SotF: The Blood Court

  • VII

    The room was as she had left it: a non-descript store amongst the other non-descripts, stacked crates bearing the brand of Shippers & Movers, and the leaking vase rolling on the ground. All was as she had left it… except for the alcove. In place of the figurine were bottles of fruit and honey; someone had been making drinks.


                ‘Well done, citizen. Well done,’ said the Jarl, arms folded with the entourage of courtiers behind her back. ‘Hakon, former Steward of my court. By the good and future of the people of the Rift, I proclaim you guilty by charges of corruption. What say you?’


                The bearded noble averted his eyes and said, ‘As I said. No excuses. I admit to stealing from the treasury and spending the Rift’s gold on personal interests. By my honour, I will also admit that the weapon dealers are associates of mine to launder the money without arousing suspicion you see.’ He held up his arms. ‘Chain me and let the law be upheld.’


                Falrielle stared at the bearded nobles as the guards approach. She did it. She uncovered a corruption and would soon be rewarded for her services. She need not push further than she had but as the voice in her head had often reminded her: Anything before “but” is horseshit and but she wasn’t a sellsword, not anymore. She is a Vigilant of Stendarr and by Oblivion was she going to allow a Daedric conspiracy fester… that and she wasn’t ready to deal with a crossed Carcette. Ever.


                ‘Hold it,’ said Falrielle.


                ‘Stop wasting the Jarl’s time, elf,’ said the bearded noble.


                ‘My Jarl,’ said Falrielle. ‘In my personal experience, the best way to cover up a crime is by hiding it behind a lesser crime and that man is a Daedra worshipper and a traitor.’


                The bearded man rolled his eyes, the courtiers murmured amongst themselves, Carcette eyeballed the bearded man, and the Jarl remained silent.


                ‘Proof, Vigilant,’ said the Jarl. ‘You have given me proof that Hakon is guilty of corruption but none of Daedric worship and of treason. Mind you, I am grateful for your service but Riften will not entertain wild accusations – not while I still breath.’


                Falrielle leaned against the wall and frowned.


                ‘That knife.’ Falrielle snapped her fingers. ‘What happened to that knife? The one that was in my hands when I crashed your feast?’


                ‘Should be with the guards along with your other belongings, why?’


                ‘That knife wasn’t mine.’ Falrielle pointed at the alcove. ‘I found it there along with a figurine of a woman with many arms.’


                ‘Mephala,’ said Carcette. ‘Mistress of Conspiracies.’


                Falrielle nodded. ‘Not a good knife to be honest but it was a ceremonial blade. You, bearded noble. Why have you bandaged your hand?’


                ‘It is a sword cut from training,’ said the bearded noble, rolling his eyes.


                ‘Or a wound from a swearing. Where is your friend, bearded noble? The nervous one in the cells,’ Falrielle said. The bearded noble didn’t answer. She scowled and walked into the courtiers, looking one by one at their perfumed faces; she’d much prefer to stink of blood and sweat but alas, not all nobles can be a Stormcloak.


                She glared at each and every one until she spotted a familiar face. A face that she would of have overlooked were it not for him trying too hard to hide himself and his teeth chattering like leaves in the wind.


                ‘You.’ Falrielle pulled the older noble from the crowd and threw him before the Jarl. ‘Open your hands.’


                ‘How dare you!’ said the bearded noble. ‘How dare you, an outsider give-‘


                ‘Do as she says,’ said the Jarl, coldly. ‘And Hakon, you will hold your tongue lest I remove it. Sigveir, do as she says.’


                The older noble quivered as he opened his hands. Like the bearded noble, it bore a fresh scar. He dropped lower and said, ‘Mercy! Mercy! He made me do it. Hakon promised us-’


                ‘Silence you fool!’ said the bearded noble.


                ‘Enough!’ said the Jarl, raising her hand. She turned to the rest of her courtiers who were murmuring amongst themselves. ‘The rest of you. Show me your-‘.


                Falrielle’s ears twitched. In the corner of her eye, she caught a shimmer under the sleeve of the bearded noble. She shoved the Jarl aside but was too slow for herself; when she grabbed the noble by the wrists, she could feel a stinging sensation on her gut.


                ‘Fuck this,’ said the bearded noble through gritted teeth, pushing the knife deeper; the very same knife Falrielle found on the altar. ‘Kill them all!’ he bellowed.


    A commotion brewed amongst the nobles as some of them drew blades of their own and began slashing away at their compatriots. Carcette and the guards pounced on the attackers but Falrielle’s attention was locked at the bearded one.


    ‘Bloody elves!’ the bearded noble shouted as tried to retract the blade but Falrielle refused. ‘Especially you Wood Elves. Always with you-‘


                ‘Nose for trouble,’ said Falrielle through a grim smile. ‘Like I’ve never heard that one before.’ The two pushed and pulled the knife, every now and then throwing a kick to knock the other off balance. Falrielle then glanced aside, distracting the bearded noble long enough for her to jerk her head back and slammed herself at his nose. He lurched but not before driving the knife deeper into her. In one motion, she grabbed his thumb and snapped, sending him into the ground screaming n agony.


                Falrielle looked at her gut, eyes wide with silent terror for the red stain grew but far too slow for a stabbing. She patted herself and felt a lump. She tilted her head in puzzlement. Falrielle lifted her shirt and a turnip with a fresh cut rolled on the floor.


                ‘Thank you, Mara!’ said Falrielle, patting herself with a smile on her face. She turned to her companions and lo and behold: trained and battle-hardened fighters found little trouble with fat and lazy nobles. She turned her attention back to the Jarl, still stunned by the attack being helped to her feet by her guards. She then turned towards the bearded noble with spears pointed at his neck as h cradled his hand. ‘You know,’ she continued. ‘I can’t tell which is more embarrassing. That you didn’t kill me because of a turnip or I survived because of a turnip.'


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