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Aria Windfoot

"Don't make me hurt you. Because I won't regret it."

0 · 377 views · located in Skyrim

a character in “Skyrim: The Mentor & The Sellswords”, as played by Little Fox

Description

Aria

Image

Basic Info

Name:
Aria Windfoot
(Whisper, Shadow, Pick, Ari)

Race:
Elf (Bosmer)

Age:
22

Gender:
Female


Personality

Aria is a difficult person to describe using mere words. For those who can get past her constant façades and her initially cold demeanor, they’d know her as a kind soul. She doesn’t mind helping those who’ve taken the time to earn her trust and affections; though she doesn’t exactly leap to help those she’s unfamiliar or unfriendly with.

Before The Mentor found her, she had major trust issues with severe cases of monophobia, androphobia, and claustrophobia. She’s gotten over her claustrophobia and is able to cope with the androphobia and monophobia now, though sometimes the pair creeps back up on her.

She masks her fears and insecurities with amazing ease enough to seem *normal*. Even if she’s smiling as cheerily as anyone ever could, there’s a chance that she’s weeping on the inside.

Or seething with hatred.

For those that she doesn’t quite take a shine to, it’s wiser for them to sleep with one eye open, lest they end up with a blade to their throat or an arrow in their knee head. It’s almost second nature for her to toss a blade at those that push her buttons.

Equipment

Aria carries nothing more than a few weapons: Elven dagger, steel throwing blades, and an Elven Longbow. She does, however also carry with her a knapsack for...*borrowing* things from places that she...eh...walked into. A trusty lock picking kit is with her always for those ‘just in case’ times. Her outfits are all black and range from revealing to full-body. Around her neck is a feather-shaped pendant with a ‘W’ engraved upon it.

Abilities

Aria never was one for head-on combat. Her skills rely on stealth. Her agility, aim, and flexibility donate generously to her deadly abilities with ranged weapons. Spears and javelins aren’t really her thing, but throwing knives and bows are. For those rare instances that she engages into close-quarters combat, she’s got a trusty dagger.

Her magic skills lie within the realm of illusions and alterations. All other forms of magic seem to be just out of her reach.

History

Aria was never from one particular place – Her parents were always on the move. She never had any brothers or sisters, merely enjoying life as a nomad with her parents. It was a peaceful and a rather quiet life as they kept out of civil affairs. Her father trained her with the use of ranged weapons for catching prey while her mother taught her the uses of many plants and cooking. Aria had planned to live on the road always – Free from anyone’s rule and obeying only the laws that nature provided. It seemed easy and fun enough. She could easily take care of herself. Though she wasn’t sure what she’d do for a husband. But that wasn’t her concern just yet. She lived life for the moment, measuring it by each moment that took her breath away.

It wasn’t until she twelve years old that her entire happy world was shattered. A group of merciless thieves and assassins had come upon where the Windfoots had made their camp for the night near Clearspring Tarn. The brutes demanded all that they had, including their daughter. Naturally they offered everything but their daughter, though it didn’t seem to be enough. Even with their lives threatened, they would stand up for the young girl. Sending her off to run away, her parents fought off and attempted to distract the group while Aria ran as she never had before.

Of course, she was no match for them, as they easily caught up to her by way of horse. From then on, the happy life that she knew was no more. At first, she was nothing short of a slave to their whims – Be it of domestic or sexual. She did eventually find the will to fight back and the gall to attempt murdering a few. Taking a shine to her spunk, they began to teach the girl their ways.

The happy little ray of sunshine was moulded into a cold killer and thief . She was no longer Aria, she became Shadow. She stopped trusting people altogether, always thinking that their kindness came at a price; that every always had some sort of ulterior motive. She became defensive and easily angered, seeming to have a lit fuse all the time about one thing or another.

It wasn’t until she was busted trying to steal soul gems from a magic shop that she began to regret getting comfortable with her lifestyle. She was a wanted criminal. With her head under the executioner’s blade, she glared at the crowd and accepted what was coming to her. Of course the bandits that raised her weren’t going to help the teenager. They were leaving her there to die as punishment for her failure.

It was The Mentor that saved her. That came forward and took her from that place. Living with him and the others, he taught her to trust. He helped her overcome each and every one of her fears. She actually made friends and was happy again. Doing right by the world made her feel better and she did all that she could to atone for her previous sins...But now with The Mentor gone, her fears have returned, her fingers burning to become sticky as her lock picks cry out to be used. Her blades demand blood. She needs to help find him before she becomes Shadow again.

OOC

These questions will let me know a little more about you as a player.

What experience do you have with the Elder Scrolls universe?:
I’ve played Morrowind and Oblivion and I study as much as I can (I love knowing things x.x)

How often do you get online?:
Every day, usually.

How often can we expect you to be able to post?:
At least once or twice a day. If I’ll be away longer than 2 days, I’ll forewarn the GM and allow someone to take over my character until return if not sending my character on to *personal matters*


Password:
Fus
Ro
Dah!

So begins...

Aria Windfoot's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Claren Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Demea Ravenwing Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Cassadin Hawke Character Portrait: Lok-Indra Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: S'Baad

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Contents
Prologue: Without a Leader
Chapter I: The Shadow Over Markarth
Chapter II: Hammer, Feather, and Flame
Chapter III: The Game Begins
Chapter IV: A Nest of Vipers
Chapter V: Waking Nightmares
Chapter VI: The Darkest Places
Chapter VII: The Fair Maiden
Chapter VIII: War Without, War Within
Chapter IX: The Library
Chapter X: Coldharbor
Epilogue: The Way Forward

Skyrim...

It was a land in turmoil. For years tensions had been on the rise between the Empire, seeking only to maintain peace in their northern province, to stay the wrath of the Aldmeri Dominion, and the local Nords, who believed their way of life was being threatened, and rightly so. The Elven Thalmor, representatives of the Dominion, sought to banish worship of Talos, and there was little the Empire could do to oppose them. Tensions reached a breaking point when Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Windhelm, began his rebellion against the Empire by slaughtering the High King of Skyrim, Torygg, in spectacular fashion. Civil war appeared certain in Skyrim, at least until the Empire managed to lure Ulfric into a trap, forcing him and his men to surrender without a fight. The rebel Stormcloaks were then transported to the castle-town of Helgen, to be publicly executed, along with another individual who did not yet realize his importance. However, things did not go as Imperial General Tullius had planned. Helgen found itself attacked and destroyed by a creature out of myths and legends, and Ulfric and his loyal Stormcloak soldiers found themselves free once more... but these events have yet to reach the ears of anyone beyond the nearby town of Riverwood...

And though these events were of great import to the fate of the land itself, they are not the focus of this story, merely the backdrop. In the west of Skyrim, near Solitude, the Empire's seat of power in the province, was a large manor belonging to a man that went almost exclusively by the name of "The Mentor." It was a large building, complete with separate bed quarters, a large dining hall, a small library, training grounds, capable of housing perhaps a dozen individuals, and it was currently near its capacity. Those inside had experienced incredible amounts of change over the courses of their lives. Some had been murderers, others thieves, addicts, scum, monsters in the wild. They were none of these things now, due to the their Mentor's influence. Their lives and their talents had been turned towards a nobler purpose, and one by one, they became part of a group that had come to be known as The Sellswords. They were a guild of sorts, albeit one that wasn't openly accepting recruits. And though they didn't come close to the fame that the members of the fabled Companions received, the Sellswords did develop a reputation for being perhaps the most altruistic band of mercenaries in the land. The Mentor alone determined the contracts they would accept, and he and his recruits carried them out. For a time, all of their lives seemed to be on the mend. They were atoning for their past mistakes, finding out what they could do with their talents when they set their minds to it. They were building bonds of friendship, growing a sense of camaraderie. They were finding something of a purpose in the harsh, inhospitable north.

All that threatened to change upon the Mentor's disappearance. He had left the Manor before, often returning with new members for the others to meet, but not like this. He hadn't warned any of his students, hadn't given any plans to leave, hadn't received any contracts that day... nothing. It was as though he had simply up and left. And even though no one saw the Mentor depart, in their hearts, they could all feel it. The Mentor was gone, and he wouldn't be returning of his own accord. The Sellswords had always looked to him for guidance. Now he was gone, and they would have to decide for themselves what path to take. For many, the evils of their pasts would once again begin to creep up upon them, without the Mentor's guidance holding it back. All of them feared returning to the lives they had once led. some didn't have a choice; they could never go back. The only way was forward... to find the Mentor, and to find the answers behind it all.

All they had to go on was the hastily written note that had been found on his desk...




Prologue
Without a Leader



Dom Drayk
The Mentor's Manor, Dining Hall



Give him a chance. I believe in him. I believe in you. It starts in Markarth.

Drayk read the poorly scribbled note for what must have been the hundredth time that night. He hadn't even learned to read until the Mentor taught him two years ago. He knew the Mentor's handwriting, he'd stared at it for hours and hours those first few months, resisting the urge to light the paper on fire when he got frustrated. This didn't look like the Mentor's handwriting. It looked... like it was written in a panic. And in all the time he'd known the Mentor, and in all the time the others had known the Mentor (which was longer than Drayk, for some), they had never seen the man panic. He moved quickly when he needed to, but never panicked. But who would have written the note if not the Mentor? No one had gone up to see him in his study, no one new had entered the manor, and no one had left, for that matter. No one but the Mentor. Everything pointed to the Mentor leaving this note, and then simply vanishing without so much as a trace.

A full moon shone through one of the windows into the dining hall. It was somewhere around midnight now, meaning it had been over eight hours since anyone had seen the Mentor. Drayk sat in the chair to the right of the Mentor's, who had always sat at the head of their long table. It was a massive dining hall; perhaps three times their number could have comfortably enjoyed a meal in it. There was only one person missing from it now, but it felt as though the entire building was empty to Drayk.

More than anything, he felt frustrated. Everything the Mentor did made sense to him. Everything. Except this. Why would he leave like this? He wasn't dead, Drayk knew that much. The finest killer in the Dark Brotherhood wouldn't have stood a chance at bringing him down. He'd had time to write a note, albeit a poor one, so it didn't seem likely he was abducted or something ridiculous like that. Drayk had concluded that the man he'd known as a father had simply left in the middle of the day, without speaking to anyone, or being seen by anyone, and that there was a very good chance he wasn't coming back any time soon. It frustrated him to no end, and Drayk had learned that frustration turned his humor particularly acidic. He reminded himself to speak only when necessary tonight.

The Sellswords had gathered in the dining hall for an impromptu meeting of sorts. They had no leader now, so they had sort of just rallied here for a lack of a better place to be. It had been confusion, and a good few hours of searching the grounds before they'd concluded that the Mentor was nowhere to be found. And though it was midnight, of course none of them felt like sleeping. The Mentor was a symbol of their newfound purpose, and now he was gone. So they'd gathered for a talk, to determine their course of action. To Drayk, it was clear.

"It starts in Markarth," he said, sliding the note out onto the table. Everyone had seen it already, but it was still the only scrap of evidence they had to go on. "I say we start there. Take the horses and ride out at first light."

He looked around at the faces in the room. At Claren, Sinderion, Adrienne, Cassadin, Demea, Lok-Indra, Aria, Vanryth, and S'Baad. They were a screwed up bunch, but they were family now, and Drayk knew that whatever they did, they had to do as a group. They had no Mentor to lean on now, which meant they were just going to have to rely on each other.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Claren Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Demea Ravenwing Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Cassadin Hawke Character Portrait: Lok-Indra Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: S'Baad

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Sinderion Direnni
Mentor's Manor, Dining Hall


Sinderion sat immediately across the table from Drayk, expending a great deal of effort to remain as impassive as possible. A muscle in his jaw jumped as he clenched it, and he consciously made himself relax, smoothing out the tawny features of his face. His eyes- an unusual robin’s egg blue that suited neither his personality nor his lineage- never left the paper in his compatriot’s hand.

Presently, he was propped on the table by his elbows, arms folded across one another in an attempt to convey nonchalance, or at least less anxiety than he was truly feeling, but the way his feet curled around the legs of the chair for stability was a dead giveaway to his discomfiture. It was not every day that one’s life flipped completely upside down; indeed, prior to this morning it had happened but once in his life. That had been a change for the better, an opportunity to claw his way out of the hole into which he’d fallen, though that was perhaps an unfortunate choice of idiom.

This, he could not help but feel, was the opposite kind of upheaval.

Still, there must yet be a reasonable explanation, something they were overlooking or simply did not have the evidence to see. Sinderion had been under the tutelage of the Mentor for eleven years, and never once in this time span had he known the man to do anything without a solid plan, set three or more phases in advance, and thought through as thoroughly as possible. In all likelihood, Sinder would outlive the one who had saved him, without ever attaining that kind of wisdom. But that in itself was an unpleasant thought on at least two levels, and he banished it from his mind.

What bothered him the most was that, despite this, and despite the advantages provided by senses well beyond the norm for man, mer, or beast race, he could say no more about what had occurred than anyone else. By the time he’d begun his search of the grounds, the Mentor’s scent had been obscured just as surely as any trace he might have left behind, save the one solid piece of understanding they possessed: the note. This was peculiar on its own for too many reasons to enumerate, and it would be pointless to list them aloud anyway, for the others surely understood why he was troubled by it.

His worse half spurned his present state of intellectualization and demanded action, something which the rest of him could not wholly disagree with. Their lives were disturbed, a massive change in the pattern of their existences for which the only viable solution was reversal- they needed the Mentor back, as soon as possible. Even so… who was he? And what caused the need for such haste that the context of these three statements could not be explained?

At last, Sinderion tore his gaze from the parchment, unsatisfied but willing to admit to himself that for now, it would be keeping its secrets from him, however much he wished it were otherwise. His vision flickered from one member of his strange little family to the next, taking in expressions, words, body language. He was not as skilled at interpreting such things as Adrienne, but he knew most of them well enough to pick up on a few quirks of habit and idiosyncrasies of action. Dysfunctional was an understatement, but like everything else, the Mentor had managed to make it work. The altmer could only hope that the tenuous bonds of broken souls slowly mending themselves would hold in his absence for long enough to bring back his presence, whatever that meant.

Whatever that took.

Drayk was visibly upset, but he was also proposing what seemed to Sinderion to be a reasonable course of action. Slowly, the elf nodded. Under most circumstances, he would have left it at that; a small declaration of assent- no fanfare, no dramatics. This situation, he thought, deserved something a bit more than the merest agreement.

“I do not understand what has occurred, but I would not wager that it will be as simple as finding him there. If it starts in Markarth, it will likely end elsewhere. All the same, that seems the best thing to do at the moment.” It was not a particularly optimistic thought, but then that wasn’t what he thought most of them needed. Being honest with them about what he thought this would involve would hopefully allow them to do the same with each other, and prepare them all as much as was possible for a longer venture than one to a city in the south.

He did not know how long it would take to find the Mentor, and he could only hope that they would all be there at the end of it, as little worse for wear as possible.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Claren Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Ulysses Character Portrait: Demea Ravenwing Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Cassadin Hawke Character Portrait: Lok-Indra Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: S'Baad Character Portrait: Bellatrix "Bella" Whitewater

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Vanryth Galero
The Mentor’s Manor – Dining Hall




Tap, tap, tap...

An incessant tapping came from the oldest in the room, a scarred Dunmer sitting amongst his compatriots at the table. The quill in his hand drummed the table beside a piece parchment with his scrawling and thoughts. This was how he communicated fine thoughts to his companions now, through ink and paper. The reason was clear when he yawned, revealing an absence of where his tongue should have been. Vanryth quickly covered his mouth to save everyone from the sight of his disability. Once clear of his yawn, he rubbed his beard in quiet contemplation.

Like everyone else in the room, Van tried to think about what could have caused this sudden disappearance. The Mentor was always thoughtful enough to tell someone if he was going to go away for a bit, and he always came back eventually. This did not feel like one of those times where he would make his way back. Something felt... Different. Perhaps it was the note left behind. Hastily written, so unlike the Mentor. Van was much like Drayk in this regard, the Mentor had also taught Van how to read and write, though writing proved to be more useful to him than it did to Van. He wondered what could make the Mentor jot a note down in such haste... The Mentor was always patient and seemed like a careful man. It was a puzzle. And Van hated puzzles.

His hand now had drifted up and leaned on the table, covering up the left side of his face, obscuring the scars and the once crimson- now clouded eye. His vision didn't suffer from the obstruction as the sight was stolen from that eye. A thousand thoughts rushed through his mind, and he was agitated that he could not voice all of them. Though the clear mind that the mentor had instilled in him knew that the thoughts were useless, even if he had a voice. Those around him were the only ones (to his knowledge) who knew much of the Mentor, and even then it was scant. Most of them- Vanryth included- only knew him as the man who had saved them and put them on the right track.

Van sighed heavily and took a drink from the goblet that sat on the other side of his parchment. Alcoholic, no doubt. While the Mentor had succeeded in locking some of Van's demons away, more sprung up from the cracks of Van's psyche. This was one of them, the drink. The taste of it didn't matter- for obvious reasons- only the strength. Though he knew better than to over indulge on this night. The same could not be said on most other nights however. Van ventured a peak out of the window nearest him and was greeted by the sight of the full moon. It was high in the sky- marking it late in the evening or early in the morning. The sight of the moon caused him to shoot a glance at Sinderion before returning to the parchment in front of him.

Drayk was the first to break the silence. Van stopped the rythmic tapping of his quill as he spoke.

"It starts in Markarth. I say we start there. Take the horses and ride out at first light."

It was the next logical step it seemed. The Mentor had left them the note to follow, and it was rare that they went against his wishes. Though, Van couldn't help but wonder at what they would find in Markarth once they arrived.

Next Sinderion spoke.

“I do not understand what has occurred, but I would not wager that it will be as simple as finding him there. If it starts in Markarth, it will likely end elsewhere. All the same, that seems the best thing to do at the moment.”

Vanryth nodded along as he spoke. The boy had a point. Nothing was ever that simple. Though it was the only option they had at that moment, and Van was never the one to just sit around and do nothing. He pushed his hair back and leaned forward over the parchment and set his quill to writing. Vanryth finished his scratching and turned the parchment around and pushed it forward to allow those around him to read his words. The parchment was already full of Van's previous questions and statements- all marked through to allow for easier reading:

Vanryth Galero wrote:Where is the Mentor?

What do you mean gone? Where Oblivion's name did he go?

I'll check around the stables.

He's not here at all then?

Markarth? What's in Markarth? And who the hell is "him"?

I agree, we should heed the note. Too many questions not to. Let us just hope it doesn't lead to more questions. Though what we do when we reach Markarth is beyond me...



Vanryth leaned back with goblet in hand and allowed his misfit family to read his note. Van felt restless, like he needed to get up and get to Markarth that very instant. In his youth, he'd be out the door within minutes and saddled up for the road. With age comes wisdom as they say, and Van knew the wisdom of patience for now. It didn't mean he liked it and his subtle movements bespoke of his restlessness and eagerness.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Claren Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Demea Ravenwing Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Cassadin Hawke Character Portrait: Lok-Indra Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: S'Baad

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Adrienne Jastal
The Mentor’s Manor – Dining Hall


Skyrim. A civil war was tearing the land apart at the seams, and all she could think was that it would scarcely have mattered to her in the slightest, save that right now, she could sympathize, for her world was shattering.

Was it selfish, to think that way? Adrienne supposed it must be, but… maybe, in its own way, that was a good thing. It meant there was some kind of self there to be concerned about, and for the longest time, she had feared that once all the layers of lies and disguises had been peeled away, there would be nothing left at all. But there was. At the very least, there was someone who loved the Mentor and was concerned for the welfare of his other fledglings.

If he stayed gone, how much longer would that remain? She’d rather weather the battlefield a thousand times than find out. Her concerns were the same as the concerns of the others: why would he leave without telling them? Why did that note look almost as if it belonged to someone else? Who was the ‘he’ mentioned, and why would his message to them contain such a cryptic reference? Her first thought was that perhaps this was some other comrade that the Mentor had left to save, but that was never something he carried out without warning them well in advance.

Beneath the table, her hands clenched together, knuckles turning white. Situated as she was between Drayk and Van, she could see all of the others’ faces without trouble. Sinderion was trying to maintain his almost supernatural stoicism, but his lines were tenser than usual. Drayk wasn’t even bothering to hide his apprehension, and she resisted the urge to place a hand on his shoulder. That wouldn’t help anyone right now, after all. What they needed was a solution. Van was cupping one side of his face in his hand, scratching away at the parchment in front of him with dogged persistence. Though he still made her a little more wary than the others, she had volunteered herself to read his written missives to them, on the rationale that it was the nice thing to do, and she had discovered that she liked doing nice things.

“Vanryth says he agrees and we should heed the note, that there are too many questions not to do so. He hopes it won’t only lead to more questions, though, and points out that he doesn’t know what we’re supposed to do when we reach Markarth.” She paused for a moment, and considered the implied question in that. “It seems to me as though there’s no reason we cannot simply ask around first. We all know that our Mentor has something of a reputation in areas of ill repute, for example, and checking with innkeepers never hurts.” There was, in fact, much information to be had this way, and one of her skills happened to be collecting it, but of course this time it would likely require all of them to check the city over thoroughly enough.

Still, he’d never led them astray before. If he said Markarth, there was bound to be something there that they needed to see or hear. Perhaps someone. Ordinarily, the prospect of a puzzle would have lit a peculiar light in Adrienne’s doe-black eyes and placed a small smile on her face, but at the moment, it was all she could do not to weep as her stability was ripped out from under her. All of that foundation, those first tentative steps towards living a worthy life as a worthy person, they had all been built on him. A few supports now leaned on the others: Sinderion, Cassadin, Drayk, Demea even, and all the rest to an extent… but the majority of the burden had been the Mentor’s, and now it was all hers again, long before she was ready for it to be so. The weight was crushing, and she felt her ordinarily perfect posture slackening somewhat, as though it were also physical.

She looked down at her hands in her lap, taking steady breaths despite her turmoil. They’d once handled so many poisons and venomous dealings that she’d thought herself almost toxic. They’d very nearly brought a blade to many throats or wrists, and none had been closer than her own. But the thought of crashing back into that life, into that persona, was still repulsive to her, and that was surely a good thing. She could so this. They all could do this.

Adrienne swore right then and there that she’d do whatever she could to make sure they found the Mentor and remained themselves doing it. It was not an impressive vow, there was no grand proclamation involved, just a silent promise to all of them. I will try. I cannot promise I will succeed, but I will try.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Claren Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Demea Ravenwing Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Cassadin Hawke Character Portrait: Lok-Indra Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero

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Lok-Indra
Mentor's Manor (Dining Hall)

A feeling of angst consumed the air as confusion set in everyone's mind. Fear, panic, resentment, anger, and many other feelings ran rampant throughout the room. Lok peered around the room looking at his companions. His hands began to tremble with terror. He felt the loathing and bewilderment seeping back into his being. He caressed his staff in a calming matter. It was given to him by the mentor and always seemed to calm his mind. As Lok surveyed the room an intense feeling of dread came over him.

As he mulled over the situation a sudden realization came to him. He knew nothing of the mentor. "Who was he, where was he born, what was his past. Everyone else in this room has tattered atrocious pasts brought together by the mentors efforts. Not one of them had any resemblance of a normal life. What kind of person would be contempt living with all these monsters. Maybe he discarded us. It would be the first time any of us had faced abandonment.

All that was left was a cryptic note. "Give him a chance. I believe in him. I believe in you. It starts in Markarth." Lok read the note numerous times. It was only thanks to the mentor that he could read and write the in the languages of men and mer. While he can fully comprehend the language his speech was still a little broken. The room seemed to be filled with everyone agreeing to venture to Markarth to investigate further.

While Lok was reflecting on what action to take he saw Van slide a parchment with a few of his notes scribbled on it. One question in particular peaked Lok's curiosity. "Markarth? What's in Markarth? And who the hell is him?" "Him"... Lok began to wonder who was the person the mentor was referring too as him. Did "him" refer to a new member or a current member of the sellswords. Was this a test for one of the sellswords to lead the rest the way the mentor had. The mentor was getting older, it's possible he realized that his band of misfits would dissolve were he to suddenly pass away. Maybe this was a test to find someone that he could entrust to lead when he is gone. Lok gazed across the room at everyone. He never really trusted any man or mer except for the mentor. The thought of following another filled his mind with anger.

Everyone seemed in agreement with doing whatever it took to find the mentor. But what would it take. Many of them are wanted criminals throughout the land. Only thanks to the mentor's influences are they able to roam freely. Even with his influence there are many places that have not forgave their transgressions. Would they be allowed just to waltz into Markarth. Or would the guards be summoned to stop them at the gate. Lok did not want to throw away all the progress he made with the mentor by slaughtering the innocent, but he did not care if it led to clues regarding the mentors whereabouts. He removed his hood and spoke slowly in his broken tongue... "Mar...karth dan..gero...us pl..ace for me, but me... will go!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Claren Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Demea Ravenwing Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Cassadin Hawke Character Portrait: Lok-Indra Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: S'Baad

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S'Baad
The Mentor's Manor - Dining Hall


The world rocked for an instant, and S'Baad struggled to maintain his balance, both mentally and physically. The large feline stood furthest from the group, in his usual manner, but this had not excluded him from seeing or hearing the dreadful note and the strange words written on it. The Khajiit's whiskers twitched, and he resisted the urge to begin dry-washing his paws.

"This one wonders if it might not be a trap."

Certainly the idea was a little farfetched, but S'Baad was a thinker, and all the facts had to be considered in this situation. His mind was reeling from this blow, but if the Mentor had taught him one thing, it was to sort through the emotion and find the logic, the purpose. Purpose - the very word struck him a new blow.

"These ones do not know the handwriting," He began again, a thickly-accented rumble, "But these ones know it is not the Mentor's. This one thinks it best to explore this further before rash decisions are made."

S'Baad felt guilty once he finished; he knew the others were just as lost, and he was sure his attempt at voicing reason would be seen as cowardly. Still, he did not think it best to charge headlong into a situation they knew nothing about besides a location and a stranger they were to give a chance. The whole scenario was just too strange...

Still, the instructions supposedly came from the Mentor himself, and, as such, couldn't be ignored. And if he trusted the man they were to find, surely they could too.

Sighing softly, the Khajiit gave up his fight and began to dry-wash his paws, glancing about at each of his gathered companions, minus the recently-fled Demea, whom he hoped could retain that persona; the absence of her at this crucial moment would only serve to exacerbate an already tense situation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: S'Baad

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Sinderion Direnni
The Reach, Outside Markarth


Sinderion never slept well on nights with a full moon.

His particular strain of lycanthropy wasn’t dependent on the lunar cycle, but there was no denying that the temptation was hardest to resist when the silvery orb in the night sky was at its brightest. It called to the beast in his blood like it called the tides, pulling those urges and primal thought processes from where they had receded in the back of his mind to the very forefront, making the fight against them something conscious, immediate unlike it was on any other day in a month.

Sometimes, when it was particularly bad, he and the Mentor would spend the space from dusk to dawn in the library, talking in hushed voices about forests and lives and things usually left in the dark, or else books and projects and the challenges of mercenary work. Tonight, however, he would be coping on his own, and upon reaching his quarters, Sinderion loosed a rare sigh. His room almost remembered a monk’s cell, bare of anything save a bookshelf, a rug, and a mat upon which to sleep.

Since that was unlikely, Sinderion chose instead to prepare his belongings for the next day and then settled in the center of the rug, folding his lengthy legs beneath him and settling his forearms on his knees, back perfectly straight. Regulating his breathing, he allowed his surface-level thoughts to ebb away ad he’d been taught long ago, and with it, the song in his beast-blood died to a gentle hum, a bit louder than usual but still bearable. This entire situation was undesirable, but it would be managed.

He pondered his friend S’Baad’s words for a moment. Indeed, the likelihood of a trap was high, and yet… what other choice did they have. If they were to spring its jaws, at least they would be doing so intentionally and not completely unawares. After a while, these thoughts, too left him, and Sinderion was alone in his mind at last. It was a strange dual feeling, as though he were both profoundly empty and completely fulfilled at the same time. The first time he’d described that to the Mentor, as a mere boy of seventeen, the man had smiled at him, and he recalled it clearly even now because it had been the first time in years that he’d ever felt as though he'd done something right.

His breath hitched, but he smoothed it over and began anew. Such was the process; new thoughts would always try to intrude, as the mind was active by nature.

When dawn threaded the first tendrils of sunlight through his window, Sinderion opened his eyes and stood smoothly, taking up his things without another word. Downstairs, Adrienne had made everyone something to eat, and he partook generously. Restful meditation may be, but it was no substitute for actual sleep, and he needed to prevent his energy from flagging.

As it turned out, he need not have bothered. Their ride was uneventful, and he spent a good portion of it at the back of the formation, slumped forward on his horse and sleeping. His heightened senses would wake him if anything approached from the rear, and the others would do so if they were attacked from the front of flanks. If it was possible to look dignified sleeping in such a fashion, Sinderion did, but it was also a little silly. Not that he minded much; he had never been overly concerned with how he appeared to others. Trying to keep them safe from you tended to have that effect.

He woke a few hours from Markarth and blinked slowly, taking in his surroundings. Drayk was talking up ahead, and Sinderion could just make out the words due to acute hearing, but the words were obviously not meant for him, so he did not pay them much mind. Catching Aria’s eye, one corner of his mouth quirked up briefly, which was about as close to a reassuring smile as someone like Sinderion could manage.

To S’Baad, he said “Unusual, that we encountered no bandits.” None of the holds had a guard force large enough to make regular raids on the countryside, but maybe one of the armies had camped nearby and broken up the local resistance. “No Forsworn, either.” His brows furrowed, but they were approaching Markarth now, and Adrienne was speaking. He tuned into the sound of her voice easily, and nodded when she suggested that she talk to the guards. It couldn’t hurt to forewarn them that the Sellswords were entering the area. Of course, there was also a degree of danger to her alone if they did not much fancy the notion, but she knew how to look after herself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni

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Aria had slept that night, though not in her room. She spent her night pacing the gardens, throwing her knives into trees and kicking things over. She would much rather release her anger against the potted plants than upon her friends. They were leaving tomorrow - To Makarth. They were going to find out who this 'Him' was, and for his sake - He had better have damn good information about where the Mentor had gone. Aria could already feel her short-tempered nature of days past returning. Her normal copper complexion was now rather crimson as her chocolate eyes took on an angered and cold glare. She stopped for a moment and closed her eyes, gripping her blade tightly. "Don't worry...We'll find him. And things will be better. Mentor would be ashamed to see you breaking already. He taught you better than that." She gave herself a short pep talk before moving to her favorite old tree, climbing high into the boughs where she curled herself up on a quartet of branches that formed a sort of cradle. She had gotten used to sleeping in places like this years ago, so it didn't bother her or even present a problem for her to fall asleep easily.


---------------------------Traveling---------------------------

The Elf had slept well that night and was still rather sleepy as she sat astride a pure black Riften Fox-Trotter, her body bobbing limply with each step that her mare took. She hadn't even done her hair that morning, letting her chestnut tresses cascade down over her shoulders. She could hear Dom up ahead chatting with a young boy, but didn't pay it any mind. She only just wanted to shake herself awake and find the Mentor. Sitting up as straight as she could for her sleepy condition, she glanced over to Sin and returned his smile, though hers was a bit more shy in nature. Sin was a nice guy and Aria often found herself more comfortable around him than other men - But it was a strange feeling that she got around him; A good feeling that made her warm inside - It was this feeling that made her draw away from him as she did others. She didn't quite know what it was, she had an idea of what it was. She wanted to embrace it, but her fear wouldn't let her. She vowed that she would eventually. But she had all the time in the world for that. Shaking her head, she released a heavy yawn and slumped back in her saddle, letting her hair and head dangle as she slowly slipped back into a slumber.

Anyone who knew her well would know that since she had begun her life with the Mentor, she had grown overly comfortable with sleeping in until the afternoon. When she head Adrienne conversing with the guards, she immediately sat upright, trying to look just a bit serious, releasing another yawn. "I'm awake." She mumbled to no-one in particular. She followed after Adrienne, trotting her mare alongside hers as they went to the stables. "You think we'll have any luck here?" She held the reins with one hand and rubbed sleepily at her eyes with the other, glancing over to the woman alongside her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: S'Baad

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Dom Drayk
Markarth



Drayk shifted in his saddle when Adrienne returned, but it wasn't the horse that made him uncomfortable. Rather, it was the news that there was someone in the company of the Mentor, apparently one of them. That didn't make any sense to Drayk, seeing as all of the Sellswords were currently searching for him. So unless he'd acquired a new charge, then the man accompanying him was using it perhaps as a cover. Drayk did not know how the Mentor learned of individuals such as himself, people to seek out and turn to good, but he did know that the Mentor was nothing if not deliberate. If there was going to be a new addition to the family, he would have warned them better before seeking him or her out, if only to at least make them aware of the potential issues that could come up. Everyone in the Sellswords had known about Drayk's sensitivity to fire before he'd arrived, and it had allowed everyone to help him break of his habit.

The half-dozen Sellswords led their mounts to the stables, and proceeded on foot. Drayk left his armor in his bags, so as to not appear as though he was expecting a battle or anything. But he wasn't willing to part with Heartwood, his shield, which remained slung across his back.

The guards opened the gate for the group, perhaps slightly grudgingly. The captain who had spoken with Adrienne gave her a nod as she led the way through the gate. Drayk averted his eyes, for the most part, keeping them more or less locked on Adrienne's feet as he walked behind her. Guards didn't have the best effect on him. Never in his life had he seen city guards as men who were meant to protect him, but rather men who were meant to protect him from others. This was due to the fact that a guard had never actually protected him from anything, as he had always been the aggressor in the past.

The sun was setting as the group made their way into the market just inside the gate. Most of the merchants were closing up shop for the day and heading home. The sound of the city's rushing waterfalls could be heard in the distance, further in and closer to the mines for which the city acquired the majority of its wealth. The architecture here was unlike any other city in Skyrim, and perhaps Tamriel, being largely of Dwemer origin. Everything was made of stone, carved into the mountainside. The doors were heavy bronze creations, and the dark golden color decorated many of the building's walls. The dwarves that had built this city had of course disappeared along with the rest of their kind, by means unknown.

Drayk found the city's appearance to his liking. Stone didn't really burn that well, after all. But other than that, he knew little of it, as he'd never come this far west after fleeing Cyrodiil, at least not until the Mentor brought him to Haafingar Hold. Even then, he'd never traveled into the Reach as a Sellsword. It was a marvelous city to look upon, though he got the feeling that, like any city, it wasn't as beautiful to live in as it was to simply behold.

"Might be some loose lips in the tavern," Drayk commented to the others, keeping his voice somewhat low, and doing his best to not meet the stony gazes of the guards around the marketplace. "And I sure wouldn't mind an ale after that ride."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: S'Baad

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Sinderion Direnni
Markarth


Sinderion was impressed. He for one knew that he would not have been able to talk down the guards as Adrienne had. He supposed it must be easy to forget the young woman’s negotiation skills when she so infrequently spoke. It probably helped that of all of them, the small Breton was perhaps the least intimidating. He was too tall, Vanryth too scarred, S’Baad too… Khajit (a singularly unfortunate truth in Skyrim). Aria’s body language was vaguely wild even now, though she masked it well, and there was something akin to a smolder in Drayk’s eyes still, at least to his perception. There was just something about all of them that wasn’t quite ordinary no matter how they strove to appear otherwise, and he supposed that Adrienne alone was able to disguise it completely.

He swung off his horse at the stables and contemplated his options, eyes drifting over his weapons. It would be better to take all of them in, lest he find himself needing to defend himself or his comrades with only the worst option at hand. He took his blades from their places lashed to his saddle and affixed one to each hip. The bow and quiver weighed comfortably in his back. He was only lightly-armored on the best of days, but left behind his gauntlets and greaves, swapping these out for ordinary boots and gloves. It was as close to ‘nonthreatening’ as he could manage. At least he’d look the part of a hunter more than a soldier.

Trailing after the others, he kept wary eyes trained on the people passing them by. He disliked crowds immensely, and would go to great lengths to avoid touching anyone. At one point, the press of the crowd on a narrow stone walkway was such that he literally had to contort to avoid brushing a woman who wasn’t paying attention to her path. Releasing a controlled breath, he surreptitiously checked on his allies. No problems yet; this was good.

I believe in you. And they’d have to believe in themselves. Sparing the stone-hewn architecture a glance, he mused that it truly was a tragedy that the dwemer were gone from the world, though many of their cultural practices were less-than-favorable.

The group came upon a tavern, then, built less into the stone than the rest of the buildings but still unarguably a part of the cityscape. The Silverblood Inn. Something in that name caused the barest tendril of discomfort to slither down Sinderion’s spine. Scenting the air, he decided that there was not much, if any, silver in the immediate proximity and relaxed, a minor slackening of tense musculature so slight it was almost imperceptible. Only those who knew him best would be able to recognize it.

Drayk was the first to speak, and Sinder nodded his consent. “If we do not make the attempt, we shall never know.” With that, he approached the door and pushed, venturing inside and propping the portal open with his foot for the easy access of the others.

The interior of the place was about what you would expect from such an establishment: dark wooden floors, dingy whitewashed walls, a counter with the inn’s keeper behind it, polishing glasses and metal tankards until they approximated cleanliness. The patrons, too, were the usual fare: mostly travellers, regulars, and the odd bard here and there. Sinder had considered being a bard once; even learned how to play the flute. A thought a long way from today, in a past so distant it was almost hazy now.

There was a fire in the hearth, and Sinder’s eyes found Adrienne first, then darted to Drayk. He was certain she would understand, perceptive as she was, and of all of them, she was perhaps the softest touch. It wasn’t as though he expected Dom to go berserk at the first sign of a flame, but it never hurt to look out for each other. He personally was going to do his utmost to assure that nobody tried to paw at Aria and that Van didn't get too deep into his cups, which were the other most notable trigger-points in a situation like this, assuming nobody attempted to give S’Baad trouble for simply being what he was. Their best behavior was necessary here, and the more precautions he could take, the better.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero

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Vanryth Galero, Aria Windfoot, and Sinderion Direnni
Markarth


Sinderion turned his head to glance askew at Van, and followed the Dunmer’s eye-line to the table he’d indicated. While his comrade motioned for something to drink, Sinder strode over to the table indicated, taking his seat in the manner of Nords everywhere: without so much as a by-your-leave. The bench was hard beneath him and the air smelled of grime, but he was picking up mine-odor from the local man and the smell of steel and blood from the other. Warrior, then, probably, at least circumstantially so.

He seemed less gregarious than his companion, but then Sinderion wasn’t exactly sociable himself. A talkative man, he would never be, and it was only with careful consideration that he spoke at all.

The altmer’s lips parted hesitantly, as though he were hesitant to form them into speech. This was not the problem, exactly; he just possessed no gift for elegant speech or pleasant small talk. His words, when at last the bubbled up from his throat, were plain. “I seek a man. An imperial, of goodly stature, and a manner most uncommonly genteel. He travels in the company of another, and I am told he was here just yesterday. Might you know of him?”

Aria watched as her companions dispersed, standing on her lonesome for a moment or two before treading behind Sinder and Van. She couldn't help but to twitch away from tables where men seemed aplenty, pulling the dark hood of her cloak over her head and pushind her chocolate curls down her back. Keeping her head down, she took a seat near Sinder and listened in to their conversation. One of the men eyed them both, taking a longing gaze at Aria as he spoke. "Maybe I do...Then again, maybe I don't." He looked at the Altmer and the Dunmer before looking back at the Bosmer. "A bit of payment might...refresh my memory." He coughed up a pathetic attempt at a chuckle before taking a deep swig of ale, slamming his mug down on the table causing Aria to jump a bit. "Yer a twitchy li'l nit, aren't cha? Care to take that hood off-" The man reached out in an attempt to brush the hood from her head. She froze in fear and looked to her companions for some sort of help as she tried her best to avoid the grimy hand of the filthy tavern-goer.

Van's own hand intercepted the man's advance. He placed his own mug back to his lips and tilted, taking a swig but never breaking eye contact with the randy man. His single good eye flashed in irritation, signalling that this was not a good idea. Years of scars and a cloudy eye did seem to back that up. Vanryth then shook his head in a firm no and let the man's arm go with a push. Had he been in his younger days, he would have ripped the arm off, burned it to a crisp, and beaten the man with it. He supposed that wisdom really did come with age. Or he had been beaten enough to know better than to stir up any more trouble than was necessary. Still, the man was lucky that Van wasn't drunk yet. Instead of waiting for the man to respond negatively-- by probably throwing a punch-- Van quickly reached for a purse of coins and shook it in front of the man's face.

Sinderion was going to owe him for this. A glance at the altmer confirmed this.

The mercenary, Vorstag, took a deep gulp of ale, looking disinterested as the Dunmer defended his Bosmer companion from Omluag's advances. The worker smiled as he took the coins Vanryth offered him, however, but he had hardly fallen back into his chair when Vorstag reached out a hand, palm up, clearly asking for the coin. Omluag narrowed his eyes at him. "Why? The travelers are looking for information, and I'm letting them buy it."

Vorstag grunted in half amusement, half annoyance. "I know what you know and more, Breton. Now hand me the coins before I tell that Orc you've been pissing yourself over for the past hour how you drunkenly stated your intentions to murder him in his sleep." Omluag's eyes went... more than a little wide, before turning to anger. "You wouldn't..." but the careless look on the mercenary's face said otherwise. "Fine," Omluag said, relenting and dropping the coins into Vorstag's hand, before shoving his way away from the table and walking with a slight stumble from the inn.

His prize in hand, Vorstag turned his attention back to his three elven companions. He smirked at the scene for a moment, the Nord having an ale with a Dunmer, an Altmer, and a Bosmer. "Your Imperials were in this very tavern last night, unless that was a different pair of cloaked travelers. They were the only two in the Silver-Blood last night that weren't regulars, anyhow. They tried to get information from me too, actually. Well, the younger one did, the older man just watched him from the bar."

He shifted in his seat, his leather armor creaking slightly. "They wanted to know where they could find Rylin Moroth, that Dunmer spymaster of the Jarl's. She makes a habit of hiring mercenaries, so it just so happened I've worked for her in the past, but I'd never met her face to face. Real paranoid sort, always holed up in the Understone Keep, surrounded by guards. She's a personal friend of the Jarl's you see, so she gets protection from him, and she provides him with her eyes and ears... and probably more, but that's just rumors, o' course. I told 'em they were crazy, that Moroth would never meet them... but they seemed dead set on it. They thanked me for the help, and then left. Didn't even finish their ale."


Sinderion set his teeth when mine-scent started speaking, because what he was saying had absolutely nothing to do with what the Altmer had to ask. He was, admittedly, very glad that Van intervened before he had to, because Sinder wasn't entirely certain he'd be able to keep his interference only to what was necessary. They'd been told not to cause trouble, but for him at least, that became much more difficult when the locals were playing right into the fears of one of the Sellswords. That his Dunmer friend followed his judicious defense with a timely bribe earned him only a slight nod from the Altmer. Sinder supposed he'd be forced to split the difference at some point, but he was far from concerned about finances of all things at a time like this.

A perceptibly-narrowed glare followed the mine-scent out of the tavern, and part of him was very, very tempted to follow the man out, give him a few minutes to get lost, then track after him...

Shaking his head to clear it, Sinderion refocused on what the mercenary was saying. So, the person with the Mentor was younger than him, but also an Imperial. Apparently looking for the spymaster in the keep. "This other traveller was male also?" he asked, simply because he realized that nobody had never actually confirmed this within his hearing. "Can you tell us anything about appearance, demeanor, armament?" He was aware that the figure had been cloaked, but mercs tended to notice things like that.

"He was shorter than the old man, though not by much. Dark hair, shoulder length, stubbled beard. Neither of them gave their names, but I never asked. They seemed like trouble I didn't need." He took another swig of ale, clapping the now empty mug on the table. "He was very direct, to the point, didn't waste none of my time. Knew who he was looking for, and wanted to know where he could find her. Didn't see no weapons on neither of 'em. Old guy looked like he might of had something under his cloak, but by my estimation the younger one was unarmed. I'd like to think I know a mage when I see one, though... and there was magic in his eyes."

"You say that they were asking to find this...Rylin. Do you know where she is?" She had noted that he mentioned working for the woman, so asumed that he would know where she was. If that's where the Mentor was heading, should they not head there as well? She awaited his answer, keeping her head low and her body leaned away from him and those behind her. If she had it her way, she would have at least three feet clearance from all of the men in here - She saw them all as grimy no-good, womanizers. Except her companions, of course. But that was just her being...Her.

"He said she's usually heavily-guarded and in the keep," Sinderion reminded gently, aware that Aria was probably anxious enough to have missed Vorstag's initial claim to this effect. Turning his focus to the man himself, Sinderion inclined his head respectfully. "Thank you for your assistance. Unless there is anything else you could tell us, we'll leave you to your evening."

Aria blinked softly, taking a moment to recall the conversation, mentally pinching herself for missing the information that had been given. She chided herself for putting her entire focus on being guarded rather than taking in information as well as she should be doing. She placed her hands in her lap silently, hoping to the Gods that the man didn't have anything else to say.

Vorstag patted the purse of coins he'd pocketed. "All in a day's work, elf." As the words left his mouth, Drayk and Adrienne both arrived at the table. Vorstag slapped his hands upon his knees, and then stood. "If you'll excuse me, your company is a little... conspicuous for my tastes. Not that it hasn't been a pleasure, of course, but even a blind mudcrab could see you folk are headed for a fair amount of trouble. I'll kindly steer clear. Enjoy your evening." With that, he took his leave of the inn, tossing the bard a coin on the way out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero

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The Sellswords
Markarth



Drayk led the way over to the table that Sinderion, Vanryth, and Aria currently occupied. He paused for a moment to watch the beefy Nord mercenary take his leave of the Silver-Blood Inn before slinking down into the chair formerly occupied by Omluag, landing with a thump. He looked at Sinderion with an amused smile written across his face. Their situation seemed an odd one for him to be cheery in, but any of the Sellswords knew that his commonly high spirits were as much a shield to him as the one slung across his back. He true feelings were likely quite similar to theirs.

"If I didn't know better," he said to the Altmer, "I'd say you were trying to make a friend or two over here. Learn anything interesting?"

"Mm," Sinderion replied, the monosyllabic reply normal but probably inadequate for the situation. "They- or perhaps simply this unknown man with the Mentor- were looking for the Jarl's spymaster. We also have a physical description, though I suspect it will do us little good. Also," he added as a contemplative afterthought, "I owe Vanryth here some coin." He inclined his head to the Dunmer man, but whether or not he was completely serious would have been impossible to pin down. Sinder didn't usually joke, or if he did, nobody noticed.

"Of course, that task woud be no easier for us to achieve then they." There was a definite not of query at the end of the sentence, as though he were uncertain of whether following was the best course of action to take. Still, if not that, then what?

As Sinderion was relaying the information he had bought, Vanryth pulled out the blank book he used to "talk" to the others with. He caught Sinder's comment about owing him some coin, and the dunmer held his glance for a moment before furrowing his brows. The next couple of drinks would be on him, that was a given. He then went found his quill and a small inkwell and set up on the table.

Van chewed the end of the quill as Sinderion spoke before dipping it in the inkwell and wrote something down, before scratching something out and writing again. Finally, he allowed the others to see it.

Vanryth Galero wrote:Rylin Moroth was her name. A personal friend of the Jarl's and surrounded by guards. Fantastic no?

We could bribe the guards to get us to the spymaster. No, not enough gold to go around.



Van then leaned back, put his mug back to his lips and took and finished it off. Now that they had a lead, they had to work out a plan to actually make contact with this lead... He didn't expect this to be easy. Nothing ever was for them. As he racked his brain for answers and solutions, he began his unconscious habit of tapping the paper with his quill, leaving numerous ink drops in the corner of the page. tap, tap, tap.

Adrienne was a half-step behind Drayk as the two approached the table, and she moved herself into the other unoccupied seat, settling across from Van with a small smile. Such little shows of optimism were habit by now, as much for her own benefit as the others’. She was initially silent, trying to think of the problem in the way most available to her: as a political problem.

Certain things were restricted to them, and direct access to the keep was probably one of them. They might be able to arrange an audience with the Jarl, but it was unlikely, if the problems with the Forsworn were as bad here as she remembered from the rumor mill in other parts of the country.

“I don’t suppose there’s a chance of just convincing them to let us in, but… maybe something more like a trade? We don’t have money, but we have what the Mentor has given us. Surely, there is some kind of work in this city that needs doing…?” She glanced at the others, uncertain of whether they had enough time to do something like that. Right now, they were only a day behind, but this could further delay them.

Vanryth Galero wrote:We are Sellswords...


It seemed the most likely solution to Drayk. The guard had been lenient with them in simply granting them access to the city. Access to the Keep was another matter, especially taking into account this spymaster's apparently paranoid ways. And while it would take more time to earn their way to an audience, the chances of any clandestine approach into the Keep succeeding seemed slim to none. They'd end up just thrown in prison, or dead.

"A favor for an audience? I'm down with that. Whatever we do, it should be tonight. The old man knows how to move fast, and we'll be hard pressed to catch him as it is."

The thought that their Mentor was actually evading them crossed his mind. From the sounds of it, he hadn't left against his will, and the message seemingly begged for him to be followed... so what reason would he have for not simply delaying and waiting for them to catch up? It didn't make any sense.


In agreement, the Sellswords moved out, hoping to press on before the night became too old. It had grown dark outside as they wound their way up the paths and stairways towards Understone Keep, the home of Jarl Igmund and his followers. The night was clear, the moon providing light which would perhaps prove necessary. Drayk imagined that their offer of mostly free services would not be wasted by the Jarl, if he was agreeable. He only hoped that their task wouldn't be too time-consuming. They needed to keep on this trail if they were going to catch up.

A pair of guards stood before the great doors into Understone Keep, but perhaps a half-dozen more maintained line of sight with the Sellswords as they approached. Drayk found his eyes darting between them, his hand itching to grasp his shield, just in case these men got the wrong idea.

"Hold there, Sellswords," one of the guards called out, making his way slowly over to them. "Captain gave us orders to deny you access to the Keep. A precaution, I'm sure you understand."

Adrienne allowed her steps to carry her a little further forward as the others stopped, placing herself at the front of the group and flashing a smile at the guards. "We do. We also, however, have need to see someone in the Keep, but I promise that we're aware of our position. We were wondering if perhaps we might convince the Jarl to pass along some task he finds suitable to folk such as ourselves, and earn our entrance on our merits, such as they are." She spread her hands wise out to her sides in a passive enteaty, keeping them well away from her sword and hoping the others were wise enough to do the same, for now.

The guard put his hands on his hips, one of them resting on the blade of the hand axe at his right. "A task, huh?" It obviously made sense to him. It was what the Sellswords did after all, though their usual customers were not of such high standing as a Jarl. The offer also seemed to weigh effectively with the guard. The majority of the things the Sellswords could do for the city were things that the guards would have to do otherwise. Could save them trouble... or lives.

"I imagine the Jarl may find that offer of interest to him. Wait here, I'll speak with him myself." He turned and slipped into the Keep, the great bronze doors clanging shut behind him.


It was perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes before he returned, a wait which Drayk found most uncomfortable. He felt as though the guards were almost pushing him into doing something wrong, trying to find some excuse to justify their suspicion towards them. But when the man returned, the tense air was dispelled, if ever so slightly, as it was now renewed with the new tension of learning their task.

"The Jarl has decided to accept your services, if you're agreeable with the task. He would have you clear the Forsworn from Hag Rock Redoubt, to the south of the city. They've come too close for the Jarl's liking, and he would rather not force the guard to leave the city in order to deal with them. Kill them, and you'll have your entrance to the Keep."

Drayk shrugged, and then nodded towards Adrienne. Forsworn they could deal with. And the redoubt was not far from the city, so they would hopefully be able to make good time. Assaulting the place at night would perhaps be troublesome, but they'd dealt with trouble before. They could handle this.

Sensing no disagreement from the rest, Adrienne dipped her head. "Very well. You have our thanks, and we'll return when it is done."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero

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Dom Drayk
Hag Rock Redoubt




"Right," Drayk said, after hearing Sinderion and Adrienne's input. "The tower it is. Not getting shot is always fine by me." With that, the shield-armed Sellsword led the way, the group close behind him. Drayk was no sneak-thief, but he understood the idea. Stay out of sight, move quickly, don't do anything loud and stupid. Simple, really. He was making some noise as he moved, mostly coming from slight adjustments in his armored arm, or his steel toed nordic boots hitting a stone in the road, but it wasn't as though he was shooting fireballs into the air and acting as a signal fire for the Forsworn.

They made quick time to the base of the tower, moving swiftly across open areas, well aware that the moonlight would probably give them away if any of the Forsworn chanced to watch for their approach. Drayk let out a held in breath when his hand touched the rough stone of the old guard tower. No sign of trouble yet. In fact, the door was actually slightly open already, and Drayk couldn't hear anything coming from inside. "Maybe it's Forsworn festival night, or something, and they're all passed out drunk at their camp. That would be nice." He was talking to himself more than anyone, but they would probably hear the comment all the same. Double checking that everyone was still behind him, he head-gestured towards the door. "In we go. Let's keep it quiet, yeah?" He then met Adrienne's eyes. "Stay close to me. I'll take their attacks and draw their attention, you wait for openings, when they make themselves vulnerable, and watch my back."

Drayk was well aware that Adrienne was the least experienced of them in matters of battle, and while Drayk was no old hand himself, he'd grown up with life or death situations, and the Mentor had taken him on a good deal of contracts, enough so that the mage had developed a good grasp of group tactics, and his own strengths and limitations. And, well... he was going to do his damnedest to make sure Adrienne made it through her first real fights in one piece.

Waiting no longer, Drayk gently pushed the wooden door open. He'd hoped it would go quietly, but no, it insisted on playing the song of its people for the world to hear. Fortunately, there wasn't anyone in the base of the tower to hear it. Shrugging, he took a few tentative steps inside. The Forsworn had obviously been living in here. They had redecorated the place thoroughly. Lots of horns, and antlers. They seemed to like those. A little fire burned in the hearth, though it looked like it hadn't been tended to in a while, and was on the brink of dying out. To Drayk, it looked like it was crying as it bled out. He paid it no mind.

Seeing that there was no one here, Drayk gestured towards the stairs that curved around the edge of the tower, spiraling upwards. Shield raised and at the ready, they moved up to the second level. It looked as though there had been something of a struggle here. Tipped over chairs and a smashed table. Drayk was starting to think his theory about drunken Forsworn may have actually been correct. There was no one here, either. The fire below attested to the fact that someone had been here recently, but for all he could see, this tower was completely unoccupied.

Expecting the third time to be the curse, Drayk led the way up to the third floor, but it was the same. A lone torch burned in its holster on the wall, the others out cold, and the few pieces of furniture scattered about like the second floor. The entire tower was empty. Drayk shrugged, before whispering to the group. "Either we're getting really lucky, or something's not right. Let's scout the bridge." He moved slowly to the door that would lead to the bridge. It had seemed precariously narrow from a distance, and for Drayk it was the biggest downside of choosing this route, but things had gone well so far, hadn't they? He placed his right hand tentatively on the door handle, and pulled it slowly open.

The door wasn't halfway open before a two-pronged arrow thudded solidly into his chest, burying itself just under his right collarbone. He yelped and stumbled backwards from the force, the door swinging wide open. He just barely had the sense to throw his shield in front of him, and immediately felt two more thuds as a pair of arrows stuck themselves into Heartwood. From outside, on the other side of the bridge, where the main Forsworn camp was located, came a rather sudden chorus of whooping and shouting. Drayk peeked long enough to see at least twenty of them, brandishing weapons and waiting on the far side of the bridge, with the warrior in the center catching Drayk's eye. A Briarheart, brandishing a war axe in one hand, his other hand glimmering with ice and preparing a spell, a great headdress and set of antlers adorning his head.

Drayk slammed the door back shut, turning around to brace it. "By the... I said not getting shot!" he yelled in frustration, grimacing at the arrow for a mere moment before yanking it out. His right hand exploded for a moment with a white light as his healing aura enveloped him and mended the wound. "The hornheads knew we were coming! It's a damn ambush." Drayk imagined it was good they had chosen the tower, as all those archers would have riddled them with arrows had they taken the other path.

There was a loud bang from below, the sound of a foot kicking a door. Drayk braced a table against the door before going to look. There were a dozen or more Forsworn charging up the stairs to meet them, bone axes and spiked blades in hand. And there was a call that was rather... inhuman, from beyond the bridge. A hagraven, a matriarch to the Forsworn. Well, this had gotten real ugly real fast.

"Incoming from below," Drayk called, readying his shield.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero

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Sinderion Direnni
Hag Rock Redoubt


The press of the Forsworn was growing greater, but Sinderion could not help the feeling that they would soon be coming in through that door as well, one way or another. Slinging his bow back over his shoulder, he drew his mismatched blades and leapt lightly into the fray in the wake of Adrienne's atronach. Trusting that and her bound battleaxe the take care of his back, he went about relieving the pressure on their sole defender as best he could. If he had his guess- and it seemed he did- Van would be quick to join him here. Nodding to the dunmer, the altmer indicated that he would go left.

Following the path of the fel axe, Sinder moved quickly and quietly, his longer sword finding purchase in the troublesome Briarheart's side. Sensing movement behind him, he spun his dagger so that it was in a reverse grip and plunged it backward. The give of furs followed by flesh informed him that he'd hit his target, but the pain that bloomed over his upper back indicated that she was not yet dead, and in possession of a rather heavy mace. Pulling both blades loose, Sinder pivoted lightly on the stair, distracting with a bit of showy dagger-work before his sword thrust up and back, entering beneath the woman's chin and severing her spinal cord.

He straightened with a wince. His shoulderblades were not broken, but the mace had dug several furrows into his light armor and then his skin. It was nothing he couldn't cope with, but he'd have to avoid repeat hits to the area until either he or preferably Drayk could see to it. At least the numbers were thinning on this side; between himself, Van, and Adrienne's conjurations, they's hopefully be dead before anyone could figure a way in through that iced-over door.

A look towards Sinder revealed that the two had similiar ideas in mind. While Van had issued his challenge, Sinder went ahead and threw himself into the thick of battle. Lagging behind, but pressing forward nonetheless, the dunmer took the right. Due to his belated advance, a couple of Forsworn found themselves trapped between Vanryth and Sinderion. He would have to rectify that for them.

He came down hard and heavy with the longsword, biting into the stout wood of an axe instead of the soft flesh of a Forsworn. Van grunted and struck with his shortsword, which was promptly blocked by the flat of the axe blade. Now thoroughly irritated, Van grunted and shoved with both blades, looking to put distance between him and the Forsworn, but the warrior wasn't having it. He shifted his axe out to the side, sending Van stumbling forward. Too close to be effective, the Forsworn followed up with next best thing. He jerked his axe back and the wood struck Van in the jaw.

He saw a sudden light, then a blur, before ending in a haze of red. The strike hurt, and he could taste the blood on the inside of his cheek. Van growled-- signalling that the Forsworn had invoked the troubled dunmer's wrath. Van's longsword reared back and the pommel slammed into the bridge of the foe's nose. That was it. The blow carried the Forsworn down a couple of stairs, giving Van the room to strike. His shortsword bit deep into his chest, and Van grinned. It felt good to kill again.

His companions having utilized their skills effectively, the pressure was taken off Drayk. Adrienne's frost atronach was wreaking havoc among the Forsworn on the level below, and Vanryth's magic was taking its toll, as well as Sinderion's impressive close quarters capabilities. Van looked about to join the fray. Drayk checked that the Forsworn he had dumped to the side was dead, before preparing to move in behind the two elves that had thrown themselves into the fight. He'd be able to effectively guard their blind sides, and heal them whenever necessary.

Drayk didn't get the chance, however, as the ice-secured door behind them exploded, along with a good part of the wall around it, sending chunks of ice and stone flying about the room. The ground shook slightly as another frost atronach entered the fray, this one not nearly so friendly towards the Sellswords. It was a good two feet bigger than Adrienne's, one of its arms molded into the shape of a massive club, the other a pointed spear of sorts. Shards of ice swirled around it in a miniature storm, and a light blue light seemed to glow within its chest.

It turned to attack the nearest enemy it could find, which happened to be Adrienne and Drayk. Springing into action, Drayk pushed Adrienne behind him just as the atronach stabbed out with its spear arm, the point of the arm shattering on Drayk's shield, blunting it somewhat. The ice storm surrounding it slashed at him, against which his shield was no defense, and he could quickly feel multiple stinging cuts opening up. It then smash horizontally at him with its club arm, this attack having much more brute force than the stab. The strength of the atronach's arm took Drayk off his feet and send him skidding across the floor to the other side of the room. He scrambled to his feet, getting his shield back into its place just in time to catch another arrow from the archers across the bridge, who had a window to fire through once again. Their warriors were not yet coming across the bridge, however, apparantly still wishing to pin them in, and whittle away at them with magic and arrows. Drayk had to admit, it was working, even if they'd suffered losses at the hands of Sinderion's arrows and blades, and Vanryth and Adrienne's magic.

"Van, light this thing up!" Drayk shouted. They needed to deal with this quickly, and fire was the best way to do that. He knew what he was asking, and how much this would bother him. A few years ago, he would have simply ignited the thing himself, but not anymore. He couldn't turn back to that.

A call from above revealed a frost atronach and Drayk yelling to light it. Van took his hand off of the blade still enbedded in the chest of the Forsworn and then ignited in a firebolt spell. A half a second's charge and he pushed his hand forward sending the ball of fire directly towards the atronach. Being thorough, Van lit up with another before he felt his magicka drained once more.

When the opposing Frost Atronach crashed through the iced-over door, Adrienne's eyes went wide, and she scrambled backwards, aided by Drayk's move to position himself in front of her. The intitial intrusion had sent her to the ground, perilously close to falling on her own sword, and the situation only seemed to grow worse by the minute. Time, time, they needed more time! There were still foes below, and with Van diverted to throw fire at the atronach, Sinder was the only one dealing with them. Drayk appeared to be attepmting to cover both the enemy atronach and the door, which was probably splitting him too many ways.

Thinking fast, Adrienne directed her own atronach to stand in the doorway, effectively making a large ice-shield against arrows and the like for the moment. The poor thing probably wouldn't last too long, though, and she couldn't cout on it to be enough. Her bound battleaxe was finally returned to Oblivion as well, but on the plus side, her magicka had had some time to recover, bolstered by the enchantment on her robes. What they needed right now were some large-area measures, something that would give Sinder a fair chance against what was below and Drayk and Van a shot at what was above.

Biting her lip, she decided now was as good a time as any to give something new a shot. Moving away from the pitched fight against the Atronach, she tried to gauge the distance from herself to each of her friends. Satisfied that it would probaly encompass all of them, Adrienne sheathed her sword. This would need both hands. Ihaling as steadily as she could, she called upon the spell the Mentor had been teaching her when he disappeared. Please let it work this time... The spell, named Call to Arms, was perhaps the single most difficult one in her repertoire, but if it worked, it would be worth the magicka drain.

Painstakingly slowly, the blue-white magic gathed, first at the girl's feet and then spiralling outwards, hopefully far enough to reach the others, scatterd as they were. If it hit them or not, she could not say, but she immediately elt the haracteristic surge of adrenaline under her skin that meant it had hit her successfully. Setting her jaw stubbornly, she drew her sword again and approached the artonach, fully intent on helping Drayk distract it until Van could summon another firebolt or something of a similar nature. She'd once had fire spells herself, but hadn't tried using them in years. With a quick shuffle forward, she struck at the Atronach's side, chipping away a piece of ice but otherwise apparently not affecting it much at all. As long as she could stay away from its massive arms, it didn't really matter.

And still there were more. With the majority of the group now trying to deal with the massive magical construct on the top floor, Sinderion was left to do what he could amongst the Forsworn in the lower sections of the tower. 'Lower' here being not by much, as he was still on the first decending staricase and not likely to make it further by himself. Still, the stairs wound a bit, and he kept himself around the closest thing to a blind corner he could, taking advantage of his superior hearing and ability to keep concealed, alowing the Forsworn to come to him and be surprised by whatever attack he would launch. It was no advantageous choke-point, but it would do.

Since Van had helped him clear the first group, he waited on the second wave, a few seconds of restorative magic reducing the wounds in his back to dully-throbbing bruises. He knew only enough of healing to keep himself from dying, really; he was not the kind who could make large wounds disappear as though they were never there.

The pinderous thudding of armored footfalls alerted him to incoming enemies, and he cut off the spell, drawing his long knife and crouching, at the ready. The first man to come around the curve was incrdibly unlucky, Sinder's blade traced in crimon across his throat before he could even notice the Altmer's presence. The fact that their ally's body fell into them did alter the other four, though, and Sinder wasted no time, moving while they were still tripping over it. The first person to get clear was a slight woman with a flame spell in one hand and a short dagger in the other. Pressing forward to prevent her from getting the appropriate distance, Sinderion placed his knife between his teeth and caught her spell-hand, wrenching it upwards even as the gout of fire started up. Her dagger-hand was the next to move, and he earned himself a cut to the abdomen in the time it took to bury his sword in hers. Deftly, he twisted them both so that her sputtering spell caught one of the other Forsworn before it- and she- died.

This body, too, was thrown as a means of delay, but the third was ready for it, jumping over the corpse and landing lightly on his feet. Sinder met his incoming swing with the steel of his bloody sword, taking hold of his second blade again with his free hand. His attempted stab met a solid metal shield and skittered sideways, twisting his wrist and bruising his knuckles on the unyielding surface. With a frustrated exhale, Sinder broke the stalemate of blades and danced to the side. When his back hit the wall of the stairwell, he braced himself and kicked out with both feet, again catching the man's shield, but this time with enough force to cause a stagger.

Just in time, for the last Forsworn had freed himself of the entanglements of dead limbs and swung his axe. Sinderion backpedaled frantically, tripping over the stair behind him, which ironically saved him, the ae whistling by just past the tip of his nose. He hit the stairs hard, knocking the wind out of him, but forced himself to roll, again lashing out at shield-man with his feet, hoping to trip him as well. Someone with that much armor would stay down a lot longer than Sinder did, and he'd be falling down the stairs, besides. Adrienne's spell hit just then, and he could have praised the Eight for the girl's timing.

Still, the one with the axe was proving difficult. Gritting his teeth, Sinder caught sight of one of his allies out of the corner of his eye. "Aria!" He called sharply. "Shoot the one with the axe!" If you don't, I might not have an arm in a few seconds. The thought, like just about everything else about him, was suffused with an almost unnatural calm, but that didn't mean he wanted to part with his limb.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero

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Dom Drayk
Hag Rock Redoubt




The Sellswords had managed to deal with the last of the Forsworn warriors coming up from below, but there was still the matter of the enemy frost atronach to deal with, as well of the leaders of this particular band of Forsworn located across the bridge. For the moment, Adrienne's frost atronach was blocking the entrance, but it clearly wasn't going to be able to hold up much longer, as the archers across the bridge were pounding it with arrows.

The atronach clearly wanted to get at Vanryth, the source of the flames which were bothering it far moreso than the others, but Drayk quickly positioned himself in front of it, just as he felt the effects of Adrienne's spell. If nothing else, it would let him stand up to it longer. Van's fire had done a good deal to dampen the storm of ice surrounding the atronach, but unfortunately, the flames were doing just as much to mess with Drayk's head as they were to harm the atronach. It bellowed a sound from its core that was reminiscent of pain or anguish, or perhaps frustration, the light in its chest pulsing rather violently. The flames enveloping it danced over its body, and whatever positive effect Adrienne was having was wiped out and then some by his proximity to the burning atronach.

He felt sluggish, almost dizzy, even. Maybe his eyes were watering. Or maybe the atronach was melting, he couldn't tell. As if in a dream, he barely managed to get his guard up in time as the atronach slammed down on him with its club fist, sending him reeling from the shock of the blow. He was vaguely aware of Adrienne shuffling forward to strike at its side. In seeming annoyance, it retaliated with a stab of its blunted spear arm, before returning its focus forward.

At that instant, a second explosion rocked the doorway, though this time it was of fire, and not frost. Adrienne's frost atronach shattered entirely as a fireball exploded violently in front of it, and the pleased shriek of the hagraven beyond the bridge identified its source. Arrows began to flit through the air again, smacking against the far wall as they sailed through the room on the third floor. The fiery blast had distracted Drayk more than enough for the atronach to get in a clean blow to the body, smashing him sideways with the club fist. There was a sound crack of ribs as the shield armed mage was hurled back into the wall against the stairs. His head rather forcefully hit the wall before he toppled to the ground and tumbled about halfway down the stairs, coming to a stop face down, and not initially showing any signs of movement. The shield wall out of its way, the atronach made a beeline towards Van, looking to pulverize the fire-caster before it was inevitably destroyed.

The club-arm of the atronach came flying for her, and Adreinne was forced to duck back, dancing out of range with practiced, but perhaps overy-hasty movements. Attributable perhaps to her nervousness, one of her feet caught the other, and she stumbled even as her own atronach blew apart in a violent explosion of flame and shards of ice. One of the latter whizzed right by her face, catching skin and giving her cheekbone a ragged cut. She winced when the warm sensation of her own blood trickling down her face hit her, but this was nothing compared to what she'd have to deal with if-

"No!" She saw the atronach's next attack coming far too late, and watched with horror-stricken features as Drayk was thrown backwards, colliding hard with the wall and stairs, and she knew also that there wasn't another restoration specialist among them. What was more, the Oblivion-summoned construct did not seem inclined to stop there, and she scrambled back to her feet even as it summarily ignored her existence and made right for Van. It was at this point that Adrienne realized she had a decision to make: leave her friend to come around on his own and try to aid in the ongoing struggle against the ice-monster (with no magicka left and naught but a lightweight sword to her name), or see if there was something she could do to get Drayk back on his feet (with absolutely no skill in healing magic whatsoever).

It was far from the most pleasant of decisions, but at least it was easy. Wiping the thin lines of blood from below her cut with the back of a hand, she probably only succeeded in smearing it everywhere, but at least the distracting feeling was gone. Trusting in Sinder and Aria to be more use against the atronach than she would be, she hurried down the stairs, gingerly but rapidly picking her way around the various corpses that lined the walkway. Corpses... no. It was best not to think that way at present.

Sheathing her blade, the girl dug around in her pockets until she produced what she was looking for: a small glass bottle with a cherry-red liquid inside. She never thought she'd be thanking the nine for her alchemical talents, not when they had always been so inferior to the abilities she'd wanted, but right about now, anything would do. Pulling the cork atop the bottle out with her teeth, she dropped into a kneel beside Drayk and tried to turn him over with one hand. It wasn't working too well, so she set the bottle down on the stair above her and tried again. "Okay, come on Drayk, help me out here. Please be conscious, please be conscious..." Of course, the chances of that weren't terribly good, and what she really meant was please be alive.

Aria's shot was as precise as he'd come to expect, and Sinder rolled to his feet, aware that with that, the last of the flanking party was taken care of. That still left the majority of the enemy force, however, and-

The shattering of Adrienne's atronach was punctuated with the wild call of a hagraven, and Sinderion's entire frame stiffened, save his hands, which clenched uncomfortably into fists, the trail of his steel-hard claws leaving shallow furrows in the stone stairs. Wait... what? The altmer looked with disbelief at his hands, which had indeed sprouted too-familiar claws, and his panic was the only thing that broke the tide of rage fermenting slowly under his skin. As quickly as they had come, the razor-sharp protrusions retracted, leaving him at once trembling with both fear and a nameless, animal anger. How could he lose his grip that easily? It was but one hagraven, and he was better than this.

This particular realization was not quite enough to quell the snarl that ripped from his throat when Drayk went soaring over his head, and his hesitence, his weakness, might as well have caused his friend's injury. Surging to his feet, Sinder tightened his grip on both his weapons and launched himself at the atronach blocking his way to that damned hagraven. This needed to end, and as soon as possible. He wasn't sure how much longer his body- and more importantly, his mind- would be his, but he really didn't want to find out.

It was with the fervor of a desperate man, then, that he hacked away at the ice atronach, heedless of the damage he was doing to his blades, all too consumed in the satisfying crunch of landing a solid hit, in the shattering sound the largest chunks of ice made when they fell to the stone beneath his feet. He didn't notice it when his irises changed color, deepening from a bright blue to fully black, though he did register dimly the correspoding shift in his sight, sharpened as it grew. Perhaps it was for the best that he didn't think to connect the boon with its implications.

If he could speak, a slew of curses would fly out of Van's mouth. Alas, all that he could muster was a disapproving grunt. Drayk was sent flying by the enemy atronach as their friendly atronach was blown to bits by a Hagraven's fireball. The sudden appearance of all the fire probably had something to do with Drayk's recent carelessness. Beside him, Sinder pounced like a wolf on his prey, the offending frost atronach. Again, perhaps his sudden ferocity had something to do with the Hagraven outside. A shame how such a simple job could throw them all in such turmoil.

Alas, Van wasn't immune to his vices either, and he felt his rage building. A familiar feeling that always receded when he was either detained or had blood on his hands. Luckily, a frost atronach wouldn't bleed. He left his shortsword in the Forsworn to be collected later and followed behind the steps of Sinder, assualting the atronach in tandem. As he approached, he let a gout of fire burn at the icy exterior.

The fire melted the ice and weakened the intergrety enough so that when Van struck with his blade, it pierced deep within the icy beast. Leaving it for a moment, Van drew upon his magicka with both hands and let out a combined spray of fire, and used the metal blade as a focus to heat up the interior of the creature. He summoned every bit of magickal fire he could and held up the torrent until every ounce of magicka drained his body. But he still wasn't done. Rage guiding his hand he grasped the red hot hilt of his blade and pushed. The ice of the frost atronach gave no resistance to the heated blade cut the creature in twain.

For his efforts he recieved a brand on his hand and the pain only enraged him further. He turned, picked up a forsworn sword and looked to find his next corpse.

The first thing that came back to Drayk was the smell. Magical fire had always had a uniquely beautiful aroma for him, although in recent years it had taken on a more acrid stench as he had trained himself to be repulsed by it. It filled his nostrils now, the scent making his body tense subconsciously. Everything else was swirling darkness and intense agony, suffocating him when he tried to draw breath. The feelings of his body returned to him, and with it the excruciating pain in his chest, and the throbbing in his head.

There was a touch, and then a shove, trying to push him somewhere. His free hand pushed against the ground slightly to help the presence, and he felt himself eventually tipped over onto his back, a dozen swords stabbing through his chest with the simple movement, a heavy, pained groan escaping his lips. He lay there in darkness and pain for a moment, until a liquid dripped into his mouth, and everything came rushing back, an explosion in his mind setting fire to his body.

The fight, the battle, the Forsworn. The atronach, the fire. It had worn down his defense quicker than any blade could have. The fire. The fire. It had called to him, even before Vanryth had ignited the frost atronach. He had felt the desire the second he'd seen that thing, with the knowledge that he could have obliterated it with the power he had once commanded. Power that was still there, if he only had the will to call her back. He could chain her this time, bind her to his will. Force her to submit to him, and not allow himself to be tossed about on her whims any longer. It had been so long since...

No. He rejected the idea, disgust filling his core. He knew where that led. To the deaths of everyone close to him, to the destruction of any kind of stability he'd managed to build in his life. He'd obliterate this frost atronach and these Forsworn with his shield if he had to, with his bare hands. Not with fire. His eyes shot open, only the ceiling above him filling his vision. There was a presence nearby, one that he initially treated as a threat, his gauntleted right hand closing into a fist. When he turned his head, he saw Adrienne there beside him, and his prepared attack immediately dissipated, his hand relaxing. He took a glance around from the ground. The Forsworn were dead, at least in here, as was the atronach.

He coughed rather violently then, spitting a rather large amount of blood to the side, before letting his head fall back to the ground, and exhaling deeply, grimacing at what was obviously a large amount of pain. He managed to gather the energy for a minor healing spell, and the pain in his chest lessened slightly. This fight was certainly going to leave a few marks on him.

"Remind me to dodge next time," he said weakly, something of a grin forming on his face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Aria Windfoot Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero

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Adrienne Jastal
Hag Rock Redoubt


Adrienne managed a shaky smile, still a little wobbly from the full-blown panic that had been about to set in when she hadn't quite been able to move him. Really, her strength was far too lacking for this sort of thing, but there was no time to lament it now. "You should definitely do that," she agreed breathily. "I'm not much of a healer, and the nine know we need you." Stowing the empty flask back in her pouch, she rose slowly to her feet and offered him a hand up. Once they were both standing again, she was at last able to take stock of the situation.

The Forsworn seemed content to just lob projectile attacks at them, and Adrienne frowned. It wasn't going to kill the quickly, but it would do just as well as anything else if they didn't figure out what to do soon. "Okay," she said slowly, looking around at the other four. "We need to-" she stopped short when she got a look at Sinderion, her breath catching in her throat when she realized what was wrong. His eyes were the wrong color. She'd always been just a tad envious of the bright blue he'd somehow managed to inherit, but they were no such color at the moment. Shaking herself, she decided not to ask right at the moment. Maybe it was just the residual effect of some spell... that she'd never heard of. She could only hope that it wasn't what she thought it was.

Swallowing, she continued. "We, er... we should heal, and probably not just sit here and wait for them to kill us. I have magicka restoration potions if anyone needs them." This was mostly directed at Drayk, who'd be doing the majority of the healing. She and Van would recover their magicka with time and likely not too much of it. Hers was already half-restored, due in large part to her enchanted garments. Other than this, though, she had no plan, and hoped that someone else would know how to best approach what was sure to be a painful situation.

Drayk was somewhat wobbly when Adrienne helped him, temporarily using the wall to support himself, before settling himself and focusing. A light grew from his right hand, building energy momentarily, before he released it upon himself, a powerful healing spell that caused him to visibly swell as he exhaled a sigh, feeling much more like his normal self, albeit rather tired. He accepted one of Adrienne's restoration potions to get some spellpower back, before setting about quickly fixing everyone injuries enough for them to press on. He didn't much like the idea of sitting around and waiting for the Forsworn to come up with another idea.

They had successfully trapped the Sellswords, but hadn't had the manpower to wipe them out once they had them in their grasp. That they weren't still throwing themselves into them implied that they didn't have the numbers anymore, and needed to fight more defensively, cautiously. Drayk adjusted the steel gauntlet on his right hand. Why not take the fight to them? All they had to do was make it across that bridge, and then Van, Aria and Sinder could carve through them. They were bow-armed, lightly armored, not prepared to withstand close combat of the likes those three could bring upon them. Sinder looked to be troubled, evidenced by his currently dark eyes, but Drayk didn't see that they had a choice. The sooner they dealt with these Forsworn, the sooner they could all collect themselves, and shrug this awful night off.

"Right. I say we take it to them. They're archers, a mage Briarheart, and a hagraven. They'll crumble if we hit them hard and fast. I can lead the way across that bridge, if you guys stay close behind me. I've got two shields, after all." In his right hand he prepared a steadfast ward, that would absorb magical attacks thrown at him.

The frost atronach had fallen, mostly due to Vanryth's concentrated fire, and Sinderion had the presence of mind to both stop attacking living things and not charge out into the open like a half-sane beast. That didn't mean that he was entirely himself, however, and he fought to stem the still-swelling tide of his anger. He could smell the hagraven now, and the wolf in his soul was not pleased about that. It had a different sort of memory than he did, one without much sense of time. Wounds dealt long ago produced grudges fresh as those dealt today, and there was certainly no reason, as far as the wolf was concerned, to let go of any of them, nor to delay in the bloody retribution they deserved. Timing was of far less concern than vindication, than vengeance, and it threatened to make him a monster.

He did not miss the way Adrienne's hitched upon glancing his way, and he realized with renewed disgust that some part of him must be changed already. The last thing he wanted was to scare her. She had a soul a little more fragile than the others, even if there was surprising steel in her demeanor also. Whatever combination it was, it tended to invoke his more protective, fraternal instaincts, and he hated himself just a little bit more for troubling her. Still, it was something he could not address right now, not while there was still a job to be done, and he roused his powers of speech to answer Drayk.

"As solid a plan as any. I will follow directly behind. Van should be in the first three as well, and Aria and Adrienne behind." It had nothing to do with the genders involved, though it might have sounded that way. It was simply that he and Van preferred to fight up-close, Drayk absorbed damage like a sponge, and the other two used arrows and magic from greater distances when possible.

As if to prove Sinder's point, Vanryth ignited an ice spell in his burned right hand (it aided the pain he felt in it) and spun the Forsworn blade in his left menacingly. Much like Sinder, Vanryth was digging back into the monster he once was, but a wiser, older mind held his reins. He was itching to get back in the fight, he wanted to spill more blood, that was true. He wouldn't be satisfied unless all of these wretched fetchers were dead. His mindset was perfectly mirrored in his body language. His shoulders were tense, arms stiff, and he bounced slightly on the balls of his feet. The brand on his hand merely ignited more of Van's long buried rage and he was barely holding it in. Had he been any younger, none of his companions would have been able to hold him back as he wrecked over that bridge. As it stood, some of the mentor's teachings stuck and he realized that working with his partners he and his companions might be able to maybe survive this. Still didn't mean he didn't look like a beast about to unleash hell on the first unfortunate soul he came across.

Another ice spike hurtling through the room to smash and shatter on the far wall reminded Drayk that they needed to act now, before the Forsworn came up with any clever ideas. "On me, then. Let's get this over with." They formed up on the left side of the expanded doorway that the frost atronach had blown open wider, Drayk first, then Sinderion, Vanryth, Adrienne, and Aria. He waited for the correct moment to go, listening for the telltale sign of the charging fireball spell in the hagraven's hands. He loosened his grip on his shield, took a deep breath to relax himself somewhat. Sinder would go straight for the hagraven, he knew. The sooner that thing was dead, the sooner his altmer friend could breathe easier.

Tendrils of light blue ward magic danced along his palm and fingers, ready to be activated. And there it was. The hissing of building energy, and then the flare as the spell took to air. The fireball smashed into the outer wall of the tower, shaking it slightly, and Drayk charged out. He remained somewhat low as he moved forward, his shield covering his right side, a steadfast magical ward enveloping his right. The bridge was rather precariously narrow, but not treacherous. There was nothing to trip them, just the chance that an arrow hitting them would make them fall the thirty or so feet to the winding path below.

No such arrows hit Drayk, though three slammed into his shield, and a fourth was redirected by his ward. An ice spike from the Briarheart disappeared entirely into the magical shield, weakening it somewhat, but Drayk was quick to reinforce it. He made a beeline for the questionably undead spellcaster, who had been in the middle of the group of about ten or so Forsworn archers, with the hagraven behind them off to the right. The archers were hurriedly switching to melee weapons, some of them simply tossing their bows aside. Drayk dropped his ward as he reached the Briarheart, slamming into him with his shield, the force taking the Forsworn entirely off the ground and dumping him on his back.

This allowed Drayk to get a very up close look at the warrior, pale gray skin and carved open chest, the magical briarheart shoved inside and the skin loosely stitched over. Before he had time to look any longer, and before the Briarheart had time to make any actions, Drayk punched the steel rim of his shield down onto the Briarheart's forehead, before punching a gauntleted fist into the weak spot on his chest, fingers wrapping around the briarheart inside and tearing it out, leaving the undead caster quite dead at this point.

Adrienne had no difficulty keeping her balance on the narrow bridge, and she suspected that the others wouldn't either. The twang of bowstrings was an unsavory reminder of their predicament, however, and though Drayk was able to catch or deflect the majority of them, their forward progress would eventually give the bowmen a flanking angle, so that they could aim at people other then the man with the wooden shield. Like her. Even as she thought it, an arrow whizzed by her ear, and only the fact that she flinched backwards saved the hearing organ at all. It flew into the empty space between herself and Aria, and it was at about that time that they finally made it to the Forsworn, Drayk lunging right for the Briarheart.

Some part of Adrienne understood that it would be a poor choice to interfere with Sinderion right now, so instead she looked to Van and Aria, then nodded towards the archers. Well, less archers and more melee fighters now, which she was frankly fine with. They'd lost their ability to hit from a distance, but she hadn't lost hers. If Van could keep them occupied, she and Aria could then pick them off from the sides and behind, effectively containing the largest mass of Forsworn remaining. That thought in mind, Adrienne summoned an ice bolt to hand and launched it- the slower they were, the safer her allies would be from unforeseen attack.

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