It was through sheer coincidence, Silica tried to reason, that she had run into these two people yet again.
The Bosmer from Khenarthii’s Roost- Cal-un-something?- with his fancy magical summons (Though the Winged Twilight was somewhat cute.)
and the Breton that had directed her to Brackenleaf. She introduced herself as “The Rat” Whatever that meant, even though the Bosmer called her “Argo.”
Pure. Sheer. Unadulterated. Coincidence. Yuuup.
It really didn’t help that they’d all been scooped up by completely different portals by the same Vinedusk Mage for some task that none of them had wanted a part of (
Well, save for the Amulet that Silica had picked up that hissed angrily at her upon setting foot in town. That was more of a…convenient thing? NOPE. No Coincidences here at all!), and neither did the fact that apparently, all three of you escaped from Coldharbour and the clutches of Molag Bal.
And so, as it happened after finishing up their mercenary business in Cormount… “HELP!” …A Bosmer girl named Alandis came running up to them, looking as if she’d been attacked by Spriggains, Tigers, and Stranglers, Oh My! “The Forest’s attacked Karthdar, I barely made it out of there…” Alandis explained. “Please, find Treethane Rolon! He should be in the cave to the north of here!”
And so began the Karthdar Objective.
The town was overrun with Spriggains, Tigers, and Spiders… with the occasional Strangler popping up for good measure, and slipping through was not an easy task, especially when the Bosmer Mage remarked, “The Forest is acting as if someone broke the Green Pact.”
As if uttering those words was a signal, a group of Spriggains attacked them. The battle was as chaotic as anything any of them had ever been in, only alleviated by the company of others.
“I think I’m beginning to like teaming up!” The Rat remarked, prompting the Bosmer to laughter. Silica didn’t agree with that, though she couldn’t fault the Logic in the statement.
The Treethane was exactly where Alandis had said he’d be, inside a sacred cave just north-east of the village… And indeed, the situation was exactly as the Bosmer Mage had guessed.
“The Pact was broken with the cutting of the Sanguine Alendil, and until the Forest finds justice, any one of us who steps outside is risking death,” Rolon explained. “Please, could you three search the village?”
“Sure!” The Bosmer and The Rat said in agreement before Silica could protest. She scowled, just another thing she was being dragged into. She was a Breton, she had nothing to do with the Green Pact. Why was she being asked to be an Advocate and search for the Pact Breaker along with these other two? Weren’t they enough…? Wasn’t *ONE* person enough?
But all things considered, this was their home, and Silica knew how it was when homes were broken outside of your own control.
So it wasn’t with too much reluctance that she joined the search of the village, along with inquiring the villagers of what they knew.
“Starting off is Sendrair, She thinks it’s the Spinners’ Wife, Gathiel. And I quote, ‘Real piece of work, always scheming, that one is,'” The Rat quoted as they left the cave. “Adding onto that is the sickness she recovered from suddenly. Which leads to Orchelos, who said Eranas ‘is an alchemist. He claims to never use anything forbidden, but everyone knows that alchemists need lots of herbs to do their work.'” And she said it with such a perfect accent match that it surprised Silica. “His motive would have been to cure his wife, for sure.”
“On the other paw, Naeldil says the Khajiit Merchant, Aranak, was sneaking out towards the cave the night the pact was broken,” The Bosmer frowned. “But if he DID cut the plant, I don’t know why the Forest reacted like this. It’s usually forgiving of non-Bosmer pact-breakers,” He said with a glance at Silica as she pulled up a small piece of Cotton plant from the ground.
“What?” Silica frowned, pocketing the plant for later use. “It’s not like the forests’ already mad as it is. What’s the harm?” The question was answered as another group of Spriggains attacked from out of nowhere, obviously in revenge for the Cotton.
Silica grinned as she let loose a Flurry of Blades down upon the Spriggains, slicing them to shreds with a speed that left The Rat and the Bosmer astonished to the point of whispering behind her back. The Khajiit of Kenarthii had taught her how to listen- and those two thought they were being silent? Hah.
“How can a girl that young be so skilled with knives?” The Rat asked. “I’ve never seen anyone her age with that kind of precision.”
“I met her on Khenarthii just after the hurricane there, she was raised there, I think.” The Bosmer replied. “It wouldn’t surprise me if she trained at the Temple of Two Moons…But as for why she’s out here… Molag Bal, obviously, but even so…”
“Too young?” The Rat asked.
“Too young,” The Bosmer agreed, repeating those words that he’d said on the island..
Silica nearly froze up- the Bosmer had guessed that much about her? Why then, did he think she shouldn’t be here? Too young?
She’d show them. Now was the perfect chance. She had to PROVE that she was old enough to be out here! They’d see then. They’d See for SURE.
Silica ran into town at a sudden burst of speed that caught her traveling companions off guard- and they hurried to chase after her. Unfortunately for those two, decked out in heavy armor, Silica was wearing medium and light armor, and had a speed advantage.
That speed did little when she tripped over a burnt-to-a-crisp cart and landed face first against an enraged Spriggain.
Silica was thrown backwards, into the ground, and found the Spriggain towering over her as its claws began weaving magic together for a summoning spell…
“KREEEAAAH!” In a flash of purple light- a Clannfear appeared!
Silica wrenched her eyes closed, bracing for the beast’s attack… That never came in her direction. A mere second later, Silica’s eyes opened to see The Clannfear roaring as it tore into the Spriggain, whose own summoning spell had been interrupted by the Bosmer’s own spell.
“GET ‘IM, CLANNY!” The Bosmer’s voice roared out as a crystal shard flew over Silica’s head, impacting the Spriggain and killing it, all but for a few minutes, with an explosion that tore off its head.
“Are you alright?” The Rat asked, offering Silica a healing potion.
“I’m fine,” Silica turned it away. “I just tripped over something…” She looked down at an item near her feet, a lightning charred rock. “Think that’s a Mystical Sign?”
“This is Aranak’s cart, so I’d say yeah,” The Rat nodded.
With the first of many pieces of evidence in tow, the trio searched the entire town high and low, finding an incriminating piece of evidence along with a mystical sign that, when coupled with the Witness Testimonies already gathered, told a telling tale to the trio of Soulless Ones…but the most telling was the Spinners Wife’s journal.
And so, as they returned to the cave, they deliberated on a course of action.
“So you’ve returned,” Treethane Rolon began. “What did you find?”
“We’re going to go a bit unorthodox about this,” The Bosmer said, placing an astrology chart and a journal down on the desk. “Before you is the Astrology Chart, showing that the Sign of the Lady was in full bloom on the night of the Pact breaking, and a Journal, belonging to the Spinner’s Wife, Gathiel.”
“My journal–!” The woman cried out in surprise, anger, and…fear.
“In it,” the Rat continued, “she describes hiring an anonymous person,” at this, she placed an invoice book on the table, “who we now know to be the Merchant, Aranak, to cut the Sanguine Alendil so as to not break the pact.”
“It would have worked, too,” The Bosmer continued on. “The Forest typically doesn’t react to non-Bosmer pact breakers. However, because she was the one who hired him…” with a nod to her, Silica placed the burnt stone on the table. “The Forest knew. On the night he cut the flower, lightning struck his cart.”
“…I Had no Idea the Flower was sacred!” The Khajiit protested. “I’m sorry!!”
“However,” Silica coughed, “the story doesn’t end there.” As she spoke, The Rat carefully lifted a series of cut blossoms out of her bag, placing them on the table. “The Flowers were left in a spot for Spinner Eranas to find, where he then took them and used them to make a potion to cure Gathiel.” Concluding that, Silica pulled out the Spinner’s broken Sigil, and placed it on the table. “This is the Mystical Sign that occurred due to his potion making.”
“I knew the flower might have been cut in a violation,” The Spinner admitted, “but I found it! It was already cut! How was I breaking the Green Pact?”
“And so we call forth our witness,” The Rat said loudly. “Neronnir!”
“What?” The Bosmer looked up in surprise. “Me?!”
“Come forth, Citizen,” Rolon motioned for the Mer to come up. “What is your statement?”
“Well, I thought they all did it,” Neronnir began. “It just sort of made sense to me. All of them, collaborating with one another, broke the Green Pact intentionally. The real question was why. I thought maybe they wanted the forest to attack us. To distract us from their real purpose? But thinking about everything those three brought forwards, it all makes sense now, doesn’t it?”
“Gathiel’s hope was that by going through such convoluted measures, the Pact would not be broken,” The Bosmer Mage explained, “but the forest knew each of them had their part to play in breaking the pact.”
“I see. So now the question is,” Treethan Rolon mused, “who’s the real Pact Breaker?”
Everyone looked at the three suspects. Aranak, praying to the gods that he would be spared. Eranas, looking sad and forlorn at his wife, Gathiel, who looked like a deer caught in a Strangler’s vine.
“No idea then?” Rolon grimaced, “We’ll let the forest decide, then.”
And so, as the two Mer and one Khajiit were lead into the judgement chamber, Calum and Argo stood there, unsure of what to do.
“That worked out a whole lot better in my head,” Argo began. “It really did…”
Then there was a scream- Gathiel’s voice- followed by silence.
“Blood for Blood,” Calum quietly intoned as the two survivors were lead back out, “It is done.”
“I guess…” Argo turned towards Silica, only to find that she had slipped out unnoticed during the precession, not even sticking around to see the outcome of the trial. “I wonder if we’ll run into her again?”
“We will. And when we do,” Calum paused, “she’ll have grown up. You don’t put a girl like her through what she’s been through without forcing that.”
“It was her idea to accuse them all at once,” she frowned. “I can’t imagine what she’s going through right now.”
“Who knows.” He shrugged, “With the way Tamriel turns in the heavens, I don’t even think anyone can truly know what she’s dealing with.”
“By the way, I asked what animal she chose, back when we were in Cormount.”
“With me as a Snake, and you as a Wolf?”
“Why am I not surprised?”
“Who knows, Traveler, who knows.”