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November 28th, 2013, 22:48
From the Annuals of Grimulfr Fenrirson as told by WolfGrimDark

"An Old Wolves Tale Part One"

"Well little guy, looks like we made it to Falkreath just in time," Grimulfr said as he looked down at Wolfgar tagging along behind him.

The wolf pup was growing up fast and looked more like an ungainly and awkward teenager then the cute little puppy he had been when they had first met. Wolfgar barked in agreement, his ears and head turning constantly as he took in all the new smells and sounds of the town they had just entered.

The pair had been on their way back to Whiterun when one of the ubiquitous couriers found them just as they arrived at the Whiterun crossroads. She had two messages for Grim. The first was a letter from the Jarl of Falkreath asking for his services in dealing with a local bandit problem. That one Grim had been inclined to ignore; everyone had bandit problems these days. The second letter was far more intriguing and came from one of the Black Wolf spies located in Falkreath. Apparently a rogue shifter had been captured and was to be put on trial for murdering a young girl. The Company always had an interest in the wild werewolves as they were a potential danger to everyone if they went rogue. Still Grim was tired and wanted to see his friends in Whiterun so he tucked the letters away and continued on his way. He had not gone more then a few yards when he felt a tingling up the back of his spine and the hair on his neck stood up.

He new that feeling well. Fenrir was making contact with him. No words passed between them as Fenrir seldom spoke; he preferred to communicate in the way of the wolf pack using emotion, smells, and imagery. Scents of freshly crushed pine, old bones long since buried, and the fetid aroma of moss and mildew mingled with images of an ancient town deep in the woods. Underlying it all was an unusual mix of emotions conveying a feeling of urgency, curiosity, danger, and wry amusement. Then, with a suddenness that made Grimulfr gasp, the contact stopped leaving Grim momentarily dazed. Wolfgar rubbed his nose against Grim's hand, seeing if he was okay.

Grim absentmindedly rubbed Wolfie's ears and told him, "Well then. I guess we will be going to Falkreath after all." While he could ignore the request so clearly presented to him he knew doing so would not be a wise move. He may be tired and annoyed but going to Whiterun was now out of the question. He fully trusted Fenrir on a level he had never fully understood and knew it was important for him to investigate what was happening. Thus it was the two decided to make all haste to the town of Falkreath.

When they arrived the first thing Grim did was ask a guard for the directions to the local tavern, which the guard informed him was called "A Dead Man's Drink." It wasn't just to quench his thirst, however, that Grim wanted to find a tavern. It was because he knew the best place to pick up any local gossip, and learn more about this rogue shifter, would be at the local watering hole.

The owner of the tavern, a one Valga Vinicia, was a lusty and very talkative lady, who flirted outrageously with Grim. He returned the favor, using all his charm to gather as much information as he could. By the time he was done he realized he need not have bothered as it was all he could do to stop Valga from talking once she got going. Still he learned that the rogue shifters name was Sinding and he was currently being kept in the local Jail.

Not wasting any time he headed to the Jarl's court. He knew his best chances of being able to learn what was going on was to talk to the parents of the young girl who had been killed as well as Sinding. Luckily he had just the excuse needed to ask the Jarl for permission, the letter from the Jarl himself asking for him to visit.

… an hour later …

Grimulfr sighed in disgust as he left the presence of Jarl Siddgeir. Siddgeir was pompous, arrogant, and as corrupt as they come. He had the audacity to confess he had worked with the very bandits he now wanted Grimulfr to eliminate. Grim had postponed agreeing to that task by enticing the Jarl with two bottles of prized Black-Briar Mead and offering to help investigate the recent murder. So now he was headed to the Guard barracks where the local jail was located. Telling Wolfgar to wait outside, and watch for signs of trouble, he entered the building. A quick word with the guard, and the written consent from the Jarl, got him an audience with the prisoner.

"Come to gawk at the monster?" Sinding said to Grim as he approached.

Grim arched an eyebrow and replied, "I have come to investigate a murder charge on behalf of Jarl Siddgeir." He must not have been able to keep some of the contempt out of his voice when he said the Jarl's name as Sinding snorted.

To Grim's surprise Sinding made no attempt to dispute the claim. It was clear the man was overwhelmed with guilt over what he had done. He even confessed to being a werewolf and explained that he had come to Falkreath based on the rumor that a summoning of Hircine had appeared in the guise of a magnificent white stag. When Grim asked why he was seeking Hircine Sinding indicated he had stolen the Daedric Prince's ring in the hopes of using it to control his condition. But the ring had become cursed sending him into berserk rages at random instead.

Grim pondered the situation. He briefly reached for contact with Fenrir but found nothing. Apparently he was on his own. What the man had done was horrible and he was partly at fault for stealing the ring in the first place. Only a fool would think they could steal an artifact of a Daedric Prince and get away with it. Yet Grim felt some sympathy for the man as Grim was well aware the price that came with receiving the "blessing" of Hircine. In the end he offered to take the ring and give it to Hircine if he could find him. Knowing the Jarl might kill Sinding before he could resolve the issue, he advised Sinding to escape while he still could and seek shelter some place away from people and civilization.

The guard informed him that he could find the parents of the young girl at the Temple of Arkay so that was Grims next stop. It was not a pleasant experience talking with the poor parents. The mother was too lost in grief to even talk and the father was full of righteous anger and confusion over what had happened. He kept asking what could drive a man to do such a thing. Grim tried to explain that Sinding was under a curse by a Daedric Prince but the father waved that aside as a lie and an excuse and Grim couldn't blame the poor man.

Leaving the parents to their grief he talked with the old priest who managed the temple. Grimulfr found himself liking the man despite the fact that he was a pointy eared. The priest was an Altmer who, having done a lot of killing in the wars, was now trying to atone for it by caring for both the living and dead as a servant of Arkay. Grim gave the old man a handful of gold and asked that it be used to cover the cost of the funeral for the young girl and any other expenses required by the temple.

After a quick lunch Grimulfr and Wolfgar decided there was no more point in waiting around. Grim had to admit to himself he was very curious to meet Hircine. Whenever the topic had come up with Fenrir the wolf spirit had gotten very evasive and would only enigmatically indicate that "now was not the time for such discussions." Well, Grim thought to himself, perhaps now was finally the time since Fenrir himself had pushed him here.

… later that afternoon …

Grim and Wolfgar were deep in the woods of Falkreath. He had sharpened his blades Fang and Claw at the local blacksmith and restocked his arrows. Grim was an expert tracker and he expected this to be a fairly easy task. Yet for some reason he could not sense the stag with his preternatural senses. Normally he could sense what creatures were in the area yet he felt nothing like a deers life force anywhere near by. He grunted in mild self-disgust, chiding himself for getting soft. By oblivion he swore, he would accept the challenge of doing it the hard way!

So with some help from Wolfgar, and going on rumors he had picked up in town, he finally found the stags hoof prints in the soft ground about a league outside of the town. Casting a small spell to help highlight the prints he saw them heading up into the hills to east.

As he began to walk around the edge of some large rocks he paused as he heard the soft sound of a twig breaking coming from the direction he was moving. "How odd," he thought, "I still can't sense this animal nor smell it. Nor have I seen any of its spoor. It most be the summoning of Hircine and not of this world."

Slowly and with excruciating care Grim looked around the corner and there he saw the mighty stag, every bit as magnificent as the locals had claimed it to be.

For a second he could have sworn the beast looked directly at him but then it turned back to drinking at the pool of water it had stopped at. Grim retreated back for a moment and got out his bow and his best Dwarven arrows. Moving back he took careful aim and let the arrow fly!

The shot should have been a perfect hit to the stags heart but somehow the beast sensed the arrow at the last moment. With supernatural speed it started to leap away and so the arrow caught the beast in its rear leg instead. It paused only for a split second before recovering but Grim was faster yet and another arrow took it near the neck, bringing the creature to its knees. By then the third and final arrow took it in the heart and it finally fell to the ground unmoving.

Cautiously Grim sprinted down to the animal, a certain sense of sadness welling inside of him at seeing such a beautiful creature dead at his hands. Yet as he looked down at it he could feel nothing of its presence; it was as if the creature didn't even exist in this world. Then, before he could reach down to collect the arrows, he felt the gathering of power above him. It vaguely reminded him of Fenrir, that feeling of tightly restrained power and energy that if unleashed would blast him to dust in the blink of an eye.

Taking a deep breath he gathered his nerve and looked up to behold the same stag he had just killed standing tall before him; a ghostly apparition emanating waves of authority and power that could only be Hircine. The beast continued to look at him until Grimulfr finally broke the silence.

"Didn't I just kill you?" Grim asked the apparition.

"And skillfully so I might add" the entity replied in a deep and melodic voice that seemed to resonate through Grimulfrs very being.

Grim was unnerved. There was something odd going on. He felt something … but he could not place what it was. Unsure what to do next he opted to show his respect by bowing his head and saluting the Old Wolf, the name the Company had given to Hircine eons ago. He then turned his head to the side, briefly exposing his neck in an act of submission.

"Am I correct in assuming you are the Daedric Prince Hircine?" Grimulfr asked carefully.

"I am but one aspect of the glory that you mortals call Hircine, Lord of the Hunt," the apparition replied.

Grim, on his best behavior since he needed a favor, once again bowed his head and said, "I have come to ask a favor of the Lord of the Hunt and Daedric Prince, the mighty Hircine.

To his surprise Hircine let out a loud snort and he could have sworn he saw the muzzle turn up in what might have been a smile.

Looking down at the confused Grimulfr, Hircine said in a teasing voice, "My, my, so formal and polite for such a young pup! While I appreciate the show of respect surely there is no need for such formality between this Old Wolf and his favorite grandson?"

Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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