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S'Baad

"This one's claws are stained with the blood of man."

0 · 232 views · located in Skyrim

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

Description

S'Baad

Image

Basic Info

Name: S'Baad (S'Baad the Sullied, Feral)
Race: Khajiit
Age: 30
Gender: Male

Personality

The feline is very polite and well-mannered, though very soft-spoken and subservient. He feels an extraordinary guilt for the wrongs he's committed, believing he has brought shame unto his people and himself. Therefore, he strives to maintain a kind aspect and character, often cooling his temper before it's hot. Observant and scrutinizing - in part from his merchant upbringing and in part from his fly-on-the-wall behavior - S'Baad enjoys thinking things through and piecing things together; the disappearance of The Mentor has him struggling, and his frustration is obvious.

Equipment

S'Baad often wears simple clothing, unaccustomed to wearing armor, but he does own a full suit of studded leathers - body, grieves, and bracers - though he keeps his paws exposed, favoring natural claws to any available weapon. To complete his gear, he wears a thick cloak of a deep green color, and a pouch in which he carries minor medicinal items.

Abilities

Khajiit are well-known for natural stealth abilities; their balance, agility, and dexterity are preternatural compared to that of humans. In conjunction, they possess a keen sense of smell - be it for detecting enemies or determining safe, useful herbs and potion ingredients. They have natural weapons in the form of claws and teeth, and instinctive ability to use them, though S'Baad is reluctant to do so.

History

S'Baad was born to a caravan merchant father and a caravaneer mother, though he can remember very little of her; she was murdered when he was a child by raiding bandits. Upon watching his mother's gruesome murder, S'Baad became pacifistic in his ways, avoiding conflict and tension as best he could, while learning the merchant trade from his father. He grew to become quite proficient as a salesman, and reluctantly took over his father's caravan when the older feline returned to the Khajiit home of Elsweyr.

In his travels, S'Baad met many people both friendly and hostile to the Khajiit people, though they were always regarded cautiously by friend and foe alike; often, S'Baad ignored this hesitance, trying to bridge the suspicious gap one client at a time. It was not to last, however, when one hostile trader - a fur salesman, no less - joked that he owned a rug in his home made of the skin of a Khajiit. The insult burned within S'Baad, who remarked that the puny man could not possibly have killed a Khajiit; the man claimed there was a resemblance between the rug - "which had to be a female," he said - and S'Baad.

Though there could have been no way the man had known about the death of S'Baad's mother, the slight was one that could not be ignored. S'Baad murdered the man, drove his claws straight into his neck, and promised the corpse it would be a rug in his home back in Elsweyr before being subdued by the town guard.

Word got around that the Khajiit wept within his cell, apologizing to his mother and to the fur-seller; it was a great joke amongst the guards and merchants of the city. A man heard the tale, and visited the young Khajiit in the prison. The Mentor spoke to S'Baad of forgiveness and vengeance, justice and murder. He claimed he could teach the young feline to harness his guilt, anger, and sadness, and channel it for a just cause. He promised the youth a better life through penance, which S'Baad gladly accepted.

S'Baad has worked for a long while with the various other Sellswords, finding in them a kind of brotherhood, and finding strength and hope in The Mentor's teachings. His sudden disappearance has the Khajiit very much distraught, like a zealot without a deity to worship.

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?: Owned Morrowind, though a damaged Xbox prevented me playing it; attempted Oblivion and got horribly lost; completed Dark Brotherhood, Companions, College of Winterhold, Civil War (Stormcloaks), and the main quest line of Skyrim, as well as many other minor quests.
How often do you get online?: Every other day or so.
How often can we expect you to be able to post?: Any time I'm online.
Password: Force Balance Push. (Fus Roh Dah)

So begins...

S'Baad'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 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: 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.