A.D.W.D. Chapter 12: Confessions


    The waxing moons shone brightly tonight, the light transforming the river’s surface into that of a great silver snake. Flowing ever onward, yet never changing. So many victories, yet the same battles always return. Those too young die, the old weep, and a new generation raises the banner; and here Tyranus was continuing the cycle. Luckily he wasn’t left alone with his thoughts for long, Amari had approached him at last.


    She didn’t speak immediately; still nervous, trying to form the words to her questions as they overlooked the valley shoulder to shoulder.


    “It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Tyranus started.


    “What is?” Amari asked, jostled from her inner turmoil.


    “The river, the moons, Skyrim, Nirn, all of it.” Amari paused to actually see the world around her and it was indeed beautiful. Just how tightly had her vision been contracted by her fears? Fears that were very real.


    “All of it? What of the storms that rend the lands, or the bastards that rape and murder, or the slums that swallow lives, or the demons that prowl our Plane?”


    “Yet, despite all of that, the beauty remains, this world remains. Why is that?”


    Amari thought on that. “Because we fight.”


    The venom and will behind her words took Tyranus aback, but he smiled. “Yes, because we fight; it is nights like these that remind me why I still do.”


    Silence stretched again as they overlooked the Reach, but the tension between them was easing.


    “The people trapped in those soulgems, were you really able to free them, to break their bond to the Daedra?”


    “Arkay freed them, we were but his instrument, but yes, their souls Dream easy now. Though it was not the Daedra that had claim, but the Ideal Masters.”


    “Ideal Masters… I have heard of them.”


    “You have?” That got Tyranus’s attention, very few even knew of their existence.


    “Umm, yeah… from school. Only the name though.”


    School? Tyranus thought, amused. There was only one school in Skyrim that might mention the Ideal Masters, and if she was a student of the College of Winterhold, that would prove her and Trebonde’s cover story false. Now wasn’t the time to question that though, not when she had finally started talking.


    “Well not much else is known about them,” he continued letting her slip pass.


    “What if they had been bound to the Daedra instead, could Arkay still save them?”


    “Hmm, I have dealt with possessions before, but the soul is not bound in those, those are more like an attached parasite. A deal could bind the soul, but those must be made willingly. If the soul is relinquished by one’s own will, then there is little mercy the Divines can lend.”


    “Oh… Have you even fought anything more powerful than that Markynaz?” Was he under scrutiny now? She also pronounced the name far too well for someone unlearned in the Oblivion languages. Her line of questioning was winding down a more troubling path than he had expected.


    “More powerful? The Markynaz are lesser only to Mehrunes Dagon’s personal guard.” Although he did not think she was referring to the Valkynaz. “Unless you are referring to the Princes.”


    If that was the case, he had to rethink his approach. When she saw that he hadn’t fought anything greater the hope he’d seen in her eyes earlier faded and was replaced with something else, sorrow, guilt?


    He held no delusions on his chances against a Prince if it came to a direct confrontation, even the battle with the Markynaz had been hard won and that had been with seven of the Vigil’s best. Sometimes sacrifice was necessary to stem the spread of corruption. This was no longer an ordinary border-case. Sorrow and guilt mirrored upon his face now as well, he needed to prepare his soul for what may come, steel it for the good of Nirn.


    “Please excuse me, I… I need some time alone,” Amari whispered in a voice barely audible before retreating to another bluff further up the mountain. By the divines, have mercy upon this child; please, please reveal a path to me. If the Aedra lost this battle, could he fulfill his duty, against yet another child?




    Trebonde squeezed Solena against him, her warmth hot against his side and the scent of Juniper mixed with mountain flowers intoxicated him. She had latched onto his arm during the Deadra fight in the holy warrior’s story and hadn’t moved away after it ended. Her fingers were running through the waves of his hair now and he leaned in brushing his lips across hers in light kiss.


    Then she murmured, “Where’d your niece go?” and the moment was ruined. Where was Amari? Trebonde thought she was still by the fire. It wasn’t like him to miss such a detail, but he was distracted. He spotted her sitting atop a rock a ways up the mountainside, staring at the nearly full moons and wringing that creepy necklace she always wore with worried hands.


    “She doesn’t look too good.” Concern filled Solena’s voice.


    Trebonde sighed, breaking away from Solena’s embrace. “I should go check on her.”


    Damn, he hated his conscience sometimes, but Solena smiled at him. “You’re such a good man.”


    “The night’s not over yet.” He grinned at her.


    “I certainly hope not.”


    They kissed again, savoring the flavor, before parting.


     He plopped down on the bluff beside Amari.“Some story, right?”


    “Uh huh.” Amari continued to stare at the moons without looking at Trebonde, her thoughts seized in dread of the future.


    “So apparently I knew the Vigilant from before too. Yeah, that idiot that stole the Razor shard was me. I never thought those holy rollers capable of such a clever ploy. We had never suspected a sting and the guild ended up pinning all the blame on me, said I sold them out.”


    “That’s nice.”


    “Yea, I thought so too, it’s been fun hiding from them and building a network from scratch.” No witty response? “Hey, what’s eating at you?”


    The pause was long enough Trebonde wasn’t sure she would answer at all. “I think Tyranus is going to die, that something horrible is going to happen.”


    “My heart breaks for him,” he sympathized dryly.


    “I’m serious.”


    ”Like what? His Markarth investigation?”


    Amari nodded.


    “Well he seems more than capable of handling himself, I think whoever the worshipers are should be the ones afraid.”


    “No, not against this force, he won’t stand a chance.”


    “What force? How do you know what’s happening in Markarth?”


    “I don’t know what or why, only who.” Amari cleared her throat after another long pause and looked down at her hand remembering the fire. “Do you remember the Toad?”


    “He’s kind of hard to forget, unfortunately.”


    That cracked a flash of a smile. “I killed him.”


    Amari felt weird, but liberated saying that out loud, as if a weight had been removed. Although Trebonde ruined the moment by yawning.


    “Old news, I figured that out a while ago, back when he was bobbing for apples in the cove.”


    Amari glared at him. “Well did you know he worshiped Molag Bal?”


    “Everyone in that camp worshiped some demon, or forest critter, or drink.”


    Damnit! How was he making this all seem so trivial! “Molag Bal spoke to me after the Toad died.”


    Trebonde leaned forward. “Now we’re getting somewhere! Why would something so high and mighty speak to such a lowly plebeian?”


    “Hey!” She hesitated before continuing, how much should she say? Had she said too much already? She wanted to tell somebody and Scuttles didn’t care about these sorts of things. She had never noticed how calculating Trebonde’s eyes were before, even with that stupid grin on his face. Her next words were more cautious. “He told me that I stole a soul from him, therefore I must send him a new soul, the Vigilant’s, or I would pay with my own.”


    Trebonde leaned back blowing out his breath. “Wow, when you screw up, you go all in.”


    “Thanks, that is so helpful…”


    “He said stole? Do you still have the Toad’s soul, did you soul trap him?”


    This was exactly where Amari didn’t want the questions to go. “No, it’s just gone—“


    “Gone? How can a soul be gone?”


    “That’s not the point; the point is that if Molag doesn’t get Tyranus’s soul, he’ll come for mine!”


    “He might come either way.”


    “I know…”


    Trebonde suddenly laughed, a mischievous light flaring to life in his eyes. “I really don’t learn from my mistakes. What were Molag’s exact words?”


    Amari was confused, but took a deep breath and closed her eyes to remember that terrible night:


    "The soul you destroyed was weak, so I shall grant you one chance, a quest. Fulfil it and earn my favor; refuse and I will kiiiill you, crush you! You will know a thousand deaths and one, then when your will is naught, your soul will be mine!


    A Vigilante of Stendarr travels to Markarth even as we speak. Meet him there and… help him."


    Trebonde was silent for a time, mulling the words around in his head. “Well first thing, you do NOT ever want him to have your soul. Second, he said to meet the Vigilant, done, and ‘help’ him. Why don’t we do just that?”


     “I’m not sure I follow.”


    “The Deadra are notorious for taking deals too literally, so why don’t we return the favor? We’ll help Tyranus, help him break free.”


    “I like it, but what about my soul?”


    “It will be tricky, dangerous, and require not a small amount of luck, but are you ready to start a dance, a dance with Daedra?”




     Tyranus had just finished his prayers and was letting the stillness that came from the meditation wash over his mind when Amari and Trebonde threw open the Ainethach’s cellar and clamored down the steps.


    “Oh, they set you up down here too?” Trebonde asked.


    “Indeed, all guests under one roof I suppose,” he replied. Laughing? Were they laughing as they entered? Amari had been in the throes of a forlorn conflict when he left; how had this brigand sparked hope were all he, a priest of the Divines, could accomplish was to instill doom? She even smiled warmly when she greeted him this time.


    They moved past him and started setting their straw piles and furs into beds; it was late in the night, so Tyranus set to arranging his as well. Amari heard the Vigilant hiss a few times as he arranged his bedding with burnt hands. A soft golden glow still emanated from him, but Amari knew that his healing couldn’t be effective with how tired he must be.


    “Let me see your hands, I know you’ll need too much rest before you can heal them well.”


    She was giving him commands now Tyranus thought amused. She had definitely come to a resolution while he was gone, but to what end? She was right though, he was exhausted. Now that he’d stopped and slowed down, the day’s toils were making themselves known.


    “Careful child, burn wounds are tricky,” he said offering his left hand first. He knew what Skyrim was like, being a priest gave him a certain protection as a mage, but the unaffiliated had none. The girl was extending her trust with her offer. He just hoped she wouldn’t turn his hand into a ball of scar tissue.


    “I know, it just takes more patience and control to avoid excessive tissue buildup,” she said as if reading his mind.


    With his hand between hers, she began to slowly channel her energy into his spell, guiding and accelerating the natural process. New flesh formed and layer by layer, pushed the damaged flesh upwards until it flaked off. After some time Amari sat back on her haunches and wiped her brow. Tyranus flexed his hand and admired her work, the flesh was as new and smooth as a newborn’s.


    “Excellent workmanship,” he said gratefully, “where did you learn to heal so well?”


    “My father, he was a traveling priest and scholar, he could even match the original flesh’s texture.” She said with pride. Her father could condition the flesh as it grew? That spoke of master level restoration techniques.


    What life has this child led? Her father was a priest, yet Daedra of unparalleled strength sought her and possible already had claim on her soul or that of a loved one; her speech belied a top tier education, yet she traveled with a rogue surrounded in lies; and she knew far too much about the Planes of Oblivion.  


    “Was… this can be a cruel land.”


    Trebonde interrupted before Amari could respond, “War is cruel and has claimed too many innocents, but this is hardly a topic to fall asleep to.”


    “True.” Even as she was healing his hands he couldn’t stop himself from prying, though he suspected Amari would have blown their cover story if Trebonde hadn’t interrupted. Those two were wrapped in more mysteries than the Dwemer, but that would have to wait till morning. “Fear not for your parents, justice always finds a way.”


    “It already has; for one at least,” her voice was like ice, then more cheerfully, “Goodnight!”


    She pulled her sleeping pile by Trebonde’s and curled up next to him with an excuse about nightmares. Tyranus noticed that also put Trebonde between them and positioned them both closer to the cellar door than him. It seems the trust she’d extended was still a tentative one.


    Damn it! How was he supposed to fall asleep with her cryptic remark rolling in his mind?






11 Comments   |   SpottedFawn and 1 other like this.
  • SpottedFawn
    SpottedFawn   ·  August 23, 2017
    Oh no, this can only end terribly for Tyranus. xD Ahhh this chapter had me biting my fingernails. I'm both excited to read more and frightened of how it ends! Tyranus is a good man, and I love how badass you make the Vigilants of Stendarr actually seem.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  March 24, 2016
    Thanks! Adding the priest into the mix really helped me to showcase their personalities.
  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  March 24, 2016
    The plot thickens! I like the dynamic between these 3, and there are some great lines in here; including, I notice, the title. Great writing Exuro :)
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  February 9, 2016
  • ShyGuyWolf
    ShyGuyWolf   ·  February 9, 2016
    when a student of the College of Winterhold
    found this mistake.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  November 24, 2015
    Your plains are in the plane so it plain to see you're out of luck either way... I'll see myself out, onto my plane.
    Molag is definitely one sadistic bastard, although Vaermina is up there too.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  November 24, 2015
    or the demons that prowl our plane?”
    I hope you mean the world and not the plains...
    So they have a plan. Hope it pays off... Molag Bal.. Dreading When Aela and Sotek get mixed up with him. Looking forwards to see how you deal with him.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  November 23, 2015
    'tis but a flesh wound. It took a lot of grinding to get chapters 10-14 to come out how I wanted, but I have a clear path of how to continue the next section. I've been adding a few minor tweaks to the drafts you read as well.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  November 23, 2015
    LOL, really?
    If he's not careful, Molag Bal will cut off more than his hand. That is one Daedric Lord you don't mess around with. 
    Looking forward to where you go with this. I've read the ones you've posted, so I have an idea, but still, this ...  more
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  November 23, 2015
    Oh come on, his past heists have gone so well though