Hey all! This here is a preview for one of the characters in an upcoming fic I have called "Snow Elf".
There will be five of these in total.
Morning. Of the the two major parts of a day, of the two extremes in twenty four hours, morning was the most sought after. It was a sign of progression and survival if one were to rise one morning and successfully do so twenty four hours later.
To Fat Cat, the Thieves Guild Master, it was the part of the day least looked forward to. The part where after meager hours of sleep he would have to rise and organize his guild.
"Fat Cat, did you check out the job I picked up for you?" His eyes flicked towards the man who spoke to him, Brynjolf, as he entered the Ragged Flagon. Fat Cat took a seat at the bar table and nodded as he skillfully fought back a yawn.
"Indeed I did. Sounds promising enough, but Calcelmo isn't an easy man to steal from and we've hit him before,"
"He's got his hands on some rare dwemer parts, each piece worth a small fortune. With the size of his museum so large I was thinking you, me, and Vex could hit it tonight,"
"You know just as well as I do we can be in Markarth in mere hours if we wanted to," It was true. Thanks to layouts of certain buildings and knowledge of certain underground passages the thieves had perfect roam of Skyrim. Fat Cat glanced over his shoulder and saw that Vex and Delvin were listening in, like they always did. Not together of course, Vex still had her teen feet rule, but they were both doing the same thing at the same time.
"Take Delvin instead, I've a private job tonight,"
"Ah, that one. Won't it be quick?"
"Never safe to assume?"
"Really? Not even when it comes to you?" Vekel the Man, the barkeep, decided to butt in with a toothy grin. Fat Cat chuckled and nodded his head.
"Not even me. Besides, it will be more interesting if you take Delvin,"
"I'm too efficient,"
"Ey," Delvin piped up, obviously deciding it was better to for-go his eavesdropping in favor of defending himself, "That's uncalled for,"
Laughter filled the Ragged Flagon that morning. Brynjolf accepted the deal and decided that Delvin would tag along instead. A lot of gold would be made, a lot of stolen fortunes for Thieves Guild.
While the thieves stole their fortunes, Fat Cat would return his.
Night. Of the two major parts of a day, of the two extremes in twenty four hours, night is by far the more mysterious and dangerous for men and mer. The light of the moon is dim, and so the shadows it casts are misleading. Concealing. Anything can use the lack of light to hide and wait for their prey. A victim to feed their pleasures and fill their pockets.
One woman, an Imperial in Riften, was the night's mark. The way she walked screamed "outsider" to anyone native to Riften. Her stance was too confident and her gaze was soft. Her eyes had no focus on the shadows or the alleyways. Perhaps she trusted the corrupt guards that patrolled the streets? It would be just one of her many mistakes.
As she passed by one alley she was grabbed, mouth first. Her immediate gasp of shock followed by her scream of fear were muffled. In one swift movement she was dragged into the darkness, far from the eyes of the nonchalant guards. Her eyes flicked about in terror, from one scarred face to another, as she was tossed against a building wall.
"Quiet woman," One man snarled. His breath, like the others, reeked of drink. "Quiet and just…let this happen," The woman's eyes widened as the man's hands went to his belt, the other men around him laughing quietly as they watched. She crawled back against the wall, a feeble but instinctive attempt at escape, as the man drew near. There had to be hope for her somewhere. There had to be an escape from the horrors about to befall her.
It was then that her eyes searched the shadows. It was there she found her answer.
One of the thugs was struck at the base of his neck. He never got the chance to know what struck him as he was unconscious when his face met the ground. His fellow thugs, the seven of them that remained, glanced over to him in curiosity, then returned their focus to the woman: they figured he had passed out. How wrong they were.
The next thug was struck in the sternum, a fierce fist that fired at him like a sabre cat at an elk. The thug closest to him spun 'round to meet this unseen foe but was clotheslined. He hit the ground unconscious, just like the previous two, but now everyone could see who did it. The woman could see her savior.
A cape so black it was as if it were weaved of the night itself. Beneath it was armour that glimmered brilliant silver. The man who wore the night was built well, easily the same size as the other Nord thugs he had begun to assault, but no face could be seen; for he wore a mask and a hood, only eyes of moonlight visible beneath such concealment.
"Picked a bad time to get lost friend," one of the thugs growled out a taunt as they threw a punch at the man. The fist was caught, twisted like an old canis root, and thrown over the man's shoulder. It dragged the thug with it.
Clear for the offensive the man shot towards the one whose belt was half undone. This one was smart enough to throw his hands up in defense, though it could be argued that he was "stupid" enough instead. The man put his fists together and brought them down on the thug's defense, breaking his arms apart at once and leaving him vulnerable. An elbow shot up to meet the thug's face, the same arm hooking around the thug's neck immediately after, and a knee was launched into his gut. As soon as the knee forced the thug's feet off the ground the man pushed his arm down, flipping the drunk thug clear over his leg. His head snapped back from the force and hit the ground hard, rendering him dazed, but conscious enough to see the same knee come down on his face.
He saw nothing after that.
When the man stood and turned around to face the other three he noticed they had drawn weapons, basic wooden axes with iron blades, in preparation. One thug, frightened and nervous, charged first and let out a battle cry as he charged. Thus began to time limit for the man in black.
The fun began then.
A hand whipped at the bandit's weapon wrist. A single twist was rewarded with a sickening snap and the thug cried out as his axe fell to the ground. The man spun and threw his back into the thug as he put another hand to grip the thug's wrist. With a sharp tug down the thug's shoulder popped out, the pain more than enough to incapacitate him. When the man released the thug he fell back first and whimpered in agony.
Both came at the same time, axes swinging. It was a smart tactic, but, it should have been five that charged him and not two. Maybe then they'd have had a chance…or not. Fortune favored the man of night.
The first axe that tried to greet the man did not reach him, for he pulled back in a fashion akin to a serpent. Then, like a serpent, he whipped forward and struck the thug in his face with his left hand. With his right he grabbed the back of the thug's thigh. It took one pull and the thug met the ground back of the head first. The second thug was too slow and suffered a fierce kick to the stomach. He doubled over perfectly into the following uppercut, the force of the fist against his chin ending his consciousness for the night.
At last the man of night relaxed. His gaze shot up to the moon swiftly and instantly he felt pleased with his accomplishment: he managed to beat his sixty second record by seven. The irony was not unappreciated.
The pale orange light of torches drew near, followed by the stomping sound of boots. The Riften guard was finally on their way to the alley where they had heard a man cry out. To the woman, the would-be victim, it was not a relief. For the moment before they arrived she, in awe, had watched her savior melt into the darkness without so much as a word.
"Thank you…" she whispered.
"Fat Cat!" The nickname greeted him more violently than he'd have liked. Clad in black leather he stumbled past his similarly dressed friend and towards the Ragged Flagon, the bar of the sewers. The front to the Thieves Guild. "Where've you been lad? You missed a damn good run last night,"
"Figures our own guild master skipped on us, probably out drinking at the Bee and Barb with the other saps of this city," The pale haired Vex had harsh words, but her smirk was closer to friendly than contemptuous. Not by much, granted.
"Or perhaps he was, eh, reintroducing himself to Haelga?" Delvin questioned, a wide grin on his face as the others burst out in laughter.
The chatter was loud in the Flagon that day and though Fat Cat had failed to get but an hour's sleep the night before he eagerly listened to the recollection of the prior night. The thieves were proud of their skills and achievements, after all, and to hear of them was an honor in its own way. The way Delvin embellished and Vex rolled her eyes, Brynjolf's choice of words and Tonilia's bluntness. They were colorful, all of them.
"You know…" It was dusk again. Many of the thieves had left to go earn their coin. The others had taken to sleep having just returned from earning coin. But not Fat Cat, and not Karliah. "You don't have to keep doing this,"
"You've given back enough,"
"Yet I take more every day,"
The Dunmer sighed. She was a stubborn one despite her admirable adaptability, yet the current Guild Master, the third Nightingale, was on a different level entirely. "There's no code set out by Nocturnal to do this. Rest, enjoy yourself,"
His black leather was gone. Now he wore the moonlight and wrapped it with the night. "This isn't about Nocturnal,"
"Then why?" The Dunmer stepped forward, her confusion clear in her eyes.
"Fortune is to be shared,"
"Why do you do this to yourself every night? Why do you hide it from the thieves?" At last Fat Cat paused, just before the ladder that led to the surface. It was almost hilarious to him that she asked the same questions as her; the head of those death dealers.
"The thieves wouldn't understand," He began, "They think luck is the moment where their hand touches pocket. If they get coin, it favored them, if they get caught, it did not. It's not that simple," The hood was thrown over his head.
"Then enlighten me,"
"Thieves take for themselves. We do this whether we get caught or we succeed. There is no favored fortune for the people, they remain the victims. And yet what else could we do? We are thieves. We made the mistake to become thieves, and the world will never forget. The Divines will never forget. Nocturnal will never forget,"
The Dunmer's eyes widened, then fell to the ground. "I see. You are driven, but, you are doomed,"
"That may be so," The mask of silver went on his face now, "Or I am fortune driven. To serve Nocturnal is to become luck itself. I take from the people by gathering jobs and giving orders by the day. At night, I return the favor to the people. I balance the scales,"
Karliah was silent this time. It was clear he could not be stopped by her, only by himself, and that was not the night he would do so.
So without another word he scaled up the ladder and emerged from darkness into darkness; for he was a brilliant light and the black of light. He was both sides of the same coin.
He was Shade: The Nightingale.