Chapter 3: Vilverin
In the middle of the night, while partying for their admission in the Thieves Guild, the two new pickpockets (Paris and Methredel) ventured to look for a mission in search of fortune. Accompanied by Carwen, they decided to proceed in the exploration of the Ayleid Ruins not distant from Imperial City. What could possibly be hidden in there? I’ve studied so much about it but never seen anything with my eyes, it would be a unique experience for the three of us! Paris easily convinced the two Bosmer girls in undertaking the expedition, so they did directly in the night, after a sip of mead that made them more easy-going about taking risks and confront useless dangers. As they approached the entrance to the ruins, they were nearly spotted by some bandits that guarded the surroundings, but as sisters of the shadows they easily avoided the confrontation, entering the complex.
« Look, another one. They have made it too far for my taste. » Paris pointed a bandit that was set to guard the vestibule, his armor and his battle axe didn’t promise anything good.
« We need a diversion. » Methredel put out from a pocket some little scrolls « A Chameleon spell, get ready. » she said, the other two nodded.
« It can be helpful another distraction, let me do it. » Paris started to focus her stream of Magicka, while Carwen prepared herself trying to hear the sounds around them.
« I can scout the path, he’s not alone and we have to be quick to reach the deep, and safe, structure of the ruins. » after defining their roles in the plan, the three sisters of the shadows tried to make it real.
Three ghosts were going down the stairs of stone, not visible in the shadows of the torches but still clearly hearable for a trained ear. The bandit guard soon got aware of a presence in the vestibule, but the only thing he could see was the shadow of what looked like a fox, that after a light bark faded after the metal gate downstairs. The three soon arrived to a great hall, where the bandits have established their headquarter.
« We have to go South, there’s something right there. » Carwen silently came back to Methredel and Paris, who tried to look at the bandits still shrouded by the Chameleon spell.
« Plumeria, go! » Paris whispered, conjuring again her ghost familiar. The spectral fox ran through the room distracting the bandits long enough to let the pickpockets bypass the guard block and go to the other side of the room. They soon arrived in front of a door, where a glowing tree seemed to sign the right path to choose. Another bandit was guarding the door, but Methredel easily putted him to sleep.
« Methredel! » Carwen scolded her, and the bosmer girl smiled with her transparent figure starting to be more consistent: the Chameleon spell was going to end soon.
« It’s just knocked out, this will give us the time to disappear without being detected. » Methredel said, disposing the bandit’s body on the bed made of rags close to the table, which the Breton stared for a second.
« What’s this? » Paris got her attention caught by a dirty scroll on its wooden surface.
Some of the men were worried about these old ruins being haunted, but Mephala take them -- this spot's going to be perfect for ambushing merchants along the road. And all under the nose of the Imperial Legion!
Finally got some of those big blue stones down today. Berenice got the idea to shoot them down with her bow. Got 'em all here with me. I don't know what they are, but they stink of Magicka.
Bet they'll fetch a nice price with the Mages Guild.
Two-Coins and that khajiit from Vvardenfell set up their camps down in the tomb. Fine by me, spares the rest of us the smell.
Two-Coins ran up today, the Khajiit's gone missing. Swore to the Nine that you could hear claws scrabbling at limestone, but nothing's down there. I'm guessing she got tired of the smell and snuck out overnight. Two-Coins' stench could peel shells off mudcrabs - I'm surprised she hung around that long.
« Mephala… Dunmers among them? » the Breton girl said.
« Paris, there’s no time, we have to go! » Carwen dragged Paris with a hand, making her enter the door to the lower level of the ruins. After a couple of seconds, the bandits arrived to see nothing other than their comrade sleeping, clueless about the intruders. After all, the structure was haunted, so it was normal for them to see such apparitions from the shadows.
« But… what about the loot? There were those stones and… all their stuff! » Paris looked worried about all the things they left in the previous room, Methredel shook her head.
« We have to travel light, everything you want to take, you’ll take it on a second visit. » she said, and the Breton girl nodded, proceeding in the exploration.
« Who’s there?! » a female voice made the three pickpockets hide in the shadows. She must be Two-coins, the bandit that set up her camp right there.
« Let me take care about this… » Carwen winked at her friends, dashing towards Two-coins with agile and silent moves that made the Bosmer girl like a spectral apparition to the bandit. Said elven apparition kissed the woman on the lips, feeling her energies fade away. In a matter of seconds, Two-coins lied on the ground paralyzed, while the three sisters of the shadows abandoned her to go to… a dead end.
« Damn it! » Paris kicked the stone of the wall visibly angry « It can’t be! »
« My spell will not last for long… » Carwen worried about the bandit that could wake up in any moment, while Methredel examined the wall around them.
« Hush, girls, there’s something… » she began to touch the stone in search for that something « This is it! A secret passage! » the Bosmer came back to see the stone moving apart and reveal the path. All the three girls were mesmerized by the moonlight that came from the ceiling. As they continued to walk, disappearing from the sight and the memories of Two-coins, the scene was growing stranger, and darker.
« This is not good. » Paris came closer to the corpse of the Khajiit in the center of the great hall, trying to examine it « Really not good. Oh Nine absolutely NOT good! »
« We got it, Paris. » Carwen scouted the surroundings, focused on what could have possibly killed the bandit.
« So they arrived this far in the tombs. » Methredel stated.
« Yes, this is probably the Khajiit from Vvardenfell… » Paris said, examining the eyes and the wounds of the corpse, something that made Methredel shiver a bit.
« What are you doing? » the Bosmer girl asked.
« Just a little medical examination, nothing you have to worry about. » Paris stated, watching the two friends with a serious glance. « I have an ominous feeling about all this… we’re not alone here. » she added, focusing her stream of Magicka with the purpose of being ready at anything on their path. When they stumbled upon another secret passage, something was going wrong. Just for a second, the Bosmer pickpocket used another Chameleon scroll to shroud the three of them, as that something stared the void in between.
« As Paris said, we’re not alone. » Carwen calmly warned the two, that turned their gaze on the shadow that stood still in the dark. The slender figure was like a smear of ink that trembled when touched by the light reflexed on the stones. The three pickpockets were not sure if the thing had seen them or not.
« What is that thing? » Methredel took her bow, nocking an arrow and pointing to that shadow.
« Let’s hide, it can’t see us. » Carwen whispered, while Paris shook her head.
« It’s not that it can’t see us. » the Breton barely moved her hand, releasing some Magicka « See? The streams of life energy in its body are not originating from… » the phrase was blocked by the creature, that revealed what the three were going out to figure: an undead. Wheezing and hauling, it was going closer and closer to them.
« Damn, it’s quick! » Methredel stroke an arrow on the decomposing creature that literally strode towards them, despite its clumsy moves.
« Let’s do something about this! » Carwen ran around the undead, using the stones to her advantage to jump over it in a backflip. Her skirt lightly opened in the air, revealing the sheathes of her knives. The Wood Elf stroke six of them right in the knees of the corpse, that significantly slowed its movements.
« It’s time we get rid of this! » Paris got out the path of the undead, focusing her Magicka to blast a fireball directly to its chest, setting it on fire. The creature ultimately died in a matter of seconds, letting the girls recover their weapons, their energies and explore the surroundings. They took some loot in the chests located in the tombs, some gold and other useful items that they could sell without effort.
« Elven undead… it’s not a mystery that they got angry after the profanation of their tombs. » Methredel said while keeping an eye on the path, walking cautiously in search for something.
« Ayleid magic is not something to underrate… they had the grasp of so many powers that even the Mages Guild has not enough clues about their knowledge. » Paris stated calmly.
« Such as the stones that stink of Magicka, like the scroll said? » Carwen asked.
« Yes, something like them. I think that Ayleid magic goes way further than that things. » the Breton pensively answered, it’s not the first time for her to confront with Ayleid magic, but it’s for sure the first time she sees it with her eyes, and not only with the stories of her mentor. She felt she was going one step closer to that something she was searching for all her life, and she was not going to let it go.
« There’s another, this one is mine! » Methredel hid herself into a shadow, bounding a little scroll on an arrow that rapidly nocked « Just watch… » she boldly smiled when she stroke the arrow from a relatively long distance, setting on fire the undead that was incinerated in a little explosion.
« Fire gets undead boom, lesson learned! » Carwen calmly went further in the corridor, Paris was not confident as the two Bosmers, mainly because her previous experiences with undead. She was still trying to find the last gear of that machine. What was hiding in Vilverin? Why the dead would rise from their tombs? The three found some chests in an alley, so they decided to share the loot evenly. Paris took only the Welkynd Stone that fell from the pedestal, just one of these, I want to examine it, she thought.
Avoid the next skeletal guards was the best choice the three undertook, so they would go undisturbed in the next level of the ruins, deepening their exploration.
« Step back! » the blonde Bosmer blocked her two friends from walking, while they arrived to the next large room « A trap! » soon, the two pickpockets turned their gaze to the spikes, and then on the skeletal guard to the other side.
« And a friend… » Methredel added, with a bit of sarcasm.
« Maybe if I… » Paris was blocked by Carwen.
« We have to plan something other than fire to defeat this… »
« What were you going to do? » Methredel asked.
« Just make it mad for a few seconds… » Paris scrolled her shoulders, then the three thieves planned something useful to get rid of that obstacle. The Breton blasted a fireball to the skeleton, that instantly got its attention to the three. Once seen its target, the undead guard strode through the room to cover the distance that separated it from the thieves, but soon was blocked by the spike trap, in which its bones got stuck. When the platform returned to its place, only the sword and the shield were visible.
« Good, we have to jump through it. » Carwen stated.
« Nothing difficult. » Methredel started to run to the other side of the room, the light frame of the Bosmer pickpocket lightly touched the floor for so little time that the trap was not activated, Carwen had no problem in performing a long jump all over the distance of the spikes, so did Paris but with less proficiency than her friend, triggering the trap that fell down to the spikes before her, leaving the Breton balancing on the edge of the floor.
« That was close! » she said widening her eyes on the trap.
« Don’t leave us so soon, girl! The expedition must go on! » Methredel dragged the Breton with a hand, and the three arrived in another room, two pillars with three stones each caught their attention.
« These must be some switches like the ones before… but what they will open? » Carwen examined the pillars without touching anything. Something blocked her to proceed, just a feeling.
Methredel and Paris had the same feeling, and a distant sound of screeching bones arrived to their ears. Carwen seriously crossed the Breton’s gaze, nodding about what to do. Paris focused some Magicka to detect the life energies in the surroundings, walking around the room to cover the entire area with her temporary enhanced perception. Soon after, she pointed one of the closed passage.
« There’s nothing here. » she said.
« Which stone would correspond? » Methredel observed the pillars.
« Third on the right, so it would be this… » Carwen pointed to the seemingly right switch, without pushing it.
« What are you waiting for? » Methredel raised an eyebrow, pushing the stone that entered in the pillar triggering the mechanism.
« Wait, we don’t know what… » Paris was going to panic, watching the stones that were sliding apart. Luckily enough, the passage contained only a chest, in which there was the key on the gate located nearby.
« Don’t do anything like this ever again! » Carwen scolded Methredel, that scrolled her shoulders not much touched by that statement.
When the gate was open, the three walked across the next corridor, cautiously avoiding the closest room they reached.
« Not there, I sense the ghosts have taken the skeletons. You could not imagine their powers. » Paris whispered, and the three turned left to the next room. They got so used in exploring Vilverin that they easily defeated the skeleton that was guarding the area… not with a surprise, however. Some arrows sliced the air across the room, Methredel was aware of the archer on the balcony so she dodged the strike hiding herself behind a big cage that hanged from the ceiling. Carwen intercepted the arrow directed to her with a knife, bouncing on the pillars and the walls to quickly jump over the balcony and directly confront the attacker. Paris had barely the time to block the third arrow with a pulse of telekinesis and run across the stairs, followed by Methredel. The skeleton was well prepared as if it was alive and well, and when confronted by Carwen it unsheathed the sword trying to hit the Bosmer with a blow.
« Not so easily, bag of bones! » Carwen unsheathed two knives to parry the cutting blow, instantly kicking the rib cage and dodging the next hit with a backflip, to earn some distance between her and her enemy. Sure, Carwen proved herself to be one of the most agile thieves in Cyrodiil, her will to become famous had not been developed without reason.
« I got it! » Methredel stroke an arrow directly to the arm that carried the sword, aiming to the joint with the purpose of disarming the skeleton tearing off the entire forearm.
« Me too! » at the same time, Paris focused enough Magicka to cast a combined blow, a lightning bolt that scattered the bones of the other arm, literally neutralizing the undead. Carwen took the occasion to dash towards it, finishing the work with a crescent moon kick that scattered the remaining bones all over the balcony. The three were overwhelmed by joy after that clash.
« Teamwork, it feels so good! » Methredel smiled, just like Carwen and Paris, whose attention instantly was caught by a switch next to her. The Breton pushed it, without thinking twice.
« Don’t… » Carwen had not the time to even begin the phrase « … ah, nothing. »
« It was not me! » Methredel widened her eyes on the Bosmer, soon after the gaze of the three turned on the cage that hang from the ceiling, that slowly levitated in the air pulled by the chain attached to it.
What was hiding under it amused the thieves.
« This is beautiful! » Carwen gasped.
« Now this is a valuable object! » Methredel added.
« Mine! » Paris attracted the Varla Stone to her focusing a telekinetic spell on it, letting the artifact fly over her hands.
« Wait a second, girl! We have to share the loot! I suggest I’ll take this one! » Methredel watched the stone while Paris was hugging it like a baby.
« No! » she said « You would sell it! The artifacts here have magical power, we can use them for our purposes! » she looked worried about what the Bosmer would actually do with the Varla Stone.
« Listen… we all know how to use magic objects, thieves are not simple treasure hunters… you should know! » Carwen tried to mediate between the two friends, trying to make Paris think.
« You should not sell this! » Paris seriously looked at the Bosmers.
« We should, a fencer would value this enough to let Armand pass us some missions! We could get a reputation in the guild with this! » Methredel was serious as well.
« We’re not talking about a simple jewel! This is Ayleid Magic! » Paris stated.
While Paris and Methredel were still debating about who would take the Varla Stone, Carwen touched it with the hands gently grasping it from Paris.
« Right, we’re not going nowhere with this conversation. This stone will be mine, so you can fight over something else. » she calmly smiled to her friends, and the two stared at her.
« Well, let’s do something like this, the next thing we find, it’s mine… » Methredel said, and Paris nodded.
« I agree, and the one after that is mine! » after that pact, the Breton grabbed the hand of the Bosmer to seal it with a handshake. Carwen sighed a bit.
« Fine, now we can go on! » she said while leading the way.
The long corridor was calm and quiet, something that led the three thieves the time to think about the difficulties and the obstacles they have passed by during their nocturnal expedition in the Ayleid Ruins.
« What time could be right now? We’re in here since hours! » Methredel asked, watching the surroundings to control the situation, the same thing did Carwen and Paris.
« I don’t know, I have not the cognition of time at the moment… » Paris stated, adjusting her copper hair with a gesture of her hand.
« The sun is going to rise in minutes… » the blonde Bosmer smiled to her friends, still leading the way « … I am amused by this place, the whole area used to be sacred, I wonder what led the spirits to rise again. » she observed, something that let Paris think about the events they recently saw.
« Their tomb was violated by bandits, and us… what else? » Methredel said, as the thing was so simple.
« Well, maybe… » Paris blocked her phrase while the three arrived at the end of the corridor « … no. » she only said, gasping when she saw what was being kissed by the first beams of sunlight. A statue of crystal and meteoric metals shone like a magical treasure, the magical treasure that Methredel was going to reclaim, so she dashed through the swinging blades and caught the statue.
Paris widened her blue eyes, glaring at her.
« Now you… » she was blocked by the Bosmer.
« Remember our pact, Paris! » Methredel added, making Paris sigh, quite resigned.
The three easily overcame the crossroads that led to the Ayleid Statue, going to another corridor.
« Would you please act like professionals from now on? » Carwen asked, while they found another large room that looked somewhat suspicious. There was something different in it, while the other areas of the ruins looked like someone didn’t walked in them for centuries, that one was quite “lively” for their taste.
« Right… professionals… » Paris nodded, trying to calm down.
« No problem, I am a professional! » Methredel ended with a brief smile.
A fireball blocked their conversation, and the three quickly dodged the blast turning their gaze on the attacker. What, or better who, they saw made them not believe in their eyes.
A Reguard Mage stood at the other side of the room, handling a staff with the proficiency of a veteran. He was tall, with long black hair stricken back in a tail, and the glare of a murderer. What made Paris widen her eyes, was the black robe the man was wearing, a red skull sewed on the front, held by two red skeletal hands. It meant only one thing, and the Breton shook her head with disbelief.
« Fresh meat, it will be a pleasure to work with the bodies of who made it so far! » the only thing he said, blasting another fireball that the three avoided scattering across the hall.
« Don’t count on it so easily! » Carwen dashed behind the Necromancer, the same did Methredel, distracting him with no target to aim. Paris stood for just a second, glaring at him.
« So you were the one that resurrected the corpses from their tombs… » the Breton stated, avoiding another fireball hiding behind a pillar.
« It does not matter what I did here, I have not to explain anything to burglars like you! The only thing that matters is your flesh, and I’ll have it come hell or high water! » the Necromancer resurrected two skeletons that were laying on the altars, earning two valuable servants that helped him in defending his sanctum.
« This is not good… Carwen, here! » Methredel took two scrolls from her pocket, passing one of them to Carwen while they were running to avoid the skeletons, which were chasing them throughout the room. Suddenly, they became invisible leaving only Paris to be targetable by their enemies.
« This is not fair! » Paris whimpered to the air, while she dodged another fireball. As the two Bosmers took advantage of the shadows and the Chameleon spell they used, the two skeletal guards scattered in pieces under the eyes of the Necromancer in a matter of seconds.
« Don’t think you’re over with this… » the Necromancer moved his staff, and the skeletons recomposed themselves, as if nothing was done by the pickpockets. Paris focused her stream of Magicka, enough to blast two thunderbolts that scattered the skeletons again… only to see them rise with another move of the Necromancer. It was not easy this time, and the three thieves noted who was clearly ruling the ruins. Just for a second, their minds were invaded by the images of all the undead they defeated during their exploration, seeing them rise as if their intervention was nullified with just a whim of that man. There was only one thing to do, and the three thieves had not the need to explain themselves how to plan the ultimate getaway from that place. While Methredel distracted the skeletons that chase her apart, Carwen and Paris confronted the Necromancer dashing close to him, the result was a clash of knives, dodges and the Necromancer’s staff that sliced the air with every hit, quickly dodged by the two, ready to counter the blows. Paris was soon thrown apart by a hit of the Necromancer, that kept fighting against Carwen while the Breton tried to focus her stream of Magicka and recover. The two were almost equal in battling skills that something had to be done to set an end. Before one could possibly react, the Necromancer pointed his staff on the ground unleashing a shock wave that threw the girls to the walls of the room. Instantly, the skeletons were above them, ready to finish their work. Paris tried one more time to focus some Magicka, but when she was ready to cast a counter spell, the Necromancer moved his staff again, leading some dark energy to her. Instantly, she was not able to cast any spell, anything that required Magicka was now an option to not consider.
« Now, I have seen them all! Three thieves that think they can try to make it against a Mage like me! Your juggling tricks are not enough against REAL Magic! » while Methredel and Carwen were disarmed by the skeletons, the Necromancers took the occasion to rise Paris with a telekinesis spell trying to strangle her « You will be the first. »
As if the man was grasping her neck, Paris tried to free herself with the help of her hands, just the survival instinct that took over the reason. Her words were, at first, a confused blabber without any sense, no one seemed to care because the death of the intruders was now matter of seconds.
« Paris! » Carwen shouted, clearly worried about her friend and, in general, about the situation itself.
« Finish them. » the Necromancer ordered to his undead servants.
« This is not going to end like this! » Methredel tried to free herself, using another scroll to make the skeletons above her and Carwen shun before they could possibly cast their final blows. It was now matter of seconds, and they had to save Paris before the spell that that turned the undead away faded. Though, the Breton smiled to her murderer, continuing her nonsensical blabber, that one that made the Necromancer wide his eyes when it was too late to do something about that.
« … Inferno. » the last word Paris used, and the hell was literally unleashed in the room by her hands. The sanctum was covered in fire, so high that all was turned to a flaming red that surrounded the Necromancer literally incinerating him, so the Breton was free from his grasp. Seconds later, all turned to normality and all the things the Necromancer had brought there were turned to useless scraps.
« Nine! That was close! » Methredel gasped watching Paris a bit surprised.
« Remember to not put you in a corner! » Carwen added ironically, examining the Necromancer’s items. One of the few things that was saved by the Inferno unleashed by the Breton, was a scroll that the Bosmer opened.
« I’m not the type to die in the hands of a flesh maniac… » Paris said, coming closer to her friend while she was recovering a bit with some restoration spells.
« What is that? » Methredel asked, so Carwen started to read the undelivered letter.
Aluc, my friend -
I apologize that I have not written before now, and pray that you worry not. How could you have known that your patrol would stumble across my outing at the cemetery? There was no denying my deed; a sack full of limbs and grave-soil still fresh on my boots. With your men standing by, what choice was there but pursuit, lest they suspect your own true nature? Truly, I am glad it was you to expose me, and not another whose spellfire may not have missed my escape so widely!
My new haven provides safety and bodies to work on, whether those long-dead or hapless bandits; I will be content here for some time, though I dare not yet to say where. Care for Caessue, and know that when the time comes, I shall return to live again in our beloved Daggerfall. Until then, Captain Cardius, remain vigilant and always hidden.
« They’re here… I could never imagine that they would come here, too… » Paris stated without thinking.
« What? » Methredel was perplexed by the Breton’s words.
« What about the undead all over the ruins, by the way? » Carwen asked.
« They’re in their original state of unanimated corpses… it was… how was his name? Jalbert… it was Jalbert that controlled them, and now they can finally rest in peace. Or at least, I hope so. » Paris explained.
« There’s also a key in this chest, and look, gold! Paris, you can take it! » Methredel tossed Jalbert’s coinpurse to her, it contained something like 700 Septims. The Breton smiled, without saying anything else.
« Alright, I see a gate up there that could lead us to somewhere, should we go? » Carwen pointed to the gate, and her two friends nodded. After a while, they were out of the ruins kissed by the warming light of the day and the refreshing air of the morning. Looking at the ruins afar, Paris would swear she heard a voice whisper to her. Your power will not last for long. Jalbert’s voice came to her ears disorientating her for a second, she actually didn’t realize what it was or what the voice meant. As soon as possible, they arrived to the closest inn at the city, they really earned another sip of mead.
On their return to Imperial City, a figure stumbled upon them, and not accidentally. Armand Christophe was looking for them for all the night, and when he first saw the three thieves.
What? An exploration within Vilverin? Fighting with bandits that were haunted by the undead controlled by a Necromancer? Are you MAD by any chance? This is not the thing you can do all alone, at least not yet, you fools!
The scold lasted for half an hour, so the three were desiring so much a place for some rest than anything else. But the day was just begun, and they were not supposed to be lazy by any means.
Your power will not last for long.