Ebony and Snow Chapter 1 Part 8

No sooner had the bear pelts been delivered, Deanathala was once off again on Guild business. It seemed that Great White, a stag of some legendary status had been spotted in the marshes to the North of Morthal. Several guild members based out in the wild had heard many rumours about is sighting. Rumoured to be over 3.5 meters tall, with large white antlers crowning its majestic head, its body was covered in pristine white fur. As white as the first winter snow, it is rumoured to have some magical property. Rumoured as no one has yet come close to it.

‘No one until now,’ thought Deana silently. She picked the bounty notice off the board in the guild, only to be met by cat whistles and derogatory remarks by the predominantly male fraternity. Taking the banter in good cheer she gave a theatrical bow and blew her audience a kiss from her rich mauve lips.2013-02-09_00002

 

‘Please no more,’ pleaded an exhausted Vilja as she trudged through the mire North of Morthal, her immaculate blonde locks in a mess of sweat and sludge.

‘Perhaps we should rest for the night Deana,’ added Lydia. Her steel armour covered in swampy grime. It has long lost its sheen. ‘The sun is almost down and the chill in the air strengthens.’

They had been travelling the mire for two days without a glimpse of the elusive white. Yes, they had seen many elks and stags, hell they had even feasted on one rather large specimen, but of Great White not whisper.

Ghostly mist was starting to rise from the almost stagnant water. It eerily settled near the surface and seemed possessed of some eldritch life, moving with no pattern or logic. The marsh, nocturnal insect life was starting to stir as the drone of mosquitoes and the light of torchbugs began to fill the air. Creatures scuttled in the reeds, while keening calls from larger animals punctuated the darkening sky.

Deana herself, her fur armour wet and not smelling too well, was also exhausted and Lydia’s suggestion seemed the best idea. Fruitless searching, especially at night, would only fray already short tempers. Zora had to be put on point, as far from Vilja as possible. She didnt take to lightly to the Nord’s laughing after Lydia fished her out from one particularly smelly sinkhole!

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Venturing until last light, they camped on a relatively dry hump of land. The only fire they could manage from the damp kindling around them was a small one, more smoke than heat. Yet they were grateful for small mercies as they once again feasted on the rich venison of yesterdays kill.

The night itself was as crisp and clear as it was cold. The constellations seemed to dance across the dark canopy above them. As the night deepened so did the nocturnal stirring of the marsh’s denizens. The clatter and clinking of the chitin exoskeletons of mud crabs joined the howling of distant wolves, yet our companions were left largely undisturbed until an hour before dawn when two over curious skeevers decided to nibble on the snoring Zora’s toes!!!

Day 3 of their search was wet. The heavens opened with a vengeance and even Deana was starting to lose hope, its flame waning as the soddenness of her clothing increased. It was at her lowest ebb that Zora signalled to the party to lay low, she also motioned Deana to the front.

They crouched behind a cluster of red topped reeds, common to the area. Zora indicated for silence by pressing a gauntleted finger to her pursed lips. With her eyes she invited Deana to look beyond the reeds and, as her violet eyes locked on what was before her, her breath left her.

 

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There it was, The Great White. It grazed gracefully on a small island surrounded by leaf less gnarled trees. The stories in the Huntsman did not do the majesty of the beast justice. Its white, muscled flanks moved in perfect harmony as it nuzzled its way through the grass. Its proud antlered head seemed to roar defiance to the pouring rain. Its legs looked strong and powerful, clearly capable off leaving a Dunmer behind after a few powerful thrusts.

Without daring to breathe, and keeping one eye at all times on Great White, Deana unlimbered her yew wood longbow. She carefully reached around her back to grab at one specific arrow she had in her quiver. An arrow she herself had manufactured out of the branch of an ash tree. It was fletched with the black feathers gathered from one of the Hagravens from Orphan Rock. Furthermore Deana had taken the arrow to be blessed by Danica before she left Whiterun, she wanted the kill to have the nobility the great beast deserved. She tensed her hand on the bowstring as she nocked the arrow, its barbed tip dripping with rain. The creaking of the taut bowstring as she pulled seemed to sound like a peal of thunder to her ears.

Watching Great White to see if it had registered anything, Deana was grateful for the pouring rain. It was masking any noise the pulling bow was making. With a prayer to Hircine on her lips she slowly released her breath at the same time as she released the string…

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(Apologies for eye. Forgot to take off HUD before capture)

The arrow sped away through the pouring rain. What in reality was a simple heartbeat, seemed an age to Deana. As the arrow neared its target, Great White seemed to look towards Deana, its brown orbs locking onto the dark elf’s violet ones. What majesty in that look she thought. What strength, waht pride… Her reverie was cut short by the death knell of the great beast as the arrows barbed point tore through skin and sinew. Great White, its flawless coat now marred by an ugly red rivulet of blood, took one unsteady step backwards before throwing its head back and letting out a last, defiant keen. It then buckled onto its front legs, struggling valiantly to stand as its lifeblood mingled with the rain. Its antlered head slowly drooped and to Deana’s eyes it looked like a crown slipping off the head of a long reigning King, and gradually came to rest on the wet earth.

Deana’s eyes were moist with tears, moved by the majesty with which the beast had met its end.

 

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