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Areldril peered intently across the river. He glanced first at Kaleeth, though seemed quickly disinterested in her before he turned his attention to Meesei. "Yes, you match the description of the lizard I needed to speak to. Hmm, what luck. Well, I should specify the full conditions for my surrender are that you allow my men to go on their way, and you...interrogate me forthwith so that I can tell you what I know." The Altmer shouted across the river.

After Areldril gave his conditions, Meesei quickly answered Lunise. "It seems as though he has a particular interest in me. Based on the situation, I would reason he either intends to get close to me so that he can attack, or he wanted to speak to me from the beginning. I will admit this is most unusual, but there seems to be more to this than we expected. I should speak to him, but you both may want to join. Would you find the terms he gave for his surrender acceptable? From your report, he is the only one of importance among them, and he may not be as cooperative if we attack. We will just need to require that he hand over the books and scrolls he stole."

Meesei was not even in a position to be able to see the river with her own eyes, instead using both forms of life detection periodically to observe her surroundings. They had been waiting long enough that their target was due to arrive. Sabine had previously scouted ahead and knew they were on approach. She had not been able to close in enough to glean many details, but their target, the Altmer named Areldril, was on horseback, along with two others. This was the closest river crossing that was suitable for their mounts.

"It would not surprise me if he had command of uncommon forms of magic." Meesei commented. "He was the chief scholar and researcher of ancient civilizations for the Thalmor. Not to mention his work on Daedra and the Divine. With the resources available to him, I would wager on him being among the most educated people in Tamriel. With any magical ability of his own, he could be a serious threat."

There was another ten minutes of waiting before Meesei detected something. Quite a few things, actually. It was a large group, consistent with the size that Sabine had reported. None of their life forces were obscured in any way, so either Areldril did not know how to hide him, he did not know they were being tracked, or he simply did not care if they were found.

From the treeline on the other side of the river, Areldril's group started making their way down the hill to the crossing. Areldril himself was on a horse near the back, surrounded by about ten or so Altmer and a few Bosmer in Elven armor. However, they were also joined by another ten individuals of varying races wearing no kind of uniform. Areldril had, according to their information, been joined exclusively by other Thalmor soldiers, so these others were likely, based on the context, followers of Vile leading him out of the Dominion.

Marod, Lunise, and Meesei's pack were all on edge, ready and waiting for their moment to strike. The plan was for them to wait until as many of them were in the water as possible, or until they were spotted, to put their enemy in the worst tactical position as possible. After a few moments, Vile's followers were crossing the river ahead of the rogue Thalmor, but it was at that point that a dog with the group of Vile's started sniffing the air, then began barking loudly and ceaselessly. The dog's handler immediately recognized the signal, so they started to draw their weapons. Meesei's pack too were just about to begin their attack, but Areldril had an entirely different plan in mind. He was in the back on his horse, with a slight glow on his hand. He had already used his magic on approach to detect the ambushers, and yet he had done nothing to stop Vile's followers from springing the trap. Instead, he looked out over the trees across the river with a calm confidence in his expression.

"Ah, it seems our acquaintances have brought me exactly what I wanted. Men, you know what to do." Areldril said aloud. His Elven soldiers drew bows, swords, and readied their spells, but Vile's followers in the river were too caught up in the confusion to notice that they were not aiming at the lycans. Instead, arrows and spellfire rained down on those in the river, from behind as well as from Meesei's pack. With no preparations against this surprise betrayal, Areldril's supposed allies were cut down in mere moments; some to arrows, and others to the shock spells that were amplified by the water of the river.

The very moment the betrayal was complete, Areldril raised up his hand, signaling for his men to lower their weapons. They were on the other side of the river from Meesei's pack, and still armed, but Meesei was both surprised and uncertain enough to halt her attack before it could begin, at least for the moment. The last thing she had expected from this ambush was for the rogue Thalmor to turn on their allies in the opening of the fight. The situation was certainly even more complicated than it had initially appeared.

"You are the lycanthropes, yes? Good to see that you were competent enough to track me. At any rate, I surrender." He shouted across the river. Despite his words, his tone still had that unmistakable air of Thalmor superiority.
The rest of the night was uneventful after they made their way back to their hunting camp, where they remained for the rest of the night. Members of the clan were returning back to the Silent City for all of the next day, but Meesei still had a crowd for her duel with her challenger. She did win the duel without too much trouble, and she did manage to avoid killing the Breton. Still, it would not be the last duel that Meesei would have to face over the coming years.

As time passed, Meesei returned more fully to her active role in the war effort. Her body grew healthier, so the people would see her as being stronger, and more importantly, their warriors saw her taking direct part in attacks against Vile's followers. Once again, the Champion's pack was having successes against the enemy in difficult, impactful missions all across Tamriel, from the Summerset Isle to the island of Solstheim. Hircine's followers had their Champion again, and she was now stronger than ever. However, Meesei could not escape the feeling that the goodwill she had earned among the clans was forever tainted. After all, she had failed once, so the mythos surrounding their pack no longer painted them as being unstoppable. People no longer believed that she could not fail, so Meesei knew she would have to come to accept the new ways in which Hircine's followers viewed her. When Meesei and her pack were not carrying out missions, she made an effort to spend more time with Sabine than she had before. Sometimes, she would carry out magical research with her, or pass on some of the magical secrets she had learned over the past few years. Other times, she would simply try to relax with her, as she felt the need to try and repair the relationship she felt she had damaged with her daughter.

For the war itself, the clans seemed as if they were making surprising amounts of progress against Vile's followers. With some help from the Empire and Dominion, they were able to produce more antidote, and therefore were able to take more direct actions against the enemy. As well, they made use of other allies, such as non-lycan followers of Hircine or the followers of Molag Bal to attack where they could not. Over time, the war shifted from delaying the inevitable to pushing back against the enemy. Although, reports from Saras made the enemy's decline appear far more strange than it appeared on the surface. The majority of the clans' people simply thought that they were winning the war conventionally, but Saras was convinced that they had not done near enough actual damage to enemy forces or resources to cause them to weaken as they had. Attacks against the clans were reduced dramatically, but Saras' reports suggested that the enemy should have the means to attack more frequently, and successfully. What was more, Vile's followers were certainly not being inactive. He could link Vile's agents to attacks against Talos worshipers all across the Empire, and he found evidence of inquiries and investments made by enemy agents that seemed to have nothing to do with lycans. Saras even discovered that the enemy had funded an archeological dig near the base of the Throat of the World: a place that near which the clans had little, if any activity. The enemy had goals that they did not understand, and according to some of Saras' infiltrators, it was creating some unrest among the enemy. Those who had joined based on personal vendettas against lycans were growing agitated with the apparent shift in priorities, and in some cases, started acting on their own. All of this would seem to be good news for Tamriel's lycan clans, but there were so many unknown in the mysterious puzzle that was this war that Meesei was not ready to stop worrying just yet.

Two years after Rhazii's first transformation, the Champion's pack was on one of the most sensitive missions to date. It was perhaps not the most dangerous, but there was some potential for certain political problems to arise. They were in County Bravil to the west of the city, near the border to Elsweyr. They were not far from the city, though they had still made camp in the forest regardless, as they had brought Leaps along with them. He had grown rather...large, and most stable owners would not dare try to watch after him without a sizable fee. Currently, Rhazii and Julan were watching after him in their camp. Rhazii was nearing his sixteenth birthday, so both he and Julan could be trusted to take care of themselves as long as they were not being brought directly into danger.

For the rest of the pack, they were joined by Marod and Lunise in tracking a specific person who was meant to be crossing the Elsweyr border. In fact, they were expecting to find a small, but devoted squad of former Thalmor soldiers in the service of a formerly high ranking Thalmor official who had defected from the government. He had once been exceptionally high ranking and was a part of the inner circle of the Thalmor's leadership, but without warning, he stole some sensitive information and fled the Summerset Isles. Normally, it would not be a concern of Meesei's, but there was also some evidence to suggest he had started communicating with some of Vile's followers after his escape. In the interest of preventing Thalmor secrets from falling into enemy hands, Meesei had agreed to coordinate with Lunise and Marod to capture him.

The pack was lying in wait in the forest near the river crossing that the rogue Thalmor was expected to use. They had spread out enough to get a wide view of the river, though they were still close enough that they would be able to see one another if they were not hiding behind bushes. Meesei was with Marod and Lunise, obscuring herself behind a tree and using life detection to observe the other bank of the river. There were hills on both sides of the river, so if their target did cross, then they would be caught without the high ground in the river.

"I do not see anything yet. Nothing more than birds." Meesei updated the other two with her. "Would you expect him to have the knowledge of how to obscure he and his men from life detection? He was among the upper echelon of the Dominion government."
I think we can probably move on soon, unless you have more you'd like to do. I can move us on to the last skip of a few years to start the final act. Unless you had anything else you wanted to go to first.

I had a particular scene in mind regarding a Thalmor, and I was wondering if I could have Lunise and Marod be present? Would they meet with the Champion's pack to handle something if it was something sensitive enough to all three parties involved?
Seeing as Rhazii, while he was upset, was not actually arguing with them, Ahnasha decided to try to give him some reassurance. As he stood up, she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Like I said, you shouldn't worry too much. Remember what I told you about the lycan clans before the war? They were meant pretty much completely to help lycans learn control and find packs for them. So, there are a lot of people here that are good at teaching control, and we learned from them. If you do well enough, then we won't need the daily training anymore. So, I'd recommend you make sure to put in the effort."

Kaleeth saw that the others were starting to move, likely because they were about to leave. She did not particularly want to get up at the moment, but she also did not want to call attention to her mood. For the moment, she stayed where she was with Janius, but if it looked like they were about to go, she would get up without argument. "My beast isn't as bothered by you, really. I don't think crocodiles keep the same mates all their live, but at the same time, I don't think my beast spirit really cares about that. As long as it has a mate at all, it is happy with it. And of course it doesn't mind being with Julan. I guess it could tolerate us hunting together. I just hope the others don't start to think that I don't want to be around them."
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