LEVEL 6: Who Am I to Disagree?
Find Darien. Get the Key. Open Central and Eastern Gates. Find Alinon. Cure Lycanthropy of citizens.
That was the mantra running through Karlieah’s head as she pushed through Camlorn.
Fresh Blood from the werewolves- that was easy to collect. The damned things kept throwing themselves at her. Keep the bag of goodies safe- also easy. She was a trained thief, after all. Carrying small items in obscure places was a well honed trait. Trying not to worry about Louise and Quen being trapped in this? Not so easy. Not at all.
It had been DAYS. Days since she’d sent them up here- and it had been days since the Werewolves had attacked. Days since refugees were sent to Aldcroft. Days since she’d visited the battlefield and changed time. Days since the Duke of Camlorn was bitten and infected… Days that Louise and Quen had likely been trapped here… trapped… trapped…
Or maybe hiding away?
Camlorn Cathedral was a towering thing in Camorn’s North-eastern corner. It was also one of the few places that was defensible in the city what with all the werewolves. It could be one of the best places to hide away in during a city raid. And so, not knowing what to expect, Karlieah entered the Cathedral.
The door was unlocked- a worrisome sign.
Much to her surprise, and relief, however, everyone was fine inside- and Louise was waiting near the entrance with Darien Gautier.
“…See, I told you I heard someone fighting outside the- Oh, Karlie!” Louise gave a smile upon recognizing her friend. “You made it!”
“A visitor huh? What brings you to our pleasant little city? The war? The Blood? The Thrice damned werewolves?” Darien asked with a dry smile and a bit of humor.
“Yer father sent me to tell ya the Lion Guard holds the courtyard.” Karlieah answered. “I… was expecting more guards and less civilians, though, from tha way he said the guard were still opperatin’.”
“Well, that’s the first good news I’ve heard today,” Darien glanced at Louise, “as for the more people thing… we haven’t pulled any operations since we locked ourselves in here. I dunno what dad’s heard but we’ve mostly been keeping to ourselves…although we were planning on doing something tonight. Strange that, isn’t it?”
“It is, yeah,” Louise nodded.
“Is there an Alinon here?” Karlieah asked.
“Present!” A man called out from back in the room.
“I’ve got supplies,” Karlieah says, “for the werewolf antidote.”
“Good, good,” Alinon waved her over, and she, Louise, and Darien went over.
“So, if you’re here to take me to my father, you can get right out of here now and tell him I’m not leaving. We’ve got people out there that need rescuing first,” Darien began as Alinon began looking over the supplies.
“That’s not why I’m here. General Gautier sent me to fetch yo’r master key.” Karlieah explained.
“In all seriousness, we’re not doing anything before we get people out of this church and rescue the remaining civilians,” Darien countered. “Louise and I came up with a plan. There’s one Inn nearby that’s defensible and is full of supplies- even access to the Camlorn Undercroft if we need to make a hasty exit underground…. Just one catch.”
“An’ wots that?” Karlieah asked.
“That Inn is locked up, and the keeper was killed on the way over here,” Darien answered. “One of our survivors watched it happen, even. The idiot just stopped to stand there, locking the doors before trying to catch up to the rest, and then he got thrown across the courtyard by a werewolf for it!”
“Well damn,” Karlieah shook her head. “Poor guy.”
“Before you showed up, our plan was to have one of us sneak out to get the key from the innkeeper and move everyone over to the inn,” Louise said.
“But since I’m here I might as well do it, right?” Karlieah sighed. “Fine. Fair enough, since I pushed through to get here in the first place.” She nodded. “I’ll go get the key to the inn.”
“And then we can talk about my giant master key after that,” Darien joked- though he was elbowed by Louise for the remark.
“Easier said than done, there’re Bloodthorn Cultists ev’rywhere.” Karlieah said.
“Yeah, they showed up about a day after the wolves took over,” Darien shook his head. “The damned things just let them in, as far as we can tell.” He scoffed. “A marriage made in Oblivion to be sure, but effective nevertheless.”
“So, we’re moving to the inn then?” Alinon asked.
“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Darien nodded.
“Good, because I can’t mix these ingredients without proper equipment.” Alinon nodded. “That’ll teach me not to carry a travelers’ potion kit.”
Half an hour of sneaking, slaying, and corpse searching later, the citizens of Camlorn were safely settled down in the Inn.
“So where’s Quen?” Karlieah asked of Louise once they had a few moments peace to themselves.
“Disappeared last night- was there one second, gone the next. Whole church changed too. It was strange.” Louise shook her head. “Darien and I were the only ones who noticed anything wrong.”
“Well, crap, that might’ve been me,” Karlieah shook her head. “I changed time…. By accident. Had to learn Falchou’s weakness.”
“Great,” Louise sighed. “Now there’s time travel involved as well?”
“Yeah, anyways…” Karlieah turned to Alinon. “Is the cure ready yet?”
“Yes, yes, just another minute or so…” Came the distracted reply.
“Great, now then…” Karlieah turned to Darien. “About that key.”
“Ah, ah ah, not quite yet.” Darien wagged his finger at her. “We need weapons and armor to defend ourselves.” He motioned at Louise. “Your friend there’s spent the last few days in nothing but her nightwear. Least you could do is fetch her some proper clothes first, right?”
Karlieah growled under her throat. “Fine. I’ll find your weapons. Where do I look?”
“Caches are hidden around the city,” Darien’s explanation was interrupted by Alinon’s cheers of excitement.
“I think I’ve got it!”
And indeed, he did have it. The cure worked- and while rescuing citizens from the lycanthropy curse, Karlieah fetched armor and weapons from the caches, then returned to the inn.
“Ah, the lovely clank of armor,” Darien rubbed his hands together, and raised his voice to a cheerful level. “Well done. Everyone! When we all get out of here, the first drink’s on me!” A pause, then he lowered his voice to something a bit more conspiratorial. “Now, I have some good news and bad news.”
“‘Course you do.” Karlieah sighed. “Wot is it?”
“Good news is, I do indeed have the master key to the city gates… the bad news is….”
“RAAAAH! WHO DARES TRESPASS IN MY CITY!? FIND THEM! KILL THEM! BRING ME THEIR BONES!!!” A roar flew over the city just then, falling wonderfully into the pause Darrien put into his sentence.
“Ah, and there’s mister angry claws himself,” Louise said, flatly, as she examined some of the armor Karlieah had found.
“Ooh, I got the timing right that time. Hah, Yeah…. The Bad news is your thrilling exploits have attracted Faolchu’s attention.” Darien gave a sympathetic smile. “You were too successful, and now Faolchu is- pardon the pun- howling mad.”
“Never mind ‘dat! We need to unlock the gates for the Lion Guard,” Karlieah crossed her arms, even as Louise changed into a set of armor between them, mostly by slipping it on over what she already was wearing.
“A bold plan, for my father. If we time it right, it should work, but that doesn’t change the fact that Faolchu is hunting for us.” Darien answered.
“Wot do you suggest, then?” Karlieah asked.
“You take someone to the signal towers and have them light the fires to let my dad know we’re ready. I’ll take the rest of the civilians and guards and unlock the gates.” Darien said.
“So who do you suggest I escort to light the fires?” Karlieah asked.
“Me,” Louise smiled as she readied a Lightning Staff. “Darien told me what colors for the fire salts to use for the signals and what order to light them in while you were out.”
“And once the fires are lit, you two both Confront Faolchu. Keep him busy long enough for our troops to take back the city, and we’ll sent aid as soon as we can.” Darien concluded.
“By ourselves?” Karlieah asked. “Are you BLEEDIN’ MAD?! Just because we know his weakness doesn’t mean we can fight him! I didn’t sign up for this!” Never mind the fact that she had, actually, signed up for this way back in Daggerfall when she’d sent Louise off to Camlorn in the first place, all based off of a hunch that there was more to this than met the eye.
Karlieah hated it when she was right. Because whenever her instincts were right- things usually went to Oblivion in a hand basket… or to Coldharbour on a stone table… or to the Werewolves under a necromantically revived monster from the time of the Wild Elves, as the case currently was.
“Now, don’t be modest!” Darien interrupted. “You’ve more than proven yourself. Destiny beckons and you must answer its call….”
“Hey, that sounded pretty good,” Louise smiled at him.
“I know! I should write this stuff down!” Darien smiled back.
“Gag!” Karlieah said, miming a gagging motion at all the sweet flirtatiousness going around. “Fine. I’ll fight him. Just… stop flirting!”
“No promises,” Darien and Louise said in a synchronized way.
“So, what’s this weakness?” Louise asked.
“Fire,” Karlieah answered. “Ruins his specific invulnerability.”
“Oh, we can get you two fire.” Darien smirked. “Once we get the Lion Guard Archers in, anyways, we can-”
“DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING MYSELF!? FIND THEM!!!” Another roar interupted Darien.
“Guess you’d better hurry,” Darien said, pointedly glancing at the door. “And stay safe out there. Can’t get drinks without drinking buddies, after all.”
“OF course,” Louise nodded.
And so, the two girls headed out into the city proper.
“So you two seem to be… friendly.” Karlieah mused as they slipped from the Inn to the first tower, the closest one, and the one that was furthest south.
“He’s nice.” Louise smiled. “Quen introduced us that first night before everything went to hell.”
“‘Fore she disappeared, you mean.”
“So… jus’ me being silly,” Karlieah began as she ran up to the doors of the first tower. “But do you like ‘im?”
Louise didn’t answer, instead, rushing inside to light the signal fire.
Karlieah waited patiently, killing tie by slaying werewolves and Bloodthorn cultists.
Louise had her answer when she returned. “Well, we both remembered what was going on after time slipped up, so… we kind of had that to talk about?”
They began running through the city for the next tower.
“And apparently that lead into plannin’ this insane mission??” Karlieah asked, casually sniping a Bloodthorn Cultist in the back of the head before they realized who was sneaking up on them.
“Well, yeah, we were going to try and retake the city by ourselves today, but then we heard you fighting your way through the city so we decided to change things up a bit.” Louise nodded. “I mean, we weren’t expecting the Lion Guard to show up so it was just going to be me and Darien leading the charge up to the castle and… hold that thought.”
She went into the next tower, and once more Karlieah waited by killing enemies coming at her. She hoped these werewolves weren’t the cursed towns folk, because that would just be sad.
Louise returned a minute later- a spattering of green dust covering her face.
“I tripped coming down the stairs,” was all she offered in explanation before they resumed their march across the street towards the final tower.
“So, you were sayin’, jus’ you and the knight boy?” Karlieah asked.
“Yeah. I think he might be connected in some way towards what brought me here,” Louise answered. “Maybe, specifically, in resolving it.”
And then she disappeared into the final tower.
Another round of slaying later- Louise re-emerged with a determined look on her face- “Let’s go kill an immortal werewolf.”
“Archers! There’s your target. Ignite, draw back, and Release!”
Faolchu died much too easily once that line had been said. So had Louise’s long hair- having been scorched by falling embers from the suddenly collapsing roof.
The General appraised Karlieah’s work with a “You did it!” Karlieah countered with “It was a group effort,” to which the General said, “Yes, but you turned the tide. We had all but lost the war before you came and showed us the way to victory.” While this was happening, Louise slipped away, leaving Karlieah with the only come back that she could think of:
“Why were they so interested in Camlorn?”
“My son may know more than me on that matter. My only guess is that they sought to break the Lion Guard. Divide our forces and destroy us. if not for your intervention, they very well may have succeeded.”
“There’s trouble in other places?”
“Yes, Throughout Glenumbra. The Lion Guard is spread thing, and without King Casimir’s full support I’m not sure if we’ll be able to deal with it all. Of course, if I had a few more like you–”
“No. Just…. Tell me what happens to Camlorn now?”
“We rebuild. Of course we still need to deal with Faolchu’s master. But tomorrow is another day and we should relish this victory.” He laughed. “Well, don’t let me keep you. We both have things to do and you should speak with my son.”
And so Karlieah went off to find the familiar head of hair that was Louise’s hair color- it stood out obviously among the lion guard armor, being blondish with large dark splotches covering nearly the bottom half, and especially next to Darien, who looked as bland as bland could be next to the other soldiers.
‘Seriously? Did he come out of a soldier factory or somethin’?’ Karlieah shook her head as she thought that.
“…shall we find a bottle of wine and drown out our memories of today?” Darien was asking of Louise as Karlieah walked up.
“Save it for yer entourage, Cap’n,” Karlieah interupted. “Yer Father sent me ta speak with ya.”
“Oh? Well, first off, I wanted to thank you for showing up. We might have been able to retake Camlorn eventually, but it wouldn’t have been this quick, and it wouldn’t have been pretty. You helped us save lives, and that’s not something I’ll soon forget.” He paused. “So, what do you want?”
“We need to deal with Angof.” Karlieah said. “I overheard him talkin’ to Faolchu while we sneaked in to fight him. He’s the real culprit in all o’ this, and he wasn’t too pleased to see us entering behind ‘im like that. Basically left Faolchu there ta rot!”
“I agree that dealing with him is the next step.” Darien nodded. “I’ll be retiring from the Camlorn Guard soon, Camlorn needs buildiers, not soldiers. Maybe I’ll go mercenary for a while, or maybe join the Fighters Guild. Maybe we could travel together and hunt him down?”
“That sounds great!” Louise smiled, seeming completely smitten with the guy.
“Wonderful,” Karlieah sighed- nursing a headache with her free hand. “Why don’t… you two go do that? Then?”
“What? You’re not coming with us?” Darien asked.
“It’s… I’ve got to check in on Quen. See if she’s alright.” Karlieah shook her head. “Louise, meet me up in Wayrest once you’ve had your fun down here.”
“Sounds like a plan!” Louise said. “Tell her I say hi!”
“Hah, sure,” Karlieah nodded as she left. ‘If she even remembers.’
As she walked off, Louise nearly a double take. “Huh.”
“What?” Darien asked.
“When did she tie her pony tail up into a bun? I hadn’t even noticed…” Absently, she glanced at a strand of her own hair, hanging between her eyes. “Say, Darien?”
“Yeah?” He asked.
“Do you think ash burns wash out?”
“Ah…. well…” Darien blinked as he processed the question, then answered, “Honestly, I don’t know!”
A brick shifted, and then was pulled loose- pouring moon light into the space beyond, and highlighting a crystal’s edge, poking out through the corner of a bag.
‘Oh thank the Founder, it’s still here.’ Louise sighed in relief as she pulled the bag out of the wall and began replacing the bricks. Once she’d finished, she then pushed the bag containing the giant ruby soul gem into a larger backpack bag that could hold it and mostly clothing. ‘I was afraid the werewolves got to it, or that it’d gone missing in that time shift- but it’s still here, so… I’m good.’
Once the priceless gemstone was safely hidden, Louise took a look around the rest of the room. Unfortunately, at some point during the werewolf’s attack on the city- the magical system controlling the water pumps for the special room had been disrupted, and it was no longer functioning. She’d tested it earlier, just to see if she could get some water running to try washing the burn marks off of her hair, but… it hadn’t, and so Darien had offered his skills at giving impromptu haircuts via long sword.
Reaching a hand up towards the back of her head, Louise felt the trimmed edges of her hair- once long and flowing, it was now barely long enough to reach her shoulders. Louise looked towards a mirror, and sighed. She looked a bit like Tabitha now, she supposed, if Tabitha’s hair had Louise’s hair color instead of her own light blue coloring.
This world that she now lived in- Tamriel- didn’t seem to have the many vibrant hair colors that her world, Halkegnia, had. Even her own hair had gone from a subtly pinker shade to its current mostly-blonde hue in the transition from one dimension to another. A part of Louise’s mind wondered if that wasn’t a result of her soul being stolen- or maybe if it was just an actual part of crossing between dimensions. If she found a way into some third, unknown world, would her hair change colors to be something absurdly different as well? Say, dark purple or an eye searing green? Or was it all just a trick of the natural lighting of the sun that hung over the two different worlds? Could it be that her hair really was the same color- just that it looked different here in Tamriel because the sunlight (And thus the reflected moonlight) was just that different from the light brought on by the sun she’d grown up under??
It was a mystery for the ages, she supposed, but one that was worth investigating if she ever found a way back home….
A home that likely was ashen ruins all over- much like Camlorn now stood, except on a massive scale.
Louise had seen what Coldharbour had looked like only briefly, but she didn’t like the idea that her home country of Tristain was now under similar oppression, if anyone was still–
‘That’s enough of that!’ Louise yelled at herself as she slapped her cheeks with her hands. There was no point in speculating what the truth of the matter was while she was here. If she lived the rest of her un-deathly life without ever finding out what had happened to her home land, that would be just as fine. If she found a way back, she’d deal with that in its own time.
For now, she’d continue to face forwards on whatever strange path she’d settled into, and where-ever it lead, she’d face it head on.
A.N.: Took forever to get this post figured out. Life has been chaotic lately.