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Category Archives: Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Valliere

VESTIGE OF VOID: LEVEL 7

LEVEL 7:  Intermission: Travel the Worlds


Princess Henrietta was not having a good day.

Today was the day of the Springtime Summoning Ritual at the Academy- and while the Princess wanted to send all her thoughts and prayers towards her childhood playmate’s successful summoning of a familiar, she was forced to do otherwise since last night- when dark storm clouds had rolled in over the floating kingdom of Albion.

The Viscount Wardes had been on assignment there, trying to dig up information on where the Prince Valiant- Her Beloved Wales- was hiding, if he were still alive after all the bloodshed of the civil war brought on by Reconquista. Today was the day he was scheduled to return.

The Viscount was late in reporting back in any shape, way, or form.

The wall of clouds continued to block all sight of Albion from land or from sea. It was thick- dark, malevolent, and evil feeling according to all who saw it. Whatever had happened on Albion in recent days was clearly a result of some magickal ritual, but whatever it was, none of her best Mage Advisors- nor any of the up and coming mages from the Institute- could tell her what was causing it.

It was a worrisome event- given that Albion’s normal meandering path was set to take it near the boarders of her kingdom- normally subject to concern just because of the shadow it cast… but this wall of clouds? It was much larger in radius than the floating isle had normally- and whatever after effects ITS shadow would cast upon the land was too terrifying to think about.

“Mi Lady!” A Servant ran into the room, “The Viscount returns! Wounded!”

“Get the Water Mages,” The Princess called out. “I’ll meet him in the infir-”

“PRINCESS!” The Viscount shoved his way into the room in that instant- bleeding heavily from a wound to the head and a large cut to his arm. “Albion…. Albion has fallen!”

“Fallen?” Princess Henrietta asked as she and several others ran over to meet him, even as he fell to his knees, not out of respect, but out of exhaustion. “What do you mean by fallen? Is it Reconquista?”

“No… they…” The Viscount gulped down a wet sounding breath. “The whole of Albion is simply…  Unrecognizable.  The very landscape changed beneath my feet. The docks were destroyed and the… the Rebels were put on display.”

“What?” The Cardinal- some young faced boy who had come in to replace the previous Cardinal after he had fallen ill several days ago, and so Henrietta had trouble remembering his name. Julian or something?- asked as he too stepped forwards, drawing his wand to perform some rudimentary healing spell. “What do you mean they were put on display? By Who?!”

“Monsters! Demons!” The Viscount breathed out, eyes darting about the room in a harried perimeter check even as he slipped down onto his butt, then further lied down onto his back with the aid of the Princess. “Beasts unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Constructs of flesh… rock and ice…. wind and…. lightning!” With every word he fought to breathe down more air, “…Burning flames that are chilling to the touch…!”

The Cardinal frowned as his healing spell did nothing. “By the Founder…!” A team of dedicated Water Mages came rushing in, and began doing their more complicated spells.

“What’s wrong?” Henrietta asked of the Cardinal.

“It’s like… my magic was being eaten…” He shook his head. “That should be impossible… Unless….?”

After a few critical moments, one of the Water Mages stood, and said, hurriedly, “We can’t explain it, but we’re losing him. If you need to talk to him, do so. Now.”

“Viscount!” Henrietta kneelled down to look the man in the eyes. “You have to tell me- these Demons- do they have a name? Some united front? A Summoner?? What is the most important thing about them that you know of them?”

The Viscount Wardes looked at the Princess with a look bordering on sympathy. “Daedra…. An army…. belongs to….” His eyes closed and his breathing all but slowed to a halt.

“Viscount! Wardes! What are Daedra? Who do they belong to?!” Neither Henrietta or the Cardinal were sure who was asking what- it all blurred together under a swirl of chaos.

And then the Viscount spoke the name that sent shivers of dread down everyone’s backs.

“Molag… Bal.”

And so he breathed his last- his heart did stop, and his soul left his body for parts unknown.

The room fell dark as the sun outside was obscured by dark clouds.

Henrietta stood up and took a few steadying breaths. “Cardinal… who, or what, is Molag Bal?”

“I… I don’t know.” The fear was evident in the young Cardinal’s… James? Julian? Julius? What was his name?… voice as he spoke. “I’ve never heard of ‘Daedra,’ or anyone named Molag Bal before…”

“That…” A deep voice rumbled through the room. “Would be because I’ve yet to introduce myself.”

All eyes turned back towards the fallen corpse of the Viscount, whose mouth was twisted in a grin it had not been in before his death.

“By the founder…” The Princess swore as everyone took a step back from the body. “Necromancy??”

“No. No. Nothing so trivial.” The body of the Viscount said as it rose to its feet, eyes opening. “Think more along the lines of a ghost possessing a painting. Except, I am no ghost, and this is no painting.”

Agnes- Henrietta’s loyal bodyguard- fired off her flintlock at the deceased Wardes. The bullet struck true in the forehead- but did nothing to the one possessing the body… well, nothing except make him make a curious expression as he reached up with one hand and dug out the bullet from the wound to inspect it.

“Hah! I applaud your audacity, Mortal! A fine shot if ever there was one!” The bullet was dropped to the ground with a laugh. “Unfortunately for you, this puppet is already dead! Defiling it further will do you no good.”

“Who are you?!” The Cardinal asked- pointing his wand at the corpse of the Viscount as he took a gallant step in front of the Princess.

“Oh I go by many names,” the thing puppeteering the corpse said as it bowed. “The Daedric Prince of Rape. The Lord of Domination…. But you may call me Molag Bal.”

A shiver of dread filled the room, and distantly, lightning cracked in the distance.

“So… you’re the one whose transformed Albion- or were you puppeteering the Viscount to lie to us?” Henrietta asked.

“Oh no, this one-“ He laughed at some private joke. “-This one was completely honest in his legitimate flee of terror to warn you of what had happened on Albion- especially since his previous masters in Reconquista were brutally slain before his very eyes.” This admission made several gasp in dismay and surprise. “Oh, yes, he knew he was a dead man. I simply… let him live just long enough to deliver the news of my arrival in your world. Yes, it’s quite a lovely neighborhood, I would say. The Stars actually stay in place! How quaint! Sheogorath would throw a fit if he ever saw this world. Too… Mundane and Static for his liking.” The Demon began pacing back and forth as he talked, looking around the throne room with amusement in his eyes. “Oh! Is that a stained glass window? I haven’t seen one that disgustingly vibrant since I raided that church and I made the first Vampires!” He laughed, and it was a laugh that sounded much too… large, and powerful for the body it was coming out of.

“What do you want, Demon?” Henrietta asked.

“Me? Oh, nothing much,” he didn’t even stop to turn away from the stained glass window. “I’m simply here just to… ah, extend the formality of meeting the neighbors. You see, I met someone who gave me the insight that I shouldn’t limit myself to just ONE whole world to rule over! I should have a vacation home! My… contact in this world assures me that the summers are wonderful, and that the Elves are just as pathetically self-centered as they are back home.”

“Your contact?!” The Cardinal asked- surprised. “You mean someone summoned you here!”

“Summoned?” The beast had the audacity to sound offended. “No no no. I was not “summoned.” You see it was all sheer happenstance!” He turned to look at the Cardinal- Oh! Julio! That was it, Henrietta mentally slapped herself for the fact that his name came to her now of all times. “You see, I was testing out one of my little… Prototypes and instead of connecting to the place I wanted it to- it instead connected to a quaint little homestead here on this world!” A menacing tone overcame the room, even as the Daedric Prince of Domination continued to talk in an almost… jovial tone? No, it wasn’t quite that. Amused, perhaps? “There, I heard the prayers of a girl who wish so desperately to heal her younger sister of an incurable disease! Of course- even I could not do such a thing without first researching it.” A demonic grin spread across the face of the Viscount’s mouth. “So I prolonged her life- well beyond the years she would have lived otherwise. And in doing so, the girl told me about the troubles of this world. Such strife! Such… decadence.”

“And why are you telling us this?” Cardinal Julio asked. “A mere formality?”

“YES!” There was a delightful glee in the Daedric Prince’s voice as he clapped his stolen hands. “Exactly! Well, that… and I’m doing something incredibly simple that you should have been able to figure it out if I hadn’t been doing it!”

“….You’re a Distraction!?” Henrietta asked- well, it was less of an asking and more of a squealing, but the point remains.

“As I speak to you, my Beloved Contact in this world has finished the Spell that will interfere with the… ah, what was it called again? Oh, yes,” He held no actual pause to his words as he spoke. “The Spring Time Summoning Ritual.”

“You wouldn’t-!” Henrietta protested.

“As we speak, the target of that spell is just about to start casting… creating what I’ve lovingly named the- oh, and you’ll just love this-“ He stopped as a loud, crescendoing  rumble echoed across the land- and the clouds outside darkened even further. Then, as green flashes of lightning began to occur outside- painting the room in an ominous green wash- Molag Bal spoke six simple words:

“The Gathering of the Void Fragments.”

That was when a crack of lightning occurred outside, and Cardinal Julio suddenly cried out in pain, reaching a hand to his heart even as the hidden Familiar Runes on his body flared into existence, and then shattered away.

Moments later, the Cardinal collapsed to the ground. He was dead- there was no doubt about that.

“W….What did you do to him?” Princess Henrietta asked.

“My agents just assassinated the one you call a ‘Pope’- and stole the fragment of the Void Element within his soul from him. As that man’s Familiar, your Cardinal there suffered a fatal error… a piece of his soul being brutally ripped out as part and parcel of that same assassination.” Molag Bal answered. “As we speak, the remaining Void Mages, hidden away in this world, are being gathered so that their Fragments of the Void can be taken from them.”

“You’re killing them all?!” Henrietta asked- gulping in fear. The Power of the Holy Void in the hands of a beast like this!?

“Oh! No! Don’t be so crass!” He laughed- as if he were enjoying this. “I’m only killing the ones who KNOW what they are and who have summoned their Familiars! The rest? Well…” The evil grin seemed to widen now- not that it had ever left his face, not really. “Let’s just say I’m in need of manual labor and leave it at tha-“

Another gunshot from Agnes’ gun barked out- and another bullet wedged itself into the desecrated Viscount’s body- this time in the heart.

The room went silent as the Daedric Prince turned to look at her and ‘tsk’d in dismay. “Oh, Agnes. I thought you were smarter than to try that again.”

And so the Daedric Prince of Domination made good on his name as a giant mace appeared in his puppet’s hand.


The Gallian mage known to her fellow classmates as “Tabitha” shuddered beneath the cover of her familiar’s wings as a massive surge of dark energy overwhelmed the entire summoning field.

One moment- the pink haired girl who could not cast magic had summoned something for the first time ever- her first successful usage of magic ever.

No explosion had occurred- that should have been the warning sign.

The beast that she’d summoned had looked fairly harmless- some kind of miniature female humanoid with bat wings for arms…

Then, as Louise had bent down to kiss it to complete the summoning, it had teleported behind her- and knocked her to the ground- and everyone else for that matter- with a massive stunning blast of magic.

Only the quick reflexes of her recently summoned dragon familiar had kept Tabitha from falling under its attack- but now she was stuck beneath her stunned familiar’s wings, and had been forced to watch as the creature opened a portal of its own- and out stepped several female warriors in strange armor.

Most had strange, greyish blue skin, and wore helmets to obscure their faces. The leader, however, had the pink skin that was common in humans native to this region- and wore no helmet, letting her long, flowing blonde hair to flow outwards in an unseen wind.

“Good job, Familiar,” the woman had said to the creature, who chirped in acceptance of the praise of her mistress. Then, she turned to look at the stunned, but still conscious Louise, and kicked her to roll her over onto her back. “Well now, Sister. I suppose you must be wondering what all this is about.”

Sister? Tabitha’s brain worked overtime to figure out what was going on. Sister… Yes, there was a familial resemblance to the woman’s face and Louise’s. This must be the eldest- Ela… Elea… Something? Truth be told, Tabitha had never paid much attention to the Zero, or her family. Even Kirchie’s rants through all of last year had barely sunk in just enough to be aware that Louise did have two elder sisters- one who shared her pink hair, but was constantly sick, and an eldest who had blonde hair.

So this was her.

…And she had already begun talking. What had Tabitha missed?? The other women in the strange armor had already encircled Louise and her Sister, and had cast some strange spell circle on the ground- in each corner, the women stood, facing inwards, and thrusting their arms out at timed intervals while chanting some arcane words that Tabitha couldn’t recognize.

“–She almost died that day, you know? The day you were born? You’d never know it, our parents didn’t want you to know! But I knew. I KNEW you’d stolen something from her, just by being BORN. And that left a mark on our dear Catt. She was sick before but now- oh, NOW she was actually in danger of dying!! So…”

The elder sister breathed out as she stroked at her youngest sister’s hair- pushing it out of her face. “I made a deal. His name is Molag Bal, and he’s… well… he’s going to cure her, in exchange for complete and total domination over this world. This world that saddled you with the Void. Oh! Yes. That’s why you can’t cast properly, by the way! Heh… the pity is that you’re not even going to remember me telling you this.”

As she spoke, the eldest took a knife, and cut down the front of Louise’s shirt until her chest was exposed. “Most who regain some form of consciousness after undergoing this ritual tend to suffer from memory loss of the last few hours of their mortal lives.” She took the knife, and pressed it up towards Louise’s right shoulder blade, then drew down at an angle towards the heart- “Something to do with…” She skipped a moment, then dug back down again- “Soul gems!”

Louise managed a whimper as the blade was drawn away.

“Neither me nor my partner found the reasons why interesting enough to investigate. Maybe I will- if you’re one of those unlucky few who regain awareness of themselves.” She pulled out a pitch black crystal from a bag hanging at her side, and held it up. “And… if by some chance that you do remember this moment…”

She whispered something to Louise, something which got a strangled “no!” in response, followed by tears flowing down the girl’s cheeks.

“Oh, Yes! He was a traitor… and now he’s dead. Being paraded around right this moment as a corpse puppet by my Beloved Partner.” A twisted smile formed on the eldest sister’s face, and then she said, “And on that note-” She then stabbed the knife straight down into Louise’s chest- completing an X over the heart and causing some explosive surge of energy to explode out of her body and flow straight into the black gemstone.

That was when the spell circle beneath their feet erupted into a massive torrent of dark energy- swirling upwards and engulfing everything in sight as it hit the sky and began to spread outwards- covering everything as green lightning began to shoot out and just the sound of it made Tabitha shiver–

Ah. Right.

And now she had gotten back to the present moment. Tabitha took a steeling breath as she watched the storm-like energy begin to pull in the stunned bodies of her fellow classmates, along with the varying forms of their familiars.

Any moment now- she would be next.

That was when there was a massive, droning sound from above her- followed by the dark vortex disappearing from sight, revealing that all who had been pulled into it were either destroyed, or taken away to somewhere else. And then with the rattling of metal and chains- giant anchor points fell from above, smashing into the ground where Louise had been killed.

That was when the stunning spell wore off- and her Familiar began to move.

Tabitha rolled out from under her familiar’s wing, and looked upwards.

Hanging over the Academy was a massive, metal ring with a bright blue vortex of energy suspended within it.

Tabitha narrowed her eyes and adjusted her glasses. Whatever this damned thing was… she would have to….

The surface rippled- and something Descended.

Tabitha quickly jumped onto her dragon familiar’s back, and kicked once into the side. Even the Dragon, though it clearly wanted to protest, understood this was not a fight they could win, and so they flew off as the first of many dark forces crashed into the Academy grounds, and began to make the holy place their own desecrated grounds.

As they ascended- Tabitha felt a brief tugging at her clothes from the portal above– a suction effect? Her familiar understood it as well, and adjusted her course to pull away from it.

They flew for several minutes before landing far away, deep in the forest.

That was when Tabitha’s familiar shifted from a dragon into a human girl.

“WHAT…!” The dragon-girl- or more properly, as Tabitha now recognized her, a Rhyme Dragon- cried out as she pointed at the massive ring in the heavens- supported by nothing but its own magic. “JUST WHAT IS THAT!?”

Tabitha huffed as she looked at the affront to all things sane and rational. “No idea.”

She had no idea what it was… but she would find out… and then she would destroy it, and anything else like it, and then….

Then what?

Get revenge on the people who created it?

No, that would not be possible. Clearly something like this was well beyond Tabitha’s hands alone to deal with… Even if her Familiar had a second pair of hands to lend to the cause.

By God, this was all so messed up. Louise’s sister had killed her for… Void magic? Was that really what all of this was about? Certainly it explained a few things about Louise’s “Zero” status and inability to cast magic that wasn’t an explosion, but even so… How cruel was it to perform such an act?

Tabitha turned to her familiar… who she supposed she should ask the name of, rather than give one to her. Wasn’t this a surprise on top of everything else?

Well, regardless, like everything else in her life at this point, Tabitha resolved herself to face it all head on. She had survived this long, after all.

—-

A.N.: Some insight into what exactly happened in that summoning ritual. I will admit that Molag Bal’s stage show was less him and more… that snarky Dunmer from the Dark Brotherhood DLC who you talk to upon completing a contract. Argh, I was trying so hard to make it sound like Molag Bal, but damn it, that smooth talking Dunmer’s voice just gets in your head!!

(I might do more stuff with Tabitha. I made a tag. Let’s see if that ever pans out. Shall we?)

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Vestige of Void – Level 6

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.”

“Yeah…”

“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.

>LEVEL UP!


A.N.: Took forever to get this post figured out. Life has been chaotic lately.

 

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Vestige of Void – LV5

LEVEL 5: Sweet Dreams are Made of These.


She feels the draw of the knife across the surface of her skin- going from her right shoulder towards her heart- skipping a faint breath as if a reprieve just before drawing a sharp cut through the flesh.

The blond hair of the younger sibling seems to flow in a wind that cannot be felt. Her eyes shimmer behind her glasses- no, wait. Where are her glasses? Why are they missing?- with a dedication that the girl does not understand.

“O..Onee…” Louise tries to ask her why. Why is she doing this.

She seems to get the point regardless. “Because, Louise, you are a monster.” With every word, Lousie can feel her body changing. Her ears grow long and tall, her hips feel like they’re breaking as her spine elongates into a tail. “You are tainted. Covered in Hircine’s damned markings. You are a beast, a danger, just waiting to be put out of your misery.” Louise can feel the fur sprouting across her bare skin. Where are her clothes? Wasn’t she wearing at least pants a moment ago? “And that’s why I’m going to kill you now.” Before Louise can question this sudden discrepancy, Eleanore drives the dagger down into Louise’s heart, completing the X shape to its core.

She screams.

Louise screams as she wakes up, only for a hand to be shoved over her mouth a moment later. Quen- silencing her, lest they draw the attention of the werewolves. Louise pulls Quen’s hand away and takes a few shaky breaths before she gets up to walk it off.

They are presently in some church along with a handful of other survivors. That Darrien fellow managed to get them all together- being part of the Lion Guard and thus a point of rallying for any survivors of the werewolf rampage that began…

Louise looks out the window up at the moons, and gauges their phases….

Three days ago.

Louise finds her way to the nearest wash room with a mirror- because what church doesn’t have a wash room for the in-church staff?- and striped off her shirt as per the usual ritual after one of these terrifying nightmares. They were worse now, since the Werewolf attacks began. She turned so that her back was to the mirror, and moved her hair over her shoulder so that she could see the latest addition to her ‘scar collection,’ as Darien had joked.  Five long lines dragged down from her right shoulder down towards the bottom left corner of her rib cage.

A Werewolf’s claws made a too close strike- deep enough to leave her bleeding, but it wasn’t deep enough to cause an INFECTION. An infection that Louise had seen take hold in a frightening amount of people since this nightmare had begun.

How she had lucked out, Lousie wasn’t sure.

She turned back around and threw her hair back over her back to look at the scar over her heart. It was unchanged since the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.

It was an X- a target on her heart.

She didn’t have any shirts to cover it up now. The one she’d been wearing during the middle of that night three days ago had been the one she’d been wearing when she’d been clawed across the back. One of the other survivors had leant her a tank top, the piece of leather her hands now gripped tightly in a death grip as she thought back to that terrifying moment, but it left an embarrassing amount of her chest exposed.

It was something Kirchie would wear, Louise was sure. And… she might not have had a problem with wearing something like this in this exact same situation if it weren’t for that damned X over her heart.

It was just so… visible. Taunting. Daring anyone who saw it to hit her there.

Louise still wasn’t sure if her miraculous survival of death by soul-stealing was something she could rely on in the future. Sure, someone back in that prison had mentioned something about resurrecting, but Louise had yet to put that theory into practice. She didn’t want to risk waking up in chains on a table once again, having her sister digging a knife into her chest for no reason other than to-

“Admiring the collection?”

Louise nearly jumped out of her skin, arms flinging themselves over her chest as she turned to glare at Darien.  “No! I am not!” She hissed at him.

“It’s alright to stare at them,” Darien remarked. “Scars tell stories. Sometimes not pleasant ones, but… they all end the same way.”

“And what’s that?” Louise asked.

“You survived.” And with that, he turned his back so she could put her shirt on. “Every scar our bodies carry shows that we survived something. It may be something as mundane as a knife cut, or as exotic as a werewolf’s claw. Maybe it’s a bunch of burn scars covering half your body- or maybe you’ve lost sight in one eye. But whatever the story is, the scars mean that you’ve survived it.”

“And I suppose that means you’ve got your own scars?” Louise asked, readjusting her hair so it wasn’t caught between her shirt and her skin.

“I’ve got a few,” Darien chuckled. “I’d show you them if it didn’t require taking my armor off, and we all know I need to keep it on in-case a wolf breaks in.” The jovial and also teasing tone to his voice implied other reasons for not taking it off. “But lemme tell you about this one really… private one I got on my hip.”

“I’m not sure I want to hear it or not.” Louise scowled as she turned on the sink to splash some water onto her face.

“Well, it’s nothing dirty, or sexual, if that’s what you’re wondering,” Darien answered, his voice going quiet for a moment. “I was playing with this girl my age, back when we were kids. Knights and Bandits, we were calling it. She was the knight, I was a bandit. We were playing with wooden toy swords but, my dad had a collection of training knives. I decided that the next game we’d play was me being a thief and swiping them, and she’d have to stop me.”

“I’m guessing she did?” Louise asked as she and Darien both turned back to face each other.

“Yeah. We weren’t thinking- lost track for a moment that these were real knives and not wood toys.” He shook his head. “Gabbie managed to knick me across the hips. It wasn’t terribly deep, but damn if it didn’t hurt, and bleed, too. We ended up really stealing that particular knife- and burried it. Neither of us wanted to tell my dad that we’d done all of that, and I didn’t know how to clean steel yet. I ended up lying to my dad that we’d been out in the forests playing tag when I tripped and cut myself on an old sign post someone had stuck a sword through!”

“That’s insane,” Louise shook her head. “That’s nearly twice as bad as admitting to stealing the knife!”

“We were kids,” Darien shrugged as he gave a quiet laugh. “Didn’t want to get into trouble… although I’m sure my dad knew, deep down, once he figure out that a knife was missing.”  They were quiet for a moment, then he continued, “So, whatever story that cut on your chest holds? It just means you’re stronger for it, even if it was gotten for a really, really stupid reason.”

“I suppose,” Louise mused. “You don’t tell everyone this story, do you?”

“I don’t even tell the fake sword in the forest one because that’s somehow even lamer than the real story.” Then, Darien wriggled his eyebrows, “I tell anyone who gets to see it that I had a wild night with a Dark Seducer in disguise, and I caught on just mere moments before she tried to kill me in a dark ritual. Got nicked, but I swiped the knife and returned the favor.”

Louise scoffed. “You’re insane! Who would believe that!?”

“Maybe one day I’ll show you the scar,” Darien gave a smug looking smirk, “Then you’ll see why I tell people that. It’s… quite the interesting shape.”

Louise gave him a blank expression before replying, “Yeah. Sure. Maybe after five or ten bottles of the strongest wine around.”


The Fourth Night she awakens from the same nightmare, she does it without screaming. She thinks she’s managed to avoid waking anyone else, but this time, it’s Darien she finds looking in the mirror. He’s not wearing anything above his waist, and yet Louise can’t see any scars on him.

“Nightmare?” He asks once he sees her reflection, and his voice sounds hollow.

“Yeah,” Lousie nods.

“About that scar?”

“…Usually.”

“I wish my nightmares were the same,” his voice continues to be quiet, hollow. “It’s always different, and yet the same. It ends with a bright light. Sometimes I see vampires, sometimes daedra, others just plain ordinary folk who have been turned into monsters.” He lists off items that sound like they’re from a nightmare. “Anchors fell in my dreams months before they did in reality. And yet still I’m plagued by these… visions.”  Before Louise was sure how to respond to that, he continued. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve done this same song and dance a thousand times over and over again. Not just this werewolf business but everything that comes after it too. Why? What’s so special about me? I’m just a Lion Guard who has a General for his Papa. I’m normal! Aren’t I??” He slammed a fist into the counter, nearly cracking the stone-like material it was made out of. “If I am- then why do I have these nightmares!?”

Silence fell between the two of them for a moment, then Lousie spoke.

“I lived in a country you’ve never heard of,” she said, “I went to an Academy for teaching Mages how to use their magic… but I couldn’t do anything but make explosions. I had no affinity for water, fire, earth, or wind. People called me a Zero.” Darien turned to look at her, confusion forming on his face. “I wanted to be the best mage there- but I had nothing to back it up. Then, came the Springtime Summoning Ritual. We all summoned a familiar and bound it. Everyone else got normal animals, frogs, moles, dragons even! But me?” She scoffed. “Apparently I opened a portal to a Plane of Oblivion. The worst part is I’m not even sure how much of it was me doing it and how much my sister had to do with it.”

“Your nightmares then…?”

“The events are the same, though the words are different,” Louise took a steadying breath. “It’s me on a rack, getting my chest carved up by my own sister. It always ends the same, too.” She shrugged off the left shoulder of her top so that the longest line could be seen in full. “She drags the tip across- then a skip, before it touches down again.” She mimes with her finger, skipping over the spot where it always skips. “Then, she says something. She always says different things. I can’t even remember what happened originally, it’s all so plausable. Then, she punctuates it,” she clenches her hand into a fist and pounds it against the crossing line. “With a stab. That’s when I wake up.”

“Torture by family,” Darien said quietly. “That’s messed up.”

“The worst one was where she said she did it for the sake of our sick sister.” Louise admitted. “I would have gladly sacrificed myself for her if that were really the case.”

“Nightmares suck, huh?” Darien asked rhetorically.

“Yet for all of that, I know the worst time was the first, when it really happened,” Lousie took in a shuddering breath as she pulls her left shoulder back on. “She called me a Zero. I was sure that she’d never do that. It had to be a nightmare, right? Except… she’s never once said it in one of my dreams.” She paused a few moments, then asked, “Do you think I’m naive for that?”

“No more naive than I was for hoping my nightmares weren’t prophetic.” Darien admits.

That was the moment when a Time Traveler changed the future and both of them fainted from the sudden headache that formed in their skulls as two sets of memories tried to settle their differences in mortal combat.


The first thing Louise noticed when she awoke was that Quen was missing, or rather, had never been here in the first place.

The first thing that Darien noticed was that there were three more people than there had been the night before.

The second thing both of them noticed was that the bathrooms no longer had mirrors.

Neither of them were sure what this meant- but everyone else who was the same had been asleep at the time, and so never noticed anything different. But whether or not that was due to them being asleep, or due to anything strange attributable to Darien and Louise personally… Nobody could say.


A.N.: Some more Louise adventure. Because I gotta do some writing somewhere, ya?

>LEVEL UP!

 

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Vestige of Void: LEVEL 4

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.

The Princess…

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.

You’re screwed.

>LEVEL UP!

 

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ESO – Chim-el, Ringing a Bell.

For a time, I was sure that they were both still here. At one point I’d see Silica. Others, I’d see Argo. Sometimes both on the same spot.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was seeing things and was ignoring the fact that they’d both disappeared from thin air.

In the weeks following that strange, almost paradoxical disappearance of both Argo and Silica, I was left alone with Faraniel more often than not. When I wasn’t off researching ways of finding out how to reopen that mystical portal, she and I would share our sorrows downing drinks in some of Tamriel’s finest bars and taverns. Through the Mages Guild, we traveled freely between the alliances, despite the ongoing war.

And then Faraniel heard rumor of a fragment of the Amulet of Kings surfacing in the Daggerfall Covenant.

A “Fragment”? I’d asked many times as we traveled by boat to the town of Wayrest. I knew that Aburn Tharn had absconded with the thing after we’d killed Molag Bal, but surely… Surely the idiot hadn’t Broken the damned Amulet after escaping!

Despite my insistence upon a neutral stance, Queen Ayrenn had come to speak to me privately about the rumors on the day we’d set out.

“If the Covenant really has a fragment of the Amulet of Kings, it could lend a legitimacy to their reign that the Dominion and the Pact do not have.” Ayrenn expressed her concerns simply, not as a Queen, but as a person. “If that is how destiny decides to play this hand, then it is fine… I’m willing to deal with that kind of ploy on the field of politics. However, if Molag Bal’s spies hear of this, neigh, if the remnants of the Heritance decide to use this against us…”

If this was true- if the Covenant actually had a fragment of the Amulet of Kings- then enemies from all walks of life would seek to use this fact against pretty much everyone. Aldmeri Dominion, Ebonhart Pact, Cyrodillic Empire, and even the Daggerfall Covenant alike would face fire from all sides to get control of that fragment of the Amulet of Kings.

“I trust you to do the right thing in the end,” Ayrenn said. “With your companions gone… you’re the only one I can trust to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with this Amulet fragment. Steal it if you must- destroy it if absolutely necessary. Give it to me or keep it for yourself. But whatever you decide, I know it will be the right choice.”

And so Faraniel and I had departed to Wayrest, knowing that Queen Ayrenn was concerned for the safety of Tamriel as a whole.

If this rumor was true, we would be facing a challenge that could be impossible to overcome.


The Fragment of the Amulet of Kings was being held on display in the Wayrest Palace, and would be officially unveiled today. It truly was the most prominent of displays, being held in a cloaked box at the center of the throne room’s large plaza.

Curiously, Faraniel pointed out to me, was the Bosmer Girl standing guard around that cloaked box that so many were staring at, awaiting for the cloth to be removed. “When would it be removed?” So many children asked impatiently. “When? When? When?” The Bosmer girl standing guard just answered their questions with a “When tha Lady G’utier makes ‘er grand entr’nce.”

She had a curiously thick accent, which even Faraniel and I were caught off guard by. It wasn’t the standard bosmeri accent I was used to, either. She definitely didn’t have the peculiar twang of the Coldharbour dialect either. It was… different. Yet familiar.

I’d heard it somewhere before, but I just couldn’t place it then.

And then music began playing from the band, and magical spotlights shone upon High King Emeric, who spoke aloud, surprising everyone by being a simple, humble announcer as he listed a long string of achievements and titles, the top most of which being that he had been personally saved from Septima Tharn’s clutches by this person’s hands.

“Geeze, you’d think she’s as well traveled as you and the Rat were,” Faraniel whispered to me as the High King concluded.

“Finally! I present to you the Lady of the Hour, Daggerfall’s greatest hero… Lady Louise Gautier!”

And then, the Bosmeri Guard threw a small smokescreen orb at the ground- one I’d seen many people use to great effect before- and while the smoke dispersed through the air, there was a burst of lightning- not too dissimilar to the effect that happened when I summoned a Storm Atronach- that made the smoke billow out in thickness before fading away, revealing…

“Huh,” I said aloud, very much surprised.

“Welcome!” A nordic girl- she couldn’t have been but a few years older than Silica had been- threw her arms out wide as she greeted her guests. Her slightly pink-hued golden hair rippled out as a small blast of wind cleared the smoke from the room. “Welcome Everyone!” She had a dwemer constructed staff strapped to her back, and her clothing was of the same quality as any Noble’s fancy clothing. “Thank you all for coming.”

The thing was, I’d seen this girl before. Twice, to be exact. Once when escaping Coldharbour in the first place- just another face in the crowd, then. And once a second time during that final run against Molag Bal’s Planar Vortex, she’d been hanging around some guy from the Fighter’s Guild… Darien, wasn’t it? Yeah, Darien Gautier. Was this his… wife? Sister?

“My name is Lady Gautier,” the girl introduced herself. “A long time ago, while exploring an Ayleid ruin with the late Lady Laurent-” there were sniffles from a man who looked familiar. Had I met him somewhere in Coldharbour? “-I discovered a chamber, hidden away from normal foot trafick. It appeared to be a vault. But a vault unlike any that has been discovered thus far in any other ruins! Even the way I found inside remains a mystery!” She then drew her staff from her back, and began moving it through the air, drawing visual imagery to match her story, “To this day, we have all heard the stories of the fabled Amulet of Kings. How it was made from a drop of crystallized blood, and carved into the Red Diamond that the song we all know so well sings of.” She wiped those images away and smiled at the gathered crowd. “Today, I am proud to present to you a long lost relic of history. The Amulet of Kings as we all know is that- an Amulet. Something that you wear around your neck, but still, very large for an amulet.”

I’d admit, having seen it for myself, it was quite large for a necklace.

“But have you not wondered?” The Lady Gautier began to tell her story, crouching low to look a young child in the eyes. “What happened to the pieces it was cut from? Where the parts that gave it that distinctive diamond shape went?”

Next to me, a Breton man who looked like he hadn’t even bothered to trim his beard for this event gulped.

I paid him no further attention but a sideways glance.

The child the Lady Gautier was talking to nodded. “Yeah! Where did it all go?!”

“I’m glad you’ve asked,” And so the Lady Gautier stood tall, and strolled over to the cloaked box which, as I really truly looked at it for the first time, appeared quite larger than I’d been expecting for something related to the Amulet of Kings. And that was…. fitting, if she was going with this where I thought she was. “Because as you all know. The Divines are massive beings… a single drop of blood is larger by sheer comparison to our own blood droplets.” And then she gripped the top of the cloth. “I give you… the base stone that the Amulet of Kings was cleaved from. I give you….” She pulled the cloth away, revealing a massive ruby gemstone about the size of a man’s head. “The Ruby Diamond, Chim-el Adabal!”

“You’ve gotta be KIDDING ME!!!” The unshaven man from before let out a cry of surprise, anguish, and… was that a hint of approval in his voice?

“Ah, Jakarn,” The Lady Gautier smiled at the Breton man. “It’s nice to see you again. I’m glad you could make it on such short notice.”

The man, Jakarn, just looked at the girl with a gabsmocked expression as he futilely raised and lowered his right hand in an attempt to find the right words to say.

Honestly? I was more transfixed by the sheer size of the giant stone in the glass case. That… how exactly does a rock the size of someone’s head count as a “Fragment” of the Amulet of Kings??

 

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Vestige of Void: LEVEL 3

LEVEL 3: The Ruby Song.


The Daggerfall Refuge was a large, underground sewer system, essentially, re-purposed for the sole purpose of promoting and allowing the ease of illegal activities. Had this been back home in Tristain, Louise would most likely have reported it to the Princess Henrietta, most certainly the Crowned Queen by now. But as this was not home, and Lousie had no idea about her future…

‘It’s actually kind of nice here,’ Louise thought as she looked up at the massive, sprawling, wooden structure in the center of the place. Karlieah shook her out of her thoughts, then, and dragged her over to a small stall set up in the side of the place.

“No, No, I Don’t BUY stolen Goods! Nooo…!” The grey haired, redguard woman behind the stall looked serious for a moment, and then laughed. “Oh Just kidding you! Of course I do!”

“Hey there, Ashiyana,” Karlieah smirked as she and the older woman bumped fists, and then did some sort of secret handshake motion that went by too fast for Louise to catch. “I got somethin’ for ya to launder, maybeh.”

“Anything for you, Karly,” Ashiyana, the red guard fence, smiled. “Isn’t it just amazing what falls off the backs of wagons?”

“In this case, not really,” And then Karlieah pulled out the giant ruby, and placed it firmly on the counter, causing Ashiyana to take in a sharp breath in surprise.

“Where did you get this?” The woman asked.

“I traded a guy for this,” Karlieah answered. “‘E stole it frum a guy who stole it frum a guy who prob’ly, most likely, stole it frum yet anotha’ guy.”

“That’s almost certainly the case,” Ashiyana said in a low whisper as she gently picked up the massive Ruby and turned it over in her hands. “Does… As far as you’re aware, does it have a name?”

“As far as Jakarn told me? Nope.” Karlieah shook her head.

“Jakarn… Hah!” Ashiyana laughed. “I should’ve known his luck would have uncovered something like this eventually.”

“Um,” Louise spoke up. “You look like you’ve seen it before.”

“Yeah, wot is it that’s got you so willyspooked?” Karlieah asked.

“I need to verify it first, but… if I’m right…” Ashiyana looked her Bosmeri friend in the eye and said, very seriously, “this rock is priceless.”

“Priceless?” Karlieah raised an eyebrow. “That’s impossible. No way a rock like that isn’t worth somethin’.”

“‘Priceless’ as in ‘worth more than you can imagine,’ right?” Louise asked.

“Exactly that,” Ashiyana nodded as she went into the back of her shop with the gem stone, and then planted it firmly in the center of some large magickal apparatus.

“Woah woah woah,” Karlieah’s eyes widened. “Wot are you doin’ with dat enchanters station, Ashy?!”

“Verifying it,” Ashiyana said as she calibrated the enchanting station, and then ran a simple pulse of magicka through the Ruby.

Even as far away from the encounter as Louise was- or maybe because of her unique, soul-less status- she could feel the raw magic resonace that occurred a moment later. Karlieah as well reacted, so it was more than likely the first one rather than the second.

“By Yi…!” Karlieah didn’t even finish her exclamation, for a moment later, the giant ruby began to glow a warm, welcoming red.

“Oh by Oblivion and the Divines…!” Ashiyana exhaled in awe. “Karlieah, I don’t know how you managed it. But damn if you didn’t pull off the impossible.”

“What is it?” Louise asked. “What’s the giant ruby supposed to be?”

“It’s not a Ruby,” Ashiyana corrected immediately. “Not exactly, anyways… It’s… It’s a Soul Gem.”

“What?” Karlieah was so surprised her exclamation came in the proper spelling. “Ye’re tellin’ me that thing’s a Soul Gem?”

“Not just any Soul Gem either,” Ashiyana beckoned the two to come behind the counder. “Come look at this.”

Louise and Karlieah went into the back of the stall, and looked over the still glowing Ruby colored Soul Gem. Up close and personal, they could see the things that had been removed long ago by normal polishing processes: Cut lines. Four of them, to be exact, each intersecting at four precise points to form the shape of a fist-sized diamond on the flat top of the surface of the giant ruby.

“Ladies,” Ashiyana breathed out, “what you’re looking at here is the largest surviving chunk of the Chim-el Adabal.”

“No way… yer kiddin’ me…!” Karlieah stared at the rock.

“Um… what is the Chimal Adbal?” Louise flinched at her mis-pronounciation.

“Sorry, I forget some people don’t know the legends,” Ashiyana replied. “Chim-el Adabal… according to legend, a drop of blood fell from the Heart of Lorkhan, and landed in an Aylied well. The magicka within fused into that blood and formed a crystal. The Aylieds then carved out a small piece of that rock. And though that small piece was large on its own, it was small compared to what remained unused.” Ashiyana traced her fingers along that diamond shape. “Whether they intended to make more, and never had the time; or they simply only wanted to make a wearable sized piece… Regardless, it was fastened into an Amulet when Akatosh, or Shezarr in some stories, made a covenant with Alessia and her descendants. That Amulet became known as…”

“The Amulet of Kings,” Karlieah finished with a gulp. “The key to the Ruby Throne.”

“And you’re… sure this rock is where the amulet came from?” Louise asked, not quite understanding the importance of the giant ruby other than it was the key to the empire.

“I worked in Cyrodil for a time,” Ashiyana informed the girl. “Back before all this war nonsense started up and Emperor Varen Aquilarios disappeared. ” She took a still breath. “They recovered what was thought to be the Amulet, but they wanted to make sure it was the real thing. I knew some verrification rituals, and so they came to me for help with confirming it. I just used the same spells I did then on this thing…” She nodded at the Giant Ruby. “The glow’s lasted just as long, if not longer due to it’s size. Trust me when I tell you, this is the real thing.”

“Y’know, you never told me why you left Cyrodil,” Karlieah frowned. “This why?”

“After Emperor Varen disappeared, the Tharns came after me in an attempt to silence me from telling anyone what had happened.” Ashiyana shook her head and muttered, “I faked my death, went underground. I thought I’d escaped this Gemstone’s curse.”

“‘Parently not,” Karlieah frowned as she observed the large gemstone. “So wot do we do with it?”

“That, I’m afraid,” Ashiyana said as she began to remove the Giant Ruby from the enchanting station, “is something you’ll have to decide on your own. But I can tell you your options.” The stone began to stop glowing once it was removed, and handed back to Karlieah. “There’s the obvious option: Ditch it. Let fate carry it on the winds. Don’t let anyone know what the hell it is.”

“Jakarn’d be pissed off if I did that,” Karlieah replied.

“Less obvious option,” Ashiyana continued, crossing her arms. “Keep it. Since it seems fate went to all the trouble to get this thing to you, there might be a reason for it. I’m not a Moth Priest, so I wouldn’t know what the Elder Scrolls say on it. If you want to risk heading to Cyrodil and stealing one of the Alliance Scrolls to get it read? Be my guest. I wouldn’t recommend it, though.”

“Any other options?” Louise asked.

“Well, there’s the really dumb and stupid option,” Ashiyana gave a slight smirk. “You could prarade the thing around and tell people what it really is. Say you recovered it from an ancient ruin. Although, I’d recommend starting that sort of thing further north, like Camlorn. You’re bound to draw the Tharn’s eye on you if you do something like that.”

Karlieah laughed. “Oh, but if we did that, I could giv’ tha Tharns’ somefin for yer troubles, Ashy.”

“I was considering that,” Ashiyana nodded slightly. “And I’ll admit the prospects of seeing the Tharns chase after the thing the Amulet of Kings was carved from is amusing.” She grew serious. “But there’s no telling what would happen if they got their hands on it.”

“Tell y’u wot, Ashy,” Karlieah smiled as she put the stone into her carrying bag. “Whatever we decide, I’ll write ya, or come for a visit.”

“If you go with the stupid option, don’t do either,” Ashiyana shook her head. “I’ll hear about it soon enough and I’ll be going to ground… er, even further to ground than I already am.”


While they were down in the Fugitive Refuge, Karlieah bought Louise a new set of armor and a new magi-staff. “Because the old ones were startin’ to smell, and dat staff really doesn’t look like it’s gonna cut it much longer,” Karlieah insisted.

That done, and changed into new clothes, they found a small shop selling food, and they settled down to eat a moderately on-time breakfast.

“So, it’s yer stone, wot do you want to do wit’ it?” Karlieah asked.

Louise frowned. “You really don’t have to pay me with it for the armor,” She said. “The new clothes were enough.”

“Yeah, but, wit’ a rock like that, you could buy your way into the nobility!” Karlieah said. “Chim-el Adabal or not, this thing’s worth a fortune!”

Louise mused on that thought. While it was tempting to regain her noble status in a new world… ‘Since magic is a much more common thing in this world, it just doesn’t feel the same,’ Louise frowned at that thought. ‘Feel the Same? Since when did I care about that?’ Back home when at the Academy, she would have done anything to keep her Noble status, lack of magic be damned!

… So why did she feel so ‘meh’ on the idea?

It wasn’t like she couldn’t be a noble again? Wasn’t one of the oldest tricks in the book to marry a rich person? …But what if you were *already* a rich person…?

“Hey, Karlieah?” Louise asked.

“Yah?”

“Are there any famous adventurers who go out and collect rare and valuable artifacts?” Louise asked.

“Quite a few, yah,” Karlieah nodded. “Why?”

“Any of them close to us- relatively speaking?” Louise asked.

“You mean geomaphic’ly?” Karlieah mused for a few moments. “Yeah, I can think o’ one. Ol’ Lady Clarisse Laurent. She’s quite famous among the Covenant for treasur’ huntin’ and digging up lost relics. Last I heard she was working up north near tha’ boarder, lookin’ for som’ jewled crown.” She frowned, “Why, you got somfin’ planned?”

“Well, if we show up out of nowhere with a giant magic rock that’s part of the Amulet of Kings,” Louise rationed. “Surely there’s going to be Major shockwaves, right?”

“Well, that’s a given, ya.” Karlieah nodded.

“People might question our authenticity…” Louise thought on it for a moment. “Why don’t we become adventurers like her first? Maybe build up our reputation a bit more quickly by tagging along with this ‘Laureant’ person.”

“Only problem wit’ that is that Lady Laurent is notorious in tha’ underground for stealin’ other people’s work out from under their noses,” Karlieah replied, then, her eyes widened. “Ohhh! I see wot ye’re plannin.”

Louise nodded. “We just need to tag on her coat tails long enough to get her to trust us. To… “Train” us, as it were. Then… we go off on some unknown adventure, find an Alyied ruin- since that’s where this stone came from, right?” Karlieah nodded in confirmation. “And then we claim that we found the stone there IN the Ruin! Bring it back! Parade it around! Make it the biggest discovery of the century!”

“I like this plan, Cheffy,” Karlieah smiled. “I like it alot!” She leaned forwards, “So, How do we begin?”

“Well, obviously, we need to start making a name for ourselves,” Louise nodded. “Simple adventuring and the like!” That was what her Mother had done, hadn’t it? Gone out and made a name for the Heavy Wind, and rose the ranks to become one of the most powerful Square ranked Wind Mage in all of modern history! “We’re going to need to go up north to meet This Lady Lauren anyways, right? So, we go north, do some odd jobs, and get build a name up.”

“We cozy on up to the nobility proper like, right?” Karlieah added on, “Maybe get them interested in potentially knightin’ us to begin with for some greater deed… and then BAM! Sudden fame and fortune with the discovery of the Stone, and then we’re totally legitimately royals!”

“Shall we start here, or Camlorn?” Louise asked.

“Here, definitely,” Karlieah glanced around conspiratorial like, and then stage-whispered, “I heard through the grapevine that there’s been a few murders of the homeless. Town Guards are sayin it’s wolves.”

“Wolves?” Louise’s disbelief was clearly evident in her voice. Wolves? “In the city?”

“Hey, i’s just wot I’ve heard,” Karlieah rolled her eyes. “True or not, what better place to start cozyin’ up to the royals than by solvin’ a murder or six?”

Louise thought it over, and conceded that it was a decent enough point. After all, how hard could it be to find one little lost wolf in the city streets?


Your name is just “Louise” at the moment, and you are seriously reconsidering the descriptor “Little.”

>LEVEL UP!

 

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Vestige of Void – Level 2

LEVEL 2: The Boat’s Song.


You feel the draw of the knife across the surface of your skin- going from your right shoulder towards your heart- skipping a faint breath as if a reprieve just before drawing a sharp cut through the flesh.

The blond hair of your sibling seems to flow in a wind you cannot feel. Her eyes shimmer behind her glasses- no, wait. Where are her glasses? Why are they missing?- with a dedication that you do not understand.

“O..Onee…” You try to ask her why. Why is she doing this.

She seems to get the point regardless- “You really don’t know what you hold inside you, do you, Louise?” She presses the tip of the dagger into that deep cut over her heart, forcing blood to rise up. “Though my love may be a monster… he is one with heart. He and I made a deal. In exchange for your soul, he will cure our sister forever.”

Cattleya? Your eyes widen. She would sacrifice you for Cattleya??

“JUST KIDDING!!!” And then your sister’s face turns into that of a demon’s, and she turns the knive around before plunging it at an angle to the cut over your heart.


Your name is Louise, and you awaken in the middle of the night from your nightmare, with a scream you’ve only just started to figure out how to curtail in the presence of others.

You know it to be a true nightmare this time as… As your sister never said any of that other stuff the first time. What you thought was a dream the first time… no, that was reality. She never said anything about Cattleya. Nothing about a deal. She just took the knife and stabbed it deep with a ritualistic precision.

The first night in Tamriel, you had slept peacefully; mainly due to the sheer amount of ‘what the hell is going on’ going through your head and forcing the nightmares away. Stuck on a boat for three days, however…? The nightmares returned in full force. You had started to recognize them now. Each time, you’d ask Eleanore “Why?” and she would give a different answer. This was just the most heart wrenching of them all for its plausibility.

If that had truly been Eleanore’s motivation, she should have said so to begin with…. A Zero like yourself would have gladly given your soul in exchange for curing your other sister’s incurable illness.

In the hold of the Spearhead, you, and most others, share a living space. It’s divided normally between men and women- and there’s a full body mirror on the women’s side. You get up from bed and, removing your shirt as you walk, head to the mirror to look at the lines engraved across your chest. It’s always the same in your dream, as it was in reality. The blade drawing across your chest from the right shoulder- skipping a few inches before resuming over the heart on that same angle. And there, at a cross angle, is the killing blow. The skin you see is already scarred, and healed over. How long were you in that prison for before you ‘woke up’?

Hesitantly, you reach for the longest of the cuts, and touch it. No sensation at all comes from the wound- as wounds should do when healed.

The X over your heart, however, hurts in a different way. It hurts not with that physical touch, but in the sheer memory of that first shallow cut, followed immediately by a sharp stab. It’s a sensation that haunts even after waking up.

Shallowly, there’s a part of your old pride that laments that you’ll never get married now. What kind of a man would want a girl whose skin had been marred in such an obvious way? Certainly not Wardes.

…Wardes. Viscount Jean-Jacques Francis de Wardes. Your… Actually. You’re beginning to come to the realization that both of you might be better off with you gone. Although, despite that you do wonder what he’s doing now that you’re…. well, if Eleanore is able to travel between your world and That Place, she very well might have proclaimed that your failed summoning killed you outright. It actually did, come to think of it.

You’ve just… come back from the dead like some kind of–

You change into the mages robe someone had loaned you, and head out onto the deck to attempt to get some willpower exercises in. Mainly, you just fire off the same ice blasts off of the deck out into the ocean until you feel exhausted, and then wait for your energies to recover.

You keep this up until the sun begins to rise. It’s then that Karlieah comes out onto deck to work on her own early morning practices.
Silently, you regard each other with a nod, and then return to practice.

One thing that you’ve had to give up rather quickly in this new world is any preconcieved notions you had towards the evilness of Elves. Back during the escape from Coldharbour? You understood on some level that everyone was just like you, elves alike. You also instinctually recognized that… the Elves you now share a world with are nothing like the Elves from your previous world. You wonder how the Elves of your world would deal to having their souls stolen by a Demon Prince from Another World?

As you contemplate this, you let out a mild hum and take aim at a particularly noisy sea-bird that had landed on one of the ship’s masts a moment ago.

“Wot?” Karlieah turns to look at your break of silence, just in time to watch you expertly fling a chunk of ice at the bird- freezing it solid and knocking it to the deck of the ship. “Wheeew. Nice catch there, Cheffy!” Ah- the first nickname you’ve gained that you actually sort of like? It’s better than “Zero” at any rate. Your provisioning skills may still be novice level, but apparently you’re cooking better than the last chef the ship had. (Nobody mentions what happened to him, and you don’t ask.)

“Thanks.” You give the Bosmer Nightblade a nod, and then go to pick up the frozen avian corpse to prepare it for breakfast. (Might as well make use of the thing, after all.)

As you walk towards the kitchen, you look over your shoulder and watch as Karlieah leaps into a cloud of darkness, and then reappears and disappears several more times- climbing up the masts of the ship until she’s reached the Crow’s nest.

Nightblades- as you’ve quickly come to learn- are typically rougues of an Assassin’s nature. And although Karlieah insists she’s more of a thief than an Assassin, there is no doubt in your mind that the quick application of such a teleport spell was not designed first and foremost for ambushing an opponent.

It was even there in the spell name- “Veiled Ambush.”

And while the idea of being a teleporting assassin once appealed to some childish part of your stolen soul, you can’t go back now. Your first attempts at magic in this world have either locked your magickal affinities into a certain path, or unlocked your former elemental affinity that once was hidden away and is now free to manifest as what it was always meant to be.

You are a Sorcerer, one who throws lightning and, add insult to injury, can summon daedric familiars at will.

You doubt you will ever be using that spell at all- not after your last horrific summoning.

Although, you muse as you throw the frozen bird into a pot of water to thaw it out, it would make sense if that was why your first summoning ritual had opened a portal to your doom in the first place– your destined familiar had been in that realm? Wouldn’t Kirchie get a laugh out of that.

You, a Zero, summoning a Demon.

It’d…. it’d…

You angrily throw a lid onto the pot and set a fire to boil the water.

You don’t want to even think about what could possibly have happened back home if you’d somehow managed to avoid being pulled through to another world.


Betnik was a contested island, at one point being fought over by Bretons and Orcs alike. Presently, Orcs ruled it, and they were hesitant about joining the Daggerfall Covenant, which was ruled by the three kings of its constituent races: Orcs, Bretons, and Redguards.  The Covenant, as you would learn during your three days at sea, was one of three global Alliances that fought for the control over the remains of the Empire.

The Ebonhart Pact, home to Nords (Which apparently you looked like), Dunmer (the Dark Elves) and Argonians. The Dunmer apparently were once known as Chimer, and three of their kind had ascended to become the God-like Tribunal that now ruled them. Anyone who could figure that sort of trick out earned a sour mark in your book, but as the Dunmer looked nothing like the Elves from your world, you weren’t really going to hold it against them, especially as it had apparently been done to end a war.

The Aldmeri Dominion,  meanwhile, was home to Khajiit, Bosmer (Wood Elves), and Altmer (High Elves). While your distrust of Elves had, for the most part, disapated, there was still just enough of a similarity between them to make you weary of the Altmer. According to Neramo, when last he’d been to a town called Skywatch, there had been a group of extremists who did not like the idea of the Dominion even existing, and wanted to isolate the entirity of the Summerset Isles. If a majority of Altmer were for the Dominion, Louise supposed that the Extremists were probably the ones closest to the Elves from her world, and thus, the ones most deserving of that particular brand of hatred.

Learning all of this, of course, had put a sour taste in your mouth. Back home, the country Albion had faced a civil war, and been taken over by an extremist group called Reconquista. Before you had performed the Familiar summoning ritual, rumors had been spreading that Queen Henrietta would have to marry the King of Germania to gain protection from Albion should Reconquista decide to attack the mainland.

“Yeah, I know that look,” Neramo had shook his head upon seeing it. “There are damned idiots everywhere you look, sometimes. I may not believe Ayrenn has the right mindset to rule the Empire, but damn if forming an alliance isn’t a good idea period. Anyone who rejects that concept has to be braindead and a walking zombie.”

Ah, yes, and that brings you to the final tidbit you learned during your voyage. Necromancy was very much a thing in Tamriel- the continent- and Nirn- the world. It was something of a trade mark of the “Worm Cult”- a name that had made Karlieah’s eyes grow distant before she shook it off- and the spells needed to use it were only- at present- learnable if you were a part of that cult.
Unfortunately, it would turn out, part of that cult was here on Betnik, stirring up trouble, seeking some kind of ancient weapon made by…. You aren’t even sure how to pronounce the name properly, seeing as you’ve only heard it pronounced by Karlieah.

“Ahyleyids,” She’d say with a shake of her head. “They call ’em ‘wild elves’ but I tell ya wot, they should be called ‘insane elves’ for all tha’ crazy stuff they’ve pulled in history.”

“Like what?” You asked.

“Well, for starterz,” Karlieah would say, “tha’ very weapon here on Betnik. I don’t even know where ta begin wit’ somethin’ like that.”
A weapon like that, although Karlieah refused to say what it did, had to be banished to the void for the rest of time. A decision that had made the crew very divided on matters. Lambur supported destroying the weapon entirely, while Kaleen wanted to use it to protect the Covenant from enemies. Verbal sparring had nearly broken into a physical fight if Karlieah hadn’t knocked the thing out of their dimension in the attempt to destroy it.

“I wanted it outa my sight, so I forced it ba’k through the hole in space it came from,” Karlieah said. “Not sure it was tha right thing or not, but I did it.”

“I’m not sure if banishing it was the right choice or not,” You say that because nobody will tell you what the Void-damned thing even did, “but sometimes, you have to make difficult choices and other people won’t be happy about it.”

Decisions like kicking a Zero out of school for failing to summon a Familiar. That had been the consequence looming over your head if you’d failed the summoning ritual… and hey, what happened? You were expelled in the most painful of ways.


In the end, the Spearhead headed to Daggerfall, in the country of Glenumbra, a single day’s journey as opposed to the previous three- the trip was disastrously tormenting, with that former male/female division of the ship’s quarters practically rearranged to fit the two different sides of the debate of if Karlieah did the right thing in getting rid of the weapon.

Somehow, you came to naturally reside in the side that believed in getting rid of it, which included Jakarn of all people.

“Oh, it was definitely the right move,” He nodded. “Nobody with their head screwed on straight would want a weapon with that much power to even possibly fall into the wrong hands.” he added, “Sure, what if it DOES get put into the right hands and is used for good, but what’s to stop someone like the Worm Cult from stealing it from us and using it against us? No way we could take that risk.”


The Spearhead arrived just shy of sunrise the following day, with Captain Kaleen half-heartedly declaring, “Welcome to Glenumbra, folks.”

Once you docked, you packed up what little belongings you had, and left the Spearhead’s deck, barely hearing the Captain tell the ‘traitors’ to “Get off my ship.”

“Hey, follow me, ya?” Karlieah motioned for you to follow her up the docks into the town of Daggerfall. “So, since tha last job didn’t go so well, and Khalean took my cut of tha previous job back- Earned It, Ah suppose- you might be wonderin’ how I’m gonna pay you for that Daedra Armor.”

“A little, yes,” you reply.

“Then look no further than somefin I bartered with Jakarn for,” And then Karlieah shows you a large ruby gemstone about the size of a person’s head. “This was tha’ thing I had to help him steal back from goblins in order to get him to work with us on the Bhosek job.”

“It’s very pretty,” you say sincerely.

“Well, unfortunately, Daggerfall doesn’t officially have a jeweler that deals with gemstones this large,” Karlieah smirks faintly. “So I’m going to see someone who does. I’ve dealt wit’em befor’. Done a few odd jobs h’re and th’re. Well payin’ jobs, at that, if you’re short on cash. I’d recommend it, dependin’ on how much this stone’s actually worth.”

“A job like that…” You pause as you are lead into the city, and up several sets of winding stairs, and many guards. “It’s not…” You eye a guard who seems too busy inspecting a large food crate. “Illegal, is it?”

“Haha- that depends on the job at any given time,” Karlieah smiles. “Now, keep in mind, I’m showin’ you this place outa tha kindness o’my heart. If I find out you ratted on the guards…” She then grows serious. “Arrow. Head. Back side. Need I repeat myself?”

You nod enthusiastically in agreement.

“Good, then,” And then Karlieah stops in front of a large grate painted with a peculiar symbol. “Welcome to th’ Daggerfall Underground, Cheffy.”

>LEVEL UP!

 

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