Skyrim:The Crimson Dirks, v3

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Up The Crimson Dirks
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The Crimson Dirks, v3
by Gathers-the-Coin
A story of The Crimson Dirks, Volume 3

Peladius looked outside the window of the Crescent Moons Inn, watching the patrons below shuffle through the market sands. A Nord butcher, catching his glance, waved hello to the Imperial, before returning to his trade.

At the table behind him, Erwan and Edward were with the buyer, playing an old Khajiit game of tiles and bones; a fool's wager given they barely understood the rules.

As the septims slowly poured over to the Khajiit's end of the table, Peladius' thoughts turned to his friends back in Cyrodiil, and prayed to Zenithar that luck had found them in their part of the world.

"If Khajiit may ask," he said, adding an ante, "this merchandise you wish to move, is it by chance connected to the recent theft in the palace?"

"Khajiit may not ask," snapped Erwan, "or Erwan will remove his tongue."

"Pardon his rudeness," the cat demurred, "but the sands are full of talk regarding the heist of the Clan Mother's treasury."

"Oh, give him a break," teased Edward, "if you wanted to hide your identity, you probably should've chosen a disguise that didn't include the Clan Mother's personal wardrobe."

Erwan scowled at her brother, angry at herself for not having a proper comeback. The Khajiit, meanwhile, glanced at his tiles and fiddled with his ring, an action that did not go unnoticed.

"Yes, although it was not the silk, but the sword that gave her away," the Khajiit said, revealing another winning hand, "a common blade would not have such an elegant scabbard."

"We should drop the weapons and just grow our nails out," Edward sighed, as the cat's claws raked in another pot, "maybe then we'd have better luck."

"If you want to take that risk, be my guest," Peladius chimed in, "but if we get into a fight, I'd feel better if my hands were clutching Imperial steel."

"You'd feel better, sure!" Edward countered, "But how do I know I wasn't destined to be a mage?"

There was a time when Peladius wondered the same about Edward. At first glance he was more dashing noble than thief, but behind the smile and charm was a cunning and calculating wit. Some might argue that Edward was better suited for the job than Peladius could ever be. For the best rogues cut their enemies not with the edge of their dagger, but the sharpness of their mind.

"Either way, Khajiit is excited to meet such daring thieves. How many outsiders would even try such a thing, given the consequences?"

"What do you mean by that?" Edward replied, examining his tiles.

"Well, the Clan Mothers are allies of the Dominion. Their eyes are all-seeing, and their punishments are known to all who hear the screams."

"And what do you think about that, furball?" Erwan interrupted, eyes focused on the Khajiit, "are you a fan of the Dominion? Do you have paintings at home of Lady Arannelya in fancy lace?"

"Khajiit does not care for politics," he said, raising the pot, "He is sorry to have brought it up."

"Oh, don't mind my sister, she's just touched by Sheogorath," replied Edward, calling the bet, "I, for one, love a good political discussion. It allows us to find a common ground. After all, why do you think people get into conflicts in the first place?"

"Khajiit would assume it is because two sides cannot reconcile their differences."

"You'd think that. One person calls Talos a man, and the other a god, and the next thing you know, they're at each other's throats. But I've seen blood feuds started over the love of a woman, and wars fought over inches on a map.

The truth is, people don't fight because they're different. They fight because their motivations are one and the same. That's true whether you're the Empire and the Thalmor, or a Clan Mother and a thief."

"And what, by the moons, unites you and the Clan Mother? What is this motivation you both share?"

"The same thing that drives you," Edward smiled, laying out his tiles on the table.

"Greed."

The hand was indeed a winner, but of greater concern to the Khajiit was the note Edward placed beside it. The merchant recognized it immediately. He had penned the letter that morning, with the intent to betray them to the Clan Mother in exchange for a hefty sum of sugar and gold.

Startled, he reached for his weapon, but it was too late. Erwan had already drawn hers.

"It doesn't matter," the Khajiit merchant said, "this letter was for the Clan Mother. But the one to the guard is already-"

Before Edward could interject, Erwan slit the Khajiit's throat.

As the blood splattered all over her silk garment, a scream could be heard from the market. A Thalmor Justiciar, flanked by two guards, had dragged the Nord butcher from his stall, accusing him Talos worship.

The Justiciar tore open the butcher's tunic, but found only an Amulet of Mara. The butcher replied with a toothy grin, asking the Thalmor if she was spoken for. The Justiciar, digusted, tossed the butcher into his stall before returning to her patrol.

Peladius shut the window. They may have won the day, but the war was another story. For now, they had a long journey ahead of them, and a body to dispose.