The Pact was disorganized, poorly led. The leaders of the Nordic and Dunmeri contingents were full of bluster but not much brain, and the Argonian leaders only cowered between them. Such incompetence was evident in the reckless advance of the raiders into Stros M’Kai.
Nidalave sneered, wondering why she ever decided to join up. Privateering — no, even pirating — paid more than the pittance the Pact gave her to use her ship as a troop transport. But money was hard to come by and steady work even harder. She would rather a pittance than nothing at all.
“My girl, we have seen better days,” she murmured, rubbing the warm wooden railing of the Paddy Skipper. Her first mate came up from the brig to stand beside her — another annoyance, for Keeps-Low’s checkered past had kept the Argonian from staying on as part of her crew under Pact laws. That had been months ago. She had tried not to resent the thick-chested Nord who had taken his place, but was failing, especially each time the man came up from the brig smelling of their rum stores.
“That was meant for the fire barrage, Nihour,” said Nidalave coolly.
Nihour belched. “I’ve got plenty of fire in this belly of mine, lass! Just point me at the enemy and I’ll make a blast so loud, I’ll…I’ll…”
Fall off the ship? Please, Almalexia… But Nidalave painted a pleasant smile on her face, looking over at Nihour. “I’m sure you will slay many and bring great honor to your kinsfolk.”
“Spoken like a true Nord!” bellowed Nihour, and he gave her back a slap that sent her stumbling forward into the railing.
“Mephala, give me patience…” Nidalave hissed as she straightened herself. Nihour had staggered off to the bulkhead, pointing and yelling in excitement at what he saw happening in the town down below. Like a big child, Nidalave thought. Well, let him entertain himself with his toys…
“Whatever happened to that husband of yours?” asked Nihour, breaking into her thoughts as he staggered back. Nidalave stiffened, just as much out of irritation as remembered pain. “Had a name all slinky and pointy like you damn dark elves. Asurani…?”
“My name is Kogothil,” said Nidalave coldly. “Always Kogothil.”
“That’s not what you said!” Nihour said with a laugh. “You had quite a different story to tell when we shared that drink the other night. And you were all wobbling, and you fell through the window–“
“Yes, and you pulled me back inside before I could fall.” Nidalave softened, reminding herself that while crude, the Nord was harmless. “It is not something we should speak about in these waters, however.”
“Some plot of you Dunmer, I expect,” said Nihour slyly, or as slyly as a drunk Nord could manage. “Slinky and pointy, as I said.”
Nidalave didn’t answer, staring out at Stros M’Kai. The bones of Thyadras were out there. The bones of her son as well? She winced.
“They’ve almost breached the palace,” Nihour was saying. “But not that little compound up on the hill. Ha, who’s ever heard of that? A king that can’t fight, but a nobleman’s brat who can–“
Yes, Hasami would have invested in a strong fighting force. Ever since that failed raid, his movements in the southern waters had been tentative, as if afraid someone might send a fleet after him. Nidalave smiled bitterly. If only…
“No, I take it back,” slurred Nihour. “That last fire blast was a whammie. Yup, there it goes. See it topple like a sheaf of straw! WhooooOOOOO!”
Nidalave looked out, only wincing slightly at the shout of the Nord in her ear. One of the magi had been smart, sending a repeated barrage at the cliff under one wing of the compound, instead of the compound walls themselves. Most lords reinforced their walls with enchantments, but fewer remembered such things were only as strong as the foundations they were built upon…
The cliff fell then with a loud crack, and the walls slid after it, sending up a great cloud of white dust. The screams of those caught in the avalanche carried all the way down to the bay.
“I’d hate to be caught in that,” remarked Nihour.
“Yes,” said Nidalave, fighting back sudden tears. Hasami had menaced her family for years for his grudge, and they had in turn thrown everything they had at him. Despite all their efforts, all it had taken was one night of fire and blood, and everything Hasami owned camr tumbling into the sea.
Everything he owned…
“Shizzal!” Nidalave suddenly cried out, though her voice dropped to a whisper as buildings continued to topple and burn. “Oh, Thyadras…look after him for me.”