Bus Ride Fantasy

Skyrim FanFiction, Skyrim Erotica, and More

The Trail

The Trail

Kreeves came up over the small hill and stopped to catch his breath. His gills flipped open and closed, burning a little in the cool morning air.

My body isn’t meant for this country, Kreeves thought. Not for the first time.

His body had healed enough from his tumble off the cliff in Markarth so that he could walk. But he was far from being fully recovered. Every step came with the grinding agony of half-formed cartilage popping and scraping along his bones. Every gust of wind clawed at his raw skin. Scales were the last things to grow back.

He was as vulnerable as a hatchling like this. Barely strong enough to lift his spear. But the black haired elf would not wait for him.

Asriel was a few hundred yards ahead of him. Already making long strides down the other side of the hill.

They were moving northeast from Falkreath. Tracking the elf and some great animal that had carried her off after mauling the entire garrison in town. Fifty men dead, at least.

A werewolf, some said. Strange business.

As a boy, Kreeves had been a decent hunter. Spearing pond-frogs and trapping mud crabs in the marshes. But soldiering had been his life for almost twenty years, and he had to admit that he’d lost the knack of reading signs and chasing scents. For the first few miles, it had been easy to follow the animal’s massive prints—violently pressed into the mud like they were.

But after a while the tracks disappeared into a stream, and the strange, feral smell mixed in with the water and the moss. Kreeves was at a loss.

Asriel wasn’t.

Kreeves would have called him the best hunter he’d ever seen, but hunting wasn’t the right word for what he was doing. The strange Dunmer never stooped to examine a sign, never sniffed the air or tasted the soil. He just picked a direction and walked—as if some voice only he could hear was guiding him along.

Kreeves thought that was strange, but what had happened in Dead Man’s Drink was even stranger.

Asriel had led them inside and sat down at a table. The killings had only happened a day or two earlier, and the barkeep was working at the floor with a mop and bucket. Trying to get the bloodstains out and failing at it.

Asriel didn’t say a word. Just tapped his finger on the table once. The tavern keeper dropped his mop in the middle of the floor and walked over. Took a chair across from Asriel.

“What happened here?” the Dunmer asked.

And without any prompting or nudging or explaining, the tavern keeper dumped out the entire story in one long sentence. Poor sap barely even stopped to breathe.

He told them about how Narova had come in, gotten drunk, and then killed five men for no good reason. And when she was outside and surrounded by soldiers, a dark beast and bounded out of the forest and torn the men apart. Ripping off limbs clawing out throats. When everyone was dead, the beast had scooped up Narova’s unconscious body and headed north.

Finally, it made sense why Sujava had paid Asriel so well all those years. Kreeves had known spies and operatives and agents all of his life. But the magic Asriel had worked over on that tavern keeper—that was something else entirely.

When the barkeep had finished talking, Asriel rose and left without a word. Walked straight out of town, heading north, and had barely stopped since.

They were somewhere between Riverwood and Whiterun now, Kreeves reckoned. Although he couldn’t be sure. The effort of regeneration left him weak and disoriented. It was hard to focus.

Kreeves ambled down the hill, vision bumping up and down with the uneven ground.

When he finally looked up, there were five Stormcloak soldiers blocking the road ahead. Kreeves was in a sorry state to have let them get the jump on him like that.

“And where, might I ask, are you two going?” the one in the middle asked. He was a short, barrel-chested Nord who had both of his meaty hands hooked casually into his belt. Kreeves could tell by his enameled armor and his self-important tone that he was a sergeant. Probably figured himself for a great hero and liberator.

Bloody idiot.

“To Whiterun,” Asriel responded, his voice drowning in disinterest, as usual. “This is the road, is it not?”

“Aye,” the sergeant responded. “This is the road.”

He eyed Kreeves hard, then Asriel. Then kept talking.

“But when I see a lizard who looks like he’s been beat to Oblivion and back traveling with Gray Skin, it makes me wonder.”

Kreeves tried to figure if he could take all five. Seeing as he had quite a bit of trouble walking up a small hill just moments ago, killing five soldiers didn’t seem very realistic.

“We are simple travelers, making a pilgrimage to Gildergreen.”

“Travelers. Making a pilgrimage to Gildergreen,” the sergeant repeated.

“That’s what I said.”

The sergeant spat a thick glob of phlegm onto the road. It caught the morning light and forced Kreeves to squint. His new eye was still sensitive to the light.

“Thing is, you look more like Imperial spies to me,” the sergeant continued. “The Legion’s been known to use Gray Skins and lizards as their agents. You scum’ll do anything for a bit of coin, ain’t that right?”

Asriel shrugged. “You are mistaken. May we pass?”

With exaggerated effort, the sergeant unhooked his fat fingers from his belt and slowly drew his sword. “No, I’m thinking your travel plans have changed a bit. It’ll be a ditch on the side of the road for you two.”

Kreeves cursed to himself and readied his spear. All five soldiers moved forward together, blades up and ready for violence.

“The thing is,” Asriel’s voice rang out. Suddenly clearer and full of emotion. Intoxicating, almost. “We saw some other spies back that way.”

The Dunmer pointed over the hill they’d come from.

The sergeant stopped. Frowned at that. “Other spies?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” Asriel said. His voice was like honey, now. Dripping with sweetness, humming to the tune of some secret, ancient melody. “Many spies. Two dozen, at least. If you caught that many spies, rather than just killing the two of us, surely you would be rewarded by your captain.”

All five men blinked in unison—a strange and unsettling sight. Then the four soldiers turned to their sergeant. Blades dropping. The murder melting out of their faces.

“Is that true, sir?” one of them asked. “Would we be rewarded?”

The sergeant just frowned more. Clearly plagued by a very difficult decision.

“Rewarded extremely well.” Asriel cooed.

“Aye… extremely well,” the sergeant repeated, his voice just above a whisper. He nodded his head once firmly. Decision made. “You heard him lads, we best head after those spies. Let’s go!”

He took off running—the four men following close behind, their blue cloaks billowing in the breeze.

“Gods I hate spies,” one of them muttered as he passed. Kreeves kept his spear at the ready until they crested the hill and disappeared over the other side.

When he turned back around, Asriel was looking at him with something almost like a smile on his face.

“I have great respect for you people,” the Dunmer said. “But Argonians will never rise up from the dark corners of the world until you understand that spears and swords are not…productive solutions to every problem.”

“Who says we want to rise up from anything?” Kreeves asked, lowering his spear and leaning his weight against it.

Asriel smiled wider, but somehow he still managed to wreath the expression with apathy. He looked as though he was about to say something else, but instead he turned suddenly, as if someone had called his name from the other direction.

“Shall we?” he asked.

“How do you know where they’ve gone?” Kreeves asked, moving to follow him. “There’s no trail.”

“The trail is within, Okan-Shei-Kreeves.” He took a confident stride northward. “The trail is within.”

3 comments on “The Trail

  1. Elspeth Aurilie
    February 19, 2013

    Please don’t hate me for saying so, but I kept thinking “these aren’t the spies we’re looking for” during the exchange with the Stormcloak soldiers. Very nicely done though, and we can blame my overstuffed brain if my star wars reference was out of line.

    • Fargoth
      February 28, 2013

      Haha, I can definitely see that! Charm magic isn’t so different from a little bit of Jedi Mind Trick, right?

  2. Pingback: Three Frost Trolls | Bus Ride Fantasy

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2013 by in Skyrim Fiction and tagged .
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