Built for Destruction
That talking sword is a lying asshole.
A Falmer army, it said. A coven of soul-eating necromancers. Earth and stone moving against me—attacks from every side.
That description is not even close to the dangers I found when I blinked over the wall Akavarin had erected around his dark kingdom.
First of all, it took three blinks just to scale the fucking thing. That should tell you something—I can blink about three hundred yards at a time. More if I have a clear picture of where I’m going. The wall itself was moist and rocky—covered in barnacles that slipped nasty, barbed tongues around my hands every time I tried to get a good grip.
It was a good thing I’d slaughtered every creature on the Netherworld plain within miles. If I couldn’t teleport every time I had a heartbeat, I’d have died a thousand times over just getting up that thing.
The top of the wall was covered in black spears made of broken glass. Each one twelve strides high. I came uncomfortably close to impaling myself from pussy to mouth with an ill-placed blink, but I guess luck hasn’t entirely abandoned me.
On the other side of the wall, a skeleton almost as tall as the wall was rattling around. Each footfall sounded like a meteor smacking into the muddy ground.
I narrowed my eyes and realized that the behemoth was actually made from thousands—no, millions—of bits and pieces of bone, skin, blood and armor. It was as if someone had massacred an entire army of soldiers and then packed them all into some horrendous creation.
“What the fuck is that?” I hissed.
An…unexpected development, Murasame responded.
“Gods,” I muttered. “I’d let a dwarf fuck me up the ass if it meant no more surprises.”
You are disgusting.
The skeleton was about one hundred strides from the rampart. It turned towards me, eye sockets glowing purple.
On a whim, I fixed my own eyes on a piece of clean air three hundred yards behind its head and blinked.
There is an unrivaled kind of thrill to materializing with nothing beneath your feet. Feeling that gut-wrenching weightlessness.
Then blinking and doing again, like a stone skipping across a serene lake.
I do not know how far I moved like that—slinging one mid-air blink into another, a black puff of smoke skittering along the horizon. Ten miles? Twenty?
The glimpses of the world below were enough to take my mind off the insanity of flying. Because that’s what I was doing. Without the threat of the insect nightmares, I could blink as much as I fucking wanted to.
Beneath though. That was the real nightmare.
The earth was riddled with tunnels and trenches. A patchwork of some dubious industry. It looked like the surface of an ant colony, except it was filled with moving torches and the unmistakable gleam of carapace-crafted armor and huts and buildings.
A Falmer city, built on the surface.
The notion that each moving torch meant a Falmer had his fist wrapped around it was disturbing enough—the fires looked like Torchbug asses on a summer night, there were so many.
But that was not the worst part.
They were building more of those enormous skeletons. There were piles of bones and armor and flesh everywhere. Falmer fashioning long strings of skin together that were so long you could have wrapped it around the spire of the Blue Palace. Others were melting steel armor down in furnaces—molding them into huge clasps and clips to bind the bones together.
Gods, the bones.
They used thick poles of pine and cedar to crush the bones into deep cisterns. Then they poured that purple water into them. Steam rose. Chants were sung. Magic was cast. I must have passed over two dozen colossuses being sculpted from the dead.
“How can this be?” I asked. “The Falmer have no magic like this.”
Akavarin works his magic through them the same way a mage pushes spells through his fingers.
“Well that adds up to a lot of fucking fingers, doesn’t it?”
It was then—while bouncing around hundreds of strides above solid ground—that I began to start having serious misgivings about attempting to assassinate the Dark Lord Akavarin.
A jagged mountain rose up in the distance. There were patches of snow and ice plastered to sheer cliffs. Edges of rock that made daggers out of the landscape.
Seemed like a good place to rest.
I blinked over and found a little shelf with decent footing. When I got my balance, I adjusted Murasame on my back. The sword didn’t weigh anything in my hand, but the deer-skin strap I’d made to hold it bit into the flesh of my shoulder and neck all the same.
“Well, we’ve had the tour. What’s next?”
East, Narova. Look east.
I turned, and felt the piss drop inside of me.
The fortress looked like a zombie forged from the earth itself. It was the earth. Huge slabs of bedrock jutted free from the ground like a spinal column. Frost-clad tundra heaved like lungs. Breathing walls pumping in and out. Every piece of the foundation shifting. It went on and on for miles—taking up the entire shoreline.
I didn’t say anything. But of course I was fucking scared. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done—the Dragonborn himself, if he even exists, would have gotten the shivers from looking at Akavarin’s dark work.
It will be night soon. The gloom is good for Akavarin and his coven of necromancers. We should rest somewhere until dawn.
I looked around. There was a hollowed space in the rock a couple-dozen strides above the outcropping. I blinked up there, and saw that it was actually the mouth of a shallow cave. There was a wispy bed of straw laid out on the rocky floor.
“Seems ominous,” I said, sniffing. No scent besides some mold and mildew. Nothing alive.
Akavarin created this spire—the cave was probably a hundred feet lower to the ground a year ago.
“What’s to stop him from rearranging it again while we’re sleeping in here?”
“You know, you’re the least comforting talking sword I’ve ever met.”
Murasame didn’t respond for a long time.
Comfort was never my strong suit. I was built for destruction, just like you. And tomorrow, we have a lot of work to do.
“Yeah,” I said. “Tomorrow, then.”