Thank you again for your reviews, PM's everyone :D I did try and get this fic out earlier in the week, but I have been delayed from working and generally being too tired to do anything substantial...however, I am off work on Sunday and Monday (Easter ftw! XD) so i might be updating sooner than you think :P
Anyway, enough of my rambling, here is the next chapter everyone :D
"We should reach Solitude in the morning," Morgan said as she rode, watching the roads and skies carefully.
She was aware that she and her companion were travelling in Stormcloak territory, although she also knew that an Empire camp was half the distance away.
"As long as we are not accosted, I agree," Lucien LaChance replied evenly.
Morgan looked over briefly to see the Dark Brotherhood spectre watching her closely, even though he was riding the massive black horse Shadowmere (which Astrid had once described as very difficult to control). In fact, Shadowmere was trotting alongside as though nothing bothered her.
Horse and rider in perfect harmony Morgan thought with a wry grin as she looked back to face the road they travelled on.
"Your armour and weapons are a good match," Lucien said after a few minutes of silence.
"It's very well made for sure," Morgan agreed, "And the daggers are new ones, I enchanted them myself."
A few more minutes of silence passed.
"Your fighting style is impressive. It reminds me of a long time ago, back when the Dark Brotherhood were feared and respected."
"I was taught by my mother," Morgan explained. "I have no idea where she learned them myself, but I am grateful that she did teach me. Without the skills, I may have died back in Bruma."
"Bruma…one of my favourite places in Cyrodiil. I killed three guards in one night when they accused me of being a thief. I simply replied that a thief wouldn't carry a blade like the one I had…as you can imagine, they didn't take too kindly to that."
"I bet," she agreed.
There was a few more moments silence when Morgan suddenly stiffened in her saddle, and raised her hand for the two of them to come to a halt. Lucien said nothing, but Morgan still noted that he silently unsheathed a short-sword from his ghostly robes and was looking around. Shadowmere snorted as well, and Morgan knew that she had figured out something was wrong.
Then there was a sound that Morgan hated and liked in equal measure. A sound of a challenge.
She looked to her right and grinned as she spotted the green dragon swoop low over a bank of snow, red hot fire spewing from its maw as it attacked an unknown target.
"Probably the weakest type of dragon," Morgan said in an undertone to Lucien as she watched the dragon gracefully turn around to attack the unknown object once again.
"Will it attack?"
"Probably, the smallest ones are always the ones that boast more than any other."
"Even dragons think with their genitalia…interesting."
"Was no surprise to me," Morgan giggled as she swing herself off her horse and charged up both hands with the Chain Lightning spell.
Lucien felt his lips curl upwards into a smile without his knowledge before forcing himself to go back to his usual silent and stone-like state.
"I assume we are to fight this dragon?"
"We have no choice, he just spotted us," Morgan said as she pointed to the dragon that was flying towards them, a frost troll lying within its jaws.
Lucien watched as the dragon came closer and he decided that a sword would not do much good for the present moment. So he sheathed his blade and conjured a bow instead, notching an arrow and pulling back on the string. He didn't fire, as the dragon hovered a few dozen feet above the Dragonborn, who was defiantly standing in front of the dragon as though it were a battle of nerves.
No fear, just confidence. Truly a daughter of Sithis.
Meanwhile, Morgan was trying not to laugh as the dovah before her taunted her in the only way it knew how.
"DOVAHKIIN! I have come for your sos!"
"Seeing as the blood within me doesn't actually belong to me, you are out of luck!" Morgan laughed.
The dragon was not amused.
"You DARE insult me? You will dir for that!" the dragon bellowed.
Morgan allowed her smile to fall and fixed the dovah with a withering glare.
"You think I will shy away from you? I defeated Alduin himself you pathetic lizard. What makes you think that you are even worthy to face me? You are not even in the same league as Mirmulnir, my first soul!" Morgan roared back, her thu'um shaking the ground.
Her yell also affected the dragon, as it fought to stay upright in the air. But the challenge that Morgan had sent back at it was too much for the dragon's pride to accept.
It reared it's mighty head back before letting loose a torrent of fire.
Morgan threw herself to the side, feeling the heat missing her back by scant inches. She rolled up to her feet quickly and released her lightning spell, striking the dragon underneath its less protected underbelly. She watched dispassionately as the scales melted under the onslaught, blood spilling from multiple wounds as the dragon flew higher to gain a little safety.
"Oh no you don't…"Morgan whispered.
She then spotted a few arrows smacking into the wings, piercing the membrane as though it were parchment. She looked over her shoulder to see Lucien standing there, arrow after arrow flying from his bow with unerring accuracy. She grinned and looked back at the dragon, which bellowed its displeasure again as it looked at Lucien now.
Morgan acted first. She took a breath and let loose with a Shout of her own.
The Dragonrend Shout hit the dragon dead on, and the effects were immediate. It hovered lower and lower as though an invisible hand were forcing it down, every beat of its wings were ineffectual against the power of that particular thu'um.
"That is much more like it!" Morgan yelled as she sent two fireballs into the Dragons snout the second it landed.
"NID! WHAT WICKED MANNER OF THU'UM IS THIS?!"
"That was what you deserve," Morgan muttered as she dodged the snapping jaws and impaled one of her daggers into the side of the dragons head.
Lucien continued to fire arrow after arrow into the scaly hide of the dragon, watching how the vampire dodged every would be attack as though it were scripted. He allowed himself a small grin as he aimed carefully, his next arrow piercing the eye of the dragon.
The effect was immediate. It bellowed into the sky in agony, and this allowed Morgan to dart underneath the neck and slash the thin scales repeatedly with her sharp glass daggers, blood pouring in torrents all over her as she hacked away. The dragon snapped at her again, but once again, Morgan avoided the fatal attack and leapt onto the dragons head before plunging both daggers into the top of its skull.
She twisted the blades to one side, and then the other, and at last, the dragon slumped to the ground.
Morgan leapt off lightly and stood before the dying dragon, a hint of pity in her eyes. Even though it had attacked her and mocked her openly, she felt as though every dragon she met were bonded to her somehow.
They are my kin after all.
"You…fight…well Dovahkiin. Rinin pruzah…"
She closed her eyes as the dragon let out its final breath and felt the soul flow into her, filling her mind with memories, thoughts and even the name of the dragon she had slew.
"You fought well also Dirnalurak," she whispered softly as the soul siphoning ended, leaving nothing but a massive pile of bones behind.
Of all the things Lucien had seen when he had been alive, and even beyond that, he had never seen the sights he had just witnessed. He prided himself on being hard to impress, but somehow, this next Listener-to-be had earned his respect within a few short minutes.
He allowed his bow to vanish into nothing as he walked down to stand beside the vampire, who was looking at the remains with a hint of sadness in her orange irises.
"It will never end will it?"
"I am part dovah Lucien. I have the soul of a dragon, just like he did," she explained, pointing to the skeletal remains. "Every time I face one and take its soul, I feel like I am fighting myself."
"That is what makes you different from that of the rest of them," Lucien replied after a long silence. "You fight because you wish to protect others, like your Family. They fight because that was what they were made to do, and care for nothing else."
"It still feels wrong."
Lucien said nothing to that, as he knew that she was feeling something beyond what he could ever feel. Compassion was something he had only showed to Lucinda and the Family in the Cheydinhal Sanctuary, and that was a long time ago.
"Come on, we have a contract to get to," Morgan said before stopping and placing a hand on Lucien's cold shoulder. "And Lucien?"
Lucien followed Morgan with a small smile on his face. He was sure that she would be cheered up when she carried out her first contract for the Night Mother.
They arrived in Solitude by the following morning as Morgan had predicted. Of course, the mood was ruined slightly by the deluge of rain that fell from the skies. Morgan scowled as she and Lucien stood underneath one of the many porches that lined the main street in Solitude, watching the guards standing there and trying to ignore the sound of rain striking their helmets.
"If Elisif was usurped, then we have to assume that most of the guards are corrupt as well," Morgan muttered softly.
"Indeed. And that means they may have to be eliminated should they interfere."
"No arguments there," Morgan replied as she looked on.
"That outfit suits you."
Morgan recognised that voice but didn't turn around. She never got on with the proprietors of Radiant Raiment. They had been very condescending of her armour the first time she had visited the capital. Although she had to admit that the dress they had allowed her to keep was rather nice.
They are still a pair of bitches though.
"Thank you, "Morgan said simply.
She grinned as she observed Taarie stalk past.
"Did she recognise you?"
"No, she is always like that," Morgan assured Lucien before frowning. "How come she never said anything about you?"
"I have my secrets."
"Bastard." Morgan grinned back at him.
"I have been called many names in the past, but no-one has ever called me one of those before."
"Probably because they never wanted to insult an attractive Imperial like yourself…not without fear of being gutted of course," Morgan smiled. "What were the other names you have been called?"
"I may divulge them to you in time."
"So that means I can guess then? How about 'Cute'? No? What about…'Brooding Man'? OH! I got one! What about…."
Lucien leaned in to hear what she would say next, as she had dropped her voice to a whisper.
Lucien frowned as Morgan burst out laughing. She giggled profusely for a few seconds before regaining her composure. She patted his shoulder and smiled.
"Sorry, couldn't resist. I will refer to you as Lucien, or Speaker, depending on our audience."
Lucien nodded and smiled as she tilted her head to follow her.
Morgan leaned backwards in her chair and sipped from a goblet of Alto wine. It was nearing midnight and so far no-one had been near the dark corner upstairs where she sat. Lucien was nowhere to be seen, although Morgan had a suspicion that he could go invisible whenever he wished to, and that he was watching her as she sat there.
She crossed her legs and looked over the balcony. Down on the lower level, there were dozens of people. Some were asleep in their chairs, while others were dancing to the tunes that the young bard Lisette was producing with her flute. And some others were doing things that bordered on breaking the law…or what used to be the law until Elisif had been removed from her seat of power.
Two women were sitting on a mercenaries lap and caressing his groin, leg and chest…while a third woman helped herself to what was in his pockets. Another man was trying to arm wrestle a rather tall Nord woman, only to be flung to the ground from a display of raw power, amid cheers among those that were watching.
Morgan looked around to see someone standing there and clutching her dress as though it were the last remaining thing that she owned.
"I am. The Night Mother has heard your pleas."
Morgan was proud of herself saying something like that. She hoped Lucien approved as well…she didn't want to piss him off. She gestured for the woman o take a seat and then she hid a gasp as she realised who this person was.
It was none other than Vittoria Vici, someone who had partial running of the East Empire Company and was a very influential figure in Skyrim.
Or used to be Morgan amended mentally as she took in the other womans appearance.
Vittoria had seen better days. Her dress was frayed and her hair was tangled in knots at various places. It looked as though she had lost everything and had resorted to murder to get revenge on whoever had slighted her.
"I…I don't know what to say. I never believed the Dark Brotherhood would still be alive. We all heard about a slaughter near Falkreath…"
"They missed some of us," Morgan replied as she leaned forwards and rested her hands on the table. "Who do you need to be removed?"
Vittoria took a deep breath before replying. Morgan knew that this young woman had changed forever for what she had done, but at the same time, she also knew that she had killed a guard who obviously was not a true guard.
"I want Erikur to be drowning in his own blood. I want to see his life flash before him while his heart is removed from his chest."
"Thane Erikur? I know of this person. What did he do?"
"What do you think?" Vittoria spat as she picked up the bottle of wine and drank from the bottle before looking at Morgan with a saddened expression. "He took my house from me. And when my would-be husband tried to stop them from throwing us out…he was killed. And then that pompous bastard said the guard acted in self defence! No, I want him gone. Dead. I care not how or when, I just want him dead."
The last sentence was hidden among a sobbing noise, but Morgan knew how much pain she was under. She still thought about her husband every so often, but she found that the memories were always slipping away…she deduced it was her vampiric blood that was doing this, which was why she always talked about him to Serana. It was way of keeping those memories intact.
"This will not come cheap."
Vittoria looked up and placed a sack on the table.
Morgan opened it to find over a dozen blood red rubies within, all of them flawless in design.
This would keep her looked after in an inn for years or even afford a small home of her own. She really wants him dead if she is willing to throw away what wealth she had left.
"I hid it in my dress when I was allowed to take a few clothes before I was ejected. I guess this is enough?" she whispered, tears falling down her face.
Morgan reached over and gently clasped her hand.
"He will die by my hand. He will be serving Sithis in the Void before he knows who sent him to his death."
"I have one extra thing to ask if I may…could you tell him it was I that did this? I want him to scream as he leaves this plane, knowing he was beaten utterly in the end." Vittoria asked.
"I think the money here is enough for that request to be done. And so begins a contract bound in blood. But before you go, I have a few questions."
"The first one is simple. Where is Elisif and Sybille?"
"In the dungeons. Erikur keeps them locked away as he knows that if there were found dead, there would be chaos."
"Second question. Where is the Dragonborn's housecarl?"
"Jordis? She is confined to Proudspire manor. Apparently, Erikur tried to eject her from there and ended up on the street along with six others in a pile. They have surrounded the estate ever since, trying to starve her out."
"Good. One final question. Is there an easier way of getting inside the Blue Palace other than the front door?"
Vittoria smiled for the first time.
"Here. This key will get you inside either wing. I don't know where that bastard will be though, nor how many will be with him."
"I will take care of that problem. And Vittoria? Don't mention this meeting to anyone."
"I have been around Skyrim long enough to know that keeping secrets is important, assassin. I will not tell a soul."
Morgan nodded as she stood up.
"See you around Vittoria…or not."
Vittoria Vici blinked and when she looked around, she could not find a single hint of where that woman in black had vanished to. She clutched her hands to her chest and shivered, feeling as though she were still being watched.
Then she looked down at the table to see a single red ruby there.
She gingerly picked up the valuable stone and looked around again. Still seeing nothing, she placed the gem inside the pocket near her waist and latched it shut. She knew that calling an organisation like that was a major risk, but if there was one thing she had learnt in Skyrim, it was that harsh measures sometimes had to be called for.
She had also always prided herself on the ability to know what the other person was like in terms of the way they spoke and sat, but the assassin who had been there was so polite yet remained…cold. She was clearly a confident woman, but Vittoria had now idea how she would gain access to Erikur when he must have a few dozen corrupt men and women surrounding him.
She shivered again as something brushed her cheek and she spun around to see Lisette standing there with a tray of sweet rolls, pasties and other assorted food.
"A stranger said to give this to you. She left a tip and ran off. Did you know her?"
Vittoria hid a smile as she took the tray and offered the bard a seat.
"No, maybe a well meaning friend perhaps. There are others like the Dragonborn around surely."
Lisette laughed as she took the seat and the two women began to eat, not knowing that they had both been observed the whole time.
Lucien smiled. He loved teasing others while being unseen. He hadn't been able to resist stroking the grieving widow on the cheek with his ghostly finger. He had also watched as the vampire conducted herself with a polite and business like manner, although she had left a ruby behind as a way of compassion.
He knew she would do something like that, but he also knew that Morgan hadn't betrayed her identity, so he felt no need to berate her for it when he went outside to see Morgan herself standing there with a raised eyebrow.
"How did I do?"
"You will make an excellent addition to our Family, Sister."
Morgan gave a small smile of thanks before vaulting over the wall and onto the alley below. Lucien grinned as he followed suit.
The hunt was on.
A/N: Yep, a whole chapter pretty much devoted to Lucien and Morgan ^_^ Hope it might have answered a few of your questions about who was the target (although the idea of Vittoria being the client was an idea I found ironic and amusing, hence the reason why I stuck with it XD)
Also a MASSIVE internet hug to Gangyzgirl for allowing me to use her nickname of Lucien (you have no idea how hard it is for me to write 'Lucien' instead of 'Buddy', Gangy :P)