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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6. To End A Bloodline

“Don’t be afraid.” The voice purred, as the metal bolt gave out its shrill cry. “This is just a precaution.”

I scrambled up, unsheathing Vixen and taking out an arrow, aiming through the bars at the two figures beyond. One male, one female, both stayed back far enough to be hidden in shadows, and out of range.

“Please, lower your weapon. We’re glad you came here. My husband said your family were efficient.”

The attempt at flattery was better than some I’ve heard before, but Vixen wasn’t losing sight of her target. “You have five seconds to open the gate and give me a good reason for this. You two have opened a very dark door.” I growled, my fingers twitching on Vixen’s thin, taut string.

“The gate is just a precaution. My husband had trouble contacting your family long ago, and advised me on this. Lower your weapon and I will unlock it.”

I glowered, relaxing the string and lowering Vixen, but keeping the arrow firmly in place.

“There, not so hard. I will explain everything, don’t worry.” The woman purred, unlocking the gate and letting it swing open.

My fingers twitched as I leapt out, keeping my eyes on the pair and Vixen primed. They had to be nestled into middle age, with greys speckling the woman’s blonde braid and man’s short dark crop. Fine spectres of wrinkles lined their eyes, and formed the scars of smiles gone by around the man’s lips. Both were dressed quite well, and a golden ring sat securely on each of their ring fingers.

“Now, why did you summon me? To call upon the Dark Brotherhood is to take death by the hand and walk with him. To call upon them in jest is to seal one’s fate with a poison-soaked blade. Tell me, who do you wish killed?”

The man smiled lightly, placing an arm around the woman. “The Dark Brotherhood has changed since our last encounter. Then, vengeance deals were accepted. I doubt you’ll kill Sibbi Black-Briar for the same rate.”

He spoke so casually of murder and the Dark Brotherhood. Of wanting this person, Sibbi Black-Briar, dead. Black-Briar…that was the name on the mead bottle. “Who are you both?” I glowered, sheathing the arrow but securing Vixen in my hand.

He smiled, putting his other arm around the woman’s waist. “I thought your people had an anonymous assassination service. My name is Aventus Arentino, and this is my wife, Runa. I’m sorry to call upon you a second time, but Sibbi Black-Briar has to die, and your family has always been reliable.”

Aventus and Runa Arentino. “Never heard of you, or this Black-Briar you want dead. You’d better explain.” I growled, prompting his smile to fade away.

“I’ll assume you’ve never heard of the tyrant family of Riften, the Black-Briars. Matriarch Maven Black-Briar, fortune’s heir Hemming Black-Briar, dangerous alchemist Ingun Black-Briar, and overlooked Sibbi Black-Briar. Maven Black-Briar died two weeks ago. Her funeral is in two days, at Riften’s temple of Mara. In the fortnight since she died, Sibbi became the only Black-Briar left. He had Hemming murdered, and Ingun charged for it. She was publically executed within the week. Since Sibbi took control, everyone who displeased him was either privately murdered, or executed on false charges. Including...including Constance Michel.”

Constance Michel? “Never heard of any of this. So why exactly do you want this Sibbi Black-Briar dead? I hope you can pay for it.”

“Sibbi murdered Constance Michel! She did nothing to deserve it! Constance Michel was lovely. She didn’t deserve anything bad at all. All she did was look after everyone at Honorhall Orphanage. Yet Sibbi murdered her, and he deserves nothing but death in return.” Runa snapped, clinging to her husband. “Kill him…kill him at Maven Black-Briar’s funeral! I don’t care how you kill him, but do it!”

Ah. Now I got it. A true vengeance kill. Brutal and exhilarating, as Camena would say. “Very well. Though murder is an art for sale. Understand?”

The couple seemed to brighten up, and Aventus reached into his pocket. “Oh we understand. Here’s half, for expenses. You’ll get the rest when Sibbi is killed. Oh, and if you need to avoid the guards, just go through The Ratway, under the city. Just hope you’re friendly with the Thieves’ Guild.”

Thieves’ Guild, oh how long it’s been since I heard that. “I shall coat my arrows in his blood.” I purred, taking the weighty coin purse and giving it a feel.

“Excellent. Once the deed is done, you can find us in Whiterun, either at the Bannered Mare, or around the Gildergreen. If we hear you killed him in front of all the mourners, there’ll be a bonus in line for you.”

Whiterun…that would be easy to get to, though…the ghosts of familiar faces haunted the name Whiterun, yet I couldn’t quite place from where. Riften on the other hand, though unfamiliar in name, perhaps wouldn’t be so easy. “It shall be done.”

“Good. You have two days to get to Riften before the funeral. The carriage should get you there in plenty of time. Oh, and if I were you, I’d keep that hidden somewhere safe. Unless you’re with the Guild, thieves will flock to you like bees to honey.” Aventus replied.

With our business concluded, I parted from the couple and made my way back up to the surface, returning to a cool embrace of night air, and a cloudless sky. Off in the distance, the yelping of a wild animal pierced the night, and the buzzing of insects hovered low in the air. It was gonna be a long journey to Riften, and probably a difficult kill. Public assassinations were never easy. Heading back to the mountain path, I scaled down the steep drop, sliding on the rocks a bit and pulling out a handful of some blue flowers.

Once I was eventually stable, I vaulted up onto the stone dam, leaping across and rolling once on the cold stone, before vaulting off onto the springy earth. Riften…if the carriage could get me there, I’d be sorted. Taking out my coin purse, I approached the carriage driver.

“Going someplace? My carriage is the safest way to travel in the Reach.” The driver asked. Grey haired and balding, the old Nord peered down at me, looking first at the coin purse, then at Vixen and her full quiver perched on my back.

“Where’d you go to? I gotta be in Riften in two days.” I replied, digging my fingers into the purse.

“All the Hold capitals. Fee for Riften’s only twenty septims. Suggest you keep that hidden whilst you’re in the city though.”

The guard pointed at the coin purse as I took twenty septims from it and handed over my fee. “Don’t worry,” I replied, tying the drawstring tight and fastening it securely to my waist belt, “it’s the unwise thief that steals from me.”

The guard chuckled, pocketing the coin as I clambered in the back of the carriage. “All the same, I’d be careful if I were you. Riften’s been a dark and shadowed place ever since Sibbi Black-Briar took over from Jarl Maven Black-Briar. Whatever you do in Riften, don’t get on his bad side.”

A dark and shadowed place, eh? Well the shadows will soon be lifted and replaced with a baptism of blood.

* * *

The horizon was painted in burning gold by the time the carriage pulled up outside the Riften stables. Horses whickered in their stables as the stars began to wake up, and the jangling of horse brasses sung a lively melody. A dark-skinned stable buck draped a purple blanket over a dappled grey horse, and the guards exchanged glances through their hollow-eyed helmets. Clambering down, I gave a nervous look at the guards, clinging onto my coin purse as one approached.

“Visitor to Riften? You here for Maven Black-Briar’s funeral?”

I nodded once, my fingers itching for the bite of Vixen’s string.

“That’ll be six hundred septims. Two hundred general visitor’s tax, and four hundred funeral attendance tax.”

Words got lost in me. Six hundred septims. “You must be joking!” I spat. “This is a bloody shakedown!”

The guard hissed. “Keep it down! You want everyone to hear? Go on, get in with you. It’s your lucky day, lass.” He growled, reluctantly opening the gate for me.

By Sithis, if even the guards are corrupt here, what’s the rest of Riften like? My head kept low, I slipped into the city, and got my first look.

It was a dismal pit, even at sunset. The open city was made of bashed together pieces of wood in vague building-like structures. Strips of black fabric had been strung between buildings in cheap banners left torn and ragged at the edges, and black tapestries had been nailed crudely to the outer walls of the shacks. Two women, a Redguard and I’d guess a Breton, perched on low benches outside what I’d guess was a tavern, and a man clad in iron armour staggered drunkenly across the far plaza. As I crossed the bridge over the canal, the squawks of two women having a catfight down a back alley pierced the mournful cry of beggars down below on the boards. The Redguard woman got up off the bench, the heavy bangles and necklaces on her dark wrists and neck jangling as she drew closer, and one necklace slipped into the plunging neckline of her dress.

“New in town? I could show you around everywhere important. Would only cost you seventy septims.” She purred, running a hand through her long, black micro-braids, and tracing her thumb down her stomach, catching it in the plunge of her deep green dress and exposing a tattoo just above her pelvic line.

“Everywhere important eh? Like where?” I asked, clutching my purse tight in my hand.

“Oh, many places. The tavern, the bunkhouse, or if you like it quick and rough, down the alleys. If you cross the Thieves’ Guild, Kiss and I will be quick to show you a watery grave in the canal.”

Her thumb flicked the fabric a bit more, and the tattoo was fully exposed. A twin-pointed diamond with a filled-in square in the middle, right above her most intimate part. Find the “Thieves’ Cache” mark and expect a gift indeed.

“Really, has the Skyrim Guild sunk so low as to threaten others and employ two-septim prostitutes? By Azurah, they weren’t kidding when they said the place had gone to the dogs.”

It was a risky move, but it seemed to pay off. The woman backed off, letting her dress ping back into covering her tattoo. “A foreign contact eh. So where you from?” She asked, as the Breton woman, Kiss, sidled up next to her. She had on a loose farmer’s dress that had been slashed up both sides and cut down the back. Her lower back was adorned with a tattoo of the “Danger” shadowmark, made of an inverted triangle that had been slashed down the middle, and a circle over the lowest point.

“Anequina. The northern deserts, between Orcrest and Riverhold.” I replied. “Got sent here by the guild’s connector. Wolf’s got ties to most unlawful guilds around here. Heard there was gonna be a sting at the Black-Briar funeral.” I replied, as the lie formed and dripped off my tongue. Only sting at this funeral would be the sting of a well-aimed arrow piercing Sibbi Black-Briar’s throat. It would get some unwanted witnesses away from the scene, and make things a bit easier.

“Sting, eh? Carmjalla never said anything about a sting.” Kiss drawled.

“Doubt they would. Even in Anequina we know of the Black-Briar wealth. A thief would be set for life after robbing their place. Split loot?”

Kiss gave a slight grin, her eyebrow arching. “Well well, Queen. Split loot?”

“Wouldn’t say no. So what’s your name, foreigner?” The Redguard woman, Queen, purred.

By Azurah it had been a long time since I used my thieves’ name. “Silence,” I replied, pausing as a purple-sashed guard marched past.

“Silence, huh? How’d you get that name?”

Ah, what a tale that would be. “As nobody ever hears me come and go.” I purred, clenching my fist as that filthy Bosmer’s voice crawled up like a cockroach from my memory.

Queen and Kiss nodded their approval. “Not a bad choice,” Queen replied, looking over as a young guy emerged from the main entrance to the city. “Like the one over there. Bet I can get him for seventy septims.” She grinned, licking her lips and adjusting her dress so her breasts were barely covered.

Honestly. I thought being a thief was low enough. “Knock it up a bit. Remember, cheapest prices attract the most customers, but nobody wants a wine bottle someone’s already drank from.” I remarked, before slipping into the tavern.

It was a pretty busy place, with tables and chairs placed accordingly around the tavern, and several stools at the actual bar. Most chairs and stools were filled, and the bar staff, four Argonians, were hard at work either sweeping up, at the bar, waiting tables, or dipping in and out of the cellar with barrels of mead or cases of wine. The waiter, an elderly dark-green lizard with a crest of light green feathers, saw me enter, gave a smile, and came on over.

“Welcome to the Bee and Barb, milady. Whether you need food, wine, or a room, either me, my wife Keerava, or my two daughters, Kasaeen and Saleek, will be eager to serve you. If you fancy something a little exotic, we’ve added a new variety to our range of special drinks.” He croaked, taking my arm and escorting me to the bar.

Special drinks? “What would you recommend for a newcomer to Skyrim?”

He broke into a wide scaly grin at that. “Well in that case you must try one of our special drinks. The Velvet LaChance, White-Gold Tower, Cliff Racer, Snowfall, Jarl’s Wealth, and our newest addition, Dragonborn.”

Hmm, I had some gold to spare. “Tell me about the Velvet LaChance, Jarl’s Wealth, and Dragonborn. They sound pretty good.”

“Oh certainly, milady. The Velvet LaChance was one of our first special drinks, made of blackberry, honey, spiced wine, and a touch of nightshade. Perfectly safe though. Jarl’s Wealth is our most exotic, made of Cyrodiilic Brandy, fresh milk, red apple slices, and a genuine pearl dissolved in it. Dragonborn is our newest, consisting of Black-Briar mead, fresh snowberries, and a pinch of fire salts to give it a kick, served over ice. Sound appealing?”

Pearls and fire salts? Doesn’t that make a poison? “I’ll take one Velvet LaChance please. Do you have any rooms for rent?” I replied, taking out sixty septims.

“Sure, we got one. It’s ten gold for the rest of the day. If you’re here for Maven Black-Briar’s funeral, I’ll have you woken an hour before it starts. Saleek, show our patron here to her room.”

The Bee and Barb would definitely be a favourite, and one to return to after a hard night’s killing. Taking the silver flagon and fine goblet in my hand, I followed the dusky green Argonian, Saleek, up the stairs, to a small but modest room.

“Let the family know if you need anything else. Oh, and here’s your key. Enjoy your stay.” Saleek rasped, heading back downstairs as I set down my purchases on the low nightstand, and locked the door behind me.

It was quite a small room, with a bed, nightstand, and a full-length mirror on the wall, reflecting me perched on the bed. With the door locked, I could safely prepare for tomorrow’s assassination, and the chaos that was sure to follow. Necking a goblet of Velvet LaChance, I let the light burn of the nightshade pinch mix with the dry sweetness of honeyed wine in an explosion on my tongue, before pulling out my fine shrouded armour. Tomorrow was going to be a very special occasion. Probably the whole of Riften would be there.

Funerals were always an occasion to die for.

* * *

The clicks were what awoke me. Steady, precise, and a familiar sound. A cluster of quiet metallic noises every few seconds, then a quiet scrape, a sharp snap, and a mumbled curse. My head throbbing, I eased my eyes open, peering through the haze of warm tiredness. A single drop of Velvet LaChance crouched at the bottom of the open flagon, and Vixen sat patiently by the mirror, looking at the jiggling lock.

By Azurah, people weren’t kidding when they said Riften had a thief problem. Slipping out of bed, my dark grey legs stuck out awkwardly as I padded barefoot to pick up Vixen, slip her quiver over my loose Deshaan chemise, nock an arrow, and line it up with the door.

The lock slowly turned, giving off a quiet, high-pitched scrape before a loud clunk, and a silent whisper on the other side. The handle scraped a bit, before turning slowly, and the door swung open.

“Back the hell off!” I yelled, aiming Vixen at the thief crouched in the doorway. Clad in brown leather armour seemingly composed of nothing but pockets, he clutched several lockpicks in his gloved hand. His face was dusky nut brown, with the points of elven ears poking through a thick leather hood. His lips were parted slightly, and within his shadow-hidden face, surprise shone in his beady black eyes.

An incompetent thief who just happens to be a Bosmer. What a bloody surprise! “I’m warning you! Move the hell on!” I snapped, drawing back the string even further and aiming right at his face.

He got up and scarpered, sprinting off downstairs as I fired a warning shot inches from his back. Filthy Bosmer! Half of them are nothing but thieves, and the other half of them are pushing up nightshade blooms. The only way the disgusting little Wood Elf bastards should be.

I lowered Vixen and shut my room door, locking it once more. Azurah knows what that thief was thinking when he tried burgling me, but I bet he was regretting it. Only the thief whose biggest heist is his own life would dare steal from one of the Dark Brotherhood and expect to escape unscathed.

I had other matters to deal with though. Slipping off my chemise, I began pulling on my shrouded armour, feeling the crackle of resistance tingle as I pulled it on. Little sparkles of the blue magic jolted up in lightening arcs as I did the zip and pulled the buckles tight, flowing into my fingertips and flooding me with the warm security of a glowing campfire on a cold desert night. Adding the gloves and boots, I pulled a plain blue and purple farmer’s dress over the top, stuffing my cowl down the front. A pair of black gloves covered my shrouded ones, and a plain grey hooded cloak hid my face in shadow.

Looking like a mourner would make this so much easier. I could get close enough to the target to deliver him swiftly to the Void and not draw too much attention to myself. Slipping on my knapsack under Vixen’s quiver, I picked her up and headed downstairs.

The tavern was almost deathly silent, though grey sunlight seeped in through the windows. The only puncture wound the silence had was the sound of my footsteps as I entered the main bar area and left my key on the bar. The coin purse safely stashed at the bottom of my quiver, I secured Vixen in place, and headed out to Riften.

A few dying stars twinkled in the sky, as it approached the peak of morning blue. Light grey mist crawled up out of the canal and spilled out to fill the city, so only the black tiled rooftops poked up like islands. Across the bridge, black banners hung either side of the rust-toned banners marking one of Mara’s Benevolences, and the clock hands were inching towards quarter-to eight in the morning. Maven Black-Briar’s funeral was in just a quarter of an hour, and I had yet to find a perch from where to cause the anticipated pandemonium.

As I crossed the bridge and approached the Benevolence, a glow of candlelight caught my eye. A small path of tiny lit candles had been made, tumbling down the steps of the Benevolence and snaking down a covered walkway. Masked by fog, I almost missed them, but somehow, following the light path down the walkway seemed as natural as a desert moth chasing a flame. Following the trail, I let it lead me through a stone arch, out into the back of the Benevolence.

A bare table lay pride of place in the graveyard, in front of an ornate mausoleum for a single grave, covered with ‘Guild’ shadowmarks. A twin-pointed diamond with an empty circle in the middle. The table was surrounded by stacks of candles, creating a pyramid of light around the black rectangle that the path I was on lead to. Another candlelit path led away from the pyramid of light, leading back around the Benevolence, which when I peered around lead to the open doors of a stone mausoleum big enough for about twelve or thirteen stacked coffins. The grey stone had been carved with thorny vines and flowering brambles, and looking in, two spaces had already been filled with plain grey coffins.

The Black-Briar family mausoleum. From what the contacts had said, those two coffins must belong to the two already-deceased Black-Briar children, Hemming and Ingun. Huh, people weren’t kidding when they said the Black-Briars were the most influential family in Riften. Bet nobody else would get a grave this lavish.

Eight o’clock was drawing nearer and nearer, and it wouldn’t be long before the funeral would start. I needed a vantage point, and quick. One out of sight. One…above everything else.

I looked up at the pointed roof of the Guild’s mausoleum, where it joined the Benevolence. Drawing closer to the high wall, I leapt up, using the gravestone as an added step to leap forward and grab the wall. My boots scrabbled against the stone as I pulled myself up and hooked my elbows onto the narrow slabs, pulling myself up so I lay parallel to the wall on my stomach.

I sprung up onto my hands and knees, crawling up onto the sloped roof and inching back until I was practically on the roof of the Benevolence. Straddling the tiled outcropping wasn’t the most comfortable of positions, but I was hidden from view, and that was most important. All I had to do now was get into the full set of armour, and wait.

My cowl snapped against the bridge of my nose as the babble of low conversation ballooned up from down in the graveyard. My over-robes and gloves were crumpled on the Benevolence roof, as I drew my legs in and listened. Over the chattering, a few quiet plucks and the low whistling of the flute were audible, and peering down, I could see a small gathering of musicians on flutes and the lute warming up.

By Sithis I must have been cutting it fine. Sitting up slightly, I rocked forward onto my hands, looking down the side as the sound of doors opening rang out behind me, and the musicians began to play their dirge over the hollow sound of tramping feet.

Maven Black-Briar’s procession came into view slowly, led by a Dunmer woman in priest robes. Her coffin was pure black, left open, and carried by six Imperial soldiers in rust-toned leather. Inside, she lay on pure white cloth in a fine set of white robes under a sea blue jacket edged with grass green and embellished with gold. A brown and gold leather belt encircled her waist, a fine gold chain adorned with a bright sapphire hung around her neck, and a thick fur stole wound around her shoulders before meeting together with a golden brooch.

She was probably quite a handsome woman in her time, but age and death had stolen that, leaving her hair a fragile cloud grey, and etching deep wrinkles around her eyes, neck, and under the greenish circlet upon her forehead. She may have been notorious in life, but at least her body looked peaceful in her coffin, whilst her soul screamed in the Void.

The procession moved out of sight and I paused, looking across at the far wall. A statue of the banned god Talos stood solemnly against the wall, looking down at the small shrine placed in front. His winged helmet pointed up at the wooden planks nailed on top of the wall, and the thin ivy vine that had crossed between the two.

It was the vine that gave me the idea as the music stopped down below. Sitting back, I slipped off my quiver and took out an arrow, before reaching down to the bottom, and pulling out the thin braided rope.

“Citizens, we are gathered here today to honour the matriarch of the Black-Briar family. Maven Black-Briar, Jarl of Riften.” The priestess began, as I tightly fastened the rope to the arrow, and clamped it between my thighs. Inching forward, I expected the priestess to carry on, when a loud and drunk male voice rang out.

“The bitch ain’t Jarl no more! Let ‘er rot!”

The priestess lightly cleared her throat, then carried on, blanking the drunken sot.

“Those of you who knew Maven Black-Briar knew her as a shrewd business woman, with a wise mind, and a tender heart for her three childr-”

“Well that’s a load’a horse crap!” The man yelled again.

“As we commend her soul to Aetherius, blessings of the Eight Divines upon her. Let Arkay see fit to take her into his hold an-”

“Ah for the love o’ Talos will you shut it, woman! The old bitch would’a made Molag Bal himself run screaming in terror. Just fling ‘er corpse in the mausoleum an’ let the bitch rot!”

The venomous bubble of dislike was rapidly growing just beneath my breastbone, and it was aimed right at him. Taking out Vixen, I nocked an arrow into her and drew back the string. Wonder if I could take out the mouthy n’wah after I’ve taken out the target?

“Jarl Sibbi Black-Briar, would you please have some respect for the dead?” The priestess snapped, spitting venom at him. Aha, so that was Sibbi Black-Briar. The loudmouthed drunken s’wit. This was getting better and better.

“Just shut it, ya filthy elf! We’re done with ya whinin’ an’ bloody prayin’ for the bitch! She didn’t deserve no respect for nothin’!”

This was getting better and better. Inching forward a little bit, with the roped arrow clamped in place, I leaned forward and caught sight of the target, Sibbi Black-Briar.

He was mainly obscured by a hat and the poor angle, but I could still get a good look at him, and a good shot. Dressed in a brown quilted jacket, he staggered around behind Maven’s coffin, shoving the priestess out the way.

I lined up, closing one eye and pointing the arrow right at him as he shoved the priestess again. “Go on, clear off! Ge’ back to ya time wastin’ an’ let us useful people get on with our –”

I let the arrow fly, piercing him right through the shoulder and down into his chest. Blood splattered over his fine clothes, arcing out from the wound and staining the barren earth as he toppled sideways and down, landing with a crash upon his mother Maven’s open casket.

Flames leapt up on his clothes, tearing ugly black bites in the fabric as the smell of burning reared up over the cries of the witnesses. “Assassin! Murderer!” Their bird-like screeches slashed the air over the flapping flames, as the first steel arrow whistled through the air, and struck a nearby tile.

My old escape route was shelved. An arrow and rope wouldn’t be my line of escape after all. Stashing the roped arrow back in my quiver, I peered down at the crowd below. Through the smoke waves breaking off Sibbi’s corpse, I could see them all. Commoners, priests, nobles and guards. The guards especially, clad in sashes of dusky purple, with cruel swords and smart arrows raised up to betray me.

I didn’t think, just acted. I gathered up my over-robes, spreading out the clothes and letting them balloon down to shroud Maven and Sibbi’s bodies in a cloak of fire. The gloves became handle-less torches to be ignited on the candle pyramid, and the cloak became my buttress, holding up the fire wall.

Maven’s coffin was now completely ablaze, blocking off the Guild’s mausoleum with a solid ward of flame. The fire-engulfed corpse of Sibbi Black-Briar lay partially inside the mausoleum arch, slumped at a drunken angle. As an arrow narrowly skimmed the front of my cowl, I slid off the roof, landing behind my burning ward and crunching up small, forcing my knees into my chest and almost pushing my lungs out from the jolt. The peppery air was becoming thicker as my over-robes shrivelled, and the smoke tore at my eyes.

Blinded, I staggered back, landing on the lonely sarcophagus and lodging a gloved finger into a hole, surrounded by a bas relief of the ‘Guild’ shadowmark. When I pulled my finger out, the stone trembled, clicking once before falling away from under me and letting me tumble into the darkness beneath.

Numbness flooded my skull as I hit the wooden grate, laying frozen before the cold seeped in. I scrabbled and righted myself, using the light envelope at the opening to guide my way. It was simply typical of my former Guild to hide secrets in plain view like this. Though for the Thieves’ Guild, a flight of steps under a fake sarcophagus was almost too slick an idea for them. Tugging on the nearby chain sent the sarcophagus back into position, blocking off all light and trapping the damp air in with me. Above, the cawing was muffled, but it wouldn’t go easily. I had to escape further, and the rotting sewer grate was my will of Sithis. Taking off the grate, I inched my way down onto the ladder; dragging it back as I inched down further. The Thieves’ Guild was used to dealing with particularly unsavoury customers.

Yet blood and fear are sweetest of all.

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