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  1. 5 points
    Modular Beautiful People 2ch-Edition (Unofficial English Translated Version) (This mod will be un-lore-friendly compilation pack of various cosmetic mods.) Previous BP 2ch-Ed (Latest version is 1.8.0 no English translation) became too big (281MB compressed, 1.3GB uncompressed lol), so I've decided to make Modular BP 2ch-Ed. It will consist of core and modules as I mentioned below. I aim to reduce the core file size to 600~700MB uncompressed or smaller and I also plan to provide English version. Please note, however, that I can't assure you that I will finish this project because I'm very busy IRL recently. =/ ***** Edit ***** There's a similar project and it already contains large variation of hairs and eyes and is obviously well-developed than mine. So I recommend using it, though I keep working on this project at a slow pase. =) - Cobl Readme - Cobl Races *** End Edit *** Well, here's a blueprint of Modular BP 2ch-Ed. * If you have any problem with this project, please feel free to let me know. Main Feature: -Esm & Esp Plugins Structure: You can easily create your own race, companion and npcs which use resources in Modular BP 2ch-Ed with TESCS loading Beautiful People 2ch-Ed.esm. -Core & Modules File Structure: You can choose and install your favorite modules. -Omod compressed modules with scripts to provide semi-automated installation. -Massive amount of eyes, hairs and races: In previous BP 2ch-Ed 1.8.0, 328 variation of hairs, 836 variation of eyes and 21+ races are included. -Custom Race Fix: You can safely begin MQ with custom races. -English Translation Additional Notes: 1. All hairs, eyes and races splitted into modules are Non-Playable in BP 2ch-Ed.esm itself. These're kind of tricky dummy data. 2. You have to install modules which contains data files and plugins to enable hairs, eyes and races splitted. 3. I'l provide a compatible patch with Beautiful People 2.7 which's size will be approximately 70~190MB uncompressed. Core (Full): - Races: Ainmhi, Carrier, Dremora, Elves of Lineage II, Horkew(Normal?Black?White), Human, Ice Elf, Lolita, LongEars Elf, Lycanthrope Elf, Mystic Dark Elf, Mystic Elf, Mystic High Elf, Orog, Robo Elf, Skyrim Khajiit, Tabaxi, Tang Mo, Wiera, White Tabaxi, Wolf Elf - Hairs: 2ch Hair, 2ch Legend Hair, 2ch Ren? Hair, AGS Hair, APPageBoy Hair, Babe Hair, Capucine Hair, Corean Hair, CTarg Hair, Bald, HS-Hair, Pr-ttyCure Hair, Ren's Hair, Saram Hair, Soya Hair - Eyes: Flonne's Ren Eye Recolored, Nequam Eye, Ren's Eye -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Total File Size 1.35GB (301.7MB compressed) Beta Testing! Core (Lite): - Races: Ainmhi, Carrier, Dremora, Elves of Lineage II, Horkew(Normal?Black?White), Human, Ice Elf, Lolita, LongEars Elf, Lycanthrope Elf, Mystic Dark Elf, Mystic Elf, Mystic High Elf, Orog, Robo Elf, Skyrim Khajiit, Tabaxi, Tang Mo, Wiera, White Tabaxi, Wolf Elf... - Hairs: 2ch Hair, 2ch Legend Hair, 2ch RenKai Hair, APPageBoy Hair, Capucine Hair, CTarg Hair, Bald, Ren's Hair, Soya Hair - Eyes: Nequam Eye as vanilla replacer, Ren's Eye -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Total File Size 542MB (135.5MB compressed) Beta Testing! Modules: /Misc/ - Compatible Patch with BP 2.7 to solve the issues due to the different file structures Beta Testing! /Hairs/ - AGS Hair Beta Testing! - BabeHair Beta Testing! - Corean Hair Beta Testing! - HS-Hair Beta Testing! - Pr-ttyCureHair Beta Testing! - Saram Hair Beta Testing! /Eyes/ - Flonne's Ren Eye Recolored Beta Testing! - NeqEyeAi~ (Ainmhi Nequam Eye) Beta Testing! - NeqEyeAr~ (Argonian Nequam Eye) Beta Testing! - NeqEyeD~ (Dark Elf Nequam Eye) Beta Testing! - NeqEyeH~ (Humanoid Nequam Eye) Beta Testing! - NeqEyeK~ (Khajiit Nequam Eye) Beta Testing! - NeqEyeO~ (Orc Nequam Eye) Beta Testing! /Races/ - Nec High Elf Remake Beta Testing! - Chocolate Elf Beta Testing! - Chingari and Ismelda Demon Race (due credit will be included before release.) WIP! - Cute Elves Beta Testing! - Asharas Sirens and Tritons (due credit will be included before release.) WIP! Module Type: - Hair Module Type1: Includes all files Beta Testing! - Hair Module Type2: Includes only mesh, no Egm files (This feature is still under consideration.) - Eye Type1: Includes all files Beta Testing! - Eye Type2: No glow-eye Beta Testing! - Eye Type3: No one-eyed (=single blind) Beta Testing! - Eye Type4: No glow-eye and one-eyed Beta Testing! English Translation: - 0% Completed WIP! Credits: **This list isn't completed yet and will be updated before release. If, by any chance, you're not listed and you should be listed, please PM me. I gave my full attention to this. But if you don't want your mod used in this compilation pack, I'm sorry to trouble you but please PM me. Special thanks to: * Bethesda Softworks * Acidoangel for Cute Elves * AGS for AGS Hairs * Ahiru for AhiruMouth (????) * APmod for APPageboy Hairs * Babe for Babe Hairs * BlueBack5150 for Horkew(Black)'s tail texture * Capucine for Capucine Hairs for Argonians and Khajiits * Comit for CTarg Hairs for Argonians * David Moyer for Orog * Flonne for Flonne's Ren Eye Recolours * Grimdeath & Syko Fox for Tang Mo * Gunman for 2ch Gunman Hairs * HISSSSA for HS-Hairs * idkrrr for Corean Hairs & Saram Hairs * Kikaimegami & Slig for Improved Playable Dremora * Kozaburo for original meshes and textures of Babe Hairs * KyneTarse for the Vampire Hunter's Sight and Khajiit Night Eye toggles script & Custom Race Fix * kz for various 2ch Hairs * Lejardo & Treetop Smoker for Human Races and Face Texture * Luchaire for Tabaxi Cat Races & White Tabaxi * Nec for Nec Elves * Nequam for Nequam Eyes & Ainmhi * MidnightVoyager for the inspiration of Beautiful People 2ch-Ed * Miss Onatopp for Elves of Lineage II * Ozmo for Ren's Eyes for BP-2ch * Ren, Daeger & Ranma-chan for Ren's Hairs and Eyes & Mystic Elves * SM for Sm Cassandra & HighKingHair & Pr-ttyCure Hairs and more * Soya for Soya 4 Hairs Pack * tad for Wiera Race * Theodic Marthil for Skyrim Khajiit * Trigger190 for Bald hairstyle * XiNAVRO for Chocolate Elves * BP 2ch-Ed Developers (Hakaishin, Henkyo, RR?vI4I8.Yi2I) * 2ch Modders & People BP 2ch-Ed's just a compilation pack of great mods. Thanks to all original mod authors. Special respect.
  2. 4 points

    Version v1.0 Beta

    5,574 downloads

    About WAC on TES Alliance: Currently Waalx is off in the real world crossing the globe and experiencing the grand adventure that is life! He managed to stop in to grant permission for his project to be hosted away from his forum which is now closed to new registrations so that WAC, in it's current unfinished state, could still be enjoyed by players. Somewhere down the traveled road, he may pop in to update the mod with the work he has stored on his PC, but until that time if and when, we will be hosting the beta version here with all the same documentation provided by Waalx himself. Currently, WAC may NOT be used as resource material. Waalx has stated his desire that any derivative works must require/be dependant on WAC. Anyone wishing to use resource material from WAC without dependancy, must contact Waalx and ask permission; no contact made means no permission. This is his latest statement on Resource use as of 26 Aug 2012
  3. 4 points
    Mod Cleaning FAQ Dirty mods! You probably hear this phrase a lot these days, particularly as TES4Edit and other such utilities have become all the rage, and compatibility is more important than ever. What does it all mean? What can you do to help clean up? The knowledge and tools are here and accessible to everyone, modders and mod-users alike! Q. What is a "clean mod"? A: A mod that isn't dirty, of course! ... Q. ...Well then, what's a "dirty mod"? A: A mod that contains any of the following: Records that are "identical to master", meaning something is marked as having been edited, but is in effect unchanged. Example: Modder moved a rock. Modder moved it back to exactly where it was before modder moved it. The CS has now flagged that rock as having been edited, but it is not any different than how modder found it!Deleted references. Modder found a rock, modder deleted the rock, and now it's gone. *poof* Edited vanilla base objects, when the intention was to change one instance of an object or create a new base object, and not change all instances of the original base objectWild edits, where a modder accidentally changed something, probably without ever realizing itUnrelated records; anything in the mod that has really nothing at all to do with the point of the mod, but was put there as a lark or test and not removed later (this one subject to debate)Any unintentional edit Q: Why does this stuff matter? A: We'll go point by point, respectively: Identical to master records - Let's say you're the modder who moved a rock, then put it back hoping nobody would notice. Then some other modder moves that rock on purpose for a different mod. Then a user installs both mods, and yours loads last - therefore defining that the rock is back in its original place. Now other modder's mod isn't working as intended! Sure, it's just a rock. But what if it's a big rock he had to move out of the way of something important? Or what if it's ten rocks, or twenty? You can't anticipate the scope of the consequences, really, because you never know what other modders are going to do. But it's rude to get in their way about it for no good reason by moving rocks all about and then putting them back all sneaky-like. Deleted references - So this time, there's a rock in your way, and you delete it. But what if other modder moves that rock somewhere else? One of two things, is what happens: the game CTD's when that cell is loaded as the engine tries to reconcile a rock being both present-but-moved and deleted, or the game crashes on exit (or "hangs" on exit, which is really just crashing and freezing instead of CTD). So deleting this rock is a bad idea. You'll have to find another way to handle it. Edited vanilla base objects - All you wanted was a barrel full of lockpicks, and now every barrel in Cyrodiil is full of lockpicks! Aaahh! Or you meant to make YOUR gate open when YOUR lever was pulled, not the lever in the dungeon containing the original lever whose script you borrowed! Eeep! Wild edits - All you meant to do was make the front yard of your house a little more level. Somehow, your cursor wandered away, and you clicked while the landscape editor was still open, and now there's a small crater half a Cyrodiilic mile from anything you meant to edit. Now anybody else who wants to work that land on purpose will create land tears for anybody who runs your mod and that guy's mod at the same time, and for no good reason! Unrelated records - Maybe while you were building your house mod, you forgot that you were also curious to see how Jensine rocked red hair. Well, now your house mod conflicts with any mod that edits Jensine, despite that the two (should) have nothing to do with each other. Any unintentional edit - Pretty much anytime you said "oops" but saved anyway, you made one of these. It happens! Q: How can I keep from making dirty edits? A: Pretty often, you can't. I used to reload my last plugin save because I moved a rock by accident. I didn't know what a dirty edit was then, or mod cleaning; but I saw the little asterisk in the title bar of the CS indicated the plugin had changed since the last save even after I used Undo to undo something, and that just seemed... funny. So okay, my cleanfreak is showing. But anyway, no matter how clean I thought my mods were, and no matter how careful I was while making them, I still found dirty edits later when I learned how to use TES4Edit. It's just not reasonable to mod that way. Sometimes you need to delete or move rocks to get them out of your way to build other things. Sometimes you make an "oops", and you don't want to lose forty minutes of hard work to it by reloading without saving. Sometimes you accidentally put a crater in the landscape in a spot so far away, you'd never think to look at it in-game. It happens. In these cases, all you can do is clean up after yourself. There are two exceptions: Unrelated edits, and edited vanilla base objects. Don't put stuff in your mods that doesn't belong in that mod, and you'll never have the first problem. For the second problem, duplicate the object first, THEN make your changes. Or if you forget to duplicate, click "yes" when you are asked to create a new form, and give your new thing an editorID that is completely unique to you and your mod. Now only YOUR barrel will be full of lockpicks. These two are completely in your control. However, if you do "oops" them, you can still clean them later. In regards to deleted references, you can also prevent those on the small-scale. If you only want to remove a few objects, check the "initially disabled" box on their edit boxes instead of deleting them, and/or drag the objects under the floor/land. This way if another modder moves them, there will be no crash. Things might not display optimally, such as if you disable a table another modder puts a planter on; but at least there will be no crash. In such cases, load order may solve the conflict alone, or a compatibility patch. If you want to remove lots of objects, just delete them, and use the automated cleaning steps described below to save time. Q: Okay, I get it. How do I clean mods? Yay! The first thing to do is to run the automated cleaner in TES4Edit. This will take care of "Identical to Master" records and "Deleted References". There is an excellent CS Wiki tutorial already posted on this. Go try it! Even if you've never used TES4Edit before, you'll be just fine with this guide. It is generally wise to use this automated cleaning process on all the mods in your load order unless a mod's documentation specifically says not to. You are taking responsibility for the cleanliness and compatibility of your mods, but not every modder will - and a lot of mods were made long before a cleaning tool was available, when the importance of cleaning wasn't widely known. The second thing to do is manual cleaning. DarkRider did an excellent job teaching us how to do this with TES4Gecko in Lesson #4 of the CS Basics tutorial right here at TESA! If you're a modder reading this, you've either taken the class already or should! For the mod users, skip down to Part III: Cleaning Your Mod. The steps for doing this in TES4Edit are very much like the steps to do it in TES4Gecko, and the cleaning guide above will have taught you the basics of TES4Edit you need to make the jump from one application to the other. I will simply add my usual process as an addendum: 1. Look at all the base objects (items, activators, scripts, statics, etc). Sort them by Editor ID, if you're in TES4Edit (you can't in TES4Gecko, as far as I know). If you've been using any kind of sensible naming convention, all your objects will now be grouped together because they will all have the same prefix. This makes it easy to spot if you have changed any vanilla base objects. If you changed any, was it the purpose of the mod to do so, or would it be better for you to go back and create a new base object with your customizations? 2. Look at the cells you edited, both under CELL (interiors) and WORLDSPACE (exteriors). Make sure you only edited vanilla cells that you really needed to for your mod to work, because every cell you touch is a cell another modder can't touch without creating a logical conflict with your mod. Not all conflicts are harmful, but don't risk it without purpose! 3. By going through all these steps, you will likely have found and conquered any remaining wild, unrelated, or otherwise unintentional edits, as well as any edited vanilla base objects. Save and playtest to be sure, though! You can try manually cleaning other peoples' mods this way if you like, but a lot of manual cleaning can only be done well if you really know the intention of the edits. So, tread carefully in that regard, and make sure to keep backups! This concludes my FAQ. Go clean stuff! Special thanks to Arthmoor for finding my crater behind Anvil and pointing me at TES4Edit.
  4. 3 points
    Ok, so I haven't done any quests yet, but I have ran around Vivec a bit so heres some pictures Vivec in the distance House Redoran and Hlaalu Cantons under construction The finished St. Olms, St. Delyn, High Fane, and Vivecs Palace buildings Streets of Vivec and some sexy ass Ordinator Armor The Palace and a look over Vvardenfell. Just for BT The Adamantine Tower off in the distance
  5. 3 points
    I like the second part of this, though I think that Colovians would have their style be a mix of Nordic and Roman. Them being southern Nords isn't any fun
  6. 3 points
    Boo! Give me my Nordic Colovians and crazy Ayleid/Akaviri/Greece hodgepodge Nibenese!
  7. 3 points
    There's tornados to the North and South of town, the sirens are going off and "softball size hail is on its way" and I'm at my sisters house like "Bish where this nader at?"
  8. 3 points
    I'm going to put my history major hat on here for a sec and try and explain this as best I can. There are a lot of reasons for the reverence of the South, but one major reason is the myth making and narrative shaping Confederate and Southern groups did after the war, from the mid to late nineteenth centuries and into the early twentieth centuries. There's a really good book about it called Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. A quote from that book lays it out pretty well: “In many ways, this is a story of how in American culture romance triumphed over reality, sentimental remembrance won over ideological memory.” Confederate groups, from veterans to widows to politicians, developed a sentimentalism toward the South. The North helped a lot in this, honestly, as there was a widespread reconciliation movement, as white Americans attempted to move past the Civil War. So you would have veterans from both sides attend events remembering the battles and trying to put their differences aside, basically talking about the 'nobility' and 'determination' of the combatants while ignoring slavery and ignoring African Americans. Race and slavery had been such a dividing force between the North and South so remembering that didn't suit the reconciliation they were going towards, and instead they left ideology behind so they could unite as Americans, which also fit well with the burgeoning American nationalism. Once Reconstruction ended and the Jim Crow laws were enacted, African-Americans were by and large disenfranchised and widely discriminated against. Another major reason was the "Lost Cause" mythos built up following the war. First it was focused on building up Robert E. Lee and talking about the war as a cause that could be defeated only by the overwhelming industrial might of the North, and that Southern resistance had been hard fought in spite of the odds. They also didn't stress the cause of slavery as much and instead focused on white supremacy, which they could keep fighting for by resisting Reconstruction, and through that they created a victory narrative in which they successfully fended off the North in allowing African-Americans to 'rule'. In the immediate aftermath they also created their own histories to combat what they saw as false Northern histories, forming groups and writing books from the Southern perspective. And they built statues and monument in the late 19th century and early twentieth century to local soldiers and people like Robert. E. Lee. When his statue was unveiled some in the North protested it, as they saw didn't like "liberal display of rebel flags" or the cult that had grown up around Lee, even in the North. Really, it has to do with the fact that people in the South continued to celebrate the South in ways that could deem the South's cause as more noble than it was and could ignore sticky issues like slavery while stressing things like white supremacy, which even many in the North agreed with because of the widespread racism. And they shifted towards talking and writing about the conflict as one of ideals about states rights vs. federalism. As the world wars passed and the Civil Rights movement kicked off, the flags and Confederacy became aspects of Southern heritage that white Southerners used to counteract the calls for integration and equality. Though they didn't advocate for slavery, they still clung to the white supremacy aspects that were trumpeted by the Confederacy. The Confederacy lost the Civil War but they won the battle over the memory of the Civil War. In this case, history was not written by the victors but by the losers. So now you have a fairly widespread belief that the Civil War was over states right and federalism, while ignoring that the state right they really cared about protecting was the right to own slaves. Basically, the reconciliation of the white Northerners and Southerners allowed the South to shape the narrative of the Civil War in a way that better reflected on them, and many people still buy into those ideas and the imagery associated with them.
  9. 3 points
    At the civil war lol I'd be embarrassed if my ancestors fought for the South, not the North. My southern pride ends at the confederacy and I have no love or respect for them or that flag. But then, I have a personal reason not to. Not much love for the North either. The emancipation proclamation ended slavery in Southern territories, and Lincoln had slaves so. I don't get people's love affair with him either. In regards to slavery anyway.
  10. 3 points
    I have an ancestor by the name of Mathew Leander Patton Sr. who fought with the 2nd Mississippi Infantry under General Lee at the 2nd Battle of Manasas, the Seven Days, and Gettysburg. He was shot in the left arm on the third day during Picketts Charge and went home. Had the bullet been a couple inches to the right I wouldn't be here. About 15 years after the war he moved somewhere in Northern Texas, I don't quite remember where, and then in the 1930's my family moved into Southwestern Oklahoma.
  11. 3 points
    Not those followers, the brainwashed beth drones and tumblrites, lol. Like literally, tragic backstory, and good intentions or not, he's literally behind Corpus, a magic plauge that kills thousands painfully, or transforms you into a monster.
  12. 3 points
    Valenwood, and maybe Elsweyr too, or at least a part of it is my guess, but I prefer Hammerfell.
  13. 3 points
    Also, I decided to combine two posts of mine since we're wrapping up and getting to the moot, rather than drag it out any longer. Which is why I haven't posted yet. Almost done though, but I don't wanna rush it. And, I work saturday and sunday this week, 12 hours each. So I'm kinda waiting till the next week where I have two guaranteed weekends back to back so I can do it right. A lot happens so bear with me.
  14. 3 points
  15. 3 points
    October, 2284 A train passed overhead. Its iron wheels rumbled over the tracks with a noise to rival thunder, delivering tremors that violently shook every light fixture in the warehouse below. Duane stood at the open window and watched the monstrosity pass them by. Loud as the beast was, it only moved a few miles per hour. They would be stuck listening to its racket for another twenty minutes, at least. Least it drowns out that fuckin' radio. A desperate man had to be able to count his blessings. Duane flicked his cigarette butt out the window and stuffed his hands inside the pockets of his coat to hide that they were still trembling. Even now two of the smugglers were watching him like hawks, while the third still struggled to shove the dead woman's body into a wooden crate. The big one with the shaved head said something to him, but the words were lost beneath the roaring of the train. Duane swallowed and cleared his throat. "What'd you say?" "I asked if you were ready to finish what we started." The man seemed strangely relaxed, his fingers drumming against the knife handle protruding from his belt. All his life, Duane had thought himself a hard man, a real badass from the streets of Junker Town who knew all the answers. What a damned idiot he had been. These people were killers. Real killers. The sort who could shove a blade into a woman's heart in one moment and kick back to a tune by the Ink Spots in the next. He was in over his head. Regardless, as Duane's brother liked to say, "When shit gets bad, don't stop to smell it." He was in the thick of this now, and the only way out was to see it through. "Yeah," he told the bald man, making sure to speak loudly enough to make himself heard. "I'm ready when you are." "We been ready," said the skinny girl with the red hair, "It's your slowpoke ass that ran to the fuckin' window." She glanced at her partner. "Look at this guy. He's chokin'. I reckon he ain't never seen someone killed." "I'm fine," Duane assured them. "It's like I said, I just needed a smoke." "This ain't a freakin' church. You can smoke inside." "Right." Duane nodded his head. "Well I also wanted some fresh air." "Course ya did. Come on now." The smugglers led him over to the stack of crates, each one ranging from the size of a briefcase to just large enough to contain a bent up human corpse. "Big Max had his eyes on you for four months," the girl said. "The folks you've been dealin' with these last two were his people's people. Now you get to deal with his people directly." "Not Max himself?" Duane frowned. "I was told-" "You were told that Max would sell you guns," the bald man said. He patted one of the crates. "Well here they are. What's it matter if he ain't here to hand them over?" "I guess... well, I suppose I'd just thought we'd be building somethin' of a partnership. I've got more cash. My boys and me are making it steady across the river. We want this to be an ongoing thing." "And it will be," the man promised. "Maybe someday you'll get to meet the big man, himself. Until then, you deal with us." "I doubt it, though," the woman said. "Chem peddlers ain't our usual market. And with this haul, you'n yours'll probably be running Junker Town by the end of the month. Won't have any need of us when the competition's been muscled out." "There's always competition." Those were the first words that Duane had said with genuine confidence all morning. As long as there were junkies, there would be people fighting over who got to sell them their high. "And, well..." Damnit man... You've done it now. Here goes nothing. "There's the Brotherhood of Steel." He saw it at once, the sudden change in the room's atmosphere. The smugglers shot each other a look, and for a moment the only sound in the warehouse came from the train up above. Duane didn't want them to mistake his meaning, so he quickly continued, "Word is they're bringing in an army. We may all want something to protect ourselves with before long." "You got beef with the Brotherhood?" the woman asked. Her tone of voice had changed drastically, as if every word was now a bullet being loaded. His answer to this question could very well be the difference between life or death. "Nah," Duane said, trying not to let his nervousness show. "But maybe I know some folks who do." The woman smiled. "Maybe we know some folks who do too." Holy shit! Duane could hardly believe this was happening. Is she for real?! The look on her face certainly said so. What in the fuckin'- SHIT! Every criminal in Wellstone knew the name 'Big Max', and every man, woman, and child knew that the Brotherhood's imminent arrival was a response to rebel cells cropping up in the city. But Duane might've been one of the only people stupid enough to theorize that they were one and the same. And now the woman's grin said all that needed to be said. "I-" he stammered, and then quickly composed himself. "I'd like to meet Big Max." "What's that?" The third smuggler, the one with the dead woman, had to holler over the train. It was a wonder he could even tell they were talking. "You say somethin' about Big Max?" "Shut up, Walter," the bald man barked. "And keep an eye on the doors. Shit just got serious. Anyone else comes in, do 'em like the last one." "Aye-aye, Boss." "Want me to tell him," the bald man said, turning his head to the girl, "or you?" "Tell me what?" Duane's heart was pounding. This had already gotten far beyond the simple operation he'd hoped for. He was on new ground now. He was dealing with rebels. The redhead shrugged and sat back in her chair. "Alright, Mr. William, here's the truth. This man next to me with the stupid grin, is Big Max." "He-" Duane lifted a finger, and then immediately dropped it again. "You-" "That's right," the bald man said, his 'stupid grin' spreading from ear to ear. "In the flesh. Now don't let it change things between us. Alright? Talk to me like you've been. I want to know about these 'folks' who 'may' have beef with the Brotherhood of Steel." Don't stop to smell the shit, Duane. Duane took a deep breath, opened his mouth, and proceeded to feed the rebels lie after bullshit lie, just as he had been doing all morning. Just as Wellstone Security had told him to. The plan had always been for him to gain the smugglers' trust until he could meet their leader, and then get a reward for his ID. Now though, Duane's little leap of faith based on a stupid-ass theory was going to make him a fuckin' hero! He just needed to play it cool. This was the last day he would have to be 'William'. "That's it," Duane finally said after a solid five minutes of spewing garbage. "That's what the Brotherhood's cost my 'friends'. And that's why I want a partnership. Guns will be needed. And not for rival chem dealers." "Huh," Big Max had listened attentively the entire time, never saying a word except to ask Duane to clarify on little details as he spoke. "You know, you're a terrible fuckin' liar." All at once, Duane felt his chest close around his heart like a clenching fist. "What? No, I ain't lying!" " 'Course you are. You've got like five tells. And you contradicted yourself twice in all that shit you just tried to sling at us. It obviously wasn't as well rehearsed as the crap about you dealing chems." "Hell, the chem stuff might even be true," said the redhead. And she was right, of course. He had only started working with the city less than a year ago. "We got a rat, Gil?" the one called Walter called from across the room, still having to shout to be heard. "Looks that way," she answered. "Either way, can't take chances with him now." "Damn." "I swear you've got it wrong!" Duane pleaded. "What contradictions are you even talking about?! I can-" "Look, you blew it, okay? He's all yours 'Max'." Gil said, stepping back. Big Max drew his knife. "Fuckin' wait!" Duane shouted, wishing that the train wasn't passing. No one outside would be able to hear him scream for help. "I swear, whatever you think, it's not-" The bald man took a step in his direction. "Oh screw this!" Duane drew his pistol then, and saw the alarm in each of the rebels' eyes right before he pulled the trigger. "Shit!" Gil's own hidden gun flashed out next, and before Duane fully understood what had happened, he was on the ground, staring up at the trembling light fixtures with a hole in his chest and the sound of a train in his ears. That sound eventually passed, and was replaced by swearing rebels and a faint tune by the Ink Spots. By the time the song ended, the man who'd called himself 'Big Max' was dead, and Duane Freeman would soon be joining him. Walter and Gil were gone, and the only voice left in the room belonged to Wellstone's most popular radio host, Ronald Layder. "How ya doing, Wellstone? It's twelve-o-clock and you know that means it's time for me to share some old world wisdom with the bunch of you -and trust me- this one's good. But first, some news: ... I'm sure by now all of you listeners know that in light of recent attacks in the Industrial and Market districts, the Brotherhood of Steel is sending troops to occupy our fair city. Well it turns out that these guys work even faster than we thought 'cause they're gonna be here tomorrow. Yep, you heard me right. The BoS is about to be in town. Is this good? Bad? Only time will tell.... Me personally, I just hope that the killing comes to an end... and that brings me back to that old world wisdom I promised you folks. It's an old quote I managed to dig up that I think everyone should perk their ears for. So Wellstone, Brotherhood, Rebels at large, y'all listen up 'cause it's a doozy. Before you go to war, you should know that war, well, war never changes.
  16. 3 points
    The Entrepreneur Crossroads District -The Garage Hey Wellstone. Ronald Layder here, hopefully not waking you from too good of a dream. Maybe you'll like this one from Johnny Mercer even better. The morning was cool, quiet, and still thick with fog. Even with the surge of newly arrived soldiers in town, it seemed that Wellstone still had its way of stealing moments of peace. Or maybe this was just a breath, quickly being taken in preparation of something awful soon to happen. Whatever the cause of the quiet, that part seemed inevitable. Josey's father had told him as much. "Someone's got to strike first," the old man had said the last time they'd spoken. It had been beside the train tracks just outside the city. "And hard. A first strike always should be hard. That's how you send a message to your enemies and everyone else." Well, it had gone something like that at least. And with some story from the war thrown in to boot. Josey couldn't remember the exact details, something about the Brotherhood's assault on a raider tribe that had aligned with the MLA. It had made sense at the time. So who's gonna act first? The Brotherhood? Dad? Some half-feral sewer ghoul with a bomb under his hat? Josey's money was on his dad. There wouldn't have been much point to that conversation if Gregory had no intention of striking first. He just wished he knew more about what was going on. The Brotherhood were everywhere, and if the man's speech on the radio rang even half true, their leader meant business. But where did that leave their opponents? The 'rebels' of this city? That was the question that frustrated him. Josey suspected that those mysterious bombers were having a hay-day cooking up some new scheme to recklessly blow stuff up, and his father was no doubt up to something with Tristan and Felix... but for his part, Josey didn't have a clue what he was and wasn't allowed to do. Their enemy had literally moved into their neighborhood, and all he had done so far was smile and offer the family's services. He looked around the old workshop now. They called it 'The Garage' like one of those Old World mechanic shops, though the biggest thing that had ever come in on wheels was a busted robot that some farmer had pulled in behind his brahmin. There were two parts to the building: the 'garage' that he stood in now, with its heaps of scrap metal, electronic parts, and tools all haphazardly swept to one side of the room or the other so that customers could approach the long counter at the back, and the upstairs housing unit that the siblings resided in with their mom. When Josey had come up with the idea for this place, he had intended for it to act as a cover. But lately, it seemed like the old men were out doing all the work while his business funded them. Last time they'd spoken, Gregory and Tristan had just returned from the Lost Lands, where they had met with a raider gang for some deal or other. The rest of the Thatch family had not even known he had left the area. Some rebels. Josey was proud of his business of course, but with the Brotherhood here, he was getting antsy. He wished he could go out and actually do something. That was his job, wasn't it? What Gregory had spent years preparing him for? He'd made friends and contacts all throughout the city, learned who leans in what direction, and how far. What was it all for if not this? Screw it, he decided. Josey went upstairs to grab his coat. On passing by his sister's room, he heard a movement through the cracked door. "Jos? Where ya goin'?" He sighed. Aly had always been the lightest sleeper. He moved to the crack and whispered, "Just takin' a walk. Tell Ma and Eli to go ahead and open up without me." A few moments passed without a reply. Josey was beginning to think that Aly had fallen back asleep, and then she softly answered, "'Kay." He doubted she would tell them. In fact, Josey would've bet money that his sister was snoring again by the time he made it back downstairs. But he didn't really care. Eli might've taken advantage of his absence to take the day off, but their mom certainly would not. They rarely needed his help running the place. The streets of the Crossroad District were mostly empty. The people around here didn't rise as early as the folks up in the Steel District, though he did pass the occasional scavengers and market servants whose jobs demanded getting up at the crack of dawn. And of course, there were the patrolling Brotherhood soldiers that would be around day and night. Josey kept his head down and his eyes forward, giving a slight nod as he passed them by. The patrolmen only stared at him in turn. Pricks. His walk took him up through his own neighborhood and into the Market District. Some of the buildings were just starting to turn on their lights, and Josey could make out tiny elevators moving up the skyscrapers to the west. Far ahead of him, a train whistle sounded, though the iron machine was too distant to see. The Market District was huge, and by the time Josey had reached the northern side of it, the morning fog was clear and the Wellstone's peaceful slumber had ended. Lights flashed atop billboards, smoke rose from the factories to the east, locals and travelers roamed the streets, and traders loudly called out to passers-by. "Freshly grown mutfruit! Guaranteed not to glow!" "Genuine prewar money! You can still see the faces of the old world gods!" "Are you scared'a 'manders? This ointment'll send 'em swimmin'!" Outside of the larger shops, this district's merchants sold whatever they could get their hands on. For most of them, it was something different every day, but rarely was it anything truly new. Anyone who had lived in the city for long knew better than to bother with them. The more established shops were more reliable and less likely to sell you mole rat piss and call it water. For Josey, their hollering was practically white noise. He reached the waterfront. It was alive with fishermen, dockhands, and warehouse workers. Amidst it all was a large wooden crab shack, painted white and with a big sign atop it that read: Salty Pincher. Come lunchtime, the restaurant would be busy as all get-out, but right now, getting in was easy enough. Josey made his way to the doors in the back, but was stopped by the serving woman, an attractive blonde who looked to be around his age. "You lookin' for a table in the back, Mister?" "No ma'am, I'm here to see Saul." She frowned, and though she tried to hide it, Josey could see the suspicion flicker in her expression. "Sorry, but Mr. Kinter don't come in 'til the afternoon." "I know he lives downstairs." He sighed. What was the damn passphrase? "The uh, the yellow lamp is still on. No, someone left it plugged in... My name is Josiah, tell him that. But people call me Josey." "Seriously?" She rolled her eyes. "How 'bout you grab a table? I'll take care of that problem right quick, then I'll bring you some breakfast." Josey watched her leave, silently kicking himself. 'people call me Josey'? Fuckin' smooth. He shook his head and found a seat in the back, knowing that soon either Saul would come out to greet him, or one of the man's bruisers would. He prayed that it was the former. Saul Kinter's lackeys weren't hired for their brains. A solid twenty minutes passed before Josey's prayers were answered. The middle aged business owner stepped into the dinning area wearing brown khakis and a collared navy shirt. His receding hair was swept over to the left side, and his girthy stomach stretched his clothes around the waist. The man peered around the room for a few seconds before he spotted Josey and came over to join him. When the man sat, Josey gave a courteous smile. Saul did not return it. "What are you doing here, kid?" His voice was course and raspy. Straight to it then? Fine. "I'm here for information." "This ain't a library. I sell catfish here." "Come on, Saul, there's no one here but us." Saul's frown dropped to a scowl. "That attitude'll get you caught one day, kid." He shook his head and lowered his voice. "I use a passphrase for a reason, ya know. And you waltzing in and just fuckin' guessing at it is how you're gonna get me caught, too. Have you seen what's going on lately?" "Of course I have. That's why I'm here. We haven't spoken in over a year, so I needed to find out where you stand now that they are here in force." "Where do you think I stand? It's where I always stood. I've already got ears all over the dock. Is that why you're here? You want me to tell you what they've been hearin'?" "It would be a good start," Josey admitted. Saul regarded him, then said, "Gregory didn't send you, did he? You came here on your own." Josey nodded. "He hasn't contacted me since the Brotherhood got here. I'm trying to-" "Be proactive?" Saul snorted. "Here I've been, waiting for a plan from the father, and instead I get the son, trying to get one from me. Look kid, I'm all for working with your family. But until Daddy comes to see me himself, I'd rather not get too close. You ain't professional enough." "Professional? This ain't a job Saul, it's a goal." "It's a partnership. And I only work with people that are careful. Your father's one. You though, shit you can't even remember a passphrase." "Can we drop it with the fuckin' passphrase?" Josey's fists clenched. "Gregory won't see you. There's no telling how long it'll be before he sees anyone. In the meantime, those of us in the city have got to start working together." Saul crossed his arms. "Alright smart guy. Work together to do what?" "Strike first," Josey said, quoting his father, "Striking first sends a message. People who hate the Brotherhood will be emboldened. People who support them will be frightened. The city needs to know that we're as serious as our enemies." For the first time, Josey saw a Saul's frown twitch, just a bit. "On that we're in agreement. I just don't know how comfortable I am with the prospect of coordinating with you lot without the man in charge." "Coordinating is the only way we stand a chance. Otherwise, it's only a matter of time before the Brotherhood begins stomping us out and people lose hope." He let his expression soften, just a bit. "Look, I know you think I'm young and brash, but you're wrong. You don't grow up in my family without learning how to be careful. Give me a chance and I'll prove it to you." The way Saul looked at him now, Josey could tell he was being measured. The older man finally relaxed. "Alright kid, one chance. What exactly do you want to know?" "Everything," Josey pressed. "News you've picked up, plans you've set, and where your people are so I can contact you without crossing the whole city." "I better not regret this." Saul proceeded to share much of the information his people had gathered. Apparently, one of the warehouses had been seized after a shooting, though whether it was rebels involved or just common criminals is unknown. The recent bombings were being investigated, of course, and apparently a black market dealer known for carrying explosives turned up dead just last night. "Did you know him?" Josey inquired. "No, not personally. But I know the kind of people he sold to. Lotsa folks down in South Union liked to buy from him because he had the kind of shit you can't normally get down there." "Like mininukes." "Yeah, like mininukes. 'Course, I never took the folks down there for rebels. Let alone the crazy kind, but what do I know? If you want to look into it yourself, find one of the wannabe gangsters living down there and get in touch with his boss." I may just do that. Josey nodded. "And your people? Is there anyone I can meet with in the Crossroads?" "No, but I've got a buddy at the south side of the Market, few blocks west of the radio station. I'll tell him to swing by that shop of yours once a week. Save you the trip." "I appreciate it." He meant it, of course, but a part of Josey wondered if Saul wasn't just sending his own man to the Garage because he thought they were more likely to be discreet about it. But he was not exactly in a position to call out one of his only allies on this. "If that's it, there's just one more thing I'd like to ask you." "Oh?" Saul's left eyebrow arched. "What is it?" "If it comes down to it, how many people can fit on your boats?" "About a dozen. Few more if they squeeze and sit still." He frowned. "But don't be expecting any rides for that many. I'll take a couple folks at a time if I need to, but if you really want my help, ask for food and rumors, maybe a strong arm or two, but not smuggling services. Got enough people around here willing to do that, you shouldn't need me." "Alright." Josey rose from his seat, "Thank you Saul, I mean it. You won't regret this." "I don't know about all that," the business owner grunted. "But I'll sleep easier, at least, knowing I'm on the right side." As Josey started for the door, Saul called out, "And if you see your dad, tell him to come find me." Josey nodded and left the building, once again taking in the fishy smell of the dockside. His return home was as long and uneventful as the walk north. He bought a crunchy mutfruit along the way, and had it gnawed down to the core by the time he reached the Crossroads District. He was still licking the delicious, hopefully nonirradiated juices off of his fingers when he approached the shop. The sign was flipped to SORRY WE'RE CLOSED, oddly enough. That wasn't the sort of thing his mom or brother would forget. Josey fixed that and walked into the shop, where he came to an immediate stop. His family were not behind the countertop. In their place stood Felix: His father's enforcer. "Josiah," the deep-voiced man rumbled. "It took you long enough. I've got a surprise from your father." "Surprise..?" Josey's voice trailed off. He had not seen Felix in over a year. He was always off doing God knows what. He approached the counter slowly, only just now noticing the small metal briefcase that rested on it. "What's... going on?" "We're about to get busy, that's what's going on." Felix clicked the latch on the briefcase and opened it, turning it so that Josey could get a good look. Inside it rested what looked like three bloody patches of skin with some hair, each one beside a holotag. His first thought was Holy shit! but Josey made an effort to remain composed, and matter-of-factly stated "You've been killing Brotherhood soldiers." "Just this one patrol, so far," the enforcer claimed. "They'll be reported missing by now. And they'll be the first of many." "I'm all for killing these guys, Felix, but y'all wouldn't be doing... this without a reason." "Correct." He closed the briefcase back up. "Your father has bigger things to worry about than taking out random soldiers one at a time. This is for your part of the plan." Finally! As fucked up as this was, Josey was glad to know that they were on some kind of track. "What is it?" "Have you been maintaining our contacts here in the city?" "That's exactly why I was out just now." "Good man. I need you to find the most committed of them, and use them to find the most bloodthirsty." "You mean like the crazies with the bombs?" "Exactly. Them, and worse. Believe me, there are plenty. I want you to make contact with them and show them what I've just shown you. Tell them that as of today, there is a bounty on the head of every Brotherhood soldier in the city. A buck for every holotape, double if you bring their scalp. The goal ain't to cripple them. It's to make them afraid. Make it so their patrols won't be so bold walking down these streets. They'll be alert, uneasy, and it'll show." Josey stood there for a long time, his only thought being: He's gone nuts! "That's... a great way to get ourselves killed. We can't tell that many people where to find us, and even if we did, we couldn't afford to pay them for going through with it." "We've got that covered. A friend of your father's is willing to fund this. We need you to establish a way for these hunters to collect without it being traced back to the family. And of course, to get the word out there in the first place." "I'm sure I can do that," Josey said, already thinking about the bombers down in South Union. "But then what? This is hardly a plan of action." "Baby steps," Felix said. "Your dad, uncle, and I know what it's like to be in the Brotherhood's position here. We know what it would take to ruin it. First thing we've gotta do is make the ones at the bottom afraid every time they go outside. This'll accomplish that with minimal risk to us. I promise, when we have more for you, we'll come. Will that be a problem?" "No," Josey answered, his eyes flickering back to the briefcase containing human scalps. "Not a problem at all."
  17. 3 points
    The guys wearing the Byzantine-Esque armor? That's a pretty weird coincidence. I mentioned them in a Dales post I was working on if. If you'd rather me not, i'll just change it to a random knightly Order.
  18. 3 points
    When do y'all think Ch. 3 will finally wrap up? And when do y'all think you will begin Ch. 4? I'm asking because now that I've dipped my toes into RPing with the Fallout RP, I'm ******* addicted and I'm think I will definitely join in once Ch. 4 takes off. I even have ideas for two characters I want to write.
  19. 3 points
    I like what you've done with Roscrean. I'm not sure we've seen that level of detail here in anything that's been written so far. But I would say that it's better to let things be fleshed out naturally, like Witch suggested, rather than do any info dumping. And one thing to remember is that every detail you create may not end up in the posts themselves. At least not for a while. There's some High Rock stuff that I created a long time ago that's just never come up because it would be forced. Although I'm not going to claim I'm an expert on world building. I know I've forced or info dumped in the past. But these roleplays are all a learning process, and a living story, so I would say just know that if you do make any mistakes, they're opportunities to learn from and grow as a writer/creator.
  20. 3 points
    Also, off this weekend, gonna work on finishing my post, should have it done.
  21. 3 points
    I'm just ridiculously excited to have a 3D map editor... I'm sort of an organic builder... I drag and drop to make things look the way I want and then I worry about lining up coordinates and such later on. I know some people who can see the grid and the math of it all in their head and build solely from xyz. Star Trek Online's Foundry has a flat (2D, top view only) grid map and in order to preview when building, you have to load the map (which you can't edit while previewing), then go back into the editor... plus if building multiple stories on a house or something, you are literally putting objects on top of objects and can't see what the heck you are doing. VERY frustrating. The CK is like a dream come true... .bugs and all! :-D OH! AND we can rotate and resize objects in CK! ALSO VERY AWESOME!!! Also, the HUGE fact that we can import new meshes and textures and aren't just stuck with having to somehow repurpose vanilla objects in a way that seems original.... yeah, kinda addicted. I was totally thinking about coming home and getting elbows deep in my mod all day today while I was at work! :-D
  22. 3 points
    Thief Late evening Forgotten Homes The twilight painted the night sky in beautiful colors as the sun withdrew for the day. Unfortunately for John he was too busy to really look or notice. All he cared about was picking this lock before the last of the light would make it nearly impossible to see what he was doing. At least the growing darkness also gave the added benefit of him also being hard to see. Just a little bit more, John thought as he could feel the last of the lock's gears slowly sliding into place. With a very satisfying click the lock yielded to his lockpick. John let out his breath that he hadn't even realized he'd been holding. With a careful turn of the handle and push the door slid open. Yet being of the shoddy quality that dominated the district of Forgotten Homes it of course had to creak and moan a bit despite the gentle opening. John chafed at the sound and stayed up for a second after the creaking had ended to listen for any footsteps from inside. He knew that the drug dealer that lived inside was gone, out on his evening rounds to sell. And John also knew the man lived alone, but guests was still something that did happen, even if John thought it unlikely for this fellow. With slow and careful steps John walked into what appeared to be the kitchen. He closed the door behind him, though not fully so it could get locked again. The kitchen was a mess. Half of was dirty from what John assumed was regular cooking and the other half was dirty from what John recognized as half a chem lab. It was too small and too under equipped to be a real drug lab so John figured it was only used by the drug dealer to dilute the chems before selling them. Not an uncommon practice in Forgotten Homes. Yet to John's luck the stash of chems was nowhere to be seen. As fast as he could without making too much of a sound he began to open cabinets and drawers, peeking into boxes and bags using a small flashlight. It was still light outside enough that poking a flashlight down a bag wouldn't make his presence stand out like a Brotherhood uniform in the Leather Jacks gang's street. But John had little luck and only found one little vial of Med-X that he stuffed into one of his pockets. Going deeper into the house he moved through and searched the living room, the bedroom and entrance hall. All rooms were in some kind of dirty or trashy mess. Which for John made it harder to search. All John found was another small, half full vial of Med-X next to the bed along with a used syringe. It didn't come as a surprise that the drug dealer liked to use his own substance. Eventually though after several minutes of searching John found a little metal box under a few dirty blankets in the man's wardrobe. It was the type of box with a lock, cheap old but sturdy enough. John only needed to lift it up to feel that there were something like vials inside the box. With his heart racing John brought the box back to the kitchen where there were still light enough to properly see. It didn't take more than half a minute before lock was picked and John opened the lid to reveal the jackpot. There must have been at least ten full vials of Med-X inside the metal box. John didn't stop to count and instead quickly stuffed all of the vials down his pockets as fast as he could. Then he returned the box to its original place and covered it up with the blankets. He left through the back door he had come in through and closed it properly. The drug dealer would notice he had been robbed soon enough and John would most likely be long gone before the dealer got home, but he still liked to mask his trails. With the pockets full of stolen chems John made his way out towards the now very dark street. The light of the few lampposts in the district that were working had yet to be turned on. John didn't really know why the district was receiving the electricity but he had once heard that a former district representative had managed to get it by saying it would help against the nightly criminal activity. Something John found rather funny as the light provided was too little that hiding in the dark was still rather easy but still enough that moving through and navigating the district became easier during the night. So the lampposts were actually helping the criminals more than hindering them. The rival drug dealers house was almost on the other side of the district. Walking in the dark made John wish they had been closer rivals, but even he knew that if people encroached on each others' turf too closely, one side would end up dead sooner rather than later. Eventually though he reached the house. The sky was already fully dark and the most unsavory people was beginning to walk the streets. The drug dealer, a shady man named Wilson, lived in a decent house. Only one storey, with a few holes in the roof, and a broken window covered up in planks. Only minor structural damages for an average house in Forgotten Homes. And it even had the benefit of running water and four hours of electricity per day. John walked up the front door, carefully watching over his shoulder in case someone would decide he was a prime target for a robbery. Quickly he knocked on the door, hoping Wilson would actually keep his word and be inside. Several seconds passed, and then the door cracked open until a chain lock prevented it from going further ajar. The dim lighting on both sides made it impossible for John to make out the figure who eyed him through the crack, but soon the door closed, metal could be heard sliding against metal, and it opened again to reveal Wilson. The drug dealer was a skinny man, mustached, and with long brown hair that he normally kept under a cap, though not tonight. He was dressed in a gray hoody and baggy white pants that came down to his bare feet. Wilson eyed John for a minute, then peered out into the street and quickly motioned for him to come inside. Just like the exterior, the interior of Wilson's house was decent by Forgotten Homes standards. Of course, John had only ever seen the entrance room, but it had a rough but clean-looking couch, two wooden chairs, a barely-stained wooden table, a radio that presumably worked, and even a couple framed pictures on the walls that contained faces that John did not recognize. Of course, there was plenty of junk strewn about around this stuff: empty bottles, open magazines, a few toys, and bits of gray powdery dust that John assumed wasn't salt. After closing and relocking the door, Wilson stepped between John and his view of the room. "That was quick," he said in a slightly nasally voice. "Did ya get it?" "I did. About a dozen vials of the stuff." John picked up one of them from his pockets and held it up at eye level. Wilson's face broke into a grin. "That's what I like to see. How many of those did ya get?" "As I said; about a dozen vials." John walked over to the wooden table and began to put down all the vials he had stolen. They numbered twelve, including the half full one. "You mean they're all Med-X?" John could see that the drug dealer was rather surprised at that. "That idiot didn't keep them all in one place, did he?" "Pretty much. I remember one was in the kitchen. One by his bed. The rest was in a box with a cheap lock, hidden under a few blankets in his wardrobe." Wilson laughed. "Seems to me we did the bastard a favor. Maybe he'll learn from this." He turned and grabbed a satchel off his couch and handed it to John. "There's a buck fifty in there. You brought more than I expected, so you'll have to come back for the rest tomorrow." "Just one fifty? Come on, they're at least worth one buck each," said John. "Ha, yeah in your dreams, pal. I ain't made of money, and if I was, I wouldn't give a buck a vial for some diluted Leather Jack shit. Even if it is Med-X. You'll get fifteen for each. I've got a hundred fifty now, and you'll get the other -what is that, thirty?- yeah, you'll get the other thirty tomorrow." That was too little for John. He was late with his payment to his landlord and needed at least three bucks, preferably four. "You don't know if it's diluted yet. It might still be good stuff." "It might be, but I ain't gonna pay you hospital prices on the low chance that it is." Wilson sighed. "Look man, dealin's my business, 'kay? And even I couldn't sell this shit for what you're asking. How about you take the one fifty and come back tomorrow? By then I'll have it tested. If it is seriously good stuff, I'll give you another hundred. If it's not, I'll still have that thirty I owe ya, plus another ten since you had to come back." "How about you keep this one for free," John picked up the half full vial, "And if it's good, I'll bring back the other eleven for three bucks in total." "That won't work either. I ain't gonna judge the batch meant for sellin' based on a dose meant for usin'. Don't nobody dilute their own shit." He scratched his head. "What say you leave me four vials and then come back tomorrow? If it's all good, you'll get your two fifty and not a penny more. I gotta make a living." John began to count, using his fingers for a little help. "Wait, you just offered me two sixty if it was all good and I left it here." "Did I?" The dealer's eyes narrowed; clearly he was trying to see if he was being bullshitted right now. Finally, he rolled his eyes. "Alright, fine. But only 'cause it probably ain't gonna be the good stuff anyway. Leave me four from the stash and come back with the rest tomorrow." "Alright," said John, doing his best to not sound disappointed. He packed all except four vials down his pockets. "I'll be back tomorrow at noon." "See ya then." Wilson opened the door and held it for John to walk through. The moment he was outside again, it slammed shut behind him, and the latch could be heard locking back up. ****, John thought to himself as he began his journey home. He dearly hoped the landlord wouldn't decide to make any demands before tomorrow. And Wilson had always been good on his word before, though John couldn't shake the small, nagging suspicion he might decide to cheat him. Well if he cheats me, he better have some good locks, John thought. John's apartment was in the southwest part of Forgotten Homes, one of the few most decent places to live in the district. The apartment was something Chris had arranged for both of them and after Chris had been taken it had been hard to make ends meet. The tall apartment building wasn't that far from Wilson's house and soon enough John used one of the two keys he had to open the entrance door. From there he walked up the stairs to the second floor where his apartment was. The place was strangely quiet given how young the night was. Usually, more than one of the rooms was either loud with music to drown out the chem use, or with couples fighting over something stupid. Not tonight, though. Tonight, John's neighbors seemed to be on their best behavior. No doubt he had the Brotherhood's arrival to thank for that. Unfortunately, that silence ended when he rounded the first corner on his left and found his landlord standing just outside his door, speaking in hushed tones with a man who John didn't recognize. The guy was skinny and pretty short, with blotchy pale skin, a thin, receding brown hairline, and a patchy goaty. His eyes darted past the aging landlord and met John's, and then quickly snapped back. After several more words were whispered between the two, the landlord nodded and turned to leave. He frowned at John as he walked past, but said nothing. John was unsure about what to think of it all. But the man outside his door made him nervous, made him wonder if he had somehow someway pissed off the wrong people. "Who are you?" John asked carefully as he approached the skinny man, but stopping at more than an arm's length away. "My name's Walter," the man answered in a slightly dry voice. "I've got some things to tell you that I think you'll be interested in." He motioned at the door. "Can we go inside?" "Uhm... Sure," said John with a badly hidden suspicion. He then slowly walked up to his apartment door, constantly eyeing Walter for any sudden movements as he unlocked and opened it. "Guests first," said John in as courteous manner he could muster as he stepped aside and motioned for Walter to step in first. Not out of any sense of courtesy but only because John wasn't so keen on turning his back to him. Walter, on the other hand, seemed plenty comfortable turning his back to John. He moseyed into the room, looking around as he did. John then followed inside, closing the door, still without turning his back to Walter. The room itself wasn't anything fancy. It was a decent size room. A somewhat functional kitchen near the left wall. Two doors leading to the bedroom and the toilet respectively was to the left of the kitchen. In the middle was a simple dining table for four people but had only two wooden chairs. On the right side of the room was a long couch that John used to sleep on before Chris was taken. A bookshelf with various magazines, ranging from comics to adult ones, and trinkets Chris and John had collected over the years as keepsakes from their life of crime. John appreciated being home, even if he wondered how long it may remain as such. That feeling was however dampened by the strange guest that now stood inside the apartment and looking around at John's belongings. John thought about saying something but hindered himself and instead decided to let this Walter talk first. "Nice place," the man started, "At least, for this part of town." He turned to face John. "That jerkoff outside said you're having trouble paying for it." "Yeah, it's been a bit hard finding well paying jobs. But what's it to you?" said John. Walter shrugged. "To be honest, it ain't much. I'm here as something of a favor. See, I knew your brother Chris. He was a friend of mine. After what happened to him, well, I figured I'd drop by, see how things are going." John was a little surprised that the man was a friend of his brother. Though John had to admit he hadn't really known any friends of Chris from the latest years. "As you already know now, not that well," said John with a dry tone. "Yeah, well that's something I'm thinking we can change." Walter's face was hard to read, though he seemed sincere. "I don't know you, but Chris had plenty good to say. That's why I'm thinking you'd be a good candidate for some work I have available." "What kind of work are we talking about?" asked John, both curious, eager and hesitant about what it might be. "Nothing too different from what you're doing now, I reckon." Walter smirked. "I've got some things that need to be moved in and out of the city, and I need someone who can help me move them without attracting attention." "Will there be good money in it?" asked John. "Depends on your definition of good. It'll keep you living here, if that's what you want. Though if you stick with me long enough, I can promise it'll get better." What do I got to lose? John wondered to himself. "Alright. I'm in," he said. "That easy, huh? Great." Walter reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He put one in his own mouth and offered second to John as he said, "I hang out in Pennway, at a joint near the river called The Inglenook. That's where you can find me when you're ready to start." John took the cigarette and looked at it. For him it was somewhat of a luxury only very few could really afford in Forgotten Homes. As such he had never even tried it. "Will you be there tomorrow?" asked John. "Yeah." There was clink and a scratch as Walter ignited his lighter and lit his smoke. "I should be there after dark." He held the lighter out for John. John lit his cigarette on the lighter before putting it to his lips and inhaling a deep breath. The smoke filling his lungs felt strange and unpleasant, which caused him to cough. But wanting to maintain appearances he quickly suppressed the coughing and inhaled another smog of smoke from the cigarette. John figured that it must get better after he'd gotten used to it. "Oh, and one more thing, if you show up and I ain't there, just ask for Flo. She'll help you out." "Alright," said John, trying to sound normal as his lungs tried to get used to the smoke. "I'll try to come around tomorrow." "Sounds like a plan." Walter held out his hand. "Looking forward to working with you, John." John took and shook Walter's hand. "I hope I can say the same thing," said John with a little friendly smile. "Something tells me you will." With that, the man who'd been Chris's friend took his leave, closing the door behind him. John waited a few second after he had left to lock the door. After which he went over to the window and opened it to air out the smoke in the room and the smoke he was breathing out. He looked over to where the Studios lie. There was another apartment building blocking most of the view from John's apartment. Then there was the wall that separated the Studios from Forgotten Homes. Bright light shone over the wall from the Studios. For John the wall represented the unjust oppression of the Brotherhood and the elite, meant to keep the common man in his place. The light was the dream of wealth, glamour and fame. A dream John still held, no matter how foolish it seemed.
  23. 3 points
    Windhelm Battle of Windhelm Continued "Come on, Red-Snow, there's still more elves to kill!" "Hold your horses, damnit, I'm trying to piss here." Brund watched with great disdain as the Nord showed what was in his mind a great disrespect for their ancestors, Ysgramor especially. Then he laughed to himself, remembering he didn't much give a shit about the ancestors or Ysgramor. He was greater than Ysgramor, as far as he was concerned. "Your King just died, and now you're pissing off the top of his palace." "I'm nothing if not consistent," said Baldur, knowing that Brund didn't know pissing off high places was a thing of his. "It's my palace now, anyway. When nature calls, it calls." Brund rolled his eyes before narrowing them. "You were close to Ulfric, yet you don't seem terribly broken up over his death, Red-Snow." Baldur's own eyes narrowed in turn. "Careful what you suggest. I honor my friend and king with blood, not tears. It will be the same for all Nords in the coming year. Now, I suggest we do as you said and get back to killing elves." Brund's suspicion remained, but the thought was carried away in the strong breeze that surrounded the rooftop of Windhelm's palace at the mention of elves as it threatened to do to them. "Any suggestions for getting down?" Baldur's head looked away from the ground below to reveal a grin from ear to ear. "Imperials aren't the only ones that can make an entrance." *** Falgrum Blood-Rim surveyed the battlefield, which was quickly filling with bodies of soldiers and civilians both. The cost of this all seemed too great... When Baldur first shared his thoughts on the war, what he planned, the body count didn't bother him in the slightest. That was because it wouldn't be primarily theirs. But now, Falgrum saw the foolishness in his idealism. Nord bodies littered the streets of Windhelm, some bloodied... others on fire. Homes of friends he once knew a lifetime ago, gone. Taverns he and Baldur shared drinks at, decimated. If this plan of his worked, then it would all be worth it, he told himself. It had to, or this sort of carnage would be all across Skyrim. Snapping out of his thoughts in time to parry with an armored Dominion soldier, Falgrum's great blade speared towards his chest, only to be buried in the cavity of a Xivilai summoned by a mage behind his comrade. The Xivilai roared in rage, pulling Falgrum closer as the blade went deeper and deeper. Roaring once more, the beast lifted him from his feet, even as Grim Ones impaled it to save their commander. Revealing its own great blade of ebony make, it lifted its immensely powerful arm, grinning as it prepared to take the Nord's life. "Yol, Toor Shul!" The thing had only enough time to show its surprise as Baldur fell from the sky, keeping himself above ground only by the power of his thu'um, its thrust propelling him towards it and breaking the creature's jaw with nothing but a mighty blow from his fist. The bear skull atop his ring gifted to him from the orc shimmered briefly in purple light, just as the Xivilai had before a portal to Oblivion swallowed it whole. "Knew that would come in handy eventually," he said to himself as soldiers and civilians both stood in awe. Just as Falgrum picked himself up, something shook the ground, threatening to send him right back down. When the dust settled, it revealed Brund, standing atop of two Thalmor mages, both crushed beneath his mighty Nordic boots covered in rock. With both their heroes returned, the remaining soldiers and a mob of once terrified civilians rallied behind them both, making the Thalmor invaders rout in fear of being overcome by sheer numbers. But the elves made them pay for each inch they lost, sending magefire back at the civilians' ranks, and ignoring the soldiers completely in an attempt to keep them out of the fight in the future. Windhelm was theirs once more. For Now. Night finally left them, but with the light came more sorrow, rather than hope, revealing just how many lives, Nordic and Dunmeri that the Thalmor soldiers took. Their numbers were in the low hundreds, women and children included. The soldiers' casualties were the same, each one burned into Baldur's memory. The Thalmor may have retreated, but they made sure to let the Nords know they still remained outside the city gates, sounding their warhorns and banging their wardrums throughout the night. Sleep came to few as the would be king helped his subjects gather their dead for later burial. If this siege went on for too long, they'd have to be burned rather than buried. "Falgrum, we cannot afford to let this siege go on. It must be broken, and soon. I'm talking days, not weeks." "And how do you suppose we do that? I mean, surely word will spread when travelers come. Word may already be on its way to the Reach or hopefully Whiterun, even Falkreath. But it will take time for soldiers from the Reach to get here. Anywhere else, they'll need time to amass a force strong enough to help. Not much, but longer than a week, I'd say." "This is starting to feel rather familiar," said Brund. "What about the men of the Rift? I saw them on my way here, taking care of bandit patrols. All we need to do is send word for reinforcements. I can fight my way through, and-" "No no, we need more than one man, even one as powerful as you," said Baldur, who noted Brund's lack of exhaustion after so much heavy thu'um usage. He hadn't even broken a sweat. Meanwhile, Baldur felt as though he could keel over at any moment. He needed to rest, and have his wounds tended to, but he couldn't let his people see his strength falter. This was a crucial moment. He couldn't rest, not yet. Coughing and hiding the blood that appeared in his hand from it, Baldur said, "I will send you, but a dozen Grim Ones should leave, including you and Falgrum." "My King, you may need those numbers when the Thalmor make another attack!" "He isn't king yet!" said Brund. "Of course, Jarl Brund. JARL Baldur may need those numbers when they make their next attack." Ignoring the correction, Baldur said, "You must be successful, I can't tell you how bad it'll be if the Thalmor manage to take Windhelm. They cannot possibly keep it, even with Riften in ashes, but it would deal us a serious blow having two holds sacked and a dead king to boot. And as Brund so aptly put it, I am not king yet. If they do take Windhelm, you lot are the contingency plan. Take the men. But you cannot be seen." "How will we remain unseen?" said Brund. "The Grim Ones that will accompany you will primarily be Nords, but I'll have mages accompany you too. Unfortunately we only have three Dunmeri Grim Ones here. They'll cast a spell of water breathing on you and your men, long enough for you all to swim through our rivers from inside the walls, outside to safety from the city's drains." "Well, that's certainly clever," said Falgrum, "But like you said, we only have three mages." "Hold on, I'll see if we have any talented mages from within the city," said Baldur. "I need to address the people anyway." With the thrill of battle gone, and leaving only the grief of loss behind, both for king Ulfric and their loved ones, not many looked to Baldur with much care even despite his heroic triumph over the Thalmor soldiers. Why would they, when so many were lost and the Thalmor still threatened to claim more lives. Some even began to wonder if the Imperials were right all along, though those that did kept that to themselves lest the others call them cowards or traitors, not knowing that the number of those who agreed was greater than they might've thought. Seeing defeat in their eyes, Baldur spoke, his thu'um trained voice echoing throughout Windhelm's walls as Ulfric's had during one of his speeches. "People of Windhelm, gather to me. I know that you all feel the loss of your king, and even more your sons, daughters, husbands and wives. This is but a mere taste of what is to come, if we do not take the fight to the elves." Before Baldur could continue, the crowd that gathered began muttering and yelling at him, saying, "We didn't ask for this!" and "We're not soldiers!" While others accused them of being milkdrinkers and yellow bellies. Baldur silenced them with a warcry that thundered out from his gullet, deafening those that were close enough to see the perspiration on his brow. "I know many of you did not ask for this. And for that I am deeply sorry," said Baldur, apologizing for things they weren't even aware of. "Many of you are not but farmers, merchants. Many of you just got here in this city, hailing from Cyrodiil. You might think this is not your fight, but you are wrong. Elves, Nords, Imperials, they come for us all, for what we've fought so hard to build. Look behind me! Look at the Stormcloaks that served Ulfric, that now serve me. Narry a one can claim more noble origins than the lot of you! But they've become something more! They've become defenders of more than just Skyrim, but of Tamriel itself! All you need is a will! Do you have the will to protect what is yours, people of Windhelm?" Standing amongst the people now, Baldur walked towards a group of children on age with Daric, some younger. "I was your age when I first picked up a sword. Killed my first man in my early days, not much older than the lot of you. Have you heard of my apprentice, Daric?" "Aye, we have. The Breton born Nord that stuck to the High General like a baby chick. Now he commands his own soldiers," said the eldest of the lot. "But we were not trained by great warriors. Many of us haven't even killed our first ice wraith!" "And even so, you have the power to do more than you ever could imagine!" said Baldur. "You are Nord children! Of what shall you fear? Sovngarde awaits the brave, of whom shall you be afraid? Your ancestors are smiling, as they prepare you a place, in the halls of Shor's kingdom for those with bold face. The elves have come to take your loved ones and land, as they've come for many eras and yet here do Nords stand! Fear not the pains of death that come with the enemy, for heroes are our ancestors and among us are many! Feel their spirits rise in you! Fight by my side! And I'll fight with you, with tremendous pride! And I'll show you the greatness that dwells inside, and the Thalmor will run, but nowhere can they hide! Avenge our loved ones we will, make the elves feel death's chill! Their fates will be grim, for we're the children of Skyrim!" As the crowd became alive, hands grabbing at the soon to be king, Baldur cried, "Now who will fight with me?!?" The crowd roared until even Baldur's voice could be drowned out amongst it all. Baldur had his answer. "We'll fight with you too, Nord king." "Aye, but don't forget about us when you get that fancy crown on your head, Baldur of Kyne's Watch. We may be elves, but we're no fans of those prissy excuses for mer." Baldur turned to a group of Dunmer huddling close, a dot in the midst of pale faces. Smiling, he said, "Prissy elves you are not. Actually, you're just the lot I was looking for. I need your help. Do you know of any skilled in the school of Alteration?" Walking with a small group of Dunmer behind him, Baldur approached the 12 Grim Ones that would be leaving the city. That included Falgrum, Brund and the three Dunmer Grim Ones as well. They would not need magical assistance as they could cast the spells on their own. The other 9 would need the help of the civilians. Or so Baldur thought. Brund knew it was really eight, though he couldn't say why.... "Baldur, this is ******* stupid, they'll just slow me down." "You haven't yet been called to take the trials, Brund. You don't know what your comrades are now capable of. You only got a brief taste today," said Baldur. "Aye," said Falgrum simply, the others sharing looks that said they all went through hell together. The now infamous Grim Trials were well known for its suicidal insanity. Brund merely gave an indifferent grunt, not impressed by the dunmer or Falgrum's lot. "You expect these shrimps to survive Skyrim's icy rivers?" "They will do their best," said Baldur. "They'll rely on their skill in magic to survive. The Grim Ones however, they won't need it, including our Draugr Dunmeri soldiers. You know your mission, alert my nearby Necro Nord forces, bring reinforcements and break this siege. Stop for nothing else, even if your mother's being humped by a bear. It's probably one of ours anyway, and I'm sure she was asking for it. Now move out." The men nodded before falling backwards one at a time into Windhelm's drainage system, falling head first into the current as they were all taken deep beneath the surface. Baldur gave them four days to complete their task. He only hoped that would be enough. That night, Baldur wondered how long it would take Rebec to realize he was gone. She probably knew by now from the others, someone must have sent word. He hoped she had the good sense to stay out of the Rift when she had Ragna to take care of. And even better sense to stay from here if word of the attack reached their ears already. He slept in one of Ulfric's.... his.... royal tents, alone after the battle maidens had tended to his wounds thoroughly. His armor was now ruined from the explosion aboard the Sunbird, instead being adorned in nothing but leather trousers for the time being, looking nothing like the king that many had already seen him as. The people were desperate, afraid of what might happen with Ulfric dead. They hoped so strongly that Baldur would keep Skyrim on the right track, as though Ulfric had never been gone. That fear was enough to carry him so far. But he needed more than that. He needed to be their hero. More than that... "I need to be their god." Sitting up in his bed, Baldur did what he always did when he was planning something stupid. He smiled to himself, then looked to see if Rebec was around, though of course she was not. Old habit. If this went badly, it occurred to him that he might never see her again, and she'd never know what he'd done. There was at least one bright side to all of this. For what he'd done... "Gods... I really miss the days where the most I had to worry about was how many men had been with my wife." Laughing, he recalled how angry he'd been thinking about it, wishing he could get his hands on all of them. It was enough to make him forget, but only for a moment. "Boldir... if he knew." Memories of Ulfric's defiant glare, the rage in his eyes as he unleashed his thu'um on him. For a second, just before he'd launched Baldur in the air, he thought he saw a tear in Ulfric's eye. That thought brought tears to his own. If Boldir knew... Who cares if Boldir knew? He too betrayed us! Betrayed me... he lied to me, said everything was fine. Meanwhile, he was killing our brothers and preparing to burn our city! If not for that, then maybe I wouldn't have seen this as such a necessity! Maybe.... Grip tightening around his axe, Baldur said, "I will find him. I will drag him to Windhelm if I must. And he will answer for his crimes. Against Skyrim, and against his family." "Why are you crying?" said a small girl from outside the tent by his fire. She and a small group of children had come to visit their Jarl. "I'm just mourning my friend," said Baldur. "And my brother." "My dad said only milkdrinkers shed tears. But you're no milkdrinker." Allowing himself a smile, Baldur said, "I'm not, no. And yet your father's words say I must be. How is that so, child?" "Either you really are a milkdrinker, or my father is wrong," said the girl. "It's both," said Baldur. "A man that cries all the time is a milkdrinker, but even the mightiest of warriors shed tears sometimes. Even so, a true Nord must strive to be strong as much as possible. All of us, even when we are sad. Are you sad?" "I'm scared," said the girl, fiddling with her trousers. "My pa is in the Reach. I was staying with my brother, but he ran out to fight the elves, and I don't know where he went." Baldur stepped out of the tent and sat next to the fire with the kids. He noticed that they'd all been given axes and daggers, and the terror that such a thing must have caused them he knew must've been great. The things in their hands, up until now for most of them was wood. That's how it should've remained. "Don't be afraid," said Baldur. "I am here with you. I will not send you to fight my battles for me while I hide in a castle. I will protect all of you. I will be victorious. We will be victorious. And when this fight is over, all of you will come back as true Nords. This is your new rite of passage. Fight without fear in your hearts, and as king, I will bless you and your families. None will be refused Sovngarde's pleasures, and none of you children that fight today will be sent to Valenwood. This I promise you, and your parents if they wish to stay home." "You mean it?" said a young boy to his left, his hair shaved into a warrior's mohawk obviously rather recently. No doubt he and some of the other older boys wanted to look the part of warriors before they were called on. Like the warpaint they now wore, it helped to steel them if they no longer felt like themselves. "Every last word of it," said Baldur. "Someone has to stay behind and protect our lands while we are gone. And I cannot lose. Haven't you heard? I am favored by Shor himself. I will prove it to you before the week is out." "We stand with you, Jarl Red-Snow. My pa said you were the fourth coming of Wulfharth himself. I think he was joking, but I believe it! Either you or that really big and mean looking guy from the Reach." Baldur chuckled at that and said, "Well I don't know about that, for either of us. Though I do wonder where our esteemed Jarl Hammer-Fang managed to learn such powerful thu'um. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Now, I must get my sleep children. You all should do the same, in case the time for you to fight indeed arises. As the children ran off to tell the others what the new Jarl said, Baldur went back to his tent, consuming much of the many sweets and mead the children and what remained of their families left him. There were even letters left from their parents, some women asking if he were looking for a wife to be Queen, even though everyone knew of Rebec by now, and others begging him to make the elves pay for what they did to Ulfric. He burned those. Anything that even had Ulfric's name in it. Looking in the mirror, Baldur's eyes traced over his body. It was heavily scarred and bruised, appearing dirty even after being cleaned and bandaged. His hair was as silky as ever, but there were streaks of grey riddling his once flawless appearance. His beard was now thick and shaggy, rather than its once sleek and trimmed appearance. It all made him frown, making his appearance in his eyes even worse. "No no, this will not do. A king must look like a god, and gods don't age." Peeling off his bandages, he said, "And they certainly don't bleed." Despite that, his blood ran free once the painstakingly wrapped cloth was removed from him. He recalled the last time he decided to play king with Rebec, the night he stole Ulfric's crown. He allowed himself to smile at the memory, seeming like a lifetime ago now. Then the words of the child came to him as well. "The fourth coming of Wulfharth." Hardly. At least not now. But.... what if... "What if I could make them believe? Imagine what I could accomplish then." Going to his pack, Baldur removed his pot of blue warpaint, smiling to himself as he began his pre-war ritual, something he picked up from Rebec. He would do more than make them believe. He, would believe. *** It had been days since the last Thalmor attack came, and many within Windhelm's walls were growing restless, as the Thalmor continued to play their magically amplified instruments so that none would sleep in peace. Everyone, even Baldur was effected. His eyes were bloodshot, and he seemed nervous, jittery. No word from his men had come, and he wasn't sure how long it'd take Falgrum to gather them all. "Should have kept them closer to the border," said Baldur, forgetting that this would have looked suspicious. "Excuse me, people of Windhelm. This is your Overseer speaking." Looking up from beneath a robe, Baldur and the rest of his soldiers all looked towards the night sky that the voice seemed to be coming from. "My name is Grand Overseer Tyrian Travister. This is not my first time in Skyrim. The last time I visited this province, the Imperials were with us, working together. Working to secure peace and order for all of Tamriel. That effort was since then destroyed, by those that would see all elven kind eradicated. People like Ulfric, people like this Baldur Red-Snow. We've come to you not as invaders, but as liberators! Our goal is to enlighten, not to enslave! Please, open your doors to us, remove your soldiers from the damaged section of the wall, and let us be partners in this world, just as we were with the Imperials before Baldur Red-Snow's mageling and the Motierre whore broke us apart!" Baldur cursed under his breath. He had no idea who this elf was, but he seemed to know of the Witch, enough to know that the Emperor and he had a connection. "Embrace the Thalmor. Give us Baldur Red-Snow, so that he may answer for his crimes against the Empire and the Dominion. Or your entire city will be wiped from the face of Mundus. You have two hours to respond. We do this for Nord, Altmer and Imperial!" "Two hours?" said Baldur. His men drew swords nervously, wondering if the people of Windhelm would be mad enough to give up their Jarl and surrender. Most seemed as though they wouldn't dare, but many of them seemed shifty, suspicious. Sleep had come to no one in days and some looked like they would crack at any moment. "Sir, we gotta talk," said a Necro Nord Captain beside him, his white bear fur covered hand resting on Baldur's cloaked shoulder. "There's nothing to talk about, Captain. I will give the Thalmor what they want. I will not risk the lives of all these people any longer." "What? But-" Baldur cut him off. "Bardok, just do as you're told." "With all due respect, 'king', I'd rather die than see you hand yourself over to the Thalmor. We all would! I didn't put myself through the trials just to give up when the elves come knocking!" "Then die you shall!" said Baldur, bloodshot eyes venomously glaring. "Don't question me, not now. I've gotten us this far, trust that whatever I do is for the best. I do this for Skyrim, friend. Now, prepare the gate. Rally the people to the front, I want all to bear witness. Let it fuel their spirits." Bardok the Impaler's rage did not fade at Baldur's words, but after having fought with the new Jarl personally, he knew just how stubborn and true Baldur's resolve was. Bowing his head, he ran off to spread the word. *** The silence of all who gathered was eerie. Never before had Baldur seen such a large crowd so quiet. If not for the Thalmor blowing their horns and banging their drums, it would have been quiet enough to hear a ghost break wind. People on either side of him watched with Grim faces, soldier and civilian alike as their newest Jarl marched alone to give himself up to the elves. There were only a few hundred soldiers left, even fewer Grim Ones. They all knew that they could not defend the city, not with the hole in the wall and with them completely cut off from the rest of Skyrim. Bowing their heads in shame, they all watched as Baldur opened wide the ancient gates of Windhelm. It was only now that Baldur truly saw what they were dealing with. Even after all the killing, all the destruction, the Thalmor's numbers remained. He did a quick glance over and guessed that they still had at least six hundred mer soldiers, all staring at him, pointing spears and arrows, hands filled with magic fire. "It's been a long time since I've been so close to your kind," said Baldur. "That it has, Nord. Not since the days they called you Captain, and later General, right?" A Thalmor mage, even taller than Baldur stood forward. He had a golden staff adorned with a phoenix in one hand, and the other was behind his back. "Do I know you, because you seem to know me," said Baldur. "Not personally, no. Your mage friend saw to it that you and I never got the chance to meet. I did meet your wife, however. I'm the one that made sure neither Imperial nor Altmer violated her. You can thank me later. If I see her again, however, I can't promise such a fate won't befall her." "Not in your life, you yellow piss stain," said Baldur, glaring. "And how will you stop me? You just gave yourself up. Unless you happen to know magic other than your thu'um, or unless your Emperor friend is nearby, I suggest you cease with the idle threats." "What in the world makes you think that the mage is friends with me?" said Baldur. "Well first, there's the fact that he attacked me long ago, just before you stormed our encampment. I had to flee from that fight, and I'll never forget his power. He obviously wasn't with the Empire then, and we had reports after interrogating enough men within Skyrim to know that there was indeed a battlemage serving under you. Then he appears again at Empress Dales' side, suddenly the closest of friends? I may not have proof, but I know the Nord is with your lot." "Like it matters, no one would believe the word of a Thalmor pissant like you anyway," said Baldur. "The mage was never 'with my lot', he does as he pleases." "Oh, I believe it," said Tyrian. "And you're right about no one believing us. But we'll prove it, and when we do, your little alliance with the Empire will crumble to pieces. Then we'll march over Tamriel and destroy you all, one by one. But, you my Nord friend will not live to see it. You like casting fire from your throat so much like a buffoon, then you'll die in the same manner. Windhelm's soldiers will be killed, but we will spare the civilians if they do not stand in our way. You have my word. It's more kindness than you should even be allowed, Nord." "You know you can't possibly hope to hold this city, even if you do kill my men," said Baldur. "The people will not put up with your rule, and when word reaches the other holds..." "We'll see," said Tyrian. "But you won't. Mages! Prepare to execute the High General! Let this be a lesson to all that would appose world peace and order!" As Tyrian gave the order, a group of thirteen Stormcloaks broke from the crowd of onlooking civilians, charging Baldur's location in an attempt to save him. Baldur yelled with all the strength his voice could muster for them to retreat, but they would not hear him. Before any could even hope to reach the Thalmor lines, their front line cast spell after spell, until all was lost beneath the flame, Baldur included. The smell of burning flesh filled every nose, as the smoke arose in the night air. All could see its bright embers as the fire finally began to die, and nothing remained but ash. The nord's cries were imprinted in the minds of every Nord, every Stormcloak. Jarl Baldur Red-Snow's reign was short lived, and over. "Begin occupying the city," said Tyrian. As he gave the order, the people of Windhelm just witnessing the death of their king and now their Jarl began baring weapons; pitchforks, axes, spears, scythes, whatever they could get their hands on. Though they didn't dare make the first move however, and neither did the Thalmor. It was a standstill. "Stand DOWN! Or you all shall die just as these lot have!" said Tyrian. "We will NOT let your people get in the way of world peace!" "World peace? You can shove your world peace up your collective asses!" The voice of the dead Jarl echoed all around once more, louder than even the amplified voice of Tyrian. Confused, he looked back to the large ash pile, still burning even as the coals were simmering down. Then, a large arm poked out of the ash mound, covered in the remains of those that died protecting their Jarl. The cloak that hid Baldur's body was gone, revealing Stormcloak blue swirls and spirals all over, bright amongst the grey ash that should have contained his corpse as well. When he arose from it, he looked a fearsome sight. Completely nude, and adorned in the remains of his fallen soldiers, painted blue from head to toe. Even his hair was streaked with blue, replacing the grey that was once there. "There can be no peace, so long as your kind remains! I am Baldur the Unkindled! Baldur the Kindler! And I shall bring down the wrath of the Gods on all mine enemies!" Even as he spoke, Thalmor flame threatened again to overtake him, but still he remained. The flame's wrath could not touch him. Instead, it bent to his will as he cast fire from his mouth to the Thalmor front lines. Axes in hand, Baldur charged the elves with no protection other than ash and warpaint, and flanked by scores and scores of Nord men, women, and children. "Fool! This will mean your doom, all of you!" cried Tyrian. "Annihilate them all!" Person after person ran into death's embrace, the Thalmor flames taking many more lives before any managed to reach Thalmor front lines. All except Baldur, who gave back every bit of flame that the Thalmor gave his people. His axes pulled their lightning spells towards them, keeping Baldur safe just long enough to draw elven blood as he and his mob crashed into the organized Thalmor resistance like a wave on a rock. He fought like something possessed, arm gripped around the neck of one elf as his other swung his axe at anything with a yellow face. His appearance made it hard for the enemy to discern his position amongst the mob of ragged peasants and Stormcloaks, and none knew exactly where the 'Ash King' was until flames licked their face, sending them to their gods. It was so chaotic that most of the Thalmor invaders hadn't heard the sounds of war horns blasting from behind them not of their own, nor did they hear the cries of "For the Ash King! For Baldur the Unkindled!" as hundreds of Grim Ones charged their flank, lead by ten men and women wearing the white bear furs of the Necro Nord Captains. An orc woman was the first to reach an Altmer, her tusks ripping out their throat before shooting another with her crossbow. Bardok the Impaler kept true to his name, his great sword piercing the bellies of two elves as he regrouped with his fellow Grim Ones. An arrow almost caught him in the throat until a goofy looking Nord with a newly shaven face and facial tattoos jumped in the way of it. "Uh, thanks friend. Perhaps next time though, you should use your shield instead?" "I keep telling him he's an idiot and one day his stupidity's gonna get him killed!" said Jjgmir Willcrush-Me. "Who cares if I die? Who! I'm nothing without my beard! I'll never forgive you for this, Jjgmir!" "Shut up stupid and break that arrowhead off. Besides, I did you a favor. Who the hell wears a half beard? It was stupid, so I got rid of it. You should be thanking me!" "Sir, if you ask me-" "No one asked you, Bjorn!" said Jjgmir and Bolsh. Suddenly a fist collided with Jjgmir and Bjorn's heads. "You idiots are gonna get everyone killed! Get back in the fight!" "Sir yes Baldur, sir!" "Uh, why are you naked?" said Bolsh. The other two soldiers smacked him upside his head. "Didn't you see the Thalmor attack him earlier?" "What? No, I was busy looking at the night sky. Haven't you lot ever noticed how pretty the auroras are?" The others didn't have time to comment on his stupidity before a giant ice atronach crashed their ranks. Jjgmir was the first to act, distracting it with his mace and shield while Bjorn and Bolsh both tackled it into the ground. Jjgmir smashed the creature's face in with his mace while the other two held it down. Baldur could say what he wanted about their intelligence, but as he watched them make a group of five Thalmor retreat from their presence as they chased them down, he had to admit he was right all along about their talent as soldiers. The Thalmor would not win this battle, but they would not be overtaken like before either. Even now, they used the untrained and undisciplined nature of the civilians against them, breaking rank and running off into the hills and woods of Skyrim. Even more elves and Nords were now dead, littering the landscape all the way from Windhelm's gates. But, Windhelm was his. Soon all of Skyrim would be his, he knew. Even at the great cost of this victory, the enraged Nords of Windhelm still cried, "All hail Baldur, Ash King of the North!"
  24. 3 points
    ** Duke Mon Wyrd Hill Keep Midnight Duke Mon was just about to go to sleep, four days after he hired assassins to attack Adrard’s caravan, when the lone surviving assassin arrived. He was drenched in sweat, and dry blood caked his clothes. He must have ditched his quiver, as it was missing, though he still had his bow. The guards quickly brought him to the duke, who was instantly filled with dread. “What happened? What took you so long?” Mon asked. “The king, his son, and the prisoner all escaped. I was the only survivor from our side. I could not find our horses in the dark, and the next morning soldiers came, and I fled,” the assassin said. “I see,” Mon said, his pale skin growing ever paler, until he looked ghostlike. “Rest, you will get your payment in the morning. Send in the guards, please.” The assassin left, and two guards entered. Mon turned to them and said, “Follow that man to his room and kill him.” The guards left, leaving Mon alone in his study. He couldn’t have any more loose ends, not now. He knew it was a mistake to attack the caravan, but when his spies told him about Brenon going with the king to meet the Direnni, all he could think about was silencing that tattling mage. Now Adrard surely suspected Mon was behind all of it, and even if the king’s negotiation with the Direnni failed, Mon knew he was out of time. He would need to move quickly if he was going to survive. He quickly wrote two letters, one to each of the major sellsword companies left in High Rock. One was in Daggerfall, while the other was in Shornhelm. He would hire whichever replied first, though he was worried neither would quickly enough. He then wrote another letter, this one to a woman he knew, a whore in Camlorn. She owed him a favor, and he knew just how she could collect. The last letter, though, was the most important. With it he might be able to not only destroy Theodore Adrard, but also further endear himself to the Thalmor. Your Majesty Empress Motierre, I must apologize profusely for not writing sooner. But under this brutal regime, I’m afraid I feared for my family’s safety. You see, Theodore Adrard has done nothing but murder and lie to the Breton nobility since he so wrongly ousted your rule. But that is not the worst of it. I was contacted by a Direnni ambassador, who revealed to me a plot between Adrard, the Direnni, and the Thalmor, in which they would betray the alliance in exchange for retaining their titles under the Dominion. But when the ambassador sought an audience with King Adrard, a Thalmor justiciar murdered him. I then revealed the plot, but now I fear that my service to truth will be rewarded by death at the hands of this tyrant king. For Adrard met with the Direnni recently, and I believe he will move against me soon. I think we will have to flee, likely to Cyrodiil, to escape Adrard. In the case we cannot, however, I send this letter as a plea to my Empress, in that she may retake this province, and return justice to High Rock. You are the Breton peoples’ only hope. Ever your servant, Duke Jhared Mon. Mon stamped the letter with his seal, then sent it with one of his couriers, who was to take it to Daggerfall, and then send it on to the Imperial City. Hopefully, the Empress would either be foolish or vain enough to attack High Rock. Not only would Adrard be stuck with a foreign army on his soil, but the Thalmor would likely make a play as well. And if it did not work, he doubted the Empress would help Adrard by revealing the letter to him. Now all he had to do was wait. In the morning, he would send his family to Cyrodiil, and hire more sellswords to wreak havoc. This time, though, they would cause trouble in Wayrest, by slaughtering the Horse Tribes. If that took them into Hammerfell, and they killed a few villagers there, so be it. Then they would attack the centaurs in the Gauvadon Forest, and disrupt those stupid silkworms they cherished so much. It would undoubtedly wreck the textile production in Farrun and Jehanna, where LaRouche owed Theodore nothing, and Birian was a tentative ally at best. They would be furious, and demand Adrard do something. Mon could easily undermine him, and that would buy him precious time. All he had to do was w- “Sir! Attackers in the village!” a guard yelled, bursting into Mon’s study. They rushed outside, to the wall, and there in the darkness Mon could see the scores of men arranging themselves around the keep, orienting most of the men in front of the gate, to cut off anyone who might try to escape. Their banners were that of the young Duke Theirry, a sinking ship on a blue sea and white sky. So it was too late, too late to disrupt the centaurs, the horse tribes, too late to do anything. The sellswords would never come now that his castle was enveloped, and he did not have enough troops to burst through Theirry’s lines. They could hold the castle, even if more troops arrived. And the letters that went to the whore and the empress would do him little good, with his keep likely burned to the ground by then. The underground tunnel was the only means of escape. As someone commanded they surrender or be besieged, Mon quickly went back into the keep, where the commotion outside had awoken most of the household. His wife, son, and daughter were there, with his grandchildren. “What is it?” Tristyn, his son and heir asked. “Adrard has besieged us. Quickly, get dressed and pack your things. We must escape, while we still have a chance,” Mon said. “Where are we going, grandfather?” Mon’s granddaughter Sylbenitte asked. She was his daughter’s daughter, a small thing with bright blonde hair. “To Cyrodiil, to the Imperial City. Now hurry, go, we have to go quickly.” Mon was dressed and waiting near the stairs to the cellar when a guard came in, sword in hand. “My lord, we have a problem. More soldiers, mounted knights, have arrived. Baron Copperfield’s men.” At that name, Duke Mon’s heart leapt into his throat. Baron Copperfield was a nobleman of little renown, somewhere past sixty years with an aging wife and three grown children. His lands held several mines, and he was well enough off. He probably brought most of his knights with him, and though they were several, it did not turn the tide of the siege. No, what made Baron Copperfield dangerous, supremely so in Mon’s case, was the one hobby he held dear to hear. Baron Copperfield was an architect, an admirer of castle and temples and all things made of stone. And a few years ago, at a party thrown by Duke Mon, he had been caught snooping in the cellars. The guards that found him said he had a map in hand, a map of Duke Mon’s secret escape tunnel. So when Duke Mon climbed atop the walls once again, he saw Baron Copperfield’s men standing just behind the rocky hill that hid the tunnel entrance. And Duke Mon knew then that his plot had truly failed, and there would be no escape.
  25. 3 points
    Theodore Adrard Camlorn Morning Although the idle chatter of his family at breakfast surrounded Theodore, he found himself unable to focus on the present. It had not been long since the Tyne’s left, or long since the Thalmor assassin in his hall. With mercenaries in Cyrodiil wreaking gods know what havoc, Thalmor killing people in his castle, and the ever-looming threat of this Daedric disease hanging over his family, he found it difficult to focus indeed. It was a strange feeling for him, not being focused. For years his every step and decision was planned around his eventual rise to power. Now that he had accomplished that, these constant threats crouched in the shadows, always drawing his attention away from consolidating his power. Luckily, though, he had found ways to keep them at bay. A potion from Winvale was managing the disease, and Corrick Tilwald would soon return with a lasting cure. The Tyne siblings were dealing with the Silver Brigade, while Sir Maric strengthened the guard around the castle. And he would soon be meeting with the Direnni to find out what had truly happened in his hall. First, however, was a meeting with the School of Julianos’s leader, Arch Cleric Eloise Jolvanne. Theo was intent on mending the relationship, but insisted on doing it face to face, and not through the two insubordinate mage ambassadors who confronted him in his hall. Though the School was only one of several magical institutions in High Rock, they held considerable sway, because they were religious based. Their membership was the largest, because of their willingness to admit most anyone to learn Julianos’s divine, magical wisdom. As breakfast finished up, the servants cleared the table, while Theodore, Elayne, Roland, and the pregnant Lyenna moved into the balcony hall above the great hall. Sir Maric was guarding the muted mage they had prisoner, as Theodore thought he held the key to unraveling the Thalmor’s plot. They waited on the gallery for the steward to arrive with their guest. When the steward did arrive, his face was pale, his movements nervous. “Your highnesses, may I introduce Arch Cleric Eloise Jolvanne, of the School of Julianos, Magister Gaban Bellamont, of the Arcane Academy, and Grand Wizard Thetrard Dolbanitte, of the Sorcerous Society,” the steward said, before bowing and quickly leaving. “Master wizards, what an honor it is to have you. Please be seated,” Elayne said, motion to the table. Theodore betrayed no outward surprise at the other two magical schools’ leader’s presence, though doubtless that was the mages intent of this ambush. Surprise him, throw him off his guard, and then pounce. Though what the motive behind their attack was, he couldn’t be sure. He did notice, interestingly enough, that the leaders of two other prominent magical schools were not in attendance. Master Sage Visanne Luseph, of the Institution for Thaumaturgic Enlightenment, and Magus Pitof Gavonne, of the College of Whispers, were apparently not invited by the other master wizards. The three present leaders, and two absent ones, accounted for all five of the major magical schools in High Rock, as the Synod had abandoned their school not long after secession, in an attempt to curry favor with the Empire’s leadership. Arch Cleric Jolvanne wore the many colored robes of her organization. She was an older woman, who had some Redguard in her, based on her complexion. Her black hair was striped with white and gray. Magister Bellamont wore shimmering silver robes with purple around the sleeves, neck, and waist. He was a clean-shaven man with long gray hair tied into a ponytail. Grand Wizard Dolbanitte wore dark blue robes with gold accents. He leaned on a slender wooden staff of some gray wood. His beard and hair was short, but still showed some hint of its once brilliant yellow. “Welcome, Arch Cleric, Magister, and Grand Wizard. I’m pleased to have you all here, so we might clear the air between us. It seems you all hold some harsh feelings toward Lord Winvale, and I hope to settle this dispute so that it benefits us all. I am prepared to offer you free reign of not only my library, but Lord Traven’s as well. In exchange you drop this protest,” Theodore said, not bothering to offer the mages the refreshments sitting at their end of the table. They could choke on the pastries, for all he cared. The three mages exchanged glances, but did not bother conferring on the offer. Arch Cleric Jolvanne spoke for them. “We will not be accepting that offer. Instead, you will listen to our grievances, and then do what we ask. Otherwise, we might let slip some interesting tidbits about the claims that Direnni made in your court. Corroborative claims. They mean to blackmail me into submission. These insolent mages do not understand what they’ve wrought, Theodore thought. His wife gave him a concerned glance, while Roland and Lyenna whispered amongst themselves “And I suppose you two support this position?” Theodore asked Bellamont and Dolbanitte. “With regret, your highness,” Dolbanitte said. “Yes,” Bellamont answered. “What are your demands, then?” Theodore asked. “After consideration,” Jolvanne said, “we have decided not to displace Winvale. He has friends who would take quite an exception to that, it seems. Instead, we want the College of Whispers ousted from High Rock. Their magical artifacts and books are to be confiscated and divided between us.” Theodore knew that to oust the College of Whispers would not only antagonize Cyrodiil, but also lead to further blackmailing by these magical schools later on. But, the school had enough influence that it would be a deathblow to have them corroborate the Direnni’s claim. He would have to give in, this time. But he knew better than anyone how to wait, to have patience. He would not forgive this treason. “It will be done,” Theo said. “I do, however, have one request of you. “Yes?” Jolvanne asked. “My court mage request a few books. Now that you have looked passed your feud with him, I should hope you could grant me this simple request,” Theodore said, passing the list down to the Arch Cleric. “I suppose I can be generous,” Jolvanne said, but Theodore detected anxiousness in her voice, as though she really had no choice but generosity. “I thank you kindly, Arch Cleric,” Theodore said. “And we thank you, King Adrard, for being so reasonable. The books will arrive in a few days time, you have my word,” she said. “And you have mine that the College of Whispers will be gone within two weeks,” Theodore said. After the mages left, Roland slammed his fist on the table, his voice indignant and angry. “How dare they blackmail you! Do they not know who it is they are dealing with?” “Calm down, my son. They will get theirs, eventually. But as always, we must not act impulsively. Prudence and patience is the course,” Theo said. “It is a travesty, no doubt, and yet a manageable one. Though their request will not be done lightly. Cyrodiil will be quite incensed when they find out,” Elayne said. “They will. But for now, our concerns our greater than Cyrodiil’s feelings. Now, Roland I must go talk to Winvale, and hopefully he will lift the curse on our prisoner,” Theodore said. He and Roland went to wizard’s tower and quickly ascended to find Winvale busy dissecting an organ of some unknown origin. Theo suspected it might be centaur, based on the wizard requesting some book about their anatomy. “I spoke with Jolvanne. Your books will be here in a few days,” Theodore said. “I know,” Winvale replied, never looking up from the dissection. “I had a few friends of mine make sure she would give you the books. And to make sure she understood what it meant to cross me.” “The Glenmoril Wyrd,” Theodore said, remembering the wizard had some partnership with the witch clan. “They will ensure that no one protests against my appointment. Frankly, I enjoyed riling up those mages, but it would be tedious to play this out any longer. “Now that you have what you want, will you lift the curse on the prisoner?” “Not until the books arrive. That was my condition, and promises of books are not the books themselves.” Having preached patience to his son, Theodore now found himself impatient, based on the importance of this interrogation. But contradicting his own advice would do him no good, especially since his son was present. So Theo waited the few days until the books arrived. Thankfully, he did have something to occupy himself with, as he helped Roland and Sir Maric organize the eviction of the College of Whispers. Sir Galien, Sir Maric’s second in the Knights of the Bull, was to take fifty men and meet with one hundred more under Wayrest’s Sir Malyne. Together they were to peacefully evict the mages in the Wayrest campus of the College of Whispers. Sir Galien left two days before the books arrived, so Theodore expected he would have news from him in a week. With the books arrival, and upon delivery to Winvale, Theodore insisted they interrogate the prisoner. Theodore, Sir Maric, and Winvale descended the steps into the lower part of the dungeon, while two guards dragged Brenon the mage from his cell. Stinking even worse than before, Theodore ignored the stench, intent on learning whatever it is the man knew. “Unmute him, master wizard,” Theodore said. One of Winvale’s hands hovered in front of the emaciated prisoner’s throat, while another hovered over the crown of his head. A white energy flowed between them momentarily. Winvale then removed his hands, after which the slightest sound croaked out from the prisoner’s mouth. “He should be free to speak now,” Winvale said. He then turned and left, signifying his part in this was over. “Fetch him some water,” Theodore commanded one of the guards. “As for you, I hope your silence has allowed you time to think very carefully to how you are going to answer my questions. The first one being: who are you? Brenon stammered out, his voice weak and hoarse, “M-my name is B-b-brenon Gernis.” “And who was your master?” “H-he was M-master Fallo, a D-direnni mage.” Brenon downed the glass of water so quickly it dribbled down his chin. “Is that it?” Theodore asked, not hiding his displeasure. “Tell me everything you know about him, about who he was working with, and what happened in my hall. If you fail to answer my questions, then you will have wished I granted you a swift death. Gulping, Brenon started his narrative. “He…Fallo was a….T-thalmor spy in the Direnni. He wanted me to meet with…Duke Mon. I met with Mon and we worked out a deal. We were going to read the letter in your hall, and then meet with Mon and give him evidence that you were working with the Thalmor. Fabricated evidence, of course. I’m sorry, please don’t-“ “Just continue,” Theodore said, glaring at Brenon. “Yes, of course, your highness. That was the plan, but then Fallo was killed. But I swear I don’t know anything about that. It was a surprise, I promise.” “Did you recognize the Thalmor who killed Fallo?” “No, I had never seen him before.” “But you do know that Mon was working with the Thalmor?” “Yes, yes, I know for a fact. “Good. You’ve done well Brenon, and for that you shall be rewarded. Guards, double his portions tonight, and put him in a clean cell with clean clothes.” “Thank you, thank you King Adrard.” Theodore left the dungeon content. He wished he could move against Mon, with this information in hand. But one mage’s confession would not be enough to refute the spectacle made in his court, or very public apology Mon made. Theodore would need the Tynes to discover what the Silver Brigade was up to. And he would need to ensure that Brenon was who he said he was, and only the Direnni could do that. Once that was done, he could move against Mon with full force, and ensure he would be crushed, once and for all.
  26. 3 points
    I - The tools you'll need The source files the Creation Kit needs to generate the LOD data for your world space. I compiled them for you already; you can download them here [SKY] LOD generation source files After downloading the archive, open it and place its content as following: - the "Source" folder must be placed in the Steam/SteamApps/common directory, next to the Skyrim folder, - the "lodsettings", "meshes" and "textures" folders must be placed in the Data directory. II - Generating the LOD for your world space IIa - Preparation The first thing you must do is make a copy of your plugin. Generating LOD doesn't add anything to the plugin but damages it by completely ruining the landscape. This happens even if you haven't worked on your world space landscape yet and the damages are irreversible (even by using TES5Edit). - launch the Creation Kit and load the copy you made of your plugin, - once your plugin has been loaded, in the menu bar go to "World" and then to "World LOD...". The following window will open: In this window, select your world space in the list on the left. (Do not load anything in the render window; it would just eat up precious resources.) IIb - Generation Now that the World LOD dialogue window is open and you have selected your world space in the list, follow the instructions below in that exact order: In "Meshes", select "Distant terrain / Water". Click on the button "Generate". Deselect "Distant terrain / Water". In "Textures", select "Generate Diffuse Textures" and "Generate Normal Textures". Do not modify the option "Source textures only". Click on the button "Generate". Deselect "Generate Diffuse Textures" and "Generate Normal Textures". In "Meshes", select "Static objects". Click on the button "Generate". In "Meshes", deselect "Static objects" and select "Trees". Click on the button "Generate". Once done, in "Tools", click on the button "Clear Scratch Files". Now that everything is done, delete the copy you made of your plugin and you used to generate the LOD. Carry on working on your mod using the original plugin. IIc - Finalisation The following files have been generated: - in the Data directory, "lodsettings" folder: a file named after your world space with the extension .LOD, - in the Data directory, "meshes" folder: a "Terrain" directory containing a folder named after your world space containing all the necessary data (.BTR files). - in the Data directory, "textures" folder: a "Terrain" directory has also been created but it's incomplete. To complete it, you must go to the Source folder, the one that you placed in Steam/SteamApps/common directory, next to the Skyrim folder when you extracted the archive. In this Source folder, open the DDSTextures folder, select the "Terrain" directory, cut it and paste it into the Data/Textures directory. Replace and merge each time Windows asks for it. IId - Note If your landscape shows black stripes in the distance, this is due to the normal maps not being correctly generated. Fixing this requires opening each of the normal maps (textures that have "_n" in their name) in an image editor and fill them with the same green colour they are made of, until all the lines (cell borders) in them disappear. III - Releasing the mod On releasing your mod, you'll have to put the following folders in your archive: - lodsettings and it's content, - meshes, containing only the terrain folder and it's content, - textures, containing the terrain folder. In this terrain folder, only the folder named after your world space must be added to your archive. Here you go!
  27. 3 points
    Since the article is incredibly long, I've hosted it on my website. Common Modding Questions If your question isn't answered, you can post it below and I'll try to answer. Please note that I don't know anything about mesh or texture creation so I can't help you with that. If you know a question a lot of people have been asking and you know the solution, feel free to post both below.
  28. 3 points

    From the album FPI Research

    Compare the pictures carefully. Note that the stars have moved and glowing symbols of the magic schools have appeared. That's right! This one has an animated UV map and an animated glow shader, thanks to a lot of head banging trying to figure out the Target Variable numbers for the BSLightingShaderFloatController. (The NifSkope help is all wrong on that one.) It was all done in NifSkope, and quite easy once I knew how to point the controller to the right variable.
  29. 2 points
    Alright, good news, everything went by me before any tornados formed.
  30. 2 points
    This is a fun little YouTube channel I accidentally stumbled upon. It's about excellent writing advice.
  31. 2 points
    And by that I assume you mean they're a bunch of dragon-slaying, devil elf slaughtering conquerors who took a break from being badasses up north just long enough to save the Cyrods from slavery and help them create another Empire? But seriously, the Nords have Nordified Cyrodiil way more than vice versa. That's why the gods mostly came from them. I honestly don't buy that this happened. The Imperials were never able to impose greatly on Nordic traditions before the time jump. As of Oblivion, Cyrodiil has tried and failed to bring more of their own influences north, and the Nords have stubbornly resisted. Not long after that, the Empire totally collapsed and lost its control over everyone. The Medes didn't start to pick up the pieces until decades later, and even then they never had he influence that the Septims did. What kind of sense does it make for the Nords -who resisted Imperial influence under the Septims, who thy respected- to suddenly worship that culture under the Medes, who they have no real reason to care about? I think it's just a matter of Bethesda sucking at depicting the cultures the way they write them. This would seem like a cop-out answer in defense of the Nords if not for the fact that they have a history of doing so, and even with their last TES game in Oblivion, the Cyrods had almost no discernible identities or cultures, despite there being plenty of contemporary lore that said otherwise. I have to hope that even Bethesda aren't so scared of consequences that they would see why it would be poor writing to destroy yet another game region after having us save it. It worked well with Morrowind and even Oblivion because the events of both those games heavily foreshadowed uncertainty and impending doom. Skyrim, no matter who you side with in the war, has a much more optimistic ending. Doing it again would just be lazy. "What's the fine in Cyrodiil for necrophilia? ... just asking." "Is it the first offense?" "Let's assume no." "Then its at least five hundred gold." "That's nothing compared to Morrowind! Thanks!" Bethesda likes their creepy necro jokes.
  32. 2 points
    At least they portrayed the Nords correctly.... If I was in person I couldn't hold a straight face while saying that.
  33. 2 points
    "The launch of The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is just a few weeks away, and today, we're happy to announce that PC and Mac players who purchase the Digital Upgrade version of ESO: Morrowind will have the option to begin their adventures in Vvardenfell a little early on Monday, May 22! This means you'll be able to play the full game on the live megaservers beginning on May 22 and will retain all progression when the game officially launches in June. In addition, all PC and Mac players will be able to download Update 14 containing the fixes and improvements to the base game patch and DLC game packs on May 22 as well." Aahhh shiiittt I get to play next Monday boys!
  34. 2 points
    Tumblrinas love him? I mean, I know they like him as a villain but I usually see them saying Dagoth Ur is only loved because he's a man and yadya.
  35. 2 points
    But... but Vivec betrayed him! Lol
  36. 2 points
    I agree completely. As for his followers, well for one House loyalty is a bid deal in Morrowind. Many would stand by him to the bitter end simply because they are essentially his kin, his clansmen. Their families have been together since they were Chimer. Then there is the Blight, and what it does to people's minds. Lots of his followers are as batshit crazy as he is.
  37. 2 points
    I feel really bad for Dagoth Ur (Considering the Tribunal lied about everything, and Dagoth was the only one loyal to Nevervaine, and was trying to do what he commanded), but I think its safe to say the guys gone totally bonkers by the time of Morrowind, and all the power from the heart, and isolation has totally corrupted him. I don't know why he has so many followers.
  38. 2 points
    Extreme tree hippies that would rather eat your roasted balls than eat a pair of grapes.
  39. 2 points
    I didn't mind that, it kinda explains his character. That's a big deal to men, especially in a society like theirs. And by "please a woman" they mean he can't get a boner at all, because he's cripple. Much bigger deal than she wont go O.
  40. 2 points
    Good tastes though. Dinosaurs and Romans are pretty legit
  41. 2 points
  42. 2 points
    Yes I'm well passed the Grim Trials and Ragna's birth. The whole Riften arc was wonderful, and it made me hate the Black-Brairs more than I already do. The High Rock Civil war was some of the best battle writing so far and the perspectives were great. When Theo thought about how he engineered the Battle at Evermore I was shocked at the skill and cleverness BT is able to apply to the man. BT is really making me a fan of Bretons TBH. And when Theo announced his secession and booted Legate Montrose out of High Rock I was again equally shocked.
  43. 2 points
    Aw man I wish there was mods that added what these videos talk about, Realistic city defenses are nearly a fetish
  44. 2 points
    Hi everyone! A few months ago, my husband decided to randomly dig through his old games and started playing TES5 SE. I watched the intro and was hooked, so he installed the original TES5 on my laptop for me. I had previously modded outfits in the SIMS 4, so once I'd gotten bored with the ingame clothing, I set out in search of mods and way thrilled to see the vibrant modding community. The ability to create quests is something I always loved about Star Trek Online's Foundry (a MMORG with user generated content) and I have previously created several Foundry Missions and been an active member of that community, but had recently decided to take a break for a while. TES5 is great, but I soon found it's a million times more awesome with mods and thanks to Campfire/Frostfall/iNeed/Bathing in Skyrim and others, I was soon able to find the perfect balance between RP, Simming, and action/adventure. Right now, I'm finishing up my first real mod, a lore friendly bath house. I was super excited last night, as I finally got all my scripts to work, making it fully functional and interactive. More to come soon!
  45. 2 points
    You're welcome Yes there is, but not for the new Skyrim SE yet. http://skse.silverlock.org/
  46. 2 points
    A few of the characters I've created wanted to say hello, too! :-)
  47. 2 points
    It would be really cool if they sent mercenaries after you. Although I could see how that would upset some people that don't want to be funneled toward the main quest. Maybe I need to murder some people on the down low. Since my character is a bit of an asshole he might take exception to some insult. But that seems risky. I guess I'll just have to avoid killing fiends and such. I have taken to letting ED-E kill ghouls, because of the karma. He mows them down pretty easily so I don't have to worry much. The NCR's expansionist tendencies are alarming enough that I like to go with House. Wild Card feels too anarchic and destabilizing, and Caesar's Legion isn't even really an option in my mind. I flip flop on House versus NCR. Mostly because I don't like House's authoritarianism, but I think letting the NCR regroup a bit and chill will help them in the long run. Plus, it'd suck to lose someone like House if you're rebuilding the world.
  48. 2 points
    The Wayward Scribe As the faint darkness descended in the room, slowly being consumed by red light, a static singing voice echoed across the room, coming from the rather rough looking junk box, the shafts of light reflecting the large dust gathering up in the room. "I thought you died alone a long, long time ago." The man snuggled closer to his pillow. He was awake, but he pretended to himself that he wasn’t. He hated getting up from his warm, comfortable bed. He would very much rather let the vermilion embrace of twilight fill him once more, and the dreary rush of sleep sink him to the depths of his dreams. Whenever he was in his warm bed, he would much rather stay in it. It mattered not when. Inside the warm embrace of his blanket, the man didn’t have to worry about the struggles and tragedies of the real world. Things he was getting sick of. Besides, when he slept, he could avoid, both the physical, and mental pain. Same with while you dreamt. It was place where you could be anything, and do anything. Or even live in a part of time we’re your life didn’t suck. Ironically, the subconscious was a pretty good hiding spot. Alas, what made a dream, a dream, was the fact you needed to wake up from it. Right now, in his mournful thoughts he was dreaming. “Oh, not me! I never lost control!” ****, now I sound like one of those emo teens. At that revelation, the man opened his cold grey eyes, and yawned loudly, stretching. He quickly threw off his blanket, and got out of his bed. Kingsized, the man made sure to enjoy the finer things of apocalyptic life. The linens were made of surprisingly good (as in tattered) fabric, the stock of good (former) radiated oak, and the mattress soft and comfortable. Costed him some hefty coin, but his sore back deserved some relief once in awhile. It's not like he was short on money, so there was no reason to be cheap. If anything, he was moderately wealthy by wasteland standards. Getting on the solid, wooden floor, the man began to stretch, first reaching up to the sky, and reaching back down to his toes, which began to ache in contact with the hardwood. With a yelp, he felt his back snap, as relief soon filled him. It was always good to do your morning stretches, his old ma used to say. Her words still echoed inside his mind, even after she had been stinking beneath the earth for a good thirty years. Good riddance to that bitch. Sheepishly, the tired man walked forward to the small vanity, and large mirror beside his bed. The glass itself was cracked, creating a distorted mirror image. Who was the stranger beyond the mirror? The man asked himself half jokingly. He gave into his childish desires, and analysed the person before him in the shattered mirror. Middle Aged. Grey hair mingled with brown. Not a bad face, besides the scars. Cold, boring grey eyes. Short, well done beard. Pretty well built. Quite handsome, I may add. The man chuckled, as he grabbed a comb from the vanity, and began to tidy up his messy bed hair, humming the tune that went along with the song from his junkbox, the brown hair mingled with grey strands. Gotta look presentable. “You’re face, to face, with the Man Who Sold The World.” The song finished, and the junkbox began to screech a metallic sound, as it started to play another lament, “Can you see me now? You’re just a phantom of my past…” The man’s voice changed, as he started to sing along with the voice over the junkbox, conforming to the new song playing in the background. He brushed aside his hair for a good two minutes, before he reached down and pulled out a small roll of floss, discarding the plastic comb, he opened up his mouth, and began to get in between the gums to remove plaque, and other parasites inside his mouth. Hygiene was pretty important. Especially in the times of the mother ******* beast. Plague and disease was sure to run rampant, in these comparatively poor conditions. He continued to list traits of the man who gazed at him, beyond the mirror, as he cleaned his teeth (toothpaste was too rare and expensive) Lovely singing voice. Wit of Loki. Genius of Da Vinci. Prosthetic right hand. The man lifted up his robotic hand, as his gaze fell from the mirror, to the interesting piece of machinery he wore. Red in color, it reflected a sheen, as black intermingled with the crimson color. It ended in a square hand, with five, crimson robotic fingers, the index finger, larger than the others. A carving, of a cartoon pig wearing an eyepatch sat in the middle, alongside several notched mark, made by a combat knife. A kids drawing, alongside kill counts. He pushed the string, in between his flesh hand and robotic one careful not to cause his gums to bleed, only stopping when he was sure he had gotten all the bad stuff. He put his ball of floss down, and moved to the other side of the room, towards a large drawer. He opened the top part, and removed a pair of grey fatigued combat pants, instantly putting them on. He went into another drawer, and pulled out a green tank top, once more, wasting no time to put it on, before retrieving a pair of black long socks, sitting down on his bed for a moment, to put them on. Thought leaving those damn fanatics would allow me to dress better. Guess ******* not. The man went a few steps away, and to a big oak closest. He opened it, which revealed an assortment of clothing, armor, and weapons. First he grabbed a pair of iron dog tags from a small knob attached to to the back of the closet door. The mans far farsightedness made it damn near impossible to read without getting a splitting headache, but he did so anyway, reading the carved words, out loud, even though he was alone. “John Edmonton. Serial Number 12349. Brotherhood of Steel, Iron Company. Semper Invicta.” John Edmontons voice was coarse, and rough. Not the voice you would expect from a from a former scribe, but its not like he could change his voice. He wasn’t quite sure why he kept them, the dog tags. Perhaps as a reminder of the past. Or maybe it was just a mockery of what he left behind, and how much he had savored doing so. John had always liked messing with people's head, and he still imagined the face of his commanding officers when they found out what he had exactly done. John placed the dog tags, attached to a steel chain, around his neck like a necklace, as was customary before reaching in, and grabbing a large, kevlar vest. The black protective vest was reinforced by steel plating, which the ex-soldier had added himself. Sure it was primitive compared to Combat Armor, but was much, much cheaper to maintain. He had money, but not limitless amounts. And hell, it could still stop a bullets bite, and even the thrust of combat knife. The only people he knew around her whom had non conventional firepower was himself, and the Brotherhood garrison. Small arms fire would be stopped. And you never knew if today was the day some psycho was going to try and shoot you up John placed it over his tanktop, and did up the vest. Before once more, putting his metallic hand inside the closest, the machinery buzzing as he moved it. On the right side of the closest, lay a normal looking combat knife, and a much bigger tactical machete, the two sitting right beside the other. Knowing how over excessive it would be (unless he was carving up his favorite meat), John grabbed the Combat Knife, alongside a leather belt, which he placed on his waist, before sticking the steel knife and attaching it onto the brown belt, right beside the leather gun holster that sat beside it His hands reached to the left side of the wooden closest, grasping the strange looking firearm that lay there. Using his prosthetic hand, he gripped the repeating rifles butt, bringing it forth, and raised it into the sky, letting the twilight sky shine down upon it. It was a Mare's Leg, a custom; sawed-off Winchester Rifle. The gun was made from black iron, and its stock, American Walnut, glossy and polished. The weapons barrel was cut down, but still allowed it to fire off long distances, and its relativity light weight made it easy to carry around and fire. It fired 45.Colt rounds (which he laced with poison). The Lever Action weapon combined the compact ability of a large pistol, with the speed of a rifle, perfect for his needs. He had received the beautiful weapon from his father, and had carried it ever since, even during the days when he was part of those tin knights. He flourished the gun with his metallic arm (which any good marksmen would say was inappropriate at best, utterly stupid at worst.) wielding it it one hand, before he pretended to reload the gun with the lever located just in front of the trigger. He pushed back, and let the gun fall closer to himself, so his robotic index finger now sat on the trigger. He pulled the trigger. Nothing happens but a clicking noise. Normally, for someone like John, when he did infact fire for real, the recoil could hurt his arm pretty bad, but that problem was non existence by the strength afforded to him by his red prosthetic, one of the very reasoned he had his real arm replaced, and replaced by robotics. Sacrilege to them. The fanatics knights. Oh sure, they wouldn't bate an eye if a Paladin had his arm blown off by a super mutants rocket launcher, and shoved a robotic arm into the fleshy stump, but willing tearing off flesh, and replacing it with machinery would no doubt be taboo. Pure, untainted flesh was sacred. As was the purity of the human gene. Manipulating either would get a quick demotion at best, a bullet to the back of the head at worst. Narrow minded idiots. "Semper Invicta motherfucker." He said out loud, Snarling, John did one more quick draw with his gun, before putting into its leather holster, which was made from salamander hide. He reached one more time into the closest, retrieving a a box of 45. magnum, bullets, which he emptied into a pouch on his belt, and a grey cloth long coat. It was half way in between a pea coat, and a trench coat. Couldn't find an old air force styled bomber jacket in all the years he had been here (not on any trader anyway), so he had to make do with something more traditional. It looked almost exactly what an old school general would wear, like some he had seen from pre-war photos, or paintings. He placed it over bullet proof vest, and began to button up the jacket, which hide his combat knife, Mare's Leg, and the vest itself. Right getting fully dressed, he made a move to close the wooden closest door with his red hand, but stopped himself. Forgetting a few things. He reached in, to the back shelf, and grabbed a small pack of cigarettes. The box itself depicted a sexy looking vault girl, wearing a skimpy vault tech suit, but the man paid no mind. If this was being realistic, she should have looked like a crackwhore. He didn't really care for the lust vices of the old world. Hell, the box should have depicted a depressing looking man, with black, disgusting lungs, because that's what happens when you smoke these ****ty, but oh so glorious things. Tar filled, and unfiltered too. He placed the cigerattes inside his inner jacket pocket, and reached deeper, to retrieve something in the back. A white, circular object A live grenade. Never knew when you were attacked by giant salamanders. The grenade itself was pale as a ghost, the white paint long tarnished. Its pin was locked on tightly, and faded streaks of yellow paint emerged from the side. Red letters were painted on its front "M 34 WP SMOKE", identifying it as a White Phosphorus grenade. Debating with himself for a good moment, the man put it back inside his closest. On second though, don't think i'll need this today. And with that, he closed the closest door. Behind him, playing on his junkbox, more music echoed. A stab of pain suddenly assailed, and rocked John. Screaming a low growl, John fell to one knee and gripped his chest hard, immense sweat forming on his brow, and soaking the rest of his body. He gently touched his forehead, only to feel its wetness. The pain was sharp, and unending, like a wave crashing against the rocks. Coughing madly, onto the ground, blood spilled forth from his mouth. Rushing forward to the side of his bed, he opened up the vanity, grabbing a bright red syringe. He pressed the injector to his neck, the syringe already piercing him, and pressed the button at the end of it. A more direct pain emerged, which was suddenly consumed by sweet soothing relief a second later. He breathed in a sigh of fresh air, before getting up from the ground, the pain leaving his body. The music echoed behind him "The days that just keep on coming The stain that they leave I wish I could break this casket But I'm left here to grieve In a world of my own design As I become more present now I can't see through the pain A hollow cut through my veins (the shadows takes their toll) And did you leave me anything? You're the phantom of my past... Do you expect me to last, this way? (a scar and a phantom pain)" He took a minute to listen to the music. Afterwords, his flesh hand reached for the silver spectacles on the vanity beside his bed, and placed the pair of glasses over his face. Quickly, he grabbed a pair of dress shoes, and put them on, taking only a few seconds to tie the laces, as he continued to hum a tune. Before leaving the room, he gazed into the cracked mirror once more, the previous song echoing in his head, You're face, to face with the man who sold the world. A playful smile appeared on his lips, before he muttered his personal motto, "Abyssus abyssum invocat..." **** Oh my ******* head... Cancer was like the dark demons of the infenuem. Only made of science, instead of maccarbe magic. It invaded you're body, consumed it, tortured it, converted you're cells into whatever good inside was turned bad, it made it weak, physically and spiritually, until the host would loose all hope. The blackest of ailments. Right now it was giving him the worst ******* headache in existence. Not even in his serum could relieve the certain effects of this attack. At least his insides weren't exploding in pain. He sat on a wooden stool, on his black oak bar, the only person there. The bar itself was very large, easily able to accommodate fifty or more people. It was usually quite busy, but not today it seemed. Only a few other people lingered around on tables, instead of the usual large gathering of folks the only bar in the community brought. Dark whispers hung on the air, as rumors of Brotherhood soldiers looting towns, and terrorist attacks against armored patrols were getting more and more common. John ignored them, and paid them no heed. If they were true, which he somewhat doubted, he didn't really give a shit. The Brotherhood wasn't the type to go around sacking towns. Dont get him wrong, his opinion on them was only slightly better then a big group of organised raiders, but they didn't act like that. Didn't mean they couldn't be dicks while being orderly, and efficient. For apparent paragons of humanity, there no better then the ******* Nazis. A voice brought him out of his contemplation. "'Look whose up. What awakened the bossman from his beauty sleep?" It was really late. At least six o clock. John had been..."working" very late last night, and ended up going to sleep at 7 o clock in the morning. The voice belonged to a pretty looking woman beyond the bar. She wasn't beautiful, or even striking, but her face was very easy to look at. Bright green eyes, and a tired brow, that didn't go well with her young skin, Aveline Curio dropped a large bowl infront of John. She had a really thick southern accent, and wore a pair of blue jeans, and a loose checker top. He didn't even think she was originally from these parts, came from Texas, or so had been told, before she had bought this joint. "Isn't it customary to provide a paying customer a menu, Avy?" "I already know this is the only shit you eat, John. And besides, you aint a customer, you're my boss." John's gaze fell down to the large, ceramic bowl. A steaming bowl of ramen noodles. Inside the steamy broth, a mix of spices, including hot chilly powder, ghost peppers grounded, a thyme withered, and stewed. Alongside the noodles, large chunks of roasted salamander, the local menance, lingered, still blazing hot. A bright smile formed on his lips. The taste that made The Drunken Hospitller famous never got ******* old. The lucky bastard had discovered the mother ******* Holy Grail in the ruins of the old world! The smile extended forward, as he was about to partake in the holy liquid when... ...the ghost of Sir Galahad manifested inside the room, and cruelly drew his saber, robbing the washed up soldier his taste of the grail... Or...in layman's turn, his bowl of glorified instant noodles was pushed to the side, and another bowl was summoned from the depths of hell. A bowl of vegetables. A snarl formed on John's face, as he turned around to face his foe. Aveline placed her hands to hips, and said, "Don't give me that face. Eat you're ******* vegetables first, then you can have my secret soup." He slammed his robotic fist on the counter, "What sorcery is this?!" "It's called eating healthy, fuckwit. Until you're dead in five years, you'e going to have a proper diet! And don't even think of saying no!" John sulked, as he began to chew down on the lettuce. Thank god it was pretty fresh. He muttered grumpily as he ate the green leafs, "What do yo think I am, a bloody rabbit?!" Her eyes opened in confusion, "What's a rabbit?" He choked down more of the green stuff. The guy already exercised vigorously despite his condition, which was going to kill him sooner then latter. Why did he have to eat these stupid greens? He said, his mouth filled with lettuce, "A demon from ancient Babylon." "I aint even going to pretend what the **** that is." A customer approached the bar, which drew her attention away as she began pouring a drink of whiskey for them. By the side of his dinner, was an opened bottle of Nuka Cola. Greedily, he grabbed the thing, and began to guzzle it down like a mad man. He polished at least seven a day. Pretty unhealthy, and this was coming from a person who refused to eat his greens commonly. They say when Cancer progressed, you loose you appetite, but in John's case, it was the exact opposite. He had never been more hungry. Seeing that her attention was drawn, John smirked, bringing forth from his jacket pocket, a cigarette. Placing, as he called, the "deathstick" in his mouth, he lifted his robotic hand into the air. Putting his robotic, index finger between his fake finger, John snapped. Half of the thumb collapsed, revealing a jet, which extended a small flame coming from the broken robot finger. A built in lighter, of his own make. He brought the tiny flame towards his mouth, and lit the cigarette's tip, as second before breaking the finger back into proper place. Breathing in a mouthful of fumes, the ex soldier let the fumes stay in his mouth, before pushing them out with an exhale. Aveline reappeared, now wearing a cooking apron. She once again placed her hands to her hips, and yelled "What the **** are you doing?" "What does it look like." He coolly responded, "Blackening my lugs, and filling them with shit." He breathed in another mouthful of smoke, blowing it out. She just swore angrily, and stormed off back into the kitchen, leaving John alone. Guilt stabbed inside him, as he frowned. He felt genuinely bad, Sorry for being a dick Avy. You shouldn't waste you'e effort on me. I'm a dead man walking. He took another swing of his nuka cola bottle, taking the cigarette out of his mouth. He finished his bowl of greens, and began to slurp up a mouthful of noodles. The bartender angrily stormed back behind the counter, carrying a cigar of her own inside her mouth. John always preferred Cigarettes, not about taste really. They were just damn cheaper. Aveline pushed forward, leaning across the bar. Without a thought, he snapped his robotic hand, causing a the small flame to jet upwards, lighting the cigars tip, right before putting it back into place. Aveline joined him in smoking, John took his cigarette out of his mouth, as he took out a small, metal cylinder from his jacket. He opened the cylinder with a click, and deposited the cigarette inside, closing it, and saving the cigarette for latter, the smoke barely managing to escape right before he closed it. Going back to his meal, John began to devour more noodles like a starving man. "So, hear about the latest attack?" She quietly said, leaning across the bar. Quickly, underneath his spectacles, John's eyes darted to the clock atop the bar, which read "645 PM", which was indeed her break time. Aveline was very organised, if nothing else, thanks to that pip boy she wore on her hand. John preferred old fashioned terminals, and PDA's, but he fully appreciated the pip boy for its effectiveness. He didn't appreciate how much it costed her, though. "I've heard about nothing but attacks all week. Which one?" He coolly said, stirring the noodles within his bowl "Big explosion." Aveline said, in response, "People have been talking about it all day." "Another fireworks festival unleashed on some poor ghouls by the Brotherhood?" He asked, with vague interest in his grey eyes. The Bar Tender shook her head, "Not this time. I heard it was against the Brotherhood." She paused, "You think it could have been terrorists?" "By the Brotherhood, you mean "civvies right?" He said with dark sarcasm. He rolled his eyes, before saying, "Probably. Though "terrorist", and "freedom fighter" has always been blurred. Probably fuckheads part of some "militia" "So terrorists?" She asked, "Yep." He simply said. "Bastards." By now, both of there voices were low whispers. Aveline frowned, as her pretty face twisted. "So those Ghouls cant retaliate for their kind being treated like slaves, and slaughtered by the Brotherhood?" John's voice hardened, as he continued to eat his noodles, using the wooden chopsticks quite deftly, "I dont know how blowing up a dozen civvies count as a moral retaliation Avy." The Bartender crossed her arms, "So you're defending the Brotherhood? I thought you hated them." "I hate them." He said simply. Though his face betrayed no rage, his voice filled with fury. A silent, melancholic fury. He continued, taking another big gulp of his Nuka Cola bottle, " I hate how they treat mutants like animals. I hate their self righteous. I hate how their a perversion of everything they claim to be. And yet I know their alternative. You've always lived in civilization, Avy. You don't know what's it in the cold dark of the wasteland." John closed his eyes, and left the sounds of the bar fill him, "The Brotherhood is a lesser evil. Trust me on that. Until something better springs up, we're stuck with them." He placed his hands on the bars oak counter, "We dont even know if these attacks are being instigated by ghoul supporters. The Brotherhood has many enemies, yes. Many resistance groups oppose them at the moment. But those groups ideologies are so fractured, and different, its impossible they all have the same agenda. Some of them might even hate mutants just as much as the Brotherhood. They are united against the Brotherhood at the moment." A cruel grin appeared on his lips, "But they'll turn on each other. That is the natural order of things. If the Brotherhood ever leaves the picture, they'll squabble until they exterminate one another. After all. War. War never changes. Even worse, they wont have a plan on how to govern things around these parts, and once more. Poof. Civilization is gone. Would have to pack up and go to NCR controlled lands." He snorted, "I'd rather die of cancer then ******* be taxed to death, so no thank you." He opened up his eyes, bringing up his robotic arm, and gazed upon it. The red metal. The black stripes. The sounds it made when he moved it Part of him was machine, yes. But he was still human. Just as human as a brotherhood paladin. Just as human as some Ghoul squatting in a a labor camp, or a super mutant being escorted to what's amounted to a glorified concentration camp The Brotherhood was certainly wrong about most things. But they provided security to a very large group of innocent people. The evil they did, was outweighed by the good he supposed. Even if he had abandon them, there was no reason to oppose them. Not yet anyway. John's gaze fell down to his bowl of noodles. Which was empty. Aveline, who had been silent for the last minute just snorted, "Suppose you want seconds..." John nodded, "Yes please, ma'em." Aveline started to mutter something underneath her breath, as she made her way to the kitchen, grabbing his bowl, ready to refill it. John, closed his eyes, and started to sing, "You're face. To face. With the Man Who Sold the World..."
  49. 2 points
    Albecias Plebo The Talos Plaza District Afternoon The self-professed greatest writer in the Imperial City (since Magdela Bathory was presumably in Skingrad) was overjoyed. Elder Councilor Serivus Marillan had contacted him to interview the last remaining Black-Briar, after Riften was destroyed. Which meant he would get the exclusive story, and not any of those others fools at the Black Horse Courier. He needed this story, to make up for missing out on the High Rock secession one. Claude Vatrine personally knew the legate who was kicked out of High Rock, so that story was his. But now this would put him back on top, make him the premier reporter as well as writer. And it was fortunate that this interview came while he was stuck in his investigation of the soul binding and that letter. He was waiting on his contact in the Synod to get him access to the Synod archives, which would hopefully turn something up about Snow-Strider. Although now that he knew High General Ceno was behind the secretive letter, he was unsure if he wanted to continue. He reasoned it out, though, that discovering Ceno was behind the letter, as well as discovering as much as he could about Snow-Strider, could give him leverage over both of them. Regardless, he knew at some point he would need to confront the High General, but not until he had all the information he could get. Currently, those thoughts were in the back of Albecias’s mind, as he walked into the courtyard of Councilor Marillan’s manor. He straightened his red and gold doublet, and dusted off his black pants, as he entered the well-maintained garden. Two guards, clad in steel armor and both looking quite hardened, stood on either side of the doorway into the manor itself. After he introduced himself, they admitted him, and told him to wait in the main room for Sibbi. The wait was not long. Before Albecias had even made it to the plush couch at the center, the Skyrim noble arrived through a door at the far side of the room. It was immediately obvious that this man was a noble of Skyrim rather than Cyrodiil. His black hair and beard were both grown long and drawn together into a single knot each, and the dark blue-and-red clothing he wore ended just past the shoulders, leaving his hairy arms bare despite it being the middle of winter. On the right one he wore a silver band that was lined with foreign runes, and on his belt there were three medallions to match. All-in-all, this man could not be mistaken for a commoner, but he could not be mistaken for an Imperial either. As Sibbi Black-Briar approached, he gave Albecias a curt nod. "You must be Albecias Plebo," he said in the thick, lilted accent of the Nords, "I appreciate that you were willing to come so quickly." Albecias returned the nod, and gave a friendly smile. "And I appreciate your invitation. I look forward to relating your tragic story to Cyrodiil, as best I can." "As long as you tell it true, I am content." replied the Nord. "It has not even been a month, and yet I have already heard rumors of what happened, some of them completely false. It will be good to set the record straight. Is there anywhere in particular that you want me to begin?" "May we sit? I wish to hear the long version, so that I may know these events nearly as well as you. I would like to start with who the two sides of this fight were, since my information may be based on those rumors. As you said, I want to keep a straight record." "Then that's where I'll begin." Sibbi sat in a straight-backed wooden chair, while Albecias took his own seat at the couch he had preciously been moving for. "I was surprised to hear that one of the claims being made of the conflict at Riften was that there were more than two important parties involved. In truth, it boiled down to those loyal to Riften, and those who wished to tear our city down. My own family stood by the Jarl, as we always have, and did everything that we could to help preserve peace and order in the city. Those who opposed us consisted of bandits and thieves, led by the worst of them all, a traitor by the name of Boldir Iron-Brow. He was never so well-known that you'd have heard his name in Cyrodiil, but there are plenty of Stormcloaks who considered this man both a brother and a war hero, Baldur Red-Snow himself being the most famous among them." The writer was quick to copy down the gist of Sibbi's explanation, though he stopped when Baldur's name was mentioned. His smile took on an impish quality, and he asked, "This bandit leader, Boldir Iron-Brow, was a friend of Skyrim's High General? Just how close were they? Are, they?" "Are they?" Black-Briar shrugged, "I have no idea. I cannot imagine a leader of Skyrim like Red-Snow taking kindly to the burning of a holdfast, though. All I know is that the two fought together during the Civil War, and that they were apparently friends going into the conflict that followed, where they fought together against the Thalmor in Falkreath. By all accounts they were so close that they were often mistaken for kin." "What drove a man who was, as you've said, nearly a war hero, to turn bandit? One does not burn down a city lightly, I would think." "What drives any man to do something terrible?" said Sibbi, "Greed is the typical answer, and that is probably correct for most of the men who followed him." Sibbi paused, his eyes staring intently into the fire as he seemingly collected his thoughts. "But I don't think it was greed that drove Boldir Iron-Brow to destroy Riften. There was animosity between him and my late grandmother, Maven. This I know from her own lips. According to her, Boldir deserted from the Legion a little over two decades ago. This happened shortly after he raped my cousin and killed her father. Remember, I cannot confirm this, for I was a boy at the time, but something had to have happened, for Maven never forgot the man." Sibbi's eyes turned from the fire and met with Albecias's. "I will not deny my grandmother's actions that followed. She pursued him. Hired sellswords, bribed guards in the hopes that someone could find him. It was to no avail, though, for she never did. Two decades passed, and the Boldir she knew was forgotten by everyone but her and her alone. I do not know what happened between the two of them, or if Boldir shared the same level of hatred for her that she did for him, but I do know that his return to Riften was unprovoked and unexpected. And the war he waged on our city was one that we could not have been prepared for." "Personal feuds can drive some to go to the ends of the earth to exact revenge. It seems, based on your story, that may have been Iron-Brow's motive. It's a shame, though, that your grandmother isn't here to say what his original motive for rape and murder was." Albecias seemed sad, though the frown didn't teach his eyes, which were somewhat gleeful. "Now, I think my readers would like to know your personal story. What part did you play in protecting Riften? How did you and your loyal men escape?" "It is well known that my family was close to the Jarl's own. She came to us for help in recruiting fighters to help ward off the bandits, so that's what I did. I hired mercenaries to bolster the Riften guard, and led them myself. My men and I were among those who attacked Boldir and his bandits at the bandit fortress known as Faldar's Tooth, some miles west of the city. Unfortunately, we did not expect the bandits to be as great in numbers as the were. The battle was a loss, and I was gravely wounded." Sibbi pulled back his tunic at the neck, revealing a faint scar near his collar. "The men who accompany me now are the same ones who dragged me to safety. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes again was the smoke rising over Riften. "You and your men sound very brave indeed, to attack a bandit fortress. How many bandits did he have under his control, that he could defeat the soldiers of Riften and your mercenaries?" "Any Nord would do the same for his homeland." the noble said with a frown. "Remember that death in battle is not so feared in Skyrim as it is elsewhere. As for the bandits, I cannot be sure. There may have been a hundred in the fortress at the most. But as we neared victory, hundreds, maybe even thousands more came out of the woods and fell upon us. We were caught outnumbered and unawares." "Yes, it will be good to remind the readers of your Nordic customs, especially your fearlessness in battle. Though, I don't think many would have forgotten since the civil war there. But what of the citizens of Riften, and the jarl? Did those same hundreds of bandits kill them all, or were there survivors when you came south?" "Every day I pray to the gods for an answer to that question. As I said before, Riften was aflame when I awoke after the battle. If anyone escaped, I was not there to witness it." "What about Iron-Brow, might he have escaped? And if so, do you fear he might come here? "After seeing what he's capable of, I have no doubt in my mind that he still lives. As for whether or not he'll come here," Sibbi's eyes showed a brief flicker of nervousness, "I can not imagine a reason for him to do so. He has taken much of my wealth. And I pose him no threat from Cyrodiil. Even so... I hope that he does. I long for the opportunity to meet the man who wiped out my family and destroyed my home. I would speak to him before his execution, so I could ask him 'why'. Maybe then we can finally learn the full story." "Let us hope this monster does come to justice, whether it be here or in Skyrim. But as for you, what are your plans here in Cyrodiil? How will you rebuild your family's legacy outside your homeland?" "Riften always has been and always will be the home of the Black-Briar family, and that has not changed. This is not the first time Riften has been reduced to ashes. We will rebuild, and I will be there to see it through. You see, I have not come to Cyrodiil to hide from Iron-Brow and his ilk. No, I came here to represent Riften in its darkest hour. To ask for aid from all those who call themselves 'friend' to my family, the Rift, or even Skyrim herself. I want to show my people that Cyrodiil remains our friend, using deeds rather than words. Which is why I have come here to ask for assistance from every Imperial contact my family has made over the years, assistance in the forms of gold, materials, manpower, and whatever there is to offer that can help restore one of Skyrim's greatest jewels. Of course, this request that extends to all of Cyrodiil." The noble smiled a sad smile. "My family is gone. But my home remains. I intend to see it well again-" Sibbi was interrupted by a rather frantic knock at the door Albecias had come through. The noble's smile faded. "Apologies." he said, standing up. "This should not be long. You go ahead and finish writing all that down. I'll be right back." The Nord hurried to the door. Albecias did finish writing it down, and read over Sibbi's last quote. He doesn't strike me as the sentimental type. Though, he definitely has the connections to rebuild a city, Albecias thought, looking around the luxurious home of the Elder Councilor who was housing the last Black-Briar. A minute or so passed before the Nord returned. He looked troubled, angry even. "I am sorry," said Sibbi, "but we are going to have to end this interview early. Some very pressing matters have arisen that require my immediate attention. Do you have any questions to make in parting?" Albecias was taken aback, and let it show. "Oh, I see. Of course, if it is pressing, you must go. Yes, one final question. Will you be opening up a brewery here in Cyrodiil? I believe there is a large mead market in Bruma, Cheydinhal, and Chorrol." "That is my intent." Sibbi answered curtly, already backing away towards the door. "I apologize once more, Mister Plebo. Would that this could go on longer, and uh, see yourself to some wine on the way out." With that, the noble turned and left the room with hurried strides. Albecias huffed and packed his things away. What could possibly be so important that he would blow me off? Maybe Nords truly do lack for manners, Albecias thought. He made sure to help himself to some of the wine, though he wondered if Sibbi was acting on Councilor Serivus's authority here, or just giving the man's wine away. Albecias didn't much care, as the wine was absolutely delicious, so much so that he helped himself to a second glass. By the time he finished, one of the guards from outside had entered, evidently wondering what was taking the author so long. "Sorry, just finishing up," Albecias said. Impatient brute. "Oh, could you help me out. It seems I forgot to get a description of this Bolder Iron-Brow. Might you know what he looks like?" The mercenary scratched his gray beard. "He's a muscular fella. With dark hair and some burn scars on his left side. Oh, and about 'yay' high," the Nord was tall, as his people were like to be, but he held his hand out a good four or five inches above his own head. Albecias's eyes widened. "He's quite a giant. I should think he’d stand out in most any crowd." "I'd should think so." answered the mercenary. "Is there anything else you need to know before you leave?" "That's it, I believe," Albecias said. He bid a curt goodbye and walked back to his office, happy at the story he had.
  50. 2 points
    Boldir Falkreath Hold One week after Riften He traveled day and night, over the grown out forest trails of the snow-covered Rift and westward, into Falkreath. Mountains awaited him there, but low ones, nothing like the massive and treacherous Jeralls that dominated the south. When he crossed the ruins of Riften one last time, one of Chief Hrokvild's men informed him that they had tracked Sibbi's band into the gargantuan range, but were unable to follow on account of the storms. It made no matter to Boldir. He knew where Sibbi was going. He could only hope that his foes could make it safely through the mountains, for Mila's sake. The ride was slow and boring, with little to do besides sleep and reflect. Neither option ever ended well, and Boldir had a hard time deciding which was more painful. Every time he fell asleep, he dreamt of flames, hundreds dead, Stormcloaks, citizens... Carlotta. And when the sleep ended and Boldir's eyes were open, he was alone. His only company were his thoughts and memories, and of course, the voices. A year ago, Boldir had thought them an illusion of his own making, a way of coping with the things he had done. Now though, he was not so sure. When Carlotta whispered to him, however faint, he made out the words as clearly as he did the rustling of leaves or the whistling wind. When he spoke, aloud, in answer, his own voice could not be more clear. Boldir would have believed it to be his wife's spirit, had she been the only voice that spoke to him. Baldur had whispered as well. As had Mila, and Maven, and others from his past, long-forgotten. He did not will them to speak, nor permit them to. They just... did. Convinced as he was that the voices he heard were real, Boldir found little solace in their presence. Their their musings were not helpful in combating the emptiness that he felt now. Sure, he spoke to them, and they spoke back, but it was always brief, and the moment they stopped, he was reminded once more of just how alone he truly was. Boldir rode through Skyrim's countryside with a choir of ghosts. It was his seventh day on the road, hours after climbing out of the lower forests of the Rift, when a familiar sight appeared. Blue Stormcloak banners flapped in the wind atop tall battlements of Fort Neugrad. His old home. For the briefest of moments, Boldir's mind traveled beyond Riften, going back to a time before his decision to settle down. He had been a good soldier, natural even. Both conflicts at Falkreath had been great victories for Skyrim, and had played a part in that. I never should have left. "I gave you every chance." Baldur's voice said harshly, but not with anger. "You would have been a General, brother. A hero." "And I never would have married Carlotta. Never would have taken Mila to the Guardian stone in Eastmarch..." "Never would have ruined their lives." Maven interrupted. "Never would have betrayed your brothers, destroyed a city, and gotten her killed. Don't try to hide it all behind the few good things that you did for them. You turned out to be an even bigger monster than I was." Boldir didn't answer. She had made her point and vanished, taking his fleeting moment of nostalgia with her. The Stormcloaks at Fort Neugrad welcomed Boldir with wide grins and open arms. Of course they did. To some, he was an old friend. To others, he was a fairly well-known soldier, and with this weather, word of Riften would not likely reach them for weeks. His old friend Erik had been made the Commander of the garrison, and he would not allow Boldir to accept anything less than his own quarters for the night. "You had them first!" the blonde Nord laughed as one of the guards led Boldir's horses to the stable. "I've got to admit," Erik said as he led his former Captain through the old and familiar courtyard, "I didn't believe the scout at first when he said it was you. Didn't think you'd come back down here after the war, what with you being friends with General Red-Snow and all. But there wasn't any mistaking it when I saw you riding up, still big as ever. Tell me though, what happened to your face? I know there weren't no burn scars before? Pick a fight with a dragon?" Boldir had forgotten his new scars. "I-" "Actually, don't tell me. We'll save the storytelling for later. When we've got a pint in our hands and a fire near our feet." They entered the fort through the main doors and made a left down the halls past the armory. It was better stocked now than Boldir remembered. Some of the steel had a strange glint to it, with virtually no scratches, as if newly forged, but the wearing on the sword hilts suggested that they saw regular use. "Impressed?" asked Erik, apparently having noticed Boldir's gaze. "Those are Skyforge steel. We received a shipment almost a year ago. High King Ulfric does not intend to lose Pale Pass again. And get this. We got bunch of enchanted ones too. The magic only works at night, but they burn everything they hit. Apparently the folks up at Whiterun uncovered another magical forge. Lunar steel is the official name, but we call 'em moonblades. Word is that Ulfric's got the blacksmiths up there churning out weapons like a cloud churns snow." They passed through a cozy room with a hearth, where some of the guards were sitting at table playing a dice game. Boldir recognized some of the faces when they looked up and grinned. "It's an honor to see you, sir." said one as he passed. Another touched his fist to his chest. Boldir blinked. Now the soldier was backing away, a terrified expression written on his bloodied face as Iron-Brow brought his axe crashing into his skull. "Sir?" Boldir blinked again. The blood was gone, and the Stormcloak's eyes were weary, but not frightened. "I assume you know the way from here." Erikc asked, putting a hand on Boldir's shoulder. "Go. Rest, change, whatever you need to do. But I expect you to be in the dining hall this evening. We've got a lot of catching up to do, brother!" As they parted ways, Boldir heard Erik shouting at some underling down the halls. "Tell Sapski to crack open the Black-Briar reserve. Tonight we're dining with a hero!" Once in his old quarters, Boldir closed and locked the door behind him. The same bed that had awaited him for years during the war still did so now. The same dresser and chest lined the walls. The washbasin that had reflected his ugly mug back at him all that time ago now did so once again. Boldir scowled at himself, the burn across his left cheek stretching out as he did. "What?" he asked the reflection. It was his own, and yet... It seemed so angry, so judgmental. "WHAT?!" He flipped the basin over, sending it crashing to the floor and soaking the wall, and then turned to drive his fist into the dresser. The wood splintered, and when Boldir pulled away, his knuckles were smeared with blood. Sliding down to the floor, Boldir rested his head in his hands. "Are you still not over this?" he heard Maven ask. "Yes, you killed the Stormcloaks in the Rift, but they attacked you. Stood between you and your goal. Like most evils, it was necessary." He sat there quietly, eyes tightly closed. Maven's voice never lingered long. He prayed for Carlotta's instead. For encouraging words, kind, soft, or even angry. Anything to take his mind off of the Stormcloaks. Carlotta did not speak to him. Maven didn't either. When Boldir opened his eyes, he found his vision blurred. What's done is done, he told himself. And it can't be changed. Find Mila. That's your goal. It's all that matters now. It's all you can do to make things right. That evening, he greeted the commander in the dining hall smiling like an old friend. "It is good to see you, Erik." he said, taking a seat next to him at the closest long table to the fire. "I'd imagine you've many stories to tell since you became a Captain." "My command here has not been quite as exciting as yours or Baldur Red-Snow's, I'm afraid." Erik replied. "Neugrad hasn't seen a single famous battle or giant warrior cat since my promotion. In fact, besides the magical weapons, nothing interesting has happened here since the war. There were reports of a werewolf in the area last year, but nothing came of them." "There aren't any Grim Ones here." Boldir pointed out. "Surprising, given that this is their birthplace." Erik looked more than a little surprised at Boldir's comment. "I'd figured you've been off with High General Red-Snow all this time. Turns out you've been living under a rock instead. The Grim Ones have grown up. Baldur's restarted the whole process. He's created some entry trials. Most brutal in Tamriel. They say that one week of them is spent entirely in the Sea of Ghosts, treading freezing water and catching fish with your hands, and another you gotta fight full-grown bears while naked as the day you were born." Boldir chuckled at that. Knowing Baldur, he underwent the trials himself just to make sure it was possible. "I don't suppose there's been much of a success rate, then." "Oh but there has. Baldur sent out word across Skyrim. He's aiming for five hundred men, like Ysgramor of old, and apparently they're getting there. Toughest sons of whores in Tamriel, no doubt. I know I was one of the Grims back in the day, but make no mistake, any one of these bastards could chew me up and spit me out. Could probably even give you a run for your money. Ha!" Boldir nodded. If Baldur was recruiting, then he wouldn't likely be settling for anything less than the best Skyrim has to offer. He certainly hoped that he would never have to contend with them. "Have they seen combat?" "Well, word is that General Brund took a bunch of Grims and a bunch of bandits and broke the Forsworn in the Reach for good. But that don't really mach up with when Baldur started the trials, so my guess is he used old ones like you and me. First generation Grims who ain't been through the trials." Erik paused, "Hold on a second. If you haven't heard of the trials, then I guess you haven't heard about the shouting either, have you?" That lost Boldir. "The shouting?" "Yes, the shouting. As in, shouting shouting. Both of the Red-Snows can use the thu'um!" Boldir snorted. Fighting bears naked, and his best friends shouting magic. Tales grow stranger the farther you get from the events. "I think you should stop believing everything you hear, Erik." "No, I mean it! This one's a definite. Everyone's talking about the General breathing fire and the Admiral blowing wind!" Erik snickered. "I mean, blowing wind as in shouting like Ulfric does. Not-" "I get it." The news may as well have been that they had moved to Morrowind, for all the good it did him, and Boldir still wasn't convinced that it was true, but if by some chance it was, Boldir was proud to know that it was his two dearest friends who had achieved this great feat. Whatever the case, it was nice to know that things were going well for them, at least. "That is not the sort of news I was expecting. I'm happy for them." "You and me both. Now Skyrim's got three tongues. Though with parents like that, no doubt the baby will be spitting fire and blowing wind by the time she's got her first tooth!" Boldir's heart felt as though it froze in place. "The B- ..." His voice trailed off, even as Erik continued to talk. Baldur and Rebec had a child. He just said "she"... A daughter! I need to- they- ... Surely they have written me by now. They must think I know. Boldir felt genuine happiness for the first time in a long time. Sure, Baldur and Rebec must think him scum for not responding to them, and a month from now, they might even be cursing his name with the rest of Skyrim, but what they thought of him didn't matter... this was about them and their happiness. In ten years, he would be a bad memory, but the child would always be theirs. "What's her name?" Boldir asked, cutting Erik off in the middle of his rambling. This was something he needed to know. "What? Haven't they written y-" "No. What is her name?" "Ragna Red-Snow. I normally wouldn't remember something like that, but it's such a beauty of a name. Really rolls off the tongue." "Ragna Red-Snow." Boldir said aloud. "That's perfect." "Yeah, it is... So it ain't a secret that you're as close to the Red-Snows as fish are to water. Lot of us just assumed you've been with them all this time, living in that new town of theirs, and yet here it sounds like you haven't seen them since the war. What have you been up to, Boldir? It have anything to do with those new scars you're gonna tell me about?" "I moved to Whiterun." Boldir answered. "Became captain of the city watch. I got these scars fighting bandits at the forge that made your moonblades." "So we have you to thank for that." Erik smiled coyly. "But there's more, ain't there? They get letters in Whiterun, and people talk besides. You can't have missed all this news living there." "You're right. I've been away most of this year. Traveling." "That's more like it. What kind of traveling? Been adventuring?" "Adventuring?" Boldir chuckled. "Maybe if I was half as old and twice as foolish. No, it was very mundane. I went to Shor's Stone to visit family, after the death of my uncle. It was my intent to return to Whiterun this month, with a wagon of trinkets that passed on to me. Took the scenic route. But it looks like I will be going to Kyne's Watch instead. I need to witness Rebec blowing wind myself." Erik laughed. "I'd word it differently when in the presence of the Admiral, if I were you." His grin then faded. "As for your uncle, my condolences." "Thank you, but there is no need. We were not very close." "Regardless, this seems like a good time for some mead." replied the commander as he reached down the table and picked a bottle of the most expensive Black-Briar reserve. "If not in his memory, then perhaps to little Ragna, a child deserving of a king's toast!" He and Baldur would have gotten along famously. Boldir thought, as he found and popped the cork from his own bottle. A pity they never met. "To Ragna." Stormcloak and outlaw took a long swig together, with Boldir downing half his bottle before finally lowering it from his lips. "Oh, and to your safe journey of course." added Erik. "Kyne's Watch is a long way." To Mila. Boldir thought. And to your safe passage through the mountains. They drank again, finishing off their bottles. Erik insisted that Boldir have another with him, but he politely refused. If there was ever to be another good time for Boldir to overindulge himself with drink, this was not it. Regardless, he sat with his friend for a couple hours longer. Talking some, but mostly listening as Erik caught him up on the tales of the world, both within Skyrim and without. Much of it was embellished, no doubt, such as the rumors of Dominion elves using great flaming seabirds against the Imperials, but other parts, like High Rock's secession and Skyrim leading the new human alliance, were too big to be false. He listened, of course, but ultimately, Boldir did not care much about most of this news. The world of politics and wars was no longer of any concern to him. A great war was coming, no doubt. But even if he found Mila before then, it would not be his war to fight. Ulfric, Baldur, this new Breton king, hell, probably even the Witch if he was still pulling strings in Cyrodiil, would win. Of that, Boldir had no doubt. And so the details of it all were of no importance to him. The sun was long below the horizon when they finally called it a night. Most of the soldiers had already taken to bed, save for those patrolling outside in the frozen winter storms. "Sleep well, Captain Iron-Brow." Erik said with a drunken salute. "Do not leave without saying farewell." Boldir gave a small nod. "I'll be sure to have someone rouse you." It was another hour before he finally drifted off to sleep. It was a long, deep slumber, as wrought with dreams as every night before. This time, however, he was in a forest, warm as if it were summer, though snow still fell thick, forming heavy drifts all across the clearing. Boldir knew what lay beneath them. "Papa, let's play hide and seek!" shouted a child's voice. She emerged from the trees, her clothes and hair dirty and rugged, but like any youth, she was unbothered by it. "Not here, Mila." Boldir answered at once. "The fort isn't too far. Come back with me. You'll be safe there." "You've gotta find me first!" The girl laughed and disappeared into the trees. "Not that way!" Boldir followed, stepping through the old battlefield. Her prints were easy to follow, though strangely enough, they seemed to grow larger the longer the trail went. "Mila!" he shouted. "Come out!" "I'm over here!" The voice that called to him was not the child's voice Boldir had heard before. It was older, colder. He followed it to another clearing, smaller than the first. Within it stood a young woman, dressed in tattered clothing beneath a silken brown cloak with the cowl pulled up. Kneeling before her with bound hands was an elf. Mila smiled when she produced her dagger, it's enchanted blade soaking in the moonlight, and drew it across the elf's neck. Her eyes met his, and the smile turned sad. "You found me." Boldir jerked awake, sweating despite the chill that lingered in the room. The distant sound of chatter outside his door indicated that he had slept later than he'd intended. Still groggy, Boldir made himself rise, and dressed himself for the day ahead. Downstairs, the dining hall was full as the garrison tore at their lunch. Boldir found a seat among them and helped himself to a vegetable soup with some bread and cheese, washed down with a pint of ale. He spoke and joked with those around him, but like the night before, his mind was only half here. The other half lay south, where he needed to be going. After lunch, Boldir said his goodbyes and made for the courtyard, where he found Erik waiting for him in the stables beside his wagon. "We saw your horses fed and rested for the coming journey." said the commander. "I wish you the best, friend. Retired or not. Know that you're always welcome at Fort Neugrad." If only that were true. "Thank you, Erik. It has been good to see you." With that, Boldir mounted up and left Fort Neugrad behind him. It was hard to tell through the storm, but he reckoned that it was probably nearing an hour before sundown when he finally reached Pale Pass. The road went south for a few miles, with the mountains opening wider and wider on each side until they disappeared amidst the white flurries. After some time, he came upon a wall, perhaps ten feet high, with a closed gate on the road. The four Stormcloaks guarding it looked miserable to have received such a posting. "Halt." said the first one to spot him. Under all the furs and thick cowl, it was impossible to make out any features on her. As Boldir drew back on the reigns, she continued. "I am sorry, but the pass is closed for now due to the storms. The chance of a collapse is too high. It's for your safety, traveler." Boldir scowled, though there was no way she could see it. "If there hasn't been a collapse, then wouldn't it be best if I made it south before that happens? Better to chance it than be caught up here for a month while you clear the way." "I am sorry, citizen. We have our orders." "I have to get south!" Boldir said, desperately. I have family in Cyrodiil who need me!" The soldier looked back at one of her comrades, who shook his head. "I am sorry, " she said, turning back, "truly." To the Stormcloak's credit, she did sound genuinely apologetic. "But we cannot allow anyone through." She paused. "Look, Falkreath is only a few hours' ride west of here, once you've left the pass. There are rooms at the Dead Man's Drink. Try coming back tomorrow and things may be different." "And if they aren't?" There was a long moment before she said anything. Clearly it pained her to have to do this to him. "Then try again the next day." *** Things were not different the next day, despite the storm having finally lessened. The Stormcloak on duty this time was not so apologetic as the last one had been, though his advice had been no different, "Go to Falkreath. Have a pint, and wait for this all to blow over." Attempts to argue with the man had been useless. The next day had been much the same, though Boldir made it a point to go later, in the hopes that the woman who had turned him away the first time would be there again. At least she had some amount of sympathy for his situation. However, he had no such luck. It was ten days since Riften, and Boldir was starting to worry that word might somehow arrive before he could make it past the border. Every day, upon returning to the Dead Man's Drink, Boldir would find a place to sit near the fire and listen. The innkeep was a gossip, just as she had been during the war, and she was sure to yammer on about any big news like that if it reached her. On the eleventh day, the only thing that caught Boldir's ear was her talk about Imperials and monsters in Pale Pass, though he dismissed them as tales. Boldir knew the pass was big, but things like that wouldn't go unnoticed by the garrison there. On the twelfth day, she went on about Thalmor assassins in High Rock, news that her Nordic customers could not have cared much less about. It was the end of the thirteenth day, as Boldir returned to the inn having been rejected by the Stormcloaks once more, when he finally heard the dreaded news. "Riften? Gone?" A small group of townsfolk were gathered around the counter. "I heard it from the mouth of one of the refugees themselves." said the innkeep. "The rooms are full, but I let her and her son stay in the basement for now. The city was burned to the ground, she said. There was a battle. Bandits and guardsmen... She didn't know much. But mark my words, we'll be seeing plenty more where she came from." She was not wrong. The next day, Boldir returned to find the inn a good deal more crowded than usual, and the people more rough. Most were dirty, with little more to their names than the clothes on their backs. All of them told the same tales, of city-wide unrest, and riots in the streets leading up to full-on bloodshed and ending with the arrival of the bandits and the subsequent burning of Riften. Their Jarl was dead, as was Maven Black-Briar. Very occasionally, names like Hrokvild, Filnjar, and Boldir left their tongues, describing terrible bandit lords who could wield the thu'um as Ulfric did. Boldir knew it was only a matter of time before more accurate stories began to arrive. On the sixteenth day, he awoke early and left Falkreath an hour before dawn. By now, the storms had ended. To the east, the skies had even begun to clear up. They weren't quite so lucky here in Falkreath. The world above remained hidden behind a blanket of gray. "They would have made it through by now." Carlotta said to him. "She has to be in Cyrodiil. You can't let them keep you here." She was right, and Boldir knew it. Sibbi and his band had cut straight through the mountains. They'd be on the other side by now, probably already in Bruma, if not not the Imperial City itself. With more and more news of Riften arriving every day, Boldir knew that he could not afford to remain in Skyrim for much longer. Sooner or later, someone might come with stories of his description, or worse, they might recognize him themselves. The same woman from the first evening he had come stood guard that morning. This was the first time he got a clear look at her face. It was weathered, with blue eyes and blonde hair tied into braids. She appeared close to him in age. "Tidings." she said as Boldir's carriage slowed to a halt. "You'll be pleased to know that the way is now open." She seemed glad to be the one to break him the news. "Down on the other end, the Imperials might want to question you a bit, but you should be clear to go. Talos guide you, traveler." Thanking Talos, and Kyne, Mara, and any others who mattered, Boldir finally continued on south, through the great range of the Jeralls. He passed old forts, battlegrounds, and forests. Followed the road as it went from wide to narrow, and wide again, always moving, farther, and farther from Skyrim. For the first time in his life, he was leaving his home.