SotF: Something to Prove

  • XV

    Falrielle felt something in her nose that burned white hot like a fire, her head spun faster than a top, and her stomach turned. When she tried to snort it out, she fell on the ground with a hard thud. Not a floor as she initially thought but sand. She spat and when she tried to move, she felt that her hands was still in a bind. She raised her head to loud voices. She opened her eyes and her head spun harder and all her eyes could see were bright flames dancing all around her.


                ‘Salutations, salutations, and salutations, sister elf! Finally awake? Getting to dosage right was most difficult. True, that we wood elves are most durable to poisons but you didn’t even vomit. I applaud you, sister elf! Most impressive,’ said a familiar voice, in a most irritating tone. ‘Hmm… Not awake enough. Roald; give her another.’


                Falrielle’s head jerked back and her nose burned again. Coughing and cursing, this time her vision cleared enough but her head continued to spin. She could see that she was in a pit cum arena. She wiggled her toes only to notice that her feet were bare but was at least her legs unbound.


                ‘Give me back my boots you whoreson!’ she shouted in a daze, unable to move.


                ‘Oh, if a prize is what you seek then a game you must play, milady!’ said Brant amidst the roars of his companions. ‘A thrilling game of bravery, a game of skill and of-‘


    ‘Shut it you milk-drinking tit! If it’s a fight you want then bring it! I’ll take all of you whoresons on and when the day is done by Arkay I swear: that he would be busy figuring out your heads from your arses!’


                Brant’s companions broke out in laughter.


                ‘Ysgrammor’s spirit is strong in this one,’ he said with a crooked smile on his face and a hand stroking a dagger on his apron. He turned to the crowd. ‘Alright lads, you heard her: she wants a fight and a fight we will give! Bring it here!’


                The crowd roared again.


                On the edge of arena was a lift guided by a system of levers and pulleys that Falrielle assaulted her ears with screeches of protest as they turned. She turned her attention to the people walking towards Brant, her blurred vision only telling her that it was a few more of his lackeys pulling something on a string like a dog. Her eyes widened in horror.


                ‘Leave him alone, you bastard!’ Falrielle cried, struggling only to be held down by the men behind her.


                The crowd grew silent as if waiting for Brant’s response.


                Brant himself didn’t answer with words but with actions. He gave Falrielle a smile and a polite nod… and gutted the boy.


                ‘No!’ she shouted, snarling and thrashing before the two men cut her bonds sending her running to the child. Falrielle pressed her hands against the boy’s wound. ‘Hold it together little soldier. Hold it together.’


                Brant laughed.


                She turned to Brant. ‘The fuck is wrong with you!’


                Brant once again deigned not to answer. He calmly walked to the lift with his comrades behind him.


                ‘Stay away,’ the boy said. ‘Please. You know what I am.’


                ‘A boy. That is all I need to know, little soldier.’ The elf tore a strip off her tunic and bandaged the boy’s wound. ‘Hold it together.’


                ‘Please,’ he continued but Falrielle ignored him, her attention fixed on his wound. Brant had cut deep, very deep indeed. She could see some of his guts coming through and Brant had nicked a few of them too: more than just blood was flowing. If the boy was mere human, he was all but gone unless they had a healer on the ready. But they didn’t and he wasn’t mere human but she did all she could to stymy the bleeding. A matter of reflex… and conscience.


                ‘Hold it together,’ she chanted, lying to herself that something could be done.


                ‘Stay… away!’ the boy repeated, this time he growled as he tore through his restraints. With a swipe, he knocked Falrielle on her back and snarled. The boy sunk a hand in his wound and in a single brutal motion – tore his skin open, sending blood flying into the arena earning the approval of the crowd.


                Falrielle’s mind lurched, only able to mutter a horrified, ‘No…’


                The boy continued violently clawing at his own body ripping off chunks after bloody chunks and the crowd grew louder, more entranced at this grisly sight. At last whilst covered in blood, the boy keeled over and snarled. Starting small, the boy seemed to grow larger and larger until his shadow eclipsed Falrielle. He stood up.


                And let out a terrible howl.


                ‘Place your bets, lads!’


                The werewolf lunged at Falrielle, only for the elf to roll to the side at the last moment. She reached for her mace on reflex only to come up empty. She cursed and picked up the stool, brandishing it threateningly in front of her. ‘By Mara, stay back, little soldier. I don’t want to hurt you.’


                ‘But he wants to hurt you, milady!’ Brant shouted and then laughed.


                The werewolf leapt, slashing at Falrielle. The elf jumped to the side but she was too slow and earned another a cut on her arm but she returned the favour with a smack in the face. The werewolf roared horribly, the cave filled with a booming echo.


                ‘Little soldier,’ she said. ‘I am not your enemy! Fight it!’ she continued but to no avail. She could not sense any humanity in him. The only thing she could see behind his eyes was primal savagery. Doubt beset her; perhaps Brant was right. Perhaps that there really was no hope for this abomination. Perhaps this was the day she would die. Falrielle gave her head a quick smack in the head to steel herself. She told herself that she had survived worse and today was not the day she would die. Falrielle made a grim smile and readied her chair.


                ‘Alarm! Alarm!’ shouted a man. Brant and most of the spectators turned around. ‘We’re under attack! Ma’dran, Folgsteir, Big Helm, everybody is dead. I don’t know how many but Ingrid told me to get help. We’re getting slaughtered out there.’


                Brant slammed his fist on the railing and said,’ Alright lads, looks like wolf boy isn’t the only one for glory tonight. Grab your arms and show them why no one messes with the Silver-Hand!’ to the cheer of his companions.


                Her ears twitched.


                The werewolf began another assault but this time Falrielle saw it coming. With all her might, she smashed the chair on the werewolf’s head, stunning the creature and giving her the one window she needed. Like a spider, Falrielle rushed towards the wall and used the momentum to boost her up just high enough to her target. Experienced had taught her that it was foolish to keep one’s hair long and free in combat. Stretching her hand as high as she could, she grabbed a fistful of Brant’s hair and pulled him down into the arena. As they tumbled, the elves exchanged blow after vicious blow and at the point of stopping, Brant tucked a knee against her belly and used it as a fulcrum to throw her over him.


                ‘My, my,’ said Brant, dusting himself. ‘You truly are a stubborn one. The heart of the Nord beats most fiercely in you, sister-elf!’ The hunter drew a pair of knives from his apron.


                Falrielle opened her eyes again and could see the werewolf approaching her with a hideous snarl – and then it broke off and turned his attention towards Brant. Perhaps Brant was wrong after all, she thought. Perhaps there really was some humanity in the boy, some Nord spirit.


                Brant however didn’t seem too worried. The hunter held his arms open as if beckoning the werewolf to attack which it did. The werewolf unleashed the fury that only a tortured beast could muster with a flurry of wild slashes and bites that would surely tear apart a lesser man. But Brant was not a man, he was an elf. A Wood Elf to be exact.


                Instead of fighting, Brant seemed to be dancing between the furious blows of the werewolf. He kept his hands on his back, and Falrielle could hear him humming a drinking song. All of this, the boy, the arena, Falrielle: everything was just a game to him. Then when the werewolf swiped its arms downwards in an attempt to crush the elf like a man would crush an insect, Brant danced aside as easily and gently as a leaf danced in the wind. Falrielle could see flashes of light with that last step and blood splattered on the sand. And again and again.


                Falrielle tried to pull herself on her feet but her body won’t listen. Her arms were creaking under her own weight and her legs were numb. She spat and cursed as the werewolf’s offence grew slower and weaker at another dance of the hunter. She felt like she was about to faint at any moment when the werewolf was on its knees and Brant just kept cutting and his laughter filling the air.


                Falrielle bit her lip. She bit her lip so hard that she could feel blood trickling down her chin. Now her body listened to her. With an agonizing heave, Falrielle rose from the ground and threw her body like a spear at the hunter. She tackled the hunter down hard and found herself on top of him.


                ‘Can you just fuck off!’ spat Brant through gritted teeth.


                Falrielle however had teeth too and she was willing to demonstrate it – with a bite to the shoulder. She dug in deep and clenched so hard that her teeth was rattling against his collar bone. Brant screamed as blood flooded Falrielle’s mouth. Brant threw whatever attack he could muster – a blow to the ribs, a kick to her groin, a punch to the side of her head but Falrielle held on. Only when he shifted his weight did Falrielle let go but not without a chunk of his flesh in her jaw. The hunter smashed his forehead in her face, bloodying her nose and threw her to his side. She told her body to rise but this time is was especially stubborn.


                ‘You fucking maniac,’ said Brant, his voice quivering with rage. The hunter stood up and kicked Falrielle as hard as he could before pressing the wound on his shoulder. Then he heard a growl.


                The werewolf rose again and with a curse, Brant reached for his apron… and came out empty. He turned to Falrielle and saw in her hand a few of his knives and silver stakes. She gave him an ugly smile.


                Falrielle knew that in battle, all it took was a moment of hesitation or distraction and death would come quickly. Brant was distracted indeed. When the hunter turned his attention back at the werewolf it was too late. The werewolf lifted Brant up in the air by his head and squeezed. He screamed for a few seconds and went silent, his head popped like a cherry and his body flopped like a gutted fish.


                The werewolf flung his corpse away like thrash and let out a triumphant howl as mighty and haunting as the wind. It then turned to Falrielle, bearing its large fangs and a soft growl.


                Falrielle’s gripped tightened on the silver stake as she rose, careful not to make any sudden movements as to provoke the creature. The two kept their eyes locked on one another’s and Falrielle felt something in this creature, a bond of a kindred spirit. She saw more than just an abomination in the werewolf. She saw sadness.


                Then from the balcony above a man came crashing down followed by another with a spear lodged in his chest. He was not alone, the spearman held onto the spear and on touchdown, he rolled forward and in one fluid motion, threw a handful of flashpowder at the werewolf stunning the creature. The spearman dashed forward, shoving Falrielle behind him.


                ‘Behind me, Falrielle!’ said the spearman who wore a set of robes most familiar. He kept the point at the werewolf.


                ‘Mentor, stop!’ she cried. ‘It- He means no harm. He’s in pain, Mentor. Let me-‘ she stopped and looked at the werewolf, now no more dangerous than a pathetic whimpering dog. ‘Let me do it.’


                Matthias looked at Falrielle with doubt but he listened and lowered his spear.


                Falrielle slowly approached the werewolf.


                ‘Come little soldier and close your eyes,’ she said soothingly. ‘Close your eyes and breath. Dream deep, little soldier. Dream deep of somewhere warm and happy. Dream hard and when you wake, you’ll find yourself there.’


                She held the werewolf by its slumped shoulder, and pressed her forehead onto his. And sunk the stake in his heart.



                The surviving members of the Silver-Hand surrendered quickly enough and the pair left them tied together for the Rift’s guards. According to Matthias, the guards of the Rift were stumped with the string of murders across the Hold and his contacts saw to him to see that justice would be served. Fitting, Falrielle thought although she also believed that this was no mere coincidence but she didn’t want to say anything. As for their ‘weapon’, as for the werewolf…


                The Vigilants had spent the past few hours gathering wood for the pyre. Even in death the boy was not free from his prison. From what little she could remember of werewolves, it has been said that upon death the soul of the werewolf is claimed by Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt and will forever be subjected to an eternal of the Hunt as hunter and hunted. The fact that the boy remained a werewolf even in death supported this and all she did was changing his cage.


                Falrielle however disagreed, she wanted to, she had to. She wanted to believe that the boy was now free. She wanted to believe that he was now at peace. He deserved peace. He fought and died like a warrior and the gods be willing, she hoped that the boy would find his rest and glory at the gates of Sovngarde. She had to, she believed she was destined to knock on those very same gates. She uttered a prayer to Arkay, the Guardian of the Dead; to Mara, the Mother of Love; to Stendarr, the Father of Mercy. She paused for a moment before she threw the torch, setting the pyre aflame.


                ‘I-I-I don’t know the rest of the words,’ she said finally. ‘I just wanted to give him a funeral in the only way I knew how: the Northern way. Stupid, stupid, stupid.’


                Falrielle felt a reassuring hand on her shoulder.


                ‘You did the right thing and Hircine be damned,’ Matthias said. ‘Stendarr will listen. Stendarr will triumph and the boy will find his rest.’ He gave her a soft smile.


                Falrielle gave his hand a squeeze. ‘So what now, Mentor?’


                ‘What now? Have you not listened to a word I’ve said, pupil?’ Matthias said with a chuckle. ‘We’re going to be in the Rift for half a year.’


                Falrielle stared at him blankly and said, ‘Wait, I thought I left the Vigil. I mean I gave you my tabard and everything.’


                ‘And since when does a piece of cloth determine of one’s righteousness?’ Matthias shrugged. ‘But if you really wanted to leave…’


                Falrielle couldn’t help but laugh at his cruel joke.


                ‘Unworthy?’ said Matthias, his tone serious again. ‘And why do you think that you are unworthy to be a Vigilant?’


                ‘Duty, Justice, and Mercy was it? The pillar of the Vigil. Did I not break these tenants? Duty? I could barely listen to those who would rightly hold command over me and I was a lazy slob at the Vigil. Justice? Don’t tell Carcette but I was not above stealing a few Septims from the donation pile.’


                Matthias chuckled.


                ‘You speak true. Duty, Justice, and Mercy are the pillars of the Vigil but as men cannot build a castle without a foundation, neither can the Vigil.’ He paused and turned to the pyre which burned so brightly. ‘Compassion is our foundation. What drives us to do what we do? The love of our fellow man, the love drives us to end the pain we have suffered from befalling to others, the love that lets us understand what it’s like to feel weak and what gives us strength to protect those who are weaker than us.’


                Falrielle blushed.


                ‘You didn’t have to help Anneke find Verner. You didn’t have to help Verner find his miner. You didn’t even have to bother with this Silver-Hand business. Yet you did. You risked life and limb to do the right thing, Falrielle. You more than proved yourself worthy. Or do you disagree?’


                The Initiate remained silent.


                ‘So tell me again: why would you be unworthy?’ he said with a smile.



    The air was fresh and the grass sparkled with morning dew. The sun itself was hiding behind the clouds and the wind blew gentle; omens that the day would be cool. Falrielle however woke up shivering in a thick cloak, her nose runny, her body aching and her head burning. She cursed herself for having to open her big mouth for as Carcette has said, ‘The gods will always answer the prayers of the faithful’. While her nose didn’t work too well, her ears did and what she heard was music: the melodies of bacon and eggs sizzling over a fire.


                ‘Do you know that you snore most loudly?’ said Matthias. Falrielle blushed. ‘It is almost noon,’ he continued, poking the eggs with a stick, ‘and we’ve a long way to go. Sit up, I’ve made us some breakfast.’


                Her tongue watered as she sat up.


                ‘Here, for you,’ said Matthias as he gave Falrielle a bowl of sad barley porridge.


                ‘Kill me,’ Falrielle sniffed, taking the bowl.


                ‘You have taken quite a chill, pupil,’ said Mentor, seemingly not hearing her complaint. ‘Bacons and eggs are a bit too much for you right now yet you must regain your strength. So eat your porridge.’


                Falrielle kept quiet and silently suffered a spoonful of tasteless gruel which was at the very least warm. Mentor whistled and she looked at him: in his hand he held a strip of bacon burnt to a crisp. Just how she liked it.


                ‘It’s a beautiful day, is it not?’


                Falrielle agreed… mostly. She wished she did not have to eat porridge though. ‘So where are we going, Mentor?’


                Matthias pondered for a moment. ‘How are you with baths? There’s a spring just north of us and it’s said that its waters would heal ailments such as the chill. Also not only you snore most loudly, you smell most terribly.’


                Falrielle grinned. ‘Smell most terribly? A bath doesn’t sound like a bad idea,’ she said. ‘Not a bad idea at all.’




    Lycanthropes or more popularly known as Werewolves are a form of therianthropy where the victim takes the form of a wolf creature. Like other forms of therianthropy, lycanthropy is the result of a curse, or blessing to some by the Daedric Prince of the Hunt, Hircine. While lycanthropy is the most common form of therianthropy in Tamriel, the exact specifics of their curse vary from lycanthrope to lycanthrope.


    An example of this is the vector of transmission. It has been reported that lycanthropy can be transmitted by bite wounds like an infection which after a period of 3 to 14 days of fevers, night terrors, and fatigue would they finally transform into a lycanthrope. In other reports, drinking the blood of a lycanthrope will lead to instant transformation. Yet in another, the victim would turn into a lycanthrope after performing dark rituals. In addition to the vector, the form of the lycanthrope also varies from a more humanoid wolf-man figure to taking a visage of a dire wolf, indistinguishable from the genuine animal.

    Academic questions aside, there are a few things that are consistent with every lycanthrope. First is that when transformed, few can match a lycanthrope’s strength, agility, savagery, and powers of regeneration making them a dangerous foe. Second is that a lycanthrope’s sense of smell and hearing are supernaturally elevated, making them excellent hunters. Thirdly is that all lycanthropes can be cured but take note; there is no universal method to do so and any Vigilant attempting this must take care for any possibilities.

    To fight a werewolf, the metal of silver can negate a lycanthrope’s powers of regeneration and the purer the silver the more effective it would be. Fire, the element of purity would also put a stopper in a lycanthrope’s vitality. With the help of a skilled alchemist, weapons coated with Wolfsbane would have a similar effect to silver on lycanthropes and if both can be used together, the better.


    Warning to all Vigilants: do not attempt to engage a werewolf alone. Werewolves have been known to decimate entire parties of well-prepared hunters and even on a successful hunt, the hunters would suffer heavy casualties. Werewolves like all therianthropes are at their most vulnerable in their human, elf or beast form and even then they are dangerous foes.


    - Excerpt from Bestiary: An Introduction to Lycanthropy by Senior-Vigilant Wilk




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2 Comments   |   ilanisilver likes this.
  • ilanisilver
    ilanisilver   ·  March 3, 2018
    Yay, Matthias is back! I like this, and I like the ending. Great fight scene, too. 
  • Delta
    Delta   ·  February 27, 2018
    Finally finished with this novella. Do comment. I need the feedback to improve after all.