A collaboration with @Parzivol @A Man is No One
In Freja's dreams, they came. A haunted mass of primeval animal force, shadowed, clawed and taloned, the discordant flapping of their wings visible only by the light of the half moon above. Their savoring jaws came ever closer and when they slammed into her, pinning into the floor, they bit into her face and ripped out her eyes, she found she was watching herself through a telescope. Startled, she jumped back, looking around to see a city below the massive tower she stood on top of. She turned around, to see Hircine, his horned head that of a deer and his body that of some sort of man, stood before her holding a red, beating, heart that began to fade to a sickly black colour.
"Do you know what this is?" he asks in a rasping, furious voice.
Freja tried to speak, but her mouth only managed a bestial growl.
"Yes, as good a answer as any!" He looked about. "A city. Far from where The Hunt can find you." He raised his mighty horn, and blew.
The feelings of terror and rabbit in the ferns horror that the horn brought upon Freja caused her to freeze. This was to the good, for she found herself standing on top of thin floating ice shelf in a misty lake surrounded by pine rees. There stood on the opposite side of the shelf, what looked like a pale, sickly Breton woman curled into a ball. The Breton uncurled, and grinned, revealing a pair of gleaming fangs. She lunged.
And the lunge was cut short, as the ax head unfurled from Freja's tight fists. It burrowed deep into the shoulder of the Breton before both the chop and the beast were brought to a halt. There was that whisper in the back of her mind, however. It was not a beast. This thing was no beast. She were the beast, just as she were on those streets that night in Markarth. The cold emptiness was calming. That calm had to be fought and resented for the proper result.
She slammed her right hand down on the ax helve, just before the head. It cleaved through the sanguine monstrosity's right shoulder. Muscle divided, sinew snapped.
First the crack of the collar bone joined the sounds of the ice.
Next the ribs were decimated in a chorus as the vampire remained silent. As its left shoulder and arm fell away and black dead blood seeped away from the creature's body, it righted itself. Before it could respond properly, Freja slapped it away with the flat of her ax. The sound of a jaw breaking cracked out into the air.
Then, the ax was thrown. It was the heavier, multi-purpose thing that Freja loved so deeply. It burrowed into the left femur of the creature, pinning it and sloughing off a sheet of cold flesh and its own layer of black blood.
Then Freja's great black paw hammered down onto the head of the vampire. Its spine collapsed as its skull cracked along its weak points. There was a short whimper before the Black-Bear Of The Markarth Watch began to feast on her prey. She caked herself in the black blood as she meticulously chewed away the flesh and bone, stripping the flesh from the body in a practiced inverse ordering.
Mist began to curl in towards the ice floe. As Freja was subsumed in this, she found herself again with Hircine, but near some toppled stone obelisks atop a hill. The Moon seemed to glow with a green light above them.
Hircine boomed, "The Hunt comes, Freja. Be you prey, or that you prey, it comes! Are you prepared, this time? It comes!" She heard the distant howling of what she would know to be Werewolves. As they came roaring up the hill in a tidal wave of ragged fur, the vision began to quicken with the sound of beating drums.
Images pulsed by in snapshots of time. Wolves ripping the throats of lambs. Men advancing towards a frozen lake from with the symbol of a shield emblazoned by the sun on their tabards. A Khajiit wearing a red bandana over the ruined hollow of where his eye used to be. Then finally, these images were pulled away as her eyes rolled back, rolled so far back into her own skull that she saw her own face through a purple crystaline haze, eyes rolled back to white. Her own mouth moved, "Find the ringed bearers. Find them!"
She awoke, gasping, sweating. Her heart pumped like the fading sounds of drums from her memory of a dream.
The hounds began to bark as she awoke with a start. The dead tree that she had dug up and toppled to create a little hollow for her to sleep under, just to the West of the Isle itself, had served her and the dogs well for the past two weeks. She scrambled out, dragging her ax with her. She stepped out into the light of the dawn with the ax held above her head. The dogs had quieted, and were now content licking at her ankles and feet.
Nothing but the woods.
But there was still that distant sound.
The Huntsman was demanding ring bearers. Freja would find her prey.
She grunted, and thudded towards the root that the dogs were hitched to. Broli's leash was attached to Freja's belt, as were Breja's and Bjorn's. The three of them each had about twenty free yards of movement before Freja's weight and stability would hold them back. The two youngest dogs of that trio began playing off to the side, jostling the metal clips on the belt. Briarheart and Bramblefoot had their leashes removed and used to tie Breja, Bjorn, and Broli a bit closer. The two eldest hounds obeyed, and never really wandered off far enough for them to need to be tied.
She stuck her bare foot into her small den, and dragged her bandolier out. She slid it on, and ensured that the straps for her throwing hatches were firmly affixed. As she passed by the small pile of corpses of wild animals she collected three femurs, a heart, and three skulls. She pulled them together and tied them to her bandolier, before hefting the boar she had slain the previous night over her shoulder. It had a single breach on its hide, directly at the nape of the neck. An excellent hatchet throw.
Freja and her hounds began the trek across Talos Bridge, into the City. She didn't expect to actually enter the city until the mid afternoon given the distance, but she began her walk nonetheless. Her eyes remained sharp and focused, and she scanned the individuals she passed with a certain severe uncertainty. Their fingers were her focus. Her obsession. She needed to find the rings.
The closer Freya got to the city, the more people began to crowd Talos Bridge. Wagons filled with cloth of every color, gold gilded chariots whos armed Redguard guards looked at Freya with some suspicion as she passed, and surrounding all of this, the masses of shoulder to shoulder citizens, horses, and cows. Some children carried tiny copper buckets engraved with the symbol of Talos. One of them, a young Khajiit girl, approached Freya.
Hircine's Hide-Bearer eyed the fabrics primarily. She was hoping to find something thick. Perhaps a colorful linen? Her mind was of two pieces. The linen would have to wait while she scanned the fingers of the crowd and dubbed the many rings visible to be mundane. Hircine would not demand simple common fingers.
The dream was of a sanguine variety. She began to watch the smiles and eyes of passerby, in stead of the hands alone.
When the small cat-thing approached she let her attention be taken entirely, however. And she stopped humming, as well. She hadn't even realized she had been humming in the first place as she swum through the crowd with her dogs.
"This one..." her mother, who was hovering just over the young girls shoulder, clipped her ear. The child hissed, her hair standing on end, then continued, "I wish for coin, for the blessings of Talos. You have, yes?" She looked over her own shoulder to see if she had gotten the words right, and her mother nodded solemnly.
Freja had been loping along the bridge like a measured animal up until the Khajiit approached. She stopped, and dropped to one knee. She dropped the boar from her shoulder, and gestured to it for a moment. She began to speak, all the while she slid the boar towards the feet of the young khajiit. "No no. Do not change who you are. You are of your people, just as I am of mine. Say, 'This one,' say, 'Khajiit,' and I will say 'I,' and speak of 'My Reach'. I will dance in the light of the triplet moons alongside you however, regardless of whose people you belong to."
The child's mother scowled for a moment as her eyes looked at the dead boar presented to her as a gift, but realizing Freya was trying to be playful, twitched her mouth back to an indifferent regard.
Her daughter looked at the boar, but apparently had a developed sense of humor because she giggled
, "There are only two moons silly! Nahni thinks Nord needs to look towards the sky, if they wish to dance!" She mocked a small spinning dance, looking towards the sky all the while, spinning and spinning until she fell, grinning through the haze of delirious laughter, "See! This one sees the stars!"
Carefully, the Reachwoman would stand and pat the head of the beastfolk child. Her attention would turn to the child's mother, who she towered over with grace and ferocity. With ease.
"Take her home, split the boar, share it with your clan. Stay off the streets. I do not know what your folk call him, but the Huntsman God is sending his followers out in great numbers this night I suspect. Keep your daughter safe. She is all that matters, don't you think?" Freja's accent was sloppy and archaic, but carried her words with a firmness. She was easily understood despite her glotal stops and trailing, lazy r's.
The girls mother said, in a heavy accent, "Nord must be kidding if they think I'-" but then she sniffed, and realized Freya smelled like dog. This wouldn't normally be too unusual, Freya in fact had several politely sitting behind her, but she smelled like a dog in the way a dog
smells like a dog. She also wore furs, spoke in a heavy nordish accent, and had casually thrown a boar onto the ground like she was a housecat presenting a mouse. If Shotura knew anything about The Hungry Cat, he always gave you a chance to avoid his hounds, if only so the hunt would be proper. In fact, a lot of men on Talos Bridge had smelled like dog today, now that she came to think of it. She quickly grabbed her daughter by the arm with one arm, carrying her resisting child to a nearby cart that was parked on the side of the bridge, it's wheel broken from the axle. She came back for the boar, looking Freya dead in the eyes and saying,"Shotura smelled more that smelled like you, earlier. This one will pray for you."
Our beastly half-breed placed her right hand over her heart, and continued onwards. The interaction was more than pleasant.
At the end of the bridge stood a mighty barbican comprised of two crenelated towers. In between these towers was a mighty red banner with the a black and angular sigil of a horned helmet. Below this, a huge gate, currently open. Guards stood on either side, sometimes stopping to question some of the merchant caravans or traveling troupes about the contents of their wagons.
As Freya passed through the gate, several guards narrowed their eyes through slitted helmets as she passed. Through gritted teeth she vaguely heard "damned savages" and "smells like dog".
Neither of these comments were particularly off-putting to the Reachwoman. Savage was, as far as she understood the term, a compliment as to one's hunting abilities. The dog comment was easily proven true by the presence of the five dogs. She hummed louder and continued to lope on, watching wearily.
The Talos district was packed. In the center of the surrounding, massive stone manors adorned in small banners of dragons, swords, and sweet rolls, was a statue of a dragon and a man holding a silver sword. The silver of the sword seemed to be real, for a robed man, holding a massive tome of a book in one arm, slid his palm against the blade and presented his bloody hand to a enthralled audience.
His voice, the deep thrum of righteous indignation, shouted in a norse accent, "Talos was forgotten! Waylaid! The Altmeri cursed his name, spat upon his light, drove the memory of his heroism from the minds of men. They formed magic sigils to keep his name from being spoken in Skyrim and we were cursed with praise of the Aldmeri Dominion. It was a dark era and when dragons returned to harry our farms and burn our villages, all hope was lost. But then, Talos was reborn!"
She slowed, picking a place on the edge of the crowd to watch the man from. When the mention of the rebirth of Talos raised cheers, she cheered as well. The unification of the Forsworn tribes, bringing the Reach to its rightful citizens. He truly was of a grand disposition, this Emperor.
There was a uproarious cheer as the man rubbed his bloody hand against his face, and continued the speech with a roar in his voice, "In blood and fire Emperor Havfyg slew fourty six dragons! He slew The False Emperor in single combat, and when Titus Mede used dark sorceries in a desperate bid to defeat him, he banished his false magicks with the Thu'um, the speech of dragons he had learned from the terrible Paarthanax! Then he waged war, war on the Aldmeri, who had forgotten his name and so he vowed that in times hence theirs would be forgotten in kind!"
The crowd cheered and the orator grinned rather madly.
To Freyas eye, she glimpsed in the crowds passing by this display of religious fervor, nobles and merchants of the well off sort, mostly beast and men, passing by wearing several kinds of rings. Silver rings with amethyst insets, golden rings with draconic sigils, rings representing family sigils, rings representing nothing other than wealth. They passed almost as quickly as Freya could spot them.
She took particular interest in a Nord man, whom she lunged at in the crowd and grabbed by the wrist. He was wilting, aged. She bent his hand upward, into the air, and locked his shoulder. She'd break it if she needed to, but until he fought against her she'd simply take account of the man's rings. She looked upwards, and the she looked inwards.What am I looking for, O Lord mine. Breathe into my heavy eyes another vision. When that is done I shall strip this man of flesh and blood and construct for you an idle to feed the hunt.
The old codger struggled and rasped out, "Guards! Guards! Someone help me!" As he said this, some members of the crowds passing by would note his struggling, but otherwise wouldn't pay much attention to it. Two guards sitting at a table in the distance squinted to see what the ruckus was, but seeing what seemed to be a woman manhandling a old man, assumed he had likely deserved it, and went back to playing cards.
"Oh! Husband!" She twisted her grip around and shifted her weight. The result was that the codger was rather limply pulled into her arms and held as though it were he who were in fact the bride. In a mere moment Freja's previously penitent glare had become a joyous, clever smile. She had missed
her husband, truly she had. "Come come! Let's celebrate the evening... It'll be a wonderful night just the two of us won't it?" She said this and began to carry the man towards one of the less populated alley-ways nearby. All the while she began to canter and sway and hum little bardic tunes.
The illusion was set.
"Interesting... " Enathrae thought to himself.
Perhaps that guards had paid little attention but quite intriguing this situation had become. The guards Havfyg had employed could not be so willfully ignorant. Perhaps it had been the distance set between the two couples? Anyone who was paying attention or at least who was supposed to be paying should have easily been able to stop such a crippling manuever. The whisk away that subsequenty occured, not as clever as the woman might have thought. She may have been better off conducting her business than breaking away on her own to avoid the guard which apparently would not have been a problem.
"What might you be up to?" His mind continued to contemplate potential outcomes of this virtual powder keg.
The barbarian of a woman turned into an alley. Enathrae with hood drawn up of his newly acquired cloak (compliments of Emperor Havfyg) slowly inched to the edge of the building in which had flanked. His head peered around the corner and he watch the couple meander through the less congested area of the Talos District. He did not hide; however, he would not make it so apparently obvious that he was interested or watching. No. Almost as soon as he had swiveled his head around the corner, his body seemed to follow. He stuck to the wall and maintained his distance. He only crossed the alleyway when civilians had made it unnecessarily difficult to pass through them. The hunt was half the battle in his line of work even if the kill had typically happened with a knife in the back.
When the alley began to curve and line of sight with the busy streets shattered and they were left alone, she grabbed the old man by the head and hurled his skull downward, to the ground. The wet thud did little to dismay her. His groans worked at her bloodlust, and in this weak season she found certain encouragements to turn here and make short work of as many weak prey animals as possible. She did not.
She pulled her ax and burried it to the helve in his head.
Now, content that this man was hers she prayed over it. Her hands clasped over her heart and she spoke briefly of the hunt as it had been:
"This man were of foolish varieties. He died without honor, and none came to his aid. I preyed not on good hunting this evening but on clever hunting. Wouldst do us no good O Huntsman were I made captive now."
She sat still for a moment.
She slid the ax from the head wound.
She began to divide the man into the preferable and the unwanted meats and bits. Her goal was the skull and the femurs, and the heart. She freed these first and set them aside before pulling a long nerve from the body with surprising precision.
With these tools she created a small bone idol. She pulped the heart into the skull, all of which was still a deep flowing bloody, and then bound the femurs to the mouth. She focused that whisper in her soul, and branded it with old Forsworn magicka. She needed to see her goal. With the magicka branded she ate the man's liver raw and then waited. Her vision pulsed as the hex on the totem swelled, then reached its fingers outwards.
Clairvoyance. The goal-seeking spell.
Caked with blood, she waited and watched. Patience was fitting for a hunter. While she waited for the totem to sense out her goal, one of the Ringbearers as spoken of in her vision, she finished butchering the codger's body with a cold dispassion. The meat would prove useful for the stay in the city. The trade had been made, she felt. Those Khajiit were not prey. They deserved nothing but a calmness this night. And the warning would prove useful. She would have to keep her nose out for more. This hunt could, perhaps not, be undertaken without allies.
A brief fantasy struck her while she sat. How kindly would it be for a Ringbearer to walk down this very alley. She had questions first, of course, but the primost thought was of her treading forward and throwing a hatchet into the belly of her quarry. Though that was not Hircine's wish, she craved a good hunt. Nothing good fun since the children east of Chorrol. They screamed, at least. Her mind towards the vision once again. She had slaughtered a lamb now. It was time to wait for the frozen lake men and their glorious tabards to come. Then the Khajiit.
Cross legged. Absorbed in thought. Bloody at the hands and mouth, and down her neck and clothing. Quite the mess, truly.
From behind a stake of crates, outside the rear entrance to a local business Enathrae sat in wait. But he was not still. His mouth moved in less than whispers, conveying archaic words of power that reverberated through the aether. HIs fingers meandered in various arcane gestures held down before his stomach. His actions were not typical offensive magic. Absolutely not. He was calling on a century old illusionary art that would slowly alter the easily noticable clairvoyance spell that he had felt from his spot of hiding as he researched this new and interesting target.
Quiet casting was simple enough. He was a spellsword that most often partook in assassinations and priority murders that required the utmost secrecy. But this was something entirely different. He could sense her motivations, the things she wished to see come forth from her offering to the God of the Hunt. Another readily apparent observation. The manner in which she desicrated the elderly man's corpse. The utter disregard for the fact that she may have very well taken him from some more important meeting? For what? There was nothing in the Dunmer's code from slaughtering a weaker opponent or killing the innocent. However, even he had lines.
His hands ceased in motion. His fingers held an strange and seemingly uncomfortable contorted manner. Had he tapped into the woman's attempted divination? That was his intention. He wanted to see what she was provided from her offering. But more to the point of his own Dunmer magics - he wanted to alter that clairvoyant vision to his own advantage. At the very least, this tank of a woman would be great fodder but she had greater potential to be the great enforcer he required to adequately carry out the investigation that might very well leave him set for life. If he could, he would alter it in their favor but then again if he could not at least Enathrae might have a clue as to what this strange oddity might be searching for.
The totem thrummed, making a sound not unlike hide drums beating in the hollow of a cave. Each "thump" sent shivers up Frejas spine and a certain kind of primal anticipation.
Enathrae carefully monitored the totem. Such was the primal drum of Hircine's attempted direction. But the influence of the daedric princes worked quite differently than most would have imagined. It was not as if the daedra wrote a letter and simple spelled things out one step at a time. No, things were must more cryptic. Look for this most obscure symbol painted above a blue door and slay the man with one arm shorter than the other. Such things were more like comedic games to them. For the daedra spent their days plotting and scheming against one another for amusement. Or against mortals, exploiting their wanderlust and vulnerability to potential reward that they'd do pretty much anything. But their influence held little strength on the material plane.
It was true that the daedric princes could influence the mortal world through their champions or the weak minded pushed to do a task and complete it in their favor. However, their plans were inacted more through the process of inception into one's dreams. Mehrune Dagon had to severe the boundaries between oblivion an the mortal realm to hold any immediate influence. Even Sanguine had to bring his recent victims to imbibe a terrible brew, using a confusing black out to get a more notable mortal to do his bidding.
As such, followers had their own way of tapping into that restrained influential power restrained by the boundaries of the mortal plane and oblivion. Magicka. Some exploited it greatly. Others fail to acknowledge its existence. Everyone can access it, some better than others. But if it could be accessed by an individual, apprentice or master than it can be altered and interfered with by another. This is how wards works against the destruction magic or others. It is not necessarily a forceful spell to be reckoned with but instead exploiting the latent power of an oncoming spell and turning it against itself. However, with a spell of clairvoyance it is merely an opportunity to play poorly with the daedric princes as they play poorly with the people who call upon them.
The skull, twisting, began to leak more blood than even the heart could naturally pump. In great creaking motions, it pointed Northeast. Its gritted teeth jerked open, and a thin ball of blue light rolled out of, then floated, from the dead mans mouth. It moved down the alleyway, twisting around a corner, the thin trail of light behind it slowly receding as it got farther away from Freya.
Her head jerked, back down the alley and around a corner. Her brow furrowed hard, and she felt her heart turn to that of a rabbit. Had she missed something? A scent? A sound? Some squirming figure in the shadows of unknowable import? Had her ax so nearly missed its mark with this old carcass?
Before Freya could turn away from the idol, another azule orb coalesced from the skull's mouth. This time the orb spiraled upward from its gaping maw before shooting off to the west. Perhaps this time too fast to travel. Then another appeared. This one bounced from the skulls mouth, clasped onto the wall of a building and rolled up over the lip of the roof before shooting off out of sight. Then the blood soaked ashen maw snapped shut. The crimson skull, flesh and sinew still moist from a life quicky stolen seemed to turn upward into a queer smile before falling silent. Each of the blue orbs left a faint cerulean trace towards the general directions in which they took. But they were fading quickly.
Freja watched the orbs scatter off. The first one would be her primary target, with the the westward and roof-hopper being the secondary pursuit. She slid her ax into its rest position on her bandolier, before wiping her mouth and hands. The blood only smeared more violently, with an additional layer of dirt getting in the way of what would otherwise be a clean bloody coating. Her thoughts were of the hunt, though her sense of smell and the taste of the air was sand-blasted by red iron blood. She pulled her elk headdress up from her belt, and draped it over her head. Focused eyes and a bloody maw hung open from the grim idol that had become the woman.
She tracked the first blue orb down the alleyway, humming."Oh there..." once was a hero named Ragnar the Red...
When she was younger her mother had presented her many such bardic melodies. This one was not her favorite, but it was one that she knew was common beyond the valleys of Skyrim. It was known, and that's what she sought. She wanted her prey to know, to recognize something familiar and potentially friendly. It was a facade. An illusion. A presentation to create a sort of false, bloody uncertainty. Was it a hunt or a smiling pursuit.
The little tune continued and grew into a low haunting melody. There was an ax there, in that melody. A blade. She was prowling, and that much was obvious as she neared the corner that the blue orb had turned behind. She braced herself against the corner, and made her body broad and wide. An obstacle, as she turned the corner.
Far, far ahead of Freja, she saw a pair of legs, toes upwards, being pulled into a open doorway. Almost as soon as the feet disappeared from view, a Khajiit wearing a red bandana over one eye and a scimitar at his waist appeared and closed the door. The wind that blew from above pushed the cloth into the hollow, making it seem as if he had a deep cavity beneath. He crossed his arms, first looking right, then left. Seeing Freja, his hand went to his scimitars hilt and he hissed, "This one thinks Nord is lost. This one thinks Nord should keep moving."
Freja treaded onward, rolling her shoulders back twice as she passed the threshold of the corner. This cat was common to her. In the dull alley light she was not surprised that the blood and viscera had not yet yielded much of a reaction. Her concern, however, was tracking the little orb of magicka commanded by her wishing aid from the Huntsman. This Khajiit was important somehow. For one reason or another things were meant to happen this way, and she would grow to understand why. It was her duty. She stopped and eyed the cat-folk. Her stance was still broad and athletic. She was a beast of prey and still seemed altogether massive, even as stretched and ready as she was.
Enathrae, following behind, began to hear what sounded like scrabbling footsteps above him, followed by roof tile nearly clipping his nose and shattering at his feet. Looking upwards, he saw nothing, but he could see more tiles falling in the direction Freja had went.
Knee-jerk, sudden, and violent, the huntress turned her head. Dim eyes catching the light of the evening. The Khajiit did not see a woman there in the alleyway that night. He saw an aspect of the Hungry Cat. Antlers stretching high on the broad, muscular form of a young woman. This bad omen in the shadows.
If the descent had been delayed for a second or two, Enathrae would have been visiting the aether in his dreams, partying with Sanguinis or fleeing from Molag Bal. Or maybe he would be lucidly trailing in the wake of his ancestors as he so often did. Dreaming of taking up a position beside a great queen whose face he never sees. She was standing beside another man who also appeared quite regal in stature. Sometimes they were standing upon a great stone precipice, a balcony over a city courtyard waving to the crowd who cheered for their appearance. Othertimes, Enathrae witnessed them meeting in secret, caressing each other with subtlty, nervous they might be caught. Once, he had even bore witness beside the Queen as she watched a man being murdered by a rioting crowd, fleeing in self exile frightened by the civil unrest. It was all so strange to him for as he dreamt, Enathrae knew his place but was unable to interfer in or influence the things that had occurred. It was as if it was not even a dream at all.
The black shadow in the alley, a daughter of Hircine truly, stopped vibrating. The air that had rung calmly with the old bardic verse stopped. The silence was a scream.
The Dunmer's body snapped back. He had been skulking behind Freja when the clay roof tile had dropped passed his nose. The tile smashed upon the cobblestone beneath his feet. As quickly as that clay had begun to splinter, the Dunmer with the lithe form and elfish grace founds the means to force his back against the wall of the building. His head jerked towards Freja's direction as more tiles trailing in the wake of the first. He had not seen the murder from his position, however; a sense of vengeance had begun to well in the pit of his stomach. Someone had been so bold as to exploit the shadows to assault him, or so he felt. Such things were not worthy of respect. Such things had to be dealt with, for not to dominate someone not worthy of his respect would go against the very lifestyle he had devoted himself to since he had left Morrowind.
His eyes darted to and fro. Enathrae was assessing his location, the possibilities. All the while clay tiles continued to smash on the cobblestone, at this point moving further away as the mer wasted precious seconds to understand his surroundings. Quickly he turned from the wall, darting down the alley following in the wake of the scattered pieces of clay. He gracefully ascended an old cart, filled with nothing in particular and vaulted to the top of stack of crates and barrels on the opposite side of the alley. He caught a glimpse of the assailants. With a great spring, his agility carried him to the top of the building opposite. He rolled to a stop, rising into readied crouch to assess his situation.
Ahead, was a werewolf. It stopped in a skidding movement that sent several more tiles flying below, which Freja saw clatter roughly thirty meters behind her. It's fur was black and in places slick with a dark, red, pigment that pooled itself on the tips of its razor sharp claws, one of which was bent back rather unnaturally. Around its neck was a large manacle attached to a chain. It began to growl, its teeth sliding as it grinded it's teeth. It lifted its head and howled in what sounded like pained agony. It lowered its head, its one open yellow eye focusing on Enathrae, and barrelled forward in several, furious, lunges.
Her torso and head remained twisted, towards the collapsing tiles and the scuffing and bounding sounds of adventure, but almost more importantly they sought that howl's source. It was too soon to harry the prey. They needed control now more than ever. The hunt was coming
. Its time was nigh. It would not be this night that their Hunt would begin.
She built tension in her thighs and legs as her right hand remained outstretched. The red-stained ax-head glistening in the ever-dull alley. Her left hand moved above her heart, and the Khajiit had only a moment to see the black silhouette of Hircine's daughter cross over its chest with its left hand. Her movement was a singular fluid jerk thereafter. She was careful to ensure the small hatchet she had grasped had the right spin on it as she released every bit of tension she had stored. As her sudden jerk halted, the hatchet flew from her left hand and whistled momentarily before disappearing in the dark.
The cat's knee, the right one, had only the energy to buckle and fail as the tendons and muscles were cleaved and the hatchet embedded itself.
Hircine's huntress was impassioned.Brother or blood?
She pulled the Savior's Hide out from under her belt, and answered her own question. Brother first. She bit down on the article, and tossed her ax to the ground. The muddied overalls slipped by their loops from her broad, strong shoulders, as she slipped from them in a practiced motion. Even as the thick fur began to form she shed her remaining garb. By the time the elk head-dress, the final article removed, was gone, the bear had become reality. It barked out a concerned threat towards the Khajiit before it became entirely distracted. It needed blood, but the pack had called.
Powerful legs sent her into the air as massive paws slapped and dug into the otherwise insurmountable alley wall. A second leap, off of the wall, put her nearer to its peak. She could smell the werewolf, now. She figured she had about a minute to calm it down before she lost her wits and returned to kill the Khajiit that was so dreadfully familiar.
Enathrae's view of the werebear pulling itself out of the alley was hindered only by the nearing werewolf.
Ra'Za'hirr Daiani, Khajiit and one of members of the inner circle of The Peoples Blades, watched through pain teared eyes as the Nord who had just hobbled his left leg morphed into a horrific, bearlike monstrosity. He barely managed to control his bowels and stay awake long enough to watch her leap upwards. Vision blurry, he heard the doorway open and was pulled inside.
Ra'Za'hirr was dragged inside by Gans Norene, a Breton in a simple tunic with several belted knives. The room was furnished with a table, some chairs, and surrounding all of this, wall to wall crates. Gans growled, "Oblivion be damned, what happened to you?"
Ra'Za'Hirr rasped through his pain, "Oblivion happened ali ahziss! A Werebear!" His eyes widened as he said this, just realizing the situation he was in. He turned his head, noting the man they had dragged inside. Wearing fine silk robes worthy of royalty, the Imperial had a bag over his head. "Kill him."
Gans set Ra'Za'Hirr against a wall, then began to shove shelves, chairs, and tables in front of the doorway, "At this tIme, Ra'za? In this moment? While we're in danger? With." and he gestured towards the towards the doorway, as if that was explanation in and of itself.
Ra'Za'Hirr hissed, "This one will do it!" he crawled from the wall, his anger pulling him on. Reaching the Imperial nobleman, who was barely conscious, he gripped the mans throat. He began to gag, but as Ra'Za'Hirr dug his claws in, blood began to pool around his fingers. There was a brief struggle, which was quickly ended when Ra'Za'Hirr ripped his claws outwards, spraying blood and pieces of the mans throat as he twitched and gurgled his final moments.
The smell of the Werewolf to Freja was...off. It smelled like a Werewolf, praise be to Hircine, but, there was also a smell of what her werewolf senses and experiences in the Reach would identify as necromantic. This smell didn't come from its flesh, but with each heaving breathe, the smell of wrongness seemed to sweeten the air.
The Werewolf did not stop its onward momentum as it nearly came upon Enathrae.
The clay tiles were loose. Poorly balanced upon the roof's internal structure. His feet were precariously positioned near the edge. His hands were empty, protected only by his fingerless guns. But they were outstretched for balance. He had haphazardly and perhaps carelessly leapt to the cities highest tier in order to get a leg-up on his opponents. However, he was not in the proper position for it. Unstable, unprepared, and perhaps.... no, wait a second... that's how a typical man would have found themselves when placed in a situation they were not adequately prepared for.
Enathrae with an arm held out to his side, hand outstretched and palm up stood prepared to defend himself, perhaps in a situation that was more challenging than the common rabble rousing he was use to in these cities of men. As the strange lycanthopic beast teetered forth, the Dark Elf grinned. To believe such a cumbersome beast, with paws so unuseful on these strange tiles could move swiftly would be strange. Walking on its toes instead of the pads of its feet, appendages with sturdy bones unable to properly grip the curved structure of the clay tiles. The beast was top heavy, forcing it to lean towards the peak of the roof to maintain a forward progression. It was a perfect advantage for the nimble dunmer.
The subtle golden hue that warmly blanketed his open hand was the only cue to be given, a visible sign that may have been all but lost on the enraged lycanthrope carefully stalking him. Enathrae pushed off the clay tile, dislodging a number of those beneath his feet in a similar manner to that which had alerted him in the first place. Simultaneously, he swung his arm upward pulling a large portion of the clay tiles up from the roof. Tiles coming from the rows beneath the progressing werewolf and those in front of him, but the positioning was a bit strange. The Dunmer had not targeted the tiles immediately beneath the beast with his telekinetic spell, instead he targeted those tiles that were closest to the edge of the roof. Dislodging, pulling them up with his magical essence and launching them towards the beast would have caused the appropriate distraction over enough time for the chain reaction to begin. As the tiles battered the beast one after another, those beneath its feet and those in front of it would begin to slide down towards and over the edge with great speed under the weight of those above them on the roof pulling at the already unstable beast. It pulled the beast with haste towards the edge where its most likely option lost within a staggering shock would have been to topple over the edge.
Meanwhile, Enathrae found himself precariously perched higher up on the roof. His hand digging into the clay tiles on the peak of the roof, he soft soled leather boots doing well to allow him to grip the strange dimensions of the remaining tiles well. His casting hand trembling, the tingling of magicka energies reverberating through his flesh he watched the lycanthropes reaction trying to gauge his next move. His focus altered. Enathrae's concentration came to a boil in his mind, the energies swirling around his hand. This time than emanated in an aura with a bluish hue, coalescing in finished preparation in the palm of his hand.
Tiles battered at the advancing Werewolf. The impacts did nothing to stagger it, until the tiles beneath it began to rapidly shift towards the edge of the roof. It faceplanted, breaking a corner of a tooth before being dragged towards the drop below. It frantically dug its claws into the roof, taking the tiles that weren't being telekinetically pulled with it and creating jagged grooves.Then one one of the tiles corners jammed into its eye, blood rupturing from the wound. It roared, its claws reaching towards the the shard of tile left in its face for just a moment. This was all it took for it to careen off the rooftop.
Enathrae heard several crashing sounds and a loud thump as it fell on hard stone cobbles. From Frejas point of view, she could see that the Werewolf had knocked down several clotheslines and it was in a tangle of pants, shirts, and various other articles of clothing below. It struggled to rise, dazed from the impact, but less harmed than a mere mortal would be.
The werebear had at this point advanced nearer, watching the odd smelling werebeast be battered. As it fell, so too did Freja drop to the ground some twenty feet down the alley from it. In a violent burst of energy she lunged forward, and looked into its eyes for a moment.
Bloodshot, frantic, and pure, pure blue were its eyes. It hesitated, for just a moment, then growled.
The smell was rank and strong here. She decided to be brutal in that last moment before she lost control, and so she began to dig thick claws into the meaty flesh of the werewolf. The werebear, yes the werebear now lost to its rage, opened her mouth with some substantial force that seemed to call forth the bite that was to come. She called the werewolf's right arm its prey, and so she swatted down with two great paws and stripped back the werewolf's flesh, exposing bone, in a singular decisive bite.
Healing magic could fix it were it alive. But that smell of death reminded her far too much of the briarhearts for her to imagine anything other than the slaying. The slaying. She was hunting now. The hunter now. The hunter now.
From his perch upon what remained of the clay tile roof, Enathrae watched the ensuing violence. Whether or not such aggression was necessary was irrelevant. In a word, it was primal. Unlike man or orc, when Dunmer slay it is done with precision exerting as much force as necessary for the kill. Most would much rather sneak in and cut a throat, or slip a poison blade behind a cloak than charge forth with a mighty chip from a great axe or some other oversized weapon. However, this beast of Hircine was enjoying itself in the meaningless abuse of a corpse that could have been more easily destroyed by decapitation. Enathrae found his safety, but he had not achieved his goal.
The Dunmer calmed his nerve, rising to the soft soles of his leather boots that allowed him to grip to remaining tiles without struggling to maintain his balance. The soles of his feet wrapped around each curve in the remaining tile as he slowly crept towards the edge, each step more treacherous then the last. He peered over the edge to watch the werebear go to work, but it was not enough for the Dunmer - he had a plan. Enathrae's fingers curled, starting with his pinky and continuing until he had made a fist. Normal of course, it was not. A faint glow was concealed within his enclosed hand, a glow that was beginning to break through in wisps of an orange aura.
"Ex aethere præcepisti in manu mea hæc rune ut incenderent omnis prætereuntis," Enathrae spoke from above before thrusting his arm forward with an open palm angled at the fallen necromantic lycanthrope as his target.
The spell was moderately difficult for a novice, but for the well seasoned spell caster that Enathrare had grown to become it was an oddity. Tendrils of orangish-red aether sped off from his palm, wrapping around his fingers as they jettisoned forward. The threads maintained a loose shape until they slid beneath the werebear and her prey. Then the magical spell came to fruition and had been solidified. The rune was complete, etched onto the undead flesh of the werewolf beneath the werebear. A fire rune to attract the werebears attention.
"Foolish beast..." Enathrae scoffed, "Hircine's bidding be damned."
The Dunmer turned away from the edge of the roof with a smile towards the vicious beast. He looked towards the east, where the morning sun had once arisen towards the Arboretum. That was his preliminary destination. But in the end the ragtag group of rapscallions would have to end up on the steps of the College of Whispers just beyond the trees.
As the Dunmer disappeared into the far distance, the Werewolfs body began to spasm as arcs of purple electricity shot through its nervous system. These shocks sent shivers up Frejas spine. The final shock sent it and Freja bouncing slightly on the cobbles. The flesh in Frejas mouth began to slough off, until the creature was naught but skeleton in a pile of its own viscera and fur. On its rib cage, one could see multiple, purple lines of a crystaline substance that seemed to form veins in the bone and traced what seemed to in the remaining vestige of a Nord mind Freja had left, nordic runes. What made most of this not matter, was the flesh that had fell off the werewolf still had a magical, explosive rune on it. Freja made a movement to crush the undead werewolves head with her jaws. The rune detonated.