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Lady N's picture
Joined: 06/26/2010
Author -  baumgartner


A  Courtier's Report Of White-Gold Palace Gossip
Interesting news My Lord regarding the so-called Frostfall Coup that riffled the complacency of the Longhouse Court in Cyrodiil. It was a political tremor involving the impact of the knahaten flu in Elsweyr and the arrival of an Aldmeri aid mission in Senchal. There are rumors and obliquely stated hints in the Imperial Court that the Aldmeri purpose had more to do with the wooing of a potential future anti-Imperial ally than with the legitimate needs related to the flu. As Frostfall approached the hints and rumors begin to ring Imperial bells of alarm and the Emperor's Queen Cliva Tharn and her father Abnur Tharn the Chancellor of the Empire's Elder Council bent the Emperor's ear and the investigations and denials commenced.  
The Queen's half-aunt Euraxia Tharn, 'Auntie Niben Iron', has been dispatched to Elsweyr to sort out friend from foe. Ostensibly she will be the Queen of Rimmen which, as this Servant has previously remarked, is the only city within Elsweyr with an Imperial history still hosting strong pro Imperial factions and sympathies. The White-Gold Society of Merchants  has added a contingent from The Fighter's Guild to her entourage. Whether from a patriotic mercantile inclination or pressure from the Tharn Family I will have more to venture in the next paragraph. 
Also of particular note for your attention is the inclusion in her entourage of a group of individuals comprising a notorious  White-Gold social club known as 'The Jovial Lambasters'. They are, and your Servant believes this rumor to be true, being removed from the Court and the Capital as an attempt to scratch an annoying  embarrassment. Their notoriety reads like a litany of disorderly conduct: minor theft and 'catch-all' misdemeanor nuisance crimes protected under the shield of family privilege. Most notably the list includes Euraxia's 'droll and charming' son Javad Tharn. With this final delicacy of royal fact and rumor your Servant will leave the actual purpose of Auntie Niben Iron in Rimmen to your imagination.
In conclusion, Queen Euraxia shall be departing Colovia in the fortnight along the old invasion route through the West Weald to Riverhold and thence south along the caravan routes to secure Rimmen.
Your Obedient and Observant Servant 
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RIMMEN! The thought twitched Javad's pique for the moment, " The City of the Lost at the End of Nowhere!"  ... HE WAS ALONE! THE LAMBASTERS, HIS FRIENDS ...  WERE THEY SICK OR JUST AFRAID OF THE BIG CATS?
The lights of Jone and Jode were passing overhead filtered through the dusty torchlit motes raised by pedestrian traffic on the Esplanade and the cold high desert night wind. A stylishly dressed khajiit strode confidently from some khajiiti business at the Rimmen's Palace. He touched a forelock of jeweled and pomaded mane to acknowledge his presence as a courtesy to the Imperial as he passed. 
BRASSY BUGGER! It was near midnight but the damned cats must be nocturnal. He stumbled and looked down to see the form huddled on the pavement at his feet. Dark shadows momentarily hid the figure until the dancing torchlight of the passing human and orcish Rimmen Watchmen revealed a scrawny and ill kept khajiit. It's eyes were dull, unseeing! Dead! 
"Tis the flu milord!" Spoke one of the watch. "Some living skooma addicts here on the Esplanade but there be mostly dead and dying sots from the Red Death. The Death Wagons won't be making their rounds until morning so best step and walk carefully!"
TIME TO GO! And as the watch stepped away he saw a svelte jaguar lady in a silky sheath and long sexy legs riding a huge tiger towards the diplomatic apartments. A COURTESAN! He patted his purse ... HE HAD THE COIN ... and began to step towards what he assumed to be her path ... and tripped over another corpse.
NO! AWAY DAMNED THING! He rose and lashed out with the toe of his custom Elinhiran Courtier's leather boot. The corpse jerked under the impact and he stumbled forwards into the arms of ... THE RED WITCH ... a disheveled khajiit queen, rail thin in torn, filthy but costly crimson clothing. He was appalled by the pleading hopelessness in her dull golden eyes. Then a patch of moonlight fell across her neck and shoulders and he saw there more than the hopelessness of skooma addiction. A necklace of angry red pustules laced across her neck... DEATH ... and she dragged a broken claw across their surface, and broke away from him leaving a bloody, pus infected runnel across his young and handsome cheek.
He lashed out with his fist and struck her down to the ominous grows of the growing crowd of bystanders. Mostly khajiiti with a few adventuresome human or mer; most appeared to be looking for more excitement ... MURDER! ... a voice shouted.
WOOF! ... the unlikely bark of a canine ... EXCITED AND FRIENDLY ... amid the feline and increasingly angry atmosphere condensing about him in the Esplanade. 
A LARGE HOUND ... more guttural angry cries from the crowd ... GRANNY MUGGER! THUG! ... where are the guards?  A clod of mud or filth flew past his ear ... RUN! FOLLOW ME ... the hound seemed to say and he raced off towards the edge of the Esplanade following the dog towards an old Akavir pagoda rising above the lights and khajiiti late shoppers of the still bustling market.
QUICK YOUNG MASTER THARN! ... INSIDE! ...  His mind was still caught in the race of unfolding events and he slid past the significance of the dog's suddenly human tongue. 
The interior's  dark shadows ill-concealing stone faced fantastical idols of far away Akaviri gods and demons, directed his vision towards a shimmering translucent shaft of azure light surrounding a tall throne  with a high seat.  A curious figure, small in oversized black leather riding boots and rust colored pants with a pot belly protruding from an open fawn vest  materialized from the darkness. Save for the pair of horns growing from its forehead It could be a very small, jovial boy. He clambered up onto the throne and sat with his legs too short to allow his feet to touch the ground.
"Oh FIE on you Barbas!" The imp said to the dog. His voice that of a small, aggrieved boy, "I specifically instructed you to bring me a HERO! Instead you fetch a half grown PUP already infected with the KNAHATEN FLU. He will DIE before this day is out."
INFECTED? DIE? ... Javad's vision dimmed and he stood motionless as his mind raced in circles around the subject.
"NO, NO! YOU NINNY," growled Barbas. "I keep telling you that there's more heroes infesting the fabric of the mortal world than I have fleas ... thank you very much!" He paused and raised a rear leg to scratch behind an ear. "World hungry blowhards like Molag Bal and Mehrunes Dagon will sneer and laugh if you try and barter a hero's soul!
"You are such an ignoramus for a master! Ask your Black Worm Anchorite if you don't believe your dog. You need a bargaining chip they will respect. An obedient soul that is devious and capable of doing whatever needs to be done!"
Clavicus Vile kicked his heels against the throne and pointed a finger at Javad. "DEAD!" He said.
"Oh Clavicus," said Barbas,. "Just give the boy - his name is Javad - Javad Tharn of the Royal House of Tharn in Cyrodiil don't you know - your Masque and he can be as lively and cold blooded machinating as ever a world devouring Prince could wish for ... they will bid high for this one!"   
"Poo!" Clavicus curled his little angelic lips into a sneer.
"POO yourself!" Barbas retorted. "Just give the lad your Masque and let him try it on. The knahaten flu will be cured and he will be admired and looked up to by everyone ... even his Mother."
Javad heard a soft sound of an object falling lightly onto the stone paving. He looked down and saw there in the pillar of light surrounding the throne the image of his face ... handsome, strong features, capable of inspiring loyalty, belief, friendship or fear as might befit a situation: encouraging and lovable,  an overpowering aura of cool, decisive command. He picked it up. It was weightless soft, warm, and pliable ... a new seductive skin that slid effortlessly over his head and conformed to his facial features.
"Step outside and try it out." Barbas suggested.
"Be careful!" Clavicus Vile snapped and drummed his heels against the throne to emphasize his concern. "If it gets damaged I shall be excessively vexed and you do not want that!"
Javad stepped through the doorway and into daylight. Time, a great deal of time had passed while he had been inside.
The hectoring, lecturing voice of his White-Gold tutor ... what was his name ... Seneca ...  intruded into his thoughts. " ... Rimmen is a crossroads of civilizations both past and present. The city's Esplanade is a veritable cultural time capsule."
He blinked and shaded his eyes with his hand. The Death Wagons had been through, there were no corpses littering the pavement. Faces, mostly human but some few khajiiti making eye contact smiled uncertainly. He smiled at one, a khajiit matron carrying a kitten in an over the shoulder body wrap and she absolutely beamed in response.
Seneca's droning voice continued, and he saw Rimmen with a new awareness of details and possibilities. The Esplanade  was bounded on three sides by tall, narrow wood and gilt buildings, some raised on pillars and all capped with the tall, graceful upward swooping khajiiti rooftops. The roof lines similar to the Akaviri style but ever the more graceful, almost lithe style of silhouette and skyline signature totally and uniquely the khajiiti ... good complement that! The pavement in various stones in olive, terra cotta and umber tones as a striking counterpoint to the white and bone toned palace and government buildings on the opposite end ... complementary point for artistic taste. Some buildings on the Palace and government end are Imperial in style but others are Akaviri , no doubt heavily influenced by the Potentate Emperors ... so many cultures, so much trivia to stroke an ego with the right people.
He felt invigorated, alive for the first time! He ran his hand across his cheek where the old khajiiti lady had scratched her knahaten poison nail and felt nothing. The Masque felt like his own skin.
"Javad! There you are!" A young man's voice penetrated from the direction of the Palace. A tall, young stylishly dressed Reachman approached. The newcomers name was Brummel. A Reachman scion, he was the definer of both sport and fashion for the Jovial Lambasters. 
But Javad judged that today Brummel had a woebegone look and was  marked for failure . He was no longer important! He was sweating heavily, disheveled and out of breath from the short walk from the Palace. His collar was open and Javad could see the swelling of that would soon erupt into the knahaten's red death trademark. 
"Goodbye Brummel!" Javad said and waved his former friend back towards the Palace. 
He turned and bumped into a curious construct of meteoric iron and glass that sat on a black granite pedestal in the pagoda's entrance. His tutor ... Seneca ... would call it a relic to the memory of the great daedric worshiping Ayleid diaspora southwards into Elsweyr and Valenwood following the destruction of their cities and the capture of the White-Gold Tower by the armies of Saint Alessia in Cyrodiil ... INTERESTING  FACT BUT NOT FOR NOW!
He turned away from the sunlit Esplanade and  stepped into the inviting darkness of the pagoda. Javad Tharn had a deal to consummate.
Lady N's picture
Joined: 06/26/2010

This piece was written for our 20th anniversary fan art contest! It is strictly property of its original creator - you may not modify, publish, or redistribute it without explicit permission from the artist.