The Dovahkiin stood over a shriveled old Imperial man, known by the people of Whiterun as The Cynic.  The Cynic lay bedridden from age, and the wrongs of the past were etched upon his face.  He glanced at the Dovahkiin, but he stared past him, eyes brimming with grief and horror, as if reliving a tragic event from his past.

            “Hello,” the Dovahkiin greeted The Cynic, and snapped back to reality with a jump, “I was told to see you for some work.”

            The Cynic’s eyes bore into the Dovahkiin, measuring every last feature of his face.  He then opened his mouth as if to speak, but only a wheeze escaped.  The Cynic broke into a coughing fit, and it took him minutes to regain his breath.  He opened his mouth again, and this time managed to speak.

            “You seek work?”  The Dovahkiin nodded.  “You seek adventure?  And, of course, you seek riches.  I can give them all to you, and more.”  At this, The Cynic began coughing again, but he quickly recovered and continued.

            “You see, I used to be an adventurer like you.  Then, the curse came, and stole the very life from my body.”

            At this statement, The Cynic started his tale, and the Dovahkiin took a seat to listen.

            “Back when I was young, I served as a Companion.  I was considered one of their finest warriors, and the most dangerous tasks were reserved for me.  One day, word arrived of a necromancer terrorizing a small village, and although we dealt with necromancers often, this one had built quite a reputation, so I was sent along with two of my allies: Baltorr, a Nord, and Dr’zago, a Khajiit.  They were both close friends, and I personally chose them for the mission.  We set out from Whiterun on horseback and quickly arrived at the village.  However, we arrived too late, and all we found were the skeletons of villagers.  The necromancer had killed them all, the men, women, and children, and had left us to clean up the mess.

            “We decided that these people deserved at least a burial, so we dug a large hole and buried all of the corpses.  As we were placing the last bit of dirt on the mound, we heard a commotion behind us, and we turned to see a Nord man stumbling down a hill into the town.  At first glance, he appeared to be no older than thirty, but as he approached, he appeared older and older.  By the time he collapsed at our feet, he looked no younger than seventy.

            “We helped the man to his feet, and he began spouting his story.  He told us that the necromancer had captured many of the villagers and brought them to his lair inside the nearby hill.  The man said that he had escaped before he could find out what the necromancer was doing with the prisoners, but as he escaped he was hit by a curse.  As the man was telling his tale, he was quickly aging, and when he finished he appeared to be on the verge of death.  We comforted the man with the promise that we would kill the necromancer and rescue the prisoners, and he died with a smile on his face.

            “With our newfound knowledge, we headed to the necromancer’s lair on foot, to ensure that we would not be detected.  The journey was short, and but by the time we reached the mouth of the cave, the sun had set.  We stood around the cave entrance, disgusted by the obvious displays of necromancy adorning the walls: skulls, chunks of rotting flesh, black soulgems, and more that I do not care to speak of.  Out of decency, we crushed the soulgems, releasing the souls from their entrapments.  After that, we all lit torches and took our first steps into the cave.  With each passing step, the stench of decay grew stronger, until I was forced to cast a helpful spell I learned from a spellsword that blocked our sense of smell.  The going was a little easier from then on, but the cave was hot and we were all drenched in sweat.  Finally, we reached an opening and stepped into an antechamber.

            “The walls of the antechamber were decorated with crude etchings that demonstrated many perverse spells and rituals.  We pressed on to a stone door at the end of the antechamber, and slowly opened the door.  Beyond the doors there was a room that, at first glance, would appear to be a part of a cave.  However, the walls were smoothed and the stalactites seemed unnaturally sharp.  In the center of the room stood a robed man, floating in midair above a large pile of corpses, and a strange aura was flowing from the corpses to the man.  It was clear that this was the necromancer, performing one of the rituals inscribed on the outer walls.  My instinct was to hide, but Baltorr was a much more straightforward warrior, and he immediately charged into the room screaming for vengeance.  The necromancer turned and cast a spell that hit Baltorr square in the chest.  For a moment it appeared to do nothing, but then Baltorr began to slow, then collapse.  Wrinkles formed all over his skin, and his muscles deteriorated.  His hair turned gray, then white, and then fell off altogether.  His skin dissolved into dust, and by the time his bones hit the floor, they too disintegrated.  The whole time this happened, a purple aura was flowing towards the necromancer, empowering him.  Taken aback by our friend’s demise, we had both stood there dumbly as this took place, but now that it was over, we both charged directly at the necromancer.  The necromancer gave a mere flick of the wrist, and we were suddenly floating a few feet off the ground, unable to move forward.

            “’You thought you could come in here and stop me,’ the necromancer laughed.  ‘Instead, I will use you to finish this ritual and earn me immortality!’  With those words, he motioned backwards with his hand and Dr’zago floated forwards.  With him immobilized, the necromancer cast the same spell into his chest.  He dropped Dr’zago and turned to me.  He extended his arm to cast his death spell, but he underestimated the willpower of Dr’zago.  Screaming, he jumped into the spell’s path.

            “’You will not take another Companion!’ Dr’zago screamed.  However, he only partially blocked the spell, and an aura of its power continued on its path.  I felt a cold sensation, and could feel myself aging.

            “’Fool!’ the necromancer yelled, ‘You only slowed the death of your friend.  As long as I am alive, your lives will channel into me.’

            “’You underestimate me again,’ Dr’zago hissed, ‘you think I am merely a warrior.  I have a brother in the College of Winterhold, and he has been training me in magic.  J’zargo sent me a scroll.  I have it now!’

            “The necromancer’s eyes widened in fear, and Dr’zago pulled out a Scroll of Flame.  Dr’zago activated the scroll, but instead of a burst of flame, Dr’zago exploded in a fiery orb of gore and lava.  The lava hit the necromancer square on the chest, but his enchanted robes turned this killing blow into merely a knockout shot.  He collapsed, but I could feel his grip on me leave.  However, I looked down, and saw what you see now: an old, decrepit man.  I would have killed the necromancer there, but Dr’zago’s explosion created a crater that I could not cross in my old age.  I limped from the cave and was rescued on the road back to Whiterun.”

            At these words, the Cynic’s voice quivered, and he nearly fainted from the tragic memories.  “You see, this story happened just last week.  The necromancer is still in the cave, and I fear he is close to attaining immortality.  Please, Dovahkiin, go to the cave and end the necromancer’s life, if not for vengeance for the people he has killed, then for my enchanted sword that I will give to you in return for this important task.”

            The Cynic stared pleadingly into the eyes of the Dovahkiin, who returned the stare.  Moments passed as the Dovahkiin sat deep in thought.  Finally, he stood up.

            “Have you made a decision, great warrior?” the Cynic pleaded.

            The Dovahkiin merely turned to him and shouted these words: “Fus Ro Dah!”

            The Cynic was caught in the blast of unrelenting force, and his aged neck could not withstand the pressure of the collision with his bed.  His neck snapped, and he died quickly but painfully.

            The Dovahkiin then proceeded to loot every item in the Cynic’s house, then turned to the Cynic and stripped him of all his clothes.  He started teabagging the corpse, but quickly grew bored and left the scene of the crime without a second thought.

The End