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Gopher's Minions

As Thick as Thieves: Search for the Gray Fox


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The first hints of sunlight struggled to creep over the horizon. Naris watched them with a smile. A smile only a few people had ever seen. He could count them on one hand. He looked down at the tiny black creature in his lap. The cat was still asleep, but it looked like it was dreaming. It purred whilst turning on his back, lifting a paw to fend off some monster of the mind. Naris made his descision. He'd take it along. A little company would be good for him.

Light, graceful footsteps caught his attention. When he looked down he saw Aslin step out of the door.

Well aren't you the early riser....

She walked past the Lucky Old Lady, kissing it as she went by. It looked like she whispered something to it.

I might as well join her straight away.

She was one of the few people he didn't mind talking to. He woke the cat on his lap with a soft tap on its nose. The thing looked at him with its amber eyes, as if it knew what they where going to do. It jumped onto the small ledge halfway down the front of the building, shortly followed by Naris. From there it was still quite a leap down, but Naris knew what he was doing. The cat jumped, and Naris followed just a little less graceful. Once down he quickly caught up to the Bosmer.

"Ma'am" he said tapping his cowl as a means of salute "I'm surprised to see you up this early."

Naris walkedup next to her, closely tailed by his cat. He towered over her, even though he wasn't extraordinarily tall. "Would you mind if I accompanied you to the stables?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Soris hummed quietly to himself as he finished brushing the black destrier. Seventeen hands to the withers, fur so black that light seemed to fall into it, Soris' horse was as imposing as a horse could be. Named for his power and force of presence, Nerevar made a wonderful travelling companion. Alert, even tempered, sure-footed, and stamina for days, Soris considered Nerevar to be the pinnacle of horses. He often found himself spending time just grooming the giant stallion to quiet his mind, or to prepare himself for an extended assignment. Nerevar's skin shivered slightly, his ears twitched, and with the half interested attitude of a king of men and beast, slowly turned his massive head as Aslin, Naris, a black cat and a crow approached the barn. It's beginning, then, though Soris.

Soris stood, and looked around the barn. He'd been busy for hours, and slept not at all. Most of the night was spent lining out the checklists of duties for his new (temporary?) housekeeper, sending runners this way and that to gather supplies for the road, restocking his poisons, and preparing letters of mark for traveling expenses. He may be a gifted assassin with decades of death under his belt, but he'd been an even more gifted businessman for longer, and wealth didn't earn itself. At least, not without careful guidance. Aslin may wonder at his financial power, maybe even suspect it's source, but the truth is much of it had been developed in the years his adopted father was training him. The first lesson he learned was, "Gold diverts attention. If you are rich enough, no one looks deeper. If you are going to devote yourself to Sithis, lad, cover your tracks with gold." By now, the gold was deep enough that he didn't even leave tracks. By Soris rough estimation, he could probably fund the Imperial budget for a decade. But that kind of wealth took careful management, and assassin's don't trust. Consequently, he knew where every septim was spent, what was owed to whom, and which of his tenants could be trusted to manage their own affairs. It did make for some long nights, though, when he was going to be away for an extended period.

He checked his list again, verified that there were horses prepared and saddled for everyone (even a Skyrim bred draught horse for that drunk giant of a man Maurice), complete with letters of introduction for each member of the party; in case they got separated and couldn't make it to a Thieves Guild safehouse, these would serve as emergency backup safehouses. He frowned. Provisions, check; dried ingredients for poisons and potions, check. He knew there was something he'd not thought about. Soris shrugged, and smiled. Aslin was an veteran at these kinds of operations. Whatever he forgot, she didn't, of this he was sure.

Soris smiled again, rubbed Nerevar's velvety nose, and walked out of the stables. Aslin and Naris were here, the rest would be arriving soon. The sun was up, the air was clean, and there was blood on the wind. It promised to be a beautiful day.

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Noct cracked an eye open, disturbed from his sleep by the annoying weak, pale light of dawn that insisted on interrupting a most pleasant dream, one of drink, merriment and most importantly attractive redheads. Noct breathed in.

THROB.

The dull ache of a hangover pounded his temples, a discomfort further exacerbated by the aforementioned sunlight peeking over the darkened horizon. Noct breathed out, lips curving up into a lazy smile, before enunciating slowly but surely an almost inaudible simple cantrip, a derivative of a much greater and more complex piece of magecraft that he had no chance in Nirn of ever replicating.

Thank Talos, I can at least do this.

The spell washed over Noct's body, seeping into his very being, identifying, analysing and redefining. In the span of a heartbeat, the multitude of toxins, alcohol and otherwise, was purged forcefully from Noct, even as the magicka refreshed and renewed. The night's revelry was washed away in an instant, as if he had spent it sleeping.

Stretching out his limbs, Noct sat atop his precarious perch on a rickety, ancient chair, balanced dangerously on the crenelated walls of Bravil's gate.

Noct sighed, relaxing once more into his perch, and despite being energised by his improvised hangover remedy, promptly slipped back into a light doze.

Well, good thing I never unpacked.

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  • 1 month later...

Leaving the gathering Elik had no intention of sleeping, his mind was too busy with what he had learnt and the thought of having to join this company on a journey to Leyawiin was not high up on his list. He’d much prefer to make the journey on his own, but Aslin required him to be there and so he’d follow.

Entering his room he gathered what little supplies he had and placed them into his ragged looking backpack, an additional set of clothing, some food and a map of Cyrodiil. Reaching under his bed he withdrew two quivers of arrows, before pushing one of them back under. Shifting the bed over just a little allowed him to lift one of the floor boards just enough for him to reach in to grab a coin purse.

Looking around for a last to for anything that might come in handy Elik swung his backpack over his shoulder, picked up the quiver of arrows and grabbed his short bow as he left the room shutting the door behind him.

The rain continued to fall as he left the house, he made his way towards the Bay Roan Stables. The rafters would make a decent sleeping place until the others arrived.

Elik awoke to the sound of someone entering the Stables, it was Soris. Watching him Elik saw him head over to a majestic looking beast. Deciding to say nothing and he drifted off into a light sleep.

Dawn was beginning to break when Elik next woke, Soris was still in the Stables finishing off with his horse. Stretching, Elik dropped from the rafters landing nimbly next to one of the other horses. Dusting himself off he opened the door for the enclosure and went to join the others.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Soris was already at the stables when Aslin and Naris arrived. That didn’t surprise her. The sight of all of the horses saddled and loaded with provisions, did however. She hadn’t actually planned on horses for the journey but that would defiantly make it much faster, cutting the three day trip in half.

“Very generous, Renoit.” She said to the Dunmer as they got close enough to talk without shouting. Aslin walked to one of the animals, a brown mare with white socks and blaze. The wood-elf could feel an eager, nervous energy from the young horse as she ran her hands down the neck and shoulders that matched her own excitement.

She ran both hands down the sides of the horse’s muzzle, gentle blowing into her nose to share her sent. The mare responded in kind, blowing warm breath in her face and Aslin felt that wordless connection she had with animals that was her Bosmeric heritage. Aslin whispered compliments to the beautiful animal, watching as her ears swiveled forward, telling her that she had the horse’s full attention. She then gently lowered the horse’s head till they were eye to eye and pressed her forehead against the white blaze still whispering softly encouraging words.

“Her name is Winnifrea?” Though it was phrased like a question it was said as a statement. “Well you are quite lovely, Miss Winnifrea. Thank you for aiding us in our journey.”

Aslin attached her quiver and long bow to the left side of the saddle where she could easily reach it and loaded her satchel into one of the saddle bags. Elik and Noct had joined them by the time she was done and were preparing their own horses as well. She leapt agilely into the saddle, taking her reins in her hands. The mare’s ear’s flipped back and forth, listening intently for the order to head out. Aslin could feel her desire to run and eager anticipation to be on the road.

The sun was fully visible above the horizon by now. They had wasted too much time already, they simply could not wait much longer. Tak-tak flew down from where he had perched in the rafters while she was getting acquainted with Winnifrea and landed the saddle behind her. The horse jumped slighting with surprise but Aslin calmed her with a touch and a whispered reassurance.

“Dawn has come and gone, and so should we.” She said firmly, addressing her crew. “If the others aren’t going to head my orders they will just have to find a way to catch up. We simply can’t waste more time.”

Aslin tugged on her reins and Winnifrea obediently danced backwards out from the stables, pulling round towards the road leading to Leyawiin. The Bosmer took a deep breath, soaking in the smells of the rain and the road, her emerald eyes bright with excitement. The green wilderness called to her and she felt her blood answering the call. She started to whistle again and the group began their journey.

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"Quiet bunch aren't you all," Noct muttered under breath, even as he gathered himself, atop his perch on the walls. The few minutes of soaking the morning sounds and sights was well worth delaying his move to the stables.

But, with the 'leader' of this party of thieves, assassins and other shadowy figures, moving out, it was high time for Noct to move. And so, he did, stepping off onto thin air, letting gravity drag him done to unforgiving dirt, before landing with nary a scuffle on the ground's muddy texture.

Hmmm...... a bit slow executing the deceleration factor, need to work on that.

Moments and a filched apple later, Noct found himself cheerfully humming to an old Altmer song, saddling up his mild mannered mare, after politely but curtly greeting the gathered 'party' of course. Small talk first thing in the morn was never one of Noct's strong suits.

After all, I love the night and the night loves me.

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Seeing Aslin ride out of the stable, Naris decided it was about time he started moving too. Walking into the stables he gave Soris a brisk nod. As he looked around the stables he noticed Elik. The boy also received the same brisk nod, be it with a slightly less grim facial expression. When he turned his attention to the horses, a pale gray stallion caught his eye. Spots of darker grey covered its thighs, and its hair got progressively darker the closer it came to its hooves. Long, ravenblack manes fell down from it's neck. As Naris walked towards it, the horse yanked the reins nervously. It seemed that the horse had a temper that matched that of himself. As Naris carefully reached for the animals nose, it snapped at him. Naris quickly pulled back his hand and grabbed the reins, pulling the horse's head down. The animal started to whinny loudly, until Naris gently put his other hand on its nose, whispering calming words in its ear. The horse slowly calmed, to the point where Naris let go of the reins. The animal sniffed his hand, then gently pressed its velvety nose into it.

 

Having won the horse's trust, Naris walked to the side of the animal, opening the saddlebags. He took a pouch from under his short cloak and let it slide in. He untied the horse, led it out of the stable and swung himself into the saddle. He could feel the animals muscles tense for a moment, but when he leaned forward to pat it on the neck and whisper a few words into its ear it relaxed. A sad 'meow' drew Naris's attention. Next to the horse, the little black cat was looking up at him with its amber eyes. Realizing the thing was too small to walk all the way to Leyawiin on its tiny paws, Naris stretched his arm out towards it. The cat immediately leaped up, putting its claws into the fabric of his sleeves. He lifted the thing into the saddle in front of him, where it contently laid down. It looked up at him again with those intelligent eyes. Naris finally knew what to call it. He'd call the little cat Amber, for the color of its eyes.

 

The road stretched out before him, and Naris felt surprisingly happy all of the sudden. The sun was rising, the air smelled of wet grass and flowers, and, even though he strongly preferred the night, it was a beautiful morning. Completely unlike himself, Naris started humming an old song he hadn't thought of since his early childhood. With a slight smile under his beard, he pulled out one of his trusted throwing knives and started to skilfully play with it between his fingers. He gave the horse a small pinch with his knees, and they were on their way.

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  • 1 month later...

Nevon slipped his two swords, Lyr, in his right hand, and Iya, in his left, out of their sheaves with a clang. He looked at his opponent through cold eyes before putting his right leg a few feet behind his left leg and pointing his foot to the side in a fighting stance, held Iya diagonally in front of him, whilst holding Lyr over his right shoulder, ready to hit; doing so as to not warn his enemy of his attack by swinging the sword over his shoulder.

The opponent swiped his sword forward with great speed, but Nevon parried it to the left with Iya, then stepped forward with his right leg and hit him in the neck with the pommel of Lyr, at which the man stumbled, and almost fell over. Nevon then jumped forwards, and hit the man again with the pommel of the sword, this time in the face, knocking him back about two meters, but still not felling him. Then he dashed forth, stepped nearer with his left leg and placed Iya against the man's throat.

In an instant, a single drop of blood slid down across the edge of the sword, the man groaned as he felt a burning tingle on his neck as the fiery texture appeared on the enchanted blade...

And his neck burst into flames.

Nevon smiled.

That was the last one, for now. He felt relieved, it was a long, hard day after all, and it was good to have a break from all that was going on. Now he could finally have a rest. He smiled again, wiped the single tear of blood that lay across the edge of Iya with his sleeve, then re-sheathed both of his swords.

Nevon knelt next to the mans corpse and examined his charred neck. He disliked killing; it always made him think of his victims family, and how his suffered a similar fate. But, when it came to battle, he stayed strong, his mind empty of everything but his target, for he knew that if he let such feelings take over, he'll be dead instead... Someone has to die either way.

It's a sad world we live in, he thought, as he picked up the body.

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