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Roleplay: The Crypt of Hearts

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Bibliophael's picture
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The nightmares eventually shook Therence awake, as they did every morning. There had been a time when his instincts would have sent him reaching for a weapon, but by now his dreams were so commonplace that he merely flinched, then sighed, as he opened his eyes.

His business had kept him occupied until a couple hours past midnight, by which time the rain had begun to lessen. He had judged a dry patch of nearby alley to be marginally more hygienic than a mattress at the local dung heap they called a tavern, and so it was the former he had chosen as his bed. He looked up through the dozen trickles of rainwater still dripping through the rotting wood of his crude shelter and wondered again how it had come to this.

The sun was bright this morning, and he had to squint as he climbed out into the street. Deep brown puddles littered the town's winding dirt tracks, and a faint miasma of dingy fog could be seen rising from the water front.

Therence spat.

After checking that all his potions, poisons, reagents and tools were accounted for, he slung his pack over one shoulder and made his way to the tavern's entrance. There, he paused. He glanced in the direction of the main road out of town. It would be easier just to wait there for his companions, and perhaps to catch a bit more rest, but right now he needed to keep an eye on the boy.

He scowled and pressed his shoulder into the door.

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Ervesa's question did his pride no favors.

"Well, I uh--"

"Managed to get himself into a scrap with three Nord idiots. Lucky he didn't break anything. Of mine, anyway." Sabine had been listening as she wiped off some flagons.

Omekh tilted his head in Sabine's direction, in a tacit admission.

"When I rose today, I'd become sore all over." Omekh massaged his side.

But then the witch hunter walked in. Omekh looked to him and smiled; he was sure the Breton would manage to take offense. He patted his hand on the stool next to his, inviting him over.

Omekh turned again to Ervesa.

"A friend of mine. Brace yourself."

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Ervesa's facial expression turned into one of mild amusement when Sabina had recited what Omekh had been up to the previous night, but  the Dunmeri healer tried to suppress any form of laughter as to not further damage the Redguard's pride.

Ervesa then glanced at the Breton momentarily, who looked wet and dirty, before turning back to Omekh and nodding at his statement, saying:

"Ah, you Redguards and Nords and your love for a brawl - I'll never understand you. Anyways, do you mind if I cast a healing spell on you? I have to ask for permission because some people fear that I'm some kind of evil witch that'll cast a curse on them." She said, shrugging.

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Omekh laughed, immediately regretting it with a grunt.

"You don't strike me as the type," he smiled.

"--and I didn't start that fight," he mumbled, preparing himself. He had never been healed by magic before and wasn't sure what to expect.

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"Alrighty then. Don't worry, this won't hurt."

Ervesa closed her eyes, and with some hand gestures and barely audible mumbling, she cast a healing spell on Omekh. The spell was cast with no problems, and the Dunmer healer asked:

"There you go. How do you feel?" She said, smiling.

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In his room, Yaalon was just finishing rubbing off the chalk circle he had drawn just a few minutes before. The room was dark again, the shutters closed, and permeated by a strong sulfurous smell that usually accompanied summoning spirits from the Deadlands. Throwing the rag and chalk into his bag, Yaalon threw open the shutters once more to let the room air out and dissipate the strong odor. He then yanked the top cover off the bed and, standing by the doorway, beat it up and down to facilitate air flow. After about a minute he laid it back over the bed, and retrieved his clothes that he'd hung over the low-hanging rafters.

It only took a few moments to don his socks, trousers, undershirt, overshirt, and shoes. These were mostly composed of lower class materials and well-worn, suggesting overuse or perhaps second-hand status. The undershirt noticeably had a Septim-sized hole surrounded by a ring of fabric that had been heavily charred, indicating something had burned through it at one point. On top of all of this he threw his heavy travelling cloak, which felt heavy and cool on his shoulders as it was still somewhat waterlogged from the previous day. Lastly, he donned a beautiful blue velvet hat which was his pride and joy. After adjusting it to his satisfaction, Yaalon lifted his satchel over his shoulder and headed downstairs without a second look back.

Yaalon spotted the Redguard at the bar talking to a Dunmer woman, who looked like she might have been a healer. The young Journeyman had been somewhat touched by the Redguard's offer of 50 coin to help pay for the Guide. It was because of this man that he wasn't entering the Crypt as a straight pauper. Clearly, there was more to this man than meets the eye. Still, Yaalon worried that Omekh Rezir's personal connection to the crypt could prove to be a problem. He would have to make it clear that the rest of the party wasn't going to take part in his revenge mission against whatever lich had done him wrong.

"Oi, Rezir!" Yaalon shouted jovially. "Time to go. The Crypt awaits us!"

 

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Cayliss took everything she has packed up the previous day and walked outside. She locked her hut's door, even though anyone could probably break a window or a rotting plank in the wall. The elf promised herself that if nothing would get stolen until she'd come back from the Crypt of Hearts, she will invest in repairing the house and making it safer.

Magnus blessed the day with bright sunlight, Kynareth accompanied him with a cold breeze. Birds chirped and sang their melodic songs about things big and small. Someone was walking with fish hooks to their boat, another person was yelling something at a stall full of fish. The Bosmer was at the center of Carrickdown, at a small plaza in front of the tavern, heading to the main road out of the town. It was high time to meet where the pack of adventurers agreed to meet.

Then, the peace was disturbed.

A woman dropped a basket with fruit and stood where she stopped, shocked. The man at the stall yelled "what the heck!". A hunter was dragging a dirty human body into the town.

Cayliss looked at the villagers who started gathering. Curious, she came closer to see what happened. It turned out that the shocked woman was the wife of Beleric, Cayliss' friend she thought to be dead. Now the poor woman was wailing. Indeed, Beleric has died a foul death.

His palms were scorched, like if he put them into magical or nonmagical fire and kept them in it. There were multiple, quite deep cuts in his body, the Imperial's clothes were torn, ragged and soaked in blood. Everyone just looked at the scene, not saying a word at first, but then they started whispering or talking in panicked voices. The elven guide did not know what to do, whether Beleric's wife needed a bit of comforting or not... Ah, she was not a good person to act in such situations.

People inside the tavern heard or saw what was going on outside, so now some were looking through the windows and many left the building to check the situation.

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"Wait!" was the word that Ervesa pronounced hurriedly, both directed at the Breton who had spoken to the Redguard and to the Redguard himself.

"The Crypt... of Hearts? Are you seriously going there?" The Dunmer then pondered the situation, unsure if she was willing to risk her life in such a foul place. In the end, she decided that this would probably be the only realistic way of earning gold in Carrickdown, so she said:

"Say, you wouldn't need a healer with you, would you? The Tribunal Temple was supposed to deliver me some gold so I could continue my work here in High Rock, but I heard that the courier was killed and so now I must turn to other ways of earning money. I'll come with you in your expedition... for the right price."

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Upon hearing her offer, Omekh glanced at Yaalon and then Therence. He turned again to Ervesa, genuinely appreciative but concerned for her safety. But her magics had thoroughly healed him; he felt five years younger; he felt good. The dark elf's skills would help keep them all safe and perhaps counter the curses of the undead.

Who knows what else she might be capable of?

He relaxed his eyebrows and opened his mouth to speak--

Outside, a sudden silence was broken by sounds of shock, outrage, and weeping.

 

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The sounds outside had ordered the conversation to continue at a later time. Knowing too well her help could be needed, for a crowd could have gathered around an injured person, Ervesa rushed outside, pushing through the many villagers that gathered around something of note, as she finally caught sight of what it was: a dead Cyrodiil, whose body was in such a state that Ervesa wondered if she was mentally able to witness such gore if she journeyed to the Crypt of Hearts.

She could not help the Cyrodiil now, so she muttered The Grace of Justice for the Cyrodiil, retreating behind curious townsfolk afterwards, all eager to gaze upon the dead man.

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Therence's bitter eyes had swept the tavern for any sign of Yaalon, but the only patrons at this hour were a couple of Orcs conversing in low voices at a private table, a Nord (already plastered against the bartop), and that insufferable Redguard flirting with some Tribunal wench. He ignored the oaf's insolent leer and took a seat in the corner, where he could watch the stairs and the door at the same time.

A serving girl approached him with a bright smile and an air of expectation. He waved her away with a dismal glare and took a pointed swig from his hip flask. As she backed off, surprised and hurt, Yaalon came bounding down the stairs. "Oi, Rezir! Time to go. The Crypt awaits us!"

Therence screwed the lid back on his flask and stood to greet the boy when a commotion drew his attention outside. His ears pricked, but he knew from experience that these screams were of grief, not danger or pain. The discovery of a death, probably. It was almost certainly none of his concern. But the others had already rushed outside, and it was time to be on the road again anyway.

As he caught up, Therence felt his muscles stiffen for the barest moment - a whiff Oblivion hung in the air, unmistakable to any seasoned witch hunter.

It was coming from Yaalon.

He forced himself to relax. This wasn't the time for that conversation. For now, he focused on the scene in the square.

A local had just dragged a dead man through the muddy streets, and already a crowd had begun to gather. Therence caught sight of the Bosmer, hovering fretfully on its fringe. Hadn't she said something about a missing friend? From the way she was wringing her hands it seemed reasonable to suppose that this corpse had been him. Perhaps he had an interest in this affair after all.

Therence pushed his way through the mob to get a closer look. The wailing was coming from a peasant woman, presumably wife to the dead man. The corpse was filthy and battered from being dragged Arkay knows how far through the muck, but beneath the grime Therence could make out several deep gashes all over the body. Something had scorched its palms.

He knelt down, ignoring the sobs of the nearby wife, and turned over the corpse. His nostrils flared as the scent of decay intensified, but more interesting was the accompanying puff of magic. Necromancy, without question. Therence frowned. The cuts seemed to serve no arcane purpose, but they had clearly been followed by some kind of ritual - judging by the hands, possibly an artifact attenuation.

He straightened up, caught Cayliss' eye, and jerked his head. Without sparing the poor widow a second glance, he returned to the tavern entrance and waited for the rest of the group.

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Last night, at the tavern-

"I told those c***s at the border I was takin' Arenthian vines into Skingrad for the wine-masters, but they didn't waste no time prisin' them barrels open after throwin' me off the wagon and into the mud. Weren't no gods-damned grapes in there!"

Short glass met thick, grey mustache, and flin flooded the Colovian's throat before a tanned, weathered hand slammed the glass to the bar. The foul-mouthed man began rolling tobacco  in a small piece of dried cornhusk while a still-lit cigarette dripped from his mouth. The big Nord slapped his back so hard the man's eyes nearly rolled out of his head and into the empty shot glass. 

"Another, Southerner?"

"No need for pleasantries, Hjerm. If my crystal stands dry, simply assume and pour,".

The Nord called for the bartender, and then again for the bottle of Cyrodiilic flin. When the bottle was produced, the Colovian smiled quietly at the love he held for his native whiskey, and a flame was produced from his fingertip to light the newly pressed tobacco. The other was extinguished and swallowed. Glass touched his grey mustache again, and he exhaled a plume of smoke as he set it to the table. He sat in his stool, surrounded by fishermen and sailors, quietly noticing the party that had assembled and departed on some soon-to-be ill-fated quest. He had even overheard the talk about an Imperial charter and the small voice's right to operate throughout the Empire. If the kid talking hadn't sounded like a small coyote barkin' big and tall, the Colovian might have turned to face him for a fight. He dragged a hand through his greyed hair, tied back loosely into a rough knot, then tucked the hanging strands behind his ears. He wasn't fat yet, but he definitely felt age beginning to creep in. A long time spent on the road.

"Must be in my fifties, now,", he said to his newest drink. He sat in his soft deerskin breeches, grey rough-wool shirt, and a woven grass poncho only beginning to dry from the squall outside. He was barefoot, and barehanded. 

"No weapons? Never? Me da always told me to 'walk or sail with axe or flail'. Whats abouts brigands and monsters?" 

A few grimy drakes on the counter and he had the rest of the bottle. As he reached for it, his sleeve rolled up his arm to reveal to Hjerm a line of faded tattoos that climbed up his forearm. 

"What're those then!?"

"'Viri. Where the f***s your da from?"

Hjerm trailed off in rambling,slurring stupor, while the Colovian eyed the rest of the patrons. That Imperial business talk returned to his darkening brain, and he surreptitiously scanned the room for interesting people. Even if they were Mages Guild, even if they'd already left, **** 'em. Imperial business meant bad luck for him. Should've sailed to the gods-damned Star-Wounded East awhile ago. Not much in the way of Legion out there. Amongst all the Nordic, Raga, and Breton sailors and fishers sat a grey She-Devil. Priest? Looked like one, probably came straight out of the Mourning-Hold. Why here? Hjerm didn't even notice when the Colovian slid the bottle of flin out from under him, off the bar, and across the tavern to the door. He swayed and stumbled, undetectably deliberately, and stepped into the slow rain. He was being paranoid, he knew that. His spine stiffened and he bowed his head, taking long and deliberate breaths. Life lacking attachment was his training, but he needed gold.

Smoke billowed out of his nostrils and up into the night sky as he stumbled, the cigarette was still clenched in his teeth and the flin in his hand when he started down the thoroughfare to the nearest barn or pig pen for sleep.

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In stepping out of the tavern, Omekh crossed paths with Therence, who was now returning to wait outside.

"You smell terrible," he said without a glance, not stopping on his way to the commotion: it could only have been death.

His stomach sunk further at the sight of their Bosmer guide who was no longer buoyant, then further at the sight of his new Dunmer friend, who was visibily shaken.

What in Oblivion has happened he--

An Imperial lie dead in the mud: flayed, bloody, burnt. Beside him wept a woman whose tears could only have been for a husband.

Omekh had seen this before. Before the assault on Sentinel, missing persons had sporadically begun to reappear, rendered just as this. It made his heart heavy.

But he was more disturbed by an apparent apathy on the part of the village towards Beleric's widow. His approach was slow, solemn. He crouched to meet her as she sobbed over her husband, and was quiet for a moment.

"...he...he was not the first to be taken like this. I, too, have lost loved ones to this evil. My friends and I...we're going to make sure he is the last."

Her eyes defied their tears and became steely. There was a terrible comradery now. Bound by hate. Bound by vengeance.

He rose. Still, Carrickdown was slack.

"WILL YOU DO NOTHING? HAVE YOU NO CORONER, LEAST EVEN AN OUNCE OF COMPASSION?"

Irreverence for the dead was beyond him. He was outraged.

 

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Before Therence entered the tavern again, he felt something odd. He, and other people who could use or studied magic for a long time, could sense a spell come into effect. Not casted, but placed on something earlier and now it was triggered. Not all dead walk only in the necromage's presence, it seems some could create a timed effect. For example, the draugr wake when it's time. So did Beleric. The previously faint, almost impossible to sense, necromantic magicka in his body was definitive and clear now.

The body suddenly rose to a sitting position and grabbed Omekh's cloak with one hand, trying to grab his leg with the other. It was not fast, but the element of surprise did its work. Beleric's wife fainted few seconds later, too much was happening on that terrible day. The villagers were surprised as well. Everything depended on how the team would react now.

This didn't look like an invasion. One vile thing was dragged to Carrickdown by accident, Cayliss thought and hoped. At the same time, she sobered, pushed the anxiety away and drew a bow. While everyone else were paralyzed by fear or defending themselves, she took an arrow from the quiver.

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The flare of energy sent Therences honed instincts snapping into action, and in an instant he had notched an arrow to his bow and sent the shaft flying true through the corpses' eye. As it reeled, he spat on the ground. Nothing burned his blood like a damn fool Redguard making a song and dance out of death. "Compassion? A bleeding coroner? Piss off, Redguard, and let the professionals do our work." He already had another arrow on his string, in case the first had failed its duty.

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"Nothin' else 'round here, fella,"

"Nothin' at all?".

"Not but them that's gonna go die at the Crypt,".

The elderly Breton that ran the village livery brought a kindling flame to his cob pipe and offered it to the Colovian's cornhusk cigarette. His hands looked like a dried out creek bed. The Colovian returned the hospitality by giving him a swig of flin, and then drained the rest of the bottle to get a good morning drunk on. The old horsemaster's eyes lit up, and he shivered when the whiskey hit his gut. The Colovian took his grass poncho by the fringes and shook off the early dew. From within he brought out a few drakes and spread them in his palm, his last. 

"Y'know I could hire ye on, so could some of the farmers or ranchers out thissa way?"

"Naw, ain't lookin' for steady work, or a new home west of the Velothis,".

"The old crypt could be gots some treasures, but folk say there be monsters livin' up in there,".

The Colovian drew out a long breath and filled the Breton sunlight with a plume of smoke. 

"Yup. That's about all life is, mister. One vile fucking task after another. Your Direnni blood in you might have whispered about it to you sometimes, small skinny minutes afore light breaks. Even now those Old Mary cunts tell you this world is a veil. Sometimes they might be right, too. The world all awakin' and dyin', and they wantin' to go back to before. Same time, lots of 'em turn to whatever's goin' on in that crypt. Mastery over death and enslaving souls. Never could take to me, how fuckin' small a person's gotta be to do that all the while knowin' it's a dream and believin' it's a bad one. Cunts,".

The Breton horsemaster slack-jaw gaze and furrowed brow was the only reply he needed.

"Thanks for the information, mister. Sun breakin' through these clouds from last night, and times a-wastin' to go drink a hearty breakfast. Take care, now,". 

The Colovian picked a bit of straw from his bristly grey mustache and headed towards the village tavern, leaving whisps of smoke as his barefeet plodded through the soft mud that seemed to stretch across the village. 

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Ervesa pondered on how to honour the villager one last time after the curious townsfolk, when she noticed the crowd flinching and backing away. Undead growling came afterwards, and the Dunmer rushed through the crowd, praying to the Three that what she was about to see was not what she thought it was.

It was.

Necromancy!

The filthy practice that dishonours the dead in the most vile way possible, the bane of a Dunmer's very lifestyle, necromancy was one of the worst things possible that one of her people could imagine. It didn't take long for the healer to put two and two together, realising that in her time in Carrickdown, she heard a lot about the Crypt of Hearts, and how it was rumoured to contain dead men walking.

She would ask Omekh about a possible necromancer in the Crypt of Hearts, but either way, her journey to the Crypt, should she actually do it, just got a lot more personal.

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An Ohmes-raht Khajiit, wearing black leather armor with a rather loose green cloak and hood over her golden, black spotted fur, stood silent as the night, and was standing far behind the crowd, observing. She watched everything unfold, the body being dragged, the woman screaming, the Dunmer, the Bosmer, the old Breton, the Redguard, the body returning to the realm of the living, and the Breton putting an arrow in its eye.

She watched, she observed. She paid no heed to the corpse, she'd seen worse. Up until it came back to life. That would give her something to think about. She took mental notes about each of the people who caught her odd blue and green eyes. The Dark Elf looked like a priest. The Dunmer doesn't look like she has much gold on her. After all, people of her sort rarely do. Not a good target. She thought to herself.

To her, the Bosmer looked to be grieving. The Bosmer most likely knew who that body once was. She mused. She looks to be... maybe a ranger? She looks like she knows these lands well. Maybe she makes coin off of that. No. Stop being so hopeful. With the luck this one has been having, she doubts anyone carries gold anymore. But someone must be.

She shifted her gaze to the Breton with the bow. Hmph. The Breton has good aim. This one bets she has even better aim. He looks angry, and possibly dangerous. Could be a mercenary of sorts. Maybe owns a lot of coin. No, too dangerous. She was often careless in who she stole from, but that Breton looked too dangerous for her.

The Redguard. Hmm, standard brute by the looks of the Redguard. Looks thick, dull. Could be a good target. Though the Redguard might not be as dumb as he looks. Hmph. Some people say, 'it never hurts to try', but this one knows that it always hurts to try, sooner or later. Oh, by S'rendarr. This one needs gold, those daggers are nice but they cost this one almost all her gold. She'll try the Redguard, tonight. For now, she would wait, watch him, and try her best to avoid the others. But who knows? Maybe a circumstance will arise where she has to interact with these people. Time will tell.

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Omekh's hand was poised to draw his scimitar, but Therence's aim was swifter and impeccable. The Redguard had been shaken, himself; the dead had been doubly disgraced in this instance: first by Carrickdown's reticence to care for its own, and again by this necromancy. He was moved terribly.

Hjerm stepped forth from the crowd, which had since ebbed. He took Beleric's widow in his arms and, after a fleeting rapport with his Redguard friend, carried her away. She would later wake up to realize none of this had been a dream.

Omekh didn't feel five years younger anymore.

He looked down again at the slain Beleric. He served as a reminder of why Omekh had come to High Rock, to Carrickdown. When he looked up again, he spotted Cayliss, who had been spurred to action, and then to Therence, who had been quicker. But then his eyes met Ervesa's. Of all those in this village, she was the only one who could understand his innate outrage. She shared it.

"Good shot," he sighed, glancing wearily at the witch hunter who may or may not have just shouted something. Omekh was on his way to group with the Bosmer and the Dunmer.

"Perhaps a pyre for him," he queried their guide, voice dry. She was well connected, he knew; she could set things in motion. The Imperial deserved to be released, and the fire would ease everyone's fright.

"Ervesa, this is our guide to the Crypt." He knew the dark elf was with them now.

 

 

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"Nice to meet you." Ervesa said, no longer with her traditional kind voice that she spoke with when tending to her patients. "How well do you know the Crypt? Which filthy being has done this? Do you know?"

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Therence's precision has finished Beleric's second life. Cayliss was ready to fire her own arrow but she saw the body fall. These were good skills.

"A pyre is good. We can make it as soon as possible and then go. You see, I don't want any hurry with the burial, but I think that the more we wait, the more these necromancers can do. I doubt Beleric would be mad at us if we just lit the pyre now and went to avenge him." she said to Omekh and put the arrow back into the quiver. Then she looked at the Dunmer priest and welcomed her with a smile and a nod. She was not happy, though, because who would be happy just after a friend's double death?

"I'll tell you more on the way. I heard gossip of a lich inside the Crypt. And I see there are necromancers as well..."

Also, she felt like she was being watched. The Ohmes-raht noticed that the Wood Elf started looking around when she was looking at her, wondering about her money. But Cayliss did not notice the reason of the feeling. It was hard to spot such watchers.

"Just give us a while or help us. After the burial, we meet immediately at the crossroad I mentioned yesterday. Tell the others." she said. Some villagers who returned and overheard the conversation started preparing a pyre.

Among the villagers who came back was the hunter who dragged the corpse here.

"S-sorry. I did not know this will happen. I'm so glad you finished this before anyone got hurt!" he said, quite nervous. The middle-aged Breton was afraid that someone might find him guilty, while he certainly wanted to help Beleric and bring his body back to town. "I think you should leave and let us do this. I see you know what is the reason our friend woke up and you know how to deal with it. I think his wife might want to participate, she's gone for a while now... Believe me, Beleric is in good hands and a lot of people knew him and will make a proper burial. Of course, if you want to stay, feel free to do so. You are our friends now." he said, mostly talking to Omekh, Ervesa and Therence, because he knew Cayliss already.

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The Khajiit continued to watch, but she moved a bit closer so she can eavesdrop on what they might be saying.

"I'll tell you more on the way. I heard gossip of a lich inside the Crypt. And I see there are necromancers as well..."

The Crypt? A lich? Necromancers? These people are mad. However... this one has heard of vast amounts of coin to be had within the Crypt. It might be worth a try, if this one could join them, avoid the lich, and sneak off with a load of gold... it could be much easier than robbing someone blind.

When she was watching the Bosmer, she noticed her looking around. She might see this one... So she moved into a position where she would not be seen by them, but can still hear them talking.

"After the burial, we meet immediately at the crossroad I mentioned yesterday. Tell the others."

So there are more than just them. And what crossroad does the Bosmer speak of? No matter, this one can find it easily enough. She can follow them, see where they go, then maybe ask to join them, and then... get rich and leave them all behind. Perfect. Her plan was set. Now all she needed to do was execute it. When she was following them, she would have to remain unseen.

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Yaalon had left the tavern at the sound of all the commotion, and had been standing in the crowd when the dead man had suddenly arose to the surprise of everyone and grasped at Rezir's leg.

Rogue necromancers were operating in the area after all,  Yaalon thought as an arrow buried itself in the revenant's skull with what could have only been reflexive speed and deadly accuracy. Looking in the direction the arrow came from, he saw Therence scowling, another arrow already strung. 

The young Breton was glad to have the older Breton along. If there were hedge-wizards operating in the area, they would most certainly be interested in the Crypt and might be camped nearby. If the perpetrator was a lich, like Omekh Rezir had warned, they had bigger problems still, as it would certainly have carved out a lair within the Crypt itself. They would need the full breadth of a witch hunter's skills if they were to survive.

Yaalon took another glance at the corpse before heading over towards Therence, where a small crowd of their acquaintances had gathered: Olmehk Rezir, Cayliss the guide, and the Dunmer woman who had been talking with Rezir earlier. She had asked about joining the party, but for what end he didn't know. She looked like a traveling pilgrim or monk. Not the tomb looter that you typically see.

As he approached, the Dunmer woman was offering to help with the cremation of the recently deceased. Where they holding a funeral service for this man now? Yaalon thought it was hardly their place, being mostly strangers. Besides, they had a expedition to embark on.

Yaalon clapped Therence on the shoulder and gave him a grin.

"Nice shot," he said.

 

 

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"I'll help you with the cremation, if you don't mind." Ervesa said, "The man deserves to be honoured, especially after how badly he was defiled. While we wouldn't do this this way in Morrowind, I'll agree with the pyre, if that is what you wish."

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"I'll help you with the burial, if you don't mind. The man deserves to be honoured, especially after how badly he was defiled. While we wouldn't do this this way in Morrowind, I'll agree with the pyre, if that is what you wish."

An idea sprung up in the Khajiit's mind. Perhaps... if this one makes herself known to these people when they start the funeral before they leave, she could join and her plan would be even simpler. Following people is always risky, so this could be a good chance. But what's this?

"Nice shot."

A new voice. The Ohmes-raht slowly walked back in front of them, trying to make herself look busy, but also walking slow enough so that she could analyze the source of this unknown voice.

Hmm... looks like... perhaps a mage? Looks young. Probably stupid, careless. This one can smell the Breton from here... Her nostrils flared in disgust.

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Fiore1300 wrote:

Yaalon clapped Therence on the shoulder and gave him a grin.

"Nice shot," he said.

Therence grunted. "It was. I've been doing this a long time." He withdrew his second arrow and turned toward the Bosmer and the Redguard. The dark elf was still hanging around, he noticed. He lowered his voice and continued speaking to Yaalon. Anyone listening in might have heard every fourth word. "It looks like the others want to stay and weep over the body some more. What do you say we ditch the lot and head for the Crypt on our own? I know my business better than most, and in my experience a larger party causes more problems than it solves." He looked the boy in the eye. "Besides, this is a Guild matter, right? Why should they meddle in our affairs?"

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"I call that a fair fucking fight,". 

The Colovian spit into the mud, and sieved seamlessly through the crowd of onlookers towards the corpse. Breton locals, Mages Guild lackeys, Raga, the Dunmer priest, the Bosmer scout, and a cat slinking around in the back. 

"Regular fuckin' intramural extracurriculars gawkin' around this poor cunt." 

Kneeling, he grabbed a hold of the dead man's locks, exhaling a cloud of smoke and inhaling the sickly sweet smell that only comes off the recent dead brought back with sorcery. That haze of magic putrefaction reminded him of the color yellow. With his other hand he grabbed the shaft of the arrow at the eye socket and pulled it through as to not damage the fletching, which matched the feather vanes in the older Breton's quiver. He set the skull of the dead man back into the mud and set his hand briefly over his eyes before standing. He turned towards the group and then began swaggering towards the tavern's door, twirling the arrow in his fingers. His eyes met the old Breton's.

"All of fucking squalor settles around here like a mist, and a necromancer drainin' their souls? Someone ought to scalp the cocksucker and take whatever he's got on him. If he has a scalp left. Surely a square and official, due-payin' member of the mighty Imperial Mages Guild would benefit from the elimination of an errant hedge-sorceror? Dangerous foe needs dangerous adversaries. Boiche scout's no doubt offered her services. Devil-worshipping ash-skin could have some fuckin' utility in facing the dark conjurations of this cocksucker. Raga's got a sword. Y'all two can officiate. I'm going in to have a drink. Plans ought to be made for this kinda maneuver. Fuckin' necromancy ain't Niben rice cakes, but it would not be a first for me,".

The Colovian's almost playful banter turned into a serious, dour growl as the final words left his mouth, and he swallowed his extinguished tobacco. His barefeet plodded into the tavern, twiddling the arrow in one hand while his other prepared its farewells to his last, scanty drakes. 

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The Ohmes-raht took note of the Colovian. That one has a foul tongue. If this one is to meet the Colovian, he should watch his tongue, lest it get cut off. And... is he not wearing boots? How stupid of him. This one does not like the Colovian. Foul mouthed and stupid. Most likely poor as dirt, too.

Her analysis complete, the Khajiit made her way to hang around by the tavern's door, close to the group. Though maybe that was a bit too close, and she was in plain sight and ear-shot of everyone there. But at this point, she didn't much care. She wasn't watching them closely, nor was she eavesdropping very much anymore. She was just waiting for them to leave, so she could follow. She was trying her best not to look suspicious, though her being a Khajiit didn't help, and neither did her black clothes.

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Yaalon frowned at Therence's suggestion. He was confident - now more than ever - in the Witchhunter's abilities, but the legendary status of the Crypt and the possibility of a lich made the Journeyman doubt their chances at success.

"We might need them," Yaalon returned as quietly as he could, covering his hand with his mouth in case anyone could lip-read. "Besides, do you know the way to the Crypt? We should at least wait for our guide. I don't want the money I spent on her fee to -"

Yaalon's quiet whisper was interrupted by a man who had come up behind him. Turning, he spotted an Imperial man brandishing an arrow, speaking directly to Therence.

 

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For a moment, Therence looked ready to argue, but then he turned away. "You're the boss, kid." He jerked his head. "Let's go inside. That asshole took my arrow and I'll be wanting it back."