essay, video games

For a few deaths more

They say that you can spend years with a person. Speak on everything. Share meals with them. But only when they are face to face with death, only when their very life is at risk will you know who they really are. Who exactly they are on the inside. That is the job of The Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion. They take life. Speak the words. Make the payments. Complete the ritual. And your troubles will be removed, the Brotherhood will come to know that person, to learn the real them as their soul departs to the next life.

I had been a member for a few weeks now. I thought they were to be my new family. I thought they were my friends. Then I had to kill for them. That was fine. Then I had to kill them. That was less fine. I had come from a party, killed each of them in turn. I had taken the life of a retired Imperial Legion fighter. Some warrior that wanted to escape from the killing. There is no escaping the killing. I thought him that final lesson. Him and his soldiers. I had killed my… family.

Now, I was the servant of the Hand. I was the one to serve directly from Lucien, take my instructions from him. Though not him directly . Not in person. He set me up with a new system of management. Instead of getting my orders from him, from… what was previously my family, my home, I was to take it from a series of dead drops. He would leave the instructions in some hide away place and, when he was ready for a new hit, he would tell me where to go and when to get the new information. To help with getting to all these new locations, he gave me his horse Shadowmere.

I’m not big on horses. Sure, many people swear by them. They can help with many things. They can haul things, carry people. Other people. Magic and horses. No. That just doesn’t match up. Magicka comes from the world, from nature. I can’t be riding a horse and then trying to make the necessary concentration or calculations. They steer… on their own terms. They think for themselves. No, no, no. I won’t be riding this horse at all. It’s a bad idea. I’m happy that she can help me, attack vicious animals, and such. That’s very helpful. But, no, I won’t be riding.

Without the horse, I made my way to the next assignment, the next mission. I was to go to a hill and search through some rocks. I did. I need to kill a… necromancer next? This I can do.

He was holed up in a cave. Some little disgusting place for this disgusting creature. I killed off his zombie, his skeleton. I found the book he had left out for himself. This journal of his. He was trying to be a lich, some sup’d up version of what the King of the Worms said he was. This guy and that other King, all of them trying to live forever through death and some type of unlife. It was sickening.

The book spoke of what he was doing. He was slowly draining his life away, into some hourglass. All I needed was to take the hourglass, separate the link between his soul and body. Then he would die. It was that simple. So, I took it. I used Illusion, I walked up to him and I picked his pocket. He died. Easy.

The next mission was in Chorrol, hidden beneath an old oak tree. I was to take out an entire family. There it was again… family. I had killed one family, I could kill another, sure. I went to the head of the Draconis family, some old woman.

Are you the delivery man? She asked. Yes, I am a “delivery man”. She provided me with the names and places of her family. I’ll take good care of them. I said. Then I killed her.

Next was Sibylla Draconis. I killed her in a cave. Then there was Andreas Draconis. As soon as I threatened him, he attacked me. Thankfully, the Imperial Guard took issue with that and killed him for me. Then Matthias Draconis. I got him while he was swimming. Finally was Caelia Draconis. Just like her brother, threatening her meant I could move her over to my friends in the Mages Guild. They took her out for me. With them all gone, I moved on again.

From Skingard, to a new skilled killer in Bruma. He was great at hand-to-hand combat. Probably a master the contract said. That’s fine. I could summon any one of my minions and then turn invisible, just slide away to the shadows as a creature fought for me. In fact, that is exactly what I did. My summoned Daedroth did all the fighting, I watched. Moving on.

I found the Old Bridge and my next assignment. Seems there is some psycho killer in a cave near Bravil. Some quick uses of my Water Breathing spells and another invisible-slash attack knocks out another hit. One dead Argonian. Next up.

A stop by Fort Redmen. Checked a coffin and then I was off to my next person to ‘dead drop’. Missive said that a traveling Dunmer merchant moves about to various places. Bravil, Skingrad, Bruma, Leyawiin. A very busy merchant. But all that traveling time means that he is available out in the open pretty often. A sneak attack maybe? I muse as I travel to Burma. I met him there. We fought. I won. I won’t trouble with the details. I was growing tired of all these quests by then.

Why is Lucien having me travel around so much? Are there really that many people who need to be killed every few days? Is the Dark Brotherhood really this active?

I got the next mission. Some Nord? Why does it always have to off the beaten path and in some froze and forgotten tundra of an area?. Despite my reservations, I marched up the mountain, met the Nord. We fought. I won. This was getting increasingly tiresome. Where is the adventure and intrigue of the earlier missions? Where was the finesse that was such a part of the early joining of the Brotherhood? Where exactly is the skill? I’m little more than a hit-woman at this point. There is no joy in this, just frequent murder for little pay.

Barely caring, I made my way to some Ayleid ruins for what I hoped to me my last murder for a long time. Even for a Brotherhood, the number of people I had to kill was getting increasingly ridiculous. I got the dead drop and made my way to Bravil to seek out this Bosmer I was to kill next.

This Bosmer arrives at the ‘Lady Luck’ statue late at night. I was a few hours early. I thought I would practice my Mysticism, which was pretty low. So, I picked out a good spot and began to cast Detect Life over and over. And over. And over. For several hours until the sun began to do down. My Mysticism slowly rose. Then, I guess, I triggered something.

The Bosmer must have taken it as an attack that I cast a spell on him, to detect him. I’m not sure why but he must have determined that I was there to fight him. The very simple use of a casual spell must have tipped him off. Regardless, he started coming on at me, seemingly unprovoked. Then the guards stepped in to stop him. They killed him for me. Thanks, guards.

Lucien? What?

I have betrayed The Brotherhood. I have slain more of my organization, more of my family. I have killed off the entire group of the Hand. Now there is only a few surviving members, Lucien and me. He says I am to investigate. The other members of the Brotherhood think he is the traitor! I must go to Anvil and see who comes to delivery the dead drop next. I need to backtrack who comes to their handler and seek out who is the real traitor here. To that end, I set forth.

The man who came to the drop knew nothing but to go to the lighthouse and seek out someone who might be there. I went there next, talked some sense into the keeper of the lighthouse. He said he was renting out his side house to someone but wouldn’t speak more on it. I spelled him for more information. He said he was happy to give me the key and direct me to where I needed to go next. By “happy”, I mean that I threatened him until he gave into my demands.

I went to the side house. Used my new key to get into the door and saw.. By Azure! What twisted creature left all this? What — is that a toe? An arm? A HUMAN HEAD? I searched around, found a diary. I learned the truth. I must go back to Lucien with what really happened.