Chapter 13: The Long Version
It's really not his fault. I shouldn't be angry. I should be focused on my task. But there's a play being acted out in my head.
The way we met was not incredible by my standards. It was hard to imagine how my life would change that night. I was sitting in the Inn of Ill Omen Inn, about half way between Bravil and the Imperial City. By sheer dumb luck I had happened upon that little inn. It had been pouring down rain for a good hour when I ran right into it. It was smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Man behind the counter was surprised to see me but delighted.
"Will you be staying with us the whole night then?" I looked around. 'Us'? Just him and an Imperial woman.
"That will be 10 gold. But for 25 I'll include all you can drink and eat."
I dug for the gold in the pocket of my leather grieves. "How's business lately?"
"Dreadful. And you?"
"Dull. But hey, throw your best wine at me and I'll recommend you to everyone I pass on my way Bravil."
That brightened his night, "Of course, kind sir. I wouldn't give you anything less!" I grinned, putting the money on the counter. And pulling off my leather helm, revealing my flowing blonde hair.
"I'm a lady."
He paled, "Oh! My- my apologies, ma'am-"
"I know, it's the gear and the hoarse throat." It was true, decked completely in leather armor and in this dim light, I looked like a man. Heading upstairs to my room, I changed, and combed my hair. The clean white shirt and brown breeches were comfortable and a god sent after the walk from Imperial. Returning downstairs there was roasted Venison and Surilie Brothers Wine, sitting in wait. Now I was sitting on the bench of the table furthest from the door, facing the back of an Imperial Legion scout of some sort. The woman had gone to bed. The rain and wind outside were still pretty bad. I could hear it pounding against the building. Lightning flashed and suddenly the door burst open. It was someone clad in fur armor, looking soaked through and half dead. They were bleeding all over the inn floor. I saw him first and rushed over as he fell to the floor. Kneeling beside the armored stranger, I pulled off their helmet revealing his fair skin and matted brown hair: a Nord. He went for his sword, but I caught his hand. That caused him to look at me.
"Who are you?" his voice was raspy, and strained.
"I could ask you the same thing."
"Henre." He coughed, spurting a little blood.
"Well, Henre. I'm Tsamusa." I helped him up and over to the bench nearest the door. "Your wounds are severe. This is going to hurt even worse." I set him down and he groaned. I ran to my room quickly and came back with a jar of herbs.
"How could it possibly get worse?"
I shook my head, and sighed, "You're not going to like this. Are you ready?"
"For wha- AHHHH!" My magic flowed through into the herbs I spread most life threatening wound. The one in his chest. Whatever had caused it had torn open his armor and left the wound revealed. Henre gripped my arm tightly, and I grimaced. He was breathing heavily now, gritting his teeth.
"Easy now. If I don't do this you'll die. Worse before better." I cooed, even as he bruised my arm. I was sure the hand he gripped me with was broken, or he'd have snapped my forearm in two. Sweat rolled down my forehead and I wiped it away with my free arm's sleeve. "You still with me, Henre?" I asked, keeping my voice quiet. I was vaguely aware of the panicking Inn keeper and the Imperial Scout trying to calm him.
"Yes!" He gasped. The wound wasn't resisting, thank the Nine. The herbs took longer than they normally did. He must have been poisoned. I cursed under my breath. It's getting hard for me to see. The edge of my vision is blurring as I spend more magika than I have.
"Only a little longer. Tell me what happened. It'll keep your mind off the pain." and it would keep mine off the lose of energy.
"Umm… I was- AH- I was raiding this cave-ERG!" I was healing a thoroughly sensitive spot near a nerve. I'm sure he just felt like I had stabbed him.
"Sorry, sorry. Shoosh…. Go on. Cave. What did this to you in there?"
"Over two dozen undead. Big BIG Lich. It was stupid to tackle it alone. Got a lot of goodies though." His breathing began to even out, though it was still labored.
"The worst of it is over."
He looked up in my face, a softness in his eyes, "Thank you."
I gave him a reassuring smile, then put two fingers to his temple, "Sleep." His eyelids fluttered as he fell into a peaceful slumber, his grip on my arm finally faltering. I looked over to the two men still in a heated discussion over what to do, "Hey!" They both turned simultaneously, looking surprised. "A little help over here? He's heavy." They scrambled to help me lift him and carry him up the stairs to the third room.
I was up well into the night, sitting by his side. Healing him as much as I could. I cursed myself for not being a better healer. Finally I trudged back to my room exhausted, drained and cold. Limits were not my strong point and I was always pushing them. The next morning I got up and put a new shirt and breeches before heading downstairs. I could feel my already shallow pool of magic was empty. The bruise on my arm would have to wait. My patient from the night before sat at the table, stuffing his face. He turned to look and when he saw me he scrambled to stand. In the process he knocked over a bowl of strawberries. He scrambled to pick them up. Then stood again. It was quite comical really. "Easy there, big guy. No need to stand when I enter. I'm no noble lady." He sat back down looking a little ashamed. I sat next to him, "Any aches or pains this morning."
"No- no. I'm fine fit as could be." He did a motion with his arm to demonstrate. Then he was very serious, "How's your arm?"
"Just a little sore. Once my magicka is replenished I'll heal it quick."
"It's alright, Henre."
I started, "You know my name?"
"You told me. I'm Tsamusa
"Yeah. It means spinner of light, you know, magic!" I waved my arm in an exaggerated motion, "Not that I'm any good with that sort of thing-"
"By the Goddess!" He caught view of the purple and brown bruise. "Are you sure that's alright?"
"Oh… Yeah, it's fine. I've had worse." He didn't seem to believe me but that was fine. I did have worse. "I'm going to go get my gear. I should head out soon." I stood and the world spun under me, "Shit."
He stood and steadied me. "You are going to rest some more." I glared at him. Who was he to tell me what to do, "I'll help you to your room."
"I can take care of myself."
He glared back, then sighed. He seemed to conclude there was no reasoning with me "I'm not saying you can't, but I feel like I owe you for saving my life. I'd have bled to death if not for you healing me. So please, allow me."
But me? I was tired of men trying to look out for me, "No." Suddenly he grabbed me and threw me over his shoulder. "Put me down!"
"Just a minute." Up the stairs to my room we went. Opening the door he dropped me on my bed. The room key sat on the lone dresser and he grabbed it. Slamming the door behind him. "Sleep well, Tsamusa!"
"You son of a bitch! Come open this door!" I pounded on it but found I didn't have the strength to continue doing so.
"See you in a few hours!" I heard him yell. I sighed and turned to the bed. I had lock picks so it wasn't like I was really locked in. But I WAS tired. I pounded the door once more for good measure and laid down. And the more I thought about it, the more I knew I had been acting foolish. I fell asleep with every intention of never seeing that man again.
And that's how I got my stalker. Though I had to say he was terrible at it. The next morning I woke up fully restored, and headed out before the Nord woke up. That, of course, didn't stop him from following me. Finally it had gotten to be just ridiculous enough that I stopped and turned, "I know you're there! Would you like to walk with me?" His head poked out from behind the rock he was using as cover.
"How'd you know I was there?"
"I'm smarter than the average Elf." I said with a roll of my eyes. "Would you mind telling me why?"
He stood straight and walked to the road to join me, he shrugged, "You saved my life."
"And that means you'll obsessively stalk me?"
"No. I just think you're a little reckless and that maybe if I shadow you, you'll live to be… How old are you now?"
"One hundred and eleventy!" I said with a twirl and a giggle.
"Okay, two. So you'll live to be three."
I grinned, So he does have a sense of humor. "I'm sixteen almost seventeen in two weeks it's my birthday."
"I wasn't far off." He said, grinning back.
"Fine. I'll let you follow me until I get back to the Imperial City, then you'll have paid your debt or whatever."
"Thank you, Tsamusa."
So we had a verbal contract of sorts. I spent my sweet time investigating the Vampires. Turned out they had cleared out an undead lair called Smoke Hole Cave.
Henre didn't just die. That was my only lie to anyone and myself. No, he'd become a vampire. We lived for four months in that cave. At first he was starving himself. Then I made an offer no hungry vampire could refuse. My blood became his sustenance. At first I was torn but after a while I didn't mind. It was Henre. And it was my fault. I couldn't let him die... But the disease weighed heavily on Henre. He pleaded with me to end his life. It takes a lot of will to kill yourself and Henre didn't have it.. The pain in his eyes made it clear. He was dying as a person. Human blood does things to the mind. It was tearing him apart. I cried with the silver dagger in my hand as I stabbed him through the heart. He died in my arms, right after he said he loved me and that he hoped I'd find happiness in life. I felt so helpless and weak and tired. So tired. I didn't leave that cave for a week. My insides had become numb with lose and uncertainty. I didn't know what to do without Henre. He'd started out a bit shy, and uncertain but as I'd gotten to know him, I'd found out how fun and sardonic he'd become. I wanted to waste away, because that's what I deserved. This was my fault. All my fault. But eventually I got hungry and Henre started to smell. I buried him just inside the entrance. I made my way to the Imperial City. It had been a whole year since I'd been home. It didn't feel right. Me and Armand started talking again, I was back at my post as the youngest Grey Fox ever, but I didn't continue what we'd had. I'd pursued him during my entire time I was advancing. But now it seemed hollow.
There are to many men in my life. Plain and simple. Armand's love, as dear a friend as he has been, has become more baggage than I can carry. He doesn't have to leave, he doesn't deserve that. I'll go. It is all my fault so I'll bear the blame as I rightfully should.
A/N: A little break in the point of view. All the stuff Tsamusa is thinking as she storms out of the Guild. Originally was a separate story but that one started to look like the back story I had for Tsamusa so I went 'forget that' and added it here. It's an important story to this story, I assure you. It comes up again later.