Location:- Valtheim Towers
Date:- 2E 581 First Seed Turdas 12th.
Two hours before dawn the twin moons Masser and Secunda had set behind the horizon, with the lack of moonlight it plunged the pre-dawn into darkness. Outside Volk's farm house the only light the three companions had to guide them was the starlight, and Delte's details of her reconnoitring of the small holdings earlier.
Delte took position behind the wall of a cattle pen to use as cover while she strung her bow and poisoned the arrows with paralysing poison. From her vantage point she could see the front door to the house and Volk's progress as he crept into the yard.
Volk slowly made his way towards the well and crouched down behind the wall. He drew out a pair of sax he had found in the old barracks after losing his twin axes earlier along with his horse in the previous skirmish with the bandits. As he watched the doorway his hand searched along the ground looking for a stone to throw at the front door when Paws gave the signal that he was ready and covering the back entrance to the building.
Left-Paw-Alight finished quietly enchanting the back door area with trap runes of fire. He stepped back and summoned a Flame Atronach which instantly put him in a battle of wills against the minor daedra. Once won he sent a small globe of magical light up into the sky, this was the signal to begin the attack.
Volk saw the signal from Paws and threw the stone at the front door, it struck the wood sending a loud cracking sound to echo around the stone basin in where the farm stood. Shouts of alarm came from within the house as the people inside was alerted and lit the lanterns so they could see. The door flew open and bathed the front porch of the house in bright lantern light. Volk was already up and moving fast to cover the last fifteen yards of open ground before the element of surprise wore off and the occupants eyes adjusted to the light sources.
Two figures silhouetted by the light stood in the door way and drew back their bows. Delte loosed her first arrow which struck home into the chest of her first target driving it back into the house dead. The second figure hesitated and looked for Delte's location which gave her time to draw another arrow and loose, her aim was slightly off target as it left her bow to hit the second bowman along the cheek bone. The poison took immediate effect and they dropped to the floor paralysed.
Volk leapt over the prone forms of the two bowmen in the doorway and entered into the front room. As he landed he parried a clumsy attack from the argonian, His other hand came round and sliced across the bare stomach to disembowel him. A woman screamed to his right and drove a axe at Volk's head. Volk dodged to the left and spun round to her right, then drove a sax blade hard into her lower back to sever the spine.
An explosion rocked the rear of the house as one of the bandits tried to leave, quickly followed by a blood curdling scream as he was consumed by the fire from the atronach and fire traps. Volk was now surrounded by a dunmer male and two reachmen. He grinned and splattered his opponents with the blood off his sax blades as a taunt. With the initial surprise of the attack now faded his opponents would be harder to defeat.
“You are all dead men, you just don't know it yet.” Volk growled menacingly at them.
A shadow passed behind the dunmer male and he fell down dead as Delte sliced his throat. The reachman closest to her turned his attention on her and went in for the attack. The second reachman assaulted Volk.
Delte dodged the reachman's longsword with a dancers grace, all the time drawing him closer with feints from her own two daggers.
Volk parried the attacks of his opponent, then crossed his blades to catch an overhead blow. As the reachman pushed with all his strength Volk brought one of his blades out of the lock and slashed his opponent across the throat. Blood and air escaped from the gaping wound and the reachman dropped his sword as his hands grasped at the wound trying to hold in the blood and escaping air from the windpipe.
Volk turned round and saw Delte parry a few blows and pirouette out of a counter attack. He sighed and shouted out to her. “Delte stop playing with him and just kill him.”
Delte took an obvious swipe with her dagger at the man's neck as he ducked down she then brought her other dagger hard up underneath his chin and drove it home through his skull. As the eyes in his head rolled back she kicked him off the blade and wiped it clean on his jerkin.
“You spoil all my fun.” She said to Volk as she got up and walked over to the paralysed man.
“I will let you have fun interrogating this one.” Volk said pointing at the last remaining bandit who was a nord. “Is he alive?”
Delte nodded and tied the man's hands behind his back and then his feet. “The poison will wear off soon.”
“Good.” Volk moved closer to Delte and whispered in her ear “Can he hear us?”
“Yes and also see what we did to his friends from his position as well.” Delte replied “I don't think he will hold out long.”
Paws came in from the back of the house followed by the subtle smell of sulphur. “All clear back there, a nord male tried to escape but he is now ash.” Paws cast a look around the room noting the bodies “Any still alive or do we need a seance to contact the dead?” He added with a chuckle.
Delte kicked the prone nord “This one is alive for now. He will answer our questions.... in time.” She added with a wink to Paws.
“I will fire up the furnace, we are going to need hot irons and coal for his questioning.” Volk commented as he walked out to the back of the house.
Volk sat by the side of his now exhumed son tears rolling freely down his face. Delte and Paws had moved the prisoner to the now raging hot furnace that was situated in a small cave behind Volks farm. Daylight had broken and along with it the bird song of spring filled the air with noise. A small family of rabbits hopped around in the long meadow grass where the cows would have been grazing. Volk's dead horse hung from a A-frame its belly sliced open and partly butchered by the bandits. During the aftermath of the fight Volk and Paws had moved the dead bodies out of the house and placed them around the foot of the A-frame. Flies were already congregating around the carcasses of the dead bandits and horse.
Left-Paw-Alight sat outside of the cave entrance to Volk's furnace watching his friend grieve over his dead son. Now and then on the wind he caught snippets of Volk talking to his son as though he were alive and could hear him. Delte broke Paws reverie by placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Will he be all right?” Delte asked nodding over to Volk.
“I hope so, its never easy for a parent to bury their children.” Paws said with a heaviness in his voice.
“You lost a child as well?” Delte asked sensing the grief in the comment.
“Along time ago, I also knew Michael, Volk's eldest boy. I was his godparent.”
“I am sorry Paws, I didn't know.” Delte said as she headed down the steps towards Volk “By the way the prisoner is awake.”
“Hold on I will go and get Volk.” Paws said as he got up and headed down the steps “Would also like to pay my respects to the boy as well. You go back in and make sure everything is ready.”
Delte nodded and turned around to head back inside to the furnace.
The prisoner watched in wide eyed terror as Delte stoked the furnace even more, the heat from it hard started to make him sweat and small rivulets were now streaming down his body and splattering on the dirt floor of the workshop. Delte showed no visible signs of being effected by the heat due to her dunmer heritage.
“What are you going to do to me?” The nord male stammered.
“Answer our questions truthfully and you may live.” Delte answered without turning around.
“I don't know anything, I am just a farmer.” He cried.
“Delte laughed at him and said “This farm belongs to the Shatter-Shield clan. The owner grieves outside over a dead son, missing child he has never seen and wife. You had best come up with something else or this will be the quickest interrogation I have ever done.”
“No not this farm, we only came here because it was abandoned. My farm got destroyed by raiders on the boarder of Windhelm and the Rift.” The nord said as Volk and Paws entered the furnace.
Volk stopped in front of him and looked the prisoner in the eyes. A scowl of pure hatred etched on his face. Eyes red from the tears he had shed earlier.
“What is your name?” Volk spat at him.
“Johan Fletcher.” The prisoner said with fear in his voice “I will tell you everything okay. I am a coward please don't hurt me.”
A small puddle appeared at Johan's feet and a wet stain spread down the leg of his britches as his bladder gave way.
“Why kill my boy and wife?” Volk asked as he grabbed a hand full of Johan's hair.
“I didn't, we found the body of a boy outside near the well with his head caved in. We buried him ourselves out of respect because it looked like he had died in battle.” Johan blurted out in pain.”There was no new born child or woman here. The place had been deserted for a couple of weeks by the look of the body and spoiled food in the pantry.”
“I think you are lying. Delte put a hot coal down his right boot.” Volk growled out the order and let go of Johan's hair as he stepped back to allow Delte access to the prisoners booted feet.
Johan started to scream and thrash about in his bindings as Delte approached him with a white hot piece of coal. “I am telling you the truth.” Johan screamed “This place is cursed, I told them but they laughed at me. Please for the mercy and love of Mara.”
Volk put his arm out and stopped Delte in her tracks. “Go on.” Volk said to Johan “Why is this place cursed?”
“The blood smeared rune we found on the door to the house. The girls washed it off, but I have seen it before.” Johan said in between sobs.
“What did it look like? Can you draw it exactly?” Paws said now intrigued by the answers Johan was giving.
Johan nodded and looked up at the three of them “I will never forget that dread rune it was the same one the raiders used when they attacked my farm and village. They used my fathers own blood to paint it on my house while I hid from them like the coward I am in a hay stack.”
Volk pulled out one of his sax and cut Johan's bindings that held his hands to the large metal frame he was tied to. Left-Paw-Alight handed over a piece of charcoal and some parchment to Johan so he could draw the rune. Trembling with fear he accepted the items and started to draw. After a few minutes he had finished and handed the items back to Left-Paw-Alight.
Paws looked at the rune and ran a hand over his head feathers as he frowned at the drawing.
“Not seen anything like this before. Are you sure this is the rune you saw?” Left-Paw-Alight questioned Johan.
“Of course it is, that rune is etched in my waking life and my dreams. After what the raiders did to my family and drag off my mother and younger brother.” Johan broke down in tears.
“May I see?” Delte spoke up as she reached out a hand for the parchment.
“Why not. I have studied every rune known to the college. Its not daedric or magical, I think he made it up to save his own skin.” Paws said as he gave her the paper.
Volk punched Johan hard in the stomach and then an uppercut to his chin. He pulled back his fist for another blow.
“Stop.” Delte cried out “Release him.”
“What?” Both Volk and Paws said in unison in a surprised tone.
Delte stepped forward and addressed Johan “I know this rune, its an old dunmer or chimer rune for Domination.” She then took some cloth and damped it. Slowly she rubbed out some of the rune and when she was finished she showed the results to Volk and Paws.
“Over time it has changed to mean something else entirely.”
Both of the men looked at the parchment she was holding up with the now changed rune and said in unison. “Molag Bal.”
Delte nodded “Correct, now Johan do you know where these cultist are?”
Johan nodded slowly his face now becoming a bruised mess from Volk's beatings. “I know the place I can take you there, but don't expect me to help you fight them.”
“You show us the place and I will set you free.” Volk said as he bent down and cut the bonds at Johan's feet.
“If you run I will hunt you down.” Delte added “You will have three days before you die. Day one I make my poisons. Day two I track you down like an animal. Day three I catch you and kill you.” She counted off on her hand.
Johan stared wide eyed and open mouth looking into her almond shaped merish eyes.
“I give you my word I will not run. I swear to you and Shor.” Johan blurted out.
“Then it is done.” Volk said with a nod “Come I will get some water for you so you can clean yourself up Johan while you tell me what you can do other than shoot bows at unsuspecting people”
As Johan and Volk left the furnace Left-Paw-Alight asked Delte “Do you believe him about the rune and raiders?”
“Yes.” Came her reply “My people thought the cult was dead after being wiped out in fight they had with the Morag Tong for control over a city. Seems they have been laying low and waiting for an opportunity to try for another power struggle.”
“Why now though I wonder?” Paws mused.
“Lets find them before they manage to do something we are all going to regret. Also pray to the eight for Volk's family.” She said as she walked out into the sunshine of the spring morning.