Private Compromised Divinity

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    A Rotten Scroungeral

    Masterminded by: CapObvious and Hlif'Ulfr

    The inn was silent, bereft of any movement as the old man spoke. His words weaved around them like the warmth from the fireplace positioned behind him, warming them all both in body and in spirit. The people watched in a silent curiosity, the wisdom the man had begun to impart intriguing them. The man had let loose whispers of a secret threat, something lingering in the dark that awaited the perfect moment. Whether they believed him or not, they listened regardless, ready to see what the old man was all about.

    “War. The world always seems to be at war. Seemed like yesterday it was simply man against elf. Dominion against Empire. One group of supremacists demanding the other fall to their superiority, to declare their supremacy. It was always the same. Dullards too big for their silken robes, overtaken by greed, pride, what have you. Always wanting more. Though the days of the great war are long past, another cause has risen. Another banner raised in stark defiance, another wave of fresh-faced lads and ladies rushed to their early graves for squabbles that had resulted from the war before. Should this man who had ascended above the others be proclaimed a god, or is his claim of divinity a farce?

    Then another query rises to greet the first. Does it truly matter? It’s only an excuse to spill more blood and weaken an already belabored people, draw them further into submission to those who would come to overtake us when we are down, kick us when we show them our fragility, when the fight has been stripped from us and we are broken. Is there no end to this? Is war all there is in this life? A constant struggle to attain more, whether it be knowledge, wealth, or even power. Surely this cannot be all we are here to create.

    Though the evidence only proves this fear to be a fact.

    Even now, while this war for “independence” is waged on Skyrim’s already weathered soil, there is something drawing upon the chaos it sows. This force does not wear the face of any enemy our world has faced before. This is no man, no elf and no beast. At least, not any longer. It and the dark forces it commands are growing in strength while our people are instead fighting one another. Focused on such minor offenses when the world is in grave danger! It’s shadow creeps over us now as we sit in this infernal den of iniquity. A great creature, created from a pact with the devils we fear. Grown to immense strength, then cast aside when the gods themselves drew back in utter horror at the monstrosity they had created. He is here! Now! Listening to our every word, drawing his strength from our division, building his army in the shadows while we are busy floundering in the light! Our focus deterred from the true threat to us as a people while he waits for his moment to strike! Surely there must be someone who can see that we are in terrible-”

    “Quiet you old fool. That’s more than enough of your fear mongering. You’re scaring the children.” The stubborn old man heard from behind him, causing him to turn aggressively to it’s source from behind the inn’s counter. As his eyes caught the face of the owner’s torchlit visage, his eyes tightened with a pronounced squint, not a word spoken while the woman continued to allay any concern he had attempted to put into the people who had gathered around him, clinging to his every word. “There is no great creature among us. Just a codger who wants to scam you out of your hard earned septims. Ignore him, go back to your drinking, let this old bastard talk himself to death alone.”

    The old man let loose a great harumph as he stood to his feet uncharacteristically, the chair once beneath him quickly scraping across the floor behind him. His hands dropped to his waist in clenched fists, his brow bent into a darkened scowl.

    “I will not be spoken of as if I am a fool! The creature is real! He is alive and well, ready to feast upon our souls, devour our flesh, and rise to rival any god you and your hoodlum friends whisper to before you slumber. He is coming to destroy us all. Just. You. Wait.” This warning was once again ignored, the people who had once listened intently now going back to their business, their interest in the old man’s story long since forgotten. He grumbled fiercely beneath his breath, grabbing his satchels and storming toward the tavern door. As he reached the door he stopped short, his hand inches from the door handle. With a grunt he spun on his heel, turning to look out among those who had dismissed him so easily, clearly not finished with them.

    His voice rang out through the den as he passed, the words he spit out with such indignation bringing a chill to those who listened.

    “Fools. The lot of you. Even now as the world falls around your feet, you will wait until you are crushed beneath the rubble before you take heed the words of your elders. Typical. We will see, when the creature along with his vast legions that he will soon command, will be picking the flesh of those same fearful children from their teeth with your bones.” Before another word could be said the man turned and left, the bitter cold that the inn had all but halted once again wakening the drunken louts who were now chuckling at the man’s last words.

    How foolish they would feel, when they found that the man’s silly tales were instead prophecy. That as they drew upon their company and their ale, each laugh and word they shared amongst them would be their last. For as the world around them flowed like every day before, something stirred in the depths intent upon shattering the balance, ready to finally lay claim to the world it had promised itself, and then been denied by those who had feared it.

    The creatures arrival was nigh, and his first lesson would be swift. Those who dare mock, or deny him the respect he has long deserved, will feel his wrath upon them as he dashes them against the stones, then again, as he ground their bones to dust.

    They would soon know the name of this creature, and with it, soon know the true meaning of fear.

    And with that, Welcome to Compromised Divinity!
    Please note that this rp will contain adult themes, such as blood, violence, death and much more. That said, reader discretion is advised, and we suggest that only those of the ages 18 and above peruse this content.

    And now, a word from our lovely authors:

    Hello all! This roleplay is a collaborative effort between myself and Hlif'Ulfr. As such, while we appreciate any interest in the story, we are not currently, nor will we ever be, looking for any additional writers or characters to fill any gaps or roles. While I’m sure your lovely paladin is just fantastic for this, or you know this one writer who made this sick mage you may or may not have created a fanclub for, we simply are uninterested in having anyone else join us in this venture. Any and all attempts to include yourself in this journey will be met with fierce resistance, including, but not limited to, close proximity dramatic screaming, being chased from our lawn by a freaky Gramos, or being subjected to wee-woos of the amberlamps until your ears bleed. We are not responsible for any physical harm brought upon you by these horrific responses, as warning was indeed given up top. You signed the waver, you paid the fee. IT’S ON YOU. That being said, thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy reading our latest turmoil-riddled adventure.

    Character List:


    Falco Loran
    Na'ima at-Akim
    Sebastian Laurent
    Amris Benoch

    @Hlíf 'Ulfr
    Etheril "Ther" Matius
    "Sera" Naide Sil Ka’im
    Last edited:


    A Rotten Scroungeral
    The Frozen Hearth Inn was abuzz as people began to pour in for the evening. The tables were all but filled, the barmaids scurrying about the place in what could only be described as a controlled terror. Whether they were not used to the influx of patrons or were simply just overwhelmed was anyone’s guess, however, as one flustered maid called for another to simply grab, “the bucket” following a rather grotesque retching sound, it seemed they had at least gotten it down to some sort of workable routine.

    However, the last few nights were nothing like the regime they had grown accustomed to. Long gone were the days where the patrons simply drank and muttered about the college and lost glories and the cold and whatever typical idle nonsense flowed between them. The last few nights had been the cause of sleepless nights, paranoia and a deeply felt mourning. These were no longer people focused on the the usual flirting and fighting and such. No, this was a tavern of people all trying to forget. Forget the terrors that lurked outside the tavern walls. The terrors that could be lurking in their own homes as soon as they depart. There was truly no telling what was to come when the sun rose once more. Would they even awaken, would they lose a neighbor, a daughter, a husband. They tried to enjoy what time they had left, because tomorrow was no longer guaranteed.

    That’s why, there was some small hope when a group of mercenaries finally answered the pleas of the local Jarl, and had made their way into that very inn. Reveling among them were men and women that belonged to one of the more diverse and fairly decorated companies that had walked Tamriel. Led by one Falco Loran and Na’ima at-Akim, The Silver Star had promised that they would bring an end to the tragedies that plagued Winterhold, and had asked if there were any who would join them to rid their town of these horrors that lurked in the shadows. It seemed however, that they might be on their own…


    “You’re going to turn me away, just like that?” A scraggly looking nord scoffed, baffled by the quick dismissal. “Yep.” Falco replied matter of factly. “Just like that.” The young mans’s brow furrowed, gauging his surroundings before leaning in to speak again. “You’ve seen what you’re up against, you’ve seen what they’re capable of, you come here looking for help, and you deny the only one with the stones to come up and offer his aid?”

    Falco’s eyes did not return to the boy, instead gazing over the crowd who flashed glances in their direction but made no move to introduce themselves. They remained cowering at their tables pumping themselves full of mead, ale, whatever it took to forget the images that no doubt haunted them. He didn’t blame them, honestly he was thankful for it. Had it been such a simple affair the town would not have needed their services, or paid nearly as handsomely to see the job done. He continued to stare into the crowd as he spoke again but returned to the topic at hand. “I’m afraid having the stones won’t keep those beasts from feasting on your innards, kid. They know it, even if you don’t.”

    The boy grunted and slammed the table with his fist, his face now inches from the man he had assumed to be their leader. “Do not call me kid, I am not-” His outburst was interrupted by a dagger stabbing into the table between his fingers. His eyes darted swiftly to a female redguard who met his furious gaze with one of her own. “They’ll be calling you dead if you lose your head so easily on the battlefield. You are unfit to be facing such creatures if you can’t control your emotions. You’d be a danger to everyone around you, but also yourself. I will not allow it. Go home, child.” At first he showed no signs of relenting, but the growing anger in the eyes of the redguard was enough to force him to relent. With a huff he jumped from his seat and made for the tavern door. “May you all be devoured by creatures of the night.” He growled under his breath as he tossed himself into the door and made his way out. As he crossed the threshold, his frustration melted briefly, catching sight of a lively young woman near bouncing in his direction, hand outstretched to catch the door. The nord stepped to the side, propping the door open for her to enter. She met the gesture with a sweet smile, nodding her thanks as she entered the inn and he let the door close behind him. Letting out a deep sigh, he tightened the collar of his cloak and made his way back home, still cursing the pair of sellswords in his mind.

    Falco sighed, resting his forehead onto the palm of his hand. Na'ima sheathed her dagger and spoke softly. “You made the right call, Falc. He’ll thank you later.” Falco chuckled softly before reaching for his drink. “I’m not so sure. The boy looks like he knows how to hold a grudge. Kinda like someone else I know…” The table shifted forward with a belabored groan as the she shoved Falco, bringing forth a knowing smirk. “He was right about one thing though. There really has been quite the lack of volunteers. Even with the pay we posted…” He glanced to the bar again, taking note of the newest entrant. Taking the moment to examine her armor Falco nearly missed another voice rising above the the dull roar of the inn’s patrons, this one belonging to Amris, the bosmer sitting to his left.“I think we have more than enough hands already, to be honest. We need only wait for the healer we sent word for, and I feel we’d be more than ready.” Falco didn’t respond right away, still transfixed by the woman who had made her way to the barbeep.

    She stuck out enough on her own, her demeanor far more vibrant than the bland individuals crowded around her. The soft smile she wore simultaneously lifting the spirit of those who caught her eye and yet also seemed to show just how dismal the atmosphere had felt before her arrival. She could not have been here long, to have wandered in without a care in the world. However, it wasn’t merely her behavior that drew attention. Truly an enigma, she seemed to be a walking contradiction. She donned custom silver plate, intricately detailed with floral decorum, vines lining the edges, over top black dyed cloth. The woman had to be covered head to toe in buckles and clasps as the armor that had been no doubt specially tailored for her and her alone fitted close and snug and provided what could only be the best . While that alone was not too out of the ordinary, the contradiction came when Falco took note of her weapon of choice. Against the shine and grandeur of her attire, strapped to her back, was a simple wooden staff, while made of what had to have been fine quality lumber, it was still out of place, not just at a contrast with the armor, but the woman who wore it. He could tell that someone like her could couldn’t possibly be ordinary in any way.

    Before he could acknowledge Amris’ comment, he noticed that the barkeep had begun pointing in their direction. A brief moment of confusion overcame him, but then it all became clear. Falco whispered to the table, leaning forward to face the woman who began her approach. “We might not even need to wait that long, it seems.”

    Hlíf 'Ulfr

    Nothing but a lyre
    Staff member
    “Well, what I’m really looking for is a little excitement.” her smile twisting into an impish grin only to quickly fade to a more demure expression.

    “Another adventurer, eh?” came his reply, a cookie-cutter response paired with a dry grunt which made her want to pout.

    Maybe he was boorish, she thought to herself, or maybe he wasn't in the mood to play her games. More accurately, she deduced from the way he slumped, he didn't have the energy for it. Looking him over she had her doubts that he would have been able to keep up with her even under better circumstances, not that she could blame him for that. She rallied herself and began her assault anew, this time with a different approach.

    “That was terribly vague of me wasn't it? I’m sorry, let me start over. I’m a healer, and a good one at that, an adventure as well I suppose you could say. You weren’t wrong there.” She stated coyly before punctuating her point with laughter. “Usually I’m travelling with a group, sleeping under the stars, chasing treasure, glory, adventure but now I find myself alone in Winterhold. I’m looking to fix that. Tell me is there anything you could recommend for someone like me, or have or have I fallen from favour?”

    He took a moment to look her over, running his calloused hand through his beard and rubbing his chin. She wasn't completely sure that she appreciated the way he looked down his hooked nose as his eyes slid over her armour as if he was measuring her up against some image in his head but the smile on her face never dulled. Fortunately, it was not long until he crossed his arms in front of his chest and nodded with conviction.

    “Aye, I believe I have something that might interest you.” He leaned in as he spoke, lowering his voice but gesturing openly as he went “A group came in earlier, not regular townsfolk or travellers by the looks of them. I’ve been told they’re waiting for a healer but he hasn't arrived as of yet and I imagine they’re growing weary of waiting. With some luck, you might be able to convince them to take you on."

    With eyes sparkling gleefully Ther turned to follow the outstretched pointing finger of the Nord. She scanned the room, looking over the heads of those huddled closely to the bar cradling their mead and ale. The tavern boasted an impressive crowd, large enough that it complicated the simple task of finding the small group. Apprehension quickly built in her chest, holding her breath captive while her eyes flitted quickly from face to face. She was about to turn tail and ask the barkeep for some kind of guidance when finally she met his gaze.

    Something clicked, and she responded promptly with a smile. From a distant corner across the room, a man with frosty green eyes and an impressive scar appeared to have been watching her. Gathered around him huddled a sundry collection of mer and man talking intently amongst themselves, most notably an alluring redguard woman, but even she could not keep the imperials attention. This man, whoever he was, seemed to be at their helm and at that moment she had eyes for him alone. There was no question in her mind that she had found what, or for whom she had been looking. Afterall she trusted her gut with unshakable confidence, even to a fault, especially when it came to handsome strangers.

    “Thank you for your help” the imperial called absently to the barkeep as she ducked to collect her belongings. “I’ll come to collect on that offer of mead some other time.”

    A wave of golden strands cascaded over her shoulder and jumped in a lively manner as Ther brought herself upright with one fluid almost bouncy movement. Hoping to capture her moment she waited impatiently for a patron to push past her, wedging himself into her newly vacated place at the bar before gliding forward. Excitement bubbled up as she allowed her mind to wander, sidestepping each rowdy reveller with general ease.

    A sly smile slipped across her face as she drew nearer, she could feel the eyes of the group falling upon her and appreciated the already attentive way their leader looked on. She could tell by the way his eyes shone that she was not alone in her attraction, it was a mutual feeling. It bolstered her already exceptional confidence meaning that by the time she reached the group the feeling seemed to roll off of her in excess.

    “I pray you’ll forgive my intrusion,” She said warmly, wholeheartedly believing that they would do just that “but I have been lead to believe that your party has been in search of a healer. Well, more accurately that the healer you contracted lacks in certain departments, of course, I’m referring to the fact that he has been negligent in his attendance. A true shame for him, although I’m hoping fortunate for us. I’m getting ahead of myself though, allow me to introduce myself. You may call me Etheril, or Ther if you’re feeling friendly, and it just so happens that I am a healer.”


    A Rotten Scroungeral
    As she would approach, Amris too would begin to inspect her. Elven eyes pierced her as if he were attempting to read her thoughts and intentions from one studious gaze. Whether he could or not was irrelevant, Amris just felt he knew trouble when he saw it, and that smile she bore as she approached, and the eyes she made at the other man at the table was more than enough to elicit an eye roll from him.

    Just what they needed, another unknown, not to mention one that seemed more than willing to wear her…interest so plainly. That, or perhaps it was mere manipulation? Gauging the woman from a distance could only go so far, and loathe as he was to admit it, he knew he would need to hear her speak, learn her intentions from her own lips before he could truly pass judgment. Not that it was ever a problem for Amris, he was ever prepared to do so, and as far as first impressions went, she had already made herself look downright unwelcome in his eyes. A reasonable sort would perhaps see this as far too harsh. But Amris felt he had seen her type before, and was already prepared to deny her at the first opportunity.

    The woman then introduced herself, and all began to fall into place. The range of reactions from the table as the one calling herself Ther were mixed, that much was plain. For Na’ima, it was a blink, maybe two as her eyes focused on the new arrival, before settling over her features more thoroughly, inspecting. She was a lovely thing, Na would say that much, she had no qualms about being forward. “Well now, quite the confident one, aren’t we?” She began, sitting back in her chair and looking her over. It would seem the attraction was perhaps not only coming from Falco, perhaps Ther would only eat this up should she discover it, or perhaps not. Time would tell. “I always did like confidence in hires, would not agree, ‘boss’?” She muttered with a nudge of her arm into his.

    Falco, eyeing the woman to his right with a raised brow, felt his eyes close as he gave the lowest of chuckles, air blowing out his nostrils in a humored huff. “It is a good step, that much is true, but not to mention a healer besides.” He leaned forward further, elbows on the table as he brought one of his hands to his chin, and took his turn to gaze upon the newest arrival. “I suppose our mutual friend,” He paused, pointing to the barkeep before continuing. “Let you know of such a vacancy in our little troupe already, yes? Or perhaps the gods are good and have deemed us worthy of sending a chosen our way without even asking.” He chuckled, shaking his head as he sat back. “But it is good to meet you Ther. You can call me Falco. The charmer here is Na’ima…” He thumbs toward the redguard with a smile, before turning to his other side to continue. “And this one here is- -” The wood elf cut him off, shaking his head immediately. “Unimpressed.” He muttered, taking the offered introduction to instead express his thoughts. He had clearly made his mind up already. “Were that mutual friend of ours more, well, reliable, he would have not have torn down said healer as he mentioned them to you. The man we expect is more than enough to handle this quest. You are not needed.” He muttered, his tone turning to disinterest the longer he spoke. Falco’s brow furrowed as he turned to look upon him, and Amris shrugged. “First pretty thing walks into this bar and you’re dropping it all to welcome her, perhaps I am dealing with mere children after all.” He retorted, unapologetic. “Think with your head, and not your nethers…lest you die and lose the chance to use them.” He muttered in disgust, reading Na’ima’s attraction plainly, but perhaps making an assumption of Falco. Who knew, truly? The boy was never one to make himself plain by his face alone. Sebastien, who had rested silently beside them, finally spoke up. “I agree, I believe we should honor our agreement, and wait for the other to arrive, at the very least. To waste his trip here so earnestly would prove disastrous, especially were we to pull from this pool of recruits again, hmm?”

    Sebastien, the stalwart silver fox, was ever the more diplomatic of the two, even in his disapproval. But both Amris and Falco could see the conflict that Seb had for the girl, and both responded to it predictably. “Two yea’s, two nays…” Amris began, shifting in his seat as he crossed his arms. “Seems the old man and I are not won over by batting eyes, at least…what of you two, hmm?”

    Falco, sighed deeply, heavily. This was posturing, in his mind. Amris was always up front about his thoughts, whether warranted or not. Sebastien was always more veiled, cryptic, but he was right about some things. Alas, he was wrong here, and Falc made sure to express it.

    “We do not have such a wealth of recruits and time that we can simply ignore help when it is offered.” He began. “Pragmatism says we need the aid, we have little time to deal with the threat, and at this point, the two of you are stalling.” He eyed them both. “I like to imagine myself a good judge of character, and I believe she is capable. I say we take her, while she is so kindly offering, and refrain from passing petty judgments on strangers that offer it…are we in agreement?”

    Amris did not buckle, nor unfold his arms, it was clear his opinion remained, but he had wasted enough air on it. Sebastien, looking upon Falco’s conviction, took a moment, then spoke. “No, you are right, boy. We need help, whether we know the source of it or not.” He eyed the girl, giving her a polite nod. Falco turns to look at her, as does Na, who shows a bit of a more mischievous grin. Falco nods at the assessment, not meeting Amris’ gaze which was now squarely on him. Na spoke candidly, smirking at Amris. “Look at that, no more deadlock. Now we can move on, aye?” Amris rolled his eyes again, standing. “I need a drink. Can already feel the regret pooling in my throat like bile.” He muttered, stepping out from behind the table, and off to the bar, while Falco gestured to the open seat before them on the opposite side of the table. “Ther, get comfortable, if you would, while we get you that drink. I believe we have much to discuss, and if there is more to you than a sales pitch, I would like to hear it.” Na, sitting up, seemed all the more interested. Seb continued to eye the girl, keeping his thoughts as his own as he waited for her to speak more on her skills.

    While not unanimous, it would seem she was now part of the team, for better or for worse.

    Hlíf 'Ulfr

    Nothing but a lyre
    Staff member
    She was as practiced at holding a smile as warriors in a wall of shields holding a line, pushing their enemies into rivers of their own blood and defeat. It was a nuanced and delicate skill, mastered and worthy of the most complex diplomatic exchanges and put to very good use as she listened to the proceedings. Of course, she had given an appreciative and appropriately flattered look to the redguard who had both complimented her introduction and given her a very thorough look over moments after her approach. She had become somewhat used to it as it was, having moved from one group to another with relative frequency. There was often judgment of her appearance, be it open appreciation or suspicion. She was glad at least that on this particular occasion it was a beautiful woman who seemed so appreciative of her presence. Her smile then had been genuine, as it was even more so as their leader spoke.

    Hearing him refer to her as “a chosen” was a particularly wonderful compliment, though he could not know of its validity she appreciated his generosity towards her. Her eyes made certain to communicate this in a manner that could be construed as no more than friendly. Still, it was a powerful thing. It was a look that others often seemed compelled by as if it was a symbol of her own approval and pure innocent happiness. It had often been sought after by those that wished to please her, a strange and often treacherous addiction. It was in this moment simply well-meaning and earnest, devoid of any implications it may have held in the past.

    “It is my greatest fortune to meet you, both of you.” she crooned sweetly between introductions before the pleasantries met with an all too early demise.

    Internally the words that followed were like vinegar to milk, curdling her sunny disposition and leaving a sour taste in her mouth. A volley of flippant judgment clattered against the armor of her friendly visage, unsuccessful but still very much felt. It always surprised her, no matter the number of times that she had faced such a thing, that others could be so quick to judge and hate her for the shape the gods had crafted and the goodwill she carried within it. It was insulting and short-sighted, ignorant beyond that. With his words, he quickly reduced her to a piece of meat, worthy and seeking nothing but the physical attraction of others. How could one person be only that? How could he be degrading and cruel? He was so willing to spit upon the worth of a stranger. She had no respect for such things, it brought out her spite and focused her. Should this group take her on there was no doubt she would exact some kind of vengeance, punishment. It was her nature.

    For the time being, however, she held fast to her warm demeanour. If anything she appeared slightly bemused and utterly unshaken. The old man's words were heard but hardly registered. She took in their meaning as well as what was behind them and that was enough. She would not inject herself into their argument, they would have her or they would not. They were just another adventure, after all, she would leave them in her own time for another. For Ther there was always another opportunity around the corner, or at least the combined power of her optimism and previous life experience had long ago convinced her of such.

    "….are we in agreement?”

    As things settled she returned the only greeting she was likely to receive from the older gentleman in kind, offering a nod. She knew without any shadow of a doubt where she stood with each individual and with this in mind proceeded. Petty judgments Falco had said and right he was, endearing himself even more in the imperial's eyes. Should he return the attraction or not he had made a positive first impression. Both rational and gratuitous he seemed fit for his role as leader, time would tell the rest. Na’ima on the other hand would not be so hard to illusive. The wolfish grin and devious glimmer in her eyes told Ther so much. Her final conclusion concerning the bosmer could be easily summarized by her retort to his final words. As he left, muttering about bile and a drink came the thought I hope you choke on it.

    “You are too kind.” She replied instead to Falco, letting the cad slip from her mind as she found her seat. “I had no intention of creating such a disturbance, I am glad of the result, however.”

    “I shall start at the most natural point which is of course the beginning.” She joked after exchanging some pleasantries and complementary words with the two youngest members “I hail from Cyrodil, as might have been anyone's guess. Quite an unremarkable origin for an imperial such as myself, but unlike others, much of my experience comes from beyond its borders. I’ve been called a wanderer more than once, by a good handful of people and it's likely a fairly accurate description. I learned to heal in my youth under the tutelage of a Mara devotee which started me on the path I follow today. However, I’ve always had an insatiable need to learn, I adore a challenge and as I ventured out I learned many skills. I’d be remiss not to mention them to you, though you say you are not looking for a pitch, I’d like to offer you some confirmation that your excellent judgment of character remains ever accurate.”

    Her words wove a lively and impressive tale as she described her various skills. It became clear without being explicitly indicated that she was not a simple healer. Interweaving many schools of magic she had created a system, a network of spells and plans with which to fall back on and provide support for her companions. It seemed a sort of passion of hers as her eyes lit up as she spoke of it, overtaken by the feeling that came with a true calling. She moved skilfully forward, detailing her desire to constantly seek growth and thus explaining the many groups she had aided along the way. They were of all renowned, small and unknown, or of high repute; she spoke of them with the same regard. With them she offered small personal anecdotes, proving indirectly that she knew these individuals personally and did not only list names in hopes of gaining standing herself. It was all rather neat and tidy, and as she reached the end of her concise speech she looked at each face pleased with what she had put forward.

    “Forgive me if it seems I have given this speech before, it is not my first time introducing my skillset to a new party.” She leaned back casually, a pouch at her waist clinking gently as its contents adjusted with her. “I’m sure you have one of your own. Few recruit a healer when they are not expecting injury after all. I’m keen to hear it when the time is right and the ears are fewer, though I should say before we go further that I would not participate in anything untoward. You do not strike me as the kind, but it would ease my mind to hear it from you.”

    The answer, whatever it was, would of course inform her but also give her the chance to examine the others and the dynamic more closely. She settled in, like a cat in a warm windowsill, pleased and full of joy for the warmth however short-lived it may be.


    A Rotten Scroungeral
    "Now now." Falco began, a careful hand raised in protest. "That sounded almost too close to an apology." He said with a wry smile. "You didn't cause any disturbance. Amris is set in his ways, jumps to conclusions on people much too quickly...not to mention he is just a bit of a right bastard." He gave her a moment to take her seat, adjusting in his own to sit more comfortably. The tone was set for this, interview of sorts, as he wanted it to remain casual. He knew that people were far more open when they didn't feel they were staring down the business end of an arrow or blade, and perhaps a little more careless. Should she be of no use, she had the chance to perjure herself, and Falco could step away from it guilt free. Alas, he had one of his good feelings about this one, and Ther was ticking all the boxes. He leaned back, giving a comforting smile as he attempted to level the playing field. "So, I'll let you decide where to start. What should we know about you?"

    As the prospective member began to say her piece, Falco made good on his word about that drink. A tap to the arm of Na'ima was enough, though his eyes were thoroughly trained on Ther. Falco listened, seeming to weigh her words and introduction intently, thoughtfully. At points, there was a curl at the corners of his lips as he listened, points where he felt he had seen her peer from underneath her descriptions, where that confidence and character peeked through as if it were the morning light. The flattery at the end was a nice touch, whether it was hollow to get into his good graces or not, however, he allowed to remain a mystery. It was a first meeting, he wouldn't take it personally. He would do the same if needed. At the mention of his judgement of character being keen, he eyed the others, a slight raising of his brows before looking back to her. "So it would seem." He said in return.

    Falco continued to listen while she spoke of her skills, when the barmaid arrived. As she approached, Na'ima spoke in softer tones, handing some coin over. Given the amount, there was no doubt it was enough for a round. Were there any concern that Ther was not among the list, the wink that Na would give during a lull in the conversation should their eyes meet would perhaps be reassuring.

    Taking a moment to settle in after the drinks arrived, Falco rose to divvy them out amongst the group, planting each as he began his reply. "People like us are used to having to explain ourselves time and again, for a multitude of reasons. Think nothing of it." He let ride out on a wry chuckle. "That said, it is quite the impressive set of skills. A healer we needed, but with you it seems we have happened upon far, far more." He handed her drink to her last, before settling down and taking his own, and giving her a bit of a raise of his glass. "Perhaps I will have to thank Mara the next time I send thoughts her way." He smirked, though it was well intentioned, not intent of mocking her. After a drink, he continued. "As to our line of work, I do not think you will need to fret. We're not in the business of the untoward. Especially not with this current task." His face sobered a bit, and he eyed Ther carefully. "Have you heard any word of the trouble in town? This talk of beasts?" Na'ima noticeably seemed to sit upward, seeming almost eager. The old breton, sitting still as a statue as he had listened prior, did the same, though his was more somber, as he thought back on that nasty business. Amris, conveniently returned to the table just in time, though made it plain he was keeping Ther at more than arm's length as he stepped around her to take his seat. Petty bastard.

    "The Jarl of Winterhold tasked us with dealing with this business, though we have precious little to go on." He continued. "We were offered to see the remains of those who fell victim, should it be of any use to us, though I'll leave that up to the group if that is something we'd want to do before hand. I know some of us would rather get straight to work." He eyed Na carefully before sighing. "Even without the bodies, I've heard plenty of tales just sitting here in earshot, and knowing that we're in the jarl's service has only gained us more. Cant be sure what is good and what is hearsay, so it might do us well to go straight to the source, and plan accordingly. Speak to the Jarl and his court face to face. Besides, I have a feeling they were holding back a few details...perhaps to not scare the public." Sebastien nodded, as did Amris. After a moment, Falco eyed Ther carefully. "If you see something you don't like over there, or you get cold feet, there's no shame in taking a moment to rethink this. Given how you spoke of your skills, I doubt it even crossed your mind, but, I do want that option to remain open if needed." Falco looked down into his cup, blinking slowly as he pondered. "I won't deny anyone that choice."

    "That said, we better get moving along. There's a list of casualties I'd like to cut short." He took one last drink, before placing the mug back on the table. "Are we ready?"

    Hlíf 'Ulfr

    Nothing but a lyre
    Staff member
    As the drink was placed in front of her Ther lifted her chin and caught Falco's eyes, mouthing words of appreciation as to not interrupt him as he spoke. None could say she lacked manners, or that she was not capable of brandishing them when she wished. A remnant of an old life that was more farce than fact and long faded into memories. It did not cross her mind, as she lifted her glass and nodded warmly, in turn, to think back on what had so clearly shaped her. Instead, she laughed girlishly as Falco spoke of Mara, wondering what other thoughts had reached her on Thers behalf.

    “At times we are given not what we want,” she began tossing a momentarily playful yet smug look towards Amris “but instead what we need, the gods are wise. Besides, I am sure we are all more than we appear. In any case, I am glad to have pleased you, I hope that the sentiment will only grow as you see my skills at work.”

    She took in a portion of the drink, letting the cool liquid wash over her pallet. She found the expression of the various Nordic drinks interesting and thought on the qualities within. It was no fine wine, as she may have preferred to ale or the sweetness of mead but it was enjoyable all the same. She wondered again after the strange juniper elixir once shared around a fire some months passed, but let it vanish from her mind. Nodding politely she waited and was soon rewarded with an intriguing morsel of the adventure that lay before them.

    With ears and hearing intact it has become impossible to go without being told of such things.” The imperial added causally “Fear breeds gossip, truth or not there is something behind it.”

    As Falco continued Ther’s interest had been confirmed, the whole thing tasted deliciously of adventure. Secrets and danger tangled into conspiracies, people of repute hiring outside men and holding on to bodies; it only served to mount her excitement. She made no move to seem sullen as others might have, her willingness and desire to move forward burning in her eyes overriding any interest she had in the party members individually. This is exactly what she had hoped for. The only thing that could make this better is if one of the group members offered to teach her a new skill… perhaps an instrument this time around.

    “You have seen the truth of things Falco, I am not one to run from danger. Healing often requires you to run towards it, into the face of pain and injury that would turn stomachs. At least, this is what I have found.” She paused now grinning “I doubt it will be anything of the kind that encourages my leave. I do not bind myself to a group in any case, so it is good that you have this view.”

    As the others began to rise Ther sat for a moment, taking in the frothy golden ale. She watched innocently as the party members took their leave in turn, hiding a deviously pleased grin as Amris trudged and shoved ahead to reach the door. It seemed that fate was in her favour. Searching for Falco she gave him a meaningful look before giving all attention to her belongings gathering them carefully. It was her intention that it would give her just enough space from the others to speak to him alone, and it looked as if she would get her way. Lifting herself once more she began to make her way to Falco with all the angelic sweetness of a lamb and a meek smile painted across her face.
    Last edited:


    A Rotten Scroungeral
    Falco could only be thankful as she seemed only spurred on by the mention of the dangers, once again his gut steering him true. In truth, he was quite taken with this Ther, and he certainly could see only positives in her presence amongst them. That said, he didn’t make it this far without being careful, and while he was grateful for her aid, and fresh demeanor, he knew that only time would tell just how much of a boon she would become…

    The others, seeming ready to move and having given their own affirmations, whether it be nods or in Amris’ case, already rising to get out of the inn, he took it as unanimous. The healer remained seated, and at first he assumed she wished to revel in her spirits before going back into the bitter cold, but as she rose to collect her things, she instead moved to him as he too had begun to prepare for their departure. Toward the exit to the Frozen Hearth, Na’ima stopped short at the thick wooden door, turning to take a final glance at their newest member, only to bear a look of light disappointment as she was not following after, but stopping to talk to Falco. The act was short lived, however, as she knew the time for them to become better acquainted was not too far off. ‘Patience, Dearest one.’ She muttered under her breath, the platitude warming her as she too followed out in the chilling air.

    “Falco, thank you for waiting for me, this will only take a minute.” Falco had heard her say, causing him to pause as he turned to face her, offering her his full attention. He too was one to show his fair share of manners, something else the two imperials shared, perhaps. The silver tongue was the first, but would these be all the similarities, he couldn’t help but ponder. Pushed to the back of his mind, he focused on her instead, allowing her to continue. “Of course, we have the time, is there more you need from me?” He queried, planting a hand on the chair beside him and resting his weight upon it.

    “I… I wanted to thank you for what you did earlier, standing up for me. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me upset but…” She paused then, Falco taking a moment to assess her thoughtfully as he took note of the look in her eyes, the clear signs that what had transpired prior clearly had taken some kind of toll on her, despite how well she had handled it prior. While he didn’t know the extent, he could certainly understand why that might have been. “I don’t know what I did to make him treat me like that, I’ve never had a stranger objectify me and then spit on my character so unprompted. I don’t know what I did to bring it on…” Falco cleared his throat, shaking his head as he caught her gaze in his. “I was there for the interaction, saw it all, you did nothing to draw such ire.” He muttered simply. “The man is very skilled, but is quick to draw conclusions, and unrelenting once his mind is made up.” He took a moment, looking to where the man had exited moments prior. “But I will not excuse his actions, we will take care of it if you are to remain here.” He sighed, rolling his eyes as he thought about it further. “We’re an order of mercenaries, not a schoolhouse, and behavior like that has no place with the work we do.” Pausing to return his gaze to her own, he offered a smile that brought him back from his slip into brooding territory. “Please, don’t give it any further thought, I will speak on it with him myself if you think it would be of aid.”

    He had hoped the assurances would comfort her to some extent, despite that, he had a feeling she would make do, keep her chin up despite his protests. Even if it was to prove Amris wrong, she wouldn’t disappoint. Seeming to take his words to heart, she continued. “Thank you, that would be kind. The rest of you seem wonderful, I don’t want you to think poorly of me… I just want you to know that it didn’t go unnoticed, I appreciate you greatly. I hope we become good friends.” The words came across as genuine, and taking them in as they were offered, Falco gave her a nod and a pat on her shoulder. “I have no doubt we will, should things go well. But to accomplish that, we shouldn’t fool around here any longer. It’s far past time to get out of this dusty tavern, I would say.” He gave her another pat before dropping his hands to collect his items, and then upon reaching the door, he rolled his neck and shoulders, feeling it all shift and adjust after what felt like ages sitting at that table. After seeing to it that Ther was prepared, he stepped out from the warmth and into the cold.

    The breeze was brutal the moment the door swung open, the chill almost robbing him of his breath. He tucked himself deeper within his cloak, bundling as he stepped out and toward the jarl’s hall. The door to the very place in question swung closed just as he walked forward, the last of his companions no doubt having no intent on remaining out in the wind, which from both the banners that flapped haphazardly at each side only showed more signs of picking up from here on. Sure sign of some sort of imposing storm, perhaps, or maybe Winterhold always resembled the coldest, deepest hell imaginable. He did not care to speculate further, he just wanted out.

    With quick steps in snow which squelched and ice that cracked beneath his boots, he stepped up and grabbed the handle quickly, opening it wide to shield himself from the wind, and to hold it open for his newest companion, lest it swing shut right in her face. She stepped in first, and he followed suit with no hesitation, sighing heavily as he once more acquainted himself with the sensation of what it felt to be warmed. Fanning out his cloak, he took the moment to appraise the hall, and took care to begin his usual routine. Eyes to the walls to locate the doors, eyes to the ceiling to take note of any higher floors. Exits, entrances, the locations of the braziers, alongside mental notes of how to tip them over should the need arise. The need never would, of course. This was the home and hall of the leader of Winterhold proper, and they were in his good graces, as well as his service. Even still, it was Falco’s way with every new place, a countermeasure for an unspoken failure in the past. Nevertheless, his appraisal left him feeling satisfied, and he stepped forward to speak for his compatriots. Just in time, the Jarl rose from his throne of sorts, adjusting his coat before placing his hands behind his back. Falco and the rest came forward, bowing their heads in both greeting and respect, the usual routine for he and his, though Ther was free to do as she wished for the moment, as this was not something that was explained beforehand. After they met his gaze again, the Jarl, Korir, stepped forward, and his housecarl, an older woman, moved to flank him, a hand on her blade with a careful gaze levied at them all. Falco paid her no further mind, instead awaiting to be addressed.

    “I take it you are the ones we have called for; this…Silver Star as you call yourselves?” The man’s tone felt haughty to Falco, but in truth, it was nothing new. He took a few steps forward to further take the role of the speaker for his group, and nodded. “We are.” He said simply, still feeling the chill in his throat as he cleared it. “I believe we were to be given an opportunity to inspect the remains of our latest victims, so that we could assess the situation. May we?” The words were selective, careful, offering the respect the man no doubt believed he deserved, though Falco was unsure himself. Unfamiliar as he was with the politics of the province, he felt it would be prudent to be cautious first, and not overstep. Regardless, the Jarl was to the point, and he stepped down the steps, nodding. “Aye, that we did.” He looked to his housecarl, and nodded toward the door on the opposite side. “Thaena will deliver you to see it, along with a guard who managed to survive an encounter with these beasts. His testimony is weak, but I suppose it is best to take whatever we can get.” The Jarl and the Imperial eyed each other carefully, and the Jarl spoke more frankly. “Do make sure, if you would, that you do as you promised, and take care of this mess quickly. We already have to deal with the mages hiding away in their tower, and I will not allow this town to be surrounded by those who wish us harm.”

    Falco gave a nod, but his eyes did narrow as he spoke of the college. Intriguing, he would think to himself, but kept it quiet. “Of course. It will be done.” Seemingly satisfied with that answer, the Jarl departed, and the older woman, Thaena as she was called, beckoned them. “Follow me.”

    It was a short jaunt to where the bodies had been kept, a side room that had been cleared out, furniture and other objects hastily pushed to the sides of the room as two large tarp-like pieces of cloth lay on the floor, the outlines of three bodies lying on their backs face upward. The housecarl took one end of the tarp and tugged, the bodies exposed to the elements once more, and with it, the intense stench of death. Falco’s eyes fell shut, wincing slightly as it hit him, the bodies far less put together than their silhouettes had led him to believe. The bodies were, more so put together, pieces in places where they belonged but some were honestly only hanging on by mere threads, others not at all. Deep claw marks and imprints of gnashing teeth littered the corpses, leaving Na’ima to cover her mouth, and swallow hard as she reeled to her back foot. “That the dead should be desecrated this way…It defies all belief.” She muttered, the horror clear, as she saw signs that this was worse than a mere attack by a pack of wolves. Amris, however, put that into words as he stepped forward. “This is the work of multiple creatures, but with the size of their teeth…” He began, kneeling to stand over them, while Sebastien followed close behind, but choosing to remain standing. “One of them measures about two, perhaps three of my fingers in width…just from a glance.” Amris continued, making the gestures as he spoke. The old man brought a hand to his chin, the clank of his armored joints odd in the room as the air seemed to be sucked out of it. “A fate far worse than I would wish on my dearest foe...Entire limbs have been severed, but not ripped." He paused, inspecting each line and tear. "I believe this was done by the beast's bite as well, that would imply a strong jaw, quite the amount of pressure. That is not something any of us can afford to be hit with...” He muttered simply, his face then becoming shielded as he mumbled what seemed to be a prayer.

    Falco looked about the room, catching sight of the guard that the Jarl had spoken of earlier. The man looked far past disheveled, looking almost completely lost in his despair. The sweating man shook and shivered, despite being wrapped with thick blankets, a hot drink next to him steaming, but Falco imagined it was hard to work up the nerve to drink. Perhaps the man was still in shock, or felt too disgusted. Either way, the way he stared at the bodies…”Poor man…” He began. “To not only have to deal with such, but to be forced to remain here to see them, to smell their rot…We should get him out of this room, see what he can recall.” He eyed Ther and Na’ima, the redguard turning to face him as she felt his eyes upon her. “One of you should help them discern the cause, perhaps get more insight on our beastly friends…while the other accompanies me to speak with the guard. We should get him away from the body, and see if we can calm him down enough to get him to talk…” He eyed them both, and Na’ima turned to face Ther as well, raising a brow.

    “You heard the man.” She started, smiling despite the grisly situation at hand. “I’ll let you choose, this time. Which do you think you’d be better suited for?” There was no pressure intended on either of their parts, but this presented a fine opportunity to gauge their newest recruit, and see some of those reported strengths in action. Whatever she would do, the choice was hers…

    Hlíf 'Ulfr

    Nothing but a lyre
    Staff member
    It was not uncommon that the spirited healer went unnoticed, spending hours without any real reason to speak in such situations. It seemed that those of import interested in solving their problems with gold and power often thought of healers as accessories and had little desire to impress or conference with their ilk. Of course, it was natural that their leader would speak, and she expected nothing less of him. It was not that, but instead the inclination to give importance and weight in opinion to those that could cause harm and harness destructive powers to make their change in the world while ignoring those that put it back together. Yet as trouble came and those once lofty men lay bleeding and torn in pools of their own lifeblood their tune inevitably changed. She tried not to linger in such thoughts and so resorted to treating such encounters to very little of her efforts. However, the situation before her demanded more, and so she exposed all of her rage and repugnance to them.

    “Cover them” she demanded harshly, speaking for the first time since entering the quaint wooden home of the Jarl.

    “Your idiocy exceeds all rational boundaries.” She spat, eyes burning with disapproval.
    “Subjecting this poor soul to more than should be expected of any man let alone one in his position. I suppose you thought it a tidy thing to keep the entirety of this situation and all of its pieces in one room. No wonder you have failed up to this point. Have some humanity. Think about your actions, he deserves that at least.”

    It was not the last of insults to fly from the feisty healer, indeed she ensured that all involved received a thorough verbal thrashing before turning her back. Stunned most simply watched wide-eyed while others furrowed their brows and tried unsuccessfully to get a word in their defence. She finished with an audible plea to both Mara and Arkay in the name of the fallen and living which seemed to shut down all further commentary. It would not likely have won her any favour but at the very least it had been an impressive show of her moral stance.

    It was completely beyond Ther that they could do this to the survivor; she hoped fervently that the gods would grant him some peace and deliver him from those that mistreated him for the sake of their own gain. She could only imagine how he suffered being so close to the corpses that could have easily been his own, to the brutal death that had nipped at his heels as he carried himself through the snow. She shook with rage while lifting her hands to remove the hood that had shadowed part of her face, attempting to collect herself for the sake of her new charge.

    Having calmed and leaving her rage behind Ther quietly and meekly approached the broken man, her voice a whisper to all but him. Soft words ran from her like a familiar melody, comforting and alluring they formed a sense of safety. It was as if she was lost in a world that belonged to the two of them alone. Crouched in front of the chair he clung to her eyes did not leave his face nor falter in expressing deep compassion. It was no magic, her gentle touch and comforting words, but still, it appeared to have some effect. Though lost in his suffering there was a change, a lessening of outbursts and as the minutes passed his mood began to shift. His eyes grew softer as he focused on hers, his body language that of a child rocked in the arms of their mother as they cried. Too tired and worn to return to reason but clearly affected by her ministrations, Ther took the opportunity to reach for him. It was then that her hand gently caressed his arm, glowing for only a moment before the change took him completely.

    For those familiar with magic, it was undoubtedly the work of a spell, but another source of confusion would still face them. Why had the healer not used such means immediately if she had the skill at her disposal? Ther had been berated with such questions before, and half expected that she would have to defend herself to those in the room because of it. It would be more than worth it, a small quarrel would never outweigh the best interest of those in her care. She had thought, as she approached the man, not only of expediency or her own gain but instead of his long-term journey of healing from this trauma. She imagined how violating it would have felt simply being ripped from one extreme to the next, from being overwhelmed by pain and emotion to being completely devoid of all feeling. Instead, she hoped for a gentle transition, that when he recounted feeling calm that it would be the gentle words and a kind face that he would remember. Perhaps being soothed and comforted first would provide him with a less troublesome reality, maybe he could believe he had found some respite in a tender-hearted gesture. She had no desire to exploit him, and as she lifted him from his chair and led him from the room it was with this motivating drive that she intended to go forward.

    “My heart hurts for all you have been through, I hope you can find it in yourself to trust that you are safe with me.” The two walked huddled together over the stone floor, pausing only momentarily for Ther to snatch a woollen blanket slung neatly over the back of a chair before continuing towards the worn wooden steps. “I told you my name is Etheril but I think of you as a friend, so you can call me Ther if it pleases you. All of my dearest friends do. I wasn't given your name though, and honestly, I’d rather hear it from you directly than any of the others anyway.”

    “Fenrig” He responded simply, lulled by the cumulative spells that had been laid upon him.

    With the arm of the smaller Imperial girl snuggly supporting the much larger man the pair ascended together, taking the climb slowly. The small landing above seemed a vacant and more personal place to speak and though no throat of the world was very much met with relief when it was finally reached. From there she guided him to a seat and with the tenderness and patience that should have been standard to all healers wrapped him in the blanket and ensured his comfort.

    “There is something I need to ask you Fenrig, now that we are alone.” Pausing she assumed the same position, knelt in front of him so as to look up into his face. “Are you at all hurt? Be honest, there is no need to be tough with me.”

    “Frost bite,” He lifted his hands and indicated his feet before listing off a variety of injures he had received both in fighting for his life against the beasts and the elements.

    The task of caring for the ailments quickly commenced, but with slow and deliberate attention paid to comfort and respect. The others can very well wait for me, she thought, being reminded for a moment of other incidents in which she had been scolded for doing what others thought unnecessary. She hid it well that all the while she had been swallowing residual anger that he had not been better tended to, even as the final calming and healing spells glowed and illuminated her face. The whole interaction paired with the magic she used had taken an emotional toll, she felt worn by it but was glad to have been of service.

    “Done.” Came the rather satisfied declaration shortly followed by the scraping sound of another chair being pulled across the wooden floor. “I hope you don’t mind if I sit, more than that I hope you feel some relief now.”

    The stairs gently creaked, catching her attention and causing her head to swivel in the direction of the sound. She had up until this point been completely lost in her work and seeing Falco suddenly startled her slightly. Had he followed them both across the great hall initially? How long had he been there? There was no knowing at that moment and more important things to consider, so she simply replaced the look of surprise with a worn smile. Though charming in its appearance there was not the same playfulness and certainly no flirtation present as might have been in the Inn, it was altogether something different. Simply mouthing the words Hello there she allowed herself to return to the job at hand in the same fashion as one might return to reading a well-written book.

    “Fenrig, I have some more difficult questions to ask you. I would not do so if it was not necessary but we want to stop this from happening to anyone else and to do that we need you, I need you.” There was a brief pause and no movement from either party but air had taken on a different weight “I can tell you are brave, and together we can do this. You are welcome to stop and refuse me at any point, of course, I want that to be very clear…”

    She knew he would not refuse her, but all the same, she wanted his memories of this to be as unsettling as possible. She planned her route carefully, not launching at him with jarring questions but instead starting with the most simple and hopefully unchallenging pieces of the puzzle. It had all been leading to this.

    “I believe I heard mention that you are a guard, what were your orders that day? I imagine you aren't often sent so far from town.”

    “A guard? Yes, for many years now, lass. I had orders from the Jarl, I had been told to keep to myself but there isn't much use in a town this small. Locals have been disappearing, no reason and nothing left behind. We’d all heard the rumours, it was about time something was done about it. We were told to look into the disappearances without stirring up too much suspicion. We were on patrol”

    “We? I’m glad you had company that night, was it your friends that joined you?”

    “Aye, there were other guards but I wouldn't call them friends. I knew them, shared ale but that can be said of most of the town.”

    “What brought you so far from town?”

    “A trail and it couldn't have been more obvious had it been written in ink. Something, someone had been dragged through the snow. There was no wind that night and deep footsteps, it all led towards the shrine of Azura. So we followed it up into the mountains…”

    “And when you arrived?”

    “When we arrived…” The man obviously began to struggle and as he spoke the line of his narrative only deteriorated further “There was no chance, we had no time to react… they died so quickly, all killed… so much red, and the screaming…”

    “What attacked you Fenrig?”

    “I can’t.. I don’t, it's all a blur I can’t-”

    “It's alright, you’re safe. Like I said, we’ll do this together.” She interrupted casting another spell “No harm will come to you while I am here. How did you get back? Did you have any help?”

    “I crawled, I was injured but I was so afraid. I pulled myself through the snow until the adrenaline wore off… I was ready for Sovengard, I thought I would dine in the great hall of heroes that night…”

    “But you survived”

    “Aye, a pair of hunters found me, carried me back to town… the gods must have heard my pleas, for them to have been wandering that way on a night so cold as that.”

    “Did they give their names or remain in town? They may have seen something we could-”

    “No, it was strange… They left. I told them death waited for them in the mountains but… they didn’t care. The two of them went back out there alone… strange…”

    The questioning may have continued for a moment longer, and surely would have been followed with some kind words but was quickly cut short. Up the steps came a rather disgruntled-looking guard who had only recently discovered their location after a moment of searching. He had come to collect their stolen source, and quickly if not somewhat rudely pushed past Falco to get to him. Little could be done as he reclaimed the now calm guard, Ther saw that plainly enough but it did not stop her from baring her metaphorical teeth in his defence.

    “If I find out, and I WILL find out, that you have paraded him in front of those corpses again I will dedicate the entirety of my vastly creative imagination to hunting you down and inflicting unfathomably horrendous acts upon you.” She snapped, “People will write songs about my cruelty and study my techniques for centuries to come.”

    The words were not empty, and only more so fuelled by her feeling of helplessness as Fenrig was carted away. She knew the spell she had selected would wear off soon, they would not get much more from him. She had selected it for that reason, she did not want them to be rewarded for their behaviour. Another prayer left her lips before she slumped slightly into the chair and heaved a sigh, turning to Falco after a moment's respite with a warm smile.

    “Come. Sit with me a moment please,” she gestured to the recently vacated chair “tell me your thoughts.”

    Though it was undetectable the true intentions behind her offer were not so simple. She wanted to hear someone else talk, to be alone without being seen as selfish or too deeply affected by any unflattering emotions. If she could just listen and have a moment before she had to charm and dazzle she could keep it all up. There was no telling exactly why this had hit her so hard, any number of things could have contributed but one thing was certain. As much as she wished that the ride ahead and the hours to follow could be held in silence to process her emotions she knew that she could not allow herself that. The show had to go on, the others could not see her pain.

    “Please,” Ther repeated, softly this time.


    A Rotten Scroungeral
    The effect of Ther's words were immediate, the air sucked from the room as she spoke her first command. Amris did not comply, the bodies remaining on display for just that moment longer as he continued his probing. Whether it was him being lost in his inspection or downright refusal to take her order was unspoken, but perhaps some things were obvious without being said aloud. Sebastien, however, taking note of the guard, rose to take the covering and lift with him as he stood. Arms outstretched, he created a curtain, a barrier to shield the man from the view any longer, knowing they still needed their answers but realizing the undue stress such a sight would cause, especially a man who was already teetering on the proverbial brink.

    Na'ima, who awaited to see which she would decide, was caught off guard by the sudden shift in tone. She leaned back in a bit of surprise, the terseness of Ther's tone unexpected, and what followed even more so. So spirited was her denouncement of their treatment of the guard, their behavior up to this point. She minced no words, and Na'ima felt a sense of...pride in this. The fire that burned in the healer's words as brightly as it seemed in her chest attracted her like a moth to the metaphorical flame, and she was hooked on the rush of emotion, the space feeling tense. Like the air after a lightning strike she felt charged, alive. She found herself feeling inspired...and a little hot under the collar after seeing such a spirited display and downright dressing down of authority, and she couldn't fight the curl of her lips into a snarky grin.

    As for their leader, one would perhaps expect him to immediately move to damage control, to silence Ther's protests as they came to save face. It would perhaps make sense, the work of mercenaries was based on reputation, after all, and a history of speaking down to clients, let alone figures of authority, could be a death knell if not handled properly. Falco remained stalwart, however, thoughtful as he watched the display, then the shift to doting as Ther moved from the bodies to the guard in question, kneeling down to meet him at his level and speak to him calmly, as if she had not just doused his superiors in flame moments prior. Soft words, a subtle spell, the shift was night and day, and after seeing the guard open up so quickly, he felt he had his answer to a silent question, perhaps the one Amris was silently posing to him as he paused in his work, eying Falco with a knowing smirk.

    *I told you she was trouble. Why would you ever take a chance on someone like her?*

    He could feel it even without hearing the words spoken. Nevertheless, it went unanswered, and he watched as Ther led the guard away to another place, and after a moment, he finally spoke, but quietly. "...Keep up the inspection. Na'ima, if you wouldn't mind, relieve Sebastien of his current work." He then eyed Seb for a moment, his mentor giving him a studying gaze as well as he awaited his orders. Falco stepped closer to him on his way to the door, and his voice was low. "See to it that any ruffled feathers are smoothed, if at all possible. I doubt people this far out would be as quick to denounce your character as they would ours." He patted the older man on his back, feeling the cold steel even through his gloved palm. "Appeal to their sense of honor and pride, as any warrior would. Whatever it takes to keep us from losing our pay." Sebastien nodded firmly, already on the move to speak to the housecarl as Falco himself moved outside the room to follow Ther as she escaped it and found another. Footfalls kept soft by habit followed them, and while she began her work, he leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed and eyes transfixed on her hands, ears tuned to her words.

    Again, he could feel the change in Ther. The heat of the moment lost in a display of compassion, a soothing kindness and gentle words. He watched it all in silence, not intending to interrupt her in the slightest. Preferably she would never know he was there at all, as his intent was not to barge in, but to observe. To see her healing work, to see if it was all an act. It would not be the first time someone with a whirlwind of a personality swept him away and into believing in their worth, despite evidence to the contrary. Alas, this time was fated to be different, clearly, as she was exactly what was advertised. Perhaps even more.

    This impromptu inspection was short-lived however, as he had made the mistake of adjusting his weight, which caused a board to creak. Ther's head snapped in his direction, and for a moment he felt he would be given some attitude for snooping on her. Instead, the smile that followed seemed weary, but genuine. This one felt less like she was trying to butter him up, and more just seeing him as a welcome sight, as opposed to a distraction. An equally welcome relief then, in his eyes, at least. 'Hello there', she would mouth, before continuing her work, her questioning, and Falco was content to watch it all unfold. If only Amris could have seen this side of it as he currently had been...he wondered if it would have made any difference.

    His attention was broken however, a shoulder checking his roughly as it came through the door, the telltale sounds of armor in motion as another guard came into view. The man was on a mission, it seemed, taking the guard from Ther's care, the gentle respite he needed to be thrust back into reality. Once more Ther seemed to prickle at the behavior, another wisp of a flame licking outward at the guard in the form of a warning. Falco again remained silent, only looking the escorting guard in the eye firmly as he passed.

    He pitied the man as he watched him be escorted away so brusquely, the other clearly lacking bedside manner. His thoughts were cut short after a moment, as a voice came from the room, bringing his attention back to the Ther once more. The woman had moved to the chair, seeming to take a load off herself while seeming to call for him to join her, her words confirming that fact moments after. With a sigh he hefted himself off the doorframe, following her further in as he spoke, his voice low.

    "Take a moment." He muttered, taking a seat opposite her, leaning back in the chair. "I'd say you earned it. That was fine work you did there. No doubt you left him far better off than he had been...perhaps even before the patrol went bad." He finished, inspecting her carefully as he began to lean forward, propping his elbows on his knees, his chin in his palm. He was silent for a moment, maybe two before speaking again. "...I can see clearly now that the passion you possess extends to a few more facets than simply attempting to charm your way into a company of mercenaries." He gave a small chuckle, before exhaling through his nose lightly. "You were right, however, to call out such clear miscalculations. They were only making the matter worse for him." He would attempt to meet her gaze, intent on making eye contact as he began to assure her, unsure whether she would even feel she needed it. "If you are worried I'm going to lecture you, don't be. I am not trying to be your father." He gave a breath of a chuckle before continuing. "You are your own woman, free to live and do whatever it is that your heart desires."

    He scooted his chair forward, maintaining that eye contact as he spoke. "But when it comes to our work, that desire needs to be tempered with reticence. Even if it is only to make certain that we as a collective remain able to make a difference in people's lives, to make this land a safer place for people like Fenrig, and those that look to *him* for the same thing." His voice lowered, a small smirk forming. "We cant do that while locked in a dungeon for bruising a battered ego, can we?" He winked, before sitting back, the sigh escaping him as if it were the sign that he was shifting back into a calmer state, though he had remained level headed throughout.

    "That said, I can see you clearly have what we've desperately needed, and were Amris to see it, I can only hope it would have silenced his critiques...but knowing him, he would perhaps point out that we still have beasts to fight...and given that description of them..." He paused, thinking back on the guard's words. "I am curious as to whether we should seek out these hunters first and compare our experience with theirs...or if we should focus our efforts on the beasts themselves. Odd that they did not seem phased by the presence of such beasts...Perhaps they were more than simply aware of that presence..." He pondered further. "Perhaps they are hunting them specifically..." Falco sighed, rubbing the back of his neck while muttering. "All the while I am still wondering how he managed to survive at all. The damage to him compared to the others was surprisingly unbalanced. Even accounting for any aid given by the hunters or...the court, it seemed that he was, almost left just alive enough to get back." Falco sighed, shaking his head. "Sebastien would only laugh at my speculation but..." He met Ther's gaze again, curiosity lit from behind them like candlelight. "What do you think? Do you think he was meant to be a message? You saw the extent they went to destroy the it intentional, or dumb luck?"

    Hlíf 'Ulfr

    Nothing but a lyre
    Staff member
    Ther received Falco warmly with a smile and an attentive expression but offered no verbal indication of her relief. She was thankful, of course, that he had taken her up on her offer however it had not been entirely unexpected. He had come to watch her work in secrecy and so how now, she thought, would he scamper off once detected and deny her request? It was good of him and proper, therefore, that he had accepted. Still, beyond her expectations, there was a hint of satisfaction that they should be alone.

    She did not stray far from her initial plan to remain silent throughout his speech, though she smiled modestly at his praises. There was no reason to tell him she wished there was more she could do for the man, that she often felt too tender of heart against the more resilient and unmoveable companions she had travelled with. She wasn't looking for his sympathy or to show any real weakness, something that might hurt should it be invalidated or rejected. She kept all her true cards tucked tightly against her chest. His gaze however she met head-on, peering fearlessly into the languid green waters of his eyes and meeting him with the same.

    A devious thought suddenly ran through her head. In the intensity of their shared look it could not go unnoticed if her attention was to wander and so taking the opportunity she leaned in slightly and let her eyes travel across his face. Visually she traced the sharp cheekbones, letting her attention drift next to his strong jaw which flexed reflexively as he spoke. She ended intentionally on his lips, letting him watch as she lingered. She knew exactly what she was doing, no child caught but instead playfully teasing perhaps making him pause to wonder what exactly she was imagining herself. Finally, she met his eyes again, a sparkle in her own before withdrawing as the word lecture tumbled from his lips.

    Her thoughts at that moment were unhelpful, and so she continued to keep them to herself. Likely it would be poorly received should she tell their leader that he could lecture her if it pleased him until their world was swallowed by darkness and they were nothing but piles of dust. Even more so she imagined if it was made clear that she would not have changed her behaviour despite it. She had been reprimanded enough times for the same offence, by those that had a far stronger grip on her. Instead, she appeared unmoved, her countenance remaining placid and soft. That was until he mentioned Father, at this point a broader grin broke out and she leaned back addressing him as her eyes crinkled.

    “My father never lectured me, I was a darling child.” she mused, balancing her lived experience against how much she felt she could afford to share “You would have to dote on,” leave “and adore me. You would be so lucky to compare yourself to a man like him…”

    She finished her statement in a quiet, feeling tone making it clear it was no insult to him but instead a reverence for her father. It was the last time she would speak until he asked but certainly not for lack of things to say. It all seemed rather unimportant. She would not have let them be punished for her actions, should anyone end up in a cell it would be her alone. She would get out, no doubt as she had before. It was easy to write off a female healer, explain away the emotion and strong reaction to such horrors. It was not her truth but many would of course excuse her hysterics for it. There were many solutions if one was charismatic and creative enough, and she was both. It was too early for him to understand this, he had not seen enough of her but surely once wrapped up in what many described in retrospect as the mighty gale of her presence he would come to understand. Or, he would not. It mattered little, soon enough it was her turn to speak and the moment of quiet introspection came to a close.

    “It is a complicated question on all ends, and perhaps not the right one as it applies to the hunters but I’m getting ahead of myself.” She juggled two inclinations, to simply be flattering or to give him what he truly wanted and that which she wanted herself. “Firstly I have to say that Fenrig’s reaction to the hunters left quite the impression on me. To have been as injured and frightened as he was you would not expect him to be critical or so impressed in an unsettling way by their behaviour. They must have been quite unusual, something about it doesn't sit right with me. We also don’t have much to base our search on, and though it may not be pointless to make some attempt I imagine it will unearth more questions than it will resolve. Though if it unearths the correct question it will be entirely worth the effort…”

    There was a momentary lull as the healer appeared to be lost in thought, drifting through the realm of her mind as she considered their position. Distracted by her process she slowly leaned into the chair until her back rested comfortably against the wood. There was something casual and familiar about the way she lost herself, something that might have been perceived as vulnerable to some. In truth, it was practice, a long road of quickly integrating herself into the lives of others and making herself known to them. It was a natural sense of amity she provided that so quickly endeared her to others, intentionally or not. It made strangers open up and secrets pour forth at every turn as it oozed naturally from her pores allowing her to feel comfortable anywhere.

    “I don’t believe it was luck. If those creatures had wanted him dead no doubt they would have killed him. However, that does not tell us why, and there are innumerable possibilities. We don’t know enough about their nature. Are they capable of plotting in such a way or are they beasts? Predators may leave survivors for their own reasons and yet are skilled in the ways of killing. We are unlikely to make any kind of educated guess until we face them, study them, or are given some other clue and even then…” She trailed off, catching his eyes with hers once more and offering an apologetic look. “Not quite the helpful council you may have wanted.”
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    A Rotten Scroungeral
    Even as the words left his lips he would watch for her response. Not only the words she would speak but more than that, the responses of the kind that were involuntary. The shift in her seating, the minor inflections in the words, or perhaps a brief spark, a small and quick sign to show the woman hid behind a finely crafted mask...alas, either the woman was too finely skilled, or she simply had nothing to hide. The latter was never the case, not with anyone, but he felt she remained genuine, even when the prying eyes of others were far and away. Even when they were left alone in the darkened parts of the longhouse. Perhaps one would think him a highly mistrusting man, were they to see how his mind twisted and turned, how it waited for the other shoe to drop, forever...and perhaps they would be right. But as ever, nothing was without reason.

    That all came to a pause, as at one moment, things began to take a slight turn. A passing moment came, eyes meeting, and Falco began to see something after all, though at first it did surprise him. More so by the timing of it, given the circumstances. He could see her tracing his features with her eyes, but it was not so subtle, at least not as if she were truly attempting to keep it hidden. She wanted him to see, especially when her gaze rested so prominently upon his lips. A slight tease at his expense, perhaps. There would be an acknowledging smirk as he came to the end of his spiel, but otherwise there was nothing more to show for her efforts. At least not yet.

    "I'm sure the man himself would agree wholeheartedly." He muttered, the breath of a chuckle that followed was light. "I don't doubt that for a moment, or that your high opinion of him is justified. If anything I almost envy it." He could almost feel his chest tighten as he thought back to his own father. The moment was bitter but short lived, his lips curling into a weary smile.

    With that, he took in her appraisal of his thoughts, of any misgivings she might feel herself, as well as her opinions on his own. All the while, he made certain to play his part in this game. As she would speak her piece, the inspection she had given him was returned. His gaze lingered in hers, the flicker of the torchlight just behind them catching in her eyes. Already bright in their own right, the flames only sought to amplify. There was a shade to them that the word brown could not categorize, a richness to them that made him feel as if he could fall in were he to allow it. The warmth of her gaze was only further framed by the dusting of freckles, lightly scattered over equally warm skin. Seeing as it was only fair, his eyes did slip lower, following the lines of her jaw to catch sight of her own lips as they moved. He felt a pang of something, a desire to one-up the challenger as he allowed himself to gaze a bit deeper into it than perhaps she had, but stopped himself short when he realized her attention was drifting. He smirked softly to himself as he readjusted in his seat, refocusing on the task at hand.

    As she would finish, he would lean back in his chair, propping one leg on the other as he let his arm rest upon the chair itself. Giving a sigh, he would smile, nodding once and then continuing from there. “No no. By all means, I asked, and you surely delivered.” He offered with another nod. “Any chance to temper my thoughts as they twist and turn, believe me, it is most helpful.” His gaze flicked away from her, as he was lost in thought as well. “The worry Fenrig felt about those hunters despite his injuries perhaps demonstrates the usual caution a guard would feel, they would no doubt have a good sense of when someone is not on the up-and-up. But it is indeed something to take into account. If those hunters know more than they let on, or even are involved…we should be prepared for the possibility.” He rose to his feet, moving to place a hand on her shoulder as he would pass by her seat, on his way out the door. “Thank you, truly for your council. Whether you saw the promise in it or not.” He gave her a wink. “My thanks.” His head turned to look toward the door, letting out a soft sigh. “But I suppose we should go back down, I’m sure the others have figured out more than enough to help us fill in the blanks.” He nodded toward the door again, before moving off to head downstairs.


    The group stood in a circle in the room where the bodies once lay, the housecarl now free to have the remains removed so they could be properly buried. A glare or two might be made in Ther’s direction given the dressing down she had received at her hands, but would say nothing in retaliation. Instead, the plotting and planning went on undisturbed, and was proceeding apace.

    “...Given the size of the claw marks, the width of the teeth, and the pressure with which the bodies were held down to feed, I would imagine the creatures would be much heftier in size than a simple pack of normal wolves, though the extent of the injuries no doubt made that apparent.” Amris listed off his findings once more, a hand to his chin as he reflected. “The prints themselves did indeed show less sign of paw marks and more…humanoid shaping. The implications of that are…” Amris squinted, and Falco finished with his own thoughts. “Troubling.” He looked over to Sebastien. “Given the size of the beasts, as well as the clear ferocity, a straight up battle is out of the question, yes?” The imposing elder, attention rapt as it was, gave an astute nod almost immediately. “Aye, it would be foolish to try and battle them outright. Clearly our might would be found wanting, even given our more…specialized skillsets. I would wager we would be better off with a more tactical approach.” Falco nodded, looking about. “A map would be useful then. See what we would be dealing with…” Na’ima nodded, stepping off to the side and grasping a thick scroll of sorts, moving to the table that was once pushed against the wall, which now sat where the bodies once lay, toward the center. The planning was to begin, then.

    The process was simple. The communication within the group seemed fluid and constructive. Ther would perhaps note that despite the variance in their behaviors, tactics, they remained connected in mind, bouncing off each other with their thoughts and queries. Plans were drawn, a counterpoint was made, the plans were scrapped, redrawn. The years this group had been together was made apparent more and more as the time went on, signs that they succeeded in the ways that mattered, living long enough to become a cohesive unit, and not a mere band of beginner adventurers. Whether that would be enough, however, remained to be seen. Falco, however, remained confident.

    “So, to recap.” He said, once silence had taken hold and the others had spoken their piece. “The mountainside is thick with snow, so we should be prepared for trekking through that. We’re leaving our horses, as much as a tactical advantage as that might provide, the chaos their presence would cause would be more of a bane than boon. We will travel during the day. The attacks seem to be more frequent toward the night, perhaps we will find the opportunity we need should we have the time to prepare. That will be a good counter for the lack of horses, if we are able to move freely and without incident. Once we arrive close to the shrine, I would propose we find some sort of shelter, a cavern of sorts, something carved out in the mountain. There are notations of such places here…” He paused, pointing at one spot on the map, then another. “And here. Once we arrive, we will decide on which, depending on if and what we find on our way. We will discuss the more intricate details of the trap we will lay once we reach a resting point. This much is enough for now, and further plotting risks us putting our eggs in one basket…and we know that beasts do not operate as familiarly as men do.” Falco took another moment, leaning on the table, giving each person an appraising look. “I believe this will be a tough fight, something a bit fiercer than our usual fare. That said, I wouldn’t want us to remain gripped in reprehension. In fear. Keep your minds unclouded, focused.” He let his gaze rest on Ther, nodding at her specifically with a smile. “But I’m confident that won't be an issue, for the lot of you.” After a moment, he would look them over again. “Any questions?” The party remained silent, and after another moment, Falco nodded. “Then we should rest, prepare for us to move tomorrow. I’ll ask that any patrols are kept away from the mountain, and that the people lock their doors a bit tighter tonight. Avoid any more casualties if that can be helped. We’ll take refuge in the inn, and move from there in the morning. Now, off with you.” He said with a wave. “Let’s get some rest. We’ll prepare for the worst then.”

    The others began to depart, moving toward the door, Falco moving in the direction of the housecarl, giving a final word to Ther as he moved. “The room is covered, on us. Rest well, I have a feeling we will need you at your best.” He gave her one last smile, before shuffling off to make good on his word. "See you soon."