Snippet #2149323

located in Skyrim, a part of Skyrim: The Mentor & The Sellswords, one of the many universes on RPG.

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Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: The Spymaster
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Dom Drayk
Markarth - Understone Keep




They'd need sleep evetually. That was what Drayk was starting to think as they passed through Markarth's gates once more. It had been a long ride from Solitude, followed by only a brief rest at the inn with no sleep to be had, followed by being ordered to wipe out a well fortified group of Forsworn, which had taken a good deal of the night. The Sellswords were the only ones on the street at the moment, except for the ever-watchful city guards, the unlucky ones who patrolled throughout the night. There was nowhere to hide from them now, and Drayk naturally found his eyes drifting towards the torches they carried around.

It was bugging him now more than ever. He'd almost died in the fight, and probably would have if not for Adrienne's timely potion. Before he'd met the Mentor, he'd been a terror with fire, fully capable of killing without remorse, without thought, for enjoyment, or some misguided idea that he needed to in order to survive, that he was the only one in the right. Now he was just useless around it. He was a wreck. He couldn't see straight, couldn't walk straight, couldn't get a coherent thought through his mind. He'd changed since receiving the Mentor's help, hadn't he? For the first time in a long time, he thought, just maybe... if he learned to control it, rather than simply hide from it, he'd be better off. He had learned restraint. Perhaps he could test it. Perhaps he could ask Van about it. It would obviously be a diffcult teaching process... but Drayk didn't really need anyone to teach him, rather just someone to stop him if he went too far.

It would have to wait, of course, as they were nearing the Keep, and he had more pressing matters to attend to. A clearly dreary guard jerked awake upon seeing the approaching armed individuals. Squinting through the eyeslits in his helmet, he quickly recognized them. "Hail, Sellswords. I was told to expect you. I trust your assignment went well?"

Adrienne had spent most of the ride back to Markarth fighting to keep her eyes open. The truth was, she really didn't want to go to sleep, for fear of what her mind would choose to play out when she lost consciousness. It had been easy not to think about it in the middle of things, when everything was do-or-die. But now... she was able to reflect on the carnage they'd caused.

She would never claim to be above it. She'd never say that she was some bastion of pure intention, an advocate of the peaceful solution, because she wasn't that innocent or that naive. True, she'd prefer not to kill people if she could avoid it, but there was no deluding herself so far as to make that spare inclination some kind of virtue. It was simply that, when all was said and done, the memory of what had happened would haunt her. Perhaps this was something that faded with time, would eventually leave her in peace, or as much peace as she could muster, all things considered. Gouts of blood and dead bodies were simply something she had not often seen, and there was something disturbing about a corpse, the way there was no breath or life left, and she shuddered at the number of times that had been her doing, or almost her corpse.

The worst part was, when she wasn't occupied with overwhelming terror that the next dead body would belong to a friend, she could clearly recall the rush of adrenaline, the sensation of being vigorously awake and alive, even as she was always scant moments, one mistake away from being dead. It made a strange kind of sense, she supposed, but... was she supposed to enjoy it so much? Or was it yet another manifestation of her weakness, that which ensured she was always a step behind everyone else in all the ways that mattered? A chill breeze played with her ash-colored ponytail, stippling her skin with gooseflesh, and she pretended that that was all it was and sat a bit straighter on her horse. They were approaching Markarth again, which meant her more depressing thoughts would be left alone for the moment. Fortunate.

Forcing a close-lipped smile for the guard, Adrienne nodded slightly. "It did, sir. Hag Rock Redoubt is cleared." For all her bitter reflection, her voice was steady and clear, the mask of the actress firmly back in place. She was confident, she was warm, she was without doubt or remorse. Van grunted his agreement alongside Adrienne, followed up by a spit to show his contempt for the fools they had slayed. He crossed his arms and settled into an intimidating pose, as if the faded blood stains from earlier weren't enough to do that for him. Still, despite the battle being in the past, the fight had stoked some embers of his past life that would not die down as easily. He still had the edge of the warrior. This gave him a dour air of disapproval as he stared at the guards, waiting for them to do their duty and let them in.

"Very good," the guard replied. "If the spymaster's awake, I'll inform her of your arrival. Wait here." He left the Sellswords in the sleepy company of the other remaining guards, although they looked significantly more awake now that they had an obvious threat to keep an eye on. Some time passed, moreso than when they had first come here. The guards outside began to glance towards each other at the other guard's absence, shifting about perhaps nervously with the wait. Finally, though, he returned, holding the door open.

"You're to leave your weapons here. The guards will hold them for you. The spymaster wishes to meet with you. I'll lead you to her." Drayk couldn't help but sigh. They needed to speak with this woman, certainly, but all this distrust was growing a little tiresome. They could have been on their way hours ago had the locals here simply been a little more open. But, if they had to jump through one more hoop to get what they needed, then so be it. He slipped his shield off of his back and laid it down before the guards, seeing as it was the closest thing to a physical weapon he had. He figured the others were as hesitant to part with their weapons as he was, but all of them could at least moderately defend themselves without steel in their hands.

Van shrugged and tossed the newly obtained Forsworn blade on top of Drayk's shield. The blade wasn't his, he had no reason to keep it. It was an ugly thing, a tool created solely for war. He was glad to be rid of it truly. Besides, it's not like a bit of iron and steel was his only weapons. He flexed his tender hand as he mentally went over his repertoire of spells. No, he didn't need steel in order to kill a man.

Once they were all disarmed, the guard gestured for them to follow, and the Sellswords finally entered Understone Keep. It was actually more of an entrance to the underground areas of the Dwemer city upon which Markarth was built. Bits of remaining Dwemer machinery still chugged away along the walls, their purpose largely unknown, but tampering with the things they left behind often led to poor results, and thus they remained. They moved directly into the main hall, passing a large open cavern area on their left, the way deeper into the ruin, as well as the locked up museum on their right. This led them into the central chamber, though at this hour it was completely unoccupied save for the guards stationed here.

They climbed up a flight of stairs, within sight of the Jarl's throne, though it was currently empty. Embers of the forge on the group's right could still be seen, though the one tending to it had turned in for the night. Instead the group headed left from the throne, towards the Jarl's personal quarters. A pair of large bronze double-doors were held open for them by a pair of guards, leading into what looked to be a dining hall. It was surprisingly scenic, a long table positioned alongside a pool contained by a low wall, a waterfall from above pouring gently into it. A balcony of sorts extended most of the circumference of the circular-shaped room, a few visible doors going into the rock above them and out of sight. A pair of guards stood watch over the double doors on the far side of the room, no doubt leading to where the Jarl himself lay.

No sooner had Drayk and the other Sellswords reached the center of the room, however, than the doors behind them clanged shut and locked. The five guards on the ground floor slowly slid swords from their waists, surrounding the visitors, but keeping their distance. Above them, a dozen or more archers of the guard filed along the second level, flowing seemingly out of the rock to surround the small company, arrows already pulled back, bowstrings quivering slightly as they aimed their projectiles at the four below them.

The last to enter was a Dunmer woman, striding from a door one the second level, her dark red hair nearly the color of her narrowed slits for eyes, pulled back into a tight bun. She looked unassuming enough, a simple white tunic and brown breeches all she wore, except for her equipment, a recurve bow and a quiver of arrows across her back. Of course, it was possible she'd just been woken up. It was clear, however, that the armed men in the room answered to her, as a few glanced in her direction, perhaps looking for the signal to fire. She spoke to the Sellswords, instead.

"It seems the only thing the Forsworn excel at anymore is incompetence. A pity. I suppose it was too much to hope they'd kill you, even if they knew of your coming. But it's no matter. Dealing with you directly was not how I would have preferred this, but we are, as you can see, more than capable of doing so. But first, tell me something: how long has the Shadow held influence over your company? I should have expected it, considering the wretched holes you were all pulled out of, but I never thought of your leader as one who served a darker purpose. Seems I was wrong."

As soon as they were surrounded, Vanryth leaned forward into a cautious stance, hands balling up and relaxing, waiting, begging the gaurds to make the first move. For if they did, he may perish in the process, but he would certainly make them pay for every drop of blood. Luckily for his lesser combat prone companions, the guards did not immediately attack. Instead, the Spymaster herself approached. The only thing she recieved from Vanryth was a cold glare as he tensed and relaxed his hands again. His companions near him would feel the static gathering in his hands as it raised the hair on their arms. He would need watching, else he may inadvertantly sign all of their death warrants. Though, he did wonder what this "Shadow" she spoke of was...

Sinder inhaled, sorting the information he was able to gain by scent and suppressing the instantaneous desire to tear them apart. It was not as difficult as it had been so many years ago, but moreso than it would have been a week previous. He put this down to the fact that though the adrenaline had long since left his body, the churning thoughts of what had occurred had yet to vacate his mind. He tended to dwell and to stew, a habit that the Mentor had pointed out on more than one occasion with gentle admonishment. Nevertheless, he smelled no silver, only ill-washed bodies and fear, which was all the same emitting from a number of the armed men facing the ostensibly-unarmed Sellswords.

Good. They were right to fear. One could never truly disarm a mage, and he was the only one of this group who could not call himself such. He lacked no confidence in his ability to survive without steel for entirely different reasons, but he resolved not to think about them. The knowledge calmed him, and when he asked the obvious question, it was in a voice that, while possessed of a genuine note of curiosity, betrayed no anxiety whatsoever. "...Shadow? May I request more specificity? Your reference is unknown to me." Glancing between his companions, he drew a fairly apparent conclusion. "To us, rather."

Drayk had a ward spell out and ready while Sinder asked his question. It was really his only defense here, apart from... well, trying to heal everybody as they all got filled full of arrows. Rylin Moroth, however, just looked irritated with the Altmer. "Please don't try to play stupid with me. Your Mentor was working with an agent of the Shadow. Those that have worked with the Shadow before understand that loose ends are not something that will be tolerated, and yet I am the very embodiment of the loose end. And here you are not a day later, armed to the teeth and asking for entrance to Understone Keep. What could you possibly want if not my assured silence through my death?"

Drayk took a tentative step forward, figuring himself to be at least less threatening than the two elves in the room. "Look, uh, ma'am? We don't know anything about any Shadow. We're just trying to find the old man, and we heard he came to see you. Really, we'd rather not kill anyone else."

"Hard to trust the words of a man with a past such as yours, I'm sure you understand," Moroth retorted, but then she took a moment to think, "but if you are telling the truth, and your Mentor has truly kept you in the dark about this... then perhaps all of us know less about the old man than we thought." After a pause, she gestured to the guards, who slowly lowered their bows. She then leaned forward against the railing, peering down at the four.

"You know nothing, then? Nothing of the Shadow? As I said, your Mentor was in the company of an agent when the pair of them so rudely came to visit me. I find it unlikely that he, who seemed so close to all of his charges, would tell you nothing of his involvement."