23 Evening Star, 2E 325
Captain Tael-Muarsei knew the name of the tip of the silhouetted city as Necrom, some hive of religious zealotry to the dark elves. Even partially veiled as it was behind the the sheer crag that dominated this part of the coastline, it nevertheless stood as an unnerving sight to behold.
Monolithic piousness, it explained the chill he felt in his bones. The Captain cared to know no more of the city’s function, for his intent found itself solely, and hungrily, set upon the small slave vessel flying the imprint of a twisted tree with warped roots upon her brown sails.
The cargo ship moved at a leisurely pace, just as the note portended, crouched low and petty and muddy against the black-brown backdrop where the ocean met the earth. To lesser eyes it would scarce warrant any attention at all, but there was a reason as to why Tael-Muarsei was as reputed as he was, and that reason was not blind vengeance alone.
His reptilian eyes could spy even the most cunning of vermin aboard the most meagre of tugs.
In the fading embers of the western-setting sun, Captain Tael-Muarsei fingered the cracked and jagged surface of the delicate sapphire that had been so inexpertly socketed into the pommel of his Akaviri blade. Propped upon his hind quarter aboard the Eastern Venture, the Tscaesci elected to watch on even after his quarry had been spotted in an attempt to make out his own elegant reflection within the rise and fall of the shifting waters’ mirror, but to no avail.
The mist, although waning, revealed only murky depths, ill-fitting to bask in even the lowly light of a candle, let alone one as splendid as he.
With subdued frustration, the captain busied himself with the toying of his blade. Black and bronze, his latest treasure wore a sheath that wove a chaotic web of thin tendrils and looked to be carved from the very richest of dark wood.
A richness he diligently sought out with sleek, golden digits.
In truth he knew little of the forge, but what he did know was that it would help pay for his retirement. After this haul however he would not want for gold even onto his last breath.
Most would look upon the addition of the ugly, dirt-infected light blue gem to be unseemly in the face of a blade quite so magnificent as Tael-Muarsei’s.
The Tscaesci himself would have found himself in agreement a few short months ago.
However a few short months ago felt as if it existed many brighter worlds away, ones where the Potentate still lived, and Tael Muarsei’s hunt for those responsible - this morally depraved “Tong” - was an unknown concept.
That is what he knew them as, though now he and his crew openly declared them jewelry. Ninety-nine trophies attested to that.
His hunt had carried him far, and had earned him more than his fair share of black elf trophy ears thanks to the various writs and tips from his source however... and there was always this exception, one particular group had eluded him.
One particular group that now squatted, fearful and tired, aboard a vessel barely able to stay afloat.
That was to change tonight, and beloved Bright-Eyes would squeal and hiss with joy at the blanket Tael-Muarsei would sow for her out of the skin of these slaver dogs.
In spite of the darkness to which this new era existed, Tael-Muarsei had found adoration, and love, among the heaps of intestines and gore. He had rescued her, as he had rescued some many, from the sadistic clutches of the Tong.
He recalled fondly and acutely that he had found this love in the bleakest of locale, and just so found it again aboard the deck of the ship upon which he now stood. It was as if the journey here had slipped away the memory as if it were sand upon the shore, only to wash up once more amidst this lingering mist.
Strange, the serpent considered as the leathery lines of his chest and throat began to swell with a glee that would not disturb his crew. Of course, how could he forget. Bright-Eyes was the reason behind the sapphire, the sea-blue gem sang near-forgotten reminders of his marsh borne love.
That Tael-Muarsei would lessen his own splendour to see but the smallest hint of a smile from his beloved spoke no meagre measure of words.
He remembered now, how could he even forget?
With a serpent hiss he thanked the breeze that carried with it the strange richness to him, and as it washed furtively across the mist-veiled waves it painting it in a delicate, sterile mauve.
Odd, but the captain looked up to check, and indeed it was the work of dusk - for the sky shared the same hue. No trickery through light was at play, just the quiet hours that always came unexpectedly between dusk and dawn.
Had the pleasant sensation not been potentially emanating from that foul basket of fools, Tael-Muarsei would have happily considered this a perfect moment, stood where he was and basking in the thought of Bright-Eyes and himself.
Instead he attended to the grim task at hand, as had been his task for over a long, bloody year.
Turning his attentions to the latest acquired writ, Tael-Muarsei gripped the torn scrap of parchment before balling it up and casting it into the mist below. He watched as it was devoured by the parting miasma, his iris’ spreading and narrowing with a knowing satisfaction, well aware that this particular hunt was finally near an end.
The serpent captain erected himself and slithered across the the deck of Eastern Venture with a well-acquired righteousness. His amber eyes were slits, narrowed and watchful of his remaining crew; each of them undying in their loyalty.
None looked to him, but all could see him, and he knew that he was always on their minds. He was pleased, proud even, to share his ship with such loyal and appreciative kin.
Befitting Tscaeci, and befitting his ship.
They were few, but effective, if only for that reason alone. From the the time he has been unleashed upon the Morag Tong, less than a quarter remained of those who had served under the Tael-Muarsei before him.
The lesser snake he had mantled so supremely.
Now not but a whisper sounded against him, and whispers he could blot out. In the silence that came from it, he vowed to avenge all superior blood spilt in the name of this vendetta, starting with the loss of the beloved Potentate Versidue-Shaie.
Deep, aggravated breaths hissed from Tael Muarsei’s rattling chest, sounding above the caressing black waves as he made his way to the ship’s wheel.
As he moved, the darkening carnelian glow of the eve slipped across his body, drinking in the gold of the captain’s scales before it could fall behind the stifling monolithic elven city that sat upon the horizon.
The laughable crawl of the decrepit Waterbug gave the exquisite serpent only fleeting amusement. The boat swayed with typical dark elf arrogance as it trailed lazily across the brown waters.
The first time he had cornered them, a moment of blindness had earned the rats all the time they needed to scurry into the cracks of Auridon - and as it would appear, onto a ship bound for Telvannis.
He would not make the same mistake twice
Black was the trail the Waterbug left, the disturbed muck of the shore making it appear slick with ink. The blackness sprayed out behind the ship. melding with the grey-white waves that rippled to trail the Waterbug in an increasingly graceless fashion.
Perhaps the parting mists that painted the surface waters in their muted shades did much the same to the wits of the elves aboard; they sailed too close to the rocks with the wind at their starboard side, willing them stubbornly to the same fatal shore.
Tael-Muarsei would see to it that what was willed, may be.
Lifting his hand, he gave the call to launch the attack.
Thirty seconds, that was all that it would take before the they were upon the villains; thirty more before they were bathing in their blood.
Even amidst the dullness of Morrowind, the intensity of Eastern Fortune in motion brought renewed life to this ash-ridden hole. As the sails caught the wind and hurtled her onwards, it caused the previously muted light to ricochet from black ripple to ripple and cast a dancing illumination across Tael-Murasei’s superb form.
Unfortunately what was bestowed upon the rightful Tscasci was also afforded to the grey, ugly hull of the Waterbug -- another affront the Captain would see to rights once victory was his.
Clearly this ‘Waterbug’ had once belonged to whatever dirty-blooded savages passed for royalty upon this fire-parched spit of earth, but the design clearly belonged to Akavir, many sorry years before. Since that time, the ornate wooden carvings of dragons battling their own tails had worn away; their eyes eaten by rot, their maws eroded into toothlessness.
Now what was left of it: a poor name, dark wood, stained darker still by waters belonging to a land in which Tael-Muarsei held nothing but scorn.
In stark contrast did Eastern Venture, a younger twin in many respects, rise across the mists.
Even undermanned, his ship would burst the Waterbug, and from that wound would spill his fortune of liquid coin, washing sanguine across the deck.