Chapter 4: Orcish Minds
The Dwarves and I made a modest amount of currency selling pelts, teeth, and scales of different animals along the way towards southern High Rock. Thanks to Zak and Mak, it was an easy sum to come by. Not only are Zak and Mak efficient in archery (which I learned earlier they were taught by Thraendal) but they're trap work is way beyond superb. They caught three bears at once with one bear trap, a pinch of rat meat, and a dragonfly. I don't know how they did it, but if they can they should write a book about it. I can see the cover now: "A Ball of Yarn". The funniest part of the day was when Thraendal was teaching marksmanship to the twins.
"Okay, Dwarves," Thraendal started with racial comments. "Since your kind can't pull, release, stab, grab an arrow, ready your bow, crouch without falling, see through your helmets, or just plain stand, there's a lot to learn about the art of archery. There are a few unwritten rules about the duty of a marksman…"
Zak leans to Mak and whispers with a soft chuckle, "He said duty."
"As I was saying," Thraendal says after clearing his throat. "There are rules for marksmen. Rule number one: Cover each other's asses. The number one reason archer groups get wiped out easily is because they don't cover each other's asses. That covers the unwritten rules." That was very anticlimactic. Luckily, that's not the end of his lesson. He got to the shooting part. Throughout the journey, Thraendal made bows out of hardwood. He gave one to each of the twins and told them to hold it like they would shoot.
"Now," explained Thraendal. "Pull back on the string with your three strongest fingers."
"Ah, fuck. Thrae, I have shit on my string," cried Mak.
Thraendal replied, "Then lick it off." Mak licked it off.
"Hm… that tastes pretty good. Hey Burz, you should come and try this!"
I shook my head and proceeded to examine the rest of the instruction.
We ended up in a small village just east of Markarth. The air was humid and misty. That gave the town a haunting atmosphere. Each of the ten buildings was made of dark splintering wood and rusty nails. There were no windows on any of the buildings except one on the far north side of town. There was a fountain in the center. There was no water and the fountain wasn't functioning. Only one two-story building was present and that was the inn. The town was uninhabited by any people.
Fog started to roll in from all directions. The fog was heavy; however, we could still see each other. Everyone is crowded around the fountain except Zak who is probably chasing a butterfly or something. I hear a scream from the north. Unsheathing my mace, I wave at Krummli to follow me. We try to mark our steps so we know our way back to the fountain. After turning a corner I almost interrupt a feast. Their open wounds are green and purple. Zak's flesh oozes from the jaws of the creatures looking straight up at me with their heavily dilated eyes. Holding back my vomit Krummli screams next to me before getting tackled to the ground. I shove the animal off of the Dwarf and break its neck with my foot. The two faunae kneeling on the ground come toward me and I take both of them out. As soon as I kill the second one, another animal tackles me to the ground. I get surrounded by five of them trying to get past my armor with my back to the ground. Slowly, Thraendal takes all of their lives with his knife and helps me up off of the ground. "Do you know what happened?" he asks.
"No," I said. "I only heard Zak scream. He's dead."
"Yes, I know this."
"I really don't know. We should go find out."
I had run away from the fountain further than I thought. I hear a lot of shoving of metal and men yelling at each other. When Thraendal and I got to the fountain there were bodies everywhere. The two nearest people were Vrummli and Krummli. They were standing back-to-back fighting off the horde. I just kind of froze, I guess. It was rather humorous watching dwarves fight. I watch the father and son fight to protect each other. They constantly bump into one another to ensure the other's safety. Animal after animal they're putting down. Vrummli turns around toward Krummli and cleanly cuts off his head with his own axe. Not know what he had done, Vrummli goes back to fighting. The king gets tackled from behind. My heart sank. Go! I run toward Vrummli and beat the creatures off of him; I help Vrummli up.
Suddenly, a door slams open and a humanly figure steps through the doorway and towards us. "Stop!" she exclaimed. All the fighting is stopped. Even the creatures yield to her voice. "Stop hurting my lovelies!" Touching the heads of a few of the hostile animals, they run into her house and close the door behind them. The woman stands proud while dressed in a one piece low-cut robe with a hood and thin leather boots up to her mid-calf. All of which are black. The woman hides her dark blue hair and her bright blue eyes. She's quite the looker. She sounds like an Ayleid but I honestly don't know what a female Ayleid sounds like. "You're the ones that are causing the havoc?"
"Are you a girl," asked Mak.
"Is there a problem?" the woman said quite firmly. She readied her flames in her hands.
"No, it's just I didn't know girls knew magic."
"Yeah … magic … that's it."
Vrummli butted in. "So they aren't hostile?"
"Well, to you they are. To me, not so much."
"Is there anyone else here?"
"Me and my daughter."
"You should feel grateful we're not spilling your guts all over your walls by now. You're men killed one of mine." I don't know how we're going to break it to him that Krummli died. Vrummli still has no idea on that matter.
"I am deeply sorry, sir. How would you like your payment?"
"Other's blood. Join us and we won't kill you."
"What about my daughter?"
"She can tag along as well, my lady."
"I've always wanted to go on an adventure, but sadly my sweetie doesn't want to go. She said it's dangerous and that my 'magic' isn't that protective. I will go talk to her, though, and see if you guys can change her mind."
As the attractive woman shows off her ass as she walks inside, Vrummli sits down resignedly against the fountain and closes his eyes. Quickly, he shoots up. "Where's Krummli?!" he screamed. Mak points toward the inside of the fountain. "I found part of him, your majesty," he says with a smile. Vrummli shoots himself over the ledge of the fountain and cradles Krummli's body. "Here, milord, you might need this," Mak adds as he tosses Krummli's head to Vrummli. Durk takes the handle to his sword and knocks Mak unconscious.
Vrummli starts to cry heavily as does the sky. I want to cry but I've lived with death so long that I just learned not to care. It's grown to be a bad habit. Well, what do you say to the old man? What the hell?! Don't use that tone. What do you say? "Hey, you, come here," said the woman after opening the door to her house. "Can you tell my daughter what you're here to do?" I look at her with confusion in my eyes, but I go anyways.
Walking into her house is so awkward to me. The last time I walked into an inhabited house was when I was north of Bruma. There were two vampires that go by the names of Janus and Higrid. I'm not sure of their last names because that's all the letters had said. I stormed in at just the right time. They didn't put up much of a fight. Janus was sick and paralyzed and Higrid was a little 10-year-old girl with nothing but a dagger. Needless to say, I got what I wanted.
The mysterious woman's house wasn't as dark as I thought it was. There're lights almost everywhere. Food is on the table. Animals are caged. There's a small balcony where her daughter sleeps. It was pretty much the perfect set up. The woman's daughter had been sitting at the dinner table for nearly an hour that she said. I didn't look up at her daughter until I was told I was allowed. Arkay knows what was set up amongst me. It could be a trap for all I know.
By Dagon, look up, boy! I look up and I see Arenal sitting at the dinner table. I wanted to run up to her but I knew she didn't recognize me. Was it my hair? Was it my age? My armor? My sword? No? My heart was a beating a mile a minute but I made sure to not let them know that. "Why are you nervous? Too much for you to handle?" Arenal asks. Her voice assures me it's her. This angers me greatly while posing so many different questions. Why didn't she tell me back at Pell's Gate? Did she not trust me? Why did Arenal leave Ardanchnzel? In the end, this all means she lied to me my whole life. Everything I thought she was is all what she wasn't. This must also mean that she had an anti-ageing potion and that only means that the Ayleid race is more technologically advanced than anyone thought. God dammit, Arenal, you liar!
"I'm not nervous," I answer.
"Then come; sit."
I calmly walk toward the table and sit in the sturdiest looking chair. "What do you need?"
"What is your purpose for travelling?"
The most obvious answer would be "to save you" but that would be confusing and troubling between us and it might alter the future. Maybe this is how she met the Dwarves and then they found the cave with the Seeress. The look of Arenal's eyes shoot fear into me. The best thing I thought to say was this: "We're trying to find Clan Direnni to help the Ayleids against the Alessian Slave Rebellion. And from what I see that would mean helping you two."
"Are you crazy? We're obviously the superior race," Arenal brags. "What help do we need? By the look of it, you need the most help. With your dark green skin and your monster teeth, I'm surprised you can even speak let alone fight."
Surprisingly, I pull a knife off of the table and press it against Arenal's mouth after looking over to see her mother's absence. "Listen, girl. I know who you are."
"Really?" she struggles. "Then tell me."
"You're name is Arenal. You're mom's name is Myrandis. You've always wanted to become a mage but your slender type gives you more of an edge in stealth type fighting. The Arenal that I know is a master marksman but from the look of it, you can't hold your ground. I'm not a monster, I'm an orc and you'll answer to me. I've killed hundreds of people and I'm not afraid to -" Arenal turns the tables and pins me to the ground with the knife against my throat.
"I've killed hundreds of people and I'm not afraid to kill you, too," she says with her sexy voice. "Say, I kinda like you. It's creepy that you know my secret, but I like you." She gets up off of me, sets down the knife, and adjusts her silky blond hair.
"So," I start. "Where are you from?"
"I guess you should get to know me. I'm from here. Right here, actually. My mom gave birth to me where we're standing." I scoot over a couple feet. "I don't know what to call this place. It doesn't really have a name. Mom calls it Home but I think that's too original. What about you?"
"Oh, I don't know. High Rock I guess. Or Cyrodiil. It's a long story."
"Care to share?"
"As of now, yes, I care." There was a short silence. "So your mom," I continue. "She's a necromancer?"
"Ah, yes. It's always interested me. So has destruction. My father taught me very little destruction when I was a little girl."
"I know you. You have to believe me. We've been best friend since we were little. We would go down to the river and pick out neat looking rocks and kill mudcrabs. Then we'd spy on the Molag Bal cult and get chased by demons."
"Do me a favor and just clear your mind. After your mind is cleared just think about all those thoughts."
I've heard stories that Ayleids could read people's minds but I never thought they were true. I didn't know what else to do so I just did what she said. I thought of all the times we used nirnroot to fish and bring back hundreds of crabs a month for dinner. Then my mind flashed back to when Arenal died. Again, I started to tear up. The axe went through her head in what seemed like slow motion. The look on her face was traumatizing. The grip Malak had on the axe was absolutely constricted. The light from the moons worked as a spot light on them. The blood dripping from the end of the axe. The howls of the wolves coming from the woods. I woke up with tears streaming down my red face. Arenal's face was wet as well as beat red.
"Did all of that really happen?" she asked.
"Yes, it did. I would never forget any of it."
She looked as if she had just seen seven trolls eating a single person. She slowly came to me and hid her face in my shoulder with her arms wrapped around my neck, weeping. I slowly wrapped my arms around her waist and stood there, comforting her. There was a long silence.
"I probably should get going. Are you coming?"
"Are you sure that's all we're doing? We're gonna help Clan Direnni fight off the Nedes and then we're done?"
"No. But you don't have to stick around if you don't want to."
Without speaking, she grabbed her secret stash which consisted of a wooden bow, a quiver of arrows, imperishable food, and a dagger. After that, we walked outside to the fountain hand-in-hand.