Categories > Games > Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion > The Quest For The Ruby Throne: Book One

Chapter 9: Shattered Peace

by karnag_gro_gornish 0 reviews

After an attack on Lyanna's home leaves her nearly dead, Karnag goes out for blood, and finds plenty of it.

Category: Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2019-09-20 - 5102 words - Complete

Chapter Nine: Shattered Peace
The pain was unbearable. Between the cramps and nausea, not to mention the bleeding, I felt as though I was dying. Truth be told, death would have been far more merciful than this. Vilkas made sure that I was well attended to, but there was only so much that he could do to ease the pain. There was no doubt in my mind that the child I have conceived was was rejected by my body and now I must suffer the pangs of failed motherhood. Gods, I wish my mother were here with me to tell me how to handle this pain!
It had been nearly two weeks since Farkas left for Cyrodiil that I lay here in agony, with Vilkas waiting on me hand and foot, trying to nurse me back to health. But there was no use to it, I felt my strength waning with every passing day, and looking back, I am certain that I stayed alive through sheer force of will alone. Lyanna Stone will not go to Sovngarde today, not as long as I have any say in the matter.
That was, until I heard a familiar voice from outside the cabin. “Open up in there!” The voice shouted. I couldn't place it in my diminished state, but I certainly recognized it. Vilkas stood and strapped on his blade. “Who's asking?” He shouted through the door. “You're surrounded, and we'll be asking the questions!” The voice shouted back. Damn me for not thinking to add windows to the preliminary design plan. “You don't sound like an Orc,” the voice started again, “So this is none of your concern. We want Karnag gro-Gornish!”
“Never heard of him!” Vilkas lied, concern creeping over his face. “Please leave me and my sister be!”
“You're lying, werewolf!” The voice replied, “We've seen him here before. Tell us where he is, and we won't torch the place!” Hearing this threat, Vilkas could no longer afford to play dumb, and had to face these people face to face. He drew his sword and kicked down the door. That was when I saw it: I knew where I recognized that face from. It was the same Khajiit mercenary that had ambushed us on the road, and from where I was laying, it did indeed look as if he had many more friends with him this time.
Seeing he was clearly outnumbered, Vilkas did the one thing he knew to do; he took the blade of his sword and slashed his palm, forcing his body to undergo the horrendous metamorphosis into his ultimate form, the servant of Hircine that he kept hidden inside of him. An ear shattering howl pierced the air, and the mercenaries clutched their heads, giving Vilkas an opportunity to strike. He lunged at the Khajiit, but even in his most powerful state, he was still no match for them all at once. Three of the mercenaries were rended by his claws before one of the Khajiit was able to thrust a sword directly through his heart from behind. Vilkas screamed in pain, dropping to his knees.
And all I could do was watch as he died not twenty feet from me, completely helpless. I tried to shout but all that came out was a whimper. I dragged my frail body from bed, and fell to the floor below me with a thud that sent blinding pain through my abdomen. I managed to pull myself along the floor through the doorway and out onto the grass outside, where Vilkas' body, now changed back to his normal human form, lay on the ground. I tried in vain to get him to wake up, but I knew that it was to no avail. The sword pierced clean through his heart, he was dead before his body hit the ground.
The mercenary who struck the killing blow picked up my crying head from Vilkas' chest, held it in his paw, and looked me directly in the eyes, saying, “What do we do with this one?” The mercenary who appeared to be in charge of the rest turned his back and started to walk away, saying, “This one does not care. It looks like she is already dying. Leave this one for the vultures. Burn the house.” I cried and begged with them not to set my home ablaze, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. I watched as two torches soaked in oil were thrown on the straw roof of the house, which caught alight instantly and it was only a matter of minutes before the entire cabin was engulfed in flame. I cried relentlessly, watching my entire life turn into a wisp of smoke, disappearing off in the endless sky. The mercenaries stripped the dead of their gear, and left down the road south.
I don't know how long I cried for, but it was quite a long time. But eventually, I ran out of tears to cry and fell into a stony silence. I wouldn't let this go unanswered. I needed justice. But first, I needed help. I tore a strip of cloth from the undershirt I was wearing and tied Vilkas' arm to mine. I was going to take him to Jorrvaskr if I had to crawl there. And for the most part, that's exactly what I did. It was dark by the time I reached Loreius' farm, I was so incredibly weak that I laid on the ground motionless for some time, before I summoned the strength to crawl to the garden and dig up a couple of raw potatoes for some much-needed energy. By this time I new Loreius well enough to know he wouldn't mind, but I knew that he wasn't home, he hadn't been for days. I would have welcomed the help. It was shortly after that point of desperation that I lost consciousness.
I awoke at the crack of dawn to a wolf licking my face. Not a common mongrel, but a grey forest wolf. When I realized what it was that was licking me, I prepared for its teeth to sink into my neck and end my suffering, but it never came. The wolf cocked it's head to the side, continuing to stare at me. I extended a wavering hand, and the wolf placed it's head beneath it. It was warm to the couch, and bore the weight of my hand. It moved away from my hand, and moved around behind me. I followed it's movement, and it came around to my other arm, the one still bound to Vilkas' body. The wolf took my other arm in it's jaw, not biting, but more trying to motivate me. It grabbed the cloth binding in it's muzzle and pushed forward, in the direction of Whiterun. The wolf seemed to sense my determination, and wanted to help. It had to be a sign from the Divines, that I had not been forsaken by them. I found the strength I needed and shuffled forward, half crawling, half stumbling. For hours, we kept this slow but steady pace forward south. When I needed rest, the wolf seemed to understand, and placed it's head on my arm, reminding me that I was not alone. I pet him-I determined it was a him even though I couldn't see down there-and he responded amicably. Having the additional help was just enough to get me within visual range of the Battle-Born farm, by the time I lost consciousness again.
When I awoke next, I found myself in a familiar place. I was in Jorrvaskr. I sat up in bed, my strength somewhat returned. That was when I noticed Skjor in the doorway, leaning in the jamb. “You look like you've been run over by a mammoth,” He said in his affectionately derisive way. “Well, I feel like it too,” I groaned out. The pain in my stomach wasn't as bad as it had been, but still there. “How did I get here?”
“You're lucky,” he said, pulling a chair next to my bed, “Alfhild Battle-Born saw you crawling out near her farm, and put her damned pride aside to run to Eorlund. We found you laying out in the grass, covered in blood, some of which looked to be yours and some not, smeared with dirt and looking half-dead, with your arm bound to Vilkas' body. I'm sorry.”
“I don't think I've ever heard you say that, Skjor. Thank you.”
“Don't get used to it. What in Oblivion happened to you and Vilkas?”
“Our house was attacked. Khajiit mercenaries. They killed him and burned down the house. I crawled here with help from a very friendly wolf. Is he here?”
“Wolf? There wasn't any wolf with you when we carried you here.”
“Damn. That wolf saved my life. I wish I could take it in, train it maybe.”
“I'm more concerned about you right now, Lyanna. You're still severely dehydrated and you've lost a lot of blood. You need to rest.”
“I can't rest, Skjor!” I said, trying to stand, “The damned cats that murdered Vilkas are out there! I demand justice!”
“Slow down,” he said, putting his hands on my shoulders, “You are in no condition to go anywhere. You need to rest.” I slumped back in bed, and all of a sudden I was overcome with emotion. The shock of the situation wore off, and reality set in. Vilkas, the closest I have to a brother, is dead. My home and everything in it is gone. And Karnag... “Skjor, you need to get Karnag and his family here immediately.”
“What for?”
“They're in danger.”
“Are we gonna be safe here, papa?” Lucia asked me. The fear in her voice shook me to my core. I knelt down to her and took her hand in mine, saying, “I trust every single Companion in this hall with my life. Anyone that wants to get to you, or your mama, is going to have to go through them first. Except maybe Vignar, but that's just because he's old and grumpy.” Her frightened face seemed to ease a little with my attempt at humor, and my heart was also calmed. I got back to my feet, still holding her hand, and leading her down the back stairs, with Serana and Valerica following closely behind. “You all can stay here,” I said, showing them to the communal sleeping quarters, “You'll be safe here. If you need anything, anything at all, just ask Tilma or Brill. They take good care of this place and those who call it home. I have business I have to attend to.” I picked up Lucia and hugged her tightly with Serana, and setting her down, I was stopped by Valerica. “Karnag,” She said, her fiery red eyes focused intently on me, “Don't do anything stupid, like dying, alright?”
“This world hasn't found a way to kill me yet, Valerica. Don't worry about me. If those cats somehow evade the city guard, I trust you're still good in a fight?”
“Better than you know. No one threatens my family.”
“That's what I like to hear,” I said, giving her a half-smile before going to check on Lyanna over in the next room.
I knocked on the door frame before walking in. She was laying in bed, facing away from me. “By the Nine, you look like you've been through Oblivion,” I said, pulling up a chair. “Seems to be the consensus around here,” she said, turning to face me. Her hair was ragged, her eyes red as if she had been crying for days. “What happened, Lyanna? All I heard was that mercenaries were trying to kill me and my family, and that you were in bad shape. Tell me everything.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath and as she exhaled, she slowly sat up, grimacing in pain. “I'm fairly certain that I, well, I was with child. But my body rejected the baby, and it's gone. Vilkas was taking care of me when the house was surrounded by Khajiit mercenaries, the same ones from the road two weeks ago. I recognized the voice of their leader. Vilkas tried to fight them off but there were just too many. He fell defending me. Then they set fire to the house. It's gone, all of it. Nothing but ashes and cinders now.”
“By the gods...”
“I crawled here. Took most of two days, dragging Vilkas' body with me. A very friendly wolf helped me, surprisingly. I've been here since.”
“Do you have any idea where they went?”
“They left south from the house, but they could be halfway to Elsweyr by now for all I know.”
“They're not going to get away with this, Lyanna,” I said, getting to my feet. She grabbed my wrist, locking my eyes with hers and said, “Karnag, promise me something.”
“Find those cats, Karnag. Find them, and kill every last one of them. Then find Marandru-jo and skin him.”
“For Vilkas.”
“For Vilkas. And one more thing.”
“Be careful?” Lyanna smiled and released her grip on my wrist. I tried to maintain my composure on the outside, but I think she could feel that beneath my stony, unfeeling exterior, I was a burning abyss of seething rage. I would do exactly as she asked of me. I was not going to let a single one of those cats escape my wrath.

I walked back upstairs to the main hall of Jorrvaskr, I looked around the hall and was pleased with what I saw. My shield-brothers, weapons at the ready, prepared to defend the hall from any and all who may attempt to intrude there. However, there was one who caught my attention, and my fury. “Vignar,” I shouted across the hall, as I walked quickly towards him. The old nord stood from his chair, offended that I dared to speak out of turn towards him. “You do not stand with your brothers. Why?”
“I'm too old for your petty squabbles,” the indignant Vignar replied with a scowl, “Besides, who are you to judge another in Jorrvaskr, elf?” By his shirt collar I clenched my fists and pinned the old man against one of the pillars holding the roof of the building up. “Give me your axe, Vignar. You obviously don't need it.”
He seemed stunned at my words, so I repeated myself, “Hand it over. I won't ask again, you indignant old fool.” Without waiting for him to reply, I pulled the steel axe from his belt loop and dropped him to the floor. He tried to stand, and I embedded the blade of the axe in the very pillar where I had pinned him to, mere inches from his neck. The look of fear on the cowardly, Stormcloak-lover's face was enough for me, but I added, “Touch that axe before I return and I'll gut you where you like a trout.”

I drank deep from the mug of crisp ale, quenching my thirst heartily. “That was just what I needed, Hulda,” I said to the beautiful Redguard behind the bar of the Bannered Mare. “What do I owe you?”
“Three Septims, Karnag,” she said with a smile. I reached for my belt, untied the leather pouch of gold from my waist, and placed it in her hand. Hulda's smile faded as she saw the heavy pouch in her hand, looking to me with confusion. The merriment was gone from my eyes as I stared into hers. “There is something else you can help me with, though. I'm looking for a Khajiit caravan. Marandru-jo's to be specific. Have you heard where they've been lately?” Her eyes darted from side to side, scanning the mostly empty room. “You didn't hear this from me,” she started off, “But Ysolda, out at the market stalls, trades moon sugar with the caravans. If someone were looking for them, she's the person I'd go to talk to.” The smile returned to my face as I finally released my grasp on the bag of gold. “Much obliged,” I said as I finished my drink and got up from the bar. I pushed the door open to the mid-day sun and headed out to the market, where I heard Ysolda's familiar voice speaking with Fralia, Eorlund's wife. Fralia saw me and grimaced at the sight of me. “Here comes the Imperial's lapdog,” she sneered. I held my hands up, palms facing outward, saying, “I just follow orders, Fralia. Soldiers do what soldiers do, you know that.”
“Hmph. What do you want?” She grumbled, her tone not lightening any. “Well, I'd like to speak with Ysolda here, if you don't mind.” Ysolda turned to me and said, “Do you need something, Karnag? I heard about that business with Lyanna, it's just tragic.”
“Aye, it is. Mind taking a short walk with me?”
“Not at all. Where to?”
“Oh just over away from the main road. I'd like to speak privately, if that's alright.”
“Lead the way.” We walked side by side around to the eastern side of the alchemist's shop and turned south, heading in the direction of the main gate. That was when I retrieved the dagger from my belt. “There is six inches of Orcish steel pointed at your spine. Scream and you'll never walk again.”
“Wait, what? What's this about?”
“I need information. You have it. Tell me what I need to know, and we don't speak of this unpleasantness again. Lie to me, or hold out on me, and it won't end well.”
“W-what do you want to know?” She stammered in fear. “One of my closest friends was murdered by a band of Khajiit bandits in the employ of Marandru-jo, the caravan trader. I hear you do regular business with the caravans. You must have a decent idea of the routes they travel and their schedules.”
“Last I knew, Marandru-jo was on his way back to Whiterun from Markarth. That's all I know, I swear to you. Now please, let me go!” I pressed the tip of the blade to her back, not enough to cause pain, but enough to get her attention. “For your sake, I hope so.” I sheathed the dagger and turned on my heel, heading the opposite direction, to take the long way out of Whiterun. So the cat's on the way back from Markarth. If I take the south road west, I should run straight into him. Perfect.

After finding a decent place to hide myself, I prepared my ambush. A single tripwire stretched across the road was all I needed to cause enough confusion to strike. The wait was agonizing, but eventually, a group of travelers appeared cresting over a hill. The wagon and camp supplies gave them away before I could tell definitively, it was Marandru-jo's caravan. I recognized two of the mercenaries that were at the head of the caravan as they got closer from the attack two weeks ago. Two paces short of my tripwire, one threw up a paw and signaled for the rest to stop. “What is is, Kharjo?” One of the other Khajiit asked. “This one smells something in the air, J'datharr. Smells like...Orc.” Damn cats, they smelled me before they saw me! I took the opportunity before I completely lost the element of surprise and fired a bolt from my crossbow into the neck of the first mercenary. He fell to his knees, choking on blood, and collapsed with a heavy thud. The other one drew his sword, and shouted, “We are under attack!” His last words. I reloaded my crossbow and fired again, the bolt striking the Khajiit between the eyes, killing him instantly. That was when I revealed myself. I loaded another bolt and fired it at a third guard, knocking him backwards but not killing him. But at that moment, I heard the familiar growl of a grey wolf from behind me. I turned just as the creature lunged, but not at me, at the Khajiit I was in the process of fighting. The wolf went straight for the neck of the wounded cat, and although the mercenary struggled, he was no match, and expired. The wolf then disappeared into the same brush from which it emerged, leaving no trace it was ever there. I turned my attention back to the final cat, trying to run away.
Crossbow reloaded and trained on Marandru-jo, I emerged from the bush I was hiding in. “You made a grave miscalculation, rug,” I said, my words dripping with malice, “And now you are going to pay the price for your arrogance.” Unarmed, the Khajiit raised it's paws in the air as if to surrender. “This one has done nothing wrong! You, you have killed two of our best men! It is you who will pay!”
“Let me tell you how this is going to go, cat.” I said, my hand going for his throat. “You're going to tell me where the rest of your mercenaries are hiding. The ones who killed Vilkas.”
“The dog? Ha!” He managed to squeak out though my grip on his windpipe, “Or what?”
“For every minute you don't tell me where they are, I'm going to put a bolt through each of your ball and socket joints. Starting with your shoulders, then your hips. If you still don't talk, I'm going to start breaking fingers. Then I'm going to cut off that tail and make it into a neck tie.” Genuine fear crept over the Khajiit's face. “Tell me now, and I make your death merciful. Make no mistake, cat, you are not leaving this encounter alive.” I saw the cat weigh his options silently as my grip tightened. “It's in your best interest to talk now and save yourself undue suffering.” Still, he refused to speak. “Fine,” I said, “We do this the hard way.” I held my crossbow in my other hand, pressing it against his shoulder. I released the trigger, firing a bolt at full speed into the joint between his shoulder socket and arm ball. The cat screamed in agony, cursing me as he squirmed under my grip. “Alright!” He screamed though gritted fangs, “You will find them camped at the Silent Moons ruin!”
“Wise decision,” I said, releasing my grip. The Khajiit fell to the ground, gasping for air and clutching it's wounded shoulder. “Now let's be reasonable,” he said as I reloaded my crossbow. “Absolutely,” I said, aiming the weapon at the back of the cat's head, “Let's.”

I returned to Whiterun with all the information I needed. I strode through the doors of Jorrvaskr, carrying a fur pelt rolled under my arm. Lucia saw me right away and ran to me, shouting, “Papa!” I patted her on the head, gently saying, “Not right now, darling. Your papa has business to attend to.” I didn't mean to be brusque but I know that's how I sounded to her, as she let go of my legs. I walked down the back stairs to Lyanna's room, where I found her standing, with the aid of a cane. “You're back, and in one piece. Even better,” she said, trying to stay as positive as possible. “Aye, and I come with good news.” I unrolled the pelt at her feet, revealing it to be a feline pelt nearly the size of a man. “Marandru-jo's pelt,” I said, with a morbid smile, “It'll make a fine rug for when we rebuild your home.” Lyanna was speechless, equal parts terrified and gratified. “So it's done then,” she said under her breath. “Not yet. The mercenaries who killed Vilkas are still out there, but I know where to find them. I'm getting together every able-bodied Companion in Jorrvaskr. We're going to wipe them out together.” Lyanna's eyes met mine, finally breaking her stare from the pelt on the floor. “Thank you, Karnag. I mean it.”

I walked back upstairs to the main hall and in a loud voice proclaimed, “Who's up for a little vengeance?” Skjor, Tovar, Ria and Nadja all stood to their feet with blood in their eyes. “Companions, we ride for Silent Moons, to the north-west. That's where the filthy cats that murdered Vilkas are hiding. Leave none standing.” They all drew their blades, holding them skyward, and I drew Dawnbreaker and joined them. “For Vilkas,” we said in unison. A couple went to gather the things they would need as we all got ready to disembark, and as I was headed out the door, Serana stopped me. “Come back to me, Karnag,” she said with concern in her voice, “Don't let vengeance consume you.”
“It's far too late for that, Serana,” I said, pressing her hand against my cheek, “I have to see this through. Vilkas was my shield-brother. He'd do the same for me.”
It was nearly dark by the time we mustered near Silent Moons. The crumbling ancient ruin built into the hillside loomed, back lit by a thousand stars. “So how do we play this?” Skjor asked me in a half whisper as we crouched outside the range of their camp fires. “Looks like there's a dozen of them scattered around from what I can see. Straight shot up to the top where most of them are. Confined space, we'll have to go hand-to-hand. We take the two sentries at the base nice and quiet, the rest of you head up the stair way to the main encampment. The door near the bottom is where their leader sleeps. He's mine.” Skjor nodded silently in agreement, and took a bow from his back and knocked an arrow. “On three,” I said, readying my crossbow. “Ready? One, two, three.” I pulled the trigger at the same time Skjor released his grip. My bolt struck a half second before his arrow, but the two sentries fell without a sound. “Let's move,” I said, my hand on the hilt of my sword. The five of us crept silently through the brush to the ruin. I crouched behind the door leading to the leader's den, and motioned for the others to head up the stairs. They did as instructed, creeping up the stair way without a sound. That was when I heard one of the mercenaries shout, “We've got company!” Breaking silence, the group all drew their weapons, and commenced the clashing of steel indicative of close combat. We had taken them by surprise alright. I seized the moment, kicking down the door to where the leader of the mercenaries was sleeping. He tried to scramble to reach his sword just out of arm's length away, but I was faster. I plunged my blade through the belly of the cat, looking it in the eyes as it realized that there was no escape this time. “This,” I whispered, my face inches from his snout, “Is for being a thorn in my side.” I withdrew the blade as the Khajiit screeched in pain, and I plunged it into his chest and twisted, saying, “And this is for killing my friend.” I watched as the light faded from the eyes of the cat, and his body went limp as he exhaled his last breath. The lack of sound from outside told me that my companions had executed their task. A cursory search of the camp produced a fair bit of gold, some potions and mead, and plenty of good steel. My heart was satisfied. Justice had been done.

We returned to Jorrvaskr just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. I thanked my friends for accompanying me on this task, and I walked over to the pillar where I left Vignar's axe. I pulled it from the aged wood and walked to the room where Vignar slept. I opened up the door to find him curled beneath his expensive cotton sheets, paid for with his brother's earnings, surrounded by luxuries unbecoming of a man who calls himself an, “honored warrior.” I held the axe at shoulder-height and dropped it so that it caused a loud sound as it hit the floor. Vignar woke from his sleep to see me standing there, my armor covered in blood not my own, pack laden with loot from my enemies. The frightened nord locked eyes with me for a moment before I said, “You are not fit to call yourself a warrior. You bring shame to the name of the Companions, Vignar. You and your clan cowered in fear when Ulfric Stormcloak laid siege to the city. You know where I was, Vignar? I was on the front line defending Whiterun. Many of those traitors fell to my blade that day. But you were wanting them to win after all. You disgust me. Your brother, Eorlund, he is a good man, and I have nothing but respect for him. But you? There will be no place for you in Sovngarde for you. You can have your axe back now.”

Returning to Lakeview was bittersweet. On one hand, I felt a sense of accomplishment, knowing that my job was done, and that Vilkas' spirit could be at peace, with his life avenged. But I feared for what Farkas would do when he learned of the loss of not only his brother, but his home, his belongings, and his unborn child. It was a lot for one man to handle on his own. But Farkas is strong. The gods will watch over him, I know it.
With separate rooms now complete for Serana and I and for Lucia, I fell into bed, exhausted after the last several days' work. There was much more to do, both on our own home, and getting Lyanna and Farkas a new home constructed. At least the wagon full of goods that Marandru-jo's caravan was carrying would make for a decent consolation prize for all of the belongings destroyed in the fire that consumed the cabin we already built.
I was just about to drift off to sleep when I heard a sharp thud at the door. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I got up to see what it was, as Serana didn't even stir. I opened the door, but there was nothing outside, save the trees and the birds. But that was when I noticed that stuck to the outside of the door was a letter, pinned in place by a steel arrow. I pulled the arrow out of the door, and opened the letter. On the single sheet, there was a single black hand print, with two words written underneath it; “We Know.”
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