High School DxD

1

Call of the Nightblade

A New Quest

/

The City of Kvatch, Cyrodiil

Reaching the city gates, the carriage rumbled over the paved road's damaged and uneven cobbles. As it was late at night, the gates were closed with two white-cloaked guards standing in front to challenge the vehicle's occupants.

"Hold there!" One of the guards politely ordered.

Stopping the carriage, the driver's second rose to greet the two guards standing at the city gates. The question was not at all unexpected, considering just how late they were arriving at the hilltop city of Kvatch.

"What's your business in Kvatch at this late hour?" The guard asked professionally, his fellow guard standing at the other side of the carriage, his hand loosely wrapped around his billhook.

"We come on the business of Lady Isabella Valga of Chorrol." The second guard answered, raising an exquisite blue linen parchment bearing a white tree symbol.

"I see… move along then." The guard ordered, signaling to his fellow guard who began to quickly unlock the gate.

/

"By the eight! Four days on the road, if only my stupid husband could be bothered to hire competent guards-" An Imperial noblewoman ranted angrily.

From beyond the doors to her rented room, her accompanying bodyguards could do little more than roll their eyes and fidget in annoyance.

"Ugh, to get stuck on guard duty to the "Hagraven of Chorrol" herself… we must be in line at the gates of Oblivion itself…" The driver groaned.

"Don't let her catch you saying that, Linus. Unless you want to "volunteer" for reassignment to the Skyrim detachment." The second guard warned in a lower tone.

"With how often we get stuck with that shrew, I think I'd rather take my chances with the Stormcloaks. At least they'll have the kindness to kill you the moment they see you." Linus scoffed. "Besides, I heard the war's pretty much over now that Ulfric's dead.

A dark figure emerging from the hall immediately prompted the men to hush as it soon began to steadily walk towards them. Seeing the form of the man soon approach them, the two placed careful hands on their sheathed weapons.

"State your business, citizen." Linus requested.

"I'm but a humble servant in the employ of the owner, I merely bring a gift for the fair lady of Chorrol." The servant answered, cooly presenting two bottles of wine. "Would you like some, I have a spare bottle."

/

Within her chambers, Lady Isabella laid on her bed out of pure boredom. Despite her best efforts, she was incapable of falling asleep. How typical for a bed made for the peasantry. To her annoyance, she found the inn she'd booked for the night had unfortunately booked all of their finer rooms for the night, leaving only the standard rooms.

Looking to her right, she found the complimentary wine bottles were all empty, only further spurring her ire. Seeing this, the Nibenean noblewoman huffed and growled as she was forced to lean back and attempt once more to rest. She still had another two days of travel before she reached her destination of Anvil.

A sudden knock at her door caused her blood to suddenly boil to the point of nearly exploding.

"I said I wasn't to be disturbed!" She shouted at the door.

"My apologies, my lady, I bring further gifts from my master." A warm voice spoke apologetically.

"Leave it at the door." She instructed, somewhat calming down to the news.

"I'm afraid one of the gifts can only be given personally, my lady." The voice insisted.

Frowning, the countess rose from her bed before stomping over to the door. Unlocking it, she angrily threw open the door to face the servant.

"What is it? I asked-" She demanded curtly before stopping herself.

Laying eyes upon the servant, the noblewoman's irritated expression dropped almost immediately. Forced to look up to the taller man, the Nibenean found her eyes pleased by the man's enticing appearance.

"Forgive the interruption, my lady. But my master wished to further apologize for the inconveniences of your sleeping arrangements with more complimentary wine and a massage within your chambers." The young servant spoke, his voice now clearer sounded like spoken honey to the noblewoman.

"Would he now?" Isabella asked, an opportunistic smile on her face.

/

Laying atop her bed in a simple nightgown, the Imperial countess sighed in relaxation as the masseur applied his trade over her upper torso.

"Ahhhh… your master chose well when he picked you…" Lady Isabella complimented as the servant's strong hands cascaded over her shoulders.

Stopping in between her neck and the shoulders, he gently but firmly kneaded the muscles, eliciting a soft moan from the older woman. With his fingers applying just the right amount of pressure, the countess felt her once tired and sore muscles ease and even warm at the man's touch.

"You honor me with your kind words, my lady." The servant chuckled. "I do hope you find your stay at the inn tolerable."

"Hmph, well if you're here… I suppose it isn't all bad." She shamelessly flirted.

Turning her head, she felt a sharp soreness originating from her neck. Making eye contact with the handsome man, she felt herself fluster as he smiled back in a manner not all too professional.

"Would you like more attention on your neck, my lady?" He asked, a subtle suggestive tone in his voice.

"Mmm, please dear." She answered, practically begging.

Raising his fingers to her neck, the countess practically had to hold in her moans the instant he began to apply pressure. Working his hands up and down her neck, the noblewoman found her body warming to the point where she felt her mind melt from the youth's touch. When one worked its way down to her jaw, she felt it as another passionate gesture from the masseur.

Then with one swift motion, the servant snapped her neck, killing her instantly. Placing two fingers to a vein, he quickly found her pulse had quickly vanished. Noting this, he calmly stepped away from the corpse before making a quick turn for the door.

Exiting into the hallway, the assassin looked down at the now-dead guards leaning up against the wall by the door. Both lay with spilled tankards of wine, one of the bottles of wine lay spilled over by their feet.

Smelling the poisoned wine all over them and the floor, the assassin quickly made his exit through a nearby window.

/

Days Later

The Imperial City, Cyrodil

Inside a luxurious chamber, an elderly man sat at a desk. Before him sat a scroll, decadently furnished with a pair of matching gold handles, inlaid with precious gemstones. Just like the scroll, the man was garbed expensively. Covering him was an exquisitely designed cloth robe dyed in equally expensive dark blue dye along with a rare animal pelt covering his shoulders. His head sat largely barren of hair, a grey beard covered his face, providing a testament to the man's advanced age and experience.

Standing closely by was a middle-aged Colovian Imperial man. Despite the wrinkling and greying of hair indicating his age and stress, the man stood tall and proud in an expensive crimson tunic. Protecting that was a dark black leather muscle cuirass. Unlike normal leather armor, his set had been designed with visible abdominal muscles and was shaped to conform to his athletic frame. Over his heart sat the emblem of a red diamond, a white eye in the center of that. On his limbs, leather greaves, and gauntlets covered them while also allowing his toned physique to be seen.

"Lucius, how are the preparations for the wedding?"

"We've finished screening the castle staff and my men are rehearsing defensive drills as we speak. The suppliers for the food and beverages have also been screened along with the cargo, though I'll make sure to have men on standby." The bodyguard answered proudly.

"Very good." The elderly emperor smiled. Turning, he reached for a bottle of Cyrodilic Brandy that sat atop an equally expensive wooden liquor table.

/

Slamming onto a nearly identical liquor table, the victim, a young Breton man shattered the bottles of wine, embedding glass shards into his naked back. The man groaned weakly as he attempted to stumble to his feet as his attacker walked calmly towards him. Ignoring his currently nude state, the man looked for means of defending himself. Looking at the table, he hastily grabbed a broken wine bottle before lunging at the shrouded assailant.

Not stopping his advance, the assassin easily slipped past the Breton's pathetic attack. Dodging a swing, he grabbed the man's throat before effortlessly forcing him to his knees. His eyes widened as the assassin reached behind to his belt before drawing a dark grey dagger.

"Nnnnooo… please." The man raspily begged as his throat was crushed within the assailant's killer grip.

His plea for clemency fell upon deaf ears, however, as the dark-robed man slowly and firmly pressed the dagger into the Breton's throat. The man gurgled and squirmed in resistance, even throwing weak punches at the larger man's body as the blood seeped out. This didn't seem to faze the assassin who only continued to further drive the sinister-looking dagger into the man's throat.

"B..bbut… we had… a… deal…" He croaked out as the dagger was slowly removed.

After uttering his last words, the Breton collapsed backward into the bathtub causing some of the water to leak out.

Looking down at his kill, the man showed little remorse to the nude corpse as it floated adrift in the now blood-tainted bath. His face bore one of pure fear, his cold, dead eyes still staring at his murderer, begging for a reprieve.

"No mercy for traitors…" The assassin uttered ruthlessly as he sheathed his blade before turning and strolling off towards the door.

Exiting the bathhouse, the killer calmly walked down, casually avoiding the mess of corpses lining the floors of the outlying hallway. Sniffing the air, he could sense one scent stood out from amongst the carnage, sweat… He soon recognized it as the smell of fear.

"Ahhh!" A voice shouted from in front of him as a surviving guard mustered enough courage to face him.

Continuing his stride unimpeded, the cutthroat dodged the man's sloppy, undisciplined attacks. Spotting an opening, he slipped in. Using his grey dagger to parry and gain hold of the man's longsword, he drew a second dagger before impaling the guard through the eye.

"Gugh…" He groaned in pure shock.

Feeling his grip loosen on his sword, the killer calmly withdrew his second dagger, allowing the last guard to collapse to the floor, blood spurting out from his gaping wound.

Smelling the blood-filled air once more, the assassin sheathed his blades upon deciding the home's occupants to all be dead. Reaching into his cloak, he produced a flask. Unscrewing the lid, he quickly went to work pouring the contents over the ground and flammable materials such as carpets and tapestries.

Once satisfied, he secured the flask before retrieving another tool, a chunk of flint and steel. Striking it against the small trail, a small spark soon caught onto the liquid and a small fire soon emerged from the flammable liquid. Watching it soon catch onto nearby furniture and doused corpses, the killer calmly walked off.

/

Days later

The City of Chorrol, Cyrodiil

Within a large, bustling market full of activity, a man garbed in expensive clothing emerged from one of its many shops. Within his hands, a large sack of gold clinked and clanked as he shoved it into his overcoat. Nervously looking around, he quickly made his way down the street, carefully dodging and avoiding people.

Despite his vigilance, he'd failed to notice an orange-robed figure following him at a close distance. Every time he'd turned his head back to face him, the assassin would seamlessly blend into the crowds of citizens being easily mistaken for some sort of priest.

Seeing the man's home was only a few blocks away, the Dragonborn knew now was time to act. He knew that once inside, he'd be heavily guarded by well trained and equipped mercenaries, narrowing his odds further the quicker his pace grew. He also knew that if he acted now, he'd certainly be within full view of the peasantry as well as numerous guards, virtually guaranteeing detection and complicating matters further.

But what if he could move too fast to be seen?

Smiling, he took in a large puff of air into his lungs.

"Tiid Klo Ul!" He shouted.

Turning around, the merchant was initially alarmed by the sound of shouting. Turning around, however, revealed his fears to be apparently in vain. All around him, the people continued their lives carefree and none-the-wiser to the shouting.

After jogging a few blocks, the man soon reached his destination, a towering manor home.

Wasting no time, he threw open the doors to find a handful of armored mercenaries awaiting his arrival.

"Priscus! Is the carriage ready?!" The nobleman asked, slightly out of breath.

"Yes, my lord. We're prepared to move when you're ready." The Nord mercenary answered with a firm nod.

"Good, let's go!"

/

Now within the safe confines of the carriage and under armed guard, the merchant attempted to lean back in relaxation. Unfortunately, his body felt unnaturally hot. Even with drinks of water, he felt coated in a layer of sweat.

Looking out the window, his eyes darted back and forth over the large crowds of citizens shopping. He huffed as his temperature only continued to rise from his current paranoia.

"Can't we take a faster route?!" He shouted to the driver.

"My apologies, my lord. However, this is the way to the closest gate." Priscus apologized. "Would you like for me to go around to another gate?"

"Just get us out of here!" The merchant shouted.

Grumbling in minor annoyance, the Imperial focused back to the task at hand. After a few, slow, trudging minutes, he managed to slip his way through the crowded market district. Pulling in up to the town gate, they were stopped by two town guards.

"What's the meaning of this?" Priscus demanded.

"Haven't you heard? Lady Isabella has been assassinated in Kvatch." The guard informed. "As such, the Count has ordered a lockdown of the entire city. Only those on official business are to be allowed through."

"Perhaps "official business" can be arranged… right, my lord?" The Nordic mercenary suggested.

Hearing no immediate response from within the carriage, the bodyguards looked to one another in confusion. After several seconds of pure silence, the men acted.

"My lord?" One of the guards asked, moving towards the carriage door.

Calmly opening it, they were greeted by the sight of the merchant, dead in his seat. His skin appeared a ghostly white with sweat so thick and abundant, his clothing appeared soaked. His face held that of pure disbelief. In his hand, he clutched a nearly empty wine bottle. At his feet sat numerous empty wine bottles.

Jumping back, the men scrambled to organize themselves with their employer now dead.

Meanwhile, from within a crowd of townspeople, the assassin watched them. Seeing their reaction, he spun around before vanishing further into the citizenry. Within his hands sat a small scroll, on which a series of names sat listed, nearly all of whom were crossed out. Taking out a chunk of charcoal, he scribbled out the final name on the list.

/

Within the Imperial throne room, the aging emperor yawned in exhaustion as the last of his attendants and guests made their exit. Looking out a nearby window, he smiled as he saw the sunset. Another day of business within the empire concluded.

Once the last of his courtiers exited, his loyal bodyguard, Lucius stepped forward.

"According to my agents, the cities of Chorrol, Kvatch, and Camlorn are on high alert." The spymaster reported. "It appears our agent was successful in his mission."

"Appears. We'll have to speak with him for confirmation."

From a magical seal on the floor, a bright blue portal suddenly emerged. Stepping through it, the dark-cloaked assassin immediately knelt before the aging emperor.

"Report Lieutenant." Commander Maro calmly requested.

"I've done as ordered, the conspirators have been hunted down and eliminated, Commander."

"You've eliminated the conspirators? And I presume my involvement has been hidden?" The balding emperor asked.

"All evidence of your involvement lies buried beneath ash and ruble, sire." The young man answered unhesitatingly.

"Very good. That's one less loose end to tie up." The emperor smiled, praisingly. "You do well to live up to our expectations, Alexios."

Raising his hands to his head, the assassin lowered his hood to reveal a Colovian Imperial man in his late teens. His face sat purely and virtually blemish-free. A pair of high cheekbones and a strong jawline gave him an almost greek statue-like appearance. Beneath shortly cut black hair, a set of icy grey eyes met the elderly man's faint blue ones. Unbuttoning and removing his cloak and hood revealed that he wore armor completely uniform to that of Commander Maro.

"Thank you, Father." The young man smiled.

"Come with us, we'll discuss your next assignment." The Penitus Oculatus commander spoke, causing the young man's smile to drop into a professional nod.

/

Sometime later

Within his chamber, the young Alexios readied himself for the task. Reclipping his cloak, he looked down at his attire. As he was operating clandestinely on potentially hostile territory, he couldn't risk an international incident by donning his standard Penitus Oculatus uniform. Instead, he'd been equipped in a set of captured Thieves Guild armor. The leather had been dyed black, the pauldrons and leather sleeves had been removed and the breastplate had been reinforced with segmented steel plates. Though slightly heavier, the vest would be far more durable against slashes and stabs.

As he was to remain light and mobile, he was relegated to carefully storing essentials on the pouches on his belt and satchel. Across his chest sat a bandolier of carefully sharpened and poisoned throwing knives. Holstered on his belt was a small crossbow designed to be easily concealed under his cloak. For longer range, he slung his Daedric bow over his shoulder. The bracers and boots had been modified to hold numerous tools such including small potions, poisons, and lockpicks.

Reaching down to his bed, the Imperial assassin grabbed his main tools, two daggers, and a short sword. The curved one sported a black blade with a brown handle and pointed handguard, while the other sported a shorter, straight blade with a full crossguard and pommel.

Sheathing the dark curved dagger, he felt as the fire in the room seemingly grew hotter.

He remembered the warmth of the fireplace as he sat by its side. Looking up, the nude Dragonborn watched, mesmerized as the equally nude woman seductively strode over to him. A soft sway in her hips, the rookie assassin felt his mind melt from the woman's advance. Eventually sitting in his laps, he felt her plump breasts pressed against his pecs, her heart thumping in tangent with his. Grabbing his face, the seductress ravaged his lips, grabbing his head and snaking her tongue into his mouth. Enthralled, the Dragonborn could only find himself running a hand down her spine, stopping short as he felt one of her arms coil back.

Blinking, he then remembered the smile on the face of the would-be assassin as she lay dying in his arms. By the light of the fire, he was able to carefully study her face and features. Her honey-blonde hair sat neatly braided, her skin as pure and light as the snow. Looking down at her nude torso, he found the curved blade stabbed into her abdomen.

Looking back up to her face, he found it showed… acceptance. With her death inevitable, the Nordic seducer creepily chanted an unholy text all while caressing his face.

"Well done..." Astrid's last words leaving a lasting impression on the then-newly blooded royal assassin.

Running his fingers over the straight dagger, he felt the fire grow colder.

Stabbing a Nibenean Imperial to death, he felt the coldness of guilt worm its way into his heart. With candles lighting the room, the Imperial scholar's face of dread stared back into the assassin's blank one. After stabbing the man, the agent caught him before he could crash into the floor. Unlike the dark brotherhood assassin, the man could only bear to stare deeply into the assassin's eyes as a silent means of begging for mercy.

After Silus' death, the agent snuck out of the town under the cover of darkness. After a short time, he turned back to witness as the murder sight was soon raised to the ground from his incendiary concealment of the incident. Looking back to the now-bloody dagger, he felt the reward a bittersweet one at that.

He frowned as he sheathed the gray blade onto his belt.

Turning to his main weapon, he soon smiled as he ran a finger atop the black sword. Sitting within the fire's light, he was able to see the blue hue of a powerful enchantment applied to the incredibly old weapon.

Taking the weapon with his hands, he whipped at a practice target beside his bed, showcasing its lightweight yet durable design. Though the bare metal of the handle bit into his palms, he didn't seem to mind it, seeing it as a fair cost for using the capable blade.

"You lead your people… so will I someday." He spoke to himself as he sheathed the blade.

Turning to a nearby door, he exited outside onto his balcony. From there, the Colovian looked down onto the capital. The beautiful lights, architecture, and culture of the Imperial city was something he grew up around but never got to truly enjoy. Watching commoners strolling out and about, some drunk, all enjoying themselves made the Imperial miss the not-so-distant adventure within the northern lands of Skyrim.

When under assignment to the agency's Skyrim detachment, he'd been given practically free rein to conduct himself. Furthermore, he'd been legally declared an adult at only fifteen and allowed to venture outside his mission parameters, so long as his primary objectives had been accomplished. Within the two years he'd spent, he found he was the last Dragonborn of legends, trained and fought alongside the finest warriors in Skyrim, saved the world twice, and fallen in love.

If only he could've spent more time within Nirn's frozen northlands, he was deeply saddened to have left many great organizations such as the Companions and the Dawnguard. The looks of disappointment from Kodlak and the Circle burned brightly within his memories. He wouldn't have been anywhere nearly as good of an agent as he was now without their valuable training and companionship. Even with his extensive training with the Penitus Oculatus, their finest swordsmen could only barely keep up with ones such as Vilkas or Athis, meanwhile, their archers were grossly outclassed when compared to Aela.

Not caring for his royal heritage, Isran proved a tough, but genuinely caring and fair mentor. Teaching the youth much of his magic and further specialist skills, it only hurt further to have to leave such a group.

Despite leaving both organizations, the Circle ensured he left with a crucial gift.

An abrupt prickling of the front door lock prompted the assassin's hair to stand slightly on end, hearing the door unlock, he glared over in the direction of the door. Sniffing the air revealed the pungent smell of wildflowers, likely from the owner's perfume.

With the front door now unlocked, the intruder quietly slipped in. Looking around briefly revealed the assassin to be missing from the bedroom. Seeing the open balcony, the intruder sauntered over to the open space.

Reaching the balcony, they were surprised to find the Dragonborn missing. A smirk formed on their face as they heard the sound of boots softly landing behind them. Turning around, they were greeted by the dark-cloaked assassin.

"I guess I can't pull that off anymore now, huh?" They asked, revealing a youthful, feminine voice.

"Can't you knock?" He asked, annoyed.

Confronting the intruder, Alexios found them to be an Imperial woman appearing in her late teens. Covering her was a lavish purple silk dress that perfectly balanced modesty with alluring attractivity. From beneath her shoulder-length black hair, a pair of golden eyes narrowed as they made contact with his grey ones.

"What's the point of that?" She asked back jokingly.

"Not confusing you for my next kill..." The Dragonborn answered bluntly.

"Aww, you're so cute when you're mad!" The woman teased, taking an apple off of a nearby table.

"And your even more annoying when you do that..." Alexios snorted in retort.

"Is that any way to treat your older sister?" She asked taking a bite out of the fruit.

"Why are you here, Drusilla?" The prince asked back, ignoring the question.

"What do you mean? Is it wrong for a princess to want to see her baby brother after worrying about him for two weeks?" The princess answered, keeping up her cat-like grin.

Seeing this, the werewolf folded his arms.

"You know what I mean." He answered.

"Hmph, your no fun... Well if you must know, I'm to be married to Quintus Tullius." Drusilla conceded.

"General Tullius' son?" Alexios asked, raising an eyebrow.

"The one and only." She clarified.

"That must be a dream come true..." He said sarcastically.

"Do I detect a hint of disapproval?" His older sister asked, catching onto the Dragonborn's gruff. "Are you still mad about when he used to pick on you?"

"Pfft. That arrogant prick's no better a soldier than I'm a priest..." The assassin scoffed dismissively. "You're better off marrying a mudcrab, at least that'll follow some instructions."

"You should give him a chance, he's changed since then." The princess urged, placing a gentle hand on her brother's arm. "He wants you to like him."

"Why? What I think doesn't matter, it's Father's choice. This marriage is a peaceful means of securing his father and family's loyalty, that's all." Alexios spoke coldly.

"Allways the "optimist", baby brother. Anyways, I guess I should let the big bad wolf rest for his next "hunt"." Drusilla spoke teasingly, before leaving the assassin by himself.

Alone once more, the Dragonborn was free to think alone. Despite her annoying antics, Alexios didn't enjoy snubbing at his older sister, he simply cared enough to want to screen every possible marriage candidate. But all the talk of marriage soon returned to him, while he was barely considered an adult at only seventeen, he was technically eligible for marriage. It made him wonder if he'd find love. True love that is.

Knowing his prestigious position and bloodline, he'd likely be married off to either an unfaithful snake like the late countess of Chorrol or an annoying crow like the countess of Leyawiin. While he knew to flirt with the countess was required to gain entrance to her room, he was no less disgusted by the fact that the woman was so desperate and hungry she'd forget the man she'd married and throw herself at any good looking youth who came her way. If only he could find a woman who'd value him for who he was, and be approved and accepted by his family and the court.

Then he remembered the gentle face of a beautiful nordic queen with long, soft brown hair, snow-white skin, and a pair of sparkling sapphire eyes. The way she smiled at him when he revealed he'd protected her from a would-be assassin brought genuine peace and love to his heart. Truly, High Queen Elisif was a clear exception to this common plague amongst the empire's nobility. A woman who could face the terrors of war and continue to lead and inspire others was the only one who could capture the assassin's cold, apathetic heart.

If only he could have her. He knew in the end that she saw him as more of a child to be held and coddled by a gentle mother than a passionate and protective husband and lover. He knew that as the only surviving member of her house that she'd have to marry a man low enough for their child to bear her name rather than his. A fact that made his blood boil and made him howl out in pain at her apologetic, but firm rejection of him. It angered him to no end that the only woman who could listen and understand him was beyond his grasp, simply because he was too high up for her.

Remembering the face of another nearly forgotten love, the werewolf shuttered in anger and regret. Too angered by the thought, he quickly shut the images of her red eyes and fang-bearing grin.

Suddenly, the sound of metal clanging cut his daydreaming short and caused his enhanced ears to perk up. Leaning over the railing, he spotted the source of the noise. A single window leading into the archives in the floor below swung wide open, the wind causing the window to slam repeatedly against the wall.

Suspicious, the nightblade slid his hood and mask over his face before vaulting over the railing. Pressing his bodyweight against the wall, he was able to carefully slide down the wall of the palace. Dropping down onto the window sill, he deftly slipped inside.

Looking around, he at first felt no immediate presence within the closed archives. Turning however revealed a dark shadow slipping past a locked shelf of legal records.

Alexios was wary of the potential visitors knowing that the archives were closed at the time. Even the scribes didn't come to the archives at this hour… But, perhaps it was an element of guards patrolling the area. An unscheduled late-night patrol and securing of the archives wasn't all that unheard of. Besides, it had been decades since the archives housed the empire's known Elder Scrolls. There were only a few ones left, and those were kept under the strongest of locks and magical wards, rendering any ideas of theft delusional. Relaxing, he calmly rose to address the guards, knowing they'd likely be fellow agents he knew personally. After all, in such a secretive and closely-knit group such as the Penitus Oculatus, it was common for agents to associate and befriend one another.

A sudden crackling of a rusty lock, however, made his heart stop.

Racing around the corner, he found them.

Standing at the center of the large room was a single figure cloaked in a dark robe. Just before them was the now-open case for the three Elder Scrolls. Reaching inside, the thief took hold of one, before they could store it within their robe, however, a crossbow bolt embedded itself mere inches away from their palm, barely scratching their hand.

Turning they were greeted by the charging Dragonborn prince. Raising his crossbow, he fired off a quick shot, only to be dodged by the thief. Turning, the cloaked burglar turned tail and fled out of the main entrance, the agent hot on their heels.

"Intruder! We have an intruder within the palace!" Alexios shouted aloud.

Shortly after, two Penitus Oculatus agents burst into the hallway.

"Stop that thief!" He ordered.

Holding their shields in front of them, they blocked off the exit to the burglar. Thinking his thief to be trapped, the Imperial grinned. He was soon proven wrong when the pilferer used their momentum and gracefully ran across the wall. Slipping past the two agents, they continued their retreat down the hall, now followed by three agents.

Bursting into a dark room, the three men formed closely together to block the door. With Red Eagle's Bane in one hand, the Imperial cast a flame spell with his off-hand, giving a minor amount of light to the party. Raising his hand higher soon illuminated the room, revealing their target.

They stood defiantly and proudly a mere fifteen feet before them, a hand clenched into a fist. Eyes widened as the thief opened their palm, revealing a bright blue orb. A simple glare gave testament to the wielder's potentially immense power.

"Get down!" Alexios shouted, dropping the flame spell before attempting to cast a ward spell.

Casting the magical barrier too late, the Dragonborn was only able to shield himself in time before the powerful blast reached the party. Slamming into the three men, the group was sent flying backward into the door with a loud thud.

Raising his head, the lightly injured prince felt his heart drop once more as his ears flickered like an alert wolf. Turning to face his downed companions, a sense of dread crept over him as he failed to find a heartbeat emanate from one of them.

Another bright light forced him to forget his fallen brethren and face the thief. Lowering the same hand to the floor, they cast some sort of rune onto the ground before them. Within moments, the intruder's dark form began to rapidly dematerialize before the assassin's eyes.

Without hesitation, Alexios climbed to his feet before sprinting towards the escaping robber. Diving forward, he barely managed to be caught by the teleportation magic before they could escape.

/

Reemerging moments later, the assassin fell face-first into a soft pile. His enhanced sense of smell catching onto the harsh smell of spoiled food, he quickly pulled his head out of the dumpster. Quickly ridding his nostrils of the foul odors, his tongue moistened as his nose latched onto the smell of fresh blood.

Turning he caught the scent of the thief exiting the alley they currently occupied. Running after the burglar's trail, he felt his eyes and ears were assaulted as he was greeted to the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar land.

All around him humanoid beings walked and passed by him with little thought or care for the dark-robed assassin. Looking around, he gruffed in anger as he lost sight of the thief amongst the immense crowd of people.

Speed walking in the general direction the thief took off, he soon lost himself in the atmosphere of the foreign land. The bright lights of the strange torches and candles used practically blinded him, while the smells of oil and exotic foods nauseated him. Combined, he was in no position to properly coordinate himself.

Accidentally slamming into someone, the Imperial looked down to see a teenage boy of roughly similar age sitting on the ground before him. Making eye contact with the boy's dark brown eyes, he found them soon filled with annoyance.

"Hey! Watch where you're going!" The brunette scolded.

Saying nothing, Alexios turned and fled into a nearby alley.

/

Rubbing his head, the teen quickly pulled himself to his feet. With a few scrapes, he managed to dust off his jacket.

"What's up with that guy?" He asked himself.

"Hey, Issei!" A familiar voice shouted from behind him.

Turning around, the brunette was greeted by two teenage boys, one with a dark black buzzcut, the other with shoulder-length brown hair, and a pair of large glasses.

"What's up, Matsuda?" He asked, turning to the buzzcut teen.

"Dude, we hit the jackpot! All the latest manga we can carry!" The buzzcut-bearing teen exclaimed cheerfully.

"Come on!" The other boy urged.

Following his friends, Issei was soon led to a colorfully marked tent practically plastered with advertisements for various manga series. There to greet them was a middle-aged man all too happy to talk about the offerings to entice the teens.

Looking back towards the alleyway, the highschooler couldn't get the incident out of his head. Even when he knew it to be an accident… He had a strange feeling from the bizarrely dressed cosplayer.

/

Now free from the crowds, Alexios sat on a nearby rooftop. Sniffing the air, he frowned when he discovered the trail from his target went cold amongst the exotic scents of this strange land. Gazing back to the alley he'd emerged from, he scowled when he realized the portal that brought him here was long gone. Turning around, he scanned the surrounding horizon. Spotting the forested outskirts of the town, he stealthily slipped off the roof unseen.

Taking a slower, but the safer route, he'd practically guarantee he'd remain undetected. He knew that as a foreigner, he would likely stand out from the locals and attract unwanted attention. Thus retreat and reassessment of the situation seemed the most logical plan.

Or so he thought.

Despite his perception and skill in the art of guile, he'd failed to notice he too was being watched subtly.

From the top of a distant building, the cloaked thief chuckled as they watched him make his escape.

"I'll be sure to keep an eye on you… Little Prince." The burglar finally spoke, revealing a sultry, feminine voice.