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> Buffy - Book 2, The Cloud Dancers of Valenwood
Acadian
post Jun 24 2016, 02:12 PM
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Welcome to Book 2 and the continuing adventures of Buffy the Bosmeri mystic archer!

Buffy is a child of Tamriel, raised in Bravil and trained at the Arcane University. Her bigger story arc will eventually and magically cross temporal boundaries, enabling her to travel between the Third and Fourth Eras. Although Book 2 takes place in late Third Era Valenwood, Buffy's magicks and abilities reflect a blend of several games, with Skyrim being the most influential.

Near the end of Book 1, Buffy helped the man she loved, Savlian Matius, free his city of Kvatch. They were successful, but the terrible cost included Savlian's very life. It was a physically and emotionally broken bowgirl who retreated in grief and despair to her ancestral homeland. Book 2 picks up shortly thereafter and chronicles Buffy's journey of recovery and self-discovery through Valenwood.

Book 1 (in both its staggering 176 episode entirety and an executive summary conveniently distilled to 1650 words) is available in my sub forum. That said, enjoying Book 2 does not really require more information than is contained right here in these few introductory paragraphs. For those not familiar with Buffy's long history, reading the executive summary is a nice overview - but not critical for those who wish to just jump right in here. I have taken care within Book 2 to have Buffy review significant aspects of her past as they become relevant.

The Valenwood we depict will certainly be recognizable to those familiar with its lore, but I have taken some geographic and cultural liberties. While forests and jungles are plentiful, we have extended the rolling prairies of Anvil's Gold Coast across the Strid River into the northern portion of Valenwood. Among our several cultural departures from Bosmeri lore, the most significant is that there is no Green Pact in Buffy Fiction. While Bosmer certainly revere nature, they gratefully use both its flora and fauna as needed - restricted primarily by a deep revulsion to wasting nature's precious gifts. This is the same philosophy that Buffy learned as a child from her archery master, Daenlin, as described in Book 1.

Buffy's is a character-driven tale and our focus is on the journey more than the destination. I estimate that, at one episode per week, the book will take roughly six months to post. My fervent hope is that you find our humbly-offered efforts worthy of your time.
* * *

~ Prelude ~


Episode 1

Spooked by small tremors beneath his hoofs, a young buck bolted from the moonlit meadow into the surrounding forest.

The ground’s slight quivering soon grew into a quiet rumble from deep beneath its surface. Despite the significant disturbance, it was but a tiny seedling that gently pushed aside the soil until it could unfurl into the night air. Once free, it quickly grew into a young sapling of about the same height as a person. A pair of opposing branches reached out to become arms. The trunk transformed into a feminine torso with two legs. Roots broke free from soil taking the shape of feet. Leaves grew into robes.

The resultant woman slipped her hood back upon slender shoulders, revealing olive skin and a softly featured face. Hair, the color of the loam from which she had risen, was gathered into a rather matronly low ponytail that trailed down her back. Eyes, dark as those of a doe, radiated love and compassion. She lifted her gaze and slowly rose toward the stars.

High enough in the same night sky to nearly touch Masser and Secunda there floated another robed figure. Her coloring was pale. The strong Nordic face was framed by a mane of freely flowing golden hair. Eyes the color of a bright afternoon sky carried wildness and a trace of sadness. She spread her robes into white wings and gently glided downward.

The Nirn Mother and Sky Goddess met atop a cloud and briefly embraced.

With a downward glance from Mara, a table along with three chairs grew from the cloud’s surface. “Will you do the honors, sister?”

Kynareth passed a hand over the table, causing an elegant tea service for three to appear. She looked to the east. “Do I see the slightest hint of light from the horizon?”

“I believe so,” replied Mara.

The two Divines waited quietly as they stood side-by-side, focusing their gaze eastward toward the promise of a new day.

When the grip of night could no longer restrain the sun and the earliest golden beams began to spill across the sky, a butterfly danced up over the edge of the cloud that served as tea platform. On pale green wings the tiny creature fluttered to a hover in front of the Divines.

If there was any warning or display of spellcasting, the blink of an eye would have missed it as the butterfly simply and instantly transformed into a third robed woman.

“Welcome, cousin,” said Mara.

The new arrival slipped back her hood, glanced down at the cloud vapors swirling around her feet then surveyed the scene. Unlike the white robes worn by Mara and Kynareth, the Goddess of Twilight’s robe was black, as was her severely restrained long silken hair. Emerald eyes conveyed the enigmatic blend of light and darkness that was her realm. Voluptuous ruby lips contrasted with her sharply angled cheekbones, gaunt face and creamily pale skin. Her exotic look was complemented by human-sized ears that each rose to a delicate point. “Mara, so nice to see you again. You also, Kyne. . . or is it Kynareth I understand you’re calling yourself these days?” Azura’s smile did not reach her eyes.

The two Divines, however, smiled graciously. “I am called Kynareth now. Thank you for coming. Tea?”

The three immortals sat. As Mara filled their cups, Kynareth asked, “I trust all is well in Moonshadow?”

“I believe you both know I can only leave it briefly twice a day during twilight. I presume you did not ask me here for tea and small talk?”

If the Divines took slight it did not show as Mara replied, “You are right of course, so I’ll get directly to the point. We need your help to foil Mehrunes Dagon’s pending plans of conquest.”

Azura lifted an eyebrow. “Go on.”

Mara took a deep breath. “I’m sure you realize that Dagon is only pausing after Kvatch. Now that he knows he can open portals from the Deadlands, he is doubtless engaged in the slow task of procuring and inscribing many more morpholiths into sigil stones. Meanwhile, his cultists relentlessly hunt for Martin Septim, hoping to snuff out any chance of relighting the protective Dragonfires. When Dagon has completed enough of the stones, we are sure he will unleash scores of his Daedra-spewing portals. . . no offence, mind you.”

“None taken, cousin,” Azura replied icily, “but why should I care about any of this?”

“Two reasons,” said Mara. “As Dagon opens more portals, his plague will spread across all of Tamriel, replacing your cycles of dawn and dusk with a permanent Oblivion sky.”

“Well, I concede you have a point.” Azura straightened slightly in her chair. “You mentioned a second reason that I should be concerned?”

“Yes,” stated Mara, “that brings us to an elf named Buffy who carries something we need.”

Azura’s eyes flashed concern, then anger. “What does my Slayer have to do with this?” Her tone was threateningly protective. “You Divines claim to care about mortals, yet you ignore their daily plight.” Emerald eyes glared at Kynareth with contempt. “As soon as Buffy’s mother, Marian, realized a new life grew within her, she asked you to be godmother to her child. And you ignored her.” Azura’s ire shifted to Mara as she continued. “Turning to the so called Goddess of Love, she received the same silent response. In desperation, Marian made her plea to the rising sun on the following morn. I did not ignore her.”

Azura seemed to compose herself somewhat as she lowered her cup to the table and continued, “Indeed, I was intrigued by the prospect. That I am poorly equipped for such a task did not deter me. It is my hand of faith that touched the tiny elf at the moment of her sunrise birth. I heard her first fitful, crying breaths. As I watched her grow from a distance, I confess the little urchin. . . touched something within me. I found myself often taking the innocuous form of a twilight butterfly in order to observe the mer-child more closely. The concept of love is a foreign one to my kind but, over time, I believe that is exactly what I began to feel for this young elf as I watched her stumble and scrape her knees, get teased by human children about her small size and large ears, drop her clothes at every waterhole and dance with butterflies. Sometimes she quite unknowingly even danced with me. I question whether you lofty Divines actually know what it means to love a child?”

The Goddess of Twilight clearly expected no answer as she continued, “Buffy’s bow kept her alive as she blossomed into young maturity. When she needed a means of replenishing its magic, who provided the answer in the form of an artifact that would help? I did. When love drew her toward mortal danger at Kvatch, who arranged for Lord Peryite to provide her the training needed to survive the Deadlands and fight Daedra? I did. When she prayed to each of you for comfort after her body and heart were broken mere months ago, what response did she get?” Azura’s words dripped with disdain for the pair of Divines as she answered her own question, “The same silence you gave her mother.”

“Your points are well taken, cousin,” replied Mara gently. “We Divines are skilled with creation, but our efforts to intervene directly with the affairs of mortals have led to disaster more often than not. At best, our ability to communicate directly with them is vague and tenuous. Even those who devote themselves to us in priestly service struggle to understand our intent. As a Daedra Lord, you must also realize that when you effectively claimed this child at birth, you quite fettered our already limited ability to communicate with or even influence her.”

Azura's eyes and tone softened noticeably. “I lack your skill with creation, cousins. And my passions sometimes lead to . . . regrettable results when dealing with mortals as well. But unlike you, I don’t shy from the need when it arises.”

It was Kynareth who spoke next. “It seems clear, ladies, that cooperation might be appropriate here.”


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mALX
post Jun 24 2016, 05:39 PM
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Wow, this was a fascinating and totally unexpected beginning to Book 2; Buffy's importance in the realms is going to be made much clearer than we knew of her in Book 1! This is Awesome, the idea of Azura taking Mara (who I know Buffy "worships") to task over her!

Awesome write, this was amazing!




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SubRosa
post Jun 24 2016, 06:04 PM
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I was uncommonly tickled to see Kynareth and Mara being described as the Nirn-Mother and Sky-Goddess. Kynareth especially made a fantastic entrance. Since they are waiting for the first glimmer of twilight, that could only mean one other is on the way.

Im sure you realize that Dagon is only pausing after Kvatch.
And now we know exactly when this is set

Just who I expected. smile.gif You gave us a wonderful description of the not only the abilities, but also inabilities of both Divine and Daedra. I did not fail to note how you framed those strengths and weaknesses in opposition to one another. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that acting in concert is in all their best interests. I am sure we will be seeing that subject broached in our next episode.




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hazmick
post Jun 24 2016, 07:12 PM
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Excellent start. Interesting take on the divines and daedra, and 3 very different but wonderfully described ladies.

It seems Buffy still has a part to play in Tamriel's future, and of course ol' Mehrunes is still up to no good. I'm very much looking forward to it. happy.gif


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ghastley
post Jun 24 2016, 08:41 PM
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"You worship the Nine Divines, perhaps? Have they ever helped or harmed you? Of course not. Now, worship a Daedra Lord, and you get effects... bad ones, of course, but clear and measurable effects." Ulene Hlervu.

I see much the same logic here. The Aedra have limited ability to affect the now, having used it all up at the start. The Daedra did nothing to begin with, but can at least do something in the present. Except that most of what they can do is limited to their own realms, unless invited to act elsewhere, such as at their shrines. Mara and Kynareth can invite Azura to be their operative, and do things they can't, so they do have more power together.

Hmmm....



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Andrea
post Jun 25 2016, 12:50 PM
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Although I confess I still have yet to finish book 1, I got sucked right into this Prelude!

The Idea of Mara, Azura and Kynareth having a delightful cup of tea tickled me in a good way. Discussing the possible destruction of Nirn at Dagons hand, whilst drinking a cup of earl grey... PERFECTION!

I'm really excited to see where this story goes... seems like Buffy is worth more to these immortals than she origionally thought tongue.gif
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Darkness Eternal
post Jun 27 2016, 03:29 PM
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The three godesses and Buffy! What a privilege to be among these deities! This was very interesting. The differences between Kynarath and Mara and Azura is noticeable, and it extends beyond the color of their robes.

Heh, and Azura is mighty protective of her Slayer! So, Dagon's vile deeds have been noticed by the immortals.

This is great.


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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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Grits
post Jun 29 2016, 07:00 PM
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I loved the ultra-feminine sparring match over tea in the clouds! The two Divines and their Daedric cousin had me in absolute thrall throughout. Episode 1 answers the future question “But why don’t they just…” before it can become a distraction in the story, which is excellent and I’m taking notes. biggrin.gif I felt for Buffy’s mother Marian without even needing to hear what the problem was.

I think you did beautiful justice to all three immortals, but I am in awed delight over Kynareth. Her appearance made my Nord’s heart sing. wub.gif


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Acadian
post Jul 1 2016, 03:02 PM
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During Episode 1, Mara and Kynareth invited Azura to join them for tea and a discussion about Mehrunes Dagon’s pending plans for invasion. We learned that, somehow, Buffy seems to have a role to play. We also discovered that (unknown to Buffy), Azura is her godmother.

mALX- Thank you – Book 2 has been a long time in the making, no? Perhaps that is good, for it has given Buffy and I time to blend Oblivion and Skyrim in a way that makes sense for her.

SubRosa- So glad you enjoyed our portrayal (so far) of the three disparate goddesses. Thanks for highlighting what I hoped you would – Divines are good at creation, whereas Daedra Lords are good at directly influencing the here and now.

hazmick- Thank you! Buffy’s role in Tamrielic history is as a minor facilitator - a mere footnote in history. She was essential to Kvatch regaining its freedom, for example, but history will record her simply and anonymously as ‘the elven scout’ who helped Captain Savlian Matius close the first Oblivion Gate.

ghastley- I laughed at your game quote about the Aedra and Daedra – but that is pretty close to my view. Thank you. I credit you and McB with the inspiration to actually portray the immortals as fully inflicted with the concerns, trepidations, emotions and drama associated with mortals – real personalities as it were. We all knew Azura was capable of some serious vengeance, but who knew that a tiny elfling could unknowingly teach a Daedra Lord to love?

Andrea- No worries on Book 1. The bite-sized (~1600 word) executive summary in my sub forum will bring you up to speed – as will Buffy during her in progress recollections here in Book 2. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement!

DE- Thanks! It has occurred to me for a long time that even though Buffy - born at the exact moment of sunrise - has no idea that Azura is her godmother, the two have quite a bit in common. Both dance between darkness and light, wear their emotions on their sleeves, and are capable of strong passions that drive them to action - for better or worse.

Grits- I so appreciate your kind words. You nailed it about the gods – they have limitations and don’t even necessarily play well together. Happily, immortal limitations also affect the more evil ones – as we learned, it will take Dagon quite some time to craft enough sigil stones to kick off the Oblivion Crisis in earnest. In fact, it will take him about as long as it does for us to complete Book 2. wink.gif

* * *

Episode 2

“Cousin Azura, you asked why the impending crisis will affect Buffy,” stated Kynareth. “You must know that once Dagon begins opening portals in large numbers that the young Septim’s Orsimer champions – what are their names again, sister?”

“Sir Mazoga and Grand Champion Agronak gro-Malak.” There was a hint of chastisement in Mara’s voice as she added, “And the young Septim, as you call him, has a name as well – it is Martin.”

“Oh yes,” continued Kynareth. “The large green pair will, of course, valiantly attempt to close all those Oblivion Gates and, ultimately, try to protect their emperor against Dagon himself. I know that your elf considers herself broken at the moment, but how do you suppose she will react as she learns that her close friend, Sir Mazoga, is up to her broad shoulders in danger?”

Azura nodded soberly. “Then you must stop Dagon, for mortals alone cannot defeat him. Nor can I. While there is neither loyalty nor trust among Daedric Princes, we are precluded from acting directly against one another without a majority concurring. To gain such agreement is akin to herding cats and has not occurred since we long ago agreed to split Sheogorath into his two disparate halves so they could annoy one another instead of the rest of us.”

“That brings us back to Buffy,” said Mara. “She holds one of the keys to defeating Dagon.”

“Are you daft or simply not listening?” growled Azura. “I’ve no doubt she will once again be a potent Slayer of vampires and daedric minions, but she has no hope against a Daedra Lord!”

“On that you are quite right,” answered Mara. “To banish Dagon will require Akatosh himself to transform into his dragon avatar.”

“The Dragon God?” mused Azura. “Yes, I suppose the might of his winged form could perhaps defeat Dagon. As it seems like you Divines have the matter well in hand, I fail to see how this involves me or my Slayer.”

“Akatosh is unable to change into his dragon form, thanks to my stupid curse,” confessed Kynareth rather sheepishly. Azura’s peevishly lifted eyebrow prompted the Divine to continue, “Do you recall the great dragon war?”

“Of course,” replied Azura.

“I was known as Kyne at the time and, in order to help the Nords battle Alduin and his ilk, we Divines allowed them to learn some of the very voice magic that dragons used against them. When that alone proved insufficient, I created the Order of the Ice Dragons - powerful and noble creatures, ridden by paladins of indomitable spirit and determination. Alas, Alduin and his corrupted dragons – many ridden by dragon priests - vastly outnumbered my valiant defenders. The last to fall was Phantom and her rider, Sir Acadian. It was brother Akatosh who, with help from the Nords, an Elder Scroll and folding time upon itself, was finally able to at least temporarily banish Alduin.”

“You mentioned a curse,” reminded Azura as her long crimson fingernails drummed silently against the tabletop of cloud. “I don’t have all day, you know.”

“Yes, as you keep reminding us,” continued Kynareth. “Without the malevolent leadership of Alduin, the remaining dragons dispersed to their more reclusive ways. Many were hunted down and killed by the Nords. Not comfortable with the temporary nature of Alduin's banishment, I eventually lent some permanence to the arrangement by cursing dragons such that they could never again appear in Tamriel. I exempted only my magnificent ice dragons, and the curse cannot be lifted unless one of them somehow takes to the sky once more. Since they all perished, I believed the curse would effectively be unbreakable. At the time, I did not realize my actions precluded even Akatosh from assuming his dragon form. A Divine curse is a double edged sword; once initiated, it cannot be changed or undone - not even by the Divine who created it. Though Phantom’s presently only a spirit, she is the only hope of breaking my curse that we have.”

“I am well-familiar with this Phantom and Acadian you speak of,” replied Azura. “Through magicks beyond my ken, they have existed within Buffy, even before she was born.”

“We know,” replied the two Divines, their voices echoing in unison.

“As I told you,” said Azura, “I was ill-equipped to assume the role of godmother that I promised Buffy’s mother. I learned, in many cases, by making mistakes. When I forced the role of Slayer onto her small shoulders for her own good, I was surprised when she did not embrace it. I realize now that by not giving her a choice, her rebellious reaction was completely predictable. Much of what else I have managed to learn has come from carefully observing the example of those who care most about her and have helped her grow. Their names include Daenlin, Kud-Ei, Boderi Farano. . . most influential of all, however, has been the paladin who travels within her. From each of them I have learned that young ones entrusted to us should be nurtured but not overly controlled. For it seems the mistakes I would want to shield her from are the very experiences from which she has learned the most. I have had to develop the counterintuitive ability of restraining my inclination to intervene.”

“It seems you have learned the love of a mother for her child,” offered the Goddess of Love.

“Perhaps I understand it better than you, cousin.” The rising sun behind Azura now framed her in a golden aura. She leaned back slightly as if basking in its glow and closed her eyes. After a few moments, she reopened them. “I must soon return to Moonshadow until dusk. If I were to help, what would you have me do?”

Kynareth replied, “We need your skill at. . . directly influencing the affairs of mortals. If Phantom could once again materialize into a dragon and fly – even briefly – that would break the curse. We believe her spirit still contains quite a bit of draconic magic. No doubt it will be complicated. Acadian is the key, for both Phantom and Buffy will readily respond to him up to the full range of their ability. The paladin, however, will be loathe to allow the unpredictable risks and consequences to both his elf and dragon that such a transformation might entail.”

“Acadian places the needs of his elf above all else,” declared Azura. “For exactly that reason it is Buffy who is the key, not her paladin.” She gazed at the Divines for a moment, her face inscrutable. “I expect I can arrange something.” As Azura rose from the chair, she bid, “Farewell, cousins.” Her words still hung in the air as the two Divines found themselves, once again, staring at a butterfly. On pale wings, the Mistress of Moonshadow fluttered east until disappearing into the morning sun.

“You know, sister,” remarked Mara soberly, “if Azura is successful in helping to break your curse, it will only be a matter of time before Alduin reappears.”

“Let us deal with one crisis at a time,” replied Kynareth.

~ End of Prelude ~


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ghastley
post Jul 1 2016, 04:00 PM
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QUOTE(Acadian @ Jul 1 2016, 10:02 AM) *

To gain such agreement is akin to herding cats and has not occurred since we long ago agreed to split Sheogorath into his two disparate halves so they could annoy one another instead of the rest of us.”

And this from the only one possibly capable of it! Herding cats, I mean. She does have more influence over Tamriel's feline race than any other.

I like the implication that all this leads directly to TES V's events. That's way more story than Bethesda managed.


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SubRosa
post Jul 2 2016, 04:35 PM
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How right that it would be Mother Mara who knows the names of every living being on Nirn. While to Kynareth they are simply "those green ones". smile.gif

“I don’t have all day, you know.”
This was a nice admission to the Goddess of Twilight's very real time constraints!

Kynareth's dragon curse was a stroke of genius! Not only does it help explain away some of Bethesda's history, but it also presents us with an immediate concern to focus the story upon. The unforseen consequences of it reminds me of Maleficent, and how even she could not lift her own curse.

How delightful to see that Azura has learned the wisdom of parenthood. That one has to let ones children make mistakes, because that is the only way they can learn not to make those mistakes! I have always found her to be the most interesting of all the Deadric Princes(s), because she is the only one who wants to be loved by her followers.

And a lovely - and ominous - ending note. Only a matter of time indeed...

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Jul 2 2016, 06:04 PM


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Lopov
post Jul 2 2016, 04:52 PM
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Great prelude, Acadian, I enjoyed reading about the meeting of the Divines and how they play an important role in the life of the little Wood Elf. Mara made Azura an "offer" she couldn't refuse after hearing out two main reasons why their cooperation is necessary.

I plan to read the next chapter later on.

This post has been edited by Lopov: Jul 3 2016, 05:13 PM


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hazmick
post Jul 3 2016, 01:34 AM
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Sounds like the divines have a plan. All they need now is for Buffy to swoop in and save the day so they can all be home by bedtime. Easy peasy. biggrin.gif


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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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mALX
post Jul 3 2016, 02:46 PM
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FINALLY!!!! The story of Phantom and Acadian !!!!!


KABOOOOOOOM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


*mALX's head explodes*



I was just about to ask if this was TES Lore or Buffy Lore when you popped out with Phantom and Sir Acadian, laugh.gif


I have been dying to know how Buffy ended up being so important to the other realms where gods and Daedric Lords preside! How she became God-Daughter to gods; etc. This is AWESOME !!!


Oh, Holy Cow! Kyne cursed Akatosh! This is great stuff!


QUOTE

“It seems you have learned the love of a mother for her child,”


D'Awwwwwww!!!!!


Ooh, ominous foreshadowing in the last two paragraphs!


Awesome !!!!





QUOTE(ghastley @ Jul 1 2016, 11:00 AM) *

QUOTE(Acadian @ Jul 1 2016, 10:02 AM) *

To gain such agreement is akin to herding cats and has not occurred since we long ago agreed to split Sheogorath into his two disparate halves so they could annoy one another instead of the rest of us.”

And this from the only one possibly capable of it! Herding cats, I mean. She does have more influence over Tamriel's feline race than any other.

I like the implication that all this leads directly to TES V's events. That's way more story than Bethesda managed.



Agree with everything you said here!






This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 3 2016, 02:49 PM


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Lopov
post Jul 3 2016, 05:16 PM
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Great backstory as we learn why Buffy's role is more than important in the coming storm. The three divines in the prelude are portrayed in a more interesting way than in some official TES books. Seems that events in Oblivion and Skyrim will be inevitably intertwined.


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Darkness Eternal
post Jul 3 2016, 07:59 PM
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I recall Buffy had some time with Mazoga didn't she? Fun moments! The green pair will be quite a formidable force. Orcs are not to be trifled with, especially if one is a knight and the other a grand champion of the arena.

Godmother Azura . . . don't know if this is a blessing for Buffy or something else.

How great to her Alduin and the dragons- Ice Dragons certainly sound awesome. Akatosh having relations to the Dragon War and Skyrim's storyline is just great . . . and Buffy will be a part of it as far as I know. This is all just connected in such a way that Buffy has a touch of destiny upon her. Azura knows Buffy is formidable against monsters and Daedric creatures, but to face a Daedric Lord is precarious indeed.





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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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Acadian
post Jul 8 2016, 01:14 PM
Post #17


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



In Episode 2, which concluded our Prelude, we learned that the Divines’ plan for dealing with Mehrunes Dagon involves Akatosh assuming his dragon avatar. The wyvern in the ointment here is an ancient curse levied by Kyne back in the Merethic Era after the Dragon War that prevents the appearance of all dragons - save her beloved ice dragons. It seems the only way the curse can be broken is if one of these creatures somehow once again takes to the sky. Trouble is, the only known remaining ice dragon is the spirit of Phantom who travels bound to Acadian within Buffy. The Divines have asked Azura to use her considerable skill at influencing the affairs of mortals to help break the curse.

ghastley- Thank you for your insight and kind words. I confess I did wrestle long and hard trying to blend Skyrim’s ancient Dragon War, Oblivion’s pending crisis, and Skyrim’s future return of the dragons in a way that made sense for Buffy’s story. Dragons were a big challenge - since Phantom was part of Acadian and Buffy long before TES V was even announced.

SubRosa- Thanks for picking up on the personality quirks I tried to display among the three immortals. Gosh, I’m so pleased you liked the idea of Kyne’s dragon curse and how it relates to both Oblivion and Skyrim! I’ll unabashedly confess that I attribute much of how we see Azura to Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Maleficent in the movie of the same name – so I’m tickled as can be that you mentioned her! One of the significant decisions we wrestled with during our long sabbatical was the roles of the three immortals who appeared in the prelude. As you can see, it is Azura who emerged as a mother figure and Buffy's patron - even though Buffy doesn't yet know it.

Lopov- Thank you! I’m glad we were able to give the three immortals some personality while foreshadowing some of the bigger events to follow.

hazmick- Thanks! So all Azura has to do is arrange for an ice dragon to fly. Well, if anyone can manipulate things to make that happen, I suppose it is she. tongue.gif

mALX- It’s been a long time since we’ve touched on the history of Acadian and Phantom. Much of that time was spent figuring how to fit them into all the new lore that came with Skyrim in a way that made some sense. And now we know that Azura has been Buffy’s secret godmother for all her life. Poor Buffy will continue through all of Books 2 and 3 before learning the secret that we now know. Thank you!

DE- Thanks! Yes, Buffy and Mazoga are Errant Knight Sisters of the White Stallion. The Gray Prince gave up his Arena gig to become a White Stallion and the mate of Mazoga. The two orcs showed up to help Buffy and Savlian free Kvatch - where it became clear they were the champions that Martin Septim had seen in his dreams. Last time Buffy saw them, they (and Baurus the Blade) were escorting Martin from Kvatch to some secret safe place. Though Buffy will never be the champion or hero of anything, there is no denying her subtle aura of destiny that you mentioned.


~ Part 1 - Dragons Live Forever ~

* * *

Episode 3

No sooner had I finished singing than my audience of torchbugs began to disperse.

“Buffy, that was beautiful,” remarked Acadian.

“Thank you, my paladin. For everything.”

“Your images came through perfectly, as if we were there again, astride Superian and racing alongside that herd of wild horses south of the Imperial City when you were still a student at the University." After a moment he added, "While my ability to transmit such vivid memories is only via telepathic mind link, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that you have developed a similar talent via your singing voice.”

"Daenlin always told me that I have my mother’s singing voice," I mused. "The ability to share what's in my heart via song seems to be a combination of Acadian telepathy and illusory magicks."

Countless stars sparkled their homage to the twin fullness of Masser and Secunda that hung above the Valenwood sky. After loosening a vine around my waist, the simple tunic fashioned from a single giant leaf I wore fell into the grass and reeds at water's edge. The leather strip restraining my ponytail followed. I then slipped into the meadow's pond. A small number of playful fish investigated while I luxuriated in a cleansing swim. It had been several months now since the terrible day that freed Kvatch but cost the life of my Savlian. The patient support of Acadian, unconditional love of Superian, and verdant greenery that teemed with life, had all helped me grow beyond self-pity.

Or so I told myself.

As I surfaced, slicked back my hair and glanced around, I smiled to see that Superian had waded out to join me. She paused where the water touched her chest for a long drink.

The mare’s head lifted sharply - water trailing from her mouth - at the sound of a wolf’s call. It was close enough that I decided to cut our bath short. I mounted Superian in the water and, as she carried me ashore, another lupine howl pierced the air. Then another. They were getting closer. While I had been distracted by the soothing waters and beautiful night, it seemed a large pack of the predators had surrounded the small meadow. Much too nervous to dismount and recover my tunic or Superian’s tack, I simply grabbed my mage satchel off the tree limb from which it hung and slipped its shoulder strap over my head and one arm. We continued cautiously closer to the middle of the meadow.

I could now hear growls and see numerous pairs of golden eyes glowing back at me from the jungle that surrounded the pond and clearing on three sides. On the fourth side, however, forest with less ground cover and greater distance between trees beckoned. I turned Superian in that direction and we were off.

My mare was fast but, given her size and the need to avoid trees, the predators were able to keep up.

Although we could not outrun the wolves in this forest, I knew Superian could maintain her speed long after our hungry pursuers became exhausted. And even better, the trees were becoming smaller and fewer.

We had just begun to slightly open the distance when we fully emerged from the forest. Superian quickly accelerated to the full glory of astonishing speed she was capable of.

My hopes for our escape were suddenly dashed as the ground ahead became a black void in the moonlight. We were racing toward the edge of a cliff!

I could now hear the sound of crashing water far below. Superian’s speed almost certainly precluded stopping in time. As the other side of the gorge came into view, I feared the distance to safety was too great, even for my speedy mare. Superian made our choice as she powerfully launched us in attempt to leap the chasm.

We were halfway across when it became sickeningly clear that the brave mare’s attempt was futile. The distance was simply beyond the ability of any horse. With my heart in my throat and Superian’s momentum slowing, I glanced down at the angry white water battling large rocks far below.

I cried out, “Acadian, help us!” but had no idea what - if anything - my paladin could do at this point.

“Vensahliz.” Acadian’s urgently spoken word was unfamiliar to my long ears.

“TIID KLO UL!” The booming response literally thundered across the night sky in a powerfully deep but undeniably female voice. A goddess?

Suddenly, everything came nearly to a standstill. Superian’s mane no longer whipped my face; each white hair moved at a barely perceptible rate. Water droplets from the wet mare hung in the air, almost motionless as they glistened in the moonlight. The raging river far below seemed frozen in time. “Buffy, we only have a few seconds. Cling tightly to your mare – no matter what.” Acadian’s next words were not addressed to me. “Thank you, Vensahliz, for pausing time. I must call upon your aerial skill once more. I know there will be consequences, but I ask, old friend, that you do what you must to help us.”

At that point, everything careened back into full speed. As our downward momentum quickly overtook any lingering forward progress, I felt intense pain - as if a powerful spirit was being ripped from within me. The mare’s white mane transformed into a pair of long spikes – or horns perhaps - and her black coat was replaced by pale gray scales. I turned my head sharply at a strange sound behind me to see giant whitish wings unfurling. It was only then I realized that instead of my arms and legs being wrapped around the neck and bare back of my mare, I was clinging to the upper neck of a massive dragon that could only be Phantom - the long-dead mount of Acadian!

The pain had stopped, but certainly not my fear as the river below raced up at us.

Phantom’s wings flapped once and our descent slowed. Her long tail swung out to one side as those mighty wings attacked the air once again. Although her wingtips now spanned nearly the entire width of the canyon, her maneuver had brought us into alignment with the river so we had air instead of cliff wall ahead of us. The hungry rocks jutting up from the river like teeth were getting much closer, however, and white water now churned with a terrifying roar.

The dragon’s wings powerfully bit into the air again and, for the first time, I felt more like we were flying than falling. Another flap. I held my breath.

The spray of deafening white water filled my face, but we were skimming above it!

Phantom lifted her horned head slightly and, as her long-unused wings settled into a steady rhythm, we finally began to climb.

“Buffy, she is weak and will need to land soon,” warned Acadian.

Sure enough, at the first open area alongside the river, Phantom flared her wings and landed rather ungracefully. She lowered her head, allowing me to slip to the ground. I marveled as I stepped back to admire the massive creature.

The dragon's coloring ranged from gray to translucent blue to white. Her horned head alone was as large as Superian; its weight, along with that of her neck and chest, was awkwardly held off the ground by clawed hinge-joints midway along the leading edge of both partially folded wings. Two powerful legs, that supported the mass of her haunches, ended in feet tipped with talons as long as my arms. Counterbalancing her long neck, Phantom's tail trailed out for several horse lengths behind her on the ground before ending in the shape of an arrowhead. Her eyes were the color of mine, but glowed as if her body could not restrain the magic within. I managed to say, “Y-you are terrifyingly beautiful. Thank you for saving my life.”

Suddenly I recovered from being awestruck and demanded, “Acadian! Where is Superian?”


--------------------
Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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ghastley
post Jul 8 2016, 02:59 PM
Post #18


Councilor
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Joined: 13-December 10



Other people just write cliff-hangers, but Acadian leaps us off them! ohmy.gif

I like the way the "Slow Time" shout was used here. It affects all but the shouter, and so gives Phantom time to get in position for the rescue. Consistency with the game always makes these things work better.

But now I have the same question as Buffy.


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Mods for Oblivion and now Daggerfall and Skyrim. Fan fiction, too.
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Darkness Eternal
post Jul 8 2016, 09:11 PM
Post #19


Master
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Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



What I liked about this chapter is Superian. Her trusty mare has been with her as long as I remember, and was, is and will be a tremendous help to her. Namely, when taking her through the Valewood forest teeming with hungry wolves and other beasties. They make it past the forest and the company of trees to a sparser ground only to reach the edge of the cliff- and over! I won't lie. I was glued to the screen seeing what would become of Buffy and her horse, and was surprised at the use of the Voice and the beautiful dragon that came to Buffy's aid. But I find myself asking the same question as Buffy and Ghastly . . .

Where's Superian?

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Jul 8 2016, 09:12 PM


--------------------
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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mALX
post Jul 8 2016, 10:47 PM
Post #20


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN




OMG!!!! OMG !!!! Gobble ... Gobble ... OMG !!!!!!!!!!!!! This was the absolute best chapter of Buffy fiction EVAH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOLY COW !!!!!!!!! Gobble ... Gobble ... OMG !!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was amazing!!!!!!! I'm in awe!


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





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