Katla held her breath, made one tiny adjustment, and released the arrow.
Her steel arrow flew true and caught the necromancer in the throat. He collapsed and died without a word.
Katla stayed crouched and quiet, listening for any sound, any hint someone else was nearby.
The wind rustled the needles of the towering pines and a bird called nearby. Otherwise, the world was silent.
She waited several more minutes. Nothing. Not even a deer passing nearby.
Katla hopped down from the rock she’d been on and closed the distance to the dead mage.
There was blood everywhere. The sight of it, her arrow coated in it, plus the gaping hole that had been his throat hit her.
You killed someone. This isn’t like hunting for food.
She threw up at the nearest tree. Breakfast was gone.
She needed to check him. See if he had that note, maybe a journal.
By Talos, let the khajiit’s information have been good.
You killed someone for the first time, she thought. You can muster the strength to dig for the information you need in his robes.
One more retch, and Katla found her courage.
He did have a journal, and tucked inside was the note.
Katla’s hands trembled as she opened it.
“Have found her in Skyrim. Near Markarth.
Find and follow. No contact.”
There was no signature, no symbol, nothing to further hint at the writer.
She needed to get away from the body. She needed to get rid of the body. They were onto her. She needed to throw them off, delay them, and keep them from knowing which direction she’d gone. She’d read the journal later, when she was safe, see if the dead mage had left evidence. Maybe he’d written names in the journal. Names she could track down and…kill.
Burn it, she thought. Burn the body so no one would recognize it. That might slow them down.
But, where? Where would be safe, so she did not set the forest on fire?
Katla crouched and thought, studying her surroundings. She’d left Markarth two days ago, meandering her way to Falkreath. The plan had been to stay there awhile. It seemed a big enough city to disappear in, plus all the forest surrounding it felt a lot less open than Markarth had been.
Markarth, built on top of a great Dwemer ruin. All stone, mines, and open fields. Plus, the scary politics and fights with those Forsworn people. She hadn’t felt safe there. Now she knew why. Someone had spotted her and told.
Thank the Gods the Khajiit caravan had been outside the city. She loved Khajiits. She’d read of the different types that lived in Elsweyr. Like men and elves, these cat people were varied amongst themselves. If she remembered her studies right, the Khajiit most common in Skyrim, and the ones of that caravan, were Cathay, bipedal and most like men and the elves. They struck her as warm. Elsweyr was a land of desert and jungle, so the books told her. So different from the cold of Skyrim. A warm people from a warm land.
The merchant of the caravan, M’desi, had recognized her, and out of kindness, told her why. Told her of the good coin someone was offering anyone who knew where she was. She’d spent all the gold she could afford buying his wares as thanks.
Now, she was in the Evergreen Woods, near Falkreath. Where would be safe to burn a body here? A Nord ruin? No. Too much danger always lurked inside ruins.
Wait…another kind of ruin would do. A dragon burial mound. She’d passed one early in the morning. Large stone blocks built up into a circle, covering the ground an ancient dragon was buried in. If the legends of dragons were true, of course.
Dirt and stone. That would be safe from fire.
She looked down at the dead mage. Her stomach turned.
You killed someone.
Yes, she had. And now she was going to burn his dead Imperial body.
What was she becoming?
Two hours later, she was on the road again, moving quickly to put distance between her and the burnt corpse.
Falkreath was out. She’d have to avoid the city for a long time. She had to assume the mage had sent a letter somehow, to someone, on where she was likely headed.
Where to? Helgen?
Too close to Falkreath. She should get out of the hold altogether.
Head north. That’s what she’d do. North or northeast, far away from Markarth and Falkreath. Maybe hide in a small town, like Morthal. Or Dawnstar.
Lots of ships came and went to Dawnstar. Bet she could blend in there, as just another traveler visiting before heading off to someplace else.
Yes, Dawnstar would do. She’d turn north before Falkreath, pass by Rorikstead, and keep heading north. Avoid as many towns as possible.
How many more of these necromancers were out there, searching for her? They knew she was in Skyrim. That alone meant she couldn’t trust anyone. Well, she’d been doing that for over a year now. She’d just have to keep it up.
Until they were all dead.
(Katla’s outfit is Colovian Leather Armor and Outfit SE – UNP – CBBE by Xtudo)