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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. 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
  3. 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
  4. 3 points
    Boo! Give me my Nordic Colovians and crazy Ayleid/Akaviri/Greece hodgepodge Nibenese!
  5. 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?"
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 3 points
    Valenwood, and maybe Elsweyr too, or at least a part of it is my guess, but I prefer Hammerfell.
  11. 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.
  12. 3 points
  13. 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.
  14. 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."
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 3 points
    Also, off this weekend, gonna work on finishing my post, should have it done.
  19. 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
  20. 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.
  21. 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!"
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 2 points
  25. 2 points
    Sorry Czar, I unfortunately took Spring/Summer courses this semester, and I volunteer quite a bit, so i'm out of the house most of the week.
  26. 2 points
    Alright, good news, everything went by me before any tornados formed.
  27. 2 points
    Round 2, let's go! Got more tornados coming right at me
  28. 2 points
    I do understand the appeal of ESO's Imperial equipment and this might come as a shocker but my favorite depiction of the Legionaries are unused early Skyrim concept art for them.
  29. 2 points
    Ah I see, thanks for the correction. Best to know the specifics when talking about him since he's so loved by everyone, black and white alike.
  30. 2 points
    This, plus restoration. I don't even mess with enchanting anymore, just plain ol' this, and stay around the level 40 range. That to me is the best way to play, for any build. It's tempting to get super godly buff but it just makes the game dull as all hell. Plus, if you has mods, the shout progression is enough to make you appropriately godly when needed.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 2 points
    Her family would certainly object when they only see their wealth vanishing for a war so far north that Skyrim would seem tropical.
  35. 2 points
    I didn't know Dales was that personally rich. I mean, some of her family is very wealthy, but how much of that belongs to her?
  36. 2 points
    My favorite builds are a pure mage, sword and shield heavy armor knight type, and stealth archer. Those are the three main characters I've had. My favorite is probably a Breton sword and shield heavy armor knight with a little magic thrown in. Though I had a lot of fun with my Nordic mage build that was my most recent.
  37. 2 points
    Extreme tree hippies that would rather eat your roasted balls than eat a pair of grapes.
  38. 2 points
    Black Marsh is interesting, but despite the really cool monsters that'd be there, it's probably my last choice for a TES game. 9/10 of the races wouldn't have access to parts of the map, and as it currently stands, 99% of the population would be Argonians, many of whom probably don't speak the common language. I loved how alien Morrowind felt, but I think BM might be a little further in that direction than I think I'd be into. My money's on the next game being set in Valenwood. I'd be cool with that.
  39. 2 points
  40. 2 points
    For High Rock I am to the point where King Adraurd is trying to gather evidence on Duke Mon. For Boldir- Sibbi just arrived with Mila in the Imperial City and Dales is going through some monarch growing pains
  41. 2 points
  42. 2 points
    Thank you both for your criticisms, I hope I can learn from them and better myself. Normally as with the information dumps it's to make sure I'm not overstepping the canon lore, It's explaining a bit for GM approval and normally done in private chats. Bit since I already had some roleplaying segments with BT, Colonel and Balrog I didn't want this one to be a PM to just Doc. If I had the option I'd be writing right now but unfortunately because of the pacing I've decided to go with it requires a continuation of the Agotomaedic Question (Agotomaeds seeking Imperial action, Dales sends Praetorians.) and now there needs to be a continuation. Then I plan on soloing a piece of the EEC-Roscrea crisis (Or growing Crisis by Roscrean standards) involving the great chieftains and Berahthram.
  43. 2 points
    It's three in the morning and I just now realize I made a silly.
  44. 2 points
  45. 2 points
    I just want it on record that I love the NCR. They're either my favorite group in Fallout, or a very close second to New Vegas. I just think that an Indy/House ending is better for them than one in which they are victorious, even if they don't all realize it.
  46. 2 points
    When I play my "canon" courier I go straight after Benny. On a different note, I know you are a die hard Wild Card, Doc, but what are you BT? I always go NCR myself. I'm just drawn to them in every play through, though this one is just an achievement hunter play through. The NCR is just my shit I guess, lol. Kinda like the BoS in F4 and the Stormcloaks in Skyrim.
  47. 2 points
    I must be a real bastard, because I'm almost always in the neutral range. Cass even got onto me recently because I "can be a real asshole sometimes" so I must've been closer to evil than to good, which is funny because other than stealing shit and being a tiny bit of a dick in dialogue (which rarely hurts karma), I'm not all that bad. The only time I've been in the good range was when I hunted the Fiends. Maybe it's because I let the NCR wipe out the Powder Gangers for me and I tend to let my companions kill ghouls, or, in the case of Repcon, I try to sneak past them.
  48. 2 points
    I agree. I do side quests in Goodsprings, Primm, Novac, Boulder City, and some in Freeside because they all tie into the MQ (Freeside because I spend all my caps on implants and need to do some wet work to make enough money to enter the Strip), but otherwise, I pretty much bee-line for Benny. Hunting him down reminds me of Clint Eastwood from Unforgiven. As an extra RP incentive, the Courier's contract to deliver the Platinum Chip states that failure to deliver may result in mercenaries being sent to hunt us down. Obviously, this doesn't happen (wish it did), but the Courier doesn't know that, so for me it adds a bit of urgency in the quest to finish the delivery as soon as possible.
  49. 2 points
    ** The next morning, after a quick breakfast, the royal carrack and its four escort caravels slid out of Aldport, heading northeast along the High Rock coast. Two of the escort ships were Theodore’s, while the other two were from Duke Theirry. They had decided last night, over dinner, that it would be best to increase the escort, after the assassination attempt. Theodore hoped the Direnni wouldn’t see it as aggressive, though if they did, he could explain what had happened to warrant it. The way the Direnni Islands were strung out, the ships encountered the first of them a little over an hour after departure. It was the smallest island, having a small fishing village lying on the northeast coast. After that, the islands and towns grew larger and larger, until the main island came into view. Though, in truth, the Adamantine Tower was visible while the Balfiera Isle itself was just a silhouette on the horizon. As they neared, Theodore could see the Adamantine Tower in the center of the island, while the capital city of Upvale was situated on the northwest corner. Though the castellan of the tower, Queen Irinwe Direnni, lived there, they would be meeting in the palace at Upvale. That same palace had played host to many peace meetings between Breton lords over the years. The Direnni, in turn, served as facilitators and mediators, since they were neutral in the world of Breton politics. In the politics of Tamriel, though, their neutral position was less certain. Many suspected, even before they were implicated with Theodore and the Thalmor in their plot, that they were loyal to the Aldmeri Dominion. Theodore did not think it was the case, since many Thalmor dissenters lived there, especially since Sentinel burned in the Night of Green Fire. But suspicion was especially high among Lord General Estermont of Shornhelm, as well as Lady Birian of Jehanna and the LaRouche family of Farrun. The flotilla slid into the harbor and docked with ease, since the natural bay the city of Upvale sat in made the port an easy place to sail. Theodore, as lines were rigged to tie the boats down, took in the elven city. The houses were of the typical Aldmeri style, with high, pointed roofs and made primarily of dark colored stone supports and light colored stone brick walls. Many of the larger, multistory buildings had pointed arches and many windows. Theodore noticed a temple in particular that had buttresses supporting the walls, and stained glass windos of the Aldmeri gods. The city itself was arranged on a slope, though to keep the buildings level, there were many terraces or tiers. Each tier was in a round shape, roughly a semicircle, before it connected to the next tiers. As they were led up to the topmost point of the town, Theo saw the docks at the lowest level, followed by the peasant housing, the merchant district, a guild district, more housing, the temple district, and finally the Direnni palace. The roads were wide and pleasantly curved, though not so much as to be meandering. As they went uphill, the roads we split in two, with the median holding benches and flowers, as if they were miniature parks. Theodore thought the city was quite pleasant on the eye, at least the part he could see. But it seemed much like many cities he’d been too, in that the visitor who was just passing through might see the best part of the city, and the further you traveled from the main path, the rougher it grew. But he could not confirm it, as he and Roland, with Sir Maric and Sir Virelande flanking them with the guards, were quickly brought into the great hall of the palace. The great hall was even taller and more elegantly constructed than the temples they passed by. Large window let in ample light, as well as giving views of the town and sea on one side, the countryside on the other. It was long, and somewhat thin, but with ample room for courtiers and advisors to play politics, while Queen Irinwe Direnni watched from the high platform at the end. Paintings, not tapestries, conveyed the accomplishments of the venerated Direnni family. As Theodore inspected one passing by, he noticed the columns were carved likenesses of the Adamantine Tower, in excruciating detail. Had he had more time to visit, he thought he might enjoy discovering the nuances of the palace. But, he had business to attend to. “Your majesties King Theodore and Prince Roland Adrard, I present Her Royal Highness, Castellan of the Adamantine and Master of all the Isles, Queen Irinwe Direnni,” the large bodied steward said, motioning to the seated Altmer. Queen Irinwe was tall, her flowing teal dress drawing attention to her curved figure. Her face was not as angular as some elves, but more than others. Her russet hair was braided, and arranged in a conical bun atop her head. She wore a circlet of white gold, with several emeralds inset. She rose from her throne atop the dais, and gave a bow. Theodore and Roland returned it, as did their guards. With a wave of her hand, most of the courtiers and courtesans left the rooms, leaving only a handful of advisors gathered around the throne, as well as the guards lining the hall. “Queen Irinwe, it is an honor and a privilege. I wish it were on better terms, but any terms are better than none,” Theodore said. “I shall hope we can play the gracious and respectful host to the King of the Bretons,” the queen replied, her voiced airy, a small smile upon her lips. “But first, we must clear the foul fog that hangs over both our heads. I understand you have a prisoner with you.” “Bring him forth,” Theodore said. Sir Maric on one side, Sir Virelande on the other, brought the manacled mage Brenon before the queen, setting him on his knees with some roughness. “You recognize him, yes?” The queen descended, her eyes locked on Brenon the entire time. Behind her came two advisors, a woman wearing flowing black and gold robes, the other a man in glass armor, cradling his helmet beneath his arm. All three of them looked Brenon over, and then turned to talk amongst themselves very briefly. “Master Celria here,” she motioned to the robed wizard, “says it is the boy who trained under Master Fallo. I also recall seeing him with the man before.” “Tell her what you told me,” Theodore said, trying to keep any sort of forcefulness out of his voice, so that Brenon’s testimony wouldn’t sound coerced. Brenon, swallowing a few times, stared at the floor as he delivered his story. “I…I was sent by Master Fallo to meet with Duke Mon. He told me to set up a meeting, at the king’s court. Together they were going to reveal a story about the king poisoning himself. And that you helped him. And that you and the king were in league with the Thalmor. But the truth is, Fallo was a Thalmor agent. I didn’t think he knew, since he never told me, but I overheard him a few time. And then he must’ve put a curse on me, because when the king asked me, I couldn’t tell him. But then they lifted the curse and I told them. Fallo was a spy, and that letter was made up, I swear. And then he was killed, in the court, by a Thalmor agent.” Queen Irinwe lifted her eyes from Brenon’s bowed head, locked eyes with Theodore. “Why was he killed, if he was working with the Thalmor?” Though the question was directed at Theodore, Brenon evidently didn’t notice. “I don’t know. I swear!” “Quiet,” Theodore said. To the queen, he answered, “I believe that the Thalmor assassinated Fallo to lend credence to Fallo’s claim that he was a Direnni dissenter, and did not approve of the plot to ally with the Thalmor.” “And it was one of your vassals who helped organize this plot? This Duke Mon?” the queen said. “Yes, though there is no indication he worked with the justiciar; just Fallo,” Theodore said. “Then it appears we were set up, then. Evidently the justiciar did not know of Brenon’s knowledge, or suspected the curse would hold better. Either way, their plan seems to have fallen apart in short order,” the queen said. Theodore knew the plan was not quite finished, with Duke Mon still alive. But he would be dealt with before long, so it was not worth mentioning. “It has. And we serve not but to benefit from it. Once the next war starts, I will be siding with Skyrim, Hammerfell, and Cyrodiil against the Dominion. The lies will be forgotten then, erased if not by time then by my actions. But, so long as your people remain neutral, many will cast doubt and suspicion upon your lands. I point out the obvious, yet I wish for only further cooperation between us. Join our alliance, even in a small way, and your people will be lauded, not scorned.” The queen turned and strode back up the dais, buying herself time to mull over the king’s words. Or, find the appropriate level with which to scold Theo for instructing her how to rule. It was a gamble, Theodore knew, but the burden lay entirely on the queen. Her refusal would only paint her in a bad light, not him. “It is a sound proposal, King Adrard, but we do not have the resources to field a significant army. And I do not think the Nords would have us. Possibly even the Imperials, for that matter. Still, we risk becoming the villain in this, should we do nothing. I propose an alternative. We will lower the import taxes on your goods, as a helping hand before the war. For the war, though, I would like to have my mages augment your mages knowledge with some elven magics. As your soldiers are already the foremost magical users amongst your alliance, I should think that would make them only more valuable still,” the queen said, an eyebrow slightly arched and small smile upon her lips. “A wise and sound proposal, your highness. If I may take a moment to talk it over with my son and Sir Virelande, my Royal Battlemage, we will give you an answer shortly,” Theodore said. “Of course. Take your time.” Theodore, Roland, Sir Virelande, and Sir Maric retreated from the dais a few feet, to give themselves some privacy. “Sir Virelande, would you want your battlemages trained with elven magic?” Theodore asked. Sir Virelande stroked his bristly black beard, which hugged his cheeks. He was frowning, though that was his normal disposition, and not an indication of how he felt. “I think it would help us. Some nobles won’t like it, though. But from a military perspective I see no good reason to say no.” “Son?” Roland swept his hair from his eyes. “I agree. We can deal with the nobles, should they be frustrated. But I think we should pressure the Direnni into formally joining the alliance, so as to solidify their position.” “They could write a letter to Stormcloak,” Sir Maric suggested. “I doubt they could object to that.” “I agree on all aspects,” Theodore said. He turned around and approached the throne, and with a smile said, “We will accept your proposal, if you agree to write to the Nords, inquiring about formally joining the alliance. And, in the event they do not protest, we can meet again and discuss those terms. What say you?” The queen was quiet for a moment, her eyes staring off into the middle distance. Shortly, though, her attention snapped back to Theo. “I can agree to those terms. We I shall have a scribe draw up the formal documents, so you may sign them tomorrow. Until then, you are our honored guests here. Magistrate Sanyon will show you two your rooms. Your men can take the prisoner to a cell.” A robust looking man stepped to the front, from beside the dais. He was presumably the magistrate the queen mentioned. “Thank you greatly, Queen Irinwe. You show us the utmost respect.” The group then followed the magistrate to their rooms, to rest until dinnertime. Dinner came, and Theo, Roland, Sir Maric, and Sir Virelande were invited to dine. Sir Maric thanked the queen for the offer, but preferred to stand guard while Theodore ate. So the others, along with the queen, enjoyed a nice meal of venison pie, fresh greens, and cake for desert. Afterward, Theodore and Roland were invited to join the queen in her library, for drinks and conversation. The chairs were plush, and the room smelled of musty old books. Through the windows, the stars shown brightly in the night sky. Theodore sipped on his wine, before settling on what he wanted to ask the queen. “Your majesty, if I may ask, why is it your people are not siding with the Thalmor? Besides their lust for domination, obviously.” The queen frowned. “We have no love for them, even if they are our brethren. We have lived on this isle for many years, relatively peacefully I might add. Our lands our healthy, our people happy, and to join them would only invite demagoguery to uproot our lives. And we know of how they conducted themselves in their purges, firsthand from the survivors. We could not in good conscience side with them.” “I could not formulate a better list myself, were I to try to do so. I have heard only rumor of the purges, but seeing the zeal with which they attacked the survivors in Sentinel, I find the rumors are likely true,” Theodore said. “Pardon me, but I think there is something we may have forgotten to discuss earlier,” the queen said. “This prisoner of yours, will you be taking him back? I know a few of my people would like to see him dead, to show others were we stand on traitors. But he is your prisoner, and we would not want to overstep.” “I should think we will need him to offer testimony to the public, to refute the letter and Duke Mon’s claims,” Roland said. “After that, I’m not sure what we will do.” “Yes, I have not decided whether to execute him or simply imprison him,” Theodore said. In truth, Brenon was the least of his concerns, once he refuted Mon’s claims. “Though I suppose once he testifies, we can turn him over to you.” “I appreciate the gesture, King Adrard. We will like to see Direnni justice handed down upon him, since we cannot hand it down to Fallo,” the queen said. Having finished his wine, and it being somewhat late, the royals dispersed back to their rooms, and Theo went directly to bed, since they were leaving quite early in the morning. ** As Upvale and Balfiera faded behind Theodore’s departing flotilla, he assembled Sir Virelande, Sir Maric, Duke Theirry, and Roland in his cabin. A scribe was there as well, to write down the orders for Theodore to sign and stamp. With the Direnni negotiated with, it was time they turned their attention to Duke Mon. “Sir Maric, I would like you to send a few of your knights, aboard the Bull’s Fury to Wayrest. They are to tell Sir Galien take any rare books and the maps, and not to turn those over to the other mage schools. Afterwards, they will sail back, to Aldport, and then march south to join the siege of Duke Mon’s castle,” Theodore said. “Its about time,” Duke Theirry said. “Aye,” Sir Virelande replied. “Duke Theirry, you are to take the Lord’s Dagger and gather Lady Gaerhart’s, Baron Copperfield’s, Baron Brutya’s, and your men, and join the siege of Mon’s castle as well. Sir Virelande, you, Roland, and I will continue Aldport. There you and the young Duke Theirry will sail his men down to Mon’s lands and initiate the siege. It does not have to hold long, for once I return to Camlorn, we will march south with my men, while the men from Daggerfall will not be long behind you. Your jobs are all to keep Mon, or his family, from escaping. Tell him he is being placed under house arrest on suspicion of treason and attempted murder. I doubt he will be in any position to protest,” Theodore said. “Sir, will we being going back overland, or taking your ship around to Camlorn?” Sir Maric asked. “By sea. I do not want to take the risk Mon sends more assassins. Though it will take longer,” Theodore said. “The surprise attack will, I think, keep Duke Mon corralled until we can arrive,” Roland said. “And the men from Daggerfall will be more than enough to hold him in place, since he will not have had time to call all his troops to him. “Precisely,” Theodore said. He took the orders from the scribe, skimmed them to make sure they relayed his wishes, then signed and stamped them. “He has gotten away with too much, and now he will be punished. Take these, and you are dismissed.” The three members of Theodore’s Council of Lords left, followed by the scribe, leaving Theodore and Roland alone in the cabin. “How long have you had this planned out?” Roland asked. “Once Brenon spoke. I could not, of course, be sure about the Direnni, but I knew they would not attack us, even if we could not make peace. The only issue is time. If Duke Mon, spineless as he is, got spooked by his failed attempt to kill Brenon, he may well flee. Then we would have to rely on assassins to kill him, and there’s not satisfaction in that,” Theodore said. “I presume you’ll give him a trial?” “Yes, if he does not confess. If he does, I will have him proclaim his guilt publicly, so that we can completely dispel any notion we are working with the Thalmor.” “And what if he doesn’t confess?” “He will be made to. I will not have my rule to easily subverted, not just when we’ve started. I will show him no mercy. You must remember that, Roland. Some enemies, when they surrender, you must welcome them. Others, you must bury. Being a good ruler means knowing who is who. Mon is the latter, and we will bury him.”
  50. 2 points
    *** It did not take long for Mila to realize that the walls were her best friends. There was very little light down here, only what little came from the cell she was leaving. And so every step had to be taken carefully as if her life depended on it, because for all Mila knew, it did. The secret door had immediately led into a cavern-like tunnel, with a sloped floor that descended deeper and deeper into the void. It was all Mila could do to feel her way along the rocky wall and meticulously place one foot in front of the other. Regulus had told her that this tunnel was built for emperors, that it was where one of the last Septims had died. The thought that she might be the first person since then to follow in his footsteps was a strange thought to Mila. This place had not been built for people like her, covered in grime and surrounded by their own stench. And I bet the Emperor had a torch. A torch definitely would have been nice. After some time spent slowly going downhill, Mila's hand suddenly swept past the wall and found nothing. At the same time, the ground beneath her feet seemed to level out. There was nothing here. Nothing at all but a terrifying, open blackness. Mila tried blinking and waving a hand in front of her face, but her eyes refused to adjust. Down here, she was blind. Be brave. she told herself. You have to do this. Mila took a step into the chamber. The floor was smooth and flat, not rocky like the slope that had brought her here. Another step brought her away from the comfort of the wall, and further still from the comfortable light of her cell window. Don't think about what's behind you. None of it matters anymore. All that matters is ahead. "I can do this." the girl breathed. "I can do this." Hands outstretched, Mila very slowly made her way into the darkness. The room may have been the size of a small cottage or a palace. Mila could not be sure, but after what seemed like a long time the girl's right hand brushed against a pillar. She followed it, counting the sides until she was on the far side. Her next step did not find the floor. Carefully, she lowered it until it found a stair instead. It's the right way. she told herself. Keep going down. And so Mila began her second descent. This time in total darkness. The dark can't hurt you. she thought. Step carefully and you will be fine. The thought was oddly comforting. What could this tunnel throw at her that the Black-Briars could not? Or the Jerall Mountains? More determined than ever, Mila followed the stairs down into the next chamber, where she followed the wall again until she rounded a corner, and from there, she spotted a light. It was not bright, but down here it might as well have been a campfire. Blinking once more, she found that her eyes could finally adjust in the darkness. The chamber ahead was large, with two levels connected by more stairs. The light came from above, where a hole in the ceiling gave way to the night sky. Mila could not see the moons, but the few stars that shined down upon her seemed to be brighter than ever before. At the end of the lower level was an old metal door that creaked open when she pushed it, and on the other side was another chamber that looked much like the last one. It even had the same lighting from the night sky. Mila briefly wondered if she could climb out through there, but decided against it after taking a moment to study the flat brick walls. And so she continued on. The deeper she went, the more chambers she found. There was little to distinguish one from the next. Some were tiny. Others were vast, with light only shining on the path she followed, with darkness expanding to corners that she could not see. Mila would have thought she had been wondering for many hours were it not for the night sky peaking through to her in various spots. The first time Mila found a noteworthy change of scenery was directly beneath one such spot, where an old and gray skeleton lay in the starlight with broken legs. It's clothes had been eaten by moths until only patches remained, though the leather pouch beneath its right arm remained intact. Mila let out a deep breath, and then reached over the skeleton and opened it. Inside were some old clam shells and an empty bottle with no label. Typical. Mila continued on. The path seemed fairly straight forward. At one point, Mila found a locked gate and quickly began to worry that she might be trapped, but further exploration of the chamber it was in revealed another room, one with a section of its wall missing, beyond which was a small, square are at the center of which was a round iron trapdoor. The thing was heavy, and groaned loudly in complaint as she lifted it. There was a ladder down, and Mila could hear the sound of moving water coming from below. "And deeper still." she muttered, before beginning her climb down. "Awh," Yuck. The next chamber assaulted Mila's nose with a foul odor, the source of which was soon revealed when she moved onward to discover that the water she'd heard belonged to what must have been the Imperial City sewers. Despite the gag-worthy smell, Mila felt relieved. No longer was she wandering through dark tunnels and passageways. She was on the right track. Plus, there were numerous grates above that provided her with some light. It was still very dark, but not nearly as bad as the stone tunnels had been. The brick floor she walked on was slippery and damp, and below it were dark waters containing filth that she'd rather not look at too closely. There were plenty of rats as well. Some were small, like mice, but occasionally, Mila spotted a furry beast scamper by that was as large as Skyrim's own skeevers. Thankfully, these creatures didn't seem as aggressive as their northern cousins. Still, she could feel their beady eyes on her. No doubt the critters would love for her to slip and fall into the water. They probably didn't get to taste human too often. At least I hope they don't. The sewers were quite large. For the first time, Mila found that she had quite a few directions she could go in. Sticking as close to a central path as possible felt like the safest option to Mila. As long as she kept going in the same direction, she had to be moving away from the prison. "groooock." Mila froze in her tracks. The sound had come from behind her. What in Oblivion? "Abkog. Esefa." Oh no. Mila started to run. The voice had been close, and sure enough, the moment she took off, another pair of feet came padding after her. Not now! Now now! The girl rounded a tunnel corner and came into a small room. Inside was a lit fire pit, and above it was a skewered rat, its meat smoldering in the flames. She didn't take the time to ponder on that. Instead she just kept running through the maze. Right, left, left, right. The place seemed unending, and all the while, her pursuer could be heard close behind. Come on! Mila turned yet another corner. Come on! She climbed a short flight of steps. No! The room she'd entered was a dead end. There was nothing but a table and a small crevice in the wall where some bricks had fallen. When Mila turned to go back, she found the way blocked by a... Is that a goblin? Mila had never seen such a creature before. It was a skinny thing, male, with pointy ears, pale green skin, and a disproportionately large head. The creature may have been around average height were it not for the way its back hunched over. Mila raised her hands to show the 'goblin' that she meant him no harm. "I am just trying to get out of here." she told the creature as it approached. "Please-" Mila backed against the broken wall. There's no point in begging. He wants to kill me. Slowly, she knelt down. That's when the goblin snarled and then pounced. Mila did not think. She did not hesitate. It was as if her brain had shut down so that instinct could take over. She dove out of the way, and as her startled assailant crashed into the wall, Mila scooped up one of the loose bricks and cracked it against its oversized skull. The wail it let out was like none Mila had ever heard. It was a terrible sound, more like that of a suffering animal than an intelligent being. As dark blood trickled down its bald dome, the creature turned to her with a confused expression on its face. She swung her brick into that face. Again and again, beating the goblin to the floor, where he curled up in a ball with one of his own clawed hands outstretched. It wasn't until those hands had gone limp that Mila finally stepped back. The dead thing in front of her was gnarled and broken, its face completely disfigured and covered in blood. I killed it. Mila realized with a start. She looked down at the brick she'd used, and was surprised to find her own hands to be as bloody as the weapon itself. Oh gods... She dropped the brick and started to run, down the stairs and back into the sewer tunnels she'd come through. It had been so easy. She'd hit him and then, well, that was it. She'd just kept hitting him. Mila wasn't a baby. She knew how death worked. In fact she'd seen countless people die in Riften and the Jeralls, but for some reason, the weight of it had never truly set in, not until she had done the deed herself. It was just a goblin. Mila realized. But it works the same way with people... After some time, an exhausted Mila stopped in a long tunnel and hunched over to catch her breath. I could do that again... she thought. It wasn't very hard. I could do it to Sibbi... No. There was no one in the world that Mila wanted dead more than Black-Briar. But her escape had been miraculous enough on its own. She could not squander that by going back to him. It's not worth it. They'd only catch me again. And this time, they'd kill me... "Don't think about what's behind you." she told herself once more. "All that matters is ahead." Mila took a deep breath, wiped her bloody hands on her jerkin, and started back on her path through the sewers. By now she was well and truly lost, but at least the light of morning was peaking in through the rare sewer grates she passed. Soon, a Ennaf or Stoit, or just some other prison guard would happen on her cell and come after her. But it was a maze down here, and Mila had a huge head start. And she had been wandering for some time now. Surely there would be an exit before too long. As if an answer to her thoughts, the next corner Mila turned revealed a long, rounded tunnel. At the end of it was a white dot. Almost giddy, Mila started to run once more. The dot grew bigger, brighter. By the time she had covered half the distance, Mila could make out the iron bars of an old sewer gate. This is it! she thought, slowing down as she reached the door and practically hugged it. Please be unlocked. Mila turned the handle. It clicked. "Yes!" she swung the door open and took in a deep breath of fresh, clean air. The smells of grass and saltwater filled her nostrils, and at that moment, nothing could smell sweeter. Just ahead was the shore of Lake Rumare. Spinning around, Mila saw that behind her was the great Imperial City itself. "YES!" She ran to the beach and fell to her knees at the edge of the water to begin washing the blood and grime from her clothes. Mila caught a glimpse of her reflection before the ripples distorted it. She was filthy. Filthy and skinny, with hollow eyes and dark matted hair that by now fell past her shoulders. But Mila was alive. And she was finally, at long last, free.