The Adventure of the Stolen Skooma – Case Closed

About the Skyrim Permadeath Chronicles

 

Previously

 

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Morning finds Le’Mosh regretting his indulgences the prior evening. The world tips and rocks as he staggers around his room, dressing. He’d been a fool, trying to keep up with Nostaw. But he was a sporting man, always good for friendly competition, and so he’d gone against his better judgement and met the nord ale for ale. Never again.

He settles his stomach with a steaming cup of tea and a hunk of bread. His eyes feel dry and somehow hollowed out, like they’ve been ground with smoldering bits of coal. Hot tea spills onto his hand as he takes a cautious sip. Le’Mosh sets the cup down and looks at his trembling hands.

Questions plague his mind like bad dreams. Did Jarl Siddgeir truly steal the skooma? Or, rather, had he ordered it moved, for certainly the Jarl himself would not undertake such industry himself. At least some of his henchmen were involved, or the Falkreath guards, or all of them together. A town of conspirators. Le’Mosh eyes the inn-keeper speculatively as she wipes out mugs.

What of the bandits who’d guarded the skooma in the fortress? Le’Mosh hadn’t found any evidence to indicate a link between them and Siddgeir, other than the fortress’s almost absurd proximity to Falkreath. It was the weakest part of his theory, aside from discovering a motive for Siddgeir’s actions, of course.

Nostaw settles onto the stool beside him, eyes bright and shining. “Fine morning, sir.”

Le’Mosh grunts. His stomach lurches alarmingly when the nord starts into a plate of greasy fish and a tall tankard of ale.

“What now, sir?”

“Back to that fortress. See if General Tullius has arrived. Not even I can just arrest a jarl.”

The woman behind the counter gives him a dark look, her heavy lips turned in a frown.

When they finish, Le’Mosh leaves a bit of gold on the counter. Enough to cover both meals, with some left over. Not enough to be mistaken as a bribe, but hopefully enough to make the inn-keeper forget what she’d just heard.

The take-over is completeThey arrive at the fortress to find it is no longer unoccupied. Imperial archers wander the ramparts, and a dozen swordsmen mill about in the courtyard. Le’Mosh presents himself to the captain and asks about Tullius. She waves him inside.

Le’Mosh finds General Tullius in the basement. A pair of Imperial mages catalog the strangely-appointed cells. The general himself stands near the stacked barrels of skooma. Le’Mosh bids Nostaw to wait near the stairs and makes his presence known.

“Ah – and you are the inspector. Locksher, is it?”

Le’Mosh offers a slight bow. He tries to keep the wave of nausea from his face as he straightens. “I am he. It is an honor to make your acquaintance, General.”

Tullius waves a hand at the barrels. “What do you make of all this?”

“If it is of the new breed of skooma, called the dragon, than this is an armory and these are implements of war.”

“You saw Helgen.”

Le’Mosh nods.

“Then you know how dangerous this stuff is. How powerful it could be in the wrong hands.” General Tullius crosses his arms over his chest. “It is fortunate you discovered this cache before it could be turned against us again. Have you discovered who stole it away?”The General and the Skooma

“I have reason to believe it was Jarl Siddgeir, of Falkreath.”

The general’s face betrays no surprise. “We’ve long suspected Siddgeir as a rebel sympathizer and supporter of their cause. The man is a weasel, clawing at our backs but smiling at our faces. This would be an aggressive move for him. Have you any evidence of this treason?”

“No direct evidence, I’m afraid. Circumstance and coincidence make for friendly bedfellows though.”

“Speak plainly.”

“Consider the Jarl’s treatment of me, dismissive and hostile when he learned the reason for my visit to Falkreath. Consider the nearness of this holdfast to Falkreath. Certainly the Jarl could not be so ill-advised to not know bandits had taken up residence so near his place of power. Why was this not the first place searched when the skooma went missing? And, lastly, consider this.” Le’Mosh hands Siddgeir’s letter to Tullius. “I received this by courier shortly after discovering this fortress and the skooma. I suspect Siddgeir has had me watched these last days and moved to secure my alliance when he realized what I’d discovered.”

“Bribing an officer of Imperial law is a criminal offense.” General Tullius folds the letter and tucks it into a pouch. “It will be enough to hold Siddgeir until we can discover the full extent of his treason.” Tullius calls for one of his mages and dictates an order calling for the arrest of Jarl Siddgeir. He makes his mark upon the parchment and then passes the rolled and sealed document to Le’Mosh. “Take a dozen men to Falkreath and arrest him immediately.”

Le’Mosh swallows. Arresting the jarl in his own throne room? He keeps his doubts to himself. “And what to do with him?”

“Stick him in the Falkreath cells under Imperial guard. I will take him back north when I return to Solitude.” The general tosses a fat pouch at Le’Mosh’s feet that clinks pleasantly when it lands. “Your bonus for a job well-done. Congratulations, Locksher. Your reputation precedes you.”

Le’Mosh takes the coins and leaves. His stomach tilts unpleasantly and he thinks he might vomit. Nostaw follows along dutifully at his heels. “Sir?”

Le’Mosh ignores him. He selects the stoutest warriors from the yard. “Come with me, we are to arrest Jarl Siddgeir of Falkreath.”

“Sir?!?” Nostaw grabs Le’Mosh’s wrist and turns him about.

“Do not delay me. Or are you a rebel sympathizer too?”

“What? Er, no – of course not. I…”

“Then pick-up my luggage and let us be on our way. We’ve a duty to uphold.”

Le’Mosh walks away without looking back. Soldiers crowd around. An imperial escort. How grand.

Rapid footfalls approach, crunching gravel. Slowing to take their customary position a few paces back. Le’Mosh feels a pang of regret at his harshness toward Nostaw. It is the stress of this place, he tells himself. Vampires and undead and ghosts – why, it’s a wonder he’d solved the case with all the distraction.

A thin mist coats Falkreath as they march through the city gates. Guardsmen watch them pass without comment. Townspeople straighten from their work to gape at the procession. Le’Mosh averts his eyes. He wonders if this is what a conquering hero at the head of a grand parade might feel like. Or a man on the way to the gallows. He pulls the hood closer about his face and studies the ground.

There is no challenge when they enter the jarl’s longhouse. No swords are drawn as they line up near the hearth. The Jarl’s retainers look on with obvious dismay, but Siddgeir himself seems almost amused. “What is all this?”

Legate Skulnar steps into the main chambers from his small office. He takes in the scene at a glance.

Le’Mosh produces the written order and steps forward. Cracking the seal, he reads. “By decree of General Tullius, Imperial Governor of Skyrim and Commander of His Majesty’s loyal forces, I, Inspector Le’Mosh Locksher place Jarl Siddgeir under arrest…

A sigh of shock ripples through the onlookers. The grin evaporates from the Jarl’s face. “On what grounds!”

Le’Mosh raises his voice to be heard over the commotion. “… for logistical and financial support of Stormcloak activities and treason against the Empire. Siddgeir will be moved to Solitude to await trial.” Le’Mosh steps forward, depositing the letter in Siddgeir’s lap.

“You can’t do this… do you know who I am?”

Le’Mosh takes a step back, nods at Skulnar. “Seize him,” the legate says.

Making the arrest

Siddgeir’s personal bodyguards tense, hands going for weapons. But they are only three against fifteen. Simmering, they stand aside as a pair of soldiers haul Siddgeir from his throne and drag him toward the door. Kicking and screaming and fighting them all the way, Siddgeir makes quite a scene. Le’Mosh follows the knot of soldiers as they move across the courtyard to the Falkreath jail.

Inside the barracks, the Falkreath soldiers mill about in confusion, obviously torn between taking arms and standing aside. The sergeant, a grizzled gray warrior with the ghosts of scars across his face, meets them at the stairs to the jail. “What’s all this then?”

Legate Skulnar hands him Tullius’ order. “Siddgeir is a suspected traitor. He is to be held here temporarily. Under Imperial guard.”

The sergeant glances over the order, eyes the Imperial soldiers – seasoned men, all – against the paltry, green guards under his command. “Are you alright, m’lord?”

Siddgeir just stews.

“Stand aside, lads.” Hooking his thumbs into his belt, the sergeant leads them to the jail. He sidles up to Le’Mosh as the Imperials shove Siddgeir into an empty cell. “You the inspector?”

“I am.”

“Arresting a jarl is no small thing. This won’t go over well with the locals. The other jarls, neither. It’d be best if Siddgeir is gone by nightfall, if you take my meaning.” His piece said, he wanders away to speak to his men quietly.

“Inspector,” Siddgeir calls him over. “You think yourself a clever man, do you? Well you’ve truly made a mess of things this time. You will rue the day you laid hands upon me. Do you hear me?!” Spittle flies between the bars. Siddgeir behind bars

Nostaw falls in beside Le’Mosh as he wanders up the stairs. The nord’s face looks green in the dim light. “What happens now, sir?”

“We leave. Mayhap head south. How does that sound?”

Nostaw shrugs.

Le’Mosh slaps him on the shoulder. “Cheer up, old boy. Our work here is done. Only the politicking and posturing remains, and I find that dreadfully boring.”

They leave Falkreath, following the winding road south and west. As they cross the border into Cyrodiil, Le’Mosh wonders if he’ll ever return to Skyrim. He hopes not, but something inside tells him that he’ll be called upon again someday.

Commentary

So ends the case of the stolen skooma! As you might imagine, the arrest of Siddgeir will have broader ramifications upon future storylines we follow. I have some general story ideas in mind, but mostly I’m still connecting pieces even as I dump new ones onto the board.

Le’Mosh was a fun character, and I’m glad to see his goal accomplished. Having a companion was a huge boon to his survivability. There is no question I would have died a dozen times over without Nostaw.

An instant companion does feel like a bit of a cheat to the permadeath concept, though, so next week will see the return of a single character struggling to survive in the mean streets wilderness of Skyrim. I’m still working through who that character will be, but I’m leaning toward a female again. Hopefully not one so chaotic and reckless as the last one. :)

Check-out my other stories!

If you are enjoying this, consider checking out some of my fiction.

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