ESO — Heated Flames


Death was not a pleasant experience, Silica mused as she teleported to the Mistral wayshrine.

Of all the experiences she’d had in her short life, no, that definitely was not a pleasant one. To feel her very body cease to function, and yet remain there, tied to the spot until she forced a resurrection… And then with a sudden lurch her skin mended and heart forced itself into life again… With a scowl, she checked the status of her armor and scowled at the many new tears, gashes, and arrow holes.

After a major fight involving several, lengthy, painful resurrections, Silica found it comforting to return home and see if things had changed… often times, she was thankful that they had not. Oh sure, there was the one time that the walls around Eagle’s Strand had been torn down for use in repairs in Mistral and maintaining other temples, but otherwise the island was pleasantly locked away in time.

Silica walked towards crafting stations, passing by a Khajiit wearing nothing and proudly (or perhaps simply in a worsened state of clothing disrepair similar to Silica) showing off her (what only could be described as) Calico fur in the process. (Silently, Silica made a note to make sure it never got that bad for her own gear, if that indeed had been the cause of the Khajiit’s semi-nuidity.) ((How could a cat be naked what with all that fur, anyhow?))

It was in the middle of sewing a random arrow hole closed on one of her boots that Silica heard a familiar voice speaking to her.

“I figured I’d run into you here.”

Silica looked up to find The Rat looking down at her, holding a battered looking Khajiit heavy metalhelm under arm, while also wearing some Bosmer robes that looked brand new. “You did, huh?” Silica asked.

“Mm,” Argo nodded.

“So?” Silica frowned, getting back to work on patching her gear.

“Well, I was recently tasked with something from the Fighters Guild-”

“Not a member.”

“I know that. But I’d like your help with it just the same. Especially after you helped with the Orrery…”

“That was a freak coincidence and you know it. I was only supposed to be there for emotional support for Dareneth, and–” Silica screwed up her stitching and growled. “Siiiigh. Fine. What is it?” Silica asked, glancing back up at Argo, who was musing on whether her helmet could be salvaged or not.

“Molag Bal,” Argo said simply, and then moved over to the black smithing station to destroy the helmet.

The whole place seemed to grow cold- most people’s hearts skipped a beat and many people mistepped- nearly tripping in the process. All of that at the name.

Most of everyone ignored it.

But Silica was not most of everyone. “You have my attention,” She began.

With a mighty blow- Argo crushed the helmet as flat as it’s ruined shape would go- and she began, “My Guild Mates are going to attempt… something that could be vital to defeating his plans. I’d like you there to guard while we do that.”

Silica thought it over for a moment- “Will I get paid?”

“It’s Mercenary work, and even if my fellow Guild Mates don’t like it, I’m willing to pay you out of pocket,” Argo said as she tossed the helmet into the fire and waited for it to heat up and start to melt. “How much are we talking?”

“How much are you willing to spend?” Silica then pursed her lips and then added, “Honestly, I’d like enough to buy a new set of armor. Or at least buy the supplies to make my own.”

“What style are we talking here? Argonian?” Argo asked, acutely observing what gear Silica had on at the moment. “Medium? Really?”

“It’s what works for me. I don’t die that often ’cause I can slip between attacks easier…” She said, resuming her sewing. “Plus, have you even TAKEN a stroll through most of Tamirel these days? It’s getting to be summer: shorts and skin-baring armor are better than heavy armor that keeps all the sweat in, and Light armor just doesn’t have the oomph to stop anything. I mean, it’s just common sense.”

“And what exactly got you roughed up like that?” Argo pulled the helmet out and began smashing the metal down into a more condensed form.

Silica scowled as she screwed up her repair work again. “Do you really want me to tell you?”

“Kinda?” Argo smirked as she put the molten helmet into an Ingot Mold, and then stuck the mold back into the fire.

“Fine. It was a Kwama.”

“A Kwama put arrow holes in your armor?”

“No, A Kwama put the cuts and tears into it,” Silica corrected, “it was an bandit ambush that put the arrow holes in.”

“Alright alright,” Argo paused, then had to ask. “What were you doing handling Kwama?”

“Look, I was helping out this guy with a shipment of goods that was late and it turns out that it was infested with the bugs and I ended up having to take the crate full of hatchlings away from the worker who pretty much burst out of the crate-” Silica stopped herself. “What does it even matter to you? Are you going to give me the job or what?”

Argo was impressed- suddenly turning the conversation back to the job that she had offered as if it was her that was the one holding back on it.

She pulled the ingot mold out of the forge, and then threw it into the water basin to cool down.

“You’ve got the job…” Argo blinked, “You know, I don’t think I ever caught your full name?”

“Don’t got one,” Silica said, “it’s just ‘Silica.’ But if you have to put something down, might as well add ‘Knight’.”

“Alright then.”

“Welcome to The Earth Forge,” Argo greeted Silica as she stepped through the portal. “Location: Unknown.”

“A forge?” Silica raised an eyebrow, “Really?”

“Hey, it works, doesn’t it? At least in an ironic sense.” Argo then turned towards a Redguard and a Khajiit. “Merric! Aelif! Good to see you two!”

“Comrade!” the Redguard greeted, wearing classic black-smiting clothes. “Glad to see you alive and in one piece as well…Tell me, what news do you bring from Colors?”

“Bad news, I’m afraid,” Argo reported, “The Mortum Vivicus was not destroyed like we originally thought. Molag Bal simply pulled it into Coldharbour.”

“And what of the girl?” It was the Khajiit who spoke up. “Are you sure she can be trusted for someone so you–”

Argo quickly made a silencing motion with her hands and shook her head rapidly in Aelif’s direction.

It was too late, Silica was already glaring daggers at Aelif- even as her fingers itched for the two sheathed blades at her side. “Young?” And Argo did a double take at the suddenly gritty tone that Silica was using, almost a perfect match for the same tone Aelif had just used– “This one dares you to finish that sentence.”

Now it was Argo’s turn to be amazed at such an accent match- of course, Argo had known that Silica had grown up on Khenarthii’s Roost, a Khajiit influence heavy island, but given Silica’s normal sounding speech until now, Argo hadn’t been expecting the girl to suddenly revert.

“You dare mock Aelif’s voice?” Aelif inquired, raising an eyebrow.

“Mock nothing!” Silica’s mouth twitched ever so slightly, showing her fang-teeth. “This one grew up with Khajiit parents! You expect anything less than that? Is it because this one’s race is Breton that you think this one mocks?? Silica grew up under the training of the Temple of Two Moons, and doubts you could wield a blade as well as she wields two!”

“Why you impudent little Kitten!” Aelif reached for her sword.

“Woah woah, now,” Merric interrupted the conversation before it devolved into a proverbial cat fight. “We’re all friends here. I don’t have a single doubt that our Comrade’s insight is right on her skills. If Argo thinks-” A slight, barely noticeable pause- “Silica here can help guard the forge, then she’s definitely got the skills to help us out.”

Aelif’s tail swished side to side (and if she had been born a Khajiit, Argo swore that Silica’s tail would be doing the same) “Mrrrr…Fine,” Aelif backed down, turning away from the portal. “Aelif will guard the portal then.”

“Come on,” Argo motioned for Silica to follow her, “let’s get going.”

“I’ve never seen Aelif react like that before,” Merric began as they hurried through the forge. “I don’t know why she went off like that.”

“This….” Silica took a moment to swallow and then forced herself back into a regular speech pattern, “I’m sorry. I just don’t like people calling me young. That’s all.”

“And to answer Aelif’s question,” Argo began, “She’s like me. Like you almost were.”

“Another of Molag Bal’s attempts to power the Vivicus, then,” Merric frowned. “This is not good.”

“No, it’s not,” Argo shook her head. “Calum’s still out of it from going through the vision quest like that. I don’t know what he saw in there, but if what Colors said is right, then Molag Bal’s most powerful weapon is still in play.”

“Which explains why the Worm Cult pursued the Ancients like they did,” Merric nodded. “Both weapons were well in play then, but now we have a chance to forge our own trump card.”

“Which is?” Silica asked.

“The Prismatic Blade,” Merric said, “or something like that. Up until now, I never really thought about learning the name properly. I thought I was to be forging a symbol of our resistance, not an actual weapon.”

“It’s a device that should destroy the Mortum Vivicus, the weapon that Molag Bal’s preparing against us,” Argo explained.

“What’s with the Dark Anchors, then?” Silica asked.

“We’re not sure exactly how the Vivicus plays into all of this, honestly,” Argo said. “All sources indicated that Molag Bal wishes to merge Nirn with Coldharbour, but the Vivicus? From what we know, it’s basically a giant soul-bomb.”

“Back up plan in case the anchors fail? Or perhaps it’s been re-purposed into the power source for the Anchors,” Merric shrugged. “Whatever the case, the ancients died to prevent this from happening…And here we are, racing against the clock.”

The Forge was a massive room- as many Dwemmer forges are known to be.

It was a cave, filled with lava, and the temperature was nearly staggering.

Argo, still in heavy armor, took a step back at the heat. “Woaah…”

Silica smirked as she barely broke a sweat. “Told ya, medium beats heavy any day when it comes to heat.”

“faahhh…” Argo grumbled as she looked in her bag for a robe. “Give me a minute here… I’ll melt myself if I don’t switch to something cooler…”

“I’ve prepared the forge, so we can begin as soon as you’re both ready,” Merric said. “Silica? Care to search the perimeter?”

“Sure,” Silica nodded, and carefully navigated the room- searching for weak spots and other potential spots for attacks.

The metal under her feet was disconcertingly cool to the touch, even mere inches from the lava bed.

“Dwemmer…” Silica frowned. Something was off.

“Alright, ready,” Argo called out as she finished adjusting those same Bosmer robes from before. “What are we doing here?”

“You’ll stoke the fire while I craft the blade around the core,” Merric explained. “Use the bellows and the valve to increase the heat, or pour fire salts on the coals. If the flames get too hot, use the lever to vent some extra heat.”

As the two members of the Fighters Guild worked to craft the new blade, the nagging feeling that something was going to go wrong kept building.

And then, as they neared the final stage, Silica finally looked at the metal beneath her feet, and read some of the Daedric text written on the metal. ‘Molag Bal?’ Silica’s eyes widened. “Wait- Daedric in Dwemmer Ruins??”

And then the walls exploded, even as Molag Bal’s voice cried out, “COLLECT THE BLADE AND BRING IT TO ME!”

All hell broke loose, and Silica’s daggers came out of their sheaths- “HRAAAAH!” She leaped at the first wave of skeletons- smashing through them and scattering their bones in all directions- many of which landed in the Lava and burned away.

Argo’s Restoration staff was out, siphoning magicka from the Skeletons- but where were they all coming from?? There was a massive lava pool between them and the far walls…

And then came a massive beast that resembled a dead and decaying Dragon Priest…

“My Minions serve me EVEN IN DEATH!”

And then Silica died.

She lay there for a few moments- wondering what had just hit her- and then she heard Argo and Merric yelling- and she Revived.

Silica leaped out of the burst of light firing off one of her Ultimate level spells- spewing flames and molten rocks everywhere underneath the monster- her blades flew fast- furious- but this strange beast just seemed to have no end to it…!

And then Silica died. Again.

Argo went down as well, and Silica’s mental image of herself grit her teeth as she revived once more- at the same time as Argo- and together, they saved Merric from a death he could not come back from.

Silica felt her body pouring precious blood on the floor as she launched blade after blade into the monster that threw twice as much back at her…

And then the beast died.

Silica panted heavily as she felt her wounds healing up, slowly but surely.

“Well…” Merric began, “That was as hairy of a fight as I’ve ever been in…. How in OBLIVION did they find this place!?”

Silica just pointed at the floor where the Daedric runes lay hidden in plain sight and said, “Look for yourself.”

Argo looked over, read the runes, and then swore. “Same writing as on the Dark Anchors. How the hell…?”

“I think…” Merric began, “we might have a traitor in our midst.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Argo nodded.

Silica just took the opportunity to faint from the strain of two consecutive resurrections.


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