“Bring him around back.”
“You want him tied up, Captain?”
“Aye. And tell your scout to find a soft piece of iron. It’s late and I’m not waking up the good people of Davon’s Watch for this idiot.”
The guards of Davon’s Watch followed their Captain as they dragged a hooded prisoner down to the docks. Few people walked the streets and a full moon reflected its light across the water, lighting the way to a set of wooden posts. The Captain stepped aside and rested one hand on his hip and used the other to drink from a mug of mead as he watched him men work.
“Oi, take his armor off before you tie him up. We’ll need his back exposed,” said the Captain. One of his men looked up with a questioning look only for his Captain to wave dismissively at him. “It’s his twenty-seventh offense, technically, but we’ll give it to him early in hopes he won’t want to get to thirty,” said the Captain. He turned away as the guards pulled back the hood and untied the leather armor to expose the prisoner from the waist up before they tied one wrist to either post. The Captain strolled away from the scene and looked out over the moonlit docks.
The Captain was a tall and strong man who looked the part of a captain; with the fair skin of a Nord, and sporting an honorable black beard and the strong brown eyes that could hold the caring warmth of the hearth, and yet be as sharp as the two handed Nordic axe that he had strapped across his back. His plate armor was of Skyrim crest and steel, but over it he wore the red cape of the Captain of the Ebonheart Pact branch in Davon’s Watch. He was one of the many Captains sent to secure Stonefalls and repel the Daggerfall Covenant attacks. While Sergeant Holgunn worked with local adventurers to counterattack homefront threats, the Captain headed the guards in Davon’s Watch. He was less mobile than Holgunn, but was still his superior.
The Captain turned halfway as a shrill and familiarly nagging voice snapped at him. A dark elf mage appeared behind him, with a grimacing scowl and a clipboard in his hands. “Adviser to the council, great scholar Madsena,” said Letrush. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
The dark elf closed in on the Nordic Captain as he glared directly into the captain’s calm and toasted eyes. “Don’t you dare play games with me, Captain. That young man has long since exceeded your mercy, or the mercy of the law. Now I’ve read the accounts and I mean all of them. Twenty-seven offenses of petty theft. By the three, Twenty-seven! He should have been hanged yesterday!”
The Captain took in a deep breath and set his mug of mead down on one of the dock pillars. He leaned back and crossed his arms as he muggy air of Morrowind. “Look, we’ve been over this before--”
“I don’t CARE what agreement you’ve made with the higher ups in the pact, this is outrageous!! You’re in MORROWIND might I remind you and we have laws of our own! You haven’t even taken a single hand off of this THIEF!! Criminal scum he is! Twenty-seven accounts, how can you possibly explain how he is still alive?!” Madsena shrieked.
“Leave it to a dark elf to demand that I maim a brother Nord,” the Captain hissed. “Yes, this is Morrowind, but might I remind you, Adviser Madsena, that the only reason Davon’s Watch is still standing is because of the Ebonheart Pact. Because my men under my command repelled the assault on your lands. Help of the local adventurers or not, my men were the ones at the front lines. You owe your very life to to the Pact, let alone the respect to its local captain. Now, do your job and try to advise the council to get rid of me if I’m such a terrible captain. In the meantime, leave me to do my job in punishing petty thieves as I see fit.”
"Your men! Your men would all be dead on the shores had Tanval Indoril not stepped in to help!” Madsena snipped. “You dare baske in the credit of House Indoril! Heed me Captain, the council will hear of this and this thief you go to such lengths to protect."
As the Captain reached for his mug of mead the dark elf shot forward and slapped it away causing it to tumble off the docks into the water below. Letrush raised a brow at the dark elf before the adviser swore at him and then stormed off back into town. “Sulking skeever of a dunmer,” muttered Letrush. He pushed away from the docks and headed back to his men as they awaited his command. “Nevermind him, continue,” he said. Letrush turn to face his men as a scout ran down the steps to the docks carrying a small box of tools and a stone cup full of hot molten metal. He nodded at the scout and pointed over to the only one of his men who had taken his gloves off. In the box was a soft and malleable stick of iron with teeth marks in it next to a small vial with a weak healing potion in it. The Captain approached the prisoner who was forced to kneel before him.
The prisoner was of such a prime fighting age; barely into his early twenties. He had fiery red hair and had the hardened golden yellow eyes of a Nord. Youth was still in his face, but he was out of his boyhood and ripe to become a fine Nordic warrior fit to make all of Skyrim proud. Unlike a lot of thieves, this young man didn’t share the deflated arms and quick and slender fingers that was the signature of a criminal. He was trained and, in the calm he showed in the face of torture, it was clear he had even seen battle. The Captain admired both the youth and maturity in him, but the fierce in his eyes waned to pity as he looked upon the youth’s tied up frame. Thirteen scars lined the youth’s right bicep; one for every two times he was caught stealing. And on his back right shoulder were two metal X’s; one for every ten times he was caught. Every time he was caught the guards had specific orders to beat him until he couldn’t walk and tonight was no exception. Besides the torture that lay before the youth, his nose was already bleeding and he was covered in bruises and scratches.
“One of the sharpest archers I know, and yet here we are again, Redd,” said the Captain. The prisoner didn’t look up and kept a strong and shameful glare on the muddy ground before him. “What’s it going to take?” The Captain asked him. “When are you going to give up on this and join my ranks? These noodley elf mages jump and run at the first sign of war. My men need the support of a good, precise archer and who better than a Nord of their own? You could make a lot more money, and live more comfortably than you do now.”
He waited in silence for a hot minute but the youth refused to respond or even look up. The Captain kneeled to his height and grabbed the youth by his hair to forced him to look up. “I asked you, what is it going to take, Redd?” he hissed at him. “Why do you throw away my mercy for you time after time? What would that witch mother of yours say to this? Think of her. Think of how good she was to you, and how she did what any mother would do: she made you leave home and make a life for yourself. To become a man. To make your ancestors proud. She adopted you out of her kindness and mercy and love. Raised you to be strong, and she let you choose for yourself what you wanted to do. Are you really going to explain to her that you’ve had your brother Nords scar your young body over and over whilst you foolishly try to prove yourself to a bunch of slimey thieves? huh? What’s the Thieves Guild going to do for you? You’ve been caught too many times by now. They’ll never consider you in their ranks.”
“Why don’t you just hang me already if I’m such an idiot? Spare me having to listen to your ramble,” Redd hissed back at him. The Captain rolled his eyes and he stood up only to have one of his men kick the youth in the face.
“I make it a point to keep you alive. Chopping off both your hands or hanging you would see to it you’d never steal again and would rid Davon’s Watch of your stupidity. No, you’re going to wear every single scar we put on your for your crimes. I want you to see them, and be reminded of your foolishness everyday you’re alive. I want you to grow sick of them, and feel ashamed of them. And when the idiocy of it all finally hits you, I want to see you in my office,” said the Captain. “My mercy over your life will continue until you can’t stand it anymore. Besides, we always seem to catch you so you’re pretty harmless for a criminal.”
“You have no business summoning my mother to Morrowind. What honorable Nord would make an aged woman travel so far?” snapped the youth.
“If putting molten metal in your back can’t convince you to put the petty thieving aside, then I pray for Ysgramor to aid your mother in talking some sense into you. Aye, if I had known beforehand your mother was an outcast swamp witch I probably wouldn’t have summoned her. Maybe just have had her write you a very scolding letter. Anyway, she’s due to arrive in Morrowind in a month, and may her wrath scare the daedra out of you,” said the Captain.
“And you call me scum,” hissed Redd. The Captain snapped his fingers once at his men and they began beating the youth before they finally stuffed the soft iron stick in his mouth and blindfolded him. The Captain folded his arms again and looked on as his men carved out a deep gash into Redd’s back and filled it in with molten metal. They dumped several buckets of sea water over the metal before they used a weak healing potion to close it up and seal the metal in. It was just enough to close the wound, and as they untied the youth and shoved him down into the mud he was still screaming and writhing.
“Tie him to the post by the gallows for three days without food. Make sure he can see all the dead men that hang. Then I want him cleaned up and brought to my office before we let him go free,” said the Captain.
The next morning business proceeded as usual in Davon’s Watch. The guards made their rounds, merchants tended to their shops, and artisans filled the artisan alley. Mercenaries gathered around the main square of the town as the crier appeared and handed out bounties and jobs. By the time most of the mercs had accepted a job only the hardest, most daring of jobs was left in the crier’s hands. He sighed and made his way over to the bounty board where a lone dark elf paladin waited. The crier grinned as he saw the paladin.
“Well met, Temjin!” said the crier. The paladin smiled and high-fived the crier as he approached. “Hero of Davon’s Watch and pride of the dark elves!”
“Ahh you’re too excited. Must really want to get those last papers out of your hands for completion’s sake. What have ye today, crier?” asked the paladin.
“Aye, modest as always, yet no modesty can hide your feats! Barely a grown into you’re forehead and already slayed monsters many only dream they could slay! They will write legends about you, sing songs of the greatest paladin that ever prayed to the tribunal!” the crier continued. The Paladin withheld a sigh as he fell silent and stood there with a nervous expression. The crier waited for some sort of response and eventually he quietly handed over the job flyers.
“Ah...thanks,” said Temjin. “You’re uh....you’re a nice person. Thanks.”
He walked off and wandered back into the markets as he looked over the flyers. “Hm, this one’s an old one,” he muttered as he crumpled one of them and tossed it into a public waste bin.
“Temjin! Temjin! Well met, aye? Sera!”
The Paladin looked up from the flyers as a group of three dark elf maidens ran over to him. They were dressed in their best afternoon gowns and each had taken much time to tie back their hair intricately and pick out the most sensible of jewelry. They approached him as a group, giggling to each other as silly maidens did. “Fair Veryona and her two younger sisters,” he said nervously. They giggled at such a formal address and the two younger sisters jealousy hid behind the eldest who appeared nervous, and annoyed even. ‘Here we go again....’
“He always remembers Veryona’s name but never ours! So mean, Temjin!” cried the two younger sisters.
“You two are barely maids. Heroes need not trouble themselves with foolish girls,” snapped Veryona as her face flushed.
“So harsh, Veryona,” said Temjin. “Merely that your sisters often hide from me behind your bravery. Suppose I scare them so.”
The paladin nearly jumped as the two sisters shrieked and ran to his side and threw theirs arms around him. “Ohh Temjin! You could never scare us!” They cried almost in unison as they hugged him tightly, much to the fury of their eldest sister. Veryona snapped and scolded her sisters nervously until they let go. “Be gone, foolish girls. Father has bid me speak with him,” she snapped, sending her sisters away. Temjin sighed as he looked down at the job flyers that laid trampled on the ground. He kneeled down to retrieve them, and when he stood up again Veryona had her hand outstretched to gift a sack of apples.
“Oh, you needn’t,” said Temjin. “You are a family of honorable farmers. You need not spare your stock for me."
“Nonsense, Temjin, you are a hero of our people. This is a gift from my father,” said Veryona. “He bids you dearly to come by for supper and to speak to him.” Temjin took the sack of apples as the maiden bowed to him. “Please consider his request."
“Only if you’ll be kinder to your sisters,” he said. “Girls should be allowed some foolishness whilst they are still girls.”
He smirked as Veryona’s face flushed and she rolled her eyes at the mention of her younger sisters. “My father has his hands full with the farm, with our mother is away training new recruits to the Pact I am the only one left to reprimand them,” she said. “Allow me the extension of such authority, hero. And besides, my mother would be proud if you would grace our home with your presence.”
Temjin sighed as she pressed the question again and he shook his head. “With all due respect to your honorable father who supplies the good people with fresh food, I am hoping to be out on another job over the next few days,” he said.
“Then when you get back, perhaps?” Veryona asked quickly.
“Ahh...I mean, maybe, I just--” he started when Veryona waved her hand dismissively.
“It’s no disrespect, Temjin. My father will be understanding. Heroes ought to do hero things after all. Forgive me that I might come find you when you return. A-anyway, have you heard the news?” she then asked.
Temjin grimace somewhat as Veryona decided for herself that she’d be back yet again, but nonetheless he raised a brow at her. “No, I’ve only just returned a few days ago. What news?” he asked.
“Aye but the news broke this morning,” she said. “They caught that scummy thief at it again. I don’t know why the captain doesn’t just let him hang and still the fretful heart of Davon’s Watch.”
“Oh....that guy? Uhh....” Temjin started as the maiden chuckled at him.
“You must spend too much time away from town. Always out on a job for the good Captain! Some Nord brat keeps trying to steal. He’s too notorious for it now and he gets caught every time. The captain has him beaten and tortured, but he still keeps at it. Word is he’s trying to prove himself and be noticed by the Thieves Guild. Sad and pathetic little fanboy he is,” she said.
“Still so harsh, Veryona, to even misguided youths let alone your own sisters,” said Temjin.
“Oh please, Temjin, surely ye jest. You are still of much youth yourself as am I. How could you tolerate such a mischievous character?” asked the maiden.
“Veryona! Father summons us!”
As Veryona excused herself and ran off after her sisters Temjin laid his head back on his shoulders and let out a sigh of relief. He quickly walked off to the beggars row where the townsfolk shied away. He took out two apples for himself and then handed the rest of the sack to one of the beggars who nodded and began to share the apples with others nearby. The beggars row was a quiet place and the paladin took solace in the remote. He sat down alongside them as he finally had the peace to sift through the job flyers.
“Aye, Temjin, off on another adventure?” asked one of the beggars. He didn’t look up from the flyers as he took a bite out of one of the apples. “What do you think of a daedric monster wandering about Ash mountain?” asked Temjin. “Think that would be a good test for me?”
“How do you doubt your strength?”
“Not doubt. There’s just so many others out there as strong as I and are taking out these monsters before I get to test myself against them. I should be wise of what great danger I choose, for I am giving up the chance at others in choosing,” he explained. “I regretted hearing that Blieger, the monstrous Bull Netch, was taken out last week. He was next on my list and I missed him.” The beggars quietly watched him as he studied the flyers intently and went through much inner dialogue before he finally picked one out. The beggars meanwhile chatted on about the latest news in Davon’s watch: idiot thief is caught yet again, and Adviser Madsena has filed a complaint against Captain Letrush. As Temjin rose from the side walk curb he gently folded the rest of the flyers and tucked them into his armor. As he did one of the beggars approached him and pulled at the plate armor over his back. Temjin looked back over his shoulder as the beggar tightened one of the straps that held his back plate in place before along with the straps that secured his right pauldron.
“Aye, you know your way around armor,” said Temjin. “Thank you, I always have a hard time with those straps in the morning.”
“I do know heavy armor, yes. Would you mind giving the smith Avani a word in for me?,” said the beggar.
“Sure thing. I have to pick up my axes from him anyway,” said Temjin. “Hey, quick question though, do you know where that thief is tied up? I’m curious about him.”
The beggar nodded and pointed to the west end of the town. “He’s tied to a post by the gallows,” said the beggar. “The Captain has strict orders that he is without food for three days. You ought to restrain your modesty and generosity, less you blemish that heroic reputation of yours.”
Temjin waved to the beggars as he left and headed off across town. He avoided the market place though a few wandering merchants flagged him down anyway. It took him longer than he would have liked to reach the western side of Davon’s watch, and he had in his arms more gifts than he could carry. Potions, daggers, fine wine, and freshly butchered game. He looked around until he saw an empty barrel and he quickly stuffed all the gifts inside. He grabbed the lid off of a different barrel and covered up the barrel full of gifts and hammered the lid shut with his fist. Maybe later he’d return for them and deliver them to the beggars at the row, but for now he had spotted a line of trees where bodies still hung fresh from the branches. As he looked upon the gallows the paladin seemed somewhat impressed by how many bodies there were. There were many Covenant prisoners of war that hung as a symbol of the guard’s recent victory. Others that hung were the typical type; murders, liars and cheaters, thieves, and fences. Temjin pulled at the lining of his chest plate and tugged it loose to put over his mouth. The fresh bodies of the Covenant soldiers were still into the deep of decay, and the smell was more than enough to keep anyone of good mind away. The paladin took in a deep breath and crossed the lawn over to the post where a lone red headed Nord was tied. The thief was naked from the waste up and blood oozed down his back and right arm and from a quick glance he almost looked like he was dead as he laid his head back on his shoulders and had closed his eyes. They had tied his arms behind his back but pulled them further around the post until they overlapped and they had used more rope than most prisoners ever saw in their life. The paladin looked him over quietly.
“Hmm...” he muttered. The thief didn’t look as young as people made him out to be, but Temjin could tell he was older than him by at least a few years. At the sound of his voice the thief tossed his head and came to. There were obvious dark circles beneath his eyes and a look of deep exhaustion to him. But the grit of Nord in him would not allot the thief to show any signs of defeat.
“A stubborn nord,” said Temjin. “Not surprising.”
“Yikes! Still that much fight left in you? How many times have you been caught, exactly? People keep saying a lot, but no one has a number,” asked the paladin.
Redd eyes nearly rolled back in his head as he writhed and pulled at the restraints. Temjin looked down at the ropes that dug into the thief’s skin and made his hands throb and tingle with numbness. “Why does some shining holy meathead want to know?” Redd hissed.
“I’ll give you an apple,” said Temjin as he pulled out the second apple. He retrieve a small pocket knife from his belt and cut off a slice of apple and held it out to the thief. The thief tossed his head back and chuckled with what little energy he had to him, but no part of him was going to turn down free food. He pitched his head forward and snagged the apple slice in between his teeth and nearly swallowed it whole.
“Last night makes it twenty-seven,” said the thief. “I was sloppy. Made too much noise on the way out. Fell out of a second story window and landed on all of the goods.”
The paladin blinked as he cut up another slice of apple and handed it over. “Should I...just take that as a joke? Twenty-seven? Nah, can’t be true,” Temjin then asked. “I like to think I know my way around people, but I also try to avoid the public if I can. Also, what’s with all the scars on your arm?” The paladin then asked as he pressed a finger repeatedly to the thief’s right bicep. He looked upon the thirteen lines in his arm with some disgust. They weren’t the type of discolored scars that were aged. They were scars risen just above his skin, as if they were still healing even though they had been healing for awhile now.
“You’re not....you’re not one of those really depressed peopl--”
“It’s for every other time I get caught! You idiot,” the thief snapped. The thief scoffed as he pulled on the restraints again. “That damn Captain...” he hissed.
“Aye, Letrush? I know him but only somewhat. I take the jobs he hands out in the market place,” said the paladin. “So I think I met him but once. Other than that I only ever speak to those who work at the mercenary registration.”
“A mercenary? You don’t look like a merc,” said the thief.
“And you don’t really look like a thief, so that makes two of us,” said Temjin. “What else do you do besides falling out of windows at night?”
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to eat when the stench of rotting corpses is but just above me? Keep mocking me and I’ll throw up on all that shiny armor of yours,” the thief snapped.
The threat was enough to get the paladin to take a step back after handing over the last of the apple slices. “How come the Captain put you out here? Those rotting bodies keep the townsfolk away so it’s not as though you’re getting publicly humiliated,” said the paladin.
“He wants me to take a good long hard look at what he thinks will eventually become of me,” said Redd. “He’s hoping I’ll just give up and be a good little solider and run around killing people for him. I’ll be in the Thieves Guild before that happens though, mark my words.”
Temjin raised a brow as he crossed his arms and looked at the young thief. “Are you really trying to get into the Thieves Guild? Those guys are supposed to be really good. So good that no one ever sees of them. They take on the biggest of legendary jobs, stealing from greatest of Kings, the darkest of tombs, and the trickiest of vampires and mages,” said the paladin. “If you’ve been caught so many times, surely it’s a little unrealistic that they’d consider you?”
“If the Captain sent you to play good cop and talk me out of it, don’t waste your time,” said Redd. “No one actually knows what it takes to get into the Thieves Guild, and I’m not giving up.”
“What? I....errr. Well, no, I already said I’ve never really met the Captain. I don’t work for him so he didn’t send me to talk to you. I was just curious what idiot would keep stealing after well...after what you’ve been through. You’re sort of...crazy,” said Temjin. “Anyway, why do you want to get into the Thieves Guild?”
“Sure, why don’t I just start crying my eyes out and tell you my life story,” said Redd. “Be gone with you now. Aye? You’ve bothered me enough.”
“You still got two more days tied up here, yeah? I have to resupply and trade some stuff over the next few days, but then I’m heading out on an adventure to take out a daedra that’s wandering Ash Mountain. Why not find me and come with? Maybe you just need to to take a break from thieving for a little bit? Get out, see the mountain a bit, maybe get your thieving edge back?” Temjin then offered. When the thief spat at his feet the paladin turned his nose up at him. “Two can play the rude game,” said Temjin. He fetched the apple core he had thrown away into the grass and tied it to the thief’s belt. “There! I hope a bird lands on you,” said Temjin.
“Oh no. An apple core. I am slain,” muttered the thief.
Temjin shrugged at the thief and then walked off back to into town. It was a short walk back to the curb side and he returned for the barrel of hidden gifts. Without a word to others who worked around the supply tower he grabbed the barrel and lifted it onto his shoulder and walked off back towards the market.
The paladin sighed heavily yet again. The market was within sight and so was the inn where he could hide for a few hours. He stopped and slowly turned as an argonian wizard ran after him. “Hey! There you are,” said the wizard.
“Tells-Long-Stories, well met,” said Temjin. “Or do you prefer I shorten that to Tells?”
“Tells is fine. Anyway, I thought it was you that was holding everyone up in the market,” said the wizard. “How long have you been back in Davon’s watch?”
“A few days, not long,” said Temjin. “Came back to take a few days off, and write to my father. What of you? It’s been awhile since you’ve been here.”
“Come, let me treat you to lunch, friend. I have something I’d like to ask of you,” said Tells.
“Uh, well I was hoping to--”
“Lock yourself inside away from all of the swooning peoples of Davon’s Watch? I know. We’ll grab something over at the Mages Guild. None of the mages there have any respect for axe toting paladins, so you’ll be thoroughly shunned and glared at much to your ease,” said Tells. The paladin quietly agreed and followed the wizard to the mages guild where lunch was already prepared. “You must have arranged ahead,” said Temjin as he sat down across from the argonian. “Is this something serious you needed to speak of?”
“My master foretold that you would uptake a particular quest, annnd he wanted me to join you,” said Tells as he reached over and pulled out a bottle of wine and poured two glasses. “It’s nothing too special as far priority goes. You're after the daedra that have been appearing on the mountainside, and my master wants me to investigate where they're coming from.”
“Oh, well, you didn’t need to treat me to lunch over that,” said Temjin. “That’s not a problem. The mage’s guild does whatever it needs to, they don’t seem to blow anyone up, not criminally often anyway, so yeah, uhhh, daedra search. Whatever you need. So....uh, if that’s settled, might I change the subject? How have you been?”
They toasted wine and chatted of recent events. Tells foretold an adventure in the heart of a cave where his fellow argonians worked to acquire the heart of coral. He and a fellow sword fought off the attacks of an evil battlemage that wanted to claim the heart for the Daggerfall Covenant. When Tells-Long-Stories returned to his master he was praised well shortly before his fiance appeared to scold him for going on such a dangerous mission. Temjin grew quiet as Tells vented about his wife’s intolerance of the mages. She was convinced they all hated her and somewhat thrived in the attention. Meanwhile Tells was trying hard to prove himself to his master so that his master would travel with along with the Guildmaster to Mournhold where all believed the situation was more dire; thus leaving Tells-Long-Stories to continue working out of Davon’s Watch. But, every time he made head way his fiance drummed up trouble with him.
“How am I supposed to marry her like this?” he then complained. “Women, huh? Always trouble. She fears I’ll work too much if I take over things at the guild here.”
“Hmm, can’t say I understand,” said Temjin. “Women can be so very...energetic. They’re wonderfully sharp and I’ve never a dull moment around them.”
“Ahh, that’s right, I nearly forgot. You’ve a wife fighting on the front lines in Cyrodiil. Have you heard from her at all?” asked Tells.
“Aye, she sent word last month. She’s well, though she’s often frustrated with her comrades. She has risen through the ranks swiftly, as befitting of her sharp mind and sharp tongue. She was sent off to war just before we were to leave for our honeymoon,” said Temjin. “So the plan is, I’ll rack up a good savings while she’s away, and when she comes back in a few months I will take her on a long vacation. Somewhere there’s a beach, just not in Morrowind.”
“I pray to your tribunal that she makes it back in good health,” said Tells. “Between your pay and her pay you should be able to buy a house, though, let alone a vacation. Surely your heroics on the home front is paying you well and is just as honorable.”
“Hm. Sort of, and I’m looking into it. But both of us still have a lot we want to do. We’re many years off from buying a house,” said Temjin. “Anyway, thank you for the lunch. But I ought to be going.”
“Hm? Off so soon?” said Tells. “Where to now?”
“To check the mail,” said Temjin.
As Temjin left the Mages Guild he stopped by the door where he left the barrel and the wizard looked on as he hoisted the barrel onto his shoulder and wandered off back into town. As he returned to the main square he joined in the small crowd of women lined up where the couriers pulled their wagon in. Four couriers got out and began delivering packages. One more got out with a stack of letters. He called out the names of everyone present and handed out letters while receiving tips. Temjin waited quietly in the back as the women swooned in relief of hearing from the front lines. Eventually the letters ran out and the courier moved on to helping to hand out packages. The paladin set the barrel down and sifted through all the gifts until he found the wine he had been handed. “Hm, dunno what this is but maybe she’ll like it,” he muttered to himself. He flagged down the courier and paid to have it delivered to her on the front lines. When the courier looked at the name and camp he turned and ran after Temjin before he walked off. “Wait, serja? This camp was destroyed last week. I can’t guarantee your present will make it to her. Do you know if she’s been transferred anywhere? When did you last hear from her?” said the courier.
“I got a letter from her just last month. She said she would be at that camp until they moved it somewhere. Are you sure they didn’t move the camp early or something?” Temjin then asked. “She’s pretty timely about her letters. I expect to see one from her any day now.”
“Hm. In two days another caravan will arrive with more news,” said the courier. “Hopefully you’ll hear then, but, as I said I can’t promise this wine will reach her since the address isn’t valid anymore. I’ll put a notice of forwarding on it, but other than that I can’t promise anything.”
“I...well, do the best you can, if you would,” said Temjin.
The courier nodded and headed off as the wagons pull out again and started off for the next town. Temjin watched them go with a forlorn gaze. He left the barrel of gifts at beggars row before he headed back to the inn and returned to his quarters in the back room. There he removed his armor and traded it for regular street clothes and sat down at a small desk with but a single candle. He pulled out a bundle of letters wrapped in a piece of leather and pulled out the last letter he had received from his wife. As he re-read the letter it confirmed what he knew; a mobile camp that was due to move north in less than a month’s time. ‘Surely they just moved camp, ’ he thought as he gently folded the letter. Even in her letter she advised him not to worry what others would say and the listen most closely to her letters. The war front was an unpredictable, turbulent place and information was only one of the many, many things to get convoluted and mismanaged. She would send word when she could, and she knew which couriers would get the job done for her. “Then I put trust in you, my love. You know what you’re doing out there,” he muttered to himself as he put her letters away. He then pulled out a spare piece of paper and a quill and ink and wrote away; a new letter to his father about a meeting with this crazy thief that fell out of a window and didn’t break his back. He foretold his last adventure out challenging a powerful drauger chief down in an old Nordic crypt, hidden in the mountains of Morrowind that bordered Skyrim. It was an intense battle and he had taken many hits and for the first time in his life he was struck with the power of the Thu’um. He couldn’t understand the words, but it was terrifying to think that the Nords had such power in their blood. The Thu’um hit him like a cold explosion and threw him back across the chamber. It felt like a great force that rattled his armor and pushed on his very bones.
‘Skyrim must be a terrifying place, but I’ve yet to meet a Nord in Morrowind that could use it. They say it arose in the 1st era. And they spoke a legend of a Nord blessed with the blood of a dragon in his veins. They’re not like the dark elves even a little. They’re stubborn and loud, and they have this grit to them. I wonder if a Nord warrior of my level would naturally outclass me just on the sheer ability to take punishment. I’d like to find a Nord warrior of my weight and skill and challenge him to a duel. I’ll definitely let you know how it goes.’
He finished the letter and caught himself smiling somewhat as he folded it and sealed it with a wax stamp. As he rose from his desk he heard a strong knock on the door to his room. He quieted crossed the room and opened the door to see a messenger from the Ebonheart pact. “Uhh....hi?” he asked.
The messenger handed him a note. “From Captain Letrush,” said the messenger. “In two days time he’d like for you to report to his office.”