Kyssandra's Skyrim Adventures

Post Edit: What started out as a thread to just keep track of, and share the adventures and misadventures of my latest Skyrim character has turned into a full fledged story. This is what roleplaying is, if you have ever wondered. All the events happen in game, as a result of the choices I make in game. I then just take what has happened, and make it into a readable, believable story. But it all starts with playing the game, and making your own choices, based on the personality of your character.

If you have any questions, comments, about anything, feel free to comment in the related discussion thread, located, here.

This is the thread’s Original Introductory Post. The story proper actually starts with the next post

I love single player open world roleplaying games. I am an explorer. So I could probably end up having a topic like this for all my roleplaying games to record my characters’ adventures, woes and other funny stuff.

I have started up a new Skyrim adventure last night. I had been working on a game with mods and one of the things I like to include is full immersion. Basically, slow down the time scale, and make your character have to eat and sleep, or get debuffed, or worse. iNeed is the mod I choose, because it seemed to do a good job at this. But I also used a mod called Frostfall, which tracks your character, what they have on for protection, and the weather and location. This one introduces hypothermia and freezing to death, if you don’t protect against the cold climates in Skyrim.

And, I used alternate start. Because once you’ve gone through the main quest line, you don’t need to make another dragonborn that starts the exact same way every time.

So the one I picked was to have the character arrive in Skyrim by ship, at a port of my choice, as just an average character. I decide this character is a Breton girl from High Rock, who has discovered that she has magic powers, so her family put her on a boat and sent her to Skyrim, to the famed College of Winterhold . (which I also used the Immersive mod to totally revamp that, make it have more realistic training and entry requirements)

The closest port to the College was Dawnstar, so thats where I picked for her to get off the ship at. I figure, her plan is to get off the boat, use what little gold she had to buy a cloak to protect against the weather, and use the rest of the money to buy transport on a carriage from there to the mage College.

First, ok she gets off the boat, and starts exploring the town. Starting a new character, after not playing for a while, its surprisingly hard to find the vendor and the inn! Apparently she didn’t think to bring a cloak with her, so her clothes offered very little protection from the harsh cold climate. It was actually pretty realistic, having to run over to the blacksmith’s forge just to get her warm enough to keep exploring the town. Finally, she finds the vendors. Even though I had installed Cloaks of Skyrim, knowing I would need this for Frostfall, apparently no vendors in Dawnstar, the northernmost town in Skyrim, sell warm cloaks!!

Well, maybe she can get the carriage ride to Winterhold. She goes to the town gate…and the carriage is not there. Ol’ Polekatt, who made this version of the world, installed the immersive mod, Touring carriages. So instead of the carriages being there all the time for fast travel, now they just go back and forth, and you have to actually ride on them, and wait for them to get there, if they are in the middle of the trip.

Ok, so plan B. Can’t do any quests, or anything much, because she is level one, and has no skills. The only skill she has is the one spell that she accidentally figured out she had, that got her sent to the College, Cast Weak Flame Atronarch. So lets just start down the path, and see how far we get. Not far along, she finds three wolves. The wolves attack, and being way too strong, they chase her back to the town gate. Remember, I’m playing full on immersion and roleplaying, trying to play by rules of the character, and this girl would have no idea how to use a sword well enough to fight three wolves. So she does the only thing she knows, and uses that spell and conjures a pet flame atronarch. Back to the wolves. Well, the flame atronarch does actually kill the three wolves. Hey, maybe if you conjure a flame atronarch, you can stand close enough to it to get the heat benefit and not freeze to death, and just walk the path the whole way. Can’t really tell if that is working or not, and the weak flame atronarch does not last long at all. But she keeps walking. Standing close to the flame atronarch doesn’t seem to be working, as she is getting slowly colder and colder.

Hey, there is a big bonfire over there! She runs over to it, because she can warm herself back to warm temperature near it, like the blacksmiths forge. Whats that? Where there is a bonfire, there is something that had to have made that fire. Oh wait. thats not a bonfire, thats a giant’s campfire. There is some huge commotion going on, on the other side of the camp. The giant seems to be fighting something over there. Our girl warms herself as much as she feels comfortable by the fire, then high tails it out of there, when it sounds like the giant beats whatever it was fighting.

Back on the path, a man approaches. Maybe he is a traveling vendor and has a cloak for sale. Oh crap, I think he is a brigand, he just starts attacking. Cast flame atronarch! Well, apparently you can’t cast spells while getting hit with a sword. Black out, is this death? No! its another mod, a death alternative mod, which makes random things happen instead of character death. This time, a passerby apparently finds our girl and takes her back to an inn. Fade in, which inn are we at. This looks familiar. We are back at Dawnstar.

ok, what to do, what to do. Walking around town, thinking… oh! look, the carriage is here! It is now 3pm in the afternoon. Wonder if she can ride the carriage to Winterhold and get there before night time, because it will definitely get colder at night. Well, its 50 gold, and she has that much, so may as well try.

She hops in the back of the carriage, and he takes off. This is actually pretty cool. Its very scenic, and along the way the carriage driver comments on things he passes. But its still cold. Apparently, if you run and can freeze to death, being in the back of an open wagon doesn’t offer any additional heat. So its a race against time, will the carriage get to Winterhold before she freezes to death? Not sure how much longer it will take, as you can’t cast, or open maps, or inventory while riding. A message pops up, that your character’s uncovered head is freezing and death may be imminent. Hey look over there, there is an inn!! There has got to be a way to tell the driver to stop and let you out. I think I read that in the mod description. No key is doing that. Mashing more keys. The inn goes by, and goes away. Is there no way to stop this carriage or jump out? And…she is dead, fade to black. Fade in, (because we have an alternative, maybe a passerby found her and took her to that inn!),

Nope, I’m not sure where she is, its a barren landscape, with a weird color, and nothing in sight anywhere. The graphics appear messed up. The game has either glitched, or we are in one of these weird Bethesda dream world quests that they do from time to time. Time to reload and start again. Maybe next time without Frostfall enabled.

Ok, be honest, does anyone enjoy reading anything like this? This is honestly what I was hoping to do with a fan page, but I could not figure out how to do it properly with status messages and make it flow correctly. It really lends itself more to an environment like this, with forum posts, where you could have a post for each game, or character, and just make an ongoing story. For me, I enjoy this, making a character, playing it in these open world games, and then writing down the adventure, making a story out of it.

  • After several days of tweaking, I finally got all the mods (at least the ones that have kicked in so far!) working to my satisfaction. Frostfall is bumped waaaay down. Plus several other mods have been adjusted, so that now I can have a realistic, immersive experience, without it being so difficult that it is no longer fun *

Chapter 1


Kyssandra Bright-Sun awoke on the boat just as it arrived in the town of Dawnstar. She was a young Breton girl from Daggerfall, in High Rock. She had accidentally discovered that she could cast a spell, summoning a small pet flame atronarch, so she was determined to go to the famed College of Winterhold, in Skyrim. Her family was against it. Skyrim was rumored to be a harsh place; unbearably cold winters with a misogynistic culture, filled with bandits, thieves, and all sorts of monsters, and certainly no place for young girl on her own. Kyssandra did not listen. She was determined to go, so one morning she set off without telling anyone, and booked passage on a boat to Dawnstar, the closest town she could find to the College. After paying for the trip, she had nothing but 199 gold, her clothes, and some food.
She had just woke up, with a feeling of deju vu. She had the strangest of dreams, that things did not go very well.

Luckily, her dream did not come true. She did not freeze to death, nor was she attacked by wolves. The guards were not very nice, and most people warned her that this was not a nice place, but other than that, her day was rather uneventful. She explored around the town, managed to by a water skin and jug of milk to quench her thirst, and a recipe for a cure disease potion at the alchemy shop. Around 4pm, the carriage arrived, and she paid the driver 50 gold to take her to Winterhold.

Upon arrival, some wolves following the carriage did attack, but the guards quickly came running and slaughtered them. It was now about 6:30, and she was pretty fatigued after a long day of traveling, so she decided to just go look at the College, but would try to get a room and start fresh in the morning to gain admittance.

*The mod Touring carriages, after I got it working where she wouldn’t freeze to death on it, is AWESOME. much more than I expected. In Bethesda games, when you fast travel, you fade out, and back in where you are going. Or you just run there, which is dangerous. With Touring Carriages, you actually ride the carriage to your destination, and just sit there and enjoy the beauty of Skyrim in peace. And by the way, ArsonSami , you can’t have this girl as your Skyrim girlfriend either!!! * :wink:

Sgt_T8ie hope you enjoy!


Chapter 2

“Entry Requirements”

Kyssandra woke up refreshed and ready to go. The night before, she had went and had a look at the College of Winterhold. As she would have expected, there was someone at the gate, so you could not walk right in. Since it was late, and she was tired, she opted to just wander around the town, and get to know where things were. That took all of about 5 minutes. Of interest though, was a lot of ruins, almost half the town it appeared, had collapsed and fallen down towards the sea. She poked around the ruins until she was cold, then went back to the inn, where she had a decent supper, and rented a room for the night. The only other guest there was a mysterious man, who claimed to be a mage, but did not appear to want to talk about it. When asked about the College, he was evasive. Since he did not appear very nice, Kyssandra kept her distance.

So now, she had eaten a good breakfast, and cheerfully headed up to the College. The same woman was there standing guard. Bascally, the woman announced, only people who actually had magical abilities, were admitted. Kyssandra was not worried, as she knew she could cast her spell at will. She had practiced it, thinking some show of magic would indeed be required. The woman questioned Kyssandra, and when it was apparent that she was an aspiring student, WITH magic, she asked another question, regarding what type of magic she was interested in. Kyssandra had no idea what school of magic summoning a flame atronarch was from, so she picked the option to bend the physical world to her will. Yeah, that sounded fun! The woman then told her, that she had picked alteration, so she would sell her one basic alteration spell of her choice, for 30 gold, and if she could learn it and cast it for her on the spot, then she could pass.

Kyssandra only had 32 gold. This would take all she had left. But…if it got her in, then surely they would take care of her here, right? She purchased Magelight, a spell where you could make a ball of light. She read over it, absorbed the words, and then tried casting it, in the same way she summoned the atronarchy. It worked!! The woman seemed pleased, and told Kyssandra to follow her, up to the College.

About halfway up, the woman left her on her on for the rest of the way. She told her to go find Mirabella, (or something like that) who would be her trainer. Kyssandra looked around. The view was magnificient. She was going to be so happy here!

Kyssandra headed on up to the main entrance. She was stopped short by a man, who called himself,…Joran, (or something like that) Kyssandra was terrible with names.

"Who are you and what do you want? ", he asked.
“I’m Kyssandra! I’m a new student here. I’m supposed to find Mirabel, or Marybell, or something like that”, she said.
“No, you aren’t, I’m the person you need to see. I’m the instructor for the apprentice mages. So you passed the test to get up there then, all you have to do now is to pay me for your first semester and books, and we will get you started right up.”
“paaaaay? um… there’s a fee???”, Kyssandra stammered.
“Well, you didn’t think the College ran on magic alone did you?” he said, “well, actually it does… BUT!! yes, every student has to pay tuition. Its 1000 gold per semester. paid to me. So, pay up!”
Kyssandra could not believe it. “I…I… don’t have that kind of money…”
“Well,” the man sneered, “I suggest you find it. Or go back to whatever hovel you came from, and be a servant girl at the inn”

Kyssandra walked away in total defeat. She had no idea that there was a tuition, and that it would be so much. Where in the world was she going to get 1000 gold. She couldn’t do anything of use. She liked magic, history, and books, and that was it. She had never farmed, waited tables, or anything like that. As she went back across the crumbling bridge, she thought that she may as well just jump off.

No, she would persevere. She would find a way. She would get that money, somehow. She went back to the town. She spoke to a couple people, and asked if there was work to be found. There was nothing in town to do. The Jarl was the only one that offered her money, if she would go to some cave, and retrieve some town heirloom. He marked the location on her map. Can’t be too hard she thought, just going into a cave. She looked at her map, after she got back out on the street. The cave was halfway between here and Dawnstar, but not on the path, it was through the wilderness.

Oh well, she thought, I can’t sit here forever, and I have to at least eat, so may as well try it. She headed out of town, on the path that lead to the distant cave. Not very far at all away, she heard a howl. She saw the wolves coming at her. In a desperate attempt to do “something”, she cast her flame atronarch spell. She was as surprised as the wolves were, when it succeeded, and the atronarch started attacking the wolves. She stood back, and watched as the atronarch killed the wolves. She wasn’t that far out of town, and she had heard stories of trappers that skinned animals and sold their pelts for money. So she took the iron scimitar that she had took from her family home, and used it as best she could to shed the dead wolves of their pelts. She lugged all three wolf pelts back to town, to the vendors there. She asked how much she could get for them, she had three. “I’ll give you one gold apiece, for wolf pelts”, the vendor replied.

One…gold. one. Kyssandra sighed. She sat down on the steps to think. How was she going to come up with 1000 gold?


Chapter 3

“Testing the Water”

Kyssandra moped around for a little while, before finally realizing there was nothing, absolutely nothing she could do, other than head out of town by foot. She didn’t even have enough for a carriage ride, and she could think of nothing to do in this town that would give her any money. If she froze to death or got eaten by wolves, so be it. At least she wasn’t sitting here starving.

If she was going to somewhere, she figured she may as well try again to make it to that cave, and retrieve that helm the Jarl wanted. Her atronarch had actually beaten the wolves, she had just come back. But, she was already hungry, and it was going to be a good ways. She had better have some food. She sighed. Only one thing she could think of.

Kyssandra crept around behind the inn, to the storage door she had noticed while exploring. She went inside, and saw all of the inn’s food stores. Her belly growled again. She opened a barrel, and it was full of clams and salmons. Without thinking, she ate till she was full. There were bottles of wine on the shelf, so she drank that to quench her thirst. If she thought about this too long, she wouldn’t go through with it. She picked up as much food and wine as she could carry and hurried outside.

She literally ran to the path towards the caves, hoping no one would see her, or notice the food she had. She followed the path up the hill, past where she had fought…or rather, her atronarch, had fought the wolves. Headed back down the other side, she became very cautious, ready to cast her summon spell the instant she saw something. There! out of the corner of her eye! She saw men. She was preparing her spell, ready to cast it, even though in her heart she knew she was in trouble, because there were 5-10 bandits, or whatever they were.

Kyssandra paused. No, no, these people were not coming after her, they were fighting each other! Deciding that it was best not to go down there, she hid behind a boulder and watched. Finally, what appeared to be one side, won, with 3 left standing. They came up the hill towards her. She peered out, afraid, spell ready. These men were not dressed like bandits, they had armor on.

“All hail Ulfric Stormcloak!” one of them shouted, “are you with us or against us!?!”
“uhhhhh, with you?” Kyssandra replied meekly.
“Good! Carry on then!” the soldier replied, and they left.

Kyssandra looked around. She had no idea what just happened. There were about 5-6 dead bodies on the ground, blood pooling in the snow. She realized there were two different sets of armor, so this must have been a battle of some sort between warring tribes. She looked at the armor, the weapons laying around, the nice fur cloak that one was wearin- Then it hit her. These people didn’t need their armor any more. They didn’t need their weapons. And she could certainly use that nice fur cloak! She had heard many times of solders and others looting the dead, after a battle. She was in the middle of nowhere, and no one obviously cared anything about these bodies. She started gathering, and picked up all she could possibly carry. She left only their clothes, because that would have been rude, and what was just plain too heavy for her to carry.

She made her way back to town. It took quite a while, because of all the heavy things she was attempting to carry. Hmm, who would buy this stuff, she thought… She went to the woman up at the college gate. Nope, she only dealt in magic items. The general store vendor didn’t want any of it. As she walked up the steps to the inn, a strange man sat there on the bench.

“Hey girl, come here”
“What do you want?” Kyssandra asked.
“I want you to steal something for me.”
“Whaa-? I- I- don’t…”
“Don’t lie to me,” he said. " I saw you steal the food from the inn before you headed out. And here you come back with a load of weapons that I KNOW you didn’t just go out and have fall out of the sky on you."
“No buts. There is a wizard in there, in that inn. I work for the Jarl, and we want his staff. Its valuable. But I can’t take it because if I get caught, then people know who I am, and the Jarl looks bad. You get that staff for me, and I might make it worth your time. You don’t, and I’ll tell the innkeeper you stole his food. I bet the food in jail is not as good.”
"I’ll do what I can, " Kyssandra sighed, and went into the inn, out of the biting cold.

The innkeeper did not want to buy any of the weapons either. Nor did the mysterious mage staying at the inn. She glanced around his room, while talking to him, but did not see a staff. So she had all this stuff, but no one in town would buy it. The mage told her that she would have better luck in one of the bigger cities, one with a blacksmith. Kyssandra told him of her plight, that she didn’t have enough money to afford a carriage ride out of town. “Tell you what,” he said, “I’ll give you 50 gold for your gold earrings.” Kyssandra didn’t want to part with her earrings, but it was her only choice. She took the gold and headed out into the street, where the carriage was waiting. The man that wanted her to steal the staff was nowhere to be seen, so she paid the carriage driver and told him to take her to Whiterun. That was apparently the capital city. Surely, in the biggest city in Skyrim, she could do better than this.

It was late when she got to Whiterun. It was starting to get dark. She hopped out of the carriage and headed up to where the driver had told her the main gate was. As she walked up the hill, she started to get a bad feeling. a very bad feeling. There were naked bodies, skewered on pikes, everywhere. What kind of a place was this? She continued on, through the gate. As she went into town, she looked around. The very first shop she found was a blacksmith, and he was still open. She went in, introduced herself, and as all others, he was not very nice. A girl came up to her, and introduced herself, as the blacksmith’s daughter, and asked if she could help her.

“Well, I have all this stuff, I …found…and …”
The blacksmith’s daughter gave her a knowing look.
“Don’t worry about it sweetie, there’s a civil war going on, we get this all the time. We will take all the weapons and armor we can get, and either resell it for more, or melt it down and make something new.”

She looked through Kyssandra’s stuff, and offerred 320 gold, for all of it. Kyssandra took it without even batting an eye. She had just made 1/3 of her tuition! She was elated. The blacksmith’s daughter then offered to teach her some rudimentary skills in smithing. Kyssandra accepted. It couldn’t hurt. It might help her, if she could actually do something. She found that she was not very good at smithing at all. But she made an ugly iron dagger.

Kyssandra finally decided to go find an inn and get some rest. She wandered around town, in the darkness, for what seemed a long time, before she finally found the inn. She had gotten really uncomfortable wandering around town in the dark. Inside the inn, things were bustling. There were more people inside this in, than there were in all of the towns she had been to so far, it seemed! She went to the bar, and paid for a room, and some food. She sat a table, eating her late supper, and listening to the bard play, with everyone else. Suddenly, she began to feel uneasy again. She felt people staring at her. No, they were leering. Especially the men.

Kyssandra hurriedly finished her meal, and went upstairs to her room.


Chapter 4

“One foot In”

Kyssandra tried going back downstairs to listen to the bard. She got the same bad feeling. She had been told over and over again now that Skyrim was not a safe place, specifically for a young woman like her. And several times, she had been told that the inns, after dark, were not safe for young women, unless you were working, “working”, or could defend yourself. The other inn simply did not have anyone there, except for one strange mage and the family that ran it. But this one, full to the brim of people, had started making her finally believe what she had been told. She retreated to her upstairs room, listened to the music from there, and finally fell asleep.

The next morning, she woke up and had breakfast, and set out, refreshed. The main marketplace was not open yet, so she visited the blacksmith’s shop first, to see if she could learn more. If she could make daggers or something like that, maybe she could sell them. The girl worked with her on teaching her to sharpen her new dagger. It did not go well, she never could get a good edge on it. “I’m sorry,” the girl said, “you just need to work more on your skill before I can teach you anything else. Things like this do not come overnight.” Kyssandra did not really enjoy blacksmithing anyway. She liked reading, history, and magic.

Now that the market was open, the city was bustling. Kysanndra visited vendor after vendor, looking for anyone that would give her some work that she could do. She had basically sold everything she had looted, that was of value.
A couple vendors did give her various tasks that they would pay for, but most of it, she just did not feel comfortable with, as it was the same as the Jarl’s task in Winterhold. They involved going somewhere that seemed dangerous and retrieving something for the vendor to sell. Which was why the vendors did not do it themselves.

One particular older lady, realizing Kyssandra was not from the city, said she had a task. She asked Kyssandra to follow her to her house, as it needed to be discussed privately. Kyssandra got distracted along the way, and when she looked up, the woman was gone. “Who was that lady I spoke to?” she asked a nearby vendor. After being told that the lady was of the Gray-Mane family, Kyssandra then scoured the city, looking for a house that belonged this family name.

Kyssandra ended up in a place called the Companions. There was a brawl going on. After talking to a few people there, she decided this was some type of fighters guild. Nope, this was not for her. She ended up at another blacksmith’s shop, way up on a hill, called the Skyforge. It was beautiful, but she had already decided blacksmithing wasn’t for her. She ended up at the main capital building, apparently called Dragonreach. You could see for miles from up here! She ended up at a weird place with…oh wait, this must be the cemetery. Just a ways from the cemetery, there was a big house, and she started towards it. Outside the house was a…a body…a dead naked body…held up to four poles, by chains to its wrist and ankles…only one leg and one arm were already severed… She retched and hurried away.

After looking at every house in the district, some of them twice, she finally found one labeled Gray-Mane. She knocked and went inside. “who is this?!” a big nordic man shouted. “Its ok, I asked her to come and help us,” the older lady appeared and said. “Thank you for coming dear.” Kyssandra halfway listened to the story, as the lady and man went back and forth. Apparently they were some rich patriarchs of the city. The other main family, the Battle-Borns, had kidnapped the man’s brother, the older woman’s son, and was holding him somewhere. It all had to do with this civil war going on. That was all that Kyssanrda got out of it, until they announced that they wanted her to sneak into the Battle-Born’s house and look for clues that this man was still alive, and where he may be held.
“Wait, wha-? Me? Why Me?” Kyssandra asked.
“Because everyone here knows each other, and you are new here. No one knows you. So if you get caught, we do not get blamed.”
Kyssandra was beginning to see the pattern here.

Kyssandra left, and went looking for the Battle-born house. She decided to do this job, simply because with this one, she did not have to leave the city gates to accomplish it. At least if it went wrong, she was still in the city, and would not be at the mercy of wolves, or other monsters. She realized vaguely, that she was going to be breaking and entering, and possibly stealing. It bothered her slightly, but she tried not to think about it. She needed gold, and hopefully this would give her some.

She found the house and went inside, the door was open. Immediately, some woman saw her, and asked who she was. When Kyssandra could not give a good answer, she was ushered outside. As Kyssandra stood there across the street, trying to decide what to do, she watched the woman leave. The woman headed down the street, towards the market. Kyssandra shrugged, and on impulse, tried the door again. It was open. She went inside, listened, and not hearing anyone, started searching the house for clues to the location of…what was that man’s name again? As she went by one window, she glanced outside, and realized something horrifying. This was the very house where she had seen the dead body chained to the poles. That had been in the back of the house, and she had entered from the front, not realizing it, until just now. Chill bumps rose upon her arms. She had best not get caught here. Facing wolves outside the city may have been a better option indeed.

Upstairs, looking through a bookshelf, Kyssandra found the most interesting of books. She loved to read, and learn about history. She found a book talking about various historic locations in Skyrim, and something called standing stones. She got out her map and marked the locations on it, that the book mentioned. Suddenly she heard something. Someone shuffling around downstairs. She had gotten lost in reading books, and completely lost track of her mission and time. Apparently thieving could be added to the list of things Kyssandra was not good at.

Footsteps were now coming up the stairs. Kyssandra hurried into the nearest room. It was someone’s bedroom. She ran over behind a dresser, and crouched down, hiding as best she could. She listened carefully. The footsteps had stopped. Slowly, she opened the door, and peeked out. The hallway was empty. She crept down the hall. In one room off to the side, there was a man. “Huh? what’s there?” Kyssandra froze. When the man did not come out, she hurried down the hall, and down the stairs, as quiet and fast as she could. On impulse she went into another room that appeared to be a study, or an office. There on the desk, she saw what looked like an official document. She picked it up, quickly scanned it, and realized that it was what the Gray-Manes were looking for. It detailed the imprisonment of a Gray-Mane, somewhere. She didn’t care, she just hurried out with it before the man came back down stairs.

She took it to the Gray-Mane house, and showed it to the older woman and man, expecting a payment. But the man just shouted that he was going to take his brothers and attack the place.
“Do I…um…get…”
“Paid?” the man sneered, “Well, not unless YOU want to take care of this yourself!”
“I can do that,” Kyssandra sighed.
“Really. you. attack a Thalmor fortress.”
"Well, maybe no blood needs to be shed, " Kyssandra answered. “Maybe we could negotiate his release?”
“Fine.” the man answered. “I’ll let you try it your way then.”
He marked the location on her map. It was the other side of Skyrim. What had she just agreed to do?

After this, it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Kyssandra still had made no money at all, and had exhausted every opportunity she could find in the city. She headed outside of the gates. There were numerous farms dotted about, on the outskirts of the city, and a mead producing place. None of them needed any help. It looked like she was going to have to venture forth, and try to retrieve something farther out, or perhaps she could stumble upon another civil war battle to loot. At any rate it was too late in the afternoon to go try anything like that, and be back before dark. She looked at her map, and noticed she was very near one of those standing stone things mentioned in the book she had been perusing. She decided she could probably make it there and back before dark, so she headed that way.

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Chapter 5

“The Water is Fine!”

Kyssandra headed away from the farms, along the road to the landmark that she had made a note of on her map, that was near to her. It was called a ritual stone, or something like that. All she remembered was reading something about stone landmarks, and pretty locations, and it was worth visiting. As she started up the hill, she saw a wolf on the path. Hoping for the best, she cast her spell and summoned her flame atronarch. Sure enough, the atronarch made short work of the wolf. She continued on, following her map.

After a short ways Kyssandra heard some howling. She crested a small hill, and saw more wolves on the path. This time there were two, maybe three. There was definitely more than one wolf wandering around in the undergrowth. She could not remember if she had been faced with more than one wolf, and wondered if the atronarch could handle that. Too late to think about it now, the wolves had noticed her, and were slowly coming her way. She summoned the atronarch, quickly. To her pleasant surprise, it dealt with all of the wolves. Nice, Kyssandra thought, this spell is proving to be quite useful!

Kyssandra then checked her map again, and noticed that she was right under this ritual stone thing. She saw a path leading off to the left, so she assumed that was it. The path wound up some steps, around the small knoll. She arrived at the top, and what she saw, was not what she expected. She thought she was going to find some type of landmark, a stone, perhaps like a monument, or a statue. She didn’t know why it would be called the ritual stone. But as she looked, it was immediately clear. It was nothing more than a flat stone plateau, with markings on it, obviously for performing rituals. There looked to be a couple of dead bodies, or skeletal remains lying around. And there were candles. lit candles. And a young girl, chanting. Obviously, a ritual was going on at this very moment. The girl missed a cadence in the chant, and looked up in surprise, and then looked around.

“Who are you!?” the girl shouted angrily, “Stupid bitch!! How dare you interrupt me!?”

And with that the girl cast a spell. Before Kyssandra could do anything, she was hit with what felt like a block of ice. It had so much force, that it knocked her completely off the side of the hill. She rolled almost all the way down the steep hill, through thorns, briars, and bushes. Slowly, she picked herself up. She was cut, and bruised, and would be sore, but she didn’t think she had any broken bones. She could have just headed back to town right then and there, but this had made her angry. Kyssandra wasn’t much for thinking things through. The girl might have been right about her, but she was only half right. She wasn’t stupid. She summoned the flame atronarch and headed back up the hill.

When it was over, Kyssandra realized she really hadn’t done much of anything. The ritual casting girl had basically fought Kyssandra’s flame atronarch, while Kyssandra stood on the steps and watched. And now there was one more body on the stone plateau. “Hmmph!” I certainly showed her, Kyssandra thought to herself. It really did not hit her at the moment, what she had just accomplished, that this was person, not a wolf. Kyssandra looked around. The view was quite beautiful up here. She checked the spellcaster’s things, and noticed a spell tome, amoung other things. It was like the one she had bought from the lady at the Winterhold gate, that mage light spell. This one was labeled, “fast healing”. She read it aloud, in the same way the woman had instructed her to read the other one. Instantlyy, she felt the magic, as her body, or mind, or something absorbed it. She then attempted to think on it, and cast it, as she had cast her summon spell. There was a yellow light, and she felt much better. She noticed that her cuts and bruises from tumbling down the hill had all but disappeared. “Nice,” she thought, smiling.

She rummaged around for a bit, finding various things laying around that apparently had been possessions of the other dead bodies and remains. There wasn’t a lot of things, but she knew by now, she could sell the weapons and armor she found, to make more gold for her tuition. She picked up all she could carry, admired the view and the sunset for a bit, then headed back to town.

After a quick stop at the open vendors, she headed on to the inn. It was not near as late as it was when she had arrived the night before, but she just did not want to be out in this savage land, after dark, even in the city. She was starting to get a better feel for this place, and got the feeling that she had just been lucky, so far. She made sure her room was paid up for the night, then bought some supper, and took it upstairs. While eating, at the table just outside her room, this time she noticed a book on another table in the corner. She picked it up and opened it. It was a diary of some sort. Absentmindedly, she thumbed through it, while she ate.

It had been left here by what appeared to be a former guest. It was from a mercenary, who was trying to find another mercenary, whose apparent last known whereabouts was in the dungeons of this city. There was a secret entrance, in a cave outside the city walls, and this mercenary (the one the diary belonged to), was going to try to find this entrance, sneak in, and locate some treasure, or something valuable, that the other mercenary had hidden in the dungeons. It sounded like something of considerable value. Kyssandra was by herself at the table. She looked around, saw no one, and pocketed the diary.

As she sat listening to the bard play downstairs, Kyssandra contemplated on her life thus far. What the girl on the hill had called her, probably was closer to the truth than not. Kyssandra had lived a fairly sheltered life. Although her family was not wealthy, they had provided for her. She did not have to work, so she really knew no tradecraft of any sort, and wasn’t really good at anything. She knew she was better than average looking, and she was not above using that to gain something she wanted. She had never “been” with anyone, and rather naive in that aspect, but she did know how men looked at her, and she could persuade them to do things, with just a coy look. She loved history, exploring new things, and this magic she had found. She liked learning about things, but she really didn’t pay much attention to things she read, or when people were talking, unless it was something that directly interested her at the moment. As a result, she didn’t have many real friends. She thought about the girl on the hill, and what she had said. Kyssandra had learned a new spell, and had a little bit more money. The girl was dead, and Kyssandra found that she didn’t care, or feel any remorse. Perhaps, if anything, there was a tiny thrill, of victory. So yeah, the girl was probably right. Or was this just how soldiers felt, after a battle? Maybe it was a little of both.

Kyssandra shook her head, and brought herself from her thoughts. It had gotten late, and she needed to sleep. Tomorrow, she thought would look for this hidden entrance in this diary, and see if she could find it. If it was a cave near the walls, she would not have to go far. Or she could look for that family heirloom that another random villager had asked her to look into. That cave was not very far away either.

The next morning Kyssandra awoke, and after a quick breakfast, headed out. “Be careful out there,” the innkeeper said, “there’s a bad storm heading in.” As she left the inn, it was already raining. She walked through the city, and out the gates. Her plan was to just follow the city wall around the outside, and see if she could spot a cave of some kind. After a bit, this was the only plan. The storm came in quickly, and with full force. The rain was so driving and blinding, that Kyssandra found the only thing she COULD do, was follow the city walls.

She was cold, soaked to the bone, and about to give up and head back, when up ahead she saw the glow of a fire. She hurried towards it. A nice warm campfire was roaring, in a nook of some sort, a natural shelter hewn into the rock. She ran up to the fire, and put her hands out towards it, basking in the welcome warmth. She noticed a big, burly man sitting at a table just under the shelter of the rock.

“If you don’t mind, sir, I’d love to share your fire, until it stops raining,” she said.
The man looked up, and his look instantly put Kyssandra on guard.
“Oh ye would, would ye?” He said, “I’ll share more than my fire with ye. I’ll be glad ta’ warm ye up!”
“um…no thanks, I’d rather just stand over here and get warm…” Kyssandra said, and added, “from the fire! warmth from the fire! over here!”
“Nope,” the man said as he stood. He glanced out into the pouring rain. “What I think is a cute little plaything has fallen right inta’ me lap. A plaything carryin’ a full coin purse. So ye gonna get ta feel one of me swords in ye, one way or another, your choice.”

The man was moving towards her now, constantly glancing out into the rain. Kyssandra looked out into the storm herself, where he was glancing. She was getting ready to take off and run as fast as she could, even though she couldn’t see very far ahead. But suddenly, she did see what the man was glancing at. There was another person out there, a woman, who had moved behind her, and stood with an arrow nocked and aimed directly at her. Kyssandra didn’t wait a moment longer. She went into her casting mode, and quickly summoned the flame atronarch. It appeared just as the man attacked, and met him head on. She could see arrows whizzing by her head, and she thought one or more of them may have hit her. She tried to cast the healing spell on herself. The atronarch had taken care of the big man, but its time was up, and it disappeared. Arrows were still flying, so Kyssandra cast the spell a second time. She moved behind the atronarch, and watched as it cast fireball after fireball out towards the woman with the bow. Then finally, all was quiet. The atronarch went back to whence it came, and there were no other sounds but the rain, and a horse neighing. Kyssandra breathed a sigh of relief. Another thrill of victory. She had just defended herself against two armed bandits.

She warmed herself by the fire, she looted the bodies, their campsite, and ate their food. Among things that she knew she by now that she could sell, she found some useful things. A cloak, better than the one she had on. A hood to match it. And a backpack. The rain wasn’t letting up, and the horse was still neighing. Kyssandra went out into the rain, and petted the horse, to calm it. She did like animals, ones that did not attack her, that is, and she did actually know how to ride a horse. On impulse, she got on the horse, and it did not buck her off. Kyssandra rode the horse back along the wall, towards the city gate. At the stable, she dismounted, and simply left the horse at the stable. No one was out there in the rain, but she figured the stable master would find it, and care for it. At least the horse wouldn’t be stuck out thereat the cave by itself. She made her way inside the gates, to the open blacksmith’s shop. She sold all that she had picked up. Counting through her gold, she now had over 600 gold. Almost two thirds of the way to 1000. She stood on the porch of the blacksmith’s, looking out into the rain, wondering if it would let up soon, thinking of what to do next.

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*Author’s Note - At this point in the story, I feel compelled to do a disclaimer. I wanted a game universe that was far rougher and less politically correct than the original Skyrim. With mods, I have succeeded in achieving what I wanted. Best way to describe it is something along the lines of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones universe, or the Conan the Barbarian universe. This is a misogynistic land of pseudo vikings where raping, pillaging, blood, gore, slavery, blackmail, and violence can and probably will happen at any time. If this offends you, then I urge you, dear reader, stop now. You have been warned.

But this is my universe I have created, my character’s adventure, my enjoyment from crafting the gameplay of an open world rpg into a story, and I have gotten the feeling that I should just go ahead and tell it like it happens. I’m not saying that things WILL happen, I’m leaving it all to chance, to what happens in game, and I’m just telling you that it CAN happen, and it started with this chapter. My plan is to not write out every single graphic detail, but like GRR Martin does, let you know what happened by alluding to it, and leaving most of the details to the reader’s imagination. For those of you that wish for something that does not have this sort of stuff in it, I promise to put up more and more of my stories as time unfolds, ones that all may enjoy. For those of you that are not bothered or offended by anything in this statement, read on, and enjoy the ride. *

Chapter 6

Diving Falling in the Ocean”

Kyssandra was bored. bored out of her mind. She had attempted to go back outside of the city. She had tried to follow the city walls, and look for a hidden cave, but it was just raining way too hard to see anything. She had attempted to go out and find the cave nearest the city that some random guy had asked her to go to and find his family heirloom that was there. She had even rode the horse she had rescued to attempt to make it easier. It was not easier on her or the horse. The further away from the warmth of a fire she rode, the colder and wetter she became. She had walked around the inside of the entire city at least thrice. She did actually find one thing of interest, she found the proper official entrance to the castle dungeon. She found a door outside of the main castle, on the bottom level, around back. As she went into the anteroom, three guards looked up at her in complete surprise.

“What do you want?” one asked, “we didn’t send for a whore today.” He looked at the other two and grinned. “or did we?”
“I…um…I just wanted to look around, if thats possible…its raining, I’m new here, and I’m bored.” Kyssandra actually was telling the truth here.
“Suit yourself” the guard shrugged. “We’ve no prisoners at the moment, so you can look freely.”
“Aren’t you worried I may leave something in here that would help me or a friend later?” Kyssandra asked.
“Nahhh, people that end up in here usually aren’t in a position to do anything with anything left, and if you’d leave anything bigger than a lockpick, we would find it and keep it for ourselves. You’ll see”

Kyssandra stepped into the actual dungeon and immediately understood. The place was a scene of all sorts of forms of torture and subjection. There were several dead bodies that had apparently died while in the state of these tortuous devices and cells. Looking around, she did see one very interesting detail. There were grates in the floor, where she could see another whole space underneath this one. There were no stairs anywhere though. According to the diary she had read, there was another area under the dungeon, and the mercenary had dropped the valuable item down there. So she saw that part was correct, so there had to be a hidden entrance out there somewhere! She thanked the guards and left.

So now here she was bored again. She had been through every inch of this city, and it was only 4 in the afternoon. Even if the storm let up, it was too late to go searching for a cave, she doubted she would be back before dark. She decided that she would just go back to her room at the inn, and sit or sleep.

Back inside the inn, at least where it was comfortable and dry, she fidgeted around everywhere. She asked if she could use the cooking pot and attempted to cook some soup, with her stolen vegetables. Thats how bored she was. Suddenly she noticed a man staring at her. Not leering, like the others, just staring and half smiling, amused.

“What do you want? Why are you looking at me like that?” Kyssandra asked crossly.
The man shrugged. “you seem like you would rather be doing anything but being cooped up in this inn, in the rain. I’ve a job for someone like you, if you are interested.”
“Let me guess…” Kyssandra said as she rolled her eyes, “you have some family heirloom that you’ve lost, and you need me to go retrieve it for you.”
“Well, yes.” the man seemed oddly surprised. “thats it.”
Kyssandra laughed. “And where would this be? hidden in some cave, halfway across Skyrim?”
“No,” the man replied, “actually its right here in the city.”
Kyssandra furrowed her brow. “ok, why me, then, why can’t you just walk over there and get it?”
“You looked bored, like you wanted something else to do.” The man gave that half knowing smile again. “and… lets just say the person that has the heirloom is very distinguished. I cannot get an audience to even see him. But I think you have the look of someone that could…”
Kyssandra began to get the picture. “go on.”

The man then told Kyssandra the other man’s name, which she promptly forgot. It started with a U. She did remember the man’s name she was talking to, he finally introduced himself as Leon. He told her that Usomething or other was having a party tonight, and she should go out to the market and look for his servant Claudius, who would be buying supplies for the event, and try to get an invitation.

She went back out into the pouring rain, and found Claudius, by his description. At least this was something to pass the time. She inquired about his master, and the party, and Claudius affirmed everything. When she asked if she could get an invitation, Claudius said no, it wasn’t possible. Kyssandra then put forth her best coy but sexy look, and asked if there were any way at all she could get an invitation. Hey, it had worked before, back in High Rock.
Claudius gave a stern look. “Young lady, if you think I am a person that can be bribed, then you are correct.” He then broke into a sly grin. “Give me 250 gold, and come to my chambers and do anything I ask of you when you arrive, and I’ll get you in.”
Kyssandra blushed.
“No thanks.”

As she walked away, she could not stop thinking of this. She had never been with a man before, and she was fairly sure this was what he was asking her to do. In the past, that look had always worked, and that was the end of it. Non one had ever asked her to follow through with anything. She still could not stop thinking about it. She was fully grown now, and never experienced the pleasures of the flesh, only heard about things. She was in a strange place, and no one knew her here. She was intrigued, to say the least. Plus she would get to go to a fancy party, who knows what connections to the rich and powerful she could make? She realized she had walked in a circle around the market three times, absently thinking of this. She caught up with Claudius before he left.

“Ok, I’ll do it.”
“All of it?” he asked.
“All of it.” Kyssandra blushed and looked away.
“Ok, start with the 250 gold.”
Kyssandra blanched. She had been so consumed by the excitement of her desires, she had forgotten that part of the deal. Oh well, perhaps once she got the heirloom, she would make that much back. She wasn’t thinking of her tuition cost at the moment. She counted out 250 gold coins.
“Good start” Claudius said. "Now, I’m quite sure you don’t have proper attire. Go over this vendor (he wrote it down) and ask him for a special outfit for tonights party at my master’s house. Tell him I sent you. Do not open the package or you will not be allowed in. Meet me back here at 8, and I will pick you up and take you there. "

Kyssandra went to the vendor and asked for the package. She knew that she did not have the proper attire for a party of this sort. The vendor charged her 100 gold. Reluctant to part with any more of her gold that she needed so badly, she sold her amulet and some other jewelry she had worn when she left home. It wasn’t sentimental, and at this point she was more interested in dressing up in a fancy dress and going to a formal party.

She was back in the market area at 8, and as promised Claudius picked her up, and dropped her off at the front door of a mansion just outside of town. He had given her a hood to wear, during the wagon ride, as he claimed the location was to be kept secret. A little odd, she thought, but she didn’t ask. He ushered her into the front door, and told her to go meet him in his room, as he was going around back to drop off the wagon and horse. “how will I know which room is yours, though?” She asked. “you will know” And he shut the door behind her.


Kyssandra thought she heard it wrong, but turned around and tried the door anyway. She was correct. He had locked her in, from the outside.

She did not know exactly what to make of this. She milled around for a bit, looking around with curiousity. There was a guard, at some stairs going up, and down. She asked him where Claudius’ room was. He pointed to an open door. She then looked around the rest of the house. There was one odd room that had a door made of bars, like a jail cell. Every other door she tried in the house was locked. Upstairs, downstairs, same thing. The only two accessible rooms in the entire house was Claudius’ room, and the one that looked like a cell. In the main room, on a table, she found a decanter of wine. She drank most of it. This was getting weirder by the moment, and she needed the strong drink. She then went into Claudius’ room, and found him waiting. She let him do as he pleased, and after her initial resentment of the reason she was allowing this, she had to admit that after giving in, she found it rather exhilarating. Apparently he did too. “Now that you have fulfilled your side of the deal,” he said, “I will let you into the party. Follow these instructions to the letter. Go to the changing room, its the only other room you can currently get into, and put all of your possessions in the chest in there. Then open the package and put your new outfit on. Then report to the guard, and he will let you into the party.”

Kyssandra went back out into the house, pleased with her new mood, and pleased with her novice performance. She looked at the room that looked like a cell. That must be it, because that was the only other room that was open. It did have a chest and wardrobe in there. The door was made of bars, and open, but there was no one else in the outer room. Shrugging, she decided this must be it. She put all of her clothes and possessions that she had with her, in the chest. When she shut the lid, she heard it click as it locked, and the door behind her also shut and locked itself. She tried to open both, to no avail. Seeing nothing else to do, she finally opened her package to put on her new dress. The package did not contain a dress. It contained a metal corset, some chains and cuffs, like prisoners wear, and a note. The note explained that the chest, the door, and the items in the package had all been infused with magic. The chest would stay locked until the end of the party, then she could get her things back. The door would only open when the party ended, or when all of the items in the package were locked on a human. Not knowing anything else to do, Kyssandra put the items on, locked them all, and watched the door click open. She then went to the guard and asked him to direct her to the party.

What followed was a night of sheer enlightenment and craziness for Kyssandra. She did things she had never imagined. She wore things that she had never dreamed of. She got piercings in places that she did not think were supposed to be pierced. She drank a lot, and at one time, she thought she tried the drug she had heard of, called Skooma. She basically did everything asked of her, because her main goal was to see the owner of the house, and each person that she ran into or asked, had some task or thing they wanted of her, that usually involved their enjoyment, at her expense. At the end of the night, she finally got into Usomething or other’s room. She figured this would be the pinnacle of debasement. At this point, she was in so many odd devices, that she could barely walk or talk. Instead of using her like the others though, the owner just laughed, when she told him she was sent by Leon, to retrieve his family heirloom.
“Well, you certainly have earned, it, I will say that!” he roared. He rummaged around in a trunk, and brought out a large metal collar. “This is really valuable. Only way I’m going to let you have it, is if I lock it on you.”
“But how will I get it off?” Kyssandra wondered.
“You won’t.” He laughed again. “Leon has the only key. He can remove it. This is the only way I know of to send it back to him via someone I don’t know or trust.”
“ok…” Kyssandra sighed.

After this, she was ushered upstairs, where Claudis waited. He blindfolded her, so she wouldn’t remember locations, and discreetly took her to Leon’s house. She stood before Leon, in his main room, still bound, blindfolded, and with his collar on.
“Good show, good show!” Leon clapped, “you did well! Before I remove my collar though, I must ask you something.”
“whatever it is, please get it over with,” Kyssandra replied.
“Did you enjoy yourself tonight?” Leon asked. “you willingly did all of these things. I will now offer you, if you enjoyed yourself, to willingly be my slave. This night, will be your new life. Or, if you prefer, you can be my sister’s slave. What say you?”
Kyssandra thought for just a moment. She had actually enjoyed parts of it, but she wanted no part of being a slave to anyone, especially one like this. “No,” she said, " I don’t want to be yours, or your sister’s slave."
“Fair enough”, Leon said. “Claudius brought all of your possessions. They are in a chest by the door, unlocked, of course! You may retrieve them on the way out. I even added an expensive fancy dress that fits you, since thats what you thought you were getting at first.”
With that, he unlocked everything on Kyssandra, and told her she could have all of it, and the keys that fit each part, for a souvenir.

Kyssandra made her way to the door. She got her things out and got dressed. The more she thought about it, the angrier she got. She had been tricked and used. She did not want to admit that she had actually enjoyed parts, if not all of it. She decided she was going to get more than just a fancy dress and some weird lockable gear for her night. She started going through the rest of Leon’s house, grabbing everything she could carry. She opened one chest, and a poof of a magic spell happened, and all of the sudden she realized her arms were now bound behind her, in some new device. Not having a clue as to what to do next, she sheepishly went back to Leon, as he was the only other one in the house. He sat on the couch, smirking at her.
“um…can you get this thing off my arms?” she asked, looking at the floor.
"Do you know what just happened? he asked.
“Let this be a lesson to you.” Leon began, “Skyrim is not a good place. A wizard, long ago, created traps, that could be put on chests, doors, what have you, that would bind the person that opened them without the proper key or spell word, in some type of device such as this. It could be any device. These traps have been found and are used everywhere. Some people have keys, some keys are hidden, but more often than not, if you find yourself cursed with one of these devices, the outcome is not going to be good, until you find a nice person that also is able to help you out of it. Most people will probably just take advantage of you.”
“Ok, point taken,” Kyssandra said, “now could you let me out?”
“Only after I take advantage of you a little, myself” Leon smirked again, as Kyssandra looked up and shot him an angry glance. “Well, you WERE stealing from me, thats the only way you would have got yourself in this position! I was quite content to let you go willingly. This part was your doing!”

Kyssandra left the house, this time without taking anything that did not belong to her already. She noticed two things. The rain was finally letting up, and it was morning. She asked a passing farmer the time, and he said it was 5am, the start of his workday. She was exhausted. She was not far from the city, so she went directly to the inn, to her room. She told the innkeeper to wake her at noon. She did not want to waste another day, and was not in the mood for the knowing look the innkeeper was giving her.

As promised, the innkeeper woke her up around noon. Kyssandra ate, and surprisingly felt pretty good. As she dressed, she put the corset back on, since she had a key that would open it. She also left the piercings in. She could not explain it, but she liked the look and feel of it all, under her regular clothes. She headed out of the city, towards the cave on her map that the first guy had marked, where HIS family heirloom supposedly was. She was on a mission. She was going to make her 250 gold back, and more, come hell or high water.

She got to marked location, crested the small hill, and balked. This was not a cave, it was a small encampment, inhabited by bandits, and surrounded by a barricade. Was no one in this place truthful? No matter, she was in a bad mood, and she was going to go through with this, or die trying, at this point. She cast her flame atronarch, and had the healing spell ready. As she sat thinking, she decided that she could do this, if she used some strategy. Instead of charging the camp, she made some noise, and started drawing the bandits towards her. Once she figured out how to do this, it actually worked perfectly. She could summon the atronarch, make enough noise to draw one or two bandits to her, and then back up and let the atronarch fight, healing herself and regaining enough magic to summon another atronarch by the time more bandits came to investigate what they heard. Rinse, repeat, she had finally killed all the bandits in the camp. She walked in, and started looking for the sword, that was this guy’s heirloom. There really wasn’t anything of great value inside the camp. Then she saw a door in the rock wall. A door to a cave. So it WAS in a cave. She chuckled, as there was nothing else she could do, but laugh.

Kyssandra went into the cave, and found more bandits, and various traps, this time, of the more deadly type. She used the same trick as before, summoning the atronarch, and letting it fight for her, slowly, methodically making her way through the cave. After one particularly hard fight, she realized she was at the bottom, and this had been the leader. She carefully opened each chest, expecting the worst, but was rewarded this time with the actual sword she was looking for. She found another spell tome, this time, one called Transmute Self. She learned that one, who knows what it did, she would experiment later. She took the sword and everything she could possibly carry, that looked like it had the most value. She headed back to the city, barely able to walk, she was carrying so much.

When she finally made it to the city, she sought out the man looking for the sword first. He was ecstatic that she found it and returned it. She expected payment, but he had no money. “I can teach you though, some basics about using a sword, and blocking with it!” he proudly exclaimed. Kyssandra wanted to hit him. She needed gold. After selling everything she had carried back, at various vendors, she went back to her room at the inn, and counted her gold. She had over 1100 gold. Finally. She could now go pay her tuition and start her official training.

But first, she would sleep.

Chapter 7

“First Day”

Kyssandra did not sleep.

She was exhausted, and needed it badly. But, she was also excited. Excited that she could finally pay the tuition and start classes at the College. And she had just remembered that the carriage driver normally came into Whiterun in the evenings. She did not remember seeing him out there in the mornings or afternoons. He must leave out early, and not get back until late. Rather than spend one more day in this city, she made a quick spontaneous decision. She grabbed her things, literally ran through the city, out the gates to the carriage, and booked a ride to Winterhold.

When she arrived in Winterhold, it was well after dark. She could not sleep on the carriage, as it was way too bumpy. She was amazed at the sky. She had heard of the beautiful auroras that appeared in the extreme north at night, but never actually seen them until riding under them in an uncovered wagon. Luckily, Winterhold was not big, and not as seemingly dangerous as Whiterun. She went immediately to the inn, booked a room, and then she finally slept.

The next morning, Kyssandra awoke, had a good breakfast, and headed out. She climbed the stairs, and stood for just a moment taking it all in. This was going to be her college, and she was going on money that she had made, completely on her own.

She strode directly up to Jorahm and proudly presented him with 1000 gold. Somehow, he did not seem as impressed as she thought he should be, during her triumphant moment. “yeah, yeah whatever,” he said. “Go see Mirabelle, for your orientation, then report to your first class. When you are done with that, come back to me and I’ll give you your books.”

Mirabelle seemed nice, and gave Kyssandra a complete tour of the College. Kyssandra was impressed, the place was so big! Classroom area, library, dorm rooms, (she did remember which one was hers!) faculty rooms, more classrooms and research rooms, the archemage’s quarters, (which was off limits), but no cafeteria. She wondered where she was supposed to eat. She was also given a school uniform, some novice robes. They really were not robes, she thought, they looked more like skimpy drapes that would be more appropriate in the Summerset Isles. But Mirabelle assured her, this was a college of magic, the “robes” were infused with magic to provide both armor and warmth. Finally, the tour was over, and she was instructed to go join the current class in session.

Blah Blah Blah, once the initial wonder of being here wore of, as per the usual, Kyssandra only halfway listened. The instructor, Tilfdor, Torfdir, or something like that, prattled on and on. He must’ve noticed her not paying attention, because he called her up to the front, and used her to demonstrate a Ward spell. Neat, she thought, as the eventual outcome of that was that she got to learn a new spell. Finally the class was over, and Tildfor told the students to meet the next day at a training dungeon, called Saarthal. He put the location on their maps. “ooooo, field trip!” Kyssandra thought. She spent the rest of the day trying to get to know her fellow students and some of the faculty. Nothing happened that was interesting enough for her to remember. She didn’t even remember their names. Just seemed like typical school type drama.

The next day, she woke up, put on her “robes”, and headed out to the dungeon marked on her map. It was actually very near the area that she had happened upon the small battle on her first day here. She found her class, and the instructor, and they headed inside. She had never really been in an actual archelogical dig before. It was a grimy, dark cave. After arriving through the explored part, each student was given a task, to help the efforts. Kyssandra was told to go help some man whose name she did not even remember enough to attempt a prounciation. She didn’t like this one though, he was leering at her like the men inside the inn at Whiterun. He mentioned that this area was largely unexplored, and just she and he were the only ones down here. When he told her to go look for artifacts, she happily obliged. Anything that looks interesting or old, he said, like rings or amulets.

She had found a couple rings in the dirt, and then she heard voices. She recognized Tolfdur, the instructor, talking to the man. Phew, she thought, something about that other guy she did not like, and she was glad the instructor was down here now. About this time, she spotted an amulet, embedded in the cave wall, in what appeared to be a door. She pulled, and pried, and suddenly the amulet came loose, in her hands. There was a loud crash, as a large metal gate fell from an archway behind her, trapping her in the small room where she found the amulet. Tolfdar and the creepy instructor came running around the corner, and stared at her through the bars.

“Not this again!” Kyssandra sighed, “ok, what do you want me to do to get out, take off my clothes? lock myself in something?”
“Actually,…” Tolfdir sputtered, as he stared blankly at her, “I’m not sure what…er…exactly what do you mean…and…this has happened to you before?”
“I would like to see her naked,” Creepo said, “Can w-”
“Be quiet. and nice.” Tolfdur said.
Kyssandra then realized that this was not a trick, that neither one of them actually knew what had happened, and she blushed profusely.

“ok, what were you doing, before this gate dropped?” Tolfdir asked.
“I had just pried this amulet from the wall.” Kyssandra replied sheepishly.
“Hmmm…try putting it on, see what happens.”
“I knew it,” Kyssandra muttered, “something is going to lock itself on me.” But she was trapped, so she put the amulet over her head. Immediately the wall where she had pried it from started glowing.
“Good, good!” Tildfur clapped. “Now, cast a spell at it!”
“What?” Kyssandra exclaimed, “you want me to just cast a random spell at a random glowing wall, and just see what happenes?”
Tolfdur tried the gate. It would not budge.
“You are trapped,” he said, “what else are you going to do? We are all about random experimentation here at the College!”
Kyssandra had a sudden thought of a story she heard about the ruined half of Winterhold, and reports that it had been destroyed by a random experiment from the College.

There was nothing else she could do though, so she cast the most harmless of her new spells, magelight, at the glowing wall. The wall crumbled, leaving a gaping hole. When she stepped through, the gate that trapped her, raised back to its original position.

Tolfdur came into the new room with her.
“This is amazing,” he said, “you have accessed an entirely new area! Let us explore!”
“Do…we want to get the others?” Kyssandra asked.
“No. When someone discovers a new area, it is generally up to them to do the initial exploration, you never know, you may find something of value that you wish to…keep.”
She caught the implications, and followed him into the darkness.

And dark it was. She kept having to use her magelight spell to light the way. Occasionally, some demon or skeleton would pop out and attack them. Tilfdur told her this was common in most unexplored dungeons, and helped her with her own summon spell, and showed her how to use it properly. Once, she had some sort of a vision, a ghostly mage appeared and gave her a warning that she didn’t remember. Tilfdir did not see it, and said that was definately NOT common. Eventually, she noticed that she was doing most of the work, and he was following her. Finally, he told her just to go on ahead, and he would catch up later. She wondered if this was part of the class, part of a test, or if he was just lazy.

But she kept on, even figured out a couple of puzzles on her own, to get doors to open. Finally, Tilfdar reappeared. When they entered the next room, there was a demon man sitting in the middle, and a gigantic spinning, glowing orb behind him. When they entered, the demon man got up and it was obvious that he was going to attack them. Together they somehow fought him off and lived, and again, Kyssandra had the distinct impression that she had done most of the work.

Toldfur went over to the giant spinning ball and began to examine it closely.
“This is amazing!” He said for the fourth time. “I’m not sure what you have unearthed here, but this is something big! Go back to the college. Tell the Arch Mage what has happened, and tell him I need him here!”
Kyssandra obeyed, but while he was distracted, she took opportunity to pilfer around and grabbed anything that looked valuable. No one would miss the little stuff, with the giant spinning ball in the room!

By the time she had gotten back to the College, night had fallen. She made her way to the Arch Mage’s quarters. She had been told they were off limits, but its not like the door was locked, or any guards were around. She let herself in, and made her way up to what must be the very top of the main tower of the college. The quarters were grand, as you would expect an Arch Mage’s quarters to be, and she finally found him messing around in what appeared to be his personal library.

“Ah,” he said as he turned, “you must be my nightly entertainment. And…dressed as a new student…I like it!”
He smiled approvingly.
“Umm…no, I have other busine-…”
“I’m not interested in your other business! Come over here, girl!”

Kyssandra allowed this to happen, partly because she actually enjoyed it, and partly because, well, it was the Arch Mage, of the entire college. She wasn’t sure where this would take her, but she felt a sense of power and control here. She was still naive at this, so she just allowed the Arch Mage to do what he wished, and she enjoyed it.

Afterwards, she managed to finally get him to believe that she actually was a student, and that she had been sent to give him a message. She thought she saw a hint of fear, but that turned to wonder and excitement as she continued her story. At least her version of it, what she could remember. When she told him that Instructor Tilfdur wanted him there, he put on his robes.
“Tell no one of this,” he said, then eyeing her still unclothed body, “…any of it. Go back to your studies, I’m going to go see this right now.”

Kyssandra looked around. She found herself suddenly alone, in the Arch Mage of the College’s personal quarters. She didn’t leave right away. She didn’t take anything, she wasn’t that stupid. But she looked around, and pilfered in every nook and cranny. She found the main desk, where he apparently received vistors.

She lounged in the his chair, sitting sideways, her legs hanging over the arms. She dreamily imagined herself, sitting here, as Arch Mage herself one day.

Suddenly, she thought, she could do this. She could rise to sit here as Arch Mage of the College. She saw an apple pie on his desk. She ate it for herself, and enjoyed every bite.

The next morning, she had a note to report to Johram, the guy at that gate, that took her tuition. He must be an administrator or something.
“You never came back to me, to get your books,” he said.
“I…um…forgot?” Kyssandra said, hoping for the best.
“No matter,” he said, “here they are. Do you know how this college works? The way you are graded, and how you advance?”
“Nope.” Kyssandra replied. “I figured someone would let me know when the semester is over, in a couple months, or I would find it out as I go along. Its only been a couple days.”
He smirked. “As far as I know, your first ‘semester’ is now complete.”
Kyssandra balked.
Jorham continued, “This College does not go by set dates for semesters. You basically learn, and when you hit a knowledge level, when your instructors feel like you have reached that level, then you ‘test’ out of that level, and are admitted to the next. Apparently, whatever performance you put on in Saarthal or where ever else you were yesterday, I’ve been instructed by the Arch Mage himself, that you are to be promoted from Novice, to Apprentice.”
“ummm…ok?” Kyssandra was stunned. She wasn’t sure exactly ‘which’ performance this was from, but she would take it, either way. “What do I do now? Do I get a different color of robes?”
“Yes, actually you do,” Jorham smirked, “as soon as you ante up your tuition. 5000 gold.”
“5000 GOLD?!!!” Kyssandra exclaimed, “Thats highway robbery! I barely was able to get 1000!”
“1000 gold is for the novices,” Jorham said, “That gets them in the College. Many of them never even get offered to move to apprentice level, they are not even good enough to do that. The way the College normally works is this. You go to classes, and then you are allowed to come and go as you please. You use what you learn out in the world, honing your skills there, moreso than here. When your skill levels rise, over time, you come back an learn more. Most people that make it past novice, to apprentice, it takes them weeks, or months, and it grows exponentially as you gain even more levels. By that time though, they are usually able to amass enough gold to progress. Its not my fault you managed to do it in two days.”
“I don’t think you’ll have a problem,” he said, “you came up with 1000 gold in a few days. I don’t care where you get it. Just go do whatever you’ve been doing, and you should be fine.”


Chapter 8

“Do whatever you’ve been doing…”

Kyssandra wandered around the College for a day or two. The views from up here were tremendous, she didn’t think she would ever get tired of looking out across the landscape on a snowy day.

But she was getting bored, again. Kyssandra needed to be doing “something”, especially if she was going to come up with 5000 gold. Almost everyone she talked to had no trouble in asking her to do some type of task, that would net her both gold, and valuable experience. She knew what the problem was. It was time she confronted it. She had been apprehensive, perhaps even afraid, to go out and explore, to seek treasure. Her last foray on her own, had been interesting, to say the least. And during Saarthal, others had been with her, or nearby, most of the time.

She decided it was time to try something by herself. “Do whatever you’ve been doing…” , Jorham the administrator had said. She looked over the notes she had been keeping, on who needed what. Some of them were pretty vague, and after a while, she had forgotten why she had wrote it, or why the location was marked on her map. The nearest thing to her, that she could piece together the location and the person that wanted something, was something called Hob’s Falls Cave. The Jarl of Winterhold, the town the College was in, had asked her to find some helm, that was somehow special to him. or the town. She didn’t remember that part.

So the next morning, after a good nights sleep, she donned her magically heated college “robes”, put on her knapsack, and headed out.

The journey to the cave was relatively uneventful. There were a few wolves here and there, but her flame atronarch was able to handle them . The hardest part was trying to follow a map, and figuring out how to get from point A to point B with a 50 foot cliff to get around. But she finally made it down the shore, where the cave, or so she thought, would be just up another hill. The snow had stopped, and it was a beautiful day.

As she went up the hill towards the cave entrance, the beauty of the day became a bit unsettling. She noticed blood on the snowy ground. Quite a bit of it actually. And the closer to the cave entrance she got, the more blood she noticed. This couldn’t be good.

The cave was dark and cold. Actually, it was not that dark. There were lit torches around. Kyssandra proceeded with caution. She only had to find a helm that matched the description she had been given, and get out.

As expected, it was not long before she met someone. It was a young girl, dressed much like the one she had ran across on the top of the hill, the thing called the ritual stone. This girl acted pretty much the same way. Kyssandra tried introducing herself, and talking, but the girl just admonished her for being there, and then attacked. Kyssandra cast her little atronarch, and it did well. She continued warily along through the cave, occasionally running across more of these ritualists. She came to one door, an actual wooden door in the cave, and went inside. Perhaps the helm was in here. Down the hall, Kyssandra peeped around the corner, and saw a woman in a large room, with all sorts of apparatus in it. This woman just seemed like she would be more powerful than the other casters. She didn’t see a helm anywhere, but she did see a table, just barely within reach, and on the table were 3-4 spell tomes. If she could just reach them, she could read them, and gain some new spell knowledge! They were just barely…

The woman saw her. and attacked. Kyssandra’s instinct was right, this woman was more powerful. This was easily the hardest fight she had so far in her short mage career. She just continued to cast the atronarch, back up and let it fight, and cast healing upon herself, and resummon the atronarch when it was defeated. She finally won, but just barely.

Kyssandra oddly didnt’ feel any remorse. The woman did attack her first. Never mind that Kyssandra was effectively stealing the woman’s spellbooks. But she then learned the spells in peace. She searched the woman for anything light enough to carry that would be valuable. “Do whatever you’ve been doing…” The words echoed in her head. Well, this is exactly what she had been doing.

As she looked around for anything else that would be valuable, she became quite unsettled. Exactly what were these people doing down here? There were bodies, in cages. There were potions and books. Kyssandra thumbed through the books and notes. Apparently, this woman had been researching the effects of mating ice wraiths with humans, and trying to accomplish who knows what. Ewwww. Kyssandra quickly took what she thought would be valuable, and moved on.

As she moved through the cave, she found other ritualists, and other rooms. The further in she got, the harder her battles became, not because the ritualists were more powerful, but because there were more of them at any given time. Strength in numbers, and all that. Kyssandra just kept on doing whatever she had been doing. It seemed to be working. She found one really nice room, that was, well, almost cozy. There was a fire, vented out of an area in the roof that was open to the surface, furniture, and beds. Another room had more sacrificed bodies in it, but had an enchanting device. Kyssandra had seen one of these at the College, but had not had any classes or instruction on it. This one had a primer book beside it. Since it was quiet at the moment she lost herself in the instruction book, and actually experimented for a bit. She managed to enchant a ring she had found, with a small meager addition to her health. It was very, VERY small, but it was something.

Finally, after many hours of fighting back and forth, recon, dropping back, fighting more, she finally reached the end of the cave. In the deepest part, there was a room that was set up as a small chapel, for lack of better word. It was a very hard fight, but Kyssandra managed to defeat the ritualists in there, by sending her atronarch in to fight, then running away and healing herself. “Do whatever you’ve been doing…” This room had benches, like pews, where the people would sit, as a ritual would be carried out on what appeared to be an altar in front of the benches. There was the body of the most recent sacrifice, still laying bound on the altar. Kyssandra wondered what it would be like, to be the girl on the altar, with everyone sitting there…

No! What was she thinking?! Why had that thought even entered her mind? Kyssandra searched the room. There were no other doors or passages out, so the helm she was looking for must be in here somewhere. She finally did find it, in a chest, plus some other things that she thought she could carry, and sell later. Now, to get out of here.

Once Kyssandra got back to the entrance, and walked outside, she noticed the time. It was the middle of the night! She had been in this cave all day, fighting. By the position of the moon, it must have been around midnight. She was tired, and really did not relish the thought of making her way back to the College, over cliffs and ravines, in the middle of the night. Skyrim was dangerous enough, she was finding out, during the day.

She had a thought. She had taken care of everyone alive that was in the cave, she was sure of that. She shrugged, and went back in. She made her way back to the cozy little room with the beds and furniture that she had run across, and she curled up on one of the beds and slept.

Nothing happened during the night. No strange visitors, nothing of the sort. She awoke, late in the morning, and made her way back towards Winterhold.

She went directly to the Jarl. When he asked what she needed, she plopped the helm down in front of him. He was surprised, happy, and excited. He said a lot about what this helm would do for him, and the town, but Kyssandra really wasn’t paying a lot of attention. She just wanted some compensation. He did give her a fair amount of gold, and then said if she would do more for the townsfolk he would make her a thane. She didn’t know what a thane was, but it sounded important. She thought for a moment. “Do whatever you’ve been doing…”, the words that kept echoing in her head. She smiled her coy little smile, and asked if there was not another way that she could be a thane, something else she could offer. The Jarl caught the hint, and told her in fact, that would work. "But… ".he told her, “come back in the middle of the night, and be discreet”

“Do whatever you’ve been doing…” She was beginning to see how this could work, and to her advantage.

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Chapter 9

“A Strange Twist”

After talking to the Jarl, Kyssandra was ready to find a new adventure. She had quite a bit of stuff, all she could carry really, but she could not find anyone in the College or in the small town of Winterhold, that could afford to buy what she had. She was simply going to have to make a trip to Whiterun, just to sell what she had, and make room in her knapsack to carry more.

But the carriage was never there early in the morning, it always showed up late in the afternoon. She looked at her map. What could she do, for adventure and fun, that would only take half a day? She certainly wasn’t going on another fighting run, because she couldn’t carry anything else, and it would not be worth it to fight creatures or what have you, and not gain and sell their stuff. She looked at her map. Nearby, there was a statue on a mountain, marked the Shrine of Azura. She had seen it several times, as the carriage had went past it. It was close enough. Perhaps she could explore and figure out how to get up there and see what this was, and then be back at the town gate by the time the carriage arrived.

Kyssandra dutifully followed her map, towards the shrine. She found that she had to go all the way around the mountain to get to the road leading up to it.

When she had reached the top, of course, there was someone up there. Kyssandra summoned her atronarch, as she knew how this worked now. But this woman did not attack her, instead she was calm, and talked to her. She tried to tell her that she was some chosen one of Azura, whoever that was. Kyssandra assumed it was the likeness that the statue was patterned after. But she talked a lot. The only thing Kyssandra heard and jotted down, was powerful relic, and someone in Winterhold knew where it was. Ask around about the Black Star, or something like that. If it was powerful, and a relic, she was in.

Kyssandra made her way back down the mountain to the main path. It wasn’t even lunch time yet! What else could she do? She looked at her map. She noticed the next city over, was called Windhelm. It looked pretty big. Perhaps it had vendors with money, like Whiterun. It was a good ways away, IF you followed the path. But Kyssandra noticed on her map, that if she cut through the country, on some smaller trails, it was actually about the same distance from where she stood, as Hobs Falls Cave was from Winterhold. She decided she could make it, and set out.

Along the way, there were a few wolves, but Kyssandra had learned how to deal with wolves. She could hear them howling, if she paid attention, and then she could just cas-


Kyssandra was suddenly, from out of nowhere, hit from behind. She tumbled down the hill, in the snow. The man that hit her was dressed in black, and she had not heard him coming, and had no warning of the blow. He was on her faster than she could react. Somehow she got away just long enough to summon her atronarch. As the atronarch attacked and kept the man busy, she cast her healing spell. Eventually, she survived, and he did not. But just barely.

Ah well, she thought, may as well take his stuff and sell it. In his pack, she found a note. It was very unsettling. In a nutshell, he was apparently a member of some organization called the Dark Brotherhood, and the note was a contract on HER. It said someone had performed a ritual called the Black Sacrament, and “wanted the little fool dead. Failure was not an option.” Kyssandra didn’t think he would be worried now about the consequences of failing, but…who would want her dead? Apparently she had made someone mad.

Shrugging, she continued on to Windhelm with no further incidents.

She came in through the back of the city, since she had traveled through the country. This city really had some run down areas, she learned by talking to people, that there were a lot of refugees here, from Black Marsh, and Morrowind, and from the looks of things they were not treated very well. She found a curiosity shop, and paid a couple gold for a tour of interesting items the man had collected from Skyrim. She needed all the gold she could muster, but she was a sucker for this type of stuff. Interesting and odd artifacts were one thing that really did fascinate her. One artifact that stood out was called The Book of Fate. The man claimed that it would tell the fate of the reader. After the tour, when she was allowed to browse the shop, she could not resist opening the book. It spoke of her, and cryptically detailed what sounded like some dark desires, that she didn’t know she had. She blushed and shut the book, and quickly exited the shop.

Back out in the streets, she ran across an interesting conversation. A child and a woman were arguing, and it was the words “black sacrament” that caught her ear. The child was pointing to a house, talking about someone in that house that was casting it. The woman was telling the child to stay away. This was, however, the same thing that the note on the man that had attacked her had said had been cast to tell him to kill her. Kyssandra took note of the house, but kept moving.

She finally found the marketplace, and was able to sell most of what she had picked up during the last couple of days. When it was all sold, she had close to 3000 gold!! She had no idea that she had picked up that much stuff of value. Perhaps Jorham had been right. The only thing that did not sell was the dark black outfit she had taken from the man that had tried to kill her earlier in the day. One vendor did not want to give her any money for it, but did say he knew the armor, what it stood for, and would trade it for a female version of the same armor. She figured that was better than nothing, plus, it looked quite stylish, all black and red. She didn’t know what it stood for, or what he meant, but she liked the look of the female version of it, so she took him up on it.

In the alchemy shop, she learned of some big magic all powerful magic potion, but then listened to shopkeeper when he asked her if she would deliver some nightshade to the court wizard. More money for tuition, of course she would! The wizard was only just across town.

Kyssandra made her way to the palace. Inside, the Jarl of Windhelm was talking to an advisor about some civil war, or something. She didn’t pay attention, she had a wizard to see. She finally found him, upstairs, in his quarters. He paid her for the delivery, then realized she was a student at Winterhold. Kyssandra spent the rest of the afternoon talking with him, learning from him. He had spells, for a price, but she thought this was worth the cost. It was, after all, what she was trying to master, magic. After picking the spells she thought would be of most use to her, five or six of them, she still had about 2500 gold left, half of what she needed. The wizard also taught her more about the arts of enchanting. She spent more than she bargained for, and stayed longer than she had anticipated, but it was a fruitful afternoon. This was as good as any classroom teaching.

But…when she was done, it was almost 6pm. She did not feel like making the journey back to College at this hour, as she knew it would probably get dark before she would get there. Kyssandra decided to just find the local inn, pay the 10 or so gold for a room, and stay here tonight.

The inn was not hard to find, it was in the middle of town. She paid for a room, a supper, and some wine. She changed from her college issued robes, into the cool black and red armor that she had acquired. It was supposed to mean something, but she didn’t remember what. Something about a dark brotherhood, or something like that. In the main room, there were some of the usual comments, but this inn somehow did not feel as lecherous as the one in Whiterun, and was just as full. She talked to most of the people around, and these folk seemed nicer, less creepy, and more just…flirty. Or perhaps it was her that was doing the flirting, she didn’t know. Maybe it was the outfit. Maybe it was the wine and ale that she had been liberally partaking in. Whatever it was, she found that her inhibitions were lower and her basic desires seemed to be in overdrive. After flirting with everyone in the inn, she picked one of the men, a captain of a ship no less, and invited him to her room, and managed to take care of that problem. But still, she was not completely satisfied or sleepy. One of the barmaids told her if she wanted a real drink, she should try another inn over in the refugee section of town. It was getting late, but she didn’t seem to care. Who cared about all the talk in the inn of vampires and some murderer on the streets in the night?! She wanted another drink, and a strong one! She made her way to the refugee section of town, and found the inn the cute wench had told her about. She wasn’t sure what she expected, but this wasn’t it. It was simply a small hole in the wall, with only one customer. Maybe it was because it was now around 1am. But they did have good wine, so she bought a bottle and enjoyed it. Back in the streets, she skipped along, happy and warm inside.

She passed one house, and she suddenly remembered, this was the house that she heard the woman saying to the child, something about the black sacrament being performed, by another kid, that lived here. “Well then,” she thought, “lets just see if I can figure out what this sacrament thing is.”

Kyssandra tried the door. It was locked. She tried harder, and it fell open. The lock was not that well made. She heard a chanting going on, somewhere in the house. She followed the sounds, until she turned a corner, and sure enough, there was a kid on the floor, performing some type of ritual. What had she stumbled on now?

The boy saw her.

“You’re here!! You came!!”
“Thank you, thank you so much!” he shouted with glee.
“I knew if I performed the ritual just like the book said, it would work!” He ran into the next room.

Kyssandra picked up the book, dumbfounded. It talked about a league of assassins, called the Dark Brotherhood. She remembered now, thats what the outfit she was wearing was from. It talked about the Black Sacrament. If you did it exactly the way the book said, someone from this brotherhood would show up, and you could ask them to kill someone for you, and they would. She looked at the floor. The kid had done the ritual exactly like the book said to. And she had stumbled into his house during it. wearing armor from this Dark Brotherhood simply because she liked the look of it. It was enough to sober anyone up.

Kyssandra went back out to the main room, where the boy was sitting by the fire. She sat down and talked with him. His parents had been killed, and he had been sent to an orphanage, in a town called Riften. He said the headmistress of that orphanage was mean, and he wanted her killed. Thats who the contract was for. Kyssandra told him she would do it. The kid was so happy she had showed up, she hated to burst his bubble. She sat with him a little while longer, listening to his story, then made her way back to her room, no longer skipping.

The next morning, she had a hangover the size of Cyrodil. She looked at her map. Riften was all the way on the other side of Skyrim. No way was she going to go that far on foot. She would just head back to the college, and gather her thoughts. She went out the main gate this time, hoping to find a carriage.

The snow had stopped, it was another beautiful day, but her head was hurting so, she just did not feel like dealing with traveling by foot. Luckily, there was a carriage waiting at the gates! She asked the driver where his routes went. “Falkreath,” he replied, and “Riften”.

Fate was a cruel prankster, it seemed.

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Chapter 10

“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…”

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Chapter 11


Kyssandra methodically sauntered by the wagon, as if she didn’t have any cares in the world, then quickly hoisted herself up as she got behind it. The carriage was moving before she had gotten seated or the word “go” had even left her lips. As she got herself situated, she looked back. The solder had started down the path, and was staring after her. She smiled. He suddenly looked furious, and started back up towards the stable, towards the horses. Kyssandra’s heart leaped to her throat. She probably should not have done that. As she watched, the guard obviously decided that it was going to be too much effort to go after her. As they rounded the bend, the last thing she saw was the guard looking at her, making some type of vulgar motions of what would happen if she came back. She breathed a small sigh of relief. She would cross that bridge when it happened, if it ever happened.

The rest of the journey was uneventful. They reached Windhelm near twilight.

She could have stayed there, but she just wanted to be in her own bed for once, safely locked in her own room. It had been a rather eventful couple of days. She asked the other carriage driver if he would wait for her, and after his affirmation, she hurried into the city for just a few minutes. She went and found Arteno, or whatever the kid’s name was, and told him the deed had been done. He gave her a plate. It was some type of family heirloom, he said, but to her, it was a plate. Oh well, at least she had saved some kids, and hopefully made their lives better. She could take consolation in that.

She went back out and hopped in the carriage to Winterhold. It was well past dark when she got there, but here she was at last. Safe at home.

She went up to her room, locked the door, put her money she had made in her strongbox, and then collapsed on the bed, too tired to even disrobe. Finally a good night’s sleep.

Kyssandra awoke with a start.

She was not in her room.

She looked around, groggily.

Over in the corner, up near the roof, sitting on a bookshelf, she finally noticed a figure lazily watching her.

“Who?! Wha-?”

Kyssandra jumped, and started to scramble backwards, across the floor she had apparently been dumped unceremoniously on. She recognized the armor.

“Relax, honey” the figure said, “if I wanted you dead, you would not have woke up.”
“I’m Astrid. I take it you know who I am with.”
Kyssandra nodded meekly.
“I didn’t expect you… this… so soon…I figured it would be a few days before anyone found out…I didn’t know if word would even reach you guys…”
“A few days? If we would hear about it?” Astrid laughed, “Honey, you went into the heart of the thieves guild’s own den, you killed the headmistress of an orphanage, INSIDE the orphanage, you blackmailed a guild member, you stole a horse from nobility, then used it to openly mock the guards. Honey, you are the current topic of every single inn in Skyrim!”

“So whats going to happen to me, now” Kyssandra asked.
“Well, you got a choice to make,” Astrid stated flatly. “Look behind you.”
Kyssandra looked, and was taken aback. There were three people on their knees behind her, hands tied behind their backs, with hoods over their heads.
“You took one of our contracts for yourself,” Astrid continued, “my contract. So now, I get to play a little game. I think I’ll see if you would do it again, this time for less of a reason. I’ve got the key to this shack in my pocket. Someone in this house has a current contract on them. I’ll even go so far as to say someone in this house may have put a contract on someone else. You kill either one of them, and the contract is either fulfilled, or voided. Do that, and I’ll let you go.”
“Whats in it for you?” Kyssandra asked.
“Fun. watching you squirm.” Astrid replied. You got a 2 out of 3 chance of getting it right, but I just want to see if you’ll do it again."
“Actually, its a 2 out of 4 chance.” Kyssandra said.
“huh? what do you mean?”
“You.” Kyssandra looked at Astrid. “What if you are the contract, and one of these people put a hit on you? Probably against some policy for one of you to kill a person that cast that sacrament thing.”
Astrid just looked, and Kyssandra thought she saw the hint of a smile under the face covering.

Kyssandra went over to the people, and began to question each one. Astrid said that was quite alright, and even encouraged. The first was a soldier, but he was a whimpering coward. The next was a housewife, with children, but she was so high on herself and snotty that Kyssandra didn’t like her from the get go. The third was one of the cat people, some type of smuggler, and very sure of himself, over confident. Kyssandra stared at them, thinking.

She looked back and forth, thinking it over. Astrid was the obvious choice, but she was armed to the hilt, and would probably be a tough fight. Plus, Kyssandra liked her company so far much more than these three snits.

Kyssandra calmly walked up to the solder and cut his throat.

Then she did the same to housewife.

And finally, the smuggler.

With all three bodies lying on the floor, she turned back to Astrid.

“Where’s my key.”

“Bra-vo,” Astrid clapped, “Well aren’t you the little overachiever.”

“I don’t like leaving it to chance,” Kyssandra said, “You wouldn’t take out a contract on yourself, so I just killed either someone that took out a contract, someone that had a contract, or one of each, 100% chance. Give. me. my. key.”

“Relax honey, you’ve earned it.” Astrid hopped down and unlocked the door, and put the key by Kyssandra’s pack on the floor where she had woke up. She then pulled Kyssandra’s map out of the pack and marked a spot on it. “But honestly, I think you got it in you to be a member of the Brotherhood. Come see us. Here is where we are, and here is the password. See ya soon.” And with that, Astrid slipped out the door.

Kyssandra looked around. Well that was certainly enlightening. Maybe she was Dark Brotherhood material after all. She did not feel any remorse at all. The first thought that came to mind, was how much she could loot off these bodies to fund her tuition fees. Or maybe she was just cranky because no one would let her get a good nights sleep.

At any rate, she did find some things she could sell on the bodies, and some extra gold. She packed up what she wanted, and walked outside.

She suddenly realized, she had no idea where she was.

She looked around blankly. She didn’t recognize this at all. Especially in the dark. She stared at her map. Astrid had marked the place where the Brotherhood met, but she had not made any indication of where she was at this moment. She looked back in the shack. At least there was a warm fire built. It was freezing outside. And there was a bed. Shrugging, Kyssandra drug the bodies outside, because that would have just been too creepy, locked herself in the shack, and spent the night.

The next morning, Kyssandra ate, and went outside. Luckily, the Brotherhood had deposited her backpack with her, and she had already learned to keep it stocked with meager portions of food that would keep. She looked around. She knew she was somewhere in the northern part, because it was cold, and there was snow on the ground.

She set out and started walking. The scenery was beautiful, she had to admit.

But there was water everywhere. More water than she had seen so far, near Winterhold.

She was going to have to wade across some water to get anywhere at all. She must be on some type of island.
She attempted to wade through the water, and realized it was ice cold. Her feet and legs could not take this, she would have frostbite before lunch! She hurried back to the house, where the fire was built, dried her boots, and warmed herself back up.

Ok, second attempt. She started out again. This time, she kept trying, and eventually did find a way through the creeks and pools of water. Eventually, she saw a big city, or a castle, or something, way up on a hill. She headed towards it. It was the first sign of civilization she had seen so far. She came to a beach, and a river. The city was across the river, and it looked like it had a massive boat dock. But there was no way she could swim across that frigid river. Suddenly, she knew where she was! There were only three ports in Skyrim. She had picked the middle one to land at when she first arrived, Dawnstar. She had been to one of the other ones already, Windhelm. The wasn’t either of them, so this must be Solitude. Stupid Brotherhood, they had taken her all the way across Skyrim!

Frustrated, she set off downstream. Now that she knew where she was, in looking at her map, the only way to get over there was to go down until she found a bridge. Along the way, she ran into various animals and some bandits. She just cast her atronarch and let it do its thing, taken whatever she found along the way that might be valuable. When she had put her gold in the strongbox (thankfully) the night before, in her room, she had counted out around 3000 gold. She was over halfway to her next tuition.

Finally she made it across the bridge, a town called Dragon’s Bridge.

Then, following the road, she made it to the entrance of Solitude.

The pink blossoms or the name of the city were not indicative of the city itself. It was anything but Solitude. As soon as Kyssandra entered the city, she stumbled upon an execution. Some poor chap was getting his head lopped off, right there, first thing she saw as she entered.

Kyssandra decided to poke around for a bit since she was out here, and see what else this city had to offer. The inn was about the same as the other ones, nothing really special about this one. She booked a room and stayed the night, as it was getting late in the day. The bard here was a little better. Apparently there was a bard’s college here. There were the usual, general stores, armor shops, etc. Kyssandra sold what she had looted. One particular shop she went in was a fine dress shop. As she entered, the women in the store scoffed at her. One of them, however, asked her if she was looking for work. Kyssandra, eager to make any gold she could, asked what was involved. Simply put on one of our outfits, let us dress you, and go present yourself to the Jarl, and make us look good. Kyssandra shook her head. “No way” she said. “Been down this road already, not gonna fall for this trick twice.” The ladies looked confused, until one of them burst out laughing uncontrollably. “I heard of two people in Whiterun, a brother and a sister, tricking people into becoming their slaves, surely you didn’t fall for their scam?” Kyssandra turned beet red. “Relax sweetie”, the woman said, “We are not trying to trick you. We simply want some advertising. You are a beautiful young lady, and you would make our dress look good, and we will pay you to go model it for the Jarl. Nothing more than that. And you can keep the outfit when done, and actually have something nice for a change.”

Kyssandra did not think that was a compliment, but she finally agreed to do this. It was some extra money, and should be fairly easy. She tentatively put on the dress and shoes, and headed out into the street, towards the palace.

Kyssandra gained an audience with the Jarl, who loved the dress and immediately sent word to buy one. Guess that mission was a success. While there, Kyssandra learned a little more. This Jarl was a young girl, like herself, and very becoming. Apparently her husband was supposed to be king of Skyrim, but had been killed, very recently. The guy that Kyssandra had seen executed when she walked in, had something to do with it. She wasn’t sure what, Kyssandra stopped paying attention. She asked if there was anything she could do for work. After being instructed to talk to one of the stewards, she was told that the locals were afraid of some cave up in the hills and they would pay her to check it out. People thought it was haunted.

Kyssandra sighed. Another cave. But it was gold, so she decided while she was there, may as well make something extra.

She put her adventuring clothes back on, and headed to the cave. It was pretty much the same deal as the other cave she had explored. This one was a tad bit easier, because she had a better atronarch now, but it was still hard. It was full of necromancers and undead. She did find a couple of useful spell tomes to add to her repertoire. One of them sent a spirit toward the target, that exploded upon contact. Nice! At the end of the cave, they were casting some kind of ritual, like necromancers do, trying to summon some wolf queen or something. Kyssandra didn’t care. She just methodically killed them and took their stuff. She did find a really nice helm, that positively radiated magic. And this artifact, she did not have to give to the Jarl. This time she had not been sent to retrieve anything, just to investigate.

After leaving the cave, Kyssandra suddenly remembered something, and looked at her map. Back in Whiterun, those Blood Borns, or Grey Mares, or whatever that family was that had the son taken prisoner by Thalmor…sure enough, it was very near here! May as well go rescue him while out here. She headed down the path.

After a little while, and a couple wolves, some particularly hard to kill, she saw a man on the path. Some bodies lay on the ground. Kyssandra approached warily, atronarch ready. The man didn’t attack her though, in fact, it appeared that he had been attacked by bandits, and had won.

“So you are you, what’s your story?” Kyssandra asked.
“I’m a bard. Shall I play you a tune?” He pulled out a lute and strummed it.

The lute had a strangeness about it, so Kyssandra declined. There was some type of strange but strong magic going on with this one. She could not put her finger on it. She wanted to leave, but felt drawn to him. She continued to talk, and walk with him, and ask him things. His voice was like the springtime, even though it was snowing. At some point she remembered that he told her he could enlighten her, and teach her things she had not dreamed of. She looked dreamily at him as they walked-

Kyssandra woke up. What had just happened. She was in a meadow, just off the path. The bard was nowhere to be found. She had dreamed that she was somewhere floating in an endless void of time and space, filled with pleasure. She realized that she had in fact experienced some pleasure of a carnal kind. Or had she? It certainly felt like it. But she had blacked out. At any rate though, she felt stronger. Her magic felt considerably more powerful. She felt…enlightened.

She forgot about the Thalmor. She went back to the city, got her money for investigating the cave. The young jarl, Elsif, or whatever her name was, stared at her. “you look different,” she said. “…and …why are you looking at me like that? Are you…interested in me?” Kyssandra had no idea what to think. She wasn’t sure herself exactly what was going on. Elsif seemed suddenly drawn to her, and all Kyssandra could think about was being in control… of Elsif, the Arch Mage, Riften, the Brotherhood, and every other person, organization and city she had run across.

Elsif asked Kyssandra if she would do the honor of taking her husband’s war horn to a shrine of Talos and doing an honor of some sort. Yeah, whatever, she took the horn and made notes in her journal of what to do with it. Elsif was very pretty and nice enough, Kyssandra found herself liking the girl. But after doing one or two more errands in the city, Kyssandra was ready to head back to Winterhold. She had counted her gold, and had over 2000 gold. With her 3000 back in her room, this was enough for her second semester’s tuition! She went out and paid the carriage driver for the long ride back to Whiterun. She needed to get back to Winterhold and see if she could figure out what was going on.

Along the way, the carriage got stuck. It was some little town that Kyssandra had not heard of. But it was taking forever to get the thing unstuck. Kyssandra was dog tired. She had not had much sleep at all in the last week. Maybe that was all the problem was, maybe she was just so tired, that there was no magical enlightenment, maybe she was just in a daze from the need to sleep. She laid down in the back of the carriage and told the driver to just wake her when they got to Whiterun.

The driver kept good on his promise, and woke her at Whiterun. It was the dead of night. She stumbled from the carriage to the inn, and paid for a room. She was still so sleepy, she fell into the bed, and slept soundly, the rest of the night.

The next morning, she awoke, completely refreshed, feeling like she had just lived through some type of a dream. She had breakfast, and got a carriage ride to Winterhold. A new dawn was breaking, and she was ready for it.

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Chapter 12

“College Daze”

Kyssandra remembered when she had first mentioned going to magic college, back in High Rock. Her father had been against it. “It is not worth it!” he had proclaimed, “Colleges are nothing but dens of iniquity! Places to take all your gold! They’ll charge you for every little thing, and the only thing you will learn about is pleasures of the flesh, how to drink lots of alcohol, and how to get into and cause trouble! Not worth it I say! You want to do this, you’ll make your own way!”

Kyssandra had thought she would prove him wrong.

The morning had started with her arrival back at the college, from Whiterun. She walked through town, head held high, a smug look upon her face. She went up to her room, got all her gold out of her strong box, added it to what she had and counted it. She had a little over 5200 gold pieces. Proudly, she marched up to Jhoram, and presented her second semester’s tuition fee. Jhoram responded by asking for additional favors of a more physical variety.

There was no fanfare or hoopla involved in moving up a semester. He just proclaimed her now an apprentice, as opposed to novice, gave her some random apprentice level spells, and told her to go back to playing mead pong with her fellow students. When Kyssandra asked if she got a new outfit, new robes that denoted her new status, he declined, and said he did not have anything. She pointed out that she had noticed other students wearing different color robes, based on their status. “Oh that,” he said flippantly, “I think they have them at the book vendor, you are free to buy whatever you want there.”

Fuming, Kyssandra spent the rest of the morning attending boring lectures. Had her father been right after all?

After lunch, the students were free for the rest of the day. For those that were actually on college grounds, the mornings were spent in lectures, and the afternoons were usually more hands on, doing things to practice magic. Of course the lectures were not required if you left the college grounds overnight, as Kyssandra had been told earlier, where students were free to go out into the land and practice what they had learned. Kyssandra found that she was the only one so far that had done that. Everyone else pretty much stayed here, and attended lectures and practiced spells in the afternoon. However, everyone else seemed to also have enough gold to pay for their entire stay.

Kyssandra had decided to stick around the college this day, so between chatting and talking with her fellow students, she talked to the various faculty members, hoping for something she could do to make some extra money. She was quite sure that when she got to the point that she could advance to the third semester, it would be another 5000 gold, so may as well get a head start on that. She specifically decided to talk to Drevis and Phinnis, as they were the instructors for illusion and conjuration. This seemed to be the two schools she was gravitating towards working for a mastery in.

Phinnis did not have anything for her to do, unless she wanted to follow him to his room for some “private tutoring”. Anytime she wanted to do that, he told her he would gladly teach her extra skills that would raise her conjuration skills. Drevis, however did have something for her to do. He gave her some magical gloves, and told her to go around the college to all the points of blue light, and cleanse them. Kyssandra had no idea what this involved, but she figured she would do it, for some extra gold. She found the first spot, straightway, and put the gloves on, and used her magic on the blue light. Something happened, but she did not know what. She shrugged. It appeared to work, but she still didn’t know what she was doing.

Along the way, Kyssandra stopped by her dorm. A fellow student, Brelyna, was in her room practicing spells. Brelyna asked Kyssandra if she would help her.
“I need someone to cast these spells upon, to practice,” she said, “I’m trying to learn how to cast beneficial spells upon my peers. I want to be able to enhance soldiers abilities in the war when I get out of here, and I need to know if my spells actually work on others. You allowed the mage to cast upon you that first day, as a demonstration, would you mind helping me?”
“Sure,” Kyssandra said, “go ahead.” Although she was not planning on going out into the wild, it couldn’t hurt having a beneficial spell cast upon her. She believed the soldiers slang for it was a buff.

Brelyna cast the spell. Kyssandra turned green.

“I’m green!!”
“Oh no!! I got it wrong, I think!” Brelyna said,
“You think?!! what did you cast?” Kyssandra exclaimed
“It will wear off soon!! Please, come back after wears off, I’ve got to get this right!!”

Kyssandra went back out, looking for more blue lights to cleanse. In the faculty dorm, she ran into Mirabelle, one of the senior wizards, whom she had met the first day, and had given her the initial tour. She decided this may be the person to ask about the private matter that had been bugging her since Solitude. Mirabelle certainly had the knowledge and would probably be more discreet and willing to talk, instead of what the men would want. Mirabelle just wanted to know why Kyssandra was green.

After she got her to realize that was just Brelyna’s miscast spell, Kyssandra asked Mirabelle what she really wanted to know about. Her encounter with the strange bard, on the road outside of Solitude. Kyssandra told Mirabelle all of what happened, and asked if she had heard of any type of magic that was physical in nature, perhaps caused, or charged by sex. Mirabelle had heard rumors of it, but never anything substantiated. The more they talked about it, the more interested she became. She asked Kyssandra if she wanted to go back to her dorm room, and experiment. See if they could make something happen. Kyssandra obliged, hoping Mirabelle could shed some light on this. They talked, experimented, talked more, tried different things. But after being in her room, for a while, after several tries, Kyssandra wondered if Mirabelle was only taking advantage of an opportunity that presented itself, much like she feared the men would have instantly done. No matter, Kyssandra was enjoying it, herself. At least at some point, the green spell had worn off.

Since the she was not green anymore, after Mirabelle left, (happily suggesting they should try more experiments later), Kyssandra went back over to Brelyna’s room. Brelyna was elated the Kyssandra was going to give her another chance. She had been working on the spell. She stood back, and cast it again.

Something felt different.
“Oh no.” was all Brelyna said.
Kyssandra tried to look at herself, but found her neck would not turn all the way like it used to.
“I can fix this!” Brelyna said.
Kyssandra realized she was standing on her feet and her hands…no, no,… she didn’t have hands…she had hooves.
“Hold still! I can reverse this!” Brelyna was madly paging through her books.
“YOU TURNED ME INTO A COW!!!” Kyssandra tried to shout.
The only sound that came out of her though, was a long “Moooo-ooooo”

After the cow debacle, Kyssandra told Brelyna she was through being a test subject. She went to the dining area and drank lots of ale. Then she went and finished cleansing the blue lights. She went hunting for Drevis, to tell him it was done, and give him his gloves back. When she asked, someone told her he was in the Lustorium.
“What? The Lust - orium? Is that all anyone thinks of here?” Kyssandra thought. “This is getting crazy.”
She hesitantly asked another instructor where the Lustorium was, cringing at what the answer was going to be.
“Well, assuming you are not talking about J’zargo’s room, you probably mean the Lustratorium,” he said with a smirk. “Its over there, its the college’s Subterrarium.”
Kyssandra blushed profusely.

Kyssandra went in the Lustratorium. She had not even seen this door at first, as it was halfway hidden by undergrowth. Inside, she was amazed at the beauty of something that was right here, beside her, the whole time.

She gave Drevis his gloves back, and told him the job was complete, but mainly she wandered around admiring the beauty of this place.

Later, back at the library, she was summoned by Urag, the orc librarian. He told her that Tolfdur was still at Saathal, trying to make heads or tails of their discovery there. He still had not figured anything out. Urag told her, that he had been checking all the books, but the books he really needed, were missing. Some former member, Orthorn, or something like that, had gotten mad at the arch mage, and left a while back, and had taken those books with him.
“So a former member gets mad and leaves, and steals books, and no one here cares?” Kyssandra asked.
“More like, it was too much of a bother to track him down and try to get them back,” Urag replied. “Anyway, we know a possible location for him. Its a fort near the shrine to Talos on the way to Whiterun. If you want to help Tolfdur, it’d be great if someone could go get those books back. Since you helped discover this thing, and you are the only one of your class so far to seem willing to venture out, I thought I’d mention it to you.”
“Sure, I’ll go.” Kyssandra said, “Just tell me where, and what books you need.” She was beginning to wonder which was more dangerous and predatory, inside the college or out in Skyrim.

Kyssandra made her way up to the dining area, where she had a big supper, and again consumed large amounts of ale, with her fellow students.

Later, as she made her way back to her dorm, she passed J’zargo, the cat man. J’zargo asked her for a moment. Kyssandra was relatively sure what he wanted, he had already developed a reputation for being an amorous cat, after every girl on campus. Oddly, though, he didn’t try to get her back to his room.

“J’zargo has been working on his spells, and needs one to test them for him.” J’zargo said.
Oh no, not this again, Kyssandra thought.
“You aren’t going to turn me into a cow are you?”
“What? Oh no, J’zargo would do nothing of the sort! J’zargo is serious. J’zargo wants to be at the top of his class, and this one is J’zargo’s only competition. J’zargo hopes to work together. J’zargo recognizes that this one has been out in the world, where J’zargo has not. J’zargo has been working on defensive spells, has transcribed them to scrolls, and wondered if the next time this one went out, she would take them and try them on undead. The spells should damage undead, but J’zargo cannot test them properly inside a college with no undead.”
Kyssandra thought for a moment.
“Sure, give me the scrolls,” she said, “I will test them for you.”
“This one is too kind,” J’zargo said genunely. “Also, this one does not look so good.”
Kyssandra nodded.
“This one feels nauseous.”

Kyssandra went back to her room, and threw up, and crawled into bed.
Maybe her father had been right after all.

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Chapter 13

“The Arrangement”

Kyssandra woke up still feeling awful. She was beginning to believe that she actually had contracted something other than too much alcohol. She had learned how to make a cure disease potion, with alchemy, but one of the ingredients was going to be nigh impossible for her to get, unless she found it for sale somewhere. Even then, it would probably be expensive. She couldn’t imagine that vampire dust would be an easy thing to get.

She had decided to head out again this morning. She would take a trip to Whiterun; surely she could find a healer there that could help her feel better. Since it was on the way, she figured she would stop at the location where this Orthorn guy was last seen, and see if she could talk to him about those missing books. And oddly, the location that Elsif, of Solitude, had asked her to take her husband’s war horn to, was right on the same path.

Kyssandra went out to the carriage stop, and only then remembered that the carriages did not show up until late afternoon in Winterhold. You know what? It was a beautiful day. The weather was nice for a change, and she had gotten more comfortable at fighting wolves, so she decided to just take off walking. The fresh air might help her feel better.

The trip was relatively uneventful. Every once in a while some wolves would show up on the path, but her flame atronarch would took care of it. She admired the colors of the atronarch, against the white snow and the blue sky.

She skirted the various forts and barrows, giving them wide berths. She just wasn’t in the mood to stop and fight something at every nook and cranny. She did stop at the Nightsomething or other inn, that she had seen several times riding the carriage back and forth. It was nothing special. It did give a chance to get warm though, as she had started feeling cold. Back on the trail, at long last, after a nice, but long leisurely walk, in the distance she finally could see Dragonsreach, the palace of Whiterun, through the trees.

About this time, the fun started back. Leisure time was over. She came across the strangest little man, dressed in a jester’s outfit. He said his name was Cicero.

Cicero claimed his wagon wheel was broke, which she could clearly see that it was. He had what appeared to be a coffin in the back. He claimed that he was transporting his dead mother from one burial site to another, but could not go any further because of the broken wagon wheel. There was a farm just up the hill, but no one would help him.
“Could the nice girl-?”
“sure,…” Kyssandra said.

She went up the hill and talked to the farmer. He did not want to help the strange little man, because, well, it was in fact a very strange situation. Kyssandra saw this as an opportunity to work on her persuasion skills. She explained that if he would just help the guy, then he would be gone, and out of his sight. It worked, the farmer saw things her way. She was getting better at this! Kyssandra went back down the hill and told the little man the good news. He was elated, and thanked her over and over. Kyssandra continued on her way. Little did she know that this would be the least strangest thing that would happen today.

She turned on the path leading to the fort that Orthorn was last seen at, and the shrine to Talos. The Shrine to Talos was first. She climbed the hill to where it was marked on the map, and yes, there it was. There was a man standing at it. Kyssandra summoned the atronarch, and approached with caution. Sure enough, some more bandits appeared. But wait, this man at the altar, he was not a bandit. He was fighting the bandits. Kyssandra realized that neither the man, nor the bandits were actually after her. They were fighting each other. Recognizing the bandits as what they were, she joined the man in fighting them. Perhaps by helping him, she could gain his trust, and he would not bother attacking her, after the fight.

After dispatching the bandits, the man went back up and stood by the shrine. He looked oddly familiar, the more she looked at him. He had a…was that a crown? She suddenly realized. He looked just like the paintings she had seen in Solitude, of Queen Elsif’s husband, the King of Skyrim. She walked up to him. He said nothing. She touched his arm. Her hand passed through him. He turned to her and smiled knowingly.

“You… you are a ghost?” Kyssandra stammered. “The king?”
“I am.” he smiled. “I came here to meet you”
“I…brought your horn…” It sounded stupid.
“I know.” He smiled again. "I wanted to personally meet the person Elsif would choose to love after me. I expected a strapping young man, but… well, you held your own in the fight, and if she has picked you, then who am I to-
“Wait…what?” Kyssandra was stammering.
“Elsif would only ask the one person she had picked to give herself to after me, to bring my war horn here and give me my final rest…”
“She would know that by presenting this horn here, I would be completely set free from this world…”
“Do tell. Honestly, I think I was under some bard’s spell…”
“So, I give her to you, freely. You have shown me your love for her by doing this. She is yours now, to have, hold, and protect.”
“What!? No, seriously…she was affected by-”
“Protect her. Keep her safe. She is yours.”

With that, the King vanished.

Kyssandra stood before the shrine, dumbfounded, holding a war horn, not knowing what to do next. She wondered if she looked as confused as she felt.

Kyssandra milled about the shrine for a while, but there was nothing else she could think of to do here. What a mess this was going to be. Had she really just inherited a queen? It had to be that weird spell from that bard that had affected Elsif. Nothing else made sense. Who knows how long it would last? Kyssandra wasn’t feeling the effects of it anymore. She just felt sick.

At any rate, she continued on the path. May as well go talk to this Orthorn guy before it got too late in the day, and try to get those books back. It couldn’t be any weirder than this. Lets see, he was last seen at some fort, which Urag had marked on her map. I was not far, on up the path.

As Kyssandra got close to the fort, she was hit by a fireball. She survived, and ran and hid behind a rock. She cast a quick healing spell, followed by her potent atronarch. Stepping back out, she was immediately attacked by mages. Mages who had their own atronarchs. This was the first time she had fought other mages that had atronarchs just like hers. She allowed it to do its job, and used cover to her advantage, to stay hidden, but help occasionally with her on lightening damage spell. She realized that her atronarch was more powerful than the ones she was fighting. So as long as she was smart, and took them one by one, she could do it.

When she finally got them dispatched, she realized a couple things, which made things not exactly what she had thought. This WAS the fort. These mages were apparently residents of it. Therefore, this was not a diplomatic situation, where she thought she was just going to visit and talk. This was hostile territory. She tried the doors, and they were all locked, except one, which lead underground.

Kyssandra went through the door, and almost immediately realized this was some type of dungeon, under the fort. It was filled with cells, torture devices, and bodies of previous tenants. Every little while, she would run across a mage or three, and she would have to stop and fight. In one such room, after dispatching the mages, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and she was chilled to the bone. Looking around slowly, she saw that the people caged in the cells in this room were alive. But they were not moving. And their eyes were glowing.

“Are…you guys ok?” she said meekly, realizing how stupid that sounded as she said it.
One of them spoke.
“She must be a new servant girl.” It sat perfectly still.
“Never seen a vampire before, little girl?” another said, “you are wise to be wary.”

Kyssandra had truly never seen a vampire before. She had heard the legends, but she didn’t know for sure that they were true, until this very moment. These things were in cages, but still she was afraid. She had been just about to open one of the cages, and let them out, thinking they were just hapless prisoners. Perhaps they still were. But they gave her the creeps, moreso than anything she had encountered so far. Kyssandra backed away slowly, out of the room.

The rooms got worse after that. There were no more living vampires around, but whatever they were doing down here, the experiments were horrid. It was very apparent they were doing all sorts of tests, on all sorts of beings. One interesting thing though, she found vampire dust. Apparently in experimenting on the vampires, they had killed them in the process. Kyssandra took as much of it as she could find, this was an opportunity she could not pass up. After a few more fights, she came to another room full of jail cells. A man was locked in one of them. After Kyssandra took down his guards, he rushed up to the bars.

“Thank the nine you’ve come!” He shouted. “I can tell by your robes, the college sent you to rescue me!”
“And you are…?” Kyssandra asked with a puzzled look.
“I"m Orthorn! I used to be at the college.”
Kyssandra did a double take. “Orthorn? But…I was told you left, and joined this place.”
“I did- er…I mean I was going to- … no, I was-…never mind…but they put me in here! They are going to experiment on me!”
“And you stole some books?” Kyssandra continued.
“Yes!” Orthorn said. “NO! I mean, no! I just borrowed them…I mean…”
“Do you know where they are right now?” Kyssandra asked.
“Yes! I’ll show you! just get me out of here!”

Kyssandra let him out. She figured she could take this little weasel down if he tried something. But if he knew where the books were, she wouldn’t have to search the entire place. Plus he could help in the fights.

Together, Kyssandra and Orthorn made their way upstairs and through the fort. He cast a flame atronarch just like she did, albeit not as powerful. She simply stayed behind all of them. She smiled, she now had three puppets fighting for her, instead of one. She wondered if she could control more than one creature…hmmm…might have to experiment with that. In one room they came across an alchemy table and lab. “Hold up a minute!” Kyssandra told Orthorn. She used the vampire dust she had found in the dungeons, along with the other ingredients she already had in her backpack, and was able to make two cure disease potions. She downed one of them immediately. She could feel the effects instantly. It would take a bit, but she knew it was working, whatever she had, started feeling better.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, they made it to the top of the fort, where Orthorn said the books were. It was some ritual chamber, just off the library and bedroom of the master of this place. He tried to warn her of something, but Kyssandra just opened the door and walked on in.

A rather pretty hooded girl was standing there waiting.

“So,” she said. “we meet. I was wondering who had broken into my home and was causing all the chaos.”
“I just came for the books that this elf stole from the College of Winterhold” Kyssandra replied. “May I have them?”
“May you have them?” the girl laughed, “you break in here and kill most of my staff, and you want me to just give you my books? No, I think we will do this the hard way.”
“Well, they aren’t your books, the belong to the college,” Kyssandra said, “and as for your staff, they attacked me. I came here only to talk. I killed no one that did not attack me first. Who are you anyway.”
"Who I am is not important. You may call me The Caller. "

The Caller thought for a moment, as Kyssandra stared at her, spells ready.
“Tell you what,” The Caller said, “You are obviously quite powerful, more than anyone I have on staff, obviously. How about an arrangement?”
“I’m listening.” Kyssandra said.
“You give me back the elf, don’t kill anyone else here, and don’t tell anyone about my operation or send the college after me, and you can take the books. What do you say.”
“Done.” Kyssandra nodded.
“What!!? Wait a minute!” Orthorn exclaimed, “They will put me back in the cells! you don’t know what they will do to me!! Please!! Take me back to the college! Pleeeease!!” As he was shouting, two mages appeared, and took him back out a hidden door.

Kyssandra yawned. It was really really late. Probably dark outside, she surmised. The Caller woman motioned towards the books. “How about an addendum to the arrangement? Its late and I’m tired. Can I stay the night?” Kyssandra asked with a smile. “Oh and sorry about your staff, but they DID attack me first.”

The Caller laughed. “You are very powerful, girl. More than you realize, I think. I like your style. Obviously, there are some rooms available now. Go find an empty one and feel free to stay the night. Be gone by morning and don’t come back. Oh, and I’d lock myself in the room while sleeping if I were you.”
She smiled back sweetly.


Chapter 14

“New Friends”

Kyssandra took the Caller’s advice. She locked herself in a room. She put a chair in front of the door. She put a plate on the chair that would fall off if knocked over, and hopefully wake her. She slept fitfully, but she slept.

The next day, it was a bit more cloudy, but still nice, it was not snowing or raining. Kyssandra stood outside the fort. She could see Dragonreach, the palace of Whiterun in the distance. Technically, she no longer had a reason to go there, as the potion she had made had fully cured her of whatever she had now.

But, she did not really feel like walking all the way back to the college, so she decided just to head on to Whiterun anyway, and take the carriage ride back. Save one bear attack, which she almost did not survive, (due to being completely surprised) the walk to Whiterun was uneventful. She decided that it may be prudent to keep her atronarch summoned, or at least ready, while traveling in the wilds.

As she was talking to the carriage driver to procur a ride back to the College, she asked just out of curiosity, what other towns he could take her to. Falkreath was one of the choices. She recognized that, because it was very near the place on her map that the Astrid woman had told her to come to, to join the dark brotherhood. Intrigued, and not yet ready to return to college, Kyssandra headed to Falkreath.

They passed through a town called Riverwood, where the carriage got stuck again. Apparently there were certain places, in certain towns, where it was really hard for the carriage to make the turns. Kyssandra dozed off and woke up later, near Falkreath. She remembered then, she had a letter, from the Jarl of Falkreath. It had been sent to Winterhold, telling her to look him up when she came that way.

The Jarl of Falkreath turned out to be an egotistical prick. He only wanted someone to go take out a local bandit leader for him, and tried to talk it up like a person should feel bad if they didn’t do what he wanted, because he was such a great jarl. Kyssandra marked the location on her map, but put it way down on the priority list. She was more interested in the dark brotherhood.

Along the way, just out of town, she met a talking dog. That was really weird. But she was getting used to weird. The dog wanted her to follow it, to some Clavicus Vale, or some such valley. Kyssandra really didn’t pay attention to what it said. She tried to follow it for a ways, but after a short distance, she lost it, it was going too fast. No matter, she didn’t care anymore. She turned back and headed towards the dark brotherhood.

When she reached the location Astrid had marked on her map, she knew she was in the right place. There was a skull on the door for nines sake. So much for being subtle. She said the password that Astrid had told her, and the door opened. Astrid was not far inside.

“Glad to see you took me up on the offer” Astrid said, “I think you will do well here, and fit right in”
“Soooo, whats the deal with the dark brotherhood?” Kyssandra wondered, “Are you the leader?”
Astrid sighed. “Well, I sorta am, right now, of the Skyrim branch, at least. The whole thing is controlled by the Night Mother. Unfortunately, the current Night Mother has passed away, and a new one has not been named yet. They are actually bringing her body here, to our branch! But yes, for now, I am in charge of this part of it. I believe you have figured out on your own how the system works. So would you like to join us?”
“interesting.” Kyssandra replied, “Sure, I’ll join. sounds like fun.”

Astrid looked like she wasn’t really sure how to take Kyssandra’s tone and answer, but she gave her some official armor and welcomed the new recruit. Little did she know Kyssandra already had a set, looted from the one that tried to kill her. She told Kyssandra that she did not have any big contracts at the moment, but someone named Nazir often had smaller contracts, and she could do those for easy extra money any time she liked. She told her to go inside, and get to know her new friends.

Kyssandra started by familiarizing herself with the place. It was basically a cave. But as far as caves go, it was pretty. It had a waterfall in it. After wandering around for a bit and getting bored, she hunted for Nazir. He had three contracts available. She took all three. She needed to get started on her next tuition fee. After talking to Nazir, she tried to make some small talk, with these “new friends”. One of them was a lizard man, whose name she didn’t remember. Another was a man with long blond hair, that looked like he should be some type of hero, and claimed to be Astrid’s husband. There was an older man, who was a mage, so she knew she wasn’t the only one. Then she met the little girl. Odd, that a child would be in the dark brotherhood, both by choice, and allowed. Kyssandra sat and talked to the little girl to hear her story. Turns out, the little girls family was killed by vampires, and she was turned into a vampire, at that young age. She was actually a 300 year old vampire.

“So vampires can make themselves look normal?” Kyssandra asked.
“Oh yes,” the girl replied.
Kyssandra was even more creeped out by vampires now. She tried to excuse herself politely, but was not sure how convincing she had been.

Kyssandra decided it was time to head back to the college for the night. Outside the cave, she decided to just walk back to Whiterun, and take the carriage from there. She thought she could remember the route, and she didn’t want to deal with the thing getting stuck again in Riverwood. The clouds had cleared, and it had warmed up a bit.

Along the way, she was attacked by some skeletons. She started to cast the atronarch, then suddenly remembered J’zargo’s scrolls. He had wanted her to test them on undead. She knew by now she could handle skeletons, and she saw them coming soon enough, so she whipped out the scroll and read it quickly. It made a magical aura of flame around her. As soon as the skeleton attacked, it burst into flame, then a pile of dust. “huh.” Kyssandra was impressed. J’zargo’s spell test certainly went better than Brelyna’s. She actually used it again, on more skeletons that she ran up against.

Kyssandra found herself strolling just off the path, beside the lake. The scenery was gorgeous here. After a bit, she ran across a man, with a staff, looking like he was trying to cast something. She first thought him a bandit, but after watching him for a few moments, she decided that he was harmless, and approached him. The man seemed a bit startled to see her, and she asked him what he was doing. Apparently he had inherited the staff, from some family member, and had been told it was magical. He had been told whoever had it would walk by dead people and they would get up and fight for him. But he couldn’t get it to do anything. Kyssandra asked if she could see it. Upon touch, she could instantly feel the power in the staff. It was more powerful than either of the staves she had found so far. Apparently, this guy just had no magical aptitude, and had no idea how to use it. “Hmmm, what would a girl have to do, to get this staff?” Kyssandra smiled at the man sweetly. The man blushed, showing that he had correctly interpreted her implications. It was warm, the setting was beautiful, and Kyssandra came away satisfied, with a new staff.

Late in the afternoon, happily walking along the path to Riverwood, Kyssandra realized that she was not going to make it to Whiterun before dark. She had learned that the wilderness of Skyrim was not really a place you wanted to be, after dark. Dusk settled, then darkness, but she did make it into Riverwood not long afterwards.

Since it was early still, she visited the blacksmith. She really didn’t learn anything to add to her blacksmithing skill, but she was fascinated by all the armors and clothes he could make. As she headed on into town, she was approached by a man.

“Hey! pssst! could you do me a favor?”
“What now,” Kyssandra thought…
“I was wondering if you could go to the local general store, and give this letter to the vendor’s sister?” He asked.
“And…you can’t do it, why?”
“Because you are not from her! She won’t know you!”
“What exactly is this letter?” Kyssandra asked.
“Its a fake letter.” the man replied excitedly. “Its from someone else, and it tells about Faendal, this other guy that is interested in her, and how bad he really is!”
“So,” Kyssandra tried to put this together, “you want me to give a fake letter to a girl, that spreads lies against someone that is interested in her, so she will be interested in you?”
“Yes!” the man shouted
“No!” Kyssandra shouted back.
“Aw, just do it!” the man shouted again, and put the paper in Kyssandra’s hand and ran off.

Shaking her head, Kyssandra went to the general store anyway. She was curious now, to see what this girl looked like. Plus, she had a few items she could probably sell, and she had started taking interest in what the vendors actually had. Never knew when you might find something of interest. Lucan was the owner of the store, and he introduced his sister, Camilla. As Kyssandra walked in, Lucan and Camilla were arguing because Camilla wanted to go adventuring, but Lucan didn’t want her to. Kyssandra had to admit, the girl was quite attractive, and appealing.

The brother was wanting some artifact out of a place nearby called Bleak Falls Barrow. He was wanting something called the Golden Claw. sounded expensive. Kyssandra didn’t see anything that she wanted, but she told Lucan she would be glad to get the claw for him. Surely something that had golden in the name would fetch a decent reward. After thinking for a moment, she told Camilla about the man wanting her to give a fake letter to her.

“Was it Faendal, or Sven?” Camilla asked, “Those two idiots are both after me, and they accost anyone new that walks through here, trying to pull that trick. I wish I could figure out a way to just get them both to back off.”

The two girls chuckled a bit, as Camilla shared more stories of Faendal and Sven’s attempts at affection. After a bit, Kyssandra excused herself, and headed to the inn for the eve. It was actually rather crowded. There wasn’t anywhere much to sit by herself, and there were actually no vacant rooms available. Kyssandra went back over to the general store, where her new friend Camilla was on the porch.

“No luck at the inn?” Camilla asked.
“Nope. no vacancies, and nowhere to even sit and have a peaceful meal,” Kyssandra replied.
“Well, we’ve got food here, you can eat with us if you like. And you can stay the night…with me.”
Kyssandra cocked her head at Camilla’s implication.
“I was just thinking…” Camilla continued, “If I were involved in some type of scandal, say…with someone else…someone mysterious and unexpected…perhaps the men in this town would give me some breathing room…”
“Breaking up a love triangle wouldn’t be the worst thing I’ve done,” Kyssandra laughed. “Lets start some gossip.”

The girls put on a small show for any townsfolk that might be watching, then walked inside, and closed the door.


Chapter 15

“A Learning Process”

Kyssandra woke up refreshed, and ready to head back to Winterhold. She told Camilla and her brother that she would go to Bleak Falls Barrow and get that golden claw, but just not today. She had acquired several things that she actually wanted to keep, as opposed to selling. Her pack was almost too heavy to carry, so she wanted to go empty it in her room, before going somewhere where she could possibly fill it again with things to sell.

So she headed to Whiterun with the intention of taking the carriage back to Winterhold. Once there however, Kyssandra changed her plans on the fly. One of the contracts that Nazir had given her, in the dark brotherhood cave, was just outside of Windhelm. Since she was so close, she decided to just take the carriage to Windhelm, and see if she could take care of it quickly, on the way back. Nazir said it would be easy.

After arriving in Windhelm, she set out on the path that led west. The path basically followed a river. It was just as scenic as yesterday, but quite a bit colder. She passed a mill, and then just as Nazir said, a little further down the path, she saw a camp. This was where the contract was supposed to be hiding.

Kyssandra strode up to the man warming himself beside the campfire and said hi.
He glanced up at her suspiciously. “Can I help you?”
“Yeah, you can. Are you…-” ‘crap’ Kyssandra thought to herself. She needed to make sure this was the right guy, but she had completely forgotten the name on the contract. She fished around in her pack, until she found it.
“Enn…nodius?” Kyssandra furrowed her brow, trying to pronounce the name correctly.
“You are from the Dark Brotherhood aren’t you!” Ennodius jumped up. “I knew they would send one of you after me!” he screamed as he ran away.
"Wh- what? oh death be damned… " Kyssandra sighed, and cast her atronarch.

Kyssandra stood by the rivers edge, cursing. Ennodius had actually jumped into the river, and was in the middle of it, sitting down, with only his nose and the top of his head visible. Kyssandra’s flame atronarch would not attack until she actually hit her prey first. Try as she might, she could not hit him with lightening, her only damaging spell. She tried to just hit the water, and and electrify the whole river, but that did not work. She had no desire to go into the river after him. She had new boots, and a new robe on. In addition to not wanting to mess them up, going from here to Winterhold in wet clothes would give her hypothermia for sure. She supposed she could just stand there until he froze to death himself, but she had no idea how long that would take, or if he had some type of warmth spell activated.

Finally after what seemed like forever, she hit him with a spell. That’s all it took, the flame atronarch took over from there. As Ennodius’ body washed up near the bank, Kyssandra did a cursory inspection to see if he had any gold, or anything of value. She then warmed herself by his campfire, before returning, finally, to Winterhold.

Back in Winterhold, Kyssandra stopped by the inn to get warm. While standing by the hearth, she suddenly remembered the woman up on the mountain, telling her something about Azura’s star, or some magical item, and telling her to ask a mysterious mage in Winterhold about it. She also remembered that there was a mage residing here in this inn, the one the other guy wanted her to steal a staff from, and he was the only mage she knew of, down here in the town. Sure enough, he was in his room, and she poked her head in and asked him if he knew anything about Azura’s star. He said no, but he was lying, Kyssandra could tell he knew something. She smiled her smile, and used her sweetest voice, and powers of persuasion, and it was not long before he opened up. Azura’s Star was some type of super soul gem, that never ran out, or recharged automatically. She didn’t really know what soul gems were exactly, even though she had heard of them off and on, so he explained that concept to her also. Apparently you got all these little pink gems, which she had been finding here and there, and when you killed something, its soul got trapped in the gem. The higher the intelligence or power of the being you killed, the more power you received in the gem. The gems were then used to power various magical items, enchantments, and a variety of other magical things. Yes, human souls would give lots of power, but that was highly frowned upon, think of what you are doing, he had said. This was all very interesting. Kyssandra had been finding these little gems, and had actually used a couple of them when experimenting with enchanting, but she didn’t know how they got their power until just now. She thanked the mage for his time, and headed up the hill.

Back at the college, Kyssandra headed to her room first of all. She changed clothes, and emptied her pack of all the heavy stuff she wanted to keep. She then returned the books to Urag, the librarian. He thanked her profusely, and told her he would get right on it, whatever research he wanted to do. He also informed her that Tolfdir had returned from Saarthal, and they had brought the relic back with them.

Kyssandra went to the main hall, and sure enough, there it was. A big glowing ball, sitting in the middle of the room, with Tolfdir staring at it. She wasn’t sure of the wisdom of bringing a giant glowing relic that you didn’t know what it did back to the college, but it wasn’t her call. As she stood in the glow, looking at the artifact, she vaguely remembered the stories that she had heard of the ruined part of Winterhold, and how it was rumored that it had been caused by some failed experiment, or explosion, by the College…

“Ah, there you are!” Tolfdir noticed her. She thought he may tell her something profound, but all he wanted was for her to go see if she could find his alembic, that he had misplaced, somewhere in the college…

Shrugging, Kyssandra obliged. He was her instructor, after all. She went to the Hall of Countenance, where the faculty rooms were, and the lab areas were that the students could use, like for enchanting, alchemy, and the like. She finally found the alembic, but it was something else she found, that interested her more. In one of the rooms, there was a wall of shelves, with orbs, that looked like dark crystal balls on the shelves. She had seen them before, but not really paid attention to what they were. As she looked closely, (looking for the alembic), she noticed the small plaques on the shelves, under each orb.
Teleport to Whiterun.
Teleport to Windhelm
Teleport to Solitude.
And so on, and so on. There was a dark orb for each city. Kyssandra was astounded. All these carriage rides she had been taking, and no one had told her that they had the ability to teleport here!

She took the alembic back to Tolfdir, but made the decision that the next morning, she was going to try the orbs out. Since it was late, she would not try tonight. She spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the Lustratorium. There were actually two of them, she found, one for warm weather plants, and one for cold weather plants. She went to the cold weather one. It was very relaxing, here at night, with firebugs and glow wings flying around.

The next morning, Kyssandra headed straight for the teleportation orbs. No one was around, so she decided she was just going to try one, and see what happened. She had decided to teleport to Dawnstar. That was were her next contract was, someone named Beitild. She touched the orb. Nothing happened. She held it and concentrated. Nothing happened.

Looking around, actually paying more attention now, she noticed a book, on a stand, near the shelves. Ah…it would help to read the instruction manual. In reading, it, she realized how to make the orbs work. You needed a common soul gem, the book stated, to power a teleportation. Rats, she thought. Nothing was as easy as it seemed at first.

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Chapter 16

“Two and Three”

Kyssandra did not mope around for too long. She needed a common soul gem. It wasn’t long before it hit her, the outcast mage in town, that she had talked to yesterday, the one that had explained soul gems to her, might just have one. She made her way down to the town, and sure enough, he had several for sale. The common ones were a bit expensive for her, at over 200 gold. But she justified it, telling herself she would probably make more than that off the Dawnstar brotherhood contract. The main reason though, was she just wanted to try out this teleport orb.

Back up to the college, back to the room. she tried the Dawnstar orb. Everything shimmered, then went black, as if she was asleep. Things shimmered again, and came into focus…and she found herself on a hill, overlooking Dawnstar.

Kyssandra looked around. After the initial awe and wonder wore off, and after she took a moment to admire the beautiful view, it was time to get down to business. She noticed first that she was on some type of tower structure. She remembered seeing it from the bay, when she had first arrived in Dawnstar, but she had just assumed then, that it was some type of lighthouse. There was a small magical rock here, that she could activate to get back to the room at the college. Too late, she realized that she probably needed an additional common soul gem to power it from this side also. Oh well, she could get back on her on, this was just handy knowledge to know. She would need to be on the lookout for these towers in all of the towns.

Kyssandra made her way down to the town. She emerged between two houses, into the main path. She took note of the names on the houses, so she could remember which two houses to go between if she was ever in town, and wanted to go up to the portal. The name on the house to her left was Beitild.

‘No way.’ Kyssandra thought excitedly. This was the person she was supposed to kill. Had she really just happened to walk right by the exact house? She looked around, and tried the door. It was locked, albeit not very well. Beitild must not be home. She wandered across the road, and just hung out for a bit, watching. Sure enough someone eventually came to the house. Beitild was a woman. For some reason, Kyssandra was expecting a man. But woman she was, and Kyssandra actually recognized her, after seeing her, from her first day here, when she was exploring the town. Beitid was the owner of one of the two mines. Other than that, the only thing Kyssandra remembered was that she would not want to work for this woman.

Kyssandra watched, as Beitid calmly ate her lunch, on her porch, then cleaned up, and headed back to her mine. Kyssandra pursed her lips as she thought. She had gotten the job done, but her first contract had not gone what you would call cleanly, and luckily for her, it had been out in the wilderness. Obviously, this one was going to take a bit of planning. This woman worked in town, and lived in town. A town full of guards and people. Kyssandra decided to wait until dark, and see if a better opportunity presented itself.

Back in Solitude, she had taken a small job, for some extra money, before she had met the Jarl Elsif. She had completely forgotten about it, until now. Some lizardman named Jaaee Ra had asked her to sneak over to the lighthouse in the middle of the night, and put out the fire. He wanted a ship to wreck, and wanted to loot it. When she had done it, and went back to him for her payment, he had simply told her to come to the shipwreck, and she could have half the loot. He had marked the presumed part of the coast on her map for her. She had been mad, because the location was fairly near Dawnstar, which would’ve denoted traveling by foot, all the way back past the shack where Astrid had taken her, in the wilderness. Then that whole mess with the bard had happened, and she had forgotten all about it. Until now. She was actually fairly close to that section of the coast. She decided that would be a decent enough pastime until dark, she would go see if she could find that shipwreck, and if anyone was still there, she could perhaps collect her share of the loot.

Just outside of Dawnstar, sure enough, she saw a shipwreck on the coast, and headed for it.

There was no one there. After looking around for a bit though, Kyssandra figured out this was the wrong boat. She continued up the coast, and finally, she actually ran across the ship. There were some bandits here, but they did not seem like they were going to attack her, so she just asked if someone there was named Deeja. She was surprised she remembered the name to ask for.

“Hey, you’re one that put out the lighthouse fire!” One of the bandits said, “Deeja is in the bottom hold of the ship. She will be happy to see you.”

Happy would not be the word that Kyssandra would have used when she found Deeja. Frustration perhaps, or maybe surprise. It was all just a ruse. There was no loot left on the boat, it had all be removed to wherever their hideout was. They had not expected Kyssandra, the naive young girl that Jaree Ra had “tricked” to put out the fire, to actually come to the shipwreck. If she did, Deeja was just supposed to kill her and leave her body there. Oh, and take anything of value that she may have. Kyssandra found all this out, by reading a note, penned by Jaree Ra, which she found on Deeja’s body, after she was done with her. It was a close fight, she just barely had time to cast the atronarch when she realized what was going on. But once she did, she spent the rest of the afternoon practicing for Beitild, taking out her anger on the bandit gang.

Kyssandra got back to Beiteld’s house just before twilight. In the dying light of the sun, she tried the door again. She noticed (again), that the lock was not a very good one. She looked around. No one was watching. She had a bunch of lockpicks, as she had been collecting them occasionally off bandits that happened to have them. She had never picked a lock before, but fiddled with it, and messed with the door long enough, that it eventually did pop open.

No one had seen Kyssandra enter the house, so she just locked the door back, and decided to wait for Beitild to get home for the night. Hopefully she would come in alone. It took for-ever. How long did this woman work at her mine? Kyssandra went through all the woman’s things, nodded off once, and even had time to fix herself some supper.

But finally, Kyssandra heard Beitild on the porch. She cast her flame atronarch, and stood behind the door. Once the woman came in, and closed the door, Kyssandra did not wait, for fear of the woman running back out and alerting the guards. She attacked, the atronarch attacked, and although Beitild put up a pretty good fight, she was no match for a mage and her pet. As the atronarch kept Beitild busy, Kyssandra simply moved behind her, grabbed her by the hair, and stabbed her in the back with her scimitar.

Kyssandra let herself out of the house, and headed back through the darkened town. No one had seen her. yet. As she headed towards the inn, she noticed the carriage driver was still at the gate. She hurried up to him, and asked if he could take her to Whiterun. It was going to be a really late ride, but she would much rather go ahead and get out of town before she was noticed, and before Beitild was discovered.

It was about 3am when Kyssandra arrived at Whiterun. She went into the city, rented a room, slept for a few hours, and then it was dawn again. She needed more sleep, but the activity in the inn woke her. She intended to head on down the the Dark Brotherhood headquarters and get her payment for the two hits. It was another beautiful day, so she decided to go on foot. After looking at her map, back out on the path, she decided to go instead to the third contract. It was some beggar named Narfi, at a town called Ivarstead. She had initially thought it to be too far away, but upon closer examination of her map, she saw there was a road that went fairly straight there, it just crossed the side of a large, intervening mountain. It was a pretty enough day, so Kyssandra headed that way.

About halfway across the mountain pass, clouds began to roll in. About three fourths of the way there to Ivarstead, the bottom dropped out. There was nothing she could do but to continue on. It was another pouring rainstorm. Kyssandra went by some ruins, and saw a table with a bunch of gems on a tray. She was too drenched to care. She would probably come back this way, she could check it out then, if it was still there. She had to cross a small stream, but she was wet anyway. There was a troll, or something guarding the crossing. Kyssandra didn’t feel like fighting. She cast the atronarch, and while it and the troll tangled, she just kept running up the path.

After finally making it to Ivarstead, the first thing Kyssandra did was to find the inn. The warmth and dryness were a welcome relief. She wanted to wait out the rainstorm, take care of the contract on Narfi, then head back. But, the rain seemed to go on and on. She listened to the innkeeper’s and patron’s stories about a haunted barrow, which was right on the edge of town, until she was bored. She listened to boring stories about some monastery on the top of the mountain on the other side of town, that had 7000 steps to get up to it. Finally, she was bored enough, that she decided to go look for Narfi anyway, in the rain. She found him, just as the contract said, a crazy beggar, living in a burned out house just across the river. He was no match for Kyssandra and her atronarch. In fact, it was almost reminiscent of the Ennodius guy, as Narfi tried to flee into the river. Luckily, due to the pouring rain, and Narfi’s ‘house’, if you wanted to call it that, being just across the river, no one saw anything. Kyssandra went back to the inn, where she could warm up, get dry, and have a good hot meal.


Chapter 17

“Trickery and Jesters”

Kyssandra was in danger of being bored out of her mind. which did not usually take much. This was a small town, and the only thing it had other than homes and farms, was an inn and a potion shop. It was raining so hard, she did not dare try to head back to Whiterun. She had been miserably wet when she got here, and it had only started raining after she was almost here. She remembered hearing the locals talk about some haunted barrow on the edge of town. May as well go check it out. Who knows, it could have something of value. The people had said only one adventurer had ventured in, years ago, and never returned. Everyone else had been scared away.

Kyssandra asked around, and found the place. The edge of town was an understatement. The barrow was so close, it quite honestly could have been a building IN the town. Kyssandra ventured in, and sure enough, just after she entered, a mysterious voice started chanting ‘Leave this place…’ over and over.

Kyssandra did not leave. She was only intrigued, now. There were a couple skeletons and draugr, some traps, but nothing she could not handle. Just after setting off one trap, she was suddenly attacked from a separate room, by a mage. He was fairly powerful, but Kyssandra and her atronarch managed to best him. Behind the fire trap that she had just set off, there was a locked door, with a weird shaped keyhole, and a dial you had to spin to a proper combination. Going back, she investigated the direction the mage had come from. She found a fully furnished room, which was a fairly nice little place. Looking through his books on his desk, she found what seemed to be a journal. Kyssandra laughed. So this was the adventurer that had vanished years ago. He had been living here, in this barrow, in this room, tricking the villagers into thinking it was haunted, so he could have the treasure behind the locked door all to himself. And they had believed it. Gullible little creatures. Apparently the key to open the door was some type of claw thing, that you inserted into the weird holes. You still had to figure out the combination though.

At any rate, Kyssandra took the journal back to the inn, and showed it to the innkeeper. He appeared amazed, and thankful. In thanks, he gave her something he found years ago near the barrow. It was a small dragon claw replica. Nothing of much value, he thought, but it was neat looking, so she could have it. Kyssandra could barely contain her laughter. This was the claw key thing that the mage had been looking for all these years.

Kyssandra looked outside. It was getting dark now, but it was still pouring the rain.

It was still a bit early for bed, so she went back over to the barrow. The innkeeper would spread the word about the trick, but the townsfolk would most likely not try to explore the barrow during the night. Kyssandra decided to pass the evening by seeing what was behind the locked door.

At the door, upon closer examination, she found that the combination to the dials was actually on the underside of the claw key itself. How convenient! Inside, there were more skeletons and draugr, but a bit more at a time, and a little more powerful. J’zargo’s fire cloak scrolls actually started coming in quite handy. She would have to thank him, and let him know how well they worked.

Kyssandra found herself venturing further and further into the barrow. She was having a fairly good time exploring. She realized, that since the mage could not get in, she was probably the first person to be in here in a long time. She had her pick of items she found, but she could only carry so much. Eventually she made it to the bottom of the barrow, to what appeared to be a main chamber. The fights were not that bad, there was nothing earth shattering that she found, but it was a fun little way to pass the night, and with the gold she found, and items she could sell, she could add to her tuition fund. She made her way back up to the top, and started to head over to the inn to get a room. Huh. She thought for a moment. She went over to the room the mage had been living in. It was warm, it was dry, and it was fairly nice, for a barrow. Why pay for a room, when there was a perfectly good one right here?

The next morning, after sleeping a bit late, Kyssandra awoke and stepped out of the barrow. The rain had finally stopped, and it was bright and sunny again.

Kyssandra stepped out and headed down the path back to the mountain pass towards Whiterun. She didn’t care about any of the townsfolk. Along the way, she found a dead troll near the stream she had crossed. Apparently, her atronarch had won that battle. neat. good to know. The path that went to the mountain pass was overgrown and hard to find. She almost missed it. No wonder it was small and not well traveled.

A bit up the path, she found the table she had seen with gems on it. Ah…it had a statue of the goddess Dibella, this must be a small homemade shrine. There were quite a few precious gems here, some gold ingots, and a flawless diamond. There was quite a bit of money here on this table. There were also some wisps flying around.

Kyssandra had read about wisps. Where there were wisps, there was a wispmother. They would not bother you, until they could lead you close enough to the wispmother, then they would swarm. Kyssandra looked back at the table full of gems. It could have been the wisps, it could have been that she liked Dibella, or it could have just been a feeling of guilt. Kyssandra left the gems there, and headed on up the path. She needed the money, but she could not bring herself to take things off a shrine. …this time, at least.

Up on the mountain, as she crossed the top, she paused to admire the beautiful view.

She continued on, with no interruptions. She stopped in Whiterun, but only long enough to sell the items she had found in the barrow last night, that she judged to have the most value. She then headed on to Falkreath, to the brotherhood sanctuary. Again, other than a couple bandits and farmers, she encountered nothing but waterfalls on the way.

Kyssandra spoke the magic words, and went into the sanctuary. At the bottom of the stairs, in the main area, something was going on. Kyssandra paused, and then just stared in astonishment. There, in the middle of the room, stood that dumb little jester she had helped a couple days ago on the path outside of Whiterun. With a huge box. That could only be…no…surely not…

He and Astrid appeared to be arguing. Astrid did not seem to be pleased. Cicero suddenly spied Kyssandra. Kyssandra tried to slink back into the shadows. It did not work.
“Ah, look, the nice lady that helped me get here!” Cicero shouted, as everyone looked in her direction.
“You…helped him?” Astrid looked at Kyssandra sternly.
“sort of…” Kyssandra said meekly, “His wagon was broke! I just helped him get the wheel fixed! I didn’t know…” She pointed to the big box, “Is that…?”
Astrid looked at Cicero. “We will finish this conversation later. Just remember, I am in charge here.”
As everyone dispersed, Kyssandra swore she could hear Cicero mutter “for now…” under his breath.

Kyssandra took a moment, after everyone left, to talk to Cicero. The big box was, in fact, the corpse of the Night Mother. She was still just shaking her head. She had no idea when talking to the silly little jester on the road, that his ‘mother’ in the wagon, was the Night Mother of the Dark Brotherhood. She wondered if his surname was Bates.

At any rate, she did learn a little more about the brotherhood, in talking to Cicero. It was all fairly interesting, if not a little silly. The Night Mother communicated via her spirit, with a ‘listener’, but there had not been a listener in years. Cicero was just the keeper. The Night Mother had been kept in Bravil, in Cyrodil, but that sanctuary had been compromised, so he brought her here. Kyssandra looked back at the big box, standing on its end. Ok then…

She went to find Nazir, for payment for her three completed contracts. He was in the dining hall eating, but made time to pay her. “So you killed a crazy beggar that no one cared about and a scared man camping by himself,” he chuckled, “But…I will hand it to you” he continued, " you did pretty well with Beitild, in Dawnstar, not being caught or seen. Just don’t get over confident. I think Astrid wants to see you."

Kyssandra found Astrid at the top of the stairs, leaning against a wall, near her room.
“So whats your deal with the jester?” Kyssandra asked.
“I don’t trust him.” Astrid said. “I’m flattered that he chose us, to bring the Night Mother to. But I think he is up to something. I think he has some type of agenda. The brotherhood have been fragmented for a while now, and we are one of the more powerful sanctuaries. I don’t know what he is up to.”
“Honest, I had no idea who he was,” Kyssandra said, “I just-”
Astrid held her hand up. “No matter. Thats not why I wanted to talk to you. I have a contract for you. Your first real contract.”
Kyssandra perked up and stopped talking.
“Go to the city of Markath,” Astrid continued, “Find Muiri. She is the apothecary’s assistant, in The Hag’s Cure. She has successfully performed the Black Sacrament. Black Sacrament contracts are the real thing, not like the little random contracts that Nazir takes. This IS the Dark Brotherhood. You will be the representative. Go find Muiri, talk to her, find out what she wants done, and do it exactly as she wants. Be professional. Do not screw this up.”

Kyssandra could barely contain her excitement. She headed back into the sanctuary to try to find a bed to sleep in for the night. She didn’t think she would get much sleep though.


Chapter 18

“A Tour of Markarth”

As expected, Kyssandra had trouble sleeping. She finally got up and walked around the sanctuary for a bit. She ran into Cicero, the jester.

“The nice lady cannot sleep?” He surmised, “thinking about her first contract?”
“That would be correct,” Kyssandra answered. “Any suggestions?”
“Make something,” He said. “When Cicero needs to wind down, Cicero makes something. What can you make?”
“Well, I can sew. thats about it.” Kyssandra sighed. “I can sew, I like animals, well ones that don’t try to kill me that is,” she chuckled, “…and I kill people and do magic. Thats pretty much my repertoire.”
“Aha! so make a new costume then! No need to advertise that you are a college student at Winterhold with your ugly green mage robes! Make an identity for yourself!”
Kyssandra looked perplexed. “I sort of…assumed that I would be wearing the Dark Brotherhood armor they gave me…you are saying we don’t have to do that?”
“oh heavens no!” Cicero exclaimed
Nazir had also sauntered up, and overheard. “He’s right,” he said, “You don’t necessarily have to wear the ‘official’ armor. Look around. You see anyone else here, except Astrid, wearing it?”
“Well, you do have a point…” Kyssandra said, thinking back. “soooo, do you have any material? Might be fun to make something new…”
Nazir pursed his lips in thought, “well…not really…I don’t think… only thing I can think of is the linen burial clothes that they wrap the bodies in when they bury them. There’s a bunch of that now, if you like grey and drab…”
Cicero clapped his hands excitedly. “oooooo, an assassin wearing burial clothes! How utterly quaint!! Cicero loves it!!”
Nazir rolled his eyes, but Kyssandra was intrigued.

The next morning, Kyssandra set out for the town of Markarth, bright and early. She stepped out of the sanctuary wearing the outfit that she, herself, had made last night. As she stood in the morning mists, she drank in the moment.

The trip to Markarth was uneventful. She did not take the carriage, as the weather was fairly nice. The only break in the monotony of the jog/walk was a random shrine of Dibella that she ran across. Dibella was the goddess of love and beauty. It was really the only one of the nine deities of Tamriel that Kyssandra identified with. As a little girl, she had dressed up and made herself up, and pretended to be a sister of Dibella. As she stopped and talked to the real sister, she learned that the temple to Dibella was in Markarth. Kyssandra resolved to pay a visit while there.

After a while, she arrived in Markarth. It was a very impressive city. It was apparently built into a rock cliff, into some ancient dwemer ruins. She had heard about this one before, being that it was close to the border of her home province of High Rock, but she had never been here. The whole place consists of walkways, bridges, waterfalls, and sheer drops.

As Kyssandra walked through the main gate, there was a commotion going on. She didn’t really know what was happening. Some guy was attacking a vendor’s customer, then the guards jumped in, and when the air was clear, both the woman and the guy that attacked her were laying dead on the stone. Kyssandra just sort of stood and watched, wondering what she had walked into. After things had finally calmed down, she tried to ask a couple people what was going on, but no one seemed to want to talk about it. One fellow that she talked to suddenly stooped and picked up a piece of paper, and handed it to her. He said Kyssandra had dropped that note, and it looked important. She assured him it was not hers, she didn’t drop anything, but he pressed it into her hand anyway. The note simply read, “meet me in the shrine of Talos”. Kyssandra tried to ask the man more about it, but he just said again, that it wasn’t his, and walked away.

Kyssandra walked around the confusing town for a while, and finally found The Hag’s Cure. Sure enough, the assistant in there was named Muiri. This was who she was supposed to see, the girl that had performed the dark sacrament. Kyssandra waited until Muiri was off to the side, by herself, then approached her.

Muiri was quite surprised, after Kyssandra identified herself. Muiri had in fact performed the sacrament, but she did not really think it would work. She had just done it on a whim, she didn’t really think the Dark Brotherhood actually still existed. At any rate, she related that she had once lived in Windhelm, and had been a close friend of the Shatter-Shield family. She had met some bandit named Alain, who romanced women then used that to get in houses and rob people. He had used her to rob the Shatter-Shield family. No wonder she wants him dead, Kyssandra thought.

But it didn’t stop there. Apparently the Shatter-Shields had totally disowned Muiri, because of her responsibility in this. One of their daughters had been murdered by a serial killer in the city. Kyssandra vaguely remembered hearing rumors of this killer when she was in Windhelm. Muiri wanted the other daughter killed, as revenge on the family. She wasn’t sure if that was allowed with the sacrament or not, but she promised to pay Kyssandra extra if she would take care of both people.

Kyssandra tried her best to be very professional, and assured Muiri that things would be taken care of.

Before heading out of the city, Kyssandra remembered to find and visit the Temple of Dibella. It wasn’t very hard to find, but it was a little difficult to figure out how to get there. The temple was very visible, at one of the highest points in the city. But with all the bridges and stairs and walkways, it was a challenge to figure out the path to get up there.

Kyssandra finally figured out the way, and entered the temple. For a moment, she was a bit taken aback. As a young girl, she had taken the goddess of love and beauty at face value. Now, visiting the temple as an adult, it was quite apparent that “love and beauty” actually included activities of a more carnal nature. There was one sister in there, tending the temple. She introduced herself as Senna, and explained that the other sisters were in seclusion, and could not be bothered. She did not explain why. Kyssandra looked around for a bit, and then decided she had better get going, if she wanted to make to Windhelm today.

Unfortunately, when she went outside, she found that the clouds had rolled in. By the time she had made it down all the stairs, and out of the main gate, it was pouring down the rain again. The carriages were out there, and were running on schedule. But the did not have tops on them. Kyssandra had no desire to run or ride all the way across Skyrim in the rain. She went back into Markarth, deciding to wait out the storm instead.

To pass the time, she visited a couple vendors, but eventually found herself back up at the Temple of Dibella. She was awed as a child, and now intrigued, as an adult. On a whim, perhaps due to boredom, or perhaps the intrigue, she asked sister Senna how one would join the temple. The sister seemed quite excited at this. She explained that Kyssandra would first have to prove herself worthy. She said that Skyrim was in the midst of a civil war, dragons had been reported flying around in places, Markath itself was embroiled in small battle between its own residents, and what they all needed was more love. She handed Kyssandra a circle of flowers, that fit on her head. Senna explained that Kyssandra should go out into the city, and seek donations to the temple. She should only be wearing the wreath, nothing else. She should spread “love” everywhere, in return for temple donations. “hoooookay then…” Kyssandra thought, but took the wreath of flowers anyway.

Kyssandra wandered around the city a while longer, but the rain wouldn’t stop. She got more and more bored, which was usually dangerous for her. She went ahead and rented a room at the Silver Blood inn, figuring she may need it tonight. She suddenly remembered the note that the man had handed her when she first arrived earlier in the morning. She decided to go to the shrine of Talos, and see if it actually was meant for her. As she entered the shrine, she could tell that someone was in fact in there, down the hallway. She suddenly had a wickedly fun idea, to combat her boredom. She removed her clothes, and wearing only the wreath of flowers, she strode proudly into the shrine of Talos. Sure enough, the man that had handed her the note, and denied knowledge of it, was standing there waiting. He did not look happy.

Kyssandra smiled coyly. “Would you like to donate to the temple of Dibella?” she asked.
“No. and put some clothes on. I was hoping you could help me, I did not order a holy harlot,” He said crossly.
Kyssandra sighed. “Ok, I also have other experience that may help you. tell me what you want.” She did not put her clothes on, however. She would do what she wanted.

The man introduced himself as Eltrys, a resident of Markarth. The woman that was killed was an outsider named Margret. The man that killed her was a mine worker named Weylin. He had a conspiracy theory that Weylin was a Forsworn. This was a group of people that were natives of this region, and had been driven out by Ulfric Stormcloak and the Nords of Skyrim. Now they were waging guerilla warfare and killing random people in Markarth or something like that. His father had been one of these killed. He just wanted to know what was going on, because the guards would do nothing. Something was going on in this city, and no one who lived here would acknowledge it or talk about it. He would pay for any information that Kyssandra could find out.

Kyssandra went back to the inn. As she was milling about, she overheard the innkeeper’s son complaining to his mom about having to clean out the room of the woman that was killed earlier in the day. Kyssandra approached the boy and offered to do it for him. Of course, he accepted. Kyssandra didn’t mind. It would give her something to pass the time, and if she found anything interesting, she might could tell Eltrys about it, and make a couple extra gold.

In Margret’s room, Kyssandra actually did discover something interesting, a journal penned by Margret. Apparently she was not just a random person. She was working for a general of one of the armies, and investigating a powerful banker named Thonar Silver-Blood. Hey, that’s what the inn was named! The journal also referenced the Cidhna mine, which doubled as Markarth’s prison, and was supposedly inescapable. She was going to get the deed to this mine, because thats where they were holding the most notorious criminals of the Reach. Interesting. Kyssandra really didn’t know what to make of it, but Eltrys would probably pay her for this.

Back out in the main room, the inn was filling up. It was time for the evening meal, and still pouring the rain, so folk were congregating here. In what some would consider a lapse of good judgement, Kyssandra decided to have a little fun. She went to her room, ate her evening meal there, and drank some ale for courage. When she next walked out into the inn’s main room, she was wearing nothing but her wreath of Dibella.

Kyssandra acquired quite a bit of donations for the Temple of Dibella, and spread quite a bit of love. She was not shy, nor were the patrons of the inn. At one time, she found herself putting on quite the show. She did not mind, she was in total control of what happened to her, and was having fun. People, both men and women were cheering and enjoying themselves. Then she ran into Muiri. Muiri just scowled at her, and said, “Don’t you have something you are supposed to be doing?” Kyssandra turned red from embarrassment, from head to toe, and it was evident. All she could think about were Astrid’s words, “Be professional, and don’t screw this up…” She wasn’t completely sure, but this probably could be construed as the polar opposite of professional, in the dark brotherhood’s eyes.

She excused herself from the festivities she had created and retired to her room. Kyssandra did not even try to explain anything to Muiri. She still was not quite ready for sleep though. After a few moments, she decided to go visit the treasury. Margrets journal had mentioned something about Thonar, an influential banker. Perhaps if she visited there, she could find a bit more out about this conspiracy. More information meant more gold.

Back in the streets, a guard approached Kyssandra.
“We heard you asking about the lady that was killed, and we saw you poking around in her room. Stay out of this if you know whats good for you…” he said menacingly.
Well, that just spurred her on even more. Kyssandra headed on up to the treasury house.

The treasury was still open, it was just before closing time.
“Um…I’m here to see Thonar?” Kyssandra asked.
“My husband is busy right now,” the woman behind the desk answered without looking up.
One of the other bank employees however did notice Kyssandra.
“Ah, look a sister of Dibella! I had thought all of you were in seclusion right now!” the girl said.
As the woman behind the desk looked up, along with several other people milling about, Kyssandra remembered that although she had clothed herself, she had forgotten to take the wreath of flowers off her head.
“Uhhh, yeah…I’m a sister of Dibella… And Thonar sent for me!” Kyssandra said cheerfully as she could muster, “he said he wanted to make a donation!”
The woman sighed, and rolled her eyes. “that man…go on back,” she motioned.

Kyssandra went to the back room and found Thonar working on bookkeeping. Kyssandra tried asking him about Margret, but all he was interested in was the wreath on her head. Kyssandra decided to once again play the part of a sister of Dibella. Thonar was willing to make a donation, in exchange for some love and beauty. Kyssandra realized that at least he would talk freely about things if he was more preoccupied with the rest of her. He told her that he owned half the city, and everyone worked for him. Anytime any forsworn people were discovered, he just had them arrested and put in his prison mine. Another prisoner meant another free worker in his mine. He prattled on and on while enjoying the pleasures of Dibella that Kyssandra dispensed. During this, some loud commotion was going on out in the bank, but Thonar was more interested in Kyssandra.

Finally he was satisfied, and they dressed and both headed back out front. Kyssandra gasped as she stepped through the door. There was blood on the floors, on the walls, and Thonar’s wife lay dead. One of the other workers said that the forsworn had came in and killed her. Thonar went into a rage, exclaiming about how he had their king locked up in prison, and his men were still fighting for him, and where were the guards?! Kyssandra just quietly slipped out the door. She had been picked to be the newest assassin of the Dark Brotherhood because killings did not bother her. But this rattled her a bit, the realization that she had been in the back room in the man’s bed, while his wife had been being killed just on the other side of the door.

She decided that she would make her way down the the warrens, where the man Weylan had lived. At this point, with what she had learned, she really did want to know more about what was going on here. It was now fully dark outside, and if she though Markarth was hard to navigate during the day, it was ten times worse at night. Literally, it was so dark you couldn’t see anything, and since there were no railings, one wrong step could be sheer drop.

Kyssandra finally found her way to the warrens. This appeared to be where the homeless and the beggar class lived. They also thought she was a sister of Dibella. Kyssandra took the wreath off, and told them she was not on duty right now. She asked around and found the room where this Weylan fellow had been staying. She didn’t remember at what point she had found that he had been living here. She had been asking around so randomly during the day, she forgot how she came across this information. But she found his room, and there was a letter in it. All it said was that he was supposed to go to the market and kill Magret, and it was signed by “N”.

Kyssandra left the room and headed back out. While still in the warrens a man came in, from the city proper, and strode up to her. “You’ve been messing around where you don’t belong, and been told to stop, and you haven’t,” He said, “I’ve been sent to teach you a lesson.” He then took a swing at her and knocked her into a nearby wall.

Kyssandra figured out pretty quick that this was not going to be a fight to the death. This was supposed to be a beat down, to teach her a lesson. There were too many witnesses down here, so she decided to just fight back naturally, and not use her spells or pull out the atronarch. She didn’t really know how to fist fight, so she just did what she could. She kicked, scratched, clawed, and bit the man. Much to her own surprise, she got the better of him. He was kneeling on the ground, and tapped the floor with his open palm, the universal sign that he was giving in.

“Who do you work for? Who sent you to teach me a lesson?” Kyssandra asked.
“Nepos the Nose sent me! He gives the orders. He told me to make sure you got the message this time to stop looking into this. I don’t know anything else, I swear!”

Kyssandra went back to her room, and went to bed. She was tired, bruised and sore from the fight. It was time to rest.

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Chapter 19


Kyssandra woke bright and early and headed out. The rain from the day before had stopped, and it was nice and sunny again. After all the crazy events of the previous day, she could not forget that she had a mission, a contract for the Dark Brotherhood. A bandit named Alain, that was holed up in some ruins near Windhelm.

So Kyssandra headed out to the ruins of Raldbthar. It was about halfway between Whiterun and Windhelm, on the side of a mountain. She actually came to it from the back side, as she took a shortcut across the mountain. She realized that these ruins were actually huge. She found the entrance where Muiri had marked, where the bandits were, and called forth the atronarch. From then on, it was actually pretty straightforward. She methodically fought her way through the bandits, and Alain was right where he was reported to be. There was no real challenge to be secretive here, since it was a bandit hideout. Kyssandra made short work of Alain and his buddies, and then headed towards Windhelm. The ruins looked like they went way back into the mountain. Kyssandra had no desire to spend all of her time taking out every bandit in here for the fun of it.

Next on the list was Nilsine Shatter Shield, from Windhelm. Something about this one just did not feel right to Kyssandra. When she got to Windhelm, the guard at the gate informed her folks were being cautioned on going into the city. There was a mysterious disease that they were calling CTD, that was happening to some people. Kyssandra decided it just was not worth it. This one was optional, and she just did not feel right about this one. It was the daughter of a family whose other daughter had just been killed by some serial killer. Nope, she decided that it was a sign from the nine, and headed up to Winterhold instead.

The main reason she wanted to stop by Winterhold, since she was this close, was to store some stuff from her pack, in her room. Gold, in itself, was heavy, and she almost had the 5000 for her 3rd semester now. She had picked up several things along the way, and the pack was getting rather heavy, so being that she was this close, she went to her room, and lightened her pack.

While in the dorm area, Kyssandra remembered J’zargo, and poked her head in his room.
“Hey,” she said, “just wanted to mention that your fire cloak scrolls worked well, good job!”
J’zargo looked confused. “They…did?”
“Yeah…” Now Kyssandra looked confused. “You…doubted them?”
“They did not explode? you are ok?”
Kyssandra thought back. “Well, they may have exploded, I don’t really remember. didn’t hurt if they did. They did the job and killed the undead that was attacking, thats all that matters, right?” she said cheerfully.
J’zargo looked perplexed. “Thank you for testing them for J’zargo,” He said, and turned away.

That was weird, Kyssandra thought. She had not really thought much about the scrolls, thinking they had worked well. But J’zargo’s reaction…coupled with his earlier comments of wanting to be the best in the class, and her being his only competition…had he rigged the scrolls to explode, hoping to take her out of the picture? interesting…
At any rate, she needed to head back to Markarth, and collect her payment for Alain’s contract. She was dreading the long trip, and suddenly remembered the portal room.

Kyssandra checked, and sure enough, there was a portal orb to Markarth. This one cost a greater soul gem to use, she assumed it was either the distance, or the size of the city. But she had acquired a couple of them, and decided it was such a long trip, and since she didn’t feel like riding that far, it would be worth expending one of them right now. She cast the spell, the air shimmered…and she suddenly found herself in Markarth.

She recognized immediately where she was, she was at the top of the city, above the temple of Dibella, near the highest guard tower.

She didn’t intend to stay long, she just wanted to collect her money and get out. Before going to Muiri, she found a city courier. She told the courier to go find Eltrys, and tell him to meet her in the shrine of Talos, and to tell him she had the information that he had requested. Then she headed to The Hag’s Cure.

Muiri met Kyssandra at the door, as she walked in. She was not pleased that Kyssandra had not killed Nilsine. She said she would remember that. Kyssandra really didn’t care at this point. She got her gold and headed out, to go meet Eltrys. Along the way, she remembered that the guy that had been sent to teach her a lesson, had told her Nepos the Nose had sent him. She decided to go by and pay a visit to Nepos, and see if she could find out anything else. If she had just a bit more information, maybe Eltrys would pay her a little more.

Nepos’ maid answered the door. She informed Kyssandra that Nepos was not available. When Kyssandra tried to press the issue, a voice came from inside the house, saying that it was ok, to let her in. Kyssandra was ushered through the fully staffed upper class house to Nepos, and elderly man sitting by the hearth, reading a book. He looked up at Kyssandra. “Well aren’t you the little bloodhound. you sniffed me out.”

Nepos then basically confessed to being behind most, if not all of the killings. He said he had been doing it for over 20 years. He was one of the forsworn, and had been working for Madanach, the king of the reach, or the forsworn, if you will. Madanach was inside the Cidhna mine, the prison that no one ever gets out of, but he was able to get messages in and out at will.

“So why are you telling me all of this now? so freely?” Kyssandra asked.
“My dear girl,” Nepos said, with a hint of a smile, “what makes you think you are getting out of here alive?”

Kyssandra looked around and saw the entire staff gathered in the room. She had about one second to react before the first one attacked her.

It was a long, drawn out fight. Unlike her usual fights, which were controlled and she methodically fought one or two, then regained magicka, this was an ambush, five on one. But she had managed to survive. Kyssandra sat on the edge of the table, looking around at the aftermath. The place was a mess. She had survived, barely.

She shrugged, hopped of the table, and proceeded to loot the place of anything valuable. May as well take what she could. They had attacked her, after all. One more stop, and she would head back to the sanctuary.

Kyssandra stepped into the shrine of Talos. She had all the information that Eltrys needed. Something did not seem right. There were more people in here than just Eltrys. As she exited the hall into the main room, she saw the guards. Two of them appeared from beside the doorway and grabbed her roughly by her arms. She then saw Eltrys, laying dead on the floor.

“Whats going on here?” she asked.
“What does it look like?” a guard said, “This guy is the latest forsworn murder, and we just caught you in the act!”
“Seriously?” Kyssandra struggled, but the guard’s hold was too tight. She couldn’t cast if she couldn’t get her hands free.
“We warned you, but you just wouldn’t stop nosing around,” the guard continued, “You’ve messed up a good thing we had going. So now, we are just going to pin all these recent murders on you. You got a problem? Take it up with Madanach.”

The cell door clicked shut. Kyssandra had been stripped of everything she had on her. “Welcome to the rest of your life,” a female orc guard laughed, as she slammed the gate and locked it.

Kyssandra wasted no time exploring her new “home”. She found the forsworn king, Madanach, and ‘persuaded’ her way around his bodyguard using her feminine wiles. Madanach, it seemed, actually had a plan of escaping the mine, with his fellow forsworn brethren. Was Kyssandra a friend, or foe, of the forsworn? Kyssandra told him she really did not care, she just wanted to escape. Madanach smugly told her, that if she wanted to prove herself to the forsworn, she would need to hear the stories of some of them. Kyssandra obliged, and after hearing the stories, she had to admit, they had been somewhat treated unfairly. She found herself actually sympathizing with them. Madanach then told her she would need to kill another prisoner named Grisvar. He acted like this would be a big thing. Apparently he did not know what Kyssandra’s main source of income at the moment was. She found Grisvar, looked around. Who needed these shiv things they kept talking about? There were pickaxes laying around everywhere, as the prisoners were supposed to be digging ore. She picked up the nearest one, and swung with all her might, embedding it in Grisvar’s head.

That was enough for Madanach, it seemed. He announced his escape plan to his fellow forsworn, and told Kyssandra she could come with them. She really did not have to do anything except follow. They had found a tunnel, that led to some ruins, and eventually out into the city. At the door to city, an agent on the outside waited with all of their possessions, including Kyssandra’s. She took her time gathering her things, and redressing. She calculated that she had been in an inescapable prison mine, where she had been sentenced for life, about 5 hours. heh. By the time she emerged into the city, fighting was everywhere. The escaped forsworn were fighting the guards, on their way out of the city. She did not fight, she just stood and watched.

And finally, all was quiet. The forsworn had exited the main gates, and all the guards were either dead, or in pursuit. In the eerie purple light of the aurora, and the silence, Kyssandra suddenly realized that she was the only living person out here in the streets.

She realized she would not have another opportunity like this. She wandered around freely, searching every single body for anything valuable. She even found Thonor’s body, took the key to the treasury house, and headed over there. The couple people working there were sound asleep in their rooms. Kyssandra helped herself to everything she could find. There were no guards at all, anywhere, tonight. Kyssandra took full advantage of this boon.

Eventually, she needed to sleep. It was around 3am. She made her way to the inn, but stopped short, just inside the door. The innkeeper’s son approached her. He pointed out some rough looking characters in a corner of the inn. “Those are some hired mercenaries, been asking about you, waiting for you to come back. I don’t think they want to reward you. There’s been a lot of fighting and destruction tonight. Please spare our inn of being ransacked.” Kyssandra thought for only a moment and obliged. She had no beef with the keepers of this inn.

Back out in the street, Kyssandra wondered where she could go? She was starting to get really sleepy. She thought of several places that she had “acquired” the keys to, but each had some drawback, or was not entirely empty. Then she remembered the temple of Dibella. Perhaps they would let her stay there and take a nap.

At first, Sister Senna would not let her go past the main room of the temple. But after Kyssandra gave her the donations that she had collected the other night, Senna folded.

“I suppose you have at least earned the right to hide…er…I mean sleep here for a night,” Senna said somewhat reluctantly. “Just…be tactful. The mother will probably not be pleased that an outsider has been allowed in.”

Just as she had predicted, the head mother, or whatever they called her, was not pleased. But, she decided Kyssandra could stay, if she would perform a task for them. It seemed that the temple of Dibella had what they called a Sybil, a young girl, that was brought up from an early age, to be either worshiped, or the next head mistress, or… Kyssandra really didn’t understand, nor did she care. She just wanted to sleep. She halfway listened, agreed to what sounded like to her to be a plot to kidnap some kid. As soon as they were happy with her answer, she went and found a bed and fell into it.

Kyssandra awoke early the next morning. She really had not had enough sleep, but the sisters in the temple were bustling about, and she felt that she was overstaying her short welcome. Time to head back to Falkreath. She made her way through the city, down to the carriages, just outside the gates.

By the nines, there were those hired thug guys, standing right beside the carriages keeping watch. Only this time they saw her. “There she is!”, one of them shouted, and the whole lot of them turned and came after her, steel drawn. After that last ambush at Nepos’ house, she wasn’t sure she could take these guys on, especially since there were people out on the streets now. Kyssandra ducked back into the gates, knowing the thugs would follow. She ran blindly for a few moments, heading back to the temple of Dibella, the only place of safety she could think of. Along the way, she suddenly remembered how she got here yesterday. She kept running up to the very top of the city, to the secret location of the teleport back to Winterhold. She knew she had a couple greater soul gems. With the thugs still in pursuit, she figured this would be another good use of one.

The air shimmered, and she was back in Winterhold. She did a quick check, and there was a portal orb to Falkreath, and it only needed a common soul gem. She was beginning to like this.

First, she decided to go see ol’ whats his name, the tuition guy. With what she had made from Markarth, and what she had stashed in her strongbox in her room, she now had a little over 5000 gold for the next semester’s tuition, if she was eligible.

Jordan Morham just looked at her and laughed.
“You only have about half of what you need,” he said. “Tuition for the third semester is 10,000 gold.”
“Seriously?!!” Kyssandra fumed and stormed off. There was really nothing she could do. She put her 5000 gold back in her room, and went to Falkreath, via the portal room, to see if she could get some more contracts from the brotherhood.

The Falkreath portal was very scenic, located behind a mill pond. She actually was rather enjoying finding these hidden portals.

She didn’t linger, she headed straight for the Sanctuary, not far away. Inside, Astrid waited. Kyssandra braced herself, preparing for a lecture on how to be professional. Astrid simply asked her how it went. Kyssandra remained silent, and Astrid accepted that, saying that it was her discretion if she wanted to reveal details about the jobs she did. Kyssandra was not sure if that was actually true, or if Astrid simply had not heard anything about what all happened in Markarth yet.

Kyssandra asked if there were any new contracts, and Astrid said that there were, she could talk to Nazir, but first she had a more pressing matter.

“Remember that little jester Cicero?” she asked, “He is definitely up to something. He has taken the Night Mother’s coffin into the shrine room, and he frequently goes in there. locks the door, and secretly meets with someone. We don’t know who, but we can here him talking. I need you to find out who he is meeting with.”
“ok…I can do that I guess,” Kyssandra said. “Any ideas on how?”
“Glad you asked,” Astrid replied. “You’ll have to get in there first, before he gets in there and hide, and then just wait for him.”
“That room is empty though…” Kyssandra pursed her lips as she thought out loud. “There’s nowhere in there to hide, except…”
Astrid nodded.
“NO” Kyssandra said shaking her head emphatically.
“Yes,” Astrid said sternly.
“SERIOUSLY???!!!” Kyssandra said for the third time in three days
“Yes,” its the only way. Go get in the Night Mother’s coffin, and hide in there until Cicero comes in, and see which of the other brotherhood that he is meeting with."
"you want me to… with the… with her in there?! the dead woman? " Kyssandra couldn’t even form a complete sentence she was so shaken at the thought of this hairbrained scheme.
“Yes. No go! Hurry, he will be going in there soon! This is an order!”

Kyssandra went to the shrine room. She questioned whether the dark brotherhood was really really worth it. She opened up the upright standing casket. Kyssandra cringed. Yup, sure enough, there was a shriveled up old dead woman in it…

She could hear Cicero coming down the hall.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this…”

Kyssandra took a deep breath and stepped into the casket and closed the doors.
Wait, was it her imagination, or did those doors close a bit too easily? Did she close them, or did they close on their own? She started to try one, but heard Cicero come into the room.

It wasn’t long before he started talking. She strained, but she could not hear who he was talking to. He was prattling on and on, about some nonsense, but no one was actually talking back, that Kyssandra could here. Eventually, as she listened more closely to what he was saying, she realized that he was talking to the Night Mother herself, he was talking to the coffin.

“He cannot hear me, because he is not the listener,” the voice came from just beside Kyssandra’s head, from INSIDE THE COFFIN.

“GAAAAHHHHH!!!” Kyssandra squealed, as the body beside her began to glow.

“He cannot hear you either, at the moment, this coffin is protected by my magic,” the Night Mother said.

Kyssandra was beating on the door, trying desperately to get it to open, to get out of the cramped quarters.

She could hear Cicero outside, still talking, “ooooooh, did we see a movement? Night mother, are you finally awake?”

“He cannot hear us,” she said again, “he is not the listener. You are my new listener.”
“Wait- what?” Kyssandra stopped beating the door for a second, not sure she had heard that right.
“You. You have come in to warm the bones of this old woman, and I chose you as my new listener. You are the one!”
“No- wait- I-”
“Travel to Volunruud,” The Night Mother continued. “Find Amaund Mortierre. Speak to him.”
“Tell Cicero that darkness rises when silence dies. Go!”

Suddenly the doors released, and Kyssandra fell out of the coffin, almost knocking Cicero over as she ran into him.

“Gah!!!” It was Cicero’s turn to squeal in horror. “What have you done?!! You have defiled the Night Mother!! What were you doing in there?!!”
Astrid burst into the room. “Who was he talking to?!”
Kyssandra just tried to get away from the coffin. “Her!” She pointed at the now non-glowing corpse. “He was talking to her.”
Astrid looked at Cicero and smirked, then back at Kyssandra. “Ok, so he IS crazy then. But you, pull yourself together. it couldn’t have been that bad. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“SHE TALKED TO ME!” Kyssandra yelled, still shaken. “The dead body just talked to me, while I was in there with her!”
Both Astrid and Cicero stared at Kyssandra in disbelief, then immediately started shaking their heads, smirking at HER, now.
“She told me to tell you, ‘darkness rises when silence dies’, or something like that,” Kyssandra said to Cicero.
“What!!!” Cicero looked at Astrid. “Thats the code phrase! The secret phrase, that only I know! The one that signifies the listener! There is no way she could have known that! She is the one!! We have a listener!!!” Cicero started doing one of his patented stupid little jigs.
Kyssandra looked at Astrid. “So what do I do now?” she asked. “She told me to go to Volunruud. Do you know where that is?”
Astrid looked peeved. “I’m still leader of this family… I know where it is, but… let me process this a bit. Just go find Nazir, and see what contracts he has for you.”

Kyssandra gladly exited the room.