4E 199 – Buried Hope

Katla stood in front of her old home.

Who lived there now? The gentleman had said his last name. Lylvieve.

Not much had changed since she’d been born inside. At least from the outside. The wood and stone walls looked as sturdy as ever, eighteen more years of wear hadn’t changed it.

Katla stepped back and surveyed the rest of Dragon Bridge. Her memories were fuzzy, they’d left when she was only eight, but, it looked the same.

Except for the Penitus Oculatus outpost, down by the lumber mill. That was new. Perhaps due to the rising tensions? The Thalmor were everywhere here, and no one seemed happy about it.

Katla wondered if the Oculatus were here to remind the Thalmor this was still the Empire’s province, and the Emperor would protect it.

She thought of the Blades, and her brief visit to Cloud Ruler Temple. She’d never met a Blade, of course. They were all gone. These Penitus Oculatus soldiers looked so serious. Intense. She liked their armor. That red and silver combination looked dignified. Maybe one day she could join them.

Hah. First, she needed to live long enough and become an amazing fighter.

First, she needed to kill a lot of necromancers. And get answers.

She turned back to her old home. The house was on the edge of town, the land butting up to the cliff and mountains that surrounded this side of town.

She’d forgotten how mountainous this region was. She spared a glance for the spectacular stone bridge, adorned with dragon head sculptures, that was the town’s namesake. How long had it existed? First Era? Even earlier? She couldn’t remember. The bridge sat at the opposite edge of town, crossing the Karth River and leading towards Markarth. She hadn’t yet decided if she wanted to head there, or to Solitude.

First things first. The bow.

Katla looked back over at the edge of the yard, past the vegetable garden this Lylvieve family was growing. They’d fenced in that section of the property. The spot she was thinking of wasn’t part of the property. It was technically just wilderness. She’d loved digging in the spot as a kid, though. Felt like she was burying things under the mountain. Now, she would be.

Evening had come on, and most of the town seemed to have already headed to the Four Shields Tavern for meals and drinks. She’d have some privacy.

Digging didn’t take long. The ground here was still soft dirt, just as when she was a child. Katla angled her digging to under a large stone that jutted out from a crevice between the sheer mountain stone. She kept the hole as small as she could, the less disturbed the ground looked, the better.

Satisfied after a time, she pulled out her father’s ebony bow and double checked the burlap and leather sacks. She hoped the leather and then burlap around it would keep it well protected from the elements and time. A chest would have been nice to use, but she’d doubted she could dig a hole big enough for one. Tightly wrapped in both sacks, she thought it would be safe.

She’d be back for it. When? A year, maybe two? Long enough to get her skills up. Her strength up. Ebony bows took time to master. Their overall weight, their draw weight. All of it required her to build up to.

But once she did, look out. She’d be a truly deadly archer then. She looked forward to that.

For now, the custom hunting bow Dad had given her for her birthday would do.

Given to you on the day he died.

Katla carefully placed the bow under the stone and repacked the dirt. There was enough tall grass around that the dig spot wouldn’t be too obvious, unless you were really looking at the spot. She placed small stones on top of the dirt, hoping it now looked like a simple tiny rock slide to the casual eye.

She stood and wiped her hands. She needed to rinse them off in the river. Wash the dirt, the evidence of what she’d just done, off. Then, grab a bite to eat and rent a room at the tavern.

Tomorrow, she needed to get out of town. Did the necromancers know this was her hometown? She couldn’t stick around and find out.

Markarth or Solitude? Maybe she best go to Markarth. They knew she’d lived in Solitude. Her parents had probably joined the cult then. She’d be a nobody in Markarth. That felt safer. Smarter.

“I’ll be back for you,” she whispered to the buried bow. The buried hope. The hope she’d survive long to come back for it.

She’d be a deadly force by then. She’d have answers by then. She was sure of it.

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