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The Elder Scrolls: Insurrection - Chapter 5

Plots and Schemes


Drubgurz spat out the blood in his mouth, leaving behind a red blot in the white snow-covered ground. He swaggered away from the tavern with a slight limp, raising his right arm and wiping away the remainder from his lips. The Orc's two tusks scratched against the back of his hand as he did so, but he minded not. It added to the roughness of the gesture, and that's what he wanted them to see. As soon as he knew he wasn't being watched anymore, his mouth curled into a grin.


He had lost the brawl, but that was exactly the result he was hoping for. He was not going easy on the Imperial; in fact, he gave everything he had in the fight. To most, such a defeat would be a humiliation, and that was what Drubgurz wanted it to appear as. However, beneath the facade of this primal instinct to prove his dominance was a test, an evaluation of the man's skill in combat. The Imperial passed with flying colours; not only did he beat someone of a race physically superior to his own, but he did so without having to resort to dishonest tactics. Granted, he did have an advantage with armour, but the speed and training this man demonstrated was enough to prove his unquestionable strength.


The moment the Imperial stepped past the gates, Drubgurz had identified his shield and katana as the same ones utilized by the Blades. He had never seen a member of the order in action before, but encountered numerous tales of their prowess and heroism in books. Legends of these knights went back to the First Era, when they were said to have been renowned dragon hunters. Their later service as the Emperor's bodyguard was well-documented, as was their contributions in defending the Empire during the Oblivion Crisis. While Drubgurz often turned to books for information (how else was one to learn about bygone eras?), he knew that they were not always to be trusted. And even if the Blades were historically powerful, their recent extermination by the elves could be a sign that they had grown weak. Drubgurz had to see this man's ability for himself, and he lived up to his name.


Defeat did bear the risk of the new arrival eventually ascending to a higher position than Drubgurz in the community, but it was a small one. While the man was an Imperial and may command respect from the former legionnaires, he was no leader. The Blades were spies and warriors, not generals and kings. Nonetheless, Drubgurz noted to keep an eye on him should too many of his people begin taking orders from the Imperial. No, not his people. Not yet.


Staring up at the gates leading to the interior of the fort, his mind ran through the names of the ones within who were loyal to him. They consisted of less than half of this ragtag group, but this was better than what he had when he left the primitive home of his kin. He was alone then, cast out by his tribe, stubborn barbarians who refused to listen to reason. Orcs were some of the finest warriors among the mortal races of Nirn, yet the Orsimer were some of the most hated people and their capital of Orsinium found itself repeatedly sacked. Some blamed aspects of their culture such as Daedric worship for being the reason of hate, but Drubgurz knew better. There was no right or wrong, only what was imposed by the strong. A year ago, most men invoked the blessings of Talos. Now, it was illegal for the simple reason that the elves won the war and deemed it to be.


Contrary to what his family believed, Drubgurz did not abandon his people. He would return to them when the time was right, to unite them under a single banner. But first, he needed a banner. He had initially thought that the Empire provided the strength and unity that the Orsimer needed. This was where the books had failed him. This Empire was a mere shadow of what the Septims ruled, and it became clearer and clearer the more Drubgurz fought their desperate battles. Thus, he led a small force to leave the Legion behind and join up with the bandits of Fort Dunstad. There was one problem, however- the old Nord refused to give up power. Drugburz was planning to bide his time, earn the trust of the original group, and then challenge the Nord to a duel he knew he could win to minimize the chances of these people abandoning him when their former leader died.


The arrival of the Blade changed all that and provided him with a faster way. The coin purse Asa used to pay their way into the fort was clearly of elven make, and the fact that Blades across Tamriel were being hunted by the Thalmor made it obvious that they came here to hide from agents of the Aldmeri Dominion. Drubgurz briefly considered handing the Blade over to the elves for a reward, but from what he heard of the Thalmor, they were not to be trusted and were likely to silence him as well once they were finished. He did not need to inform the elves though; now that he knew the value of the Imperial man they had taken in, there arose a far more rewarding solution.


Drubgurz had scouted out the Legion camp in Skyrim several times and saw it to be pathetically undermanned. Meanwhile, the Empire had no clue about their numbers and he would lead them to believe that they were few. The local legionnaires would arrive only to be overwhelmed. In the ensuing chaos, Drubgurz could find a way to get the Nord bandit leader killed and blame the act on the Imperials. Others would die as well, but he cared not for the loss of a few grunts. Fighting off an Imperial force would prove his dependability to the Blade, and if he made his moves right, the once-honourable knight would be convinced that the Empire were now fully puppets of the Thalmor and that he would be safest with their group. Both of them were already acquainted with Asa, whose knowledge of the land and skill with the bow was unrivaled. If he could secure the loyalty of these talented individuals, it would more than make up for the losses they might suffer.


Turning away from the great doors in front of him, Drubgurz instead made his way up the stone staircase on the side of the fort. Once atop the walls he proceeded to a smaller entrance way leading into the tallest tower still standing. This was the so-called dungeon, and it was aptly named for the setup of cells within that showed its use as a prison at one time. Keeping prisoners was not common practice for bandits (except in the rare instance when they happened to raid someone significant whom others may pay to see released), and as a result this area was used for little more than storage. Some of the cages had been re-purposed to keep animals and currently among them was a crow that the Orc had raised and trained. Drubgurz was not surprised to find the room empty, since he was the one who usually tended to the creatures. Taking a piece of paper and lowering himself onto a bench, he began to pen his note:

He could not say for certain if the Imperials would respond to his tip in the manner that he so desired, but he took all possible precautions. Not a single mention of the Blade was in the note, for the White-Gold Concordat only dictated that the Empire must disavow the Blades so the Thalmor may deal with them. They would not wish to hunt one of their own, and the best possible outcome of informing them of the Blade's presence was that they ignored the note. It was just as likely for the message to find its way to the Thalmor, which would lead to an attack that the fort was not prepared to repel. A note about a small band of deserters on the other hand- that was something the Imperials could and probably wanted to take care of themselves.


The use of the word 'coward,' taken straight from the Blade's own mouth, strategically ensured that the note could not be traced back to Drubgurz. As long as he was not seen with it, anyone reading its contents would immediately associate it with their Imperial visitor. While he did not wish to see the Blade driven out, it was better to be him than Drubgurz. He would have to start back at step one, with no legendary warrior in his grasp and no way to quickly eliminate the Nord leader of the group, but it was better than having no group at all.


Satisfied with his work, Drubgurz took the paper and slid on the gloves he always left in the room, grabbing a handful of seeds from a nearby barrel while he was at it. He then unlocked the door of the crow's cage, allowing the black bird to exit, but only by hopping onto his arm. With his one free hand he ascended the ladder to the top of the tower. Despite the chill of the night air, the avian creature was excited to finally have open skies and spread its wings, gliding in an elegant arc around the platform. Drubgurz opened his palm to reveal the seeds, and eventually the promise of food lured the crow back. It landed on his shoulder before hopping down onto his arm, pecking at the little brown dots he laid out on his glove.

As it fed, Drubgurz tied his secret message around the crow's leg. When it had finished, he released the bird and it soared into the sky, its black body quickly disappearing into the darkness of the night. It was not going directly to the intended recipient of course, but to a courier service that always acted as middlemen for his letters. A small line on the other side of the note spelled out its final destination: "For the Imperial Legion." A courier would then be dispatched to deliver the letter proper; this was a long process, but necessary in order to maintain the anonymity of his plan. There was no guarantee that it would work, but he knew at least with the precautions he took that it could not backfire.


Drubgurz overlooked Fort Dunstad from its highest point. He felt a rush of confidence. Simply formulating such an elaborate scheme proved why he was superior to other Orsimer, perhaps even to the arrogant Altmer. The people in these ruins, as misfit as they were, will soon be his to command. With the help of the Blade they will be disciplined into a proper fighting force, a band of mercenaries, a militia and eventually an army. They shall call him chief, then king, then...Emperor? Drubgurz feared he may not see the ultimate result of his mechanization in his lifetime. It mattered not; power was only half the equation. His legacy will live on. He will be the Orc who changed history.

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