Out from the desert

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There is a rule, ancient in verse, about the company of others.
Most of them are not good.

- Old Redguard saying.

He desired the warmth of the desert, the sea of sand that extended beyond sight in every direction. The time spent within the camps and caravans had been wearing on Zhivago. Too many people, too much noise. They clamored and shouted for space and attention to what they thought important that the time.

There was ample space in the desert. Zhivago could not understand how they could be so blind to what he could so plainly see. The desert was vast, but more importantly it was clean. And he hoped the ways of Redguard life, the old ways, would help to clean his soul from the fouls of impurity that clung to everything civilized.

He traveled alone. Allowing himself to become lost in the peace of the sand. He moved as one who knew his way but ignored the path. And as he did his mind also wandered. He thought of the camps, of the people. Of the caravans heading west full of brave warriors ready to fight. Many had gone already to the large cities. Gone to enlist their arms in the Covenant. Zhivago knew he would do the same, but not yet. Not today.

He had no mount and only carried what a man could easily. This would not be a long journey. Already his steps began to take him where he wanted to go as the sun bathed his flesh in its warm embrace. It felt good to be away. To once again be free upon the deadly sands. To the untrained eye they looked empty, but Zhivago could see the signs of life everywhere. He knew where the threats lie, and how to avoid them.

By midday his steps had taken him far. He saw so sign of any, besides himself, who walked upon two legs as he approached the small outcropping of rock and shrubs. The oasis looked small upon the vast ocean of sand. But like a candle in a darkened room it to showed brightly for all to see. Even the untrained eye could not miss it.

In the shade of rock Zhivago sat. His hands dug beneath the surface of the sand and found the coolness hidden there. The desert provided to its children, and its children knew how to find what she granted. A smile touched his lips as his eyes gazed out over the sand. A deep breath of warm desert air filled his lungs and at once he felt at peace.

He thought of the time he spent in the tents. Drinking ale, sharing stories and laughter with his kinsmen. He thought of the women he had known. The fragrance of perfume, and the taste of lust scented silken petals of flesh against his lips. But none of those things brought the harmony he felt now as he rested within the arms of the desert.

As it with all things Zhivago knew this too would have to end. Soon he would travel west with the rest of his people. Soon he would lend his talents to the fight that had come to these lands. But for the moment he was at peace.
Posted Apr 21, 14 · OP · Last edited May 14, 14
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To the outside world it was a beacon of light and civilization. But to those who lived within the towered and walled city of Daggerfall it was a den of wicked deeds and dark practices. From the high-placed nobles and their petty wives, down to the lonely sewer dweller the city held a taint of corruption that touched all that were foolish enough to live within its shadow.

The vein of the city was the main roadway. It stretch from Castle Daggerfall, and snaked its way through rich and poor till it ended at the southern city gate. From this slithering serpent many shops, and taverns sprouted like stains on a dirty canvas. The Mole and Mug was one such place.

The smells of the cheap wine and half-burnt venison filled the common room of The Mole and Mug, and wafted into the street beyond. Heavy perfumed maidens served drinks to an unwashed crowd of city dwellers and foreigners. Outside the endless rain poured down as if the gods themselves wished to wash the city clean.

Zhivago Qanat sat with a few companions near the great hearth that burned hot opposite where the Inn keeper rushed to pour drinks for the crowded masses. He marked the locations of those he thought looked dangerous. A Breton who seemed to lean a bit too close over the bar, a pair of Elves in hunting leathers that look nervous among so many men, and a few of his own people that had the faces of ones who wished to start trouble after another round of ale.

"Tell me Zhivago, why so quiet tonight?" Terak, a Breton he had met on the road to Daggerfall city, said abruptly.

"It's nothing." Zhivago replied and took another pull from the ale before him. His thoughts were troubled but he did not wish to share such things with this man. He wasn't even sure why he was so bothered. She was only a women.

It had not even been two days into the city when Zhivago met her. The lady Chlio Cassia. He had met her just beyond the southern gate where the city took its water from the passing river. Even before she had spoke to him, Zhivago knew he wanted her. And once she did, once the soft words of her voice touched his ears he knew he would not be able to put her from his mind. Even now he imagined the fragrance of her skin, the way she presented herself. An Imperial, isolated and far from home, Zhivago was instantly drawn to her and felt a similar connection for he too was a stranger in these foreign lands. Zhivago sighed. The desert seemed so far away now.

"I bet it's a woman." The Breton taunted and laughed over his ale. "Aye, I know that look upon a man's face. Come on, tell us. Did you leave a pretty thing back at home to worry over?"

A maiden of the night, heavy in the scents of ginger and wine leaned down over the table then. What she wore barely covered the treasured features beneath. Such delights were promised without even a word spoke, but she spoke them just the same. "Some company boys? You look like you can show a lady a good time."

"That we can lass." Terak called out to her. "Go on Zhivago, give the tart a coin and have your way with her. She will vanish any worries you have over the girl back home."

Anger flashed through Zhivago and all at once he desired to lash out at the taunting Breton but instead he stilled himself. The man did not know, and only meant well. A jest between men-at-arms. How could he know Zhivago had no one, nor any waiting for him? Only the desert remained for him to return to. But there was something else. Though the maiden was tempting, he desired another and once again he found his thoughts drift back to Chlio Cassia. Another drink of ale helped cover his thoughts and Terak again laughed.

"Not now you vixen." Terak called to the maiden. "Come back later. I am sure he will be ready by then."

Her only reply was a smile, and as she left her fingers casually brushed along Zhivago's shoulder.

"Aye, that one wants you. Mark my words she does." Terak said with a grin.

"She wants my gold." Zhivago grumbled.

"That too." Terak leaned over the wooden table and spoke in a quieter tone. "Have you heard. The city guard is rounding up people again. They say it's for questioning. I say it's more than that."

Zhivago was sure anything Terak had to say after the fourth ale was pure rubbish but anything was better than answering questions about his home life, or dwelling on the pleasures of the woman he could not have. "What have you heard?"

"Heard?" Terak spoke. "I have heard its plague, but that isn't true. Shall I tell you what it is? Do you really want to know."

"Go on, tell me. Quit holding back. I can see you are bursting to tell."

Terak leaned closer as if his words would be heard through the crowded tavern by anyone but Zhivago. "Wolves. Werewolves." He sat back then and nodded as if he had made the grandest statement of all.

Zhivago tried not to laugh. He was aware of the rumors and had heard the stories told more than once. But he was sure that even such a foul place as this city could not hold such beasts and go unnoticed.

A round of ale, and another after that filled the rest of the evening. Zhivago began to relax. This was something he was use to. Drinking, laughing and telling of tales. It almost felt like home. Almost. After a final round Zhivago pulled himself away from the table, and bid goodnight. Short, almost staggered strides took him to his room on the upper level of the Inn. When he opened his door he was met with a curious sight.

At first Zhivago thought he was imaging her, but that lasted only a second. "How?" He asked of women who laid upon his bed.

"Close the door." She purred. The room was lit by a single candle, but even in that light Zhivago could see it was the maiden from before. Most likely an employee of the tavern. An extra trapping to skim a few more gold from the guests and fill the Innkeeper's purse.

Zhivago closed the door, but made no move to claim the treasure before him. "Get up." He said in a voice coated with ale and frustration. "I'm tired, and my coins are short."

The maiden only smiled and drew back the blanket. Beneath she wore even less than she had earlier. In the candle light Zhivago could see how beautiful she was. As casually as she had touched him before, the maiden reached down and traced her fingers tips along her bare legs. Slowly they drew an imaginary line that made its way to the apex of her pale thighs. "Are you sure you want me to go?" She asked softly. "Don't you even want a taste?"

A chill went through Zhivago. His eyes moved over her as he stepped closer. Something was not right. He looked along her features, felt himself swell with desire. He closed his eyes, and suddenly Chlio was there. He opened them again as if he did not want the image in his mind to see what his eyes viewed.

"Come, let me make you feel better." Her voice whispered across the room as her fingers moved over her silken perfumed flesh. "Come and I will make you forget all about her."

Again Zhivago felt a chill. Something was wrong, out of place. He fought against the fumes of ale that still clogged his mind and the vision of lust before him. "Think! You fool. Think!"

He stopped before the bed and reached for his bags that laid against the wall. "Come." She called again, her voice filling his ears and invading his senses. "There is no need for gold now."

Zhivago's hand slipped into his bag and found what he sought. Through a fog of ale and lust he gripped tightly. "Perhaps you desire something else in payment?" He said. "Silver perhaps?"

The maiden suddenly hissed as threw herself at Zhivago even as he pulled the silver bolt from his bag. With all his strength he thrust the bolt forward and into her pale flesh. The Dremora screamed, in rage and pain, and fell back over the bed.

Zhivago wasted no time. He moved over her, held her down, and drove the silver tipped bolt as far as he could into her flesh. "Is this what you want demon spawn? How does that taste?"

The Dremora thrashed over the bed. Her legs kicked and her fingers dug into his arm but Zhivago only pushed harder until finally the creature lay still.

Even after it was dead Zhivago did not move for many moments. His heart pounded as if he had ran the length of the city and back again. Only after he was satisfied that it was truly dead did he get up. "I hate the city." He muttered as he gathered his things and fled out into the night.
Posted May 2, 14 · OP · Last edited May 14, 14
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Mixture of mud and dead flora covered the Glenumbra forest left wet by rains that never seem to halt for more than a few hours. Overhead dark clouds were poised to let another volley of summer rain upon the region. It made tracking difficult, even to one skilled, yet Zhivago found what he sought. A broken twig, a muddy scuff against a rock. He moved from one sign to the next as if he followed a well drawn Imperial map.

Though his leathers kept out most of the rain, a few drops worked their way to touch his tanned flesh. Each drop brought a cold chill to his skin as he drifted through the forest as one would walk along a village road. Danger could lurk anywhere, and though he was not oblivious to such things, it did not halt his progress. Amid the dense brush he was just another shadow.

Out there, away from the city, he felt more at home. Though the terrain was nothing like his desert homeland, the wildness of it brought comfort to his restless spirit. He had been following the trail for several hours, though he did not hurry. This was more an exercise of skill, rather than hunt. A way to purge himself of the filth of the Breton city to the south.

Ahead, the foliage thinned as the forest lifted toward a hilly outcrop. At first glance it looked to be covered in large stones, but as Zhivago approached he quickly saw it was a ruined structure. A tower abandoned long ago to the elements and time. He left the cover of the trees and began to climb among the fallen tower.

Who had lived here, or ruled, Zhivago could not discerned. He was unfamiliar with the history of the region. A disposed warlord perhaps, or wealthy landowner who died without heir. It did not matter now, for anyone who had lived there was long gone. Carefully he scanned over the debris for anything of value and found nothing. Picked over already, most likely many years before he had arrived. So instead he sat down with his back against what remained of an ancient stone wall and took the opportunity to rest. His thoughts wandered as he breathed deeply the morning air. He thought of how far he had come, and the people he had met. One stuck out among the others, a recent acquaintance among the many he had encountered. An Orc, a battle maiden by the name of Gretcha. Zhivago was unsure if it was her only name, Orcs were a strange breed to him. Did they carry a family name also? He did not know, but he was sure of something. She was worth remembering.

He had met her only a few days earlier. She seemed strong, fit, as most of her race were, but also her eyes carried an intellect Zhivago had been quickly drawn to. Though perhaps it was the curves of her body that had peaked his interest. "I wonder what it would be like to bed an Orc?" he thought as a wicked grin touched his lips.

Then his eyes caught sight of another marking in the muddy ground that trailed through the ruin and beyond. A single hoof print of the Glenumbrian stag he followed. It could not be more than an hour old.

With new vigor and a light heart, Zhivago stood and began his hunt once again.
Posted May 14, 14 · OP