Silence's Voice

'Other' fanfiction. Category: AT, or Alternate Timeline. Same universe as canon, but a different point in that universe's history.
Just an assassin. Nothing more since fourteen, when the murder of a thieving Wood Elf who got what he deserved ended in recruitment into the shadowy cult of assassins at home in the deep deserts of Anequina. Until she decided to interfere. She decided to ruin everything!

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8. A Friend In Dead Need

In the city of Riften, simmering over the sewage-filled canal, the night drew closer, pouring anaesthetic into the heady mist that drifted over the city streets. The flames of chaos had been blown out, though the acrid smell of two burnt corpses still pierced through our noses even when we slipped through the city gates. With Maven Black-Briar’s funeral disrupted and her last son Sibbi now dead, I had a reward to collect, and an unholy family back in the Ne Quin’Al desert to come home to.

Yet the follower I had collected seemed far less pleased with the killing than I was. Partially because I’d snuck up on him, and partially because the person who assigned him as my follower was the current master of a Guild I hadn’t belonged to for the past ten or so years. Even after two ales and a bottle of alto wine, he was still sour towards me, scowling once I’d changed into a plain white and rust-toned farm maiden’s dress, and still giving me a dirty look as I paid the forty septim fee for our carriage ride to Whiterun.

“Climb in back and we’ll be off.” The driver’s Nordic purr cut through the wild silence of late night around Riften, as Hawk and I climbed up onto the carriage and settled for the ride.

“You know it would cost less for us to go straight to Solitude, rather than stopping at Whiterun.” Hawk growled, his sullen, black eyes peering out from under his leather hood. Unlike me, he hadn’t bothered to try looking normal, and instead wore his Thieves’ Guild armour in public like a badge of honour. Mind you, planned assassination and delivery of souls to Sithis is a lot harder to forgive than petty theft.

“It’s not about cost. I need to meet someone in Whiterun.”

Hawk just wrinkled his nose in response, leaning back against the carriage beams. It seemed to be just me, but Riften carriages were nowhere near as well kept as the one I caught in Whiterun. The wood wasn’t as springy, and had rot patches all over the floor, amongst tiny woodworm holes. That and the smell of fresh cut wood in Whiterun had been replaced by the sweet rotting of spilt mead that had sunk into the wood long ago.

I sighed and sat back, glancing at the silver-trunked trees wearing their elaborate styles of gold, rust, and tawny leaves that shone like signal fires in the night. Over the wheels turning and the horse’s clopping hooves on the cobbles, the rustling of wildlife and occasional muffled cries of deer mingled with the chirruping of insects in the cool night. It seemed peaceful, until the first roar pounced from the forest.

“What in Oblivion was that?” I exclaimed, jolting forward from leaning on the carriage beams. It sounded like a lion, but definitely a lot bigger, or fiercer. Most lions leave you be if you leave them be, but this thing seemed primed to rip apart anything that moved.

“Just a sabre cat, lass. Forests of the Rift have a lot of them in. Don’t worry, they know now to avoid the roads, and those that don’t wind up as cloaks.” The driver replied, peering back over his shoulder.

Sabre cat…someone in Markarth said their Thalmor representative, Justiciar Carnyon, was like one of those that sat on a thorn. The one that finished off that Briarheart promised me – or rather promised the late Dinasie Thanalor – an invitation from the Dominion, and I had a feeling that would involve a meeting with a certain Justiciar with the temper of a prickled sabre cat. The thought sent shudders down my spine, which seemed to conjure up an elusive smile from Hawk.

“What?” I exclaimed, as he let out a small snigger.

“It’s just funny, I never pegged someone like you to be scared of big cats.” He chuckled, as my fingers twitched for Vixen.

“I’m not scared of them. I grew up in a place full of lions, leopards, Senche-Tigers, and Cathay-Raht. Just didn’t think there’d be any big cats in this climate.” I hissed, as he spluttered with laughter.

“Thought one like you would be a better liar. You’re scared of them, I can tell. Ha, never would’a guessed the tough girl Dunmer’s scared of sabre cats!” He chuckled, as I took out Vixen and aimed an arrow right at his chest.

“I’m not scared of sabre cats,” I growled, as he abruptly stopped laughing and held his hands up in submission, “and if you must know why I shuddered, it’s as the Thalmor want me to meet Markarth’s Justiciar Carnyon.”

He shuddered at the Justiciar’s name, black eyes wide with fear as he stared at Vixen pointing right at him. “I see you’ve heard of him then. Now, am I scared of sabre cats?” I hissed, as he shook his head, letting a few locks of his ice blonde hair tumble free from his leather hood.

“What would the Thalmor want with you?” He stammered, refusing to look away from my bow.

“I shot a Briarheart. Pinned him to the wall with my arrow sticking right out of the prickly seed in his chest. Apparently the Thalmor have uses for archers like me, yet unfortunately I’ll be out of Skyrim by the time they come to recruit me. Are we clear?”

He nodded, and I lowered Vixen, stowing her arrow away again as he lowered his hands. With his black eyes, it was near impossible to tell where his pupils began at this distance, but I had a feeling they were wide with fear. Perhaps he’d have a bit more respect for me now I’d sent spikes of fear running through his bones.

Or maybe just expose myself to a volley of inane questions.

“How did you get close enough to a Briarheart to shoot one?”

“I didn’t get that close deliberately. He was in Markarth pretending to be some drunk, when he tried to stab me. I just wanted to get him off me.” I replied, as he gazed at me with terrified eyes.

“And that Justiciar, Carnyon, saw all this?”

“Not that I’m aware. It was some other High Elf that saw. Admittedly he was in Justiciar robes, but I don’t think he was that close to Carnyon.”

“But he was still Thalmor, and still wants you to meet Carnyon, right?”

By Sithis, it was going to be a very long ride to Whiterun.

* * *

The dim haze of dawn hadn’t even began leaking over the rocky horizon when the carriage drew to a stop outside Whiterun, and Hawk could finally shut up about me first shooting a desert fox at my childhood farm when I was six. The gooseflesh snaking under the scarf I’d wound over my hair stood up like arrows in a downed carcass, and the water pouring out of the Whiterun city walls sparkled and shone like mirrors in the darkness. Only Azurah knew what time of night it was, but anyone could tell that Aventus and Runa Arentino would be asleep by now, probably in some inn or rented home.

I clambered off the carriage with Hawk in tow, thanking the driver before heading up the steady slope to the city. The black horse tucked in the stable snorted in our direction, as we passed under a stone arch and headed towards a lowered drawbridge. Guard towers stood tall either side, lit by torches, and the glow of a camp crouching in the courtyard lit up the whole area.

“Excuse me, ma’am, do you know anything about anything suspicious in the area?” A man suddenly announced from nearby, coming out from the camp. He looked to be in his thirties, in dark blue mage robes with a tan hood, and a silver, horn-shaped charm around his neck. He carried a burning torch, and there seemed to be scrapes on one side of his face.

“Anything suspicious?” I asked, as my fingers tingled for Vixen. He was human, so wasn’t connected to the Thalmor, but something about him just didn’t sit right with me.

“Daedra worship, necromancy, the undead, and any unnatural abominations fashioned by Hircine or Molag Bal. The Vigilants of Stendarr will stop at nothing to rid the world of these horrors.” He replied. Great, just brilliant. That was what felt off about him.

“I’m afraid not, sorry. We’re not from the area, so we don’t know what signs in Skyrim you Vigilants of S’rendarr would be looking for.” I replied, as the Vigilant frowned slightly at my Anequina purr.

“Alright then, but if you see anything, come find Vigilant Manion in our temple out here. We’ll deal with it from there. Be seeing you.”

The Vigilant waved us off, and we headed up towards the gates. Two guards in their metal masks with butter-yellow sashes across their chests stood either side, leaning partially against the walls. They glanced at us as we passed, particularly focussing on Hawk following behind me as he muttered in my direction.

“What’s that S’rendarr you mentioned?” He muttered.

“Anequina name for Stendarr. When you’ve grown up in a country with different names for the Divines, it becomes a habit to call them by that name.” I replied, as we entered into Whiterun.

The city was certainly impressive, with a small arched bridge over a channel of water, and a long, weaving stone path lit by braziers leading up to a distant market square. A smithy perched close by, lit by the glow of the forge outside, and the crackling of twin braziers flanking the city gate. A well-carved shop perched on a small hill nearby, at a fork in the stone path, with a sign emblazoned with ‘The Drunken Huntsman’ in pride of place. Though it was dark, the city seemed full of light, and every door was flanked by two goat horn candles as I led Hawk up to the market square. A few guards patrolled the city, but otherwise, all was quiet.

“So where’s this person you wanted to meet? Doesn’t look like they’re around to me.” Hawk suddenly announced, piercing the silence of night.

“They said they’d be around whatever the Gildergreen is, or in the Bannered Mare.” I replied, as he headed up a low set of stone steps.

“Well it’s a bit late for the Gildergreen. Bannered Mare’s right here. Come on, let’s get this over with.” He grunted, guiding me up the steps, and into the small inn.

The Bannered Mare was a small inn, but comfortable, with clean floors and a merry fire pit crackling away in the centre. The place wasn’t too packed either, with a few people sitting either on low benches around the fire pit, or small tables around the room. Through an open doorway, the homely smells of a kitchen drifted, and just ahead, a private room was set aside. The bar seemed well stocked, and the proprietor gave us a smile as we came in.

“Come on in, just stoked the fire.” She purred, as Hawk and I headed over to an empty bar stool. The place seemed very friendly, full of chatter and warmth lasting into the night. The mead was cheap too, as Hawk and I could get a bottle each for only a few septims.

“Hey, Kalet, thought you’d switched to hunting elsewhere? Didn’t expect to see you back here so soon. Thought Falkreath was teeming with deer.” A young woman called, as a grizzled Redguard looked up from a wine bottle. He shuddered and glanced up taking a hearty glug of wine.

“It is. More deer there than around Whiterun for sure.” He replied.

“Then why didn’t you stay hunting there, if there’s so much game to be brought down? You could make a fortune there if you stayed.”

The Redguard, Kalet, sat up fully, finishing off the wine bottle in one. “The actual town of Falkreath and the roads leading from it are fine. Got six wolf pelts on my way down there. It’s the Falkreath Pine Forest that’s the problem. Take it from me, Dabnique, that place is bloody haunted.”

The tavern held its breath, before erupting into peals of harsh laughter, bouncing off the walls. “Haunted,” Dabnique spluttered, “next you’ll be telling us about the giant that gives presents to good little boys and girls at Saturalia!”

Kalet scowled, sitting back in his chair and folding his arms over his fur armour. “I’m serious, I saw a ghost in the southern Pine Forest by the road, to the west of Falkreath.”

“Kalet, Falkreath’s a town known for its cemetery. Everything there’s named after death. You probably just spent too long there, creeped yourself out, and only thought you saw a ghost.” A Dunmer man added from the nearest table.

“I’m serious, I saw a ghost in the southern Pine Forest. Frightened me almost out of my skin when I saw it.”

“If you did see some ghost there, what did it look like?” A Redguard woman asked, fiddling with an amulet of Mara around her neck.

“It was a woman. A human woman with braids, clad in leather. She was pacing around the trees, and drew out a dagger when she saw me. Gotta admit I’m not ashamed to say I ran for my life when she started chasing after me.” Kalet explained.

“A woman clad in leather. Did she moan like, “Whoooooo!” or more like, “Ohhhhhh, harder!”? As if it was the second one, that’s not a ghost, that’s a whore you interrupted entertaining a client.” The Redguard woman replied, as more laughter rang out through the inn.

“Hmpf, very funny. I’m telling you, the southern Pine Forest west of Falkreath is bloody haunted. Don’t believe me, go see for yourself.”

I would have listened for longer to the hunter's tale, but more important gossip had taken over. Another Vigilant of S'rendarr had settled into their makeshift camp outside Whiterun, and they'd gathered together to set up a mobile temple in a large leather tent. The Vigilant's camp was threatening to spill over into the stable yard, where the Khajiit caravans usually settled, and they'd been asking the citizens to report any signs of daedra worship, undead, or other infernal creatures in the area. The Jarl didn't seem too fussed, until a necromancer that had been living in their midst had been exposed and gutted by the Vigilants right inside the Whiterun gates. They'd been barred from the city after that for the killing, but recently a Vigilant had been caught scuttling around Jorrvaskr, and had been personally thrown out by the newest Harbinger, making it four Vigilants caught around Jorrvaskr and the Skyforge in the past week.

From the mixed reactions to the incident, it was clear this was the hottest topic on Whiterun's gossip vine. Personally, I'd never heard of Jorrvaskr and this Harbinger person, but the large presence of Vigilants of S'rendarr in Whiterun was not good news for one like me. If I got lucky enough to run into our more... dentally enhanced Dark Siblings, I'd have to warn them to give Whiterun a wide berth.

Whilst the common folk of Whiterun made bets over which of the Companions would throw out the next Vigilant they caught snooping, Hawk slid closer to me at the bar, whispering in my ear.

"You think there's something going on in Jorrvaskr the Vigilants don't like?" He hissed, as I knocked back my mead in one.

"Possibly, but it's nothing to do with us. Vigilants of S'rendarr don't care about the Brotherhood yet. Too many werewolf packs and vampire dens to wipe out first." I muttered back.

“What about that ghost woman. That anything to do with you?”

I shook my head, putting the empty mead bottle back on the bar. Aside from guardians that Sithis sends to defend a sanctuary, there’s no such thing. “Ghosts are just legends designed to scare kids into behaving.” I replied. “You know, ‘behave or the ghosts will come and get you’, ‘don’t wander off or the ghosts will steal you away’ sort of thing. It’s probably just some practical joker that covered themselves in glow dust, trying to scare anyone within sight.”

Hawk shrugged, necking his mead. “Well, the Jorrvaskr incident might not interest you, but it interests me, and interests those two over in the shadows.” He replied, gesturing over to the darkened corner of the inn where sure enough, two shadowed figures sat at a low table, wrapped in the pumpkin and honey coloured robes of the priests of the Divines. Normally, I’d have paid any religious leader no attention, but there was just something unforgettably familiar about them. Like the sway of a lover’s walk, or the scent of a mother’s perfume.

“Hey, elf, what about you and your friend? Should the Vigilants be allowed to search Jorrvaskr?” The Breton woman from earlier, Dabnique, suddenly asked, her shrill voice pulling me away from the shadowed priests.

“Well, I guess the S’rendarr Vigilants have-”

“Even if they did have the right to search Jorrvaskr, and even if they did find something, how long have the Companions been in Skyrim? Several eras, right? How many incidents in that time were there?”

The cool, female voice cut me off, as one of the shadowed priests spoke up. Laced with familiar purrs and warmth, the hooded woman’s voice once shadowed me in everything I did. Back when my thieves’ fingers were still light enough to rob the title of ‘new girl’ from her.

I couldn’t help but smile at recognising the older one of the thirty-year twins, even when a priest’s robe and cowl masked her in shadow. As secretive as the pair may be, they always find a way of standing out for all the right reasons.

“Even if the Companions did have something in Jorrvaskr the Vigilants don’t like, they haven’t caused any trouble for us. The exact opposite more like. The Companions are heroes, and the Vigilant rewards our heroes by spying on them. Way I see it, if someone’s not hurt anyone and instead aims to be a pillar of the community, who honestly cares what they are or what they get up to in private?”

Huldra Bronze-Heart’s little speech earned her several hearty cheers, as she slunk back into the shadow and exchanged a private whisper with her twin. Muttering to each other briefly, they took each other’s hand and began to head out, heads bowed, weaving through the small crowd before vanishing out into the city.

If I lost them, I certainly wouldn’t find them again. Tugging my scarf slightly over my face, I slid off the stool and began my pursuit, giving Hawk a quick poke in the side on my way out.

“What’s the hurry?” He asked, earning himself a rough ‘shh’ as we made our way into the market square. The night air seemed frigid and deadly compared to the warmth of the Bannered Mare, and the city seemed darker, like a misty veil had smothered the twin moons and their stars above.

There they were, heading up the yawning arc of stairs to what looked to be the more affluent part of Whiterun. The buildings, though still carved in the same Nordic design, were much larger, and the main square up there was dominated by a huge tree with branches practically bent double with vivid pinkish-white blossoms and shimmering leaves. That must be the Gildergreen that the Arentinos mentioned.

The Arentinos could wait, as there was no way I was losing the twins in this city. Seizing Hawk’s wrist, I practically dragged him up the steps into the Gildergreen’s square, tugging him over one of the shallow water channels beautifying the city, and down a well-worn path into a residential square, before letting go and dashing over to the twins.

“Huldra, Skogsra, it’s me!” I hissed, as one of them jerked towards me.

“Savil…what in Oblivion are you doing here?” Skogsra replied. “And how’d you get the fresh one?” She added, a small grin appearing as she noticed Hawk behind me.

“Long story, and an even longer story. It’s…complicated.” I muttered, noticing Huldra giving Hawk a good checking out.

“Complicated, huh. You’d better come in then. Is he…ok with us?” Skogsra asked, noticing Hawk shudder slightly.

“Yeah, he’s ok.”

“Alright, bring him in then. Only got a few hours of darkness left, and you can explain everything inside.”

Though the outside of the house of Clan Bronze-Heart was as Nordic as they come, the inside was vastly different. Through the entrance, the central room had been adorned with tapestries in deep black and blood red. The fire pit was ablaze, but instead of the warm glow of fire, a single orb of light glowed and sparkled within the bare stone pit, throwing cool blue light all over the house. Just to the side, the kitchen stood open and proud, with plump, scarlet bottles sitting on the shelves, a plain wooden casket perched on a low table, and the rusty, salty smell of blood hanging in the air. A single flight of wooden steps lead up to the rest of the house, and perched on a side table up against the wall, a shield of Sithis leaned against the wall, complemented with a single nightshade flower, and a human skull that had been painted in blood around its eye sockets and on its forehead, forming a little shrine to our Dread Father. Just above, a small box stood bursting with jewels, reflecting the faint image of Skogsra’s priestess robes as she headed upstairs.

It was a small home, and a little on the bloody side, but it all the same, it was perfect. A little Sanctuary in the cold hardness of Skyrim, perfect for our two Bloody Sisters.

“I’m afraid we don’t have much to offer to mortals. It’s only amongst the Dark Family that we can be amongst them.” Huldra purred, taking off her honey-coloured hood and letting her hair down from her low bun. In the light, the fine lines of many a smile had been traced around her lips and eyes, the light hints of grey filtered through her deep blonde hair, and her eyes shone with an unholy, golden glow.

“That’s alright, I don’t mind.” I replied, offering a smile as I took off my scarf and wound it around my waist. Here, amongst Dark Family, I could show myself without fear.

“You always were an understanding girl, Savil. Now, first, who’s your friend? I haven’t seen him around before.” She replied, extending a hand to my thieving follower.

“Oh, this is Hawk. He’s my guide and follower here in Skyrim. Hawk, these are two of my Dark Sisters, Huldra and Skogsra Bronze-Heart.”

“I-It’s good to meet you, Miss Bronze-Heart.” He muttered, a faint stammer cracking through in his voice as he took Huldra’s hand, staring almost transfixed at her.

“Likewise, and don’t worry, my twin and I don’t bite anyone that a Dark Sibling has befriended.” Huldra purred, before a shimmering laugh escaped her, revealing two pointed fangs.

“Now then, Savil, what in Oblivion are you doing in Skyrim? The Dark Elves aren’t exactly welcome here for one, and the Listener will be livid. Not just as you abandoned the Sanctuary, but you took a follower from outside the family. At least tell me you had nothing else in progress when you left for Skyrim.”

I shifted slightly, nagging guilt twisting and slithering as it squeezed my stomach. The payment from Casona Palgus, for the assassination of her sister-in-law, had gone uncollected. “Erm,” I began, before a quelling look from Huldra sent my explanation scurrying down to feed my growing sense of guilt.

She didn’t say a word, just sighed, looking past me at Hawk, letting her glowing gaze run all over him until he shivered. “You managed to pick a troublesome partner, Mr Hawk.” She chuckled.

“He’s not my partner.”

“We’re not partners. I’m just here to guide her through Skyrim.” Hawk replied, sending a sideways glare at me. The glare of an Alpha staring down a disobedient Omega.

“Such a pity, you would make wonderful Silencing Siblings.” Skogsra purred, as she crept downstairs. She’d changed out of the priestess robes she wore as a disguise, and had clad herself in her shrouded armour, draping a wispy bit of black netting around her shoulders. “What’s with him?” She added, noticing Hawk staring at her.

I don’t blame him for staring; everyone does a double-take when they realise Huldra and Skogsra are twins. Believing that both are well into their eighties is almost impossible, with Huldra frozen in middle age, and Skogsra forever leaving her girlhood. It serves Huldra well as an assassin, for nobody would suspect the kindly Nord housewife inviting the weary traveller into her home to rest.

For Skogsra, killing is just as easy. Every contract, male or female, finds themselves completely mesmerised by the kind housewife’s beautiful daughter, with waist-length curls that makes the sun’s rays ashamed, and eyes that glow a vivid gold. Half the time she doesn’t need to bother seducing her contracts with her undead gifts; they’d follow her into the depths of Oblivion for just one touch.

“Sister dearest, the shrouds of death can be seen through the coffin.” Huldra muttered.

“Oh, right sorry,” she stammered, a very faint blush barely visible on her cheeks, “I’ll get some over-clothes in a second. You don’t mind if I meet with the contact, do you? According to the Listener’s message, they’ll be waiting for one of us at the Skyforge every night until sunrise.”

“Go right ahead, dear Dark Sister. Savil and I need to have a talk about certain matters.”

“Excellent.” She grinned. “Shall I bring our newcomer along for the trip?”

I was about to protest, when Hawk cut right across me. “I’d be happy to accompany you, Miss Bronze-Heart.” He beamed, extending a friendly hand towards her.

By Azurah, now I see why both my mother and Camena warned me about the fleeting mind of a man. At the sight of a pretty vampire, Hawk had pretty much abandoned me with my Dark Sister.

“Perhaps that’s best, though Dark Sister,”

“Yes?”

“Do bring him back to Savil in one piece, will you.”

From the glazed, almost dreamy expression Hawk had, and the way Skogsra lead him to their kitchen without hassle, I had a feeling she had looked into his soul with a heavy dose of vampire’s seduction, turning Hawk into Skogsra’s faithful shadow until about an hour after she eventually bites him. It was bad enough when she did that to Effe-Zeeis many years ago, but with one as probably-inexperienced around vampires as Hawk, Skogsra could command him to slit his own throat for her and he’d obey.

Once she’d donned over-robes and tied the wispy scarf over her face like a widow’s veil – to further reduce the glow of her eyes through the shadows of her hood – Huldra sat me down on a low bench by the wall, and bade me to look at her, beginning just as the other two left. “Savil, I need you to tell me exactly what’s going on. You know I won’t tell the Listener, I know how they enjoy bullying you, but this is still very serious. You abandoned the Sanctuary without due reason. Does anyone back there know of this?”

I nodded slightly, unable to look away from the two tawny lights of her eyes. “I told Effe-Zeeis, and asked him to let the rest of the family know where I would be.”

“Good. At least that’s something. What bothers me though is why. Why you just suddenly got up and left for Skyrim seemingly on a whim.”

There was no point in lying. Huldra could smell a liar across the Sanctuary. She was patient though, listening to my recount of first hearing the voice, being smuggled in a carpet, getting the contract, and the chaos at Maven Black-Briar’s funeral.

“You do realise how serious this all is, right? Never before has the Night Mother spoken to two people at the same time, if you even can hear the Night Mother. There’s supposed to only be one Listener - one leader of the Black Hand. Are you completely sure you heard the voice of the Night Mother?” Huldra said, once I’d finished my tale.

“Not at first, but now I am. The Night Mother led me directly to a contact all the way across the world. They’d even performed the Black Sacrament. Who else would receive their prayer besides the Night Mother?”

Huldra bit her lip, her fangs poking past the fringe of her lips. “What are you going to tell the Listener? You know they’ll want to know where you’ve been the instant you get back.”

I paused, the thought tugging at my mind. “I’ll think of something.” I replied, as watery dread began to swell and crash deep in my stomach. Their Greatness knew full well that I was the only one without an excuse for leaving the Sanctuary aside from when on a contract. The twins had family still alive, Daro’Rihana was our intelligence agent and danger scout, Rosette had to take care of her daughter still, Effe-Zeeis had strong ties to the Black Marsh government, and the Listener could do as they wished. Even Camena still has an excuse, and she slaughtered the First Emissary to the Thalmor, Calion Charmaine, in Alinor about a hundred and fifty years ago.

“Savil, make sure you do. What are you planning to do now?”

Going back was the priority, but there were a few things that needed to be done first. “Get the rest of the payment from the contacts here in Whiterun, take a carriage to Solitude, send Hawk back, and get the next ship to Anequina. I can get back to the Sanctuary from there. What about you?”

“Deal with the contract the Listener gave us before we left, then go back. Probably hire a carriage to take us all the way back to Anequina.”

“Contract?” I began, before there was a knock at the door. “What contract?”

“Skogsra took your friend to meet the contact. That’s probably her back now.” Huldra replied, getting up and opening the door.

It only took a second for Hawk to tumble in, landing with a loud thunk on the floor with two bite marks on his neck and a euphoric smile on his face. He lay unconscious, as rigid and unresponsive as a log even when Skogsra stepped over him and dragged him in. The glow of her eyes hid behind her net veil, but even through the thin cloth, the blood staining her lips was easy to see.

“He’s not dead,” Skogsra groaned, tugging Hawk over into the corner, “just overwhelmed. He never even protested once.”

I sighed, shaking my head slowly. Skogsra probably didn’t even have to try seducing him. “How long until he recovers?” I asked, as Hawk groaned quietly.

“About an hour. He’ll be completely fine, don’t worry. You going soon?” She replied, straightening up and removing her veil.

“I’ve got to, sorry. I’d love to stay though.”

“Damn, I was hoping you could stay. We got a contract from one of the Companions. Get rid of the Vigilants and make sure they don’t come back.”

“Why couldn’t they just kill them off themselves? They’re the most powerful warriors in Skyrim.”

“Apparently that’s far too dishonourable for them. Yet performing the Black Sacrament and dealing with the Dark Brotherhood isn’t.”

Vigilant killing, eh? By Azurah, I could only imagine how much fun the Bronze-Heart vampires would have with that.

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