The Wrong Side of the Water

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just a quick little fan-fiction story for "The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind" about a week ago to try and help me push through some writer's block.

Submitted: July 02, 2017

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Submitted: July 02, 2017

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It’d been four days since Vodius and his two lackeys had first struck out into the hot, humid, green and brown hell that was Vvardenfell’s Bitter Coast, and they were no closer to catching their quarry than they’d been since they’d left the small fishing village of Hla Oad that rainy Tirdas morning.  Now, as they trudged their way through more of the endless foliage, not far from the muddy shore, they found themselves wondering if they shouldn’t demand that that Suran slaver increase the reward for their trouble.

 

“Shor’s bones Vodius, how much longer are we gonna wander around in this soup?” Sholgeir bellyached as he tried in vain to sop up the sweat on his brow with the already wet sleeve of his jerkin.

 

“As long as it takes, I reckon.  Remember this isn’t any normal Argonian we’re after.  This is Veeus.  Former Fighters Guild, veteran of these swamps, and I’m pretty sure we’re not the first group of mercs he’s had to deal with.  Now quit with the whining and keep your eyes peeled.  I don’t plan on getting a knife in my back.” Vodius replied.  Sholgeir huffed and kicked a few pebbles.

 

Dromen fiddled with the pommel of his sword nervously.  His dark red eyes scanned their surroundings intently, squinting at every rustle of a bush.  “It’s like this place is alive…like we’re fighting this damn jungle too.” he complained.

 

“Yeah, I know, that’s why I hate coming out here.  But gold’s gold, so here we are.” Vodius said.  He then gestured to the sea and scum ponds and cautioned, “Make sure you keep an eye on the water all around us.  Remember who this is.”

 

Sholgeir and Dromen swallowed hard.  Vodius’s words gave all those little ripples and waves new meaning.

 

After a few more hours of plodding along, the fading sun forced them to settle down and make camp.  They decided to hunker down under a large, broad-branched tree not far from the water.  Dromen got a fire going while Sholgeir and Vodius set up the tents, and before long, the trio was munching on nix hound jerky, drinking greef, and playing dice.  They tried to relax some and shot the breeze for a while, but eventually, they decided to get some sleep.

 

Sholgeir took first watch.  He lounged against the tree, twirling his large, bearded battleaxe in his fingers and brushing his long dirty blond hair from his eyes whenever a stray breeze ruffled it.  Every now and then, he’d get up and mill about, hacking plants and vines as he pretended he was doing battle with evil beasts.  He’d hear a particularly loud or distinct crunch in the brush every now and then, but it always turned out to be a rat or a kwama forager or nothing at all.  After a couple of hours, he’d finally had enough of distant roars and moans of animals and the ravenous mosquitoes.  He sleepily rubbed his eyes as he sauntered over to Dromen’s tent.

 

Fading fast, Sholgeir didn’t notice the glass jug sail into Dromen’s tent.  The subsequent shatter got his attention though, as did Dromen’s screams of surprise as he tore out of his tent dancing and punching himself everywhere as he tried to beat off the mess of swamp spiders crawling all over him.  “Don’t just stand there you big oaf, get these things off me!” he shouted at Sholgeir.

 

“What the hell’s going on!?” a startled Vodius demanded urgently as he scampered out of his tent sword in one hand and lightning crackling in the other.

 

A second after Sholgeir went to help Dromen, the big Nord heard faint footsteps behind him that were fast approaching.  He gripped his battleaxe tightly and spun around, but all he saw was a bright flash of light that blinded all three of them.  Then, a sharp pain shot across his throat, and his neck suddenly felt warm and wet.  By the time he realized his throat had been slashed, he lay crumpled on the ground, weakly clawing at the dirt and grass.

 

When the other two regained some measure of sight, Vodius was the first to spot his dying comrade.  “Son of a bitch, it’s Veeus!” he said in half anger and half shock.  “Dromen!  Do you see that fetcher anywhere?” he yelled, wildly looking to and fro.  He placed his hand over his leathered chest where his amulet rested and hastily muttered an incantation.  Moments later, his vision tinted greenish-yellow, and the surrounding darkness lifted.

 

“No, I can’t see a damn thing!” the elf answered with a growl, still shaking spiders off of his pants.  He shook his head and squinted into blackness, but he couldn’t see past the end of the campfire’s light; that flash had destroyed his night vision.  He nocked an arrow and tried to follow the pattering of their enemy’s footsteps with his ears.  “Vodius, you need to be my eyes until mine readjust.  Where is that bastard?” he asked tersely.

 

“I don’t know, I can’t see him…” Vodius said, jerking his head toward every snap of a twig.  After searching vain for a few more seconds, he finally saw the lizard slinking behind a few slough ferns not far from them.  “There he is!” he exclaimed as he shot a couple of lightning bolts the Argonian’s way.

 

The wily lizard scurried away too quickly for Vodius to follow him through the foliage.  Then, the Imperial heard a slosh.  Damn it, he’s in the water.

 

“Where?” Dromen asked, trying to judge his aim from Vodius’s voice.

 

“He was over there in those bushes, but now he’s somewhere in the fucking water!” Vodius answered angrily.  “B’vek…” Dromen muttered as he studied the sea whose waters glimmered with deceptive beauty in the moonlight.  Vodius watched the scum ponds earnestly, occasionally sparking one in an effort to flush Veeus out into the open.

 

After an extremely tense minute, Vodius began to get impatient.  He inched a little farther from the camp, which bothered Dromen.  “Hey, don’t go too far!  We’re dead meat if we separate.” the hunter warned.  But then, like it was rehearsed, a flurry of racing footsteps raced behind Vodius, followed by a wet thump and an astonished yelp.  The man whirled around to see Dromen writhing on the ground with a spear through his gut.  He also glimpsed a mottled blur that skirted the edge of the firelight before diving into the underbrush again.

 

“Shit…” Vodius whispered bitterly.  He warily looked around, but try as he might, he couldn’t keep up with Veeus’s movements.  One moment, the slippery Argonian was crawling through some bushes, and the next, he was peeking up from just below the surface of the water.  Gritting his teeth and racking his brains, the mercenary decided to leave the campfire.  Maybe the asshole doesn’t know I have night-eye.

 

Slowly but steadily, Vodius abandoned the campfire and began creeping through the brush.  His nerves taut as a bowstring, he flinched at everything that sounded remotely like a splash or a footstep – which was to say, everything.

 

But Veeus found him first.  The cunning lizard dashed from the scum pond beside his pursuer, but Vodius’s paranoid ears made him turn just in time dodge the shortsword approaching his neck.  He parried the swing with his sword and tried to return a slash of his own to Veeus’s leg, but the outlaw was too fast.

 

Veeus dove into a scum pond, but Vodius saw him this time.  He prepped a lightning bolt, but just before he could loose it, the Argonian realized his mistake and scrambled out of the pond, causing Vodius to waste his shot.  “Damn it, hold still!” the man yelled in frustration.

 

“What, and ruin the fun?” Veeus taunted.  “You’re hard to get the drop on…you’ve got night-eye, don’t you?”

 

Oblivion take him.  Vodius fired a couple more bolts into the brush.  Eventually, he landed one a little too close for his adversary’s comfort.  Veeus scooped up a rock and hurled it at Vodius, who caught it on his chest.  In the second the man was distracted, the desperate criminal charged him with a savage hiss.  Vodius threw up his sword, which deflected the incoming blow enough to earn him only a cut across his cheek.  He staggered back as Veeus crashed into him, but then he planted his back foot and sidestepped, throwing the lizard off balance.  Vodius slashed and managed to slice the side of his torso.  With a gasp, Veeus grabbed a handful of mud and slung it toward Vodius and then retreated into the brush again.

 

“Not bad, smoothskin.  Maybe this’ll be interesting after all!” Veeus teased.

 

“Get back out here and fight me, damn you!” Vodius ordered to no avail.  He exhaled hard as he tried to think of a new strategy.  He knew he wouldn’t keep getting lucky against Veeus’s ambushes.  But he was out of his element…  The blasted Argonian was right at home out here, and if it came to it, he could just disappear into the sea and swim away as soon as he had a clear shot.  The water…the water…

 

Vodius’s brow shot up in epiphany.  The water!  He had a plan for his slick foe.  However, Veeus had one to match.  The outlaw was hunkered behind a tree, pooling his little remaining magicka into a silence spell.  He was weary and loath to keep trying his luck against the slavehunter’s lightning.  If he could just buy enough time to vanish into the sea, he could leave the landlubber miles behind.  He peered around the tree at Vodius, who was carefully looking around, awaiting the next ambush.

 

When the Imperial’s back turned to him, Veeus flew toward him, sacrificing stealth for speed.  The gambit almost betrayed him, but Vodius turned a half second too late to dodge the green ball of energy that sped toward him.  But, when it struck him, a purplish-white flash streaked over him instead of the energy of the spell.  Veeus, too focused on escape to notice the mercenary’s curious reaction to the spell, slashed at him with his shortsword.  Vodius countered but slid from the force of his charge thanks to the damp earth.  He lost his balance and fell back on his rump.  When he saw Veeus sprinting for the sea, he sprung his trap, flinging a big orb of purple light toward the fleeing outlaw.

 

The spell hit its mark.  When Veeus felt the spell hit him, he was confused, but he kept running.  When reached the water’s edge, he dove.  But, instead of slipping below, he face-planted into the surface.  Dazed and bewildered, he desperately clawed and dug at the water, trying to pierce the perplexingly unforgiving surface.

 

And then, it dawned on him.  Horrified, he looked behind him and saw Vodius bounding toward him.  The lizard stood and tried to run, but there wasn’t anything to shelter him this time.  Vodius shot a fierce bolt of lightning toward him, striking him square in the back.  The Argonian let out a hissed cry as the ruthless current coursed through his body, offering no respite as it grounded into the sea.  By the time the electricity had dissipated, the outlaw and runaway slave was a smoking corpse floating lifelessly in the water.

 

Vodius collapsed exhausted against a rock.  As he sat there, sucking in gulps of briny nighttime air, he thought foremost about how grateful he was to still be alive.  Then, he thought about how many zeroes that slaver should add to the amount of septims he owed him.  Not to mention about how being born under the Atronach had saved the day for him yet again.  And, of course, chuckling with wonder all the while…he pondered how often he’d used that water walking spell for its usual purpose over the years…and how frightened that son of a netch must’ve been when he discovered the other side of that tricky coin.

 


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