söndag 6 augusti 2017

The Elder scrolls, Fanfic: The Season Unending, Book 1: Autumn of Anarchy, Chapter 3: Prying and suspicions

Previous Chapter

Actius was scouting ahead, he had a much easier time moving through the terrain than his elven traveling companion, and as such were constantly moving a few dozen yards ahead of him all the time. Which also saved him from the small talk. After last nights explanation of his past he was determined not to give the elf any more unnecessary information about himself than he absolutely needed. They had departed the farm they had stayd at over the night early in the morning, Actius had lamented having to leave most of the things he had found behind, but they needed to travel light and Fasendil had not concealed his disapproval of taking anything at all. That said once he had gotten rid of the elf Actius might get himself a pack animal and go over some of these places which the war had left empty, better the things were returned into the hands of the living than rust beside the dead. This farmhouse wasn't a big thing but there was probably plenty of loot to be found in Helgen. Then again would he need to resort to picking the bones of the war? The legate had promised him five hundred septims. That would keep him afloat for quite some time. Actius scaled the peak of the hill he had been climbing up and looked down on the valley on the other side. The  he stopped and waited for the legate to catch up.
"Why are you stopping" the legate asked when he got closer. Actius made  a motion with his head for the legate to come up and look. The legate climbed the few last steps and looked down.
"That is fort Neugard" Actius told him.
"Impressive fort, if in some disrepair" Actius looked at the fort. Perhaps the Legate was right, it was certainly more of a fort than Helgen had been. For was in a way a misnomer, because the word atleast to Actius always made him think of wooden structures, but this was more of a castle, built in the heavy sturdy grey granite that was so common in Skyrim. The entire thing lay on a small rocky cape, almost a cliff, jutting out into an alpine lake. The main keep was well on the cape but the outer wall extended beyond it, and went into a three quaters circle starting in the east, then south west, west and north west. The wall to the north west closest to the lake had collapsed however, it had probably slowly been pulled apart by ice from the lake over the course of many winters, and it had been replaced by wooden barricades. It was one of only three weakpoints in the structure, the other was the main gate to the west and then a place at the southern wall where the wall met a hill and the difference between ground level and top of the wall were somewhat lower.
"I guess" Actius said with a shrug.
"With the destruction of Helgen, this becomes the main strongpoint in these mountains" the legate thought aloud. "Perhaps even if Helgen still had existed, Helgen was more of a border trading town with a keep and some walls, this is a fort built for war"
"I'll take your word for it" Actius said with another shrug "A pile of rocks is a pile of rocks to me"
"Have you ever been inside?" The legate asked turning back to him, Actius pushed down a grunt of irritation.
"I don't trade with bandits" Actius said drily.
"Why not it's not like you're not on the same side of the law, poacher" The legate retorted.
"Yes it is!" Actius said indignantly. "Even if I admit to hunting game that does not belong to me, which I for the record don't"
"I've seen you do it, you shot that goat on someone else's land yesterday" the legate interjected, but Actius just ingored him and continued.
"I hunt, I don't kill people" He protested.
"I must have imagined the stormcloak boy you shot two days ago then"
"That was diffrent and you know it. I killed him in self defence" He paused. "Bandits kill for their own gain, murderers and rapists, not even the thieves guild want anything to do with their lot, it lcks the finesse they expect from their members" Actius fell quiet, he needed to learn to keep his mouth shut, the legate didn't seem to have noticed him admitting he knew the inner workings of the thieves guild though. Though you never knew. He decided to change the subject though. "That said I actually have been inside" The legate span around and looked at him.
"Really? But if you don't trade with them how..."
"I don't, but one of their patrols raided my camp one day when I was out hunting, I tracked them back here and sneaked in and took my stuff back, I even took some, shall we say interest in their loan" The legate opened his mouth "It's not like it's their stuff anyway" Actius interjected quickly.
"I'm sure you have a perfectly good rationalisation, that's not what I meant to ask about" the legate told him with a wry smile "I was going to ask how you managed to sneak into a heavily fortified and guarded bandit stronghold" Actuis shrugged.
"It's not as hard as it sounds, liek you said the fort is in some disrepair"
"So you went through the broken wall, one would have thought they'd guard it"
"Well obviously they do, that's why I didn't go that way, I climbed in on the bluff to the south, they have so many men watching the broken wall they forget to guard their other weakspots"
"That's still an impressive feat"
"Not so much climbing is essential in these parts, as for sneaking, can't be a hunter if you loudly blunder about and make noise" The legate wasn't listening though he was again regarding the fort like if it was a pusszle he was trying to figure out.
"Do you see the ruins on the far side of the lake" Actius asked and pointed to a point on the far side. the legate looked up at him startled.
"What? Oh" he looked where actius pointed "Yeah I see them why?"
"This afternoon we'll try Haemar's pass, if it's blocked, then that's where we need to go tomorrow, there's a tunnel under the mountains"
"If that is so why even bother with Haemar's pass?"
"Two reasons, first the tunnels aren't nearly as safe, secondly, the smugglers who we'll have to deal with if we use the tunnel don't work for free." The legate nodded, then seemed to realize something.
"This is your reason for wanting me dressed as a civlian isn't it?"
"The reasons I gave you earlier were valid points but yes it's part of why, if you win the war you're the law around here and the smugglers will not expose their secrets to you" Actius hesistated. "Unless they figure you for Thalmor at which point we'll have to fess up before they gut you and put you at the bottom of the lake, elves, especially high elves, aren't very popular around here."
"My only objection is that they gut the Thalmor before throwing them in the lake" the legate said with a wry smile. Actius laughed.
"have them try to swim with their armour on? Ha! you have a nasty sense of humor legate" Actius picked up his pack again "We should get going toward Haemar's pass"
"Who said I was joking" Fasendil muttered under his breath as he followed.

Three hours later they had mad camp behind a rocky outcrop on the far side of one of the mountains flanking the entrance to haemar's pass. Actius had left the legate to set up camp while he went scouting. When he returned the legate had jsut got  afire going. He looked up as Actius approched him and lifted an inquiring eyebrow. Actius ignored him sat down and grabbed a water bad a downed a few gulps. Then he turned to the imperial legionary.
"Bad news" he told him "the Stormcloaks have already entered the pass, our options are limited, we can use the smugglers route I mentioned earlier, or wait two to three days for the stormcloaks to clear the pass and follow them" Actius took another gulp of water.
"Wouldn't work, unless their commander is a total fool he'll leave some forces in each end of the pass, not enough to hold it against a dedicated attack but enough to rush through to the other side of the pass join with the soldiers there and hold the pass until reinforcements arrive" Actius nodded to this. The legate knew his things.
"Seems resonable, and unfortunately for us he's not a complete fool, I saw smoke rising from the orphan's rock valley halfway up the side of the pas on the other side. A septim says there are stormcloak scouts there" He informed the elf.
"Did they see you? If so they could come looking for us and see the smoke from our fire..." Actius couldnät help giving a barking laugh.
"I don't get seen unless I mean to be seen legate" he said with a grin. "No one will be spotting out campfire"
"You know being called no one really hurts my feelings" an amused voice said fro the slope above him, actuis jumped to his feet drew his bown and nocked an arrow in one move.
"Woah woah, keep your arrow in your quiver there archer boy, we're not looking for trouble" The person spekaing was a girl, standing on an outcrop a some dozen feet above them, she had short red hair and simple clothes, beside her stood three others like her, another woman and two men. Actius did not lower his bow, but neither did he draw it.
"Who are you and why did you sneak up on us?"
"We saw the smoke from your campfire and decided to see if the people there were friendly" the younger  of the two men explained. Actius didn't lower his bow. "We're refugees we came to Helgen to seek safesty"
"Some safety that turned out to be" the woman with the mocking voice said with a bitter smile.
"Actius!" the legate snapped behind him. "You're not going to shoot refugees, lower your bow" Actius threw a sceptic glance over his shoulder.
"If they are refugees, they claim to be yes but I could claim to be a member of the imperial blades for all that they have to show for it"
"And what? You'll murder them because they might be dangerous? You told me no less than a few hours ago that you didn't kill people" Actius sighed, the legate was right he was not sure he could shoot these people either way not unless they actually attacked him, he unnocked the arrow and lowered the bow.
"Just one thing" he said with a tight voice "Our fire can't be seen from the road, so if you are refugees why were you trotting in the harsh terrain of the montains?" he asked them when they approached. The young redheaded girl with the mocking voice gave him a grin.
"Same reason you were I imagine, because we don't enjoy the company of stormcloaks"
"Why..." Actius started
"Because you're reachmen?" the legate overrode him turned to the girl.
"Yupp" She sat down "As an altmer I think you cna emphatise"
"That's why you chose to approach us?" she laughed
"Not even close, most of your kind hate us for halfbloods, almost as much as the nords do, no we chose to approach you when we heard him call you legate, an imperial legate can't exactly be a thalmor can he? Plus an imperial legate wouldn't abandon citizens fleeing for their lives would he?" Actius groaned the girl was pretty enough but boy did she talk, we couldn't really decide if she was the leader or just liked talking more then the others, well considering how little they talked he had met few people who seemed to like it less than they did.
"We shall render you what aid we can" he heard Fasendil promise her, his eyes snapped to the elf, was he mad? The last thing they needed was more people when trying to move by the smugglers path. But he understood Fasendil well enough to know he wouldn't be persuaded otherwise, Actius sigghed again.
"If I may ask" he heard Fasendil ask "Has the civil war spread to the reach then? Last I heard Markarth was delcared for the empire and all holds around it were either that too neutral" She made to answer but  the other woman of the group spoke first, she was in her early by the looks of her, her fair skin contrasted with a  shock of pitch black hair. Then there was a man who looked about the same age with auburn hair and last a man only a few years older than the girl who talked a lot.
"The civil war started in the reach legate, we have been fighting Ulfric stormcloak for twenty years before you started"
"Not we" the redhaired girl protested "The Forsworn, not that most nords care about the diffrence" Fasendil nodded. Actius did to, he had heard about the conflict in the reach. One of the reasons he had prefered to stay away from the area as much as possible. "We let because it is not our fight"
"Tyvysoges" The other woman said with something odd in her voice. The younger woman looked at her.
"Eira" she said, after how she had talked earlier this shortness of word seemed strange, also Actius had no idea what it meant "My name is Eira, you should use that Aderyn" Ah.
"What does Tyvysoges mean?" He asked the two women looked at him, as if startled he was there.
"It's a nickname, one that she doesn't particularly like" the older woman said.
"But her name is Eira?" Again they looked uncomofrtable.
"Yes" Eira replied. then took a breath and  indicaed to her friends in turn, "This is Aderyn, she's married to Madoc" she indicated the older man "And older sister to my husband Cairan" she indicated at the younger of the two men. Actius and Fasendil introduced themselves too.
"You seem a bit to young to be married" Actius told her.
"Reachmen have mer blood in our vein, perhaps even more than even the Bretons, we age like they do, how old do you think I am?"
"I don't know, ninteen? twenty? maybee twentyone" she looked more like fifteen or sixteen but after what he just had been told he pushed those numbers up a bit.
"I'm twenty nine" she told him with a grin. Actius blinked. much older, almost a decade older than himself, almost twice as old as he would have guessed. Her grin went even wider as if she knew what he was thinking. "Don't worry archer I'll outlive you a by a century, at least"
"And yet our Altmer friend here will outlive you by more than twice as much Eira" the old man known as Madoc told her "And have probably already lived longer than you will ever live"
"Unlikely" Fasendil replied curtly "There is a war going on, I may not live to see the end of the year"
"True... for us too" Eira said with a sad smile "The gods have a sick sense of humour, they gave us long lifespans then made sure that most reachmen never reach fourty by letting us live in a place of constant war"
Actius didn't know what to respond to that and apparently neither did Fasendil.

The next morning they were walking back towards the ruins next to fort Neugard. Actius was treading along as best as he could, Eira was walking next to him and making conversation, or what apssed formakign conversation with her, which was more like monologouing, she had that uncanny ability to talk a lot but not really say anything, she spoke of the weather, how muchn she liked nature, how mcuh she liked walking in nature, then she started on marching songs, which led her to songs she had heard and bards and skalds she had heard perform, it seemed she had worked at a tavern at some point but with that as with all things whenever he tried to ask her anything about the reach she deflected it. Truth be told though she didn't just speak, she also pried a lot, she kept up a constant stream of seemingly innocuous questions, whatever subject she was on, did he like the weather, had he seen worse weather up here, had he walked this land for long, what was nature like where he came from (despite deflecting his own questions about the nature in the reach), did he know any good marching songs, what songs did he know in general and so on. Actius deflected them mostly with as short replies as he could. She had probably done well in a tavern, some men would have felt special by the attentions shown by this young pretty girl. Actius however had a long experience in not talking about his past and whenever he failed to catch on one of her hooks she just launched right into the next subject. Only once did she go quiet. Jokingly he called her Tyvysoges, she just stopped and looked blankly at him.
"Please don't" she said in a voice that was very different from her usual higher pitch. Oddly when she looked at him like that he could almost believe she was almost thirty years old. He looked over at Cairan and found the man glaring at him. Odd he didn't seem to mind when his wife had spent and hour talking his ear of, but now  there was rage in his eyes. Eira had started walking again and gotten back on the subject of songs.
"Actius! A word if you please" Fasendil called him, from be back of their little caravan, in the middle of Eria's list of the best skalds she had heard.
"Certainly" Actius said glad to have an excuse to get away from the girl who never stopped talking. He fell back and joined Fasendil. They both fell back a bit further to be out of earshot of the others.
"So what do you think of our new traveling compnions"
"Divines" Actius hissed "She never ever stops talking that one" Fasendil gave him a thin smile.
"You like it"
"No I don't she's prying" Fasendil's smile got wider, Actius made a grimace "It's been a long time since I talked to a woman, ok?"
"I wouldn't do anything anyway, she looks like she's fifteen, sounds like she's fifteen too"
"no she doesn't she looks young yes but some of the traits you think as looking young are elfin traits, large eyes high cheekbones, they'll never go away. Never mind that's not what I'm talking about anyway, not her, the other three"
"What about them?"
"You have noticed they're all, except for the girl, all armed?"
"Yes" Actius shrugged "There's a civil war on can't blame them"
"It's more than that, look how they walk" Actius looked "Not now when they aren't carrying their gear, at least the two older of them walk like trained fighters, like those blades belong in their belt, the young  man has some of that too"
"Your point being?"
"That they may be deserters rather than refugees"
"Then why did you let them come along?"
"I can't leave them here based on my suspicions alone"
"Yes you could, you could have left them here even if they were refugees, should have even, this is not a safe road we are travelling and the last thing we need is dead weight"
"You are an odd man Actius, you can't kill a person other than in self defence, even when that person is obviously bad but you'd leave the innocent to be murdered, robbed, or raped?"
Actius was going to reply but realized that they had caught up to the others who had stopped. It was fairly obvious they had heard the last part. The three older ones looked at him with anger and the girl Eira looked at him with that blank stare again.
Actius rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to say something snappy in return, but then as his eyes wandered upwards he saw something that made him react. The gleam of sunlight on steel. The steel of the head of a crossbow bolt in flight.
"Get down!" He roared leaping forward and attempting to pull Eira out of the bolt's way.

Eira had no time to react as suddenly the archer roared something and leapt towards her. She took a step away from him and then she felt so.ething collide with her shoulder with enough force to break bones and send her crashing to the ground. Pain threatened to overwhelm her but instinct took over, she curled herself up to make a smaller target  then reached around and felt. More pain. There was an arrow lodged in her shoulder. No wait. Not an arrow, a bolt. An arrow would have been better the bolt had almost completely lodged itself in her shoulder. She tried to get to her feet. There was sounds of battle around her, her friends might need her. But trying to get to her feet without use of one of her hands were far harder than she had ever imagined and every time she tried and failed, collapsing back to the ground, pain flooded her and she had to struggle once again to retain consciousness. Meanwhile she was left helpless while the sound of battle waxed waned and then faded around her. And all she could do was hope it really was fading and not just her perception of it that did.

"I think that's all of them." Actius said. There had certainly been something to Fasendil's opinion of their new traveling companions, they certainly knew how to fight. There had been a number of archers, well crossbowmen really, and a dozen or so fighters. If they had all been the refugees they seemed they would be dead. But they weren't.
"The question is" Fasendil said behind him. "Who were these men? Just random brigMds or were they looking for us?"
"Why would anyone be looking for us?" Madoc said, he had approached the two of them without Actius noticing. The ma  had taken sword slash to his right arm and it now hung more or less useless. It's would heal but it would need binding at the moment it started bleeding furiously every time he tried to use it.
"Probably brigands" Actius replied. "Ranging out from Neugard. It's just over that ridge" He said and pointed.
"Perhaps... But they seemed well coordinated and equipped for brigands" Fasendil noted. "Also why attack refugees when they could be kicking clean the ruins of Helgen?"
"They could be stormcloaks looking for the two of you Madoc suggested turning away from them towards Eira.
"How very convenient that would have been, making it all about us and none about you yet it was you they shot at first" Fasendil remarked in a voice to low for Madoc to hear. He had knelt next to Eira. Where Aderyn already sat. Fasendil continued in a more carrying voice "If these were stormcloaks they would have been almost half the men who escpaed Helgen. They wouldnt leave that many behind. And if they did they'd be holding the pass not going of in some random direction into the highlands." Madoc looked up at him.
"I don't know!" He snarled "You're the soldier legate, you tell me!" Actius shrugged Fasendil made things complicated brigands who weren't brigands refugees who weren't refugees. In his experience things were generally what they seemed and the things that weren't well you bothered with them when they bothered you.
"Like I said!" He said in a loud voice to quell the argument "Probably brigands from Neugard" Madoc nodded.
Though Actius thought, if Madoc had really been concerned that Actius and the legate were pulling danger down on him and his friends he very quickly accepted the brigands solution, unlike Fasendil who still looked utterly unconvinced. Actius went and got some water and cloth for bandages in his gear, he had thrown it when the battle began, and knelt before Eira he wetted the cloth to clean her wound.

"Don't touch me" she said coldly. Actius startled, he knew she was angry with him but this bordered on foolishness. That said it was her choice so he just shrugged and handed the water bag and the cloth to Aderyn who gave him a sceptical look but took them. Crazy reachmen. Actius thought as he stood.

Previous Chapter

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar