Hunting the Hunter Ch. 02byEnithermon©
The world in which this story is based and the terminology used is the intellectual property of Bethesda, this is a bit of Elder Scrolls fanfic type fun with a were twist. You can also safely assume that anyone doing anything 'untoward' is of legal age...ect.
Now that that's out of the way...enjoy! Oh, and comments of all creeds and colors are seriously like crack now, so please, be my pusher man.
Inanna swore and wiped her hands on her thighs. What was with all the sweating? Normally she was cool as a frost atronach.
These last couple months she'd felt like she was on fire, more than she normally was that is. Even before she dripped all over that ogre she was feeling like this. She'd seen a healer, but she was apparently fine, now it just seemed to have gotten exponentially worse. She let out a mildly exasperated sigh. She didn't like to wear gloves as she worked, but clearly there was no choice.
She hopped up into an alcove behind a headless statue and pulled out her thinnest gloves. She needed gloves when she did a lot of shooting, so she always had a couple pairs on hand. This was a stealth mission however, so shooting was going to be out. A little work thrown at her from the fighters guild. Apparently a good customer needed an artifact 'recovered' but it needed to be done in a fashion that wasn't exactly up the fighter guild's alley. She had asked why the client didn't want the thieves guild, and was told that, apparently, they were on very bad terms with one another.
So here was little old Inanna, playing sneaky thief. It's harder than it looks. The instinct is to just kill the things that get in the way.
She smirked. She had a feeling she knew the score. At the moment she was in an old fortress north of Skingrad, it was the Skingrad hall that had outsourced to her after all, and she didn't doubt that it was the mysterious Count of Skingrad himself who was the nameless client. She was especially suspicious because who in their right minds wanted to make sure a coven of vampires wasn't hurt...really?
Except...perhaps...family? She'd gotten around. She'd heard all the rumors, and knew damn well why the Count and the thieves guild weren't exactly on each others 'friendlies' list. A little hint to the unwary, the sentence for theft in Castle Skingrad is death...no doubt by bloodletting, seen to personally by the Count himself. That little tidbit aside, Skingrad was actually quite a pleasant city, and in excellent wine country.
She really needed to stop sweating, it was going to give her away, they'd smell her from miles off. "I hate my life." she murmured and headed down a side corridor that had collapsed in on itself. There was no way through, but the rich dark earth and tree roots had punched a hole in the stone wall.
Time to play hunter. On second thought, who was she kidding? She loved her life.
She grabbed a couple handfuls of dirt and piled it, calling up a tiny ball of ice in her palms, which took far more effort than it should...but then she did run hot. She placed the ball on top and then melted it instantly, turning the dirt to mud. The mud would mask her scent as well as dim the glow of her life essence. Not by much of course, but every little bit helped, and if she stayed low, they might assume she was one of the nasty wolves they had prowling around. This would help throw those clever noses off too.
It was a long day. Endless hours of crouching and waiting; biding ones time in dusty alcoves and dim corners. It wouldn't have been so bad if she really was hunting them. Then at least she'd have that sense of satisfaction when she slipped up on them and went in for the kill.
She didn't like Vampires much. The ones from home were a nasty brutal lot, even by Dunmer standards...though again the Telvanni were always the exception to the rule. These ones didn't look too different, gaunt, and feral, and red eyed. From the Vampires that is...not the Telvanni. Then again...not much of a difference there either.
Boy, she was thinking about the Telvanni a lot lately. She could have joined that house, a clan friend had offered to find a sponsor for her...but she wasn't really interested. She had other priorities, and locking herself up in a Tel stronghold for a few centuries wasn't one of them.
She smiled as she looked down on the two vamps below her as she lay belly down on a long wooden log that was meant as a trap, but was currently providing her with excellent cover at the moment. That is provided no one turned on a life detection spell and looked waaaay up.
She knew damn well why she was thinking about those crazy sorcerers. Her little friend Green eyes. She was still reeling from disbelief over the whole thing.
Well maybe not reeling, but it was quite a head shaker. Not necessarily upsetting mind you. In fact, she'd managed to admit, it had been a lovely evening. She might even try it again some time. Only it had been three weeks and she hadn't seen him around anywhere. She'd even stopped by the lake a couple of times...just in case. It was ridiculous of course, she was acting a little like a young girl with a crush...but she had to admit...she was starting to really miss running into him. It was always interesting at least, and it was getting harder and harder for things to keep her interested. It was going to be hell by the time she was three hundred, she could only hope she'd find something, or someone to keep her from dying of boredom by then.
Finally. The bloodsuckers were wandering off. She waited and sent out a low level life detection of her own, waiting until they were out of range. She wasn't stupid, they'd feel it the moment she started drawing up her magica it if she did it in the same room as them.
The undead struck her as being more sensitive to unseen powers than the mundane ones. It made sense, they were trapped somewhere between the plains of life and death, that should give them a unique take on both. So even if she didn't have to 'cast' spells, since, like most Dunmer, her magic use was intuitive rather than learned or prescriptive, the signature inherent in it could still be sensed by those sensitive to the movements of unseen powers.
Many couldn't sense intuitive magic, but she didn't want to take the chance that these creeps could.
She carefully lowered herself to a nearby ledge and dropped with cat like grace into a watchful crouch. She giggled mentally even as her eyes scanned the room intently, green would be proud.
Jackpot. Three large chests stood against one wall looking very much like they were full of wonderful toys. She was tasked to liberate as much as she could so it didn't look like she was here for something specific. She got to keep as much as she could carry. Good thing she had invested in a feathering ring then eh?
Too bad she still had to sneak out without getting too many holes in her throat. Like, for instance, any at all.
Two were unlocked (cocky vamps) and contained all manner of wonderfully light weight and expensive items. Many of which were magical. She didn't take the time to figure out which did what, just took what she could. There was a lovely looking sword in the third, larger trunk, which had been locked, though just barely. It looked Elven, and had a lovely gold hilt with green glass details. A bright shimmering green which stood against the gold like willow leaves in sunlight. She bit her lip. It was probably too heavy to sneak out with....it might get her killed...but it was such a pretty, familiar shade of green. Green on gold.
Self control was never one of her strengths. She wanted what she wanted, when she wanted it. She sighed and strapped it awkwardly over her shoulder, trying to snug it under her bow without it banging away and letting everyone one know there was a none too sneaky Dunmer crawling around in their secret hideout.
There was also a nasty looking dagger. It oozed Daedric magic and had red markings scratched onto its black hilt which glowed faintly. She recognized the script, she'd seen it many times in the twisted Daedric temples that proliferated back in Morrowind, but she didn't recognize the language itself.
Reaching out with those skills of perception that all Ashlanders were taught along with the sword and the bow she touched the magic of it with her own. She saw red, the red of fire and blood, and her senses were filled with the scent of charred flesh and sulfur. She smirked, smelled like home. It also smelled like one of the four corners of the house of troubles, the lords of chaos and destruction. Molag Bal perhaps...wasn't he supposed to have fathered the vampiric race?
She shrugged. Either way it was hers now, so long as she could hang onto it at least. Possession was nine tenths of the law after all. Or at least it was in her mind.
The blade looked more like volcanic glass than anything metallic, and was probably just as sharp. She picked it up using a cloth and wrapped it carefully, laying it inside her satchel snugly so it wouldn't be jostled. She had been told to collect a 'unique black dagger' and she had a feeling this little beauty was precisely what she had been charged to find. She didn't even want to know what it did, so long as it didn't do it to her. She was careful to never make direct contact with the thing, it was always best not to screw with Daedra.
There was still no sign of the vamps, so she checked around the room for anything interesting. There were a couple of rare books she decided to 'borrow' and a fair amount of gold locked in an ornate looking desk. The place was a dank ruin, but they had decent enough taste to furnish it nicely. The desk was quite handsome, but she couldn't exactly carry that out now could she? A shame too, it would have looked lovely in her new home. Furniture was her favorite part of the non-nomadic lifestyle, the 'only what you can carry rule' made things like tables and chairs rather tricky items to own when you were always moving to new hunting grounds.
She was about to quit the room when she heard voices again. She edged to the far side of the room and crushed herself up against the wall, behind a narrow support. It wasn't the greatest spot, but it would have to do. Hopefully she could keep her heart from pounding and giving her away. She'd heard that some of these creatures could hear a beating heart if close enough.
She kept one eye on the vamps as they re-entered, talking lowly, and another on the room trying to find a quick way up and out of their hands if it came to that. She figured if she could get to the desk she could jump up to catch a ledge with her fingers then pull herself up enough to use the other pillar as leverage with her feet. She'd have to be quick, because the alarm would be up by then. They both had their backs to her, and one was moving towards the chests.
Azura take her. She made her move, skirting the wall behind them as softly as she could. Their momentary distraction with the recent robbery actually bought her the time she needed to get to the desk and pull herself up over the rail before they saw her.
She blinked and they were gone. They must have spelled themselves invisible. That wasn't good. 'Could they all do that?' she wondered. There was a shout below her, then more in the darkness echoing through the winding catacombs of the ancient fort. The only thing she could do now that was smart was run, and fast.
She decided she hated playing thief. She tore through the halls, winging past startled vampires and leaping down entire flights of stairs breathing a silent thanks every time she landed well. The last thing she needed was a twisted knee or ankle.
Almost there, just a little further...
A sword came out of nowhere and she threw herself forward into a dive, feeling the blade breeze over her head. She fell into a roll and then back up onto her feet, pushing off from a crouch into another sprint, this time with a not-so-startled vampire hot on her heels.
The doors! 'Please let it still be day.' She slammed into the door and squeezed through it the moment she could fit.
Oh dear. It wasn't night, but it was close. She had maybe a few minutes before it was safe for these things to be wandering around unprotected. Then again, maybe they had wards. She didn't wait to find out and half ran, half slid down the hill atop which the old fortress stood. She stumbled near the bottom, and took the lull to look back. She couldn't see anything, but then, they may still be invisible.
She huffed and kept going, her chest tight with exertion and adrenaline. She slowed so she wouldn't stumble again and get herself turned into lunch because of a sprain. How humiliating would that be?
She spotted a cave ahead and made straight for it. It looked like an old mine. She slipped inside with one last look behind her and pulled out her bow. At least she could kill this stuff she consoled herself.
She sniffed the air as she moved cautiously deeper into the surprisingly dry cavern, her eyes glancing at the old wooden support beams, waiting for one rotten one to snap and bury her under a ton of rocks. She moved into an open room, dimly lit with torches and sniffed again. Goblins.
She slipped into an empty looking side hollow when she thought she heard a voice behind her. She frowned and wedged herself behind a big wooden support. The walls were thick with mine dusk and she resisted the urge to cough as she disturbed the old layers of untouched filth and cobwebs. The voice drew nearer.
"Are you sure? I thought I saw something go around the back of the cave."
"I'm sure I saw something open the door. It was from a distance, but I'm sure of it."
"It could be a goblin. Ugh." She smirked. Vampires also had sensitive noses. More so than she even. That one sounded like a Bosmer, so he must be really suffering as he was doubly blessed with sharp senses...or cursed as the case may be. The other one, the smart one who saw her, was female, but that was all she could tell. Human perhaps...or was once. She heard a screech from deep inside the caverns, then more quite close by. Then she heard it much, much closer.
The vampires swore and started fighting as a small herd of goblins charged into the room. They could only stay unseen if they did nothing, and it was a little late for that. She was grateful the mud, and now dust and dirt, was still covering her scent, not that she would be easy to pick up in this rank cavern. After a good twenty minutes of screaming and cursing the vampires prevailed and decided she wasn't there after all. Of course she was no dummy. An hour and a half later she extracted herself from her very uncomfortable position and decided to go exploring. If they had half a brain they'd wait outside as long as they could just in case. All she had to do was survive until dawn.
She grinned nastily, with lots of bared teeth, and selected an arrow. "Here gobby gobby gobby." She purred quietly and soft-shoed it down the nearest corridor. The hunt was on. Green would be so proud.
Dawn broke, and Inanna strutted out of the cave sleepy and feeling very satisfying, though very heavy. As it turned out the goblins had an absolute ton of fun swag they'd been stealing from moron adventurers. 'Horse, here I come.' Maybe she'd even get one of those sleek black ones they kept in Cheydinhal. She didn't much care for horses, but she'd probably look terrific on one of those. Maybe she'd get herself some black leathers as well, then she'd look dangerous. Thankfully the heaviness didn't last long because she was in Skingrad not two hours later. Apparently she'd run a lot farther than she'd thought. The fear of imminent death can have that affect on a person.
She sold off all the small bits, crystals, uninteresting jewelery, and everything from the goblin caves, but kept the magically infused items, and of course the weapons. She then took a long hot bath, and a long nap and headed over to the fighters guild after meandering a bit just in case anyone was following her. One never knew.
She got there, she got paid, got rid of the nasty Daedric knife, and all was well. Apparently the client already knew what had been done, surprise, surprise, and was 'at least glad no one was injured', and that no one knew who was responsible, aside from the thief being female of course. No amount of hoods and mud were going to cover this pretty piece of flesh up.
It probably helped that she hadn't come back right away. That meant there was no trace of her or her loot in Skingrad when the vamps turned up to investigate, no doubt suspecting their old friend his lordship as their primary suspect. It also meant everyone could lie convincingly when they were asked if the weapons had turned up there.
'No sir, no weapons here.'
She decided to take off before sunset, no doubt they'd be back, and she didn't want to be there when that happened. She was feeling energized, and flush, so she made good time in her high spirits.
It was still the small hours of the morning, not too much after midnight in fact, when the Imperial spire came into view. She might as well camp there for a bit, get rested and have someone take a look at her new toys for her. She hadn't given up her little shack there yet since it was coming in handy as a way point, and was less costly in the long run than shelling out for room and board every night. She was rounding a familiar bend, eying an Ayleid ruin askance as she passed it. It was known for bandits. The more you killed the more came back; they were as bad as bloody weeds.
She heard a shout and rolled her eyes, pulling out her bow. Here we go again. It was an awkward movement because she still had the Elvish sword strapped to her back. She turned toward the sound and waited. Oddly it was coming from the opposite side of the road rather than from the ruins. To her surprise a big cat came bounding out of the trees. She couldn't get a good look at it, but she could see an angry red mark running up its side and another near its neck. The cat was about to bound off the road again when it noticed her standing up the rise in the path and turned its head sharply. Her line of sight was suddenly filled with green eyes.
She grinned, instantly energized by a surprisingly powerful bolt of excitement and pleasure. It was cut off by another shout and a handful of noisy louts barreling through the woods after him. She turned her bow and the arrow slammed into the head of the first man out, pushing him back into the others. Green looked back and intelligently took the opportunity to disappear towards the ruins.
She fired another two off in succession and made off herself, using their startled confusion as cover. They hadn't seen that coming.
She slipped down along the lower wall of the ruin, keeping close to the cold stone. She could hear them clamoring around over head, loud enough to wake the dead. She could only hope they did, and were killed for it. She saw something move in the long grass.
"Muthsera" she whispered towards the movement. It stopped then shifted, coming towards her. She saw the glimmer of his eyes first. He slipped up next to her, as silent as death and crouched low against the wall. "You look like hell, Serjo." She murmured and touched his face gingerly noticing more than just the two injuries she had seen before.
He was in no condition to keep fighting like that. No wonder he was using plan B, 'run away.' He didn't look happy about it either.
"I saw three come out, are there more?" he nodded then used a claw to draw a line and an x in the soft sand around the base of the ruin. That was a lot. "I imagine you've already taken out your quota on top of that.." he nodded once.
He looked ready to drop. He needed a healer. 'Damn it, why couldn't she have been a healer?' She sighed morosely and looked around, trying to find an effective out. They were close to the water, and the ruin was directly across from the waterfront. She was a good swimmer, and he looked tired but strong enough..."look," she whispered in to his ear so they couldn't be overheard, not as if the shouting overhead would let the hunters overhear anything, "You're probably not keen on water, but I've got a little place, you can see it from here, and there's a back way right near the water...they might not even see us leave..."