Quest 5: The Crystal Kingdom
Loading Screen… The Nifelcairn Way is a giant underground passage that is housed beneath Skyrim, said to be home to the Nifelworm, a giant worm zooming around beneath the surface, worshipped by a devolved offshoot of Nord known as the Horme Bandits…
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“You’re finally awake!” The Rat-Man from the day before said as Krest awoke. “You were trying to cross the inlet, right? Walked right into this little hamlet. Same as us, and that Lilmothit over there.”
Krest sighed depressingly, slowly standing onto both feet. He transformed his right forearm back into a Dwarven mantis-blade, pointing it at the rodent. His augmented fur gauntlet and skin rived off as a sharp, needle-like blade extended out from his mechanically flesh-hollowed arm. He scowled at the mouse. His name was Nishu-Eru if he remembered properly.
Nishu-Eru held up his hands placatingly. “I’ll delta! I was just observing the unicorn! It’s been near you all night, watching over your body.”
Krest turned and saw a gleaming white furred figure on all fours, grazing by where he’d slept, a shiny spindly horn protruding off its crown. Amongst the groves of flowers and exotic plants, the sight seemed surreal. Krest retracted his weapon, the gauntlet reattaching itself, and approached slowly. The mythical horse bowed its head and Krest stroked the hairs on its neck, gently patting it.
“Weird. Usually, only girls or untouched boys manage to tame those things. So, which are you?”
Krest ignored him. Akatosh, what’s this guy on about?
“You’ve never felt a woman’s warmth, you’re still too young.” Nishu-Eru grinned. “What a loser you are.”
Says the literal rodent. And why would I even want that.
Krest opened his shouldered satchel and took out a protein-block. He looked at the unsavory stick of hardened gelatin and broke half of it, placing one part back into his bag and feeding the other piece to the unicorn who gobbled it up. Either it was the adrenaline, or you somehow kept me from freezing in this flowerbed. Krest bent down and inspected the array of yellow chrysanthemums as the rays of dawn descended through the dense canopy. He sniffed them and twirled one with two fingers. They emit heat or something. An alchemist might pay more than a few septims. Krest pocketed a few in his satchel.
Gathering sticks and branches, Nishu-Eru and Olessandr the fox-folk started a fire and hunched down by it. A penguin waddled over to them from the shade and sat squat aside the three on the log, allowing the heat to warm up its flippers. Krest handed the remainder of his ration to the flightless bird. The fire flicked back and forth, eroding the sticks under it, a small ash mound formulating. I should go to Nordenbjorg regardless, his brain swilled, recalling something, maybe it’s no coincidence I was chosen to transport that prisoner… His spirits lifted at the thought. A racoon and a squirrel were having a standoff in the corner of his framed view, pine needles dusting in their wake. A moose stopped in the distance and its mouth smirtled into an evil grin.
“We need to leave.” Olessandr visibly swallowed. “Moose are the omen of Orcs and Trollocs.”
Of course they are. Krest rolled his eyes.
Krest shooed the penguin away and Nishu-Eru stomped out the fire, blasting it with a torrent of basic water magic. The string of Krest’s satchel went over his delt, and he set off through the croaks and groans of the neighbouring pine trees atop the unicorn. Krest gently stroked the white horse’s neck as its golden hooves trundled through the swirls and snowy flower patterns of the northern floor. He cleared his throat as they came upon a massive, silver door into the valley of Bleak Fall Pass wedged in between the small canyon.
Krest hopped off his steed. Wait here. He pointed at the ground and pet the mythical horse before moving off into the grove.
Globules of purple bobbles poked through the soil, rising to his waist. Lumbering and enjoying the sights of ancient Direnni ruins; grey marble minarets and crumbling outposts, the rare Ayleid well of magicka. Krest continued to entertain delusions of being the Last Dragonborn before he happened at a glen. A circle of cherry-blossoms enclosing it. Krest swept aside the pink leaves and his optics settled onto a statue of a tattered-black dragon. Four legs, two wings, a long snout with protruding horns that curved from under the jaw, marbling ridges grooved to emulate scales with a barbed tale. Like death itself had blossomed into existence. Various spriggans and druids were appraising it. They gave him long, beady stares before deeming him a non-threat. Krest walked slowly, hands to his sides, one foot mushing the marsh at a time as fog swarmed from an unknown source. He gulped thickly, carefully sliding though the druidic forest dwellers. He placed his hands on either side of the statue’s face, reading the engraving.
Konahrik, the Dragon who stood up to the false heroes and tyrannical ancients of Skyrim. Patron-saint to the free spirits of the woodland.
Drops assaulted the stippling as the sky bled warm black oobleck with smidges of grey sludge. It was as if the Divines had spilled an inkwell into the mortal world through a strainer or sprinkler.
A knot twisted in his gut, and he puked something up. A spatter of blood painted his palm. Krest looked back up and around him. He pointed at the massive, elven styled doorway at the end of the glade. The spriggan mother, a towering, curvy figure nodded and Krest stepped over to it, grunting and pushing the door open forcefully. Walking back through toward the unicorn, he dwelt on his thoughts a bit. Maybe he could just forgo his duties and live out the rest of his days here in the arboreal treescape. They’d just tell Pierre to find me.
A short while later he ascended a spiraling hillside toward the Bleak Falls Mountain as blue snow and oobleck rain continued to swarm together. A few harmless Falmer cozied up near each other by a bonfire, eating crackers and coffee they’d likely nabbed from an Imperial food-ground. Well, if there were any here that was.
“If yous seeks the way, goes up. Orcs and Trollocs, Bandits and he are near.” One of them reared its ugly head up at him.
Krest acknowledged it with one eyebrow, tilting his head exasperatedly. I’ll keep that in mind.
And they were right. When Krest trekked toward the grey monolithic structure embedded into the mountain face underneath blistering cold blizzards, a large encampment of Orcs and Trollocs lurked on the other side. They sat on fire pits, roasting oxen, and lamb, rotating their crudely made spits. Orcs were greyish, elven offshoots with tusks and broad muscles while Trollocs were some sort of demonic minotaur in service of Malacath. – He snuck up the icy steps and slipped into the Nordic ruin.
Bleak Falls Barrow. It was quiet and the bastion held a partially open roof allowing light to bask in. Krest traversed the eerie expanse, walking over lain skin rugs on the cold stone floor. He walked down steppingstones and curved a corner, dust dusting off in his wake. It’s like no one’s set foot here in a century. It was dark too, no candles, brazier, or torches would offer any comfort here. Krest marveled at a waterfall gushing through a peak as a solitary figure bathed in its barely melted ice. Krest snuck nearby behind a bramble and saw it was the sun prisoner he’d fought. The Sun Man was quite hairy and muscular, the typical macho type. But there were some weird scratches on his back, like some animal had dug them in there and drawn across.
Krest narrowed his eyes. How did he get those with all that armor? The golden plating was lying on the wet flat boulder nearby. Krest looked closer and saw a woman too, bathing with the Fallen Angel in the downflow. He couldn’t tell who she was, just that her hair was strawberry blonde. Where did she come from? There was something oddly familiar about her too. Krest wondered if he should ambush the Sun Man in order to recapture him but quickly reconsidered, no he’d beat me, and that woman might get hurt too. Some shuffling footsteps reverberated down the passage whence Krest came. That must be the Orcs, guess that’s my que to delta. And he shot off.
A few minutes later, past some Draukr graves, his destination was found, beneath a broken Dwemer bust. He stepped onto the elevator there and kicked the switch. He cued in on the veins etched in his hand, a black stem akin to a fern had grown into the side of his palm. The heck is this shit?
He anchored to the ground and stepped off the rise. It emptied out beyond some rock-faced caverns into a wide pinkish tunnel with grooves and ridges running across on every level. The architecture and make suggested ancient Atmoran. Carvings of various gods from the old Nord pantheon. The one of a moth adorned by a lily with a nymph depicted below caught his eye. He dusted it off as he passed by. Acid-reflux burned his insides when he saw the maroon slime oozing off the walls, stinking like grease. Footsteps echoed down the curve. Around the corner several individuals dressed fully in black robes came into view.
“Jsashe humbiblee gleebaa,” one cried. “Hinga dinga durgen.”
“Potema granheen. Talos, Tibre Scepter! Oon prophecy koroct.” The other one appeared to be debating with him. Glimpsing beneath that one who’d removed his tribal covering. They were inbred Nords with hunched-backs, ovular oblong crowns, and foreheads, crooked, hooked noses, buckteeth, and epicanthal folds. Almost as short as halflings. The women among them had small, wispy beards, oddly enough.
Veins heated up his skin. Their elongated skulls and tribal totems made his guts churn. The boring of the black bird-eyes. They quickly ran over to the right wall into an angled corner so they had a clear view of deeper down the tunnel and would know when the worm was nearby. The rumblings, shaking and thrills of the worm drummed closer. -- Then Krest saw it. A titanic, ebony monster. Bone-ribbed body with few openings for flesh and jagged, spiked teeth that looked sharp enough to cut through stone.
He lunged with his blade and dug into the upper parts of the Nifelworm's flesh. Instantly ripped from his spot, speeding down the underground hallway at high velocity. The serpentine beast let out a wail and dark blood gushed from its lodes as he climbed on top. He seated himself between two sets of skinned pleats. The worm forwarded and took a turn near where he had descended via the lift, shooting through another set of dark cavernous halls. Krest frowned, allowing hair to engulf the sides of his jaw and trickle down to his collarbone. A cascading waterfall of dark-brown as he leered down at the greyish-black body of the Nifelworm. He drew invisible, imaginary symbols on the bones of the invertebrate as it thundered through the dim grottos. Glowing luminescent stripes struggled through the ceiling now and the stones melded onyx, with glimmering mushrooms that dotted along.
The giant worm sailed like a train, skirting through Blackreach upper levels. From where Krest could see, a Dragon was sleeping on a mound of gold in the Dwarven city.
He laid back and let himself pass out for a for a few…
The earth grumbled and groaned, depleted from the stress inflicted on it by the monster.
Black mass blundered away beneath as a bend neared. Krest wrapped his hand around his wrist. The Nifelworm rocketed round the turn, and he launched off, doing a roll after landing to break his fall. His foot chose to fall asleep then and he fell over…
Finally, he was near Nordenbjorg. After so much traveling and journeying, he’d made it from the heart of Cyrodill to the northern fringes of this winter wonderland. Most of his missions prior to this had been in the warmer parts of his homeland, so this was very foreign. Krest exited the cave.
He came out into the evening, the sky glistening carroty undertones, exploding with magenta and blue reflections off the marble, the makings of an aurora in progress. He pinched the end of his nose, gazing around. This must be Haafinheim. The chiefdom was almost entirely devoid of natural nature like that of the other more 'Kynareth-blessed' holds, at least as far as he could discern. The entire landscape was comprised of white marble and snow. The early elven progenitors who congregated here enchanted the region into looking like their ancient homeland, Aldmeris, he deduced. Krest dipped his dirty boots into marble in-laid shoreline which seemed to encroach a bit into the vibrant blue ocean. Ethereal lights and fairies flickered around and way out, two creatures were prowling about. One, a gargantuan landwyrm, slithering on the mineral, its yellow skin highlighted against white stone. The second was a huge, creepy looking raven, swooping onto old battlements near a Falmeri arch. Whiffing the air, it contained hints of rotting carcass when not laced with peroxide. A lump from lack of hydration was resolved to make a home nestled in Krest’s throat.
Across the lake near an inlet at the base of the mount was a blue whale of holy proportions. Its mouth ajar as people entered it. Once inside, the whale blew water from its blowhole and submerged into the sea, swimming away. They must use whales as ferries here. Either that or they routinely make sacrifices to some squid entity living down there… hopefully the former.
A few snow-rays drew past him in a glissade, twirling and flapping like netches though they mirrored their underwater cousins, the manta ray in appearance. He took longer strides, yawning as the sky deepened a shade, stars diffusing their way in. Krest was near a bouldering mass with a floating island in front of it, way above. The Arch of Solitude. Expect it was all white marble rather than gray. Even the mountains in the distance were made of marble, decorated with snow and oriental trees. A minotaur was blocking the bridge over the river. It lumbered up and down the crystalline crossing, a crude stone club in its large hand, hanging by its side. The minotaur expelled air through its thick nostrils, the huge muscles of it flexing and contorting. The beast turned and he saw the bull face with two long horns projecting near its ears. While the legs were bent and shaped like that of a horse or chicken structurally, hooved.
Something swigged inside his cranium as meteor showers reigned above. The descendant of Belhazra was too advanced to dispatch normally, and he needed to get into the city.
Krest stole looks from around to make sure there weren't any other predators. He saw jellyfish bobbing in the lake near ports with huge raiding vessels and cargo ships, foisting slaves and goods into the city via cranes scaffolding the Solitude Arch. A train presumably from High Rock glided in through nooks and crannies into an underground station as well. Karls with reverse-mullets, braided beards, and bear pelts ladened over chainmail sauntered through the thatched roofed portside cottages with pilfered goods and barrels of mead. A pyre boat funeral was being held in honor of one of their fallen comrades. Krest watched in horror as the dead man along with his belongings, including alive elven thralls were burned with molting lava and set off towards the all-consuming whirlpool near Roscrea.
These Nords are monsters.
He thought he saw a dark figure lurking on the other end of the bridge, but it could've just been an ocular glitch. His left arm undid itself to reveal a small crossbow like those on Dwarven Spheres. He shot a bolt at the minotaur, aiming beneath its horned temples. The shard impregnated itself into the monster's cheek and it spun around on the spot, swaying momentously. It roared and Krest’s sight flitted across the dock.
Krest ran away and glanced back now and again to check if the man-bull was tailing him. Its legs and towering upper body made its speed slow, and he had no issue keeping far from it. Soon enough they neared the area where the lind was roosting, that creepy giant raven also there, spying on their arrival from the top of a wrecked milky tower. The bird of prey blinked its dark jewel eyes, its beak curving into a smirk, feathers ruffling as it readjusted its position atop the archaic watch post, marveling as though it wanted to spectate the eminent gladiatorial combat.
That thing is up to something. Normal birds don’t grin like that.
His hand curled and metal peeled out. The wyrm reared up, hissing as blood jammed out oozing from one of its cursed golden eyes. Krest was gone, silently stooping back over to the widening bay where seals and horkers rested. The ophidian had fallen for it, it lunged for the minotaur, and they soon were locked in a bloody battle. The raven above clicked its beak, jouncing on its talons. The lindwyrm coiled around the minotaur's chest and the bull-man smacked it with his club. Didn't see the rest however because he chose to sprint away then, doing his best to not slip on the silky smoothness. Krest slowed down the way across the viaduct, glancing back, the giant bird was still observing the death match. The massive lizard was writhing and screeching wildly, thrashing its tail as the minotaur, who was scoured in bite marks and scratches, did its best to choke the wingless dragon. The snake’s ichor drained away like wine being poured from a glass, gliding on the gemstone land. – He passed the span and some crumbling crystal constructions, ascending a tall hill toward the city of Nordenbjörg. Home to Jarl Ulfric and Thane Elisif.
Nordenbjörg was built on an arched cliff which extended past the river so boats could pass under, but also projected a second ways over the icy sea, acting as monumental land-bridge for dark beaches leagues off. The name Nordenbjorg roughly translated to haven for Nords. It was protected by prodigious, white-marbled walls and high gates with armoured fortifications and watchtowers. Krest detected a slott on the left-hand side, deeply embedded in the heart of the grande ville. A floating island with a glistening gold temple across the edge on the first right side where the wall dipped. A giant golden statue of the goddess Dibella was on top of the prayer house, her curving body holding up a pale flower and her short hair pouring down like running water.
He lent down and cupped his hands in the lake and slurped up as much water as he could before his palms felt fit to freeze off. Washing his face and lochs.
Something black and white receded in the corner of his eye.
Sharp, rapping footsteps tumbled behind and something cloaked in black, a long katana clutched in their hand sliced through the air.
His opponent pulled off her mask.
A dark-skinned Redguard woman was beneath the hijab. She had a thick, neck-length black mane and three scars that ran under one socket. She was around thirty to forty and of similar height as himself. She reinserted the katana in its scabbard.
“Oh, just a kid. You shouldn't be wandering out here. Come on, I'll escort you to the city.” She scrutinized him with narrowing dark blues. “Who are you though?”
Krest moved over to the moonlight and showed the Imperial sigil on his armband. The black wiring in his arms and pointed to the USB port below his ear.
“Praetorian-Courier. I’ve been awaiting you, weren’t you supposed to bring someone?”
Krest nodded. He tried to communicate that the Sun Prisoner had escaped through forms of widely understood sign language.
“Mother Dibella’s going to be upset.” Saadia shook her head, massaging her crown. “She’ll want to speak with you, so you better come with me. Before you give me that stupid look, know that I am Saadia Iman, the Sybil of Dibella. The reason you were bringing that man here was because he was going to be prosecuted by the Divines for his sins.”
Krest scraped the snow off his boots from the marble step. Speaking with the gods. Maybe I am special.
"Now. Come on.” Saadia marched up the hillside again, ascending the marbling of the pathway.
Saadia and Krest came upon the rose-gold, gilded gate that sat at the mouth of Nordenbjörg, beneath boulders that jutted out and low jewelry-ladened hills. A sphinx sat in front of the entrance, in place of guards. Bodies were hung outside on ropes, some in cramped bird cages. Krest hissed lowly at the sight.
A Dark-Elf was leaning near the gate with a Redguard in wizard robes who wore an afro and groomed beard. The Redguard had a mischievous face with glowing blue eyes, the likes of which Krest had never seen on anyone.
“Well hello, Irdi.” Saadia nodded. “Who’s this?”
“Greetings, Sybil. Do you believe tardiness to be a virtue?” Irdi squinted at Saadia. “As for this young man accompanying me; this is Eleph the Ancient Magister. I suppose you could call him a seer of sorts…”
Saadia balanced on one hip, placing a palm there. “Really? Quite a handsome young thing, isn’t he? Why don’t you tell me my fortune, mister Eleph?”
Eleph grinned innocently and shrugged, flipping a coin, and pocketing it. “You’ve got the heart of a dragon, babe.” Then his glimmering insets fell onto Krest. “I got nothing, kiddo.”
“Troll.” Saadia rolled her eyes.
“What can I say?” Eleph smirked cheekily.
“We’ll see you around, Irdi.” Saadia waved with a wink at Eleph who was still grinning.
Irdi’s shoulders rose and fell like an empire. “That is to be seen.”
As for the sphinx gate-guardian. The white winged half-lion was quite big, poised like a cat on its heels in front of their destination. It wore the noble likeness of a woman with a Hammerfell style headdress and horns.
"She's here to make sure no shapeshifters can make it in." Saadia regarded him. "She'll ask a riddle that serves as a password."
"What creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?" The sphinx gazed at them, batting its large orange eyes.
"Want to try?” Saadia smirked at him.
Krest stared flatly, eyelets sharpening. Nothing?
Saadia petted the sphinx gently. "The answer is man."
The hawkmoth inclined its pride. "You may enter." The door opened behind it, and they trailed inward towards the atrium.
The conurbation of man-made design was a mixture of Falmer, Dwemer, and Nord. A collection of ivory mottled buildings lined and doored by gold brass, with ebony reinforcements. The megalopolis felt crowded in the narrowing overpasses and highways but cramped as well. Rises rose over and over like layering on a cake into higher neighborhoods where richer citizens dwelt. Ports and jack-in centers doted areas of less repute. White-maple grounding on top of the deep-rooted Aldmeri magicks of the tusk eggshell high-rises, there was a cascade of sloped-styled buildings with giant waterways for mail to travel through amongst pools of clear liquid. Healer snakes slithered in and out of crevices, repairing potential damage to the infrastructure. A windmill was in the far back too alongside wells and virtual farms. Dwarven monorails running across the city into clock-tower stations.
“Mind the guards here. Many of them are salty since they are usually men who can’t afford to pay taxes,” Saadia warned. “If you break rules, they will ticket you to meet their monthly quota.”
“Terrible and powerful Talos! We unworthy servants give praise!” A preacher cried in front of a towering statue of Talos. “You walked among us great Talos! Not as god, but AS MAN! Talos the mighty! Talos the unerring! Talos the unassailable! To you we give praise!”
“That’s Heimskr. Don’t mind him.” Saadia kept walking.
“BUT BEWARE!” Heimskr screamed. “The Thalmor and those elven fools are under the control of the Devil, Konahrik! They seek to destroy worship of our greatest hero!”
When Krest returned his attention to Saadia, she was directing something out to him "It's called Radiant Raiment, just go in and ask for a proper fur cloak.” She glimpsed him over. “On second-thought, let me.”
I wonder if Dibella is actually going to come down here and talk to us. That’d be bizarre. Robed members of the School of Jhunal, or Julianos, came filing out of a building discussing in hushed whispers as children sailed kites in the night wind.
“Now that Thane Torygg is dead, the High King has appointed Elisif to become Jarl of Nordenbjorg and take the Chrysanthemum Throne,” one of the mages muttered to his colleague. “But Ulfric won’t let that happen of course.”
“Do you think the rumors are true? The ones about monarchy being outlawed and Tamriel converting to a republic?”
Before he knew it, she was back, holding a tote-bag full of a various assortment of coloured garments. Saadia led him around a corner behind the boutique and a small bookshop. "Go ahead, you’ll freeze to death in that ragged blanket you call a cloak." She shifted her focus onto something else.
He rifled through the sack and took off the linen drape he’d been using, palpitating in the frigid icy air of northern Skyrim, stuffing the adornment into the carryon. He threw on the burlier cloak, not liking it but deciding to use it for now. It was heavy and felt like lugging a rolled-up rug over his back. Definitely going back to the ‘ragged blanket’ when I get the chance. Krest also swapped his red for purple and ripped off some empire-badges.
Saadia beamed as bright as the white slides behind her when he returned, though it was because a handsome redhead was holding her in his arms. “Oh, this is Brynjolf, my partner in crime.” She introduced Krest to the Nord. He had short-styled ginger hair with a thick stubble, sea-green eyes and black leathers.
Krest eclipsed away when Saadia and Brynjolf started kissing again. The moon's light fractals refracted, and he got a sharper view of Nordenbjörg. He splashed some water over his split ends via the reflection of a nearby wellspring.
“You ready to delta?” Saadia signaled away with her thumb. “Now, I want you staying in the Temple of Dibella with me. The other priestesses aren’t here right now, and the goddess will need to speak with you as soon as possible.” A deactivated gate of Oblivion sat in the background.
That’s why the Dibellans were at Old Fort. Dibella wants them out, not a liability for whatever’s about to come. Something related to that prisoner. He recced skeptically at the blue-grommeted Redguard. A cat prowled away, licking some spilled liquid in the corner of his eye. I’m here then too, it has to be because I’m the Dragonborn! Goosebumps tingled over his arms.
A cloudburst split above them, and rain trickled down, pattering the cityscape into a smooth, sleek shine as a group of Nords jogged past them. They must be practicing for a marathon, like the Aetheriucs competition back at home.
Saadia and Brynjolf led him through the winding city streets. "Tomorrow night in fact, I am summoning Dibella Y’ffre herself. She has forewarned me of this, and I am preparing for her communion. You are a boy, so you likely underestimate Dibella’s importance. She is the heart of the universe. Known as Y’ffre to the elves. Without her, everything would fall apart. A pillar of creation and existence itself. She is not merely a female goddess for men to ogle.”
“I prefer Noctunral myself,” Brynjolf chuckled.
“Oh, shush, you,” retorted Saadia.
Krest ingested a knot of hot air, observing the white flow of edifices and packed rising tiers of upper-districts as more gold, gray, and washed-out housing blocks drifted near, gliding toward the municipality's edge. Akatosh flying out of the sun with a criminal-god in his mouth and now Dibella choosing to appear on Nirn. The Sybil of Dibella here too. Last time Akatosh appeared it was to defeat Mehrunes Dagon, a year before I was born. This all has something to do with the Sun Prisoner. But what? He rubbed his eyes, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
Smiths worked with magical ice on forges as Nord warriors practised their battle cries and wode shields in blacktopped training grounds. Krest received plenty of confused looks; judging by the faces of many Nords, they’d never seen an Imperial before. A goat sat in the yard of a gated manor with people lining up to drink its milk.
“That’s Heidrun, the goat that produces mead instead of milk. Owned by the Forkbeard family,” extrapolated Saadia. “The people lined up are Hafnir Forkbeard and his three wives.”
Krest looked at the three Nord women, all half the age of Hafnir. Gods help those poor women.
“Nords are like their founder, Shor. Inherently misogynistic and a polygynist.” Saadia scowled at the sight of it. “He was meant to be the crown of Kyne, as Akatosh is to Mara. But he corrupted his position. Dibella didn’t have a crowning jewel, though she has mentioned her fascination with Breton boys on occasion.”
“Dibella and her harem of Breton boys.” Brynjolf grinned. “Sounds like a band of indie bards.”
"Communicating with the Divines directly, can you believe it?" Whispered Saadia as they pounded the pavement. “We have to keep it secret. Can’t let the prisoner catch wind.” They strolled the last line of exquisite mansions and decanted the final array of ridged-story wards to a place where the wall lowered to give a wide berth of the Sea of Ghosts below. Crowds of people, brass robots, and more flocked in crowds around them. Fog blinded the way and steam-powered hovercrafts zoomed above, underneath skylines of stacked clouds on a blue-black evening rippling with raindrops.
"Shouldn't this one be at the temple," slurred a nearby drunk who was slumming his way down the low fenced pier.
"Not today, J’zargo. Helping this urchin right now.” A crease formed between her curved brows.
"Sure, sure. Oysters." The Khajit stooped away, hiccupping. "Mmm, get J’zargo some skooma. Then must find Ancano.”
Krest watched him whisker away, guilt gnawing at his solar plexus. Across them, on the same floating island he’d seen earlier, was the Temple of Dibella. A floating purple orb sat at the boundary of their end of the cliff face. Saadia placed her palm on it, and it glowed a vivid hue of blue that matched the calm sea below, morphing to purple. Saadia took Krest’s hand with her free arm and they apparated.
Arriving on the island, Saadia relinquished him, a system error pop-up blinding the foreground. Krest studied the boney insert and gaunt skin taut over each of his fingers and palm. A sear of what seemed poisonous virus seeped his skull-lining like a hairline fracture. He saw a small Dwemer-domed keep to their left and presumed it was a guardhouse.
“You alright?” Saadia blinked a few times. “What? Never felt a woman’s touch before?”
Krest shook his head vacantly. That’s the first time I’ve held someone’s hand like that. Weird feeling.
“Wait seriously?” Brynjolf’s eyes widened. “Well, you are quite frail and young.”
Saadia laughed harmonically.
Krest narrowed his stare.
The courtyard was decorated with gold and cream-colored tiles forming a platform that had a Dibellan fountain in the middle, her hair serving as the geyser. The temple had two adjoining far buildings, one on either side that conjoined in the middle as a third on which the giant statue sat. Four gardens were broken up by the main square and were embedded in between as well. They entered the house on the lefthand-side, revealing to be a dorm room, marked with individual compartments. Goat-horned candles, torch brackets, and blinds as divisions. Saadia and Brynjolf led Krest to the one closest to the wall. They passed one of the remaining priestesses on the way there...
"Oh hello, Idrasa." Smiled Saadia at the Dunmer.
Krest quirked an eyebrow. She was sitting on her bed, entranced in a book.
“This is Idrasa Relas. I trust her enough to not make a ruckus like the rest.” Saadia turned Krest’s cheek down the hall.
His nerves flared. Saadia opened a door and showed him his room, circumscribed by slate with a greenish-blue bed.
"I'll let you hunker down and get some rest." Saadia closed the tab and her footsteps soon died down the hall. “Come on, Bryn, let’s get some rest.”
Krest dropped his things, locked the door, kicked off his shoes and fell onto the bed, allowing sleep.
~ § ó § ò § ~
A/N: Sorry for the delay, been going through a lot. Also, I lied, Bleak Falls Barrow was in this story heehhee.
Next Episode: The Nursery