Swims'Faster looked on at the fight with a slight detachment. Although he cheered just as much as the rest of the crowd when the Dunmer went down, he grew bored after seeing Zavier pushed into the pit and wandered over to the bar. After ordering a brandy and just the smell of it nauseated him, he did see the drunk Nord whisper and be palmed something from the bartender. After the short exchange, Swims'Faster walked up behind him and the unmistakable taste of skooma in the air tipped him off to the Nord's intentions.
He whispered in his ear, "Are you ssure that you want to be drinking that friend? Isn't the Orsimer keeping an eye on you to not drink? Maybe I should call him over here and make sure you're sstaying ass ssober asss you can, it iss a long trip ahead and we don't want you to fall off the wagon and ssay, be crushed by the wheels becausse of you being... incapassitated? But, if you give me the rest of your sskooma, maybe I can forget about your little sslip."
Drahff looked at the Argonian in pure spite.
Without saying a single word he hands the remaining bottle of Skooma to Swims'Faster and walks in the opposite direction to sit around the edge of the pit.
Jarek was rather annoyed by the prospect of spending any time in this hive of scum and villainy, he was also surprised by how willingly the mage allowed himself to literally be thrown to the wolves. Jarek looked the large cavernous room over and found a dark, secluded smooth rock wall, near enough to the pit to watch but not so close that he would be splattered with any blood. He backed into the corner and leaned on the wall, no thief would be able to sneak up on him and lift any of his possessions without coming straight at him. He pulled the hood of his cloak over his head finding the cave to be cold and damp, he then reached into his satchel and removed a long pipe filled with a leaf he was particularly fond of, he lit the pipe and drew in, exhaling through his nostrils. He calmly watched as the fighting intensified.
Raksada retrieved his winnings from the book keeper, who was clearly unhappy to have to give out such a large sum of money. "1000 septims" the he said with a grimace. "How'd you know he'd only take 6?"
"Lucky guess" Raksada responded. "To tell you the truth, I didn't know he was able to summon a frost atronach. He musta just got unlucky there."
He turned to face the rest of the bar, realization dawning on him that he had a fairly high amount of gold on him, and was in a room full of thieves, cutthroats, and murderers. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea... Raksada thought to himself, wondering how he was gonna keep his skin attached.
After his little chat and small extortion of the skooma from the Nord, Swims'Faster went back to the bar and his pitiful excuse for Cyrodilic Brandy and let a few drops from his skooma bottle fall into it, hoping that it would make it drinkable, he was saddened to learn that it did not. such a waste of skooma there. he thought to himself as he stood there and shook his head. He then took up his glass of brandy and threw it down on the counter, shattering it and walking away, back towards the pit, ready to jump in should Zavier look as if he needed a reprieve or if any of the hoodlums here tried to make a move on anyone else traveling with him. Raksada looked to be up to no good, but then again, few Khajiit he had ever met had ever looked particularly trustworthy, and with Raksada having "contacts" in various cities, he trusted him even less, which was very little as it was. After watching Zavier dispatch a few of the wolves and hearing the announcer saying that the fight would continue, Swims'Faster decided that the others in his party would be more than enough to step in for Zavier and went over and ordered two of the best mead the thugs here had, [i}Black Briar, strange name to call your product[/i] he thought, and went to introduce himself to the other Imperial in the group.
"You carry yourself well, for a man of the Legion," Swims'Faster said as he walked towards the man in the corner, "How long were you in? I didn't know they let the men keep their armor after their tour was over."
Swims'Faster harnessed his spear onto the back of his armor, easily reachable should a fight break out down here and the man here had a good idea to sit here in the back so that his flanks were protected and only a few of the thugs in the main cavern could get to him at a time.
"I think that you need to loossen up a bit here, Imperial, you're going to be getting your frown liness earlier than the rest of your kind if you do, Swimss'Fasster is the name, and I ssaw that drinking iss your game of choisce." Swims'Faster offered one of the tankards in his hand to the Imperial and took a sip of his own. It was surprisingly good he had to admit, but still nothing compared to the sweetness of a few drops of skooma in good brandy. He then smiled, or at least tried to, the muscles in his face would only allow him to bare his teeth, but he had gotten better at it the past few months here in Skyrim, a strange custom he still believed but he'd learned that it would still get him farther than gold in some places.
Jarek was enjoying his solitude when the Argonian from the party approached, while he would have preferred to smoke his pipe alone, he didn't mind talking with the Argonian, definitely better than having some random thug approach him.
The Argonian asked him about his service, surely curious considering how Jarek had presented his bracers the other night. "It depends on who you are in with, whether you pay for it and how your service record looks. I was given my bracers as a gift, Legate Rikke, well she always used to say 'even if you aren't in the Legion, you carry the spirit of a Legionnaire', I guess the bracers signify that. I was in for a few years, only been out for a few months, I couldn't see eye to eye with the leadership on certain aspects of this war and I was tired of getting my men killed for a cause that a lot of people deem lost."
The Argonian went on to say that he should loosen up and handed Jarek a tankard of mead and Jarek decided he could let himself drink a little, "thank you, I'm staying frosty though, maybe I'll get my frown lines early but at least I'll still be alive to get them. My name is Jarek by the way."
"Hehheh, you have ssensse of humor, you know?, Swims'Faster chuckled, "What'ss the point of getting old enough to get the red in your scales if you didn't have any fun on the way there. The journey's always better than the destination, Jarek." He peered out into the crowd, sipping his mead as he searched for any potential trouble in the crowd, "Though...I have to admit...the last few years have not been that great of a journey," And with that he drained the last of his tankard and set it down on the cave floor, and leaned against the cold wall.
"From what I see of thesse thugss, I don't think they have the manpower to take us out if we fight in battle groupss," His voice then lowered to a whisper, "How iss it that you prefer to kill?"
"The important thing is to know when to relax and when to be on your guard but you may be right, they don't seem to be all that impressive but I always make it a point to avoid men who are willing to get into an arena with wolves, Zavier excluded, he didn't have much of a choice, these other men though, not sure if you've ever fought a crazy person but it is unnerving and something I like to avoid." Jarek looked at the arena thoughtfully, Zavier had been doing a decent job and showed prowess but he had been bitten in transit before the quest had even officially begun, that could become quite the annoyance.
Swims'Faster asked Jarek about his weapons, maybe out of curiosity, maybe he just wanted to have a better understanding of his fighting style if the time ever came when they were pitted against each other. "I prefer to keep things simple and direct, I stick with my sword: Thil. It is two-handed but since it is silver, it is light enough to wield in one if necessary, though I rarely do that unless I need the other hand for a torch or something. Crafted at the Skyforge, which is rare because Eorlund doesn't like to craft with silver, says the forge can't handle it properly, I brought him frost salts and it cooled the forge to a temperature he could work at. It is a very special weapon. That being said I think versatility is important, I carry a bow and a dagger as well."
Anoke checked the footprints, tracing their outline with his claw. Definitely a mix-match, though perhaps another few escorted them. Escort, being an understatement. Abandoning their wagon in favour of a cave doesn't sound like the logical thinking he was hoping they would have. At least the Orc was with them, though he had best go and check up. Nine forbid they're late for Sten.
Sten hated tardiness.
He gripped his spear and started into the cave, his eyes trying to catch a glimpse of anyone in the darkness. Stealth was note his forte, so he instead called out, his harsh, reptilian voice echoing around the cavern.
"Hello? Anyone? Faulgor?"
He dropped into a defensive stance and held his spear ready, his throwing knives loosened and ready.
Upon entering the bar, Faulgor kept his awareness at it's peak, surrounded by assorted criminals and malcontents, the sort you don't want to let your guard down around. He wouldn't dare touch food or drink from within, precautious as he was, and decided against joining the crowd around the ring. Seeing an empty table along the walls, one that would allow him full view of the bar. Pulling a chair from beneath the table, he motioned to sit down but realized how poorly-fashioned the chair was and considered the likelihood of wood rot. Suitable, the chair may be, for some of the smaller patrons, though it was definitely not for the Orc. He sighed and settled for a standing position, crossing his arms and leaning back against the wall, he surveyed the bar as though he were back at Sten's inn. The air was thick and musky, due to the fact that it was a full bar with many mouths breathing, taking in any bit of clean air and expelling the thick, rank, and potentially diseased waste. Faulgor felt luckily that many of them weren't near him, not that he felt that the other patrons were beneath him, he just preferred the thinner air. Soon, it occured to him that the one called Raksada had just acquired a great deal of money. Hopefully the rest of the patrons would be wise to keep level-headed, for Faulgor detested the idea of sullying his blade and body with unnecessary bloodshed.
Raksada noticed Faulgor sitting at a table along the wall, and figured that would be as good a place as any in this cavern to sit while the wagon got repaired. "I don't believe we've been formally introduced yet." He said, sitting down beside him, back to the wall. "My name is Raksada. I'm likely going to be responsible for getting us past the locked doors... And maybe getting some extra coin on the side." Raksada grinned at that, and turned to face the rest of the bar.
After the match ended, Zavier climbed up the side of the pit as the pack was called back by the kennel master. The breton from earlier was the one helping him up. "Good match," He said, "That kept the customers happy, and, more importantly, kept them drinking and gambling. You don't have to worry about that wagon wheel, it should be repaired soon. Go to the bar, have a drink, my treat." He smiled. Zavier shrugged, the wound on his left arm was still burning, he'd need to get to his bag, he had a potion of minor healing in there, that should take away the worst of the wound.
He made his way back to the wagon with all the grace that he could muster. A quick check under the seat showed that his bag was where he had left it, and a quick check through the bag revealed that nothing was taken. After rummaging for another moment, Zavier found what he was looking for, the potion. Uncorking it, he quickly downed the red liquid. He made a mental note to reread some books of restoration magic when he made it to Whiterun.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, the name's Faulgor," the Orc said in introduction, looking down at Raksada. The young Kahjiit had opted to sit at the table while the Orc remained standing, his eyes now on the fighting pit as Zavier pulled himself out. "Seems you've profited more from the fight than he," Faulgor said to Raksada, chucking as he gestured towards the wounded mage. "I'm a bit surprised the bookie didn't decide to take you to the back room to hand over your earnings, which is quite a hefty sum. Most often, large payouts in places like these would earn you a knife in your back and a long walk off a short pier."
"Craziess are ssome of the mosst exsciting fights I've ever encountered. Very unpredictable, very dangerouss, very adrenaline pumping." Swims'Faster then back to the main part of the cave and towards the entrance,where hoped to get a breath of fresh air, when he saw a shadow creeping along in the darkness. His first instinct was to bring his spear to bear and called out to the darkness. "Hello, who'ss there?"
In the back of his mind, he readied a summoning spell to bring forth a Dremora Lord, the most powerful spell in his repertoire, into this plane, though it would certainly drain him of all magicka he had.
"Aye, I did make a tidy profit on that fight." Raksada said, watching the mage walk out of the cavern. "I'll have to make it up to him, somehow." Zavier had put his ass on the line for them, without asking anything in return.
"Anyway, Faulgor, the knife in the back is kinda why I came over and introduced myself..." He said nervously. "I think anyone thinking about putting one in mine will think twice if there's two of us."
"When you've got me, it's more correct to say there's five of us," Faulgor said, unsmilingly. "I doubt you'll get much trouble, if any, from this crowd. You're not dead yet, so that shows these people have at least some humility." The Orc could hear the nervousness in Raksada's voice, and he thought it understandable. Very few things made the Orc nervous, but given the tensility the large sack of gold with legs sitting next to him brought about made Faulgor just a bit on edge. "So," he began speaking to the Kahjiit, attempting to ease a bit of tension he gave off. "How long have you been practicing archery? And are you any good?"
After a few moments Zavier felt well enough to go back in after his companions until the wagon wheel was replaced. Once back inside, amid the press of bodies and smell of stale cheap ale, he found some of his companions had settled down at a nearby table. Zavier pulled up a chair and too his own chair. He simply sat quietly, listening to the conversation between the orc and the khajiit.
"I've been practicing archery for just over 5 years." Raksada responded. "I got my first bow shortly after escaping from Raven Rock, on Solstheim. I'd say I'm a pretty good shot, although there's always room for improvement."
"Ah, Zavier. How is your arm doing?" He asked, turning toward the mage. "That looked like a nasty hit."
"It was bad," Zavier admitted, "But I've lived through worse. I can't wait to put this place behind us and continue on to Whiterun. Anyway, it looks like we're going to be here for a little while longer, when is the next match anyway? Perhaps I can make some gold here."
"I'm not sure, but if I'm not careful, it'll be me fighting in it..." Raksada said, still keeping an eye on the patrons. "If you see me heading to the betting tables in another place like this, stop me. Gold is hazardous to your health in these kinds of places."
"So is steel and fire." Zavier said, flexing his hands. "I will do my best to keep an eye on you, though. I wouldn't want to lose so valuable a business partner."
"That too." Raksada said. "Speaking of business partner..."
He handed a bag of gold to Zavier, under the table and out of sight. "That's half of what I made on your fight. Should be enough to cover the cost of the wheel."
The two Nord Whips cautiously walk into the cavern, after looking around for a while they spot Faulgor at his table. They make their way over quite hastily..
"The wagon is fixed, where are the rest of you?"
"Well, we have Raksada and Zavier here," Faulgor said to the Nord whips, going down the list of associates. "Drahff, Jarek, and the Argonian, Swim Fast or summat, should be right around here. The only one I haven't seen is Anoke - either of you seen him about?" The Orc was a little concerned that his business partner seemed to be missing from the group, though he was sure the Argonian could handle his own in a fight he couldn't be sure how Anoke would fare against a large group of them.
Swims'Faster stood at the corridor that led to the entrance, following the shadow and advancing in a crouch. As he neared the shadow, he jumped up and was prepared to stab through the silent shadow, but at the last second pulled out of the plunge, instead causing sparks on the floor of the cave.
"Ah, Anoke, it'ss you, come with me, it'ss relatively safe here. The wagon is being fixsed, but Zsavier was thrown to the wolvess, literally. He iss alright, but he got a nip on hisss arm. Follow me." Swims'Faster showed Anoke to the main cavern, filling him in on what had happened since he was separated. Two Nords with the troupe of thugs holding them walked by and he began speaking in the Argonian tongue,"They don't sstike me as particularly experienced as anything but , though they outnumber us. Everyone is inside, including your Orsimer friend, though I haven't been given the chance to speak with him."
When they got to the main cavern, Swims'Faster and Anoke both arrived as the two Nords were leaving the table. They then sat down at the table and spoke to Zavier,
"How iss your arm, Zsavier? Anoke here followed us and jusst arrived."
The whip of second wagon"Yeah he came in here looking for you, not too sure where he could have gotten to... "
"Lets get the rest and be on our way, we got lost time to make up for."
"It's well enough." Zavier said, rising from the table after discreetly sliding the bag of gold Raksada passed to him into his main bag. "I will need to buy a new suit in Whiterun though. Now then, it appears that wagon has been repaired. We should be on our way."
"I think we sshould alsso ride in both wagonsss as equally asss posssible, I have a feeling that may have been the problem that firsst broke the wagon. And Orssimer, what iss your name?" Swims'Faster extended his fist, dagger in hand and pointed away from the orc, a gesture he had heard in Morrowind being a traditional greeting between warriors.
"Aye, I can see how that would be a good idea." Raksada said, in response to Swims'Faster's comment about evenly distributing the weight. "As all of my gear is in the first wagon, I'll ride in that one." 'Bout time we get moving. Some of these cutthroats look like they might be thinking about making a grab for the gold, regardless of Faulgor and the others being nearby. He thought, grateful to finally be on the road again.
"I'll ride with you then." Zavier said, slinging his bag over his shoulder with his good arm. In his off left hand, he prepared a rout spell, should anyone think to try to pursue them. At the entrance, Zavier stopped and let the others pass him by. There was one last thing he was going to do before he left this place, he decided. He did one quick check to make sure that the others were near the wagons, ready to go. After that, he prepared one of his most powerful illusion spells.
Jarek began to move towards the door, it looked as if everyone would be leaving momentarily, looks like we'll get out of here without any further complications. Which was good, Jarek could think of plenty of ways to better waste a nice morning.
The Orc, dagger in hand, greeted the Argonian in the same fashion as he made his reply, "My name is Faulgor Boruk, though Faulgor will do just as well." Seeing a familiar Argonian right behind Swims'Faster, he welcomed him with a nod, "Anoke, glad you could find your way here, and remain in one piece." The Orsimer turned his attention back to Swims'Faster, "Now, I'd hate to be rude, especially after having just been introduced, but I must ask, do you know of that drunkard's whereabouts?"
"Oh, him, he'ss over there, by the bar, last I ssaw, he wass acting sstrangely though, kept licking hiss lipss and staring at each drink that passsed him by. Kept twitching asss if he wanted a drink but everytime hiss hand got above the bar, he went pale asss a ssheet. Didn't sseem that sscared of taking a drink lasst night." Swims'Faster then left the cave and at the entrance, he prepared a spell in his head to summon a daedra to send back inside the cave for fun.
Swims-Faster got off the wagon and started coming near the entrance of the den. "Forgetting something?" Zavier asked, momentarily stopping his spell. "I'd get it quickly, whatever it is. Things are about to get quite...heated in there."
"Oh, I was jusst thinking of loosssing a Dremora Lord I know on them possssibly," Swims'Faster whispered, just in case any of their "hosts","I thought that it would give them the training they need to keep entertained in their pit,the sstrongesst being the only ones that come out alive, his name is Krazzsst, and he is quite fond of testing his mettle againsst the Men and Mer here. Perhaps we can combine our talentsss to create masss chaoss that only the sstrongesst will come out of, sso that we can later perhapss fight more worthy opponentsss. Ahhh, what a promissing future we might have." Swims'Faster allowed himself a short moment of imagination, before being pulled back into the present.