A.D.W.D. Chapter 23: New Dawn

  • Trebonde woke first only to find them under an unfamiliar roof, wearing unfamiliar clothes. Panic gripped his heart and his hand shot out to the Daedric mace, instinctively knowing where it lay.


    “Whoa! Easy there traveler! We mean no harm.” A voice interrupted.


    “How long was I out?” Trebonde asked, feeling his face with his hand. A healing balm now soothed the bruise from where the Vigilant kneed him.


    “Dunno when you fell asleep but we still have a few hours ‘til noon.”


    Maybe four hours. Trebonde surveyed the humble, wood framed home, but only found one person: an optimistic looking Redguard.




    “Fine, ‘I’. You, well that”–The Redguard nodded towards the mace– “gave the rest quite a scare when we found you.”


    “But not you,” Trebonde said, connecting the dots warily.


    “A wiser man than me once said: ‘Judge not what you perceive, for the mind is easily fooled. Judge only what is there.’”


    “Sounds like a good man, but how do you judge what is there if everything we know is perceived?”


    Their host clapped his hands in excitement. “His point exactly! I only saw someone in need, so I helped.”


    Amari blearily rose after listening in to the exchange. “Thank you; I don’t know how we can repay you, but…”


    “Think nothing of the sort! I grew up as an orphan on the streets of Markarth. I'd have died there, too, but for the kindness of an old warrior by the name of Logrolf the Bent. Logrolf rescued me and gave me enough money to get out of the city. I followed the Karth River north, and came here. When I met Michel, I knew this was where I belonged. I suppose any aid I can lend a stranger is paying him back, really."


    Amari and Trebonde traded a worried glance at the mention of Markarth and Logrolf.


    “Excuse me.” Trebonde started, but the Redguard interjected.


    “Azzada, the name’s Azzada Lylvieve.”


    “Excuse me Azzada, but this ‘Logrolf,’did you say warrior and is he the same wise man you mentioned earlier?”


    “Yes and yes! Although he was old even then, but he still had the Warriors spirit! You two were coming from the south right? Were you at Markarth by chance? A courier stopped here briefly and carried grave news of a rebellion there! Not that I like Markarth, but a rebellion?”


    “It’s true; we barely escaped,” Trebonde answered, though he knew it was only because of the chaos they made it past the guards.


    “By the Divine why?!”


    “A Forsworn murdered a woman in the market.” Amari added apathetically while she rummaged through the pile of her torn and soiled clothes for her necklace.


    “And you saw this? Pour girl.” Amari thought it was cute he was so concerned. Of everything she’d witnessed, that was near the bottom.


    “That was the spark.” Trebonde continued. “We missed most of it, but from what I heard: The Silver Bloods were using the Forsworn to their gain and the people rose against them, rallied by a man preaching as if possessed by a demon.”


    He was possessed by a demon, Amari thought; Boethiah to be exact.


    Azzada leaned back blew out a long breath. “Wow, this is a lot to take in; and to think poor Logrolf could be stuck in the middle of this. Homeless! It’s been months since we last heard from him; not since he wrote that he feared his house was haunted.”


    Amari cleared her throat nervously. He was definitely talking about the same Logrolf. How much did Azzada really know about his savior? They were spared from further discussing Logrolf by yelling outside shortly followed by an angry knock on the door. Muffled voices carried through the heavy wood:


    “Best leave things be Olda!”


    “I’m a good god fearing woman! I won’t stand for a demon in our midst!”


    “Go inside! You’ll bring their wrath!”


    “Don’t you DARE tell me what to do Horgeir! Azzada open up! We know you’re in there!”


    Azzada wrung his hands. “I’m so sorry! They’re good folk, just not the most open minded. Stay here; I’ll calm them down.”


    Their host swallowed; they all knew there was no chance of that succeeding. Trebonde rose with the demonic mace gripped tightly in his hand and spoke with cold authority:


    “No, I will handle it.”


    Azzada stepped back, doubt now crossing his face over the decision to take them in.


    “Please don’t hurt anyone.”


    Trebonde glanced to a row of cloaks hanging off a rack by the door.


    “Those cloaks; may we have them?”


    “Of… of course,” he ran and grabbed two cloaks, offering the smaller one to Amari, “this one is my daughter Julienne’s. We have a happy family here. A happy community. This is the first place I’ve been able to call home.”


    They donned the cloaks, then Trebonde stepped to face Azzada eye-to-eye.


    “You served us in a time of need. For this I’ll grant you a favor in turn. We will leave this place without bloodshed; on the condition word of our passing never leaves a soul’s lips. Agreed?”


    Azzada nodded and collapsed with his back to the wall. A boy of about ten ran out from the back room and rushed to hug is dad. The mother, a comely Breton, chased close behind hissing at the boy to come back. When she saw Trebonde and the mace, she dropped to also hug Azzada. A moment late another girl, maybe a year or two older than Amari ran out and completed the human shield around her father. None of them met his gaze, except the boy who glared defiantly up at them as if trying to memorize their every detail.


    Trebondes cold mask cracked and he flipped the hood up to conceal his face in shadow. Amari mimicked the action and they both turned to the door and growing mob outside.


    Amari,” Trebonde whispered, “keep close to me and that hood tight. The less they have to identify us the better.”


    That boy hates us,” she whispered back.


    I’m not killing a boy,” he said with a growl.


    Shocked Amari continued, “I wasn’t asking—“


    Yes you were; that is the only way we can be sure of his silence. We’ll have to leave with that risk.”


    Trebonde raised his voice over his shoulder to address the family once more. “Logrolf is dead and his soul lies scattered across the Void. You have a nice family; remember the condition.”


    Trebonde opened the door without waiting for a response and faced the mob. He cut off a shrew of a woman at the head of the mob about to speak.


    “Olda, I presume.”


    He took a slow, deliberate step forward with the hood ominously shrouding his face in darkness and flexed his grip on the Daedric artifact. The mob reflexively took a step back, clearing a space. He raised the Oblivion forged mace so that one fanged skull, with eyes now glowing green in anticipation, stared into hers. He took another step forward and once again the mob stepped back, but Olda’s feet were locked in place and she was left alone before him.


    “I am not a demon. I am thee Champion of Demons! I allow you to live; I allow this village to live only as a favor to the one called Azzada for his service. Try my mercy any further and see your world drowned in blood! For this mace craves your souls.”


    He paused to let the words sink in and waved the mace in its dark glory before them.


    “Speak a single word of our passing and He, the Lord of Terror, the Prince of Domination will hear. Speak a single word and I will hear. Should I need return, your lives will know only darkness and despair for all eternity!”


    Another pause and the mob remained as silent as a grave. Without a word, he broke into a confident stride straight through the center of the gathering. The villagers scattered before him like a breaking wave and Amari hurried to follow in the wake of his flapping cloak.


    Once clear of the mob, she nervously whispered, “Trebonde, you’re scaring me.”


    “Shh! I think they bought it! Just keep walking and don’t look back.” He hissed back.


    “So, it was all just an act?” She sighed in relief.


    He flashed a grin at her. “Of course!”


    As Dragon Bridge faded into the distance, they began to slowly relax; hardly believing they manage to survive yet another trial. Amari streteched with her hands behind her head and was surprised with how ell her clothing fit. Azzada’s daughter had inherited their mother’s Breton blood and this was the first time Amari had comfortable clothes since Robber’s Gorge. She could care less that the muddy path was splashing across her new dress. They didn’t chafe and the sun was warm! Although it was a dress… she didn’t know how well she could run in it.


    Trebonde turned in confusion when he heard fabric tear and saw Amari cutting a slit along the leg with her dagger.




    He shrugged, “Maybe you can start a new fashion trend.”


    They plodded along in silence awhile and others travellers began appearing on the road as the neared Solitude.


    “Trebonde… Are we the bad guys?”


    “What? That’s an odd question.”


    “It’s Azzada and the villagers. They were all so scared.”


    “That? Everything was civil until those villagers started a fight. I only did what was needed to survive. Really, that was the most peaceful route; nobody was even hurt.”


    It still didn’t sit well with her. “But it wasn’t just them. Everywhere we go people die or attack us. Robber’s Gorge, Karthwasten, Markarth, and now Dragon Bridge are all in ruin or chaos.”


    “Maybe we’re just so good they can’t deal with our presence?”


    Amari glared at him and he raised his arms in surrender.


    “Alright some serious shit follows us around, but did you enjoy it?”


    “Um...” They both had lived through Amari’s feelings during destroying the Toad thanks to Molag Bal’s mental rape projecting the memories for all to see.


    “Well, he deserved it. Where they situations you wanted? No? Problem solved; not the bad guys.”


    His thinking was so direct, but Amari didn’t know how to refute it. He continued:


    “Now, I’m not saying we’re the ‘your Holiness’ good guys type, just a normal pair of sods trying to survive.”


    “Normal?” Amari laughed at the notion.


    Trebonde couldn’t help but laugh too. “We can try, or at least fake it!”


    “Still”—Amari continued, holding herself tightly—“I… I don’t think you should use the Mace anymore.”


    Anger flashed across Trebonde’s face. He could do as he pleased! The thought came and went before Trebonde could even process it, but Amari sensed it and flinched.


     “I… I won’t… when I wield it, I can feel its will; its power. Killing isn’t enough for it… every time I wield it, it’s like I’m trapped in the bowels of that House again.


    “Thank you... I don’t want to lose you too.”


    They walked in silence for a time after that. More travelers trickled onto the path and soon they were lost in a stream of famers, soldiers, and adventurers. The silence was filled with the idle chatter of daily routines. Crop yields, bandit sightings, a merchant’s new wares, weather. Weather. Weather that now carried Peryite’s Gift.


    She rubbed the mark the Prince had left on her; it still stung and itched. What had he said? ‘A boon for the times to come.’ Damn it! She finally discovered what the skull rune, Va Moriastarn, did, sort of. Now she had a new mark of unknown purpose!


    The path had been steadily rising and to her right Skyrim stretched out before her: beautiful, harsh, free, unforgiving. Amari moved to remove her hood, but was stopped by Trebonde.


    “Not yet. We’re wanted remember.”


    Amari had forgotten they had broken out of the mines. They were criminals! With a bounty!


    “Markarth! The guards!” She squeaked.


    “They are the least of my worries for now. I don’t think that city will be in condition to collect anytime soon; besides, we’re not even in the Reach anymore. Those guards have no jurisdiction here in Haafingar.” He shook his head and double checked for eavesdroppers with the motion. “No, it’s the two Vigilants that were at Karthwasten that worry me.”


    “But we were helping Tyr—“ Amari couldn’t finish the priest’s name, “But we’re on their side. Anyway those two were killed…”


    “I know and now their killer is dust; no evidence of him remains. That’s what worries me. Those two knew exactly who we were and that we were with Tyranus. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but he sent out a bundle of letters with that Forsworn wannabe boy.”


    “The one that still owes me money?”


    Trebonde grinned. “Yeah, that one. My guess, no, I know Tyranus was investigating us and that bundle must have contained all his notes on us.”


    “But we didn’t do anything!”


    “I know that; you know that, but do they? Look at the evidence they have: Tyranus sends a message urgent enough to trust an unknown boy to deliver; they send a patrol of Vigilants to protect the town; neither Tyranus or the patrol report back; so now they’ll start a new investigation. They’ll find the dead patrol; see Karthwasten and Markarth in chaos; and then find Tyranus’s remains in the House. The search will broaden from there, but they will eventually reach Dragons Bridge. Someone there will speak—“


    “But what about that whole act?” Amari interjected.


    “A stall only. As time passes, the edge of their fear will dull. When the Vigilants show, they’ll gain courage and the inquisitors won’t relent until someone speaks out.”


    “That boy…” Awari whispered, remembering the hatred in Azzada’s son’s eyes. She understood that hate.


    “Possibly, but it could be any of them. Once that’s out, the Vigilaints will know we were at every scene and have the Mace, combine that with whatever Tyranus wrote about us, and I don’t like our odds.”


    “But we can explain everything!” Amari protested.


    “You’re welcome to try. I’ve run across these people before. Tyranus would have been considered a moderate among them.”


    Amari slumped her shoulders, “Why are we always blamed? How can you know if any of this will even happen?”


     “I don’t, but to know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”


    Amari repeated the phrase to herself, ingraining it to her memory.


    “Which brings me to our next task; we can’t use these identities anymore. Too many of the wrong people know who Amari and Trebonde are. So, first step is new names.”   


    “New names?! I don’t want a new name; I don’t want Amari to be erased!”


    “You can’t erase your names; they are always a part of you.”


    That was good, right? Amari thought, but the way the rogue said it sounded haunted, faraway.


    “How do you even go about choosing a new name…”


    “It’s really not that difficult; just pick something common that won’t attract attention.”


    Amari scratched her head as they walked, but that did nothing to fill the blankness of her mind. Trebonde cleared his throat:


    “Ambre, Muiri, Camille, Melisande


     Mena, Fianna, Talara


     Lisette, Carcette, Violette


     Kaie, Kaera, or Raelynn, for example.”


    “You sure know a lot of girl names.” Amari prodded.


    “And for every race!” He added unabashedly.


    “What were the first three again?”


    “Ambre, Muiri, and Camille.”


     “And the last one?”




    “How about the eighth one?”


    He glared at her and kicked the bottom of her foot as she was lifting it. She stumbled forward with a yelp, then returned a glare back at him.


    “Well, did any meet the tonal quality to grace your ears?”


    She stuck her tongue out at him. “Kaera; it sounds strong.”


    “That wasn’t even one of the ones you asked to be repeated!” He sighed in exacerbation and she snickered.


    “So, what about you?” Amari prodded again. “What will your new name be.”


    “Hmm.” He pondered and scratched his beard, then did a double take. When did he get a beard? Well they had been slightly preoccupied the last few days. “Something noble and righteous sounding could be fun this time; like Caius or Maximus or Valus!”


    “You? Righteous?” Amari couldn’t help but laugh. “Ooh! Pick Valus!”


    He ignored her snickers and puffed his chest out before the now looming fortifications of Solitude. “Yes. The Valor of Valus.”


    “It rhymes with phallus!” 


    He deflated like the antithesis of the rhyme and the teen laughed mercilessly at his shocked horror.
















15 Comments   |   Felkros likes this.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  May 3, 2016
    fixed, had a /edit tagged to the link
  • The Wing
    The Wing   ·  May 3, 2016
    Hey man, the 'previous' button is taking me to the blog list.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  April 11, 2016
    I actually like that you are changing the characters' names. It's a good move. Names are very important, IMO. Funny how you can almost believe your new identity if you change your name. Assume a character. I'm interested to see where you go with this. 
  • The Wing
    The Wing   ·  April 11, 2016
    It's so much fun to see how characters change throughout the course of a story. I think renaming them is a really interesting way to mark significant character development. I get the feeling Valus has changed his name quite a few times in the past. 
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  April 11, 2016
    Thank you  It's always a writing challenge to write from such a different perspective. They've been doing a lot of  just reacting in the past, so I'm having fun playing with how their character has developed in the slower scenes.
    I'm pretty sure I'm...  more
  • The Wing
    The Wing   ·  April 11, 2016
    I love the moments where you remember that Amari (or Kaera?) is just a young girl. It makes so much more potent all of the horrible things she has had to endure, and those that are yet to come...
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  April 10, 2016
    *Warning* *Chapter closed ahead* *Rampaging crabs X-ing*
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  April 10, 2016
    I had a long list of blogs to catch up on. Surprised me when I reached the end.
    I like how you changed the forward arrow on your latest posting to show there isn't another chapter yet.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  April 10, 2016
    Thanks Sotek, I just posted this a few hours ago. That's a pretty fast response in my book, not that it matters. Sometimes it takes me days to read something. It's nice to finally throw some fun things Amari's way.
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  April 10, 2016
    OMG that is perfect Lissette! You know, the Bard's College will be making an appearance soonish... wonder if I can thrust that in there somewhere, LOL
    the 'Your Holiness' good guy was definitely not a jab at Albee