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Chapter Three Act Seven: The Last Sermon (Part 1 of 3)


Collygon

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Hey guys! Welcome to Act Seven!

So these next three parts together create the final act of Chapter Three. I do recommend catching up on previous parts before reading, as this is where the first "arc" comes to a close. Also, remember that weird issue with Gerruck's eye missing? Well I couldn't fix it. So it is still here for now. This part, and part 2, will be the last times though, I promise!

Let's begin.

 

Previously on: The Frost of Ages

Spoiler

(From: Chapter Three Act Four: The Eve of Battle)

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Arngeir: You are not to learn of his fate, Elyvaea.

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Arngeir: It is his burden to bear.

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Arngeir: This is something that he will be forced to accept. One way or another.

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Arngeir: This... training... was not to make him a fighter or a warrior.

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Arngeir: It was to cut his ties to this world, to teach him to love the divines.

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Arngeir: Because if he loves this world...

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Arngeir: ...then he cannot go through with it.

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Arngeir: In his fate, you have no role to play, Elyvaea.

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Arngeir: And neither in the final war to come.

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(From: Chapter Three Act Five: Pretenders)

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Paarthurnax: Listen close, listen well. Zu'u lost pogaas was tinvaak. Akatosh, Borhamu, sent Alduin to devour the world, as you know.

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Paarthurnax: But that was not his decree to order alone. Uth al.

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Paarthurnax: The nine were separated. Govey. Some sided with Borhamu, others with Kaan. Kynareth, in your tongue.

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Paarthurnax: Kaan would not see the world crumble. Ni nu. Thus began the dragon war. Dovah Kein.

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Paarthurnax: It was looking grim for Kaan. Aan funt. So an agreement was struck in the form of an Aedric Prophecy. Qostiid.

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Paarthurnax: The prophecy was given to man in the form of an Elder Scroll. Man was told it would vanquish Alduin, but they were deceived.

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Paarthurnax: He would be sent forward in time to devour the world when the aedra decreed. But this time, in a more controllable form. In y-

Gerruck: No. Stop. I am not going to listen to this.

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(From: Chapter Three Act Five: Pretenders)

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Castalia: Ah...

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Castalia: ...lovely.

Elyvaea: No...

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Castalia: Don't take another step, Elyvaea.

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Castalia: You're number three.

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(From: Chapter Three Act Five: Pretenders)

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Rorlund: That's... Uh, that's lovely. But hey, did you tell Freir to spread word of your sermon?

Olivia: Yes! I did! Did she do as I asked? I need everyone to come.

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Rorlund: I'm sorry, but we can't let you do your sermon.

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Rorlund: You're not in a stable enough condition.

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Rorlund: For the good of the temple, as well as the city, we'll have to lock you in the cellars, away from public eye.

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Olivia: No, you can't! She's watching us.

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Rorlund: What are you talking about?

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Rorlund: W-w-what... How did that...

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Rorlund: AAAAAGGGHHH!

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(From: Chapter Three Act Four: The Eve of Battle)

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Isran: I'll cut right to the chase. Your squad was chosen to undergo a crucial operation in the battle to come. The man beside me has all the information you need.

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Thief: My name is Brynjolf. I'm a member of the thieves guild in Riften, and I want to take my city back.

 

Spoiler

The temple courtyard is crammed with the citizens of Solitude. Every seat has been filled, forcing the majority of them to stand.

This isn't so surprising. Olivia's sermon's often summon a large portion of the city.

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There are the regular attendees. Usually common folk who hold Olivia to a high esteem. Their enamoring of Olivia is prevalent and their verbal infatuation is the best advertising the temple could ask for.

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Then there are those who scarcely attend. These are most often beggars, drunks, or nuisances. They rarely attend, which is far from disappointing, but Olivia would welcome them none-the-less.

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Finally are the upper class and royalty. They fit no consistent theme or pattern of attendance. Some never attend, some always do. Jarl Elisif is a frequent listener, often coming to seek Olivia's wisdom in time's of stress. As a result, her entourage of her steward, Falk Firebeard, and her housecarl, Bolgeir Bearclaw, often attend as well.

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Freir is displeased to see all of them.

When Olivia first ordered her to spread word of this infamous "Last Sermon", Freir was apprehensive. She remembered Rorlund's explicit orders to ignore the priestess, but she could never obey them. Priestess Olivia had always been an inspiration. Disobeying her would go against everything Freir based her servitude on.

Then she discovered Rorlund's corpse. It was discarded carelessly on the steps to Olivia's quarters. His arms were drooped on the floor beside him while his eyes hung open, staring into emptiness. Blood had pooled below him and drenched his robes. Or what was left of them. From the waist down, hardly anything remained. Scraps of flesh and bone were scattered where his legs used to be. One of his feet was still in tact, but Freir never found the other.

She burst into the Priestesses room to see her sitting on the floor, bobbing her head whimsically. Freir was too horrified to speak with her. She hastily tossed Rorlund's corpse in the temple cellar and cleaned up the residue.

Then, rushing out into the city, Freir urgently tried to dissolve any spreading word of the Sermon, but it was already too late. With the sermon only a few hours away, she couldn't possibly stop it then. And especially not now.

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Freir: This isn't good.

Freir lets out an uneasy breath. This sermon could have a million different impacts, and she can't imagine any of them positive. Even if the sermon is just lackluster, the audience will feel cheated and maybe even offended. But even that is wishful thinking. Olivia has been muttering madness the last few days, and most, if not all, of that is going to infect her words today.

Olivia: Ah! What a turn out!

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Freir whips around upon hearing the familiar voice. Olivia saunters up behind her. She dons simplistic, grey robes and no shoes, the same outfit she always wears for her sermons. In her hands, pressed firmly against her chest, is a small leather book that Freir has never seen. But that isn't the most peculiar part. Olivia looks unrecognizable- no, the opposite. She appears more herself now than she has since losing her mind. Her hair is no longer disheveled and greasy. It has been brushed elegantly over her head, dangling over one side of her face like a bountiful curtain. Her skin is radiant and clean, no longer covered in splotches of dirt, sweat, and ink.

Freir feels a tinge of hope at the sight. Maybe Priestess Olivia is back to normal.

It doesn't last long.

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Freir: Yes, it sure is. But um, Priestess, are you sure you should do this? You have not been well lately.

Olivia doesn't immediately respond. She glances skyward and rubs the leather cover of her book.

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Olivia: Yes... Yes! I most certainly will. The seamstress wills it.

Freir leans back, her sense of apprehension returning.

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Freir: The seamstress?

Olivia smiles strangely, as if the corners of her lips were being tugged by strings.

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Olivia: Correct. She has worked very to orchestrate all of this. But she can't do it alone.

Olivia reaches out and tenderly runs her hand down Freir's arm. Freir flinches and turns her head away, clenching her teeth.

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Olivia: You have played your part splendidly.

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Olivia: You will be missed.

Olivia gingerly pulls her hand away and departs. The soft steps of her bare feet fade as she exits through the door leading to the courtyard balcony. Freir doesn't open her eyes until she hears it shut.

She trudges under the archway, into the courtyard, just as the crowd erupts into applause.

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Crowd: Priestess! Yeah! You've returned! Hoorah!

Freir fidgets off to the side. Her entire body is tense and rigid and she suddenly has no idea what to do with her hands.

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She gazes up at Olivia, smiling and waving to the crowd, appearing lustrous and radiant, and a feeling of foreboding dawns on her. The name of the sermon and Olivia's last words to her conjoin and strike her like an arrow.

This isn't Olivia's last sermon. It's all of theirs.

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Olivia: Please, everyone, please. Settle down.

The applause fades to an orderly silence. The only sounds left to be heard are the chirping of birds and the occasional shuffling of feet. A smile passes Olivia's lips as she brings her hand over to the book.

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She gives three heavy taps on the leather spine and utters a single question.

Olivia: Can I begin?

 

Spoiler

Outside Riften's walls, a short ways past the Dawnguard/Vigilant encampment, just on the shore of the frozen lake, Vorn, Mike, Dennis, Davey, Isran, and Brynjolf finalize their strategy for the battle to come.

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Isran: While you all are inside, the rest of us will attack through the front gates.

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Isran: They may have the strength, but we have the numbers. We should be able to buy you plenty of time to do your part.

Isran speaks confidently, though his arms are pressed tightly to his sides with tense shoulders. As soon as he concludes, Brynjolf jumps in, sounding equally assertive but with a much calmer demeanor.

Brynjolf: Our part is difficult, but simple. We kill their leader.

Brynjolf glances at each of the men around him, expecting stunned reactions. Instead, they offer slight nods or quiet huffs. The closest reaction is a hesitant question from Mike followed by an uncertain remark from Dennis.

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Mike: Kill their leader? I mean, that'd hurt morale and all, but I doubt the daedra will just give up. Are you sure about this?

Dennis: Mike's right. These were some of the strongest daedra I've ever encountered. Killing their leader won't do much.

Brynjolf nods curtly, his confident aura unscathed by Mike and Dennis' doubts.

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Brynjolf: It'll do more than you think. The Thieve's Guild has done its research since this all started. You're going to have to trust me.

Mike and Dennis share a dubious look, both of which are wiped away as Isran speaks up profoundly.

Isran: He will explain it further once you get in. This is the best chance we have of winning this fight. If you have any other questions, now is the time to ask.

Multiple hands shoot into the air, causing Isran to sigh. He gestures to Davey with a nod. This may take a while.

As the deliberation continues, Talen and Celann have one of their own off to the side.

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Celann had pulled Talen aside before the discussion even began. He wasted no time, bluntly expressing his concern about Talen's abilities. "Too green. Too inexperienced" he said; "You aren't ready to undertake a mission of this importance." Celann had trouble looking Talen in the eye while he gave the order.

Celann: You can join us on the main force. I just can't risk you weighing the squad down.

Talen grinds his teeth. He understands Celann's concerns, but this goes beyond a desire to fight. It isn't a guttural feeling nor a prideful urge. This is something Talen needs to do.

For years Talen felt shattered. Every decision he made was supposed to lead him closer to rescuing his wife and eventually mending his broken soul. It wasn't until he actually found her that he truly realized that she was gone; and that he was alone.

But he was given a second chance. Taeyva, the strange girl in the chains, who he met at the Shrine of Boethiah and last saw in the cave, gave it to him. He never got to thank her, and he doubts he ever will. She is a witch and a daedra worshiper. Should they cross paths again surely it will be as enemies.

Either way, she risked her life going back for him. There has to be a reason for that. And it isn't for him to become a common soldier.

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Talen: I can hold my own, Celann. I won't weight them down. I know I won't.

Celann sighs a pushes himself to a stand.

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Celann: You played your role, Talen. You were right to get us to come here. You were. But I can't send you on this mission until I have seen what you are capable of.

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Talen: Let me show you on this mission then. I'm a part of this squad. Let me fight with them.

Celann sighs and casts a forlorn glance to the water below them.

Celann: I don't know what to tell you, Talen. I'm sorry.

Meanwhile, all of the questions had been answered, and Brynjolf calls for them to depart.

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Isran: So that settles it then.

Brynjolf: You three, come with me. We can sneak into the city through the rat way.

All of them nod in agreement, except for Davey who takes off in a sudden sprint.

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Vorn: Woah, Davey! What are you doing?

Davey: I just gotta do something. I'll be fast, believe me.

Vorn starts to speak up but stops himself, shaking his head with a chuckle.

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Vorn: Just don't make us wait.

He then takes his place by Mike's side, following Brynjolf's lead back toward the city. As he does, Isran steps in and stops him.

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Isran: Listen, Vorn.

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Isran: I don't want to amount more pressure, but this whole operation rides on your squad.

Vorn flashes a confident smile, undeterred by Isran's foreboding statement.

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Vorn: You play your part and we'll play ours. You have nothing to fear.

Isran nods, affirmatively. He gives Vorn three firm pats on the back before following Dennis, who is already making his way back to camp.

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Dennis: Good luck, you guys.

Dennis turns away before he can get a response. Though he still detests this plan, he is beginning to come to terms that it may be their best option. He marches back to camp, not eager to listen to Carcette berate him for not convincing the group to find a new one.

Everyone makes their way to prepare, all except for Davey. He sprints over to the bridge where Talen and Celann continue to argue, sliding to a halt and kicking snow into the air with his boots. Celann whips around as the cold, white speckles patter against his head and armor.

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Celann: Davey? What are you doing?

Davey reaffirms his footing and cocks his head. Despite him wearing a helmet, Talen can tell he is smirking.

Davey: I'm here to get Talen. Come on, we're heading out now.

Celann faces Davey with a huff.

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Celann: No, Davey. Talen isn't going to b-

Davey swiftly cuts in, as if he was waiting for Celann to speak up.

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Davey: No. Stop. He is.

Celann falters. For a moment, he looks stunned. That expression quickly warps into that of vexation as he clutches his arm tightly.

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Celann: Listen here, Davey. This is not your order to give, neither is it one to question. Understand?

Davey makes no gesture to signify his listening, instead continuing right where he left off as if nothing had happened.

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Davey: He is a part of this squad, so he gets to join us. And I know what you're thinking, that he is inexperienced or whatever, but that's fine.

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Davey: This guy tries harder than anyone. I know you remember what he went through after we rescued him.

As Davey speaks, Talen is a loss for words.

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Talen: Davey...

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Davey: I'll take a sheep with his kind of courage and determination over the best soldier any day. So let him fight with us. He needs this.

Celann groans and rubs his temple.

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Celann: Fine. Fine.

Talen guffaws, bewildered by Davey's success.

Talen: Haha! Yes!

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Davey: You won't regret this, Celann. Believe me.

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Davey: Now come on, Talen.

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Davey: We shouldn't keep them waiting.

 

Spoiler

Inside of High Hrothgar, the air is still and cold. The weathered tapestries hang above the fire, motionless. An occasional snow flurry drifts through the open ceiling, melting as soon as it passes by the stonework. 

It is a tranquil ambiance, soon interrupted by the aggressive slam of metal doors.

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Gerruck: Damn it all....

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Gerruck: How could that be right? I should kill Alduin, not help him return. Damn it!

Gerruck roars in frustration. The hike back down to High Hrothgar was exasperating, much of it by his own accord. He couldn't stop spewing vulgarities about Paarthurnax or releasing his ever growing aggression in the form of grunts and yells. The longer it went on, the more infuriated he became.

After weeks of so called "training", this is what it was for? Not to save the world, but to destroy it? Or, well that is what Gerruck got from the meeting. He stormed off before Paarthurnax even made his conclusion. But that doesn't matter! Gerruck has heard his fill; plenty enough to know he will have no part in this. Destiny or not.

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Gerruck: Whatever. Whatever! I'm done.

Gerrucks stomps down the stone steps. Each one echoes throughout the massive halls, bringing the only sound to the eerie stillness plaguing the silent interior. It really is quiet.

He slows down, taking each step with careful ease. The echoing fades away, leaving only the sound of his heavy breaths and the gusting of a light breeze outside.

He hugs the side of the stairs, keeping his shoulder pressed against the large, stone block holding the fireplace. He keeps his eyes set forward, but as he is about to round the corner they fall to the floor. A flopped boot sticks out just past the stones. A few specks of red are spattered the floor below it. Gerruck is about to lurch around the corner to see who it belongs to when another sight stops him in his tracks.

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Gerruck: What...

Castalia: Hello, Gerruck.

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Castalia: About time you show up.

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Castalia: Shall we begin?

 

To be continued in part 2...

 

 

Act Seven Index:

Spoiler

 

6 Comments


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Have no words to express my admiration. Screenshots are brilliant and the scenes + poses taking the breath. My friend, you rule in this (story telling) sphere. Too bad that my Prince can't see it. Ahhhh .... I'll bookmark this page for him to see it when he'll have a time. Thank you.

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You work miraculously quickly! :open_mouth:

Seeing as I've yet to catch up with prior chapters (so many of em'!), I'm probably less certain about the current events than I should be. Regardless, still had a joy to read this Chapter-Act-Part. Thanks for sharing. :smile:

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12 hours ago, EvalovesEP said:

Have no words to express my admiration. Screenshots are brilliant and the scenes + poses taking the breath. My friend, you rule in this (story telling) sphere. Too bad that my Prince can't see it. Ahhhh .... I'll bookmark this page for him to see it when he'll have a time. Thank you.

Thank you, Eva! :smile: Your words are always very appreciated!

12 hours ago, Rattlesnark said:

You work miraculously quickly! :open_mouth:

Seeing as I've yet to catch up with prior chapters (so many of em'!), I'm probably less certain about the current events than I should be. Regardless, still had a joy to read this Chapter-Act-Part. Thanks for sharing. :smile:

Thanks! Usually I am not this fast, but I had all the screenshots taken for Act Six and Seven by the end of November, so I only have to write. Once chapter three is done, there will be a long break before chapter 4 so you'll have plenty of time to catch up! :smile:

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So many lines of action to recollect, your previously section really helped a lot. Made me remember how much I liked the Olivia storyline and the Talen/Riften story. I can't imagine the deadra are blind to the attack. 

Btw. I'm looking forward on how you entwine the different lines.

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Malicia : « This chapter was very good, yes. But, I have one veryyy important thing to say that you should really know, and it's NOT because I'm an expert :

 

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Guess I'll tell you in the next chapter, yes. :tounge_xd: »

 

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