Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 23

Door dutchinteldude op dinsdag 8 november 2016 20:55 - Reacties (3)
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En we gaan in een stroomversnelling deze keer alweer chapter 23 vandaag!!

Namens mijn vriendin (die het schrijft) en mijzelf weer veel leesplezier!

Trouwens kijk ook even op het volgende youtube kanaal het is een super vriend van mij die verschillende lets plays en ook super super super giveaway gaat doen voor kerst! dus check zijn kanaal en het zou super zijn als je subscribed! \o/

https://www.youtube.com/user/DragonsGamingInc en kijk het volgende filmpje voor de give away informatie (veel star citizen stufff ) ^^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ87nOYLk2c&t=194s

Voor de rest VEEL LEESPLEZIER!

Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 23

Summary:

Nothing builds a friendship like a near-death experience while chased by evil underground elves that didn't make Santa's selection.


Chapter 23

It had taken Ancano and Ondolemar many hours, but a few days after Ondolemar had sent Calcelmo of Markarth a coded letter, they received a likewise, coded package that took them some days to deciper. It contained all the information they needed. After cross-referencing the coordinates to a map, they found that Alftand lay two hours away South South-West from Saarthal in the tundra.

Anticipating a heavy trek, they had gone on foot, which proved to be wise as it wasn’t long before the snow reached their waists. Ganir voiced to Ondolemar how he had found it strange as no snow had fallen for a few days, but they found the reason as to why soon enough as they scanned the surroundings and horizon for any sign of a Dwemer ruin. Had they not possessed such keen eyes, they would’ve walked straight past the bronze dome atop the Dwemer stone, carved tower which was surrounded by the remains of an encampment which had been destroyed by an avalanche. All that remained standing was the tower, partially covered by snow, which was inaccessible from the outside as it was locked by yet to be determined means. They found a chest nearby with tools, supplies and a journal.

It appeared they were not the only ones intent to find Blackreach as the journal belonged to one of the Synod; a certain Sulla Trebatius. What they first thought to be fragments of splintered wood turned out to be a walkway that led into an icy tunnel where they made yet another gruesome discovery. Blood was spattered all over the walls and the bedrolls. Tools lay bloodied on the floor and crates lay shattered and broken everywhere. As unnerving as the scene was, it was the lack of bodies that disturbed them the most.

“Something attacked them...” Ganir had taken a gander at the bloodstains and found an odd-shaped arrow embedded into a supporting pillar. He had never seen such a cruel, crude projectile. Normal arrows consisted of one arrowhead made of chitin, steel, moonstone and in the rarest cases glass, ebony or even Daedric. But this arrow, while also made of chitin, had not one, but two pincer-like tips on the arrowhead that would dig itself into one’s flesh, capable of piercing armor, and if one were even able to survive the poison somehow, it would prove particularly, if not impossible, to remove it without causing more injury. “Just look at this.”

Ondolemar took the arrow from him and whistled, “It doesn’t come as a surprise to find that there’s Falmer lurking about here. It would explain the gruesome scene. They’re very territorial. I had to deal with one that had snuck into Calcelmo’s museum.”

“They seem like a nasty lot. Cirilonde told me about the fate that befell the Synod in Mzulft. They didn’t stand a chance…” Ganir’s senses peaked as he tried to listen if he could detect any life nearby, but it seemed they were alone for now. “Did I tell you about that?” He rubbed some of the smeared blood between the tips of his fingers and smelled it. Poison…

The High Elf shook his head. “No. Nor was I aware the Synod’s presence was so prominent in Skyrim.” Judging by his tone, Ondolemar didn’t hold them in high regard.

Ganir couldn’t help but chuckle. “Savos quite fittingly compared them to cliff racers. They and the College of Whispers have been trying their hardest to gain some ‘cooperation’ of sorts with the College, who intends to remain neutral. Hence why the Synod are probably here to try and take whatever they can find from Skyrim to lobby for favor and influence with the Elder Council. They found an ancient Oculary in Mzulft; a Dwemer Ruin near Windhelm that could detect artefacts of great power. Cirilonde went there in search for information on the Staff of Magnus at the time, but found the expedition butchered by the Falmer…” As Ganir told Ondolemar everything, he rummaged through the belongings while Ondolemar skimmed the contents of the journal to find more information or clues. “Only one person survived, Decimius, who had locked himself away in the Oculary. When he realized who she was, he accused her of the intention to sabotage his work and take the knowledge for herself. Because he was too much of a liability, Cirilonde killed him and she destroyed the Oculary, for it had not only detected the Eye’s presence, but also that of the Staff.”

Ondolemar shuddered to think what would have happened if it had not been Ancano, but a desperate member of the Elder Council that got their hands on either the Eye or the Staff. “It seems these Synod were so blinded by the promise of something powerful hidden away here they completely ignored the dangers that lie within the Dwemer ruins of Skyrim…Idiots.”

“Saves that we’re both prepared and experienced,” Ganir said. “I’ve delved into plenty of Dwemer ruins back in Morrowind.”

“Let’s go then. Best not to linger in any case.” Ondolemar gave a curt nod for Ganir to take the lead, which was probably safer. While the High Elf had cast a spell that enabled him to see in the dark, he trusted the Dark Elf vampire’s enhanced senses more.

They walked down the winding, frozen tunnel, supported by wooden beams. Slowly but surely, the ice grew thinner and the beams made place for solid, stone and carved walls of a Dwemer ruin that had to be part of Alftand, or lead there. This alone wasn’t an assurance, but they also welcomed the warmth that emanated from the massive pipes overhead which were secured with steel bolts and beams.

“Where is it?!” The sudden exclamation had both elves stop dead in their tracks.

Ondolemar was so startled he gripped his chest and swore under his breath, which was muffled by Ganir who put a gloved hand over his mouth, grabbed him and pushed the both of them against the wall. “Quiet.” Ganir whispered as the both of them heard the distinct pitter-patter of clawed feet coming closer.

“I know you’re trying to keep it for yourself J’Zharr! You always try to keep it for yourself!” The tunnel they had come from led to a dim-lit, stone hall. The hum of the steam-powered cylinders and the lanterns was the only sound heard. Peering past the pillar, they saw a mangy, emaciated Khajiit walk around. He looked jittery and crazed, holding a bloodied axe in his shaking claws. He seemed to be looking for something…or someone. “Just a little bit for J’Darr, brother. Why you do this to me?” The Khajiit whined.

Though the Khajiit’s presence was disturbing, Ondolemar’s attention was held by the vampire whose hand lingered on his neck while another arm was wrapped around his waist to hold him in place. As lithe and athletic as he was, the Dark Elf was incredibly strong and he smelled of leather, the wilds and blood.

The High Elf shifted to have a gander himself, but the Dark Elf held him in place and released a soft growl in warning, which made the hairs on the back of his neck rise. A shudder ran down his spine as they remained in this rather awkward position, but he felt strangely comfortable. He wasn’t sure what was going on in Ganir’s mind at the moment as he watched the Khajiit like a hawk that wandered off after a few, tense minutes. When Ondolemar made to pull away, Ganir still held him in place. “Wait a moment…” After a short while, when Ganir was sure the Khajiit was gone, he let go of Ondolemar. “Sorry about that, but I’d rather not deal with a skooma-crazed Khajiit. They’re very dangerous and unpredictable.”

“I wonder how he even managed to survive given the state he’s in.” Ondolemar and Ganir carefully made their way into the hall, which led from the tunnel they had come from into another as the solid, steel gate which showed no indication it could be opened.

Near this gate, stood two, stone tables littered with soul gems, Dwemer steel plates and other odd ornaments that Ondolemar identified to be ‘gyros’ and ‘dynamos’. Ondolemar grabbed a pile of papers and scanned the contents. “Seems that whoever this Sulla Trebatius and Umani are, they were spotted by a Falmer scout that returned with his ‘friends’ to ambush them. The Khajiit must be the sole survivor, driven mad by the deprivation of skooma and horrors he witnessed…”

“Very likely.” Ganir peered into the darkness beyond the gates but didn’t see or hear anything of interest. “We best be careful to not be caught off-guard by them or the Khajiit.”

They followed the Khajiit’s footsteps into the other tunnel and found it had partially collapsed due the recent avalanche. The Synod weren’t to be deterred and had dug their way through to emerge in another part of the ruin; a sloped hallway leading upwards lit by a single torch that lay on the ground next to a puddle of blood.

They had barely come closer to it when they heard the racket of iron clashing with stone and something heavy, followed by a blood-curdling howl. “AAIIIIEEE! No! No! Leave J’Darr alone!” They heard the Khajiit screech and wail while his claws obviously dug into the stone floor in an attempt to get away while guttural snarls and hissing noises came from other, yet to be identified beings, but Ondolemar and Ganir both were quite certain it were Falmer.

Ondolemar didn’t hesitate a second and kicked the torch into the puddle, dousing the flame before pressing himself against the wall next to Ganir. Aside from the darkness, the stone and steel pillars would hide them, should they come. “Whatever you do, be completely silent…” Ondolemar spoke as soft as he could, barely hearing himself over the pounding of his heart. “Falmer are blind, but they can hear a pin drop into the snow from many yards away.”

“Stay close then.” Ganir led the way and they snuck their way up, crossing over to hug the other wall and peek around the corner where they saw the Khajiit crawling over the floor at the far end. Patches of his fur had been torn if not stained with blood and he was missing an eye. Suddenly, a wicked, hunched over shadow crept from around the corner behind him and with a hiss, dug its wicked claws into the Khajiit’s ankle, who yowled in panic and defiance. With his last strength, he lashed out with his claws, but missed. The Falmer, now visible, raised a blunt, heavy-looking weapon, as jagged as the arrow and hit the Khajiit over his head. The sickening sound of his victim’s skull cracking was a sure sign the Khajiit was good as dead.

They couldn’t be even called savage degenerates. Over the course of many centuries, the Falmer had devolved into feral, wicked and merciless beasts whose beady, black eyes showed no emotion. When standing up right, they had to be about as tall as Ganir or Ondolemar, but years of living in the dark and underground, had devolved their stance into a hunched over one. Their skin was pale and leathery. Their faces were ugly, lacking a nose and their jagged teeth bared. Their fingers were bony, long and clawed.

After hitting the Khajiit over the head again to make sure it was dead, the Falmer peered around, but not to see. It was sure it had heard something, and Ondolemar held its breath until the wicked creature finally grabbed hold of the Khajiit’s tail and dragged it off into the darkness.

“The worst kind of vermin.” Ondolemar swallowed the bile back.

Ganir shot him a look, wondering what was going on in the High Elf’s mind. He knew that as a Commanding officer of the Thalmor Justiciars in Skyrim, he wasn’t a saint either, but decided now was not the time to put this up for discussion. “I really recommend we avoid them as best we can.”

“Don’t underestimate them.” Ondolemar said sternly. “As mindless and wicked as they look, they possess a vindictive cunning.”

The Dark Elf nodded, but wasn’t looking at him, nor at anything in particular. He inclined his head like a dog would and it was clear he was listening closely. “Six…no. Eight. Still close, but on the move.”

The Dark Elf signaled for Ondolemar to follow him and he noticed that Ganir moved without a sound as they snuck up another broad stairway where a heavy, steel door stood ajar. They both hugged the wall on each side of the door and peered in, but saw nothing as the corridor ahead was coated in a thick mist or steam which reeked, mixed with the stench of oil. Ondolemar’s gloved fingers traced the crude inscription on the door which indicated where they were headed, but he couldn’t translate it. When Ganir gave him a nod, he gave the door a shove and with a loud creak it opened further. The High Elf was forced to pull the collar of his robes over his mouth and nose as a foul stench poured forth from the corridor, which was completely shrouded by the stinking gas. One of the pipes or machines had to be leaking to cause such a severe pollution.

“You need to scout ahead,” he told Ganir. “If there’s a quick way out, I could rush through and hold my breath.”

The Dark Elf slipped in without a word of confirmation but found the cause of the leak quick enough. All his senses peaked to alert as he carefully approached the oddly-shaped silhouette leaning against the pipes that were bolted to the wall. Upon closer inspection, it wasn’t a human, but the remains of a broken Sphere Centurion.

The Dwemer, or Dwarves in the common tongue, were a most intelligent and skilled people, whose advanced engineering skills permitted them to craft steam and magical-powered creations to guard their halls or do manual labor. These ‘Sphere Centurions’ propelled themselves forward on hollow, metal discs, connecting their ‘legs’ to a steel torso and head, resembling a humanoid armed with a shield and blade of which the sole purpose was to defend what they were tasked to guard.

This one had clearly served its purpose until the Falmer got to it, tearing its head off when the jagged, chitin axe buried in its back didn’t prove to be enough, hitting the pipes in the process, which caused the polluting leak.

There has to be a valve of some sort nearby…But when he made it to the end of the corridor, he didn’t find anything the sort, but also that the door at the end was barred or locked from the other side and his heart sank with a dreadful realization. He had barely spun around when he heard Ondolemar get caught in a skirmish before he broke away and barged into the polluted room, followed by a group of angry, snarling Falmer.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” Ganir frantically kicked, pulled and shoved against the door before he took a sharp breath. The gas burned his lungs but he had no choice but to try. “FUS ROH DAH”

The unrelenting force of his Shout blasted the doors off their hinges, causing the Falmer to clutch their ears as the loud clatter of steel rung in their ears and stunned them. Ondolemar ran past him and Ganir followed suit, coughing and wheezing. The High Elf shoved the Dark Elf behind him and flames lit up in the palms of his hands.

“What are you doing?!” Ganir exclaimed. “Run!”

But the High Elf didn’t listen and he sent a ball of flame flying towards the Falmer. The moment the fire connected with the fumes, it all caught flame and the Falmer shrieked, howled and wailed in anguish as they were burned alive. Their brief victory wasn’t long, however as more Falmer came running in and Ondolemar was dragged along by Ganir to make a run for it. The surroundings flashed by them as they were far too focused on getting away with each other. The Falmer were everywhere. If not on their tails, the corrupted elves ran on the grates and walkways above them, bombarding them with rocks and their arrows. The Falmer that were hot on their trail behind them even threw their axes.

After running down many corridors, hallways and forcing their way past the heavy doors or taking sharp, sudden turns in a futile attempt to shake them off their tail, Ganir pulled Ondolemar back by the robes just in time to prevent him from plummeting to his death as the stone, winding walkway had collapsed. Below, on a platform, lay two dead humans with arrows buried in their backs, but it was most likely the collapse that had meant the first steps to their demise.

“The pipes!” Ganir said. “I’ll throw you. Quick!”

“What, are you-?!” But Ondolemar got no chance to protest as Ganir grabbed his arm and forced Ondolemar to run and use the momentum of the Dark Elf’s powerful swing to make the jump across. Ondolemar grunted as he slammed against the steel but his hands instinctively clenched onto the steel rings that secured the pipes against the wall. It would permit him to climb down a bit and jump to the platform below safely. “Get over here! I can catch you!”

Ganir looked at the doors, contemplating whether to shut them or not, but when an arrow missed his cheek by an inch, he made the jump as well, swearing when he nearly slipped, but Ondolemar grabbed his arm and pulled him up.

They had no time for common courtesies or wisecracks and quickly climbed down. At first, he hesitated as he looked straight down. If he missed the platform, he could plummet to his death in the dark, freezing water below which was rushing somewhere underground. The two elves took a sharp breath and jumped across. Ganir made a far more graceful landing as he. He rolled over the ground to let his whole body take the impact of the landing, but hit a sharp rock in the process and hissed in pain.

Ganir scrambled to his feet and grabbed the crude, leather shield that belonged to one of the fallen and he scurried over to Ondolemar to cover him and dove for safety behind the debris. “Stay here and stay low!” Before the Altmer could even so much as confirm or protest, Ganir bolted from their hiding place with the shield to deflect the arrows. “All right, now it’s my turn…”

Ondolemar had no idea what was happening, but it was as if he could see and feel the intense energy building up within the Dark Elf’s chest, who took a sharp breath and then opened his mouth in that same, primordial language he had been snarling before. But this time, accompanied by three different and odd words, “YOL TOOR SHUL!” flames burst from his mouth and shot towards the Falmer.

The corrupted elves on the front line caught flames and the others backed off, hissing and snarling. Ondolemar took that as his sign to make a run across the platform to hide in the alcove to a collapsed corridor. His eyes then locked on the walkway connected to the platform where they were and with two, swift incantations he sent a bolt of chain lightning to the three Falmer that came charging from below, but he could hear many more were on their way.

“Ganir! We’re trapped!” He shouted. The Falmer above had retreated from the flames that escaped his mouth and the Dark Elf Dragonborn turned to heed the warning. His eyes shot from the Falmer to Ondolemar who tried to fight them back, joining his side. “What’s your plan?!”

When Ganir peered over the edge of the ledge, the High Elf frantically shook his head. “Oh no! That’s suicide!” he exclaimed, but the Dark Elf grabbed a firm hold of him. “What are you doing-?! Let me go you crazy vampire, I am not-!”

But his protests were quickly replaced by screaming when the Dark Elf jumped off the ledge with him and just in time at that as well. The Falmer from above fired their arrows and the ones from below had come charging in large numbers. Ganir had held Ondolemar in such a fashion, that when he jumped, he turned so that if they were to strike something under water, Ganir would take the hit as he was more likely to survive.

Ondolemar’s body went completely rigid when his body fell into the freezing water and the air was knocked out of his lungs. He was surrounded by complete, utter darkness and he began to panic when he couldn’t tell where the surface was. Just when he thought he was going to drown, a pair of strong arms wrapped around his chest and carried him to the surface where he emerged wheezing and gasping for air. “Don’t let go!” Ganir bellowed. The stream was stronger than anticipated and dragged them along, but it was clear he needn’t remind the High Elf, who clung to him for dear life as he struggled to keep his head above the water.

He was completely disoriented and he had no idea where they were or where they were headed, but when they both saw light at the end of the tunnel, their eyes went wide. “If I survive this I’m going to kill you!” Ondolemar bellowed before incanting the spell on himself that would permit him to breathe under water. It was a small comfort to know that if either of them survived being smashed on the rocks below the waterfall, he’d breathe long enough to wash ashore and die there with some dignity.

Both Elves shrieked as the force of the stream sent them flying over the edge and plummeted down into the large body of water below, but there were no rocks. Ondolemar struggled to swim as his robes weighed him down and he had no strength left in his body. Ganir grabbed a hold of him once again and swam ashore with him. The High Elf emerged, coughing, wheezing and shivering like an old hag.

They had no time to even take their surroundings in. Ondolemar was grateful he could lean on Ganir, who took him into a chitin, cone-shaped hut of which the bottom was covered with moss, grass and tattered rags. Impulsive as his last-second choice had been, the Dark Elf clearly knew what he was doing. He began to undress the High Elf, leaving him clad in nothing but his loincloth. With rapid experience and expertise, the Dark Elf then removed his armor and undid his tunic. “Come on, put it on or you’re going to freeze to death.”

Ondolemar’s teeth chattered and his whole body shook, but he managed to put the tunic on while Ganir lit a fire in the hut’s pit with a quick, exhaled and soft, “Yol!”

“Oh god, please no-,” Ondolemar whined in protest when the Dark Elf grabbed a filthy looking, tattered Dwemer tapestry and wrapped it around him.

“Stop nagging.” Ganir’s tone wasn’t harsh and he looked concerned while he rubbed the High Elf’s back to get him warm. “Ancano will kill me if I return you frozen like a block of ice.”

“If he won’t, I will.” As displeased as he was over the little ‘detour’ and the stink of the tattered rags, he welcomed the warmth of his dry attire, fire and Ganir’s care.

Ganir’s lips curled into the handsome, rogue-ish smile he hadn’t seen in quite some time. “Have to say I find that hard to believe coming from a ‘stately’ and ‘superior-bred’ Mer who just screamed like a girl…” The Dark Elf burst into laughter at Ondolemar’s indignant and embarrassed look before he too couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“I swear to Auri-El if you even so much as mention this to Ancano…”

Ganir took a deep breath to recover from his laughing fit and shook his head. “I promise if you tell me what happened in Camlorn, because I’m dying to know at this point.”

“That’s blackmail!” Ondolemar’s eyes went wide.

“You ponder your options,” Ganir chuckled and shook his head, squeezing the Altmer’s shoulder. “If you’re going to be all right, I have to scout the area and make sure we’re safe and find you some food. I’ll be sure to rush to your aid if you can scream like you did earlier…”

The Dark Elf ducked just in time when Ondolemar threw a rock at him, but the both of them grinned. Now alone, Ondolemar felt strangely unsafe even though he knew that the Dark Elf was nearby. His fingers were stiff and uncooperative from the cold as he tried to figure a way to hang his robes to dry until his mind could focus well enough to cast a spell to take care of that little conundrum instantly.

Exhausted, however, he gave up and sat down again, staring into the flames that comforted him so. He struggled against the increasing weight of his eyelids, which felt heavier and heavier, until he could no longer fight the exhaustion and fell asleep.

Once Ganir got out of the hut, he found himself not only amazed that they had survived the whole wild trek and the drop of at least sixty feet, but also where the little ‘detour’ had taken them. He had no idea as to the specifics of ‘where’ but the rapid had led them to a massive citadel deep underground. Had they tried to find this by ‘normal means’, it probably would’ve taken them days if not weeks! The small group of cone-shaped, chitin huts made by the Falmer had long been abandoned as he found no fresh tracks anywhere nearby. To the far back was a large, square dais sided by broad stone stairways that led to massive, steel doors, which was probably the ‘traditional’ entrance to this breath-taking place, leading to the fortress…or temple? What was it exactly?

Ganir climbed a rock formation to have a better look and beheld a beautiful plaza with a fountain at its center where glowing mushrooms grew within. What really caught his eye, however, was the intricate, stone wall with massive, ornate and steel doors, sided by steel arch-ways which seemed to be a holding stations for a pair of huge Dwemer Steam Automatons, of which only one was present but inactive. It was about thirty feet high and resembled a massive, steel warrior. It had no ‘arms’ to speak of as one took the shape of a spiked mace and the other a blade. Ganir knew from experience that this was not the only arsenal at the Steam Automaton’s disposal as they could fire steel bolts from a mechanism below their blade-arm and steam could be blown from the ‘mouth’. They were brilliant and deadly creations.

He had no way of knowing for certain, but his gut told him that this had to be the entrance to Blackreach. Excited, he slid down the rocks, back to the tent where he found Ondolemar sleeping.

He knelt down at the High Elf’s side and laid a hand on his forehead to make sure he was not catching fever or sickness as his kind was rather susceptible to disease. Knowing that he was fine for the time being, Ganir made himself comfortable against the furs and tattered sheets he had gathered and though he didn’t need sleep, he figured it would be nice to get some degree of shut-eye so to speak. His mind wandered when he caught his gaze’s repeated return to the sleeping High Elf.

Ondolemar was responsible for countless deaths. He had to be. As commanding officer of the Thalmor Justiciars in Skyrim, he was not only to apprehend their opposition, but also arrest and persecute Talos-worshippers. But why, he wondered, did this not bother him as much?

He had to think of Cirilonde, who no doubt knew of the blood on Ancano’s hands at the time, but insisted they spare his life. Ganir looked at his own hands. While there was no physical blood visible, he knew he had no place to judge, but Cirilonde had seen the good in both him and Ancano. He had yet to determine whether this had to do with her youthfulness or with the wisdom and understanding she possessed.

I miss you, Ciri. He thought with a smile as he glanced at Ondolemar again. Sure, the ‘superior-bred’ Altmer could look after himself, but he felt protective of him not only because he was Ancano’s friend.

This land, as merciless as it could be, really did strange things to people.

Volgende: Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 22 11-'16 Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 22

Reacties


Door Tweakers user Tijgert, woensdag 9 november 2016 01:15

Goed geschreven, leest lekker weg!
Ik wou met het begin beginnen, maar waar staan delen 1 t/m 4 dan?

Door Tweakers user dutchinteldude, woensdag 9 november 2016 10:29

Hey Tijgert,

Zie inderdaad dat ze er niet meer staan.

Zal die binnenkort even in 1 groot tweakblog post plaatsen ^^

Door Tweakers user GrimScythe, woensdag 9 november 2016 15:03

hoe meer ik lees van deze delen, hoe meer ik wil lezen. :)

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