Over the next six days, James stayed within the chapel, leaving it only to assist in the disposal of Dremora bodies, and the recovery of the townfolk with various chores and sundries. The town had taken a tremendous beating, but thanks to Tah-Zer-Ah's efforts, the damage and casualties were minimal compared to a real invasion.
He silently lamented her sacrifice, and he seemed to be the only one to do so, the only one who seemed to know her name in order to do such. It saddened him somewhat, despite barely knowing the creature long enough, he respected the fact that she saved their lives.
Every day, every hour if he could, he checked up on Dar-Ma, a vigilant guard by Seed-Neeus always at her daughter's side as she slept for the entire week. He helped her with anything she needed, even assisting in the running of her store while she stayed near Dar-Ma.
Tah-Zer-Ah's body was never found, gone from the chapel steps as soon as James left her side. He had no idea why, but he kept his word and kept her sword on him at all times, taking a temporary scabbard for it upon his back.
He never left Chorrol for the entire week, doing his utmost best to help the townsfolk recover. Not because he had nowhere else to go, but because he was afraid to leave Dar-Ma's side. Things only turned even stranger when he occasionally found himself the target of certain enemies, only for them to be quickly dispatched by shadowy folk.
He never knew how much of a target for assassination he became, except one time when someone in a crowd tried to stab him, only to be stabbed in turn by someone else in the middle of the square. The dagger had a note upon it, but he couldn't make it out due to being in Cyrodiilic.
All of this made him evermore paranoid for what else he had to expect, but little else came to him in terms of incidents. He felt as if he was being watched constantly, shadows sneaking through alleyways at the corner of his eye, sending chills up his spine, like the cold blade of Tah-Zer-Ah did against his back.
Notes would be left for him in Cyrodiilic that he would never understand, and he was too afraid to ask anyone else to decipher them. All he could do was to keep himself wary. He also feared for Dar-Ma and a potential assassin upon her, but strangely enough there was never any news of any further attacks on the chapel.
Always upon James. It was enough to make him think he truly was jinxed somehow, making his skin crawl on the back of his neck whenever he just saw a shadow out of the corner of his eye. Watching him.
He knew he wanted to leave at some point. He wanted to leave Cyrodiil behind and all of its bloody troubles, the state of fear he knew now the world was living in from the terrors of Oblivion.
But he knew also he would not leave until he was certain of Dar-Ma's fate. He didn't even touch Tah-Zer-Ah's sword unless he was taking it off to sleep beside the altar, fearful of its strange aura, a dark aura that made him feel its history of violence. He finally understood what Glenn meant about his own weapon, the scissors.
Another reason James did not want to touch the longsword was that he feared he would be using it only for one purpose. A purpose he wished he would never have to fulfil, praying for the Argonian maiden's full recovery. He would pray alongside Seed-Neeus for her even. He had never prayed before in his life, at least not this strongly. It would not be the last time either.
On the sixth day, James returned to the chapel. Seed-Neeus approached him with tears in her eyes outside the chapel doors. He feared the worst and held her hand.
He held her tighter, not wanting to hear the words he knew were coming next.
"She's okay. She's okay!"
With his eyes misting up in confused joy, he ran into the chapel, heading towards the altar. Dar-Ma was not there. A voice however came from the pews nearby, in the shadow of a column.
"Good morning James."
"...g-good morning Dar-Ma."
The Argonian maiden sat up in the church seats, sheltering herself from the glaring sunlight as James sat next to her. She was blinking quite strongly in it, but seemed relatively unharmed by her ordeal. Her eyes were pure amber, not a drop of red within them.
"You woke up."
"Indeed...I had the most terrible dreams."
He was trying not to burst with joy at her recovery, shaking in his hands.
"Yes...I kept hearing the night whisper to me. There were demons all around me tearing at me, wanting to take my eyes and change them to that of their kin...I do not know what they meant."
"I think we never will...not that it matters now."
He placed a hand upon hers, which she took and squeezed.
"I was so worried."
"I know, my mother told me you never left my side for more than an hour."
"Both of us even slept beside you, making sure you'd be safe."
"-in my debt?" They both smirked and giggled nervously, trying to expel some anxiety from the past week.
"Yes. Thank you James. I remember what you told me...but the fact you watched over me...I feel as if you're my guardian angel."
"Hahaha, ohhh I dunno about that. Maybe Tah-Zer-Ah is, even though she's not an angel."
"Tah-Zer-Ah...the Argonian with the wings."
"OH! So that's her name?"
"Yep...she told me when you were asleep."
"Then I must thank her! Where is she now?"
"She...had to leave for some important business."
"Oh...well, if you ever see her again, will you tell her that I thank her?"
James cuddled Dar-Ma close to his side, an arm wrapped around her, the warmth of the sunlight barely covering them as they gazed upon the chapel's interior from the shades, the windows glistening with nine radiant faces.
"The gods blessed you then," said James in a small admittance.
"Yes. I heard them...I think."
"I do not know who...but I heard someone, pleading me to wake up, to...to hold on...I did my best. I tried, but..."
She started to shake with tears flowing from her cheeks.
"I was so frightened, when I couldn't see you anymore! You disappeared into the darkness! I...I was scared for my mother, and for you and all my friends here in Chorrol!"
"Shhhh sh sh sh sh..." James hugged her tighter, nuzzling her wet scaled cheeks. "It's alright Dar-Ma...it's over now. No more nightmares."
"I know...I have you and Tah-Zer-Ah to thank."
"And the people in this church."
"I thanked them too...thank you."
She kissed him upon the cheek, a simple kiss that sent shivers of warmth through him. He kissed her cheek in return, rubbing her shoulder with his arm around her, her eyes a little weak but back to their regular colour at least.
"You better go home and get some rest."
"I will...I was just waiting for you, praising the Nine for saving me."
"Hehe, same here. Thank you."
He said his thanks to the stained glass around him, spurred by emotion.
"I owe them for this."
"I thought you did not believe in them?" asked Dar-Ma with a smirk.
"Well...only because I never got the chance."
Despite the warm reunion, there then came the awkward ending that James knew was coming up. He swore to himself that as soon as Dar-Ma had recovered, he would leave Cyrodiil. He told her such a while later, after cuddling silently.
"I have to go soon."
"I told you before, back in Skingrad. I wasn't gonna be here long. I only stayed longer because of you...I wanted to make sure you were better."
"Well...I...I am now." She admitted this with regret.
"Hey...don't be sad. You have a long life to go, you'll find someone you're much more in tune with."
"Are you certain of that James?"
"Why not? It happened to me." A wide smile from the raptor made Dar-Ma blush.
"You...mean that? Then why not stay?"
"Because I have to go home. I have to save someone...someone dear to me."
"...my family. I dunno what happened to them. I need to know if they're okay."
"Will you return one day? At the very least to see me again?"
"Sure...I'll come back, one day, after I've done what I need to do."
"I'd like that."
James kissed her upon the lips before taking her back home, holding her hand as they left the chapel, half-imagining the idea of being married with a whimsical grin. They travelled through the streets of Chorrol, the people smiling once again, the town largely back to its former self.
They walked slowly, savouring the freshest air they had felt in ages, blessing each other for the most beautiful morning in Cyrodiil. The town was resplendent in celebrating, as well as mourning, for the aftermath of their survival. The casualties had been thankfully few, but they were casualties nevertheless.
Seed-Neeus greeted them at the Northern Goods and Trade, embracing her daughter heartily so, giving another hug to James in deepest gratitude for all he had done.
"Won't you come in, at least for a little lunch?" asked Seed-Neeus.
"Not this time. I have to go home. I can't stay here anymore."
"We understand. Thank you once again, James."
"Thank YOU for...well, everything you've done to me. Dar-Ma...take care will you?"
"I will James...but...please. Take this."
She reached into her pocket and brought out a pendant, a sad little thing, nothing but shoestring with a small black piece of an orb hanging upon it. James smirked at the thing, and remembered he still had a fully working sigil stone in his satchel.
"You sure you want to give that to me?"
"Please...just to remember me by."
He swiftly put it on himself, a harmless little object. But he appreciated it nonetheless.
"Thank you Dar-Ma."
"The pleasure is mine James...farewell."
"Take care of yourself."
And so the raptor left Chorrol for the last time, departing through the gates, with both blades and pendant in tow, striding out into the Great Forest. Yet he still felt unfinished. Even within this great land, most of which he had not seen, there felt something...incomplete.
He soon found out why as he began walking to somewhere undisclosed where he could teleport himself safely away from prying eyes, finding a small copse north of Chorrol. As he walked at least a mile away from the town, the feeling of being watched suddenly came upon him.
He readied his scissors and turned, fearing the worst, perhaps a straggler from the hordes of Oblivion come for revenge. Nothing was behind him. Nothing from the sides as the grass softly flowed in the growing mist of the afternoon. Noticing the trees nearby, he looked up.
In the shadow of the treetops, there was a darker shadow among them. Wings spread out, different-coloured eyes, blackened scales. The creature swooped down to land on its feet before James.
"For someone who mourned little at my passing, you remember me well."
"Sorry for that but...uh...I was more worried about Dar-Ma but...you're alive?!"
"I told you before. I do not fear death. And don't worry, I am not offended at your reaction to my last passing."
"Dark forces, right...but holy shit."
"Hah, holy power has nothing to do with such."
"But still! How...are you like, invincible or..."
"I would say I am...an immense chore to destroy." James had to snigger at such a phrase.
"Right. Um...what are you doing here?"
"I am here to retrieve what is rightfully mine."
"Yes. May I?"
She held out her night-skinned hand as he gently unhooked the scabbard from himself, and handed it over to her. A smile came to her lips upon being reunited with her darkest blade.
"So uh...I guess all's said and done then right?"
"Indeed...I am glad to see my blade protected you."
"Well I didn't even use it, it didn't feel right."
"Not the blade itself. The reason I gave it to you, was because of what it represents."
"Wait, what do you mean?"
"Whosoever has this blade has the night itself become his ally. It would make sure that it would protect you from becoming a...target."
"target...wait...you mean when I was being watched and-"
"Yes. Friends of mine kept an eye on you."
"Wait...are they like...shadows? Guys in hoods? Are they like some kinada cult or something?"
"More than that. I consider them more like a brotherhood."
"So a cult then. Well...I appreciate it."
"So uh...what are ya gonna do now?"
"I'm not sure..." She turned towards the mountains with a fond smile. "Since things have calmed down here, I suppose I could go to Skyrim. I hear things will become QUITE interesting there."
"Heh right. What is Skyrim like?"
"I do not know...yet. We shall soon find out. I have travelled only within the land of Cyrodiil. I enjoy it here more than anywhere else. This world has nothing but ocean beyond it. Have you ever seen the ocean James?"
"Hmm...was merely curious. I wish to stay in this world."
"And I have to leave...much as I enjoy being with Dar-Ma, I need to get back to my home."
"Yes...you do. Never lose sight of that."
"I don't plan to...and uh...I dunno what else to-"
Before he could react, she suddenly pulled him close and gripped his hand within hers, before bringing his snout closer. A kiss was softly planted upon his cheek, before one was given fully to his lips.
The kiss was strange, not like a standard physical meeting of lips. This one felt deeper. More...sensual, reaching deeper into his body, making his body tingle all over with a deep warmth he had never felt before. It was not the warmth of love. It was the warmth of his soul being touched, somehow.
When their lips parted, the raptor was in a bit of shock.
"Wh...what was that for?"
"For reminding me. Of what love is like."
"You had the potential to become a coward, to run away and care only for yourself. But you didn't. Even if you barely knew her, you chose to stand and fight. Always remember that."
"Well...I'm not gonna forget but why say that?"
"That aura of darkness in you...I hope that it will never consume you."
"I...I'll do my best. But...I don't know how I-"
She placed a finger upon his lips, his eyes clearly confused at such cryptic words.
"Take my words as they are. Do not think you are special because of that."
"Heh, I'll try."
"Good. Now...farewell. Our ways will never meet again."
"Your friends...whoever they are...could you ask them to look after Dar-Ma and her mum, Seed-Neeus?"
"Just...just so I know nothing will happen to them. Just promise me that."
"Very well. You honoured my promise, so I shall honour yours. The night shall protect them from all harm."
"Thank you...maybe you shouldn't tell them though."
"Oh...don't worry...they'll never know who shall be watching over them."
With that, she soon disappeared into the growing mist, walking away from the raptor. For a moment, James swore he could see her wings spread, the sounds of them flapping before a great wind blew against him.
Her shadow faded swiftly into the afternoon, leaving the raptor free to depart his own way. He had nothing on his mind to think of however, trying his best to think of a good word to depart with.
Eventually, after a while of pondering against a tree, the mist slowly shrouding around him, a word came to him. He thought over Tah-Zer-Ah's words, cryptic as they were, the term ocean sticking out in his mind.
As he pondered about the ocean, he thought about Sarah, and wondered if she had ever been to the ocean either. Somehow that thought sparked something in him, as tenuous as it was. He smiled and readied his departure, the fog briefly exploding around him in the ensuing nano-vortex, as he faded away from the land of Cyrodiil.
He left without leaving so much as a footnote within the great records of Cyrodiil. But he will always be remembered within a maiden's diary.