A collab brought to you by @POOHEAD189 and MortarionAnvil; 21st of Second Seed, Night.
Alim stepped up the stairs of the Anvil Inn, going up to the room he had acquired earlier in the day. He had a very self satisfied smile to his face, after having a lovely dinner with a woman he would enjoy having dinner with again probably. He’d even dazzled her a bit, though a part of him was just glad he had a fine night, and he helped her have the same. All in all, it was a fine day. But he was tired even when he sat down to enjoy a meal with Rhona, now he felt like he was about to collapse. He nearly fell back down the stairs when he turned the corner and came face to face with Jaraleet.
When he saw Alim about to fall back down the stairs, Jaraleet’s reaction was immediate. He reached with both of his arms and held the half-blooded redguard by his arms, holding him in place for a few seconds until he was sure that Alim wasn’t about to fall down once he let go. Alim had already placed a foot behind him to steady himself, but Jaraleet did indeed help.“Easy there….Alim, I believe it was?” He started, having to pause for a few seconds to remember the half-blood’s name. “My apologies for startling you, I was about to head down to the inn for a drink. Why don’t you join me? Consider it my way of apologizing for the fright and for, well, having you nearly fall from the stairs.”
“Dibella’s tits!” Alim exclaimed, as his first sight round the corner was a crimson and black reptilian face rather than a hallway. “Jaraleet, you scared the Oblivion out of me. I’m sorry I just...I’m tired is all. A drink?” he echoed after a moment, gathering his thoughts. “UuuuuUuUuUuUuUuUuUuUuUuuuuuuh suuuuure, yeah. That’d be cool. Lemme just…” Alim held up a hand to hold Jaraleet there, then he literally leapt down two flights of stairs and peeked into the common room. Rhona is no longer there, sweet
, he thought to himself. It would be poor flirting to have a date (?) and then come back down after he left with Jaraleet. But luckily, the coast was clear. He bounded back up and gave a nod. “Drinks sound good.”
Jaraleet chuckled softly at Alim’s reaction, nodding slightly when the redguard held a hand up to indicate him to stay put. “I’m glad to hear that.” The Argonian said when the half-blooded breton returned. “Might I ask why jumping down two flights of stairs was necessary? Trying to avoid someone?” He prodded, wondering about the reason behind Alim’s….somewhat dramatic actions. Without waiting for a reply, Jaraleet descended down the flight of stairs, sure that Alim was following and sat near one of the empty tables. “Do not worry about money, I’ll pay. As I said before, consider this my apology for startling you.” The assassin spoke, signaling one of the waistressess that were wandering throughout the tavern with one of his hands before turning to look at his sudden drinking companion once more. “So, Alim, how have you been holding up lately?” The Argonian decided to start with, a simple enough question with which to start a conversation. After all, it had been many days since they had left Skingrad so it was a wide enough topic of conversation to start with.
“I appreciate your kindness, thanks.” Alim replied, taking the drink the barmaid brought him. She eyed him, clearly recognizing him from before. He eyed her back until she walked away. “Yeah, I would not want to be rude to Rhona, I just ate dinner with her...as for how I am? Pretty good. It’s been...different, but still close to what I’m used to. Danger and accusations. This time I’m simply glad the latter is not pointed at me.” Alim scratched his nose and leaned back on his chair, letting the heat from the lamps relax him. “Then again, I could definitely do without the slaughter of women and children.” he said, his tone was light but there was a gravity to the very words he spoke. “I always could.” He ended the thought right before he took his next sip.
“It is no problem, your group welcomed me and fed me when the Rangers returned after our first, and sole, successful mission, buying a couple of drinks is nothing.” Jaraleet replied, nodding when Alim mentioned Rhona. “Ah, the other newcomer. It’s good to hear that she is well, or that’s what I’m inferring based on what you’ve said.” The Argonian spoke, taking a sip of his drink. The Haj-Eix let out a dark chuckle when Alim mentioned that it had been different, taking another sip of his drink before speaking again. “It doesn’t gets much stranger than the return of the Dwemer and the Dominion making a blatant powergrab mid-invasion, doesn’t it?” He spoke, tone light.
Jaraleet nodded at Alim’s comment about being able to do with the slaughter of women and children. “It’s a dark line of work the one we thread, its best to….close oneself to such feelings I’ve found, lest they drag you down and drown you.” He spoke somberly, looking at his drink before taking another sip of his drink. “Hmmmm, I assume that you watched Vasora’s rather….uncalled display of honesty, no?” The Argonian asked, deciding to steer the conversation away from darker topics at least for the time being. “It was a rather unpleasant thing, wasn’t it?” The assassin continued on, picking his words carefully. After all, he didn’t know how Alim felt about the accusations that Vasora laid on Rhea’s feet and for all that he knew the redguard shared the same concerns as the Khajiit woman.
Alim lifted his mug up to get a refill or the Imperial Ale. “I did,” he revealed. “I’m certain Daro’Vasora has her reasons, though I don’t think her accusations against Rhea were truthful. She’s been nothing but a fine leader from what I’ve seen. Then again, I’ve only done a few things with her like supply gathering.” The mug was refilled, and he took a good sip of the brew. “I also share her concerns on Severus being announced a governor, and the Thalmor presence is problematic. I think our Khajiit friend misread the situation. Either way, until I find incriminating evidence against one or the other, Rhea is my leader and Vasora is my teammate. Of course, I always stay away from most people when it comes to teamwork. It leaves me ample room to maneuver and flee just in case.”
“It is a wise policy to keep, especially in this line of work.” Jaraleet said in response to Alim’s words, lifting his own mug to get it refilled. Once the barmaid had done so, the Haj-Eix took a sip of the ale before he spoke again. “I do agree with you, I think Vasora’s words were hollow and bereft of merit. Admittedly I haven’t been with your group for too long in comparison to you or her, but your words seem to confirm what I thought already.” The assassin said, taking another sip of his ale. “That is to say that Rhea is a capable leader.” He quickly added in case his words weren’t clear enough. “Though, on the matter of Rhea, it didn’t escape my notice the way that she seemed to react when Severus was announced as the new count of Skingrad.” He said carefully, thinking how to best breach the topic. “You said that you had worked with her in the past and so I ask of you, is there any particular reason why Rhea would react in such a way?”
“Well...Severus already betrayed the city of Skingrad by letting her and I past the walls at night, and with the arrival of the Thalmor, I would think there would be some sort of correlation.” The ale was muddling his thoughts nearly now, but he still felt crisp. “I haven’t seen anything explicit, but it does seem obvious.”
“Ahhh, I see, so that’s why Rhea reacted in such a way.” The Argonian said in response to Alim’s words, shaking his head slightly. “Poor woman, she must feel as if she is solely responsible for Skingrad’s annexation to the Dominion. Must be why she said nothing back to Daro’Vasora.” Jaraleet said with a sigh. He felt bad for Rhea, the annexation of Skingrad had gone far too smoothly for it to be merely attributed to whatever Severus had gotten in return for helping them. Regardless of what she did, the annexation of Skingrad was gonna happen and due to this reason the Haj-Eix pitied the woman.
“And what about you Alim?” The Argonian asked his drinking companion, taking a sip of his ale. “It didn’t escape my notice that you mentioned that Severus let Rhea and
you slip past Skingrad’s walls.” He commented in a quiet, albeit nonchalant, tone. “How do you feel over the whole situation?” The assassin asked curiously, wondering what Alim’s perspective was on the whole situation.
“I’m afraid you’re asking the worst person,” Alim chuckled helplessly. “I believe we did, perhaps, accidentally did have a hand in what happened, but when we...requisitioned the city’s supplies, it was for survival, you know? I often have to do things that are against the law in order to live or to serve the clients that pay me. I never try to harm anything in the process, but sometimes…” he let his words trail off. “Maybe Severus knew that the Count would have a fiasco on his hands and would be deposed soon if he couldn’t control his city or foodstuffs. He never left our sight for long when we had infiltrated into the walls.”
“You will find no recriminations from me Alim, do not worry.” The Haj-Eix said, fully honest. “Survival often calls for one to use underhanded methods, this I understand and this holds even more true when you are trying to keep not only yourself but other people alive.” He continued on, taking a sip of his ale once he was done speaking. “I’m not sure if this will help, but I don’t believe that either you or Rhea are responsible for Skingrad’s annexation.” The Saxhleel said, reaching across the table to pat Alim’s shoulder amicably. “The Dominion moved...too smoothly, as if this was an operation that was months in the planning.” He continued on, chewing on his lower lip when he realized that he was perhaps saying too much. “Maybe the ale is starting to addle my mind.
” The assassin thought, shaking his head. “But, well, what do I know, I’m just a mercenary, eh? But what I do
know is that neither you and Rhea should hold yourselves accountable for what happened at Skingrad, you simply did the best that you could.”
“Thank you, my friend.” Alim said, an inward smile on his lips as he gazed into his swiftly emptying mug. Everyone was different, but he never did think he would find a comforting comrade in the form of an Argonian assassin. “I try not to think on it too much, helps me sleep at night. Speaking of which, I am interested in your profession, or how you go by utilizing it in our group context. I suppose I’ve been an assassin once or twice, though it was never apart of a contract. It was usually done out of survival and simple need. But still…”
“You’re a perceptive man, Alim.” Jaraleet said, shaking his head slightly and letting out a chuckle once he had gotten over the alarm that the half-blooded breton had managed to deduce his true profession. “I thought I hadn’t given too many clues away as to my true profession, I don’t think I’d have gotten as warm a welcome as I did if I had introduced myself as an assassin after all.” The Argonian said, taking a sip of his ale before setting the now empty mug on the table. “But, to answer your question, I can work as a good scout, sneaking through cities has given me ample skills to evade people so there’s that. I also know a fair bit about alchemy, mostly about making poisons but I can prepare most antidotes to them as well. I suppose that’s how I could contribute to our little group.” The Haj-Eix explained to Alim. “Though, I do am curious, how did you figure out that I was an assassin?” He asked quietly, so that the question wouldn’t be heard by other patrons of the inn. “Oh, and if you’d do me the favour of keeping this between us it’d be appreciated. I doubt many would be accepting of the fact that I’m a part of the group if they knew my true profession.”
A grin bloomed on Alim’s face, and he clacked his mug against Jaraleet’s in good faith. “I can tell deft movements when I see them. And you didn’t look the investigatory type, so I made an educated guess. I am glad I still have an eye for that sort of thing. After the Dwemer attack, it’s hard to tell what is and isn’t real anymore.” The mixed breed man cleared his throat and down the last of his drink. How many was that now? He should probably stop. He could already feel his voice slurring a bit. “Don’t worry, discretion is something I am good at. I might have a flair to how I am, but I’m nothing if not a professional. Besides, we’ll keep this entire conversation between us, eh? I’d rather remain a neutral party in our group politics.”
“Of that you don’t have to worry my friend, my lips are sealed.” The Argonian said with a smile. “Much like you, discretion is something I’m good at. But, then again, that’s probably an invaluable skill in both our lines of work, isn’t it?” Jaraleet said good-naturedly, chuckling slightly. “I am curious about something Alim, what got you mixed in with this whole group? Most of the members don’t strike me as being thieves, and you seem to have been amongst them prior to the whole Skingrad situation so you’ll have to pardon my curiosity as to how you found yourself amongst Rhea’s group.” He asked, raising his mug for another refill while waiting for Alim’s answer.
“We were one of the expeditions that entered a Dwemer tomb up north,” he replied, choosing not to refill his mug. He felt as if he had one too many. “And they hired me to scout, look for traps, find lost team members and if need be, skip over traps and procure Dwemer artifacts. Things didn’t go...according to plan exactly. But Rhea had heard of me through a contact and hired me on. I’m not exactly famous, but as far as adventurers go I’ve made a name for myself in certain parts of Tamriel, and it seemed Akatosh saw fit to hire me onto the team that first learned of the threat. Who knew?” he ended with a shrug, as if it was all a long joke.
Jaraleet listened intently as Alim related the tale of how he had come to join Rhea’s group. The fact that the half-blooded redguard said that Akatosh had seemed fit to hire him onto the team that first learned of the Dwemer threat piqued the interest of the Haj-Eix in particular. “Pardon me if I’m being too blunt…” The Argonian began in a quiet tone. “But are you implying that this group is somehow related to the return of the Dwemer?” He asked curiously but still keeping his tone low so that the few patrons that remained wouldn’t hear that part of their discussion. Jaraleet had no certainty that what he was saying held a grain of truth but Alim’s words definitively implied that the group was related to the threat in some sort of shape, of this the assassin was certain at least.
Alim shook his head. “Now that is the question that I ask myself.” He said, and grew quiet for a few scant moments. “We infiltrated a Dwemer ruin that reached down hundreds of feet into the earth...one thing led to another...the mountain exploded.” He said, and sighed. “Don’t ask me to get into more detail than that, the ringing in my ears will come back. We awoke and picked up the pieces and traveled to the Imperial City. Then Dwemer ships invaded the very center of Cyrodiil. Is there a causation? There could be...I certainly hope not.”
“Hmmmm, I see.” Replied Jaraleet, taking his mug and taking a sip of the ale. “Don’t worry my friend, I won’t insist. Pardon me for my curiosity.” He added after a few seconds, deciding that it would be of no use to press Alim for more details. It was clear that the topic made him uncomfortable and that any further insistence on his part would do nothing but sour the mood of the thief even further. “But it hasn’t been all that bad, has it? From what I’ve seen the group seems fairly close, no? At least there’s that, I mean.”
“Oh, they’re as fine of a group as any.” Alim said, amusement in his voice and an honest smile. “I am glad to know most of them, and the others I simply haven’t gotten to know well enough yet. But yes, it’s not all been bad. I mean, somehow they’ve given me a good time even without the usual suspects of fun. God, jewels, and nights with women.”
“See? It hasn’t been all terrible.” Jaraleet said with a light chuckle, downing the remaining ale in his cup in one gulp. “But I should be about heading to bed. Thanks for the chat my friend, it was a pleasure getting to know you better.” The assassin said as he stood up from the table and began making his way towards the stairs before suddenly turning back to face Alim. “Oh, and Alim, if I were you I’d get your back checked. You do a good enough job of keeping it hidden, but it seems a little stiff.” The Argonian said, smirking slightly, before he began making his way upstairs.
Alim blinked, taken aback. But he smiled after he composed himself and raised his glass. “And there it is,” referring to Jaraleet truly being an experienced assassin. Alim would head up to his room and do his stretches. Fate would have it that the next morning, a few problems would be discussed and solves...