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The Broken Oar Grotto Massacre: Part One

Broken Oar Grotto

“This is the spot,” Gonja said, fiddling with the bandage on his right hand. “North along the coast until you see a small entrance underneath a big cave-in. Just like Miranda told it.”

Arnbjorn frowned, and Narova could tell that he wasn’t happy.

“How do you know the whore wasn’t lying?” he asked.

They had sent Gonja into Solitude alone to find out where the Blackbloods made their camp. The loudmouth smuggler had been gone three days while they huddled beside a small fire in the damp rain, shivering and trying to decide how long to wait before going into the city and killing him for abandoning them.

Gonja had finally returned with a huge smile and information gleaned from a whore.

“For the last time,” Gonja said, rolling his eyes, “the Blackbloods took her and a few other girls up to the camp for a few nights. You know, to entertain the men. They blindfolded ‘em, but Miranda’s an Argonian and all, so she don’t need no eyes to tell her where she is. Trust me, the dumb girl didn’t  have a devious bone in her body. She told it true.”

Narova twisted around in the small rowboat. “Tell me again, how is it you got so much information from an Argonian whore?”

Gonja flushed. “Well…uh, I don’t see how that’s important.” He turned back to the entrance of the grotto and pointed with his mangled hand. “That’s important. That’s what we’ve come for.”

Arnbjorn ran a hand through his silver beard and fingered the handle of his warhammer.

“All right. Korman, row us in. Nice and quiet.”

There was a fire going outside the grotto, but no guards. Just a few longboats and a tunnel leading into the earth. They pulled the boat ashore and hid it behind a small outcropping.

“So…not sure if you already noticed this, but I’m right-handed,” Gonja said, waving his bandaged hand through the air. “That is, I hold a sword with my right hand. I can jerk off with the left in a pinch, but I don’t think I’ll be much good with the blade. Different motions entirely, one’s all about the up and down—”

“Shut your fucking face,” Narova hissed. The smuggler was too damn loud. “You can mind the bloody boat. But if anyone comes in behind us, you’d better do something better than jerking your cock off on them.”

Silently for once, Gonja backed off to where the boat was hidden.

Ignoring them, Arnbjorn took a few steps forward on the gravel beach and sniffed the air coming from the cave.

“They’re in there,” he said. “Close, too. Must be the guards ducked inside to get warm.”

Korman drew the silver scimitar he’d taken from the bandits who’d attacked them on the road to Solitude and headed for the entrance.

“Wait,” Arnbjorn said, and turned to Narova. “You’re up, Blackhair. Nice and quiet.”

Narova nodded and drew her dagger.

Then she pulled the familiar curtain of invisibility over herself and stepped into the cave.

It was damp and cool and sounds of dripping water seemed to come from everywhere. The grotto extended back around a corner—much larger than Narova would have figured. A wooden scaffold was built into the wall, and there was a table and a few lamps set up. Stolen supplies and loot was stacked everywhere: animal skins, bottles of potions and alcohol, expensive armor.

And two Blackblood Marauders.

The closest one was sitting at table drinking a bottle of wine. The other was up some steps, sharpening a long, silver blade on a grindstone.

Narova stalked forward silently. She came up behind the first one, clamped a hand over his mouth, and drew her dagger smoothly across his throat. After he was dead, she tossed his corpse to the side so he tipped off his chair and landed with a clatter.

The grinding on the platform above stopped. Narova ducked into the shadow below the staircase.

“Marcus? Everything good?” The Blackblood asked.

Silence.

Narova heard him standing up. “Drunk bastard probably passed out again,” he muttered to himself.

The stairs sighed under the weight of his foot. One step. Two. Three.

The back of his ankle came into view. Narova swiped her blade across his boot, slicing his Achilles tendon in half. The Blackbood gasped and then tumbled down the rest of the stairs.

He was still moaning and trying to figure out what had happened to him when Narova cut his throat.

She came back out of the cave and motioned Arnbjorn and Korman forward.

They moved through the grotto quietly. There were a few guards milling around, but all of them were alone, so Narova took care of them with her arrows. Broken Oar went back for what seemed like miles—following the underground river deep into the side of the mountain.

A good hideout. Narova thought. I’ll have to remember this place if I come around Solitude again.

Eventually, they came to the end of it.

The Blackbloods had built a small fortress for themselves in the back of the grotto: Scaffolds and ramps and small cabins—all of it jerry-rigged from the remains of some old ship. They even had a smithy set up on a far wall.

Lots of weapons, too.

The three killers snuck forward on their bellies. Lining up on the far side of the big room where they could get a good look at everything. Narova counted thirty men, at least. Maybe more in the back. Hard to say.

“Do you see the Argonian?” Arnbjorn asked Korman, his voiced hushed.

Korman shook his head. “In one of the cabins, maybe.”

Arnbjorn nodded. “We’ll just have to go check.”

There was a small bridge over the water below them, but it was drawn up. On the far side there was a narrow shelf that led down into the camp—only wide enough for two men to pass through.

A perfect bottleneck.

Narova motioned to the shelf with her eyes and then pulled a fistful of arrows out of her quiver and jammed them into the ground. From here, she could see the entire length of the shelf. Arnbjorn followed her eyes and understood immediately. He tapped Korman on the back and they both stood up, stalked off along the shelf with their weapons drawn.

Narova notched an arrow and found her first target. An archer up near the top of the fortress picking at his fingernails and not paying attention.

Her arrow plunged into his bandit-heart at the same time Arnbjorn let out his piercing animal howl and charged along the shelf, smashing the skull of the lone guard they’d posted there. Korman was right behind him—flail in one hand and the silver scimitar in the other.

For bandits, they moved pretty quick. This lot really knew what they were doing—no panicking or wasted time trying to figure out what was going on. They all went straight for their weapons and then headed up to the shelf.

Narova aimed for the ones that seemed apt to cause the most trouble. She killed most of them with one arrow, winged others enough to slow them down at least. She never missed.

Five, six, seven, eight. She felt herself start to sweat and her arm started to tire from drawing her bow so fast.

The ones she didn’t get met Arnbjorn and Korman along the shelf—coming at them two at a time. They were truly a sight to see, those two Nords. Korman whipped his flail around in a death-arc that simply obliterated anything it touched. One second there was a face, the next there was nothing except a mash of red meat. Chewed up and ruined and falling off the shelf into the water below.

Arnbjorn swung his hammer in big vertical arcs, smashing down on their shoulders and chests and heads. Leaving limp, crushed bodies in his wake.

But they kept coming. Streaming out of hidden rooms and covered cabins.

An entire fucking army.

Arnbjorn and Korman started pushing forward. Stepping over dead bodies until they were in a wider area and had more room to kill.

They needed help. Narova shot the last of her arrows, and without watching to see where it ended up, dropped her bow and dove into the water below.

Cold needles everywhere, and then she was pulling herself up on the other side and running up the series of ramps and planks that led to the bloodshed. She nearly bowled into a rushing Blackblood who was coming out of a small room—ducked his clumsy sword swing and then jammed her dagger hilt-deep in his face.

“Fucking kill them, it’s just two!” she heard a Blackblood shout from above.

Keep moving. She told herself.

They all had their backs to her when she reached the shelf. Twenty of them, at least. But that seemed to be all of them. Korman was swinging his flail still, but not quite as fast. Arnbjorn was backed into a corner and stabbing his hammer out in fast, lighting jabs. Pushing men back but not killing them.

Stalling for time.

Narova picked up a short sword from the ground. Adjusted the grip in her hand. Then she rushed forward.

She hit the first Blackblood so hard in the back of the neck that his head shot off and smacked into a man three feet ahead with enough force to knock him over. Stabbed the next one in the back of the knee and the kidney.

The rest was a whirlwind of blood and gore and screams. Beautiful carnage. The Blackbloods didn’t figure out what was happening until Narova had killed almost all of them. The last few turned around in time to get crushed by Arnbjorn’s hammer or Korman’s flail.

When it was over, Korman walked around the bodies, looking at their faces and then finishing the ones who still clung to little wisps of life. Narova let her breathing return to normal. Arnbjorn sat down on a rock.

“Not here.” Korman said after he’d check everyone.

“What?”

“The Black Argonian is not here.”

They were all silent for a moment. And then the grotto slowly filled with a distant swishing sound that grew louder and louder.

Oars in the water. Coming their way.

READ PART TWO

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8 comments on “The Broken Oar Grotto Massacre: Part One

  1. Elspeth Aurilie
    December 28, 2012

    This was so exciting! I may have been literally bouncing in my chair. I can’t wait for the next installment. woot!

    • Fargoth
      December 28, 2012

      It’s up! These ones were fun to write. A little on the violent side I guess….

  2. Pingback: The Broken Oar Grotto Massacre: Part Two « Bus Ride Fantasy

  3. Pingback: On the Road to Solitude: Part Two « Bus Ride Fantasy

  4. Miranda
    December 30, 2012

    An Argonian whore. I love it. (;
    Another good one!

    • Fargoth
      December 31, 2012

      Thanks! Yeah I think that reference stems from my teenage self and too many Chris Farley movies, but what can you do?

  5. Pingback: Entering Mzinchaleft | Bus Ride Fantasy

  6. Pingback: Wagon Wheel | Bus Ride Fantasy

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This entry was posted on December 28, 2012 by in Skyrim Fiction, Tales of Narova Black Hair and tagged , .
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