Nocturnal - Part VI

They were sneaking along the corridor towards the citadel door when they heard the shouting from the balcony two floors up. The Dremora had obviously found the empty chains where Cyndil should have been and raised the alarm.

"Stay calm, they haven't detected us yet," Clark whispered. "We're nearly at the door, and if we can just..."

But two fully armored Dremora were now standing in front of the door, effectively blocking the way out. "Now we do it my way after all," Cyndil said, and pulled an arrow from her quiver. Shooting with chameleon in effect gave her the chance to pick her shot deliberately, and the arrow thumped into the Dremora's shoulder and spun him around. His colleague had no idea from which direction the arrow came, and he looked around frantically, wondering where the attackers were. As his back turned on her, Cyndil loosed her second arrow into the back of his head.

The first guard was struggling to his feet, badly weakened by the health damage effect on the arrow, but not yet finished. Clark's sword slipped betwen the plates of his armor before he could see anyone coming.

The commotion in the doorway, and the opening of the great door told all the guards where they were, and a throng of Dremora rushed out of the Tower.

"Now they're gone, why don't we release a few more prisoners?" Minx asked. "We have a little time before they notice we're not out there, and I think we could use the distraction."

The cages weren't hard for a skilled lock-picker like Minx. The caged prisoners all had spells they could cast. That was why they'd been caged, instead of just being chained to the walls. Minx was unsure if releasing the Dremora woman was a good idea, not knowing where her loyalties lay, but she ran towards the door with a shock spell beginning to crackle in her hand. The Breton paused to cast shield on himself before running after her.

"They may not have much of a chance against armored men, but it's more than they had in the cages," Minx reassured them.

"Still, we should help." Cyndil wanted at least the chance of getting her revenge. She might not recognize her two tormenters in their armor, but if they were all dead, that wouldn't matter.

The three followed the prisoners out of the door. Without any armor of their own, they were using hit-and-run tactics against the slower guards, and the fire tower was adding its own random element, shooting fireballs at where they once were, and hitting anyone who got in the way. The faster prisoners could dodge better than the guards, and the battle was not as unbalanced as it should have been.

Cyndil's fast bow added to the guards' peril, although she had to be careful not to hit any wrong targets herself. Clark and Minx, still invisible, guarded Cyndil from any Dremora who might deduce her position.

When all the guards were dead, only the Dremora woman remained alive of the three prisoners they'd released. Clark healed her wounds, and she went back into the tower to try and rescue her sister Dremora from the scamps.

Although Clark had been able to heal Cyndil enough to get her back to Evergloam, Nocturnal still had work to do. She asked the Bosmer if she wanted to be able to forget her treatment by the Dremora, but Cyndil declined.

"Nothing happened to me that I didn't expect when I went into the gate. I knew I could get killed or captured. Maybe I wasn't expecting a resurrection, but that's not the worst part. And I need to remember why I hate Mehrunes Dagon and his minions."

"You'll not get much opportunity to act on that, now that Tamriel is closed off from the Deadlands," Clark told her. Of course, Cyndil hadn't known about Martin's defeat of Dagon at the Temple of the One.

"That might account for his bad mood when he threw me to the tender mercies of the Dremora," she muttered. "I'm suprised he brought me back at all."

"The Dremora you despise may have been responsible for that," Nocturnal told her. "They have a strange sense of honor, and respect an opponent who's shown strength and skill against them. They probably petitioned Dagon on your behalf."

Cyndil thought back to her restoration. She remembered being helped, lifted even, from a pool of some sort of liquid. There were several naked Dremora men there, dripping as if they'd just come out of the same pool. One of them had been speaking to Dagon, and pointing at her, when the Daedric Prince had interrupted him and spoken directly to her.

He'd made her an offer she could easily refuse, and in disgust at her reply, he told the Dremora to take her away "and do whatever you want with her."

They had her chained to the wall before she could get enough of her strength back to resist. "It could have been worse. At least they put me high enough up that the scamps couldn't reach. Their own women don't get that much respect."

"And I blame my own bad planning, as much as the Dremora. I didn't take enough soul gems to keep the bow charged, nor a decent back-up weapon. I wasn't prepared for the traps, especially the mines and fire towers. Having the Lord for a birthsign doesn't suit you for those. When the spider daedra ambushed me at the blood well, I was already too weak, and with the bow exhausted ..."

"It was fully charged when we found it," Clark objected.

"That can happen," Nocturnal corrected him. "It was close to a blood well, and the magicka that feeds those can spill over. It was there for quite some time, so it would only take a trickle."

"You rely heavily on that bow, don't you?" she asked Cyndil. "I was originally intending to reclaim it, but I think it will be best if it stays with you. I still believe I judged you well, when I gave it to you in the first place. If you hadn't missed the door to the cave, you'd probably have closed the gate you entered."

Minx agreed that the cave door was easy to pass by without noticing. "We were looking for it, because you'd told us it was there. Cyndil had no way to know of its existence. And if she'd found it, she'd never have gone near those mines."

Cyndil was pleased about keeping the bow, but she wasn't at all clear what to do next. She hadn't made any plans past the Oblivion Crisis. "What's it like in Morrowind now?" she asked.

"That's something I'd like to know, too," Clark replied. "I have contacts in Helseth's court in Mournhold, but they haven't told me much so far. Had Ald'ruhn fallen already when you entered the gate? That's the only major news we've heard in Cyrodiil. There is conflict between the great houses, and border disputes with Skyrim, but that's nothing new."

Cyndil had known about Ald'ruhn. That had been one of the reasons to become involved. She'd had friends in that city. Another gate had opened in the countryside on the mainland, close to the road she was on. "I don't even remember where it was, now. I was travelling from Narsis, headed towards Blacklight, but that's a long way, and much of it's forest trails without any landmarks. I just saw the gate, remembered what I'd heard about Ald'ruhn, and decided on the spot to try and do something."

"Do you have unfinished business in Blacklight?" Clark asked her.

"No, it was just somewhere I hadn't seen yet. I was quite likely to get distracted by some adventure along the way, and never get there."

"Then I think you should stay a little longer here in Evergloam before you go adventuring again," Nocturnal said firmly. "Clark may have healed you physically, but he doesn't have strong enough telepathy to know if your mind was affected by the ordeal you went through. I do, and I can help you let the pain come to the surface and be dealt with. I don't want Sheogorath taking you from me!"