I shivered and wrapped my cloak tighter around myself, following the pointing, gnarled finger of the toothless old Reachman, his words croaking out between hearty chuckles at my discomfort. My eyes followed the path into the hills, resting finally on a distant cave entrance, barely visible through the stinging snow, and I steeled myself for the coming trek. Though my physical and mental reserves were nearly spent, I knew that my ambitions were closer than ever to being fulfilled, and despite the lateness of the day and the biting cold, I resolved to reach Red Eagle's tomb on that very night.
Though the powers granted to me by my Daedric benefactors are great, intestinal fortitude was not on the list, and when I reached the mouth of the cave I collapsed, exhausted. As i lay there, without even the vigor to drag myself inside, I began to hear the flittering whispers and distant horns, calling me forth to destiny. With this ghostly music in my ears, I crawled into the mouth of the cave, wrapped all that I had around my frame, and dropped into black, dreamless sleep.
I awoke to the sound of birds and light—things still, as in my youth, repugnant to my senses. I retreated quickly into the darkness of the cave. I knew that my goal was below in the depths. A warm breath pulsed from the interior of the cave, drawing me inward, the thrumming horns seeming to echo from somewhere deep below. I felt a tightness in my chest as I followed these guides, hoping to soon reach my much maligned ancestor.
The traps set to dissuade intruders and grave robbers were child's play for my intellect, and ever cautious I made my way deeper into the crypt. The cave walls pressed in, and gradually the rough, rippled rock walls gave way to hewn stone and chiseled murals. My fingers traced the images, caressing Red Eagle's sword as it cut swathes through a thousand men. The whispering voices and alien horns grew louder, increasing the pressure in my head—my senses lulled, but my mind alert, I knew that soon, after years of research, my ascension was at hand.
I turned one last corner and found myself in Red Eagle's tomb. Simple and unadorned, a sarcophagus sat on a dais in the center of the chamber. Lying near it on a pedestal was Red Eagle's Bane, his magnificent blade. In a burst I ran to it, and hovered over it. My was breath heavy and quick, the voices and music silenced, replaced by an all-encompassing, heavy, ragged, expectant breath.
My hand hovered above the hilt, my fingers grasping and flexing, fear mingling with excitement. Carefully, I reached down and grasped the blade, lifting it up before me and staring, transfixed by the sight.
What came next, my mind almost completely refuses to recall, as memories of such horror must be locked away, lest the brain that contains them be driven mad.
|The Red Curse|
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