Chapter 06 - For Every Action...

Cut Scene

In the Imperial City, there is a shroud of mourning on this solemn autumn day. By a Royal Edict of the City's acting ruler Gerald, it is announced to the royal court that the Draconian King has passed away, having been poisoned by yet-unknown traitors. Though the perpetrators are still at large, there is strong evidence that the Kingsmen themselves have betrayed the King and allowed for this to happen. Thus, until further notice and in light of the current events, Gerald has assumed control of the city and enacted a curfew until the traitors are found. Thus, all Kingsmen are put under arrest, to be formally replaced by the Blackguard, and the city is to remain under martial law for the time being.

Though most people find this news incredulous, it is hard to argue against well armed guards. Many of the Kingsmen, not knowing how to cope with the situation, and unable to break a royal edict, allow themselves to be arrested. And so, with a single parchment, Gerald assumes full control of the city, virtually unopposed and unquestioned. Dark times fall upon Cyrodiil, and the Blackguard begin their harsh regime of the once-peaceful realm.

Scene 1 - The Library

The party finishes burying the corpse of the fallen librarians and make there apologies, each coping with the events of the last few hours differently. Alisaar, the born-and-bred warrior, is obviously wanting the leave and move forward with their tasks. Arthus spend time browsing around the library and examining its wonders, while Fizbin rummages through Varlin's notes, looking for additional information that may help them in their quest. William, the most affected by the pointless destruction and death of the monks, spends time saying prayers above each of the newly dug graves, altering between sadness, rage, and guilt. Knowing a great loss befell the library, William carefully places his very used yet meticulously cared for copy of the Book of Pelor on the grave of Father Joseph Grey. He says his prayers and walks away, straightening his back and resolve. Unbeknownst to him, a strong gust of wind blows past the book and opens it to page one…

In all of that, Alec appears to be least affected, as if his mind is elsewhere, and though his demeanor is very much withdrawn, his blood is up, and his instincts acute, giving him an almost feral characteristic. He appears to have aged almost overnight, his horns longer and more defined, with many new scars and cuts across his skin. He doesn't explain anything, and the rest are too occupied to notice, but Alec has changed somehow in his vision into another world.

Having much to discuss and overwhelmed by the events of the last few days, Arthus, at Fizbin’s request, uses a sending to contact Bartelbee. Though the greetings are pleasant, there is a solemn note to all things discussed. They trade information and learn the following:

1) Gerald is pulling men off the line, or at least trying to. So far, Bartlebee, The General, and others have been able to intercept the messengers and ensure that this doesn’t happen
2) There is martial law being enforced in Cyrodiil
3) The Adjudicators are missing off the roads.
4) The Shadow Hounds that attacked the library are in fact Gerald's personal pets
5) The Blackguard are trained in Hammerfell. They have been around for a while, and their camp can be found near the highest hills.
6) Bartlebee is impressed and proud of the young boys, but warns that they are in deep, playing with the big boys, and that they should be cautious.

Finally they meet outside the library, in the harsh wind, and standing by the cold and snow-covered gate, say their farewells and decide that it is time to move on towards Hammerfell, and seek out Morning Light and chase the Pelorian Instrumentality. At that Fizbin speaks a few arcane words, and soon five horses come out of thin air. One is a war horse that matches Alisaar, another is a dark steed clearly meant for Alec. There is also a white horse for William, a mustang for Arthus, and a serviceable horse for himself.

Though at first surprised, they are grateful for the magic, and soon start out into the cold, moving slowly south towards the Hammerfell border. Alec gets on the horse and treats it with more cruelty than usual, digging his talons in deep and riding the phantom hard, as if the wind at his back was chasing demons away, but though the rest notice, they choose not to speak of it for now.

Scene 2 - The Campfire

That night, having ridden the phantom horses for a whole day and often under the cover of tall, jagged mountains, the group decides to stop for the night, relying on Alec's hunter instinct to find a suitable place. Sure enough, he finds a big, empty cave with enough room for all of them to spend the night in some comfort and protected from the elements.

Cooking a paltry dinner, they sit in silence, covered in warm cloaks and enjoying the small but heartening fire. With a little magic Fizbin enhances its size and strength, and with Alec's knowhow they catch enough meat to satisfy the hunger. He is very combative with the group, but the calm, steady voice of his friends seems to ease him a little from whatever rallied his blood.

Somewhat relaxed and well hidden from the prying eyes of the world, they chat for a while, discussing their individual impressions of the library and the knowledge stored therein. For the first time they have a chance to look at each other, and they all notice slight changes on all of them, but especially Alec. Arthus and William, well attuned to their comrades, both notice a scar across Alec horns and brow that is both new and long healed, concluding in amazement that he is older, by at least a year. Meanwhile, Fizbin, having mysteriously acquired a new mastery of elements, is training on a large flat stone trying “scry” for metals. While he does the others talk, each in turn telling the story of what he learned and saw.

Alisaar starts his tale by describing the world and the people within in. Though his vision was brief, it left a huge impression, and put names to feelings he's had for a long time. He talks of his home and what he saw, and seems concerned that they go to war while his god is said to be diminished.

William recants his tale of a huge cathedral, the knighting ceremony, and the strange people of this other realm. He speaks of how they too are preparing for a siege, expecting the enemies of his god and the realm as a whole. Strangely, here too his god appears to have diminished, and has not been felt present in quite some time.

When Alec speaks, there is a savage sorrow to his words. He explains that he was in what seemed like hell, deep within the Blood War that rages throughout those lands. He speaks of nameless friends that he made, and later watched die. He recants a tale of how he and a number of other tieflings were captured as prisoners and slaves, to be questioned and tortured, and when their captors were finally coming for him, he decided he would rather die than be taken. Though his voice is shaky, he reveals that he had chosen to hang himself, but as the rope around his neck tightened, his body jolted and he awoke in the library, with only scars and memories proving that he was really elsewhere.

Arthus speaks little of his experience. He mentions that he went back in time and encountered someone that he knows from his own past, and that they each seemed to realize that he has travelled back in time. For that reason, each refused to discuss too much lest they change the past, so to speak. Arthus realizes that the weird part of his reading a book is that it was real - and that whatever he did or could have done had a chance of affecting the real world. However, being mindful of his oath to The Keepers, he left out any and all mention of the specifics - especially David Talbot.

Fizbin, unaware of Arthus' revelation, or perhaps ignorant of it, explains that in his vision he saw Sirilius when he was young. He speaks a little about asking him a few questions about Jennesta, but doesn't get into much detail, assuming that any discussions regarding the arcane are "well beyond their comprehension." As his story unravels, however, the chamber gets tense, and his usually joyous friends clam up sitting in silence, listening with wide-open eyes and gaping mouths, as if refusing to believe Fizbin's account of his vision.

Eventually Arthus, in almost unison with the rest of the group, shouts out at Fizbin: "What were you thinking!?". Fizbin, shocked and surprised, only responds "Why? What's wrong with you? What did I do?", hurt and distressed by his friends' accusations, not quite comprehending the dread in their eyes.

At that it becomes clear to Arthus that Fizbin's simply unaware of the repercussions of his story. He slowly calms down, and looking surprised at Fizbin that he doesn't know this, recants a tale.

"Sirilius was once a gifted mage and a hero. He is said to have fought, successfully, against Jennesta over two and a half millennia ago, but most of his comrades perished in that war. Years later, it is said, he saw a vision that told him he had failed and that evil will survive him and his companions, and that he could never win against Jennesta. Thought to be no more than a wive's tale, the legend says that this revelation shook him to the core and that he had lost all hope for victory. Consequently, that realization drove him mad, and so he turned to the forbidden lore in the pursuit of ever-more power."

"The legends say that Sirilius became the Lich King, and that he has ever since been the ruler of the Underdark. He is the boogie man that parents speak of to children at night. His name is that of legend and fright. He bides his time, growing ever more powerful, but to what end no one knows. And he is utterly evil, with many undead at his disposal, such that even the foul drow dread the very sight of him."

Arthus pauses for a moment, looking at the shocked expression on Fizbin's face. It becomes blatantly clear that somehow everyone knows the tale of Sirilius - that is, everyone except for Fizbin. Even though they all ought to know this tale from childhood, Fizbin, somehow, has no recollection of that. And Fizbin, slowly digesting what he just heard, comes to a realization that it was none other than he who put Sirilius on this dreaded path.

As everyone sits in silence, Arthus decides to redirect the attention of the group and decides to tell one of his stories - adventures from his recent explorations. He tells a tale of his first tomb 'exploration' and describes an ancient artifact called the Rod of Sorrows. As he tells the tale Fizbin's hands begin to move on their own and out of the ice beneath the stone he had been training on an exact image of the artifact appears. As he looks at it and in the same instant that Arthus notices, the ice replica shatters into small crystals of ice, quickly melting away in the warmth of the fire. Though he is unsure of what is true and what is imagined, Fizbin could swear that for an instant he heard cold laughter inside his head, humming on the wind the clear, brutal words: “It is easier to destroy than it is to create.”

Suddenly Alec freaks out and yells at Fizbin, “It’s always like this. You do what you want. You say what you want. It’s because of you I went there. I was treated like an animal because you don’t know how to act like a man!” It looks as if it is going to escalate. Alec's blood is clearly up, and, concerned that he might not control his anger, the others all stand up intervent, preventing a possible fight. Alec, still furious but controlling his rage, steps back into the shadow, and knowing today enough was said, goes off to sulk in the back, ending the evening's conversations.

Fizbin is shaken by all that has happened, and at that moment he feels a new power in his veins, with the scar on his chest pulsating wildly, as if awake and full of its own will.

The group sleeps uneasily that night. Though their bonds of friendship survived the test, for now, they know there will be many more test in the future. Each dreams about their vision, reliving the memory over and over again.

The next morning each wakes up tense, as if having missed a night of sleep. Cool but cordial, Alec addresses Fizbin privately, acknowleding that perhaps Fizbin couldn’t have known what would happen, so he cannot be held responsible. Still, there is an air of uneasiness about Alec, but for now things seem settled, and after all, the four friends are his only family. Still, it seems that it will take some time for Alec to fully get used to being back with his friends and away from the savages of the Blood War. So they eat a breakfast, still a little awkwardly but at least speaking again, and get ready for the road ahead. Arthus, with his quick wit and a sharp tongue, further defuses the whole situation with humor, and soon they are off again, a band of brothers on a long and unknown journey.

They travel, for some hours, with the knowledge that soon they will be on forein and unfriendly soil. Arthus gets a glimpse of something, something that is following them, but it fades quickly, and unsure and uncertain, keeps his lips sealed and the senses up. For now, at least, there is no need to speak of it to others.

Scene 3 - The Look Outs

They ride towards the Hammerfell border much of the day, stopping some distance to inspect the installation. Spotting a heavy guard, ballistae and lookouts, they realize that without proper Notes of Citizenship they will not be able to pass. Waiting and plotting what to do next, they spot a small carvan pass through the border, coming from Hammerfell, and notice it follows a simple, narrow road, a little to the east and beyond sight. Still, with keen senses Alec and Arthus pick up a scent of smoke stacks, and deducing that there must be a town somewhere nearby, they decide to follow the caravan and see what their luck will bring. Thus they follow for a while until they reach the outskirts of a small mining camp, run by dwarves and men, known to locals as the town of Amber Guard.

Cut Scene

The Adjudicators gather around a tall, ancient oak hidden deep in the forests of Cyrodiil. Its limbs are thick and old, hanging low, as if inviting the visitors to a sacred duty long performed by their predecessors. Around the lowest, thickest branch cling remnants of a heavy rope, old and ripped, half grown into the bark, still hanging with a silent warning to those who would break the laws of this land.

The men are restless, solemn, and resolute. Some are young and clean, others older and beaten by time and life of zero compromise. The oldest and most respected of the adjudicators speaks.

"As we all know, there has been a great atrocity committed in the Imperial City. The Royal Edict is treason against the crown! We all know the law. We all know what needs to be done. But it is our tradition for all to vote before judging something this big. Let the vote be cast! Do we go to war?!"

The vote is cast and all hands go up, each holding a hangman’s noose with a tight grip. And it is decided. They go to war against the Crown. They go to war against Gerard.


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