SotF: A Flash of Green

  • III

    ‘Get that thing away from me!’


                The guards had found her not too long after the fighting had died. By then, the elf was covered in soot and her thigh was so swollen that it near burst. Of course, she couldn’t tell them that on account of being frozen. It was only until Mentor inspected her then she saw the camp healer.


                Leeches for the swelling and a traction splint for the thigh; Falrielle was still paralyzed during the procedure so she couldn’t vent. Mentor had to leave early, he was needed to consecrate the defiled stones and the splinting had already been done. However, when the spell finally broke, Falrielle had learned that the exploding wagon did more than make bells ring in her ears and singe a few strands of hair; the heat burnt some of her skin and peppered her body with shrapnel.


                Her armour took the brunt of the damage but some fragments still dug in her flesh. The healer offered Falrielle the milk pf the poppy to deaden the pain but the elf refused: a drop would be enough to send her into a sleep she could not afford. And so, the healer plucked the scraps of wound out of her body, one by one.


                Falrielle spat the strap of leather and groaned. It was done or she thought it was done until the healer brandished a hooked needle and a reel of twine.


                ‘Please milady,’ the healer said. ‘I need to do this or your wound won’t heal proper.’


                ‘You keep that thing away!’ Falrielle stretched out a hand and waved the insidious implements away. ‘I’ll let the wounds heal on their own; I have many scars, so what’s another?


                ‘It is not about the scars milady.’ The healer shook her head. ‘If we leave the wounds be, it could allow the corruption to enter and no healer alive could help you then.’


                For a moment, Falrielle raised her hand again and then sighed. ‘I know of one who could,’ she said as she laid flatly on the bed and shoved the strip back in her mouth.


                ‘Just relax and I’ll make it fast.’


                ‘You better you-‘ The elf quickly bit down and puffed her cheeks.


                The healer’s hands were rough but nimble and well-practiced. The needle and twine were just as nimble and precise, gently closing the gaps of her raw wounds. But gentle wasn’t enough for the elf and she found herself swearing quietly with each movement.


                ‘And done.’ The healer then began to cover the wound with a poultice of eucalyptus. ‘Your wounds will still itch but as long as it does not smell, there’s nothing to worry about.’ The healer then bandaged Falrielle’s wounds with quick, deft movements.


                Falrielle pulled the strip from her mouth and then another – there were two now and she placed it to the side of her head.


                ‘Thank you,’ Falrielle rasped.


                The healer didn’t answer, her attention seemingly fixed on her other patients. Falrielle herself couldn’t see the others; her section had been cordoned off by a tarp on account of modesty. She couldn’t see them but that did not mean she couldn’t smell them.


                Through the oppressive aromas of incense, medicines, and other strange herbs, Falrielle could detect the distinctive scent of charred flesh – human flesh. The heretics didn’t go down without a fight, so it seems. Mara was kind however, the other patients weren’t screaming or rather, they’d stopped screaming an hour ago.


                The Vigilant wiped the beads of sweat off her face, the coarse texture of the futon irritating her already sensitive skin. Falrielle hated the downtimes between the action, it gave her too much time. Too much time to think.


                She thought about the boy and his brown eyes, staring blankly into the sky.


                She thought about that mage and what he said to her.


                “You amuse me and for that you shall live to see another sunrise”


                He had her dead to rights and if the situation were to be reversed, Falrielle would’ve not hesitate to rip open his throat. After all, it was the smart thing to do. Unless…


                He took pity on her. That she was not worth killing. That she was not worth a warrior’s death. Had she fallen so low?


                How dare he!


                The elf cursed as she pulled herself up, the ruckus beckoning the healer to investigate.


                ‘Healer,’ Falrielle said. ‘Where is Captain Thelen?’


                ‘The Captain?’ The healer cocked her head. ‘He’s at his tent briefing the men. I’d reckon they’d be moving out soon enough.’


                ‘Moving out without us?’ Falrielle said through gritted teeth. ‘Healer, help me up. I need to report to my superior.’


                ‘Stay down or your wounds will open!’ The healer held the elf to the bed. ‘And your superior? You mean Matthias? He returned not too long ago when I was closing your wounds-‘


                ‘He returned and nobody told me?’


                ‘He insisted on it – He said to let you rest and that’s damn good wisdom-‘


                ‘Son of a- To Oblivion with that!’ Falrielle said as she shoved the healer away. ‘My breastplate, underneath the padding: there’s a purse in it, give it to me.’


                ‘I don’t recommend that you-‘


                ‘Do I look like I sodding care? Just give it to me!’


                The healer shrugged and said no more, digging around Falrielle’s belongings and finding said purse. She gave Falrielle what she requested, her expression reading ‘Not my problem’ and returned to her other patients.


                Falrielle opened the purse and rolled three glass capsules onto the palm of her hand. The elf sighed, returning two and rolling the last in her fingers. She then crushed it in her hand and breathed in the fumes, her nose burning.



    The sky grumbled. Hircine, the Prince of the Hunt is hungry tonight.


                Falrielle cursed as she limped her way to the command tent. Her swollen thigh, freshly splinted and painfully throbbing did little to improve her mood and neither did the itching stiches.



                The camp was abuzz with activity. Patrols moved in and out, some with prisoners, some with wounded. The song of anvils rang sharply in the air – the smiths did well with their makeshift furnaces. The dogs barked and howled, eager to be set loose.


                The command tent was like any other in the camp except it had guards standing watch, guards who upon saw her coming bowed their heads and pulled open the flap and bide her in. They were expecting her, she noted, bowing back as she entered.


                Modestly empty and poorly lit, the officers of the Falkreath Guard congregated. Falrielle pushed and shoved her way through the sea of blue sashes, who the shortest amongst them still towered a head above hers all the way to the centre. Captain Thelen, a face she barely recognised by his red scruffy beard was the only one talking and the others listened.


                ‘Vigilant Falrielle,’ he said with a nod before returning to the briefing as if she had been there the whole time.


                Next to him stood another man. He was tall, lanky in build and had the look of a Breton. He too had a beard but unlike the captain, his was neatly trimmed as was his salt-and-pepper hair. His tunic and breastplate were smeared in ashes and soot as was his face. He too looked at Falrielle, she saw no youth behind his tired green eyes but found a long history of service. It was also telling her something else.


                What are you doing here? It said. If it were from any other lesser man, Falrielle would’ve brushed it off. She had seen that look all her life growing up in the North. But this one is no lesser man.


                This one is Senior-Vigilant Matthias, her mentor and immediate superior and only his gaze could cut her deeper than daggers would.


                Falrielle’s leg buckled and she caught onto the table before she keeled over. The elf gritted her teeth and uttered a quiet curse as she stood herself up.


                ‘Fourth, sixth, and seventh squad returned from their patrol not too long ago,’ Thelen said. ‘Reports are promising – two more captures but…’ The captain sighed and shook his head. ‘These bastards won’t go down without a fight. Three more casualties on our part, one dead.’


                Thelen using a piece of charcoal scribbled off a section of the map. ‘Still, that means that we’ve swept Gormund’s Knoll and the Savalin Thicket clean. That just leaves the Misty Valley to the west as the last area we’ve to check.’


                ‘Are we sure that none have slipped past us, captain?’ said one of the lieutenants, her head wrapped in a dirty bandage.


                ‘We’ve closed off the horse-paths before the operation and not even the swiftest of Wood Elves could traverse the Great Pines that quickly,’ Thelen said.


                Falrielle wanted to disagree but she held her tongue; Mentor’s eyes were still upon her.


                ‘I thank you for voicing your concern Cerys but thank the Nin-Eight we are almost done. Heimar, get me the list.’ The Captain remained silent, looking at his men for dramatic flair. ‘One. We are left with one more to hunt and bring to justice. The prisoners had loose tongues and more than their numbers, they gave us names.’


                The aide returned and surrendered a scroll to the captain before leaving the tent.


                The Captain cleared his throat. ‘All that is left is a Cad-Cad-‘


                ‘May I, if you please?’ Mentor said, holding a hand open. ‘Thank you, Captain. Cadroc ap Caridan.’ He paused and repeated the name again, slowly.


                Falrielle was about to ask if he knew this man but the captain broke first.


                ‘Know him?’ Mentor said, placing the list on the table. ‘No, not really or rather, not personally. I know of him but not the man himself. I came across him whilst I was reading a census of prisoners and casualties of the war.’ He stopped and shook his head. ‘I was looking for someone else but that’s not important. Vigilant business as it is.’


                ‘Cadroc ap Cadrian,’ he began, scratching his beard. ‘Where do I began? He’s was a Battlemage during the war. Cadroc is unusual this one, most battlemages are taught magic in colleges before they serve but this one… He was born a Reachman, grew up in Markarth and then joined the Legion at the coming of his age.’


                Of course, he was a Battlemage but a Reachman? Falrielle thought. The scar on the side of her face began to itch.


                ‘He was training to be a common legionary but his trainers discovered that he had a natural aptitude for magic: Destruction in particular like no other. Notable services in the war was Day One in Bruma and the Siege of the Imperial City.’


                The Siege of the Imperial City. Even Falrielle heard about that one. A year-long siege that reduced the capitol of the Empire to eating cats, rats, and dogs; they’d already eaten their horses long before the Dominion sacked the city.


                ‘Wait?’ Thelen said. ‘I thought the mages died holding up The Paling?’


                ‘No.’ Mentor shook his head. ‘Only the Alteration and Illusion mages, may the Divines smile upon them; Cadroc was a Destruction mage and he fought still in the Fall. His luck ran out however – he like so many others didn’t escape the Fall. Captured, Cadroc was interned at Garlas Silyanorn.’


                ‘Garlas Silvanorn?’ said one of the lieutenants, a bald man with a strange tattoo on his neck. ‘Then how in Oblivion is he still alive?’




                ‘I don’t know,’ Mentor said quietly. ‘I scrounged through the list of deaths and his wasn’t in it. He was in the census of the arrivals. Who knows, perhaps Cadroc the Battlemage did die in Garlas Silvanorn and the one we’re hunting is another Cadroc ap Cadrian but that is wishful thinking.’


                ‘The Vigilant is right,’ Thelen said. ‘It doesn’t matter if we’re hunting a battlemage or a damned ghost – this man is dangerous and the Gods bless him for he faces the Falkreath Guard!’


                The others in the room bellowed in agreement, only as spirited as Nords could be. Falrielle, who could and would outdrink and outfight any of her fellow Northerners held her tongue – as quiet as a mouse.



    Previous Chapter: A Flash of Green (I - II)                                                                               Next Chapter: A Flash of Green (V)