- by Puddle
"Mr. Valen? Where is Lebber Valen?" rang the voice of the delivery man.
"He's in the library." replied the doorman.
The kid stumbled around for a bit, until the doorman pointed to a door. The child went through the door, and saw a man sitting in a large seat, wearing extravagant clothes.
"Mr. Valen, I have a package for you."
"Is that how you address the head of House Redoran?"
"Um, sorry Mr. Lebber Valen sir! I have received a package for you!"
"Well, what are you waiting for? Give it to me!"
The delivery boy put the package in his hand.
"Come on boy! Get out!"
He put down his book and opened the package. It had a letter in it, and the contents disturbed him. 'We need to make... adjustments' he thought. He burnt the package, and it's letter, and put on his robe. He walked out of the office, and when he reached the door, the doorman inquired;
"Where are you going sir?"
"For a walk... a very long walk..."
"Be back soon, I've heard rumors something big is about to go down!"
"Yeah... I'm sure it is..."
Lebber Valen pulled up his hood, as there was dust-storm brewing. He walked to the stilt strider, and bought a ticket. Miles away, he could still see the smoke, of the city of Ald'Ruhn.
The Sorrow of the Shadow
One week later...
Seven o' Clock. The lights were dimming. It was almost a perfect night for the shadow. But still, something was wrong. The swamp gave a pungent odor tonight, as if trying to best the repulsiveness of the murk. But it is not from the border, where the foul Dark Elves live. Sour as it was, it seemed familiar, but why was it familiar? However, it would not divert Lieutenant Leemarkiis' attention away from the sunset. Once the orb came down, the lights across Argonia would be extinguished, and the Shadow would grace us with her Divine beauty. As of this morning, over a hundred hatch-lings were born, and tonight, they are being delivered to the compound, where they will meet eyes with the Shadow, and will receive her blessing. Now, the sun was a crimson figure, and the heat waves made it shimmer as if it were bleeding. The swamp acted as the blood, as the reflection of the sun turned it into a sea of red muck. The Shadow could be contained no longer, the sun had set. City after city, town after town, village after village, lights went off. The void comprised of violet and black was the only thing visible in the night sky. Where was the shadow? Leemarkiis wondered. Wait, what is that light? One light was left on, and it was getting bigger, or was it coming closer? It was moving.
It was the odor. That smell, it was ash. As the carts came closer, all Leemarkiis could do was stare, there they were, the hatch-lings, but the carts were on fire. The Dunmer were controlling the hell-hounds pulling them, and as seven carts turned for the border, three didn't. "Close the gates!!" he cried, but it was too late, as the carts slammed through the walls, Leemarkiis jumped. As he soared, he threw three throwing stars, and he cut the foul Elves by the throat. Something was still wrong however. Suddenly, his chest burned. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't move. As he fell, he was at peace, knowing he killed the invaders.
Draneekiis was pacing, making the whole room nervous. He was wearing his glass armor, so he was obviously not in a good mood. He paced so for about a minute, finally opening with;
"Forty-Eight. Forty-Eight assassins dead. Now I ask all of you, why did they die?"
One cadet rose, replying, "Because they were not trained for this battle?"
"I mean, they were not trained for this sir!"
"What do you suggest they should have learned?"
"They should have learned how to fight sir! They should have been tau-"
Draneekiis interrupted, "Forty-Nine."
The cadet coughed up blood, and as a needle flew from his throat, he crumpled up and fell to the floor.
"Now, the reason you slimy maggots cannot defend yourselves is because you are too busy picking daisies and scrubbing each-other's tails that you cannot train hard enough!" Draneekiis yelled. "So, get outside and practice without a complaint! If I hear one moan, one groan, or one yawn, I'll rip out your tongue! Move you maggots! Move, MOVE, MOVE!"
As the Shadowscales scrambled out the door, he walked into the hallway leading to his office. He was furious, so he did what always calmed him down, he pulled out his dagger, and dragged it across the wall, forming one long line until he reached his destination. Ugh, now for the worst part of the job, paperwork. Draneekiis loathed this part. Somehow he had to explain why forty-nine Shadowscales were dead, and how the hatch-lings disappeared. Now at his office, he looked out the window and saw the frightened Shadowscales practicing. "Weaklings." he muttered. He tried his door, but it seemed stuck. He pushed, but it still wouldn't give. He rammed it with his shoulder, and when he looked up, he almost screamed. He saw scales, hatch-ling scales, nailed to the wall. Blood poured upon his desk. Bones scattered upon the floor. Inscribed on the wall in blood print, was, "THE HOUSE REDORAN SHALL DESTROY THE PEACE, RISE THE STORMS, AND KILL THE MUCK-DWELLERS." The blood dripped off the walls, forming two horrific blood atronachs, and as Draneekiis cut them down, they reformed instantly. He threw a throwing star, which he enchanted with fire, at each of them. They exploded, and as their blood dried, they didn't get back up.
Suddenly the crack of thunder hit the air. A hell-storm was amassing outside, with fire and molten stones flailing in the wind, and daedra armored in ice. At the head in the mob stood a tall figure, covered in a highly decorated suit of electrified ice. The army was faceless. The only thing visible was ice and their dark, piercing eyes. Draneekiis tried to warn the Shadowscales, but it was too late, as he got to the compound gates, they burst open, and the lookouts, still in shock, were catapulted off the towers. The daedra charged, and the walls crumbled at their mercy, as if they were bowing to the invaders.
As his troops stood paralyzed by the daedra's might, Draneekiis grabbed his katana. It gleamed in the lightning, and he yelled to his Shadowscales "Attack!" They complied, momentarily disappearing, then reappearing behind the hell-spawns. As they attacked, Draneekiis only saw blood spurting into the air, along with bits of ice, who was dying he did not know, but he couldn't let it distract him. He leaped into the daedra, and hacked them apart with all his might. The Argonians fought and fought, but were constantly losing ground. As more gates opened, they soon had to just run. The daedra were fast, and Draneekiis was losing troops rapidly.
They darted through the trees for hours on end, their only energy the will to survive. Tired and thirsty, they ran until an arrow caught Draneekiis by the ankle. He fell from the trees, and landed on a rock with a hard thud. The daedra were coming, and he grabbed his bow. He held them back, for they cracked from his precise arrows. Fighting for what seemed like, and eternity, he ended up exhausted and numb, the battle had stopped, and Draneekiis lie in the dirt. He waited, for an hour, until two Shadowscales found him. They dragged him to the nearest town, and as he saw the crumbling buildings, fire & smoke, torn up ground and trees, he fainted. Many men fell that day, and their race to survive pushed the Argonians all the way back to Lilmoth.
Draneekiis awoke later in a burning house. His troops surrounded, him and were relieved that he was okay. He looked at his leg, now bandaged, and tested it. He could move, and peered out of the window. He saw daedra, and realized him and his last five soldiers were soon to be discovered. The building was burning, the ponds and marshes were filled with blood, and the ground was a dull gray pile of ash. And as the daedra were advancing on Lilmoth, Draneekiis had to think fast. He climbed to the roof of the house, and when they demons walked past, the Shadowscales pounced. As the daedra's ice shattered, their black souls were being ripped from their body. While the Shadowscales fought, all that was visible was ice, only ice, it flew through the air, clattered on the streets, and blinded the Argonians. There were quite a few daedra, but they were put down quickly out of the Shadowscales anger.
When they were done, the ice was broken at their feet, and all that remained was the large figure they had seen at the compound. The remaining five soldiers were bloodied, wet and cold, but they walked on. The sun was setting, a reminder of how this all started. And there he was the leader, standing around a pile of bodies, inside a burning house. He had a trail of dead soldiers and guards leading up to him, all mangled and thrashed. By the throat, he held a Shadowscale. Hastily, Draneekiis grabbed a nearby pitchfork and charged the ice giant. The giant grabbed the pitchfork, and vaulted Draneekiis into a beam. Pieces of burnt wood fell onto him, preventing him from moving. The other assassins were struck by lightning, and were reduced to piles, their flesh ripping from their bodies. The Giant dropped the man and he crumpled to the floor. The giants armor suddenly disappeared, and revealed Lebber Valen, the head of House Redoran. He walked up, apparently having a speech to say.
"Ha! You fool, you thought you could best House Redoran? We are sick of you lizards, you foul smelling Betmer! Especially you Draneekiis, always so proud. You don't deserve your title! Ugh! Now how should I dispose of you? Should I rip off your arms and make your hands pluck out your eyes? Or maybe set your legs on fire and force your corpse to dance? I could turn you into a skeleton, and make you rip off your own bones. Or, I could turn you into a Daedra, and make you live as the thing you hate the most. No matter, I have the perfect plan for you my child..."
As the Dark Elf descended on him, Draneekiis tried to move, but he couldn't, and his finger touched him, Draneekiis' eyes closed, and he stopped breathing.
The Shadow's Pride
Groggily waking later, he found himself in an the town square. The city was now was dark and the air was dry, lit crimson by the sky. There were fires everywhere, no building left unscathed. The walls were crumbling, and he could hear the screams of citizens trapped under the rubble. He also heard a rattle, behind him. He leaped, just in time to dodge the piece of roof that fell where he was standing. On the ground, he noticed he was wearing a dark grey robe, with an Amulet around his neck. The amulet was too dark for him to decipher, but it felt odd, cold, and firm with a unidentifiable shape. Holding it up to the fire, it seemed like a face, but it was distorted, and black as the void. It only made him shiver. Then Draneekiis saw Lebber Valen rise up from the fire, now in a bright orange, extravagant robe different that any Draneekiis had any seen before. It had many spikes, and jewels embedded within its edges. It was triangular at the shoulders, and had three layers on the bottom, it looked as if he were a king. He looked up at the roof behind Draneekiis, and he started chanting in a language he had never heard. Draneekiis looked at the roofs, and saw Dunmer in Dark Red robes chanting with him. Draneekiis still couldn't understand the language, but saw Lebber Valen was concentrated on the Dunmer, so he charged and tried to jab him, but was paralyzed before he reached the Elf.
"You are like the others, you have underestimated me. I will show you that I have control, I have power, I AM A GOD!"
Lebber pushed Draneekiis towards the building, and he flew into the wall, which crumbled under his force. The building was filled with embers. The walls were charcoal black, with spikes protruding out of them. Draneekiis was surrounded by the hooded Dunmer, still chanting a spell he could not understand. They were all wearing glowing red amulets, with faces... Draneekiis concentrated on them. They were the faces of the Argonians who were killed in the assault! Lebber Valen entered the building, chanting with the Dunmer. He had some sort of aura around him, but it wasn't completely visible, it was wavering, and surrounded him like a shield. Draneekiis finally realized something that horrified him. The amulet around his neck was also a face, but it was his own! Lebber Valen was next to him, and Draneekiis could see more Argonian faces glowing red in the aura. Draneekiis looked down at his amulet, and it was glowing red too.
In a demonic voice, Lebber started, "You cannot defeat me knave! House Redoran will not tolerate the outsiders! We only will accept those worthy of our power! Soon we will own Tamriel, for Dunmer reign supreme above all others! Now for you, my puppet, you shall die!"
The Dunmer descended on Draneekiis, and he punched wildly. As his fists collided with the Dark Elves, he realized they wouldn't stop. He crawled over the Elves, and he ran into the square. He started to escape, but the ground shook. He tripped and cut his face on the rough stones. Walls of spikes formed around all exits, and he was trapped. Lebber Valen pointed at Draneekiis, then headed to the north. The Dunmer took off their hoods, some were vampires, some were distorted and mangled, but all were angry. Then, they flew at Draneekiis. As they descended upon him, Draneekiis cast one look up, and through the burning sky and thundering clouds, he could see the Shadow. As fangs ripped into his throat, claws into his chest, Draneekiis screamed. And he last thing he saw was the Shadow, as it blew him a kiss goodnight.