vrijdag 8 februari 2013

The Mine

Seven days earlier...

“...And ever since it's been a nightmare.”
The miner, trembling, wiped cold sweat from his brow after he concluded his story to the two riders before him. Still in the saddle of her grey mare, Triskele shifted slightly as she wriggled her foot, resting in the stirrup. Her cold eyes gave nothing away as she shot her companion a look, pale lips pursed. Said companion, a Dunmer with dusky skin and an attire that seemed to consist out of grey rags and old leather, much favoured by moths, stirred slightly on top of his exceptionally scrawny garron as he returned her gaze. The nod between them could hardly be perceived, and then they both dismounted at once. The miner rubbed his hands together anxiously, looking between the two as they grabbed certain things from their saddlebags – pouches, some flasks, bolts, lockpicks, arrows, and more.
“That's...That's it? You don't want some rest first, or food? I could ask my wife to--”
The Dunmer interrupted the trembling man, the light of the rising moon reflecting upon his one black eye as he turned around. The other eye, for some reason, was hidden under grey cloth, wrapped around the Dark Elf's head, making the wild, black locks of his hair sprout from under and around the fabric wildly, as untamed as he was.
“Good man, do you want your workers to enter the mine tomorrow or not?”
“I—Well, yes.”
“Then we'll get on with it. Just pay us when we get out.”
The miner gaped after the two as they walked past him without further ado, into the dark shaft that led to the mine. The hinges of the iron gate rattled as the Elf pulled them open, and then a cold smack sounded through the night's quiet. Then the miner heard nothing further, save the pounding of his heart.

The two stood still at the first turn. Triskele strapped her bow from her back, running a hand along the taut string as her companion raised a small torch over their heads. Further down the mine, an eerie light seemed to shine on its own. Triskele perked a dark eyebrow with a smirk, and the Dunmer clacked his tongue.

“Well, there you have it.”
Triskele ignored his jesting demeanor, like she usually did, and drew an arrow from the quiver on her back as she stepped in front of him, in a crouch. Behind her, the Dunmer unsheathed his slender blade – it was by far his most prized possession, although that didn't mean much, in his case.
“The fools dug too deep, and now they've thumped 'em awake. Bad for them, good for us.”
Triskele took another step, not looking back at him as she mumbled her words.
“Will you be quiet?”
The Dunmer snorted, but abided all the same. Quiet as shadows the two made their way down the tunnels. After a while, they reached a steep and sudden descent, and it was the Dunmer who carefully stepped to the edge, leaning forward to look down. The ground had collapsed, now forming a pit in the middle of the tunnel. As he peeked down, the Elf sniffed. As to not break silence, he shot her a look that said it all. Triskele crouched down on hands and knees and shuffled over, looking over the edge as well. What she saw below, made her clench her jaw. The whisper she sent her friend's way did not overreach the gutteral, chilling sounds that could be heard from the darkness below – sighs, moans, groans and shuffling. The sound of death.
“There's at least ten.”
The Dunmer sighed, clenching his hand around the hilt of his slender sword as he squatted down on his ankles, ready to jump down. Triskele did the same.
“We don't get paid enough.”

In the east, the pale light of dawn touched the nightsky with gentle, rose-coloured rays. The miner rubbed his eyes, anxiously pacing back and forth in front of the mine's entrance. Prickling doubts and terrible guilt shot through him as the sun rose. He had sent two people into their deaths. And what was more bothersome – his problem was most likely far from fixed. Just as the miner turned around to walk the short distance to the village and confess to his workers the situation looked more grim than ever, the iron gate behind him squeeked and slammed shut, making the man cry out in shock.Wide-eyed, the miner saw the two companions ascend from the shaft. Both the Nord and the Dunmer looked tired, covered in scabs, bruises, cobwebs and bone dust. The black-haired female, who had only three arrows left in her quiver, stepped forward and tossed something in front of the miner – a particularly old and rusty helmet. As it fell at his feet with a thud, the miner cried out once more. A skull fell out of the helmet, a sickly green glow still emanating from the bone. The miner shuddered and gaped at the horror, before looking in the woman's cold, blue eyes.

“Next time, don't dig too deep.”

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