Skyrim Unbound: Profit and Loss

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  1. Evesa looked around at the carnage. Hideous blood splotches filled the path, and the carcasses of three dragons all lay around her. There were myths that some called “Dovahkiin” or “Dragonborn” could take in a dragon's soul, and that when they did the skin of a dragon peeled off leaving only the bones, as its soul was absorbed by the Dovahkiin. Needless to say, none of that happened here. But what did happen is that Evesa sat on the ground for a few minutes, keeping her weapons nearby, but also just allowing herself to recover from that terrible fight.

    Now was the next problem... how to take all of this stuff to a city to sell. Evesa swore to herself that the next thing she was going to buy with all of this gold would be a horse to help her carry everything and a house to hide all of her stuff in. There seemed to be no one still alive. On the bright side, even if it meant a lot of back and forth to get this stuff to Markarth, the nearest city, Evesa knew she was going to be rich at the end of it. So with that comforting thought, she stood and began disrobing the soldiers, taking the bit of gold they had on them and stacking “cleaned” bodies into a nice pile while organizing her loot into another one. Afterwards, she would have to dissect these dragons for all the bones and scales she could salvage. Those could be very valuable to the local blacksmiths and alchemy shops. Some wealthy patrons even displayed them in their houses to pretend that they had killed the beast themselves.

    The Dunmer had only worked for a minute or two when she heard a rustle in one of the dragon carcasses. It was that halfling kid from the other night. For a split second, she considered just letting the prisoner get away, but an idea occurred to her. "Hey you, yeah... I see you. I need some help carrying organizing and carrying this junk until I can sell it. If you come along and help me, I'll pay you 30 gold a day plus another 30 for helping me with this organization now. Interested?" her voice sounded a bit harsh, but gold was gold.

    If this girl agreed to it, it would be a win-win. She could get some help moving this stuff, and then sell the girl to the mine to cover her losses.

    "Or, if you don't like that idea ... I could just kill you now and get it over with," Evesa threatened after a short moment's pause.
    #1 T'Shara, Jan 4, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2014
  2. It was quiet now. The dragons had finally fallen, as had almost all of the Imperial soldiers guarding the caravan. All of Ryti's fellow conficts had been burned to a crisp. She rubbed a thumb absentmindedly over the leather armor she had gotten from the corpse of one of the three dragons, the other hand was clamped around the lockpick she had used to break out of her chains.

    The blood seemed to pass right by her pitch black eyes. She wasn't truly looking at the carnage before her. She was trying to decide how she felt about this sudden freedom, before she took off running. It would make a difference in the future, and the belief that she deserved to live might be the only thing that kept her alive should she be forced to fight. She did not wish that the dragons had come, because that wish would have meant the death of everyone around her. But she could not honestly say that she wouldn't have traded all of their lives for her own freedom. They had fought admirably, and perished bravely. That was little comfort to the dead, but they could not truly hate their lot, could they?

    And she was free now. The brisk air was sweet, and the forest waiting just a few paces away seemed to beckon to her. She could run, trusting to the fact that she would be able to survive the cold weather and beasts of Skyrim long enough to find some place that would welcome her. Truly, there was no need to return to Cyrrodil. She would be no more welcome there now than she had been before, and even though they would never connect her to one of the thousand sent away after the rebellion against the Dominion, they would not welcome her.

    Skyrim was a beautiful country, and she could learn to appreciate it. She already admired it for its rugged beauty, for how it transformed the people who inhabited it into survivors. Now she just had to let it do the same to her.

    It had been quiet for long enough that Ryti was starting to believe that she was the only one to have survived the attack. Still, she was careful as she peered around the corpse of the frost dragon that she had used as a shield. She ducked ehr head back quickly when she saw something moving. Someone else had survived.

    Ryti flinched violently when she heard the voice speak. She recognized it, even though the mercenary was a new addition to the caravan. Just what she needed, a guard survived. Maybe if she made a run for it, she could get away? No, probably not.

    Listening to the rest of the mercenary's proposition, Ryti frowned lightly, but carefully crawled her way out from behind the dragon. She had no doubt that the elf's threat was not idle, and was not something that she should try and cross without a very solid reason. Besides, maybe she really did only want help. Maybe as soon as she was done carrying this stuff, she would be let go. Besides, 60 gold could go a long ways towards making sure that she did not starve to death, even if she did find a town.

    Ryti stood up, large eyes blinking worriedly. She nodded, hesitantly at first, and then a little more firmly. She bent down and picked up a sword and shield laying next to one of the Imperial soldiers. The silver shield was heavy, and her arm quivered a little bit. She hurried quickly over to the mercenary, and carefully set down the items. She scanned the field rapidly, quickly finding the locations of the rest of the imperial shields. Most of the guards had been carrying one, but some had been severely damaged by the dragon attack. Did she want those too?
  3. Evesa could not help but smirk ever so slightly. She had been sure that even this frail young girl would try to negotiate at least to 40 gold per day. No wonder such a weak and pathetic girl had allowed herself to be captured and sent to the mines. But whatever, weak people were of course always easier to control, and after fighting an unheard of trio of dragons, Evesa was in no mood for trouble. The mercenary ran her gray fingers through her dark brown hair, realizing she should provide some guidelines on what she wanted, since this stupid child likely had no idea what was even valuable.

    “Hey, kid! Be sure to remove the armor from the bodies, along with the shields and weapons. Anything that's dented or damaged, put it in one pile, and the stuff that looks whole, put it in another pile right here,” Evesa instructed, drawing a spot in the sand with her foot. “Check the packs for any food or odds and ends and put all of that kind of stuff in a third pile. If you see any gold in the packs, bring it straight to me. I'll work on salvaging bones and scales from the dragon corpses since I probably have more experience with that kind of thing.” She pulled an Orcish dagger out of her foot and pointed it towards Ryti threateningly. “And one more thing... if you are good and play your cards right, I might even let you keep some of this stuff... but if you try and hold out on me... you'll wish you had died in that dragon attack. Are we clear?”
  4. Ryti quickly turned her back on the mercenary in an attempt to conceal the look of disgust that quickly flitted across her face. Instead, she focused on the corpses littering the field. This was way more trouble than Ryti was looking for. It seemed that the mercenary truly could not conceive of the fact that she was not looking to come out of this "on top". For her, it was a miracle to even be alive, with no chain clamped firmly around her ankle. But still, the blank eyes of the soldiers seemed to stare at her accusingly, condemning her for her actions.

    You won't miss it, she scolded them mentally. You might as well let the living keep it.

    It was unplesant to root among the corpses. Most of them were leaking unpleasant fluids, and Ryti did her best to skirt the puddles and keep it off her leather armor. There was a chance, if it got into the material, that she would never get the smell out. Most of the armor came off easily, but occasionally a ripped arm or fractured rib punctured through the torso kept her from easily removing the armor. She tugged at it, constantly keeping both the mercenary woman and the edge of the forest in sight. Could she make a break for it? Could she survive if she did?

    There were doubtless few morals holding Evesa in place. There was nothing to keep her from killing Ryti as soon as she finished gathering everything together. The leather armor she wore now was hardly in top condition, but it was better than some of the trash she was pulling off the soldiers. But it was probably an honest offer, and this was a lot of goods. The piles were still coming together, but it was starting to mount up. It was doubtful the elf would be able to carry all this by herself. Even with Ryti's aid, they would doubtless have to leave some of it behind. And that wouldn't sit well with the mercenary, since any stranger who happened long the path would be able to take them as well. That made her survival pas the next couple of hours more likely. But after she had finished with Ryti, would she honestly let her go?

    In the end, her life was too important for her to dare contradict the mercenary. Ryti kept her instructions firmly in mind, sorting the armor with care, handing over a small pile of gold and creating a pile of many stray items. Throughout it all, she never spoke a word. Her mind was on her debate. Did she risk her life to get free now, or put her faith in the future. She did not expect anyone or anything to make an opportunity for her. That would have been a perfect example of the vanity her mother had taught her to shun from her very birth. The aedra and daedra had their own concerns, and would not wish to bother with her pleas. If they wanted to aid her, they would aid her, whether she asked for it or not.

    In the end, Ryti chose to put her commitment to the future. She did not trust that she could get away cleanly. And her life was too important for her to risk that. It was the same reason she had chosen to travel north on the prison caravan to Skyrim, rather than be hanged. She had put her faith in the future, and it had worked out.

    She was making a final scan of the field, looking for anything she might have missed in her first few scans of the field. And she couldn't help the small welling of pride she felt when she found nothing. Ryti did not have much going for her in terms of combat, but she trusted in her eyes and her own thoroughness. Despite her lack of finding more things, she continued her detailed scan until she had worked her way back to the piles of stuff. She quickly sorted her way through the stuff as well, giving everything a quick scan to make sure she had put it into the correct pile. When she had completed that she stood, lacing her fingers together behind her back.

    She might obey the mercenary, but she had no real plans to make this easy on her. She wouldn't fight, she wouldn't resist, but she did not plan to be proactive, either. She had completed her task, and now she waited for new instructions, as silent as ever, big black eyes blinking in the bright Skyrim sun.
  5. Evesa worked carefully in disassembling the dragon corpses. Each one had over three hundred septims hidden within, along with several potions and pieces of armor and weapons. The most notable finds were a glass bow, an ebony dagger, and elven armor, all of which Evesa put together in a “use” pile. bothering to put them into the “keep” pile. The mercenary had taken off her armor at this point, because the corpses were oozing black blood, and Evesa was disgustingly covered in it. Hacking and slashing on dragon corpses may not have been the most glamorous work, but it was difficult to make a living in Skyrim without getting your hands dirty in some way, and this was one of the best ways to make the most gold for the least effort. If you could combine the ability to kill some folks and loot their corpses out in the wilderness with some expert smithing and enchanting skills, then you could easily set yourself up for life.

    Evesa had left Windhelm's Gray Quarter after spending a year or two honing her skills fighting captured animals in the Pits. Soon after she had saved up a couple thousand septims, she had realized it was time to try and make her way out in the real world. In the wilderness of Skyrim, there was treasure to be had, and power to be found. Whereas in the city, Evesa had not even been allowed to buy a house with her earnings because the Gray Quarter was full and the other homes with “For Sale” signs were always suddenly and mysteriously off the market if you were a Dark Elf, a Khajit, or an Argonian.

    The outlaw of Talos worship by the Thalmor was no excuse for such racism, for the Thalmor was composed of Altmer, and yet many High Elves were relatively accepted in Windhelm compared to their Dunmer cousins. The system made zero sense. Evesa, on the other hand, was simple, she killed for mostly for profit and a shot at power, and was willing to eliminate anyone who got in the way of these pursuits... if she could get away with it.

    It took over an hour, but she finally got through the corpses, and had two sizable piles, one of bones, and one of assorted scales, to show for it. Without even thinking about how she was covered in black viscous, dragon blood, she left the piles for a second to talk to her new “assistant,” who seemed to have been done for a while.

    “Hope you enjoyed your break... time to get back to work. We need to bury most of this stuff until I can buy a wagon in Markarth... grab my spade and start working while I take a freaking bath in the river. This blood is disgusting,” she commanded casually, already taking off her ruined tunic. She took some of the dead soldiers' clothes from the pile and strode over to the water.
  6. Ryti had never seen a demon before, but surely the creature striding towards her now must come close. Namira alone would be pleased with the way she looked, covered in the viscus, reeking bile. And her eyes certainly matched the general descriptions Ryti had been told when she was a child. But she didn't recoil from this new and unpleasant master as she strode close. She stayed exactly where she was, calm and relaxed, at least in appearance.

    It was awkward to try and find the spade among Evesa's things. There was no doubt she would have to rummage, and Ryti could only imagine what might happen if the mercenary decided, arbitrarily or not, that Ryti had stolen something of hers. It would be the ultimate excuse for her elimination. If she even needed an excuse. Ryti fingered her way quickly through the things, never touching anything with more than two of her delicate digits. As soon as she spotted it Ryti snagged it, and quickly retreated from the packs.

    There was a lot of stuff, and the soil of Skyrim was rocky. This digging was not going to be an easy task. She stared at the piles she had made, now intimately familiar with their contents, and quickly estimated the size of the four or five mid-sized pits that would be required to bury everything, without the disturbance being blatantly obvious. She sunk the spade into the ground, and quickly worked her way around the edge of the first pit, leaving a six-inch gouge to mark the size of the pit. As soon as that was finished, she went to work on the second one, and quickly repeated the process.

    Without a full shovel this was going to take forever. Ryti could already imagine that she felt a blister forming on her hand. The guards might not want to do anything themselves, but there was only so much physical labor they could foist off to the prisoners. Especially onto one as small as Ryti. She had not done much digging in the past months of travel, and while she was fit, and had a good stamina for her size, that did not make her particularly strong.

    But there was no sense in complaining, even in her head. The mercenary seemed busy in the river, but once more Ryti rejected the idea of trying to make a break for it. The last thing she wanted was a half-naked mercenary charging her down in the woods.
  7. As Evesa lazed away in the river, allowing it to wash all of the dragon blood away from her skin and hair, she made sure to keep an eye on what her new “assistant” was doing by the bones. It was obvious that the girl would be an awful guard if a passing thief or adventurer tried to take some part of the bounty. But the frail little thing was proving to be useful worker.

    The feel of the river's current running through her hair felt incredible, as the water's own force removed the blood without any soap, though it helped that her white hair was cut very short for a female. Once or twice, Evesa had considered shaving the rest of it off, but that would have been seen as unattractive. Not that the adventurer particularly cared about attractiveness herself, but being pretty enough to seduce a lonely man had led to profit in various ways on more than a few occasions.

    After only about ten minutes, the mercenary finally got out of the river and toweled off with one set of dead soldier's clothes while putting on a different set of tunic and pants. She walked back to Ryti, who had made reasonable progress with the holes, and began to assist with her bare hands. While it might have been amusing to watch the diminutive girl do all the work herself, Evesa's more logical side knew they were at risk for as long as this junk was out here.

    When the holes were almost finished, the mercenary stood and began categorizing what they would take in five bags, three for her and two for Ryti, while putting the rest in other fur or leather packs to protect it from the elements.

    “You know, kid... you never told me your name,” she commented as she brought the first few bags to bury.
  8. A part of her had wondered whether or not the mercenary was going to help her. There was no doubt, had she wanted to, she could have left all the digging to Ryti. And there was nothing that she could do about it. But there was no doubt that they would have been there until long after sunset, and lingering around a scene of such butchering was not exactly clever.

    She fell into a rhythm eventually, the shovel piercing into the soil, lifting away a small handful, which Ryti heaped neatly around the edge of the pit. She finished her outlining of the pits even once the mercenary came back from her bath. These pits needed to be efficient, because every shovelful took time. A pit that was even four inches too long might add another fifteen minutes to the process. It was a very good thing that she did not have to do this by herself.

    Eventually, the pits were dug. They had been working in silence for quite a while, and the mercenary's voice almost took her by surprise. At first Ryti recoiled, believing that now that the labor was done, she might wind up seeing the "mercy" of the mercenary. There was a chance that she had literally just dug her own grave. She did relax, only slightly, when she heard the question the mercenary was asking. Names were humanizing. They gave meaning to a person, made them more than just another body.

    "Rytinyian," she whispered, bending her head forward slightly. However, knowing there was no way the mercenary could have heard that properly, she lifted her head, trying to be bold. "Ryti," she said again.
  9. “Nice to meet you, I'm Evesa. I'd shake your hand, but...” Evesa took a long look at her hands and the dirt under her fingernails, almost wishing she had taken the shovel when she finished her bath. But she had decided the least she could do was to not intentionally make things too difficult on the girl. After all, in about six weeks' time, Ryti would have more than enough work in the mine.

    The adventurer handed Ryti two over-full bags of mostly-clean dragon bones. “Pick up some of the Imperial light armor while you are here. There's plenty of it, and most of it is in somewhat better condition than that leather you found. She also gave the girl her old orcish dagger, since the mercenary would not be needing it anymore. “Take one of their bows too. They are fairly sturdy, and enough clothes to keep you warm. It's cold where we are going.”

    In addition to the three bags of bones and other various goodies Evesa had found, she also sheathed her new glass bow onto her back, donned an elven cuirass, and put the ebony dagger into the special spot in her custom boots, which she chose not to replace. Sometimes comfort and the ability to move quickly was more important than more armor on your feet. Other than that, she had a fourth bag that held all the food and various types of arrows she had been able to recover from the caravan.

    Everything else, Evesa quickly placed into the holes and covered herself, without asking Ryti to help her. The mercenary wanted to remember the placements as easily as possible. She made a note in her logbook regarding the location and the position of the treasure for when she had time to return. Like all of her other “treasure notes” it used a cryptic shorthand that only she would understand.

    “Let's get going. It's only a few hours before dark, and we are at least ten days' walk from Morthal. With any luck we can sell a bit of this stuff at Falkreath and lighten the load a bit.
  10. Ryti took the bags with no small measure of trepidation. They weighed down on her arms, and for a moment she allowed herself to wonder whether or not they would rip her arms right out of her sockets. She signed, quickly dropping the bags to the ground, before taking the dagger that the mercenary proffered to her. She slid out of her crisped leather armor, and found a clean set of Imperial Light Armor. It fit well enough, although it was somewhat loose on her small frame. She slid a bow on top of one of the bags, and boldly took a few arrows to go with it. The endeavor was mostly useless, as Ryti had never actually shot a bow before. The chances of her being able to hit anything were probably quite small. Despite that, having two weapons within easy reach did a lot to calm her down. She had been a prisoner for so long that she had almost forgotten what it felt like to have some control over her own fate.

    Once she was properly fitted out, Ryti returned her attention to the bags she was expected to carry. She had studied some maps of Tamriel when she was young, and while the map of Skyrim was more than a little hazy she still knew it was a long ways to Falkreath, and even further to Morthal. She sat down somewhat heavily while Evesa began to fill in the holes they had dug, her eyes focused somewhat blearily on the bags. She moved towards them, and began to poke the material.

    By the time Evesa was done filling everything in, Ryti had improvised a way to join the two packs together, using clothes that had been too damaged to be of any value. They could now be tipped on their sides and strapped around her waist, taking much of their weight off her shoulders. She sat down and lashed herself in before staggering carefully back to her feet. It was like walking around with a second of herself riding piggy-back, but it was manageable. If there was one thing the long march from Cyrodiil had gained her, it was the ability to keep moving one foot in front of the other. She fell into pace behind the mercenary, breathing deeply and evenly. This was going to be a long series of days. But she wasn’t going to complain either. She may not be much use, but Ryti had always been a trooper, even when she was a child and had to deal with the fact that food on the table was as hit or miss as the generosity of strangers.

    That didn’t make her any more talkative than when she had been digging. She kept her eyes downcast, watching one foot kick out ahead of the other, the pebbles rolling away from where she stepped down, the small clouds of dust that rose around Evesa’s feet. She tried not to think about what would happen if a saber cat or bear ambushed them, tried not to think about what hope she really had in Skyrim. She had lived most of her life as a beggar, but the cold scared her. Who would want to hire a half-breed, in a place where those with pure lineage were still discriminated against? She had no more place here than she had in the prison wagon.
  11. Evesa was impressed by Ryti's contraption to tie her packs together to make them easier to carry. More specifically, she was mildly impressed that the girl had figured out the common traveling technique so quickly. Perhaps she was not quite as stupid as she seemed.

    It had occurred to the mercenary that it could be dangerous to give her new assistant her own weapons. But if a troll or something attacked, the child needed to be able to defend herself. Evesa was in no mood to play an “escort some defenseless idiot” quest for the next six weeks. Besides, Ryti would likely still be so unskilled with a bow and dagger that when the time came, the adventurer would easily be able to overcome her. Learning to properly fight and wield each kind of weapon took a few months to be “decent,” and years to be a true master. And that was with daily practice. It was not unlike playing a complex instrument, such as the harpsichord or the flute... except that a “wrong note,” or a miscalculated swing, could mean death. There was a reason the lifespan of the common bandit was painfully short. They were unskilled heathens who attacked anyone no matter how skilled that person looked. The ones who had tried to rob her of late had seen a rather swift end to their careers.

    Evesa had learned never to look down, always ahead and in every direction. And up, definitely up too. It was never a good idea to let your mind wander, especially when traveling alone. And Evesa was essentially alone, with only the semi-sentient pack mule for company.

    Somewhere along the way in the silent hike, the narcissistic mercenary decided that her new “assistant” could potentially be rather amusing. She wandered just how much of the work she could get the girl to do for a paltry 30 gold a day, how rude she could be to the girl before the weakling finally said something. How much would it take for this quiet prisoner to actually try to stand up for herself?

    After only about an hour, the Dunmer decided it was time to set up camp and eat something, and also time to have a bit of fun with the new girl. She stopped at a clearing near a wide and peaceful stretch of the river and put down her bags.

    “It's been a long day, and it's only an hour to dusk. Pitch the tent and start the cooking fire. The supplies are in this bag,” Evesa ordered coldly, tossing a rather heavy supply bag at the girl's feet. Lazily, she sat down in what seemed a soft area of grass and read a book she had taken from a dead soldier, seeming to ignore Ryti completely, and most certainly not lifting a finger to help.
    #11 T'Shara, Jan 22, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2014
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  12. The clearing was neat and grassy, and when she saw Evesa come to a stop and drop the bags Ryti sagged gratefully down. She quickly undid the ropes around her waist, and carefully leaned back until the two packs were laying safely on the ground. She somehow doubted that dragon bones were particularly prone to breaking, but that did not make her any more inclined to risk them by dropping the pack. That, and the mercenary's potential anger was more than enough incentive for her to take the few extra seconds.

    She only got a couple seconds of quietly panting rest before she heard the mercenary speak again. Had she not been so generally exhausted, Ryti might have laughed. The mercenary wanted her to set up camp? The little city elf who had never had reason to go camping in her life? The fire she could manage. Skyrim may be wet, but Ryti had been making fires since she was five years old. Her ability to coax a flame from damp wood could almost be called legendary. But she had no doubt that her attempts to set up the tent would only end in disaster. Her natural instinct was to think 'how hard could it be?' but as complicated as her life had become in the last couple hours, there was always the possibility that the answer would be 'very hard'. In fact, she would not be afraid to call it probable.

    But there was nothing else to be done. The mercenary may be paying her gold for her work right now, but she had no doubt, until those items got sold, she was a prisoner. Maybe even until after that. Ryti longed to get away, longed to make a break for it and see how far her own willpower could get her in Skyrim, but she knew Evesa wouldn't let that happen. Maybe there was even some reward waiting for her in Solitude, which was why she had signed up with the caravan in the first place. So, until the perfect opportunity prevented itself, Ryti would do her best to just blend into the background; as much as she could when always under the mercenary's eye. At the right moment, perhaps she would dare to let her guard down. That would be the moment she would break for the hills. Maybe she would even make it. This was a better chance than she would ever have gotten chained to the wagon with the rest of the prisoners. And if no opportunity for escape presented itself, she would not be any different than she was if those dragons came.

    So, feeling nothing but a sweet little optimism for her situation, Ryti worked her way back to her feet. She scampered her way over to the bag and once more began to carefully finger her way through it. She found the heavy canvas of the tent within a couple of seconds, and quickly dragged it out of the bag. It took her several minutes to sort through all the poles, stakes, ropes, and cloth, but she found that the layout was more simple than she would have hoped. Satisfied with this particular endeavor, and also not quite ready to embark upon the effort of actually setting it up, Ryti walked her way quickly about the clearing, testing fallen wood and gathering handfuls of dry, dead grass. She also noted the locations of several large rocks, which would be necessary for forming the fire ring. The climate may be relatively moist, but it was also most likely easy to burn. The last thing she wanted to do was set off a wildfire. So, satisfied that everything she would need to get the fire going was within ten paces, she walked back to the center of the clearing and began to clear a space where the fire would burn. She dug a small depression, before lugging over the rocks and setting up a small, teepee shaped cone of wood and tinder. She then quickly gathered some more wood, so that she would not need to go running off while her fire was still just an infant, and set about lighting it. She hummed sweetly as the flames began to lick up the wood, a few simple notes repeated over and over in a haunting melody.

    Ryti had never been afraid of work. Her mother had introduced her to the Aedra when she was very young, saving the darker and more contradictory Daedra for when she was old enough to comprehend how to fit their expectations into her life. And one of her mother's favorite fall-backs, something that Ryti had heard ever since she was old enough to help out, had been the creed of Zenithar. The importance of honest labor, and the joy that could be gained from it. That might have been a point of resentment between mother and daughter had her mother tried to use it as a way to get Ryti to do her work. But her mother had followed those same tenants so honestly that the young Ryti could not help but come to love it the same way.

    Evesa's tasks may not have been her ideal way to spend the evening after a dragon attack, but the movement of her body and the way things slowly came together brought her pleasure. She smiled vaguely as the flame set about devouring its tinder, and, with no other side tasks to distract her any longer, walked back over to the tent.

    She dove into its construction with vigor, desperately trying to work through the tangles that would get it set up. Her smile slowly faded, replaced by a look of intent concentration. She had the tent halfway up when one of the supports suddenly gave out, sending the whole thing toppling to the ground again, undoing almost all of her neat attempts to get it laid out properly. She let out a small sigh, surveyed her poor handiwork, and dove back in to try again.
  13. Evesa too was inwardly grinning from ear to ear (though outwardly she maintained her rather gruff and cold facade) for apart from the minor issue of “nearly dying,” that triple dragon attack had been the most profitable moment of her career. She had new weapons and armor, which she could improve with her own (admittedly unskilled) blacksmith's touch, and sell for fairly high prices. Better yet, she now had more dragon scales and bones than she could possibly sell in three cities. Not to mention, there was four times what they carried waiting for her underground back at the attack site. As a bonus, she had enough arrows to last her the next three months, enough food for several days, and a lovely little slave who seemed all too eager to do her bidding.

    The mercenary glanced up from her book, Captain Tullius' rather amusing journal, a tale of the man's thoughts that was lewd and lascivious enough to make her glad the man was dead. She looked over to where the poor half-breed was pitching the tent, or rather unsuccessfully attempting to pitch the tent. She smirked coldly and glared at the girl, raising an eyebrow as she got up. “You're really useless at this, aren't you? Watch me closely so that you don't screw it up next time,” was all she said before roughly shoving Ryti aside and doing the job herself in about five minutes.

    When Evesa was finished, she turned and looked at the Ryti's fire. To her own surprise, she could find nothing to criticize about it, and decided that the little half-breed had done a good job on that front. Not that she would ever tell her, though. The firepit was already nearly hot enough to begin cooking. She had already removed her armor and wrapped a fur cloak around herself, as the night was growing colder. After briefly considering ordering Ryti to swim in the deep (and freezing cold) river to catch some fish, she decided against it. Hypothermia was a rather annoying problem, and even though she wanted to get under the girl's skin, she did not want to lose her to the current or the cold either.

    The dark-elf knelt down near to the fire and sorted out several vegetables and a single hunk of pre-cooked meat from her pack. Handing half of the vegetables to Ryti she said, “Take your dagger, a semi-clean piece of cloth, and chop these up. We are having soup tonight.” Meanwhile, Evesa set to work gathering the water from the lake and boiling it, then began chopping up her own slightly smaller vegetable set, munching on her venison haunch as she worked.
    #13 T'Shara, Jan 24, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2014
  14. Ryti took the shove good-naturedly, since it only somewhat connected. She stepped sideways, moving behind Evesa and watched her finish the tent setup. Too intimidated to ask questions, it was likely that there was no way Ryti would be able to cleanly set up the tent the next time, but she was a quick learner, and the basics would go a long way towards allowing her to do it by herself.

    She did beam when Evesa went over to the fire and sat down without saying a word. Ryti had worked for a lot of people over the years of her childhood, most of whom only hired her to find someone to abuse. Evesa seemed like one of those types, someone who loved to take advantage and reprimand, so her silence was most likely good praise. At the moment, no critiques was probably the best thing for her, since her relationship with the unstable mercenary was almost entirely one-sided.

    The cloth was easy enough to find, and she quickly set to work chopping the vegetables. The knife was unfamiliar in her hand, since she had only ever worked with a kitchen knife, and most daggers were meant more for stabbing than clean slicing. But she welcomed the practice, and every few slices would change her grip on the blade until she found something that she could work with. It was an honest surprise to her that the best way to hold a dagger to slice was not the best way to hold a kitchen knife. She wiggled her fingers, feeling satisfied, and focused her attention back on the vegetables.

    Ryti took over the cooking without having to be prompted, gathering Evesa's chopped vegetables and adding them to the pot along with her own efficiently minced bunch. She settled back once they were in the water, and cast her gaze around the clearing. The herbs of Skyrim were somewhat of an unknown factor to her, and she had no desire to accidentally poison herself and her new traveling companion, but unless Evesa carried spices with her the soup was going to be little more than lumpy water. She cast a brief, longing gaze towards the haunch of meat, but quickly dismissed it from her mind. She silently resolved that she really needed to know how to use a bow. There was no guarantee that they would run into anything eatable, but if they did Ryti wanted to be ready.

    Satisfied that the stew was well underway, Ryti fluidly got to her feet and began to walk away. She picked the closest bush, knelt by it, and rubbed two of the leaves between her fingers, inhaling the sharp scent they released. She shook her head, wiped her fingers on her pants, and moved onto the next bush. This one released a familiar scent, even before she crushed the leaves. She buried her nose in it, and deeply inhaled the clean small of sage, before picking off a few handfuls of leaves. She walked back to Evesa, and proffered the leaves. She didn't need conformation to know that this one would make a great spice, but nor did she want to give the mercenary any excuse to wonder about what she was doing.
  15. Evesa was finished with her vegetables a at around the same time as Ryti, and had stood up to take both sets to the pot when, to her surprise, her little assistant took them from her. She watched curiously but approvingly as Ryti set to work preparing the soup without even being asked. The mercenary sat back down and observed the girl with interest, and then mild suspicion as she went to the bushes, wondering what she was trying to do.

    She was pleasantly surprised when the half-breed returned with the sage leaves, and gave a curt nod of approval to tell the girl to put them into the soup. After rummaging through her pack, she found a clove of garlic as well, and handed it to Ryti to slice and add.

    “I normally just add a bit of salt to my bowl instead of adding spices to the actual soup... but today is a special occasion, I suppose, with the dragon attack and all” she commented, completely neglecting to actually thank Ryti for her contribution and acting wholly like she had expected the initiative. She pulled out some salt but did not give it to Ryti to add. “Salt is difficult to get a hold of around here. We'll use less of it if we spice to taste. But I'll leave it out.”

    Given that the girl was going well above and beyond what any reasonable person would put up with for 30 gold a day, and then doing more that she was not even asked... the mercenary felt ever-so-slightly guilty about not having given her any meat. That pathetic longing in her eyes was difficult to get out of her head. And well, it was never good to have the person preparing your food resent you. So she rummaged in her bag again and pulled out two cuts of smoked salmon and two loaves of bread, handing one of each item to Ryti and saving the other two to go with her own meal when the soup was finished. That was probably the closest she would come to actually saying thank you for the girl's cooking skills.
  16. Ryti took the garlic delicately with the tips of her fingers, before moving over to the pot. She teased the garlic with her knife, cutting it into fine ribbons that she slowly dropped into the soup, where the hot water grabbed the thin slices and quickly carried them away. She nodded shortly when Evesa told her to leave out the salt and carefully kneeled down close to the fire so that she could keep an eye on the soup.

    It took er a moment to notice the salmon and bread that was being proffered to her. But, when she did, a happy childish grin spread across her face, and she snagged the food. She put the salmon close to her nose and took a slow, deep breath, almost the same as she had done with the sage. It was smoky and warm smelling, far different from the little scraps she had managed to pick up the last time she had slipped through the fishmarket. There was no doubt that meat had been a massive luxury all her life, one that she almost never had gotten the chance to indulge upon. The Imperial guards hadn't given her any when they had been traveling north, either. Even though they had the provisions, it was general consensus that the guards kept the best things for themselves and themselves alone. The prisoners were convicts, nothing more, and didn't deserve anything special. They could spend the rest of their lives eating gruel, for all that most of the guards cared.

    She nibbled carefully on the corner of the salmon steak, taking a small piece into her mouth and chewing it, before allowing her eyes to flutter closed in pleasure. It may have been prepared simply, but it was still the first taste of meat she had gotten in several months, and she was determined to enjoy it. She continued to chew on it slowly as the stew cooked, and still had over half the fish left when she dished the soup out into the bowls. She handed Evesa one of the bowls, careful not to spill any of the boiling liquid, before dipping a piece of her own bread into the soup to allow it to soak up the broth. She ate slowly, taking the time to enjoy the food, mixing together the bread, salmon, and tender vegetables as she felt like it. She carefully cleared her bowl of every drop, picked up a couple of the larger crumbs of bread, and stuck the last piece of fish into her mouth. As soon as she had finished chewing, Ryti took Evesa's empty bowl, stood up, and walked over to the creek. They cleaned out quickly, since they had only had water in them, but she still cupped some of the cold creek water into the bowls and scrubbed them out with her fingers.

    That task completed, Ryti stood up, walked back over to the fire, and set the bowls back in Evesa's pack. She lightly set her cold fingertips onto one of the rocks around the fire ring, letting the heat seep slowly back into the appendages. She yawned widely, her eyes dropping halfway closed, before throwing a sleepy smile in Evesa's direction. Maybe she would actually get a warm blanket tonight.
  17. Evesa had been amused by the childish grin that lit up her assistant's face when she had offered the food. It was two days old, caught when the prisoner's caravan had stopped for some fishing. It almost made her heart sink for the girl that she would be so appreciative of a simple gift, because it meant that she really was used to having nothing. Not for the last time, Evesa felt a twinge of guilt at the idea of condemning her to Folskyg Mine just for a few thousand gold. She pushed the thought aside however... that was a lot of coin after all.

    She tasted her soup tentatively... and realized that it was already so flavorful that the salt was unnecessary. So she packed the spice away from another night and broke up her salmon into the bowl. The mercenary was genuinely impressed that her new slave was such a good cook. Now if only she could fight, or fish, or really do anything else. But maybe she could be taught to defend herself, and for now, the adventurer could easily defend both of them.

    Just as the dark-elf was about to order Ryti to go and wash the bowls, she realized the half-breed had already gotten up and done that too. But when the girl was done with her task, she had those pathetic, exhausted eyes, and she could not find it in her heart to make her take the first watch. Besides, all of this could still be a ruse for the seemingly-innocent girl to profit on her own.

    “In that bag, you will find a few outfits of clothes and three cloaks. Hand me one, and take the other two for yourself to sleep with. If you find anything in there warmer than what you are wearing, take it to wear tomorrow. I'll keep watch tonight,” she ordered, settling herself down to keep watch through the night, for though Evesa was a light sleeper, she still did not trust this quiet, sneaky girl to keep watch while she slept.

    “Goodnight,” the mercenary commented coldly, when Ryti handed her the item.


    Evesa kept herself awake and entertained during the watch by reading some more, watching and stoking the fire, and looking up at Skyrim's gorgeous night sky. The latter was one of the few things she truly loved about this harsh and unforgiving landscape. An hour before dawn, she entered the small tent and awakened the frail-looking girl with a harsh shake.

    “Wake up! We have work to do. I want to have this camp packed up in fifteen minutes and be on our way. If we hurry, we can reach Falkreath by late night.”
  18. Ryti's eyes snapped back open when Evesa spoke to her, and she quickly reached over to the pack and dragged it towards her. By now she was starting to become somewhat familiar with its contents, and it didn't take her long to dig out the requested articles of clothing. She handed one of the cloaks over to Evesa before turning her attention back to the clothes laid out before her. She ran her fingers lightly over the different materials, before dragging the two cloaks and one additional shirt to her chest. She packed away the rest of the clothes, folding them carefully, before standing up and walking over towards the tent. She hesitated when she drew close the the flap of the tent, the clothing still hugged tight to her bosom, before turning back to Evesa. "Good night," she said softly, before crawling in.

    Ryti spent the night huddled in one corner of the tent, knees curled up towards her chest and the three impromptu blankets heaped on top of her. One strand of hair fluttered in the current of air that came from her mouth, but other than that she was completely still. It had been a long time since Ryti had been able to sleep without any worry, and somehow the fact that the mercenary was on guard made her feel more safe than less. Her sleep was deep and dreamless, and more satisfying than two nights of sleep while she had been traveling with the caravan.

    Ryti wasn't quite ready to wake up when Evesa crawled into the tent and roughly shook her, but after an unintelligible sleepy murmur she pushed herself up into a sitting position. The hair on one side of her head was mussed up, but she quickly ran her fingers through the straight brown locks and it fell mostly back into place. She fished the warm shirt from between the cloaks and quickly pulled it over her head. The shirt was too large for her and fell down to a little past mid-thigh, but she gathered the hem in her hands and knotted it up at hip-level to keep it out of her way. She dragged out the few items that had spent the night in the tent, placed them by the fire, and quickly returned to the tent.

    It came down a lot easier than it went up, but properly folding and storing it left Ryti baffled. She closed her eyes desperately trying to remember what it had looked like when she had pulled it out of the bag, but all she came up with was the image of the fire late in the evening, and the smell of smoked salmon. There was no way she could do it by herself, but did she dare try and ask the mercenary for help?

    But there was nothing else for her to do. She certainly couldn't leave it lying in the dirt. "Evesa," she called out timidly. "I don't remember..."
  19. Evesa had been packing up her things and had not actually asked Ryti to start on the tent yet, since she would likely have no clue how to pack it up. On the one hand, she wanted to applaud her initiative in trying anyway, and on the other hand it was frustrating because she had managed to leave a mess that would take her twice as long to fix and pack it.

    “Useless girl,” the mercenary sighed. “I expect you to be able to do this yourself next time. It's not that difficult.” Without another word she shoved her out of the way again and demonstrated how to pack the pieces into the bag.

    There was little left to do, for they had unpacked very little. Evesa checked the bindings on her bags, donned her Elven armor, put her book away, extinguished the fire's last embers, armed her usual obvious and concealed weapons, and made sure her boots were laced tightly.

    Once everything was packed, but just before they were about to put on their burdens and head off, Evesa called to Ryti again, “Wait. We might as well eat breakfast before we get going.” She handed Ryti a strip of venison and an animal skin sack for water. “Keep the sack for water from now on. It may be cold out here, but you can still die of dehydration.” Then she took out her own breakfast and tied her own water sack to her hip. She also took out her smallest coin purse and counted out sixty coins.

    “For your assistance yesterday, thirty for the salvage, and thirty for the carrying, as promised,” was the curt comment. Even if she was going to turn the half-breed over to the authorities, she still planned to keep her word until then.
  20. Ryti stepped back quietly, biting the inside of her lip as she watched the mercenary quickly repack the tent. It wasn't hard, but it seemed that when Evesa touched it things just kind of flew into place. a part of her wondered whether or not she would be able to replicate both setup and takedown later this evening and tomorrow morning, because the details were already starting to fade from her mind. She could only hope that the little details, the things that might keep the tent from collapsing in the middle of the night, would come back to her when she actually had to set the tent back up.

    As soon as the tent was put away, Ryti worked her way back over to her bags. She eyed them with a small measure of distaste before sitting down on the ground and working her way into the straps. She was about to stand up when she saw Evesa offer her the strip of dried venison and the water bag. She took them delicately, clenching the meat between her teeth before tying the bag onto her waist. It was full of water right now, and hopefully they would parallel the little stream for a while, so if she needed more water she would be able to get it.

    Ryti's eyes went wide as she saw Evesa begin to count out the gold. The coins clinked together with every one Evesa added to the pile. Back in Cyrodiil, that noise would have been the sweetest music to her ears. The gold wouldn't do her much good in the middle of the road, but it would allow her to get a good, solid start on surviving once she and the mercenary, hopefully, parted ways. She slipped the coins into a very small pouch she had ferreted from one of the dead corpses. She had given Evesa all the gold in it before laying it down in the pile of miscellaneous junk. Right now, she could only hope that the mercenary wouldn't recognize it, or, if she did, wouldn't care that the little girl had it.

    Satisfied with her load, even if she felt as though the weight was driving her a couple of extra inches into the hard-packed earth, Ryti set off after Evesa. As she walked she took a moment to check her dagger, which was strapped to her waist. If something appeared, and in Skyrim that was all but likely, it wasn't going to wait for her to fumble her dagger into her hand. The pack was bound tightly to her, but cutting a couple of important ropes, those she could feel pressing in on her flesh, would allow the pack to tip off her back if Ryti found herself in a position where she would need to run. She had attached the dagger to her upper thigh rather than her waist, as the ropes that bound the pack to her would almost certainly get in the way of her being able to draw cleanly. It wasn't quite as convenient to reach on her thigh, but it didn't get in the way of her movement, and it didn't run into the pack. To Ryti, that made it ideal.

    Ryti fell slowly back into the rhythm of walking, and the weight seemed more familiar, if no easier to bear, this second day. However, walking behind Evesa, it was hard for her to keep her eyes on the surroundings, and she often found her eyes straying back to the ground, out of fear that an unexpected root or rock might trip her up and send her and her burden crashing to the ground. Because of that, she did not notice the two figures that were waiting quietly in the shadows on either side of the road.
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