essay, video games

The Dark Hand

Continuing my adventures in Oblivion, I was met by an emissary of a dark organization, started to follow them and then faced some of the more interesting quests I had seen in the game. Murder can be fun.

It is while the mind rests that the worst of the nightmares of humanity gain form and haunt the winding labyrinths of memory. I had thought my time with the Mages Guild and the slaying of the necromancers — the right move, I knew it to be right — would leave me in the way of restful sleep, of a time of bless. I  imagined that before facing the reality of the world that, while wanting me to act, to kill, would not recognize my actions afterward I would have a moment of mercy. But that was not so. While I slept in the room of the Arch-Mage, now my room by right and deed, I was visited. I was recruited. I went willingly.

He called himself the Speaker of the Black Hand. This man clothed in a black hood and black clothes told me how he knew I had killed… innocents. That I had taken lives. He knew and… he didn’t care. No, that is not right. He cared, he embraced it. He went with the madness of the world, the need to kill others and.. loved it. With him, with this… “family” he spoke of, there I would find the place for me. There I would find the place I fit into the world. Before that, before I could embrace this Dark Mother he spoke of, I would need to kill a man, an innocent. For the task, he gave me a clean knife, a virgin dagger.

What was another life extinguished? For my deeds of clearing out the necromancers of killing off the King of Worms, I was rewarded but not respected. If I could not gain fame through good deeds, I would be known through my infamy, through my acts of darkness. I would make a niche in this world for myself. I would do as this stranger asked and kill another. I had killed others before. I could kill some sleeping man, some vagabond snoozing his days away.

I went to the Inn of Ill Omen. It’s title fit the task I was here to complete. The inn keeper, a Manheim_Maulhand, was quick to point me to my goal. Without me even mentioning the name, he was quick to tell me of the history of the place’s name and that “Ain’t nobody here ‘cept old Rufio”. I was in the right place. I inquired about where I might find this… old friend of mine. “His room is dowstairs, in what I like to call the Private Quarters. Use that hatch in the floor over there. But don’t expect a warm reception.” Perfect.

It was in these “Private Quarters” that I found him. He was sleeping, as Lucien had told me he would be. Before I slew him though I wanted to talk. All too often, I had taken a life without a discussion. For him, I ask him what he did. I was going to kill him anyway, but I wanted to know the why this time.

He knew I was an assassin. He knew that I wanted to kill him and, after a too short conversation, he attacked me. What was I to do at that point? He was going to fight me to the death, I needed to end him. So, I did. I left the room and the inn keeper, Manheim, if he knew anything of what had just transpired, of my killing, spoke nothing of it. He just reminded me that “And tell your friends! The Inn of Ill Omen is open for business, as always.” Yes, I thought. I was “open for business” too now.

I went back to the Arch-Mage’s room, my new place in the Arcane University. There I waited, finally falling asleep. And, just like before, Lucien found me and praised my resolve. Giving me a new dagger, he welcomed me into the Dark Brotherhood. I was to now go join my new family in the Sanctuary in Cheydinhal..

It was there, after passing through the doorway with the password of “Sanguine, my Brother”, that I presented to my new family. Their first task for me was to kill another person, this time a captain. He spends all time on his ship, I was told. My family, after I asked them about this new task, was excited for me. They each told me a new way to address this issue, of how to get to the captain in his room.

His ship was anchored in the dock of the Imperial City. Once I saw it, did some research around the ship and among the crew, I worked out how I would get in and slew this new target. I was nearly an expert at Illusion. I could just cast Invisibility on myself and walk through the door. A simple approach to a simple murder.

As I passed through the door, my spell stopped. I was visible again. And the captain saw me. I was forced to fight him in his cabin and around his table. As we spared and clashed swords with each other, his health slowly dropped. He became fatigued. I was using up my magicka too to constantly heal myself but I outlasted him. He finally died. I went out the window, casting my invisibility once again as I hit the water. I walked to the dock and left via the city gate. I went back for my next task.

They next wanted me to arrange an… accident. Subterfuge. Secrecy. Yes, this was what I wanted. I was to make sure that a collector of taxidermy would met his end via his trophy. All I needed to do was loosen some screws during a certain time period. Given my ability to hide, my now slightly increased Illusion skill, I could do this quickly. I did  this quickly. I went to the city, into the house, casting my spell as I entered, as I did as I was told. No mess, no fuss. I was in and out within minutes.

Next, I was to go back to prison. This time, I was to kill the man who has taunted me months before. Yes, of course I will I told Vicente_Valtieri. I didn’t care now that he was a… vampire. We were both killers. He was keeping my secrets, I was keeping his. I would do this thing for him. I would go back into the prison, pass the guards and kill this man. He was to be executed for his crimes anyway. What was a few days, months or even years early? He had to die and I would do it.

It was too easy, my Illusion too good. I walked through the areas I remembered. It had been months but it was… the same. Yes, it was under a different context now. I was to kill a man. Then… I was fighting to keep the Emperor alive. I had been released from my prison, given my freedom. But here I was back. Again. Here I was… to commit a crime in the very place that my freedom started.

I paced the floor. My Illusion of Invisibility was good; it would keep me hidden as I decided what to do. Should I continue this path? The emperor had believed in me, had told me of some part of my destiny to come. I was to do great things. I was to save the kingdom… maybe even the world. Yet, here I was in a dungeon stalking my prey like some sewer rat. What had I become? Where had I gone wrong? Was this death really necessary?

A guard heard me. Maybe my spell was not good enough. Maybe my boots too loud. Maybe my Sneak not good enough But he heard me and he called out int he darkness where I sat pondering if someone was there. His companion came around the corner to investigate. I had to make a decision. Was I going to kill these guards too? Was I going to continue to kill for this new “family”?

The “family” — what of them? They had accepted me. They had embraced me, been excited about my tasks and missions. Even the damned vampire had been nice to me. I should stay. This man I was to kill had been mean to me. And for no reason! I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me and yet he had hurled insults my way! Yes, yes, he would die. The Emperor… he could wait a while more. He was dead, his threat was not coming. I would kill this man. I would follow the Brotherhood into the darkness.

I went to the cell, I killed the man. A single spell, a single slip of my wrist and movement of my fingers. He was dead. It was no effort on my part, no great task. Why had I worried so much about it? The guards did not see this “crime”. They hadn’t seen me. I was in and out quickly. I passed back out the prison and sewer without issue. I went back to the Sanctuary, as that was what it was to me now: a place of refuge in a world that would have no place for me.

They told me of my next mission. I was to go to a party. A party? Why? Oh, I was to kill everyone there. Well, then. That was different. Of course, I would do that. What was a few more lives? Nothing mattered anyway. I was soiled, a remorselessness killer. I would take their lives, sure. I would act out my role in this new “family”. I was home.