Skyrim Chronicles: Blade and Shadow – Part 1

About the Skyrim Permadeath Chronicles

 

Previously

 

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The assassins discovered Rohinda stubbornly clinging to life under a sparse screen of foliage not far from their hideout. It had been a paltry, halfhearted attempt at hiding, but it was the best she could manage under the circumstances. It was to her great fortune that they’d found her, the disquieting little girl said as they’d carried her inside. Rohinda took a small measure of consolation that at least she hadn’t been hiding from them.

They took her in and nursed her back to health. It was no great kindness they did her. Nobody acted for purely altruistic reasons, least of all these cutthroats. There was no such thing as a good deed in Rohinda’s experience. Fortune and favor is only despair masquerading as hope.

There was never a question of how she would pay back her debt to them. A life for a life. As in all things, it sounded simpler than it was in reality.

Rohinda the AssassinThey gave her dark, morose clothing to replace her rags: black for the deeds she’d do; red for the blood she’d spill. A wicked-looking dagger of orc styling, with a smooth bone hilt and a grinning devil’s face on the end. She refused the other gifts – swords and edged maces and tall warhammers. If she was to kill whomever they said, she would decide on the manner of death. It was a meager attempt at retaining some illusion of control, a false promise of decision, like a glinting oasis forever at the edge of the desert.

The destruction spell was the lone fragment of home she had left. Mother had taught it to her when she’d come of age. A woman should never be defenseless in this world. Men were craven, stupid things that sometimes needed to shown what ‘no’ really meant.

Practice DummyThey wanted a demonstration. Rohinda felt a surge of satisfaction as their training dummy went up in a blaze, straw smoking, wooden shield popping and buckling under the heat.

Her first assignment – and by the emphasis on ‘first’, Rohinda knew she’d only just begun – was to locate and eliminate not one person but three. They were deemed easy jobs, the only real difficulty being the annoyance of traveling cross-country between the three locations. Which explained why they fell to her. Rohinda studied the faded map in the planning room. The distance between the targets measured the span of her hand, but in actuality that equaled miles and miles of harsh, unforgiving terrain, frigid temperatures, and hostile wildlife, saying nothing of bandits nor those she was hiding from.

Rohinda considered fleeing, briefly. No threat was necessary to discourage her from such a course – they’d find her, eventually, and would either kill her or turn her over. Neither was an appealing proposition.

She left the next day, following the road toward Falkreath Hold. The town was abuzz with news – the jarl was being held in his own prison while an Imperial puppet sat his throne. Rohinda concluded her business as quickly as possible, using her meager starting funds to purchase travel gear and a spell of healing.

She followed the road east, directly into the face of the morning sun. Her legs burned from the uneven, rolling terrain. Birds flit about in the clusters of green and gray pines flanking the road, chirping incessantly.

Ahead, a tall wooden bridge spanned the road. Sentries stood at either end of the bridge, bows to hand. Bandits. She slid into the underbrush, moving across country, scrambling up the face of a small mountain. She had not the coin for whatever toll they’d demand, nor the patient to deal with them in more direct means.

A small cottage sat beside the road on the mountain’s east side. Flies flit about a poorly-tended vegetable garden behind the house. Rohinda cautiously edged past the house. Nothing moved save a couple of mudcraps sun-bathing in a small pool nearby.

Back on the road. A solitary figure moved toward her. Too late to hide. Rohinda casually let her hand fall to her dagger.

It was a nord woman. Tall and outfit in battle-worn leathers, she made for an impressive sight. Rohinda smiled in greeting.
Racist Nord
“What are you looking at, milk drinker?”

Rohinda’s smile evaporated so quickly that she nearly choked on it. Milk drinker? By all the gods… the nerve of this woman!

The nord shouldered past Rohinda and continued down the slope. Rohinda stood, watching her go. In moments the nord would come upon the bandits. Perhaps she would have softer words for them. Or, more likely, she was in league with them.

The woman drew further away. Indignation and fury built up inside Rohinda. Almost before she realized what she was doing, she crept toward the nord, her slippers quiet on the rocky trail. The nord grew large before her, ignorant to the end.

Rohinda drew close enough to smell the sour tang of the woman’s sweat. And then she leapt out of the crouch, hand grasping the woman’s forehead. The nord gave a brief, startled cry, and then Rohinda drew the dagger’s edge across her throat. Blood washed over Rohinda’s hands. Warm, it’s so warm.
Slit Throat
The nord collapsed, grasping at her throat, wide eyes fixed on Rohinda. Her lips moved but no words came out. Rohinda smiled. “And now you may die.”

She turned her back and started up the path again, surprised at just how empowering, how fun that was. She cleaned the dagger and put it away. For now.

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