Attn: To my best friend… No. Just NO. I am not naming my new character 'Socks', 'Fluffles', nor any of the other names you so kindly suggested. Sad part is I think you might have actually been serious.
A Dance in the Moonlight
It's just across the room, she told herself. It's just a few steps, you can do this. After the incident with the assassin Lydia was embarrassed. There Ralof was, getting attacked by a murderer and there she was, on the floor in pain. It was a situation that she did not want to find herself in again.
She stood, testing the strength of her leg. It held, much to her relief. She took the first step forward. Pain shot up her leg, but it was not as intense as the night of the attack. With more confidence she propelled herself forward. The limp was obvious, but the pain was tolerable. She walked even faster back to the bed, only to curse when her big toe hit the leg of the dresser beside it, sending a fresh wave of pain to mix with the already lingering ache of her leg. Lydia began cursing profusely.
"Such a list of profanities!" said a voice behind her. Lydia turned quickly; ready to fend off an unknown enemy. Instead in the doorway stood the larges Khajiit Lydia had ever seen in her life, which wasn't saying much since there were so few of the cat people in Skyrim. This one had to bend slightly so that his head would not hit the door frame. He was just as built as any Nord or Orc, yet he would tower over even the tallest of Altmer. His heavily muscled chest was bare, and he wore only a heavily ornate steel belt, gauntlets, mail, and boots. His fur was orange and black striped. His mane was cut in a warrior's line.
"Do I know you?" Lydia said accusingly.
The cat smiled, revealing pointed canines. "I, in fact, know you, but you knowing me? Perhaps, not so much." When Lydia's scowl failed to fade the cat grinned again. "You were told of a Khajiit healer?"
Lydia looked at him with suspicion. "You're the healer?"
"Yes," the Khajiit said again with a pointy grin which disappeared when he saw Lydia's confused look. He smiled again. "What," he asked with a raised brow, "do I not look like a healer?"
"No, not really."
The giant Khajiit chuckled as he invited himself into the room. "Why? Is it because I am Khajiit?"
"No!" she said quickly. The last thing she needed was to have a behemoth Khajiit angry with her. "I just," she started, "wasn't expecting, uh..."
"You weren't expecting a giant Khajiit with a very impressive build?"
Lydia couldn't help but smile. "Exactly."
He gestured for her to sit on the bed. "Well, trust me, I am a healer."
Lydia sat on the edge of the bed, her right leg resting along the side. The hulking Khajiit nodded when he saw her sit down and he then made his way to the table across the room. Immediately he began searching through his bags. "I didn't catch your name?"
"Probably because I did not say it," he chuckled. "I am Malik." Lydia watched as he began sorting through the things he'd taken out. She noticed wrappings, numerous leaves and roots, as well as a mortar and pestle.
She couldn't help but be curious. "You don't sound like other Khajiit I've met?" she asked as he began sprinkling different leaves into the mortar.
"That is because the Khajiit you meet here in Skyrim," he explained, his back still to her, "the caravans, are from Elsweyr. I did not grow up in Elsweyr." His voice was deep, yet as soft as a purr.
"But you were with the caravans?"
"No," he said shortly. He turned, grinding the mortar and pestle. He pulled a chair up to the bedside and sat down beside her. She couldn't help but notice the foul looking green and brown paste that he'd created. "I'm going to have to ask you to remove your leggings."
"Excuse me?!" Lydia growled.
Malik put up his hands, "So that I can apply the paste?"
Grumbling, Lydia removed her leggings from her right side, displaying the old bandage that covered her injury. She jumped when Malik nearly hissed at the sight of the bandage. "Nords!" he growled, "I told them to change the bandages every two days!" He sighed and reached for his belt, drawing a small dagger, and then cutting away at the wrappings, and once that was done he began cleaning it with a small amount of water.
Lydia gasped at the mark the wound had left. It was closed, and was healing well, but the mark went all the way from the side of her knee all the way to the middle of her thigh. Malik added two small oval-shaped leafs into the mixture. "Mint," he explained, taking in her curious look, "to help with the smell. It is quite strong."
She nodded. Once the mint was crushed thoroughly he dipped two fingers in, and gently applied the mix over the mark the blade left in her leg. The area was raw, but the Khajiit was gentle despite his size. The salve immediately cooled the skin and lessened the pain. Once finished he cleaned off his hand and began dressing the wound with clean bandages. "You're the biggest Khajiit I've ever seen," she couldn't stop herself from saying as he worked.
He chuckled at that. "You are used to seeing the Suthay. I am Cathay-raht."
"What does that mean?"
"It means I was born under a different moon," he said as he finished bandaging. "I was raised to be a great warrior, but I was exiled from Elswyr when I was a little older than a cub. I traveled Tamriel, studied under many different masters, learned many things," he explained, "and now, I am here."
"Things are not well in Elsweyr, my Nord friend."
"Am I still going to be able to…" she said absent-mindedly.
Malik smirked. "Will you what?" he asked with a pointed grin. "Dance naked beneath the moonlight? Sadly, probably not. It is Skyrim after all, you might freeze to death."
Lydia gave him a glare. "Fight," she said, "will I be able to continue as a housecarl?"
Malik smiled softly. "Yes, though you will be at a disadvantage for a time."
"That depends on you," he laughed. Lydia glanced at him in confusion. "Mind over body," he explained. "True, your injury will incapacitate you for a time, but there are no limits to what you can do if you set your mind to it. "
It wasn't that Cato hated the fool; it was just that he couldn't stand him. Cato was almost positive that there was a distinct difference between the two, but his thoughts on that particular logic escaped him at the moment.
What he was sure of, was that the fool was walking on thin ice.
Sure there was many a conversation happening, but for some reason Cicero's incessant humming was the only thing that Cato could hear. The happy jester was humming as he nibbled on a sweet roll, blissfully ignoring Cato's glares. Cato sipped at his wine, trying to block out the jester's tune, maybe if he got drunk enough he could tune the fool's song out. Cato scowled, that probably wasn't very likely to happen. Instead, Cato tried to focus on Nazir and the little she-vampire.
Meals were chaotic at the Dawnstar Sanctuary, but Cato would admit that there was at least something to be said about a group of murderers for hire sitting down and eating their late meal together. Of the original family from Falkreath only three remained Nazir, Babette, and, of course, himself. Of course Cato couldn't forget the jester. Since the incident with Astrid they had acquired a few new recruits.
"Dear Nazir, did I tell you about the birthday party I attended last week?" the tiny vampire cooed with a wicked grin. Babette had to be the most disturbing individual that Cato had ever met. She was three hundred years old, but still looked like she was but a child. It had taken Cato a long time to stop thinking of her as a little girl.
"No, you hadn't," the Redguard chuckled, "but I bet you're going to tell us."
Babette gave him a look. "Respect for your elders, Nazir. And of course I am going to tell you," she grinned wickedly, "because it was such a fun little party. I even gave the birthday girl a special present." Nazir prompted her to continue. "Her mother's head… on the cake!"
The assembled assassins roared in laughter. Cato gave a smirk and reached for his wine, not really listening to the rest of the vampire child's story. He was just about to take a sip when he heard a voice so suddenly, and so loudly that it made him jump, spilling his wine all over his front. With a curse he began to brush himself off, when he stopped.
Everyone had stopped in their place. The eyes around the table were wide in shock. There was something in the room with them; a presence. Had they heard it? A chill rolled through his body, as he stood, feeling the eyes of the terrified assassins on him. He knew exactly what he'd heard, but never before had it been with such urgency, such power.
It was absolutely terrifying, and he prayed to Nocturnal that he wouldn't hear the next words.
"MY LISTENER… YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED…"
Cato reached and pulled his Nightingale hood from his belt and thrust it upon his head and left the dining hall in its stunned silence.
It was a beautiful night, all things considered. Revak sat at the edge of an outcropping of stone, leaning against a pine tree and gazing at the night sky. This was one of the things he missed most after ascended to the Divines, the simple pleasures that a mortal life can give, such as staring at the stars and just letting your mind turn blank for just a moment. For just a tiny moment it was nothing but Revak and the stars, no dragons, no Thalmor, no wars, just falling snow and far away stars.
But he knew that he would only have that moment. He closed his eyes, listening to the sounds of the world around him, specifically the sound of footsteps growing ever closer. The Listener had arrived. The footsteps stopped a few feet from the tree. "I was wondering if the Night Mother still kept her word," he said as he drew the ebony dagger that had been used against him in Riverwood and he thrust it into the ground at his side. He let the silence ring for a moment. "I am the Dragonborn," he said as he opened his eyes and took in the sight of the leader of the Dark Brotherhood before him.
The Listener was garbed in dark leather armor that seemed to wrap the shadows of the night around him. He wore a hood, concealing his face. A black sword hung at his hip. And the man was as silent as a grave.
"A Listener who listens?" Revak said sarcastically, "Not one to introduce yourself?"
The Listener was silent.
"Can you not speak?" Revak growled as he stood, his eyes were level with the Listener's eye slots.
Revak palmed his sword's hilt in frustration. "Fine then, listen closely. Obviously your unholy matron informed you of this meeting, and it's not common for the Listener to attend to clients personally. So you know that I requested you."
"Your… organization… has been working with the Thalmor," Revak said curtly, "and this cannot be allowed to continue."
Growling again in frustration Revak closed the gap between himself and the Listener. "Will you not speak?"
Revak sighed in frustration. "If your Family align themselves with the Dominion, then they will be crushed alongside it!" he shouted, his voice echoing amongst the trees. "I will exterminate the Dark Brotherhood and its Thalmor associates. Do you understand?!" Revak drew his sword and pointed it at the Listener's chest.
Silence for a moment. But then the Listener shook his head, and next thing Revak knew the man was gone from right in front of him. Revak spun around, searching for the Listener. The Listener reappeared next to the tree that Revak had been leaning against just moments ago.
"The Brotherhood will end," Revak said, closing the gap once more, and a Shout ready in his throat, "and the end will begin with you!"
The Listener stood straight. "No," the Listener said, breaking his silence. He tore his hood from his face, revealing the man beneath the mask; and black haired Imperial. "I tell you this," the Listener said slowly, "on my honor, the Dark Brotherhood has never accepted a contract from the Thalmor."
Attn: This chapter was the hardest chapter for a fic I have EVER tried to write. Every bloody time I sat down to write the world would pop in and scream in my face that I didn't have time for this. Phantom was very not happy.
I am so sorry for the wait, and I am thankful for those who have stuck with me.
Next chapter WILL BE UP NEXT WEEK. YEP NEXT WEEK I PROMISE.
And say welcome to Malik, who will become a new perspective character in the chapters to come. He is actually based off my first character from the game.