Shadowstep: Dead and Hating It

Being a series of excerpts from the Diary of Booch Mishtar (aka Shadowstep), the famed Dunmeri adventurer who helped battle the Daedric invasion at the end of the Third Era, and who made a fortune selling Daedric armour to a shifty-looking bloke in the Wawnet Inn.


Part the First,

Of Woe and Ill Omens

1st Hearthfire,

This Imperial province is bloody dangerous. Just walked to the city from the sewers outside the city. Killed two crazy lunatic bandits, five wolves and eight mudcrabs. Now I'm off to the fighting arena.

2nd Hearthfire,

Have ascended to nearly the highest rank of the Imperial Arena! The Imperials are all idiots. Off to the other side of the province to do a favour for Agnorak Gro-Malog, the Grand Champion.

3rd Hearthfire,

Bloody hell. The place was a vampire den. Killed Agnorak's crazy, short, Orc-fetishist, shirtless vampire father. Shame. I bet he had some stories to tell.

5th Hearthfire,

Just had a very strange day. Suffice to say, I am now Arena Grand Champion! Strangely the Imperial woman running the place said I had to pick an 'arena name' before I could go in against the Gray Prince. I politely asked to be called, 'An anonymous Dunmer who just really needed some money and had no particular skill but unlike all the other combatants he had a lot of health potions.' Was refused.

After long consideration I asked for 'The Elf and Safety Hazard' but I was refused again and told it was a silly name. Then tried 'Elf Inspector.' She started yelling at me. After five more elf jokes I got the impression she didn't want any wordplay involved. Philistine. Finally she put a sword to my throat and told me my arena name was 'Shadowstep'. Dear Gods, I hope that doesn't catch on. Please, if you're reading this, don't ever call me Shadowstep. My name is Mishtar, all right?

Agnorak, when I reached him, was still very sad about the whole business with his father being a vampire. So he just sat there waiting for death and pleading with me to kill him. I stabbed him in the face. The audience, who I can only assume were drunk, roared with approval.

When I returned to the Bloodworks the Imperial, shaking with excitement, told me that my extraordinary feat of assisted suicide made me 'the best fighter the arena had ever seen'. The awful thing is that she was probably right. So I took the money and left.

Then I had a backrub.

6th Hearthfire,

Slept in a cheap inn, hoping to avoid further generic congratulations. I'm already sick of 'You're the grand champion of the Arena!'

When I awoke I found even stranger attention than I received last night. A human male in a black cloak and hood stood over me and smiled. I was intimidated until he started talking. The voice was so deliberately deep I couldn't keep a straight face.

'You sleep rather soundly for a murderer,' he growled, trying to sound cool. 'That's gooooood…' When I was done laughing I informed him that I was not a murderer, but he was having none of it. He talked for what seemed like hours while I pretended to listen, and then told me to kill a man named Rufio.

I told him again that I hadn't ever murdered anyone, and he informed me that my killing the Gray Prince had been witnessed by forces unknown.

'That was an Arena match,' I told him. 'Everyone in the city was watching. Apart from the forces unknown, apparently.'

'Oh…' he said, and his deep voice was not there. I knew he was putting it on. His real voice is actually pretty squeaky and lisped. I started laughing again and he told me I was about to invoke the wrath of Sithis, and that I should shut up.

Then he talked some more and stuffed a dagger into my pack.

I leaped out of the bed dressed only in the huge rag I wrap around myself as underwear. (I leave that enormous fold at the front to impress the ladies). Asked him what he was doing.

'Accept this token from the Dark Brotherhood. It is a virgin blade that thirsts for blooood…'

I told him the 'blade' was made of wood. The voice tripped again. 'It… uh… is the finest eboneeeeey…'

I told him that ebony is, in fact, a kind of wood. Showed him my metal sword. Not impressed. He left using an 'invisibility' spell which didn't really work. I could see his outline. I hadn't the heart to tell him.

Well that was pretty strange. Now for breakfast. Will throw the 'Blade of Woe' on the fire or something.

20th Hearthfire,

This bloody dagger is stuck in my inventory and I can't get rid of it. Every time I reach for my sword I grab this stupid ebony thing instead. I can't drop it. I have splinters in my hand. Going to kill that guy with the black cloak.

21st Hearthfire,

Killed Rufio. Maybe now I can get rid of this damn thing.

21st Hearthfire, additional

I just realised that everyone in the inn where I found him saw my face. I even asked the innkeeper where I could find him. Must be more stealthy in future. Now I must flee.

21st Hearthfire, additional additional

The guards don't seem to be on to me at all. One accosted me outside the inn, but just to let me know that he saw my fight against the Gray Prince. I gave him an autograph.

These Imperials are bloody idiots.