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> Sleeper in the Cave, a Morrowind fanfic
Kazaera
post Aug 18 2010, 06:37 PM
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Welcome, all and sundry, to Sleeper in the Cave - the tale of Adryn, a... you know, any capped biography I give you here won't do her justice. Instead, have the...
Summary: Adryn really doesn't know what she's doing on this land with oversized wildlife, natives who think giant fleas are good forms of transport, and Imperial spymasters so skooma-addled they think she's spy material, but she has every intention of surviving the rampant stupidity of everyone around her. However, she doesn't know that by setting foot on the island she's set into motion events that cannot be stopped...

I'm trying to make this easier to read in one go, so... chapter links follow, each chapter will have the different parts linked, and each section will have a link to the previous and next unless I forget. You can also read the whole thing on Fanfiction.net or the Archive of Our Own, but note that those will generally be lagging behind the Chorrol thread in terms of updates (I only post a chapter once it's been posted in total here, and sometimes I forget).

Chapter 1: 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Interlude I

Now, with no further ado:

*****

Chapter 1

I was dreaming.

Most people cannot tell when they are dreaming, and I admit I am usually inexcusably lax when it comes to this matter as well. Why, just a few weeks ago I had dreamt of being Archmage of the Mages' Guild and ordering all my underlings to pick cats from trees when they were ripe because we needed new apprentices... and not realised the impossible nature of it all until after I'd woken up. Shameful! However, this time there were several things that led me to cleverly deduce I was, in fact, asleep and my current situation a product of my subconscious mind.

First of all, I was in the middle of a mountain range, looking at a large volcano. The ground was grey and ashy, the only vegetation twisted trees, black branches grasping at the sky. Lava pools dotted the landscape, giving the whole scene an eerie glow.

Now, although it all looked rather fantastic I was perfectly happy to accept this place might exist somewhere, but my presence in it was another matter. I should not be seeing anything except my own personal cell in the Imperial City prison, and very occasionally my jailer - much though I'd rather forget that sight. Let me just say the sloppy gruel I was served twice a day, with its unidentifiable lumps and disturbing tendency to seem to move every time I looked away, was infinitely more attractive and charismatic. And although I'd told him I'd appreciate a change of decor, I'd more been thinking of wallpaper and maybe a potted plant.

Secondly, the sky was red. And by that I don't mean some poetic exaggeration of a sunset - the entire sky was a bright, vivid, uniform crimson. It looked as if someone had spilled a sea of blood among the stars. Wisps of grey clouds raced across it, forming strange patterns. For a moment, I thought I saw a face, screaming...

Apparently, I'd been so occupied keeping my track of my conscious thoughts that I'd sorely neglected my unconscious. If it was going to throw blood skies and clouds in agony at me, we were definitely going to have to have a talk.

Lastly...

I looked down. Several hundred feet below me, a tree looked as if it was about to rip itself out of the ground and hunt unwary passersby for dinner.

If I could fly, I really thought I would have noticed that earlier.

"You know," I said out loud, "If I'm going to dream, I would like to dream about something pleasant. Something like... Summerset Isle." I'd seen a drawing of it in a book once and been struck by the beauty. "Although I suppose it must be full of snooty Altmer. Or I could dream about managing a daring escape from prison underneath the guards' noses. Or... I know! A secret tunnel built into my cell and a bunch of... Blades, yes, Blades need to use it, and I escape behind them." That seemed the right sort of incredibly improbable fantasy for a dream.

I closed my eyes, focused on the image of the wall of my cell swinging back and a group of Blades and... why not, if you're going to fantasise you might as well do it properly... the Emperor dashing through it. Opened them again.

Volcano.

I shook my head at it sadly. "This really won't do, you know. You seem to be misunderstanding something here - I'm the one that makes the rules. I'm sure you're a very nice volcano, but I'd like to see daring escapes. This is my dream and I don't hold with rebellion."

"Your dream?"

I shrieked. The voice was just a sibilant whisper, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at once, seemed to be composed of thousands of voices all layered on top of each other, and even after it had finished speaking the echoes lingered in the air.

"This is not your dream, foolish child. I am the one that has brought you here and you. Will. Listen." The voice kept growing, filling the air like a gong. I clapped my hands over my ears, but to my horror it didn't do anything - it was as if the sound was coming from inside my head.

"I'm listening! I'm listening!" I screamed. My voice sounded tinny and hollow compared to the... other one.

"Good." The voice paused for a moment. My panting breath echoed loudly in the stillness.

"Wake up!" Another voice, this one, as hollow as mine - a pebble compared to an avalanche, impossible to focus on.

"The preparations are complete. You have been taken from the Imperial City, to the east, as it should be. Fear not, for I am watchful." I could barely think, but managed to dimly wonder how exactly that last sentence was supposed to make me feel less afraid. "Soon, you will arrive. Soon, you will fulfill your promise."

That was too much. "What promise?" I shouted, hands dropping from my head to ball into fists at my side. "I haven't promised you anything! I don't make promises as a matter of principle, it can't possibly have been me who, who did whatever you're talking about you have the wrong person-"

"It has already begun." Despite the sheer overpowering alien nature of the voice, I could tell there was a strange note of satisfaction in it.

A soft crackling noise made me glance down - then I stared in horror. My hands were changing. The very bones were shifting, cracking and then rehealing as they grew in ways nature had never meant them to. My skin was writhing, puffing outwards and its colour was slowly, ever-so-slowly growing lighter, yellowish, metallic-

"You're dreaming, wake-"

"Wake. Up."

I came awake with a start, still caught in the dreamworld. That changed when I jerked myself into a sitting position and-

"Ow!"

I let myself fall back onto the floor with a groan and rubbed my head with one hand - although on the whole stars were preferable to volcanos, I'd prefer not to see either when I closed my eyes. Apparently, my cell had suddenly gained a very low ceiling.

"Typical. Sleeps through the entire voyage, including the storm last night where I thought the ship was about to go under, and then decides to get up the precise instant I'm leaning over her. Just typical." Or maybe it wasn't the ceiling I'd cracked my head against.

Or, for that matter, my cell I was in.

"Sorry about that," I croaked. My throat felt as though I had screamed myself hoarse.

"You almost broke my nose," the voice complained. Dimly, I recognised that it was the second voice from the... dream. "Do you know how long it took me to get it into this shape? Just crooked enough to be mysterious and give me the look of a proper, dashing rogue straight out of the romance novels without being disfiguring. You almost ruined it!"

"Are you saying," I asked weakly, "that you break your nose regularly? For the sake of... attracting ladies?"

"And now you're insinuating I'm crazy enough to break my nose on purpose!" A pause. "I got a friend to do it."

The stars were gone, so I felt quite justified in carefully opening an eye and gauging the appearance of my new, eccentric, roommate. Immediately after, I opened the other one to stare.

The man – no, the mer – was leaning against a wall. His head was bald and covered in tattoos, his nose slightly crooked without being offputting, giving him – I admit – a rather debonair look, even if the rough clothes detracted from it somewhat. His eyes-

And here came the reason I was staring. His eyes were as red and his skin as grey as my own.

Fragmented images from the nightmare swirled back into my mind and I stopped gawking in order to chance a quick glance down at myself. Yes, my skin was still grey, my hands the same shape they'd always been. Gawking could resume presently.

"Your judgement of the matter, m'lady?" the other dark elf said, and I realised he thought I'd been staring at his nose.

"It suits you," I told him quickly. Considering how fed up I'd always become when people stared at me, I didn't want to do the same to anyone else. Especially considering he was the same race I saw every time I looked in the mirror, even if I didn't often see it outside of one. How embarrassing! "Good look, although the clothes don't exactly scream 'storybook hero'. And if you really got someone to break your nose for it, you're mad."

"Unfortunately, prisoners have never been given the finest selection of clothing. It's always 'sack, sack with holes or sack with more holes – take your pick.' Terrible shame, that," he answered, his face falling mournfully. "And as for the nose, well... I did – in a way. A friend certainly did break my nose, and he informed me later that I had been asking for it. Namely, by saying what I said about his sister, and by being too drunk to dodge."

"What you said about his sister? If it was some slander, I may have to stop speaking to you," I said, raising an eyebrow.

"I was perfectly courteous!" he protested. "Well, perhaps a bit too courteous, if you understand what I mean. My friend has always been a bit... overprotective, and when I expressed interest..."

"Say no more." I could imagine the scene very clearly in my mind's eye, and suddenly had a difficult time suppressing laughter.

"Indeed, I shall stop dwelling on such past flames and give proper attention to the present one." He bowed, a gesture that looked particularly ridiculous given his clothes, my clothes (in no better condition than his) and our surroundings, which, although not my cell, were just as bare of any amenities - I sadly noted the lack of wallpaper and potted plant. I'd really wanted that potted plant. "My name is Jiub. What would yours be, oh fair lady Nosebreaker?"

"Adryn. And I didn't break your nose!" I protested.

"Came very close, if my chin hadn't been in the way... anyway," Jiub sighed, the comedic manner dropping away, making him look much older and more tired. "We should be reaching Morrowind soon. I'm sure they'll let us go."

It was my second big shock in as many minutes. "Excuse me, did you just say Morrowind?"

"Well, obviously, since that's where the ship's bound for – oh wait, you've been asleep since before you boarded, haven't you?"

"There may have been some magic involved," I said defensively.

"Oh, I was sure that there was magic involved. Or possibly that you were on the brink of death. We've been travelling for three days now, you see."

The news that I'd slept for three days – at least – wasn't nearly as disturbing as it should have been; I suppose three shocks in as many minutes were where my mind went on strike.

"Anyway, yes. This ship is headed for Morrowind."

Morrowind. I stared – past Jiub this time. It was a place I knew next to nothing about. I knew it was in the far north-east of the Empire, one of the remotest provinces. And, of course, I knew one other thing, one that had always fascinated me deeply – it was the home of the dark elves.

I hadn't the faintest idea why I was on a ship – and now that Jiub had told me, I realised the shape of the room we were in and the rocking motion should have told me immediately that was where I was; I blamed grogginess from the long sleep – heading to Morrowind of all places.

Heading east.

I shivered as the words from my dream floated to the top of my mind... you have been taken to the east. You will fulfill your promise. then shook my head, trying to drive them out of my thoughts. It wouldn't matter at all where we were heading, I told myself. One Imperial prison was much like another, after all, and as for the dream? I'd probably just reacted badly to the magic they'd used to induce sleep.

It has already begun...

Just my imagination, I told myself firmly.

*****

Next

This post has been edited by Kazaera: Apr 23 2017, 11:36 PM


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hazmick
post Aug 18 2010, 07:09 PM
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Hello, this a really good start to what I hope is to be a really good story. I found myself laughing throughout the read which is a good sign. The charcters feel naturual and are well described. I hope there will be more in the future. biggrin.gif


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Haa-Rei

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"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

"...a quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business."
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haute ecole rider
post Aug 18 2010, 07:56 PM
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Though I've never played MW, I've read enough MW fan fic to know how the quest starts.

I particularly enjoyed the touch of the Oblivion tutorial dungeon (secret tunnel, Blades, the Emperor) somewhere just after the beginning.

Oh, and your portrayal of Juib was the most priceless one I've seen! I loved it!


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treydog
post Aug 18 2010, 09:31 PM
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Already I am in love with this story. And it usually takes more than just one installment- I may be cheap, but I ain't easy. Ahem.

QUOTE
Let me just say the sloppy gruel I was served twice a day, with its unidentifiable lumps and disturbing tendency to seem to move every time I looked away, was infinitely more attractive and charismatic.


QUOTE
"And now you're insinuating I'm crazy enough to break my nose on purpose!" A pause. "I got a friend to do it."


Alright, where is D. Foxy's warning label? We need it prominently displayed:

DO NOT READ THIS STORY-

WHILE HOLDING, ATTEMPTING TO SWALLOW, OR OTHERWISE USING BEVERAGES

WHILE ACTING LIKE YOU ARE WORKING

IF YOU ARE POSSESSED OF A WEAK BLADDER (and you all know who you are)


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Helena
post Aug 18 2010, 09:39 PM
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Ah, another humorous Morrowind story! I have competition! tongue.gif

Just kidding, of course. I really like it so far, and I was impressed by the descriptive passages - the sky, the gruel, Azura's voice - as well as the humour (I particularly liked the sly reference to Oblivion's opening sequence). I'm also curious to know why Adryn has hardly ever met another Dunmer.
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SubRosa
post Aug 18 2010, 10:24 PM
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A fun start to what looks like a very enjoyable romp through Morrowind! With her dry wit, Adryn is a fun character to read. You have avoided the temptation of so many to give us a massive infodump all about her in the first post, but are instead giving us a bit at a time. Just enough to keep us wanting more!

As others mentioned, the not-so-subtle wink at the plot of Oblivion was delicious!

with its unidentifiable lumps and disturbing tendency to seem to move every time I looked away
ewwww! biggrin.gif


nits:
a tree looked as if it was about to rip itself out of the ground and hunt unwary passerby for dinner.
I think this was meant to be plural, and thusly passersby?


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Kazaera
post Aug 18 2010, 11:32 PM
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@everyone - thank you for the feedback! biggrin.gif I'm glad everyone seems to be enjoying it so far!

@hazmick - thank you! I'm glad you found it amusing smile.gif I was actually having trouble getting the humour into the first part - the dream made it very hard to keep Adryn's internal monologue properly funny and in character - so it's very good to know you seem to think it worked. smile.gif

@haute ecole - I sympathise, I'm the same with Oblivion. smile.gif (Never played it but familiar with pieces from fanfic - as you can tell from the homage...) I'm glad you liked Jiub! He sort of ran away with the dialogue as soon as he appeared, I'm starting to consider having him pop up again later because I like him so much.

@treydog - wow, I'm blushing here. Especially when the comment comes from Trey! I hope the rest of the story will continue to interest you.

@Helena - as said, I don't think I'll be that much competition compared to Ada, but thank you! biggrin.gif I'm glad you like the description, that's actually one bit I'm having trouble with (unless Adryn notices something, in which case she can get... slightly carried away.) As far as not knowing many other Dunmer, I may be exaggerating a little but... well, you'll see.

@SubRosa - thank you! I'm glad you like Adryn's voice, it's what makes me enjoy writing this story most. And as far as infodumps go... I don't much like them either, and really enjoy having people figure out things from bits and pieces and at least holding off on retellings of backstory until the reader has had enough time to get invested. More importantly, though, I've actually been writing this story for five years. Do you know when I finally figured out most (not all. Most.) of Adryn's backstory?

One month ago.

I actually spent some time thinking she had been brought into existence by Azura on the prison boat, she was that unwilling to talk about her past... except for very occasional tiny tantalising tidbits, and as soon as she seemed to be about to talk or think about something bigger she'd change the subject. Grrrr. That girl is as tight-lipped as an ash ghoul. She does, actually, now have a backstory complete with childhood and everything but infodumps are highly unlikely. I won't make you wait as long as I did to figure out what her story was and will put in more clues, but... well. Suffering is there to be shared, right? smile.gif

oh yeah, and eta: I'd thought "passerby" was both singular and plural, but checking dictionary.com tells me you're right. Sorry about that! Am editing now, thank you for pointing that out.

@everyone, again - question! About how often is it customary to update your story? I've got another, what, twenty or so installments written (although I am currently in process of rewriting chapter one so that might take a bit) but I don't want to spam the forum or anything.

This post has been edited by Kazaera: Aug 19 2010, 01:12 AM


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haute ecole rider
post Aug 19 2010, 12:59 AM
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To answer your question, I update mine every other day, until I run out of material. Since I've written out to Chapter 19 before writer's block hit, and just started Chapter 14 (split up into sections), it'll be a couple o' months, I figure, before I have to overcome the darn thing and beat it into submission.

Others update once a week, or a couple times a week, when their schedule allows. Still others update less often, when the muse moves them. I might join the latter crowd eventually!


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Acadian
post Aug 19 2010, 02:00 AM
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Welcome to the Arena, Kaz. Nicely done. I enjoy Oblivion stories because of their familiarity. I enjoy Morrowind stories because the fanfic characters guide me through unfamiliar territory.

Adryn has a nice voice and you've a clever way with words. smile.gif

QUOTE
@everyone, again - question! About how often is it customary to update your story? I've got another, what, twenty or so installments written (although I am currently in process of rewriting chapter one so that might take a bit) but I don't want to spam the forum or anything.
Because I have dozens of episodes stacked up, I am posting at the feverish pace of every three days. Once I get my story caught up, I will go to my preferred rate of once per week. I also prefer post lengths of 1000-2000 words (like your first chapter is).

Nit:
QUOTE
I closed my eyes, focussed on the image of the wall of my cell swinging back and a group of Blades and...
focused

This post has been edited by Acadian: Aug 19 2010, 02:01 AM


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hazmick
post Aug 19 2010, 02:01 AM
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I posted my first 3 installments in quick succession (every other day) but I had loads of mistakes that I had overlooked (thankfully they were spotted by the eagle eyes of some literary legends and I was able to sort them out). I'm writing them slowly, spending a few hours a day editing and re-editing until I'm happy with it. So probably once a week or something.


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Haa-Rei

Cirinwe

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

"...a quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business."
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SubRosa
post Aug 19 2010, 02:04 AM
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As h.e.o. said, I also update mine every other day with a post that is generally 1k-2k long. It all depends on where a good breaking point is in the chapter. It also depends on how far ahead I am at the time. I had 17 chapters written out when I was posting on a previous forum. But when I started posting here at Chorrol I decided to use the opportunity to tweak things a bit, and have added many brand new chapters in the middle of the old ones. So sometimes I go a week or two without updating if I am still in the process of writing new material. Then once I get a chapter done it post it in that every other day schedule until it is all up. Most of my chapters are in the 10k+ these days, so it can take a few weeks. In fact, haute and I work it so we post ever other day.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Aug 19 2010, 02:04 AM


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Olen
post Aug 19 2010, 08:35 PM
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Excellent piece, another funny one which is nice to see, and about my favourite of the TES games. I shall certainly be reading this one. As others have said the comment on the oblivion opening was inspired, I laughed aloud at that, it just fitted so well into the narrative and tone it was meant to be there.

I liked the repeated Potted plant thing too, it shows a bit of Adryn's character while also setting the dry humour of the tone. She has the look of a good character and I like it that you've preserved the mystery around her to keep the tension while the initial part of the game (and hardest bit to write) happens.

And Juib... well... I hadn't seen him portrayed like that before blink.gif Hilarious smile.gif

As for post length and frequency it's largely down to your own tastes. If you post too much poeple won't have time to keep up and so comments don't come, slow seems to have less problems other than that it is slow (Trey's 'Blood on the Moon' has been going three years now). Less than 1k is probably too short, more than 3.5k is too long (threatening wall of text syndrome kicks in). When I'm posting I go for 2k (or thereabouts) twice a week.

This post has been edited by Olen: Aug 19 2010, 08:39 PM


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Kazaera
post Aug 20 2010, 06:46 AM
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Thanks for the info, everyone! I think I can manage to work out a posting schedule now. smile.gif But first, posting this because I'm still on holiday and don't know the next time I'll get to update.

@Acadian - thank you! smile.gif

"Focussed" is actually an alternate UK spelling, but since "focused" is accepted and more common in both I'll just edit to reduce confusion.

@Olen - the potted plant thing was a last-minute addition, so I'm glad you liked it. (It may make a reoccurence later...) I'm glad you're enjoying it so far, hope Adryn continues to interest you...

Previous

Chapter 1, part 2

*****

We chatted for a while, Jiub dropping the sombre tone with alarming speed. I wasn't sure whether it was me or himself he was trying to cheer up with his exaggerated, foppish manner. If it was me, it worked splendidly. I was actually giggling, the dream almost entirely forgotten when Jiub shushed me, warning that the guard was coming.

The guard came to see us sitting on the floor side-by-side in perfect silence, faces perfectly composed as we stared back at him. He muttered something that sounded like "crazy Dunmer", then barked at me to come with him.

Only me, apparently; I looked helplessly towards Jiub, who just shrugged, the message 'what can you do' clearly evident in his expression. Then I hurried after the guard.

He shooed me through the hold and finally up onto the deck of the ship after saying, "let's keep this as civil as possible." I'm not entirely sure why the warning. What was he expecting me to do – sit down on the floor and refuse to go a step further? Because an Imperial prison ship is such a wonderfully pleasant place to be, after all. They'll start renting them out as cruise ships for the nobility in Imperial City any day now, I'm sure. Or maybe attack him with my bare hands?

Needless to say, the proceedings were perfectly civil on my side of things. Really, if anyone needed the reminder he did – apparently basic politeness was beyond him. Too much for his already overworked little brain, I conjectured.

The guard didn't follow me outside and I took a moment to catch my breath – I was really in terrible shape, and the fact that it was much, much warmer than I was used to didn't help – and look around.

I stared.

The ship was docked at a small village, consisting of some houses built in typical Imperial fashion but mainly shacks that looked as if they were about to sink into the surrounding swamp. The entire coast seemed to be swamp, in fact, turning into low hills further inland. It seemed the land rose even further; in the distance, I thought I could make out a mountain range. The swamp was filled with greenery, all of it entirely unfamiliar to me. The trees were alien, the flowers were alien, even the mushrooms were alien. (Yes, I am sure. They were quite a distance away, it is true, but the mushrooms I was used to don't glow.) The air was filled with strange sounds – no bird-calls, but chittering and clicking and strange hoots.

Oh, and there was a giant flea standing just past the village.

I looked at it for a moment, then decided it was a hallucination brought on by too much sleep.

Someone cleared their throat. I jumped.

Apparently, I couldn't be trusted to walk two feet by myself; here was yet another guard. And down there on the dock was a third. Wonderful.

I endured the rat-race of being escorted from guard to guard and finally made my way through the door of what Guard Number Two had called the "census office". (Guard Number Three had merely wanted to know where I was from. Frankly, if the people supposedly in charge of registering arrivals don't even know where the ships coming in are from, this place is in deep trouble.)

Inside, I was greeted with another guard and – for a change – a bureaucrat. Now, some people might be puzzled that I can recognise bureaucrats on sight. Personally, I find it very easy. There is a certain aura bureaucrats have, one that seems to incite a mixture of suicidal and homicidal impulses in those forced to be around them – I know it well.

The bureaucrat, an elderly Breton, started talking. "Ah yes, we've been expecting you."

Now that was worrisome. Expecting me? Since when was I important enough that anyone should be expecting me? I'd been expecting something more on the lines of "I have no idea who you are or what you did and I don't particularly care. Off to X Imperial prison with you."

"My name is Socucius Ergalla," correction, an elderly Breton with delusions of being Imperial. Very sad, "and I am in charge of the Census and Excise office here in Seyda Neen. Now, you'll have to be recorded before you're officially released," he was continuing.

"Wait. Released?" I asked.

Ergalla, looked distinctly annoyed at having been interrupted. "Yes. Released. As I was saying, we prefer to record all incoming individuals to this island and-"

"You mean you're just letting me go?"

"I should have thought that would be obvious," he snapped, and unrolled a piece of paper. "I have the orders right here. 'By order of Emperor Uriel Septim VII, prisoner 103841's sentence is to be changed from ten years' imprisonment to exile in the province of Morrowind.' Now if you would let me continue..."

I shut up, not in order to comply with his instructions but because I found myself speechless.

The Empire doesn't just shoo prisoners out the door with a "so sorry for the trouble, here, have fun in your new home." And what was this about 'by order of the Emperor'? I dearly hoped that that was some kind of bureaucratic formality, because although I had no idea why the Emperor himself might take an interest in me, one thing I was sure of – it couldn't possibly be a good thing.

"Anyway. What is your name?"

"Adryn," I said for the second time that day.

Ergalla raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Just 'Adryn'? No family name?"

"No," I snapped.

"Hmm. Interesting." He scribbled something on a sheet of paper. "Your place of origin?"

"Do you mean the place I grew up in, the place I spent most of my life or the place I was living in last?" I asked.

He sighed deeply. "Origin," he repeated, as if that should make everything obvious.

"Try 'birthplace' if that's too complicated for you," the guard threw in.

I glared at him. Having my intelligence insulted by an Imperial guard, how low had I fallen? It was an honest bit of ambiguity, even if I was a little snide about it.

"In that case, Daggerfall." My tone was distinctly frosty.

"Really? I'd have said you have a bit of a Skyrim accent about you. It's in the vowels, you know." Much to my dismay, the guard had apparently decided to be talkative.

"Look, if you ask for birthplace I'll give you my birthplace," I said, utterly exasperated. "And considering I asked for clarification I would expect that any being more intelligent than pond scum would realise-"

Ergalla cleared his throat, not looking up from his papers. "This antagonistic attitude is entirely unnecessary, and is causing an unconscionable delay in processing. Cease it immediately." The guard smirked. I fumed. Quietly. "What is your profession?"

My profession? Well... let's see, what had people called me? Oh yes, there'd been thief, pickpocket, crook, good-for-nothing, 'damned demon of a dark elf'... I rather liked the sound of the last, truth be told. Probably not quite the thing to say if I wanted to stay out of prison, however. And there was one other, more respectable one that would be accurate. One I'd been curious about ever since I was a child, one I'd always worked at and wanted to become even when events forced me into other directions.

"Me? I'm an alchemist."

Ergalla gave me a penetrating look, and for a moment, I thought he would dispute that. But in the end, he simply 'hmm'ed and continued scribbling. The sheet would be full in less than a minute if he continued on that way.

"Would you say you specialise more in the arts of magic, those of combat, or those of stealth and speechcraft?"

"Magic." This was not an entirely honest answer, I admit, as my skills really lay more in the third direction - I could hide well, had a quick tongue and was rather deft at picking pockets and locks. However, I did mention trying to stay out of prison, and I figured telling an Imperial official I was best at stealth was just under telling him I was a thief in terms of 'really really stupid ideas' when it came to that goal. Besides, I did have an interest in and knack for magic even if I was a little rusty.

As for combat? If you gave me a weapon, there was only one thing I could be sure of hitting. My foot.

"Ah yes. Now, what is your preferred weapon, your preferred armour, and what schools of magic do you specialise in?"

I gaped at him. "Excuse me, is all this really necessary?"

Ergalla looked wounded. "Of course it is! In order to allow us to gather data on immigration patterns and facilitate your rehabilitation-"

I blinked. The words he was using seemed to sprout more and more syllables. "How about you give me the forms and let me fill them out? Otherwise we'll be here all day."

He looked distinctly unhappy at that idea, but couldn't seem to think of a reason not to. He handed me the papers with a long-suffering sigh.

I handed them back some time later, now covered with writing, and massaged my hand. Although I could understand that the authorities on this island might want to know whether I was a potential axe-murderer, I remain puzzled as to why they need to know, for instance, precisely how high and far I can jump.

Bureaucracy.

Ergalla took the papers back eagerly, looking over them with a jaundiced eye as if afraid I'd cursed them. After reading through them several times while I stood and fidgeted, he put them down onto the desk and faced me again.

"Very well. One more question if you please." I opened my mouth, prepared to protest – what did they want to know now? My shoe size? I'd just about had it with this "processing" – but Ergalla didn't give me a chance to say a thing.

"The letter that preceded you mentioned you were born under a certain sign. And what would that be?"

Letter? Was this the same letter in which the Emperor personally (possibly) ordered my release? And why on earth did the Empire care about my birth-sign, of all possible things? Unfortunately, Ergalla's expression seemed to promise a quick and messy end if I were to make any more trouble, so instead of making a fuss I just said meekly, "The Lover."

And was immediately reminded why I generally lie and claim to be Lady-born as the guard who was really, really far too gregarious for his own good started fighting a smirk. I shot him a glare that should, by rights, have frozen lava.

It seemed to have some effect; the guard composed himself – with visible effort – and mumbled "Sorry, m'lov- er, m'lady-"

He let out a high-pitched giggle and covered his face with one hand. I huffed. Why oh why could I not have been born one month later? The Lord seemed as if it would be a nice sign to have. Safe. True, all the Lord-born I knew complained about being very sensitive to heat... but I was a dark elf, I was sure I'd manage. Besides, I'd be willing to take on even a sun allergy if it meant not having to listen to any more jokes about 'dark elven promiscuity'... jokes, I should note, so lacking in anything resembling actual humour that even the tavern bards so bad their only pay comes in the form of airborne rotten vegetables would refuse to tell them out of professional integrity. In comparison to that, vampirism doesn't seem half so bad.

Ergalla ignored the guard's antics. "Interesting. Now, before I stamp these papers, make sure this is correct," he said to me.

I frowned – of course it was correct, I was the one who had written it in the first place – but scanned the paper anyway. I was about ready to get this "processing" over with, and judging by his expression, Ergalla was too. And it's a good thing I did; the fool had put my race down as Breton! Breton, I ask you. I don't want to know what low standards the Imperial Legion must have here; anyone who can't tell the difference between a Breton and a dark elf should not be in a position of importance.

He blinked at me owlishly when I pointed this out. "Ah, yes. But you are from High Rock?"

I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Didn't we have this discussion already?"

He took the hint, scribbled something on the paper and handed it back to me. I looked over it suspiciously – maybe he was claiming I was Argonian now or something; I wouldn't put it past him – but everything seemed to be in order.

"All right, is that it?" I said, about to slip the paper into my pocket.

"Wait – we need another copy for our records..."

Suicide was looking more and more appealing.

*****

Next

This post has been edited by Kazaera: Jul 11 2013, 01:59 PM


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Olen
post Aug 20 2010, 11:03 AM
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But Adryn is missing the point... beaurocracy is fun. Still I suppose if you can't see the entertaining side of it...

Ergalla was brilliantly written, the rather close to the bone cynicism of it had me laughing aloud at times, as did the comments on 'why would anyone tell the authorities they were a thief?' The guard was a good counterpoint to his officiousness too.

QUOTE
There is a certain aura bureaucrats have, one that seems to incite a mixture of suicidal and homicidal impulses in those forced to be around them

I'm just glad I wasn't drinking when I read this.
QUOTE
I remain puzzled as to why they need to know, for instance, precisely how high and far I can jump.

Heh... but that's why beaurocracy is so fun.

Very funny part, and if her glimpse of Seyda Neen is anything to go by I look forwards to her being let loose on it. smile.gif


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hazmick
post Aug 20 2010, 01:33 PM
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A brilliant depiction of the guards. Olen is right, bureaucracy is fun and rather cool cool.gif

I enjoyed your description of the guards playing pass the parcel with Adryn. laugh.gif I was laughing all the way through this chapter as well, good job biggrin.gif


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Haa-Rei

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"...a quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business."
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haute ecole rider
post Aug 20 2010, 03:53 PM
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Your description of the whole arrival on the island sort of thing is great! I loved how you explain the really awkward start to the game by blaming bureaucracy.

I'm with the others, the way you write it, bureaucracy is just plain fun!


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treydog
post Aug 20 2010, 04:09 PM
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Note to self- remember to NOT read this at work!

Others have already pointed out the sheer joy of this installment (for everyone who wasn't stuck in the office with the giggling guard and the cluelessly anal Ergalla).

There is so much here to like that I will not even try to pick out my favorites. The combination of Adryn's irascible temper and jaundiced outlook, plus your wonderful portrayal of Morrowind... magnificent.


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SubRosa
post Aug 20 2010, 04:37 PM
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Another fun episode. Ergalla and legionary really make the entire scene come alive in all of its ridiculousness. smile.gif

I had no idea why the Emperor himself might take an interest in me, one thing I was sure of it couldn't possibly be a good thing.
QFT!

The words he was using seemed to sprout more and more syllables.
I love the way you put this!

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Aug 20 2010, 04:37 PM


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mALX
post Aug 20 2010, 07:38 PM
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A fun read! I know very little about Morrowind except what Remko and Helena taught me with their stories, lol.


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Helena
post Aug 20 2010, 08:36 PM
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QUOTE(Kazaera @ Aug 20 2010, 06:46 AM) *
The bureaucrat, an elderly Imperial, started talking. "Ah yes, we've been expecting you."

Socucius Ergalla is actually a Breton. *cries* Sorry, I can't help it... Great chapter, by the way.
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