Title: Curiosities

By: Cypress Artemis
Summary: Lucien was an assassin from Cyrodiil, his Listener, the fabled Dovahkiin from Skyrim. Surely they must overcome a majority of contrariety to work well together.


Shadowmere

It's really no great mystery why the demonic horse likes her so much. After all, when it comes down to it they are both very much alike. Aside from the obvious separate species obstacle of course.

Shadowmere had always been a free spirit of a horse. A courageous and loyal steed, willing to charge headlong into unmistakable danger, so unlike the nature of prey animals, in order to defend her master's life.

Lucien knew he had found a true diamond amongst cut glass the day he spotted the young filly, corralled in the fenced pasture of Black Waterside Stables in Cheydinhal. The place had been specializing in breeding some of the best horses in Cyrodiil for several years and their reputation boasting the fastest steeds available on the market with coats of velvet ebony.

The first day he laid eyes on her was also the first day he'd see sanctuary, having completed his initiation with skillful ease. At that moment he was far from his inevitable rank of Speaker and much younger, in his early 20's, and she was far from being reborn by Sithis as an eternal companion for the Brotherhood.

She was a large and muscular force to be reckoned with, teetering on the cusp of maturity and just old enough to begin the process of breaking. He'd lingered beside the fence, watching her toss her haltered head about, black wispy mane blowing against her neck and into rich brown eyes.

The boy tending the horses was younger even than he and relatively clueless, so evading the stablehand and prancing around him in a mocking dance of superiority as he failed time and again to belt the saddle upon her back was no challenge. Much too graceful and intuitive for the inexperienced youth to handle and the older man leaning against a post with arms crossed in observation laughed hardily.

The black mare snorted as though laughing at the retreating boy, now frustrated and embarrassed. Letting loose the other horses into pasture Lucien watched the mare rear, flick her tail, and bound playfully amidst an uninterested herd of older adults.

He'd taken his leave then, catching a final glimpse of the young mare nudging and nipping at the large old mare at the rear of the herd.

When he returned the next day in the still darkness of early morning, shiny red apple in hand, he found the mare standing beside the fence. Ears and eyes trained on him as he approached from the shadows into beams of first dawn's sunlight.

A quiet noise left her and her large neck arched it's way over the top rung of the fence post, nostrils flaring as she sniffed at his leather clad form. He reached out and touched her nose and she huffed mightily under his palm, but refused to pull away and just when he held up the apple she lunged, snatching it free, running off to the other side of the small enclosure just in case the mysterious stranger decided he wanted it back.

Lucien smiled, a huff of laughter on his lips.

She was a clever, tricky, and stubborn little mare and he knew then he wanted her.

His Listener was very much the same in many aspects. If he gave her enough leash she'd run with it as far as he would allow until forced to reel her back in, figuratively kicking and screaming, and resentful to be caught.

Always restless.

Most often enemies underestimated her, the little Nord, but then again the litheness of her body was misleading much like the legs of a horse. Upon first glance it would seem impossible for something so thin and delicate looking to be able to support such an exquisite structure, but there in lies a hidden strength and sure enough they bound away victorious.

Rosalind was just like that. She didn't seem like much but if he laid his hand over her shoulder and pressed he could feel the muscle hiding, concealed beneath her pale skin. If he curled his fingers around her throat he could feel the powerful vibrations of her vocal cords as ancient magic spilled from her lip, sending laughing bandits spiraling wildly through the air like snowflakes in a northern blizzard.

In the midst of the night she clung to the shadows, clad in ebony leather infused with void salts. The very nature of the armor appeared to absorb the darkness. Even to an assassin such as himself, who spent his life mastering stealth and concealing himself in darkness, he'd swear she manipulated the shadows to her own will. The pitch silhouettes just a new instrument for her to play with as she used her bow, cleverly firing arrows in random locations, forcing enemies to move as she desired like pieces on a chess board. It was child's play now to sneak past them all, bypass any obstacle unseen, and slip away into the night.

She was never content to just be still either. She traveled endlessly, flitting from place to place and never settling until exhaustion forced her out of commission. Sithis forbid he suggest that she rest a while. The stubborn little fool couldn't be bothered to rest when there were new words of power to learn, dragons to slay, pockets to pick, and Dwemer ruins to explore.

Yet somehow he had managed to talk her into taking a short break. To relax in the sun and stop for a quick snack as Shadowmere went about rolling around in lush grass like a dog.

Lucien watches Rosalind sit cross-legged in the grassy open space along the cobbled rode leading into Riverwood. She's jotting down notes in a journal, scratching out completed tasks and tedious irrelevant bits of information, and even doodling little pictures in the corner while she takes a brief rest in the hot afternoon sun.

Shadowmere is grazing behind her now, the mount's shadow looming over her every now and again when she moves, cloaking her in shadows that make her turn and nudge at stocky legs with explanations of, "you're in my light again," leaving her lips.

The mare jerks her head and huffs right in her face, a blast of hot horse breath making her eyes shut and her nose scrunch at the odor. Flat horse teeth clamp around the leather cover of the book and wrench it free and she trots off towards the rushing water of the river. Horse hooves making a rhythmic clop-clop noise over the stone as his Listener springs from her spot to chase the black steed. "No! Shadowmere, give it back!"

Lucien sighs heavily.

Yes, they are very much alike, and he alone is subject to deal with them.