The Elder Scrolls: Honor Bound
Disclaimer: I don't own Elder Scrolls All rights go to their respective people. I only own my OCs that make an appearance and the plot.
Quick Author's Note: Okay, I'm sorry this took so long, but I had a bit of writer's block. And we recently found out we have bed bugs, and so the entirety of the furniture in our apartment has to be moved to the center of the room, the carpet ripped up 12-14 inches from the baseboards, it needs to be sprayed, then in two weeks needs to be sprayed again, then in another two weeks it needs to be inspected, and then the carpet needs to be fixed which involves moving every piece of furniture OUT. It's a mess. There's a heat treatment they could've decided to do, which heats the apartment unit up to 150 degrees for two hours and kills everything in one go, no moving furniture or having to do it again, but the apartments are stupid and think that the bugs'll find a way over to other units when it starts getting too warm (mind you, these things are slow as shit). Ugh. Just insanity. That's this Thursday, and then the following Monday, my dad's going in for hernia surgery. Fun, fun, fun, I tell you - NOT. Anyway, updates will be even slower in the foreseeable future, mainly because it's an unsavory one.
Chapter 4: Lying Scrolls and Guard Regimes
11th Tirdas of Last Seed, 4E 261
Continent of Tamriel, Blackreach, City of Highgate
"Oh, Ashira, I couldn't…"
Across from me, the Cathay Khajiit frowned (well, as much of a frown as I could place on her, what with the muzzle and all), tail giving a harsh swish in what I could only place as frustration as this was the fifth consecutive time I'd refused her offer. A rumble emitted from the charcoal grey-furred woman, reminiscent to purring but a tad more agitated. While ordinarily her quasi-glaring turquoise eyes wouldn't have unnerved me, they did. I figured it had something to do with the small, yellow-eyed Alfiq poking her head around curiously that was nestled in the older Khajiit's arms. The small, pitch black quadruped was absolutely adorable, I couldn't deny that…but what Ashira was asking…
"Khajiit insists," my father's guard pressed, "The kitten's parents abandoned her. Ashira would take the kitten in, if she could. But this one cannot, and Ashira's friend just celebrated her day of birth, unless this one is mistaken. And Vesa can care for the kitten? It is…killing two stones with one bird, yes?"
I corrected automatically, eyes trained on the orphaned kitten, "It's two birds with one stone, Shira. And…I would suppose it would…Are you sure? About her parents, though? Do they…really not want her?" The questions kept pouring (probably much to Ashira's chagrin) but I couldn't stop them. I was curious and wanted to be absolutely sure…
"Yes, Khajiit is sure. The kitten's sire told Ashira himself that they had no use for a kitten with the restrictions of his offspring."
My teeth descended on my bottom lip in a nervous habit I found myself doing more and more of the older I got. Though I knew barely any, I was knowledgeable on enough Khajiiti culture to understand that, with the mental handicaps this nameless, mewling child had been born with, it was a godsend that she hadn't been killed within her first few months, let alone lasting eleven unscathed. Not that she'd been born completely retarded, Ashira had ensured, but she could only barely understand human speech and acted as demurely as any common house pet. Alfiqs were generally able to survive on their own, despite the fact that they couldn't communicate. This bat-faced Khajiit kitten I was being presented with unfortunately couldn't hope to at any point in her life, be it adult or otherwise. She behaved as any common house pet would, and in Khajiiti culture, it was considered a disgrace on the family.
Finally, after a few moments of contemplation, I heaved a sigh, holding out my arms expectantly, "Oh, alright. I'll take her…does she have a name?" Ashira gave what could only place as a cat-like grin, passing the smaller Khajiit over with a quick negative shake of her head. The kitten mewled with wide-eyed wonder once she was nestled comfortably, before pawing her way up to the long hair laying on my shoulder and…kneading at it? What? Her purring was louder than a Chaurus' angry chittering and the moment my father's guard heard it, she laughed throatily.
"No, she does not have a name. Though it looks like the kitten has warmed up to you already! Young Khajiit do that their mothers while nursing and oftentimes Alfiq continue as a way of showing their trust. It is a habit not easily broken."
Great, so this nameless creature already decided that it would latch onto me while I still wasn't sure about it. As the black cat continued suckling at my hair, I shifted her higher with the reasoning that if I was as unlikely to get her to stop as I thought I was, why not help her? Names shifted through my head, Dunmeri, Khajiiti (or what I knew of them, anyway), Bosmeri, Imperial, Nordic, Bretonic, Redguardian, even Altmeri. I couldn't very well leave her nameless, but I couldn't think of one…
The cat, still purring up a storm, pulled her face from where it was buried in my black hair and peered around, licking her chops like she'd just eaten a rare piece of meat. I watched as yellow eyes landed on a nearby pomegranate tree, one of the few brought to Blackreach after the Purge, where a Bosmeri woman was harvesting the fruits and digging out the seeds to sell in the market tomorrow. Almost as if a switch had been flipped, she leaped out of my arms as if she'd been burned and rushed over to the woman, pawing at her leg until she relinquished a few of the fleshy red seeds. Ashira and I exchanged a look of perpetual confusion, me taking solace in the fact that I wasn't the only one to find her behavior strange. It only took a moment for the Alfiq to devour the seeds and practically skip her way back to me, bat-esque face darkened even more if it was possible with pomegranate juice, rubbing her sticky cheek up against my leg and plopping her chubby body down at my feet with a contented mewl.
"Well she…," Ashira gaped, "likes pomegranate…?" It was more of an inquiry than a statement, and I questioned whether or not this Khajiit was as mentally challenged as her parents claimed with she mewed as if to agree.
A ridiculously wide grin split my face as I scooped her up into my arms again, her mewling at the shift but otherwise going along with it. I knew what to name her.
I chortled, "Persephone. That's what I'll name her. After that Cyrodiilic folk tale. At least, that's what an old Imperial man back in Cael always told us it was. Regardless, Persephone ate pomegranate seeds and became trapped. She seems to like them, and she's stuck with me, right? I think it fits."
My Khajiit friend quirked her eyebrow, looking quite comical with that expression on her face under the leather helmet she wore, crossing her now empty arms over the steel armor, "Ashira thinks that is…a strange name, for sure…but this one will not comment on it. Khajiit must be getting back. There are recruits that will not teach themselves."
"Alright," I nodded with a grin, "I'll see you later, then. Mother will want me back in Cael before too long." To my amusement, she bowed slightly back, tail swishing almost triumphantly.
Ashira purred, "This one wishes you a…happy birthday, yes? May your travels find you amongst the sands."
I looked down at the cat in my arms once the elder woman had walked away. Wide bat eyes looked back at me, a hyperness playing in their depths that made me realize that I'd probably just doomed myself. "Well, let's get you home, then. Mind my mother, she's the grumpy one, will you? She'll not be happy about this little arrangement." I only got a confused mewl in response.
11th Tirdas of Last Seed, 4E 261
Continent of Tamriel, Blackreach, Hall of Rumination
Feric Paurand leaned against the doorway to the Hall of Rumination where the Order was in the process of being permanently established, watching as Lord Veric's daughter conversed with one of the Khajiiti guards over another, smaller quadruped. It appeared he wasn't the only one attentive over the Dunmer, as the same Imperial boy from before (Marcus, was it?) was watching from by the Debate Hall. In fact, all of the guards around Highgate were watching the heiress with aptly trained eyes as she argued with the Cathay. For what, Feric could only guess. But he had his suspicions, and those suspicions were enough to make him rooted in his spot. They were enough to make him wish to speak with Irbrand once more about issues the other Breton should never have been aware of. Secrets that never should have escaped the hands of the Order that the Breton apparently knew.
So lost in thought was he, the acknowledgement barely registered when Maeve came to stand beside him, "You see it, too, then?" Her accent flowed over his ears like silk, as always, but there was rigidity to her tone. A terseness that Feric didn't doubt laced his own voice as well.
"Yes," he growled out, "it's blatantly obvious. But that damn fool is too thick-headed in his ways and determined to change what he doesn't have a hope to." The Nord flicked her gaze to where the throne room resided and then bobbed her head in agreement, armor knocking together softly as she shifted to lean against the opposite side of the door.
"He wishes to place the girl on a throne that holds no influence," she shook her head. "A fool's errand, I agree."
Feric waved an arm at Ilavesa, who was now staring incredulously at the Alfiq as it trotted back from an impromptu snack of pomegranate, "That girl has the bloody potential to be the only thing standing in their way. And the soddin' half-wit knows." His own accent was showing through with a twang that he thought he'd rid himself of back during his College days. Maeve shot him a look of skepticism, eyebrow quirked and poised as if ready to strike with words of question. It made him somewhat angry, but he could understand her scrutiny all the same.
"You mean to say…that is ridiculous. She is an elf, Feric. She cannot possibly –"
"No," he corrected absently, "not entirely. Her father is human. She has enough in her for it to be a possibility. And they were just speaking of her birthday being recently. Today, if what I heard was right."
Maeve tried pessimistically again to disprove him, "But the prophecy said that they would be born during the 2nd to the 9th, not the 11th…You are implying Laloria was for nothing? All those innocent children were ordered dead for nothing? Would the Scroll really lie?"
"To fool the inevitable end, anything is possible. Especially from one of the Elder Scrolls. What do we really understand of them? They seem neutral…but are they really, Maeve?" The Nord looked over to her left where Feric was standing sharply.
"You are saying the Scroll knew the Thalmor would find that part of the prophecy and lied about it? You think they are really that sentient?" asked the warrior. At the werewolf's nod of affirmation, the blond heaved a heavy sigh. "Have you told Neldam of your thoughts?"
Feric scowled, a small rumble emitting from his chest that made him seem more feral than he usually appeared, "No. I wouldn't tell that skeever-brained, bloodthirsty s'wit something that I wasn't absolutely sure of. The Scrolls are a likely culprit for misleading information, correct, but the Scrolls do not speak for themselves. Moth Priests who scribed the prophecy are as likely a culprit as any. Or even someone in the Order who held it before it was lost. We are an order of spies, girl, never discount the possibility of secrets within our own ranks."
The illusionist rolled her eyes, crossing her arms and pushing off of the stone doorframe she'd been leaning on, "You still need to tell Neldam. And soon. Before it is too late. He might want to induct Ilavesa into the order." Feric almost laughed at that as the aforementioned Dunmeri girl waved to her Khajiit friend and began walking off, completely oblivious to the entourage of several guards that followed her in the shadows. Somehow, he doubted the sentiment as easy a task as it sounded.
"Veric has the girl watched twenty-four/seven," he admitted, shaking his head. "He'll fight worse than a mother sabre cat when her cubs are threatened to keep her out of anything that could make her leave the settlements. It won't be as easy as you're implying to get her under our wing, I'm afraid."
Maeve only shrugged, "That does not mean we will not try." With that, she walked off to undoubtedly find Sjard, leaving the Breton werewolf to his thoughts. Absently, the greying man reached up and fiddled with the amulet hidden beneath his robes atop the armor also placed there. A wave of fatigue washed over him, and suddenly, the ebony shortswords at his waist and the leather pauldrons on his cloth-clad shoulders seemed tiringly heavier.
Yes, try they would indeed…but success was still so tangibly far from their grasp.
12th Middas of Last Seed, 4E 261
Continent of Tamriel, Blackreach, Village of Cael
"Are you sure it's…sane?"
From where I stood in my little two-room stone hut chopping vegetables for some obscure stew my mother was stirring, I froze, sputtering an incredulous glare at my aforementioned parent, "Mother!" Nadene abandoned the large spoon she was using to mix the contents of the meal and raised her finely wrinkled hands in a sign of surrender. Her crimson eyes were wide in defense, but mine were wider in anger. By my ankles, Persephone gave a sad mewl at the haphazard accusation, burying her bat face under her paws as if she'd been injured. This had been going on for hours now.
"What?" Mother demanded. "It's quite possible! It would do you well to get rid of the blasted thing now, lest I wake one morning to find my daughter's face clawed off by that miniature beast! Don't let its looks deceive you, child. It's planning something, I know it!"
I resisted throwing my knife at the older Dunmer, "For the tenth and final time, Mother, she has a name! And I'm absolutely positive she won't try anything. You hurt her feelings; you should apologize." As if to prove my point, the Khajiit peeked a golden eye out from under her paw and meowed lightly. Mother, however, shot a glare, and Persephone quickly retreated back with a low growl of displeasure.
"I'll not apologize to that rabid, blundering - !"
A sound out of the ordinary caught my ear and I quickly held my own hand up, shushing my mother effectively, though not without a glare to rival all glares. I brushed the look off, quite used to them by now after years of receiving them. Persephone perked her head up, sniffing the air almost tentatively with a predatory look gleaming in her eyes. I let the Khajiit investigate to the best of her ability as I bustled around and shut of the gas lanterns that gave light to my perhaps not-so-humble abode. What I heard had been scurrying. On the roof.
Nothing normal, that was for sure, and I was determined to find out what. I guess one could say I was still paranoid that Persephone's parents really hadn't wanted to give her up.
"Ilavesa, what in Stendarr's name – ?"
I held my hand out again, "Shush, Mother. Something's wrong…I'm going to find out what, and in the name of all that is holy under the Dragon, stay here." A pointed look told the priestess to do as I asked, but even then I highly doubted Mother would stay put for long. She had a habit of following me into dangerous situations when I specifically asked her not to. Cael needed her more than it needed me.
Snapping my fingers to make Persephone follow me (hey, those claws could come in handy, I'd admit, and she seemed willing enough to follow a few instructions), I advanced towards the door through the perpetual darkness that enveloped my small home in the absence of the ancient gas lanterns. Nothing but my heart rushing through my ears, Mother's breathing, and the irritating sound of the Nirnroots echoing from below my bedroom window permeated the air, but I knew better than to believe the silence.
Because even though Mother claimed me a hopeless case, I did know some magic. Detect Life told me that there was a figure on my roof, and gods damn it if I wasn't going to figure out who it was!
I thought better of the door at the last minute and instead veered towards the window with the Nirnroots, slipping out of it and into the blue haze that was Blackreach. The cat hopped out after me, but I paid no heed as my crimson gaze quickly scanned up the building for the pink aura that designated a life source. Cha-ching! Found it! With a grin, I gave a few more glances on the stone for foot and handholds before placing the ebony Alfiq on my shoulders and hauling myself silently as I could up to the roof…
…only to be tackled down onto the tiles…
A yelp escaped me as the Khajiit on my back took a tumble with a (painful) scramble of claws. I didn't have time to chance a look to see if she landed on the ground alright before I felt myself being pinned. Oh blood and bloody ashes! Gritting my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut in preparation for the pain I was sure to feel in a moment, I jolted my head up towards where I anticipated my attacker to be. BAM! There was a muffled groan as my forehead cracked straight into some unlucky bloke's nose before the weight toppled off of me. A headache pulsed uncomfortably, but it was surely nothing compared to the nose I felt break under my strike. I flipped myself onto the idiot who decided I was a perfect target to spy on in a well-initiated turn of tables, eager to discover an identity, only to find…
"Marcus!?" My jaw dropped. The Imperial whose waist I was straddling groaned, hand covering the cartilage that, from the looks of things, was already spewing blood. The plain steel and fur armor he was wearing was standard for my father's guards and the equally as regulation steel longsword was digging uncomfortably into my thigh. I ignored the weapon in favor for the brunette who'd ambushed me.
The guard wheezed, "Lorkhan's Eyes, woman, what is your skull made of – dragon bones? Gods, we should send you after the Chaurus. Just crack 'em with your head a few times…" His words were, under any other circumstances, humorously muffled due to his bleeding nasal passages, but I glared nonetheless. Marcus continued to moan pitifully about his "poor abused nose" and my "head harder than Chaurus chitin" before I blew the hair out of my face with a long, exasperated sigh.
"What in Stendarr's name are you doing here?" I half yelled, snapping the Imperial back to reality. "Did Father send you to spy on me or something?"
The guilty look said it all, "No…"
I glared, "Oh, sod off with the lies. What do you take me for, an idiot? I knew he was up to something like this when you followed me during the meeting. How long has he been designating a guard for me? Well?" There was a brief glaring contest, hazel meeting red in an attempt to force the other to back down. But I was having none of that, and within a few moments, Marcus' eyes lost that victorious glint and garnered a shimmer of defeat.
Though, the answer was certainly not what I had been expecting, "Several years." My eyes bugged. I'd been expecting weeks, perhaps even months. But years? Wasn't that a little extreme?
"Years? How did I…but I never…why?"
Marcus shrugged as well as he could in his position, "Don't ask me. I was just following orders. I'm actually shocked you never notice anyone until now." I barked out a laugh despite myself, ignoring Persephone's concerned mewls that I was now beginning to hear from the ground below.
"Well, I guess that just makes you a very terrible stalker, now doesn't it? If I caught you so easily?"
He flushed a downright vibrant shade of scarlet – under normal circumstances it probably would've been utterly hilarious. "I wasn't stalking. I was guarding under explicit instruction. There's a difference, milady." At the title, I pursed my lips. Well, it wouldn't to be called that, now would it? I absolutely hated any sort of title that put me in any sort of station…
"Come on, up with you now," murmured myself before I had a chance to rethink my actions. I hopped off of the poor guy and held out a hand to help him up. After peering at my grey appendage as if it was going to burn him, the idiotic human carefully accepted the offer and I hauled him to his feet. "If you're going to be 'guarding' me under 'explicit instructions', then I would prefer you not hide away like a stalker. And call me Ilavesa – milady makes me feel like someone's grandmother."
Marcus looked at me as if I'd grown two heads, "Umm…o-kay…?" I sighed. It was a start, a least.
I placed one hand on my hip and motioned towards the ground with the other, "Well, come on then. You can guard me just as well from inside the house. Better, actually. Now let's go before Persephone wakes the whole village and Mother starts thinking I was brutally murdered by my cat. Besides, I want to see if she knew anything of this little guarding regime."
Final Words: So, this was somewhat of a filler. I need to establish some things in Blackreach before I can move on to the more plot-ish stuff, but some of it is beginning to shine through.
On another note, just out of curiosity, if you could give each character a theme song, what would it be?
Thanks and R&R!