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Chapter Three Act Seven: The Last Sermon (Part 2 of 3)


Collygon

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Hey guys! Welcome to part 2!

 

Make sure you have read the previous part! You can find the link to it in the act seven index spoiler at the bottom of the page.

Let’s begin.

Previously on: The Frost of Ages:

Spoiler

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Celann: Fine. Fine.

Talen: Haha! Yes!

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Davey: You won't regret this, Celann. Believe me. Now come on, Talen.

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Davey: We shouldn't keep them waiting.

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

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Gerruck: What...

Castalia: Hello, Gerruck.

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Castalia: Shall we begin?

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

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Olivia: Please, everyone, please. Settle down.

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Olivia: Can I begin?

 

Spoiler

The Ratway beneath Riften is somehow even less glamorous than Talen expected. Everyone has heard of the sewer network beneath the city. With it’s winding corridors and labyrinth-like design, it can boast an intimidating and sinister reputation.

As it turns out, that reputation is only passed between those who have not actually witnessed it. The Ratway is quite disappointing. It’s “winding corridors” are just short connecting tunnels and it doesn’t even come close to a maze, much less a labyrinth. Only the profuse stench wafting through the murky air is a characteristic worth taking note of.

But Talen hardly notices it.

The five of them have been trudging through the tunnels for a while now. Brynjolf holds the lead, followed shortly behind by Mike and Vorn.

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Mike: Ugh. I don’t know how you live down here.

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Mike: This place is rank.

Mike has not stopped expressing his unsought opinions on the sewers since they first stepped foot in them. From the sprouting fungus and algae to the cracks along the stones, he has been able to find distaste in every minuscule detail. It seems he is starting to run out of options, now coming full circle back to the smell, which was the first complaint that slipped out.

Brynjolf: It’s not a glamorous life, but it’s what we have… or had…

Brynjolf trails off. He shakes his head and is about to turn away when Vorn speaks up reassuringly.

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Vorn: It’s the life you’re fighting for. You’ve got us to help now too.

Brynjolf flashes Vorn a smile.

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Brynjolf: Aye.

Matching the pace a few feet behind, Davey and Talen have their own conversation.

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Talen: Seriously, thank you for standing up for me back there.

A hearty chuckle echoes behind Davey’s helmet.

Davey: I’ll never leave a partner behind.

Talen tilts his head, goading for Davey to continue. He takes the bait, nodding his head merrily.

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Davey: I grew up in the wilderness with my father and three brothers. In the Reach, survival isn’t easy, believe me.

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Davey: Out there, you learn quickly that the people around you are the best way of doing it. What matters isn’t skill or ability, it’s determination and the will to try.

Talen is taken aback by Davey’s words. He was not expecting such a heartfelt response.

Talen: Wow. That means a lot. But you’re more than an adept fighter and medic, so it’s probably easier for you to say that.

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Davey shrugs.

Davey: Maybe. But I didn’t get to this point by myself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that family is more than blood. Believe me.

Talen lightly smiles, but his eyes droop to the ground. Family. That’s a word he hasn’t thought about in years. Who is his family now? Does he even have one? Davey means well, but Talen can’t consider the people around him a family yet. He isn’t sure he wants to. With family comes love and with loves comes loss. It isn’t something he is ready to go through again.

He marches beside Davey in silence as they continue to follow Brynjolf’s lead. They meander through the tunnels like a river, taking this turn and that turn until they come into an open room. Tendrils of roots twirl down from the ceiling to the ground, weaving between beams of skylight sneaking from the cracked stones above. They festoon around an old chopping block, weathered and chipped. Impaled in its center is a large, iron axe. It is rusted and decrepit, yet shines out like a beacon in the dark, dredges of the Ratway.

The distinct visage captures Talen. He stops, sure that this is their destination. However, Brynjolf saunters past it without a word, along with everyone else, into yet another cramped tunnel.

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Brynjolf: We’re just about there. My associates should already be waiting for us.

They all mutter some sort of response in unison. Mike speaks up again after they do, more loudly and assertive.

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Mike: Associates? You mean your thief friends?

Vorn: Mike, cool it.

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Brynjolf waves the remark away.

Brynjolf: Yes, my partners in the Thieves Guild. They are also the other people who will be helping us in this fight.

Brynjolf leads them through an archway exiting the tunnel into an open room. It is only slightly larger than the earlier areas they were in and just as dark. A single table rests in the center, holding a dimly lit lamp. Two figures stand on adjacent sides of the table, opposite the group. One is a squat, short bald man with beard surrounding a scowl. The other is a slender, robust elf hiding most of her features under a hood. Talen can just make out a purple glimmer from her eyes.

Brynjolf saunters forward as the dawnguard stop at the tunnel’s exit. He twirls around and, with a wave of his hand, introduces the two.

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Brynjolf: Lads, these are my partners. The dark elf to my left is Karliah, and past her is Delvin.

They nod their heads, giving their own unique greeting.

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Karliah: A pleasure.

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Delvin: Hey there.

The four dawnguard shuffle into place, trying to align themselves inside the cramped corner of the room. Vorn speaks up first, introducing his men.

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 Vorn: Likewise. The name’s Vorn. I’m currently in charge of this squad. To my left are Davey, Mike, and Talen. In that order.

As soon as he concludes, Mike forces his way into the conversation. Staring directly at Brynjolf, he blurts out a bewildered question.

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Mike: Wait what? This is the Thieves Guild? Three of you?

Brynjolf nods, his complacency unscathed by Mike’s outburst.

Brynjolf: There were more of us. In our efforts to learn more about our enemy, we lost many.

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Brynjolf: The three of us are the only members of the Guild left, and probably of Riften’s citizens as well.

The room is silent for a moment. Mike mutters something incoherent under his breath, though Talen can hear his agitation pass his lips.

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Karliah: Those efforts were not in vain. We have a way to defeat them, but it won’t be easy.

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Delvin: Brynjolf has already told you what we aim to do. Kill their leader. But he hasn’t told you why.

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The four dawnguard glance at one another then back to the thieves.

Vorn: That’s correct.

Vorn speaks hesitantly, narrowing his eyes at Delvin. Though there has yet to be any disrespect or aggression, an unsettling tension fills the room. Brynjolf swiftly speaks up to smite it.

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Brynjolf: I knew the Vigilant were apprehensive of me, to say the least. So I told Isran everything instead. It was his idea to wait until now that I fill you in on the rest.

He motions to Karliah, who responds with a nod. She turns and faces the dawnguard.

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Karliah: The daedra above us right now are servants of Molag Bal, Lord of Domination. His entire empire is constructed around enslavement and obedience. As a result, so are his armies.

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Karliah adjusts, placing her hand on her hip.

Karliah: His armies are almost entirely made up of what are called “spawns”. This is a degrading title among his ranks, but also a rank itself.

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Karliah: By themselves, they are no better than a lowly marauder. However, when they are summoned, they take in a large portion of the summoners strength.

Karliah smoothly concludes, glancing at each of the dawnguard as Delvin finishes where she left off.

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Delvin: Kill the summoner, they revert to their petty selves.

Each of the dawnguard has a different reaction. Vorn runs his hand through his beard in contemplation and is the first to respond.

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Vorn: I see. That makes sense.

Davey staggers backwards, incredulous. He gawks at Brynjolf, shaking his head, then lets out a guffaw.

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Davey: Damn! Almost seems too easy.

As Davey and Vorn take the information in, Mike and Talen are the only two to express their doubts. However, it is not of the plan.

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Mike: The logic is sound. I believe you’re right. But one thing doesn’t make sense. How can you possibly know this?

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Talen: He’s right. The only way you can discover this is if you killed their leader, which you haven’t.

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Talen: You’re hiding something.

Once again, the room goes silent, aside from a deep breath from Brynjolf. He clears his throat, shuffling from one foot to the next, and looks at each of them.

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Brynjolf: Listen, I know it’s sketchy. But you are just going to have to trust me. If I told you, the-

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Karliah: We worship the Daedric Prince Nocturnal. She told us everything.

As soon as her words come out, unanimous gasps, stammers, and groans emanate from each of them. Mike’s hand flies to his weapon instinctively, causing Talen to reach out with his own to stop him.

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Talen: Woah! Hold it, Mike.

Mike: This could be a trap! We have to-

Brynjolf immediately cuts in, the urgency in his voice contradicting him awkwardly rubbing his neck.

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Brynjolf: No no no, this is not a trap. This is exactly why I wanted to keep it secret, Karliah.

The dark elf rolls her eyes.

Karliah: We’re about to go in battle with one another. It’s best we reveal everything beforehand.

Brynjolf bites his lip. He skittishly glances at the dawnguard, unease evident in his strained eyes. Instead of seeing more hostility, he is shocked to see Mike sheath his axe. Vorn offers a smile and clasps his wrist, while Davey pounds one fist into his palm eagerly.

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Vorn: A Daedric Lord on our side, huh? Sounds like an advantage.

Davey: Not all daedra worshipers are bad. Believe me, I’ve met my fair share!

The trepidation on Brynjolf’s face is replaced by glee. As his eyes fall back to Mike, however, his smile fades.

Mike stomps forward decisively. He tips his head to the side and glowers at Karliah for a moment before speaking.

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Mike: I’m not dumb. Daedric Lords don’t help mortals for no reason. So? What is her reason?

Karliah matches his glare. They ogle one another for a couple agonizing seconds until Delvin responds in her place.

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Delvin: If you knew what this fight is about, then you wouldn’t need to ask such a question.

He crosses his arms, letting out a dissatisfied huff.

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Delvin: Our entire world is on the verge of collapse. The Divines no longer wish to nurture it, so instead they plan to destroy it. As a result, the Princes of Oblivion can lay claim to it.

Karliah smoothly speaks up after him, explaining from where he left off as if they had recited this speech a thousand times before.

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Karliah: But not all want to see that happen. Many Princes, like Nocturnal, Hircine, and Meridia wish to see it stay the same.

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Karliah: It is up to us to ensure that happens. It is also up to us to ensure all other contenders are defeated. 

Talen raises an eyebrow and turns to Brynjolf.

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Talen: Hircine? Is he or his followers going to help? I… I’m just curious.

Brynjolf gives him a dubious look.

Brynjolf: Nocturnal informed us that she will be reaching out to him, but we haven’t received word back.

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Brynjolf: I wouldn’t count on getting his, or any other Daedric Lord’s help in this fight.

He gives Talen a forlorn shrug, who returns one back, and then gestures for everyone’s attention.

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Brynjolf: This won’t be easy, and we don’t have unlimited time. It is up to us to defeat their leader before our army is defeated.

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Delvin: We will be forced to play to the only advantage we have. Our numbers.

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Karliah: We will have to overwhelm our opponent. No matter how skilled they are, they can’t account for all seven of us at once.

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She concludes abruptly. Each of the thieves’ eyes fall onto the dawnguard, goading them to respond.

They don’t have to wait.

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Davey: Let’s kick some ass!

Vorn: We’re in!

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Mike: Well, there’s no turning back now.

Talen: You can count on me!

Every guild member smiles in unison, even Karliah.

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Brynjolf: Excellent. Now, let’s get down to business.

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Brynjolf: Isran will attack the gates in a few minutes, so listen up! Here’s the plan…

 

Spoiler

Gerruck: Let. Her. Go.

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Gerruck: Now!

Gerruck's entire body shakes. Fragments of fear and fury collide inside of him. His gut demands he charge to Elyvaea's rescue, yet the keen blade at her neck holds him back.

Who is this elf? He glares at her through vision blurry and red. He can barely discern the few revealed features of her face. Her large, black pupils encased in a deep crimson frame, her hair as black as oil, and her skin dark yet somehow eerily pale; none of it is recognizable.

Her eyes flash with a wicked smile.

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Castalia: I think I'll do the opposite.

She chuckles something sinister. Her free hand whimsically weaves throughout the air as she raises it up and over towards Elyvaea. Her fingers dance playfully as they near the elf's breast. She teases little pokes, bouncing each finger over the center keeping them just a hair's width away.

Elyvaea shudders, but doesn't move. Her fingers curl at her sides and she pulls her head away. As her breaths come out shaky and sputtered, Gerruck's eyes flare.

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Gerruck: Lay one finger on her and I swear I will kill you.

Castalia stops. She twirls her index finger around, circling Elyvaea's nipple. Then, with a quaint laugh, gives it a quick poke before jutting out her hand.

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Castalia: If you knew what I am you wouldn't make that threat. Especially in your...

Castalia snickers.

Castalia: ...current form.

Gerruck: What are you talking about?

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Her impish facade fades, a blacker tone consumes her voice.

Castalia: You would know if you didn't storm off before Paarthurnax's big reveal, oh Dragonborn.

Gerruck falters, curling his lips. How could she know about that?

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Castalia: So temperamental. I can see why you were chosen for this.

Gerruck leans back, shoulders heaving. Somehow this elf knows about everything. More than just his proclaimed "destiny" but about his meeting with Paarthurnax as well.

Gerruck looks about the room. Wulfgar's corpse lies still against the furnace pillar and Angeir is dead in the center. It is no mystery that she killed them; but why? There's only one reason Gerruck can conclude. She is trying to stop him from fulfilling the prophecy.

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Gerruck: You have it all wrong! I am not going through with it! I refuse to resurrect Alduin!

Elyvaea gasps.

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Elyvaea: Wh-What? What are talking abo-

Castalia tightens her grip on the sword handle, threateningly dragging it's flat edge over Elyvaea's chest and closer to her neck.

Castalia: Don't talk.

Then, bringing the blade back to it's earlier position, she faces Gerruck once more. Her eyes glisten with the semblance of a smile.

Castalia: Resurrect Alduin? My my... You really do have no idea.

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Gerruck: I know enough to know I won't go through with it.

Castalia shakes her head.

Castalia: And that's the problem.

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Castalia: You see, since Adluin's fiasco with the dragon war, the Aedra don't trust him to do his job.

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Castalia: But he is still the only option available. Their only choice is to put him in a form that can be easily controlled and has very little power.

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Castalia: A... human form.

Gerruck softly exhales. He feels like he is looking through his own eyes from the outside. There isn't any reason he should trust her, and yet there also isn't one that he shouldn't. He fumbles over his words, trying to come up with something to say, but Castalia hasn't finished.

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Castalia: Once that happens, the choice isn't yours to make. And until then, the divines protect you. Keeping you alive and... hidden from those like myself.

Gerruck's breathing starts to steady and he glowers at the elf.

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Gerruck: Then it doesn't matter. I won't do it, so nothing will happen. Drop your weapon and leave. Now.

He raises his fists.

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Gerruck: Either way, this is between you and me. Elyvaea has nothing to do with this.

Castalia sighs and solemnly shakes her had, disappointed.

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Castalia: I didn't come all this way to leave. No. I came here to crush you. To obliterate everything that defines your happiness.

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Castalia: And there's only one way to do that...

Gerruck: Wait... No... No no no. Listen to me, I-

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Elyvaea: Guh!

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Castalia: ...by cutting the weave.

Time starts to slow. The world becomes awash in a consuming crimson as speckles of blood fly from Elyvaea's chest. Her body tumbles downwards as the blade, now coated in red, is slowly tugged out.

Already a puddle accumulates on the stone floor. It splashes with a grotesque splat as Elyvaea's body smacks into it.

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Castalia: Finally.

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Castalia: Everything can now begi-

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Gerruck: You fucking bitch!

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Gerruck: Hrah!

Gerruck rockets his fist at Castalia. With a smirk, Castalia tips her torso, evading the attack with ease.

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Castalia: Oh, come on now. Surely that isn't your best.

Gerruck doesn't relent. Absorbing all the energy from his first strike, he twists around into a second.

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He fires out his other hand, hoping to crack her jaw when she stands back up. Instead, Castalia continues to arch her back.

Gerruck: Fuck you!

Castalia: Ooh, clever.

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She snickers as his fist sails over her face. Not even the drooping sleeve of his robe comes near her.

Castalia: But not clever enough.

She completely folds over, slamming her palm onto the floor as a brace. With her body now completely horizontal, she grasps Gerruck's still moving wrist with her free hand. Then with an aggressive tug, she flips over, yanking Gerruck over her and into the air.

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Gerruck: What the-

As his torso passes her, Castalia lets go, sending him tumbling behind him.

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Gerruck: Woooaaaa!

As Gerruck collides with the floor, Castalia returns to her feet. She starts to circle towards him, like a spider stalking an ensnared fly.

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Castalia: You're weak, Gerruck.

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Castalia: But for some reason, you were still chosen.

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Castalia: I don't know why the Aedra picked you. I don't care. Your weave may be unbreakable, but your soul is as fragile as they come.

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Castalia: I will not relent until it has been shattered.

Gerruck: Shut up.

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Castalia: That priestess is next. Your little friend in Solitude.

Gerruck: I said shut up!

Gerruck springs to his feet. He curls his fist and rushes at Castalia again.

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Gerruck: I'll kill you!

Castalia only laughs.

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Castalia: Awww. How cute.

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Castalia: But you can't kill me.

Castalia doesn't even flinch as Gerruck swings out at her. His bare knuckles careen towards her jaw. She makes no motion. Then, as his fist is mere inches away...

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...it passes through thin air.

Gerruck: What...

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Gerruck: How did...

He spins around himself, yanking his head frantically from left to right.

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Gerruck: Where are you?

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Gerruck: Where did you go!?

When he is answered only the the stillness of the room and the scent of blood in nostrils, he turns to the sky...

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...and screams.

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Spoiler

It is black. It was red at first, dark and consuming, but still red. With each step, the life left it.

Now it sinks in snow, sullied into a scourge. Every time Gerruck looks at her, it is all he sees.

Blood.

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Gerruck: Why?

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Gerruck: Why did this happen to her?

Gerruck doesn't expect Paarthurnax to answer. That isn't why he ventured here, cradling his love's corpse in his arms the entire way.

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Gerruck: When you told about my fate, I thought it was the world that stopped me.

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Gerruck: I couldn't destroy where I belonged.

He turns away.

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Gerruck: But I belonged somewhere beyond that.

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Gerruck: And now that's gone. This isn't about revenge. I give up.

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Gerruck: I don't want to decide anymore.

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Gerruck: I just want it to end. I want everything to end. I will do what the Aedra want of me.

 

Spoiler

The wind blows frigid over the path to High Hrothgar. It is light, more like a breeze, and only just barely brushes Castalia's bangs. She loves the feeling of them sweeping her forehead and tickling her brow. She has felt so much pressure the last few weeks that she forgot to relish her small satisfactions; and especially the greatest ones.

Manipulating the Dragonborn worked out exactly as planned. Her masquerade was exquisite, if she says so herself. He truly believed she was trying to stop him from fulfilling his destiny. Oh how he shrieked when his little girlfriend breathed her last; how he charged at Castalia, so furious, so thirsty for vengeance, and how he screamed when he lost his chance. Now he has surely given up. Now that he lost his whole world, there is nothing stopping him from destroying the rest. Or rather attempting to. He is probably hiking up to the Throat of the World now, carrying her corpse with him. It will be some time until the actual Dragon Break commences, but Castalia has all the time she needs.

For now, the bearing on her shoulder's has subsided. She doesn't know the next task she is meant to fulfill, but is eager to accept it. It is what she was born for, after all.

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She sits atop a large, frozen stone. The ice below her melts underneath, dribbling down the sides. Floating in her hand is a leather bound book. Weathered and decrepit, it matches it's counterpart down to the stitching on the spine.

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And soon with much more.

Right now it is empty. Not a single word is inscribed into any of the pages, but that is the point. A puppet is just a doll at first, the strings must be added last.

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A levitation spell keeps the book bobbing above Castalia's palm. She can't help but feel a surge of pride as she watches it. The power given to her when she was a child is tremendous, but not without it's setbacks. She cannot manipulate her puppets without a tether, which is where the book comes in. The spider worked out splendidly, acting as both the tether and a warden. But it just won't suffice for a public event.

Castalia: You can hear me now.

She says the words softly and sternly. It is not a suggestion, it is a command.

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Castalia: We have waited long enough, my Puppet Priestess.

Castalia smirks. Every step she has made so far has spread chaos so precise, so pristine, and so perfect; but is not true chaos.

For that to happen, she must let go of the reins.

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Castalia: Chaos breeds destruction. And it is about time this world dies.

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Castalia: My Puppet...

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Castalia: ...you may begin.

 

To be continued in Chapter Three's Conclusion: The Last Sermon (Part 3 of 3)...

 

 

Act Seven Index:

Spoiler

 

Author's Note:

Spoiler

Same thing as before. Much of the poses in the "fight scene" (It wasn't much of a fight, I know. But that was intentional.) were custom and in consideration for Collygon's Poser V3, so if any of them really stood out and you would like them included, let me know. Thanks!

 

11 Comments


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Woav, such twists ! O_o I'm impressed with the dimension of your story, Collygon, all the dots of your scenario slowly connecting into something wider. And Karliah's face screens were amazing (though her skimpy outfit somehow broke the effect). I'm curious to read where this will go ! :smiley:

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Wow that was great. Karliah looks amazing with your ENB (probably all Dark Elf do).

I really like the build-up for the Riften battle, I'm looking forward for it. I can't imagine the Deadra being completely blind to whats going on beneath them and I fully agree with Tirloque, the dimension of your story is impressive.

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Castalia is one hot beautiful and dangerous chick. Kind of like her.

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On 1/7/2018 at 2:35 PM, Tirloque said:

Woav, such twists ! O_o I'm impressed with the dimension of your story, Collygon, all the dots of your scenario slowly connecting into something wider. And Karliah's face screens were amazing (though her skimpy outfit somehow broke the effect). I'm curious to read where this will go ! :smiley:

Thank you! Yes, it has been a pain staking process of "connecting the dots" (to use your metaphor). The next part will do that to the fullest, lining them up to form the visage that chapter four will be. I agree with the skimpy outfit bit too. I am overhauling my game once again for the next chapter, and I might get rid of the massive skimpy replacer mod I have >.>

12 hours ago, Alter Native said:

Wow that was great. Karliah looks amazing with your ENB (probably all Dark Elf do).

I really like the build-up for the Riften battle, I'm looking forward for it. I can't imagine the Deadra being completely blind to whats going on beneath them and I fully agree with Tirloque, the dimension of your story is impressive.

Thanks! I have been trying to hype up the battle as best I can, so I hope that it meets expectations! I will say this, the entire fight is almost entirely custom made. I spent hours creating 30+ poses or so for each stage.

10 hours ago, EvalovesEP said:

Joj, I have no words. You always leave me speechless. Damn ;)

Thank you as always, Eva! :smiley:

4 hours ago, Elf Prince said:

Castalia is one hot beautiful and dangerous chick. Kind of like her.

I'm glad you do! She is certainly cunning and dastardly. There will be much more of her in the next chapter! Thank you! :smiley:

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11 hours ago, Collygon said:

Thanks! I have been trying to hype up the battle as best I can, so I hope that it meets expectations! I will say this, the entire fight is almost entirely custom made. I spent hours creating 30+ poses or so for each stage.

Wow that is a tone of work just for the fight, now I'm even more hyped ;).

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On 1/9/2018 at 2:08 PM, Resdayn said:

Interesting turn of events.

 

Look forwards what happens next. :smile:

Well you won't wait long! The conclusion will be out today!

On 1/9/2018 at 2:11 PM, The Gauntman said:

Great job at telling the story, I can tell you have thought a lot about it. 

Thank you! :smiley:

On 1/10/2018 at 1:13 AM, ther1pper said:

Damn i wasn't expecting her to die, great work.

Thanks! :smile:

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