Lathenil of Sunhold - part II

The reporter woke with a pounding in his head, on the bed inside the farmhouse. Freija was standing over him with a worried look on her face.

When his eyes could focus properly, he saw that most of the others were standing in a circle around the bed, looking on anxiously. The door opened and the Legion Patrolman came in.

"She's dead" he told them. "We'd have preferred to interrogate her, but she wasn't to be taken alive. And if we let her summon another of those Clannfears, we'd have had more casualties."

Nelrene followed him into the room, dressed in a fetching set of dark armor that she filled very nicely. She was casting a healing spell on herself as she put away her mace.

"Who was she?" the reporter asked, but nobody knew. Just some crazy witch who wanted to kill him, and nearly had.

He tried to get out of the bed, but a sharp pain in his leg stopped him.

"Wait until I've taken that arrow out" Freija advised him. The Patrolman looked a little embarassed when she mentioned the arrow, and ducked back outside. Freija beckoned Prizna and Nelrene, the largest of the women, over to help her.

Although being held down by those two was quite a pleasure, the reporter still passed out again when Freija pulled the arrow out.

"He's awake!" Meena called out cheerfully, and Freija came back in to see how he was doing. This time his head didn't hurt, and his leg didn't either.

Freija explained what she knew about the attack. She'd been passing between the farm and the Lodge when she saw the reporter approach, and started to walk towards him. The stranger had appeared from nowhere, and kissed him, and he'd fallen over paralyzed. Then she'd summoned a Clannfear to finish him off. Freija had cast her bound claymore and armor and run to intercept the Clannfear before it could reach him. The patrolman had come out of the farm, with Nelrene close behind, and they'd gone after the witch. When the Clannfear switched its attention to Nelrene, in defense of its mistress, she'd picked him up and carried him inside.

She didn't know when the arrow thing happened. It was all too quick, and there were spells and arrows flying everywhere for a time. She'd seen the witch afterwards, and there were a lot more arrows in her.

"Why did you let her kiss you like that? I've never seen anyone uglier."

The reporter assumed that she'd used an Illusion spell to make her look young and pretty. Clearly she'd known some powerful magic, if she could summon Clannfears. And he'd heard about people who could paralyze with a kiss. Had something to do with their birthsign, if he remembered correctly. Freija didn't think that it was just the Lover's power. His health had been damaged at the same time. More likely the Cobra's Dance.

Lathenil had warned him that the Thalmor might go after him too, but he didn't think it would have been that quickly. Still, if they'd had a second assassin ready for Lathenil, it wouldn't have been hard to divert her to a new target. His story was looking more plausible all the time. These Thalmor probably were a significant threat if you weren't on their side.

When he spoke with Tsarrina about Lathenil, she didn't seem to be worried. Another customer was always welcome, and the threat from the assassins might be over, anyway.

"We have an immortal Arena Champion, a Mazken guard, and a bear hunter here to look after us. Not to mention Maeva has Rockshatter back, and Sugar's handy with her axe. We'll do all right"

Tsarrina was forgetting Prizna, he reminded himself. She may walk around naked, and appear vulnerable because of that, but she hurls a mean shock spell when she wants to.

Not only that, but Lathenil was intending to travel here under invisibility. The Thalmor would probably never know he was here.

The reporter was attacked again between Anvil and Skingrad. He couldn't be sure if it was just a highwayman, or another assassin. This man wore heavy armor, which was unusual if he was a Bandit, but he swung an axe, which didn't fit the Marauder norm either. At least he saw him coming, and he'd just passed a Legion Patrol. He ran back up the road and alerted him, and together they subdued the Redguard.

There might have been another nearer the city. He passed an archer fleeing across the meadows from a Minotaur, firing arrows as she ran. He left them to their fun, and hurried on up the road, hoping he hadn't been noticed.

Taminwe had heard of the Thalmor. She described them as an insignificant faction that was fanatically racist. They wanted to send all foreigners back where they came from, and dreamed of recreating the civilisation of the Ayleids. She felt that their views were far too extreme to have any traction with the rest of the people, and they probably weren't a serious threat to the Empire.

But they'd still be a threat to any smaller group that opposed them, if general order broke down. The Daedric invasion had probably given them a chance to assert themselves more than usual, and they'd bear watching.

She'd heard of Rynandor the Bold, too. Another minor faction leader, but one with a practical and honest demeanor that meant he'd never amount to anything in politics. If Lathenil was in his group, at least they weren't anti-Empire, like many of the others. He was probably harmless, although she'd have preferred that he hadn't brought the Summerset Isle's squabbles to the mainland.

He didn't understand why he'd become the new target of the assassins. Taminwe had a theory. It was because he was a reporter. Lathenil's was a lone voice, and his tale of Rynandor's probable demise would likely go unheeded. An article in the Black Horse Courier would be seen everywhere, even in the Summerset Isle, and the Thalmor would presumably not like that.

Ocato had connections with the bureaucracy in the Summerset Isle that would give them some more information on Rynandor. Any banishment or exile had to be communicated through diplomatic channels. The other provinces didn't like criminals being dumped on them without notice, after all. Since Rynandor's trial had been public, the Thalmor could not have suppressed that notification without arousing suspicion. They might have intercepted his ship on the high seas, of course. She reminded him to be on the lookout for reports of piracy in the Abacean.

"If it weren't for those assassins chasing you, I'd have asked that you go to Leyawiin and Senchal, and see if the ship that brought Lathenil puts in at either of those ports. Now I think it would be better if someone else does that. I may even go there myself." Taminwe told him. "You should take another trip to Falkreath, and see what Uzgash has for you this time. See if she knows anything about Lathenil, Rynandor or the Thalmor."