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25th of Sun’s Height

For all the trouble that Skyrim had been going through, there was at least one person who seemed unperturbed by the whole mess – Horvald, the ‘overseer’ of Dawnstar Jail. Horvald had been Dawnstar’s jailer for the last fifteen years – always a portly man, his latest post, having been gifted to him for losing a foot to an infected wound and for having served the Dawnstar Guard for almost thirty years, had bundled up with every other element of his ‘promotion’ to turn him into a downright corpulent brute.

Horvald wasn’t the staunchest adherent of Stendarr – neither was he an entirely honest man, having had mistresses and escapades throughout his marriage, amongst other things (he had, nonetheless, cried very sincere tears of sorrow when his faithful wife had died). While this meant that you could earn yourself some privileges through information or valuables in Dawnstar Jail, he wasn’t downright corrupt either – you couldn’t buy your way out of Dawnstar Jail. He wouldn’t exactly understand anyone who would want to get out of Dawnstar Jail, either. Old Horvald had spent so much time in this dimly lit basement that, for him, this torturous abode had become as warm and welcoming as his mother’s arms.

For now, there was naught but an Imperial jailed for lollygagging in the cell, and, to the other part of the room, away from the Imperial and chained to the wall was an Orsimer, who was apparently a Kamal collaborator. Horvald had learned the details from Jod, who had brought the lass earlier today, alongside a bunch of young guards (ah, where were the guards of old, like him and Sven? No criminal could get away those days). He knocked on his peg leg instinctively as he turned the page on the book he had been reading for the last five years. At least he had gotten to the second volume earlier this year.

Before starting up on reading the new page, he took a moment to contemplate the time. The interrogators were meant to arrive earlier. Had something happened? Horvald thought of going up and asking the Captain of the Guard, but then again, waiting wouldn’t hurt, unlike having to hobble all the way out of the jail and then going up the stairs. He took a sip from his flagon of mead.

‘’Oh, for Mara’s sake, I said I was waiting for a friend! For how long do I have to stay here, you damned, lawless barbarians?’’ The Imperial shouted suddenly, clanging the shackle around his ankle to the ground. The ringing, crude sound echoed through the jail, making both the Orsimer lass and Horvald grit their teeth. Leaning back on his chair, Horvald let out a hearty, frustrated roar.

‘’Don’t make me come in there and break your legs, you blaspheming little twit! Shut your mouth, you hear?’’

‘’Oh, it’s all because I’m an Imperial, isn’t it? Bloody Nords, can’t tell a sailor from a thief! Then again, ain’t no difference for you on that matter!’’

‘’You keep talking and I’m going to grind your knee to a pulp!’’

‘’Like you did with yours, eh?’’ The Imperial retorted slyly, and an enraged Horvald slid his chair back, and grabbed the crutch that had been leaning against his table to get up on his feet quickly. Hobbling towards the cell door with the best of his ability, he grabbed one of the iron bars to balance himself as the fingers on his other hand fumbled to find the correct key.

Nearly foaming at the mouth, Horvald managed to frantically get the door open, before almost sliding off his feet and falling on his rear. The Imperial let out a defiant chuckle, and Horvald kicked into the cell, throwing his crutch in. ‘’You bastard, I’m going to choke you, you bastard-‘’

‘’Horvald! What in Oblivion is going on here?’’ Roared out a woman’s voice, assertive, yet tired and obviously frustrated. The Court Wizard, Madena, had arrived, with two guards holding her tools for writing. Late arrivals they were, but they had come just in time to save the Imperial from a thorough beating. Horvald fumbled to find a proper excuse, and, failing, instinctively fell back to his grumbling.

‘’Milady, this damned Imperial’s been pokin’ fun at my bum leg again, won’t let me read, the little shit-‘’

‘’That’s enough. Go take a break at the inn, Horvald. I do not wish to be disturbed during interrogation.’’

Gritting his teeth in frustration, Horvald left, glaring angrily at the grinning Imperial.

A few hours later the interrogation, Horvald came back into the Jail, holding a tray of food carrying two bowls of soup. Obviously mellowed out from his bout of drinking, he seemed almost amiable, whistling a tune to himself as he opened the door to the cell and brought down the tray. The Imperial lashed ravenously at the bowl, obviously hungry, and Horvald replied by spitting a huge, snotty mouthful of spit into one of the bowls. Smiling contently, he put that certain bowl of soup in front of the Imperial, making sure to forget giving him his hunk of bread. ‘’Enjoy yer meal, lad,’’ he said, feeding off the Imperial’s brewing hatred.

He turned to the Orc afterwards. She had been quiet throughout her incarceration – a collaborator she may be, but she’d been respectful to the laws of his jail. He slid the tray in her direction, leaving her with a bowl of hot soup and two lumps of stale bread.

‘’Uh, Barzag, right? I’ve got good news and bad news for ya,’’ he said as he walked out of the cell. ‘’Good news is, this is your last night in the Jail. You’ll be leaving tomorrow morning.’’ He shut the cell door and locked it before continuing.

‘’Bad news is, you’re off for the mines. You’ll be kept there for labor until further orders.’’
And on a more cheerful note: dual wielding is now making it's debut as a combat skill.

Edit: also added Kothringi as an extinct language, and imga whispering as wildlife communication.

imga is not for wildlife, they are very noble and of courtly mannerisms
Sadri and Eirik go hand in hand.

hand in hand

I have a good feeling about you already.

I see you also subscribe to the Detective Harry Callahan school of investigation.

Shit's getting even worse!
Echoes of a Waking Nightmare

''My slumbers—if I slumber—are not sleep,
But a continuance of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not: in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within; and yet I live, and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing men.''

-From Lord Byron's Manfred

At first glance, it was not an unusual sight, although it was certainly marvelousand unexpected of the otherwise normal inn. The inn was lively, lit up by a motley dance of colored flames from various enchanted candles, and the beauty of the serving girls was certainly mind-blowing. Luscious and ripe they were, of differing physiques and of multiple races – some of them seemed more at home in a battlefield, for they were scarred, and some looked unkempt and homely, as if they had just woken up from their beds to serve at the tables. Despite the constant movement and laughter, the inn was largely quiet.

Sadri looked at the table – he was sitting alongside fellow Dunmer, who were all eating from a large, silver plate of spiced salmagundi sitting in the middle of the table. Despite the compulsion that he should be hungry, Sadri was not in the mood for eating, and instead took to inspecting his associates, for they all looked similar, and their similarity to each other unnerved Sadri to a point that he felt droplets of fear dripping into his stomach and creeping up his chest.

He looked to his left. The Dunmer, who was throwing shrimps from the plate voraciously into his mouth and then half-chewing on them before gobbling on more, turned to Sadri, likely having felt the Dunmer’s inquisitive gaze, and gave him a boisterous smile, revealing all the chewed-up shrimp In his mouth and stuck all over his lips, before patting him on the shoulder. ‘’S’good seein’ ya! Haven’t treated me well, have ya?’’ The mer shouted, spilling shrimp all over the table, and laughed. Not realizing what he had done to the mer, Sadri attempted to apologize, but he was bashed off his apology. ‘’No matter, no matter, make yerself at home!’’

Sadri thought that he should feel disgusted, but his mind was too busy trying to approximate where he had first seen the mer, and his eyes were too busy looking for clues, which is when he realized the starfish stuck on the Dunmer’s arm, pieces of moss hanging off his shoulders, and the constant dripping of water off the mer’s body. He opened his eyes in fear, but could not do much aside from that. As if something had pinned him to the chair he was sitting on, he barely found the strength within him to move his eyes away from the mer. He felt all of himself droop down, almost melt, and found horror in this lack of control.

That’s when he came face to face with the mer facing him on the other side of the table. This one was young, almost a child, although his face looked quite similar to the sea-mer sitting to his side. He was inspecting a figurine of what Sadri thought to be Ebonarm with one hand, while squeezing lemon onto his part of the plate with the other. Sadri, lapsed out of his cold fear, wanted to chastise the child for dripping lemon on the table, but before he could do that, a grim, middle-aged Dunmer woman in a plain dress came and took the figurine from the boy, warning him that the toy would go back if he kept taking it to dinner, and smiled warmly at Sadri, before putting zucchini pancakes in front of the boy. Sadri, recognizing the woman all too well, jumped out from his seat and fell in shame and fear, much to his friends’ chagrin. His fear had partially devolved into denial – there was no doubt this was not happening.

Looking up while gathering himself from the floor, Sadri finally saw the fellow to his right; a desiccated corpse covered with scars, lacking an eye, and a good part of the left side of his head. Covered in a ragged, bloodied and dusty coat, the dead mer got up from his seat, revealing a large, gaping hole on his chest, and offered his hand to Sadri. Mentally stunned, Sadri took the hand, only to fall upon having it detach from the wrist with a rusty clonk. Holding the rusted metal hand amidst his palm, Sadri threw it at the corpse waiting atop him like a vulture in denial of all that was going on around him, panicking to get away.

‘’That’s no way to treat an elder!’’ The corpse replied, his head lying on its side on the ground, having been ripped off from the neck with Sadri’s throw. As if mocking Sadri’s fear, it began to laugh, opening its maw further with each cackle. As it cackled, its mouth grew larger, and larger, until it grew large enough that it swallowed the inn and Sadri with it.

Sadri woke in a puddle of cold sweat, his eyes darting across the bed and the ceiling in complete frustration and fear. Finding himself trembling amidst a flurry of hyperventilating breaths, he held on to the edge of the bed, forcing his fingers into the mat to find some strength, and after a couple of seconds of adjusting, began slowing down his breathing as to not end up suffering a convulsion.

After a moment of stillness, and a couple of seconds dedicated to appreciating this more stable state of mind, Sadri got up from his bed and sighed, trying to make sense of what he had just seen. He had heard of Dawnstar once being victim to an epidemic of nightmares, revealed to be because of a Vaermina cult that had once taken refuge in one of the abandoned forts nearby. Perhaps the story had decided to pour out of his subconscious, or perhaps their influence still lurked here. Whatever was the case, Sadri decided on getting some fresh air.

Outside, at this hour, there was practically nobody around except Sadri and a couple of fishermen preparing their boat. The cold, having sent its shivers through Sadri when he had first gotten out of the inn, was now found accommodating by the Dunmer, whose self chastisement for not having worn his coat had since turned into contentment for the refreshing properties of cool air. He walked by the coast, taking in as much of the seaside environment as he could, and distracted himself with Masser and Secunda’s reflections atop the calm waters, sitting down by the shore and watching glimmers of red and white overtake one another in an unending dance atop the shimmering sea.

As waves broke and swashes of water washed the beach’s edge, Sadri felt somewhat more relaxed, as if the sound of the coast was washing away the remnants of horror in his mind. He let himself relax, and looked on as something swam by. Not being able to see it properly thanks to it being night and his bad eye, Sadri moved somewhat closer to the waters, and closed his bad eye to take a proper look, and, as expected, failed.

Not having sated his curiosity, Sadri walked somewhat to the West, to the edge of the bay, to see them closer. Were they narwhals? He had not seen any narwhals for years. Childishly, Sadri hoped that it would be narwhals, his pace getting faster with the thought. At the edge, amongst various makeshift seine nets set by the more intrepid amongst the poorer children of Dawnstar, Sadri walked almost knee deep into the waters, having noticed more of these oddities slowly floating away. He squinted for a while, and then turned back, confused, before almost tugging on something like a heavy branch. He cursed, and scanned his surroundings for whatever that had almost tripped him.

That’s when he saw a pair of glassy eyes glaring at him from behind a net. Sadri’s eyes opened wide and his upper body twitched backwards instinctively, before calming down to make sense of it all. He took a closer look at the bloated, lifeless corpse in half caution and half trepidation, and saw a faded blue tabard, bearing the livery of Windhelm, tugging at the corpse’s torso as the water ebbed back and forth.

Comprehending the situation only made Sadri’s horror grow further. Gritting his teeth and trembling slightly, Sadri looked back at the water, trying to gauge the direction from which the bodies came, and found desolation in the confirmation of his idea that the drift, and the bodies, had been coming from the direction of Windhelm.

Walking by the coast frantically, now with a clear category to fill, Sadri stumbled upon a couple more of bodies, of civilians, guardsmen and militia, caught up on the fishing nets or just having drifted ashore. For a moment, he stalled, finding himself faced with many options that felt ultimately futile. He stood for a few moments, sighed, and walked back towards the docks, shouting at the fishermen for help.
Is it too late to *whistle*?
It did not take long for Balen to notice that during the short time he had sat motionless and observant, everything had almost went to complete shit. More ‘allies’ of Sibassius had appeared, in some of the worst ways possible – Oblivion, in truth, after witnessing the way the Khajiit had strutted in despite the animal-like Bosmer, he had expected the next man to come after to enter the fray on a meteorite. Observing the Wood Elf closely (had she not been such an uncivilized specimen, Balen would likely have chided himself for focusing on desires of the flesh again – big mistake), he quickly came to see that his assumptions weren’t incorrect, and that she had almost let go of the bowstring.

Mindfulness was a curse of its own.

Balen felt a tinge of comfort when Erissil stood closer to her rather than the rest of the party, not unlike what a regular person would feel when a cat would not be intimidated by his or her presence, and would instead even stay close in an apparent show of companionship. While Balen was not a very animal-loving person, he still found comfort in their presence, and the Wood Elf’s presence felt exactly like that. Had he not been a cautious and logical person, he likely would’ve let some protective urges take root. Balen could differentiate his emotions and focus on them separately, however, so he disregarded the protective urge and focused simply on the small comfort given by the feeling of acting like an intermediary, a person defusing the tension, at least until Erissil spoke.

Her mispronunciation of Hector’s surname formed a very dry and faint smile on Balen’s lips, although even more bemusing than that was the Imperial’s attempt to look amicable in the eyes of the tribeswoman. There was something childishly funny in it – the stern commander, bumbling, trying his best to give the impression of an understanding and friendly person, as if he were speaking to a child – then again, the Bosmer did act somewhat like a primal child.

As Hector introduced everyone to Erissil (and, by extension, Balen), another man popped up out of the blue, wearing a coat with fur shoulders, likely trying to tempt the Earth Bones to give him a heat stroke. They truly were a motley bunch – Balen was reminded somewhat of when he had first met Hector – everyone had kept popping up similarly, and as uncomfortable as it felt to say it, the expedition had not gone all that well (one could argue disastrous, even). At least he and Hector had survived.

The ‘troop’, as he had just nicknamed the young man called Roland, greeted the newcomer with caution, and likely because he felt that the group had not exactly bonded, took out a flagon of wine from his backpack and offered it to the ‘fellowship’. Lecturing the others about how shared habits had helped his men back during the war and how it would help them to ‘triumph’ now, he offered the wine. Balen immediately found the man supremely boring.

‘’Thank you, but I don’t drink,’’ Balen said passively, although he intoned it as to not give out a feeling of alienation and condescension by poking holes into the troop's claim, but rather a polite refusal.
<Snipped quote by Peik>

Like from the war, or just flashbacks with a bunch of Vietnamese people?

<Snipped quote by Peik>

Damn Blanks.

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