Chapter 8:

Artemis wasn't sure what time it was, but the sun wasn't up just yet. He found himself unable to sleep. He found after stealing the shades life force he doesn't need it as much. In fact a lot has changed other then how he looks. The aches he used to have are gone. He can move faster now, like back when he was younger. He has more energy as well and can take a hit better then ever before. He shuffles around the large house, still looking at the collection of weapons Evelyn has. He's looking at a large two handed sword, he's been trying to figure out what it's made out of. Nearby is a small journal and after a quick look around he picks it up. The journal is short but names the blade as Bloodskal Blade. He reads a few more pages before looking at the sword. It almost worked like Charon's Claw only the energy it creates doesn't linger. He places the book back where he finds it. After awhile he finds himself in the basement. The sounds of a forge could be heard. He finds Evelyn, patching up her armor. She had forgotten the arrow hole, but patching it wouldn't take to much time. She was just thankful she had void salts she could use. He can't help but watch her. "How did you learn to make your own armor?" She tilts her head to him. "I learned when I was in the fighters guild. We didn't have a smith like the Companions so it was either make it, or buy it." She leans her head back as she chews her lip. "I don't remember who thought me, but I learned quickly." She turns her gaze back to the armor, giving it a light tug. Karliah would kill her if anything happened to it.

"Besides I always felt it would be more useful to know how to repair my own things. This way I wouldn't always have to rely on other people to do it for me.." She waste no time slipping the armor on. She tugs her gloves as she smiles at him. "I'm surprised a man like you wouldn't know the basics. I mean, I take it you've had that dagger for countless years. I'm sure it wears down." He looks at his dagger, he never gave it much thought. "It's never gone dull, never lost it's power, maybe there's more to it." She looks at the dagger, but shrugs. "Maybe." She picks up her weapons and they head out of her basement. She waves goodbye to Lydia before heading out. The path wasn't far, it only took a few minutes to reach the tower. "This is Tower of Mzark." The gate was still open so she stands near the lever. "Brace yourself, it kind of jolts when it goes down." He stands near her as she pulls the lever, the platform they were on goes down. He's not sure how far it goes, but it finally comes to a stop. She leads the way to a set of doors. "This is where I found the Elder Scroll." He glances at the Oculory, tilting his head at it. "What in the world...?" "Odd isn't it, not sure how long this was here...maybe this is where the old Nordic hero's found the Scroll in the first place. Doesn't quiet answer who put it back." She has no answers to that riddle as she heads down. After a few minutes he follows her to a different room. It looks as if people once stayed here. A old cooking pot sits to the side, but it's covered in dust. Most of the books here are useless, no doubt she cleaned it out when she first came here. She leads him to another platform as he joins her. "How do these things work?" She blinks as she pulls the lever. "Um....I have no idea."

The ride down is even longer. They come to another set of doors and she slowly opens them. "Welcome to Blackreach." He steps out slowly and almost lets out a gasp. He wasn't sure what he expected, but this surpassed what he had in mind. The entire place is lit with glowing mushrooms as tall as trees. It was like everything glowed, even some of the rocks. The only sound he hears is the sound of water running as he slowly follows the bridge. She chuckles slightly as she follows after him. He spots the old Dwarven city. As well as a set of dragon bones. Artemis takes a look at the bones, even giving it a good jab with his sword. "It's dead, I killed him myself." It was slightly amusing to watch how cautious he was. He turns his gaze to her. He shouldn't be that surprised, but he's yet to really see her face against one. "Vulthuryol, I didn't mean to wake him up, but you see that giant glowing orb?" She points up and he leans his head back. "What is that?" He's never seen anything like it, he can't even tell what's powering the thing. "It's a light, and no I have no idea how it works. But I was using my Shout on the Falmer and I hit the thing I know I'm fighting this b*****d as well." There's a tunnel that leads right to where the orb is. So they could get a closer look. They head up a flight of stairs as she leads him through the tunnel. Once they get close she moves out of the way for him. He can't seem to look away from the orb, at least it's not to bright where it's not stinging his eyes.

The ledge also gives him a view of the city. This place was huge, taking up a good majority of the area. The place must had been pack back in the day. He turns his eyes back to the orb. "You have no idea what powers this thing?" She shakes her head at him. "Not a clue, no one has been able to figure out. Let alone how it managed to stay lit for all these years.." They stay there for a moment longer before heading off again. Artemis can't seem to help himself on wanting to see more. As they get close to come grass she tugs his arm. "Careful, Chaurus tend to hide down here as well. Insects, big ones that spit poison.." He takes her warning and stays near the path. Not far is a Dwarven Centurion, still in it's charging station. He moves very slowly, making sure it wasn't awake. "Don't worry, I took it's soul stone, he won't wake up.." He slowly inches closer. "That's a Dwarven Centurion, these I know how they work. Seems the Dwarven folk places soul gems into the constructs to power them. It works bloody well and they hit hard. They can also get you with their steam." Artemis is still looking it over before looking at her. He has no idea what to say about what he's looking at. She chuckles slightly as she places her hands on his shoulders. "It's okay, come on you.." The place is strangely quiet. Seems her last run through of the area might have scared off the locals. For now at least. As they keep walking he turns his head, walking over to some still water. "I hear humming, or some kind of ringing..."

He follows the sound to what looks to be a plant. It has blood red leaves and the closer he got, the louder the sound was. "This plant..." "That's a Crimson Nirnroot. they all make that sound. Though these ones make a different sound then the green ones." He wants to touch it, but he's not sure he should. "It's harmless, just don't eat it." He runs one of the leaves over his fingers. It feels thick and a little prickly. "Why does it make this sound?" "No one knows, tons of people have studied Nirnroots, but so far no one has a answer as to why they make that sound. It's the only plant that does. But it stops if you pull the plant out.." After a few hours they return to the empty city. He walks around slowly, just exploring the place. It strangely reminds him of the Underdark, only much more quiet. There's a hint a danger here, but he can stay relaxed. He doesn't have to worry about a dagger in the back. "I've been to a place like this before, but it was far larger, the Underdark." She crosses her arms as she walks with him. "Not many creatures call it home, but it's home to the Drow...dark elves. They're not like the elves you have here. They're cunning, ruthless, and deadly. They spend their entire lifetime perfecting their art. Jarlaxle dragged me there after I had injured myself." He shakes his head after a minute, as if trying to shake out the memory. He's not even really sure why he's told her this much about himself. However it's not like she hides anything from him. "It feels like a lifetime ago Jarlaxle came into my life and made it hell." He runs his hand through his hair, brushing it back. "You're a mage, ever heard of an item called Idalia's Flute?" She gives it some thought. "Can't say I have, what did it do?" He scowls a bit as he looks the other way. "Jarlaxle gave it to me to help with my thoughts. It did the opposite."

He lets out an angry growl. "I broke that damn thing, and even five years later my thoughts aren't any clearer.." He can't help but glare at Charon's Claw. She places her hand under her chin as she thinks deeply. "I see..." She continues to think it over but she needs more information if she's going to help him. "I'm guessing this flute opened doors you were more then happy to keep closed." He lets out a puff of breath through his nose. "You can say that.." "There's not much I can really do about that. I'm afraid those demons you have to face yourself. This, Jarlaxle, maybe he was trying to help you." He lets out a dry laugh. "The only person he wanted to help was himself. He called me a friend, but no Drow could ever see a human as anything but iblith, filth..." She was about to say something, but she hears something approaching. She takes a hold of his arm and leads him away from the city as a large group of Falmer come out of hiding. Thee was no point on hanging around any longer and leads the way back out. Once outside under the clear sky she turns her gaze to him. "You keep a lot to yourself, and that's fine I understand completely. Some things are better off in the past. However you're going to drive yourself crazy with all of this. And maybe that's why Charon's Claw has been giving you problems." He lets out a deep sigh at this. It's to much to go through and a part of him just wants to these those memories buried. But between the flute and the shade it wasn't as easy as it once was.

"At any rate we should really head back to Dawnstar. We can walk if you like?" He gives her a slight nod and she leads the way north. It's was a bit of a walk, but the poor guy looked like he needed it. "If you don't mind my asking. What is it that's bothers you so much?" He glares at her, but she holds up her hands. "I'm just trying to help as best I can here." He never openly talked about what he saw thanks to the flute. But he got the feeling Jarlaxle knew more then what he let on. He goes quiet for a good few minutes as he looks up at the sky. "The first thing I saw was my mother...Shanali...I was twelve when she sold me.." Her eyes go wide at this. "Pardon?" "She sold herself, to pay the temple. To 'save her soul', she sold her body, anything, in the end she died sick..." She's to shocked to really say anything. It's rare but some people use religion to sell people the idea of eternal happiness. And all it cost a person was their homes, and life savings. "That's not the end of it, my...'father' beat me and allowed his brother things. When I was sold, it only got worse so I ran to the streets and learned to survive on my own." "God's Artemis...." She shouldn't say she was sorry, that would belittle his experience. Makes what she went through a cake walk. "Bloody hell wait, the guy that beat you wasn't your father?" "No, he was just someone that sold my mother. My blood father was a priest....I killed him, who's to say how many b*****d children they created."

She didn't realize she had stopped walking, her eyes on him as she tries to sort through all of this. "Shor's beard...I can see why you don't talk about it." He glances down before looking at her. It's hard to read the look in his eyes. Then again he's always kind of hard to read. "Please tell me you at least killed the bastards that harmed you.." A slow smile crosses his face. "Tosso got his in the end...and the merchant, kept Belrigger alive, no reason to kill him." He pauses as something crosses his mind. "What happened to the people that captured you?" She glances up as her brows knit slightly. "I'm...hell I have no idea. I can sort of remember the beatings and me being rescued...but I was so young so there's no telling what happened to them." She rubs the back of her head as she tries to remember. But most of it really was a blur. "I don't think they....went that far..." At least she hopes they didn't she really wouldn't know for sure. They both stand there for a moment, she's the one to turn and start walking again. He follows after her, keeping his eyes on the road. After a few minutes of walking, she once again turns her gaze to him. "Do you feel any better?" He scowls, but it doesn't last, his face smooths over quickly. "In a way.." It's a strange thought, like untangling a knot he never really knew that was there. He's not sure what it is, but there's something about her that sort of helps. Also helps she doesn't judge him or make things worse for him. It's not often he finds himself grateful to someone. "Thank you.." She smiles warmly as she holds his shoulder. "Any time my friend."

Returning to Dawnstar is like a breath of fresh air. She's not sure what to expect, but she doesn't expect Cicero to jump out of nowhere and wrap his arms around her tightly. "Cicero was so worried, we were starting to wonder where you ran off to." She chuckles slightly as she enters the Sanctuary. Artemis follows closely behind her. "I stopped by Whiterun some days ago, seems the Crimson River bandits made their way up north." Cicero knows what she's talking about, but the others had no idea. "Bandits that drink Skooma laced with Hist Tree sap.." Nazir drops his glass, even Babette is shocked. "You must be joking..." Babette looks up at her, then again she had to look up to everyone. "I wish I was, there's a reason they are called that. They have a habit of decorating their walls with the blood of their fellow bandits." Nazir just shakes his head, picking up the broken glass. "Now I've heard everything." She gives them a helpless shrug. "We found where they were making the stuff and took care of the problem. I know it's not normally something we deal with. But its a problem that needed to be looked into. I don't think the Night Mother would appreciate it if I didn't take care of the bastards." Babette just lets out a deep sigh. "I hate wasted blood.." Evelyn chuckles at the tiny vampire. "You would have been proud, if they hadn't been completely out of their minds." She turns and makes her way to the Night Mother. Artemis is still unsure how to feel about the corpse. Or the fact the Night Mother had a hand in saving him. Even stranger only Evelyn could hear her voice. "Evelyn told me she killed the Emperor." Nazir turns his eyes to Artemis. "She did, it was a contract we got some time ago. We made a good bit of gold, leaders rise and fall after all."

"Cicero is glad, Titus had it coming for signing the White-Gold Concordat. The man was a fool, and Cicero knows fools." Artemis rises a brow, but he doesn't ask. In his book he doesn't really care. He's just surprised she wasn't joking. After a few minutes Evelyn returns with some notes. She hands it over to Nazir. "Here you go, some new contracts." If the Night Mother was displeased she didn't sound that way. then again it's hard to know what the mood of someone that's dead. Still she's sure the Night Mother would let her know if she ever over stepped her bounds. So far that didn't seem to be the case. As long as she stopped by once in awhile that was good enough. Most of what she wrote down was simple stuff so the others could take care of it. "I'm going to my room and taking a very long HOT bath. If anyone ask, I don't exists." She turns and heads for her room. She just wants a few hours to herself so she could go drown her problems. It's better then getting drunk out of her mind, but a strong glass of whisky sounds wonderful right about now. It's been one of those days. Once in her room she undresses and gets her wooden tub full of water. All she has to do is use her magic to warm up the water and sinks into the tub. It's pure bliss as her muscles start to relax. Everything washes away as she leans her head back and closes her eyes. She should do this more often.