She groaned, rubbing the back of her head and pushing up as she looked around.
She was in a cell. How by the powers had she wound up here? She couldn't recall ever committing a crime in her life- the Nine did not look kindly on those that did such things. She sat up, then stood, glancing down- her spare sword and armor was gone. She'd been forced to wear leather armor and take her iron shortsword- her steel blade Goldenfang and her armor had been in need of repair.
She walked towards the cell door intending to find out what she had been charged with when she heard a Dunmer say, "Well, well, well. What have we here? An Imperial in the Imperial Prison. It seems they don't play favorites. I wouldn't get used to that cell Imperial, if I were you- you're going to die in here!"
She glared and hissed, snapping her fangs at him, laughing when he gasped and jumped back. "Best be careful what you say to me. I'm liable to eat you, little elf."
"You…you don't scare me! Wait…do you hear it? The guards are coming for you!"
She wished she could shift and squish him- but she pushed the thought aside. That was not what her father had taught her and she shouldn't wish such dark thoughts on him…even if he did deserve it. She sighed, letting go of the cell door and turning. She had to find a way out of here. She had to get back home- only there could she be safe among her kin and clan.
Behind her someone shouted, "What's this prisoner doing here? This cell is supposed to be off limits."
"Usual mix up with the watch…I."
"Never mind. Get that gate open. You there- prisoner. Stand out of our way. Over there, by the window."
Glancing behind her, she could see three armored soldiers and a man in very fine robes. She nodded and moved out of their way- this might be her chance of escape. If she played her cards right she could hurry to her home and remain with kin and clan.
She stood as one of the men- a Breton- entered and frowned at her. "Stay put prisoner."
"No sign of pursuit."
"Good. Let's keep going. We're not out of the woods yet."
She kept her head down, peeking up through her long black hair. The man in the finery glanced at her and said, "You…I have seen you."
She was startled- she could say with certainty she had never seen him before. She didn't know who he was, for Akatosh's sake! He came over and gently gripped her chin. "Let me see your face."
Bad idea, but seeing the three armed men and woman she let him lift her face up and pushed her hair back. "You are the one from my dreams," he whispered. "Then the stars were right. Gods give me strength."
"What is going on?"
"Assassins have attacked my three sons and now they come for me. My blades are leading me to safety. By chance, that route leads through this cell."
"Who are you?"
He smiled slightly and said, "I am your Emperor, Uriel Septim. By the grace of the Divines I rule Tamriel as her Emperor and as a citizen, you too shall serve her in your own way."
"Why am I in jail?"
"Perhaps it was the gods that placed you here. As for what you may have done- it does not matter. That is not what you will be remembered for."
"What should I do?"
"You will find the path the Nine have for you. But take care- there will be blood and death before the end."
"I go my own way."
"As do we all. But who can avoid their path when their end is fixed by the almighty gods?"
He seemed on the verge of saying more when suddenly the woman said, "Please, Sire, we must keep moving."
He turned and nodded to her. She watched as the woman pushed a stone and soon a passageway opened up. She raised a brow- oh yes, she was going home once she got out of here.
They left the passage open. She went back to the gate and peeked out for the guards- seeing one was around she snuck into the passage. She thought about shifting and flying away but that would attract too much attention and she wished to avoid that. The dragons could not be caged and so she would not allow that to happen- even her own capture had to be avoided, especially since dragon's dawn drew ever closer. She really didn't want anyone to hand her over to the Mage's Guildmaster for experimentation and study.
She saw the three men go through a door- their captain was dead, somehow, the door locked behind them. She sighed and turned, hissing at the sound of rats and crouching down slightly as her fingers changed into long claws. They jumped at her smelling blood and fresh meat. She killed them and then kneeling by the dead captain she whispered, "May Akatosh forgive me for this but I must acquire a weapon."
She searched the captain and found a longsword- she took it, and the steel shortsword as well. She searched the dead assassins and found a few potions, tucking them into a pack as she slipped into the side passages. She searched the chests around- she'd learned how to pick locks, and the skill certainly had its uses. She found some iron armor and slid the greaves on and then the cuirass. She pulled the rough leather boots she'd found on, tucking a dagger into each one and fastening the shield she'd found by a skeleton on her arm.
Her pack was now heavier, with gold, potions, and a few gems that had been stored away here. She went along the path killing anything that got in her way- goblins, mostly, and rats- but also a zombie, and she had to keep an eye out for traps as well. She found a helmet by another skeleton and took it, sliding it over her head with her long black hair like a curtain of night down her back. Racing along the path, she made sure to check all the chests for anything she might be able to use- and at last she came to an opening in the walls.
She knelt down in the darkness. Her eyes, while green, were slits, allowing her to see very well in the dark. She shifted, ready to shed the cuirass and spread her wings if she should have need of a quick escape before she heard the Breton say, "We need to find an easily defendable position and wait for more help to arrive."
"Help? What makes you think help will come before more of those assassins will? We need to get out of here!"
"Here they come!"
She started forward before kneeling back, watching them fight off the two assassins easily. The emperor, she noticed, had a sword and he fought as well. She hid- if she waited she might be able to sneak out and fly back towards Kvatch, where she'd hidden the last phial. There was something else in the Imperial City that her father had asked her to do- she had done it easily. She heard the Breton again. "I think that was all of them but let me take a look around first."
If she moved into the room she would still be hidden. She climbed down carefully, taking longer to avoid making noise in the heavy iron armor she wore. She heard the emperor ask, "Have you seen that woman?"
"The prisoner? Do you think she followed us? How could she? I locked the door."
That was the Redguard. She shifted along to see all three of them and blinked as her eyes returned to normal.
"I know she followed us."
"Sire, we should keep moving. If we stay here they could attack again."
"Let me rest a moment longer."
"As you wish."
She saw him sit and look around, and sighed. It seemed he was expecting her.
Well, she hated to disappoint. She stood up and jumped down. The Breton drew his sword and said, "Dammit it's that prisoner, kill her! She's probably one of them!"
"No! She is not one of them, she can help us. She must."
"As you wish, Sire."
She saw the Breton sheath his sword as the Emperor rose and came over to her, saying, "They cannot understand why I trust you. How can I explain to them and you what I have seen…you know the Nine? How they guide our fates with an invisible hand?"
"Yes. The Nine guide and protect us."
"I have served them all my days and I chart my course by the cycles in the heavens. The skies are marked with numberless sparks- each one a fire and a sign. I know them well and I wonder…what stars marked your birth?"
"It was the Warrior."
"The signs I have read show the end of my path. My death, a necessary end will come when it will come."
"What about me?"
"Your stars are not mine, but today the Warrior shall prove a stalwart companion when fortunes fade."
"Can you see what my fate holds?"
"My dreams have granted me no opinions of success. Their compass has not ventured beyond the doors of death. But in your face, I behold the sun's companion. The dawn of Akatosh's bright glory may banish the coming darkness. With such hope, and with the promise of your aid, my heart must be content."
"You are not afraid to die."
He smiled at her and studied her for a moment. Finally he whispered, "No trophies of my triumphs will precede me. But I have lived well and my ghost shall rest easy. Men are but flesh and blood. They know their doom but not the fated hour. In this I am blessed to see the hour of my death…to face my apportioned fate, then fall."
"Where do we going?"
"I go to my grave. A tongue shriller than all the music calls me. You shall follow me yet for a while, then we must part. Just as our ancestors did so long ago."
She gasped softly as he touched her chin, a mysterious gleam in his eyes as he whispered, "I know who you are, golden dragon. It seems fate has brought our two lines to stand side by side once more. What is your name?"
"Ah…his chosen. How appropriate for you that name shall become."
She nodded slightly. He smiled and said, "Come with us. Your fate is bound up with mine and the fate of Tamriel herself, now."
"Yes, I will go with you."
He smiled and turned away as she wondered how he knew just who she was, exactly. She suddenly glanced down at her neck to find her medallion hanging visible. She touched it- he was talking to the Breton but he glanced at her. She understood why she had followed Tiber Septim and now she followed a Septim on his path. She heard the Redguard say, "Here you might was well make yourself useful. Carry this torch and stick close. The Emperor may trust you, but we don't."
She sighed, taking the torch and staying as close to the Emperor as they would allow her, wanting to shout at them that they were better off trusting her like their Emperor did.
She blinked, letting her eyes change back to slits- she preferred the enhanced vision. She sniffed and her hand came to the sword around her waist. She loosened it, ready to draw it- she could smell the enemy. They had a very strange scent; easily identifiable. She tightened her grip and shifted her weight to her toes, all her training from her father asserting itself. She glanced around and suddenly jabbed the torch into the face of an assassin that had been just out of view in the shadows. She drew her sword as he screamed from the fire and burns on his face and swung, cutting him down.
She darted over to the Emperor's side and held ready to defend him. One assassin got around the Redguard and Breton and she blocked the attack from his mace, catching a weak place between his neck and shoulder. Blood dripped from the sword, the metallic scent hanging heavy in the air and masking the scents she had been tracking.
She sheathed the borrowed sword and continued to follow as they came to a huge room. She the air lightly and went on full alert- the torch had been forgotten but it was for the best. Shadows could be her friend right now if she shifted. She could shift enough she still resembled human if she was hidden in the shadows around them. They joined the Breton in the center then went to the gate- but it had been barred from the other side.
They had walked into a trap.
She drew her sword as did the two Blades and they went to a separate room after the first assassin attack. They should've have gone back and left a different way. Assassins came from the other room, but at least this room only had the one entrance.
She stood ready for an attack before she felt the Emperor behind her grasp her hand. Placing something in it, he said, "I cannot go any further with you. You alone must stand against the prince of destruction and his mortal servants. Take this to Jauffre. He alone knows where to find my last son. Find him, and close shut the jaws of Oblivion."
She didn't have time to look- as his grip on her tightened and he coughed she saw red blood on her armor and she knew it wasn't hers…she turned as his grip slackened and he fell to the ground a man in armor stood and said, "Stranger you picked a bad day to stand against the Dawn."
She gritted her teeth as they grew into fangs, dropping the sword and jumping the man. Her claws ripped his back and she sank her fangs into his neck, crushing and tearing and tasting his blood. It poured from his destroyed neck and mouth but she had done it so he would live and suffer until he bled to death. She dropped him and spit the skin she had torn out. She knew the blood on her armor came from the Emperor and looked down at what she held… and gasped softly. It was the Amulet of Kings.
All dragons knew of this and knew it was very sacred. Only the Emperor could handle it…and he had given it to her. It was just as her father had described it, as it had been told to him by his father and his father before him. She was in awe- she'd grown up hearing the tales of the amulet, Alessia the slave queen and Akatosh, of Tiber Septim taking it from the tomb of the Reman emperors and proclaiming himself emperor. She heard someone say, "No…Talos save us."
She turned as the Redguard stood and said, "We've failed…I've failed. The Blades are sworn to protect the Emperor and his sons and now they all lie dead…the Amulet of Kings is gone?! Where is it, it was not on his body?"
"He…gave it to me"
"Strange…he saw something in you trusted you. They say those of the Septim bloodline see and know more than lesser men. The Amulet holds power. Most people think the Red Dragon Crown but that's just a piece of jewelry, it's the Amulet that has the real power. What did he say?"
"I'm to take it to Jauffre."
"Jauffre? He said that? Why?"
"There is another heir."
"Nothing I know…but Jauffre would be the one to know, he is the grandmaster of our order. He lives as a monk in Weynon Priory."
"I'm…not sure where that is located."
"Its just southeast of Chorrol. But first you must get out of here. You'll need to go through the sewers- that's where we heading. That passage way must lead around the barred gate. Here, take my key. It will get you past the locked door. This was supposed to be a secret way out of the Imperial City."
"What's in the sewers?"
"Mostly rats and goblins, but from what I've seen I'm guessing you're an experienced Knight."
"Well, I've served as a Knight, briefly."
"I thought so. Anyway, rats and goblins won't bother you."
"After the sewers, what next?"
"You must get the amulet to Jauffre at Weynon Priory. Take no chances but proceed directly there. Got it?"
"…No. Please explain more"
"Its alright, I know it's a lot to take in. No one is more surprised than I am for sending an escaped prisoner off with the Amulet of Kings. But the Emperor trusted you…and I trust the Emperor. It must reach Jauffre at Weynon Priory; Jauffre will know what to do with it. He will know how to find this heir the Emperor spoke of. He must be found so a new Emperor can be crowned."
She nodded and asked, "What of you? What will you do?"
"I'll stay here and guard the Emperor's body. Also, I'll make sure no one else follows you. You'd better get moving quickly. May Talos guide you. Oh, by the way…thank you for recovering Captain Renault's sword. I'll see that it is given a proper place of honor in the halls of the Blades."
She handed the blade she had been using over and tied the short sword around her waist, carefully wrapping the Amulet of Kings and putting it into her pack. She climbed up through the narrow passageway and saw it did lead around the blocked gate. She sighed and found the door, pausing when she heard voices. She turned and gasped- then sighed, putting a hand over her heart.
Her brother grinned. "Hi sis. Lets just say I had a vision and it said you and the Emperor needed help."
"Too late…he's dead."
"Dead? Damn this isn't good- if those dragonfires go dark… we all know what this means."
"Yes the gates of Oblivion could be opened- the covenant between Akatosh and Alessia isn't able to be upheld until a new heir is crowned of the bloodline."
"Yes…oh by the way, the way out is cleared. I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you sooner."
"Its alright. Let's get going."
"Sure thing, sis."
She climbed down the ladder and watched as he pulled the cover back over them. They heard the door open she held her breath, as did Liann they listened to the Redguard and another speaking. At last the door closed. She finished climbing down the ladder rungs, and he turned to her. "So what's the plan?"
"First, we get out of the sewers and then I go to a monastery called Weynon Priory. I have business there."
"You sure you don't want some help?"
She glared at him he shrugged. "Okay, fine. I'll head home and tell father you'll be returning as soon as your business is concluded."
She nodded and began to lead the way through the sewers, her brother at her side. Her thoughts strayed to what the Emperor had told her about another heir and a prince of destruction. She was a bit confused and hoped this Jauffre could explain a few things to her, because she had a bad feeling things were worse than they knew.