Plight of Evermore
Her footsteps were silent against the paved stone of the street. Following closely behind her mentor as they moved through the crowds of Evermore. They were here to collect intel on the death of the King of Evermore. Being so far within the Reach, many of the Kingdoms wanted to know if the Reachmen had infiltrated the city to assassinate the king.
This was to be Lila’s assessment, and induction into the ranks of House Laroche. If she failed, she would be banished from her Kingdom. Even though alliances with Kingdoms were slim, this didn’t make her any safer. As a matter of fact, this made her own life forfeit.
“Keep up child.” Gidion said, interrupting her thoughts. She studied him quietly. Gidion was like a big brother to her. He was the only family she knew. He had found her when she was a babe, left to die in the Wrothingar Mountains.
Falling back into her thoughts, she lightly touched the pouch around her neck. It was filled with fire salts from the atronach that had resided in her village. Her goal was to live up to her name as the Fire Ghost.
Gidion turned to look at her then. His dark eyes piercing beneath his hood. His face was beginning to show his age. Lines had started to form at the corners of his eyes and grey began to dust his hair. “Lila, it’s not the time to day dream. This is serious.” But his eyes didn’t hold the harshness of his words, they were amused, twinkling beneath his thick brows. “You will be the death of me yet child.”
“Or your salvation.” She snorted pulling up her own hood to hide her short hair. She doubted that anyone would notice that she was a woman unless she spoke. She kept her hair short and usually unruly. She hadn’t the time to primp like the other women of her house. She didn’t much care for it either. She preferred for things to be simple, easy, that way if she had to move, she could do so quickly.
“Doubtful.” He chuckled as he turned to continue on down the street. She kept pace with him, just so she wouldn’t be lost within the crowds. There were more people on the street than usual. She attributed it to the death of their kind, even though many did not seem to really grieve. She hated the culture of the elite. They treated heirachy as games. Nothing but rumors and intrigue.
Lila stopped, her eyes moving off to a group of women gathered near the fountain at the center of the pavillion. They were giggling and whispering to one another, their hair done in elaborate styles, ribbons of all colors braided into their dark hair. Their dresses were tightly tailored to create the illusion of hips, something that men of her region favored as a good sign of a wife.
“Lila!” Gidion hissed through clenched teeth. He was at the juncture of another street, tapping his foot impatiently with arms crossed against his broad chest. He was irritated with her antics, that much she could tell just by his stance.
Hurridly she took off running to catch up with him. Just as she was about to reach him, she crashed hard into what felt like a brick wall. Stumbling backwards, she felt two strong hands grasp her forearms. Quickly looking up at her offender she was stopped, midbreath as her glass colored eyes met his. She froze standing there, staring up at him, she hadn’t noticed he had righted her so she wouldn’t fall.
“In a hurry lass? May want to take your time through such crowded streets.” She was frozen by his hazel gaze, noting only the strong features of a Nord in front of her. “Cat got your tongue?”
“No,” she stammered as her small hand clasped over his. “But you may wish to choose a better mark.” Now she was whispering leaning closer, her cool hand still clasping over his at her hip. Had she been anyone else she wouldn’t have noticed the subtle movement of the theif before her. Her eyes stayed locked to his as they stood there frozen in the street. A clever grin spread across his face, reaching his micheivious eyes.
“I suppose I had, considering your friend is trained to kill me if I do not. Such a shame for a pretty lass to be travelling with such a companion.” He still hadn’t moved. Neither had she. Her breath was shallow as she stared up at him. He moved slowly to where their lips nearly met. A thick scent hung on his breath as he spoke, it reminded her of warm honey and spice. “Maybe another time lass.” She felt dizzy as he let her go and moved further down the street leaving her standing there, looking like a silly girl.
Abruptly she turned to watch him go, but he was already gone. His hair would have stood out here amoung the dark colored locks that filled the street. As she turned to finish following her mentor she noticed he was looking more irritated than usual.
“Lets go, now, before you fall for the next theif that decides to steal your coin purse.” He hissed through his clenched teeth.
“Tried.” She corrected irritated with him. She knew that she should have paid better attention but he hadn’t needed to point out why she stood so long in the center of the street holding onto the theif who had stolen nothing but a few beats of her heart.
They continued their journey silently for the most part. A few complaints from Gidion, as was the normal way he did things. There was never a compliment, never a proud moment, it almost stung really. Almost, there wasn’t anything that could hurt her pride really. They reached Black Peak Inn at nightfall, it was on the further reaches of the city, a quick walk to the castle if you cut straight through the forest instead of taking the road.
“We will settle here for the night, get some rest, a bath, and stock up on what you need before we continue. Once we reach the castle, there won’t be returning, we can’t risk it. It will be straight home from here. I’ve already arranged the horses at the stables. They will be ready on the dawn of Morndas.” These weren’t suggestions, these were orders. He had called for separate rooms for us, and arranged for our packs to be taken to the stables in the morning to be loaded on the saddles that were to be our horses.
The inn was unusually quiet for such a town, especially with the death of the King, one would think there would be more travellers. She felt uneasy about her quest. Slowly she tried to ease her fears within the dram of mead, imported from the heart of Skyrim. Honningbrew. It was sweet, thick, and rich in flavor. The spices of it tickled her nose as she lifted the tankard to her pale lips.
In a hurry lass? Echoed in her mind. Thats what was on his lips when he closed in on her. The mead. The Nord theif had been here before, she’d wager. The taste of the mead lingered on his breath.
A cold chill ran down her spine and she shivered it away. Shaking her head she looked quietly around the inn. There were few patrons, a couple of Mages off in the corner speaking in hushed voices. Turning back to her mead, she gazed into the soft liquid that now warmed her cheeks. The accent was thick, much thicker than the other Nords, and quite different than what she was used to coming from their mouths.
She barely slept. Tossing and turning throughout the night. Something still tugged at the back of her mind. Something wasn’t right about this mission. She could feel it. She felt as if the Gods were plotting against them. Or maybe a Daedric Prince was just filling her mind with trouble.
The first rays of the sun broke through the cracks in the shutters. Dust danced in the light as she opened her weary eyes, heavy lidded from her restless sleep. She stared quietly before finally moving from the bed. The stone floor was cold against her bare feet and she wished for nothing more than to climb back into the heavy sheets made of goose down.
Her body fought her as she pulled on the tunic and leggings, tying the strings tightly on the side of the leggings and fastening her belt tightly around her chubby waist. She was by no means fat, but she was well fed; unlike many of the women in her Kingdom, where the streets were overrun with poverty. She picked up her satchel, as she did something thudded against the floor. She bent over carefully, picking up the small leather tome, its binding expertly done with leather and hide lace. Slowly she opened the bronze clasp on the front.
On the first page there was written, ‘Instructions for Lila.’ The hand was heavy, but the font was beautiful. Was this Gidions work? Instructions for what? She turned the page and sucked in a sharp breath. ‘Hide this, keep it safe, if we fail you will need all that is contained within.’ She shut the book with a snap in her surprise. Angst filled her, did he think so little of her that they would fail? She slipped the book into her satchel and noticed a small card, it was simple, there was a triangle containing a circle on it. She held the delicate parchment in her hand and flipped it over. On the back was neatly written, Bee and Barb-Riften. When had she gotten this? Was this another of Gidion’s clues? Maybe it had something to do with the journal.
She sighed heavily and tucked the card away with the journal. Moving to the window she flung the shutters wide to stare out at Evermore. Tonight would be the night they infiltrated the castle. Tonight they would get their information and take straight to the woods. Making for the stables and then to the State of Alcaire, where she would be safe in the house of Laroche.
On impulse she grasped the sill and with a quick jump was on the ledge that overhang the entrance. She had an entire day and she most certaily wasn’t going to spend it locked inside of the inn like some prisoner awaiting trial. A smirk played across her lips as she looked at the roof tops, wondering how far she could make it unnoticed.
So she ran. Along the ceramic tiled roof and up to the edge of inn before bounding off the edge and clasping onto the hanging signpost with a soft giggle. It reminded her of her youth in Alcaire when Gidion would race her along the roof tops, little did she know then that it wasn’t a game. Instead he was training her for what she was to become, an Agent of House Laroche, an elite among the ranks of Bretons.
Before long she found herself at the edge of the city, staring down onto the now lighted street. She lowered herself off the edge and unknown to her, nearly fell upon a man hiding within the buildings shadow. As she stood, she felt her hair stand on end. Turning ever so slightly she saw the theif from the other day. He was smiling at her, eyes glimmering in the shadows.
“Hello again lass.” He said calmly, moving from the shadows quietly to stand in front of her. “It seems fate has brought us together once again.” She stood quietly staring at him, feeling the corner of her own lips tug up into a smile. “My, my the little lass wouldn’t be up to mischeif there would she?”
“Not the mischeif you are hoping.” She quipped, the smile a little broader now. His hazel eyes danced over her, sizing her up. She knew he couldn’t possibly consider her a threat, she was at least two heads smaller than him. He could easily pick her up and dispose of her. She wasn’t trained for combat, what magic she knew, she tought herself with the Mages that resided in the guild house.
“Such a shame, what fun we could have together,” he was right on her now, the heavy smell of warm honey still hanging from him. Her glass colored eyes stared up into his curiously studying him. “Now what might you be called?”
She hesitated for a moment, it was dangerous for an Agent to freely give their name. After some consideration she simply stated, “Fleur. My name is Fleur.” Her voice was steady, no hint of a lie, so naturally it shocked her when he called her out on her lie.
“You, lass, are no delicate flower. I’ll give you a name if you cannot come up with one that will suit you.” After a few moments of silence a bright smile crossed his lips. “I know, the perfect name for you lass.” Before he could say another word, the world was on fire. There was an explosion to the west where the inn was. She looked up and the theif was gone. Long gone, or so she thought.
As she moved to head towards the inn another explosion rocked the ground she was on. Stone and dirt exploded in a haze around her and she felt strong arms around her. Confused she looked up, she could see his scars, marred on his rough features. He held her close to his large frame, staring off in the distance as his hair shone like fire in the morning sun.
“Brynjolf, there’s been an attack on the castle grounds. We need to move and get back to the guild quickly. There’s no money to be made here, too dangerous.” The voice was soft, and feminine. Lila lifted her eyes to stare at the dark skin and shadowed face of the Dunmer in front of her. As if noticing he was holding her, Brynjolf let the girl go and moved with his companion. Lila felt a tinge in her chest she couldn’t place. “Brynjolf we’ve talked about ladies of the night.”
“Hush Rylda, that lass isn’t one of them.” He said quickly, the light must be playing tricks because Lila thought she could see a red twinge on his face. There was another explosion this one closer. Lila tensed, she wasn’t combat ready, she didn’t even own a daggar. She clasped the pouch around her neck and rushed into the street with the others.
She could see them now, Reachmen and their Briarhearts. Flames erupted around the city. She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. There was something deep inside stirring and it felt as if it was in her throat. Her lithe fingers dipped into the pouch as she called upon the power within her. She threw her hand out, letting a pinch of firesalt out as she did. It erupted into flames, coursing until it made the body of an atronach.
A hand clasped her shoulder and she could smell the thick spice as the man whispered into her ear. “Good luck lass, if you make it alive, remember the card.” His breathe tickled her neck and she turned just to see the glimmer in his eye as he moved away with his companion, disappearing into the shadows.
Lila had no choice but to move, as quickly as possible to the inn. She needed to find Gidion and escape, either home or to the castle. The atronach following closely, combating any threats, which only amounted to a couple of Reachmen which was easily disposed of as its master’s feet fled from the scene. The only combat training Lila had ever received was how to evade attacks. She had no armor, no defenses.
The flames licked the outside of the inn. The smell of burned flesh was heavy in the air as Lila stood in front of it. Tears threatened to overflow as she took in the site. A man was flayed, his skin stretched in front of the door, a message scrawled in blood. She could barely breathe, hands clasped tightly over her mouth. The man was breathing but barely. His remaining skin badly scorched. There was no doubt who the man was or who the message was for.
It was Gidion. Barely alive, it was Gidion. His ebony bow and sheath of arrows were cast to the side with his black cloack with the crest of Alcaire on it. She moved quietly to pick up his weapon, never using one before she was unsure if she even could. Her small hands clasped around the weapon she knocked an arrow and drew back as much as she could, the tension of the bow straining the muscles in her arm. Taking aim she held her breath, tears streaming down her now soot covered face. Letting the arrow fly, it met its mark, and Gidion was no more.
She picked up his cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders. She grasped the bow and slid the arrows over her shoulder staring quietly at the scene. As she walked away, the Atronach following her, circling and flipping behind her as there were no enemies near.
The words written in, what she could only assume, Gidion’s blood were in her mind’s eye. The message was clear. She was the one supposed to die.
The Reach Orphan is Dead.