“Beginning the Descent”
Kyssandra spent most of the day in the carriage. She did not know what to expect from this place called Riften. Since her arrival in Skyrim, she had been hearing two recurring themes over and over, in the random conversations at the inns. One, there was some type of dragon attack at a place called Helgen, and two, Riften was the home of thieves, and one of the most dangerous cities in Skyrim. It was supposedly a place to avoid, if you were nice, honest, or upstanding. It was almost twilight by the time the carriage made it. No matter, it had given her time to rest. She got out of the carriage and looked back from where she had come. It was warmer here, but the views were no less beautiful.
As she approached the gates, a guard stopped her. He asked for a payment, to enter the city.
“Oh come on, now, I’m not going to pay to go in,” Kyssandra said, accompanying it with her best provocative look.
The guard grinned. “You got me,” He said, “go on in.”
It seemed too easy, but she headed inside the gates anyway.
Inside the city, she wandered around for a bit. Most of the vendors were already closed, or shutting their stores down for the eve. Kyssandra just explored the city, noting where everything was, randomly speaking to a few people, here and there. She found the local inn, The Bee and Barb, paid for a room for the night, and had a good meal. She surveyed the crowd. The inn here was bustling, like the one at Whiterun, but the crowd was again, different. Whiterun was full of leering, creepy people, Winterhold was empty, Windhelm’s crowd was flirty and nice, but this one…this inn was full of danger. It was just under the surface, but it was there. A feeling that one should be very careful and on guard here. There were the usual, mercenaries for hire, a priest looking for followers, various other riff raff, but there were a few very well dressed folk, obviously of a higher class. One girl standing by the stairway caught Kyssandra’s eye. She was not the most beautiful girl in the room, but something about her…Kyssandra’s thoughts wandered, and she blushed openly when she realized what direction those thoughts had taken. Their eyes met. Kyssandra decided to try to be bold and see what would happen, so she approached the girl, and shyly attempted to start a conversation. The girl wanted nothing to do with her, and basically told her to get out of her face.
Kyssandra headed back out into the streets. That had been much easier last night, after a couple drinks. oh well. Bored, she wandered around for a bit longer, aimlessly striking up conversations with anyone that would talk, and admiring the moonrise.
It was not long before a man approached her, and asked her if she had any interest in joining the local thieves guild. Umm…no, she replied, jokingly, she was not very good at being stealthy or stealing. She asked him, why her? His reply was that it was standard procedure to ask anyone who did not pay to enter the city, and recognized the guard’s attempt at a shakedown for what it was. Those who paid up without question to enter, were not thieves guild material. But since she had passed that test, she was welcome to try the next. It would involve a simple robbery and frame job, and if she was up to it, she could seek him out in the marketplace during the day. Then he vanished into the shadows.
Another particular fellow had an interesting request. His name was Louis Letrush, or something like that. He had bought a horse from another guy named Sibbi Black Briar. Apparently the Black Briars were the influential family in this town. But Sibbi was in jail now, and Louis wanted the horse. Of course, Louis could not go visit Sibbi in jail, because Louis himself had a slight bounty, and he was afraid if he went in the jail openly, they would just keep him. He just needed someone to go talk to Sibbi and complete the deal for the horse, as he had already paid half the money down. Sure, Kyssandra thought, that seems easy enough, I can do that and earn a few more gold.
After wandering the whole town it seemed, Kyssandra suddenly found the building she had been unknowingly searching for. She had not realized it until she saw the sign. She had almost forgotten, and had thought she had just been walking around in a state of pure boredom. But here it was. Honorhall Orphanage. It was real. This is the orphanage that the kid had wanted her to go to, and kill the headmistress. Oh well, may as well see what the place is like, she thought.
Inside, it seemed ok at first. There were kids running everywhere. The headmistress was pretty, and very nice to the children. She didn’t seem to be mean at all from what Kyssandra could tell. Then, an older hag of a woman came from the back, and told the children, whom she openly called by unsavory terms, that it was time for bed. She was, in fact, downright nasty to them. THAT, Kyssandra thought, must be the headmistress.
Eying Kyssandra, Grunhilda, or whatever her name was, asked, “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
Everyone got quiet.
“I…um…I was just…”
“She’s a friend of mine!” one of the children exclaimed suddenly. “She came for a visit!”
“Yes, thats what I-”
“Visiting hours are over! Its time for these runts to go to bed!” Goonhilda shouted.
“May I just have a few more minutes?” Kyssandra asked, as nice as she could.
“Make it quick! Then leave!”
Kyssandra thanked the boy. He obliged. “Lady, I got no idea what you are here for, but if it goes against what the headmistress wants, then I’m all for helping you.” He grinned widely. Kyssandra asked him what he thought of the headmistress, and about why he was there. She proceeded to discreetly talk to all the children asking them all what their opinions were, and getting a little insight into their lives there. It was all the same. The headmistress was a mean, mean woman, mistreating the children constantly, and getting away with it, because no one cared in this city. Kyssandra spoke to the pretty assistant lady, who introduced herself as Constance, or something like that, and she confirmed it. While they were getting the children ready for bed, Kyssandra poked around the orphanage. In one room, she found shackles, bolted to the walls. This was far beyond mistreatment, this was abuse. Kyssandra made her decision that she was going to help the boy that sent her here, and make good on her promise to him.
She headed back to the inn. Along the way, she almost fell over a poor fellow on a bench. At first she thought him a beggar, but then realized he was dressed slightly better, he was a worker of some sort, and was upset. Kyssandra could not resist, she asked him what was wrong. Turned out, he was a stable hand, and had somehow lost money to a thief, and couldn’t afford to pay up. But as Kyssandra listened to his story, she realized that this was simply another shakedown, like the guard at the gate. But it sounded like the thief was trying to double dip, collect what the fellow owed, and then more for themself. When the stable hand described the thief, she recognized her as the girl in the inn by the stairway, that had brushed her off. Kyssandra told the fellow she would see if she could do something about his debt, but it was mainly just to get away from his whining. She had but one thought now. She went to inn, straight up to her room, and got in bed.
It was about 2am. Kyssandra had slept, but only in naps. She was afraid of falling asleep the entire night. There were people still at the inn, but not as many. Kyssandra got up, and donned her black and red dark brotherhood armor. She also put on a black wolf skin cape she had looted off someone. She picked up her iron dagger she made, and the only other physical weapon she had, the iron family scimitar she had brought to Skyrim with her. She may not be a dark assassin, but she was going to at least look the part. She slipped down the stairs, out the back door, and through the dark alleys, until she arrived at the orphanage.
Inside the orphanage, all was quiet. Everyone was asleep. She crept, as quietly as she could, to the headmistress’s room. She managed to somehow get in, without being heard. She stood, looking down at the sleeping woman. She drew her scimitar. Suddenly, things felt very awkward. To be standing over a sleeping person, good or bad, with a drawn weapon at the ready, felt very strange. What was she supposed to do now? Every enemy she had faced so far had attacked her first, she had reacted in fear, and with adrenaline. How do you kill someone like this, in cold blood? What was she supposed to do?
Don’t think…don’t think…don’t think…just do it…just do it…just do it…just do something…just do-
Kyssandra stuck her scimitar in the old woman’s throat.
There was suddenly a lot of commotion, all at once. The body thrashed around a bit, Kyssandra herself slipped, and fell off the bed, and a vase, or something, fell off a nearby night table. People started waking up. She could hear the the children. Kyssandra picked herself up off the floor hurriedly and half stumbled back into a dark corner of the room. Kids were now coming in the room. Someone was screaming. It was Constance, the assistant. She was actually pleading for mercy, for herself and the children. There was no getting out of this without being seen. Kyssandra pulled the hood of her cloak as low as she could around her head, hopefully hiding her features, and ominously stepped out of the shadows. The room grew so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Constance started pleading for mercy again.
Masking her voice as best she could, and trying for her best ominous tone, she said, “Don’t be afraid. I am done here.” With that, keeping her head down, she slowly and deliberately walked between them, and out the door.
Kyssandra made her way back across town. Well that did not go as planned. As she had exited the orphanage, she had heard a million conversations erupt. “Wow, that was the Dark Brotherhood!!” “They do exist!!” “Altenus told us he was going to summon them, before he ran away!!!” “They are supposed to be a myth!!” “Did you see her armor? Cool!!!” She was relatively sure that several of the children, and probably Constance the assistant, recognized her from questioning them earlier, even with the hood pulled down. This dark brotherhood was probably not going to be very happy with her at all, now. She would probably be getting a visit from them soon.
By the time Kyssandra got back to the inn, she was shaking. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling. It probably should have been disgust, or regret, but it was not. It was more of an excitement, or a form of desire. They say power is an aphrodisiac, and she had just tasted it in one of its rawest forms. She needed more. As she walked in the front door, she was suddenly aware of three things. She had forgotten to come in the back way. There were more patrons in the inn than she would have guessed at this hour. The conversation ceased as she walked through the common room, and every eye was on her. There, at the stairway, was the thief girl. This must be her post. As she looked at Kyssandra, her eyes widened. A barmaid ran over to where Kyssandra had walked, and began mopping the floor. Kyssandra stopped before the thief girl at the stairs, suddenly confident, a supremely different person than the shy girl from earlier. “You are going to follow me up to my room, and stay with me tonight…and you are going to forgive the stable worker of his debt to you.” “Anything you wish,” the thief whispered, huskily. Kyssandra started up the stairs. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the bar maid following, feverishly mopping the floor behind her. She then realized that in her excitement, she had never sheathed her scimitar. She was still carrying it openly, point down, and it was still dripping blood.
The next morning, Kyssandra awoke, refreshed and exhilarated. The thief girl, Sapphire, she had learned was her name, was already up and back at her station at the bottom of the stairs. She just nodded with a knowing look, as Kyssandra went to find some breakfast. She was introduced to some of the nobles of Riften that she had heard of, the famed Maven Black-Briar. She went outside and visited some of the vendors, now open for the day. At one of the potion shops, she found a recipe and tried it. Alchemy seemed interesting, she had always liked to cook, in a addition to her fondness for riding horses. Oh yeah, she thought, Horses! Before she left to go back to the college, she should head over the jail, and see that fellow Sibbi, about the horse deal. It was a few extra easy gold she could make.
By this time, it had come another rainstorm. It was not blindingly pouring, like in Whiterun, but it was enough to be annoying, and cold. She found her way to the city’s main hall, and finally, the jail. The jail was supposed to be off limits to citizens, but using her looks, and a bit more, she convinced the guard to let her in. Once inside, she questioned her decision. This prison was many times rougher than the one in Whiterun. Horrifying and disgusting things were going on in here, yet she was intrigued, and could not keep herself from taking a personal tour. She realized the danger, the way the guards were looking at her, so she kept moving, feigning confidence and purpose.
Kyssandra finally found Sibbi Black Briar, in a luxurious cell, with a woman no less. He seemed to be an arrogant prick, who thought he was Skyrim’s gift to women. She spoke to him, and told him Louis had sent her, to finish the deal, regarding the horse. “Oh! Yes,” he remembered, “Frost. Well, the problem is, I’m in here, and both the ownership papers and Frost, are up at the Black Briar lodge, just out of the city. So you will either have to go convince Maven to let me out of here, or go steal the horse and the papers from the lodge.” Sibbi grinned.
Kyssandra went back to the inn, and found the woman named Maven, that she had been introduced to. She explained the situation to her. Maven listened, and thought for a moment. Then, oddly, she told Kyssandra to just go ahead and go steal the horse, and the papers if she wanted. “I won’t send anyone specifically after you,” Maven said, “but you will have to get by whoever is up at the lodge right now. Sibbi needs to stay where he is, and I don’t want to be bothered with this. If you can go take care of this, and get this Louis guy off our back, then go ahead.”
Kyssandra thought this sounded very odd, but whatever. She effectively had the blessing of the owner of a lodge, to go steal a horse from the lodge. She headed out of town, to where they had marked it on her map. It was still pouring rain, and she was miserably cold, before she even got halfway there. Along the way, she realized what was going on. If she succeeded, the situation would be resolved on its own, without the Black Briars having to be involved, or get their name sullied. If she failed, no one would be the wiser, and she would be joining Sibbi, most likely. By the time she reached the lodge, she was drenched.
There were guards all around the lodge, so Kyssandra made her way up the hill, and around back. Another guard back there noticed her. She attempted to talk, but he would have nothing of it. Shrugging, Kyssandra cast her atronarch, and let it do its work. She had upgraded the spell, while learning from the court wizard in Windhelm, and this atronarch was a bit more powerful than the one she had been summoning. It was not long before she had killed all the guards, both outside, and inside the house. She shrugged, feeling nothing. Killing was easier than sneaking around.
A thorough search of the lodge yielded the papers to the horse. With all these dead guards laying around, she thought she may as well help herself to any gold, or anything valuable on their persons. Then she realized she was all alone up here. There was nothing stopping her from helping herself to anything in the entire house. She doubted that was what Maven had in mind, when she had given her the blessing. She didn’t care. She searched the place from top to bottom, taking what she wanted. She even had a decent lunch. Finally she went outside, and found the horse, Frost, in the stable. This horse seemed to have a good demeanor, and she liked it.
She headed out to where she was supposed to meet Louis, trotting, admiring scenery along the way. It was still raining heavily, but at least she wasn’t on foot this time, trudging through a muddy path, so it didn’t seem quite as bad.
After a while, Kyssandra found the prescribed meeting place, where Louis was waiting expectantly. It was pretty far out in the forest. She was now soaked again, the warmth from the lodge was gone. She began to wish that she had just rode the horse on to town, and kept it. Perhaps she could broker a deal for the horse, instead of payment.
“Got your horse, and the ownership papers,” she said.
“Good job, here is the other half of the money that was promised,” Louis said, taking the papers.
“Actually,” Kyssandra said, trying to figure out which would be the best form of persuasion for this fellow, “I’d like to keep the horse.”
“Nope, sorry, I want it.” Louis stated flatly, as he mounted the horse, and turned to trot away.
“Wait a minute…” Kyssandra said, her brow furrowing, “What am I supposed to do? Its pouring down rain, and I’m even further away from the town than I was at the lodge!”
“I don’t care what you do” Louis shouted, as he rode away.
The realization hit suddenly that she had just been left stranded, out in a dark forest full of who knows what, in a pouring rainstorm. Kyssandra didn’t want to cast the atronarch, because she didn’t know yet how to make it attack something that wasn’t already attacking her. She had a few direct offensive spells she had purchased, but with no practice, Louis would be well out of range before she could ready them. So she ran after him, splashing through the forest, shouting at him in anger.
After running for a few minutes, already out of breath, she heard a commotion up ahead. Breaking through a couple bushes and trees, Kyssandra came upon Louis, off the horse, fighting some wolves and giant spiders.
“Help me!,” he cried, as he spotted her.
“Yeah, right, like Oblivion I will!” She shot back.
Kyssandra ran straight towards the horse, jumped on it, and expertly rode away, laughing as she heard Louis’ shouts of anguish fade behind her.
She rode the horse back to the town, to the stable, outside the gates. She asked one of the stable hands to put the horse in the stable for a few, while she went into town. “Sure,” he said, just let me see your ownership papers. “ummmm…” Louis still had the papers… The stable hand gave her a smirk, and headed over towards one of the guards.
“Need a ride?” a voice behind her said.
Kyssandra turned to see the carriage driver, who had been watching.
“Huh? Where do your routes go?” she asked.
“Does it matter?” the driver nodded to the stable hand talking to the guard, both of them looking her way. “That horse you rode up on is known, its one of the Black Briar horses. You don’t produce any ownership papers, and they are gonna know you stole it. He’s over there right now, putting a bounty on you. He’ll get 50 gold, at least for turning you in. Riften jail ain’t a nice place to be, specially for a pretty girl like yourself. I figure you got about 30 seconds at most, to hop in my carriage and we can be on our way out of here…”