The fort guards were playing dice.They were paying no attention to their surroundings. It was easy enough to take them out from a distance without raising any alarm. The door was heavy and barred from the inside.Getting in wasn’t going to be as easy as storming the fort.
I found the crack in the foundation the Orc told us about. There was a way in but it was underwater. I took the risk of feeling it out. The passage wasn’t that long; it came out into a wine cellar. I reported back to my group and we made the swim. The Orc stuck close to the Breton. Her wizardry was novice level, however her skill was growing by leaps and bounds. The Redguard told us about the sunrise over the Abecean sea and the liveliness of the ports in Hammerfell at our feast last night. This description of his homeland had a romantic flare. I think he told it to enchant and entertain the ladies,after the bad news he had shared about baby snatchers. I got the impression he didn’t want us to think Hammerfell was all bad. Sailing,swimming, and deep sea fishing were pleasures any redguard born near the coast indulged in daily. We spent twenty minutes in the cellar scoping the place out. The Breton and the Orc raided the fine wines,cheeses,and stored alchemical ingredients. The Redgaurd and I disabled some traps laid on the staircase and we crept up.
The dark elf was in the kitchen area at the top of the staircase. “We have lost three guards and two slaves!” He yelled at a redguard subordinate. “We need to move our merchandise.” The merchandise he was referring to was everywhere in the kitchen. Raw moon sugar and skooma filled every shelf. “We can’t move the skooma and the slaves in the same caravan. It’s too risky.” The Redguard working for him shouted back. “ We can’t stay here any longer. Damn that little cub for getting
loose and that Orc! If we would have given him what he wanted, instead of trying to hold him captive we wouldn’t be in this mess!” The dark elf started hitting the redguard worker. “No one should have been anywhere near an orc stronghold! You morons thinking grabbing an orc chieftain’s son was a good idea has put years of silent running at risk!” The dark elf threw a chair. “We move towards the border of Morrowind at sunset.”
The dark elf and the lackey moved away from the kitchen to a large room. We snuck closer. The large room was filled with cages full of captives. I caught a glimpse of that rotten Mo-ha. He was taunting another Argonian in one of the cages. “When I get out of here Mo-ha I am going to skin you.”The voice belonged to Milo-Tus an underclassman from the Hunter’s guild. Other voices joined in Parties-his-tail-off,Gill-Woor, Strikes-with-fury,Riverbed-Diver,Tin-Ehm and several small children from my family’s own farmstead road. “I’m going to make you eat dog turds.” The small girl called Min-Kin said in a calm and chilling voice. I had no doubt she would make Mo-ha extremely sorry. The tiny argonian girl of 10 was sweet on the surface,but a master of cold revenge. My sister Jumps-the-fens found her first row boat full of barely visible pin holes in the middle of Purescale bay after she told Min-Kin she couldn’t go on an outing with her and some other teenagers. She even gave her some pocket money to buy sweets for herself and the other younger children. She promised to take them out on the lake another nice day.
Mo-ha had made an enemy of Black Marsh’s girl, voted most likely to become a notorious serial killer. I pondered whether we should leave her in the cage. We needed a distraction if we were going to release the prisoners. We needed eyes on the other guards so we didn’t get penned in when the fighting started. There were no good options from where we hid. A khajiit guard came into the room. He was orange with black patches and a long muzzle. There were black stripes on his tail,which was wagging vigorously. He was all hopped up on skooma. His amber eyes darted back and forth and he could barely concentrate on his task. He wore shoddy hide armor. He looked a bit mangey. “It is time for your medicine,be a good girl and drink it all up with your juice.” Min-Kin took the juice in one hand and grabbed his twitching tail with the other. She bit off the end in one chomp.The khajiit let out a yowl; Min-Kin skillfully poured the juice down his gullet. She grabbed his keys as he passed out from the sleeping draft. Mo-ha saw none of this; he didn’t have time to turn around. Min-Kin was loose from the cage. She had a wide,flat piece of bone she worked on sharpening against the stone for Akatosh knows how long. She had kept it hidden in her little apron pocket. From the looks of it, the bone was a shoulder blade of a former prisoner that had been in that cage for hundreds of years. She made herself a little cleaver. I was truly terrified of this kid. As silent as a shade on a moonless night, as swift as a deer she glided over to Mo-ha and chopped off all of the toes on his right foot. The blood pooled all over the floor. The expression on his face was one of shock and horror. All the other prisoners poured out of the cage and descended on Mo-ha. Gill-Woor finished the khajiit. Min-Kin retreated to the shadows and started unlocking cages. Mo-ha was barely left alive. The Redguard revealed himself. He told the mob in hushed tones he needed Mo-ha alive. Min-Kin slid down the hall and we heard barking dogs. She let them loose, I braced for an attack. The dogs were docile. She had been sneaking them bones and stale bits of bread every time one passed by the cage. The little psycho had been training them. Min-Kin made Mo-ha eat dog turds as Parties-his-tail-off and the Redguard threw Him into a cage for safe keeping. The Redguard beckoned for us to come out. No one had stirred at the Kahjiit’s yowl. Mo-ha didn’t have time to make any noise. He was bound,gagged, and locked in a cage with a mouth full of dog turds.
I didn’t like it. Where were the rest of them? We came out reluctantly. The orc scanned the groggy children, his eyes fixed on an orc boy younger than Min-Kin. The boy was nearly asleep on his feet from the effects of the sleeping draught. The Orc stepped forward,scooped up the boy,hugged him to his chest and let out a sigh of relief. He put him down and began to organize the other children into a group. Min-Kin stepped out of the shadows and gave me a fright. She took my hand and reverted to her sweet cheerful self, dogs at her side. “Hi Glen. Can we go home now?” “Soon sweetheart.” I told her. The orc chimed in “l will guard the children and get them out. You get the rest of the prisoners. Don’t let those fetchers get away.” Min-Kin squeezed my hand like any frightened child would, she didn’t want me to leave her. “This man is an Orc Chieftain. Do you know what that means?” Min-Kin nodded “He’s tough as a Steel plate.” “So are you.” I told her with a smile. She smiled back and let go of my hand. She started wiping the blood off her little cleaver with an old rag she found and patted one of the dogs on the head. She collected all of Mo-ha’s toes and put them in a pouch. “I’m going to make a necklace.” She said as if she had purchased shiney beads at the market. “That will be fun.” I said as if we were going to make paper boats to sail down the brook on a sunny summer day. I thought it was best not to antagonize her.
The Orc checked to see the kitchen and cellar were clear. He led the children down the stairs. I had drawn a crude map of the route I had taken from the village to file with the Hunter’s guild and gave it to the Orc.The map should make it back even if we didn’t. The rest of the adults shook off the cobwebs and grabbed whatever weapons we could find. The Redguard checked the narrow passage for traps and villains waiting to ambush us. There was no one. Where the oblivion were the other guards and the ring leader? Did they cut bait and run?
We went down the narrow passageway to the last room. There were more prisoners in cages against the walls. There was an alchemy station in one corner on the far wall and an arcane enchanter in the other corner. Various chest,gems and treasures littered the room. The barred door was in the middle,but it was wide open. We charged into the room before the mouthy wood elf Dre’abba mentioned could yell it was a trap. BOOm fire runes knocked us back. The Breton was screaming “Stop,drop and roll aaahahh!!” . She cast a healing spell and conjured a familiar to charge a head and trigger the rest of the traps. We thought it was safe to proceed when the Breton stepped on another one,lightning rune this time. She didn’t seem to receive much damage from that one. “Shock therapy, always fun.” She said. She sang another song about Electric avenue while we worked on getting the rest of the prisoners out of the cages. Some were near death. There were four who had already perished. The Redguard asked the prisoners where the rest of their captors went as we gathered up treasures and gave the fit weapons. The mouthy wood elf in scale armor pointed west as she sang with the Breton. The tune was easy to learn; and the wood elf was higher than a hippie on a helicopter. The Breton had some weird sayings. It seemed like she wasn’t entirely present in our world. Sheograth and Sanguine did send her. Perhaps hopping dimensions fractured your psyche a bit. That was another discussion for the A.S.S, and not for a humble hunter to worry about. The wood elf seemed to be the type to use skooma without being forcibly drugged. The sun was low, but a few hours from setting. We met up with the orc behind the rock where we had first met him.
A flood of parents rushed forth to hug their children. The slime ball slavers had posed as guards for hire to merchants.They abducted whole families when they could. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to fight Mo-ha myself. Min-Kin made short work of him. One less problem for me, I thought to myself. I was starting to enjoy the excitement of our adventure,not that I didn’t like my simple marsh life. I was charged up and itching for another battle after learning these slavers were operating in my town. The Rootfalls guard should be in Kynareth’s clearing soon. The Orc gathered the children,parents and the wounded. Those who had no skill in battle went with him to wait in the clearing for help. Parties-his-tail-off, Gill-Woor and Riverbed-diver decided to come with us. The mouthy wood elf, named Shinol Ivyrun was giving the Redguard an account of how she had been nabbed on the coast of Valenwood while she was attending a beach party. The Bosmer maiden could not be fully controlled by her kidnappers. She had the drug tolerance of a mammoth.The dark elf slaver had to move the forts attack dogs due to her ability to command animals. Relocating them did little good once Min-Kin had them in her thrall.
The Redguard rallied our group. He informed everyone we were to take the goons alive if we could. We headed off to the west hoping there would be enough daylight left when we found them. We raced through tangles and vines trying to beat the sunset. The wood elf took to the trees with her bow. The Breton kept the path well lit with candlelight. The Redguard and I checked for traps, beast, and quicksand out in front. A ruined tower barley came into view and we were surrounded by mages. Fire,Ice,Lightning and foul zombies were unleashed on all sides. The Breton began with oakflesh and WabbAJack! One of the four mages was transformed into a deer,SwooSH the Bosmer neatly felled him with one shot. The Redguard dismembered foul zombies to the left SliCe,SlaSH,CaRve. I BloCKed and SlaSHed to the right. I spied a blue glow out of the corner of my eye. HuM FizZ The Breton was using dragonskin to absorb the spells, and sling SpARKs right back at them. The Bosmer spotted the dark elf in the distance, and pinned his foot to the spot with an arrow ZinG THud. The Redguard cut through the last of the zombies and raced ahead. Parties-his-tail-off and Riverbed-diver were flanking the Breton. They used their shields to deflect the arrows of the redguard lacky atop the tower thwack ClaTter swish Ping. The Bosmer got a bead on him,but he was too quick. She leapt over a mage and made it inside the tower dodging ice spikes Whoosh cRaSh ShAtter. A giant porcupine came charging out of the brush “Take cover!” I yelled across the battlefield. Gill-woor, Parties-his-tail-off,and Riverbed-diver made a shield wall around the Breton. Ooowww! I got an arse full of quills and was convulsing on the ground from the electric charge, but so did the summoner I was fighting BuZz ZaP CraCkle. The Bosmer had managed to fight her way to the top of the tower. The three brutes inside were no match for her speed.ZooM SlinG DasH ThwINg SwOop ThUd. I watched her duel the lackey with daggers from the flat of my back waiting for the quills to stop arching SliCe ClinK StAb DodGe RoLl PlUnGe HaCk. I made it to my feet,but so did the summoner. I got a face full of frost FreEze. I poisoned my sword and got him on the arm. He retreated towards the tower. The Breton was mopping the floor with a mage armed with an ebony mace. She had him on the ground and was sitting on his chest. She was punching him viciously in the face yelling “That’s what it feels like when you open a can of whoop ass! Know your role Jabroni !” She turned him over onto his stomach grabbed his legs,contorted them so his spine was bending the wrong way and yelled “Sharp shooter!” She said something about the excellence of execution. Then screamed “Praise almighty Talos!” She was in a full on Nord battle frenzy as the mage was crying for his mother. Till this day I can’t decided whether it was the most disturbing thing I had ever witnessed, or it was the most glorious fight Talos ever blessed. I know in my bones it pleased all the heroes in Sovengarde. Ysgramore was looking down on us; and if I could have heard his voice he would have been yelling “Finish him!”
Parties-his-tail-off knocked the third mage down from behind with his shield as he ran to help his friend. He came down hard with a knee to the back. He went into a sitting position, grabbed the mages arms,hooked his arms over his knees and pulled up hard on his chin. Parties-his-tail-off leaned back hard bending his upper torso in half,while the shoulders and neck were strained. The Hist communicated to us this was a submission hold called the camel clutch. The mage’s eyes looked like they would pop out of their sockets any second. Parties-his-tail-off pulled his sword with one hand and finished the third mage. I gave chase to the fourth mage,but not before I saw the Breton leave the second mage writhing in agony on the ground, start climbing a tree, go out on a branch, dive off and crush the mage’s chest with her elbow. She got up from breaking the nearly dead mage’s sternum, and dispatched him using an ebony sword enchanted with Firey soul trap.
I sped up the tower after the last mage. She was getting the upper hand on the would elf. The lackey was recovering and preparing for a final attack on the cornered Bosmer. I used healing hands on the Bosmer. She sprung up with her daggers and filleted the last mage. I knocked the lackey to the floor. The wood elf found some rope,tied him up neatly and relieved him of his belongings. The Breton headed towards the Redguard. The Dark elf managed to unpin himself and flee further into the bog. The rest of us cleared the tower and looted all the treasure to be found. We followed the Breton. When we caught up we heard a cry “Azura.”. The dark elf had mired himself in quicksand. The Redguard made him promise to tell everything he knew about the slaver ring and corruption in Hammer fell before we pulled him out of the quicksand. We bound and secured him and went back for the other prisoners. There were voices in the distance the town guard had made it too Kynareth’s clearing. A portion of them were headed this way. We let them take charge of the prisoners and headed back to the clearing.
Recounting this part of the tale has wiped me out. I’m currently at Lakeview manor. I will have some mead with Rayya and go to sleep. The last part of this tale might be awhile. I’m having trouble with necromancers messing around in my yard.