Chapter 39 – Reborn
The wind blew across Z's pale skin, causing the droplets of water to feel like tiny balls of ice against her flesh. She didn't shudder however; no, it was not an option. She had to remain still and silent, she could not allow a single muscle to twitch at the wrong time, less she be captured again. She had status and many reputations to uphold, but she also had a personal investment in this assassination. So still she remained, standing in the open yet cloaked by one of her oldest friends, oldest companions. Darkness. She had hunted them all down, like they were animals. Every mortal champion of every Daedra and Divine had died by her hand, and she had found herself becoming more and more at peace with their deaths with every kill. The blood on her hands was neither pleasure nor pain, it simply was. It was undeniable Z had changed, matured even. She had grown more confident with her humanity, yet she had discovered how to hide it from those she did not wish to see it. It was like Z had evolved, although she could not name the moment she had changed. Years had slowly crept up on Z, softening the harsh lines of Z's training with the wisdom gained from travel and life. She continued to wait in the darkness, patiently for a target. She had remained still for hours, and would remain as still as stone for many more if she had to. It was her duty, she had no alternative.
The air was cool and crisp in her nose, burning down into her lungs with every shallow breath she took. It was a painful yet pleasant burn, and Z found herself taking breath after breath to keep the steady rhythm of freezing her lungs going. She could smell the grass growing along the banks, just as she could smell the salt of the ocean waters that mixed with fresh under the natural arch of Solitude. Her target was not an overly important man, nor was he well known. Z had watched him for weeks, waiting for him to slip up and reveal himself to her alone in the darkness. He took trips with his wife by the docks every night, followed by the lovely lady's bodyguards. The night was like any other, save one thing that had gone differently. It was that one thing that led Z to wait in the shadows, for a man she knew would be alone. He had fought with his wife. The man disgusted Z, if she were honest with herself and allowed personal thoughts and feelings to flutter into her mind. He was champion of Mara, the Divine mother of love, and yet he cheated on his wife regularly with women he didn't even know. Now he was walking down along the path beside the water all alone.
"Sithis guide my hand. Grant that I strike true in your name, and spit this disgraced soul from your glorious void. Night Mother, should I fail; I pray you will take me back into your chilling embrace" Z thought her prayer silently. So long it had been since she had even considered Sithis, and yet her heart felt warm as she drew her dagger, as if she was finally her true self. The unnamed dagger did not shine in the light; instead it seemed to draw the darkness closer to Z. She tightened her grip on the blade for a moment, as if reassuring herself that it was still real in her hand. Her recovery had been remarkably speedy, considering she was recovering from death. She had allowed Farkas to fuss over her, even smiling when he made a big deal out of her being back. Stolen glances and touches were shared constantly, and even the hardest heart in Jorrvaskr had not dared speak out against the silent romance. Z however had a mission, a new focus that drove her. She had seen the failure of the Champions, and their multiple circles plotting against one another. She had decided that she would create one powerful circle of dutiful Champions from all corners of Skyrim. This horrid man was just the last Champion she had to eliminate before she was the sole remaining Champion, and the most powerful woman in Skyrim.
"Stupid whore" he muttered, kicking at a stone on the ground. Z couldn't see the facial features of the man, yet she knew his beady green eyes and hooked nose would be working in harmony to make a disgusted expression. Z felt her emotions flee her body as she stepped to her left, careful not to make a sound. Z silently crept into another shadow as torchlight drew closer, the solitary guard was wondering the dark path to protect the man huffing along. As the guard drew closer to Z she held her breath and closed her eyes, forcing the magic to the surface. She vanished as the light touched her, yet a shadow appeared behind her. The Guard didn't even notice as he continued walking. Z lowered to her stomach as she began creeping forwards, dagger between her teeth. Her lips closed on the cold metal, never flinching away as she dragged herself on her stomach. As quick as lightning she lashed out with her dagger, cutting the laces on the guard's boots. The man foolishly walked on away from the other man, oblivious to the damage to his laces.
"Who's there?" the Champion of Mara squeaked softly. Z felt the smile teasing her lips but she did not give in. Instead she began to stalk the man, rising to her knees slowly before she stalked to her feet, keeping her knees bent with every silent step. She saw her shadow flickering on the edge of the torch light before it went out of range. The Champion saw this as well and gasped softly. Fear came off him in waves and waves that Z felt tingling against her skin. She was delighted by the fear he felt, and she enjoyed every moment of her hunt. Yet she remained disconnected, unattached. She did not care for this man's family, nor for his wife who would most likely grieve. She did not care the woman's last memory of her husband would be an argument. Z only cared that this man lived when he should not. It was a mistake she would rectify soon.
"I'm warning you!" The man declared as he drew an iron dagger. His hands shook as he clumsily held the weapon out at shadows. He flinched and swallowed loudly as Z walked right past him. Allowing her shoulder to brush across his. The soft contact made the man prepare to scream, but Z was ready. Instantly she closed her hand around his mouth and stepped up behind him. She kicked him in the back of the knee, then guided him to his knees. He fought weakly against her, but he was not strong enough to resist her motion. She lifted her blade to his throat, allowing the metal to linger for a moment before she slashed his throat open. Blood spewed from his neck as he gagged weakly, trying to let a scream out through Z's hand. The assassin held tighter, and held his nose so he could not breathe for a moment as she stepped around him to gaze into his eyes.
"Who are you" the man's lips moved but no sound escaped. Z kept her gaze steady on him as his life began to flicker away. She didn't look away as he struggled to hold onto his life. She knew the guard would be attempting to fix his boots down the path now, and she had time before he would walk back. She quietly spoke the words of the shout to see another's life force, blinking as the world suddenly seemed darker. The flickering life force was fading fast in the champion, and Z felt an immense satisfaction.
"Do not fear death, embrace it" the line came so easily from her lips as she plunged the dagger into his eye socket. Blood touched her uncovered fingers, bathing them in sticky warmth. She sighed blissfully as she pulled her dagger free and faded into the shadows once again, right as the torchlight touched the corpse of the Former Champion of Mara.
It felt good to be back.
Z sat in the chair Kodlak had once, playing the role of Harbinger. Even so, she knew she was also the listener. She operated and kept things running smoothly, but now something had been thrown into the works that she didn't want, and yet she had longed for. She had been absorbed in saving Skyrim and defeating Valana Valore that she had forgotten one of the lost dreams of her childhood. To discover who she really was. She sat in the chair, gazing at the old books as the candle flames flickered, bathing the texts in shadows as Z stared without seeing. She had read the books so many times her eyes hurt, her head felt numb and her body was cold. It was not often she read books that were almost about her. Eventually she closed the text, standing up as she did so. She could not focus on this information now; she had her wedding to attend. The thought of Farkas made her smile to herself, he was worth more to her than the truth of her past.
As she walked away the text fell open once again, glowing, a soft eerie blue. Had z been listening she would have heard the whispers, pleading with her to come back and feed the ancient books power. The words of the text could change to their reader, revealing truths that many did not want to know. Z had discovered such a truth, and she now knew more about herself and yet knew nothing.
The legend says that The Nightmother bore Sithis five children, and then killed them in his honor. What legend does not say is that the Night Mother allowed her children to grow, to love and to have their own children before she sacrificed them. Her sacrifice was great, but her blood did not leave the world. Children of the five, blood of the five remain to this day. Assassins of great skill, natural ability and unknown origins. They have not been sighted for thousands of years, because such power is guarded where mortals cannot venture without the blessing of Sithis. . They hear the Night Mother in their dreams, and even in their minds during waking hours, they can even survive mortal wounds, if they unite their bloods magical power with their body and mind. The Blood of the Five dedicate their lives to the Dark Brotherhood, and their children continue the legacy.
The book suddenly closed, whispering dark secrets to the empty air. Had Z been there she may have been afraid, or begun to prepare for what was to come. Instead, she missed the one, vital clue that could have changed her destiny. She missed the warning contained within the pages of a text older than time. She missed the most important sentence of all.
"You cannot escape your fate…"
The moonlight shone down over the planes of Whiterun, bathing everything in a beautiful white glow. The world was shades of black, white and grey mixed together perfectly to create a world so beautiful that Z almost forgot to breathe. This night seemed more beautiful than any night she had seen, and she assumed it was due to her emotions. She felt so many emotions tingling in her nerves, raging beneath her skin that she didn't even know if she could name them all. She was excited, that much she could tell. She wanted to dance across the ground to that pool where their fates had been bound together. She wanted to sit with him in the halls of Jorrvaskr and sing along as he played the loot. She wanted to share her life with him, and nothing, not even the way her legs trembled and threatened to fall from beneath her with each stride she took that brought her closer to Farkas was about to stop her from marrying him.
"Are you afraid?" Aela's voice held its usual bluntness and strength, although she lowered her volume to a whisper. Z wondered about that for a moment as she stepped towards the water. Farkas stood in the water, dressed in a simple shirt that would most likely never be worn again. His skin almost shone in the moonlight, with his scruffy cheeks and chin drawing the light to highlight his jawline in darkness. Z herself was in miners clothing, as was the entire party. The circle had gathered around the pool, standing with their Brother and Sister as they began their lives together. Brand stood at the pool, besides Malketh and Sadean. Z couldn't help smile as she saw the devotion shine in Farkas' silver eyes. In the moonlight they were equally as beautiful, seeming to shine in the darkness and drown out all details. Stars of beauty shone in his face, but his eyes were the full moon that hung above them. Perfect.
"No" Z whispered confidently. She felt her heart warm as Farkas' smile grew, revealing his teeth in the light. She was amazed by how clear the skies were, and how clearly she could see the details of her friends, dare she call them that. She did not know one man there, but the Redguard Sadean was sworn for by Vale, and Z had come to value her opinion. Z took note of his build and his lack of heavy armor, in favour of two scimitars and the typical garb of his homeland. She theorised he was a soldier, or he had been. He also appeared to have strong feelings for Vale. Two weapons to be used against him. Farkas' loving gaze drew her attention yet again, and she stopped thinking about the man she did not know. Instead she smiled as she stepped into the water. It was cold against her skin, with small shards of ice brushing against her as she walked to stand before Farkas. She did not even flinch like she knew Farkas had, instead she gazed forwards into his eyes and held her own controlled expression. The moment his rough, calloused hands touched hers she smiled shyly at the larger man, knowing that she couldn't control herself if she had half a mind to. He was her soul stupid, big and loud and yet he could turn her into a little girl, with hope for the world and a foolish smile. She adored him, and he adored her. This was the proof.
"Z. I may be stupid, but I love you. I will always love you. You make me feel smarter, you make me happy. I will spend my life making you happy, every morning I wake up and every night I got to sleep" Farkas spoke the words so lovingly that Z felt her heart skip a beat. So often she had heard simple words from a simple man, and yet his words seemed to enchant her. Without thinking she leaned in and pressed her lips to his. She pulled his bottom lip between her teeth as she felt for the first bite mark she had given him, and scarred him with. She quickly bit down, tasting his blood in her mouth. It was sweet and metallic, which was a contradiction in itself. She didn't ponder it, the wolf within her was so close to the surface and prepared to break free that she had to fight it with every ounce of her being. Instead of turning however, she leaned back and smiled at him again, completely under control.
"Farkas. An Assassin should never trust, never love. To do so is to welcome betrayal, pain and even death. I love you, Farkas. Indeed, I have broken one rule I never thought I would… and I have no regrets. I am, and will always be, yours" Z saw the emotions pass across his face as he took one hand gently between his larger ones. She felt her excitement bubble closer to the surface as he rolled her sleeve up and found his bite on her. With a soft smile he lowered his head towards her arm, grazing his scratchy cheek against her wrist for a second before he bit down. Z felt the change begin to claim her again, yet she fought it back into its place. She saw the same stress flash in Farkas' features, ripple in his shoulders before he stood straight and smiled at her. They waited for a moment before a powerful change began to rip through them. They both screamed in their agony as they collapsed into the water, their screams contained beneath the cool surface. There was nothing for a moment before they burst through the crystal, mirror like surface in their wolf forms.
Together, the wolf mates howled.
Thus Ends The Skyrim Alliance; Z