A theft in Mournhold

This is a short story I have written about a Khajiit Thief.

The night was quiet in Mournhold. The twin moons Masser and Secunda glowed softly in the sky illuminating the silent streets and the occasional Ordinator on their nightly patrol. Other than the guards and the occasional mouse, nothing stirred in the capital of Deshaan. Not even the lone shadowy figure crouched on the rooftop.

He seemed almost as a statue. His slow, quiet breathing was the only sign of life he gave. His stillness was unnatural as he observed the guards below go about their business. If anyone were to spot him he would have been mistaken for some form of gargoyle. Gargoyles however were very rarely dressed as finely as him.

Embroidered leather armour covered his body, arms and legs. It was of the deepest black as if the shadows themselves had been worked into the material during its creation. A fine hooded cloak, also the colour of night, obscured his face. A small breeze and the glow from Masser betrayed him, momentarily exposing a muzzle of dark brown fur and a pair of bright amber eyes from beneath the hood. The same dark fur covered his bare hands and feet. His leather gloves would have only made his hands clumsy, he needed them unburdened. His boots often caused his footsteps to be louder than he would like. The soft pads on his feet would not, he needed to remain undetected.
His name was Grimmr Lightpaw a Khajiit from the province of Elsweyr.

Grimmr was a shortened version of his true name which he could not be bothered or had forgotten to pronounce. Lightpaw was the nickname he had earned himself from his unique line of work. A self-described master thief who boasted that nothing was unobtainable to him as long as the price was right.

Grimmr was aware that he was not helping the reputation regularly associated with his race, but when someone offered good coin for something he was good at, how could he refuse. This latest assignment was going to leave him with a small fortune if he succeeded; although he had nearly refused the contract upon realising how many Ordinators stood watch over Mournhold. Good fortune had come to Grimmr that day however when the armies of Tamriel had been called to war, leaving many towns and holds with only a skeleton crew of guardsmen. Rather than follow the Bosmer and Altmer off to war like many of his kind, Grimmr had instead graciously accepted his benefactors’ contract and started to make his plans.

This one thinks it is time to earn much coin, Grimmr thought as he watched a guard leave the bank and lock the door behind him. The blood rushed back into his legs as he stood and made his way to the very edge of the roof. Grimmr surveyed the gap between his rooftop and the next, expertly calculating the momentum and power needed to make the leap. This one does not want to end up a smear on the street no? Satisfied, he stretched his aching joints and broke into a run. His cloak billowed behind him like a trail of smoke as he sprinted towards, what would have been for most people, a fatal drop. Grimmr fortunately was not most people and using the strength in his well-trained muscles he propelled himself from the roof. He had a brief feeling of weightlessness as his momentum carried him over the gap with ease. Folding himself into a roll to absorb the impact, he hit his target without losing too much momentum and sprinted toward the next jump.

Grimmr flitted from rooftop to rooftop, keeping to the shadows to remain unseen. The darkness seemed to embrace him like a brother, whilst the light never once touched him almost as if it were afraid. He came to a stop on a low building. The remaining distance between him and the bank was too far to leap; besides his entrance was on the ground floor. The Khajiit vaulted from the edge of the building. Landing lightly on his feet, he dropped to his haunches and crept cautiously towards the big door that marked the entrance to the bank.

The big door was thick and sturdy made from solid oak. It would have taken too long to burn through. The bulky hinges were made from tough castle forged steel. These would be nigh on impossible to break. The lock was a complex mechanism which could be picked, however this came with the risk of the pick breaking inside leaving more evidence than Grimmr would have liked. All of these things Grimmr had considered and disregarded in favour of one of his many tricks.

Many moons ago while travelling; Grimmr had found himself in the snowy province of Skyrim. Whilst in the city of Windhelm he came across another wanderer like himself, a Dunmer by the name of Tevthas, who at the time was travelling to the town of Davon’s Watch in the Stonefalls. After sharing mead and a leg of roast venison, Grimmr had suggested Tevthas accompany him on his travels. During this time Tevthas revealed to Grimmr that he was in fact a sorcerer specialising in the discipline of frost magic. Intrigued Grimmr had asked whether or not the Dark elf would give him a basic tuition in the mystic arts to which he agreed. Tevthas taught the Khajiit all he could in the short time that they were together and by the time it came for them to part ways Grimmr had learnt some particularly useful tricks.

Pressing his palm flat against the intricate lock, Grimmr uttered a few words of magic then felt a small surge of power flow through his arm and out through his fingertips. His amber eyes glittered in the moonlight as he watched a thin layer of frost spread from underneath his hand and over the lock. The effects of this small piece of magic happened almost instantly. The catches and bolts inside the door became frozen and brittle as the ice worked its way through the intricate parts of the mechanism. Within seconds the sturdy latch that had held for so many years could no longer perform the task it had been created for. Seeing that the magic had done its work Grimmr simply bumped his fist against the door and the useless lock inside shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. The grateful thief offered a silent thanks to the Dark elf sorcerer. Grimmr thanks Tevthas much, wherever he may find himself. He gently pushed open the great door and silently stole in to the quiet building.
Once inside Grimmr found himself in a long stone corridor, decorated with tabards and assorted ornate pieces of armour and weaponry. It was cold inside the great bank. The torches that lined the halls had been put out, indicating that no one else was due to return there in the night. Working out his route through the building the noiseless Khajiit stalked down the halls, once more keeping to the darkness and avoiding the faint slivers of moonlight that shone through the windows. Grimmr eventually came to another heavy, wooden door, this one being much smaller than that of the one to the entrance of the building. Behind this, there was a room with a hatch built into the cobbled floor that led to the secure vaults underneath Mournhold. Only the Ordinators assigned to the bank had keys to these doors but as proven earlier, Grimmr had no need of keys. He prepared to once again recite the incantation that would freeze the lock when his cat like ears twitched to the sound of heavy footsteps heading towards his location. Grimmr swiftly jumped behind the nearest pillar, quietened his breathing and wrapped himself in his black cloak to further his chances of remaining undetected.

Within seconds a heavily armoured guard carrying a torch came into view. A guard that, according to Grimmr’s previous observations, should not have been there. Grimmr steadied himself as the guard passed his location. The Khajiit was not armed for a fight and was unsure of his chances if it came to it. The guard came to a stop within touching distance of the hidden thief and cocked his head slightly as if he had heard something. Grimmr tensed up and readied himself to spring at the guard hoping to take him by surprise if need be, noting at the same time the set of keys that hung from his girdle. The guard however decided he had not heard anything. He righted himself and carried on his way down the corridor.

Grimmr knows not how this guard came to be here hmmmm? He pondered as he relaxed slightly. It does present an opportunity to hasten this one’s work here however yes? A slight grin formed on his feline face as his glittering eyes fixed on the guards keys. Grimmr detached himself from the shadows and crept towards the oblivious sentry. A worn leather cord was all that connected the ring of keys to the man; a cord that would not last long against one of Grimmr’s sharpened claws. In one expert move he sliced through the cord and grabbed in the keys in such a way that they made no sound when parted from the man’s belt. Laughing inwardly at how easy this undertaking was becoming, Grimmr made his way back to the door and placed the key in the lock which opened with an inaudible click, revealing the room behind it.
The hatch down to the hidden vaults lay directly in the centre of the room. The chamber itself was very unremarkable. The old, stone walls were cold and unadorned. A single wooden chair sat in the corner of a room, presumably where an Ordinator was to sit. Grimmr thinks that mayhap the chair will see more use upon the sunrise, he thought grinning to himself. He selected the next key on the ring and opened the hatch unveiling a simple ladder leading underneath Mournhold.

Ignoring the ladder completely, the light footed Khajiit dropped down the hatch and landed softly on his padded feet. The vaults were just as uninteresting and cold as the room up on the next floor. Grimmr was left feeling suitably unimpressed. However this quickly gave way to wonder as he realised how close he was to the most valuable treasures in all of Deshaan. Thoughts filled Grimmr’s mind as he realised how easy it would be to empty each and every single vault in Mournhold. With a large amount of willpower, Grimmr pushed aside his notion of greed and decided to focus on the job at hand. Each vault was inscribed with a coat of arms representing a family or house of high standing. He had long since memorised the markings he was looking for.

Grimmr searched the endless maze of stone for what seemed like the better part of an hour. He had looked upon a legion of doors searching for his target. The daunting task was making him frustrated, a mental state that never sat well with him when he was on a job. Just as he was about to give up and think of an easier solution, Grimmr’s eyes chanced upon a door just like all the rest. This one however, had the mark he was looking for. A sense of relief washed over him followed by one of joy. Grimmr is soon to be in possession of much gold. This one’s target is so very close, just behind stone door. Grimmr had no key for this door. For the final time that night he placed his hand over the lock on the door and once more began his incantation. The frost spread once more from his hand. Then dissolved and receded. Grimmr’s eyes narrowed in puzzlement. He flexed his hand and tried again with the same result. This one is much a fool! He cursed himself. Stone door must have many wards against magicka. Grimmr had not taken into consideration any magical enchantments that might be in place. In his anger and frustration he curled his hand into a fist and punched the heavy door. Even as he hissed in pain and berated himself for his stupidity, the door moved from the force of the punch. This one is not that strong, thought the baffled Khajiit. He pressed his hand on the door and pushed lightly and watched in surprise as it once again moved. It was already open. Confusion and unease settled into his mind as Grimmr tried to think of a reason why the guards would have left a vault unlocked. Warily, he pushed the door open and made his way inside the vault.

Grimmr noticed two things as he entered the room. Firstly, aside from a single chest at the far wall, it was empty. The second thing was the warrior clad from head to toe in steel that stood in front of it. He was tall and broad. A one handed long sword hung sheathed from the man’s waist. His face was hidden underneath an ornate horned helm. Grimmr could not determine which race he belonged to. The style of armour indicated that he was, more than likely, a Nord.

“It’s about time cat,” the big man rumbled, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

Grimmr detected a strong Nordish accent in the man’s voice. He had thought as much.

“This one apologises for the long wait. This one would have hastened this night if Khajiit had known Nord was here.” Grimmr replied mischievously as he eyed up the room, looking for anything he could use to his advantage in the inevitable fight to come, “Grimmr is curious of how the Nord came to know Khajiit would be here however?”

“It would seem one of your cowardly informants is not as trustworthy as you think Khajiit,” the man said, “ Now, leave this vault and on mine honour no further harm will come to you.”

“This one thinks mayhap the Nord should stand aside, lest his family want him returned in a box yes?”

A deep, throaty sound came from inside the helm which Grimmr assumed was laughter. “You do not strike me as particularly threatening cat,” the Nord said as he unsheathed his blade, “I think my family would appreciate for me to return with a new rug instead.”

Grimmr bared his fangs and hissed as the Nord took a menacing step towards him. He flexed his claws, now wishing he had brought his dagger with him. He could turn and run if he chose. The door was behind him and he could easily have outrun the big man whose armour would have slowed him down. Instead, the thought of his pile of gold fixed him in place. This one will live to be rich, old, fat cat. Fuelled by this determined notion, Grimmr did something that he would one day consider to be insane. The Khajiit hurled himself at the Nord, hoping to catch him of guard and collided with the man’s legs. Too late, the bigger man swung his sword at the thief which passed harmlessly over Grimmr’s head. Grimmr tackled him to the floor, grabbed the man’s helmet and tried to wrench it of his head. A gauntleted hand grabbed him by his cloak and threw him off before Grimmr could get much of a grip. The Nords strength is impressive, he thought as he tumbled to the ground.

The Nord pushed himself up off the ground and once more came at Grimmr with his sword. The nimble Khajiit ducked underneath the first swing and made to claw the man’s side. His nails raked and slid harmlessly of the well-made armour, while the Nord brought the hilt of his weapon down on Grimmr’s head. Dazed, Grimmr rolled to safety and shakily got to his feet. The force of the blow had disorientated him; he struggled to find his balance. His ears were ringing and his vison had blurred. His eyes focused just in time for him to see the sword whistling towards his face. Still stunned, Grimmr moved out of its path a fraction to slow. A line of blood appeared on Grimmr’s face followed by a searing, white hot pain as the blade slashed open his cheek just below his eye. He backed up out of the swords reach, the pain helping to clear his fuzzy head.
This was not going to plan at all. Grimmr needed to turn the fight in his favour. He had no weapons, no armour capable of stopping the sharp steel.He was quick yes, but he would tire soon and the blow to the head had taken it out of him.

“Was it worth it cat?” the Nord said, “Was breaking into my family’s vault worth dying for?”

“This one will not die here today Nord,” Grimmr said defiantly.

“And what magic do you think will save you Khajiit?”

The face of a familiar Dark elf flashed in Grimmr’s brain as the Nords words reminded him he did have one thing he could use. An idea began to form in Grimmr’s brilliant mind. Grimmr knew his magic was not strong. Apprentice mages knew more about magic than he ever would but he had to hope he could accomplish the task he had in mind. He summoned as much power has he could into his arm as the Nord advanced on him, hell bent on ending Grimmr’s life. The Nord raised his sword and prepared to bring it down in a vicious slash that would have cut Grimmr in two. Yet the blow never came. Grimmr flung out his arm and let loose with a vicious blast of piercing cold air. The blast smashed into the Nords faceplate, threw him off balance and caused his eye holes to completely freeze over. Temporarily blinded, the big man swung his sword wildly still hoping to grievously wound the Khajiit. However, in his frenzy the Nord was yet to realise that Grimmr was no longer there. Now behind the Nord, Grimmr leapt onto his back and clung on with one arm wrapped around his thick neck. With his free hand Grimmr hooked his claws underneath the Nords helm and yanked backwards. The helmet ripped free from the man’s face as Grimmr pushed himself off the man’s back, causing him to stumble and fall, and landed nimbly on the ground.

Before the Nord could recover Grimmr was upon him. Still holding the steel helmet, Grimmr swung with all the strength her could muster and smashed the metal into man’s face. The Nord grunted with pain as it connected then crumpled to the floor as he lost consciousness. Cautiously Grimmr prodded him with his foot then checked for his pulse. To Grimmr’s relief he was still alive, just out cold. This one had not set out to kill no? Exhausted as he was there was still a job to finish. Grimmr made his way to the lonely chest and prised open the lid, revealing inside a single leather bound book. A book! After all events of the night this one finds it was all for a book! Nonplussed, Grimmr removed the seemingly worthless item from the chest and wrapped it in his cloak and made his way out of the vault leaving the unconscious Nord exactly where he had fallen. For the final time that night Grimmr Lightpaw hid himself in the shadows and stole away into the night with his prize.
Edited by sambo5565 on September 3, 2015 4:50PM
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