“Gods curse you, Tris. This
Cerdim turned his head to glance over his shoulder, in his usual sly and almost lazy demeanor. The Dunmer seemed to consider life itself a jape, a jest, a comedy he'd play along with until his inevitable end would come. There was not much in this world he actually took seriously. So when he saw his companion's giant of a sibling stomp towards the log they had seated themselves upon, he had to grin.
This should be good.
Beside him, Triskele regarded her brother with her characteristic calmth. She did not bother with a reply. Her sibling, the youngest by the looks of it, halted in front of them and pointed a dirty finger at the Dark Elf. Cerdim fixed his one, dark-red eye on it, as if he was looking at a bug.
“What have we told you about...this
? And your business with this fellow?”
The short female rose from the log, stretching her limbs slowly. “A few things. I've forgotten.”
“Stop acting coy, sister. We told you it had to stop. This Ashlander is bad news and so is...whatever you're doing with him!”
Cerdim's smirk only grew more broad. The oaf made it sound as if he and his companion did inappropriate things to each other in whatever abandoned cave or shack they ventured across. As entertaining – and rousing – as that thought was to the Dunmer, the truth was as far from that image as it could get. He kept his silence as his one-eyed stare trailed over the short frame of Triskele Grár. Oh yes, the idea of doing exactly that which the world thought they did was more than appealing to him, but he had already lost an eye in his life, and had little interest in losing another along with other parts. Cerdim had traveled with his raven-haired companion many a time, and had yet to see a single male who left an impression on her. She was cold, his slender friend, cold and harsh and calculated, almost as much as he was. It's why he valued her so.
Triskele folded her arms across her chest. Her blue eyes narrowed.
“You're drunk, Thorald. And you're interrupting.”
“Stop pissin' about, little sister. Come inside and let this vermin be on its way.”
“What did you call me?”
“I called you what you are – my little sister. Now come along.”
Cerdim smiled, scratching the cloth covering the empty socket that once held an eye. Wrong.
Triskele did not move. Her jaw tightened. “I'm not little.”
“You bloody are. Come on.”
Thorald grabbed her upper arm, but his wits were muddled and what was worse: he had called her 'little'. As soon as his fingers pinched in Triskele's arm, she spat in his face and gave him a hard push. Her tall brother fell with his back in the dirt of the riverbank, and a moment later Triskele jumped on top of him, aiming a clenched fist for his face. Cerdim never dropped his calm, amused smile as he lazily stood up from the log, cracking his neck side to side. He took a deep breath, the cold of night filling his lungs, completely at peace, as if he did not even hear the two siblings behind him in the dirt, beating the living hell out of one another. Cerdim strapped his bow across his back and shot a look over his shoulder.
“I'll see you soon, Tris.”
His companion, held in a firm clench by Thorald's upper arm around her neck, gritted her teeth as she rammed an elbow into her brother's groin. As he let go of her with a wail, she took the moment of respite to give Cerdim a curt nod.
“Of course, Cerdim.”
She panted and turned around, just in time to dodge the wooden beam Thorald swung at her. Her brother roared in anger, and the last Cerdim glimpsed was the image of both Triskele and Thorald grabbing each other's hair, pulling and kicking. He smiled, and walked away.
Cerdim did not stop walking, not until dawn. As he quietly scaled the woods, his thoughts were with the barrow. There was no doubt in his mind – nobody had touched the place. If the stories were true, he would come across a very royal amount of bounty, if they would manage to find the doors nobody had found before. He calmly hopped over a small stream, scaring off a wandering deer. His thoughts turned to his short friend. For the past year they had raided tombs together, ever since they had run into each other near the barrows around Windhelm. They had both aimed arrows at one another, and had in the end decided to let the other live, at least until they had made their way to the surface. Luckily for him, she had deemed him worthy of drawing breath as soon as they had crawled out of that pit. As I do her, and I don't think that of many people.
He frowned as he thought of their past endeavours. Cerdim was an outcast, an outlaw, a thug without much of a conscience left to him. He was honest about his goals and his purpose – there was no nobility to his cause. That was why he did what he did. But Triskele, she was different.
She never wants a choice part, never wants a big share, and if I insist, she dumps it somewhere. I have raided with her for over a year, and still I know not what moves her to do this...
His trail of thoughts stopped along with his feet. Ahead of him lay the bleak stones he had been looking for. He whistled a song between his teeth as he made his camp under a large sentinel nearby, the smell of pine, dew and snow cheering him up. After a while Cerdim sat down, his back resting against the bark of the tree, his single red eye on the barrow ahead.
He'd wait here.