The Porcupine Tales
As related by
Mea Culpa and Balefire
To the door of the Porcupine walked a lonely Character,
like an wood elf, Ruddy complexion, brown hair, Dark
eyes and very
definite female curves in the right places.
She opened the door and entered the Tavern, standing quite
still for a
few moments, so the patrons could admire her latest outfit:
Elven suit of Plate mail with a noticeable blue shimmer,
a Helm seems to
be missing; perhaps it would obscure Her dainty features.
With a naughty glint in her eye, She said;
Salutations, I am Mea Culpa, and I believe some one offered
me a free
drink or two.
After which She walks (with feline like movements) over
to a empty
table, picking a chair that faces the door and rests
against the wall.
An expectant smile appeared on Her face and She sat down
Watching the bar, I noticed a powerfully built Dark Elf,
dressed completely in
Red Daedric armor, and very handsome, so being a girl
I wanted to know more and
walked up to him. Good day to you Sir, I said, would
it be possible for this
mere female to buy you a drink?
After the customary exchanges of identity, I realized
that this was "The
Balefire", you know the one that's renowned in all of
Tamriel as the Mercenary
for hire for anything, which only made it more of a challenge
to me, so putting
my mouth where my heart is, I said, would you be able
to spare some time, and
show me some moves with that "big sword" of yours?
"A pleasure, M'Lady. Fascinating name, and one I
have heard ere this.
Well, some count me as well-versed in long weapons.
I would not call
myself a master, though, albeit 'tis true that I remain
innumerable erstwhile foes are not. These days
I favor the two-handed
claymore, as you can see...for fighting, anyway.
I have some skill in
other long weapons, as well, however. Choice of
weapons oft depends on the
type of engagement, of course. We mercenaries are
fond of saying 'the
right tool for the job', and this is true, mark you,
of *all* kinds of
sparring, as well as more deadly strife. Of course,
the length of the
weapon is much less important than how it is used."
He raised his tankard
to his lips; it almost seemed he was trying to hide a
"If sparring is what you seek, M'Lady, I can accommodate
you. In deference
to our host Elfiran, though, the common room may not
be the best venue.
Would outside suit you better, or would the privacy of
my room upstairs be
more appropriate, think you?"
Well, I'll tell you, my cheeks where beginning to warm
up, and a rosy glow
appeared all over my body, Gods, just the aroma of this
man made my hormones do
"Well, I do say, you have a way with words, Sir"
I felt my neck and my cheeks go hot and I just knew that
under this great
but painful suntan there was a gargantuan blush spreading
all over me.
Balefire drew another measure from the keg of ale, and
looked seriously at
his companion. The obvious blush was intriguing,
given that Mea Culpa
seemed to be a very martial sort of woman.
"'Tis kind of you to say so, M'Lady. I make no pretense
to the eloquence
of a bard, but the study of the Art, of Magicka, necessarily
leads to a
certain care and precision in language, at least.
An error in a spell
could cause significant embarrassment, if not outright
danger. You may
have heard some of the tales about apprentice mages..."
"And yes the right tool often makes the job more pleasurable."
"I thought you might agree with me on that. "'Tis
one of the first lessons
an experienced...ah...tool-user learns." The armored
Dark Elf Warmage
settled into a position as comfortable as his greaves
would allow, and
draped his cloak carefully, ensuring quick access to
staff or swords.
I noticed that Balefire sat down next to me and I wondered,
Balefire noticed a certain look of anxiety, but decided
it must be natural
caution from a warrior when another sat nearby.
He tried to appear as
unthreatening as possible, knowing as he did that it
was essentially a
doomed attempt. At his best, Balefire's mere presence
was a fell one.
I watched him conjure another barrel of ale and once more,
my goblet was
refilled, which prompted me to say;
"But surely Sir, it would not do to get an innocent girl
like me tipsy
afore a bit of sparring" I said with a twinkle in my
eye, looking at the
refilled wine goblet and being quite impressed at the
dishwater that appeared in a keg at the table.
"Certes, I have never been one to let the fruit of the
vine or the field
do my job for me, nor any part of it. You seem
to be in...", he cast an
appreciative eye over her form, "...remarkably good shape.
Surely a bottle
-- or two -- of that fine Elf-made wine would not make
you tipsy. I would
offer you some of this excellent dark ale, but you seem
to be regarding it
with some distaste. I can assure you that it is
some of the best Elfiran
has to offer."
I managed to find a piece of carrot that was a little
on the big side
and proceeded to nibble on that, never taking my eyes
In a very low voice I said "a Claymore you say, well
I have never
trained with such a large weapon before but I'm willing
to learn" after
all a girl can never know enough.
He answered with a smile "A claymore, yes, the two-handed
variety. I know of a
distant plane where another sort of claymore is wielded,
basket-hilted weapon. For war, I favor the Tamriel
claymore because it has
both sharp edges and weight. A good compromise
weapon for quests when one
knows not what sort of foes one will meet. The
lighter edged weapons are
less effective against, for example, skeletal warriors.
"For other types
of...ah...sparring, however, other tools are preferable.
If you insist on instruction with the claymore, I will
be happy to be of
service, but I had another, rather more blunt, weapon
Sufficiently long, I believe, for its purpose...especially
if wielded with
skill. Timing is very important. And matching
one's stroke speed with
that of one's partner. Recovery, too, is important...the
better, generally. 'Tis true that Twilight, if
she arrives as expected,
would be happier if I gave you instruction in the claymore,
knows where she is at the moment. You, however,
are close to...ah...hand."
Unfortunately at that time some of the previously imbibed
beer got the
better of me and a slight but to my ears a noisy "BRRRRRRP"
Balefire gallantly ignored Mea Culpa's brief lapse.
Likely she had been
drinking some inferior, overly gassy beer. Little
wonder she seemed to
shudder when he drew another tankardful of ale, quaffed
it, and drew
himself another. He tapped the keg to check its
level, and was reassured
to find that less than half was gone.
By now I was sure that my face would be as red as Balefire's
quickly stuck my face over the stew bowl and pretended
"I am heartened by your evident enjoyment of Elfiran's
stew, M'Lady. I
rarely eat when I am drinking, but you certainly seem
to be a living
endorsement for the quality of the Angry Porcupine's
menu. Have you been
off on a quest somewhere, perhaps, and not been able
to get high-quality
meals?" he said with a glimmer of laughter in his red
"I would certainly like to hear more about your background,
about your recent travels. 'Tis a bit noisy here
in this common room...of
course, that is as it should be in a well-run tavern.
Perhaps you would
prefer to come with me to my room, where we could converse
-- and do a bit
of sparring, perhaps -- in a more private environment?
However, a girl gotta keep on keeping on, and I promptly
sat up straight
with the faint hope that he might notice my rather low
cuirass, "You are a most entertaining fellow" I said
"can you do other
tricks than moving barrels ?" this with a coy smile on
"Ah, M'Lady, I am an experienced Archmage. The
tricks with the coins and
the ale keg are mere amusements. I am honored that
you find these minor
examples of the Art entertaining, but I can assure you
that I have many
other tricks that would amaze and delight you.
I cam make the earth move,
and a sky full of sparks flash, and rivers of...ah...liquid
pour forth when
all was dry before. Some of my colleagues have
said that my skills in the
Art lean too much toward Destruction, but that is because
they are only
aware of my more public demonstrations of the Art.
In private, I have any
number of 'tricks' that I'm sure you would find delightful.
If you have
much magicka ability, I could even teach you my Cantrip
of Constant Stamina
Regeneration...a handy one for some types of sparring,
as you can
Balefire's fiery eyes seemed to have increased in their
although his expression remained controlled. He
took off his right
gauntlet and reached for her hand. "Let me see
if I can feel how much
Magicka ability you have. Well, well...except for
the sword callouses, you
have exceptionally soft hands. Rather like satin..."
By now I was totally lost, is this what they mean when
the say " I don't
know if I'm coming or going?"
I don't know, but I've always been impressed by eloquent
speech and such
manners,from a Dark Elf yet.
He asks me to make a decision, oh how cruel life can
be, but really what
is there to decide a possibility of ..... can I say it,
happiness or nothing!
Decision.....well I am an Elf so what is there to consider
except the past.
Balefire watched impassively as a torrent of emotion washed
young warrior's face. Inwardly pleased that she
was taking his advice at
least somewhat to heart, he let no shadow of emotion
betray his hope for
what her decision would be. He took another sip
of ale, set down the
tankard, and flexed his shoulder muscles. Strange,
how tight they had
become. Outside the tavern, a horse's steps came
nearer, the sound barely
registering on his consciousness, but noticed all the
"M'Lord, it would be my pleasure to retire with you at
"Oh Julianos,save me" I thought I'm beginning to talk
However I summoned what strength and courage I had left
and put on my
"Hero" face and replied tersely "Lead on sir am your
"Is it so, indeed?" He murmured so none but she could
hear. "I, then,
shall be your willing teacher. Thus are fates changed,
M'Lady. So be it."
Never NEVER, I said to my self has Mea Culpa Lost a Battle
this quickly and all
without a single moment of combat.
Meanwhile my "Little voice was telling me, make sure
that he has a
proper scabbard you don't want to get unduly marked"
But I wasn't listening to THAT, I was completely taken
over by his
rhetoric about patience, destruction and his incredible
just seem to lift me of my feet.
Thirstily, I drank the wine and was surprised to see
it was all gone,
but oh that wonderful man refilled it for me, "can he
read my mind" I
wondered, this is all so far removed from what I am or
rather what I
Maybe there is truth in that old wives tale, behind every
stands a good man.
For the God's sake Mea, shut up dribbling, what are you
a fighter or
some love stricken old maid.
Grasping his staff more strongly, Balefire watched the
play of thought and
emotion in Mea's eyes. He reached down and picked
up the tankard, draining
the last swallow. The tankard disappeared.
My heart answered, does it really matter what you are,
be happy, you
know it has been a long rough road, so enjoy a moment
of peace and
At that I finished my last goblet and looked at Balefire
and yes my
heart opened to him as our eyes met, and my very soul
seem to entwine in
those ruby red pools of knowledge.
Getting all my courage roused up I linked my arm through
his " Gosh, I
never noticed that elven steel and daedric went so well
Clamping her arm gently but firmly in his, he raised
his staff and began
the spell to teleport them both to his room above.
He hesitated as a draft
reached him, and the door of the inn swung open.
There in the doorway, dusty but still resplendent in
Ebony armor, dark hair
flying like a banner in the wind and deep dark eyes ablaze,
legendary mercenary and mage, storied mistress of stealth
Protector of Anticlere, Balefire's long-time comrade
(and, it was rumored,
more...). A gesture almost too swift for the eye
to follow, and she was
juggling three daggers. Faster they flew, and faster,
until they seemed a
razor-edged ring revolving through her hands. A
blue-green aura of magicka
built up around her, glowing steadily brighter.
Power crackled in the air
and the inn's patrons stared as the hair rose on their
arms and necks.
"Hail, Lord Balefire. Well met in Vanshire."
Her calm, almost soft tones
belied the blatant promise of death surrounding her.
incredibly, redoubled their speed until they faded in
and out of
visibility. "Were you going somewhere?"
For some unknown reason, a feeling of defeat came over
me and then.....
the door, it opened, well that by it self is not unusual,
happened next is. There She stood, I knew instinctively
who she was,
nobody can look that good after coming through the worst
dust storm one
Balefire coolly regarded Twilight as she stood just inside
the open tavern
door, the very embodiment of deadly force kept barely
in check. He briefly
entertained, but quickly discarded, the notion of raising
a Shield spell.
Instead, he stood unmoving, still firmly clasping Mea
Culpa's arm, and with
his Teleport spell half-finished. He fixed his
unwavering gaze on his
lovely but deadly fellow mercenary, but spoke not a word.
So this is Twilight, I thought, well we shall see what
the future brings.