A.D.W.D. Chapter 13: Boiling Point


    Damn the daedra! Tyranus woke with his blood already boiling. His dreams had been haunted by fire. First the inferno unleashed by the Markynaz, then that of a burning house with a child at the center, Emily. She’d only been eight when she was possessed. His hand had been forced. He grabbed his mace and stalked out of the house, he needed to train, to purge his anger through sweat.


    ***                  ­­


    Damn Vigilants! Tyranus’s steel boots clomping up the cellar stairs woke Trebonde. The rogue had fared little better with his dreams; the priest’s tale resurfaced too many old memories. This one was of him walking out of his Ma’s house for the last time, with blood dripping from his garrote. She was wrapped ­­­­­­in a bed sheet weeping not over the body of his friend, but a broken bottle of Skooma. After he rid them of her man, his father, they could have been free of the slums, but no, she had thrown everything away instead. How could she still love that drunkard!? He had tried to turn a blind eye to how she paid for her habit, but when he’d passed Primo heading up…


    He needed to hit something, but his old sword was lost in the chaos of Robber’s Gorge. Maybe he could borrow one from the blacksmith before the man woke up…




    Amari felt Trebonde’s heat leave her side and begrudgingly woke up too. It had been so warm and safe, but she was too giddy with energy to stay much longer anyway. She had dreamt as well, but not like the nightmares before. They had been fevered, drifting in and out of focus throughout night. She remembered the specters returning, and lots of running. One of them eventually caught her, but when it closed its maw about her skull, its spirit flesh exploded in purple soul fire. The tables had turned then, the hunters became the hunted. With tooth, claw, and soul fire she had rendered the spirits; as each one fell, her strength grew.


    She had never let Scuttles out for so long before. Her mother had always enforced short time periods and never while sleeping, but Tyranus knew Stone Flesh, so he probably also knew Detect Life, another alteration spell as well. While Amari and Trebonde were speaking last night, she had caught the priest edging his way towards the tree where Scuttles had stood sentinel. Before he could detect the squirrel, she had sent it deeper into the mountains for the night.


    If Tyranus and his partner, Viana, were real, then those spirits she dreamed of fighting might be too. She could see her mother’s reasoning then, spirits seemed drawn to her familiar like moths to the flame. But Scuttles would have to keep his distant until they could part ways with the priest. If it was real, could she do it while awake? She lit up in excitement at the thought of exploring the world as squirrel, and of the secrets they could see with those otherworldly eyes.


    She sat up into a full lotus position and focused her breathing, stilling her mind. She immediately felt him far below her, and wet? She guided her focus towards him; she felt water rushing through his bones, claws gripping into muck.


    He is in the river. That conscious thought broke her meditation and threw her back into her own body again. She had to redo her breathing exercises again to reach the same point. This time she remained focused and sound, filtered through a ghostly tin, was added. The echo of her heart beat thudding with the familiar, the low rush of the water, and popping and crackling of nearby mud crabs chattering underwater.


    Scuttles sent a slightly annoyed query at her and she almost lost her grasp again. She responded with a feeling of neutral curiosity. That seemed to appease the Lord of the Riverbed and Amari felt as if a barrier dropped as the squirrel invited her in. She became the squirrel and they sat in the riverbed muck watching the streaks of fish auras dart by together.


    Amari started panicking; they were underwater, she couldn’t breathe! Scuttles tittered at her, releasing a small cloud of energy fueled bubbles. Laughing at me are you! Amari thought angrily, then mischievously took over motor control and slammed their skull into the muck releasing a puff of silt. Scuttle’s tittering turned to a squawk and it was Amari’s turn to laugh.


    She went to explore the river bottom, but the familiar resisted. The fish held the squirrel’s rapt attention. Their nature confused him and they were pretty. Amari relented and watched the fish for a while too before growing bored, but the squirrel wanted to keep watching; it felt safe beneath the current.


    Fine, Amari thought, I should probably go check on the surface dwellers anyway, spoilsport. 


    She smiled as the squirrel tittered at her again and then she let her link pull her back into her body. Instantly she was back in her own body and gasped as all her usual sensations rushed back. For a brief moment she saw from both scuttles eyes and her own simultaneously. She cried out in pain as her mind failed to cope and squeezed her eyes shut. When she opened them again, it was with only hers and she sighed in relief. She immediately wondered if she could reproduce the experience again. She stored the experiment for later in her mind, she still felt shaken by the first trial.


    Amari caught her breath for a moment, then focused again, this time to cast detect life. The power rushed effortlessly into the spell and empowered it. The energy washed over the whole town, mines, and some of the surrounding area. Sleep, food, and freedom work wonders, or so it appeared. 


    Ainethach and Tellevi were sitting at the table above moving with slow, groggy movements; a few had passed out on tables or on the dirt, too drunk to make the final steps home; others were just starting to rise from there slumber; and a large crowd with auras flickering in excitement were gathered around two chaotic flames dancing, no fighting. She immediately recognized Trebonde’s signature and the way the priest’s aura flared.


    Why were they fighting! Hadn’t they just agreed to help Tyranus? Amari bolted out the basement past a startled Tellevi and almost collided into Belchimac as he burst through the door.


    “Move! They’re fighting!”


    “Hurry! A fight!”


    They both yelled simultaneously. Belchimac looked at her confused. “How did you know—“


    Tellevi interrupted him as she pushed past out the door, “Well let’s go then! Two hot, sweaty, strapping men are pounding into each other without us!”


    “Mother, please…” Ainethach pleaded as he ushered everyone out of the house to join the growing crowd at the clearing behind the village.


    They were indeed hot and sweaty to not only Tellevi’s delight. Shirt and robe had been discarded, revealing the stark contrast between Trebonde’s olive colored, lean, feline build and the thick slabs of pale muscle Tyranus had been concealing. The priest was also completely bald as opposed to the ex-bandit’s wavy black. Trebonde landed a lunge to the left shoulder underneath the priest’s guard with the narrow blade of a rapier he’d acquired. Tyranus grunted in frustration and stepped back.


    “A fair strike this time.”


    “Point or no, the first one was worth it.” Trebonde grinned, then asked after touching a blood stain on his thigh, “Best two out of three?”


    The vigilant raised his flanged mace and returned the grin. “Combat always reveals ones true colors.”


    The comment caught Trebonde off guard and Tyranus charged the opening like an avalanche. Trebonde barely manage to slip the pocket under the vigilant’s swing and turned to thrust at the man’s back, but the vigilant was already out of reach. They circled and clashed like river and stone. Where Trebonde’s steps were fluid and circular, Tyranus’s were direct and as if he was rooted into the very ground. While Trebonde feinted and probed for openings, Tyranus kept a tight guard and struck out with devastating speed only when his opponent overreached or paused. Time and time again they clashed in flurry of strikes only to break away a moment later unscathed.


    They’re good, but my uncles are better, Amari thought smugly. She had only seen her uncles a twice. Once when they had business passing through Wayrest and again when her father snuck her into Daggerfall for the Fire Festival Tournament. She had even got to sail on smugglers’ schooner and wear the captain’s eye patch. She smiled at the memory; her mother had been furious when they returned.  


    Uncle Roland was unstoppable jousting atop his Destrier and seemed to glow when the sun reflected off his full plate. Apparently all the family funds went into that horse and armor, but Uncle Damian was still a beast in the melee that year; the last standing atop a pile of the fallen clad in only Ebony Flesh. Such innocent days…


    Belchimac shouldered next her, bringing her back to the present. Amari sighed, hadn’t he gotten the hint last night?


    “I bet you that the vigilant is going to beat your uncle.”


    It took a moment for Amari to realize which ‘uncle’ he referred to. She turned back to the fight where Trebonde had led the duel to the cliff’s edge. The vigilant was playing catious and defensive atop the precarious rocks, but Trebonde was as sure-footed as a mountain goat.


    “Alright, you’re on. How much?”


    “A kiss.”


    “A kiss!?” He nodded, full of himself. “No way!”


    “What? Are you afraid he’s going to lose?”


    “No! Fine if you win, but when I win you owe me twenty septims.”




    Amari feigned sulking. “You’re right, I’m not worth that.”


    Belchimac fell for it. “Goats scroat! I’d pay twice that.”


    She grabbed his hand and shook it with a grin suddenly on her face. “Forty septims, deal.”


    “Hey, you cheat!”


    “What?” Amari asked innocently, “Lost faith in your champion already?”


    “No… let’s just watch the match.”


    In a daring move, Tyranus lunged to position himself with his back to the ravine below, then aggressively rained blows down on Trebonde, forcing him to back pedal inland across the field. Tyranus kept pressing until Trebonde’s back was almost to ledge leading further up the mountain. The rogue then deflected Tyranus’s next swing and leapt forward, planting a foot on the priest’s chest and then launched himself up, landing atop the ledge to the cheers of the crowd. Then behind him came a low and territorial growl, bringing an end to the match.


    “Careful,” Tyranus cautioned in a low whisper. Trebonde rolled his eyes as if to say, “I know.” He spun around, dropping to a knee and thrusting his rapier high. The wolf lunged the moment Trebonde turned, but defied physics by twisting and contorting midflight to throw itself aside from the blade. The wolf landed with its legs splayed low and started barking in sprays of spittle. It juked around Trebonde, throwing up tuffs of grass as it searched for an opening, but Trebonde tracked the wolf’s movements with point of his sword and stared the animal down.


    The beast shuffled back to its alcove and whined, then took the largest bone it could carry from its den  in its jaws and bolted into the mountains. Trebonde blew out a breath of relief and then went to study the wolf’s alcove more closely.


    “Tyranus, I think you need to see this.”


    The priest climbed up the ledge and the quip on the tip of his tongue died at the sight before him. He turned back to the gathered crowd with eyes blazing with righteous wrath and a vein on his forehead looked about to burst.


    “What is the meaning of this!?” He bellowed. Amari couldn’t see what had caused such a sudden change and started pushing through the crowd now looking upon their feet in shame. A few on the edges tried to sneak away, but the vigilant caught them in his gaze.


    “No one leaves! Any who flee or lie will face the Wrath of Stendarr! There is no escape from justice! This matter will be settled here; settled now!”


    Amari reached the ledge and peered over and immediately regretted it. A slab of a boulder supported by a pillar sheltered the alcove. On either side of the pillar was dragon, not the proud and magnificent dragon that Akatosh used, but a weak mockery of the form, almost snake like; Peryite’s avatar, the Prince of Pestilence, the Taskmaster. Chains hung from the dragons’ mouths and in those chains were two arms. Arms, stripped bare of muscle and flesh with jagged teeth and claw. The base of the pillar was drenched in blood and gnawed on bones. Beside the pile of bloody bones was a young Bosmer woman, cradling a skull in one hand and clutching an empty phial in the other.


    Tyranus was far from done with the villagers, he felt betrayed. He had thought these honest folk; how had he missed the signs? “Shame. Shame on all of you, whether this is your doing or not, all of you knew of its existence and allowed it to continue. It is your negligence, your fear that allows these demons to flourish.”


    The priest pointed at half the crowd. “You all! Dig two graves for these souls.”


    Then he turned to the other half. “And you all will bring forth pick axes and support beams from the mines, now move!”


    No one dared question his commands and rushed off to their duties. While they prepared, Tyranus turned to the pillar and inspected it closely and muttered aloud to himself, “The blood is dark, dried. Time of death, recent, maybe the night before I arrived. Something else got here first, the damage is too complete to be solely the wolf’s doing.”


    A few scraps of meat and flesh still clung to the forearms dangling from the chains, “Teeth marks, flat with two fangs. Too brutal for a vampire, wrong teeth and too many remains for a Daedroth or werewolf; a Dremora maybe? Extensive blood splattering indicates the victim was still alive during the attack.”


    He knelt to observe the pile of bones more closely. “Small bones, narrow hips, a male of slight statue, another Bosmer? Both humeri bones are cracked and have claw mark gouges, as if the creature gripped the arms with incredible strength. The wolf must have followed the scent after the creature finished feasting.”


    The vigilant stretched as he stood and saw Amari and Trebonde rummaging through a chest. “Get out of there! No tampering with evidence!”


    They scattered like skeevers. Amari carried a book in her arms and sat with it in the field while Trebonde innocently sauntered over to the priest carrying who knew what in his pockets. 


    “Lover?” He asked pointing at the Bosmer. Tyranus knelt by the woman and examined the skull she was holding, narrow, high cheek bones, definitely a Bosmer. He sniffed the potion, Night Shade and Deathbell; a potent poison.


    “I would say so. Look at the soles of her shoes; they’re well worn. They must have been travelers passing through when he was taken.”


    Trebonde paled, had they come for Amari and him when they first arrived, they would have been too weak to resist.


    “Not the innocent mining town they make themselves out to be…”


    “Indeed not, this has the look of ritual.” He wiped away a spot of fresh gore, revealing stone with red seeped in deep. “Blood has soaked into the stone. This has been going on for some time; years, generations? I suspect a deal of sorts has been signed in exchange for sacrifices.”


    “Any idea what did this?”


    “A Dremora fits the profile.”


    “Like from your story?”


    “Yes, but more likely a warrior class—“


    “What’s a Quarra?” Amar shouted from below. Tyranus looked sharply down at the book she was flipping through. A Quarra? Yes, a Quarra fit the profile for the scene better than a Dremora, but how would one get all the way up here?


    “They are a clan of Vvardenfell vampires, none of the other clans can match them in strength or savagery. They are brutal blood fiends, but also very territorial. There have been no recorded accounts of them ever leaving their provinces. They are also Molag Bal’s creatures, so I know not why one would come to a Totem of Peryite.”


    Amari dropped the book at the mention of Molag Bal and the hastily went to recover it. Tyranus mentally noted the reaction and continued, “What book is that and what else was in the chest?”


    “’Incident of Necrom,’ besides that there was only an iron dagger and a few potions of health and stamina.” Trebonde answered. Tyranus was unfamiliar with that text, but the miners returned, hauling support shafts and pickaxes, before he could inquire further.


    “Good, I’m done with the site. Carry bodies to where they’re digging and support the rock overhang with the shafts, we’re going to tear this atrocity down.”


    The villages froze, terror gripping their hearts once more, “But—“


    They began, but the righteous fire blazed anew in Tyranus’s eyes as he crossed his arms and stared down at them. “There will be no buts! This totem is a blasphemy to the Divines, a blight upon the lands! That you have allowed it to stand thus far is a sin in itself. Repentance begins with idol’s destruction.”


    Beaten, they set to their tasks, well aware of the underlying threat in the vigilant’s voice should they refuse. Once the bodies were moved and shafts in place, Tyranus picked up a pickaxe and spoke, “Today Stendarr shows his wrath!”


    Then he took the first swing, shattering a dragon head from the pillar. The villagers followed suit; hesitant at first, but then with more gusto as the pillar began to crumble. Once it was no more than rubble, they knocked out the supports and the overhanging boulder collapsed on top of the ruin in a finalizing thud. Panting, the villagers looked upon the ruin with hope and fear battling across their faces, uncertain of what the future would bring.


    “Sir,” one of the villages that had been digging softly interrupted, “the graves are ready.”


    Tyranus strode across the field to where two freshly dug graves were added next to Viana’s, overlooking the river valley and the hazy mountains beyond. Two miners were pounding simple, nameless wooden crosses in at the grave heads.


    “Do they not have names?” The miners only looked once more at their feet and shuffled in response. Tyranus shook his head in disgust. “You never bothered to learn them.”


    The noon sun cast no shadows as the priest gave the nameless lovers their last rites and the village attended with their secrets bare. Tyranus kept his head lowered in a moment of silence at the end, then addressed the gathering quietly, “I will speak with each of you individually now. Ainethach, we’ll start with you, follow me.”


    With that he passed through the crowd towards the table on Ainethach’s patio, by the town entrance. As he passed Trebonde, the rogue poked him in the calf with his rapier, drawing a tiny dot of blood. Tyranus looked at him annoyed, “What?”


    “I win.”


    “Win what?”


    “Our duel wasn’t finished yet.”


    “Now is really not the time for this.”


    “Alright, I just didn’t want it to be said that a Vigilant of Stendarr went back on his word.”


    “Fine,” Tyranus sighed exasperated, then tossed a pouch of coins at the smith. “Bato, for his sword. Amari, I will need that book as well.”


    Amari reluctantly handed ‘Incident of Necrom’ over, then when he left she looked at Trebonde. “So you stole a sword then bet for who would pay for it?”


    “Stole is such a harsh word, I merely took it on advance, before the shop opened.”


    “A certain someone owes my forty septims now too,” Amari caught Belchimac’s eye and mouthed, you owe me. He turned away, scratching his head and pretending he didn’t see her.


    Trebonde laughed. “Forty? Not bad, how’d you manage that?”





12 Comments   |   SpottedFawn likes this.
  • SpottedFawn
    SpottedFawn   ·  August 24, 2017
    Tellevi is hilarious, and that was one heck of a twist. Not such an innocent village after all! Is this something that's actually in the game, or just a bit of creative license? Either way, it was great.
    Trebonde's such a scoundrel. xD
    • Exuro
      Tellevi is hilarious, and that was one heck of a twist. Not such an innocent village after all! Is this something that's actually in the game, or just a bit of creative license? Either way, it was great.
      Trebonde's such a scoundrel. xD
        ·  August 24, 2017
      The totem, bosmer, wolf, and book are all in game, but I used some creative license to combine it into a story and blame the villagers.
      I'm of a mind to get Tellevi, Gnarly Nan, Tilma, and Idgrod Ravencrone together to form an old lady avengers team.
      • SpottedFawn
        The totem, bosmer, wolf, and book are all in game, but I used some creative license to combine it into a story and blame the villagers.
        I'm of a mind to get Tellevi, Gnarly Nan, Tilma, and Idgrod Ravencrone together to form an old lady avengers team.
          ·  August 25, 2017
        Yesss! Old guys like Wuunferth and Kodlak White-Mane get to be pretty cool in their old age, the ladies deserve some respect too! More Tellevi is always a good thing.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  March 31, 2016
    Add a sex scene and it would have it all! Glad you liked it.
  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  March 31, 2016
    Excellent! A great fight, wagers, gory human sacrifice and funnies. Another great chapter. 
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  February 9, 2016
    fixed, I swear typos breed when you're not looking
  • ShyGuyWolf
    ShyGuyWolf   ·  February 9, 2016
    The villages followed suit; hesitant at first
    Boom another mistake. I was wondering what tale the Statue tales us.
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  January 20, 2016
    Finally got to read more, Exuro. I like that fight, it was nice to see the contrast between those two.
    And I like that image you draw with that Peryite´s statue.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  November 26, 2015
    I'm nice to my wolves, unlike some :-P
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  November 26, 2015
    At last, the wolf don't die.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  November 26, 2015
    Tellevi is always a fun character to write,she has no filter.
    I think we've all done a sparring scene now. They're just such a great way to show the core of a character. Thinking about your scene with Albee and Skor.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  November 26, 2015
    A very good read. The spar between Trebonde and Tyranus was well-written and I like that the fighting styles were distinct between rapier and mace, which is what it's supposed to be. Favorite line in the entire chapter. 
    Tellevi interrupted him as s...  more