The Adventure of the Stolen Skooma – Part 11

About the Skyrim Permadeath Chronicles

 

Previously

 

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They delve deeper into the tomb. Sounds echo queerly in the tight, winding confines. The dusty air coats Le’Mosh’s throat, and the stink of rot and far worse fills his nose. Le’Mosh’s torch is a meager source of light but adequate enough to roll back the black curtain temporarily. But as a bastion against the dark and a buoy for their flagging resolve, the torch is unequal to the soul of this place – black and oppressive and smothering.

They soldier on. Le’Mosh does not let himself even consider the idea of turning back, for he knows that if he does his courage will falter. His hands shake and he finds himself jumping at shadows.

Sometimes the shadows jump back.

The tunnel narrows into a doorway. Beyond, lanterns are lit but the room appears empty. Purple-blue light rises from the round grate in the room’s center; Le’Mosh is reminded of the make-shift altar near the entrance to this tomb, and the way similar-looking light emanated from the altar’s very stones. A pair of summoning circles sit on raised platforms just inside the door. A watchful stillness has a hold over the chamber, and in that silence Le’Mosh feels eyes turn upon him. Baleful, hateful eyes. Hungry eyes.

The Well of SoulsThe round grate is a well for souls, then. And something evil lairs here, feeding from the trough.

Le’Mosh feels an urgent need to break the quiet lest it drive him mad. “Nostaw,” Le’Mosh whispers. The sound of his own voice startles him. “Have you heard of vampires that feast upon souls?”

The nord’s eyes are huge. He shakes his head.

“Come then,” Le’Mosh says with more courage than he feels, “let us find out what monster lairs here and make an end to it.”

Steel grounds against stone shrilly as bars slam shut behind them. Le’Mosh shrieks. He feels like cattle driven inexorably toward the slaughter.

A deep laugh echoes across the chamber. The outline of a man forms in the streams of purple-blue light. Black eyes open.

Open Fire! “Fire!” Le’Mosh shouts, his voice cracking. His arrow lodges in the apparition’s chest. He and Nostaw fire volleys as the thing approaches. Brave, foolish, stupid Nostaw drops his bow and charges the creature, his ugly bit of steel held high. Le’Mosh waits for gaps to appear in the melee and speeds arrows in.

Haldir Awakened

Abruptly the spirit vanishes. Nostaw and Le’Mosh exchange confused glances. Could it be over, the fiend vanquished? It is too much to hope for.

A boom shakes dirt from the ceiling. The spirit re-appears, this time bringing friends. Duplicate spirits rise from the summoning circles, throwing fire and shooting lighting. Le’Mosh ducks behind a stone column and exchanges fire with the duplicates. Behind him, Nostaw grunts as he engages the primary apparition.

Le’Mosh whittles away the duplicates and turns to help Nostaw. The nord is on his knees, crawling. The fiend stands poised over him, preparing to deliver the final blow. Le’Mosh’s arrow catches the spirit unaware, and it winks out of view again.

It returns moments later. Together, Nostaw and Le’Mosh finish it. With a strangled cry, the spirit crumbles into blue dust.

A great wind fills the space. There is a crack like thunder as the purple-blue streams of light reverse direction, rushing down upon the altar. The well of souls is no more.

The Well, Extinguised The Altar Has Been Smashed

Le’Mosh turns up no evidence to suggest a link between this spirit and the vampire. He consoles himself with the knowledge that this day they removed evil from the world, but the questions remain. Irritating him, like a scratch between his shoulder blades.

It is night when they finally exit the tomb. The air is chill but fresh. Le’Mosh fills his lungs with it. “Back to Falkreath,” Le’Mosh says. “I’ve a mind to get drunk.”

Upon the road they spy a headless ghost riding an incorporeal steed. Le’Mosh gives chase but his legs give out long before he can close the distance. The apparition disappears over a rise.

“Hey traveler,” a man’s voice issues from the brush. “Are you lost?”

Le’Mosh startles. “You there – show yourself.”

The man does not respond. Le’Mosh creeps into the screen of trees. He sees the dead bodies first, a man and a woman stripped of their clothes. A lean man with a scrunched nose stands over the bodies. His smile is red and wet.

Le’Mosh runs. The vampire snarls, giving pursuit. Nostaw is there, his sword to hand, driving back the vampire. Le’Mosh collects himself and joins the battle at range.

The vampire succumbs to their combined assault and, when it is over, Le’Mosh burns the body. “I am beginning to think these vampire have a vested interest in me,” Le’Mosh says as the vampire’s flesh smokes and pops. “Either that, or Skyrim is truly infested with the vermin. Two in as many days?”

They return to Falkreath. Outside the town gates, a courier stops them. “Inspector Locksher?”

“I am he.”

“I’ve a letter for you, sir.”

Le’Mosh takes the scroll. Sealed with Jarl Siddgeir’s device. Interesting. Le’Mosh cracks the seal and reads.

In the letter, Siddgeir apologizes for his behavior and treatment of Le’Mosh, and praises Le’Mosh for his efforts locating the skooma and bringing justice to Falkreath. The letter ends with promises of reward – lands and titles. Le’Mosh grins, his triumph chasing away the dark business of the last hours. Bribes – he must be close to the truth indeed for Siddgeir to resort to such clumsy offers.

“What is it, sir?”

“The last bit of proof we need against Siddgeir, my dear Nostaw. Tomorrow we move against him. Tonight we get drunk. Come.” They return to the Falkreath inn and celebrate long into the early morning hours.

Commentary

Sometimes the game really plops something right in your lap. It was that way for me. I had some ideas of how I might resolve this story but was still kinda working out the details. And then the courier delivered that message from Siddgeir. It’s almost too perfect!

Of course, I myself am not convinced that Siddgeir is actually complicit in the theft, but Le’Mosh is, and that’s all that matters.

Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion!

Check-out my other stories!

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

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