Ulef Black-Foot bared his fangs. He sprinted past trees and bushes, feeling no sting as their hard branches cut gashes in his lean, pale face. His red eyes stared out at his quarry ahead of him, its soft footsteps like a drumbeat to his heightened senses. His prey cut itself as it ran past, and the smell of its blood set his brain on fire. The moons in the sky seemed to hide themselves behind the clouds from the carnage that was about to unfold.
Ulef jumped. He landed on his prey's back, throwing it to the ground. The fawn grunted and whimpered softly, but to no avail. Ulef bit down on its neck, drinking his fill of its blood. As he feasted, he listened for sounds in the swamps around him. He heard a soft footfall. He glanced up. A soft whistling sound seemed to be approaching, but Ulef saw nothing.
Aum-Je watched as his arrow struck the Nord vampire's head off. He approached the lifeless corpse, retrieved his arrow and the dust from the headless body, and began his trek back to Leyawiin.
Chapter I:The Hunters and Hunted
Aum-Je walked through Leyawiin's gates, feeling the sun warm his scaly skin. He watched as a group of people of mixed races walked out of a tavern. They were smiling and laughing, and they sported with each other as good friends would. The vampires will never feel like those people do. Their unnatural hunger removes all other feelings, thought Aum-Je. In a way, I almost pity them. Aum-Je brought Ulef Black-Foot's dust to his contact. He received his payment, then went on his way. Aum-Je grabbed a piece of bread and some ham, bought a copy of the Black Horse Courier, then sat down on a bench to eat. As he did, he scanned the paper. Amidst headlines of the stories of the day, Aum-Je found what he was looking for: freelance work advertised in the paper. He finished his lunch, saddled up his horse Springfoot, and began his trek north to the Imperial City.
Approximately a day later, Aum-Je sat in the Archmage's Lobby of the Arcane University, listening to the rain as it splashed on the cobblestones outside. He was a bit depressed that he was not the only one to meet this contract. He could already tell by the look of the girl across from him that she intended to take this contract as well.
She was a Wood Elf, with shoulder-length nut-brown hair and dark eyes that stared out at the world around her. She looked as though she should be hanging around the Market District with her friends rather than sitting in some dusty reception room. Aum-Je knew better, though. He could tell by the way she sat and the way she held herself that she was a skilled assassin, and undoubtedly as skilled with the bow as Aum-Je himself was.
Aum-Je heard footsteps splashing through the puddles outside. The girl moved every so slightly into a more alert postion. The door swung open, and a cloaked Dunmer walked through. He hung up his cloak and turned around.
He was a middle-aged Dunmer man with a lined face that wore a large smile on it. He had a short black beard and black hair that bore a rogue knot in the back. He wore leather armor, with a steel broadsword at his side and a lute slung over his back. He extended his hand.
"Giras Andrethi, Bard," he said. "I adventure around, play music, kill undead, met beautiful women, all the usual stuff."
Aum-Je smiled and shook Giras' hand. "Aum-Je, Witchhunter, and your life sounds much more fun than mine."
Giras turned to the girl and held out his hand. His grin shrank by a few molars and he drew back his hand slightly when she looked up at him and said, in a quite voice, "Fara. I kill people."
"Well, uh, that's nice, I suppose," Giras said, while Aum-Je sniggered behind his clawed hand.
Aum-Je listened and heard voices in the courtyard to the rear. The lobby's back door opened and two people walked in. The first was a heavily-muscled Imperial with brown eyes and a scar on his right cheek. He wore the armor of the Imperial Watch, with a green hood in place of a helmet and a silver war axe at his side. The second was a High Elf woman in blue robes with an elven dagger sheathed at her waist.
"Hi, we're the Mages Guild members who have taken up the contract," the Imperial said. "I'm Carius Vergilius, Battlemage, and this is Estoril, a Mages Guild conjurer."
"A pleasure. I'm Aum-Je and this is Fara and Giras Andrethi," Aum-Je replied, motioning towards the other two beside him. "Do you know anything about this contract other than what was in the advertisment?" Aum-Je asked.
"Not really," Estoril replied, "although I expect that we'll know soon enough."
Almost on cue, the portal in the floor flashed, and Raminus Polus stepped out. "Is this everyone?" he asked. "Good. I suppose you know the basic details of the contract, that the Mages Guild is commissioning everyone it can find to hunt down a necromancer. The necromancer in question goes by the name of the Bloodmaster. We know he wields exceptional power amongst the necromancers due to his ability to not only raise the dead, but also to bind and control others through blood. He is extremely dangerous, and all we know is that he is somewhere in the West Weald."
Giras raised his hand.
Raminus turned to him and said, "No, your individul pay will not be impacted by the number of you present. The Mages Guild has plenty of funds, and you will all be paid the full five thousand septims promised in the advert."
Giras lowered his hand.
"Ah, yes, one more thing," Raminus continued. "A mage by the name of Mogakh gro-Gor went out already to hunt for the Bloodmaster. If you should find him, please help him return to the guild and tell him that his master waits for him to return. Now, if there are no more questions, I suggest that you get a move on."
Immediately, all the hunters got up and left.
Chapter II: In the West Weald
Carius sat at the campfire, staring up at the gem-studded sky as he sharpened the edge of his gleaming axe. As he worked, he watched the stars overhead course almost imperceptibly slowly while Masser and Secunda shepherded them on their way. He watched Estoril out of the corner of his eye as she sat in her tent, reading the study notes she was missing back at the University. Always the scholar, he thought, smiling as he ran his finger down the length of the blade. He listened to the noises of the night around him, which mixed beautifully with the notes Giras plucked out of his lute outside of the camp. It is a peaceful night, he thought. Back in the city, the drinkers and revelers would just be leaving the bars and inns to go home. Aum-Je had went out earlier to scout and hunt for food, and Fara had stalked off by herself.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of footsteps running through the grass to his left. Carius stood up and hefted his axe. Just then, Aum-Je ran into the campsite with a worried look on his face. "Undead," he panted. "Lots of them. Coming this way."
"Well, isn't that just brilliant!" Giras said from outside of the camp.
Carius stood up and hefted his axe. He strapped his shield to his arm and donned his armor. He heard Giras draw his broadsword and break a vial of poison over its length. Estoril and Aum-Je stood behind Carius while Giras stood behind him.
Giras gestured quickly. A green bolt of magicka spiraled slowly up into the air and detonated, throwing green light over the landscape below. A mass of rotting bodies could be seen moving over the landscape. There were many zombies, some missing arms, others heads, and others still wearing the armor and holding the weapons they died with.
Aum-Je's bow twanged, and an arrow shot forward and punched through the skull of one of the zombies, killing it instantly. Estoril's hands flashed, and twin bolts of fire flew forward and detonated among the zombies, scattering them and slaying several. They did not stop.
Carius threw lightning bolts at them with pinpoint accuracy, but the undead only ran quicker. Aum-Je's bow hummed as waves of arrows flew towards the foe, but it was not enough. The zombies began to close.
The heroes entered into up-close combat. Carius swung his axe forward. It bit into one of the undead's arms. He drew back, then lashed forward again with his axe and felled the zombie. Another zombie approached. He punched out quickly with his shield and hacked at the rotting corpse.
Off to his left, Giras lashed out with his broadsword. The zombie was immune to his poison, but Giras felled it with a few quick blows from his sword. He flashed his hands out and knocked down two zombies with paralysis spells. Before they had the chance to get up, he slew them with his sword.
Estoril stood behind Carius, her arms raised. Fire flashed from her open hands and burned gashes in the undead with her magic. Carius' wide, sweeping axe swings kept the undead at bay, but they pressed on.
Aum-Je shot an arrow quickly. It shot into the eye of a zombie and pierced through the other side, felling it. He shot two more at another zombie, one spinning it around while the other stuck into its back and knocked it down. It die not rise again. A third zombie, grasping a rusty blade, staggered forward and swung a heavy blow at Aum-Je. He nimbly dodged to the side and reached out. His palm flattened against the creature's side, and its skin began to burn as he pumped fiery magic into its body. He let go, and the zombie fell down dead, with a smoking burn mark in its side in the shape of a hand.
The group fought valiantly, but they were losing ground. The shear mass of the undead bodies pushed them into the center of camp. Aum-Je could almost feel the sense of loss settle upon his shoulders as he fought on. Suddenly, something detonated in the center of the mass of zombies, followed a heartbeat later by a second explosion. Suddenly, droves of arrows pounded into the undead mass like waves on a beach. Their ranks decimated, the zombies were easy pickings for the group and their new helper.
A moment after the undead were finished with, Fara walked into camp. "Your welcome," she said quietly before handing Aum-Je the map, with some small changes on it.