Status

Recent Statuses

2 mos ago
Current i am expert in small pee pee
1 like
3 mos ago
What do you mean status? I thought this was a Hot Topic shirt slogan generator
1 like
3 mos ago
@Jessica Bunny, If you have the file, I believe it should be timestamped, and if you submitted it by email or a dropbox, that should be timestamped too. See if you can't submit an appeal and show that
3 mos ago
Henceforth biphobia shall be addressed with deadly force
5 likes
3 mos ago
My idealist notion of education is education for its own sake and enrichment of the self, opposed to education as a means to a material end. Again that's idealist. Sad that it's become what it is now.
2 likes

Bio

Maybe the real plot was the friends we made along the way. [Last Updated: April 23, 2020]


I'm 24 years old and my major is in English! SGA senator rep, honors program graduate, and secretary for Social Inquiry/Social Action (SISA).

Obviously I enjoy reading and writing if I made an account on this website, and I like to think I'm not half bad at it. I first started writing and roleplaying at the start of 2010 and I've stuck with it ever since. I've had a couple of dry spells along the way, but I always seem to come back to it. I enjoy most genres, but if I had to pick a couple of favorites, they would be sci-fi and high fantasy, with the latter being preferred. Some of my favorite and best characters have come from Elder Scrolls roleplays! What can I say? It appeals to the D&D nerd in me.

Ask any of my friends and they'll tell you that the history sections of nearly all of my characters are obnoxiously long. Absurdly long. Probably too long. I probably definitely have a problem, and it's because I get so carried away with telling their story. I want my readers to know how their story influences them as a person and I love creating tragedy and watching a character overcome those tragedies and finding themselves, watching their identities shatter and coming back together. I've always been a fan of characters overcoming their weaknesses and obstacles and I try to make that show in many of my characters. You could say that I even try to write my characters in such a way so that they can inspire me, as pretentious as that might sound.

I also try to research whatever it is I'm writing about so that I'm not just pulling shit out of my ass - unless that's what my character is doing, in which case I try to make sure that's made clear in my writing. Just because I'm a melodramatic piece of shit doesn't mean I don't try to write a compelling story. I typically enjoy writing characters with a grey morality because evil is cringey and benevolence is exhausting, so anything in between I think is the sweet spot. That being said, I still like to write characters who are outgoing and friendly. Even in the characters with a "positive morality", I try my best to incorporate flaws so that they still feel human. I've written an artist who loves being alive, is a compulsive flirt, and tries to see the beauty in all things. He is also a coward, a fool, and sometimes he's accidentally a thoughtless heart-breaker. I've also written a high-school valedictorian, who was a humble and intelligent young woman who wants to do right by the world and help others as they've helped her. This came after her depression post dropping out of Yale due to a bad drug problem. She's been clean for a while now, but her past haunts her. I've written a priestess who has suffered through an immense trauma and while she is typically a soft-spoken and compassionate individual, her trauma manifests itself through her buried frustration and bitterness, which stems from her crisis of faith.

So there you have it. Hope we can write together some time!




Prime Rib Boneheads
@Dragonbud
@Luminous Beings
@Maxx
@Ghost Note
@JunkMail


These Tickle My Funny Bone
You can find me in:

Hollow Moon 2240 by @SepticGentleman
The Elder Scrolls: Fruits of Contention - Wayrest by @Gcold
The Elder Scrolls: Days of Night by @Stormflyx

Most Recent Posts


The gravity of the day's mission was not lost on the company's chaplain. The black robed priest was up since before dawn in meditation and prayer, and finding himself once again in solemn contemplation over the map and the figures and units scrawled and placed over it. The heat of the coming day was beginning to rise, and he knew that the Jikari sun would not favor a drawn out battle for the fighters of the company. His fingers were tracing the distance from the treeline to the tower, then resting on the figures representing the bandits.

He looked around at the company, assessing what their strengths and weaknesses were -- what little he knew of them, at least. There were many archers in the company, that much he knew. That is something they should capitalize on, though they would be at a disadvantage when firing up at the crossbowmen, who possessed the high ground and tower battlements. Still, taking them out would ensure the fewest casualties. With Iroh’s blessing, there wouldn’t be any.

“The tower was made to be a defensible position,” Irae said with surprising levity, as he set down a cup of hot black tea in front of Amelia with a knowing look, “but they’re looking for trade caravans, not armed battalions. If we charge in and they see our numbers, the men on the ground will retreat inside the tower and lock themselves in while their crossbows fire down on our people.”

His finger returned to the treeline and continued, “What we can do is have a couple of our own archers and crossbowmen fire shots at the crossbowmen manning the battlements first, from the cover of the treeline while the rest of our troops stay a bit further behind. It's no longer than two-hundred yards, so your bows should make it, but they won't be easy shots. If the men on the ground think we’re only a few people that they can take care of, the moment we lure them over is the moment we gain control of the battlefield. We can then take them out and immediately take the tower with few to no arrows taking out our own men.”

His critical eyes scanned over the men and women in the company. Having only been with this group for a few months, he only knew what a few of them were capable of and wasn’t necessarily filled with confidence, but he’d try to keep them from needlessly dying regardless. They probably thought similar of him, who didn’t look the part of the fighter and smelled too nice, like sandalwood, and too clean to be telling them what to do. But he hoped that through respecting the men and women he was serving, he’d be respected in return. Among the crowd he was scouring, faeries were scarce in the company but they were around. The ability to fly was a tactical advantage that they ought to capitalize on.

“Those with the ability to fly should probably scale the walls and enter the tower from the top while the ground troops enter the tower from the ground. It’s a classic pincer maneuver used to great effect in the Siege of Maceron. Any arguments?”
@JunkMail @SepticGentleman @Fernstone Accepted.

@Spoopy Scary Ur gay.

...

...

But also accepted.


Your intimidation is the most flattering compliment I could ever receive.
ft. @Leidenschaft and @Stormflyx

Wheat was grounded in a wooden bowl with blue flower petals, its powdery germ caking with the plant’s moisture. A green egg was cracked into it as a binding agent and continued to be mixed until the mixture became like batter, and water was gradually whisked into the developing potion. Bruno wasn’t much of an alchemist. He saw himself as having no aptitude for magic, and what he did know of alchemy he just chalked up to basic medicine and was only a little better than eating raw poppy. He just knew that some ingredients had anti-inflammatory properties and that he could combine them. How much that would help Janus, though…

Bruno looked over the man sleeping in his bed, the salve over his wounds staining his bandages, and the medicine bowl on the nightstand empty. Either way, Janus was going to live. Whether or not he’d wake soon, or whether he’d still be in pain when he did, was uncertain.

The chair he sat in was by the bed’s foot, and his face was inches away from the only window in the cabin. An arrow was knocked on his short bow, firmly in the man’s grip. Bozo was as restless and alert as he was, it seemed, with a low growl perpetually sitting at the base of the dog’s throat, ready to bark the moment something was off. He was a well-trained and dutiful hound that seemed to ignore the requests for affection from Bruno’s guests, who was grateful to have a companion who’d keep watch should everyone else fall asleep. But sleep, he suspected, wasn’t going to find him tonight. Nor should it, for his home his last bastion and he wasn’t about to let it fall. He made a point of telling the others to keep quiet and to not make any light so that it would stay that way.

The sound of groaning from behind called for him, but the shepherd's eyes didn’t peel away from the fence outside.

“You owe me new bed covers.” Bruno grumbled.

“Ain’t crawled myself in here.” Janus squinted out at the big, dark silhouette of Bruno. More so from the headache, and he figured his irritability could be blamed on the same. “How long?”

“Not too long. Couldn’t have been more than an hour.” Bruno finally turned to look at his newly awakened guest. He still looked like he was in rough shape. “Sorry if you still feel like shit. I ain’t much of a doctor, I only know a few tricks. How are you holding up?”

“Ah,” Janus said, trying to sit up, but the words halted in his throat in a grunt when his body wanted nothing of that. He conceded and remained laying, “Could’ve swore you looked like a chirurgeon from the cities.”

He sighed, staring up at the ceiling in the dark room. There was almost no difference between the umbras of Bruno’s house and the sky outside. He looked at the big man’s gleaming eyes in the darkness, and then looked away, “I’m alive.” Janus said simply, “Figure that’s about as best an outcome as any.”

“Do you always do that?” He asked. “Crazy and stupid things, I mean, like charging toward your death. You’re lucky it wasn’t the sharp end that hit your head, lest you be tithing it to that monster’s shoulders.”

“I’d have done the rational thing, you and me wouldn’t be talking right now.”

“It’s impossible to say what would’ve happened, but by Akatosh, we’re here now.” Bruno sighed, looking back out the window. Still no sign of life -- or unlife, as it was now. Then again, it was still too dark to tell, and he was simply looking for any changes in shadow. “Your horse is outside and everyone else is safe. You might be crazy, but I’ll be damned if you haven’t earned your keep.”

“Oh, what consolation that is.” Janus said deadpan, growling as he fought through the hundred aches he felt just to win the battle of sitting up, “I left my sword. Don’t think they make them like that up here neither.”

“Don’t have any spares lying ‘round?” Janus fixed Bruno with a small smile.

“You still have that axe, don’t ya? How many weapons do you need? Never mind that, I already gave you my bed.” He replied with a chuckle. It quickly subsided though, and he exhaled a long and tired sigh. Then, he asked, “Where did you get your training? You might look like one of them brigands infesting the roads, but you sure as hell don’t move like ‘em. You ain’t a mercenary either, because every damn merc I ever met is looking for work and won’t shut the hell up about how good they are. So, what is it?”

Janus’ eyes went to where Bruno’s were, wishing he at least had a crossbow to aim past the fence posts. He wouldn’t be crossing blades any time soon, but he could still shoot. He sighed, deciding not to avoid Bruno’s question any longer, “Ain’t a Legion man.” Janus said, hushed as if the dead might stir, “Just someone with skills the Empire wanted. Back then, I was more’n happy to.”

“Call me a patriot. But... I’d have done it for any reason back then, being honest.” He looked down at his hands, bloody and scabbed and scarred. “‘Fore tonight, I thought them days were done.”

“Anyway, the sword’s important.” It was a few long moments filled only with the chirping of crickets and a soft breeze before Janus wanted to turn the conversation away from where he’d come, “You’re handy with that axe.”

It didn’t surprise Bruno that his guest was a soldier. He might’ve looked a fool, but there was discipline about him even if it wasn’t always obvious. He was coy though, so the man must’ve had more brains than your average foot soldier. Whatever his story was, he didn’t intend on pressing for more details than that.

“It’s easier chopping logs, if I’m being honest.” Bruno answered. “But I live out here on my own, and the guards don’t patrol this far out. It ain’t the first time I had to turn the axe on somethin’ else. Actually the company is even worse out by the Reach, believe it or not.”

“I do.” Janus said, “There’s a reason nobody takes the high passes into Shornhelm and Northpoint.”

“If you’ve got an extra bow, I can help keep watch.” Janus offered, “I’ll take a shift.”

“You can barely sit up.” Bruno scoffed. “Even if I had another, I don’t think you could pull a hundred pound draw in your condition.”

“Fair ‘nough.” Janus said, another small smile as he settled back down in the bed, “Figure I’ve earned my keep already either way. You need another stupid thing done, I’m right here.”

There wasn’t enough room in Bruno’s cabin to sneak around in, and no other rooms to disappear into — and still, Joy managed to move quietly to the bedside, having kept herself busy for the most part in assisting Henry with making bandages. Maybe it was the silence, and the intense need to just talk that brought her to Bruno and Janus — a damp cloth in one hand, and a neat velvet pouch in the other. “Hmmm,” she began, timid compared to the boisterous bard she had been in the bar. An image of darkness had crept to mind, and her instinct had been to come to the men.

“I brought this,” she said, with however much of a smile as she could muster. “I can-“ she stopped and shook her head, just setting down on her knees at the side of the bed anyway. That tiny flicker of courage had her take the Imperial’s hand. The Nord was careful so as not to disturb his body, and she began to dab and wipe away at the blood that had collected there — dry and turning brown from the air. If he was fine with throwing himself at a demonic creature for her, he would have to be fine with letting her help him.

Janus only closed his eyes and let Joy work on the big knot on his face. The reminder of the pain brought an image of that scene in the sky, so unnatural and… demonic. A word he hadn’t used since the days of young Jan in his priest robes. He mustered up a smile for Joy, “I couldn’t die.” He said, laying patiently as she dabbed at his brow, “Not before I’d bought you that drink.”

“Is that what this is about?” She replied with a smile, her brow quirked upwards as she gently ran the cloth across his hairline. Joy eyed up the rest of his wounds, mostly covered now thanks to Bruno, whom she regarded with a smile and a nod of her head. “I should be the one buying you a drink — both of you.” She paused, glancing at Bruno again. “Wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you both.”

“Hope the accommodations are to your liking.” Bruno said, a hint of sarcasm in his voice. A light deflection too, perhaps. He was fully aware that his cabin probably wasn’t to anybody’s liking, given its lack of both space and amenities. Bruno lived off of bare essentials, but at least everything was homemade, as small a comfort that might be. Though he wasn’t necessarily an expert in any one thing, so that comfort might be very small indeed.

A strange comment to make to a woman who’d never had so much of a home to call her own. A roof over her head, sure. Not that Bruno knew, or needed to. “Actually, I think your cabin is beautiful,” Joy’s head tilted to the side, and she curled her bare toes against the floorboards. She was completely sincere. “I’m sorry circumstance called for us to overrun it for the night,” she added with a dry laugh - turning her attention to Janus’s injury again.

Bruno looked down from the window at Joy’s feet. It was obvious a thought flashed across his face, something that softened his hard gaze for just a moment, before he leaned back and stared back out the window. Her words were kind, but he was sure that they both knew that there was no other option. He shrugged off the compliment and breathed in deeply the night air, the slight traces of Daggerfall smoke stinging his nose.

“Joy, right?” Bruno asked. “You should pull the trunk out from under the bed. It shouldn’t be that heavy.”

With a nod back at the Nord, Joy simply hummed in response “mhmm.” That was interesting though, a trunk under the bed? She let the cold cloth settle against Janus’ temple before scooching over to grab a handle. The woman couldn’t help but notice the patient dog at Bruno’s side either, but she dared not disturb him. He was right, it wasn’t all that heavy but she was also stronger than she looked. “Do you have more bandages in here?” She asked him, looking up at him from the floor.

The man shook his head, simply gesturing to her to open the trunk. It was unlocked, and the sight inside was at least a little peculiar. It was only filled up almost halfway, and the contents were all different clothes. A quick look at Bruno and it was easy to tell that they were much too small to fit him. One stack was probably half his size and another was probably only big enough for children. Beside the carefully folded stacks of clothes however, as Joy would be quick to notice, were fur boots and shoes. None of them looked like they were ever worn, though.

“If they’re too big, I could probably fill out the toes with wads of cotton or linen.” Bruno said, still looking out the window and his voice low. “I’m not much of a cordwainer or cobbler, but I hope they’ll do you just fine.”

Joy held them up into as much of the light as she could, they looked fine. It wasn’t something she couldn’t take her own needles to if need be. In the moment, she felt fortunate for Bruno — and even more gratitude. That swell of emotion got the better of her and she flung herself upwards towards the huge man, wrapping her arms around his wide shoulders and placing her head into his neck. “Thank you, thank you,” she whispered. It wasn’t happiness. Any happiness that could have been found there was drowned by the severity of the ominous situation.

He was overtaken by surprise, and all that the other nord could do, is slowly and awkwardly wrap his arm around her and gently pat her back a few times. He breathed in the night air deeply as he looked back out the window. He might have been slightly uncomfortable with the sudden touch, but he did manage to find a moment of solace in Joy’s warmth in the face of the night’s chill. “Yeah, well,” he muttered, “they weren’t seeing much use anyway.”

Janus took the cloth from his head and placed it on the nightstand, chancing a look outside and finding his eyes still drawn to the blackness there. Flashes of the writhing serpent and the ghostlights ran through his mind and he shook his head, turning away from the window. That sight put fear in him more stabbing than any number of the walking dead, or even the Headless Rider. The unholy wailing like nails to his ears. He wondered why he’d been left alive, why they hadn’t been run down when he was dying in the saddle and killed. He hadn’t realized he was squeezing the rag or breathing hard until he felt his fist shaking.

The smell of smoke in the air brought back memories, the sight of the inn ablaze drudging up his past, and the past was nowhere he wanted to go. His hands yearned for a bottleneck and his mouth ran dry. For once, he couldn’t bare to lay still and sleep. The bed creaked with his effort and he soon found himself with the hard-fought victory of sitting on the edge of the bed. No matter how great his thirst though, he knew his body wasn’t going to let him make the long trek to his saddlebags. He admitted defeat once more and sat hunched over, knees resting on his thighs as he stared past the floor and straight back into that night sky, “I saw it.” He said, “I’ve heard stories of the dead walking, foul magicks and dark powers. And I saw it all.”

He swallowed, “Why in all the Hells am I still alive?”

Bruno looked over Joy’s shoulder, his hard countenance finally changing into something softer. Concern washed over him as the old soldier forced himself upright and bemoaned his own survival. There was nothing he could say, he thought, that could truly set his mind at ease. But if they were all gonna survive the night, everyone’s morale had to be up.

“Maybe you’re just better than you thought.” Bruno said simply. “Count yourself lucky. Or don’t. Either way, Talos ain’t done with you yet. You’d be best off making the most of this chance you were given.”

Joy let go of Bruno to watch Janus move and sit himself up, she felt a tight knot form in her stomach as she heard him speak. His pain and fear ran deep. She could feel it. Her concern were his wounds, if he didn’t lay back down he’d risk reopening, hurting himself more. She shot a worried sidelong glance at Bruno before excusing herself from him, approaching Janus gingerly, her posture soft and unthreatening.

At first she placed her hand over his shaking fist, she could feel the white-hot of his knuckles against the flat of her own palm and she came steadily to sit beside him. “You’re still here because you are. We all are,” Joy said, whisper quiet. She turned her gaze to the sky too, the burning orange casting sparkling freckles into her blue eyes. “You’re alive because you did good, because you’re strong.”

“I suppose.” He said to the both of them. For the first time in his life, he was met with a problem that wasn’t a simple question of who could get their blade clear of its scabbard first. Perhaps they could go East, to Skyrim. Or sail for Hammerfell. Or perhaps no amount of running was enough to escape. Their only option was to fight, to survive. “I don’t suppose we have a plan of action?”

Joy had no ideas, she didn’t have the knowledge that anyone else in the room would for planning survival past the night. Where to go, what to do. Still, she took in a deep breath and spoke again. “Only plan I’ve got is to get you to lie down again so you don’t get hurt more than you are now.” Her hand came up to meet his shoulder, as if she would begin pushing him back down if he didn’t do so himself. He did just that, grunting back to lay on the bed and offering Joy a small smile.

“Survive the night.” Bruno muttered. “See if the dead can walk beneath the sun. Supposing this night ever ends, that is…” The shepherd watched the deadlights dance, the constellation of the Serpent writhing in the sky. A blink later and they were back where they were, only for the optical illusion to begin anew. The stars were supposed to be guardians. What purpose was the Serpent serving here and why has its light cast a shadow upon its kin? His eyes turned toward the cellar. They were all going to need a few drinks before this night was over.

“I’ll just rest then,” Janus said from the bed, unable to do anything else but. Deep within his mind’s eye though, he couldn’t escape the gaze of that big serpent on high, nor keep the wails of those stars from chilling him deep as his bones, “We’ll need every blade to bear.”
ft. @Hank

It would only be a brief jaunt, Bruno thought, but he still locked up his shack and restrung his bow to bring it and his arrows with him. It was better to be safe than sorry,, he noted as he felt the weakening dusk light cast its gloom over Glenumbra. Especially in times like these, and as much as he’d love to bring Bozo to see his friend at The Loyal Hound, any passerby to see a shack empty of its owner and its dog would be ripe for picking. It was probably best to leave Bozo here so people might at least assume that Bruno was here as well. He picked up the pack of provisions he sought to trade with the innkeep.

Not for gold, but something substantial. It was a recent deal, but apparently the man liked his beer enough to try to provide some for his patrons. It wasn’t a top-shelf brew or anything, but it was local and the rarity of being made by only a single person in single batches was enough novelty to attract certain customers to it. Which was fair, Bruno thought, just as long as he wasn’t expected to make any more than at the pace he was comfortable with. Along with the beer were some brined meats. Venison and pork and some fish, along with a bottle of goat milk and a small ball of goat cheese. This was quite a lot to give away, but being one man, he couldn’t eat it all, and it was best to trade the excess for things he couldn’t readily access in the wilds.

It took six miles of trekking to reach his destination. The wildlife had gone scarce ever since the ominous falling sun first lost a few hours of its light, as if they knew whatever this foreboding omen meant. Crops weren’t growing like they used to, and when he could get a successful hunt, they were sometimes sick and the meat was no good. By the time he reached the roadside inn, his legs were becoming sore with all the weight he was carrying on his back, and he thought briefly about building himself a wagon before abruptly jolting the door open with a shoulder-check and his heavy footfalls announced his presence to the tavern -- he wasn’t hunting, and he was tired, so there wasn’t any need for subtlety. He lumbered over with the gait of an angry giant and slung the burlap sack of provisions onto the innkeeper’s counter, and more carefully set down a small barrel of rye malt beer. He swung his head around looking for the innkeeper, only he was nowhere in sight. Just a few customers and a few women he didn’t recall seeing here before. He sighed, as if to relax the muscles in his body before he--

“SOLOMON!”

--did that.

The Imperial took a few seconds to materialize, having dipped out of the common room to take stock of the inn's inventory. Bruno's thunderous voice was unmistakable and Solomon saw the man immediately once he stepped out of the pantry and closed the door behind himself. He saw the sack of goods and the barrel of beer a split second later. Where another man might have smiled at the delivery, he merely nodded.

"Bruno Thunder-Blood," he retorted by way of greeting. "I thought that was you." His tone was dry and supremely calm compared to the Nord's exclamation. He stepped up to the bar and inspected the contents of the sack immediately. Solomon was, if nothing else, thorough and meticulous. "Good, good. And this is the malt rye?" he asked and pointed to the barrel.

“Aye,” he said. His resting tone was comparably louder and carried further than the Imperial’s. “Still surprised you wanted more of it. You honor me.”

Sirius bounded over to Bruno’s side, tail wagging with excitement as he investigated the smells on his hand, who looked down at the dog with a frown and, petting the dog’s head, said, “Sorry boy, Bozo ain’t wit’ me today.”

Facing Solomon once more, he opened up the sack and pulled out many different pieces of soaked paper, wrapped around massive cuts of meat. They were already salted and the moisture caught in the packaging was pulled out of the meat by the salt, but still as fresh as the day the animal was killed. “Butchered these this morning.” Bruno said. “The game’s getting skittish these days, as if they know what’s goin’ on. Hmph. Wish they were polite enough to tell us.”

Taking a cursory glance across the inn’s patrons, he continued, “Fewer layabouts than usual. You heard anything?”

Normally, Solomon was averse to giving away his knowledge to civilians, but he’d known Bruno for a while now -- not very well, but well enough to know that he was an authentic man, salt of the earth, free of duplicity or ulterior motives. The spymaster summoned Henry with a snap of his fingers and instructed him to hook up the barrel of homemade beer to the array of other barrels and bottles that lined the wall behind the bar with a few hushed words.

“I’ve heard plenty, but nothing but rumors,” Solomon said at length, keeping an eye on the boy while he struggled to hoist the barrel up to an empty spot. “Supposedly the dead are walking around the old mausoleum in the swamp, and a few people talked about an old logger that went stark raving mad up in Fisher’s Pond, blabbering to anyone that would listen to him about a giant in the woods, with four arms and fire for eyes.” The Imperial shrugged. “But nobody can confirm that, and I’m sure you’ve heard what the king has to say about all this, so… nothing to do about it but be cautious, eh?”

“Cautious?” He scoffed. “Walkin’ dead is one thing but a giant with four arms and fire eyes? Does somethin’ like that even have a name? I’ll believe it when I see it.”

There was a drinking horn slung around Bruno’s shoulder, and when Henry came to take the keg, he stopped him from walking away by clasping a having mitt over his shoulder before which he tapped the barrel to fill the horn halfway. He silently mouthed the word “tax” before drowning himself in beer. Judging by the bobbing of his throat, he only took two or three gulps or so, so he probably just poured most of it directly down his throat. Taking a disproportionately small breath after downing his mug’s worth, he leaned against the counter and looked at Solomon with a relaxed and rather laissez-faire attitude. “Undead, huh.” Bruno mused, as if he was testing the sound of the word in his mouth. “That’s why you won’t catch me settling anywhere near Camlorn. Folks up north can’t keep the dead dead. That or they can’t keep their ancestors appeased. Wonder what they’re doin’ that grandpa can’t remember to stay put in the dirt. Backstabbing? Stealing? Fornication? Bretons can’t give it a break, huh?”

It was the man’s own beer, Solomon thought. Having the first sip seemed only reasonable. He didn’t say anything while Bruno threw back the contents of his horn in the inimitable way that only Nords could drink and instead poured himself a small glass of brandy. “Cheers,” Solomon said and briefly gestured with his own drink in Bruno’s direction. “To a mutually lucrative partnership.”

The Nord’s other comments were crass, but Solomon couldn’t help but chuckle. “Big talk for a man whose own homeland is riddled with draugr barrows, if I remember correctly,” the Imperial said with a wry smile. Bruno did not like to mince his words and Solomon appreciated the frank and honest banter he could have with the shepherd -- Bruno’s implications about their character were perhaps a little excessive, but Bretons were, at the very least, a linguistically complicated bunch.

“Pfft, as if I don’t have words to say about the motherland either?” Bruno retorted. “Was still raised up at the foot of the Reach, mind you. The only real home I get to have is the one I build with my own two hands.”

“So,” the innkeeper said, turning serious once more. “What do I owe you again?”

Bruno scratched at this beard thoughtfully as he was figuring out the numbers in his head. Truthfully, he wasn’t much of a man who had a use for septims, but this wasn’t the market either. He doubted that Solomon had much to barter with him, so it might just be best to take his septims and spend them later this week at the market for some ingredients he’d have a hard time foraging. Or on tar to slather the roof with so he could reshingle the shack. Yeah, the dockmaster would probably be open to trading some tar.

“Fifteen septims for all the venison,” Bruno said decisively, “ten for the pork. Already trimmed. The beer… twenty-six septims, since a standard mug is worth five… tell me if I’m wrong: fifty-one spetims total.”

The circumstances in High Rock had deteriorated to the point that trade had diminished rather severely; merchants chanced the roads less and less, and Solomon’s usual supply lines had either hiked their prices or regularly failed to deliver in the first place. The Imperial had wisely built up a well-stocked pantry and cellar over the years precisely for situations such as this, but being able to source local meat and beer from Bruno was still a godsend, so he wasn’t about to argue with the man’s assessment.

“A fair price,” Solomon agreed and began to count out the coins from the hefty purse at his waist. Once he was about halfway through he suddenly looked up and summoned Henry with a snap of his fingers. “Fetch a bottle of Cyrodiilic brandy for the man,” he instructed the boy, who ducked out of sight and disappeared into the cellar. Looking back up at Bruno, Solomon smiled -- a rare sight -- and placed the coins on the counter in three neat stacks, ready to be counted.

“Us locals have to stick together in times like this,” he said, his voice low as not to be overheard. “And save the brandy for a special occasion. It’s the finest spirit my homeland has to offer.”

Bruno smiled at that and tipped his empty drinking horn into his direction and said, “May your belly be full and your booze be strong, you bastard.”
Merry Flights

11:55 PM, Last Seed 21
Dibella's House of Common Pleasures
Wayrest Temple of Eight and One



Finch felt lighter on his feet now that his business with Gustav was squared away, and now he could finally set Everard’s plans into motion. He even scribbled a cryptic note and slid it beneath the door to the lord’s room to inform him that people have been hired and paid already. With the shield as a mere downpayment, Finch was anticipating having to pay Gustav at least half of what Everard was going to give him by the job’s end. Really, the only thing Finch was going to get out of this whole deal was some peace of mind, however much that was worth these days. He really couldn’t begin to guess what the mercenaries were going to plan, and as much as he hoped that they were men and women of their word, he couldn’t risk this whole job going wrong. If it did, there was no telling what Everard would do. The man seemed like a desperate lord. Should such a man be sitting on any throne? This insider look gave him a certain insight into this whole rebellion; if only he deigned to give a shit about such things. He didn’t plan on staying in High Rock for long anyways, much less Wayrest, the shit-hole of a city that it was at the moment.

But the job -- yes, the job -- Finch already had ideas in mind as he mentioned to Relyssa earlier. Finch paced down the establishment, deep in thought as he incomprehensibly muttered and strategized. Everard said Mathieu visited the temple quite often, so perhaps it might’ve been worth scouting the scene first to get a lay of the land. There was also a civil war within the city’s walls. There was quite a bit of chaos to take advantage of in this city, but the target also had a network of spies at his disposal. If one of them spotted a regiment of heavily armed mercenaries making a beeline to the temple, he’d probably be alerted. If Mathieu was as dangerous as Everard seemed to suggest, fighting him head-on was probably foolish. So…

Spymaster in a temple.

Don’t try to fight him.

Steal a sword.

What sense did it make to bring swords into places of worship anyway? Sure, there was a civil war at work and the man played an important role, but there had to have been rules. Were the grounds not sacred? As much as Finch didn’t want to bank on the good will of people, as precarious as it was, he had to rely on the religious narrative of sacred, neutral ground. Separate people from their weapons at the door, including the spymaster, and hope that as someone who knew to keep a low profile he would comply without making a scene.

That also meant the temple playing along with this policy. They might not be too hard to convince, since it’d appear to be in the interests of the temple and its patrons. That, or plant people who could pose as acolytes or volunteers. If one or two of the mercs were planted, then that might make the job easier… but if they suddenly disappeared, they might be easy to track down… unless they traded it off to someone else… yes. The plan was coming together!

He suddenly crashed his nose into somebody’s shoulder, releasing a startled and pained yelp. As he massaged the soreness away from his face, he disdainfully looked up to search the face of whoever it was he bumped into.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Mary chimed. Finch didn’t know who this dirty-blonde woman was, but she was much more solidly built than her appearance let on. A plain linen gown was draped over a pair of modest bloomers that barely peeked out from the bottom and she wore wool slippers. Mary knew this to be a stark difference from the apparel the rest of the company usually saw her wearing, but Finch didn’t have a clue who she really was and she didn’t look like the type who, uh… would work here. She looked too modest, but then again, he couldn’t be sure.

“No, it’s my fault.” Finch mumbled, averting eye contact. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“I thought you looked distracted.” Mary said, holding back a chuckle. She wasn’t going to mention that she noticed Finch talking to himself so intensely. “Are you alright?”

“Huh? Uh, yeah.” Finch said, trying to brush this woman off. “Just going to head to the temple for a bit of... peace and quiet.”

“As was I. Would you mind the company, or are you a little…” A hint of blush showed on her cheeks as her eyes pointed upstairs. “...over-attended to?

“What-- what?” Finch stammered, his face immediately going red. “N-no, no, I uh… no, that’s not my -- uh -- I was just working-- I mean, not like that, but uh, you know, just…”

Mary laughed. “Relax, it’s okay. I’m not a patron here either, I’m just boarding a room. Come on, I think we could both use a little bit of fresh air. What’s your name?”

“Uh… Finch.”

“Mary.”

For the life of him, Finch couldn’t understand how he got himself into these situations. The pair walked outside in the midst of a cool summer night, and for once, the call of cicadas were louder than the distant clashing of steel or yelling. In fact, the city was silent. Mary seemed to enjoy the outdoor jaunt, but something about it was rubbing Finch the wrong way.

“Do you know where to go?” Mary asked.

“Yeah.”

“It’s pleasant out.”

“It’s too quiet.”

Maybe the Trifection finally arranged a brief cease-fire between the opposing sides. Finch didn’t know a great deal of the politics behind the conflict, but he did try to pick up information about the city from the locals when he could. The beggars were every city’s eyes and ears, and as long as you could speak their language, you were practically omnipresent. Still, if both sides could agree to stop killing each other, he could only help but wonder what their attentions were aimed at instead. He looked curiously toward Mary, who was humming away as if she was taking a stroll through a park and not a war zone.

“You know there’s a war happening, right?”

“There always is.” Mary answered. “Give me some credit, Finch. The fact that it’s so quiet tonight is all the more reason to enjoy it, don’t you think?”

That was one way of looking at it. The young man usually took any good sign with a grain, pinch, or even a cup of salt. There was an otherworldly confidence to the woman walking the worn Wayrest streets in her pajamas that naming her “Mary” did little to ground or humanize her in his eyes. Of what he could be sure of, at least, was that she wasn’t as mundane as she appeared. So she must’ve been hiding something from him -- go figure, most people did. He finally led them to the large double doors of the Temple of the Eight and One, but with a tug, found that the doors were locked tight. He shot the temple a scornful grimace.

“Strange,” Mary commented, “it should still be open unless the king placed most of the city on lock down.”

Finch didn’t spare Mary a look, instead rummaging through his pockets for a lock pick. He wasn’t as particularly adept at picking locks as much as was at picking pockets, but he still had a job to do. As soon as he stuck it into the keyhole though, he felt Mary’s hands on his his, brushing them back. He was just about to snap at her until she knocked against the heavy wooden door three solid times, and instead stared at her feeling dumbfounded. However, he didn’t even have time to think of their difference of approach before a man mailed in metal chain and leather scales approached the pair.

“Halt there.” Called a guardsman as he approached. Actually, he looked more like a soldier. He was armed with a pike in hand and a sword at his side, and his grip on his weapon spoke to the mistrust he faced them with. “You are in violation of the curfew set by High King Ferrend Bellemont. What is your reason for being here?”

Finch could hear footsteps from inside the temple stop suddenly as the soldier detained them, swearing silently to himself by the rotten luck afforded to him. No doubt this only happened because this Mary woman thought it was a good idea to knock on the door. She probably didn’t know anything going on within the city. As Finch silently stood and stewed in his own aggravation, contemplating whether or not he should run, Mary simply bowed her head.

“Apologies, sir.” She said. “My companion and I were just restless and hoping to pray tonight.”

“Is it not awfully late for that?”

Mary shook her head. “It’s never too late to seek guidance, I think. Especially in times like these.”

“And under what authority grants you the permission to ignore the laws established by our king?”

“I act independently.” Mary said, her voice growing more serious. “As a templar, is it not my right to seek prayer? And my duty to escort this young man safely through the night?”

A tense silence fell over the three of them, and both pairs of eyes landed on Mary. Finch, in disbelief, and the soldier in a slowly rising anger.

“You? You’re one of those fuckin Tri--”

The lock on the temple door suddenly clicked and cracked open. Inside, a priest eagerly peeked out and looked Mary up and down and said, “Trifection Templar, oh good! We’ve been expecting one of you.”

Finch wasn’t the only one who was surprised; even Mary seemed off guard by the mixed reception she was receiving, and the apparent renown that her old temple still seemed to hold. The priest ushered both of them in while the soldier stared daggers into their backs, and the heavy door closing behind them was a much appreciated reprieve. The priest released a heavy sigh and massaged his forehead.

“What was that?” Finch demanded.

“I’m… not sure.” Mary admitted, looking to the priest.

“Your order made quite a few waves.” He explained. “Not everyone appreciates what you’ve done here, but the temple appreciates the cease-fire and the… few tense moments of peace it’s provided, so our doors are open to you. If there’s anything I can help you with, ask me. I will be grounds keeping throughout the night.”

Mary tried to blink away the incredulity fogging her mind as the priest walked away. Order? They weren’t a knightly order, they were a temple. And what have they done here? And what does it have to do with a cease-fire? Her eyes fell back on Finch awkwardly to notice that his eyes were staring daggers at her too, just less aggressively than the soldier seemed to stare at her earlier.

“What?”

“Templar, huh?”

“Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing at all. It’s fine. Just, you know, seems like an important thing to mention or introduce yourself as.”

“You never asked.” Mary replied. A self-conscious bug began to creep into her mind. “Besides, my temple went defunct a long time ago, I’m not sure why those people were…”

“So, wait, did you lie? Are you lying?” Finch pressed. “Because I don’t know many defunct knightly orders brokering peace deals.”

“That’s not it at all!” Mary protested. “The House of Trifection wasn’t even a knightly order, we were a temple in Jehanna. What do you mean brokering peace deals? They shouldn’t even exist anymore…”

“Mary,” Finch said, sounding impatient, “the Order of Trifection is here. They’re the ones playing diplomat between the two warring factions.”

That paused the conversation for quite some time. It was a lot of information for Mary to take in, and she had nothing to say to Finch after that. She had to process what she heard. The next hour or so was spent in contemplative silence, sitting in the front pew. Finch sat with her for a short while at first while she prayed, but the longer she prayed in silence, the more antsy he got. He tried praying too, but he wasn’t nearly as practiced in it as Mary was, and his prayers were often short. He would get up, walk around, and sit back down. He'd walk around the temple, investigate possible hiding spots, vantage points, and so on, and he used the excuse of appreciating the artwork and architecture when the earlier priest asked him what he was doing -- but Mary stayed seated and prayed for what seemed like an impossibly long time.

Naturally, her mind was occupied with a mess of thoughts and worries. Had she really been so out of touch for so long? Had she really avoided newspapers for so long? Was her temple truly still standing and did it survive the scandal that had rocked its very foundations? Furthermore, what must have happened to it? Apparently it had converted to a knightly order from a religious institution; what had spurred that change? What happened to the leadership? Were her old friends still with the order? What would have happened if she returned? Did they think she abandoned them? Did she abandon them? They called her the most devoted of the templars, but if they truly survived, did she really deserve that title? Mary hadn’t returned home in so long and was so far removed from the politics of High Rock that everything she thought she knew was beginning to unravel.

About an hour into her prayers, Finch came back and tried to talk to her again. She then was fortunately free from whatever anxious high she was on and was able to hear him clearly again.

“So… uh, how about you tell me about them?”

“The templars?”

“The templars.”

“Well… we were a temple. We followed a religion. That’s how it started.” Mary began. “The House of Trifection. We followed the Tenets of Trifection, which was basically a model of moral perfection. Unattainable and always out of reach, of course, but that meant you could always work closer and closer toward it. Mara, Julianos, and Stendarr were our patron divines -- love, wisdom, and justice. We templars were supposed to embody those ideals. Healer… teacher… warrior.”

“So… you guys can do everything?”

Mary chuckled a bit, though a solemn sound it was. “Master of none, mind you.” She pinned on. “But we provided a service. It lasted until… well, a scandal hit the temple that I was sure was going to destroy us. It didn't even know about it, but it made me feel ashamed so I never went back. Now I learned that we survived, and I don't know how to feel. I had no idea, and apparently we’re-- they’re knights now, and are here in this city. I should feel happy, but… I’m afraid of seeing them again.”

Finch didn’t quite know what to say to that. There was much more backstory behind this woman than he anticipated and more than he really cared to hear about, more than he would bother to hear were he less of a bleeding heart. He couldn’t really relate. Like, he threw a rock once at a guard in the middle of a protest. Which turned into a riot, but that was more his fault while Mary’s entire ordeal seemed entirely out of her control. There was a difference between making shitty decisions and having shitty luck, though he could probably argue that he was good enough to manage both at the same time. Eh, on second thought, his own life was pretty eventful even if it was par for the course with most of the peasantry.

“So do you have any other surprises up your sleeves?” He asked.

“Um… I’m working as a mercenary?”

“No shit? Gustav?”

“Yeah, you know him?”

“Stendarr’s mercy,” Finch groaned, “yeah, I know him. I, uh… well, he’ll clue you in. Don’t worry about it for now, I guess.”

Well, this just got a little bit awkward. He didn’t expect her to be a templar nor one of the people he ended up employing. Then again, the company was taking lodging within the brothel, so it was probably just as likely he’d run into one of them as it was he ran into a whore. He spent the remainder of his time flagging down the grounds keeping priest and proposing to him a few practices that’d help Finch later with his job. Covertly of course, and through casual conversation. A suggestion that, perhaps with all the soldiers and tensions in the city, that it might be best for any guests to the temple to leave their weapons by the door before entering this place of worship and communion. After all, this was supposed to be a safe place. No one should not feel unsafe under the loving gaze of the Divines, and this was an argument that the priest couldn’t necessarily refute. At the mention of not having enough members of the clergy to fulfill all the daily duties and tasks of the temple in addition to manning such a position, Finch mentioned that he, Mary, and some friends would be more than happy to volunteer. Finch also had a feeling that the priest wouldn’t have trusted him if he hadn’t walked in with a Trifecta Templar by his side, but he was lucky. After some consideration, they seemed to reach an agreement and shook on it.

It was about twenty minutes after the conversation did Mary seem ready to leave. It was very late into the night now, and both of them seemed quite tired after staying up so late. Both received some pretty heavy news (though one more than the other), but got what they came for nonetheless. There was little telling what the following day would bring them, but both knew there was a lot to expect (for varying reasons). Upon their return to the brothel, they bid their goodnights to one another as Mary resigned herself to bed and Finch to his own quarters, where he’d remain restless and awake. To spend some of this energy, he wrote down what he’s been up to all night on a piece of parchment so that he could forward his plan to Gustav through the crack under his door. Everard wouldn’t care, just as long as he got his damned sword back.

He even wrote a very brief apology letter to Relyssa to slide under her door, he was so restless. Very brief. A few words brief. Something about noticing how something had shaken her and that he will be more careful in the future. He couldn’t really begin to guess what it was, but he figured that someone as powerful as her -- at least he presumed she was powerful -- would be a bad person to have disliking you. He didn’t particularly care for the noble types, but right now he had to rely on these people to work with him in order to get this job done right.

Finally, with all of his energy spent, he blew out the candles and quickly fell asleep with only a few hours left to spare. He’d be fine. If he could function with four hours of rest on a cold cobblestone street, then five hours in a warm plush bed would be more than enough.
© 2007-2017
BBCode Cheatsheet