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Tenet breaker. The words filled the Speaker with an odd mix of dread, anger and anticipation. This Brotherhood he had joined all those years ago, this 'family', laughable though that idea had seemed at times when he was younger, less controlled... well, it was a family now, his family. This Sanctuary was his own child, his own creation built and nurtured from the wider Family in Cyrodiil. He was Master of this house, and he prided himself in its smooth operation, its devotion to the Night Mother, its quality of assassins whom he hand-picked himself and schooled personally to ensure Sithis, the Brotherhood's way of life, the Tenets were understood and respected.

So he took it personally when a member of his household broke their oaths. First the disappointment and anger. Was he wrong to recruit them? Had he seen something that wasn't there? No, they took a wrong turn somewhere on their journey. They might be killers but not all would remain worthy.

The dread then creeps up, almost unnoticeable, until the anger pales in its shadow. Another one lost. Sometimes he thought about rationalising a punishment, if the offence was minor enough and the member showed enough promise. But all the Tenets were sacred and the Speaker's flock must understand that. He often wondered if dread was too strong a word for what he felt, if he really did feel anything, but he always concluded that he did, if only briefly; with each one he dealt with, the rules of his Sanctuary were further enforced to the rest of his house, it became purer than it was before, and so the dread faded, the anger focussed, fuelling the anticipation that now rose.

Lucien rose to his feet. Head now clear of regrets, doubts, disappointment, he could look forward to the task at hand. This Tenet Breaker was no longer part of his Family. They had no future. They now had one job, to serve as an example to the rest, to demonstrate that sacrilege was a grave crime here. They were not a band of murderers or hired killers, they were Family under one Unholy Mother and Father. They would not act otherwise.

And he would now have the pleasure of impressing this upon his remaining Family members.

***

The living quarters were quiet. Those that weren't on a contract were either resting or tending to their gear. The door opened fully and those that were awake jumped to their feet as their Speaker entered.

“Gaius Messellius?” The Speaker asked calmly, looking each of his assassins in the eye.

No one said a word but the eyes of each fell on an Imperial asleep on his bed towards the end of the room. Lucien took up a position at his bedside. The man needed no rousing, it was as though Lucien was visiting in the night for the first time again. Awakening suddenly with a shiver he sat bolt upright, but did not rise to his feet out of respect as the others had done. Something in the man's gaze, the atmosphere...

“Gaius Messellius, it appears that you have broken a Tenet. Would you correct me in this account?” Lucien asked the question casually, almost amicably. The ice in the air did not seem to fit the scene.

The Imperial considered his response. To the others the Speaker was casual as can be, but they knew that nothing more was necessary in this interrogation. The man seemed able to bore into your very soul with simple eye contact.

The assassin shivered again and spoke up hoarsely. “Speaker... we... had a disagreement... I was just evening the score...”

The Imperial might have caught the smile that flashed across the Speaker's face before he broke his arm. The other assassins cleared the way as the boy was hauled out, feet barely touching the ground. No speech was necessary; they knew what he had done, and they knew they would not see any more of him until the door to the torture chamber was unbolted in a few days. Perhaps a week, if he was strong.

***

There was just enough life left in the woman who lay chained in this dungeon to open her eyes a fraction as the door opened. The only light was the torch he carried but she could recognise him. Now, though, she had no energy left to clench in fear at the sight of the man who had been questioning her. At least it had started with questions. She assumed she was now some sort of toy for this clearly very twisted man, to remain here until death came for her. And she prayed to the Nine every moment for that time to come soon.

But now he had brought another. This one was wearing the same boots as he, she noticed, having had much time to study them from the stone floor. But... her torturer was chaining this one up, too. He was restrained and eventually became quiet. She saw her torturer remove his gloves, slowly, allowing the creak of the leather to fill the chamber. He lowered his hood in front of the new prisoner and the woman made out a few words about family and betrayal. He turned around to a table of tools and eventually picked up a knife, studying it, stroking it, like it was something beloved. She could see his face in the flickering torchlight, even see the glimmer in his eyes. She'd seen that look too many times before. By the Nine... he does this to his own?

In the pitch black of the chamber, the only thing visible was the new victim and this man in black, softly illuminated in a small halo of torchlight, like some unholy vision sent by an equally twisted god. She closed her eyes and prayed harder, hoping she might learn to close her ears too.

“You have betrayed me and the Dark Brotherhood, Tenet Breaker. Now, you shall know the Wrath Of Sithis.”