SotF: Just a Formality V

  • ‘Lady Falrielle!’


                    ‘Breton bitch!’


                    Glass and metal clinked hard and old friends drank and drank hard they did or rather Falrielle did. The elf took a long drought, ending her drink with a hearty belch. The Keeper however daintily sipped her wine as she always did.


                    ‘So what is it going to be?’ said Falrielle, wiping her mouth with her sleeve. ‘You didn’t schedule this meeting just to give me a taste of decent ale, did you?’


                    ‘Did I?’ said Carcette, smiling as she stuffed Falrielle’s documents into the leather-bound file. ‘Of course not.’


                    The Keeper rose, using the table as support and limped away. Falrielle caught herself staring at Carcette’s knee. She frowned, and her vision shook.


                    You could not control yourself… and she paid the price. It was your fault.


                    No… It wasn’t my fault. She had already… She had…


                    ‘What I have in mind is something else entirely,’ said Carcette, stuffing the file in the shelf. ‘Something more.’


                    You will kill her. You will sink a blade into her heart. You will-




                    Falrielle’s temples pounded and she found her hand reaching for her belt. Trembling fingers felt cold glass and pulled out a dark vial. She bit into the cork and spat it on the table, the aroma of the potion singeing her nose. For a second she hesitated, gritting her teeth as she did but only for a second…


                    …and downed the vial.


                    A fire burned in her stomach and that flame spread to every nerve in her body and her very being cried out in pain. Breathing was chaotic as it usually was but this time, this time she tasted blood in her mouth. Falrielle clutched her chest, cursing – the potion had hit her much harder than it did before.


                    She locked her eyes at the Keeper who stood silently, motionless yet knowingly. She coughed and rasped and that fire… was finally extinguished. Beads of sweat dribbled down her face and Falrielle swallowed.


                    ‘How many, Fal?’ said the Keeper as she approached. ‘How many did you drink?’


                    Falrielle took a deep breath and wiped her face. ‘It’s three a day now.’ She leaned back and smiled, panting. ‘It’s not so bad-‘


                    ‘By the gods,’ said the Keeper. ‘You were only supposed to drink it once a week!’


                    ‘I said isn’t that bad.’ Falrielle waved a hand. ‘No need to concern yourself,’ she continued but she didn’t quite believe herself.


                    ‘Do not take me for a fool, Falrielle!’ said the Keeper, slamming her palms on the table. ‘Everyone knows what you drink is dangerous but I know what is in that vial: Nirnroot, Glow Dust, and the Jarrin Root – the Killer of Kings. Every day you dance on the edge of the abyss, Falrielle.’


                    Falrielle wiped that smile off her face and in exchange, a cold glare.


                    ‘Every vial, every sip, every drop,’ the Keeper said, pointing an accusing finger at Falrielle. ‘Might tip you over.’


                    ‘Ah, so we are playing this game now, eh Keeper?’ said Falrielle, clapping her hands. ‘Let us all cry for the pathetic little elf – oh it’s so sad. I shall cry!’


                    ‘Falrielle, I-‘


                    ‘How about we hold hands and sing a little song then? How about that? How about you take that pity of yours and shove it!’


                    For a moment the two sat in silence, neither moving nor making any sound. Carcette leaned forward, sank her face into her hands and sighed.


                    ‘When they brought you back that day,’ Carcette began, her voice quivering. ‘I could not bear to look at you. I thought you were dying.’ She stopped herself and shook her head. ‘No. The truth was much worse: you were going to live… but every night; the blood, the nightmares, the screaming…’


                    Falrielle didn’t react... Not outwardly, this was a wound she didn’t like opening but opened it was nonetheless.


                    ‘Seeing you in such pain.’ Carcette took a deep breath. ‘I hated it.’ She let down her hands and Falrielle found tears streaming from her eyes. ‘Every day I would pray to the Nine. I prayed for respite. I prayed for peace.’ She stopped herself, swallowed and continued, ‘I wanted it all to stop… Then the one day I found my courage to see you in person.’


                    ‘I asked you for a favour,’ said Falrielle, nodding slowly.


                    ‘I was your friend,’ said Carcette, her voice grew weaker. ‘But what you asked for… I…’


                    ‘You are a good friend. You did as you were told and you; You saved me.’


                    ‘Saved you? Saved?’ said Carcette. ‘I poisoned you! You asked for no more pain. You wanted a quick clean death but because you me you suffered more. I never saved you.’ She shook her head. ‘I could not even bear to bring you your knife.’


                    ‘And so the Nine says otherwise,’ said Falrielle leaning front. ‘I breathe and what was meant to kill ended up was my cure: it ended the visions. That’s all that matters.’


                    Carcette slinked down onto her chair, her face pale. ‘You still hear him… whispering in your ear?’ she said, voiced drained of life.




                    ‘And the dreams? Are they-‘


                    Falrielle nodded her head. ‘Still the same. Every time, when I close my eyes.’



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