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Old 06-15-2017, 11:14 AM
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An Elder Scrolls fanfiction by Ruke

This shall be the start of many stories to come, hopefully. These short works will be based off the elder scrolls universe created by Bethesda, a game company famous for games like Fallout and Morrowind. For all intents and purposes, this is a fanfiction, a collection of stories that will follow the exploits and adventures of many characters.

Feel free to leave a comment after each post. Both critical and positive comments are welcome but know that I am writing this stuff for fun, not for the intent of publishing. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you enjoy the short story!

-Ruke

-----

He who favors the honey


The sound of a quill scratching ink onto paper, the flickering dance of a lone flame upon wax, the distant sound of a howling wind just outside, this is the ambiance of silent night's work. The candle is one of few sources of illumination in this small den of earth and stone. The furniture is sparse, but so is the room available to the man sitting at his worktable.

"One dram of Caraway, Dill, Ginseng, Rare Earth. One fluid ounce of water." He says out loud what he writes, so as to ingrain the information into this head for future remembrance. The man's handwriting is neat, but small, a fine cursive that few without learning can manage. It was the small details such as this that got Lawrence far, for his clientele respected such qualities.

After recording the items on a long sheet of parchment, he sets the unfurled scroll aside to let the ink dry. Lawrence then gets up and carefully brings over his tools. Today, he just needed the use of his weights and mortar and pestle. Throwing the three drams of ingredients into the mortar, he began grinding the contents into a fine powder. This takes but only a few minutes of his time, his hands trained to handle such routine motions without much thought. Setting the powder onto the scales for measurement, it turns out to be the exact amount he needed for the aphrodisiac.

With a brief nod of his head, he gathers the powder and drops it into the small vial he had prepared in advance. Mixing it well with the water, he lets the mixture settle then places a cork for sealed protection. Holding the vial up to candlelight, he swirls the liquid inside a few times to check for any inconsistencies. Lawrence is a man leaves nothing to chance. He always double-checks his work, even if it's something he's mixed countless times before for all it would take is one customer's complaint to stain his reputation in the higher circles of society.

"... and now for the finishing touch." Lawrence's hand glows a soft white, something he must always do to ensure the ingredients inside perform as they should. For what is alchemy if there is no magic involved? The liquid inside the vial changes color after the soft white glow envelopes it, a dark purple now a cherry tree pink, and now left on the lower portion of the vial, a magically embedded emblem of intricate design, Lawrence's trademark.

"The aphrodisiac is complete. Lady Arcadia will be quite pleased with this, I believe. Now to transport it by the scheduled time."

Lawrence Whight is a well-renowned alchemist who travels the many lands of Nirn, offering his alchemical services to those who need and can afford such. Known for his meticulous nature and attention to detail, his works are always of high quality, his appointments always kept, barring any unfortunate events that may occur outside of his control. Lawrence's elixirs, potions, and salve are sought after by all: the farmhands of rural villages, wealthy nobles of great cities, and of course the many adventurers and risk-takers found everywhere in between.

Having finished the last of his work for the day, he starts to put away his equipment, tools, and ingredients. Rolling his inventory list up, he stores the scroll within a case and inserts it into a pocket within the wall of earth and stone. If the room were big enough, he would store a bed in here, but alas, it is not. Tucking the chair underneath his work table, he pinches the flames upon the candles and shakes his hand from the minor burn, another practiced motion, his fingertips well callused to show.

His workspace cleared, and the candles put out, he straightens his clothing and proceeds to the wooden door, the last distinct feature of this small room. Stepping outside into the grassy plains of Skyrim, Lawrence takes in the clean mountain air with a deep breath and then exhales with a smile. Turning around to face a giant boulder, he squats down and places his hands underneath the door. He then slowly raises the bottom of the door up and starts to fold it. He folds the door a few more times until it is the size of a book, and then pulls it off of the boulder, placing it into his pack. The boulder is now just as he found it a day ago, no scratches, no holes, just a smooth stone surface. Lawrence mentally gives thanks to his old friend at the college for such an incredible tool. Having connections in high places sometimes pays off nicely, and not just in gold.

Double checking to make sure all of his gear is accounted for, Lawrence then sets out towards a small hamlet, not far from his current location. Back on the road, he follows a sign post directing him to Rorikstead. He knows the people there to be friendly enough, tolerant of travelers such as himself, and the only thing he had to keep an eye out for in these parts is the occasional skeever rat.

The divines saw fit to give Lawrence a boon of luck for the day, for not a single skeever scampered his way. What he encountered instead was something of a surprise. A young lady rushes towards him with her dress held in one hand and a basket of flowers in another. She stumbles a bit, having lost her footing. Fortunately, Lawrence was already making his way over to her with similar haste and catches her fall.

"By the eight! What is wrong young one? Are you being chased?" Lawrence quickly darts his head to the side and reaches for his concealed dagger, but the young lady shakes her head and corrects him.

"No, sir! I am fine, but someone I know is not. I saw you exit that boulder over yonder," she points, " and I can only guess that you know magic. Can you help us?"

Relieved that the young lady was not in immediate danger, Lawrence softens his tense stance and takes his hand off of the hilt of his dagger, but hearing her words, he can tell that this was no time to relax.

"Lead the way," Lawrence says to her. "Though I am not a mage as you think it, I can help, of that I am sure!"

Encouraged by his words, the young lady rushes back to where she came, Rorikstead.




A farmer of middle age, most likely her father, Lawrence observes, lays in bed, struck immobile by a terrible injury to both of his legs. From what he could gather, this occurred recently, an accident out in the fields. Now, Lawrence is no healer, he cannot lay hands and magically bring life back to crippled limbs like these, but he is a man of his word. He told the young lady he could help, and will. As an alchemist, he has the means to mix an elixir and perform magics of his own.

Brought to Rorikstead's mayor, Rorik, Lawrence makes his intentions clear. "I was brought here by one of your people to help aid a man with great leg injuries. I know not the standard practices of healing magic, but I do know how to make potions that can do such. May I work my craft here to help this man?"

Rorik nods his head in response. "It is good you arrived then. Our healer left for Whiterun some time ago on important business. If you can help one of my people, I am sure that they will reward you somehow, a form of payment for your services, sir....?"

"Whight, Lawrence Whight."

"Then you have my blessings in this endeavor. There should be enough room at the Frost Fruit Inn for your craft. I shall let Mralki know of your coming, and have him accommodate any requests."

The mayor remembers who Lawrence is. Though it has been many months since his last visit, apparently the impression he left was good enough. With a gracious smile, Lawrence bows and gives thanks to the mayor. The alchemist, then, does not waste any more time and proceeds towards the inn to set up his various apparatuses.

Mralki, just as Rorik stated, was most helpful during the setup, saving him valuable time in the long run. Though the farmer's legs were not going to get any worse, Lawrence paid heed to the clock in his mind, the appointment he had to keep in Whiterun. He knew that the potion to be crafted was going to take the greater part of the day to make. Lawrence also knew that the materials going into this were going to be costly. He silently prayed to the divines that the small farming hamlet had something to properly compensate him for his time and resources spent.

Lawrence was a good person by nature, having the habit of helping others when opportune. Today, he happened to be nearby, and he had the materials needed on hand. He is an alchemist though, and he does not perform his craft for free. Though he is providing a great and noble service to a farmer of Rorikstead, Lawrence does still expect compensation in the end.

Rattling off the ingredients he needed out loud, the cost of this venture quickly became apparent to those around him, and some who were watching started to shuffle nervously.

"Mralki, the ingredients I need are found in that container of there. Please fetch me the Troll's Blood, Sulfur, Garnet, that patch of dirt and some of the water I have stored away over there... yes, that one. Thank you. I'm also going to need a clove of Garlic, some Juniper Berries, a Luna Moth Wing, and a Barnacle."

Looking up towards everyone, after all the ingredients were gathered, Lawrence explains that mixing this particular potion will take a good eight hours, barring any interruptions, and with that, the alchemist began his work in earnest.

"... one karat of garnet, finely ground. Mix with rare earth, a dram's worth." He measures everything with pinpoint accuracy, using a special measuring stick to achieve a perfect balance on his weights. "...mix with pure water, subject to a fire of ten wyrms." A miniature furnace, magically prepared for his work, acts as a bunsen burner to help mold the base alchemical solution for his potion. Lawrence wipes some sweat from his face, a natural response being so close to the furnace, but does not let any get onto his work, careful as he is.

This continues as such for the next few hours as Lawrence prepares the other ingredients in a similar fashion.
Pulverizing things deftly in a mortar, taking quick measurements on the scales, mixing various quantities together in formulaic patterns, subjecting things to a fire stronger than ten dragons' breaths for just the right amount of time, calcinating, distilling and then fermenting the final product into a liquid to be ingested later, the whole process seems fantastical in itself, to the uneducated eye, but to Lawrence, this is just routine. It has to be, his reputation was on the line after all.

After eight hours pass, everyone gathers for the finishing touches. The flask in hand glows a soft white and the intricate design is engraved into the glass. The potion of regeneration starts to froth and bubble as if it has a life of its own now. Perhaps it does. With a smile, Lawrence tells the others that he is ready to administer the potion.

Brought to the bed-ridden farmer, Lawrence pulls back the covers to expose the crippled legs. Farming tools were dangerous in the hands of the untrained, the alchemist could not help but feel as he gazed upon the wounds once more. "The farming life is surely not for me, I'll stick to my solvents and elixirs thank you."

Tucking that thought away in the back of his mind, Lawrence pours the potion over the wounds. The magical effects start to show almost instantaneously: bones sew themselves back together, the flesh becomes whole and the skin stretches and covers the bloody area with ease. Everyone in the room crowded around the man, staring in awe, some in fear of the spectacle before them. It is when the farmer's legs started to jerk and move again that everyone jumped. Well, almost everyone. Lawrence just stood there and smiled.

"My work here is done. He will need to stay rested for a day, but afterward, he can go back to the fields if he so desires."

The room erupts with cheers and shouts of joy. Though the people in this farming hamlet live in a world full of magics and wonders, to see such a thing happen up close is considered a miracle for many. They practically treat Lawrence like a returning hero from some terrible war. But the merriment did not last for long, for those who finished cheering and laughing in relief finally caught a glimpse of the alchemist's now business-like expression. Lawrence was expecting payment.

The nervous shuffling, the diverting of eyes started once more. The people here clearly did not have enough gold to pay for such a powerful potion, and for a moment things became dire again. It was then that the young lady from before approached with a smile. The others looked at her in disbelief. 'Did she have enough coin stashed away somewhere?' Not quite.

Cradled within her hands laid a jar. It was filled with gold, but not of the solid coin that everyone usually associates it with. Inside was a special kind of gold, one that always won Lawrence's heart, a liquid gold. He smiled and raised his eyebrows towards her. "You clever little girl, you. How did you know?"

The young lady laughs and hands the pot over. "Rorik told me that you might find this to your liking. I suppose he was right then?"

Lawrence graciously accepts the pot of liquid gold and then dips his finger into its contents, pulls it back out and sucks on it. "Ah, he is most correct. I shall accept this pot of gold as payment, this pot of sweet, sweet honey!"

The group of farmers then bellowed in a shared laugh, though some did so awkwardly, knowing full well that they just dodged a bullet. The mayor, fully aware of this, continued to sweeten the reward.

"I understand you have another appointment to attend to, one in Whiterun, is that right?" Rorik asks Lawrence.

"Indeed. On foot, I may have reached it in time, but the farmer here took priority and time has now slipped through my hands. I shall have to run if I hope to keep my tardiness short."

"No need," the mayor says with a raised hand. "I have prepared a carriage for you to take to Whiterun. So long as you don't mind sharing it with some vegetables..."

It was Lawrence's turn to laugh. "Not a problem, good sir! The divines are surely smiling down upon me now. What luck!"

-----

And that is that. I hope the flow of the story was easy enough to follow. Unfortunately, since I've been posting written material in a post-like format these past few years, some of that may have shown through in the short story. If that is the case, don't be afraid to say something.

Thanks for reading it to the very end!
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Last edited by Rukellian; 06-15-2017 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 12-17-2018, 10:29 AM
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I enjoyed it! Anything with Elder Scrolls as a foundation.

Shall we hear more of Lawrence someday?
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Old 12-17-2018, 02:36 PM
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I'm glad you enjoyed that short story! It is always nice to hear from a reader, and since you asked, I shall respond. I will craft another story following the adventures of Lawrence and those he meets. I cannot promise you a set time that it will be completed, but it WILL come. Now that I know that someone is waiting for another story, I shall endeavor not to disappoint.

You can expect to see it come up within the month or early January, if my current motivation and inspiration hold up, both being quite fickle moods I'm afraid to admit.
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Last edited by Rukellian; 12-17-2018 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 02-25-2019, 05:22 AM
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The next chapter of this short story series is turning out to be a lot longer than I anticipated. I will have to break it down into multiple parts and make sure that each part could be a story of its own. The planning process is nearly done, I just need to start actually typing it out now and submit the portions to an editor.

I have not forgotten! Rest assured. I just want to make sure that I'm giving my best here. So as to avoid breaking any more light promises, I cannot and will not give a timeframe for when it will be finished. Though, I think it is safe to say that you can expect it sometime this year? I'm not that lazy
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Old 04-20-2019, 10:45 PM
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Hey, just gave this a quick read. Good stuff! I hope work on the subsequent pieces is going smoothly.
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Old 04-21-2019, 08:37 AM
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Thank you for taking the time to read it. As for the current status on the subsequent stories that follow... not going as smoothly.

A lot of my work is usually done in my head before I even start typing but with this story, in particular, I find myself being a bit too critical on how things would be laid out and written. I'm still trying to get a good grasp on normal dialogue sequences between people and finding a healthy balance between that dialogue, internal thought, and third-person narration to bring everything to a cohesive and smooth whole. More often than not, when I start writing things down, the sequences depicted appear fragmented, choppy. Something is always missing that doesn't make it look right. I'm a semi-perfectionist in that sense and do not like settling for less.

So, yeah... it's taking me a lot longer than I thought in churning out that second story. I suppose the reason why I was able to create the first one was that I wasn't as critical about my work then, as I am now.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:39 PM
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I definitely understand that, but it's also important to remember that the hardest part is getting everything down in the first place. I usually find it's best to just type exactly what I'm thinking and force myself not to proofread until it's also out.
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Old 08-30-2019, 08:08 AM
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I'm definitely a Skyrim fan and I really enjoyed your story! But I notice that it is some time since you first posted it. I was wondering how the project is progressing.

I hope we can see more from this character!
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:15 AM
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Here is what I have so far for the sequel. It's not to my current standards right now, but I guess I've kept enough people waiting for... something, anything really. I've been in a creative writing mood for the past couple of months now, so chances are good I will pick up on this again when I have the time. Until then, enjoy the first part of Chapter 2.

Eyes that shined like fire
Part 1

It was a bad batch and Lawrence was never one to be athletic, even when it counted the most. With Meoki’s thugs just seconds away from thrusting a sword into his back, the young alchemist’s chances in getting away dwindled with each passing moment. His lungs were on fire and his legs were about to give out, of this he was sure. The forest path he took, much to his misfortune, was fraught with large tree roots and treacherous shrubberies that seemed to jump at the chance to snatch at his ankles. One wrong leap or step and he could kiss his brief life goodbye.

Of course, he wasn’t really paying attention to the ground when stumbling through the darkness of the forest, no, his attention was instead split between the pursuers breathing down his neck and the constant barrage of tree branches smacking into his face as he plowed on through. For a brief moment between panicked breaths and a thundering heart, his mind took a brief respite, only a second, less than a second, and imagined that his pursuers were also getting smacked in the face with branches as they followed him. This brought out an unexpected laugh from Lawrence, which only seemed to infuriate Meoki’s thugs even further.

"Great… just what I needed. Now my death will be a slow and torturous one!"

It was a bad batch and Lawrence regretted every moment of it. Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way, he thought to himself between ragged breaths. He was striving to be an alchemist, one of the best too. Like the great practitioners of old, he sought lessons from the Mages Guild and from nature itself. Though he was lacking in magical aptitude at the time, his experience in the field of botany and resource gathering gave him an edge in his studies. Confident of his textbook knowledge in various flora and fauna, Lawrence sped through his early alchemical lessons, even skipping steps that he thought were not needed, or taking shortcuts where he thought it would help.

It was a bad batch and he was… dead! Stumbling over something on the ground, Lawrence loses his footing and falls face-first into the ground. "So this is where it ends?" His frantic thoughts piece together one last message. The alchemist’s life flashes before his eyes within milliseconds and reviews his life’s adventure as if through the eyes of a bystander. Certainly, the blade should have come by now, so why wasn’t Lawrence dead yet?

Confused within this surreal state of knowing that death was just a step away, he is yanked out of the mental daze, quite literally. Within the corner of his eyes, Lawrence notices an arm shoot out of nowhere and pull him to the side before he even reaches the ground. A hand quickly covers his mouth and tightens.

Though this only lasted for a few seconds as Meoki’s thugs thundered past him, his thundering heart and high level of adrenaline made the moment feel like an eternity. "What…. Just happened?" After a minute or so passes, the arm that grabbed him releases its grip and is followed by a raspy whisper.

“This one cannot believe your stupid luck! You would have been dead if not for your incessant shrieking echoing through the forest.” Lawrence turns around quickly and instantly recognizes his rescuer. It was none other than the S’rri, the friendly Khajiit merchant that sold him some alchemy ingredients just a few days ago!

“Come, the trail is still warm and Meoki’s dogs will backtrack and sniff your fear out. Follow this one if you want to live to see tomorrow.”

Gulping slowly, and nodding his head, Lawrence followed her advice, a nervous smile now forming on his face. The eight must have surely been watching over him today. His prayers had been answered, but… S’rri? She was supposed to have already set up shop in Anvil by now. Why was she in the cold forests of the north bordering Skyrim?

Turning her head to make sure Lawrence was keeping up with her graceful movements through the forest, she shares a smile that seems to suggest she knew what he was thinking.

"Lawrence wasn’t done paying off his debt."

Waking up suddenly from a jostle of the cart, he rubs his eyes and looks up to early dusk. The cabbage shipment from Rorikstead was making good time, which meant that he would be in Whiterun before nightfall. Checking to make sure his belongings were still with him, Lawrence stretches and looks out into the distance.

A few tents could be seen pitched, just over the outer walls of Whiterun’s stables. The smells of spices and exotic wares could be detected all the way from the Western Watchtower. Lawrence couldn’t help but smile. Ri’saad’s caravan was stationed here for the day, which meant he could catch up on the latest news from abroad before heading inside the city’s gates.

Looking up into the brilliant orange and red sky, the alchemist guessed that he had an hour or so before he would have to find a room for the night and finish his delivery. Plenty of time.

*to be continued*
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Old 10-02-2019, 08:48 PM
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This was entertaining to read and the end wasn't expected (even though the title of the short story should prove me wrong). Thank you so much for writing this and keep them coming if you please!
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Old 03-05-2020, 09:23 AM
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--A continuation of Eyes That Shined Like Fire--

Lawrence had come to learn over the years of his travels across Nirn that meeting a Khajiit caravan was always a stroke of good luck. Though his contemporaries may shun the catfolk on the basis of past dealings with feline criminal elements, the young alchemist learned early on that the actions of a few should not represent the character of a people. More often than not, he found good company amongst the traveling merchants, and over time he established a good rapport with them as well, often trading information and goods at fair prices.

Approaching Ri’saad’s caravan, the smell of exotic goods and spices grew stronger, permeating the air with the promise of luxury, if you had the coin.... the Khajiit often transported goods from faraway lands like the Summerset Isles, the great forests of Valenwood, and even their homeland of Elswyr. Today, Lawrence picked up on the smell of pungent cheese, sweet fruits, strong spices, and…. ’what was this’? Sniffing with greater intensity, he broke into a smile as he approached the main tent and took a seat on the guest’s mat.

“Greetings to you, honored friend! This one was wondering when you would stop by next.” The alchemist returned the gracious smile offered to him, nodding his head in proper greeting. Ri’saad always treated his guests with great respect. As he put it, ‘a happy visitor is often a happy customer.’ Among the various trade caravans in Skyrim, Ri’saad commands the most respect and is considered the head of the Khajiit trading operations here. Everyone deferred to him when establishing new routes, suppliers, and side business deals. It was only proper that Lawrence showed him that same level of heed, considering most of his more hard-to-find alchemical ingredients often came from the traveling caravans.

“The honor is mine,” Lawrence responds. “Today, I bring news from the west and the silk weave that you requested, and if I may inquire about that exquisite smell?” Ri’saad simply nods in turn with a smile and stands, gesturing for the alchemist to enter the tent. To the common traveler, if one did business with the Khajiit at all, most transactions took place outside the main trading tent. Lawrence, however, earned Ri’saad’s trust through past jobs well done and personal favors met. He was allowed to enter the tent.

Pulling out his pocket door, Lawrence finds a suitable spot to unfold an entrance into his private abode, well, office to be more precise. A small gathering of Khajiit watches the spectacle of magic unfold with great interest. Some of them were old hats and were familiar with seeing such things on the job, but there was always a new face or two, a changing of guards when traveling between countries or after hitting certain contractual milestones. Showing them this marvel of magic never grew old on Lawrence, happy to bring a little bit of excitement to their nomadic merchant lifestyle in the harsh reaches of the north.

But after everything was said and done, only Ri’saad and his quartermaster were allowed to initially follow Lawrence into his pocket abode. The small room could only fit so many after all and furnishings were sparse. Once inside, Lawrence is quick to start lighting some candles and arrange some seats for his two guests. Though the room was comprised mostly of stone and packed dirt, Lawrence kept around a few comforts for situations such as this. Pulling out a pillow and a recently cleaned animal hide, he lays them out on a couple of crates he keeps for storage.

This was no Blue Palace, but Ri’saad was pleased all the same for the hospitality. After a period of silence, waiting for things to be set up, he speaks his mind. “Mr. Whight, your arrival comes at a most opportune time. Khajiit has news from the Rift and from the Imperial City.” The quartermaster currently standing in attendance produces a sealed scroll for Lawrence’s perusal.

“The fungal ecological reports from Riften were just completed a few days ago. This one was trusted with delivering them to you,” Ri’saad continues. “Khajiit were told that the weather patterns would hold for the next few moons.”

Lawrence graciously nods, accepting the scroll and pays the usual fee for long-distance delivery. “And the news from Cyrodiil?”

The quartermaster produces an envelope, also sealed, but with a signature symbol used by an old friend. ”S’rri…” Lawrence reaches for his coin purse again but Ri’saad raises his hand up and shakes his head no.

“Letters from friends and family is not business.”

Thankful for his kind gesture, the young alchemist nods with a smile, promising himself to read the message tonight. Though it had been many years since his time spent in the southern countries of Nirn, the fact that he was still regarded as a friend by someone like S’rri, and was even sent a message through the caravan channels, it served as a reminder that he was on the right path, that his actions in Cyrodiil were just.

Feeling it was time to do the same, Lawrence speaks of his current field report of the Reach. “Forsworn activity has picked up as of recently, centralized around the silver mines to the north of Markarth.” Ri’saad nods slowly and strokes his long whiskers in thought. “The Jarl of the Reach has issued a travel warning to those visiting his hold, but that if some of his mines were cleared of the Forsworn nuisance he would be willing to arrange a business deal between the Silver Blood Family and those who proved helpful in this regard.”

“This one shall send word to those posted in the Reach to be on their guard. This one gives thanks for the warning.”

“You put in a request for some silk weave to be made. I have the bundle completed and with me right now if you wish to inspect it.”

Ri’saad smiles and nods. “From the glands of a Frostbite Spider, yes?”

“Indeed,” Lawrence replies as he accesses a hidden compartment within the stone wall behind him. Producing a silk weave of quality craftsmanship, he spreads it out on his desk and offers Ri’saad a magnifying glass. “This would be the work of a master seamstress that I encountered during a stay in Solitude. Taarie of the Radiant Raiment, her talent with the needle is unparalleled in all of Skyrim, as I’m sure the quality of the weave should speak for itself.”

After giving it a thorough inspection, the Khajiit concurs with Lawrence’s assessment and asks the quartermaster to record this transaction. A purse of coin is provided to the alchemist. “500 for the commission, 100 for its safe delivery.”

“Done,” Lawrence confirms his payment with a professional nod. Carefully wrapping up the silk weave, the Khajiit quietly transport it to the main tent stores. “If I could get a portion of that in garnet stones, it would be most appreciated,” Lawrence adds after remembering his previous ingredient expenditures.

Ri’saad simply nods. “Will there be anything that our honored guest would like to purchase?”

Pulling out a journal full of inventory listings for his alchemical supplies, Lawrence quickly reviews his stocks. Most of it could be replenished in the field or bought cheaply in bulk. He estimates that the current supply would last for a good few months if he was careful with whom he did business with; however, there was one item that suddenly begged for his attention. Lawrence just recently used up the last of his Troll’s Blood. A rare commodity to come by, it wasn’t likely that the Khajiit, resourceful as they are, would have any on hand right now, especially on such short notice. Still, he had to ask.

“Troll’s Blood? Even a diluted solution would be worth the coin.”

Ri’saad shakes his head no, knowing without even checking with the quartermaster that they did not have any. “This one apologizes. Khajiit has not been fortunate enough to come across a ready supply, but this one can point you towards a troll den. The caravans take extra precautions to avoid the trolls near the Southern Brittleshin Pass. Surely one can still be found there.”

“I see,” Lawrence muses as he rubs his own set of whiskers found squarely on his chin. “A dangerous acquisition to be sure, but with all great promises of wealth it is not without an equally appropriate risk.”

Ri’saad cracks a smile, nodding at the wisdom behind the words.

The smell from earlier suddenly registers again in Lawrence’s mind. ‘There it is again, that rich, savory smell…’ As if picking up on this cue, Ri’saad whistles to one of the Khajiit outside. After a brief exchange between the two, the Khajiit who entered leaves and returns with two items: a small satchel filled with something and a glass jar containing the small branches of some sort of fruit.

“For Khajiit’s honored guest, luxury from the southern lands of Nirn. This one would like to extend to you the privilege of purchasing it at a low price… an investment for future business you understand.”

The conversation that followed thereafter proved to be quite an interesting topic for Lawrence. Having a fine appreciation for the complexities and processes behind cooking of food and brewing of drinks, parallels were made between the culinary fields and the alchemical as Ri’saad explained the properties and significance behind the fruits and its processed beans.

The coffea cherries, as they were called, proved to be a popular trade item amongst many reputable merchant circles in the southern kingdoms, often elevated to the same importance that spices and precious metals commanded. Toted as a natural stimulant, this coffea product could be cultivated in many different climates, promising a unique flavor specific to the region it is grown in. It’s rich and robust smell often translates into an equally palatable taste. Coffea drinks were popular amongst the noblemen and royalty of Cyrodiil, Ri’saad claims, and the more that Lawrence learned of this plant and its fruit, the more eager he was to buy a small supply of this from the caravan.

“This is an incredible opportunity that you are granting me, but I cannot help but wonder… why hasn’t such a popular luxury crop item found its way to the northern lands of Skyrim?”

Ri’saad’s response was prompt, prepared even. “The Black Briar Family. They hold a monopoly on the ale business here in Skyrim. To see a new beverage option present itself on the market, and not be one of their own, would be seen as a threat to their control in this country.”

“But surely an influential and innovative person such as Maven Black Briar would see the economic value of taking on this new crop and add it to their business? What is preventing this from happening?”

Ri’saad shakes his head and sighs. “This one has tried to extend a business offer to the family, but they would have nothing to do with the Khajiit. But through the mouth of an influential alchemist, they might start listening to reason.”

“One mountain to climb at a time,” Lawrence laughs. “First I need to make sure my losses are recouped.”

Finishing the exchange of goods, information, and coin, Lawrence and Ri’saad bid each other farewell and safe travels, promising the Khajiit that he would keep them informed of anything of importance while in this region, so should he happen to overhear it.

“And may you walk on warms sands, always.”

---

Finding that there were still precious few moments of daylight left, Lawrence made haste to the alchemy shop in Whiterun’s market center, Arcadia’s Cauldron. With any luck, he would reach the shop in time and finish his delivery of the requested aphrodisiac before night truly fell upon the sky. The guards posted at the front gates of the city recognize his face and simply nod as the alchemist passes on through. The streets of Whiterun, normally bustling with activity during the day, saw little foot traffic with the coming of the night. Shop doors were being closed for the day and many of the city’s residents were following through on their evening plans.

Entering Arcadia’s establishment, Lawrence noticed that she was currently tending to a customer. Arcadia looks up and beams a smile when she sees Lawrence’s face. Nodding to him once, she returns to her sales pitch.

"I offer remedies for ailments both common and rare. Do let me know if I can be of service."

The hooded figure stirring restlessly among the front shelves of the shop counter did not offer a reply, not even a peep. Arcadia, who has been patient with the silent individual thus far, starts to fold her arms and peers out the window of her shop to one of the city guards nearby. It soon became apparent to Lawrence that the person in the hooded cloak has not purchased anything yet and decides to keep his distance, just in case Arcadia actually lost her patience.

“If it’s a throat based malady that is affecting your voice, I have something for that too,” she offers with a little less honey in her voice.

Lawrence looks expectantly at the hooded figure, then at Arcadia, switching between the two with each blink of his eyes. It was rare to see Arcadia this upset over… anything really. Maybe it was because he always chose his topics of conversation carefully around people. Still, he began to fear for the individual in front of the counter. A run-in with the guards was not a fun experience, or so he was told.

Fortunately for all involved, the hooded individual left of their own accord, but not before stealing a glance at Lawrence in passing. Though it was only for a fleeting moment, Lawrence’s heart skipped a beat as his gaze connected with the stranger’s. Her eyes radiated a dazzling hue of gold and yellow, like that of a wild animal, or staring into a beautiful fire. They seemed to look straight into him, and for a moment he even forgot to breathe.

‘Where have I seen those eyes before?’ he could not help but think to himself. That vague sense of familiarity would not let go of him, even as he slowly approached the front counter, his gaze still on the door swinging shut.

“She was a strange one, and a shady character if I ever saw one. I’m glad she didn’t try anything,” Arcadia says as she watches the front entrance as well, arms still folded. Cracking a smile, she looks at Lawrence and raps the counter with her fingertips a few times. “You’re cutting it close. What happened?”

Lawrence is considered a professional in his line of work, having built up a reputation for producing quality goods and delivering them on time. Never one to miss an appointment or delivery for a client, he was certainly cutting this one close.

“There was a bit of a farming mishap in Rorikstead, one that I lent my services to help remedy. My apologies for almost missing the deadline, but you know me, I’m not one to turn down honest work, especially if it means doing some good for others.”

Opening up his side traveling satchel, the alchemist pulls out the prepared aphrodisiac that Arcadia requested, still in very good condition too. “The potion component made to your specifications,” he hands it over with both hands, careful not to drop the precious contents.

“Ah, that does sound like you,” Arcadia replies with an outstretched hand. Inspecting the vial of vibrant pink liquid, her face lights up with joy. “Splendid! Just splendid Mr. Wright! This is exactly what I asked for. And recently made too, very good.” She nods.

Producing a key from one of her apron pockets, the shop owner crouches down and unlocks what Lawrence can only assume to be a lockbox of some sort. In short order, a bag of coin is produced, his payment for services provided. As was customary with business arrangements like these, Arcadia closed up the shop and led Lawrence to a back room where the counting of large payments could be done privately and safely. It didn’t take long for Lawrence to do his counting. He trusted Arcadia enough to not cheat him of his due payment, having done business with her in the past.

“Pleasure to do business with you Arcadia. For what it’s worth, I hope your plant works out. Any man would be lucky to catch your affections. Some just need a little help to realize that,” he laughs. Arcadia, too, joins in the laughter, ribbing him along the way with her elbow.

“Thanks.”

Though Arcadia was definitely not his type of woman, paying her a few compliments now would surely help pave the way for future business. Hoping to catch her while she was still in a good mood, Lawrence made sure to cover all of his options before taking it to the quest board for help. “You wouldn’t happen to have any Troll Blood stored away, would you? I was hoping to replenish my supply before heading out into the Rift.”

“No, sorry dear. I stopped carrying exotic goods a while back. There wasn’t enough coin in it at the time, to make it worthwhile. Sorry!” Smiling sympathetically, she shrugs and offers a ‘you know how it is’ expression.

“Right, well, worth a shot, right?” He smiles. “You take care of yourself then, farewell and such.”

“Farewell, Mr. Whight.”

---

Having completed his job here in Whiterun, Lawrence allows himself a deep exhale as he exits the shop and takes in the crisp night air. A great burden was lifted from his shoulders and he could now relax for a time before his next commission. The telltale sounds of merriment could be heard a few steps away. The Bannered Mare had a decent crowd tonight, Lawrence could tell. With his stomach rumbling in protest, it was decided, he would lodge a room for the night and sit down to a proper meal. Goodness knows he hasn’t been eating as well as he should. Being on the road often meant packing lightly; he did not have the luxury of cold storage in his pocket abode either, often resorting to dry rations. Tonight though, he would splurge.

The open-pit hearth roared with a well-tended fire, keeping the large expansive gathering hall illuminated and warm, a welcome greeting for travelers such as Lawrence on cold nights such as this. Making his way to a wooden table nestled in a far off corner, he waves to the tavern owner, signaling he would like a meal. She notices this and calls out to the server in the room, “Sadia, dear, please tend to our new guest.”

“Yes mum,” she replies promptly, poking her head out of a nearby kitchen. Balancing a large tray of silver goblets, on one hand, Sadia makes her way over to the Lawrence and dispenses with a standard greeting. “Welcome to the Bannered Mare. Are you thirsty, hungry, both?”

“A pint of Honningbrew Mead and some honey-glazed rabbit bits please.”

Sadia just raises an eyebrow and replies with a tired, “certainly. Your meal will be ready in but a moment.”

Stretching his legs out, Lawrence leans back in this seat and watches the lively scene taking place for all to see and hear. A bard was playing a merry tune on his lute and sang a song of glorious years past, tales of epic battles and heroes of old. A crowd gathered around this musical man and danced with mugs of beer waving in the air. It was almost as if the whole tavern was here celebrating a hard day’s work; perhaps they were!

Waiting for his meal to arrive, Lawrence continued to watch for a time, at least until he noticed something peculiar. A hooded figure sat alone on a bench near the pit. Not that this was strange in itself, plenty of people kept to themselves in social settings, but this one individual decided to watch not the bard, or the party-goers, but Lawrence. Suddenly on guard, he pulls his legs back in and starts to grow tense. The hooded figure, without even offering an introduction, sits right across from him at his table…

Before he could even raise his voice, let alone a finger, in protest, the stranger pulled the cloak off and revealed a cascade of soft brown hair, hair that tumbled down a set of decidedly feminine shoulders. How did he know it was soft? Lawrence could tell instantly from a glance that the hair was washed and kept with care, little to no sign of split ends and or streaks of dirt. The quality of her hair was striking, considering the disparity of hygiene practices between the economic classes of Nirn. Most normal folk didn’t have time to focus on such details.

But what really caught his attention was the stranger’s eyes. She had eyes that shimmered a warm gold, almost like he was staring into a fire. The same eyes from the alchemy shop followed him to the Bannered Mare.

Temporarily spellbound by the stranger’s mysterious beauty, Lawrence’s attention is pulled back when Sadia returns with his meal. Reaching for his coin purse, the stranger beats him to the chase and produces a few coins of her own as she proceeds to pay for his meal. With a sultry smile, she leans forward, resting her chin on her hands. Laughing, she breaks her silence. “I’ve been looking for you Mr. Whight. Your reputation as an alchemist of high caliber precedes you. And when I heard you were to be in Whiterun, I knew just where I could find you.”

This wasn’t the first time his services were sought out in this manner, but being bought a meal? That was new. Offering a smile of his own, Lawrence tries to figure out how she could have known of his itinerary, and more importantly, why she was here at his table. But asking the former might prove too dangerous at this time, so he stuck to the safe latter as he began to cut into his food. “Yes, I am an alchemist, and may I say it is quite a surprise to have a pretty stranger such as yourself pay for my meal. To whom do I owe thanks and how can I help you?”

Not wanting to scare off a potential customer, Lawrence remains polite and respectful to the young-looking… elf? It took a moment for him to come to the conclusion that something was off. The person before him looked human enough, but the slight slant of her eyes, the ears poking just out of her long hair like floppy triangles, it suggested that she may have been born of two races. That and there was something else tugging at the back of his mind. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he had met this individual before, and not just a few minutes ago at the shop. No, back when he was still in Cyrodiil. But when, where?

“Mei,” she beams, “just Mei. Arcadia didn’t have what I was looking for, I could tell without even having to ask, but you…” Mei started to twirl her hair around one of her fingers and props her chest up with her other arm. She was clearly trying to get Lawrence to look at her flirtatious display, and maybe it was working a little bit, but he knew better than to let his guard down so easily. Lawrence maintained eye contact.

“Yes?” he asks with some level of feigned indifference as he continued to eat his meal.

“I’ve heard that you are one of the most resourceful alchemists around and that you are willing to help anyone in need.” Mei maintained the not-so-subtle attempt of using her womanly assets, fluttering her eyelashes for added effect. And apparently she thought she could also win Lawrence over with flattery too. Had he started with his mead, it might have worked. ‘Might’. But he didn’t, so he saw this act for what it was. He called her out on this.

“Your words are very flattering and, yes, I do think you look very attractive, Mei, but my prices will remain firm and I can still deny your request if I believe you are up to no good. If you’ve heard of me, then you must surely know that I stick to higher standards when doing business.”

Clicking her teeth in disappointment, Mei crosses her arms, still heaving her chest out, and smiles with narrowed eyes. She looked even cuter upset, but Lawrence kept this observation to himself. “You are an honest man and I respect the integrity you are trying to uphold. No tricks, promise. I’m a hunter and I use potions from time to time. You can never have too many healing potions and a cure disease tonic that doesn’t leave a funny feeling in the mouth is hard to come by, but what I really want is an invisibility elixir. Surely you have something like that or can make it for me? I have the coin.” She produces a large pouch of it and drops it on the table. This draws a few stares in her direction.

Lawrence finishes chewing his rabbit bits, sets his eating utensils down and dabs his mouth with a cloth napkin. With a slight exhale he folds his hands and looks Mei straight in the eyes, ignoring the purse full of gold in front of him. “I can supply you with healing potions, even a cure disease tonic, but the invisibility elixir is off the table.”

“Why?” she slams her hands onto the table in protest.

“Invisibility is a tool for thieves and murderers. I don’t know you or your intentions behind seeking such an elixir. And so, I can’t trust you with one. Hunters shouldn’t rely on magic to get the jump on their prey anyway, right?”

Mei continues to pout and furrows her brows together. “I don’t need it for hunting, okay? You’re right. I can get the drop on any animal or monster that comes my way, but my problem isn’t animals or monsters, its people. Bandits are a problem these days.”

Lawrence relaxes his stance and softens his firm stare. It suddenly made sense. That ‘would’ be a legitimate use for invisibility, to get past highwaymen and thugs that would try to steal everything off of you through force.

With a reluctant sigh, the alchemist raises his hands up in defeat and smiles. She convinced him. “Okay, I can make you the elixir you are after, but I will need a day for its creation. Come back here by the end of tomorrow?”

Mei practically jumps out of her seat in joy when she hears the good news. “Thank you so much for taking on my request! I just knew you would understand my situation.” Mei motions for the waitress, Sadia, to return. “Another mead for this fine man!” she pushes a few more coins forward, apparently quite easygoing with her spending, much to Lawrence’s surprise.

Not one to turn down such generosity, the alchemist allowed himself the dinner side company of Mei. Tonight was a night of relaxation and celebration for work well done, so why couldn’t he have a pleasant conversation with an equally pleasant-looking lady? And so he drank, she talked and the minutes turned to a couple of hours. Turns out, Mei was quite the accomplished hunter and had many tales to share, if you could believe half the words that she spun.

“A whole pack of horkers with only one arrow!? I say you are full of it.”

“Oh but it’s true! Those blubber heavy creatures are so slow and easy to read; I was able to dance around them in circles. A jab there, and here, and before you know it, I was rolling in gold from all that meat and fat. Tusks too!”

Lawrence smiled, laughed, and shook his head in disbelief. He had half the mind to hire her for his troll problem. Then a layer of the mead’s fog lifted and it dawns on him. Why not do just that? This could be an equal exchange in services. He could make a few potions for her and she could help him acquire the Trolls’ Blood that he needed. No coin had to change hands. Before Mei thought about taking off, Lawrence offered his idea to the half-elf.

“Mei, you are an accomplished huntress, of this I have no doubt now. Perhaps you could help me with something. This could make those potions and elixir of yours free if you agree.”

“Hmm?” She smiles with interest as her fiery eyes started to sparkle. Leaning forward as if conspiring with someone, she tucks a few strands of her hair behind one of her pointy ears and gives Lawrence her undivided attention.

“I am in search of a rare alchemical ingredient, Troll’s Blood. Now, anyone with fire magic and a decent blade can take one down, but the regenerative properties of their blood are best preserved when it is taken from a living troll. If you are up to the challenge, I could certainly make use of your excellent skills in hunting to debilitate a troll long enough for me to get what I need. What do you say?”

“I say you are crazy, and I also say that it sounds like a lot of fun.” Reaching over the table she extends her hand to shake on the deal. Lawrence holds hers and seals the deal.

---

The day’s fatigue finally caught up to the alchemist as he headed up the Bannered Mare’s stairs to the room he rented for the night. He had drunk his fill and ate well. Seeing Mei back to her own room, Lawrence was ready to call it a day. Sinking into a soft, clean bed, he savored the moment of luxury that his coin bought him. There weren’t too many opportunities to sleep comfortably when traveling on the road, sometimes for days on end. Again, it wasn’t practical to fit a bed into his private pocket dimension abode, just like how he didn’t have an icebox or many of the other luxuries that homeowner’s or room renters take for granted.

Adjusting the pillows and sheets on his bed, Lawrence lights the oil lamp found on a nightstand nearby and begins to take off his traveling gear. Dressed in simple night time attire, and after having made himself quite comfortable, he pulls out the letter delivered to him by the Khajiit caravan. Breaking the wax seal with a knife, he unfolds the contents within and reads it under the soft glow of the lantern’s light:

Dear Lawrence,

May this message find you in good spirits and within safe walls. This one has much to share, but only so much ink to spare. The places and people of Nirn change over time, this is a fact of life, and this one has been paying attention. There is… a peace in Cyrodiil, but a fragile one at that. S’rri knows you must have heard of the sacking of the Imperial City, the resulting White-Gold Concordat? The invading Aldmeri Dominion elves have given back control of the nation to human hands, but not before setting up a system to keep them in check. This one will not bore you with the details of southern politics, but you should know that trade has picked up again as a result of it.

To this day, the Khajiit, and many others, profit from your brave exploits in the name of the order and keeping the law upheld. You left a good impression on the Imperial Guard when you lead that raid on the Nightshade den in Cheydinhal. The streets are drug-free now, and the Khajiit wishes to thank you once again. This one does too and misses your company. S’rri is sometimes selfish and wants to keep her young Lawrence to herself, but this one knows Mr. Whight is a busy man, a growing alchemist of great import!

Come visit S’rri sometime soon, okay? This one promises a very warm welcome.

P.S.
This one does not like to worry her friends, but Mr. Whight should know that he may be in danger. One of Meoki’s thugs escaped the Nightshade raid. Be careful and watch your back!


Reading the letter from his dear Khajiit friend in Cyrodiil did wonders for Lawrence’s mood. Filled with a mix of nostalgia and warm feelings of his first crush and early years of tutelage, he re-read the letter with a smile, at least until he reached the warning posted at the end. Knowing that one of Meoki’s enforcers may still be after him proved unsettling. He was safe here, but he would need protection when on the road.

Done reading for the night, he folds the letter carefully and sticks it one of his traveling tunic’s pockets. Blowing out the lamp nearby, the alchemist drifts into an uneasy sleep, thoughts of Cyrodiil returning once more…

**to be continued**
__________________
“Remember the lesson, not the disappointment.”
– Holo The Wise Wolf

Last edited by Rukellian; 03-05-2020 at 09:33 AM.
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