Chapter 10 – The Price of Success
Part 1: Predator & Prey
Despite her uneasy feeling after that morning with Celeste, Ienarath eventually was able to put it behind her. It wasn’t long after, as Celeste had said, that The Caller came to visit Ienarath.
“Caller,” said Ienarath as she quickly put down one of the books she had recently discovered in the library. It was titled 'Mythic Dawn Commentaries, Volume 1' and she found it fascinating. She wondered how many volumes there were, as the book gave no real indication. The other was ‘Ancestors and the Dunmer’ and was the first tome that she had ever come across that was specific to the Dunmer.
“Ienarath. You have proven yourself capable, and I bestow upon you the title of Adept. With this advancement, you are no longer bound to your mentors. Furthermore, you shall be eligible for assignment. And your first assignment is to bring us new test subjects. I expect new subjects in the lower levels in two weeks time.” And without another word, The Caller turned and left. Ienarath immediately began to prepare.
Five days later, Andromeda, looked at her in surprise and asked, “You’re still here?! By the Eight, girl, you need to get going! Time is running out!”
Ienarath smiled, “yes, I know, but it’s not like I’ve been idle this whole time. I’ve been studying the region, and crafting potions to take with. After all, what good would it do for me to simply charge out without a plan? I’d end up wasting more time and in the end, be lucky if I had attracted even one subject.
"But, I do believe you’re right, it is in fact, time to go.” And with that, she packed the remainder of her things and headed out.
She spent the next two days scouting the area in accordance with the the reading she had done. It wasn’t long before she soon discovered a small band of men that seemed right for the picking.
They came across as bandits, or at least that was their intent, but Ienarath saw straight through them. They were inexperienced and foolhardy. Ienarath studied them for half a day and decided that perhaps a bit of charm would be the best weapon. She dug through her bag until she found a simple and somewhat revealing dress and put it on. She then coated the inside of a knife scabbard with a paralyzing potion, fitting the knife in afterwards. Strapping the knife to her calf, she mentally prepared a few spells, and then feeling ready, walked out onto the road and towards the men.
“Hey darling!” Shouted one of the men when she came into view. “You look lost. Maybe we can help.”
“Oh, my,” began Ienarath, “I most certainly am! I’m looking for Riverwood, but I’ve lost our map. My sister and I have been travelling for days now, is it close?”
“Riverwood?” Asked another, his voice full of disbelief. “Er, I mean, yeah, just a few hours that way,” he continued as a third man jabbed him in the ribs.
“Yeah, sweetheart," the fourth man interjected, "we’d be happy to escort you, and ah, your sister. It’s dangerous being out on your own, you know. I mean, the wilds can be difficult for even us with travelling experience, let alone a couple of defenseless women. So, where is this sister of yours anyhow?”
“My sister and me, we were going to Riverwood, like I said, but when our guide went out hunting and didn’t return, well, we didn’t know what to do, so we just started walking.
“But she’s come down with a fever," Ienarath continued, "just the day before yesterday. Luckily, we were near an abandoned ruin, so we’ve been hiding there until she is well enough to travel again. I was out looking for berries, or something, to help her feel better, but really, I just don’t know what to look for.” At this point, the men began looking at each other with broad grins. Ienarath, in the meantime, had covered her face with her hands and quickly worked up some tears. Then looking up with fake tears beginning to roll down her cheeks, she pleaded with the men. “Oh, please, will you come back with me and help my sister? It’s only about a half a day’s walk from here. We have gold.”
The men could hardly believe their luck and began to think of gold and two beautiful maidens.
“It’d be our pleasure ma’am,” the second man answered. “But we should get going if we want to make it by sunset.”
And so the four men and Ienarath set out; to Fellglow Keep.
As the sun began to set, they came upon Fellglow. “There it is!” Exclaimed Ienarath, “quickly, my sister is just inside!” Ienarath began to run as they neared the front entry and was able to put some distance between herself the the men. She then faked tripping and fell to the ground, positioning herself as she did so that she could get at her knife easily. One of the men ran to catch up with her and leaned over to help her. As he did, another came up behind him and stood at his side. The remaining two men were still several paces behind, apparently not concerned about catching up with Ienarath or their companions.
As he extended his hand, Ienarath quickly drew the blade and slashed him across the arm, and with one fluid motion, reversed direction and cut the second man on the calf with the back edge of the knife. The poison that the blade had been soaking in all day quickly took effect and the two men fell to the ground, unable to move. Ienarath then threw the knife aside and cast a frost spell towards the other two.
One of the men took the spell full on and after only a few seconds, fell to the ground, gasping and shaking uncontrollably. The last man standing rushed Ienarath, but she was able to divert her frost spell in time and focus it on him. The spell hit him like a hammer and he slowed immediately. He had never in his life felt a cold like this before, and as hard as he tried to push through the burning cold, he simply could not get his limbs to respond, and then, like the first, he collapsed.
The whole event was over almost as quickly as it had started. Ienarath retrieved her knife, reapplied her paralyzing potion and cut each of the men with it before they could regain their strength. Satisfied that they could not escape, she ran to the Keep and called for assistance.