A birthday ficlet for Rollieo 122 - spectacularly late, of course :L


"The problem with life is that it has a tendency to give very little and take very much. If a person is presented with life itself, just life, no luxuries, then it is very hard to make something. Life itself is verging on useless, pointless, ridiculous... And yet we all need it.

The other problem with life is that it has a dreadful habit of catching up to you eventually, no matter what you do.

Enilroth had been living his life the same way that he always had. For some time now he had been having an intimate affair with Hasathil, the wife of a Nord sailor who knew that her husband had been unfaithful but had nowhere to go if she were ever to leave him. He would meet up with her every day after his work with Varel Morvayn was over, and they would just speak, sometimes more... unless her husband was at home.

To anybody who knew of this affair, the schedules of both Bosmer was becoming ridiculously monotonous, to the extent that it could be predicted where they would be to the very minute. And yet, given the fact that life can be truly unforgiving sometimes, neither of them were aware that a darker presence was following their movements.

One day in mid Rain's Hand, the haplessly lovestruck pair were taking a walk together as they often did, a walk with a stupid route that led them straight past a place where any single one of the sailors could rat them out to Heinrich Oaken-Hull, and then... Then there would be Oblivion to pay. Something was different this time though; from the cellar of the lighthouse a man appeared in a black cloak and hood, his face obscured from the Bosmer, and he called out to Enilroth, beckoning him over.

The strange man had a stranger proposition: place this money and this piece of paper into the barrel behind the mermaid statue and you will be handsomely rewarded. Enilroth was saving up money in order to enable his lover to leave her husband and live with him, perhaps he was even going to buy his own smithy one day, and he would teach the craft to his children by Hasathil, and life would be good and happy. He accepted eagerly, and explained to the admittably slightly ominous and terrifying stranger that he would carry out this action without even thinking of the consequences, even though he noticed the terrible smell coming from the door the man had emerged from, and even though people claimed to have heard screams from the lighthouse late at night.

Greed is never a good thing.

Enilroth bade his lover a fond kiss farewell once they returned to their 'secret meeting place', an area so blatantly obvious that even a drunken sailor such as Hasathil's husband could figure it out. He struck out to the barrel immediately, ignoring the demonic purple mare that had appeared in the stable since the last time he had been here. Had he paid closer attention, he might have noticed the burning red eyes, the thrum of magicka, the radiated evil. But Enilroth had never been particularly observant.

The barrel was a worn old thing, and he knew exactly where it was, leaning up against the western wall of the city he had grown to love for the sights, the smells, the women... Anvil was reknowned for a lot of things these days. He was glad to call it his home.

Dropping the paper into the bottom of the barrel as the man had instructed, Enilroth removed the bag of gold from his pocket. It felt heavy, and could easily have held anything up to five hundred Septims. Why, with five thousand Septims Enilroth could buy a home for him and Hasathil somewhere classy! He faltered at the thought of giving the money away. Who would check that it was there? Why would somebody put money in a barrel anyway?

He placed the money back into his pocket, and tapped it merrily against his leg, enjoying the quiet jingle that the coins made in his pocket. The Bosmer was prepared to walk away then, and leave this behind him forever, when a hand wrapped around his neck and threw him against the wall of the city heavily. Fear gripped him in its icy snares almost instantaneously.

"It wasn't me!" he stuttered. The pressure on his neck was not much more than enough to hold him still, but there was definitely a blade of some description pressed against his abdomen by this mysterious attacker. "I didn't do anything wrong! It was the robed man..."

He couldn't see the face of his attacker, and strangely enough the guards didn't seem to be doing anything despite his struggles. He considered yelling, but he supposed that that might easily be the last thing he ever did. The person holding him was a man, and a black hood covered his face but not the sadistic grin plastered to it. "Tell me about this robed man," the presumably Imperial coaxed from him, adding minutely to the pressure around the Bosmer's neck.

"He... I didn't see his face, but he lived in the lighthouse! He approached me and... and he paid me to put those things in the barrel! That's all I know, I swear!" Cool beads of sweat were beginning to form on his brow now as he resisted the urge to choke.

"Direct me to this lighthouse little treehugger." The voice of the attacker was terrifyingly smooth for someone who was so obviously evil beyond comprehension. Why else would he attack a poor innocent man over a note in a barrel?

Enilroth swallowed nervously, but this action was made rather difficult by the grip the Imperial man had on his throat. "It's outside the city walls! I think the robed man has lived there for quite some time. The smell that comes out of there... it's incomprehensible! He lives in... in the cellar!"

The man chuckled. How could one chuckle while in the process of strangling somebody? It was evil, evil beyond evilness. It was... Pain blossomed just below Enilroth's ribcage and he knew for certain that his time was up.

"I couldn't have you telling anyone about me," the man explained, still holding the Bosmer against the wall as he sank his knife deeper into Enilroth's torso, twisting it viciously so that the other man gasped in a mixture of shock and pain. "And besides... It is only a very stupid man who thinks he can steal from me." He could just make out the feeling of the stranger reaching into his pocket and extracting both the money that the man in the lighthouse had given him, and the money that he had conveniently forgotten to place in the barrel.

And then the hold on his neck was gone, the pain with it as magic sucked the very life out of him. He slumped to the floor dead and remained that way for a long time..."

Jesan Sextius stopped speaking and smiled strangely, the bottle of ale in his hand looking strangely inviting. He surveyed the faces of the people who had been listening to his story and was surprised at how much attention he had drawn tonight. The warm fire was crackling happily in the grate for a few moments as he thought of a way to wrap up finally. "Nobody will ever truly know what happened to young Enilroth. It is mere speculation. But, dear listeners, I have for you three pieces of advice: never speak with hooded strangers who offer you money, as you might end up paying the highest price of all; never touch anything that comes out of a strange glowing portal to another dimension - the chances of it being friendly are extremely slim; and never, ever take life for granted, because one day, just maybe, it might go catchin' up with you too!"

A strange silence hung over the crowd for a few moments in which Jesan took a swig of his ale before leaning back in his chair once more. "Now, does anybody know the story about the Khajiit and the calipers...?"

A strange little oneshot from me there... Idea struck me the other day. Please review and lemme know what you think :)