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Zeroth


Guild Headquarters
Bruma
13th First Seed,
Late Afternoon




“Go on. Say it,” came the low and rumbling breath of the dark character - buried beneath the hood of his felt cloak - a pair of bright green eyes peaking out. He was much taller than his companion, tall as she herself was. Even hunched over at his broad shoulders, he eclipsed the slim Dunmer stood before him.

“Say what?” She asked, pointed ears twitching as she stepped forward, barefoot as always, a long skirt billowing around her ankles as a string of beads tinkled. The Dunmer woman pushed back her own hood, the collected raindrops falling to the floor with a splash.

The Khajiit sighed, weary. “The place is a shit hole, say it.”

That made her tilt her head. She simply observed him leaning up against what she made out as the hearth of the living area. It was hard to tell in the gloom, and everything was covered in dust, too. Her full lips curled upwards into a smile, and a twinkle passed across her scarlett orbs as they softened. “It’s not so bad at all, Sinty.”

My name is Dro’Sintaba.,” he retorted quickly, nostrils flaring with an aggrieved huff. He rolled his shoulders forward and sighed again - like he was forcing every drop of hope out of himself. Deflating.

The Dunmer tutted and rolled her eyes, boldly, in his direction. “That’s what I said!”

She stepped back towards him, forcing her own arm through his, joining the two of them at the elbow. He relented and followed her “It doesn’t smell great, you’re right, but if you let me light the lamps, it’ll burn the stench from the air - have patience my friend.” She added with a smile, showing her teeth, and a dimple in each cheek. He warmed at that, releasing the tension in his shoulders.

With a snap of her fingers, a controlled flame soared beside her and the first lamp lit up. After circling the room, performing the same trick over and over, the chill left the room and a warm glow lit it up in its entirety. The plush furniture was blanketed in cobwebs, dust, and dirt - but it was there.

It was clear it had once been loved.

“Just a quick bit of cleaning here… We’ll have a lounge for our members to relax in…” The Dunmer trilled, leading the Khajiit around the room again. “And through there…” A slender finger pointed to the archway separating this room from the next; “we’ll have delicious feasts every night!” she giggled, her ears twitching again.

“You think so?” the Khajiit asked, his fouler mood seemingly mollified for the time being.

The Dunmer tilted her head, narrowing her eyes coyly. “Oh, I know so…” she purred. Walking now towards an actual door. “But this room… This is the one you really liked.” As if permitting him to walk forwards, she let go of his elbow, and took a step back.

Excitedly, Dro’Sintaba pushed open the door - finding himself in the larger room as he stepped beyond the threshold. A generously sized bed was placed in one corner, a long and sprawling desk had been set up in front of a large window. His eyes widened as he paced through, straightening himself up to his full and impressive height. “That view…” he exhaled.

The Dunmer then followed him in, humming in agreement. “Beautiful, I know.” She remarked, making her way across the dusty rug to the window to release the latch. “The forest beyond this window will carry the scent of pine on a breeze, right to you.” She blinked up at him, smiling again.

Dro’Sintaba pushed back his own hood at last - revealing his dark fur, and the painted stripes across the bridge of his nose. There was a whisper of a smile on his countenance and he nodded. “Thank you Ivy,” he said heavily, unable to meet her gaze with his own for that moment.

She understood how much it meant to him.
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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Stormflyx
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Stormflyx S U P E R L O V E

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Guild Headquarters
Bruma
19th First Seed, Evening





As rain heaved and fell over Bruma, the late evening scent from within the sturdy walls of the guildhouse was peppered with petrichor and the rich hue of a rich vintage red, firewood, and burning herbs. A thin wisp of smoke circled the edges of the guild office and the window was propped open with two slender legs hanging out out. Skin the colour of a storm clouds that graced the sky were catching the cool heavy droplets before running and falling to the ground to sink through freshly turned soil..

“Close the window, you’ll catch your death doing that,” said Dro’Sintaba as he glanced upwards and observed her for a moment, hung upside down from the sill, her legs hooked outside. There was a curled pile of red hair like a pillow beneath her head. He sighed, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, magnifying his piercing eyes in the dim warmth of candlelight.

The Dunmer did not look back, instead she was shuffling through a pile of parchment placed out across the floor before her. “Death can’t be caught, my friend. She simply waits to embrace us when we’ve reached the end of our road.” Ivy responded calm as calm, drawing a finger underneath a line of cursive on the paper.

“This Sinalare, she’s interesting you know,” Ivy mused aloud, “Been a prisoner of war - she’s resilient then, been through a lot… Excellent skillset too I’d say. Wager she’ll be a fantastic hire, work her way up the ranks very quickly.”

Dro’Sintaba shook his head incredulously, sighing from his nostrils. The chair beneath his huge form creaked and his ears flicked back in response. The Khajiit placed an elbow on the table and ran a finger under his chin. “As long as she isn’t mouthy and doesn’t answer back. I don’t know if I’ve the patience for trouble, Ivy…”

“If you didn’t want trouble - ‘haps you shouldn’t have hired the Nord woman, you know… that one” Ivy said as she wiggled her toes. “Werebear… Could be a liability.”

“She wants to cure herself,” Dro’Sintaba answered with a shrug of his shoulders. “And besides from that she seemed dedicated, strong… Low maintenance…”

That made Ivy scoff, but there was no bad intent towards the girl. “Make your mind up, you pick and choose what you like, don’t you?” she laughed, at the hypocrisy.

“That I do…” the Khajiit responded before taking a long sip from his glass.




“It’s good that we’ve got a healer,” Ivy suggested - far from the window now. Cross legged in the centre of the Khajiit’s bed. The same parchments spread around her. Dro’Sintaba was still in his chair, unmoved. He shot a fierce glare in Ivy’s direction that anyone else might have balked under, but the Dunmer seemed entirely immune.

His voice was then a restrained growl, touched with impatience while he blinked slowly and tapped a finger on the side of his goblet. “No ideas,” he replied with a finality. They’d been over it already. Anyone else might have thrown a fit to hear the woman laugh after that, but as she was immune to him, he was immune to her.

“If nothing else, he’s older. Knows how to talk to the youth… He might in some way, assist in the disciplining should we need it,” Ivy said with a motion of her hand as she placed the parchment to the bottom of the pile.

Dro’Sintaba wanted to warn the Dunmer not to push her luck, but he thought better of it. The sound of rain and distant thunder was soothing to his ears as the rest of him enjoyed the warmth of the hearthfire, and the warmth of the wine even more so. The pleasant lingering burn through his chest to his stomach. “Maybe,” he shrugged.

After a longer while, Dro’Sintaba lifted his head slowly from the papers to glance at Ivy. “What of the young Nord? Of Megana,” his lips parted into a smile and there was a twinkle in his eye. “I like her, she’d make a good squire I think.”

Ivy frowned, “she’s not to be your little runabout slave - she’s a grown woman with ambitions and aspirations.” Suddenly, a bony finger extended to point at the Khajiit - who spread his arms under the accusation from the Dunmer. “If I’m not allowed to go about having ideas, nor are you. She’ll attend to jobs just as much as she’ll assist you.”




“La’Shuni….” Ivy breathed out, with a smile on her lips. She reached to a small copper bowl and plucked out a handful of berries, picking at them one by one as her eyes traced the parchment. “I like you, La’Shuni…” she muttered, feeling her cheeks pull inwards at the tartness of the fruit.

From across the room, Dro’Sintaba spoke up; “what was that?” he asked, a crease against his brow. “Did you say something?” he asked, reaching for his goblet again and finding only the last dregs of the red in a tiny pool at the very bottom. He sighed, feeling a heaviness in his chest that made him cough abruptly.

Ivy lifted her head at that, sour berries had her squinting as she observed the Cathay-raht clearing his throat before pouring out another glass. “Steady on Sinty…” she uttered, before looking back at the one named La’Shuni’s application. Intrigued, she added it to her small accepted pile. “I very much look forward to meeting another Khajiit,” she declared - loud enough for the guild leader to hear.

“Ah,” Dro’Sintaba said in a strained tone. “Yes, yes. The maiden historian, yes?” He added with a wave of his hand.

“Mmhmm,” Ivy replied with a nod - her lips stained vibrantly from the berries. “We shall need a scout, and a scholar of sorts is always useful to have around. If you have a squire… Perhaps she could be mine. I feel… I feel happy when I think of her, like there’s a nice pull between us…” Ivy explained happily.




Dro’Sintaba laughed.

He laughed hard until his chest swelled again and his laughter turned into another bout of coughing. “This…. Godsdamned dust in here,” he wheezed, rubbing his chest with the back of his hand, laughter fading away. “Lifts-Many-Boulders… We’ll see about that.

“Don’t start with that,” the red-head replied. Rolling her eyes, a hand falling to her hip as she stirred the pot that sat over the open flame. A soup of some kind bubbled away filling the air with the inviting tang of onion, mushroom, and a bone broth. “He seems… Softer than he looks. He’ll be an asset to this guild - both in his strength and in his vulnerability. He’s a protector,” she added, looking over her shoulder at the Khajiit who was still hunched over his desk.

“Well,” Dro’Sintaba huffed - his chest suddenly puffing out as he shot her a cursory glance, a spark of anger flittered over his eyes. “What am I? Chopped liver?” he spat, offended.

Again, Ivy simply laughed.

“You’d rather sauce yourself and sign papers and you know it,” she shot back, lifting the ladle from the soup to point it in his direction, dropping a generous splash of the food onto the floor.

Dro’Sintaba didn’t answer for a while, simply shrugging at the soup strewn across the floor and returning to the last of the pages.

“This mage… Taril… He seems like trouble, like he’s some kind of flirt,” the Khajiit said with a raised brow and curled lip. He grumbled something under his breath, and Ivy glanced back again.

“Oh yeah?” she asked, a smirk on her lips. “Threatened are you?” she continued - pushing her luck.

He chose not to answer that. He chose to ignore it, but truthfully it did bother him. A reminder of his lost youth in the form of a young adventurer with the world ahead of him. The Cathay-raht turned his head to the window, sighing long at the obscured moon behind the clouds, nothing but a brightness was the indication that it was there.

“Well, we can always use another mage… The other Argonian seems interesting too. An apprentice smith. If we ever grow… We’ll need craftsmen.” He sighed, rubbing his eyes from under the frames of the spectacles. That was the last of them.

“Well, Ivy… Pin the names to the town notice board come the morning. We’ll see if they even still arrive…”

Ivy nodded, tucking a strand of unruly hair behind her ear as she poured out two bowls of the soup, the steam warmed her cheeks and was hot enough to make her blink. It had been a long night, and still there were some on the pile that perhaps one day would walk through the doors and be welcomed to Dro’Sintaba’s guild. But for now, just a small handful. She hoped that they would be comfortable. That her efforts to clean and make the guildhouse warm and homely had been enough. That they would like it just enough to stay.

“Oh they will my friend. They will.”

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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Dervish
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Dervish Let's get volatile

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Bruma
20th First Seed, Morning


“What is that repulsive creature?! Why is digging up my garden?” a shrill Imperial voice broke the cool, damp morning. The creature, unsightly and of an appearance that suggested the Divines had plucked a bunch of parts from a box and stuck them together to see what would happen, disregarded the woman as its tusks plowed into the dirt once more with a contented snort. It was a large creature, standing a bit taller than a typical pony and about twice as wide, supported on six legs that ended in bony, insect-like spikes that connected to a pale grey and black striped coat with a long ridge of rough fur going along its spine, like the peaks of a mountain range. Its face looked like some unlikely pairing of an elk and a bear, and a short little tail wagged behind the creature as its pointy legs probed the dirt, nose sniffing all the while. It seemed entirely unperturbed by the interruption.

The woman then noticed it had a harness adorned to its frame and a length of severed rope trailing behind it. Someone owned this thing, she realized. She had berated irresponsible dog owners in her time, and had no problem shooing them away. This thing, however, made her stay her ground. Everything about it was so pointy.

“Go, shoo! Get!” she demanded. The creature’s face burrowed into the dirt once more.

“Scooter! Where are you, Scooter?” a strangely accented woman’s voice called, raspy in cadence. A Khajiit woman rounded the corner, dark sleeveless leather armour adorning her from, contrasting with her white coat of fur and tidily braided mane of hair. The Imperial grunted, immediately drawing the connection. The creature and the Khajiit even had matching colours.
Suddenly, the Khajiit’s eyes grew wide, and she exclaimed, “There you are!” she said, hurrying over. The creature responded to the familiar voice, brown-yellow eyes turning ponderously to glance back to meet the amber eyes belonging to his master. It bellowed contentedly and began prancing around with surprising agility that could most charitably be described as aerating the garden with its pointed legs. It suddenly stopped, pressing the front half of its body low as its rear end wiggled excitedly, as if this uncouth display was somehow a game.

Despite the utter annihilation of the garden, the woman had to admit, the strange creature was surprisingly cute, in its strange, monstrous way.

The Khajiit hurried up to the creature, which was hurriedly trying to chew on a truffle it had managed to dislodge so his master couldn’t remove it. It was rather dog-like, in a fashion. The Khajiit stroked the creature’s head and pressed hers against it. “You cannot run off like that, Scooter. People aren’t as understanding of your appetite as La’Shuni!” she said.

The Imperial approached with a huff. “This thing is yours?” she demanded. Suddenly, the Khajiit was standing erect, hands crossed before her, holding a bouquet of flowers.

“Oh, yes! This one is very sorry!” La’Shuni exclaimed, bowing her head apologetically. “This one tried to tell the stable master, ‘oh no, an echatere is not a horse! You cannot stable him like one!’, but he didn’t listen and this rascal got out in the night La’Shuni imagines, and he’s very clever, you see! He knows how to gnaw through ropes and open simple latches with his tusks, this one swears he only thinks with this stom-“

The Imperial gestured to the garden with an exasperated flourish. “It destroyed my garden! It’s eating my truffle right now!”

“Ah, yes! Again, La’Shuni is so, so sorry! You see, we had a long road coming from the mountains in the North, and there’s all these strange sights and smells and tastes to him, see he’s never left his home before, so he’s kind of like La’Shuni was only a few years back-“

“The. Garden.” The Imperial snapped. “You owe me, Khajiit!”

The flowers in the Khajiit’s hands were thrust out in offering. “That’s why this one bought you this! It is not much, but this one does not have coin at present, spent what little this one had one food and board last night, but she should be getting a job today!” La’Shuni said proudly. “First one, on her own, you see, and-“
The Imperial took the flowers, looking at them quizzically, the fire dying down somewhat in her dark eyes. “While the thought is appreciated, it isn’t going to replace my produce. I grow my own food!”

Another bow of the head, although this woman was being excessively rude. “Perhaps this one can suggest you invest in a sturdier fence? There are goats in this town, and from experience, they will eat everything…” she realized she was rambling on and smiled apologetically. Scooter grunted and tried to return to the garden, stopped by the muscular arms of the Khajiit woman. It bellowed dejectedly and slumped down on its flank with a thud, another unnervingly dog-like behaviour. “So please understand that this one does not have coin at present, but she will! There’s an adventurer’s guild starting up in town here, and this one will be able to pay for your losses in short order. It’s the best La’Shuni can do, but she promises she will return with coin!”

A nearby bulletin board was suddenly drawing a small crowd when an official came around, affixing parchment to it. La’Shuni’s heart raced; it was time!

“Oh! Excuse me, miss! This is likely her employment!” she said excitedly, hurrying over to Scooter. “This one will be back, she promises!” she exclaimed to the woman.

“Wait!” the Imperial shouted, but it was too late. The Khajiit and her echatere were thundering towards the crowd, bony points clacking into the cobblestone.

La’Shuni found herself in an odd assortment of people from all across Tamriel, and she was brushing shoulders with an incredibly large Argonian and a Nord woman with mousy, dark hair. The Khajiit’s eyes darted across the board and her heart skipped a beat.
Her name.

A claw raced out, pulling the paper off carelessly, which made her instantly regret it due to the rip. It would be seen as so disrespectful and unappreciative, a small part of her mind reminded her as she quickly took in the missive.

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “This one got the job!”

Her face was beaming, and she began to excitedly pat Scooter’s neck, his legs clacking contentedly. She waved the paper back at the Imperial woman, who couldn’t help but smile and shake her head. The wonders of youth, she thought as she grabbed for a rake and began the long process of rehabilitating her poor garden.
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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Greenie
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Greenie Heaven don't play like violins

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Bruma, 20th of First Seed

Now that she thought about it, it was a little strange to the young Nord that she had never actually been to Bruma before the last few weeks. So close to Skyrim, yet knowing it was part of Cyrodiil had made the Jerall Mountains seem strange and mysterious, and perhaps a little intimidating. Not to mention her father always making a bland and uninspiring face at the mention of anything from his homeland- sometimes it seemed as if he was more Nord than she was! Maybe that was what fueled the curiousity in her to finally step out of her comfort zone, to travel through the mountains and make her way into Bruma, after months of traveling through Skyrim. While she loved the home of the Nords with all her being, she knew there had to be more out there. Tamriel was huge, and Skyrim was just a small wee bit of the world! Stories told to her during her tavern stays had only further fanned the flame of intrigue, until at last the Nord stepped into Cyrodiil, hoping to find something different, something exciting.

She had to admit that at first glance she was rather... disappointed. All smiles perhaps, but disappointed nonetheless, as everything still seemed rather similar to back home, save the names of people perhaps. The smell was similar, the feel of the land, the food even... But then there was something that swayed her disappointment. A new guild searching for recruits? Here? Immediately her mind churned and excitement once more brew within, thoughts of her mother and the Companions at the forefront.

It'll be just like tha', won' it? I'll be able t'do a whole lotta things like Ma did, with others like me!

It was a no brainer, really. Adventuring was fun, but it was lonely business most of the time, and even if she was used to it, she liked being around people. She liked to talk to friendly folks, share food and mead at a table, regale people with tales of valour... or even silly stories and jokes.

There was always the possibility that she would be rejected-

"No, ain' gonna think like tha'!" she scolded herself loudly, smacking the table she was sitting at with the palm of her hand, which she regretted almost immediately, feeling the sting of an embedded splinter. "Gah, Stendar have mercy..."

Ignoring the puzzled and annoyed looks sent her way, Megana Corvus pushed back her chair and stood up, scowling as she looked at the obnoxious sliver of wood sticking out of her palm. Letting out a "blah", she carefully grabbed the intruder and yanked it out... or rather attempted to. Her fingers, though supple, were in fact useless against the teensy piece of wood, as were her teeth when she failed with the aforementioned. A large cough and a simultaneous clearing of someone's throat had Meg look away from her hand. "Ahh..."

Sheepish, she let out a small embarrassed laugh before reaching into the backpack she had carelessly plonked on the second chair by her table, rummaging about inside before pulling out a sad looking money bag that didn't promise many septims within.

Ahh... I really do hope I get in... I'mma be outta gold soon!

Leaving the tavern with her belongings and a slightly stinging palm, the Nord woman paused momentarily, hearing some raised voice in the distance. Unsure what that might be about, she wondered if it would be a good idea to see if there was trouble brewing somewhere. Wouldn't that be what aspiring adventurers and heroes would do? But then... what if people eventually thought she was causing trouble... She paused momentarily to fix her bag, the strap slipping off her shoulder. It seemed as if she'd need to find a replacement for it soon as well.

Before another sigh could escape her, her attention was caught by people gathering near a board Meg has recognized some days earlier as similar to the ones she would peruse to find her next delve to tomb raid, along with postings of marks needing to be hunted. Her green eyes widened and she hurried her way over, trying her best to politely push past those already standing there, nearly smacking face first into the largest Argonian she had ever seen... ever.

"Wah! Sorry!" Meandering a little to the side so she could see the board, she squinted as she tried to read what had been recently posted. Me?... me?.. me...? "Ah! Me!" Her exclamation was not the only one, however, and probably not the loudest one either as it seemed somebody else had found their name on the paper posted as well. It took only a quick glance to spot the person- with those pointed ears, white spotted fur, long spotted tail and catlike features, only a fool wouldn't recognize a khajiit.

"Me too!" she proclaimed, grinning in the stranger's direction. "I'm Meg, nice t'meetcha!"
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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Lemons
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Lemons They will look for him from the white tower...

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Bruma, 20th of First Seed

There were a very few things that Aud had gleaned how to read and write over the course of her short life. One of them was her name.

But simply writing her name wasn't enough for her to apply to a guild, and so she'd gone to the inn and payed out a few coins from her meager purse to a studious-looking fellow to write down her application as she dictated to him. There were a few words and phrases she'd had to repeat, as he'd apparently had issue parsing through her rather thick Solstheim accent, but she hoped it was mostly alright. She didn't have any way to be sure, of course, but she didn't see a reason for him to lie to her.

She wriggled out of her small, low tent, breathing deep and savoring the chill in the air. It was getting warmer, now, during the day. Too warm for her tastes, really, and during the summer, she knew it would get much worse from her brief stint at the Fighter's Guild in Cheydinhal. Still, she'd always been an early riser. Had to, really, to get a full day of hunting in. And so she was still able to shiver gently as the sunrise bled over the peaks of the Jeralls, and was reminded that she was alive.

Today the list goes up, she thought, throwing on her cloak and tossing the quiver of spears over her shoulder in a single fluid motion. I hope I make it in. I can hunt my food and make my repairs alone, but companionship is a different matter. It'll be a hard year if I don't find some soon.

She sighed. The fact that she couldn't read or write was a black mark pretty much everywhere she'd tried to fit in since she'd left the Skaal. She didn't expect much out of this one either. Still, what was another guild's rejection when she'd been rejected already, or found them too far removed from her tastes? If she was rejected--the likely outcome--she would keep moving on, as she always had. She caught herself fidgeting with the dagger hung around her neck, and hastily crammed it down her tunic. No sense in freely advertising something so valuable, and so precious to her.

The walls of Bruma loomed above her as she trudged onto the road, then into the city, her thick fur-and-leather books shuffling through the thin layer of snow. Ignoring the quizzical looks that came her way--you'd think that the people of Bruma had never seen a woman carrying six spears walk through their city in Skaal clothing and a backpack that clanked with the muted sound of metal--she continued her walk unabated, headed towards a noticeboard around which was clustered a...rather diverse set of characters. Argonians she was more used to, as some had occasionally come from Morrowind to Solstheim and she'd spied them from afar while hunting, but the mere existence of khajiit as a people still held surprise for her, not least in the way they spoke.

Shouldering none-too-gently through the small gaggle of people and shoving her way between the khajiit and a Nord woman significantly smaller than her own considerable bulk, she stepped up to the board, scanning down the list. She couldn't actually read much of it, of course, but the depiction of a crossed sword and shield had her reasonably convinced that it was what she was there for, and she was rewarded midway down the list with one of those very few things that she could read: Aud Longspear

She let out a breath that she didn't know she'd been holding, and spoke more quietly than those around her, in her husky, heavily accented voice:

"Well, I'll be damned."
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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Hank
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Hank Dionysian Mystery

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The city was on fire.

Soldiers marched all around him, swords and shields at the ready, their formation flawless and their steps steady, but Rhillian could see the uneasiness in their eyes. He felt it too. Every time the dragon overhead swooped low and dove out of the clouds for another strafing run of blistering hellfire, the air itself bowed and supplicated to make room for the beast’s massive form. The soldiers could feel it, the bow-wake of the displacement, and they flinched every time another street or row of homes ahead of them went up in flames. The dragon was on their side. They all knew that. But it was still a dragon. All of their most primal instincts were telling them to run.

“Steady, soldiers!” came the cry from their commander up ahead. The plume on her helmet was a fierce splash of red against the grey backdrop of the stones of Windhelm and it danced furiously in the wind, spurred on by the heat of the inferno that surrounded them. She was just as unsettled as the rest of them, Rhillan knew, but she was putting on a brave face all the same. That was what good leadership was. The chaplain admired her.

A hand touched his shoulder and he looked aside to see Lucius looking at him expectantly. He was a young man, forced to grow beyond his years, and defaced by a long scar that split his face in twain -- the souvenir of a Nordic greataxe. “It’s going to be alright, won’t it?” Lucius asked.

Before Rhillian could say anything, the clouds above them parted and the great dragon Odahviing burst forth, his wings trailing wisps of condensation. Sat stride his shoulders was the Dragonborn, clad in bone armor from head to toe, a shining blade held aloft. The weapon slashed through the air, like a general signaling his archers to fire, and the maw of the dragon opened to unleash a stream of fire that raked across the Palace of the Kings, looming dark and unforgiving ahead of them. Archers positioned on the roof went up in flames and fell, screaming and writing, to their deaths below, or collapsed in a charred heap where they stood, the flesh on their bones melting into ashen sludge. With a few powerful flaps of its mighty wings, Odahviing ascended back into the clouds, out of range of the Stormcloaks’ ballistas, and it was gone.

“Yes, it will,” Rhillian said, forcing himself to tear his gaze away from the awesome spectacle. He smiled and his eyes softened and he raised the amulet of Akatosh he wore around his neck for the soldier to see. “The son of the gods is with us today.”

---

Bruma, Cyrodiil
20th of First Seed, 4E213


He shot awake abruptly and gasped for breath. The Imperial blinked hard to clear the mist of sleep from his eyes, the afterimages of dragonfire still burned into his retinas, and slowly the guest quarters of the chapel’s rectory coalesced into form. Windhelm was long gone, he remembered now, and placed a hand on his chest to find his amulet of Arkay there instead, as it should be. The quick wipe of a hand across his brow confirmed the presence of cold sweat and Rhillian swung his legs out of bed, the mercifully cool touch of the stone of the floor against the bare soles of his feet anchoring him to reality and helping him pull the last vestiges of his slumbering mind out of the realm of his dreams and nightmares.

“Gods, give me strength,” came the familiar whispered prayer, barely audible and little more than a breath from between chapped lips. His amber eyes looked down on his hands and he saw that his fingers were trembling. Lucius’ scarred face came to him again, the image unbidden and unwanted, and Rhillian clenched his fists. The past should stay in the past.

He was in Bruma, and today was the day.

Rhillian got up, washed himself and slipped into his robes and armor, mouthing prayers and mantras as he went through the morning routine. The guest room was sparsely decorated and pragmatically furnished, as proper quarters should be, and Rhillian found comfort in the sensibility of the space’s arrangements. Windows set into the high walls, leading up to a vaulted ceiling, let in bright shafts of sunlight when he swiped the curtains aside and Rhillian basked in them for a few moments, his eyes half-closed against the light. He took another deep breath and exhaled slowly. His fingers were no longer trembling. The light, and the muffled birdsong that came from the church gardens outside, had cast away the darkness. Rhillian smiled as he slowly pulled his gauntlets over his hands.

Francis turned around in his seat when Rhillian stepped into the rectory proper and the old priest inclined his head in greeting. “Sleep well, my son?” he asked and put down the papers he had been reading next to the plate of breakfast in front of him. The living room had the same high ceiling as the sleeping quarters and was dominated by a large oaken table in the middle of the space, large enough to seat a dozen guests, that made Francis seem almost diminutive as he had his breakfast by his lonesome. The walls were lined with bookshelves and display cabinets that contained ecclesiarchical and theological texts, priestly attributes and sacred mementos. It was a beautiful room and Rhillian almost envied Francis.

“Yes, thank you,” Rhillian lied and bowed to emphasize his gratitude. The two priests knew each other from their time in the Legion and the old man had been gracious enough to allow Rhillian to stay overnight after his arrival in Bruma. “This place is wonderful. You must be comfortable here.”

The Breton chuckled and shrugged. “As comfortable as anyone can be at my age, I suppose.” He inspected Rhillian more closely over the rim of his half-moon glasses and frowned slightly. “Are you sure you must go? You look like you could do with some more peace and quiet. My doors are always open for you, you know.”

“Well, the guild will announce their recruits today,” Rhillian said and made sure that his steel claymore was fastened properly across his back. “If I have not been selected, I may call upon your hospitality once more. But just until I have planned my next move. I cannot stay for long, and I wouldn’t want to impose myself on you.”

Francis waved dismissively. “Bah. This chapel runs itself. Sigmund and Fryra are good people, but boring. Nords make terrible conversation. You, at least,” he said and jabbed a finger in Rhillian’s direction that was almost accusatory, “have interesting things to say, hm? Think about it. Now go.” The priest turned back to his papers and pushed his glasses back up on his nose. “Leave me to my reading.”

Rhillian smiled. That brusqueness had always been Francis’ way. He nodded and made his way outside, his chainmail clinking softly as he walked, the door to the chapel gardens swinging open with a loud creaking protest from its hinges. “Should get that looked at,” Rhillian called over his shoulder and smirked when he heard Francis grumble something unintelligible in response.

The fresh mountain air of Bruma greeted him and he drank it in gratefully. A few twists and turns through the streets of the city brought him to the town square. From there, the bulletin board was not hard to find, given that a sizable crowd had already gathered around it. Several people caught his eye; a towering Argonian, first of all, that looked to be almost more dragon than beastman, followed by an excitable female Khajiit and even a Nord woman that looked even wilder than a Stormcloak. Rhillian waited politely at the edge of the crowd until a navigable path to the notices opened itself to him and he stepped forward to scan the list for his name.

There it was. Rhillian of Drakelowe. “Title and all,” he mumbled to himself and smiled again. Truth be told, he had expected to find his name there. Adventurous healers were always hard to find. The Imperial glanced sidelong to see another Nord woman with dark hair strike up a conversation with the Khajiit and he realized that these people would be his comrades for the foreseeable future -- his comrades and his flock, in fact. He stepped back to let someone else look at the notice and looked up at the giant Argonian, lifting a hand against the stark sunlight of the morning. He had already memorized some of the other names on the list and one stood out.

“Lifts-Many-Boulders,” Rhillian said to himself and laughed. “I can see why.”

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The water was now boiling, and every few moments another potato was dropped inside of the pot. Normally, the Saxhleel would feel too exposed setting up such a camp. He usually cooked in the middle of the forest, where the fire was blotted out by thick oak and the smoke wafted through the parted canopy above. But here, in the old mer ruins west of Bruma, walls sufficiently covered most lines of sight to him, and he had long since made sure no one else had set up here.

Once the potatoes were sufficiently boiling, he turned and checked on the caribou he had killed. He opened the beast's cut abdomen, and reached inside to feel for its stomach. Clawed hands brushed against a bloated are, and he knew he had found the correct chamber, one of the four they had in their stomach. Within, the flank cuts and tenderloin he had placed within were nearly thoroughly pickled within the multitude of vegetables the animal had eaten over the last two days.

It was an old trick he'd learned among his travels, pickling meat into a dish within the stomach. It provided all the nutrients one needed, and it tasted well for even the Landstrider's picky palate. The moon was half concealed above, casting down a ghastly light on the ferociously marred Argonian warrior. Daixanos' tail flapped idly as he checked the food, and once it was ready, he poured the boiling water out of the pot and into a flask, and poured the stomach contents along with the beef he had inserted in there within the pot filled with potatoes.

The pot was far from cool, but the Argonian's leathery and callused scaled gave him some protection as he began to dig in, maw first. If he weren't sitting cross legged (and if he wore no clothing) he could easily be mistaken for a Daedroth by his snout and the way he consumed his food. He needed to eat fast, however. He wished to make it to Bruma by morning, and that meant he had to leave before dawn broke on the horizon.

Once his stomach was full, he cleaned his area and took the Elk into the wilderness to share with the forest. As he did so, he thanked the Hist for this bounty he had been given, and once more he looked east. His bow strung and his axe used as a walking stick, as he knew how much men grew wary if he carried it in any way that wasn't casual, he approached the outskirts of the nordic city as the sun warmed his scales, peaking over the mountains from behind him.

The city was well built with stone, with roofs and architecure much akin to those he saw in Skyrim. It brought back a small melancholy to Dax, as if he felt the cold north was a home away from his humid and hot swampland to the south. Perhaps he would feel comfortable here, answering the summons for his aid in this new guild he had heard tell of.

As he stepped through the entrance, a bored looking man at the ass end of middle age looked up at his clipboard. Dax cleared his throat. "Adventurer's guild?" he asked. The Imperial was about to ask who was entering Bruma when he looked up to see see a savage Argonian, armed to the teeth with skin the color of dried blood. While Dax wasn't oblivious to the man's surprise and trepidation, he played ignorant, because he truly didn't care. As long as the man didn't have a bounty on his head, he didn't need to be feared.

"Adventurer's Guild?" he asked again.

"T-that way, good sir. Have a nice day."
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Bruma, Cyrodiil
20th of First Seed, 4E213

Tsleeixth woke before the first rays of the sun broke through the window of his inn room. It was a habit born of many years of hardship, and the hard work that had taken to live through them; after all, every hour wasted meant less time in the day and time was a precious commodity that Tsleeixth had learned form a young age to appreciate to its full extent. Stifling a yawn, the Argonian made his way to the windows and threw them open fully.

As the cold air of Bruma greeted him, Tsleeixth allowed himself a brief smile. It reminded him, in a way, of Skyrim and, for a brief moment, that thought brought a pang of nostalgia in his chest for the land of the Nords that he had left behind, the land that had been his home for so many years. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he turned his back to the window and headed for his belongings left at the foot of his bed and began to get prepared for the day; first were his clothes and then his armour and, once that was done, he checked to see how his finances were doing, frowning to himself when he realized that they were getting low. "Sithis damnit, I guess that if I tighten my belt a little bet and am more frugal with my meals I could afford another night in this room if this guild thing doesn't pan out..." Tsleeixth muttered to himself as he looked at the meager amount of septims in his coin-pouch.

Slinging his rucksack over his shoulders, he made his way down to the common room of the inn, where he asked for a simple slice of bread and some water to quench his hunger and thirst respectively. As he ate his breakfast, Tsleeixth thought on what would be his next course of action if his application into the new guild was rejected. He supposed that he could try and attempt to join the Fighters Guild or, if that failed, he could try and join either the Synod or the College of Whispers. “Bah, no sense worrying about it now.” The Argonian muttered to himself as he finished his breakfast and stood up from his table, making his way out of the inn. After all, there was no sense in worrying what might come to happen when the present was still unfolding.

“Trust that the currents of the river will lead you safely…” Tsleeixth muttered to himself, repeating a saying that his parents used to tell him while he was growing in Riften. Still, despite the familiar saying that usually brought him comfort, the Argonian’s mood did not improve as he made his way towards the bulletin board where he knew the results had been posted, ruminating on what not being accepted to the guild could mean for him. That is, until a peculiar figure caught his attention, a Saxhleel like him; the colour of his scales that of dried blood, a stark contrast to his own which were of a black colour, who was heading in the same direction that he did.

Brother!” Tsleeixth called, hoping that his Jel wasn’t as rusty as he thought it was. “I wasn’t expecting to see one of our kind here, are you trying to join this new guild as well?” Tsleeixth asked as he approached the other Argonian.

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Sinalare jolted awake from the endless darkness of sleep, the last echoes of her nightmare fading as she sprung from the bed and rushed to the open window. She braced her hands on the windowsill as she shook off the memories - grasping the iron bars on the door - her knuckles turning white. She peered out over the city from the second-floor room. The early-morning chill, fresh air which had already permeated her room overnight was refreshing - pitch darkness, scraping her hands on the stones along the floor - and the dream faded.

The dream faded. She loosened her grip on the windowsill, finally turning away from it. Her things, hardly unpacked despite the fact that she stayed in the room for four nights now, were easy to throw together. Her purse was getting light. If the Adventurer’s Guild didn’t pan out, she would need to look for other work today, soonest. But why wouldn’t it? Surely her name was selected. She didn’t know anyone who would turn down competency.

The inn room wasn’t quite busy yet when she descended the stairs. Sinalare was always an early riser, even back in Valenwood. Her difficulty remaining asleep was only an added factor. She waved at one of the workers on her way by.

“Breakfast, please, and a drink,” she requested, walking past to the table which was closest to the door, even if it was built for six people. She tossed her things down next to her and seated herself, putting the last of her coins on the table for the barmaid.

The drink arrived quickly. Ale, an unfortunate drink she had become accustomed to. She drank it without hesitation but with much reluctance. Sinalare was never a picky eater; it was best to take whatever was available, despite her preferences. When the waitress added eggs and two baked potatoes to the mix, she said nothing, despite her yearning for… ah, fresh venison, she daydreamed. She ignored the taste easily, from practice, and the strange texture; the eggs and potatoes were gone in minutes.

Sinalare glanced up at the barmaid. She wasn’t the same one as had been there the past few days, and she was staring at the bosmer as she nearly inhaled her food. The girl was young and clearly a bit disgusted. Sinalare glared at her; the girl nearly jumped. She pushed her plate away from her and slung her bag over her back, leaving the inn without a backwards glance at her.

If she was remembering correctly - and surely she was - the guild was to the right. She weaved her way through the streets. Bruma was different from her previous travels; the city was certainly colder than Valenwood or Elsweyr, where she’d spent the most time. The strangest thing about Cyrodiil, she thought as she approached the notice board, was how the war was a distant memory; the participants she had once fought had aged and the Imperials who looked her age hadn’t even been born. They didn’t look at her as an enemy, though perhaps they would an Altmer, and she tried to do the same.

As she scanned the list, she shook off the thoughts. There her name was, right near the top, of course. She tried not to admit to herself that it was a relief; she was sick of asking around for one-time jobs everywhere she went. This way, they’d come to her. Smiling, she made her way towards the guild hall.
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Lifts-Many-Boulders was not entirely accustomed to city life. The hustle and bustle of the streets, the concerned glances of Nords and Imperials as he tried to squeeze his way through the thoroughfare and duck his head beneath any arches or doorways, and the civilized nature of it all wasn’t a snug fit for him. The Dresmer deprived him of quite a few things growing up, and it left him feeling like an ignorant baby in a world too quick to label him a savage. Then there was quite the embarrassing feeling of pretending that he knew how to read and looking at the list over and over again as if it was some long, densely packed pamphlet of information rather than a brief notice of who was accepted or not. There was the intermittent person who would come around, read the list, and look either disappointed or grinning from ear to ear. There were two such Nord woman, a khajiit, and one Imperial man seemed to utter something beneath his breath too quiet for his words to cross the vertical distance between the two. A well of frustration was building up in his chest when he suddenly heard the same Imperial name mutter his name. His name.

“Lifts-Many-Boulders,” he chuckled, “I can see why.”

The argonian looked to imperial man, who he stood at least a foot over -- to say nothing of his height, for Boulders stood taller than anyone he had ever met -- but he looked at him with some measure of surprise and awe. He slowly turned and, perhaps when the man was not expecting it, covered his shoulder with his own massive hand, still clammy from the melted snow. He squatted down in order to be at equal head heights, and his reptilian eyes bore into the Imperial’s.

“How do you know my name?” He asked curiously. He assumed that maybe he was some kind of wizard or oracle. Considering most of his interactions were between dark elves and argonians, it seemed like a reasonable guess to him.

Rhillian forced himself to remain still when the giant Argonian placed an equally massive paw on his shoulder. He met Boulders' gaze and saw nothing but genuine curiosity in the beastman's eyes. Relieved, and intrigued by the question, Rhillian cleared his throat and smiled. "Your name is listed there," he explained. "I didn't see anyone else here that looks like they can lift many boulders, so I figured that it must be you. I'm pleased that I was right."

He held out a hand for the Argonian to shake, mildly worried that Boulders was going to crush it unintentionally -- but it would be rude not to offer. "My name is Rhillian of Drakelowe. It looks like we've both been accepted into the guild." He paused and tilted his head. "Forgive me for the question, but I must ask. Can you read?"

Boulders’ reaction was first and foremost one of glee and satisfaction. To think somebody actually wanted him around! The spines on his head were as erect as he was overjoyed, and it took much of his self control to keep himself from squeezing Rhillian into paste. Then he was forced to pause as he looked down at the hand being offered to him; Rhillian’s concerns were correct in that the argonian was in fact worried about crushing the man’s hand, so he gently took Rhillian’s hand between two fingers and waggled it around like some kind of fish, somewhat unfamiliar with the greeting. Of course, he’s seen it done before, but in actual practice and the anxiety of actually meeting people, his observations has gone to the wayside in favor of improvising. At the man’s question, he shook his head. “The Dresmer never taught me.” He said matter-of-factly. “But I liked it when one nice lady read to me. Thank you, Rhill….ian, for reading too.”

Lifts-Many-Boulders popped open one of the pouches hanging from the harness strapped across his chest, and with the claw on one of his fingers, seemed to be fishing for something with laser-like focus before a chunk of fish came out stuck to his claw. It smoked and salted, though it still seemed raw in sections and probably in the center, yet undeniably fresh as the sheen of moisture still clung to the salt and sections of underprepared flesh. The argonian offered it to Rhillian, sticking his finger towards his chest. It was clear he wasn’t much of a talker, and when he did, did so in clipped phrases and preferred to communicate through action and kind gestures.

"You're welcome," Rhillian said. He made a mental note to ask after the nature of these 'Dresmer' later. It was his turn to shake his head when the fish was offered to him. "I can't accept that. Thank you, but people like me, Imperials, shouldn't eat fish until it's been cooked through. We can get sick otherwise." He smiled, though, and ran a hand through his silver-streaked hair. He considered how he must look next to the Argonian and the thought made him chuckle. He wasn't a small man by any means and the bulk of his fur-lined robes, as blue as the summer sky, only added to that. And yet Boulders dwarfed him without even trying.

"I can teach how to read, if you like," the priest offered in turn. "You should learn that if you're going to be a citizen of the Empire. We're going to be spending a lot of time together as it is, so there'll be plenty of opportunity. What do you say?"

Boulders cocked his head to the side curiously as he stuck the fish into his mouth and and replied simply, “Dresmer told me my kind can’t read. You are nice to offer, though.”

Then Rhillian’s mention of them working together reminded him of the fact he was given a job to do, and suddenly the sense of camaraderie began creeping in, and he felt the urge to be celebrating with the small nord woman and her khajiit friend. His head cocked to the other side to eagerly watch the little ones jump in place with excitement and gush to one another over their acceptance. He looked around at all those gathered around the post and realized that this would be his new tribe from this point going forward. Looking back to Rhillian, he added, “We have many new friends, yes?”

The purity of the Argonian was endearing and Rhillian couldn't help but grin and nod in agreement. "Yes, we do." Giving it some thought, and armed with the knowledge that the mysterious Dresmer had lied to Boulders, the Imperial theorised that they might be dark elves. Wasn't there a Great House called Dres? "Say, my friend; these Dresmer you mentioned. They wouldn't happen to have grey skin and red eyes, would they?"

Boulders nodded and gave a low growl that seemed to serve as affirmation. “Yes, dunmers. Many kinds of dunmers too, but the ones that took me are from Dres. So they’re Dresmer. You know them?”

Rhillian paused for a second before he shrugged. “I know of them, but I never visited the plantations when I went to Morrowind,” he said and looked at the Argonian in a new light. A runaway slave, he deduced, which explained the lack of an education. “You should know that the Dresmer lied to you. Argonians…” He paused and racked his brain. “Saxhleel, your people, can read just fine. Like everyone else, you just need to be taught. Your former masters deliberately didn’t because that made you easier to control,” the Imperial said and tapped the side of his head. “Knowledge is power.”

“Knowledge is power?” Lifts-Many-Boulders parroted. “Doesn’t sound right. Dresmer lying? That sounds right.” He felt inclined to believe him, at least more than he did the dark elves; but a brief pondering later, Boulders was scratching at his neck and trying to think in the same way Rhillian did. The Dresmer did believe they were trying to teach Boulders something valuable. They must have if they were so damned determined to keep him at whatever he was doing. They did teach him how to work in a kwama mine, for instance. That must have its uses.

“So…” Boulders began, trying to piece it all together. “You say you can teach me reading. If I don’t read, I’m easy to control. But you’d control me into reading. How then would reading make me free?”

It was a fair question, and a clever one. Rhillian got the distinct impression that there was a keen natural intellect hiding in Boulders' head, buried beneath his ignorance and his past. "When you can't read, you can only learn the things the people around you want to know, or the things you can learn by yourself. But throughout history there have been many people who wrote down what they knew. They're dead now, but their books survive." Rhillian smiled and gestured widely with his arms. "You can learn everything about anything when you can read. All you need is the right book."

The needle-like pupils in his Boulders’ eyes dilated, like two black orbs floating in seafoam, betraying any inclination he might have to keep his desires hidden. The end of his tongue wet the edges of his mouth and the spines on his head were standing erect. Rhillian was dangling in front of him something that may yet be worthwhile; it sounded too good to be true, and whether it be like whatever bait the Dresmer used to lure him into whip’s range or an actual, well-intentioned promise, he felt apprehensive to find out.

“You will read to me later then?” He finally responded.

Rhillian nodded, then jabbed a thumb at the guildhouse and added, “I guess I’ll see you around then. Good luck my friend.”

Friend. Boulders cocked his head curiously. The people here in the heartland was much friendlier than those in places along the way. Morrowind, certainly not friendly; Eastmarch, barely friendlier. Between here and there, they’d rather see him keep on walking. Bruma wasn’t exactly welcoming, but there were diamonds in the rough that made it bearable. Diamonds like Rhillian. He waved farewell at the Imperial as he walked away and looked down at the others who were gathered before the post. There were many small ones he’d have to protect. He wondered if they, too, could be diamonds.
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Lizards of a Scale, Talk a Tale



(Morty & Poo)


Daixanos stalked through the streets of Bruma, smelling freshly cooked food in the air. It was one of the nicer towns in Cyrodiil, he believed. Hardy people and strong stone did well for the welfare of the settlement, and judging by the smell, the food was very good. He didn’t expect to find another Argonian here, but a voice rose up from a corner in the next street and he perked his reptilian head up.

“Brother?” He echoed, and began to speak in a hushed tone. “Yesss, I seek the guild. Will you be inducted in as well?”

“That is the plan, but who knows what will happen.” Tsleeixth said, his previous anxieties easing somewhat at the prospect of having a fellow Saxhleel with whom to talk. “Truth be told, it would be hugely beneficial to me if I was able to join. My pouch is getting a little light now and I could use the septims.” He paused for a second in his ramble when a slightly embarrassing detail dawned on him: he hadn’t even introduced himself to his fellow Argonian.

“Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself.” Tsleeixth said, chuckling softly. “My name is Tsleeixth, brother. And, if you don’t mind me asking, what is it that drives you to join this new guild? We are quite away from our homeland, aren’t we? So, you’ll have to pardon me if I say that I’m more than a little surprised to find one of our kind here.”

Argonians were known for their lack of emotions, and hard to read faces. Daixanos gave credit to such stereotypes, even among his fellow Saxhleel. However, the twitch of his tail and the hiss in his breath betrayed his mild relief of speaking to a Hist-brother. “Actually, this is the closest I have been to home in many years, friend. Perhaps after a few short years here, I will return.”

Dax looked away for a moment. Not out of shyness, but wariness. Even in a civilized town, he watched for potential threats, almost like a beast himself. “I am Daixanos, of Gideon. A Hunter of Beasts, Men, and Mer should the coin be right. I have been in Skyrim for many years, on a quest from the great trees. I shall not speak of it publicly, but if you’re curious we can speak of it later. You don’t know where the guild is, do you brother?”

Tsleeixth nodded at Dax’s words, understanding why he wouldn’t want to talk about such matters in public. “Very well brother, we can speak about it later away from prying ears.” He said before chuckling sheepishly at his fellow Saxhleel’s question about if he knew where the guild was. “Ah, I do. You see, I was surprised to see a fellow Saxhleel which is why I called. One does not tend to run into many of our kind outside of our homeland after all.” Tsleeixth admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. “Why do you ask brother, do you not know the direction?”

Briefly, Daixanos wondered why Tsleeixth was here to begin with. He had no true suspicion, but it was indeed odd that a fellow Argonian was here. He decided he would ask later, if Tslee didn’t divulge naturally. “I have never been here before, so yesss.” He replied. He felt if he began to look around, the landstriders would get a bit suspicious themselves. “I have only heard whispers of the guild in general. Let us go in so I may ply my trade.”
“Very well. It’s not too far off so we should be there shortly brother.” Tsleeixth said, resuming his walk towards the guild. “It’s a good thing that this guild was recruiting, I was running out of septims and needed a job. Hopefully we’ll both get hired, eh? Shouldn’t be too hard, after all one would think that a recently established guild would be all too eager for new recruits.” He said, letting silence fall for a few moments before he spoke again. “If you do not mind me asking brother, what drove you to seek the guild? Pardon me if I’m prying too much but, well, I’m curious.”

Dax didn’t react as they walked, answering simply. “I only know why I am in Cyrodiil, brother.”They turned a corner, Tsleeixth slightly leading to show him the way. He wondered if Tslee was always this curious or introspective. “I didn’t seek the guild for any reason other than the pay I might receive. It has good benefits, does it not?”

“Yes, it does. I must admit that I sought the guild for similar reasons, albeit I also searched for something a bit more stable than mercenary work. Well, more stable in the sense that there’d always be a place to return to after work if that makes sense.” The spellsword mused before chuckling softly. “Ah, but I digress, I apologize.” He said to Daixanos as they took one last corner, the guild’s building coming into view for the two Argonians.

A small group was already visible, which elicited a small laugh from Tsleeixth. “Well, it seems we won’t be lacking for company, will we brother?” He said, turning to look at Dax before motioning at the bulletin board. “Well, let’s go and see if we made it.”


“Hist willing,” said Dax.
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Helpfully written on the job offer in (mostly) legible writing was an address, as if there were some sort of internal debate of whether or not to post it and this was the unfortunate compromise. Fortunately for La’Shuni, her new friend Megana seemed none-too-concerned about finding the guildhall and the two set off together, excited for the new adventures to come. The echatere scuttled along just behind them.

“La’Shuni thinks your cloak is very pretty, miss Megana!” the Khajiit said, beaming an inviting smile as she looked over at the Nord. “Did you come down from Skyrim, too?” she asked.

"Ahh, thankies!" Meg retuned the smile with one of her own, clearly pleased with finding someone friendly and open right off the bat. There was a spring in her step even though she was walking- it was quite similar to the walk of happy dog. "It's just somethin' I picked up 'fore leavin' Whiterun, needed somethin' t'keep me warm at night, y'know? I really liked the green colour too."

She then let out a small chuckle. "Y'don' havta call me 'miss', just Meg is good 'nough!" She looked to the Khajiit, properly taking in her suit once more. She was a pretty sort with her white hair, black spots, amber eyes and long white hair, but it was easy to tell from the garb she wore, and most certainly that interesting mount that was following her, that the Khajiit named La'Shuni had seen quite a lot of outdoors as well.

"You've been t'Skyrim eh? That' m'home! I've been 'round most of it, but lived in Riften an' Whiterun the most. Guessin' you musta been there yerself?" She paused to jerk her head in the direction of the creature behind them, intrigue shining in her eyes. "Where'd ya get that one? Ain' seen any beastie like that in my travels."

“Meg it is, then!” La’Shuni agreed with a polite smile, turning back to look at Scooter, who tilted his large head quizzically at his master. “Oh, Scooter comes from New Orsinium, far West in Skyrim. This one imagines the Orsimer brought many echateres with them when they relocated from Wrothgar after the past three times they had tried to establish their kingdom, but this time feels different? This one hopes.” The Khajiit shrugged, adjusting the pack on her back. “La’Shuni has spent a few years living and working there, her uncle had business and family ties there, and La’Shuni felt it would be a good experience to see something different in her life. It has been a truly wonderful experience, and it’s why she is here now; adventures and lending her spear to people who aim to do good things… Scooter just likes to go for walks.” she said with a giggle, prompting the echatere to snort back.

Ah, from far West Skyrim. That was one of the few places in her home country that Meg had decided to leave alone while venturing about by herself- She didn't want to be one of the Reachmen's victims. "Scooter?" She grinned at the name, looking at the large echatere over once more before returning her attention to La'Shuni, nodding along. She could certainly understand the zeal to travel and attempt to make a difference in the world.

"Aye," she agreed after a moment. "My Pa stays in Whiterun, used t'live there too 'til like a year ago. Wanted t'see more of the world, y'know? Go 'round an' help people like my Ma used to! She was part of the Companions!" There was a proud look on her face. "I figured if I wanna be like her, I need t'have people who got my back, an me them." She chuckled, slightly embarrassed, and decided to change the subject.

"Guessin' yer from the South before headin' t'New Orsinium though, righ'? How long 'fore y'got used t'the cold? I met Khajiit back in Riften who'd always remember the warm weather from Elsweyr."

“Leyawiin, actually. It feels strange to be this far North, far from home, but still in the same province, the same Empire.” La’Shuni remarked, taking in the Imperial and Nord infused architectural stylings of the city. “La’Shuni has not written home for a few months, she wanted to have something to share with her parents that was worthwhile, but the words fail her. Perhaps her fortunes have changed, yes?” she said with a self-assured smile. “Do not worry about trying to live up to your mother’s legacy, Megana; La’Shuni feels like she would be proud of you for simply starting on the path. All great journeys begin with a single step, and in this case, wherever this address is…”

“I hope so!” Meg replied with a nod. She didn’t doubt the Khajiit’s words- her Ma had after continued travelling and adventuring even after she was born. “This is my great journey I think. Ain’ ever been in Cyrodiil ‘fore now, never even knew ‘bout a place called Leyawiin…” An embarrassed laugh pushed past her lips, and she peeked at the Khajiit woman, hoping her new guild companion wasn’t offended that she had no clue about the city La’Shuni was from. “Uh, maybe we could ask someone where it migh’ be?” She attempted to look at the piece of paper, happy to grasp at a subject that didn’t have to do with her lack of geographical knowledge

La’Shuni’s eyes twinkled with a friendly recognition, knowing that she could help her new friend with. “La’Shuni has a few maps, and there will certainly be more where we are going! This one would be honoured to show you how wide our world is.” she said confidently before glancing back at the chicken scratch that passed for an address, her long lips raising slightly as she let out a long breath. “But first, let’s find out how large this city is. A shopkeeper would know, certainly. La’Shuni did not have time for breakfast before discovering Scooter had run off. Let us find something to eat first, yes?”

---

The guildhouse was what would lovingly be called a fixer-upper in the old part of the city, among a copse of quiet or abandoned houses and structures in various states of repair. Despite the remaining residents’ efforts to keep nature at bay, it struck La’Shuni as a losing battle as grasses were a bit too long, weeds running rampant, and vines and lichens reclaiming many of these structures’ wooden walls, as if the earth itself were preparing to pull them beneath the dirt. The Adventurers Guild hall, thankfully, looked more charming than condemned and both women approached the door to knock at what would be their new home away from home.




It was the sound of a loud knock that roused Dro’Sintaba from his rest. As each one thudded out down the empty hallway, he wondered at first why Ivy hadn’t answered it. With a grumble he pinched the bridge of his nose with a huge hand, his claws scratching either side as he dragged his large form from lying to sitting. The bed groaned as he released the frame from his weight. Bare feet touched the floor as the naked Cathay-raht stalked the length of the room to find his robe, coughing into his hand as his lungs adjusted to the morning air that filtered through the gaping window.

As the knocking continued, the cat roared out in a rasping voice; “I’m coming!” muttering a curse to his Dunmer colleague afterwards.

Eventually he made his way to the door and opened it. His plush velvet robe open at the chest but covering his modesty none-the-less. In the doorway his eyes travelled down to spot two young women, a khajiit, and a nord. Immediately, and in a flustered manner he pulled the robe even tighter around himself. They were his recruits. La’Shuni and Megana if he wasn’t mistaken.

“Ahh, ladies, good morning..” he growled out, embarrassed, still sensing the tickle in his throat. He glanced over his shoulder and yelled down the hallway - he could now hear the tricky Dunmer in the kitchen. Pots and pans banging and clattering. “Ivy!” he called out in the general direction.

After there had been no answer, he once again called out; “Ivy!”. For a moment the pottering stopped.

A soft and feminine voice called back, “Sinty? What is it?”

He sighed, his shoulders drooped and he opened to door further. “Recruits are here,” he called back - and then the sound of a whole pot hitting the floor was heard - followed by an excited “oooh!”. Dro’Sintaba rolled his eyes and took a step back, looking back upon the two women in the doorway. “Please, enter.”

"Ah... g'day!" Meg blinked up at the Khajiit, a little stunned. Never before had she ever seen a Khajiit man that tall. Having lived amongst Nords all her life as well as chatting with the occasional Argonian or sneaking away from the rare troupe of Altmer she would see, Meg had most definitely seen tall and generally large people. However, it seemed to her that the dark furred Khajiit took the cake. She cast a glance at the Khajiit standing next to her, and then back at the one who'd opened the door as if to compare, and found both as opposite the other as were their furs, like day and night.

"Uhm, I'm Meg," she continued before quickly stepping in, realizing she was probably being incredibly rude. "Megana really, bu' I like Meg better. Y'can call me wha'ever y'like though, tha's all good!" She bit down on her lip to keep more blathering on so that the Khajiit she'd become acquainted with earlier would have a chance to introduce herself. In the meanwhile, her nose worked- a nice smell was wafting through the air, agitating her stomach just a little.

After spending a considerable amount of time with Orsimer, La’Shuni had considered herself pretty accustomed to brash and socially awkward situations. She did not, however, expect to be greeted by her new employer being only just covered up by what had to have been the most oversized robe local suppliers had in stock. She put a balled fist up to her sternum and bowed slightly, both as a gesture of deference and respect, but also to free herself of the creeping heat that was building at the nape of her neck.

“This one is La’Shuni. She apologizes for arriving at an inconvenient time. Please do not trouble yourself with us; we will wait here until you are ready to receive us.” she said, trying to sound reassured and confident, but her voice edging on a quiet meekness.

Dro’Sintaba sighed again, at himself this time. “No, no. It appears I’ve overslept… Meg… La’Shuni” he said, noting their names back to them. “It happens when… Well, when one gets older... And, other things.“ His ears flicked back and he tried to smile, it was more a grimace.

Fortunately for him, his colleague was on her way. In spite of the awkwardness, he felt that had it been anyone else at the door he might not have felt such a mixture of embarrassment and ease at the same time. They were the two younger recruits that he and Ivy had discussed quite a lot. The Nord being a girl he had wanted to choose for his squire. He wished he could have made a better first impression.

“Ah! Why you two must be Megana and La’Shuni!” Ivy trilled out from the end of the corridor, before setting her eyes over Dro’Sintaba. “And you should go get dressed for breakfast, Dro’Sintaba…” she said - knowing by his flustered stance that he had not yet introduced himself. The Dunmer motioned with her hand to the two newcomers to join her.

Unlike the guild leader, Ivy had at least gotten herself ready for the day. A long and floating dress in a marigold yellow, held up at the waist by a leather corset belt. “Come, come! I’ve prepared eggs, bread, cheese, juice! You girls must be hungry!” she giggled, moving up and down on the balls of her feet with excitement.

"Hello!" Meg greeted, looking away from the large Khajiit to the Dunmer instead. She was immediately in awe of the woman's vibrant, fiery hair, only tearing her eyes away to look her head on at the mention of food. "I'm Meg, an' yes, I guess I am purty hungry..." Was it terribly impolite to say it so blatantly? Meg wasn't too sure but she figured it'd be worse if she declined the offer. Already things seemed to be going in a positive direction- three new friendly people in the span of a short while! Deciding to wait no longer, she gravitated towards the dunmer, though paused in hindsight to look over at her new friend, not wishing to leave the Khajiit behind.

Admittedly, the humble breakfast La’Shuni and Megana had shared after their meeting hadn’t been overly filling, and the Khajiit’s stomach rumbled somewhat at the thought of it. “This one is humbled by your generosity.” she said to the Dunmer, finding her enthusiasm and cheer warming, like a flower garden. Ivy, she presumed from the recruitment paper, didn’t strike La’Shuni as a particularly guild leading sort of woman, but she knew better than most not to judge one from appearances. Few would have pegged La’Shuni for having been a scout for Orsimer clans the past few years.

The dining area was open and inviting, and it appeared Ivy had been preparing for their arrival, along with the rest of the recruits. La’Shuni found a quiet corner to set her belongings down and stood near the table, hands folded neatly before her. Manners still counted for something, and she didn’t wish to presume anything with her new employer. “This is a beautiful guildhall. Are we the first to arrive?” she asked.

“Oh! I’m glad you like it,” Ivy said with a smile - resuming her spot by the stove to collect up platefuls of food for the new arrivals. “Dro’Sintaba and I have spent quite some time trying to make it as nice as possible… It was, really something when we got here,” she said with a breathy chuckle.

“Yes, you’re both the first to get here…” the Dunmer answered. “I hope everyone else has looked at the note,” she continued, her tone had a little trickle of worry in it too, before she snapped out of it with a clatter of a spoon on a pot. “They will be! I’m sure, just means that us girls get to spend some time together… And get the best breakfast bits,” she giggled.

“Did you both only just meet?” Ivy asked curiously, looking at the both with a glint in her eye that suggested there was more than just small talk in her question. Ivy found it more than a coincidence that the two young women in question had found each other so quickly.

“Mhm!” Meg replied, nodding her head. “Uh, not like now now, bu’ like we both saw the postin’ on the board there. There were plen’y other folks lookin’ at it too, nearly smashed m’face into a huge Argonian!” Her hand rubbed at her nose, which remained quite straight and unbroken despite years of actually hitting face first against things. “Didja know-” she paused to jerk a thumb at La’Shuni “-she has a beastie as a friend. A… er… echa somethin’...”

Her forehead creased and nose crinkled in thought before relaxing. “Sorry! Forgo’ wha’ they’re called..” She gave La’Shuni an apologetic smile.

“Echatere.” La’Shuni offered with a polite smile of her own towards Megana. She turned her gaze to Ivy. “Do not worry, miss Ivy! It is as Meg has said, there were plenty of others who saw the posting, and this one thinks many matched the names on it?” she trailed off in recollection, trying to put faces to the names. She had been too focused and happy about her own success she didn’t take in the others. “Meg and La’Shuni had met after we had found our own acceptance letters.” she bowed her head politely.

A grunting sound came from outside of the window, where Scooter was peering in, his front legs pressing up against the wall to elevate himself to reach the sil. La’Shuni hurried over to prop open the window, lest the points on the legs break glass. “No, we talked about this!”

"Looks like he wants t'join in on the fun," Meg commented, trying not to let on how amused she was, "or maybe the food's makin' him hungry too."

"Well look at this beautiful creature!" Ivy cooed, immediately opening the window so that her hand could meet the soft snout of the creature. "You are just so beautiful!" She repeated as she gently and affectionately coddled Scooter, she half wanted to climb out and embrace him. There was no fear of the Echatere.

"What can he eat?" She asked, her head suddenly jerking back to look at La'Shuni, her eyes sparkling with joy. "I love him!" she admitted, her fingers finding the underside of his chin to scratch.

Scooter snortled contentedly, lifting his large head to allow for the Dark Elf’s fingers to work through his fur. La’Shuni couldn’t help but giggle at the warm reception of her companion. “Oh, he’s mostly a scavenger, he likes root vegetables and grubs the most, he likes flowers and leaves and berries, and occasionally small rodents. Scooter is great at looking after himself and finding food, but he doesn’t exactly have the best judgement for what’s appropriate.” The Khajiit noted. “He considers me a part of his herd, so he doesn’t like being too far away from me, and as Meg observed, he certainly smelled something appealing in here.”

“Oh…” Ivy hummed our in realisation. “I hope he doesn’t sneak into my herb garden… Those are guild supplies!” She said, only momentarily placing her hand over her mouth. Her deep scarlet eyes immediately moved back to Scooter and she sighed contentedly. “But if that’s what precious wants to eat, how can I refuse?”

The peaceful moment didn’t last, thumping feet vibrates over the wooden floors. The unmistakable heavy gait of the mysterious guild leader - now dressed infinitely more appropriately, but his jaw fell open at the sight in the window. Dro’Sintaba remained like this for some time, slack-jawed in awe at the site — until he merely sighed in resignation and padded more softly towards the food, mumbling under his breath as he went; “already overrun… typical,” his growling huffs were barely audible, but were certainly not malicious. There was no anger in his piercing green gaze, just a surprising warmth.

The Khajiit yawned, working his jaw before digging in to a bowl he’d made up of eggs and bread. “No one else yet then?” He asked, glancing sidelong at the window again. At his provisioner and colleague as she fondled and baby-talked the creature in the window. After she didn’t answer, he turned his attention to the two younger women, and in a tone that was only awkwardly amicable, he asked, “so… How do you like the guild house?” Clearly, the Khajiit had a long way to go with making idle conversation.

"I think it looks great," Meg replied enthusiastically, still in awe of the very large khajiit but not so much that the cat would get her tongue. She hadn't seen much yet, true, but the sights and scents so far seemed very comfortable and homelike, her first encounter with a guildmate had gone swimmingly, and Ivy seemed so kind and friendly and clearly knew how to make good food. "I know I'mma like it here, an' I'mma make sure t'do m'best for the guild!" She slapped a fist against her heart, perhaps a little too earnestly as she faltered a step backward.

Unlike Megana, La’Shuni was more than familiar with her kinfolk and their often wildly different shapes and sizes. For her, it wasn’t all that dissimilar to one having a different coat of fur or shade of eyes; Dro’Sintaba was a familiar soul in a form that was comforting after so long away from home.

“It is a beautiful home! Not quite what La’Shuni would have expected for an adventuring guild, but this one is more than accustomed to the concept that looks can be very deceiving.” the young Khajiit said with a polite smile. She bowed her head. “Thank you for accepting us into our home, and this one will make sure that Scooter puts in his fair share of work, too. He does more than eat, La’Shuni promises.”

“Not my problem what he eats, or doesn’t. Speak to Ivy about that, she volunteered to take charge of that, didn’t you Ivy?” Dro’Sintaba commented, his tone of voice becoming more smug as he went on, the grin on his face more so.

The Dunmer huffed out and scowled at the guild leader. “Well I wouldn’t trust you to do it. Lest we live off nothing but ale and rabbit for the rest of our days…” she said, chuckling as she did so. “But! Ah! Where are my manners?” She cooed, dragging herself away from Scooter to clasp her hands together with a smile. “Allow me to escort you to your rooms, and then afterwards our illustrious leader will talk to you about our jobs list — because he volunteered to sit in his office and be in charge of paperwork… Isn’t that right Sinty?”

He rumbled out a lazy growl in response, muttering something incomprehensible under his low breath, before tucking back in to his meal, enjoying what little silence still hung in the air of his guild house.

Things were about to change.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Stormflyx
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Stormflyx S U P E R L O V E

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21st First Seed,
Evening





“Well now, you’re something of a magnificent creature, aren’t you?” The woman in red asked, sat straight backed and imposing in her chair, opposite the Cathay-rant who was slouched in his own, hunched over the desk, his nostrils wide as he exhaled slowly. Her compliment came off as far more of a threat to him than anything else, but he remained stoic in his place.

She sighed, letting a breathy chuckle trail from the end of it as she crossed one leg over the other. Her eyes were green too, and as intense as Dro’Sintaba’s. “Allow me to introduce myself,” she said, reaching out her hand to him, “my name is Viatrix Leotelli, I am the Commander of the City Guard,” she said with a smile. Again, it was not friendly.

The Khajiit reluctantly shook it with his own, even if she possessed an incredibly large presence, in sheer size he dwarfed the Imperial. “Dro’Sintaba,” he replied frankly.

That made her smile again, the skin around her eyes was cut through with wrinkles, and there was a scar down the left side of her face from her forehead to her neck that was visible when she tilted her head enough so that her raven coloured hair moved to reveal it.

“Why the need to visit?” Sintaba asked, narrowing his eyes as he leaned back into his chair.

“I wanted to introduce myself to the new owner of this Adventurer’s Guild, of course,” Viatrix answered in a sour-sweet tone. “There’s talk all over town of your deeds already. Rescuing a child’s ball from a hole — helping a farmer find an onion thief, a mystery of a missing lover. Impressive.”

Dro’Sintaba sighed again, and watched as a trail of dust sprinkled from the ceiling to the centre of his desk. His eyes tracked it upwards to a slit in the attics floorboards that was just big enough for someone to peep through. That someone was gone now and had made herself scarce… For all of Viatrix’s talk, she was not observant enough to have spotted it, thankfully.

“They’re new. I set them to small tasks, to learn about this city, and to become comfortable with each other,” he rumbled out, placing a relaxed hand on the desk.

“Mmm,” Viatrix hummed, nodding in agreement. “Not a terrible idea.

You’re a clever fellow, you must know why I’m really here.” She said, cutting through the small talk to land herself at the end of the page she wanted to be on with the khajiit.

“You’re keeping an eye on us. Making sure we don’t cause trouble,” Dro’Sintaba answered, watching her with a powerful gaze.

“Exactly,” she said, clapping her hands together. “We encourage good behaviour, protection of the town and of Cyrodiil at large, we want peace and the rule of law to prevail. If your guild proves to be problematic, and if your guild goes down a path of falling from grace we will have to intervene...”

“Seems drastic to warn me of this,” Dro’Sintaba huffed defensively. “Like you said, we’re retrieving balls and helping the elderly with menial tasks… Hardly starting an underground uprising,” he continued. “It’s day one of my business and the City Guard is at my front door…”

“Well, let’s just say that we know a thing or two about you,” Viatrix replied quickly, casting a glare across the desk. “You may be hiding behind this desk, and behind a clearly more charming woman, but we know about you, Dro’Sintaba… I know about you.”

He wasn’t expecting that, if he had been a man that was easier to shake he might have flinched in his seat, instead he maintained his composure and made sure not to be the one to break the eye contact. His nostrils flared again, and the previously relaxed hand tensed, but she didn’t notice. Who was this woman? And what had he done to her? He did not recognise her face, nor her name… But he was shaken by her now.

“Whatever you claim to know, whatever you think I am… That is years behind me Commander,” Dro’Sintaba said, trying to soften the woman, to give her any kind of reassurance.

She then broke eye contact with him, glancing sidelong out of the window at the light rain that was landing against the glass, nodding before she rose from her seat. “Well I shall hope that those years don’t catch up with you,” Viatrix said. “Just know that we are watching you, and should your guild cause any trouble…” The Imperial did not have to finish her sentence.




“Well at least she thinks I’m charming,” Ivy commented, appearing behind the Khajiit after he had closed the door on her.

“So you were listening, then?” Dro’Sintaba asked with a light chuckle, feeling the tension leave his body now that Viatrix had made her exit.

The slender Dunmer joined him at his side with a hand on her hip. “Not intentionally, I was simply lying on the floor and happened to hear it…” she answered, the mischief in her eyes betraying her choice of words. “See I really do think that we might also benefit from keeping an eye or two of our own on her too… Don’t you think?” She asked, her deep red eyes suddenly serious, even if she still wore a smirk.

“I do,” Dro’Sintaba replied. He did wonder what his companion made of Viatrix’s confession, and what Ivy might have been thinking up to fill in the gaps of her knowledge. There was a part of him that was regretful as he looked down at her. If she was suspicious of him, she didn’t show it at all.

Meanwhile, Ivy certainly sensed that the Khajiit was busy building a wall — she wasn’t concerned with what he was trying to hide, she didn’t see the past or fear it as he did, she only knew his present and his future and that was enough to keep her tied to his side. “Come on, the welcome feast is almost ready — I expect our employees are hungry now that they’re unpacked and settled, we should join them.” As she suggested it, she placed a comforting hand on his back, rubbing him gently, she could practically feel how Viatrix’s threatening words had settled in the Khajiit.

He thought about it for a moment, and turned to look back down the hallway. “Hmmm,” he pondered aloud. “I think I’ll stay in my room, actually,” he sighed heavily. “Headache,” he added before frowning.

“Well, alright then. How about I bring you a plate of food later though?” She asked, her free hand finding his forearm to give their introverted leader a squeeze. “I’ve got chicken and potatoes,” she teased, leaning into his huge form as if to let some of her own joy spill into him.

“That would be delightful,” he replied, forcing a smile onto his face, even if the rest of him seemed to sink. There was much to think about now.

“You have fun,” he said, placing his own huge hand onto her dainty and boney shoulder. “Just don’t go getting them all drunk, yes?”

“Ohhh Sinty. I can’t promise a thing like that now can I?” She smirked before relinquishing her hold on him to make her way to the guildhall, there was a sway in the way that she moved that Dro’Sintaba simply watched and admired before he skulked quietly away to his own rest.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Peik
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Peik Peik

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“I really should’ve gotten a pet, in retrospect. A retriever, maybe. Wouldn’t have to bother with all this... You see it?”

“I saw it, alright. Think it fell over there… See that? On the bush? It’s blood.”

“Hm. Yeah, I’ll go and grab it. You have another sack?”

“Just give me a second...”

While Ioannis’ reluctant hunting partner Polonius fumbled with the knot of sacks hanging off his bandolier, Ioannis himself crouched into the bush, reaching at the roots with his hand to find and grasp their dying quarry. After a few seconds of touching thorny branches, Ioannis’ hand finally made contact with the textured toes of the bird he’d shot – another pheasant. This hunt was shaping up to be a bountiful, if not repetitive one. He pulled the bird from underneath the bush, unsheathed his sword just enough to reveal its cutting edge, then cut the pheasant’s neck open on it. The animal bled out within seconds.

“The sack.”

“There, there,” Polonius said, holding out the sack towards the kneeling Ioannis. “We’re lucky, you know. Neither of us has a trousse. If we’d found any big game, we would’ve had to drag it all the way back to town.”

“I’d watch my tongue if I were you. Speak of the devil, and in he walks. Wouldn’t want to deal with anything of the sort at this point.”

“With all your talk of science, I wouldn’t have expected you to be a superstitious one, Ioannis.”

“I’m not superstitious. I just think that the world has a dark sense of humor.”

“Always the poet, aren’t you,” Polonius said, shrugging. Ioannis, having finished stuffing the pheasant into the sack, tied its mouth shut and offered it back to his aide.

“Here, be of some use,” Ioannis snarked.

“I thought you were carrying them?” Polonius retorted, unexpectedly agitated. The premise of having to carry more than what he was already carrying was one that he had not expected, it seemed.

“I’m already carrying five of them, you dimwit. For Mara’s sake, just take the damn thing.”

“Fine, fine.” Polonius snatched the sack from Ioannis’ hands. “And I’m not a dimwit, you know. I’ve spotted all this game for you-“

Loud rustles shut them both up. Something was making its way through the woods. Something large.

ROOOONK

The rustling got louder. They could hear cracking sounds – from branches caving in underneath their new guest’s legs, no doubt – from the way it sounded, it was coming towards them.

“Ah, Mara have mercy! The spear! Ready your spear!”

Dropping the sack, Polonius braced his spear forward just in time for its tip to pierce into the chest of the charging assailant. This did not stop it, however, and the beast – a large boar, frothing at the mouth – simply pushed itself further into the spear, knocking a screaming Polonius down on his rear. Ioannis drew his sword and struck at the beast’s face, but the frenzied boar simply whacked Ioannis’ hand away with its tusks to deflect the strike and cried again, this time equally in anger and in pain.

RRRROOOOOONNNNNNNNK

“Do something! DO SOMETHING!” Polonius roared, his hands barely keeping the shaft of the spear stable. Despite the lugs on the spearhead made specifically for the purpose of keeping a boar moving in further and goring the wielder, either its flared tip had made a wound too wide for this to apply, or this boar was simply too angry to care.

Ioannis first looked for his sword, but then, deciding it to be useless against this monster, grabbed onto his air bow. Unlatching the tube open with a pull of the forwardmost trigger, his sweaty hands then proceeded to fumble open the satchel of shot on his belt. Grabbing a handful of shot, he dropped some, but then again, he only needed one for this – he likely wouldn’t get another shot anyway. Stuffing the lead ball down the breech of the tube, Ioannis snapped it back shut, and began furiously cranking the spanner backwards to fill the weapon’s mechanism with enough air. The moment the weapon reached maximum pressure, he rushed forward, pressed the muzzle of the bow’s tube right behind the boar’s eye, and pulled the trigger.

The weapon went off with a silent crack, and with it, the boar went silent, leaving only a hyperventilating Polonius as a source of sound in the midst of the clearing.

“…Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”




The two hunters who were making their way through the city walls seemed to be exhausted, but also proud – in fact, one even could notice a smug sense of superiority on the one who wasn’t pulling the ramshackle sled with a dead boar on it. Then again, despite all the load he was bearing, the one bearing a spear seemed no less happy.

They came to a stop in the midst of the town square, looking at each other. “So, what’ll you do now?” Polonius asked.

“I’ve heard that there’s an ‘Adventurer’s Guild’ or something that’s been recently set up nearby,” Ioannis replied, stretching his arms. “I’m running short on money, and I know I’m not going to find hunting partners every other time. No need to risk finding my own work and running alone in the woods when I can just hole up amongst those boys… So, you agreeing to my offer or what?”

Polonius puffed.

“Oh, fine. Have the damn boar. Not like I want to spend any more time with it anyway,” he said, dropping the piece of rope that he’d been dragging. Ioannis would’ve objected but felt that he would be pushing his luck a bit too far. “I’ll be off from here, then. You take care of yourself, and, uh, thanks for the help out there.”

“Likewise, Polonius. Likewise.”

The spear wielding hunter took off, a bundle of sacked pheasants in hand, and after watching him walk away, Ioannis began pulling at the big haul, intently walking towards his – hopefully – new place of employment.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Hank
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Hank Dionysian Mystery

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featuring the lovely @Stormflyx and @Spoopy Scary

At the outskirts of Bruma, in a secluded spot of the forest that was shaded by a thick canopy of trees, a young boy stood. He remained stood upright until he stooped down to his haunches - a mop of ginger hair flopped over his forehead and obscured is pale complexion, the redness of his cheeks and the delightful smattering of orange freckles. Sun kisses was how the boy’s Nordic mother described them.

Young Boril leant over across the moss covered stones, sticking his head over the edge of a very deep hole - so deep that he couldn't even see the bottom.

It had taken him the best part of the evening trying to get his father to assist him in writing a note for the town board. Even more persuading to get his father to agree to a paltry sum for the job.

“Ball?” He called down, only answered by the echo of his own voice. “Ball?” He cried again, pouting a fat lip and pressing down upon it with his bucked teeth.

Young Boril hoped that someone would be along soon.

Cast in shadow by the much larger shape of Lifts-Many-Boulders beside him, Rhillian of Drakelowe emerged from the forest and approached the boy with a warm smile and soft eyes. The boy’s notice had been endearing in its innocence and Rhillian remembered well how forlorn one could feel as a child when seperated from a beloved toy. There had been more pressing matters to attend to, bandits and rats and all sorts of trouble, but Rhillian didn’t think of himself as a warrior first -- he was a guardian, and none needed guarding more than children.

“Hello,” he began and sank low on his haunches until his eyes were level with the freckled boy’s mournful gaze. “My name is Rhillian. This large fellow is my friend, Lifts-Many-Boulders. He’s very strong. You must be Boril, right? We saw the notice about your missing ball and we’ve come to help.”

The argonian grunted and nodded in acknowledgement of the boy’s presence and mimicked Rhillian’s gesture of squatting beside the hole. He grabbed a fistful of dirt and rocks and dropped it into the hole and listened to the sound in order to gauge how deep it was. The dunmer showed him how to do that in the kwama mines. The clattering below definitely sounded like it was too deep for the child to safely climb down — to say nothing of the darkness.

After Rhillian finished speaking, Boulders followed simply, “We’ll find it for you.”

Boril was immediately startled by the sheer size of the Argonian in front of him, but as children seem to do, he quickly giggled in excitement - sensing no ounce of danger from the giant. "Wow sir, you not gonna fit in the hole!" He said, awe in his voice before he glanced to the other man. "Mmm," he mumbled, sticking out a lip. "I was playing here and it fell in… It's my favourite ball. It fell all the way to the bottom! But I can'ts climb down. Mummy said I can'ts go in the hole myselfs…"

Suddenly the boy straightened himself up, placing his hands on his hips; "if I was big as you I could do anything!"

“I have no doubts about that,” Rhillian said and ruffled Boril’s hair with a chuckle. He rose to his feet and stared down the hole as well before looking up at Lifts-Many-Boulders. “You know, he might be right,” the Imperial mused. “You really might not fit down there. Shall I go first?”

Boulder’s low grunt as he nodded was enough approval for Rhillian to continue. It was probably best for the smaller one to go in and see if there was enough room than for him to go first and find that it was only as deep as his waist -- good luck maneuvering around like that. It was times like these when in Morrowind, when he wouldn’t have someone helping him, he’d just find a log or sturdy branch and pry some of the boulders loose to make enough room for himself. Hopefully this one turned out to be small.

It took a few seconds for Rhillian to parse that the Argonian’s low growl was his assent. The lizardfolk had their own ways of communicating, and they were not always readily apparent to smoothskins like him. The Imperial nodded once he had understood and he shot one last glance at Boril. “We’ll be back before you know it,” he reassured him and then lowered himself into the hole, disappearing from sight as he descended.




The cave, at first glance, was just a cave.

A body of water pooled in the centre that anyone climbing down would soon find themselves knee deep in. There was just enough light from the mouth that spilled through and lit it up. It was small in size, and tendrils of moss were growing from all of the books and crannies between the rocks.

And there it was, burst and deflated, propped up against a boulder and floating on the surface…

A child’s favourite and beloved ball.

Rhillian sighed. “We’re too late,” he said. He turned his head to look over his shoulder, at Boulders behind him, who had just dropped like an anchor into the pool. Knee deep for Rhillian was more like a puddle to the argonian -- the entranced glare of whom alerted him to something in the water. A shine caught Rhillian’s eye, and he stopped the movement halfway, only to reverse slowly, eyes fixed on… what, exactly? Below the surface of the water, something glittered. A piece of metal, perhaps? That would explain how the ball was punctured and deflated. But how could an inflated ball fall into the knee-deep layer of water with enough force to puncture itself against something under the surface?

“What is that?” he asked quietly but remained where he was, his instincts telling him to wait for something to happen -- or not. Lifts-Many-Boulders waded forth towards the curios. He was unfamiliar and ignorant with most creatures outside of Black Marsh and Morrowind, but was confident enough in his ability to handle such creatures just short of a rabid wamasu. Rhillian considered warning the Argonian to be careful, but the way the hulking giant seemed to fill the cavern entirely with his shape made the words die in his throat. What could possibly hurt him? The argonian stepped forward, spines on his head bristling with anticipation, he reached his hand into the water to grab the mysterious object.

What he procured was an old, rusty dagger of simple make. The leather that was once wrapped around the handle had long since rotted off its waterlogged wooden handle. The slightest pressure squeezed it into a pasty, pliable mulch. While the argonian was notably hard to read, when he turned to look at Rhillian after the anti-climatic discovery for his input, there was an unmistakable sense of disappointment as his spines drooped down.

Rhillian, on the other hand, was far more alarmed as a sense of danger began to creep through the dank cavern. He knew that dagger had no reason being down here and deposited where it was -- and while he normally wouldn’t question the argonian’s instincts, this was where experience in the heart of Tamriel mattered.

“Boulders,” Rhillian said, slowly and steadily reaching his hand out, “you should back away from--”

A sudden splash and nasally snarl erupted from a watering hole beside Rhillian as two green, long-fingered hands grabbed him by surprise and a goblin attempted to pull him under.

“Shit!” the priest exclaimed, hands scrambling to pull his claymore free from its sheath, but the surprisingly powerful arms of the goblin had a vice-like grip on his torso. It wouldn’t be long before the vile creature would succeed in dragging him beneath the surface, and then it wouldn’t be long before he would be dead. “Help!” he implored, gritting his teeth as he resisted the goblin’s pull with all his might, trying to brace his feet against the slippery rock beneath the water.

The ordinarily lumbering argonian leaped forward with surprising swiftness, his powerful legs propelling him forward as his clawed hand came crashing down over the goblins head. With his sure grip, he raised the goblin out of the water, it’s skinny legs kicking and flailing in defiance of its capture. It raked its brittle claws over Boulders’ armored scales to no avail, who looked curiously at Rhillian as he caught his breath.

“What is it?” Boulders asked.

“Goblin.” Rhillian panted, then grimaced in disgust at the unsightly creature. “A savage and unintelligent monster.”

“Hm.” Boulders grunted in intrigue. “Should I kill it?”

“Yes. Please.”

On cue, Boulders crushed the goblin’s head against the jagged rocks, silencing it’s barking protests and it’s flailing limbs slowed to minor twitches. Rhillian waded over to grab the deflated ball and sighed. So much fuss over such a small thing. Boril was going to be disappointed.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lemons
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Lemons They will look for him from the white tower...

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Where Are All Muh Onions

Featuring the incomparable Greenie



Farmer Jack sat in a chair outside of his home like he always did, this time of the afternoon. A pipe in one hand, and an ale sat on the table beside him. He stared out with a furrowed brow before him, at his fields. His precious farm had been trampled and strewn through. A whole batch of onions missing from their place.

Lines of onion shaped holes was all that was left. Holes and trampled grass. The elderly imperial grumbled under his breath, a vicious curse that he was glad his wife was not around to hear, she’d likely scold him for his sour tongue yet again. She had no patience now, did Carla - for she’d had to pick up the pace in washing the other citizens clothing in order to make coin. More furious still was she to learn that her husband was offering a precious thirty Septims to deal with the supposed thief.

Truthfully, Carla was glad for the missing onions - even if it meant more work for her, at least Jack wasn’t carrying that awful stench through their home anymore. At least Jack himself didn’t smell to high heavens of them too. “Feckin’ onions,” she cursed herself from inside the home, scrubbing through the less than pleasant underwear of a drunkard….

Hopefully, someone would be along to end the whole affair soon enough, for better or for worse.

"G'day!" The silence surrounding the brooding farmer was broken by Meg's chirp voice as she trotted over to where the man was sitting, an amiable smile lighting her face as usual. There had been plenty of other missions to chose from, some that sounded rather grand in fact, but helping out a farmer with his woes hit close home for Meg. She too, along with her father, had shared farming troubles for the years they lived in Whiterun, and if she could do something to help aleviate this man's pain, she was more than happy to!

"M'name's Meg," she continued as she finally made it before him, one arm akimbo while her other hand reached out, offering to shake his hand in greeting. "Heard ye've been havin' trouble with yer crops? I'm here t'help out with that!"

Behind Meg--nowhere near as amicable as a person as she--was Aud, the other, taller Nord of the group. After Meg had introduced herself, Aud moved up and gave a nod to the farmer. “Likewise. I’m Aud.” She’d never been quite as verbose as Meg, and so she decided to get right down to brass tacks, cutting to the heart of the matter:

“Do you have any ideas who might be taking the onions? Are they taken during the day or night? Is it only onions, or do other crops go missing too?”

"Aeg? Mud?" Jack replied, scratching his head before sighing, trying to think of how best to answer the curious women. "No feckin' idea, no other feckin' crops," he explained with a squint. "If I had to guess I'd say it'd be a witch! Takin'em for potions!" Jack huffed. "She's got tiny feet whoever it is, tiny tiny shoes…" he sighed.

"If yer really here to check it out, there's footprints in the field but they don't lead anywhere at all," the farmer shrugged. "So yer up to the task then?"

Aud glanced at Meg. “I’m good at tracking. If there’s any kind of trail to find, I’ll find it.”

Then she redirected her eyes at Jack and nodded once.“Show me.” This wasn’t…precisely what she’d expected when she’d joined an adventuring guild, but hey, anything for companionship, right? And it wasn’t like it was hard or anything. She was pretty sure that between her skill in tracking and the enhanced sense of smell that came with her curse that if there was a trail, any at all, it wouldn't escape her notice.

Meg didn’t have a nose like Aud did, nor was she the best at tracking, but she was eager to help, so she nodded along. “I’m up for the task!” she replied, looking from the farmer to her roommate. Frankly she found the Skald fascinating, having heard about them but never having met one in person. It would be nice to make another friend, at least, she hoped that would happen.

“Aye, let’s get goin’ then, eh?” She didn’t wait more than a second before starting off on her own for the fields, though she kept her pace slow so the others wouldn’t be too far behind.




Jack had lead them out into his field, and as he had described, all that was around them was a series of empty holes in the ground that once house onions, and a trail of tiny footprints.

Suspiciously round, hoof-shaped footprints. Anyone with any skill, or knowledge of wildlife at all would know them to be the work of an animal. Jack, however, still stared down at them, bewildered by the small size and the dainty shape.

“Some feckin’ shoes!” He huffed as he pointed at them, leading the two women to the fence where the trail only continued onwards and down toward the forest. “She retreats that’a’way— into darkness at night wheres no one will follow her… That’s why I’ve hired you, to chase this thief down!”

Blinking at the footprints, Meg wondered whether the farmer perhaps had weak eyes, because those certainly didn’t look like the footprints of any person, not even a Khajiit’s or Argonian’s. Still, she didn’t want to offend the farmer and sabotage not just hers but Aud’s chance at completing a mission and making gold. “Well these should be easy ‘nough t’follow, righ’ Aud?” She looked away from the hoofprints to her guildmate instead, eyes widening, hoping the Skald woman wouldn’t mention that the farmer wasn’t completely right.

Aud opened her mouth to give a withering rebuke to the farmer who thought the clearly-animal prints belonged to a thief. After all, what kind of animal had both the motive and the will to intentionally steal onions night after night?

And then the words stuck in her throat as she realized exactly what kind of animal might be sapient enough to be called a thief. One that...well, one that was like her. It could be an animal, or it could be a lycanthrope. And if it were a lycanthrope, then she wanted to find them. She wanted to find them and kill them. Damn all of Hircine’s hounds, she thought grimly, before giving a nod to Meg and turning to Jack. “Give me a day, and I’ll have the thief.”

Then she turned away and began following the prints into the trees. As she did, she opened her mouth slightly, breathing deeply and scenting the air.

As she followed the scent--unfamiliar to her--and the trail, she found it surprisingly difficult to actually keep track of it. It wound around, and she nearly lost it once or twice; but after a few hours of doubling and tripling back, she saw something that wasn’t altogether natural in the woods: a cart.

“Meg,” she hissed, dropping low to the ground, “look. Cart, run into a rock. Care.”

From over yonder, behind the cart, a simpler being was enjoying a late lunch. A late lunch comprised of Farmer Jack’s precious onions. Each bite was strangely dainty, but the bitter vegetable made a loud crunch in the jaws of the beast as it huffed out in satisfaction.

Without warning, the creature stopped, lifting its head up above the cart — as if it had sensed it was being watched. From Megana and Aud’s vantage point, they would see the face of a brown, bearded goat appear. It’s amber eyes searching frantically perhaps for a predator. Sensing nothing, the Onion Thief bleated out before returning to her happy pile of onions. The delicious, pungent, and wonderful onions.

"Tha' ain' no person," Meg whispered to Aud under her breath, not wishing to scare away the hooved creature. "Looks t'me like a goat!" She raised a hand to her head, mussing her brown hair in thought of how to break the news to the farmer. "What d'ya think we should do? Ain' like we can stop a beastie from goin' after the onions."

Narrowing her eyes, Aud pulled a spear from her back quiver. “Well. Whoever’s letting their goat wander out here isn’t a good farmer. Maybe they should be taught a lesson about animals. And a corpse won’t be stealing onions anymore.” She pulled back her arm and aligned her sight picture, preparing to let the weapon fly.

“Wait!” Meg lifted her hand, holding it in the spear’s way, eyes wide as she stared at Aud. “Y’can’ just kill the goat, ain’ its fault if it’s owner was careless in keepin’ it penned up or tied. Maybe we could take the goat over to Farmer Jack himself? Could be they’d take better care of this girl an’ not havta worry ‘bout their onions goin’ missin’.”

“Fine,” muttered Aud, “that’s probably a better idea.” She replaced the spear, then backed off a few feet. “I don’t know how well I can handle animals. Prob’ly better for you to take him back, yeah?” She turned back in the direction of Bruma. “Jack’s this way,” she said, then walked a little ways before turning back to wait.

Meg let out a quiet sigh of relief. She loved animals, and though she was no stranger to hunting them, it just didn't feel right to kill the goat when it wasn't its fault it went into the farmer's crops because of carelessness. It wasn't as if they needed to hunt, seeing all their food would be provided for. Fortunately, the Nord woman had a rather interesting looking apple that she used to tempt the goat back to Farmer Jack's place alongside Aud. Though the farmer seemed disgruntled that the thief was a simple goat, the prospect of keeping it seemed to soothe his embarrassment of not recognizing what the thief really was.

All's well that ends well?
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by POOHEAD189
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POOHEAD189 Warrior

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Missing Lover



(Collab between Mort, Tabby, Stormy, and Poo)




In the centre of bustling Bruma, was a quaint inn that seemed to attract all manner of individuals. From the shady, to the roguish, to the more noble of the city, and finally to the humble traveller. There were of course, those individuals who seemed to blend into any crowd - the invisible men and women who had never stood out for a day in their life. It was for that reason that Cavori Jarian has been sat at the same outside table every day for almost a week without anyone really batting an eye.

His blond hair was dishevelled over his face, matting at the fringe. There was a smell of ale about him that suggested he’d consumed naught but alcohol for the entirety of his stay at the inn. He sniffled loudly, the sound of phlegm present in the back of his throat.

He drank it down with a mouthful of warm ale, a fly sat atop the honey hued liquid. In his other hand, a crumpled and tear stained note. He whimpered pathetically.

“Oh Rosetta, return to me, my love, my one, my betrothed... Release me from this deep melancholy, for I am to die without your smile…”

Strange fate it was that his prayers were answered. Not by his love approaching him, professing her undying affection. Nor was it a servant of Dibella, here to grant him his wish. No, it was a crimson, battle-fueled Argonian with an air of murder and bloodshed that sat down right next to him and looked at him square in the face.

“I am from the guild. I am here to aid you in your landstrider yearnings of lust and heartache.”

As if on cue to pick up from where the crimson Argonian had left off a second one, his scales of a grey colour reminiscent of coal, sat on the opposite side of Jarian. “As my friend said,” Tsleeixth began. “We are here to help you with your troubles. If you could, ah, give us some clues as to what has happened, that’d be most beneficial to our endeavour. Any information that you can give us would be of great help mister Jarian.”

A drink in her hand, Sinalare dropped into the seat across from the others, and propped her feet up on an empty chair. She took a swig from her flask, leaning on her elbow as she stared across the table at the weeping man, unnervingly, awaiting his answer.

From sitting alone, to having three at his table - and two argonians no less! This is different he mused to himself, running the back of his hand under his nose again as he composed himself enough to speak. Were people finally to notice that he was in pain?

“I…” he mumbled out, casting his teary gaze across his audience. “My betrothed, my beloved Rosetta… She disappeared from my life three days past. Leaving nothing but a note…” Cautiously, he glanced at them all again before pushing the note to the centre of their table, smoothing it out with his hands so it could be read.

J,

I can’t do this anymore, it’s too difficult. Please don’t follow me.

Rosita


“Everyone I ask and show this too, they just say I did something wrong, that maybe she found a new betrothed in another town but… She wouldn’t do this. She wouldn’t.” Jarian sighed, overcome with emotions again.

Tsleeixth looked at the note that was presented to him and his companions. It was a rather brief note, simply mentioning that this Rosita found it too difficult to remain with Jarian and pleading for him to not follow her. “If you will allow me to ask you a few questions sir…” The spellsword began, turning his gaze away from the note and towards the distraught Imperial. “For how long have you known your betrothed? Did she exhibit any sort of weird behaviour before her, ah, disappearance?”

He paused for a second, to give time to the man to process his questions. “Does she have any close friends or family here in Bruma?” He turned to look at the note once more, an eyebrow rising when he noticed a slight discrepancy. “Also, it was to my understanding that the name of the woman is Rosetta not Rosita. Was this a nickname of hers between the two of you? A childhood nickname?”

Dax examined the note that Tslee was holding, squinting his eyes. He had an introspective look, but to most others he would simply seem angered. Honestly, he wondered if this Landstrider was simply an admirer that didn’t get his way, but since they were fiance’s they must have held some kinship.

“Perhaps one of you cannot spell.” he said.

“You spotted that then?” Jarian asked, eyeing the two argonians closely now. “Nobody else did. Nobody took me serious…” his voice fell low, a lump formed in his throat again.

“Eight months,” Jarian finally said after a few moments, and a few sips of his ale to wet his mouth and lips. “We’ve known each other for eight months, have barely so much as spent a day apart. She wouldn’t do this, I know she wouldn’t.”

“What about the handwriting?” Sinalare butted in. She glanced at the crumpled note. “Do you have anything else she wrote?” She hoped that Jarian had not indeed done anything to cause his fiance to flee, as she might feel bad later for giving him information on her, if so.
But, he paid - it wasn’t her business. And maybe there was actually foul-play involved. “If you don’t think she left you of her own accord, do you have any suspicions? Anyone she had disagreements with?”

But Jarian balked at the notion. His reddened eyes again teared up, and his voice shook. “I- No, Rosetta, my beloved… why would anyone ever have cause to dislike her? There wasn’t… there must be another reason. My love, she would not offend someone in such a way, my dear Rosetta… Something else must have h-happened.” He trailed off, getting choked up, and used his ale to swallow down his feelings and compose himself as well as he could. He rubbed at his eyes quickly, sitting up a bit straighter; he needed to be taken seriously, for once during all this.

“Please. You must help me- help her. Oh, Rosetta…” Jarian picked back up the crumpled, soggy note, staring at it once more as though it would change into his fiance if he stared hard enough. Finally, he broke his stare and, eyes closed, offered the note up to the guild members. “If it will help, take this. Please.”

Dax took the note in his brutal hands, and slowly placed the parchment near his snout. He took a long whiff, and tilted his head. It smelled of honeyflower and lavender. Perhaps that could help in the location of this landstrider woman. “It shall help us, yessss…”

Sinalare’s feet thumped against the floor, too loudly, and Jarian jolted as she moved to stand up.

“Right... Anyway,” she said, adding with a shrug, “enjoy your drinking.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Techne
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Techne Ghost

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Lower County Bruma, 20th First Seed, Morning

Old Man Edwal waddled over to his goat paddock. The elder Breton was an old fixture of the local community. If you listened to the hearsay while downing the local swill at the inn, you would’ve heard around fifty contradicting life stories surrounding Edwal. One week, he was a spymaster for the Emperor himself, the next he was a famed legionnaire, and the week after that he was a cunning sorcerer that was even older than he appeared. In truth, Edwal was the son of a sailor from Northpoint who on an expedition down to Anvil, slept with a strumpet and left her with child. He grew up in a whorehouse and eventually found his way to the open seas. When the salt from the sea made his old bones ache, he decided it was time to settled down back in Cyrodill where a wife and child were waiting for him. Now, the closest thing Edwal did to the high tales of adventure ascribed to him was wrestle with his goats every morning.

“I should have never listened to that Khajiit in Stros M'Kai, he promised me that cheesemaking was easy money.” Edwal grumbled as his arthritis ridden hands fiddled for the key at his belt.

It was early in the morning, the sun barely cresting over the horizon leaving a damp chill to the air. The key was cold to the touch, and he brought it up slowly to the equally cold lock on the gate. He gripped a nearby wooden post with his freehand to keep himself stable as he inserted the key and with great exertion undid the lock leaving it swinging open freely. Leaving the cold key in the lock, he entered the paddock rubbing his hands together to warm them as he did.

The first thing Edwal did was check on the goats’ water. He used to let them drink individually from a bucket, but increasingly severe pains in his back had put an end to that. So, he put out a commission to the local blacksmith for a water trough. It had hardly been a year with the new equipment, and it was already covered in blunt damage and teeth marks, but it did the job and that was what mattered to Edwal. A cursory glance at the trough revealed it to be full enough. Satisfied, Edwal picked up the two iron buckets stacked together on the trough’s right side, and with his new tools in hand made his way over to the goat’s shelter.

Little more than a large rectangular awning propped up by four posts, the shack existed as a formality to keep Edwal’s goats out of the elements. The Breton had seven goats in total, all of them currently bundled together in a heap among the scattered hay that served as the shack’s “floor”.

“Oi,” bellowed Edwal as he approached. “Get up you bunch of lazy loafs! It’s time to earn your keep.”

The goats used to the routine slowly roused themselves awake. The bucks and the kids slowly began to file out towards the trough or to graze on the millet and other grasses. The does remained clustered together patiently waiting to be milked. Kneeling slowly amongst the hay, Edwal began the process of gathering the milk.

It was late in the morning by the time Edwal had nearly finished. His wife Aia having risen in the proceeding hours and having begun to prepare the first proper meal of the day, the smoke rising from the farmstead’s stubby stone chimney. Dumping his latest collection into a large stone pot that he had fetched from the house, Edwal made his way carefully over to the last of his does currently standing defiantly in the corner - Sorcha.

Sorcha was the youngest of the batch and certainly the most problematic. When she was just a doeling she nearly bit Edwal’s finger off. The elder Breaton took a deep breath preparing himself as he made his approach. Sorcha regarded him suspiciously with her large eyes watching every movement. Edwal could see the goat’s muscles flex ready to sprint at a moment’s notice. He reached out a hand pleading towards the doe as he took another small step towards her.

“Come on Sorcha,” whispered Edwal as he shuffled closer. “it doesn’t always have to be a – Gods!”

Sorcha had broken into a run slipping between the old Breton’s legs. By the time Edwal had managed to turn around, the young doe was charging towards the still unlocked gate. Edwal sprinted after Sorcha the muscles in his legs screaming in protest as he did, but the old man’s legs just couldn’t keep up with those of the young animal. Sundering ahead, cutting a path through the other goats who protested with bleating murmurs, the young doe dropped her head low and crashed into the gate. She staggered from the impact, but Sorcha caught herself and the momentum was enough to open the gate just enough for her to slip out and run towards the nearby underbrush.

Panting and out of breath, Edwal stumbled up to the Gate closing it again before the other goats had any other ideas. He had all but given up on ever seeing Sorcha again when he heard a goatish yelp of protest coming from not far off. Curiosity peaked, Edwal peered over the paddock watching the underbrush that Sorcha had just disappeared into.

Emerging from the bushes was a large Orsimer women dressed in furs and holding the kicking and yelling Sorcha in her arms like a squirming sack of potatoes.

“Is this yours?”

| ~ |


“And then she came - my savior! Walking out of the woods with Sorcha in her hands like the Hero of Kvatch!” Edwal exclaimed excitedly slapping the table for emphasis much to Toruka’s immense displeasure.

Toruka hadn’t done anything. She was walking along the trail when a goat sprinted straight into her leg. Hearing Edwal’s cries in the distance, Toruka put the evidence together and decided that it was best that the runaway goat was returned home. The young doe undoubtedly had a fighting spirit to her, but she wouldn’t of made it more than a week in the wild. So, scoping up the protesting Sorcha in her arms, she brought her back to Edwal.

“I really didn’t…” protested Toruka.

“Let him have his fun dearie,” replied Aia as she plopped a hot bowl of porridge in front of Toruka. “we don’t get much excitement around here.”

The older Imperial woman reminded Toruka of the elderly matrons in her tribe. Her long gray hair kept in an elaborate braid that ran down the back of her heavyset and muscular frame, a boulder in comparison to the thin reed like stature of her husband. She was the one that insisted on Toruka sharing a meal with them after her “rescuing” of Sorcha.

Toruka prodded at the porridge with the wooden spoon that had been provided to her. The porridge was adorned with berries and wild honey, and Toruka could already feel her mouth watering as she brought the food to her lips. The homely flavor of the porridge tasted like a king’s feast after spending nearly a month consuming only travel rations and the occasional game she hunted when her feet weren’t useless from the day’s trek. She paid little heed to table edict and thankfully Edwal and Aia didn’t seem to mind. Aida laughing as she spooned another portion of porridge into Toruka’s bowl.

“Now only if Edwal enjoyed my cooking this much! Though I reckon, your folks being as big as they are must eat a lot.”

“I sailed with an Orsimer once. The dammed giant was as nearly as tall as two Nords stacked atop each other’s shoulders! Now that was a fella that could eat!” mused Edwal.

Toruka could feel the blush building on her face.

“I’m sorry,” she began as she pushed the empty second portion away. “travel is hard on the stomach.”

“And where might those travels be taking you?” Aia asked finally sitting down at the table with them.

“I’m Bruma-bound,” explained Toruka “looking for some paying work.”

“Bruma? Ain’t you heading that way tomorrow for the market Ed?”

“Indeed!”

“Then the two of you should head out that way together!” suggested Aia. “You could rest your feet for a while Toruka, and I myself would feel much safer if my Ed had a strapping young lass protecting him.”

“I really don’t want to be a burden, and I prefer traveling alone” replied Toruka reflexively looking around the dwelling for an exit. Edwal, Aia, and the table were unfortunately between her and the door. She supposed that she could squeeze her way up the chimney behind her if she wanted, but Toruka really didn’t enjoy the prospect of getting covered in soot.

“Nonsense!” proclaimed Ed with another slap of the table. “You can stay here for the night and we can leave in the morning!”


| ~ |


City of Bruma, 21st First Seed, Afternoon

“We’ve arrived” Edwal announced gently prodding Toruka awake with a jagged elbow.

The two were sandwiched together on the small bench of Edwal’s cart, the back loaded with supplies for the market. The noon sun had risen high in the sky by this point and despite it there was already a chill in the air as the wagon entered Bruma, the Jerall Mountains on the horizon framing their entrance as they did. Toruka had passed through the county capital once before on a trip northward to Skyrim. She had stay in the town only for one evening as she resupplied for the trip through the Jeralls. Not much had changed in the intervening time sense then. Toruka thought that to be appropriate as the Nords had much of the same mentality as her own people, a certain ethos of work that broke down to – “if it works then there is no need to go around changing everything.”

Edwal parked his wagon amongst a cluster of others that seemed to be making a small impromptu market near the Great Chapel. The other waggoneers seemed to know Edwal who came over and began to chat with them. Still groggy from her sleep and in no mood for social interaction, Toruka began to set about the work of offloading Edwal’s supplies. From what Toruka could gather, most of what Edwal brought to market was goat’s milk and cheese being sold in clay pots and old cheesecloth respectively. Soon, Edwal finished with his minor introduction and began to help Toruka. He took out the loose assemblage of wood that he put together to create a makeshift stall for himself in front of the wagon.

By the time they had hammered the last nail into the stall nearly an hour had passed. Edwal wiped the sweat off his brow with a sleeve as he looked at Toruka with a smile.

“Well,” he began. “I believe this is where we part ways.”

“Indeed,” Toruka replied. “I’m truly grateful for your kindness.”

“And I’m grateful that you saved my goat! She might be a handful, but… she’s still family. And for saving my family I present you with this.” explained Edwal handing Toruka a small sack of cheese.

“Safe travels.” Toruka responded nodding in appreciation.

“You as well! Don’t be a stranger you hear!”

Walking away with her newly collected lunch, Toruka found a seat on the ledge that split the middle tier of the city from the lowest, her feet dangling above the open air. The piece of cheese that she pulled was fresh and had a strong taste in her mouth. As she began to make slow work of the cheese, Toruka observed the city around her. Eyes trained for stalking immediately found interest in a burst of movement below. Two children, both with red hair, one taller than the other were chasing each other down the low street. As they made a sharp turn to avoid the path of an adult, the smaller child fell to the ground scrapping his knee. Tears began to well in his eyes and the child began to cry.

Suddenly and without warning, the crying took Toruka to another place.

It was the night after the slaughter of her people, Toruka sifted through the ruins of her tribe. She was covered in blood and looking for survivors. In her arms she clutched a wailing baby girl. The dwelling that the baby was sleeping in had collapsed atop of her during the chaos, a large piece of lumber having neatly shattered her spine. Despite this, somehow the baby was still alive, wailing and crying when Toruka unburied her. Toruka knew that the child wasn’t going to make it. Toruka knew what she had to do. It still didn’t make things any easier when she picked up the stone off the ground next to her…

Toruka was jolted back into reality. She was looking at the sky now and there was a sharp pain coming from the back of her head. It appeared that she had fallen off the ledge, luckily backwards instead of forwards towards the much lower street. She pulled herself up to her feet. She could taste blood, ash, and smoke on her tongue. Her panic ridden brain on some kind of self-driven autopilot drove her legs forward towards where old memories recalled the Inn was. She forced her hands to stop shaking long enough to produce the last of her septims to purchase a room and made her way inside almost dropping the key twice.

Once she was alone and secure, Toruka ripped the rucksack off her back and began pulling supplies out of it. From the bottom of the bag, she pulled out a bundle of blankets that contained three bottles and a pipe. She took a deep breath careful not to drop one of the selected bottles which she uncorked. She gave herself double the dosage that she usually did. She lit the pipe using a candle already lit in the room and inhaled smoke.

| ~ |


Toruka awoke on the floor of her rented room with the used pipe on her chest. She picked up the pipe and looked at it. Toruka had heard stories about skooma users that ended up burning themselves to death because of an errant pipe, it appeared this time that she had gotten lucky. Her head was still pulsating from the comedown, but she had enough wherewithal to shove the contents of her bag that she had scattered about in desperation back into their place. As she pulled her rucksack back over her shoulders, she felt cold. The floor had been cold as ice and passing out on it had done no wonders for her body temperature. With no choice, Toruka took a breath and headed outside to the common area where the hearth was still raging.

Toruka deduced that it must have been evening. The common area of the Inn was packed with residents chatting and drinking amongst themselves. Avoiding all of them, she found a small space to herself on a squat stump of a chair next to the fire. As she warmed herself back up, she closed her eyes and pleaded a silent prayer to Mauloch, hoping for once that her people’s deity would have mercy on her.
“Mauloch, spurned of Boethiah and King of Curses, heed my call. I’m a broken compass not knowing which way to point. I seek only to purge my dishonor. What must I do?”

“….and then he said he was going to go join that new Adventure’s guild.” A man said sitting at a table nearby loud enough for Toruka to overhear.

“To bring them a boar?” asked his drinking companion.

“Looking for work apparently. Bastard.” The man replied taking a swig from his tankard.

The words Adventure’s Guild hung in Toruka’s ears. Something in her knew that this was as close as sign as she was going to get from her deity. So Toruka rose to her feet and made her way to the door.

She was greeted by the cold evening mountain air as she left the Inn. She found a nearby beggar who she persuaded with a chunk of Edwal’s cheese to tell her where this new Adventure’s Guild was. As she approached, she found that she could see lights spilling from the windows and smoke exiting a chimney. It appeared that whoever these adventurers were - they were currently home. Normally Toruka wasn’t that much of a people person, but the Orsimer supposed that if this was Mauloch’s will who was she to object? If joining this guild let her fulfil her oath, then so be it.

Having decided her apparent fate, Toruka walked up to the door and slammed a heavy fist against it once and then twice.

Knockknock


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POOHEAD189 Warrior

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The birds sang their songs in the well manicured trees of the city Bruma, uncaring as the Landstriders were of the off architecture and the ordered way about life. It was strange to one of Dax's nature, even compared to other Argonians. Granted, he could see the benefits of a walled city and a structured way of living, but it also gave a predictability that any potential enemy could turn to their advantage. His people had long fought off the Dunmer by stealth and irregularity in their tactics.

Not everything was a warzone, nor was it all survival of the fittest. He needed to continue to remind himself of that in order to coexist with non-Argonians. Not all life was under threat... at least, initially. But it all devolved from there, with simple time.

With ne'er a clatter, he made his way off the roof of the new guild he had found himself a member of. Anyone who saw his landing would think him menacing, if not a threat. Indeed a woman squealed at his sudden appearance and a man hustled her away, looking at him with suspicion. He'd gotten used to it, and even enjoyed it in his more humorous moments, though those were few and far between. As of now, it was his day-to-day.

Striding out of the alley, he kept his weapons out of his hands but they were ever present. Once he was amid the crowd however, even he blended in. All walks of life seemed to congregate here. It always amazed Dax how much of a melting pot the other provinces were. He did think Blackmarsh should remain isolationist, but every now and then he wondered how it would be if his homeland could have a multitude of outsiders without having them succumb to disease, or have them invade with the intention of slavery.

Mer and Men mingled, laughing and trading spices and other goods. Young girls danced and flitted through the streets, giggling even at Dax. A man tried to halt him to sell him fish, but Dax didn't even pay attention to the fellow. Making his way out of the market, he found himself among the outskirts of the town where the guards strode about and travelers entered the city. He decided he would wait there and watch. Perhaps on the walls to have a better view and to keep himself from driving others away.

As he climbed the inner stairway, one of the guards, a man with a square jaw halted him. "Hold, citizens aren't allowed up there." He remarked, and Dax paused. "I'm not a citizen. I am one of the Adventurer's from the guild. Am I still not permitted?" He didn't smile because it usually put people off when he showed his teeth.

The man held clear suspicion, and he informed Dax to await as he went off to find his superior officer. Within minutes another man appeared, with a shield emblazoned with the symbol of the city. "Ah yes, you." He said, recognizing Daixanos from the reports of him entering the city days ago. "I've been wanting to meet you. What interest do you have on the walls?"

Little did Dax know, it was the start of a mutually beneficial relationship.
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Hank Dionysian Mystery

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21st of First Seed
Hall of the Adventurer’s Guild
Bruma, Cyrodiil


Upon arriving at the guildhall, Rhillian had been informed that his sleeping quarters were to be in the basement of the building. He had marveled at the warm interior design and the plentiful shafts of light that illuminated the ground floor -- it was clear that a woman’s touch had been at work there. Descending into the basement, however, prompted the priest to chuckle and sigh. There was still dust and cobwebs in the corner and the lack of natural light was almost suffocating in comparison to the floor above. That said, there was an undeniable peace to be found in the silence of the earth pressing in on all sides, and even the basement was well-furnished. He took a deep breath and basked in it for a moment, relishing the serene solitude. “I can work with this,” he said softly to himself.

Rhillian stowed his belongings away in the chest at the foot of the bed he claimed as his, placed in the far corner of the cellar’s bedroom, and knelt down by a small alcove set low into the stone walls. He placed his silver chalice there and surrounded it with small wooden effigies of some of the Divines: Arkay, Stendarr, Kynareth and Akatosh. Words of prayer and blessing were mumbled under his breath while he worked, his hands moving slowly and deliberately in well-practiced motions. It wasn’t the first impromptu shrine he had erected. When he was done, he lit a candle next to the chalice and sank back on his knees, content to watch the flickering flame and give silent thanks for his acceptance into the guild.

Silent also were the steps of a certain woman as she moved quietly though the basement to find the underground men’s bedroom. If it had been up to her, she would have simply found more space upstairs for some of their members but that has been one time when Dro’Sintaba had truly put his foot down. It was all dark, and there was still a slight scent of mildew in the air, Ivy realised as she stuck her pointed chin into the air to sniff at it. A slight frown harshened her features for a flicker of a moment. She’d find whatever that smell was soon enough, and rub it down with oil to remove it.

In any case, she floated over the stone floor, the loose hem of a teal and gold velvet dress swishing with her graceful steps as she came upon the doorway of the men’s room. She gave as polite a knock as she could — while all of the members were certainly interesting in their own way, she was expected to show a more formal introduction to their house healer, that was just manners, after all. “Mr Off-Drakelowe?” She spoke against the closed door with a relaxed expression and a relaxed stance. “If you’re in there, of course,” she added as a clarifier. “I’m to give you a tour before our welcome dinner.”

Rhillian’s head turned sideways as soon as Ivy knocked on the door and his body tensed up. He was a priest but he had served in war too, and some wartime habits never went away. He relaxed when he realized it was one of his employers and he rose to his feet, removing the sheath of his claymore from his torso and placing it by his bedside. This was no time for weapons.

The Imperial opened the door and smiled at the sight of the alarmly red-haired Dunmer. “Rhillian, please,” he said and held out a hand for the woman to shake. “You must be Ivy. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

She was evidently light on her feet, for he had not heard her approach, and even her sense of dress spoke volumes about her disposition. She embodied air as much as Rhillian embodied water and the breezy warmth in her eyes was infectious. Rhillian’s smile widened slightly. “A tour would be most welcome.”

Upon taking his hand, she offered him something of a Breton’s curtsy, bending her legs just enough to lower herself politely in his presence. “It is a pleasure to meet you too,” Ivy replied warmly. “I am indeed, Ivy.”

The Dunmer wasn’t surprised at Rhillian’s appearance, and in fact found him to be exactly what she had expected from reading his letter of application. It was good that her instinct still served her well. There was a non-threatening aura about him, but that did not mean it was not touched with history and with a rich story — he appeared to her like an old, precious tome might. Simply wisdom, folded in leather and bound elegantly.

“Less of a tour, more to be an informal mosey around the walls, Ser,” she said lightly. There was an accent on her tongue, and smoke in her voice that did nothing to deter from any notion of her being exotic — Ivy did little to hide that she was a gypsy of Tamriel. “I wish to show you the space we set aside for your work, in particular, Rhillian,” she smiled. “Small, but you should find to be enough. Come,” Ivy said with a beckoning wave of her hand as several bangles jingled around her slender, dark wrist. “It is back upstairs, follow me.”

He thought about the shrine for a moment before he remembered that he had been hired as a healer first and foremost. “Of course,” he said and inclined his head, unfailingly polite as ever. Rhillian followed her back upstairs.

“Am I not mistaken in assuming that it is your hand I see in the furnishings of this hall?” he asked as they crested the top of the stairs that had led them out of the basement, and he gestured around him with one hand to indicate the place in general. “It feels like a home already.”

The Dunmer stopped at the top of the stairs and glanced around at the furnishings in question, before giving a shrug of her shoulders. “I just received a budget and so we made a list and I did what I could to make it happen… That the things make this place feel Iike a home for you is pleasant to my ears,” she breathed happily.

Without thinking on it for a moment longer, she stepped out across the hallway - directly across the hallway to another door, this one was locked unlike the others. The only other room with it’s own lock belonged to Dro’Sintaba and that was for good reason, it was for good reason that this room was off limits to most too.

From a chain around her neck, Ivy pulled a key free and opened the door — what greeted the two was just as she had described, a small room. There was a single cot in the corner - the sheets neat, taut, and crisp white. Shelves lined the walls and carried vials of various tonics, poultices, rolls and wads of cloth, and bottles of rubbing alcohol. Leaning against the door, Ivy tucked a closed fist under her chin. “I think this should suit, I believe you should have most of what you require but feel free to do as you wish with the place.”

As she toyed with the key in her other hand, she eventually pulled the chain over her head - careful that the silver links didn’t snag at her hair. Ivy handed the little brass key to Rhillian.

Rhillian’s eyes widened in appreciation. They had clearly put a lot of thought into procuring all of the supplies he would need. It was more than he’d frequently had access to during the Civil War in Skyrim. He took the key and, much like Ivy had done, wore the chain around his neck, stuffing the key beneath his furs and robes where it rested against his chest, side by side with his amulet of Arkay.

“Thank you,” he said in earnest and placed a hand on Ivy’s arm. “I didn’t expect this, truth be told. I’m used to people underestimating or being thoughtless about what’s needed to properly practice the healer’s craft.” His golden eyes softened and he chuckled. “Looks like I underestimated how prepared you would be. I am glad to be proven wrong.”

“We take our health, and the health and wellbeing of others very seriously here,” Ivy replied with a warm smile and a friendly wink. “You are welcome.” She too, placed a hand on his arm, encouragingly so in fact.

“We are lucky to have you in our service, I shall hope you shan’t have need of this room at all,” she giggled before stepping in, making her way to take a seat on the patient’s bed. “It must be a strange change for you to join us,” she said, watching him closely.

“Let’s hope the gods will it,” Rhillian agreed. “The most fortunate healer is one who has to do nothing at all.” He watched her as she made her way to the bed, observing the way she moved, and he wondered just how lithe and agile she could be if she wanted to. When she had made herself comfortable and looked back up at him, he smiled and did not shy away from her gaze.

“A little. These past few years have been very quiet. But…” He paused, formulating the rest of the sentence, and realized that he was going to be honest with her already. She invited that kind of openness with her demeanor and her eyes. He was fairly sure that it was a good thing. “I am ready for a change. It feels good to be among people of action once more. It’s been too long.”

“And people of action we are,” Ivy commented with a playful smirk. “I heard about the ball you rescued today,” she giggled, placing a hand over her mouth. The dunmer did not shy away from the obvious humour in the situation. “Maybe next time, some higher stakes.”

Rhillian laughed along with her. “Unfortunately, the ball was long past rescuing.” He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “And Lifts-Many-Boulders had to rescue me from a goblin that tried to drag me underwater. The boy ended up not having any coin either, so it was a big to-do for no reward,” he admitted freely. “I already fear what might happen to me if the stakes should be any higher than a missing ball.” The priest chuckled. “And what of you? Are you going into the field as well, or is your role more… administrative?”

“Administrator?” Ivy gasped in response, bringing a hand quickly and dramatically to her chest before creating a comedic blech of a sound. Soon after, she was brought back round to laughter — the thought alone of having to sit and do paperwork bored her to tears. “Oh no my dear. Not quite not quite…

I decided to take a well deserved break from my life and take up a new hobby you see,” Ivy said, looking directly in Rhillian’s unusually bright eyes, there was a happy twinkle in hers. “I thought how nice it would be to take a break from the world and teach myself how to garden, to plant seeds in the ground and watch them grow. To nurture them, tend to them, keep them safe from the various elements. Just to see,” she added in a long breath before staring off into the middle distance. “To see what they become.”

It seemed to him like she was speaking metaphorically and Rhillian surmised that the seeds she mentioned were the new members of the guild. But he had seen an actual garden out front as well when he came in. So maybe a bit of both? “An admirable profession,” he said and leaned against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest. “How does the proverb go again? Society grows great when we plant trees in whose shade we’ll never sit? Something like that.”

He, too, looked wistfully into thin air. “I tried to do the same for my flock in the war. The soldiers. But it’s hard to shelter them when… well, you know.” Rhillian cleared his throat and shuffled his feet, looking down at them as he did so. “Let’s assume that the guild will face less dire circumstances.”

“Hard to shelter everyone indeed, but we do the best we can for those we can help. Always better to save one soul than lose yourself trying to save too many…” Ivy sighed, raising her shoulders with her breath before placing her hands onto her knees. “Not that I fought in any wars,” she chuckled.

After a moment's pause, her idle hands found their way to a pillow on the bed and she picked it up, feeling the pleasantly light spring of the goose down inside as she patted it with her hands before cuddling it to her chest. “Sooner or later everyone will find themselves friends here, maybe later after that we’ll be family. Nothing is ever too dire when you’re with family now, hmm?”

“Family,” Rhillian repeated. He thought of the mother that had left him on the steps of the chapel in Drakelowe. He used to dream about her, a faceless figure humming a heartbroken lullaby, but it had been years since she had visited him at night. Decades, even.

The priest nodded. “Family is whatever you make it, wherever you find it. As long as we stood shoulder to shoulder in the war, we could face anything.” He sighed and rubbed his temples. “And we did, and we won. I’m just….” he said, trailing off. Instead of finishing his sentence, he smiled and looked back at Ivy. “Instead of fighting in wars, what did you do?”

The Dunmer thought about what he said, ruminating on his choice of words by closing her eyes and breathing them in. Slow, one by one. “I travelled the provinces,” she began, opening her wide scarlet eyes, smiling ever so. “I danced in every town, in every city, every village. Sang songs of peace and harmony…” Her voice turned into a hum then, her words came melodic and soft and she released her hold on the pillow to let her arms move gracefully in a lazy wave at her side.

“I believe that in war… There is only loss, the price for victory is… Too much,” she admitted only slightly sombrely. It was as if she could picture all of those who had fallen. “So I danced to bring joy and smiles... And happiness.”

“Yes,” the Imperial agreed. “Too much.” He fingered the amulet of Arkay around his neck and breathed in and out slowly. “They don’t tell you about that in the histories and the songs. I mean, they do… how many died, how many were wounded… but it’s not the same,” Rhillian said softly. “I’ve buried too many boys. Lost too many of them on the operating table. And when it’s all over, you can’t help but wonder… is this what it was for?”

He cleared his throat and smiled. “But it’s alright. Life goes on. You have the right idea, you know. Happiness is what it was all for. We owe it to everyone that can’t be with us anymore to enjoy our time here. To be kind to one another.” Rhillian chuckled and, in spite of the conversation’s subject matter, a boyish gleam appeared in his eyes. “I look forward to seeing you dance some time.”

“Life goes on,” she sighed wistfully in response. “Your boys live on too, you know? In the good feelings that you have, the instincts that guide you through your life now. The warmth you feel when you’re content.” Ivy smiled, hugging the pillow again.

She found it in herself to narrow her eyes in his direction at his last comment, “I feel too old for that now. Too responsible… But we’ll see just what can be coaxed out of me this evening…”

“A challenge I shall leave to the others,” Rhillian said wisely as the weight of his years crept back into his gaze. He wasn’t a young man anymore either. “I assume you haven’t forgotten how, hm? Spreading smiles and joy comes so naturally to you, I doubt your limbs would ever forget how to work their magic.” He laughed again. “You’ll be fine.”

Ivy responded with a slight frown, and scrunching of her brow that harshened her sharp features. “Sometimes I’d be glad for this body to forget some of that magic, believe me,” she said with a quiet chuckle. “Gives me more grief than I can handle sometimes… But, only sometimes,” she added, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “There’s been a lot of good things that have transpired from that magic.”

“Good things are meant to be shared,” Rhillian said with a cocked eyebrow. He pulled up the bedside chair and sat down, hands folded together in his lap. He was intrigued by the Dunmer woman and her life’s story -- how different it must be from his own. “I’m curious what they might be, if you don’t mind me asking.”

At that request, Ivy smirked. “Oh I don’t know Rhillian, I think you’d be bored to tears with my stories,” she said - but there was no blush on her cheeks that might suggest embarrassment of any kind. “Let’s just say that joy and happiness can be found in many ways,” she giggled.

Unperturbed, Rhillian nodded. “So Dibella teaches us,” he said sagely. “She’s no Mephala, but there are many ways of joy and happiness that fall under her domain all the same.” She had hinted at enough to satisfy his curiosity -- Rhillian was not the type to pry any further when such details were not volunteered -- and he smiled. “It is good that you have lived life to the fullest. The gods would approve.”

“That they would, that they would,” Ivy breathed out in response. “I spent many of my years barely living at all, it made sense to be indulgent after that. But tell me, Rhillian—“ she stopped, and pursed her lips, as if she was sensing the way his name felt to say. Such a long word it was. “Do you have a nickname? I like nicknames,” she said. “I can’t call you Rhilly, it rhymes with silly and I also already gave Dro’Sintaba such a name… I shall have to think about it some more.”

As if that had simply been nothing more than an intrusive thought she had to work through, she jumped back into whatever she had been trying to say before. “Ah yes, for fun and for happiness — what is it that you do?”

"After all that I have seen, every moment of peace and prosperity is a happy one," the priest said and clasped his hands together. "I like to help people experience the same thing, help them find satisfaction and tranquility in the simple pleasures of good living." He fell silent for a moment and pondered the other half of her question. "I think birdwatching is fun," he said at length and then smiled sheepishly. "That probably sounds very dull."

“Birdwatching?” Ivy asked, tilting her head curiously while her eyes narrowed in thought. “Not dull, just different. Can’t say I’ve tried it. I find it hard to stay still… That would be a problem, wouldn’t it?” she asked, her toes wriggling, as if in a subconscious demonstration. “I’d frighten the birds away.”

That made Rhillian laugh. It was easy to imagine the Dunmer acrobat growing fidgety and restless. "Yes, you would," he said, still chuckling. "Birdwatching is all about melding into the background. Become one with the grass and the bark through stillness." He sank to the floor and sat down on his knees, his hands laid to rest gently on his thighs, palms facing the ceiling.

"Breathe," he whispered, "and become wind." He inhaled slowly, almost imperceptibly so, eyes half-closed but still alert. "Wait and observe. Clear your mind from all but birdsong." He smiled at a memory. "A lark tried to make a nest in my hair once. I didn't move until dark."

In response, Ivy too slipped off the bed and brought herself to the ground -- mirroring Rhillian’s own movement. “I can be still,” she whispered. “Breathe, eyes on the target,” the Dunmer continued, resting her hands palms down onto her lap. In the light of the medicine room, she could see that Rhillian’s eyes had a pleasant glow to their unusual colour. “I think if a lark tried to make a nest in my hair it might never get back out,” she giggled.

His eyelids fluttered wide open and he laughed again as he looked at the voluminous fullness of Ivy's hair. "Who knows what else you're keeping in there?" the Imperial mused. "You know, that would be a good character for a children's story. The Dunmer acrobat who keeps mysterious and enchanted objects in her seemingly endless and labyrinthine scarlet hair… and it's up to our youthful protagonists to get you to bestow them with the artifacts they need for their quest." Rhillian cocked his head. "But that is a harder task than it seems, for she is wilful and mercurial, despite having a heart of gold. It writes itself, don't you think? We could even feature the lark, accidentally rescued by our brave heroes as they untangle the web of strands and locks, who's been in there for years!"

Bringing a hand to her mouth to chuckle into, Ivy’s head fell to the side again, her shoulders jittering. “And what of you? The kindly, wisened Priest who gives the would be heroes the will to continue on,” she said with a sigh, relaxing her body, unable to continue to be so straight backed and stiff like Rhillian. She kicked a leg out to her side, and rested her weight on her arm happily. A hand placed on the freshly cleaned floors.

“That poor lark would be happy to fly again, having been whirled and twirled for all those years. I bet it would come out a dizzy little thing. Perhaps the kindly Priest takes care of such a tired lark and nurses it back to health, hmm?”

He smiled and golden light, perfect and flawless in its angelic luminescence, flickered into existence in the upturned palms of his hands. Rhillian looked down into the lights and they reflected even more brightly in his eyes. "Some say healing magic looks like this because it's the purity of Aetherius shining through into our world, like the sun and the stars but channeled with purpose -- which is why it brings life. What do you think?"

“It’s beautiful,” Ivy said, moving forward to lean towards Rhillian’s hands, and all of a sudden she was resting on her front, gazing at the glowing. She held out a hand of her own, and as the Imperial’s hands had filled with it, so did her own — just a small, tiny pool that paled in comparison to his. It didn’t hum like his spell, but it was there. “It’s special, perhaps it is the gift of the sun and stars but I think it comes from somewhere much closer, from inside of ourselves. Little pieces of our own hopes and dreams and wishes for others.”

That was an interesting perspective. “Destruction can be fueled by anger,” he said. “You say that Restoration is fueled by love? Hm. I like that. It’s a beautiful way of looking at it.” The priest reduced the flow of magicka to his palms and the lights dimmed, swirling slowly like a lighthouse fire out at sea, casting long and uncertain shadows through the basement.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he said and suddenly looked up to meet Ivy’s vermilion gaze. “You give me hope for this guild.”

That gave her pause for thought. Fueled by anger? She asked herself, the question evident in her expression too. “Perhaps,” Ivy answered quietly, letting her own magic disappear too. She thought of the flames that she could conjure in her hands, as strong as the magic that sat in Rhillian’s own -- hers was just that, destruction. She’d never considered just where the well for that magic sat, it had never felt like anger. To Ivy, her fire was her peaceful place.

Snapping out of it, she blinked the thoughts away, and smiled, her eyes wide as she met his too. “Hmm, I’m glad you’re here too,” she admitted with a nod, and as sincere a smile as she could - her dimples prominent in her cheeks again. “Ah!” she exclaimed, bringing her hands together, inspired by the shades of glowing yellow in the Priests eyes. “I know, I’m going to call you Dandelion,” she smiled, a giggle finishing it up.

"That… isn't any shorter than Rhillian," the Imperial said, confusion in his voice. But dandelions were beautiful flowers, so he didn't feel offended by her choice of moniker.

“Eh,” the Dunmer offered with a nonchalant wave of her hand, a bone in her wrist clicked with the movement. “Shorter wasn’t going to work for you anyway.”
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21st First Seed,
Evening, Guildhall


It was hardly the spread that many would expect for a welcome feast at the establishing evening of a new guild. It looked as though it would hardly feed a family of four. A roasted chicken, a plate of potatoes, a bowl of salad vegetables, and a simple cheese platter.

But there was at least a pièce de résistance. Right in the centre of the table. A dark looking cake with a sticky glaze and slices of caramelised pear adorning the top in a pretty circle. It was so fresh from the oven that steam still rose from it, carrying the aromatic wafts of ginger and spices into the air too.

As much as she loathed paperwork, two new pages of parchment were held in her hands. Two new applications. An Orsimer woman, and a lofty Imperial gentleman… Together they were sure to add to the beautiful array of characters that were already forming in their ranks. Ivy chuckled fto herself at the sounds of the footsteps upstairs as individuals got acquainted, settled themselves into their new home. Ivy also glanced at the closed, and most likely locked, door of Dro’Sintaba’s office. She hoped he might at least make an appearance…

As for herself, she’d donned a fetching gown for the occasion. Teal velvet that was long in the sleeve and high necked — sophisticated and classy. Several golden bangles adorned her wrists and ankles, and a thick golden choker was wrapped around her neck, coiled in the shape of a serpent with two tiny emeralds for eyes. Atop her head was a rolled bun of ruby red hair, knotted and voluminous. Her baby hairs were slicked into curls and placed flat against her temples with some kind of wax. She felt as fetching as she always did — ready to once again greet whoever decided they were hungry.

Ivy hoped there was enough to go around…

The lazing young man didn’t do much more than stealing glances at the redheaded Dunmer lady at center stage – huddled up in one of the more comfortable chairs, and wrapped up in his cape to keep himself warm, Ioannis hoped that he’d ‘contributed’ enough to the total feast effort by having dragged a boar all the way to here. With such a great gift, who would be expecting him to do things like helping with placing the dishes? Not to mention that he had come from a long way.

Hoping that the gigantic Argonian he’d caught a glance at would not end up feasting on the boar all by himself, he decided to break the ice with the red woman.

“So, uh, is the paperwork all good?” He asked, his gaze aimed at Ivy’s eyes.

Ivy, at the sound of a gentleman’s voice, turned her head in his direction — finding the form of the Imperial in his chair. He was well dressed, smart in fact and it pleased her to see it in the same manner that it would have pleased her had he been in rags and ruffled. She was simply happy for the company.

Bringing her fingers together, she formed a triangle and nodded in his direction, her smile inviting. “Oh yes,” she began, her accent blossomed from her mouth. “Very good indeed, you’re a smart one — we need creators here,” she finished. The Dunmer continued to look him over in as non-intrusive a way as she could.

“The boar you brought is fantastic,” she remarked. “Too late to prepare it for this evening but we can cure it! It will be especially delicious that way…. Although perhaps I could ask you to carve out the belly beforehand. Roasted boar belly would be… Quite the dish,” she said with a wink.

“Sweet Mara, please not me,” Ioannis thought to himself as he imagined having to carve the boar open, while shooting back a cozy smile at the woman. Had she just winked? “Oh, Dunmer women,” he thought. “Never change.” Of course, Ioannis had learned (the hard way) not to go about philandering in an environment completely new to him, but since when could a youth of his age cease such thoughts?

“I’m afraid I don’t have my trousse handy, and plus, I don’t have much experience with it either… Surely there’s a better butcher here than I,” Ioannis replied, stretching his arms. “I’m better at putting them down than handling the carcass, anyway,” he added, extending the index finger of his right hand, pointing it at the cake and making a ‘poof’ sound, throwing his hand up with the imaginary recoil. “You know. Like that.”

“La’Shuni can clean the boar.” The young Khajiit offered, placing a delicate forkful of chicken in her mouth, chewing thoughtfully as she regarded Ioannis with unsuppressed curiosity; he seemed far too clean shaven and sure of himself to have been much of an adventurer, she reflected. The insinuation that the Imperial hunted without knowing how to harvest game sat poorly with La’Shuni, but she put that aside for now. She wasn’t one to indulge herself to judgemental thoughts without reason… most of the time.

“This one is a huntress. She’s certainly found her way into more carcasses than her mother would approve of, La’Shuni thinks.” she smiled politely, cutting off another sliver of the meal. She tried to pace herself when she ate, not only to avoid looking too improper around company, but pacing herself made herself feel contented on less food than if she simply devoured what was before her. Out in the wilds, you didn’t have a secure source of food, and it could be a while before you came across an ample amount again on long journeys.

Ioannis turned his head towards the Khajiit upon her remark about cleaning, quite relieved. “I normally hunt small game,” he replied, not wishing to seem inexperienced. “Fowls, quails, mostly pheasants. The boar’s, uh… it’s a happy accident,” he added, not wishing to disclose all of the details.

Aud gave a rare little smile as she tore into a thigh of the chicken. She'd never been a paragon of courtesy at the meal table; there was little enough time for that among the Skaal. And so, her heavily-accented voice came out muffled by meat, still carrying that smile across on it: "a few hunters among you, then?" She looked back and forth between Ioannis and La'Shuni. "We should go together sometime."

The creaking floorboards issued enough warning of the next approaching member that the lumbering argonian could hardly surprise anyone with his arrival. Lifts-Many-Boulders turned the corner, following the sound of conversation and smell of food to find a guest in the guild house accompanied by a recently slaughtered beast. He paced up to them, though the agonized creaks of the wooden floor beneath him made it sound more like stomping, and made a curious appraisal of the beast as he scratched at its tusk with the end of his claw. What strange beasts.

“Miss Ivy?” He said. “I can carry to the kitchen.”

“Ah,” Ivy chirped out, letting the sound roll from her tongue happily -- she was really rather unsure of where to divert her attention as one by one the guildmates rolled in -- either straight from their first quests or fresh from their bedrooms, having unpacked and settled. She took a long look around the room and the happiness could not have been more evident in her. The way that she rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, and in the way that she hummed quietly. “Thank you Boulders,” she said, placing a friendly touch on his gargantuan arm as he sidled off with the game.

Upon feeling the thumps on the floor, Ioannis turned his head with cautious anticipation – he’d heard that this Guild had its share of misfits, but he did not expect something like… assuming from the vibrations, an ogre. He suppressed the thoughts of going for his air bow, considering that a shot would likely do no more than piss the creature off, and that the other folks here would not be at such ease if the looming giant were hostile.

To his surprise, it turned out to be an Argonian, an overbuilt one at that. He thought of asking it whether it fell into the cauldron as a child or not, but its curious demeanor implied to Ioannis that perhaps it was mentally… special. He shot a smile at it, raising his hand as a greeting gesture. “Hello.”

Boulders cocked his head to the side as he looked Ioannis up and down. Skinny man? He was so little and the boar was nearly as big as he was! It might have been easy for someone like Boulders to hunt, but it must have been like fighting a wamasu for him. Looking at the boar, he found only a single wound on its body. Boulders nodded his head in appreciation.

“You must be strong warrior to kill big beast in one blow! Welcome to tribe.” Boulders said in awe to the little man before walking away with the boar in one hand. Before he turned the corner into the kitchen, he said again, “Welcome to tribe!”

The priest had not spoken up yet, content to nurse his drink in silence while he observed his new allies, smiling at their banter -- and at Boulders in particular. The priest and the behemoth had gotten along well since their meeting at the notice board and Rhillian had become even more fond of the Argonian when he saved him from a fiendish water-goblin. “Welcome indeed, kinsman,” Rhillian said and raised his glass to the other Imperial in the room. “You have a curious weapon there, I must say. What is it?”

As Boulders approached Rhillian to engage in the conversation, everything quietened down for Ivy. She swayed to the centre table — cutting a slice of the spiced cake to place beside a plate of potatoes and chicken. She still had their secretive leader to tend to, after all. With a roll of her eyes she glanced over her shoulder at the corridor that led to his suite, and then back to Rhillian. With a slight murmur under her breath she began to make her way down the hall to drop it off, content in the fact that a good night was going to be had.



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