The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – An Assassin, a Thief and the Dragonborn
We do not own Skyrim or any of the NPCs, Quests or game dialog. Delany is Nalledia's; Solän'cae (Sol-ahn-tchai) is Bajazzo's. This will be posted on both our accounts (so please, don't report them as plagiarism – it's a joint effort on our part, so I believe it's only fair that we both get to post this story, instead of only one or the other)
Enjoy and please review!
A/N: Fanfic collab between Nalledia and Bajazzo. It's a two POV story, one from a Khajiit's weird first-person, and the other from a Breton's first-person. Neither are Dragonborn, just to make it clear from the beginning. As this collaboration is only in the beginning phases, there is a chance that a third or even fourth POV may enter, to document two other characters (well, at least one will become rather prominent, but if that POV is to be included an A/N will make note of that;)) Hope you will enjoy this, beloved readers!
Chapter 1: A Chance Encounter
Solän'cae reached under the table, leaning back in this one's chair. The skooma was to the left, empty wine bottle to the right of my pack, beneath this one's feet. A quick glance around the inn – drunk Nords, smelly and loud, and busy fighting – they wouldn't notice this one's change in drinks, at least not until tomorrow. Solän'cae turned her ears to the bottles, listening to the trickle and chime of skooma flowing into her soon-full bottle. Ah, these Nords may love their meads and their soft highs, but they will never know the highs of skooma, the pure bliss… this one purred before she knew it happened, dropping her empty-skooma into her pack and lifting her full-wine-skooma to the table, watching the room for suspicious eyes on Solän'cae.
This one found none.
And she lifted the wine to her lips, breathing in the sweet, delicious smell of refined and distilled moon sugar. This one sipped, savoring the taste, sweet as sugar, fresh and cool as the moons on a summer night. Solän'cae is excited to be away from the scorching hot sands of her beloved homeland, Elsweyer. But mostly, this one loves her family there – her litter was large, and the family just as big, and always bigger. Solän'cae sighed. But Skyrim… Skyrim would be just as much of an adventure! There were the mountains, the white-floating-cold-rain, the Nords, the caravans…. The Dark Brotherhood. Or, that is what this one hears from the Imperial hairless-ones. There is one last chapter, one last group still alive and free from the death they deal out to others.
Solän'cae closed her eyes, breathing in my skooma-wine-smell. Ah, this was what this one lives for – the bliss, the happiness, travel. But this Khajiiti has used all her septims, and she has only enough for tonight at the inn and tomorrow's food. Either this one must steal and race her way across the border, or she must find work and coin to buy her way across the border. But that is tomorrow's problems – Solän'cae has never had bad luck before, and she has no doubt that she will be looked after by the Great Cats. This one takes another long sip of her skooma-wine-bottle.
Everything will fall into place, just as it should. As it always does for this one.
Tap and Tack, thank Dibella, I thought, bracing myself against the snow and wind of a cold Evening Star twilight. I had just made the evening curfew into the city of Bruma, and I intended to make the most of my stay by living cheaply and gaining… greatly. I hurried inside, the sudden warmth from the fire in one corner contrasting sharply with the biting cold outside. I shivered, pulling my cloak closer and tried to weave and shove my way to the bar where the innkeep was drying off a grimy-looking tankard. "I'd like a room, please," I said, leaning forwards on the bar. The old Nord looked me over briefly, then nodded, tossing the cloth over his shoulder and stowing the tankard beneath the counter. "That'll be ten septims, girl," he huffed. I nodded, fumbling with my coinpurse for a moment. I considered ordering food, but my eyes wandered over the rough common room for a moment too long – too many fights, and sitting at the bar wouldn't help avoid them. I brushed a few dark, stray hairs out of my eyes. "Room's last one on the right end of the hall," the innkeeper slid a key over the wooden counter, and pointed to the small passage leading down to the back of the inn. I nodded my thanks, then spied an almost-empty table with a Khajiit woman.
She was snowy-white, almost like the snow leopards that were sometimes killed in the region, and she was thoroughly enjoying a bottle of Surilie Brothers wine. I didn't know the vintage – didn't really care, either – but perhaps she could be convinced to have some Cyrodiilic Brandy I had managed to acquire from a rather wealthy merchant on his way to Cheydinhal from Kvatch or so, in exchange for company and perhaps a partner in crime. I don't think the merchant knew his brandy was missing, but that wasn't my problem. I grinned, and headed over to the Khajiit woman.
"Mind if I join you?" a young, hairless-one's voice broke through this one's happy thoughts. Solän'cae turned to look at the hairless-one-girl, then down at the bottle in her hands. "It's Cyrodiilic Brandy," the hairless-one explained. Blue eyes, like the skies or the dark ice in this land. Solän'cae smirked, then motioned with her snowy-white hand at the chair opposite this Khajiiti. The hairless-one opened the bottle, pouring a dark golden-brown into cups for us. The hairless-one pushed a cup to Solän'cae. This one raised the glass, sniffing the bitter, strong Imperial drink. Solän'cae's nose twitched and tingled.
Then she tasted.
And she sputtered, slamming the cup down. The hairless-one looked up in surprise. "Betterrrrrr," Solän'cae purred, holding out the bottle to the hairless-one. The girl raised a lonely bit of hair above her eye, then put down her cup of bitter alcohol and took the bottle. Then she tasted.
And her eyes went wide, and she smiled.
And Solän'cae laughed. Hard, good, sudden. Ah, this one realized it wasn't wine-wine-bottle, but skooma-wine-bottle.
"I'll agree," the hairless-one giggled, "this is better than the brandy!"
"Solän'cae knows this, she is glad you agree!"
"Sol'ahnsai? I'm Delany," the hairless-one grinned, drinking some more from this one's skooma.
Solän'cae frowned. This one thinks. "Solän'cae. May your roads lead you to warm sands," this one purred.
"Uhm… you too?" the hairless-one, Delany, giggled, frowning. "Solän'cae!" The hairless-one sneezed.
"Why? I just said your name. But bless you too!" Delany beamed, passing back the skooma.
Solän'cae grinned. I think I like this hairless-one, Delany. "Yes, this one likes that one…."
Things were fuzzy and sharp at the same time. I loved and hated the feeling – or was it a smell? A touch? Who cares! "So, this is the house of a Speaker for the Dark Brotherhood. Was, I think," I giggled, leaning heavily on a fluffy, warm white Khajiit. Warm… like milk, I giggled again, falling against the wooden door and fumbling for my lockpicks to get inside. Or fumbling at? I dropped them once, twice, and another few times before the door gave and I tripped over my feet, falling on my face into the house. Solän'cae mumbled something, then fell on me with a hiss.
I sniggered. She purred.
We finally untangled ourselves and Solän'cae closed the door. "Let's explooooore!" I sat up, waving my hands in a circle, my eyes wide. The Khajiit's face was suddenly right in front of mine, my eyes crossing to look at her. "Yesss…" she purred, drunk and high and stumbling gracefully. "Hail Sithis."
I hummed in reply, and we went through the cupboards, plateboards, dressers, undressers, end tables and start tables. We pulled on extravagant, hard metal hats with long wooden handles far too big for us, threw strange, hard round cloth at the walls and floors which shattered rather interestingly and silently in a loud way. Who would have thought cloth could shatter?
Finally we half-stumbled, half-tumbled into the basement, falling onto our backs next to an unlocked trap door, breathless from our fun. Solän'cae shifted, laying her head on my ribs and started purring softly. I couldn't help myself – I started stroking her head, the soft fur over her ears…. I was entranced.
This Khajiiti thought it was strange when the hairless-one started stroking my head. We do not stroke others' heads…. Perhaps it is normal for hairless-ones to stroke each other's heads? But it feels so nice, so soothing and the rhythm is good, gentle, soft. And Solän'cae is too happy, too lost in skooma-bliss to care too much. She purrs a little louder, and Delany giggles, like a little bird caught in a cage that sings in the sun. Solän'cae quite likes the sound, she thinks. Maybe not – it makes her want to catch the bird, chase it through the warm sun. but even that would be fun, and this one purrs, snuggling into the surprisingly-warm body of the hairless-one-Delany. Delany hummed, cradling my head and stroking softly. "So, do you wanna find 'em or som'ing?" she asked.
"Hhhmmmm? Does this one want to find who?"
Silence stretched and curled up again. "Who?"
"Who what?" Delany slurred.
"Who am I looking for?" Solän'cae reminded her.
"I dunno – ask'd you," she mumbled, lost in her skooma-bliss.
It was quiet. Then Delany snorted, and I hissed. We laughed, and laughed, shrieking and gasping, rolling around like newborn kittens. Solän'cae gasped for air, ready to answer. "Yes, this one–"
"By the order of the Count of Bruma, you are under arrest for trespassing and unlawful public appearance, and disturbing the peace!"
This one looked up, hissing. It was a Guard of the City, hand on his silver sword, ready to arrest us. "Huh, what? We're not – shit!"
The hairless-one swore loudly when this clever Khajiit ripped open the trap door, shoved her down and jumped after her, pulling the door down. "Run, Delany!" this one hissed, pulling her up and pricking the soft flesh of her arm and wrist.
"Ow! Ok, I'm coming!" she called, stumbling to keep up. How does one run without a tail? With difficulty, it seems.
We raced through the caves, finding a Black Door and ran over the broken remains. The corridors twisted and turned, the walls and floor black with fire-scars and frost-scars, and sword-cuts and arrow-stabs. We hid deep within the old, destroyed Sanctuary (because that is what this was – this much, Solän'cae knew about the Dark Brotherhood. She knew much, read and asked and listened to those who knew). This one felt safe within these walls…. Even Delany looked comfortable. But we would need to leave Bruma because of this.
"We need to leave Bruma after this," I said, feeling strangely clear-headed after we started running through the ruins of the Bruma Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. I felt comfortable in the caverns – after all, assassins and thieves are distant cousins, and we often needed the other to help with our own work. It was a mutually beneficial relationship – they needed to fence their goods sometimes, and get some illegal equipment, and we needed people to steal from. Mutually beneficial!
"This one knows that, but our things are locked in your room, yes?"
"Shit." I swore. "Yes, that's true…" I trailed. I could sneak back into the city and retrieve some of our things, but not everything.
My pack had food, two changes of clothes, my iron bow, a quiver of twenty iron arrows and a pathetic, abused (but useful) iron sword, and a fair amount of gold and contraband – the latter of which would earn me almost double what I now possessed, or a few weeks in jail, if my stash was discovered. I had at least two comparatively high-risk items in my pack. I had no idea what Solän'cae had in hers, but I suspected it would be similar to what I had, her 'contraband' being skooma instead of stolen goods.
"This one has no money to cross the border into Skyrim, where I am headed. There is another five bottles of skooma and this one's glass sword and bow-and-quiver in this one's pack. I cannot leave without them – they are too important to Solän'cae to leave behind."
I dropped my head into my hands. Small things were easy to hide, like gold and trinkets, but a full bow and sword? Challenging at best. "Challenge accepted," I murmured, raising my head to look at Solän'cae. "I'll go back tomorrow, and bring our things down here. There should be a second entrance, since we were in natural caverns before we came to this Sanctuary. We'll leave through the second entrance, and make our way to Skyrim. I'm headed there too – well, would have after I spent a week clearing out Bruma," I grinned sheepishly.
Solän'cae returned my grin with more surety. "Excellent! Then we shall leave for the Cold Lands tomorrow. Together."
Delany was fast – out and in and back again before this one knew it, and we left through a cave south of Bruma. This clever Khajiiti found the exit, and we went west around the city to the North. When we were finally North, some four days later, we saw a great, crumbling stone fortress. One look at the other and we already knew: we were going inside, to look and see what it was, and what was inside. Ah, this Solän'cae quite likes this hairless-one-Delany – she is a good thief, and a great friend so far.
When this one becomes an assassin, this one will need friends who run in less-dark circles – why not have friends this one actually likes and knows?