[Sot2A] War Never Changes

The screams were shrill and piercing, bouncing off the cold dead walls like a glancing arrow. The reverberation of other people's horror fell harsh upon Bandivar's ears. Cold and nearly naked with only a pair of damp hewn breeches to cover himself, he lay on the otherworldly stone floor of his cell, shivering and alone. He tried so desperately to focus on the sound of water droplets landing in the ground to distract himself from the screams and wails of those being tortured nearby. He had no idea where he was or how he'd gotten there, or even how long it had been since he first realized he'd been imprisoned. With each passing knock on the stones or creak in the wrought metal around him, he felt a sharp stab of terror in wondering if it was some sadistic fetcher coming to torture him next.

Suddenly, a figure appeared, and the lock of his cell door turned with a clatter that sounded to him like an explosion.

Bandivar's eyes shot open, and sunlight washed over him. The nightmare was over; Coldharbour still haunted him in his dreams, more than he cared to admit. He lifted from the bed. He felt a brush on his leg, and turned to recall that he was not alone. Her face covered by a wash of red hair, a beautiful Bosmer woman lay beside him occupying the remainder of the single-person bed. Bandivar could hardly help but smile as he saw her, Millenith the Smith, with whom he often spent time at the forge with, working and bonding. Last night was different, somehow; they had never been more than friends, and yet after only a few mugs, here they were. It wasn't the alcohol, Bandivar knew, but rather the loneliness. Mill was much like him; quiet, reserved, perhaps even shy, but strong-willed and strong-hearted under the surface. The two of them took to one another when she certified him as a smith and were fast friends. Now, he wasn't sure what they were.

As he swung his legs over the bed, she stirred. He didn't speak as he ran his hands over his face to wipe away the grogginess. Outside, the sounds of Davon's Watch carried through the window. "Good morning," she said, lifting form the bed to rest on her elbows. "Sneaking out?"

"Something like that," Bandivar said lowly, turning to give her a slight smile.

She grinned, but the awkward tension in the air was hard to ignore. Bandivar never understood the free spirit humans had, always bunking with one another at the slightest whim, but he had to admit there was a sense of liberation about it in the moment. Still, when the morning came, the feeling of uncertainty was hard to shake. And yet, amidst it all, he could not for his life figure out why it mattered. Mill sat up, covering herself with her arm as she turned the other way, her back to her suitor. Bandivar diverted his attention to getting dressed.

He was just buckling his sword belt when a knock came at the door. Mill was dressed by this time, and so she moved around him and left the bedroom to answer it. Though he could not see, he heard a male voice speak his name, and so he peered through the bedroom door to see who it could be. The man at the door spotted him and extended his hand, which held a letter. Taking it curiously, Bandivar unsealed the waxen stamp of the Ebonheart Pact as the courier took his leave.
Bandivar Morvayn,

Your involvement in the defense of Davon's Watch made an impression on me. I extend the spine of regret to inform you that Lieutenant Gabron, whose life you helped defend in battle, has died of his wounds. With his scales gone dry, I have been awarded a battlefield promotion. I have a special assignment that could use your talents. I have asked a few of the veterans of the battle to meet me at the camp to the north of Lukiul Uxith; please join us as soon as you are able. Time is of the essence.
--Lt. Sings-No-Song

"Looks official," Mill said, folding her arms and looking on curiously.

Bandivar sighed. "It is. Would you mind helping me with my armor?"

The midday sun hung high over the Stonefalls. A diminutive Pact camp encircled a small lake, where a handful of soldiers were washing their boots and sitting down for chow. Bandivar knew the men weren't here for a combat mission, or else there would be more of them, but he couldn't imagine what else they might be doing in this part of the Stonefalls-- Lukiul Uxith lied south, and Fort Virak to the north, and the lands inbetween were mostly untroubled. He had met Sergeant Song, as he was called by those who knew him, not long ago in the defense of Davon's Watch just a few miles east; he was a stiff Argonian, always having something to say about the Black Marsh tradition. He held nothing but contempt for Bandivar at first-- likely because he was Dunmer, he reasoned-- although that melted away once they faced combat together.

Bandivar approached the camp astride his senche lioness, who loped with a casual confidence that none of the soldiers dared challenge. Despite the ferocious reputation that followed the creature, Else appeared comfortable and at home beneath her Dunmer rider-- armor, packs, and all. When they reached the command tent-- one of only four tents in the camp-- Bandivar dismounted with a clatter of armored plates and approached.

"Morvayn," spoke the Argonian from behind his table. "Please, come in and sit."

Stepping into the tent and glancing around, he saw that Song was not alone. The Pact soldiers in the tent, seemingly engaged previously in conversation with one another, turned and excused themselves as Bandivar entered. "Congradulations on your promotoion, Lieutenant," he said in greeting.

The Argonian frowned-- or so Bandivar thought, for he had difficulty telling sometimes. "It is not a celebration for me. It means only a greater load upon my back. That is why I have summoned you here; I have a mission and I urgently need your assistance."

Bandivar approached the table and pulled out a chair, taking a seat. On the table was a detailed map of the Stonefalls, and a few scrolls that were rolled up and tucked behind a few books. A mug sat near Song's hand, but it appeared empty. "How can I help?" asked Bandivar, deciding to be patriotic.

"I shall explain shortly," he replied. "You are only the first to arrive. I am awaiting three more with whom we have shared the bond of combat."

Edited by Tribunal_Power on July 5, 2015 7:21AM
  • Evi1_An9e1
    It had been almost two days since Galdryn received a courier message urging him to a Pact encampment in Stonefalls. Fortunately for him, the trip was but a short one from Riften where he had spent his past few days on a personal errand. Astride his proud guar Ash Tooth, Galdryn looked regal as he strode into the gates of Fort Viraak mostly due to his Dunmeri noble attire. Galdryn had many such outfits but today was a special one. After whatever it was that Sings-No-Songs wanted he planned on visiting Ebonheart to board a ship to Vvardenfell and visiting Arethi relatives.

    The camp was small, too small for any military attack but too large just to be a station for field exercises, what was the Argonian up to? Galdryn strode into the camp now walking beside his guar who was happily eating an ash yam treat. "This situation may benefit me more than I thought," Galdryn murmered, "Many a secrets are spilled when a gathering of soldiers is present. Too bad ole scale face doesn't pay me for my more seedier skills. I'm an assassin not some Nord barbarian! Give me a target and some gold and I'll bring you his head but no instead I run around and aid the Pact in dispatching hundreds of bad people that I don't even get paid to kill."

    Galdryns eyes were darting across the scope of his vision. He was always watching everything he had been taught to do so and even though he knew nothing would happen to him here he couldn't handle, it was still unnerving being here. He spotted the command tent not too far away from his current position and began to make his way towards it.

    "Tooth stay here, I won't be long with the lizard and then we will go home for a few days." Galdryn walked into the tent and spotted two individuals, the Argonian officer and a Dunmer whom he hadn't met. Immediately he started thinking of the different ways he could kill both of them and escape, again due to his training.

    Galdryn walked to the table, pulled back a chair and propped his feet promptly on some parchment that adorned it, "Well if I had known we would have guests I would have brought Sujamma. What is this about mud hopper?"
  • WandersWithMoonlight
    Wanders-With-Moonlight stood on a hill a short distance away, looking down on the camp. She was tired, feeling the ache in her muscles after such a long journey. The courier had reached her a few days after she had arrived in Black Marsh. She received the notice with a good degree of consternation. She preferred to stay out of conflicts as much as she could, but with the way world is as of late, that is easier said than done, and she found herself serving the people of the pact whether she truly wanted to or not. The skills she has rarely go unnoticed. She would've much preferred to have stayed in Black Marsh. It'd been too long since she'd been home. She chuckled herself, recalling the courier complaining about how he kept missing her and had to pursue her for a few days. She had traveling much quicker than usual lately.

    She sighed, making her way down towards the camp. She glided through the people moving about the camp, keeping an eye out for who she was supposed to meet here. Sings-No-Songs. She was certainly familiar with the name, in a somewhat vague sense. She was sure she had met him in passing as she traipsed across Tamriel.

    As she passed by a tent, she heard a trio of voices drifting out into the open air. She recognized Songs voice the most and figured this was the right place. She entered the tent like a mist, slowly and silently, making no effort to remove her hood. She sat at the nearest open spot. "You might have to give the courier you sent after me a bit of an extra reward," she said with a sheepish mirth. "I may have given him for footwork than he signed on for."
  • KleinDovah
    The past two days had been a bit strenuous on Svenik's stamina. After she received that letter from that old Lieutenant... Sings-With-- no, that wasn't right. Or was it Lieutenant... Sings-With-Mirth? She sighed, rubbing her temple. It would come to her eventually, she was sure. After she received the letter, she had uprooted herself from her comfortable place of temporary vacation: Ebonheart. Though the first time in a very long time, she caught a boat over, and despite the distinct smell of looming chaos in the air, she was able to finally relax for a time. Breathe. The courier had managed to find her rather quickly, however, and all her relaxation and calmness bled out of her as though she had been hit with a barrage of arrows.

    She had spent the last couple of days traveling back to Stonefalls. Try as she might have to get back into that relaxed state, given the request stated in the letter, it was simply impossible. Her role in that battle was somewhat accidental; she had been looking for work, and before she knew it, there she was. In the middle of rampant arson and merciless attack. She didn't want to be there. Though, she sighed; I don't suppose anyone wanted to be there. Not really.

    Picking a bit of blood off of her chainmail, Svenik strode into the camp, posture rigid, gait uniform. She didn't know precisely what this pertained to - only that it was an assignment of sorts - but it seemed necessary to place her best foot forward. Not entirely sure of where she was required to be, she stopped a moment, and scanned the area. She couldn't remember what this Lieutenant looked like, other than... obviously, being scaly. Finally, she spotted a tent. Three figures were already huddled inside that she did not recognize, but the Argonian amid it all made sense. Hackles very much raised, she walked over, looking over the others there on the way. Instead of admitting to having no idea where she was, Svenik sniffed, pulled off her helmet.

    "What've you got for me, Lieutenant?"
    Edited by KleinDovah on July 7, 2015 6:49PM
    Why? Because I said so.
  • Tribunal_Power
    A dragonfly buzzed idly about Bandivar's head as he sat in the tent, the sun slowly setting behind him. Orange rays breathed into the canvas tent, illuminating the map of Tamriel that sprawled on the table in an oblivion glow. The Lieutenant has busied himself scribbling orders or somesuch onto a piece of paper, and just as he called a soldier in to take them, another Dark Elf entered who didn't look like the average Pact warrior. He made a comment that included Morrowind-native alcohol and a racial slang in the same breath, and Bandivar smiled. "A jug would suit me just fine," he commented, though he could see Song bristling from the comment.

    Before the Argonian could respond, another of his kind entered. As he commented that the courier was forced to earn his keep to deliver the letter, a Nord entered behind him-- a fetching Nord, at that. She had the look of a fighter, as many Nords do, and a resolve in her eyes that Bandivar admired. Although he didn't realize it, he sat up a little straighter and shot her a smile.

    "Now that we're all here," Lt. Song said with no small touch of annoyance, "let us not waste time with chit chat. There is a war on, in case you had not noticed." He tapped a scaly finger to the map on a point along the coast a few miles east and north, and peered at them with stone-cold eyes. "The Covenant have established a small raiding party on this beach. Most of my contingent has recalled to Fort Virak, and I don't have enough men to deal with the raiding party. While the Lukiul Uxith warriors are more than capable of defending the town, I am troubled by the size of the ships that were seen. Large ships and few men could mean siege weapons-- if it does, I want them burned on the beach before they ever make it here.

    "Also," he continued, coming around the table to approach the four gathered there, "my scouts tell me they spotted a Captain on the decks. His name is Jacque Bordell, and he was the leader of the offensive in Davon's Watch that took the life of Lt. Gabron." The Argonian grew darker still, leaning forward and saying quietly, "I want him dead."

    Following this, he stood quickly and returned to his seat behind the table. "Do this, and the spine of gratitude will forever be extended to you. Now go, and may the sun be on your scales."

    Bandivar stood and turned to exit, nudging the Argonian that had entered behind him as he passed. "I think he's talking to you," he commented with a smile, stepping out into the camp.

    As he exited, he spied his lioness approaching a nearby campfire where a group of soldiers looked skiddish and uncomfortable. "Else! Tssst! Tssst!" he called out, and the lioness immediately backed off sheepishly, laying her ears back and peering at Bandivar with an annoyed glare.

    One of the soldiers looked at him as he approached. "What's it's name?" he asked, unsure of what he heard.

    "'Else', as in Elsewhere."

    The soldier looked confused.

    "I purchased her from an orc slaver down south. When I asked him where it was from, he commented that he didn't know, and that the previous owner had been dodgy about it. I asked him what he meant; he said that everytime he asked the original owner where she was from, the owner said, "Elseweyr!" The fool of an orc never figured it out!"

    The soldiers laughed, Bandivar gave them all a slap on the shoulder, and they went their separate ways. "Don't mind them," he muttered to Else, patting her neck as they walked off. "I'm sure they don't like their own names either. It'll grow on you!"

    He hoisted a leg and pushed his foot into the stirrup of Else's saddle, and swung himself over her back. As he climbed aboard, Else tipped forward a bit to let him on, taking the opportunity to stretch her front legs and massive paws. The dip was a bit more than Bandivar expected, and he grabbed the saddlehorn for stability to keep from spilling into the dirt. Trying to look as though he hadn't just nearly fallen, he looked back to the three that were soon to be travelling with him, and said, "Well then, I suppose introductions are in order? I'm sure I should remember you all from Davon's Watch, but I fear repeated blows to the head has dampened my memory over the years." He gave a charming smile and rotated his mount to better face them.
  • Evi1_An9e1
    "After all that blabbeing I get caught up in a war I could hardly care about. The pay better be good," Galdryn thought as he stepped from the tent, "I'm in the service of killing emperors not aiding would be tyrants." Galdryn paused before leaving and took a minute to examine the newcomers. He remembered seeing the other Dunmer during Indorils ritual to summon the abomination and he thought he recalled the Argonian from Ebonheart but for the life of him he could not remember ever seeing the Nord, though to Galdryn they all looked alike and acted the same. This particular Nord however was not of the norm he could tell that from the way she carried herself into the tent and even now as she was preparing to leave. This woman had a style of loyalty but more like the kind that could be bought and her gear said the same, probably a mercenary from Windhelm or some poor fetcher trying to make her way in Riften. The Argonian on the other hand was trained much like he was although he did not know to what extent, they would get along rather nicely. The kinsmen however had to have been a soldier at some point, he could tell by the way he walked, probably worshipped the Tribunal too. Galdryn finished his analysis of the strangers and continued outside to where Ash Tooth had been patiently waiting.

    The other Dunmer said something though Galdryn did not clearly hear him, he figured it was an introduction. Politely as he could fake salutations, Galdryn replied, "I am Galdryn Arethi of the Vvardenfell noble Arethi's. Blessings of the Three upon you Sera. I cannot recall seeing you much at Davon's Watch except when we went into the crypts to help the elder Indoril mage. Sorry I did not bring Sujamma, would've been a nice reminder of home and of simpler times. Well that is quite enough out of me, let's allow our new friends here to speak. Go ahead Outlanders."

    Galdryn smirked at his jab to the others wondering if the Dunmer picked up on his so called "blessing", but he also wondered how long he could keep this façade going. It was hard after all, portraying a Dunmer noble when you were never born into that life.
  • WandersWithMoonlight
    Wanders snickered softly at the mild jab Bandivar made to her, and she stood up from the table, "Suppose so. Unless Dunmer have scales I'm not aware of." She slipped him a similar smile as she passed him, stepping out into the camp once more. As she thought about the orders that were given to her, she couldn't help but feel hesitation at being called upon to take a life. But war does have a way of changing things, much to her dismay. Though if it keeps the people of the Pact from further harm, what other choice does she have in the matter?

    Wanders watched him climb atop the Lioness with ease, and for a moment, she stood there, marveling it with wide eyes. She'd only seen them a small handful of times in her travels, and she still wasn't quite used to them on their own, letting alone seeing someone use one as a means of travel. She looked about, scanning the group: two Dunmer and a Nord. They had all naturally kept quiet during the briefing inside the tent, so when Wanders heard mentions of introductions, her heart couldn't help but swell ever so slightly, eager to hear what the others said.

    As Galdryn spoke, she was quite surprised to hear that he was of a noble house. Looking at him, he didn't seem to carry himself as a noble Dunmer would. Though, she recalled, she hadn't met very many Dunmer nobles before, so she wasn't entirely sure how they did carry themselves. When he was finished and invited the others to speak, Wanders casually took the reigns.

    "I'm Wanders-With-Moonlight," she said. "Though you can call me Wanders. Our names tend to get rather long and cumbersome." She accented this with a grin. "I have no titles to claim, aside from Shadowscale."
  • KleinDovah
    Svenik naturally remained quiet during the briefing, and left the tent feeling confident in her new knowledge of the situation. Always making sure to be the last in a line, she had ample time to examine her new comrades. None of them were familiar to her. One of the Dunmer struck her as exceedingly arrogant, the other seemed fairly world-worn, and the Argonian... well, the Argonian hadn't made a clear impression on her yet. She seemed kinder than the others, though that didn't necessarily mean she was soft.

    Tucking her helmet into her armpit, she followed the crowd to the large cat which acted as a mount for the less arrogant-seeming mer. While far and away not the most outrageous thing she had witnessed, it was definitely an experience to see such an uncommon creature in a casual setting. Her eyes drifted up and down the creatures as she listened to the others introduce themselves. She smirked, mentally nodding in understanding once the other mer mentioned his 'noble standing'. The Argonian had an interesting name, its structure very par for the course as far as her race went, she thought. Once everyone was all finished and it was her turn, she stepped forward a bit to better be seen, sweeping a lock of hair away from her eyes as she addressed each person with her gaze.

    "Svenik Roh. I've, perhaps not very luckily, been spared the burden of wealth in favor of the freedom to call myself a mercenary. Just as I didn't see any of you during the defense, it's unlikely you've laid eyes on me before."
    Why? Because I said so.
  • Tribunal_Power
    Bandivar listened intently to their introductions as they spoke in a round, taking brief moments along the way to observe their body language and the way they spoke. The Argonian with whom he had joked a moment ago carried herself well, the way one would expect of a Shadowscale, but didn't strike him as overzealous or too stiff. Shadowscales were handy in a fight, but he'd never met one he could crack a joke with. Wanders made him wonder.

    The other dunmer was a mystery to him; he was certainly friendly in a nobleman's sort of way, but it seemed askew, almost practiced. He figured the man just had oddball mannerisms, as nobles are often wont to have, and smiled along to his homeland references. Although, the man did have a bright idea with the sujamma... Bandivar reasoned it was probably a bit too early in the day to break out the flask as yet.

    The nord woman, though, was where his attention was enraptured. He appreciated the clever turn of her words, referring to wealth as a burden and the freedom of being a sellsword; he sensed a wit he'd not often seen in a nord body before, and this nord had quite the body. But there was blood to spill, he reminded himself, and that bodies and wits would have to wait.

    Now that it was his turn, he introduced himself as well. Although he was of noble birth, he spoke and acted more like a nord commoner than an elven noble, and it seemed he preferred it that way. "I am Bandivar Morvayn. I like strong drinks, loud music, and long walks on the beach. I'm not a fan of war, but I'm good at it, and what I'm good at puts gold in my coffers. Sad to say one doesn't get many strong drinks without gold. Plus, Else here likes only the finest fish." He gave his mount a pat on the neck, and Else laid her ears back at his touch. She seemed to be in a mood after the interaction with the soldiers.

    "I suppose we should be on," he said, peering out to the northeastern coast. "There's knifework needs doing." He turned Else to head that way, and started moving at a casual pace.
  • Evi1_An9e1
    Galdryn smirked at Bandivar's comment and patted his blades hanging at his sides, "Knifework indeed, may the three keep us this day and many others to follow." Galdryn did a once over of everyone again now that he knew them a bit better. The Argonian being a Shadowscale did not really surprise him with what the way she had entered the tent and the subtle swift movement of her body as if dancing while walking, a tell of wetwork. Secretly he hoped to cross blades with her even if just for sport to see whom was the better trained. The Nord he now had more respect for after confirmation she was indeed a sellsword for he too was a blade for hire although to a very specific clientele and normally just for assassination but there was a certain free feeling in it. His kinsmen was now seated plainly in Galdryn's mind as a military vet or possibly a former city guard with a sordid past, that would explain his admittance to his favoring of drinks. He smirked again at his astute observations. The spinners had taught him well.

    Galdryn mounted Ash Tooth and began to follow Morvayn but looked back at the other two companions and wondered what cruel fate had befallen all of them, for they seemed to be heavy of heart like a great emptiness was in them. Could it have possibly had something to do with Molag Bal's incursion and all those disappearances throughout Tamriel? The odds of all of them being there at the same time seemed unlikely but it was possible. If so he hoped the Lieutenant wasn't sending them into a deathtrap before they figured out how to fix themselves. For once in a long time Galdryn felt connected to other people but he could not let this show or inhibit his skills, he was taught better than that. Still after looking at them all he wondered what the Web Spinner had put him here for.
  • WandersWithMoonlight
    Wanders couldn't help but feel pleased with the group she'd been put with. Much as she was dreading the thought of having to put her blades to use once again, she could comfort that she'd at least be in the presence of good and interesting company. She couldn't help but admire Bandivar the most among the other two, as it seemed rare to find someone still willing to put a jest down on the table in times like these.

    She was also curious about Svenik as well. She'd heard many stories about the Nords when she was growing up in Black Marsh. Follows-The-Words never seemed to run out of things to tell her about their culture and history. She assumed it was all true, but perhaps now she would have a chance to get directly from the source. She couldn't help but smile and laugh to herself. If only Follows was here with her; he would be barraging her with questions, no doubt. She'd have to tell him about this the next time they met. Perhaps she'd be able to give him some information about Nords for a change.

    Galdryn made her wonder. There was just something intrinsically captivating about how he carried himself. Perhaps that was the effect that came with being of a noble house. That was how you had to appear to people, to everyone around you, confident and charismatic. She wondered if it was natural for him, if that's just the way he was, or of it was a practiced persona, made to come off as natural and off-the-cuff through great effort. In the end, she supposed, it didn't matter. It had the intended effect of winning people over, she was sure, so there wasn't much sense in worrying about the authenticity.

    "Knifework," she repeated, grinning sheepishly. "Never really thought I'd hear those words again. Let's just hope I'm not more out of practice than I thought." She idly drummed her finger tips on the end of one of her blades, starting to follow Bandivar as he set off eastward. She didn't have a mount of her own to speak of, much preferring to travel by foot, so she was thankful for the casual pace he set.
  • KleinDovah
    Svenik didn't much question the nature or histories of the company she currently kept. Whether they were all lying and harboring some filthy secret or they were all who they claimed to be, it was of no import to her. At the end of the day, none of it really mattered. But her first impressions remained true; she couldn't yet tell whether the Argonian would be a threat or not, but until she did something to raise suspicion, Svenik would be sure not to treat her a martyr.

    The noble, however - Galdryn Arethi. She would need to keep an eye on that one. There was a different air about him, something... familiar, but distinctly untrustworthy in the wrong situation. The other one seemed of no real threat - one less thing to worry about, she supposed.

    With a hum, she picked up the pace behind the lot, carefully scanning her surroundings as she walked. Knifework, she thought, a smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. Something she missed quite a lot. Looking forward to the mission ahead served as a lovely distraction from the aching in her feet that was sure to come from the journey.

    "What an odd group this is," she commented at one point, unable to help herself. The team did seem quite ragtag, in her opinion.
    Why? Because I said so.
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