Tales of a Seeker - Chapter V: The Hunt

  • As the mighty horned beast burst forth from the roaring flames Yamurn stepped back, many of the Forsworn were on their knees, some murmuring quietly under their breath in some kind of prayer to the Father of Manbeasts. Cinders were raining from the sky, painting the air with tiny flecks of dying flame that illuminated the darkness of the camp outside of the reach of the bonfire. Abelia looked up swiftly at Yamurn and hissed through her teeth


    "Knees!" Yamurn, as reluctant was he was, fell to his knees before the figure. The beast roared his demand


    "Mortals!" his voice boomed across the night, the very shadows seemed to recoil at the sound "The hunt has come! My subjects, I demand the hide of my werechild, Sevarius Perenus he has neglected his gift and has held back his transformations for many moons by means of magic, his time for death has come... He is within Markarth city, my subjects, you must lure him out for his resistance will shatter this night and his inner beast shall be released!" the Forsworn cheered, throwing pelts and wood upon the fire, as if in an attempt to please Hircine "This is my desire! Your deadline is tomorrow, may the Bloodmoon bless your hunt!" Hircine cried and burst into a million embers that fell from the sky like warm rain. Yamurn looked on, unimpressed, the Forsworn were murmuring amongst themselves and Abelia slowly rose beside him, suddenly a Forsworn yelled 


    "Send the prisoners!", a few seconds later he was joined by several other voices all demanding "Send the prisoners!" the Hagraven squawked, louder than the others


    "The prisoners shall be sent! They shall be our hunters! But, we shall send one of our number with them to hunt the beast... One of our kin who has not yet seen their first hunt, a newblood!" the Forsworn cheered and the prisoners were brought forward, Yamurn amongst them, some of the prisoners were resisting being brought before the Hagraven, but Yamurn knew better, he obeyed, striding forwards; this didn't stop the Forsworn pushing him further, however. The Hagraven squinted at them, Yamurn knew full well that Hagravens were relatively blind as he had studied their behaviour in one of his years at the College of Winterhold. The Hagraven cawed loudly "Three prisoners! Three to send upon the hunt!" the elder Forsworn that were gathered near the Hagraven were murmuring amongst themselves in low voices, finally they turned to the Hagraven and spoke two words, the Hagraven nodded and cried to the onlookers "Abelia Heartstone will be their guide!" the Forsworn cheered once more, Abelia's face fell much to Yamurn's surprise, he had thought her as savage and bloodthirsty as her kin, it did not appear so...


    Abelia was called before the Hagraven, where she received her blessing

    "If they try to escape, shoot them dead with your bow." she hissed to Albelia. Yamurn watched on with the other prisoners in silence, one of the Prisoners, an Imperial was blubbering to himself 


    "No, no, no... This is a bad dream, a bad dream... Nonono..." he sobbed quietly, much to Yamurn's annoyance. The third prisoner, a Nord, stared vacantly, his eyes were tinted red, a Skooma addict, Yamurn thought. Abelia soon stood before the three prisoners, who were each given a sword of Forsworn make, Yamurn looked at the blade skeptically, unimpressed by the shoddy craftsmanship.


    By the time the moon was at it's highest the group of four was making their way towards Markarth, Yamurn was displeased, his staff was back at the camp, there was no way he'd be seeing it again. Abelia led them forward silently, Yamurn had a small victory in that they were heading for Markarth, he could ditch the group and run to the temple, assuming he could escape the poison-tipped arrows that Abelia had, however, he doubted very much that she'd use them by her reaction to being chosen to hunt.

    A few hours later, the Skooma addicted Nord fell to his knees, breathing heavily in such a way that it sounded like snarling, all of a sudden he drew his blade and with a maddened scream, impaled himself on it. The Imperial yelped and fell to his hands and knees, scrambling away like a distressed babe in case the Nord lashed out, but no, the man simply lay there twitching and bleeding out as his crazed breathing began to fade, he mumbled a single word


    “Maria…” and then lay still. Yamurn watched solemnly and mumbled


    "Exactly why you shouldn't take Skooma..." Abelia nodded, looking at the corpse with a look of mourning, as if she had known him. The Imperial stood, shaking and Abelia turned away


    “Come, we have little time.” She didn’t seem very sincere to Yamurn, but he followed nonetheless, the way he saw it, this was a free escort to Markarth. Yamurn was intrigued by the way the fair-haired young girl walked, she listened to the trees, she watched the undergrowth, she felt the presence of the birds and walked accordingly, she was in tune with the world, unlike Yamurn who simply walked whilst absorbed in his own thoughts with little regard for the creatures around him. Finally, he spoke up


    “You seem reluctant to do this.” He stated gruffly, Abelia turned to him and nodded, staring him down with her icy blue eyes


    “Killing is not in my nature, that is why I have done my best to avoid hunting like my kin, even though my clan’s patron is Lord Hircine… I don’t want to kill, I want to live and let live…” she mumbled, Yamurn scratched his pale green forehead and responded


    “Then why? Why not run away and not go back?” Abelia shook her head and said


    “The Old Gods have mysterious ways of catching up with you… As do my people, the Children of the Reach. Surely, Orc, you know that better than most? Does your clan not wish you to live a certain way?” Yamurn looked to the ground, his clan?


    “I have no clan, my mother and father were both travelling city Orcs, my father died in the Great War, I never knew him… My mother a decade later, when I was nine, from Typhoid Fever. Since then, I was raised in Honorhall Orphanage in Riften, when I was of age, I travelled from there to the College of Winterhold to study magic…” Yamurn said solemnly, he didn’t feel emotion usually, but talking about his parents parted the stone of his heart if only just, it hurt.


    “I see… Yours is not a happy life…” Abelia replied, then said afterwards “Not the most dignifying death for an Orc, Typhoid Fever, if what little I know about Orcs is correct” Abelia said, she didn’t seem to be mocking, but a type of anger he didn’t know he had sparked in Yamurn, but the Orsimer set his teeth as he held back his primal impulses to lash out and he simply replied, suppressing his unusual anger


    “No, no  it is not…”


    The trio walked on in silence for a time, Abelia seemed to hum along to the song of the nocturnal birds and insects in a pleasing melody that could only come from the benevolent earth they walked upon. Light was soon visible in the distance and the shape of Markath’s mighty wall could be made out as the sun, not quite above the mountains, turned the sky into a canvas of blues, pinks, purples and oranges, even Yamurn had to admire the beauty of it, stern though he was. The silence was broken, however, by a loud, unmistakable howl from the direction of the wall, Yamurn and Abelia exchanged glances and the Imperial whimpered to himself, taking a few steps back; the hunt begins.