The Gift: Chapter Eight: FeverThe journey back to Balmora had started promisingly.
But after Vicente rested against the same sand-smoothed boulder for the third time, he had to admit he was hopelessly lost. Nothing looked familiar- save the circle he had been going in- and it wasn’t entirely due to the blackness of the ashlands at night. He had gotten turned around somewhere along the path and had deviated into alien territory.
The notion should have frightened him more, but he was utterly exhausted. Even though he had covered little to no ground, he had spent hours walking… Well, stumbling, staggering, swaying… “Walking” was a woefully generous term for his pitiful shuffling.
He needed to think. He needed a better plan of action than to wander injured through the ashlands until something finished him off.
What better place to think than in the middle of nowhere?
Vicente thought wryly as he leaned heavily against the stone.
The Gift: Chapter Seven: AwakeThe vampire’s blade had pierced deep into Vicente’s chest, but it had- by some unspeakable miracle- missed his heart.
Moments later, Vicente dragged his consciousness out of the throbbing haze long enough to blindly touch a nerveless fingertip or two to his side and conjure the magical energies that would heal him.
But, magic was difficult to summon at the best of times and he was certainly at his worst.
The weak buzz of magicka flickered dimly through emptied veins and seemed to trickle into the wound rather than fill it with liquid warmth.
The feeble effort was proving too much. The damaged lung made breathing a shallow, gulping struggle as the other tried to do the work of two. Not that it mattered. Even if he had proper use of both, he didn’t have enough blood to circulate through his entire body and feed his organs with air. He was suffocating either way.
The magic fizzled out and his eyes rolled back into his skull as blissf
The Gift: Chapter Six: The AshlandsThe next morning had come swiftly indeed.
The group ate a hurried and tasteless breakfast before scrambling out into the overly bright morning sun. Luckily, their Mage’s Guild escort was already waiting for them outside.
Larienna Autrus was her name and she was a very lovely Imperial woman. A classic example of her race: strong features, wavy hair, and piercing eyes.
Her welcoming smile, however, masked her no-nonsense personality. She made it clear to everyone that she did not consider this expedition a holiday. To her, it was business and she expected that they treated it as such.
“A perfect match for our solemn guide, don’t you think?” Fasile whispered to Vicente as they prepared to leave the walled city.
The group proceeded in silence, many of them still trapped in the thralls of sleep.
Brelas met up with them just outside the gates, carrying at least a hundred pounds of armor and weaponry in addition to his pack.
The Gift: Chapter Five: RumorsBy the time the expedition team traversed all of Balmora in search of The Black Shalk Corner Club and finally made their reservations for the night, the sun had sunk well below the horizon.
Balmora was a beautiful city at first glance, but as the group quickly discovered, it was nearly impossible to navigate. The stone buildings all stood in perfect rows and they had the annoying tendency of all looking the same. Shops looked like homes and homes looked like clubs and the clubs were so out of the way that they all but disappeared completely.
But the grand city was still a wonder to behold. Though the architecture was not traditionally Dunmer, it was brilliant all the same. The buildings were made of enormous slabs of white and tan stone that were sanded and polished to meld seamlessly into each other and into that which covered the ground. Simple designs of blue were painted on the exterior walls and elegant banners of red and orange hung from the doors.
The city was separated d
The Gift: Chapter Four: VvardenfellThe ride to Vvardenfell was every bit as nauseating and distasteful as Vicente had imagined it to be.
The ship was rickety and creaked frighteningly often. Every wave found a new hole in the wood that was then patched with something akin to mud- which was almost always washed away by the salty sea water before it could harden- and the ropes that controlled to mast were so dry rotted that they broke twice.
The crew was even more “delightful”. Vicente had very strong suspicions that this unsavory group of bearded and tattooed men was more pirate than mercenary. They excessively drank a vile, homebrewed concoction and made inconceivably disrespectful remarks towards the young women aboard. It had actually gotten so bad that these poor girls needed two or three escorts just to walk across the width of the ship.
This pirate theory was solidified Vicente’s mind by the flamboyant mannerisms of their captain, Mister Girard Tsussaud himself.
The Gift: Chapter Three: PromisesPerhaps it was divine intervention that led Marelle to find the invite two nights before the expedition ship left for Vvardenfell.
Or sheer dumb luck.
Either way, Vicente found himself at the Northpoint docks frantically trying to locate a vessel called The Tsussaud.
Vicente had never been to Northpoint before- his imports for his shop having been delivered to him instead of retrieved- and he swore he would never venture into the city again.
Where Wayrest was open and clean, Northpoint was ominous and filthy in every sense of the word. The buildings stood in every state of disrepair and some even stooped over the streets as if they were eves dropping on the dark deals and disgraceful businesses that went on in every corner and alley.
But even worse than the sight of the port city, was the smell. The stench of fish and filth- both animal and human- in the air was enough to choke any living soul to death.
And the docks themselves were a haven for a
The Gift: Chapter Two: ApathyVicente often lent himself to endless hours of musing during the evenings.
He would sit in his study in his favorite set of robes, surrounded by books and drying herbs and warmed by a crackling fire. Sometimes he would read through scholarly letters from his friends and contemporaries in the mages guild. Sometimes he would indulge his smoking habit- one he swore to his wife he would one day quit. And sometimes he did absolutely nothing at all. He would simply stare out of his window and watch time pass in the fields beyond.
A hobby that his wife never quite understood.
Marelle was a woman of action. She liked lists, chores and activities. She was very different from the demure girl Vicente had met twelve years ago in his old master’s shop.
And he loved her all the more for it.
Even after twelve years she was still surprising him with her tenacity and willpower.
Her incessant nagging about his scholarly pursuits was a small price t
The Gift: Chapter One: WayrestThere was little in Tamriel that was more beautiful than spring in High Rock.
The countryside was blanketed with wildflowers that danced and swayed lazily in the gentle wind that would then carry the intoxicating scent of lavender and magnolia into gleaming cities that buzzed with magical energies and hummed with life. Shop owners opened their windows with merry smiles and the delicate wind chimes that hung from nearly every building sang a chorus that could not even be bested by the elven choirs of the Summerset Isles. The people milling through the city streets greeted each other with an infectious joyousness that bordered on unnatural euphoria. Even the sun seemed to grin with a stupid happiness as it watched the people below revel in its warmth.
Not everyone in High Rock was out enjoying the day, however. In the quaint shops the merchants toiled endlessly to meet the demands of their clients. This was especially true in a bustling apothecary’s sh