User:Iron Druid 52/Spymaster 1
Sarvyl Llando made his way through the Thalmor High Consulate, passing by servants and soldiers, guards bowed their stiff necks so slowly, he was half certain they would snap from being so rigid. The thought of Thalmor necks snapping brought a smile to the Dunmer’s lips. Not yet, he had only recently gained their trust, and he needed to keep up the political maneuvering his ancestry was known for.
The ash grey skin which was his heritage marked him out as surely as if he had been set on fire. His slanted red eyes, sharp nose and chin, and perpetual sneer were right at home in the heart of elvendom on Nirn. His long black hair was kept back in a tight knot which gave him a headache at times. He had the physique of a soldier, but the mannerisms of a politician, and the mystery of a wizard. He was a Dunmer. A new set of booted feet approached him from behind, and he slowed to meet them. Mollimo, his contact within the Thalmor brushed up alongside him. The two wear dressed in the black Thalmor robes, the long hems being kicked behind them as they moved through the tower.
“It has been a lovely day so far, Chancellor, but I fear it may rain before long.” Mollimo said, with every air of having a casual chat about the whether. They haven’t noticed your true motives yet, but some are beginning to suspect. Mollimo was getting the hang of things, and Sarvyl felt sure he would remain a useful correspondent when he was forced to leave.
“Can’t your Thalmor mages change the weather, or have I been overestimating them and we will end up drenched?” Sarvyl asked in his clipped voice. This slight made a few guards stiffen visibly in their armor, and Sarvyl feared he may have overstepped himself. Is there anything you and your friends can do, or will I have to leave sooner than expected?
Mollimo made the impression of stiffening as well, so any hidden watchers would see that he was still a loyal member of the Thalmor. “No, you haven’t been deceived, we are as good as we say. I was merely making idle chatter. There are more pressing matters however.” Mollimo opened the door to his office. We can give you more time, but not too much. You should leave soon nevertheless. Sarvyl entered and Mollimo shut the door behind him. Sarvyl cast a ward against listening magic as Mollimo checked for any signs of physical listeners or devices that might have been left. The two nodded to each other as they were sure they were in the clear.
“You’re right, I need to go. This rebellion in Skyrim is running counterproductive to our goals. We should have quelled it sooner.” Sarvyl said as Mollimo tapped a few hidden switches on his desk, a Dwemer relic brought in from Skyrim. After a few moments and the whirring of machinery, a hidden compartment holding a roughly bound black ledger opened.
Mollimo took out the ledger and opened it on his desk. After checking a few reports lying scattered across it, he scribbled a few numbers and symbols into the pages, crossing out the line above. “We can arrange for a ferry to Elswyr, and from there, a carriage to the Imperial City. After that, getting to Skyrim is a task for you alone.” Mollimo handed the ledger to him, producing an identical one from his own robes. Sarvyl slipped his ledger into a hidden pocket.
“I have no doubt that you can work flawlessly after I leave. Just remember, when they find me out, you must play the idiot. I duped you, I cheated you, you felt there was something wrong but never noticed anything, the usual sort of thing.” Sarvyl said as Mollimo stood beside him. The two gazed out at Alinor. “Down with the Thalmor.” Sarvyl whispered.
“Down with the Thalmor.” Mollimo repeated. Sarvyl cast a glance at the elf. He had found him as a waif, a thin, reedy boy. With coin, and an education, he had turned the boy from his apprentice into a master of the art. He had infiltrated the Thalmor years ago, and had provided Sarvyl his own entrance. He was like a son to Sarvyl.
Sarvyl pulled back the wards as he exited. He began breathing deeply, as if fuming. “Morrowind will not be assimilated by the Aldmeri Dominion, like Elswyr. We will join of our own accord, or not at all!” He slammed the door. This time, as he walked the halls, he could see brief smiles as the Altmer mistakenly believed he had been bested, not knowing that they were allowing free reign of a Dunmer who could bring the Dominion to its knees. As he reached his own chambers, he cast his wards and checked for listeners. Satisfied, he began packing, throwing his necessities into a pack he was willing to carry. He removed the black robes and donned a plain workman’s outfit, sliding on small, concealed bits of leather. They might stop a knife thrust, or an arrow, but not a blade. He threw the black robes back on and called for a servant. As the servant came in, so too came an unwanted, but nonetheless expected, guest. Cyrellin Highbinder, a high member of the Thalmor Inner Council, whose chambers were much higher up in the Consulate. His robes were immaculate, the golden embellishments sparkling like miniature suns.
“Chancellor Llando, leaving us so soon?” He asked, hints of curiosity entering his self-superior voice. “But it feels as if you only just arrived. It seems a shame to lose you so soon.” A threat? Or merely a goodbye? Definitely a threat, decided Sarvyl. He needed to disarm the situation.
Sarvyl huffed impatiently. “We have been having some disagreements concerning Morrowind and the Dominion. I need to return to my superiors and discuss our possible alliance.” He spoke hurriedly, as though he truly intended to speak to his masters soon. Sarvyl was not a member of House Redoran, the current leaders of Morrowind, nor had ever met the leaders in fact.
A smile touched the impassive face of Cyrellin. “Well, in that case, best to be off soon. Which course do you intend to take?” He asked, slightly less intense, the story sensible, but also a bit hollow for a master of the Great Game.
Sarvyl decided the truth would be the best course for some time, as his movements would be monitored, and if he told the truth, it was likely he could return as a believable ally. “I would take a ferry to Elswyr, and from there, carriage to the Imperial City. I would expect an invitation to the Thalmor Embassy in the City upon my arrival.” He had had no intentions of Thalmor parties, but necessity required diversions to feign friendship.
Cyrellin smiled. “Counselor Jorath will be more than happy to host you.” He said, no doubt ironically; the Thalmor were never happy to host anything, merely to enjoy their power. “Good day Chancellor.” He said as he left.
Sarvyl was ready to breath a sigh of relief, but swallowed it as the servant lifted his pack. The servant was no doubt a plant from Cyrellin, and sent to watch Sarvyl as he left. Not rising to the bait, Sarvyl walked out brusquely. “Follow me.” He snapped at the servant, a willowy Breton woman, who looked like she was more use cleaning than carrying. It was too late to reconsider. As Sarvyl exited the Consulate, he turned and gazed back up at the rising white stone, gleaming in the sunlight, not a single makers mark upon the unblemished surface. How can something so beautiful hide such corruption? Sarvyl mused to himself as a carriage pulled up to escort him to the docks. He entered the carriage, followed by the servant girl, who deposited him pack beside him and sat opposite him, eyes down, mouth silent. At the docks, Sarvyl presented his papers to the harbormaster, who scrutinized them more thoroughly than a miser looking over his vault of coin. Finally sure everything was in order, Sarvyl and the Breton girl were sent to a large white ferry, shaped to resemble a swan, and given a cabin.
“My name is Gabriella.” The Breton woman said suddenly as she stood silently in the cabin. Sarvyl hadn’t looked at her since he had left the Consulate, but now there was no fear she would report to her masters. She had long brown hair which curled at the ends, and large, blue eyes. Her skin looked too soft to have been a laborer long.
“I am Sarvyl Llando, Thalmor Chancellor to Morrowind.” He told her. She gave a slight twitch at the word Thalmor, though whether a smirk of self-indulgence or contempt, he would never know. “Stand watch at my door. I do not wish to be disturbed.” He told her. She exited the room and he cast the listening wards again. Pulling out the ledger, he examined the last line, the one Mollimo had written. The code was old, and impossible to figure out without the key phrase, which was passed from member to member and the most closely guarded secret of Sarvyl’s rebellion. After a moment deciphering, he read the message. New information suggests the Blades are not completely destroyed, as we had believed. Seek them out, and they may prove useful allies. Your informant in Skyrim will meet you in Falkreath. His name is Bjork Farenson.
Sarvyl pondered this information as the ferry set off for Elswyr, carrying him and his new servant Gabriella. Unknown to the ferryman, the Thalmor, and the Breton woman, the man sitting in the cabin, the man who they all assumed was a close friend of the Thalmor, gave a silent smirk. They had just provided passage away from their stronghold for the Spymaster of the Lost Talons, the shadow organization that was working toward the destruction of the Thalmor.
Sarvyl had no problems adjusting to the rocking motion of the ship at sea, Gabriella however, had taken to lying down on the cabin’s spare cot and groaning at every wave that hit the ship, polling with the motion of the sea. How she ever managed to make it to the Sumerset Isles in the first place was a mystery, one which Sarvyl did not have time to ponder.
Sarvyl was bent over a map which was secured to a small table by heavy weights, the map depicting the whole of Tamriel. It was not the most exact way to plan a route, but the major thoroughfares were marked in each country, as well as each city they would pass. Sarvyl walked his fingers through Elswyr, into Cyrodiil, and paused at the Imperial City. He needed to get to Skyrim, but if he remained with a tail, what better way to get rid of them than by going through Morrowind, exactly the way he was expected to go.
This ingenious plan was punctuated by a loud groan from Gabriella, who was pale and sickly looking. A servant of the Thalmor deserved no less, but he couldn’t help but feel pity for the poor soul. He moved to one of the portholes in the cabin and held it open. As the salty breeze was carried into the cabin, Gabriella jumped up from the bed and ran to the opening. Sarvyl waited patiently as she disgorged her previous few meals, then some more. A grumbled thanks was all he received as she returned to the cot.
“While you lay down here and enjoy the ride, I’m going to the upper deck to speak with the captain. Don’t touch my things.” He warned. He picked up the black ledger as turned to face him and her eyes locked onto it, her body frozen for half a second as she saw it. Sarvyl didn’t miss it. There was no doubt in his mind now that she was a Thalmor agent, and sent to take knowledge back to her masters, though if it required another ferry ride, he was almost assured she would never make it.
He exited the cabin and made his way up, the top deck almost overflowing with stir-crazy passengers fleeing their cramped quarters. The coast of Elswyr was in sight, the sands shining like diamonds against the dark blue of the sea. Overhead, thunderclouds were threatening a deluge. Sarvyl climbed up and up until he found the helmsman.
“Where might I find this captain of this vessel?” Inquired Sarvyl, almost shouting over the noise of the gulls, the people, the sea, and the approaching storm. He was thankful he had abandoned the heavy cloak of the Thalmor for now, or else he was sure he would have blown off.
“You’re looking at him.” Responded the burly Redguard, long black hair tied back in thick rows, dark brown eyes peering into the distance under a brow as threatening as the horizon. All he wore was a pair of loose pants in a shade of green that hurt Sarvyl’s eyes. “And if this storm coming has anything to say about it, I won’t be captain of a ship for much longer.”
“That bad?” Sarvyl asked as he inspected the man’s myriad tattoos, one of them catching his eye. It was a dragon, which covered some of his back, but on the foot of the dragon, where the talons belonged, was fire.
“I can feel it in my bones.” The captain responded, eyes glued to the coast. “Unless I can make it to shore in the next hour, which I’m shore I won’t.” He laughed at the black humor of his own joke.
Sarvyl stared at the shore as well, standing beside the captain. “You can feel it in your bones, eh? Even if they were missing, or lost?” He inquired.
The captain cast a quick glance at Sarvyl before responding and staring back toward the distance. “The only thing I’ve ever lost were a pair of Talons.” He replied, adding the extra emphasis on the word talons just as Sarvyl had known he would. “It’s a rather interesting story, I’ll come down to your cabin and tell you about it.” The captain said as another crew member replaced him at the helm.
The pair walked back down into the ferry, finding Gabriella passed out on the cot, still groaning in her sleep. Sarvyl shut the door and cast wards, nodding at the captain when it was safe to speak.
“I had thought the Altmer I talked to was just crazy, that he was making up this whole resistance thing.” The Redguard said. He extended his hand. “Kaltrot.”
“Sarvyl.” Sarvyl responded, shaking the hand warmly. “I take it the Altmer you’re referring to was my apprentice, Mollimo.” A nod from Kaltrot was the answer. “Good, good. Then you can give me the aid I will require.” He said, pulling Kaltrot to the map he had on the table before he was interrupted by a slight cough.
“Don’t you mean, the aid we will require?” She asked as the men turned around. “I saw the ledger and I knew you were one of us.” She said, pulling back her sleeve to reveal a tattoo of her own in the shape of a stylized claw or talon.
Sarvyl laughed. “This whole time, I had assumed you were a Thalmor agent.” He chuckled, sitting on his cot. “I had planned on killing you by the time I got to the Imperial City.”
Gabriella shrugged. “I had hoped to kill you while in Elswyr and blame it on Khajitts. You know how that country is.” She said simply. “You said that Mollimo was your apprentice?” She asked. Sarvyl nodded. “Then that would make you…” She trailed off.
“The Spymaster, yes.” Sarvyl finished quietly. Outside, a driving rain was beginning to beat down, and the waves were growing larger. “Kaltrot, what are the chances of us making it to shore?” He asked, shutting the porthole.
“Not good, but with Talos, anything is possible.” He responded. “I’ll secure us a landing boat, bring what you have with you.” He said, standing a second before he was brought to the ground by a colossal wave slamming against the side of the ferry. “On second thought, come now.” He said, running out of the room.
Sarvyl followed hastily, not looking to meet his demise in a watery grave, and not willing to give the Thalmor the satisfaction. He grabbed up his bag and lent a hand to Gabriella, who was having trouble finding her footing. She took the hand and the two took off, sprinting up the stairwell and breaching the top deck just as another humongous wave broke the deck.
The pair were tossed around the deck, sliding almost off the side as they wiped water from their eyes. Sarvyl spotted Kaltrot unfastening the smaller boat, which was already packed with a few crate of something. He dragged himself and Gabriella to the small boat and boarded, unfastening lines within the craft. Together, Kaltrot and Sarvyl had the craft in the water in short order, watching behind them as ferry was split in two by a crashing wave.
They had no time to think of how lucky they had been as the sky darkened and sound disappeared. Above their heads, and approaching fast, was a wall of water larger than the ferry had been, and it was falling.
Sarvyl woke slowly to the sun in his eyes. He raised his hand against the glare, feeling grains of sand falling against his face. The sound of waves lapping against the shore and gulls in the sky above him were the only things he could distinguish. Sarvyl Llando laughed. It started as a light chuckle, but broke into a full, hearty laugh that shook him. He had survived the thrashing sea which had attempted to destroy him.
The merriment was lost as he heard a scream not too far off. He opened his eyes and picked himself up, taking inventory of himself and his surroundings. He was in a sheltered alcove, surrounded by smooth stone cliffs on three sides and the sea at his back. The sand he stood on was damp and felt like mud. He was wearing only a pair of breeches and waterlogged boots, the rest of his gear had disappeared.
The scream came again, over the ledge to his right. He cursed. At high tide, the alcove was probably beneath the water, but he wasn’t waiting four hours to find out what was happening. Casting fire at the smooth wall, he burnt away at the face until small, jagged holes appeared. He grabbed them and lifted himself up, the pain of the heat not so bad for the Ash in his veins.
As he crested the alcove, he saw Gabriella kicking furiously at a pair of Khajit, her hands tied behind her back. The two were hissing and brandishing daggers as they kept out of the reach of her feet. “Help!” She screamed again, landing a kick to the head of a Khajit, who fell into the sand, blinking.
Sarvyl pulled himself up and ran toward the fighters, readying a spell of paralysis in his hand. When he reached Gabriella, he pushed her aside and cast the spell. The Khajit had not expected it, and fell to the ground, paralyzed. The second, Sarvyl delivered a ringing blow across the jaw, knocking him unconscious. Picking up his steel dagger, Sarvyl cut the ropes binding Gabriella’s hands and handed her the paralyzed Khajit’s dagger.
“Thanks.” Gabriella said, rubbing circulation back into her wrists. “When I found these two tying me up, I thought I was a goner for sure.” She kicked at the unconscious Khajit, smiling as he groaned in pain.
“Don’t mention it.” Sarvyl told her, grabbing the Khajit’s rope and binding them hands and feet. “Have you seen Kaltrot?” He asked as the spell finally broke on the second Khajit, who began hissing and spitting insults. Gabriella shook her head.
The Khajit who was awake spat at Sarvyl’s feet. “Jo’zaharr will not stand for this insult. You will untie Jo’zaharr and return his dagger, then we will fight to the death.” The cat hissed. His coat was a mangy gold, with black and brown stripes. He had three earrings in each ear and long braids. His front right fang was made of gold.
“Pirate.” Sarvyl said to Gabriella, who was scanning the shoreline. “He and his friend must have had their ship taken in the same storm as our boat.” Sarvyl guessed, at which the cat hissed.
“Storm, yes it was a storm, though no storm of nature. Jo’zaharr knows this. The bones had said there would be clear skies, until the bones spoke of elves. Jo’zaharr knows.” The Khajit, apparently Jo’zaharr continued. “There was to be good prey, fat prey, until the un-storm was called.” Sarvyl silenced him by placing the dagger under his throat.
“What are you talking about?” He asked. The cat was making no sense. “You’re probably on skooma anyway. Oh, what’s the point?” He asked. “I say we kill them and be done with it.” He said to Gabriella, pushing the tip of the dagger a bit harder into the Khajit’s neck.
“Kill Ra’jize, but do not kill Jo’zaharr. Jo’zaharr will lead you to safety, to town, with other elves and men. Yes.” Jo’zaharr said, motioning to the unconscious Khajit. “Ra’jize was bad friend, worse crew member. Always took largest share, never did the work.” Jo’zaharr went on.
Sarvyl pulled the blade away. “If you swear by the Nine to lead us to safety, I free you.” Sarvyl told him.
“Yes, yes. By Nine, by Eight, by Sheogorath himself. Jo’zaharr swears.” Jo’zaharr said. A rumble like thunder followed the last, along with a maniacal laugh. Sarvyl brushed aside the Mad God’s little show and cut the binds of Jo’zaharr. Almost without warning, Jo’zaharr had gotten up and twisted the neck of Ra’jize. “He will never follow, and he was bad Khajit.”
Sarvyl watched impassively, sheathing the dagger. He grabbed a tattered vest off the now dead Khajit, and tossed it on. His boots were now dry, and the vest covered him somewhat. Gabriella had not lost her clothing, and the jingle of gold even said she may have found Sarvyl’s coinpurse, which would be extremely helpful when they reached a town.
“Where is the nearest city?” Sarvyl asked the Khajit, who was now rethinking his choice, glancing into the open desert, thinking of escape. After a few moments of deliberation, the Jo’zaharr sighed.
“Nearest city that will take you is New Leyawiin, still being rebuilt after Great War.” The big cat said, pointing northeast. “It is not so bad as Anvil, but we will not be given warm welcome.” The way he said it held a note of sorrow and apology. The Khajitts had been the primary force the Dominion had used to fight southern Cyrodiil.
“Lead on.” Was all Sarvyl said. The sun was sinking lower in the sky with each passing moment, and he was already behind schedule. Luckily, he was now under no obligation to attend any further Thalmor parties, which was a grand boon to him. The three set off northeast, following the coastline. Jo’zaharr showed the two wayward travelers edible roots and plants, as well as dangers to avoid. It had grown dark, and the heat of the desert had slackened off when Sarvyl noticed the firelight ahead.
Hushing the other two into silence, Sarvyl unsheathed his dagger and readied himself to call forth a few spells. As he approached the fire, he could make out one shape outlined by the low burning embers. He sheathed his dagger and lowered his hands as he called out to the camper.
“Kaltrot!” Sarvyl called as he motioned Gabriella and Jo’zaharr to join him. The three approached the fire as the Redguard stood and assessed them. There was a long scimitar belted at his waist, which Sarvyl could vaguely remember him strapping on as they entered the small boat. A single scar across his bare chest was all that told of the wreck.
Kaltrot waited a moment before speaking. “You both look terrible, and who’s the Khajit?” Was all he said, staring intensely at the cat, making Jo’zaharr fidget nervously.
“This is our guide, Jo’zaharr. He’s taking us to New Leyawiin. But we have no idea how far off we are.” Sarvyl answered, resting by the fire. Gabriella joined him, followed by Kaltrot and a hesitant Jo’zaharr.
“We’re in luck. If I’m anything, I’m a sailor, and I could tell you exactly where I am with a clear view of the night sky. The storm washed us much closer to Leyawiin than I had ever planned.” He swept his hand northeast. “Not much longer though, and we go from desert to swamplands. New Leyawiin will give us a grand welcome, I fought for her in the Great War.”
Jo’zaharr started fidgeting further. Sarvyl glanced at the Khajit. “You said we would not receive a warm welcome.” Sarvyl told him accusingly. Jo’zaharr glanced into the darkness.
The Khajit sighed. “Jo’zaharr was among those who attacked the city of Leyawiin.” He confessed. “We had sworn we would do anything for those who returned us the moons, though now Jo’zaharr is beginning to doubt the Thalmor had anything to do with it.”
The group digested this news slowly, Kaltrot casting a wary and burning eye on the cat, Gabriella shuddering, and Sarvyl staring at the fire intensely. Slowly, Sarvyl reached his hand towards the Khajit. “Welcome to the Lost Talons.” He said simply as the Khajit shook his hand.