We gathered around the table and poured the drinks. The Redgaurd introduced himself as Camaroc Rozba. “I was a Guard in the town of Battle Edge in Hammerfell. A baby was taken from it’s basket while his mother worked at her stall selling silks.” He told us during the search for the baby he uncovered more children in the surrounding area had been snatched. These disappearances had never been seen as a pattern until he noticed they happened around the same time every year. After a month of searching for the babe all leads went cold. He was told to close the case. He couldn’t let it go. There were too many loose ends and unanswered questions. He resigned his position and continued the investigation on his own. He had dug up more than enough proof that slavers were active. His local Lords in Hammerfell thought his evidence was a patchwork of old fears despite overwhelming evidence and a clear pattern in the abductions. The behavior of the lords seemed suspicious.They were too eager to have this matter put to rest. His goal was not only to put these baby snatchers in the dirt, but to get one of these scumbags to give him some hard evidence on anyone in government taking bribes to look the other way.
He chased the ringleader all the way here to Rootfalls. He was in this part of the marsh looking for his hide out when he was waylaid by the Gristleback.
Hjorg was inspecting what I had gathered so far. He complimented my catches. This is excellent for an apprentice he said. “Even though it is a bit reckless we didn’t Mark this area off limits. You’re not breaking any rules.There are three days left to go who knows what may happen.” I laughed and said quite enough has happened already. I stepped away from the party and went to the shrine of Kynareth to tell her task had been fulfilled.
The lady spoke words of thanks and granted me a set of glass armor enchanted with stamina regeneration. She said one of the imperial girls, Estella, was to be her new shrine keeper. Whatever those filthy hagravens were up to hinged on weakening Kynareth’s power in this clearing.
Thank the divines we put an end to that. When I got back Sherba was admiring a staff she had taken from the Hagraven horde. Kelta was giving the Breton lessons on managing her Magicka in battle. My brother snuck off with the imperial ladies. Hjorg said he and the rest of the A.S.S crew would head out in the morning so my hunt wouldn’t be disqualified. He said If it were up to him I would graduate tomorrow. I may be a young fool, but a fool that was ready to follow my own destiny.
When my Brother crawled out from beneath the skirts of the imperial women he bid Estella a warm goodbye as she headed for the shrine of Kynareth. He promised he would make sure her friends got back to the Imperial City safely. I struck a bargain with my brother.I wouldn’t tell my mother about Estella, whom I’m sure he’ll be seeing more of, if he didn’t tell her where I’d gone to hunt till the contest was over. He agreed to these terms. He gave the Breton her first alchemy lessons the old fashioned way with mortar and pestle. The Breton and the rest of A.S.S were having conversations about radio waves,aetherius and all the stuff that leads to a wizards duel on a Loredas night. As I expected they asked her to come back with them and apply. She said she would just as soon as we killed all the baby snatchers. Kelta did test on her when Hjord claimed only a Nord Skald could sing a battle hymn like “We will rock you.” She was assured a place in Sovngarde for that alone. The test showed quite clearly she was a Breton. A Breton with the heart of a Nord Hjorg insisted. They grilled her about where she was from. They understood the strange principles that were in effect in her world in a way only wizards could.
I got out of there and went to check on Dre’abba before the spells started flying over something trivial. The Redgaurd was being as gentle as he could, questioning Dre’abba about being snatched. The clearing was beyond breathtaking under the moons. The cub was more interested in catching torchbugs and Luna moths than sitting still for questions.
Dre’abba described a ruined fort the swamp had reclaimed as the place he escaped from. He knew he had been moved at least four times before that. He described a Rootfalls guard shield and heard the name Mo-ha. My blood started to Boil. Mo-ha was a year older than me. He dropped out of the guild because he was arrogant and lazy. He put more than one novice in danger by bullying or tricking them into doing his work for him. Someone’s palm had to be greased to let that good for nothing thug be part of the town guard. I told my brother what we discovered. He said he knew the right people to ask about it. He could keep it under wraps. He made arrangements with the Redguard to pass the information later. He told me to be careful. We spent the rest of the night eating,singing and talking until we grew too tired to hold our eyes open.
The morning dawned and the wizards took charge of Dre’abba. Vah-roe said he would make sure Dre’abba’s parents stuck around for the Redguard to question when we returned. Vah-roe knew who to trust. The Rootfalls guard was not going to take corruption lightly in any level of government. These guys wouldn’t give the emperor himself a pass if they caught him stealing a sweet roll.
We geared up and followed the landmarks Dre’abba had given us. There were two dark elf guards outside. We took cover behind a small hill. The fort was sunken beneath marshy ground, but was solid enough to not be breached easily. Heavy footsteps fell behind us. Suddenly a large orc was towering over us. “I know you aren’t with them.” He said in a half whispered growl, crouching beside us. “Did you see a Kahjiit cub?” We told him Dre’abba had made it to safety, and reinforcements would surely be on their way. The orc introduced himself as Chief Lagor-bor-Kron. He told us the usable part of the fort was only four rooms. He drew the layout in the dirt. There were more than three dozen captives from all over tamriel. The hunting competition, and similar events were being used as distractions to take small children and stragglers. Sleeping spells, skooma and potions were being used to keep captives disoriented. The slaver’s had few guards, but the skilled wizards among them were formidable. The orc learned much about their plans while they thought he was asleep. The escape scuttled the plan to move half of the captives in three days. The thugs were on edge but in disarray. He revealed an underwater passageway that led into the fort that let out in a wine cellar. We had a good chance of taking them down. We were ready to make our move.