A Night in Hackdirt
Hackdirt, an evil village, both on its surface and in its fowl depths. The cursed, mining town always has and always will be bristling with evil. It was the evil of this place that had lead this town to its destruction, so many times before but the same evil always allowed it to rise from the ashes. This evil has claimed many lives, killing innocents, driving the vulnerable to unspeakable acts...
This story is one of many...
The year was 4E 208 and it was quite a special night, weather wise. A storm had gathered above the colonial highlands and the thunder has been stirring for several minutes, it rumbled and eventually raged, with a deafening clash and a torrential rain. It was during the month of Sun's Height, that this ungodly thunder storm chose to reveal itself; it was noted by the locals as it seemed out of place that week.
The rest of the week had been sunny, hottest weather recorded in this region for the best part of three years. Many academics feared a drought and farmers grew worried as their crops were beginning to grow weak from a lack of water. This storm was a classic case of 'be careful what you wish for.' It was during this storm that two brothers, who were making their way through rural Cyrodiil, were caught up in said storm. They turned off of the Gold Road and fled to Chorrol for shelter. They ran through a forest, covering their heads from the terrible weather above and the overhanging branches that could render them unconscious and leave them, defenceless, to the exposure of the storm.
Both of them were bretons, one was in his mid twenties, the other was closer to thirty. They had quite a resemblance but they weren't identical, the age difference was a major factor in their differing appearances but they had several variations in facial features that set them apart. Still, anyone could tell that they were brothers if they stood next to each other and it wasn't uncommon for people to confuse the two of them.
The eldest of the two brothers led them through the storm. Edgar was always the leader, for as long as he could remember. Ever since their childhood, one was always seen trailing behind the other, obediently following him and his instructions to the letter. The elder was a natural born leader, confident, brave and intelligent. His younger brother never appeared to have a problem with this, he liked life being simple and leadership kind of took that away from him. Tomas ran after him, his feet pounding against the muddy puddles, underneath his feet. The water splashed into the air and stuck to his trousers, adding another two or three layers of mud that this storm had caused.
"How much farther to Chorrol?" Tomas called, his voice was barely audible as the harsh winds tried to silence him.
Edgar couldn't lift his head up to check, he knew that he was going the right way as he started heading north from the Gold Road and he hadn't diverted. He made sure of that.
"I can't see but it can't be much farther!" The breton called back, his voice was also drowned out by the aggressive winds and the sound of the precipitation pounding against the rocks and nearby trees.
They both ran ahead, ducking and dodging branches as they went, Edgar spotted a root that was jutting out of the ground and he swiftly jumped over it.
"Watch out for roots!"
Tomas didn't hear his brother and therefore didn't heed his warning; he caught his foot in the tree's root.
"Shit!" He fell to the floor, covering his shirt and face in mud as he landed, face first, into a puddle.
Edgar didn't hear the fall but he eventually stopped, to check on his brother. It was then that he noticed his brother on the floor, crawling around and trying to get untangled.
Nine, give me strength... He ran over and knelt down, untangling Tomas' foot from the trap and pulling him to his feet.
"You okay?" Edgar's voice was barely audible, even though he was right in front of him.
"Yeah, just... grazed my elbow!" Tomas replied in response, feeling like a kid.
Edgar sighed and gestured for his brother to follow him, they had to get to shelter soon... a cave, a fort...
Edgar saw, what looked like a fort, just ahead of them. It was a large brick structure, like many of the forts that they had seen across Cyrodiil. It was ancient, long since abandoned...
"Come on, we can hide in that fort until the storm passes!" Edgar suggested, turning back to his brother so that the breton could hear him.
"Sounds good!" Tomas called, doubtful that he was even audible over the storm.
The two of them approached the large structure; the overbearing wind almost knocked them off their feet as they staggered to the safety of its walls. As they got closer to the fort, close enough for it to be completely visible from top to bottom, Tomas noticed that the wind seemed to have died down. It felt like something was blocking it. He looked around to see if there was a large tree stood next to them and he noticed several houses.
The older of the two bretons turned around, he saw it to, a small town, a port in the storm. He glanced back to his brother with a smile, feeling thankful for the answered prayer as they both set off to try and take shelter there.
Hopefully, there's a barn or something that we can spend the night in. The breton cared nothing for the owner's permission, he'd be gone before they found out.
"Please, Gods... let there be a tavern!" Tomas called out, it would be a quite mumble but quite mumbles were more silent than thoughts, thanks to the storm.
"I'd just be happy with a roof over our heads..." Edgar muttered, he was never someone who liked to push their luck.
The two of them ran to the farm houses, the heavy rain created a mist that obscured what lay beyond but they didn't care, they just wanted to get to shelter and stay there until the danger around them had passed.
As they ran past the wooden walls of the houses, they spotted a well and what looked like the outline of a chapel.
"What the... are we in Chorrol already?!" Tomas's confusion showed as he looked around, trying to identify the houses.
"I don't think so, Chorrol has walls!" His older brother reminded him, looking around for a sign or for guards. The mist hid whatever signs lay beyond their field of vision and nobody was stupid enough to be outside, in this nightmare of a gale. The force of which was strong enough to carry off a lamb or even a calf.
Tomas stood his mouth agape as he saw the unexpected sight before him. An inn, perfectly preserved, stood in front of him, like a miracle.
"Moslin's inn" He muttered to himself, suppressed by the winds as he did. He turned around, back to his brother and called him over. "Edgar? I found an inn!"
Edgar turned back, seeing the old wooden structure and trying to figure out where he was. He wasn't on the road anymore, so this had to be a village. Though none of the marked villages had inns, they were all farming communities...
This village must have been forgotten but why? Perhaps it was meant to be this way, perhaps nobody was supposed to find it.
Tomas ran ahead and looked inside; there was someone behind the counter, wiping it down with a cloth. The breton tried the handle, before Edgar could intervene and opened the front door.
The two of them stepped inside; the water rolled off of their skin and clothes like someone was still pouring it over their heads. They closed the door, with a rather loud bang and approached the Imperial, behind the counter. He was a sad-looking, middle aged man who had a strange look despair and hatred in his eyes, though he lived in a rural community, so this was to be expected.
"Can I... help you?" His bitterness was, clearly, being suppressed. His bitterness still managed to break through, hiding all other emotion in his voice.
He wasn't the most inviting inn keeper.
Did I walk into a tavern or a funeral directors? Edgar thought as he glanced at the cobwebs that just added to the gloomy atmosphere of the place.
"Yes, we'd like some drinks..." Edgar began, breaking out of thought. He felt out of place here, like he had gone to Elsweyr or something. "And a room, if possible."
The man, who was presumably 'Moslin,' glared at Tomas as he pulled over the guest book.
"Sign here please..." He swivelled the book around and several names were shown, some of which went back to the third era.
"Doesn't look like you get a lot of customers here..." Edgar commented, signing the register.
Tomas wasn't paying attention; he looked around at the dead room. There were a few tables, the bare minimum of three but it wouldn't surprise him if there were never enough people to fill the tables in this sink hole of a tavern. The fire, in the corner of the room, was the only thing human about the place, the only sign of life.
Tomas' eyes glared across the room as he spotted another patron, a bosmer girl, holding a book up to her face and reading to herself.
She doesn't look crazy! Well... compared to everyone else... Tomas hoped that she wasn't a local, that would be disappointing. Could she be a traveller, to get drunk with and take to bed? It sounded like a dream adventure…
The younger of the two brothers jumped, turning around to face the voice that had just yelled at him.
"We're getting separate rooms, so you'll owe me ten gold."
"Oh... that's okay." Tomas replied, with a smile.
"I'll see to your drinks gentlemen..." 'Moslin' muttered with disdain as he walked over to the ale taps.
Tomas had already walked over to chat up the bosmer, leaving Edgar alone at the counter, he didn't mind as Tomas was always the lewd one.
He looked out of the windows, he couldn’t see past the glass but they were still entertaining as the frames, violently rattled.
A port in the storm... finally, something good's happened to us.
Chapter II: The Calm of the Storm.
Edgar sat by the window, enjoying the view of the storm as it raged on outside.
Though, it would be more accurate to say that there was no view to enjoy, as the mist and fog obscured everything, making concealing the village in a hazy grey fog.
Every now and then, the occasional object would fly by and Edgar would try to guess what it was, as everything was silhouetted against the mist. The windows rattled, violently, in their frames as the wind hit them.
The atmosphere was completely dead as Edgar, the Bosmer girl and Tomas were the only patrons and there were only two sounds that could be heard, the windows rattling and Tomas' conversation.
"So..." Tomas uttered, nervously. It was rare that he got to speak to people, on his own and it was even rarer for it to be a woman.
"Y-you're a mage?" The woman shook her head with a smile, trying not to laugh at his stupid question.
"No, I'm a florist. I wear this to pick daises." She lost it at the end, giggling to herself as Tomas looked confused. She opened her eyes and noted his confusion and burst into another, giggling fit.
Edgar turned to look at them; he smiled as he felt happy for his brother, who didn't even notice him.
It's been a hard month... The breton thought, with a sigh as he looked back at his feet.
I just hope that I'm right about this...
The two brothers had been wandering Cyrodiil for several weeks now, trying to find work in County Kvatch and Skingrad, both of them had turned up empty.
Both Edgar and his brother searched the lands for honest work. Edgar had the skill to become a sellsword but he knew that Tomas lacked it; no private caravans would accept the two of them as Tomas was often seen as a liability, due to his clumsy nature. Edgar always stood by him though, and thus a lot of interviews often ended with the older of the two leaving, hanging his head in shame at his recent failures and the other shuffling, guiltily, along behind him.
Edgar had considered buying a house for him and his brother to live in as he worried about him living on his own as he'd never had to fend for himself before. He often wondered how he would cope, if he was to live on his own as he would most likely do something foolish, like leave the front door unlocked or leave a window open and they’d return to find the place ransacked.
His brother was, by no means stupid but he was incredibly inexperienced with things. He was young and his life seemed to have been given to him on a plate. He had no incentive to strive for independence and Edgar didn't really feel like he needed to encourage him, in fact the last thing he needed was for his brother to constantly want to prove himself and risk landing them both in trouble.
"I'm Tomas..." The younger Breton muttered, feeling incredibly nervous.
"My brother, over there, is Edgar."
The Bosmer looked over Tomas’ shoulder and saw the older Breton in the corner, sat on the windowsill, looking out at the storm.
"Yeah, I saw the resemblance as you walked in." She said with a smile, dragging her thumb around the rim of her cup.
"I'm Dennrel, mage of the Arcane University."
Tomas was a bit taken aback; he had never met a mage before...
"I-I don't think we've met a mage before." He muttered as he tried to remember if he had or not.
"Magic practitioners aren't exactly uncommon, especially here in Cyrodiil." She said with a smile, glancing around the room, looking for something to make eye contact with.
Her eyes trailed across, until they met Edgar’s gaze and quickly darted back to his brother.
“So… What brings you out here?” Dennrel asked, trying to take the heat off of herself as she sipped her drink, elegantly.
“L-Looking for work…” Tomas muttered, awkwardly. He swallowed his nerves and looked up at her.
“We haven’t had much luck though; most people have turned us away.”
Dennrel nodded, sympathetically and glanced away, she knew what that was like…
“I had that problem before I joined the Arcane University, I tried everything, from shop keeping to being a maid and nobody would take me for anything.” She then paused and glanced away, it seemed as if some things were coming back to her. “Well, at least not anything pleasant…” She mumbled, awkwardly.
Tomas nodded and looked away, knowing exactly what she meant. There were always plenty of jobs, anywhere but only, because nobody would do them, grave digger, refuse collector, collecting bodies off of the streets and from the side of the road.
The jobs were available, because nobody in the right mind would take them, they were putrid, unhygienic and worst of all they paid horribly. The two Bretons would rather starve, than do any of those things as their life expectancy would probably be more promising if they did as many people who do those jobs, end up with deadly diseases, after the first week.
“S-So, what kind magic do you study?” Tomas asked, hoping to steer the topic of conversation away from working.
“Destruction, alteration and conjuration.” Dennrel replied, enthusiastically, though it went over Tomas’ head.
“So… You blow things up then?” He asked, earning himself an odd look in return, which eventually broke down into a chuckle.
“Sometimes, sometimes I freeze them or take them apart using more natural means. I can also trick people into seeing, hearing or feeling things, that aren’t there as well as summon a creature out of thin air!” She stopped as she realised that she was getting ahead of herself, she loved magic a great deal but she rarely had anyone to talk about it with.
She smiled and sat back, allowing Tomas to speak, if he wanted to.
“W-What kind of creatures?” The Breton asked, hoping to get her talking about herself again.
“Well… Some of them are animals but I’ve recently been working on summoning daedra, like Hunger and Clannfear. If you’ve heard of or seen one of those…”
Tomas shook his head, he knew little about the dark plains of Oblivion and their demonic overlords. Tomas and Edgar showed little to no interest in magic or any of the oddities of this world, the mostly tried to avoid them if possible as they often lead to bad trouble.
“How’s that going?”
Dennrel shrugged before looking away, awkwardly.
“I summoned a Clannfear…” She mumbled, awkwardly as if it was a bad memory.
“It took a lot of concentration to summon it and when it got here, it attacked me. Luckily my teacher was stood by with his destruction spells or else I would have been eaten by my own creation.” She looked away, somewhat ashamed of her past failures as she really thought that she had it that day, only for it to backfire and make her look a fool.
Tomas couldn’t help but smile at her story, the thought of a mage being attacked by their own conjuration was somewhat amusing, even to him.
“Well, failure is how we make progress, use it as a stepping stone to get better.” The Breton pointed out, causing her to look up at him in confusion as that somewhat made sense.
“I… Suppose you’re right, I have come a long way since then. I just wish I could have gotten it right the first time, you know?”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
Their laughter could be heard across the tavern and ‘Moslin’ was growing frustrated at their ‘cutesy’ relationship. He stood there behind the counter, scrubbing a glass, with a cloth and forming a curse in his head as he grew more resentful by the second.
Edgar, on the other hand, was enjoying hearing Tomas laugh for once, it was rare that their conversations ended in laughter as Edgar often felt distanced, being the ‘responsible one.’
Tomas meant a great deal to him and they got along great but, because they spend so much time together, it is rare that they can talk about anything new. Conversations grow boring and dull and, eventually, they both stopped trying. This was fine by Edgar as he was always a solitary person anyway, if Tomas left him he’d just do what he was doing now anyway.
It was getting late now and apart from Tomas’ conversation, there wasn’t anything worth staying awake for. The Breton sighed and hopped off of the window ledge and made his way to the stairway, he glanced up to meet ‘Moslin’s’ gaze, his eyes were fixed on the Breton, following him around the room and up the stairs.
It was incredibly unsettling…
The Breton entered his room; it was a run down, abandoned loft room, with little to no effort in making it presentable. Many of the pots were broken, a chair was lay on its back and the bed was unmade. He rolled his eyes at the condition of the place as he stepped in; he wasn’t fussy but expected the décor to be intact and the furniture to be upright at the very least.
He entered and rolled onto his bed and sighed, smiling as he got comfortable.
Looks like the storm came through here… He thought, laughing to himself, softly as he lay there and looked up at the ceiling.
Storm’ll be gone tomorrow and we’ll be in Chorrol by mid-day, even if it doesn’t have work, it’ll still be a nice change in scenery…
The Breton rolled over and went to sleep, the strobes from the lightning forks occasionally hit the room, illuminating it but Edgar had slept through worse, outside as well…
Chapter III: Gone but never away.
Edgar awoke the next morning, a smile crept across his face and he groaned happily as he stretched out, in his double bed. He could hear birds singing outside and the sun's rays were visible at the center of the room, where they had forced their way in, through the windows. He lay flat out for a few moments, embracing this time of rest before he would have to get up, get Tomas and begin his treck to Chorrol.
From the looks of things, Edgar didn't have far to go. He just had to go directly north and not deviate too far from the path, which was simple enough really. Tomas could go on his own, if he wasn't so helpless...
Speaking of helpless...
Edgar got out of bed and went down to see how his brother had got on, who knows, perhaps the girls spoke to him through the night. It'd be great if he could marry him off and not have to worry about him anymore, though he somehow knew that he'd still find something to worry over, even if that was the case. She seemed okay, sensible, strong and remarkably kind and the fact that she was a traveller and not an actual resident of this hovel seemed to comfort him even more...
The Breton went to the door, passing the small dining area, which looked like it had seen better days and placed his hand on the doorhandle. He pushed down but found that it was stuck, the Breton grumbled to himself and forced it down, finally getting the the door open and barging out, into the corridor. He sighed, heavily as he looked over his shoulder, wondering if there was anything in this Gods forsaken place that worked properly.
He made his way down stairs, making sure that his feet hit every step with a 'bump' to convey his frustration and pass it on to 'Moslin,' who was creepily already awake and scrubbing a glass. It was strange though as it looked like he had never moved, like he had been stood there all night, just scrubbing that one glass. Edgar could swallow that, if someone told him as he was a creepy old man, who lived in an abandoned mining town, so insignificant that nobody bothered to mark it on any official maps.
Edgar entered the main sitting area and looked around, his brother wasn't there, so he must still be in bed or out exploring the town, though the latter possibility seemed incredibly unlikely, considering that it involved Tomas getting up earlier than him. The Breton sighed and approached 'Moslin,' who didn't make eye contact, until Edgar appeared right in front of him, like he was trying to dodge the responsibility of having to communicate with him. The Imperial's hazed eyes met his, sending an uneasy feeling through Edgar's body, like someone was trying to read his soul.
"Can I... Help you?" He asked, almost in monotone.
Edgar placed his hands on the counter, to seem a little more relaxed, the facade fell through, when he noticed that he was the only one acting like a human being.
"Has my brother come down here this morning?"
The Breon prayed, silently, that he wouldn't have to remind 'Moslin' who his brother was or even have to define the word 'brother' as Moslin did not seem like someone who had friends or a family of any kind, he looked like he was errected here, the spawn of some fungi or moss or something else that grew in a dark, cold, mirky, dank place.
"No." Moslin answered, unhelpfully and coldly as if he secretely wished death uppon the boy. Although, his desire to see them both perish at the hands of something monstrous was hardly discrete to begin with. This answer just frustrated Edgar as he felt like this was a simple thing, to want to know and it was begining to unnerve him.
"So, he's still in his room?" The Breton inquired, walking away from the counter and going up to see him and make sure that he was safe. This caused Moslin to actually express an emotion, a look of fear swept across his face.
"N-No, he's..." He paused and looked away, faking sympathy in an effort to seem convincing.
Edgar had his foot hovering over the first step, he moved it back and placed it by his side, like someone had just told him that it was booby trapped.
"L-Last night, he came down stairs, chasing after that mage. She seemed pretty angry at him, I'm not sure what happened between them but..." He glanced and looked away, drawing Tomas' room key as proof that he was no longer in his room.
"He hasn't come back since..."
Edgar grew furious, he never heard anything last night but it was possible that the sound of the storm covered it up. Who's to say that Moslin was telling the whole truth? What if they...
"And you didn't think to wake me?!" The Breton snapped at him, marching over to the counter and looming over the little inkeeper with a look of fire in his eyes. 'Moslin' backed away, pressing himself against the wall as he grew fearful of this breton.
"I-It was too late, there was nothing that you-"
"I could have decided that!"
Edgar's voice hit every surface in the tavern, there was no echo but he felt the presence of it as it hit every window and glass orniment or perhaps it was just his imagination...
There was a long silence as 'Moslin' trembled before him, he didn't seem like a man who was easy to scare, perhaps it was an act or just the fear of being locked in a room with a stranger, who would likely beat him to death, if he was provoked.
Edgar glared at him, for a moment longer before stepping away. He didn't have time for this, he had to find his brother before something terrible happened to him. He took his first three steps, up the stairs, instantly getting 'Moslin's' attention, who ran over to him, waving his arms in the air.
"Excuse me but you aren't allowed in any room that's not yo-"
Edgar stopped and spun around, he was in no mood to be told where he could go, he fixed his sould crushing gaze on the fool, who eventually backed down, allowing Edgar to continue.
The Breton burst into the room, greeted by overturned furniture and smashed orniments. This couldn't have been the result of an argument, something must have happened here as quite a struggle was put up...
Edgar began to look around, looking for any sign of his brother amidst the wreckage. He looked in the draws, to find them empty.
Not too surprising...
He then got on his hands and knees and began to look under the furniture for any sign of Tomas' presence, anything that could link him to the scene. He looked under the bedside table, which was one of two things that was stood upright, the other being...
Yes, he could see something, under the bed, right at the center. He crawled under it and reached out, finding a scrunched up piece of paper, which he quickly retracted and unfolded, as quickly as possible.
Not what you think.
Do not trust the old woman!
She isn't as she--------
It then becomes unintelligable as it was written hurridly before it was scrunched up and thrown for someone to find. He could identify a name, in the later part of the message, so it most likely wasn't meant for him anyway. He pocketted the note, hoping to translate the rest of it, if it came to that but he doubted that he'd have much luck.
The Breton turned away, seeing nothing that would give him any clue as where his brother had gone and decided to head out. This town wasn't as it seemed and he had foolishly brought his brother to it and put him in harm's way.
I'll find you Tomas, just hang on, you can't have gotten far...
Edgar opened the door to Tomas' room, to be greeted by a shirtless Imperial, with a glazed expression. Edgar glanced down, at his waist, seeing a wooden club by his side. He wasn't wearing any shoes and his feet were heavily blistered, implying that this was often the case. He also wore sack cloth pants, the cheapest and most common form of clothing for street beggars. He had an odd, unwashed face and straggly unwashed hair to match, his facial features were a bit odd, not exactly distorted but it stood out, none the less and it didn't help that he looked gorked.
"C-Can I help you?" Edgar asked, he was only being pleasant, because the man startled him. He backed away, drawing his knife incase he was crazy.
"Die!" The man screamed, drawing his club and lunging forward.
Chapter IV: The Gods that answer with fire.
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Why is there no more of this? It's soo good!