Part 62 - Leet Daydrik Skillz

"Let me see those," Balimund said. "Nice pieces, but you're right about tempering them. Just a bit beyond my range. But I don't think Iona's going to need much more practice before she can do it for you. Did you notice how she's upgraded that sword of hers? She's done that every time she's been able, and Mjoll's too."

"I'd never really given that a thought," Iona replied. "I just wanted a set of ebony armour, and that's all I was aiming to achieve. But you're right, I ought to see if I can do anything more for Chillrend and Grimsever. Do you have any Malachite?"

Clark did, and Iona could, confirming that her skill was going up. Now both swords were even sharper and more durable than before. "So see if you can do anything with these," Clark asked.

"Are these ebony? They look more like steel."

"I'm not sure, but you'll need some ebony to improve them, so I kept a couple of ingots aside, just in case."

"I'll try, but no promises."

Balimund watched as Iona sat at the grindstone and started work. He'd taught her all he knew, and he hoped his star pupil could take the step beyond him. Clark had given her a potion to boost her skill, so maybe Daedric was achieveable.

"I think it's working," Iona said, as the sparks flew off the blades. "These are going to be amazing!"

"Balimund told me that when you work on a blade, you're not just adding metal to the edge, and then grinding it away again. That would just leave you back where you started. It's more like brushing your hair, or massaging a sore muscle, you're getting the metal aligned properly. If you can feel when that happens, then you'll make the blade better, and I'm starting to feel what this one needs."

"And you can feel a difference between ebony and Daedric?" Clark asked.

"Yes, it's subtle, but it's there. Even though I'm just changing the edge, the rest of the metal works through, and there is a difference."

Clark hadn't been back to Lakeview since he and Rayya put on the extra wings, and he'd left the furnishing to her. He was surprised to find child-sized beds in the bedroom wing, but "that was what the plans called for," as she explained.

"We have two double, and two single beds, for adults. And there's plenty of space in the cellar for more, if we need them. There's nothing down there but mead barrels, right now."

"I'd just imagined that the beds from the main hall would have been moved in here, but these are additional ones?"

"Yes, it's not like the one we moved from the entryway earlier. That would have been in the way after the remodelling. And we upgraded that one, as well as moving it."

She showed him around the other wings. There was an oven in the kitchen, something he didn't have in his other homes, and she'd been baking pies, to try it out. "And apple dumplings, and crostatas, and ... and if I don't stop, I'll be putting on weight."

"There's a lot of empty storage here in the tower for alchemy ingredients, but I left out the lab itself, as we already have the one in the main hall. That was what you wanted, wasn't it?"

"Yes, the main reason for building the tower was the view from the top. It's a good vantage point for an archer, too. We need at least one tower, in my opinion, just for that."

Rayya had to agree. She'd had problems with a giant that had wandered past and over-stayed his welcome. He'd been helpful at first, killing a pack of wolves for her, but then he'd threatened her, when she went out the door. Shooting him from the tower had avoided a toe-to-toe battle with someone over twice her size.

"You'd have managed it fine, if you'd had these," Clark told her, producing Soulrender and Bloodscythe from his pack.

"Wow! Where did you get these? They don't make scimitars in Skyrim, but these aren't Hammerfell ones, either."

Clark told her what he knew of the Haknir Death-Brand story. "So they're a bit of everything, then? Deadric, Stahlrim, ebony and who knows what else. Did Azura tell you anything more?"

"No, and she only gave me cryptic clues to finding them. I haven't been back to her shrine to ask why, but I suspect that the search was part of what she wanted for me."

"You don't need to visit my shrine," said a voice in Clark's head. "With your permission, I can come here."

Azura appeared as soon as she had Clark's agreeement, startling Rayya a little.

Clark was pleased at how calmly his housecarl seemed to accept a Daedric Princess appearing in his home. (Her home, too, of course.) That was partly because she didn't know it was Azura, and she'd seen mages dispel their invisibilty before. So the introductions startled her a little more.

"I don't know everything about them," Azura explained. "My sister, Nocturnal, is the one to ask about artifacts. These were most likely made specifically for Haknir, and they would come from somewhere on the High Rock coast. Haknir would have seen Hammerfell scimitars from his time raiding the Illiac bay, and he wanted some of his own. There aren't many smiths that know how to make Daedric items, so it took him some time to find someone who could do it."

"He took a pair of ordinary scimitars to the smith as a pattern, which is why they look that way. They have the same balance, even though the material is different. That's not easy to do, and may have required using Adamantium in the hilts to compensate for the heavier blades. Nocturnal believes Boethiah may have contributed the enchantment, after they were made."

"Boethiah? Why would he get involved?' Clark asked.

"I think Boethiah's 'she' at the moment," Azura replied, "But at the time Haknir petitioned his chosen Prince, you might have it right. And it was because Haknir asked, and it suited his purposes to grant it. It's a sneaky kind of enchantment, the way it weakens the opponent, and the whole idea of denying it, if you don't use both, confirms it."

"Oh, and you won't have to wait long to try them," she added. "There's a small band of bandits heading this way from the lake road. Have fun!"

And with that, she disappeared as abruptly as she'd arrived. Rayya and Clark ran out onto the balcony over the bedroom wing to see if they could spot the bandits.

"Shall I soften them up with a fireball?" Clark asked.

"No, let me see if I can persuade them to leave without a fight. Sometimes it's better if they pass on the word that this place isn't worth the risk of raiding. But if they're too stupid, I'd still like to see if I can handle them alone, with these swords."

"I've got your back if you need me," Clark replied, "but go ahead, and play it your way."

The bandit chief didn't think Rayya looked very frightening, unarmoured as she was. The two swords glowing in her hands didn't seem to register as a threat. He answered her polite request for him and his men to leave by taking a swing with his warhammer.

Rayya's first blow had him down on one knee, with his steel armour beginning to crumble away into dust. The second sent his head rolling down the hill. The other two bandits turned and fled, which was just what she wanted. Perhaps now they'd all leave this place alone.

"I like these swords!" Rayya's eyes gleamed. "They almost make up for you being away so long."