I'm back! This time with a new Dragonborn. I just started replaying Skyrim recently and was taken aback at Brynjolf's accent. Damn. Anyway, so I've decided to create a new Dragonborn and see how her story plays out with the Thieves Guild. I'm really excited to start this new story since I haven't published a fanfic since I finished Blackheart (if you like the Avengers and Skyrim mixed together you should read it! *wink*). So, here we go! The story of Iris Liriiette.
**Disclaimer: All characters (Except for Iris) are property of Bethesda**
"...And the Wild Iris Blooms By itself in the dark forest."
"You want me to lead?" Iris's nose crinkles in confusion, her violet eyes narrowing as she fiddles with the moonstone ring on her index finger. "Why?"
Mercer turns his icy glare on her slim figure, trembling slightly in the harsh, frigid winter air. "I was under the impression that I was giving the orders," he sneers, readjusting his grip on his golden sword. "You're leading, and I'm following. Does that seem clear to you?"
Sighing softly under her breath, Iris turns back toward the ancient stone door, rolling her eyes and unsheathing her Elven sword. "Fine. Fine. Let's just find Karliah and get this over with," she mutters, wishing she could blow her cover and Fus Ro Dah him against the wall.
"Just make certain you keep your eyes open. Karliah is as sharp as a blade," he continues.
She opens the great stone door, creeping into the darkened chamber and wishing more than ever that Brynjolf could have joined the two of them on this journey to find the ex-Thieves Guild member. Though, she admits, she probably wouldn't be on her guard if he had; Bryn had a way of distracting her like no one else could. Shaking her thoughts away, the petite Breton forces herself to refocus on the mission at hand. Find Karliah. And try not to kill Mercer along the way. One would think he'd be grateful for all that she's found out. She was the one who completed the Goldenglow job. She was the one who found out about Galum-Ei. And she was the one who found out about Karliah trying to dismantle the Guild. And did she hear Mercer thanking her for it? No. The complete opposite. She remembers making eye contact with Bryn from across the Cistern when Mercer was chewing her out. He gave her a sort of pitiful look before shrugging, almost saying "What are you going to do about it? It's just Mercer being Mercer." Just Mercer being an asshole, Iris had thought bitterly. She had managed to hold her tongue, and, more importantly, her Voice. Gods know that would be a disaster if the Guild found out about that.
"She's already been here," Mercer says, his voice echoing throughout the stone room as he points to a poorly concealed trap. "Even reset the traps. Watch your step."
Iris holds her breath, readying herself for the insults she knows Mercer is about to hurl her way.
"Pay attention, and don't walk right into a trap. The last thing we need is a damned initiate giving away our presence and ruining our chance of finding Karliah. Your usual blundering around won't work for this."
Seething, Iris tightens her grip on her sword, summoning flames to her hand. "My so-called blundering got me through Goldenglow," she gets out through gritted teeth.
"Not without alerting half the mercenaries to your presence first."
Damn it. He's right. When she went to light the hives on fire, her invisibility potion wore off. She had timed it all wrong and barely got out of there alive, but not before lighting three hives on fire. The job was done, but she almost didn't make it. But she did. And that's what matters, right?
If it weren't for his amazing swordsmanship, Iris probably would have killed him in the dragging moments of their time in Snow Veil Sanctum. His constant jabs and insults were grinding her patience away to practically nothing. She was quickly getting exhausted. The constant Draugr popping up was starting to get on her nerves, and she had to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep in her Thu'um at one point. It'd be so much easier if she could just use them.
"Be careful," Mercer sneers, pointing to the door ahead. "This could be the perfect spot for an ambush."
Then why am I going first? she wants to ask. But she holds her tongue and carefully swings the door open. Right as the wooden panels strike the stone walls behind them, the unmistakable sound of two Draugr breaking out of their sarcophaguses rings throughout the ancient air. Iris readies her sword, watching as they make their way down the ramp to her and Mercer's level. She widens her stance, ready to fend off the first attack when she hears it. Soft, powerful chanting, raising the hairs on the back of her neck and sending a shiver down her spine. A Word Wall. The dragon inside her roars, longing, aching to absorb the new Word. Though she cannot see the Wall, she feels its pull, her vision blurring around the edges as everything else falls into the shadows.
Even the sword that strikes her cheek when the Draugr finally reach them.
She falls sideways, completely taken off-guard, and hits her head, hard, on the stone floor.
"Get up and help me!" Mercer shrieks at her.
Disoriented by the blow to her head and the Word still calling, she stumbles to her feet, falling against the wall. Her violet eyes raise, and she spots it. Her lips part in a silent gasp, her sword dangles from her fingers, as her feet begin to take her toward the chanting. Mercer's voice falls into the background, the clashing of swords no longer holding her attention as the chanting of her ancestors grows louder, filling her ears as the Word glows brightly in the Wall. She gasps when the Word begins to flow into her, the blue light absorbed into her very soul, the new Thu'um on her lips.
"Zun," she Whispers, her Voice rumbling the ground. But her reverie shatters when Mercer's shrill voice reaches her ears, replacing the beautiful chanting.
"What in Oblivion was that?"
She whirls around to find him positively fuming.
"I just fought off four Draugr while you ran off to do who knows what!" He takes a step toward her, briefly glancing at the Wall behind her before getting in her face. "Not only that, you completely ignored me and walked away. Need I remind you that I am your Guildmaster? Next time you disobey my orders, I won't hesitate to have you disbanded from the Guild."
She sighs softly, rubbing her eyes. "Are you done?" She can't help it.
But she flinches back in shock when his hand encircles her arm, squeezing tightly. "I've only kept you on because Brynjolf believes you're an asset to the Guild. If it were up to me, you would have been gone immediately after he brought you to me."
"Then why am I still here?" she challenges him, trying to appear unperturbed though his grip on her arm pains her immensely.
"Because whether I like it or not, you brought a lot of important matters to my attention. You may be a poor thief, but you stumbled upon the whole dealing with Karliah. We've been looking for her for ages, and you were the one who finally found her. Now just don't muck it up." He pushes her away from him before stalking off through the Sanctum.
Muttering angrily, Iris rubs her arm, readjusting her grip on her sword, and takes the lead. They continue onward for what feels like years to Iris. She dodges Draugr, traps, and more Draugr all the while listening to Mercer berate her for everything she does. Once, he even yells at her for shooting flames onto the oil-slicked ground, killing three Draugr at once, mind you. She somehow manages to keep the protests bubbling past her lips; she's going to have a field day with this when she sees Brynjolf next. Poor thing, he's always the one she goes to when she needs to rant about Mercer. Actually, he's the one she goes to for nearly everything, save the Dragonborn business. He's a damn good listener.
Finally, the two thieves come to a puzzle door, nearly identical to the ones which require a claw to open. Iris curses under her breath. She doesn't remember seeing a claw anywhere. She's about to suggest to Mercer that they go look for it when he strides up to the door.
"Ah, it's one of the infamous Nordic puzzle doors. How quaint," he scoffs. "Without the matching claw, they're normally impossible to open. And since I'm certain Karliah already did away with it, we're on our own." He strides up to the door and begins to fiddle with the lock. "Fortunately, these doors have a weakness if you know how to exploit it. Quite simple, really."
She rolls her eyes. Maybe she'll ask him how he does it. That would save her lots of time when hunting for the Dragon Priest masks.
"There. Karliah's close. I'm certain of it. Now, let's get moving." The door lowers into the ground, stone grinding on stone and dust puffing through the air, getting caught in her light brown hair. She half-expects him to go ahead and walk into the room, but he glares at her, unmoving. "Ladies first."
She huffs, annoyed, as she crosses the threshold. "I still don't understand why—" But she doesn't get to finish because a sudden burst of pain in her chest lights up the dark chamber. She barely gets to glance down at the arrow in her chest before she collapses onto the cold, stone ground, her vision tinged green. She means to call out to Mercer, about to ask him to get the damn arrow out of her right clavicle, when she realizes her lips won't respond to her wishes. She tries to get to her feet, tries to roll off her side, tries move her arm, but her body won't respond. She's completely frozen, paralyzed, lying on the cold ground, watching helplessly as Mercer confronts the shadow that has stepped out from behind the wall. The shadow who, Iris suspects, is the cause of the arrow protruding from under her collarbone and her paralysis.
"Do you honestly think your arrow will reach me before my blade finds your heart?" Mercer spits as the Dunmer woman reveals herself.
"Give me a reason to try," the woman states clearly, briefly glancing at the fallen Breton paralyzed on the ground.
Mercer scoffs. "You're a clever girl, Karliah. Buying Goldenglow Estate and funding Honningbrew Meadery was inspired."
Karliah leans into her hip. "To ensure an enemy's defeat, you must first undermine his allies. It was the first lesson Gallus taught us."
Iris strains to move while Mercer is distracted, but her body still won't respond. All she can do is watch the exchange before her, internally groaning with pain.
"You always were a quick study."
"Not quick enough, otherwise Gallus would still be alive."
Mercer laughs, his face twisting. "Gallus had his wealth and he had you. All he had to do was look the other way."
"Did you forget the Oath we took as Nightingales? Did you expect him to simply ignore your methods?" Karliah asks, her voice rising in volume.
"Enough of this mindless banter!" Mercer shouts; Iris would have flinched in surprise if she could move. "Come, Karliah. It's time for you and Gallus to become reunited!" He draws his swords, facing her.
But Karliah shakes her head. "I'm no fool, Mercer. Crossing blades with you would be a death sentence. But I can promise the next time we meet, it will be your undoing." Before Mercer can react, Karliah downs an invisibility potion, disappearing from view.
Growing with frustration, Mercer sheathes his swords. Iris's mind spins from all that she's learned. Mercer killed Gallus. Not Karliah. He's been lying to the Guild this whole time! She strains to lift a finger. She has to get back to the Guild and warn them. She prays to every God she can think of, praying that Mercer will forget her lying there on the cold ground.
But he turns to face her paralyzed figure, his eyes roving across her small immobilized frame.
"How interesting," he sing-songs, stepping toward her. "It appears Gallus's history has repeated itself. Karliah has provided me with the means to be rid of you, and this ancient tomb becomes your final resting place."
She wants to scream, plead, anything to tell him that he can't kill her. Not unless he wants to kill the only person standing in the way of Alduin's reign. But all she can do is watch as he draws his golden sword, using the tip to trace her cheek.
"But do you know what intrigues me the most?" He waits for a moment, taunting her inability for speech. "The fact that this was all possible because of you." He chuckles softly when he draws blood from the skin of her cheek. "Farewell. I'll be certain to give Brynjolf your regards."
Terrified, Iris watches helplessly as he readies his sword, hovering over the side of her abdomen, a spot where if stabbed, she knows, she won't recover. A tear drips from her immobile eye, her heart pounding in her chest. Gods, she doesn't want to die. She can't leave like this. She can't leave Bryn like this.
Mercer jerks his hand, the pain splitting through her side lagging a second after she sees the motion. Her scream of pain is swallowed up by her paralysis as her world lights up crimson, feeling the warmth of her own blood being spilled on the stones. She can't even drag herself to safety. She's losing blood, and fast. But Mercer only watches her for a moment before wiping his blade and stepping over her body, leaving her to die. The pain twists around her heart and squeezes, blinds her, until the Gods grant her mercy, and she finally falls into the darkness.
Yay! I'm so excited to be starting a new fic with you all! Please favorite, follow, and review!
Also, the beautiful line at the beginning is from a poem written by Rumi. I thought it went well with Iris's character. And, don't worry; Brynjolf will appear in the next chapter!