The Last Witch Hunters: Chapter Nine

  • Seden rose slowly from the creaking wooden stool he’d been camped on for the evening, he looked towards the door of the stable and saw the lack of light shining through the thin cracks in the door, an hour earlier the Stable master had come in, saw Seden was still there so had quickly gone to his room, where he’d remained for the rest of the night. Seden had decided it was time he made his way back to the city, he couldn’t avoid it forever. He looked down at the circular wooden table, balancing delicately on its thin, frail stand. Planted in the dead centre of the circular furniture was a fat candle, beneath the spire of wax a rusty iron candle holder had once been visible, now the dripping wax had leaked over the sides of the metal device , forming a white base around the bottom. The candle was still light and was bent drastically to one side, as if bowing to Seden and kissing the surface of the table, its flame illuminated the room with a warm orange glow lighting up the air and revealing the drifting pieces of dust that floated around the room. Seden quenched the flame by pressing his forefinger against the wick and squeezing his thumb against it on the other side and extinguishing the light with a soft hiss.

    He hobbled towards the door, stretching his calves as he walked, trying to shake off the cramp that had built up in his legs from the lack of movement they’d received, creaking open the door he contemplated informing the stable master of his departure but decided against the idea, the sound of the door opening and closing would be enough of an audible sign that he’d left. Seden creaked the warped wooden door open and closed it behind him, making sure it made a loud enough sound to be heard by the stable master whose home he’d sheltered in. Stepping into the night he glumly noted the absence of a carriage outside, he didn’t regret not travelling with Shawk on to Winterhold but he still wished Shawk had stayed in Winterhold, after thirty years he’d been re-united with his old friend only to have him turn his back on Seden and walk out on him at least an hour later, it wasn’t what Seden would have hoped for. Seden walked towards the gates and saw the two guards step out barring his path. “Halt there, pirate!” One of the guards spat, he wore an acorn shaped helmet that sat on top his shoulders, covering all his features other than to eye holes that displayed the tired, weary brown eyes of their owner. The guards were usually friendly with Seden, he traded many hard to come by supplies with the city; sugar, ale, silks, tea and many other supplies he’d embezzled from merchant ships in the Sea of Ghosts, Seden also carried out many Naval contracts in the name of the Stormcloaks, there was an obvious reason the guards not were now stopping him and Seden knew what they were about to say. 
    “Nearly three hours ago you burst through these gates nearly knocked them off their hinges. Iron gates don’t get knocked off their hinges by normal men now, do they captain!” His face may have been covered but Seden knew he was smiling underneath; the guards held a hatred for Seden, he thought he was above the law just because he did a few contracts for the Jarl; they would relish any chance to punish him.

    “We both saw how fast you moved Seden, nothing holy has powers like that, what sort of magic and witchcraft do you possess?” The second guard snapped, instead of the acorn style helmet that the other guard wore he instead was protected by a horned helmet, it was a basic iron crown connected by thick layers of hide that served as a base for the twin curved horns that raced upwards from the helmet. The exposed back of the guards neck was protected by a large leather flap that hung from the iron frame and wrapped its way around the back of the guardsmen’s head and neck, the leather was studded with a range of different metals, whatever the smith had been able to scrounge up at the time; iron, steel, tin, copper and other compounds of metals that had served as household items; the rebels had a lack of arms and equipment and used whatever they could scrounge up.

    Seden laughed at the guard, despite the rituals and magic he’d used to hide his curse he always prepared in the event of a relapse. “Magic… witchcraft; I believe you gentlemen have had one to many bottles of mead!” He smiled at the two guardsmen.

    The horned guard stepped towards Seden; he was a head shorter but stood on his tiptoes so his eyes reached level with the vampire’s nostrils, Seden could feel his hot breath against his chin, heavy, deep breathing. He listened to the pattern of breathing; using acute hearing more sensitive than any normal mans, he heard the slight wheezing of breath, the man had a collapsed lung; three broken ribs would be the required injury to cause so much damage, judging by the man’s age Seden guessed he had received the injury during The Great War. “Jarl Ulfric doesn’t look fondly on magic, I’m sure he’ll be enraged to hear his favourite little lap dog is a sorcerer!”

    “What will you tell Jarl Ulfric, huh?” Seden lowered his voice into a menacing growl staring deeply into the guards eyes. “That I’m a sorcerer because I ran… quickly, whilst chasing the man who murdered my friend, whilst you two did nothing to stop the murderer, the Jarl values me too much to believe two drunken guards!”

    “You keep saying that we’re drunk, sorcerer.” The guard spat, his spittle landing on Seden’s beard, “But I haven’t drunk mead in two days and there are two of us against the word of a sorcerer!”

    Seden reached behind his back and pressed his palm against a luke warm glass bottle, he tapped his nail against the glass testing how much liquid was inside then he slid his finger up to the top of the bottle and popped the cork off, the smell of ale filled Seden’s finely tuned nostrils, “How can you claim to not be drunk when your both fast asleep and covered in ale?” The horned guard turned and gave a puzzle look to his ally, whilst the guard was distracted Seden took a step back, clenching his fist, as the horned guard turned to face Seden again he was met with a hard blow to the unprotected part of his forehead causing his unconscious body to slump to the floor. The other guard’s heavy helmet would prevent any knock out blows but before he could react Seden shot forward using his speed advantage and gripped the bottom of the helmet with his fingers, he flicked the heavy piece of iron upwards throwing it into the snow before using the same fist in a swift uppercut, forcing the guards body to crash to the floor, all the while his left hand was behind his back; cradling the glass bottle.

     Seden looked over his shoulder, it was purely an act of habit; his enhanced hearing provided him with the means to sense if there was anyone observing. Once he was sure nobody had witnessed the act he moved the two guards close together and propped them against the wall as if they were sleeping, he then proceeded to empty the contents of the bottle of ale down the front of the guards tunics, and for good measure emptied the rest of the liquid into both of their mouths, standing back he admired his handiwork, not satisfied with the unmasked guards position he moved him slightly and put his helmet down next to his sleeping body, then he planted the empty glass bottle in the horned guards hand and stepped back again, this time he was happy with the result and gave himself a small nod of satisfaction, no matter how much the guards pleaded they’d been attacked nobody would believe them.

    Seden pushed open the giant gates letting out a loud screeching sound as they scraped along the floor, ploughing up a small mountain of snow as they went. After a few agonisingly long seconds there was a gap big enough for him to slip through and he proceeded back into the city. As soon as he was through the gates he looked up at Candlehearth Inn, its rickety shape was silhouetted against the twin moons directly behind it, walking up the steps he saw a guard outside the inn, “Captain!” The guard stepped forward; his face was shrouded in a large fur hood that was connected to a thick brown cloak wrapped around his Stormcloak attire. “Guards have been looking for you; it’s about Garog… she’s…” The guard hesitated, reluctant to be the one to inform Seden of his friend’s death.

    “I already know guardsmen, I was there when it happened, I chased the killer but he escaped.”

    “Damn grey skins, this is there doing… It’s a bloody plot to usurp the throne!” Like most Stormcloaks the guard held a bitter resentment towards the refugees living in this cold city.

    Despite knowing the fact the assassin was a Dunmer, Seden was reluctant to share the knowledge with the city guard; they would look for any excuse to set off on a holocaust against the Dunmer in the city and the fact one dark elf had killed three people was more than a good enough reason for them.

    “Are the bodies still inside?” Seden asked, changing the topic quickly.

    The guard hesitated a moment, he wasn’t supposed to share information with civilians but despite not liking the shady pirate he felt for him at this moment and knew that the captain was a friend of the Jarl. “Aye, got the town surgeon poking around the corpses, no respect for the dead that one, he’s cutting open the bodies like a bloody butcher!”

    This set off a flare of anger in Seden’s eyes, Garog had already suffered a death she’d considered bad and now her corpse was being desecrated, he looked to the guard. “May I go in, pay my respects?”

    The guard hesitated briefly again, and then nodded quickly, “Go on, but don’t do course any trouble.”

    Seden lifted the corners of his mouth in a weak smile of thanks towards the guard before entering the inn. The entrance room was dimly lit, twisted shadows crawled across the floor towards the feet of the two soldiers stood guard, they were both examples of the rebels lack of supplies and men; the tallest of the two guards was dressed in a simple brown tunic that he’d worn as a farmer before joining the rebels his face was covered behind another of the acorn styled helmets and he held a wooden club in one hand with a rusty iron nail pierced through the tip of the club, his left wrist was loosely strapped to a small buckler that looked like it had once served as the base to a stool, it was now painted blue with the Stormcloak symbol crudely etched into its surface. The other guard wore a ragged fur jacket that was two sizes to small, beneath the fur was a hint of flimsy chainmail poking through holes in the jacket, at his waste a woodcutters axe was tied to his belt, impossible to untie in a hurry therefore an irrelevant weapon to have in a fight, gripped tightly in his soft hands was a fine steel sword, judging by its immaculate condition and the amount of care put into maintaining its condition Seden guessed it was a family heirloom.

    The two guards stumbled forward to confront Seden then realised that there was already a guard positioned on watch outside and if he’d let the shaggy haired pirate in it was with good reason. Seden passed the guards with little more than a brief nod of acknowledgment before stopping in his tracks, his throat began to dry up as he looked at the scene presented to him; he saw the deep, crimson hole in the table where the assassins arrow must have pinned the innkeeper to the wood, her body now removed for autopsy, at his feet he registered the blood splatter belonging to the assassin, now corrupted with the footprint of a guard planted in the centre of it. The walk down the corridor seemed to take forever, he saw the two bodies lay only a couple doors own however he didn’t seem to get any closer and his eyes began to sting as he held back the tears, Garog’s body had been pushed to the side to clear space for the physician to properly examine the Dunmer’s corpse. The physician was dressed in a simple white tunic that remained in immaculate condition, the tunic was covered by a long brown coat that hung from his shoulders and stretched down to his knees, and the coat had a specially made strap attached to it that held several scalpels and other tools. Seden watched in a daze as the physician hastily drew a thin line down the middle of the Dunmer’s chest using a sharp razor, he showed the body little respect as he peeled back the grey flesh to examine its gory entrails, there was no need for an autopsy; the cause of death was apparent and Seden guessed the physician didn’t really know what he was doing, he was paid to cut open bodies and state the obvious.

    Walking forward Seden place his hand on the Nord’s shoulder and smiled warmly at him, “Couldn’t give me a moment alone with this one, she’s a friend.” Seden indicated to Garog’s body.

    The physician was glad of the excuse to finish work early and looked fondly at Seden, his face was small and wry and two beady eyes looked up at Seden with a thin beak-like nose below them. “My investigation has deduced that these two bodies were shot from a close range of less than a meter, the shooters were likely directly in front of the victims and I believe there were numerous shooters who forced their way inside the inn, my knowledge of crime scenes indicates that the fatal shots were…”

    Seden cut him off with the wave of a hand, “Single shooter already inside the inn firing from the entrance.”

    The physician scoffed and rose to his feet, “Please Mr…” He paused waiting for a name then realised he wasn’t going to be answered and continued. “I’m an expert at murder investigations, solved some of the most famous crimes across Windhelm, I’d like to see what evidence has led you too believe such wild impossibilities!”

    “Evidence…” Seden smiled wryly, “I saw it happen. And I can tell this is your first murder investigation.”

    “My first?” The physician bleated in outrage, “How dare you I am in fact the…”

    Seden cut him off for the second time, “Your equipment is brand new, still coated in a layer of wax to make it look shinier in stores, your hands were shaking when you made the incisions and you didn’t make the correct cut, you’re also working on an investigation of the murders of two foreigners, Ulfric wouldn’t send an expert out to solve the murder of a dark elf… I could go on?”

    The physician turned scarlet with embarrassment, “No-No-No!” He chorused, “Its fine I’ll leave you two alone and be off, time to get my pay anyway!” he rubbed his hands together involuntarily before turning on his heel and marching towards the door.

    Seden waited until the physician had walked away before he dropped to one knee beside the lifeless body of his friend. There where no words left to be said to the Orsimer and Seden simply knelt by her side for what seemed like an age, but in reality was a matter of minutes. The weary pirate moved his sweaty, sea hardened palms towards Garogs tunic and pulled down the collar exposing a thick leather chord, he pulled the necklace free from his fallen companions neck and inspected the small wooden token connected to the strap, it was a circular piece of driftwood, the size of a Septim. Printed onto its surface was the image of a large Brig with remarkable similarities towards Sedens own vessel, The Flying Viper and the whole token was decorated with various shades of red and green war paint, native to Orsinium. Seden smiled sadly at the necklace before stringing it around his throat so he could always remembered his old friends sacrifice. 

    He looked back up at the body of Garog, only now did he realise there was very little he’d ever known about the woman, he had no idea what she would want to be done with her body, she was very fond of the Orsimer traditions but he hadn’t the faintest idea what an orc expected to happen after they died. Thinking the situation over he scooped up the body of his old friend, cradling her head above his arm, he decided he would let her body rest at sea, he knew she would not want a burial she’d made that clear when she was alive, now Seden realised all he’d really known about her was her love of the ocean and he decided that would be where she wanted to rest, walking towards the guards at the door he looked down at the body in his arms, a lump rising in his throat, “Thank you sister, for everything you've done.”

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  • Ramah
    Ramah   ·  January 18, 2014
    I'm curious, why did you think Bound weapons would come into it?
    Anyway I'm really thinking removing the Yataghan from the story right now, thinking of editing this section and just adding an authors note at the beginning of the next chapter so othe...  more
  • Remy
    Remy   ·  January 18, 2014
    No bound daggers? damn :D. And now im wondering how it would feel to summon a bow... Totaly offtopic :D.

    Nice story so far, thanks.
  • Ramah
    Ramah   ·  January 14, 2014
    Guilty, i didn't plan for the yataghan to be Ezios yataghan, it's just i wanted it to be a good weapon and steel is kinda crappy so i wanted Ebony and then yeah... i just described it like Ezios and added a pic...
    Dw though, no hidden blades will be...  more
  • Soneca the Exiled
    Soneca the Exiled   ·  January 14, 2014
    Nice chapter man, this is getting a bit close to AC, a character based of Edward using Ezio's sword, looking forward to the next chapters