There had been a life before her death; that she was sure of. The details however, were blurred. Flashes of faces and places, snippets of conversations, and echoes of feelings all crowded in her mind. With a gasp, the young woman sat up, her vision blurring as the room swam. ‘Slowly now,’ a man’s voice whispered. ‘You’ve been through an ordeal.’
“You’re awake.” That was a woman’s voice. The unknown lifted her head from her hands, which she hadn’t remembered bringing up. As her eyes focused on the figure in front of her, she saw what appeared to be a young Nord woman with shoulder-length blonde hair and piercing ice-blue eyes. “You all right?” the Nord wondered.
“Do I look all right?”
“Well, you look to be in one piece, if a bit on edge. Seems normal to me, given our predicament.” The other woman tilted her head, the blonde’s words not making as much sense as she’d hoped.
“Mind filling me in?” There was anger just beneath the surface, and the question came out clipped and harsh. “And where’s the man who was talking before?”
“You heard him too?”
“…I take it he’s not around here, then?”
“Not unless he’s invisible, and I’ve had my fill of sorcery for the day.”
‘Not to press the issue, ladies, but there is something I must discuss with you both.’ The women both jumped to their feet, eyes darting around the… Cell? ‘Approach the door, and I will answer what questions I can.’ They did so, seeing through the latticework that they were in some sort of prison. And from the yelling that was coming from down the hallway, it seemed there were quite a few more prisoners. A man’s form shimmered into view, what seemed to be ethereal butterflies flitting off from the main image. He was old, dressed in ragged robes and carrying a staff, and his eyes seemed… Off, somehow. ‘Good, I see your ordeal hasn’t completely drained the fight from you.’
“Who are you?”
‘Like you, I am a prisoner here. I am also an Imperial, a mage, and… The Prophet.’ His words caused confusion to the two women, and once again, it was the harsh tone of the second to awake that continued the conversation.
“Speak sense, man,” she demanded. “Prisoners where? What’s going on? The last thing I remember was-” A flash of pain ripped through her chest as she remembered the glint of the dagger as it descended towards her heart. Then there was a grinning, horned skull of a face, and finally, darkness before she awoke with the Nord.
‘Your death?’ the old man finished, sighing a bit. ‘Time is of the essence, but I will answer what I can. You are in Coldharbour, the realm of Molag Bal. Or more accurately, your soul is. You and all the other prisoners here were sacrificed by the Worm Cult led by Mannimarco. But there are those among you who I have seen can thwart the plans of the Lord of Lies. Because of this, I and my companion Lyris Titanborn have come here to free all of you.’
“All of us? How many souls are here?” the Nord wondered.
‘Thousands, though I wager that not all will be able to escape Coldharbour.’
“…You’re appearing to everyone, aren’t you?”
‘You catch on quickly,’ the Prophet praised, a small smile creasing his mouth for a moment. The yelling outside was getting louder and closer, and the image wavered. ‘Follow Durga-sin when he unlocks your door. Get to the armory, and then find Lyris.’ The old man faded out, and the two women looked at one another.
“So, looks like we get a second chance,” the blonde quipped.
“And I’m going to use that chance to get my revenge on this Mannimarco. No one takes my soul and gets away with it.” A hand was suddenly thrust out to her
“Sasha Thin-Ice, from White Run. I’ll watch your back if you watch mine.”
“My name’s Tyrna, from Cyrodiil. And it’s a deal, Sasha.” The two shook hands, and then an Argonian was at the door, quickly working a pick into the lock.
“One moment, and I’ll get you free.” True to his word, the tumblers clicked not a minute later, and the door swung open. “Hurry, to the armory!” They wasted no time, following the other prisoners through the dim corridors. Reaching the armory, Tyrna grabbed a sword and shield while Sasha took possession of a greatsword. Once outside, they saw a very tall woman directing the prisoners, and she spotted them and came over.
“Well now, you two seem eager for blood,” she said with a grin.
“More than eager,” Tyrna retorted, hefting her weapons. “Which way to Molag Bal?” The large woman put a restraining hand on her shoulder.
“Woah there! While you look like you’ve got more meat on your bones than some of these poor bastards, you’re in no way ready to face a Daedric Prince. Right now we have to free the Prophet, and that requires putting out the eyes of the Sentinels and taking out the Daedra guarding this place.”
“We can do that,” Sasha told her.
“Good. I’m Lyris, by the way. Once we’ve blinded Molag Bal, we’re going to be assaulting the inner citadel and hopefully getting back to Tamriel. Meet us at the end of the river when you’re done.” The women nodded, taking off towards a group of Flame Atronachs. As they got closer, they realized the creatures were surrounding a terrified Breton who was clinging to a staff.
“Get away from me!” she screamed.
“Hey fire-heads, pick on someone your own size!” Sasha challenged, charging towards the closest one. Tyrna was right behind her, though she saw that neither of them were going to get there in time to stop one of the Daedra from roasting the girl. However, a dark shape dropped from a nearby rock, the glint of metal in both of its hands, and quickly sliced into the fiery mass. The Atronach gave a scream and dissolved into a pile of fine ash. With Tyrna and Sasha quickly taking out the other two, the group had a moment to breathe. The Breton came up, still shaking a bit.
“Thank you,” she whispered, hands still tightly clutching her staff.
“You are welcome, little one,” the stranger said, coming into the light. A black-furred Khajit grinned at all of them, sheathing his daggers. “This one is not in the habit of letting ladies get burned to cinders.”
“Well, this is turning out to be quite the party,” Sasha teased, looking at them all.
“Party? No. No, they’re not coming with us,” Tyrna immediately shot back.
“Please, I can help you,” the Breton insisted. “My magick is more useful for healing rather than fighting.”
“And this one can sneak around enemies, if you so desire,” the Khajit explained.
“…You all realize that back in Tamriel, we’re all enemies, right?”
“You mean that business with the Pact, Covenant, Dominion, and Cyrodiil claiming neutrality?” the mage girl asked, meeting Tyrna’s gaze. “To be honest, I don’t care that I should hate everyone except those that my people allied with.”
“And a healer would be useful,” Sasha added. “A thief… I’m not so sure.”
“Oh please, “thief” is such a negative word!” the cat-man said in mock-horror. “Nathan’Dar is more a purveyor of items that others do not need at the moment. And he does not take things from those who cannot afford to lose them.”
“So… A noble thief?” Tyrna asked, hands on her hips.
“Just so. If it would help, we can swear an oath that will bind me to you. A pact of our own, if you will,” Nathan’Dar suggested.
“We could all do that.” Sasha clapped the Breton on the back, and she staggered.
“I like how she thinks!” the Nord praised. “A blood oath, then!” Drawing her greatsword, the blonde cut her hand and then held it out to the others. “Come on you milk-drinkers, it’s the only way to do this right.”
“This one is no milk-sop,” Nathan’Dar said, deftly cutting his own palm with his dagger. He handed the blade to the mage, who frowned and then drew the blade over her palm as well. Tyrna hesitated a moment, but when all eyes turned to her, she drew her sword and slashed her hand. They put their hands together, letting the blood mingle.
“Blood brothers and sisters from this moment on,” Sasha told them. “No matter where we came from, no matter what race we are, we will defend each other from all harm. Till the day we are called to Sovngarde, let this oath stand.”
“Let our shared blood bind us, and let no earthly force part us,” the Breton continued. The Khajit grinned broadly.
“This one swears his life to the protection of all of you upon the sands of Elsweyr.” Now it was Tyrna’s turn, and she took a deep breath.
“Upon my Imperial honor, I vow that we will fight together till death,” she finished, a feeling of resolve settling on her. Pulling their hands back, the mage quickly healed them, and then curtsied.
“My name is Alana Breachsealer, from the Kingdom of Wayrest.”
“Well met. I’m Sasha Thin-Ice, and this is Tyrna.”
“The Imperial does not claim a surname?” Nathan’Dar asked, tilting his head.
“I don’t remember it,” she admitted. “I have bits and pieces of memories, but most of my past is a blur. So I couldn’t go home even if I wanted to; not with no knowledge of where I’m going.”
“Well, then let’s get to killing those Sentinels, get this Prophet freed, and get back home,” the Nord told them, starting to head to where a group of prisoners was running towards. “After all, with so many of us, how hard can this be?”
* * *
Tyrna was cursing Sasha’s choice of words not even an hour later. They’d successfully blinded one of the Sentinels, which were essentially huge, disembodied eyes scattered all over the prisoner area. And killing off the Daedra and undead guarding the underground tunnels hadn’t been all that difficult, what with so many of them. No, what had come as the worst part was when Lyris told them that she was to remain behind, and they had to get The Prophet to safety. A few hundred of them remained, and the chamber had been instantly filled with cries of doubt and fear. But the large Nord had simply done as she wished, and now the survivors clustered in the chamber where Molag Bal conjured the Dark Anchors that were threatening Nirn. “I will open a portal back home, but I cannot guarantee where it will deposit all of you. But wherever you find yourselves, know that I will find you as quickly as I can, either in the flesh or in visions. Some of you might discover you are in lands far from home, and in hostile territory. Do not fear. Trust in your own abilities to see you through, and join up with others when you find them. There is safety in numbers, and Molag Bal cannot defeat us all.”
“So we just hop in this portal and hope for the best?!” shouted a female Breton with a greatsword strapped to her back. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” A female Bosmer next to her held her hand tightly, but her soft words were lost to the others.
“Hope is all we’ve got,” an Imperial woman shot back. “Right now, we’re Nirn’s only chance against the schemes of the Worm Cult and Molag Bal. If we fail, there will be no one to save our friends and families.”
“She’s right,” Tyrna continued. “We may all have been taken by surprise the first time, but now we’re in this for vengeance.”
“To Skyrim then, and let the Daedra fear us!” Sasha cheered.
“For the Skarl-King!” came an answering shout.
“For Queen Ayrenn!” responded another group.
“For the Covenant!” yet a third cry erupted.
“For Nirn, and its continued existence,” The Prophet intoned as a wave of power flooded into the Anchors. “Quickly now, and remember what has been said here!” He disappeared into the bright energy, and group of prisoners began streaming to one of the three active Anchors. Tyrna saw the Breton who had questioned The Prophet leap into the Anchor opposite theirs, still holding tightly to the Bosmer girl. The Imperial who had spoken sense grabbed tight to a mage girl and jumped into the Anchor her group was nearest. Nathan’Dar tapped Tyrna’s shoulder and pointed.
“This one thinks that we might be better off following that one. She seems to be reasonable, and the more people we have, the better off we will be.”
“I’m all for that plan,” Alana agreed, holding tight to the Khajit’s hand.
“Then grab hold of each other and take a deep breath,” Tyrna ordered, her extended arms being clasped by Sasha and Nathan’Dar. The four of them stood at the edge of the portal, feeling the wild, crackling magick all around them. “If we get separated, find other refugees, and pray to whatever Divines you wish that we meet again. But Eight willing, I’ll see you three on the other side.” Then they jumped, and pain lanced through them. Tyrna felt her grip slipping, but Sasha clamped down even harder.
“Shor’s bones!” was the last thing the Imperial heard before darkness took her.