The Raven Rock Exile, Part II: A Crooked Bottom
Photo Credit: Rennalorie
The little Reaver cleanup job netted me four-hundred Septims. Not bad for a few hours work.
I walked a mile outside town, found a unique looking tree, bored a hole in the trunk with my knife, and stashed three hundred coins inside the gnarled wood. Took a good look at the spot before heading back into town.
I wasn’t trying to hide the coin from the Reavers or noble citizens of Raven Rock. I was hiding it from myself. I was missing Skyrim already and had a mind to drown my sorrow in a bottle, and the drunk version of Rensalar Ward had a bit of a spending problem.
Back in Raven Rock, I went to the local tavern. A dark and dusty shithole called the Retching Netch. I will never understand tavern keeper’s need to give their drinking establishments such stupid names. Just carve a little wine symbol and hang it over the door. People will come.
“What’s to drink here?” I asked the Dunmer barkeep as I pulled up a stool. He was wearing a clean and finely pressed silk tunic. One of those entrepreneurial bastards I figured.
“Got the finest Sujamma in Solstheim,” he said proudly, setting down a dirty glass he’d been polishing. “In fact, I’m looking for a sales partner if you’re willing to—”
“Not interested,” I interrupted, setting my stack of one-hundred coins on the counter. I’d done enough work for one day. “A couple pounds of meat and rest goes towards this Sujamma stuff, as long as there’s alcohol in it.”
“That’s enough for…quite a large drink.”
“Well, I have a large fucking thirst.”
The barkeep shrugged, grabbed my gold, and took the first jug of Sujamma off the shelf.
When I came out of the blackout, I was puking in a well. Happens.
It felt like I’d been punched in the face once or twice, but not in a serious way. My left knuckles were skinned and sore and I had the sense I’d won whatever tussle had come my way. Good.
I dug through my purse and pockets but didn’t find any leftover gold. Something told me that I hadn’t paid for a room in advance of my little binge—and I was too drunk to go traipsing back up to my tree stash—so I stumbled off down the main avenue of Raven Rock until I reach some abandoned buildings. The door had one of those shiny-new East Empire locks on it, but even in my drunken state it was easy to charm her open. I let myself in.
The building wasn’t as abandoned as it looked. There was a fire going, two bedrolls laid out, some ale bottles, and a cheap tallow candle burning low.
“You move, you die.” A female’s voice. Behind me.
“I’m not looking for trouble,” I muttered, raising my arms in mock surrender. “Just a place to pass out.”
“Find someplace else, Nord.”
It sounded like she was about five paces behind me. Given the close quarters and the confidence in her voice, I figured she had a crossbow aimed between my shoulder blades.
“I see two beds but only hear one voice. You got someone else around?” It didn’t look like anybody had slept in the dirt sheets recently.
“Not anymore. Some asshole cut the top of my partner’s head off and left his corpse out in the wilds. Doesn’t mean you can have his bed, though.”
Funny, I seemed to remember cutting off the top of an Orc Reaver’s head a day earlier. Solstheim seemed like a violent place, but I figured the odds were pretty good I’d redecorated her old partner’s dome. If I’d been sober I’d probably have left well enough alone and headed back outside. Slept in some ditch. But drinking makes me bold, and whoever this outlaw vixen was, she’d kept a nice fire going all night.
“Might be we can work out an arrangement,” I said, taking two slow steps backwards without turning around.
“Might be I can shoot you dead,” she said, barbing her voice but not pulling the trigger. I was too drunk to worry about whether she had the stones for it. “Hey, I said—“
I spun around and slapped the crossbow away to my right. She fired the bolt but all it hit was the edge of my palm, then skittered harmless around the floor of the room. I grabbed the bow by the muzzle and shoved it against her chest, put my other hand around her throat, and pressed my weight against her. She had straight black hair that streamed over her eyes in a greasy sheet. A Breton.
“Like I said, I’m not looking for—“
I didn’t get to finish. The girl slipped out of my arms as if her bones were made of jelly and kicked me in the balls. I’d been too drunk to feel the bolt cut my palm, but nobody is ever too drunk to avoid the feeling of a solid strike to your crotch charms. I doubled over and puked again.
“Shora’s ass,” I muttered. Rolling over on my back. As if by magic, the girl was straddling me and holding a knife to my throat.
“How’s this for an arrangement, Milk Drinker—you get the fuck out of here and I don’t cut your throat wide open?”
I smelled sweet mead on her breath. Saw she had a straight row of top teeth and a crooked bottom.
“I think you shoulda killed me instead a working through arrangements,” I said. Then I slammed a broken ale bottle I’d grabbed on my way down into her temple and knocked her out cold.
Fuck my balls hurt. I pushed the girl’s unconscious body off me and looked for some rope. Once I got her tied up I fell asleep.
I woke up from my little nap with a bad hangover and a worse ache between the thighs. I’d have traveled a turn in Oblivion if it got rid of the swelling in my left ball. I’d also have slept for a dozen more hours if the girl’s hollering hadn’t woken me up. She was wailing like a soul-trapped ghost—crying for blood vengeance and help and murder all at the same time—but I had her roped up pretty good and didn’t figure she’d go anywhere.
“Stop your hollering, you want those Dunmer with the weird armor coming down on us?” I rubbed my temples and reached for an ale bottle. Took a few long swallows. “I didn’t rape you or nothing. I’m not that kind of outlaw.”
She actually stopped, which surprised me. I’d been looking around for something that’d make a decent gag.
“Why didn’t you kill me?” she asked.
“You’ve got decent moves,” I said. “And you’re down a partner. I’m new around here, thought maybe we could make some moves together.”
“I’d have done you in twice now if you’d let me,” she said. “Why trust me?”
“Since when does trust have anything to do with it? You want to make some coin or not?”
“I don’t even know your name.”
“Do you want to?” I asked.
She scowled at me. In a way she was very pretty. In another she was murderous and evil. I liked it.
“You look like you change names along with your boots.”
“So do you.”
“Call me Ren,” I said eventually.
I nodded. “Well, Elira, it’s almost morning. You know any place around here that’s worth robbing?”