Author: X-Kali-X PM
Seventeen princes, eight divines, and twenty five trials leading to some unknown outcome. Her visions no longer contain themselves to bad dreams and drunken fits and his face is the only common factor the Dragonborn can find between reality and dreams.Rated: Fiction T - English - Dragonborn/Dovahkiin & Vilkas - Chapters: 16 - Words: 52,516 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 39 - Updated: 02-14-13 - Published: 02-06-12 - id: 7812459
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Well that was a damn long wait. Sorry, for anyone still here. There have been upheavals in the family, and life has altogether got in the way of all and any writing.
Malacath is the Daedric prince whose sphere is the patronage of the spurned and ostracized, the keeper of the Sworn Oath, and the Bloody Curse.
The ruin was quite when they entered. The only sounds were the steady rush of water somewhere deep within and the only lights came from guttering candles and low lamps.
"They've retreated further in," Vilkas murmured and Iona nodded to show that she had heard. Dawnbreaker shone brightly as she drew it from the sheath, spreading golden light in a pool around the three fighters. Vilkas and Lydia had also drawn their own weapons and, slowly, they progressed through the empty halls of Morvunskar. Down some stairs and through yet more damp passages with barely any signs of life, they moved as quietly as it was possible in full armour.
Suddenly, Iona stopped and held up a hand to halt the others. She could hear footsteps in a chamber just a short distance ahead and to the left.
"I don't get why we had to relocate," someone was moaning, "They never would have found us in the caves anyway."
"Don't see why you're complaining," his companion replied with a laugh and belch – they were drinking – "It's warmer here."
"Not saying much."
"Just two," Iona whispered, "I'll only be a second." Before either of the others could say a thing, Iona had slid forward. She moved slowly, the golden light of her sword dimming as she slunk into the shadows. The two members of the Silver Hand had fallen silent, staring morosely into a low fire that could not be providing anything much in the way of warmth. As she approached, one of them coughed – a deep chested noise that made it sound as though an infection was building. It was not uncommon, she had learned, among the bandits and other scum who'd made places such as these their home.
Gabrielle had caught something, she remembered, about a week before the sanctuary had been destroyed. Iona shook her head and narrowed her eyes, returning her thoughts to the matter at hand. She was still behind them, and soon enough the light from her sword would spill far enough forward that they could not help but notice it. Iona grinned as an idea occurred to her and she sucked in a very slight breath.
"Zul Mey Gut." It was not the usual shout produced by the thu'um, but a very slight whisper, followed by a taunting voice from the corridor that lead out from the room. The shout was silly, offensive and utterly brilliant. Both men turned to face the new voice, eyes narrowed and clearly ruffled. Their hands rested upon their weapons, already loose in their sheaths, and the claws upon their knuckles shone very slightly with enchanted light. Iona waited with bated breath as one of them, the one sat nearest her, moved to his feet.
She leapt forward on light feet, her sword flashing down and glowing once more with Meridia's bright light. The hilt caught him on the back of his head and he staggered, arms reeling. Iona took advantage of his inbalance and lunged, pulling her sword back against the unprotected skin beneath his arm. He cried out as blood began to spurt. It was a fatal wound – the vessel their lead swiftly to the heart and he would bleed out in little time. Iona turned to face the second warrior as her first opponent fell to the floor clutching at his arm. Iona was about to charge when Lydia dashed past her with her own sword held high. The sinister lights of the deadric armour seemed to momentarily distract him and Lydia took advantage of his helmetless state to make his head part company from his shoulder.
Vilkas moved forward into the small room and surveyed the two bodies. "On?" he said gruffly.
"On," Iona confirmed, moving ahead to take the lead once more. The Silver Hand were spread out through the cave, sticking to the rooms with fires, or else cupping their hands around weak spell flames to try and regain some feeling in their fingers. Truly, they didn't put up much of a fight.
The further the three fighters progressed into Morvunskar, the noticeably colder it became and they were grateful for the layers of their armour and the golden warmth that emanated from the sword Iona still kept a tight grip on with her right hand.
"We're getting closer," Vilkas growled, "I can smell them." Iona glanced back and nodded to show him that she understood, then reached out to the cold iron of the door in front of them. She grasped the ring of metal and twisted it, allowing the door to swing open.
Their approach had not been a quiet one. In fact, it had been quite loud, despite the fact that Iona had deliberately avoided using all but the quietest of her thu'um. What was left of the Silver Hand stood before them, fully armoured and with their weapons drawn. They were ready to fight – to meet the avenging Companions head on.
They were not, however, ready for the Dragonborn. "FUS RO DAH!" she Shouted, sending the first line of fighters flying back into the comrades, a writhing pile of steel and silver. She ran forward and to the side, allowing Vilkas and Lydia to move forward.
The song of steel upon silver met Iona's ears even as her own golden weapon clashed against the brightly gleaming metal of those wielded by the Silver Hand. There were far more fighters here than she could have anticipated, and they fought with all the dirty tricks known to the sentient races. Their clawed gauntlets rose sparks off the dark metal of Lydia and Vilkas' armour, and even made the occasional chip in the scales of Iona's lighter set. Her eyes narrowed behind the mask as she felt the thu'um building once more in her chest, dragonfire burning at her throat.
"YOL TOOR SHUL!" A great belch of flame scattered the enemy, but many were not quick enough. They fought atop the burnt corpses, their feet unsure over the melted, unrecognisable faces. Fear was now evident in the faces of those before them, and in the movement of their weapons. Their terror was as clear as the determination of those they fought, and the fury in their eyes inspired only more fear.
Finally, there was only a single member of the Silver Hand remaining. He looked from Vilkas to Iona and threw down his weapon, kneeling before them and crying out, "Mercy! I beg your mercy!" Vilkas, breathing heavily, reached up and pulled off his helmet.
"And what have you done today that deserves our mercy, boy?" he asked, eyes narrowed. The boy – for this survivor was indeed young – did not answer. There was a cut above one of his eyes and his helmet had been lost during the fight. He looked between his opponents and did not speak. Iona reached up and removed her mask, kneeling before the boy.
"Did your comrades show mercy to those they killed in Jorrvaskr?" she asked quietly. "Did they show any mercy to Kodlak when they slaughtered him and ran like cowards with the treasures he dedicated a large part of his life to collect?" The boy didn't (or else couldn't) look her in the eye. "Answer me!" Iona cried.
"No," he sobbed. "No, they didn't." The assassin inside Iona's chest roared for his blood, and for a moment Iona wanted nothing more than to satisfy that craving, nothing more than to smite this pathetic excuse for a nord where he knelt before them. She raised her sword, preparing to strike and….
Dropped it to the ground. Her hand shook as she stepped backwards, out of the golden light cast by Dawnbreaker. That was not who she was. The assassin was dead. She was Iona. A mage. A show off. Dohvakiin. Dragonborn. Saviour of Skyrim.
She did not murder those who begged for her mercy. Bending down, she retrieved the sword with a shaking hand and slid it into her belt. "You can have our mercy," she said, her voice filled with quiet rage, "In exchange for the shards of Wuuthrad." His eyes darted to a chest in the corner. Vilkas moved towards it and examined it.
"It's locked," he said. "Anyone got any picks?"
"Freydis had the key," the boy said quickly, his eyes dropping for a brief second to the corpse of a Redguard woman whose eyes stared unseeing at the ceiling. Lydia checked her pockets and through the brass key to Vilkas. He caught it and slid it into the lock.
After a moment, he drew out a canvas sack and looked inside, counting. "They're all here," he said after a moment.
"Good," Iona said, her voice weary. "Then let us return to Whiterun." Vilkas nodded and turned to leave without a word. Iona hesitated, wanting to say something and yet unsure what words there were. Her last meeting with Vilkas made these things awkward to say the least. She sighed, and moved past the last member of the Silver Hand, picking up her sword, towards the barred door at the other end of the room and sunlight.
As they emerged from the darkness, Iona heard a whisper upon the wind. "Congratulations, my Nerevarine," Azura whispered to her. "You have defied Malacath, and broken the Oath Sworn in Blood. He is forced to give you his blessing. Malacath is appeased."
"Another one," she said, glancing to Lydia.
"Malacath. Not in the way he wanted though. I think he wanted us to wipe out the silver hand entirely. The Sworn Oath and the Bloody Scourge. That sort of thing." Lydia nodded and slid her bloodied sword into its sheath.
"You know, that bit there at the end… that's the most you've seemed yourself in a very long time."
"That's the most I've felt like myself in a very long time," she replied, a smile touching her lips. "It felt… nice." It was early evening by the time they reached Winterhold, and the three of them dragged their feet to Hjerim and down into the basement that connected Iona's houses. They changed from their battle scarred and bloodied armour – Vilkas donned his Wolf Armour, which he had left there on a previous occasion, for the funeral, while Lydia and Iona chose lighter, more comfortable armours.
As she pulled on her Nightingale armour, Iona's thoughts strayed to the people she had been over the past few months. Assassin, swordsmaster and Lord Neravar…
None of these people were right though, and finally this felt like something she could acknowledge. Turning, her eyes fell upon the treasures that littered her armoury. Weapons and armours of legend and myth, most of it unused since the day it had been awarded to her or else unearthed in some draugr infested pit and yet she'd never sold it on.
The assassin would have done, she realised. She had felt no attachment to the items she found, selling them without a seconds thought. The swordsman would have sold them too, funding his drinking with the treasures of history.
What of the others in her past, she wondered. What would the orc smith have done, had he ever collected something like the treasures that now sat before her? What would the original Lord Nerevar have done. And what of Tiber Septim?
Iona hesitated a moment and then pulled off the leather gloves of the nightingale armour. Was this her, she wondered? How much of her life was composed of bits and pieces pulled from people who were her and yet weren't at the same time?
The assassin. It always came back to her, or so it seemed to Iona. The assassin who kept to the shadows and the fringe of society. Thinking about it, Iona realised she didn't want to become this.
What was it she had decided? She was a mage, a natural show off. She would wear her achievements for all to see, spread her name across the land. For she was dovahkiin, and why the hell not?