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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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  #16  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:29 AM
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A Blade In the Dark... Continued...

Bardak the Bold

Bardak breathed in deeply as he stepped through the great gates into Windhelm. He was home, finally home. The cold air, ancient stones, and the Stormcloak banners all warmed his bones. He had been raised here, he raised his children here, and now his grandchildren called the ancient home of the High Kings their home as well. He smiled for what seemed like the first time since he left.

Of course this wasn't the end of his tour of duty. He had fought many battles in his long lifetime, and he wasn't done yet. He laughed to himself, he probably wouldn't be until he finally died. If he were to die in the service of his would be king then he would die in battle, his forefather's ax in hand and a war cry in his throat. That was the way that Bardak the Bold would die. The only way he would accept his death. He was only here for a few days, to send news to his chosen king of what he had been witness to in Kynesgrove; a man who was Dragonborn. To think of it brought chills; a Dragonborn! The first in centuries and he had lived to see it!

He marched proudly into his city, his triple following him step for step. They were good and loyal soldiers, and he felt a sort of fatherly pride for each of them; especially for Danilla. She reminded him so much of his daughter. Just thinking of her brought tears to his eyes. Each night he dreamed of her. Each night he watched as she rode her white horse into battle, her war cry loud and strong... and the silence when it stopped. The silence that deafened him as she fell from her horse, a spear in her chest and her eyes wide in surprise. The silence that cursed his life as the Empire stole her from him. That silence that fueled his rage for the Empire and what it had become.

He made his way toward the ancient palace. When he reached the door of the kings he turned to his triple and dismissed them. They saluted then dispersed, probably to the tavern he'd wager. As he entered the great hall the Stormcloak guards saluted him, he returned the greeting and continued toward the throne. The long dining table was empty, as it was still early in the morning. Bardak had been here once for a dinner, and such a spread he had never seen before. Ulfric spared nothing when it came to the entertainment of his most decorated soldiers.

The rightful High King himself was seated at his throne at the end of the hall. Just like everything in the city the throne was stone, beside it on either side were large blue banners, decorated with the Stormcloak bear. Ulfric Stormcloak sat back in the chair, his hand raised to his chin in thought. He watched as Bardak approached. The old warrior knelt before the leader of the Stormcloaks, "My King," he said as he took to his knees.

"Rise, Bardak, I received word that you were coming," Ulfric said. His voice was deep, and his accent thick. Bardak stood, his head still bowed. Ulfric leaned forward, his interest peaked, "Tell me about this Dragonborn."

Attn: Big things happening in this chapter. Lydia meeting Hod, Cato fending off Thalmor and promising to help the Blades, and now Ulfric is hearing about Revak firsthand from Bardak. Just wait, in a few chapters you're going to be in shock. I got a surprise for you.

Also since someone mentioned the 'issue' with Cato promising to 'remove' the contracts. 1. You never know he might be lying. 2. Just wait until we get to know him better and give it a couple chapters. It will make sense.

I am open to brainstorming ideas with readers. Feel free to PM me anytime here on , or wherever you're reading this fic. I will even let you in on secrets, if you can keep them. I am always open to reader imput.
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The Throat of the World
-12-

What is better - to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort? - Paarthurnax

Cato

Cato stared at the man in front of him, and at the Blade of Woe in his hand. Was he really going to do this? Kill the Emperor? The Emperor stood behind his desk chair onboard The Katariah. The old Imperial's hands gripped the chair with white knuckles. His head was bowed, ready to accept the death that awaited him at the hands of the Dark Brotherhood. Titus Mede II knew he had to die. He knew the Dark Brotherhood could never deny a contract; especially one that was this important, one that paid such a high bounty.

But he'd stopped Cato when he had entered. He asked not for his life, but for justice. He asked for a new contract. A contract to kill the man who made his original contract. "For the Empire," the Emperor had said. For he feared that the murderer came from within his own Elder Council.

Cato hated this man. He felt the mark of the Legion on his left arm. It felt like it was burning, a fresh reminder of what he lost. Furious, Cato removed his mask and hood, thus revealing his face to the Emperor. His hand gripped the Blade of Woe like it was his lifeline. "You are contracted for death, Emperor," he said slowly.

The Emperor looked at Cato with gentle eyes, like the eyes of a father scorned. "Yes, I must die. And you must deliver the blow. It is simply the way it is."

Cato scowled. He reached for his Nightingale gauntlet and removed it, revealing the mark of the Legion. "Former Prefect Aventus Cato, Third Calvary Commander," he said quickly, like it was practiced. "Not everything is simple," he hissed.

The Emperor was silent.

Cato scowled. "Then you recognize me."

The Emperor nodded solemnly. "I do. Words cannot express how sorry I am so sorry for your loss."

"A little late, your Highness," Cato growled.

"I did what I had to do for the Empire. If I hadn't signed that treaty we would have all been killed. I saved so many."

Cato closed the gap between them. "You betrayed more people than you ever saved."

Titus Mede II dipped his head. "I know. Talos preserve me, I know."

Cato stared. This emperor was just as much a prisoner to the Thalmor as his empire was. He didn't deserve the Void. But it was a contract. The man had to die. Cato raised his dagger, and plunged it into Emperor Titus Mede II's heart. When the Emperor was dead he lifted his body and laid it on his bed, folding his hands over his chest. Cato left his Amulet of Talos wrapped around the Emperors hand.

A token.

Cato had realized the flaw in the Dark Brotherhood. There is no honor in killing a man who is already dead. The Dark Brotherhood was nothing but a business, just like Astrid had taught him.

The Legion had taught him honor. The Guild had taught him respect.

And now death was just a business deal.

It was in that moment that Cato decided that he would change the Dark Brotherhood. He would meld the old and the new. It would become a mix of Astrid's way and the traditional ways. He realized the Night Mother needed him more than he needed her. It was the Listener's turn to speak.

That was three years ago.

-ooo-

Cato was only vaguely aware that he was no longer in the Ratway Warrens. His body ached and his head was throbbing. He did not want to wake. He wanted to lay in this numbed stupor for the rest of time. Above all he wanted to sleep, and sleep he did. Cato fell in and out of fitul sleep awoken only by nightmares and when he felt someone forcing potions down his throat. He wanted to let go. That's when he heard a familiar voice.

Karliah.

Her voice anchored him. She kept him from falling into blackness. He reached for her. He dreamed of her in the Twilight Sepulchor. The glow of low torchlight angling her dark features. Her laugh, high bells that rang out in the night. The pain in her eyes when she saw Gallus' spirit failing. His unspoken love for her burned within him, warming him against the cold of death. He loved her, but she loved someone else, waiting for someone else; a dead man, a ghost.

When Cato woke he did so with a start and accidentally scared the poor healer who had been standing over him so much that the Breton dropped the potion he was mixing. The pale pink liquid burned through the sleeve of his robe, and he jumped as he frantically began brushing off the liquid with a rag before it could reach his skin. Cato watched with wide eyes, and the healer glared at him. Cato was too fuzzy to remember to apologize, or maybe he was just too frustrated. He wasn't sure. The Breton gave one last glare and left.

Cato paid no mind. His vision was reeling, and his head felt like it was three sizes to big. He touched his head, just to be sure, and found it to be perfectly normal. He wondered how he had gotten here. He'd been in the Warrens, fighting the Thalmor agents that had been hunting him and his clients. Had he taken a blow to the head? He didn't recall. He gave a mental shrug. He'd remember later. For now he would just deal with the basics. He was back at the guild. He recognized the room, plus he could hear the constant rush of water that indicated he was near the main Cistern. He knew that much, the basics.

He looked down at himself, someone, probably that healer, had removed his Nightingale armor. His chest was bare and his left wrist was bandaged. He tested his wrist and winced. Luck of Nocturnal my ass, he cursed.

His vision was still swirling when he heard a commotion outside. Within moments Brynjolf stood in the doorway. He smiled when he saw Cato was awake. "You," he chuckled, "took a mighty good blow to the head. We thought we'd lost you for a moment there, lad."

Cato smiled and tried to sit up. Then decided to stay down when he started seeing two of Brynjolf, "Nocturnal and Sithis were probably arguing too much over my soul to let me die already," he joked. "Did the others make it? The clients I was with?"

Brynjolf nodded. "For the most part," he explained, "Vex wasn't happy about it. Something about if we let in one set of strangers into the Guild vault we might as well sell tickets."

Cato raised a brow. He had no idea where the passage that he'd directed the Blades to let out. It let out in the vault apparently. "Depends on how much we would charge. Seal that entrance, and I don't want to hear a word about it. I'd rather it be forgotten," Cato ordered. "They were paying clients," he sighed. "Good paying clients. It wouldn't be polite to let them get killed."

"Aye," Brynjolf nodded, "but let's not make a habit of almost dying, huh?"

"I agree," Cato said with a fresh smile. "Are they still here?"

Brynjolf shook his head. "No," he explained, "they left right quick after we decided not to kill them."

"Did they say anything before they left?"

"Something about thanking you for your sacrifice or some noble skeever **** like that," Brynjolf said with a shrug. "But they left a note for you." He reached into his pack and pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper. Cato took it with his good hand and opened it. In a neat handwriting was a message from Delphine.

Thank you for your help. We left you a map of where we're going, if you were honest about wanting to help. We might have use for someone with your skill set.


Regards,
A Friend

Cato refolded the note and map and sat up, swinging his feet over the side of the bed. The world wasn't spinning as much and he didn't feel as nauseous. "One more thing," Brynjolf said as he turned toward the door. "Your Family sent a message. You're to meet them at home."

Right, Cato thought. It was mid month; time to speak with the Night Mother in Dawnstar.


Revak

It had taken a week for the Greybeards to start treating him normally. For the first few days every time they saw him they'd throw themselves on their knees and Shout 'Dovahkiin' or 'Dovah Do Faal Bron'. One of them, Master Bolli, had actually kissed his shoes once. It was kind of them to welcome him into High Hrothgar so energetically, but it was another thing when he sat up in bed one night to find offerings at his bedside. It took even longer to convince Arngeir to stop calling him Talos. But his time wasn't wasted dodging groveling monks. He studied the texts they offered him, teaching him new Shouts, and teaching him how to speak the Dragon Language. He was quite confident in his abilities to hold a very short conversation with a dragon, should that need ever arise. He had his doubts.

He was returned to the world when a courier arrived and delivered a letter. It was signed 'A Friend', but Revak had no doubt in his mind that it was from Delphine. It mentioned that they were fine, and that if he needed to find them a ruin called Karthspire was a good place to look. Arngeir was concerned that the Dragonborn was receiving messages, especially at High Hrothgar. He was even more concerned when Revak told him that this friend was a Blade.

"It concerns me that you would even associate with them," Arngeir argued at dinner.

"They are my Blades," Revak said sternly. "They are sworn to my service."

"And so are you sworn to theirs! They are violent and short sighted."

Revak scowled. "They are my sworn protectors, and have already saved me once in my time here."

"They would kill all dragons no matter what side they took. They treat them as nothing but beasts!" Arngeir stopped, collecting himself before continuing, "Not all dragons are hostile. We've protected Paarthurnax for centuries. You know that the Blades would call for his head."

"I know. Or do you not remember that I wanted him protected as well?"

"They would call it justice!"

Revak shook his head. "I need them, I need all of you," he said as he scanned the table and took in the expression of the monks around him. This is why he was here. Why a god had to return. For it would take the power of the Divines to make these old enemies come together for a common cause. "Greybeards don't fight wars. The Blades do. I need swords. I need soldiers." He stood, "If you will deny me this, then I will leave tonight."

The Greybeards stood, silent save for Arngeir, "No, holy Talos. We will not deny your wishes, only question them."

"Take me to Paarthurnax."

"As you wish," Arngeir had finally agreed.


Paarthurnax

Paarthurnax felt the world shake when Alduin returned to the world. It wasn't an earthquake. It was a shiver that shook all of Skyrim. Like the very mountains knew of the evil that had returned to the world. It was a black day, a black day indeed. The Tyrant had risen again.

If the world shuddered when Alduin returned, it sung when the Dragonborn Shouted for the first time. His Voice was carried all the way to the Throat of the World, and the wind and mountains joined in the chorus. It was a beautiful thing to behold. After thousands of years the silence was broken and the world sang once more.

When his Greybeards called the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar Paarthurnax waited patiently for the Dragonborn to speak with him. The ancient dragon was like a hatchling, itching with excitement he had not felt in a millenia. No one had spoken with him in hundreds of years. His friend, the Dragonborn Tiber Septim, the one who the mortals worship as Talos, was the last. He hadn't met this new Dragonborn yet, but Paarthurnax yearned to taste of his Voice.

It wasn't for some time that the mountain groaned as the Dragonborn's Shouts cleared the path to the Throat of the World. When he saw the man clear the summit he felt a sort of pride in his heart of hearts. He was young Nord, his hair short and light. The Nords, he thought, a blessed race to be sure. He was wearing heavy steel armor beneath a dark wool cloak that protected him from the chill in the mountain air.

With a short, deep roar Paarthurnax jumped from his resting place and took to the air. He glided down smoothly until he landed in front of the Nord. The man stood as still as a mountain. His face was stone. He was many feet away from the Dragonborn, but even from this distance he felt it. The power of another dragon. He showed his many teeth in a dragon's smile, "Drem Yol Lok. Greetings," he hummed.

"Drem yol lok, Paarthurnax," the Dragonborn said. Paarthurnax was impressed already by the Dragonborn's knowledge of his language.

"Who are you? What brings you to my strunmah..." he paused, remembering this mortal might not know all the words, " my mountain?"

"I think you already know, In," the Dragonborn said confidently.

"Vahzah... True, but first there are formalities to be observed. Traditions for the meeting of two dov." Paarthurnax raised his head and breathed in deeply. "By tradition it is the elder that speaks first." He turned, and rearing his head, "YOL TOOR SHUL!" he Shouted as a stream of fire erupted from his jaws. Paarthurnax chuckled, "Match it if you can, Dovahkiin."

"YOL TOOR SHUL!" he Shouted, and like the dragon a stream of fire was drawn forth from the Shout. It was strong and loud. His fire was hot and full of life.

But it was familiar. Like a scent that blows in the wind, but then is gone. But the last time he heard that Voice it was... "Daar nis kos. Zu lost hon hin Thu'um ingrah vod! This cannot be! I heard your Voice long ago!"

"I've returned, dov. My name in this life is Revak. My name in my past life was Talos, the Dragon of the North."

"Aam? You are alive?" Paarthurnax snorted, causing smoke to trail from his snout. A fitting name for a man-god. But more importantly Talos has returned? The mortal's gods must be desperate to send their god of war back to Mundus. This was unheard of.

"I've been sent to return to the world to stop Alduin," Revak-Talos explained.

Paarthurnax raised his head in acknowledgement, "My old friend, you seek a weapon against Alduin?"

"Yes, I wish to know how the old tongues stopped him."

"The words of that Thu'um, cannot be known to the Dovah," Paarthurnax said with a low growl.

"A Shout? They used a Shout to stop him?" Revak asked quickly.

"Geh aan Thu'um. They called it 'Dragonrend'. But as I said Dovahkiin, it cannot be known to me. My mind does not even grasp its concept." It chilled his blood just thinking about it.

"How can I learn it, then?"

"The ancient Nords used the Dragonrend Shout to cripple Alduin. But it was not was the Kel - The Elder Scroll. They used it to send him away on the currents of time. Tiid krent. Time was shattered here at the Throat of the World. If you brought a Kel back here, it would show you. Through the Time Wound..."

"I could see the other end of it," Revak finished. Revak bowed to Paarthurnax. "Stay safe Paarthurnax. I will return with an Elder Scroll. We will finish Alduin this time, my old friend."

He turned to leave, but stopped when he heard Paarthurnax speak, "It was good to see you again, Talos. Dahmaan. It brings back memories of times long past."

Revak smiled, "It was good to see you too. I head North. Watch the skies for me, Onik Fahdon. When Alduin is dead, you and I will have a nice conversation."

Paarthurnax hummed, "I look forward to that day, Dovahkiin."

Attn: Hmm, looks like Revak and Cato are both heading North.

If anyone is confused at this point here's clarification. There were 15 chapters. Now there's not. I combined many of them when I was going back over things. The story hasn't been changed very much. But there have been changes. Please note that. If anyone wants to go back and read the new perspectives starting in chapter 3 and onward, go ahead. It's mostly Lydia and Ralof (who will both be returning next chapter).

So, list of what's happening.

Revak is heading North to Winterhold to the College to seek the Elder Scroll. Cato is also heading North to Dawnstar to meet with the Night Mother as scheduled. Delphine and Esbern are making their way to Karthspire to find Sky Haven Temple (though they might not be able to get in). Lydia and Hod are in prison together, both taken prisoner by the Thalmor. Ulfric Stormcloak has learned of Revak from Bardak the Bold.

If you can guess what is going to happen, I applaud you.

List of Phrases in the Dragon Language as they appear:

Dovahkiin - (really?) Dragonborn
Dovah Do Faal Bron - Dragon of the North
Drem Yol Lok - Greetings (literally Peace-Fire-Sky)
strunmah - Mountain
In - Master
Vahzah - True
Dov - Dragon (Dovah = Dragon kind)
Yol Toor Shul- (Fire Breath Shout)
Daar nis kos! Zu lost hon hin Thu'um ingrah vod! - (rough) This cannot be! I heard that Voice long ago!
Aam? - Hmm? (Dragon version of being lost for words, like 'umm')
Thu'um - Shout
Geh aan Thu'um. - Yes, a Shout.
Kel - Elder Scroll
Tiid krent - Time Broken
Dahmaan - Remember
Onik Fahdon - Old Friend
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Old 07-28-2012, 12:30 AM
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Attn: Thank you all so much for being patient, and a huge thanks to Solavah who dealt with my at times insane ramblings. I am astonished by the amount of attention this fic has recieved, and I thank you all for your reviews, alerts, and favorites. This was an... odd chapter to write. I ended up scrapping three times before I ended up with this version.

Those of you who wanted Thalmor ass kickings... here you go. I also see the buddings of new ideas that I am starting to like, as well as some character developmental stuff and killing things; the usual.

Also I've started a side story for Cato, titled "Epitaph". It's his story before the events in Skyrim, when he lived in Cyrodiil. I suggest you check that out, though it's still in the works.

Note: Cicero's perspective happens at the same time as Hod's. The others are rather obvious.

Double Note: I like violence... sorry. (evil grin)

Blood In the Snow
-13-

We're the children of Skyrim and we fight all our lives
And when Sovngarde beckons every one of us dies.

Cicero

"Oh where, oh where, is Listener?" Cicero asked no one in particular as he paced the Dawnstar Sanctuary. Cicero knew that Mother's Listener was to arrive days ago. Yet, he was not here! What if something had happened to the Listener? Should he go get the Listener? He gazed at the Mother, her beauty was unmatched in all of the world. "If only Mother would speak to Cicero!" he cried. "If only Mother would tell her where her Listener is! Cicero could help Mother, help Listener, help poor poor Cicero!"

"Oh Cicero you thrice damned fool," said a voice behind Cicero, "you hear too many voices already."

The fool turned, a wild grin on his face as he saw the Listener in his intricate black armor. What had Listener called it again? Nightingale armor? Cicero danced and clapped in place. "Listener! You've arrived! Poor Cicero was so worried! Cicero thinks Mother was worried too!"

The Listener held up his hands, "I'm fine, fool. I was just delayed on the road. Trouble with my... other business."

Cicero scowled. "Cicero does not like footpads or thieves. Cicero worries for the Listener when the Listener goes to visit with them."

The Listener crossed his arms. "Who do murderers and assassins have any right to look down on?"

Cicero giggled, "The family does the Mother's bidding! Like a good family should!"

Cicero heard the Listener sigh as he reached and removed his hood and mask. He glanced at Mother's corpse with a slight grimace. Cicero didn't think he wanted Cicero to see the grimace, but Cicero did see. The Listener stood before the sweet Mother, and his eyes locked on her. The Listener was silent, listening, for surely the Mother was speaking to him.

"On the... special contract," the Listener said slowly. He stood silent for a moment, listening to the answer only he could hear. When suddenly the Listener's face looked shocked. "He's a what?" the Listener gaped. Then his expression grew somber, as he once again heard the blessed words.

Oh how Cicero wished he could hear her sweet voice. He had wished for so long for her to speak, to anyone, anyone at all. But Cicero deep inside wished it would be him. Oh he had prayed and prayed to her, for days and nights on end, but she never uttered a word to him. It was... saddening, for poor Cicero. He loved his Mother so much, but she would not speak to him. Did she know how much Cicero loved her? How he had dreamed of her voice every night? He watched in awe as the chosen one heard her words, her blessed voice.

The Listener stepped away from the Night Mother's altar. His face looked confused for a moment, but he shook away the confusion and looked at Cicero. "Tell Nazir to spead the word," he said slowly, "that the contract on the Dragonborn has been... removed."

Now it was Cicero's turn to gape, "What? How can this be dear Listener? A contract can never ever be..." he processed the word, "removed."

The Listener glanced back at the Mother. "I do not truly know. She said he was... an exception."

"This is maddness!" Cicero cried.

"Says the mad man," the Listener smirked. "Anyways," he began, his face sombering, "the contract for his comrade, the woman Delphine, is still active, and has been assigned to me personally. There are no specifications, only that she is to die by my hand," he said sternly. "Spread the word, she will die by my hand alone."

"Of course, dear Listener."

"Also," he said slowly, "someone has prayed to the Night Mother. Send a family member to Windhelm, and speak with the Khakjiit Jas'kar. So begins a contract, bound in blood."

Cicero grinned wildly, "Hail Sithis!"

Hod

"Guard!" Hod called out into the darkness. He picked up an empty wooden mug off the ground, and rattled it along the bars. "Guard!" he called again. "GUARD!" he shouted with all his strength, "ARE YOU DEAF YOU KNIFE - EARED SON OF A *****? GUARD!" This had better sodding work or I'm going to pay for this later... probably with my life. But if it meant seeing his family again, he didn't care what he had to do.

A few more calls and insults later a very disgruntled Altmer appeared. His armor glowed from the torch in his hand. "What in Oblivion are you yelling about you ape?"

Hod scowled. "It's my cell mate. I think she's sick."

The mer frowned. "That's your problem," he growled as he turned away.

"WAIT!" Hod called after him, "What if Lydia dies?"

"Lydia?" he muttered. He raised his torch so that the flickering light reached into the far corner of the cell, where Lydia lay motionless in the fetal position. "Damn it," he growled. "Wake up you damn *****" he said, trying to rouse the obviously unconscious Nord.

Hod scowled. "I could have done that you idiot! Get in here and help her!"

"Fine," he said finally, "move aside. I see you move, I run you through, understand ape?" Hod nodded and stepped back a few steps. The guard drew his sword and entered the small cell. He crouched in front of the seemingly unconscious Lydia. Come on, lass, Hod prayed, we won't get this chance again!

As the mer drew close Lydia sprang. She grabbed his legs and pulled. The guard let out a cry of surprise as his legs were taken from beneath him and he found himself on the floor of the cell. He still managed to hold on to his blade, but his torch flew across the cell, landing in front of Hod. Seizing the opportunity, Hod grabbed the torch and thrust it into the face of the still stunned Altmer. The Thalmor guard screamed and struggled as the flames burned his face. His sword abandoned as his hands scrambled blindly for his face. Lydia, now on her feet, and very much healthy, took the elven sword and buried it deep into its former owner's throat. The guard moved no more.

They stood there over the dead guard, catching their breath and taking in the severity of what they'd just accomplished. "Salvage what armor you can from him," Hod said, as he bent over and reached for the keys at the dead elf's belt.

"What about you?"

"You're a much better sword arm than I am," Hod smiled. "Hurry, we need to move." Lydia nodded as she started stripping the dead guard of his armor. Hod grabbed the torch, still burning on the ground and made his way swiftly down the row of cells, opening each. Soon they had a small group of prisoners. Hod had hoped for more, but it seemed that too many were too weak to fight, or even escape.

Lydia appeared outside their former cell, wearing only the gauntlets of the guard. "The rest was too big," she explained.

"Better than nothing," Hod chided. He turned to the prisoners that had joined them, thirteen in all. "We need to get to the surface, we should find a guard's barracks here somewhere, we'll get our weapons there, but for now I think we have the surpri-" he was interrupted as a new figure appeared from behind Lydia. Hod was almost in shock when he saw the chainmail and blue uniform of a Stormcloak scout.

The Stormcloak was equally shocked. The three stared at each other, bewildered. "Wait," the Stormcloak said slowly, "did you know we were coming?"

Both Hod and Lydia shook their heads. The Stormcloak smiled, "That's lucky then," he laughed. "My name's Jorund, I'm here to get you out of here, but I see you've started without me."

"Thank Talos, are there more of you?" Hod said, hoping.

His heart lifted when the Stormcloak nodded. "There's a company waiting outside, we just need to get to the courtyard. Here," he handed Hod an axe. "It's what I've got. We need to move, now!"

They scrambled down the dark hall until they found a spiral stair. They ascended, their shadows flickering in the light of Hod's torch. The door at the top was easily opened with the keys. They charged through the door.

Lydia took out the closest Thalmor quickly; decapitating him like his throat was made of cheese. Hod charged the second, trying to get the surprise, but he was too slow. The Altmer mage turned and cried out right before Hod's borrowed axe sliced his stomach wide open. Hod feared that the rest of the Thalmor guard would be atop them, but they seemed distracted by the gates. Jorund was laughing lightly beside him. When he saw Hod's confused look he laughed harder, "Reinforcements!" he called. He raised his long shafted axe high above his head, "FOR THE STORMCLOAKS!" he cried as he charged.

"FOR WHITERUN!" Lydia cried following him.

Hod smiled, "FOR SKYRIM!"

Their rag tag group collided with the defending Thalmor force. Hod felt everything, saw everything. His mind was a rush of swings and misses, of parries and blood. The entire battle moved in slow motion as the Stormcloaks broke through the Thalmor's barricade. He paused as the first warrior charged the now open gate. Is that? Ralof?

Hod never saw the blow that finally killed him.

Ralof

Ralof couldn't believe his eyes when he had seen him. He had only hoped that the remainder of his family were here. He'd heard of their abductions a few weeks ago. But he had almost given up hope. Instead he was filled with a new fire. He charged with the vanguard, breaking through the barricade with his comrades beside him. He had never felt more alive. His passion for vengeance burned inside him like a sun. If he had found Hod maybe the others were still alive; his sister, and little nephew.

That was three days ago.

The prison break had been a massacre. He still saw Hod's death like a waking nightmare. It was his fault that his brother-in-law was dead. When Hod had seen Ralof in the battle he paused, only briefly, but long just long enough for a blasted Thalmor to sink his sword through Hod's back. The Stormcloaks were battered back. Hod was dead, and Ralof barely escaped with his life. It was the only thing he could do, and he hated himself for it. He wanted every one of those bastards dead. Instead he ran, assisting the only friendly face he could find. Lydia was injured badly. A Thalmor's blade had struck her thigh, damaging the muscles and making walking difficult. Ralof assisted as much as he could, but there was only so much he could do with weak health potions and dirty rags. They were pursued relentlessly by Thalmor Justiciars. It seemed they could not stop for so long as an hour before having to move again. The constant pursuit only caused more damage to Lydia's leg, and even more for Ralof's morale. They moved slowly, Lydia's arm resting heavily on Ralof's shoulder, lessening the weight on her injured leg.

They fled east, hoping to reach Eastmarch, and Windhelm. It was the only safe place for them now. If Ralof could guess, they were just South of Dawnstar. It wouldn't be too far until they were safe in Stormcloak territory. He hoped. The further the went the colder it became. Soon the green land turned white, and a cold winter chill bore down upon the weary travelers.

"Ralof," cracked Lydia's voice in his ear, breaking him away from his thoughts, "I need to rest."

Ralof nodded, "Of course," he agreed. He glanced around them for a cave, a ruin, or anything that could provide them any sort of brief shelter from the wind. He spotted a large stone outcropping. That will do, he thought. They limped together into the lee of the stone, grateful for the relief from the wind. Oh Skyrim, Ralof cursed.

He gently helped Lydia lay in the snow. She winced as she sat; the movement was tugging at the wound in her leg. She was pale, and despite the drenched in sweat. He handed her the small vial of pink health potion, the last of his reserve. She drank it, relaxing slightly as some of the pain receded. Ralof sat beside her, pulling his sparse cloak around him. The weather was slowly getting worse. They'd get out of this, he knew. They were Nords. But he couldn't help but worry for Lydia. The wound was bad, and if they didn't get to a healer soon it was like to fester. He saw Lydia shiver next to him. He draped his cloak so that it covered both of them, sharing the little warmth that it granted.

"Thank you," she said weakly.

"It is no problem," he said with a weak smile, "we're in this together, right?" She smiled. He returned the gesture. They sat in silence, watching the snow drift with the wind. Soon Ralof's curiousity got the better of him, "Why were you in a Thalmor prison?"

She scowled. "I was arrested for being a housecarl to the Thane of Whiterun."

Ralof raised his brow. "The Thane of Whiterun? Isn't that the one that everyone has been talking about? The one they say is Dragonborn?"

She nodded slowly. "He left to meet with the Greybeards, but I haven't seen him since."

"He didn't take you with him?" Ralof asked.

"No," Lydia said with a small shiver, "Revak and I had a… disagreement."

"Revak?" It couldn't be, the Nord from Helgen?

"Yes?"

"What did he look like?" Ralof said quickly. He felt a little stupid; it wasn't like it was a particularly common name. Oblivion he'd never even heard it before he'd met him.

Lydia thought for a moment. "He's a Nord. Young, I'd say in his mid-twenties. Strong. Very short light hair and dark blue eyes."

"He was at Helgen," Ralof breathed, hardly believing this was true.

Lydia raised an eyebrow, "Yeah, he was or at least he told me he was." They were silent again for a few moments. "I'm sorry for Hod."

Ralof hung his head. "He was a good man. He's in Sovngarde now."

"Talos guard him."

"Talos guide us."

Revak

Revak pulled his black cloak close to him as the storm grew stronger. He laughed to himself, of everything that had changed in the world in the millennia that he was gone, at least the land remained the same. Brutal. His horse nickered in discontent as it trudged through the freshly fallen snow at a snail's pace. It was a gelding he borrowed from a merchant in Ivaarstead who had been more than happy to sell his horse to the Dragonborn. Perks of being the Dovahkiin. Come on Kyne, he thought in frustration, give me a break.

He had just started debating on whether or not to make camp when he heard shouting nearby. It sounded like someone was in trouble. Without hesitation he spurred his horse to a canter. He reached an outcropping of stone, the voices were coming from below. He dismounted and gazed over the edge.

He saw a group of Thalmor Justiciars surrounding two haggard forms. One was leaning heavily on the other, each had a sword in hand, but they bother looked in rough shape. Revak recognized the uniform of the uninjured form; Stormcloak mail. There were three Thalmor, two swordsmen and a mage, the fourth already dead in the snow at the Stormcloak's feet. Without a second thought Revak attached his shield.

The mage drew flame in his hands, a sly smile on his face. "In the name of the Aldumeri Dominion, in accordance with the White Gold Concordant I sentence both of you fugtives to death. Any final statements?"

"You bastards," the Stormcloak cursed. Revak thought he recognized the voice. Though there was no time to dwell on it.

Revak stood tall. "I have a few words," he said loudly.

The mage stared at him, now noticing the Nord. "Leave stranger, this is no business of yours."

"I think it is," Revak argued as he jumped from the edge landing heavily on the snow covered ground below him.

The swordsmen pressed the group. "Last warning, stranger, leave now or die with them."

"I said I have a few words, " Revak stated a second time.

The mage scowled, "And what would your final words be?"

Revak smiled. "TIID KLO UL!" he called, releasing the energy of the Shout. Time slowed around him. The mage's face was frozen in a grimace as he tried to raise his hands to release a burst of flame. The swordsmen charged, swords still low and their eyes frozen in fear as Revak moved with unnatural speed around them. The first he sidestepped and bashed with his shield. The second he drew his blade upon, tearing through his neck with ease. He turned back to the first swordsman, finding him now on the ground, and stabbed him cleanly in the gut, twisting his blade as he felt it tear through the mer's armor.

As time regained its normal pace Revak had already charged the mage. The Altmer stumbled backwards into the snow at the almost sudden reappearance of the Dragonborn in front of him. "You!" the Thalmor cursed.

"Me," Revak answered as he buried his sword in the elf's heart. Revak pulled his sword free, flicking the blood from the tip and creating a fresh splash of red on the once clean snow. He stopped to spit on the dead Thalmor mage as he returned to the Stormcloak and his ally.

Then he froze.

"Lydia?" he said in confusion, "Ralof?"


Attn: I have a computer again, some large amount of monies later. So I should be back in business. See you next chapter!

List of Dragon Language Translations as they appear:

Dovahkiin - Dragonborn
Tiid-Klo-Ul - Time-Sand-Eternity (Slow Time Shout)
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Old 07-28-2012, 12:31 AM
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Sweet Mother
-14-

Lydia

Lydia awoke to the smell of fresh baked bread, and the sound of faint music. Her leg throbbed beneath warm fur blankets. She was warm and comfortable, save for her leg. She felt like she could lay here forever, taking in the sweet smells and soft music. How had she gotten here? She remembered escaping the prison, and being chased by Thalmor agents. She jumped when she felt a cold cloth on her forehead. Someone was with her. The question was, who?

She opened her eyes, squinting in the light. "Welcome back," said a familiar voice. She saw Revak standing beside her bed. He was not wearing his armor, instead he wore a white tunic and black pants. His eyes looked tired, but they brightened as he smiled down at her. He dipped a wet cloth in a bowl of water, and gently pressed it against her head. "Your fever broke yesterday. You've been out for two days.

"Where are we?" Lydia rasped. She was surprised how soft her voice was.

"The Windpeak Inn, in Dawnstar. The Khajiit caravan was in town, and they happened to have a very talented healer traveling with them. "

"My leg," she said quickly, attempting to sit up, but stopped by her swirling vision.

"Will be fine," Revak explained, "in time. You just have to take it easy for a few days. "

Lydia nodded. "Thank you."

"No need," Revak said with a smile, "you would do the same for me." He paused, listening to the music for a moment. His smile faded. "What happened? Ralof told me that you had been arrested by the Thalmor, and that he was with a group of Stormcloaks that attacked the prison. He told me that you were the only ones that escaped. Why were you in a Thalmor prison?"

Lydia shook at the memory of that prison. "They were looking for you."

"What?" Revak said, surprised. "Why?"

Lydia shook her head. "They came to Breezehome, a group of them. They said I was under arrest, and so were you."

"They arrested you for being associated with me?" Revak said with a scowl.

"I think it was about you being Dragonborn."

Revak paused again, nodding. "They must think me a threat."

"Are you?"

"Now?" he smiled. "I suppose I am." He stopped, obviously deep in thought. "I'm sorry that this happened to you. It's my fault. I should have figured they would come for you, for me."

"I should have gone with you when you asked me, " Lydia admitted. She'd been so quick to dismiss him before. She never thought that her distrust of her Thane would lead to all of this happening. He had said he was destined to save the world, and that he was sent by the Divines. She had thought it impossible at first. But the more she thought the more it seemed to make sense. It could not have just been luck that Revak was passing by when the Thalmor found them. They had prayed for help, and it came in the form of Revak, the Dragonborn, who dispatched them like they were nothing but wooden targets.

She looked up at him, taking in the sight of him. His hair was slightly longer than she remembered; a testament to the time that had passed since she last saw him. He must have been on the road for quite some time, for the start of a sparse beard was appearing on his cheeks. But it was his eyes that drew her in. Before they had been bright and friendly, but something inside them had changed. His eyes were the eyes of an old man. There was wisdom in them, wisdom of the world, like he saw more than the normal person did. They were experienced eyes. She couldn't help but stare into them, become lost in them like two midnight blue pools that bore into her very soul. He was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Was she falling for him?

What had happened to him on that mountain?

Revak sighed as he took a seat in the small wooden chair beside the bed. He removed the cloth from her forehead and dropped it in to the basin of water, leaving it there. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees and hands folded before him. "You had every right not to believe me. I imagine that it was a lot to take in at once," he said a little too calmly. His expression was soft, but she could tell he was holding back. He was angry with her, but the kind bastard wasn't about to let it show.

"No," she said slowly, "I didn't. I made an oath, to protect you, and instead you're protecting me." He was silent as a statue. "I'm sorry." She felt the tears threatening to fall. She held them back. From here on out, I will be there for this man. I made an oath. And I will not falter in whatever he needs me to do. That's how it should have been in the first place.

Revak shook his head. "There is no need to apologize," he said softly. "My story was a little too hard to swallow." His expression turned serious. "But what I told you was the truth; at least, it is what I could tell you. You just need to trust me."

"I trust you."

"You can't go back to Whiterun," Revak said calmly. "They will chase you wherever you go. "

Lydia nodded as she sat up. "I know."

Now it was Revak's turn to rise. "I know somewhere you can go, somewhere with friends." Lydia looked at him questioningly. "It's somewhere safe."

"Where is it?"

"A Temple in the sky," he smiled. "Now rest, we will leave as soon as you are able to travel."

Ralof

The night was starless, but the moon was full and bright. Moonlight flooded the room, outlining Lydia's sleeping form. Ralof crossed the room as quietly as he could and sat down in the wooden chair beside her bed. He smiled as she started snoring softly. He looked at her, relieved that she was going to live, that they were both going to live.

There was a moment where he wasn't so sure of that fact.

If it wasn't for Revak they would both be dead. It was a fact that Ralof knew all too well. Revak had saved his life. That was the second time Ralof was sentenced to death, and the second time he had barely escaped with Revak at his side. He made a note that if he were ever to be arrested again to bring the Nord with him.

Ralof smiled as he reached over to brush a stray strand of brown hair from Lydia's face, but froze when she stirred. He stood, still as a statue with his hand hovering above her until her breathing steadied again. She was beautiful woman. He hadn't had the chance to appreciate that before since they were running for their lives. But now he gazed at her sweetly sleeping form. He had come to care for her greatly since they met.

His hand strayed and reached for her hand that rested lightly at her side, grasping it gently. His heart jumped when she stirred again, but this time her eyes opened. She turned to him, shocked, but then relieved when she saw that it was only him. "Ralof?" she asked in a curious voice. She began to sit up.

"I'm sorry," Ralof said, backpedaling, "I was just – um…" His words stuck in his throat as his heart was beating so rapidly he felt that it would beat right out of his chest. He quickly took his hand back and stood.

"Ralof!" she cried, her eyes wide in shock. "BEHIND YOU!"

"What?" Ralof cursed as he turned, just in time to see a black form dart in from the corner, a dagger high and ready to pierce Ralof's back. Ralof grabbed the wrist holding the dagger and threw the black figure aside. Ralof heard the sound of metal hitting the ground; the bastard had dropped his weapon. Ralof reached for his blade, but cursed remembering that he had left it in his room, along with his other weapons.

The black clad figure stood straight, and launched himself at Ralof, who only just only managed to repel the attacker. They grappled, spinning as they each tried to overpower the other. Finally the attacker got the upper hand and thrust Ralof into the wall. Ralof heard the sound of glass breaking as he kept his arms on the attacker's shoulders, trying to prevent them from reaching his throat.

He caught movement from the corner of his eye, and he heard a grunt as something fell to the ground. He took a moment to glance over, and saw Lydia on the ground beside her bed, grasping her injured thigh and cursing profusely. The attacker took advantage of Ralof's momentary distraction and kneed Ralof in the groin. Ralof grunted in pain as the knee made contact, and his strength faded for a few seconds. The assassin's hands found Ralof's throat and tightened. Ralof felt the air trapped in his lungs. He panicked, groping blindly for the hired killer's hands and trying unsuccessfully to pull them away. "Someone wants you dead, Stormcloak," the killer growled. "The Brotherhood is 'appy to grant their wish."

"Ralof!" Lydia said, struggling to get to her feet.

"Don't worry lady; you'll get your turn."

"Let him go," said a familiar voice behind them. Revak stood in the doorway. The fight must have woken him from across the hall. He was in his bedclothes, only a pair of black pants, but he had managed to grab a dagger before he'd left his room. The assassin's grip slackened for a brief moment, but it was long enough for Ralof to take advantage of the situation. Ralof kneed the assassin in the groin, a payback that Ralof was more than happy to deliver. The assassin sagged. Ralof grabbed his shoulders and spun the assassin around, holding back his arms and leaving his chest wide open for Revak to attack.

"Do it!" Ralof rasped, his throat burning in pain.

Revak closed the gap, an ebony dagger in his hand. His hands were steady and his face was cold as he aimed the tip of the dagger to the assassin's exposed throat. Without a sound Revak plunged the black blade into the assassin's windpipe and twisted. The assassin twitched once then went limp in Ralof's arms as his life blood pooled at their feet, black in the moonlight. Ralof dropped the dead assassin at his feet, panting heavily.

Revak kneeled, removing the assassin's hood and revealing a dead Dunmer before them. He scowled as he stood, dropping the hood to the ground. "Dark Brotherhood," he said curtly.

Ralof nodded, words failing him as he tried to fill his starving lungs with air. "Why? Who would want Ralof dead?" Lydia said for him as she rose unsteadily from the ground.

"I have a good idea who," Revak cursed.

Ralof had never seen him this angry before. "Who?" Ralof managed to say between pained breaths.

Revak took the blade unceremoniously from the ground, wiping it on the armor of the dead assassin before walking back to the door. "The Thalmor," he growled, leaving Lydia and Ralof dumbstruck and alone.

Revak

Revak was silent as he lit the final candle. His armor reflected the moonlight. Revak sighed, his breath becoming a white mist that floated above and then beyond sight. It seemed the world was determined to slow his progress. The Elder Scroll, however, wherever it was, wouldn't be moving. The Dark Brotherhood was beginning to do more than just be annoying. He needed to solve this problem before the pattern continued. If it truly was the Thalmor that were hiring the Dark Brotherhood then he needed to remove the problem where he could, and right now, that was with the Brotherhood.

And he would do that by speaking to the Night Mother herself, through her Listener.

He knew of one sure way to get the Brotherhood's attention.

They prepared the Black Sacrament just outside the city of Dawnstar. The surrounding woods were thick, and this clearing was far enough inside that they wouldn't be heard, save for the woodland creatures. The Sacrament was an ancient rite of blood, a prayer to the Night Mother herself, a call for aid. Once Revak said the words the Sacrament would be finished and an agent of the Dark Brotherhood would meet with him.

Or, at least, that's what Revak remembered of it. It had been a very, very, long time since he called upon the assassins. The black memory was one that he did not want to recall again.

It ritual required few things. Most were easy enough to find,candles, nightshade, and, of course, a corpse. Though the Dark Brotherhood was kind enough to have given them a donation; the dead assassin from the night before lay in the center of the circle. Revak took account of the spread before him and nodded.

Revak kneeled at the edge of the circle, the black ebony blade in hand. Steeling his face he drew the blade across his palm. The cut was not very deep, but it drew enough blood that a few drops fell into the snow. That should get the Night Mother's attention, Revak thought, not only the blood of the Dragonborn, but blood of the Ninth Divine.

The wind grew still as the blood hit the snow, as if the world was listening to Revak's dark prayer. He took the prayer stone and rapped it once against the ground. "Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me. For the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear," he chanted, accenting every line with another tap of the stone. The world remained still, scowling Revak somehow got the feeling he was being blatantly ignored.

Fine, then, he thought with a growl. He had only brought this on once before, but that was after days of meditation and training. Arngeir had pressured him to learn to control what he called Revak's 'Divine Aura', meaning that, for a short time, Revak could call upon his power as a Divine. But it was only for a short time. He inhaled deeply and held it there. He felt the power that was flowing around him, the sky, the moon, the trees, and the very air, all of it held the power of creation, and the power of the Divines was bound to it.

Revak's skin became hot with power. He opened his eyes and saw his skin glowing gold in the moonlight as his power radiated from him. He scowled and chanted again. "Sweet Mother," he said with more command, "sweet Mother! Send your child unto me! For the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear!"

Power drunk, he continued, "As the Ninth Divine, Talos Stormcrown who is also Tiber Septim, I call upon you! Heed my offering, and listen to my command; for I am both man and Divine! Bring me your Listener!" As he said the last words a golden shockwave of power burst forth, and then dissipated along with his Divine Aura.

The world grew cold again, and a chill went down Revak's spine.

In that moment he knew his Black Sacrament had been accepted, and now all he needed to do was wait.


Next chapter should be up very soon.
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Old 08-28-2012, 07:22 AM
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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
-15-

Lydia

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."

"Exiled, why?"

"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."

"How long?"

"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. "

Cato

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.

Silence.

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.

Revak

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.

"Well?"

Silence.

"Can you not speak?" Revak growled as he stood, his eyes were level with the Listener's eye slots.

Silence.

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."

Still silence.

"Your… organization… has been working with the Thalmor," Revak said curtly, "and this cannot be allowed to continue."

Silence.

Growling again in frustration Revak closed the gap between himself and the Listener. "Will you not speak?"

Silence.

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.
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Old 08-28-2012, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: The Divine Champion

Lady Luck
-16-

Cato

Cato stood straight. This is insanity, he thought. After all the Thalmor had done, to him personally, never would he allow a contract from those bastards to slip through. Something was wrong with this, very wrong. He felt the mark of the Legion burning like a brand on his arm, a permanent reminder of the life he lost. He never imagined his life would end up like this, a servant to an evil spirit, killing people for the turn of coin. No, he corrected himself, not a servant, a slave.

Memory soon took over him, memories from two years before, a job for the Guild gone wrong, an assassin dead by his hand. Next thing he knew Astrid had captured him, trapped him in an abandoned shack and forced him to join her organization or die. He had no choice, and when the Night Mother began to speak to him he knew that he was trapped for life. He had killed the Emperor. He had killed Astrid when she'd revealed herself a traitor. It was he who had rebuilt the Dark Brotherhood anew, in the hope that it would bring itself some sort of honor. But there was no honor to be gained in the life of a slave, even a skilled one.

"No," he growled, breaking his silence. He tore his hood from his face, allowing the Dragonborn. "I tell you this," the Listener said slowly, "on my honor, the Dark Brotherhood has never accepted a contract from the Thalmor."

The Dragonborn scowled, his blade still hovering in Cato's direction. "Explain yourself then," he said with malice. The Dragonborn was exactly what Cato had expected him to be. The Nord was large and built like a stone wall. He wore fine steel armor, and a horned helm rested on his head, blocking his face and making any attempts to read his expression impossible. His blade was thin and slightly curved; very odd looking indeed. Cato had only seen a blade like that once before, the Blade, Delphine. Yet, despite his obvious rage, the Dragonborn seemed controlled, his body was calm, his actions decisive and calculated. The Dragonborn was a force to be reckoned with, and Cato was not eager to cross blades with him.

Cato shook his head. "The Dark Brotherhood would not willingly deal with the Thalmor," he said, keeping his voice level, "I would never allow it."
The Dragonborn's blade lowered a fraction. "Since when can the Dark Brotherhood choose their contracts? If the ritual is done," his voice trailed.

"The Dark Brotherhood has changed over the last few years," he explained further, "all contracts are decided upon. You have my word, Dragonborn; no contracts from the Thalmor have been accepted." He frowned, "But trust me, they have tried, and been denied at every turn."

"And what of the attempt on my life?"

"That was not a Thalmor contract," Cato said, shaking his head. "I can't tell you who called for the contract, but I can tell you that someone in Whiterun does not like you very much."

"And what of your most recent attempt on my allies?" the Dragonborn growled.

"Allies?" Cato said in confusion. His brow furrowed. "Where?"

"Close by, Dawnstar," the Nord answered curtly. "I will have you know that the assassin failed."

That made no sense. They did not work in Dawnstar as a general rule. The hold was simply too close to their Sanctuary in general and working there would bring too much attention to their residence there. "Who was it?" Cato asked, genuinely curious as to who would be daring enough to encroach upon Dark Brotherhood territory.

"A Dunmer, middle aged," the Dragonborn described, "and dead."

Cato shook his head. "None of this makes any sense," he said furiously, "there are no Dunmer in the Brotherhood, there haven't been in more than two years." They tend to avoid us due the Dark Brotherhood's former rivalry with the Morag Tong, he said to himself.

"He was wearing the same armor as the Argonian in Riverwood," the Dragonborn added, "either you are not as knowledgeable as you think of your own Family as you should be, or this assassin was an imposter."
Or what I was worried about years ago is happening, Cato thought with a chill. The Morag Tong have returned, and are working with the Thalmor.

It was the only possible answer. But why wear Brotherhood armor? The better question was, how did they get Brotherhood armor? Someone in the Brotherhood was supplying these imposters with armor, betraying the trust of the Family, and endangering them all; a betrayal worthy of death. He had been wondering where the missing funds had disappeared to.
What was he to do? Conducting an investigation would be almost as dangerous as letting the traitor go free. The Brotherhood hated him as much as he hated them; save for the damn fool. They knew he resented his position, and they in turn resented the changes he made. Many thought Astrid a better leader, even though her actions led to the near extinction of the organization. There was only one way to ensure that the link to the Thalmor was destroyed, the Rite of Purification.

But to do the Rite on the Dawnstar Sanctuary? It was the only one left in the world. It was the resting place of the Night Mother herself! To set fire to it would eradicate the Brotherhood completely, it would cease to exist.
He would be free.

"Have you returned to your silence?" the Dragonborn barked.

He is impatient when angered. "No," Cato said quickly, "there is only one answer to this impersonator. There is a traitor within the Dark Brotherhood." Cato held back a smile, he didn't care who the traitor was at this point, and it gave him the excuse he needed to eradicate his slavers. And what can the Night Mother or Sithis do? I am sworn to Nocturnal, and so far she's watched over me. He couldn't do this before, not on his own, the Brotherhood would have overpowered him, but with the Dragonborn at his side he could do it.

"And what do you plan to do about it?"

Cato took a few steps toward the Dragonborn. "Purification, the Brotherhood must be cleansed. Though you must understand, this is the last Sanctuary in the Brotherhood. If this is done, the Brotherhood will no longer exist."

The Dragonborn looked taken aback. "You seriously would do this?" he asked, shocked.

"I never wished to become the Listener," Cato said, grating his teeth in frustration as he did. "I am a slave."

"You need help," the Dragonborn said, it wasn't a question.

"Yes," Cato said, nodding, "there are too many to handle alone."

the Dragonborn answered, a faint smile flashing beneath his helm. He sheathed his sword. "Let me gather some friends. You won't be alone in this."


-ooo-
The Dragonborn's friends were an impressive group. There was a Nord woman, she walked with a limp, but the determined look on her face spoke that her condition did not hinder her abilities. According to the Dragonborn she was his houscarl. The other Nord was very skeptic of assisting him. He was a Stormcloak, and the target of the false Brotherhood assassin. The final member was a giant Khajiit that wielded two equally large battle axes. The Dragonborn had advised him that the Khajiit did not need to come, but the Khajiit just smiled and said he needed some practice anyways. Since their group was large enough they could cover all the exits. Cato posted the two Nords at the secret entrance just south of the city.

They made their way to the Sanctuary. They stopped at the door. The Khajiit raised his brows at the image on the door. "Not very welcoming is it?" he commented, not taking his eyes off the grisly image of Sithis devouring his children.

"The Dark Brotherhood has a different meaning of that word," Cato said with a scowl turning from the entrance to the Dragonborn and his Khajiit companion. "There are nine in there total," he said, briefing the two. "Most are recruits, the main three you need to worry about are masters; a jester, a Redguard, and a child. But everyone there are murderers."

"A child?" the Dragonborn said in shock.

"She's a vampire."

The Dragonborn shook his head in disgust. "Malik," he said, addressing the Khajiit, "stay here at the entrance. Should one make it past me and our
friend here, make sure they don't get far."

"Of course," the behemoth Khajiit said, dipping his head, "come back soon though. It is cold out here."

The Dragonborn smiled. "Then maybe you shouldn't have a bare chest," he said with a light laugh.

"It looks much more intimidating though," the Khajiit said with a pointed grin.

"Looks cold, that's what it looks like," the Dragonborn chuckled with a shake of his head. Turning away from his companion he laid his sight on Cato. "We're ready when you are, Listener," he said attaching his shield to his left arm.

Cato nodded as he made his way to the door. A familiar disembodied voice filled the air, "WHAT IS LIFE'S GREATEST ILLUSION?"

"Innocence, my brother," Cato answered, resting his hand on the Nightingale Blade.

"WELCOME HOME," the voice said as the door unlatched itself and swung open.

"The sins of the wicked must be baptized in blood and fear," Cato whispered as they descended into the Dawnstar Sanctuary.

"Listener, you return. Stop now, before you regret your decision, my child."

I'm not your child! Cato responded silently.

"TRAITOR!"

I can't betray what I was never part of.

When they reached the bottom they were greeted by one of the newer recruits. His name was Toret, and he had joined a mere three months ago, a murderer from Solitude. Judging by the expression on Toret's face he hadn't seen the Dragonborn behind Cato. "You're back," Toret said, "what happened, you ran out of here like you saw a ghost." Cato didn't say anything as he drew his blade. "What are you doing?" Toret said, taking a step back. Cato stepped aside, revealing the Dragonborn stepping from the shadows behind him. Toret's eyes grew wide as he saw him.

Cato closed the distance between himself and the amateur assassin with only a few steps. "The sins of the wicked must be baptized in blood and fear," he said, swinging his blade easily through the assassin's neck. The body landed on the floor with a sickening crash. Cato and the Dragonborn stepped over Toret's headless body as they made their way to the main hall, where they found a small group of lower ranking assassins. No sign of Nazir, Cicero or Babette.

They stood, seeing Cato and the Dragonborn with drawn weapons. One brave Breton stepped forward in an attempted to greet the Listener. Cato greeted him in return by driving his sword through the recruit's belly. The recruit gasped as Cato drew his blade away and kicked his body aside. The others, realizing that Cato was not here to visit, drew their blades, a motley assort of swords and daggers.

You betray me! YOU BETRAY YOUR FAMILY! screamed the Night Mother in his ear as the first recruit charged Cato, his sword high above his head. Cato sidestepped, causing the recruit to run directly into the Dragonborn's shield. He was knocked back, stunned. The Dragonborn took the opportunity to slice the recruit's throat. With the assistance of the Dragonborn at his side, Cato cleared the room. He did the math in his head, Four left.

They descended further into the Sanctuary, finding the training area empty they went deeper into the dormitories. Cato smiled when he looked down the long hall to find both Nazir and Cicero waiting for him, both of them ha their blades drawn. "Have you gone insane?!" the Redguard yelled.

"No," Cato said, ever closing the distance between himself and Nazir, as he drew his silver dagger with his left hand.

"You're a traitor! I knew you were! I knew you weren't to be trusted! And now you die for it!" Nazir cried as he charged. They were a flurry of blades, until Cato suddenly disappeared. Nazir cursed, "Coward!"

Cicero spun, giggling as he tried to find Cato, but to no effect. Instead he turned to the Dragonborn, sprinting forward and leaping with his daggers ready to strike. The Dragonborn caught both the blades on his shield.

Meanwhile, Cato reappeared, this time behind Nazir. He grabbed the Redguard from behind, and thrust the Nightingale Blade through his chest. Nazir sputtered, spraying blood. "You," he gasped, "bastard."

Cato watched in shock as the Redguard fell. He was elated, but empty. The dead man before him had followed him for years, and though they hated each other, it was an odd feeling staring down at the dead man. It was a sour feeling of relief. Shaking himself from his emotions, Cato turned his attention to the fool, who was happily hopping back and forth and stabbing at the Dragonborn in absolutely no pattern whatsoever. So far, Cicero had done nothing more than annoy the Nord it seemed, as every time the Dragonborn stabbed forward with his sword the jester would happily dance away.

Finally the Dragonborn seemed to have enough of it and he took in a deep breath and Shouted. A wave of energy burst forth from the Dragonborn, sending the knife-happy little fool flying past Cato. The jester end up sprawled on his back halfway down the hall in a daze. The Dragonborn made a move to finish the fool off, but Cato stepped in front of him. "This one is mine," he growled. He looked down at the jester, who still had a stunned grin on his face as Cato drove his sword through Cicero's heart.

The Dragonborn gave Cato a look. "You have no idea how long I've been waiting to do that," Cato explained. Then he cursed. Where was Babette? "Look for a little girl," he announced to the Dragonborn, "she looks about ten years old, brown hair, evil red eyes." The Dragonborn nodded, but they searched the entirety of the Sanctuary, coming to no avail. The little she-demon was not there, causing a stream of curses to flow freely from Cato as he and the Dragonborn ascended the stairs to make their way back to the surface.

Along the way Cato stopped before the corpse of the Night Mother, who was surprisingly quiet now, when before she'd been a constant buzzing in the back of his head. The Dragonborn, seeing nodded and left, leaving Cato alone one last time with the bride of Sithis. "It's over," he said, a faint smile on his face. "I'm no longer your slave."

"You will regret crossing me! I am the Night Mother, the Bride of the Void, mistress of-"

"Yeah," Cato said, interrupting her, "I'm done listening to you."

Nothing but blessed silence.

As he made his way up the stairs to the main door he couldn't escape the feeling of being watched. He reached the alcove and turned, unable to shake that feeling. It felt like a chill going down his back. He drew his silver dagger, and out of pure instinct stabbed into the corner, and was shocked to find he'd actually stabbed something soft.

Immediately, Babette's tiny form appeared around the dagger, which was buried deep in the center of her chest. The little she-vampire stares at her chest and the silver dagger protruding from it. "How?" she gasps as she sinks to the floor.

Cato stared at her, his smile concealed beneath his hood. "Nocturnal's luck." He watches as Babette struggles trying to staunch the bleeding wound as Cato pulls the dagger away with a twist.

"You destroyed us," she breathes.

Cato kneels in front of her, removing his hood and meeting her blood red eyes with his green ones. "Not entirely," he said softly, "but luck is a fickle lady, whose side do you think she's on?"

Babette gaped as he rose and left her where she sat fighting for her existence, already feeling herself crumble.

-ooo-
When Cato returned to the surface he felt like a new man, a man free from the shackles of an opposing evil that had been weighing him down for two years. He found the Dragonborn waiting for him, as well as his Khajiit companion. Cato removed his hood and smiled. "It's over," he said, almost not believing his own words.

The Dragonborn smiled back at him. "Indeed it is," he said with a smile.

"What will you do now?"

"I think I will keep a promise I made to someone not too long ago," he said with a coy smile. "Which means I'll be going with you."

"Wait," the Dragonborn said, surprised, "what?"

"Who do you think helped Delphine find her Blade friend?"

The Dragonborn smiled wider. "It looks like we have much to talk about," the Dragonborn laughed as he offered Cato his hand. Cato shook it with a smile. "Revak."

"Cato."
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