The gray clouds over Chorrol rolled and tumbled in the sky like a Reachman's roiling cauldron. Heavy ash-laden rain fell in sparse waves, washing the ground in a sooty black. A lava-filled crag had opened some years before in the aftermath of the Soulburst. The unearthly glow that it cast through strange shadows on the crooked and upended buildings -- yet, despite it all, people remained there. The tavern was open, and some adventurers and survivors of the disaster stayed to make what life they could. It was hard, but it was home.

From trees on the hillside, Mathias Delakrove watched the small town and its assorted unfortunate situations: The precarious bridges over the lava-spewing crag, the flame Atronachs who would wander out from the fire, aftershakes caused by the lava flowing just beneath the surface. Despite all of it, the people who could whether the situation stayed. Adventurers, businessmen, those too stubborn to leave. Chorrol was a shadow of its former self, but it was still home for some.

The darkly-dressed man was sat against a tree, leaning back on its rugged and time-scarred trunk, as the early-evening wind pushed hair around his face in long wisps. The cool, cloud-covered day was descending into a cold night, and the people of Chorrol were shutting themselves in for the night. As things grew quiet, and the fire lights on the street were extinguished, Mathias pushed to his feet and brushed himself off.

For some number of years, Mathias had kept up with his most direct living descendants - the line of Gauvnimal continued through his younger brother. By the sixth century, Second Era, the latest in his line had left their forest home and moved to Chorrol, where they had mostly prospered as merchants. They did well for a long time - until the Soulburst.

They'd been unwilling to leave Chorrol, despite the magma-filled fissure that had opened through its very streets. Business declined as the city's population fell and the trade routes were disrupted - from the war, and from the danger of Chorrol itself. Word reached the Vampire Baron that the Merchants Gauvnimal had fallen in with loan sharks and their bandit-enforcers as a means to keep the wagons rolling until business could recover. From the look of things now, it didn't seem like the Gauvnimals had recovered.

He'd heard through the grapevine - thanks to his underworld connections in Wayrest - that the loan sharks had decided to collect on debts, and that the Gauvnimal merchant and his family were to be "coerced" into paying. He'd decided to make sure that didn't happen.

Mathias didn't think that dealing with a few loan sharks and their muscle would be very difficult. If his sources were right, they were small time and the chain of command ended with a local boss who tried to push around the businesses. Since Chorrol had turned into a lava-lined wasteland, it had been easier for the weasel to worm his way into more coin purses.

Mathias meandered down the grassy, wooded hillside into the village. Now that night had fallen, he found it easier to keep his flesh more peachy than ashen, even though the streets were all but deserted. He followed a few haphazard road signs to find the small office the family also called home. The fires were all out, the windows dark, and Mathias couldn't hear a sound with his ear pressed against the door. Even with his stronger senses, the steady flow of the nearby crag cast a static over his perception and made it hard to hear anything inside. He knelt by a sizable crack in the building's side and, after looking over his shoulders to ensure privacy, used the foul magic of a vampire to move through the tiny hole as a myriad of tiny insects - coming to resemble himself again on the other side as if he'd never changed.

The vampire found himself standing in the 'office' of the Gauvnimal Trade building - a tiny one-room ground floor with nothing but the bare essentials. He looked upwards at the ceiling, focusing on the sounds and feelings above him. Three heartbeats, three souls; it seemed as though the Gauvnimals were sleeping soundly in the upstairs living space of their office. Mathias walked around the time-worn desk in the center of the room and sat down.

It wasn't hard for Mathias to keep an ear open to the winds, to pick up from chatter when the enforcers would be coming to claim their 'just dues'. After that it was just a matter of waiting where he knew they'd attack - and he didn't have to wait long.

To say the loan shark was surprised to see the shadow of a man waiting for them would be an understatement. They had broken into the office through the front door - brazen - wielding knives and clubs. Mathias' brow furrowed in the dark, realizing they meant more to do more than collect on a debt.

"An' who the fuck are you," the leader asked. Mathias recognized him as the loan shark himself.

"Gauvnimal," the vampire answered from the concealing shadows. The shark scoffed.

"You ain't Micah, who the fuck are ya." The leader waved his knife at the shadow as it stood up and walked around the desk. Mathias was unarmed, and his tall, thin frame didn't seem to intimidate the criminals.

"I told you," he said as he stepped into the light. "I'm Gauvnimal." A mild look of recognition crossed the loan shark's face as he saw the resemblance between Mathias and his descendant Micah.

"You gonna pay his debt then, or wrhat?" The man held up his knife, intending to intimidate Mathias with it. The vampire smiled.

"No." The gang exchanged unsure looks as the leader tasted his next words.

"Ar'ight," he held the point of the knife up at Mathias. "Guess I'll stick ya then," he lunged, and Mathias stepped to the side. He twisted the shark's arm backwards until it snapped, and the man's muffled scream ended in silence as Mathias drove him face first into the ground. The remaining enforcers looked between themselves nervously. Mathias took a step toward them and, perhaps in a panic, they attacked. In a series of movements that blurred in the dark, the vampire snapped, shattered and bent the remaining men in kind as they attacked. In the end, only two remained breathing.

Mathias reached down and closed his gloved hand around the leader's fist, crushing it around the dagger he still clung to. He came awake into a sudden pain and his eyes lit with terror and surprise. The vampire lifted the man from the ground by his limp hand an looked down to the other surviving gang member - whose eyes were possibly more widened in fear than his leader's.

"The Gauvnimals have no debt." He spoke to the other survivor as he clutched his leader in the air by his ruined hand. The terrified loan shark struggled uselessly against Mathias' powerful grip.

"W-what do you mean, wh-who are you?!" The loan shark could hardly put together sentences between the panicked sobs. Mathias responded with a quick, sharp punch to his ribs, and the man cried out as ribs broke inside.

"I'm their Uncle." He spoke down to the other broken but living henchman on the ground. "The Gauvnimal's debt is paid by his blood. It's done." He struck the loan shark in the throat, crushing it. He dropped the man and then seemingly disappeared into the shadows, leaving the surviving enforcer alone with his dying boss.