KaNack held out his palm and cast a fire spell at the fire pit to keep it burning. The small area of Shrouded Grove was a perfect place to rest as well as prepare for the grueling events ahead of him. He knew that he had been doing everything wrong, that he should have been taking advantage of the fact that he had family and friends that were willing to band together to rid them all of this scourge that was the Morag Tong.
"We should have done this sooner," the Argonian said softly to the other three resting around the fire. Maybe if we had all met Othrelos back in Falkreath, we might have ended him and more of us would still be alive. Perhaps Onmund and Shaleez would not have fallen to those murderers."
"You can't change the past," Vytalas insisted as he allowed a stick he was holding to catch on fire and began to playfully draw circles in the air with the lit piece of wood. "What matters is that we're finally going to put all this chaos to a stop. These executioners have tried to kill the Dark Brotherhood and now they will pay for it. They messed with the wrong family."
Dro'marash had piece of wood in his hands as well, but was using it to sharpen his claws. The Khajiit's ears were folded back as he thought about the executioners and all the pain they had caused. The alchemist had been looking forward to ending the life of an executioner ever since he left Winterhold. They had murdered his dear sister Shaleez and they would die for it.
"Dro will not let you or Sithis down, Listener." He shot the reptile a look as he thought about the one who was to be his ally in the battle. "He will also not let his comrade fall."
"I am not worried, Dro," the mage chuckled lightly. "He is one of the toughest men I know. He's the one who is not going to allow you to fall." Brelyna leaned against her husband making the mage let out a gentle sigh as he rested his head against hers. "We can do this, Brelyna. We've faced a great wizard before."
"Yes, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was Lucien who killed Wuunferth," the Mer said quietly as she allowed her fingers to linger in the blaze of the flames.
"I was talking about Ancano," the Listener explained as he pulled away and stared sadly into the fire.
KaNack normally would have been pacing and restless due to anticipation for the upcoming fight. The sudden abandonment by his guardian spirit, however, was affecting him and he was still finding it hard to accept. After so many years of having Lucien by his side, it felt like the family was incomplete. Everyone from the sanctuary was there, but without the Spectral Assassin, it left a feeling of emptiness in the pit of his soul.
The other members of the Dark Brotherhood were more than a little aware of how difficult it was for him going into this without the protective oversight of the Dark Brotherhood spirit. They tried to keep their Listener from focusing too much on their missing spirit and more on the upcoming combat. KaNack was going to need to be prepared if him and Brelyna were to survive their encounter with Othrelos.
"Dro has heard stories about the Winterhold Five and their accomplishments during the war," the alchemist interjected as he wrapped his coat around him tighter, shivering from the bitter chill. "You will be victorious."
Brelyna smiled as she held up the small golden amulet that was hanging from around her neck. Both she and her husband wore the emblems of the Winterhold Five, ready to once again fight those they cared about and what they believed in.
A light whistling suddenly sounded from the dense trees causing all four of the companions to be on their guard. The Dark Brotherhood leader's eyes narrowed and he sucked in a deep breath.
"LAAS YAH NIR."
One of his most silent Shouts, the Argonian's Thu'um did not cause the approaching enemies to be on their guard. KaNack could see five forms surrounding them and slowly making their approach to the small campsite. Four were on the ground and one was in the trees and moving much faster than the others.
"The Morag Tong is here," the Argonian growled as he and the others rose to their feet. "They don't suspect a thing."
Dro'marash scampered over to the mouth of the Shrouded Grove cave and poked his head inside. "Dro hopes that you have all prepared yourselves."
The Listener had planned accordingly and knew that eventually the Morag Tong would start following the first party from a distance. Once the executioners had left Dawnstar, it was only a matter of the remaining members of the family being transported to Shrouded Grove by the red dovah, Odahviing. Even when taking a flight path that would keep them out of sight of the Morag Tong, the remaining Brotherhood members traveled much faster and arrived well over an hour before any of the others. While waiting for the first party to arrive, Nazir had the others hide in the cave that was located next to what was to be the designated campsite.
Kaie, ever the stealthy one, kept to the trees rather than stay in the cave. The Breton wanted to be sure to alert the rest of her family as soon as the warlock and the rest of his killers started to approach their camp. The Dark Brotherhood was not going to be ambushed by anyone that night.
Nazir shoved the feline out of his way as he left the cave, Babette and Cicero following close behind.
"Don't think that just because I've got a few more wrinkles than you that I can't still swing my scimitar," the Redguard grumbled as he joined the rest of the Dark Brotherhood members by the fire. Soon, practically every member of the Dawnstar Sanctuary was surrounding the large fire.
"Cicero has been just itching to kill again," the jester snickered as wrapped an arm around the shoulder of the feline. "He may not have been able to slay a cat, but he will work with one to send an executioner to the Void."
The Listener crossed his arms as he scanned the young and old faces around him. These were more than just his followers, these were his family. Alone, any of them could fall to the skilled blades of the Morag Tong, but together they just might have the upper hand.
"Remember what I told you all before leaving Dawnstar," the Argonian started quietly. "Don't try to fight any of these killers alone. They have slandered the name of the Dark Brotherhood and are responsible for the deaths of many of our beloved brothers and sisters." KaNack turned to face the woods, focusing on the red silhouettes that continued to prowl closer. "Work as one and make sure that their souls are sent to Sithis to suffer for all the pain that they have caused us."
KaNack pointed in four different directions to guide the other members of his family in the direction of the executioners who believed that they still could not be seen and had the upper hand in the ambush. "The warlock is in the center. Brelyna and I will handle Othrelos. The rest of you spread out and surround your prey. The Morag Tong will regret the day they decided to cross the followers of Sithis."
"Let's kill someone!" the Fool of Hearts cried out before rushing off into the dark forest with the red and crimson Khajiit close behind.
Babette walked over to the mage and looked up at him with a twinkle in her eyes. "I hope you know what you are getting into, KaNack," the unchild said quietly. "You know that wizard is not going to fall easily."
"Neither shall we," the Black Hand leader insisted darkly as he kept his eyes focused on the red cloud that he knew was the Dunmer sorcerer. "Make sure that the old man doesn't break a hip out there, Babette."
"Make sure YOU don't end up cracking another horn," the Redguard snorted as he unsheathed his scimitar. "Babette, my girl, retirement's been great, and this most likely is the last chance I will ever get to kill. So try and make it last so that I can have some fun as well."
"I would never deny you the glory of a good murder, old friend," Babette smirked. The two then hurried off into the forest as well, vanishing into the shadows.
Vytalas pulled his ebony bow from his back and his red eyes scowled hatefully in the distance. "I don't care what happens out there, so long as I get to make Dinya suffer."
"Well, go then, Vytalas," Brelyna stated as she gently took her husband's hand. "Do whatever you must to keep yourself and the others alive."
"I will not let you or the Dark Brotherhood down," the archer hissed before flying off to pursue his gray skinned prey.
The female mage turned to KaNack with a hint of concern in her red eyes. "Shouldn't he have waited for Kaie?" the Dark Elf asked.
"Kaie will be there waiting for him, don't worry. No one is going to be facing any executioner alone." His head lowered as he squeezed Brelyna's hand. "Are you ready, my love?"
KaNack held his head up proudly and his hands lit into small flames that hardly affected the fire resistance of the elf standing beside him. He leaned down to press his lips to his beloved Mer's temple before facing the direction of where he would find the ancient warlock.
"For Onmund then?"
"For Onmund," the Dunmer agreed before the two hurried off to face the one who had been responsible for all their pain and all of the cruel losses across Skyrim. It was time to make the Morag Tong regret coming back from the dead.
Beem-Ja's yellow eyes narrowed as he continued to prowl forward in the snow towards the Shrouded Grove cave. The message that had been left for the Morag Tong had provided the executioners with the exact location of the Dark Brotherhood's campsite. With the element of surprise in their favor, it was going to be a massacre. The reptile's grip on the hilt of his ebony sword tightened as he continued deeper into the woods.
His fellow executioners had spread out in order to surround the small camp and prevent any chance for the assassins to escape and this pleased the Argonian to no end. The Khajiit, Ra'jiir, had been one of his closest friends growing up in the war torn country of Morrowind. The cat races were rare and uncommon and the white and gray feline someone had separated from his people and ended up an adoptive brother to the blue Argonian. They played together, trained together, and starved together as it was hard to make ends meet in the ravaged land of the Dark Elves.
It was Othrelos who approached them and made a promise that if they devoted themselves to him they would be part of something huge and never again would know the sensation of going a day without eating. Imagine the Argonian's frustration when it seemed that once they traveled to Skyrim, he had almost immediately separated the two insisting that the reptile's skills were better and Ra'jiir was too quick to act and could not be trusted to infiltrate one of the many guilds in Skyrim. Perhaps if the sorcerer had kept them together, the Khajiit would not have met such a gruesome end in Dawnstar. The honor of the Morag Tong no longer mattered to the marsh-dweller; he was now out for blood.
The scaled executioner paused when he thought he heard snow crunching and lowered to the ground, peering at the land around him. The Dark Brotherhood's campsite was less than a quarter of a mile away, there was no possibility that the assassins knew where they were or that they had come. The Argonian tensed when he heard a hiss that was all too familiar to him. One does not spend that much time with a Khajiit and not learn that exact sounds they produced. The executioner rolled to the side and held up his sword, blocking the swinging strike of the black and crimson assassin of the Brotherhood.
"Wretched reptile," the feline growled. "Dro will send you to the Void."
Beem-Ja shoved his sword forward knocking the Khajiit back a few steps. This was the Listener's alchemist, he relied on toxins to kill, not his strength.
"You're a discredit to your own race, cat!" the reptile spat at Dro bitterly as he swung his sword at the swift assassin's heard. The alchemist tumbled to the side and crouched into a pouncing position, his tail swishing with anticipation and his ears flat against his head.
"And you are not even a fraction of the Argonian the Listener is!"
The Morag Tong member could see that the assassin's blade was glistening; it had been coated in a toxic poison. He would have to be on guard so as to not get so much as a nick on his body. Baring his sharp teeth in a snarl, Beem-Ja began to skulk towards the Khajiit.
The screech had come out of nowhere, but the pain that followed was quick and excruciating. Something slashed directly across the executioner's side. Grunting in pain, the Argonian swung his blade and stumbled to the side glaring out towards his attacker.
"Ah! Cicero, Dro'marash's good friend. I see you could not keep up with the Khajiit's speed."
"Cicero is still sore from his encounter with the Tong's killer kitty, but he is not about to let you have all the glory of the fight!"
Beem-Ja's eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the colorfully clothed Imperial before him. Vytalas had mentioned at the ruins that the Khajiit was going to be part of the party, but he had not heard of or even had seen the peculiar man before. However, this Cicero definitely had revealed to him that he had encountered his furred brother in arms.
"Ra'jiir?" the Argonian hissed. "You speak of Ra'jiir?"
"Is that what his name was?" Dro'marash snickered as both he and the Fool of Hearts began to circle the lone Argonian like a hawk. "The Listener made quick work of that executioner. He shared with Dro all the glorious details."
"The Khajiit went to the Void frightened, executioner," Cicero added in dark glee. "He witnessed the wrath of Sithis firsthand and will now suffer it eternally in the Void."
"Roasted alive in the bitter cold of a Dawnstar winter," the alchemist continued. The Morag Tong had brought so much pain to the Dark Brotherhood, causing one of their killers such grief gave the two assassins a great feeling of satisfaction. "Khajiit should have been grateful; no sand-walker would have wanted to die cold."
"He was my brother!" the scaled being screamed furiously as he lunged at Dro'marash, swinging his sword with a purpose. The furred killer arched to the side to avoid the first swing, but had not expected the reptile to produce an elven dagger in his other clawed hand. Beem-Ja swiped the golden weapon across the torso of the cat and spun on his heels to block the ebony blade of the jester that had charged at him.
"Oh! Cicero has one too!" The Keeper remarked as he noticed the new weapon the executioner was brandishing. "He got it from the feline prior to his frying!" The Keeper tittered darkly as he pulled out the enchanted elven dagger from its sheath. His golden eyes widened in delight as he saw the anger on the Morag Tong's face.
"That?! That was blade I had made for Ra'jiir! You don't deserve to have that weapon on your person!" he roared as he drove the dagger forward at the Fool of Hearts. Cicero danced to the side and bowed playfully, a blade in each hand.
"The Morag Tong gave it to Cicero!" the Imperial insisted. "He plunged it into my leg and left it there! Since he did not bother getting it back, it now belongs to me!"
"I'm going to kill you!" the enraged Argonian screamed as he rushed towards the maddening jester, his eyes shining a bright yellow in the moonlight that was glistening through the trees. He swung his sword and dagger furiously at the Fool of Hearts, but the jester seemed to block every attack, laughing madly the entire time.
"Even hurt! Even wounded, Cicero cannot be touched by your blades! Too slow! Too brutish!" A wicked smile crawled up the Keeper's face. "Too bad." The fool twirled in place, using both daggers to slash at Beem-Ja's arm, making him drop the elven dagger.
Backtracking a few wary steps, the executioner kept his eyes locked with the menacing assassin before him. The Imperial's face was haunting with his eyes wide with malice and a toothy grin that appeared to take up most of the lower half of his jaw.
Sound of crunching snow behind him alerted the reptile that the other assassin was once again making an attempt to strike. Beem-Ja lowered to the snow and swung his leg around, knocking Dro flat onto his back. The Keeper sprang at him next and both daggers plunged deep into the reptile's shoulder blades.
"Damned clown!" the reptile snarled as his elbow sprang back and jabbed severely right into where Cicero's recovering wound was still lingering from his encounter with Ra'jiir. Neither the Listener nor Brelyna had been made aware of the Imperial's close brush with death; the injury had not been tended to by a restoration spell. It was still tender and the blow caused the Fool of Hearts to release his weapons and lurched back, hugging his abdomen tenderly as pain overtook him.
"Gah! Cruel lizard! Cicero is still sore!" the Keeper barked as he dropped to a knee.
Beem-Ja did not have time to focus on the jester as he pulled the enchanted blade from his shoulder and drove it deep into Dro'marash's hand that had been clutching the poisoned dagger. The Khajiit screeched in pain and scowled furiously at into the yellow eyes of the injured executioner.
"Now, cat. I'm going to kill you, and then your pathetic fool back there," the Argonian growled darkly. Beem-Ja hissed in pain when alchemist swiped the claws of his free hand hard across the neck of the reptile causing him leap back in both shock and pain. "You little bastard! I'm going to turn your tail into a scarf to keep me warm in this miserable land!"
The executioner held up his ebony sword, but was shocked when suddenly both Cicero and Dro'marash began snickering wickedly. Turning to look at the Imperial, the reptile saw that Cicero was still hugging himself and showing no sign of getting up to attack, but his sinister laughter was unnerving. Beem-Ja spun around to glare at the alchemist and kept his sword held up, ready to defend himself.
Dro ripped the dagger from his hand and his orange eyes glowed brightly as he leered towards the Argonian, still laughing evilly.
"What's so funny, cat?" Beem-Ja demanded.
"Dro has already killed you," the Khajiit answered as he held up his claws, revealing them to be glistening with a coating of poison. A sense of horror overcame the reptile as he placed a hand to his neck where the assassin's deadly scratch had made contact, he could already feel a numbing sensation in his throat.
"The kitty's claws are like a serpent's bite. You have fought your last this night," Cicero sang ominously as he rose to his feet and started to prowl towards the stunned executioner. The alchemist pulled out a rag and began to wipe the poison from his claws as he also approached his dying prey.
Beem-Ja let out a deep sigh as he lowered to a knee and accepted the fact that he had been bested. It would only be a matter of time before his lungs became paralyzed by the poison and he would meet his end.
"I had hoped I would have been able to avenge the death of my brother, Ra'jiir, by killing you. I see now that I will not be getting that opportunity."
"The Morag Tong killed Dro's sister, Shaleez," Dro'marash hissed down at the blue reptile. "Did you honestly think we were going to simply roll over and not make you all pay for the pain you have caused the Brotherhood?"
"I know what you are going through," Beem-Ja coughed. It was getting more difficult to speak. "Beast races have a tendency to be drawn towards one another for companionship. Khajiits and Argonians make the most loyal of allies. Othrelos may not have cared about us, but Ra'jiir and I were just as connected to one another as you were to the sister you lost. " The scaled killer's eyes narrowed. "We should have just stayed in Morrowind."
"You dare compare what you had to the family bonds of the Dark Brotherhood?" the Keeper asked as he crossed his arms and glowered down at the executioner. "What we have is tighter than whatever you could possibly hope to perceive. We are the Brotherhood. We are a family and we shall always remain the true guild of assassins."
"I underestimated you," the Argonian admitted quietly as he looked up at the alchemist with hazy eyes. "Clearly there was a reason that the Morag Tong vanished and the Dark Brotherhood thrived." He coughed a few times and clasped a clawed hand to his throat; he could hardly breathe. "At least I now go to the Void to join my fallen brother." A sad smile formed on the executioner's face as he began to slowly lay himself down into the snow. "I'm coming, Ra'jiir. Let's suffer the wrath together."
The jester and Khajiit were silent as they watched the Morag Tong member struggle to breathe, and then eventually stop as the poison took control and paralyzed the body. Neither was able to tell when exactly the Argonian died, but Dro's toxic scratch had claimed yet another soul for the Void.
"He was not one of us," Dro'marash said quietly as he pulled two small red potion bottles from his satchel and handed one to the jester, "but he did certainly die like one of us though." The Khajiit smirked and held out the healing elixir in a toast. "All hail Sithis."
"All hail Sithis."
There was a light clink as the two toasted to the Dread Father with their restoration potions and downed the contents of the elixir in a victory over their fallen enemy.
Somewhere along the journey, Babette had separated herself from the older assassin, Nazir. The Speaker did not care; he had known the Unchild long enough to realize that she would not allow herself to be removed too far from the fray. If he needed her, the vampire would make her appearance.
It had been hard for Nazir to accept the fact that he had been growing old and the days of going out on contracts were behind him. Allowing himself to fall victim to such a simple trap in Volunruud during their attempt to rescue Cicero alerted him that he was losing his touch and was not as on his toes as he once was. He had approached KaNack afterwards shortly to tell him that he was ready to hang his weapon up and that he was no longer able to kill in the name of Sithis.
The Listener was a kind and understanding leader however; he understood how important the Redguard's pride was. That was why instead of allowing the older man to just reside around the sanctuary like a houseguest; he gave him the honorable title of Speaker. Nazir had never expected to ever become a member of the Black Hand, but embraced the role and adapted to it better than he thought he ever would. The older man, however, still longed to swing his sword, and was more than a little thrilled when his leader approached him with the plan to eliminate the Morag Tong. Uniting as a family was the only way to defeat the executioners, and once again the reptile proved that even when he seemed at the end of his ropes; he always proved himself in the end to be a true leader to the Dark Brotherhood.
Nazir's eyes widened when he finally came upon one of the executioners and sped up his charge as he rushed her, scimitar held up high in the air. He had come across the Morag Tong's other fighter, Adara, and she was more than a little surprised to see the black cloaked man coming right for her.
The woman pulled the shield from her back and held it up to block the strike of the Speaker and took a few wary steps back as she drew her sword and glowered at him.
"Who in Oblivion are you, old man?" she demanded angrily.
"I am a Redguard, if you hadn't noticed." His eyes narrowed as he began to sidestep trying to position himself a strike where he could get around the infuriating shield. "But not like you. No. Not like YOU!"
He growled as he swung his sword once more and his frustration grew as he heard the resounding thudding sound of his blocked attack.
"Aren't you a little old to be swinging such a dangerous weapon?" Adara snorted as she slashed at the Dark Brotherhood member, causing him to strike the weapon away with his own. "You're going to get yourself hurt."
"Hmmph!" Nazir uttered with a smirk. "In my day, we respected our elders." He gripped his weapon tightly and his eyes glanced around, seeking Babette. There was no sign of the vampire; surely he couldn't have beaten her here?
"I don't have time for you!" Adara announced as she backtracked towards the direction of the camp. "I have more vital business to attend to. If you want me to put you out of your misery, hang around right here! I'll gladly give you a good death!"
"How did a brat like you ever live long enough to get out of Hammerfell?" Nazir snorted. "Look at the way you hold your blade! You have no idea what you are doing! I've seen children wield toy swords better!"
The executioner's eyes narrowed and she charged forward, slamming her shield into the Redguard and slamming him hard into a tree causing the older man to grit his teeth in pain.
"Damn back," he hissed under his breath. "You're making me look bad." The older man reached around the shield and cuffed the petulant woman hard on the ear making her dance back from the sudden pain. Her eyes were burning with fury that he had struck her with such a minor blow, yet it caused her to wince like a little girl.
"Lousy bastard!" she hissed as she held a hand to her ear. "Just what are you trying to prove?"
"I am trying to prove that the followers of Sithis, unlike the Morag Tong, will never die." The Speaker's eyes narrowed to slits as he held the scimitar up defensively and began to circle the executioner. "I have lived long enough to serve under three different leaders in the Dark Brotherhood and I'll be damned if I see the guild come to an end before my time!"
"Dark Brotherhood?" Adara snarled as she rushed as Nazir and tried once more to knock him back with her shield. The Redguard sidestepped it and had a clear opening to the fighter's unguarded back. The curved sword easily slashed across it, but the Speaker had to dance back as the woman spun around and tried to strike him a second time with her blade. "Who exactly are you in the Dark Brotherhood? What place does an elderly fool like you have in a guild of assassins?"
"Age does not matter!" Nazir announced proudly. "So long as one embraces the Dread Father, he or she is ALWAYS a part of the Dark Brotherhood! We've had people as young as sixteen and as old as three hundred actively participating in the faction!" The Redguard grunted as he struck once again and his scimitar bounced harmlessly off Adara's shield.
"Well, I think it's time to remove the weaker members of the herd, don't you think?" the Morag Tong fighter asked as she lunged her sword forward. As Nazir sidestepped out of the way, the Redguard slammed her shield once more into him, knocker the older man to the ground. "Pathetic old fetcher!" she barked stomping her heavy boot on top of the Speaker's chest, knocking his scimitar away with her weapon. "Did you honestly think you could kill me all by yourself?"
"You know what?" Nazir grumbled bitterly as he glared up at her. "I really had hoped I could. We can't always get what we want in life though. I may not get to kill you, but at least I will have the privilege of living out the rest of my golden years. Something you will never have the pleasure of doing."
"What in Oblivion is that supposed to mean?" Adara hissed.
"Babette!" the Speaker called out as he glared out into the woods. "I think I've roughed her up enough for you. Go ahead and finish the job!"
The executioner stirred when she heard what sounded like childlike giggling behind her. The woman spun around and saw a child who did not appear much older than ten beaming out at her from behind a large tree.
"Hi," Babette giggled sweetly as she came forward, grasping her skirt in tight fists and swaying it playfully. "My name is Babette, what's yours?"
"What?" the Morag Tong fighter muttered in confusion before turning to glare down at Nazir. "Who is this? Your daughter? You think I won't kill you in front of your kid?"
Nazir let out a bark of laugh as he shook his head at her. "My daughter?! I'm old, but I'm not THAT old!"
The giggling was louder and Adara turned her head to the side and saw that Babette was now standing right next to her.
"I wanna play a game with you," the Unchild started sweetly as her eyes began to shine brightly in the moonlight.
"Wait…I've seen eyes like those before," Adara murmured. "One of our executioners, Xander, but he was a…"
A realization hit the executioner and her eyes widened in horror at the tiny creature that was practically breathing down her neck.
"The game is called tag," the Dark Brotherhood member snickered as she bore her fangs, "and I'm it."
Adara did not stand a chance against the speed and strength of a three hundred year old vampire. The executioner was tackled to the ground and her piercing shrieking soon turned to guttural groans as the Unchild did what any vampire would do when the opportunity presented itself- -feed.
Nazir grunted as he slowly pulled himself up onto his feet and cracked his back. "By Sithis, I am going to be feeling this in the morning," he groaned miserably as his back ached with pain. Babette wiped at her mouth with her sleeve and made her way over to her friend and took his hand in hers.
"Oh, you youngsters these days," she sighed. "The slightest tap and you go crying for a healer." She began to lead Nazir back towards the camp, feeling giddy and full of life after such a satisfying feeding. "I'm in a really good mood right now, so I'll be more than happy to put something together to ease those fragile bones of yours."
"I'll have you know, Babette," the Redguard grumbled. "I did most of the work. The reason you were able to kill her so easily was because I weakened the executioner for you!"
"Of course you did, old friend. Of course," the vampire giggled as she continued to lead the Speaker through the woods.
"Are you patronizing me?"
"No, never," she snickered.
Dinya hummed happily to herself as she took her time walking through the snowy woods towards Shrouded Grove. The letter had been left exactly where her handsome Dunmer had said it was going to be and provided the exactly location of the Dark Brotherhood's campsite. The Morag Tong was now few in numbers; that would hardly matter once they killed the Listener.
Shortly afterwards, it would just be a matter of time before Vytalas shared with them all the secrets of the assassins guild and eliminated the rest of the remaining stragglers in the Dawnstar Sanctuary. The other hidden sanctuaries would also fall once the archer shared their locations; then that in turn could be provided to the Companions, Imperial Legion and the vengeful mages of the Winterhold College. Skyrim would soon be free of every last one of Sithis' followers. How amusing that all it took was one lone Dunmer to lead to the downfall of an entire country's guild?
Dinya paused as she heard a scream of pain off in the distance. It had not come from the direction of the camp, but off to the side.
"Beemy?" the she-elf muttered as her eyes narrowed in suspicion. She pulled out her daedric bow and drew an arrow, scanning the area around her for any sign of enemies. It was entirely possible that the Argonian ran into a bear or a pack of wolves, but the executioner had her suspicions.
Dinya picked up a sound of rustling in the trees and did not hesitate to shoot an arrow directly where she had heard the sound. The Mer was more than a little disappointed when a dead squirrel fell down into the snow, looking grossly impaled by the arrow.
"Oh, poo," she hissed. "I had hoped it was…"
The elf let out a cry of surprise when she felt something heavy land on top of her, crashing her hard into the snow. The Dunmer turned her head furiously to see who was on top of her and was startled to see one whom she had not expected to be alive.
"Dinya, is it?" Kaie hissed as she drove her elbow into the elf's spine, enjoying the growl of pain it produced from the Dark Elf. "I'd like to have a word with you regarding your behavior towards Vytalas."
"You're supposed to be dead!" the infuriated elf snarled as she threw her hand back and the sharp jagged end of her bow stabbed into Kaie's shoulder. The Breton hissed and pulled out her blade, grasping the bow in one hand and promptly sliced the strong wire of the Dunmer's deadly weapon.
"You bitch!" Dinya bucked the assassin off her and stared furiously at her bow which was now useless to her. "Do you have any idea what you have done?! This bow is ten times what your miserable life is worth!"
"You got ripped off then," Kaie remarked with a smirk as she grasped her dagger tightly in her hand. "The wire cut just as easily as any other bow."
The Dunmer's scowl slowly melted into one of amusement as she allowed the bow to drop to the snow unceremoniously. "So, the rumors of your death have been grossly exaggerated. Let's see if I can't do anything to fix that." The warlock's daughter pulled her daedric blade from its sheath and ran the dagger along her tongue drawing blood.
The Breton took a step back and her eyes widened in shock. "By Sithis, Vytalas was right. You really are insane."
"Me? I'm not the one worshipping a corpse, now am I?" the Mer answered simply as she arched back in a striking position. "I also am not one whose leader takes advice from a transparent blue dog."
Dinya's ears perked up and she tumbled to the side just as an ebony arrow embedded itself where she had been standing. She rolled to her feet and her eyes widened in delight at the sight of the large Dunmer emerging from the trees.
"There you are, sweetie! Its time that we brought this silly love triangle to an end!" She grinned wickedly as she tossed her dagger from hand to hand.
Vytalas growled in his throat as he joined the Breton's side and kissed her on her head.
"Good job ridding her of the bow," he said proudly before his red eyes shot angrily towards the she-elf.
"Please, Vytalas," Dinya snorted. "You can try and deny it all you want, but when my father branded you, you turned to me for comfort! You can't deny what we have!"
"Have?! I had metal burning into my flesh! The only thing that kept me from shunning your icy touch was blinding pain! As you can clearly see, the Morag Tong are the ones who have walked right into the ambush!"
"You call this an ambush?" the Mer snickered as she began to casually stroll before the two, tapping her weapon against her hip. "All you did was bring all of your little family members together to get eliminated in one fell swoop." She bit at her knuckle as she leered over at the couple. "If your precious Argonian truly had an ace up his sleeve, he would have played it by now. If this is the Dark Brotherhood's final 'hoorah', it really has sunk to a new low."
The executioner licked her teeth as she began to prowl towards the assassins. "I'll end the girl, but I'm not going to kill you right away, sweetie. I have plans for you before ending your simple life." She then chuckled darkly. "Maybe Father can turn your corpse into a thrall, that way I could still have you in the end." She shrugged. "You may not talk as much, but it's not really your conversational skills I am interested in."
"By Sithis," Kaie gasped in horror in disgust as she turned to look at Vytalas. "THAT is what you had to deal with in that ruin?!"
"She was better behaved in front of her bastard father," grumbled the Mer. "Clearly our beloved jester Cicero has been out-crazied."
"I feel sorry for you," the Breton insisted as she gave Dinya a sad look. "Obviously you're sick in the head and that has made you the way you are today. Perhaps once you are sent to the Void, you will be granted some form of sanity so that you understand just what is happening to you."
"I don't need your pathetic sympathy!" she spat venomously as her prowling came to a halt and her eyes burned with hatred. "The problem with the Dark Brotherhood is that they claim to be cold-blooded and merciless killers, but they are no such thing! That Argonian turned you all into a bunch of fluffy kittens who only bear their claws and teeth after they have been properly threatened!"
"Do not mistake the love of our family as a weakness, Dinya," the archer grumbled as he aimed his ebony bow at her. "Family is what makes us strong. The Morag Tong does not embrace each other and that is why you have lost so many of your executioners! Maybe if you actually gave a damn about one another's lives, more of you would have survived!"
He released the arrow and Dinya struck the arrow in midair with her daedric blade, preventing it from hitting her. A twisted smile crept up her lips. "Oh, you think we're the weak ones because we refuse to cry if one of us falls?"
"No," Kaie smirked. "You are the weak ones because you cared so little about one another's safety that you allowed yourself to separate. For every executioner out here, Dinya, there are two members of the Brotherhood." The Breton's blade glistened in the moonlight as she got into a fighting stance. "Your father isn't here to protect you, little Mer."
"I am not the one who needs protecting," the she-elf growled as she strolled over to where her discarded bow was and kicked it up into her hands, brandishing the wireless weapon like a crude dagger. Vytalas' teeth clenched together tightly as he replaced his bow with his dagger. "I'm not Father's second in command just because we share the same blood." The executioner tore through the snow towards the two assassins with both daedric weapons grasp firmly in her hands.
The Breton dropped to a knee to dodge the swinging blade, while Vytalas used his ebony dagger to block the bow that had been directed at his head. Dinya kicked her foot backwards, knocking Kaie to the ground as she began to duel wield items, focusing all her attention on the Dark Brotherhood's archer.
"Come on, sweetie! You're more than just a bow man, aren't you?" she cackled as she relentlessly continued to swing both her bow and dagger at the Dunmer causing him to either weave out of the way or strike back the deadly blow with his ebony blade.
"Lucien Lachance was a guide to more than just the Listener, Dinya!" the Mer snarled as he reached forward to grab the bow. As his hand clenched it tightly, the sharp and jagged edges cut into his palm, but the pain hardly fazed him as the assassin was consumed by his hatred for the Morag Tong. He ripped his dagger through the air in an attempt to put the wretched she-elf down permanently.
The executioner released her bow and dashed to the side to avoid Vy's strike and she gazed upon him hungrily as smiled wickedly at him. "So the dog was the family pet then? How charming. I'd be willing to teach you a few moves too, sweetie, if you…"
Dinya screeched in pain as something slashed her violently across her back. The Dark Elf spun on her heels the daedric blade gripped tightly in her hand and snorted in fury when she saw Kaie leap away from the attack and then hurry to once again join Vytalas' side.
"I've had about just all I can take, you Dunmer witch!" the Breton hissed as she kept her simple blade clutched tightly in her hand.
"That's it," grumbled Dinya as she took a few wary steps backwards, her eyes temporarily losing their playful glimmer. "Your intrusions are becoming tiring. It's time I did something to keep the two of you separated."
Vytalas' eyes widened and he held an arm protectively in front of Kaie as he recognized what the Mer was about to do. The Dark Elf let out a loud scream of anger as her entire body burst into flames and she glared hatefully in the Breton's direction. "Stand back unless you want to get burned, mouse!" Dinya charged towards the two, her ancestral wrath consuming her body with bright and powerful flames.
"Kaie, get back!" the archer demanded as he raced forward to meet the rampaging Dunmer. The two elves blades clashed against one another as they met and the horrible scraping of metal echoed across the normally peacefully forests in the Pale. The fire did not faze Vytalas at all as he continued to strike his blade at the mad female before him.
"That's right, sweetie!" Dinya hissed as her blade struck left and right trying to make contact with the soft skin of the Dark Elf. "Unless your precious Breton wants to get scorched, she's just going to have to watch from the sidelines!" She managed to grab the assassin's wrist in hers and pulled him close so that her lips were to his remaining ear. "I'm going to break you and then ravage you before her," she rasped evilly. The archer shoved the executioner away with a snarl of revulsion.
"Vytalas!" The Brotherhood elf turned around and saw Kaie throwing her dagger towards him. The Dark Brotherhood member grabbed it and spun around to face the Morag Tong, now dual wielding two dangerous blades.
"How romantic," Dinya snorted as the flames continued to cloak her. "Your lover gave you the only weapon she had to defend herself. How selfless, how noble," the twisted smile returned, "how foolish."
The Mer dove past the large Dunmer's swinging blades and began to sprint directly towards Kaie, her red eyes burning with malice and delight. "Here I come, my dear! I hope you don't mind a little heat!"
The female assassin cursed under her breath and turned back around, scrambling up a nearby tree to seek refuge in the tall overhanging branches.
"You think elves can't climb trees?!" Dinya leaped up and grabbed a branch, but gasped in pain when she felt something pierce into her hip. The she-elf dropped to the snow and grasped the ebony arrow in a tight fist before ripping it heartlessly from her body. Letting out shallow breaths of pain, Dinya slowly turned around to shoot a murderous look at her attacker.
Vytalas grabbed another arrow from his quiver and aimed it at the Morag Tong who was close to frothing at the mouth in both pain and anger. Her fire shroud vanished, but there was still something dangerous burning within her. His target did not hesitate as she bolted right at him, sidestepping out of the way just as he released his arrow.
"Oh, Sithis," the archer hissed as he tried to grab another arrow and braced himself for the impact. Dinya pounced into him, digging the daedric blade deep into his side as they both collapsed to the ground. The archer let out a snarl of pain as Dinya twisted the blade into his side. The executioner turned her head and cruel smirk crossed her face as she saw that the Mer's lover was racing towards her. Kaie's charge came to a halt when she finally saw the blade embedded into the assassin's side.
"Mouse, you don't want to be the one responsible for Vytalas' death, do you?" she asked her sweetly as she plunged the blade in deeper, making the assassin released a grunt of agony.
"Vy!" the female held up her hand submissively as she began to step backwards. The she-elf was psychotic and she didn't want to risk doing anything that could lead to the death of her beloved archer. Vytalas' red eyes narrowed in pain and anger as he tried to plunge his arrow into the neck of the reprehensible female.
The executioner twisted her blade again which caused the assassin to drop the arrow and scream in pain. "Oh, sweetie. Did you really think you were going to be able to kill me that easily?"The archer growled in disgust and shuddered as Dinya ran her tongue along his neck. "You've been a very naughty boy, Vytalas," she purred into his remaining ear. "The best part about what happens next is that your little mousey Breton will have no choice but to watch." She leered down at the Dark Elf and shook her head at him. "Was that arrow the best you could do? You don't even have your bow to shoot it with."
"I didn't need my bow," Vytalas hissed at her as a wicked grin began to cross his face making Dinya's eyes widen in confusion. "I just needed you to get close enough." The Dark Elf's eyes went back to the ebony arrow and her jaw dropped slightly when she saw the small linen bag attached to it. "Let's find out how our racial resistance to fire fares against this."
The Assassin grabbed the executioner and held her close as he began to cast his own ancestral cloak of fire, coating both him and the arrow in flames.
Kaie shrieked and shielded her eyes, dropping to the ground as there was a loud explosion of flames directly next to the two Dark Elves.
"Vy! Sithis, no! VY!"
The Breton ran as fast as her legs could carry her to one of the two still forms laid out in the snow. She reached his lover and rolled him onto his face, grasping his face in her hands. His archer's shroud was burnt and shredded and his face had been blackened by the excruciating heat produced from his explosive arrow. Kaie gently stroked at his face as tears burned at her eyes.
The Dunmer coughed loudly and his eyes fluttered open, gazing up into the soft brown eyes of Kaie who obviously had suspected the worst. He managed a small smile up at her. "It's quite astounding a Dunmer's resistance to fire, isn't it my love?"
"You jerk!" Kaie screamed as she smacked him hard in the head. "I thought you were dead!"
"Ow! Hey, I'm going to be if you keep hitting me like that!" he insisted as he grabbed at her hand. A pained groan to the side alerted them that Vytalas wasn't the only one to survive the blast.
"You ass," Dinya hissed as she shot the two a dark look. "You let me take most to the blast. How could you treat a female like that?"
"Forgive me if I shed no tears over your suffering," the archer grumbled as he was slowly helped to his feet by the female assassin. Kaie helped Vytalas limp over to where the she-elf was recovering from the painful explosion of the ebony arrow. The Morag Tong elf shook her head as she weakly grinned up at the two.
"It doesn't matter. You still are marked," she snickered. "You'll always bear the mark of the Morag Tong, sweetie. You've been branded and will have no choice but to think of me every time you see it."
"Yes, about that, Dinya," the assassin started as he grabbed a handful of his shroud and pulled it up. The executioner's eyes widened in shock, not able to believe what her eyes were seeing. The mark of the Morag Tong was gone.
"No," she growled. "No! That's impossible! I saw you get branded by my father! You were marked!"
"Did you not bother to do any research on the Winterhold Five, Dinya?" Kaie asked as she glowered down at the confused Mer. "Every single mage in that group had a casting they were predominantly gifted in."
"The Listener, of course, had his conjurations," the Dark Elf assassin began, "the Nord had ice, the Bosmer fire, and the cat lightning."
"Can you take a wild guess at what our leader's wife, the Dark Elf mage, specialty was?" Kaie questioned the wounded Dunmer and could not resist the smile creeping up her face. She lovingly ran a hand along her lover's stomach where the mark had been. "Restoration."
"It was not easy," the archer insisted, "but Brelyna healed my burns and that mark is now nothing more than a painful memory."
"Well, aren't you all just the spitting image of how 'love heals all wounds'," Dinya remarked bitterly. "Fine then, I guess you win." She smirked once more and rolled onto her back gazing wickedly at the two. "Strike me, Vytalas. Strike me hard and end my life! Send me the Void!" she chuckled evilly. "Even if I do suffer, I know that it will destroy you to no end that you will have to spend eternity in the same place as me."
"I had spoken to the Listener earlier regarding you, Dinya," Vytalas stated calmly as he glowered down at the she-elf, "about the possibility of being able to take you alive."
"Alive? You are showing mercy to the Morag Tong's exquisite Dark Elf?" the executioner asked as she rolled onto her side and looked up at him lovingly. "Oh, sweetie. I knew deep inside you did care."
The Mer was confused when she saw the two lovers shake their head, both had begun chuckling wickedly.
"Dinya, you misunderstand," Kaie explained simply. "You were right when you told us that if we killed you, your soul would permanently haunt the Void. We might not ever see you, but your presence would always be there and that will not do at all."
"I will not spend an eternity in the same realm as you," the assassin stated. "That's why we're going to make sure that the Listener takes you on a nice little trip to Solitude."
"Solitude?" growled Dinya as her eyes narrowed. "Where I killed that miserable Nord officer?"
"General Tullius will have no peace of mind until he gets to carry out justice on at least one of the perpetrators responsible for his friend's death. Can you imagine how pleased he will be that it's the one who actually killed her?" Kaie said as she crossed her arms and leered down at the Dunmer.
Vytalas took a knee and leaned towards the Mer, a cruel smile crossing his lips. "You are going to have something of yours cut off in Solitude, Dinya," he chuckled evilly, "and I promise you, it will only hurt…a lot."