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Sloan's Story part 33 - Plan for the Future You Need, Not the Future You Want


jfraser

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Sloan clutched her small sack, filled with all her worldly possessions, and took deep breaths as the room came into clear focus. Then she froze in place.

 

The Bee and Barb hummed with the normal activity of the day as locals, taking a break from their daily routine, came in for a pint and the latest news from the rest of Tamriel via the merchants and other visitors fresh through the Cyrodiil gate.

 

“What the…”

 

Mirren had continued walking a few steps, but now turned, frowned, and gestured sharply. “Come child, you are blocking people’s way.”

 

Nothing made sense, but Sloan had been trained to play whatever part was needed at only an instant’s notice. She nodded and said, “Yes, ma’am!” then hurried to join the elderly woman.

 

“You must be aware of your surroundings, girl. You can’t just stop and start daydreaming in the middle of a room.”

 

Sloan dropped her head in subservience as she muttered, "I'm sorry, ma'am. I shall be more careful."

 

A long pause, then, before Mirren sighed. "I worry for you, child. As I do for all our charges once they are gone."

 

“Gone, ma’am?”

 

"Yes, child. Have you not yet realized our purpose? You are of age - it is time for you to go your own way." Mirren pressed a small purse of coins into Sloan’s hand. "Do have a good life."

 

Sloan clutched the purse reflexively as her mind wheeled. It was all playing out exactly as it had before. Was this some sort of dream? It didn’t seem so.

 

Mirren paused, watching Sloan as if expecting a response, but finally shook her head and walked away.

 

Sloan let her go – there was no information she needed from the woman. She spotted an open table in the corner of the room and made for it, then slipped into a chair with her back to the wall. Then she studied the room as she tried to get her thoughts in order.

 

It all seemed impossible. She was in Riften, which was sixty miles, give or take, from Parman’s cave. Also, there was the small issue of how the city had just been razed by a horde of dragons. This inn should not exist, say nothing of carrying on with the hubbub of a normal day.

 

Talen-Jai, the proprietor of the inn and one of the Vixen’s top information brokers, approached her table and spoke before Sloan could say anything. “Tables are for paying guests only, little missy. You will need to purchase something or leave.”

 

Sloan checked her tongue. She had been about to greet the Argonian in the casual way she had grown accustomed to, but, of course, if she somehow really was back at the beginning of her story, Jai would have no idea who she was. And probably would be offended if a stranger called him by such a familiar diminutive of his name. She shifted to a more subtle tactic.

 

Sloan lifted the purse Mirren had given her and responded in a timid voice, “I have money. Do you have honeyed absinthe?”

 

Talen-Jai shook his head. “No, I’ve never heard of such a thing. It sounds too strong for a girl your age, anyway. How about a nice mead?”

 

Sloan nodded, but it took every ounce of her trained self-control not to let the deep shock that ran through her show on her face as he turned and walked away.

 

He had not responded to the code words. He should have been able to recognize from her order that she was not who she seemed, should even now be giving her precious information. She tried to quell the feelings of panic that welled up. If the code words didn’t work, that meant…

 

The obvious answer slapped her across the face and she paused, then laughed as her tension drained. Of course the code words hadn’t worked – they were from six years in the future. This timeline, if it was real, was back to being well before she had become an assassin. She had worked as a whore for several months and then in the kitchen for a year and several months more. Her first kill was still two years off, in this timeline, if it wasn’t a dream.

 

As Jai returned with her mead and she fished out the coins to pay for it (noting with annoyance that the orphanage had given her a sum total of ten septims, enough for maybe a week’s worth of meals if stretched and maybe one set of fourth-hand clothes. It was as if they wanted their charges to become whores or beggars!), her already-shaky dream theory faded further. Everything was far too detailed and coherent for this to be a dream.

 

So either Parman had drugged her or cast some sort of strange spell on her that was making her hallucinate, or this was real.

 

She rejected the drug hypothesis out of hand – she would have noticed if her food or drink had been tainted, and she was a light enough sleeper that he would not have been able to creep up on her while she slept.

 

The spell seemed possible – who knew what wonders magic could create? – but this all seemed too real to be a hallucination from any cause.

 

No, the most likely scenario, impossible as it seemed, was that she was somehow back at the beginning of her story. Except this time, she knew what was going on. This time, she would be able to guide the story along tracks of her choosing.

 

Her thoughts turned to her pseudo-sister, Aithne the student from the College of Winterhold; surely she would know if magic could do something like this. Had she jumped back through time as well? Would she recognize Sloan if she saw her? What about Trendil the Stormcloak? These were paths worth pursuing – either one would make for a powerful ally. And she knew how to find them.

 

And then there was their mysterious fourth sister, the elusive Dragonborn. Sloan wished she had pressed Delphine a little harder on Sian’s story because she had no idea where to begin looking. And that was a concern because, if this really was the same thing all over again, the dragons would be returning soon, if they hadn’t already.

 

Sloan’s mental list of tasks resorted themselves. Much as she longed to get back to the path of her even more elusive mother, it was clear her top priority was to find this long-lost Dragonborn sister and make sure she did not get kidnapped and sent to a mine to slave away her life again while the world burned down. Although a stop at the hidden cache near Helgen to retrieve her mother’s armor would not be a bad idea – it had certainly proven useful!

 

She finished her drink, stood, and headed for the door. She needed money, information, and, above all, some clothes – she had nearly forgotten that Mirren had dumped her in the Bee and Barb wearing what amounted to little more than a flimsy nightgown, the only outfit the children wore in the orphanage. It was a wonder they didn’t try to save money by stripping their charges before kicking them out so they could recycle the nightgowns.

 

Sloan added “kill Grelod again” to her mental list as she stepped out of the inn and into the wide world.

 

 

Next chapter

 

Previous chapter

 

Start from the beginning

Edited by jfraser

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Good start!👍 If Sloan now only would go back to Parman's cave, she might still be able to find Sian nearby. But... that would be too easy, wouldn't it? And one more question: Do the sisters retain both their memories AND their fighting-abilities after the rewind? Because if only the memories remain, then I hope they realize that before they try to fight anything. Except Trendil, I suppose. She was able to kick ass right from the start.🤔

 

p.s. And yes, I would find it hilarious if Aithne ran into good old Borkul with her magical skills intact. Since I can only imagine how many thunderbolts she would be shooting up his backside. Likely enough to make his eyes sparkle and glow like a thousand distant stars. Zappy-zappy!

 

Edited by HM1919
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11 minutes ago, HM1919 said:

Good start!👍 If Sloan now only would go back to Parman's cave, she might still be able to find Sian nearby. But... that would be too easy, wouldn't it? And one more question: Do the sisters retain both their memories AND their fighting-abilities after the rewind? Because if only the memories remain, then I hope they realize that before they try to fight anything. Except Trendil, I suppose. She was able to kick ass right from the start.🤔

 

p.s. And yes, I would find it hilarious if Aithne ran into good old Borkul with her magical skills intact. Since I can only imagine how many thunderbolts she would be shooting up his backside. Likely enough to make his eyes sparkle and glow like a thousand distant stars. Zappy-zappy!

 


i saved Aithne’s for last because i am a sadist who knows hers is the one most people will be anticipating ;)

Edited by jfraser
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1 hour ago, jfraser said:


i saved Aithne’s for last because i am a sadist who knows hers is the one most people will be anticipating ;)

You do sadist well...

And you know us.

 

I was not sure I would recover after the Burn it! Burn it all to the ground! episodes, but here I am, sucked in again.

My mental image of Aithne is still with a silver collar, being led by Merks.

Looking forward to seeing where it goes this round.

This is a really good start.

Edited by fred200
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1 hour ago, fred200 said:

You do sadist well...

And you know us.

 

I was not sure I would recover after the Burn it! Burn it all to the ground! episodes, but here I am, sucked in again.

My mental image of Aithne is still with a silver collar, being led by Merks.

Looking forward to seeing where it goes this round.

This is a really good start.

Spoiler alert: i just copied and pasted Aithne’s previous story into this universal reboot. ;)

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1 hour ago, jfraser said:

Spoiler alert: i just copied and pasted Aithne’s previous story into this universal reboot. ;)

Yeah, I don't believe you.🤔 Because isn't it a universal rule of storytelling that you can't let your audience know what the plan is? As in: If the heroes discuss their plans in front of the audience then they will inevitably fail. Because it would be boring to watch/read about the same thing twice. I'm assuming the same principle applies here. Consequently now, after you've told us what your intentions are, you will be unable to go through with them. Because the gods of writing entertaining stories have decreed it to be so! 😁

Edited by HM1919
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JB says those things just to torment us.

He is also very good at that.

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2 hours ago, HM1919 said:

Yeah, I don't believe you.🤔 Because isn't it a universal rule of storytelling that you can't let your audience know what the plan is? As in: If the heroes discuss their plans in front of the audience then they will inevitably fail. Because it would be boring to watch/read about the same thing twice. I'm assuming the same principle applies here. Consequently now, after you've told us what your intentions are, you will be unable to go through with them. Because the gods of writing entertaining stories have decreed it to be so! 😁

This is not always the case. You can create tension from a story where the characters discuss what they are going to do and then go and do it. The key is to make the task they set for themselves seems impossible. this still has the tension of the Unknown, it is just that the Unknown factor is what clever things they will do along the way to accomplish the impossible task

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In that case I will keep all available fingers crossed, that the 'clever things Aithne will have to do along the way' will ultimately lead to less misery for her and more of a well deserved butt-kicking for Borkul. Preferably express-delivered by Aithne herself.
🙂

Edited by HM1919
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15 minutes ago, HM1919 said:

In that case I will keep all available fingers crossed, that the 'clever things Aithne will have to do along the way' will ultimately lead to less misery for her and more of a well deserved butt-kicking for Borkul. Preferably express-delivered by Aithne herself.
🙂

Well, in this case, there is nothing clever - i was just lazy and copied and pasted the exact previous chapters   ;)

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2 hours ago, jfraser said:

(I assume you know that was a lie, @HM1919 and @fred200 )

Ah, dang it! And here I was, thinking I had finally figured out, how you where able to write a 300000 word-story: "Just" write maybe half of that and then copy-paste the whole thing. 🤔😉 Oh well, there goes my neat little theory. On the bright side that means there's still more story incoming... sooo...Yay!😁

Edited by HM1919
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15 minutes ago, HM1919 said:

Ah, dang it! And here I was, thinking I had finally figured out, how you where able to write a 300000 word-story: "Just" write maybe half of that and then copy-paste the whole thing. 🤔😉 Oh well, there goes my neat little theory. On the bright side that means there's still more story incoming... sooo...Yay!😁

Technically I have already written 300,000 words. Duplicating it would have brought me to 600,000. ;)

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