Skyrim Story - After Her Legend: Part 2: Uprooted
With the mysterious elf gone, the townspeople dispersed and went back to their business. Derbana helped her husband get back inside their house. Helping him to the nearest chair, he took a breath of relief as his ribs hurt less.
“Here, Love, let me treat that.” Derbana focused on healing and let the white energy flow into her hand. Her Novice Restoration spell was complete and she touched his ribs.
Immediately, he felt better as he cooed with a smile.
“Yes, Dear. You do possess a certain magic touch.”
“Thank you. Why don't we start the evening all over again? You work on dinner and I'll take care of putting everything away.”
“All right, dear.”
Derbana and Sondas went about taking care of the tasks they set for themselves before being so rudely interrupted. He had to start over as the meat was burnt, still cooking while they were dealing with the stranger. Derbana managed to hide her dagger from his sight and now it was once again safely stored inside her chest.
Shortly after, they enjoyed their dinner and had very little to say, the encounter with the unknown elf shook them up quite a bit. Putting aside their newlywed impulses, they simply went under the sheets and snuggled up next to each other.
“Good night, Derbana.”
“Good night, Sondas.”
She closed her eyes.
“Is there something on your mind? You seem distracted.”
“No, no, there's nothing wrong. I just found it strange that High Elf having Dark Elf eyes, is all. I've seen my fair share of weird creatures in my travels, but nothing quite like that.”
“I think it's fair to say that everyone who was there found it disturbing. I guess you were right. It can be hard to be the husband of the Dragonborn.”
“But when I said that...” Her defensive tone was quieted with a kiss on her lips.
“I know, but I wouldn't have married you if I wasn't ready for it.”
“Not that I mind, but why? Most men would have run screaming after being part of that.”
His reply was started with another kiss, “Because I love you.”
She kissed him back, “I love you, too.”
He held her even closer and being lulled by the sound of his heartbeat, she closed her eyes.
“We have something in common. We have something in common. We have something in common.”
Her dream that night took her back one year. Back when she was helping Delphine figure out the mystery behind the Dragons' Resurrection. In order to get more clues, Derbana became a guest at the very exclusive party that was being held at the Thalmor Embassy. It was hard enough standing there face-to-face with the woman that became her reason to go to Skyrim, the woman who killed her mother.
Elenwen smiled and greeted her by the door. Derbana's fists shook as her anger threatened to overwhelm her.
“Are you all right? You look a little...tired. Perhaps I should leave you alone for the time being, take a seat and eat something, I'm sure you'll feel better, then come and talk to me again.”
After she left, Derbana caused a distraction that allowed her to slip away from the party and went about her mission to gather the intelligence needed. She managed to kill the guards without raising the alarm and she went further into the embassy.
“I expected you to perform better than this.”
She could hear the argument from down the hall.
“Don't talk down to me, Mer. The Dragonborn has yet to appear in my neck of the woods. You can't blame me for that.”
“You filthy Nord! How dare you speak to me as if I was a commoner! Remember your place or you'll be joining the other prisoner in the dungeon!”
He grunted before speaking, “Still, we don't know who the Dragonborn is for sure.”
“We have an idea, but it's not like she's going to appear here anytime...” His sentence was cut off as Gissur received an arrow in his neck, “What was that?”
Rulindil arose from his desk and looked down at the dead body of his Nord spy.
“Who's there? Show yourse...” An arrow drove deep into his shoulder, sending him to the floor.
The next moment, he saw Derbana landing on him, pinning him to the ground. Despite the throbbing pain from his shoulder, he looked at the face of his attacker. Knowing he was moments from death, he laughed.
“What...What's so funny?”
“Because...” He widened his smile, “we have something in common.”
His laughter grew as Derbana looked down on him with hate. She brought Mehrunes' Razor overhead and stabbed deep into his chest, ending his annoying laughter forever. Finding what she needed to, she was able to escape after freeing Etienne from the dungeon below and managed to rescue Malborn as well. Her mission was a complete success.
That evening, Elenwen walked into Rulindil's office after the party was over. No one informed her of their deaths for the alarm was not sounded. She looked at the two corpses with disgust: The Nord dead on the floor, and Rulindil who was sitting in a chair in the far corner.
“Great. With Rulindil dead, another emissary for Skyrim has to be chosen. All of the dossier files have been stolen and I suspect that the Dragonborn has been to the party.”
“Are you sure, my Lady? It may have been the prisoner's friends?”
“No, the Dragonborn is the only one who could have killed so many of our number and Rulindil as well. Only she'd be interested in the dossier files. Take a look at the guest list, I want...”
A glass pane of the window shattered, a daedric arrow pierced into Elenwen's chest. Instantly in a state of shock, she looked down to see a letter attached to the arrow. It was written in Altmeri and it said, “For my mother”. Then she heard a second arrow being released, this time landing right between her eyes.
A short distance away, Derbana was hidden. She had positioned Rulindil's body in front of the window with the clear view, knowing Elenwen would want to get close to inspect the body, luring her into the perfect spot to take her out. At last, more than three decades and finally, Derbana had accomplished her life's goal of avenging her mother. It was the happiest day of her life.
She awoke with a start, though it was a dream not a nightmare. However in this case, it was horrifying as the words both Rulindil and that strange elf said.
“We have something in common.” Both of them said at the same time.
She wasn't sure what to do or what that truly meant. All the answers to these questions are so close and yet still so far.
“The Dragonborn will pay my bail.”
She grimaced, he was leading her on. What does he know that she didn't? What was so important that he was willing to go to jail? Why was he so assured that she would pay his bail? Why? Why? Why?
“Whenever you're ready to talk, Dragonborn. You can find me in my cell.”
Derbana cursed him. She was happy with her life here and now he comes along, destroying the peace and stability that came with it. She had made peace not knowing the answers to the questions that had plagued her since she had lost her mother, now he was dangling them in front of her like a carrot on a stick.
She turned to her husband, still asleep. A thought came about waking him up to get his opinion, but she knew what he'd say. Laying back down on her pillow, she threw the blanket over her.
“But I have an inside source that it was you.”
Again, another attempt to bait her. His confidence in this matter was obnoxious. She had only two choices: Ignore him and live this simple life with her husband, or talk to him and possibly get tricked into doing something she'd regret. The former should be the easier, but the latter had the answers. Tensing her brow in frustration, the only true choice she was faced with right now was to go to sleep and decide in the morning.
The Elf waited in his jail cell. It would be nothing more than simple to escape from this place, but he was waiting for someone to arrive. It had been almost a day since he was arrested and placed in Dragonsreach Dungeon. He just stayed where he was, enjoying the change in scenery. Then he heard the door to the Dungeon open and the guard's footsteps echoed down the stairs, perhaps they finally had lunch in order. But he noticed there was a second pair of footsteps now echoing and it wasn't yet time to change the guard.
He smiled, “I had a feeling you'd come...” He turned to face her, “Dragonborn.”
She held back her anger at his pompous manner, but she was no fool. Neither would she fall into his trap nor did she come unprepared this time. Derbana stood there with all her weapons and armor equipped as well as all the other items she'd need.
“Leave us.” She waved to the guard.
“Yes, Thane.” He replied before doing so, leaving the two of them alone.
“Good to see you fully dressed. I wanted to see you at your best.”
“Why are you here? What do you know about me?”
He laughed as he paced around his cell, “It hasn't been a day yet and you've come to me asking questions. Is your willpower really that weak or do you have a lack of social partners?”
“Fine, we're done here.” She started to walk away.
“Wait!” He reached toward her, “Just wait! Sorry for that, I just wanted to test your resolve, it is not my nature to insult people, though doing so on these simple-minded Nords hasn't even been a challenge.”
“If you have something to say, say it and don't waste my time.”
“You might have been wondering why we share the same eyes.”
“It should be impossible on an Altmer.”
“Regarding that matter, you are only half right. I'm actually a Half-Altmer, the other half you can guess.”
“I've seen your magic, you could have easily given yourself the appearance of those eyes.”
“What's so funny?”
“I know I'm a powerful mage, but do you really think I'm on the same level as Azura herself? The same level as a Daedric Prince? I couldn't have changed my eyes if I wanted.”
“Okay then. Why aren't your Thalmor buddies with you? You people always travel in squads of three.”
“These are the only robes I could find in the Thalmor Embassy. Besides, I'm not truly with the Thalmor anyway...not anymore. Though wearing this robe had opened a door or two in Markarth.”
“You were there, too?”
“I witnessed your stealing of that flawless diamond in Solitude and that flawless emerald in Markarth. I followed you from there onward until we reached that unpleasantness yesterday.”
“Yes, you wanted to talk, so talk. What do you know about me?”
He wigged his finger, “Ah, ah, ah. Why would I simply tell you the answers you seek and leave me to rot in jail? No, no, I want some conditions first.”
She sighed, “Okay, what are they?”
“First, I want you to pay my bail. Second, I want you to buy me a house here in Whiterun. Third, I want to study any and all daedric artifacts you possess. And lastly, I want you to go with me to a ruins I need access to.”
“No, I won't agree to that.” She walked away, “I've already made peace with the questions I've wanted to know. I've got a husband and a safe home now, I'm not going to give it up for one such as you.”
“Even if I can tell you what happened to your mother?”
She froze in her tracks.
“Don't you want to know how she died? What happened to her after she was captured? How many Thalmor exactly had their way with her? I know all the answers you seek, Derbana the Third.”
She turned to glare at him.
“I know, because she was my mother, too.”
She saw red and rushed at his cell. Reaching a hand through the bars at him.
“You lie! You can't be! She was my only family!”
“Perhaps I went too far with that one.” He stayed toward the back of his cell.
“Come here and tell me it's a lie!”
“Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. You'll never know for sure unless I show you.”
“Show me? What do you mean show me?”
“I have my father's journal and in it has all the details.”
She looked at the chest with the prisoners' belongings in it.
“No, I don't have it on me. After all, I'd be a fool to bring it. My conditions remain the same, agree to it if you want my help.”
“I don't need it! Not anymore! Stay in this cell and rot!”
Derbana pulled away, but he grabbed her hand.
“It would seem I have to force your hand.” He yelled in full voice, “Guard! Guard! She's trying to silence me!”
“What?” She asked as the clamor of footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs, “What did you do?”
“You're making this too easy.” With a push of his hand, Derbana was sent flying backwards to the other side of the room. Past the next set of bars was not a jail cell, but a door to the outside, which splintered when her body made contact. He blinked forward into that part of the room and with a simple spell, unlocked the chest with his belongings and hastily gathered his things.
Derbana couldn't move as the wind was knocked out of her and she had landed against the stone wall outside, making her back ache. He walked forward and with another spell, pulled her out of the wall before levitating atop of it. Seeing his destination, he smiled. One second, they were there and the next, they were gone.
Derbana felt herself being pulled apart as they traveled in all directions through this mystic tunnel. But when the nightmare ended, she fell hard on the ground. It was snow-covered dirt and she coughed as she had breathed some of the loose snow in.
“Yeah, the first time is an ordeal.”
“You! What did you do?” She cast a Novice Restoration spell to ease her back pain.
“I framed you in trying to kill a prisoner and judging by the fires they lit, I'd say our performance was very convincing.”
With a quick glance, she could see Whiterun in the distance below. With her spell ended, she got to her feet and held him off the ground by his collar.
“You snake! Is this what you wanted?”
“Not really, you probably have a couple thousand gold bounty on your head.”
“That's easy to pay with...”
“This?” He held her gold pouch in his hand and in an instant, it was gone, “Telekinesis is such a useful spell and this one I made is also useful. Your gold pouch is now staying in a pocket dimension unless I cast the return spell.”
“You have five seconds to bring it back or I'll...”
“Do what? Kill me? Then, your gold will stay in limbo and you'd have to spend weeks coming up with enough to return to Whiterun and to your husband or you can take three days out of your life and help me out. Once I've gotten what I desire, you can have your gold back and you can return to your normal ordinary life.”
She looked at Whiterun and thought of Sondas, “Do you promise?”
“I swear on the soul of our mother, I will keep my end of the bargain when yours is fulfilled.”
She gave him a death glare that lasted a moment before letting him go, “Fine, but should you go back on this promise, there's a tower in Oblivion with your name on it.”
“I accept that. Now then, shall we get going? It's a day's journey from here.”
“Where is here precisely?”
“The only faraway place in Whiterun I could see that was close to my goal. We should be somewhere near Shearpoint. We need to hurry if we want to get to the Nightgate Inn before nightfall.”
As he walked ahead, she glared at him more intensely.
“Can't you just teleport us to the base as you did in Whiterun?”
“No, I can't. I can only do a teleport that powerful once a day if that and I never attempted it with another person before. I'm lucky if I can cast Adept Level spells for the moment.”
“Really...” Derbana instinctively reached for an arrow.
“I can hear the gears in your head turning. Remember that if I die, your pouch will be forever lost and will still have to spend weeks working to pay off your bounty. So put that assassin mind of yours to good use and keep a lookout. As you can see, I'm not at full strength right now.”
She put the arrow away, but she still wasn't done with him.
Hearing no reply, he said, “Derbana?” He looked around, “Derbana?”
She was nowhere to be seen and he couldn't even hear her footsteps.
“What do you think you're doing?”
“Giving you a hard time just as you're doing right now.” Her voice echoed off the mountain, making it hard to pinpoint her exact location.
“I did give you two chances to do this peacefully, you're the one who made things difficult.” He kept looking around, but she's seemingly vanished into thin air, “Derbana! Are you going to do this all day?”
“I'll stop if you answer a few of my questions.”
He chuckled, “Good luck, I've been trained to withstand torture.”
“No, this isn't torture. This is just a friendly conversation...actually, an unfriendly one.”
“Well, I did want to just talk, after all. Though I did little to warrant such hatred.”
“You took me from my home! You took me from my husband! Made me a criminal and you enjoyed it, couldn't even hide that Thalmor smile of yours! You're lucky you're still alive right now! But all I want from you is to have a few questions answered.”
Tired of her disappearing act, he raised his hand to cast Detect Life, but it fizzled instantly.
“You know you can't keep this up forever!”
“True, but it seems your magic isn't working right now.”
He shrugged, “Fine! If it means you helping me, then ask away.”
“First off, what do I call you?”
“My name is Jerthar, the name my father gave me.”
“That's a start. Why were you following me?”
“As I said, I was tracking you down.”
“For the Thalmor?”
“Please, those people couldn't find hay in a barn. I was one of them up until several days ago when I spotted you in Solitude. That Argonian you were dealing with in the Winking Skeever mentioned your name while in conversation. You didn't see me because of the spells I created.”
“Back in Whiterun, you said you were at the Thalmor Embassy, why?”
“I had some personal business to take care of before I deserted including stealing this robe.”
“Why? You should have had a robe already if you were a Thalmor Wizard.”
“When I arrived at the docks in Solitude, I was practically dragged out of my bunk by Imperial Inspectors. During my conversation with them, some thief stole all my belongings except for the gold on me, which is why I needed a drink.”
“And found me at that time.”
“You were spending a few days in Solitude, so going to the Embassy and not losing track of you was an easy matter. Once there, I was given my father's journal.”
“This personal business you spoke of, it was your father's funeral, wasn't it?”
Jerthar flinched and grimaced.
“Hit the nail on the head, didn't I?”
“How did you know?”
“You were given your father's journal that means he must have died otherwise he'd still be using it. Another thing I can guess is your father...” She took a short breath, “he was Rulindil, wasn't he?”
“What deduction led you to that?”
“Though I killed many soldiers at the Embassy, Rulindil is the only clear choice. They took the time to arrange and pay for your voyage to Skyrim, even holding off his funeral until you arrived. If it had been some nameless soldier, they would have just sent you a condolence letter and that's all.”
“So, the rumors are true. You must have gained that sharp sense from your time with the Thieves' Guild.”
“No, I had that sharp sense from my mother.”
“Our mother and yes, Rulindil was my father, though he wasn't much of that.”
“What was he...ah oh.”
“What? What is it?” He asked before being violently pushed on his side, his body greeting the cold snow.
A bestial roar like nothing he heard before shook the skies, he got on his bottom and now saw the Frost Troll a few feet away fighting it out with Derbana. Jerthar quickly noticed the Troll had already received several wounds during those few seconds.
The Troll swung his arm across, she quickly ducked underneath, slicing a quick blow across his ribs. He roared again, trying to rake Derbana and again she was too swift for him. With a spin, the Troll received another cut, this time through his shoulder. With that, the Troll just stood there lethargically on the brink of death to which Derbana was happy to oblige. Jumping up into the air, she drove Mehrunes' Razor into one of his black eyes, killing him.
With the danger over, she sheathed her blade and turned to her half-brother, offering him a hand.
“I think that wraps up the question session for now.”
He didn't know what to feel as she offered him her hand, he hated having to be saved if he wasn't so drained at the moment and yet he felt grateful for her saving his life.
“Promise me that next time, warn me when trolls are near...please.”
“If you can promise me to act less like a Thalmor, then agreed.”
He smiled, “That will probably take a lifetime to fix.”
She smiled in return and before they knew it, they were sharing a small laugh together. In fact, this was the first time they both actually enjoyed this situation. However as the rush from the battle faded, they remained silent and did not look upon each other as they made their way down the mountain.
Just as Jerthar said, it was nightfall by the time they reached the Nightgate Inn. The two entered and the innkeeper Hadring looked up from behind his bar.
“Greetings, Travelers. Ah, Dragonborn, it is nice to see you again.”
“Hello, Hadring. It is good to see you also.”
Jerthar turned to her and whispered, “You know this man?”
“I've been adventuring throughout all of Skyrim for the past two years, I'm pretty well-known by the proprietors of shops and inns all over the province. Plus people do make quite a fuss when they see the Dragonborn heading their way.” She whispered in response.
“Is something the matter?” Hadring asked.
“Nothing, Hadring. Could we have a room and some Nord Mead please?”
“You got it.” He grabbed two steel steins from under the counter and went under to get a fresh bottle of Nord Mead, “Ah, 4E 160, a good year.”
Derbana smiled, “Yes, it was.”
“So, tell me, Dragonborn. What are you doing with a Thalmor, thought you hated those people.”
“It's...complicated and let's leave it at that.”
“Fair enough.” He passed her a solid iron key, “The first room right there.” He pointed to the door.
“Thank you so much. Jerthar, could you?”
He grimaced, he did take her gold, after all. He dropped fifteen gold onto the counter.
“And the tip?” She smiled, being very insistent.
He tried his best to make a fake smile and dropped another five gold. They took the steins in hand, Derbana raised it to Hadring while dipping her head in thanks and took a drink. Jerthar merely just sipped his to test it, however he did drink it regularly after doing so. After their thirsts were quenched, they entered their room together.
“You can have the bed, I'm just fine on the floor.” Jerthar said before lining a blanket next to the bed.
As they situated themselves for bed, Derbana looked over at him.
“It seems you want to ask me a few more questions, don't you?”
“I was wondering if that would be fine.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Have you...I mean, did you know my mother?”
“No, our mother died shortly after I was born. Though it would be more appropriate to say she was murdered. But you already knew that.”
“How would you?”
“I had my suspicions since Elenwen was killed hours after my father instead of right away, this was confirmed by Elenwen's Aide who witnessed her death. I don't know how you knew she was our mother's murderer without reading my father's journal. It must mean the Thalmor have Imperial spies lurking about.”
“You better not...”
“I don't care about the Thalmor. Personally, I want to know the reasons why you favor the Empire so much?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“If you think about it logically, it would serve you better to work for the Thalmor. If they succeed, your position in life would better as you are a Mer. Why do you work for an Empire where Men are the ruling races, do they truly appreciate the work you do?”
“Of course, they do. I was the one who tipped the balance of the Civil War in the Empire's favor. I was there retaking the various regions of Skyrim and fighting the Stormcloaks wherever they hid. They promoted me to Legate and here I am today, an Imperial Agent just like my mother and grandmother before me.”
“So, the only reasons you serve the Empire are the heroic lineage and the fact the Thalmor were the ones responsible for our mother's death.”
“Though I guess I can't say I was any better, I only served the Thalmor because I had to. The instant I was away from the Summerset Isles, I deserted as soon as I could. What does that tell you about me?”
“That you were never truly loved by anyone or anything.”
“What?” He grimaced deeply.
“You grew up without our mother, your father wasn't much of one.”
“Shut up.” He continued to stare ahead.
“What? Not true? I was in the same position as you were. I never knew my father and my mother was away most of the time. Despite this, I did have someone in my life, Antala took care of me and loved me when I needed it the most.”
“Shut up.” He said a little louder.
“Our backgrounds are similar, the only real difference between us is no one was there to love you.”
He threw a quick spell and Derbana felt as if invisible chains were wrapped around and squeezing her.
“Though most of what you said was true, there was one fact that spewed out of your mouth was a complete lie. I did have someone who loved me growing up, he is Professor Melaven. He was the only one who didn't treat me any differently despite my 'condition'.” He pointed to his eyes with his free hand.
He took a deep breath and eased the slack on his chains, but not releasing her, not just yet.
“The aides to my father took care of me when I was a babe. Most days, my father acted as if I didn't exist and when I was about five, he shipped me off to the Alinor Magic Academy where all Thalmor Wizards are sent to train. Most of my classmates picked on me, the boys did and the girls just laughed or ignored what was happening to me. The teachers were no better. I cried and cried and cried. It seemed the whole world was against this small child for the simple act of being born.”
He took another breath and a small smile appeared, “Then, he appeared. My Alteration Teacher, Professor Theios Melaven. He saw me not for what I was, but who I was. He saw a small crying child with a vast ocean of potential and he knew how I was being treated was unfair. Taking me under his wing, we did marvelous things together. All the happiest memories of my life were with him in it.”
He removed the chains entirely and Derbana could sit back down on the bed.
“As I grew older, I'd accompany him on trips to ruins and digsites. That's where we started our research projects and cataloged Daedric artifacts. He helped me develop the dimensional spells I use. Though I'm a master of the many schools of magic, I always had a knack for Alteration more so than the others.”
“What about Rulindil? What of him at this time?”
“I stayed at the school mostly even when everyone went home for the summer season. Professor Melaven was staying there, too and so, our research was unimpeded by my class schedule. My father was involved in my life only when he wanted something from me and even then, I was ignored mostly. My professor was like a true father to me.”
Derbana sighed and nodded her head slightly, “Antala has been more of a mother than you.”
“Thanks to Professor Melaven, I was able to graduate and continued on as his assistant. That was my life until the courier came and told me my father was murdered at the Thalmor Embassy right here in Skyrim. This was the opportunity I've been waiting for and so I took it.”
“What of your Professor? Don't you regret leaving him behind?”
“It was his idea. He told me that if I was ever to be free of the burdens of my past and free of my father's ghost, I was to leave the Summerset Isles behind and find who I truly was meant to be.”
“It seems like you haven't been freed yet.”
“What do you mean? I'm here, aren't I?”
“You are, but so far your actions are still of a Thalmor Wizard escorting a prisoner to the fate they've given him...or her in this case.”
“What do you want me to do, then? If I don't keep you like I've been doing, you'll just sneak off and leave me here. What do you expect me to do?”
“If you want to take the first steps to being truly free, then trust me and give me my gold back.”
“But, you will just leave...you've been wanting to do that since Shearpoint. I just can't...”
“If you want to start a new life and leave behind all that the Thalmor have taught you, give me back my gold pouch and see what happens.” She extended her hand.
He stared at her as every instinct he had told him not to do what she asked. But he extended out his hand over her's and stroked the air, each part of it he touched wavered and from this fluctuation dropped her pouch right into the palm of her hand. She tied it to her belt and rolled the blanket over her bed.
“What? You're...staying? You're not going to sneak off?”
“I already agreed to help and I do not back away from my promises.”
Jerthar did not know what to do. This was the second person in all of Tamriel who treated him this way. He tried to wrap his genius mind around why and was trying to figure out the logic behind it. Even if he didn't know why, something happened inside Jerthar bringing a smile to his face and he was glad that it happened.
He struggled to speak, he never said this phrase before and this new feeling swelling inside him was alien and unfamiliar. Then, the words slowly came out.
Derbana couldn't help but to smile, the same emotions she was feeling as well. Even though he was responsible for all the horrible things that befell her this day, she knew he was changing and struggled to get those words as well.
The two shared another smile, this time it was a large smile. They rested their heads on their pillows and fell asleep, awaiting the new day.