellevi cast a sidelong glance at the girl sprawled on the floor. Amari suddenly became very aware of her state of dress and brought her knees in tight to cover up.


    “Umm, what?”


    “Oh never mind, these new generations… well I know I would enjoy it far too much. Here take these, you seem able enough to do it yourself now. And relax, it’s just us girls here.” Tellevi threw a towel and a fresh change of clothes at her. “It’s a lovely old dress from Mena; I do hope it fits.”


    Amari had no idea who Mena was, but the dress fit, if a little bit loosely.


    “Thank you ah…,”


    “Tellevi, mother of that fool with those hideous muttonchops! It’s to hide his weak chin you know; same one my first husband had!"


    Amari giggled, but she was truly grateful, even after she tried to kill the old woman, the woman was still friendly towards her. “Sorry about earlier…”


    “What that little bit o fire? To be honest it was… a bit stimulating. Reminded me of my late husband.”


    “Late? Sorry I didn’t know—“


    “Stop apologizing for everything! Well, nothing to be sorry about anyway, a right up bastard that one was. Not to be confused with the weak chinned one. This one was an Imperial Torturer at Helga, and we all know what happened there.”




    “That’s right, he took the ‘bound’ in ‘bound in holy matrimony’ a bit too literally,” Tellevi recalled darkly, then dreamily, “but the things he could do with those tools,” then angrily, “but that selfish bastard never let me use them!”


    Amari finished changing and decided it was time to change the subject. “So, you used magic, saw me use it. I haven’t seen any other casters in Skyrim.”


    Amari held her breath as she waited for the woman to answer. Amari didn’t understand her, but she was starting to like her and she hoped the answer wouldn’t force her to any drastic measures.


    “I wouldn’t call myself a caster or mage or anything, I just know a few tricks. There are actually quite a few of us, we just don’t go flaunting it around in public. We all learned the importance of discretion early on.”


    “So, you won’t tell anyone?”


    “Of course not, that’s part of our code. Come on, let’s go upstairs and get some food in you.”


    Those were the best words Amari could have heard, she followed Tellevi up the stairs and smiled.









9 Comments   |   SpottedFawn and 1 other like this.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  October 2, 2015
    Fixed and thanks, I need a Sisterbane so bad, haha. I wanted to recap as much of Arc 1 as possible without slowing the story with an actual recap. I have a first draft for next one done, I let my imagination run rampant and unchecked with it, so I'll be i...  more
  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  October 2, 2015
    You've packed a lot into 1 chapter: nice one. 
    Noticed a couple of typos:
    had smiled on the on the lunatics, 
     arrival of Amari and Trebonde.
    Next please! 
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  September 17, 2015
    Lol, why not? Don't mind me, just taking my bones for a walk.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  September 17, 2015
    Everyone should have a scuttles.
    Don't think it would work if Sotek went around with a pile of wolf bones in his arms everywhere he went... Oh thank Hircine for the Familiar spell.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  September 16, 2015
    Haha, yea I could have a lot of fun with him. Many will make at least a cameo appearance.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 16, 2015
    She's that colorful eh? I've worked with iNPCs. Would be cool if you met Rumarin.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  September 16, 2015
    Oh, and Tellevi and the Khajiit (Okapi) are both from the Interesting NPC's mod. My paraphrasing for Tellevi actually toned down some of the stuff she says, lol.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  September 16, 2015
    A first crush bad if you will, although he did really piss her off this chapter. 
    Thank you. Yea, the Nords heavily discriminate against magic in my narrative, it would be like going to Saudi Arabia and telling everyone your gay. Though, like almost...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 16, 2015
    Oooo boy, does Amari have it bad for Silver. I imagine he is dashing though. Even with only one hand now. Interesting that magic is more looked down on in your narrative, though I understand why.  Though Albee doesn't use magic much either. He saves  it m...  more