An idea that's been hovering around in my head for a little while, and I figured I might as well get it out on the page to stop it bothering me. Enjoy!

The Trouble with being a Dragon Priest

The ancient wooden doors presented no hindrance whatsoever to the heavy boot that slammed into them, swinging open quite dramatically before an ancient, poorly tended hinge broke and one of them collapsed to the ground, completely ruining the effect.

The six-foot, muscle bound figure with the battleaxe looked at the fallen door and tutted slightly before bracing his weapon and advancing into the great stone chamber. Mildewed pillars reared around him, and there was a distinctive smell of musty damp that reminded him of his grandmother.

From the wrought iron sarcophagus at the centre of the room there was a rumbling, deep and ominous. Its lid vibrated, and then slowly began to rise before it slid to one side, and from within a figure emerged. There was an eldritch glow from beneath the tattered robes it wore, and an ornate metal mask glowered disapprovingly at the figure disapprovingly. Skeletal hands emerged from dark blue sleeves, wrapped in bandages, and as it rose, it looked upon the intruder and said; "What the bloody hell have you done to my front door?"

The axe-wielding adventurer had been prepared for a lot of things in his expedition down into the ancient tomb, including a dramatic, hard battle against a powerful mage. What he hadn't been expecting, however, was something like this.

In reply, he said slightly shamefacedly; "I…I kicked it."

"And why on Nirn did you do that?" the dragon priest demanded.

"There didn't seem to be any other way," the adventurer pointed out.

"What are you talking about, you great axe-wielding clodhopper?" the priest snapped irately. "There's a bell right by the door!"

"Alright," the adventurer said. "There's no need to be like that..."

"You just kicked down my door!" came the furious reply. "Frankly, 'clodhopper' is going easy on you, you vandal!"

The adventurer glanced back at the archway that he had entered, and it was only then that he noticed the small doorbell just on its left side, a slightly battered plaque beneath it saying 'please ring.' Just underneath that was a mat with the cheer message of 'Tomb Sweet Tomb.'

"Sorry," he mumbled.

The dragon priest folded his arms and shook his head disapprovingly.

"Well at least tell me what you're doing here," he said. "I'd like some explanation as to why you decided it would be a good idea to kick down my front door."

"I was sent here," the adventurer replied. "Some of people at Meridia's Temple want me to…one minute."

He took a slip of parchment from his pocket and read out; "'Send the undead fiend Vokun back to the grave forever.' I'm guessing you're him."

"That I am," the dragon priest said. "Bloody Meridia worshippers; they send people to break into my home and disturb my rest for no other reason apart from the fact that I'm here and they call me the fiend. The damn cheek of it!"

Vokun shook his head, before he said to the adventurer; "Ask anyone around here, anyone, about anything fiendish I've done, and you'll get nothing; I've just been quite happily minding my own business here for the last few thousand years."

"Look, I'm just getting paid for this," the adventurer said slightly uncomfortable. "It's nothing personal."

"Oh, it's never anything personal," Vokun grumbled. "It just galls me that the ones who go around indiscriminately dispatching hutment have the nerve to say that I'm the bad guy."

"Well, you did work for the dragons," the adventurer pointed out. "That's pretty evil."

"Yes, but it was a draconic tyranny at the time," Vokun replied. "Let me tell you that the job market at the time was pretty much a choice between working for them or getting set on fire and eaten. And I bet you that those self-righteous hypocrites over in Meridia's shrine would be doing exactly the same thing if they'd found themselves in my shoes."

Vokun harrumphed.

"And here I was thinking a nice, peaceful eternal undeath would be quite a pleasant retirement plan," he continued. "And yet here you are, stomping around in all your armour, coming here to kill me and no doubt steal all of my things; I know the papers seem a bit sensationalist these days but I'm feeling more and more inclined to agree with them about all their talking about Shattered Skyrim. And just two months ago Harry was saying about how he'd had to deal with a break-in as well."

The adventurer frowned, before he interjected; "Wait, sorry, Harry?"

"Oh, one of the other dragon priests," Vokun said. "Full name of Hevnoraak, but it's a bit of a mouthful so we all just call him Harry. Anyway, he was saying back in our poker game that someone had had the cheek to break into his tomb and kill all his draugr just a few months back as well."

There was a pause, before Vokun asked; "You've killed all my draugr, haven't you?"

The adventurer shuffled his feet slightly shamefacedly, suddenly finding the paved floor beneath his feet an immensely fascinating topic of study.

"Well?"

"Er…"

"You did," Vokun said. "I knew it. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!"

"In my defence, they did attack me," the adventurer said

"Well of course they attacked you," Vokun said waspishly. "How do you think you reacted if someone in full plate armour blundered into your home brandishing a weapon with the intent of stealing everything that isn't nailed down?"

"I…I never thought of it like that," the adventurer said contemplatively.

"Nobody ever does," Vokun replied, a hint of the mournful on his voice. "And, of course, I'll have to go all the way through there again, fix the traps, resurrect all my draugr and reset the puzzles just for another unwanted visitor to come through and ruin everything. This used to be a nice neighbourhood, you know, just a few millennia ago; there was none of this tomb-robbing business, and people had a bit of respect, but now? Do you know that this is my third break-in in as many centuries? The insurance company has actually taken away my home insurance; apparently I'm in a too 'high-risk' household! And do you have any idea how expensive all the repairs I have to do whenever one of you people are?"

"Er…very?"

"Very doesn't even come close!" Vokun declared. "And ever since I was declared uninsurable I'm having a really hard time making ends meet."

The hovering collection of clothing, suspended by black magic and some rather nifty special effects, slumped despairingly.

"It just gets so hard sometimes!" he wailed. "I have people trying to kill me and steal my things all the time and then they say that I'm the bad guy! Is a nice, quiet retirement in eternal undeath really that much to ask?"

There was a quiet moaning sound underneath the metal mask, and after a moment the interloper into Vokun's tomb realised he was crying. Casting around, his eyes alighted on a roll of grave linen, and he handed to the Dragon Priest, who blew his nose with a sound like someone playing a clarinet without its reed in.

"I'm sorry," Vokun said slightly tearfully. "It just gets a bit much."

"No, it's fine. I should probably go," the adventurer replied. "D'you…do you want any gold to, you know, pay for the door?"

"Oh, it's fine," Vokun said waving his hand. "I'll fix it up myself later."

Still feeling slightly guilty, the adventurer left the tomb, stepping back into the corridors with his head hung. Thus, by the time he realised that a priest of Meridia had stabbed him in the back of the head with a dagger he was much too dead to try and do anything about it.

Vokun looked at the corpse as it lay on the floor, before he said to the priest; "Y'know this scam is really good, isn't it?"

"It is, yeah," the priest replied, prodding the corpse. "I mean, if you think about it, it's perfect; we send them here going after an undead monster, just as we would, and nobody can blame us if they can't defend themselves, can they?"

"Nope," Vokun said. "So, fifty-fifty on the loot on his corpse, then?"

"Of course," the priest of Meridia said, hefting the axe. "Ooh, ebony; I can get a good price for this."

Vokun nodded, before he said; "So, when do you think we can do this again?"

"Well, there's been some do-gooder traipsing about lately who seems keen on fighting for feudalism, monarchy and mum's fresh sweetrolls," the priest said. "Could probably rope them in pretty easily."

Vokun nodded, before he said; "What's their name?"

"Don't know, but they've got some funny little title," the priest of Meridia said. "Do…do…Dovahkiin, that's it."

"What's that mean?" Vokun asked.

"No idea. Still, you want me to send them along?"

"Sure, why not? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?"

FIN