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!


20. The Last Contract

“What is the garment of innocence?”

“The shroud, my brother.”

“Welcome home…”

I sent Hawk in with the Night Mother’s coffin raised up onto his shoulders. His constellation power – what was it again, Chains of Prometheus? – should make getting it to the Black Shrine easy enough.

“Sure this is where it’s supposed to go?” He groaned, staggering in front of me down the corridor.

“Positive. Every Sanctuary has a raised stone plinth in it now that the Night Mother’s crypt in Bravil has been desecrated.”

“And this one had to be right at the top of a bloody staircase.” He sighed. “If you hear a loud thud and me cursing, the Warrior’s power ran out early, so prepare a few healing potions.”

If it’s really that heavy I’ll get Effe-Zeeis to finish the job. “On it.” I replied, ducking into the armoury.

The sound hit me as the doors swung open, filling the Sanctuary. Sat astride the grindstone, Effe-Zeeis was singing to himself as he made his way through sharpening the mound of daggers by his side. Must be time for him to temper his collection again. Explains why he’s singing again.

“There once was a lady as fair as an evening in springtime in old Stros M’Kai.

Her lips were a chalice, her bosom, a palace, and I stabbed it with the end of my knife!”

He reached over laying a dwarven dagger in the smaller pile before taking out a glass dagger and beginning again.

“There once was a lady as fair as an evening in springtime in old Stros M’Kai.

Her lips were a chalice, her bosom, a palace, and I stabbed it with the end of my knife!”

Sweet Sithis, he’s got two of each type and sings that for every single dagger he sharpens. Claims it’s the perfect tune to temper by, as each line lasts the perfect amount of time for each side to be sharp enough to cut through muscle like butter. As perfect as it may be, it really begins to grate after the first few rounds.

“There once was a lady as fair as an evening in springtime in old Stros M’Kai.

Her lips were a chalice, her bosom, a palace, and I stabbed it with the end of my knife!”

“For the Night Mother’s sake, you have the voice of an Alfiq giving birth to a Senche-raht!” Camena yelled from across the hallway.

“Woman, two things get to be free when I’m sharpening my babies! My daggers and my soul!” He yelled back, not even bothering to turn around as his tail thrashed against the grindstone.

Though our chamber door was closed, I could hear Camena rolling her eyes at the Argonian’s response, then wince, air hissing between her teeth.

Ah, that Altmer. Must have injured herself on a contract and didn’t want the taste of a healing potion to bring back any bad memories. Taking some lady’s mantle leaves from Rosette’s supplies, I left the singing lizard to his dagger collection and went into our shared chamber.

“So how many rounds of his song have you put up with so far?” I asked, perching on my bed as Camena glanced over. The desert wind still flowed through her hair, blending with her rosewater perfume, and the desert sand had yet to be brushed out from the velvet of her black cape.

“Since he started with simple iron. I’d assume around ten, but one tends to lose count.” She replied, taking out the flawless sapphires braided into her hair. It curled free as she took down the flower crown she’d braided, spiralling onto the black and purple silk of the gown she’d got from somewhere. “How are you anyway, Savil? How was your second trip to Skyrim?”

“I’m doing well. It was…eventful, to say the least.” I replied. Should I tell her the full details? Well…telling her about the ghost, the two Daedric Princes, and the Count of Cheydinhal wouldn’t be best. Though she did like when power tripping officials got their dues.

“I killed the High King of Skyrim, Ulfric Stormcloak. Bit of a side role in his death really, but he’d have killed me the second he saw me in Windhelm.”

“High King Ulfric Stormcloak? Did he not have a hand in some kind of purge?” She exclaimed, turning to face me once she’d taken her hair down. The black belt on her gown was adorned with the twin gold arrowheads of the Thalmor, and a fresh wound still dripped a little blood down her cheek.

“That he did. Here, scrunch up the leaves a bit and hold them to the wound. It’ll close up in a few minutes.” I replied, handing her the lady’s mantle leaves. “Another Thalmor Justiciar throwing a soiree to show off their wealth again?”

She nodded, rolling the leaves in her hands and pressing them to her cheek. “Justiciar Murira turned out to be a trap though. His mother was a Charmaine before she married.” She paused, biting her lip. “A good branch of his mother’s family tree were there. None of them actually recognised me until it was too late, but one had a dagger in his robes. Slashed me before his head divorced his shoulders.”

By the Gods. “Are you…will you be alright? I’ll be right here in the Sanctuary if you need me.” I replied, holding my hand out for her.

She nodded, placing her free hand to mine, fingers spread out like a spider’s legs. “I’ll be fine, I promise. I should be the least of the Sanctuary’s concerns though. Skogsra Bronze-Heart appears to have reached the last stage of vampirism and shows early signs of bloodlust. The lamb hasn’t fed in over a week. I doubt she’ll ever complete a contract again.”

I don’t blame her. Were my family bound in blood and blades gone forever, I wouldn’t be able to do anything either. “Shall I go down to the tomb and encourage her to feed?” I asked.

“If you wish to, but do be careful. You do realise what day it is for Rosette, right?”

The tenth of Morning Star. Of course. Rosette would be in the tomb all day, braiding a wedding garland of nightshade big enough to encircle her Orion’s sarcophagus. Seven years it had been since he brought her into the Sanctuary in a whirl of white and nightshade; the new glint of gold on his finger shining with his knife and poisons.

“I’ll give her plenty of space. She deserves some private time with Orion.”

The last thing I wanted was to interrupt Rosette’s mourning. After Boethiah’s realm, she deserved all the time with Orion she could get. Bidding Camena farewell to heal her wounds, I made my way down to the Sanctuary tomb where our youthful vampire had holed herself up.

She hissed at me as I approached, curling up further into the corner of the cave we made into a tomb. Her cheeks had hollowed in to where her skull was visible under her skin, her eyes glowed like torch flames, and her fangs seemed more like sabre cat teeth. At her side, a single urn rested upon the shelf for those returned to ashes, her hands had been rubbed raw, and her ribs showed through the holes in her robes.

“It’s ok, you know.”

“No, it’s not!” She snapped. “It’s not ok anymore. It never will be!”

She hissed again as I got a little closer, backing up against the cave wall with her knees to her chest. “Leave us be, Savil. You mean well, that we know, but please leave me with her.”

“Skogsra, you haven’t fed in over a week- -”

“I don’t care!” She hissed, cowering into herself, her head bowed down to rest on her knees. “Feeding will only bring one of us back.”

She whimpered as I knelt down by her side, shaking like a wild animal that had been cornered. She felt like iron under my hand as I touched her shoulder, and corpse-cold skin showed through where her robes had torn.

“I underst- -”

“No you don’t!” She snapped, jerking her head up and hissing at me. “Don’t you dare pretend that you understand one bit! You have never been torn away from the one person you were closest to. The one who you loved and pined for, your missing piece, for thirty years. And then when you think it’s over, and you’ll never be apart from them ever again, they’re torn away once more. Only this time it’s forever. So don’t you dare pretend you know what it’s like! You have no idea how it feels to be strung along all of your undead life, only to find out it’s not all ok in the end.”

She reached out and clutched the silver urn, holding it to her chest and rocking with it. “I can understand why she joined the Vigilants now. Why she wanted to destroy all worshippers and servants of the Daedra. Before I brought her into the corrupted light of Molag Bal, the bloody silence of Sithis, she thought I was gone for good. Torn to pieces by what we’d been taught to fear since old enough to even know what fear is. What she thought had become of me, I know has now befallen her, and it hurts just as much as when we were first dragged apart.”

She shuddered and clutched the urn even tighter as I replaced my hand on her shoulder. “You’re right. I don’t understand, and I never will. But I do understand that Huldra loved you. You were her twin sister. Her flesh-and-blood family, her clan, and her Dark family in the sanguine night of Sithis. She loved you and wouldn’t want to see you hurting yourself in this way.”

She whimpered, a tear-free sob catching in her throat. “It won’t bring us both back though. Just…just…”

“Just end the burning in your throat. Give the pains a swift and beautiful death.”

So many times I’ve heard the twins complain about the burning pains of bloodhunger. How it scratches and dries the throat, and the next brimming goblet or hunting trip is always sweeter than the last. A little reminder of the pain may be just what’s needed to get the blood-starved vampire to feed.

Skogsra looked up, still clutching the silver urn to her chest. “But…Savil, what if I give you…you know, this?” She muttered, her fangs beginning to shine wet with craving.

“Rosette has plenty of mandrake root. I’ll eat some afterwards. Come on now, it’ll be ok. Huldra wouldn’t want you to be in any pain and you know it.”

She let the urn rest back in its place, a faint red glow rising in her palms as I undid the first two buckles on my armour and exposed my bare neck to her. “I promise, it’ll be all right afterwards.”

She vanished, dissolving into nothing but a flock of shrieking bats before reforming behind me with a hiss. “I love it when dinner walks right into my arms.” She hissed as her arms wound around me, nails digging in as she jerked my head aside

It was like a dull punch at first. A hit from a drunk brawler right in the neck, but at the same time it throbbed with every heartbeat. The wet warmth oozing down my neck was what gave it away that Skogsra had actually bitten me. Her fangs must have grown long enough to tear the skin instead of piercing it, letting a little blood escape the wound and run hot and wet from my neck. A little piece of the burning right where her fangs embedded themselves in my neck. Hotter than anything I’d ever felt before, even wielding flames in my hand.

What hurt most was when she withdrew her fangs, letting the blood pool a little before biting into the old wounds once more. “Stop struggling, mortal! All you’re doing is prolonging your own pain.” She hissed, her words thick with wet blood as she gripped me tighter, letting the red glow in her palms draw out fresh blood through my skin.

Though she was a Dark Sister, Skogsra Bronze-Heart could be terrifying when she fed on another member of the family. The bloodhunger made her act more animal than human, holding her victim in place and hissing like a feral Alfiq. She said once that the victim’s primal fear during being fed on only pleases the father of vampires, and in praise of He who gifted her vampirism, invoking fear during feeding is one of her main goals.

Everything had become a blur by the time she let go, her fangs withdrawing back to normal length and her cheeks becoming less hollow. Limp in her arms, I shuddered and staggered, the wound burning as she pressed a scrap of cool fabric to my neck.

“You ok, Savil?” She muttered as I forced myself to sit up, back straight so the wound stayed above my heart. Gods, plain lady’s mantle leaves wouldn’t heal this injury.

“Yeah…yeah, I’m fine. I promise. Has the burning pain gone?” I gasped.

“Mm-hm. Savil…thank you for this. For everything. Here, let me help you stand up. You gonna be ok?”

I nodded, then immediately regretted it as the wound sent a spark of shock through my neck. “I’ll get myself a health potion and eat some mandrake root. By the way, I brought you back a gift. Hawk has it, so when you’re ready, go and ask him about the mace.”

As much as I appreciate him taking Molag Bal’s torture stick off my hands for a bit, sheathing the weapon at the same belt as Goldbrand was asking for trouble of the Daedric variety. Neither of us would use the weapon, and his mace would be a perfect gift for a secret worshipper of Molag Bal.

“You have? Wow…thanks, Savil. I’ll go speak to him. Where is the arrow to your quiver anyway?”

Gods, and the teasing begins. “Setting up the Night Mother’s coffin in the Black Shrine.” And probably resisting the urge to give it a hard kick.

“I’ll go see him when he’s done then. Thank you, Savil, for everything.” She purred, pulling me into a hug and helping me stand steady. “Now get out of here and get yourself a health potion before you pass out on me.”

A faint smile framed her fangs as she bade me farewell, watching as I staggered up from the tomb and through the main room to the armoury with Rosette’s supplies. With Effe-Zeeis engrossed in sharpening an ebony dagger and refining his impression of a Khajiit giving birth to a cactus, I was left in peace to down the red bottle of sweet, fruity potion and let it close the bite wound on my neck.

Oh, right, Hawk said to bring him one too. Taking another red bottle, I made my across the main room to the doors of the Black Shrine.

“That you, my flame atronach?” He yelled as I approached the staircase. “This thing probably weighs the same as a mammoth!”

“Well it is solid iron. You still need this.” I replied.

“Think so…agh…got it!” He exclaimed, before staggering downstairs and almost collapsing into my arms. “That thing weighs a ton even with Chains of Prometheus.”

I handed him the bottle and let him slip his arms around me, holding him by the waist as he downed the entire potion in one go. “I can imagine. You gonna be alright?”

“Sure, sure, I’ll be fine. No need to let your inner fires burn low for me, my little flame atronach.” He replied, chuckling and slipping his arms around me in return, kissing the top of my head through my hair. “I’ll be absolutely fine. Is everything alright then, everyone here doing well?” He added.

“Everyone I’ve seen so far is doing well. Though today…today’s one of the few days Rosette dedicates to remaining at her Orion’s sarcophagus. Anything involving her will have to wait until the moons have set once more.”

He nodded, a soft hand tilting my chin up for him to kiss me on the forehead. “I understand, I’ll leave her in peace. Is she in the tomb?”

“Yes, by his sarcophagus. Skogsra’s in there too, by her sister’s urn. It’s only right for her to have Molag Bal’s mace. Her faith helps in aching times.”

He sighed, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the mention of Daedra worship. “Shall I give it to her?”

“Go ahead. I’ll be waiting.”

It was as he kissed me once more and made his way to the tomb that I spotted a familiar feline lurking by the kitchens, watching as her tail flicked. She wore a smile beneath her whiskers, her lips glittered with moon sugar, and she licked lilac crystals off her paws.

“Young love is something to be admired, no? This one can see it blooms like the sugar canes within Savil.” She purred.

Red Mountain glowed in my cheeks. “Sorry, I’ll tell him to keep it private from now on. Can’t understand why he likes to do that whenever he can.”

Daro’Rihana chuckled, her tail raising behind her and curling at the end. “Do not try to understand that one’s way of showing how he feels, Savil. Love was not meant to be understandable. Vaba Thjizzrini. It is a foolish concept. There is no point trying to understand the Thjizzrini. Just get enjoyment from it. Love him back like how Khajiit can see that one loves Savil. He will be your Orion yet, flame atronach.”

She purred and drifted back into the kitchens, tail swishing behind her as she made her way straight for where Camena hides the moon sugar.

Odd cat. Still, at least she doesn’t mind it when Hawk calls me that. Or she’s so full of moon sugar that her idea of normal is what we call strange.

Really need to tell Camena she needs to find a new hiding place for the moon sugar. That damn Khajiit can go through six bowls in one go if she’s allowed to-

“My child.”

The whisper echoed through the corridor to the Black Shrine, rushing through me with the heady perfume of roses on a new grave. “Night Mother?” I whispered, and the doors to the Black Shrine rattled.

“Come to me, my child. Come alone. You are the Listener. I will speak to you, look over you, for you are the one.”

Daro’Rihana’s moon sugar problem could wait. I turned and bolted up the stairs to the Black Shrine, almost tripping over the five empty coffins for the Night Children. There, stood in front of the ruined statue where the last Listener met her end, the Night Mother’s coffin seemed to encase a glowing light deep within.

“You who stands in awe of my iron tomb, my Listener. Warm my ancient bones. Bathe me in the burning light that Sithis has been waiting for, all these years.”

It really was the Night Mother, speaking to me from within her coffin. Kneeling in front of the iron casket, I slid in a lockpick and began fiddling, flirting with the pins and tumblers, locking them in place until the twin doors swung open.

“Such a loyal daughter you are to your mother.” She whispered, though her rotted lips never moved. Her head had slumped onto one shoulder, eyes sewn shut and jaw left hanging open. The skin on her arms clung to the bones beneath; the twig-like limbs had been tied with rope to keep them crossed over her chest, and a ragged, once-white dress marked the clothes she died in and served as a kind of shroud.

“Ah, silent air. Such a sweet gift for my ancient body. Dear child, my Listener, Sithis himself has a final contract for you. I am the Black Sacrament, and I am your only salvation. Come. Embrace me in the flames of death. Return me to my children, give back me to their father.”

I froze. The silent corpse stood waiting, watching without eyes to see. “Night Mother…sweet Unholy Matron, I- -”

“Listener, the Dread Father has pleaded to his child. Return me, deliver me to the Void.” She hissed, silencing my protests as distant wails whistled through the room. “You dare to dishonour your Mother?”

The shadows began moving as I opened my mouth to protest; screams and wails flooding the Black Shrine as the doors rattled and banged together.

“Alright…I’ll do it…dear Unholy Matron.”

Flames buried under the ashes began to grow within me, flooding down my veins and into both palms. Red Mountain trembled, baying for release as the first Mer of the Ashes shrieked my name in chorus with our better ancestors. Their words growed, became battle cries in my palms. “Ae altadoon Dunmeri! Ae altadoon Resdaynia!” They roared as I drew it all in, gathering it into my palms before it erupted into a cloak of flames engulfing and flooding the Black Shrine.

“Embrace me now. I am your salvation…” The Night Mother groaned, pain in her every word.

“Yes, Night Mother.” I replied, flames still licking all over me as I took our Unholy Matron’s corpse into my burning arms. She burned and smoke coiled from her like fingers, weaving into my mind…prying it open…making it all…go…dark…

“My Listener. Sleep…”

“Savil, NO!”

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