Nice and easy. Careful, now.
She barely breathed, dark eyes narrowed in focus, intent; so still, she might well have been a part of the tree she perched in.
Her quarry was in range- a strapping man, massively built. A Nord, from the look of his fair hair and impressive beard- she’d seen his kind before. His arms were as wide as the whole of her; he slung a massive battlehammer over his shoulder as if it were a toy, the wooden haft well weathered by his ham-sized fists. The mallet was stone, embellished with intricate metal inlay- it might have been beautiful, had it not been intended for skulls like her own.
His armor was battered, oft-mended plate – his helm was half an egg with a tongue thrusting down over his nose. There were weaknesses at the joints, open spots left for mobility at the expense of defense. He moved more rapidly as a result. Clever man. Not clever enough.
Even after so many decades of study, of days spent in the oppressive confines of stone and mortar and nights spent squinting at carefully inked pages by dim, unsteady flame, she still felt the anticipation of it in the pit of her belly- hunger and excitement, mixed with something more elusive. She could feel every part of her body, the strength and the tension- the power she held, building, burning.
The glow would have given her away if it were night- a reason she’d chosen to hunt during the day. She hadn’t yet found a way to hide or disguise the casting of magic. Further studies would yield the information, she was sure; for now, her best course of action was speed. Magic pulsed in her palm, a question from which any of endless answers could spring, but there was no time to savor the potency, the possibility. It took only the space of a heartbeat before the familiar shape of a bow hummed against her leather gloves, the arrow materializing precisely as she willed it, the sinew pressing into the pads of her fingers- unfelt through layers of callous- as it had a thousand times before.
Perhaps he’d seen a spark in the trees, because he looked up, scanning the treeline, and now she was visible, but it scarcely mattered- a silver arrow fled her fingertips, finding its mark in the soft skin and cartilage of her quarry’s unprotected kneecap. A shout of alarm punctuated the forest, scattering birds from tree tops as his leg gave way, landing the Nord on the ground with the growl of metal on metal.
Like a long-limbed insect, Vlyn descended from her tree, releasing her binds on the bow with an impatient flick of her wrist and splay of her long, bony fingers. She hit the ground with a light thump, mind focusing as her hand came to life with power. The hair on the back of her spine tingled delightfully before a dagger’s reassuring firmness was tight in her grasp again. Her face was smooth as she stalked forward, black eyes intent on her fallen foe.
The Nord was no fool; his hand clasped on the arrow in his knee, yanking hard- only to find that it had disintegrated into nothing in his grip. A low oath and he forced himself up again in an impressive display of willpower. The warhammer rose, the man’s blue eyes narrowing on the elf. “Come no closer and you may yet live!” He bellowed, his face wholly contorted by rage and pain; yet he held his ground, unafraid.
Some small, largely ignored place inside of her, decided that she liked the man, just for that.
This, however, had no bearing on what was to come. She paused, smiling a humorless smile, and lifted her conjured blade to her lips, drawing the flat of it across her waiting tongue; a spark tingled delightfully at the base of her spine at the contact. Her stomach growled hungrily. With no further warning, her body formed a graceful arc as she leapt at him–
And of course, he swung his mighty battlehammer, the heavy weapon prepared for such a lunge. He was skilled, surprisingly dexterous; but not dexterous enough to completely redirect that powerful blow when he realized just a moment too late that she was not where she was supposed to be.
A flash of white fire, and then he realized nothing more as the tip of her blade drove through his left eye and forcefully into his brain. She twisted once, then jerked the weapon free, wrenching bits of skull and brain from his ruined eyesocket- a flick of her gore-spattered hand and the weapon was gone, the nord striking the ground with a feeble thud and clatter.
The breath returned to her lungs and she panted just a little as she remembered what it was to breathe, looking up from her kill with wild, dark eyes. There was no sign that anyone was coming; at least not yet. She felt vivid with life as she quickly divested the body of its armor, rifling through the fallen man’s possessions in a business-like fashion. Some gold coins, a dagger, and a well-worn letter; the coins she kept, the rest she left discarded with the armor. Time was of the essence, there could be more coming—he was too large, too cumbersome. Why couldn’t he have been smaller-? It wasn’t the first Nord she’d felled, but the man was large, even by their standards.
She growled under her breath, and looked left, then right. It had to be done. It was out of deference to the customs of her people. Her heart thundered in her chest, her pulse suddenly hot and fast, and she licked her dry lips in agitation, gloved hands rubbing over her thighs to remove the sweat beginning to form on her palms.
Settling on her heels, she shook herself, chin lifting and black eyes narrowing. Impulsive, her fist met her palm in ritual prayer to Y’ffre, a brief, speechless yearning at the tip of her tongue- then she let her arms drop and began to gather her power again.
It boiled inside of her as she pulled, body going rigid with the effort, feeling the control as tension in her limbs, throat tight, eyes squeezed shut. The ritual was familiar; she’d read it dozens of times, memorized every line, every slight motion- an old friend, a mantra remembered to pass through pain, to sleep at night.
It was more reckless than she was her habit- this summoning, unplanned, so close to the forests of her homeland. Some small part of her reveled in it, urged her further- but the rest was focus, was bars of steel in which to hold the Atronach’s will as fast and sure as spider’s web.
She could feel the heat of it, the fury and the bristling power; the restlessness that could barely be contained, resisted being held together- yet she held it. It was a subtle net, at first, but one that held tight and only grew tighter. At every step it opposed her, and she bore down with unrelenting force until she could feel it give way.
“You belong to –me-.”
Her words split the quiet, and an instant later, fire and rage scorched the ground mere feet away. Her heart skipped a beat; giddy excitement chased the adrenaline of her kill, but she forced herself to her feet, tossing a hand at the body carelessly.
“Carry it. We’re going now.”
The Atronach seethed; she could feel the force of it straining against its binds. Then…
Eying her with loathing, the fiery form of a woman turned and retrieved the body.
Vlyn gestured imperiously; feeling resistance, she jerked hard. The Atronach followed, and the air began to smell of burnt wool and cooking flesh.
Her stomach growled as they dissolved into the forests once more, fleeing the borderlands of Cyrodil to the depths of Valenwood.