"Daughter, wake up."
I roused reluctantly. You wouldn't think it, but the ill-fated Bosmer's hidey-hole was actually a rather comfortable place to rest. The large hearth kept the entire chamber well-warmed, even the stone floor, and a spacious chimney prevented smoke from building up even after many hours. Still, I pulled myself back to the present and found Edippa looking down at me.
Unbidden, a thought passed into my mind, and then from my lips.
"You know, mother, we need to find you something sturdier than a deerskin dress. I don't imagine it'll help you much against Draugr."
She smiled down at me, "Oh, thank you. I do appreciate your concern. Perhaps we'll find something suitable in the lower barrow, amongst its treasures. But for now, I'll have to rely on my Lady's protection to keep me safe."
I rolled over and pulled my legs under me in a sitting pose. "You mentioned Dibella before. Do you worship her?"
Edippa's smile grew just a little, "oh, silly daughter, I'm one of her priestesses."
That surprised me. I expected some sign of the office, some fancy robe, elaborate amulet, something. Certainly a humble dress that would look at home on a cook or a barmaid.
"What is it? Don't think I look the part?"
I let out a little laugh. "You've seen right through me, mother. But yes, I expected... I don't know. Something different."
"Let's just say that, for the moment, we're both exiles of a sort. And now we're both heading home to Markarth. Oh, it's such a shame you left before you were old enough to appreciate the city. It's a place of wonders."
Edippa's eyes seemed to gaze off into the distance, as if she was lost in memory or living a waking dream. Then she give her head the subtlest shake and came back to the present.
"But later, that's for later. For now, we have a barrow to explore... and I suspect, to cleanse."
I couldn't argue with that. After a moment more of gathering my wits, I checked that my bowstrings were soundly strung and readied myself for a return to the adventure. We retraced our steps from the night before and soon found ourself back in the vestibule with the claw-lock. I tested the claw against the keyhole and found that it did indeed fit perfectly. Turning the handle like a crank, the central cylinder began to rotate...
...and then I heard a rapid series of faint twangs and pain seared into my back. I tried to roll out of the way, but it was too late. Another dart struck me in the right shoulder, the force of the impact knocking me to my knees. I tried to regain my footing, but a sudden and powerful sense of dizziness started to wash over me. Looking behind me, I saw Edippa too was injured, both hands pressed tight to a wound on her side.
"Mother... help..." I whispered, before darkness closed around me and I fell flat against the cold stone floor.
As I lay senseless, horrible visions passed through my mind. The cold hands of corpses tore the clothing from my body and roughly carried me off. Without a slightest hint of foreplay or tenderness, my legs were pulled apart. I tried to resist, but my body was sluggish - though even that met with punishment, as teeth bit into my shoulder and bony fingers grabbed and twisted my hair. I tried to scream, but my voice caught in my throat.
Rough, cadaverous hands shoved at me, pressing my face into the stone and before reaching down to roughly cup my breasts. Cold corpseflesh and ragged nails scraped along my sensitive skin, making me gasp and again try in vain to scream. Then a strong hand grasped my wrist, wrenching me painfully to the side, even as a foot pressed against my left calf prevented me from turning the rest of the way. So contorted, I icy fingers run down my back, brushing against my back passage, and then begin to force their way into my inner places. This wasn't the tender, fumbling exploration I'd shared with that cute farmhand a decade ago. No, now dessicated skin and rough, swollen knuckles violently entered me. Yet again, I opened my mouth to make a silent scream.
This crude mockery of loveplay continued for what seemed like an eternity until, held between the dead, they rolled me onto my back and inserted their cold, clammy members into me. I'd have tried to scream again, but as soon as I opened my mouth a rotting tongue forced its way between my teeth in obscene mockery of a kiss. Held fast, spread open, and penetrate in all my orifices, I could only struggle impotently as the Draugr ravaged me.
As if that violation wasn't enough, a bony finger entered my mouth, probing towards the back of my throat. I choked and gagged, but strong hands held my head in place. A chipped and stinking fingernail pressed against my nose, forcing itself in my right nostril, tearing at the flesh and driving into me to its hilt. I was gasping now, rapidly breathing, trying to say something, anything, when a the rest of the hand clamped down on my face, the palm covering my right eyes and then, to my horror, the creature's ring finger coming closer and closer to my left eye, pressing against it, slowly - methodically - gouging into me. As my vision faded, I could have sworn I saw Edippa standing over me, looking down, a puzzled and frightened look on her face.
And then I was awake, the monsters gone, and - thank all the Divines - my body intact. Edippa stood over me, her hands glowing with the light of healing magic.
"Daughter, daughter," she said, "hold on. I've got you."
With each passing moment, I felt stronger; the cold chill fleeing my body and my heart returning to its normal tempo.
"Whaaaat...?" I mumbled.
"Poison darts. I'm sorry, I should have thought of this. It was too easy. But you'll be alright, I've almost purged the poison from your system."
"Thank... you..." I managed before lying back and taking long, slow breaths. The pain continued to fade until at last I thought I had the strength to stand.
"I dreamed there were Draugr," I whispered, "it was horrible."
"Aye," Edippa said, "I believe it. I had to battle terrifying visions to heal myself, as well. Something about the poison sets loose our worst fears. But you're safe now, and soon you'll be good as new. Trust me."
I was able to sit up now, and I pondered our predicament. "Do you still want to press on? If you do, we need to figure out how to disarm this trap. I doubt it's the kind to only strike once."
Edippa nodded, "I'm sure you're right about that. If we just try to open the lock again, we'll just be in for more. But look here," she pointed to the engraved discs over the lock, "these look like they can rotate. Some kind of combination lock perhaps?"
Gingerly I stood, and examined them more closely. Cautiously, I tested the top carving with the heel of my palm. With a rumble, it sunk back slightly and then rotated, revealing a different motif. Where before there had been a wolf's head, now there was a moth.
"I feel like I've seen these symbols before," I said, mostly just thinking out loud.
"You know, daughter, I think you're right. But where... wait. Let me see the claw."
I retrieved it from where it had fallen after the trap struck. Edippa turned it around, nodded definitively, and then spun it to face me.
"Look," she said, "here."
Sure enough, the three sigils on the palm of the claw matched those on the rings.
"Well," I said, "now I guess we can't call that elf a fool anymore. Just as he had the claw within his grasp the whole time, there's our answer. Hey, do you have something on your face?"
Edippa groaned, "I thought I got it all." Wiping her face on her sleeve, she cleared the mucus off her mouth and nose. "It was the poison, made me drool like newborn. And let me warn you, you aren't much better off."
I felt at my face and, indeed, long ropes of snot and drool ran down my face and chin. Arguably better than what I'd imagined in my delerium, but still disgusting. I pulled up the neck of my shirt and did my best to wipe it away.
Returning from my momentary distraction, I poked my chin towards the door. "Alright, let's line up the carvings on the door so they match the key. And then... get ready to dodge for cover. In fact, you should stand back in the antechamber so you can help me if the trap goes off again."
Edippa accepted that with a frown, "I don't like this, daughter, but I think you're right. I'll be right at the end of the hall, and I'll heal you of the trap strikes."
As Edippa retreated to the antechamber, I carefully rotated the combination lock until it matched the claw. This time, the cylinder turned all the way until I felt a shock run through the door. I think a bar hidden in the floor had withdrawn, because quickly the door started to sink into the floor. I retrieved the claw from the keyhold before it could get damaged, and then readied my bow against whatever lay beyond.
The chamber just past was mercifully empty, but Edippa and I both took care to creep carefully as we proceeded.
"Look there, daughter," Edippa said, "those carvings. They show the adoration of an ancient dragon priest. This is a place of dark magic."
I saw and understood. "Let's proceed with care, then. No unnecessary risks."
Almost immediately, the rectitude of that plan proved out. Turning a corner, I held up my hand and we both silently halted. Outlined in orange firelight, a human figure stood guard, its back to us. A human figure, perhaps, but not a human. I had shriveled limbs like a corpse mummified by mountain winds, but wore heavy steel armor.
Edippa mouthed to me Draugr and I nodded agreement. Carefully pulling back my bow, I did my best to aim for the creature's unprotected neck. My arrow struck true and the creature staggered... but didn't fall. With a guttural roar, it turned, glowing blue eyes peering towards us.
I loosed another arrow, but it deflected off the monster's breastplate. As I readied a third, how raised open palms towards me and my entire body started to chill as if I'd been plunged into cold water. Battling my suddenly shaking hands, I let fly. I almost missed, the arrow going low and sinking into the Draugr's thigh. But that stopped its magical attack, and Edippa stepped forward to strike it dead with her mace.
"We're safe," she said, "for now. But keep watch. Where there's one, there are sure to be more."
The passage took us into a large chamber, lit by candlelight. And not magical lights, but actual wax candles. I remembered how Edippa had mentioned that the Draugr maintain their lairs, but this still struck me as hard to believe.
"What... is this place?" I asked.
"If I had to guess," Edippa answered, "this is where the dragon priests preached to their followers. If we continue on from this chamber, we'll start to descend into the inner temple, and we'll face more dangerous foes the deeper we go. Be on guard."
As if to drive home the point of her words, steel portcullises slammed down around us at that very moment, as more Draugr emerged from hidden armories. I struck down one with my bow even as Edippa dispatched the other with her mace. It took some searching, but we finally located a lever that raised the gates, and we proceeded further. We snuck deeper, past an eerily glowing well, up spiral stairs, and into a gallery overlooking another large chamber. Spotting a pull-lever, I impulsively reached for it, only a moment later to roll out of the way of a blackened iron warhammer. The lever had released a coffin cover, allowing the Draugr within to spring out on the attack. I fell back, drawing my bow, and he struck at me again. I dodged most of the way, but the heavy hammer still struck against my side and sent me sprawling, rolling off the gallery and down a wooden staircase into chamber below.
I heard the Draugr roar with rage as the sizzle of Edippa's magic destroyed it, but I found myself in my own sort of peril, surrounded by... skeletons. Leveling bows at me, they did not attack. I considered trying to leap out of the way, but there were too many of them, and Edippa it seemed was still engaged in pitched battle on the gallery above. I had no choice but to raise my hands in surrender.
Silent but for the grind of bone on bone, the skeletons seemed to huddle as if discussing their next action. After a time, they turned back to me, and I braced myself for the worst. Then with a cry, one of the wooden railings on the gallery shattered and Edippa tumbled into the chamber next to me.
"Mother," I whispered, "help!"
Edippa raised her hands, glowing with magic, but a skeleton quickly sent her sprawling with a kick to her midsection.
Silently, skeletal jaws moved as if speaking. Perhaps demanding to know why we were intruding here, perhaps condemning us for violating their sacred place, I could only guess. They gestured, first languidly and then with increasing emphasis.
And then, words: "They demand you disrobe. Do it now, if you wish to live."
I turned, and saw a woman. Her eyes glowed with the same piercing blue aura of the Draugr, but he skin was flawless and beautiful. Flowing robes garbed her, revealing enough flesh to show that there was nothing desiccated about her body.
Edippa growled, "Dragon priest! Blasphemer!"
The woman only shook her head, a lilting laugh prefacing her words, "blasphemer? Me? I worship a true God of creation. Who do you worship? Those pathetic Aedra? Surely you already know your time is at an end. No worry, my children will help you." Turning to the lead skeleton she commanded, "strip her."
The skeletons made no effort to loosen Edippa's clothes or slide them from her body, they simply tore them apart, quickly leaving her clad only in patterns of tan paint that her clothes had concealed. The creatures held her fast on her knees, swirling orange liquid of some sort rising to mid-thigh.
"Now, little thief," the woman said to me, "my servants care little for the fires of the sacramental oil. If I put it alight, it's little matter to reanimate them. But your friend... well, it'll be little matter to reanimate her either, but if you don't want her to burn to death first I recommend you bare yourself before me."
Reluctantly, I pulled my tunic over my head and then shucked out of my trousers, I glared at the woman. "Fine, happy now?"
"Oh," she cooed, "insolence. Prostrate yourself on your hands and knees before the holy pool. You must make amends to the God-Kings. Pray for forgiveness, and you may yet live. Disappoint me... and witness your infidel friend's fate."
I lowered myself in supplication even as the skeletons dragged Edippa to her feet roughly, preparing her for whatever fate they had in store for her. I had little time to contemplate it, as I suddenly felt chill hands on my hips and then, a moment, later, a piercing pain as something large and blunt-ended pushed its way past my maidenhead and deep into my core. In a moment of clarity, I observed that this wasn't at all how I'd planned to lose my virginity, but the repeated pain of the woman violating my dry vagina drove such thoughts from my mind. Tears welled in my eyes as I saw now that the skeletons' hips were transforming, bending, growing segmented, pointed bones in a mockery of manhood, clearly preparing to enter her as a group.
"Please," I begged, "show mercy." Even as the words left my mouth, unbidden, I felt disgust at their pathetic sound. Was this how a brave Nord woman behaved?
Whether it was or not, the Dragon Priestess seemed to find it amusing. "Mercy? Oh, that's a refreshing request. It's been... so... long. You know, as I tore apart his mind more and more while he slept, that elf begged for mercy. None for him of course, his kind is worthless. Barely better than animals. But you? Perhaps I'll let you serve me. Of course, first you'll have to join me in eternity. I wonder how long you can last before I claim your spirit?"
I gasped, trying to break free of her grasp, but the dark priestess only pulled me closer, grabbing a handful of my hair for leverage. My scalp burned like someone had touched a poker to my head, and I screamed in agony even as she pushed her thick, unyielding... what? Had the woman belted on a godemiche, or was she one of those rare ones that Akatosh had blessed with the flesh of man? Whatever it was, it hurt even more as the glowing-eyed woman thrust it home to the hilt.
"Oh, do you like that? I'd considered slowly draining your blood at the wrist while my servants took their pleasures, claiming your soul bit by bit over hours. But if you like this, perhaps I just need to find a longer, thicker toy to push your womb free of your little pussy and then pound you myself until your belly fills with blood and you expire. Do you have a preference? Either way, we could have hours of fun before you join me... for eternity."
The woman punctuated that last part with a sharp push of her hips. I tried with all my might to break away, but her hands were like iron, pinning me in place.
Then, with a flash of light and a whoosh of wind, I was free. Edippa stood near the ruins of her clothes, the scroll of abjuration held high as pulses of intense light leapt from her hands.
"Begone, Dragon Priest. Begone, minions of darkness, Dibella commands you. Dibella commands you!"
The Dragon Priest was gone in an instant, only acrid smoke remaining on the air. At the same time, the skeletons collapsed into piles of bones. A moment later, the pool of sacramental oil burst into flames, consuming much of the skeletal remains. When the flames subsided, I crawled slowly, painfully, across the now-dry pool to where the pitiful pile of my clothes lay.
I started to dress before I turned to look at Edippa. Though clearly she had regained all her strength, the remains of her clothes had burnt to cinders in the pool of oil. She stood there, bare as the day she was born, and I lamely offered my tunic towards her.
"You... saved me again. Here, do you need something to wear?"
She shook her head, "You're welcome, but no. Not that at least. Too scratchy for my taste. That priestess left behind her robes when she died. I'll take those." Edippa was already walking towards the smoky haze where the woman had vanished. True to her word, blue robes lay crumpled beneath.
"Aren't those... cursed?"
Edippa laughed. "No, daughter, they're just silk. Just because an evil person wears something, it's not automatically evil."
I gave a bit of an awkward laugh as she pulled it over her head. Still exhausted from my order I mustered a weak smile. "It looks good on you, mother."
"Well thank you, daughter. We'll have to find you something equally pretty when we're back in civilization."
We rested for maybe half an hour to regain our strength, the process sped by Edippa's healing magic, before we pressed deeper into the tomb.
"I know it's dangerous," Edippa explained, "but now that we know there are immortal dragon cultists hiding here we can't leave this be. And I can't do it alone."
I laid a reassuring hand on Edippa's shoulder, saying, "you won't have to, mother. I'll be with you all the way to the end."
As we progressed, we saw more signs of dark deeds - and some of them surely recent. We struck down more Draugr, penetrated more catacombs, and in the process saw signs of recent human butchery. The most obvious was an altar with a human breast - seemingly freshly sliced in a single cut from a victim's chest - laid out and not yet showing the first signs of decay.
"There must be another entrance to this barrow," Edippa commented. An abduction wouldn't have gone unnoticed with the main entrance so close to the town center."
I agreed, "Another entrance, or perhaps the abductors were concealed with magic?"
"Hmm," Edippa mused, "possible. But if I had to make a bet I'd still stick with a hidden entrance. Many of these old tombs have more than way in, often concealed behind secret doors or other subtleties."
And so we continued. We battled through another long corridor - lined with tombs, as we progressed Draugr rose from their resting place and challenged us. Finally, when all the dead were destroyed, we entered into another chamber. Truly huge, a distant waterfall fed what looked like an underground river.
"Well," Edippa said, "I think we may have a clue to the secret entrance. If I had to guess, this ruin runs alongside or even beneath Lake Geir. Any of the many caves along its shore might hide a secret entrance."
"Surely we're close to the heart of this place by now," I thought out loud.
"You may well be right," Edippa confirmed. "This is by far the largest chamber we've seen so far. And with it's architecture, I wouldn't be surprised one bit if this was the central hall of the inner sanctum. Be on guard, this place is surely not undefended."
It was sage warning. After working our way through another puzzle lock, we found ourselves witness to a strange spiritual battle. More dragon priestesses, some fairly shimmering with magical power, battled other ghosts as if reliving some ancient battle. While the ghosts might have been ethereal, however, Edippa and my weapons were not, and we fell upon them with a vengeance. Even as the evil women died screaming, coffin after coffin shook and then sprung to life, as Draugr beat their way free from their resting places. I struck down two with my bow before I drew a sword I'd found in a burial nook earlier in our delve and joined Edippa in the fray.
As the fight continued, I heard the hiss of metal on metal and a sharp clang. Turning, I saw that a portcullis had fallen, separating me from Edippa. I quickly set to looking for a switch or release, but she pointed in warning.
"No, daughter, stop! Behind you!"
I spun, and saw that more Draugr were fast approaching. I'd have to overcome them on my own. Despite the fatigue pulling at my limbs, I hefted my sword again and closed. I'd taken the shield of a fallen Draugr in one hand, and with a quick adjustment I deflected the blow of a hand axe even as I ran the foul beast through. Kicking it aside, I launched myself towards another enemy - was there any end to them? Magical ice slowed me, but I pushed forward, narrowly avoiding an axe blow, and struck down that one as well.
For a moment, all seemed calm. Then I heard a final coffin lid strike the floor and looked up to the top of the hall. An armored figure stood silhouetted in the firelight, greatsword in hand. A primal fear raised the hair on my back, but I forced myself to press on.
I quickly drew my bow once more and tried to strike him down at a distance. The first arrow skittered off his armor, ineffective. The second caught him in the leg, momentarily stunning him. Crouched on one knee, he looked at me with his cold, blue eyes, and growled,
"FUS RO DA"
The words struck me like a hurricane, and I staggered backwards, fast losing my footing.
"Lady!" I shouted, half in anger and half in supplication, as I lost my grip on the bowstring and fell flat on my back. The creature was maybe six paces from me now, and I heard its roar. I tried to scramble to my feet, but struggled to rise, the wind knocked out of my lungs.
After that, I only heard silence. Catching my breath, I rose with some effort and found the armored Draugr prostrate, my final arrow protruding from its now-darkened eye socket.
The portcullis ground open, and beyond, I saw a false wall drop away to reveal a deeper passage still.
"Dibella!" I cried, "you saved me!"
Edippa was by my side then, healing magic washing over me. "I heard you call her name," she said, "and then saw you lose your grip on the bow... but your arrow flew true. Surely it's a miracle."
I prostrated myself on the ground, relief and gratitude surging through me. "Dibella!" I cried again, "I pledge myself to you!" But before I could say more, firm hands restrained me.
"Daughter, stop. Dibella will not hear your prayers. Not like this."
"What?" I hissed in some blend of shock and disbelief.
"Dibella will only accept your prayers if you come to her as you were born. She is the Goddess of beauty, and you cannot hide your beauty if you seek her favor. Undress. Wash the blood of battle from your body. Then offer your prayer."
Searching the chamber once more for threats, all indeed seemed calm. So I peeled off my soiled garments and walked down into the cerulean temple pools. As best I could with my bare hands, I washed the blood and grit of the day's battles from me, before returning to the raised walkway. I fell to my knees and called out to her.
"Dibella, accept me as your servant!"
Settling there, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. Whispers came on the guttering flames, and gurgling water.
"I accepted you long ago, Kirstia. I will always watch over you. Now, set your hand to your mission. Restore my voice on Tamriel. Restore the Sybil!"
I meditated on those words, basking in the warmth of Dibella's radiance. I knew Edippa was kneeling beside me, and I wondered if Dibella was offering her a similar command. At length, the warmth faded, and a final whisper touched my mind.
"Do not leave this place yet. A final reward awaits you, to strengthen you for the future."
I rose then, proceeding into the hidden sanctum. And I heard a sound, one I'd heard before in a dream. Soft drumbeats, chanting, and the ringing of bells, all distant as if heard through a door. And then I saw it. A looming wall, glowing with magical power. Just like my vision at the dragon burial mound. As I approached, the world spun around me, magical vapors enveloping me. I felt me bare feet on warm stone, and I looked down to see that I was now standing on the curved, engraved surface of the wall. Then with a snap, shackles closed on my legs, forcing me to squat. The wall rumbled, and a long pole of blackened iron emerged from its depths. I tried to squirm away, but it pressed on incessantly. It pushed into my flesh just above the entrance to my birth canal, driving growing dull pain into me as it pushed without relief, then suddenly it slipped within me, sliding into position as my body moistened at its touch.
As it entered me, I felt a jolt of pure magical power run up my spine, as if I'd been struck by lighting. Stars filled my eyes and I gasped, first in surprise, then in pleasure. I could feel my lower quarters fast tightening, squeezing the knobby pole as it pushed deeper within me. I could also feel another tightness, as the pearl of flesh at the top of my cleft stiffened and pushed my hood out and up from my body. It was a sensation that I'd only felt a few times before, and never with this shocking intensity. Acting without thought, I tried to reach down and rub at my fast-engorging clitoris, but I found my hands held fast, as if in the grip of invisible chains. I squatted there, suspended, unable to move, gasping as my heart beat faster and faster.
After what felt like an eternity, the pole reached the entrance of my womb. I gasped at the momentary pain of the pressure, then gasped again at another electric, magical shock, and then sighed in ecstasy as the pool withdrew, only to push back in once more. This seemed to go on again and again as I increasingly found my senses melting into a hazy blend of desire, pleasure, and power.
And then, with a final thunderbolt of energy, the world spun again and I found myself on the stone floor. My hands clasped between my legs, rubbing franticly, and my body collapsed inwards into a fetal ball as hot, sticky fluids flowed out over my hands. I felt my extremities numbing, all my sensations coming inward to the fire at the base of my belly, the fast, rythmic contractions of my lower entrances, the powerful, fast strokes of my heart.
In the midst of my passion, I heard... no, I felt a word.
And then the world fell away into darkness.
Troubleshooting and Conflict Resolution
No bugs in this session!
Edited by gregaaz