"I need you to run an errand for me." The spymaster told Eiryn. She'd only just returned from the last assignment he sent her on, consisting of guiding two soldiers into the region of the Acadian Isles. Not particularly audacious let alone eventful. The young scout frowned, not enjoying the fact that Caius Cosades, Spymaster to the Blades' Guild, would once again send her some stupid task that required nothing in the way of testing her skills. She wanted a challenge this time.
"And what errand would that be?" She asked with trepidation. The very fact he said 'errand' instead of using his usual terms of 'duties' or 'orders' denoted the assignment would be similar to many other tedious errands she'd been sent to do. Most of what he asked of her was nothing more than trivial scouting duties, or at best, to run messages to and from various cities throughout the lands of Vvardenfell.
Caius scratched his chin, fingernails scritched along his unshaven jaw. Equally graying eyebrows knitted together in thought. He asked the young woman to meet him in his single room apartment used to fabricate his 'cover' of being the local Skooma junkie, and so far it worked pretty well. No one in the city of Balmora even suspected Caius Cosades as being anything but some poor sod that had a 'sugar tooth' addiction. It was the perfect disguise to run his spywork for the Emperor of Tamriel.
He was a typical Imperial, with the stocky build and broad shoulders of his kind. For an aged man, he still carried a fair amount of muscle and the skills to match. One could even tell he'd been a fighter in his youth. Gray hair was cropped short, and balding, and the lined face looked a bit haggard.
"I need you to find someone in Suran." He said thoughtfully.
Eiryn's frown deepened. Supposedly, she was the rank Apprentice to the Blades Guild, the 'eyes and ears of the Emperor'. The elite guild consisted of agents serving the Emperor of Tamriel in any fashion that the spymaster saw fit. Since joining, Eiryn found herself running petty odd jobs or serving as scout to other Blades when the need arose, hardly the challenges she had expected to face.
She had just celebrated her twenty-second year of her young life, and had spent the past five of those years under the tutelage of the Scouts' Guild. She moved readily enough through the ranks, but found the jobs rather boring, and the training standard. When offered to join the elite Guild of the Blades, she jumped at the chance, wanting to prove herself as well as improve herself in the eyes of the aging spymaster.
Eiryn knew his offering her to join the Blades was a considerable effort on his part. In all the years she'd known the man, he had tried to protect her and care for her as best he could, being a man in his position. However, the young Breton had an adventurous spirit, taking after her father, and now joining the Guild he led.
She also knew they looked very unlike one another. No one would suspect they were related. As Caius was broad with the bulk of years from fighting, she was slim and athletic from the many miles she traversed through the providence of Vvardenfell. The young scout also had chestnut hair that nearly fell to her waist often bound in a single braid for practical purposes, with deep green eyes that were wide, not the hooded gray blue gaze her father had.
As the human races went, Imperials were warriors with the bulk and natural disposition for fighting. Bretons, however, had elven blood from many generations past that gave them a slimmer more lightweight form and pre-disposition to magic. She was mixed, so her characteristics tended to side with her mother's appearance.
Eiryn didn't have the pointed ears of the elven races. She was, however, shorter than most people with the slim figure and delicate features of high cheekbones and small chin. Eiryn also never considered herself a beauty in any sense of the word. Being short, and too athletic for most men, the young Breton also never wore gowns, or clothes that revealed too much. The practicality of her clothes marked her as the scout she was, sensible and straightforward.
Caius had made it abundantly clear to her that no one was to know of their blood kinship for fear of breaking his cover, or endangering her. She, in turn, made certain he understand she wanted no preferential treatment from him, but to offer the same challenges as any novice of the Blades. So far, she kept her end of the bargain, while he remained giving her the most ridiculously 'safe' jobs to do. Now it would seem, yet another errand to run for her father in the city of Suran. Refraining a sigh of frustration, she hid her disappointment by chewing her lower lip. "You want me to find someone in Suran?"
The older man seemed hesitant to continue and when he did, the words were guarded. "He's Dunmer, goes by the name of Saber." He told her.
Great, she thought to herself, the guy is named after a sword? Did he think himself a tough guy? Was he some mercenary or fighter? And Dunmer, also known as Dark Elves, were numerous enough in the Suran region. Too numerous. She was to find one out of hundreds? Hardly the sort of challenge she was looking for.
"Any idea as to where I look for him first?" She knew better than to refuse this task, much as she hated these 'errands'. Now the rising in rank seemed even further away from her grasp than before.
"I'm not sure." Caius said slowly. "But he's from the Imperial City. And not like other Dark Elves. He's …more than what he appears." The man looked away then back, trying to find the right words without revealing too much. "He also tends to be quite…personable."
A personable Dark Elf? Was this some sort of joke? Dunmer, were not exactly known for their humor or being light hearted, let alone 'personable'. In fact, the very word "Dunmer" meant the "Dark" or "Cursed Ones". Some interpreted the term meaning quite literally that they were dark. Skin was from ash gray to near black, and nearly all bore deep red eyes and dark hair, unless they colored their hair to red or aged with hair gone white. Others considered the term of Dunmer meaning a reference to their very nature of being 'gloomy' and 'ill favored'.
But a personable Dark Elf, she thought? That seemed unheard of. Being he was from the Imperial City would mark him as a foreigner. That, at least, gave her a start to how to discern him from others. She cocked a brow at her superior, waiting for more information. He shifted uneasily in the rickety chair before continuing.
"I can't tell you much concerning him, being Imperial business." The man explained. Eiryn stiffened knowing that not every member of the Blade Guild knew what the other quests of another member might entail. Such as life was within the organization of spies. Lately Caius had been aloof and secretive of current quests, keeping the lower ranks ignorant of missions other higher-ranking members took. "You can relay to him that he must return to Balmora, by my command. He'll understand my meaning."
By his command?
"He's a Blade as well?" Only ones who had to follow Caius' command were members of the Blades' Guild. She was being sent to bring some rebellious member back into the fold? The Guild was fastidious with who they let into their organization, and expelling a member was almost unheard of. It also meant they 'disappeared' knowing too much of the spy work they worked for. Crossing the Blades was never done lightly. "Is he turning Rogue?"
Caius sighed as if burdened; taking a seat across the tiny room he called home. "I certainly hope not." He said, "Let's just say I think he's handling some news I gave him rather badly right now."
"Ah," Eiryn nodded, "So this wayward soul is just being defiant for now?"
"I hope that is all that it is."
So, one of the Blades was rebelling against Caius and no doubt refusing orders. It wasn't the first time, and even Eiryn had considered quitting now and then but only out of frustration. Caius was a fair man, but due to his being so closed-mouthed on things made tasks more exasperating than they already are. What made this Dunmer so important? If he was being such a crybaby, why keep him in the Blades at all? "Shall I try to bring him back by force?"
"No, and don't even try." The older man warned her. "Hasphat at the Fighters Guild informs me he's quite skilled with the blade, and various fighting techniques. I wouldn't be too surprised you might face a bit of his…anger once you speak to him."
"Is he dangerous?"
"Perhaps if provoked, but if I thought he was a danger to you, I hardly would be sending you in the first place." He smiled softly, wanting her to know he didn't want her in harm's way. This only revealed how over-protective he was. "Just give him the message, and ask for a reply, then return to Balmora."
Eiryn wasn't sure to be insulted at his implying she couldn't handle this Dunmer, or the fact he was still being protective of her! Keeping any smart remark in check, she reminded herself she was no bounty hunter. Her skills were modest with fighting for now, and had minimal skill with magecraft. Most of her talents were in alchemy, tracking, and a marksman with the bow.
"So I just find him, relay your message and come back?" She asked, disappointed in the total lack of daring this mission presented. "Sounds simple enough."
Suran was a busy agricultural and trading village located near the shore of Lake Masobi. Built in the square, box-like architecture of stone and adobe, the town sat nestled along a hillside boasting almost as many shops and tradesman as Balmora. The square buildings lined the hillside, with a curving roadway trailing up the noble estates and Imperial Temple on the higher elevations.
Various plantations surrounded the rolling landscape of the Ascadian Isles region, and they required a regular flow of new slaves to work the fields. Slaves generally consisted of the cat-like Khajiit, the reptilian Argonians, or the occasional member of the human races. Sometimes criminals were pressed into slavery as punishment, while others were simply ill fated to be caught into the slave trade for any number of reasons.
Here in the lands of the Dunmer, the slave trade was controlled through the Five Great Houses of Morrowind. Although the Empire frowned on slavery as a whole, the terms of Armistice for the land of the Dark Elves stated they could define their own laws. In the Redoran and Hlaalu districts, slavery had loosened the tight hold, but in the Televani district, slavery was still rampant.
Suran boasted a slave market as well a weapon smith, a tradehouse, a clothier, and the notorious Desele's House of Earthly Delights, the local brothel. The Earthly Delights was also one of the few places a traveler could sleep for the night, which Eiryn hoped to avoid at all costs.
The young scout stepped under the archway of one of the walled city gates, as the sun was beginning to set to the horizon. The glow of sunlight off the pale adobe walls gave everything an odd pink hue, mixed with the faintest purple in the sky. Hoisting her small pack to her shoulder, Eiryn decided to start her quest as soon as possible, hoping to find this elf before nightfall and return post haste to Balmora in short order. Maybe this time the spymaster might provide her something more challenging in the way of quests, or better yet- finally give her a new rank.
Her first stop in nearly any town was to the Tradehouse. Such shops harbored food and drink, and supplies for the traveling adventurer. A Dunmer female by the name of Ashumanu owned the local Tradehouse, and was well known for her shrewd bartering and eagerness to knock heads if anyone started a fight in her establishment. When asked about a Dark elf named Saber, she shook her head. "Sera, we get plenty of Dunmer in here. I don't ask names."
Great, Eiryn thought, now wishing she had a better description of this man she was to find. Sera or Muthsera were Dunmeri terms of respect, not often given to anyone not Dunmer. Eiryn had often picked up phrases of many races that could be found in Morrowind, including insults, as well as some of their traditions.
"He'd be new to Suran, from the Imperial city, an outlander." She persisted, hoping to joggle the woman's mind on something. "And I'm told he's rather personable."
Brows twitched up at this and the eyes the color of red ochre blinked in surprise. "A personable N'wah?" She scoffed, using the Dunmeri term for foreigner as an insult. "I think I'd remember such as he. You might want to try at Desele's place. That might be more to his tastes."
Eiryn grimaced upon mention of the house of ill repute, hoping to avoid it if she could. "Thank you for your time." She mumbled, handing over a coin in thanks. Money always talked. Whether the gold loosened tongues, it certainly held high esteem to all in the future, Eiryn might still find a few friends.
After questioning more individuals in the streets or shops, Eiryn realized her task was going to be a challenge after all. He wasn't as well known as Caius had led her to believe, nor was his name known. If he were avoiding the eyes of the Blades, then he'd easily use another identity. Focusing on this, Eiryn decided to simply ask for an outlander Dark Elf, and leave it at that. The tedium of such a search annoyed her to no end.
No wonder Caius decided to send her. She was a low ranking Blade, without much choice in refusing tasks placed upon her. Such responsibilities as seeking out a person in Suran who didn't want to be found, would be beneath most of other members who were seasoned warriors or skilled mages. Sighing in frustration, she soon found herself at the entrance of Desele's House of Earthly Delights, stiffening her resolve in finding this man before heading home.
If she didn't find him soon, she might have to find a room at the brothel, being the only place with beds for rent, or opt to sleep on the ground outside the city. Sleeping out of the city was known to be rife with bandits and wild beasts, and best avoided if possible. Only briefly did she consider fighting off wild Guars or Nix Hounds preferable to finding this elusive Dunmer!
Gritting her teeth, she entered through the door past the twin pink lamps. If any guy so as much touches me…she let the thought fade as she gazed through the dim lighted room before her. Most of the lamps were of a pink hue, and the room thick with smoke from Skooma pipes or candles. Several 'gentlemen' sat amid the wooden tables to admire the three women dancing on platforms to the far wall, while a few minstrels played a seductive tune on lutes and drums.
The scout eyed the group of men, noticing several Dunmer gentlemen amid their ranks but none seemed to be the one she was looking for. They bore either noble insignia, or wore commoner shirts of farmers. A handful of other men were of pale Nordic or dark Redguard in origin, with a single wood elf sat in the far corner.
Going up to the bar, Eiryn found the owner, a young Imperial woman with deep brown eyes and full pouty mouth smiling a greeting to her. "Welcome to my House of Earthly Delights." She said warmly. "We don't get many woman who enter through the door. What can I help you with?"
"I'm looking for someone." Eiryn said, getting to the point and leaving no doubts she had a valid purpose of being here.
The woman lowered her chin, leaning forward. "Out to find a wayward husband?" She asked with a wink.
Fuming, Eiryn hoped her blush would be seen coming from the lights of the lamps around her. "I'm looking for a Dark Elf. He's an outlander. Have you seen him?"
"A Dark Elf?" Large eyes blinked in thought, a long finger tapped idly on her shin. She glanced over at the handful of Dunmer already at a table leering at the local dancers. "Hmm, let me think-"
"He is from the Imperial City, was traveling from Balmora…" Eiryn passed a gold coin to help her memory. "Calls himself Saber…?"
The woman's face lit up. "There is such a one here. You can find him upstairs, but I don't think he wants to be disturbed."
"Great…" She muttered, rubbing her face in agitation. The hour was growing late and she found the idea of having to stay over night more appalling as time passed. "Perhaps I should wait a bit?"
The woman, Desele, barked a laugh. "You'd be a waiting all night, my dear. That one is known for his stamina." Winking, she jerked her chin in the direction of the stairway. "He's in the upper room at the top of the stairs. Be sure to knock first."
Eiryn felt her cheeks grow hot at the woman's bawdiness. Lips pressed into a firm line. I'm going to slap Caius for giving me this quest! Perhaps she could simply leave a message for him, except the spymaster said nothing that she could do such a thing. Growling in irritation, she stiffened her resolve once again. So be it. This certainly wasn't the first time she had to undergo a certain level of embarrassment to fulfill a task placed upon her.
As she neared the top of the stairs, the door was shut, and the muffled sounds of a woman's laughter indicated that the room was occupied. This is official Blade business, She thought to herself, Just give him the message then go back to Balmora.
Rapping knuckles hard on the wooden door, she heard the muted voices pause before the portal opened a crack. A redheaded woman peeked out, startled to find another woman at her door tapping an impatient foot. No doubt she might perceive me as Desele did; some angry housewife out to beat her husband to an inch of his life. Eiryn certainly felt as though she wanted to beat someone to an inch of his or her life! This whole situation was ludicrous.
The woman drew a flimsy robe closely around her lithe form, cocking her head to one side to appraise her with a suspicious eye.
"I have a message for Saber." Eiryn told her directly, being sure her voice was loud enough for the other occupant to hear. If this woman wanted to pretend he wasn't here, or if he wanted to pretend he was someone else, he'd at least know she was standing at his doorstep.
"I'll give him your message." The woman said, eying her with a distrustful gaze. At least she admitted to the man within was named Saber.
Muscles tense in her jaw, Eiryn gritted teeth in frustration. "I'm told to give this message directly to Saber, and to him only."
"Let her in Myra." A smooth toned voice murmured from the dimly lit room. It was slightly accented, marking him from the Imperial City. The enunciation flowed well enough, and he spoke clearly, but his accent alone marked him as 'n'wah' or foreigner in the land of Morrowind, where a general distrust of anyone not of Vvardenfell was suspect.
As Eiryn drew in breath to speak, she found her voice suddenly caught in her throat upon seeing the naked man in the bed. He was covered just enough with the sheet for modesty, and that was all.
Elven folk, or Aldmeri as they often referred to their own, are an attractive race as a whole. High Elves were tall with golden skin and pale eyes, while Wood Elves were remarkably shorter with heart shaped faces and light hair. They often had more variety in hair and eye color, while the Dark Elves were always dark-skinned with blood red to deep wine colored eyes and dark glossy hair. Dark Elves also marked themselves with tattoos or scarring to denote rank and clan, or membership to one of the Great Houses. Many would dye their hair, or have styles from braids, to ponytails, to all manner of beadwork braided into the lengths. Some might shave their heads, but for every Dark Elf Eiryn had met, they always had some unique tattoo or some form of body modification. This one bore no markings whatsoever.
He sat with back against the wall of the tiny room, sheets barely covering what needed to be covered. His torso and long legs were exposed, showing excessive amounts of taut muscle. Dunmer varied in shading from light gray to almost black, but his was a pleasant in-between, similar to stormy blue-gray. His manner was relaxed, with an elbow resting on a folded knee. The bed had been well used by the look of disheveled sheets, and several bottles of varied wines scattered the floor of his little party.
Straight black hair fell past his shoulders, unbound, unbraided, and unadorned. The only ornamentation he wore was a single earring in his right ear with its graceful tip pointed as any elven kind. Eyes the shade of deep wine stared back at her, the pupils glowing red-orange in the dim light, appraised her directly with a serious expression of 'who is this?' look. An arched brow rose up in question.
He held a certain confidence that was quite alluring, but what was more he bore the elegant features of a noble. High cheekbones, a full mouth, and beardless chin only furthered added to an almost regal appearance. He was, in short, remarkably handsome. The Dunmer waited expectantly. "Your message?"
Swallowing hard, Eiryn hoped he didn't notice her blush. "In private." She told him, not wishing to share her message with the prostitute standing there.
A smile played on his lips, almost suggestively. Did he think she meant to seduce him or something? "Myra…" He murmured softly to the woman. "Would you be so kind as to excuse us?"
Myra was less than happy to being sent away from her client but could hardly argue. She cast a dark glare to the young scout before leaning possessively to the man and planting a lingering kiss on his mouth. Eiryn remained stoic, trying very hard to be patient and knew the woman was trying to show her ownership of the man in question. The keen look and smirk on the woman's mouth when she drew away attested to that. She left shutting the door behind her.
"Now we are alone…" The man named Saber spoke with suggestion in his tone. "What is your message?"
"Caius Cosades sent me-" She began, and found the elf already growing stiff in his posture, his pleasant expression transforming into one of irritation. She continued, "He sent me here to find you-"
"Oh don't tell me," He said, rolling his eyes dramatically, splaying hands in front of him. "He wants me to return to Balmora immediately?"
"Well that is the gist of the message…" Eiryn frowned, not understanding what the problem was. If he didn't want to be part of the Blades, then why doesn't he just renounce his rank and be done with it? "He added that you are return by his command-"
The Dark Elf glared at her, but she knew almost immediately the Dunmer's anger was not directed at her as much as the spymaster who of course wasn't here to face his wrath. "By his command?" The tone turned mocking. "You can tell Cosades that I've enough of his orders. If he wishes to send me back to Cyrodil, he's welcome to come and try."
Eiryn was struck speechless. Did he just challenge the Spymaster of the Blades? The man snorted in disgust, gathering sheets around his waist to get to his feet. Eiryn stepped back, realizing just how tall the man was now that he loomed above her. The top of her head barely met his chin, and with his sudden temper, he seemed formidable indeed. "And you can tell Cosades…I have no intention of being the Emperor's pawn in this matter. They will have to find some other fool to fill that part. I'm done with it."
"The Emperor?" Eiryn blinked incredulously, not understanding what was going on. If he was to follow orders of the Emperor himself, then things were more serious than she thought.
His gaze sharpened on her, his chin tilted somewhat to consider her for the first time. After a moment he gave a soft derisive snort. "You don't know anything about this do you?"
His eyes rolled dramatically again. "Caius and all his damned secrets-." He muttered, gathering up his clothes. Obviously this message had killed whatever mood he was in, or further thoughts to stay at the Earthly Delights. Eiryn hoped he might consider returning to Balmora as requested, but his manner belied such intentions. Most likely he simply wanted to find another hiding place away from the guild's intrigues.
A sarcastic laugh was met with a shake of his head. "No small wonder there, is it? I wasn't told a damned thing either until just the other day."
"What are you talking about?" Eiryn asked, suddenly very curious indeed of what possible quest this man was set for. When he dropped the sheet, she quickly looked away before seeing too much exposed flesh as he dressed. He seemed to not even care as he yanked trousers on.
"If I knew what Caius wanted of me…and that damned Emperor of his, then I would've gladly remained in prison-" He muttered, continuing to dress and obvious to what she was hearing.
"That's what I was…a thief…" He continued. The elf nudged her out of his way, to find his boots near the door. The room was incredibly small in comparison to most inns. In here, there was very little standing room. "Nobody significant. Always kept to my own damned business. Never hurt anyone did I? Only killed those who might try to kill me first and even then avoided it when I can. Do I look as though I'm someone of importance?"
Now he looked at her, splaying out arms so she could see him. She still had a strong sense he was only ranting; his discourse was not directed at her specifically. The Dunmer didn't even wait for her reply. "Do I even look like a hero?" Saber snorted to himself to reply to his own question. "No…I'm not. Thieves are not heroes."
He pulled on a dark shirt of silk, tucking the hem in his trousers. He then pulled on a unique harness sheath that housed a curved blade, a short scimitar. Not exactly a weapon a thief would choose, but if he was a Blade, he might've been trained in the weapon to best handle the quests given to him. The harness set the scabbard on his back, bearing several short daggers across his chest, and a belt that carried various small pouches. "Thieves as a whole do not care for others," He continued his litany. "And we most certainly do not care about foreign lands and their troubles now do we? Where is the gold in that?"
Eiryn was stunned by his manner, "What in Azura's name did Caius tell you?"
He barked a derisive laugh, brushing hair out of his eyes. "Azura indeed…" He muttered, "She had this planned all along, I bet-"
"Azura?" Goddess of the Night Sky? One of the Temple's Nine Divines?
The Dark Elf's gaze sharpened, the red glare now staring back at her. Eiryn thought she also found a profound sense of fear in his gaze. "Yes Azura!" His voice rose in pitch, "Did I ask for any of this? Does Caius truly believe I'm up for this insanity?"
"What are you talking about?" Eiryn asked, fighting the urge to shake the answer out of him if need be. Perhaps he was mad, infected with soul sickness? Some of the temple priests had warned her of those who were plagued with odd dreams, and often went mad from them. Some whispered of the evil exuding from Red Mountain caused such dreams. "What is it Caius wants you to do?"
He inhaled slowly, calming immediately as if remembering where he was. Hands clenched in frustration. "Not just Caius…the Emperor… Vivec..." He sighed, sitting back on the edge of the bed to cradle his face in his hands.
"What?" Eiryn felt as though he might've just as well hit her solid in her chest. Did she just hear him correctly? Vivec was one of the Tribunal, one of the 'living gods' of Morrowind who had been mortal once, but claimed godhood through magical means. His city was one of the largest settlements in Vvardenfell, living in a palace within the opulent city, speaking through the High Fane to his followers.
Many of the faithful had turned to Vivec in the hopes of being freed of the terrible curse of ash storms from Red Mountain. An onslaught of blight diseases also plagued the land, and was said to be in the very ash storms themselves. A swell of infected creatures, the undead, and the constant threat of the Sixth House cult uprisings all over Vvardenfell further created havoc over the land. Vivec had yet to answer the prayers
"Have you ever heard of the Nerevarine Prophecies?" he asked, suddenly appearing rather exhausted with the weight of this task set upon him. Eiryn had only heard bits and pieces of what 'dissident priests' of the Tribunal compiled, and it had something to do with an ancient Dunmer hero reborn to unite all of the Morrowind.
"Something about the Incarnate reborn, isn't it?" She said with caution. The Temple didn't appreciate talk about such matters, considering the prophecies to be profane and going against the Tribunal.
The Dark Elf nodded, looking grim. "Seems they need someone to fulfill those prophecies for them." His direct stare meant that someone was to be none other than him.
Eiryn was stunned, having to sit down in the single chair in the room to let this information sink in. Somehow she suspected he probably shouldn't be telling her any of this. Such orders from the Emperor would no doubt be secretive in their nature, and as a Blade she hadn't heard even a whisper of such a quest as this before now. Would Caius want her to know about this?
Stunned, she hoped he was playing a joke but his expression was too earnest. How could they? He was a thief. Why did they pick him for such an important task? Did any of them seriously belief the prophecies to be true?
"How do they know?" She began.
"I don't think they do." He replied knowing her question. "I fulfill the 'born on a certain day to uncertain parents' part," He shook his head slowly, having to brush back his hair as it often fell over his face. "I think they simply want me to appear as the Incarnate reborn."
Eiryn stared, trying to comprehend as to how does one grasp such an overwhelming duty. There had been others claiming to be the Incarnate, all disappeared in short order. Some spoke of their being killed by assassins, others considered they simply failed to achieve many of the goals set upon them and died in that attempt one way or another. What it meant was that the Incarnate was to unite the Ashlander tribes of the Dunmer, as well as the Great Houses. That in and of itself was daunting challenge. Now they expected a thief to do what others could not?
Nonetheless, the promise of ending the horrible Blight and cursed lands of Red Mountain seemed a just cause- that is, if one was a hero, which this elf professed not to be. Why then did Caius wish him to return? Why not choose someone with more nobility and forthrightness to undergo this quest, someone of the Imperial Shrine perhaps, or of the Great Houses of Morrowind?
"I see your point." Eiryn conceded. He was trapped between the choice of returning to prison, or dying in the attempt to fulfill a prophecy in a land not of his birth. "If you're not the Incarnate reborn, then don't do it."
He made a disgusted noise, "Nice choices I have." The tone was sarcastic. "Die or go back to the Imperial Prison?"
"You just said yourself you're no hero and that you don't think you're the Neveravine." Eiryn said plainly. "You also said you'd gladly remain in prison-"
Saber seemed to hesitate then, his eyes hiding something else he hadn't shared with her. Palms rubbed nervously against his thighs as muscles worked from jaws being clenched. "Do you believe in Destiny?"
Eiryn always felt she had freedom of choice, but that never seemed the right answer, being that luck had so much to do with how one fought or how coincidences led up to important events in one life. "I never really thought about it." Eiryn admitted.
"Neither did I up until now." Saber said, now facing the ultimate meaning of the word Fate. "I've had dreams lately… odd dreams. One I thought Azura herself spoke to me." His red eyes flickered away, looking out into nothing. His expression was troubled. "And I suppose I must consider…what if?"
What if he was? But how could he be? What tribe or House would accept a foreigner, an N'wah, among them let alone Neveravine reborn? He's more than what he appears…. Caius'words echoed back to her. Did he know something more than Saber might not even know himself? And dreams…soul sickness… the possibilities made her mind reel.
"Could you be the Neveravine?" It seemed a stupid and ridiculous question, but Eiryn felt compelled to ask. If he was…
The Dunmer stared back at her with an odd mix of uncertainty and denial. "What do you think?" His tone indicated he didn't, but his doubts were obvious.
"Well why then would they have you do this quest?" She persisted. As a Blade he'd be offered training in any number of new skills to help fulfill tasks set for him to do, from fighting to magecraft if he needed such knowledge. "Even if they wanted you to only appear as the Incarnate, something about you must give them the idea that you accomplish this."
The Blades were not known to sacrifice their members. Even impossible jobs the Blade would be given all the training and skills he'd need to get done the job done, from magecraft, to spells, to whatever weapons one needed. Duties also included a plan. Blades followed orders, so there was no doubt Caius had something mapped out for the young Dunmer to follow.
The Dunmer pressed lips into a grim line, considering what she said. "I'm a thief. I'm expendable.-"
"A good thief?" She asked him.
He looked back at her, trying to understand what she was asking him. His red eyes blinked slowly in consideration. "Yes a good thief-" Saber paused, as thoughts began to rouse. "A very good thief."
"And I assume you can use that sword on your back-" She continued.
He nodded, "Fairly well…" She caught his tone of false modesty.
"And you must have already succeeded in several quests given to you?"
Another nod, this time slower. "Not to the extent of fulfilling a prophecy-"
"Caius says you're more than what you appear to be. Perhaps you're not giving yourself enough credit?"
The Dunmer gave a derisive snort, the full lips twitching almost as if holding back a smile. "I'd be the first to tell you I'm good at what I do, but saving people and fulfilling prophecies isn't one of them."
An idea came to her. Something that just occurred to why he'd come to Suran to 'hide', and avoid facing Caius. "So is this why you're in Suran, whoring yourself through a House of ill repute?" Eiryn asked, finding his manner to which to prove to all he couldn't possibly be 'the one' rather amusing. "Trying to show everyone that you're nothing but a petty thief and a rogue?"
The corners of his mouth pulled into a lopsided grin. "A rogue? Perhaps. But there's nothing petty about me." He said, with amusement on his tone. "Just ask Myra, or any of the ladies here."
It forced a laugh out of Eiryn, releasing the tension in the room. "Either case, certainly not someone worthy of fulfilling a prophecy?"
"That's exactly my thinking." He replied, a smirk playing on his mouth. "I mean, how could the one meant to save all of Morrowind be drinking and womanizing his way through Suran? So I can't possibly be the one now can I?"
"Being that I have no experience with Prophecies, I cannot answer that." She snickered, "I'd never assume what an Incarnate is or what is expected of them. I suppose that is for you to say."
He snorted softly, looking away. "Then I say the Incarnate has nothing more to do with Morrowind, and retires in the lap of luxury."
Eiryn found herself truly feeling sorry for the situation the poor man was placed in. And here she had hoped for a challenge! What he must be facing now! She sighed softly, slapping palms over her thighs to stand up. "I will be certain to share that with Caius then, and give him your message."
"What would you do?" Saber asked her suddenly.
Caught off guard by his query, she paused mid-step. "Me?" Thoughts flittered over the challenges, and Eiryn considered if she'd be up for the test, or if anyone could. Dangerous, most likely suicidal, yet just think of the gains! Morrowind free of Blight and the cursed ash storms! The end of the Sixth House! "If it were me, I'd probably try to find a way to do what I could."
She caught his slight wince at her answer, and the tightening of his mouth. Most likely he'd hoped she would refuse to take on the mantle of Incarnate, thereby justifying his refusing to do so as well. Her thoughts drifted to where she could sleep that night, being she'd rather not sleep on the ground, or in a brothel. The hour had grown late, and traveling the roads at night was asking for trouble.
"What did you say your name was?" Saber asked her.
Snapping out of her considerations, she gave him a smile. "Eiryn Acques, Apprentice to the Blades, and Ranger Scout in the Woodland Guild."
"A scout?" He seemed more impressed with that title than the one of the Blades, and well he should. She seemed to be moving right along the ranks in the Woodland Guild of Balmora, yet agonizingly slow in the Blades. "And Caius sends you as a messenger?"
She shrugged, knowing well enough how it looked. "Its not unusual that scouts run as messenger or even delivery for Guilds in our travels. I must admit, I had hoped for something more of a challenge this time. That's why I joined the Blades in the first place."
"Challenge?" Saber echoed, uncertain to what she meant.
Now blushing, she hoped he didn't take it the wrong way. "To give you a message. Hardly a challenge was it?"
His grin widened and the area around his eyes creased in amusement. "Did you want to fight off vicious cliff racers and Blight infected Nix Hounds instead?"
"Preferably to finding a naked man in a brothel? Oh most certainly yes!" She laughed. "I know how to handle Nix Hounds."
"And you couldn't handle an unarmed naked man?" He teased, holding back a laugh. "It would seem you were challenged after all. You handled yourself just fine."
Eiryn felt her face grow hot once again at his remark. It was true. Perhaps not all challenges had to be dealt with a sword.
He stood up; being sure his sword sheath was snug along his chest. "Perhaps, Eiryn Acques, Apprentice to the Blades, and Ranger Scout in the Woodland Guild, you would allow me to buy you drink?"
She eyed the good-looking Dark Elf with an appraising eye, wondering where his intentions lay. Was he flirting with her? "On one condition." She told him as an idea came to her.
His elegant brows rose up in surprise. "And what is that?"
"You promise me that you'll at least consider going back to Balmora."
Taken aback, he couldn't hide his surprise. "Why should I?"
She replied with a hearty smile, "Because I sense that you might very well be up for any task set upon you if you set your mind to- Neveravine or not."
Saber stood back to appraise her, to consider her thoughts on the matter. "Perhaps I shall return to Balmora, if the dear lady allows me to assist in her training?"
Eiryn stiffened, curious to what training he meant. Many of the Blades were trainers in skills they excelled at. He offered his arm as a gentleman would. "To handle unarmed naked men in brothels of course."
Perhaps she'd stay the night after all.