Whoo! Been a while since I posted one of these things. (September of 2015, it appears was the last Vestige of Void post…) Sooo… While Dovah’s Mind is in production Limbo for the moment… Here’s Louise’s continuing adventure, now with added DLC!!
LEVEL 4: The Claw Falls, Stage Right
Fighting a werewolf of all things was not part of the plan. Finding out that the mine- located very close to where that Werewolf was hiding- was full of bandits? Even less part of the plan. Killing said bandits who came out to investigate the howling noises from the werewolf’s death cries- That was just icing ontop of the ‘What plan? I have no plan!’ cake.
Finding a poor, sad looking golden retriever, and then following it to the murdered corpse of its former owner…
“Okay,” you begin, “I swear this day has just gotten more and more complex the longer it’s gone on.”
Karlieah agreed- but said it felt like an average day for her so far.
Average? You couldn’t help but wonder about that.
“Listen, this werewolf thing’s got me thinkin’,” Karlieah said after reading through the dead man’s shopping list. “There’s something iffy about all o’ this. This Roy guy’s List. Th’ Werewolf we just fought. Th’ Bandits hiding right inside town…”
“Do you think we started with something over our heads?” You ask.
“Maybeh,” Karlieah frowned. “Tell you wot. I’ll go tell one o’ tha town guards about th’ werewolf sitch, then I’m gonna check out this shoppin’ list. I swear I’ve seen somethin’ like this before. Maybe back before when…” She trailed off into a mutter that you couldn’t pick out, then shook her head. “Doesn’t mattah, now. I want you to head up north to Camlorn. I’ll catch up wit’ you later.”
“Are you sure?” You ask. You’re not too eager to split up at this point, but why not? Surely things couldn’t be too bad.
“If this is wot I think it is,” Karlieah frowned. “Trust me, you’ll be better off going ahead o’ me incase I fail. I’v’ got a feelin’ all o’ this is interconnected- Somehow- and if I fail, you won’t wont to be around me com’ th’ backlash.” And then she put on a smirk- it felt hollow, but slightly reassuring. “Besides, if I succeed we’ll boost both’f our reputations up at once solvin’ both sides ‘f this at once.” And then she hands over the bag containing the massive ruby. “‘Ere. Keep an eye on this while I’m out.”
Before you can so much as protest, a voice interrupts. “Karlieah!? Is that you?”
“No way,” Karlieah turns to look at an Altmer woman who’s approached your table. “Quen? Dat you?”
“It’s me, yes,” this Quen woman nods. “What are you doing here?”
“Workin’ a job,” Karlieah answers.
“Is it… a long one?” Quen asks.
“Could be, yah,” Karlieah nods. “Why you ask?
“I need help with something… something big,” Quen admits. “I was hoping I’d run into you, honestly. Because I’ve struck out across half of Tamriel already!”
“Wot kinda job is it?” Karlieah asks.
“It’s… well, admittedly it has to do with my Father,” Quen says.
“I’m guessin’ it’s nothin’ time sensitive, right?” Karlieah asks.
“No,” Quen shakes her head. “Not really. I haven’t even lined up a boat yet, honestly.”
“Tell ya wot,” Karlieah says, “lemme finish up my job an’ me an’ my partner’ll com’ an’ ‘elp.”
“What?” You ask. “What’s going on?”
“Quen here’s father and I worked a job a few years ago,” Karlieah says. “I promis’d ‘im dat if she ever needed help wit’ somethin’, I’d giv ‘er that help.”
“I understand,” you nod. Promises to family and friends have always been very important to keep to you. “So what’s the job, exactly?”
“I need a partner for a difficult job. Should Pay well, but involves travel, and some danger. Travel’s the part that’s turned off most people so far.” Quen explains. “Are your lock picking skills still sharp, Karlie?”
“‘Course they are,” Karlieah answers. “So wot do we need to bring besides that?”
“Something warm. Our destination is up north, Skyrim ‘Up North’ to be sort of exact…” Quen says. “I’d talk more about the details, but… I haven’t made the best impression around here and people are starting to look at me funny the longer I hang around.”
“Skyrim… huh?” Karlieah muses. “Tell Ya Wot, I think I know a guy in Wayrest. I’ll send a courier, see if ‘e’s interested.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Quen nods.
“Meantime,” Karlieah sends a look your way. “I want you t’take my friend here t’ Camlorn. You two should hide out there, and I’ll meet you both once I’ve set up th’ boat.”
“Camlorn? Why Camlorn?” Quen shakes her head. “Never mind, I suppose I’ll find out eventually.”
“Can I really trust her?” You ask Karlieah as she packs you a back full of extra clothes that she’d freshly bought- mostly adventurers leathers, but a few looser things that she claims are ‘eye grabbers’ when you’re out and about in a bar looking to get info out of some random adventurer. There’s one set you could probably just use as night-clothes, though.
“‘Course, Quen’s as trustworthy as a newborn puppy,” Karlieah answers. “A li’l green behind th’ears but she’s good. Was workin’ a few solo jobs, last I heard.”
“You’re a thief, aren’t you?” It’s less a question, more of a statement, really, but you ask it anyways.
“No, Gee? What ever would have given you THAT idea.” Karlieah rolls her eyes, and resumes packing. “Yeah, I’ma thief. Card caryin’ member o’ tha Thieves’ Guild, even. Though, that’s not sayin’ much these days.”
“Why’s that?” You ask.
“A Heist went wrong a few years back, and this one group of mercs’ decided it was their sworn duty to hunt down every member of the guild where-ever they saw ’em.” Karlieah shrugs, “Never seen th’ folk outside of Abbah’s Landin’, tho. So I just try to stay out of there best I can.”
You don’t press for details.
Quen rents a horse that will take you both to Camlorn, along the way, she tells you about the job Karlieah and her father worked years ago.
“So there was this necklace, full of pearls,” she says this, of course, while sitting front and center directing the horse. You, being shorter, sit behind her. “Anyways, this thief happened to run from the guards through this grotto, Ko-Estaran. Got eaten by Lamias. So Dad and Karlie have to sneak in and gut the things to fish the pearls out. But then, it turns out there’s a Broodmother there who has this siren call of death. One note, and you’re under her spell. Instant death! So my Father and Karlie have to sneak in past the Lamias guarding the place, and THEN further have to gut them all without drawin’ the attention of the nasty lizard queen herself- then, they have to get as close as possible just to get the frame out of the bag the thief had when they got eaten! All of it’s Doable, mind you- because they did it and got out alive. But I’ve heard tale of whole legions of warriors falling prey to her song.”
You just nod along quietly to the story as she explains the details of how they did it.
You wonder what it would be like if you just fell in line and became a thief. Getting caught is the only real problem.
Your only friends in the world are thieves, and you’re planning on using a giant, ancient relic as a mounting point to get rich and restore your place among the nobility…
You ask Quen, “What’s it like, being a thief?”
“It’s exhilarating, for one thing,” Quen answers. “No need to worry about anything besides the thrill of the hunt and whether or not you can get away with it afterwards. Admittedly, I’m thieving mainly to find out about what happened to my father, but… I think I might have found my calling, and it’s not in any academy.”
“That sounds really nice,” you don’t say. You’d like to, but something holds you back.
Instead, you say this.
“I don’t know where I’m going in life, but… I agree,” you say. “I’d never find this…” you struggle for the word. Freedom seems heavy handed. But… “Choice at the Academy.”
The academy that is now almost certainly gone. Vanished. Disappeared.
Eaten away by your sister’s betrayal, like the rest of the world.
You can’t imagine that it all wouldn’t be burned to the ground by now.
Wardes is almost certainly dead by now.
By destroying all of what you knew, you’re now at rock bottom. Where-ever you go, it can only be up, and even if you fall… you’ll still be higher than you were back home.
You arrive in Camlorn a few hours before sundown. Quen rents a set of rooms over a rather fancy bar, mentioning that it has magically heated showers. A shower sounds wonderful, and you come to realize that you probably haven’t actually had a bath or a shower in… You don’t want to think about it. She says you’re all set for a month, though she doesn’t expect to be waiting that long.
You decide to find a place to hide the Giant Ruby Soul Gem Thing, and decide that there is no better place than inside the Shower room, where you’ll likely be spending most of your time anyways. You search the room until you find a loose brick. From there, it’s a simple matter of using a Traveling Knife to pry it open, and from there, removing some of the other bricks around and behind it.
You choose a wall that’s facing into your room and not bordering on any other wall, because what if someone else had the same idea as you?
Once you replace the bricks, you take a shower- and not just to clean away the recently accumulated brick dust that you’d gotten covered in. No. This is a shower in which you finally find it in yourself to relax your guard and cry.
The sun was setting by the time you made your way downstairs in your night clothes to find Quen in the bar.
She had dressed up in some fancy thing, and was talking with a randomly armored Knight. Was it a Con? Was she just having a friendly chat? Was she flirting for the sake of flirting? Was she just pumping info out of the man?
It didn’t matter.
You made your way over to her, intent on stating that you were going to go to bed and to wake you up in the morning.
“Quen?” you announce your presence. Then you see the knight’s face as he turns to you, and your heart nearly stops.
“Woah,” he says, and his voice, by the Founder, his VOICE. “Is this your friend you were talking about, Qurin?” Qurin? Probably a different name to prevent suspicion. Close enough to be “Quen,” though, that he might just have had a few too many drinks and was saying it wrong unintentionally.
“Yes, Darien,” Quen answers with a nod. “This is my traveling companion, Louise. The girl I was telling you about who’s just started learning mage craft.”
What? How did she know that?? …Karlieah, you know almost immediately. You wonder how much your Bosmeri ‘friend’ told this Altmer woman.
“Name’s Darien, nice to meet you, Louise,” he offers his hand out for a shake.
“Um, right, hi, Nice to meet you too,” You shake his hand in return and why do you feel like a child again? Weren’t you past this when you got engaged to… But then again… “Um, Quen?” You try to go through your rehearsed words. “I’m, uh…” Going to Bed. Going to Bed. “Going to Sleep-” No, no, bed. Bed is the word you want. “So, uh…” And damn this Darien person, why is he giving you such a patronizing look?? He probably thinks you’re ugly because your chest is flatter than Quen’s.
“Wake you up in the morning?” Quen offers.
“Yes! That!” You jump on the line of thought, and your voice jumps an octave higher in turn. Damn it. “So, Goodnight!” And with that, you turn to storm back upstairs.
In a parting voice, you hear Darien remark, “You were right, Quen, she *Is* my type.”
Quen laughs, “Told you so!”
Your heart almost stops once again, and it is only through the sheer fact that you are already dead that you don’t faint on the spot and manage to make it up to your room. You wonder the entire time why you even agreed to this.
You decide to take another shower before going to sleep. It’s much too hot in here.
You wake up to the sound of knocking on your door.
A glance to the window makes you think that it’s much too early for you to be getting up.
That’s when the knocks come again, much more urgent and furious.
“Louise! Wake Up! Wake Up!” Quen is practically shouting, for all she’s whispering.
Something is not right.
Half dressed in your night clothes, you drowzily open the door to ask, “What is it?” Quen opens her mouth to answer, but that’s when you hear a werewolf howling through the streets.