Hunting Narova Black Hair
Lord Vergun woke up on a rocky island in the middle of a river. His feet were in the water. Toes numb.
It was an hour or so after dawn. Vergun knew this not by the position of the sun, but by the sound of a thousand horny birds chirping in the underbrush that lined the far bank of the river. He stood up, water draining from his boots as if they were leaky boats, and examined his body.
He was hurt, but not seriously injured. The armor had performed it’s job well, as it should have seeing as it cost two-hundred thousand Septims. Vergun had plenty of strength left to hunt down and kill Narova Black Hair.
“Fucking bitch,” he muttered to himself.
In public, Lord Vergun was a flawless mask of propriety. Even in the heat of battle, he was always careful to maintain a respectable decorum. But alone and waterlogged in the wilderness? Vergun could not help but allow his baser emotions to seep through.
Vergun was an educated, reasonable person—but everyone has their limits.
The greatsword had washed up on the island, too. It was named Murasame. A blessing and a curse forged together into one vicious weapon. It gave him enormous strength, but nothing in this world is free. Vergun had learned that truth the hard way.
Vergun picked up the sword and held it over his head while he forded the river. On the far bank, there were a few cottontails that he used to wipe down the blade, soaking up as much moisture as possible to prevent rust.
“My apologies,” he murmured to the sword. In the fifty years that Vergun had owned Murasame, the blade had not been cleaned by anything besides the finest Telvanni silk and oil.
When he finished, Vergun sniffed the air and scanned the horizon. Some members of the Thalmor relished the hunt—lived for it, really. Nothing pleased them more than a deviant on the loose who needed to be tracked down and murdered in the backcountry.
Lord Vergun was not one of them.
He preferred to set a trap for his prey and wait. Once he discovered how valuable she was, Vergun had set two traps for the notorious Narova Black Hair. She’d slipped free both times.
That bony little elf was starting to annoy him.
Hunting may not have been Vergun’s area of expertise, but one does not rise to the highest echelons of the Thalmor without knowing how to locate hidden things. He took a deep breath—pictured Narova’s tattooed body and black hair—then cast a Clairvoyance spell.
Immediately, a purple wisp of trail appeared to him, running south along the river. He smiled and followed the magical line at a half-jog through the reeds.
Around noon, he found Narova’s tracks. For such a destructive force, she had very small feet.
She’d come out of the river several miles downstream from where Vergun himself had woken up. Then headed east. There was some blood to go along with Narova’s delicate footprints. So she hadn’t escaped that horrifying dimension unscathed, either. That made Vergun very happy.
The twenty second he’d spent being attacked by those…creatures…would haunt Vergun for the rest of his life. Of that, he was certain.
Vergun stayed on her trail, doubling his pace.
Many of his superiors in the Thalmor thought his mission was a fool’s errand. But those crusty old men spent all of their time chasing prophecies these days, babbling on about the end of the world, the rebirth of dragons, and their divine right to power.
Fools, all of them. And ignorant of the bigger picture: Akavarin the Necromancer lorded over almost a third of Skyrim now—his fortress and his lands were impregnable by all official accounts. The Jarls and the Empire would never overpower him.
If Akavarin was not contained, the Thalmor would never control Skyrim. That truth was clear to Vergun, but every other member of his order seemed content to ignore the problem.
But the most frustrating aspect of the entire situation was the fucking wood elf. Narova Black Hair was shuffling around the shadows of Skyrim with the key to defeating Akavarin literally tattooed into her skin, and Vergun could not get to it.
The Thalmor Triad had begrudgingly given him one hundred soldiers to use as he saw fit. Within a month, Narova and her miscreant “brothers” had killed them all. There was no denying that the little band of assassins knew how to ply their trade. Now Vergun was reduced to trudging through the wilderness alone on soaking wet feet, his entire reputation—not to mention the fate of Skyrim—dependent on his ability to track down a single, psychotic Bosmer.
It had started out as business, but Lord Vergun was going to enjoy killing Narova. He was going to savor the taste of her heart.
He moved fast, and the landscape changed quickly. Soggy wetland turned into rolling hills. By late afternoon Vergun reached the edge of a great Aspen forest—white trunks poking up from the ground as if the very landscape was fortifying itself against him.
The purple pathway of Clairvoyance split into three diverging paths at the mouth of the forest. One going right, one straight ahead, and another to the left.
“Useless magic,” he muttered.
Vergun recast the spell, but the same trident of indecision appeared immediately. He swung Murasame around in an arc of frustration, hacking down four Aspen trees with a single stroke.
Several crows squawked angrily at the destruction of their perches, and a familiar hissing noise sounded off from behind him.
“Not so composed after all, I see.”
Vergun whirled around, moving Murasame into a high guard. Narova Black Hair was sitting cross-legged on a flat rock, naked except for a few bolts of silk around her thighs and that mask over her face: a coal black visage with two red bars beneath the eyes.
She’d had an entire day to recover—it would be easy for her to blink away if he attacked.
“This is pointless, Narova,” Vergun said, summoning his lordly voice again.
“Have to disagree with you there,” Narova said lightly. “Keeping my heart inside my chest and out of your stomach seems like a pretty worthwhile endeavor to me.”
Vergun considered appealing to the greater good—explaining exactly how valuable the end of her life would be to the people of Skyrim. He quickly realized how ridiculous that idea was and cast it aside.
“One way or another, I am going to end your life,” Vergun said instead. “That is nonnegotiable. The best I can offer you is a clean death.”
She tilted her head, seeming to consider the offer. “Oh, why didn’t you say that to begin with? I’ve always dreamed of a clean death.”
Narova sprang up from the rock and took a few confident steps towards Vergun, her naked breasts bouncing a little from the movement. Never one to waste an opportunity, Vergun bolted forward and tried to stab her in the face. When Murasame was an inch from the mask, Narova disappeared into a warped tangle of blackness.
Vergun sighed and turned around. Now there were five trails of Clairvoyance leading into the woods.
He picked one at random and headed into the Aspen grove.