A Brotherhood Reborn Part One: The Master of Lucien Lachance Chapter One: A Brother Lost The sun hung low in the sky over the imperial city of Bravil. Waves lapped gently against the city’s banks, the air heavy with the surrounding salt water. Dancing points of light moved along the battlements- the torches of guards beginning their nightly patrol. Smoke curled up to meet the gray clouds, the denizens of the coastal city chilled in the Frostfall dusk, huddled up next to their meager fireplaces. But despite the great number of people in the city, all were oblivious to the lone man walking nonchalantly through the great gates. The Breton’s hood was thrown back, his dark travelling cloak without taint of dirt or grime. His nimble feet found their way through the muddy streets without a sound. His sea blue eyes acknowledged citizens and guards alike with wary stares, keeping his hands subtly ready for unlikely combat- feeling the hidden knives through the folds of his rough brown shirt. His air was one of concealed skill, a kind found only with those trying to hide it. A slight wind tousled his loose brown hair, bringing his mind back to the lonely house before him. No wandering eyes saw him walk to the house’s side, ignoring the rotting door and instead making way for likewise decrepit cellar entrance. The Breton grasped the rusting iron handles, the old doors opening, silent as a whisper in the night. As he took his first step into the shadowed stairway, he readjusted his hair back into its perfectly even appearance, silently bemoaning the wind for causing him even a moment of untidiness. He closed the doors behind him with practiced ease. The steep steps gave no difficulty to feet that had walked them countless times, the darkness welcoming the man in an embrace only someone in his profession could return. Not even the dull thump of his trained heart gave away his presence to his similarly silent observer. Knowing the boy would not give up his game until he acknowledged him, the Breton broke the absolute silence with his stern tenor voice, carrying the hint of a Bretonic accent, “Lucien, come down from there.” A sudden gust of air was the only sign of the teenager’s descent from the stone ceiling, followed quickly by a voice not quite juvenile, “Hello Master,” the man could hear the grin in his tone, “The Listener said he wanted to see you about something.” A soft sigh escaped into the gloom, followed by the Breton’s tired reply, “I suppose a comfortable bed would be too much to ask for after a three day journey. Very well, let us go see the old lizard.” The assassin heard his apprentice turn and begin his descent towards the main sanctuary, his eager response echoing up the stone walls, “Let’s!” The Breton shook his head, allowing himself a smile before his meeting, ‘Honestly, sometimes I wonder if that kid will make it like this. Sure, he’s talented enough for it, but skill alone doesn’t make an assassin.’ After the complete darkness of the passage, the dim light brought on by Lucien’s opening of the sanctuary’s doors shocked the man’s dilated pupils. He made his way down the remainder of the steps half squinting, adjusting his eyes to the sudden light. The main hall of the Brotherhood’s home in Bravil had over the years lost its stark practicality in favor of the comforts even hardened assassins enjoyed. Bookshelves filled with leather bound knowledge lined several of the corners, accompanied by cozy armchairs and flickering lanterns. The fireplace at the end of the hall gave the room most of its light, illuminating everything from thick rugs to shining bowls of fruit on elaborately carved tables. If not for the rough stone walls and aura of death in the tepid room, one might mistake the robed figures for scholars or monks. Each resident acknowledged the Breton with serious gazes, each eye giving the same message- the message Lucien had given him earlier on the staircase. He answered each with a stare of his own, replying with a stolid “I know.” Lucien waited for him at one of the many doors leaving the atrium, all leading to different areas of the sanctuary: the dormitories through one hall, the training rooms another, and other such necessities as the kitchen and lavatory. This particular door led to one place and one place only- the entrance to the personal chambers of the Listener. The young Imperial’s eyes shone with the giddy zeal of adolescence, his puppy dog attitude made it all the more difficult for the man to dismiss him, “Lucien, go to the training room and work on your breathing; I’ve known drunken orcs less noisy.” All of Lucien’s previous glee dropped from his face like a melting wax, his retort silenced by a stern gaze from his teacher’s deep blue eyes. “Yes, Master…” 'I hate to exclude him like this, but whatever he wants is most likely for my ears only.' The assassin ignored his apprentice’s sagging shoulders and shuffling steps, his patience spent on days of travel and meager rations. The Breton opened the door, the stained wood gliding on its properly lubricated hinges. He felt a moment of contentment at the upkeep of the sanctuary, then set his mind back on the task at hand. The door swung closed of its own accord behind him as he made his way down the narrow corridor, wrinkling his hooked nose at the terrible stench that always permeated this part of the sanctuary. ‘Why must he insist on such living conditions? I don’t care if it makes him feel more at home, the rest of us don’t care much for the smells of Argonia.’ The gray stone was blank along the empty hall, the only point of interest the black iron door at the end of the passage. He forced his way through the odor, grasped the iron handle firmly, noting how the cold metal felt under his palm. After a quick breath, he opened the door, revealing the pitch black interior. He stepped into the blackness, addressing his unseen supervisor, “Lucien said you needed me for something?” He closed the door behind him, extinguishing the only remaining light. After several moments of silent waiting, The Breton ventured further into the humid room, careful not to trip over any of the multiple roots and vines that adorned the floor. ‘As If his room wasn’t bad enough; why must he also insist on silence?’ He sighed; pulling back the wooden chair he knew- even in the dark- was always there. Just as he was taking a seat, sudden illumination assaulted his eyes for the second time that day. The Listener sat across from him, a single candle casting his long scaled face in patches of shadow and light. His red reptilian eyes stared right at the assassin, penetrating directly into the Breton’s deepest consciousness. He raised a single brown eyebrow, tired of the Listener’s games. Finally, the Argonian placed a single leaflet of brown paper on the table, sliding it slowly over to The Breton. As the assassin looked down at the message, a cryptic hiss broke the heavy air, “Louisss…” The infamous Speaker of the Black Hand read the letter with growing apprehension, his brow knotting in frustration as its scrawled words’ meaning became clear to him, ‘Bruce, we have a situation on our hands. Our good Count suspects that the infamous assassin’s guild, the Dark Brotherhood, has infiltrated our fair city. Not only that, but he thinks they might even have a hideout here. You know as well as I do what we have to do; we cannot have this scum loose on my streets! I am holding you personally responsible for making sure that not a soul leaves here without me knowing who he is and where he’s going. That means watching the gates, watching the waterways, and tightening security. The cost of failure is such that I shouldn’t have to repeat myself. Miles Pledo Captain of the Guard’ “How did they find out?” Louis spat, his hands trembling in fury. After a moment of silent staring, the Listener replied, “They killed Sadon.” “What… But- how!” The Breton stood, knocking his chair onto the slimy floor, shock mixing in and replacing the anger. ‘Sadon was one of our best men! We used to do missions together; he would always crack the best jokes at the worst times…' His eyes wavered, holding back tears, 'Damn them!’ The Argonian continued his broken hissing, “Accident, coincidence, I care not. Only importance is the safety of Brotherhood.” Louis closed his eyes, shutting out the meager light of the candle, putting his emotions aside. He knew what the Listener wanted him to do. “Your newest contract- make the suspicion off us, without any knowing you did it. Any but us.” The Argonian’s seldom used, broken Cyrodillic rang clearer than the truest poetry for Louis. He had a new mission, one where failure meant exile from Bravil. Or worse. Louis nodded slowly, not caring that his hair was entirely out of place. The Listener leaned forward, blowing out the small candle with the slightest of breaths.