I am aware that the rewrite of the first six chapters causes some inconsistencies in the later ones. I'll update the rewritten chapters as I finish them, nothing major changes, so just be sure to forgive any small inconsistencies until it's all been updated. They will be tended to in due time.
Prelude: It's dead of night in the shady city of Riften, and almost no one is about. Here, in one of the more impressive houses, lives a young Breton Woman. She sits at a table by candlelight, dressed in everyday clothing. Being a Breton she has a rather pale complexion, but her skin is smooth and blemish free. Her straight chestnut brown hair isn't very long, reaching down to the end of her neck. Unknown to her, her life is about to careen down a path of no return.
Chapter 1: Darkness Revealed
My name is Arbelle Fane, and this world hasn't done me many favors, and all the ones it did grant were either bittersweet or didn't stick around for too long. This time isn't much different, and it appears life has once again decided to show me it's darker side. My home, if you can call it that, is currently in a rat-hole of a town known as Riften. Riften is a shifty little cesspit full of thugs, thieves, extortionists, cutthroats, and plenty of other lowlifes. Trying to find a soul that's pure around here would be like trying to find a freshwater well in the middle of a barren desert. A member of the local Thieves Guild, Logrun, is no different. He's a loan shark, and a piece of trash as well. He's rather high in the Guild's system, so he's practically untouchable. He makes a living out of collecting debts, and my mother, Muiri Fane, was one of those clients. She's not my real mother, as any halfwit could guess, for we look nothing alike.
But my mother's dead. She died just recently, but she lost who she was long before that. She just collapsed in the middle of the day; went into a coma. After she woke up she was never the same. It was clear her mind had been damaged; sometimes she wouldn't even respond to me when I tried to talk to her. She took to drinking, and gambling, and that's when things went up in smoke. She lost her job, and got in debt to a scumbag named Lugron, a total of two thousand septims. As time went on, her condition worsened, and there was nothing I could do but just sit back and watch. One night she went to sleep, and never woke up, and that was it.
Now I'm sitting in this house, alone, wondering what to do. Lugron will come to collect his debt soon enough, and I have no way of paying the loathsome rat. So I'm doing the only thing that has ever helped soothe the stress from my life, magic. I'm a Breton, so magic is in my blood, even though I've never even been to Little Rock. I'm nineteen now, and I've been studying magic ever since I was a small child. I specialize in the school of Destruction, and I haven't bothered to look too much into the others. Perhaps I would have if I had more options, but I don't. At my point I'm able to use adept level spells, but at the cost of much of my magicka.
At the moment I'm trying to read a spell tome of an expert level known as incinerate, when a knock comes at my door. And when I say a knock, I mean more of a violent pounding. I don't even have to say anything because he just lets himself in. He stands now in the wide open doorway, a lean, tall figure. Logrun is a disgusting old Nord, well past his prime. He's scum, the kind that will lie and deceive you with a straight face. Long, unkempt grey hair reaches down to his neck; some loose strands hang about his wrinkled and scarred face. I believe he told some grand story of how he attained this scar, but I later found out from Brynjolf, a sort of friend (and one of the only good souls in this town), that the scar is actually the result of an encounter with a rabid skeeve. Lugron's face is completely barren of any hair, and his skin is so pale I doubt he ever sees any sun. He looks upon me and meets my glare.
"Your stare is sharp enough to pierce iron," he cackles, referring to my eyes.
People often comment about my unnerving stare, one man described it as being "cold as ice," on account of my eyes being light blue and rigid, like frozen water. I suppose he thought he was being clever; I didn't.
"If you're here about the money, let me make this simple for you, I don't have it," I close my book now, knowing this isn't going to end well.
"Now, now lass, you should know better than to talk to me like that," two men join Lugron at his side, probably thugs from the Ragged Flagon. The trio enters my home without invitation. One thug leans up against wall, while the other takes a seat at the table opposite of me. Lugron himself walks past me and begins to survey the house. "You know something? This ain't a bad place, not for Riften anyway."
"There's nothing here of value Lugron, not unless you're interested in spell books."
"Naw, can't say I am, but. . .," his gaze turns to one of the shelves, but I can't tell what he's looking at. "What's this?" He strolls over, and my eyes flare with rage when I see what he's holding up. He holds a golden chain, swinging it precariously back and forth with one finger. At the end of the chain, was an amulet encasing a fist sized, flawless red ruby. That is the most valuable possession I own, not just in financial value but personal as well. There's not a chance in Oblivion I'd let that bastard take it.
"Put that down!" I rise from my seat, my eyes red with anger.
"Are you sure? A trinket like this could pay your debt and then some."
"If you don't put that down, right now, you'll regret it."
"Do you honestly think that I'm afraid of some bitch who knows a few magic tricks?!" He takes out a long, crooked knife from his tunic. "I own you girl, and I can do whatever I wish. Normally I'd try to have some fun with you, but I think you'll just end up being more trouble than you're worth. So here's what's gonna happen, I'mma cut your throat, take that precious amulet, pawn it, and then burn this house to the ground. How does that sound lass?" I can feel pure rage burning inside me, and I'd rather die than listen to one more word from this vile rat's mouth. He's going to kill me if I don't do something. He comes closer now, "Now why don't you just hold still so I can-."
Before he can react, I grab a knife placed on the table and run it across his smug face. The sudden move catches him off guard, and he drops the amulet at my feet. He doubles back in agony, clutching his bleeding face. "Gah! You fucking whore! You're dead!" He screams as blood seeps through his hand. I try to quickly grab the dropped amulet, but then I feel a tug on my arm from behind, one of Lugron's thugs has me in his grasp.
He pulls me towards him and slams me against the wall, holding me by the throat. "You just made the worst mistake of your life you little witch," he tightens his grip, choking me. I can't breathe; if I don't do something soon I'm going to black out, so I do the first thing that comes to mind. I raise my hand up to the man's face and cast a flames spell, one of the most basic of all destruction spells. But fire is fire, and I just shot all of it point blank into his face. He screams in excruciating pain, as the flames engulf his entire skull, roasting his skin. He releases me instantly and stumbles back, completely blinded from the fire. He tries in vain to put it out with his hands, backing away at the same time. He stumbles into the second, distraught goon, who pushes him away in horror. The man falls to the floor, and he's still rolling, screaming as the flames extinguish his life.
"Oh to Oblivion with this!" The second thug backs away and dashes out of sight. Then I feel a force grab me from the side, I had forgotten about Lugron. He takes me and throws me across the room; I crash onto the table, and it collapses under the force. The pain is great; I groan in agony, as I lie in splinters of wood and shards of broken glass. I manage to look to Lugron, who's breathing hard, blood still streaming from his face. The burning man has fallen silent now, and I can only imagine what that means.
Lugron staggers over to me, bends over and grabs the front of my shirt. "You're some piece of work you know that?" Several drops of his blood fall from his face onto mine. "I'm curious, after killing me what did you plan on doing next? Run away? To where? We have eyes everywhere."
"I didn't really think about it to be honest, didn't really seem important at the time," I gasp, still hurting. I'm staring directly at him as he looks down on me; I use one of my arms to feel around beside me, trying to find anything that might be useful.
"Well, all you've accomplished is making your death a lot slower," he holds up his knife, ready to bring it down on me. My hand finds something that feels like a handle of an eating utensil. I grab it quickly, see it's a fork out of the corner of my eye, and shove it into Lugron's face.
He cringes and is knocked off balance. I scramble away and manage to get to my feet, but then Lugron raises one leg and kicks me back. I stumble backwards against the wall, panting. Lugron looks me with a glare of pure hatred, and charges me. I don't have any choice; if I don't put him down right now, he'll kill me for sure. He's almost upon me. I lift both my arms and perform a two handed chain lightning, which I've only ever tried once before. I feel a great amount of magicka leave my body, and in a violent flash, a streak of lightning shoots out of my hands and collides with the oncoming Lugron.
Lugron never knew what hit him.
The vile man gets blasted back like a ragdoll, and slams into the wall at a force I've never seen before. He slides down to the hardwood floor like a brick, and there he lay still, his body skin seared by the sudden intense heat. My blood is pumping, and I just stare at the unmoving Lugron. Then my eyes move to the man I had set on fire, who lays face first on the ground, his head nothing but a smoldering, black stump. His mouth is agape, and his shocked, horrified eyes locked in an eternal stare. They're…they're dead. And I killed them. I shall shed no tears for this scum, but this feeling, it's not what I expected. I'm not distraught in the least; instead I am completely overwrought. I can't stop shaking, but out of excitement, not shock. My mind soon comes back into reality, and I see my situation for what it is.
What now? I'll have to flee the city after this, but to where? "By the gods, what have I done?"
"Something truly glorious," answers a voice.
I whip my head around to see a figure standing in the doorway, it's a man, and he's seen everything. I start to panic, "Wait, please I can explain!"
"No need," the man grins, he steps in, so I can see him clearly. "I know everything I need to know." He's an Imperial; dressed entirely in black, expensive clothing. A long, shining cloak reaches down just past his knees, with a buttoned up shirt underneath. Spotless shoes cover his feet, with finely tailored pants to match. He wears a ring on his right index finger along with a necklace, both with the same kind of black, sleek stone embedded into it. Yet, despite all this elegance his jet black hair is unkempt; it falls down around his neck and hangs all about his face, curling up and covering one eye. The other, of an almost glowing crimson, stares me down like that of a starving serpent. "Tell me girl, what is your name?" He asks of me, a gleam in his gaze.
"W-why do you care?" I ask, not following what's going on. Why is he so calm?
"Hmm, I see you're quite unnerved. Must have been your first experience in this refined art," he guesses, scratching his chin. "Now please, your name?"
"I-it's Arbelle Fane," I reply hesitantly. I don't know why I just answered him when I have no idea who he is, but I can't really think straight right now.
"Well Ms. Fane, it seems you have gotten yourself into quite the sticky situation," the mysterious man observed as he stepped into the room, observing the bodies.
I tilt my head, squinting at the man, "Who are you?" I finally ask.
"Who? Me? I'm a messenger."
"You don't look like a messenger."
"And you don't look like a cold blooded killer upon first glance, yet here we stand among the slain," he gestures with his hands.
"What? It was self-defense! They would have killed me if I did not retaliate."
He sinks his hands into his pockets and continues, "That may be so, but I've seen enough of the world to tell the difference between a person who kills because they have to, and one who looks for an excuse to. Many would run away, but not you," he claims, pointing at me now. "You stood your ground, and you slaughtered them." He stares at me intensely at a moment, with his finger still pointing. He then opens his hand towards me, swaying it back and it forth. "And here you are, almost completely unaffected, no remorse at all," he smirks now, and returns his hand to his pocket, "It's quite breath-taking, honestly," he sighs, seeming to be taking in the moment.
"I don't have time for this," I turn away from the madman, and pick my amulet up from the floor. "I have to get out of this city; don't try to stop me," I warn him as I start towards the door.
"If you walk out that door you will be dead in a matter of days," the man warns as I pass. I stop, and look to my side at him uncertainly. His gaze slowly shifts to my current position, "If not sooner."
"What choice do I have?"
"The Thieves Guild will hunt you down no matter where you go, unless you are among those who would protect you with their very lives. Luckily, I know of one such group."
It takes a minute for me to respond, as I'm trying to read him, but it's impossible. "What are you saying?" I finally ask, turning towards him.
"Come with me, I am your only chance at survival."
I make a bewildered face and step back, "Why should I go anywhere with you? I have no idea who you are, for all I know you could turn me into the guards."
"I can offer you a safe haven, those that would keep you alive, in exchange for a service, but we can speak of that later. The point is, coming with me will save your life, but walking out that door, will condemn it."
I stare into his eyes, they're cool and confident. He could be setting me up for a fall, but something inside me is telling me to hear him out, to trust him. He's got a point; I'll almost certainly be killed if I try to make it alone. Whatever this man is offering, it's my best bet at survival. "I can't believe I'm doing this, but okay, I'll go with you."
The man's face lights up, and he claps his hands together in a jubilant fashion, "Marvelous! Well then, come now, let's not waste any more time." With that, he turns and strolls through the door. Still confused beyond all measure, I have no choice but to follow this obviously deranged man. I don't know where he's leading me, but my gut tells me that everything I know, is about to be changed.