Disclaimer: I obviously don't own Oblivion. Bethesda Game Studios does, and as one of their loyal followers and forum members, I would never dare claim ownership of any of their works.

Noblesse Oblige

Act One

Chapter Ten

Lucius was now left with half the day remaining, and nowhere to go. His normal duties had been suspended, leaving him only with his investigation, and that had already been tucked away for later with his loved ones in danger. He thought briefly of visiting Orson, but decided that would not be for the best. He knew his friend well, and it wouldn't take a mind reader to see what would be plainly expressed on his face, if Lucius was correct. Orson would not want his pity, or his empathy. He would want to be left alone to deal with his ailing soul, which was slowly cracking at the thought of losing his sole reason for continuing. Should it shatter, as Lucius suspected it might, he would still wish to be left alone to grieve. Although, on reflection, the the Imperial wasn't entirely certain what form that would take.

Orson was a joker, usually flitting between seriousness and light-heartedness as the situation warranted. He knew when it was inappropriate to talk, but he was also aware that being serious all the time only resulted in being seen as a downer, as Lucius was painfully aware. There was no chance Orson would be able to treat this as a joke or a trick, however, no matter how deep in grief he might be. He wouldn't try to fool himself as such. Neither could Lucius see him accepting it either. The Breton's most likely course of action would be to throw himself into his work, but he couldn't even do that with things as they were, and attempted to seek out the Brotherhood in this situation would only result in frustration.

Orson was a good man, but if Lucius were to be truthful with himself, he didn't have much faith in Orson's ability under pressure. One way or another, whether Monica survived or not, he was going to break. It was only a matter of time. Lucius could see it in Orson's eyes when Monica had first been injured. The fall had started sometime before that, he thought in retrospect. Perhaps there had been some issue in their marriage, some argument. Something that Orson regretted. There had been signs of the strain there, if one had cared to look closer. Lucius had not.

He would not be able to maintain his facade of calm without his Monica, but he could not see her maintaining the relationship they had even if she managed to pull through. Not to even mention the fact that she would most likely never mentally recover from such an event in any case. Lucius had met many people that had survived attempts on their lives before. They were shellshocked at first, unable to respond to anything around them as they processed what had occurred to them. After that, they closed themselves off, put up walls to block out people. They lost their trust in others, and perhaps even their faith in themselves and their own judgement. They needed space to think, to come to a conclusion about what to do with their lives in the aftermath. Orson would not give her this space however. His caring demeanor, which Lucius had noted so often to be bordering on obsession, would be a hindrance here, not a help.

Orson most likely knew of all the signs just as Lucius did, but he would either not notice them in his wife or would ignore them. He would not be able to cut himself off. He was to deeply invested in the matter.

Lucius decided to stop thinking of the matter then and there as he nearly ran into a burly looking man. It was then that he realized he had managed to walk all the way to the docks on the waterfront. He was slightly shocked at himself. In his musings, he had completely lost track of his surroundings. It didn't take him that long to find his bearings, and he quickly turned himself around, only to find several men blocking his path. Lucius had seen them before. They were Ralinda's men.

Lucius's eyes narrowed, and he jerked his sword out of its scabbard as he heard footsteps behind him. He spun around and found the burly man he had run into earlier standing a few feet behind him with a few friends. Lucius also recognized them as part of Ralinda's crew. Wonderful. I've managed to trap myself. I can already hear the lectures Orson is going to give me for this.

There were eight men in total, and none were wearing and decent armor. They had some very basic weaponry, mostly blunt clubs, with two men holding old looking sabers. Lucius would have been able to cut through them with ease were it a duel and he could take them one on one. But this was not the case, and these men would not play fair. When they attacked, they would hit him all at once. Immediately, his mind began working on a way to escape the situation.

"Why," Lucius began calmly, "do you men harry me like this? I am a Legionnaire if you've forgotten. I can make life very difficult for all of you, even in death. Surely you don't want the trouble that striking down a man of my rank will bring?"

"Trust me mate, we don't," the burly man from before snarled out.

"But it's a matter of honor! You caused our captain's death, so now we cause yours," another yelled.

Lucius sighed dejectedly, realizing he wouldn't be able to talk his way out now. "Why would you scumbags pick this moment to suddenly have morals?" he muttered under his breath.

He raised his sword and waited for the first blow to come. He was slightly surprised, but not disappointed, when the showdown was interrupted by an arrow slamming into the neck on one of the thugs behind him. He fell to the ground screaming in pain, and Lucius smirked, finding his chance and the other ruffians stared at their fallen friend, momentarily shocked.

Lucius charged the three men in front of him and slammed the hilt of his sword into the burly man's face. There was the sound of something breaking as he fell backwards, blood flying from his now shattered nose. As the other two shifted to turn and strike, Lucius flowed straight into the next striking position, his sword twisting to the left and flicking upwards, directly into the man on the right's side. The other man chocked back a cry and Lucius force the sword to move upwards and the thug slid down it, leaving a trail of blood on Lucius' sword. The third man finally brought his weapon to bear and struck out at Lucius, but he jumped to the right, narrowly avoiding losing an arm to the man's iron sword. His free hand shot forward, grabbing his counterpart's wrist and forcing it upwards, breaking it. As he screamed out in pain, Lucius slammed the hilt of his sword into the side of his head, knocking him into unconsciousness.

He turned to watch the remaining three men, who were looking on in something akin to awe and an immobilizing fear. None of the men he had just fought were dead, but the one he had cut might possibly bleed out. He didn't want to kill them, but he had no problem with it if that was where their stupidity led them.

The three pirates regained their composure faster than Lucius would have though, but it didn't last long before it was shattered by another arrow lodging itself in the leg of the other man with a sword. He screamed in pain and toppled over, grasping at the wound. The other two looked on, mortified, now realizing they had no chance at victory with an unknown person sniping at them. They grabbed their wounded friend, hauling him up by the arms, and took off as fast as their feet would carry them. Lucius decided to let them go, already tiring of the combat.

The sound of someone falling made him turn as he wiped the blood on his sword off on one of the wounded men. He sheathed his sword as a tall Dunmer with an Elven bow approached him, smiling widely. "Thank you very much muthsera. I had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to dispose of those fools for some time now. They will trouble these docks no more now. Ah, but excuse me horrible manners! Salen Andalas, at your service."

"Who do you work for?" Lucius asked, frowning. People didn't just waltz into the harbor and start killing pirates. Aside from himself, apparently.

"Hmm?" the Dunmer wondered, staring distractedly at the still alive cutthroats. "Oh, oh right. Fighter's Guild. I'm Fighter's Guild. We were contacted to dispose of the men with as little bloodshed as possible, as the Legionnaires apparently would not send aid to this remote and area of the city. I can see our contact for this mission was mistaken though, as you are here."

Lucius coughed to hide a slight flush of shame. It was true, the Legion would not send any guards into this area. The criminal element was simply too strong. Lucius was still of the opinion that the entire place should be purged.

"Yes, well, I appreciate the assistance. I do not thnik I would have survived against their numbers if you had not provided such timely assistance."

The Dunmer smiled jovially as he responded. "I am not so sure of that, muthsera. You have a great deal of skill with that blade. Should you ever be released from your service in the Legion, I am sure the Guild will welcome you with open arms. You should consider it. I believe the pay is significantly better, for starters."

Lucius chuckled softly. "I will be sure to keep that option under consideration," he replied honestly.

Salen glanced back at the bodies on the docks, now frowning. "What of them? Should we not provide some assistance for them? I do not wish them all to die after all. I was merely sent her to prove a point."

Lucius glanced at them briefly, then flicked back to the Dunmer as he began to walk away. "Leave them. Let the Gods sort them out. If they survive out here until they are well enough to move under their own power once more, then they deserve their lives."

The Dunmer continued to frown as he reluctantly followed. "That seems very..." He trailed off, unsure of what to say.

"Practical," Lucius finished for him. "Why bother going to the effort of saving someone who will merely go back to their ways as soon as they are out of your sight. Those men know no other life, and as pitiable as that is, everyone is better off if they're dead." And this way, I'm not directly responsible for their deaths, Lucius thought, but didn't say.

"Except for them, of course."

"Well, they don't really have a say in the matter, do they," Lucius said, looking back in slight annoyance.

The Dunmer sighed. "As you say, muthsera."

"Now then, how about I buy you a drink for saving my life," Lucius offered.

"Now that is something I can agree to," the Dunmer responded, although he was still frowning slightly.