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Dark MeetingsRavenor crouched amongst the flora along the side of the moonlit road. The smell of manure and daisies permeated the air, but the argonian barely took notice. Three days of trekking across Cyrodiil had left him in a foul mood and with his mark now several hours late Ravenor was questioning what he was still doing there. The money he reminded himself. It was good and that shady breton had paid half up front. The job was simple. Eliminate the entire staff of caravan coming out from Aldmeri territory then standby for pick up.
Honestly, given the way things had been going lately, Ravenor would have preferred to stay buried in a mountain of recently emptied pint glasses. The capital was a mess and the three factions that had sprung up were all intent on wiping each other out. To think that his people would ally themselves with the dunmer left a sour taste in his mouth. So far he had avoided the war. Taking small scale jobs for the brotherhood out of Daggerfall’s sovereign territories.
Ravenor often found himself inside a comfy little tavern in Highrock. The place had ale with head an inch thick on it, but recently the guild had been getting nervous. The other neutral entities had been building strong alliances across the warring factions while the brotherhood had found little profit in the conflict. Sure, there were plenty of contracts on all the top military leaders for each faction; however, the last thing the guild wanted as a rogue nation added to their ever growing list of enemies.
The chance for some hard earned gold and maybe a trapped soul or two had managed to capture Ravenor’s interest. That and his blades had a never ending thirst for mer blood.
“Easy there,” came a disembodied voice from further up the shadowed roadway. The noise broke Ravenor from his reverie. The assassin quickly set his mind back to the task at hand, pushing guild politics out of this thoughts completely. His mark was close and he needed to be focused. Whispered words of the arcane hissed out of his scaly lips. The liquid pools of shadow surrounding him began coalescing around his crouched form. Blanketed in darkness, Ravenor crept to the edge of the road to catch sight of his prey.
There it was. Two covered wagons, two caravan drivers and two lightly armored guards. Not exactly the making of a fair fight, but then Ravenor was rarely one to worry about odds. He began making his way down the cobbled street moving from one pool of shadow to the next. Each time he stepped from one dimmed area to the next, it appeared as if a section of darkness tore itself away from one shaded area only to slither to the next.
The lead wagon’s horse gave a sniff in his direction as he stalked past, but the beasts keen senses were no match for the scaley assassin’s dark magick. As the last wagon rambled past him Ravenor pivoted and began walking in step with the leftmost rear guard. He matched the tall heavily armored guard’s stride perfectly using the sound of the mark’s own armored footsteps to mask his presence.
While he tailed the tall figure in front of him, Ravenor began scrutinizing his soon to be victim. It was to early for the flashy stuff. The wicked blades hanging from Ravenor’s belt would suffice for the current task at hand. Spotting a small opening directly under the rim of the guards helmet, Ravenor gripped the handle of a kukri in his right hand.
In a single fluid motion Ravenor drew and inserted the large blade into the base of the man’s skull. There was no scream or any other noise for that matter. Just a slight spasm and a sudden absence of animation. Ravenor caught the corpse in his arms as it began slumping towards the ground. The shadows enveloping him quickly consumed the corpse as well. One down and no one the wiser.
Ravenor ditched the body by the side of the road then quickly caught back up to the rear most wagon. With one down that left a single remaining guard and the two drivers. He’d have a hard time removing either of the drivers without raising awareness so he decided he would remove the second guard first.
Making his way back towards the front, the lead guard gave Ravenor cause to pause. The armored figure appeared to be sniffing the air, a look of concern marring his features.
“Marcus?” the guard inquired after what Ravenor could only assume was the identity of the recently departed caravan guard. To Oblivion with all this, Ravenor thought. Summoning magick into the core of his being, Ravenor stepped into a shadow directly in front of him only to step out of another shadow adjacent to the lead guard at the same instant.
His knife was already cutting a horizontal slash at the guards unprotected eyes before he had even fully materialized. And then time stopped. The guard had been on alert. It also appeared that he had superhuman reflexes. Ravenor stared in disbelief at the clawed hand holding his striking arm in a death grip. He traced his way up offending limb to a face that appeared to be sprouting mange by the second. The eyes that met his were a burning and intense yellow full of… not hate but something primal.
Ravenor’s stomach sank to his feet as he watched the beast complete the transformation. Engorging muscles began stretching and tearing through armor straps. The metal protection falling to the ground, discarded and forgotten. The surreal changes to the face were the most interesting to behold. Ravenor could hear the sounds of breaking and reshaping bones as the creatures maw thrust outwards towards him. Somewhere in the background Ravenor heard one of the caravan drivers scream in terror.
“Who sent you lizard?” the hulking beast demanded.
“From one professional to another, I feel like I shouldn’t need to point out that revealing one’s employer is a bit of a taboo…” Ravenor replied in a voice dripping with sarcasm.
When someone with the face a wolf grins at you it can only be described as terrifying. Terror and Ravenor were old buddies however and he found the increasingly tight grip around his right wrist incredibly more disconcerting than a little bit of nagging fear. The fully transformed werewolf, who was now towering over Ravenor by at least two full feet, did not seem amused. Easily twice as wide at the shoulders as had been a moment ago, the beast’s strength was beyond description.
“I think in this case you’ll make an exception,” came the reply.
The werewolf was fast, but Ravenor was quicker. Ravenor knew that to be bit meant an end to his current existence as he knew it. His free hand darted towards his second knife. Drawing it in a slashing arc, he managed to catch the bicep of the arm the beast was using to restrain him. The werewolf didn’t so much as flinch. He did however seemed quite aggravated by the lack of headway in their conversation and decided to vent that anger by punching Ravenor square in the chest. The blow knocked the wind, the life and possibly even the sanity out of the smaller figure. Ribs cracked as the werewolf continued to follow through with the punch.
Ravenor found himself momentarily sailing through the air. He mused that more ribs were likely to break when he crashed into the wagon that had been directly behind him. The crash was deafening when he slammed into the side of the cart. Pain exploded through his scaled body upon impact. His vision blurred and he found himself momentarily blinded by the agony. The stunned driver screamed again, staring down in horror at the mangled argonian sliding down the side of his wagon.
Ravenor looked up at him and managed a wink. He quickly regretted the gesture as it sent a spike of pain shooting through his possibly fragmented skull. Blood bubbles escaped through his lips and the taste of iron permeated his senses. Realizing that he needed to act fast, Ravenor mouth sorry to the terrified driver and then extended his palm toward him. Dark magick raced out of his outstretched limb and dove into the man’s nose and mouth. The driver’s terror turned into blind panic as the magick worked its way into his hapless body.
Ravenor closed his hand into a fist and jerked it towards his heart. As if the dark mist was an anchored line, it reacted to the violent tugging motion. It tore free of the whimpering driver taking with it that all important spark that granted life. Pure white light trailed the dark mist and Ravenor brought his clenched fist up to his mouth. The white light followed the gesture and Ravenor drank it in. With the link established the assassin began devouring the man’s life essence like a man who had just found water in the desert.
The poor driver seemed to age fifty years in an instant. His vitality rapidly being stolen from him. His skin shriveled and his eyes sank in. His hair receded and grayed and his weight seemed to simply melt away. As the gruesome display of death played itself out, Ravenor found himself undergoing quite the opposite experience. Pain shot through his chest as his ribs began resetting themselves. Not looking to waste anymore time Ravenor mumbled more arcane words under his breath and disappeared once more into the shadows.
His health was returning but it would take a few minutes for him to fully recover. He began putting distance between himself and his attacker trying to locate the other driver while his flesh knit itself back together. The werewolf seemed to look directly at him despite the magick concealment. Figuring the second driver had fled into the night Ravenor regarded the monster staring directly at his invisible form.
“I have your scent now shadow walker, there is no hiding from me now,” the beast said seeming to sense Ravenor’s doubt.
“Well I have to admit that this definitely cramps my style. I am not usually one for fair fights to be completely honest,” Ravenor replied trying to buy time.
“No your kind merely skulks about. You have no honor or any sense of what fair even is. However, as someone who does believe in nobility I feel I must warn you that stalling is pointless. Your fate has already been sealed. Curse whoever sent you here this night and resign yourself to what is coming.”
Ravenor was definitely cursing that slimey breton right about now. Had the dirty little smoothskin known that he had sent him after a couple of wolves in sheep’s clothing? Ravenor decided that thoughts such as these were best left for the brooding that would come after he survived this situation. He went down the mental checklist of what options were currently available to him and didn’t like the outcome.
The way he saw it there was really only one option left to him; however, it came with large risks. He had at his disposal powerful magicks, but they would leave him in a weakened state immediately following its use. Still he didn’t see too many choices laid out in front of him. He could worry about dealing with the link up after this angry mongrel was out of his way.
Dropping the shadowy disguise, Ravenor revealed himself to his assailant.
“Well it appears you have me at a disadvantage. By my estimation I’d say about a 300 pound disadvantage. Still like I said earlier… I’m not one to play fair,” Ravenor said nonchalantly.
The beast had apparently had enough of the games. He dropped to all fours and began charging. Ravenor closed his eyes and began chanting frantically under his breath. Dark magick began oozing out of every pore on his body. The dark shroud thickened and began traveling towards the assassin’s right hand coalescing into a knife like edge of pure darkness. Ravenor’s vile essence poured into the magick strengthening it, feeding his very life force into it. As the soul blade took shape, Ravenor snapped his eyes opened. The beast was a mere ten feet away. Ravenor brought his right arm up and back high to his shoulder. His breathing settled. His gaze focused. Retracting the hand just a few more inches, he waited knowing the timing had to be perfect.
Standing their poised and ready to strike, Ravenor waited to the last possible second. Right as the beast lunged at him he extended his arm. The blade of night pierced the beasts chest. The ephemeral blade did not rend flesh however. It merely passed through unhindered by the physical. The werewolf’s expression of primal lust evaporated instantly. A look of confusion quickly took over as the darkness pierced not the heart, but the man’s very soul.
A whimper escaped from those feral lips. It was the sound of a puppy when it its tail gets slammed in a door. Ravenor watched as the life drained out of those fierce yellow eyes. Hatred sparked there in place of that primal fury for a mere instant before the light went out altogether.
Ravenor fell back on his rear gasping for breath. He could only cast that spell after weeks steady build up and it always left him drained for a few days after. He would have to lay low until his strength returned. Slowly he made his way back to his feet and turned his gaze down towards the naked altmer at his feet.
Murder was not something to get squeamish over. Being set up was however. That breton had sent him to tangle with lycanthropes. Ravenor had been given no where near the amount of pay or intel required for a job like this. A single bite and Ravenor would have found himself dead or a convert worshipping in the high church of lord furry.
Someone was going to answer his questions and he wasn’t sure how nice he was going to be when he asked them. That was for later though. For now he needed food and rest.
“You see? I told you he was ideal. He ended the first mutt before they even realized he was among them,” a voice with no owner commented.
Ravenor’s cold blood dropped to below freezing. He dropped to a crouch and drew both knives, the incantation of a spell on the tip of his tongue.
“Now now there’s no need for that. We know you expended yourself on that last spell. It was part of the plan. I must say congratulations are in order, you have passed initiation,” the ownerless voice continued.
“Show yourself cowards!” Ravenor demanded.
A chuckle came from all directions at once, “That is rich coming from you. Still I wouldn’t have you think me rude.”
The breton from the tavern stepped out from behind an intricate veil. He was exactly as Ravenor remembered him sans a few minor details. His suntan had been completely replaced with what could only be described as a corpse like complexion. Despite the extreme paleness, it was the eyes that tipped Ravenor off that his luck had run its course. Blood red orbs stared back at Ravenor. Eyes that belonged to those who stalked the night.
“You’ll have to forgive my appearance. It has been a few days since I’ve fed and I’m afraid my hunger has a tendency to show quite strongly when I witness a fellow predator in action.”
Ravenor had no words. This was checkmate and he knew it. The set up had been skillfully executed. They had eliminated a rival and forced him to exhaust himself all in one fell swoop. Still death was preferable to undeath. Ravenor reversed his grip on the kukri in his left hand and swung it at his throat. He never saw or heard the movement. The female vampire was just suddenly there, hand wrapped around his left wrist.
“Please don’t waste any of that precious blood my sweet,” she purred in his ear. He turned to look up at her and almost retched. The melodious voice belonged to an ebon skinned dunmer. Ravenor hated the dunmer… Amusement flashed across her features. She puckered her lips in a mock kiss and nuzzled Ravenor’s neck… Surprisingly the filthy mer’s kiss felt quite nice...