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> A Conclave of Princes
Colonel Mustard
post Mar 5 2013, 11:16 PM
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From: The darkest pit of your soul. Hi there!



A Conclave of Princes


Part 1-The Call


Azura

Tick

Of all of the many secret places of Moonshadow, the meeting chamber that Azura stood in was the best hidden and least-known, so obscure and unknown it was not even myth.

Tock

Hidden from all prying eyes by spell and ward and ancient ritual, the room was built like an amphitheatre, a great tiered circle of white stone surrounding a single raised dais. Behind the dais was the clock, a ring of brass, silver and pearl, gleaming in the silvery light that illuminated the room. An engraved pendulum swung left and right with the passing of every second, delicate hands clicking as they moved, the cunning of its long-dead artificer and the spells he had laid upon it ensuring that it would keep time with perfect precision until Akatosh himself finally passed.

Tick

The chamber was empty but for one person, a woman clad in shining silver-white hooded robes, the garment woven from moonlight by blind seamstresses. Her face was three faces in one; that of a youthful maiden, of a kindly, smiling mother and of a wrinkled, wizened crone, all three of those at once and yet at the same time none. Her name was Azura, the Lady of Dawn and Dusk, and right now she was waiting and listening to the clock.

Tock

The timepiece itself had been a gift to her, made for her long ago by a Dwemer admirer, a clockmaker and timekeeper with skill beyond repair. She had honoured the generous donation by hanging it within this hall and, when he died, by taking his soul to her realm of Moonshadow that he might continue his craft forever more.

Ti-

The pendulum froze mid-swing, caught in the precise halfway point between one second and another. Azura took a moment to glance at it, and nodded. Her sacred time had come, the precise moment when day turned to a night of a crescent moon, a span of time so short that it could stretch to eternity. With a nod, the doors lined around the hall groaned open, and now that they had been invited to Moonshadow and into Azura’s secret eternity, the cats entered.

Untold numbers of them came, an uncountable army of the animals prowling through the doors. Fat, pampered lazy housecats trotted alongside scarred and battered strays who had lived every day of their lives on the vicious gauntlet of the streets, old cats wheezed their way in whilst kittens rolled and played around their paws. Short-haired breeds from Hammerfell came alongside the thick-haired cats of Skyrim and shared space with the elegant stock bred by the Altmer of the Summerset Isles, while the large desert wildcats of Elsweyr loomed over the animals around them. All of them had come by the secret routes known only to cats and the mistress they served, arriving in the time that was there only for them

Somehow, despite the millions of animals that entered the room, there was no struggle for space. The amphitheatre seemed to grow with its audience, expanding with its crowd as the cats went to their seats and waited. One or two greeted each other by tentative sniffing, and a few old friends that could meet only on this day; on one of the rings, a Hammerfell tom met the Valenwood tabby that he had bumped into in the last meeting, and was introduced to the litter of kitten he had fathered for the first time. There was no yowling, hissing or snarling between them, and even little in the way of normal, conversational mewling, the gathered assembly silent out of respect for their lady and mistress.

One by one, the cats began to form a line, and Azura took a knee as the first one approached. He was an Summerset breed, tall, lithe and proud, his white fur groomed with meticulous care, the tufts of hair on his ears twitching as he sauntered forward, as if speaking to a goddess were something he did every day. Azura bowed her head as he stopped next to her, and as she bowed it, the feline told of her of all the secret things he had seen. Once she had listened to his account, she nodded, and the cat trotted away, back home, and the next one took his place. She had the nervous enthusiasm of a newcomer, and her report was stammered out. As with the first, the Mother of the Rose listened to all she had to say, and when she was done, she dismissed it, briefly stroking her spy behind her ears before she went.

So it went on. Each cat gave their report, and each one was given equal time by Azura, and the lowliest of street cats was listened to with the same care and attention given to the sacred cats of the island nation of Laalket, bedecked as they were in their finery and jewels. Everything the Daedric Prince heard, she remembered and digested, and was added to her great libraries of knowledge, the books and shelves filling up as she listened.

Yet one cat, a feline who said she lived in a temple of the Nine as a mouser, told her something that gave her pause. After a moment, Azura instructed her to stay until her council with the other cats was finished, but all of the other information she heard was received with an uneasy frown. Even though the place she inhabited was timeless, the Lady of Dusk began to feel it drag, and she was glad when the final stragglers gave their news.

As the final cat made her way out, herding her kittens with her, Azura returned her attention to the feline that had given the news to her earlier. She asked the mouser to expand on what it was she had said, to give as much detail as she could remember. Azura quizzed her on where she had heard it, how the overheard conversation had gone, asked her to repeat it word for word to the best of her memory.

Finally, once she was satisfied that she had heard everything from it that she possibly could. She permitted it to leave. She watched it scurry out of one of the doors, back to the warmth of its basket by the hearth. For a few moments, Azura lingered in the chamber, debating her options. There only really one to take, she knew, but though it was necessary it did not make it one she wished to do so.

A gesture of a hand and a doorway appeared before her, gnarled oak in a white frame. She turned the knob, stepped through it, and disappeared. There was work to do on this night.

-ck

Behind her, the pendulum of the clock swung into motion once more.




So what's this? A 3-part story, each part divided into 18 chapters, each chapter following a Daedric Prince and one other mystery entity. Each part is a short one, between 900 and 1500 words (so I can hopefully update at a reasonable pace) and if you think of it as something like a shorter version of the Canterbury tales set in the planes of Oblivion you've got something akin to the right idea.

Do enjoy, do leave any comments or critique that you think are useful and do have a lovely day, my dear readers.

This post has been edited by Colonel Mustard: Mar 10 2013, 10:28 PM
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Elisabeth Hollow
post Mar 5 2013, 11:29 PM
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Wow. That was great!

Side note: KITTIES!!!


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Diamandis
post Mar 5 2013, 11:44 PM
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Oooh! What an interesting start!

Seems like a good idea for a story... I will definitely be following this!



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Fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a vrey srtnage mnid, wchih si good bceasue I od ot :D
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SubRosa
post Mar 5 2013, 11:52 PM
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That was very neat! I found it fascinating that you portrayed Azura as three-fold goddess. Were you inspired by any specific real life goddesses? Or just the very common image of the Three Fold Goddess presented by modern Paganism?

I find comparative religion to be very interesting. Given that Bethesda does not really provide us with much depth on any of their Divines or Daedra, we must flesh them out ourselves to make them living, breathing entities. How people choose to put that flesh on and bring them to life is always neat.

My only criticism of the piece as a whole is that there seems to be a lot of telling rather than showing. Such as with the secret nature of the chamber, etc... I am not sure how you might change that though. The trouble is that you have only one real character in the piece, so you cannot show those things through dialogue or interactions with others. The most you could do is try to bring it out through an inner monologue within Azura's mind. But I am honestly not really sure how well that would work either.



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Colonel Mustard
post Mar 7 2013, 03:57 PM
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Eva and Elizabeth: Thank you both very much! smile.gif

Subrosa: In this case, Azura being a threefold goddess was inspired by the Norns of Norse/Viking mythology, and considering that in TES lore she's often associated with prophecies and fate I found the comparison worked quite neatly; I was originally planning to have her weaving on a loom to make the allusion more obvious, but I like the cat idea more so went with that.

I can see where you're coming from with the whole telling instead of showing point with that chapter, but I couldn't think of any way to work around it either; in the end I decided that I might as well make the telling part as interesting as I could with similes and general oddness and somesuch. I'll keep it in mind for future updates, and considering that from segment 2 onwards there's a lot more character interaction, it shouldn't be so much of a problem. Thanks!


Also, I'm writing for this story at an insane pace right now (segment 3 has already been completed and I'm halfway through segment 4) and with that in mind, would you people prefer me to post the parts up as they're completed or space them out to an update every few days?

Nocturnal

The tides of Oblivion screamed as Azura stepped from the plane of Moonshadow and into the pure, unknowable infinity of its interreality limbo. The robes she wore whipped and billowed in the airless gales that howled at her in silence, the pull of the currents tugging at her very being. She frowned at the itching pain of the sensation as it skittered across her skin, and raised a hand, summoning from the wellspring of her being and power. Her clothing ceased to flap and ripple, the itch subsided, and had there been an outside observer, they may have seen the tiny thread of arcane power that formed between the Prince and the gates of her realm.

With her free hand, she drew a circle in the air, a gleaming silver disc hovering in the air. She laid her palm upon it, closed her eyes, and cast a segment of her being into a search.

The dart of her essence sailed forwards, formless and inscrutable, feeling for the realms of the other princes. It felt the jibbering voices and deranged babbling of the Shivering Isles, heard the intense heat of the Deadlands, tasted the impenetrable brightness of Meridia’s Citadel of Fusion, and paid them all no heed. She continued to search, stopping only when she came to an emptiness.

She drew herself to it, appearing into a void so filled with nothing that it was not even black. She nodded to herself in satisfaction.

“You can find my realm in all the places it is not there,” she said. “And in none of the places that it is.”

And around her was the Evergloam. To say that it appeared would be a lie, for it had always existed at that point, filling the empty spaces of Oblivion with its not-absence, and now that Azura had invoked it with the passphrase, it had been present for eternity. She stepped forwards through the thick shrouds of gloom, the shadows so thick that they were tangible, not bothering to call up light within this place of visible darkness.

“Sister,” a voice from behind Azura said. “This is an unexpected surprise.”

Azura turned around, but as she expected there was nothing from where the voice had come from but darkness.

“Show yourself, Nocturnal,” Azura said. “I can’t be bothered to chase you out of wherever you’re hiding. Besides, you know it’s poor manners.”

As bidden, Nocturnal emerged. Azura’s twin and opposite, she wore a long dress of midnight and the shadow of raven feathers, and her skin was the glistening black of charcoal. The only suggestion of eyes she had was a line of silver-grey around her pupil, and if her teeth had not flashed a brilliant white in a smile of welcome one could be forgiven for thinking she had no mouth.

“I bid you welcome, dear sister,” she said, bowing low. A wave of her hand and a table and two chairs boiled up from the shadows behind her. “Please, take a seat.”

The two sisters sat, and Nocturnal called a bottle of wine and two glasses into being.

“Wine?” she asked. “It’s Shadowbanish vintage; I know you like that one.”

“If I may,” Azura replied.

“Of course,” Nocturnal said, beginning to pour. “I take it you’re here for something important, then? This wouldn’t be a simple visit for the pleasure of my company, of course; you may have forever but there’s never the time, is there?”

“Something has come up,” Azura said as she accepted the goblet. “One of my agents uncovered something important, something that could affect us all, so I’m calling together a meeting. Of all of us.”

“What something is this?” her sister asked.

“I can’t say, not yet.”

Nocturnal laughed, a flutter of black wings at the edge of the noise.

“You can’t say?” she asked. “Whyever not, sister?”

“I can’t trust anybody with this information until it is known by all,” Azura said. “Trust me and my judgement, sister, it’s for the best.”

Nocturnal frowned at her twin.

“‘Trust me and my judgement, sister’,” she mocked. “‘It’s for the best. After all, my judgement is truly, utterly flawless! I’ve never made a mistake before!’”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Sotha Sil,” was Nocturnal’s only replied. “That went wonderfully well, after all, with one race of mer completely disappeared off the face of Nirn and the other was cursed forever more. And who warned you that he couldn’t be trusted?”

“That was millenia ago,” Azura said.

“And what of that?” Nocturnal asked. “We’re Daedra, sister. We may be change embodied but we ourselves cannot change. Just tell me, give me a chance to talk you out of doing anything stupid!”

“Like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know, pay a visit to every single one of the Princes in their realms and then call us all together in one place?” Nocturnal suggested. “Anything could happen to you whilst you’re out there; do you really think Dagon or Bal or Jyggalag are going to welcome you with open arms? Too much can go wrong! At least tell me what this problem is.”

“I can’t,” Azura said. “If I tell you here, now, the other Princes will also insist on knowing what it is and that can throw affairs dangerously out of balance.”

“And how will they know I know anything?” Nocturnal asked. “My word, you’re worse than Hermaeus Mora sometimes.”

“Three of them have been following me since I stepped out of Moonshadow,” Azura said. “Hermaeus Mora, Boethiah and Mephala track every move the other Princes make as soon as they step out of their realms, you know that.”

“Oh yes, I often forget that,” Nocturnal said. “They alway seem to have trouble following me; can’t imagine why. But still, they wouldn’t be able to see into my realm or eavesdrop on us.”

“One of them might not be able to,” Azura said. “But if the three of them combined their power they would. And if any of those three managed to get wind of this before the others, that could spell disaster. Even if I told you but somehow blocked it from their scrying, they could just force their way in here and interrogate you, and I don’t want you to get hurt, Nocturnal.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Nocturnal conceded. “It’s good to know you care, at least.”

“Of course I do, sister,” Azura said. She drained her wine. “I should leave; there’s still much to do.”

The sisters stood and embraced.

“Stay safe, Azura,” Nocturnal said, before kissing her twin on the cheek.

“I’ll do my best,” Azura said. “Wait for my call, and then make for Moonshadow. I’ll see you soon.”

“Wait, before you go,” Nocturnal began, breaking their embrace and taking a black diamond from somewhere about her person. “Take this. You’re going to get into trouble, I just know it, so when you do, call me.”

“Thank you, sister,” Azura said, tucking it into a pocket of her robes. “I shouldn’t have any need for it, but thank you.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” Nocturnal said. “Now, if this mission of yours is so important, get going, sister. I’ll wait for when you need me.”

With a final nod of farewell, Azura was gone.
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Elisabeth Hollow
post Mar 7 2013, 04:04 PM
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I am completely infatuated with your description of Nocturnal.


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SubRosa
post Mar 7 2013, 09:40 PM
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A very neat part two, with the introduction of Nocturnal. I enjoyed your description of the pair as being physical opposites, and as being sisters. It is not a connection I had ever made before, but it is a good one.

What might this be that Azura is so concerned about I wonder, that she would try to gather all the Daedra together? Did Sigurd stop working for Belethor, at the General Goods Store? Or something even more horrific? wink.gif

Concerning posting rates, I suggest slowing down a bit, maybe to twice a week at most. That gives people time to read and keep up. If you get material backed up, then that can be a good thing. When you get busy later and do not have time to write, you will still be able to release what you have already written on a regular schedule.


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Destri Melarg
post Mar 7 2013, 11:55 PM
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QUOTE(Colonel Mustard @ Mar 5 2013, 02:16 PM) *

Do enjoy, do leave any comments or critique that you think are useful and do have a lovely day, my dear readers.

Okay, here's a critique.

Azura:

So Chaucer meets Mustard, eh? Awesome! You captured the eeriness of Moonshadow well, and I thought the story of the dwemer clockmaker was dead on, especially with the relationship of the clock’s pendulum to the rest of the scene. Those initial paragraphs did drag a bit, but that is because it is hard to maintain interest in description alone. Perhaps you might want to accentuate the ticking of the clock. As it reads now we don’t hear it until the fourth paragraph, but it’s presence should be omnipresent. That will enhance the moment when the ticking stops.

Showing vs. telling: one suggestion is that you de-’it’-ify the cats. Give some of them genders and personalities. Do they trip over themselves when they come before Azura, or do they move on steady (catlike) legs because this is a duty performed often enough to be old hat? Maybe one adopts a cocksure manner that Azura has to discourage... or not. Maybe one is fearful coming before Azura for the first time. I understand not going into the details of what a million cats have to say to the goddess of twilight, but if we hear some of what they say as a representative sample we can get a handle on just what goes into Azura’s library of knowledge... and our imaginations can be piqued by what the mouser imparts through whispers we can’t hear. I loved the final cat to make her report because she
QUOTE
made her way out, herding her kittens with her.
I could totally see that!

The mouser: First, I like the fact that you gave her a gender (feline). She is the catalyst for the whole scene and, as such, deserves more than just a cursory ‘it’. The problem is that you call her ‘it’ in the next sentence. That ‘dehumanizes’ (yes, I know she’s a cat. Perhaps a better word is ‘de-empathizes’) her for us and makes her so much furniture in the room. Let her tell us that she is a mouser in a temple of the Nine (even if you, as author, do it by adding the words ‘said she’ between ‘who’ and ‘lived’ in paragraph ten). Then when she decides to whisper her message Azura’s frown carries more impact.




Nocturnal:
QUOTE
The dart of her essence sailed forwards, formless and inscrutable, feeling for the realms of the other princes. It felt the jibbering voices and deranged babbling of the Shivering Isles, heard the intense heat of the Deadlands, tasted the impenetrable brightness of Meridia’s Citadel of Fusion, and paid them all no heed. She continued to search, stopping only when she came to an emptiness.

This is simply fantastic! The use of sense imagery as Azura searches through the planes of Oblivion. Wonderful!

QUOTE
And around her was the Evergloam. To say that it appeared would be a lie, for it had always existed at that point, filling the empty spaces of Oblivion with its not-absence, and now that Azura had invoked it with the passphrase, it had been present for eternity. She stepped forwards through the thick shrouds of gloom, the shadows so thick that they were tangible, not bothering to call up light within this place of visible darkness.

I had another wordgasm reading this paragraph! Your description of Evergloam differentiates it from Moonshadow and makes it a place of seductive mystery.

QUOTE
“Wine?” she asked. “It’s Shadowbanish vintage; I know you like that one.”

This is a nice touch. smile.gif

The conversation between Azura and Nocturnal was handled beautifully. Their interaction reminds me of something out of Neal Gaiman's Sandman series. I especially like that Nocturnal still holds a grudge over the Tribunal. You've really hit your stride with this second chapter, I am completely hooked now!


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Acadian
post Mar 8 2013, 12:25 AM
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Congrats on a new fanfic thread! smile.gif

A mysterious reason for Azura to go Prince hopping, thanks to her feline fleet of spies. An interesting premise, and richly written to preserve the wonder of these Daedra Lords and their ability to make things happen with the wave of a hand or touch of a feather.

SubRosa and I have long been of like mind on the considerations involved in determining the optimum posting rate.


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Elisabeth Hollow
post Mar 8 2013, 01:41 AM
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I don't care about the posting rate XD just post!


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mALX
post Mar 9 2013, 01:52 AM
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*

First off, I am so sorry it took so long to get here, I have been sick as a dog this whole week.

I loved this Azura chapter, the cats telling their secrets and the mystery of the one that held her interest! Especially loved the effect of the established "Tick Tock" and the watching of the pendulum till it froze in place.

I pictured my parent's grandfather clock here, but on a grand scale. Nice mixture of lore with a twist of Poe (and possibly a dash of "Alice in Wonderland"), lol. Awesome write!

*

Nocturnal's chapter had me laughing - these lines beg quoting:

QUOTE

“And how will they know I know anything?” Nocturnal asked. “My word, you’re worse than Hermaeus Mora sometimes.”

“They alway seem to have trouble following me; can’t imagine why.


Your tongue-in-cheek humor really shined in this one! And the mystery continues! Awesome Write!


*


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McBadgere
post Mar 10 2013, 08:22 PM
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Here's a shocker for you...

I LOVED IT!!!... biggrin.gif ...

The Azura part was beautiful...And as I'm a simple man with simple tastes, I had no problem with the showing and not telling part...Thought it was glorious as it was...

And the Nocturnal part was stunning...I definately enjoyed the depiction...Verrry pritttieee... biggrin.gif ...And, as ever, the dialogue sparkled...

As with anything you write, I look forward to the next parts greatly...

Although, I do have one question...

QUOTE(The Mustardster earlier)
So what's this? A 3-part story, each part divided into 18 vhapters, each chapter following a Daedric Prince and one other mystery entity.


Is a vhapter some new Daedric brand of measurement?... biggrin.gif ...


EDIT!!!...

Almost forgot...

Nice one!!...

*Applauds most heartily*...

This post has been edited by McBadgere: Mar 10 2013, 08:23 PM
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Rihanae
post Mar 10 2013, 09:31 PM
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I really liked this. I'm eager to see where this goes!

I loved the characterisation you'e given Azura and Nocturnal; Nocturnals dialogue and small quips had me smiling smile.gif

I loved this

QUOTE
With her free hand, she drew a circle in the air, a gleaming silver disc hovering in the air. She laid her palm upon it, closed her eyes, and cast a segment of her being into a search.

The dart of her essence sailed forwards, formless and inscrutable, feeling for the realms of the other princes. It felt the jibbering voices and deranged babbling of the Shivering Isles, heard the intense heat of the Deadlands, tasted the impenetrable brightness of Meridia’s Citadel of Fusion, and paid them all no heed. She continued to search, stopping only when she came to an emptiness.


Beautifully worded. Very good smile.gif

Again, cant wait to see where this goes! biggrin.gif
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Colonel Mustard
post Mar 11 2013, 01:02 AM
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Elizabeth: Hehe, thanks very much!

Subrosa: I think one of the books on Daedra mentioned Azura and Nocturnal being sisters, and I always thought there was a lot of overlap between their domains.

The source of Azura's worries will be revealed in good time, but while I do love to do radical things with established canon and generally go a bit nuts with proceeding, it's not Belethor stopping working for Sigurd at the General Goods Store. Even I know when things go too far wink.gif.

And I like your idea of posting rate. A Conclave of Princes should, provided all goes to plan, update every Monday and Thursday. Except for tonight, because I'm feeling impatient. It's been Monday for five minutes, so it's fine.

Destri: You are my new favourite person ever and I want to print that post out and frame it on the wall. I love the ideas and advice you've given me and, as you might have seen, have taken them all into consideration and added them in, and as far as I can tell it's greatly improved proceedings. Thank you! Hug_emoticon.gif

I'm glad you liked the bits that were done well; I'm not surprised that Azura and Nocturnal's conversation reminded you of the Sandman series, really, as Season of Mists was what gave me the inspiration to write this. The bit for flying through Oblivion itself was...tricky, considering I was trying to write a sequence set in a completely alien realm which is unbound by the laws of physics that was being viewed by a completey alien being who is unbound by the laws of physics, who is was in a completely alien form that was unbound by the laws of physics. At points, working out how to describe it made my brain hurt. I was pleased with how the description of Nocturnal's realm turned out, though I owe a little thanks to Milton with his description of hell for that, especially the 'visible darkness' line.

Though Nocturnal didn't really hold a grudge about the Tribunal; it was more of a 'I told you so, but did you listen?' angle that I was going for.

Acadian: Thanks very much!

It's interesting to write a character who is as free of the normal limitations as a Daedric Prince is, and is in many ways both much easier to write and much more difficult to write.

Yeah, I think you and Subrosa have a good idea for this; had that naturally for my other stories anyway so I guess it works well for this one. Just need to maintain the speed at which I write, now.

mALX: Don't worry about it. smile.gif

You owe Destri some thanks for the 'tick tock' thing, seeing as it was sort of his idea, and I'm pleased you liked the rest; I was definitely channelling a little Poe in there so I'm surprised it shone through.

Nocturnal was fun; I always saw her as somewhat of a prankster figure, so her teasing her sister (albeit with a bit of a harsher edge to it at points) came naturally to me whilst writing. Glad you liked it. smile.gif

McB:
You enjoyed it? Really? I'm amazed ohmy.gif tongue.gif

You probably enjoyed the opening chapter in any case because I'd already gone back and made changes to it. biggrin.gif Pleased you liked Nocturnal and her realm; decided to just go full throttle with the whole 'shadow' theme and I'm pretty chuffed with the result.

And yeah, a vhapter is a Daedric form of measurement. They use it to measure things that I can't actually describe without giving you at least three new senses and by removing you from linear time, so I'm afraid I'm a bit stuck with explaining them to you. tongue.gif

Rihanae: Thank you very much!

Like I was saying to Destri, that description of Oblivion was tricky, as I was trying to describe something that is completely incomprehensible to us squishy humans; I figured having that passage with the sensory stuff might be good to give a sense of geography and how Azura was searching whilst still showing how utterly alien it is in terms of its physics and nature. Pleased it worked, and that you liked it! smile.gif



Hircine

Stepping from the Evergloam and into raw Oblivion once more, Azura called up her mirror and set out to search. She cast forth a sliver of her being, scouting forwards, scanning for what she needed to find, and soon enough, she came upon it. She closed her eyes, willed herself forwards, and opened them to see herself standing before a forest.

She summoned up a field of warm air to ward away the biting chill, and surveyed the thick wall of pines arrayed in front of her, tips pointing to the sky like the spears of soldiers. She waited, watched as they rustled and parted, and three figures came forward to greet her.

"We bid you greeting," the first one said between lupine jaws, bowing even lower than its hunched, coiled form made it. "Lord Hircine sends his welcome to you, Lady Azura, and his apologies that he cannot yet receive you in person."

"I'm here on important business," Azura said. "And I'm afraid I do not have much time."

"Our lord and master is also occupied," the second one answered, voice a rumble as deep a mountain's roots, its muscled, humanoid form covered in a thick shag of fur. "He shall receive you as soon as his current task is complete."

"Your master's hospitality is rather lacking, then," Azura said.

"Again, his apologies," the third one growled through a pushed up snout, flicking its golden-furred ears as it spoke. "If you wish, you may wait in his cabin where he shall then meet you."

"No need," Azura said. She bowed her head to the werewolf, the werebear and the werelion in turn. "I shall find him myself."

She rose into the air before they could protest, taking flight over the realm of the Hunting Ground. She passed over forests which reverberated to the howls of wolves and the yells of mortals, across a great, hot plain where immense lizards made their home, over a ravaged wasteland where the beasts were made monstrous by radiation and the people hunted game with strange weapons made from tubes or that cast beams of focussed light. She paused at that one for a moment, watching in curiosity, before continuing on her way, to where she sensed Hircine was.

She found him at a pond, and her form shrunk as she dropped within it, entering the waters which remained still at her passing. She grew smaller as she went downwards, and found the Lord of Hunts leaning on his spear atop a grain of sand. The stag helm he wore bobbed with a nodded greeting to Azura as she landed, and he returned his attention to the spectacle before him.

Two creatures of slime and amorphous form were thrashing against one another, exuding enzymes and toxins as they wrestled blindly in the water. At this size, the single-celled life forms were not much bigger than the molecules surrounding them, the water was sludgy and thick, and their movements slow. One of them, the larger of the two, was winning, creeping forward over the translucent skin of its opponent to try and engulf it, stretching out thinner and thinner as it went.

The smaller punched out with a groping pseudopod, and whether through blind luck or some kind of mindless design, stuck at the nucleus of its enemy. The bundle of genetic material was jolted and pulled apart, and the larger ectoplasmic beast grew still. As its struggles ceased, the victor wrapped itself around its vanquished opponent and began the slow task of digesting.

"So watching amoeba fight was more important than talking to me, then?" Azura asked.

"Would you rather it had been a werewolf hunt I was observing?" Hircine replied. "I am father to every hunter, large and small, and it is vital that every kind of hunt is observed."

"If you insist," Azura said. She watched an immense, curved cliff face of pitted silver-grey sailed past them, and realised after a moment she was watching the underside of a fish's head. "I noticed your new hunting ground on my way here, the one with the radiation. Where did you get that?"

"Oh, that one? Oblivion brushed borders with its reality a few years ago, and I saw some rather interesting apex predators within it," Hircine said. "So I decided to add them, and some of its environs, to my collection."

He glanced at her as a flick from the fish's tail sent a thick and billowing sleet of water molecules buffeting around them like transparent snowflakes. A few grains of sand, immense boulders at a microscopic scale, sailed and rolled around them.

"But I take it that this isn't a social visit," Hircine said. "What are you here for?"

"I'm calling a meeting," Azura said. "One of all the Princes; something has come up, and I wish for us to discuss it."

"Some piece of bad news has come to you from one of your cats, then?" Hircine asked.

"How did you know about them?"

"I'm the Lord of Hunters, Azura, and cats love to hunt," Hircine said. "They may be your servants, but they owe me some measure of allegiance. They've always amused me, cats."

"How is that?" Azura asked.

"The way mortals keep them as pets, adore them, coddle them and spoil them, and then when they let their beloved companions loose, they go out and massacre every rodent and bird they can find," Hircine said. "Most of their owners would be appalled at the things dear little Tiddles gets up to. But I'm getting the point; where are you holding this meeting?"

"Moonshadow."

"I would rather be here, but if this is as important as you say it is then I will be there when you call."

Azura frowned.

"You aren't going to ask me what the issue is?" she asked.

Hircine shrugged.

"If you were going to tell me beforehand, you would have told me, and the fact that you have neglected to do so says to me that you do not want it known just yet," he said. "One of the virtues of a hunter is patience, so I shall be patient and wait until you will it to be known."

"I'm glad to hear," Azura said. "My thanks for your time, Hircine."

The Father of Manbeasts simply nodded.

"Not a problem," he said. "Whatever it is, I hope it can be resolved soon, and easily; I have my hunts to attend to."

"That remains to be seen," Azura replied. "Farewell."

She called up a mirror and stepped through it into the currents of raw Oblivion.
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Darkness Eternal
post Mar 11 2013, 08:50 PM
Post #15


Master
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From: Coldharbour



New story, Colonel? From gladiatorial madmen to the Daedra themselves!

Awesome. Simply awesome. You got us hooked with the main Daedric Prince, Azura. The addition of cats was very interesting in my opinion. She would seem like the Daedra to have them. Khajiit love Azura.

Nocturnal just oozed mystery. The conversation between the two was great!

Hircine. Interesting to see him put focus on the smaller struggles between hunter and prey. Goes to show that not even insects or gellatinous creatures could escape his notice. His new Hunting Ground is interesting to see, especially with the radiation thing going on. Hircine here is painted as a gentlemen/sportsmen rather than the deep-voiced monstrous Horned-god he is depicted to be in the older games.

Fun fact: Some of the Daedra all gathered together to meet up in Molag Bal's Coldharbour, in his Imperial palace, to chat with Vivec.


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And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Colonel Mustard
post Mar 14 2013, 03:03 PM
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From: The darkest pit of your soul. Hi there!



DE(why do the rest of you hate meeee?! tongue.gif): Thanks!

I always figured that if there was any divine/supernatural figure in TES lore to have an association with cats, it would be Azura, considering how important she is to Khajiit culture, like you said. And whenever I see a cat, it always looks like it's up to something, and I feel that the suspicion that it's reporting back to a supernatural being from outside this reality is a perfectly rational one to hold.

I was actually trying to go for more 'hermit' than 'gentleman' with Hircine, to be honest, hence his keenness to see Azura gone from his realm so he can concentrate on his hunts. He never really struck me as the social sort.

QUOTE(Darkness Eternal @ Mar 11 2013, 07:50 PM) *
Fun fact: Some of the Daedra all gathered together to meet up in Molag Bal's Coldharbour, in his Imperial palace, to chat with Vivec.

Oh, they've bound to have met up several times before for big events like the appearance of a new pantheon. I imagine they also met to discuss issues like 'what the hell do we do about this unstoppable Jyggalag guy?' and 'seriously, Mehrunes, stop invading Nirn. You keep screwing up and it's just getting embarassing now.'


And now for the next part. Particle physics ho!



Hermaeus Mora

Azura could feel the three pairs of eyes trained on her as she wove her way through the currents of Oblivion. One brushed against her essence, chill and sharp as a dagger’s slice, the second a boring, brazen beam of indignant suspicion, the third an invisible tendril, the tip that followed her clammy and damp.

She continued her course, bobbing and weaving, homing towards the roiling swirls of colour that surrounded the Shivering Isles. Then, she extended a fragment of her consciousness along the sticky, cool thread that could only be Hermaeus Mora’s, as if seeing for the first time, then cut it.

She whirled the currents around her, slicing through the watching segments and darting away. She split her essence, dozens of segments of her being speeding away in all directions, coalescing and partin once more as she went. As one of them drew close to the Apocrypha, she pulled her being back into, and checked for traces; nothing. That brief act of flight had been enough, it seemed; so far she hadn’t roused enough suspicion for the other Princes to put any measure of effort into their traces, and her actions had been enough to tell them that their monitoring was not welcome.

Azura did not enter by the main gate as she had done before. Instead, she shrunk her form, growing smaller and smaller, until finally, she observed the borders of Hermaeus Mora’s realm whilst crouched upon the top of a electron, robes flowing down the sides of the infinitesimally small particle-ring. She flexed her fingers, pushing them into its cloudy surface, feeling the roiling energy that made it up tingling against her fingers, reveling in the sensation of touching the not-matter-nor-energy that was the universe’s beating heart.

She moved, darting from one particle to another, moving at a scale so tiny that to see her was to not see her. She moved around the whirling storm of a nucleus, caught the blazing tail of a proton and rode her subatomic mount forwards. She steered it, the tiny invisible wave-particle looping and weaving into the corridors of the Apocrypha, speeding past the sentinels and wards. Moving at the speed of light, she arrived at the place she wanted in an instant, one of the many shelves of Hermaeus Mora’s infinite library.

Dim light from a guttering lamp cast long shadows around Azura as she increased in size and reassumed baryonic form, the glass orb of light hanging from a chain that rose up into the the darkness-shrouded vault of the ceiling. Her feet rested on empty air, the shelves forming great cliff-faces of books that ran along either side of her, and at the edge of hearing there was the whispering of thousands of pages. The air here was stale and musty, and cobwebs bridged corners. The entire room felt like it had emptied its lungs for eternity.

Azura ran her fingers along the shelves, searching for the volume she wanted. She found it quickly, easily, for Hermaeus Mora was nothing if not meticulous with the ordering of his library. She slid it from the shelf, tucked it into her robe, and drew her form down, snatching a proton’s tail. At relativistic speeds, the ride out of Apocrypha was swift, and Azura burst into Oblivion once more. She checked for scrying from the other Princes, found none, and returned to Moonshadow.

This time, when she returned to the Apocrypha, she did so by the front entrance. With an official visit, there was a certain level of decorum that had to be maintained, after all.

The gate that formed the boundary to the infinite Apocrypha was a huge, forbidding thing, an immense archway of ancient, brown paper over a greenish haze of sorcerous energy, the walls vaulted black stone, cavern with runes of power. Azura stood before it, white robe turned sickly green as it reflected the light emitted from the clawed sky, waiting for the realm’s master to emerge.

A shadow appeared in the archway, a lumpen silhouette, before a hunched mass of tentacles and curved claws shuffled through, swaddled in a black robe, a staff gripped in a protruding arm clacking against the ground as it approached. Acid dripped from the tips of some of the pseudopods, hissing as it bored into the granite below it, and a baleful orange eye emerged from the morass to regard Azura, pupil shaped like a pair of cells forever frozen in mid-split.

“I greet ye, Twilit Lady,” a mouth from somewhere within the robe rasped. “Th’art welcome unto the Apocrypha.”

“Greetings, Hermaeus Mora,” Azura nodded. “Are you well?”

There was a ripple of movement from beneath the robe that may have been a shrug.

“‘Twas a commotion of recent with my champion,” the Prince of Portents said. “But such a matter was resolved swift enough.”

“Ah yes,” Azura said. “Miraak, wasn’t it?”

“No longer,” Hermaeus Mora said. “The Kin-of-Drakes hath taken his place. But come, Midwife to Twilight, enter unto my realm. There we shalt converse.”

Azura followed as Hermaeus Mora clacked his way through the portal. She could feel the power searing along the portal as she stepped through, arcane energy so intense that it would strip the flesh from the bones of all but the most powerful of mortals. For a moment, her vision was obscured by green cloud, and then she was through. She glanced behind her, and instead of seeing a gate could only see the Apocrypha stretching out behind her to a borderless horizon, a twisting maze of parchment, acidic pools, towering stacks of books and immense, vaulted libraries. Before her, an immense circular tower rose upwards to the green sky, and at Hermaeus Mora’s gesture a platform slid down its side, resting on the stone ground to greet them.

“Step aboard,” he said, gesturing to the platform. “We shall converse within mine own chambers.”

Azura did as bidden, and Hermaeus Mora slid after her. A multitude of tentacles and grasping hands reached from a control panel, manipulating the levers that rose from its surface like the short, thin legs of a millipede, and the platform began to rise along a rail of corroded brass. Azura leant on the rail and looked at the maniac landscape below her as it receded.

“I am told by my mortal visitors that such a view is spectacular,” Hermaeus Mora said as he maintained the elevator’s pace. “Tis but routine to me, but if one exists in a mundane state as they are oft to do then it is of little surprise that they are so awed. But of course, even this view is paltry compared to Moonshadow; to look upon it is to strike a mortal blind, is it not so?”

The platform slid to a halt and a doorframe melted from the stone wall it had come to rest by. Hermaeus Mora shuffled through, Azura following as she entered a large, circular chamber. There were shelves laden with glowing artefacts and items of arcane miscellany, and a chessboard cut from dark green and cream stone. To one side, there was a bed, sheets folded with care, and Azura wondered if Hermaeus Mora had ever actually slept in it.

The Daedric Prince’s eye flicked towards the chessboard as they entered.

“Ah, so his move hath been made,” he said.

“Who’s has?” Azura asked.

“Julianos’,” Hermaeus Mora said. “We hath had this game going for some time. When we finish one of them, another is started; he is the only one of my opponents who I would call worthy.”

“So who’s winning your matches?”

“He is ahead of me by but one game,” Hermaeus Mora said. “But victory in this match is likely to be mine. Perhaps in the next one, I shall pull ahead. It is of no import; this game hath been played a thousandfold betwixt us both, and neither one of us hath had a lead of note. But tell me; what is it that brings thee unto the Apocrypha?”

“I’m gathering the Princes,” Azura said. “We must meet.”

“Such a thing has not happened for quite some time,” Hermaeus Mora said. “What calamity serves as this event’s progenitor?”

“I can’t say yet,” Azura replied.

“Ah, of course,” Hermaeus Mora said. There was a deep, rasping bubbling that might have been a chuckle. “Ye cannot trust me. ‘tis of no matter; no secret is hidden from me here.”

“Should have thought of that, shouldn’t I?” Azura said.

There was uncertainty in Hermaeus Mora’s voice as he asked; “Know ye of something?”

“Nothing important,” Azura said. “But in case you wish to talk to the rest of us about it, we will be gathering in Moonshadow.”

“Very well,” Hermaeus Mora rasped. “I suppose that you still must have much to do; do not let me delay you any further.”

Azura knew the meaning behind her host’s sudden brusqueness, but she was unconcerned by it.

“You’re quite right,” she said. “I will see you soon then, I hope.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” Hermaeus Mora nodded.

Azura nodded and stepped from the window, drifting downwards back to the ground. She saw, out of the corner of her eye, the Apocrypha’s master hurrying to his platform. It slid downwards at a speed to send sparks flying, and as it reached the ground, spindly brass legs extended from its underside like those of a metallic spider and it scurried away towards one of the massive libraries that dotted his realm.

She called up the gate and stepped through the ensorcelled haze that veiled the paper archway,, into the boundary-not-boundary of the Apocrypha.

“Thief!”

The word howled through Hermaeus Mora’s demesne, the realm shaking at the rage of its master. The horizon boiled as a great mass of pseudopods and fury thundered towards her, baleful eyes and arcane energy sighting on her, slicked with slime and rage. Azura called up her mirror as the howling abomination closed on her, and as the first of the snapping claws, clenched fists and grasping tentacles closed towards her, she shouted; “Come to Moonshadow; you can have your book back and learn everything you can hope to then!”

She stepped through, into the relative safety of pure Oblivion, as the malleable nightmare that was Hermaeus Mora crashed onto where she had been.
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Elisabeth Hollow
post Mar 14 2013, 03:12 PM
Post #17


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From: Texas



Am I the only one creeped out by Hermaeus Mora's description?

Anyone?


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ghastley
post Mar 14 2013, 06:19 PM
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whilst crouched upon the top of a electron

Sorry can't do that. the top is a quark, and an electron is a lepton. That interaction would violate conservation of color charge, or something like that. (Heisenberg reminds me that I should have typed "probably' in there, probably.)


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Mods for Oblivion and now Daggerfall and Skyrim. Fan fiction, too.
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McBadgere
post Mar 15 2013, 05:09 AM
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Ahm just gonna blink slowly at Ghastley right now...Yes I am...*Plink-plink*...

Aaaamywho...

I don't hate thee miladdo...Just real life...The daughter's GCSE options; a cracked rib; arthritic elbow; trapped nerve in my shoulder; the computer problems...Which one to blame for my tardiness and lack of focus in general?... biggrin.gif ...

An apology then...*Bows*...

Hircine was excellent...I thought he was brilliant...Loved the trip over the hunting grounds...Espescially the dino/laser weapon place...Still trying to place it, but it was excellent nevertheless... biggrin.gif ...I did like the were-creatures too...Brilliant...

Apocrypha and its master were definately well done...

I loved so much about what you put in that...Your language skills (apparently iffy physics aside) are simply something to be greatly admired and envied...So I shall... biggrin.gif ...

There really was something grin inducing (in an almost *fist pumping air* YES! way) about this whole section...

QUOTE
Azura did not enter by the main gate as she had done before. Instead, she shrunk her form, growing smaller and smaller, until finally, she observed the borders of Hermaeus Mora’s realm whilst crouched upon the top of a electron, robes flowing down the sides of the infinitesimally small particle-ring. She flexed her fingers, pushing them into its cloudy surface, feeling the roiling energy that made it up tingling against her fingers, reveling in the sensation of touching the not-matter-nor-energy that was the universe’s beating heart.

She moved, darting from one particle to another, moving at a scale so tiny that to see her was to not see her. She moved around the whirling storm of a nucleus, caught the blazing tail of a proton and rode her subatomic mount forwards. She steered it, the tiny invisible wave-particle looping and weaving into the corridors of the Apocrypha, speeding past the sentinels and wards. Moving at the speed of light, she arrived at the place she wanted in an instant, one of the many shelves of Hermaeus Mora’s infinite library.


I just absolutely loved that...

I'm absolutely loving this story...And Azura, who I may or may not have mis-cast as Michell Williams' Glinda from the new Oz film...Look it up...She really is very pretty wub.gif ...But hey, that's just me... laugh.gif biggrin.gif ...

Another brilliant chapter from another brilliant story...

Nice one!!...

*Applauds heartily*...
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Destri Melarg
post Mar 15 2013, 07:28 PM
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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



Azura (revisited):

YES!!! That ticking of the clock gives movement to the whole chapter now!! I had my own ideas for how to approach the beginning of this story, but your way is soooo much better!

Hircine:

I totally get Azura's irritation. One would think that anything that occasions her leaving Moonshadow for the Hunting grounds is at least important enough for Hircine to suspend gazing at the amoebas! laugh.gif His reaction to not being told the gist of what's going on is telling for the god of hunters. And I like that you depicted Hircine in a different way than we mortals usually see him. Amongst his own there would be no need for affectation.

One small nit: You once again reduced the were-creatures to 'it'. I know you did it to heighten the surprise when we learn that they are were-folk, but that could be just as easily accomplished by saying 'he' or 'she'. A good rule of thumb... if it speaks, it deserves a soul.

Hermaeus Mora:

I loved the chess game with Julianos. Mora would be the one Daedric Prince willing to engage in competition with the Aedra. Azura stealing his Book of Knowledge in order to preserve her secret is nicely handled, and makes for a wonderful end of the chapter. But I can't help wondering why she would bother... Mora has never been very forthcoming to his fellow Princes when it comes to secrets he holds. This one must be pretty shattering if Azura chooses to hold it so close to her breast.

What happens next?


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