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ESO Story Competition

Let's Decide This

Gillard the Poxed swaggered up to the table tucked in at the foot of the cliff. He was ready for this, so ready. He swiped at his dripping nose then his hand dropped down to rest ever so casually on the hilt of the axe at his side. Gillard nodded his greeting at the other, and slipped down into his seat.

"So," the Brenton said. "You here to join the Debaucherous Tea Party too?" He sniffed, then hawked and spat off to the side.

A look of disdain crossed the face of the Altmer across from him, and she pointedly looked away. Gillard pulled out a large checked square and blew his nose into it lustily. The Altmer huffed and turned back to him.

"Look," she said. "They're only after one new recruit, and you're obviously not up to their standards, so why don't you take yourself and that wood axe of yours and go home to your sick bed. The next member of the Debaucherous Tea Party will be Ali'et the Golden, and no-one else."

Gillard pushed himself back on the chair and propped his feet up on the table, one thumping great boot after the other, spraying muck over the blocks of cheese so thoughtfully provided.

"Oh yeah?" he said. "Well, let's just let them decide". The axe thumped up on top of the table as well, scattering plates and goblets.

Ali'et reached out a long fingered hand and plucked a single purple grape from the bunch on the silver plate, and held it poised between thumb and finger in front of her sky-blue eye. Then a white frosting grew from the bottom of the globe, eating up the sides, till the rich purple was a pale lavendar. Then, as Ali'et squeezed, it shattered.

"Your head," she said, and nothing else, with a cool smile creeping across her mouth.

Gillard surged up and out of his chair, kicking it out of the way behind him.

"You want to decide this now?" he bellowed, chin thrust forward belligerently, axe swinging upwards. "I'm ready."

But he wasn't ready, not really. And neither was Ali'et.

Arrows descended on them from above, thudding down and ripping through flesh. Gilliard staggered backwards, falling over the chair he'd kicked aside earlier. Ali'et sat slumped where she sat, an arrow standing jauntily from temple, the sky blue eyes glazing over with frost.

The last thing Gillard saw where the pair of arrows aimed for his own eyes. Then he closed them.
[center]---[/center]The Dunmer slid down the cliff behind the dead pair, pushing the bow up and onto her back as she reached the ground. She picked up the axe and slung it beside her hip.

"So foolish," she said. "Only we decide who we recruit to the Debaucherous Tea Party, no one else. And our main requirement is that we get along with each other. And you failed that first very important test." And she left them where they lay.

Tales of the Dead - Contest Entry Thread - Page 7
Tirdas, 25th of Morning Star The raids were going well.
Oblivion Dot Com

Cyrodil 10th Era.......

Rain lashed the thick, rough surface of the window pane as Quiixto sat in the darkness, his face illuminated by the sprawling lines of code that slowed within the borders of his screen. He tapped softly at the illuminated keys of his laptop and used the tracking pad to traverse the text in quick, rodent-like movements. Behind him on the bed, the tousled hair of a blonde Nord woman caressed the slightly grimy fabric of the pillowcases. Quii stopped for a second and stretched languidly, a small click sounded from his neck and his shadowed eyes took in the information presented before him. The Nordic woman stretched, seemingly in response to his own movements, the thin fabric of one of his t-shirts sheathed the top half of a statuesque frame as she moved beneath the sheets.

“Come back to bed won’t you love?” She murmured in her thick accent, the words uttered in that rhythmic lilting tone that Nords had.

“Soon” he promised, and then the Imperial hacker turned back to his work.

Removing his attention from the physical distraction behind him, the hacker clicked again and waited patiently as the internal processors of the machine hummed quietly through their sub-routines. After what seemed an eternity, a small chime sounded and the Imperial knew that he had been successful. The processors seemed to whine more quickly in anticipation and suddenly a small icon indicated that the data transfer had commenced. The Orsimer who had paid for this contract was going to be more than pleased with Quii’s work this evening. Finishing up and with the information safely stored on a thumb drive, the Imperial yanked it from the USB slot and stored it in a secretive pocket of his knapsack. Crawling back into the bed, his lips found hers in the dark.

Dawn transformed the litter strewn alleys of the waterfront district of the Imperial City into a place of wonder. The otherwise grimy facades of derelict buildings were imbued in the soft glow of Tamriel’s sun and as Quii exited the dirty tenement that he had called home for the past few months, he whistled under his breath. The information he had collected last night was going to keep him well stocked in Seps until at least the middle of next year. Maybe he could even get away to the Illiac Bay, leave all of this behind. But he had to deliver it first. The address he had been given for the drop was The R@ncid Kh@jiit, a bar that was known more for unexplained disappearances than it was for its band lineup. Lighting a Skooma joint to take the edge off, Quiixto thrust his fingerless gloved hands deep into the pockets of his black duster and drew a deep breath, then exhaled it in a thick cloud of blue smoke. The sun picked out the details of the dull green eye that had been stitched inelegantly onto its back as he disappeared around a corner, not noticing the Redguard woman who tailed him.

Entering the Arena district, Quii paused for a second and glanced back over his shoulder, he may not have known about his shy companion when he had first left his current residence, but he certainly did now. He ducked into an alley and stood patiently by a down pipe. A soft drip dampened the shoulder of his coat as he held his breath in anticipation. The Redguard woman rounded the corner hurriedly, her first mistake, and then fumbled for a pistol when she saw that he waited for her, her second. The Imperial’s hand lashed out and grabbed her wrist. Many often made the mistake that the slight hacker would lack the physical aptitude to deal with difficult situations due to his profession, but that would be their folly. An iron grip restrained her and as she lashed out with her other hand he spat a still lit cigarette into her face and then followed through with a head-butt that connected with her cheek. She gasped and dropped the pistol.

“Who are you?” Quii breathed quickly into her face.

She remained silent and continued her futile efforts to regain her freedom “Last chance darling……who?”

She hissed and muttered something.

“I didn’t catch that” His tone darkened with implied threat.

“I said….Mink” She thrashed again.

“Alright Mink, now that we have that established… know what the next question will be, don’t you?” He leaned in again, their breaths mingling in the close proximity.

“The information” She gasped “You know….just, the information. I was paid to steal it from you” She closed her eyes, as if the revelation had caused her some pain.

“And was the plan to kill me as well?” The Imperial’s eyes roved over her face, waiting for an answer that he hoped wouldn’t come.

“Yes” came the halting reply, almost as if she was embarrassed. He looked away and cursed silently, spitting in disgust.

“Who hired you?” He released her hands and stepped back, for a moment Quii thought that Mink would take the opportunity to run, but she surprised him by slumping back against the crumbling brick.

“Sharg-Mar” she looked up at him, her dark features looked bruised and full of resignation “Red Sharg-Mar”

Quii turned away from his captive and launched a kick at a can. It spun away up the alley, sounding the Imperial’s anger. Red Sharg-Mar, the same Orsimer who had was paying him for the information in the first place. What had he gotten himself into?

Mink walked under the intermittent buzz of the fluorescent light and halted, she looked back at Quii and gestured for him to stop. The Redguard was street savvy, that was for certain. Twice now she had evaded patrols that were clearly tasked with the same job as what she had. Taking out Quii and relieving him of the thumb drive. Quii pressed himself into the shadows as yet another cluster of thugs ambled past. Looking, but without much enthusiasm. Sharg-Mar must not have been paying them that much if they were doing their jobs so poorly. Once the armed hunters had passed, the Redguard street-girl tugged at the sleeve of Quii’s duster and gestured for him to move forward.

“He’ll kill you even if you do get to him, you must realize this?” the inflections of her words carried the intonations of someone that had grown up in Dragonstar, or what was left of it after half the city was demolished in an airstrike.

“leave that for me to worry about” using the palm of his hand, he pushed the girl ahead of him and around the corner.

The usual clientele leaned against the bar of the down stairs area as the Imperial and the Redguard pushed their way into the confines of the R@ncid Kh@jiit. The bar had operated under various guises for many eras and the weathered surface of the serving area could probably attest to a tale or two. Arrows to the knee not withstanding Quii had spent a few evening in rooms just like this one spinning stories about skimming the surface of Oblivion in search of a hidden cache of loot just waiting to be hacked and transferred into his account. All false of course. The real value in Oblivion couldn’t be accessed without the most refined skill sets. All of the rest of it was merely dross, wealth horded by jaded Dremora Kynreeve who pushed funds from their intended destination into holding accounts in a spiteful grab for power through depletion of the wealth of higher ranking Kynmarcher.

At Quii’s entrance, a tension presented itself that wound itself up like a broken clock with each passing second. Various denizens of Tamriel cast furtive glances his way and whispers fell in a susurration of expectation. This could be his last day on Nirn for all he knew, but never-the-less, he had to know why. What was the point of the ambush that had been plotted against him. Cyrodil politics was labrynthian at the best of times, however, there was no reason for this. He was a low level player. He paused and considered if perhaps this was not the best of plans. He felt as if he was being Fus Ro Dah’d, to use the old language, with no alternative course of action in sight.

The crowd parted as he walked, one hand resting lightly against Mink’s back. He could feel the quickened throb of her heart through the thinning fabric of her rough spun shirt. She knew that potentially, this could end her existence as well. Up the stairs to the office they walked and now the silence in the bar was audible, a keening whine of held breaths as each footfall left a creak in its wake. Quii, stepped past Mink and applied pressure to the plain wooden door at the very crest of the stairs. His breath caught in his throat as he pushed it inwards.

“Quiixto old boy, whatever took you so long?” Sharg-Mar smirked as he looked upon the arrival of his new guests. He then turned his head to one side “They’re here”

A shabby curtain parted and through the door stepped an elegantly clad foot.

“Excellent…..right on time” uttered the Dremora Valkynaz.

Onyx'sis Ben Raffar the Younger

Tales of The Debaucherous Tea Party

Vol. 1

Hailing as most Redguards do, from Hammerfell, Onyx'sis Ben Raffar was originally slated to study under the tutelage of the fiercely independent and traditionalist political sect known as the Crowns in the city state of Dragonstar. Young Onyx was not renowned for his willingness to do anything that his father requested of him, with his mother acting mainly as the referee between their heated ”debates” on the direction the boy’s life should take. Inquisitive as a boy, he railed against the isolationist view-points put forward by the tenets of the Crown’s texts. Fond of exploration, a natural Redguard Trait, it was on one of his many excursions into the interior of Dragonstar that he decided to venture into the Eastern section of the split walled city. As he made his way through the crowds of people he spied the weathered and sun-beaten sign that represented The Mages Guild, an ever watching eye, painted in shapes of mysticism. Entering into the interior of the guild he passed through heavy dust motes that floated languidly on the air, hunched scholars of the magical arts looked up at his passing and either sneered or gave him expressions of curiosity, usually reserved for the examination of scrolls. A deep and sonorous voice requested the purpose of his presence. Without any real reason, Onyx stumbled through his explanation and thus opened the fork in the cracked road upon which his life would travel. The usual Redguard reliance is on martial skills as the primary method of defense and offense. Onyx tempered this knowledge of the various methods of dispatching one’s enemies with a length of steel in the study of the magical arts. This was done with with a deep intensity, he was dedicated to proving himself to his Masters at the Mage’s Guild and so his studies began in earnest, consuming more of his time. He would sneak out from his home and time and again return to The Mage’s Guild, listening to lectures, studying scrolls, reading books and strengthening his knowledge.

Aye, it was his studies and his over confidence on their use that proved to be the catalyst for tragedy. Growing suspicious of his son’s frequent sojourns into the eastern part of the city, Onyx’s father followed his son to the Mage’s Guild. It was with horror that he witnessed his son exiting the Guild and a confrontation ensued. The argument escalated down the street and back into their home, unable to find reason with his son in words, Onyx’s father began beating his son repeatedly. There was no use for the depraved use of sorcery in his house. The young Redguard flailed under the barrage of attacks and before he could halt his actions he opened himself to the draw of the magical energies that he had barely learnt how to tap into, let alone control. Uncommon for a Redguard, Onyx was a natural magic user and the wild discharge that was unleashed wreathed he and his father both in destructive forces, Onyx witnessed in horror and through a blinding sheathe of pain as his father’s form was ripped asunder. Screaming, he forced every ounce of his being to cease the flow of magic. It took considerable time to do this and by the time it had, half of Onyx’s body lay smoking, the flesh on that side red, angry and melted. Blinking tears that brought with them intense pain, he found his eyesight marred. Reaching up, the boy’s hand met a face that was shriveled and puckered, the orb of his eye deformed. His mother came running to the door and stared horrified as the scene that greeted her. Onyx, unable to meet those tortured cries of loss, fled, limping with the pain of his injuries. With nowhere else to run to he returned to the Mage’s Guild. His masters stared silently at him with pity and ushered him in. Lying n the darkness of the Mage’s Guild, One-Eye recuperated over the next months, flicking through texts, hoping to understand the power that had removed his life as he knew it.

Dylxexes the Younger, of the First Era, stated quite clearly that an adventure can only truly begin three ways, by death, by slur or by letter. The first of these ways clearly applied to Onyx. Realising that a return to the life that he once knew was not an option, the young man, Onyx, now Onyx One-Eye, left the sanctuary of The Mage’s Guild on the path of self imposed exile, which in turn led to adventure. He felt hollowed by the outcome of his actions. He had slain his father, a stern but caring man. One who has tried his best to educate his son in the ways of his people and had been murdered in return. Gaining passage with a desert Caravan traversing the harsh wasteland of the Alik’r Desert, Onyx paid his fare by acting as a caravan guard. He could feel the seductive pull of magic with each engagement, just asking to be revealed to his enemies, to devour them. He restrained himself, not wanting to enter into a bargain with the forces until his training could match their potency. Never again would he strike through anger, instead his will resolved itself into a cold hard spike of restraint and consideration. The intent was for One-Eye to board a ship at the port of Sentinel, head into the unknown and disappear. Fate, however, had other plans for him………..

Vol. 2

Let it never be said that Onyx One-Eye was built for sea, for this would be an untruth that was larger than The Throat of The World. As he looked up his face was almost as pale as that of the Captain's, a Nord. He wiped the spittle from his chin and moved away from the tilting railing that girded the circumference of The Maiden's Hair, a vessel bound for Daggerfall. "Leki wept" he swore, voice hoarse "How far until we make landfall?" He grimaced as more of his stomach contents threatened to separate themselves from his person. "Not far now lad, however, not as close as ye'd be liking I'm imagining" Alykk Frostfoot's face struggled to hide a smirk. "Just throw me overboard and let the Dreugh have their way with me" Onyx sagged pathetically against the smooth timbers as yet more sea water swarmed over the side while the ship, tiny in comparison, surged down into a trough as it made it's heading towards Illiac Bay.

Half a day of sickness passed and the ocean eventually sembled itself into an approximation of calmness as they neared the bay's entrance. The Redguard Sorceror had moved from a prone position into something more resembling his usual likeness. Hands, one smooth, and one callused and scarred rested atop the pommels of his twin scimitars - Mercy and Grace. Their blades glimmered with the hidden enchantments that Onyx had struggled to bestow upon them after purchasing them off of the Khajiit Caravan Merchant on his way out of Hammerfell. Frostfoot came up to Onyx and placed a heavy hand on his shoulder "See? I told ye that we would make it, but what of ye lad? Where're are ye taking yerself once we dock?" A momentary furrow etched itself onto Onyx's brow as he thought of what exactly he would do next.....he had no plan beyond exile from Hammerfell. Would he head up North, into Skyrim? Word was that the tensions had finally spilled out into Cyrodil and a succession of Mercenary Emporer's had proclaimed themselves such in rapid succession. Only to be swiftly removed from power by an equally swift procession of brutal assassinations. Perhaps to sign onto one of the factions armies would be the right way? Lose himself in the endless round of battles for a throne that was earning it's name as ruby, not for any precious stones but the blood of it's short lived occupiers. Searching the Redgaurd's face, Frostfall sighed softly through his moustache bristles....."Well need to worry yourself with decisions just yet....But listen, I have this friend, neat little Argonian fellow. Last time we spoke he mentioned this guild he'd seen a flyer for in the square at Mournhold. What were they called?...."The Tea Party Debacle" or somethin'? Said they were real up and comers - if you had a mind for treasure huntin and the like" He turned away and and started heading back up to the foredeck "Last I heard he was gonna look for a woman named Myk........" His final word was drowned out by a blaring trumpeting noise.......Onyx spun around and gaped as he looked up, he barely had time to react at all before a large chain scythed through the ship and concussive air knocked him flying over the rail.......darkness descended, borne on an anchor with a gravity that dragged Onyx's consciousness down to the depths of the ocean floor with it........

The middle years of the second era of Tamriel are filled with such stories. Penned by usually anonymous contributors to the annals of Tamrielic lore. These scribes were fond of exaggeration, as is evident in the above telling. No firm records present themselves to confirm the actual existence of a Redguard Sorceror who carried himself by the name, Onyx One-Eye. In fact the very existence of a Redguard Sorceror is laughable, as this race usually settles their disputes on the end of a blade. Although it is to be remembered that this period of history was filled with contradictory accounts of what actually happened and it would be quite a Talosian task to separate fact from fiction. The one shred of documented evidence that could possibly lend credence to this tale of tragedy and high drama is confirmed by the mention of a guild called "The Debaucherous Tea Party" a motley crew of sell swords, mages and other heroic recruits led by a council of Renaissance types mentioned in more than one piece of lore.

Adamus Aurelius Historian

Vol. 3

An ache like he’d just been struck by the back end of an Orc’s warhammer presented itself to the Redguard as he blinked gritty eyes open. He spat as a sour taste coated his tongue and by rubbing one hand on the side of his mouth as he rose unsteadily, the man realized that he had been lying face down in the dirt floor of a cavern. Cool, blue light afforded little vision and blinking bought with it a succession of memories that flashed by, threatening to cause him to black out again; the plunge of a knife, a chanting sound, the deep timbre of a somber voice and then……..this. Shivering against a chill that invaded his very insides and brought with it small pinpricks of sweat that beaded and slid down his poorly concealed flesh, he pulled the rags that clothed him closer around his scant frame. As he did so his slowly adjusting eyes lingered on his scarred arm and he raised his equally scarred hand to his face and touched it, pulling his fingertip away as they met the cartography of ruin that were his features. He remembered now. His father, his departure from Sentinel, the ship and the chains, his last memory. So then by rights he should be a corpse silently guarding the ocean’s depths, not in this cavern that somehow felt wrong. Slowly taking in his surroundings he realized now from where that sense of wrongness emanated. He was not just in some cavern, this was instead designed and built as a cell. As his senses gained traction he also took in sounds that came from outside of his place of imprisonment. Shouting and the slithering danger that rung as steel met steel, the sounds of a pitched battle being waged in chambers much like his own.
Grunting from what were surely bruised ribs, Onyx went to the door of his cell and gripped his calloused hands to the bars. Peering out he licked dry lips and attempted to clear his throat as various races of Tamriel ran past. His first attempt to yell out to one of them sounded like a rooster being strangled. By the third attempt he met with more success.
“Hail! Hail!” The scaly visage of an Argonian was suddenly in front of his own, hissing breath scented by what one could safely assume was a recent meal of fish. “What is it Redguard? Keen to join this battle that now presents itself?”
No hesitation found itself in Onyx’s words “Yes, let me out and I will fight beside you. I know spells”
The Argonian slyly took in the Redguard’s scars and appeared to smirk “And know them well I can see”
“Friend, heed me well, let me out and I will also show you my skill with a length of steel” Onyx gripped the bars tighter, the dark skin of his knuckles lightening. “So be it. Give me but one moment” The snick of a lock being picked and then the bars grated free, swinging on shrieking hinges.
Onyx foot had stepped over the cell’s threshold and was preparing to follow in the Lizard’s footsteps when the voice echoed through his skull. It said but one word.

Vol. 4

Ghosts, in the humble opinion of the Redguard, were a nuisance and good for nothing but returning to whatever realm they had escaped from. He listened as the shabbily dressed man of advanced age who this phantom represented told him a tale spun of epic magnitude. Of how Onyx was the one, last hope for humanities continued existence. No doubt this crafty spirit had been a confidence man in his earthly existence. The timbre and tone with which he delivered his plight was right off the center of a stage from the heart of the empire. He had heard enough. A shove through the spirit sent him whirling into a cloud of ghostly butterflies which quickly reformed into the old man once Onyx had passed through “Enough, old man! I need only two things at this precise moment. A sword and way out of this cursed prison”
“That may prove difficult, Vestige….”
Onyx spun and jabbed and angry finger in the direction of the Ghost who had, during the course of his tale, identified himself as “The Prophet” “And you can cease calling me that!.......or when I finally do clench my hands on a sword or summon the strength to throw a spell, you and your butterflies shall have a hard time finding the will power to continue with a meaningful existence”
“But Vestige… are in Molag Baal’s plane of Oblivion…….this is…….Coldharbour”
“Yes, yes……and I’m going to be the next Emperor on The cursed Ruby Throne, so quit the amateur theatrics” Onyx spun back and continued along his chosen path.
Still, the old man had a point. There was something off about this prison. Its walls glowed with a cold blue colour that sapped the warmth from the bones. Onyx looked from left to right as he progressed down the hallway. The spirit walked after him and as Onyx watched from the corner of his eye he saw the transparent nuisance desperately grip at others who scurried past him. He saw some stop and listen intently and he snorted. Fools. He strode on and eventually the corridor opened into a large, crudely formed chamber. In the center was a collection of weapon racks. “Convenient” the thought flashed across his mind and he smirked as he approached one of the racks “But still, better convenient than inconvenient” he muttered to himself. He surveyed the weapons contained within until his gaze landed on a sight for a very sore eye. His twin scimitars, nestled in a piled of rusty battleaxes, great swords, staffs and bows. He quick disentangled them from the pile and hefted one in each hand. Yes……now this was the beginning of his escape. He felt strength imbue his arms and he gripped the carefully wrapped hilts. “Vestige! Wait!” Onyx looked over his shoulder and sighed. “What?” and then the old man finally said something that piqued Onyx’s curiosity. He gave him an exact method of escape.
Once again Onyx’s head hurt like the back end of a guar suffering under the switch of an unkind master as he regained consciousness. This time however, he knew exactly why. The backhanded blow he had received during the desperate battle that had led to his and The Prophet’s eventual escape from Coldharbour. The old man, it seemed, was more than just a two bit actor. The sights the Redguard had seen during the flight from the Deadric Prince, Molag Baal’s plane of existence were ghastly, horrifying, and spoke volumes of a real threat that threatened the very existence of life on Nirn as its occupants knew it. This was a task bigger than the abilities of one such as he. He recalled his conversation with Captain Frostfoot before the world decided to upend itself and he found himself imprisoned. This Myka woman. She would help. Must help in fact, he would see to it. His thoughts returned to the kindly Nord Captain and he felt a pang of regret. There was little hope that he would’ve survived the chaos that had engulfed the ship. However, Onyx had managed to survive so perhaps that little hope would be enough.
Opening his eyes, the Sorceror stared up through a ceiling comprised of mud. He was in a hut of some description it appeared. He propped himself up on his shoulders and groaned as a sharp ache presented itself in the form of a knot lodged firmly between his shoulder blades. He pushed himself up and off the bed and stretched then took in the room around him. He stopped when his eyes alighted on a pile of armour sitting on top of a weathered and stained chest of drawers. It was Khajiit in design. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination but at least it would keep the elements off. He looked around and saw a rough spun shirt and some cotton trousers. He leaned down, picked them up and started clothing his nakedness. Once he had donned the simple clothing, he pulled the greaves over his trousers, shrugged himself into the light and keenly made cuirass and took a few experimental swings with his arms. Perhaps he had been too hasty in his assessment of this armour’s merits. Serviceable indeed. He wrapped his feet tightly before pushing them into the boots which still left his toes exposed. He wiggled them. Everything seemed comfortable enough. Finally he picked up the tribal looking helmet and looked carefully at it before placing it over his head. It covered his face completely with the snarling visage of a Lion. In truth it was a better sight than his own face. He slid the twin scimitars into his belt loops. Finally he slipped on the fingerless gloves which completed the outfit. Now….to find this Myka woman…Alykk had mentioned Mournhold. A good a place as any to start. Walking to the door he pushed it open and stepped out and immediately started coughing. The air was thick with ash. It was then that he realized where he was and shook his head with grim amusement. Morrowind. Fate was again playing its hand with him. He shrugged in his armour and then stepped forward again. His purposeful first step was interrupted as he was nearly knocked over by a wildly galloping horse that ran past him. In its wake ran the palest Redguard that Onyx had ever seen. His mouth dropped open. “Come back you stupid bastard!” Shouted his albino countryman “Oh….. Mara;s teats! Fine, run off then!!” He stopped, threw his hands up and turned back. The Redguard took him in “What’re you looking at?!?”
Onyx’s hands were a blur as he presented the scimitars in a defensive stance “Stand back Vampire!” he shouted into the creature’s face. “Relax Hero…..I’ve already eaten today” said the creature and took a step towards Onyx.

Vol. 5

Arienne Silverfrost liked lutes. The sound of Myka playing in the courtyard below drifted up through the open window and into the chambers they shared in the city of Mournhold. A slight smile presented itself to her lips as she tapped them thoughtfully with her quill. It was true that upon arrival she had fallen into a deep despair at being exiled out to this, as good as the farthest reach of Tamriel. She may as well be perched on a rock surrounded by Horkers by the Sea of Ghosts in Skyrim. But in time she had come to appreciate the surroundings that although gentle in appearance, still contained a beating heart of politics that would make even the most hardened Empiric Diplomat blush. Here she could relax without the sharp edge of her wits fading. Could still take time to smell the flowers while working out how best to place herself and Myka into positions of power.

The smile was replaced by a slight crease of her brow as the lute jarringly ceased in a jangled mess of chords, there was some sort of commotion happening downstairs. Arienne arose and walked down the broad staircase to the tower’s foyer, passing by the portraits of long dead Dunmer politicians on the way. She made her way out the door and into the courtyard where she was greeted by a scene that made her frown deepen. A Redguard, with one of those ridiculous Khajiit lion helmets dangling from one hand, stood gesticulating wildly with his free hand. The vampire, Heracy stood between he and Myka, who held her lute loosely in the crook of one arm as she met the Redguard’s ravings with restrained frustration.

“Your pet here has dragged me halfway across bloody Stonefalls and I want to know if there was a point” the Redguard’s introduction had started heated it would seem. “I think you already know” Myka, while not angry, still possessed an edge to her voice.
“Well yes….” The Redguard’s harsh tone softened slightly “But was it worth the effort and divines-cursed amount of time it took to get me here?” “You shall have to be the judge of that, and so I fail to see how this is a problem I need to concern myself with” Myka turned and gave Arienne a look that spoke volumes of what she thought of this insolent Westerner.

Arienne, ever the diplomat, took a step forward and raised placating hands “Come…..I didn’t catch your name…..sit with us and take your refreshment. You must be tired after your arduous journey”

The Redguard gave the Nord a suspicious glare before a curtain of weariness fell heavily across his damaged face “My apologies….Your friend here lacks your subtle graces…..” to which he gestured to the vampire.

“A Dremora's horns I do” Heracy muttered as he shot a baleful glare in Onyx’s direction.

The look was met with a steely stare that looked as if it had made an appearance more than once during the journey the two had just completed “Do not forget, pup, I could roast your lily white complexion in a heartbeat if I so desired”

“Gentlemen…..please” Arienne gestured to the chair and the Redguard sat wearily “Now, let us start again, I am Arienne Silverfrost, you have of course made the acquaintance of Heracy and this is Myka Cirstea”

“Onyx’sis Ben R’affar the younger, of house Ben R’affar, exiled Sorceror of Dragonstar. You may call me Onyx” The Redguard gave a stiff nod of his head as he placed his helmet on the seat next to him.

“Sorceror!” Arienne cast her eyes quickly to Myka and then back to Onyx “A Redguard Sorceror….how….intriguing”

The Sorceror’s eyes darkened momentarily and then he appeared to regain his composure “Yes, while unusual, it is not unheard of”

“To be certain” Arienne took a seat in an intricately forged orichalum chair and Myka slowly did the same, leaning her lute against a large ceramic pot as she did. Heracy remained standing, his steady red gaze resting unflinchingly on the Redguard Sorceror. Arienne made a mental note to talk to the vampire after they had finished, lest there be trouble.

Gesturing to one of the Argonian servants who stood off to one side, she requested that coffee be served. She knew how fond Redguard’s were of the darkened brew, as was she herself, finding it invigorating to the senses. A gentle breeze played itself across the courtyard as the conversation continued.

“Now, am I right in assuming that you have been looking for us? And by us, I do of course mean The Tea Party” Arienne waited patiently for the Redguard’s measured response. After some time, Onyx obliged “Interesting name for a group of Daedra worshippers”

“Well, we could hardly call ourselves Sanguine’s Loyal Followers could we?” Arienne arched one brow ever so slightly

“No, I suppose not. Still, my vampiric friend here was quite forthcoming with the Guild’s history and while I myself am loathe to request assistance from those with any sort of involvement with Daedra, I do find myself in the positon of not having the luxury of options otherwise” The sorcerer leaned back and let his good eye remain fixed on Arienne.

“Well, our apologies for not meeting your high standards Lord Ben R’affar” Myka gently goaded the Redguard, whose gaze slowly switched from Arienne to Myka.
“My standards aren’t high Lady Myka, they’re adjusted to the company I keep as required” he sniffed.

“Arrogant” Arienne thought to herself “But that could be useful in terms of getting him to do as we require”

“So here we are, you need our help it would seem. Might we forego this little verbal dance we find ourselves in and….how do you Redguard’s put it? Put blade to foe?” Arienne waited patiently.

“Yes…..of course……” a frown worked its way onto the Redguard’s features and he rubbed a scarred hand over the bald section of his scalp, making a rasping sound as the fingers worked their way over newly grown stubble “I suppose the time has come for just such a thing. I am under no illusions that you have not heard, in recent times, the name of Molag Baal….”

Arienne looked to Myka who had the strangest smile worked onto her face…..”Yes, it would seem that fate is ensuring our plans come to fruition after all”.
The Argonian servant arrived at that point, bringing with it the heady scent of the coffee, a punctuation mark to the beginnings of the story in truth that was about to unfold.

Vol. 6

To think that war was anything other than madness would be, In Onyx one-Eye’s opinion, madness. His scimitar ground indelicately against the Khajiit’s ribcage as he pulled it free. The light in the feline’s eyes went dim as it continued the descent to its knees and then onto its face, tail giving a final indignant twitch. Onyx’s hand trembled slightly as he stood surrounded by the chaos that swirled tide like in ebbs and flows around him. His fingers felt gummy with blood and other drying fluids and as he reached those same fingers up to his face he found that it too was similarly covered. Gods, Cyrodil had seen some slaughter here today. Taking a shaky breath, he stepped over the still smoking corpse and started to move forward.

His path was interrupted by the fierce combat being waged between a Nord and an Orc. He saw the Nord being pushed backwards and then suddenly go down as his feet failed to find purchase amongst corpses and spilled intestines. The Orc howled in savage triumph and pressed the attack, One-Eye knew that the next terrified breath the Nord took would be his last before Sovngarde. He sprung nimbly forward and raised his hands, twin lashes of flame took the orc full in the side and the enraged Orsimer screamed in pain as his flesh crackled and split under the torrent of heat. The Nord’s eyes were as wide as saucers and he lay there panting in confusion until the Redguard Sorceror returned, leaning forward and grasping his wrist, pulling him bodily to his feet.

“Sh-Shor’s Bones” The Nord whispered. Onyx looked at him steadily and then continued walking with deliberation towards the besieged fort.

It looked as if the walls were down and he could see the other members of The Tea Party ahead, Morrigan, Heracy, The Sweet Knight, Ingi, Mal-sidus and Ma’ishta. He had been with the guild for some months now, adventuring and campaigning in equal measures across the North Eastern provinces of Tamriel. Some members he knew well, others he had yet to know better, but they had each proven their worth in some form or another. And here they were, all focused on taking back this edifice in the South Western part of Cyrodil. The fort, he could not recall the name, looked as if it had seen better days. The walls were scorched, stained and cracked. The Redguard could see spiraling columns of smoke and carrion birds circling overhead.

”Aye, there’s the true conquerors of this bloody fiasco” His thoughts coloured with grim shades of irony. Gallows humour, they called that back in Hammerfell.

The other guild members scurried in through the crumbled crack in the wall and he increased his pace to a jog. The fighting seemed to have moved into the interior of the fort courtyard and he could hear screams, moans, shouting, clashes of steel on steel and the frantic hissing of unleashed magical energies. It was going to be worse than Oblivion in there. He tightened the straps of his chest plate and helmet and broke into a sprint. Breaching the wall, he saw an Argonian get its spiny skull cleaved in by the large two handed sword of an Altmer. So…..his worst fears were confirmed. The Dominion was the dominant force in this altercation. This was going to be tougher than he had hoped. The Dominion had the manpower and the tactical prowess to dig in. So far The Ebonheart Pact had fought nothing but an endless round of routs and being outmanouvered at most of their battles. It was only the sheer tenacity of its soldiers that had won the day in most of these encounters. But would that be enough?

He darted quickly left to right as an arrow whipped past his face and then rolled under the sweeping arc of a Khajiit’s sword and back to his feet, spinning on his toes and chopping through the tendons and muscles of the Elswyr native’s right leg. The Khajiit mewled horrifically and Onyx planted his foot into the middle of its back and dislodged the sword before wreathing the furry head in a basket of lightning, cutting off its cries of pain. Shrugging uncomfortably, he picked up the pace and could now see the main gate of the inner keep. The battle was at its most ferocious here. The golden glow of Morrigan’s healing power flowed hypnotically amongst the other guild members. He saw Heracy take an arrow in the shoulder and shrug it off as if it was nothing.

Mal-Sidus and an Altmer danced a deadly waltz, the Argonian’s tail flicked as he spun, tripping the Altmer before the lizard leapt onto him and bit into his neck with twin daggers. Blood spurted in an arterial fountain and sprayed a nearby column. The Sweet-Knight paused to block a blow that would’ve decapitated the Argonian before pushing on taking the attacker in an unstoppable charge of armour. The Argonian blinked his reptilian eyes after the huge Nord and shrugged. The Redguard was nearing the door and moved into position to protect a battering ram that was repeatedly smashing into the gate which splintered anew with each forceful impact. He looked from side to side as his back pressed itself against the heavy wooden frame of the device. Hot oil still dripped down from the last desperate but ultimately futile defence by the defenders to cease the madness of the attack on the door. Morrigan meanwhile continued her seemingly effortless dance amongst the clashing races of Tamriel , healing and slaying people in equal measures.

Heat suddenly splayed itself painfully over the Redguard’s right side, A splash of flame vaulted over the Redguard’s head like a deadly sunset. He could hear the brittle crisping of his helm’s horse hair mane. He pushed quickly off the battering ram and threw himself to the ground. An opposing vein of lightning sprung from the other direction and headed straight for the source of the flame. Looking up from his mattress of corpses, Onyx’s eyes widened in disbelief. He saw a soldier bearing the sigil of the Imperial honour guard crumple to the ground, his fingers still retaining their molten glow from the flame attack he had unleashed moments earlier. Standing above him was a woman who was recognizable only because of a small brooch pinned to her armour. It was the latest pawn to lay claim the Ruby Throne. The current Empress of Tamriel. Onyx knew that this could be the only opportunity to turn the tide of battle.

He pushed himself up with as much speed as possible, reaching behind him, the Sorceror loosened his inferno staff from its leather tie. At his grip the magical energies contained within the innocuous length of yew sprung to life. The tip glowed with all the warmth of a hearth fire. Onyx shot his arm out straight and pointed the staff right at the cowering woman who clawed desperately at the door behind her. She shrieked in horror and raised her hands, but a fraction too slow. The heat blossomed like an orchid and then billowed out, sweat rolled down Onyx’s face as he struggled to keep his aim steady through the force that buffeted against his forearms. The fireball arced directly into the chest plate of the terrified woman and she clawed desperately at the straps, trying to get it off before the attack reached its fatal crescendo. Again, too late. Molten steel consumed the woman’s body and her face blackened and split. Before she died, her eyes rolled back to show the blistered whites.

Onyx lowered the hand that gripped the staff just as a cheer erupted from those attacking the door with the ram. They had broken through and as the forms of soldiers trampled the fallen Empress, he leaned to one side, vomiting copiously. He went to stand up and a wave of light headedness took him. Before consciousness stole away from him, he saw the courtyard and the many wasted lives it contained tilt to one side. “Whoever would want to rule this……” was his last thought as the world faded to the blissfulness of nothing.

“We are progeny’s of our own failures” The orc’s eloquence was surprising, he seated himself with a tired grunt and wiped his bloody knuckles with an already stained rag.

Onyx groaned and rolled one swollen eye in the orc’s direction.

“You don’t say?” the words were obscured by his shredded lips.

“I wish it were it not so” the Orsimer continued, oblivious to his captive’s blithe response. He leaned back and took in the cell in which they both resided

"On the one hand, you have myself, free to leave this place of ill repute, and the other” a pause to take in the hand that still clenched the rag “There is you, chained to the wall like a dog awaiting his master’s return”

“A less than favourable comparison, friend” Onyx spat and the blood dribbled down his chin, tracing rivulets through his salt and pepper beard.

“Purely speculative, I assure you” The orc rose again, seemingly restless with his chosen profession and yet dedicated to its purpose all the same “Now… business. At what point did you think such a brilliant idea as cooking The Empress’s brains in her delicate skull would be a wise course in the continuation of your existence?”

“What can I say? I’m an opportunist” The fist lashed out of nowhere and caught the Sorceror just below his cheekbone. He felt something pop and prayed that his was not his remaining eyeball. Blinking through a hazy double image he was reassured that he would still be able to witness first hand the ongoing questioning.

“You’re probably asking yourself why we haven’t just taken the initiative and disposed of you already?” Onyx tried to speak and found that he was having difficulty forming the words.

“No no, please don’t answer, the question was merely rhetorical. There has been some ample discussion in the mead hall above about your involvement with a group of ne’er do wells operating under the moniker The Debaucherous Tea Party” Onyx tried not to register his surprise as he blinked slowly. It was becoming difficult to breathe through his shattered nose.

"Yes, we do of course know about them, They have been causing us quite some grief in areas all over Cyrodil”

“Never heard of them” This time the punch was delivered just below his sternum, he felt a rib creak ominously and his body swayed backwards with the force.

“I do so enjoy your obstinance Redgaurd, but I have limited time allocated to me by my Lord, so if we could dispense with these little ruses you’re obviously so fond of, I’m sure we could hurry up and usher you onto the next life” The orc’s demeanour was one of abject pity for his interviewee.

The fist raised again at the Sorceror’s hesitation and it was with this gesture that Onyx then spoke “Enough….enough” More coughing of blood “Their leader……she’s….a, a……..Lusty Argonian by the name of Lifts-Her……..”

The blow that followed split Onyx’s ear and knocked out several teeth, the Orc’s brow furrowed as a sound started ringing up the circular walls of the torture chamber and up through the grate in the ceiling. The Redguard’s laughter was hysterical and echoed like a chorus of the damned. The Orc snarled and went in for another blow, this one lifted the Redguard up and swung him, smashing the wall. More broken ribs to enjoy and impending blackouts loomed. The Orc was worked up into a blood lust now and all civility had dropped from his manner, he surged forward to strike and instead looked down in surprise as a blade emerged from the center of his chest and his heart’s blood bloomed like a painting of an exotic flower.

Holy pushed his foot into the back of the Orc and smiled evilly as he withdrew his sword from its Orsimer sheathe. He took in the pulped Sorceror dangling limply from the chain


Calling forth power he wrapped elemental force around the chain and tugged, it snapped in glowing steel and the Sorceror plunged to the ground. Looking down at the near-dead Redguard he wondered if he was too late.

The battered head looked up at him like a corpse from a mummer’s horror show and blinked through a lone, green bloodshot eye “Took your time, you pasty bastard”

Table for Two

“A true measure of something’s worth is not always the most obvious feature” Onyx’sis Ben Raffar the younger thought this to himself as he grappled with one end of the hefty wooden table. On the other end, Quiixto Flux sweated in frustrated effort as they both crested yet another of the hills surrounding the outskirts of Riften. The chirping of birds was interrupted with the grunts of exhausted effort that permeated the area. Dropping his end, Quiixto slumped against a nearby tree and slid to the ground. They were at the base of a cliff that loomed menacingly and seemingly blocked their progress, thick shrubbery crowded protectively at its base.

“How much did you say this merchant was willing to pay for this table, Onyx?” The Imperial looked over at the Redguard and huffed as he wiped a droplet of sweat from the end of his nose, he rose and pulled down a chair from the table top, placing it on the ground to one side of the table.

“Five thousand gold!” The Redguard Sorcerer took the other chair down and plopped himself down “I’m telling you, this will buy us passage as least as far as……”

Quiixto pulled the pack from his back, sat down on the chair and placed the pack between his feet. He rifled through it and started pulling out food, placing it on the table between himself and Onyx

“Don’t tell Arienne about this…..” Onyx wagged a finger at the Imperial.

“Oh, I won’t…could you imagine the lecture?!?” Quiixto chuckled as he popped a slice of cheese into his mouth.

The arrow took him in the side of his head before he could finish the bite, he slumped back in his chair as blood and cheese dribbled from between his lips. Onyx went to rise and was peppered with a flurry of arrows. The chair toppled and he lay gasping on the ground, blood leaking in torrents from the multiple wounds in his chest.

The thief smiled as he walked into the clearing. A sly thought crossed his mind “These two idiots would have to be the densest pieces of guar dung I’ve ever encountered. They thought the table was the object of value?”

Onyx vision blurred, breathing coming in shallower gasps with each passing moment as he watched his assailant reach under the table. His last sight was the thief, pulling a heavy looking green bag from beneath the table and studying it.

As a long, slow and final breath emerged from the dead man behind him, the thief smiled and pulled a heavy looking stone from the bag, throwing the bag to one side. He whistled slowly as he studied the stone for a moment before pocketing it and departing the clearing. The two corpses slowly cooled as the setting sun slowly filtered down between leaves, painting the table and its contents in dappled shades of amber.