Happy Mammoth Monday!...long time no see?
Hehe, I must admit that I started a bit later than I had scheduled, two weeks to be exact, but I had a period of four weeks before Christmas, where the very notion of spare time was lost to me, and I have only managed to catch up to two of those.
Anyway, the story will be updated every Mammoth Monday and Before Friday Thursday(there are good(actually scratch that). There are reasons for them being called this listed in the previous stories).
Anyway, for first time readers(you might want to start at the beginning of the story):
"Bold text inside quotation marks is someone speaking in the Ancient langauge"
"Italic text inside quotation marks is now defined as the character speaking in any other language than the human one and Ancient one"
Italic text without quotation marks are direct thoughts.Oh, and in case you are still wondering over the ADG or BDG, know that they stand for After- or Before the Death of Galbatorix, and if you are extremely lazy, then you can just read the timeline in my Sidestories to get a quick understanding of what has happened until now.
And so, here is the first chapter. Enjoy.
Home is behind
Loivissa POV(late winter, 641 ADG)
It was the spring 641 years after Galbatorix had died, 470 years since she had first met the being known as Mercury Iridium and 393 years since He had betrayed her utterly and wholly when He had used her ill-given oath to force her to do something completely against her will.
After that fateful night, she had returned to Alagaësia heartbroken and in tears. Her friends and family had all tried their best to comfort her, but nothing had worked for long, so, instead of continuing to grieve over someone that she could no longer stand, she had decided on the second-best thing to do; try to erase all evidence of Him from her life.
That being said, it had been easier said than done, though no one could say that she had not tried fervently. Her first action had been to spend a ton of money, almost to the point of bankrupting herself, on rebuilding every single part of Nolondil, along with renaming it Dras Draumr.
Unfortunately, the mountain's name of Eregion had been too firmly engraved in the collective conscious and The Empire's administrative branch to be changed, though she certainly had tried her best to make it happen nonetheless.
She had also been the primary force behind encouraging the then High Queen Alarice to send spies to Damocles in order to keep watch of what He was doing over there, though quite a few of the riders that had known him personally had also been rather forward about their belief that it would be best if the dragon riders were to move into Damocles to make sure that He did not act against the best interest of the world.
He had of course refused any permanent establishment of a dragon rider outpost inside the boundaries of His kingdom, and since the dragon riders, and Alagaësia in general, were not strong enough after the Second Ra'zac War to force any treaty on Him, they had had to resort to simply monitor his actions via human imperial spies.
Unfortunately, as it so often happened with the short-lived mortal races, High Queen Alarice's successor had not decided to keep funding the espionage network that they had planted within Damocles, and although Loivissa could see his argument for his actions; nothing of importance had happened that could be of any concern to The Empire's citizens for four decades, she had, at the time, felt that it was the wrong move to make.
After the withdrawal of the spies, nothing really happened outside of Alagaësia's borders. The world outside of them might as well not have existed, as any and all knowledge of it only became scarcer and more obscure with every generation that passed without any news or meetings between Alagaësians and the outsiders.
Stories became myths, myths became legends and His legend was an epic one among the commoners of Alagaësia. When seen from the viewpoint of such commoners, Loivissa had no problems with understating just why it was that His legend had become so grand.
Unlike her own father's legend, His was not the single tale of a dragon rider that rose up to lead a rebellion and defeat a tyrant, before he sailed east, never to be seen again in the western lands. No, His legend was one of an entirely different nature.
His was one of an ordinary human male that had fought toe to toe along with the mightiest of Alagaësia's warriors. It was also one of death and resurrection, of bargaining with gods and achieving immortality and mystical powers beyond mortal comprehension in order to protect and of appearing just when Alagaësia needed Him the most in order to save it from the clutches of destruction.
Of course, it went without saying that most of the legend was a lie. In half of His epic fights, He had been cheating or otherwise tricking His opponent, and the other half were only added on later. His "resurrection" had been nothing more than a magical healing, though an extensive one at that, His so-called powers were all based on lies and deceit, except for Him actually being a quite accomplished mage, and His appearances to "save" Alagaësia from destruction had never been as simple as the commoners had seen them as.
Still, like with the Eregion name, the legend of Him had been too firmly engraved into the collective conscious for Loivissa to even bother to try to make corrections to it. Over the past four centuries, she had however succeeded in finding and destroying any and all remains that He had left behind after the Shadow War.
Still, the consequences of the Second Ra'zac War had affected many others in her family than just her. Helen had for example refused to even touch a dragon egg afterwards, as she might have been traumatized after what had happened to her mother and the state that her aunt had returned to Alagaësia in, and so, it had been another five generations before another dragon rider had been found from the Shadeslayer bloodline.
There had been other changes close to Loivissa's person too, as Blödhgarm had left the dragon rider council and returned to western Alagaësia to help rebuild it not long after the end of the Second Ra'zac War left. His dedication to rebuilding his homeland, his deep-seated wisdom from his centuries on the council and his unwavering loyalty to his elven monarch had since then secured him the position as Queen Islanzadi's foremost bodyguard and advisor.
As for returning to how Loivissa had fared afterwards, the withdrawal of the spies from Damocles had not been easy on her peace of mind. Soon after they had been withdrawn, she had begun seeing His face in the dark crevices in Dras Draumr late at night, and she had soon been forced to leave the estate entirely to Helen's descendants in order to try to get away from his ghost.
And still, He would not stop tormenting her, as whenever she found herself without anything to do for too long, her mind would constantly wander to Him, and in order to prevent this from happening, she had had to constantly keep herself busy.
This decision had led her to accept any and all dragon rider-duties, no matter how menial they were and how she was far too experienced to have to deal with such matters. It was this tendency to constantly keep herself busy that had over time earned her a reputation of never needing any rest or any vacation, just the next assignment.
Over the centuries, she had been presented as an example for numerous young riders to follow and had received many recommendations by Lifaen, the commander of the dragon riders in western Alagaësia, which had replaced Evandar 470 years ago, and his dragon; the silver-coloured female, Sil.
Loivissa had hated it at first, as what drove her to work as hard as she did was not something that should be sought after or held up for people to admire, but eventually, she had come to accept that presenting her as an example of a hard-working senior dragon rider to all the new dragon riders and dragons that were full of themselves for having just graduated, was indeed just another way of helping the dragon rider order.
Her work ethic was what had landed her where and when she was right now; walking down a dark narrow alley in Teirm close to midnight in just another one of her luckily endless assignments. This current assignment was actually a bit of a curiosity, as it did not actually involve directly helping anyone or ousting and stopping some group of unlawful troublemakers.
In fact, her assignment consisted of figuring out why virtually all the bandit groups and other shady people that roamed Alagaësia had slowly but surely begun to vanish over the past years. You knew that you were running out of things to spend your time on when you began investigating why there was not anything out of order.
The problem, or lack of one, had taken several years before anyone had even started noticing it, and when they had finally figured out that for some reason, troublemakers were disappearing, almost everyone had pretty much just rejoiced and not bothered to look further into it.
The almost being that the dragon riders had indeed found it disconcerting, and after failing to convince the Empire to launch a proper investigation of the matter, they had taken matters into their own hands and had launched their own investigation, which pretty much just consisted of Loivissa trying to figure out what had happened, as it was still not thought of as high enough of a priority to put multiple riders on the job.
Her own investigation into the matter had actually not born all that much fruit after an entire year had passed since it had begun, and it had only been recently that she had managed to get into contact with her first solid lead into what exactly had happened to all of those people.
The lead was a person that was well known among the Empire's agents, which was how she had learned of him, though he had not used to be anything more than the owner of a business that helped fence stolen items for thieves and whatnot.
His aid in stopping several more aggressive bandit groups had been what had kept him out of jail and able to continue his shady side-business, but like so many others, virtually all of his shady businesses had apparently stopped half a year ago.
The usual authorities had written it up to him finally going all legit and had cared nothing more for it, but Loivissa, who was in a position to see the larger picture, had spotted that all of the known money-launderers, fences and other such shady people were one by one supposedly going completely legitimate virtually overnight.
In the end, she had chosen the Teirm fence because he was known to be cooperative when he thought that something was threatening his neighbourhood or the safety of his city or country. A fence he may be, but he was also highly patriotic.
She had left Adûn waiting in the Teirm keep, as bringing a dragon to a meeting was not exactly subtle, though he was following his every move via their link.
Though the clouds blocked out most of the light from the stars and the moon, Loivissa had no trouble seeing with her elven vision. That was why she spotted the cloaked figure at the end of the alley far sooner than he spotted her, and her silenced steps made sure that he was not alerted of her presence before she was almost directly in front of him, at which point, the man jumped back in shock and reached for a concealed weapon at his waist, before he finally recognized her.
"Do not scare me like that! I was this close to trying to stab you!", the upset fence exclaimed as Loivissa lowered her hood from her face.
"You would not have succeeded", she simply objected, before she went straight to business, "so, what is this life-important message that you needed to meet with me personally to deliver?"
"First, you ward me the very best you can, and then we can talk about what I have to say", the clearly nervous and fidgeting man countered.
"We are alone in this alley and can see every motion in the alley for hundreds of metres", Loivissa commented with a wave of her hand to emphasize her point.
"Ward first, then we can talk, or else, we do not talk at all", the fence continued to demand.
Sighing at his stubbornness, she nevertheless complied to his demands and began the extensive procedure of warding him with the very same wards that she herself had used every time she knew that she was going to battle.
"Alright, you now have better wards on your person than I have. Speak", Loivissa assured the paranoid fence.
With a final nervous glance around at their surroundings, the paranoid fence finally arrived at the very reason for both of them being here, as he started to clearly nervously say, "I am sure that you know about all of the fences shutting down. Heh, if you did not, then you would never have found me and we would never even be here tonight".
"Get to the point already", Loivissa growled at his postponing the real issues.
"Right, ehm, as I was saying, the fences are not actually shutting down, they are just- ugh", were his last words before Loivissa felt two objects tear their way through her own wards, as, what she now saw to be two crossbow bolts, flew just past her and then tore straight through the wards that she had placed on the fence with hardly any trouble whatsoever, before they finally stopped as they imbedded themselves into his throat and chest respectively.
The reflex to grab the injured fence and seek cover behind a small wooden basket overwhelmed any other thought in Loivissa's head, but to her surprise, no more bolts were fired in their direction. Despite what many believed, a bolt wound did not usually kill its victim immediately, unless it hit the heart or head, and even if it hit an artery, magic would still be able to heal the victim quickly enough to allow them to live, which was why Loivissa was confident that she could still save her snitch and get whatever information he was tried to be killed for disclosing.
"Lay still, I will heal you", Loivissa tried to calm the now shaking and frothing fence in her arms.
He appeared to regain his senses just long enough for him to grab unto her cloak and drag her face millimetres away from his own, as he, with froth still spitting out from his mouth, said, "no, poison, too late! Have to listen- she- the devil lady is here- building army- have to warn-", but whatever else he had meant to say was lost forever as he went limp in Loivissa's very arms, still staring right into her eyes with frightened and yet determined eyes.
No, no, no, no, Loivissa chanted as she closed the eyes of the now dead human in her arms, before her gaze was involuntarily drawn to the two bolts that were protruding from his body, and in an act that she did not fully understand herself, she took hold of one of them, the one in his chest, and pulled it out of him and stored it in her belt, before she let the body drop to the cold ground.
She did not know what had compelled her to do as she had done, though she had a faint idea that it might be the wish to avenge the fence by stabbing his assassin with his own bolt, but she did realize the danger that she was placing herself in as she scrambled out from her cover and began to quickly ascend the adjacent buildings, as the bolts had seemed to emanate from somewhere higher up.
Strangely enough, not a single bolt was fired against her from the moment when she exited her cover and until she stood upon the roof tiles of one of the buildings in Teirm, but as she surveyed her surroundings for any sign of enemies, she only just managed to spot a high dark figure with an equally dark cloak leaping down from a rooftop some distance away.
It could be a trap, Adûn warned her as she began her sprint across the roof tiles.
I have to take the chance to figure out what is going on, Loivissa argued as she jumped across a chasm between two houses.
Alright, but I have already alerted the night guards to your peril, Adûn relented, knowing after five centuries of being bonded when she could and could not be persuaded, just…be careful.
Thank you, I will, Loivissa replied as she finally reached the spot where the figure had disappeared.
No dark figure could be seen on the entirely empty streets of Teirm, and a pushed over basket was the only clue to what direction the figure had disappeared to from there, so, without wasting many other thoughts, Loivissa jumped down from the roofs and followed after her fleeing prey.
Because the alley that she now went into ran in a straight line for quite a while without any side-alleys to turn to, Loivissa managed to catch a glimpse of the assassin as the dark figure went into the first left side-alley that came, though he or she appeared to have tossed his or hers cloak away at some point during his or hers flight.
Perhaps he or she is shedding his or hers disguise in favour of another, Adûn proposed as she ran down the alley with all of her elven speed behind her.
Then I have to catch the culprit before I completely lose sight of him, Loivissa acknowledged her dragon's reasoning.
As she turned left at the same alley as the assassin had, she managed to catch a glimpse of a small dark-clad foot disappearing around a corner some distance away. It was as if whoever she was chasing also had elven speed to match hers, as she never seemed to be able to catch up with the perpetrator.
The cycle of catch continued yet again when Loivissa a little bit later rounded yet another corner in time to see a billowing black cloak disappear into a dark alley, which Loivissa just so happened to know from experience was a dead-end with no possible way of climbing the walls before she would arrive to catch him or her.
I have got you now, Loivissa mused almost happily as she rounded this one last corner in her chase, only to come face to face with a completely empty alley that ended abruptly in a solid brick wall. No doors or windows faced into this alley, so it was impossible for the assassin to have disappeared through one of those, and yet, he or she had somehow managed to do so anyway.
How the assassin had managed to disappear completely was anyone's guess, as there certainly would not have been enough time to scale the walls, and Loivissa had been certain that she had seen a black cloak disappear into here.
Wait, you saw a cloak go into here!, Adûn suddenly exclaimed within her head.
Yes, so?, Loivissa asked, as she could not connect the dots that Adûn apparently had managed to connect.
In your first sighting of the assassin, it was a high dark person with a cloak, but the next one had no cloak, then the next time, you saw a small dark foot that would not have fitted a high person very well, while in this last sighting, the figure suddenly had a cloak again, Adûn summarized her sightings.
Meaning that there were multiple figures!, Loivissa realized, but then that would mean that they wanted me to follow them here, only to then leave me alone, but why go through so much trouble for nothing?
…They wanted to draw you far away from where it happened!, Adûn was once again the first to figure it out, I am alerting the night guards to get there as quickly as possible.
And away from the only physical evidence that something happened!, Loivissa realized a moment later, as she immediately turned around and started sprinting back the same way that she had come, leaving the issues of just how the figures managed to disappear during the chase for a later time.
As it turned out, she really had travelled quite far across Teirm, and when she finally arrived back at the scene of where the fence had died in her very arms, it was only to discover the night guards mulling around there with seemingly no clue as to why they were there.
A quick questioning of the guards and an investigation of the crime scene revealed that the body had been gone when the guards had arrived, along with the bloodstains on the walls that had come the moment that the bolts had hit the now dead fence.
To her surprise, none of his blood had been spilled on her when she had held him, and if any had landed on the ground, then that was gone too. All evidence of there even being a crime had disappeared without a trace, and without a body, bloodstains or other evidence to prove that something had actually happened, the Teirm city guards principally refused to invest manpower into the matter.
Whoever she is, she is good, Loivissa told Adûn as they departed Teirm early into the morning, before the sun had even risen, she has managed to kill her leak without a single trace and simultaneously make the city guards question my word in future cases because of this.
Whoever she is, she is not good enough, Adûn answered smugly.
How so? A man, our only lead, died and no one believes that it even happened, Loivissa questioned.
She did not count on you taking that bolt with you during your chase, Adûn said with pride in his voice, that little bolt in your belt proves that something indeed happened.
You are right!, Loivissa exclaimed and sent a wave of joy through their bond, when we get back to Ilirea, I can get this analysed to determine just how it managed to penetrate my most powerful wards with ease and just what exactly it did to that man to make him die as quickly as he did.
Though they had lost their primary source of information as to what was going on, they now at least had some way of making progress. It was this comforting thought that helped Loivissa fall asleep atop Adûn, just as the sun's rays peaked over the horizon ahead of them.
Ooooh, scary, wonder what will happen next(I currently feel like the annoying kid in class that is always shouting "I know! I know!" even when not asked a question).