A Step into Evil - by Denina

A Step into Evil - by Denina

Postby Denina » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:05 pm

A Step Into Evil

Jan checked her satchels inside the small, cool Nordic house that she called home. She glanced at her list and ticked them off in her mind as she looked around while reading off each item. She needed fire wood, a new skillet, a supply of straw, and some kwama eggs if any were available. She also had a few extra pieces from various bandits to sell off. She pinned up the two thick, straw colored braids and put on her helm. It was about a half day's walk from her small house on the Bitter Coast to Seyda Neen, but it was better than suffering the barely concealed hostility of Hla Oad, which was closer.

The damp early morning air was crisp as she locked the door from the outside. She smiled at the sun just coming up over the horizon. She saw dark clouds in the distance and figured it would rain by nightfall, but she'd be in Seyda Neen by then. If there was a storm she could always rent a room in Pelagiad for the night.

She hadn't gone far when she heard the predatory squeal of a mudcrab.

'Lunch!' she exclaimed as she unsheathed her spear and punctured the soft tissue between its claws. It cried out in pain and fell over dead. Jan scooped out some meat and tossed the creature's shell aside. 'And it didn't suffer. At least it wasn't sick.' Above a tree, Jan saw the outline of a betty and bull netch. By the sounds they made, she could tell they were mating. She gave the couple a wide berth as she made her way toward the river coast. No one in their right mind would disturb breeding netch. They were vicious and territorial. Almost worst than kagouti.

She waded across the river and looked up at the dilapidated old shipwreck. It had been there for who knew how long, but Jan could never bring herself to enter it. It looked old and...dead. Yes, dead she thought. If I explore it, who knows what soul's rest I'd disturb. Shipwrecks are better left to themselves. She shuddered involuntarily as the memory of the old sailors she'd met in childhood talked of haunted ships. To this day, twenty-five years later they could still send chills up and down her spine.

'Thirty-two years old and I'm still afraid of ghosts,' she muttered crossly. 'Skeletons, bonelords, bonewalkers...bring 'em on, but a ghost...spare me.'

She climbed over some rocks in her path and heard the distinctive squall of a cliff racer. The rocks were wet from the spray of waves and the racer whipped her with its tail across the shoulder. Her armor absorbed most of it, but a twinge of pain shot through her arm.

'Rawr!' she yelled, grabbing her spear and thrust hard at it. She missed but the second thrust aimed true and punctured its wing. She thrust again and punctured another place on its plume finally getting good aim on the creature's heart and piercing it through. She salvaged the other plume and left its body for the mudcrabs to devour. A few more cliff racers took exception to her presence along the way until finally she glimpsed the light house flame in the distance. She saw dark clouds ahead and frowned. The wind picked up and blew in her face. Damn wind changed direction. I'm going to get caught in this now.

The storm blew in with a soaking rain. Jan swore colorfully. The clap of thunder coupled with lightning made her jump and she knew she had to find shelter or her iron armor would leave her vulnerable to lightning shock. If she was struck, the fabric of the armor padding would absorb most of it, but it would still be a shock. She saw a tomb up ahead. Groaning, she ducked into it, glad that ghosts couldn't float through doors as the one at the base of the stairs was closed. She could at least hole up here until the storm passed.

The smell of dust and bonemeal made her crinkle her nose. 'This tomb is so old it no longer smells of death.' she grumbled. Standing still and remaining silent, she listened, but all she could hear was rain and claps of thunder. Relaxing a little, she leaned against the wall of the tomb. Due to the heavy armor, she couldn't sit comfortably without taking it off, but in a tomb, she was reluctant to do so. She was probably safe enough where she was, but taking unnecessary risks was not her style. If no one was paying her to raid a tomb, she wasn't going to do it. Like sailing over seas, disturbing the dead was a pastime that only a hefty bag of gold justified.

Boredom soon lulled her into a dormant state of awake – not asleep, but not fully alert either. A ghostly whisper in her ear startled her and she tore out of the tomb into the storm. She had no idea if it was actually a ghost that whispered or the figment of her imagination, but she wasn't going to stay to find out. Her heart pounded in her chest and she ran hard toward Seyda Neen.

She didn't stop until she was safely inside Arrille's Tradehouse. She was soaked to the skin, but so grateful to be among people again that she hardly noticed the scowl that the Dunmer woman talking with Arrille gave her. She stood there a moment, draining water off her helm into a potted plant and wiping her feet dry on the thick rug at the door. She took her time doing this, letting herself calm down from the fright.

She sighed as she walked up to Arrille who smiled at her. 'Why, Jan, it's good to see you again.'

'Hello, Arrille. How goes it?'

'Good, good. What can I get for you today?'

'An enchantment to chase away storms.'

Arrille chuckled. It was an old joke. Almost every time Jan had ever ventured to Arrille's it had rained.

She gave him her list. He read it off. 'I'll take care of this. Go on up and have a pint.'

'Thanks, Arrille.' At the bottom of the stairs hearty laughter greeted her as she walked up. Fargoth was serving a tray of filled plates to a group of pilgrims. Jan noticed two other Nords in the room, watching him, waiting for him to be done. She noticed the drunken mischievous gleam in their eyes and sighed.

Hrisskar, the bigger bloke of the two, reached to grab for Fargoth's collar after he served the last plate but Jan grabbed his wrist and bent it upward. 'Move out of a Lady's way you brute.'

'Jan! Aren't you a sight for sore eyes. Can I buy ye a drink?'

'No,' she said coldly. 'And leave my little buddy alone for once. He's working.'

'Aww come on, I'm just havin' a little fun.'

'It ain't fun for him and he's the one who sports the bruises of your fun.'

'He's just a wimp, we can toughen him up.' He and the other Nord looked at each other and laughed.

'Pick on someone your own size,' she sat down at the bar in front of Elone who served her a pint of greef.

'I can pick on you,' Hrisskar said in drunken softness, sitting down beside her and tried to put his arm around her. His breath reeked of mazte and for a moment, Jan almost wished she was back in that tomb.

'Hrisskar, get lost.' She shrugged his arm off of her.

'Aww come on, you're the closest thing to a lady any Nord has ever been.' He lowered his voice to a murmur. 'You won't regret it.'

'Ugh, get off me you drunken sod. I've met barbarians who were more appealing than you are.' She shoved him off his stool and he barely caught himself before sinking to the floor.

'You bitch!' he exclaimed, causing every voice to go silent and every head to turn toward them. 'How dare you insult me!'

'Easily,' she retorted. 'Now sit down and shut up.'

Anger clouded his better judgment, he stood up and grabbed one of her braids, pulling her to her feet. 'No woman is going to tell me what to do!'

She yowled in pain. Everyone at the table picked up their plates and backed themselves in the corner. As soon as Jan regained her balance, she cuffed him in the chin with a netch gloved fist. She then sank her fist into his gut. 'Want my spear to stab your nads next?' She grabbed him by the back of his neck and forced him to look at her. 'Get out and get out now. If you ever bother me or any other woman again, I will skewer you and hang you out for the cliff racers to eat.' She gave him a shove toward the stairs and he almost fell down them, more like sliding down them unsteadily and nearly crashing into the shelves at the base. Arrille none too gently escorted him out. As Jan sat back down and took another sip of her drink, she glanced over at Fargoth. 'Why don't you move to Balmora so you don't have to put up with that stupid cuss?'

Fargoth shrugged. 'My house is paid for and I can't afford Balmora.'

'You could always sell your house and buy another. It's not like there's a shortage of work there.'

Fargoth shrugged. 'I've been to Balmora once. I hated it. Hrisskar probably won't be here forever anyway. He'll get transferred sooner or later. I heard that he's been in trouble with the Captain twice already.'

'It's your arse, little buddy. I just think you could do better elsewhere.'

He shrugged. 'Maybe someday.'

Arrille appeared and stood by the bar beside her. He chuckled. 'I should hire you as a bouncer.'

'He's your only problem customer. I'd be bored out of my wits.'

Arrille's chuckle turned to a laugh. 'Ha...word got around I had a female bouncer, men from miles around would be coming here to check you out. I'd make a fortune. You'd be fighting them off every night.'

Fargoth looked at her. 'He is right. You are awful pretty...for a Nord.'

Jan rolled her eyes. 'You blow me away with your compliments.'

'Wow, I didn't know any Nord knew a three-syllable word.'

Jan lifted her arm to swat him but he laughed and dodged out of her reach. 'Smart aleck. I might skewer you instead.'

'Nah, you wouldn't. You pretend to be all strong and tough, but you're a kitten at heart.'

Jan snorted. 'You tell that to the cliff racers I chopped in three on the way here.'

'Everyone knows that the only good cliff racer is a dead cliff racer.'

Jan shrugged. 'They're good target practice.'

'So are mudcrabs,' Fargoth pointed out. 'And even I can kill those before they extend a claw at me.'

Jan gave him a look. 'Don't you have anything better to do than pester me?'

'Nope,' he grinned cheekily. 'I live to pester you.'

'You may not have much life left if you don't get back to work,' Arrille mock threatened. 'I don't pay you to flap your jaws.'

'Aww, you love me and you know it,' he joked as he grabbed the basket to collect the dirty dishes.

'You got my supplies, Arrille?'

'Almost. I'm waiting for Walks-in-Woods to deliver the wood.'

Jan nodded. 'Then I may as well eat while I wait. Fargoth, see if you can cook me something halfway decent. Don't burn it.'

'I'll cook it,' Elone grinned. 'I was about to fix my own anyway.'

'So where have you been scouting lately, Elone?'

'West Gash. Went out there to meet an old friend.'

'Guar herders out there still having trouble with bandits? I was in Ald-ruhn week before last and heard there were problems.'

'Nah, I heard some hot shot adventurer left their entrails out for the critters.'

'Gee, I wonder who that was.' Jan let a grin play at her lips, but only just.

'Probably some questing hero looking for glory. I doubt killing two-bit bandits will grant it.'

'I heard those bits add up quick.'

'Not that a water-logged hermit like you would know the difference. I'm surprised that hovel you live in hasn't sank into the swamp yet.'

'That hovel is made of heavy stone. It ain't sinking into any old swamp yet.'

Elone chuckled. 'I'm heading to Gnaar Mok in a couple of days to investigate another ring. Mind if hole up with you for a night on the way there and on the way back?'

'Nah, you'd be glad welcome. Just put out the fire before you leave if I'm not there.'

'Thanks, comrade. I'll even bring you a present.'

Jan chuckled. 'if you put another scrib under my bed I will hang you up in the rafters.'

Elone laughed. 'That was a good joke.'

'Some joke. It was so scared it tried to paralyze me when I went to pick it up to put it out.'

Elone laughed harder. 'Next time I'll bring a kwama forager.'

'You'd best not. It'll take forever to get that stench out if you do.'

'What do you care? You're a Nord.'

Jan scowled. 'I'm a Nord that was required to take baths as a child. I can smell the difference.'

Elone laughed and held up her hands. 'Ok, ok, you win. No kwama foragers.' Elone started cooking. 'It was still a good joke.'

'I'll get you back one day when you least expect it, Redguard.'

'So you say, so you say.'

An hour later, Jan had her heavy pack of supplies across her back and she traded out her spear for a mace since it would be easier to wield with the heavy load she had. The rain had stopped and the journey home was less trying except for the squishing sound her boots made in the soft, muddy ground. She had less interruptions by creatures as she went, only seeing one cliff racer, a mudcrab, a scrib and a dreugh. She left the dreugh alone as she had no business venturing into the water with such a heavy pack anyway. She also did not like fighting the creatures. Fighting them was like fighting mudcrabs hyped up on skooma. Unpredictable, dangerous and painful.

It was dark by the time she reached home. A light rain fell over the swamp where she made her home. In the distance she could see the outside lanterns from the Racer's Roost tavern in Hla Oad. The proprietor of the place made sure it was well lit so that the patrons could find their way there and so their spouses could see to drag them out. Jan was glad she lived far enough away to not be disturbed by the noise or its patrons.

She shed her armor and changed into dry clothes before building the fire up to chase out the chill that had set in during the day. She put a kettle of water over the fire to heat and then set the used weapons on the work table to repair. After repairing, she took out the polish and shined them, also shining the silver longsword set on the weapon rack above her worktable. She would need that for when she and Elone went to Gnaar Mok.

Another smuggler ring, she thought. What was it this time? Dwemer artifacts? Skooma? Raw ebony? Would smuggling always be such a problem?

~ ** ~

She spent the following day hunting meats and preserving them so she and Elone could eat on their journey. They worked well together: Jan supplied the shelter and food, Elone supplied her with armorer's hammers and work.

Elone arrived late the following afternoon. It had been relatively dry that day for the Bitter Coast, but Elone had a bloody cheek and was in a foul mood. 'Damn cliff racer struck me in the face.' With Jan's assistance, they treated the wound and Elone shrugged out of her armor. 'I'm glad to finally get here. I've had enough traveling for a day.'

'What took you so long to get here?'

'I had to go to Balmora first to talk to the old man.' Elone looked troubled. 'I'll tell you about our mission later. Right now, I'm starved.'

'You said it was another ring.' Jan glanced at her. 'But it seems that there's more than that?'

Elone sighed. 'Yes, it's more than that. The truth is we're not sure what it is.'

Jan stirred a pot of something and glanced curiously at her friend. 'What do you mean?'

'It's suspected smuggling, but from what I saw, it might be something darker. When you were in Ald-ruhn, did you hear anything about red statues?'

Jan grimaced. 'Yes. Several people mentioned them. I haven't actually seen one, but I've heard talk.'

'I've seen one,' Elone responded quietly.

Jan stopped and looked at her. 'And?' she prompted.

'I have some with me, but I stored them away from here. We'll have to backtrack to get them, but when I had them on me, I felt like they were pulling me onward. It was all I could do to resist the compulsion to keep going without you. They almost seem to have some strange power about them.'

Jan's eyes grew wide. 'You were wise to set them down.'

Elone nodded. 'Frankly, I was scared. I don't think Caius knew what kind of power they had. He didn't seem the least bit affected by them when he gave them to me. Perhaps his skooma addiction has dulled his senses to the point where he couldn't feel it.

'That's possible,' Jan said slowly. 'I take it our mission is to see where these statues lead us?'

'Partly,' Elone confirmed. 'That seems to be what the statues want, as creepy as that sounds. 'But there's a rumor of a smuggler's vessel that is transporting them. We're supposed to check it out.'

'There's a ship that often ports not far from Hla Oad. I bet that's it. The rest of the ships that sail around here are fishing dories. Much too small for a smuggler operation.'

'If it's the Camonna Tong smuggling, no vessel is too small, but we'll check out the one you're talking about first. Food ready yet?'

'Almost.' Jan tasted the stew, nodded and scooped it up in large bowls, handing one to Elone. 'This should stick to your ribs.'

'Smells good. Should I ask what it is?'

Jan grinned. 'Eat first, then I'll tell you.'

'That's truly frightening,' she grinned and dug in. After a moment she glanced up at Jan with a raised eyebrow. 'Well, you've made worse slop than this.'

'Slop is it? I could let you starve.'

'Nonsense. If you did that, who would save your hide in a fight?'

The two women laughed. During a pause, Jan looked over at the Redguard woman and smiled a little. I'm glad she and I are friends.

As the evening wore on, Elone got fidgety. 'I want to leave first thing in the morning, before sunrise. We'll have to backtrack to get those statues. I really wish we didn't have to do this. Those statues give me the creeps. I want them gone.'

'Relax, Elone. I've got your back.'

Elone nodded, but she still seemed agitated, which was unlike her. Jan set about brewing up a drink and gave it to her. 'Here, this might calm your nerves so you can sleep.'

'I am tired,' Elone admitted. 'I rested for an hour along the way, but I was too agitated to relax. I had a disturbing dream, but I can't remember it now.'

'Well here's hoping this will put you in a good sleep so you won't dream.'

'Thanks.' Elone sipped at the tea until it was gone. She yawned and stretched. 'Yes, let's get some sleep. Who knows what's in store for us tomorrow.'

Jan nodded, feeling a bit weary herself. They descended into the lower level of her house. Jan built up the fire in the fireplace as it had burned down some, but the room still had a faint chill about it. It made it good for sleeping, but not so cold as to be uncomfortable. Both women changed into sleeping robes and got into the king sized bed Jan had built herself. The two women didn't mind sharing the bed, but they really had no choice. There was nowhere else for Elone to sleep.

The tea that Jan had brewed worked its magic and Elone slept deeply. Jan, who could sleep anywhere at anytime also fell asleep quickly. It seemed like Jan had only been asleep a moment when Elone shook her awake.

'Come on. I've already built up the fire. Let's eat and get going.'

Jan rubbed her eyes blearily and got up. 'Morning already?'

'Yes. Come on, I really want to get going on this and get it over with.'

Jan stretched and stood up, quickly dressed. She scattered the coals of the fire so they would burn out and climbed the ladder up to the main level. Elone had already put together a hearty breakfast and Jan packed the foodstuffs while she did. There was little need for words, both women had done this countless times before.

'I left the statues at that shipwreck that's not far from here. Once we get them, we can be on our way.'

Jan grimaced a little but nodded. 'Anything we need to be wary of there?'

'Nah, there were a few crates, the remains of a corpse long since decayed. It's just a skeleton now.'

Jan nodded, relieved to know there were no ghosts haunting it. Elone quickly washed up the dishes while Jan donned her heavy armor. Since Jan was the stronger of the pair, she would carry the supplies, and she was also the distraction so Elone could use her bow.

They sun rose above the horizon just as they arrived at the shipwreck. As they got closer, Jan felt icy chills tingle her spine and she unsheathed her mace and held her shield protectively in front of her. She looked around but saw no one. Elone seemed to feel the change as well and she readied her sword.

'It's the statues,' Elone spoke low so that only Jan could hear her. It's the same feeling I had all day yesterday.

Jan nodded and she went first down into the cabin of the ship and quickly looked around. The place was deserted of anything unfriendly except standing water. 'Where are they?' she asked.

'Lower level. I thought if I put them down there, it'd discourage anyone else from finding them.'

Jan shivered as she stepped into the cold water at the other end of the ship. She took a deep breath and held it as she pulled open the trap door and went down into the lower level. Fortunately, the water was shallow and she was tall so it was only a matter of seconds before she stood upright.

Nothing unfriendly down here either, but the cold sense of evil was stronger here, more pervasive. She looked at the bony remains of the corpse. 'Damn, that's been here forever.'

'Aye. I don't see any visible sign of how he died though. Whatever wounds he had must've rotted with his flesh.'

Jan nodded. 'Let's see these statues, though I'm not sure I want to.'

It was too dark to see in the lower level, but Elone took a small cloth bag out of a crate. They quickly exited the ship and back out into the daylight. Up on deck, Elone opened the sack and Jan peered in. Ice talons prickled her spine as she gazed up on the creepy red statues that seemed to almost have a glow of their own.

'Those statues are infused with some kind of power,' Jan said softly. 'I can feel it. These are cursed. Let's let them lead us. As soon as we find where these things draw their power from, we drop the bag and leave.'

'I hope it's as easy as that.'

'Want me to carry them?' Jan offered.

'No,' Elone said. 'I need to see this mission through to completion. I'm not a coward.'

'Your bravery was never in question. It's just that I'm less susceptible to this kind of thing because I grew up learning how to resist this type of magic.'

'Oh really?'

'My mother was a wise woman,' was all Jan said.

Elone was still reluctant to give them up so they retraced their steps and made their way to the dock that Jan had mentioned the previous night. There was no ship in sight so the women moved on to Hla Oad where they took the ship to Gnaar Mok. The shipmaster was in a grumpy mood the entire journey, and Jan attributed it to the sense of evil she felt from the statues. For once, she did not take the rudeness personally. Normally, she traveled on foot anywhere she needed to go, but in the interest of getting rid of these things as quickly as possible, they sailed instead.

Once oriented on the docks of Gnaar Mok, Elone started walking northward, at times veering westerly. Once they'd left the town behind them, Jan spoke. 'Where are you going?'

'I don't know. I feel compelled to go this way.'

As they walked, Jan felt an eeriness. The creatures seemed to disappear. They would run the opposite way when they were spotted. Instead of attacking, they seemed afraid. Elone watched the speed at which a nix hound ran off and grimaced. It wasn't like them to not attack. Elone seemed to notice it too, but neither spoke. Elone's pace quickened and Jan's with her. They just wanted to be rid of the evil she carried.

After an hour of walking, they stopped near a cave. 'The statues want me to go inside. Jan, I don't want to. What's in there?'

Jan adjusted her grip on her weapon. 'There's only one way to find out.'

'Aren't you scared?'

'I'm uneasy, but I don't get scared unless there's something to be scared of. I expect a fight when we go in there. I'll go first.'

That seemed to comfort Elone a little. She held the bag of statues in one hand and her weapon in the other.

'Let's just go in, drop the bag and leave,' Jan suggested. This is obviously the destination.'

Elone nodded. Taking a deep breath since neither knew what to expect, they stepped in the cave.

It was dark. As they hesitated a moment to let their eyes adjust, Elone whispered to Jan. 'The statutes are compelling me to walk in further.'

'Not yet,' Jan held her back. 'I can't see.'

That problem was solved for both of them as a ball of lightning lit up the entire cave and a strange creature with a tentacle where the face should be was illuminated for a few seconds. The shock ball went their way.

'Holy guar shit!' Jan yelled upon seeing that face. 'Drop the bag, move move move!'

For a split second, they seemed frozen. The creature moved toward them and they heard a growl as a disfigured man type creature moved with him toward them.

'Corprus!' Elone yelled, her eyes growing wide.

'Move move move!' Jan yelled again. 'Drop that bag!'

Flight won over fight and Jan pushed Elone through the door and took a lightning bolt in the shoulder as she nearly tripped over the base of the doorframe in her haste to escape. She screamed in pain.


'I'm fine,' she yelled through gritted teeth. 'Run!'

She slammed the door of the cavern shut and both women ran toward Gnaar Mok. As soon as they reached the dock, they jumped on the boat and threw some coins at the shipmaster. 'Go go go!'

The shipmaster, seeing more gold than the trip was worth, set out at a surprising pace. 'Hla Oad,' Jan managed to say, though pain shot through her body.

'What is wrong with you two?'

'Don't ask, just sail fast!' Elone snapped. 'Jan, you ok?'

'I've been better.' She drank a healing potion. 'Better I took that bolt than you or I'd have had to carry you.'

Elone grimaced. Neither spoke during the trip as they did not want to scare the shipmaster. Once out of Hla Oad, Elone headed for the hills. 'Let's go see the old man. We have to tell him about what he sent us into. I'll kill him myself, I swear to the Nine.'

'No, you won't. But he does need to know.'

Anxious to work off the terror heating their blood, both women ran like hell to Balmora from the Odai Plateau, not resting until they burst into Caius Cosades house, about scaring him out of his wits.

'What the hell?' he exclaimed as both women collapsed from exhaustion.

They had barely got their breath when they both started talking at once. Caius just looked back and forth at them stupidly. Finally, he shook his head and held up his arms. 'Wait, wait, wait! I can't make out anything you're saying. Sit down, both of you.' They obeyed. He sat down with them. 'Now, start over, one at a time. What are you blabbering about?'

Elone relayed what had happened. Caius listened in rapt silence. Jan took over the story once they had reached the cave since she was the one who saw the creature first.

Caius got up and paced his small apartment. 'This is bad. Are you two all right?'

'I could kill you for sending us into that. We could've been fried.' Elone spit.

'Ladies, I'm sorry. I had no idea what to expect. I didn't even know there was a cavern there. I expected you to question the locals, not go exploring on your own. The statues did not have that effect on me.'

'Well they did on me,' Elone muttered. 'I'm glad I didn't go alone.'

'Me too,' Caius said. 'Did that...thing...hit you?'

'No, we moved faster than it did, though it cast lightning at us. It kept us at range. The corprus monster was heading toward us. It did mean to hit us, if not eat us.'

All three shuddered. They'd heard enough about corprus to know that the words were probably not far from the truth.

'You two stay away from those statues and that cavern.'

'I'm not ever going back.' Elone snapped.

'Someone will have to, but not you two. This will require someone more powerful than all of us put together.' He thought for a moment. 'Take a few days off and recover your wits. I can see you're both pretty shook up, which makes you useless right now.

'Jan, go see Tyermaillin and make sure you're not permanently damaged. Elone, go back to scouting the West Gash for a while, when you're ready.'

He sank into the chair. 'I'll have to think on what you've told me. I'm still not sure if you two were brave or stupid.'

'We survived so it's bravery. It's only stupid if you die.'

Caius found it in him to laugh despite the grave news. 'I love your black and white approach to everything, Jan.'

'Plenty in this world is gray so whenever something can be black and white, I trust it. Simple is best.'

'Usually, yes. Now, go on. Elone, stay here for a few minutes. I want to get more details.'

Jan knew she'd been dismissed. She went down to Tyermaillin's house. He inspected her shoulder where the lightning bolt had struck, but the potion had healed her. He couldn't see anything wrong.

'You should wear pauldrons, Jan,' he said, not unkindly. You leave your arms too vulnerable.'

'Yeah, I know, but most are too big.'

'Get yourself some Imperial steel ones. They're not so bad, as pauldrons go, if you can find any.'

'I'll keep my eyes open. Thanks, Tyermaillin.'

'Take care, Jan.'

Elone was heading down the street toward her as Jan stepped out of Tyermaillin's house. They fell into step together and left town, heading south back to the Odai Plateau.

'I'm exhausted,' Elone said.

'I'm starving.' They stopped and Jan set her pack down to get out some scrib jerky to chew on. That would hold them until they got a meal prepared.

'I'll stay with you tonight and head back to Seyda Neen tomorrow. I don't know about you, but I'm sleeping in.'

Jan chuckled. 'Sounds like a fine idea, but I'll probably be up before the sun anyway. I will take it easy tomorrow though. The ability to resist lightning doesn't mean it feels good.'

Jan smiled when they reached the Bitter Coast. 'Ah, it's good to be in home territory.'

'Back to your swamp. Hopefully your house is still standing.'

'It'll be fine. I learned a few tricks about waterproofing from my ma.'

'Need that around here.'

It was dusk when they reached her house. Both women washed the grime off their armor at the coast and lay it out on the floor near the fire to dry. Jan set out three huge pots of water to heat for baths – both needed it and the two women washed thoroughly. After dumping the bath water out in the swamp did she set about preparing a meal. Elone watched her add meat and vegetables. 'I could about eat them raw.'

Jan chuckled. 'They'll taste better cooked. It won't be long. Go lay down. I'll call you when it's ready.'

'Nah, if I do that, I won't wake up to eat.'

'Are you alright?' Jan studied her friend. 'You still seem agitated.'

'Just seeing that...thing. I've never seen anything like it.'

'I don't know what it was either. But try not to think about it. The door is locked. We should be safe here.'

'I know, but that was disturbing.'

'You did drop the bag, didn't you?'

'Yes,' Elone confirmed. I dropped it while we were in the cavern. It was the first thing I did.'

'Good. Then try not to worry. I'll fix us both some of that tea tonight so we can sleep without dreaming.'

'Good idea.'

It was late before either woman felt ready to sleep. Both lay there staring up the ceiling. Elone seemed to have trouble getting comfortable and she tossed and turned. Finally, she sighed. 'You still awake?'


'Right now is one of those moments I wish I had a man.'

Jan chuckled. 'Aye, when you see your life flash before your eyes, you want a man to confirm you're alive.'


'You got a man, Jan?'

'Nay,' she said, slipping in her Nordic accent. 'Hrisskar has been trying forever to get me in bed, but I don't like 'im.'

'Neither do I.'

'What about you?'

'Yes,' Elone said. 'You know Wayn at the Balmora Fighters' Guild?'

'Aye. I've met him a couple times.'

'He and I have been seeing each other for a while. We've talked on and off about him buying a house in Seyda Neen and moving there so he can be close to me. Because of my Blades' work, I can't move to Balmora.'


'But you know Randar? The armorer in Seyda Neen? Wayn has talked to him once or twice about trading places. Wayn would be the armorer in Seyda Neen and Randar would take over his trade at the Fighters Guild. Randar is certainly good enough for the Fighters Guild.'

'Aye. Randar is quiet, but he's not a bad bloke.'

Elone yawned. 'Maybe I should've stayed with Wayn in Balmora tonight instead. The ship comes to port tomorrow afternoon though. I wanted to be there for it.'

'Usually, when I'm craving a man, I just take care of it myself,' Jan said into the darkness. 'I can go upstairs if you want to do that. I don't mind.'

'It would help,' Elone admitted.

Jan swung her legs out of the bed and put on another, thicker robe. She climbed the ladder up to the main room and let the trap door shut behind her. She built the fire back up, letting the heat warm her face. She yawned heavily and hoped Elone wouldn't be long. She understood the needs of a body well enough, finding her own needs frustrating at times, but right now, she just wanted to sleep.

Half an hour later she decided she'd waited long enough. Tentatively, she opened the trap door and listened. She heard the sound of soft snoring that told her Elone had fallen asleep. She yawned again, letting herself in and climbed back into bed. Elone shifted slightly when Jan got in, but she didn't wake up.

Her last conscious thought before sleep claimed her was that maybe Elone and Wayn would let her build them some furniture for their new home when they got it.

When she awoke Elone was already awake and had breakfast started. When Jan came upstairs, Elone smiled a little uncertainly at her. 'I'm sorry I didn't let you know when I was done last night. I fell right to sleep.'

Jan chuckled. 'Don't worry about it. I didn't wait that long.'

'Good. You feeling all right?'

'Yeah, I'm fine.'

'I'm going to head back to Seyda Neen after breakfast.'

Jan nodded. 'I'll probably build something today.'

'After yesterday I'm going to start to push for that house Wayn and I discussed. If you want to start building small furniture pieces for it, I wouldn't mind.'

'I can do that,' Jan confirmed. 'I can always use the extra income.'

Elone smiled. 'When we get closer to the time we'll have the house ready, I'll let you know so you can start building the bed.'

Jan nodded. 'Good thing I bought a lot of wood the other day.'

Elone chuckled and the pair ironed out the details. Right before Elone left, she turned back to Jan. 'Caius has another mission to send me on, which he assures me is just run of the mill smugglers. When I've recovered from yesterday, you want to go with me?'

'Sure,' Jan grinned. 'Someone has to look after you.' She stuck her tongue out playfully at her friend.

'More like I have to keep you out of trouble,' Elone teased back. 'I'll be in touch.'

'Take care.'

Jan stood in the doorway, watching her friend as she headed toward Seyda Neen. Once Elone was out of sight, Jan went back inside and immediately went back to bed. She had not let on how sore her body was after the lightning strike the previous day. She hoped when she woke up she'd feel better and she could start the furniture. Then maybe she could save enough money to move out of the swamp she lived in. Time would tell.


Mods referenced:

Morrowind Crafting 2.1
Seyda Neen Armory
Racer's Roost
User avatar
Queen of Sarcasm
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:57 pm
Location: Balmora, usually

Return to Stories & Poetry

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest