The Bounty Chronicles: Ch. 8

*~Sorine Jurard~*

“Alright Argonian, what I would like now would be an explanation,” I said.

That someone at random would come up to me and speak of Isran and his group of Dawnguard, than a lecture is definitely needed. That man’s methods never really sat well with me or anyone else for that matter. Always extreme, always on edge that it was enough to drive even Celann up the wall.

This Argonian standing before me was already getting to me; he looked like he was sizing me up. If that was truly the case then, for his young age, by the looks of him, the lizard was more studious than his tough guy demeanor gave off.

He gave a nod in response. “Very well then. I was hired by Isran because of my expertise of bounty hunting.”

“Wait a second. He hired you?”

“That is correct Sorine. Xian-Krie,” he introduced with the slightest of bows.

“Xian…! As in the Dragonborn?” My stance and expression turned into one of curiosity. “You are not trying to trick me, are you?”

“This one thinks you would be smart enough to see if he was.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You seem a step above the people I deal with. You have seen battle and know how to talk when it is a necessity.”

“And you gain that just by examining me for these brief moments we have spoken,” I remarked, crossing my arms.

“I’m a quick study.”

“And you look young for being the Dragonborn,” I remarked at the lizard. “Just how old then?”

His tail started to sway back and forth and his arms folded across his chest. “Does that even matter right now?”

“Not really,” I shrugged. “Curiosity got the better of me.”

“I see.”

This was becoming a bit more awkward for me than what I truly wanted. So I changed the subject to get back on track.

“You said vampires have an Elder Scroll.” That got his attention again. “How do you know that they do?”

“The one I rescued from Dimhollow had it. She wanted to go home and I took her there.”

“Xian,” I said a bit flabbergasted, “why would you do that?”

His eyes narrowed with a seeming glare. “Because killing her was not in my contract with Isran. And besides, she’s different.”

I could see his expression soften even mentioning that. Did something happen between them?

“Being close to a vampire is not a very clever idea… Xane.”

He grumbled at the nickname. “One on the juvenile names whispered to idiots around a camp fire, surrounded by bandits,” he groaned. “And this one reiterates, she was different.”

Did he know he described her as both ‘is different’ and ‘was different’? I truly became more intrigued but kept that little secret to myself.

“It is my life. None of the concern falls to you.”

“Look,” I replied as empathetically as I could, “I am only doing so because you bounty hunters tend to work alone. No back up or anything.”

The black lizard gave a sigh and sent his sight to the ground. “Thanks then.”

“You’re welcome I suppose. But that does not mean I still trust what you or Isran have in store for me. As before, he said some hurtful things before I took my leave and it’s been hard to even speak about him since.”

“Don’t wish to know the details on that matter,” he said with the wave of an open palm.

“Wasn’t going to give you them anyhow. But I bet I can guess why that Redguard wants my help. My tinkering skills and work as a crossbow archer.”


“Always was.” Turning to see what became of Calcelmo, the old wizard had returned to his magical studies. I inwardly sighed, knowing the Elf enjoyed to dive nose first into any literature about the Dwemer or magic. “Look, I’ll come with you back to Isran’s little fort but not before I receive a pair of schematics from the court mage.”

“That is fine Sorine.”

“Come on, no reason for you not to be near. You’ll be within earshot anyway.” Heading for his desk that sat near the edge of a short cliff with running water, Calcelmo looked up. “So are you ready to hold up your end of the bargain?”



“Why? I did exactly as you had asked!” I crossed my arms in exasperation. Finding all those Dwemer gears for his museum was no easy task. What more could the old bastard want?

“I know you did as I asked, but I feel as if I need more.” Bony fingers tapped against his chin in thought. “And I know exactly what that is.”

“Then speak,” Xian remarked with a low hiss. From the corner of my eye, I could see the tip of his tail creep back and forth. It was in a very similar fashion that the wolves of Skyrim did before pouncing on prey.

“What I speak of is a certain spider in the city of Nchuand-Zel. Specifically the excavation site.”

“What’s so special about this arachnid?” Xian asked. Now his face was absolutely flushed with curiosity, in a business-deal way.

“Well, she was nothing more than a nuisance when small. However as time went by, many of the guards and architects that went into the sight complained about her trying to take their supplies with her webbing.”

“Sounds benign. Guessing this harmless play didn’t last long?”

“Yes, my young friend,” Calcelmo said with a point. “Nimhe, that’s what I and many others have taken to calling her, quickly grew into a large predator. In fact she grew very quickly to the point where the people going into the excavation site turned into her newest meals.”

Xian smiled. “Haven’t met anything that can take me down yet. Heh, that’ll be the day however…”

“You boast now Xian,” I said. “But what happens when you meet a challenge that you cannot overcome?”

“Then I use what I can to escape or die.”

Well that was grim.

Calcelmo continued on. “As much as I hate to ask, I would like you to take care of her. She has made any attempt to get into the city of Nchuand-Zel impossible.”

“If this will allow you give Sorine the schematics she wants I’ll do what you ask.”

“Thank you,” he smiled wearily.

“I’ll join,” I chimed in. “Someone to watch in case you slip up.”

“I do not slip up,” he groaned. Xian didn't answer on my joining him, staying silent and turning around to head for the doors. So I tried to follow.

As we set off for the site, an ‘mmm’ sound from the Altmer stopped the both of us.

“What is it?” I asked him.

“Well,” he began, “it’s about Nimhe. She’s… different from your average Frostbite Spider. She’s special.”

“Special how?” Xian asked.

“Being bigger than what a large Frostbite would be.”

“Shit… anything else?”

“Uhh….” He started to rub his temples to try and bring the memory forth. Xian and I looked to one another until he finally spoke up. “I’m sorry I don’t remember.”

“That’s alright. How much trouble could one spider be?” I asked.

“Doubt very much,” Xian agreed, nodding his head. “This one will return shortly.”

“Hold a moment.” I placed a quick hand on his shoulder, forcing the hunter to stop. “You’re just going to go in willy-nilly?”

“There’s isn’t much of an option now is there?” He had a point. “Calcelmo, where is the excavation site?”

“Oh, over there.” The old mage pointed to the opposite end of the room. A stair case wound its way to two large golden doors, made from the same metal that all Dwemer machinery, weapons, and more were made of. “Now be careful with Nimhe. She can be a bit… aggressive.”

“I am used to aggression.” Xian bowed his head ever so slightly, something one could miss if they were not looking. “The spider will be dealt with accordingly.”

“Not without me,” I interjected.

“Out of the question Sorine. Too risky.” Xian crossed his arms and shot a look of defiance my way.

“And why is it ‘out of the question’ exactly? It is due to the spider?”

“Not entirely.”

“Do I need to prove myself to you somehow?” One way or another I was going to go with him. Facing a genetically altered spider without knowing what has been changed could spell the death of him. As much as he didn’t represent the Dragonborn in Nordic legend, Skyrim still needed him.

“This has nothing to do with your skill at arms,” Xian retorted with growing impatience. His tail twitched once again. “This has to deal with you are a bounty.”

“I’m sorry. I’m a ‘bounty’?” I grew angry at the very notion. How dare him! “Is that all I am right now?! A payment?”

“Yes.” There was no hesitation in his voice. He truly meant that.

“I am more than capable Argonian!” My shouting caused Calcelmo to jump slightly and move back to his little affairs away from us. “I have delved into dangerous Dwemer ruins long before you were probably born!”

“As impressive as that may be,” he started, bringing a finger to his chin, “you are payment I cannot afford to lose.”

I was about to let loose another point in my favor and skill when a gracious idea hit me. If I am a payment to him then that means he has to follow me to make sure no harm befalls my fate. Even if I have to face a larger than large spider I doubt we would have much difficulty doing so.

Oh Sorine you sly devil, I mused with a smile.

Xian narrowed his eyes at the grin. “What are you planning woman?”

I turned and thanked Calcelmo for the directions to go and headed that way.

As predicted, the Dragonborn stopped me.

“What in the name of Oblivion are you doing?”

“Heading for Nimhe of course.” I put on my best innocent face possible.

“I said no!”

“Yes, well… about that. There’s a flaw that you have to follow.”

“What?!” He was incredulous. And maybe a bit livid.

“You see, I’m the ‘bounty’, as you put it,” I began. “So that means wherever I go, you go. To make sure I am kept safe and all that.”

His balled his fists, the tension great enough to almost have his claws draw blood. He knew, deep down, I was correct. Xian just did not want to admit it.

“You…! Gods dammit!”

“What?” I asked innocently once more. “I’m only stating the truth. And I will not be swayed by your way of ‘peaceful’ negotiations of staying put.”

The black lizard could only steam for what seemed like minutes until he finally spoke up.

“Fine. But you WILL stay behind me when facing Nimhe!”

“Agreed,” I nodded.

Giving Xian a little time to cool off, we headed for the great golden doors. Despite their large size, it surprisingly was not that difficult to open them. When we did that it was like a whole other world. My new Argonian friend and I were greeted with a long tunnel made from carved rock and metal. It was mostly straight with some turns here and there but the walk was still lengthy. From the ceiling of the path, a light source was hung here and there as to keep the shadows at bay.

The two of us traveled in silence until I tried to break some of the ice that permeated the air between us.

“May I ask you something Xian?”

“What is it?” Walking side-by-side with the brute of the lizard. He looked nearly identical to a Nord warrior. He seemed prepared for a plethora of situations as well, what with the vials along his belt.

“Why a bounty hunter?”

“Huh?” He raised a curved horned brow at me.

“I mean, why did you become a bounty hunter in the first place?”

“That is a long story that I will not tell someone I just met. Instead I will just say it gives me a certain thrill.” His voice became a bit husk with what seemed like pleasure to me.

It was my turn to look at him questioningly. “What do you mean by ‘certain thrill’?”

“It’s fascinating to see my targets, man, mer, animal or even vampire or werewolf, fight all out for their life. The risk of death for either of us is highly.” The black Argonian chuckled. “As I am here, I still draw breath.”

“You hunt vampires too?”

“My area is many, if not nearly all, of the creatures that can be found in Skyrim. I also know many details of plants and animals in Cyrodiil and Black Marsh.” Xian cracked a small smile at his boast.

My eyes widened a little. “Wow. You’ve been busy then, huh?”

“You could say that.”

“But why do it? Not every encounter with the same kind of foe will be the same.”

Xian scuffed. “I am going to let my willingness to uphold my study of creatures and man speak for itself while it dawns on you.”

It took a few moments but he was right, the logic hitting my upside the head like a warhammer. He could learn the weaknesses and strengths of the each species. Despite every man, mer, and creature being different, being from the same kind they’d share common weak points. Xian would then study on those as well as their strengths and counter them with efficiency.

Craft, clever lizard.

I smiled. “Ok, now I have to say it again. You’re a busy man.”

“This one thanks you,” he chuckled.

Our traveling down the path continued. It was unknown at the time but I swear I felt his eyes gaze my backside.

“Something you see catch your eye?” I asked with a bit of harshness. My arm was ready to reach out and slap him across the face.

“Your weapon. It is… a crossbow correct?”

“Oh.” The fight was instantly gone from my body and I felt foolish for even thinking that happened. “Y-yea it’s a crossbow. Have you never seen one?”

“Only crude sketches in my travels. You are an archer?”

“Yes,” I smiled. “I am indeed. I could teach you too, if you so wished.”

“Ha! I’m a master archer Sorine. More than likely, so are you,” he placed a hand over his mouth in a laugh.

“You don’t have to laugh about my offering… and wouldn’t you rather try a crossbow to a bow? I find them easier to handle.”

“However much stronger the crossbow may be, I would not trade for one.” He patted an arm of the bow for emphasis.

From my vantage point, I could see it was black and made from wood like that of a regular hunting bow. But those bows were normally made from simple wood. Xian’s bow appeared to be made from ebony wood. The metal along the arms was something I have never seen anyone have.

“What is with the metal on the arms, if you do not mind me asking?” Just how long was this tunnel? I felt like we’d been walking for half an hour.

“The ebony metal?” How much ebony does this lizard have on one bow?! “This one uses his bow like a melee weapon. Foes don’t see it coming. Works well in stopping swords and axes as well.”

I smiled a little. “Ingenious of you.”

“I am proud of it too,” he smirked back.

We resumed our way deeper into the tunnel before, at long last, coming to a large cavern. Torches were lit on the stone walls, the light reflecting slightly against the silk that clung to the ceiling and ground.

Wait a second, silk?!

Immediately Xian started to examine the closest patch of the soft material. He played with it for a little bit before replying, “It’s Frostbite Spider silk. Nimhe is nearby.”

“How can you tell it’s nearby?” I frowned.

“The silk is fresh.” As if on cue the two of us heard a low rumble mixed with what sounded like wet tearing. “Nimhe’s close. Very close.” He began to lead me forward, ever closer to the increasing now screeching and ripping. Even behind him I could tell Xian was being cautious.

Together we drew our weapons and loaded them, ready for anything. Traversing up the stone stairs and around the corner there she was.

“My Gods,” we said together in shock.

It was a sight.

Several yards before us was a giant Frostbite Spider. Nimhe, it had to be her. But she looked so different from a regular one of her species. Black chitin covered her entire body replacing the regular blue and brown of others. Wicked edges along her eight legs looked sharp enough to shred anything that it became entangled with.

Even the thorax looked more menacing than usual. I appeared to be slightly smaller than normal; it still had the appropriate spinneret at the very end. That did not make me feel any better.

Being behind her didn’t make us feel any better. But Xian was keeping a cool disposition.

“Aim and fire for her,” he said casually in a low voice.

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” I whispered in agreement.

Our weapons creaked in unison at the strings were drawn back and fired. The arrow and bolt sailed near silently, straight and true, towards Nimhe’s thorax and one of her legs. The finally hit the creature dead on their marks.

Only to fall uselessly to the cold, hard ground.

Xian and I stared at each other in bewilderment, not needing anything to see what the other was thinking. Maybe. I know I was thinking something along the lines of, ‘But how?!’ The Dragonborn, even from the brief information he stated of himself, I felt I knew he was thinking, ‘That’s new.’

Nimhe turned around, each legs pegging into the ground to create a low ting. Her mandibles opened to reveal her open maw which seemed to water at the sight of her two potential next meals. She stood there making the same rumbling noise that her kind was known for.

“Once more,” I said reloading the crossbow.

Xian didn’t argue but a quick glance to him showed me how futile he knew it would be. Again our projectiles flew for the spider to impact harmlessly against Nimhe’s exoskeleton. As they hit the ground the spider seemingly moved her mandibles from side to side. It I didn’t know any better I’d say the insect was laughing at us.

The arachnid lunged after us, her speed unprecedented with her species. If it wasn’t for Xian pushing me away, I would have been stabbed at by a foreleg. How fast were Xian’s reactions?!

The spider turned her attention to the biggest threat in her vicinity and began to swipe and spit at the ebony scaled Argonian. He used everything in his being to dodge Nimhe’s surprisingly quick attacks.

“Do not,” Xian shouted between avoiding maneuvers, “get lax now! Use everything to dodge and attack, Sorine!” He tossed his bow to the side and grabbed a dagger from his boot when it was close enough. He gave it a swing as an opening presented itself. The blade of the weapon did little more than scratch the chitin. All that seemed to do was irritate the spider even more.

Getting up from the dirt I decided to try something a little different. If Nimhe’s chitin defended well against the projectiles and dagger, what would happen if it was bashed in by something heavy? Like the butt of my crossbow. My idea was sound but it only needed testing to be proven either way.

As the modified spider was distracted by the ever dodging Argonian, he had no other choice, I charged forward with my bow raised. Successfully making it to Nimhe, I brought the bow down with as much strength as I could muster against her natural armor.

She let out a screech of pain as an indention appeared on the midsection; green blood oozed free and dropped like rain to the floor. In retaliation, and in my distraction, Nimhe lashed out with a leg, cutting my armor and pushing me to the ground once again. I rolled once again on the ground, groaning in discomfort but thankful the serrated points of the leg did not draw blood.

The black spider saw an opportunity in her eight eyes at her new prey laying on the ground. Arcing a leg in Xian’s direction he was forced to jump back and avoid any potential damage. He wasn’t fast enough as the serrated edges of the leg clawed its way down his armor. The impact sent him sliding backward further away from the insect. There was a shallow scratch in Xian’s armor and blood beginning to swell on his leg.

The Argonian was panting and seemed desperate as the spider closed in. 


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  • A few typos here and there but very well written. Good job
  • I wish this is how the player actually met Sorine in game. So much more entertaining than helping this hapless woman find a gyro sitting literally 10 ft away from here.
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