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Trace: Chapter Fifteen: Rueful



Chapter Fifteen: Rueful

Previous Chapter: http://www.loverslab.com/blog/521/entry-3453-trace-chapter-fourteen-resolution/
Next Chapter: http://www.loverslab.com/blog/521/entry-3473-trace-chapter-sixteen-heartache/




Part One


Trace let out what must have been her seventeenth sigh in the last hour as she stared at the ceiling of the Cistern.


Trace: Haaaa… There’s literally nothing to do…


It had been five days since Vex had initially said she’d give Trace the poisons she asked for. However, instead of giving Trace both vials like she originally said she would, she only gave her the one made specifically for Astrid.


Trace: …Guess she figured that I would have already gone to settle things with the Brotherhood if I had both of them… And to be honest, I probably would have.
Trace: But seriously Vex, I can’t even leave the Cistern? And then she forbade Brynjolf to talk to me, or anyone else from delivering messages for me to the outside…
The Imperial sat up and looked around. There were multiple people giving her sideways looks for her current choice of attire, however it was only to get her into the mindset of what she was going to have to do soon…


Trace: Like I get it okay! You don’t want me talking to Mjoll while you’re gone… But at least be here dammit! You know there’s not many here that actually accept my presence anymore… They only tolerate it because I’m with you…
Trace sighed once again. She stood up and took her weapon in hand.


Trace: I’m sorry Vex, but I can’t be your sparrow, your little canary trapped in the cage you call the Cistern.
Trace: Maybe this is what you wanted from me… To test my love for you… But, but this isn’t even about love. Why should me loving you mean me losing my freedom? If this… If that’s what you’re trying to convey to me…
Trace: Then I’m sorry Vex… I… I just can’t stay here anymore…
Trace made her way to the Cistern’s exit all the while trying to understand whether her conclusion about what Vex was putting her through was correct or not.


Trace: No… Well… I don’t know… She really seemed against me talking to either of them, and I mean that’s understandable to a point, but I can’t even talk to Bryn—


???: Hey, Trace! Hold on a second!Trace15_007.png

Part Two


Trace sighed and stopped in her tracks. She didn’t turn around, but knew exactly who it was; Sapphire, the woman who in the past had on more than one occasion expressed her disagreements with Vex and Trace’s relationship.


Sapphire: Not going to look at me? Seriously? Are you that mad at what I’ve said in the past?


Trace: So, what do you want Sapphire? You’ve typically only chatted me up if you needed a favor or—
Just then Trace realized what this was probably about and took out a sack of septims and began juggling it in her hand.


Trace: This is about Shady Shad’s debt isn’t it? Haaa… You could have asked me for this ages ago. If that’s all you want—
Sapphire: Wait what? What are you talking about?


Trace rolled her eyes.


Trace: Are you kidding me? Shadr’s debt. The one you were gonna make him pay double since you and your boys ransacked his shipment of cargo? Sloppy job too, if I could say so myself.


Sapphire: What? No. I… Shadr told me that you were gonna handle it and I told him that I’d drop it. I mean, I don’t think Vex would like me getting money from you and all…


Trace: …Then… What do you want? If you don’t have anything else—
Sapphire: Wait, WAIT! Listen...


The Nord was having a rough time coming up with a way to formulate how exactly she was going to say what she needed to say to Trace, and Trace couldn’t stand it.


Trace: Look, come back to me when you actually have something to say, or rather, when you know how you’re going to say it.


Sapphire: F-fine! *sigh* Your… You need to mind how your actions will and have been affecting the Guild.
Trace raised an eyebrow at this.


Trace: My what now?


Sapphire: Stop playing games with Vex’s heart. Can’t you tell that except for the mess with Mercer, every time things were good between you two there was prosperity in the Guild and vice versa. I… I know you’re a bit infatuated with her, but please, if you truly don’t think that Vex is the one who your heart belongs to… end this relationship!
Trace: Ha! You seriously don’t think that I know that? That I have to make a decision regarding this, and soon? *sigh* And I thought this was going to be important…


Sapphire: It IS important!! The state of the Guild shouldn’t depend on whether or not you can make one person happy! Stop playing around and decide already!!!


Trace glared at the Nord making her momentarily draw back.


Trace: Play around? There’s been way too much on my plate to even consider that… I haven’t had the time—


Sapphire: You’ve been sitting around here doing little to nothing for eight days. EIGHT DAYS! Don’t tell me that you didn’t have enough—
Trace had had enough of Sapphire and angrily pushed the thief to the ground.
Trace: Whether people live or die… That’s what I’ve been struggling with. If people’s lives are worth less than whether the Guild is prospering or not, then I’m glad that I left with Astrid…
Trace began to walk away, frustrating the Nord.


Sapphire: Hey! Where do you think you’re going! A certain SOMEONE came to the Flagon looking for you!


Trace: Whoever it is can go to Oblivion for all I care.


Sapphire: Then I guess I’ll just have to go tell Riften’s ‘Protector’ that you’d rather leave here than see her. I wonder how she’d react to that? Hmmm…
Trace stopped dead in her tracks.


Sapphire: Yeah, I thought that would get your attention which is why I didn’t lead with—


Trace: Is she really down here?


Sapphire: I’ve no reason to give you false hope, even as a joke. But before you go, let me get your word that—
Trace ignored Sapphire’s words and ran off towards the Ragged Flagon at top speed, startling Sapphire as she passed her.
Sapphire: Whoa… So she is a different person in front of those three… Terrifying…Trace15_019.png

Part Three


As soon as she arrived in the Flagon, Trace looked around for her guest, but she was nowhere to be seen…
Trace: Crap… Did she get fed up with me and leave? Or… Maybe she wasn’t here in the first place… No way… Did Sapphire really trick me?


???: Heh, it’s always nice to see the anxiousness in the faces of people in love.
Trace looked over and saw Vekel the Man smiling right at her.


Vekel: Don’t worry Trace. She still here, she’s just over by the Flagon’s entrance. Said she didn’t feel comfortable around us and all. *shrugs* Guess it’s understandable—
Trace leapt at him and hugged him tightly.


Trace: Vekel, you ARE the man! You know that?


Vekel: Well I try. But don’t worry yourself with me. Go to her already.
Trace nodded, and set off running once again…
Trace: (Heh, to think that I’d get a visitor… and it would be her! What are the chances?)
Trace slowed to a walk when she got close to her visitor.


Trace: (Yeah… Keep it easy Trace. Keep your cool, don’t wanna seem like you’d been missing her THAT much… Even if you have…)
Mjoll and Trace’s eyes met and they were both all smiles.


Mjoll: Been some time, hasn’t it Jalena?


Trace: Tell me about it. At least you were able to go out and do things.


Mjoll: Vex grounded you?


Trace: *sigh* Let’s… just not bring it up.
They both laughed, but it wasn’t long before the laughs seemed a bit uneasy.


Trace: (I can’t help but feel like there’s something coming between us…) Is… Is something wrong?


Mjoll: I just… I heard from Aerin what happened, and I gave him a slap on the head for it, but still… Even after all of that, why didn’t you come see me? At least to let me know that you were back… That you were safe…
Trace: I’m sorry Mjoll… Truth is… Aerin said something that kinda… It shook me up a bit. I should have come, I wanted to come… But…


Mjoll: What did he say?


Trace: He… he called me, ‘Human waste who shouldn’t try to soil Mjoll with your filth!’
Mjoll: That… that spineless coward!! I know he doesn’t want us together, but to slander you in such a way…


Trace: Wait… Mjoll—


Mjoll: Did he really think I wouldn’t find out? I let him off way too lightly! Perhaps I should give him a few more lumps and tell him not to get involved in matters unrelated to him—
Trace: Mjoll! Stop it!! Don’t… *averts her eyes* Don’t do anything more to him…


Mjoll blinked twice and stared at Trace.


Mjoll: Are you alright Jalena? You DO know that you’re defending Aerin, the man you’ve been bad mouthing since before we were ever in a relationship?
Trace: Yeah…


Trace went over and sat at the edge of the pool of water.


Trace: But… He isn’t completely wrong.


Mjoll: Then please, tell me in what way have you ‘soiled me with your filth’?


Trace: Just look at us… Me, a thief, an assassin, a liar, an indecisive... (…Asshole…) And then there’s you… Look at you. The old you would have only come here to slaughter everyone here, not to talk with one of its tenants.
Trace: Aerin’s words… I’d be lying if I said they didn’t get to me, but when he said them I simply shook them off and immediately went looking for you. But when I saw you, those words echoed in my head… Taunting me… And I really felt like I didn’t have the right to face you...


Mjoll: Jalena…
Trace got up and put on her best smile.


Trace: But I’m over that now see? *throws up the peace sign* So yeah, you don’t have to worry about me! I’m fine! I’m completely—Trace15_034.png

Part Four


Mjoll wrapped Trace up in her arms and pressed the Imperial close to her.
Mjoll: If you’re going to tell that lie, at least put on a convincing face… And don’t have tears in your eyes you silly woman…
Mjoll: See? I’m fine! And even if you were rubbing off on me, it won’t change who I fundamentally am or how I feel about you. Stop tremb—d-don’t worry about any of that nonsense… okay?
After embracing Trace for a while, Mjoll pulled away and was surprised when the Imperial simply dropped to her knees and started bawling her eyes out.
Mjoll looked down at Trace and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.


Mjoll: (Is this… Is this really all due to those words? Aerin… What have you done…)
Mjoll could feel her anger toward her current living companion boil over, and she shocked herself at how much aggression she had towards him.


Mjoll: I take back what I said earlier. A few lumps? No… I’m going to do something that’ll make him never want to get involved in my personal relationships EVER again!
Turned to storm off, when Trace suddenly gripped her in a way that further surprised the Nord…
Trace: *sniff* L-look… It’s not only that… Just… I’ll tell you everything. So calm down Mjoll… please.


Mjoll: *awkwardly* O-okay…
Trace rose to her feet and sighed deeply.


Trace: (It’s all good Trace, you’ve got this…)


Mjoll: Whenever you’re ready Jalena… I won’t rush you.


Trace: *smiles* Thanks Mjoll…
Trace: So… *sigh* I’ve just had a lot on my mind. Aerin’s words, and how you might react to me not telling you I was okay was just the beginning of my worries… I… My situation with the Brotherhood’s become worse. If they found out that I spared Cicero… And now I might have to kill Astrid and the Listener…


Mjoll: Wait, calm down. And explain everything from the beginning.
And so Trace did. She told Mjoll about everything that was bothering her. From her insecurities that were only furthered due to Aerin’s words, to her being unable to choose between Vex, Astrid, and Mjoll herself. She told Mjoll about the impact her and Vex’s relationship was having on the Guild. Trace also informed Mjoll of what happened at the Dawnstar Sanctuary and how she spared Cicero’s life; of how the Night Mother’s words echoed throughout her head… and the revelation that she may have to kill both Astrid and the Listener…


All the while Mjoll listened, and digested everything that her love was telling her as she tried to think of a way to respond… and then she found it.Trace15_045.png

Part Five


Just as Trace was about to carry on some more, Mjoll put a finger to the Imperial’s lips and stroked her cheek.


Mjoll: I… I think I understand now. You’ve had a lot on you mind, and trying to appease everyone Vex and I with all of that… I apologize for the three of us for backing you into this type of corner…


Trace couldn’t believe what she hearing.


Trace: W-what!? What do you all have to be sorry about? I-I’m the one that’s in love with three women. If anything, I’M the one who should be apologizing, not—


Mjoll stroked Trace’s face again and gave her a look that silenced her.


Mjoll: I just… I want to let you know that I’m fine with whatever you decided, and that until this Dark Brotherhood stuff is behind you, I won’t get in your way at all. Sure it’d be nice if you let me know that you’re alright from time to time, but unlike before you don’t have to go out of your way to do so. Just…
Mjoll: …Just let me know before you go off again. I’d like very much to give something to you when you do.


Trace: Heh… Well about that… *diverts eyes* Before I knew you were here, I was actually about get going… I-I hope that doesn’t bother—
Mjoll grabbed Trace by the head and pulled her into an impassioned kiss that echoed all around them.
Trace: M-Mjoll… MMmmm… W-we… we can’t—


Mjoll pulled her closer to silence her disagreements and simply showed her but a taste of the love and passion that had built up within the Nord throughout their relationship that she was never able to express until now…
When Mjoll finally released Trace from their kiss, Trace had to gasp for air which was weirdly hilarious to the Nord…


Mjoll: Ha! You really are something else, you know that. No wonder you were able to make three women with such strong personalities fall for you…
Mjoll: You’re strong, smart, kind, and you have the biggest heart I’ve ever seen.


Trace: Mjoll…


Mjoll kissed Trace on her cheek, and then cupped her face.


Mjoll: No matter what anyone says, you’ll always have my love. Even when we fight, even when we don’t talk or see each other, my heart is yours. You hear me?


Trace: *nods*Yeah… Jol…
Trace turned to head off when she felt something grip her backside…
Trace: Mjoll!! W-what’s come over you? You’re so… *grins* hands-on today.


Mjoll: Heh, I don’t know what to say. But with this… It’s how the guys say, ‘I hate to see you go but i love to watch you leave.’ Just make sure to get your cute little back to Riften as soon as possible!
Mjoll: But seriously Trace, try to be done with all of this… All of this Dark Brotherhood business as soon as possible. For our sake, and yours…
Trace hesitated. She hadn’t told Mjoll everything about Astrid and the Listener, such as the fact that she didn’t know if she was able to or would be able to kill either of them if it came down to it…


Trace: …Yeah… I’ll try…
Trace took a deep breath and with a final hug Trace rushed off once again, and for the first time since she heard the Night Mother’s voice, she felt really and truly happy.
Trace: (Now I have to get out of here, or else I’ll just explode!! Thank you Mjoll, you lovable bear you!!)
After exiting the Cistern, Trace felt immensely better just by inhaling air that wasn’t the recycled pungent air of the Cistern.


Trace: Aaaah… Finally! Eheehehee… Maybe I’ll run around the city for a bit. Just to stretch my legs a bit. It’s not like I want to hurt Vex…
Trace: But I am NOT her pet, nor am I her underling—


???: Lost in your own head again I see, Jalena. When I was told you were still lurking about the Guild I couldn’t believe it. But here you are.
Trace stopped in her tracks and couldn’t believe whose voice she as hearing.


Trace: There’s no way… I mean, is it really you…Trace15_060.png

Part Six


Duraza: *smiles* Hmph, why are you looking like you’ve seen a ghost? There’s only one Orc that I know that would associate themselves with your kind sneak thief, and you’re looking at her.
Trace couldn’t contain herself as she sprang on Duraza and gave her a hug. It had been years since they’d seen each other, and there wasn’t a say that went by that Trace didn’t miss her former Master…
Trace: OhmygawdohmygawdOH! MY! GOD!!! It’s really you! When you left the Guild and I didn’t hear anything about you—


Duraza: Alright girl, get offa’ me already. What did I tell you about all this sappy touchy-feely business? I’ve got a reputation to upkeep after all!
Trace obliged with her request, but she couldn’t stop herself from grinning.


Trace: (First Mjoll comes to visit and cheers me up, then Master Duraza OF ALL PEOPLE comes and visits me!!! By the Divines… If this is a dream, please oh please don’t wake me up!!!)


Duraza: Stop fidgeting around already! I want to get a good look at my cute little protégé.
Duraza: Hmmm… Not bad, not bad. Seems like you had an injury on the right side of your face but that seemed to heal up nicely. And I’ll admit, the blind eye and your tanned skin is a good choice. Gives you a little… OOMPH!!


Trace: Ehehehehee… Master called me cute! I’m not going to forget this!!!


Duraza: Ugh… I’d sooner rather that you did…
Although Trace was still rather elated, the high of her Master’s sudden appearance suddenly came to pass…


Trace: Wait a second Master, what on Nirn are you doing here? I thought you were excommunicated from the Guild…
Duraza: That was due to your previous Guild Master, the slime ball. I always said that he was taking coin from the Guild, but I never knew he was LITERALLY doing so. Anyway, me and Vexy have entered into a little arrangement so I was just coming to go over some things and catch up. So what have you been up to short stuff?
Trace: *blushes* Oh well… Y-you know… I’ve been doing a bunch of stuff, changed my profession a few times, been in a couple of relationships, and am in a complicated situation right now… Y-you know, nothing interesting.
Trace: B-but enough about me, what have you been up to Master?


Duraza: *shrugs* What’s to say? I was doing contract work for high paying clients, and recently I’ve back on my grind as the best thief in all of Skyrim. Oh yeah, and I guess I was on both sides of a near world ending crisis that almost no one even knows happened.
Trace: *laughs* Heh, when did you get a sense of humor Master? That was pretty good!
The older thief raised an eyebrow at Trace’s statement.


Duraza: I don’t see what’s funny. It was annoying having to swap sides, but I got paid either way so… It wasn’t a big deal. I’m just glad that I ended up realizing what was going on before it was too late. Although it DID cost me a couple thousand septims… DEFINITELY not a laughing matter.
Trace: I-I-I see…


She awkwardly tried to laugh it off again, but when Duraza’s expression didn’t change to one of laughter Trace had to turn around to hide her shock and embarrassment.


Trace: (By the Divines… could I… Could we all have really died!?)
???: Useless, pointless, nonsensical to worry about such trivial matters when there are indeed much much MUCH more pressing ones at hand.Trace15_073.png

Part Seven


Trace: Show yourself!!


???: My my my, no need to shout. This poor loyal soul wouldn’t dream of slaying his savior! At least, not while they were awake…
Trace: No… Nonononono!!! What in the world are you doing here? Wait a second… YOU TOLD!! And to think that I spared your life… Looks like I’m the fool…
Cicero: Hohoho! The Deserter is no fool! In saving Cicero you’ve done the brightest thing anyone could EVER do! You’ve gained a friend, an ally, a best buddy for life and the nicest lass you could ever dream of! Oh yes Deserter, we’re going to have so much fuuuuunnnn!!!
Duraza: *glances at Trace* So… You’re hanging out with fools now? I can see why you’d want to omit that little tidbit in your little recap.
Trace: (I have never been so humiliated in my entire life…) *sigh* Alright Cicero, tell me what it is that you want or I’ll make you wish that I had killed you back then.
Cicero looked over her shoulder and smirked.


Cicero: Oh me, oh my! Help guard, I dare say I am in need of assistance! This vile, grim, one eyed harlot is about to assault poor, innocent, little Cicero. Oh whatever shall I do—
Trace had had enough of the jester’s games and swiftly slammed Cicero into the wall of the cemetery, pinning her to it.


Trace: Now then I’ll ask you again, what is it that you want?


Cicero: Cicero will admit that he likes it quite rough, especially when dealing with his… delicate places…
Trace gripped Cicero’s wrists tighter and glared at the fool.


Trace: This is your last chance fool. What. Are. You. Doing. Here.


However, even after all of that Cicero’s little way of messing with Trace never changed.


Cicero: Oh Deserter, poor Deserter. Cicero knows that his new form is… quite desirable, but Cicero thinks it unwise to mess around here. Especially with what is to be happening at that Sanctuary.
Trace: That’s it! I’m sick of your shit Cicero! I’m gonna—


Cicero: Stop! Please!! C-Cicero was just joking, just testing the Deserter. Get of me and Cicero shall reveal all to the Deserter. Cicero swears on the Night Mother!
Knowing that the fool would never swear on the Night Mother frivolously, Trace let her go and the red-head smiled at her.


Cicero: Cicero received a tip, from who I’ll never tell, that Penitus Oculatus agents have received a tip from a certain… ‘High Ranking’ Dark Sister.
Trace: You… You lie…


Cicero: You’re calling me, sweet Cicero, a liar!? Preposterous! And to think I was prepare to tell you that if you hurried she might be able to intercept them. Hmph! But now Cicero never will, not even if the Deserter beats, hits, and whiiiips~ poor Cicero.
Without saying another word to either of them, Trace ran out of the cemetery and started off towards Falkreath as fast as her legs would take her.
Cicero: So long, farewell! Let’s kill someone next time!~


Duraza: Yeah… Vex told me that Jalena had joined the Brotherhood, but I thought she’d have more common sense than to mingle with people like… this
After hearing Cicero’s words, the Night Mother’s own ones continued to repeat over and over in Trace’s head…


Night Mother: …You may have to kill both the ‘Listener,’ who Cicero did indeed have a just reason for wanting to kill…
Trace: (Damn, damn, DAMN!!! Neither Nazir or Babette would never betray us… Neither would the others… So that could only mean… Did… Did you really turn on us Astrid!?)Trace15_088.png




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