So this is the first chapter to "Of Adventure"- and yes xcaliber234, I couldn't think of anything better for a title; but it DOES show that "Of Adventure" is closely connected to "Of Shadows". Those of you who are familiar with the characters will know why, and those of you who aren't are in for one hell of an interesting ride as you delve into the past of my Bosmer character. Anyone who loves this story- should check out "Of Shadows" by xcaliber234, you'll love it.
In the darkness of an Alyeid ruin, a group of adventurers delves into the deepest reaches of the long forgotten keep. A young Bosmer girl of 15 years stands at the ready behind her father with a bow in hand - an arrow waiting to be fired at a heartbeats notice.
"Tyvin take point, Little-Fox… stay close." says the girl's father, the leader of this expedition- using her childhood pet name she had earned by being clever and sly as a fox. The girl nods and sticks close to her father's side as they walk the dark and musty halls. As they reach the heart of the ruin, a dark chill begins to permeate the air- making the entire party feel ill at ease. As they scan the large chamber for signs of inhabitants, the shadows dance mockingly under the lights of their torches- each minute motion of the shadows making them jump slightly. The girl's pointed ears catch a faint sound- as do her father's- together they whip around and fire their arrows in synch at the source of the noise that had broken the dead silence of the ruin. The arrows clatter against the wall and skitter over the stone floor across the wide room and a sinister chuckle can be heard as a shape emerges from the shadows where the two archers had fired just seconds before.
"Damn it! A lich!" Shouts one of the other members of the party, as there had been no reports of ghostly activity near this ruin… they had neglected to bring any silver equipment and none of them were particularly skilled in magic. The lich attacks with a vengeance slaughtering the closest man without mercy, the girl and her father begin to back up towards the door- finding no dishonor in retreating from a fight they cannot hope to win, though their last companion does not feel as they do… and charges head on with his war axe in hand.
"I'LL KILL YOU!" he shouts with his final breath as the Lich strikes him down as well. The Lich advances on the father and daughter pair with cold and murderous intent in it's ghostly eyes.
"Rin… go ahead- I will catch up." says the girl's father as he pushes her towards the door, his eyes never leaving the approaching lich- this time using her birth name. Rin nods with misted eyes, worried for her father and more scared than she has ever been in her life as she rushes through the archway they had taken to enter the chamber- the screech of a gate closing behind her and the click of a lock returning her attention to the room she had left behind.
"Father! Why?!" she says franticly as she shakes the gate- hoping the ancient door would break at her attempts. Her father turns to her with tears in his old eyes- the first time she has seen him cry since the death of her mother.
"Go my Little-Fox, you are not meant to die here. Live for me and our fallen friends." he says, his voiced pained as the lich descends upon him- Rin screams for her father one last time before dashing out of the ruin with tear filled eyes.
"FATHER!" I shouted as I sat bolt upright in bed, my clothes drenched with cold sweat as I swung my legs off the bed and sat there with my face in my hands and my elbows on my knees. That dream had haunted me since the day my father died at the hands of a lich. Four years today- and I still wasn't over watching him die to save my life. I stood up and stretched, if I couldn't sleep I could at least go roam the city. I changed out of my night clothes and into what I usually wore: a black halter top with red leather straps that leave my collar bone exposed as they meet the thin red choker around my neck; the top is cut at the bottom of my ribs, leaving my midriff exposed. The pants of my outfit are a little more complex: They are also black and cut so that at about mid-thigh they are open and look similar to the straps of a drum- the section where they connect to the fabric of the pants also being of red leather; these pants then tuck into my dark leather boots. The boots are knee high with a slight heel and are held closed by two belts, one near the top and one near the bottom. I sighed slightly as I donned my fletch-guard on my left arm- a semi-fingerless glove that stops just before my elbow- it is made of a light weight yet durable plain brown fabric and the only fingers that are actually fully covered are my pointer finger and thumb; it is fastened to my arm by two black leather belts: one on my wrist and the other at the end of the glove near my elbow. As I finish fasting my fletch guard I turned around quickly- headed for the door across the room, the lone gold hoop earring on my left ear jingled slightly behind my light lavender hair as I grab my silver dagger from my desk and bend down mid stride to tuck the blade into its place inside my left boot. I waved goodbye to the maid and exited my house- Rosethorn Hall- and out onto the streets of Skingrad. A breeze blew by and rustled my hair- my long bangs that always framed my face swaying slightly. I had gotten quite a few odd looks when I cut my hair several years ago- it used to be shoulder length all the way around, though now I had it cut short to the nape of my neck in the back; leaving my long bangs to grow out slightly and barely reach my collar bone.
I gazed up at the starlit sky- the twin moons high above, lighting the streets enough for me to wander aimlessly without stumbling over the odd child's toy left out after dark. I walked in a half-daze, only snapping back when I realized my legs had carried me to the chapel and the graveyard beside it… and the empty grave of my father.
"Damn it… someday father- someday soon… I will bring you home." I murmured as I knelt beside the cold stone marker and ran my hand across the engraving of my fathers name and his short epitaph.
Master Archer of the Fighter's Guild
He fought with honor to his last arrow,
cast down in the stead of innocence.
May he find peace in Atherius.
A single tear rolled down my cheek and onto the cool grass, my heart aching as I thought about returning to that ruin to kill the Lich for what had to have been the millionth time over the past four years- my father's final words ringing in my head, keeping me grounded and away from recklessly seeking my own death. It was the same every year, the 5th of Heartfire- I would spend weeks thinking about it before coming to my father's empty grave to pay my respects before intending to set out for the ruin… but lost my nerve each time I read one line of the epitaph: Cast down in the stead of innocence. My father had given his life to save mine- seeking my own death needlessly would dishonor his name. I sighed and stood to leave, returning to my home and sitting down at the kitchen table to sulk. Another year had passed and I was no closer to avenging my father- I was beginning to think it a fools folly to even think of vengeance. Here I was, nineteen and my only companion is my maid- no friends to speak of, or a lover to seek comfort from on a day such as this one; I had devoted the past four years to training, becoming an archer nearly on par with my father himself.
"Milady, I know it is not my place to say this- but perhaps you should take a break from training and such violent things? I hear one of the nobles of the Imperial City is hosting a dinner party, perhaps Milady should attend?" suggested my maid Nia, her mother had served my family for years and she had recently taken her mother's place after a near-tumble down the second floor stairway. She honestly was my only friend- but was far more lady-like that I could ever stomach being.
"Perhaps… so long as you don't try and weasel me into wearing a dress." I said with a sigh, realizing that Nia was indeed right- I needed a distraction from my sorrows.
"Of course not Milady, I could never persuade you to wear such attire." she said with a smile before heading upstairs to prepare my things for travel.
I walked upstairs and found Nia walking out of the washroom,
"Milady should look presentable before heading out, a bath before traveling lessens the grim to be removed upon arrival." she said sweetly, presenting me with a towel and ushering me into the washroom. It never took me long to bathe, and I was out of the tub in little under thirty minutes. I walked into my room clad in only my towel and was less than pleased to find Nia had laid out a gold and burgundy dress on my bed- no doubt expecting me to put it on.
"NIA." I shouted simply, the young woman peeking her head in the door with her typical sweet smile.
"Yes Milady?" she asked innocently. I sighed and held up the dress,
"Where did this come from?" I asked her simply, Nia stepping into the room completely and holding her head down.
"Milady… I fetched it from your mother's things in the basement." she admitted, expecting a reprimand for such an act. My father had ordered our previous maid- Nia's mother- to never touch my mother's things after her death; it was obvious to me now that Nia's mother had apparently informed her of that particular order, but had seen no reason not to put such a beautiful dress to use. I sighed and simply asked that she put the dress back- I would wear one of my other outfits to the dinner party. Nia tensed and scuffled her feet, "While I could never persuade Milady to don a dress- a lack of other clothing would force no other option." Nia said, keeping her eyes diverted from mine. My jaw dropped as I rushed to my dresser- finding my usual attire missing. "Milady will have her things back upon returning home." Nia said with a chipper chuckle before exiting the room once again- leaving me alone with the vile garment that still lay on my bed. I growled in annoyance as I yanked the dress off the bed and donned it begrudgingly, finding it both smooth against my skin and uncomfortably odd against my stomach and right arm as they usually were not covered. I walked to the nearby mirror and my breath hitched in my throat- despite my hairstyle… I was the mirror image of my mother before she had fallen ill eleven years ago. I turned away from the glass sharply, irritably stuffing my feet into the slipper-like shoes that matched the dress before walking down to the first floor without a word to Nia. She did not attempt to speak to me on the matter of the dress again- knowing very well I was not pleased about the issue.
Leaving Rosethorn Hall behind, I made my way to the stables- finding my horse grazing in the paddock. I clicked my tongue as I stood by the fence and her ears perked up immediately, raising her head and gazing at me with her dark brown eyes for a moment before making her way to me, her glossy white coat gleaming as she approached- looking slightly confused by her master's attire
"Oh don't give me that look Dyra. I blame Nia for this travesty." I said to my horse, waving my hands down at myself as I spoke. Over the years I had begun to understand the looks my horse Dyra tended to give me- right now she was most likely finding amusement in my misfortune. Dyra whinnied at me, shaking her head- her way of saying: "The nerve of her! Harumph!" like the grumpy old woman she was. I sighed and saddled Dyra, finding it difficult and frankly ridiculous looking to sit normally in the saddle- gritting my teeth in annoyance as I was forced to sit side-saddle and ride slowly down the road to the Imperial City. The ride being boring and uneventful- so it hardly registered in my mind by the time I reached the city gates. I sighed as I dismounted from Dyra, guiding her by her reigns into the stable's paddock before entering the city. I looked around at the people as they passed; a mix of every race in the empire- though I saw a disheartening number of Thalmor agents skulking about as well. A bunch of pompous excuses for Mer in my opinion- not that the Empire is much better, but at least they don't force their ideals on people. I sighed to myself as I traversed Talos Plaza- or as the Thalmor order it called: "Dominion Plaza". Originally I had intended to attend a party here in the city… but during my insufferably long ride here I had lost any slim amount of interest in such festivities. Now that I was here however, my eyes soon fell on one of the numerous posters plastered to the walls, this one such poster promoting the Arena. I smirked to myself as I thought perhaps skipping the party and indulging in a few bouts of senseless violence before heading back home. I made up my mind in a matter of seconds, making my way now to the Market District and the Arena beyond that.
The Arena stood proud in the large courtyard the size of an entire city district. As I approached I heard the ever annoying whistling of several Arena combatants training on the grounds and I smirked widely when I heard them silenced by the Grand Champion whacking them over the head.
"Don't know fools know a noble when you see one? Show some respect!" he grumbled to them, and all I could do was sigh… I hated how obvious my heritage was when I dressed like this. Hence why I normally dress the part of the scruffy adventurer- no one parts a crowd or tries to look humble in your presence if you look like you just crawled out of a cave or ruin covered in goblin blood. I ignored the greeter at the entrance and made my way up to the spectator's stands- I had been to the Arena several times with my father and already knew the rules and cared little for betting on someone's life; I simply enjoyed watching the fights. I watched several fights, some were obvious to the outcome- while others were more drawn out and obscure. Though eventually the announcer said something that piqued my curiosity.
"Today we have a special treat for our spectators. Our final match of the day is to be an execution match- where no one walks away and anything goes." he said and the rest of the crowd erupted into cheers, I was surprised- I had never heard of such a match… though my eyes soon fell on a Thalmor Justicar, sitting in the place that had once been reserved for the Emperor of Tamriel, with a smug sneer on his ugly mug. No doubt this cruel form of punishment had been the Thalmor's doing, and I watched as several prisoners were released into the arena pit. An Argonian, a Dunmer, an Imperial, and a Nord- each with iron shackles still on their wrists. Each prisoner was given a sword and set loose to turn on one another. The Argonian was obviously not skilled in combat in the slightest and lasted about five seconds, falling swiftly at the hands of the Dunmer; while the Imperial and the Nord began to trade blows. The Dunmer then attempted to take the Imperial by surprise as he fought the Nord on equal footing- and I was impressed to see the Imperial fend off both attackers with relative ease. His movements skilled and precise- he certainly was no petty criminal. Eventually the Imperial's actions seemed to slow, obviously beginning to tire, and in one fluid movement the Imperial dodged both their attacks- sending their blades into each other's chests.
The crowd roared at the Imperial's triumph, but the Thalmor in the audience glowered down at him- snapping his fingers as he signaled that the victor be executed as planned. The crowd was silent as the Imperial was forced to his knees and an axe raised high above his head- gleaming and ready to cut him down.
"Stop!" I shouted, all eyes diverting to me and my outburst.
"Who are you to question an execution?" fumed the Thalmor, though his face and voice was that of pure calm- even at this distance I could practically feel the fury skillfully hidden behind his eyes. I stood, taking a stance of nobility with my hands neatly folded before me,
"I am Lady Rin of Rosethorn Hall. This match is a farce and a disgrace to the honor of this Arena. Why is this man to be executed for his victory? Is it not honorable to release a prisoner who has won his freedom?" I asked, my voice authoritative and unwavering as I brought up a valid point; many of the people in the crowd murmuring in agreement. The Thalmor seemed to grit his teeth in annoyance, and after a few moments he began to smirk.
"Very well then Lady Rin, if you wish this man spared then perhaps you have no qualms against releasing a murderer-"
"I am no murderer!" shouted the Imperial, interrupting the Thalmor with an interjection of his own defense. I rose an eyebrow; I could hear the sincerity in the Imperial's voice.
"What are the charges against him?" I asked bluntly.
"Five counts of murder. An entire family of farmers in Skyrim and one Imperial Soldier under his own command." The Thalmor answered with a sneer, the Imperial hung his head when he heard the charges said out loud- as if shame and despair hung too heavy on his shoulders. This man was a soldier- skilled with a blade- and had supposedly killed an entire helpless family and one of his subordinates, yet he blatantly claimed with sincerity that he did no such thing… but he held his head low at the mention of the incident. My curiosity was in full swing, I wanted to know more. "I will pay for his pardon." I said blankly, surprising not only the crowd- but the Imperial and the Thalmor as well. The Thalmor said nothing as he waved his hand and the Imperial was dragged out of the Arena pit and back to the Bloodworks. I turned swiftly and left the spectator stands, heading down into the deep recesses of the Arena.
I found the Imperial waiting on his knees with a Thalmor soldier on either side of him and the Justicar from the Arena standing before him,
"You are a very lucky man, that Lady Rin should take a shine to you. Pray to the Divines that your good fortune holds." he spat at the Imperial, who simply turned his head to ignore him.
"Must you demean him more than you already have? I believe 100,000 Septims should be enough of a fee- correct? Take your money and leave him be." I said blankly as I held the bag of gold out to the Justicar, who then took it promptly before slinking off to whatever hole he crawled out of; one of the soldiers unlocking the iron cuffs around the Imperial's wrists before leaving as well. The Imperial then stood to his feet, standing at least 6' tall- easily making me look small at only 5'6"- and rubbed his chaffed wrists.
"You have my thanks, why a noble woman would take interest in a supposed criminal is beyond me… but I thank the divines that you did." he said gratefully, his dark blue eyes on mine as he added a polite bow. I simply rolled my eyes,
"My curiosity got the better of me, I wish to know the whole story behind the accusations against you. Something does not add up to me, it is that doubt that convinces me that something is amiss about the charges." I stated, asking for him to fill in the blanks in my own way.
"Would you reconsider your decision if you did not believe me?" he asked warily, and I smiled reassuringly.
"In the Arena, you proclaimed your innocence. I believed you then, I will believe you now." I said simply. The Imperial man sighed heavily, his breathing shaking slightly and hiding his eyes behind his unkempt dirty blonde hair as he steeled himself to tell his tale.
"I… was drugged. The subordinate I killed slipped highly refined skooma into my mead, I reacted badly and in a blind rage- I killed him and wandered out into the country side before stumbling into a farmhouse…" he explained, his eyes filling with remorse for his actions. I held up my hand to silence him, I had heard enough.
"I believe you, skooma can do unbelievable things to the most noble of hearts. Though might I ask what you will do with your freedom?" I asked him curiously.
"I wish to repay you for your kindness, surely a noble such as yourself could use a bodyguard?" he asked hopefully, I simply chuckled and shook my head.
"You would be surprised how little I need protecting, but you are welcome to stay at Rosethorn Hall until you figure out what to do with yourself." I offered with a smile, his eyes going wide in disbelief.
"I could not impose- you have already saved my life." he said quickly, and I held my hand up again to silence him.
"Would you rather stay where that Justicar can find you and drag you back into the Arena?" I asked, he said nothing and I turned to leave- the Imperial man simply following in silence.
We walked in silence to the stables, I ignored the stares I received for having a tall man dressed in little more than burlap- making it obvious that he had been a prisoner within the last 24 hours- walking not far behind me. As we arrived and Dyra came into view I realized something,
"You know, I don't believe I caught your name." I said, indirectly asking the Imperial man's name.
"My name is Galris, Milady." he responded curtly, with a slight nod of his head. I shook my head and now that we were out of the city proper, I could drop the lady-like behavior.
"I would rather you didn't call me that, I hate being a noble. Just call me Rin." I said with a sigh, Galris simply nodding in agreement as he approached Dyra and moved to mount her saddle- the ornery mare moving out from under him with a snicker-like whinny. I laughed as Galris fell backwards onto the ground with a startled look on his face,
"Stupid beast…" he grumbled as he stood and dusted himself off. I rolled my eyes as Dyra trotted up to me, nudging her nose into my shoulder at his insult.
"Dyra has issues with trust, it is not often that she will let a man ride upon her back- much less one she has never seen before." I explained, Galris simply sighing heavily and folding his arms irritably and said no more as I climbed into the saddle and was not even remotely rejected. I held Dyra still as Galris approached to sit behind me in the saddle, and I could swear I hear him whisper under his breath that this simply wasn't natural. I wondered what he meant by that, but let the matter lie for once- I simply wanted to get home and change out of this confounded dress. The ride home was once again slow, the curse of having to sit side-saddle rearing its ugly head once again.
"Perhaps it would help if I kept you from falling? We could ride faster then." Galris suggested, and to my ears it seemed like a logical suggestion. I nodded and was actually quite surprised to feel his arms snake around my waist, "Better?" he asked simply, and I flicked the reigns to signal to Dyra that she could go faster now- I did not fall or even teeter in the saddle.
"We should arrive in Skingrad by dusk now." I said curtly- ignoring the newfound closeness- and for the rest of the ride, the both of us remained silent.
As expected, the sun was slowly setting over the mountains on the horizon as we arrived in Skingrad. I left Dyra in the capable hands of the stable and guided Galris into the city, and since I was regretfully wearing a dress still I could not take my usual shortcut over a pile of rocks next to the bridge over the underpass that would lead almost directly to Rosethorn Hall.
"Milady I have returned your… things… I was not expecting you to return home with anyone." Nia began to say as we entered the manor, her voice slowing to a whisper as she turned to face us and she caught a glimpse of Galris beside me. As she stared at him, then glanced at me- I was beginning to realize how this must look to her.
"Nia, don't even start. It's not what you think." I said with a heavy sigh, causing my maid to stammer embarrassedly for even thinking such a thing.
"M-my apologies Milady." she said curtly before returning to her duties.
"Nia will no doubt prepare a bath for you and find you some better clothes than prisoner's garments." I said with a frustrated swipe of my fingers through my lavender hair. "After your cleaned up, there is an extra bed in the servant's quarters downstairs if you would like to rest." I said simply before walking upstairs to change.
After returning to my room and donning my usual attire- I felt far more comfortable and like myself than I had in that blasted dress, returning to the main hall to find Nia had already set out dinner… for two. I turned my head away from the table to see Galris sauntering into the room with a yawn as he ruffled his now clean looking sandy blonde hair, probably having take up my offer of a nap.
"Sleep well enough?" I asked with a chuckle, receiving a sleepy grin in response.
"I have not slept so well in months, thank you Lady Rin for allowing me to stay here." he said gratefully, I simply rolled my eyes as I sat down at the table.
"Just call me Rin, I hate being nobility." I said exasperatedly, Galris chuckled in immediate response,
"I can tell, such an outfit is not something I would expect a noble woman to wear." he said, his eyes examining my lithe frame quickly before averting his gaze- realizing a little too late that to anyone else he would look like he was ogling me.
"See something you like?" I teased, the laughter in my tone was hint enough that I did not mean the question seriously. Galris said nothing to this question, simply sitting down and beginning to eat his dinner in silence. As we finished out meal, Nia returned to clear the table and stood stark straight when she saw me once again in my usual attire.
"I almost forgot Milady, this message arrive for you from the Countess of Bruma." she said with a deep blush, more than likely embarrassed that she had forgotten something so simple. I sighed and took the parchment scroll, scooting my chair back enough to place my heels on the table and crossing my legs at the ankle before unrolling the message and reading it's contents. "Might I ask what I says, Milady?" asked Nia curiously, the young woman fidgeting and she tried hard to resist peering over my shoulder- she could be just as insufferably curious as myself… though she was more interested in the potential gossip she could glean if she needed to accompany me to Bruma for a courtly visit. I rolled up the parchment and tossed it nonchalantly to the table,
"Well, it appears the Countess is in need of my particular skill set- but will say no more until I meet with her in Bruma." I explained with an interested smirk on my lips.
"Oh dear… I will begin packing your equipment Milady." Nia said with a heavy sigh, no doubt wishing it had been a party invitation or some other frivolous event that she knows I care little for. Galris sat in his chair with his arms crossed over his chest, his eyes regarding me quizzically.
"Just what skills could the Countess of Bruma need of a noble woman from Skingrad?" he asked curiously and I simply smirked before dropping my feet to the floor and standing up swiftly,
"She no doubt needs a talent dungeon delver, someone who can enter a ruin and return swiftly and intact with whatever she may require. I am one such person." I said confidently, turning to return to my room- I would leave tomorrow morning for Bruma, though how I would sleep with this much excitement coursing though me I could not fathom.
SIX PAGES ON MICROSOFT WORKS- my best count yet. Yes I busted this bad boy out and I think I did AMAZING at it, I'm quite proud of myself for it too!
Author's Observations: Galris - He was designed to be"the hot guy"Rin saves from the brink of death, and that guy everyone likes... until something that i have planned for later XD those of you who know Rin well... will know of what i speak.