The Wild Hunt: Prologue

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    The sunlight searches for an opening in the canopy of Valenwood’s dense forest. A calm wind sweeps by and rattles the leaves on nearby trees. Calls of every animal you could think of and then some are heard reverberating throughout the area. Then, suddenly, the peaceful hymns of the forest choir are broken with the harping of voices giving orders. A clearing in the forest expertly hidden by illusion magic gives way to a camp occupied by not only the native Bosmer, but a large concentration of Altmer. Some would say that the husks here don’t qualify as Bosmer for any reason except birth. The boys and girls, men and women, young and old that reside here were taken at birth to be used as a focus group for Thalmor indoctrination experiments. Any purpose from slaves to assassins were first filled up by the “subjects” as they called them. Heritage and cultures were completely eliminated. The Green Pact? Ask any one of the Bosmer here and they couldn’t give you a straight answer. An injustice of the highest degree is being committed here, and the ones having their cultural history erased don’t even know it.

    Rows of shoddy beige tents make up the bulk of the camp. Inside sleep hundreds of Bosmer clueless of the world outside. A high-pitched ringing noise pierces through the silence. All of the Bosmer awaken and get ready for their duties like clockwork. The slaves immediately report to the tents of their masters while the soldiers (fodder, as the Thalmor sometimes refer to them) immediately report to the training grounds. An outsider would simply assume this was an average military camp if they were to bypass the illusion. There’s always more to a book than it’s cover, as you already know.

    Deeper into the forest sits another camp completely independent of the other. This is where the “gifted” ones eventually end up whether it be through hard training or natural prowess. Only one Thalmor controls what goes on here. His name is Endayhel, a tall man who only needs his deep resounding voice to beat you down into obedience. Physically, he is nothing to scoff at either. Muscles large enough to rip a man in two along with a wit capable shredding anyone’s willpower reinforce whatever he says. Today, he walks aimlessly around the camp brandishing his sword made with the essence of daedra. Suddenly, he stops at a tent and peers in.

    “Kathia! Kathia, wake up!” The jarring voice of that damned Thalmor overseer could shake me out of my wildest dreams. I jumped out of bed with a feigned enthusiasm like I always do. Anything otherwise will get you a beating. The lot of us learned to obey early in our youth after the incident with Faldil. Something changed after that, to all of us. Your friend’s death at such a young age coupled with the constant reminder of it sure whips a bunch of misfits into line. But, ah, that was around twenty years ago. I can’t dwell on that now. I need to focus. Today is the day I set out to eliminate a group of Nords worshipping their false hero Talos.

    Endayhel, the Thalmor officer in charge of us, led me into his tent after I readied myself. “I trust that I won’t have to explain the mission a second time, Kathia? After all, this isn’t your first assassination mission.”

    “Yes, Master Endayhel. In two hours I will set course for the border to Cyrodiil. The informant will be waiting for me as soon as I cross over. They will lead me to the congregation and I will enter under the disguise of a weary traveler. When the time is ready for me to strike, I will kill every single one of them without prejudice for violating the ban on Talos worship. The scene will be arranged to make it appear as if bandits have raided and I will return to the outpost here in Valenwood.”

    “Failure?”

    “Not an option, Master.”

    That phrase has been my anthem for the past two years. I was only recently invited, well, forced to join in with the assassins. At a young age they tested all of us to see what we had a natural proficiency in. I wasn’t as well off as the other kids. The best I could do was get the boys to do what I say sometimes by giving them a cute smile and fluttering my eyes. Endayhel never appreciated that. The girls didn’t like that either I finally learned. Four years ago one of the girls came at me because her secret boyfriend didn’t want her anymore. She started slinging fire at me and I was forced to take her down with my dagger. I didn’t mean to kill her, but Endayhel thinks I did. My lack of remorse and no hesitation when faced with killing anyone, especially a friend, is what he told me caught his eye. Back then when I heard that, I wouldn’t have agreed. Back then I was still a girl filled with emotions that couldn’t be oppressed no matter how much you were told. Now I know what he was saying. It’s as if he knew I was going to blossom into some heartless shrew who kills anyone on command. Most of my emotions have been eliminated from the equation, but I have kept some in an effort to retain my person. Ugh, I’m thinking too much now. I need to get ready.

    An hour later I am escorted out of my tent. The disguise fooled even myself for a minute. It masks my Bosmer features quite well. Pathetic Nords won’t know what hit them. I hopped into the carriage and looked back at Endayhel who gave me a single nod and we were off. My eyes began to feel heavy and soon my eyelids draped over my eyes only a few minutes after travel.


    “Hey, you! We’re here, wake up!” My restful sleep was ruined by the inappropriate violent shakings of a raggedy old man. It took me a few moments to realize it was nighttime. How long was I out? “Lass, quit your daydreaming! Lets go!” The man ran off in a hurry.

    “Lass? What?” I wasn’t actually confused by what he said, but there’s no way an elf would have said that. My informant has to be either a Nord or an Imperial. I need to keep an eye out on him… which will be hard since I’m already losing him. I took off after him.

    We finally stopped not too far off from a small hut with a thatched roof. I could barely make out the man. He was tall, muscular, and had a long scraggly beard. Definitely a Nord. “This is the place?”

    “Yes, the preaching should be starting soon so you will be able to get in unnoticed. Keep your head down.” I nodded, pulled my hood down a bit tighter, and went off for the house.

    “Praise Talos!” was all I could hear as soon as I entered. This didn’t seem like rogue band of Talos worshippers… this looked like a tavern. What in Oblivion is going on?

    “Surprise, you Thalmor bitch!” I was trained to have perfect reactions but I was caught off-guard and met with a bottle smashing into the back of my head. I fell forward, instinctively grabbed my dagger, and plunged into the chest of the person behind me. Did Endayhel set me up? Is this a test? No, that can’t be! My thoughts were interrupted by the reaction of the drunk patrons of the tavern. There was no need to kill them, they don’t know who I am. I ran out of the bar and back to the carriage as fast as I could. It was still there, but this time with an addition of a dead driver. How did I not notice him before? The illusion magic must have kept me asleep while that man ambushed the driver is the only conclusion.

    “Think, Kathia, think! What do I do?” I panicked. My missions have never failed before. Sure I’ve had a mistake here and there but this… this can’t be salvaged. I have no idea where the actual target is and it’s probably too late. If I return, Endayhel will surely kill me for my failure. I jumped into the main seat of the carriage and pushed the body of the driver onto the ground. The horses immediately took off. Where am I even going? What will I do? Surely Endayhel will find me and I’ll die regardless. I need time to think. I slouched back in the seat and watched the horses carry me as I became lost in my thoughts.


    That was a year ago now. I’m thankful for everything Endayhel taught me because it allowed me to evade capture for so long. The Thalmor were going to catch up to me eventually, I knew that. Up near the border between Cyrodiil and Skyrim a group of Justiciars recognized me and turned me in on a nearby prison cart to Helgen. I’m surprised that Endayhel informed people of who I was. I would be in a lot deeper trouble if he told others what my job was and how important we assassins were to the Thalmor. I should be thankful I’m on this cart about to get my head lobbed off instead of being in their custody. I don’t even want to think of what they would do to me.

    The three Nords in the cart with me carried on with their pointless conversation. Well, only two of them. The man next to me was gagged for some reason. I could see that we finally arrived at the dreary dungeon-town of Helgen. At least it would be a nice change of pace from the frosted-over atmosphere that I saw for so long. The lit torches gave me a bit of warmth too as we rolled in.

    “Damned Thalmor…” were the only words I heard. I snapped out of my daze and looked up to see none other than a group of Thalmor speaking with who I assumed to be the commander of the forces here. I could see them lock eyes with me and my heart instantly sank.

     

    by tortuga_del_destino


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