Got overzealous and published my 1st chapter without running it by my "editor" AnonymousJ. Shame shame , shame on me. So here's the revised version…. We did some re-arranging to help with the flow of things, so if you are watching you may wanna re-read due to new info.
Ok, first of all, this story will contain spoilers later on. I will try to notify in advance but just be forewarned. This is meant to eventually be rated M for content and language, so also be warned. I will attempt to stay true to cannon, however may have to go off on some tangents later on for story line purposes and while I will certainly be receptive to any constructive criticism , I'm probably not as well versed in the Elder Scrolls history and lore as others. Heck, I can barely remember my own country's history, let alone a fictitious one. Many of these moments actually have happened to me in game, so as far as I am concerned the story kinda writes itself, I just get to fill in the juicy parts.
I will be starting with an explanation and background as to how my character found herself in Skyrim since the story kinda glazes over that part. So, Farkas and OC will not meet till about midstory. Sorry, but intro just felt so…. lacking. Plus, I like character development. Or at least, what I think is character development. Not much of an author, so keep that in mind please.
I will appreciate every comment, however may not be able to respond due the fact that I work two jobs and am writing this in my very spare free time. I have put together a little playlist on play list . com under shanrelle Silver & Gold. Sadly, not all the songs I want are available there. I find a lot of inspiration through music and may occasionally make note of a particular song that inspired a scene just for fun or if you wanna listen to it while reading. The songs will be note like so: *artist-song title* (*Halestorm-Innocence*) for example.
And last but not least, I own nothing. I get no money for this, only the joy of using my imagination to bring a wonderful world even more to life. All ownership, designs and concepts belong to their respective owners. Sigh… even Farkas. Though I would own him if I could. ;D
I'd like to thanks my beta, AnonymousJ, for being a wonderful editor/consultant and all around friend who has to put up with my drivel. And the people who have commented on and faved my story. Thanks!
Silver & Gold
A Skyrim Fanfic featuring Dragonborn Argonian Schyre Redclay and Companion Farkas
It's odd what goes through your mind when you are about to die. Long forgotten memories conjured as if by spell and tinged with regret from the choices made; realization of the future experiences soon to be lost forever; absurd clarity about the world around you. In the final moments before death you never feel so alive, as if your body wishes to drink in every moment, every sensation, knowing these will be the last. Schrye Redclay was hyper-aware of the sensations that bombarded her. All of the mundane discomforts that she had dully adapted to now came vividly alive and filled her with bittersweet musings. The fibers of the coarse rope binding her hands together were painfully digging under the small scales covering the joints of her wrists. The stench of the horses pulling the prisoner cart for several hours now overpowered the sweet aromas of the abundant plant life seen all around. There was a constant, rhythmic squeak of the wagon wheels providing a curious metronome to the nervous baritone prattling of the Nord to her left and the hysterics of the horse thief across from her.
Schrye glanced impassively at the blonde Nord droning on about honor and politics, obviously afraid of his own death. His apprehensions were not her concern. For all of their bluster about honor, the Nords she had encountered thus far were nothing but hostile to the Argonian merely because she was a different race. Not that she actually expected humans to be better than that- it seemed as ingrained in their nature to fear those unlike themselves as it was for her to breathe underwater. The man to her right was gagged as well as bound, and she wondered why this one had not received the same treatment. Pity, she mused, perhaps I can ask a guard to gag him as a last request. She chuckled at her inside joke, earning her an odd look from the Nord who finally abandoned his attempt at conversation.
The blonde man had been ranting the entire trip about losing the "Nord way of life" to Imperial rule. It seemed the Empire was a subject of broad contention for the Nordic country. As far as she could tell, the debate mainly revolved around the forbidden worship of Tiber Septim. Truly, she didn't see why the Imperial occupation bothered the native Nords so much. Under the influence of the Empire, trade was increasing and Imperial soldiers patrolled the roads keeping them safer than ever. Of course, the better patrols were why she had landed in this situation in the first place- Imperial troops had ambushed Schrye while she was trying to sneak across the border into Skyrim to escape from a high bounty in Cyrodiil. From the cooking kettle to the fire pit, she reflected.
Everything was happening now all because of one man. Schrye was easily one of the best hunters in the Redclay tribe, and it was this that caused her to be selected as a guide for Isael Archember. Isael, a brilliant Altmer alchemist hailing from Cyrodiil, was obsessed with the Hist and the potential properties it had as an alchemic ingredient. Her people guarded their sentient trees well, and the only reason that the snotty High Elf was allowed to gather samples of the tree sap was because his potions had saved many lives given the prevalence of disease in the swamps. While the native Argonians were resistant to disease, outbreaks still occasionally occurred in the smaller tribes, especially during the flood season when mudcrabs were most active.
Disease was not the only danger in Black Marsh, especially dangers posed to the Other races. Fleshfly swarms feasted on the soft tissues of Others, and Hackwings and Swamp Leviathans patrolled the stagnant marshes. As lead hunter, Schrye was charged with escorting the golden skinned elf to the Hist grove and ensuring his safety. In theory, it was a simple task. However, theory and application tend to be different matters all together. Isael was an Altmer to his very core, and his fussy nature was off-putting to even the most patient person. When he wasn't complaining about how muggy, wet, hot, humid or smelly it was in the swamp, he was griping about the quality of food and water brought along for the trek. Schrye was surprised he didn't ask her to carry him on her back so he wouldn't get his feet wet.
Traveling with this Other did have some benefits, though. In true alchemy-enthusiast fashion, Isael was eager to parade his knowledge about various properties of several of the native species. Well, verbally, if only to enhance his feeling of superiority. Touching his books, calcinator, and mortar and pestle were out of the question for fear they may somehow become contaminated by her touch. Schrye found herself unusually fascinated by the various applications a single ingredient could have. One element could heal just as easily as it could kill, depending on the catalyst used. On her nightly watch, she would sometimes "borrow" his alchemic books and study them by the fireside, poring over the information enthusiastically. The only aspect of alchemy that she balked at was orally sampling some of the raw ingredients to learn their properties. Some were… unsavory to say the least. She was more than queasy when Isael sampled some digestive acid of the massive rootworm they rode within as the creature carried them towards the Grove. "Fascinating," he said, right before he turning a lovely shade of green that would make even the most humble Argonian envious and letting loose the contents of his own stomach straight back into the bowels of the rootworm.
They set up camp a respectable distance from the Grove, leaving the bulk of their supplies behind and trekking along the winding path to the Hist. The Grove stood in dignified solitude on a small peninsula surrounded by murky waters. The noticeable lack of other flora and fauna gave one the feeling that very swamp itself revered the sacred trees. Upon entering the Grove, Schrye approached one of the oldest Hist and laid her hands upon its withered bark in ritualistic communion. The twisted giant received her graciously as she silently communicated their intentions in being here, much less with an outsider. Isael didn't realize how much danger he was in simply by being present. While most Others viewed the Hist as little more than vegetation, in truth the unique trees possessed cunning and almost ruthless natures that kept even the local predators at bay. Being allowed to even set foot on such sacred ground was a high honor; thankfully this was not lost on the unusual guest. The normally high-strung Altmer was surprisingly reserved during the communion, though Schrye could sense him bubbling with excitement at the prospect of reaping the reward of this journey.
Schrye stood guard warily as Isael took a dull knife and gingerly scraped some of the amber colored sap into a vial. Not only was she monitoring the elf's action, she was watching for any unexpected behaviors of the Hist itself. Though it consented to having its sap harvested, she would not put it out of the realm of possibility that the Hist might make a small demonstration to teach the elf just what he was receiving his gift from. The Hist were not malevolent by any means, but they were also not domesticated. The Hist were used to commanding respect from any creature that would dare set foot in their domain, and as learned as he was, the Altmer was still basically ignorant of this. Schrye was charged with his safety though, and on her clan's honor she would have to defend him, regardless of how much she might agree to the necessity of him being taught that basic lesson. The collection went by without incident though, and the moment it was over Isael practically bolted out of the Grove, eager to reach his various instruments and tools that Schrye had been forced to haul with them the entire time. Schrye reached the edge of the campsite just as he had finished dumping the contents of one of his packs all across the clearing. It was then that Schrye noticed that she wasn't the only recent arrival: the massive head of a swamp leviathan was rising from the shadowy depths focused on the distracted Altmer.
Schrye barely had time to nock an arrow before the leviathan was upon Isael. Leviathans trap their victims in the coils of their armored serpentine bodies and submerge their prey, killing them by drowning or crushing. This predator had already tangled Isael in its coils and was dragging him below the murky water, so Schrye knew she had to act fast. She drew her bow back and loosed her arrow straight into the eye of the leviathan. The beast roared and thrashed in agony, flinging Isael further from the shore.
Schrye dove headlong into the water in a desperate attempt to reach him before the leviathan recovered. Thanking Sithis for her streamline body, Schrye cut through the water swiftly and grabbed the elf by the back of his robes, dragging him towards the shore opposite of the camp. As Schyre towed him past a group of mangrove trees, Isael suddenly started sputtering nonsensical sounds and flailing frantically, trying to escape her grasp. She nearly lost her grip on him, but her quick reflexes secured a new, tighter hold on the hysterical Altmer. "Quiet!" she hissed, glancing back to discover the source of his panic: the leviathan was cutting a path in the water, barreling straight toward them. Thinking quickly, Schrye shoved Isael, propelling him towards the interwoven roots of the nearest mangrove, and turned to face the gaping maw of the leviathan. She drew her dagger from its sheath and plunged beneath the water, hoping to draw the beast's attention away from the elf.
On land, Schrye was at best mediocre with melee combat. It was one of the reasons she preferred using stealth and her bow- if she could kill an enemy before it even saw her, well… dead things didn't pose much of a threat. Beneath the surface of the water was a different story altogether. On land her movements with a blade were clumsy and awkward, but underwater she was as fluid as the liquid itself. She artfully dodged the serpent's attack and plunged the dagger into the side of its neck, driving it in up to the hilt. Leviathan scales are thick, and only blind luck could have guided the strike to be instantly fatal. Unfortunately, this was not her lucky day, and Schrye's only weapon was now firmly stuck in the creature's muscular neck. As she tried to free her blade the leviathan spun, and its barbed tail struck Schrye with such force that she was launched out of the water. She crashed against the trunk of the mangrove tree that was sheltering the hysterical High Elf and fell in a heap between its massive roots.
Schrye groaned and saw that half of her vision was blinded by blood pouring from a deep laceration above her left eye. With her good eye she sought out Isael to warn him, only to find him swimming frantically away. She untangled herself from the mess of roots and suddenly came face to face with the leviathan's one good eye mirroring her own. She froze; her muscles taut and ready to spring when the beast would lunge at her. Fortunately for her, its massive head swung away, obviously more interested in something else. Unfortunately for Isael, that something happened to be him.
Sensing his impending doom, Isael panicked and was more flailing than swimming towards the shore. Leviathans hunted not primarily by sight, but by sound. Their keen ears could hear the echoes of a struggling fish for miles underwater. The Altmer's spastic thrashing must have sounded like a slaughterfish having seizures for the beast to complete disregard the bloodied Schrye in favor of the tastier-sounding prey. As it passed, Schrye leapt upon its back, finding purchase on barbs that lined the creature's spine and scaled toward its head. She forcibly yanked the dagger out of its neck as she climbed, earning her a vicious shake. The serpent finally stopped its pursuit of Isael and focused on throwing off Schrye. It slammed into the mangrove trees and dove underwater, twisting and turning in a furious spiral to try and rid itself of the clinging Argonian. With a death grip on one of its spines, Schrye clung like a parasite as the creature began to tire. Finally, the exhausted serpent slowed and Schrye plunged the dagger into the yielding flesh behind the ear canal, penetrating the leviathan's brain and killing it instantaneously. With a final shudder, the great serpent sank lifelessly beneath the murky waters.
Bruised, battered, and thoroughly soaked, Schrye swam over to Isael and hauled him to the shore. With the elf safe from drowning, she laid on the lichen-covered path panting for a solid minute. Finally, with much effort she got to her feet and looked at the Altmer. The prim and proper high elf was on his knees face-down in the mud, trembling and clinging to the earth like it would disappear from beneath him at any moment. "Up!" she commanded, "We need to leave, now!" Her barked order brought him out of his shock and Isael's face reddened from the embarrassment of having a lowly Argonian order him around. His indignation easily showed on his face, but before he could voice his outrage at her tone Schrye cut him off abruptly, "Every predator within a two mile radius heard that, and now there is fresh blood in the water. I don't have the strength to fight off another leviathan or anything else that may come around. So move or die!" she hissed menacingly.
Schrye angrily wiped at the blood that kept obstructing her vision as she hurried toward the camp without looking back for Isael's reaction. She had already packed most of his belongings by the time the elf joined her. He actually stooped to help place the last several items in the pack when they heard a shrill shrieking in the distance. Schrye looked up in alarm and readied her bow while shoving the pack into Isael's arms. "What is it?" Isael asked quietly. "Hackwing," was her terse reply as she wiped yet again at the torrent of blood from her brow. "To the Void! I can't see!" she cursed. Prodding the indignant elf before her along the path, she raised her hand to her temple, fingers ablaze with golden healing light. Schrye didn't have the time or energy to heal it fully and knew it would scar, but at least they would survive the trek back. "You can use restoration magic?" he asked incredulously. She barely glanced at him, keeping an eye out for danger. "A little," she said, "the Nest Keepers, akin to your "midwives", all know minor healing incantations to help the hatchlings. This was to be my role before I became lead hunter, so I was trained in the basics. I was never very good at it. Lucky for me, another Path opened before me… something I excelled at." She absently thumbed her bow before gazing at him meaningfully. "Lucky for you too, it would seem."
They passed through the rest of the swamp uneventfully. It wasn't until they were safely back in the bowels of the rootworm that Isael spoke again. "I never did thank you for saving my life," he commented. Schrye raised her now-scarred brow in surprise, "I didn't expect you to." "Good!" he nodded emphatically, "It's good that you don't expect additional gratitude for doing your job…properly." Schrye just smiled and replied, "No, that's not it. I just didn't expect it from you." Isael snorted in derision, but his gaze now held a new emotion: respect. He still didn't like her attitude, and it must have eaten him up to know that he owed Schrye his life for her risking hers to save him, but he no longer had any doubt about her skill. He seemed to appraise her in this new light as she stood vigilant near the mouth of the rootworm healing her wounds as they traveled. "Is it common for your kind to engage those… those…things?" he asked. "No," she simply stated. He seemed to realize the enormity of the danger they barely escaped, "So, if I had one of the other hunters with me…." He trailed off in mute horror, and Schrye answered matter-of-factly, "You'd be dead." There was no arrogance in her tone; she wasn't taunting him nor was she bragging about her deed. It was a simple fact: if she had not been the one to escort the Altmer, he would not have survived the journey into the marsh.
Isael was lost in his own thoughts for a long while; Schrye guessed that the close brush with death must have shaken him more than she assumed it would. When he did finally speak again, his voice contained an edge of panic that alerted her right away. "Oh! Oh Gods! I need an antidote quickly!" He was glancing confusedly around before settling his gaze on his large alchemic pack. Unsteadily and with shaky hands he crouched down and began fumbling with the clasps. Schrye approached warily, "What's wrong with you now?" The Altmer looked up at her with wide, fear-stricken eyes, "That water! My head went under the water. That water is infested with who knows what kinds of diseases and parasites. I must have swallowed some. I'd developed an upset stomach and muscle cramps a while ago and just realized how clouded my thinking is. I've contracted something, I tell you! I must prepare a cure disease potion immediately or it could be the death of me." He finally managed to open the pack, but sat there a moment staring at the contents before whispering in utter horror, "Divines save me, but I've forgotten the ingredients!"
Schrye suppressed the urge to sigh in exasperation; it was only hours ago that she had to save his life, and now her charge was in danger again. Isael was right though- the diseases in Black Marsh were sometimes dangerous even to Argonians, so a fastidious Altmer would stand little chance of surviving if a particularly virulent strain took hold of him suddenly. Schrye knelt down, grimacing, "Focus, Isael. Don't think about what could happen or what you're feeling. Think about your potion recipes. Now, you said you need a cure disease potion. What ingredients go into that?" Of course Schrye already knew the answers she was fishing for: vampire dust and mudcrab chitin. That was one of the few potions she had memorized because it seemed too useful to not know. A potion that could cure almost any disease would be invaluable anywhere, especially in a place with diseases that could wipe out entire clans in a season like it had last year. But she couldn't let on that she knew, or else he'd know that she was reading his books. The elf stopped his uncertain search through his pack, seeming to try to redirect his lethargic thoughts, "I… think I have at least one of the ingredients, but the other was something that is too abundant for me to have to carry." "How about you look it up in one of your books?" Schrye offered. Her suggestion was not well received; Isael just finished removing the heavy book satchel before he exploded, "Have you seen how many books I have? Do you know how long it's going to take for me to find a single recipe? I could be dead by the time I find the recipe and ingredients!"
The elf's impassioned outburst only made his condition worse though. Isael started tilting his head as if dizzy, his eyes unfocused. He reflexively clutched onto the satchel as a source of stability, trying to steady his spinning world. In a weak voice, he murmured, "Stop the worm and find the ingredients. I don't have much time." He then slumped over, his fingers in a death grip on the book satchel under his chest. Schrye shook him calling, "Hey! HEY!" but the elf didn't respond. She touched the pulse at his neck and felt a rapid heartbeat. His temperature was naturally warmer in comparison to her own cool-blooded body, so she couldn't tell if he was running a fever or not. At least he isn't dead yet, she thought. Schrye issued the command to the rootworm to stop moving and carefully poured out Isael's alchemic ingredients to see what was available. It would be easy enough for her to find a mudcrab outside, but if he didn't have any vampire dust he would be done for.
Luckily the elf's memory served him well this time, because Schrye did find the rare ingredient. Isael's alchemy books contained very meticulous notes on the identification of the various ingredients, especially how to tell the difference between ingredients with similar properties such as the salts and powders. Schrye carefully set the vampire dust aside next to the tools she'd need to mix and prepare the concoction. Moments later she was outside of the rootworm and kicking through the shallow water trying to stir up a mudcrab. It took a couple minutes, but one of the ill-tempered creatures rose to challenge her. Thankfully it doesn't take much finesse to slay a mudcrab, and after a couple dagger strikes Schrye had a fresh supply of chitin to pulverize.
Upon returning, it dawned on her that she was about to make her very first potion. A thrill of excitement went through Schrye at the prospect, but she schooled her emotions; her client's life was in peril at the moment, and she couldn't be careless with this. As she tore apart the mudcrab to acquire the chitin, she spoke aloud toward the elf, "I don't know if you can hear me, but I got your ingredients. Do you want to come over here and make it yourself, or do you want me to prepare the potion? Just lay there quietly if you want me to do it." Isael didn't register that he even heard her- his half-lidded gaze seemed fixed in one spot and his breathing was short and shallow. Schrye waited only a short moment before continuing aloud, "Alright, I'll take that as a yes." She prepared the ingredients using the meticulous methods described in the books, and after a few minutes was collecting the finished potion in a vial. The whole event passed by in an excited blur for Schrye, but now the true test of her learning was at hand: whether or not the potion she crafted would save his life.
Schrye crept toward the hunched figure of Isael and grabbed his shoulder to lift him upright. "Hey, wake up," she said firmly, "you need to drink this now." Isael slowly lifted his head and opened his hand to take the vial from her. She placed the tube in his palm and he gently touched the rim to his lips, quietly breathing as if gathering his strength. Schrye watched him tensely, but just as she was about to intervene and tip the vial, Isael delicately tilted the container and tasted the fluid. After a short moment he finished lifting the tube and smoothly drank down the potion. Schrye watched him anxiously searching for a sign that he was recovering. The Altmer turned to her with a steady gaze and commented in his normal tone, "That not only smelled but also tasted like a cure disease potion. I did not have one of those potions already prepared. You used my tools."
Of all the ungrateful! Schrye braced herself for his inevitable tirade as she defended herself, "I had no choice. You had fainted, and I didn't know if you were dying or not. It was an emergency." Isael wiggled the empty bottle between his fingers, "Not only did you use my tools with the barest modicum of competence; you successfully created a potion using an ingredient not readily available in your homeland." Schrye felt uneasy at the direction the conversation was going and tried to deflect it, "With how much you complain, I wonder if you wouldn't be happier if I did nothing to save you. Just be glad your life is no longer in danger and leave it at that."
"My life was in no danger this time," was the Altmer's easy reply. Schrye was about to protest, but instead she looked at him more closely: for someone who only moments ago was seized with symptoms that had him doubled over and addle-brained, he was certainly relaxed and canny now, almost downright smug looking. The realization came to her: "You tricked me!" she exclaimed. He smirked slightly, "It served a dual purpose: it's true that I was concerned I might have contracted something in that fetid water and wished to have that potion anyway, but more importantly I wanted to test your knowledge to see if you retained any of the information from your nights of stealing my books."
Schrye's crimson scales turned a dark burgundy from her blush of embarrassment and she replied gruffly, "I didn't steal your books. I only borrowed them." Isael fixed her with a pointed stare, "You may have returned the physical books each time, but you did partake of knowledge that I did not choose to freely share- knowledge that someone in my position would normally be well compensated for providing." Schrye was about to protest that the knowledge is what enabled her to save his life, but she quickly recalled that it had all been a ruse on his part. The look of triumphant satisfaction on his face was too much for her to bear, so Schrye quickly stood and walked the short distance away to calm herself and get the rootworm moving again. She didn't like being made a fool of, and if she faced him right now she might say or do something she'd regret.
What came from him next caught Schrye off guard, momentarily interrupting her indignation; Isael mentioned in an off-handed tone, "Once we return, I must travel to Bruma in Cyrodiil for more supplies. The road is long and riddled with bandits. I could use someone as skilled as you are to make sure I arrive there in one piece." Schrye turned and looked at the elf incredulously. "Surely you jest now," she replied, crossing her arms defensively. When he didn't respond she continued, "Putting aside your arrogant assumption that I would want to work for you after you deceived me, why would you hire me again?" Isael laced his fingers together and spoke evenly, "I need someone to escort me to Bruma. You've shown yourself to be quite…" He hesitated before finding a suitable word, "…capable." He pursed his lips for a moment and then continued, "I can make it worth you while." "I don't want your gold," was her immediate reply. No amount of money is worth putting up with him for weeks on end, she thought. "Fantastic!" he replied with too much enthusiasm, much to her annoyance, "I wasn't offering. What I AM extending though is something of great interest to you."
Isael opened his book satchel and brought forth one of his great tomes, gently touching its cover with an earnest look on his face, "The fact that you were able to correctly brew that potion from memory demonstrates you have potential. Well, not as much as I did in my youth, but potential nonetheless. Here is what I offer. Room and board at any inn we stay in, meals, and training in alchemy as my apprentice. In exchange, you protect me from the hazards of the road until we reach my dwelling in Bruma. The trip will take three months if we make good time. By then you should have at least an apprentice level competency in alchemy. Whether you choose to stay on afterwards or forge your own path will be up to you."
Schrye was silent for a long moment. There was nothing holding her to Black Marsh. She had no mate, no hatchlings, and she already held the highest title the clan had. She often felt there was no more room for growth on her Path here. Striking out on her own, even briefly, was a thrilling idea. Plus, there was this ripe deal to learn more alchemy in the process… "Agreed," she said to the elf with a curt nod, "with a few provisions. If we are in a dangerous situation, when I tell you to do something, you do it. No questions asked, no retorts, no hesitation. It may cost you your life otherwise." Isael opened his mouth to protest but Schrye cut him off, "NO questions asked no retorts, no hesitation, or NO deal!" Isael's lips became a hard thin line and his face reddened, but after a moment to calm himself he waved his hand dismissively, "Agreed."
It was arranged. Schrye gathered her few belongings, and with little fanfare from the clan she departed with Isael's small horse driven cart through the bogs of Black Marsh. Though hardly good company, Isael was true to his word and began instructing her immediately. She couldn't help but think he derived some kind of sick pleasure in watching her recoil from eating some of the fouler components along the way. He was adamant that it was entirely necessary to sample the ingredients in order to discover their properties, but she would rather just trust a book saying that the component did what it claimed to do. Almost every ingredient across Tamriel had been discovered already, and if she found something horrid that no one else knew about, well… life was meant to have its little mysteries. She was sent to fetch ingredients along the road while scouting ahead for danger. He drilled her nonstop on the properties and applications of components until she could recite them with ease. He refused to allow her to use his masterwork tools for practice, but when they stopped at Leyawiin to rest he purchased for her an apprentice level set of tools.
Schrye also kept her part of the bargain. She slinked silently ahead of the cart, artfully placing arrow after arrow between the eyes of would-be ambushers. Isael was never in any danger since she killed them before they knew of his presence. He even commented on how clear the roads were as they traveled through the Nibenay Basin. With each passing day, Schrye grew stronger in her new skill. Because she was immune to poison, Isael entrusted poison crafting to her for the various "clients" they met along the road. On nights when there was no village or inn to shelter them, she would hunt for their dinner. While they had little else to converse about besides alchemy, things eventually settled between them. She would even dare say that towards the end of it, she was almost fond of the fussy elf. His mannerisms and ego took some getting used to, but the exchange of mild slights made their interactions almost fun. She learned that most of his outrage was just for show, and in truth he could take insults and indignities with some humor, but she'd better be prepared to be put in her place at a later time. Not that he would be caught dead admitting it, but she was certain that in his own way he enjoyed their time together as well.
They arrived ahead of schedule: two and a half months to travel from Black Marsh to Bruma. Usually quite sparing in dispensing praise, Schyre was astonished when Isael half-muttered "good job" as they pulled into the city gates. As Schrye helped to unpack when they arrived at his home, he noticed that her normally deft movements were now sluggish and clumsy. Even her once bright scales had dulled to the color of dried blood. "Stop before you break that, you clumsy oaf!" he ordered as she was removing a particularly fragile piece of equipment from the cart. He stared hard at her for a moment and then asked crossly, "How long have you been sick?" Schyre blinked slowly; face impassive as if not understanding the question. It took several seconds longer than it should have for her to answer. "Not… sick," she labored. "Cold. Reptile… cold .. is .. dan…gerous. Slows... every...thing down."
It had been getting increasingly colder as they traveled farther north. Schyre had felt the chill, but as long as she was active or able to warm herself by a fire she was capable of ignoring the effects. Yet here frozen water fell from the sky and coated the ground. The wind cut through bone and marrow as surely as any blade. Though Isael had provided food and shelter for his guard, he gave no thought to warmer clothing. Clad in the thin leather armor from her homeland, the light-weight apparel allowed her maximum flexibility but offered no shelter from the arctic temperatures.
Isael huffed and turned his back on Schyre. Taking it as a dismissive gesture, Schrye gathered the package up with numb hands. She was more than a little surprised when he snatched the package away from her and plunked a generous handful of gold coins in her palm. Dumbfounded by the unusual gesture, she just stood staring at the coins until Isael irritably exclaimed, "Well? Are you just going to stand there like your brain has frozen over? I can't have you dropping my expensive things. Go get yourself a cloak or something. I'm going inside to start a fire and warm up. And don't dally! As soon as you get back I want that cart unpacked and my horse groomed and stabled." With that, he entered his home and slammed the door behind him, sending a shower of icicles cascading to the ground. A guard that had stopped to watch the exchange shot her a suspicious glare before resuming his patrol.
The gold cooling in her grasp, Schyre passed the gate to the Jerrall Mountains and approached the local tavern that sat juxtaposed from Isael's home. As she mounted the stairs, she noticed that the word Olav's had been hastily painted over and the weathered sign now displaying Jerren's Tap and Tack. There was a faint chime from a brass bell hung above the door and she let herself in.
Inside the small tavern, a few patrons gathered near the fire, clutching their drinks in worn hands as a Brenton busily cleaned the bar with a tattered rag. Lingering smoke from the fireplace filled the tavern and various forms of trinkets and merchandise occupied the dusty shelves that lined the square counter.. A black and white stripped Khajiit stocked the upper shelves, nimbly balancing on the edge of a stool. Peering thru the haze, Schrye recognized the Brenton as the owner and approached the bar. She rapped her frigid knuckles on the wooden bar top signaling her desire to do business. When he continued to ignore her she cleared her throat and knocked again, finally rewarded with an exasperated sigh from the man as he threw down his rag in melodramatic fashion and stomped toward her.
"Don't serve your kind here, lizard" he scowled. "Go to Riften with the rest of those sneak thieves and their little guild. I catch your fingers anywhere near my wears, by Azura; I'll turn you into a pair of boots."Schyre was stunned for a moment at the open hostility of the merchant then angrily plunked a few gold on the counter. "My gold's good as anyone else's. If you don't want it, direct me to someone who does!" she hissed.
The Brenton man was just opening his mouth to say something when the Khajiit leaped down next to him. With a graceful bow the Khajiit interjected, "Many apologies, friend. What my esteemed college meant to say is that I, Rajhiera, would be delighted to assist you in purchasing our fine wares." Giving the man a meaningful look the Khajiit then took the Brenton's place as the irate man stormed off. "You'll have to forgive Jerren," Rajhiera stated smoothly. "A few weeks ago some thieves broke in and made off with much merchandise. He's been on a tirade since then and anyone who walks through the door seems to be a suspect."
Schrye eyed the Breton warily and when he no longer seemed a threat began to peruse the goods on display. "What's all this about Riften?" she questioned while trying on a pair of worn gloves. The Khajiit's ears twitched forward as a large grin spread on the cat's face. "Oh, have you not heard?" he stated rather dramatically. "Riften is a city in Skyrim to the northeast about five days ride from here. Supposedly, it is home to the largest sect of the Thieves Guild. Very dangerous. And, so confident in their abilities that they trek miles across the tundra of Skyrim, past frost trolls and Imperial patrols, just to steal our humble wares." With that, the Khajiit let out a loud laugh directed at the Brenton who threw down the rag and headed upstairs.
Schyre had chuckled along but her mirth turned to frustration when she noticed that even with the gloves on she still could not feel her finger tips. Granted the warmth pouring from the hearth certainly helped, but Schrye was wise enough to recognize that it was the ambient heat from the fire affecting her, not the addition of clothing. Being cold blooded, she didn't generate any body heat and no matter how heavy the fabric, it would do little as insulation. Sighing she stripped the gloves off and continued to dig through the miscellaneous garments. She was just about to give up the search as fruitless when the Khajiit slid a plain silver ring across the counter towards her.
"I believe you will find this, most helpful." He said with a sly tooth filled grin. Schrye looked at the ring dubiously and after a few moments picked it up for closer examination. As it caught the firelight, I faint bluish sheen caressed the surface, like the edge of a bubble caught in the sunlight at the perfect angle. Magic, she recognized. Hesitantly, she slipped the ring on her forefinger, feeling the shiver of magic as it came in contact with her skin. Relief would hardly describe the sensation she experienced. Her entire body was instantly warmer, as if a faint barrier against the cold had been erected around her. The chill was still present, but it seemed slightly more tolerable and less numbing than before.
Rajhiera smiled, chuckling lightly. "Is good, yes?" Schyre could only close her eyes and nod, enjoying the warmth too much to fully respond. "Is Ring of Resist Frost. Of course, for 100% resistance, is very very much expensive and rare. This one offers 5% resistance. Will help keep cold from harming you. Is very popular among your kind this far north."
Schyre opened her eyes and peered warily at the Khajitt. As a hunter, she could smell a trap a mile away. This Khajiit knew she was desperately in need of protection from the cold and would be sure to take every piece of gold she had. Not that she had much. By her estimate, Isael had only given her about 300 gold so she'd have to approach this carefully if she was to purchase the ring at all. She acted disinterested and removed the ring placing it back on the counter and looked at a few more items. She finished scrutinizing some ugly leather boots, an assortment of cloaks, and some soul gems before coming back to the ring, almost as an afterthought. Nonchalantly, she offered the cat a ridiculously low sum for the ring, to which he countered. They haggled for quite a while finally agreeing on a sum of 280 gold. She used the reminder of the money to buy a woolen cloak to keep the wind off her and set forth from the shop back to Isael's abode.
Even the slight shielding from the bitter winter winds improved her speed and demeanor. After un-harnessing Saffron, Isael's bay mare, she was able to unload the rest of the cart and store the contents in the small shed attached to the side of Isael's home within about an hour. Securing the large padlock on the door, she turned her attention to the shaggy horse, which was tied to the hitching post outside. She deftly curried the mud from the mare's shaggy coat and cleaned her feet and then left her tied as she headed inside to check with Isael.
"Everything's unloaded," she shouted as she pushed open the heavy door. "I'm going to take Saffron to the stables and I….." Schyre's words died in her throat as her nostrils were assailed by an all too familiar smell. Blood. "Isael?" she asked tentatively as she took another step into the room. The logs in the fireplace crackled and hissed as she entered the central chamber. A great checkered wingback chair sat facing the roaring fire, Isael's hand in respite on the armrest. Leaving the door open, Schyre approached the chair her pace quickening in fear. "Isael?" she cried again louder her pitch rising as she rounded the chair.
Isael was slumped in the chair; head resting on his chest, the front of his robe was soaked in blood that ran in thin rivulets and dripped steadily on the wood floor. "Isael!" Schrye screamed, kneeling over him. She tried to staunch the torrent of blood seeping from his slit throat summoning her restoration magic to try and save him. Blood cascaded down her hands, staining her leather armor and giving her scales a slick wet look as the golden light from her healing magic reflected off it and the pupils off Isael's blank open eyes. She was too late. She could heal the living, but not bring back the dead. She removed her hands from his lifeless body and reached up to close his eyes. She didn't know him well enough to cry for him, didn't like him enough too, but certainly didn't want him to die. Not like this.
"Citizen?" boomed a voice from the doorway. Schrye jumped up startled to see two armed guards standing in the doorway. "We heard screaming and…." His voice trailed off as he saw Isael's lifeless body in the chair and when his gaze shifted to Schyre he and his partner drew their swords. "Stop right there!"
Schrye looked down at her bloodied hands; at the blood that now soaked her leather armor and caked under her scales and claws. She put her hands up defensively and backed away from the guards, "Wait! No, I …I was trying to save him! I didn't do this!"
"Sure," one of the guards said sarcastically. "I heard you arguing with him a few hours ago. What, did you get tired of him putting you in your place lizard? Decide to teach him a lesson? Can't say he probably didn't deserve it, that one, but can't have a murderer running lose. Now, come with us real quiet and we'll set you up with a nice comfy cell." They slowly started to circle around her, closing off her only exit herding her towards the stairs on the left side of the house.
Schyre's heart raced a mile a minute. She had no gold to pay the fine or even attempt a bribe and doubted that she would get little in the way of a "fair" trail. If she was lucky, she'd hang. If not, she'd rot in jail for the rest of her miserable existence. So she did the only thing she could think of at that moment. She ran. "Stop lawbreaker!" one of them roared as she nimbly dashed up the stairs to the second story with the guards in pursuit. She made it to what could only have been Isael's bedroom with its opulent and ostentatious décor and latched the door. Trinkets, vases and books went tumbling as she shoved over a heavy bookshelf to block the doorway just as she felt it shudder under the impact of the two guards.
They were calling for reinforcements now and Schyre knew she was running out of time. She opened the door that led to the balcony overlooking the front of the house and already see more guards pouring from alleys and the barracks like enraged ants from a disturbed nest. An arrow narrowly missed her head and lodged itself into the door jam behind her. She peered over the balcony edge to see Saffron still tied below. Without wasting another moment, Schyre vaulted from the railing landing square on Saffron's back. The startled horse squealed and reared snapping the reins that tethered her and bolted forward. Several unfortunate guards were bowled over and crushed beneath her massive hooves as she ran for the gate.
Above the cries of murder and arrows flying by she heard the distinctive metal clink of the portcullis counterweight dropping and the gate descending. Clinging to Saffron's mane, she urged the mare on; praying to Sithis as they barely cleared the rapidly descending spikes of the city gateway. Clods of dirt and snow flew as Saffron raced through the tundra, leaving the guards and Bruma far behind them. (*Conjure one-Like Ice*)
They rode north for miles through banks of snow and past frozen rivers, when Saffron's feet suddenly came out from under her and the mare landed heavily in a snow bank, nearly crushing Schrye as she rolled on her side thrashing and screaming. It was then the Argonian noticed the arrow buried deeply in the mare's flank. Calming the horse as much as she could, Schrye pulled the arrow out and smelt the tip. A well-known scent greeted her; deathbell blossom extract. Schyre glanced sadly at the mare that was now foaming at the mouth, her muscles twitching involuntarily. The arrow hadn't been meant for Schyre since most guards knew Argonians were immune to poison and didn't bother wasting their arrows. They had either meant to cripple her mount and collect her at their leisure or let her die from exposure out in the wastes. Probably the latter she thought.
Schyre knelt besides the mare and stroked her neck. The horse's eyes rolled back in terror as she struggled to get up to no avail. The extract was attacking the mare's central nervous system, slowly shutting down her organs so she would die a slow and agonizing death. Schyre cradled the mare's head in her lap. As a hunter she understood that death could be a blessing; a release from the pain of living and with silent thank you, Schrye slit the horse's throat with her dagger. In a matter of moments, the mare bled out and body began to cool in the now red snow. Schyre wasted no time butchering the carcass, working quickly to gather the hide and meat she would need for the journey. She had already determined her destination: Riften, across the border of Skyrim, where her bounty wouldn't follow.