Lady of Storms Two – Werewolf

“Trust me and I will guide you, my child.”

“I trust you.”

“What was that?” Dale mumbled, throwing an arm over her.

“Nothing. Go back to sleep.”

He snuggled closer and kissed her neck. “I’m awake now.”

“You sleep too lightly.”

“Have you always talked in your sleep?”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be.” He turned her over on her back, bent down and placed his mouth on hers, moaning softly as he drank her in. When they finally broke the kiss, he said, “I need to get up anyway. While I would love to stay here in bed with you all day, I have to train and get to my post. Come train with me.”

She shook her head. “Not this morning. I smell coffee, so I think Kireina’s finally home. I’m going to catch up with her.” She got up and threw on a tunic and a pair of trousers while Dale went to the wash basin and began to shave. “I’ll be out here,” she said as she left the bedroom.

Kireina was sitting in front of the fire with a huge mug in her hands. The Nord was blonde and pretty, nearly a foot taller than Amelia, with the solid musculature of a practiced warrior. The child of two members of the Companions guild, she had grown up with a sword in her hand. While Amelia liked to fight, she was just as happy with missions of intrigue or mysteries to solve, but Kireina was all about the battle. That being said, Amelia had rarely seen her angry. She fought with a restoration staff and was just as talented a healer as she was a fighter. Perhaps the combination of fighting and healing helped to keep her balanced—or maybe other factors contributed as well—because she was the most pleasant-spirited person Amelia knew.

Amelia went to the fireplace, where a metal pitcher warmed fresh coffee made with rich kaveh beans she had purchased in Wayrest. They didn’t have a lot of money to throw around, but they always splurged on their kaveh beans. She grabbed a mug, and using a rag so as not to burn her hand on the pitcher, she poured herself some of the hot brew and sat down next to the Nord. “You were gone for months,” she complained. “You don’t write, you don’t send flowers; I didn’t even know where you were.”

“I was in Hammerfell,” Kireina said with a Nordic accent, “escorting a dignitary to Sentinel. Then I spent a little time interacting with the local color, did a few missions for the captain of the guard.”

“Well, next time you’re going so far, leave me a note, okay? How was it in Hammerfell?”

“It was hot, and there was nothing to hunt except assassin beetles, snakes, and necromancers. What about you?”

Dale emerged from the bedroom, freshly cleaned and shaven and looking very handsome, and he came to Amelia’s side, where he took the coffee from her hand and took a sip.

“You want some?” she asked him. “There’s plenty.”

“Aye, thanks.” He grabbed a mug and poured himself some coffee. “Can I take your cup?”

“Of course. Just bring it back. You know how I am about that stuff. Dale Aresin, this is Kireina Skaarsgard.”

“Well met, Kireina. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“I’m afraid I can’t say the same, Captain, but I have a feeling I’m going to.”

Dale chuckled, then bent to kiss Amelia goodbye. “I’ll see you at the Lion later?”

“If not before. Have a good day.”

As soon as he was gone, Kireina said, “All right, spill it. What are you doing with the captain of the guard?”

“Quite a bit, actually,” she said with a wink. “But I have so much more to tell you.”

“What’s going on?”

Amelia told her the story of how she was taken from her bedroll and placed on an altar for sacrifice, and about how she was miraculously saved.

“You’re serious,” Kireina assumed finally.

“Oh, aye. Dale said they were probably Bloodthorns, a cult that worships Molag Bal.”

“Well, that can’t be a coincidence.”

“What?”

“I heard rumors while I was traveling about a plot to drag Nirn into Coldharbour, but I thought they were just that—rumors. I was told about Molag Bal cults that were summoning monstrous anchors—portals to Coldharbour—along with all sorts of Daedra. I never saw one, mind you, but the stories I heard were horrendous. But you weren’t sacrificed. You said someone saved you?”

Amelia shrugged. “I honestly don’t know what happened. One minute I’m lying on an altar, looking up at this elf who is about to stab me with a dagger, and the next I’m waking up in my own bed and Jakarn is standing at the bedroom door. He said I’d been unconscious for a couple of days and that when they pulled me out of the ocean, I was glowing.”

“Glowing!”

“He had to be making it up. But I think part of me actually believes it. I’ve been having dreams.”

“What kind of dreams?”

“Well, I guess they’re dreams. When I’m asleep, someone will tell me to trust them—trust her—and that she will guide me.”

“And do you?”

“I might trust her more if I knew who she was. Or maybe she’s just a figment of my imagination.”

Kireina grimaced at her. “What is it with you? You can’t just get into normal, everyday trouble. You have to go and get the attention of a Daedric Prince or something. Wasn’t there something a year or so ago with Nocturnal?”

“Oi, when I told her I wasn’t willing to pledge my soul to her, she left me completely alone.”

“Are you sure? Maybe this is her, still watching out for you.”

Amelia shook her head. “Nocturnal is more practical. She wouldn’t be so elusive. And this is not a Daedric Prince.”

“But how do you know? You were very lucky, suddenly disappearing from that altar.”

“Can we talk about something else, please?”

“Sure. I want to hear all about how you ended up in bed with Captain Aresin.”

“We met about a month ago when I stumbled upon a plot to assassinate King Casimir. It’s not serious, but it’s steady. He’s perfect: he’s a sweetheart, he’s gorgeous, and he’ll train with me.”

Kireina chuckled. “But it’s not serious.”

“Nah. He’s married to his job, and I travel too much to think about settling down. But I like him.”

“Serious or not, I’m happy for you. In this town, I’m not surprised about an assassination attempt. There is so much going on behind the scenes.”

“Do you know Roy? The one with the dog, Giblets. He was murdered, and I uncovered this scheme when I was investigating that. A group called the Bloodthorn Cult was behind it all.”

“You mentioned them before.”

“Aye, the assassination attempt was why Dale started wondering whether they were behind my abduction. We haven’t seen them since then, but something like that sticks with you.” She smiled sadly. “Poor Dale. He’s a practical man, and the thought that an evil cult had tried to sacrifice me to Molag Bal didn’t set well with him.”

“I’m afraid to ask if anything else has happened while I was gone.”

“Isn’t that enough?”

“More than enough.”

Amelia finished her coffee and said, “I think I’ll go train with him after all. Wanna come?”

Kirena shook her head. “I had a busy night and need some rest. I haven’t been to bed yet.”

“Are you sticking around for a while?”

“Aye, I don’t have anything else right now. I hunted last night, so I’m content to stay home for now. Let’s go to the Rosy Lion for a pint later.”

Amelia kissed her friend on the forehead and went to dress.

She arrived at the castle training yard an hour later, but Dale wasn’t around. One of the guards directed her to his post on the castle wall, where she found him in a heated discussion with a guard. When he saw her, he called her over.

“Hey. You want a job?”

“Sure, what do you have?”

“We’re undermanned at the moment, and I need help with something just outside of town. It’s a two-person job, so feel free to ask your friend if she wants to tag along.”

It was spring in Glenumbra, and with the warming weather came what Dale liked to call “bandit season.” The Red Rook bandits had grown bolder of late and had taken a local resident and his family hostage in their own home. Dale sent Amelia and Kirena to take care of the problem.

The women met with Captain Farlivere, who was set up half a mile outside the grounds of Noellaume Manor, a few miles northeast of Daggerfall.

“The biggest problem we have at the moment is the wolves,” the captain told them. “The Red Rooks use trained wolves to guard their camp. It increases their confidence, I guess, but it also makes them careless.”

She handed Amelia a sack full of foliage. “This is wolf’s woe. I need you to infiltrate the camp and get into the manor, then give this to Lord Arcady Noellaume and his family. The plant will mask their scents, and they should be able to walk past the wolves and get out of the area. Bring them to me if you can. Once you’ve taken care of the wolves and released the hostages, we can charge in and take out the bandits.”

“Anything else we need to know?” Kireina asked.

“Always is.” She picked up a knapsack from nearby and handed it to the Nord. “They’ve probably locked the house, so you’ll have to find the key, which is probably on the chief or in his tent. Captain Aresin says you’re good at subterfuge, Amelia. Inside that sack are two Red Rook uniforms, which you can use to sneak past the bandits.”

“Can’t we just fight our way through?” Kireina wondered.

Farlivere shook her head. “There are too many for two of you.”

Kireina raised one eyebrow, but Farlivere ignored it.

“Look, just sneak through, get the key, and rescue the hostages. Kill anyone who tries to stop you, but try not to cause too much of a ruckus.”

“No, these are great,” said Amelia, taking the knapsack from Kireina and pulling out the disguises. “Don’t worry, Kireina. I’m sure there will be some Red Rooks for you to kill.”

“I can always hope,” she replied with a chuckle.

Amelia and Kireina went behind a shrub and changed into the disguises, then left their armor with the captain and set out toward the camp, Kireina grumbling about the lack of protection the disguises provided. They held some protective magic, but they probably wouldn’t stand up to a sword to the belly. They walked through like they owned the place, and though a few of the bandits gave them suspicious glances, no one stopped them. They finally had to fight when they reached the chief’s tent. A vicious-looking orc stood just outside the doorway, arms folded, talking to a burly Nord. There was no way past them.

“Yes!” Kireina whispered triumphantly.

Ch 4 - Amelia with LockboxThey drew their weapons and snuck up on the bandits as best they could, but Kireina wasn’t stealthy—and didn’t care to be—and they were easily discovered. Amelia took the orc, casting a Petrify spell on him first. The spell immobilized him momentarily, and she was able to get in a couple of good strikes with her twin swords before he came out of it and swung his heavy warhammer at her. She narrowly dodged a devastating blow to the head, darting in to make two deep slashes across his midsection. With an “oof” and a spray of blood, he collapsed to his knees, but he still swung the hammer at her. With a wave of her hand and a whispered incantation, she cast a Lava Whip at him, essentially burning off the top of his head. Finally, he fell the ground and died. Amelia turned just in time to see Kireina decapitate the Nord.

Her friend growled with vigor as the head flew and blood gushed all over her. “That’s what I needed!” she exclaimed.

“I’m happy for you, but keep your voice down. The captain was right: there are too many Red Rooks to take down ourselves, so just hush.”

“Oi, you’re ruining all my fun,” Kireina teased.

Amelia and Kireina checked the bandits’ pockets for a key, but there was none. When they searched the tent, however, Amelia found it in a lockbox on a table. “Let’s get inside,” she said.

They crossed the yard, stopping to fight one of the troop’s trained wolves, an altercation that left Kireina panting with a wild look in her eyes.

“Keep it together, Reina,” Amelia warned her.

“I’m all right. I guess the wolf’s woe wasn’t strong enough to mask my scent, huh?”

“I’m surprised it attacked; it was probably terrified of you. Gods, I’m terrified of you.”

They entered the house and killed the bandit that was on guard, then went downstairs to find the Noellaume family tied up in the basement. They untied the hostages, a few of whom bad been pretty badly beaten, and Kireina applied her healing magic. Amelia marveled at the look of serenity that came over the face of the woman who was still covered in the blood of her last opponent. They distributed the wolf’s woe, then escorted them out the back way, past the wolves and traps, and to the road where Captain Farlivere and the other guards waited.

“Anything you can tell us about the bandits?” the captain asked Lord Noellaume.

“Yes, yes. I’m glad to help! I would have fought the fiends myself, but they surprised us.”

“It was better letting us do the dirty work, my lord.”

“Some of them came in by boat, but I think they’re mainly operating out of Ilessan Tower. Most of them seemed to be here on the grounds, but I overheard a couple of them talking about it. They mentioned that a few stayed back at the tower to stand guard.”

Farlivere turned to Amelia and Kireina. “We’ll charge in here and retake the grounds. You two go to Ilessan Tower and clear it out. Report back to me when you’re done.”

Maintaining the disguises but taking their armor with them, the women made their way to the tower, which was just outside of Daggerfall. The above-ground portion of the tower, which was all that was left standing of an old fort, was in ruins. However, a trap door led to a lower level that was still intact. It was a good hideout for bandits, and though Amelia had never been there, she knew the city guards had to clear the tower most every spring.

They stashed their armor in a nook at the rear of the tower, and Kireina carefully opened the trap door. Noellaume had been right; there were only a few Red Rooks present, and thanks to the disguises, most of them let the women walk right up before realizing they weren’t supposed to be there. They cleared out the tower in about an hour, then checked for loot and anything of interest. Amelia found just such an item on a crate near a cookfire. It was a letter with some startling news.

B-
Loot as much as you can from Ilessan Tower. We need resources to take to the Bloodthorns. We will be in control of Noellaume Manor by the time you’re done. Flank the Daggerfall guards when you get there.
-T

“Sweet Mara, the Red Rooks are working with the Bloodthorns!” Amelia gasped.

“Better take that to the captain.”

“You’re right. Let’s get out of here.”

They left the tower and changed back into their own armor, then reported to Captain Farlivere. When she released them, they headed back to town.

They passed a beggar Amelia often gave money to on the way in. She didn’t know his name, but she always spoke, even when she didn’t have any coin to give him. She said hello and started to walk away, but he grabbed her arm.

“Please,” he said, “I need your help.”

“I’m sorry, friend. I don’t have anything on me at the moment.”

“No, no, it’s not the coin; I need something else. You’re the one who stopped the assassination plot, right?”

She nodded. “What can I help you with?”

“There are murders. Somebody—something—is killing Daggerfall’s poor.”

Kireina cocked her head to the side like a curious puppy. “Go on,” she prodded.

“The guards won’t help. They figure it’s just one more bum off the streets.”

That made Amelia angry. It wasn’t just Dale; she considered many of the town guards her friends. If they were neglecting the poor for any reason, she was going to be very put out. “Who did you talk to?” she asked the beggar with an edge to her voice.

“Lieutenant DuBois. He didn’t say those exact words, you understand. He just implied that he had more important things to worry about. He said it was probably exposure or starvation that killed them, but Red, these people were torn to pieces. When I told him that, he said it was probably just an animal attack.”

“How many?”

“Three, so far.”

“We’ll look into it,” she promised.

“You might start with the alleyways. That’s where all the murders took place.”

“I want to talk to Lieutenant DuBois first, and then we’ll check the alleys.”

They said goodbye to the beggar and went to the town square, where Michel DuBois normally stood watch. He was good looking, mid-thirties, with blond hair and blue eyes. He usually had a smug expression on his face, but after getting to know him, Amelia knew he was actually a nice guy. He just looked like an ass.

“Well met, Red,” he said when they approached. He noticed Amelia’s grim expression and said, “What’s wrong?”

“I just heard some local beggars have been murdered.”

DuBois sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. “They haven’t been murdered, Red. That guy isn’t right in the head, and he’s just making up stories.”

“So three of them weren’t torn to pieces? Did you even investigate?”

“I didn’t think it was necessary.”

“Michel, just because he’s homeless doesn’t mean he’s crazy. You should have checked up on this.”

With a glare, he said, “Are you telling me my job? I report to your boyfriend, not to you.”

“Then I’ll go to him.”

She walked away before he could respond and went to Dale, who was standing at his post as usual.

He gave an exasperated sigh he saw her. “You’re covered in blood again, Amelia.” He glanced over at Kireina. “Every time I see her, she’s covered in blood.”

“Doesn’t surprise me.”

“Are the two of you all right?”

“Most of it isn’t mine,” Amelia assured him. “I’m all right, and Kireina wasn’t injured at all. We rescued the Noellaume family and helped clear out the bandits, and we found this in Ilessan Tower.” She handed him the note, and he groaned.

“Bloodthorns. Damn it! Thanks for bringing this to me. We’ll get right on it.”

Amelia crossed her arms and stared at him.

“What is it? Something else?”

“Do you know about the murders?”

“Which ones?”

“‘Which ones’?”

“It’s a big city, Amelia.”

“I’m talking about the poor. Three homeless people were ripped apart.”

“Right, they were animal attacks.”

“How can you be sure? DuBois said you didn’t even look into it.”

“Because they were animal attacks. I thought it was pretty clear. The countryside is crawling with wolves. One of them probably snuck in at night.”

“Into a city full of people?” Kireina countered. “That’s highly unlikely. Wolves are shy. Feral or not, they’re going to avoid large concentrations of people.”

Amelia shook her head. “Dale, you can’t just let this go.”

“Amelia, you know we’re stretched thin. I can’t afford to sacrifice the manpower to check into something involving a bunch of vagrants who were obviously attacked by wolves. Shy or not!”

Amelia’s blood boiled, and she recoiled as if he’d slapped her. “‘A bunch of vagrants’? I can’t believe you actually said that! You know I’ve lived on the streets. Am I a vagrant?”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”

“Gods damnit, Dale, that’s what the guard is for!”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

She merely glared at him.

“Fine, fine. Check into it, but I think you’re going to come to the same conclusion as we did. If you actually find anything, I’ll see to it that you’re compensated.”

“Don’t worry about it. We’ll do this one at no charge.”

“Why are you so upset?”

“They might be homeless, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless. If you ever talked to them, you’d know that. They’re down on their luck, but they deserve the same respect as your fine, upstanding citizens, and you and Michel are both telling me they’re not worth your time. Which means if I was living on the streets, I wouldn’t be worth it.”

“Amelia, you don’t understand. You don’t stand up here and watch the city every day, and you don’t see what I do.”

“No, I most definitely do not, and maybe that’s a good thing. Look, I have to go. I want to find out what’s going on here as soon as I can.”

“Will I at least see you later so we can talk about this?” he asked plaintively.

“I don’t know. You’re not the person I thought you were, Dale. I need time to think. I’ll at least let you know what we turn up, though.” She turned her back and walked away.

“Amelia!”

But she didn’t turn around. She just kept going.

Kireina followed behind her, and when she caught up, she said, “Well, that went well.”

“‘A bunch of vagrants!’”

“I don’t think he meant anything by it.”

“That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? He didn’t think about what he was saying because he has no consideration for them. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Let’s take a look at the alleys, okay?”

“Right with you.”

They started with the alleys on the south side of town and found a crime scene almost immediately. Someone had taken the body away, but blood was spattered all over the ground and the back wall of a house. Kireina sniffed around while Amelia took a closer look, and then they compared notes.

“I found some hair and a few pieces of clothing next to the wall,” said Amelia. “Without a body to examine it’s hard to say, but I think our friend may have been right about them being ripped apart.”

“There are two scents,” Kireina noted, “one of the victim and one that’s . . . disturbing. And it’s not a wolf. I just hope I’m wrong about what it is.”

“What do you think it is?”

A man and a woman were seated on the ground nearby, surrounded by some bags and a few odds and ends, and before Kireina could answer Amelia, the man called them over.

“Take care,” he warned. “A vicious monster stalks these alleyways.”

“Why are you back here, then?” Amelia asked.

“This is where we live,” he replied defensively.

“It’s been attacking mostly at night,” the woman told them.

“What kind of monster?” asked Kireina apprehensively.

“We haven’t seen it. None have seen it and lived.”

They went on and searched some of Daggerfall’s other alleys, and they found another bloody scene on the west side. There was more shredded clothing, and Amelia found several small bones, probably from a hand or foot.

Just around the corner from the scene, a man called them over. “You’re investigating, aye? Word travels fast.”

“Aye, we are,” said Amelia. “Anything you can tell us?”

“It’s a werewolf.”

“Damn it!” Kireina exclaimed. “I was afraid you were going to say that.”

“Terrible things are going on here, right under the city guard’s noses, and they do nothing. Necromancers are prowling the streets, those terrible green vines are cropping up all over, and now a werewolf stalks the poor.”

“What do the vines have to do with it?” asked Amelia.

“The vines belong to the Bloodthorn Cult, didn’t you know? Wherever the vines appear, the Bloodthorns aren’t far away.”

“They’re still in the city? How do you know that?”

He gave her a sly smile. “Nobody pays attention to the homeless. We’re invisible. That means we can listen. We know more about what goes on in this city than anyone because nobody pays us any mind.”

“But what makes you think it’s a werewolf?” Kireina demanded.

“Mariah the Invisible saw it. Seven feet tall, covered in fur, long, sharp claws and fangs. It was last seen over by the river; that was a couple of days ago.”

“A werewolf. In my city!”

Your city?” the man echoed. “What do you mean?”

“Just that we feel responsible for the welfare of the residents here,” Amelia said quickly. “Rest assured, friend, we’ll take care of it.”

They left the man on the corner and headed toward the river, Kireina seething. This was one of the few times Amelia had ever seen her angry, and she was trembling and red-faced. “A fucking werewolf in Daggerfall. Who does he think he is?”

“He’s a smart one too. He’s only targeting the homeless, whom few people will miss, if any. I wonder if he’s associated with the Bloodthorns or if it’s just coincidence.”

“I don’t believe in coincidence. Look, you can tag along, Red, but if we find this werewolf, he’s mine. Daggerfall is only big enough for one of us.”

“Understood. Do you think he knew you lived here?”

“My scent is all over town; I even marked the outer walls and city gates. He knew.”

They searched the riverbank, and although they found some tracks that Kireina said certainly belonged to a werewolf, they didn’t find the creature himself. Craning her neck and sniffing, Kireina began tracking the beast. She lost his scent when it went into the water, but she found it again on the other side of the river. It led under the bridge and to a sewer grate with several bars ripped off.

“How did the guards not see that?” Kireina grumbled.

“It’s out of the way. He broke the grate just next to the bridge where nobody ever goes, and he was able to slip in and out as he pleased.”

“Well, no more.” She squeezed through the opening and into the tunnel, which opened onto a stream a few feet outside the wall, and Kireina continued to follow the scent. She didn’t find the creature, but she found the man, sitting by a cookfire at a camp hidden in the woods about a mile out of town.

Ch 4 - Werewolf FightThe werewolf recognized Kireina by her scent, and with a snarl, he began to shift to his beast form, as did Kireina. With the ripping of clothing, the crunch of bone and the squish of flesh, the pretty Nord changed into a monstrous beast. Amelia had seen her friend shift twice before, and it always gave her chills. Kireina wasn’t small by any means, but the change in size was astonishing, and she radiated sheer rage. The presence of the slavering monster—even though it was her best friend—terrified her. After all, werewolves couldn’t always control their impulses, and she couldn’t be sure she wasn’t in any danger.

Resting her hands on her swords, she took several steps back and watched in horror as Kireina charged the other werewolf, roaring with fury and then laughing maniacally as she tore him to pieces. He shifted back to human form as he perished, and Amelia tried not to watch as Kireina ripped into his chest, yanked out his heart, and ate it. Finally, panting and drenched in blood, her friend looked over at her. “I’ll be back,” she growled, and she loped off toward the river.

Amelia figured Kireina was cleaning up, so she sat down with her back to a nearby tree and waited, staring at the werewolf’s tattered body. She was still spattered with blood, herself; she could probably do with a bath too. But she would wait till she got home rather than bathe in the river. Deciding she should inspect the camp, she got up and went over, stepping around the blood and gore as best she could. The search was successful, and she recovered a few pieces of jewelry and a letter.

L-
Your infiltration into Daggerfall has been noticed, and you are instructed to take more care with your hunt. You are there to gather information, not slaughter the locals. If you cannot maintain better control, we will remove you and send someone else in.
Hail Faolchu and Angof
-T

Angof. So it was the Bloodthorns, and this werewolf was a spy. He just couldn’t control his impulse to kill.

It occurred to Amelia that the Bloodthorns were arrogant, writing letters to each other and keeping them out in the open as if they couldn’t imagine anyone possibly opposing them. They weren’t afraid, and they weren’t subtle. Well, that was fine. It would just make her job easier.

After a few minutes, Kireina came loping back, clean and wet. When she reached the camp, she shifted back to her human form and stood before Amelia, stark naked, with a smile on her face.

“Good thing we kept those Red Rook uniforms,” she quipped. “Can’t very well head back to town with no clothes on.”

“You smell like a wet dog.” Eying her up and down, she added, “But you look pretty good, though.”

“Sweet talker. I probably should have shifted back before I jumped in the river.”

“Are you okay?”

“Of course. Got to blow off steam, got to feed; I’m one happy werewolf. Of course, I need new armor—again—but I’m used to that.”

“Well, it scared the crap out of me.”

“I’m sorry about that. I wouldn’t hurt you; surely you know that.”

“What if you had lost control?”

Kireina shook her head as she rummaged through the knapsack for a Red Rook uniform. “A werewolf who can’t control her impulses isn’t a very good werewolf.”

“Apparently this guy couldn’t.” She read the note to her friend.

“Uh-huh, and it got him killed. Bad werewolf. No biscuit.” She looked at Amelia pensively. “I wonder who Angof and Faolchu are.”

“Angof is associated with the Bloodthorns, but I don’t know of anyone named Faolchu.”

“Ancient lore speaks of a sort of werewolf king named Faolchu from the time of the Ayleids, but if he really existed at all, he’s long dead.”

“We’ll have to keep our eyes and ears open. Let’s get back to town, tell Dale what we found, and remind him that he needs to take the poor more seriously.”

“Are you going to make up with him?”

“I don’t know,” she confessed.

The sun had set by the time they walked through the gates of Daggerfall, and Amelia sighed with satisfaction. At least for now, the homeless didn’t have to fear the night, and she was glad about that. But the Bloodthorns wouldn’t let it stay that way for long. The werewolves, the vines, the assassination attempt—and she couldn’t forget what the beggar had said about necromancers. And they all worshiped Molag Bal. With that thought, the satisfaction melted away and anxiety set in. Worrying was a waste of energy, though, so she strengthened her resolve to do whatever it took to stop the Bloodthorn Cult and the Daedric Prince.

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