Kyssandra's Skyrim Adventures



  • Chapter 19

    “Seriously???”

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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…

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    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.”
    “But…”
    “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.



  • Chapter 20

    “Kyssandra Bright-Sun, Vampire Slayer”

    Kyssandra almost ran out of the room. She had been inside an actual coffin, a coffin with a dead body no less, and if that wasn’t enough, the body spoke to her. She didn’t want to think on it. She made her way to Nazir, as fast as she could.

    As she walked up, Nazir just stared at her.
    “Whats wrong with you?” he asked.
    “Nothing. Just…what do you have for me?” Kyssandra said quickly, "Astrid said to come to you and get some new contracts."
    Nazir chuckled and shook his head. “Somethings up. But yeah, I have two for you. Lurbuk, and Hern. Lurbuk should be pretty easy. He’s a bard, up in Morthal. Not a very good one, from what I hear. Not sure if thats why someone has a contract on him…” Nazir chuckled again. "Anyway, the other one, Hern, might be a little tougher. He’s a vampire-"
    Kyssandra’s head shot up.
    “He’s located at Half Moon Mill, actually not very far from here,” Nazir continued, "His wife, Hart, will most likely be there. She’s a vampire too, they say. You ok with that?
    “Yeah…I’ll take care of it…” Kyssandra mumbled and walked off.

    Kyssandra hated vampires. She was scared to death of the things, and had been ever since she was a child. Although she had heard of them growing up, the ones she had found in the basement of Fellglow Keep the other day were the first ones she had ever come in contact with. Seeing them had not quelled any of her fears. They were as creepy and scary in real life as she had thought. She hated the thought of them, and anything to do with them. She didn’t know how she was going to handle this one.

    Finally, she had exited the brotherhood, into the bright sunlight. She looked at her map. Half moon mill was not very far away, true. She couldn’t do it. Not right now. She needed something to calm her down. She looked at the other direction, it led towards the town of Riverwood. She remembered Camilla, and her brother Lucan, and that golden claw thing that bandits from a hideout called Bleak Falls Barrow had stolen. Kyssandra headed that way. Bandits were far more appealing right now than vampires.

    She took it slowly, tried to relax, admiring the scenery along the way.

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    Finally, she passed through Riverwood, then up the mountain towards the bandit camp. Along the way, she remembered a new spell she had learned during her last visit to the college. The professor had taught it to her, specifically, due to her wanderings in the wild. He had said she was becoming quite proficient with natural things, and taught her how to call certain beings of nature to fight for her. Knowing she was about to have to fight some bandits, Kyssandra decided it was a good time to experiment. She cast the spell, and a cave troll appeared. hooookay, kinda gross, she thought, but once she realized for sure that the troll was under her command, she acknowledged that this could be pretty useful. Especially, after she called the flame atronarch, and it hit her that she could now have two pets fighting for her.

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    Together, Kyssandra and her pets headed up the hill to the barrow. Sure enough, there were bandits outside, but they proved to be no trouble. Kyssandra found the claw in the bandit’s main camp, near the entrance to the ruins. She looked at it carefully. It looked just like the sapphire claw thing that she had messed with back at that other barrow. Now she was curious. Camilla and her brother just wanted the claw back. They didn’t care what it did. Kyssandra decided to explore Bleak Falls Barrow. She knew that the claw had probably never been figured out, so she could explore some hidden ruins, and make some extra gold.

    As she figured, the barrows was interesting, and profitable. It was populated by various types of undead, and traps, but nothing she could not handle.

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    This, to her, was relaxation. Exploring a ruin, where feet had not trod in years, danger, but nothing too hard for her to handle, picking up anything that she found that interested her, with no one else to judge what she should do with it, or split it with. She needed this.

    Eventually, Kyssandra found the end, the throne room, or whatever you may want to call the last big room of a ruin. Something undead, a warlord of some type, came out of the crypt, but she and her atronarch dispatched it quickly. Funny, how these skeletons and undead draughr things did not seem to bother her like vampires did. They were all undead, after all. It must be just the result of her childhood fears that made her so afraid of vampires.

    She shook her head, ‘got to stop dwelling on it’, she thought, as she looked around at the massive room.

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    As she poked around, looting the spoils, in one chest, she found a big cut stone. It was like a giant diamond, but opaque. She picked it up, and almost dropped it, as a voice boomed from everywhere around her.

    “A new hand touches the beacon. You are the one!!”

    “…yeah yeah yeah, join the crowd, whoever you are” Kyssandra said dryly. “I’ll be sure and add you to the list.”

    “Silence!! Hear me and obey!” the voice boomed, A foul darkness has invaded my temple. A darkness you will destroy. I am Merida. Go to my shrine near Solitude, meet me there!"

    “whatever.” Kyssandra shrugged and put the stone in her pack.

    She exited the barrow. It was getting late. She had cleared the entire area, and the ruins, of anything living or undead. Just wanting to be alone, after the day she had been through, Kyssandra decided to just spend the night there, at the bandit camp. It had a campfire, and warm bedrolls.

    Early the next morning, she headed back to Riverwood. Camilla and Lucan were elated to get their golden claw back. Kyssandra did not mention anything about what it would do, or what was behind the door it opened. Camilla made some demure, but inviting suggestions, but Kyssandra declined and took a raincheck. If she left now, she could get back to the college before nightfall. She had found several pieces of armor that she really liked in the ruins, but as a result her pack was overflowing. She took the carriage, and had the items safely stored in her wardrobe by late afternoon.

    Finally, after relaxing in her room for a bit, and eating, Kyssandra was restless again. The sun wasn’t even down yet. She had sold everything that she did not want to keep, and put some extra gold in her strongbox. She was up to 6500 now. On a whim, she checked the portal orb room, to see if there was an orb for Morthal. There was. Without too much thought, she bought a common soul gem, touched the portal, and voila, she appeared in Morthal.

    Since she had not actually been to Morthal before, Kyssandra did not know exactly where she was. She wandered around town for a bit, and finally found the inn. She supposed the inn would be the best place to start looking for a bard. Sure enough, Ludwig, or whatever his name was, was in there. He was a big orc fellow, and just as Nazir had surmised, he was not very good.

    Nazir had said this would be the easiest of the two contracts, but as Kyssandra thought about it, she questioned that. There were no patrons in the inn, but there was staff. She would need to figure out how to do this without witnesses, and that was going to be the hard part. She spoke to the innkeeper, and found that Lurburg, or whoever he was, had a room in the inn, and rarely ever left.

    Not sure how to approach this, Kyssandra rented a room at the inn for the night, then went out and perused the town. While she was here, she talked to folks, and asked around to see if there was anything else she could do for some extra gold. Everyone in this town seemed really superstitious. They heard strange noises at night. A wizard named Fallion, or something, had just arrived in town, and everyone was afraid of him. If they only knew about her, Kyssandra thought… Another fellow had been accused of burning down his house, with his wife and kid in it, and taking up with some town trollop named Alva the day after.

    Kyssandra met the town Jarl, an older, wrinkled lady. She seemed nice enough though. The only work she had, was for Kyssandra to investigate the burned house story. It would be worth some gold, to the Jarl, if an outsider with an objective opinion would investigate, and either prove, or disprove, the husband’s story that he didn’t set the house on fire. Kyssandra obliged. It was extra gold, and it shouldn’t be too hard. She could do this while she bided her time and figured out how to kill the Orc-estra. heh. She made that up herself.

    Kyssandra went up to the house and started by poking through the ashes.

    “Hi there” a voice behind her said, from the corner.
    Kyssandra jumped. She turned and saw a little girl. Then she realized she could see through the little girl. It was a ghost.
    “Why does this keep happening to me?” Kyssandra said aloud.
    “Do you want me to leave?” the little girl said, frowning.
    “no, no, sorry about that.” Kyssandra recanted. even though it was a ghost, it was still a kid. “who are you?”

    Turns out the ghost kid was Helgi, the little girl that had been burned in the fire. Kyssandra asked her if she knew how the fire started, and she did, but she said she would only tell her if she would play hide and seek. Kyssandra would have to find the little ghost sometime after dark.

    Ah well, Kyssandra explored a little bit more around town, then went back to the inn. There were only a few customers. One, that came in, caught her interest. She found out this was Alva, the woman that the husband had taken up with the day after the fire. This woman was very confident, almost overly so, and flirting with everyone. As she approached and tried her luck with Kyssandra, her eyes glowed yellow, briefly. oh no. Kyssandra couldn’t be sure, but she thought that was the same glow she had seen from the vampires she had saw in the bottom of Fellglow Keep. Kyssandra retired to her room, to get some sleep. She would rather go play hide and seek with a ghost, than flirt with a vampire.

    Kyssandra woke up around 2am. The orc bard was still playing. She went outside, and wandered the town, in the darkness. There was a weird fog, that had rolled in, to make it even spookier. Hmmmm, ghosts…spooky fog…Kyssandra thought about it, and found the town graveyard. There was one grave, that had been dug up, it looked like, and- A woman jumped out and attacked Kyssandra. Kyssandra backed up, and instinctively called her atronarch. The atronarch took care of the woman. At some point during the fight, Kyssandra saw the glowing yellow eyes. She had just been attacked by a vampire, in the graveyard. It didn’t really hit her until the fight was over.

    After a few minutes, some random guy ran up. He introduced himself as Thonnir, and the woman that had attacked Kyssandra was his wife, who he thought had run off to join the stormcloaks, for the civil war. Just before she left, she had met with Alva. Ok, this was starting to make sense, Kyssandra thought.

    After Thonnir left, the ghost of the little girl Helgi spoke to Kyssandra again. Kyssandra had found her, she was hiding inside her coffin! imagine that… Anyway, she confirmed that Laelette, Thonnir’s wife, had started the fire. They were both vampires. Laelette had started the fire, and tried to turn Helgi, but had not waited long enough. Interesting, but Kyssandra needed some type of proof, if the jarl was going to pay her. She went back to the inn, but stopped by Alva’s house first. If Alva was indeed a vampire, she was out prowling. Kyssandra thought to try to pick the lock, and search the house. Kyssandra was not very good at lockpicking. As she broke a couple of picks, a guard spoke to her, from the street. He did not arrest her, but told her to stop, and that out of obligation to his job, he was going to put a small bounty of 35 gold on her. It wasn’t considered much, but it would grow if she did anything else against the law. She did not know how long he had been watching her attempts, but he seemed amused enough to go easy on her.

    Kyssandra went back to the inn. Lurburk had finally stopped playing. Everyone was in bed. Now was her chance. She crept quietly into Lurbick’s room. As she watched him sleep, she tried to figure out how would be the best way to kill him, and not wake up everyone else. She would be incriminated if it went wrong, and even one person woke and saw her in here. Then she WOULD be taken to jail. hmmm… She remembered that she had some poison in her pack, that she had found, some extract of lotus. She got the poison from her pack, and decided to see if she could just pour it in Lurbik’s open mouth as he snored.

    As Kyssandra started to pour, the orc turned slightly. She splashed most of the poison on the side of his face. He awoke. “huh?..what are you…” It must have set in what she was doing, because he jumped up, and started attacking her. Kyssandra ran out into the main room, then out into the street, all the while with the orc attacking her. Out in the town, she was finally able to cast her atronarch, and win the fight. Well, it was not pretty, but it was done. Lurbuk’s body lay on the dock beside her. She nonchalantly kicked it off side, into the water below. She looked up and saw the guard staring at her.

    Kyssandra sighed. “Are you going to arrest me now?” she asked.
    “No,” the guard shrugged. “from what I saw, he was attacking you first. self defense is what it looked like to me. Besides, he wasn’t very good. Go back to your room.”

    Kyssandra hurried back, taking advantage of this, and sleep the rest of the night.

    The next morning, Kyssandra had decided to head out of town. She really wanted nothing to do with fighting any more vampires, even though the next contract called for it. Before leaving, she suddenly had one more thought. She did have one potion of invisibility that she had bought somewhere. She hated leaving gold on the table. If she could just find one shred of proof…it was daylight now. Alva should be safely asleep in her coffin, if legends were to be believed. She went to Alva’s house, and drank the potion. Invisible, Kyssandra was able to stand and break as many lockpicks as it took, until she finally got the door open. Inside the house, she did not waste any time. She hurriedly searched for something, anything. Downstairs, Alva lay asleep, in her coffin. Beside her, was what appeared to be a journal. Kyssandra picked it up. Alva stirred. Kyssandra ran.

    Kyssandra ran out of the house, through the street, all the way to the town hall where the jarl lived. She did not stop, nor look back to see if Alva was following. She wanted to be inside the town hall, with the jarl’s guards, if a vampire attacked her. Once she got inside, she finally looked at the journal. Sure enough, it detailed that Alva and Laelette were vampires, that Alva had convinced Laelette to set the fire to the house, and Alva had spelled the husband into coming to live at her house to protect her. 'Which he obviously wasn’t doing too good a job at," Kyssandra thought, because she had yet to even see or notice him. The journal also detailed the reasons behind all this. Just out of town, there was a master vampire, named Movarth, in a cave, that had plans to take over and turn the entire town into vampires.

    Kyssandra showed the journal to the jarl. Idgrod, the older jarl, greatly appreciated this. She rewarded Kyssandra handsomely with 600 gold. She was appalled though at the fact that Movarth was going to turn the entire town into his personal little playground though. “Please, please,” she pleaded with Kyssandra, “go destroy this monster. I will reward you even more, and you will have the entire town’s thanks.” Kyssandra took her leave. She fully planned to head out. quickly. She wanted no part of messing with a master vampire. The regular ones were bad enough.

    On the way out, Kyssandra ran into a pretty girl, about her age, coming down the stairs. It was the jarl’s daughter, Idgrod the young, she said her name was. Kyssandra talked to her briefly. Nice girl. and pretty. Idgrod said that she had been having visions, that she could speak to dead people. Knowing that Kyssandra had helped so far, and what she had done, she quietly asked Kyssandra if she could go speak to the new wizard, Fallion, on her behalf. The townspeople were afraid of him, and she didn’t want the drama that would ensue if she visited him. Kyssandra said she would talk to him. But she really just wanted to get out of this hall, and this town, before that vampire attacked it.

    No such luck was to be had. As Kyssandra exited the town hall, a mob had formed outside. Apparently word had traveled fast in the small town, presumably from the guards inside. The mob wanted to go attack the vampire’s lair. They would have nothing of her leaving. Since she was the one that discovered this, she should accompany them. Before she knew what was happening, Kyssandra was running along, on the trail north. Oddly, as they ran, the mob seemed to get smaller. When they arrived at the vampire’s cave, only five remained. Four of them panicked and ran away. Kyssandra was left standing with Thonnir, the man she had met in the graveyard last night. He was determined to avenge his wife. Kyssandra sighed. She could not believe she was doing this.

    Inside the cave, the first thing they encountered, was a couple of frost spiders. After they dealt with them, Kyssandra told Thonnir to hold up a moment. She cast the atronarch, then called forth a cave troll. This was going to take everything she had, to survive. So then, they proceeded on into the cave. Kyssandra and her small army.

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    It was not long before they reached the main room. This was not extensive ruin, like Bleak Falls. It was a small cave, a lair. They had taken out two or three vampire thralls along the way, and it was not easy. Kyssandra, hidden in the shadows, with her pets behind her, looked into the room, and she could see the master vampire sitting at the head of the long table. There were several other vampires milling about the room, she didn’t know for sure how many. In the shadows, it was hard to tell. This fight was not going be winnable. She decided to turn around and get out. The master vampire suddenly looked up straight at her and smiled. Uh oh. He got up and started walking slowly towards her.

    Fighting the urge to be paralyzed with fear, Kyssandra started to turn and bolt. She knew, now spotted, she wouldn’t make it out alive. She was going to be a vampire, her worst fear. What could she do, what spell did she possibly have, that could help? If she only had an I win spell, something so big…wait! she did!! She suddenly remembered, it wasn’t a spell, but she did have a scroll. She could not remember where she had acquired it, if she had bought it, or if she had looted it from one of the ruins she had explored. But she quickly, without taking time to think, pulled out the scroll called Wizardfire, and read it. She had not used it so far, because of the description. It said it would cause a massive fireball, which could easily backfire and engulf the caster, if it were cast in a small space, or near a wall that it could bounce off of. This was not a small space. Kyssandra read the scroll, and the entire room suddenly filled with blue flame.

    That was that. Everything in the room had been killed, in one feel swoop. Kyssandra sat in the chair, at the head of Movarth’s table, gazing down at his charred, but now fully dead body, breathing heavily, trying to calm down, trying not to throw up. Was it sheer luck? Or was it thoughtful preparation of not using a scroll until you absolutely needed it? Whatever it was, she had just taken down a master vampire.

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  • Chapter 21

    “Walking on Sunshine”

    Kyssandra took a few moments to calm down. She had just faced one of her greatest fears, and won. She had killed the master vampire, and by herself. She wasn’t even sure where the rest of her small force even was. The atronarch had most likely dispelled by now, she thought the troll may have been killed, and Thonnir was conveniently lagging way behind, last she had seen him.

    Well, no reason not to make this profitable. Kyssandra began to help herself to whatever loot she could find.

    The cave was actually larger than she initially thought it was. As she turned the corner into one room, Kyssandra was surprised by another vampire, hiding in the shadows. She was able to summon her atronarch, and survive this fight by hiding and letting the pet do most of the work. She searched the room, then meandered farther into the cave, cautiously. She had not gone very far, when she spotted yet another vampire up ahead. This one she recognized. It was the woman Alva, from town. At this point, Kyssandra made the decision to turn around. Killing a master vampire had done nothing to assuage her fear and distaste of them. She had done what was asked of her, and probably a little more. To the nine with the rest of the vile things, she was done here.

    As she got back to the entrance of the cave, she did indeed find Thonnir. He made up some lame story about why he was back there, but Kyssandra figured he was just scared.
    But there was another nice surprise, just as Kyssandra got to the exit, the little ghost girl, Helgi, appeared, and thanked Kyssandra for what she had done. Helgi said she could rest easy now.

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    Back at town, Kyssandra stopped by the town hall, and collected her reward from the thankful jarl. Jarl Ingridol or whatever her name was, paid rather handsomely. She told Kyssandra that she was considering making her a thane. Kyssandra still did not exactly understand what that was, but it sounded good.

    Remembering the task for the younger jarl, Kyssandra decided to go visit the wizard Fallion while she was here. His door was locked, even though it was the middle of the day. Kyssandra was not about to barge in on a friendly fellow wizard, so she decided to head on out and do something else. The next nearest town was Solitude. She could head over there and see if there was any more work. As she was thinking of this, Kyssandra suddenly remembered those bastards that had tricked her into putting out the lighthouse light so they could rob a ship. They had set her up, then tried to kill her when she showed up for her part of the take. Oh yeah, that would be something she could do, she had found a journal with the location of their hideout on it.

    Kyssandra studied her map. The bandits’ hideout was north of Solitude. She was not very far away, she realized, from the abandoned little shack that Astrid had taken her to in the middle of the night when they first met. She remembered the next morning, how long it had taken to walk all the way around the water to the nearest bridge, and back to Solitude. Ah, if she could only walk across the water, it wouldn’t be so long of a trip.

    And then she remembered. A while back, she had bought two spells on a whim. Water walk, and Weaken gravity. They were utility spells, and she had honestly forgotten about them, until just now. Kyssandra headed north to the coast.

    Just a short time later, Kyssandra stood on the bank of the inlet. She had climbed down the rocks to the water’s edge. Just across the bay, she could see the city of Solitude. She cast the water walking spell on herself and stepped gingerly into the water. It seemed to be working so far. At the shore, the water was only inches deep, but she was not touching the bottom. She took a couple of tentative steps. Ok, this felt weird. It was like walking on a sponge. But…it was working. It was scary, yet exhilarating, knowing that magic was the only thing between her and the frigid, deadly depths of the water. Kyssandra knew from experience that as long as she concentrated, she would be able to sense when the spell was getting ready to lapse, and she could just recast it. But she hurried across the lake anyway.

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    After climbing up the bank on the other side, Kyssandra studied her map. The bandits were located at a cave, called Broken Oar Grotto. It was still a good ways away. She followed the path, which was a bit lengthy, but she wanted to make sure she found it. Once inside, she realized this was a huge cavern, where the ocean had seeped in. It was dark and dreary, a strange mix of platforms built into the rocks, and shipwrecks which had been made into living spaces.

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    Kyssandra wasted no time sightseeing here. Bandit guards were at the first platform, near the entrance. Kyssandra summoned the atronarch, and thought about the bandit that tricked her, Jaree Ra, or whatever his name had been. He had tricked her, then told his sister to kill her if she was stupid enough to come claim her reward. “Well, we will see who is the stupid one, Jaree”, Kyssandra thought to herself. She proceed to methodically lay waste to the place, killing every bandit she came across.

    Jaree wasn’t actually too hard of a kill, he ran when he saw her coming. There was another bandit, a captain, apparently the leader, that was a little tough, but soon he was as dead as his crew. Kyssandra took what she wanted, and claimed her rewards, then headed out.

    Outside the cave, it was now dark. Kyssandra figured she would just head to Solitude and spend the night there. The path from Solitude to the cave had taken quiet a while though. Now that she knew where she was, it would actually cut out a considerable amount of time, if Kyssandra could just go the other way back. The problem was, there was a rocky cliff, and you could not climb it. The only way around it would have been to sail around it in a boat.
    Or…water walking to the rescue! Kyssandra cast her new spell, and simply walked around the cliff, out on the water, and voila!, she had just cut out about an hour’s worth of walking through dark woods.

    The pathway back to Solitude was just like last time she had walked it. It was DARK. There were no lanterns spaced at intervals on this path, like other road in Skyrim. Kyssandra had actually prepared for this, she had taken a torch from the cave she had ransacked. It did not do very much good, but it helped enough to see the path below her feet, and when it turned. Eventually she made it back to Solitude. She went to the Winking Skeever Inn, and rented a room. The rest of the night was spent unwinding from these strange stress filled days, in drinking and debauchery.


    Early the next morning, Kyssandra awoke. She really didn’t have a plan for what to do next, but that was quickly decided for her. A messenger was waiting downstairs in the inn when she came down to get some breakfast. Falk Firebeard, of the castle royalty had heard through the grapevine that she was back, and had sent for her. Actually, they had been waiting for her return it seemed. Kyssandra ate, and headed over to the palace.

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    As soon as Kyssandra reached the top step, the shouting stared. A man approached her and started shouting about her being a necromancer. Someone else told him to calm down, they did not know for sure. Kyssandra did not really know where this was coming from, until someone mentioned that she had spoken to the ghost of King Torygg.

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    “Is it true? Is it true that you summoned the ghost of my dear husband?” Jarl Elisif asked earnestly.
    “M’lady,” Kyssandra tried to be respectful, "I didn’t intentionally summon anyone. I simply did what you asked of me. I took the war horn to a shrine of Talos, and…he appeared. And yes, I did talk to him."
    Elisif seemed to relax, as there were gasps from the crowd.
    “What? What did he say?”
    “umm…” Kyssandra looked around, "I…umm…I think that’s something perhaps we should talk about when others are not present…"
    There were more shouts, of necromancy, plots against the queen, and various other things that Kyssandra didn’t pay attention to.
    Elisif nodded.
    “I shall think on this,” she said. “Everyone, back to your jobs!” To Kyssandra she said, “I think Falk wants to talk to you.” Then, under her breath, as people were going back to their places, she whispered, “Come to my chambers, after midnight, sometime when you can. Be discreet. We will talk then.”

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    Kyssandra nodded, then went and talked to Falk Firebeard. He was the one that had sent her to the ritual where a cult was trying to resurrect the wolf queen.

    “It seems that the problem is not completely solved,” Falk said, “The wolf queen is still trying to rise.”
    “Oh?” Kyssandra didn’t know what else to say.
    “Yes. Since you were the only adventurer brave enough to go confront the cult, and since you defeated them, I would be most appreciative if you could follow up on this and put a stop to whatever sorcery is going on. Also, it may help you with these folks that are against you, that think you are out to get Elisif.” Falk added.
    “Oh, I don’t care about them,” Kyssandra shook her head slightly and smirked. "They mean nothi-"
    Falk cut her off.
    “But she does. I’ve seen how Elisif looks at you. I’ve also noticed that you do not seem to mind. Gain favor with her court, and you may find yourself in a position that may be advantageous to you, in many ways… Now, I implore you, go see the priest Styrr, in the Hall of the Dead. He will inform you of what is going on.”

    Kyssandra went to see Styrr. The Hall of the Dead wasn’t hard to find, it was under the chapel. Styrr told her that this wolf queen woman, that the cult had been trying to summon, was actually Potema Septim, yes, one of THE Septim family. She was a queen, powerful and treacherous, evil, and a noted necromancer. She was apparently hated and feared even after death. The cult had been trying to bring this back. Styrr wanted Potema’s remains, so he could bless them, and try to counteract the summoning. He was, however, afraid to go down to where they were, due to all the undead running around down there. He gave Kyssandra a turn undead spell, to help.

    “Ummm…what kind of undead are we talking about?” Kyssandra asked.
    “Powerful ones,” Styrr answered, his eyes wide. “This is Potema’s doings, things she has summoned from beyond the grave to guard her remains until she can get back. Draugr, Vampires, an-”
    “Tell you what” Kyssandra held up her hand, “Let me think about it. I’ll give it some thought and get back to you.”

    Kyssandra exited the Hall of the Dead, and the city. Vampires. Why did vampires have to be everywhere!

    She wandered down the path, going nowhere in particular, her mind wandering. She pulled out her map, to see where the road may take her next, of if there were anything of interest around. ‘Oh! hey, look at that,’ she thought. She was right almost beside the Shrine to Merida, a daedric prince of life. Back in Bleak Falls Barrow, when Kyssandra had picked up that strange looking stone, a voice claiming to be Merida herself had boomed out, asking her to take the stone to this very shrine. Kyssandra was not really up on daedric knowledge, but she did remember that Merida represented life, and hated undead. Kyssandra could quite well identify with that right about now. Since she was right here almost in the shadow of the shrine, may as well take it up there.

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    Kyssandra climbed the steps, and approached the shrine. The voice, presumably Merida, rang out again, thanking Kyssandra for bringing the beacon to the shrine, and asked her to place it on the statue. Kyssandra shrugged and obliged.

    “GAAAAAHHHHHH” Kyssandra screamed in surprise as she suddenly began floating up into the sky.

    Up in the air she went, shooting like a rocket, until she found herself high above the land, floating, talking to a ball of pure light.

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    Merida spoke to Kyssandra, but Kyssandra didn’t remember the exact conversation. She did remember flapping her arms about, and flailing wildly, because she was floating hundreds of feet in the air! It was something having to do with a necromancer defiling Merida’s temple, and she needed someone to go defeat him. Kyssandra declined, she had had enough of necromancers and undead for the time being. Merida promised her she could have any gold or items she found laying around on corpses in the temple. No, not worth it at the moment, Kyssandra had replied.

    “Do you hate the undead?” Merida asked.
    “YES! why do you think I don’t want to go cleanse your stupid temple!” Kyssandra shouted, still flailing.
    “If you cleanse my temple, you can also have a great artifact that is there at the end.”
    “Yeah, well, lots of great artifacts are around, it seems,” Kyssandra replied.
    "This one is a very powerful sword. It is specifically designed to kill the undead. Like vampires."
    Kyssandra stopped flailing and perked up.
    “ok, you got me, I’m in.” she said. “Now put me down.”

    Safely on the ground, Kyssandra looked up at the statue, now holding the stone she had put at its feet. Funny, the stone seemed a lot bigger now, than it was when she picked it up and put it in her pack.

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    Shrugging, she went into the temple.

    Down in the temple, there was a strange beam of light coming from a hole in the ceiling. Suddenly, she realized, that she was directly underneath the statue. The beam of light was coming from the stone above, being projected straight down here. She remembered now, more of the conversation in the sky, where Merida had told her there would be pedestals around, and she would have to activate these pedestals to make a stone within them come up. The stone would catch the light beam from Merida’s beacon stone, above, and direct it to the next stone. Kyssndra tried it, with the pedestal that the light was shining towards, and sure enough, it worked.

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    So Kyssandra made her way through the temple, killing various undead that were there, and activating pedestals. The undead she encountered here, were not that bad, mainly just skeletons, shades, and draugrs, little things compared to what she had seen in the last two days. The light beam continued, inside, outside, and back in again.

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    One thing about this temple, Merida was not kidding around when she told Kyssandra she could have any gold she could find. Almost every corpse she ran across had gold, and lots of it. She continued through, increasingly admiring the intricate light puzzle she was constructing.

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    Finally, Kyssandra reached the end, and found the necromancer in question. His name was something that started with an M. He summoned a lot of shades to defend him. Kyssandra summoned her flame atronarch and the cave troll. Eventually, her army beat his.

    Merida thanked Kyssandra and told her to take the sword, and use it well.
    It was called Dawnbreaker.
    ‘Nice,’ Kyssandra thought, she had a sword with a name now.
    …that killed vampires.



  • Chapter 22

    “Adept”

    So now Kyssandra had a cool sword that could supposedly make it easier to kill vampires. (and other undead). The first thing she had noticed about it when she had picked it up, was that it was heavy. Kyssandra had never used a sword before other than playing around with one, or stabbing someone like the headmistress of that orphanage once. She had noticed that warriors always seemed fit, but it had not occurred to her that these weapons were just so heavy. Also, this temple had been very profitable. Merida had said it would be. But it was far more than she had expected. She had a LOT of gold. Her pack was simply more than she could bear carrying, other than at a slow walk.

    She exited the temple, and it was already dark, just after sunset. She walked up to the ledge, and looked down. If she could just get down the side of the cliff, she wouldn’t have to lug that heavy pack all the way around and down the trail. Thinking to herself how useful the Water Walk spell had been, Kyssandra took a chance on the other utility spell she had purchased that day, Weaken Gravity. She cast it on herself and her pack. This was the scary part. Taking a deep breath, she jumped.

    Sure enough, the spell did exactly what it was supposed to do. Gravity was weakened, and Kyssandra and her pack floated slowly down from the ledge, to the path below. She then drank one of her two strength potions, which enhanced her strength enough that she could easily jog back to Solitude with her full pack. Magic wasn’t all about destruction. Kyssandra was learning that it could also make her life vastly easier.

    Kyssandra headed back to the Winking Skeever. There was no drinking or otherwise tonight. She was tired, and headed straight to her room. Along the way, up on the balcony, there was one small incident of note. Kyssandra ran into the inn’s bard, Lisette, with whom she had drank and otherwised with the night before. At this moment though, Lisette was having a confrontation with Erikur, the man from the court that had accused Kyssandra of being a necromancer, and started the whole shouting match. Apparently Erikur was trying to get Lisette to spend some “time” with him, and she did not want to. He wasn’t forcing himself upon her or anything, he was just acting like the Nine’s gift to women everywhere, and was pissed off because Lisette was not having anything to do with him. Kyssandra stopped and watched, just to make sure that was all that happened. When Erikur noticed this, he blustered around for a bit more, then left. Kyssandra asked Lisette if there was anything she could learn about this guy, or the rest of the court. Lisette told her, that there probably was, but she did not trust anyone that was not in her inner circle enough to tell. Kyssandra tried to ask playfully how to get into that circle. Lisette replied simply, to join the bard’s college. The only people she trusted completely where her fellow bards. Kyssandra doubted that would ever happen, as she couldn’t sing a lick, or play anything, so she just excused herself and headed on to her room.

    The next morning, Kyssandra lugged her pack down to the carriage drivers. None of the carriages were headed to Winterhold, or anywhere close. She needed to at least be close enough to walk there slowly, with this heavy of a pack. She only had one strength potion left, and they only lasted about five minutes. After hearing her options, she finally decided on Markarth. It was further away, but she did know where the portal was, there. She was taking the chance that someone there in the city would have a soul gem for sale that was powerful enough to power up the portal and get her back to the college. The driver helped her heave her pack into the carriage, and off they went.

    In Markarth, fortune smiled upon her. The thugs that had been after her last time she was there, were nowhere around. The general goods store not only had a soul gem for sale, they also bought a good bit of her loot, and she ended up with even more gold than she started with. As a result, Kyssandra’s pack was even heavier now. She drank her last strength potion, and trudged up the steep hills, all the way to the portal at the top of the city. Once there, she stepped onto it, and activated the soul gem, and with a shimmer of the air, she was back in the familiar room of the college at Winterhold.

    Kyssandra went to her room, and emptied her pack. She stored the armor and clothes she wanted to keep in her wardrobes, then counted her gold. Between what she had saved in her strongbox, and what she had in her pack, she had amassed over ten thousand gold. It was enough to move to the next semester! She immediately took it to Jorham, who looked at her incredulously.

    “Ok, I don’t want to know what unsavory things you have probably been up to, to amass all this gold, but…congratulations, you are the second of your class to advance.” He said, smiling.
    “Second?” Kyssandra asked, “and…unsavory?”
    “Second.” Jorham nodded. “J’zargo has already advanced. From what I hear, you actually may have advanced before him, but he had money and you did not. Hence, unsavory. You are the only one here that came here with no financial support from their town, or mommy and daddy. You are the only one that is going out and actually earning your gold. I know you can’t make this kind of gold, in this short of time, doing farm work. So I don’t want to know. Just, accept our congratulations, you are no longer apprentice. I bestow upon you the title of adept. Go pick up your packet, I think you have new spell tomes.”

    Kyssandra was excited. She headed over the the class area, to see what new spells she could learn, and listen to any required lectures. As she opened the doors, she stopped short. There was the big giant Saarthal ball that she had found. It looked…different. Bigger? perhaps. evolved? definitely. something had changed.

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    Shaking her head, she went around to talk to Tolfdir. She couldn’t believe they were keeping this thing in here, still not knowing exactly what it did. Tolfdir gave Kyssandra her new spells. One in particular caught her eye, Chain Lightening. She had grown quite fond of her Lightening spell. This was a better version of it, that would hit multiple targets. She then had to listen to a required lecture. At least she thought thats what it was. Tolfdir droned on and on about the Saarthal ball, and other things of magic. But she couldn’t half hear what he was saying because of all the noise from the spells being practiced by the other students at the moment, and what she could actually hear, was boring.

    Right around this time, Ancano, the Arch Mage’s advisor showed up. Ancano had heard that Kyssandra was back, she was to report to the Arch Mage’s quarters immediately. Tolfdir attempted to object, but Ancano said that someone from the Psiijic Order had come to the Arch Mage and asked for Kyssandra by name. Kyssandra was glad to get away from the boring lecture, and gladly obliged Ancano by following him to the Arch Mage’s quarters.

    As Kyssandra was ushered in, before anyone could speak, everything turned a weird shade of white.

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    “Greetings” said the man before her, "I am Quaranir, of the Psiijic Order."
    Kyssandra looked around her. He had stopped time. She and he were the only ones moving. “hoooooo-kay…”
    “I have come to find you.” Quaranir continued, “The Eye of Magnus is-”
    “You mean the big glowing ball in the middle of the room we found in Saarthal?” Kyssandra interrupted.
    “Yes.” Quaranir seemed to sigh. "The big glowing ball you found is called the Eye of Magnus. It is very dangerous-"
    Kyssandra snorted. "You don’t say. I can’t believe they are keeping it down there. What does it do?“
    Quaranir seemed to sigh again. “We do not know. We cannot discern that. But it is dangerous to have it here, and it is only going to get more dangerous. You have got to stop them, and do something about this, before it becomes too late.” he said.
    “ME?” Kyssandra asked. “Why always me? Why is it up to me to prevent them from blowing themselves up?”
    “Well, two reasons, from our perspective,” Quaranir tilted his head, “First, you WERE the one that unearthed the thing-”
    “Noted.”
    ”-And second, you, in our opinion, are the only one here that seems to have sense enough to believe that it IS actually dangerous to have the Eye here."
    Kyssandra thought for a moment, somewhat humbled.
    “Ok,” she said, “what do I do”
    “Don’t know exactly” Quaranir replied, “All we can discern at the moment is that you should seek out the Augar of Dunlain, whatever that is, and go from there. And don’t let them know what you are up to, they will try to stop you. Ok, here we go!”

    Before Kyssandra could say anything else, there was a flash of light, and time restarted.

    “Ok, here she is, what do you want” Ancano was saying.
    “Oh dear, my apologies,” Quaranir said, " I do think I have made a mistake! I am so sorry to bother you fine folk."

    Several other pleasantries were exchanged, most of them not very pleasant, and Quaranir made excuses and left. Kyssandra was told to go back to class, leaving the Arch Mage and Ancano furiously trying to figure out what Quaranir was up to.

    Kyssandra proceeded to ask around about the Augar of Dunlain. Finally, Tolfdir was the one that seemed to know about him. It was someone that was hidden, or residing, down in the Midden. This was some kind of a sub basement under the college. Tolfdir also told her that if she headed down there, to be careful. It was not a nice, or safe place, it seemed.

    Kyssandra found a stairway leading down, and eventually found this Midden. Tolfdir was right. It was dark and creepy.

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    It was quite like the various barrows and dungeons the she had been in, and there were a few hostile creatures down here, but nothing she could not handle.

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    There were however, strange sights along the way. Altars, relics, and rooms that seemed to have weird uses.

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    Finally Kyssandra found him. The Auger of Dunlain. She never thought to ask about him, or his origin. Perhaps it was from just talking the day before with Merida, in the sky, but she just accepted that it was normal to be talking to a big glowing being made of light. Perhaps she was becoming too used to this stuff.

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    The Auger informed Kyssandra that she was not the only one that had been down here questioning him. Apparently Ancano and many others had come. But he didn’t like or trust them. Apparently she was on his good list though. He told her that the Eye was indeed very dangerous, and she needed to find the Staff of Magnus, to control it. She was the only one he had told this too, and she should only tell the Arch Mage.

    Back up in the college proper, Kyssandra found the Arch Mage, by himself now, staring at the Eye of Magnus, in the main room. She told Savos what the Auger had told her. The Arch Mage did not seem impressed. Kyssandra turned on the charm, as she knew he was already a bit smitten with her. After some “convincing”, he still wasn’t sure that he believed all this, but he was impressed that she had found and talked to the Auger, on her own. He told her to seek out Mirabelle for more information on the staff, and he gave her a present, a small token, he said. It was a circlet to wear, that filled five soul gems in her possession per day. Now this was something she knew she could use, given that the portal room used soul gems!

    Kyssandra found Mirabelle in the Library. Before she could say much, Mirabelle took her aside, and kissed Kyssandra right there in everyone’s view. Mirabelle said they could continue researching the “magic” they had been studying the other night, anytime. Kyssandra passed on that at the moment, but thought to herself that this was certainly going to start some rumors. She asked about the staff of Magnus. Mirabelle told her that the only thing she knew about it, was some bunch of mages from a group called the Synod, that had came through a while back, that were asking a lot of questions about it. She didn’t know anything else, other than there were headed to the ruins of Mzulflt, on the other side of Riften.

    Kyssandra thanked her, and headed back to her room. There was nothing else to do, it was too late to head out, so she laid down for a nap. About midnight, she woke up. Laying there in bed, not being able to get back to sleep, she remembered what seemed like many nights ago now. The Jarl of Winterhold had told her to come by his room sometime discreetly after midnight, and he would make her thane. As Kyssandra lay there thinking, she contemplated more and more the power that she could have, if the Arch Mage, the master wizard, and the Jarl of the local town, were all enthralled by her charms. She still did not know what a thane was, so she got up, found one of her textbooks, and looked it up. A thane was a very respected and highly honored position in Skyrim, bestowed by the Jarl’s for various deeds, usually heroic. Thanes were typically revered, given one or more of honorary weapons, the ability to own land, personal assistants, and any bounty could be forgiven. Kyssandra put on some nice clothes and snuck down to the Jarl’s house, and became a thane of Winterhold that very night.

    Back in her room, later, Kyssandra really didn’t know what she would do with the honorary sword that she had received from the Jarl. It honestly did not look like much and did not impress her. She put it in her heirloom dresser, with some other weapons and aritifacts that she had collected, and there it would most likely stay. It wasn’t near as nice as the named sword Dawnbreaker, that she had received from Merida’s temple. Although still in her dress and heels, from her rendezvous with the Jarl, she drew Dawnbreaker from its sheath, and felt its weight.

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    It was heavy, but she practiced with it for the rest of the night, until she was too sleepy to stay awake. She decided she would try to get used to, and carry this one.



  • Chapter 23

    “Trolls and Skeevers”

    Kyssandra decided it was time. She had practiced with Dawnbreaker to the point that she didn’t think she could do any better unless she was truly using it. She had practiced her spells until she was tired of practicing. She did not think that Nazir or Astrid would give her any more dark brotherhood contracts until she had finished the ones she had. It was time to face her fears and go kill a vampire.

    She got up early in the morning, stocked up with some food, and headed to the portal room. This thing was very handy. She teleported to Falkreath, and from there it was only a short distance. She arrived at half moon mill, the lair of the vampire, before 10am.

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    Kyssandra actually recognized the place, as it was right on the path, and she had traveled by it several times back and forth from the sanctuary. She approached cautiously, trying to take in every detail. She was supposed to kill the vampire, and chances are his wife would join in the fight, Nazir had said. She was also reported to be a vampire. Kyssandra found both of them in the sawmill.

    They glanced at her, then kept working. Kyssandra realized, that until she made any moves otherwise, to them, she was probably just a young innocent girl traveling the path, curious about the mill, or maybe even a potential customer. She had the element of surprise here, but she was going to have to do what she needed to do quickly, with no hesitation or conversation to retain that. She edged as close as she could, trying to appear the curious traveler.

    Fearing the time was nigh, Kyssandra took a deep breath, and started the process. She had a plan, and she hoped that it would have some semblance of working. She had mentally prepared herself for the worst. She started by summoning her flame atronarch, then she immediately summoned the cave troll that her magic helm allowed. This drew the attention of the two vampires, as she had expected, but they had not put two and two together. They merely looked perplexed, trying to figure out what she was doing. Kyssandra knew by now that neither of her pets would attack anything unless she attacked first, or was attacked. So, before the vampires could figure it out, she drew Dawnbreaker from its sheath and ran up the sawmill ramp towards the male vampire, the one the contract was on. All practicing and envisioning of herself as a master sword fighter aside, in the heat of the moment, all she really knew how to do was run towards the vampire, leading with the sword held in front of her, and sticking it into his side. Then she turned and ran like crazy.

    Kyssandra jumped off the side of the ramp, somehow managed to not lose her footing, and ran behind her advancing pets. She knew the sword had done something, she had felt the magic emanate from it as she had struck, and she could hear the chaos behind her as her pets maneuvered around her and took up the fight. When she finally turned around, she saw the male vampire running toward her, rage in his eyes. She brought Dawnbreaker up at the last moment, and unable to stop, he impaled himself upon it. The magic flowed from the sword again, and suddenly he fell limp, and crumpled to the ground.

    Suddenly, all was quiet. Kyssandra looked around for the female, and saw her body laying over on the sawmill ramp. Had it really been this easy? Two vampires downed by a fledgling mage, two pets, and two hits from a magic sword? Somehow Kyssandra did not think all her battles would be this easy. She thanked her lucky stars and breathed a sigh of relief.

    After scrounging around to see if there was anything of value she could take, Kyssandra was ready to head back to the sanctuary and collect her reward, since it was not far down the path. She then realized something that she had not thought of. The flame atronarch seemed to be on a set time when she summoned it, it would stay a while, then go back to whatever dimension it came from. The cave troll, however was different. It apparently stayed with her, until it was killed. She had no idea how to dispatch this thing. She now had a pet cave troll that was apparently going to follow her until it met its match. She wondered how this was going to go in the villages.

    As she headed out, a neighbor approached. The neighbor had recognized that Kyssandra was some sort of adventurer, and had seen her passing by several times, so surmised she may be back. The woman just wanted Kyssandra to retrieve a valuable book of hers, and bring it back, if she was near this way again. Kyssandra really did not know what the book was, it was some kind of book written by a friend of hers. The neighbor woman said it had been taken from her, and she had recently heard that her book been spotted in Ivarstead and the man that had took it had set up some type of shrine to the author, thinking she was some type of goddess. But she wasn’t. If Kyssandra was that way, could she look around in the area, and if she found it, and was back this way, would she bring it back?

    This seemed kind of strange, but Kyssandra said she would check into it if she had time. Then she looked around and saw that her troll had made friends with the woman’s chicken.

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    Kyssandra got back to the sanctuary. It was still well before lunch. Thankfully, her troll would not fit through the door.

    Inside, Astrid approached her. Astrid had thought it over, and had decided that Kyssandra should do what the Night Mother had asked, and go to Volunruud, and find this Amaund Motierre. Astrid did not know what was happening, but since it was pretty apparent the Night Mother had spoken to Kyssandra, they should at least see what would happen next, if the request was complied with. Kyssandra went to Nazir, collected her payment for the contracts, and headed back out, with her troll close behind.

    It took most of the day to reach Volunruud. Astrid had marked it on her map, it was north of Whiterun. The troll expired along the way, saving her from the hands of a bandit attack. Inside the dungeon, Kyssandra looked around. It was a pretty typical dungeon, like the others she had been in. In a room off to the left, she sensed movement. She crept up to the doorway, and there were two men inside a naturally hewn room in the cavern. It looked like they had been living in there. They looked up as she approached, and drew their weapons.

    “…I’m looking for…Armaund Motierre?” Kyssandra asked, suddenly wishing her troll was still with her.
    “Who wants to know?” one of the men asked suspiciously, still brandishing his sword.
    Taking a chance, Kyssandra said, “I am Kyssandra. I’m from the Dark Brotherhood. We-”
    “By the nine, it actually worked?!!” the man exclaimed. He put his sword away. “I’m Armaund,” he continued, “and this is Rexus. I can’t believe it actually worked!”
    “what worked?” Kyssandra asked. “what are you talking about?”
    “The black sacrament!” Armaund motioned over to a natural alcove in the rock, where Kyssandra could see the same type of altar set up with candles and things that the kid in Windhelm had done. "We did it just like the book said to do, told no one, and have been hiding in this cave ever since, and here you are!"
    At this point Kyssandra was just as surprised as they were, given that the only way she even knew to come here was from being told to do so by a corpse.
    “ahem…yes…” she tried to hid her own amazement, “so…what can we do for you?”
    “Well, we have a job for your organization. a contract.” Armaund said.
    “Well, thats sort of what we specialize in.” Kyssandra said, “You just need to let us know who you want dead, and any info you have on them.”
    “We want you to kill the emperor. As far as information, you ca-”
    “Wait- what??” Kyssandra balked.
    “The emperor. We want you to kill the emperor.”
    “of…Tamriel?” Kyssandra couldn’t believe she was hearing this correctly.
    “Yes, of Tamriel. How many other emperors do you know of?” Armaund looked at her like she was daft.
    "That…will probably be pretty expensive, you know that right?"
    Armaund sighed. “Ah, I get it, you must be just the errand girl. Here, take this letter back to your superiors, it will explain everything, and how it needs to be done, in detail.” Rexus strode forward and handed a sealed letter and an amulet to Kyssandra. “And this amulet, this should be worth more then enough to pay you, or at least a good start.”

    Kyssandra decided not to dally. She had briefly considered exploring the rest of this dungeon for any gold to be had, upon entering, but now she decided she probably needed to get this information back to Astrid as soon as possible. Back outside, the sun was already setting.

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    She had no desire to run all the way to Falkreath, to the sanctuary, in the dark, but she could probably make it to Whiterun. It still was not quite dark when she got to Whiterun, so she pressed on to Riverwood. Night had fallen, so Kyssandra looked up her new friend Camilla Valerius, and shared the evening with her.

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    Early, early in the morning, before dawn, Kyssandra had headed out. She loved the path from Riverwood to Falkreath, it was breathtakingly beautiful, even before dawn.

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    Along the way, Kyssandra passed a huntress, out on an early morning pursuit of prey. How in the world does she even hold that bow, Kyssandra thought, its bigger than she is!

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    After a while, Kyssandra arrived at the sanctuary, and told Astrid what Motierre wanted. She showed her the letter and the amulet. Surprisingly, Astrid did not balk at the news, as Kyssandra had done. Instead, Astrid was ecstatic, choosing to believe this was the Night Mother’s way of returning the Dark Brotherhood to glory. Astrid said she would start making preparations right away, but Kyssandra’s first job would be to take the amulet to a fence in the thieves guild in Riften, and get it appraised, just to make sure it was actually worth what Motierre said it was worth. Kyssandra shrugged and headed out, following her map on the paths towards Riften.

    Near Ivarstead, Kyssandra suddenly decided she could make a quick detour. She remembered the strange book, and so called shrine, the woman had told her about. Something had been nagging at her, and she wanted to go check it out. When she had been to Ivarstead before, to kill the crazy beggar guy near there, she had run across a shrine to Dibella on the path north of the town. She remembered it, because there were gems placed there, that she had left, because she had felt bad about stealing from a shrine to Dibella. She retraced her steps from that day, as it wasn’t very far off the path to Riften that she was taking. Sure enough she found the shrine again, exactly as it had been when she had visited it before. Poking around, this time she found a journal over in the bushes. Reading it, she realized that it belonged to the man that had taken the book from the woman. The book was in a strong box, on the shrine itself. This was no shrine to Dibella, it was a shrine to the woman that the book was about, whom the man apparently thought was a goddess, and was living near a well just up the hill. Kyssandra remembered the strange little wisps, and saw that they were still there. She remembered that where there was wisps, there was a wispmother. Everything suddenly clicked. Whoever this book was written about, the man that stole it, thought she was a goddess, and then thought the wispmother up the hill was that goddess. Kyssandra crept up the hill towards the well, to see if the man was around anywhere.

    Too late, she got to close. Kyssandra had drawn the attention of the wispmother this time, and the fight was on. Kyssandra knew from her studies that once you engaged wisps, and their wispmother, they would not leave you alone. She summoned her atronarch and ran. She started to summon the troll, remembered that she could not figure out how to dispatch it, so she summoned skeevers instead, thinking they would be better received if they had to follow her around. She ran around the hill, alternating her chain lightening spell and her healing spell and potions, letting the atronarch and skeevers help when they could.

    Finally she prevailed, but the wispmother and her minions had proved to be much tougher than the vampire couple had been. When the battle was over, Kyssandra took opportunity to go on up to the well, since it was safe now. Sure enough, there was a man’s body near it. Apparently, thinking the wispmother was the goddess he thought the woman in the book was, he had ventured too close and got himself killed. Kyssandra found the key to the strong box in his pocket, and opening the box, there was the woman’s book. Now satisfied that this was not an actual shrine to Dibella, Kyssandra went ahead and helped herself to all the valuable gems and gold there, including an almost perfect diamond. This should help with her next tuition payment.

    Kyssandra then headed on towards Riften, followed closely by three remaining pet skeevers that she had no idea how to get rid of.

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  • Chapter 24

    “Dangerous Times”

    Kyssandra glanced back over the waterfall as she followed the river towards Ivarstead.

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    It was hard to imagine that such a beautiful land could be so dangerous. She had taken a new route, going from Falkreath to Riften, and it seemed like it there was more things to worry about, danger lurking around every turn. One minute you were on a beautiful path in the woods, and around the next bend there would be a platform of wood spanning that path, built by bandits to ambush unsuspecting girls traveling alone. One minute you could be happily skipping along with a pack of skeevers through yellow speckled woods, the next minute, a massive cave bear would charge in from the side and attack, hoping you were its next meal. The skeevers did not make it past the cave bear.

    But as she continued on, down roads unknown, Kyssandra realized something. She had been taking the carriages less and less, and like now, since the weather was nice, she was just jogging and walking the path alone. Perhaps it was not that the paths here were more dangerous, perhaps it was simply the fact that she was not in a protected carriage. She had seen bandits and wild animals and even more, from the carriage, but it had sped on by, before they could react. Walking, jogging, out here alone, by herself, she had to deal with everything she came across herself, be it good or bad. It took longer, and was certainly more dangerous, but perhaps the experiences along the way made it worth it.

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    At one point, Kyssandra saw a young girl, looking to be about the same age as herself running towards her. The girl looked a little worse for wear, and was not attacking, she seemed to be running from something. She told Kyssandra that she had been captured by bandits, and they had been holding her prisoner in their camp, in a tower. Kyssandra asked the girl what she needed, but the girl said she would be fine, if Kyssandra would just point her to the nearest town. Kyssandra brought out her map, showed the girl where she was, and how to get back to the town closest to them. Once she saw the map, and figured out where they were, the girl was able to point out the location where the bandits had been holding her. She had heard them call it Mistwatch. Kyssandra made note, she decided she just might pay these bandits a visit one day.

    Later in the day, there was a man standing to the side of the path, leaning against a tree, surrounded by corpses of bears. As Kyssandra approached, she realized this was not a human, it was an orc, or orsimer, as they liked to be called. Kyssandra had a few dealings with orcs, but no in depth conversations and always in a town or at the college. She knew they had settlements of their own out here in the wild, where others were not welcome, but it had never occurred to her as to how the reaction would be if no guards or other humans were around. She surmised that it would be no different than any other bandit or brigand, so she mentally readied herself to summon her atronarch, but then held back for the moment. This orc saw her approaching, and still just leaned against the tree. He did not look like he meant ill will. She kept her spell mentally ready, but did not cast it.

    “Hello” Kyssandra spoke, as she walked by. It felt uncomfortable to just not say anything.
    “Hello,” the orc replied simply.
    Now curious, Kyssandra continued. “What are you doing out here? hunting bear?”
    "No, I am simply awaiting a good death."
    Well that was a strange thing to say, so Kyssandra stopped.
    The orc chuckled, seeing her perplexed look.
    "I am old. There is nothing left but for me to die."
    Kyssandra stared at the orc. “Well you certainly don’t look old, you look pretty young to me.” In fact, she had to admit, he looked to be in rather fine shape. for an orc, that is. She felt herself blush.
    “I can see you do not know orc tradition,” he said, "I have grown too old by our standards, I have not taken a wife, nor have I made a path to become chief of my own tribe. I wish to die with honor, a proper man, to please our god, Malacath. I wish to die in a well fought battle. I normally would not ask that of a small human female, but I see you have a nice sword, so you may actually be a trained fighter. So if I dare ask, would you care to help me die?
    “Well, I’m not in the mood to help you die, but I can help you be a proper ma-” Kyssandra stopped mid sentence. She had been fantasizing about this orc the whole time he had been talking. Did she just say that out loud?

    A little while later, Kyssandra stopped to adjust the straps on her pack. She wasn’t sure she had gotten it back on correctly. Up ahead, she saw movement. As she crept closer, warily now, she realized there was some type of fort, or settlement, and a fight was going on. Still closer, now she realized it was a giant, attacking the settlement. She had seen a few giants as she passed by them riding on the carriages, but none this close. The giant was inside the walls of the settlement now, and at least four villagers were trying to defend. May as well do the right thing, Kyssandra decided. She did not summon her atronarch, but she walked into the settlement, and from its flank, she began to hit the giant with her chain lightening spell. The villagers might could have handled it, but her spell certainly made it a lot easier. Kyssandra now realized, that this was an orc settlement. She wondered if it was the same one that the one she had met on the path earlier was from.

    Most of the orcs simply murmured their thanks, and went back to their business, obviously not wanting to talk to Kyssandra. One, however did come up and offer more thanks. A female, who introduced herself as Atub. Kyssandra looked around. She was not sure what she had expected an orc stronghold to look like, from the inside. This was just like any other village she had been in, they had a forge, tanning rack, workbench, grindstones, she even thought she saw an alchemy table in one of the huts.

    Atub said that this was the Orc stronghold of Largashbur, and that their tribe and leader had been cursed by their god, Malcarath, and now the giants were just attacking at will. She apologized that her fellow orcs were not more thankful than they were.
    “I’m not sure how many of them that giant would have killed, had you not helped,” she said, “but orcs would rather die than admit weakness. Plus, they are not fond of outsiders, at all.”
    “Hmmm, wonder how get on their good side?” Kyssandra surmised. The last experience she had had with an orc had not been unpleasant at all.
    Atub shook her head. “Pretty young human like you? Only thing that would work would be to offer yourself as a plaything to them. Or, do something grand, that would be renowned by all of us, like lift this curse.”
    “Lift the curse?” Kyssandra’s mind was elsewhere for some reason, at the moment.
    “Yes,” Atub nodded. “I am the shaman here, and I think I could actually perform a ritual that would do it. But… I need troll fat, and a daedre heart, as ingredients. Wouldn’t want to help me with that, would you?”

    Kyssandra actually did have some troll fat, and a daedre heart, in her academical supplies. But she needed to get on to Riften, before dark. She couldn’t lose sight of her actual mission, to get the amulet from Moiterre appraised. Plus, she had a suspicion that daedre hearts were hard to come by. She didn’t know what the actual uses for it were yet, but she did not want to part with one on a whim without knowing.

    When Kyssandra finally got to Riften, twilight had fallen, and it was getting dark. She did not know what would be more dangerous, out in the wilds of Skyrim, with bandits, bears and orc strongholds, or after dark in Riften, the city of the thieves. At least with the cover of darkness, maybe none of the guards would recognize or remember her. She did have a horse thief bounty on her head, from last time she was here, she well remembered.

    She came in through the back gate, near the orphanage, and went straight to the Bee and Barb inn, keeping her head low. The shops were all closing for the night. Inside the inn, she ate supper, rented a room for the night, and discreetly asked around as to where she could find Delvin Mallory. Apparently he was normally found at a tavern in the Ratway, an underground tunnel system, under the city, used primarily by the thieves guild, and others that wished to remain hidden. It was a very dangerous place, in an already very dangerous city. Those people stayed down there away from the guards for a reason.

    Kyssandra found a creaky iron grate, one of the entrances that she had been told about, down a set of rickety stairs and across a small canal. The tunnels were tight and small. After a few minutes, she ran across two rough looking men, apparently guards. or lookouts. They looked Kyssandra up and down, and told her she needed to produce some gold, if she wanted to pass. Kyssandra thought for a moment, and offered them something else. The two men were more than happy to oblige.

    On down the tunnels, Kyssandra crept slowly. She kept hearing sounds, seemingly around every corner. Unnerving sounds of thieves, thugs, and all sorts of dangerous things. She had the feeling that someone, or something, could attack at any moment. She was completely lost, as there was no map of this area, she was just wandering aimlessly looking for a tavern of some sort. At one point, a gargantuan man did attack her. Accost would be a better word, as he clearly had his mind set on something other than gold. The difference between this man, and the fellows up at the entrance though, was that Kyssandra had freely offered something other than gold to those guys. This man was just going to take it, whether she liked it or not. Nope, that was not going to fly. Kyssandra knew her powers by now, and knew what she was going to allow or not allow. A couple of chain lightening spells, and the man was nothing more than burnt toast, laying on the ground. Kyssandra took what little gold he had and kept moving.

    Finally, after a tense search, she found it. the tunnels opened up into a big room, filled with water, with what appeared to be a makeshift dock built over it. There was a sign, that marked it as The Ragged Flagon. This must be the “tavern”.

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    Kyssandra asked around, but no one was in the mood to talk with her. This was not a place for small talk, or meeting new people. Finally, she accidentally found Delvin, as she heard someone talking to him call him by name. She walked up and introduced herself as Kyssandra. His demeanor changed, when she added, “from the Dark Brotherhood”.

    She showed Delvin the amulet, and he examined it closely. He proclaimed that it was some type of a valuable amulet of the Elder Council, itself. It may have been one of a kind, Kyssandra wasn’t sure if he said that or not. But it was worth a lot. Kyssandra did as she had been instructed. Astrid had told her to ask and accept terms if Delvin would buy it, and just accept a letter of credit if he offered it.
    “Of course I’ll buy it!” he exclaimed. He turned and wrote out an official looking letter, and gave it to Kyssandra. "Just give this to Astrid. It is a letter of credit. She knows we are good for it.
    Kyssandra glanced at the letter. 15,000 septims. She looked up at Delvin. “really?” her face asked.
    Delvin scoffed and looked smug. “Honey, I’m sure you haven’t seen much, but thats a lot of gold in this realm.”
    “Yes, I know sir…” Kyssandra started in an innocent voice, “its just…my tuition costs for college is about two thirds of that.” She let her tone change. “and I was able to raise it within a few weeks. I just thought an amulet as valuable as what you say would be worth a whole lot more than a young girl like me could come up with in less than a month.”

    Kyssandra turned and walked away, not looking back, and headed back to the inn.



  • Chapter 25

    “Chaos”

    “Hey! I know you!”
    “No, I don’t think we’ve met,” Kyssandra replied, looking away.
    “No, I swear, I’ve seen you somewhere before…”

    Kyssandra had got an early start, and taken a chance on visiting the blacksmith. She had noticed after a while that the blacksmiths not only had armor and weapons, but many of them had skilled seamstresses employed, or at their disposal, and offered clothing or very lightly armored robes. Some of them were very nice, and depending on what was available in that town, at that moment, they could even make custom one of a kind attire. She had arrived in Riften last evening, under the cover of darkness, and stayed in the inn and darker parts of the city. She wasn’t sure if any of the guards would remember or recognize her as having a horse thieving bounty, now that it was light outside. She had decided to go out and check the inventory of the Riften blacksmith. Maybe the guards were not up yet. No such luck, the first one that happened by thought he knew her. She tried to look inconspicuous, and hurried on her way, out of town.

    She probably needed to go back to Falkreath, to give Astrid the letter of credit from Delvin for the amulet, but she had exited on the opposite side of town, the town nearer to Winterhold. As she checked her map, Kyssandra noticed that this side of town was fairly near those ruins that MIrabelle had told her about, Muzzle fit…Mizzle foot, or something like that. The ruins that Mirabelle had said she needed to check, because the Synod, or somebody, was last seen there, and it may hold the answer to where this staff of Magnus could be found. Her packs were starting to get heavy again. She could go swing by the ruin and check it out, then head on to Winterhold, and empty her packs, then portal to Falkreath. Sounded like a good plan.

    Again, she decided to not take the carriage. There was of course a bandit ambush set up for unsuspecting foot travelers just outside of town. Kyssandra ran through it, hoping they would not pursue her if she just kept running. One unlucky bandit did. Kyssandra decided she would take out Dawnbreaker and see if she could get some practice, and only use her spells if things went really bad. She unsheathed the sword and turned around. One hit, at the bandit fell. Kyssandra stared at her sword. This thing was really, really powerful, apparently.

    Sheathing the sword, she headed on, and came to a small village named Shor’s Stone. Seeing that there was a blacksmith, Kyssandra decided to stop and see if this one had anything she liked, since her other window shopping in Riften had been cut short. As she made small talk with the blacksmith, he began to lament over some problems they were having. Their local mine, the source of their income, had been infested with spiders. The blacksmith told Kyssandra that he could pay a good amount on behalf of the town to anyone that could clear the spiders out of their mine.

    Seeing an opportunity to make a little extra gold on the way home, Kyssandra went over to the mine to just check it out, and see how hard these spiders were to kill. They were actually no match for her and her atronarch. It did not take much time at all, it was actually pretty easy, she thought. She reported back to the blacksmith, and informed him the mine was safe now. After verifying it, the grateful blacksmith gave her 1000 gold. Kyssandra had been hoping for a decent pay, but she had not expected anywhere near that much. The heavy weight of all that gold made her pack go from uncomfortable, to really heavy. Now she had to get back to her room. But first, she headed down the mountain to Mezzle fart. or whatever it was called.

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    A couple wolves later, Kyssandra found the ruins. Just inside, she found a dying man. He was a member of the Synod. He was mumbling something about a crystal he had being stolen by something in the dungeon, then he was gone. Kyssandra rifled through his belongings and found his notes. Apparently, he had been sent out to get a replacement crystal for whatever they were doing here in a part of the place called the oculary, and he had just returned with it. She took the notes, and his key, and went to find this oculary, and whoever else was in here.

    Kyssandra had not really been in a dwemer ruin before. This was a little different than the barrows full of undead. The dwemer were mechanical inclined people. The main thing she had heard about dwemer ruins was to watch out for the devious traps. The dwemer would simply build traps that would ensnare looters, and never let them go, or worse. Kyssandra proceeded very slowly and cautiously through the maze of hallways full of steam pipes and machines.

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    Some of the machines came to life; she was frequently attacked by mechanical creations. But her chain lightening spell came in very handy here, as these machines were very susceptible to the electrical damage. And yes, the traps were everywhere.

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    This ruin, as Kyssandra soon realized, was huge. It was taking a lot longer than she thought it would. She became tired, hungry, and thirsty, and her heavy pack was not making it any easier. But Kyssandra learned something while in there. There were creatures other than the mechanical ones, human mages, falmer cave elves, and chaurus, these big tough scorpion looking things. At some point, Kyssandra started trying to cast a new spell she had learned, trying to reanimate dead bodies to fight for her. She simply thought if she could add to her atronarch, the more pets she had, the better. The reanimation attempts did not go so well, and they were a little unnerving. But at some point during all this, she managed to cast two flame atronarchs at the same time. Kyssandra glanced at one, then the other. She tried it again. It worked! She had become proficient enough with conjuration magic that she could now keep two summoned pets going at the same time. Who needed to fight, when you could have a small army of pets do it for you?

    At some point later, while fighting her way through the dungeon, Kyssandra actually found what she presumed to be the crystal the mage had been bringing to his friends. This was good, because after what seemed like an eternity, she ran across his friends. or friend, a mage who called himself Paratus. In a room they called the oculary, this other Synod mage was waiting for his friend. Kyssandra told him that she had found his friend near the entrance, and she was a mage of the College of Winterhold, and had brought the crystal on to him. He was very skeptical, but he did need the crystal for their experiment, so he told her to follow and she could help.

    Kyssandra really wasn’t sure what the grand experiment was, in this oculary room. She wasn’t sure that Paratus even knew himself. But once they put the crystal in its place, a beam of light appeared. There were buttons, and other focusing mirrors on the ceiling, like in a planetarium, and in some of the research notes, it had said that the size of the crystal, which affected the angle of the beam of light, could be altered with fire or ice spells. Paratus did not really seem to know what to do, and told Kyssandra if she could make this machine work, to please do so.

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    It really wasn’t a whole lot different than the beams of light puzzles in Merida’s temple, where Dawnbreaker had come from. Kyssandra kept fiddling around, pushing buttons and pulling levers, until she got the light hitting all the mirrored places on the ceiling. When it finally worked, a map of Tamriel was projected on the wall. Paratus seemed really excited, until he decided that something was wrong. Something, up at Winterhold, was creating a lot of interference to whatever he was trying to do. Increasingly agitated, he asked Kyssandra what was going on up there. Kyssandra told him about the eye of Magnus, she saw no reason not to. She finally got around to telling him that was the whole reason for her coming here, she needed to find the staff of Magnus, to control the eye. As she understood it…

    Paratus became more and more upset. The more he pontificated, the more he convinced himself that the mages at Winterhold were doing something specifically to block what he was doing, and that Kyssandra was in on it. He babbled on about how he was going to report her to the Synod council, and how they were searching for magical devices of power and on and on and on. But the only thing that Kyssandra found worthy to remember, was that somewhere during all those words, she heard him blurt out that the staff of Magnus could be found at a place called Labyrinthian. Thats all she needed to know. She took her leave, as soon as she had the chance.

    Just outside the oculary, everything went white. Time had stopped again.

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    It was one of those Psiijic Order guys, actually the same one that had appeared to Kyssandra back in Saarthal. He told her that she was doing well, but trying times were just ahead. He said she should get back to the college as fast as possible, and pointed her to an exit that would take her directly outside, without having to trek back through the entire ruin.

    Kyssandra hurried through the door…

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    …into a blizzard of blowing snow.

    A snowstorm? Really? Psiijy whatshisname couldn’t have told her that she was exiting up on top of the mountain, instead of down where she started!?

    Kyssandra pulled her fur cloak close, cast her warmth spell, and her weaken gravity spell, and headed down the side of the mountain. As she descended, the weather got better, and warmer. She came out fairly near Windhelm. Rather than go the long way, the way the trail would take her, she used her waterwalk spell, and just ran across the bay, cutting a ton of time off.

    Back at the college, Kyssandra went first to her room, and put all of her heavy gold in her strongbox. Then she headed over to the Hall of Elements, to find Mirabelle, and tell her what she had learned. She found Mirabelle just inside the door, but she was a bit preoccupied. Savos, the arch mage, was there with her. The door to the room where they had been keeping the Eye was now some big magical barrier.

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    “Er…whats going on?” Kyssandra asked, as Savros and Mirabelle noticed her.
    “Its Ancano.” Mirabelle said. “He’s barricaded himself inside the room.”
    “We’ve got to figure out what he is doing in there!” Savos shouted, “Hit his barrier with whatever destruction spell you have!” He turned to Kyssandra. “you too!”

    Kyssandra shrugged and joined in, and soon the barrier actually did fall. Arch mage Savos and Mirabelle rushed in, so Kyssandra followed. Ancano was in fact in the room, and was casting some spell at the giant ball they called the Eye of Magnus. Savos began trying to stop him, and Mirabelle was trying to stop Savos. Savos started casting something towards Ancano.

    And then everything went white.

    A bright flash of light.

    Ears ringing.

    then Nothing.


    The next thing she knew, Kyssandra was waking up, as if from some deep sleep, picking herself up off the floor.

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    She saw Mirabelle directly in front of her, leaning against a column, shaking the cobwebs from her on head.

    “You ok?” Mirabelle asked groggily
    "think so…what…happened?" Kyssandra looked around.
    “Don’t know.” Mirabelle nodded to the ball behind Kyssandra. “But now he’s got a wall of magic around him, and Savos is nowhere to be found. Go see if he is outside.”

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    As Kyssandra exited the Hall into the courtyard, she found a scene of complete chaos. Students and teachers were running everywhere, and part of them seemed to be gathered around a body. It looked like the arch mage’s robes.

    Tolfdir ran up to Kyssandra. When she got him calm enough to tell her what happened, he said that everyone had heard what sounded like an explosion, then the Arch Mage had staggered out of the door, and fell dead, and now something was attacking the city of Winterhold, below them.

    “Wait-what?! something attacking Winterhold?! what is it?” Kyssandra asked, but she couldn’t get Tolfdir calm enough to tell her anything else of import.

    Kyssandra ran down the bridge towards the town. Along the way, she met Faralda, the guardian of the gate, coming her way.

    “Whats happening up there?” Faralda asked quickly.
    “Not real sure…big explosion, the arch mage is dead.” Kyssandra nodded towards the town. “Whats going on down there?”
    “Not real sure…big explosion up there, then these magic wisp like things flew in and started attacking everyone. I was coming up to try to get help defending.”
    “Everyone up there is panicked.” Kyssandra sighed, “You got me.”
    “Good deal” Faralda nodded. “Lets do what we can.”
    “Wait, I’ll help!!” Arniel Gane, the conjuration scholar, was running down the ramp towards them.

    Together, Kyssandra, Faralda, and Arniel managed to secure the town. Kyssandra was not sure what was attacking, but Faralda had it right. They looked exactly like the little wisp things that flew around when she had encountered the wisp mother. They were everywhere, but Kyssandra just took it slowly and methodically, like the other fights she had gotten used to, and soon all was quiet. There were some casualties, but Faralda and Arniel said they could handle dealing with them. They urged Kyssandra to get back up to the college and see if she could restore order up there.

    Back up at the college, Kyssandra assured the students and scholars milling around that the town was safe. for now. She then went to talk to Mirabelle. Mirabelle said that she and Tolfdir could try to keep the eye contained, but they desperately needed the staff. The staff! Kyssandra remembered, and told Mirabelle about what happened in Muscle Fort, and that Paratus had told her that the staff was in a place called Labrynthian. Mirabelle seemed taken aback. The arch mage had just recently given her an artifact from that place, and told her she would know what to do with it, when the time came. The time was now. She gave it to Kyssandra, along with an amulet that he had, and urged her to go to Labrynthian, and get the staff as quickly as she could.



  • Chapter 26

    “Double Duty”

    Kyssandra was really tired. She wanted a nap. It should not be this early in the day still. The Mulzft ruins had taken forever it seemed to go through. It just occurred to her; had she been in there all night, and lost track of time? At any rate, she could not go back to her room just now, and take a nap, with Ancano actively doing who knows what with the big Saarthal Ball. Ok, ok, Eye of Magnus. But Kyssandra still liked to refer to it as the big Saarthal Ball. She would certainly be looked down upon if she stopped to nap. And she also needed to get the letter of credit from Delvin back to Astrid, too.

    After thinking for a moment, she came up with what she thought was the best plan of action. She would port to Falkreath, stop by the sanctuary and give the letter of credit to Astrid, then head on up to Labrynthian and look for the staff. She could pull double duty. She could work for both the college and the dark brotherhood.

    The first part of this plan went exactly as planned. Kyssandra went to the portal room, and soon she was at the mill pond in Falkreath. She hurried along the path, on up to the sanctuary of the brotherhood.

    “Ah, there you are,” Astrid said when she saw her. “Did he buy the amulet?”
    “He did. He said it was something from the elder council.” Kyssandra replied. "Here is the letter of credit."
    She produced the letter and handed it to Astrid. Astrid looked at it and smiled, then looked back up at Kyssandra. Was she giddy?
    “Ok, then,” she said, "The plan is set in motion. Hope you actually have a nice dress stashed somewhere. You are going to a wedding."
    Kyssandra ignored the slight. “A wedding?”
    “Yes,” Astrid replied. “And you,” she said as she put her index finger in the center of Kyssandra’s chest, “are going to kill the bride.”

    Astrid went on to explain that the bride was Vittoria Vici, and was the cousin of the emperor. The plan was to kill her publicly, and messily, to create chaos in the ranks. Kyssandra was the one chosen to do it, because Kyssandra was the one the night mother had spoken to. It did not matter how it was accomplished, as long as it was during the ceremony, preferably in front of everyone, during her speech to the crowd. Kyssandra wondered how this was going to affect her dealings with Elisif and her court.

    Before taking leave, Kyssandra went and found Nasif, to see if there were any more side contracts. May as well pick them up, if there were any, while she was there. She knew she would need the money. Sure enough, he had three contracts for her. Deekus, an argonian that had a camp up on the northern coast, where he typically looted shipwrecks. Ma’randu Jo, a Khajiit who was a member of one of the traveling caravans that set up shop outside the cities. No telling which city he would be at. And a Bosmer named Anarioth, who was a hunter that lived in Whiterun. He was the brother of the guy that ran the Drunken Huntsman. He had a merchant stall, but word was, he occasionally went out on hunts, and if you could catch him out there, no one would know anything.

    Kyssandra also asked her fellow brotherhood members for advice on the wedding contract. Only one, the creepy little vampire girl, gave her something she felt she could actually use. Babette told her to examine the area above where the speech would be. Something that fell on the bride could do the job just as good, and be more apt to be passed off as an accident, if it was even seen.

    So Kyssandra headed north. She had four contracts and a staff to find. In due time, she realized that she probably would not make it to Labrythian before twilight. She knew the need was urgent, but she decided to veer towards Whiterun, and get some much needed sleep.

    It was still daylight when she got to the city, and the merchants were still open. Not knowing how much time she would have between getting the staff back to Mirabelle, and heading to Solitude for the wedding, Kyssandra decided to stop by the Whiterun blacksmith, and see if they had any suitable dresses. She wasn’t sure if it was suitable for a wedding or not, but she did find a nice purple and black dress, with some new shoes.

    After that, she headed on up to the inn. At the merchant stalls outside the inn, there sat one of her contracts, Anarioth, selling fresh meat, at his stall. Kyssandra stood and watched for a few moments. There was no way she could kill him here. There were way too many people around, not to mention all the guards. She chewed her lower lip, thinking.
    "Need something honey?"
    Kyssandra jumped. Startled, she looked around. She had inadvertently been leaning up against the front of another merchant’s stall, a rather attractive female.

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    The woman introduced herself as Carlotta, a merchant selling fruits and vegetables. Kyssandra stood for a while and made small talk with Carlotta. She had a daughter named Mila. She complained a little about the fact that men would not seem to leave her alone, particularly a bard named Mikael. Kyssandra could see that happening. In fact, she thought she remembered Mikael, as he was also after another merchant named Ysolda, that Kyssandra had met a while back. She had gotten Ysolda a mammoth tusk, for some new business Ysolda had thought of, and Ysolda had also mentioned Mikael’s antics. They talked a little more, and Kyssandra learned that Carlotta had a husband, but he had left at some point, without a reason. Carlotta didn’t seem to care, but the little girl did, so Kyssandra assured Mila that she would keep a watch during her adventures for him.

    After a while, Kyssandra retired to the tavern and rented a room for the night. The bard playing just happened to be the one and only Mikael. Apparently, he had even wrote a book, entitled “The Gentlemen’s guide to Skyrim”. It was a whole book about how to pursue women in Skyrim. Kyssandra got his attention, which wasn’t very hard for her to do, and began to share some drinks with him. At some point, she mentioned Carlotta.

    “Hey, Mikael, you know that vegetable vendor named Carlotta?”
    “I sure do! She will be a conquest before…well…before some time!” Mikael poured more drinks.
    “How about you lay off of her, instead of trying to lay on her?” Kyssandra said, laughing.
    “Now why would I do that?” Mikael grinned.
    “Well, mainly because she wants you to stop, so you should honor that. But,tell you what. I’ll make a trade with you. Lay off her, and you can have me instead.” Kyssandra winked.
    Mikael looked at Kyssandra’s charming smile, and it only took a moment of thought. “Deal!” he cried.
    “Hey, what about Ysolda,” Kyssandra thought to ask. “Didn’t you and she have something going?”
    “No, Ysolda never was interested in me,” he said, “that was just a ruse to throw people off, she was really after one of the Khajit, in the trading caravan. She didn’t think people would accept that though, so she just played like it was me she was going to see.”
    “Ah, I see,” Kyssandra nodded, "Who knows, maybe she was trying to get on his good side to market those mammoth tusks-"
    Mikeal spit his ale out in laughter.
    “What?” Kyssandra asked, laughing with him.
    “Do you know what she was doing with those mammoth tusks?”
    "No…"
    Mikeal whispered into Kyssandra’s ear, and then laughed as she blushed.
    “No!!!”
    “a-yep!! and she thinks she can market that to other girls in Skyrim. I mean, who needs a mammoth tusk, when, I’m around! C’mon,” Mikael grabbed her hand, “Lets get out of here and have some fun!”
    “Right behind ya!” Kyssandra grabbed a couple bottles of mead and followed him out.

    The next morning, Kyssandra headed to the market place, to watch for Anarioth. She had actually tried to sneak into the Drunken Huntsman, the night before, to see if it were possible to kill him there, as he slept. His room was right off the main room, and did not have a door, so she decided it would not be a good plan to do it there either. She milled around for a while, watching him at his stall.

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    This was going nowhere, and going to waste a lot of time. Kyssandra decided to research tracking spells, next time she was back at the college, if things got back to normal. If she could somehow track him, then she could wait to come after him when he left the city. Kyssandra headed out herself, and followed her map to where Mirabelle had marked Labrynthian.

    Later in the day, as she walked through a mountain pass, Kyssandra found a couple of stone arches. Suddenly, the walls of the pass gave way to a massive stone ruins, spread out before her. This must be it.

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    She found the entrance of the particular ruins that Mirabelle had marked. It was pretty much a run of the mill creepy ruin, at first.

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    But then, she encountered a skeletal dragon-

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    And a graveyard. A graveyard, with coffins, inside the caverns of the ruin-

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    But the creepiest, most unnerving thing?

    That would be when the ghost of Savos, the arch mage who had JUST DIED, appeared.

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    He appeared with his friends, members of an adventuring party. At first, Kyssandra didn’t know what was happening. These ghosts would not acknowledge her like the King and the Night Mother had. It finally dawned on her, that she was witnessing something that happened in the past. Savos and his friends had actually PUT the staff here, or had been looking for it, and decided to seal it here, and she was witnessing the ghostly tale, as it had actually happened. One by one, the friends were taken out, until only Savos remained. Was this how he had become arch mage?

    Finally, Kyssandra reached the end, where the staff was. It was held by some wizard, whose name she didn’t remember, and he was being cast upon by some of this thralls.

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    Kyssandra really didn’t know what was going on, nor did she care. She just wanted the staff. She called her two atronarch pets, thralls of her own, and the battle started. Soon, she had the staff in her hands. As she ventured on further, to the living quarters of this wizard, she found another wizard. This one was someone that had been sent by Ancano, Savos’ number two man, back at the college. This wizard spouted off something about how Ancano was going to take over the world, and that he knew Kyssandra would head here and try to retrieve the staff, and how he was going to stop her. He was wrong.

    As Kyssandra left Labrythian, with the staff of Magnus, it was the dead of night.

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    Kyssandra looked at her map. She really did not like travelling at night, especially alone and on foot. She looked at her map. The nearest town was Morthal. It actually wasn’t very far away, so she headed there.

    As she approached Morthal’s gates, Kyssandra sensed something was wrong. There were a lot of people out in the streets, too many for this time of night, in this small of a town. Then she saw their glowing eyes.
    Vampires.
    There were vampires everywhere. Suddenly the guards attacked the vampires. As Kyssandra watched, many of the guards seemed to be getting slaughtered. Neither party had seen her yet, as she was standing just outside the gates. She approached cautiously, with intent to help, but could not bring herself to do much. The initial site of dozens of glowing red eyes had paralyzed her with fear. She ran to the inn, rented a room, and tried to sleep. In the morning, people were looking around at the bodies in the streets, wondering what happened. Kyssandra shook her head. Apparently the vampire problem in this town had not gone away when she had killed the master.

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    She did not have time for this though. Kyssandra needed to get the staff back to Mirabelle. She ran to the portal dais for Morthal, and using a soul gem, headed back to the college. When she got there, everything was oddly quiet. The door to the Hall of Elements wouldn’t open, but she could peep through the keyhole, and saw that Ancano was still casting some spell at the ball. But no one else was around, anywhere. Also, he did not have the magical wall around him anymore. Kyssandra went looking around, and finally figured out why. The wall of magical energy had expanded, and was now surrounding the outside of the college. She could see her friends and classmates, outside, on the bridge, but just as they could not get in through the wall, she could not pass through it to get out, either.

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    Kyssandra had no idea what to do. Should she try to confront Ancano, by herself? Finally, she decided she needed guidance from Mirabelle or Tolfdir. She didn’t even know what the staff did. She went back to the portal room, and did the only thing she could think to do, she ported to Dawnstar, It was the closest portal to her, especially if she used her water walk spell to get back. She then headed up the coastline, towards the college.

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    Along the way, she suddenly remembered, there was something important about this area. Kyssandra stopped and dug out her map, and notes. Sure enough, the argonian she was supposed to kill, the shipwreck looter named Deekus, was supposed to be camped nearby. He was so close to her route that it was not in the least bit out of the way. She just used water walk, went out to a small island that you could have waded to, and there he was, camped on the other side of the island. Kyssandra was in a hurry to get to the college, so she did not mince words. She just killed the lizard, took what stuff interested her, and kept pressing on, towards the college.



  • Chapter 27

    “Arch Maid”

    Kyssandra eventually reached the college. Oddly, she thought, as she climbed the hill, she had never approached from this side. She had always came in from Winterhold, and there was simply no reason to go any further past the entrance ramp. She found most of her colleagues standing together on the ramp close to the magical wall. Tolfdir spotted her first.

    “There she is!” He shouted, "Kyssandra! Is that the staff?"
    Kyssandra nodded as she came into the group, the staff strapped to her back. She saw that most of the faculty was standing around, but one in particular was missing.
    "Where’s Mirabelle?"
    Tolfdir lowered his eyes.
    “She…she didn’t make it,” he said softly. "She stayed behind, trying to make sure everyone else got out, when the wall started expanding. If it expanded onto her while she was not in range of making it to a doorway…I…I…don’t…"
    Kyssandra couldn’t let him (or herself), dwell on this right now. True, she had been fond of Mirabelle, but she had seen so much death in the past month, she could deal with it. She wondered if Tolfdir, or any of the other mages, had any inkling of what she had been doing with the brotherhood.
    “So what do we do now?” she interjected.
    Tolfdir shook his head and tried to snap out of it. “The staff,” he said, “Try to use the staff on the magic barrier. I think it absorbs magic.”

    Kyssandra took the staff from her back, and pointed at the barrier, and used it. Sure enough, the barrier fell. “huh…” she thought, ‘I probably could have done this from the inside and saved myself a lot of walking…’

    At any rate, the group moved in, and now that the barrier was down, they could get into the Hall of Elements. There stood Ancano, casting his spell on the ball.

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    Ancano spotted the group, and began to laugh maniacally.
    “You cannot touch me!” he shouted. “I have all power now, I can destroy you all!!”

    Tolfdir tried to cast a fireball at him, and it just fell short, fizzling into nothing as it hit him. Ancano laughed at him, and begin to cast something back. Tolfdir turned to Kyssandra.
    “Try the staff on the Eye,” He said, “Mabye you can take the magic away, that he is drawing from it.”

    Just as Kyssandra began to use the staff on the ball, Ancano cast. It was a mass paralysis spell. It affected everyone but her; she assumed she was protected because she was using the staff at the exact moment. But the kicker here was that she was now the only one in the room that could do anything.

    Ancano grinned evilly. “I’m going to enjoy finishing you off little girl,” he stated flatly. Then he started drawing power from the Eye. There was a blinding flash, as it opened, and more of those wispy things came flying out of it. Kyssandra hit the Eye with the staff, using all of her concentration, and it started to close.

    And so it began, a long game of cat and mouse. After several openings and closings, Kyssandra realized that while the Eye was open, and Ancano was drawing power, she could do nothing to him. But if she closed the Eye with the staff, he was susceptible to damage. She managed to get her atronarchs out, for help, and the little magic wisps were attacking anyone they could. She ran around the room, ducking spells, hiding behind columns, alternately closing the Eye, keeping her atronarchs going, and occasionally casting a lightening spell herself.


    And finally it was done. After what seemed an eternity, Ancano fell. The room became eerily quiet, until the paralysis spells wore off of everyone. Then they all started talking at once. Kyssandra stood in the midst of them, holding the staff at her side, catching her breath.
    “What now?” she asked Tolfdir.
    “I…I don’t know…” Tolfdir said. “That…was amazing…I don’t think any of us could have beat him…But…I…don’t know what to do…Savos…Mirabelle…I just don’t know…”

    The air shimmered. Quarinar, of the Psiijic order appeared, as if on cue.
    “Congratulations,” he said to Kyssandra, nodding his head in her direction, “you have indeed met our expectations. We believed in you, and you have come through.” Turning towards Tolfdir, he said, “As for the Eye, this world is not ready for it. My brethren and I will take it to our dimension, where we will guard it and keep it safe.”
    “What of the college?” Tolfdir asked, "what should we do now?"
    Quarinar shrugged slightly. “Continue on as you have been. And I suggest,” he said, nodding again towards Kyssandra, “that you make this one the new arch mage. She has shown great fortitude during this whole escapade, and I daresay, she saved all of your lives. Perhaps even your world.”

    With that, a couple more members of the psiijic order shimmered into view. They cast some sort of ritual, and then the air shimmered, and all three of the robed men, and the Eye itself, disappeared.


    Later in the day, Tolfdir approached Kyssandra.
    “The faculty, those of us that remain, have spoken,” he began, “We are in agreement with the psiijic order. We believe you have earned the right to be arch mage. However…” Kyssandra waited for it, as he continued, "…you are still a student here. We do not feel like the arch mage should be someone who has not graduated properly, from here, or any school of magic. So…we ask that you stay here as a student, and complete your studies. You will continue to be treated exactly like the other students. Once you reach graduation, and master a school of magic, then we will formally make you the arch mage. To the students, you are still one of them. Only the faculty knows this, until the time comes."
    Kyssandra nodded.
    “That sounds fair.” she said. She was a bit dejected, but she did see their point.
    Tolfdir then produced a key, and handed it to her.
    “This,” he said, “is the key to the arch mage’s quarters. The suite needs to be kept clean, until it can be formally used.”
    “So…I’m to be a maid?” Kyssandra asked warily.
    Tolfdir set his jaw, but looked her squarely in the eye. “You are hereby entrusted with keeping the arch mage quarters from falling into disrepair until a new, (ahem)” he cleared his throat as he pressed the key into her hand, “…arch mage is named. As far as anyone outside of the faculty knows, you have simply been named caretaker. But,” He lowered his voice slightly, “…you are the only one that has this key. You may use it, and the chambers as you wish.”


    Kyssandra retired to her… the arch mage’s quarters. She spent the evening poking around, looking at various things, that would be off limits to anyone but the arch mage. This was definitely going to take some time to get used to. She felt like she was stealing, or doing something she shouldn’t be doing. She wasn’t sure if she would even sleep here, she would probably continue to do that in her cozy little dorm room. At the top of the stairs, she noticed a magical orb on a pedestal, that looked suspiciously like the portal orbs in the Hall of Attainment. Intrigued, she touched it, and activated it. This one did not require a soul gem. The air shimmered, and she appeared in a room of some sort; It was surrounded by tall thick windows, and seemed like a cross between a trophy room and a library. She went to one of the windows and looked out. Night had fallen. It was then that she realized what this room was. It was the solarium that you could see on the very top of the college. She sighed, and sat in the large stone chair, contemplating all that had happened, since she first got off that boat in Dawnstar, and all that would happen next.

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  • Chapter 28

    “Mission accomplished. …sorta”

    Kyssandra headed to the portal room. She had slept decently, albeit in her own dorm room. Today was the day of the wedding she was supposed to attend. The one where she was to kill the bride. Astrid had told her it did not matter how she did it, as long as it was messy and public. The goal on this one was not the kill, but the chaos it would create. Like it or not, Kyssandra still had to work for the Dark Brotherhood to earn tuition money. Truth was, she kinda liked it. So she had got up, put on her dress and heels that she had bought for the wedding, and now she stood in front of the portal orb to Solitude. She had not bothered with any equipment or her backpack. She was going to port to Solitude, attend a wedding and do the job, then port back. She had actually come across a spell in the Arch Mage’s quarters that was going to make this even easier. It was in a secret compartment, and was called Temporal Shift. According to the spell’s description, it was tied to the orb in the Arch Mage’s quarters, and would port you back to that orb, from anywhere in Skyrim. She was anxious to test it.

    But first, she needed to get there first. The wedding was to start at 10am. It was about 9:30am, so she got out a greater soul gem, and touched it to the orb. She had not been to the Solitude portal as of yet. As the air began to shimmer, she wondered anxiously where she would appear.

    The world briefly, went black, as usual, and buildings shimmered into view. Kyssandra looked around in disbelief. This was in fact Solitude, she recognized the roofs of the buildings. But she was parallel to the roofs. This couldn’t be right. She looked around, and down. She gingerly moved to the edge, and gradually confirmed her suspicions. She began to fume.

    WHO IN THE NINE PUTS A PORTAL ON TOP OF A ROOF?!!

    Kyssandra began a frantic search for a way off the roof. She still didn’t know exactly where she was in the city, and she had to make it to that wedding before it started. The portal wasn’t exactly on a roof, it was more like a patch of grass, that was up as high, level with the rooflines. The only way she saw down was a couple of boards set up, so she could walk across them and eventually get to a balcony railing. With her dress and heels, she wasn’t exactly dressed for this. But finally, she managed to get to the balcony, without breaking an ankle.

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    When she got firmly on cobblestone, Kyssandra hurried to the temple of divines. That was where the wedding was supposed to take place. She took a couple wrong turns, trying to get her bearings, and made it with less than five minutes to spare. Surveying the area, she spotted the dragon statue, that she had been told about. It was above the balcony, above the bride and groom, and was purported to be loose enough to push over. That was Kyssandra’s plan. If it went south, she only had her spells to back herself up. She preferred the statue option. Her plan was to lean against it, and hope it fell, and claim it was an accident. The wedding was now starting. Once she was admitted as a guest, Kyssandra hurriedly found her way up to the parapet where the statue was, and wondered how conspicuous she was.

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    In almost no time, the bride and groom left the ground level, and headed up to the balcony directly below Kyssandra. As if on queue, they emerged, just below the statue. The bride stepped forward, and as was customary, addressed the crowd. Kyssandra leaned casually against the statue.

    It did not move.

    She pressed harder. Still nothing. The bride was still speaking, but only the nine knew how long she would go. Trying not to panic, Kyssandra put her weight into it, and pressed against the statue with all her might. It shifted slightly, a couple inches. She continued to push, trying to use her legs for leverage. All of the sudden, the fulcrum shifted, and over the rail the statue went. Since she had ended up leaning backwards against the statue, trying to gain leverage, Kyssandra didn’t actually see it hit, but she heard a thudding sound, followed by screams. When she turned and looked, she saw the statue and the unmoving bride laying on the balcony below, as the crowd ran around frantically. Mission accomplished.

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    Well, it was sort of accomplished. Unfortunately, in addition to the screaming of the crowd, Kyssandra also heard the guards belaying orders to each other. A lizardman appeared and hurriedly whispered that he was sent by Astrid to help if he could, should she be in danger of being caught.

    “Do you think they will know it was me?” Kyssandra asked, hoping she could just slip into the crowd and leave.
    “Oh yesss,” he whispered, “you were not very, shall we say, inconspicuous. Might should’ve thought of covering yourself and concealing your face, and THEN changing back into that outfit. But run, if you can, I’ll do what I can to hold them off.”

    In hindsight, Kyssandra realized she probably should have thought of that. But she didn’t, and now the guards were after her. They were everywhere on the ground, she couldn’t go down there. She hurried as fast as she could across the parapet, and ducked into the first door she came to. It was the top floor of the temple itself. “There she is!!” She heard the shout, and it was too late. Guards were coming up both sets of stairs.

    Not knowing anything else to do, Kyssandra surrendered. She was not going to fight all these guards, here in the city, in the temple no less. She would take her chances with the ‘it was all an accident’ story. She was also hoping that she could get some favor from the palace, Perhaps Jarl Elisif’s apparent fondness of her would help, if she could get word there, or maybe her defeat of that Potema wolf queen goddess would do the trick. Oh wait, she hadn’t actually completed that yet. Nevertheless, her pleas and explanations feel flat with the current guards. They said they would check with the palace, but for now, her wrists were shackled, and she was marched unceremoniously through town, to the dungeon. Kyssandra didn’t like the way they were looking at her.

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    What followed was the worst day and night she could remember in her young life. She was relieved of her fancy dress and thrown into a cell. The entire area was resistant to magic, her spells would not work. During the rest of the day, she was periodically taken out into the dungeon courtyard, and put into a pillory, where she was whipped, the target of the crowds insults and vegetables, and worse. During the night, the guards continued to visit her cell and contrive their own devious punishments. About every three or four hours, she was given a stale piece of bread and some ale, but she was not allowed to sleep.

    The next morning, around 10am, she was again bound and led out of the cell, into the courtyard. This time however, she was led back through town, all the way to temple, and downstairs, to what she remembered as being the Hall of the Dead. This was where Falk Firebeard and the priest Styrr had wanted her to gain the remains of Potema, the wolf queen, that some cult was trying to resurrect.

    “You are lucky,” her guard said. “It has come to our attention that you have been given a mission by the palace, that is of great importance, and has to do with undead in this place.” The guard was visibly uncomfortable at this point, but continued, “you have a choice. Stay in jail, or go in here, and try to accomplish your mission. If you succeed, your debt will be paid, and you will be free, with no bounty.”

    Kyssandra chose the mission, of course, and found herself in the Hall of the Dead. She was given her possessions back, which basically consisted of her dress and shoes. She was dead tired, and hungry. She probably could have ported back at this point, but she decided not to take any chances. If she ported back to the college, and came back tomorrow, she would still be considered a fugitive, and who knows what would happen if someone saw her. She didn’t want to take the chance of being locked up again. She would continue on, try to find Potema’s remains, and then her name would be clear and she could do what she wanted.

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    Kyssandra took the dungeon slowly and methodically. She had no armor, and no weapons. She relied solely on creatures of fire that she summoned, and bolts of electricity from her fingertips.

    0_1483333292228_20161230215315_1.jpg

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    The dungeon was pretty standard, compared to the dungeons she had been in so far.

    Spooky, dimly lit rooms full of undead creatures.

    Every once in a while, a voice, who Kyssandra assumed was Potema’s spirit, would audibly speak from the depths, chiding her with insults. Kyssandra pretty much ignored it.

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    Kyssandra was actually a bit surprised at how easy it seemed. Either she was gaining power, or the creatures in this dungeon were not as powerful as some of her recent forays. At one point, she did come across a room that was absolutely full of dead bodies. ‘This cannot be good,’ she thought to herself.

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    As if on cue, the bodies began to rise, right in front of her, and began to fight.

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    From this point forward, it got a little bit more challenging. Kyssandra would fight creatures, and then after they fell in battle, some of them would raise right back up, and she would have to fight the same undead creature, again and again. She kept moving, and just kept it methodical, advancing slowly but surely through the dungeon. Finally, she opened a door, and saw what must be the spirit of Potema.

    0_1483334055315_20161230224359_1.jpg

    There was more talk, and undead creatures galore attacked, and kept attacking. This time, the Potema spirit in the middle of the room fired out a lightening bolt, that kept going round and round, damaging anything in its path. Kyssandra decided upon a strategy of staying outside of the room, just outside of the double doors. She conserved all of her magic, only casting flame atronarchs, and only when one of her two would die. She would then cast another, right in the doorway. This way, she personally stayed out of harms way, as the atronarchs did all the work, and blocked the doorway. After more than several minutes of fighting, suddenly everything went quiet. The atronarchs had finally outlasted the spirit, and she had won. She went into the room, and retrieved the remains from what looked like a a throne on the other side. She didn’t really take anything else from here, as she did not have her pack, nor any way to carry anything heavy. She just wanted out of here, to go home and sleep.

    Kyssandra followed the dungeon to the hidden back exit. These dungeons, she was finding out, always had a hidden back exit. She went through a couple of passageways, and came out…

    …on a mountainside.

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    Kyssandra looked down. She was on the side of a mountain, behind the city of Solitude, looking straight down. She wasn’t sure she could have floated down this one, even with the weaken gravity spell.

    Luckily, she remembered the Temporal Shift spell she had learned. She had the remains now, so she felt confident that she could go home and come back, as long as she could present the mission as accomplished, to whoever would confront her. She cast the spell, the air shimmered in a familiar way, and she found herself back in her the arch mage’s quarters.

    Kyssandra did not care that this was not her dorm room. It was only about 6pm in the evening, but she had been up for about 30 hours now, with no sleep. She washed herself, went and found some food, then went back and crashed. She slept well into the next day. She got up, put on her comfortable grey outfit, grabbed her equipment, and headed back to Solitude, via the portal room. Now that she had on her adventuring outfit, and had more time, she discovered that there was an easier way down to the ground, from the portal. She had just been in to much of a hurry the first time and had missed seeing it.

    She first went to Styrr, the priest in the temple, and gave him Potema’s remains, as requested. Styrr thanked her profusely, and told her that if Falk Firebeard did not thank her in the same way, he was a fool. Kyssandra then made her way to the palace, and confronted Falk.

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    “So, nice little plan you came up with there, making me chose between jail and doing your dirty work,” Kyssandra said, “You could have just pardoned me first, and I would have still helped you.”
    “Jail? what do you mean?” Falk seemed genuinely confused.
    “Never mind.” Kyssandra said flatly. “I did what you needed, I took care of the Potema situation, for good this time. I think.”
    “Yes, Styrrr sent a messenger,” Falk said, still looking a little confused. “At any rate, this city is greatly indebted to you, and I will do everything I can to let people know that. You will be granted the same status as a thane, or a court advisor, let me assure you.”

    ‘That would have been handy to have the other day,’ Kyssndra thought to herself. ‘or would it? Would the jailers have treated her any differently, or would they have just kept her as long as they could, claiming they didn’t know her status?’ But as she left, she wondered who then, if not Falk, had found out that she was even in the jail, and brokered the deal to allow her to complete the wolf queen mission for her freedom? Who knew she was there, and also knew about the wolf queen?
    Politics and intrigue were in abundance here, in Solitude.



  • Chapter 29

    “Back to the grind”

    After meeting with Falk, Kyssandra had a moment where she did not really know what to do. Everything had gone so fast, one thing after another, there for a while. From the moment Ancano had started messing with the Magnus thing, (could she still call it the big Saarthal ball?), life had just been a big blur. Now things had settled down, and nothing was really pressing, it was like she almost didn’t know exactly what to do next. She supposed she should just head to the brotherhood sanctuary, and check in, but for now, she just found herself wandering aimlessly through town. Some beggar came up to her, which was not uncommon, but something about this one was different. Instead of asking for money, he was asking for help in freeing his master. Curiosity got the better of her, so Kyssandra stopped and listened. Apparently, his ‘master’ was being held somewhere in the Blue Palace, in the wing that was off limits. Kyssandra excused herself and headed on. The guy sounded half mad. As she walked away, she could hear him continuing to persuade her, shouting for her to talk to the maids, talk to the maids.

    Eventually, she found herself outside the gates. It was a long way from here to Falkreath, so she figured she would just port back to the college, and then use a soul gem to port there. She would get a little farther off the path though, as the mages did not encourage porting right in front of people. Although they knew about it, most common people were afraid of magic, and a mage vanishing right in front of you did nothing to calm those fears. Perhaps over there behind that caravan would be a good spot.

    Hey, wait, she just remembered, there were some things on her to do list, involving caravans. Checking her notes, she did indeed remember, there was a cat man that she was supposed to kill, named Marandu-Jo, and there was another one, named Ma’dran, that she was supposed to talk to for Ysolda. Or was it Mikeal that had told her to talk to Ma’dran, about Ysolda? She didn’t really remember. She approached and asked the nearest cat person if either Marandu-Jo or Ma’dran was in this caravan.

    Marandu-Jo was part of a southern caravan that ran from Markarth to Whiterun, but turns out that Ma’dran was actually the leader of this particular caravan. Kyssandra walked up and introduced herself to him.

    “So, you buying, or selling?” Ma’dran asked.
    “Actually, neither.” Kyssandra replied, “I just wanted to ask you about Ysolda.”
    “Who’s that?” the Khajit looked confused.
    “A vendor from Whiterun?” Kyssandra prodded.
    "…the one that wants the tree sap…" a Khajit female sitting beside him whispered.
    “Ahhh, yes” Ma’dran smiled, “Ysolda! yes, I remember, what about her?“
    Kyssandra looked confused. “I was under the impression that there was something…more between you two,” she said.
    Ma’dran sighed and shook his head. “No, I think she wants there to be, but alas, I feel not the same for her. But I continue to let her think what she wishes,” he brightened, “she’s good for trading. As long as I bring her the sleeping tree sap, she pretty much gets me whatever I ask for.”
    “Sleeping…tree sap?” Kyssandra scrunched her eyebrows.
    “Yes, its a, shall we say, like Skooma. but different.” Ma’dran winked.
    “Oh.” now Kyssandra understood. “its a drug.”
    “Drugs, potions, tomato, tomahtoe,” Ma’dran shrugged. “I really don’t care what people call them. But its fairly easy to get, and I trade it to Ysolda for other things I need, then trade them…you get the picture. I’m a trader. Its how I make my money.”
    “Oh, I understand, I’m not downing you,” Kyssandra said, “I have rather…questionable…ways that I make money also-”
    “I bet you do”, Ma’dran said with a chuckle
    ”-no, not TH- well, maybe…” Kyssandra blushed, “but seriously,” as she tried to steer the conversation in a different direction, "you really shouldn’t lead Ysolda on like that. Tell her nicely, that you aren’t interested. I bet she still will trade with you."
    Ma’dran laughed. “You are cute. You want her for yourself, don’t you. But, you are probably correct. Be less complicated. Tell you what. Go find out what happened to my last shipment of sap, bring it to me, and I’ll break it off with Ysolda. An orc named Ulag was the one that was supposed to bring it to me, he was last supposed to meet up with Ri’saad’s caravan somewhere, but didn’t show.”

    Kyssandra went off a ways from the caravan, and ported back to the college. She stopped by her room to freshen up, then headed to the portal room, and used a soul gem to port to Falkreath. From there, she headed north, to the dark brotherhood sanctuary. She was just getting ready to go down the path to the entrance, and ran into one of her fellow brethren coming from the other direction.

    “Hey, you have the contract for that Khajit that is in a caravan, don’t you?” he asked.
    “I do,” Kyssandra replied. “what’s up?”
    “I just saw them, on the path north of here, headed towards Whiterun,” he replied. “Figured you might want a heads up, since those caravans move around so much. If you hurry, you could probably catch him, or at the very least, you know which direction to go.”

    Kyssandra thanked him, and immediately headed north. He was right. The caravans moved so much, it was hard to find specific ones. She figured she would take this opportunity, then come back to the sanctuary. She could then get paid for two contracts instead of one.

    The caravan had quite a head start on her. Kyssandra had no idea how far up the path they actually were, but she knew how far it was to the junction where her informant had split off and went south, and that was quite a ways. She decided to try out a new spell she had bought a while back, called Longstride. It basically made you move faster. a lot faster. But you had to maintain a concentration level, and your magic would eventually deplete. Kyssandra tried it, and it worked remarkably well. She was running at a speed she did not think was possible, but she could only hold that speed while she had magic in reserve. So she ran fast, and then slowed to a jog while her magic replenished, then she would go fast again. After a while, she did indeed see the caravan up ahead of her, on the path.

    Kyssandra didn’t do anything to look threatening. She didn’t even know which one of these cats was even the right one. She introduced herself coyly, and hoped they would do the same. They did. Good, now she knew which one to kill. But first, browsed their wares, sold some things she had on her, pretending to be nothing more than a traveling customer. At one point, she casually asked about an orc named Ulag, saying that she had heard from a friend that he might have something she would be interested in, and was traveling with the caravans. The Khajit all looked knowingly at each other, and one surmised that “she must be into that sleeping tree sap.” But they told her where he would most likely be found, at a cave that was actually not far away, where the sleeping tree sap was made. They marked the location on her map, then made ready to head on up the path. Kyssandra began openly flirting with the one named Marandu-Jo. Just as she suspected, the rest of the caravan moved off, after some winks and smiles for their buddy. Kyssandra continued to flirt and keep him interested, until she finally saw that the rest of the caravan had gone around a bend in the path and was some distance away. Then she hit Marandu-Jo with a lightening bolt. He was not expecting it, and dropped on the first shot. Kyssandra dragged his slightly charred body off the path, into some bushes. His caravan probably wouldn’t miss him for quite some time, maybe even tomorrow.

    On the way back to the sanctuary, Kyssandra headed over to the cave that had been marked for her on her map. She would just meet this orc, and pick up the shipment of sap, and be on her way. Near the entrance, there was a giant lurking around. What was it with these orcs and giants? Kyssandra steered clear of the giant, and after three stealthy trips around the rock formation, she finally saw the entrance. She crept over to it and went inside.

    The cave was not big at all, it was just a hole in the ground, that appeared to be a shelter, nothing more. To a giant. Who was still at home. Too late, the giant spotted Kyssandra, and he did not look happy. Knowing instinctively what was about to happen, Kyssandra summoned one atronarch, then the other. The atronarchs fought the giant, and Kyssandra augmented their fireballs with some lightening, and the giant was soon history. May as well see what I can loot, she thought, and started poking around the cave.

    Suddenly, everything made sense. Kyssandra found the body of a dead orc, and in his pack, there was a shipment of sleeping tree sap. This must be Ulag. He must have been stealing, or dealing with the giants, for the sap, and something went wrong, and here he was, dead. Kyssandra helped herself to the sap shipment, and everything else she could find. She marveled, as the giant’s storage chest was as big as she was!

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    After taking what she wanted, Kyssandra simply ported back to the college. She wasn’t too keen on meeting an angry giant when she exited the cave, or any of his buddies that may be around. She had only seen one of them, but for all she knew, there could have been a whole tribe of them out there. It was simpler to just port back, dump all of the stuff she had taken from them, then portal again to Falkreath, and head back up the path to the sanctuary from there. In due time, she was walking through the familiar door to the dark brotherhood.

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    Astrid met her at the bottom of the steps. “Heard you had a bit of a problem.”
    “I got the job done.” Kyssandra replied.
    “That you did.” Astrid nodded. “For the record, anytime you get yourself caught, the brotherhood is going to deny all knowledge of you. You are on your own. But you obviously have made it back intact, and you did the job to perfection, so you will be rewarded. See our wizard here, I’ve instructed him to teach you a new summon spell, since you seem to be good at that school. You will be able to summon the spirit of an ancient assassin to help you fight, in addition to your other creatures. Now. On to the next part. If you are still interested.”
    “Of course I’m still interested,” Kyssandra nodded.
    “Good, I had hoped so.” Astrid’s eyes gleamed. “Next, we are going to kill the son of the captain of the emperor’s guard. He is here scouting the cities for the emperor’s upcoming visit. Word is, he is in Dragon Bridge on the weekends. Go there, see if you can figure out his schedule. Kill him, and plant this note on him. It frames him, and will make them thing he is the conspirator that was planning to kill the emperor. Bonus points if you do it in one of the major cities, where the guards will find him. Go see Gabriella for more information, and try not to get caught this time.”

    Kyssandra took the note, and headed to Nazir for payment on the other two contracts she had done. She also spoke to Gabriella about the new mission, and got the spell from the wizard. After all that, she headed back out, and ported home. This temporal shift spell, that ported her back the arch mage’s quarters, was fast becoming her favorite spell. It did not even cost a soul gem to cast. This time, when she got back, she decided to stay the night. It was almost dark, so she ate supper, then got another good nights rest.


    Early the next morning, it was time to head out again. This time, Kyssandra decided to port to Dawnstar. She would go to Dragon Bridge, but first she would investigate the place called Frostmere Crypt, that the wizard Fallion had told her about. Idgrod the young, the daughter of the Jarl of Morthal was having visions, and Fallion had told her this must be what the visions were of, something called the Pale Lady, in the Frostmere Crypt. Kyssandra had decided she could go there and investigate it, then stop by Morthal and report her findings to them, then continue on to Dragon Bridge and get there before nightfall.

    After porting to Dawnstar, Kyssandra went off path, through the country. Out in the middle of nowhere, she suddenly ran across a fort, or small city, or something down in a hole. She did not stop, but she did mark it on her map for future reference, and marveled once again at the hidden wonders you could run across in this land called Skyrim.

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    When she arrived at Frostmere Crypt, there was a fight going on, right outside. Before Kyssandra could intervene, one of the bandits won, beating the other ones she had been fighting. Kyssandra made ready to defend herself, but the bandit that had won the fight wasn’t interested. She said her name was Eisa, and her friend had stole a sword from the leader of the gang. She was being accused of helping him, and she wanted no more part of them.

    Kyssandra entered the crypt, summoned her atronarchs, and started killing bandits. Through reading journals that she found, and overhearing conversations, she was able to piece together most of the story. Apparently there was some sort of monster that the bandits had accidentally found, under this crypt. It was a big green underground forest, that they had found by knocking a whole in the wall. The monster had a sword, that the leader had taken for his own. This released the monster. One of the other bandits had taken the sword from the leader to put it back, and appease the monster. He obviously had not been successful.

    Kyssandra continued on through the crypt, only to kill the Pale Lady monster, to hopefully help with young Idgrod’s visions. She didn’t care about the bandits or the sword, they were only in her way. But after killing everything in the dungeon, including all the bandits, the Pale Lady, and her minions, Kyssandra decided to take the sword. The Pale Lady, who Kyssandra figured was a wispmother, was no longer a threat, so leaving the sword here meant nothing. It was cool, and she would put in with the rest of the trophies in the arch mage quarters. The underground forest was quite pretty though.

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    After dealing with the Pale Lady, Kyssandra headed on over to Morthal. She stopped by the town hall, and found young Idgrod, and asked if she felt any different. She did not, and could tell that the vision problem was still there. ‘Hmmm,’ Kyssandra thought, and went to visit the wizard Fallion.

    When confronted, Fallion admitted that sending Kyssandra after the Pale Lady to help with Idgrod’s visions was just a guess. He had heard the legend, and thought maybe that was the source. Kyssandra was incredulous. “You sent me after the wrong monster?!!” she exclaimed. She would have decked him right there in his house, but he had a child, a young apprentice present. He did tell her about a rumor he had heard, for real this time, about a child in the Jarl’s household that had gone wicked. That is all he knew though, if she wanted more information, Kyssandra would need to talk to Jonna, his sister, the innkeeper, about it. Also, Jonna was lonely, and needed some romance in her life, and he told Kyssandra she might be able to get more information if she would help in that department, too. “You want me to sleep with your sister?!!?” Kyssandra was incredulous at this point, and threw up her hands and walked out.

    Kyssandra went over to the inn, and after a very awkward encounter with Jonna, she wasn’t sure she knew any more than she had before she had come in. When she left the inn, and stopped back by the town hall to talk to young Idgrod, it was almost dark. She asked about the bits and pieces of information that Fallion and Jonna had told her, and Idgrod told her that it was too close to night, and she should come talk to her about it during the daytime. Kyssandra decided to just head on over to Dragon Bridge. This whole situation was getting weirder by the minute. If Solitude was a hotbed of political intrigue, Morthal was a hotbed of supernatural crazyness.

    There was no portal to Dragon Bridge, so Kyssandra had to do it the old fashioned way, running along the path. She thought about using the Longstride spell, but it was still light enough, even though the sun had passed the horizon, so she took it slower, enjoying the views. These marshes were very near the abandoned shack that Astrid had first taken her to. There was an odd beauty to this area, and Kyssandra thought it wouldn’t be bad to have a house in a place like this.

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    About halfway to Dragon Bridge though, it got cold, and one of those odd, chilly mists settled in. By the time Kyssandra crossed the bridge that was the town’s namesake, it was fully dark. The mist was heavy, and even the horses seemed spooked. Out in the street, some folks were talking. As she eavesdropped, er…listened, rather, Kyssandra realized that this was her prey. This was Gauis Maro, the commander’s son, and he was just heading out, and was saying farewell to some woman, obviously with whom he had a romantic involvement with.

    Gabriella had told Kyssandra that her best bet was to go to Dragon Bridge, and see if she could find a schedule, or itinerary of his town visits, as the Penitus Oculatus Outpost there in Dragon Bridge was where he was staying. She had not expected to actually find him here when she got here. But Astrid had indicated that she wanted him killed in a major city, not Dragon Bridge, so Kyssandra decided to let him go, and stick to her original plan. Since it was already dark, she went to the inn and rented a room for the night. The innkeeper came in, and Kyssandra realized that this was the woman that Gaius had been saying farewell to in the street. So the commanders son was involved with this innkeeper. Interesting.

    Later in the evening, when she noticed that most of the guards were in the inn, Kyssandra made her way down the street to the Outpost. There was one guard left inside, “Think your in the wrong place citizen-” the guard started, then turned and noticed the fetching girl that had wandered in. As she expected, as long as she was flirty and talked to him sweetly, the guard let her stay.

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    Kyssandra picked things up and looked at them, and put them down as she talked, trying to appear innocent and just absentmindedly looking at random things. She did in fact find the itinerary of Gaius Maro’s city inspections. She couldn’t hold it long enough to read it, that would be too obvious, and she didn’t trust herself to actually remember what it said, anyway. She continued to flirt with the guard, and nonchalantly hopped up on the table with the itinerary on it, knocking over a couple of bottles. As she made a show of reaching behind her to right the bottles, she felt around and grabbed the schedule, and quickly pocketed it while the guard was wasn’t looking. As soon as she had it, she jumped off the table, straightened it some more, and took her leave. No reason to push her luck here.

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    Out in the street, the weird mist was still there. Kyssandra retired to the inn, unpacked her dibella wreath, and decided to unwind and have some fun for the rest of the night.

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  • Chapter 30

    "Day of the Tentacle"

    It started out just like any other day. Kyssandra woke around dawn, ate some breakfast, and started making plans for the rest of the day. Kill Gaius. Kill Anoirath, or whatever his name was. Kill Ma- No, wait, she just had to deliver a drug shipment to him. Was this her life now, or was she playing some crime game like the Grand Stealer of Horses with her cousins?

    She really didn’t have too much of a hangover from the night before, she had not drank much, and only made one or two dibella tokens. So, feeling fairly good and rested, she first headed up to Solitude. It wasn’t that far from Dragon Bridge, and thats where Gaius’ schedule said he would be this Morndas morning. Not to mention she had watched him head out last night, and he had went up the path in that exact direction.

    After arriving in Solitude, and spending a few minutes scoping things out, she decided that this was not the city to attempt another kill in. First, it was only a couple days since she had been caught and imprisoned for killing the bride at that wedding. She had been exonerated, and she had tried to claim it was an accident, but she still didn’t know the details of who had orchestrated her release or if the powers that be actually believed her. Second, Gaius was inside the barracks, locked inside the tower. Kyssandra decided it was best not to press her luck.

    As she headed out of town, Kyssandra stopped at the caravan, and spoke to Ma’dran.
    “All right, cat, I brought you your shipment, now lay off Ysolda,” she said. “Oh, and by the way, Ulag is dead, so this is the last of the sleeping tree sap.”
    “As you wish human,” Ma’dran replied with a sigh. He proceeded to write a letter, or a note rather, then sealed it and gave it to Kyssandra. “Here, take this to her, and enjoy your victory. Tell her I hope to at least trade other things with her, if needed.”
    “My…victory?” Kyssandra cocked her head.
    Ma’dran nodded. “Do not think for one minute human girl, that I do not see through this ruse. You have killed Ulag, and you are going to take the sleeping tree sap business for yourself. Tis no matter, there are a great many things Ma’dran can trade and deal in. Perhaps there is something you will need one day…”
    “No, actually, I-” Kyssandra started, then just shook her head. “Nevermind,” she said, and putting the note in her pack she walked away.

    Heading down the path, back towards Dragon Bridge, Kyssandra thought about what to do next. She really needed to think on a good way to kill Anoraith, the merchant in Whiterun, without raising suspicion. She stopped and looked at her map. She supposed that she could head on towards Markarth, after Dragon Bridge. She had not been down that road yet, and the town that the Sisters of Dibella had asked her to go to, to check on their next Sybill, was right the on way. Just off the side of the road, was a big patch of thistle. Kyssandra had been trying different alchemical ingredients when she had time, just to get a feel for what each ingredient actually did. Mixing potions wasn’t her strong point, but she had sit through a couple lectures on it, and at least the healing potions were worth making. Each time she tried something new, it was good to not be in the middle of anything important, so if the effect of the ingredient was detrimental, it would have time to wear off. It would be a while before she would reach this town, and it was a nice day for a slow walk, so she waded into the patch of thistle. Reaching out, she broke off a branch, and- “GAAHHHHHHHHAAHHAHH”

    Kyssandra screamed as something jumped out of the bushes and attacked her. She could not even tell what it was, it jumped her from behind, and landed on her back. Before she could even think to cast her flame atronarchs, big purple tentacles were coming around her, from all angles. The tentacles groped and prodded, and ripped at her clothes. In no time, she was standing there on the path, clad only in her boots, with this, this whatever it was, attached to her bare back. She did not think at this point the atronarchs would do any good. They simply cast fireballs, and this thing was now suctioned onto her, enveloping her with its slimy tentacles, and if the atronarchs cast fireballs at it, they would hit her too. Kyssandra rubber her head in thought, what to do, what to do??

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    She picked up her pack and stumbled as best she could down towards the village of Dragon Bridge. Perhaps someone there could help her get this thing off. If she didn’t know any better, that seemed like what its main goal was with her. The first person she came to was a guard on the path. She pleaded with him for help, but he just laughed at her. She pressed on until she came to the inn she had stayed in last night.

    “What in the nine have you got yourself into?” the innkeeper lady stared at her incredulously.
    “I… nhhh. I don’t…know” Kyssandra said. “I… hoped you…coul nhh… could help.”
    “Well, I would think the way you were acting last night, with your wreath of Dibella and all, that you’d be pretty happy with this thing. Don’t exactly need a man, now, do ya?” she chuckled.
    "You don’t…no…uhhhh… you don’t understand…I can’t remove…it…and its no-…not stopping…nnhhhhh…and its ugly and…aghhh…slimy. I can’t…"
    The innkeeper waved her hand, “Shush girl, I understand, I was just having some fun. No, I can’t help you, but there is an alchemist across the path. Go see her, maybe she knows something about it.”

    Kyssandra stumbled across the street, and into the alchemist’s shop. Sure enough, this lady actually knew what the creature was, and even had a book on it. She said it was called a tentacle parasite, and while uncommon, was not unheard of. It would only attach itself to females, and would feed off of her passions, and would continue until it had drained every bit of her stamina. According to the book, the only known way to remove it, without hurting the girl, was to make a salve and a paste, combine them into one foul smelling paste, then spread it upon the tentacles, and it would cause the thing to release.

    The alchemist did not have any of the ingredients listed, though. Feeling compassion, she just gave the book to Kyssandra, rather than have her try to remember the long list of ingredients.

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    Kyssandra left through the back door of the shop, and immediately invoked her spell to teleport home. The arch mage quarters had everything stashed in it. Surely she could find the ingredients she needed in there.

    The air shimmered, and she appeared in the suite. She ran over to the spot where the alchemy table and cooking pot was, and looked at the chest labeled crafting supplies. There was nothing in it! All the shelves in this alcove had places for ingredients, but there was nothing there! What?!! How could Savos have EVERYTHING in here, except for alchemy ingredients?! Kyssandra begin to tear the place apart. Where previously she had been very careful, and had not even looked in many cabinets and dressers, because she felt like she shouldn’t, now she just didn’t care. This thing was driving her crazy. She was like a thief ransacking a house, she was just throwing open doors, tearing drawers from dressers, looking everywhere for any ingredient on the list.

    At one point, she stopped short. As she tore at some cabinets, she hit a hidden lever, and a whole part of the stone wall slid down, revealing a hidden alcove behind it. As crazy as things were at the moment, she balked at the sight. She was sure, no one but the arch mage knew this was here. There were a couple of shrine statues to the different gods, the ones that you could touch and invoke the powers of that deity, that you could usually only find at the shrines themselves in here. There was a hidden safe, and there was a very mysterious and unlabeled portal orb. It looked just like the orbs that she had been using in the hall of attainment, that ported you to different locations, but this one had no label on it, no indication of where it would take you. She wanted to try it…but not in this condition.

    Taking a good long look at the list, and after calming down a bit and going through her own stores, she realized that she actually had about half the stuff she needed. Garlic, glowing mushrooms, this was actually stuff she had been using for her alchemy classes. Most of the other stuff looked like it should be fairly common, or easy to get. She thought for a few moments. She had access to those portal orbs. She grabbed one of her big fur cloaks, and pulled it around her as best she could. She had plenty of soul gems at the moment. She would use the portal orbs to travel to every single city’s alchemist, and hope that she could find what she needed.

    Even though she now had the cloak wrapped around her as tightly as she could, Kyssandra knew that it wasn’t enough. It helped a good bit, but anyone who looked closely would still be able to tell what was happening. For this reason, she chose to go to Riften first. The alchemy shop in Riften was on the lower level of walkways, and she knew she could get there easily without many people seeing her. Riften was a city of thieves, so it was built in a way that you could carry out your business and get around discreetly.

    Several of these portals, Kyssandra had not tried yet. Riften was one of them. When the air stopped shimmering, she looked around to see where she was. It did not take long to realize, she was in the Riften graveyard. She looked around, did a double take, then checked her book to make sure. Lavender was something she needed a good bit of. There was lavender everywhere around her. Not caring at this point that she was in a graveyard, she started picking every bit of lavender that she could find.

    After that, she made her way down the steps to the lower part of town. Around, through the dark areas, she found the alchemy shop. She had already been in here, and met these folks. She vaguely thought she was supposed to be getting something for the apprentice girl in here, but right now it did not matter. The three people in here marveled at her predicament, but they were able to provide some of the ingredients that she was looking for. The girl, the Black-briar daughter, told her that purple mountain flowers were what she was going to have the hardest time getting. Although they had few here, no one else would have much of them, and the potion recipe called for twenty. They actually grew in abundance along the path from Riften to Helgen, and Kyssandra would have better luck just walking the path and picking her own, rather than searching for them in shops further away. The problem was, there were many types of mountain flowers that grew along that path. She would need luck to find twenty purple ones.

    So Kyssandra made her way out the back entrance of Riften, and started stumbling along the path towards Helgen, hunting purple mountain flowers. There was supposedly a field of mountain flowers at a place called Goldenglow Estates, but the guard at the gate would not let her in, under any circumstance. She continued along the path, finding mountain flowers off all colors, but only one in a million it seemed, were purple. So that proved to be the rest of her day, stumbling along a path searching for purple flowers, buckling to her knees every few minutes as the tentacles got the better of her, then getting up and going some more, while she had the stamina to do so.

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    This continued well into the night. There was no point in stopping to try to sleep. She passed the orc encampment, and ran across several other places of interest, as she explored every bit of ground on and off the path. She found a soldiers outpost, but they didn’t have anything. Finally she stopped, at an abandoned alchemists shack that she had ran across when she had traveled this path from Helgen. The alchemist had vanished, but her wares were still there. Kyssandra helped herself to the few things on her list. Since it was now about 3am, she collapsed on the vacant bed, in the abandoned shack, and tried to get some sleep. She really didn’t care at this point who or what would come by and find her.


    The next morning the sun woke Kyssandra, as it shown on her face through the cracks in the wall. She had slept fitfully, but she had gotten a little bit of rest. The parasite was still there, still going groping and doing its thing, but she had managed to sleep. She could tell that she was sort of getting used to it, but she would not be able able to function in this state forever. She had to keep moving.

    She knew the path well enough to know that there would be no more mountain flowers. From here the path turned barren, and snowy. So she headed up to Ivarstead, which was not very far away. It was the little small village where she had the contract on the crazy man. They had an alchemy shop, she remembered. The alchemist there had a few more things from her list, but no purple mountain flowers. Kyssandra headed on the path past Ivarstead, as the climate there was much like the path between Riften and Helgen. Sure enough, she was rewarded with a couple more purple flowers.

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    She also came across another guard tower, one that wasn’t marked on her map. She asked the guards there if they had any alchemy supplies, but they just looked at her funny and shook their heads. She was not in a state of mind to dwell on this, but something just didn’t look right, so she continued on her way. A little later, she found a man on the path, laying beside a broken cart. He claimed to have been accosted by bandits, and pleaded with Kyssandra to help him make it up to the guard tower before the bandits came back. Kyssandra obliged, as the tower was very close, and may as well help this guy out, maybe it would generate some good karma for her. As they got close to the tower, he told her to wait, and he would come back with some gold, in payment for her help. Kyssandra stood for a moment, enduring the tentacles, when what hair was not covered by a parasite on the back of her neck raised. Something was wrong, she knew it. She already had mentally prepared her atronarch summoning spell, just in case the bandits that this guy was afraid of showed up, and trusting her instinct, she went ahead and summoned both of them.

    Just in time, it seemed. As the second atronarch appeared, the man came back down the path, fully healed it seemed, with the guards from the tower. Only these were not guards, Kyssandra now realized, these WERE the bandits. And they were all on the same side. And had apparently decided on kidnapping her. Kyssandra vaguely remembered the woman that she had ran into on a path towards Helgen that had told her she had escaped from being held in a tower by some bandits. This was the area the woman had been talking about. This was not the tower that the woman had been held in, (she had marked it on Kyssandra’s map), but it was not far away. Kyssandra would bet that these bandits were related to those bandits.

    With the tentacle parasite not caring one way or another what was happening to Kyssandra, it made it very hard to fight. She could cast spells, but could not keep her concentration long enough to cast more than two or three at a time. Luckily, she had been honing her skills in conjuration. She just followed her normal way of fighting, and hid, while keeping an eye on the atronarchs, and keeping both of them alive and fighting for her. Every once in a while a bandit would see her, and come towards her, and she would manage to get off a chain lightening spell. Finally it was over, and she had survived.

    Even though her predicament was dire, there was no reason not to loot the bandits lair. Kyssandra found gold, some gems, and a couple nice looking weapons, one a nasty looking battle axe. She knew it was too big for her, she would never use it, but she had started a trophy collection of these weapons, especially nice looking unique ones that came from people that attacked her first. The battle axe was really heavy though. She left it, and stumbled around a little longer, down the path, checking for purple mountain flowers. Only finding a few, and realizing that the clime of the path was changing to a more barren state, she made her way back up to the battle axe, picked it up, and ported back to the arch mage quarters.

    Next, Kyssandra decided to port to Markarth. The portal there, she remembered, was up on a hill on the highest point of the city. She remembered distinctly that it had flowers growing around it. Maybe, just maybe… the air stopped shimmering. She looked around. No such luck, there were no purple flowers in this garden. But she did know the alchemist here pretty well, as she had done a contract for the girl. She made her way down the the shop, and crossed a few more ingredients off the list. On a whim, she decide to go up to the temple of Dibella to see if they might have anything that could help. They did not. Kyssandra did turn in the donations she had collected, then excused herself and ported back to the college.

    Where should she go next? It was now night time again, so Kyssandra knew she should probably just stay here. Suddenly, she remembered the Lustorium, or whatever it was called, the place where the college grew herbs! She ran across the grounds and checked it. Yes, it had at least one, sometimes two of each pf the botanical ingredients on her list! She didn’t care who said what at this point, she picked everything she needed, then headed to bed.


    The night had been long, it had consisted of what seemed like long naps and lurid dreams. She knew she had slept, but her stamina was still drained, and she knew for a fact now, that she could not continue like this. It would only get worse.

    So Kyssandra got up next morning, and made ready to head out again, in search of the last of the ingredients. She still needed more purple flowers, skeever tails, sabre cat eyes, and of all things, ale. She had thought tundra cotton would be hard to find because she needed a lot of it, like the flowers, but apparently it was way more plentiful than purple flowers. Ale should be easy, so she wasn’t worried at all about it. No one so far had skeever tails and sabre cat eyes, so that was starting to worry her a bit. Lets see, as she looked at her map. Dawnstar was the next closest city with a portal orb, so she decided to head over there.

    The woman at the Dawnstar shop didn’t have any of the actual ingredients, but she did have some good information. There was a lighthouse just southeast of Dawnstar, not far away. She remembered, that the family that lived there, the little girl had liked purple flowers. So there was a good chance she may have some. As for the eyes and tails, she said Kyssandra would probably be better off just hunting skeevers and sabre cats herself, than finding the items in a shop. The eyes were kind of rare, they usually sold as quick as you got them in.

    So Kyssandra headed down to the lighthouse. It wasn’t that far, as the woman had said. Kyssandra knew something was wrong though, when she saw the dead horse laying near the doorstep. She summoned her atronarchs, and went inside the open door. The family, it seemed, had been massacred. At least part of them. Kyssandra poked around, and found a few journals, that each family member had kept. From what she could piece together, something bad was living in the cellar. Dad had gone down there to check it out, then a couple of the others. Apparently whatever was down there had come up here and finished the wife off. Kyssandra looked around a little more, and indeed, in the little girl’s room, there was a whole vase of purple mountain flowers and lavender. Rather than let them sit here and rot, Kyssandra took them all. Finally, she had all the flowers she needed. What a chore that had been!

    Kyssandra decided to check the cellar. The other family member’s bodies were down there. In one of the journals, the dad’s, he had talked about how the lighthouse was his dream, and when his time came, he wanted his ashes sprinkled into the lighthouse fire. Kyssandra decided since she was blessed with finally finding the flowers she needed here, from the little girl, the least she could do would be to carry out the man’s final wishes. Who knows, maybe they had skeever tails or sabre cat eyes down there. There were none, but what she did find was what attacked those family members. It was those Chaurus bug things, the things that looked like giant glowing scorpions.

    These things were tough to fight, so in addition to her two atronarchs, Kyssandra decided to summon one of her other ‘once a day’ pets. She just didn’t think she had the stamina or fortitude to fight anymore, herself. She would have to rely on pets, from here on out till she could get rid of this thing. As she started to summon, she suddenly remembered the natural creatures that she could pick from. Skeevers and sabre cats were both on the list! She remembered the three skeevers that had followed her around a while back, and she summoned them. As soon as the bugs were taken care of, she turned and killed the skeevers. Voila! three skeever tails, exactly what she needed.

    She turned her attention back to the cellar. She could tell now, that this thing turned into a cave, where the chaurus bugs had crawled out of. Who knows how far or how deep this was. Chaurus bugs were very tough, and she didn’t think she could handle a whole cave of them right now. Kyssandra went back up top, but vowed to come back here when she was able, and avenge this family, and perhaps repay them for helping her find enough flowers.

    Back outside, Kyssandra tried to summon a sabre cat. This was a once a day spell, so it did not work, it would be tomorrow before she could do it again. And since she needed two eyes, it would be two days before she could find relief. Rather than port back, and try another city, she decided to take the alchemist’s advice. She would go cross country and go towards Whiterun, to visit that alchemy shop, but perhaps she would run into some sabre cats along the way. It was getting harder and harder to concentrate for any length of time at all, so she tried to keep her atronarchs out and summoned, lest she be surprised by one.

    There were no sabre cats so far, as she came to, and crossed the main path that led across the northern part of Skyrim. But right here was the inn that she had stopped in several times, called the Nightingale inn. Being chilly, wearing nothing but a fur cloak, some high boots, and tentacles, she stopped in to warm herself by the fire. No customers were in here this early in the day, so she took opportunity to by some ale, knowing that was last on her list if she could just find two sabre cat eyes.

    Kyssandra stepped back out again, onto the path. Before she could move too far off it, the tentacles struck again. Her knees buckled, she stood there breathing heavily in the throes of passion, waiting for it to subside. She thought she was alone, but out of the corner of eye, she saw a man approaching along the path. She managed to gain some semblance of control, and stood up as he got closer. He looked vaguely familiar

    BY.
    THE.
    NINE.

    This was none other than Gaius Maro, the very man she was supposed to be tracking and killing. This was the main path, and he must be on his way from Solitude, or whereever he had been, to Riften. What were the chances of this happening? As he walked by, he just looked at Kyssandra with disdain. “I don’t know what exactly you are trying to sell, but I will have none of it. I have a girlfriend back waiting for me back in Dragon’s Bridge each weekend, and I am on important business for the emperor,” he huffed, and kept walking.

    Kyssandra could do nothing but chuckle. The gods only knew what went through his mind, seeing her standing beside the path beside an inn, in the state she was in, holding a bottle of ale, with tentacles slithering out from under her cloak. She let him pass. Astrid had been explicit in that she wanted him killed in a major city, so he would be found with the incriminating note on him easily. The one thing she did learn though, was that she would probably not be able to lure him away to a less visible place with her body. This was something to think about, she would need a good plan to ambush him quietly.

    She headed on south through the country towards Whiterun. She knew she had seen sabre cats out here in the wild, somewhere. Sure enough, not far from Whiterun, she found them, a pack of two. She was ready, with her atronarchs. They did the job, and she had the eyes she needed. Since she was so near Whiterun, she gathered her cloak up, as best she could, went into the city, and hurriedly took back alleys to the inn. There were a few smart remarks as she entered, but she purchased 5 more bottles of ale, then went out the door to the alley, and ported back home.

    As soon as she got to the arch mage quarters, Kyssandra went over to the alchemy table and cook pot. She had all the ingredients, so she mixed up the salve, then the paste, just like the book said. She followed the recipe implicitly. She then combined them, and had the result. Just as the book warned, this stuff smelled awful. Hoping for the best, she began to spread it on the slimy tentacles. It was working!! Each time she put the foul smelling paste on a tentacle, it let loose of her and retracted. Very soon, the whole thing detached itself from her back, and lay there in the floor for a second, then just disintegrated into nothingness.

    Kyssandra lay back on the floor and stared at the ceiling. FINALLY. She was free, she could relax and was overwhelmed by the feeling of peace she now felt. After laying and just relaxing for some time, she finally got up. She didn’t even know what time it was, but she had one thing that had been nagging at her, that she wanted to do, before anything else. She had to find out where that secret portal orb went, then one in the hidden alcove.

    First, she dressed. The tentacle monster had completely tore up her grey outfit that was her normal attire. It was tattered beyond repair, but she would make it anew, when she had time, since she liked it. So she poked around through the closets of armor she had looted, until she found something she at least halfway liked. It was black and red, very dark brotherhoody, but a bit more revealing and Kyssandra-like than the drab armor they had issued her when she joined.

    After dressing, Kyssandra opened the secret alcove, and reached out the orb. It worked exactly like the other ones, it required a filled soul gem. She figured that, so she was ready, and allowed one to be used. The air shimmered, as usual, and when it cleared, she found herself-

    By.
    the.
    nine.
    again.

    Kyssandra looked around in disbelief.

    She had no idea exactly where in Skyrim she was, but she was standing on the side of a mountain somewhere, standing in the MIDDLE OF A PATCH OF PURPLE MOUNTAIN FLOWERS.

    Two days she had searched Skyrim for these things. She could do nothing but sit and shake her head.

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    There was a bench beside her. This was some type of place apparently that the archmage could come and have a moment of peace? Kyssandra finally moved over to the bench and enjoyed it for what it was.

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    Gradually, she got up and started looking around, trying to figure out where she was, exactly. Nothing really looked familiar. She was up on the side of a mountain, somewhere, wait-
    There was a whole cottage up here, just around the corner…

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    She walked up to the door, and it was locked. She tried the key to the archmage’s chambers, the one that fit all the locked doors in there, and sure enough it worked on this one. She went in and looked around, staring dumbly. This cozy cottage contained a hot tub, a fireplace, and every alchemical ingredient that she had originally NOT found in the suites shelves.

    0_1485053693930_20170120213609_1.jpg

    This little cottage was small, but had three floors. It was cozy, but quaint, and unlike the large suite back at the college, with all the cold stone, this place was warm and relaxing. Back outside, she walked around the small ledge. There was a dias, so you could port back, a garden with all sorts of botanical ingredients growing in it, and nothing else, most importantly, no way in, out, up, or down, the mountain. You could only port here from the orb in the secret hidden alcove, and you could only get back with the dias or the temporal shift spell.
    SHE was the only person alive, at this moment, that knew about this place.

    It was going to be good to be Arch Mage.



  • Chapter 31

    “Stalking, and other Madness”

    She supposed It was time.

    Kyssandra had rested for a while at the mountain cottage, then ported back to the college and rested a bit longer there in her, the arch mage’s chambers. She surmised that she needed to get on with it, the killing of one Gaius Maro, who was the son of the commander of the guard. From the schedule she had lifted, he should be in Riften this evening, checking on security there.

    It was fairly late in the afternoon, so she went ahead and took the portal orb to Riften. Kyssandra wasn’t really sure where Maro would be, and it wasn’t like you could walk around and ask the whereabouts of someone checking on security for the emperor, without raising suspicion on yourself. She wandered around the keep area, the guard barracks, and the Bee and Barb, but did not see him. It was still a good few hours until dark, so she decided to head down the path to Shor’s Stone, the small village where she had cleared a mine of spiders. The shop there had a good selection of things, and an orc there supposedly had a book that was on her list to collect for someone or other.

    Last time she had taken this path, she had stumbled upon a bandit hideout. So this time, she took the other path, correctly guessing that today’s path was the safer of the two. Not far away from Shor’s Stone, she saw another traveler, headed up the path towards her, going towards Riften. By the gods, that was him. again. Gauis Maro was headed right for her. This would the second time that she had inadvertently ran across her prey on a random path.

    It was an ideal place, out here in the wild, no one else was around, anywhere. But, the whole object to this kill was that someone would find him with the incriminating letter she would plant, so Astrid had said to make sure the job was done inside one of the major cities. Nevertheless, Kyssandra could not help herself. As she and Maro met, she did not move out of his way on the path, and looked him in the eye.

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    “Move along citizen, I have important things to do,” Gauis repeated his same monotonous greeting, but then stopped. He did a visible double take, looking at Kyssandra. "Wait…have we met before?"
    Kyssandra was beginning to enjoy this a little too much. The power, the thrill of the hunt, the knowledge that she knew something this man did not, and controlled his destiny, even at this moment…
    “Why, no sir,” she replied, eyelashes fluttering, “I don’t believe we have.”

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    She was pretty sure he had seen her at Dragon Bridge, as she arrived in town just as he was leaving, even if it was only a glance. Then, on the road outside the Nightingale Inn, when the tentacles were attacking. Now here. But each time she had been wearing something slightly different, and acting differently. Here she just held his gaze, and watched as he made his way around her, feeling a rush, as she could visibly see the confusion on his face.

    After he passed, she made her way on to Shor’s Stone. It was pretty uneventful, she browsed the wares of the local shops, found the book she was supposed to collect, and visited the mine that she had cleared the spiders from. She was pleased to see that the mine was now fully staffed and operational.

    A little later, she headed back to Riften. She stopped by The Bee and Barb inn, and dropped of some amethysts she had found to Talen-Jei, the proprietor. He had asked her a while back, on her first visit, if she ran across any, to keep him in mind, he wanted to use them to make a wedding ring for his beloved, or something. “Oh thank you!” he exclaimed, telling her she was the first adventurer that had actually remembered his plea, and brought something back to him. “Think nothing of it,” Kyssandra had replied. In this line of work, it would never hurt to have the innkeepers as good friends.

    Evening had now fallen, so she looked around a bit, trying to figure out where Maro had gone. She asked Talen-Jei if he had booked a room at The Bee and Barb. Talon replied that he had not, and as far as he knew, if Maro was with the guard, we would probably stay in the barracks tonight. Kyssandra headed over there to see if any opportunities were available.

    As it turned out, there would be none. So as not to be conspicuous, she pulled out her wreath of Dibella and donned it. A young girl in black armor poking about in the guard’s barracks would stand out like a sore thumb. But a sister of Dibella looking for donations with her wreath on, the holy harlots as some had called her, would not be uncommon at all in the same military barracks.

    Kyssandra knew immediately though, there was no chance she would be able to kill Maro here. These barracks were full for the night. There were too many people around to kill him and get the note on his body unnoticed. So she sauntered around once, smiling and winking at the soldiers. As she walked by Gauis, she made sure to smile, and winked when he looked up at her. As she saw the recognition in his eyes, she slipped out the door, around a corner, and quickly cast the spell to teleport home. She could imagine him leaping to his feet and opening the door, looking out to find no one there. It almost made her giddy.

    She spent the rest of the evening at the college, messing around with the alchemy table, studying some lessons, and arranging the arch mage chambers the way she wanted it.

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    The next morning, she tried studying for a while longer, then boredom took over. According to Maro’s schedule, he would be in Whiterun today. But he could not port there like she could, so she had to think of something else to do to pass the time, until he got there. She didn’t want to get into anything that could take too long. Stalking this guy, while fun, had proven one thing to her. She was only going to find one moment that would be ideal, and she would have to be there, and be ready to take it when it happened.

    She suddenly thought of Morthal, and the girl there, Idgrod, who had told her to come back and talk to her sometime during the day. No time like the present. Kyssandra ate breakfast, then headed to Morthal, via the portal room. It wasn’t a very big town, and looking for the Jarl’s daughter wasn’t like looking for the commander of guard security, so it wasn’t long before Kyssandra found Idgrod the Younger, outside the spice shop.

    “Oh, there you are! I was hoping you’d come back!” Idgrod looked genuinely happy to see Kyssandra.
    “Well, you told me you’d rather talk, sometime during the day, and…well, this is day.” Kyssandra shrugged. “I killed the monster that Fallion thought it may be, but…obviously that was the wrong one? You are still seeing these visions, correct?”
    “Yes, I’m afraid so,” Idgrod sighed. “I didn’t think it would be that easy.”
    “So, what now?” Kyssandra asked. “How can I help?”
    “Well,” Idgrod lowered her head, “thats why I asked you to come during the day. There…is a way…to at least make the visions a little less daunting, perhaps easier to take and they happen less, and they-”
    “Anything. What is it?” Kyssandra interrupted. Was Idgrod blushing?
    “Weellllll…”
    “Out with it.”
    “Well,” Idgrod raised her head, and yes she was blushing. “It seems, if I…um…if I am able to reach a certain state of pleasure,…that seems to alleviate the visions for a while…”

    Kyssandra had come to expect the unexpected since she had arrived in Skyrim, but she had not seen this one coming.
    “Wait, you want me to sleep with you?” she asked.
    “No, no, no, you can’t do that” Idgrod replied. “I have never lain with anyone, man or woman, and mother says I am not allowed to, with these visions. I can only alleviate them by…by…” she lowered her head again, now blushing profusely, " by pleasuring myself…"
    “And you need me for that, …how?” Kyssandra wasn’t quite sure she was hearing this right.
    “According to mother, I can only do it in a special spot, out in the forest. It would help alleviate the visions greatly if I could go to that spot and do this. But thats why I asked you to come back during the day; the forest is dangerous at night, but I still need someone I can trust to accompany me and-”

    Kyssandra DEFINITELY did not see this one coming.
    “Wait, wait, you want me to go with you into the forest to some special spot and watch you pleasure yourself?”
    “No! no!” Idgrod exclaimed, “There are creatures and bandits everywhere out there. I need you to watch FOR me, not watch ME…not like father does…well, I don’t know if I would say he is watching…looming would be a better word for it. H-”
    "Okay, Okay! Kyssandra was holding her temples with her thumb and finger now. “Just…go! I’ll do what I can…”

    With that, Idgrod ran off, with Kyssandra following. Through the gates, into the forest they went. Idgrod stopped at some type of stone dais, like a ritual stone, and began to undo the laces of her clothes. Kyssandra looked around in disbelief.
    “This? This is the place?”
    “Yes, we are here,” Idgrod replied.
    “But…”
    “It is a sacred family site, mother says-”

    Kyssandra had thought this madness could not get any worse.
    “Idgrod, there is a burned body here.”

    0_1485824299389_20170130193119_1.jpg

    “Yes, I know, thats my sister.”
    “WHAT?!”
    “That is Laura, my sister. She was having the visions also, but she succumbed to her desires, with another…mother and father said she was wicked. So…that was her punishment.”
    “Wha-…Bu-…I c-…I don- …and your goin-…” Kyssandra could only sputter out some broken syllables. She had absolutely no words for this. Idgrod had already started proceeding with the task at hand, so Kyssandra just turned and looked towards the woods, shaking her head in utter disbelief.
    “Just keep watch, just keep watch, it will all be over soon,” she said to herself. “just keep watch, just keep wa-”

    Wait, something was coming.
    Out in the forest, Kyssandra could see a figure slowly approaching. She placed a hand on Dawnbreaker, and mentally got a spell ready. Was the girl actually right, that someone would attack during this madness? As the figure came closer, Kyssandra held. It was oddly glowing, blue, like the little ghost girl that Kyssandra had met in back in the house burned by the vampires. Only this ghost seemed to be a grown woman. Oh by the nine, suddenly it clicked in her mind.

    “Laura?” Kyssandra asked the ghost, as it approached her.
    “you…know…me” the ghost said, as she looked at Kyssandra.
    “just…sorta kinda pieced it all together…” Kyssandra said, biting her lower lip and shrugging.
    “help…me…” the ghost continued. “free…me”
    “ALL DONE!” Idgrod called. “See you back at town!”
    “Wait- what?” Kyssandra looked back and forth.
    “the fire…it burns!” the ghost cried.
    “What? what can I do to help you?” Kyssandra, oddly, had developed an affinity for these trapped souls, after dealing with the little girl.
    “make it right…” the ghost said, “I am trapped here…make this right…”
    “I will do what I can, I promise,” Kyssandra said. She HAD to be dreaming. Had to be. No way in nine this crazyness was real. But she headed back to town anyway.

    Back in town, her first stop was the wizard Fallion. She thought she might feign interest in browsing through the spells he had for sale, and while doing so discreetly see if he knew anything more about the wicked child rumor he had told her to pursue. Kyssandra thought this might be referring to Laura, the ghost. He actually had heard of Laura, the other sister, but he had never considered that she was the wicked one. From what he had heard, Laura was a good person. He had thought it was probably one of the other kids, one of the younger ones. He had heard another rumor that Idgrod, the older, had hated Laura, and made a pact with a daedre to trade her soul for another child. Perhaps it was Idgrod, the older, the jarl herself, that was lying. At any rate, there was seemed to be some dark secret here that was being hidden away. Kyssandra found a couple of spells she liked, and went ahead and purchased them while there. He actually had a very good selection.

    Next, she headed for the town hall. Time to confront Idgrod the older, or whatever she called herself. Kyssandra entered the hall, and strode right up to her. Idgrod eyed her up and down.

    “YOU’VE been delving into places you should not be.” Idgrod said, knowingly.
    “YOU’VE been keeping secrets that you should not be.” Kyssandra shot back.
    “You should keep your nose out of things, young lady.” Idgrod looked at her sternly. “you may not like the consequences.”
    “I can handle the consequences.” Kyssandra said, "Lets talk about Laura."
    Idgrod’s eyes flashed angrily. “Gutter trash.” she said flatly.
    “I don’t care what you think of her, and I can’t change what you’ve already done.” Kyssandra was in the presence of a Jarl, in her own town hall. She realized she needed to choose her words carefully. “At the very least, you should bury her body, so her spirit can be free.”
    “Perhaps.” Idgrod looked uninterested.
    “And what about Idgrod the younger?” Kyssandra continued, pressing her luck, "you should allow her to be with anyone she wants. Stop telling her she has to be by herself."
    Idgrod looked up, almost laughing. "Wait, you want her, don’t you?"
    Kyssandra was taken aback. “What? Me? No, i-”
    “You are in love, aren’t you. The silly little girl is in looooove.” Idgrod had changed from moody and dark to outright sarcastic.
    “I’m just saying that this is driving her mad,” Kyssandra tried to explain.
    “Well, she would make someone a good wife one day.” An odd expression came over Idgrod’s face and Kyssandra swore she heard sarcasm in the woman’s voice as she spoke. “Tell you what, thane. You have been instrumental in some of our vampires, so I shall give you this. For a price. Heheheheh. I want the Wabbajack.”
    “The wabba-what?”
    “The Wabbajack. It is a daedric artifact, from Sheogorath, last heard of in the east wing of the Blue Palace of Solitude. Go there, and get it for me, and I’ll let you bury Laura and bed Idgrod, if that makes you happy.”

    Kyssandra said she would do what she could, and then left, shaking her head. Sheogorath was the prince of madness. It was only fitting.

    It was now just after lunch, so back to stalking. Rather than risk some other craziness delaying her, Kyssandra just teleported back to the college, and then to Whiterun. At least, if anything happened, she would be here in the same city that Gaius Maro was supposed to be in. According to his schedule, he was supposed to be checking the barracks and security up at the palace, then would stay a bit in The Bannered Mare Inn tonight.

    While passing the time, Kyssandra went to the blacksmith’s shop, and decided to buy some new armor and robes. The tentacle thing had tore up her grey adventuring outfit. She kinda liked this black armor she had on, but, it was light leather. She had gotten used to wearing just simple clothes, not made for armor. Most mages scoffed at armor anyway, as they said it inhibited casting of spells. She tended to agree, after trying both. She had simple clothes, but they were drab. She had always wanted something more flashy. Flashy and revealing, that was the style she liked, if she could choose. If she was going to be arch mage, she would need a style to be known for, right? She picked out a couple outfits that she thought might reflect this new look.

    Kyssandra then went over to the inn. Just outside, she noticed that her other contract, Anoriath, the huntsman, was still dutifully manning his meat booth.

    Inside the inn, Kyssandra bought some food, and casually asked the innkeeper if she had any vacancies tonight. “I heard some important commander was in town tonight, and figured you might be full,” she said. “Oh, yeah, he is here,” the innkeeper had replied, “but he hasn’t rented a room. He rarely actually stays, he usually just comes in for a drink and spends the evening here, then leaves. You want it?” What could she do, she had to take the room, or it would arouse suspicion that she was looking for Maro. It was about this time that Kyssandra realized she had spent a wee bit too much on her new clothes. Apparently her ‘style’ was expensive. She only had 16 gold left, and the room cost 10.

    Kyssandra walked around the inn, as she ate her food. This would not do. She had been at this inn a couple of times. It was one of the busiest ones in Skyrim. There were people everywhere, and it was never empty. There was no way she would be able to kill him in here, and get away with it, especially if he didn’t rent a room to sleep for the night. She went back outside, to think.

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    Back outside, she ran into Ysolda. She had almost forgotten about her. Kyssandra gave her the letter from Ma’dran. Ysolda didn’t take it too bad. She seemed more interested in the sleeping tree sap, and Kyssandra. Kyssandra was quite interested in Ysolda, not to mention that whole mammoth tusk deal, and how it worked. The two girls seemed to get along quite nicely, so they spent the rest of the afternoon together, at Ysolda’s house.

    Sometime in the evening, Kyssandra realized she had lost track of time. She still needed to find a way to kill Gaius Maro. She quickly excused herself, and headed out into the streets. Guards seemed to be patrolling everywhere. As Kyssandra wandered around the city, she gradually found herself up at the Dragonsreach, the main palace itself. Maro still wasn’t at the inn, so he must still be inside. As she stood there looking around, just outside the palace, Kyssandra noticed something. There was only one guard here, making a circuit around the entire palace. All the rest were either in the city streets below, or inside. Silently, Kyssandra watched, and timed his route. She pretended to be just a tourist, gazing at the beautiful sunset from up here. But could this be it? Could this be the chance she had been hoping for? If Gauis came out at the right time, and she were quick enough, with some luck she could kill him before the guard came back around.

    Each time, after the guard went by, she readied herself, her atronarchs, and her spells, and stood by the entrance, waiting.

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    Soon, she saw him. Gauis Maro exited the door. The guard had just left and was out of sight. This was the moment. Kyssandra did not hesitate, she walked right up to him. Maro immediately recognized her this time.

    “YOU!” he cried, “You have been stalking me throughout Skyrim! You have yet to offer yourself, so what treachery are you up to?”
    “Just after I kill you, I’m going to kill the emperor,” Kyssandra whispered, as she slid the small dagger into his stomach.

    Maro’s eyes widened as the dagger went in. “Assassin…” he tried to say. He backed away and tried to fight, but the atronarchs came out of hiding and hit him with small fireballs from both sides. Kyssandra sheathed the dagger and drew Dawnbreaker and finished him off.

    Quickly, Kyssandra dispelled the atronarchs, and planted the incriminating note into Maro’s pockets. This would be epic, she thought. Astrid had wanted him dead in a major city, where he and the note would be found easily. What better place than on the very steps of Dragonsreach itself. You couldn’t get any more major than this.

    Kyssandra was smiling to herself as she turned to head down the steps towards the city. No one had seen this. She had got away with it. But there was someone coming up the steps.

    Kyssandra had to do something. Had this person seen anything? If the person saw her leaving, she could be incriminated. But the guard was behind her, coming back along his route very soon. Kyssandra reached the top of the steps just as the person’s head appeared.
    It was Ysolda.

    There was just a slight moment, where Kyssandra saw Ysolda glance at the scene before her, and her eyes widened as she processed what had probably happened.
    “We need to get out of here.” Kyssandra said, as she entwined her arm in Ysolda’s and guided her back down the steps. “What are you doing up here, anyway?”
    “I was just stalking you.” Ysolda said cheerily. “You left in a hurry, and I always figured you were more than just an average adventurer…”
    “Ysolda, I need to keep this quiet.” Kyssandra pleaded.
    “Shhhh, don’t worry,” Ysolda said as she put a finger to Kyssandra’s lips. "You remember the things I do, the products I sell for money, and you are privy to my trade secrets. Your secrets are safe with me. And you are welcome to hide in my house anytime."
    Ysolda winked and headed down the street.

    Kyssandra knew she could go stay at Ysolda’s that night, but she elected to stay at the room she rented at The Bannered Mare. She could have ported back to the college also. But she figured if she rented the room, and stayed there, after asking the innkeep about Maro, it would raise the least suspicion if she just pretended to be a travelling sister of Dibella who just casually asked about vacancies, and when there was one, took it. Plus, she could rise early in the morning and see if Anoraith happened to go outside the city gates and hunt.

    That is exactly what she did. Kyssandra donned her wreath and took a couple donations, just enough to keep her cover, then retired to her room. Early in the morning, around 6am, she rose and washed, and ate breakfast. No one was outside at the merchant booths at this hour, so she made her way to The Drunken Hunstman, the shop where Anoraith and his brother lived. She stood there from six to eight, two full hours of boredom, watching the building. At eight o’clock sharp, Anoraith exited the shop, and headed up towards his merchant booth.

    Kyssandra decided that stalking was not the thing for her.



  • Chapter 32

    “Incidents and Accidents”

    Nope, stalking wasn’t for Kyssandra. She had a short little attention span. Patiently watching someone was not her forte, she decided. She ported back to her room at the college, freshened up, ported immediately to Falkreath, and was at the Brotherhood Sanctuary within the hour.

    As Kyssandra headed down the steps, she saw Gabriella sitting at Astrid’s normal spot. This was good, Gabriella had been the one to give her the mission to kill Maro. Kyssandra was rather pleased with herself that she had carried it out, and was looking forward to a commendation.

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    “Maro is dead,” Kyssandra said, smiling.
    “Yes, I know” Gabriella nodded. She seemed distracted. "I heard as such, but…"
    Uh-oh.
    “What’s wrong?”
    “You’d better just head on down the steps, there’s been an…incident. Here is your compensation for the kill. Oh, and as a bonus, you can have this, a token for a woman in Whiterun that reportedly can tell your future.”

    As Kyssandra reached the foot of the steps, and stepped into the main area of the sanctuary, she saw all the brothers and sisters gathered around…was that Veezara there on the ground?

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    Astrid noticed her Kyssandra’s questioning look as she entered, and spoke up. “It was that vile little imp, Cicero. We are not sure what set him off, but he went crazy. Just started attacking everyone! even me!! He almost killed Veezara here. I knew he couldn’t be trusted!”
    “So, where is he now?” Kyssandra said, looking around.
    “No idea,” Astrid replied, “He ran out, and Arnbjorn went after him, but we’ve no idea which direction, or where they went. If you’re looking for something to do, go search his room, and see if you find any clues.”

    Kyssandra hmphhed, but went on Cicero’s room to have a look. She wasn’t real pleased with the way Astrid treated her sometimes. Astrid had a high horse and she rode it well.

    Poking about in Cicero’s room, Kyssandra ran across his journals. There were five of them, total. She settled on the edge of the bed, and read through them. They were actually quite interesting. They started about 20 years ago, and detailed Cicero’s entire journey, from the time he first pledged himself to the brotherhood as a mere assassin, to the point that he met Astrid. Kyssandra gleaned a couple of things from the journals.

    • Cicero had been through at least three falls of various sanctuaries. He was originally a very devoted and good assasin.

    • Cicero was very devoted to the night mother and the brotherhood. He seemed to put the brotherhood above himself.

    • Cicero was alone with the night mother only for so long, no wonder he seemed overcome with madness. That would affect anyone.

    • Right before he came to Astrid, he had found the ruins of another sanctuary, in Dawnstar. The journal gave the location, and the passphrase to open the door. He claimed this one as his ‘home’.

    Kyssandra headed back out towards the main room. Astrid looked up at her expectantly.
    “I think I know where he might be,” Kyssandra stated flatly. “There is an old sanctuary up in Dawnstar. From what I read in his journals, I think he may have went there.”
    “Go check it out then,” Astrid said. "If you find him, kill him."
    Kyssandra nodded and headed out.

    “Oh, and take my horse!” Astrid called. “He’s-”
    “Your horse?” someone said, as Kyssandra turned. “He’s as much a member of the brotherhood as you are, Astrid”
    “OH, phfffft, whatever.” Astrid looked back at Kyssandra, "Stand at the pond for a moment, and a black horse will appear. His name is Shadowmere. Take him to Dawnstar, he will get you there quicker."
    Kyssandra shrugged, and said ok. Astrid didn’t know she could teleport.

    Outside the sanctuary, Kyssandra approached the pond, and stood there for a minute. Sure enough, a black horse appeared from the black bubbling pond. Not just any horse. A large, black, warhorse with glowing red eyes. He was the most magnificent creature Kyssandra had laid her eyes upon.

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    “Well, hello there, Shadowmere, is it?” Kyssandra walked up and petted him. She loved all animals, especially horses, and was an accomplished rider. Growing up on a rural farm did have its advantages. “I don’t have any apples. But they said I could ride you, would that be ok? Wanna take a gallop to Dawnstar?”

    Shadowmere nuzzled Kyssandra and bent down a bit, an invitation for her to climb on. She did not have to do it, but she felt it important to gain this horse’s trust and respect, before riding him. The horse seemed to understand and appreciate that. As she climbed into the saddle, thunder cracked. As they headed up to the path, a light drizzle started. In a few moments, it became a full fledged storm, and was pouring the rain.

    About a third of the way to Whiterun, Kyssandra could stand it no longer. She was drenched. She suddenly remembered the rare books she had been collecting, for some couple that lived near here. She veered towards there house. She had picked up the latest book in Shor’s Stone, had it in her pack, and their house would be dry inside. When she reached the house, and went inside, no one was at home. She found a note on the table. It was addressed to the ‘girl that had been getting the books’. It stated that the man and woman had found a copy of the last book, and decided on a whim to move to High Rock. Since she had been so nice to gather the rare books for them, from all over Skyrim (This was the seventh one), they had decided to just leave the house to her, in payment. It was just a small shack, and the books were worth a fortune. There was a deed, signed by the man, with a place for Kyssandra to put her name, and the key. Well, this was a happy little unexpected surprise!

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    Kyssandra tried to wait out the rain, but she, as usual, got bored. Perhaps, she could make it to Whiterun, then stop again and dry off.

    Luckily, the rain stopped, and the skies cleared shortly, before she even got to the city. Kyssandra let Shadowmere run as fast as he wanted, over the plains. It seemed they both were enjoying this.

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    At Whiterun, Kyssandra decided to make a quick stop anyway, even though the rain had stopped. Since she was this close, she may as well check on her contract, Anarioth, or whatever that meat merchant’s name was. Nope, he was still there, still at his stall, still diligently selling his meat.

    While walking back to the gate, she remembered the token, for the fortune telling woman. Kyssandra really didn’t think this was worth a lot, she would have rather had more gold, but, whatever, she may as well see what the woman had to say.

    Olava was the woman’s name, and she was reluctant to talk to Kyssandra, until Kyssandra presented the token. “Oh!” she exclaimed, and then she was a veritable font of information. She told Kyssandra that she would eventually have a home with a family, that would be in a cave, but there would be a lot of blood involved first. She then said that there was an assassin of old, somewhere in a place called Hag’s End, which could be reached through Deepwood Redoubt. She said Kyssandra could find treasure there, including the assassin’s ancient magical armor.

    “Oh, but you do not need armor, do you child…” the old woman spoke cryptically.
    “huh?” Kyssandra was perplexed.
    Olava waved her hands over Kyssandra, as she spoke.
    “I give you this gift. Your beauty will disarm men. Wear only clothes, and at least one piece of expensive jewelry. Men will be captivated, and will find it harder to hit you with their swords.”

    Kyssandra sorta thought this may be just something that would happen anyway, given that scenario, but she accepted, and thanked the woman. On a whim, she asked the woman if she had any kind of tracking spell, something to track a human. cough or animal. She was getting tired of constantly checking on Anoriath. The old woman looked at her almost knowingly and replied. “I do not have anything that will track a person, per say, but consider this. This spell is sometimes used by mages to prevent burglars from entering unexpectedly. Cast the spell on a person you wish to track. Cast an alert spell on an area. When the person crosses the area, such as such as the threshold of your house, or…the city gates…you will know it.”

    Kyssandra took the spell, and silently cast it upon Anoraith as she browsed his wares. She cast the alert spell on the city gates. Now she would know, in her mind, when he left the city. Genius. She found Shadowmere and headed on up to Dawnstar.

    The sanctuary at Dawnstar was not hard to find. It the location was in Cicero’s journals. Kyssandra rode up to it, dismounted, and there lay Arnbjorn covered in blood. Well, that answers that, she was in the right place at least.

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    “So my wife sent you, huh?” Arnbjorn managed. “Glad you found me.”
    “What happened? Whats the status?” Kyssandra asked.
    “He got me good, but I got him better,” Arnbjorn said, then nodded to the nearby door. “But right before I could kill the bastard, he ran inside. It apparently is an old sanctuary. I don’t know the pass phrase, so I’m stuck out here.”
    “I know the phrase.” Arnbjorn looked visibly surprised, as Kyssandra spoke. "I’ll go in after him, you head home."
    And with that, she went up to the door, whispered the phrase, and walked in.

    Inside, it was pretty much what Kyssandra had expected. A dark brotherhood sanctuary, but tattered and lay in ruin. Windows were shattered, everything was in disarray. There were also ghosts, of members past, guarding the place, she assumed. Perhaps they were just spectral images that Cicero had conjured. He knew that she was there, the minute she entered the door. He spoke to her through the walls, sometimes taunting her, sometimes complimenting her. Kyssandra just summoned her atronarchs, and made her way slowly through the ruins.

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    Cicero kept talking. He called Astrid the pretender, and said that she had sent her best assassin after him. Kyssandra was flattered. He did not shy away from saying that he did in fact attack the harlot Astrid, but it was because she did not respect the night mother, she only slandered and made mockery of her. Kyssandra actually could see his point here. He also admitted to attacking Veezara and Arnbjorn. He didn’t mean to hurt Veezara, Veezara just got in his way as he was trying to leave. But Arnbjorn could bleed to death for all he cared. He hated Arnbjorn. Kyssandra chucked, she knew that already. He said that the night mother would not be happy if the either the listener or the keeper killed the other one. Kyssandra did not doubt this for one minute. The more he talked, the less she wanted to kill him. No, it wasn’t that she didn’t want to, it was more that she had a nagging sensation that she shouldn’t do it. Was it possible that this was something from the night mother herself?

    Finally, Kyssandra reached the room where Cicero was hiding. He was curled up in a fetal position on the steps, holding his wounds. As Kyssandra approached, he begged for her to spare his life. He asked her to simply go back and tell Astrid he was dead, but to leave him here.

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    As she stood there looking down at him, Kyssandra made her decision.

    “There is but one cure for your madness, Cicero. Me.”

    Cicero looked up at Kyssandra questioningly.

    “Stay here. I will tell Astrid you are dead. When the time comes, you will follow me.”



  • Chapter 33

    “Confidence”

    After dealing with Cicero, Kyssandra decided to just stay the night in Dawnstar. It was already twilight, so there wasn’t enough time to ride back to Falkreath. She could have ported home, and ported to Falkreath the next morning, but that would have meant leaving Shadowmere here. She had no doubt he could find his way home, but it just seemed wrong to make him do that. So she just passed the time by browsing some museum in Dawnstar, something to do with a cult called the Mythic Dawn. The proprietor had been trying to get customers every time she had passed the place, so having a few hours to kill, no pun intended, she took him up on it and browsed the place. Before she left, she found herself agreeing to go get some artifact for him, if she had the chance. He gave her a list of three pieces of it, and the three people that would have them. She knew she would need the money to finish college, so she accepted, then stayed the night in the inn.

    Early the next morning, Kyssandra got up, and rode Shadowmere back to the Falkreath Sanctuary. Everyone there seemed a bit more settled down, and moreso when she told them Cicero had been taken care of. Thankfully, they did not ask her to elaborate.

    It was now back to business, time to get on with the next part of the grand scheme. Festus Krex, the elder wizard of the group, was her contact for this phase.

    “Have you ever heard of The Gourmet?” Festus asked as Kyssandra leaned on the credenza beside him.
    “The cook? The one that writes the recipe books?” Kyssandra cocked her head.
    “Well, that answers my question. yes, thats the one.”
    “Yeah, I’ve seen his books in several kitchens of inns I’ve been in,” Kyssandra nodded.
    “He is probably the most famous chef in Skyrim,” Festus said. “He is your next target.”
    “Okay…so where, when, and how? …and why?.” Kyssandra wondered.
    “When the Emperor comes to visit, they have contracted The Gourmet to cook a meal for him. The identity of this person, he or she, is a very closely guarded secret. No one seems to know who it actually is. So, you are going to find this person, kill them, assume the identity of The Gourmet, and thats how you will get close to the Emperor!”
    “So if no one knows who it is, how do I-”
    “This!” Festus held up a book. “I was able to procure this book, at a cottage sale. It is a signed copy of The Gourmet’s cookbook, ‘Uncommon Tastes’. What is interesting is that the note is made out personally to someone named Anton Virane. So, this Anton Virane must have been there when the Gourmet signed it, so he would know who he is! I tracked down Anton, and he is the head chef for Understone Keep, in Markarth. Go there, find out from Anton who the Gourmet is, then go kill him. Since you are going to take his identity, take anything that could identify him that you can find, then make sure you hide the body well. Oh, and probably best to kill Anton also, on the off chance he runs his mouth to someone, or accidentally shows up at the dinner you’ll be at.”

    So, Kyssandra headed off to Markarth. It was still very early, before lunch, so she could make it easily. Astrid had told her to ride Shadowmere as much as she wanted, so she decided to take her up on that. She liked the horse, he was fast, plus he needed the exercise. Also, with all the porting she had been doing, using a soul gem every time, even though she had the circlet that filled them daily, she was sure that at some point she would run out.

    Kyssandra’s plan was to ride straight to Markarth. She went through several wolf packs, and bandit ambush points, but Shadowmere was fast and tough, so she didn’t stop for any of them. She just kept riding and easily outdistanced whatever danger she came across.

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    As she crossed a long bridge though, she suddenly remembered something. When she had been in the temple of Dibella, she had told mother Hamal that she would go see if she could find the young girl that was supposed to be the next Sybil of Dibella. They had sent sisters out to find the girl already, but none had returned. According to mother Hamal, the next Sybil was a young girl from the village of Karthwasten. Kyssandra realized, from plotting the route on her map, that she was going to ride right by this village, in a couple of minutes. May as well stop and get the girl, since she was heading on to Markarth anyway.

    As she arrived in the village, she saw a commotion going on. There was always a commotion. All she could tell was that it was two groups of people, upset with one another. As she rode up, they dispersed. Kyssandra rode over to the first house in the line, and hailed the man that had gone up to his porch. After some initial pleasantries, she asked if there were any families with daughters in town. The man told her that Enmon and Mena were probably who she was looking for, but he doubted they would talk at the moment, what with all the trouble they were having with the mercenaries. When asked about that, he told her that a bunch of mercenaries had come to Karthwasten a while back, and basically taken over. They had shone up just after a forsworn raid, and had protected the town thereafter, from other raids. Now, they wanted the town leader, this man apparently, to sell the mine to Silver-blood family, in repayment for their services.
    “huh.” Kyssandra thought. “Hang on a moment, I’ll go talk to them,” she said.
    The Silver-bloods were those jokers that were running that whole prison scam thing, that she had been caught up in a couple weeks ago.

    So up to the mines she went, wandering around through them, asking around, until she at last found their leader, a big nord who called himself Atar.
    Atar looked Kyssandra up and down, appreciatively.
    “And what would a pretty young lass like you be looking for me for?” he asked, “You are obviously no miner looking for work. Are you my evening’s entertainment?” He looked at his second in command with a loud laugh.
    Kyssandra cocked her head. “That could be arranged I suppose,” she said, getting his attention, then continued, "if you take your men and leave these people be, afterwords."
    Atar laughed even louder at that. “You hear that?” he called to the men around him, “this little girl thinks she can sleep with me, and it will pay the town’s debt to us! Har har! She thinks she is worth a mine!” He looked back at Kyssandra and sneered. “I think I will just have you for nothing, and I might even keep you.”
    “Hold up a minute,” Kyssandra held up her hand. “If the town gives this mine to you, is it yours then? Do you keep it?”
    “No,” he said, “we work for the Silver-bloods. They hired us. We get the deed to the mine, we give it to them, they pay us, and THEN we leave.”
    “So its not that I would be worth a mine,” Kyssandra said, "its more like I’d be worth whatever the Silver-bloods pay you."
    Atar stared at her dumbly.
    “Who hired you,” Kyssandra continued, "Thonar?"
    Atar remained silent, wondering what she was driving at, but nodded.
    “Well, Thonar is dead. So is Nepos the Nose. And all the other people in Markarth that could pay you.”
    “Hmmmphh.” Atar scoffed. “How would you know that, so easily?”
    “Because I killed them.” Kyssandra looked him in the eye. “I suggest you take plan A.”

    Later in the day, Kyssandra headed back down the path, to the town leader’s house. He was still out on his porch.
    "The mercenaries won’t be a problem anymore. Can you direct me to this Enmon and Mena’s house now?"
    Ainethach, the leader, stared in awe, as Atar and his mercenaries came down the path behind Kyssandra, and left on the road. He pointed to a man walking a little ways away, and said that was Enmon.

    When Kyssandra introduced herself to Enmon, he seemed nice enough. But when she asked about his little girl, he became quite flustered. Apparently when the forsworn had invaded the village, they had taken his daughter, and the sister of dibella that had come to talk with them. He did not know what the sister was there for, he assumed though, that she was just going to try to recruit his daughter to the sisterhood. Kyssandra told him that she had found, that his daughter was supposed to be the next Sybil of Dibella. Enmon brightened, and actually saw that as an honor. He knew where the forsworn had taken his daughter, Fjotra, it was the broken tower just across the long bridge. He was no warrior, but if Kyssandra was going there to try to rescue her, he would be glad to accompany and do what he could. Kyssandra told him to stay put. She would go to the tower and get the little girl.

    At the tower, Kyssandra summoned both atronarchs, and mechanically fought her way through it. It was just filled with forsworn bandits, and all she really had to do was stay back, and resummon an atronarch as they were dispatched.

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    Eventually, she reached the top of the tower, and found the girl locked in a cell. Outside the cell, in the room, was a statue of Dibella, covered in blood, and a dead sister of Dibella.

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    Kyssandra found the key to the cell on one of the guards’ bodies, that the atronarchs had killed. She opened the door, and let the girl out. It was then that Kyssandra got her first look at this girl. Kyssandra had been expected a small child, for some reason, and had been apprehensive about taking her to the temple of Dibella. This was no small child. This girl was entirely of age, and looked to be only slightly younger than Kyssandra herself.

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    The girl introduced herself as Fjorta, and thanked Kyssandra profusely for rescuing her.
    “The sister told me of my fate,” she said, “then they went and got that statue, and tortured and killed her in front of it, all the while making fun of it. I don’t know what they would have done to me…”
    “We best get you to the temple fast,” Kyssandra said. “They can protect you.”

    So the two girls headed out, straightway. They were attacked a couple times, but it was nothing Kyssandra could not handle, with her summoned creatures. They made it to Markarth, just as the sun started setting.

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    Kyssandra took the girl straight up to the temple, to Mother Hamal. Hamal breathed a visible sigh of relief, and took Fjorta in, telling her that she could start her training and initiation process immediately. She told one of the sisters to head out to Karthwastern, first thing in the morning, and inform Fjorta’s parents that she was safely at the temple. To Kyssandra, Mother Hamal offered her thanks. She bestowed upon Kyssandra the title of agent of Dibella, and said that with this blessing, Kyssandra would receive a permanent boon from Dibella, if she would kneel at the alter and receive it.

    On her way out, Kyssandra did stop and kneel. She felt something. She wasn’t entirely sure what she got, but it was a blessing of Dibella, one that would not wear off over time, so she would take it.

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    After this, Kyssandra headed up to the palace. She still had to do what she had come here for in the first place, find the identity of the Gourmet. It was now after supper, so she found the chef, Anton Virane, in the kitchen with the rest of his staff. He was relaxing at a table, having just partaken in the evening meal, himself. Kyssandra slid onto the seat next to him.

    “Who are you?” Anton asked. “Are you here to interview for a job in my kitchen?”
    “Nah, I’m a horrible cook,” Kyssndra said lightly, “but I heard on good faith that you know who the Gourmet is. I was wondering if you’d let me in on the secret.”
    “The Gourmet! No! Never! I don’t know who sent you here, but nothing will betray my trust. I’ll take the secret of the Gourmet’s identity to the grave!”
    “Well, that can be arranged…” Anton balked, as Kyssandra continued, in a whispered tone, “I AM with the dark brotherhood you know…”
    “Wh-whh- what? The dark brotherhood you say?” Anton paled. "Now hold up just a minute…lets not be hasty. I’m sure my good friend would not want me to endanger my own well being over this! Um…yes! I’ll tell you! The Gourmet is an orc named Balagog gro-Nolob. He resided up at an inn called the Nightengale, up abov-"
    It was Kyssandra’s turn to balk. “above Whiterun.” she finished. "The orc up in the basement of the Nightengale?"
    Anton nodded.
    "I know who that orc is! I’ve been to that inn several times! Who would’ve- You sure that’s the Gourmet?"
    Anton nodded again.
    “wow.” Kyssandra said. “never would’ve guessed that one.”
    “So…we good?..you’re not gonna kill me?” Anton looked at her earnestly.
    “Oh no, I’m still gonna kill you.” Kyssandra said, matter of factly.
    “Ack.” Anton gulped.
    "You know, loose ends and all…"
    Kyssandra sighed as Anton jumped up and took off running. Did he just wet his pants?

    Kyssandra chased Anton all through the palace, if you could call it that. She was in the palace of Markarth, which was filled with people, so she couldn’t summon any atronarchs, or appear to be chasing him. If the little wimp had any sense at all, he would just go stay beside the guards, or in one of the common rooms, and she wouldn’t be able to do a thing to him. But every time he saw her enter an area, and come towards him, he would scamper off. Finally, they made to an obscure area, a gigantic cavern in the mountain, it looked like some ruins, or something. There were a couple wizards, researching things, and a couple guards patrolling the area. No one was really paying attention to Kyssandra and Anton though. He tried to escape, running all the way up to the ramp to the top of some ruin gazebo tower thing. It was about 30 feet or so up. As Kyssandra followed him up there, he looked around frantically. There was no other way down, other than the narrow ramp he had come up on. He looked as if he were contemplating jumping. Kyssandra suddenly had an idea. “I’m tired of this. I can’t do anything with all these people in here.” she said, shrugging, and turned to head back down. But as she walked, she spread her hands, and softly cast a powerful rune of fire on the ramp behind her.

    As she got down the ramp, and was heading out the door, back towards the main palace, she heard the rune explode. Then she heard the unmistakable sound of a body hitting the ground. Then guards and wizards shouting at each other,
    “What was he doing up there?!”
    “Wasn’t there someone else with him?”
    "Not sure, but it killed the poor chap."
    Kyssandra smiled, ducked into a dark corner, and teleported back to the college.

    Kyssandra stayed the night in her own bed, but in the morning, she freshened up and teleported back to Markarth, to get Shadowmere. She did not tarry, she went straight from the portal to the stable, and took off towards Whiterun. Along the way, she was attacked, and this particular attack was not one she could avoid. These men would not let up. So she got a little distance, hopped off the horse, summoned two atronarchs, and fought it out. These men were relentless, but she finally won the fight. After it was done, in searching the bodies for any gold, or anything she could sell, she found a telling note.

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    Well that was interesting.

    By now, a heavy fog had settled. Kyssandra got back on Shadowmere, and rode on north, on up to the Nightengale Inn. No need to wait on this.

    She came in from the back side, down near the lake. Was that…? By the nine, this was her lucky day. The orc she was looking for, Balag gro-bar-whatsisname, was actually standing down there, on the pier, gazing out over the lake. Not another soul was anywhere to be seen. Why couldn’t that meat merchant from Whiterun do something like this?

    Kyssandra dismounted Shadowmere, summoned her atronarchs, and approached the orc silently. If he knew she was there, he gave no indication of it.

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    Turns out, she did not even need the atronarchs. One hit with a lightening bolt, and the orc went down in a crumpled heap. Kyssandra searched him, and found a writ of passage, his identification papers. She quickly took it, and anything else that looked like it would be something personal, something that would identify him as the true Gourmet. Then, looking around, still seeing no one, she finished the job by hiding the body. This was just too perfect. She simply pushed the body off the edge of the pier, and watched as it splashed and sank to the bottom of the lake.

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  • Chapter 34

    “Wonderland”

    After killing the Gourmet, Kyssandra knew she should head back to the Sanctuary, but there was one thing that she needed to do first. Ever since the whole tentacle parasite incident, she still had not forgotten the family in the lighthouse, that had posthumously provided her with the purple mountain flowers to get rid of that thing. In the father’s diary, that she had found, his only dying request was that his ashes be sprinkled in the fire of the lighthouse, the home of his dreams. Kyssandra figured it was the least she could do for this family. Here at the Nightingale Inn, she was very near the lighthouse, so she decided to go ahead and take care of that.

    She rode north a bit, and found the lighthouse exactly as she had left it. First thing, to sprinkle ashes, she assumed she had to find the father’s body. She still had not done that yet, she had found the basement full of chaurus, and left because of the parasite attached to her back. So this time, as she went back down to the basement, it was a different sort of fight. She was full strength, accompanied by her pets, so she made her way through a good bit easier.

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    After a while, after what seemed like a million chaurus bugs, she finally found the queen, and there in its lair, the remains of the man that had been the father of this family. Kyssandra did her best to drag what was left of the man back out of the cave, up to the lighthouse, and then all the way up to the top, to where the fire burned. Knowing nothing better to do, she hoisted the remains of the body up the ladder, and plopped it into the fire. The whole ordeal was rather nasty, and it stank to the heavens above. But, it was all she could think of to do, to honor this man’s request. It was probably nowhere near the burial he had hoped for, but it would have to do.

    After this, Kyssandra headed back to the Sanctuary. Riding due south, checking her map every once in a while, she suddenly thought of another matter she could check into. Back in Whiterun, she had run into a woman named Carlotta, and her kid, while casing out the meat merchant she had a contract on. The daddy had run out of them, or disappeared or something, and she had asked Kyssandra to just check the last place she knew of that he had headed to, a place called Shearpoint, if she was ever in the area. Well, as luck would have it, according to her map, she would be going right across a dot that was marked Shearpoint.

    When she got there, she looked around, and Shearpoint appeared to be nothing more than some type of old ruin with words on it, on top of a mountain. There did appear to be a treasure chest, so Kyssandra could not leave that unrifled through! As she got closer, a wraith, or undead wizard, or something loomed up out of the ground. Uh oh, this was one of those ruins that was protected. And Kyssandra had just disturbed something’s slumber. Time to fight!

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    This thing, whatever it was, was quite powerful. Kyssandra called forth both atronarchs, and had to keep cycling them, over and over. The undead wizard thing was calling forth atronarchs and golems of its own. She was glad that she had Shadowmere there with her. The horse was actually quite good in a fight, and not afraid to jump in the fray and help.

    Finally, after circling around and around, the thing was dead. It probably had a name, but Kyssandra didn’t pay that much attention to it to figure it out. As she looked around, mainly looking for any gold or treasure to be had, she spotted a book, laying in the snow. It appeared to be a diary. She stooped to pick it up.

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    Luckily, everyone in Skyrim seemed to keep a diary. This one was from the man, Carlotta’s husband. In reading it, Kyssandra realized that he had never run out on them, he was trying to find treasure, to make a better life for his family. Or maybe he had run off, and was searching for treasure in hopes of buying back their love. She couldn’t really tell, but it did say that he was going to check out this ruin, as he saw it from a distance, then go to another ruin called Forelhost, to meet his friend and check that one for treasure. Kyssandra made a note on her map, to check Forelhost, if she was over that way. It appeared to be near Riften. She’d wait to say anything to Carlotta until she had done that.

    Southward she rode, after that, and reached the Sanctuary with no more incident.

    Kyssandra reported in to Festus Krex, and let him know that the Gourmet was dead. She showed him that she had the writ of passage, which she could use to identify herself as the Gourmet now, and that she had properly disposed of the body.

    Now, all the pieces were in place. Astrid told Kyssandra to go to Solitude, to Castle Dour, where the Emperor himself would be dining tomorrow night. She was to use the writ, gain access as the Gourmet, and prepare the Emperor’s evening meal. Astrid gave Kyssandra some jarrin root, which was a deadly poison. All she had to do was add the root to the meal, and after ingesting it, the Emperor would be dead in seconds.

    Kyssandra phase shifted back to the archemage quarters at the college. She could sleep in her own bed, drop off some of the heavy gold she was carrying, and then port to Solitude in the morning. This particular job, she decided to leave Shadowmere at the Sanctuary. It was all inside the city, so no reason for him to be there.

    The next day, after a good nights sleep, Kyssandra ported to Solitude. It was still fairly early in the day, and she didn’t have to be at the Castle to start the meal until after the lunch meal, so she just wandered around the city. As she was walking, she suddenly put two and two together. Some crazy beggar had wanted her to go find his master last time she was hear, in the Pelagis wing of the Blue Palace. The crazy old jarl woman from Morthal asked her to go find something called a wabbajack, if she wanted her to release her daughter from her evil machinations, and had mentioned that it might be in the Pelagis wing of the Blue Palace. Walking along, in front of the Blue Palace, it suddenly hit Kyssandra, the connection between these two separate events. Since she had time to kill, may as well see what was in the Pelagis wing of the Blue Palace.

    0_1488667541032_20170226151200_1.jpg

    The palace seemed to be full of people today. Asking around, Kyssandra discovered that the Pelagis wing was closed, and off limits. Shrugging, Kyssandra found a maid, and told her that Falk Firebeard, the court wizard, had told her to retrieve something from the wing in question, and could the maid unlock it for her. Easy.

    Once inside, Kyssandra started poking around, looking for something that could somehow be called a wabbajack. She had no idea what this thing was, or what she should even be looking for, with a name like that. As she meandered around, Kyssandra realized there really was nothing of interest in here. It was just cobwebs, and stored up furniture.

    0_1488668128328_20170226151746_1.jpg

    As she wandered down one hall, the air suddenly blurred. Kyssandra was confused. She had not activated her phase shift home ability, but that is exactly what it felt like was happening.

    The air cleared.

    She looked around. She was not home.

    This was some weird place, a rocky meadow of some sorts. And her clothes had changed, she was now dressed in a fine yellow formal dress, with black stiletto heels and a hat. There was a table off in the distance, so she moved towards it slowly. As she approached, she got the impression it was some type of dinner party, or tea party. There were three men there talking, but as she drew near the the table, two disappeared, leaving only the one that was dressed in odd colors.

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    Kyssandra approached and the man introduced himself as none other than Sheogorath himself, the daedric prince of madness. ‘Well, of course,’ Kysssandra thought, expecting no less by now. It seemed that they were inside the mind of Pelagis III, former emperor of Skyirm, eons ago. ‘Could it get any weirder’, Kyssandra thought to herself. When she asked how to get back home, Sheogorath shrugged, saying he had them all trapped here, and unless someone could help Pelagis with his old fears, he would not allow anyone to leave. But he was growing bored, so Kyssandra was welcome to try.

    0_1488669369597_20170226152614_1.jpg

    He gave her an odd looking staff, with a weird head carved onto it.
    “Here take this,” he exclaimed in his sing song riddle like voice, “Its called the wabbajack! It may help!”

    Kyssandra stared at the stick. She could not believe this was happening.

    Nevertheless, what could she do? She didn’t have anything in her backpack, and her magic simply would not work here. It was play Sheogorth’s game, or nothing. So she took this wabbajack thing, and headed into each of the three areas.

    In each area of Pelagis’s mind, there was a problem. It took Kyssandra a bit to realize, but she could actually cast with the wabbajack, using it as she would a normal staff. The trick was just to figure out what to cast at, to overcome each problem. There was a confidence issue, a bout with paranoia, and then night terrors. This Pelagis must have been one messed up individual. But she finally fixed them all, and returned to Sheogorath and his little tea party.

    As promised, he honored his end of the bargain, and after a lot of useless banter, he told Kyssandra she could go back to her dimension.

    “Can I keep this?” she asked, indicating the wabbajack.
    “That? oh, yes, you can have it. I don’t need it.”

    And with that, the air shimmered, and she found herself back in the Pelagis wing of the Blue Palace, although still in a yellow dress and holding a wabbajack. She looked at the time. It was late afternoon. ‘Oh no,’ she thought, ‘I’ve got to get over to the emperor’s dining hall before it is too late!’ She took off running down the hall.

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    Along the way, Kyssandra stopped by the kitchen of the Blue Palace, and ‘borrowed’ a chef’s outfit. She figured a chef would not show up in a formal ball dress. She could not find any shoes to fit though, so she had to make do with what Sheogorath had put her in. Minutes later, she stood at the back entrance of Castle Dour, before Commander Mayo.

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    “I am zee Gourmet!” she announced, trying to act like a famous chef.

    Commander Mayo looked at her like she was stupid.
    She remembered the writ, which she had brought with her, and produced it.
    The commander’s attitude changed, and he promptly welcomed the Gourmet, and let her in.

    Once inside, Kyssandra was promptly ushered to the kitchen area, where the head chef, Gianna, had already started the meal. The meal was to be something, whatever the Gourmet was famous for cooking. Kyssandra didn’t’ even know what it was called. But Gianna had already started the broth, and was asking for advice on the ingredients. Kyssandra just made up stuff as they went along, but produced the Jarrin root, and told Gianna it was the secret ingredient. Apparently if you are the most famous chef in the land, people just accept anything you say, in a recipe. Kyssandra highly doubted if what they had concocted was even edible. But soon it was done, and she was following chef Gianna, who proudly marched it up to the dining room, and set it in front of the Emperor, giving him the first bowl.

    At this point, Kyssandra thought about a taster, someone that would taste people in power’s food first, in case of incidents just like this. Apparently they did not do that here. The Emperor already had a mouthful of the stuff. He puckered his lips, obviously wondering what in the nine he had just ate, but then tried to smile and say how good it was.

    Just as Astrid had said, within moments, the Emperor started frothing at the mouth, and fell face first into his porridge, deader than the bowl he landed in. The guards started shouting, wondering what had just happened, some of them already starting to blame the cooks. Kyssandra had been instructed when this happened, to go out the door to the bridge across the city, and escaped that way. She backed away, slipped through the door while no one was watching, and took off running across the bridge.

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    Just before she got to the other side of the bridge, Kyssandra stopped short, as Commander Maro himself, and three guards emerged from the tower entrance. Maro took great delight in revealing to Kyssandra that he knew she was from the Dark Brotherhood, and the man she killed was just a decoy. ‘ah, so that explains the no taster part’, she thought. Maro went on to say that he knew the Brotherhood had killed his son, and in the original deal, he got Kyssandra. But he had reconsidered, and he had just decided to take down the whole organization. Even as they spoke, his guards would take out this puny girl, and he had other guards attacking the Sanctuary near Falkreath, and was going to kill everyone there and burn the place down. With that, his guards attacked.

    Kyssandra instinctively called forth her atronarchs, and the fight was on. It really wasn’t that much of a fight, she overwhelmed the guards rather easily. Frantically, she tried to think, what could she do, to warn her friends at the Sanctuary? The only thing she could do, she decided, was she phase shifted back to the college, then ran to the portal room and ported to Falkreath. Maro had no idea that she had these abilities and spells, and could be at the Sanctuary in literally ten minutes.

    As she came to the Sanctuary, she saw that it was already under attack. She called her pets, and started fighting the guards outside. She thought during the fights, that Shadowmere appeared and joined her, but she wasn’t sure. Once she got the guards dispatched outside, she ran into the cave.

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    The air was smoky, and as she went further in, the cause was obvious. The men had already been in here. Everything was destroyed and burning. She saw Astrid’s husband, the werewolf guy, that she had saved when he had chased Cicero to Dawnstar, laying dead. Kyssandra moved through the sanctuary, trying to locate anyone that was still alive. She also found the corpses of Gabriella, and others. They were all dead…no wait! she heard something. She continued to make her way through the burning cave, until she found Nazier, and Babette, huddled in a corner, fighting some guards, but alive. Kyssandra joined the fight, and soon the three were together, looking for a way out. There appeared to be none, the entire place was about to come crashing down upon them.

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    Now in a panic, all three started to run blindly, searching for anything, any way out of the burning cave. In her head, Kyssandra heard the voice of the night mother, very distinctly, calling to her. Out of sheer instinct, Kyssandra ran to the room where the night mother’s coffin was. The coffin stood open.

    “Embrace me, child” the voice said, “it is the only way you will survive”

    She did not know where Nazir and Babette had gotten to. They were not in this room with her. Kyssandra shrugged, and did what she knew the voice was asking. She walked up to the corpse, and stepped into the giant coffin, and hugged it. Immediately the door slammed shut behind her.

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    Inside the coffin, with the corpse, it was like an oven. Kyssandra could hear the crackling of the flames around her, and the crashes and timbers fell. She stood there, for what seemed an eternity, listening as the cave burned around her.

    “Sleep…” the voice said.

    Then-

    Kyssandra awoke. She could hear something. voices. sounded like someone talking about the night mother’s coffin. then the sound of things being lifted off of it.

    “Astrid is still here. Find her.” the voice spoke again.

    With that, one of the doors sprung open. It was Nazir and Babette, they had survived! They had been trying to get to the night mother’s coffin, to salvage it, and were surprised, even though this was not the first time Kyssandra had fell out of it unexpectedly when someone opened it.

    “What in the nine?” Babette said, stepping back
    "Ingenious!" Nazir exclaimed, as he realized how Kyssandra had survived.
    “We’ve no time” Kyssandra stood up, brushing herself off. “Where’s Astrid?”
    “Astrid?” Nazir looked around. “I have no idea… I’m not sure she…surviv-”
    “She’s here somewhere,” Kyssandra cut him off. “We need to find her. now”

    After searching everywhere, they finally did find Astrid, behind what had been a secret wall, in her room, now destroyed by the fire. She was burned almost beyond recognition, laying in the middle of an arrangement of candles, the ritual of the Black Sacrament itself.

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    Astrid could barely speak, but she told the group that she in fact betrayed Kyssandra, handing her over to Maro, in exchange that everyone else would be spared. When it was apparent that Maro would go back on the bargain, she had performed the Black Sacrament on herself, hoping to die for what she did.

    “Do it.” she whispered to Kyssandra, “take my blade, the Blade of Woe, and kill me with it. You are the most skilled assassin to come through here in ages. Rebuild the Brotherhood. Rebuild, and lead us back into glory. Do it Do it for us all!!”

    With that, Kyssandra took the blade, knelt, and plunged it into Astrid’s heart.

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  • Chapter 35

    “Death’s Kyss”

    Kyssandra stood, and moved out of the secret room. Nazir and Babette were waiting for her in the outer chamber, having decided to give her a moment. They looked up as she approached.

    “Well” Nazir sighed, “It was a good run for us, I suppose.”
    “What do you mean,” Kyssandra asked.
    Nazir spread his hands in defeat. “The place is burned down. Nothing is left. Just us three. What do we do now?”
    “We finish the job. We have an emperor to kill.” Kyssandra stated flatly.
    “Wha- what?” Babette said, her eyes widening.
    “By the nine, you still want to go through with this?” Nazir asked, “You think we could pull it off?”
    “I’ll take care of it. I’ve a score to settle with someone.” Kyssandra said. “You two gather anything useful, and see if you can get the night mother up to Dawnstar, to the sanctuary there. It’s still intact, and livable. And…”
    “Yes?” Nazir looked at her questioningly.
    “Cicero. He is- still alive,” she added, “I left him up there. Tell him what happened, and that I am leading now, and he will help you.”

    ‘By the nine, did I just take leadership of the dark brotherhood?’, Kyceria thought, as she stood in the arch mage chamber’s washing her face. She had taken leave of Nazir and Babette, phase shifted back to the college, and immediately ran to the garderobe and threw up. Now she stared at the girl in the small mirror. A penniless girl from High Rock stared back at her, a girl who who suddenly found herself on the verge of being leader of both the College of Winterhold, and the Dark Brotherhood. As she stood there thinking about it, she shook her head. Time to get down to business.

    After inquiring around in different towns, she finally found Amaund Motierre, the original contact, who had performed the black sacrament on the emperor. He was holed up in a back room at the Bannered Mare inn, in Whiterun. Kyssandra, dressed in her black outfit, walked confidently into the room, and stood before the man.

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    “What is it? I said that I did not wish to be distur-” As Armaund turned, and recognized Kyssandra, he balked. "You! You-re- alive! But- I heard… Your sanctuary…“
    He was stammering around like a child. Kyssandra just leaned against the bookcase, and said nothing, regarding him silently.
    “Please!!! I had nothing to do with it!!” he continued, “It- It was Maro! It was him! I- I wanted the emperor dead, all along! the real one!”
    “So where is he?” Kyssandra finally spoke.
    “Wher- what?” He said, " where is-?”

    “Where.
    is.
    the.
    emperor.
    …the real one.”

    “Oh!” Armand looked hopeful, but still terrified. "He’s- He’s in Solitude! Aboard his ship, The Katariah. But not for long! They are getting ready to head out, I hear. You’d…still honor the contract? Tell you what, if you uphold your end of the deal, and kill the true emperor, I will reveal to you, the location of your payment."
    He held out his hand, as if expecting a handshake.
    Kyceria turned and walked out.

    Out on the porch of the Bannered Mare Inn, Kyssandra noticed the meat market man, across the way, still harking his goods. This was the last of her contracts, the one other person she had not been able to kill yet. This fool was never going to leave the city. She suddenly had a thought. It was worth a try. At the college, she had learned a new spell, one that you could cast upon a person, and it would put them in a state of frenzy, attacking anything and everything around them. She nonchalantly moved over behind the man’s stall, where she had a clear shot of him. While no one was looking, she cast the spell upon the man. Sure enough, he flew into a rage, and started attacking people around him with his cleaver. The guards converged, and made short work of him. Huh. Well there was more than one way to complete a contract.

    After this she did not port to Solitude. On a whim, Kyssandra ported instead to Morthal. Her plan was to go across the land, and use her waterwalk spell to cross the lake from the Morthal side, instead of entering Solitude and going that way. After recent events, her face was already too well known in Solitude. She didn’t need for it to be seen again, should the emperor die. again.

    In Morthal, she stopped by Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone’s hall. She wasn’t in the mood for banter and talk. She strode in, and tossed the weird looking staff on the woman’s lap.

    “Here’s your stupid wabbajack. Now, free your daughter.” Kyssandra said.

    Idgrod the older made a bunch of stupid remarks, and basically tried to brush Kyssandra off, but she did free the daughter from the curse. Kyssandra went upstairs, informed the girl, and made sure she was alright. However, she did not stay long. There was another matter on her mind. After she was satisfied the girl was ok, she headed north.

    In due time, she hit the shore of the bay. On the other side, she could see the walls of Solitude. In the middle of the bay, sure enough, there sat the Katariah, the large magnificent wooden ship that belonged to the Emperor.

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    Kyssandra cast water walk upon herself, and stepped out onto the calm waters. Before she got halfway across the bay though, something else caught her eye. Over on the dock, she spied a very familiar figure. The emperor could wait just a moment. She could not pass this up.

    A few moments later, Kyssandra stepped of the water, and climbed the steps up to the dock. At the end of the dock, the figured turned and looked to see whose heels were clicking on the wooden planks behind him. Commander Maro’s eyes widened in surprise. His mouth hung agape, trying to say something to the effect of ‘you are supposed to be dead’, as Kyssandra strode purposefully towards him. One hand, palm open, she summoned an atronarch. The other had followed suit, as she walked, she summoned the other atronarch. Commander Maro never even had a chance to call for help, as the first lightening bolt hit him square in the chest, and the atronarchs joined in. By the time she reached him, he was nothing but a singed and charred corpse.

    Looking back, towards the shore, Kyssandra could see people gathering, gasping, looking in horror. Some were calling for guards, some ran away, while others drew swords, and tried to block the exit of the pier itself. Kyssandra openly laughed at them. She mentally made sure the water walk spell was still active, and then just back off the pier, onto the water, and calmly headed back out into the bay.

    Now, with her vengeance towards Maro taken care of, Kyssandra made her way out to the ship. She took a bit of a detour, just enough to get out of sight of those that had been watching from the docks. On the back side of the ship, she found a large hole, where the anchor chains went through. She climbed into the hole, and soon found herself in the cargo hold of the ship. Every once in a while, she would run into a random sailor, or guard, but none of them were any match for her. It was not long before she found herself in the quarters of the emperor himself.

    Kyssandra opened the door and walked in. There, at his desk, sat the one Emperor Titus Mede II. He looked up, and motioned her forward.

    “Come in, child” He said, "Come in."
    Kyssandra looked around warily. “Do you know who I am? or why I am here?”
    “Of course I do.” He smiled, “you are from the Dark Brotherhood, and are here to kill me. Kyssandra, I believe you are called?” He continued on, as Kyssandra waited for hidden ninjas or something to pop out. “Do not worry, dear, I’m not going to fight you. This is my destiny, and yours. I only ask one favor.”
    “And that would be?” Kyssandra’s eyes darted nervously around.
    “The one that plotted this assassination. I feel that he is not all as he seems. I do not know the specifics, but I ask, as a last request, that you take him out of the picture also.”
    “Oh, I was considering that already, emperor.” Kyssandra smiled a weak smile.
    “Then do what you came here to do.”

    With that, the emperor simply turned and faced the window, his back towards her. Kyssandra looked around the room. Still, no one leapt out and attacked her. The atronarchs seemed a bit too much, if this was for real. She drew out the dagger, the Blade of Woe, that she had taken from Astrid, instead. As she walked up behind the Emperor, she took one last look around the room. There was no movement. Shrugging, she placed the point of the dagger on the small of his back, and leaning forward, she pushed on the hilt. And simple as that, she had killed the Emperor of Skyrim.

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    A couple souvenirs, a phase shift and a teleport later, Kyssandra was back in Whiterun. She didn’t even risk being seen getting off the boat, or even going up on the docks. She just ported back to the college, then to Whiterun, and made her way to the Bannered Mare. She made her way back to the back room, where she knew Amaund Motierre would be.

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    “Its done.” Kyssandra stated.
    Amaund looked up and smiled. “Then you shall have your payment. Remember where we first met? In Volonruud? There is a chest in that chamber. Your payment awaits you there. We should never meet again.”
    “Thank you Armaund. Goodbye.” Kyssandra opened her palm and the green light appeared, and she cast it upon the man.
    Surprised, he looked at her. “But… but- we had a deal…” he said, and he got up and stumbled out of the room, trying to run.

    Kyssandra watched calmly, as the man ran out into the main room of the inn, just as the frenzy spell took hold. He began to attack the patrons. The guards and burly men jumped up, and defended, and poor Amaund was no match for all of them.

    Kyssandra walked out of the room, and stepped over the body. She went to the innkeeper, and ordered some strong drink.

    “What was that all about?” the innkeeper asked her.
    “I have no idea,” Kyssandra responded, shrugging. “He just suddenly jumped up and went crazy, it seemed. I cowered, in fear of my life. I’m so glad all these able bodied men were in here!”

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    Later on, Kyssandra made her way to Volonruud. She did not expect to find anything, but went anyway, out of sheer curiosity. Much to her surprise, the chest contained approximately 20,000 gold pieces.

    Back in Dawnstar, Nazir and Babette had succeeded in transporting the Night Mother to their new home. Cicero had helped, and the three seemed to be getting along nicely.

    “What are you going to do with all that gold?” Nazir had asked.
    Kyssandra smiled.
    “Tuition.”


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