The Elder Scrolls: Rising Storm

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  1. Red Diamond's Pride, Docks of Solitude, Haafingar

    Senior Inspector Sorenn

    1st of Morningstar, Middas, 4E203

    The waters were calm around the docks, as was expected with the great arch of Solitude shielding the ships from the wrath of the Sea of Ghosts. Wind still snaked through and sent chills down spines like the fingers of lovers. The frigid cold of Skyrim that seemed to stay present throughout the year hardly bothered the Colovians, born of rough stock from Anvil to Bruma. They worked shirtless and barefoot and slept soundly below deck. Life was as normal as one could find in these days. The dragons were no longer plaguing the countryside, Forsworn raids were decreasing in frequency and bandits seemed to be staying in their strongholds for now. The Legion had all but stopped their offensive campaign to the critique of many both within and without their ranks. General Tullius was transferred to the Valenwood-Colovia Border, something Sorenn did not envy him for. He'd seen his fair share of fighting within those jungles. The Stormcloaks were hardly in a place for any notion of a large push against the Legion; The Stormcloaks have lost their leader to a massive stroke last month and the stirrings of the Clans who once held his banner seem to no longer walk like men but slither and flick tongues like snakes and nip at each other like jackals around carrion.

    Sorenn knew what was in store for Skyrim now. He'd seen it in Valenwood and was all too familiar. The Thalmor was always watching, a point of a dagger hovering over a gap in the armor, waiting. Spying on Nords was always an oft unwanted task, especially when one was an altmer these days. No amount of playing the good guy would get anyone to talk to Sorenn and whatever notion of honor and brotherhood Nords spat out of their mouths day-in, day-out seemed to quiet down when a fat purse is thrown their way. If Sorenn could do it, so could that bastard, Valiano, just with a different outstretched hand. So long as it wasn't golden-skinned, they would take it.

    Sorenn lifted the short glass cup to his lips and took in the last of the brandy. He took one last breath of sea air and strode back into his quarters. They were located belowdeck and cut off from the main hold by wooden walls and a door but a glass window near his desk still let him see outside into the lives of those sleeping or lounging around until it was their shift on the topdeck. A modest candle with a small flame served to illuminate the entirety of the small room and the chair and bed inside it. A wooden chest cleverly enchanted to only open upon his touch was shoved away into the corner. At the moment, it held his Penitus Oculatus armor and weapon. He wore his middle-class clothing and bear-fur cloak, not exactly used to the cold yet, even after a month of it. He sat down at his desk and looked at the parchment he was scribbling his report on. Another scroll sent off to Cyrodiil with the help of a specially-bred and trained messenger crow written in very expensive enchanted ink to tell his higher-ups back in Telhall that he still didn't know where Inspector Vilhalm could be.

    There was one thing he added onto the tail of the report. A break in the case and possibly the spy-war against the Thalmor. He rolled it up and took it to the topdeck, handing it off to Arronil before he headed to Castle Dour to tie it onto one of the crows. Sorenn reminded himself again to put in a request for a crow to be sent to the ship so Arronil didn't have to risk going the distance between Red Diamond's Pride and Solitude. He decided today would be the day and returned to the topdeck before Arronil could leave without him. He caught up to the fellow altmer and told him he would accompany him and just like the very presence of Molag Bal himself, he felt the otherworldly chill of hopelessness creep up his spine and threaten to explode his brain.

    Flavia Cessus was quite literally on her high horse with her men in much the same position. Flavia, Leonus and Christoph were his three devils to be burdened with once again. Every time he left the ship he'd have to be escorted by them, as per the agreement between himself and Head Intendant Skalla for letting him enjoy a position in his Detachment. As if it were a damned vacation, Sorenn thought.

    "You know the rules, Heartlander," Flavia began again with that putrid mouth of hers, "We have to tail you. We heard about your record and we do things differently up here in Skyrim."

    "Do you enjoy being a wretched harlot who only serves to make me long for the quietness of death?" Sorenn asked. Arronil cracked the slightest of smiles at that. He seldom smiled since his parents were caught up in the wrong side of the Thalmor's military reforms. Anyone who was anyone knew the reforms were more than just a changing of uniforms and shifting around of personnel. Any who held but an inkling of doubt in Thalmor rule were put to the sword. Arronil's parents not excluded. Now, the only time he smiled was when dead Thalmor were involved.

    "Only as much as you do. It's my job, Sorenn, I have to do it." Flavia said, not sounding too convinced.

    "Fine, if it makes you feel like a good Inspector." Sorenn mocked. It was not lost on Flavia, he heard her huff and Christoph put a hand over a snickering mouth.

    "You have room to talk. Have you made any progress in the case, super-spy?" She asked, annoyed.

    "No." He lied. There was one thing that would make his history with the Oculatus that much more decorated. Something you can't say, bitch, he looked at Flavia.

    They made it to the gates of Solitude, the huge doors grumbling open with the grace of old watchmen. Sorenn and Arronil stepped through and made their way to Castle Dour. The Legionaries held a hand out to stop the two altmer.

    "I know what this is about, it's because I'm mer isn't it?" Sorenn accused, arms akimbo.

    "And just who are you? I can't let just anyone come up here and prance around. Everything around you is Imperial Legion property." The Legionary challenged, resting a hand on the hilt of his sword.

    Sorenn looked at Arronil. His fellow nodded and Sorenn produced his badge, "I'll be speaking to your commanding officer, boy."

    The door opened and out stepped Legate Fastus. The two looked each other up and down before shaking hands and smiling. Sorenn knew Legate Fastus in his Legion days. Fastus was getting old and retirement was nearing but he still wanted a position fighting for the Empire until his final days of his officer's commission. Skyrim seemed to be the only conflict at the time of his transfer request. When General Tullius was put on the Valenwood border some Legates joined him but Fastus opted to stay. Sorenn didn't blame the man.

    "New recruits cycled in, huh?" Fastus nodded and chuckled, "Another message for you to send back to Telhall. You know which crow to send." Sorenn said.

    "Yeah, yeah. I'll have it sent out at the soonest opportunity." He assured, taking the scroll.

    "Good to know. Big days ahead, Fastus. Probably won't be boring." Sorenn said before turning around with Arronil in tow.

    "Hopefully." Fastus mumbled at Sorenn's back.

    Sorenn would scold himself back at the ship for forgetting to ask for a crow again.
    #1 O|NoSoul, Nov 28, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
  2. The other end of Solitude's docks
    Gustaf the Relentless
    1st of Morningstar, 4E 203

    Having grew up in his native Haafingar, the cold wasn't too much of an issue for Gustaf. Solitude, despite its northernly location, rarely experienced the worst of Skyrim's winters. The blizzards and ice storms commonly associated with Skyrim was more frequently in Winterhold and the Pale, and to a degree, Windhelm. Solitude's inlet blocked major snow from the north, and the seawater beside the city kept heat in the colder months. The priests of the temple spoke of Kyne, or for the Imperials, Kynareth's blessings. On the other hands, some researchers from the College of Whispers explained to Gustaf about the variance in the creatias, causing wind and other disturbances. Either way, it didn't really matter why Solitude's weather is the way it is, all Gustaf cared was how to benefit from this phenomena.

    At this moment, Gustaf waited for a ship in the bay's mouth. While he waited, Gustaf observed various vessels on the piers. Solitude was always the busiest port of Skyrim, and today was no exception. As always, there were private boats, Erikur's personal yacht docked not far from Gustaf. Erikur, Gustaf sniffed, the man was probably Gustaf's biggest competition. The East Empire Company was too big, there was no way, both legal and illegal to compete against the Elder Council's backing. While most local businesses stayed local, Gustaf and Erikur were major importers of goods. The truth was that both of them had shady dealings in the past, and for the sake of keeping the shady aspects shady, they tolerated each other and mostly avoided overlapping markets.

    Beside the personal vessels, there were several official ships, painted with either Solitude's, the Empire's, or both of their markings. The Imperial Navy never had a large presence here, at least not since the Great War. Haafingar was unique in that it maintained a coastal patrol, something the Imperials called “coast guards”. For all intents and purposes, these ships were outdated and fallen toward obsolescence, they frequently rescued novice sailors instead of combating maritime threats.

    As the ship Gustaf expected came into sight, it passed by what seemed to be an Imperial brig. There were some people around the ship, they didn't look like Legionaries to Gustaf, other than that, they were too far to make out any details. This was not a good sign, more Imperials never meant good omen for Skyrim. Eveningstar of 202 saw the departure of Legion troops with General Tullius, and according to a friend of Gustaf's, the Penitus Oculatus' office was the opposite, it had more people going in and out. There was surely something amiss in the White-Gold Tower, something more than a routine change of guards. Perhaps, with his connection to the Swiftsong twins and their newspaper, Gustaf could make himself better aware of the political climate.

    “Gustaf,” Karena Wave-Rider, captain of The Fortune's Hand hailed when her ship anchored and secured to the pier. “You're early today, what got you excited about Ash Yam?”

    “Oh, I'm sure their unbearable stench make me gleam with joy.” Gustaf countered, a small grin on his face. “Smooth sailing as always captain?”

    “Morrowind, quite the place every time.” Karena jested in return. As always, the sound of containers falling over cut her off. “Damn it Larius, I told you hold onto the edges. Can't you not read the labels as well?”

    “Sorry captain, but the label's in Daedric script and I ain't no Dark Elf.”

    Karena shook her head in disdain, and Gustaf sighed in disappointment. “Don't you worry boss, he does that again and I'll make sure some slaughter fish gets an extra snack.” Karena continued. “As I was saying, these Dunmer sailors in Blacklight got worked up on some rumors. There's this “Nerevarine” character that dropped by few weeks ago in a strange looking ship, not one of those bonemold boat, mind you.”

    “Hold on, what?” It was a little bit too much for Gustaf to take in a conversation. Karena was known for her long lectures, ironically for a sailor. “Forward a report to my office.”

    “Since when do we write reports?” Karena's face sneered but quickly returned to normal. “Alright boss, will do that tonight. Just let me tell you, the Ashskins and their Great Houses are nervous, you don't see that everyday.”

    “I'm sure,” Gustaf settled and rubbed his cheeks, despite his Nordic blood, standing in the docks was a little chilly now. A warm fireplace and a nice bowl of stew would be very fine. “I'll be at the Winking Skeever, feel free to come by after you unload the goods, mead's on my tab this time.”

    Karena nodded in acknowledgment, knowing that every time Gustaf bought his “employee” dinner, it had something important behind that. At a coincidental moment, the creak of a crow seemed foreshadow a grim event. “A crow, don't see that often this time of year.” Karena remarked.

    Indeed they don't, suddenly, Gustaf thought of a book he read about Imperial messenger birds. It might be a just a fluke, but then again many things started as flukes. The Imperial brig from earlier came back into his mind. “One more thing Karena,” he added. Gustaf pointed to the group of departing people on the opposite end of the dock. “Get that Breton boy, the sneaky one, to trail those folks over there. I have a bad felling about them.”


    Amidst the Jerral Mountains
    1st of Morningstar, 4e 203

    The young Nord man took shallow breaths, panting from his frantic sprint. He had a run-in with a couple of cultists, who decided that Fritjof should be burned to a crisp. So the young man, barely of eighteen years, stormed though the forest for his dear life. He was the newest person to be working for an Orc called Lev gro-Shobbab, and in turn, Lev reported to the Thane of Falkreath. All in all, Fritjof knew his assignment was simple, but after an hour of mad running, even the simplest details escaped his brain. So now, he got away from those lunatics, at least nothing stirred behind him for a while. Fritjof walked blindly in the woods, having no directions due to his map and all his possessions being scorched by a pursuing fireball.

    “Great, knew I shouldn't came this far up the mountains.” Fritjof cursed himself while carefully running his fingers over his burned arm. He walked forward again, until a camp appeared in his sight. Fritjof clumsily lowered himself behind a bush, he fumbled and dropped his bow but quickly snatched it back. Once the weapon (more like a string attached to a stick) soundly, and a little tightly held in his hands, the young man inched himself forward to take details into his squinting eyes.

    What he saw first was an elf, one of those shorter Bosmer types. The elf walked closer to the bush, causing Fritjof to panic and surely, tumbled loudly unto a batch of fallen branches. Now the elf definitely heard it, Fritjof didn't waste a single second this time, he had enough of this mountain for a lifetime. His payments be damned, Lev will be getting his resignation as soon as he gets back.


    Snow-Peak Company's southern office, Falkreath
    Fatisma Al-Herne
    5th of Morningstar, 4e 203

    “This got to stop soon,” Fatisma said. She and Lev are the only two person left this afternoon. “You know I can't keep covering these things up forever.”

    “No worries, my lady. The poor boy wouldn't be in a position for trouble.” Lev chuckled sinisterly, rubbing his hands together even though the room was well heated.

    “He was suppose to check on the trails, and you made him “disappear” for something this simple?” Fatisma fumed and leaned against the wall. “I don't want hear it, just make sure he's gone without any strings attached.”

    “No one knew about the kid,” Lev reassured, and after moments of silence, he cleared his throat awkwardly. “Uh yeah, and obviously the report here. But that's in your hands now, so I think that's all this week.”

    Fatisma watched Lev shuffled out of her office. She slumped back into her chair with the report in hand. It was about Fritjof's encounters with half a dozen of masked wizards hurling spells at him, probably nothing serious to worry about. Two years ago, after Alduin's defeat and before Miraak's, these masked cultists frequented Skyrim. Nowadays, they rarely made themselves visible to the general populace, and most of sightings were due to bandits masquerading as cultists for extra intimidation.

    Fliping the thin page over, Fatisma continued reading about Fritjof's run-in, or rather, run-out, with a Bosmer camp. Lev scribbled on notes beside it, he speculated the Bosmers to be the same clan that traded with the Rift last summer. There were also recommendations on dealing with the clan. First was turning them over to the Thalmor, who's new management recently posted bounties for former Dominion citizens. While the gold was good, Fatisma was no fan of the Thalmor. She was conscripted as the age of eighteen to fight them, though she never fought any of them directly, some of her friends did and not all of them made it back. Lev also suggested of raiding them and looting their camp bone dry. Again, Fatisma grunted for Lev's recklessness, fighting without the knowledge of one's opponent was always the worst tactical error. Lastly, on the bottom right corner were the words “maybe try to talk”. Lev might be bloodthirsty, but he still held some common sense. The Bosmers were known for their unique bone crafts, if she played her hands well, Gustaf won't be the only one selling imports this season.

    Having all settled her weekly work, Fatisma made her last order to check her mail. Being the Thane of Falkreath made her a source of people's complaints, there were requests from the locals once every while, though the incompetence of the Jarl probably increased them by a good amount. To be honest, if Fatisma put her heart into being Thane, she would have gotten a lot more done than Siddgeir. Fortunately today, there was only a single envelope bearing the crest of Whiterun hold. Inside was a small sheet, a sort invitation.

    The invitation (open)

    Dear Citizens of Skyrim,

    Two years ago, the Dragonborn defeated some of the biggest menaces in Skyrim's history, Alduin and Miraak. Whiterun was especially blessed to be saved by the Dragonborn, who valiantly fought a fearsome dragon and absorbed its soul.

    To honor the hero of our legends, who was also the former Thane of Whiterun. A great feast will be held in Dragonsreach, on thirteenth of Morningstar. As the jarl of this city, I have ordered invitations to be sent to every hold of our province. It is my pleasure to invite everyone on this monumental celebration.

    -Jarl Balgruuf the Greater and the people of Whiterun.
    #2 Glaciercold, Dec 1, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2014
  3. 4E 203, 1st of Morning Star.
    Skyrim, Haafingar Hold, Aldmeri Dominion Embassy.

    The first of Morning Star was a day celebrated throughout all of Tamriel as the New Life Festival. It was the day that marked the coming of the new year, and was a time of rejoice for all the races of Mer, Men and Beast. Whilst ale flowed in Solitude to the tune of singing Nords and drunkards' laughter, the Thalmor Embassy to Solitude's west, fit snugly into the mountains of western Haafingar, sung a different tune. Within the deepest confines of the Thalmor's headquarters in Skyrim, the only sounds that could be heard coming from Nords were the most blood-curdling of anguished screams, the sounds men made when dragged to the point of death and pulled back again. The articulately constructed and lavishly decorated stronghold of the Thalmor was a place where not one of Skyrim's men and women, brave as they were, wished themselves to be. There was no mercy in the dungeons of the Thalmor Embassy, the underground of the meticulously crafted fortress above. There was only pain, and waiting for its arrival.

    First Emissary Valiano stood tall, flanked by shadow, the only light visible from the prisoner's cell's tiny window casting itself on the golden-skinned face of the Altmer ambassador. The prisoner was a Nord, chained to the wall of his cold stone pen and dressed in rags. He'd been beaten and neglected for days, covered in bruises and dirt, and without any food or water. His cell was foul; a pile of refuse festered in the corner opposite from where he'd been sleeping, and splatters of dried blood decorated all four of the walls that enclosed him. He'd called himself 'Aesvar' when the Justiciars had brought him here three days ago. They'd marched all the way north from the Reach, dragging the shackled Nord through Imperial-controlled territory, sneering with satisfaction whenever they walked past the Nords in Imperial armour that were bound to protect the Thalmor's right to intern their cousin. The Head Justiciar of the squadron that had brought in Aesvar had accused him of Talos worship, a crime which he had proudly admitted to after spitting in Valiano's face the moment he arrived at the embassy. The Nords were a stupendously proud people. The First Emissary found in amusing, though, as he stood in his Thalmor robes, looking down on the now half-dead Nord, how quickly the heat of their proud cooled to either carrot or stick. They would be a race easily led once the time came.

    Aesvar sat up, his eyes squinting and dreary as he looked at the tall Altmer whose face he'd spat at a few days ago. At first his eyes naturally focused on Valiano's face, the only part of him not dimmed by shadow. Once his eyes adjusted, however, he scanned the man from head to toe, and found him to be carrying a bucket in one hand, and a mug, presumably with a drink of some kind, in the other. As Aesvar regained his senses, Valiano stepped into the cell, and the guards outside closed the door behind him. Valiano set the bucket in the corner of the cell next to the refuse pile, and handed Aesvar the mug. The thirsty Nord grabbed it and chugged it down without delay, quickly finding it to be water. Valiano smiled, his brilliantly coloured eyes observing Aesvar carefully as he finished the water and neatly set the mug aside.

    "I've already told you I'm guilty." Aesvar raggedly spoke. "I revere Talos, the God of Men, and patron of Nords. If you High Elves disagree, and the Empire is complacent, why not kill me already?".

    The Nord spoke with a bravery and confidence that impressed Valiano, to a degree. He accepted his fate, and was unafraid of what was to come to him. He was mistaken, though. "I am not going to kill you." Valiano spoke, bluntly. When the words parted his lips, the door to the cell opened once more, and the Thalmor Emissary gave his Nord prisoner a reassuring look before a swift and unceremonious exit. Within an instant, the door to the cell closed once more, and the Thalmor standing guard outside rattled the door to ensure it was locked tight. Aesvar, slightly more tired than he was confused, curled up on the floor, closed his eyes, and once again tried to drift off to sleep.

    It was not twenty minutes later when his eyes opened. The coarse, cool stone on which he lay afford him no aid in his rest. He began to feel slightly sick, and instantly became concerned that the water the Elf had given him was poisoned. Determined to save himself by purging the poison from his stomach, he grabbed the bucket his tormentor had left behind, and in a single moment came to the realization of what the Thalmor had in mind for him. The bucket was not empty and meant to be filled, as Aesvar had assumed, but instead contained a small dagger, which had been hidden inside by Valiano. Although not poisoned, Aesvar found himself purging his stomach nonetheless, now fright with desperation and self hatred. His mind wandered over all of the choices he'd ever made in life, and for the first time since being brought into the embassy, he exasperatedly beat the bars to his cell and clawed at its walls, trying with no avail and despite the call of reason to find some other avenue of escape.

    When Valiano returned, hours later, there was no proud Nord in the cell where he'd last seen Aesvar. Instead there was a corpse, a pile of flesh and blood that dirtied the cell as much as the refuse piled in its corner. Inside of the mess of flesh was a dagger, struck into the heart of the body, from which the blood had escaped and layered the rest of the cell. Valiano gestured with his long, thin fingers, and the agents flanking him at either side set about clearing the cell, disposing of Aesvar's remains. From the mess, Valiano plucked a single token: the dagger, which Aesvar and countless Nords before him had used to kill themselves in the dungeon of the Thalmor Embassy. He cleaned the finely crafted Elven blade on Aesvar's rags, deposited it in its place in the scabbard at his side, and slowly ascended the stairs of the embassy back into his office. There was an invitation to which he had to respond. There was to be a feast in Dragonsreach, in the grand city of Whiterun, towards Skyrim's centre. It behoved the First Emissary of the Aldmeri Dominion to attend such a celebration.
  4. 1 Morningstar, 4E 203

    Mehmm rode past the camp's palisade into the camp. Smoke rose from the chimney of the main building, as well as the chimneys of the barracks and the smithy. Hired workers split wood, and worked hard, sweating even in the cold weather of winter. Behind Mehmm were a few of his officers, returning from a meeting in Whiterun with the Jarl. farl Balgruuf the Greater wasn't exactly fond of the free company, but he tolerated them. The Vanguard helped keep Whiterun clear of outlaws, and the giants also tended to attack travellers less. However, this might have been the cause of the Jarl's dislike for them; It was fast becoming obvious that the Vanguard was better suited to dealing with problem than the actual guards of the Hold. Situated within the center of Skyrim, Whiterun was a hold, and it's capital went by the same name. Ruled by Jarl Balgruuf the Greater, Whiterun was the trading hub of the province of Skyrim. Almost all trade that went overland passed through Whiterun. Because of this, Whiterun had a great economy as well as a large population. The city was on a hill, among the vast, barren plains that stretched to the horizon. The Vanguard's camp, however, was the formerly abandoned Fort Greymoor, located east-northeast of Whiterun. Having hired workers to repair it, the fort was now in pristine condition, and received annual maintenance . As Mehmm entered, a few of the troops looking up and called out greetings to him. After stopping to converse a bit with one of them, a young lad by the name of Rajnor, Mehmm proceeded into the main building of the fort. Entering inside, he found Morg gar-Nattog and Wuleen-Ka, his second and third in command, respectively. Morg glanced up from the paper she had been reading, but Wuleen was still poring over the ledgers. "I'm back. Loghead, Uhtred, and I just met with the Greymanes. I've got the payment." Mehmm said, as Wuleen he dropped a fat purse in front of Wuleen. "We got a letter earlier, inviting us to a feast in Dragonsreach. Apparently, anyone who's important will be attending." Morg said. "I'm touched that they think we're important enough. I don't know if I want to go though, Balgruuf might poison us because he's embarrassed that we do a better job than the guards." That forced a chuckle out of Morg and a brief smile from Wuleen. "What's it for anyway?" "Commemorate how the Dragonborn saved us al from fiery death by dragonfire.""If the Dragonborn is such a hero, where is he now?" When silence answered him, Mehmm hammered his point home. "Exactly. Nobody knows. Anyway, we've got our gold from the job we did for the Greymanes." "Great, 500 more septims. Now, everyone is getting paid, so nobody will be angry." Wuleen butted into the conversation, breaking his usual silence. Mehmm nodded in agreement. "Eh, I guess you can send Balgruuf a letter telling him that we're go. It's free food, can't turn down free food." That enticed another laugh from the co-commanders. After a few more minutes of small talk. Mehmm went off to celebrate the New Life Festival, that was celebrated throughout all of Tamriel on the 1st of Morninstar. All in all, it had been a good day. They had received payments, they were attending a feast soon, and it was a holiday. "A good day." Mehmm said to himself.
  5. Jerall Mountains
    Adanel, Cuarsae cura av'Forenya Bosmeri
    1st of Morning Star, 4E 203
    Rays from Masser and Secunda flooded the valley, Adanel's hair capturing them and weaving the light into radiance. Languidly, Adanel gazed out on the serenity before her. Skyrim was home to a harsh and rugged beauty, but it was the only beauty that Adanel had ever known. Despite what the Nordic folk may think, Skyrim was just as much her homeland as it was to any of those fair-haired, blue-eyed pricks. In the sky, the Aurora Borealis put on its dazzling display. As Adanel watched intently, miniature versions of the spectacle began to dance in the black mirrors that served as her eyes.

    Adanel's concentration was broken when she heard a sudden, Psst! Psst! "Come out, Nimphaneth. I am the only one here." Adanel said. Moments later, a bedraggled Bosmeri woman emerged from behind the undergrowth. She had long, dark brown hair that fell to her mid-back. Her face was angular, but not in the haggard manner of most Bosmer. In fact, Nimphaneth was distinctly pretty. The curve of her eyes and smaller features lent her an exotic feel.

    "I didn't know if it was you at first, Adanel! Do you know where the others are?" Nimphaneth asked, picking bits of twigs and winter buds out of her tresses.

    "Menelras is still down by the river, but I saw his lantern making its way in this direction. Syrena should be here any moment, and I am not sure where Daenlin is. He set off on a hunting trip nearly a week ago, and hasn't been seen since. Needless to say, he won't be joining us," Adanel replied, gesturing for Nimphaneth to join her as she sat down on the hillside. The group had been meeting like this, in secret, for almost two months now. Among the young people of the group, there was a rising belief that the age-old policies of neutrality and isolationism were becoming increasingly ineffective in managing the clan's problems. Skyrim was still fraught with turmoil, exacerbated by the disappearance of the Dragonborn. Tensions with the local Nords were still high, prompting raids and the death of two of Adanel's cuarsae. Tonight was special, as an opportunity had come to Adanel, a chance to establish a name for the clan in Skyrim, and hopefully gain some allies. Adanel sensed, intrinsically she supposed, that they would find themselves in need of allies in the coming years.

    Some time later, all members of the group who were attending tonight's meeting arrived at the moon-lit hillside. There was a chilly silence in the air as Adanel examined the faces of each person. Menelras was the oldest of the group, but still fairly young and handsome. He had a steely and sculpted element to his facial structure, with bright ochre eyes that caught the light of the moon, encasing and displaying the captive light like an insect in amber. Syrena, who was the youngest of the group, was also the plainest; not particularly pretty or ugly at all. She possessed a square facial structure and jovial features, but they failed to leave a lasting impression.

    "I have received word from our..."--Adanel paused to find the right term.--"correspondents in Riften. I had asked them to keep an eye out for anything that could help the clan become a bit more established," Adanel announced, removing a small piece of parchment from her leather tunic. The only people in the clan who could read Tamrielic were the Elders, but everyone in the clan knew a form of Bosmeri shorthand invented by the Ayleids long ago. With the help of a friend, Adanel managed to have it translated. She read aloud what would appear as scribbles to the others:

    The Invitation (open)
    Dear Citizens of Skyrim,

    Two years ago, the Dragonborn defeated some of the biggest menaces in Skyrim's history, Alduin and Miraak. Whiterun was especially blessed to be saved by the Dragonborn, who valiantly fought a fearsome dragon and absorbed its soul.

    To honor the hero of our legends, who was also the former Thane of Whiterun. A great feast will be held in Dragonsreach, on thirteenth of Morningstar. As the jarl of this city, I have ordered invitations to be sent to every hold of our province. It is my pleasure to invite everyone on this monumental celebration.

    -Jarl Balgruuf the Greater and the people of Whiterun.

    "What is our next move?" Menelras asked, eyes shifting from one moonlight-bathed face to the other.

    "That should be obvious. We have to attend, all of us." Syrena replied.

    "If the Elders found out about this, do you know what could happened to us? We could be exiled!" Nimphaneth pointed out.

    "Do you know what may happen if we don't do this, Nimphaneth? Haven't you seen the omens?" Syrena countered, eyeing Nimphaneth testily.

    "I think what Nimphaneth is trying to point out is that we need to be careful in how we proceed." Menelras interjected.

    Adanel had remained silent up until this point, listening to the group bicker about the right way to continue their mission. After some time, the conversation had remained fruitless, and, as such, was beginning to grate on her nerves. Her frustrations culminated in a sharp, "Enough!"

    The group was silent.

    "I have arranged for a hunting party. We leave for Whiterun on the 11th, in nearly two weeks time. Prepare yourselves now. This may be our only chance to find someone to help the clan." Adanel said, her authority apparent.

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