“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.