Recent Statuses

2 mos ago
Current If people actually ditch RPs after a week of no posting, it's no wonder nobody finishes games. People have lives folks.
2 mos ago
@Lady Selune , I had the same problem, and that's why I decided to start GMing. You'll never have a hard time finding a game if you always run it. ;D
3 mos ago
My so-far fool proof system for interest checks is I complete the OOC first and then cherry pick sections of the setting and rules/standards and spruce it up with formatting and graphics
3 mos ago
Best way to ensure you join a game with staying power is pay attention to people who are a part of long lasting RPs and avoid people who flake or start multiple games in a short period of time.
3 mos ago
This lack of group RP thing is news to me; I've had to turn down joining 3 in the past couple months because I'm already in 4.


Lowering the site's value since January 2012.

Most Recent Posts

The Moonpath

Everything looked like it was in place, and now all that was left was to take the step that there was no coming back from. Daro’Vasora’s throat was tight with anxiety and anticipation as she stared down at the white crystals that seemed to have a red-purple tinge in the candlelight below her on the room’s nightstand. She paused, recalling after Hector left her presence and she had claimed her room that Roux had provided, she felt at a loss and conflicted about what she should do. With a heavy soul and no particular desire to do what she knew needed to be done, Daro’Vasora headed out into the night towards the merchant stalls she recalled from earlier and it did not take her long to find a Khajiiti sweets merchant that sold a number of pastries from under a red tarp with gold trim, the twin crescent pattern so popular with her kinsman prevalent in the center in golden thread.

“May J’Mazzri interest such a lovely one such as yourself in some lemon tarts or sweetrolls? It is near the end of this one’s day, so he offers his wares for half of the listed price.” The merchant, an orange-furred Tojay-raht, a man-faced breed with typical cat ears that rarely were seen outside of the Elsweyr kingdoms; they must have been born abroad.

“Actually, I need to walk the moonpath and require Khenarthi’s grace. The crystalised lifeblood of Jone and Jode. Would you be able to assist me?” Daro’Vasora asked. The merchant nodded, receiving a small folded cloth from within a bucket and sliding it into a woven handbag. “J’Mazzri includes a bit of the sugar in most of his creations, but only a small amount so it does not arouse suspicion. But for Azurah’s children, we must help each other where we can far from home.” He bowed and was surprised to see a few coins placed in front of his nose.

“I’ll take three of those lemon tarts, as well.” she had said.

Since then, one of the tarts were gone, and she’d labouriously melted the moon sugar down in a bowl over a candle flame and made sure that Jone and Jode were visible through the window above. There wasn’t an exact incantation or prayer for this, at least not something most Khajiit outside of the Lunar Priests would know, but generally this was a fairly informal affair. It just happened to be one that Daro’Vasora hated doing. When the sugar had melted into something she could take back in a quick drink, she stripped down to avoid tarnishing her new clothing, locked the door, and opened the window to let a breeze through. Having put it off long enough, the Khajiit let out a long sigh and drank from the bowl, the incredibly potent sweetness almost immediately hitting a sense of euphoria. She sat upon the floor, where she’d laid out the blankets, and stared up at the moons, her vision growing bright and unfocused to the point of discomfort that she quickly stopped feeling as her body absorbed the moon sugar. She closed her eyes and she felt weightless, barely feeling the rise and fall of her breathing.

When her eyes opened again, she stood upon a bridge that floated incomprehensibly among the stars, green auroras dancing around enticingly as the torch-lit bridge led to a long set of stairs. She was now garbed in a simple red gown that was reminiscent of the plain robes that the lunar priestesses wore. The architecture was similar to what one would find in Dune, although she’d never been there herself; it was what she’d been told by those who occupied this place, a gateway of sorts to the sands beyond the stars where her ancestors and Khajiiti spirits could meet her partway, the nexus between living and death. At first she’d wondered if it were just a drug induced hallucination that played out entirely in her mind, but the consistency of multiple visits and information relayed that she couldn’t have possibly known made he feel that the moon sugar had helped her walk the moonpath and transport her spirit across the light of the moons to this place to speak with those who came before.

She just really didn’t care to visit the extended family very often. It was seldom a warm experience.

Her bare feet began to cross the heavy and warm stones beneath her steps, feeling as if they were baking in the hot desert sun, even without the presence of a star to warm them. The stair climb was exactly forty steps, each one somehow both weathered and frozen in time, a snapshot of some ancient place that was removed from the mortal world. As she climbed, torches ignited in blue flames; Shani-Ko had a flare for the dramatic. Daro’Vasora reached the stop and stepped through an archway flanked by two Pahmar, the tiger like Khajiit laying on individual dias, their coats taking on an ethereal glow. Ahead, a crescent shaped platform stood raised up above a smaller circular one, which she walked to stand upon. Those she needed were already waiting.

Shani-Ko, a massive Senche-raht sat towering over the others, over 4 meters from toe to the top of her head, her tiger-like face and form giving her a ferocious profile that Daro’Vasora could only see as a kindly woman who loved her family and seemed to have infinite patience. Looming yellow eyes stared down at the smaller woman, who regarded the Clan Mother fondly. Daro’Vasora’s lineage came from Shani-Ko, who had existed on Tamriel long before the men arrived from Atmora. She knelt before Shani-Ko, bowing her head in respect. “Clan Mother, this one is honoured to once again be in your presence.”

“There is no need for such deference, Ma’Khajiit. It has always been a special occasion when family comes to visit an old woman such as myself.” Shani-Ko smiled, allowing herself to lay down as to not be so monolithic and spare Daro’Vasora’s neck. “You are troubled and seek advice.” she mentioned.

“She only turns to us when it is convenient to remember that she is Khajiit and not Man. She prostates herself to the same Imperials that enslaved our people and wretched Leyawiin from us. She is ashamed of who she is, and she idolized those that have taken so much from us.” a much more scornful voice came from Shani-Ko’s right, a male Cathay that was of the same breed Daro’Vasora was, his spotted grey coat was comparable to her own. “Or did these Nibanese men reward you for putting aside your people and culture to embrace their own? Have you forgotten they were the ones that slaughtered Maakro-ra when they subjugated Leyawiin?” he demanded.
A ghostly image apparated before Daro’Vasora of the same Khajiit being dragged across the floor towards a man dressed in the distinctive armour of an early Septim dynasty officer from the 2nd era, after the Three Banners War and the beginning of the unification era under the new Empire. The Khajiit starred defiantly at the officer.

“Surrender the garrison and your people will be spared.” The man requested calmly.

“Merrunz take you.” the Khajiit snarled. The defiant look quickly faded as the broad blade was thrusted into his throat, covering it with blood that spurted from his mouth. The image faded away, like sand blowing across a street. Daro’Vasora rolled her eyes.

“Ah yes, this one recalls that particular image. You must be fond of it, esteemed elder, since you show it to me each and every time Daro’Vasora comes to speak with you.” She remarked dryly. Maakro-ra snarled in response.

“And as many times as it takes, Ma’Khajiit. You continue fraternizing with these men and forgetting what your ancestors have done to ensure you have that choice! You have known nothing but peace and comfort until now, and you forget that the reason you were not born into bondage and servitude is because of the sacrifices of those who came before.” Maakro-ra replied angrily.

“Should this one hold the successors of the men who murdered you accountable of actions of those born thousands of years before, or should she appreciate the peace that the honourable ones have made in the years since?” Daro’Vasora asked. “The Empire that exists today is not the Septims, this one was not even born when Martin Septim died to save Tamriel from Merrunz. Did he not redeem the actions of his ancestors with that sacrifice? What would appease you, Maakro-ra? Submitting herself to the whims of the fucking Thalmor like Pelletine and Anequina seemed eager to do?” she stood, not wishing to show deference to this man. She crossed her arms defiantly.

“Insolence.” Maakro-ra stated, lips curling over the left side of his teeth. “The High Elves have always given the Khajiit autonomy and treated us as partners rather than servants.” he didn’t seem to have a retort for her other points.

“You died two Aldmeri Dominions ago, elder. Try to keep informed. Much like the men of today are not like the ones who came before, the High Elves of today have taken a darker path that only promises suffering for all who fall under their banner. But Daro’Vasora is not a citizen of the Kingdoms, she has much more pressing matters than what megalomaniac elves have planned for the continent.” Daro’Vasora said, turning back to Shani-Ko. “Today, the Deep Elves of the North have returned, and this one feels responsible for what they’ve done. Mighty cities have fallen, the Empire might be shattered, and this one fears the Thalmor will continue to take advantage of this chaos to press their own machinations.”

“Good. Let the Empire fall.” Maakro-ra interrupted defiantly. It was the Senche-raht that snarled, silencing the Cathay into submission, her vocals making the chamber echo, even with the open stars above.

“Continue, child.” Shani-ko assured Daro’Vasora.

“This one has tried to fight them, they killed her mentor and friend, who was family to her. The loss has split this one’s heart, and she fears for the family she has left in Leyawiin. However, she knows she cannot make it home because of this war, so she must continue along a path, but none are bright. There is an obligation to those she survived the Jerall Mountains with, and her heart feels drawn to a Breton man that had protected and saved her from the Falmer, a legacy of Dwemer cruelty. This one wants vengeance, but it has cooled after seeing their capacity of cruelty and unimaginable power. Baan Daar has guided her hands and feet, she is sure of it, but even his blessings cannot account for every action taken against Daro’Vasora.

“She has also been requested to help another Imperial in his own personal quest to save his own family while hurting the Dwemer, and a former partner has requested this one’s services again to hunt for relics belonging to civilizations that no longer exist, and she admits it has an appeal and familiarity. This one is torn between doing what she knows would be just and looking after her own interests. “ Her hands wrung together, and she had to resist fidgeting.

“She does not wish to die or dishonour Zegol by throwing her life away, but she has skills and experience that might make a difference against the Dwemer as Gregor has pointed out. Latro has been kind and affection towards this one, and has done more to help her than anyone in some time. Judena is a friend and more wise than Daro’Vasora in things of historical value, and with her corrupted memory, she may be lost to this war and Tamriel would be poorer for it.” She paused, looking up at Shani-ko pleadingly. “This one does not know which path to follow.”

Another voice apparated to the Senche-raht’s left. “If I might interject, you’ll have to forgive Maakro-ra for his distrust. His circumstances were far different than most others; I feel he would have learned to love the world you inhabit if given the chance.” The man was Darenja the Intrepid, an Ohmes who was a handsome individual with bold features and a warrior’s braid of long blonde hair trailing out behind his head while his face and temples were covered in feline-reminiscent tattoos. They were his only features that distinguished him from a Bosmer, and his cross between Khajiiti and Bosmeri fashions only led to the visual dissonance.

“I served in the Three Banner War under Queen Ayrenn, a most honourable and beloved ruler, and I had been assigned as a liaison to our Bosmeri allies to the East to promote integration and trust between our people, who had suffered from great wars in the past. What made the First Aldmeri Dominion so powerful was it was an alliance built on respect and mutual support, and Ayrenn was a champion for all of our people. She could have easily have stood for Summerset and her own people, but she moved the Dominion’s capital to Elden Root and personally oversaw the resolution of numerous internal crisis of each of our three people.” Darenja brought a fist down into a palm. “It made us powerful and unified. I was honoured when I was asked to serve alongside our Bosmeri allies, and with them, they learned how to think and fight like a Khajiit, and I like them. Together, we shared our cultures and our dreams, I even took a Bosmer to be my wife. We served on both sides of our borders, and into Cyrodiil. Where the Daggerfall Covenant was based around Breton dominance and distrust in outsiders, and the Ebonheart Pact was filled with three races who mutually hated one another and only fought towards a mutual goal out of necessity, the Dominion was a force of cohesion and respect, only made stronger by allowing ourselves to be enriched by our allies.”

Darenja smiled, looking fondly at Daro’Vasora. “That’s one thing you’ve never understood or appreciated about yourself, Daro’Vasora. Maakro-ra is right in one regard; you have been ashamed of who you are ever since you earned your honourific; you have always thought it meant thief, like a badge of shame. Daro means you are nimble of fingers and quick of your tongue; you’ve had incredible wits about you and true, while much of the title was earned from your manipulation of locks, it does not mean that you are forever branded a thief like you feared. It has turned your heart cold to others, and trust is not something that comes easy to yourself.

“It has made you reject the skin you wear in your pursuit of identifying by the Cyrodiilic culture that you were born into. Without realizing it, you honour the Khajiit you are by the curiosity and pursuit of knowledge that drives you, and the nimble lifting of artifacts without being burdened by worry of if it’s wrong. You treat your life as if there is one side to sow and cultivate while letting the other wither and die because you feel cursed by the fur and claws that people see when they gaze upon you. Without realizing it, you’ve justified your actions to anything but the Khajiit you are, and it has created a chasm in your soul that can be mended by realizing that you do not have to embrace either Imperial or Khajiit at the expense of the other; your body and your mind will be whole when you learn they are one in the same. You feel that Imperial means order while Khajiit means chaos, and to follow that path, you sacrifice everything you’ve worked for.” he shook his head, making a flippant gesture.

“Nonsense; you’ve followed our gods since the day you were born, and you never just introduced yourself as Vasora to strangers.” He swept his arm across the chamber, grinning broadly. “You remember how to come here and speak to those who came before, sometimes fondly, other times rudely, but never boringly. If you learned to accept yourself and find peace, and stopped driving others away from you, your mind with be much more decisive. You know in your heart what you must do, but it seems to me every time you’ve found yourself lost or facing failure, it’s because you rejected the obvious solutions that the cultures that define you would have created. You struggle over whether or not to accept this Roux’s offer; that is the Imperial part of you entertaining it. Listen to the feline parts of you that lead you here this evening, Daro’Vasora. Embrace the wits that define you.”

“This one… she will think of what you have told her, Darenja.There is wisdom to be heard.” Daro’Vasora said to the Ohmes, placing a balled fist into a flat hand, bowing towards him, trying to hide the tears that had begun to well up in her eyes. She didn’t want to lose her composure, not here. She had to keep a clear mind, unimpeded thoughts.

“Look to me, Ma’Khajiit.” A deep and rich feminine voice called to her. She looked towards Shani-ko, who gazed down upon her with an almost motherly gaze. “You struggled to find your place in Leyawiin, among your family. It felt confining to you because the part of you you suppress wanted to see the world and find her own identity, even though if you applied yourself, you could have found success and honour in the Imperial courts. But that is not what it means to be Daro’Vasora, is it? The lesson you took from that, after you earned your honourific and were sent by your father to live with Zegol was that something shameful existed within you that made your family ashamed.” The large Senche-raht stood and walked towards Daro’Vasora, reaching out and gently taking her face into a single large toe, a surprisingly natural gesture from someone of such a great stature.

“They have always been proud of you, and while they miss you terribly, they knew that you would find your own path. You will find a warm hearth any time you return to them, and feel the love you’ve left out of your heart for the years since, that you’ve reserved for so few. These people, these friends of yours, do not turn your back on them and discard them like so many others. Walk the path your heart tells you and you will never make a wrong step; should you choose, and should you learn to trust and embrace those around you again, you could do great things, Daro’Vasora. Great accomplishments are in your future, and you can make a difference to so many lives. Do not feel responsible for the course that history has taken, but you have allowed fear and guilt steer you; allow yourself to feel brave and compassionate.”

Her form, along with the chamber, began to lose focus and shift. “It is time for us to part ways once more, Daro’Vasora.” Shani-ko said solemnly, her great maw smiling compassionately at the young woman who was one of those in her line that still had a long journey before finding her way to the sands beyond the stars. “This one loves you, and will be with you, even if you cannot see her.”

“Maakro-ra loves you, and he knows you will find the right path.”

“As do I, I eagerly await what tales will be spoken of Daro’Vasora in the years to come.”

“Go now, Ma’Khajiit.” Shani-ko said, chuckling softly, more of her body shifting into sand like an hourglass in its final seconds. “May your roads lead you to warm sands.”

Everything shifted and blew away suddenly, and Daro’Vasora found herself staring at the stone wall and wooden frame window in front of her, the euphoric numbness that she had felt for who-knows-how-long faded with each ebbing heartbeat. The warmth and comfort she felt was replaced by a shivering cold that she felt, her naked body shaking on the floor as the moon sugar withdrawal took hold. Tears streamed down her face as she began to sob.

“She loves you.” she managed with the slightest of breaths, feeling utterly alone and lost.
Evening, 21st of Second Seed, 4E208
Anvil, inside the Frisky Dolphin

Still lost in thought, Gregor found that his wandering feet had taken him to a tavern and he blinked a few times to let his eyes acclimatize to the moody lighting inside, the door swinging shut behind him. He cast a practiced, habitual glance at the patrons and took a double take when he recognized someone -- the Khajiit from their ragtag group, the same one he’d tended to at Elenglynn and who had fallen out with Rhea so ferociously outside the city gates. She looked the way he felt. Unaware of the conversation that Daro’Vasora had just had with Roux but intrigued by the pouch, the modest tower of coins on the table and her brooding appearance, Gregor approached at a languid pace and offered her his most winning smile.

“Hello again, Daro’Vasora,” the Imperial said and inclined his head in greeting. “May I sit with you?”

Looking up to see Gregor approach, one of the few survivors from the Rangers, Daro’Vasora was surprised to see him appear to be so… cheerful. She gestured across from him as her eyes scanned over the parchment in front of her, deciding what was worth eating and what was likely to cause gastrointestinal distress the next morning. “Be my guest. To what do I owe the honour?” she asked flatly, glancing up only occasionally from the menu.

Gregor accepted graciously, sat down opposite the Khajiit and began to relieve himself of the swords he carried on his person, setting them aside beneath the table. While the unhurried and pleasant expression on his face remained, his slow and cumbersome movements betrayed more weariness and fatigue than he was readily willing to admit, and there was no hiding the bags beneath his eyes. Gregor noticed Daro’Vasora had obtained new clothes -- his own outfit and armor remained the same, immaculately cared for; the stains of Dwemer blood had been washed out already.

“Coincidence, really,” he said and settled into his seat properly. “I wasn’t looking for you in particular. Now that you’re here, though, I do have a question for you. You see, I’m a little… lost, myself,” Gregor continued and he rubbed his brow with his left hand. “I wanted to fight against the Dwemer and help defend my homeland but recent events have made it perfectly clear such thoughts are wishful thinking. We are not prepared for this.” He paused and cleared his throat -- he looked much more serious now. “I’ve gathered you’re something of an expert on the Dwemer. What do you think? What are you going to do next?”

Propping an elbow up on the table, she rested her cheek against a balled fist. “The sentiment is similar. I’d forsaken rationality for the sake of vengeance, and in the end, what did we accomplish? Wipe out a minor scouting outpost? As soon as they were prepared for us, it was like Imperial City all over again.” She sighed, glancing around for something to chew on. “The Legion’s best in Imperial City was discarded like a plaything, I think the idea of changing tactics to more hit and run style was worth a shot, but ultimately, the risk is too great. We lucked out because they got complacent, and we figured we’d had a shot against them, but now we’re fighting on their terms, and every time that happens, there’s no winning.”

Deciding on a few gulps of brandy, she mused for a few minutes, trying to figure out how to answer his next question. “I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do now. I lost mostly everything, and I want to regain some sense of normality. I just don’t know how to do that with what’s going on. You? What would you do in my situation, or your own?”

While Daro’Vasora thought about what she was going to say, Gregor ordered something to drink (wine) and a bite to eat (a cheese platter). He was polite and well-mannered enough to simply let her think, so he leaned back in his seat and folded his hands in his lap until she spoke and posed a question back to him. His eyebrow twitched in annoyance but he managed to keep his expression in line. She was steering the conversation away from what he wanted by implying that she wanted to escape from the conflict. Coward, a cold (and somewhat hypocritical) part of him thought.

“You won’t find that anywhere,” Gregor replied darkly and took a slow, measured sip of his wine, staining his lips crimson. “Tamriel is at war. The Dwemer won’t stop at Cyrodiil. We’re not capable of fighting them now but that is no reason to attempt to retreat back into your old life.” He paused, frowned, and when he continued, his pleasant tone had disappeared entirely and been replaced by something hard and unyielding. “I’m disappointed, Daro’Vasora. You’re an accomplished dungeoneer, highly knowledgeable about the Dwemer, which means you’re far more important to the war effort than the average Khajiit, and here you are instead, thinking about the things that you’ve lost instead of the greater good. I’ll readily admit that the Dwemer that came back are a far cry from the ones that left Tamriel all those years ago, but who’s to say that the secret to defeating them doesn’t lie in their past?”

He shifted in his seat and pushed away his cheese platter so that he could lean forward, resting his elbows on the table, his dark eyes gazing intently in Daro’Vasora’s. It was obvious now that Gregor’s sheepish uncertainty of earlier had been a facade -- he knew exactly what he wanted. “In your situation I would put that clever wit and knowledge of yours to good use in deciding where to find the answers we need. I certainly wouldn’t turn my back on the Empire in search of ‘normality’.”

The Khajiit’s expression remained impassive, she just slowly emptied the glass as Gregor went on a suddenly impassioned tirade to, what, goad her into action? While she considered herself culturally Imperial, Gregor perhaps embodied the over-zealous nature that seemed all too common in the guards. “Oh, so you’re the expert now; you know exactly what range and capabilities they have. You should know one thing about armies, it’s that they shouldn’t overrun their supply lines. That alone tells me they can’t be everywhere. Save your disappointment, it’s unbecoming for a stranger to try and pressure someone to die for a cause that only they believe in.” she rolled her eyes, watching as a small loaf of bread and a serving of salmon were headed her way. The waiter put it down before her, and refilled the brandy. She slid a pair of Septims his way, which were taken with gratitude before he disappeared to the back.

“What is the greater good, hm? An Empire forged from the bones of Tiber Septim’s ruthless conquest, or maybe the Dwemer see themselves as the heroes for reclaiming their birthright? I heard a phrase long ago when I was a child that always resonated with me; Wars only work if both sides think they’re righteous.” She picked off a chunk of the bread and chewed it for a few moments, staring Gregor back in the eyes the entire time, unblinking, no passion of fires behind the feline slits.

“I’ve passed on what I know to the Legions, you’re also making some rather rash judgements on what the Dwemer are and aren’t capable of; their technology isn’t remarkably different than what historical artifacts suggest. The only thing that makes this particularly brutal is that nobody alive has ever had to fight it. I do best when I’m digging up old artifacts and making sense of my discoveries, not waiting to die as sword fodder for someone else’s war. I don’t wear the armour of the Legions, I didn’t swear fealty to Emperor Mede, and I certainly don’t owe allegiance to lofty ideals set by those who lord over us. Songs are written about conquerors and great heroes, not the thousands that died for them to achieve that dream. Go ahead, name any random conscript from the Great War. Unless you know them, you can’t.

“And that’s the problem, Gregor; I’m not prepared to be forgotten to history because someone else’s war fell on our doorstep. I’ll honour my mentor by doing what he taught me to do, and maybe if I find anything worthwhile, I’ll pass it along to the war effort. You don’t become an expert at something if you just… don’t do it in favour of some foolish notion a war can be won entirely by sword and shield.” she said with a dismissive wave of the hand.

Like snow melting in the sunlight, Gregor's chiding look vanished and was replaced by a smile from one second to the next. “Fair enough,” he said casually and moved his cheese plate back in front of him as he relaxed into his seat again. He broke eye contact to pick at the cheese with his fork and took a few bites, appearing to thoughtfully evaluate his food. Internally, he was screaming. Daro’Vasora had no idea who she was talking to, being the next person in a long line of people over the last decade to be deceived into thinking he was an upstanding citizen -- that was precisely his intention, but Gregor was tired and pulled taut and a part of him yearned to interact with someone earnestly instead of always having to play these games.

The Pale Reaper hushed him to be quiet.

“I'm not suggesting you should be a soldier, by the way,” Gregor said at length and looked up again. “You would obviously be wasted as sword fodder. I'm just saying the Empire needs all the capable help, in any capacity, that it can get. You're smart, Daro'Vasora, you know the Dwemer better than most. What are their weaknesses? Where did they come from? Where would you go to find out? And if you don't care about the Empire, fine. Care for its people. My family is in the line of fire, for example. But disregarding even them -- do it for yourself. You know who won't be forgotten to history? The treasure hunter who discovered how to beat the Dwemer. History doesn’t remember the countless dead, true, but it also doesn’t remember those who ran from the great conflicts of their time.” Gregor's smile widened and he took another long sip of wine, carefully observing her reaction over the edge of his goblet.

Her eyes widened, disposition changing to something decidedly more childish and excitable. “Oh, really? Maybe they’ll make me a statue and children will pretend to be me when I’m long decomposed!” she let out a feminine giggle before her face returned to its default sardonic expression. “You completely misunderstand my point. People get goaded into this shit all the time, all across history, because the very small handful of leaders and divinely chosen heroes make promises of glory and honour, riches, a nation of their own, women, blah blah blah..” she rolled her eyes, taking another large bite out of her meal.

“Look, Gregor, I really don’t care about what happens to most people because everyone dies eventually and trying to stop major regional events is like standing in front of a boulder that’s crashing down a hill to save your friend. You may believe you can stop it, and who knows? Maybe a few trees will catch it and change its course. But more often than not, you and your friend are going to die.

“I’m pragmatic; I care only about my little world. If it’s not some damned deep elves, it’ll be the Dominion, or a future Emperor with a mental tick and delusions of grandeur. All of them will be washed away in time, for someone like me to dig through their precious junk and pawn it off like it’s worth a few drinks and maybe some new clothes. Sentiment is meaningless, but people pay a lot for it.” she paused, swirling her glass in thought. “So tell me; do you honestly think you’re going to stand in the way of an army from hurting your family, or would the smart thing to do would be beat them to it and get them away before the storm hits? How many Legionnaires do you suppose marched off to war to find out they can’t rush home to protect their family from a well-executed counter offensive? What are you going to do that saves your family?” she asked, starring with interest at the Imperial’s face. Was he all hubris and nationalism, or was there a sense of self in there, she wondered.

Gregor has obviously spent too much time in Skyrim, he realised. Daro'Vasora's pragmatic cynicism was the polar opposite of the reckless and daring Nords that he had become used to. Gregor hated it. She was being smart and careful, which meant she was entirely uncooperative, and she had interpreted his words in a way that made her think he was an idiot. He said nothing at first as a look of simmering resentment passed over his face, his exhaustion preventing him from masking his emotions as he usually did. He clenched his jaw and ground his teeth and then finally sighed relentingly.

“It’s more complicated than you think,” he said, lowering his voice and leaning in closer. “I have my own, very good reasons to stay involved in this war. The Dwemer… have something I need. Something valuable that they’re not very much willing to part with. You know what they’re like.” He opened his mouth to continue but closed it again. How could he explain this to Daro’Vasora without actually explaining it to her? He looked more forlorn than ever. “I can’t tell you what it is but I need it to save my family and myself from a fate worse than death. And I need help.”

That certainly hit a nerve, and while Daro’Vasora was content to bask in a smug victory against the blatant manipulation attempt, his sudden earnestness caught her off guard. She regarded him with a steady gaze, attempting to scry Gregor’s rugged features for more deception. She came up short.

At last, she replied, “What could the Dwemer possibly offer you that you cannot find elsewhere?” she asked. “Why do you think this could save your family, and why come to me for this? I studied the ancient ruins and technology, all of this living Dwemer business is entirely new and unknowable for me as it is for you.” she replied, shifting in her seat and feeling somewhat taken aback by Gregor’s change of tact. This didn’t feel like him trying to change tact to convince her to join him, instead it felt like he pulled back a layer of himself and exposed a raw part of his being for her to pry into. While she understood that having someone with some familiarity with the Dwemer was probably a wise course of action, what she couldn’t figure out what was exactly he was after.

And there they were, the prying questions Gregor had dreaded as soon as he had finished speaking. There was no other option than to lie about it -- he only needed to get close enough to a Dwemer lord, after all. The precise details of what he was looking for could be fabricated, if he was able to think quickly now. As if on cue he was struck by a jolt of inspiration and Gregor moved conspiratorially even closer to Daro’Vasora before answering her questions. “A cure,” he whispered. This wasn’t strictly true, of course, but it was the ultimate goal of his journey, and he had discovered previously that lies worked best when they contained a coating of truth. “My family is cursed with a degenerative disease that robs us of our minds when we reach middle age. I watched my father waste away because of it. He died within a few months after his brain forgot how to breathe. The priests call it Vaermina’s Theft. The alchemists have a… different name for it. And even the mages of the Arcane University know of it. What they all have in common is that they have no cure. My father’s last few years on this world were spent exploring every available avenue to him, to no avail. The last thing he found before he died was an old book about the Dwemer,” Gregor lied, his speech quickening as he wrapped himself up in the deception he was conconcting, “that claimed they were capable of great longevity and preservation of their minds.”

Gregor’s index finger had tapped the table with great force repeatedly to emphasize his last five words, and the feverish look in his eyes affirmed the utmost importance he placed on this (fake) discovery. “That’s what I need. I didn’t come to you specifically, Daro’Vasora -- I just ran into you here -- but I need the help of every expert on the Dwemer that I can find. I need to get my hands on an ancient Dwemer lord of some kind, one who might be likely to know their secrets. And then all I need to do is reach in,” he said breathlessly, his hand contorted into a claw-like shape, his gaze staring into the middle distance, “and take it.”

Reflexively, Daro’Vasora straightened her back as Gregor drew closer, finding the suddenly closing distance between the two somewhat uncomfortable and his words, reach in and take it made a chill run down the Khajiit’s spine. In all of her travels and studies, she had never come across anything resembling what this book Gregor claimed to have read contained, and for all she knew, it was a convincing fable or a fake that he had latched onto in desperation. Something in his tone and the intensity in his eyes startled her, and she found her hand resting on the table knife out of reflex. This was a side to the man that she had no idea lurked beneath the normally tranquil exterior, and she had no idea if it meant he was a crazed man or not. She had no reason to doubt that his motives, protecting his family were genuine, but something about him made her feel like he’d latched onto the most obscure thought out of desperation and reason had left him somewhere along the way. She could sense that the man was dangerous, and not just with his prowess with the large sword he carried.

“A cure.” She replied, looking around both in thought and for a potential escape route, if the need arose. She hoped that Baan Daar would provide an escape if needed and that she was misreading the whole situation. “Look, I sympathize with how you feel for your family, I’d just be careful not to put too much into an unverified source.” She said delicately, not wishing to trigger an intense reaction. “I, too, wish to see the Dwemer pay for what they’ve done, but I’ve never encountered anything like what you’ve described, and… ancient Dwemer? There’s no way of knowing if these are the same ones who disappeared ages ago or their distant ancestors without careful research to corroborate this thought. I feel you might be going about this irrationally, or with false hopes that your problems will find a tidy solution under a strict form.” Her teeth grounded together, and she definitely felt a bit nervous being across from him. What was this man willing to do to chase what might have been a false lead as if it were the only truth? “Please, do not be rash or think that you’ve found an answer without knowing for sure. Maybe they do have some sort of medicine you need, but that wouldn’t require anything more than finding one of their doctors. I’ll think about what you’re asking, but I really need to consider what my own family needs, and a fool of a daughter who is chasing the intangible certainly isn’t that.”

Gregor sighed. “Very well,” he said and sank back in his seat, suddenly deflated. “You said you’ll think about it, and that’s all I ask.” He sounded exhausted now, as if the impassioned confession had drained him entirely, and looked down at the table. After a few seconds, his eyes snapped back into focus and he saw the cheese platter he’d ordered and only taken a few bites of. He set about to devouring it now and interspersed his voracious bites with big swigs of wine. It seemed he had nothing more to say.

The shift in intensity was certainly welcome, although Daro’Vasora couldn’t help but feel pity for Gregor’s predicament. They sat in silence for a spell, and the Khajiit’s thoughts lingered on her sister, who was going to visit later in the month. Her family probably didn’t know she was still alive, and the realization stung. Picking up a fork, she took a few more bites from her meal before returning her gaze to Gregor. “It’s plain that your family’s dear to you or you wouldn’t be going through this insane quest of yours. Tell me about them.”

That made Gregor blink and look up. He thought for a few seconds, swallowed, and said: “My father’s name was Hector. He died… ten years ago. My mother, Gaia, I think is still alive, but I honestly don’t know. I haven’t been home in a long time. My younger brother Marcus took over my father’s business. And I have a sister, Julia. They’re good, honest, hard-working people. Our parents raised us well.” Then the image of a raven-haired woman with eyes like sapphires flashed through his mind’s eye and he visibly winced, absent-mindedly scratching his left forearm as he did so. “I left everything behind after my father died. As the oldest son it is my duty to finish my father’s quest and find a cure for us. It was his last request. If I don’t succeed, we’ll all end up like him, and that’s… I can’t let that happen. My family doesn’t know that’s why I left. They wouldn’t understand that this is what it takes. My father knew that only I would be capable of doing so, which is why he left this task to me.” Gregor smiled sadly and shrugged. “You must think I’m crazy. I promise you that I’m not. I know what I’m doing.”

“I don’t think you’re crazy, but the focus and drive might be. I understand and sympathize, I truly do. I just think that you may be so fixated on one potential option that you’re failing to see the danger, or discounting other courses of action.” she replied, blinking slowly and letting out a long exhale. “Perhaps there is merit to what you are proposing, and I don’t fault you for what you feel is the only shot at saving your loved ones, but take it from me; it’s when the treasure is in sight when you must truly be the most vigilant. If you let your guard down thinking you’ve overcome all of the obstacles, you may lose everything before you even touch the prize. I’ve plundered enough ruins to have known that’s a universal lesson that doesn’t just apply to treasure.”

Reaching over, the Khajiit placed a hand over Gregor’s, the pads of her hands resting gently upon his much smoother skin.

“All I’m trying to say is don’t act before knowing all the details, or you’ll have spent years away from Gaia, Marcus, and Julia for nothing and lost what little time with them you could have had left. I can’t promise anything, I need to do some soul searching to know what path I should take, but if I do decide to continue taking up arms against the Dwemer, I will help you try and find those answers you seek. Be brave, but not foolish.” she cautioned, her tone gentle while her gaze remained stern. She wasn’t one for smiling, so it tended to misdirect genuine sympathy for bluntness.

Part of Gregor felt like a young man again, the jewelsmith apprentice who lived in a cozy house with a wonderful wife in Bravil, ignorant of the hardships and cruelty of the world, when Daro’Vasora laid her hand on his and spoke her words of wisdom. He wanted to listen to her, to succumb to someone else’s ideas, let them take the lead in determining what the possibilities were and what risks he should take -- it had been such a heavy burden. But the iron core inside his mind wouldn’t allow it. That other part of him knew that Daro’Vasora’s advice was worthless. She had no idea what she was talking about. There were no other options left or Hector would have found them before he died. The lie that Gregor had spun for Daro’Vasora was actually somewhat plausible, now that he stopped to think about it, but she was right that it was a gamble and probably not even true. She didn’t know what Gregor was really planning, however, and that meant she was giving advice blindly. And that really annoyed that other part of him. Gregor could feel the resentment and the indignation simmering behind his eyes: who was this cat practically half his age to warn him of anything, who knew nothing of the true nature of his cause? If Gregor faltered now, he did not only risk his own family’s fate but also that of his very soul, for the gods would not be kind to him after everything that had happened. For a split second he imagined slamming Daro’Vasora’s arrogant face into the tabletop and condemning her to an eternity of suffering in the Soul Cairn. The moment passed as soon as it had come and Gregor, shaken, averted his gaze while pulling his hand back and into his lap.

“Of course,” he said softly. “I must keep an open mind. Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.” she replied, gesturing to the food. “Might as well eat. It’s not getting any warmer.”
The quick and dirty Dervs take:

-Free is a section mainly populated by novice your younger roleplayers who feel like it's a good starting point, or just like the easy going flow and lack of structure. I actually stopped roleplaying for years because my original forum's singular roleplay forum shifted into a series of short and fast posts (we're talking dozens a day and if you weren't online, you were left behind), and it's definitely not my speed or style. It's great if you want that kind of thing and something that's not far off from a chatroom style RP, but I feel like speed posting is the worst thing ever. It's a huge time commitment and it pressures you to not take any days off.

-Casual: The great generalist section that exists on a spectrum of people who should be writing in Free but fear the stigma of it to people who should be writing in Advanced but either think they aren't good enough writers for some reason or the pace is too slow (fair point there). In my mind, Casual should be the relaxed middle ground forum where players set up proper OOCs, have some standards that aren't usually detailed, and people write 2-4 regular sentences on average. I like the idea of that, but my experience with Casual's usually been that games have a hard time getting going, lax standards mean you end up with way more problem players or incompatible writing styles (e.g. opposite ends of the Free-Advanced spectrum), and a hard time retaining player interest. Not saying that's the norm, just personal experience. It's actually why I started writing in Advanced.

-Advanced: For people who want to make sure that most players are on a similar level of writing skill and view roleplaying more as collaborative writing instead of games. Higher standards for applying and usually a closer community due to the lower number of players, it's great for those of us who love long and detailed posts that evoke reading a novel or just some really insightful looks into the characters and descriptive imagery. While individual posts take longer to write, the posting rate is usually lower than other sections so if you have a busy life and can't post every single day, working on a parageaph or two every few days is a good way to go. It's not about being pretentious filler, like @Tex suggests, it's like a different style for people who want detailed posts that are more about the story than the game mechanics and actions. The argument that you can turn 8 paragraphs into 2 is missing the point entirely; just because it doesn't appeal to you doesn't mean it's not what other people want. Personally, I find short posts that are pretty much jut functional parts without much description or character insight kind of lifeless, but again, different tastes. I don't judge Free players for loving the kind of roleplaying that nearly killed my love for it years ago; they just want different things than I do. It's subjective, like music genres.

1x1: I love the idea of having a singular partner, I just never see anything that appeals to me. A lot of generic pairings, plot ideas that don't click for me/ seem a bit too catered for the thread poster, or forced canon characters just don't really click for me. If I do 1x1s, it's with people I've been writing with for a while for the most part, although that's not to say I don't look for new parters. Just the nature of most interest checks don't fit what I'm into.

Nation: No real opionions on this one since I haven't participated, I just worry that it becomes a real number cruncher and people might be in it to win it rather than just play a game for the sake of fun.

Arena: Again, no experience on the site. I just figure there's a sort of community rules and guidelines for who wins a fight, I'm not sure how I feel about profiles tracking win/lose ratios.

Tabletop: Never tried it, I know people were all but demanding it.
Nutty work week, I'll try to do something the next couple days.
Eriadu, the Ranosca Cantina…

Eriadu was one of those planets people just didn’t go to for any other reason than the fact it was a convenient pit stop sitting at the crossroads between two major hyperspace routes that could in just a few jumps get you to much more worthwhile destinations like Duros, Corellia, Kuat, Alderaan, or even the mighty jewel of the galaxy, Coruscant, although for Zekha, Eriadu was the next stop on the “Westward” route from his homeworld of Malastare, so the Dug had to admit he’d had somewhat of a bias and a small inkling of affection for the crap-heap that was Eriadu. It always meant that something much better was almost within reach, and being a junction world meant that it wasn’t hard to find clients who were desperate to pay far too many credits for jobs that could be completed by idiots.

“Help me get home.”

“Rescue my daughter.”

“Kill that cheating, low-life scruffy looking-“

“Hey, what are you doing, sleeping?”

That last one wasn’t the shrill, mocking tone Zekha usually conjured up when thinking of such requests, and instead he found himself staring back at a Rodian’s bug eyes from across the Sabacc table. The Rodian, some greatly bearded human, and an Abednedo who happened to be the least unpleasant of the group to look at were the last people sitting that table playing for a pittance of credits; it wasn’t a high stakes game, but Zekha fancied the idea of having his drinks and chubas comped by the degenerates that remained. He could cash out now with the pile of credit chits, but that would take the fun out of it. He lifted his cards up from the table, seeing he had -18. Only 5 off from a perfect hand and a risk to draw another card; the goal was to hit plus or minus 23 without going over.

Fortunately for Zekha, he was playing with his own deck, and with IT7 floating ominously over his shoulder, he had each imperfection on the cards that he’d put there almost invisibly cataloged and uploaded into the droid. He knew exactly what cards the others had, and the interrogation/ protocol droid relayed the information in a series of seemingly gibberish ticks and clicks that told Zekha what he needed to know. The trick was not being obvious about it, so the droid made infrequent chatter when it didn’t seem like it was feeding the Dug information, like when a hand was dealt or when he or another player were making a decision. The next card was a +7, which would utterly put him in a bad spot, and the next highest player was at 17. He’d won, again.

“What’s the matter? In a rush to check out the dancers? I know why you picked that seat, you lecherous mynock. Personally, I can’t stand the sight of those head-tentacle things, it’s off-putting and my partner is a Twi’lek.” He knocked on the table. He called.

The human and the Albednedo tossed their cards on the table, a fold. The Rodian set his 17 down, and Zekha didn’t even try to look relieved when he set down the -18. Groans of annoyance crossed the table, and Zekha swept up his earnings, shoving them into a pouch. He tossed a 5 credit chit to the Rodian. “Here you go, champ. For the dancers.” The Dug grinned obnoxiously with a perfect set of teeth and hopped off the stool, twirling another chit between his lower hand’s fingers. As he walked, far shorter than most of the other patrons of the cantina, which included a very lost and concerned-looking Wookiee, he spoke aloud to IT7, who would relay his voice to his previously mentioned partner. “Hey, Woosie, I think I found something you might be good at. Ever think of dropping in an application and giving me the ship?” he said, staring at the Twi’lek dancers as he passed by. “I got us a few credits, in my benevolence I’ll be at the bar, first one or two are on me, depending on if you want something hard or one of those disgusting cocktails you fawn over.”

Woosie, or Woorah if you’re nasty, and Zekha had partnered up around four months prior after one of the bounty hunter Great Hunts took place pitting them against each other to take down a Corellian crime boss that had only recently returned to his homeworld and thus opened a window to take him down. After an exchange of blaster fire and something of a cat and mouse hunt, with Woosie coming after Zekha with the brute force and lack of digression as a rancor verses Zekha’s much superior finesse and strategic mind, the two of them had eventually come to the realization that they were at an impasse and that their quarry was likely to slip away if they kept this up for much longer. While that didn’t cement an alliance, the arrival of a third bounty hunter, a Force-sensitive Zabrak named Zalgren that had been a pain in both of their asses for years, tried to exploit the assigned duel between the Twi’lek and Dug and take them both down at once; the contract was irrelevant to him. Zalgren’s reign of terror ended when he was lured into a scrap yard and was ambushed by a hastily reprogrammed grappler droid that contained the Zabrak long enough for the Mandalorian and the tinkerer to unleash absolute hell with four blaster pistols that didn’t leave much in the way of remains for identification. The two then agreed that turning Zalgren into a pulled-meat slurry qualified as satisfying the conditions of the Great Hunt and that a split payment beat their quarry getting away, so after a reluctant handshake, both went on to complete their job.

Since then, Zekha and Woosie were pretty much inseparable. She had a ship, a Plug 6 Heavy Freighter christened the Shriek Hawk, and Zekha was a wiz at starship engineering. It had never run better, if he was being modest. She was physically dominating and capable of negotiating contracts better than he was, given his abysmal temper and attitude, and she tolerated his droid tinkering since his engineering expertise often gave both of them an invaluable technological edge and a source of credits in a pinch. He was also, for obvious reasons, far more adept at taking down droids and fighting them, whereas she was the one who usually dealt with bigger organics that no amount of scrappy moxxy could overpower. Zekha would never admit it, but he honestly respected her and her capabilities. They worked well together, she took his banter in stride, and both of them relied on each other more than they often realized.

If only she wasn’t a flat-faced, miasma-coloured, Sarlaac-tentacle-headed monstrosity, he could have found her attractive. Oh well. He wasn’t shallow; he could appreciate her past that, if anything, someone could make a vid special on how selfless he was for looking past her obvious physical deformities based entirely on her species. What kind of dumb evolutionary pattern gave Twi’leks those stupid head tentacles that were so sensitive and packed full of nerves it caused crippling pain to even hit? It would be like having an arm made entirely out of testicles, something that clearly meant that you weren’t meant to exist but somehow you resisted the pull of destiny. It’s probably where Woosie got her tenacity from. She was tough despite her incredibly obvious weakness.

Zekha pulled himself up onto a stool meant for someone twice his height, but being a Dug meant getting used to a galaxy where nothing was his size, as such, he was surprisingly graceful of a climber in just about every situation. As slickly as possible he put himself up on the stool and slapped down a few credits on the granite counter. “Hey pal,” he called to the bartender. “Fix me up some chubas and one of those cocktails with the umbrellas, I’m celebrating something here.”

Daro’Vasora got to work immediately, and within a few short hours, she’d sat down for a chat with the Legionnaires, telling her of her experiences going as far back as the Imperial City, her findings and Elenglynn, and sharing some of the information from her notebooks and speculations. A scribe wrote furiously to try and keep up with the young woman who had managed to both fight and survive the Dwemer, as well as had a background studying their artifacts and ruins. She was all too happy to accept the fresh food they provided as she recounted her story, told of weaknesses she’d noticed, and the curious observation that on the whole, there didn’t seem to be any functional improvements on the Dwemer designs. For her troubles, she was given a surprisingly hefty coin purse and a Legate began to relay instructions to scholars and the combat engineers that populated the outer works. For her part, Daro’Vasora felt somewhat validated after the failures she’d endured since this whole mess began. Maybe people who were trained for this sort of thing could make use of what she knew.

For now, the first time in Alkosh knows how long, she was alone and not beholden to a group or another’s whim. What was going to be a lucrative contract turned out being an endless nightmare that cost Daro’Vasora her mentor, her home, and very nearly her life. She felt vulnerable and lost, but it wasn’t the first time she had to start from scratch. Zegol’s loss was the hardest, but she still had family back in Leyawiin. Maybe it was time to visit them?

One step at a time, Sora. You don’t have to decide anything today. she reminded herself, walking through the city gates and into the deceptively tranquil city proper. After the past few weeks, anywhere that wasn’t in the midst of a crisis seemed to be impossibly normal. Vendors were set up, mostly with wares designed to lure in tourists, and a few enterprising fishermen even brought up their catches from the docks to be the first ones people would run into. Jewelry was common, but what she really needed was some new clothing; most of hers was positively ravaged since Imperial City.

Walking the warm-breeze infused streets in search of a suitable place, Daro’Vasora’s eyes caught a sign that looked like it was likely copied from a dozen more successful businesses, and when she entered the shop, the clerk behind the desk appraised her disdainfully. Her words followed suit, to her credit. The Khajiit hated when people minced words.

“Beggars aren’t permitted here.” The greying, crow-eyed Breton’s nose wrinkled in disgust. “Please leave before I call the guards.” She stated.

Daro’Vasora didn’t heed the words, instead approaching the counter and slapping her mace down on it carelessly. It had obvious signs of being recently used. “People tend to look this way when you’ve been on the road and fighting a war you probably don’t think exists in your perfumed cadaver of a body. Look, I’ve been on the road since Skingrad, kindly pull that, ‘I wish I was highborn so I’m going to act like I think highborn behave’ act out of your ass. I’m a paying customer, although I can easily take my coin elsewhere and laugh when this place can’t make rent next month because lady, you need the business.”

The shopkeeper leered at her, appeared to consider saying something caustic, but between the mace, the Khajiit’s disposition, and the coin purse that was held aloft, she relented, instead offering a pen-thin smile that opposed her actual thoughts. “Very well, what can I do for you?”

After twenty or so minutes, Daro’Vasora managed to trade 45 Septims and one of her Dwemer-made bangles for a sleeveless embroidered scarlet tunic with black trim, a pair of simple black trousers, and a pair of sandals. Most of her coin from the guard was gone, but wearing something that made her feel like a person again was invaluable. It put her in a good headspace, she felt. Her old boots and more rugged clothing was now in a bag, carried in the same hand as her mace. Now she had to find somewhere to sleep for the night and find herself a bath to wash of the offensive reek that she was sure lingered in her fur.

There was a public bathhouse that the Khajiit recalled from one of her earlier visits to the city. Deciding that she could spare a few coins for the chance at some fresh water that wasn’t a lake or river and maybe, Divines willing, some soap, was worth it. It took another hour to find the place, and gladly walked inside, paying the entry fee of 5 Septims, shoving her belonging into a footlocker while picking up a bathrobe, a bar of soap and a key on a rope about her neck and heading into the large open-air, circular basin and stepping into the perfumed water, letting the grime and stress wash away as she sunk into the water, allowing her head to submerge for as long as she could fight her natural buoyancy. It was a sensation she’d gone far too long without, and almost symbolically, she drowned the road, the war, everything awful with it and emerged anew when she broke the surface to take in air.

After a few minutes of scrubbing down, a voice descended upon her. “Is that Daro’Vasora? My, it’s been quite some time.”

Knowing immediately who it was, her immediate loathing of Rhea was put aside in favour of the all-too-familiar piece of shit who was approaching her to the left. A ruggedly handsome Breton man with slicked back blonde hair, a square jaw with a neatly trimmed beard and an impossibly white smile to compliment his sea-blue eyes settled next to her, like nothing absolutely rotten happened between them. “Fuck you, Roux. I prayed to Baan Daar that you shattered your femur or got consumed by trolls, but I can see the Divines don’t give a shit about justice. Leave me in peace before I decide to claw your eyes out.” Her voice dripped with enough malice to stop a charging bear, but Roux wasn’t a bear. He was so much worse.

“That was so long ago, my dear. I can’t say I regret leaving you behind to claim the spoils myself, but I’d like to think the lesson was one that served you well. Can you say you’ve never done the same?” he asked.

“I’m not you. We both would have been rich off of that scepter, and it was my research that got us there.” She replied, remembering all too well that this was the same man who taught her the hard lesson about being able to cut ties, to expect betrayals, to never drink enough to lose your judgment. She’d learned a lot of hard lessons from Roux, and she got a damn lot more talented at her trade because of his betrayal. In a way, she became as talented and effective as she was because of him. She sunk down in the water deep enough that only her eyes were above the surface, a series of irritated bubbles popping in front of her.

“True,” Roux conceded, “But alone I was quite a bit richer. You grew from the experience, I trust. I’d apologize, but we both know that would be empty. However, in my recent expeditions, I’ve discovered that good partners are hard to come across, so while we can’t change the past, perhaps there’s a way to alleviate the indignation at my hand. I’ve a proposition for you, if you’re willing to suffer me a few moments. I’ll make even speaking worth your while.”

“Leave me alone, you’ve got nothing to offer me.” Daro’Vasora shot back, ears folded back and teeth bared. “You’re a backstabbing piece of shit who can’t do anything without riding off of others’ success.”

“Perhaps, perhaps not. What isn’t deniable is that I’m wealthy and well connected, but here isn’t the time or place to speak of business. I’ll leave you to your thoughts, but I trust you need a place to stay tonight?” he raised a hand to cut her off from retorting. “I’m not offering to share a room, or a hotel. Simply offering a small concession for your time, is all. Meet me at the Frisky Dolphin in two hours. I hope you’ll permit me the chance.” He said, departing Daro’Vasora’s company by departing the bath and gathering his own robe. She hated that she was even considering what he had to say.

Daro’Vasora walked through the doors of the Frisky Dolphin and seated at a corner table was Roux, who was with a pair of associates who met his gaze and stood up to leave, passing by the Khajiit on their way out. He raised a heavily ringed hand in greeting; knowing him, every single one of them were enchanted. Daro’Vasora pulled up a seat, and a waiter came over immediately, placing a glass of brandy in front of both of them. True to his word, Roux shoved a large pouch towards her. Opening it revealed a mixture of gemstones and coins, the value would be quite substantial.

“There’s more where that came from, provided you agree to what I have to say. I’ve heard about what happened to Imperial City, and I see that you’re here alone, so I wanted to offer my deepest condolences and hope that this stipend could help you find your footing again. I am truly sorry for your loss,” he bowed his head respectfully. “Forgive me if I’m mistaken or running to inaccurate conclusions, but you’ve lost your mentor in the attack?”

The Khajiit nodded slowly, mixed feelings filling her heart. Roux, to his credit, actually looked genuinely crestfallen. “I’d feared that, and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you today. I’d hoped you’d been on a new expedition when the attack happened, but I can see in your eyes you were in the middle of it all. I won’t pretend to know the pain you carry, and I’ve never wished you ill or ruin. I was selfish, and I can’t say I wouldn’t make the same decision today, but I always felt you were far too trusting. Greed got the better of my judgment, and since then, we’ve often competed for the same prizes.” He grinned ruefully. “It’s been a compelling and lively rivalry, wouldn’t you agree?”

“The only difference is I’m better than you ever were. I just never cared about the coin like you did.” Daro’Vasora stated, her fingers drumming irritably on the wooden table, her nails clicking with each tap. Roux’s grin didn’t falter.

“Perhaps you are. Regardless, I’m pleased you’ve become quite capable. It’s that capability that I’m counting on. You’ve always been something of an expert on the lost elves, whereas my specialty has been the world of men. What if I proposed to you that I’ve a lead on one of the first great Yokudan settlements in Hammerfell, and that I’ve reason to believe that it may contain artifacts belonging to the Sinestral Elves?”

“Why should I believe anything you’ve got to say to me?” Daro’Vasora replied warily.

“Because I believe in second chances, and I’ve tried to present myself in as good faith as possible. I’ve been honest and didn’t lie about my past actions to try and alleviate the blow.”

“You literally said you’d likely pull the same stunt again.” She retorted.

“True, if we were in the same position we were in back then. Now I’ve begun to see value in how you always sought accreditation rather than pursuing wealth, and after enjoying the spoils of my finds, and other partnerships over the years, I’ve come to realize that wealth on its own can be somewhat mundane; experience and knowledge are a far more valuable resource. I wasn’t actively searching for you in particular, but I’ve been in need of someone who understands lost elves better than most, and I’ll be damned if you aren’t one of the best at navigating ruins. What I propose is this; should you join me, I will give you claim to all of the Sinestral elf artifacts that may be present, and if not, you may have your pick of any of the Yokudan artifacts present. It would be my way of apologizing for earlier in a tangible way, and perhaps open the doors for future partnerships.”

The Khajiit grunted, staring off towards the room’s central firepit. “I don’t trust you, and I’ve just come out of a rather disastrous partnership. My trust doesn’t come easily.”

“Of course, and that is why I will give you three days to decide. I have a modest ship, the Cypher, docked. At sunrise in three days, I will be departing with or without you. If it helps you, you may bring any associates of yours you may have that you trust.” He exposed the palms of his hands, as if to reveal he was concealing nothing. “There is nothing more I can do to express my intentions. Consider my proposition at your leisure, but in the meantime, I will leave you to your own devices.” He stood, raising his glass. “To Zegol and our potential partnership.” He toasted. He drank the glass back, whereas Daro’Vasora didn’t touch hers. Roux straightened out his tunic and gestured to the clerk.

“I’ve taken care of your accommodation for the next three nights, I told the clerk I don’t wish to know the room number and only you will know it when you tell him your name. I’m staying aboard the Cypher should you require me for any reason.” With a bow, he departed, leaving a small stack of Septims on the table to presumably pay for a meal. Either he was genuinely trying to help, or flaunting his success. It wasn’t until after he departed that Daro’Vasora waved the barkeep over, saying simply, “Menu, please.”
F ^2
@ihinka I realized I could have responded to your earlier post, I was just in a rush. I'll edit it in tomorrow!
@Andromedai Of course! I felt bad for not being able to sooner. D:
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