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Splinters and Blisters

A Greenish Dervie doohickey
Morning, 18th of Sun’s Height, 4E208


The axe buried itself into the upright log, wedging itself only about as long as the blade into the wood rather than splitting nicely. “Son of a bitch.” Daro’Vasora growled at the defiant piece of lumber, before lifting the axe with the log stuck to it and driving it down again, driving the split further, and again until the two ends split entirely and popped off. Dutifully, she tossed the two ends into a hand cart before picking up another log and setting it on the felled trunk that had been used for this purpose for divines-knows how many years.


The axe came down again, the wood nearly splitting into two this time from the first blow. She had woken early, rolling over once more and discovering Finnen was no longer at her side and her tent was cold and empty without his presence.


Her hands ached, they always did when she split wood. It didn’t matter how many times she did it, either out on her own at a camp, or with others. How many times had she been the one to create the stockpile of wood for the evenings crossing the mountains? Bigger, stronger, and much more macho individuals always offered to do it, but sometimes, she had some things to work out.


The pain around her neck was gone, but she still felt Finnen’s hands grasped around her neck. Pale-feather had nearly taken her life, using her lover to do his dirty work. If only she fucking listened, she thought bitterly, tossing more wood into the wagon. Maybe the group wouldn’t be fragmented. Maybe Raelynn wouldn’t have abandoned her and dragged Fjolte with her. It just affirmed to Daro’Vasora that maybe she shouldn’t get people involved in her life, they couldn’t betray her or abandon her that way. At this rate, she’d be marching upon Red Mountain alone, with everyone either being dead or abandoning her when she didn’t want to be alone.

Sure, they checked up on her, the poor girl who was nearly murdered by the one she loved. She brushed them away, saying she was fine. She wasn’t, really. She just couldn’t afford to be the reason people left, like she usually was. What was the balance between being a good person who was at the mercy of others’ intentions and the hard-hearted bitch that shielded herself from others with scorn and mockery. She had always had to be the smartest person in the room, to prove herself unimpeachable in her talents and logic. It was a game to her, to rip into others’ insecurities or slips of tongue to bring them down to the size she always felt deep down.

Daro’Vasora, famed treasure hunter, explorer, and researcher, a 25-year-old girl who still felt like she had to impress her parents enough, to prove that she was worth more than being a shitty teenager who stole and soiled their reputation from her actions. She wanted nothing more than to be loved and appreciated, to not feel ashamed of who and what she was. Her slit eyes, her long tail, the claws in her hands, the coat of fur. It always made her different, always made her loathed.

Roux wasn’t the first person to betray her trust, to abuse her. Finnen wouldn’t be the last, either. She was just a damn fool for thinking someone like Raelynn would actually like her, and see past her being nothing more than a stupid fucking cat.


It didn’t matter, not really. In a few weeks, none of it would. Would people think about her, after the deed was done? Would she make her parents proud? Would Raelynn tell people in her high society life that she was proud to have been a close friend to Daro’Vasora? What about the history books that Daro’Vasora grew up reading, and still did to this day? What would they say about her?

So many questions, and not enough answers.


"Sora?" The sudden voice was a familiar one, and it wasn't long before Megana had found her way to where the Khajiit woman was chopping wood. She had returned to her tent the previous night and slept away the effects of both the mead and her tiredness in general. She hadn't realized she had been so tired until she woke up from what seemed like a dreamless night of only a few minutes to discover the night had passed and the sun had already risen. Pulling herself from her bedroll had been a task, but when she realized where she was and recalled the events of the previous night, a little energy returned to her.

Leaving her tent and wandering through Falkreath, she had hoped to see some familiar faces- she hadn't really had a chance to catch up with her friends save Calen and Judena, and even just two days apart without knowing their fates had been hard; thank Stendarr Zaveed had been there, even though she hated that the dwemer had hurt him.

Seeing the familiar figure of Daro'Vasora labouring over the logs of wood reminded her of the conversation from the previous night, though really she knew nothing. From what she could tell, the khajiit looked preoccupied in her work and thoughts- Meg couldn't help but wonder what sort of thoughts those might be given the little she had heard. And so no longer hesitating, she now stood a few feet from her friend.

"Ye- you're sure busy," she commented, arms wrapped around herself as she watched. "How're you doing? I sure missed y'all!"

The voice broke through the chaotic dark cloud that had enveloped Daro’Vasora’s mind, and when she looked up to see who was speaking, she saw a light shine through. A mixture of emotions flooded her, and she struggled to maintain composure. “Megana… I- I heard you were safe, that you came back. And…” she paused, trying to steady her breathing to calm herself. “And I didn’t dare believe it was true. I couldn’t take it if it wasn’t true.” she said quietly, the axe slipping from her fingers as she slumped down on the log, the strength failing her limbs. Her eyes were unfocused, and long, slender fingers worked through a knot in her mane.

“Are you okay?” the Khajiit asked after a few moments of collecting herself.

It wasn't hard for Meg to see that Daro'Vasora was barely being able to keep her inner emotions from spilling out, and she could understand why. If she had missed the the group so much, then how would the khajiit woman fair any better when her lover and two friends were missing, along with herself? Meg's mouth trembled a little, feeling pain for the woman standing before her. Perhaps she was their leader, but she was still a person with feelings, someone who needed as much comfort as anyone else.

"Oh Sora." She headed over, and without another word she wrapped her arms around her friend, holding her close. "I am okay, please don' worry 'bout me. I found my way back with Zaveed- there was no way we would’ve stopped searchin' 'til we found y'all."

She didn't let go as she continued. "But what 'bout you Sora? You... I don' think you're okay."

Daro’Vasora was surprised by the embrace, but she returned it readily, appreciating the physical connection and warmth. Her eyes remained unfocused over Megana’s shoulder.

“You’re certainly observant. I’m… coping.” the Khajiit admitted, breathing deeply, her chest rising and falling against Meg’s. He neck throbbed under her own makeshift scarf. “A lot has happened recently and I don’t know who I can really trust anymore, and everyone who was hurt under my watch feels like my responsibility. I haven’t had anyone to talk to, at least, not easily. I’m just relieved you made it back okay… I feared the worst.”

She broke off the embrace, still holding onto Megana’s forearm gently, her eyes not meeting the Nord’s. “I suppose I feel like I’m going to be finishing this journey on my own, and everyone I trusted feels like they’re slipping away or turning on me. It’s silly, I know… I still have you and Judena with me, but it feels fleeting.”

"I know it's gotta be hard." Meg couldn't blame the Khajiit woman for feeling that way, when it seemed so many they had journeyed with from the beginning were no longer there with them. She also couldn't blame Sora for feeling feeling as if she would be alone even if she did have people around her. Hadn't she felt the same way when she had been in Anvil and Gilane?

"It ain't silly," she added, shaking her head at Daro'Vasora's words. "Sometimes even if y'know something, the thought still comes in the noggin an' won't leave. Me? I know I ain't gonna be leaving until we get all this shit sorted out..." She faltered slightly, rubbing the back of her head. "I guess even when it's hard, we still gotta look for what's positive. Like... like yer sister! It's pretty amazin' that she's here, ain't it?"

“It is… I just don’t recognize her anymore. She didn’t have those scars the last time I saw her.” Daro’Vasora frowned. “She’s not the young girl I left behind anymore, but I never wanted her to be forced to fight and kill. It’s just another thing the Dwemer have to answer for.”

She reached down, grabbing a water skin and pulled the cork, drinking deeply for a few moments before offering it to Meg. “Finnen tried to kill me.” she said suddenly.

Meg nearly dropped the waterskin she had taken hold of. Eyes widen and mouth open, she managed to tighten her grip on the waterskin. Feeling her heart beginning to race from the shock of the sudden words, she quickly brought its lip to her mouth and took a few mouthfuls, wiping her mouth when she was done. Finnen of all people?

"Jaraleet had said sommat happened with Finnen... but I didn' know it was somethin like... that. What happened? Why-" She forced herself to stop, putting her free hand on Daro'Vasora's shoulder. "Only if y'want t'tell me. I know it can't be easy for ya."

“Pale-feather.” Daro’Vasora replied simply. “Leave it to me to fall for the guy with multiple personalities, one of whom is a murderous feral man who strangled me after Finnen went down to rest. I can’t say Finnen never tried to warn me, but I’m stubborn.” she said, pulling the fabric about her neck up more, the thought of hands about her throat returning. “I told him that I’d be there for him no matter what, and that if he hurt me, it wasn’t his fault. That I accepted the risk. I probably shouldn’t have, because I certainly am having second thoughts now.”

She shrugged, standing again and doing her damnest to look disinterested in the conversation at hand, despite it eating away at her like she was a fruit rotting from the inside out. She picked up the axe again and set up another log. “Roux, Finnen… two for two and I’m already starting to think that maybe I have shit taste in men.”


"I don' think we can be blamed who we fall for," Megana replied after a moment, watching Sora as she cleaved the log in half. "Sometimes... that kinda thing just happens. You grow close t'someone an' your feelings jus' get stronger an' stronger." She couldn't understand how anyone could have fallen for a necromancer, but in their group, their own friend had become the lover of one and kept his secret until it was out for all to know. And what about her own self? "Ain' like I haven't had my share... the first man I loved was a thief. As for others I've liked..." She shrugged, a sigh escaping her lips as she thought to last night's conversation. That door was now shut whether she liked it or not.

"You couldn't have known any of this would have happened." Her mouth curved downward. "It ain' fair t'blame yourself for things like that, Sora."

“I spent a good chunk of my life blaming anyone but myself for the mistakes I made. I guess I had to grow up eventually.” Daro’Vasora replied, tossing the split wood into a pile. “But you’re right; feelings are irrational, as are matters of the heart. I think maybe it’s just that I fell for the man Finnen pretended to be, Latro. I remember when I first saw Pale-feather in the governor’s palace, he frightened me. I guess instead of worrying about danger because I figured, what the hell, we’re all probably going to die any day now so might as well be selfish for a bit.”

The Cathay brushed a stray hair out of her eyes and returned them to Meg over her shoulder. “Look, I am glad you’re here, and honestly you’re a better friend than most I’ve had. You don’t need to hear your fearless leader mope constantly… I just haven’t had much occasion to be very cheerful of late.” she said, rolling her jaw. “It isn’t like I’m a stranger to danger and near-death experiences, but it’s rather… unendearing, non-enticing? Whatever, when people you trust hurt you. I’m sure you remember what I was like when we first met.”

Megana couldn't help but give Daro'Vasora a sheepish smile. "Not gonna lie, I was a bit intimidated by ya when we first met," she admitted after a small pause. "Wasn' sure what t'make of anyone t'be honest." The smile faded and she shook her head. "I... I can' say I know exactly how you're feelin', but I can imagine it must hurt a lot, worse pro'ly then when we found out about Gregor bein' a necromancer..."

Her mouth curved downward, and once again she couldn't help but shake her head. "You're wrong though Sora. Maybe your friends do need t'hear you mope. You don't do it constantly... more like the opposite. An' it ain' fair that everyone else got someone t'listen to them but you havta be strong all the time. It ain' like that. These kinda things- it's impossible to deal with them all alone, but yer not alone. Don' go pretendin' you're okay when you're not."

“Oh, don’t worry, Meg; I don’t.” Daro’Vasora replied with a terse smile. “The way I look at it is if you keep moving, your problems can’t catch up to you. There’s always the next quest, the next score. Things just get complicated when you start to let people in, and I’m certainly having my regrets.”

She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Look, since Finnen… yeah. Since all of that, I’ve had half a mind to take this damned lexicon I found and march to Red Mountain on my own. Let everyone go home, not worry about this shit anymore. I move faster on my own and have a considerably lessened chance of being captured and having my limbs broken by psychotic pirates.

“I’m not okay, Megana, but it doesn’t mean I’m helpless or incapable of thinking clearly. It just means the box you idiots pulled me out of is looking more and more like an attractive, comforting option. I kind of miss when I didn’t care who or what a person was. A necromancer, a lich? Whatever, don’t take more than your share. A holier than thou priestess? Just don’t cram your dogma down my throat and we’re square. A murderer? Eh, we’ve all done shit we’re not proud of. Just don’t expect me to remember anyone’s names after I’m done if all goes well.” The Khajiit grunted, setting up another log.

Meg was quiet as she listened to Daro'Vasora, arms unknowingly wrapped around herself even though she didn't feel any sort of cold at the moment. She felt sad, though.

"I used t'do that too," she said after a moment of thinking and chewing on the inside of her thumb. "I'd huntin' on my own, or with only one other person. Havin' a group so big was weird for me, an' tbe honest I didn' think we'd be seein' each other after Imperial City..." She let out a cold sigh, shaking her head. She was unsure herself what she was trying to get at. "That's how it is though, I think. We... we're not meant t'be alone. Before things went t'shit, you were happy, weren't you? I dunno if you'd be able t'go back in that box again where y'just don' care anymore- I know I can't.

"Besides..." Her mouth pulled to the side for a moment. "Ain' like you're alone, Sora. I know I'm no Finnen or Raelynn, but I ain' gonna be goin' anywhere 'til this shit is done. So... even if ya try t'do it all yerself, yer gonna havta be disappointed 'cause I'm gonna be there too."

“I was, but also scared out of my mind.” Daro’Vasora admitted, plucking a piece of splintered bark and slipping it between her teeth. “It’s hard to relax when it feels like every stranger you meet might be the enemy, and finding out that certain members of the group that I’d grown to trust were less than savory didn’t exactly help my disposition. You take life as it comes, the good and the bad. Just because everything’s shit the past few months doesn’t mean there hasn’t been good; I just think that maybe, possibly, the best days are behind me and I need to focus on what’s coming up ahead.”

She let out a huff of a sigh, turning to face Megana, pausing in place for a few moments as if waiting, or debating something with herself. However, she stepped close to her friend and placed her hands on either of Megana’s shoulders. “You’re a good person, Megana, and a better friend than someone like me had the right to deserve, but I’m not going to ask you to toss away a promising future for my sake. You don’t have anything to prove, and what comes next isn’t exactly going to be pleasant. You have family, you have all the chances in the world to be the person you want to be. But this burden is mine, and I need to see it done. Meg… I know those scars on my sister’s face are because of the decisions I made. Those muscles that are suddenly on her arms and shoulders, the long and haunted stare when she thinks I’m not looking. I did that to her when I was too much of a coward to stop Rhea from activating that machine. I’m not going to stop until I at least try to fix this, for everyone.”

"It ain' about you askin' though, Sora." Meg managed to smile at the Khajiit woman, but there was still a tinge of sadness in her moss green eyes. "So I have a family- you do as well. How's it any different? D'you think my family loves me more than yours or somethin'?" She let out a breath, crossing her arms over her chest tightly. "People change, an' maybe even if y'don' like it, it's for the better. If I met my family now, my Pa will be wonderin' what in Oblivion's happened t'me. We're not who we were... we've all changed. You're not gonna stop doin’ what ya havta do, I know that. But you have t'know, I ain' stoppin' either. Maybe I was the kinda person who'd run away from shit before, but it's not me anymore. I don’ wanna[ be that person anymore."

She shook her head. "You... you havta stop blamin' it on yourself. It's not just your burden; we're all in it together. We all want the dwemer gone, an' things t'return to- well, maybe not normal, but t'some sorta peace." She reached out and placed a hand on Daro'Vasora's hand. "Please, Sora... don' try an' stop me from helpin' you."

“You’re quite stubborn, you know that?” Daro’Vasora’s face showed the faintest of smiles. “I suppose I know a thing or two about that. I don’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done, and who you are. I guess sometimes I just need a change in perspective… my honourific, Daro. I always looked at it like a mark of shame by my family, like it was their way of saying I was too rotten to ever be worthy of their love. That my nature was opposed to anything good that could ever be accepted, that would ever amount to anything.”

Her teeth worked the piece of wood in her mouth. “That’s a big reason why I pursued this life of mine, I wanted to pursue my passions and earn a reputation for myself, so when I finally do decide to return home, my parents would be proud of me enough to accept me back. The thing is, I’ve come to realize, is that maybe it was their way of accepting who I was and encouraging me to cultivate the fire in my soul rather than snuff it out to fit into a box they expected of me.” she sighed. “It took me far too long to realize that. I’ve realized I need people around me, who can help me see things in a different light. That’s why this all hurts so damned much… I put my trust in the wrong people.”

"I guess that's just part of the learnin'," Meg replied after a moment, raising a shoulder in a sympathetic shrug. It had taken their last night in the Alik'r Desert for her to realize things couldn't just stay the same if she ignored it, and even though it was a different, she felt she could sympathize. "Even if it ends up hurtin' worse than a dull dagger in the gut. But that' where ya got people t'help get through that pain." She regarded Sora with a small smile of her own. "Like you did for me, the day y'gave me this scarf." She reached up and patted the gold and green gift comforting her neck. "The stuff y'told me was what I needed t'hear, and I honestly don' think anyone else would've told me the same. You've been there for others, more than you realize... You've- you've been holdin' our hand t'keep us from fallin' over- so don't think I'm gonna let go an' have you fall. A'right?"

Daro'Vasora smiled, regarding the scarf fondly. It had been such a simple gesture without any particular meaning behind it, the Khajiit wanted to give her friend something she thought would look good on her as thanks, and it took on a special meaning for Megana, it seemed… she was rarely seen without it.

"I really wasn't expecting it to mean so much to you. It suits you." She said, gesturing to the scarf. Megana's words rang true; maybe Daro'Vasora had more of an impact on a personal level than she realized. It felt like a bit of the weight left her tired limbs.

"I am not used to anyone really looking out for me; it's hard to accept help when it's freely offered." Daro'Vasora said with a resigned sigh. "Usually people in my life expect something in return, or have ulterior motives. It's hard not to be guarded and push people away." She admitted.

"I am sorry, Meg. I know it isn't easy being my friend."

"It's okay," Meg replied rather easily. "At least with you, I know you're jus' gonna say what's the truth an' not hide shit. That's one thing that I appreciate a lot- I never felt like I was stupid, or some sorta child 'round you, like I do 'round some others. I know I can be... well, I seem silly a lot, and maybe I just like t'be friends a little too much, but a lot of it's because being alone and lonely ain't fun." She allowed herself a half smile, rubbing the back of her head.

"You been doin' this since you woke?" she asked after a moment, gesturing towards the logs with her hand.

“I tried to eat first. Didn’t stick.” Daro’Vasora admitted, flexing and clenching her fingers. “Anyone who thinks you are an idiot or a child is a judgemental fuck who needs to travel more. Intelligence is about more than how you speak, and being inexperienced isn’t the same as being ignorant. I’ve met a lot of people, and I’ve found most have some kind of insight that can enrich you if you are patient enough to listen, but no one seems to give them the opportunity to prove it.” she said with a shrug. “I suppose I relate to people who don’t feel like they fit into a tidy box. Ask Judena; I treasure her more than most everything in the world, but how many people do you suppose made the effort to learn who she is because of her memory struggles?”

"Their loss," Meg agreed with a nod. "I know I learned lots from her, map makin', writin' letters home? I wouldn't have thought of that if I hadn' seen how much she took care to remember an' note down everythin' that takes place." Her eyes lowered as she remembered that poignant day in Gilane. "You should've seen how... angry she was when she found out you were caught by the dwemer. I don' think she'd ever been so upset, or maybe I jus’ never saw her get like that. But it only meant she had that much love to give- y'don' feel that sorta rage unless you feel like someone's part of you."

“I suppose not.” Daro’Vasora replied ponderously, feeling awful her predicament had caused Judena so much anguish. She couldn’t very well leave and take on the road ahead alone, could she? At least being in the company of others, she could try to make amends and set things right. You can’t do that if you aren’t there to do a damned thing about the struggles ahead.

“Thank you, Meg. I needed this more than you might realize.” she said, suddenly embracing Megana tightly. “If for no other reason than my hands are getting sore.”

This time Meg was the one a little surprised by the sudden hug, but it was a pleasant surprise and she returned the gesture by hugging the khajiit woman back. Everybody needed somebody to lean on, even if it was for those rare occasions where they felt they might stumble, and if she could be there for her friend, then there really was nothing better than that.

"You're welcome," she replied with a smile as she finally let go. "I'm thinkin' maybe you ought to let someone else's hands hurt for a bit, eh? How about you an' me go get somethin' to eat?"

The Khajiit smirked. “You don’t have to twist my arm. Maybe it’ll be something edible this time.”

17th Suns Dawn
Daggerfall, High Rock

The uneven patter of pointed feet crossed the leathery grey surface of scales, the six legs moving in a precision that all insects seemed to have, bringing about an instinctual revulsion from those who typically walked upon two legs. There was no personality, just an almost clockwork like rhythm that spoke to the extremely rudimentary intelligence that occupied the insignificantly small brain; the cockroach that crawled across the Argonian’s face was a product of eons of little more than instinct, never to serve a function more than to produce a significant amount of offspring before perishing to the cruel wheel of nature’s cycle.

These were the thoughts that passed through Lurks-at-Dusk’s much more advanced and significantly larger brain as with the stillness of a crocodile he waited for the cockroach to approach his lips before suddenly shoving it into his maw and biting down into the hard carapace, the juices splashing across his tongue as pointed teeth pulped the insect that had become his first meal of the day.

The Argonian stretched on his makeshift bed, a few sacks of what he assumed was flower or grain, and his eyes adjusted to the scant amount of light that seeped through the levels of deck above him, and he knew that the ship had not made port because of how it still moved across the waves. On either side of him, across from only a few inches of specially prepared wood fastened together but what he hoped were talented shipbuilders and artisans was the wrath of a large body of water that likely contained large animals that would love to bite into him much the same way he bit into insects.

The thought didn’t particularly trouble Lurks-at-Dusk. After all, he was an exceptional swimmer and could breathe underwater thanks to the physiological gifts the Hist bestowed upon all Argonians. He wondered idly if he would take over as the captain of the sunken Kismet, the underwater scourge of a ship that could not sail, or move from the sandy seafloor long after the crew and passengers of the vessel he was currently on had perished from not having lungs that could breathe water or those large animals who wished to bite into the hapless dry skins like his breakfast had a rare delivery that only tended to happen after a battle at sea or a particularly unsavory storm.

The Argonian decided that it would be a rather boring life, and eating exclusively raw fish and being unable to have a conversation would grow tiresome. After all, just because he could breathe underwater didn’t mean he could speak underwater. That would be silly.

He pulled himself up from the sacks, working his jaw around and running his tongue across his teeth, claiming the rest of his meal that had not slipped down his throat quite yet. It wasn’t quite filling by any stretch, but the Argonian certainly knew that there was other food on this vessel that was certainly adequate and dare he say quite enjoyable. The young Nord boy, Fally, Faldor, Fanon? Something of that nature, was quite exceptional at putting a bunch of ingredients together into something decidedly more appetizing than Lurks’ traditional signature dish, a freshly killed squirrel on a stick roasting over a fire. He doubted very much that there would be any rodents on the ship, perhaps a rat or two, but those likely wouldn’t make it into a cooking pot unless the boy was one who appreciated fresh meat and had a sense of pragmatism that wasn’t tempered by the squeamish sensibilities of dry skins.

Lurks-at-Dusk didn’t require much preparation to make himself presentable to head topside; he was still freshly waxed from the night before and wearing the same blue tunic and tan trousers without any footwear. It seemed appropriate, given their current nautical inclinations. His shirt didn’t quite match the sea, or the sky, or any other natural phenomena, but the harbour district of Anvil didn’t exactly have a lot of options for him to steal on such a short notice. It had taken him over two hours to find something his size, after all, and he wasn’t exactly going for the wealthy traveler sensibility this time around. This trip, he simply was a transient worker who had scrounged up enough coin to pay his fare, hoping his next port of call would bring him better windfall to feed his wife… husband? Kids? The Argonian’s throat swelled and his tail stiffened for a moment, a minute reaction that made him realize perhaps he didn’t think of a story that would be convincing and not something he’d tried a dozen times before.

By the time he made his way to the surface of the Kismet, he decided he would improvise. It was not as if he could get away with taking the belongings of those on board; that would be stupid. After all, there was no way off the ship that did not involve quite a bit of swimming that he did not feel quite refreshed enough to tackle, ignoring the simple fact the Argonian had no idea where they were exactly save for a vague direction of where the mainland was. He did not fancy swimming for days to find himself as the first person to step on Thras for thousands of years; the Sload from the stories seemed to be particularly unsavory and he did not fancy someone using his dead body as entertainment. He was not a good dancer in life, and he assumed he would somehow be even worse in death.

There were others on the ship, and to his pleasant surprise, there were other Argonians along this particular voyage. He barely recalled the destination, it hadn’t seemed important when he handed Captain Ravana, a rather handsome Redguard man with a rather fetching plumage of dark hair on top of his crown, the admission for sailing. All Lurks-at-Dusk knew was that he was growing bored of the Daggerfall cuisine and he was pushing his luck with the guard for the rather sizable pile of goods he had stockpiled in a cabin only ten minutes out from the city; someone would be happy when they discovered it, which brought him joy. Perhaps that one person’s good fortune would make up for the dozens of others who had decidedly bad days when the Argonian took their things.

As his eyes adjusted to the light, Lurks-at-Dusk realized that the Kismet was still in port. What day was it, he wondered. Hadn’t he boarded the day before, or was it earlier in the day? He could have sworn they set sail by now, or maybe that was just a particular dream he had. It had seemed so real, so vivid. Perhaps it was the drink he had yesterday to try and convince the captain he was down on his luck, or heartbroken, or something, and he needed a place to stay. Maybe Ravana had let him aboard the ship early out of pity or compassion? Or did he pay him in some treasure he had pilfered in his pack? He didn’t recall exactly what he deemed worth holding onto, but he certainly didn’t stuff that gold-rimmed conga drum or the engraved mammoth tusk in his pack; they simply did not make back packs that size for whatever reason.

Lurks-at-Dusk shrugged as he took in the salty morning air, enjoying the sensation of the large vessel bobbing upon the shallow waters… like an apple.

The Argonian’s stomach growled. He decided it was time to find the Nord boy, for it was a better use of his time to have someone prepare him a meal than to hunt for insects below deck. Besides, the boy seemed easily impressionable; maybe he had something enticing to share about his crew. Lurks-at-Dusk did not care for salacious details or off-putting affairs of cardinal instinctual desire, but rather what kinds of sentimental goods they had sequestered away. A family pipe passed down for generations? A necklace belonging to one’s grandmother?

The Argonian’s mouth salivated at the thought. No, he thought to himself, that would be because I smell something delicious.

Treasures could wait; they sat around waiting for him for years. Good food was fleeting, and Lurks-at-Dusk was a man of sensible priorities.

@Fetzen Mayhaps if you go the Skyrim route, one of his fellow adventurers was accused of Talos worship by a Thalmor patrol and everyone with him was seen as an accomplice? It might be able to keep your original idea intact.
@Fetzen I really like the character! I do think it's worth mentioning that Dwemer were never in any of the Aldmeri Dominion lands, so the Thalmor claiming ownership of them seems a tad off, and arresting people for exploring them would be well outside of their authority to enforce. There are a bunch of Aleyid ruins in Valenwood, though! Maybe Ercanoriel got interested in ancient elven civilizations and magic and technology first through the Alyeids before personally discovering the Dwemer ruins on his own after he got out of jail?

Race: Argonian
Age: 34
Birthsign: The Thief
Family Origins: Lilmoth, Argonia.


"What shall I wear today? 3,000 thread silkworm robes, or ratty old rags that reeks of something unimaginable?"

Standing at a tall but uncommanding 5’10” (177.8 cm) and weighing in at a fairly lean 182 pounds (82.5 kilos)*, Lurks-at-Dusk possesses a fairly average and unremarkable figure, partially due to the circumstances of his hatching, partially due to his active attempts of being a social chameleon. He purposefully avoids looking too ostentatious to avoid unwanted scrutiny and providing much that would be a memorable feature. He goes out of his way to avoid any expensive looking jewelry, often purposefully buffing out the sheen, avoiding bright tones, and purposefully picking fashions that he observes as being fairly common in the social strata he wishes to emulate. Lurks-at-Dusk has had an extensive wardrobe over the years, and much of it has been left behind as he moves from haunt to haunt. He sees shedding an outfit no different than molting skin; the new layers are stronger and better suited for the next stage.

Likewise, if Lurks chooses to look poor and destitute, he ensures his appearance and scent are not offensive; the only thing people hate more than a beggar is one who reeks and looks like they are contaminated with some sort of pestilence, even though that is something that eludes Argonian physiology. He knows that men and mer and cats alike have instinctual biases, and he purposefully tries to cater to them. As such, he simply plays himself off as a veteran or a worker who is simply down on his luck and could rise up to prosperity with a bit of good windfall. Life is a delicate balance, and going to one extreme or the next would be counter-productive to his aims.

Perhaps Lurks’ most fetching feature are his eyes, a golden pair of orbs nestled into dark-grey sockets of thick, broad scales surrounded by a valley of two thick ridges of his brow and across his cheek, the ends meeting both towards his snout and the pairs of grey-black twin horns protruding out of the back of his scalp. On either side of the back of his powerful reptilian jaw are an additional pair of shortened spikes and another pair of small bony points protruding down from his chin. Perhaps most striking is the blue-black plumage protruding from the top of his head down to the base of his skull, giving Lurks-at-Dusk a corvid-like display of feathers that have the added benefit of breaking up his silhouette in the dark.

His scales, although well-tended to and buffed, are rarely ever polished, and he has a pleasant slate grey tone across most of his body, with lines of sand and clay coloured bands crossing his body like stripes, giving the Argonian the appearance of a twilight shoreline with waves dancing over the shallow sands. It pairs well with his mostly pleasant countenance, unblemished by scars or markings, and a nicely symmetrical face that almost seems unnatural for how balanced both sides of his face are. Although the Argonian might look something fearsome and predatory to those unacquainted with the race, those who are would find his broad chin and long lips that are perpetually upturned naturally to almost give the impression of a very broad and reassuring smile, and his lack of overly long and intimidating spikes much more approachable than others of his kind. After all, large horns and bright colours in nature mean danger, and Lurks-at-Dusk is neither of those things. He’s a comforting, if somewhat forgettable presence. It’s just the way he likes it.

*Accounting for the extra mass an Argonian tail adds to a bipedal frame



"I will be whatever you want me to be. You just won't know it."

Lurks-at-Dusk is an individual who has long learned that Argonians are alien to other people across Tamriel. After all, it is hard to read a reptilian face if one is not acquainted to it and smiling is something his physiology simply cannot portray in a conventional sense. As such, Lurks has made himself appear affable as possible, employing exaggerated mannerisms and afflictions of tone to convey himself as he believes others would wish to see him; it makes them easier to swindle that way. Likewise, what is widely a perpetually aloof and neutral expression can convey great disinterest to other parties, making him somewhat of a threat when it comes to gambling and haggling for bargains; he can outwardly express himself contrary to what he actually is feeling at any given time given years of practice. One would think his name would arouse more suspicions, but his often disarming and approachable disposition often erodes mistrust within short order.

Ultimately, Lurks-at-Dusk is driven by greed and a personality tick where he doesn’t steal, burgle, and pickpocket necessarily out of need or infamy, but rather because of the thrill he gets when he takes what he wants and what others cherish. In his own mind, he justifies his actions by generations of slavery and genocide committed by elves against the Argonian people, or unwanted rule by the Empires of Men, but deep down he knows that it brings him a more primitive and instinctual pleasure as opposed to any lofty ideals.

He loves getting away with something that’s outside the rule of law, and he takes great pleasure at the explosive reactions of people whom he had wronged. Someone croaking about a missing family heirloom or spilled ancestral ashes to their neighbours in the market the following morning, or a child crying about a precious stuffed guar that was found torn apart by dogs. It brings Lurks a sense of satisfaction he simply could not have living a life in the straight and narrow. Sometimes he likes to toss treasures or coins into the street to watch the feeding frenzy, either for the sake of entertainment or to empty some more pockets of unsuspecting innocents who made the mistake of trying to compete with the greed of the Argonian thief.

Lurks-at-Dusk feels well-connected to the Hist and he makes sure that he doesn’t target Argonians, unless they’ve particularly crossed him or seem excessively foolish. He does not feel guilt or shame at his actions because he believes that this life is one of many he’s had and will have, so if he perishes due to overreaching ambition, he does not worry; the rivers will take him into another form before too long and he’ll try something different the next life. It’s been quite some time since he’s been back to his swampy homeland, and one of the few things he purchases legitimately are keepsakes and items that remind him of home and his people.

Given the oftentimes temporary nature of building materials in Murkmire, Lurks became very proficient at working with his hands, able to throw together rudimentary, if sturdy, furnishings and structures together with any materials at hand with relative ease and patience. This has enabled him to turn otherwise decrepit structures into relatively comfortable temporary dwellings and bases of operation, and while camping in the wilds, he fares better than most in terms of comfort. One of his few honest ways of earning coin is by carving amulets and bangles in his down time, something that reminds him of happier times at home with his mother.

It has occurred to Lurks-at-Dusk that he could potentially become quite a proficient spy given his antics; indeed, he has overheard a lot of sensitive information that was spoken in confidentiality over the years that he never was quite sure of what to do with, and he has certainly made off with some rather incriminating and interesting documents. However, being shackled to a government is precisely what this Argonian does not want out of life given the oppression his people had suffered at the hands of others over the years, and he knows a spy would never be affluent as he and might be forced to do a job that ran contrary to his own morals, namely that he avoids killing or hurting people if at all possible. He is a crook, not a villain, after all.

Despite his self-centered nature and apparent greed, Lurks also possesses a surprisingly philanthropic side. He often gives coins to beggars, leaves gifts for those he takes a liking to, and when people are in need, he sometimes takes it upon himself to find the object that is needed and deliver it to their doorstep unannounced. After all, he knows what it was like growing up not knowing if his mother and him would be able to make ends meet, and he sees no purpose in denying someone who needs medicine who cannot afford it something simple that could either cure or alleviate their suffering.

Socially, and in particular when Lurks-at-Dusk isn't putting on an act, he is a somewhat awkward individual with a matter-of-fact disposition, often stating his thoughts out loud without too much consideration of how it might be received. He can be surprisingly well natured, behaving without the hidden mischief and malice he brings upon many others. Despite the fact he is always appraising and casing people for potential profit, he tends to be pleasant and polite and willing to lend a hand. He did spend much of his formative years engaging with customers and visitors to his city, after all, so he certainly knows how to engage with strangers in a cordial manner.

Lurks is not particularly well-educated, and there are certainly gaps in his knowledge and experience that he has to work around, and his facades tend to crumble a bit under questioning and overly invasive scrutiny, but that simply is not his field of expertise. The Argonian thief studies from afar and offers just enough to pass casual interaction, making a game out of whatever persona and history he is adhering to that particular day. His work is a game to him, and he certainly is winning.


"My story is whatever gets me in the door quickest. How about it?"

A child of Lilmoth in the Southern coastal region of Murkmire, Lurks-at-Dusk was largely removed from the tribal heritage of the non-city Argonians and spent as much time in their company as foreigners who came to the city as either a stop to destinations unknown or trade, giving the young Argonian a fairly cosmopolitan outlook from a young age. His mother, Collects-Seashells, was a kindly woman with a knack for sales and a skilled jewelry crafter and Lurks learned much of her craft as a hatchling.

Ever since his youth, Lurks had associated money with his mother’s happiness and prosperity, and he cannot recall a time he wasn’t tinkering with things with his hands, whether it was helping patch the stilted hut they called home or helping Collects-Seashells produce items to sell. Times were often rough, with barely enough food and coin to cover expenses, but Lurks always remember his mother being warm and pleasant-spirited, even when dealing with debt collectors and overly forceful customers who sometimes made off with his mother’s wares without paying; it made Lurks’ blood boil. However, he was a patient and observant boy, having been raised to be considerate and polite even if someone deserved to have their face clawed off.

It didn’t mean he didn’t soon find a way to get even with such people.

Even from his youngest years, Lurks-at-Dusk noticed how carelessly some people tied their coin purse on their belts, how easy it would be to cut it loose, how an important piece of parchment stuck just outside of pockets. One evening, living up to his name, he decided to see just how easy it would be. Taking a fishing knife left carelessly at the docks as the sun was beginning to descend beneath the treeline, the young Argonian waited for a drunken foreigner to wander out of one of the many taverns in Lilmoth. As the Imperial man was preoccupied with emptying the contents of his stomach he spent some of his coin on, Lurks cut the purse from the man’s belt and bolted, diving gracefully into the harbour, disappearing beneath the waves before the Imperial or any of the guards could identify him, appearing quietly back through his bedroom window hours later.

It would be the first of many times Lurks-at-Dusk would act in such a manner, and he began to hone his craft in increasingly daring ways, always watching people and observing their behaviours like a crocodile watching prey drinking from the river. Port cities rarely were quiet, and even after dark there were always people out in the streets; these were the ones Lurks made as his marks, succeeding and failing in equal measure at first, but always with an escape plan. Before long, he only knew success and word of a pickpocket began to circulate Lilmoth, and the locals became more vigilant, but they were seldom ever Lurks’ target. It was the ignorant foreigners who carried the coin that glittered, and it made them entirely alluring.

The weeks pressed on, and Lurks’ stayed to different schedules and took irregular times off of his rounds, and never casing the same area twice in a row. He’d had a knack for making himself look like he belonged, sorting fishing line or cages, sweeping walkways, staring wistfully off of bridges, not paying much attention to the world around him. Most nights he picked pockets, but others he had tried his hand at lockpicking, having secured a kit and a manual from one of the merchants who came to Lilmoth who he knew didn’t ask too many questions or pay too close attention. The financial situation of Lurks-at-Dusk and his mother improved considerably, and to her credit, she didn’t ask enough questions.

Perhaps she should have.

It was only a few months before the wrong sort of people started going door to door, and Collects-Seashells was becoming increasingly harassed by enforcers and collectors who grew suspicious of her sudden windfall and change of fortunes. It was only a matter of time before suspicion grew into something decidedly darker, Lurks knew. So one night, after his mother had went to bed, Lurks left a heartfelt letter saying goodbye to his mother and saying he had to leave town to protect her. That night he had stowed away on a vessel leaving port, and it wasn’t long until Lurks-at-Dusk was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. He was born under the sign of the Thief, after all. It would be beneath him not to honour that.

Lurks-at-Dusk descended upon city after city across Tamriel, honing his craft and finding himself amazed at the opulence of the citizens in their great stone cities, and just how careless they were with their belongings. It became something of a game to him; find a decrepit abandoned building or cozy spot in the nearby wilderness, steal a new outfit, and come up with a new name and identity to play while among the unsuspecting populace. Sometimes he was a beggar, other times he acted like a rich merchant or landowner, escaping or entering notice of various social rungs, studying the local guards and mercenaries, and generally blending into the fabric of society he elected to clear of belongings.

He learned how to read shadow marks left by other thieves, and he paid tutors in different techniques he could use to improve his craft; he learned how to throw a bolas and use a sling from a few martial instructors, took some rudimentary alchemy lessons from others, and he learned how to use his body to scale buildings and walls to access certain areas or slip around unnoticed. All of this has culminated in an extremely proficient thief that never stays in one place for long and has reached a point where he rarely wants for anything; he simply takes what he wants and enjoys the thrill of the hunt. Taking someone’s prized silverware set is a lot less gruesome than hunting down some wild game, after all.

Most recently, Lurks-at-Dusk has made himself at home on the Gold Coast, finding the climate agreeable and the easy access to ships and cross-Tamriel trade a lucrative place to ply his skills and the constant influx of unfamiliar faces easy to disappear in.

Biggest Regret: Lurks-at-Dusk has constantly had doubts and regrets about the manner he left his mother; he wish he could have said goodbye, and he knows now she has no way of knowing if he’s safe and he has no way of knowing if his sudden departure protected her in the end. It was his own personal greed and ambition that brought misfortune to their small family, and it eats at him that he brought that upon Collects-Seashells knowing that he cannot stop himself.

Lurks-at-Dusk‘s Goal: Lurks-at-Dusk has two long-term aspirations; first, to steal something invaluable belonging to none other than the Emperor himself… although he still needs to try his hand at infiltrating the castles and palaces of the lords and counts of the lands as a bit of a warm-up for the greatest score of his life.

Second, Lurks wishes to return home wealthy, powerful, and infamous… and out of reach of the rest of Tamriel. Aside from becoming a key figure in Argonia and something of a folk hero, or so he imagines, he sees his personal mission as something of reparations for thousands of years of oppression by foreign empires.


"Most people sound and move like a wamasu in heat. No one notices the dovahfly when the former is making a scene. What do you suppose I am, wamasu?"

Sneak: The combination of his naturally dark colouring and foliage-like plumage and years of lurking in the shadows, Lurks-in-Darkness basically is a shadow after dark, and his commitment to blending in society during the day has made him more of a part of the scenery than a person most can recall.

Pickpocket: One he started, Lurks never stopped plucking pockets, cutting his teeth on drunks in the dead of night to working up to brushing past people on the street without them noticing his hand slip into their pockets in broad daylight. He knows when to pick his targets, and as such, he rarely ever gets caught.

Marksman, Throwing: Although not as proficient at this as he would like, Lurks has nevertheless practices extensively and received training with his bolas and sling to be a fairly accurate shot with both, being able to trip or ensnare an alerted guard or to knock out a lamp with a well-placed stone from afar.

Lock Picking: A hobby picked up near the end of his years in Lilmoth, Lurks-at-Dusk has had quite a bit of practical experience at this, although more complicated locks still give him trouble. However, most people have inexpensive or common locks that give him plenty of practice and access to their belongings.

Crafting, Woodworking: Growing up in a swampy, humid climate with largely wood and vines that wear down over time, plus helping his mother craft jewelry as a youth has given Lurks-at-Dusk quite a bit of knowledge and talent with carpentry and making trinkets.

Acrobatics: Although hardly one to be able to walk on his hands or tightropes, Lurks-at-Dusk is a very good climber and chances are if he can grab onto something, he can get on top of it. This is one of those skills that came through practice and experience, as well as a few friendly lessons from a tutor.


"Never bring what you can afford to lose. But if you do, thank you for your generous donation, beeko."

    6x rope and stone bolas

    A leather rock sling

    An assortment of lockpicks, tucked away in folds on his leather armour

    Leather armour, blue and brown in colour to blend into urban environments. The hard bracers and gloves are a stony shade similar to the waves in his scales, partially out of personal vanity and preference, partially so it is easier to see his hands work in the dark of night.

    A lightweight backpack with dividers and filled with cloth to add cushioning and muffle the sound of pilfered goods moving around. It has quick-detach buckles.

    A utility belt with multiple pouches and pockets, often carrying muffle and stamina potions, as well as a healing potion or two in worst case scenarios.

    Smoke bombs: A simple collection of fertilizer, sugar, and firesalt starters, Lurks prepares these in cheap pots to aid in the event he needs to make a getaway.

    Boot dagger: A back-up weapon he keeps strapped to his boot when in leathers that can be used as an absolute line of defense, or for work that may require a cutting edge.

Misc. Possessions:

    An assortment of utility knives: Everything from cutting up a fish for dinner to cutting rope to carving wood.

    A traveling rucksack: Lurks’ entire life goes in here, including camping and cooking supplies and a change of clothing.
    Fire starting kit
    A leather-bound notebook: Other than the piles of ill-gotten goods Lurks is in possession of at any given time, this is the most incriminating thing in his possession. It’s where his observations and plans are jotted down before he springs into action.
    A haj mota wood pendant
    An assortment of stolen valuables and coin

Watch the Skies

A GM special
Midday, 17th of Sun’s Height, 4E208
Falkreath Hold, Hours from Falkreath

The Reach was behind them as Skyrim opened up ahead as the hard mountain passes gave way to fields and forests as the group reached the borders of Falkreath hold. It normally would have been a cause for celebration due to an easier journey with more temperate weather, easier access to food and water, and more comfortable places to bunk down in camp, but a heavy air hung over the group after what had happened with Finnen and Daro’Vasora.

Finnen’s attack had stunned many and his sudden disappearance without cause left more questions than answers, and for her part, the Khajiit wasn’t in any mood to talk; it had taken her hours to begin to get her voice back. Even now she was reluctant to speak, sinking into a somber silence, keeping a makeshift scarf about her neck, cut from a strip of her own bed roll. Despite the fact it still carried Finnen’s scent, she persevered, a part of her not wanting to give up on him, but most of her being terrified at the thought of what he had done to her. He warned her this could happen, and she let it. Daro’Vasora nearly died at the hands of someone she trusted and loved and was something she had no idea how to process, so she didn’t even try.

She pulled the scarf up higher, covering her mouth. Finnen’s scent filled her mind, and she forced herself to think of the better times, fighting the specter of what Pale-feather had done with her lover’s body from invading her memories and stealing them from her. It’s what that bastard would want, and Daro’Vasora was too damn stubborn to let a monster steal her memories from her.

Right now, she had to put her own personal stakes aside; the others needed her to be at her best. Since the attack, a lot of the company was recovering from injury and loss; aside from Finnen, Raelynn and Fjolte had disappeared, and Megana and Zaveed still were unheard from after their scouting mission… and Daro’Vasora was trying her best not to fear the worst. It was hard for her not to be snarky and sort at times; everyone she had grown close with had abandoned her, died, or otherwise been missing. It all felt like a validation of how she felt for so many years, starting with how Roux had betrayed her trust and leading up to a group of idiots who activated a Dwemer machine in the Jerall Mountains for everyone.

And so, Daro’Vasora went from person to person to make sure they were eating and drinking properly, or as much as they could with oftentimes limited supplies, and directed people to talk if they needed support. She herself took no part in it; everything was too raw, and she knew herself too well to trust the words that were likely to come out. She busied herself in maps and journals, planning the path ahead, painfully aware how few in number they now felt. She would catch herself lost in thought, turning to look for Finnen, Meg, or Raelynn and finding none of them, or having a thought she wanted to run by Fjolte and realizing he wasn’t there to answer them. Even at night, setting down for the night, there was nothing to keep her warm except for a bed roll and the lingering aches on her throat.

After the second day of travel, they had reached a clearing, and a few relieved groans could be heard; at least they didn’t have to work over steep mountain passes for a change. As they crossed, an unnatural, albeit familiar sound filled the air that filled them with dread. A pair of airships approached from the Northwest and were heading right towards them. The protection of trees and rocks were too far to run and make it, but they had to try. Scrambling for safety, the group heard the propellers grow louder and with a sinking realization that they weren’t going to make it before the ships were upon them, the companions turned and prepared for a fight that they almost certainly would not win.

Daro’Vasora’s hand was shaking, gripping on her mace. She was so damn close. Had she gotten careless and distracted? Was there another way? She knew that the clearing likely was going to expose them, but they needed to take some risks in exchange for quicker travel due to exhaustion and rapidly dwindling supplies, and none of them had seen an airship in weeks. The whole ordeal struck her as disgustingly unfair. She wanted to scream in defiance, she wanted to turn and apologize to what was left of her companions.

All that they could do was stand defiantly and hope S’rendarr looked upon them with mercy.


An unnaturally booming voice came from the East, a figure approaching from behind them that Daro’Vasora saw was adorned in some kind of bone armour… dragon bones, she realized with an immediate and heightened realization.


The words this Nord were bellowing were almost deafening, the Khajiit’s ears pulled back as she flinched away at this approach as he stared down the airships without fear or hesitation. He looked like a predator that had caught his prey.


From the Nord’s mouth emitted an unbelievable force of energy, like a hurricane spit forth from his mouth; the few trees that had been in his way were stripped of branches and bark, and the air cracked in a deafening boom; both of the airships looked as if they had been struck by a giant’s fist, knocking them out of their formation and nearly into each other, fabric tearing from the hulls and balloons atop their frame, gas escaping from them as they tried to correct their course. The entire scene was surreal; the once unassailable airships that had ruled uncontested were being battered around like a child’s plaything.

Haunting roars filled the air and overhead, impossibly fast and sun-stealing shadows swept across as they darted towards the airships. Daro’Vasora tried to make sense of what she was seeing as the creatures she witnessed came to life.

The creatures screamed at the airship,

Torrents of unearthly fire and ice spewed force from the creatures’ mouths as they made passes at the airships, causing the gases above to erupt and the decks to freeze; the panicked and anguished screams of the mer could be heard, somehow, over the absolute carnage of the carnage of the leather-winged creatures. One had dull reddish-brown scales, while the other had bluish white. Daro’Vasora realized what she was witnessing.

They were dragons.

The airships crashed into the ground as the dragons forced them into the ground with their mighty talons, crushing metal that weakened beneath their claws. Teeth tore into the frame and into the ship, the sounds of dying crewmen still ringing through the plains. It was impossible to look away.

A group of mostly Nords and an assortment of others had crossed towards them from the treeline, a motley assortment of hardened looking men and women, with a few others aside, led by a giant of a man with a crimson great beard and mane of matching hair, looking like a figure out of legend. One in particular stood out to Daro’Vasora; she was a Khajiit, like her, her bare arms and tail visible under black and teal leather armour, her face concealed beneath a hood. Clutched in a clawed hand was a long spear with a worn, but meticulously cared for, blade, and a pair of daggers were strapped to the woman’s frame, evidenced by her slender and feminine frame and smaller stature. She was a Suthay-raht, actually taller than Daro’Vasora by a handful of centimeters and far more physically defined by curves and musculature.

This figure seemed transfixed on Daro’Vasora, stepping forward towards her slowly as if the carnage with the dragons was an everyday occurrence. She pulled her hood down, revealing a pale face with her straight white mane swept over the left portion of her face, concealing her left eye and jaw, but the other side was visible, a powerful and shorter muzzle protruded from the girl’s face, and across her face and body were cheetah-like spots. However, behind darkened eyes, concealed with charcoal and plant-mixed red-black face paint shone an emerald green eye that was immediately familiar to Daro’Vasora because it was one in the same as her own.

The girl picked up the pace and crossed the field quickly now, reaching the companions and immediately throwing her arms around Daro’Vasora, tears welling in her eyes. “Vasora! Bright moons, La’Shuni cannot believe her eyes!” she exclaimed. “She thought you were dead!”

Daro’Vasora didn’t realize she was holding her breath as she returned the embrace, burying her face in the girl’s shoulder, holding onto her like she was the only person left in this world.

She caught the quizzical stare of Sevari, who between the brutal display of might from the dragons, the approaching stranger in the dragonbone armour, and the strange girl who was so freely embracing Daro’Vasora prompted her to smile between teary-eyed relief and amusement.

“Everyone, I would like for you to meet my sister.”

Falkreath, Dead Man’s Drink

Falkreath had weathered the storm rather well, all considered. Its buildings all still stood, although there had been signs of conflict in the streets; doors and windows were hastily repaired, and even the tavern in which everyone was seated in a long row of tables, the entire tavern put together to make one singularly long table, had a hole in the ceiling that made light pour in like some divine radiance; indeed, had the pillar of light been only a few meters closer, Jorwen Red-bear would have been cast in the middle of it, making his crimson hair shine like rubies to accentuate his already commanding presence.

Around the table were faces both familiar and new, and the warband in itself was a peculiar sort; mostly Nords with a few scattered individuals who had come from across Tamriel, many of whom now called Skyrim their home. They all had a common cause and they fought together, brother and sisters forged in the bellows of war. It was the new faces that drew the most curiosity and interest from around the table; a motley band all their own. Had it not been for La’Shuni taking an immediate and impulsive move towards reuniting with the one she proclaimed to be her sister, suspicion might have led things down a decidedly different path.

The thing was, they needed all the help they could get.

For all the drinking and revelry, Jorwen was at the head of the table with a slab of frown. One hand lay limp on the table next to a large mug of mead and the other balled in a fist against his leaning jaw. His eyes went about the great mirths of the hall until they fell on Sevari’s. If anything, Jorwen found his reflection in the other man, who was sitting in almost the same way. Their stares almost seemed to convey a conversation of a hundred words. Without one spoken, Jorwen rose and Sevari rose in turn.

Sevari followed Jorwen outside, the two of them standing in the stillness of night. For what seemed like an eternity, there was nothing between the men but moonlight and cricket song. Sevari reached into his coat pocket and pulled free a new cigar from a new bundle he’d gotten from one of Jorwen’s men. He lit it with the tip of his finger and as he exhaled the smoke, Jorwen spoke.

“You’re a fighter.” Sevari stood quiet, then nodded.

“A killer.” Jorwen said. Not a question. A man recognizes most in others what he sees in himself. “All your life, I’d reckon.”

Sevari nodded again, “What of it?”

“In Skyrim, ‘specially these days, it’s a good day to be a killer. A fighter. Them others,” Jorwen nodded to the others in the tavern, Sora’s Party, “They any like you?”

“Some.” Sevari grunted, puffing a few more times off of his cigar, “What of it?”

“We need men like you. Like me.” Jorwen shrugged, “No shame in facts.”

Sevari wasn’t sure who that last part was meant for. Maybe it was for himself, the big man. “What’s your point?”

“You their leader?” Jorwen asked. Sevari shook his head only slightly, a small tick of his head. Jorwen nodded, “Get me the leader, then.”

Somewhere up in a corner of the rafters of the Dead Man’s Drink, a pair of deep carmine eyes squinted down at the arrivals from behind a thick curtain of shadow. Bare feet softly touched the timber cladding of the wall as the owner of the nosy eyes peered out briefly from the shadow to gaze further. The eyes widened before closing as a slate grey face retreated back to the darkness in much of the same manner as an animal might return to its nest for solitude...

Sevari opened the door, letting the songs and shouting pour into the lonely Falkreath streets again. His nighteyes scanned the dark drinking hall for Sora until he found her. He waved her over.

Looking over a tankard of mead, Daro’Vasora’s eye caught Sevari’s between La’Shuni’s animated gestures as she was trying to go over what had exactly happened to have turned the polite, meek sister she knew into a leather-wearing, spear-wielding woman with muscles and scars that hardly resembled the girl she knew. It had been a couple of years since she’d seen La’Shuni last, and with a heavy heart, she realized she missed out on a lot of life back home. It had moved on without her.

“Hey, sis? I’ll be back soon. Sevari needs a word.”

“Who’s that?” La’Shuni asked, looking towards the door, her lips drenched indelicately with her own drink, dribbles running down her mouth. What on Nirn happened to her manners?

“The brooding one… I’ll explain later. We’ve all the time in the world to catch up, I promise.” Daro’Vasora said, standing and kissing her sister on the brow. “I’ve missed you so damn much. I won’t be long!” she promised.

Soon, she was out of the door next to Sevari, her arms crossed with a terse expression as she regarded Jorwen for several moments. “Well, boys, any reason this couldn’t wait until morning? It’s not like I haven’t seen my sister for years and thought she might have died until today.” she grumbled, looking down the cobblestone road. “Surprised this place is still standing. Wooden walls don’t tend to fare well against cannons and airships.”

“Wooden walls look less important than stone ones, don’t you reckon?” Jorwen looked at Sora, gave her a quick once over and it seemed like that was all he needed to gauge everything about her. “Now it’s a haven for my men and the other warbands like us to use and rest in. Warbands of men that look dirty and tired and beaten, that look… less important than ones clinking and clanking around in armor polished enough to blind you.”

Sevari snorted. Jorwen continued, “Odd, ain’t it? But I reckon you’d know a lot about the importance of looking unimportant.” He turned his eyes and nothing else towards Sora, “And then proving the poor fool wrong when he’s got his back to you?”

“I’ll ask you once, and I care a shit if your sister is in there,” He said, turning his full breadth on Sevari and Sora. If Sora looked close enough, Sevari had a blade out and close enough under his coat to not glint in the moonlight. Though he was looking very unimportant all the while. “Who are you trying to look unimportant for? Me or the Dwemer?”

Daro’Vasora’s arms remained tightly crossed as she stared unblinkingly up at the giant of a man, her expression impassive save for the slightest tightening of her jaw. “Paranoid one, aren’t you? Guess you’re not as daft as you look; can’t even figure out how to groom yourself properly.” Daro’Vasora replied shortly. “Look, chief, captain, jarl, whatever… my lot and I don’t have the greatest track record of seemingly well-intentioned strangers telling us they’re on our side.

“I’ve lost a lot of people I care about to the Dwemer, and had I a mediocum more selfish interests at heart, I’d be in Stros M’kai right now with a bowl of rum punch and a chest full of treasures at my side, but instead I just spent weeks walking across the gods-damned Alik’r desert and crossing the mountains, all the while surviving shiny new Centurion hunters and nearly getting murdered by my own gods-damned boyfriend, so forgive me for cutting through the bullshit and this shit-footed coy waddling game you’re pulling me into instead of spending time I’d much rather be with family, but do you really think that the sad-sack shit caravan you came across that’s what’s left of my friends is really a threat to you?” Daro’Vasora growled, jabbing a finger into Jorwen’s chest. “So why don’t you turn your back and find out which I am? You’re big and scary; what’s a little cat going to do to you? Brain you with this thing?” she asked, pulling her mace off of her belt to show it to Jorwen.

“It’s Dwemer make. Take a wild guess how the fuck I got it.”

Jorwen looked over Sora at Sevari. The man shrugged, making a show of a cigar in one hand and the hidden knife he had in his other before dropping his arms again and sheathing it. Jorwen nodded. “Alright.” Jorwen turned from Sora, “Why aren’t you in Stros M’kai then? Why wander from Hammerfell to Skyrim? War to another?”

The Cathay’s eyes narrowed. “I’m going to end this invasion once and for all. I’d kindly appreciate it if you didn’t get in my way.” she reached into one of her belt pouches and pulled out a pendant, a bear made out of orichalcum. It dangled in front of her eyes, turning slowly. “This was my uncle’s. He died in Imperial City trying to save two boys from the ships that came from the sky. I wasn’t there to stand by his side, and I couldn’t save him. I can sure as hell avenge him.”

Jorwen regarded her, unimpressed, “Lots of folks killed Dwemer here. Lots of folks got people to avenge.” Jorwen shrugged, “I don’t know you.”

“And that has to start somewhere.” the Khajiit retorted, ears flattening and eyes narrowing. “We didn’t ask to get pulled into whatever you’ve got going on here, but believe me when I say I’m no friend of the Deep Elves. My people are exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and we still have a long way to go before we can well and truly rest. I appreciate the hospitality, and I assume that at one point you didn’t know my sister, either. So let me propose a deal; you let us stay here until we’re recovered, and we’ll help you with whatever it is that needs doing in the meantime.” she extended a hand. “Might as well make the most of a shit situation, yeah?”

“All I’ve been doing my whole life.” There was the evidence of humor on his smirking lips but none in his voice as he engulfed her hand in his own.

The hands shook; Jorwen made Daro’Vasora feel like a doll in his grasp. She grinned. “My mentor always told me ‘if something is difficult, you’re on the right track’. Talk to my people, get to know them; you Nords like stories, and you’re going to want to listen to theirs. We even managed to piss off and sabotage the ‘governor of Volenfell’s’ operations and broke a bunch of warriors out of one of their best secured prisons before coming here. Give us a chance; you’ll like us.”

“I know how things are done. Ain’t my first time leading people, hopefully my last.” Jorwen nodded at Sora, a new bond between them that seemed to sweep away the prior tension like a dust in the wind. “I’d say that same thing about this war, but I reckon I’d be wrong. Said the same thing last War.”

“Gotta knock on some wood after.” Sevari quipped before taking a drag off his cigar.

“Oh, I’ve been praying at shrines. Reckon I’ve been doing something wrong all these years.” Jorwen chuckled bitterly and turned his vast shoulders on them to get back inside.

As the party each stood around each other, crowded in the Dead Man’s drink, a small sprinkle of dust fell from above. The timber support beam creaked as a stranger pranced across it on graceful footsteps. She came down slowly to her knees - so far undetected by the new arrivals. Her bottom touched the wood and she leaned backwards carefully until her slender legs were hooked. First dropped a long waterfall of thick, scarlett curls. Then the face followed.

She bore the sharpness typical of her race. Her skin the colour of the sky before a storm - her cheekbones high upon the heart shaped face. In the dim candlelight that was illuminating the tavern, she appeared more gaunt than usual. But being upside down also had a strange effect on a person's ability to make sense of a face. As she opened her large, almond shaped eyes, they caught the flickering flames of the candles dotted around the room. It created the illusion that the woman had many eyes - like a spider. The position that she had bent herself into was also not helping to dispel the notion that she was in fact, an arachnid.

She pointed her fingers out towards the young Khajiit, reaching out to rub against the sides of La’Shuni’s ears as she stood in the tavern, eagerly awaiting her sister’s return. “See, little one, didn’t I tell you things would turn well for you?” she said in a voice that had the quality of smoke - a husky sound, feminine and breathy. A warmth and sweetness that was something of a rarity in the normally sour Dunmer of Morrowind. La’Shuni beamed up at Ivy affectionately; she had become well accustomed to the Dunmer appearing in odd places, and her presence was always a reassuring one.

Suddenly, the Dunmer woman blinked, eyeing up the guests from her new vantage point. They looked so much less sad from the upside down. She tilted her head and gave them a quick wave - grinning out at them, as if her smile could lighten the mood some.

The Dunmer turned back to La’Shuni, while one of her hooked legs came down from the timber, and was hanging by her shoulder with her foot relaxed, swinging just so. “My show will be soon, I hope you come to see,” she smiled, pinching the cheeks of the Suthay-raht affectionately. Her toes found the back of a chair and she used it to balance as with a freakish ease she slipped herself down from the beam completely. On solid ground again, she raised her shoulders and brought her hands together with glee. There was a happiness radiating from La’Shuni that the Dunmer found infectious.

La’Shuni giggled. “This one supposes if you want her there, she cannot miss it, no?” she replied, a tiny bit of teasing to her tone. She smiled warmly at her friend. “It is a wonderful day, and La’Shuni never expected it to come. Her sister… Vasora is okay! This one is certain she must have similar thoughts.”

Suddenly, a frown crossed her features. “Do you think mister Jorwen is mad at her? He seemed pretty… upset, perturbed?” the young Khajiit murmured, not sure of the words to find. “There is so much La’Shuni does not know.”

“Oh my, well if we were to know everything then quite simply the head on our shoulders would fall to the ground. Too heavy to pick up! That’s why it’s better to share the things we know…” As Ivy spoke, her hand reached out to the table to pick up a pair of batons. “If Jorwen is mad - let him be mad! He’ll get over it in time,” she waved her hand dismissively at the notion he could be mad in any capacity at La’Shuni. Her other hand found its way to her hip and she leaned to the side, cutting an incredibly feminine shape as she did so. “Don’t worry about it. Come to the firepit instead - bring your sister and her friends!” She leaned in close to La’Shuni, her lips practically brushing against the young girls ears as she whispered there. “Tonight I’m going to become a real dragon.”

La’Shuni gasped in delight. “Truly?! You never fail to surprise this one!” she exclaimed, feeling cheered up immeasurably, the thought of Jorwen sending Daro’Vasora away fleeing from her mind. “This one will make sure that they come. After all, La’Shuni Ten-Thanes speaks with the authority of the chief!” she said with a forced booming voice, suddenly with a straight military-posture with her fist over her heart before her facade cracked and she laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Tonight was not a night to be serious; after all, what was there to worry about?

“Do you think La’Shuni will have time to speak with Vasora before your show? So much has happened…” she wondered out loud to Ivy, probing the Dunmer’s thoughts.

“That’s the spirit, little one!” she remarked with a smile, drawing back from her friend with a nod in response to her question. “Oh of course, I have to change and limber up a little first… turning into a real dragon takes time.” Ivy winked before giving the girl one last squeeze before turning for the door.

Sevari froze in the doorway. What greeted his sight was a Dunmer woman almost seeming to float down from the rafters. Surely, he was seeing things. And anybody who saw her may have been stunned by the display of flexibility. He was. But for other reasons. But beyond the flexibility was his eyes going over her lithe and fit form to finally catch on her eyes, so full of life and a mischief that both pulled him in and cautioned him away. He only realized he was staring and his breath was held when he let it out in an impressed and satisfied, “Huh.”

He flicked his cigar out the doorway and straightened his coat, making like he wasn’t just ogling her like a drunk and dressed in rags compared to her. Her walk seemed as effortlessly intoxicating as her entrance seemed effortlessly eye-catching. Everything about her was like a performance in the highest of theaters. Sevari wanted to watch it all.

Of course she noticed the Ohmes-Raht. How could she not? He was an Ohmes-Raht for a start. Didn’t get too many of them in Falkreath. She was a performer at heart, and knowing she’d hooked herself an audience of one in the stranger was enough to set her off. Her eyes narrowed the closer she got to him, but she did not look him directly in his. As she came but a foot from him, she stopped and acted startled, setting her eyes to the floor. “Oh my, oh my….” she sang, bending down as if to pick something from the dusty floor.

Ivy closed the distance that remained between her body and his, pressing her closed fist to his hand. “Your eyes, honey. They were on the floor…” she giggled - meaning no ill intent, just a flirtatious tease back. She loosed a finger from her fist and tickled the back of his hand. “Let’s see what you lose if you see my show…” That was it, she gave him a playful wink and brushed past, exiting the tavern with a sway of her hips.

La’Shuni offered Sevari a quizzical stare for several moments, not missing the same lustful gleam in his eyes that men, and some women, tended to have around Ivy before suddenly putting a hand up under her snow-coloured hair covering the left side of her face and heading out of the door in a hurry. Another Khajiit approached from the back, a tiger-stripped Cathay with cougar-like features, his face adorned with a braided beard dangling from his chin and his mane styled likewise to his shoulder blades. He dressed in a simple budi and trousers combination, forest green on grey. He offered Sevari a tankard with a wry smile.

“Careful, rhook; that one will eat you alive if you let her.” he said, patting Sevari on the shoulder before making his way back towards the kitchens.

“I almost want her to…” he stared at the Dunmer’s swaying behind as she went off into the distance. He turned to the other Khajiit, calling out to him before he got too far away, “Her name!”

The Suthay stopped in his tracks, turning to regard Sevari with bemused amber eyes and a slight smile. "And ruin the mystery? Do'Karth would never!" He laughed, plucking a bottle of wine from the counter next to him and pulling the cork with a claw before deftly flicking it into the hearthfire.

"Our enigmatic Dunmer is putting on a show very soon out in the town square; this one encourages you to go see what else she is capable of." Do'Karth replied, drinking from the bottle with a non-committal shrug. "Who knows? Perhaps she will make you a part of her performance. Rajhin knows she is quite flexible."

Sevari cocked a brow at this other Khajiit, taking another look at the empty doorway before turning back, “I’m not sure the town square would want to see the performance I want.” Sevari shrugged, offering his empty tankard out for the bottle, “Fine. Your name is Do’Karth? Warrior, fighter?”

The Suthay rolled his jaw, electing to ignore the crude insinuations the stranger had towards his friend. Be bowed his head, hand over heart. "This one is whatever he is needed to be. Sometimes that may be patching up wounds, others it might mean preparing a meal. But worry not, rhook; Do'Karth might know a thing or two about inflicting those wounds or evicting those meals." He smiled innocently.

Sevari gave his own smile, though much less innocent, “I’m no rook at this war shit.” Sevari said, “I guess your skills make you handy around here. I like that. Groups like this don’t need dead weight.”

Do'Karth's pleasant countenance didn't waver. "My humble apologies; this one had assumed you hailed from the Kingdoms." He bowed his head once more. "Do'Karth had not meant to suggest you were inexperienced; rhook loosely means friend. It is an address of endearment." He explained.

"It is not Do'Karth's preference to make judgement based on another's appearance. Srendarr knows many have made that misstep with him." He said humbly, although there was an insinuation with his tone.

“Well,” Sevari raised his tankard, “Fill this up and we’ll be best friends.”

"Of course." Do'Karth replied, crossing the distance easily and taking the tankard without much of a fuss. With a turn, he resumed his travel towards the back.

The door opened behind Sevari, and a familiar voice said, "What did I miss?"

Sevari turned to the voice, and Zaveed and Megana were standing together at the door frame.
Interest checks are basically watered down and cannibalized sections of my OOC that I post after my OOC is already up. It has flavour text that has a hook, a summary about what the game and story are about, and the standards and explanations that don't fit into a summary.

I just format it like my OOC, use graphics and colour the headers and boom, you have a functional interest check that primes people into the gist of the RP itself.
It Was Only a Dream

A Dervy Shafting

Midday, 16th of Sun’s Height, 4E208
Approaching Falkreath Hold

The lands felt like they were starting to level out somewhat after an arduous journey through the Druadach Mountains, it felt as if the group was finally reaching the foothills. More and more green and lush hills that didn’t break off into rocky caps surrounded them, and the pass was much more gentle; something that doubtless was needed after the ambush they had all survived the day before. While everyone was exhausted, most carried some form of injury, some critically; Daro’Vasora felt a pang of irrational guilt that she was one of the few who escaped the encounter without injury. The massive Orsimer who had attacked them with the Centurions was nothing anyone could have predicted, and it came as a shock that he was related to Mazrah, who has suffered grievously at his hands.

It was dumb luck and ingenuity that had saved the day; Raelynn had managed to turn one of the Centurions’ weapons against the others and the giant Orc, and the mages had kept mobile enough to distract those who had to get close to get to work. Despite how advanced and deadly these Centurions were, they still had shortcomings, and nobody had died, not for lack of trying. Still, the entire ordeal sat poorly with Daro’Vasora, and where on Nirn were Megana and Zaveed? She feared something happened to them, which was a sobering thought when Zaveed was concerned. How he had been before seemed to be so long ago that her arm stopped throbbing in his presence and when he spoke, she didn’t hear Roux’s last dying breaths.

It was healing, wasn’t it? It was to the point where Daro’Vasora realized she wanted to see them both back fine, just like anyone else. Even Gregor’s undead condition was something she was slowly adapting to; his placid disposition and utter fearlessness and selflessness in the face of danger was still fresh in her mind, despite how utterly disturbing the entire thing was. She had seen him weather and endure trauma that should have killed him a dozen times over, and if she didn’t know the utter ruin that likely remained under his cloak, she would have thought she dreamed the entire thing.

What the hell was the world coming to when the relic hunter was beginning to feel acceptance and some degree of fondness for a blood-thirsty murderer and a necromancer? She knew that good and evil were subjective concepts that often accompanied whoever wrote the texts, but there were so many bloody shades of grey the Khajiit felt like she could no longer see colour at all and it concerned her. What was wrong with her that she was allowing any of this to become normal?

The group had stopped for an hour break next to a creek. While some took it as an excuse to check over wounds or eat in peace, others simply took the time to lay down and rest in the shade, easing their legs from the long ride in the saddle. Finnen was among those who deemed rest necessary, and it killed Daro’Vasora to see him laid low. She wasn’t there when he was attacked, and she had barely done more than fuss over him after she found him in the aftermath, maimed and broken to a degree that she herself broke down and cried, fearing for his life.

He pulled through, and despite his injuries, he seemed to be more or less himself. The healers had done an incredible job on him… on all of them. The only thing they couldn’t mend what was going on inside of everyone’s minds, and with the faintest of reassured smiles, Daro’Vasora laid down next to Finnen, watching his chest rise and fall as he gently snored, sleep having taken him easily. She ran her long fingers through his long hair, admiring its tone and volume. He’d changed so much since they first met… they both had. As they lay there, listening to the sound of rushing water, she wondered if he was dreaming.

“He’s a fighter.” Sevari didn’t react when Sora flinched out of her reverie at the sound of his voice. “I saw some of it. He’s a fighter.”

He stood opposite them, speaking to Sora but looking at Finnen. There was something wrong with that boy, but whatever it was, it showed up at the right time. That big Orc was no slouch, taking two of the huge bullets from the gun. He hacked something up and spat it dark to the side. He’d been doing that a lot since the incident.

“How are you?” He finally looked at Sora.

“Honestly? I’ve got no right to complain about anything right now.” Daro’Vasora said to Sevari, looking up to him with a frown. “Just taking it day by day and every time I think my plan is starting to make sense, that it’s going to work… this sort of thing happens.” she shook her head, sitting up to look at Sevari a bit easier. “How about yourself? You had quite the scare.”

He shrugged, “It happens.”

There was still a silence between them. He was sure something had happened to Zaveed. Twenty years apart or twenty days, he worried for the man. He was still his brother, and he didn’t know the man for abandoning what he set his mind to. But worrying himself to death wasn’t going to keep anybody going forward. “Food? Water? I’ve got a hunger. Dying is pretty hungry work, you know?” He had a macabre little smirk, but it was something.

“I try to make it a habit of not knowing anything about that.” Daro’Vasora replied with a grin before her expression softened up some. “But if you’re offering, anything you can spare.” she placed a hand on Finnen’s shoulder. “And for him; I want to make sure he’s taken care of before me.”

“Can’t take care of him if you don’t take care of yourself. But, sure thing.” Sevari said, a small smile on his lips. He hung at the spot he stood, still cradling his rifle in folded arms. It was something he wouldn’t let get away from him, especially after what had happened. “You’re a fighter too. Both of you, couple of warriors.”

He chuckled at that, even if there wasn’t any comedy apparent, “You remind me of someone I knew back in Elsweyr. She was a good person.” He clucked his tongue, “Still is, I’d say. Even if her and I don’t get along well these days, I think you two might. Zaveed’s sister.”

That earned a crook of Daro’Vasora’s head. “I actually didn’t know he had a sister. Just you two, and even then, I struggle to see the resemblance.” she said, deciding Finnen could wait for a few minutes. She rose to her feet, feeling something pop in her ankles and her joints aching in protest. Now standing with Sevari, she gestured, “Know what? Let’s go for a bit of a walk. So, what reminds you of this mystery sister?” she asked.

He nodded, letting her lead the way as he followed, eyes up in his thoughts and memories. He snorted, looking sidelong at Sora, “You’re both fucking mean when you want to be.” He let the sentiment grow long enough for Sora’s expression to change a tick, “And nice, too. Self-sufficient. Strong. She was almost too strong for her own good, and what strength she didn’t have in those days, she tried everything to make like she had it.”

“It’s not a bad thing. Gods know I’ve had to keep a snarl while my pants were being pissed a great too many times I’ll ever tell you,” he smiled, “But warriors? Yeah, warriors.”

It was an oddly sentimental thing for Sevari to say; for a moment, Daro’Vasora felt somewhat bashful. Compliments weren’t something that were offered freely to her, especially not from someone who had been an enemy not long ago, and barely an acquaintance after. “I’m not much of a warrior, Sevari. I’m just handy at hitting things with a mace if it buys me a few seconds to dart off with something valuable in hand… at least that was my life before all of this.” she shook her head, smiling as she looked to him.

“You know, I didn’t ever think I’d find myself in the company of people I trust and care about more than myself. I feel like a part of who I am was just left behind in Anvil when I made the choice to go back for everyone to tell them to come with Finnen and I. I used to be so vain and selfish, I couldn’t trust anyone but myself because I was afraid I’d get hurt by anyone I let close. These people changed that.” she said, crossing her arms as she stopped for a minute.

“It sounds like you cared a lot about ‘Zaveed’s sister’. I noticed that you didn’t call her your own. Who was she?” she asked quietly.

“She…” Sevari’s fingers went to the necklace around his throat. The one she made for him. Saved up enough coin to buy everything she needed and kept it hidden long enough to finish it. She’d slipped it around his neck when he least expected it.

It never left since.

“Was the first person to tell me I was worth something.” He stared long at nothing, furrowed brow as he remembered, “Growing up Ohmes in Torval was rough, Senchal was no easier. The Dominion came and suddenly everyone forgets the Ohmes are Khajiit through and through.”

“They called me half-man. Said my mother bent over for…” He scowled then, shaking his head and then looking at Sora, back in the present, “Marassa is her name.”

“It’s a pretty name.” Daro’Vasora said kindly, setting a hand on Sevari’s arm. “Both of my parents are Ohmes-stock, and they’re both very successful and well-regarded in Leyawiin. I’ve spent way too long hating being what I was that I thought being a Khajiit was holding me back, that it had people look at me with suspicion and distrust. You shouldn’t have to do the same, Sevari. You aren’t some half-man, or lesser for the station of your birth. You’re quite remarkable, and the Rid-Thar-Ri’Datta picked you to walk Nirn as an Ohmes-raht for a reason.

“We’re the most diverse race on Nirn; it makes us strong and able to see things differently than everyone else. We aren’t so set in our ways, or resistant to change and new ideas we can’t adapt. How else would two people like us, from such different walks of life, end up here? We’re trying to save the world. We pull it off, who knows? Maybe you’ll be getting your own statue in Torval, or Imperial City. Sevari Dwemer-Bane, or some shit like that. Someone with your face can walk both worlds, so own it.” she said reassuringly. “You’ve got a lot more going for you than you think.”

Sevari chuckled ruefully, “Oh, I don’t think they’ll be putting statues of me in Torval, Sora.” His chuckling continued as he shook his head, “If only you knew what I used to do in Elsweyr. Khajiit see things differently. A man accepted me and told me I could get justice for what was done to me. Khajiit saw me and saw only difference.”

He looked at Sora, a small frown on his face, “By Khajiit. By men, too, and elves. But the person who let me right the wrongs was a Man. A round-ear, a pink-skin. I might be able to walk both worlds but one of those worlds showed me how much it didn’t want me.”

He let out a gravelly cough and spat off to the side, pulling his collar down to let her see the Red Diamond, then Pelinal’s image on him. He showed her one of his khajiiti script tattoos, ‘Thank you, Anequina, for my ruined youth.’ <I don’t want it either.>

Daro’Vasora shook her head. Sevari had a story she had no idea what it all entailed, but it clearly wasn’t one of comfort and warmth. “I see you and see a man who wants to be hated, needs to be. But Sevari?” she asked, crossing her arms and looking past him. “Let’s say you finally get what you want, revenge, justice, whatever you want to call it. What comes after? Have you even thought that far?”

Sevari stopped walking and rustled around in his coat pocket, tsking, “Last one.” He muttered to himself before placing the cigar between his lips and touching the tip of his finger to it. He looked around, noticing they were alone now, a ways from the others. The cigar began smoking with each of his breaths until he removed it from his mouth, “Yeah. I have.”

“I’ll inherit his wealth, fuck his wife. Marry his daughter or something, but I don’t think she’ll want to do that after I strangle his son with his own guts.” His spiteful smirk faltered for a moment and he grabbed a fistful of the necklace and pulled it up behind his neck, taut against his throat, “She’s fucking him, you know?”

He said, necklace still taut, “The son. Marassa’s fucking him and she’s been fucking him for I don’t know how long.” He shook his head, a frown twitching at a corner of his mouth, “My entire fucking family gets killed by his father!”

“I lose my home! I lose my brother, Zaveed, I lose him!” His fist was shaking now, making the beads of the necklace shiver together as if they were frightened of him, “And she fucks his son, and tells me if I even try to get even!”

His breathing was labored, his eyes bore into Sora not with anger, not with fury. But with heat. A heat that came up from his chest and set to quivering his breaths through clenched teeth. A heat that put pain in his eyes. He continued, his voice a pained whisper, “If I want to seek justice for everyone his family has killed… My first love, Marassa, will hang me.

With a violent tug and a snap, the necklace tumbled from itself, beads falling to the forest floor and plinking into each other. He threw the remnants into the stream as the moment died away into silence, “So I either forget the faces of my dead family or kill one of the only people I ever loved.” He said, voice low. He swallowed, looked away from Sora, “So, yes. I need to be hated. Because if she hates me, it might make it easier for both us.”

He turned away from Sora and stalked the way they were walking in the first place, wiping his nose and face in as rough and angry a manner he could muster. He didn’t want her to follow him, but he never really expected to get what he wanted in life. So, he settled for not caring. “I’ll get whatever you and Finnen need. Just make sure he’s okay, I’ll be back.”

It left Daro’Vasora stunned as she watched Sevari go, her eyes glancing between the necklace that was left destroyed in Sevari’s wake and what it represented. So much pain and loss filled Sevari, and the picture he painted of love and loss was so vivid Daro’Vasora couldn’t help but feel it like a knife in her own gut. “You’re all so stubborn…” she muttered, shaking her head as she gathered what was left of the necklace he had destroyed, pocketing them before returning to Finnen. Anger might have consumed Sevari then, but he wouldn’t have carried around something from so long ago that meant everything to him if it wasn’t deeply important. She’d put it together again for him, somehow.

She returned to Finnen’s side, kneeling next to him as she put a hand on his chest, feeling it rise and fall. “I hope your dreams are better than what Sevari’s waking life is right now.” she said quietly.

The Reach was famous for only a few things; hills and rocks, mist and blood. It was the land that birthed the young man named Finnen, a warrior of only few years but the men he’d put in the ground were many. He had a name for himself in Markarth Side and the Western Reach, even. Tales of his deeds trickled through the high passes like rivulets of blood. And there were rumors that a great Red Bear was coming to call on him.

For now, they saw no sign of him, heard nothing of him in the whispers of Reachmen in the towns or the hills, no scout had picked up sight nor scent. And so Finnen and his band of Forsworn waited at their fire. Finnen and seven wraiths wreathed in shadow, the erosion of the river that time was wore down their faces in his memory until they were but shadows of men.

In that little slice of time they’d sat and laughed around the fire for hours. But Finnen only sat by himself, looking about with curiosity. He was confused, was this real? But one of the writhing shadows turned, snakes about itself until the smoky tendrils made a picture of himself, skin black as charcoal with eyes red as the flames of the Deadlands, horns sprouting from his forehead to crown the black hair down his shoulders.

Finnen should have been scared, perhaps, but he only cocked his brow. “Who are you?”

“If you do not know me by now, you have truly forgotten.” The other Finnen said.

“Ah. It is you, then.” Finnen said. He looked at his hands and they were covered in blood that was not his own. “What is-“

He flinched as blood speckled his face, though he almost couldn’t feel it. Like the ghost of sensation tickling at his cheeks with fingers of nothing. A great roaring man of fire bounded through the trees and cut yet another of the wraiths at the fire. “Up, Finnen! Up!” The Black Finnen seemed to dance on his feet and giggle with excitement, “Come on!”

The Black Finnen stood and beckoned him, voice high like an excited child, even as the wraiths of smoke that were supposed to be his friends upon a time were being cut down. More big men came from the trees following the Man of Fire, and as Finnen took Black Finnen’s offered hand to stand, it was as if he was no more.

Watching himself through eyes not his own, he drew a sword he didn’t remember seeing on his belt and spitted one of the men from the trees on it. An odd thing that these men stood out as such, instead of smokey shadows lost to memory. He heard himself growl as he pushed the blade deeper, felt a wave of giddiness as the warrior-boy whimpered with bloody lips and looked into his eyes with fear and surprise. As if he had been told he would never die and had been proven all wrong.

With a great roar, he ripped the blade out the side of the man and sent his gut-rope to pile at his feet following a great gout of blood, the sickening sound of meat tearing apart. Another man came at him and he dodged right, sending his blade ripping through the man’s head, leaving only the bottom half spurting black blood.

And finally, the great Man of Fire stood opposite him. The longer he looked, it was no longer a great flame rendered into the shape of a man, slowly fading out of form into yet another Nord. Hair red as fire, teeth snarling like a bear in a big slab of red, furious beard. “I was told you were taller.”

“I’ll look it when your head is dropped at your ankles.” Finnen heard himself say. And he rolled out of the way from a great, reaping arc the huge blade of the Nord made. He sprang off his feet and sent himself hurdling at the Nord.

The Nord threw himself to the side and Finnen swiped wildly to the left, looking to take the Nord’s legs from him but finding only air. Their battle raged around the clearing, swiping and growling and slicing with fury enough to match each other.

“Know the Red Bear!” The huge Nord threw down his sword, hand covering up a deep gash in his shoulder, “Face me!”

Finnen’s bounding steps carried him into the arms of Red-Bear, their hands meeting as they struggled against each other. His heart beat the faster as he saw surprise creep into the Red-Bear’s eyes as he pressed on through the torrent of the bigger man’s strength “I am Pale-Feather.” Finnen hissed, and of a sudden he felt fear of himself, “And I… am...”

He pressed on and curled the Nord’s wrists back and back until he heard him yell in pain, wrapping his hands around the Nord’s thick neck and squeezing, squeezing, “Made-

“Of death!” Finnen’s hands were squeezing tighter and tighter still, a grip of iron in hands made of ironwood.

It was so sudden and so unexpected; one moment Finnen had been asleep, tossing somewhat fitfully, and the next his eyes had opened with an insatiable hatred and malice that Daro’Vasora realized far too late that it wasn’t Finnen who opened his own eyes. His hands were grasped about her throat so tightly she couldn’t not do more than utter barely audible gurgles and grunts as his thumbs dug mercilessly into her windpipes.

Fear gripped her with blind panic; she lashed out with claws, dragging long lines of blood into his hands and arms, his neck and collarbone and chest, and nothing was making Pale-feather release her, nothing was bringing Finnen back. She felt like her throat was entirely closed, even her vocal chords wouldn’t vibrate to allow her to scream and she kicked into the dirt feebly as he pinned her into the earth, trying desperately to gasp as she struggled against death. Her head was exploding with pain from the constricted blood vessels, the lack of oxygen, the blind terror of a body knowing it couldn’t breathe. Her neck felt like it was crushing in a noose, and she tried to speak, to scream, to do anything, and her lips contorted in agony, spittle escaping as if they were rats on a sinking ship.

The face of the man who was supposed to be her lover was staring down at her with a manic joy in what he was doing. The thoughts of every memory she shared with that face felt like they were bursting like the blood vessels in her throat; she saw him looking at the lutes in Imperial City, the way he shyly looked at her when she offered to replace it. She saw him when they had trained to fight, and when he had been over her in the following bought of love-making; the face then had been so tender and compassionate, and she felt like he was her world then.

Now she knew he was going to be the end of it.

“What the fuck…” Sevari breathed at the sight of it. He’d returned to the two of them, his pack laden with rations and water, to see Finnen not only up and awake, but with his hands wrapped around Sora’s neck.

This was no lover’s quarrel. He dropped his pack and unslung his rifle from his shoulder, charging at Finnen. He stabbed at the man with the barrel, unwilling to shoot his friend. Maybe he could get him off of Sora without killing him. Maybe, just maybe. He stabbed at Finnen’s ribs again and though the skin purpled over with bruises the man seemed to shrug them off. He never took his eyes off of Sora for even a moment, so intent on killing her.

He’d seen Finnen like this, fighting with Maul. At the time he was amazed, amazed at how fast he moved despite his wounds, how strong he still was. He remembered waiting with bated breath like a man at the edge of a boxing match in a back alley. But the same fury leveled at Sora, the man’s own lover, twisted knots into his stomach. He flipped his rifle around and grabbed firmly onto the barrel. Thwack!

He hit Finnen as hard as he could, once, twice until he rolled away from Sora, panting wildly as he let go of muted little giggles. He leveled his rifle’s barrel at Finnen, “Stay there, Finnen, please just stay there.”

His voice was pleading, ready and willing to kill Finnen if he had to, but the look on Finnen’s face was what kept him from feeling that pain. It seemed the horrifying pleasure had sapped away from Finnen to be replaced with fear and confusion. As if he hadn’t even been there. “Wh-what?”

“Finnen?” Sevari asked, but was met with only silence. Sevari inched the barrel closer to Finnen, “Answer me, please.”

“What- why are you?” Finnen’s lip quivered, his arms wrapping about himself, “Sora, please, what-”

And then he saw it. There was fear in her eyes as she looked at him. She wouldn’t meet his gaze. “The dream…” he muttered, “No… no, no, no…”

“Is it you?” Sevari whispered harsh.

“I…” Finnen looked at his hands, felt at his face. There was no blood. But what those hands did to Sora for her to look like that…

Finnen got to his feet, taking a few stumbling backwards steps, eyes going from Sevari to Sora. Without a word, he turned and ran. Sevari let him go, watching him retreat and shrink back into the forests.

Daro’Vasora couldn’t even call after him; the trauma done to her throat was too great. She coughed and wheezed, her head pounding and heart torn asunder from the betrayal, the near-death experience. Finnen had warned her this would happen, and she brushed it off. She discounted his warnings, thinking she knew better than him.

She lay there, helplessly curled up in a ball, wheezing as she clutched at her own throat; she knew the skin beneath her fur was probably dark and bruised, and she still felt his hands upon her neck. She couldn’t even sob, as much as her body needed to; the pain was too great, and now she simply struggled to take in the air she so desperately tried to draw.

He turned away from where Finnen had took off to, his eyes on Sora as she writhed in the ground. As quick as he could, panting and coughing as he skidded on his knees to Sora’s side. He cradled her head in his hand, reassuringly squeezing her shoulder, “Breathe, Sora. Slow,” He said, “Slow, Sora, you’re going to be fine.”

Daro’Vasora wheezed in Sevari’s grasp, clinging to his shirt, tears piercing clenched eyes. Her voice was gone, or else she would have challenged that statement.

There was nothing fine about any of this.
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