Previous: Volume IV
The cooking by the fire in the old mining village. Old Nana telling stories to the other young children. Papa soothing mother, in her late stages of pregnancy, with his calm Reachman accent. A blackbird circles overhead. Iogairn was stroking the cat. It didn't have a name. It was just 'the cat'. Suddenly the cooking fire envelops the village. The cat leaps out of his arms and flees. Iogairn realised then that the bird was not a blackbird. It was a crow. It went straight for his mother. Papa tried to stop it but there was a flash and he was lying on the floor. Headless. Iogairn leapt in front of the crow, his hands over his head as the crow laughed, in that cold high pitched voice that had never left his memory since. Then his eyes were being pecked out. His screams intertwined with the crow's laughing. Laughing. Laughing.
He woke up, sweat covering his body and shaking. I thought I'd gotten over this.
He took a deep breath. He grimaced. This dream was unlike the others. He was actually there, he couldn't just see from his usual standing point. This was worse. If he had been there, instead of drinking then he could of...
Nothing good could come of this regret. He looked up at the sky. There was still a good hour and a half. He couldn't get to sleep anyway, not after that. He needed to think of a way to get into the town inconspicuously as possible. He looked over at the road and saw a farmer driving a cart of apples. That'll do
, Iogairn thought.
Entering the town half an hour later, he paid the horse master to prepare the horses. The streets were quiet. Why
? Iogairn wondered. The streets are normally packed
. He shrugged and headed over to the execution area pulling his hood up. The crowd was all gathered here.
Ah, they must have decided to put a show on before the executions
. But as he walked closer he realised something was wrong. The crowd was silent unlike a normal show of shouting for justice and the cries of disgust.
And then he saw the heads. Each one was fastened to a pole as a warning. Qa'dara's was being fastened on as Iogairn walked closer. He felt sick. He forced himself to look at the heads, to search for Iusepus' head. He couldn't find it. Then he saw Iusepus being lead onto the platform. With a snarl Iogairn forced his way through the crowd to the front.
He made eye-contact with Iusepus. Iusepus shook his head sadly. He was forced to his knees, and his head lowered to the block. No, no, no, no, no, no!
Iogairn had tears in his eyes. Iusepus winked at him, as he had done so many times, as if it were all just a joke, a trick. As if he would shout and the curtains would unfurl. The heads would come back to life and it would go back to the way it used to be. But instead the axe came down. The crowd gasped. And a tear rolled down Iogairn's face. To those that looked directly at him, his pupils changed colour to red. He pushed past the crowd. The horse-master came running up to him shouting, “Excuse me! Excuse-” as he was shouldered aside onto the pathway, and Iogairn continued up to the keep. Now he was going to have his vengeance. Now he was a berserker.
Trope strode in through the gate, accompanied by two guards. He was heading for the private quarters of the count, to tell him that the bandits were safely dead. But someone was standing in the shadows, next to the count's chair. Trope struggled to see through the shade at the figure but when the figure rose up he gasped.
“Iogairn!” he turned around to the guards. “Arrest him!”.
As they ran towards him, Iogairn drew a dagger. The guards stopped. Why would he draw a dagger when he had a sword? Then Iogairn threw it, not at the guards, but at the chandelier above them. The dagger cut the chain and the chandelier dropped down, crushing the two poor guardsmen.
Iogairn walked towards Trope, with a determined step. Trope drew his sword, uncertainly. He lunged but Iogairn ducked under it and knocked the sword out of his wrist with a blow. Trope cowered back.
“Iogairn, please!” Iogairn drew his sword, but instead of striking Trope down, he threw it on the floor. Trope looked at him confused.
Then Iogairn hit him. And he hit him again. Then kicked him. Then picked him up and threw him against the wall. Then hit him again. Trope tried to block a punch but Iogairn just feinted and crashed into his head on the other side. Trope looked up and saw a fierce snarl on Iogairn's face and hatred in his eyes.
But then, in an instant, it faded. Iogairn looked at him for a few seconds, panting, trying to make sense of what happened, what he was doing. Then he walked away from Trope.
“This isn't me.” he murmured. He walked over to pick up his sword. Trope followed.
“You're right. The gods approve of mercy. I promise you I'm sorry-” Iogairn whirled round, his sword cutting Trope's throat.
“That's like me,” Iogairn said with satisfaction, and walked the room, leaving Trope in a pool of his own blood.
As he walked into the town square, he saw the heads fastened to poles around the platform. He smiled. He would do one last thing for them...
The Bosmer, dressed in black, jumped down from the building. He saw the waiting figure and strode over. The figure was his client, hooded and tall.
“What took you so long?” the figure demanded. The Bosmer smiled.
“A drunken youth looked at me funny.” he said. The figure sighed.
“What of the boy? Did he find out about-”
“Don't worry. Ilise didn't speak a word. He was too busy begging for his life.” The figure nodded.
“Good. Did you find out where he was headed?” The Bosmer inspected his nails and shook his head. The figure cursed.
“Well did he leave any remains?” This time the Bosmer looked up.
“Oh yes. He piled the heads of his comrades in words.” The figure gritted his teeth.
“Well? What words?” The Bosmer grinned again.
“I'm afraid that it is too rude to repeat.”
Next: Daedric Cultists