Bus Ride Fantasy

Skyrim FanFiction, Skyrim Erotica, and More

Entering Mzinchaleft

dwemer ruin

Narova slid forward on her belly—inching along the snowy cliff like a black snake. A storm had passed through hard the night before and covered the world in a two-foot blanket of white powder.

Narova was glad for it, even though it made scouting the entrance a pain in the ass. The weather covered her approach.

Arnbjorn was back a ways, getting their gear together. They had slaughtered one of the horses and dried out as much of the meat as they could. The other, they let go.

Lucky and free.

Other than the meat, Arnbjorn had filled a pack with a few horns of mead, seven rolls of bark-tree bandages, two pieces of flint, and two quivers of extra arrows. There was no telling how long they’d be underground, but it was still best to pack light when you were bringing death along with you.

Narova kept Morlanus’ two potions, Garland the Green’s sword, and all six of her extra daggers strapped to her body. Everything within arm’s reach.

The entrance to the Dwarven ruin looked clear. Narova sniffed and picked up the rusty scent of dried blood on the air. Probably from the bandits who were squatting in this place before the necromancers arrived. The blood was at least three weeks old, though.

There was nobody on the surface, and nobody within three or four hundred feet of the door. Not as far as she could tell, anyway.

This ruin was the last known location of Mordred the Puppetmaster—an elusive and dangerous member of the Morathi Covenant.

A real peach, that one. Arnbjorn had given Narova a full report on their ride out to Mzinchaleft.

Mordred had a death-sentence in all nine Holds of Skyrim. Necromancy and mayhem were the general charges, but some of the reports on him were filled with more disturbing details: Children turned in zombies and then forced to murder their parents. A general in the Imperial Legion who lost control of his left arm and tore his own heart out—all the while shouting “Morathi, Morathi, Morathi!” In Riften, he was wanted for casting a spell on a cousin of Maven Blackbriar that drove him so crazy he popped both of his eyes out and tried to sell them to the Thieves Guild for a pair of boots.

Most recently, he had had destroyed the entire town of Tel Mithryn. Left nothing but a small colony of burning corpses.

Festus Krex had tracked him here from Solstheim and then sent a letter back to the Sanctuary before entering Mzinchaleft after him—letting the Dark Brotherhood know where Mordred was in case he should fail.

It had arrived only one day before the assassin’s reanimated corpse returned as well.

Whatever other darkness was brewing beneath this ground, it was a mystery to Narova. Garland the Green had told her that Mordred’s death hadn’t been ordered by the relatives of the Tel Mithryn massacre, but the people behind all of this were still a mystery.

But the truth was, Narova didn’t really care who wanted Mordred dead, or why. She just wanted revenge for her friend.

Narova scanned the entrance one more time, and then stood up. She turned around and saw that Arnbjorn was done with the pack—he was sitting against a rock, waiting. His great warhammer leaning against one shoulder.

Narova waved him up. He snatched up the pack and hammer. Climbed the cliff with a quick, feral grace.

“Empty?” he asked when he got to the top.

Narova nodded. “Nothing much inside the entrance, either.”

Arnbjorn sniffed as well—his sense of smell was far keener than Narova’s, along with the rest of his senses.

“Yeah,” was all he said. “So what’s the plan?”

“I doubt this Mordred will have stayed close to the surface. Why pick a ruin as vast as Mzinchaleft if he didn’t want to dig in?”

“Makes sense.”

“So we’ll just head in. Probably won’t be anything besides dead bandits and a few Falmer for a day or two. When we find him, I’ll poison an arrow while you go wulf and distract him. Once the poison’s in, we’ll finish him together.” She looked up at Arnbjorn. “Then you can eat the bastard’s heart.

He was frowning and looking around the scattered towers.

“What?” Narova asked. “You have a better idea?”

“No,” he said. Distracted. “It’s a good plan, nice and simple. But something’s…wrong with this place. Very wrong.”

“Dwemer ruins aren’t exactly known for their hospitality.”

“The smell. The smell is all wrong. It’s…” he sniffed again, “oily and metallic. Not natural.”

Narova took a deep breath. Tried to pick it up. Maybe there was something funny in the air, she couldn’t be sure, though. Mostly she just smelled snow and ice and dead bandits.

“Does it change our options?” she asked.

“No,” he said after a while. “We go.”

Arnbjorn picked up the pack and headed for the entrance to Mzinchaleft.

Narova may have been right about the necromancer being deep below the surface, but she was wrong about the Falmer. Within an hour they started running into the vicious, twisted creatures of the deep. They filled the dark hallways and crumbling keeps. Waiting, watching, guarding.

At the start, Narova killed them all.

She kept her cloak of invisibility up and snuck up behind each one—drew her blade across their throat and clamped her fist down over their mouths while they choked and gurgled on their own rotten blood. For a while, Narova was able to kill them cleanly and keep them moving at a good pace. But it didn’t last.

When it was evening—or what felt like evening beneath the ground—one of the slimy bastards finally managed to twist away from her. The thing died, but his body landed on an old Dwarven pressure plate and set off a trap further down the hallway they’d been moving through. Small poisoned arrows ricocheted off the walls—sending a metallic, twangy echo shuddering through the darkness.

Then there was no hiding.

They seemed to come from everywhere—out of each room and hall and crack in the ground. They even poured out of strange tunnels that were clearly built for Dwarven creations. Twenty, thirty of them at least. Their low snarls sounded like a deranged prayer to some insane God.

Arnbjorn sighed and pulled his warhammer from his shoulder. And they went to work.

It was only the second time Narova had used the Akaviri katana in combat. It was a strange weapon—light and thin, yet perfectly balanced for death. She sprang from one creature to the next—paralyzing as many as she could and cutting limbs from the rest. Stabbing into their hearts and lung and livers.

They were fierce, strong fighters. Without Arnbjorn, Narova probably would have been overwhelmed by their numbers eventually. But the Nord was implacable. He cast his warhammer in wide, cruel arcs of death. Crumpling bodies and smashing skulls. None of them could get close to him, but none could escape, either.

At the end, Arnbjorn pinned a dozen final survivors in a corner and mashed them into a gruesome pile of flesh and bone and meat.

He didn’t yell as he slaughtered them, like he had in Broken Oar Grotto. He was too smart for that—didn’t want to alert the creatures deeper in the ruin. No, this was quiet, dark work.

As clean as a massacre can get.

When it was over, Arnbjorn was covered in sweat and panting like the wild creature inside of him.

“I think we’re safe for now,” Narova said, sheathing her sword and double checking the potions to make sure they hadn’t been damaged.

Arnbjorn just nodded and sat down in a corner. Pulled a bottle of mead from the pack and drank half of it in four massive gulps.

“You hurt?” he asked her.

She shook her head. “I let the bastard fall on a pressure plate. Sloppy.”

“Inevitable. All these fucking Falmer. I’ve never seen this many in a ruin.” He looked around a little. “Hell, I didn’t even think this many still existed. And I know you can smell them now.”

She could. After a slaughter like that the air should have been filled with the smell of blood and gore. The stink of the dead. But it wasn’t there. The entire room was filled with that oily, unnatural smell.

“Astrid always said I was no good at this sort of job,” Arnbjorn continued. “Too much of the Companions still in me, I guess. Never could stay in the shadows long.”

He fixed his blue eyes on her and smiled sadly.

“We’ll rest here for a while,” she said, sitting down next to him. “Figure out what’s next in the morning.”

Arnbjorn didn’t say anything, just pulled her close. They couldn’t risk a fire, so they stayed pressed against each other—sharing the warmth of their bodies. After a while Arnbjorn slept.

Narova stayed awake, rubbing the top of Morlanus’ potion with her thumb. Trying to think through their options and coming to the same conclusion every time:

She was going to have to kill Mordred by herself.


2 comments on “Entering Mzinchaleft

  1. Pingback: The Falmer Metamorphosis | Bus Ride Fantasy

  2. Elspeth Aurilie
    March 30, 2013

    “Children turned in zombies and then forced to murder their parents.”

    Picturing this occurring in Skyrim-as-I-know-it actually made me laugh, Lars going after Idolaf, Balgruuf’s kids going after him, and so on and so forth.

    “A general in the Imperial Legion who lost control of his left arm and tore his own heart out—all the while shouting “Morathi, Morathi, Morathi!”

    Is this a reference/homage to something because it sounds really familiar. Brilliant in this context, but also sort of familiar.

    Really, that whole paragraph on his various crimes was nicely done. Darkly humorous and all that.

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This entry was posted on March 11, 2013 by in Skyrim Fiction, Tales of Narova Black Hair and tagged , .
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